howeird: (Default)
Showered in the guest bathroom because the instructions said wait 24 hours before loading up the soap dispenser in the main shower.

Got a call from UPS, they will send a check for the fraud charges, because I had removed my credit card info from their sites. Should see that in a week. It will go straight to Discover Card, though.

At work I checked out my fave whale watching place, they don't seem to have an afternoon run on Saturday but they do have afternoon glass-bottom boat cruises on the harbor. Book a 9 am Sunday whale trip, and will take my chances on the other when I get there tomorrow. Booked the lodgings I wanted, after not even looking because they are usually full up this close to the day.

Work was boring again, matching tests with the requirements doc and writing steps for tests I don't really now how to do yet because I don't have  machine to look at.

Lunch at China Stix, but had to hurry back for a meeting. This one would have been useful, Boss was trying to go over the massive changes in the schedule he just found out about (I was assigned two more items, one of which looks like it could be fun, the other is a major WTF. But I don't get a machine until maybe September. I hope I didn't hear that right. But once again loudmouth shouted a lot and got caught in one of his infamous infinite loops of non-logic. His failure to understand simple things, and wanting to make them more complex is made worse by his horrible English. He's from a US terrortory, one would think he could at least get the hang of tenses. And his accent is like a parody. I almost turned on my recorder. His writing is even worse.

Back to my desk, got done as much as I was going to get done, wrote up some clearer results of a bug test because the boss of the boss of the guy who reported the bug can't read and understand a technical answer.

Home by way of Lucky's because I was counting on them having birthday cards of the humorous variety for my Middle Sister, who turns 60 on Wednesday. As I was waking up this morning, my text message alert went off, it was her (she lives in Baltimore) saying she was at my airport. Close, my airport is SJC, she was at SFO. Why? I replied. She and husband are on their way to Hawaii. Just like I did for my 60th. Except she's been there before. Copy cat.

Walked into the store, immediately slapped myself upside the head in my head, because I needed some diet Coke, and assorted munchies for the 3-hour drive to Morro Bay. I took care of that first, then went looking for birthday cards, which of course were all the way at the other side of the store. Found one cute icanhazcheezeburger themed one, but was looking for a 60 years card.

Staring back at me were cards with big 16s on them. What a great joke.
How old are you?
No, 60
No, six-oh

Bought three of them, and the mylar balloon (in a package small enough to stick in with a card) 
Also found two more funny any-age cards

At the check-out she asked if I wanted the balloon inflated. No thanks. It won't make it to Hawaii in time. I also bought a $10 straw hat with a chin strap for the boat ride. Baseball caps get in the way of photos and my good suede hat will fly away in the breeze.

The to World Oil to top off the tank - it took almost 8 gallons so that was a good idea. On a good day Morro Bay round trip is a tank.

Home, watched two TMZs, had a beef strogonoff-like frozen dinner.

Looked at the lenses which are candidates for the whale trip. Last time I used the Tamron 28-270, was not thrilled with it. The 55-300 Nikon weighs a lot, but it's fast, so that's on the camera, but in my fanny pack is the Sigma 28-300 lightweight. And will have the Nikon 18-200 in the car too, for when I'm not on  the boat.

Looked up fixed 300mm lenses, the good ones cost >$5k. Not gonna happen. Even the 135 is close to a grand. I have a really nice 65mm macro, but it is only really good for close-ups and portrait work.

Plans for tomorrow:
Put out the big bag of cans for the homeowners' assn. recycling drive
Throw another jacket in the car because Morro Bay forecast is only 65° high
If I arrive before 1 pm, I'll head for the docks and see if they are doing any afternoon whale watching runs. Or if they have a glass bottom boat space free.
howeird: Me onstage (Cowardly)
Well, not really, just one, which happened yesterday and it was so epic I completely forgot to journal about it. When I got home from the mattress place by way of Kinko's, my body was trying very hard to believe I was already in the bathroom poised for victory. After draining the lizard, I felt that warm wet sensation which usually means someone was too quick on the trigger. I took my pants off, and the whole right rear side from the waist to the knee was wet. Water wet, not pee wet. Wet enough to empty the pockets, remove the belt and toss it into the dryer.

Totally puzzled, I could not think of how that happened. The driver's seat of the car was dry, so was the floor of the bathroom. I could not think of a water source which I could have encountered in the time frame, except for the remote possibility that one of the mattresses I sat on had a leak.

Got to work early, thanks to being very nervous all night about the astronomical blood sugar reading. I woke up at 2 am and it was 190, which is too high for the insulin dosage, so I shot up another 6 units (equals 35 units of regular). But when I did my morning reading it was up by 8 points. The human body is not a precision instrument, but this is ridiculous. I'm gonna write my diabetes doc and tell him I want to go back to the last regimen, shooting up before each meal. As poorly as that was working, it was far better than this.

Main reasons to be at work early was twofold: I was going to leave at 11:30 to be home foe the noon-2 bed repair window, and boss had emailed me a very complicated test to run for Engineering and I needed to re-learn how my older model machine worked so I could send video and 4 audio channels to my new model machine. And then mess with which audio streams were sent and seeing how the new machine handled the changes. The bottom line is I couldn't fool the new machine into misbehaving. It played all the audio I sent it, and didn't miss a beat (literally) when I added a stream or pulled one or two, or completely replaced the 4 original streams with 5 new ones. That was a lot of work, I hope it's what engineering wanted, because the email from them was open to interpretation.

After that I continued to update the test database with setup requirements and steps. Got home by 11:45, and immediately got a call from the bed people that they would be there toward the end of the window. So I fired up the VPN and remote desktop, and continued to continue. Got about 5 done before the bed guys showed up at 1:45.

Domino wanted to help, after all it's her bed. I put her in the bathroom to get her out of the way. They did a quick job of taking off the mattress and lifting the frame up on its side, removing the legs from the frame, removing the wheels from the legs and screwing the wheels straight into the frame. Frame back on the ground, mattress back on the frame and it was all done in 15 minutes. Now the bed is just a tad lower than I like, but I can always raise the feet a little (adjustable frame) where before it was just way too high.

Domino yelled at me as I made the bed, and jumped onto it after I was done. It is now low enough for her to not need the pet steps, so she has her choice.

Back to work, completed the first feature set, and proceeded to plan the next one, which I can't really do without the actual machine. November, they say. This feature involves testing that the device sends alerts to designated PCs when certain events occur.

After work I took the copied script/music for Little Shop to the Mercado Starbucks, waited for a seat by a non-high-chair table opened up, and highlighted my lines and underlined my cues. Many of my cues are not underline-able, as they are ends of songs or scene shifts. It is a big part, and my character leads off most of the dialog. There is one tricky section where my lines alternate with music the plant is singing. One thing I discovered at the launch rehearsal is the guy playing the voice of the plant and I are from the same planet. This is often not the case with one's duet partner in community theater.

That all took about an hour, which was still early enough to throw some Costco spanikopita into the oven and watch the Tivoed Olympics. Some major crashes in the women's snowboard, and it was good to see the Jamaican bobsled team, out there again. There is also a Thai skier, but he didn't make the US broadcasts. I hate that they lump disparate sports into a single 3-hour broadcast. Tivo doesn't do a good job of skipping chunks of video, and figure skating just looks rude in 3x FF. And there are way too many fluff stories (making nested dolls has no place in a sports broadcast). And I can do without the tutorials by US team members.

I've been spending time on for coverage which makes more sense.

In other sports news, I subscribed to Sports Illustrated online, which will get me a year's print issues plus online access. And a Seahawks bonus package for free. Which I will send to Baltimore sister.

Looked at my online calendar and saw a big empty space where the London Worldcon should have been, so I poked in the flight and hotel info and marked which days are con days and one long mark for the entire vacation time. One thing I would like to do after the con is take a significant side trip. Ireland is high on the list, Paris is trying to win me over, a chunnel train ride is tempting. But I have cousins to visit as well. One in Brighton, a couple in Olney and a couple in Buckinghamshire. There are more, but I'm not surer where. Cousin Howard has always been an enigma. To the best of my knowledge he is not fannish like all the other cousins, and I have no real idea where he lives except "far from the rest".

Irish rail has some lovely looking London-Dublin rail/Ferry packages, which poetically start at London's Euston station and end at Dublin's Heuston station. And once in Dublin there are train tours to some very scenic places.

But first I need to survive Little Shop.

