shannon_a: (politics)
San Francisco, Saturday: Right-wing neo-nazi enabler with permit for nazi-enabling rally decides at last minute to move his rally to some place he doesn't have a permit for. Unshockingly, city, which had prepared for right-wing violence at old location, doesn't allow last-minute move to new, unpermitted and unprotected location. Was there magic thinking that neo-nazis could find new rally location and counter-protesters couldn't? Do neo-nazis perhaps have rally telepathy? Or had neo-nazi enabling leader just realized they had almost no turn-out and wanted to be able to blame their failure on mean, mean city? Possibly, neo-nazis just couldn't find parking in city, especially not after last-minute move. Neo-nazi enabling leader then goes on run for day, ending up in Pacifica before finally returning to city for rally he called. There, he finds 20-25 depressed racists (or racist enablers) in Chrissy Fields. Meanwhile, thousands of counter protesters march the streets.

UC Berkeley, Saturday. UC Berkeley Police decide they might like to control crowds this time, rather than allow free reign to arsonists and anarchists, so they block off western crescent where Sunday's anti-hate rally is to be held. And then they go so far overboard that they literally become the fascists that the protesters are protesting against. They ban numerous extremely dangerous objects from the western crescent, like water bottles, backpacks, and liquids that aren't factory sealed. Because free speech can only be truly free when its practitioners are naked and thirsty. Berkeley residents initially respond using their favorite method: they write aggrieved letters to the editor from their home offices, looking out over their multi-million-dollar views. Not that they were going to the protest any way. Because it's not like a Safeway is being rebuilt or anything.

Berkeley Civic Center Park, Sunday. Today's bigotry-support rally is inexplicably labeled "Against Marxism", as if that's some sort of political force in the US. They might as well be protesting against Sufragettes. Maybe they're just trying to cosplay alongside the counter protesters, whose anti-Nazi protesting could be straight out of the 1940s.

Berkeley Skies, Sunday. The helicopters are buzzing the city by 10am. I imagine "reporters" perched in their vulture-mobiles salivating, hoping for the ratings-inducing violence they were denied in San Francisco yesterday. When asked, Berkeley rarely fails to produce a spectacle on command, full of drama and violence, signifying nothing. And the news vultures know it.

On the Ground in Berkeley, Sunday. I regret the fact that Kimberly, a week and a half into a sickness, isn't well enough to escape into San Francisco with me, as we'd planned, but I'll find somewhere else to go after lunch, lest the constant buzz of the vultures for 8 or so hours raise my stress to a breaking point.

Hills above Strawberry Canyon, Sunday. I bake my stress out in the blazing kiln of the East Bay Hills. As I hike higher and higher the antagonist thwip-thwipping of the helicopters soon becomes a dull roar, occasionally drowned out by the susurruss of Highway 24. I stop to write. I hike more. I ascend ever higher and as I drop behind a stutter ridge, the helicopter pollution fades away. The heat blazes to 90. The tension sweats down my back. I eventually decide to loop up to the Tilden Steam Trains and back, mainly because I can refill my water bottle there. I really need a second water bottle for some of these hikes. 

UC Berkeley, Sunday. So how do real people react to the UC Berkeley police's extreme fascism? They just refuse to enater the barricaded western crescent. Duh. Absolutely no one could have predicted that having such huge restrictions that a normal persona couldn't enter the "free speech zone" would result in people not doing so. Congrats UC Police, you have 3,000 people roaming the streets, totally uncontrolled and uncontained. Thankfully, these are the anti-hate folks, who responsibly protest according to the SPLC guidelines: away from the racists (and their racist enablers). So the UCPD's incompetency won't cause problems.

Hills above Strawberry Canyon, Sunday. I descend down some of the trails burned by last month's fire. The hillsides are dusted with white, and the path is covered with rocks. It feels like a metaphor for Donald Trump. The fire promised change, but all it did was burn away necessary vegetation, causing rocks to tumble down, creating a rubble-strewn commons. But that's not it at all, because Trump lied about everything he was promising before the election and afterward. A better analogy would be if the fire claimed there was no greenery above Strawberry Canyon, and then burned it all down, and you realized that the best you could hope for is that the greenery would eventually grow back to be what it was before Trump sullied the White House.

Civic Center Park, Sunday. The bad protesters are out at the Civic Center Park . And, I don't mean the racists (and racist enablers) because only about twenty of them show up. I mean the so-called antifa, who are our black bloc anarchists under a more publicly acceptable name. The fact that they come masked and armed to demonstrations really says it all. Predictably, they break into the park, assault people, and generally seem to create a riot all on their own. Bad news organizations call them far-left because the so-called reporters are far too stupid to understand that political beliefs do not run along a single line. It's these anarchists who have been the criminal drag on all of our Bay Area protests for the last decade. And they turn out to be the only actual problems in Berkeley today too. And beating up the racists, perhaps even the maybe-racists, that's a bad look. It lets them act like martyrs as they post their tear-filled screeds from their mother's basement. It maybe even targets people guilty of nothing more than stupidity or enabling of racists, neither of which deserves physical assault. Fortunately, the anarchists are outnumbered by a factor of ten or more, so pretty soon everyone goes to Ohlone Park to hear a sermon, and the whole day anticlimaxes just like Saturday in San Francisco.

In My Head, Sunday. My first reaction to these two days of failed alt-reich demonstrations is that white nationalists are really awful organizers, and that explains a lot about the White House this year. But a more optimistic side of me hopes that we've hit an inflection point. That the neo-nazis were morons to out themselves so publicly in Charlottesville with their zieg heils and their swatstikas. A year too late, so my theory goes, the more righteous right-wingers have realized that they're aiding and abetting awful human beings, and have decided to stop. So every right-wing demonstration since Charlottesville has been attended by just tens of people. Some have decided to demonstrate online instead, as pathetic as that sounds. Is it true? Time will tell. 

South Berkeley, Sunday. I descend from the hills. The helicopters are gone.
shannon_a: (Default)
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)
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.

Lazy Daze

May. 30th, 2016 11:01 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
I have been mostly burned out since returning from New York late Tuesday. I've been successfully catching up on my Skotos work and even doing a few larger tasks, but my evenings, when I usually work on my own projects, have been mostly lazy times.

Oh, I've been reading. And watching some TV. (And getting groceries and eating out with the wife.) But I typically spend a few hours or more writing and/or editing my own stuff in the evenings, and I just haven't had the stick-to-it to do it.

Apparently spending six days working hard from morning to night take their toll.

My work days in Manhattan looked like this: wake up at 7am; out of the house by 7.30; work until 5 or 6pm; walk home, explore, and get home by 8pm; Skype with the wife; talk with Chris; write a journal entry; get into the shower by 11pm; read a chapter or two afterward to despaz the mind and try to get into bed by midnight.

So, no wonder it tired me out.

Today K. and I were free from work and other obligations, and so we decided to picnic out at Glen Canyon Park. It's one of our favorite semi-distant destinations because it's very near a BART station, but it's nonetheless a large, beautiful park that feels like it's out in the middle of nowhere. (That's doubtless helped by the fact that it's indeed in a canyon.)

We picked up our picnic (sandwiches & chips & desserts) at the Canyon Market, per usual, hiked out to where we know there are picnic tables, lunched, then hiked on.

The hike through the canyon itself is always beautiful. K. describes it as jungley, while it reminds me of Ed Levin Park above Milpitas, where I sometimes went to a day camp when I was growing up. The foliage often completely enshrouds the path, but at the same time it's very well-maintained.

(In fact, in our occasional trips to Glen Canyon, over the years, we've enjoyed seeing it improving. It's not just that they're building new facilities [which I could care less about, though it'd be nice if they had some actual bathrooms]. It's also that they're improving the trails, especially the hillside ones.)

K's ongoing knee problems kept us from climbing up the hillsides, but we did drift up a bit on our way back, allowing us to see down into the jungley canyon.

Overall, it was a fine Memorial Day, though our trip back was a little annoying. As usual lately, BART had some of their lines down for the holiday weekend (because what better time is there to screw up the BART lines then on holidays?), but they were starting them back up for the Warriors game. So we hit the transfer point at 19th Street in Oakland to find one train entirely missing, presumably because they'd just turned the Fremont line back on. So we waited for 21 minutes for what should have been a timed transfer (or close to it).

But we had our current read-aloud book with us, The Aeronaut's Windlass. We ended up reading a total of 3 chapters over the course of the day.

