All posts by rbowen

J Lohr 1999 Zinfandel, and a less-than-perfect restaraunt experience

Yummy yummy yummy.

We went to The Homestead for our company christmas party last night. Almost everything about the restaraunt experience was disappointing. Appetizers took 30 minutes. The meal took another *hour and half*!! Nobody’s steak was done correctly. Mine was way overdone. Maggie’s was way under done. At least 3 people (including me) got the wrong side items. And the replacement side item came as I was finishing up. Not one of them.

And then, to top it off, as we were doing our gift exchange – nearly 3 hours after we got there! – the owner came in and asked if we could relocate down to the lounge, where they had reserved some seats around the fireplace for us. Now, this turned out to be kinda nice, although very loud. However, we were being bumped because they had the room scheduled, and had taken more than 2 hours, total, to bring our food. The least they could have done is offer us free desserts or something.

This was a huge surprise, as I have always had good experiences there. They are sort of under new management, with one of the managers selling to his partner and moving on. I don’t say that’s the cause of it, but Mike was a fabulous manager, and knew more about wine than any restaraunteur (sp?) I have ever encountered.

But the wine was wonderful. J Lohr 1999 Zinfandel, and that’s just about all I know about it. $7 or so a glass, or $30 a bottle, so standard over-pricing. But very yummy. Earty and meaty, with a depth that could not be ruined by the steak.

I find that I’m gradually regaining my ability to talk about wine, but I seem to be remembering incompletely. The most enjoyable part of the evening was the folks that were there, and this far outweighed any unpleasantness. However, I get the impression that Chad was even more displeased than I was – as well he should be, since he paid, and I did not.

2001 Rosemount Estate Shiraz-Cabernet

Rosemount Estate
2001 Shiraz/Cabernet (55/45)
South Eastern Australia

This was enormously disappointing. I’ve long plugged Rosemount and their Grenache/Shiraz, which is always good. But this was just so very grapey. And for a Cabernet blend this young (sure, 2001 in Australia is earlier than 2001 in California, but still!) there is no tanin. It’s like this wine was made to drink immediately. Which is ok, if that’s what you’re going for, but this tastes like welches grape juice. Well, not quite, but it’s almost that grapey. It is slightly sparkling, which is also odd in a Shiraz/Cabernet, I think. I just can’t say much to commend it. It was ok with a well-seasoned spaghetti, but just in the sense that I like to have wine with spaghetti, and this is wine. It still had nothing to commend it, particularly/

I’d like to think that I just somehow got a crappy bottle, as I have never before had a disappointing wine from Rosemount, which is a consistent source of reasonably-priced solid wines. So don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself.

Wine cellar!

My business partner got me a Sunbeam 4.6 cu.ft wine cooler/cellar/refrigeration unit. I was just complaining that I was out of storage space, and when I walked into the office today, there it was sitting next to my desk. Wow. Plenty of space for what I have, and room to grow. Smoked glass front, so that I can see what’s in there – maybe even read the bottle tags. This is one of the nicest Christmas presents that I have gotten for many years.

LPLUG Christmas party

Today was the LPLUG Christmas party, which was, I think, a big success. It was well attended, and the speechifying did not drag on too long.

We also had a GPG key signing. Only 4 people participated, but others looked on curiously, which was, actually, the main purpose – to get people interested, asking questions, etc., so that next time we do this, we’ll have wider participation. Perhaps this could even be a regular part of meetings. It’s less time consuming when people know what is going on, and what they gain by having their key signed, and by signing others’ keys.

Spam filtering

This needs to be archived somewhere, or I won’t know how to do it next time.

OK, first of all, yes, I am running Sendmail. I have no particular animosity towards moving to postfix, or anything else for that matter, I have merely lacked the time. I suppose, however, that i have now spent more time on wrestling with Sendmail than it would have taken to migrate. That’s neither here nor there.

Note to self: Guy- on #apache will help integrating qmail with spamassassin if I decide to go that way.

The problem that I am trying to solve is spam filtering. Here’s the solution that I have in place at the moment.

I have two kind of email addresses – those that actually go to a local account, and those that are immediately forwarded out via an /etc/aliases entry. I currently have a good solution for the former, and a functional-but-annoying solution for the latter.

First, install spamassassin. It is at and is easy to install.

Second, have sendmail call spamassassin on all incoming email. This is accomplished, at least in my current scenario, via a /etc/procmailrc file containing the following:


  | spamc -u $LOGNAME -s 2048000

  * ^X-Spam-Status: Yes
      LOG="RECIPE: Blocked by SpamAssassin$NL"


This causes spamc to run as the user receiving the email. The -s specifies a maximum message size – larger messages are just passed through. This cuts down on enormous memory usage.

