Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Non Sequitur

Two things.

First, I finished Charles Stross' latest book The Rhesus Chart yesterday on my way home.  I have to say that it was a fun read, but not up to the rest of the stories from the Laundry Files.  It feels a bit like Stross was lining things up for a future story.

It's kind of like the Bill Cosby album "When I Was a Kid" and he tells the story of him and Weird Harold coming home from the monster movies and trampling a wino in fear.  Then he says, "I told you that story to tell you this one." and goes on to tell about the time he got trampled by Fat Albert after trying to scare him with a Frankenstein's monster statue.

I still enjoyed the book, but I am really hoping for an amazing next one.


Second, have you heard about Endura Cool by Mission Athletecare?  Because this stuff is amazing.

Jennifer and I came across a commercial for the towel one day while watching non-network TV.  The Dish Hopper doesn't automatically skip on non-network, non-prime time shows, and we get complacent sometimes and forget.  So we catch the occasional commercial, and this one intrigued us.

I was done with the long project in Lodi, but I knew I'd be going back out into the field, and summer is here.  All I had to do was go to a Lowe's.

I happened to be going back to Lodi for a brief visit, and knew where a Lowe's was, so I stopped in.

I ended up buying two items: the towel and the multi-cool.  I use the multi-cool as a turtleneck every time I ride home now because of the whole 20 degree difference between Walnut Creek and Emeryville, and how hot the BART trains get in the sun.  I use the towel both when I first get into the office and home.  I wet it, wring it, and snap it, and then just drape it over my shoulders.

The multi-cool keeps me cooler while I'm riding, and the towel accelerates my cool down when I'm done riding.

Last week I was in San Rafael, and I used the multi-cool under on my head under my helmet with the tail hanging down my neck and tucked into my shirt.  It was a wonderful cooling feeling.

I cannot recommend this family of products enough.  I think they should be included in first aid kits for cooling heat stressed individuals.  I also wager that they would be great for helping cool someone with a fever.

But then remember, I'm a geologist, not a doctor... Jim.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Quest of the Past

This starts strange, but bear with me.

So, I was in the men's room...

And I look in the stall next to me, and I see turquoise Converse high tops next to me.

I was immediately sent back in time to my senior year of high school.  I'm not remembering when exactly in the year it was, but I'm thinking it was near the beginning of the basketball season.

One of the more spirited members of the band was putting together the Rally Band.  When asked what a Rally Band was, he would say that it's like a pep band, but because "rally" rhymes with "valley" then the Ygnacio Valley Rally Band sound better.

Now our colors were turquoise and gold, and so it was decided that the uniform of the Rally Band would be yellow t-shirts with appropriate school-spirited designs, combined with jeans and turquoise suspenders and matching Converse high tops.

And so began the quest.

I remember a group of us canvassing Sun Valley Mall and the surrounding stores, looking for these shoes for everyone.  Unfortunately they were in short supply, and few of us ever got our hands on a pair.


Saturday Jennifer and I spent the day at Pedalfest at Jack London Square, and we had an amazing time.

The festival used the new(ish) indoor farmers market building for free bike valet, so we rode over and then dropped our bikes off knowing they would be safe.

Then we went around gathering up free stickers and stuff.

There were lots of local bike shops present, but also biking accessories and bike supporting groups.

Jennifer made a bracelet at the Oakland Public Library booth out of an old inner tube, a snap, and a bicycle stamp.

We both signed up at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's booth for Spare the Air alerts and got free bike lights.

We're also supporting Measure BB for Alameda County for the spreading of bike lanes like the green strip up 40th Street in Oakland, as well as funding to BART for their new cars for better bike parking on the train.

Jennifer got some saddle bags for her bike, and I got a new t-shirt.

And we got these little guys for our bikes from Raven Bike Registry.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Site Visitor

This week, I've been in San Rafael helping out getting the site characterized for the remediation scheduled for later this year.

Yesterday while I was sitting watching a well be destroyed, I saw something hit my knee.  I was about to brush it off, thinking it was debris being blown around, but I looked closer and saw that it was a ladybug.