Overall a nice day, and a nice weekend (between a totally lazy Sunday and some fun Castle Ravenloft Board Game playing on Saturday).

Hopefully I'll be a bit recovered coming into the new week.
shannon_a: (Default)
Kimberly and I both had a busy rest-of-Thanksgiving.

On Friday, we did our own things. Unsurprisingly for me, that meant a bike ride. I opted to bike the Lafayette-Moraga trail, which I haven't in some time. It's a beautiful trail that runs south of Lafayette and starts ascending into the hills as it approaches Moraga. There are some really nice vistas (and a nice waterfall, though I haven't seen water falling in some years). There also seem to be more autumnal trees on the trails east of the hills, which was another reason I was eager to see it.

Any who, it was a nice ride. I took Moraga Way back, which landed me in Orinda. I was surprised how short the whole trip was. 16 miles or something. That used to be a major ride, but no longer. I was also surprised how much ascent there is. I'm not quite sure the altitude of Lafayette, but I hit a height of 777 feet on Moraga Way, just above Orinda. That would be much of the way up to the ridge line if I were riding the hills on this side.

When I got back to Berkeley, I picked up K. from the movies, then we had dinner at Cancún, then we had groceries at Safeway.

Fun times.

On Saturday, Kimberly and I each found ourselves without our regular Saturday gettogether, so we opted to go out to Golden Gate Park together. We took BART to the N-Judah to an Andronico's south of the Park, where we picked up sandwiches, soda, and chips. Then we hiked in to the Park, to Fern Grotto, where we planned to eat our lunch.

Unfortunately, Fern Grotto was criss-crossed with cautionary tape and warnings about construction. I looked in, and the Fern Grotto itself looked fine. So we ducked under the tape, wandered into the Grotto, and ate on one of the pleasant benches. Squirrels looked over us the whole time, sometimes jumping toward us through the trees in little military formations before ducking back. But, we were unmolested as we ate (and later did some writing).

The construction seemed to actually be going on at the AIDS Memorial Grove, down at the end of the Fern Grotto, so sadly we weren't able to visit there.

We wandered the east part of the Park for a while, and finally decided to pay the admission to the Conservatory of Flowers — a little five-room hothouse erected in the 1870s. It was pleasant as always (and the warmest I'd been in weeks). I love the central room, with its high ceilings and stained glass. I love the water flowers room with its big pool. This time around the special exhibit was about the Pan-Pacific Exposition of 1915, and there were lots of models of it all. Such a pity that none of the Pan-Pacific buildings survived other than the Palace of Fine Arts (but it was all built poorly with temporary materials, so no surprise). Any who, neat little exhibit.

We exited the Park, then walked along the Panhandle, then decided to walk back to BART. That means we walked the Wiggle to Market. By the end of the day I was pretty tired! (Just over 10 miles or 23,000 steps according to my Fibit.)

Today was more restful. Well, other than a walk out to Holy Hill in the afternoon, then a walk to Ici for ice cream (and/or sorbet) in the evening.

But definitely less hustling around than the other days of the holiday.

So that was the holiday.

There was lots of eating out. There was lots of walking. There was lots of time spent with Kimberly. And there was a little bit of writing done.
shannon_a: (Default)
Today I attended the first day of #RebootingWebOfTrust and I'm exhausted. This is Christopher Allen's design shop to kickstart the next generation of decentralized trust technologies.

Here's what I learned.

BART Sucks. It's been a long time since I took BART during rush hour, and I'm pretty shocked by how jaw-droppingly horrible it's become. The train was almost 20 minutes late in the morning due to "a police matter at the Plaza", and that was unshocking. It seems like about 1 in 3 times I ride BART nowadays, there's a notable delay.

However, the absolutely jammed trains were surprising. Very tight standing room only all the way from Berkeley to Embarcadero. Coming back was even worse, though I got a seat that time, because I was bright enough to walk up to the Civic Center before boarding. (Boy does Market Street go to Hell between Powell and Civic Center.) By the time we got to Embarcadero they needed those Japanese workers who cram people onto trains. (The driver eventually had to tell people to get back and wait for the next train.)

BART literally should be running twice as many trains during rush hour as they are, from what I saw.

Decentralized Trust People Rock. The workshop was a collection of people who were not just smart, but nice, and able to work in groups. I was astounded by how low the ego was for these top-class security and privacy folks. They were happy to listen to peoples' ideas and really think about them before producing a collaborative work that everyone contributed to. Co-operative work is often hard, because people take over groups, and though there were certainly leaders, they weren't controllers to the same extent.

San Francisco is a Nice Place to Visit … The conference room for the workshop was up on the 23rd floor of Three Embarcadero Center in the Financial District, and it's got an absolute stunning panoramic view. You could see the whole Bay, from the Golden Gate Bridge in the north to the Bay Bridge in the south, and even the Richmond Bridge off in the distance. The Marin Headlands, Angel Island, Alcatraz, Treasure Island, every bit of it was visible … and very clear thanks to the rain we had yesterday.

But on the way back to BART I was reminded of why I'm happy I don't live in San Francisco. Because the streets were just jam-packed from Embarcadero to Powell or so, reminding me that SF (unlike Berkeley) is a real city. Then you start hitting the edges of the Tenderloin, and the crowds clear out, but what's left isn't that pleasant.

So, beautiful city, ugly city.

Security & Privacy Are Fun. There are a lot of fun topics under discussion. Stuff related to reputation and trust, PKIs and decentralization. Though I find this sort of all-day-around-people sort of thing very exhausting in and of itself, the topics were something that kept me interested. I'm looking forward to seeing the papers that come out of this.

One more day in San Francisco tomorrow.
shannon_a: (Default)
Met up with the Appels yesterday: my dad, Mary, Melody, Jarod, and new member, pup Koloa. (Kimberly was unfortunately unable to join us due to current struggles with meds.)

They picked me up at about 9.45. The plan was for 9.30, but they'd typed the wrong address into the Waze app and so Stephen Colbert (the current voice of Waze) correctly directed them to an incorrect address 12 blocks away, and then they had to drive across Berkeley, fighting with busy streets, to get back. I mention this mainly because overreliance on modern mapping apps was a theme for the day.

(That's foreshadowing.)

Our first stop was Land's End. That's the northwest corner of San Francisco. Kimberly and I have hiked there before, though that's five years gone I suspect. It's a great trail, very well-defined and pretty heavily used, but with beautiful views of the Golden Gate.

Unfortunately, it took us almost two hours to get from our house to Land's End. The Bay Bridge was awful (though my dad got to ride on the new bridge for the first time), and then the drive across San Francisco involved buses constantly pulling out at us and vehicles constantly illegally double-parked and causing us grief. We only got to Land's End around 11.30 or so, and even then there was a delay while my dad and I got some quick-energy from cookies and Mary had a whole salad for lunch (because she'd eaten breakfast at 6am).

The trail was nice, as ever. My dad was less-than-thrilled with the 10 or so flights of stairs, right in the middle, when you rise and then descend before heading on to Eagle's Point. But, there was nice scenery, nice company, and a dog having fun. It was great. There were also pictures taken along the way here and there.

At Eagle's Point we turned around and came back, with one change on the way back. When we got the Labyrinth, Mary, Melody, and I hiked down to see it (while Jared and my dad and the dog rested at the top). The Labyrinth is just a little spiral of stones that sits out on one of the promontories along the trail. It was recently destroyed by )*(#@_(#$ vandals, but we were happy to see it built up again. Melody and I each walked the Labyrinth and added a stone to it. Then it was back up to the main trail, which is a bajillion stairs (about 20 flights all told going to the Labyrinth and back). When I walked up those steps some years ago when Kimberly and I walked it, I was exhausted, but this time, I felt great. So, I'm clearly in better shape than I was several years ago. Yay, biking and Fitbit. (I turned out to have sore legs today though, presumably from the ~50 flights of stairs that I walked all together while out on the hike.)

And that was pretty much Land's End, the hiking and active part of our day.

Melody found us a nearby deli to have lunch at (a successful use of mapping technology). There was a bit of a wrangle about finding somewhere with outside seating so that Koloa could join us (another continuing theme for the day), but I came up with a solution to that: we got our sandwiches, and then drove a couple of blocks over to Golden Gate Park. After driving a few blocks through the Park, we found a picnic table, with parking nearby-ish. Voila!

(My dad was impressed with how well I knew the area, and I told him that though I don't get to SF much, when I do I'm walking or biking, and so I get to know the territory much better.)

