shannon_a: (Default)
Last Saturday I managed a hiking trip that I've been wanting to do for a while: I explored Sibley Park.

It's a tricky trip because there's no particular good transport up to Sibley. I've been through the park any number of times, but it was always on the way from somewhere to somewhere else. I knew that if I hiked up there, explored for a few hours, then hiked back, it would be a pretty busy and tiring day (and it was).

I hiked in from the north and cut over to the Quarry Road, a pedestrian-only paved road that's all but invisible on the Sibley maps. From there my initial goal was the Ponds Trail. I always love lakes up and ponds up in the wilderness, and these were decent-sized ones, so I looked forward to them.

Except they were perhaps the most disappointing ponds I've ever seen. Oh, I've seen brackish ponds and little mud pools. But these were entirely filled with reeds. You pretty much couldn't see the water at all. The high point was actually passing by a dozen cows partly blocking the path. I don't usually pass that near by the cows out in the local parks, but I was cautious, and they seemed pretty casual.

There was a picnic table out by the ponds, and I did stop to write there. There was a bit more foliage than I like, so I carefully looked around for snakes before sitting down. Then I wrote an article, listened to the incessant hum of highway 24, which I'd been hearing for the last hour or more, and didn't look at the pond. On the way out I passed by the cows again, and then found the long black snake I'd been looking for over at the picnic table, blocking my path. I stared at it for a while. It refused to move. I thought, this is a really stupid snake that doesn't move off a path that cows tromp around. I stared at it for a bit more then carefully edged around behind it. It never moved.

(Stupid snake.)

After that I headed toward the back of the park. There were lots of high-looking hills there, and I was eager to ascend them. Eventually I ended up on the Volcanic Trail, and finally I got to see signs of the ancient volcano there at Sibley.

Most of the sign is basalt rocks that have been thrown here and there, plus some very red tufts. They were actually pretty cool to see, and I'd thrown my Sibley map in my backpack, and it had all the info on the 11 major, marked volcanic locales in the park.

Two of them were actually old quarries, where people dug out the volcanic rocks. One was just a little cul de sac, but the other was a larger area ... which turned out to actually be the original interior of the Round Top volcano. Cool!

Kimberly had once told me she remembered Sibley as being pretty barren, and I now see that it was the back of the park the she was talking about. But I soon circled back to to the more forested areas near the front, and then there was a refilling of water bottle at the staging area, then a mile or so walk down a road, until I could drop down into Merriewood, and from there cross back across 24, which put me onto Old Tunnel Road and eventually down into Berkeley.

Fitbit says I walked 16.5 miles, which is one of my best days ever (but I didn't quite repeat my 40,000 step day that I managed on my free day in New York last year). My feet were hurting by the time I got home. But it was a nice exploration of Sibley.
shannon_a: (Default)
The last weekend of June pretty much slipped by. I learned about Stewart Wieck's death on Friday evening. Though I only spent three or four hours writing and editing my memorial to him, it weighed on me much of the weekend.

And so the weekend slipped away.

This long Fourth of July weekend was much more active.



Saturday I went for a long hike in Briones Regional Park. HI, first-time Briones hiker. Hilly, uncovered, and hot. (I choose a day when it was only 85 degrees over the hills.) Still, it was nice to see. I was impressed by the size of the park. The view from 1500 feet, atop Briones Hill was awesome.



Sunday Kimberly and I went out to Golden Gate Park, mainly to see the Summer of Love exhibit at the deYoung. She has a membership this year, so we're determined to use it. The exhibit was mainly '60s hippy fashion and rock show posters from SF in 66-68. The clothing was the cooler of the two (thanks Project Runway). We enjoyed the exhibit, though the rock posters were getting old by the last room. But at least that final room had great music. Guthrie, the Doors, and others. Afterward we hung out in the Fern Grotto for a while and read, but it was too chilly to really hang out in the park for long. A notable change from 85 degrees two counties over the day before.

And there's now a deGas exhibit just starting at the Legion of Honor that we want to see.

Two culinary notes:

#1. We got sandwiches for lunch at the last Andronico's in the world. Safeway bought them all out last year, but for some ridiculous reason hasn't been allowed to change the name in San Francisco. Nonetheless, the store is mostly a Safeway now, including their sandwiches. Still OK, but not as good as Andronico's. I also got one of the world's last adult brownies, which lasted me three meals. And, I asked the check-out lady if I could use my Andronico's sandwich card, which had a free sandwich on it that I thought I'd never be able to claim. She said no, then took my card and gave me a free sandwich.

#2. On the way home, K. took us to dinner at the McDonald's in Berkeley. Unfortunately, it's often overrun by the homeless, which the staff do nothing about (and increasingly so in recent years). Today there was a particularly crazy guy who kept pacing around us, crawling around the floor, and playing the same 30-second clip from a movie or song on continuous loop. It didn't encourage either of us to return to that restaurant.



Monday I worked. But I spent the middle of the day in San Francisco at Blockstream.

I could totally deal with a one-day work week.



Tuesday was the last day of a holiday weekend. Even with the Monday gap. Nothing big was planned, but I made a quick walk from home to the Orinda BART station. Made it in under 3 hours, which was great.

And that was four days in three counties (Alameda, Contra-Costa, and San Francisco).
shannon_a: (Default)
Two Sundays in a row, Kimberly and I have bussed up to Tilden and hiked around, as part of her effort to get out and about more.

Last Sunday was very nice. We picnicked by Jewel Lake then hiked around the Loop Trail and up to the bus stop near Lake Anza along a very pleasant creekside trail that I love. We even stopped and wrote for a while at my favorite bench in Tilden, deep in the shade, near Wildcat Creek.

This Sunday was substantially less successful, because we're in a heat wave and today was apparently the hottest day of it. We picnicked by Jewel Lake again, and that was still very nice. But when we walked down the Wildcat Creek Canyon Trail we turned back almost immediately due to the heat. Then, when we were hiking through the Nature Area, Kimberly was getting increasingly overheated. When we stopped at the Little Farm she was very red-faced. After dousing her in some water, we headed back to the bus stop so that we could get her back to cooler places in the lowlands.

She still said she enjoyed the wildlife she saw, and we got smoothies when we returned to downtown Berkeley.



I actually made one other trip to Tilden in the last few days: Saturday, on my own, as part of my getting out and about on Saturdays, which I do while not gaming.

It was a fairly normative hike, from my house up to Lake Anza. Nine or ten miles. It was hot, but it certainly didn't feel as hot as Sunday.

I love being out on my own and just relaxing in nature.



I also did a lot of not-relaxing-in-nature in the last week. We had a BBQ scheduled for Thursday in advance of gaming, and that meant I had to get the backyard in order. So I spent about three-and-a-half hours between Monday and Tuesday, downing foliage in the backyard and filling our green bin. Twice.

I really don't understand how our teeny backyard gets so out of control. Our new neighbors behind us give just as little attention as we do to our (much huger) backyard. Last winter they grew clover up and over everything, totally covering their yard, but then spring came and it all died out. Now their backyard is certainly scraggly, but not particularly overgrown.

Meanwhile, we'd totally lost the entirety of our yard beneath ivy and bushes and purple flowers. It was probably an hour before the walkway leading from our fence to our back door was clear. And still the walkway around the back and side of our house are pretty impassable. (A problem for another day.)

But I definitely communed with nature. And fortunately my knee and ribs were mostly up to the task.



The BBQ that followed on Thursday was sadly less than successful. We could barely get any flames on the grill. The corn eventually got mostly cooked, but the various sausages went into the broiler, which did the job. (We think the grill was almost out of propane.)

The food was still quite tasty, despite the problems, but we did also have a less than successful game (the new Buffy co-op, which is flat-out a bad design).

Still, it was good company and that generally makes for good times.



And that was a week of communing with nature. Or at least a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday of such.
shannon_a: (Default)
One of the super-cool things about the hills behind the East Bay is that there are near continuous parks throughout them. More notably, there's a ridgeline trail which runs across them. You can literally walk from San Pablo to Castro Valley and never step off a trail except to cross the very rare street. This has long intrigued me, though it's actually an overly long distance to walk in a day.

(The Bay Area Ridge Trail actually is supposed to circle the whole bay. Heck it even goes through Ed Levin Park and Alum Rock Park, two of my stomping grounds when I was growing up in the South Bay. But it's not all complete, nor is all of it as continuous as in the hills that are just above Berkeley.)



I've walked a good range of the trails above our local area. In various segments I've walked as far south as Sibley Park and as far north as Tilden and down to the San Pablo Dam Reservoir. (Mysteriously, the ridgeline trail doesn't continue along the ridgeline to Wildcat Canyon Park.)

But Saturday I decided to make my biggest effort ever, by walking from my house, up Panoramic Hill, and above that to the Ridgeline Trail, then walking it south into Sibley, then into Huckleberry, then into Redwood Regional Park, then down to the Chabot Space & Science Center.

That final destination was chosen because it was one of the rare places up near the ridgeline where I could catch a bus back to BART.


So Saturday I was out of the house by 10 am, and it was off to the races.

The walk was glorious.

The trek up the hill was hard because I took it fast, but it got me to the ridgeline trail before 11.30. It was one of the time I was panting and breathing hard.

As usual, I had to hop a gate at the top of the hill, because EBMUD sucks and purposefully blocks access to the ridgeline trail from the fire trails that exit above Strawberry Canyon, just across the street.

The walk from the so-called Scotts Peak Trailhead to Fish Ranch Road was glorious. I love the sweeping views of eastern CoCoCo, and then you slide back to the other side of the hills. There's some close grass there that I was a little nervous about because the rains have led to a snake season. And I heard some buzzing just off the trail in some of that thick grass that made me very nervous, but I quickly moved through. And enjoyed the great views.

