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Showing posts from September, 2007

Wandering the Berkeley Hills

It's been a busy week at home and at work (which is also technically at home). Yesterday, though, I managed to get outside for some fresh air.

A friend told me about a walk through Berkeley and we decided to check it out. It was a 7 mile walk through the Berkeley hills and the guide told us about the geology of the various rocky out-croppings and pointed out flora and fauna. He also talked about the architecture and some of the history of the city. Did you know that in 1908 or thereabouts, there was a campaign to move the state capital to Berkeley? (It didn't pass.) There also used to be a streetcar that ran through Berkeley. We learned how land developers would sponsor outings for people to get out of the city for the day and picnic in Berkeley parks, and oh, wouldn't this be a lovely place to live? If you're a well-to-do white person?

We climbed up some steep hills. Carved into the rocky hillsides are steps and paths that run perpendicular to the roads. They encourage…

"It's just his stubbornity."

"It's just his stubbornity."

I heard someone say that on the train last night. I didn't hear the rest of the conversation and it took me a few minutes to process, "Wait... did he really say that?" If I had been quicker I could have replied, "No, actually, it's your stupidity."

Some new words should be created. I love truthiness. But what goes through the head of someone who says "stubbornity"? Is it laziness, the brain not coming up with "stubbornness"? I hope it's not ignorance. If you know enough to make the noun form of a word, you should already know what the correct noun form is. (I double-checked Webster's; there's no stubbornity.)

Back in college I took a History of English Language course. It was an elective for me, an English major, but required for all education majors. Everyone else in the class was an education major, so I was the only person who actually wanted to be there. On the first day of class th…

"Oh Sh*t, there's a fair!"

That's a line from one of my favorite Tenacious D songs, which was playing on my ipod during my run this morning just moments before I got to the park and saw... carnival rides! The fair is coming to town! Right now, it's just trailers of Zippers and Tea Cups and popcorn booths yet-to-be-assembled but by this weekend it will be the Walnut Festival.

I have a love-hate relationship with carnivals, or fairs, or festivals, or whatever you want to call them. It always seems like a fun idea, and whenever we see one lit up at night from the road I'm tempted to want to stop in. But then I get there and it's dirty and crowded and the rides give me a headache. I can no longer eat most of the food served, so doughboys (or funnel cakes as they're called out here) are now a cruel joke.

But I've always enjoyed early morning walks and runs through quiet, empty fairgrounds. It's a little creepy, but in a safe-thrilling sort of way, like when you watched "It's the Gr…

I like a bargain but I don't like to work too hard for it

Sometimes the hunt for the good deal takes up so much time and energy that it's not really worth it to me. I like to find a happy medium between a good deal and instant gratification. When I saw a jacket at REI yesterday that I really loved, I wasn't quite ready to buy it. We often go to REI to try on clothes and see the colors in person, then come home and order stuff with all the discounts Mike gets from outdoor-adventure retailers. This jacket is from one of my favorite companies but unfortunately one Mike doesn't get a discount from, Marmot. From all of Mike's outdoor gear purchasing I knew there were zillions of places online I could look. I hate sifting through all those websites though, so if I didn't find exactly what I wanted on the first Google page I was going to give up.

The jacket was $150 at REI. Every price that popped up online was also $150. At the very bottom of the page though I noticed one for $125 at Steep Planet. What was the catch? I think it …

Krakow, Poland

Krakow was the first city of our European adventure, and we only had a few hours there before catching a train to Zakopane.

We left San Francisco on a Monday night and it was late Tuesday night by the time we arrived in Krakow. So I really didn't feel like I was on vacation, or have that magical "I'm in Europe" feeling until Wednesday morning when we woke up early to see the town. To get to the old town from our hotel we walked through part of a university campus that looked like it had been around for over a hundred years. I got the "I'm in Europe!" feeling and it didn't let go. Everything is just so old and so different.

It was so early that the markets and restaurants hadn't opened yet and the old town was a ghost town. It was great to walk around and take some pictures before the area got crowded. We were just in awe of everything. It was the first time in Poland for both of us, and we decided right away that we love it and wish we could spen…

Sweeney Todd

Last night I treated Mike to an early birthday present. I got us tickets to Sweeney Todd at A.C.T. It was awesome. We loved it. (Who knew we were such Sondheim fans? Between this and Assassins we are racking up his plays this year.) This is a revival of the version that has all the actors playing their instruments onstage instead of having a separate orchestra. It was amazing. The cast is so talented, to segue between their lines and their songs and their instruments. It's playing here in San Francisco through mid-October then going on a national tour. If it comes to your neighborhood, check it out.

But before you buy your tickets, maybe you should read a brief synopsis. This isn't one of those family-friendly lovey-dovey musicals. This is a musical about a murderous London barber. Sweeney Todd comes back into town after having been banished for trumped-up charges. He vows revenge upon the judge that sent him away, and the killing spree begins. And what to do with all those dea…


I've been tagged by Vicky.

1) You have to post the rules before you give the facts.
2) Players must list one fact that is relevant to your life for each letter in your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name then use a name that you like.
3) When you are tagged, you must write a post containing your own middle name game facts.
4) At the end of your post, you must tag one person for each letter in your middle name. Don’t forget to comment them telling that they are tagged and to read your post to get the rules.

I recently acquired a middle name. Thankfully it's short. Smith.