The sandwiches were good. Three of us had Dutch Crunch, and it was good. There were chips too.

I was tempted to title this entry, "If you value your life, travel not to Point Reyes." Because that was our next destination. My dad had wanted to see it because he never had, in his decades in the Bay Area, and Jared and I had both glanced at Google Maps and seen that it was just an hour from Land's End.

So it seemed reasonable.

What we hadn't really realized is that Point Reyes is vast and empty. Though part of it is just an hour from San Francisco, you can keep driving and driving and driving and find nothing but roads for hours.

Our road to Point Reyes started when highway 1 diverges from 101. I saw a really cool bike trail there that seemed to be running on a wooden pier through a marsh or something. Looking at the maps now, I think it might have been a trail around Coyote Creek near Sausalito, but I'm not sure. 1 runs to the coast, and then up the coast. Unfortunately, early on it's way up in the hills, so you don't get great views until you drop down to Bolinas Lagoon (but that was beautiful). And it's full of twists and turns. Fortunately, there's was Bonine all around at lunch, thanks to my dad's supply and the supply I pilfered from Kimberly before I left.

Eventually we diverged from 1 and started heading deeper into Point Reyes, toward the Point. We were past an hour into the trip by this point, as we were well into the Park, and also often going slower than the speed limit on windy roads. (Stephen Colbert kept telling us there were traffic jams ahead, and as best I can figure, it's just because many cars in that area go below the speed limit, because they don't want to die.)

Coming up on two hours, we were deep into the Park and getting close the point, and zeroing in on some signs that promised beaches and a lighthouse. We finally chose Drake's Beach mainly because it promised bathrooms. On the way, the Waze app largely failed, telling us that we were driving through fields well before we got to the Beach.

Drake's Beach was cold and gray and very windy. The visitor's center there was closed, even though it should have been either open or just closing (because it was drawing up on 5pm). The bathrooms were open, though, and huge. There was a changing area that you could have fit a couple of king-sized beds in. Given the conditions of the beach, it was presumably for changing into parkas.

A lady walking her service dog on the beach told Jared and Melody not to walk their non-service-dog, lest they get ticketed. She suggested South Beach instead, which I picked out on a nice map on one of the walls of the area.

On the way away from Drake's Beach we saw the bizarrest thing: a huge elk head poking up over a hillside. There was presumably an elk attached. It had antlers from here to eternity. It seemed so over-the-top and larger-than-life that I figured it must be a statue or something, but Melody says it moved. (Perhaps it was just being blown by the gail-force winds.)

It was another mile to South Beach, where we find another wind-swept, frozen, post-apocalyptic wasteland. This was a pets-allowed beach, so Koloa frolicked around after her 5 or 6 hours in the car to that point. Fun was had by all. Except Mary, who hid in the car to avoid the gail.

We probably spent a total of 15-20 minutes on those two beaches. Tops. Then it was back in the car to escape from Point Reyes.

There were map-nav problems on the way home too, because we'd lost cell signals about 5 miles before we got to the Beaches. We hoped we could get signals back before we had to make the decisions about which way we were going as we got back toward civilization. Fortunately, my AT&T eventually picked up (and so we used Google Maps instead of Waze for the navigation on the way home).

We were fortunately able to take a different route home, which cut straight across the peninsula before dropping us back on 101. It was much less winding, and I found it much prettier. That's because the landscape was much more what I think of as typical California. Lots of hills, mixed green and brown.

Strangely: there were big rocks deposited here and there. Some were man-sized, some much larger. I don't tend to see rocks like that dotting the landscape in our local parks, so I was curious what was up with that.

And then we hit the Richmond bridge, and there was more horrible traffic. Because, apparently, bridges suck when you're not biking them (but they also suck when you can't bike them, which is currently the case for two of the three Bridges we rode over on Friday).

By now we were trying to figure out the meal-with-a-dog question again. Someone suggested we could maybe take something home, and I called Kimberly to get her OK on that. An hour and thirty minutes or so after we left South Beach, we thus pulled up into Oscar's, where we bought burgers, chicken sandwiches, and fries to take home.

Kimberly had the cats locked up by the time we got home, so Koloa was allowed in the house.

After the meal, though, I let Callisto out, and she was pretty OK with the dog. She kept sniffing him and laying down to watch him (safely out of reach!). She never seemed particularly concerned or worried about him, even though he's 4x her size. Well, except when she got stepped on by a backing-up Koloa, and then she went and hid out in the Dining Room for a bit, to clean herself.

So that was the big day with the Appels. The company was great and Land's End was great, but there was way too much driving afterward. My dad was pretty apologetic about picking Point Reyes, but none of us were too upset about it. Jared and I had both looked it up and raised no concerns, and as I said, it wasn't some place I would have ever biked too.

We all can say we saw Point Reyes now, and probably won't again.

I was dead exhausted by the time the family left around 9pm or so. Too tired to do anything but read, and much to Kimberly's surprise, I then went to bed early (something I pretty much never do, because I can't fall asleep).

I'm still worn out today. I had to have a fruit soda to get my energy up enough to role-play, but then managed to stay alert and awake for the afternoon. (Hopefully that tiredness is from the day full of driving and socializing, but Kimberly appears to have come down with a cold, so I may now be fighting that off too.)
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Yesterday the weather report said that the East Bay would be in the high 80s. That's very hot for us East-Bayers, so I decided to do my Saturday biking adventures in San Francisco. It's, I think, just the 4th day I've spent biking over in the City, and just the first time I've really dived into the heart of the City, rather than just riding the Bay.

I started out on Market Street, which the City Council has been working to quiet for years. The most recent change was just a few days ago when they outlawed turning onto Market Street from 3rd through 8th. The result is indeed a much quieter Market, with most of the traffic being buses, taxis, and bikes. Apparently Uber and Lyft were becoming a big problem on the street, especially for bicyclists (because they were regularly sitting in bike lanes) and they're pretty much gone now. Lower Market is still challenging because you have to dodge buses, but it wasn't the horrifically busy street that I remember (just bus-sy).

Further up Market Street, past 101, you duck behind a Safeway and then you're on the Wiggle, a bike route that even has its own PSA and theme song. It's pretty much the route between Market and the Panhandle. Nice, quiet streets with very clear markings that eventually bring you onto a protected bikeway that leads into the Panhandle, and beyond that Golden Gate Park. It's all very well constructed, and exactly the type of safe bikeway you can have on city streets with careful thought. (It was also the source of Civil Obedience from bicyclists in the last week; a local precinct started aggressively ticketing bicyclists on the Wiggle, so bicyclists started showing them what happened to traffic if they put their foot down at every stop on the Wiggle as the cops were requiring. Traffic snarled to a halt. Two full-stop demonstrations, and the clueless cops went back to what they're supposed to be doing, which is ticketing Vision Zero violations that actually cause traffic fatalities ... like cars not stopping.)

The Panhandle is AOK. I don't think I've ever gone its full length before, but the best part of the trip came when I got to Golden Gate Park. I don't like how many cars fill Golden Gate Park. I've never liked that. But a mile or so into the Park, the streets were blocked off for automobiles, and then it got pleasant. It got even nicer a bit further when my path diverged from the main road. Though the parts of GG Park right next to the roads are very crowded, you get just a quarter-mile from parking, and the Park becomes much quieter, because the people who use GG Park largely don't like to actually walk. And, I love the quieter, darker parts of the Park, which is just so full of nooks and crannies. My favorite stop for the day was the Polo Fields, which have a track around them that bicyclists train on. I decided to do a lap, and it was beautiful, fast surface. Even weirder was the Angling & Casting Club, which really looked like it should be a Roman Bath or or something. While in the Park, I actually got lost twice, once because of construction and once because I just got confused and took the wrong turn (ending up back at the Polo Fields instead of the Windmills). I love that the Park is big enough to allow that sort of thing. By the time I got to the Park's western extent, the temperature had dropped enough that the rest of the day was totally pleasant.

I had never realized that there's a long strip of public land on the west side of San Francisco that runs from Golden Gate Park to the SF Zoo. That's what I rode as I headed south. It's unbroken, with sand all around. Lots of people are crossing from the beaches back to their cars or houses. Often the dunes are too high to see the beach, but occasionally I got to see long vistas of the waves crashing into the sand. Ahhhh. The Bay is just nothing like the real ocean.