The walk from Fish Ranch Road to Old Tunnel Road was beautiful too. I love the heavily forested paths.

In Sibley now. The walk from Old Tunnel Road to the Sibley Staging Area was trying. It was more uphill than I remembered, and some of the path was deeply cut by running water. Still, the area remained so gorgeous.

At 12.30 I had lunch at Sibley, then wrote for a while, then fixed an issue at RPGnet, then finished my article. At 1.30 I headed on.

Following the Ridgeline Trail brought me further back into Sibley than I usually go. More forested trails. I really need to explore the rest of the park sometime. Is there really a volcano back there?

There's no sign when you cross into Huckleberry, but suddenly there's a huge valley spread out before you. You cut down into the valley, cross the stream at the bottom of it twice, then start moving back up. It was gorgeous too.

Except that heading back up revealed my one problem of the day. A .11 section of trail was marked closed until made safe. (Which usually means a 1-10 year delay in East Bay parks.) There was absolutely no other way to get through Huckleberry, from Sibley, so I decided to hike up to see if the problem was something I found safe enough or too dangerous. The answer was a big landslide below the trail. I'd actually seen it from below as I walked up the creek, before cutting back, and had been awed by it. Here it just kissed the edge of the trail and I tested the ground and found it totally firm. So I continued along, staying well away from the edge. No problem. Curiously, there was no such trail-closure sign at the top.

(And that's a trail that really needs to be fixed, as it's the only way to get through that part of the ridgeline trail. For want of a .11 trail segment, a ridgeline trail was lost.)

Huckleberry and Redwood Regional don't quite touch. But, much as in the area between Fish Ranch and Tunnel Road, there's a segment of trail through the land in between to keep you walking in beauty.

I took my other break for the day just outside of Redwood Regional, where I was pleased to see a bench. Four squares of chocolate and one issue of a comic book.

Then it was over a small ridge and into Redwood Regional, where I circled around the East Ridge Trail and the West Ridge Trail until I got to Chabot Space & Science Lab. I think of that as the main commuter trail that gets you to the interesting parts of Redwood Regional, but it's actually attractive too, looking over another big basin, this one facing south.

While in Redwood Regional, I checked Google Maps to see how much longer it would take to continue on to Castro Valley BART. Four and a half hours. Huh.

As I neared Chabot, I realized that I was going to just miss the 4pm bus, by a minute or so. So, I picked up my pace and got there at 3.59. This was the other time I was panting and breathing hard. No bus. No bus at 4. No Bus at 4.01. I finally decided that AC Transit was playing their usual game of randomly skipping a bus every once in a while. The bus arrived at 4.07.

Then it was down to Fruitvale BART. (On the bottom five of my list of BART stations.) Then it was six(!) stops home. Yep, I walked six BART stops along the ridgeline!



Total walk, 6 hours (minus an hour for lunch). So, five hours or so for reals. 13 or 14 miles. Exactly 300 flights of stairs when I got home. Hours of beauty.

A great day.

And nice to see other people frequently using and enjoying the trails. I saw people on every major segment, and quite a few people when I passed by some of the staging areas, at Old Tunnel Road, at Sibley, in Huckleberry, and in Redwood Regional. (The last is clearly the most popular, but it's also the biggest.)

I'm a little sore today, primarily my legs (from walking) and my back (from carrying my backpack with computer for writing).



And I got home from my day of walking in beauty to discover more horror in London, as another terror attack seems intended to push the British people to the conservative, Islamophobic platform in the upcoming snap election. Just as seemed to be the case in France several weeks ago. I don't even understand a world any more where terrorist groups theoretically fighting for Muslims (in horrible, misguided, evil ways) are purposefully supporting Islamophobes to in turn drive recruitment for the terror organizations. It's like the snake has eaten its tail and disappeared inside itself.

Condolences and support to my British friends, victims of terrorism and Theresa May.
shannon_a: (Default)
No, I don't really do "relaxed" weekend.

And no, I still can't write a journal entry within a week of time.


Saturday was a gaming day. It's my Burning Wheel campaign, but the idea has always been to vary it up with other games that expand the overall world. So we started off with three sessions of Microscope over a few years time before getting into the regular Burning Wheel groove for almost ten sessions.

Then, this Saturday, I decided that I didn't want the stress of story prep intruding onto the holiday weekend, so I offered up the first of my interludes, a game of Kingdom. We learned about the Alchemist Guild deep in the past of Eligium. It went well. The roleplaying was more intense than usual, which caused some tension, and we were all pretty tired by the end. But it was an interesting game, and we definitely learned more about our history.


Sunday was a hiking day.

It began with my usual inability to find a sandwich in south Berkeley. I had found a sandwich-making place I hadn't found before called Tivoli Caffe. So I visited there to pick up a sandwich before I walked up the hill. But, they were closed for the whole Memorial Day weekend. So was Cheese & Stuff. IB Hoagies was closed and not opening until noon. Top Dog was closed. I finally ended up at Taco Bell again. Ah well.

Afterward I walked up Panoramic Hill to the fire trails, then up to the top of the hill. It was chilly and overcast, and I was literally walking up into the clouds. By the time I got to the top of the hills, I was in then.

I took a break at a bench on the Bay Area Ridgeline Trail, just over the top of the hill. It's got a beautiful view of the Siesta Valley Recreation Area, down to the teeny super-rich community of snobs in Wilder. I stopped there to write for a while, but that was about when the sun came out, and it soon became too bright to really read my computer. So I walked down through the EBMUD trails until I got to Orinda.

I'm always shocked by how short that walk is, from Berkeley to Orinda. About an hour and a half up the hill and about an hour and a half down the hill. I always think about walking the St. Stephens Trail on to Lafayette afterward, but Google Maps inevitably shows it as another hour, and I inevitably decide it's getting late and I get on the BART in Orinda instead.

So it was on Sunday.



Monday was hanging-out-with-Kimberly day.

Unfortunately, the Labor Day Salsa "block" party on the next block, which attracts huge crowds of people from Oakland to Richmond, and which results in hours of loud music shaking our house, has spread like a disease to also be a Memorial Day Salsa "block" party. So, we were definitely desirous of fleeing the house, but K. is too tired currently to want to go with far.

So, we waited until about noon and then headed out to grab some lunch (Taco Bell again!) and take it to campus.

Once there we ate, then read-aloud from Fool's Assassin, then did our own things for a while. (I had my computer, full of work, as usual.) Eventually some hellacious almost-inaudible buzzing noise settled onto the entire southeast side of campus, and we moved on.

There was then yogurt and drug stores and a haircut for me. Unfortunately, we still had a few hours of Salsa when we got home. K. and I both went to our offices to hide, but my office turned out to be not protected. It has windows on three sides of the house, and though the Salsa party was on the opposite side of the house from my office and windows, it still boomed through the room like a panel truck with its roll-up door flapping all around.



Monday was also the day we said farewell to our exercise bike.

Pretty much, Schwinn sucks. They manufacture crap.

More precisely, we got it a few years ago. It didn't work when we got it: the wheel had no resistance. So a repairman came out and fixed it and it worked. briefly.

Unfortunately for the next year, K. didn't really use it because she wasn't doing well and I didn't really use it because my doctor was keeping me off bikes.

So some 10 months or so after the repair, one of us sat down ... and found the wheel had no resistance.

Though the parts warranty hadn't expired, the labor warranty had, and Schwinn told us this was clearly labor, and so we were on our own.

But, it was an easy repair, they said, taking only a phillips screwdriver. The kind Schwinn liar even told us what pages in the manual to use to repair things.

So Sunday night we finally sat down to look at the instructions, which had been sitting around for a few months. And, they were horrible, and they had little to do with the bike we actually had. I fooled around with it for about an hour and came to the conclusion that a pedal wrench was actually needed to get things open.

We'd already decided that the bike's poor quality control meant that it wasn't worth bringing to Hawaii. Rather than having a non-functional bike in the house for a few years, we opted to drag it out on the street Monday afternoon with a free sign (and a clear statement of its condition and all the supposed "instructions" attached). Our theory was that we could at least benefit from the annoying Salsa party because there'd be people leaving and heading to their cars and one of them might pick up the non-functional bike and take it home.

Sure enough.

Mark that as our last purchase ever from Schwinn, once a sign of quality, now a sign of horrible manufacture and poor customer service.




That wasn't our only experience with crappy companies over the weekend. The other was Jack Richeson & Co., Inc. K. bought a very nice easel from them, and we tried to set that up on Sunday night after our failure with the exercise bike.

The instructions were atrocious. Worse than 10 IKEA books. There were no illustrations of many of the parts and very minimal explanations of what to do.

But, we figured it out and did fine until we got to the last part ... which required a bolt that they had not included.

So K. sent them mail and requested our '2 1/4" bolt'. They sent back the requirement that we fill our a four-page warranty form and send it back along with a receipt and a declaration of where we'd purchased it, in order to get our $2 bolt.

I did so, but I wasn't very happy about it, and I very politely told them their ridiculous bureacratia made me think poorly of the company.

So the next day, one of the owners mailed me back and apologized, but also explained why it was really wonderful that they had a system where I had to fill out and scan four pages in order to get a 2 1/4" bolt. Nonetheless, I was mollified, especially when they said they were sending the bolt priority mail, to arrive on Friday, along with some nice paint brushes for K. as way of apology.

It's Friday. No bolt. No paint brushes.

Crappy companies.



