What's New? 2005-07-01

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What's New? 2005-07-01

 Thursday 14 July 2005
  GearQueen.com debuts That's the name of the site: GearQueen.com!

It's tag line is "torture-testing mission-critical equipment", which pretty much says it all. Except the "I like to play with new things" part, but that's pretty much understood by gear queens worldwide.

Unlike most of my other websites, this one has light on a dark, pictoral background (of last weekend's playa surface).

It's the first venture of mine with ads (text ads from Google, shown in the small box near the page bottom). It's first with horizontal navigation elements at both top and bottom. The vertical content navigation you've seen around these parts, like this.

And it's the first site of mine to really take advantage of Google's customized siteSearch features, so that the search results page looks very much like the rest of the site, including that background, text and link colors, and graphic elements from the site, like this banner:

which looks much, much better on a dark background.

It's amazing what one can do in a couple of lunch hours.

Later in the day Isaac shows off his towel-as-cape and candy necklace. Quite proud he is.

Isaac's candy necklace
 Wednesday 13 July 2005
  clear plastic storage box Going throught the seven or so clear plastic storage boxes labelled Burning Man, I realize I have a lot of history with gear.

There's the outdoor gear, from camping to wilderness rescue to leading trips into Yosemite and Hetch-Hetchy. Packs, radios, climbing gear, GPSs, stoves, etc.

Then there's the indoor gear, the digital still and video cameras, and the computers. More packs.

I'm going to start a website where I can review all this stuff, share what worked and what didn't, add my excursion to-do lists and lessons learned lists, and perhaps solicit companies to submit their new gear for review. That'd be fun, being such the "gear queen" that I am.

 Tuesday 12 July 2005
  I head over to PocketThis, in Oakland, this morning. Here's what I see on the way:

BART security

On the way to Bubbie's house I'm thinking about the things we need to unpack and then organise for the playa. Soon we're there, and Isaac blows out a candle in celebration of his first loose tooth.

Isaac blows out candle

With the kids at the grandparents, Rose and I get to spend a bit of time together. What a novelty! We head over to a sushiya on Church Street, for a really filling donburi ("over rice").

sushi on Church Street, San Francisco

When we get back we find Isaac and Zadie cuddled up on the sofa, watching a kid video.

Isaac with Zadie
 Monday 11 July 2005
  Back to the office, back to work despite a serious case of "playa mind". But there's a lot to do, and to-do lists to be made for our next trip to the playa.


The gas station around the corner, on Castro @ Market, is showing a rediculous price for gas, $6.159 per gallon; more than twice what the competitor across the street is charging.

They've got some cock-and-bull-story about being charged for gas they didn't get delivered, but these are the same people who chain-sawed a neighbors trees because they didn't like the leaves, etc.

expensive gas, Castro @ Market
 Sunday 10 July 2005
  The playa surface is much harder than either Ranger Lefty or I have seen since Burning Man 1998. Less dust than usual? That'd be nice.

Black Rock Desert, NV

We don't return to San Francisco the way we came, by 80. Lefty brings us to an old favorite of his, the Grover Hot Springs in Markleeville California. Very pleasant. It's a soothing way to rid ourselves of playa dust. By the time we hit the deep fog bank engulfing the city the hot sun over the springs is a distant memory.

 Saturday 9 July 2005
  Oh, what an eerie and awe-inspiring Milky Way we saw last night! Ranger Lefty and I partied with the Rangers until the wee hours of the morning, then drove a mile or so into the playa, pulled out our ThermaRests and bags and fell asleep gazing into the cosmos.

Today is the classroom portion of the ROM.

Black Rock Desert, NV

Last night we did more socializing, and thereafter we headed out to Trago Trench and Frog Lake (or Bordello) hot spings!

 Friday 8 July 2005
  Ranger Lefty and I leave for the Burning Man Black Rock Rangers' Playa ROM. Here we are, somewhere between Sacramento and Reno, NV.

Black Rock Desert, NV


Casio EX-Z750 After I leave the Casio Exilim EX-Z750 which was promised for weeks ago finally arrives. It's been a long, frustrating wait.

This puppy takes 7 megapixel images, a big jump over my previous camera. That means high-quality 8x10-inch and poster-sized prints, and that means that I have even more things about which to be thrilled at this year's Burning Man, in 58 days. I have a 1gb Secure Digital card in the mail; perhaps I'll be able to fill it every day of the event. We'll see.

 Wednesday 6 July 2005
  It's terribly late at night (by which I mean freakishly early in the morning), and I'm not yet done with all the work for my client, PocketThis, nor with updating this site.

But all is not for naught; why this very night Ranger Lefty made a good case for taking a couple of days off and heading up to the playa for the Ranger Orientation Meeting (ROM). With Rose's blessings, I'm going to go! In two days! Yea!

 Tuesday 5 July 2005
  After the Live 8 concerts, the awarding of the 2012 Olympics, and as the G8 summit was getting underway in Scotland, a series of explosions targeting the London transit system has the Underground and the buses halted. Fatalities.

London Underground

We're great fans of the city and its citizens, and we're thinking of you, fellow urbanites.