In mortgage news, I called the lender CU and they said Allstate was wrong, the refund check is to be sent to them to be put into my escrow account to cover the new insurance which they already paid. There will be an actual amount owed on my next CU statement, and I should use the enclosed envelope to mail it in.

Serendipitously, MetLife mailed me a card saying that the new company gets a 15% discount, so while waiting for the bed guys I phoned to find out what it would cost to move my auto insurance to them. The guy asked where I was located, and when I said CA he said Metlife wasn't licensed to sell auto insurance in CA but he will transfer me to someone who can. So I hung up. But now I'm thinking I may have misunderstood him, and he was saying he personally wasn't licensed in CA. I think I'll go online and try again.

Bought the other three Giver books on Kindle.

Plans for tomorrow:
Start studying the words to my songs
howeird: (Default)
All my plans to stay an extra day at Morro Bay were derailed by the weather report for tomorrow, which was for colder, cloudy, possibly rain along the drive home, coupled by the fact that the grey whales will be migrating for a couple more months, and I can see them from Half Moon Bay just as easily in February.

So I had a lovely breakfast at the motel (Best Western San Marcos), checked out at about 10 after I was sure I didn't need to use the facilities any more, drove down the hill to the parking lot next to my favorite coffee shop "Buns and Sun", walked there but decided I was full from breakfast (four small self-made waffles) and just got in the car and headed up Hwy 1. Got a good view of the ocean for about 20 minutes, then inland over the hills to Paso Robles, and up 101. Stopped after an hour at the rest stop, then again just short of my trip odometer hitting 300, in King City to fill up, then home.

Just in time for email from the mfg rep's office, someone I had not worked with before confirmed which insurance quote I was wanting to switch to, she emailed me the paperwork, I signed and emailed it back, also snailmailed it. The lender will add the difference to my monthly bill (something like $5/month), which may go higher if they have to add flood insurance. I can't really tell from that line item if it is in there or not. Also attached was an offer of CA earthquake coverage, but while the annual premium was half that of the one Allstate quoted, the deductible was twice as high. So no on that.

My Allstate agent emailed that he thinks the reason his insurance partner company wanted to add $200 to a $650 annual premium is there is no full time live-in manager at the mobile home park. That's ridiculous, this isn't an RV park, it's a community of 230+ homes with a manager & staff & community center. Anyhow, I'm done with that partner company, as all of this should have been done two months ago, and giving me what amounted to 4 working days' notice to pay them was vile. It also ignored the fact that the insurance comes out of escrow, not directly from me.

Good thing I came home early. Also, was able to make a coffee/movie date with a friend.

While I was online I had a brainstorm and found a way to fix the fonts in Firefox so they didn't break up in Facebook. Just needed an add-in for fonts, which made the change all by itself. Basically it automatically defaults to a readable font.

And I'm out of egg nog, which I will take care of tomorrow. Also need to go to a hardware store and get some L-brackets, and some fluorescent bulbs.

Domino was sunning herself on the rim of the bathtub when I got home, one of the few places not in view of a webcam. She can't decide if she's mad at me or misses me. On the side stairs was the 10-pack of treats I'd ordered.

Uploaded the photos to the PC, most of them came out well, but none of them are calendar quality whale action pictures. For a change all of them got GPS tagged.
Photos behind the cut )

Watched the Alamo Bowl until Texas scored, then went to BASFA, which was a longer meeting than usual because of some fun & games around the reading of the minutes, and the fact that for the last several meetings while the secretary was unable to attend the various holographic secretaries had not posted the minutes online. I brought a pair of my calendars, one for artist [ profile] maurinestarkey and one to auction off. There were actual bids this time, and it went for almost what it cost to make. A nice surprise.

I got a very interesting artsy poster for $1. Things bogged down when someone decided to put about a dozen packages of Christmas cards on the table.

Another good thing is I asked for suggestions for books by James Gunn, and got two good suggestions, plus [ profile] kproche pointed me to the author's web site, which happens to be the U Kansas sci-fi center. It all makes sense, because the person who saw the article on him and asked me, has a license plate which says JHAWKS.

Home, watched the rest of the game and marveled how badly Oregon crushed Texas when the Ducks only made about 10% of their tackles and kept backing themselves up with penalties which kept them from the end zone. I think they had two offensive TDs and two defensive ones (interceptions run back for TDs). The rest was field goals, including a missed one. But then, Texas was the king of 3&out in the 2nd half.

Plans for tomorrow:
Hardware store
Grocery store
Replace burned out bulbs
Install my NOLA art
Install a bracket to hold my 3-tier fruit basket
Maybe install a couple of hummingbird feeders on the front porch
Maybe make pigs n blankets & watch the ball drop on TV
howeird: (Default)
Decided to take the Nikon 18-200 instead of the Tamron 24-270 after using the Tamron this afternoon to shoot pix of RC planes. Even the in-focus pix were not as sharp as I thought they should be. In the camera case the Nikon 55-300 was on there, which I used last time for whale watching, but it's so heavy it gave me tennis elbow.

This morning was a slow start, Domino had abandoned me overnight, could not find her on the webcams, finally looked and she was curled up in the office between the cat tree and the spare chair, in front of the heating grate. It's one of her favorite spots when I'm on the PC, and is on the other side of the tree from the webcam. If I look real close I can see her, usually. Almost out of Whiska's treats for her, 10-pack on order. She yells at me and leads me to the kitchen each morning until I shell some out.

Lazy day, mostly. Watched the Notre Dame-Rutgers game (Pinstripe Bowl - oy veh - at Yankee Stadium on the worst kept grounds evah) until the Tivo got equal to real time. Nibbled on soft goat cheese and sourdough slices, then finished off the "extra sharp" Vermont cheddar, which is about as sharp as Kraft medium. Domino loved licking the soft cheese off my fingertips, but wasn't too keen on the cheddar.

At about noon-thirty it was warm enough to go to Baylands Park, which is free from November to March, took my camera, a camp chair, the Nexus in case there was no action, and watched Radio Controlled model airplanes and choppers being flown. There was one guy about my age with a medium sized model of a Cessna 2-seater, I think, a late-model barnstormer. He flew it out past the park, out of the way of the others, and did some very smooth Himmelmans, barrel rolls, but mostly take-offs and landings. No touch-and-go, he said that was for his partner the retired Marine pilot. Lots of action, first time I have used the Nikon since tennis elbow, except for pix of the new house a month ago. I need to keep wearing the arm strap.

Made reservations for the Morro Bay Best Western for tomorrow night, and for the 1 pm whale watching tour. Little by little I have been gathering cold weather gear for that. My Seahawks stadium jacket and UW Huskies sweatshirt.

I had watched on Tivo a recent Actor's Studio with Laura Dern and her dad, and thought for dinnertime I would pull up Amazon Prime on the blue ray and see Silent Running, but they wanted $$ for that, so I browsed and found the 1929 not so classic Fritz Lang film Woman in the Moon. It gets of to a slow start and continues slow and steady from there. Excellent B&W camera work. This is one of the first serious rocket to the moon movies, and it was amusing how much tech stuff they got right, and how much they got totally wrong. Stuff which was well known back then.

Dinner was some re-heated Penang curry sauce on beef ravioli and mixed veggies. Much better than last night, after doubling the amount of curry paste. I'm usually a curry wimp, but Penang is relatively mild. Domino perched on my leg, expecting to be fed, and unusual for her, she didn't hop off when I offered her a piece which didn't smell like food to her. Had to push her off finally.

One nice thing about post-Kaan, is she is now doing a much more thorough job of grooming herself. She had let that go when Pumpkin died, and got dirty and matted. She's now the soft-furred thing of 15 years ago.

Plans for tomorrow:
Up at 7
On the road 8:30 or 9 at the latest
Morro Bay around noon - the tour is at 1, but will probably be late by 10-15 minutes.
Check into the hotel, they have evening cheese tastings, but I may be too late for that
Check out at noon, hang out at the coffee shop along the waterfront
Drive home late afternoon, shoot for 2-ish.
Plan B is to stay all day Monday and drive back Tuesday morning.
At the moment I don't have plans for NYE.
howeird: (Weird Dream)
I am in some foreign country, scheduled to take the train the next morning. At the same hotel are two older women (late 60s early 70s) who are also going to take that train. I don't know where the train goes, but I know it is a long ride and this is a crucial leg of my trip which I have been planning for ages. The three of us go down to the train station just to scope it out, and return to the hotel.