Don't even get me started on the self-righteous asshats at Spamcop, who darkened my door late in the week.

Suffice to say: I've learned that they're now buying dead domains and reusing previously valid email addresses as spam traps. Which is all kinds of morally and possibly legally wrong. Their excuse is that the domains are really old, but if they think data on the internet has expiry dates, they're fools.

(They're fools.)

So, if you're not a spammer, and you ever find the need to sue Spamcop for defamation and/or prior restraint of trade, I'm your man. I now know where the bodies are buried because an arrogant Spamcop engineer explained to me what they're doing as he tried to bludgeon me into believing he was right and I was wrong.

(And this complaint will just have to serve as a substitute for exposé that I want to write but don't want to get involved with.)



My goal in any holiday weekend is to revitalize myself for the wear, tear, and work of everyday life. I quickly discovered that I failed, because my Tuesday or Wednesday I was at wit's end about a variety of problems.

But that was due to the problems (and the ongoing stressors in our life currently) as much as anything.

Maybe this weekend.

I just plotted out a really cool hike.
shannon_a: (Default)
From a post that I never got around to finishing this week because I was too busy.



So thislast weekend I had a free Saturday due to lacking of gaming. My knee was feeling 70% or so better, but I thought, "I better stay off of my hills, just in case". So instead I opted to bike up to Montclair, and from there hike around Joaquin Miller park.

My theory was that I'd do my climbing on my bike, which doesn't have much impact on my knee, and then enjoy one of the hilltop parks.

Yeah, except Joaquin Miller isn't a hilltop park. It may be 600 feet up or so, but there's a lot of steep hillside above it, going up to the top of Shepherd Canyon.



Why was the week busy? My head was down as I was working on Bitcoin documentation during the workday. Then I'm always busy in the evening writing or gaming. It was all quite interesting work though, so my days were filled, but enjoyably.



After figuring out where to lock my bike near Joe-Quinn Park, which is often a problem, I went in at the northwest entry. It was a creekside trail. Totally beautiful. Except it started climbing up pretty steeply. First there was slope, then more slope, then steps.

Whoops!

As I hit steps I started using my (unhurt) right knee to lever myself up. And boy that was slow, going up a single step at a time. I finally got to a crossroads above the creek and there was ... more steep slope going up.

Magnificent views, though. It was obvious that I was climbing up above canyons because green forest was spreading out below me.

Eventually I had to give up on the climbing with my right knee thing, because my right knee was starting to hurt.

And I was pretty astounded that I was getting winded, because I thought I was good on hills. But this was a lot of hill.



Tonight, at the end of the busy week, I got a bit of a reprieve. I went to Safeway for the week's groceries and it was quiet as a tomb. Astounding! The store was a little less crowded than usual, but the big difference was no students yelling in their outside-voice.

So very, very restful.




I rarely had a cellular signal when I was up in the higher hills of Joe-Quinn, which was problematic because I didn't have a map either. I knew there was a picnic area somewhere up there but I wasn't sure where exactly.

I found an old horse arena or something, with a fence fallen down.

Then I found some locked bathrooms.

This is all thanks to Oakland's lack of attention to the park, which is unsurprising; East Bay parks are better upkept, though they're been problematic too in recent years.

Anyway, I was good at finding open spaces. Then I pretty much stumbled across the picnic area. It was hidden in a curve in a road.

I sat there and ate chocolate and wrote for a while, atop the world.



Right, restful, except it's almost 1am and I'm still writing, which I'm not supposed to do near bed times.

But, I was researching for D&D histories, then I stumbled upon a link to a former website full of D&D designer posts that I was able to access from beyond the grave at archive.org. Then I needed to brush up on the Kingdom RPG for tomorrow. Then there was more writing and researching. Then I was printing sheets and references for Kingdom. Then I found this partial post in my buffer.




I was a bit worried about the climb down, but I took a different route and there were no stairs, just lots of slope that was easier on my knee. It was all very pleasant walks through forested areas. I did a bit more writing at a camp, then I got to the "civilized" parts of Joe-Quinn, which are off to the southwest. I was pretty astounded that my huge uphill climb had been equalled by my easy downhill climb.

There are two dog parks in civilized Joe-Quinn, which were mostly empty, because why would you take your dog to a dog area at a huge park?

There was an amphitheater pretty much hanging off the hillside, which I'd love to see a play at before I leave the state.

There was a magnificent water cascade going down from the theatre, except it's apparently turned off.

Then it was around a few more paths, down to the road and a half-mile or less back to my bike.



I mostly managed not to hurt my knee on the hike, and yet another week later it's feeling almost normal again.
shannon_a: (Default)
So last, last weekend, the first weekend of May, I had a marvelous Saturday hike. It was one of my favorite routes of late: east from my house, up above Strawberry Canyon, and then into Tilden. It's really nice, because it gets me on trails (or at least stairs) about a mile from my house, and from there I can go anywhere I want along pleasant hiking paths.

So on Saturday, I choose a very challenging route: up around the fire trails above Strawberry Canyon (as usual) and then into TIlden. But from there I decided to walk the southwest side of Tilden, around Grizzly Peak, then to take the western most trails along the entire length of Tilden, until I got to Jewel Lake, which is the last civilized point in the north of Tilden, on the way to Wildcat Canyon Regional Park.

Most of these trails were new to me. Grizzly Peak Trail took me westward, and it was a nice trail running along a hillside, with the Wildcat Canyon to my right. It's the opposite side of the Canyon that I usually walk on. The only downside is that you could occasionally hear the cars whizzing by on Grizzly Peak Blvd., just the other side of the ridge. Then I walked Selby Trail northward for a few miles until I hit Canyon Drive, the big steep road coming out of the north side of Tilden. There was a bit of Selby Trail in the middle that was just ugly grassland, but most of it was wooded and very pleasant. Past Canyon Drive it became Memory Trail, which took me around the Nature Area and eventually dropped me down to Jewel Lake. Success!

Fitbit says I walked a total of 4 hours while up in the hills. For the day I made 12 miles and 199 flights of stairs. (Clearly my Fitbit gamification is beginning to fail me, because I didn't bother for that last fight to get my 14th Castle [200 floors] badge.)


There was one weird thing on the hike: I got up to the Island picnic area, and it was full of Porsches. There was apparently a Porsche convention, with people coming from all over the west to talk to other Porsche owners. And someone thought that the optimal place to worship wasteful spending and overprivileged living was a public park.

The cars were all sitting in the Island parking area, and about half of them had their hoods open or their trunks open or both. Some people had stuff sitting in their open trunks, which made it obvious they'd never been to Berkeley before, though the muggers and thieves don't usually make it up to Tilden. The cars all had signs in their windows identifying who the owner was, where he was from, and what model his car was. Meanwhile, the Porsche owners were sitting in the picnic area talking about their real leather seats and how infrequently they had to rebuild their engine. As I said: Weird.


There was a lot of up and down in my walk as I hit heights near Grizzly Peak and near Canyon Drive. My left knee started twinging was I was hiking down Memory Trail.

A lot of the trails in Tilden are becoming increasingly wild. Some have been "storm damaged" for years, others washed out by dripping pipes. Some of my early trails for the day were a wee bit overgrown, but Memory Trail was the worst because it had steps that look like they're maybe a foot and a half tall or so each. They've clearly expanded over time and they were all a muddy mess too. It was obvious that either no one has been back here to look at the state of the steps, or else they don't care. Anyway, as I hopped down those steps billy-goat like, that was when my knee really started to get going.

But I didn't think about it much at the time. Every once in a while when I'm on a big hike one of my knees starts twinging if I'm doing a big descent at the end. This was no different.



No different until I kneeled down Sunday morning, and I had some excruciating pain in that knee. Yowtch!

It was quite a surprise, and in retrospective I can only think of one reason that I might have particularly hurt things. I had lunch at the back of Strawberry Canyon where there's a nice bench in front of a stone wall, and I tend to sit on it sideways so that I can read or work ... with my left leg under me. So maybe I hurt the knee some then, then some more when climbing up and down hills.

Dunno. It didn't really dramatically, surprisingly hurt until Sunday morning. I guess I got something tight or inflamed or something and when I put all my weight on it kneeling down ....



So it's been mostly hurting for the last week, though I think maybe it's getting better. It's more feeling vulnerable and awkward now, rather than hurting.

I've stayed off hills for the last 10 days, and I didn't bike until last Friday. It seemed fine then. And fine for my Saturday gaming.

So apparently the biking is OK.



I'm hoping I'll be OK enough to hike on Saturday, though I may need to figure out somewhere that's not all hills.
shannon_a: (Default)
Today, I returned to Mt. Diablo. Or, rather, I trekked further south this time, had lunch in Rudgear Park, then headed up into the Diablo Foothills Regional Park.

The Rudgear Park was quite busy with people picnicking and walking and following their children riding in electric toy cars. I find that the more affluent an area is, the better used its parks are, and the Rudgear Estates area of Alamo seemed quite busy.

Yet when I got over to the regional park, the people mostly disappeared. I can kind of understand, because the paths in from the west were almost non-existent, just like out by Howe Homestead Park last week.

But from what I can see, people don't walk into these parks (as these western entrances allow). No, they drive in (going to other trailheads, deeper in).



Meanwhile, in Berkeley, pro-Trump and anti-fascist supporters are literally clashing.

Ironically, the police are siding with the fascists. At least philosophically. They've banning pocket knives and signs with poles from the protests.

Yes, Berkeley cops, those could be used as weapons to assault other people. But you haven't suddenly been anointed as the Minority Report police, tasked with preventing FutureCrime(tm).

