Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Today has been mostly mundane.

Until just a few minutes ago, right outside my window.

The turkeys of Walnut Creek.

En Route

Yesterday morning was normal.  Cold, but normal.

Then around midday the winds started.  They were 20 to 30 mph with gusts 40 to 50 mph.  I could see the trees outside my office blowing and hear all of the debris hitting the building.  After a phone call, I was convinced it would be better if I walked rather than rode my bike home.

As I got to Walnut Creek BART, there were people everywhere outside the station.  Apparently, broken tree branches had blocked the tracks on the yellow line (Pittsburg/Baypoint <=> Daly City) between Concord and Pleasant Hill and somewhere south of San Francisco.  So they were only running trains that were between the two cut-offs.  But we had to wait.  Then they announced a train was on its way from Lafayette.  It arrived but on the opposite platform.  I and a few others ran and got on the nearly empty train, and then waited while it waited for everyone else on the opposite platform to come over.  At least I got a seat.  By the time I made it home it had taken closet to two hours.

Then this morning I had to take Emery-Go-Round back to BART, and that turned out to be a mess because since today is an almost holiday, they started the buses an hour later than usual.

I'll be working through lunch to catch up on my time today.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Advent: Day 22

So, Sunday when I was coming home from visiting mom in the hospital, there was a series of crunches from my right bike pedal.  I looked it over, and found the bearings had given out or fallen out.  Fortunately, the pedal still worked, and was just a little loose.

So, last night when I got home (I rode my other bike to work), Jennifer and I rode to Blue Heron Bikes in Berkeley.  We had found them while riding on the Ohlone Greenway under the Richmond BART line.  Not only did they trade out the pedals, but they also traded out my toe cages at no extra cost.  I was impressed with the guy who worked on my bike, because I had tried to unscrew the pedal and just had no success.  They have some beautiful bikes there too.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Advent: Day 21

Sunday, I spent with mom and dad at Kaiser.  Mom had a rough Friday and Saturday, and spent them in the hospital.  She's still there today (Monday), but we're hoping that she'll get to go home today.  She was tired, and dad and I took turns feeding her.  It wasn't that she was that weak, she just only had one good hand to use, because her left was covered in monitors and tubes.  But news was looking better for her, and when I left, dad was still asleep on the couch int he room, and mom was getting vitamins and probably going back to napping.

When I got home, Jennifer had gone domestic on me again, and was in the midst of baking bread, and preparing sausages and mashed potatoes for our Winter Solstice dinner.  Half of which I have leftover for lunch today.

Advent: Day 20

Saturday was a good day overall.  Jennifer and I went into the city to look at Christmas trees, and experience the season with people.  If you have not yet been to the AstroTurf covered Winter Walk, then I highly recommend it.  And be sure to be there in both the day and the night, because the free form benches light up at night and add a pretty note to the walk.

And since you'll be nearby, go to the Sutter Pub.  Boddington's, as well as others, on tap, and some really great food.

Advent: Day 19

Friday.  A day to look forward to the weekend.  And also one to see that Christmas is closing in just that fast.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Advent: Day 18

Let's just say that my review went very well, and I'm looking forward to the new year and growing opportunities at my company.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Advent: Day 17

Yesterday was an interesting day.  We had a low grade version of what at ETIC we used to call a "client fire drill".

Basically, a client PM had a presentation coming up today, and she needed us to fill in the facts on her presentation.  We had a quick conference call, and hashed out who as doing what.  An then we got it back to her in a couple hours, all set to go.

It was so much easier than some of the rush work we would have at ETIC.  At least this one had an understandable purpose.  The ETIC client work always seemed like arbitrary budget re-analysis.

But now, all is well, and I can relax and look forward to my annual review later today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Pain of Waiting

So, yesterday on BART, I finished the third book in Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards series.

The first book is quickly engaging and they were all books that I would rather have read than done anything else.

What I did notice was the subtle work Lynch had put into creating a culture that mostly treated men and women equally including same sex relations.

However, now that I'm done, I have to wait for the next books to come out.

So let's look at the series I'm in the middle of:

  • Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden chronicles
  • George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire
  • Charles Stross' Laundry Files
  • Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series
  • Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archives
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld

First off, I'll admit that it's a great dilemma to be in, because many other series have ended.