After we have gone back to our separate rooms, I start getting my stuff together and can't find my ticket. Panic. Call the ticket office and they are sold out for tomorrow's train so I buy one for the next day. Then I think maybe I don't need the actual ticket tomorrow. The next morning I wake up, look out my window and see the train at the station. After half a minute it pulls out. 

I open up my envelope with the travel paperwork. Sure enough there is a grid showing seating,  my name is on it, but there's a note below my name: "has been advised".  At the top of the page is a severe weather advisory. I guess I didn't need to have the ticket after all, but now it's too late. I'm going tomorrow, anyway. Looking at my passport because I can't remember when it expires. I kn ow my driver's license expires this year. Trying to find the page in the passport with the expiration date, but it is all a fading blur as I wake up.

All of which prompts me to pull out the fireproof box from the closet, and check. My passport is good through 2018. Whew.
howeird: (Train)

Whoever made up my room yesterday changed the radio alarm setting from OFF to ALARM, so I woke up at 8. Boo, Hiss. Turned it off and slept till 9. No towels, and I really needed a a shower or some reasonable facsimile thereof, so I put on my swim trunks and a shirt & tennies and went downstairs for a swim, figuring there were towels by the pool.

And was surprised twice:

1. It was raining (and kind of chilly)
2. There were no towels down there

So I hunted up a housekeeper and she found me a pair of still warm from the dryer bath towels. Went upstairs and had my shower. Did all my morning stuff, was happy to see I'd guessed well on the overnight insulin dose, and went downstairs to check out. There were three people ahead of me. I'd paid on check-in, so I thought "screw this" and just left my key card on the desk and left.

Walked across the street to the Waffle House, had a delicious apple waffle and iced tea, then walked to the light rail. Did not bother to buy a ticket because the Amtrak transfers I was given Saturday were still good.

Took the train to the station, had a seriously boring conversation with a Hugh Daniel sized 20-something fellow who sat facing me (light rail has a lot of benches where one faces front the other faces back) wearing a very often-washed blue Tshirt with a Superman S on it. It actually fit him. He had a small stack of clipboards with petitions on them. This was his 2nd job - he got paid for the number of legitimate registered voter signatures he was able to drum up. Today's issues were one to reverse a deal the Governator had made with local tribal casinos to allow them to partner with Las Vegas "businessmen". Another was against letting under-18 transvestite students from using the restrooms of their chosen gender. He didn't understand what the third one was about, "but nobody is signing that one anyway" he said. I told him I was a Seattle voter. One thing he said which I agreed with is "All you have to do to stay registered is vote every other year. How hard is it to vote, anyway?"

He got off at 16th Street, where there was a Pride event of some kind.

Apparently there was also a traditional chalk art on the sidewalks thing at another stop, but someone behind me said on a day like today it would have to be watercolor.

Finally got to the station, in plenty of time to grab the 12:10 instead of the 3:20 I had originally signed up for. With the Capitol Corridor trains one ticket fits all. Bought a diet Pepsi and a thing of chocolate covered donettes from the machine. Sacramento Station used to have a world class gift shop, but the place is a mess, all black plastic and signs saying it is being remodeled, but it has been that way for more than a year, and no signs of progress.

Sat down in the section marked for people who needed a ride to the Amtrak platform which is a mile from the station, with steep downhill and uphill stretches. Not something my knees want to do. Nobody came to get us. Finally I went out to where the shuttles were, and was not allowed on because some lady with a cane behind me was given priority. Driver said another cart would be by, but it never came. He got back and took me and one other person there, with about 5 minutes to spare. Not as good as it sounds because by then most of the good seats are taken.

Thanks to it being cloudy, the bad seats were not as bad as they usually are.

Not a bad ride, no screaming children. I was on the right, nobody sat next to me. On the left were three young couples who really needed to get a room. They were fun to watch, at least.

After an hour I went to the snack car and got a hot dog.

Got a glimpse of the old and new Oakland bridges side by side, but far away and I had the 35mm lens on the camera, so it will be tough to crop it to make it a picture. Did get some good shots of the new 49ers stadium under construction.

Arrived on time at San Jose, my car was still where I had parked it, and there were now many more empty spaces in the lot. Drove home, Kaan was poised by the door ready to run outside, but he was successfully repelled by the Safeway bag which I used for snacks and the stuff I wanted to have handy on the train.

I have been reading Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's) by Jodi Taylor ever since finishing Gerrold's Voyage of the Sea Wolf, which, by the way, was pretty good once it got out of "describe everything all at once in great detail" mode. Taylor's writing is pretty good, though it has been injected more and more with Britt slang as the story progresses, and it is obvious that the author has a clear image of each of the characters, but does not do a good job of sharing these with the readers. Ditto some of the internal politics.

I had tried M. Todd Gallowglass' The Dragon Bone Flute (A Novella of Music and Magic) for a bit, but put it aside when the hero, after several chapters, was addressed as "Elizabeth". This after a narrative which was clearly about a young boy. Especially the descriptions of how he was bullied by the bigger mean boys. Girls are simply not challenged by the bully to spend a night alone in the dragon's cave from which no one has ever returned. That's boy stuff. I got the book on my Kindle because Mr. G was on a couple of panels with me at Westercon, and he told some good stories there.

Also on my list from there was R. I. Partridge, but she has chosen to publish her stuff via her web page, which is not the way I want to read.

Dinner tonight was a relay. Bacon. Then KFC mashed potatoes and gravy, then some baked beans. And ice cream. All while watching Who Do You Think You Are? in which Cindy Crawford's lineage is traced straight back to Charlemagne.

The program is what made me try, but the more episodes I watch, the clearer it had become that the part is almost useless, it is the series of professional archivists and genealogists and historians whom the producers pay to archive dive and go on camera to educate the shill. In this case starting in Boston, then a couple of places in the UK and finally Germany.

Flipped all the calendars in the apartment, and opened the new ones (NFL cheerleader calendars start in September). 2013 Redskins went to the back wall where Seagalls had been pulled from. Sept-Oct are half-height, but it may make a comeback for Nov-Dec which are full pagers. 2014 Redskins went in its place. Jets came down, replaced by Tampa Bay. Dallas 2013 is staying up for now, because Ravens 2014 is even uglier as a calendar than Seagals. Still in transit are Colts and Saints.

[ profile] didjiman's panorama calendar owns the livingroom wall, September is a very artsy autumnal photo. My calendar in the kitchen is also kind of artsy.
Read more... )

Plans for tomorrow:
Work. No idea what I'm doing.
UPS, pick up a calendar and cat food
howeird: (Train)
Last morning in Morro Bay, the plan was to take Hwy 1 up the coast to Hwy 46, and there to 101 with a stop for lunch somewhere.

Checked out of the motel a little before 10, made one false start along the embarcadero, forgetting that Hwy 1 is not on the coast at that point. GPS found it for me. Hwy 46 was quite a ways up there, but I knew that, and it was the well-designed road I expected it to be. A much safer route than the shorter Hwy 41. Since it's a true 55 mph all the way, not riddled with curves like 41, Hwy 46 only took a little bit longer to get to 101.

Somewhere along 101 my left eye started feeling irritated. Maybe I got some sunscreen on there when I applied it at a viewpoint on 46. Maybe it was an eyelash. Either way, I pulled off at some little town, long enough to use the water bottle as an eyewash. It seemed to work, but after another few minutes of driving the eye was stinging again. I had broken my best driving sunglasses on the final whale trip, and had bought replacements at a boutique and at Rite Aid, one of them grey UV ones the other amber polarized ones, both aviator style. I switched them, and that seemed to help.

King City was a stop for gas, the trip meter hit 300 miles, but it took 9 gallons.33 mpg, not very good for highway. The guage did not show the tank that low, it was not even down to 1/4. The gas station shared a parking lot with Denny's, so I had lunch there, after pulling my bottle of artificial tears out of the luggage and giving both eyes a couple of doses. By the time lunch was done, my eyes were fine.

Back on the road, between Gilroy and Morgan hill I was fading, but just taking an exit and slowing down, and stopping at some stop lights was enough to cure the highway hypnosis. And boosting the air conditioning because it was around 90° out there. Odd, the weather in the central valley was cooler than Silicon valley today.

Home, both cats tried to escape outside. Kaan came back in when I yelled at him, Domino never made it out the door, she is not very fast.