No, you're supposed to be guarding our home and our rights. And, after long years of absolutely failing to guard our home town because of your cowardly fear of the aging hippies who might squawk if you hurt an anarchist who is breaking windows and burning businesses, now you've failed at protecting our rights too, in fact have preemptively taken them away.

Good job, you.

It appears that Trump has even normalized fascism in Berkeley.

Fortunately, just like Trump's fascism, our cop's fascism is probably illegal.



I do know about this, because I check in with my mail while resting on an uphill hike and get the local police alerts. But I read that the protest is confined to Civic Center Park, and so I opt not to call Kimberly, who I know is in North Berkeley, to suggest she come home by cutting through the campus.

Later, the protest does spill out onto the streets. No word if the police again idly stood by while peoples' lives and livelihoods were destroyed.

But Kimberly opted to cut through campus on her own.

(Though she was shaken by the third instance of Berkeley rioting in three and a half months, and hours of buzzing, hovering helicopters. I hate those things too.)



Things are much quieter out in the Diablo Foothills. I'm circling eastward.

Kimberly commented to me after my last trip this way that she remembers Mt. Diablo being pretty barren, and that's pretty true. There are trees here and there, but for the most part, you're not walking through trees: you're walking from one tree to the next, with barren grasslands around you.



Coming up on one of the several small, dirty ponds I pass over the course of the day, I notice a man talking to a woman. (Yeah, there's a few people now, as I get deeper into the park, and closer to one of those parking lots in the interior.) She explains she doesn't have a map, but gives him directions. He runs off, a dog trotting behind him.

As I circle the pond, he returns and heads off down another path.

And then a few minutes later he comes back from that direction and passes me again, this time heading the same direction I am.

He remarks that these paths are confusing, and I smile.



I tell him I have a map if he'd like to see it, but he says he has his phone.

And I think, "Yes, and it's working so well."



When we're coming up on Old Borges Raunch, I pass him, and it's because he's standing staring at his phone. Clearly lost once again.

I think he'll probably ask me to see that map now, but he never does.



Old Borges Ranch has some animals and a barn and about a half-dozen tractors on display, one with gear work wheels, and some other farm-y stuff.

I remember the farm-y stuff at Howe Homestead Park, and don't really understand this obsession with the area's farming heritage. Maybe it's just more recent there than it is here, on the other side of the hills.

Man-with-dog passes me again as I'm exiting the Ranch area. With a single path before him, for the moment, he seems a lot more confident.

Though he sure walks a lot for a runner.

Eventually he and the dog disappear, never to be seen again.



Soon, I make it out to Castle Rock, another regional park.

There's yet another entrance here, past an Equestrian Center. There are also piles of picnic areas, including one having a very loud DJ constantly announcing prizes for people from across the country.

I keep an eye out for precog psychics, rabid Saint Bernards, and dead bodies, but don't see any.



The prizes seem to be for runners competing in some sort of hill run.

I see the first of them about a quarter mile past the loudspeakers. A couple sitting there shout encouragingly to her that she's just a quarter mile or so from the end.

She says, "A quarter mile? No, it can't be!" And there's such hopeless despair in her voice that I can't really figure out how long she thinks a quarter mile is, but it seems really, really long.



A bit further on, I offer some encouragement to runners too. But I pointedly don't tell them distances.

I use weasel words like "close" and "almost there".

And as we get further and further from those loudspeakers, and as the runners look more and more tired and less and less fit, I stop doing that.



I'm astounding to discover that Castle Rock doesn't refer to a Maine town after all, but instead to huge rocky outcroppings that are rising up to the east of me.

They're utterly awesome. Beautiful and cool, and I want to hike up and around them, but not today because it's coming up on 2.30 pm, which is when I wanted to make sure I was circling back to my bike, abandoned out by Rudgear Park.

Which is just as well because Castle Rock is closed from February to July due to falcon nesting or something.

So I'll have to try and remember to head out there in fall after it cools down over the hills and before it starts raining.

(And I'll have to figure out how to get closer to Castle Rock with my bike, so I don't have to hike two or so hours to get there.)



Some of the paths I come back in are horrible. Totally, entirely destroyed by cows. I see one bicyclist trying to come up one of these paths, and even though most mountain bicyclists are determined to never show weakness in the face of adverse terrain, even he finally admits defeat and starts walking.

His bike still is going BUMP-BUMP-BUMP and looking like it's going to shake out of his hands.



Later I take one of my cutbacks to get back to where my own bike is. I'm, by the by, feeling increasingly smug about not bringing it into the park — especially when I find that Stonegate Trail is barely extant. And it's all muddy or dried hoof prints.

Bleh. But brief.



My favorite hiking of the day is actually after I leave the park proper.

I walked about a block through fancy-dancy houses, but then there was a path that cut back to where I started.

At first, it was another heavily overgrown path.

But then I got down to a creek bed and it became very pretty.

And then I turned a corner and there were beautiful and vibrant flowers in a variety of brilliant colors off to the side.

Totally, not the sort of thing you ever see on a hiking trail. But there was a house just about the flowers and it had some sprinklers to keep them alive.

A wonderful bit of joy at the end of about 10 miles of hard hiking.



On the way home I stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up some emergency supplies to offset the trauma back in Berkeley.
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This morning I awoke with the plan to get a sandwich at Cheese 'n Stuff and carry it into the hills with me. I was going to eat by the Steam Trains in Tilden and hoped to make it all the way to Wildcat Canyon Park before I dropped down off the ridge and circled back to Tilden to catch a bus back.

But, plans, contacts, the enemy, and all that.



Cheese 'n Stuff was closed in honor of April 1.

And huge swaths of Southside don't open before 11am. Because students are usually too hungover to be out and about before 11am on Saturday.

No worries, I recently identified Montague's Gourmet Sandwiches as a possible sandwich backup. I had to wait 30 minutes, but I figured the courtyard of the dorms right next door would be safe enough for me to work on my computer without getting mugged. (Results: marginal; I had a skeevy guy sit down about five feet from me, play with his headphones for a while, then leave when it was obvious I was keeping an eye on him.)

Montague's had no bread. Maybe at 11.30, they said. But it was obvious it was a maybe.

No worries, IB Hoagies isn't as good as a cold sandwich for packing up into the hills, but acceptable.

IB Hoagie's was closed with no explanation as to why, though it was by now 10 or 15 minutes past their 11am opening.

I vaguely considered getting a low-quality sandwich at Subway, but the one right next to campus seems to be price gouging students with higher prices than the one just several blocks further south. And I wasn't going to overpay for a low-quality sandwich.

So, Taco Bell it was. And by noon, when I thought I was going to be up at the Steam Trains, I was instead still ascending Panoramic Hill.



The problem, I suspect is that southside is just too dependent on students. And it's Spring Break. So, some of the stores just didn't bother to open, and Montague's had their bread order all messed up because they'd been closed earlier in the week.



With that all said, the hills were entirely beautiful. It's flower season. They're in full bloom and just covering the hills, which were yellow, red, purple, and gold. It was gorgeous.

It was also a rare clear day where you could mostly see the City, the Golden Gate, and the Marin headlands.

And warm! Wonderfully warm!



I made it from South Berkeley, up to the Steam Trains, over to Inspiration Point, then about a mile and a half up Nimitz Way, before I decided to drop down to the Tilden Nature Area.

But it was one of those days I could have walked forever.

(I actually walked about 13 miles.)
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Yeah, I'm a workaholic — or at least an accomplishmentaholic. You can tell because I even set goals for my leisure activities.

So this year I want to spend some time out at Mt. Diablo, to hike around and really explore the area. I got a big map from the folks at Save Mount Diablo to help.



I went out to Mt. Diablo for the first time on Saturday. Or, rather, I went to one of the connected parks. There are many of them. I chose the park closest in to downtown Walnut Creek, Howe Homestead Park, which reaches quite a ways into Walnut Creek itself.

Howe Homestead Park is a little bit of nothing. There's a grassy area with a few picnic tables and a bathroom. And oddly a barn. Not particularly attractive, not particularly well-used. I ate lunch at one of the picnic tables, a sandwich I'd brought over from Berkeley.

From there it was up some very poorly maintained paths that had weeds growing into them all over. The worst was when the weeds were spiny thistly things. Even stepping carefully, I had them stabbing at me. These initial paths were all on a narrow, wavering strip of land that connected Howe to actual park I was heading for.

But eventually the so-called Kovar Trail brought me into Shell Ridge Open Space.



Shell Ridge is one of three major parks that are to the northwest of Mt. Diablo itself. There's Shell Ridge, which directly adjoins Diablo Foothills to the south of it, and then somewhat further northeast there's Lime Ridge.

The further I got into Shell Ridge, the cooler it was. Pretty soon I was surrounded entirely by green, rolling hills. I felt like I was in the shire or something as I walked the narrow paths between the relatively sparse trees in the middle of green greenery.

Every once in a while, I'd turn a hill and suddenly a big brown lake would be in front of me. They were like hidden little gems ... despite the signs that warned the water wasn't fit for humans or their pets.

Parts of the park were quite deserted, particularly when I hit its easternmost edge. But there were people along the ridges and in the west. I heard hikers complaining about bicyclists destroying the path ("Look at those tire marks! Right there in the mud!") and I heard bicyclists complaining about cows destroying the path ("Look at that trench, you'd think a tank or something made it, but it was a cow.") [One presumes he spies on cows at night to be sure.] And, yeah, some of the paths were a mess. I imagine the cows sitting around, blaming the hawks ("Look at those holes! Those darned birds fly down and root around!").

