Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The upside of an early flight...

United flight 1200 left from its SFO gate promptly at 6:46am this morning bound for Seattle. I was about halfway through my morning latte--Peet’s with a dusting of Splenda--and slowly emerging from the fog of my early rise.

Early flights are just rough, but as the plane lifted from a routine north-bound runway, I got the payoff I needed to lift my spirits.

The pilot kindly banked around the City on a breathtaking route that revealed a City waking up with the dramatic first rays of sun. It felt as if the pilot was sightseeing with us as we passed one celebrated landmark after another...each one worth a vacation.

Low, early light truly sets off San Francisco...revealing the famous undulations of the terrain that are normally masked by rows of houses. From above, the City looks small and intimate...a tiny peninsula isolated from the rest of the world.

What a fantastic (and unexpected) reminder of what makes San Francisco special.

Still...I’m not saying I couldn’t have used another hour of sleep. :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Broken glass, a rubber band, and pee...

Name three things in our front flower bed.

Seriously...I just replanted this damn flower bed this past weekend, because dogs keep peeing in one corner and killing everything. This is planting #3...or is it #4...I've lost count.

Now its ME that is pissed.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fight club...

Last night, our friends Brad and Brian invited us over to their neighborhood for dinner and a movie. At Cha Cha Cha on Haight Street, we barely beat the throngs of locals, who line up early for creative tapas and famous sangria. The colorful wall decor was a bonus.

For our movie, we walked a block to the Red Vic Movie House...a worker-owned city favorite. The theatre had that quirky Haight charm, although the popcorn (served from a traditional theatre popper) was surprisingly cold and stale. They asked if I wanted yeast on my popcorn...maybe that would have helped?

We watched the Oscar-nominated flick There Will Be Blood. We all left the theatre scratching our heads, but somehow we just felt wiser...or at least happy not to be in the oil drilling business.

But the real show was on Haight Street itself. We had about 30-minutes to kill between dinner and the movie, so we walked several always-colorful blocks. Lots of people offering items for cash...or just outright begging.

Our favorite? Two young men who offered to do "extreme ultimate fighting" right there on the street for cash. Awesome!


Last weekend, I coaxed Jeff into flying south to LA for the weekend, rather than having me fly north Friday and back south on Sunday. (No, its not that tough to coax Jeff to LA :)

For me, LA is a blur of supersaturated images intensified by the bright sun. So, as I was working on the snapshots for this post, I had some fun and pumped up the colors.

NOW they are LA!!

For this weekend, we returned to an old favorite hotel that had been recently renovated. The London (formerly the Bel Age) is definitely aiming for the high-chic West Hollywood/Sunset Boulevard crowd.

On Saturday, we took a sunny drive out to the coast and then up the Pacific Coast Highway. (The photo at the top of the post is in Malibu.) On our way to and from the coast, we wound our way past ritzy houses in Beverly Hills and Bel-Air (actually...mostly gates and high hedges). Yummy food and mojitos at the Abbey, amongst other indulgences. (The window display below is selling bedding? You tell me.)

On Sunday, we drove to the Getty Center, perched on a hill overlooking downtown LA in the distance. The Center's dramatic marble-clad buildings and popular gardens were PACKED with Angelenos soaking up some culture along with some sun.

The business end of an armadillo...

The primary reason for my trip to Southern California this past week was to support a conference in Anaheim. Last year, careful readers may recall a fascinating giveaway dealing with urination and...well...the need to urinate somewhere you might not be able to urinate. Anyhow, this year's tip-of-the-hat for best giveaway goes to a tiny booth handing out cans of armadillo. Bravo.

My trip was non-stop busy, and I didn't get a chance to load up a photo of my hotel window...which was actually a balcony on the top floor of the Sheraton overlooking Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. Sadly, no fireworks during the week to photograph.

I did enjoy this tiny warning sign on the wall near the ceiling. You just know more than one person set the sprinklers off before they posted this.

Thursday, April 24, 2008



[Note: I had a yummy work dinner at Fisherman's Wharf on Thursday night with visiting colleagues from across the West. Sure, Alioto's is deep in tourist territory, but it still feels like old SF...and the sunset views of the Golden Gate Bridge with the wharf in the foreground are pretty damn nice.]


Wrapping up seven days away.

Sitting at John Wayne airport in the sunny OC.

What a swingin' airport.

Please take me home.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


In my flurry of morning office activities, I left for the airport without my laptop. Either a sign of aging, or a sign from god to let go for a day...but either way, a bit unnerving.

So for now, a view of my Hilton windows in downtown Los Angeles...straight from my Blackberry for the first time.

The image quality seems much better than my Treo (MUCH better), but I suspect it will still have a blue cast to correct later.

My cab smells like poop...

Perhaps with soaring gas prices, they can't afford to stop for bathroom breaks?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just say no to drugs...or you'll end up in West Oakland...

