Saturday, November 29, 2008


Thanksgiving 2008
I just got back from an week's vacation in the Bay area for Thanksgiving.  I visited Meg & Rich in Silicon Valley, and Steph & Aaron in San Francisco.  But over the week I ranged far and wide, from Monterey to Napa.  In seven days I:
  • Had excellent Mexican in Mountain View
  • Toured through the Napa Valley and had a very fun tasting at Sequoia Grove.
  • Drove to Monterey to visit Meg's future home, the Hopkins Marine Station and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, both of which were amazing.  This includes her future colleagues in that grad program, who were a very sharp group.  I was especially impressed by the details of the experiments they were working on - biomechanics, mostly.
  • Had North Beach Pizza with Steph & Aaron and Meg & Rich.
  • Hiked up over Russian Hill to go out for a very fun italian meal.
  • Played through Gears of War 2 with Aaron.  Nerds!
  • Helped (a little) with making a huge and amazing Thanksgiving Feast.  The real credit goes to Steph:
    • Brined Turkey
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Garlic Mashed Potatoes
    • Rutabaga
    • Italian sausage and sourdough stuffing
    • Bacon, roast chestnut, and cornbread stuffing
    • Homemade gravy
    • Homemade cranberry sauce
    • Rolls
    • Blue cheese & walnut spread
    • Pumpkin Pie
    • Chocolate Pecan Pie
    • All Paired with fantastic wine
  • Went for a appetite-building walk along the waterfront to Fort Mason to see a nifty instrument that uses the flexing of the Golden Gate Bridge to estimate the temperature.  Solid science, engineering geekery - pretty perfect for me.
  • Tried to visit the new California Academy of Science, but went to check out the Presidio after seeing the hours-long line to get in to the museum.  Next time...
  • Ate a ridiculous amount of leftovers

Not so much a real post as an after-action report, but it was such a great week, and packed to bursting with excellent times.  I recommend any and all of it for anyone who finds themselves in the Bay area.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Good Decisions


Made some of my better decisions the last few days.  On Friday I was at the office a little later than I would have liked (not to the good decision yet).  But it was a gorgeous day - partly sunny, in the 70s.  Bike weather.  With the cooling temperatures, earlier sunsets, and intermittent rain, I hadn't been out on the road in a while.

Coming home, I weighed the pleasure of a ride against the chance of getting caught out past sunset, which I really don't like on the unlit trails I would be on.  If I had waited 20 minutes, it would have been the wrong choice.  But I quickly changed and rolled out.

It was a great ride - warm, little breeze, and no crowds.  Well, there were some leaf-peepers that made some parts of the trail perilous.  But away from them, it was lovely.  I rode out to Hain's Point, and East Potomac park looks fantastic, with the trees all turning.

Coming back up to the Mall was even better, as the failing light gave all the marble monuments a warm pink hue.  Just a great ride, and I'm really glad I went.  And on Sunday, I went sailing with Sarah & Paul, and decided to take my camera phone on the boat, which I usually avoid.  I'm usually the type that would lose it overboard, get it crushed down below, or something similarly stupid.  But I was able to get some nice pictures of Sarah & Paul & Louie which I liked.  And then we chose to come in before it got too cloudy and cold: another good decision.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sea Dog

It was another beautiful day on Saturday, and Paul & Sarah were nice enough to invite me to go sailing on their O'Day out of Annapolis again.  It was not blowing quite as hard as the last few times, but with less traffic and very light seas it was very comfortable and relaxed sailing.

Conditions were so good, we were able to concentrate on experimenting a little bit.  The first test was unintentional.  Sarah was on the tiller, and was sharp enough to notice that the depth sounder had suddenly started reading below 4 feet.  The O'Day draws about 2.8.  So she called for an immediate tack and we all performed pretty flawlessly.  Everybody did exactly what they needed to do without being told - even Louie (pictured above).

Later, as we were headed back towards shore, we tried going wing-and-wing.  It was a little challenging, since the whisker pole wasn't set up.  I tried holding the sail out away from the boat by hand, but it was surprisingly tiring.  I had to hang out off the stays, and with the following seas keeping my position with all the rolling was more work than I would have guessed.  And we didn't seem to get much speed out of it.  But that's why you experiment, I guess.

There was some traffic shenanigans on the way back due to some construction, but the sailing was worth it.  Though I've got to stop looking at the boat from a racing point of view: "You know, with a spinnaker we could really surf downwind back towards the creek..."  Boat noun: a hole in the water you throw money into.