It was gray when I started, but the sky had gotten blue by afternoon and I was increasingly aware of how exposed all of the trails were. I was hot, worn-out, and thirsty by the time I did the last huge climb up and down a ridge-line trail. (Note to self: bring more than one water bottle.)

When I looked at my Save Mount Diablo map afterward I was shocked by how teeny of a bit of ground I'd covered on the huge map. Apparently my work is really cut out for me in exploring the Mount Diablo area this spring (at least until it gets too hot over the hills.)

Paths I walked were: Kovar Trail, Fossil Hill Loop Trail, Briones-Mt Diablo Regional Trail, Corral Spring Trail, Deer Lake Trail, Upper Buck Loop Trail, Lower Buck Loop Trail, Costanoan Trail, Sulfur Creek Trail, Costanoan Trail, Ginder Gap Trail, Briones-Mt Diablo Regional Trail, Indian Creek Trail, Fossil Hill Loop Trail, Summit Ridge Trail, and Kovar Trail. I was out for about 3.5 hours and covered about 8 miles. A little bit on the slow side, but there were hills and sun.

The Save Mount Diablo map was a godsend, as there were no maps available at the park and Google Maps was almost entirely useless for paths in the park. Heck, the Save Mount Diablo map didn't even have all of them, but it had enough to figure out where I was. Mostly.



Meanwhile, back at home, we have ... more leaks.

No, seriously, like the third different leaks this year. Water was coming down the walls of our garage from the bathroom above. We had a plumber out on Thursday and he confirmed that our cast-iron main stack coming down the wall has split. It goes down our wall and into our garage through the roof. Pro tip: don't build your sewage lines through your garage.

Yeah. So.

The plumber and a friend are coming back on Thursday morning to replace a good chunk of the main stack. Then a roofer is coming out Thursday afternoon to at least try and protect the roof that's going to be cut apart around the pipe. Then rain is coming in Thursday night.

That's going to set us back at least a few thousand, just when I had shored up some cash for property and income tax in April.

Yeah. So.



Oh, and leak #2 for the year is back. That's the downstairs bathroom leak that we've been fighting with for at least six months. I thought our grouter in January had done a crap job, and sure enough the grout is already starting to wash away and we've got damp in our crawl space under that bathroom again.



Friday is my birthday. K. and I are planning to go see a Monet exhibit in the City. Hopefully circumstances will allow us to do so.
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Today, Kimberly was burned out after two busy days, so Mary and I decided to head out on our own to hike up Sleeping Giant. It's a hill out by Kapa`a that's just under 1300 feet.

Starting at a trail head to the west, we had a rapid ascent up the trail, but then the trail leveled out and if anything felt like it was going down. There was some quite beautiful terrain. A forest of pines. A path that went straight through a tunnel of twisted branches. A short walk down what looked like a creek bed. But I became pretty suspicious over the fact that we often seemed to be going down and that we were looping around the hill rather than going up.

A couple of miles later, past an outlook with a few picnic tables, we decide we were really certain that we were going down, so we turned around, and shortly after saw a sign that read .5 miles. Orienting ourself, we came to the conclusion that we'd walked about 2 miles, almost to the trail head on the east side.

So where was the top of the hill!?



Continuing back along the trail, we now saw a steady stream of quarter-mile markers (about ever quarter-mile), and I felt like we were definitely heading the right way.

Soon, some folks coming back told us the trail up to the top of the hill was at the 2 mile marker.

So, we continued along with more surety. And discovered it was now uphill all the way.

Twice, we passed people we'd seen earlier in our trip, and they were confused that we were headed in the wrong direction. We explained that we'd missed the trail up the hill.



So past the 2 mile mark was another one that said "end", and looking up from there we could barely make out a trail. Really, it looked more like two rows of perfectly aligned trees, but Mary thought it looked familiar, so up the tree boulevard went.

Soon afterward there was a more obvious path.

On the earlier trail, Mary had commented how easy the walk was, but here she said that she didn't remember this steepness. And it was steep. I've found one place that says it's an ascent of about 1000 feet in a bit over a mile from the entrance we came in. Me, I walk hills all the time, but I had to take some breaks.

Up near the top we started hitting large rocks, sometimes as high as 10 feet, that we had to climb up to continue.

And then, finally, we found some more picnics tables on a hill top. We rested there for a while!



But that wasn't the top. We now had to walk up to the chin of the Sleeping Giant. About halfway there we passed a sign that said "E d o ail!" and "go beyond this sign — please!" It had clearly been defaced and was clearly being ignored by absolutely everyone. We continued on after we climbed up one last rock we hit the chin.

The view there was absolutely breathtaking. You could see the ocean to one side and Wailua Homesteads to the other, one of the few places in Kauai where the houses really extend inland. It was also a bit acrophobia-inducing because you were sitting on a rock just several feet across and there was just drop beyond that on either side. Whew!

From there we walked along the face, which was a wider path, and eventually emerged up onto the forehead, which is a nice plateau at the top. More breathtaking views.



Then we just had to go down. It was a long way through switch back after switch back. I saw why they tired me on the way up.

Down past the tree boulevard we rejoined our old path and found it was quite a short walk to the trailhead we'd parked at. Whoops! (But, we enjoyed the whole walk!)



Lunch afterward at a Chinese restaurant in Lihue, then it was home for dinner.

After that there was Star Trek: Beyond, which had a nice plot, but even more actionitis that the other two nuStarTrek movies.



Number of falls: two (both well, well below the peak, when there was loose dirt)

Number of waterfalls: none

Number of explosions in Star Trek Beyond: one billion
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After breakfast and some R&R this morning, we headed out to the Moalepe Trail. Except, there was a detour to drop a check off with a handyman, and then no one knew what the trail name was. We were going to head all the way out to the highway, then back up into Kapaa via a known route, but I managed to figure out the name thanks to my Facebook albums from a few years ago.

We stopped at a bathroom in a park on the way (which I'd also sussed out from our previous travels and my handy iPhone), and were surprised to find that not only was it clean, but there were even bars of soaps there! My estimate was that a bar of soap would last in a California public bathroom for ... nope, already gone!

The trail itself was very nice. I'd walked it once before. It goes along a big green canyon, and then turns up and starts ascending into the hills by tree-covered paths. Kimberly and my dad decided to stop a bit before the end of the trail, but Mary and I continued on until we finally hit a bridge that's the "end" of the trail (and the start of another). There were even more beautiful views just past the bridge. (I could never decide if my dad and I had made it to the bridge the one time we walked this, but I definitely didn't see the big vistas on the other side.

We had lunch at Monaco's, a tasty Mexican restaurant, where I was shocked to discover I didn't have my billfold. That meant no Lactaid, but I was fortunately able to scrape the dairy sauce off my seafood tacos. (The billfold ended up being back at home, which was my top guess.)

We then needed to digest our food a bit before swimming, so we went out to Lydgate Park, and my dad walked us down to the "play bridge", on the opposite side of the park from the lagoon where our car was parked. It was the most amazing bridge ever. A huge, maze-like structure of inclines and stairs (and even a slide). Technically, it went over a little ravine, but it was obviously meant to be a fun structure in and of itself, not really a practical one.

Afterward we swam at the lagoon at Lydgate.

And that was our busy first day in Hawaii.

Need more sunscreen on my cheeks and forehead in future days. I got a bit red.

Animals seen: chickens, chicks, a mangy cat

Animals fed: chickens, chicks (sorry mangy cat!)

Mud height: mid calf
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(1445 days left.)

After the election I spent a week or so freaking out about health-care, and what it meant for my future and our ability to move to Hawaii. I wasn't able to put it aside and not worry about it until I came to the conclusion that it was most likely that things would be OK in Hawaii because they had an HMSA before the ACA, and they'll probably have an HMSA after.

And then I pretty much tried to let go of the political fear, angst, and anger.

But Trump has made that impossible since his coronation. Every day there's been horrible stuff. I was right back stressing when I heard that he'd signed an executive order on day one determined to knock out the underpinnings of the ACA by telling the executive branch not to enforce it. And then there was of course the Muslim Ban. Lately the horribleness is almost farcical, like threatening to invade Mexico or hanging up on the Australian PM or signing an executive order to raise Nazi Stephen Bannon to godhood without knowing what he was doing. (He was reportedly angry about the last, but not enough to kick the Nazi to the curb.)

I dread looking at the news in the morning, but I don't know how not to, especially when this is stuff that's going to affect my life.

But I think I'm going to have to figure out how.



The last two weeks of work were very busy. I'd been so energetic and happy and working on projects for the first three weeks of the year, but then I had stress, stress, stress these last two weeks.

I initially diagnosed it as getting too much work in. And, there was a lot. For example I made four passes on a very technical white paper and I worked on some scripts and docs for Chris. All stuff that I hadn't been expecting. And I was trying to also get everything caught up and in good shape for my vacation.

But I think that was a misdiagnosis. The Trump evilness is what formed the foundation of my stress; an excess of jobs just built on it.



Last weekend I was supposed to start up my Burning Wheel game again, but I begged off because I was going out of my head with the thought of prepping and running it. Again, I misdiagnosed it as being solely work, but there's more going on.



Instead, last weekend ending up being quite relaxing. We'd had 4 or so days without rain, which has been a rarity this year, so I opted to hike up in the hills, which I haven't done to any great extent all year. It was a hike I've done before, though via a couple of variant trails: up Panoramic Hill, across the fire trails, along the skyline ridge trail, into Tilden, along the the ridge trails there, and then down, down, down until I get to a bus stop by Lake Anza.

