Saturday, January 26, 2008

For the birds...

A break in our winter storms brought out this gaggle of gulls (and various other sea birds) at a cove along the Bay shore. It was like a scene right out of Hitchcock. Imagine the droppings.

Speaking of crap...we got our San Francisco voter's guide, which details the City propositions on the ballot during the upcoming California presidential primaries. There is always one City proposition that just makes me roll my eyes in disbelief.

This ballot is no exception.

How about this gem: "Adopting a policy that they City acquire Alcatraz Island to make it a global peace center." Seriously...we vote on shit like this all the time!! It seems that a niche party rounded up enough signatures (over 10,000!!...who are these people!!) for this non-binding statement of City policy. Its amazing the amount of free time people have on their hands.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Out of touch, or just stupid...

I'm used to the annual blow to my ego called the Oscars. Each year, I eagerly review the nominations with fingers crossed...hoping to find a couple of films to root for amongst the list of movies I have never even heard of.

Well, I am sad to say that this year I have seen NONE of the films in the big categories. In fact, you have to drop all the way to "sound mixing", "sound editing", and "visual effects" to see the only nominated films that I have seen: Transformers and The Bourne Ultimatum.

That's it. Two films.

Oscar is looking down from his lofty golden pedestal at me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jeffrey...

We celebrated Jeff's birthday this weekend in grand style. Dinner at Pres a Vi in the Presidio on Saturday night with friends Chris and Brad, followed by drinks into the wee hours of the morning at Matrix on Fillmore. Sunday, we viewed the special Marie Antoinette exhibit at the Legion of Honor. Sunday dinner was a very yummy homemade cilantro-lime shrimp and German chocolate birthday cake.

Happy Birthday, my dear!!

Plugging rhino butts...

From each of our past three trips to Paris, I've posted shots of either Jeff or me sticking our head up the behind of a rhino statue at the Musee d'Orsay. This tradition goes back over a decade, with Jeff's first trip to Paris with his dear friend Matt.

Well, now Matt has started to assemble these photos and some of rhino lore into his own rhino blog...the Global Rhino Project. As a featured rhino butt-plugger, I just HAD to share this link with the world :)

And if YOU visit sure to take a photo and send it to Matt!!

Rewind: Seattle...

This past week, I spent a few days in Seattle for business...with an opportunity for even more hotel window shots...this time from the downtown Westin.

All things told, this was a very nice trip, with a couple of great dinners with coworkers...adventurous sushi and flavorful steak...and an AMAZING pecan bun from Belle Epicurean: "rich brioche rolled with butter and filled with pecan frangipane and whole pecans" was truly divine.

But the blog-worthy story is really the hit-and-run snowstorm that sped through on Monday.

My plane arrive in Seattle at about 6pm. I picked up a rental car...another Avis practical joke, as you will see...and headed for my room downtown. As I arrived in my room...say at about 7pm...a heavy, slushy snow had begun to fall. I called my dear buddy Jeff to see if I should risk driving out to see him and his kids. No problem...the roads look clear on the traffic webcams...not supposed to really snow until after midnight.

Now, let me throw in the tiny detail that Avis gave me a Ford Mustang. Honestly, I rent a car in the summer and I get a gas-sucking SUV...a snowy winter day...I get a sled. You know, they make these freakin' cars in Michigan...where it snows...often. Do Ford executives actually drive the cars they build? This car (which still has rear wheel drive) is just stupid.

Anyhow, I made it pretty far before it became clear that the snow was picking up steam. But, there was no way to turn around, because the roads going back were all jammed up. Well, after a few scary moments where I lost traction, Jeff and I decided that I would not make it up the hill to his I would have to turn around.

We plotted an alternate route back, and by the time I reached the city, the snow had all but stopped and the roads had nearly melted.

Remember that scene in the first Lord of the Rings movie when the Fellowship tries to go over the mountain, but a freak storm comes up to thwart them? Same thing. Except that I was in a f-ing Mustang, and I don't have furry feet like a Hobbit.

Rewind: Las Vegas...

