What's New? 2006-05-01

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What's New? 2006-05-01

 Sunday 14 May 2006
  For my father-in-law's birthday we celebrate with his love of trains by taking a ride on the historic Niles Canyon Railway.

Here's brother-in-law Neil chatting with Matt, our minder on the rented cupola caboose.

Niles Canyon Railway

In the train the champagne and bubbly apple juice is broken out. That's mother-in-law Marion at left.

Niles Canyon Railway

Big Isaac, joyous on the end platform of the caboose. We're at Niles Station, waiting for the train ride to start.

Niles Canyon Railway

From left, uncle Neil, cousin Matthew, aunt Mindy, cousin Jessica, and Isaac.

Niles Canyon Railway

Rose and I, underway.

Niles Canyon Railway

On the return trip, the caboose is leading the way. Here Isaac points out a deer on the track. The horn, to scare it off, is impressive. The cattle bones, from the cows which fall from the cliffs above (when the fences aren't mended), were worth the story.

Niles Canyon Railway

We finally get the birthday boy to the seat of honor, and the trip ends with grandpa and grandson supervising the trip. It was grand, as was the picnic organized by Mindy.

Niles Canyon Railway

Afterwards we head to the cousins' house in the East Bay. It's hot out, and it's nap-time. My solution, park the car in the shade of a tree and enjoy the intermittent breezes.

Lila & Papa nap
 Thursday 11 May 2006
  Ugh, it's early in the morning! I'm spending the day with a client in Mesa, Arizona. I don't sleep much the night before, and head out to Orphan Andy's for an 03:00 breakfast. At 05:00 I'm in a taxi, heading to the airport.

SF taxi ride

I like getting to the airport early; rushing and running isn't for me. Here's the post-sunup view of my part of SFO International Airport.

SFO scene

The desert scene just outside of Phoenix, as we're about to land at Sky Harbor Airport, contrasts greatly with the verdant San Francisco Bay Area. Today it'll be 99° F (37° C); hot, but, as the locals say, a dry heat.

landing at PHX airport

Sky Harbor used to be a pleasant and convenient airport for me, as a business traveller. Land, go down a floor to the car rental agencies, pick up the car, leave within a half-hour of touching down on the tarmac.

Now they've "improved" the airport by moving the car rental to a facility away, and requiring travellers to wait for a bus, take a quarter-hour ride, and then start the rental procedure (in this very cool new building). I'm sure there were many good reasons for the new building, but it's a very real inconvenience. I can't imagine dealing with it on a weekly basis, like when I commuted between San Francisco and Phoenix, years ago.

PHX car rental facility

Another contrast between home and Phoenix is the landscape: the flatness is stunning to those used to hills and valleys. Here I am heading to Mesa. The highways are well-marked, and the trip is very easy. Everything is laid out on a grid, so it's a challenge to get lost, should you want to.

very flat Phoenix

My business day done, I return the car and head to the terminal. Guess what? The plane, which is going back and forth between PHX and distant cities, has worked up some serious tardiness, getting later with each trip. And now we're really screwed. The plane is hours late. Finally, after much chatting with fellow travellers, and a martini at the bar, the bat-woman guides our plane to the gate.

bat-woman guides plane

Sunset at PHX. Our plane is being off-loaded, and by the time we're allowed on my well-planned family time will be unattainable, but Rose says the whole family will be at the airport, despite my late return.

PHX sunset scene

Finally, aboard! I'm travelling without luggage, or even a backpack. Just a fanny pack with a phone, camera, contact lens rewetting solution, and money.

jetliner interior

What a long, long day. We had a good meeting, and came to a revelation during our "face time", so it's all good. Time for bed.

 Tuesday 9 May 2006
  Lila, courtesy of Coach Larry of Rochambeau Playground, has been enjoying the trampoline. Every Tuesday we're over there, hearing things like "seat, knees, feet, seat, feet, seat, feet". Coach Larry rules!

Lila, trampoline, Rochambeau Playground

Afterwards, hungry, we stop off at the House of Bagels, on Geary Boulevard. I'd like to say that I was health-conscious, but the new pastrami sandwiches got the better of me. Mmmmm.

House of Bagels
 Sunday 7 May 2006
  Breakfast-time; Lila and Rose at May's Coffee Shop, in Japantown.

Lila & Rose @ May's Coffee Shop

Rose found a kite built like a boat for sale in the Castro. Here is Rose listening to the kids tell about flying the kite by running pell mell down the hill from the house, dragging the kite through the air.

flying Isaac's kite

The sidewalk has some recreational limitations. We head up the hill, to the dog-run, to try kite-flying in a field. It works, but the kite (or the breeze) isn't stable enough for me to let out much string.

flying Isaac's kite

Lila takes a turn flying kites; in this case a bag turned into a kite as an art project. It's surprisingly stable.

Lila flies her own kite

We head out to dinner to the South Seas Seafood Village. Isaac decides that he wants to sample the live crayfish, taken from the holding tanks in the main room. He chooses a simple preparation. Here he's dealing with the tail, feet, and heads. Tasty!

Isaac eats crayfish
 Friday 5 May 2006
  Today is the orange belt test for Lila and me. Here we sit on the mat of the Hapkido dojang, ordered by rank. We're tired (from a late evening and no nap today) and nervous.

Lila & Mickey @ Hapkido dojang

Here's Lila taking her test. They're performing their forms, or pinans.

Lila takes her orange belt Hapkido test

Then it's my turn to demonstrate my technique upon Jacob Mazzullo, who makes me look good. Thanks, Jacob. It's nice to test with a peer; a peer has been working with you day by day, and familiarity works during testing.

Mickey Hapkidoes Jacob Mazzullo

Miles Ceralde, an assistant instructor, chats with me. I'm probably saying "well, I made some mistakes, but nothing compared with the blatant errors I made during my yellow belt test."

Miles Ceralde chats with Mickey

Watching the test proceed, rank by rank, takes time. The nervousness is gone, replaced by relief and pleasure at a good test. I think you can see tiredness on all of our faces. By the way, that's Jacob at right.

Mickey, Lila, Jacob Mazzullo

Our class ends. We line up, again by rank, and thank the teachers, peers, and visitors.

Hapkido test ends

Will we pass the test and be given our orange belts? Check back in a week or so.

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