It was a very pleasant walk because we've finally been hitting 60 degrees again. However, there was surprising amounts of damage from our recent storms. At least half-a-dozen big trees down, two of them blocking the trails. A couple of mud slides infringing upon the trail. Mostly non-muddy trails, except a few times were literal streams were running down the trail.

But great, relaxing, and badly needed.



Oh, and I didn't mention my other stressor of late: I've been having my ongoing annoying health issues again. They mostly had faded away during fall, but just before Christmas they picked back up again, and they've been quite annoying throughout January.

Dammit.

And quite bad this weekend in advance, of course, of our vacation.



I'm reluctant to visit doctors again, after the waste of time (and the pain) of way too many visits in 2016, trying (and failing) to figure this out.

But, I'll have new coverage in March with Kaiser (as an alternative to a $300! increase in insurance rates), so maybe when I do this year's physical, we'll talk.

But the doctors were so, so, so worthless in 2016 and so disruptive.



Calgon, take me away.
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A Night at the Movies (Friday: 23). Kimberly and I rarely go the movies, but Christmas is our definitive goto movie day, because that's what we did on several Christmas days in the '00s when we were keeping to ourselves. So we went a bit early this year, and saw Rogue One right after I knocked off work on Friday. Great Star Wars movie; one of the best. Great characters, great development. Yes, its tone is different, but it had a tone of sacrifice and danger that I think is missing from many of the core films.

The Journey Home (Saturday: 24). We got up bright and early on Saturday to go down to San Marteen for the holiday. That's been our pattern the last few years and it's been quite nice staying over and having Christmas with the folks. But it's quite long to BART down to Fremont, then drive to San Marteen: over an hour and a half. I keep praying for the southern BART stations to open, but Warm Springs BART is entering its third year behind schedule. It's apparently been built, but they're losing trains between Fremont and Warm Springs. Theoretically, Berryessa is going to also open in 2017, which is the exciting one because it's right next to many folks I know, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Tichu! (Saturday+: 24+). We often play games while down in San Marteen, and this time around I brought Tichu because the Wiedlins are big card-playing folks. Rob, my Mom, Bob, and I played a couple of games on Saturday, and it went over great. (Then Jason and Kimberly joined us for a game on Sunday.) Well, Bob had some rather humorous problems distinguishing the phoenix and the dragon; I'm not convinced he realized they were separate cards at first and he never quite figured out their scoring and use. But even with that, everyone enjoyed the game, and I believe multiple folks wanted to get their own copies. (In fact, my siblings later made up their own deck for New Years!) It's definitely going into my bag regularly for future South Bay trips (except that I need to get a fresh copy soon, as mine is pretty worn from ~20 games).

I Am the Ping Pong King! Ko-ko-kachu. (Saturday+: 24+). There is always ping pong at the Wiedlin household, and I managed to remain undefeated against Bob, Rob, and Jason. (Well, undefeated in two-out-of-three sets; two of them came down to the rubber match.) I'll also admit that two of my opponents were somewhat intoxicated due to the beer & pizza from just beforehand. Probably primarily from the beer.

It's Starting to Feel a Lot Like Christmas (Sunday: 25). Christmas morning at the Wiedlin house is fun and chaotic. Stockings for us kids and lots of presents that everyone is crazily opening their prezzies simultaneously. There was much loot, including a nice windbreaker, a nice jacket, some hiking shoes (all successfully tried out!), and a few games. Thanks parents and siblings!

Farm, Farm on the Range (Sunday+: 25+). One of the presents I got from Rob was Stardew Valley, a computer game that I'd mentioned, that he then ran out and gifted to me on Steam. I'd heard good things about this roleplaying farm-sim, and occasionally I play extensively through a game over my holiday break. This seemed like a good time to return to that old habit. Steam says I played it for over 20 hours, so it's definitely a success (and speaks well to my relaxing over the holiday!).

It's Starting to Feel a Lot Like Christmas II (Sunday: 25). At home, late on Sunday night, Kimberly and I had our own Christmas. There were more stockings (prepared by her this year, with just a little help from me because she was feeling time-crunched) and more prezzies. Nice Hawaiian shirts, a TARDIS mug, and more wonderful Kimberly-created bookmarks. Yay.

Hike Any Mountain (Monday: 26). On my Monday back from San Marteen I needed some restful, relaxation time, so I did my most common medium-length hike up in the hills behind us. I walk up to the rear of Strawberry Canyon and then loop back over the top of Panoramic Hill. It's about two hours, has a nice ascent, and great views. I also wanted to try out my new hiking shoes, and they worked great. No slipping, nor sliding, not even after I hiked down some places that usually give me problems.

A Night at the Movies II (Monday: 26). I got Kimberly a few DVDs for Christmas, and we watched one of them Monday night: JasonBourne. She was a big fan of the first three, and I'm happy to say we were both quite pleased with the fifth-ish one. It was nice to see Bourne's super competence expressed in a new way, through more thoughtful and tactical work. We had some problems with the pile of coincidences implicit in the main antagonist, but other than that, this was a fine movie. I have no idea why Rotten Tomatoes rates it exactly the same as The Bourne Legacy (the pseudo fourth movie), because that was a big "Who Cares?" while this was entirely enjoyable and provided some nice closure.

The MOMA Has No Clothes (Tuesday: 27). Imagine a room filled with black sand. On the opposite wall is a shattered mirror. Off to another side is a picture of a hand holding a bean, way up on the wall where it's hard to see. A voice intones deeply accented gibberish. Wait, there's no need to imagine, because this crap is actually an installation at the MOMA in San Francisco. AKA, the sort of crap that gives modern art a bad name. Also there, giving modern art a bad name: a pile of red, white and blue bicycles, a triptych of entirely white canvases, an entirely black canvas, and an entirely blue canvas. MOMA should be ashamed of displaying that sort of thing. But we also saw great mobiles by Alex Calder, interesting cityscapes made up of individual photos, some other nice collages, and a beautiful set of dodecahedrons made with string and some sort of metal. It was an enjoyable four(!) hours at the MOMA, but probably our last visit while we live in California.

It's Starting to Feel a Lot Like Christmas III (Wednesday: 28). Melody and Jared visited us on Wednesday to complete our trilogy of Christmases. We talked, we ate at Chevy's, and we exchanged gifts for gift cards.

Game On! (Wednesday: 28). This year I've mostly been coming home from EndGaming pretty early, because Kimberly has been going to bed early, but on Wednesday I splurged and told Kimberly I'd be home after she was asleep. As a result I got to play two long games: Orleans: Invasion and Key Harvest. Yay! It was a lot of fun!

Park Place (Thursday: 29). Kimberly and I like occasionally going out to Golden Gate Park, getting Andronico's sandwiches, eating them, and wandering around. So we did that on Thursday. I have a new appreciation for the park since I've been to New York, as it's so different from Central Park. It protects you from the city, whereas Central Park feels like a big bowl with city all around. Anywho, we walked around, and I kept getting turned around. It was fun. On our way out I climbed Strawberry Hill, and was impressed by the views.

On the Seventh Day He Rested (Friday: 30). After six days of running about, I mostly relaxed at home on Friday. Though I must admit I did a short climb above Clark Kerr (my 60-minute or so super-short walk up in the hills). And we ate dinner out. And we got groceries.

These Shoes Were Made For Walking (Saturday: 31). I had a casual morning on Saturday, but after lunch I decided to head out to Briones Reservoir, an EBMUD area that I've been wanting to explore for a while. Google tricked me into thinking Bear Creek Trail went right out to Bear Creak Road, but all that was there was an inaccessible fire trail. So instead it was another .6 miles up the road and 300 feet of ascent, which tired me out before the walk. The actual Reservoir is gorgeous with great hillside trails looping around it. And it was entirely empty due to EBMUD's policy of making it as hard as possible for people to use their trails. And best of all, there were benches every mile or so. I only walked about a mile and half out (then the same back), but I now really want to figure out how to walk the whole reservoir. It's 12.5 miles, or 14.5 if I don't bike up that steep hill, so it'll take some stamina and a full day. Maybe in Spring.

A Final Gift from 2016 (Saturday: 31). While I was out hiking, Kimberly was sickening with the flu. Thanks 2016, you rock.

Writing Like He's Running Out of Time (Saturday+: 24+). And finally, writing. In recent years, I've used my last week of the year to write really extensively, but this year (shocker) I decided to mostly relax instead. Oh, I did write whenever I was on a BART train, and there were quite a few. So I got a few histories done going to Fremont and back and bits and pieces on my other trips. But I'm probably a bit behind going into the new year. But, this post is done. My 2016 index for Mechanics & Meeples is done. My 2016 RPG year in review needs a double-check for important stuff and an edit and it's done. And then I need to see if it's possible to get a week ahead on my histories like I'd hope.

But carefully. I wouldn't want to lose my week of R&R.
shannon_a: (Default)
As we closed in on lunchtime on the Friday after Thanksgiving I was determined to find myself a tasty sandwich that I could eat up in the hills above Berkeley.

But Cheese 'n Stuff was closed. So was IB Hoagies. I finally decided to walk all the way up to North Berkeley to get a delicious Andronico's sandwich.

Truth to tell, I hadn't even expected to be back in Berkeley on Friday morning.



One day earlier. We headed out to BART at a quarter 'til 10 on Thursday, for Thanksgiving down in San Marteen. It's the first time we've had Thanksgiving there in I dunno how long, and I think it happened primarily because I quizzed early about plans in San Marteen rather than just waiting and then making our own plans up here when things were getting toward the last moment. So, yay.

K. and I packed pills and toiletries and clothes to stay over night, though we weren't definite about doing so. That's foreshadowing about that whole not-expecting-to-be-in-Berkeley-on-Friday bit.