Unpacked, and spent the afternoon and evening processing the photos, which are now in several sets on Flickr:
Mission San Juan Bautista:

VisionQuest: which includes one I think [ profile] lemmozine will like:

Mission San Miguel: and the photo I went for:

Morro Bay: (a short set, which includes a Coast Guard boat with a sailboat lashed alongside)

Whales (and sea lions and lots of birds): 

Hwy 46 viewpoint:

I also spent 25 minutes on chat with because their system would not let me return the Fire HD. Last night I got to the point where I could print out a UPS label, but I didn't have a printer. Tonight I had a printer but it wouldn't get me to that point, it kept referring me to support. The bozoid on the other end of the chat did not understand anything, and spent way too much time between responses. Finally got it done, and will send that puppy back tomorrow.

And it's only 10:15.

Plans for tomorrow:
UPS, return the Kindle Fire
howeird: (Train)
The usual stuff at work, nothing worth mentioning.
Except I continued to take Hgl readings every hour. At 11, diabetes doc called as planned, and we adjusted the morning dose upward and the evening dose downward. It is great to not have to carry insulin pens anymore, and not have to shoot up before meals, especially meals in public.

Lunch was at Togo's. I looked up the nut rition values, and it was something like 1100 calories for a #9 and clam chowder. Balanced that out with a diet cola.

After work first stop was Petco, bought 50# box of A&H clumping odor-fighting litter. 50# is heavy.

Next, to UPS, picked up the Kindle Fire and refused the Google Nexus. Traffic was horrible on El Camino, 1.5 miles took 15 minutes.

Then back to the Safeway next to Petco, because they are bigger than the one nearer home and I had some stuff on my list which the smaller store may not carry.

Got everything on my list, technically, but they did not have the big bottles of glucose tablets, only the 10-tablet pocket sized tubes. And those were behind the pharmacy window, go figure.

One of the items on my list was munchies for the trip, and since it was close to the entrance I checked out the gluten-free section and picked up a few munchie items which looked like they may be edible. Also got some bananas, wheat thins, cheese-its. They had two kinds of Dramamine, I got one of each. Also got some Tylenol to keep in the car, and upped my sunscreen to SPF 50 waterproof. Final thing was a 6-pack of diet Coke plastic bottles (because they have screw-on caps and are safer in the car than cans, and don't go flat as fast.)

Next stop: Rite Aid for a big bottle of glucose tablets, a neoprene sleeve for my knee, and a couple of dark chocolate PeterPaul mounds, which were half price.

Home by way of World Oil, which has similar prices to Costco without the 20-minute wait. Even though I had not filled up since returning from Atascadero, there was still 1/4 tank left.

One of the week's exercises was looking on Google Maps for ways to take I-5 instead of 101. I-5 is freeway all the way, 101 is not, especially going through and a bit past Salinas. There is one point where construction has moved the road so much my GPS thinks I'm lost. But it turns out that it takes more than an hour to get to and from I-5, so it adds about an hour to the trip, and in return I would be in hotter weather with not a lot of scenery.

So it's 101.

After I file this, I'll get on the map, maybe AAA's map, and look for places to stop along the way, because I have 6 hours to make a 3-hour trip.

Plans for tomorrow:
Drive. Vacate. Arrive at Travelodge Morro Bay after 3 pm.
howeird: (Default)
So to speak. Not that kind :-(

Lots of miscellaneous stuff got done at work. Toyota said they needed the actual original signed Reg17 so at lunchtime I went home and got it, and dropped it off at their business office for the DMV lady who was out to lunch. I emailed her and Customer Relations gal that I had done so, and when she was back from lunch DMV lady replied she would bring it in tomorrow. I really don't think this will happen, because she is a non-native (Arab) speaker and at the DMV she probably talked to a non-native (Mexican or Chinese) speaker and was told she could get the plates "if no one else has that name". Well, I have that name.

On my way back to work I stopped by BestBuy intending to buy a Nexus 7 and refuse delivery on the one their online people lied to me about. They told me on the 7th it had shipped and would be in my UPS box in 2 days. UPS tracking says they did not actually get it to them till the 13th, and if I see it by the 16th I'm lucky.

But looking at the Nexus, it is a lot bigger than I expected, and heavier. It may have only a 7" screen, but the bezel is another 1.5 inches or more. The Kindle Fire HD is on sale, so I fired up my Amazon app and ordered one. It should be in the UPS box Friday.

1-on-1 with the boss went well, he showed me his photos of the finished White Wat of Chiang Mai (he had seen mine from 2005 when it was just starting to take shape). And he had not seen my Morro Bay stuff, so I showed those to him. He was impressed by the breach photos and the flukes. And he said ok to my taking time off next week to do it again. So I put in for Mon-Tue. I have no commitments for the weekend, so the plan is to drive down on Saturday, and spend 3 nights, with trips on Sunday and Monday, though Sunday I may do a fishing charter or go to the Hearst Castle. I've never been there, but then again, it's a lot of walking.

Something of possible passing interest to [ profile] susandennis: A couple of days ago I saw a note on Logitech's site which said they heard all the moaning and groaning of the customers, and added a menu item to the UE radio which converts it into a Squeezebox. So tonight I took my UE off the eBay pile and applied the patch, and now it's in the bathroom synced to the bedroom radio. The kitchen & computer room boxes are synced to each other - but I could syn them all if I wanted. Something the UE won't allow.
I was at the bat cave Starbucks earlier, but their wi-fi was dead slow, and windows had 11 updates to install, so I came home and am using the laptop to wrote this. The update took no time at all with the 5GHz connection.

Domino is glaring at me. I moved the TV tray rack against the wall, and moved the floor fan from the bedroom to in front of it. Lately her two favorite places to hide and make more mats in her tummy fur have been the space behind the TV tray rack and the space between the legs of the floor fan and the bedroom wall. I set up a tray table in the bedroom and moved the table fan there, she may decide to hide under there, which is okay because it has a lot more space.

Left to do tonight:
Find a particular episode online from season 1 of Who Do You Think You Are?
Make hotel reservations for th weekend trip
howeird: (Default)
Sunday was a relaxathon, the cats were not amused when I finally kicked them off the patio so I could head for coffee with Janice. Starbucks has some new summer drinks, I tried a Valencia orange. A little sweet, and not as orangey as Tang, but okay.

Left there at 6, and exactly 3 hours later was checking into the motel in Morro Bay. I had not eaten since breakfast, and nothing was open in town but Dominos was still delivering. I got a large pizza, expecting to have half for dinner tonight.

However, at 2:30 am I was in he throes of a serious low blood sugar episode, did not want to get dressed to go out to the car to get my glucose tablets, so I finished two more pieces of pizza and put a couple of packets of sugar into the diet Coke.

Got up several times during the night, but managed to be asleep at 7 when the alarm went off.

Wifi in the Fireside Motel did not connect, so I'm doing this from a bakery/coffee shop across from the waterfront.

Anyhow, got showered and medicated and dressed, then headed for the waterfront expecting to get breakfast, but instead hung out on the  waterfront, and was awarded with the sight of two dolphins swimming across the harbor. Got a good photo of them, too.

It was very foggy, the rock was completely hidden. I did not have high hopes for the whale watching trip.

Got there at 8:45 as they asked, glad I made the reservation because there was a waiting list. People were late, though, and we were not out of the sock till 9:20. No whales in sight for about half an hour, and then only in the distance in the mist.

But that changed, we eventually were surrounded by a couple of pods, they seem to travel in threes. Humpback  whales. Also lots of seals doing their imitation of sharks & whales & dolphins. There were two breaches, one I caught on camera the other was behind the boat. Once a pair of whales came up about 5 feet from the boat, I got some good fluke photos. I'll have to Photoshop those, they need to be auto-contrasted to cut through the mist. Then they'll be on Flickr.

It was even more foggy by the end of the trip than it was at the beginning, so I canceled my standby for the 1 pm trip. Also, I was hungry and the Dramamine was wearing off.

I paid for 2 nights of motel because I didn't want to check out before getting back from the boat trip, but I'll be heading back north in an hour or so.
howeird: (Elvis)
Fitful night, Kaan was hogging the bed a bit - when I was on my left side he was curled up against my back right about the middle of the bed, and on my right side or back he fit into the curve of my arm. Had to push him farther to the other side a few times so there was room for me. Domino gave up on the bed early, and curled up in the tiny space in the corner of the bedroom between two legs of the standing fan. I don't understand her choice of parking spots at all.