S. Sewing. That's an easy one. I like to do it. Although, I haven't done any recently.
M. Moving. We moved from San Diego to D.C. to San Francisco in one year, including two cross-country drives. And we'll most likely be moving again within the next few months. It's exhausting, but I enjoy the change of scenery.
I. Ice cream. It's my favorite food group.
T. Tchotchkies. I bet you thought I w…

Fuessen and Schloss Neuschwanstein

Fuessen is one of the few places where our trip overlapped with Helen's. (See previous posts of Helen's bicycle trip.) We only spent one night there, really just one afternoon when you figure that we spent the whole morning on trains, the night in the hotel room, and left early the next morning. Helen only spent one night there, too. The big difference between our 24 hours in tourist-ville is that Mike and I slogged up to Schloss Neuschwanstein and it appears Helen and crew did not.

We were exhausted by the time we got to Fuessen. But we had specifically requested a night there so we could see the castle and we were going to see the castle, dammit. The bus schedule was confusing and it appeared that busses only leave hourly from town to the castle. (But they leave the castle and go back to town every 15 minutes or so.) So we got a taxi, and the driver's advising us not to eat at any of the sushi restaurants in town made the price worth it. (We were ready for some non-Bavari…


If you've read even just one review of Superbad, then you're probably sick of all the "super" adjectives. So I'm going to stop after just the one, superhilarious.

This move was 10 times funnier than we expected it to be. I love the series Freaks and Geeks, but I haven't been very impressed with the Judd Apatow-Seth Rogan movie-making machine. I find them to be mildly amusing with some funny highlights but some boring low points. Not so with Superbad. My face hurt from smiling and my abs hurt from laughing for two straight hours. And raunch has not been this funny since Animal House.

Want a great way to lose a few pounds?

Visit London!

(Ha ha ha, get it? Pounds?)

London was the last stop on our trip and we knew it would be pricey, but we're used to paying San Francisco area prices so didn't think it would be too bad comparatively. You think at first, "Okay the 3 pound cappuccino, same as the 3 dollar cappuccino at home." Nope. Everything was actually double. The exchange rate was such that 1 pound equaled 2 dollars. So that 3 pound cappuccino was a 6 dollar cappuccino.

What really killed us was going to the movies one night. If the movie had been better, we might not have minded so much that the tickets were 9 pounds, i.e. 18 dollars, each. No popcorn and sodas for us! We were well above our entertainment budget for the day. And the movie was terrible. It was Eagle vs. Shark, a New Zealand film that I don't think has opened in the U.S. yet. It's gotten rave reviews from some pretty credible sources and won awards at festivals and all. And it started out sort of funny and charmin…

A hazy shade of... September

There's a wildfire out near the Nevada state line that's sending smoke into the East Bay, particularly as far east as we live. It finally cooled down enough to have open windows instead of the air conditioner, and now I'm torn between opening the windows for cool air and closing them for smoke. Right now we can't actually smell the smoke, but you can see it's there, and we can feel it in our throats. The cats aren't sneezing yet, so I'm not too concerned.

This is the closest we've been to a wildfire since the 2003 San Diego fire. Adjusting to earthquakes had been bad enough in moving to Southern California from the East Coast. But waking up one morning wondering why it smelled like a campfire and why it looked like it had snowed (inches of ash covered everything) is probably something I'll never forget. We weren't ever in any danger, but what a bizarre few days, as we breathed the smoke and felt the heat of a huge fire burning just 10 miles from …

Lebowski Fest Edinburgh

When planning our trip, we decided on two absolute musts: Zakopane, Poland, and Leboski Fest in Edinburgh.

Lebwoski Fest UK

Lebowski Fest pays tribute to the brilliance that is The Big Lebowski. If you have to ask, you probably won't understand. Several years ago a couple fans decided to honor the film with a bowling party and screening in their home town of Louisville, Kentucky. Eventually these parties hit the road to Los Angeles, New York, Austin, and other U.S. cities. Hundreds of like-minded fans gather for bowling, white russians, costumes, and what have you. This summer, Lebowski Fest crossed the pond for events in Edinburgh and London.

Dudes in costume

When I first heard of the Edinburgh party it crossed my mind, "We've been wanting to visit Edinburgh for awhile now. Wouldn't that be a hoot?" And Mike made it happen. The night before our wedding he was online buying tickets. Then when planning our European trip the only hard date we gave the travel agent …

Back in the land of good showers

I don't know where to begin blogging about the trip. I can't type every word of every adventure we had. Since I'm still relishing our modern American conveniences that are a stark contrast to our final hotel of the trip, maybe a few words about our accomodations.

Aquarius Hotel, London. They do say right at the top of the website that it's "budget price." But I have to tell you, the community bathroom at our hostel in Edinburgh was better than the private bathroom we had in this hotel. The shower curtan smelled like BO and it stuck to you because the shower stall was so small. Also, hot water ran through the toilet tank and both the hot and cold taps in the sink, but not in the shower.

Our room was a cupboard under the stairs, but the sound of people walking up and down all night didn't bother us at all. We couldn't even hear the footsteps, due to the train tracks that ran right outside our window. We slept from about midnight to 5:30 a.m., when the tr…

All the photos...

are now up. Here on flickr. Now I feel nearly as sick as Mike did yesterday. Between jetlag and germs, we're both struggling to stay awake until it's dark enough to go to bed.

Overlooking Edinburgh
(Clicking on the photo will take you to flickr.)