Jason picked us up in Fremont, because the Warm Springs BART station, now two years late, still hasn't happened. We got to see his new house on the way to San Marteen. It seemed very nice.

Then we were down to San Marteen by noon or so, which was great. There was talking and ping ponging and then dinner around 2.30. More talking and some football watching (which I find interesting enough though it's never something I'd do on my own) and some gaming with Between Two Cities and Dixit. It was feeling like late evening by the time Jason and Lisa and Rob were all planning to head out, but it was only 6 or 7 or something, which was pretty cool — getting such a full day in and still having evening ahead of us.

I was somewhat concerned about staying overnight because of the fact that the heat wasn't working at Casa Wiedlin in San Marteen. There were fires and heaters going all over the house and it was keeping it from being super cold. But I thought it was going to be pretty cold in the morning.

But then there was the pumpkin pie incident.

K. awoke from her post-turkey stupor, ate pumpkin pie, and got sick from it. So we ultimately decided to head home on Thursday night so she could be sick there instead of at someone else's house.

Rob drove us, so we got to talk to both brothers on different car trips.

The Warm Springs BART extension still wasn't open, so he took us up to Fremont.



Friday, I did get my sandwich at Andronico's.

Another side effect of the is-it-a-holiday-or-is-it-not problem of Black Friday was that AC Transit was running a weekday schedule. So I had to hike all the way up to Euclid to catch a bus, and it didn't deliver me quite into Tilden.

But I had a nice lunch in Tilden, then I wrote for a while, then I walked all the way home from there: up through southern Tilden, around Strawberry Canyon, and then down Panoramic Hill. Somewhere over 10 miles total, the exact sort of nice hike in the hills that I'd been wanting for a few weeks.



Saturday was gaming, our first full session of Burning Wheel play. We're still at that uncomfortable point where we're learning a game system, and Burning Wheel is quite complex, which means we'll be there for a while.

But, the gears kept turning and we continued our development of our story.

The AP of our game so far is here though I haven't added this week's session yet. As always, there are too many things to write. (More on that momentarily.)



Sunday was rest (and writing). But after some early afternoon naps, K. and I put up our Christmas tree.

This is an artificial tree that K. found after last year's sawing-the-tree-in-half debacle. Putting the new tree together and spreading out all the branches took forever and was quite exhausting, but I compared it to going across town to pick out a tree, and it wasn't too bad. And that was on top of moving various book cases and a cat tree out of the way to provide space for the christmas tree. And moving a cat out of the way, as Callisto kept insisting on jumping on the top of the cat tree whenever it stopped for a moment in its movements. This made things particularly difficult when the cat tree had to go through low doorways.

After all that, the hanging of lights and ornaments was pretty easy.

So there's now a nice tree in the corner of our living room. Callisto has only made one mad rush at it so far, threatening that she might climb straight up it.



Also busyness this weekend: writing, writing, writing.

  • Prep for Saturday adventure (due Friday night; done). I had fun detailing places and people in our city of Eligium, starting to create the modern basis of our world.
  • Edits and expansions of three Pathfinder ACG strategy articles (due Sunday night; done).
  • This journal entry (done).
  • AP for Saturday's game (due before I forget things; in process).
  • Four D&D Classic histories (due Monday night; three and a half drafted).
  • One Prince Valiant encounter (due Tuesday night; half done).
  • A very long Catan gamopedia (in process).

Whew.
shannon_a: (Default)
Goodbye to the Dream. I feel like I spent last week out of town (again). Three days of designworkshop were enough to totally fill my brain. It was only on Sunday night and Monday morning that I finally came out of my busy daze and started to remember the things I was working on the and the things I'd promised to people.

So, it's slowly back to work on personal and Skotos projects alike ... but it feels like it's been a million years.



Flying the Unfriendly Skies. I've been putting off getting tickets for next year's Hawaiian trip for over a month, but last night, with all of my October weights off my shoulders, I suddenly felt able to do so. And despite Hawaiian Airlines' ass-hattery this year, I went back to them.

Why? We have miles. In fact, we have more miles than I thought. I spent about 37% of the miles sitting on my account, along with $22.80 for tax and fees and was able to get our tickets to visit the folks next year.

So, I'm giving Hawaiian continued business, despite how they acted this year, but I'm not actually giving them any money. I can deal with that. And based on how many miles I have left, I should be able to do the same thing in 2018 and 2019.

Three years of free Hawaiian vacations! Woot!



The Defernestration Initiative. On Sunday morning, K. and I emerged from our house to find the tree in the median strip of our next-door neighbors entirely destroyed. It was literally ripped into multiple parts. My best guess is that on Saturday night a drunken college student tried to swing around on it. Whoops! (And then onward to more booze at the next party.)

This was one of three trees that were planted next to the apartments next to us about two years ago. Unfortunately, whoever was taking care of them did a bad job. Two died from lack of water. This third one survived its irresponsible upbringing ... but not irresponsible college students.

For those keeping score, drunken college students tried to kill one of our trees too, by backing a car into it. That was just before last winter, and it survived. But it was a year older than the next-door trees, and so better able to take the abuse.

Alas, what could have been five nice trees running along our side of the street has become two. The two in front of our house.



Open the Streets of My Heart! Sunday was Berkeley's fifth annual Open Streets, when Shattuck Avenue gets closed for a couple of miles and stuff happen. Kimberly and I walked it, had lunch at Saul's (on the far side), then walked it back.

Honestly, it was pretty mediocre. It was obvious that the event had been hurt by the last-minute cancellation last week (due to rain), because there just weren't as many vendors out. The crowds were more sparse too.

Every year, I've felt like the event has been a little bit less interesting than the year before. There were more actual fun things that first year, and our NIMBY merchants hadn't yet driven off the food trucks. Now? Pamphleteers, jewelry merchants, and advertisers.

Nonetheless, I always love being able to actually walk up Shattuck and back and feel for just a single day that we're not a car-obsessed culture. Yeah, it's just an illusion, but still ...

And K. did find some jewelry.



Winter is Coming. I fear that my evening hikes have come to an end for 2016.

'SFunny, it wasn't even a thing before this year. But early in the year, my doc advised against biking for a while (as part of a long and fruitless series of medical exams and procedures that brought me nothing but annoyance and pain), so I took up hiking in the hills above our house and I've come to really like the fire trails and other paths there.

But the rain has started to come down, and the trails are getting muddy, and soon enough we're going to lose a precious hour of evening sunlight.

So I'm going to need to figure out how to get my evening exercise again. Maybe nighttime bike rides, maybe Dance Dance Revolution which I haven't done in a few years.

But winter is (sadly) coming.
shannon_a: (Default)
I was severely at loose ends today, between my gaming being cancelled, and not having any brain space to make alternative plans due to the Rebooting the Web of Trust design workshop. So, pretty spontaneously today I decided to go out to the Lafayette Reservoir.

I'd tried to visit one other time, while I was abike, and discovered they had annoying restrictions against bikes most of the time. It struck me as even more discriminatory today when I discovered that they were even banning bikes from getting up to the parking lot where all their gas-guzzling, environment-destroying cars were allowed to park.

But I digress.

The point is that I biked out to Rockridge BART, locked my bike up there, then BARTed out to Lafayette, with the intent to walk the mile to the Reservoir.

Of course I immediately regretted not having my bike when I got to Lafayette because I discovered the main path leading from BART to the downtown is blocked off through the end of November. So, it was a quarter of a mile out of my way to go back and forth to my intended place for lunch, Baja Fresh.

And then I discovered that the Baja Fresh had gone out of business, so it was half-a-mile out of my way, straight away from the Reservoir, to Taco Bell. (I later learned there were some acceptable restaurants along the way to the Reservoir, but I didn't want to take the chance of that not happening.)

And thus I ended up walking a mile and a half to get to the Reservoir, but I suppose walking was the purpose of the day.

The entrance to the Reservoir is an ugly asphalt-choked road with pedestrian paths a clear afterthought. But once I got up to the Reservoir proper, I found a lovely area with shaded picnic areas and entrances to the paths around the Reservoir.

I took the outermost trail, which runs along the edges of the Reservoir property line. It's in very challenging and hilly terrain that often jogs straight up then straight down and the whole trail is almost 5 miles. I quite enjoyed it; it was good hiking, of the sort I've enjoyed lately. I was also pleased to discover that it's not an entirely segregated path. There are about half-a-dozen official paths out to the local communities (most of them not marked on any maps). There should be more, but the existing ones at least help to make the path more of a community resource. (And make it so that you don't have to come into that main entrance to get into the Reservoir.)

One of the few marked alternate entrances to the Reservoir is at Meadow Park Ct. west of the Reservoir. Sadly the area seems to be inhabited by hateful NIMBYs who would fit right into many parts of Berkeley. They'd put up a sign at the clearly official entrance to the Reservoir saying that "iPhone Maps" was wrong and that if people were trying to get into the Reservoir, they should go to the main entrance off Mt. Diablo. I have to presume the area contains some ex-hippies-now-Trump-voters who have gotten pissed at people parking on their street to hike in the Reservoir, so they posted their little lying hissy-fit sign.

So, if you want to visit the Reservoir to hike, that's where I suggest you park. It's labeled "Lafayette Entrance 1" on Google "iPhone" Maps. You won't get the amenities of bathrooms and picnic tables, but you'll be on one of the main trails within 10 feet of entering the park.

I walked in and out of the park through some of the entrance along Moraga Way on my way back, and eventually left the park entirely atop a hill above Mt. Diablo Way. I'd been hoping that one of these routes would be more attractive and closer to BART than the main entrance, but I'm not convinced that's the case.