Woke up for real at 6:25, early enough to hear the PC auto-start, which reminded me to disable that feature for my trip. Did my morning stuff, finished packing, thought at least 3 times I needed to grab some biz cards and my Orca card, and forgot those. It's always something.

Out before 8, there was no traffic at all on 101 to the Doubletree, and the valet thing only took a minute. I was the only one on the airport shuttle. Got my boarding pass at the kiosk, then upstairs to the very long TSA line. SJC's Security Theater is horribly designed - not nearly enough table before the scanner, and not enough runway after the scanner. They sent me through the old school archway, not the body scanner, so taking off my belt was wasted effort.

I was way early, and of course my flight was delayed.

All through the airport stuff i am sweating because I'm wearing a Seattle-weight jacket (no room for it in my carry-on). My gate is at the far left end of the terminal and all the food places are half a mile the other way. I buy water and a muffin for breakfast and cool off. There is a steady flow of eye candy.

Made the obligatory restroom visit, and in this brand new terminal it looks like they transferred the restroom from the old terminal. Disgustifying. :-(

Back to my gate, we are told it is a full flight, and late, and to speed things up those of us in the back of the plane who want to can take 2 flights of stairs to the ground, walk the length of the plane and up the ramp to the back door. This makes me angry because I stopped flying Alaska out of Seattle because they were in the old terminal, and you had to walk (usually in the rain) on the runway to the plane and climb the stairs to board. Now that they are in the new terminal they ought to drop that crap. I took the skyway, and was there ahead of most of my row.

Another WTF is after interminable calls for pre-boarding, people with small children, first class, million milers, gold members, passengers with pet iguanas and iguanas with pet fruit flies, they did not call us up by row, but all at once, and this is when I discovered that, contrary to instructions to "please to stay seated until your row is called" , everyone else was already in line. I was lucky, though, there was room to fit my day pack and my laptop (one atop the other) in the overhead bin. And the two others in the row were skinny. 6 people across in a space designed for 5. Or 4.

By now the Dramamine is kicking in, and I slept past the alleged snack packet, but was awake in time to just miss getting a good picture as we flew directly over Mt. Shasta, which has lost way too much of its snow pack.

I nodded off a couple of times, but mostly was just too sleepy to read, and stayed in my head. It was cloudy all across Oregon, just a glimpse of Crater Lake, Mt. Hood was poking up over the clouds, and so was the St. Helens crater, but Rainier was hiding.

And that's when the WTF began. I forgot that Alaska's usual approach to SeaTac is to go way north along Puget Sound and then do a U-turn just past  Scenic Harbor Island, and fly over downtown Seattle, landing to the south. This adds a good 15 minutes to the flight and maybe 100 miles. This time I was scared during that bit, we were way lower over downtown than usual, I could see people on the rooftop restaurants, and probably could have seen [ profile] susandennis on her balcony. And we got lower as we went south, I was afraid we were going to land at Boeing Field. It was scary. We landed at the far north end of a runway and I didn't recognize anything SeaTac-ish for about 5 minutes of taxi time.

Deplaning was a little slow at first, but picked up as it got closer to the back of the plane.

Next WTF was the rental car. Used to be the rental cars were in the garage a skybridge away, except for some which were a short shuttle across the street off-campus. Now they are all in this massive complex a mile away and one series of buses serves all of them. I was using Thrifty this time, and while the line was short the wait was long. Way too many things to initial. And then down to the 1st floor to get the car. I paid for a compact, they gave me a Kia Rio, which I'd call a subcompact. Not a problem until later.

Very hungry, I drove a couple of blocks to Dave's diner, had a good (but small) chicken fried steak. Then to I-5 to "drive around" the bottom of Puget Sound, across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, past Bremerton to Poulsbo. At Dave's I had programmed the Poulsbo Inn into the GPS, but it wanted me to take the ferry, so I shut it off until I was approaching Tacoma. It behaved itself from then on. This time of year it takes longer to wait for the ferry than to drive the "long" way.

Soon after getting on I-5 is when I realized there was no cruise control. The control I thought was cruise control was to change the trip mileage/odometer display. Very nasty, that. I will complain when I turn in the car.

They must have changed the law (or stopped enforcing it) which required 18-wheelers (and bigger) to stay in the two right lanes. I was in the 3rd lane, doing the speed limit, bigrigs kept tailgating me. I wasn't going fast enough for the 4th lane, and it was solid bigrigs in the two right lanes. Okay, there were some Urban Assault Vehicles too.

That fixed itself as soon as i was on hwy 16 heading for the bridge.

Started getting drowsy about 20 miles from Poulsbo, blame the Dramamine and early wake-up. Pulled over in Silverdale, but just navigating the roundabout there was enough to wake me up, so I got right back on Hwy 3 and then 305 and the GPS took me right to the motel.

Check-in was quick, faux rustic place with keycard entry. Very much a no-tell motel. It was sunny and warm, and they have a pool, but it was filled with a child and a mom, and I had not anticipated swimming here in the frozen North.

Texted my little sister that I was here, and she texted (after Verizon didn't put her phone call through) that she & hubby were heading out for pizza, and offered to pick me up. So that happened. we're having breakfast in the morning, but the more time with them the better.

Good pizza downtown in the scenic Scandinavian Village that is Poulsbo. After, we walked to the other side of the parking lot to the waterfront park and watched for wharf rats and chatted. Then they dropped me off at the motel, to return at 8:30 am.

Plans for tomorrow:
Breakfast with youngest sister & bro-in-law (it's her birthday!)
Visit with them at their new house on the hill with the bear in the forest that is their back yard
Be joined by oldest sister and bro-in-law visiting from Israel (her birthday is this weekend)
Do stuff, take photos
Back to the motel
howeird: (Train)
Work was frustrating today. My script relies on a 3rd party app and we ran out of licenses. :-(

Lunchtime was a result to my last dream last night. The dream: I was taking a few pieces of fried chicken out of the microwave. Really hungry, and this was the Cure. Then I woke up, and was totally disoriented because "where's my fried chicken?" So lunch was at KFC.

Was having some mild anxiety about flying. A brilliant post by ace pharmacist [ profile] hsifyppah a while ago cautioned against using expired drugs, so I went online and looked up the shelf life info for the generic Valiums I have left over from surgery a few years ago. 12/2008, to be precise. The expiry date on the label (scrawled by the pharmacy) was a year after issue, but online sources said 3 years and 5 years. So I looked up the manufacturer and found that these are so old that the company which made them was bought by an Israeli company and it is now made in the Czech Republic with different markings and a different color. So I'm not risking it. Dramamine is probably a better idea anyway.

Came straight home from work, parked myself on the patio and threw Kaan's security blanket, which the Humane Society gave me saying "it's HIS" but he hasn't used since, and put it on the floor by the wall. Domino eventually parked herself on the chair next to mine, Kaan sat on the blanket. They both did a lot of wandering around, while I read.

Last night I loaded up the Kindle, which was empty, with two of an Alan Dean Foster trilogy, one Margaret Atwood and Through A Scanner Darkly.  

Dinner was pot pie (beef). Have not had dessert. Need to slice the three bananas and freeze them before they rot. 

Packed. Everything except what needs to wait till morning, and even that is all staged for quick packing. Looks like rain and 10° colder than down here, so I'll wear my Sharks jacket. Maybe pack my lightweight Supersonics windbreaker. Found jeans which will not fall down when they make me take off my belt for no good reason. Found the plastic belt buckle and put it on a belt which fits, but had to widen the holes. Been wearing suspenders and loose-fitting pants lately, but that doesn't work in the TSA line.

My favorite park-and-fly went out of business, so I looked online and found that almost all the other places charge less anyway. The hotel of the two humping sheep will valet park my ride for < $10 a day, so I made reservations.

Pulled out my portable GPS and updated the firmware and maps. Took more than an hour. Now it is charging.

Plans for tomorrow:

Morning stuff
Last-minute packing
Park at Doubletree
Shuttle to SJC
Fly to SEA
Rental car to Poulsbo
Check into the Poulsbo Inn
Hang out
howeird: (Default)
I slept well last night, I think. But I was up before the alarm, and somewhen before I went to work I was online looking up Corolla inventory at Toyota of Sunnyvale's site. I had decided I did not like/want the Yaris. The ride was like it had no shocks at all, and the reason I didn't notice that on the test drive is I test drove the LE, which has a less "sporty" suspension that the SE I actually bought. And the hatchback space was almost non-existent, way too small for the music stand and the baritone to co-exist. And it almost felt like it would roll over when I came across some speed bumps.