  • Kim Harrison's Tales from the Hollows
  • Jim Butcher's Codex Alera
  • Robert Jordan's (with the help of Brandon Sanderson) The Wheel of Time
  • Frank Herbert's Stories of Dune
  • Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide of the Galaxy
  • Fred Saberhagen's Books of Swords
  • Larry Niven's Ringworld (so it would seem)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winner, Winner, Football Dinner

So, on Cyber Monday I entered a drawing on Mission Athletecare for a chance to win a football signed by Reggie Bush.

Sometime last week (I think), I got an email saying I had won.  I really didn't think anything about it because, you know, it was an email, and I didn't know if it was real.

It was.

I'll just say that Jennifer is very happy.  She is almost as speechless as when I proposed to her.

Advent: Day 16

Crowded?  Perhaps, but it's going to look so good when it's done.

Advent: Day 15

This weekend, Jennifer said that the advent tree was getting crowded.  There's still 10 ornaments to go...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Advent: Day 14

And so Sunday.

Today was a day to be out and enjoying the weather while we could be fore the return of rain.

We enjoyed ourselves at Bay Street in Emeryville, and rode all around town.

Advent: Day 13

Not much to report for the day.  Saturday was pretty quiet.

But we did go to see "Big Hero 6" which I thought was was a lot of fun.  I think a this of the fun was seeing what parts of San Francisco they had Japanified.  I vaguely recognized some of landmarks from Tokyo.  But I liked the story, and the animation.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Advent: Day 12

And so, we're halfway through decorating the advent tree.

I'm certainly looking forward to a beautiful dry weekend before the rain returns.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Morning Thoughts

A few things on my mind as I rode to BART this morning:

  • I was amazed in one residential section where all of the cracks in the road had sprouted grass or moss, and hen lit up by my headlamp were that new growth bright green contrasted with the black of wet asphalt.

  • I also had the fun of occasionally seeing my breath in the cone of light from my headlamp.

  • Walking to work (via public transportation) is a very different workout.  This morning my thighs are a little tender, and I actually feel like I have shin-splints.  They're probably from the boots I wore yesterday.

Advent: Day 11

And so the storm has mostly passed, and we're all still here.

It was interesting to watch what happened with it.  It started in the North Bay and hovered there for the night, and then the beginning of the morning it moved through the East Bay.  Winds were high all across the north state, but the terrible rain and winds didn't linger for us.

Instead it moved down tot eh south bay.  I watched the radar most of the day, and the cell of yellow, orange, and red just hovered over Monterrey Bay throwing the occasional pseudopod up towards us.  It was still there last night when I went to bed, and now this morning it's moved all the way down to LA.

You all have fun with that.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent: Day 10

So, for any who are curious, I did not ride my bike to day although I did go into work.  The winds were blowing at 33 mph when I woke up, and forecast to be anywhere from 30 to 50 mph for the day.  Rain I can handle, but gusty winds are too much.  Also, I'm glad I'm not up in the mountains; apparently they've measured winds up to 135 mph in the Sierra this morning.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Advent: Day 9

So yesterday I was back at work.  I'm tending to get up a lot and walk, just to keep my back moving. Riding my bike is fine, and laying down is fine both on my back or on my side.  It's just sitting that bothers me.

I'm just glad there were no helicopters last night.

So, Monday there was a protest march in Berkeley that went down to Interstate 80 at University.  I knew something was up because there was a helicopter hovering over that way.  Then three more moved in like something out of Vietnam.  Those were likely from television.  That happened when the protesters blocked the freeway.  And they kept circling and hovering around Emeryville until after the 11:00 news slots.  Then they went away finally.

The police helicopter did not.  They were tracking people or groups until the wee hours of the night. And of course it was a night where we wanted our window open.  It got pretty loud sometimes.  Jennifer said there were times the searchlight on the helicopter passed over the window.

At least last night it was quiet in our area.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Advent: Day 8

Jennifer asked me this morning when she put her decoration up, "Why did you do all candles?"  I told that's just the way I like to do it.  But now it's all free style.  There is one more candle, but it's a different style.

Advent: Day 7

And one more day down.  I'm thinking that tomorrow I will be close enough to normal that I will go back to work, but today, I'm keeping it calm, and staying on the couch or the bad.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Advent: Day 6

And Sunday too.  Although I did get a little pop of release and I can sit for a while.