At the Zoo, I took a left and went here and there and ended up at Lake Merced. This is a big public land in the southwest corner of San Francisco, which had always caught my eyes on the maps. But it turns out to be pretty disappointing. Much of the green area there is actually surrounding golf courses. Then, the actual park just isn't that well constructed. There's a big lake, but it's far enough down from the park that you often can't see it. There isn't even a path around the lake at lake level! And there's too little seating and way too little shade. (Hello? Trees!?) I did find one of the scant trees and sat against it, overlooking the lake, writing for a while.

Afterward I went to Fort Funston, mainly because it was right next door. This used to be military defense, but it's now a beach and dog park. I locked my bike against a street sign (no bike parking at one of the entrances, darn it!) There were some nice trails here and there, and some interesting remnants of the base. Unfortunately, some of the park's main paths were ripped up for reconstruction, and apparently have been for some time. So, those was much walking in sand, and I was wearing the worst shoes for doing so. (Never, never, never will I ever again buy shoes with mesh across the top to create airflow; I got rain in my shoes last winter, sand in my shoes in Hawaii, and sand and dirt in my shoes yesterday.) Nonetheless, I enjoyed walking along the cliffs, then there was a viewing platform that I stood entranced on for a while, watching the beach and the views.

And that was pretty much it for the day.

I came back through Daly City, which was the only place that I had a jerk honking at me to get off the road. I find that ignorant asses like that are more common when you get outside the SF-Oakland-Berkeley area, so I wasn't surprised that I met one yesterday in Daly City. From there I looped back up into San Francisco, finally hopping back on BART at Glen Park. (And 'lo and behold, bike lanes reappeared as I moved from Daly City back into SF.)

The whole route was slightly under 25 miles in a big circle from Embarcadero, out to Golden Gate Park, down to the Zoo and then around to Fort Funston, over to Daly City, and then back in to SF. There were no hills of much note in that route. I did drop down as low as 50 feet or so and got as high as 400 (though I might have exceeded that on foot when I hiked around Fort Funston). The weird thing is that I circled all the big hills in San Francisco: Mount Davidson, the Twin Peaks, and Mount Sutro. I just stayed clear of them the whole way.

It was a nice ride with GG Park being the highlight, but I enjoyed seeing the more farflung places. And it was definitely cooler than the East Bay, especially when I was up against the Pacific, as I was most of the afternoon.
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Suddenly it's Birthday. / The longest holiday. / When they say 'Season's Greetings' / They mean just what they say. / It's a season, it's a marathon / Mature eternity / And it's not over til it's over / And you end the yearly spree. [Apologies to Loudon Wainwright III]

I sit amidst the debris of birthdays past. Bags and tissue paper sit about the room, while birthday cards look on for the mantle. The week of birthdays is finally over for Kimberly and me.

It was a week of food. Top Dog on campus for me, a pleasant evening of reading aloud in the growing shadows beneath Stephens Hall. For some reason K. laughed every time she talked about how I'd decided on Top Dog for my Birthday dinner. But a Chicken Apple Dog with Chili sounded like what I wanted most in the world that evening.

Then tonight there was an early dinner with the Wiedlins at Chevy's, which everyone seemed very happy with. Well, everyone except Jason and Lisa who sadly did not attend, due to illness.

But, the alternative would have been worse: "Guess what we got you for your birthdays? VIRUSES!!! Happy Birthday!"

And yesterday was the pièce de résistance. K. and I spent the day in San Francisco as a birthday celebration with much eating.

We got fancy-dancy sandwiches from the Canyon Market to eat at Glen Canyon Park. We've enjoyed the park a few times, set down in a ravine which makes the rest of the City invisible, and this time we were pleased to see many of its renovations complete. There's now actually an entrance to the park and even better there are now nice new stairways climbing out of the park up its steep sides if you exit further down the Canyon.

(And, we did, climbing the entire canyon wall to get up to Diamond Heights. It was better than scrambling up scree. After that, we hiked several blocks to get to a bus line which took us to a bus line which took us to ....)

Ghirardelli Square is often the highlight of a day in San Francisco. What can I say? Chocolate fans! We also enjoyed sitting out at Aquatic Park, enjoying the view and the Bay and the breeze (and reading aloud). As I told K., the stone bleachers looking down on the park remind me of the public works of '30s and '40s and a sense of civic community from that time that's now gone. I can imagine neighbors coming together and sitting together on a balmy night in 1949 and feeling like they were part of something greater.

As for us, we had seagulls that I encouraged K. to feed with the other half of a fancy-dancy sandwich that otherwise would have gone to waste (Spoiler: They loved it!) and some rotten kids smoking pot and blowing it up toward us. (Smoke your pot? Cool. Give me a headache with your smoke? Not cool.) They were other folks too, but each group an island unto themselves.

A clear spring day / In a bright and balmy March-time; / We are alone, / Gazing from our stone bench to the cove below / On a salty silent shroud of calm blue water. / I am a rock, / You are an island. [With apologies to Simon & Garfunkel]

Fun Flash Fact: It looks like Aquatic Park was indeed a WPA project in 1936-1939. Thanks, Mr. Roosevelt!

Our Saturday in SF ended with a dinner at a hole-in-the-wall fish and chips place called The Codmother. Very good. Too much food. We gave those leftovers to homeless folks at the end of Market, rather than to seagulls.

Of course our birthday week also included one-quarter of a crappy play on Wednesday, and then a visit with the Wiedlins today which was somewhat more extensive than just eating. There was also talking and presents and cards.

I actually have multiple gift monies that I need to spend. I'd already decided to order some nice collections of comics with money from my dad and Mary (some "Morning Glories" deluxe hardcovers, and something else), so perhaps I'll look at books with money from my mom and Bob.
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I rather spontaneously took my bike out to San Francisco yesterday and had a beautiful day out there and in Marin. It's really a gorgeous city and it was a bright and beautiful day.

The Green Paths. I started out at Embarcadero and biked around from there to Crissy Field. I was quite struck by how much effort SF has put into its bike paths since last time I biked through North Beach. There are now consistent bike lanes from the Ferry Building to somewhere around Pier 39, all painted bright green. It gets dicier from there, as you can ride up on the Bayside paths if you want, but those are clogged with tourists, or else you can ride the angry streets. (I did the latter.) Still, the trip out there was very nice, with my only problem being get stuck behind slow moving tourist bikes or bike rickshaws when the adjacent street was so bumper-to-bumper that there was no way to get around. I actually hopped off my bike at one light and walked my bike along the Bayside path to get ahead of slow bikers.

The Presidio. After most of Crissy Fields I turned my bike up into the rest of the Presidio. My goal was the Presidio Officers Club which has recently been reopened with a museum and an archaeological lab there. It was actually somewhat disappointing. There was a nice timeline of the Presidio with some artifacts and beyond that it was fun wandering around the building, which is almost all open to the public. But a lot of it is set aside as an event venue now, with ballrooms and such, and those were just big open spaces in the middle of the day on a Saturday.

The rest of the Presidio was very nice though. I have barely been there since it was turned over to the National Park System in 1994, so it was really nice to see what a great urban park it's becoming. I rode the Presidio Promenade back and forth and would love to explore some of the other trails, particularly the ones going through the "historic woods".

Golden Gate. One of my goals was to ride out to the Golden Gate Bridge, and I did! I'd actually tried to make the ascent to the bridge several years ago, on the day of Jason's bachelor party, and totally failed. Today it was no problem: I just rode the Presidio Promenade the opposite direction of the Officers Club, and I was there. Granted, it was an easier ascent than the one I tried a few years ago (straight up from Fort Point), but it was also zero problem.

The ride across the Bridge was totally beautiful. I think I walked the Bridge many years ago, but I've definitely never ridden it. The northern path is solely designated for bicyclists so you get to bike out with open ocean and the actual Golden Gate to your left. Very nice. I was a bit amused how the trail got all clogged and chaotic at each of the towers — not just because you have to make sharp turns to go around them, but also because all of the tourists stop their bikes there to take pictures.

Marin. In Marin I went down a steep path which takes you to Fort Baker, below the Golden Gate. It's a former army base right on the Bay that's been nicely refurbished. Much of it is now a "luxury resort", with the old army buildings turned into luxurious places to rent. I'm of mixed emotions over that — now just the commercialization, but the upper-class commercialization. It somehow seem wrong to turn a working man's, blue collar army base into a resort for the one percent. On the other hand, it's probably better than them being totally abandoned like the eerie, empty barracks on Alameda or just south of Golden Gate Fields. There's also a kid's discovery museum back there and a teeny little beach. I sat at the beach for about an hour, doing some writing and watching dogs chase toys into the Bay.