One thing they emphasized when I bought the car is they have a no-questions-asked 3-day return policy, and a 7-day exchange policy. I doubted they get much action on that, but I was ready to test it.

And then when I found the Corolla inventory, there was a pop-up which said there was a $4500 discount on the Corollas. The prices on the web site were now about the same as for the Yaris.

So when I got to work, and it was reasonable to send a text, I sent one to Celine, my sales rep, telling her I wanted to do the swap, and could she please have Lee (her manager) and Ali (Finance Guy) let me know the pricing.

She replied that Lee was not in till noon. Fine.

At 3 she texted that the swap was all ready, and asked if I could come in right away. Yup, I could do that, nothing pressing at work. I had to stop off at home and drop off the music stand and get the second set of keys from the kitchen drawer. Also good I went home because the exercycle was in a box in front of the apartment.

Got there a little after 3:30 on account of long red lights and missing the entrance because people were parked in the red zones either side. It's a long pair of U-turns to recover.

So, Celine asked if I would like to pick one out, I showed her the two VIN numbers on the site which were in the color I wanted. She found the second one, and we drove to the gas station where she filled it up, then to the detailing center, where she dropped it off. Then back to the showroom, where she punched in the new info. Ali came by to tell me it would be a bit of a wait, but then Rebecca found me and went over the prices to get the nav system and backup camera I wanted, and the remote trunk release. Another lovely friendly person. The prices were about the same as doing it elsewhere, but the fact that they had that nav system in stock told me they would probably do a better job.

Finally Celine got the call to take me upstairs to Ali's office. I still had not been told how much I was going to owe on the exchange.

As Ali handed me form after form to sign, it became clear that not only didn't I owe them anything, they owed me. The Corolla comes with ding coverage which is not available on the Yaris, so that's a $500 value right there. All said and done, they will be sending me a check for $100.

Celine got tied up with a customer, so it was a 15-minute wait to get the car to the main parking area, and she needed to get the Yaris' keys because I had left the iPod and my water bottle in there (on purpose - didn't want to carry them around in the office).  And then she needed to get the Corolla book package. That gave me time to plug in the iPod and discover there was a covered slot for it. The stock radio shows the playlists and albums and such, it just doesn't show the album art. Nice unit for a standard feature. Also paired the phone to its bluetooth.

Finally got out of there at about 5:40, and back to work at 6:05. Just as Boss was leaving, so at least he saw I got back.

I don't love the Corolla's ride, but it is far better than the Yaris, and I do love the trunk space and the much more comfortable seats. The Yaris seats are black with navy trim, and it was 93° when I drove there, the aircon was not keeping up. Corolla has a beige interior, much brighter/cooler.  There are a couple of WTFs in the 2013 - they made the storage console between the front seats smaller, and 1-ply instead of 2-, and took away the power outlet which was in there. And the rear passenger head rests are too tall, I will be removing them. I also need to get blind spot mirrors,  but they never had those.

Enough already. Bottom line is Toyota of Sunnyvale not only lived up to their no-questions-asked return/exchange policy, they did it in a friendly, professional way with total "please the customer" attitude. I have scattered glowing reviews across the Interwebs, and will be sending Lee and Celine a Lovely Parting Gift™. 

Went to BASFA after writing the review, and retold the short version of my story there. I was unaware that [ profile] johnnyeponymous was unaware I played baritone horn.  mentioned on FB and will repeat here that it was great to see [ profile] johno and his lovely and talented Chris there - they have had some nasty medical surprises in the last few weeks, which have all apparently been resolved in a good way.

Boss approved my PTO for June to join up with my oldest and youngest sisters in Poulsbo. Oldest is coming from Israel. Booked flights this morning from work, spent some time after BASFA to book the rental car and lodgings. Younger sister's birthday is the 19th, older's is the 22nd, and I would have stayed for that, but it's Saturday and she's extremely Orthodox, so she'll be spending that at Temple and with people who share her superstitions.
Plans for tomorrow:
howeird: (localhost)
Good continental breakfast at the motel, apple turnovers and fresh bagel made up for no waffles.

I left in plenty of time for the whale watching tour, which is good because I misread the directions and walked all the way to the far side of the harbor where my last trip took off from, only to be told it was right in front of the street my motel is on (across a parking lot, but close). I still managed to be way early.

There was a full boat for the trip, lots of children and almost as many stupid parents. From the side the boat looked perfect, a huge catamaran. I parked myself aft where there was both a hard seat and something to lean against. Most everyone else went to the front of the boat.

The whole harbor was socked in with fog, so we took off very slowly. The captain managed to run over a green channel marker while we were navigating past a red buoy with a lot of seals hanging out on it. The one we ran over was only about 3' tall, the red one about 6 '.

We saw a whale about 100 yards away after 45 minutes, sort of in the mist. We followed that one for a long time then lost it. Captain headed for port but on the way back we saw another. I think it was the same one which I saw last time, which hangs out in  channel close to shore.

Between being far away and having people popping up in front of me, and the captain trying to keep th whale in front of us instead of alongside, I don't think I got any  calendar-quality shots. It's the wrong time of year, anyway.

Back to the motel to drop off my day pack (I had brought along a jacket, which was never needed), then caught the shuttle (50 cents, used to be 10) to the pier, and then walked toward where Yelp said there was a good nail place. Google maps made it look like it was 4 blocks away, but it was more like 10. TLC Nails is a bare bones setup with four nail stations and a section off to the side which looks like a pedicure area, but without the foot baths. I ask the manager for an acrylic with gel top. "We don't do acrylic here. would you like just gel?" Sure. Not as long lasting but my nails are a mess. She finds a manicurist, who sees my nails and convinces me i am in the wrong salon, so I leave.

Okay, 2nd nail place is way up the main drag, I take the shuttle. Another 12 blocks. The address is 1221. It is an empty store front with a for lease sign. I cross the street to read the notice on the door, maybe they have moved. Well, someone has moved, but not the nails place. Yelp is way out of date on this one.

By now I am starving, there is a Thai place called Galanga, I have their house duck, which is delicious, but hereticly served with a knife because they did not cut the duck pieces small enough. Had a nice chat with the bus boy, whose English is not a good as my Thai. :-)  He said my accent is like a Thai person's. Yay!

3rd nails place is 6 blocks away, past the end of the shuttle line, and is only open for another hour, so I took the shuttle back to the pier, and hung out in the shade of a palm tree while sitting on the little wall by the bike/jogging/walking/pedal car trail. Lots of eye candy on this warm, sunny day at the beach. I took some pictured but mostly just enjoyed the view.

walked slowly back to the motel, posted some photos on FB for my sister (one of the yachts in the harbor had her name on it:
behind the cut )
It is not a common name...

I wanted to get it online early enough Baltimore time for her to see it, but later found out she was in Pennsylvania looking for apple pie and ice cream. This is her first mother's day as a grandmother, I kind of expected her to be with her daughter in law.

Grabbed the Kindle, left the camera, headed up the block for a highly recommended place called The Brewhouse. The map said 2 blocks, th legs said 6. Beef Stroganoff was superb, but I didn't realize when they listed mashed potatoes, it was a side, but it turned out to be what they poured the Stroganoff on top of. Yummy, but I should have ordered the risotto.

Dessert was amusing. The menu said the peanut butter cream pie was rated a top 10 dessert by the LA Times. It was different, and very yummy.

Service was super-slow, I was out on the patio (my choice) where they let people light up cigarettes despite the no smoking signs and laws. :-(

Waddled back to the motel, washed my face and saw the SPF4 which I had applied this morning did not work. My face is very red but my arms have a nice deep tan.

Plans for tomorrow:
Try to find the place I had my nails done 3 years ago.
Coast Starlight to SJC leaves SBA at 12:40 pm
howeird: (Train)
The trip on Amtrak to Santa Barbara was on time or early at every stop, but somehow it felt longer then the last three times, which weren't. I guess when you have seen the same scenery so many times, there isn't much left to hold your interest. One thing which surprised me is there is a huge hangar at Edwards AFB which has what may be the world's largest American flag painted on the side. Last time I passed by it had a NASA logo, no it sports a SpaceX insignia. weird that an allegedly commercial endeavor is given a building at government facility.