If things aren't better in the morning, I'll be going to a doctor.

Advent: Day 5

So, it's not been an easy weekend.  Friday I developed a stiffness in my back.  It didn't seem too bad, but by the evening it was uncomfortable to sit.  Fortunately, laying on my side was easy enough, so I slept.  But when I woke up Saturday morning I could barely stand up straight.

So I ended up spending most of Saturday in bed.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Advent: Day 4

Aside from free-form, advent Tree decorating, Jennifer also breaks the "we put the latest ornament on before bedtime."

Yesterday, I had forgotten to take a picture of the tree, so I asked her to email me a picture.

Today's came unsolicited about 5 minutes ago...

Also, in my opinion (one which was occasionally debated based on some real tree ornaments) the wreath is upside down.

But we all know the first rule of life club: You do not argue with redheads.

Advent: Day 3

In the following photo, you might notice a pattern emerging.

When I was growing up, there were strict rules for decorating our 3D tree.  (I'd call it real, but it was artificial.  It looked awesome though.)

We used to use colored lights for the bottom two-thirds of the tree and then white lights on top.  In the white light area went birds, angels, and the like.  Over time the inside would get filled up first with plain balls and then the more special ornaments went up on the outside.  Finally, the icicles would go on either as tinsel or the glass ones we first bought in Maryland.

I tend to follow that rule when I do my tree.

I do; Jennifer does not.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Advent: Day 2

So Jennifer made her first addition yesterday:

Now, I'm planning on bouncing to the other side for my next piece.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Advent: Day 1

So this is the first addition to the tree.  I'm sure that one piece at a time will seem subtle, but the fun will be to see the growth and change.

This year the progression will be a collaborative effort as Jennifer has said that she wants to add pieces as well.  She's going to decorate on even nights, and I'll decorate on odd nights.  Then on Christmas Eve we'll put the last piece on together.

Monday, December 01, 2014

A New Series (for me at least)

So through another io9 recommendation, I'm reading the Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch.

This weekend, I finished the first book The Lies of Locke Lamora, and it's pretty amazing.  The world is deep, the characters are full, and the revenge just keeps coming.

I have to say, I really like the maps too.

They're books that I'd love to see turned into movies.  The first book has so much visual to it that I'd love to see it.  And the second book Red Seas Under Red Skies has a perfect sequel opening.

Advent: Day 0

One of the oldest parts of Christmas to me is my Advent Tree.  There are twenty-four ornaments that get pinned onto this, one every night saving the star on top for Christmas Eve.

It's seems very simple, but it's different every year.  First I would point to where I wanted the puffy, sequinned piece pinned.  And eventually I was old enough to pin them on myself.  I think my only regret is that I don't have a picture of the past forty-five variations.

So this year, I'm going to take a picture every day to show the countdown to Christmas.

Lots of Photos Before Christmas

So, it's been an interesting time lately.  I've been spending Wednesdays evenings with my parents helping out while mom is in chemo.  Of course that didn't happen this last week as I had a cold that started Sunday night, and I couldn't risk giving it to mom.

So Thanksgiving was quiet as I dealt with congestion and a sinus headache from the bouncing barometer.  Jennifer and I made an early morning run to storage to get our containers of Christmas decorations.

And that stack is over 6 feet tall.  We meant to take a picture for scale, but forgot.  The six boxes on the bottom are 64-liter Really Useful Boxes.  They're amazingly sturdy.  I remmeber seeing a photo once of a Mini Cooper sitting on top of four RUBs.  [I found a video]

So anyway, they're really great.  We're considering converting all of our storage boxes to them.  Plus there's the added bonus of being able to see what's inside if you get the clear ones.

So we like angels.  The one on the left is the tree topper,a dn was the first we bought as a married couple.  We got the little one next to it later because it matched so well.  Then we just started accumulating angels.  They end up scattered throughout the flat surface decorations.

And here is the finished tree.  

The following are the flat surfaces that got decorated with different colors and lighted garlands.

Obviously next to the tree.

Behind the couch.

The corner of the entryway.

Out in the hallway by the front door.

On the way into home proper.

And our bookshelves.

And the final photo is of Oscar and Felix who while they were very upset during the decorating phase, they do like curling up under the tree.

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