What's New? 2005-11-21

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What's New? 2005-11-21

 Wednesday 30 November 2005
  Today I spent part of my day in Oakland, California, at PocketThis, a client. I like commuting via BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport): I avoid the traffic jams, and all my time is my own, to blog, to think, to read.

Oakland, California, via Google

Here's what it looks like from my desk:

PocketThis, Oakland

Besides being payday, and a hard-at-work day (getting screen captures for a narrative I'm writing), it was an eerie day, with yellow-black cloud cover giving the day a horror movie feeling to it.

 Tuesday 29 November 2005
  Le Bon Gateau went out of business many weeks ago. This morning I had lunch at Zig Zag Café:

Zig Zag Café, The Castro

The verdict? Meh. It's a nice try, but not impressive yet. And a lack of WiFi is a big deal to a clientèle used to using the café as an office.

 Monday 28 November 2005
  Welcome to the Castro, Zig Zag Café!

The sorely-missed Le Bon Gateau, gone before it really got going, has been replaced with a French-esque bistro; opening this morning at 476 Castro Street.

Sunday brunch is promised, starting at 09:00. Beer & Liquor license in three months, they say. No WiFi (yet). Pictures and narrative to follow.

 Sunday 27 November 2005
  We recently saw Ted, a friend, and his band, and I got to "produce" my first "bootleg" album: Meshuggenismo! Live on Pier 39. Afro-Cuban klezmer? You bet!

Meshuggenismo! Live on Pier 39 - front

That's Ted at the bottom right, checking out the band's pre-show preparation. And a huge Christmas tree gracing the front of an album of Jewish music done in Afro-Cuban style? Of course; it somehow works perfectly!

 Saturday 26 November 2005
  Morning at May's Coffee Shop, in Japantown, but no Gary & Kate? Crossed wires. I missed their company, but the kids were mollified by a chocolate tai-yaki (dough fish).

I got to spend the afternoon working as everyone else headed out to the Children's Discovery Museum, under the Marin side ofthe Golden Gate Bridge. Nice and quiet. We were going to head over to Oakland to hear brother-in-law Adam play, but a headache felled Rose in the late afternoon. I wonder if Dad went?

 Friday 25 November 2005
  Happy Thanksgiving II...

My sister, Felicia, decided that she wanted to host a family Thanksgiving this year. She's a vegetarian, and both she and her husband, Adam, are great cooks.

How do you guys feel about cooking up a goose for thanksgiving? I think almost everyone else would love some meat, so if are up for it, you could cook it 90% at your house, then wrap in foil and finish cooking at our place prior to the feast. I know it's a tall order, so if you don't want to, no problem, but do you have any alternative suggestion to those folks where a meal w/o meat just isn't thanksgiving....

Nope. Not going to happen. We eat what the locals eat, so it's veggie fare. Instead we take over the end-of-meal course. Half-and-half is necessary. Shopping just before we head over the bridge yields pies and halvah and other sweets. Then onwards to Felicia's house, to celebrate.

Fel's Thanksgiving

My e-friend Gabriel, in Miami, recently got electrical power and 'net access back after hurricane Katrina. It took a scandalous time for Florida Power & Light to do its job. Knowing he's back online I brought my PowerBook over along with my iSight camera. He got to see our family dinner - he did their feast yesterday - and chat at length with both my father-in-law Lenny and sister-in-law Pamela.

Pamela chats with Gabriel
 Thursday 24 November 2005
  Happy Thanksgiving Day!

We head over to a friend's house in the Piedmont hills. She's a wonderful cook, and we're thrilled to have been invited. So have the in-laws. Best of all, I get to help in the kitchen, mashing potatoes, lifting this, serving that. Even carving the turkey, which is a special sort of terror.

Tamara's feast

Here we are lounging around the living room, digging through the feast. Mmmmm. Good conversation, good food, and happy kids.

Tamara's Thanksgiving
 Wednesday 23 November 2005
  Norman Rockwell - Freedom From Want The Thanksgiving celebration is first and foremost on most people's minds (here in the USA; I've been overseas this time of year and it's - obviously - invisible, except for the expatriate who scour shops for turkeys to cook.)

Isaac is out of school today, I guess to give travelling families a bit more time to get to where they need to be. (For you out-of-USers: Thanksgiving is a holiday where famlies get back together, often by nationwide trips. Remember, the US mainland is 2930 mi (4714 km) wide.)

The painting at right is by Norman Rockwell, Freedom From Want. The older I get the creepier I find this work of art. I'm not sure why; I may have to stare at it for a while. (This is the fourth in a series, the others are Freedom of Speech, Freedom To Worship, and Freedom From Fear. Inspired by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address, where he enumerated the reasons for our support of the Allied nations in World War II.)


I'm at home working. Lila calls to say I need to come over to the play-group; there's something she really wants me to see. So I jump in the car and head up the hill. Why? Because she's now able to do the monkey-bars. She is so proud of this achievment; now she can do another thing her big brother can.

Lila's first monkey bars
 Tuesday 22 November 2005
  It has been two months since I've done my almost-daily updates. Mea culpa. We spent almost a month overseas and then spent about two weeks in battle against an annoying cold or flu or what-not. Oh, and I've been putting in crazy hours at work.

I do, however, have photos and notes, and will back-fill the site to bring everything up-to-date. So if you're reading this sometime in 2006 or later you'll just see an interrupted blog stream; ignore this wee note.

Buy Nothing Day Let's start with something of value: Buy Nothing Day. The day after tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day (in America). The day after that is the biggest shopping day of the year, with crowds racing to dig themselves deeper in debt buying mass-produced crap for themselves or to give to others this holiday season.

I've been off that treadmill for many years now, thanks to an ex-girlfriend (Hi Kathryn) and her family. Home-made or small gifts only. Rose and I have extended this to all the adults in our circles of celebrations. The children get gifts early and often, but even there we stress home-made, or at least very thoughtful gifts, rather than whatever crap is being force-fed as the must-have item du jour.

And we've been teaching the kids about saving money and compound interest. I think I might venture into teaching them about the stock market next, and getting them a share or two of some interesting companies. Isaac loves trains and planes, so that's a utility or an airline. Lila? Hmm. I'm thinking on that one.

Rose and Lila are with Isaac at Willa's playgroup. I'm going to see whether I can make a family lunch get-together happen as a surprise. Rose has her hands full :-)

 Monday 21 November 2005
  It's Earthquake Preparation Day across the San Francico Unified School District. At Isaac's school the kids had a morning of instruction and then, after lunch and recess, a mock evacuation. At the announcement of the mock earthquake the kids started with their "Duck and Cover" drill, and then filed out in an orderly fashion.

A few classrooms had to use alternate exits as their main egress was blocked by mock collapses of staircases, etc.

Shortly the classes were evacuated to the playground area, some in the bright sun. (I was asked to help out, and would up being an observer. My past experience came in handy.)

earthquake preparation - on the schoolyard

Here's Principal Willem Vroegh (tallest, at right) coördinating with his Search and Rescue teams to find the six "missing" children. From practice comes enlightenment: more radios, better lists, and a single point of responsibility became important. (Next time we'll have to organize some really nasty surprises. Maybe a couple of parents can help me and the staff will have to react completely without any fore-knowledge.)

earthquake preparation - willem vroegh and staff

Here's the medical triage area, which one "injured" student lying on the gurney with which she was "evacuated" from the rubble. One unfortunate surprise: the bleach bottle had broken, spoiling much of the disaster supplies, much of which was horrifyingly out-of-date. Well, better find out now than after a real 'quake.

earthquake preparation - medical triage area

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