There were way too many small children on the train, but they didn't cry or scream, and mostly kept close to parental units.

I brought plenty of snacks, only made one run to the snack bar for a soda. I had a bulkhead seat, no tray, so I stayed in the lounge car until I was done. Should have also picked up a bottle of water. There was a water dispenser near my seat, but no cups. :-(

Oh wait, I know why it was boring. This is National Train Day, but there was almost nothing on board or at any of the stations. The first year, there were exhibits and live music at SLO and gifts for kids at SBA, but this year nothing at SBA (in the morning there was a free ride on one of the short spurs, but that ended by noon) and at SLO there was a lemonade stand, hidden in a corner.

It was a long slog from the train to the motel with a backpack and a carry bag with leftover snacks and my jacket, in the hot sun. The street which i usually take which cuts a couple of blocks off the trip is all dug up at State Street so I had to go the long way. Several jerks riding bikes on the sidewalk despite clearly marked bike lanes. Lots of smokers here too.

without the baggage and after it cooled down some, it was an easy enough walk back to State Street for dinner. There is a place on the corner with the. Perfect. Location, and it was almost empty. On a Saturday night! The prices are somewhat elevated, but reasonable for the location. I had th grilled salmon hollandaise with steamed spinach, and it was great. So was the house salad  and the coffee ice cream sundae. $38 after tax.

Plans for tomorrow:
10 am whale watching cruise
Wing it, staying overnight, returning Monday

Way Behind

Feb. 3rd, 2013 07:53 pm
howeird: (Default)
Well, the superbowl is not going at all well, so I thought I'd catch up on almost a week of lost journaling.

Last real entry was on the train Monday. Skip to Tuesday. They kept saying they were running late, but when we got to Sacramento we were more than half an hour early. The sun wasn't up yet. I stayed on the train, very sleepy. The rest of the stops we were early, but we got delayed somewhere south of Oakland, and managed to just make it on time into San Jose, about 10 am.

Home, feeling poorly, but managed to pet the cats, top off their water, unpack, shower & take drugs and get to work around noon.

There was a lot to do at work, but nothing worth writing about. They had a town hall meeting way too early, so I caught the replay. It was a pretty good update on the Arris acquisition, they gave a lot more actual information than we got when Google was buying us.

Can't remember lunch or anything except going home to very affectionate cats.

Wednesday my cold was still hanging on, work kept my mind off it for the most part, I had some bug fixes to verify and some automation to work on. Home, faked some soup for dinner from Chinese BBQ pork and a couple of frozen won tons. Bed, woke up often. Kaan mostly stayed on the foot of the bed.

Thursday I was able to wrap up an automation script which was just waiting on a bug fix. They fixed the bug and it was easy from there. Starbucks for lunch, I think. The one near the furniture store, not one of the usual ones. There was a Brigadoon rehearsal, I was feeling just well enough to go - not contagious, just a stuffed nose and a mild fever. This was a run-through of what they had done so far, and I had not been blocked in 3/4 of it yet. We did my solo, and I was very displeased that he has me take center stage for it, which doesn't match the lyrics. He has not made allowances for non-dancers, so I've had to make allowances for myself. It looks like we will keep rehearsing to the boom box, which sucks big time. Music rehearsals don't start till the 11th, which is bass akward. Normally you learn the music first.

The good news is there are lots of pretty women, and many of them hang around me a lot, since I am the candy maker. The bad news is the director has all of us onstage all the time, pretty much. It's one way to do the show, but I think it detracts from the leads.

There is a dance number which is annoying me a bit. We have a very tall ballerina of Amazonian proportions (except she has both breasts - big ones), who is beautiful, graceful and a joy to watch. The character she is dancing with is a foot shorter than her, has a significant paunch, and it just looks wrong. He has no dancing training other than country dance.

We're supposed to go at 9, he kept us till 10:30 to block the end of the dance (lots of ensemble stuff, some of which I can't do, I need to talk to him about that).

Home, crashed

Friday was not feeling much better, but not worse. Work was again busy and I was able to wrap up yet another automation project which was waiting for a bug fix. Can't remember what I did for lunch, but I know I didn't go with the gang because they went too early [again]. After work I went to Office Max and looked for something to ship the Boskone art show photos in. I found something perfect, except it was way expensive. The 10-pack of 12x18 envelopes comes in a box which was the right size, but it was $25. On my way out I found their cardboard boxes, and got one which was 18x18x12, and went home with that. Of course it was too small for 12x18 photos.

Faked some soup dinner, and went to bed way too late after making the bid sheets and control sheet for the art show. She sent us non-writable pdfs, there is no way I am writing by hand, so it was a lot of copy and cut and paste work. At least I had the titles on a spreadsheet already.

Woke up at 1:30 pm. The cold was worse. I got up and dressed and was headed for Office Max to spend that $25, but the  garbage needed taking out, and lo and behold in the cardboard recycle area was the box from an ASUS video display which was pretty darned close to perfect, and free. So I took that inside, packed things up, weighed it, went online and printed UPS shipping and return labels, taped it up and blacked out all the bar codes that were not UPS, and took it down to the UPS store. Got that done in time to be an hour early to meet Janice at Starbucks, where I was going to start this tome but Facebook distracted me.

Janice was just back from 2 weeks in NJ as a Red Cross volunteer working with hurricane Sandy victims, and was pretty tired, so she had me fill her in on Conflikt, and we'll talk about her adventures next week.

Earlier in the day while things were falling out of the freezer compartment at me, I saw I had raw chicken thighs and drumsticks in there, so on my way home I stopped at Safeway and picked up the chicken soup makings I didn't have - which was really only green peas and gizzards (but they didn't have any of those). Decided to add corn, and buy a couple of fresh parsnips because the one in the freezer isn't fresh and was kind of small. I also bought a pizza and cream puffs for Superbowl Sunday, and some frozen dinners.

Home, hauled out the huge cauldron and filled it with chicken soup makings. This is basically my mom's recipe, but a little more generic. She used Manischewitz mixes:

and added a chopped onion and celery and sliced carrots. I buy the barley, beans, and split peas in bulk, and I start off with a gallon of chicken stock, and add chopped garlic, bay leaf, salt, ground pepper. Mom cooked it the usual way, I make it crock style - low heat overnight so to meat comes off the bones and the bones are soft.

So that was my 1 am snack.

I is here

Jan. 24th, 2013 11:27 pm
howeird: (Weird Load)
After being 45 minutes late getting to San Jose, the Coast Starlight floored it and got to Oakland on time. They kept all the stops very short, even when we were on time, and made it to Seattle at 8:30 - about 10 minutes early. Last week they ranged from a n hour late to 45 minutes early.

Seattle rain. But I repeat myself.

when we got on the train, those of us in the sleeper cars were offered a chance for a late dinner in the dining car but when I saw that half of the people on their way were screaming-age children, I kept going and bought  hot dog and a soda in the lounge car.

My bed was already made up, but for 2 people, with the bunk bed down. No tip for the attendant, who was nowhere to be seen, so I figured out the mechanism and pushed the bunk out of the way myself.

I was very tired, it had been a busy and frustrating day at work (I was on loan to a corporate department) but I got done by 4:30 and left early. Home, finished packing, spent some time with the cats. Got to Amtrak an hour early, plenty of parking, there was a greeter in the waiting area who chatted with all the Coast Starlight customers, but never bothered to call the train status line, so she didn't know the train would be very late until I told her. FAIL.

Mostly uneventful trip. Fitful sleep, but I got a lot of it eventually. I slept right through Dunsmuir and woke up at Klamath Falls at 7:40 am. It was not quite sunrise.

Got out the camera, fired up its GPS, and took a couple of shots just to mark the spot. The trip through the forests was not the winter wonderland it usually is this time of year. There was lots of snow on the ground, but none on the trees.  One of the delights of this ride in the 70s was it goes through places people couldn't go, and the only tracks in the snow were animal tracks. Now there are people tracks and snowmobile tracks all over the place . :-(

In fact, at one point in Umpquah National Forest, there was a snowmobile trail with a fancy milepost/map marker.

Not many pictures, it was very overcast, and then there was extreme fog.  

Breakfast was interesting. They impose 4-to-a-table seating in the dining car, and my table mates were a mother (60s) and her daughter (40s) and a skinny 30-ish man with many cheap tattoos, including bands across his knuckles. The man hardly said anything, and when he did it was too soft for me to hear. The daughter, however, had quite the tale to tell.