London Underground

Readers of my travelogues may recognize some of these place-names:

London satellite map
satellite imagery from google.com

The bombed bus exploded at Tavistock Square, behind the Royal National Hotel, where we recently stayed. Half a year ago we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast in Russell Square, near our usual Coptic Street digs and nearby eateries. (And not on this map, but germane, the kids' favorite London entertainment, the London Transport Museum.)

Winston Churchill's middle finger "...let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'"

   -- Sir Winston Churchill, 18 June 1940, announcing the fall of France and the start of the Battle of Britain.

More, as we get it, on my London Transport bombing page.

 Wednesday 6 July 2005
  All right! I'm typing this on my newest PowerBook. It arrived this morning, and it's fast. Little things are different, like a backlit keyboard (not terribly useful) and two-fingered trackpad scrolling (very, very useful). I haven't yet played with Bluetooth, but I'm looking forward to it. The new LCD screen is much brighter than my older machine, so much so that I've needed to use a freeware thing called Brightness Control to get into the very dim range for my nighttime work (which is most of my work).

The new digital camera is supposed to arrive on Friday. We'll see whether FedEx Ground will be next-day if I'm only across the bay from the sender.

The new toy, plus work for my client, makes a day.

The kids enjoyed the Exploratorium (today is free day, and we've not yet decided on which museum memberships to take now that our old ones have expired).


Lila has decided to wean herself. Her explanation:

Lila: My brain got full of asking for Mama's meek, and I decided that now you can have a break from giving Mama's meek.

And then, as we were going to sleep in the family bed:

Lila: You can have a break until you die.

 Tuesday 5 July 2005
  What's the most famously bad movie of which you've heard? Even worse than Ishtar? Perhaps Battlefield Earth? I'd heard so much deliciously bad reportage about this sci-fi flick that I jumped at a chance to see this recently.

Battlefield Earth

You know what? It's not bad at all. Oh, sure, the costuming of the aliens to look like white Rastafarians (with six-fingered Muppet hands) was perhaps a bit weird, but the movie hangs together as much as most other famous sci-fi movies, and it's not a bad adaptation of L. Ron Hubbard's well-written story.

Captain America; now there was a stinker of a movie.

 Monday 4 July 2005
  Happy Independence day, America! (I just realized that it's been twenty-nine years since the bicentennial celebration. I'm getting old. 1976 was such an interesting year. Even more was red-white-and-blue than now.)

Culzean Castle, South Ayrshire, Scotland Two years ago today we visited Culzean Castle, south of Glasgow.

Today was much more pedestrian, with chores around the city, and a big celebratory barbeque in the Castro with other breeder friends of ours.

The fog rolled in and we listened to the fireworks rather than head out to Fisherman's Wharf in our exhausted conditions. The kids loved the popping sounds and wanted to make the trek next year (with earplugs, Lila informs me).

So that's the plan.

 Sunday 3 July 2005
15-inch PowerBook Sadly, today is a day when I missed most of the family time; in stead I worked on client projects. Poor, poor, pitiful me.

Rose, Lila, and Isaac, along with Auntie Pamela and the in-laws went to Sigmund Stern Grove to hear the SF Symphony.

Apple PowerBook Hunting around the Apple Store I found a last-generation 1.5 GHz Aluminum PowerBook 15-inch for about $900 less than the next revision, and with the educational discount (PTA officer) the AppleCare was next to nothing. Yes! If this model works for at least four years (like the 800 MHz model that Rose is starting to use these days) then this will keep me going through the first few revisions of Intel-based PowerBooks (that's a debugging curve I want no part of; buy rev. C is my policy :-).

 Saturday 2 July 2005
Raising a child is not just the work of the parents but of the entire community, especially buff, mustachioed men in macho costumes. In short, it takes the Village People.

-- Rhymes with Orange

It's the beginning of a three-day holiday weekend. Everything is full of such promise. The air is still, the sun warming our garden as we tidy up a few things and run the sprinkler to give our Modesto Ash some needed water. It's going to be a quiet time; we've made no grand plans, only to enjoy friends and family and our surroundings.

For some reason which completely escapes me at the moment, Isaac laughs at the designs Rose makes in his breakfast food:

Isaac laughs at food

A somewhat belated spring cleaning is upon us, as we try to eliminate those things which we've outgrown and no longer want. I may wind up doing a bit of an eBay spree to get rid of some things.

In the meantime, the kids are at a playground. Isaac plays tennis:

Isaac plays tennis

Lila plays tennis:

Lila plays tennis

Back home, Isaac draws a very detailed plan of his current interest, the Titanic. You can see the four smokestacks at the top, and the yellow lines go from the labels (lower left) to the part of the ship labelled: top deck, stern, bow, glass dome, etc.

Isaac's Titanic drawing

A few hours later we're all over at the grandparents; there's Neil and Mindy and Pamela around the table.

Dinner @ Bubbie & Zadie

Why are we here? To celebrate Bubbie & Zadie's wedding anniversary with some tasty, tasty cake.

anniversary celebration

Have a gentle weekend, dear reader.

 Friday 1 July 2005
  Happy July! Wow, I can't believe how fast this year is flying by.

Today I add to my plate: I start contributing to MetroBlogging SF. I'll be maintaining a local archive.

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