Monday, February 20, 2012

Feb 20, 2012 - President's Day Weekend

Three Day Weekend!
It was a really chilly weekend up there, which was quite a shock after Hawaii.. But I got to go see my niece and nephew play basketball so that was fun. We are in the prep time of the growing season right now. It is too cold to put any plants out so I am just keeping up with the weeds and checking the irrigation. Nick and I are going to start our seeds this week so we will see how that goes. Last year he had over 70+ sunflowers started but only about 10 made it until the goats ate them... i think he is going to try and start a lot more seeds than last year which should be interesting. 

One of my "volunteer" plants as my grandpa Bouttier would call them is a pea sprout and I got to eat a couple of them..

Also blooming right now are the daffodils that tend to spread and the flowering quince.

The bees were going nuts for the quince flowers!
I also wandered around and took pictures of the marsh area. This time last year we had so much water that most of the plants were not visible. Now the area is full of the horse tail plants and other marsh plants that only live where the ground is moist.
Marsh Area

Horsetail Bushes

This is a stump in the marsh area being slowly decomposed by the plants there..

My neighbor with the chickens sold me a few goose eggs as well this weekend. They are 2 times larger than the jumbo chicken egg it is sitting next too in the picture below. After I cracked it, you can see the huge yolk! That egg made as much scrambled eggs as 2 jumbo or 3 medium chicken eggs. It didn't taste that different...


Monday, February 13, 2012

I have a website now!

I guess this is official... I have signed up for a new website url and will start trying to learn how to use...

If you come to this site using the url, it will redirect you to the new site automatically. It is listed below if you want to change your bookmark..

What this allows me to do is start adding pages to the site with different topics, add email and even online ordering eventually. (When I have something to sell!) 

My email for this website is -

Any web designer or programmers who want to volunteer to help me would be appreciated! 

News Headlines about the Gold Country

For those of you in the Bay Area/Central California, you may have been following this story about the "Speed Freak" killers and how the one remaining in prison (the other committed suicide) has made a deal where he will get money to pay off the restitution to the families and some extra for candy bars, in exchange for a map of where the bodies are buried.
Both locations they are digging at, are well known to me... one is in Linden on Flood St. I drive by it on the way to the house and wonder if they ever had a flood and is that why they called it that name. The other is less than 4 miles down the road from my house on Gold Strike Road in San Andreas. I know there are people out there that do terrible things but I am always disturbed but the depths of the depravity of the human mind. I am glad that these families can finally know what happened to their loved one and give them a proper burial, but I am wondering why did it take this long? The guy is getting a total of $30,000 for this information. That is not much money, why couldn't we have paid it to him before? It is a conflict whenever you pay a monster like that, some see it as a reward for his crimes, and I agree if he were writing a book or something that might get him a lot of money. But this amount is chump change, with some of it going to the families and the rest he will use to buy cigarettes and candy in prison. If this is all it would have taken, it should have been done sooner.

Below are links to the maps of where this is happening:

Map 1 - Linden
Map 2 - San Andreas

And here is the article from

Monday, February 13, 2012 (SF Chronicle)
Central Valley killer's maps lead to more remains
Stephanie M. Lee