Though not ideal for walking from BART, several of them would be move convenient if you had a bike and needed to lock it up before entering the park — Lafayette Entrance 1, an entrance at the end of Paseo Grande, and an unmarked entrance up a semi-secret (but clearly official) stairway off of Calle La Montana were all straight off the street, which is probably superior to the quarter- or half-a-mile walk I had to make from the main entrance. So, if I was biking, I might take one of those.

Anyway, great hike. And quite relaxing, except when I had some college-age alcoholics behind me talking up a storm. "I try not to drink Monday to Wednesday," one says. The other replies "I try not to binge drink on the weekends." It's clear that they're both talking about extreme efforts of will. But then the second alcoholic follows it up with, "I feel like I'm pretty good at not drinking during the week. I mean Happy Hour, that's different."

So much for will power.

But I just, stopped, let them pass, then I had some nice solitude again, which was what I needed after three days spent Rebooting the Web (of Trust).
shannon_a: (Default)
I've mostly been able to relax since I got back from Canada.

OK, that's not strictly true, as I worked four days last week and also have written six D&D histories since I've gotten back (3 on BART, 3 in Alvarado Park). But that's "relaxation" for me.

Wednesday was the first morning I didn't wake up itching as my antihistamines wore off. My rash is pretty much gone at this point (and I used up the last of my Canadian antihistamines this morning, so good timing.)



My dad and Mary are currently out from Hawaii. They actually came out the same day I returned from Canada, arriving in the Bay Area just a few hours after I did. We don't see a lot of them when they're visiting, because they stay with Melody and Jared, with my dad helping around the house and them both seeing friends. But we usually get together and visit at least once while they're out here, and that was on Wednesday.

It was my dad's birthday. After lunch at home, Kimberly and I took BART down to Fremont and met my dad, Mary, and Melody (Jared worked the day). The plan was to go out for a hike. Since K. still isn't up to hills, Melody and I figured out that the Quarry Lakes Regional Park would be a good choice.

This is a bunch of lakes just past the 'burb of Niles. I'm guessing they used to be quarries, but that's just speculation. (Actually, the web site confirms: "Gravel taken from the banks of Alameda Creek was used in the construction of the transcontinental railroad's western section.")

Anywho, it was a nice walk around a park that I hadn't visited before. I've actually biked a bit of Alameda Creek on the opposite side, but I'd never walked the northward side or around the quarry lakes beyond. It was pleasant, California terrain. Lots of brown brush, but quite pleasant lakes (though the path was always further than the lakes than I would have hoped). We walked around the majority of the lakes, which was a pretty big distance. My FitBit records 2 hours of walking and over 10,000 steps, which would have been nearly 5 miles. Looking at my records, I can tell that I was walking slower than normal because only 76/128 minutes were up in the fat burning zone.

There was a cross-country meet going on while we were there, with many girls running around us. One team (the red team) was clearly doing much better than the other.

We also saw a SNAKE on the trail. Just a small little thing. It wouldn't have bothered me if Kimberly hadn't shouted about it, then for a moment I couldn't figure out where it was, so I could only envision a huge rattler pouncing on us. I screamed like a little girl.



Jared joined us afterward and we had dinner at an Indian restaurant in Newark that was shockingly empty. It was good food, and surprisingly my second Indian food in a week (the previous being in Canada!).

Overall, a nice day, good seeing family and hanging out. It was also the exact antidote that I needed after my exhausting week in Canada, nicely breaking up my week back.
shannon_a: (Default)
Kimberly says that Labor Day is her least favorite day of the year. It's because of the block party, a loud, raucous affair with blasting music that takes over the next block around lunch time and continues through the day. I've long thought that the people putting it on are horribly abusing whatever permit they get from the city, because it's decidedly not a block party, it's a party to which they invite all their friends from the entire East Bay.

But there are some fights to be fought, and some not.



So today I suggested to K. that we should go out to Glen Park, and we did. We were out of the house before 10 and walking up into the park by 11 or so. We had a nice lunch from the overpriced but tasty Canyon Market that we ate in the park and then hiked along the canyon walls, a trek that was supported (literally) by the new walking poles that K. got recently.

We really had no desire to come home afterward, so after the hike, we hung out at a park/playground for a few hours, me writing and K. working on her iPad, then walked back the long way to 24th & Mission BART.

Ironically, the first time we went up to Glen Park was Labor Day, 2013. I didn't write about why we went that day, but obviously we were avoiding the obnoxious block party then too. Afterward, we did the same walk down through Diamond Heights to 24th and Mission, and I remember being really tired out by it. Not at all today — not by the climb up the canyon and not by the walk down to the Mission. So yay for improved physical fitness (particularly walking) over the last three years.

And by the time we got home the party had only an hour or so left to go.



The rest of the weekend I've been out and about too. On Saturday I walked from our house up to Lake Anza in Tilden via the fire trails above Clark Kerr and Strawberry Canyon. I used to think that Tilden was far away, so it's pretty great to to hike up there and to think nothing of it.

On Sunday, I mostly lazed around, but after dinner I did a quick (well, 100 minute or so) 5-mile hike from the south side of Clark Kerr to the UC Botanical Gardens and back.

It's really cool to have all those trails to accessible, so close, and offering so many different possibilities.



I've been doing plenty of writing, of course, working on three really tough histories this week for DMSGuild (and ultimately for my sequel to Designers & Dragons). I can't quite say they're about three major products for D&D, but they are about two major products, and one other that was deserving of a major history. They'll be up on DMSGuild over the next two weeks and total about 6,500 words between the three of them.



And I'm getting ready for a semi-surprise trip to British Columbia. Oh, and I'd known it was a possibility since late July, I think. C. idly mentioned it and I realized I needed to get out of the house the next day to get my passport renewed, since that was just 7 weeks out at the time.

Surprisingly, my passport arrived just two weeks after I requested it. That helped make things stress free, especially since I was a bit worried about my name change, which had never been reflected on a passport. But no problem. (Apparently.)

Then last Monday, C. confirmed to me that I was being invited on the British Columbia trip, if I thought I could deal with all the people for a full week.

The reason is a company retreat for the blockchain company that C. is now working at, and that I've been doing tech writing and editing for. I really have little idea what to expect, but I've liked working with them, and I'd liked to be included going forward, so it seemed like a good thing to do.

The venue looks beautiful, but as I told C., I hope I actually get to see some of it, and not just be stuck in a hotel the whole time. (He says there are breaks in the schedule, but we'll see how it all works out.)

Anywho, I've been trying to get books read and histories and reviews and APs written before I leave; starting tomorrow I also need to get more serious about getting a few Skotos things out of my hair.

And then it'll be off into the blue for a week away from home. Busiest year in maybe forever, since they'll be my third major trip, after Hawaii and New York.

Lucky we aren't ending up in Hawaii for Christmas too, like we'd originally considered.
shannon_a: (Default)
In Which My Hair is Butchered. K. was kind enough to cut my hair on Sunday, which she had done once before with the newish electric razor we have. Because of the long hiatus between the two instances she got confused about what the proper setting was for the razor, which was amplified by her trying to cut with the cover on backwards. When she was done, I had no hair. Quite literally. Between my hairlessness and my Van Dyke, I just need a black porkpie to look like a sociopathic drug manufacturer.

In Which My Cat Escapes a Harness. I've wanted to harness train Callisto since we got her, so K. and I started in on that in the last couple of weeks. Except she totally freaks out when the harness is on, moving like her back is broken, scuttling like a crab, etc. She also tries to lick it off continuously. To try and show her the benefits, we took her out to the deck last week, and that seemed to work OK. But then K. took her out to the front yard and sat with her on the steps. She apparently got freaked out, because when I opened the front door to see how things were going, she bolted for the foyer so hard that she somehow slipped out of the harness. I think we're done harness training her.

In Which I Hike. I am once again on no-biking duty because it would upset a test my doctor has requested. So instead I hiked from Lake Anza, through Tilden, and down home on Saturday. It was a nice long hike. I also did my more typical 70 minute hike this evening, up the fire trails and back down Panoramic Hill. Lots of beautiful views on both those days (though Saturday was a bit hazy).

In Which I Also Walk. On Sunday, when K. wasn't busy butchering my hair, we went out for a long midday walk, traversing another half-a-walk from our Berkeley Walks book. This time we did the first half of the Southside walk, which took us from Telegraph & Bancroft, up toward College and back. (I figured it was the time to do it before the streets filled with returning students.) I knew a lot of what we saw and even predicted some of sites. However, I added dates and details to my knowledge base. Most surprising was that the Togo's was designed by Julia Morgan. That is, the storefront on Bancroft that had a Togo's twenty-five years ago (and the Double Rainbow Cafe on one side and something else on the other) was a Julia Morgan design. The only major change mentioned was that the interior courtyard used to be open. We still have half that walk to do, then another 16 in the book.

In Which the Health Problems Continue. Saw a Doc last Wednesday, to no great results. We agreed that all the drugs had done little good. So he's now got me scheduled for more annoying tests (c.f., no biking), which are to look for unlikely but scary things. If that doesn't turn anything up, then it's off to different specialists. The psychological weight of this (really, of constantly feeling uncomfortable) was really getting to me last week, but I managed to lighten it a bit by taking some music out with me on some of my walks and dancing and singing as I went, without caring who thought I was crazy. (I rarely care who thinks I'm crazy.)

In Which Our Anniversary is Coming. K. and I will be celebrating our 16th Anniversary on Friday at Millennium. Yay.

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