I would have loved to travel on to Sausalito from Fort Baker, as it was just two miles on, but I'd had a late start to the day, and decided I didn't want too much of a good thing.

The Journey Home. I was a bit worried about getting back up to the Bridge from Fort Baker, as the road was pretty much straight up — something like 200 feet of ascent in a pretty short distance. However I managed it riding, then it was back across the Bridge. I was amused as I dropped down into the Presidio, seeing all the tourists who looked like they were dying, trying to get their bikes up to the Bridge. (I'd passed many of them on the way up originally, but now I could see their contorted faces.) Then it was along the Bay. I eventually turned south at Polk Street, riding back to BART through Russian Hill, Nob Hill, and (unfortunately) the Tenderloin. I was happy to see more bright green bike lanes around the Civic Center and also on Market.

Surprisingly when I got off BART in Berkeley, I found K. and her friend L., who'd had lunch in the City, wandered it widely, and had come back on the same train as me. So K. and I ended up walking home together.

Sore. Today I've discovered that my legs are shockingly sore. That used to happen sometimes when I rode, but it's been a while. I guess all the climbing did it — up to the Presidio, up to the Bridge twice, then through Russian Hill and Nob Hill. Apparently if I lived in the City, I'd get much better as hill biking!
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Kimberly's mom and brother have been in town since Thursday. I didn't see them on Thursday because they were headed to bed before I was off work, and on Friday I just saw them for dinner, but today we headed out to San Francisco.

We took BART and hopped on to the F once we got into The City. It runs along the Embarcadero and would have been a nice ride other than the fact that it was entirely, totally, grossly jammed. With tourists, one guesses. On the bright side, I did get to admire the shiny new(ish) green-painted bike lanes on parts of Embarcadero. It's been a long time since I've biked out there and today's trip made me want to do so again!

We hopped off at Pier 39, which I haven't been to in huge spans of time. No great loss. But we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, then Kimberly and I lazed around while the in-laws played some zombie-killing "7-D" game, then toured shops on the Pier. I took in the views of the Bay for a while, which are beautiful (except the sea lions have been missing for a week again; there were many tourists looking at the entirely empty sea lion area, with a lot of confusion on their faces!), then K. and I laid out in one of the main plazas for a while. Surprisingly pleasant.

After a brief stop in the Museum Mécanique over at Pier 45 (which sucked much less than when I went there years ago, in part because it's now actually filled with machines and people) we then went to Johnny Rocket's. This was part of food craziness: apparently the in-laws don't really eat lunch, and no one told K. and me this, so we got hungry and had to eat around noon, then hours later they had to have a little something -- which was really a full meal, but at 3pm or something. Anywho, K. and I had ice cream and stole fries at this second lunch (and ended up not eating dinner).

The trip had been slightly stressful for various reasons, so K. and I were happy to end it with a trip to Ghiradelli. She got her favorite (malted milk balls) and I got my favorite (non pareils) and we each picked up a fancy Ghiradelli chocolate bar that we hadn't seen elsewhere (mine was dark chocolate with cherries and almonds and was quite good).

Our plan was then to bus back to the Civic Center, with the hope that this would allow us to actually get seats on BART heading back to the East Bay, despite Pride events in the City this weekend. Good plan, with one problem: the bus didn't actually go to BART today due to Pride events, and so we had to hop off a few blocks early, walk through the Tenderloin and then fight with crowds of Priders. Fortunately, Pride seemed to have mainly cleaned out the scumminess of the Tenderloin, and the Pride crowds were big but not we-can't-get-through-big. And there were lots of women in bikinis, presumably because today was the dyke march. Yay, Pride.

(Generally, it was nice to see a bit of Pride, and K. and I even showed off our Straight Ally-hood with some nice rainbow shoelaces that she had. As I told her, I really need to get at least one piece of rainbow clothing of my own!)

And the BART plan paid out because we were able to sit at Civic Center and by the time we got to Embarcadero, we would not have been able to.

We've now dropped the in-laws off, and our part of the visit is over as they're leaving early in the morning. As I said, there were some stressors, but I was able to keep my Zen and not spoil the hard-won calm from my recent vacation. The only downside is that I didn't get a nice bike ride this weekend, as Friday night and today were busy and tomorrow I'll have groceries, writing, and other catch-up.

Ah well, the fourth is coming up!
shannon_a: (Default)
Kimberly & I went to the De Young museum on Saturday. It was to see an "Art Slam", which was a slideshow of various art works -- including one great piece that she'd done.

Unfortunately, the experience was somewhat subpar. Her slide was literally first, showing before they had the window screen all the way down and before most of the audience even realized that the presentation was starting. They showed it for all of 5-10 seconds. Worse, three of her friends who'd come to see it all missed it because they were running later.

Worser, there were some people right behind us in the auditorium who constantly cheered and gushed and talked about every slide in a way that made K. (and, really, everyone else) anxious. (They were De Restless.) We had to move and then we had to leave. Kimberly's friend Jay gave us a ride home.

On the bright side, we had a nice trip out to the De Young and we had an enjoyable and decadent lunch of Andronico's sandwiches and deserts in the De Young garden before the show. And Kimberly did have a piece of art ever-so-briefly showing at De Young! It was fun to see!

Got home a lot earlier than expected, so I spent the afternoon and evening writing and editing.

Then today I biked up to Temescal and wrote and edited more. By the by, that turned out to be at the limit of my endurance as I'm still sniffling a bit from my recent (light) cold. And speaking of cold, the park was. After two hours, I headed home. It was 2.30, and I was chilled, and I decided the park was only getting colder from there. Sadly, Winter has come.

And tonight I wrote and edited more.

Total damage was about 8,000 words over Saturday and Sunday: three more D&D Classics articles (2,500 words total) and my eighth new history for Designers & Dragons: The '00s (5,500 words).

shannon_a: (Default)
With fatigue and sickness inundating the house, Kimberly and I haven't had that much of a chance to do fun stuff together lately, so I'd hoped we could this Labor Day weekend ... and we did!

My plan was a picnic lunch in Glen Canyon Park, which is toward the middle-to-south side of San Francisco. It looked great because it sounded pretty, we'd never been there, and it was really close to BART. We headed out there on BART a bit before noon. BART, I should note, sucked, but no surprise. It was super crowded because the idiots that run BART were still running a Sunday schedule, despite the closure of the Bay Bridge. So, it was standing room only until we were into the City. As I said, not a surprise, and the only real downside of the trip (But you just have to shake your head at BART's inability to more reasonably deal with the Bay Bridge being closed).

We got off at Glen Park Station and went to a small grocer I'd found called Canyon Market. I picked them because it looked like they had excellent sandwiches, and they did! So we picked up sandwiches (Kimberly got "House roast turkey with provolone cheese, mixed greens, tomatoes and pesto mayonnaise on house baked focaccia." and I got "Smoked Turkey served hot with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and sun dried tomato spread on housemade sliced sourdough.") and macaroni chicken salad and some terrific desert, and them took them up to the Park, which was only a short distance beyond.

We did have one nasty surprise in the park, which was that all of the buildings and facilities were fenced off (and in some cases bulldozed) due to renovation that's going on through November. Fortunately, that didn't affect the rest of the Park. We ate lunch not far from those facilities at some tables that remained unfenced and found it good.

I didn't really expect to do much hiking because Kimberly has had so much trouble with fatigue, so I was quite surprised. We hiked through the whole park! And, it was a very beautiful park. Some of the lowland park was just trees with the canyon rising ever higher around us. However, as we got further in, the trees and shrubberies started to form tunnels, where foliage surrounded us on all sides. It was like secret nature paths. I loved it. It reminded me in sights and smells alike of the Ed Levine Park that I used to spend summer days at when I was young.

We climbed out of the canyon on the far side of the Park (and saw some great views from there, including clouds rushing over the far side of the Park). From there we decided to head out to the 24th & Mission BART Station, rather than just back to Glen Park. This turned out to be a longer walk that we realized, but we both enjoyed it and since we walked through the Diamond Heights, then down into Noe Valley, we got some magnificent views of The City. I'll have to go through my camera tomorrow and see if I have any good pictures. Google says we walked about 3.2 miles, a bit less than half of that from Glen Park BART to the edge of Glen Park Canyon; and a bit more than half of that from the edge of the Park down to 24th Street BART (24th Street Bart *seemed* a lot further than the walk up from Glen Park had been ... but we were more tired by then, and didn't take a lunch break in the middle).