   From an old well on a Central Valley ranch Sunday, authorities unearthed
more remains of people they believe were slain decades ago by a pair of
convicted serial killers.
   One of those killers, awaiting execution on California's Death Row, has
provided deputies with detailed maps and instructions that have led them
to possible mass burial sites in Calaveras and San Joaquin counties.
Authorities believe they may yield clues to a dozen or more killings of
people who went missing beginning in the early 1980s.
   Sunday marked the fourth day of a search for evidence of those believed
slain by the "Speed Freak Killers," childhood friends Wesley Shermantine
and Loren Herzog, who went on a methamphetamine-fueled killing spree
across the Central Valley until their arrests in 1999 and subsequent
   For a third day Sunday, the focus was on a cattle ranch near the killers'
hometown of Linden, a small, rural San Joaquin County town 14 miles
northeast of Stockton. There, authorities were sifting through soil
excavated from the site of an abandoned, 35-foot-deep well. Among the
items found, they said, were skull fragments and bones of various sizes,
as well as a woman's ring engraved with a set of initials, some shoes, a
coat and a purse.
   "This is going to be a lengthy, tedious endeavor," said Deputy Les Garcia
of the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office.
   The apparent remains of two victims were discovered late last week in
Calaveras County.
   Using a map hand-drawn by Shermantine, authorities found a human skull
Thursday buried beneath rocks and leaves on a hillside in San Andreas
(Calaveras County), near the Shermantine family's old home on Leonard
Road, Garcia said. Partial skull found
   A forensic dentist preliminarily identified it as that of Cyndi
Vanderheiden, a 25-year-old from Clements (San Joaquin County), Garcia
said. Authorities are awaiting the results of a DNA test to confirm the
   On Friday, a quarter mile from the first site, authorities found a partial
skull with a complete jawbone, Garcia said. Those remains have not been
identified, but Paula Wheeler, 64, believes they belong to her 16-year-old
daughter, Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler, who disappeared in 1985.
   "Her body was where Shermantine said it was," the mother told The
Chronicle from her home in Crossville, Tenn., where she and her family
moved from Stockton in 2004. "She was wrapped in a blanket. There was
remnants of her sweatshirt that she had on."
   The years since then, Wheeler said, have been "pure hell." Bounty hunter's
   Shermantine and Herzog were both convicted of multiple murders in 2001.
Shermantine was sentenced to death, while Herzog received a sentence of 77
years. Herzog's sentence was cut to 14 years after an appeals court ruled
his confession was illegally obtained and tossed his first-degree murder
   In 2010, Herzog was released on parole. But neither killer had ever
provided information on the whereabouts of their victims.
   This month's search began after Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla
persuaded Shermantine to agree to a deal: help locate the bodies for
   Padilla said Shermantine would use $18,000 to pay court restitution costs.
The remaining $15,000 would pay for "a gravestone for his mom and dad, who
died during the whole madness, a computer, a TV, and ... candy bars for
the rest of his life," Padilla said.
   "They can't kill you twice," Padilla said he told Shermantine. "They can't
put two needles in your arm."
   In January, retired FBI Agent Jeff Rinek and other law enforcement
officials met with Shermantine in San Quentin after the inmate contacted
   "He said he wanted to help locate the victims, and I asked him why he was
doing this," Rinek said. "And he said he was doing this because of the
fact that Loren Herzog had been on parole for a year and had never
contacted him. And secondly, he mentioned his arrangement" with Padilla.
Disclosing locations
   Rinek had hoped Shermantine could be allowed out of prison to lead
authorities to the sites. But when that plan was stopped, Shermantine
instead scribbled maps and a letter that disclosed the locations of the
victims, Padilla said.
   When San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore obtained the maps and
information, the search was scheduled. Before it got under way, however,
Padilla told Herzog that his ex-partner planned to reveal where they had
buried bodies. In mid-January, Herzog hanged himself.
   Padilla says Shermantine has told him the burial sites he has identified
could turn up as many as 30 bodies. Shermantine also said one of them
could be Michaela Garecht - a 9-year-old Hayward girl who disappeared in
1988, Rinek said.
   Shermantine has suggested Herzog is the man who abducted Michaela.
   The search for evidence at the sites is expected to continue for some
time. Sheriff's spokesman Garcia said Sunday that teams will next begin
digging at the site of another well a quarter mile east of the first near
   "We're going to be here for days for sure," he said.
   Meanwhile, the victims' families are counting the days until they hear
news that might let them properly bury their long-lost loved ones.
   "We're just kind of sitting and waiting," said John Vanderheiden, 70, the
father of Cyndi Vanderheiden. "And maybe now we will have closure." 'Speed
Freak Killers' timeline
   1999: Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog are arrested in connection with
several slayings dating back to the 1980s.
   2001: Shermantine is convicted of four murders and sentenced to death.
Herzog is convicted of three murders and sentenced to 77 years to life.
   2004: Herzog's sentence is overturned on appeal, and a new trial is
ordered; he agrees to a plea deal and shortened sentence.
   2010: Herzog is granted parole but lives on the grounds of the state
prison in Susanville (Lassen County).
   April 2011: Shermantine first offers to reveal details about killings in
return for release from prison.
   December 2011-January 2012: Shermantine begins providing information, then
maps, about locations of buried bodies.
   Jan. 16: Herzog commits suicide shortly after learning that Shermantine
was aiding authorities.
   Thursday-Friday: Remains believed to be those of Cyndi Vanderheiden and
Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler are found near San Andreas (Calaveras County).
   Saturday-Sunday: More human remains and other items, including clothing
and a ring, are found near Linden (San Joaquin County). Stephanie M. Lee
is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 2012 SF Chronicle

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Back from Hawaii!

