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wood cat
Kate kate_nepveu
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Week and a Half in Review

Quickie post to update on the last week and a half, because Friday morning we're going to San Francisco, returning late Tuesday with probably no Internet access in-between.

Chad put up a corner of stockade fence last week, replacing the ugly chickenwire that had been keeping the dog in the yard in that area, and hopefully giving her less visual stimulation to bark at in the process. We were more than a little surprised to find, through a note on our door from the building inspector, that we were supposed to get a permit to put up the fence. I dropped off our application this morning and don't anticipate it will be a problem.

In other domestic-ish news, lbmango came over mid-week to test-drive my Prius and stayed a while to chat. And a number of the summer research students in the Physics came over for, of course, Spiedies and chocolate-chip cookies. Other than that, last week was work work work.

This week has been work work work too, but in-between was a rather busy weekend. Friday night I drove out to Massachusetts for a bridal shower Saturday afternoon. The shower was very nice, though the only people I particularly knew were the bride-to-be and her immediate family. The favors included a plant—okay, I'm told bamboo is basically unkillable, but I still think giving live things out as gifts is a bad idea, especially at a shower, because I'd take it as an obscure ill-omen on the marriage if I did manage to kill the thing. (I have a black thumb. I couldn't even take care of silk plants as a kid.)

Sunday we went to see John Mayer at SPAC (the Saratoga Performing Arts Center). We had lawn seats and arrived half-way through the second opening act, because I was trying to get some work done that afternoon. (That was Maroon Five, the "Harder to Breathe" group. The lead singer has deeply annoying stage patter.) It was actually very relaxing being so far in the back; we spread out the blanket, I laid down and tried to remember my constellations, the music was at a bearable volume for me, and we felt we could chat occasionally, not strain to see the stage, that kind of thing. (Okay, there were the stoned Fran Dreschers behind us, but they came and went.) It's not like one goes to see Mayer for the stage show, at least not if one is over 15. He is, by the way, a better guitarist than I'd expected; he did a Clapton cover and while he's not Clapton, he didn't suck either. He also did all the radio hits before the encore, so by the time we left (during the last song of the encore), getting out of the park was a breeze.

Dog tip of the week: if someone says hey, your dog is running around loose and could you please call it because our dog feels very threatened by other dogs, well, please at least try to appear that you care. Your dog might be the nicest thing in the world, but our dog doesn't know that and might growl, bare her teeth, or worse under the perceived harassment.

(A big dog running full-tilt at you, after you thought you'd gotten safely past, is quite the scary sight. Fortunately my "you will obey me" voice at full volume caused the dog to retreat, but that's just not the kind of adrenaline I need.)

Random bits:

  • This comic is exactly how I feel about text-adventure games.
  • deleting_my_lj is a good idea.
  • Chad and I have both been playing with our iPods; he's blogged his random thoughts, and separately I've been thinking about really, really small musical genres, to wit:
    • Lesbian country songs sung by a man.
    • Football ballads.
    • Songs addressed to a cat.
    • Songs from the point of view of a cat.

    I told Chad the first two of these and it only took him a moment to identify the bands I'd put in a playlist. Anyone else want to take a stab at it, or have their own suggestions?

Oh, and "you really must see X in the San Francisco area" comments are welcomed.




Stuff to see in SF when you have a few days, based on our trip in April. Not all links will be linked, my wrists are hurting enough today that I am going to be careful.

Consider getting a CityPass. Multiple attractions and a MUNI pass (good on the cable cars, buses, and light rail...not valid on BART).

Art museums: SF MOMA definitely, Asian Art Museum probably, Palace of the Legion of Honor maybe. All three are part of CityPass.

Science/technology/transportation geekdom: the Exploratorium can be fun, though if you've been to enough science museums, the hands-on exhibits get pretty familiar after a while. The Golden Gate Bridge is an engineering wonder; there's a nice view when fog isn't shrouding it from Fort Point. The (free) Cable Car Museum and of course the cable cars. Ride the F (Market & Wharves) line to see old PCC and other old trolley/tram vehicles in action.

(Cal. Academy of Sciences was closed when we went; they're now in temporary space, and that part of CityPass is an option: Palace of Legion of Honor or Cal. Academy/Steinhart Aquarium.)

If you're interested in Alcatraz, that's a good afternoon's worth. You can switch to that from the bay cruise in CityPass. Reserve early though as the Alcatraz trips are usually booked a few days ahead.

Coit Tower has nice views, again best when not foggy.

Farmer's market at the Ferry Building, fun to check out even if you don't buy anything.

Bookstores and music stores and whatnot; spend some time wandering around the place.

Favorite guidebook: the Avant-Guide, even if it looks like the WIRED magazine folks did their graphic design.

Most touristy-ticky-tacky: Fisherman's Wharf and environs.

Winchester Mystery House

was a really unusual and curious thing to see. I am glad I went. Beveled/stained glass, daisies, spiderwebs and the number 13 all take on special meaning after the tuour. An amazing and curiously obsessive personality, the tiny Winchester widow.

There is a book I am intrigued by: San Francisco Bizarro : A Guide to Notorious Sites, Lusty Pursuits, and Downright Freakiness in the City by the Bay by Jack Boulware which I've had recommended to me along with Eldritch Weirde's A Guide to Mysterious San Francisco (I think it's out of print). I'll try to get them before the next trip out.

