What's New? 2005-12-15

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What's New? 2005-12-15

 Saturday 31 December 2005
  Welcome to the last day of 2005.

We start the day at the Randall Museum. Lila's proudly wearing a new dress, which is very fetching. (It reminds me of German/Austrian clothes we've seen on our travels.

Lila in Randall Museum bathroom

Here we head down the hallway, past the new mural, to the trains.

Randall hallway

The model railway layout has been a major draw for the kids; we're here semi-monthly at least. Rose is checking out the seasonal decorations.

Randall model railway

I can't find the menorah that one of the staffers bought in San Bruno. It's there, though. Really.

Randall Xmas display

Here's the busy corner of the layout. There are model deer, gold prospectors, bridges, and tunnels.

Randall Xmas display

Here's some of the rain damage in the Golden Gate Park panhandle. It's hard to see, but the Euculptus trees really got pruned. There are huge piles of tree litter, branches, and worse. I didn't get a picture of the tree which fell over and crushed a pick-up (right by the Hukilau restaurant).

Golden Gate Park panhandle rain damage

Travel is our major vice, and shopping at the Parkside Farmer's Market (Taraval at 14th Ave.) gives us a similar rush. Everything from Turkish coffee to jams from Ararat. Mmmmmm.

Parkside Farmer's Market
 Friday 30 December 2005
  More kids, different day, same Bufano cat.

Randall Museum Bufano cat

The kids with friend Maddie (at left) and Mir Mir and Belle (at right) at the model railway.

The kids with friend Maddie (at left) and Mir Mir and Belle (at right) at the model railway.

Celebrating Chanukah with Belle and Mir Mir is a good way to end the day.

Chanukah with Belle and Mir Mir
 Thursday 29 December 2005
  At day's end, Isaac asks me to capture an airplane moment.

Isaac playing
 Monday 26 December 2005
  At day's end it's play time, now that the homework has been done and put away. Here the kids are showing of their joint Lite Brite creation.

Lite Brite creation

Then it's time for dress-up. Find the clothes I'm folding and grab my Ranger jacket and playa pants.


It's late in the evening, but the kids put forth a good argument why going bicycling up the hill at the Randall Museum is a good idea. So we go. Here's Isaac on his brand-new birthday two-wheeler.

Isaac bicycles

Lila's enjoying her birthday bicycle too.

Lila bicycles

We celebrate Chanukah; the menorah sits on the stove as we brush teeth.

 Sunday 25 December 2005
  It's a cold, rainy morning. Dim sum, I think. Here's Lila on Clement Street, waiting to head on in.

dim sum girl
 Saturday 24 December 2005
  In the 1940s Benjamin Bufano was commissioned by the WPA to create animal sculptures for the Valencia Gardens Housing Project. It was recently torn down, and the animal sculptures wound up at the Randall Museum. There's a display about the man and the work. Here the kids (with friend Belle) are playing inside a wire-frame of a Bufano.

Bufano wire-frame cat
 Friday 23 December 2005
  The kids like dolls, and each have their own. Lila has quite the collection, Isaac is more serial about his attentions. Evidently it's time for their annual examinations.

Lila plays doctor

I love how the kids continue to find current ways to play with toys given to them years ago. The medical stuff just never goes out of style.

Lila and Isaac play doctor
 Thursday 22 December 2005
  Rose and I love the city. Unrepentant urbanites we are. But we do miss the autumn foliage.

autumn in the city

Lila went goofy with her make-up: it's toe day in the city. Nail polish, magic markers, and stick-on reflective jewels make a girl's day complete.

Lila's decorated toes

Pushing back the boundaries of bedtime, Isaac and Lila enjoy the birthday celebrations once again.

 Wednesay 21 December 2005
  Happy 8th Anniversary, my darling Rose. Thank you for eight grand years, with many more to come. I can't believe how much fun I've had, and how great this trip is. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Today I am forty-two years old. Just past the lifespan enjoyed by most of humanity for most of its time, perhaps at the half-way mark in our brave new world of medical wonders (with a foot still dragging in the dark times of the recent past). Happy birthday to me.

It's been a melancholy and nostalgic evening, what with our receiving a book entitled Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch, from Opa Emil; a book we've enjoyed in the library, a book about the circular passage of time, the love, and the loss. Lila liked it so much the last time we read it (only once or twice) that she's been reciting a key line every few days. Having the book in hand was amazing; it's a heart-warming and heart-breaking book, and great to have in the house. Now I just need a photo of Mom and Emil to go inside the front cover.

Love You Forever, Robert Munsch

This is my first birthday since Mom died (last May). At least she always called, no matter from where she was skiing.

Then Lila came into the office, asking me to read The Tie Man's Miracle: A Chanukah Story by Steven Schnur. Another story about loss, family, and happiness. More heart-strings pulled.

The Tie Man's Miracle: A Chanukah Story by Steven Schnur

As Lila falls asleep in my arms, in my office chair, I listen to the recent release of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (re-released on the Penguin Podcast series). Yet another cheery tale.

Then there's always the association of Douglas Adams with the number 42. More bitter-sweet.

42 Douglas Adams

Now don't get the idea that I'm not thrilled with this birthday. I like birthdays. I'll celebrate this one today (after I get home from commuting to a client) and this weekend and perhaps over New Years Day. My blessings are amazing; my wife, my family, nuclear and extended, our friends, and our community. Wow.


I head down the peninsula to one of my clients, Qlusters. I hate the commute, which is why I tend to pick city-based clients.