I am back from Hawaii a couple of days early... I had a great time but the thought of coming in at midnight on Monday and trying to be at work on Tues was too much... so I got a flight out last night and I am back. My parents are still there and will be going on a dinner cruise around Diamond Head tonight as a last "hurrah" to their vacation.

We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki... it is a massive place with 6 towers, 4 or 5 pools, shops, beaches and bars. It was extremely busy and crowded with mostly Japanese and Australian tourists and kids everywhere.... 
Here are some pictures of the things we did around the hotel including a Segway tour and stand up paddle boarding, both of which were really fun!
Man-made Lagoon at the hotel

Paradise pool with 2 pools, 4 water slides, 2 Jacuzzis and 100's of kids

Sunrise from our first room on Tues

Shot of Waikiki strip from our room
Lepperts ice cream - right next to our hotel tower
Dad on Segway

Segway tour
Dad Stand-Up paddle boarding

Outside of the hotel I took the rental car and dropped the parents off at the USS Missouri tour and drove up towards the north shore. There was a really strong storm the first couple of days and it had drove up the waves to 20 feet in some places. Needless to say all the surfers were there risking it all to ride these monster waves. Taking pictures in that place is hard. They are way out there in the ocean where the waves are just starting to break and the sun is so bright! And one time the wind kicked up for a good minute or two and the gusts just sand blasted me... I had sand everywhere and I hadn't gone swimming!  Here are the pictures for ewa and waianae beaches... 
Waianae Beach
Waianae Valley

waianae valley

ewa beach
ewa beach

ewa beach

ewa beach

 There were so many out there trying to surf these waves!

The next day we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center over on the east side of the island. If you have never gone there and have a chance to, I would suggest you do it. It is run by the Mormon church but has a great area there with natives who are going to the school working there. I went a long time ago when I was 16 so it has been awhile...not much has changed just the performers. Here are some pictures from that..

Mom and Dad -Ready to go in

One of the performers making fire...

My Favorite Performer... yum!

Mom and Dad with the Fijians!

Hibiscus - they are everywhere on the islands
I know this has been a long post, but you know I was there 5 days and really didn't even post all my pictures. I had a really nice time and I want to thank my wonderful parents for inviting me and twisting my arm to say yes... 


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Facebook IPO and Social Media Impact

This is totally off topic, but Nick and I were talking during breakfast about Facebook going public and how it might affect our other stocks, particularly Zynga. I have invested in the stock market for awhile now, since my IPO days at BEA Systems and while I am not that active anymore I do still buy a little stock that I am interested in owning. Anyway, Nick is the early pioneer of social media, starting with a myspace account when he was 12 or so, and he has been on facebook for many years. It seems to be his main connection to the outside world with the messaging and wall posts. (That and texting, but that is another story.)
While discussing the newspaper article on Mark Zuckerberg,
( and stock strategy for our other stock,  he looked at me and said he deactivated his Facebook account last night. Just like that.  He thinks it is just too many people, knowing too much and getting too nosy. (Okay I extrapolated that last part, he will just say something like, I am tired of it... he is not a big talker.) This is something earth-shaking and I wonder if Zuckerberg got a shiver. 
Are people tired of the constant stream of information where you know everything about someone, but can't say you know them? 
I am not on Facebook because the one time I tried it, people I don't care to "friend" found my account really fast. Everyone said you can just "ignore" them but I can do that even better when I am not seeing the posts everyday about what they made for dinner or what cute thing their dog did or how much smarter, faster, taller, skinnier and cuter their kids are than other kids. If someone like Nick, who is the target market for Facebook at 19 years old is tired of it, what is the future for it?
I do have a blog, but it is written when I have time and something to share, and you can choose to read it or not.
Makes me wonder if Facebook has been too successful and if people are feeling exposed and  slightly vulnerable because of it? I know the Facebook IPO will be huge and we are holding on to our other stock because we think that this optimism and positive energy will lift the market overall, but it is something to think about. How much information is just too much and when does it become noise?

The only noise I expect to hear for the next week are happy ones on the beach on Honolulu. Aloha! Julie

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Going on a real vacation!

Hi All

I am taking a real vacation this week, not one where I work on the house and I am going to Hawaii!

I will be sure and take lots of pictures and post them for you when I get back.