She had taken a cruise to Haiti to go zip-lining. It was for charity, she said. Everything was fine until she got on the plane in Miami to go home to Oregon, but suddenly she couldn't breathe. They took her off the plane, called an ambulance. She had a collapsed lung. Elven days in the hospital, somewhere in there her mom flew out to be with her. Bottom line is she can no longer take a plane. So she & mom got on the train. what caused the collapsed lung? 30 years of smoking. They said it was the pot more than the tobacco. So from no on it's nicotine patches and brownies.

Lunch the forgot to call the 1:30 reservations, I was late so  I was seated by myself. Yay! Obnoxious waitress, tried to tell me what to order.

Dinner was in the parlor car, I expected to be by myself, but they paired me with a librarian from Phoenix on her way to a big librarian convention in Seattle. Congenial but boring.

When I got out of the Kind Street Station I turned toward [ profile] susandennis's condo and waved, but I'm not sure she still has a view of where I was standing, thanks to a huge building going up in between.

walked through the cold and dripping atmosphere up and around to the Link light rail, tapped my Orca card and went down the stairs just in time to see the train pull away. Good thing I had my Seahawks stadium jacket and gloves.

Arrived at the hotel at about 10, walked halfway around th building before discovering it was the service entrance, then hunted for the reception desk which was well hidden. The signs point in its general direction, but stopped pointing 20 feet too soon.

Fining my room was also a crock. The directions from the desk were to go past the bar and turn right. She forgot to say to then turn left, and look for the elevator. And that my room was on th 2nd floor. The signage did not help either.

Got to the room finally, it is lovely and large, but no fridge. There's a cabinet for one but nothing is inside it.

Unpacked, changed shirts, went back to the lobby to use the free wi-fi (it costs $$ in the room) but ran into many of the usual suspects, some of them locals, and chatted first.

And no to bed, before I fall out of the chair.

Plans for tomorrow:

Sleep in
Lobby, see who is around. Consume mass quantities.
Con officially starts at 6 or thereabouts

3 tired

Jan. 23rd, 2013 01:10 am
howeird: (Train)
More than 2 tired.
Slept very little last night. Insomnia till after 3 am. What saved me from falling over at work is three separate projects cropped up at the same time, busy busy.

I haven't written anything about Sunday. It was a busy day with 2 blood pressure raising football games. The Cinderella teams won, which is Right. I like both teams, and while I would enjoy seeing my home team win, I'm perfectly happy to see the other team's city get trashed. Baltimore has a reputation for burning down significant sections of the city after national championships. Lately that's mostly been U MD.

At about 3 pm or so I started making Kourabiethes (Greek shortbread cookies) for the Brigadoon potluck, from the original recipe. They came out much better than last time, but I still overdid the flour a little bit.

The potluck was okay, there were a lot of salads which did not appear edible to me, but there was also a variety of appetizers. The cookies went over well until they cooled off and stuck together. I'd made about 3 dozen, I took home about 15. 12 seconds in the microwave and they separated out fine.

The potluck started a little after 6, and at 6:30, WAY too early, the costumer brought out a relic from Renn Faire who proceeded to entertain us with what he claimed to be the way an authentic Scotsman puts on a kilt. I sure hope they don't do our costumes the way he showed us - basically 15 yards of cloth folded into about 50 pleats and then belted. This may have been the way the warriors who lived in mud huts dressed, but it's not what the audience expects, and is entirely unworkable on stage.

This left very little time for introductions, but those are mostly useless to me, I forget names. Easier for me to read the cast list and look up faces online.

Read-through started at close to 8, thanks to a lot of bureaucratic nonsense which would have been better handled through email. They brought a boom box instead of an accompanist, so we had to sing over the voices in whatever not very good recording they had picked. At 9 it was time to stop, we had not made much of a dent in the show.

So we're not off to a brilliant start, but I've been in much, much worse. This cast is very friendly, there are many hot women, some remarkable voices and the music is very pretty.

The woman sitting to my left when we did the read-thru was a bit of a disconnect for me. She's ethnically Korean, but she has a gorgeous soprano voice, and no accent. The no-accent didn't surprise me, I know several Korean-Americans who speak American, but I don't think any of them sing unless they are drunk. Korean karaoke is not pretty.

I did learn one name, a drop-dead gorgeous woman in her 30s. Personal trainer/Pilates instructor. I looked her up on the cast list then on Facebook, and she appears to be married, darn it. I hate when that happens.

So that was Sunday.

I wrote about Monday  already

The rest of today was busy. Lunchtime I dropped the slides off at Costco to be scanned, the last 300 from my Thailand Peace Corps days. Then home, picked up the phone I'd bought on eBay which should have been here a week ago, and a very heavy box which had a big bag of cat food. This food is star-shaped, the same food in the smaller bags is pellet-shaped. WTF?

After work I took the eBay phone to Verizon and had them transfer my service to it. It downloaded my stuff from Google while I drove to Amtrak, got my tickets and a parking pass for tomorrow, and was pleased to see about 10 empty spaces in the parking lot.

Home, spent a lot of time updating the phone to the latest system & Android releases, and then grabbing the applications I like to have and setting them up.

That done, I packed as much as I can for the trip. Will add meds and toiletries in the morning. Cat food towers are topped off, will do their water in the morning. Litterboxes are clean. Took out some garbage. Chose which camera gear I'm taking.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work will be busy
Probably will go home for a short time before heading for the train station. Probably leave here at 7:15 to get there early enough to not have to rush.
howeird: (How Elephant)
Long day at work. Lunchtime I went to Costco to pick up the 3rd set of scanned slides. There were 508, not 500. I thought I had counted everything twice. Six of the extras were in box #9, so chalk it up to starting to go blind. Many many crappy photos, a lot of them due to having been developed in 100° temps in rural Thailand. I had to tape a lot of them back into their paper holders - the adhesive had dissolved. Still, there were some good ones. I'll put a few behind a cut.

I wanted to do some shopping, but the lines were too long. All I was really after was celery hearts. And maybe chocolates.

Back at work, I was trying to write a script to test a new I/O card, based one one which was already working for an old I/O card. But with more efficient code. I couldn't get past the first step. Turns out the card which was in the test machine I'd borrowed was faulty. While one of the other testers was trying to figure it out with me, we both got a lesson on something entirely different (new piece of monitoring equipment) from the seniorest tester.

Home, the only thing in the mailbox worth the 1-block walk through the bitter cold was Boskone's progress report, which has the schedule and my name's even in it as an artist. Had the slides not arrived today, this evening would have included making labels for the photos I'll be mailing them. Tomorrow, then.
Okay, you have waited long enough. Some ancient Thailand photos from batch #3:
here )
Plans for tomorrow:
Starbucks or McDonalds
howeird: (Default)
Not much to say. Had the buffet brunch at the Silver Legacy, was only able to finish most of one plateful. Should have started with desserts.

Walked to Amtrak, waited for an hour, then joined the line across the street where the bus stops. Two buses pull up, a rent-a-bus and an official Amtrak bus. They cram us all into the rent-a-bus saying it is an express to Sac. I try to talk the big guy out of sitting next to me, but shitforbrains decides to suffer. Idiot. I didn't make it easy for him, I was already pissed that the bus overhead was too small for my knapsack, and there was noplace to put my water bottle.

It was an express, which defeated the purpose of the scenic ride, but it got us to SAC just in time to run for the earlier Capitol Corridor train. I made it, bu had to sit in a seat that faced backwards. I don't get these cars where they can't be bothered to flip the seats when they change direction.

Got to SJ around 5:30, I think. On time, probably.

My car was still in the lot, the ticket was made out yesterday, for $35. I sent them a check and a note asking for my $8 back.

Amtrak needs more parking space. I'll email them suggesting they work a deal with the city's lot.

Home, Domino didn't yell at me until after I gave her her usual nightly treats. Stupid animal.

Watched some football. Had stuffing & gravy for dinner, & celery stalks. Egg nog for dessert.

Checked my calendars to be mailed, corrected one old address to new, and added someone who had fallen off the list when she moved.

Plans for tomorrow:
Team meeting at 9
Hand out calendars
PO, mail calendars
BASFA, maybe. I won't auction calendars. I may give a couple to people who have bid on them in the past.

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