Qlusters commute
 Tuesday 20 December 2005
  Happy Birthday mother-in-law Marion! Happy 70th! Unfortunately you're sick, in bed with a high fever, sore throat, etc. We'll celebrate when you're hale and hearty.


Isaac is still sick, but mostly headache and a mild fever. I work the day at home; he and Lila watch videos, play, and eat. A quiet day. Birthday cake always helps.

more birthday cake

I chat with our architect; the ball starts rolling towards breaking ground.

 Monday 19 December 2005
  Happy Birthday Isaac! Seven years old!? Wow, I can't believe it was than long ago that Rose and I were allowed to take a newborn baby home with us. You are the light of our lives, my boy. We love you, perhaps even as much as your baby sister loves you.

Happy birthday, Isaac

You, my boy, unfortunately have a mild sore throat and low fever, and are suffering with videos on my PowerBook and a revitalizing chocolate sundae: chocolate ice cream, dark chocolate syrup, and chocolate nuggets. I think I forgot the whipped cream!

 Sunday 18 December 2005
  We head out to Japantown for breakfast. The kids groove on the Christmas decorations, especially the animatronic deer.

Japantown Christmas lights

Our usual kid-friendly quiet time at May's Coffee Shop is instead a flood of cosplay otaku. It's Halloween for the anime set.

May's Coffee Shop otaku

On our drive around the city we happen by some more rain drainage issues: check out this Saab deep in a huge puddle. I wonder if the headlights have turned on because something is shorted out; likely?

flooded Saab, 17th at Roosevelt

We celebrate Tobias' 7th birthday party at Acrosports. Here's my boy, raising his hand, answering one of the safety briefing questions.

Acrosports: safety briefing

Isaac, you were really fussy and emotional; I told Rose I thought you might be getting sick. Still, both you and Lila did the zip-line ride and other acrobatic distractions.

Acrosports: zip line

It's been a long day, so... family bed time!

family bed
 Saturday 17 December 2005
  Today is the day we're having Isaac's birthday party. Lila and I head out to the Castro Safeway to pick up a few last-minute things, including helium-filled balloons. Lila chooses to don some flashy sunglasses (which happen to match her jacket's color).

Lila's sunglasses

We always let the kids choose their birthday cake. This year it was between a Safeway theme cake, complete with decoration on top, or something with a better taste (from our local organic market) which the kids can decorate themselves. Luckily for all of us they chose the latter. Good choice, kids.

Isaac decorates cake

Here's a close-up of the decorated cake. Rose has a container with eight pie sections, each with a different kind of sprinkle (different colors, some shiny, many flavors). The kids love using it. Oh, yeah, it's on the picture above.

cake close-up

I've spared you the group photos from Village Pizzeria, (Clement at Arguello). Summary: we had a lot of fun; no rush, good food, attentive staff, a nice space. Here the kids jump onto the bar to supervise the making and baking of the pies.

Village Pizza
 Friday 16 December 2005
  Tomorrow Isaac has his birthday party, and I'm a bit down about it. We've always enjoyed the massive amounts of extra work necessary to prepare the dollhouse for a really big party, not to mention the cooking and post-party clean-up. But it's always been worth it, to have the memories of birthdays mingled with memories of the house. (One of the few memories I have of being a kid in Holland is one of my own birthday parties.)

This year Isaac wanted to copy what a friend did, and have a pizza party, in a really bad pizzeria. (At least we got him to agree to a tastier offering.) We love giving the kids a decision-making role, and we have to support those decisions. Okay, so growing up is a bit hard on the Papa too :-)


I love audio books. Whenever I stop at a library I copy the CDs they lend so I can listen to them later. They wind up being hundreds of MP3s; it makes navigating the morass quite frustrating. Accidentally I discovered that shareware I have is capable of joining the parts together. So, in the background, I'm flattening my library into a manageable collection of volumes, one MP3 per offering. Ahhhhhh.


Today has been quite the day for those of us who cherish civil liberties, something which has become somewhat rare since Dubya took office. As the New York Times said:

New York Times front page

The Senate [today] blocked reauthorization of the broad antiterrorism bill known as the USA Patriot Act, pushing Congress into a game of brinksmanship with President Bush, who has said the nation will be left vulnerable to attack if the measure is not quickly renewed.

With many Democrats and some Republicans saying the bill does not go far enough in protecting civil liberties, the Republican leadership fell short of the 60 votes required to break a filibuster. Now the future of the law, which greatly expanded the government's surveillance and investigative powers in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, is in doubt.

The debate, a passionate fight about the balance between national security and personal privacy, became a touchstone for repercussions after the disclosure on Thursday night that Mr. Bush had secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for terrorist activity.

Yep, that's right. That bad taste in our mouths from having our law enforcement be able to research the library borrowing habits of citizens surreptitiously (and having the librarians gagged) wasn't bad enough: today we find out that the thin veneer of the law left was casually circumvented by Dubya. Wow. Just wow.

Says the Associated Press:

President Bush has personally authorized a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States more than three dozen times since October 2001...

The disclosure follows angry demands by lawmakers earlier in the day for congressional inquiries into whether the monitoring by the highly secretive National Security Agency violated civil liberties.

''There is no doubt that this is inappropriate,'' declared Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He promised hearings early next year.

Bush on Friday refused to discuss whether he had authorized such domestic spying without obtaining warrants from a court, saying that to comment would tie his hands in fighting terrorists.

Wow. When Arlen "single-bullet theory" Specter gets on your case, you know you're too far adrift to the right.

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