Absolutely go see the Golden Gate Bridge. <*swoon*> I was completely enchanted by it, especially the night-time trip we made down to it.

Also, the view from Twin Peaks is astoundingly beautiful, and if you choose to go to the Exploratorium, be certain to go under the dome of the Palace of Fine Arts (where the muses are). There are Angels in residence there. And of course, Ghirardelli. (Like me recommending that is any surprise.)

I would second the Golden Gate Bridge; the other good vista is Coit Tower. For the bridge you might go to Crissy Field. It's the northern edge of the Presidio, which has good hiking as well as drivable roads through it. The southern edge either abuts or is a couple blocks from Golden Gate Park, which includes the Conservatory of Flowers. The Exploratorium is near the north end of the Presidio as well. (I haven't gone inside it yet, so no opinion.) CA Academy of Sciences is in GG Park as well, and one plus for non-West Coast types is an earthquake simulator. :P

Either the Legion of Honor or the Palace of Fine Arts, IMO. They're different, of course, but vaguely interchangeable as types of excursion. And I'd second Ghirardelli Square, which is close to Crissy Field. Nearby Fisherman's Wharf (Pier 39) is skippable and rather crowded with tourists on weekends.

If you're near any of these: City Lights (Ferlinghetti's bookshop) is on Columbus partway between the downtown banking district and North Beach / Fisherman's Wharf, around the corner from the edge of Chinatown. Stacey's is on Market St., downtown. Green Apple Books (good if not overwhelming new/used sf section) is near 6th St. and Clement, between Geary Blvd and the south edge of the Presidio.
If you visit the East Bay, you might stop at Other Change of Hobbit (downtown Berkeley) or Dark Carnival (south Berkeley / north Oakland). I like OCoH very much, but IMO Dark Carn is more the experience. Both are a few blocks from a BART station.

Bring clothing that blocks chilly evening breezes (~60deg). :)

The Winchester Mystery House is way the hell down in San Jose, about 60mi away.

Cal Academy is not in GG Park at the moment. Temp home is down by SFMOMA (875 Howard St) while renovations on the real home are going on. (They were still moving in April but have opened in the temp space since.)

Ghirardelli Square is somewhat touristy but not nearly as bad as Fisherman's Wharf; besides, free samples :)

On nice days, the walk from Crissy Field to Fort Point is good, and you can go up the hill from there to the Golden Gate Bridge visitor center-y stuff and catch a bus from there if you don't want to walk all the way back.

We did not leave SF proper except to and from the airport (and the Alcatraz tour) and we were there for almost a week. Plenty to do.

I should put some of my Coit Tower/GG Bridge/etc photos up somewhere sometime.

Thanks for the correction on the Academy of Sciences. I walk through GG Park a few times a year, but I haven't looked at the Academy for awhile.

Was the Alcatraz tour worthwhile? I still haven't gone, and I've lived within striking distance for eleven years....

I understand that, the "I live here so I never do the touristy stuff" curse. Happens to my wife and I all the time, we will go see the Boston sights only when family or friends are visiting but not by ourselves.

We enjoyed the Alcatraz tour. A short boat ride, an intro film, some time wandering around the island, and then an interesting self-guided self-paced audio tour of the cellhouse. Great views of the city and Golden Gate, too.

A good afternoon's worth as long as the weather is cooperative. (If it's rainy you probably wouldn't want to spend time wandering the island.)

Mount Tamalpais is beautiful and has ravens.

Pamela

There's this awesome sci-fi/fantasy/horror new and used bookstore called Borderlands that is really cool. They've also got a hairless cat ^_^. It's on the same street as another indie bookstore and another used bookstore, so right now it's among my "fun places to walk around" list.

I would love them even if everything else there was awful (which it is not) for the sole fact that they import Megan Lindholm books from England. Expensive, but I've been trying to get my hands on them for forever...

I have always liked wandering around the Union Square area looking at the shops. There's a huge Macy's and a huge Nordstrom's if you into that sort of thing. Also the SF Centre, where the Nordstrom's is, has semi-circular escaltors. There are great views from the bar at the top of the Hyatt in Union Square. And you can sit down and have a drink.

Union Grill on Union Street has good fish. Absinthe on the corner of Hayes and Gough, unless it's Union and Gough, um, is a really nice restaurant. Had a truly divine fois gras there once. There's a place in the MIssion which serves wonderful buckwheat crepes filled with all sorts of things. Um. On 15th or 16th off of, oh damn, I could drive to it... Ah, mapquest says it's Valencia, yes that sounds right. Of course, it would help if I could remember the name of the restaurant, but nouns seem more slippery than usual this morning.

If you do leave the City I recommend Berkeley, espcially Other Change of Hobbit, but Berkeley is famous for its bookstores. Cody's is one of the world's largest independents. Cafe Rouge, on 4th in Berkeley, has good food, but they also have an attitude. Still... Or, if you're up for great hamburgers I recommend Barney's of which there are a number, consult your guidebook or phone book.

I always enjoyed Fisherman's Wharf even if it was touristy. Where else can you see sea lions that close up? Susan says her boys really enjoyed the Aquarium there.

If there are specific questions I could answer I'd be happy to try. I did live near there for 14 years.

MKK