I got my phone out and managed to get three pictures of it before it flew away.  The first shot focused more on my pants, so the bug is blurry, and the second I thought it was going to fly away, so it's not very composed.  But the third is almost perfect.  Once again, digital pictures allow for some amazing shots that I never would have taken with a film camera.

I encourage you to right-click on this one and open it in a new tab to see it full size.

Birthday Weekend

My birthday celebration began Friday night with a small group of friends hitting the tiki bars of the Oakland area.

We started at the Conga Lounge in Rockridge.  It had good drinks and a pretty good atmosphere, but was kind of small.

Then we went to the Kona Club in Piedmont.  This one had lots of room, and really nice decorations, but the place was pretty empty and the music was not fitting for the decor.

And then Baby Bear got to Forbidden Island.  It's always good at Forbidden Island, but you just have to be ready for the crowd.  Still I got to watch three Virgin Sacrifices be served, and the whole place ended up smelling like cinnamon from the effect.

Saturday, Jennifer and I did some painting, working our way around the downstairs.  We have one and a half walls to go.

Sunday, Jennifer took me to the Terrace Room for brunch overlooking Lake Merritt.  This place is gorgeous.  It has an amazing mural inside of the buildings around the Lake from almost 100 years ago.  The food and service were excellent, and afterwards, we sat in the sitting room finishing our mimosas and listening to a jazz trio.

Then we did a few laps around the lake, and rode home.  And once we got home, Jennifer made me cake with gourmet cocoa powder we had bought a couple months ago at Pier 39 for just such and occasion.  She use cake flour and made both the chocolate icing and the butter cream decoration frosting herself.

We're still eating on it, but it'll probably be gone tonight.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

We Are Complete

It has been said on Facebook by one of us, and on the Master's blog, but on Saturday our GURPS group completed a 13 year long epic campaign.

It wasn't long after I returned to California from school that I was brought in on the creation of a new gaming world.  We met a couple times in Napa at a friend's house, and I was shown the huge sketch of the Eurasian-like continent they had drawn out.  Lines of national demarcation had been drawn, and some names had been created, but not yet all, and so we divided the world among ourselves.

NSM started with four countries as well as the history of the world, our photographer also got four as well a forest, our programmer claimed one, and the old school mate got two.  I was given two countries, as well as a group of islands off the north east coast of the continent.

The general feel of the countries had been discussed: the remnant of an empire, the rival neighbors, the desert nation, the northern pillagers, the home of movie-like monsters, and some less trope-based nations.  And the islands became an Elven nation.  Further negotiation gave me a range of mountains and the largest expanse of forest, and soon I was in charge of all the Elves in our world.

NSM had been destroying the old fantasy world provided by Steve Jackson Games, and so we decided when we would begin our new world.  Using the magic of the Internet, and free groups, we had our first adventure in early 2001, and NSM posted a summary of the game.

After a few months of hit and miss scheduling, we made a commitment to the group that the first Saturday (soon to become the second Saturday) of every month would be game day.  And aside from major events, we maintained this routine.

The party evolved from a semi-amnesiac Elf, a woodsman, a music teacher, a low knight, a thug, a voodoo woman, a monk, and a fencing rogue into a tightly knit party of near demi-gods.  The tropes remained, but they became integral to the characters and the plot.

The game evolved with the internet, and we tended to continue the game via email between our face-to-face sessions.

Now, as we wind down the last adventure preparing for the final epilogue, we can look back on what we co-created and I think we can be very proud of it.  And even with those who are no longer taking part, we share a bond that goes back that far.

And now, we have new characters to grow.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Emo Post

Sometimes there are things that happen that affect you deeply, and are completely out of your control.

When a friend gets a new job and they slip away from you, it feels like all you can do is grasp at the emptiness where they were in an attempt to catch them or bring them back.  It;s even harder when you were encouraging them during the interview process and rooting for them to get the job.

But at the same time you realize that their life is theirs, and nothing you can do will force them to come back into your life.  All you can do let them know that you will always be their friend, and hope that once everything settles down some of the good times you had will come again.

This may seem like a strange thing to write about, but it's just another small way that I'm trying to let this friend know that I continue to support them and look forward to any opportunity to see them again.

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