This causes all incoming email to get piped off through the spam filter. Note that spamd needs to be running for this to work.


For non-local accounts, this is harder. That is, for addresses that just have a forwarding entry in /etc/aliases, it seems that sendmail runs the forwarding phase before it gets to the procmail phase, so those addresses don’t get filtered. Here’s my solution, although I am *SURE* that there is a more elegant way to do this.

For these users, I’ve actually created a user acount. (I know, I know!) and in their home directory, I have the following .procmailrc file:



  * ^X-Spam-Status: Yes

  * ^To.*

Now, I *know* there’s got to be a better way to do this, so I’m waiting for all you find people to email me and tell me about it.

And, again for my own records, here’s what Guy- on #apache recommended

<Guy-> DrBacchus: i.e. something like |sh -c ' procmail -someswitch /etc/filter/procmailrc' or suchlike

Buy Nothing Christmas

Don’t dismiss it as a gimmick. This is worth reading, and worth thinking about, even if you do nothing about it.

I’ve been progressively more disgusted with our national obsession for buying gifts at a drop of a hat – not that it’s bad to give gifts, but that we are *obliged* to do so, and that we teach our kids to expect it, rather than teaching them to be surprised by the blessings that every day offers.

Yes, these people are strange, but that’s sort of the point. This should *not* be strange. Learn to see the wonder in every-day life, OK? I know it is there, and I would like to start seeing it again. This may involve doing some unconventional things, since the conventional things are often just plain wrong-minded.

Other wine blogs

I’ve located a number of other wine blogs. They all seem to be somewhat infrequent, but most of them seem better informed than I, so worth looking at. Here are some of them:

I’m sure there are others.

Ca’ del Solo, 2001 Big House White

The Ca’ del Solo Big House White is unusual for a number of reasons.

First of all, I have *never* had a disappointing wine from Ca’ de Solo, or their other label, Bonny Doon. Everything that comes out of there is unusual, unconventional, and wonderful.

The Big House White caught my eye because the Big House Red is wonderful, so I figured this would be too.

The bottle has a screw-top, which I actually did not notice until after I had bought it. It comes with a little pamphlet explaining why this is a good thing. Very interesting. And it has an amusing label, as do all the wines from this winery. This label features a picture of the Big House, with an escape in progress, and the getaway car speeding off.

And the wine itself is a rather unconventional blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Grigio.

I tasted it in less than condusive conditions, but even then it was intriguing. It is somewhat tangy, and had a medium finish with various melons, tropical fruit, and citrus hanging around once everything else fades. My initial impression was that it had rather more oak than I care for, but tasting it again now, I’m not really finding that any more, so this might have had more to do with what I was tasting it with.

The nose is a little hard to pin down. You can catch traces of all of the grapes in it, with the fruit of a riesling being prominent one moment, and the distinctive aroma of a Sauvignon (what some folks like to refer to as cat pee) surfacing at other times.

This is just an all-around good table white. It seems to me that it would be really good with crab or shrimp. And it’s got enough backbone from the pinots and sauvignon that you don’t really want it quite as cold as some folks are inclined to serve their whites – just slightly chilled.

But definitely don’t be scared off by the screwtop, and read the little pamphlet, so you can ridicule the barbarians who criticize you for bringing a screwtop. 😉

More talking computers

I had another experience with a speaking computer. I called to cancel a magazine subscription, and was immediately aware that I was speaking with a recording. I figured this meant that I would be able to get through the entire process without the tiresome task of convincing someone that I did indeed wish to cancel.

Alas, it was not to be, although I expect that the process was, overall, less painful than it would have been with a real person.

The computer first offered me two free months if I would reconsider. Then, it offered me a choice of several worthless trinkets if I would repent of my folly. Finally, it said that it would cancel my subscription at the end of the subscription year, rather than immediately, since that was probably what I had in mind.

At last, and grudgingly, it agreed to cancel my magazine immediately, and refund my money.

Now, when subjected to this kind of thing by a person, I always figured that it was their job, and they were just trying to get their bonus. But when a computer program does it, there’s just no excuse, and it was just annoying.

I also wondered what this does for employment. If one can, with one studio recording session, and a simple menu-driven script, replace a few dozen employees, surely this will happen in many call centers. Perhaps things like 411 will be replaced this way, since voice recognition appears to be sufficiently advanced now.