Soooooo, along with the warm temps this weekend came a big burst of sneezy-stuff in the air. I can usually battle through my spring allergies, but this weekend was rough. Sure, my Claratin did its job for the most part, but my decongestant left me horribly stuffed up. You see...I have been buying the new formula of Sudafed...the one without the Pseudoephedrine. But on these really bad allergy days, it just doesn't cut it.

So, in red-eyed desperation this morning, I stood in line at the pharmacy counter, entered my drivers license into a tracking system, and got the good stuff...the real Sudafed WITH the Pseudoephedrine.

Please keep in mind that the last time I took this stuff, I had nightmares at night with psychadelic images, a song-stuck-in-my-head soundtrack, and for some odd reason...George Bush. Scary sh**.

So, today was a bit of a meeting running into the next. On my BART ride back to the office this afternoon, I wasn't paying attention and somehow missed my stop. Sigh...I ended up in West Oakland...waiting for a return train. [Oh yeah. The photo above was taken with my new Blackberry. Its still West Oakland.]

Great...wait till the dreams tonight!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Throngs of fair-weather fans...

We took advantage of the first truly warm, sunny day of the season, and took a tour of the local micro-climates on Saturday. North to the Carneros Region of Napa where it hit 91. West through Petaluma to Pt. Reyes Station where it was a pleasant 75. South along the coast, and then up and over to Marin where it was back around 80. And then south into the City and back into the mid-60s.

We did hit a couple of snags along the way, like the horrendous traffic as we tried to go through Stinson Beach. We turned to Emily (our GPS) and flipped a quick U...Emily took us up a narrow winding road into the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. Not the quickest route home, but some amazing the compressed view above that shows Stinson Beach in the foreground, and the hills of SF in the distance.

Heh, one amusing story from our traffic jam in Stinson Beach. We watched in amazement as the heavyset driver in front of us stopped his car in the middle of the road, got out of the car, took off his shirt, and then walked into the bushes to pee...while traffic continued to inch forward ahead of him. (He didn't seem troubled by our inconvenience.)

Saturday night, we did dinner with our friend Brian, and discovered more warm-weather fans crowding the streets of the Marina District. We tried to go to one of our favorite spots--Mamacitas---but we were told the waiting list was longer than the kitchen would be open! (Never fear...we moved on to the Presidio Social Club for a satisfying dinner...even though our favorite banana cream pies were gone for the night :( )

Sunday, we tried to take our lunch out to Ocean Beach to enjoy some people-watching, only to find WAY TOO MANY people to watch...we wisely diverted into GG Park for our sandwich.

Now, suddenly, the temps have dropped dramatically and the fog has swooped in, completely blanketing the valley below our house. Amazing how quickly our tiny weather pockets can change.

Friday, April 11, 2008

End of an era...

I know that most of you won't care, but one of my long-time guilty pleasures ended today.

I've been an avid listener to the irreverent Don and Mike radio show since I first moved to the DC area in 1991. After I moved to SF, I found D&M on a Sacramento AM station, where I could catch the show on occasion. In recent years, the always-fresh D&M podcasts on iTunes have kept me entertained on my frequent flights. The show has always been one of my ties to my post-college life in DC.

With Don's retirement today, the show has come to a festive-but-sad close. (Mike is carrying on solo, fyi.)

After so many years, I have many fond memories, but I think my favorite will be listening to the show when D&M were doing a dramatic reading of the Kenneth Star report of the Monica Lewinski scandal. To this day, my friend Kim and I still talk about that show :)

Thanks for the memories, D&M. I have NO idea how I will sit thru five-hour flights now!!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Torch song...

With a little bit of luck, I got an up-close glimpse of the Olympic torch today, as it wound its way along an unexpected route through San Francisco.

I hadn't expected to see the torch, because I was across town at Ft. Mason in my photo class. But without notice, my classmates and I heard helicopters overhead, and quickly realized that the torch had been re-routed our way. How very cool. (Not so cool for the folks along the PLANNED route from which it was diverted...sorry.)

In the morning, I had made my way over to Justin Herman Plaza to see the early morning crowds gathering for the torch ceremonies. In the face of vocal protests nearby, the Olympic celebrants were full of energy and color.

And for the record, yes, the Free Tibet protests were certainly present across the city. Their numbers grew through the day, and eventually forced the rerouting of the torch. Protests are certainly part of the fabric of San Francisco life.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A return visit to Filoli...

Yesterday, Jeff and I took a short drive south to the Filoli Center...a Historic Trust home and 16-acre formal gardens...near Woodside, CA. We visited in the fall a few years ago, but never in the spring, when the bright flowers are at their peak.

FYI, those of you who watched Dynasty in the 1980s will recognize this home as the Carrington mansion. For our part, we experienced no melodrama on our visit...just throngs of Asian tourists.