Monday, July 31, 2006

Where we binocular were met by angry...

The title of this entry comes from a spam e-mail message I received today. I found it to be poetic.

Anyhow...the weekend. On Saturday, we drove north to Napa for a few random Wine Country stops. We were joined by our friend Paolo, visiting from LA for the weekend. We hit all new wineries this trip. Jeff's favorite was the sparkling wine from Domaine Carneros.

We stayed in Napa for a delightful dinner at the Rutherford Grill. Exceptional ribs. Exceptional mojitos. Just good all-around. Everyone enjoyed their meals. The cows in the parking lot kept us safe.

On Sunday, we drove south for a change. We got a late start after a sunny breakfast (Jeff's own asparagus and goat cheese fritatas...yum). After wandering the small downtown shopping area, we stopped at our FAVORITE plan nursery to take in the spectacular variety.

I also took THIS photo one of the mornings. Not exactly sure how to work it in effectively :)

Mysteries of the universe...

I suppose that since James asked TWICE for the secret behind my hotel 'string of light' image, that perhaps I owe an answer :)

Simply enough, I was just playing with the captivating blue light from my iGo power supply. 15 second exposure. Fun in the dark!! Who said that power supplies couldn't be exciting.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Curt Blog...

Curt and I had dinner Wednesday night at Chili's in Tysons Corner. We were seated promptly in a charming booth with faux leather cushions. We ordered chips and salsa to start, accompanied by Presidente Margaritas served in a cobalt blue shaker. Dinner for both of us was the tangy boneless buffalo wings, with a side of cool blue cheese dressing.

It was a magical evening. I'm sure that Jeff and Cheryl are jealous!

[James and you want a plug for our dinner?]

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Hotels can be dull dull dull. So, I amused myself trying to find some art in my room. Heh, fun times :)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Going back to the well...

I'm happy to say that I only seem to watch crap TV when I'm on business travel. I've posted a couple of those crazy info commercials before, but this one today takes the cake.

Today's photo comes from a half-hour infomercial on Comedy Central (I think), which I stumbled on while I was ironing this morning. It was an infomercial featuring a televangelist pitching "Miracle Spring Water". Apparently, you can call and get this stuff, follow the instructions, and it will help you get money.

Seriously. The quote was "God knows where all the money is, and we can help you find it."

I couldn't make this up.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hollow victory...

As I predicted, there was a problem with my reservation when I arrived at the airport this morning. [I swear that I will stop obsessing about this!] Yes, even though USAirways, United,, and American Express told me that I could check in with EasyCheckin at the airport, the colorful kiosk quickly tossed me to a United Representative.

So I waited in line. The representative found my reservation, and then told me that I didn't have a ticket. I was ready for that and provided the ticket number. 'Oh, this isn't a valid ticket number.' 'Yes it is, both United and USAirways gave me this yesterday.' 'Hmmm, well that's odd...oh there it is.'

Does everybody get this when they fly a codeshare? No, of course not.

My beef is simple. Everybody I spoke with over the past two days has told me that the ticket number is missing from my reservation record...SO WHY DOESN'T SOMEBODY FIX THE F'ING RECORD?!?

I 100% guarantee you that I will have problems checking in on my return flight. I'm at my wits end.

Monday, July 24, 2006


The day started off so promising. I awoke to a cool fog (finally). I had some very productive meetings this morning. I had a yummy BLT for lunch.

And then the United-USAirways duo crapped on my day. Too tired to talk about it...but suffice it to say that I was on the phone FOUR TIMES with United, TWO TIMES with USAirways, and TWICE with my travel agent. They all pointed fingers at each other. And in the end...I didn't get my problem solved. I didn't even figure out what when wrong so that I can watch for it in the future.

So to my friends on the customer service lines, I dedicate tonight's photo...from Alcatraz...where everything is covered with poop.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hot enough to fry...BACON...

[This one's for you, bobgirrl...bacon photo ahead.]

Another record high temp today, albeit another "nothing to write home about" record. We reached a record 83 degrees today, while our neighbors in San Jose and San Rafael set records at 104. Show offs.

But this heat reminded me of frying bacon. And bacon reminded me of my all-time favorite BLT in San Francisco...the non-descript Sandwich Gourmet shop on California Street across from the Bank of America building. The couple who run this place have been there for 30 years they tell me. It just a little regular spot for lunch.

Back to the heat.

Low bar for record temps...

Its hot everywhere. Yes I know. But we're hot too and are a bit San Francisco, because 1) we're blessed with a mild Medeterranean climate and 2) NOBODY HERE HAS AIR CONDITIONING.

But yes, we are a BIT whiny about this record-breaking heat wave. Afterall, Sacramento was 109 yesterday, Livermore at 115, San Jose 102.

And San Francisco? Well our 87 degrees on Saturday topped an 81-degree record set in 1917.

My condolences to our friends in San Jose. Now...where is my friend the fog?

Venice on hold...

Well, I've been delinquent. Virginia Tech buddy and dear dear friend Cheryl is in town for a few days, and I have NOT uploaded a single picture in days. Yes, I've taken quite a few 'round-the-town photos (including a few stranger pictures), but I've not worked with them yet. So...back off!