I've been a bit travel-weary lately, but I'm finally getting caught up a bit. As much as I enjoy visiting Las Vegas, the days really are quite long...particularly since its so easy to lose track of time in the casinos. (The shot above is my coworker and friend Ellis attempting to win big and throw off the shackles of the working world...unfortunately, we're both still working...sigh.)

For the first part of the trip, I stayed at the Mirage...the original Vegas "theme" hotel/casino. This was my first stay at the Mirage. I requested a room with a view of the Strip, which included looking out over the fiery Mirage volcano, which erupts periodically at night.

The rooms at the Mirage are nothing special, but the casino and restaurants have been significantly updated recently, including the Beatles' Cirque do Soleil show and lounge. The Mirage is definitely still one of the hot spots on the Strip.

Of course, the purpose for my trip was to attend a government conference attached to the international Consumer Electronics Show...the largest show in Las Vegas. Once again this year, I was able to visit the main CES show floor to ogle technology for a couple of hours. What did I learn? Its all about bigger, flatter TVs...including Panasonic's "world's biggest" plasma at 150 inches, and requiring a small nuclear plant to power.

One quick oddity...walking past the Flamingo, wrapped in a Toni Braxton advertisement, I wondered how hotel guests must feel if their room peers out through one of Ms. Braxton's boobs. Yes, I'm a child.

On Thursday, Jeff joined me for the weekend, and on Friday we moved to the Wynn hotel. Highlights of the weekend, include sipping drinks along the Wynn's colorful "Pool of Dreams", watching the amazing Le Reve show, and listening to fantastic music in the Wynn's nightclub Blush.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pardon the interruption...

I've been in Las Vegas this week attending the CES Government conference, and Jeff flew to join me for the weekend. I've been meaning to post some shots of hotel windows and various other Vegas stuff, but the days are long and my will is weak. So, stay tuned...

In the meantime, against my better judgement, I'm posting this moody self portrait, taken after a particularly long day.

Monday, January 07, 2008

After the storm...

Sadly, the tree in front our house was damaged during the storm Friday. The gale-force winds twisted one of the three primary limbs, creating a huge split. We've stabilized the limb for the moment, but it looks like a third of the tree will have to come down :(

Seeking beauty in the rain-soaked city, I ventured out Sunday afternoon. The backlit gray skies set off the graffiti blues. Later, I drove out to Ocean Beach to see the dramatic storm-driven waves. Unfortunately, my photos of the gigantic waves looked like splashes in a kiddie, I stuck with some photos of the ocean wall.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The eye of the storm...

The rain and wind subsided over night and we even had some sun break through the heavy gray skies. But that was short lived...heavy rains are on their way back. So, I ventured up to the store for breakfast items. Along the way, I passed large downed limbs, and a huge tree that had uprooted and fallen into the road. The store was was as if a blizzard was forecast...reminded me of winters on the east coast :)

So, as I post this, the rains have returned, and we've even heard some thunder...a rarity for San Francisco. Fingers crossed that we don't join the thousands of Northern Californians without power.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Unsettling noises...

It was one thing to be awakened in the middle of the night by high winds and waves of rain rattling the windows of our house. But it was another thing altogether to arrive in the office this morning and hear the building "creaking" from the 70-mph gusts of wind. I'm up on the 33rd floor in a building designed to sway in an earthquake. Still, its quite unsettling to walk through quiet hallways and hear the walls and ceilings moving...loudly.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A tale of three cities...

A belated Happy New Year, fearless readers. The stress and hassles of holiday travel have faded, replaced by fond memories of friends and family.

We spent a fun Christmas in Muskegon. A beautiful tree. A freshly-fallen white Christmas. A brisk walk in the snow. And games of Mexican Train Dominoes that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. (If you haven't played Mexican Train, then you simply MUST visit us and try it out...its addictive :)

We took a drive across Michigan to visit with friends north of Detroit. Jeff's friends Matt and Lisa hosted a festive dinner party...complete with spontaneous guitar jams and expressive games on the Wii.

We returned to San Francisco on Monday and hosted small New Year's Eve party with some of our close SF friends. A fantastic way to close out an amazing year.