Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I left the house before the sun came up, just to make sure I was one of those who got into the main auditorium for today's Apple Stockholder Meeting at Apple Headquarters in Cupertino.
Traffic moved along and I was there an hour before the doors of Building 4 opened. Already, there were people lined up in front.
Fortunately, it was a clear sunny day today, so we were not standing out there in the cold.
I got talking to two interesting men from Sebastapol who even made room for me to sit on their bench with them. Being of about the same "vintage," and with our love of all things Apple and a some tech backgrounds, we had a lot to talk about and the hour passed quickly. A woman standing next to us had flown up from Los Angeles this morning, taking a day off of work just for the meeting; she was heading back home in the afternoon. I also met local folk, a man from Delaware, another from Minnesota, all of whom planned today around attending the meeting. Everyone I talked with had a story about why they were here and how many Annual Meetings they had attended. It certainly was a meeting of the Clan of Apple.
At 9 a.m., the door were opened. We checked in, showing IDs and proof of stock ownership. Then we went through security.
Next it was coffee/tea muffins and bagels and another wait for the auditorium doors to be opened at 9:30 a.m. Those who arrived too late to have seating in the auditorium, got to watch a live screening in another part of the building.
The entire Board of Directors, minus Steve Jobs, was present...I was seated three rows behind them, so got to see Al Gore, among other Board members close up.
Tim Cook, COO, welcomed us and then turned the formal part of the meeting over to Bruce Sewell, Senior VP, General Counsel, and Secretary. Those of us who had not already voted on the matters presented for vote, got to do so; there was limited discussion before the vote was taken.
Then it was on to Q & A, with Tim Cook, Phil Schiller (Sr. VP, Worldwide Product Marketing) and Peter Oppenheimer (Sr.VP, CFO) on stage.
The Q & A period lasted about 45 minutes, with those asking questions given two minutes to speak. A few items of interest to me included a response to the question about Apple doing a 70/30% split with their Apps sellers while some other companies are doing a 90/10% split with their App sellers. Phil Schiller clarified this by stating that the only 90/10% split that the competitors are claiming has to do with website-use subscriptions. An example of this is that if you are already a subscriber to a magazine in print version and you decide that you also want to get it online, then, this is not an App, but a subscription and it would come directly from that publication's web site and Apple or Google or Amazon or whomever would have nothing to do with selling it directly to you; it would be the publication. Another interesting discussion had to do with work conditions at supplier facilities. Tim Cook stated that Apple, in the past five years, has done extensive investigation of work conditions at facilities in other countries and has taken significant remedial action and has been more transparent than any other company in reporting conditions and actions taken. He referred us to Apple's web site (see Investor relations section) to read reports from the last several years.
The meeting ended about 11:30.
I did a little shopping at the Company Store, which sells not only the merchandise that is sold in our local Apple retail stores but a lot of Apple logo clothing for men, women, and kids (even babies), and other miscellaneous Apple logo items.
This SMART car photo is an on-campus car, of which there must be several as there were several parking spots for them. Guess, they are for employees to travel from building to building on campus.
Of course, there were more news trucks just off the main campus than one could imagine. Apple events are always EVENTS.
And, the "One More Thing" that Steve Jobs often ends his public conferences with is that on March 2 (next week) there is a big media event at which there are sure to be some intriguing product announcements...stay tuned; perhaps a new iPad?
This Girl can Dream...
Monday, February 14, 2011
This past weekend it was That Time again...that special time when we get together with Arlene & Jim and Colesie & Frank to cook a meal together. As you regular readers know, we have been doing this for about 30 years...every few months, we get together at one of our homes and prepare a dinner.
The host makes the main course and the others bring first course and dessert. We eat, we drink, and we catch up...it keeps the friendship going...a special thing, for sure.
What I love about our group is that we have fun. The meal is not planned jointly ahead; each one just makes the course they are responsible for. So far, we've never all brought spaghetti, so, this plan does work.
Interestingly, this dinner took on an International theme, inspired by recent travels to Vietnam by Colesie and to South Africa by Arlene & Jim.
Before dinner, we enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and drinks and looked at the photo book Colesie had created to remember her Vietnam trip.
Arlene decorated the dining table with a huge bouquet of plum blossoms, fresh from her local Farmer's Market.
Colesie & Frank's first course was a refreshing Vietnamese salad with a delicious peanut dressing. To accompany the salad, we had seasoned fried WonTon skins.
Arlene & Jim's main course was a traditional South African dish: Bobotie, a "pie" of chopped beef and lamb mixed with raisins, almonds, apple, and South African spices, and topped with a custard. They served it with Jasmine Rice and Chutney for garnish.
For dessert, we made a Coeur a la Creme. It's a French dessert and Jim & I love France, even though we haven't been there in a few years. And, the Coeur is my favorite Valentine's Day dessert and this was Valentine's weekend. It's made with cream cheese, cottage cheese, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla, and molded in a heart shaped ceramic dish, specially designed for this dessert. We served it with a fresh raspberry sauce and some fresh raspberries.
We ate well, discussed the problems of the world, both present and future (will there be a day when we don't use money but pay with our smart phones?), and enjoyed the company of one another.
Looking forward to the next time...
Sunday, February 13, 2011
"The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" is a one-person, two-hour monologue performance created and performed by Mike Daisey.
Through the end of February it is being performed at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. If you haven't seen it yet, you have two more weeks before it closes.