In the meantime, here are a few new Venice photos that I had been working with but not posted yet. Graphic and fun. A doornob here, a church there, a gondola next door.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

San Diego ups and downs...

I took a quick trip to San Diego last night and today. A good trip. Very productive. Warm and sunny. Good food. Overall...mostly positive.

Let's begin with the landing this evening at SFO. An approach from the south and perfect afternoon lighting made for some interesting patterns in the salt flats and on the runway.

Naturally, there were a FEW most business trips have. An obvious annoyance was the bathtub in my hotel room!! Can anyone say 'lawsuit'? These shards of paint formed a decorative ring around the entire tub.

But let's focus on the positive. The hotel was very comfortable, and located on picturesque Shelter Island, with its marinas and joggers and restaurants. Its also VERY convenient to the airport.

One quirky little sign to wrap up this post. The 'Boll Weevil' restaurant is located on Shelter Island and is apparently a small regional chain famous for 'half pound steerburgers'. Let me just say that a boll weevil is a nasty looking insect, and in no way makes me want to savor a Boll Weevil classic 1/2 pound peanut butter bacon cheeseburger.

Monday, July 17, 2006


I won't go into my whole story, because you really won't care. This is just a rant.

I called United Airlines this morning, because I was having an issue checking into my flight via their website...which I am fond of and have used a zillion times before. The web page gave me a helpful 800 number to dial. Annoying, but no big deal. (Actually, it IS a big deal, but what am I going to do? Punch my computer?)

So I called the United number and did their tedious voice routing and finally reached Friendly Agent #1 (in fairness, he WAS friendly). I explained my problem, read him the prompt on the screen, and he said that I would have to call the number. I explained that I had reached him via, but he failed to understand my dry sarcasm.

As we closed our call, he asked me "Have I met all your travel needs today?" Huh?

So, let's skip ahead to Friendly Agent #2 at who also listened to my story and then tried to pawn me off on yet another number. He explained why I couldn't do what I was trying to do, to which I answered "Yes, but I have done this same thing dozens of times before...what is different this time?" So, he repeated his explanation, ignoring my question.

I don't have a pithy punchline to conclude with. I'm just pissed. Now, I have to go to the airport early, attempt to use one of those humanless check-in kiosks, and then wait for someone to take pity on me. Its just a big waste of time.


So here, I'll end with a visual metaphor for today's customer service. This is a shopping cart I found this weekend...hard to reach, slimy, and crusty with barnacles.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A walk in the park, a fixed fountain, and buffalo...

I'm happy to report that the air is filled tonight with our gurgling fountain after a few months of silence. Last fall, the fountain developed a mysterious leak, but it was unpredictable. Today, we finally disassembled the entire fountain and installed a new liner. I had forgotten just how pleasant the fountain is.

The fountain capped off a really nice Sunday. We spent the bulk of the day walking in the San Francisco AIDS Walk. We were joined by 25,000 others for a 6-mile stroll through Golden Gate Park. The weather was perfect for the walk, under mostly sunny skies with fog near the ocean.

Like most San Francisco events, the SF AIDS Walk brings out a colorful mix of residents and entertainment...and our local herd of buffalo.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Feed me...

Twice during our week in Muskegon, we put in kayaks at the Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery on the White River. One of the local families was this happy band of swallows, tucked away safely in their mud nest. The children sat intently with heads poking over the edge of the nest, until mom arrived with fresh insects. At that point, mouths opened wide and the loudest squawker got a beak shoved down its throat for insect regurgitation.

HA! Makes my deep fried Twinkie sound pretty good, eh?

The fog is alive...

A cozy, wonderful, heavy fog rolled in last night, and blanketed the City. The fog makes every morning commute unique, as the fog begins to slowly roll back out to sea for the day.

This morning, as I arrived in my office, the fog had rolled back off the Financial District, but was still clinging to the water near the Bay Bridge. Just minutes after this photo was taken, the fog actually re-advanced and totally encompassed the bridge. Minutes later, the fog had rolled back completely. And of course, by the time the evening commute arrived, fingers of fog were already appearing over the SF hills. Now at 9pm, the City is once-again covered.

We will do this slow dance on most days all summer long. Truly magical.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The return of the hummingbird (and other Muskegon memories)...

Our 4th-of-July week in Muskegon flew by in a blur of family time, graduation celebrating, grilling, pine cone collecting, and kayaking.

So, here are just a few random images from the week. The yummy ice cream from Whippi Dip. The decadent deep-fried Twinkie from the Muskegon art fair. A bird nest in a hanging fern at Jeff's parents' house. The drive-in hot dog diner--Dogs and Suds. And (of course) the requisite Independence Day fireworks shots over Muskegon Lake.

And yes, here is the previously mentioned "hummingbird pee" shot. And no, I don't really believe it is in-fact hummingbird pee. But SOMETHING shot through the frame in a very dramatic way. I have about 50-60 other shots with just the hummingbird....snooze. So, let me stick with my version of the story.