Overall, a terrific day. We were out and about for about five hours, and it was so nice that Kimberly was able to actually do all that hiking and walking. She didn't even seem too wiped out tonight.

Tonight I finally broke down and did some writing: a first draft of the AP for my Saturday game. I wrote that at about 10, so I managed to have pure R&R over this holiday weekend for about 50 hours. Yay me! (And I wrote that first draft in about 45 minutes, and that's all I'm doing tonight.)

Tomorrow: a first draft of a review I have pending, and second drafts of both the review and the AP. I may also think about my next Mechanics & Meeples article. And reading! And ice cream! Then on Tuesday night I'll get started on the research for new company history #5 in Designers & Dragons: The '00s.

And with 25 miles of biking yesterday and 3 miles of hiking today (+1 mile or more here in Berkeley), I don't feel any need to head out Monday or Tuesday to get more exercise! (And come Wednesday I'll of course bike down to Endgame.)
shannon_a: (Default)

Today was the actual day of our anniversary, and thus we had bigger plans for the day. Glad we didn't do big things two days in a row, as I'm now pretty exhausted.

We had an early lunch of (tasty & healthy) Subway sandwiches this morning, then headed out a bit before noon. Our first destination was BART, which we took out to Embarcadero. From there we wandered through the outdoor craft sellers (where Kimberly got an expensive but attractive & unique necklace) and then through the Ferry Building a bit. My biggest memory of the Ferry Building is it sitting derelict for many years, and I hadn't seen it since it'd been renovated. VERY NICE. I'm not even a foodie, but found the foods offered inside very attractive.

However our actual goal was the 1:25 Golden Gate Ferry to Sausalito. Soon we were boarding that, after paying with our oh-so-cool Clipper cards. We sat up on the top and thus got beautiful views of the Bay all the way over. Lots of Bay Bridge and Treasure Island, then some Alcatraz and some Golden Gate off to the other side. I love water & thus I love the Bay, and it was all quite nice.

Arriving in Sausalito, we walked around the area near the ferries for a while, which is where most of the galleries are and some of the kitschy touristy places are. We went in the first gallery we saw, which had a lot of prints of work by Dr. Seuss -- a lot of it original work that doesn't show up in his books. It was very cool. There were also neat animals arranged in groups and herds and neat clockwork animals. All very pleasant (and way more than we'd pay for anything, but as I told Kimberly, we should visit galleries more, as they're like free museums).

After a bit more time in the really central downtown area, I was getting pretty sick of crowds & tourists. I hadn't remembered Sausalito being so totally and grossly overrun, but it's been a long time since I've been there. In any case, we started heading up Bridgeway away from the ferry area and I was pretty pleased to see that within a couple of blocks, all the tourists disappeared. They must rush out there, congregate in that couple of blocks and then rush back to SF for the next step in their site seeing.

Kimberly wanted to stop by the restaurant we'd chosen for dinner (and had 5 o'clock reservations at). I thought it a bit silly, since we had reservations and all, but agreed. So we looked around and we found a totally different restaurant at the address ours was supposed to be at. It turned out that the Harbor View (which we had reservations at, we thought) had gone out of business a couple of months ago and been replaced by some place called The Fisherman's Cobbler or something like that, and they'd kept the same phone number. The new restaurant had a different, more boring menu and everything was about 50% more costly. Ironically — given that it was a seafood restaurant — we felt bait-and-switched. We ended up canceling our reservations.

Fortunately, Kimberly had selected one other restaurant that she thought was a good match for our food tastes and our budget, so we headed up there, leaving downtown further and further behind — and discovered that restaurant #2 (Saylors) was closed on Sundays. Sigh.

I suggested at that point that we just play it by ear, that we could chance upon somewhere to eat in Sausalito or back in San Francisco and it'd all be good. So we opted to just enjoy our other main destination for the day: The Bay Model.

This is a water-filled working model of the whole Bay built by the Army Corps of Engineers back in the '50s. It was originally used to look at a crazy idea about damming up the north and south ends of the Bay but has since been used to figure out the results of various construction products. It was apparently in active use through 2000. I'd guess they now use computers for the same purpose.

In any case, it's still there and it's still working and it's TOTALLY COOL. You can see all the features of the Bay in shrunk down size right in front of you and how it all interrelates with each other. It gives a much more visceral overview than a map or something because it's right there, in front of you, larger (actually smaller) than life. We wandered around that for a while. I had great fun identifying the landscapes I know best from biking, from Point Pinole to the Bay Bridge or so. I also really goggled over the amazing work sketching out ALL (MANY) of the rivers and riverlets leading into the delta. A totally amazing bit of representative work.

The ranger acting as a greeter for the Bay Model had been kind enough to give us a Sausalito Visitor Map and I used that to ID what turned out to be the civic center area of Sausalito (and what was clearly the natives' downtown, as opposed to the tourist downtown a few blocks down). There were a cluster of restaurants, and though some were closed or closing we IDed a fancy Italian restaurant that we liked and ate there.

It was the Osteria Divino, which serves "Rustic Florentine cuisine". My favorite for the night was a really excellent Bruschetta, but I also had a great seafood over risotta plate and a really excellent molten chocolate cake. All terrific food, and quite worthy of an anniversary night. It was also a very pleasant restaurant. Fairly quiet, run by authentic Italians who knew a lot of their customers. Like Cheers but with pricey and superb Italian food.

We ended up eating a little earlier than planned (4:45 rather than 5:00), and by good luck that put us right on schedule to take the 6:20 Blue & Gold Ferry out of Sausalito, over to the Fisherman's Wharf area of SF. As planned we walked over to Ghiradelli square, bought some special chocolates (that'd be semi-sweet non-pareils for me) and then took a bus to BART and BART back home. (We considered the cable car, but the line seemed as outrageous as it tends to be during tourist season, so we instead ended up waiting about 20 minutes for a bus with a crazy, swearing man on it. So it goes in San Francisco.) By the time we got back home we'd walked 7 miles and been out and about for a bit more than 9 hours. I'm pretty worn out.

Overall, an excellent 12th Anniversary for us. Apparently that's silk, but it was more a public-transit anniversary for us.

PS: Tons and tons and tons of bicyclists in Sausalito, thanks mainly to the tourist-bike renters. I was very jealous. Though I also looked down on the idjuts riding down the street with their helmets hanging from their handlebars.

shannon_a: (Default)
Kimberly & I spent the afternoon in Golden Gate Park. It was a bit of a trial getting out there as the N-Judah wasn't running (some brain surgeon though weekends in the summer would be a great time to close down the light rail out to Golden Gate Park; and the same brain surgeon didn't do *nearly* enough to get the word out, like, you know, post about it OUTSIDE the Muni area), but we managed with a different bus, and some inefficient walking back and forth and back across the park.

We picked up lunch from Andronico's. We've missed our local store as a source of occasional luxuries, but today we got to pick up excellent sandwiches, sodas, and snacks from one of their SF stores. I had a delicious turkey & avocado sandwich on Dutch Crunch, with an Adult Brownie for desert. We actually ate our lunch in the Fern Grotto, a beautiful, secluded area smack-dab in the middle of the Park, running along a little creek, deeply shadowed by ferns.

It was apparently built as part of the Aids Memorial Grove which we later visited. We were both deeply moved by the quiet, dark area, full of stones piled atop stones. As I told Kimberly, I consider the AIDs epidemic of the '80s one of the tragedies of our time. I get choked up when I hear gay men from the time talk about how almost everyone they knew died, especially when I think about the ignorant and spiteful president that we had, who tried to pretend the problem didn't exist, and thus doomed many to death through the lack of federal aid.

Our main destination for the day was the Conservatory of Flowers, which Kimberly & I had not previously visited. It's a hot house, mostly full of green plants from the tropics. Lots of orchids too, and some other flowering things, but lots of ferns and such too. I thought the main room was the neatest. It had the highest ceilings and there was a lot of stuff really towering up toward it. One of the plants there was apparently over 100 years old. There was alsoa  room of aquatic plants, which sounded cooler than it was (and was quite hot & humid in actuality) and a room of "dinosaur" plants which had some bizarre plants and some silly roars and floor shaking. The building itself is an attractive Victorian, which I could see in the floor ornamentations and the colored glass. Overall, a fun hour or so. It made me think of my (deceased) Grandma Appel, who often would take me to the (extensive) botanical gardens in St. Louis when I visited.

