I’ve been here, sort of

One of my buddies point blank asked me why I hadn’t been blogging. Errrr . . . I don’t have a headline excuse, just a million little cheesey ones. There have been little things I wanted to blog about, but never got around to.

Here’s a random sampling:

Kaylie and Riley (and their parents) came up for their first visit to the Bay Area: About time, long overdue! My niece is 9 and my nephew is 5. They came up for Kaylie’s gymnastics meet. We took one day to cram in a tour of San Francisco: a cable car ride, the Cable Car museum, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, Chinatown, Golden Gate Bridge and Beach Chalet. The kids were such troopers: we walked them so much, and they never complained, although we did give them little piggy back rides in the afternoon. We had to save the Academy of Sciences, Angel Island, and their future alma mater, UC Berkeley for next time. I also learnt that I should have gotten a night-light.

Actually, the most memorable part of their visit was taking them to dinner at a Japanese restaurant in downtown Mountain View, and then taking the light rail home. Joe and I timed it such that we would hang out in the bookstores a bit, and then have time to walk sedately to the light rail station. However, they discovered the gleeful joy of tearing down the Castro Street sidewalk and stepping on every single manhole cover (i.e. water, gas, etc). We ended up getting to the station 9 minutes before the train was due to leave. “How much longer before the train starts?” asks Riley. “3 minutes,” I said. Another two minutes goes by. “How much longer before the train starts?” asks Riley again, after we’ve played several rounds of patty-cake. “3 minutes.” “That’s what you said 5 minutes ago.” Ah, kids . . .

‘Bugs on Broadway’ at the Symphony: Last Friday, Joe and I went to the SF Symphony. Once every couple of years, they have this show as part of the Summer Pops, where they show Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons onscreen, and the orchestra plays in accompaniment. (The last time they had this on was when Chris and Tom got married. We wanted to go, but couldn’t, because it was the same night at their rehearsal dinner, or wedding reception. “I want to go,” said Tom, only to be given a ‘look’ by Chris, hah hah!)

It actually wasn’t that good of a show, the orchestra didn’t really play in accompaniment much, except to the familiar credits theme song. And the pieces they do play as part of the cartoon are the more obscure pieces of classical music. Apparently it’s like a little franchised show done by these two guys, who are going to retire this ‘Bugs on Broadway’ edition (milked it enough) and start a new version called “Bugs at the Symphony” or something like that.

Oh blessed nature: We really didn’t plant too much this summer in the garden. And the tomatoes are not doing well, one or two got hit by rust. But the spring broccoli are still going. I cut down most of the artichokes, but one still popped up.
We got a whole bunch of volunteers from the compost heap that is buried in one corner of the garden, where I also planted some rasberrry canes. There’s a mystery squash/winter melon we don’t recognize; three tomato plants, a fava bean and some other bean. I took out all the sunchoke sproutlings. At the rate we’re going, most of the stuff will really bloom when we go on our August vacation.

The pitfalls of the excesses of success. The most stressful part of work was organizing a half-day conference. It was the first time we’d done this. “What if no one shows up?” We looked at each other, during event planning. Manager takes a deep breath. “If at least 15 people RSVP, we won’t cancel.”

Turns out we needn’t have worried. Because (1) it was free, (2) half-day, so people didn’t feel bad about taking a whole day off from work, (3) Oakland is centrally located within the Bay Area and very-transit-accessible. We were oversubscribed. We actually had to ask the fire department how to calculate the exact maximum capacity for the conference room. The stress for me was maintaining the waiting list and RSVP list. We had people wanting to come from Merced, Santa Rosa, Sacramento and Monterey. I really, really hate having to say no to people. But the event itself turned out really well.

Car sponge bath: California is the midst of a drought, overshadowed by our budget issues. We don’t have a lawn, and we don’t really wash our cars much. But one day my car got sprayed by bird poop while parked at the BART station. Literally polka-dotted. I had to do something about it. I decided to sponge bath the car. Basically, you fill a bucket with water, take some rags, wet, wipe, and then rinse rag in the bucket of water. I was so cheap’n’lazy I didn’t even use soap, because that would require ‘rinsing’ wipes. No hosing. But I did change the bucket of water a few times, when it got really, really, scary dark.

I got this idea from the private car chauffeurs in Bangkok when I was growing up. They usually keep a rag, a bucket and a long feather duster, with a bungee cord in the trunk of their car. While they’re waiting for their bosses at some 2 hour lunch meeting, the chauffeur will dust the car, and/or get some water to sponge-bath the car while they’re waiting.


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