As a longtime MacManiac, longtime Apple computer and all things Apple fan, as well as a former Apple employee, there was no way I was going to miss a play with Steve Jobs' name in its title.
Jim was a bit tentative about a two-hour monologue but agreed to go with me today. Throughout Daisey's engaging performance, neither of us even considered taking our eyes and ears away from the performance. It is totally captivating and also sobering.
Daisey tells parallel tales of the rise of Apple as a technology company under the leadership of Steve Jobs. He winds this part of his story around his own love of all things Apple.
The other side of his story is about Foxconn, the Chinese company where many Apple products, including the iPhone, and just about all the electronics manufactured by other companies are manufactured. Much of the assembly work is done by Chinese employees, some of them as young at 11 or 12 years old. The work conditions are the equivalent to that of indentured slavery or serfdom. Daisey tells his story of his visit to Foxconn and the people he met.
By the end of the play, I felt somewhat ambivalent about all things Apple as well as my light bulbs, TVs, and every other item that I consider essential to my daily life.
Even if you are an HP, Dell, Nokia, Sony or any other brand user, this is a not-to-miss play.
Daisey is entertaining, engaging, and he has a message to share.
See "The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs."
Saturday, February 5, 2011
I read a review of Table 24 in my local newspaper a few weeks ago and was intrigued.
The reviewer described this restaurant which opened in October in Orinda's Theatre Square as a wonderful new addition to family dining, with much the same spirit as the Chow restaurants in Lafayette, Danville, and San Francisco.
So, tonight, after a movie at the Orinda Theatre, Jim and I headed around the corner to Table 24. At about 6:30 p.m., the place was packed, both inside and out on the large patio.
Being just the two of us, we lucked out and got immediate seating at the counter which is always a fun experience. We were seated right in front of the open kitchen and I was next to the owner who was supervising the orders. We got to see just about everything on the menu.
We started our meal with a shared large Green Salad ($10.95), a delicious mix of baby greens, beets, onions, and pecan-crusted baked goat cheese. It was served to us on two plates, each with our own serving of baked goat cheese.
For my meal, I ordered the Fried Chicken with Mac 'n Cheese ($14.95). It was the perfect comfort food meal.
Jim chose the Grilled Chicken Club ($10.95), a beautiful and tasty sandwich on a Ciabatta bun (from local Metropolis bakery). The grilled chicken was garnished with bacon, avocado, gouda cheese, and lemon-tossed arugula. Sandwiches are served with a choice of French Fries, Yam Fries, Green Salad or Fresh Fruit. Jim chose the Fries.
Table 24 is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Brunch is featured on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. With families in mind, there are special menues for "Littles" (Children age 9 and under), where all lunch and dinner selections are priced at $5 and include a beverage and a scoop of ice cream, and "Middles" (Children ages 10 to 16), with lunch and dinner selections pirced between $3.95 and $6.95.
While we did not run into anyone we knew, it seemed we were in the minority. There is lots of meeting and greeting at Table 24 and it seems to be a favorite of large family groups.
If I can find one or two people to share with me, the next time I return, I want to try the Molten Cheddar Cheese Fries, a huge platter of French Fries, topped with melted cheese and chives. It is heated in the big 500-degree wood burning oven where the pizzas are made. Other dishes that caught my eye include the big Niman Ranch Beef Burger, the Grilled Fish Sandwich, The Grilled Cheese Sandwich (three cheese blend with tomatos on parmesan-encrusted brioche bread), the daily fish (on a bed of seasonal vegetables), any of the pizzas, and the Pasta Goombatz (sausage and crimini mushrooms on pasta). If I was a Little kid, I'd order the Hot Dog, which comes with fries, fruit, or broccolini.
It's nice to have another high quality, casual, American restaurant close to home.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Last week, Melia and I headed to Teance in Berkeley, in the busy Fourth Street shopping district, for a "formal" tea tasting.
Teance's business is primarily a wholesale and online tea and tea accessory business, based in Emeryville, California.
This Fourth Street location is its only retail outlet.
In addition to its lovely store, with tea pots and other accessories attractively displayed and a central water "shower" garden in the center, Teance has a tea bar at the back of the shop. The circular tea bar is a work of art in and of itself; it is 10 feet of circular concrete, cast in a single pour and embedded with semi-precious gemstones and fossils.
It is at the bar where we did our tasting. This formal tasting, priced at $18 per person, consists of tasting three teas of your selection from a large tea menu. (there is an added cost to taste some special rare teas, but most of the tea menu selection is not the rare tea).
Before and while tasting, our server guided us through our selections and talked with us about the teas that we sipped. We evaluated the taste, observed the color of the brewed tea, and generally immersed ourselves in the tea experience. Each tea was resteeped several times. It was a delightful way for Melia and me to visit.
On weekends, Teance offers some tea snacks on its menu. But, during the week, it is just tea. Wanting that little something to eat with our tea, I dashed next door to the Pasta Shop Markethall to buy several fancy chocolate bars, some of which were infused with tea, just to keep in theme.
While Teance was not overly busy during the more than two hours that we spent there, there was a steady stream of customers. Some come in just to buy loose tea or a tea accessory. Others joined us at the bar to enjoy a pot of tea. A single tea tasting costs $7 (rare tea tasting is $15 per tea). We were the only ones doing the tasting of three teas.
My favorite tea was the Lichee Red Premium which I had to purchase to take home to continue enjoying. That's what I'm sipping as I write this blog post.
Teance is a beautiful and calming place to enjoy tea, conversation, and an escape from this bustling shopping district.