We have memberships to the De Young, so we were able to stop in there just to see one exhibit, "The Fashion World of Jean Paul Galtier". It was extremely cool in a yes-I-watch-Project-Runway sort of way. Tons of outfits that he's designed over the last 35 years. All strange and weird in various high-fashion ways. I particularly enjoyed seeing which outfits fit in collections with which other outfits. At the same time, you could really see his overall design aesthetic — as sometimes outfits that looked like they were from the same collection were actually from totally different parts of his career. (In one area, highlighting some of his "punk" work, most of the outfits were actually mixtures of different individual pieces from different collections, which really highlighting how his aesthetic remained amidst lots of different works.) Oh, and we learned that Galtier was apparently the one to give Madonna dangerously pointed boobs.

Overall, a fun day at the Park. Discovering those sort of hidden places around the Aids Memorial Grove really made me want to learn more about the Park, so I'm going to take a look at some books when I stop by the library tomorrow.
shannon_a: (Default)

Went to the Pride Parade today in San Francisco. Kimberly used to go quite often but hasn't been up to it for as long as we've been together, so when she felt up to going today, I told her I'd be happy to go with her.

It was the first parade of any note that I'd been to. No, not the first Pride Parade, but the first parade, period (well, if you exclude the nightly "parade" at Disneyland and doubtless something I did while in the second grade). Kimberly asked me what I thought of it later, and I told her there was less spectacle but more happy people than I'd seen in parades on TV.

One of the reasons I was happy to go was because I know that the GBLT community has traditionally been oppressed within our lifetimes, and I'm happy to show some support for it as a result. I want to show my support for equal rights, even if it's something that doesn't directly impact my life. I was also brought to tears a couple of times during the parade — such as when I saw police officers walking down the street in uniform with their (same-sex) partners and when I saw a group of people wearing Harvey Milk t-shirts. They made me reflect how far we've come.

Beyond the emotional content, the Parade was fun to watch as there was lots of exciting stuff in it, such as: a "Cheer" squad that did human pyramids and threw folks up in the air; bunches of people with huge plumages of orange, red, yellow, green, blue, and purple balloons; and dancers of all sort.  It felt good to see so many politicians in the parade. There were also a couple of celebrities such as the woman who plays "Beast" in Glee and Sarah Silverman. There was a woman in the crowd very near us who was totally overcome by Silverman being in attendance. She kept screaming, "Oh My God! IT'S SARAH SILVERMAN!!!!" and other such. Amusingly, Silverman never even turned to look at our side of the street, so it could have been anyone wearing a black wig for all excited-lady and I knew.

(By the by: I totally thumbs-up the south side of street for the Parade. I was expecting to get roasted by the sun, and had sunscreen on and a hat to be ready, but instead we stayed in shade the whole time.)

I was also amused by the crowd. For one thing, no one told me that there'd be lots of attractive & scantily clad women. But it was also amusing to see people crouching atop traffic signals and on lamp posts and everywhere to get a better view of the parade. Market Street was totally transformed. 

About an hour and a half after the parade started, marchers started getting erratic. Amusingly, the first time there was a really big gap, it was the police who showed up next and Kimberly suggested that it was their way of saying they always showed up late. At the next big gap, we decided we were tired of standing and so left the parade behind to eat.

This turned out to be a bit of a trick. I'd planned to use my iPhone to look up somewhere nearby, but off the parade route. I had great reception ... but I was getting almost no throughput. I had to assume that the jammed throngs were beating the hell out of the local 3G network. Fortunately, as we wandered down Market, against the rush of people, I did finally find a nearby Jack in the Box. It was about 3 blocks off of Market, and not crazy at all.

After that, we were ready to go home (though the Parade still continued with its 200 floats, cars, and marching bands). As any knowledgeable Bay Area person would, we headed up to Civic Center to get better seats on BART (rather than trying to board at the other 3 stations closer to the Bay). What we neglected was the fact that there are festivities at the Civic Center following the Parade. We got down to Market and pushed up it, and kept going slower and slower. Meanwhile, as we hit the poorer areas of Market, an increasing number of "street vendors" were trying to sell us "edibles". Based upon the wares displayed, this was code for pot brownies and doobies.

We eventually cut off Market for the last few blocks, but then we had to make a final push for the BART station it was hellaciously difficult. Even when we got to the stairs I wasn't sure we were going to make it down because the GENIUSES (TM) at BART had decided to close one of the escalators at Civic Center right in the middle of Pride. So we fought people coming up out of BART for the narrow stairs and advanced one hard-fought step at a time.

It was exhausting.

When we finally got down to the platform, we found that BART was running a train to the northern East Bay ever 10 minutes, as they had yesterday. (I hadn't even realized that I had Pride to thank for a quick train when I got stuck in Downtown Oakland yesterday afternoon.) A train arrived just two minutes later, and we collapsed into seats and had a nice ride back.

Fun event, but tiring. Both Kimberly and I ended up napping upon our return home.

Etsy, Etc.

May. 11th, 2012 11:17 pm
shannon_a: (Default)

On Wednesday at Endgame, Amy C. was handing about postcards about a showing of local Etsy artists at the STUDIO gallery. I knew Kimberly would like it, so I passed on the postcard to her, and we ended up going out there tonight.

The gallery was small, but very pleasant, and they had a huge amount of material from Etsy artists. There was quite a bit that we both found attractive.

Many, perhaps a majority, of the showcased items were "things you hang on walls". Amy had a few paintings variously of squids, tentacles, and cancerous growths. It was cool to see them in a gallery setting. I also quite liked some paintings done of bus routes and local streets, of all things. They were really tight shots, just showing a couple of blocks, and I thought they were pretty cool  (not part of the Etsy show, apparently). The thing that Kimberly and I both liked best though were some weird mixed media pieces that were broken glass on some type of colorful background, with words forming a shape in the middle (not Etsy, and I can't find samples of them on the site, which is a pity, as it's hard to describe their attractiveness). We considered buying one, but couldn't find any whose shape and form we found universally attractive (Kimberly later said she thought they were intended as gifts, so the words were supposed to describe the giftee rather than the shape, which might have been our problem). Still, I found some dragonflies and a yellow bird pretty cool.

There was also lots of cool jewelry, which is what Kimberly was looking for the most as she's gotten several necklaces from Etsy. I found many of them quite beautiful, though I'm not much of a jewelry wearer. Still, it was nice to look at them and see the various craft. It was like an episode of Project Accessory right in front of us.

Overall, quite a nice gallery and a fun show to spend 30 or 45 minutes wandering through.

The wander to the Gallery was a bit less nice. We got off at Powell BART and walked about 1.5 miles to the west side of Nob Hill, where the gallery is located (and thankfully not really on the hill, though it was slightly uphill there). On the way there were two or three blocks were suddenly half the businesses were closed and every three feet there was a homeless person slumped against a wall.

So we decided to avoid that bad area by instead returning to Civic Center BART. The 1-4 blocks north of the Civic Center turned out to be even worse, full of drunkies and druggies lurching about. Ugh.

Anyway, we made it there and back safely, but I'm often amazed how the entire tenor of San Francisco can change in a block.

Afterward, back in Berkeley, there was eating out (Chaat Cafe) and grocery shopping (Trader Joe's), but we're now nearly passed out back at home. Turns out 3+ miles of walking (+ biking before & after), half of it slightly uphill, plus a long, slow passage through a gallery in the middle, is more than either of us are used to. So, tired.

No gaming tomorrow. So, relaxation.

Birth Day

Mar. 24th, 2012 11:15 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
I am old.

I shall give up comics and biking and gaming and learn to like beer, champagne, and football. And Masterpiece Theatre.

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

So today was the big four-oh. I don't usually do much for my birthday, but with today being such a notable event and it happening to fall on a Saturday, I decided to go out of my way to do something fun.

So Kimberly & I braved the rain and public transit to head out to the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

There actually wasn't a lot to be braved, as the rain was pretty light all day. The public transit did take some courage though, as hopping onto the 30 near Montgomery we found the most jammed bus I've ever been on. Wall to wall people and it just kept getting more and more crowded ... until we thankfully came to Chinatown a few blocks over and things cleared out. Whew.

I hadn't been to the Palace of Fine Arts or the Exploratium in a long, long time. I'm guessing 20+ years. I'd forgotten how absolutely gorgeous the Palace is. Beautiful architecture and beautiful landscaping alike. If it weren't raining throughout the day, I would definitely have liked to lounge around the park and read and just enjoy the world.

Anyway, into the Exploratorium it was, to get out of the rain. I put on new (dry) socks for the first time in the day.

We kind of wandered, looking at most exhibits, but not necessarily every one. We started out working through electricity and magnets, which was fun. There are a surprising number of exhibits that tell you to shock yourself with light charges. One of them was based entirely on static electricity and I as read how you should shock yourself for the third or so time, Kimberly said, "... if you're a masochist!"

Beyond that was a  giant moving pendulum like table [picture I took] which people use to make spiroograph-like drawings. We watched that for several  minutes as a dad made drawings with his kids. It was very cool to see them slowly develop.

(Lots of kids at the Exploratorium, of course, but almost all were really well behaved, and there were so many good parents there, really connecting and communicating with their kids.)

Biology was next, and we skimmed that because it wasn't interesting, then sound, which we skimmed because it's all booth based and people tend to sit around the booths and you can't look over their shoulders.

Downstairs, Kimberly left me as she was scienced out. (We were at least an hour into the trip by then.) So I went through optical illusions and vision and social stuff on my own. My other coolest exhibit (the first being that spiro-table) was back here.

It was really simple: two different people sat opposite each other, each with a tray of the same six simple colored geometric shapes. A screen blocked view between the two. One of the people laid out the shapes on his tray, then tried to describe to the other person what he'd done. At the end they compared. It was fascinating being able to watch omnisciently from the side to see exactly where communication went wrong. I think there's a game in there somewhere (though Space Alert already exists as a game that's almost entirely based around miscommunication).

From there I moved through lots more things involving shapes and I'm not quite sure what else. Clearly I was fading by this point. I eventually returned to Kimberly and we headed out, with a visit by the store on the way out. (Not to buy anything, but because many of the toys and stuff they sell there are as fascinating as exhibits. And I was shocked to see Forbidden Island there; good going to that publisher, getting their game into science museums.)

Before I leave behind the Exploratorium, I should note that I really appreciate the occasional touches of classic stuff in there like scary angels [picture I took], thanks I presume to the location at the Palace of Fine Arts. I think that'll be missed when they move to a new location.

Lots more of the course of the day, but nothing else as "big".

We walked about two miles east along the coast (nice despite the continuing rain), enjoying views of Alcatraz and Fort Mason along the way before coming to Ghiradelli Square. Here, Kimberly & I treated ourselves to some birthday chocolate. I got semi-sweet non-pareils, a Ghiradelli treat that I've never seen except in Ghiradelli stores (from them; I can also remember non-pareils at K-Mart or something). I probably hadn't had any in a couple of decades, but they were still great.

We bussed back to BART, then BARTed back to Ashby. On the way home from Ashby BART we stopped by Berkeley Bowl to pick up birthday cakes (because we needed more sweets, clearly) and something tasty for dinner.

I got a very tasty sandwich, which I ate while we watched The Dark Knight tonight.

And that was the birthday day.

Tired now, but looking forward to some reading.

shannon_a: (Default)
Kimberly and I went into The City today to see the Masters of Venice exhibit of art at the de Young Museum.

Sadly, it was a disappointment. I knew from the start that the Renaissance art style wasn't one that particularly interested me. What I didn't know was that the exhibit was going to be almost entirely dull portraits. There was painting after painting of men sitting there, looking bored. Some of them had black beards, some had white beards, some had dark brown beards, and some had gray beards. From what we could see, there were no red beards nor blue beards. One man had a tiny head, atop a corpulent body. There were some women, though in lesser numbers. They mostly looked angry. A couple looked stoned.

I didn't feel like the exhibit was particularly well put together either. There were numerous large prints pasted up on the walls, taking up space where you'd have expected to see art. Kimberly though there was more text than usual, which I'm not convinced of; what I did find that there was considerably more boring text which did nothing to illuminate the artwork and little to illuminate the society. 

I'm not sad I saw the exhibit, because that sort of thing is always somewhat enlightening. I just wish it'd been any good.

(Part of the problem, I see now, is how badly the de Young Museum misrepresents the exhibit on their page. Out of 12 pieces of art they preview there, 5 of them are non-portraits, 2 of the portraits were the rare more active ones, and the other 5 are all so cropped that you don't see the monotony of black backgrounds behind stiffly posed portraits that we saw in the first couple of halls of the exhibit, and scattered around afterward.)

We did see two other smaller exhibits while we were there.

One was one that Kimberly had wanted to see, which was photographs of creepy dolls and masks. I was pretty meh about it. Many of the photographs were indeed creepy (though artist Ralph Meatyard swore they weren't intended to be macabre), but I didn't find that they were that creative. It was more like, "Stand in front of a fence with this creepy mask on." (Unless he manufactured the masks himself; then there was indeed creativity in the process. I'm not convinced he did, however.) Kimberly and I did enjoy ourselves mocking the artwork, and I think she found it more interesting than I.

The other was one I wanted to see about mixed-medium small-edition sculptures put out by a workshop called Gemini G.E.L. starting in '69. Their first piece, a lithograph in molded plastic of a car was, I thought, breath-taking. Exactly the sort of pop art I was hoping to see. There were also a number of mixed medium faces by Roy Lichenstein, which were somewhat abstract and made of neat die cutting with various materials, that I though were very cool. And then there were some lead bas reliefs which I found less exciting because there was almost no contrast. But this exhibit was the highlight of the day for me (and fortunately the last thing we saw, after the disappointing "Masters of Venice").
The other highlight of the day was doubtless lunch in the Music Concourse between de Young and the Academy of Sciences, eating tasty Andronico's sandwiches (as there's an Andronico's still in business a few blocks from GG Park) and watching children constantly almost climb into a dry fountain that has, according to various sources, somewhere between 75 cents and five dollars in change within. Meanwhile, flocks of sea gulls watched us. Signs said not to feed the pigeons, but didn't mention the gulls at all. We opted not to feed them anyway.

And that was a day in San Francisco. Upon arriving home, we ate dinner and then were each so tired that we collapsed asleep for a few hours ...
shannon_a: (Default)

Went into San Francisco today to go to the Castro Theatre to see the Sing-A-Long Sound of Music. I've seen the movie before, but I was surprised by how good it actually is. Beautiful landscapes, great directing, moving story lines. And Julie Andrews is amazingly beautiful in the movie.

The Sing-a-Long portion was also fun. I always find music very cathartic and singing together in a large group even more so. I joined in for most of the songs, and thankfully had a big bottle of water with me, to keep my voice fresh. There were some silly props handed out at the door, which were mostly cards to hold up at various times. I didn't have any interest in trying to sort through the bag of props during the movie, and so planned to ignore them, and then lost track of the bag to no great lost. There was also a little popper, which would have been fun. They were meant for The Kiss, but some were fired off at various times. They added nice dramatic underlines to various events. Then The Kiss finally came, the air filled with pops, and you could see little electric sparks all around the hall, which was pretty cool. 

So, all around, a good experience, but ... oh, so tiring.

We left the house at 10.40, got home around 6.30. We were actually at the Castro for a bit more than 4 hours and it was just jammed with people, which increased the tired-ness quotient even more.

We also had pretty rotten transit both ways. We had to carefully plan, because BART is so inadequate on Sundays, running trains to SF only every 20 minutes. Then we found the train just jammed. This was the case on all the BARTs we took. Heading toward Market Street, it was clearly brainwashed consumers heading off to do their mandatory Christmas shopping, and heading down the peninsula from there, it was tourists going to SFO. 

(I'm now going to be a lot more reluctant to go into the City on a weekend in December.)

Things were made worse at our "timed" transit at MacArthur because we ended up waiting on the platform for 15 minutes, because BART wasn't even keeping to their ridiculously pitiful Sunday schedule. And then on MUNI ... our train kept getting stuck just before it got into stations, waiting long minutes and then pulling up the last 5 feet.

As I said, rotten transit, even for the Bay Area.

Also, we had a so-so lunch experience. We went to the Carl's Jr at Civic Center, which we've gone to a few times this year because Kimberly got some coupons from her mom, and we found bad customer service, too many homeless people being allowed to run rampant in the restaurant, and real confusion at how to apply a coupon. All things we'd seen when we went there for dinner the two other times, but not to the same extent. I think that'll be our last visit to that Carl's Jr, since it seems more inclined to cater to the bums of Market than to us.

The bad transit and so-so lunch added some stress to the day, and have left me more tired than I otherwise would have been, but it fortunately didn't spoil the movie-going-and-singing experience. I'm pretty much ready to collapse now, though. (And so that history article I was supposed to edit tonight will just have to wait until tomorrow night.)

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