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Saturday proved that sleeping in and lazing around in a bookstore when not feeling up to something more strenuous might be a very good idea. I had fun, but I worked hard for it.

This was the last weekend, and I didn't have to work. I looked over my list of "things to do" (See redwoods. See Alcatraz. More shopping. Get chocolate truffles from The Fudge House to bring home. Hunt for books all over town.), then at the weather forecast and decided that I didn't want to climb up and down hillsides in the rain promised for Sunday.

Read more... )

And this is exactly the right time to be talking about one specific book:

Jane Huber: 60 Hikes within 60 miles - San Francisco )
lyorn: (eliphas)
Bad dreams again, just before waking. Not really bad, I'm still unsure that it even makes the cut into the bad-dream category, or stays in the vaguely-unpleasant one, but I awoke disturbed and was greatly relieved when I had sorted out realities. It was about an invasion of tiny, blood-sucking insects, which, if you didn't crush them in time, would suck your blood faster than you could crush them. My bad dreams do not share a common theme, storyline, or set of images. They just share the badness. I'm also having quite a lot of them in the last months. Maybe my subconscious tells me that I should write more stories before those creative juices ferment into something unhealthy.

Breakfast was at nine. I awoke at eight, had a shower, read a little, looked out of the window, then went down into the breakfast room and posed a difficult problem for the staff by asking for tea. After five minutes of shuffling around in the kitchen, they found a tea bag. With the tea I had buttered scones with raisins and cinnamon, some mixed fruit juice I couldn't identify, and apple slices. As it was too early for breakfast anyway, that was more than enough.

Read more... )

All in all, a very nice trip, and I'm very happy that I managed to have a whole weekend for it. I regret those rainy "stay in my room and read" weekends and those "too tired to raise my head before 2pm" Saturdays just as much as I knew I would when I had them, but with a toothache to drain my energy and books to forget about the toothache, I don't think that I could have done better.

Two weeks left.
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(Well, technically it's still the West coast, as the land is east and the sea is west, but it's the Californian coast north of the Golden Gate. If any of you feels qualified to tell me the correct usage, please do so.)

Anyway.

Let's just say I managed to get into gear sufficiently early, packed my (Tiassa's) camera, my sunglasses, a lot of CDs and something to read, threw my toothbrush and a change of clothes into a shopping bag (Using a shopping bag as a suitcase make me feel as if I looked like a tramp, but it's a cool shopping bag, and wrapping everything in a towel wouldn't have looked that much better), and headed off north just barely before noon.

Read more... )
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I sneaked off work at a quarter to six today, which practically makes it early afternoon. That's the third time this week that I have got off work in daylight, which is less due to early DST and more to the fact that we got a whole big chunk of work finished on Monday.

Read more... )

I'd really like to write something on books again, but if I do not go to bed now, tomorrow morning I won't be awake enough to make it to my caffeine pills. Oh, and the runny nose I was worrying about a week ago wasn't a cold coming up. Whatever it was, it's nearly gone now. Good.
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So far two of you have asked me if there isn't any danger from the current wildfire where I am. In short, no.

Longer version: You have been to Italy? Or have an idea about Italy? Anyway, get a map. Best get a map that shows not only Italy, but Austria and Switzerland, and a little of Germany to help you get a feel for the distances involved. Now imagine you are in Milan. Or Venice. On a nice, warm day in late Spring or early Summer. And you read in the newspaper that there's a fire near Naples. Assuming you know no one in Naples, how worried would you be? That's how worried I am.

Really. San Francisco is not only about 650 km from the Anaheim Hills, where the fire is. It is pretty much in a different climate. (Which is why I chose Italy as an example. Gives you a better idea of the weather involved.)

Some more info from the local newspaper here.
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Not today's news, but a bunch of small things, mostly picked up from the local newspaper which I get delivered to my door daily and read for, eh, cultural immersion, the "Mutts" cartoon and the "Dear Abby" letters. Some of the stories I pick up I would rant about over tea or on the phone if I were home, as I'm not, I'll rant here.

Read more... )

In other, non-newspaper news, my nose has finally connected to my brain and let me know that the red-blooming red-berried trees I occasionally park the car under are eucalyptus trees. Which explains the absence of birds.

About me: I hope I have hay fever. I fear I am getting a cold. Today I wanted to go hiking, but daylight saving time and general tiredness made it impossible: When my alarm rang, I felt like a zombie in lead armour. So I slept on until 1 pm and had nightmares. Most of them turned out to be not true in waking, which was fine, but I'd like to complain about the cat abuse. Nightmares I can deal with, but I draw a line at mistreating cats.
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Saturday I had to work, shop for groceries and wash my hair. All that was done at half past two, which didn't leave time to go hiking, but enough to go into town and see a show. I had planned on seeing the "One Man Star Wars Trilogy" at the Post Street Theatre, but I didn't feel up to comedy, not even Star Wars comedy, and the Berkeley Opera showed an adaptation of Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio", so I decided on the latter.

Read more... )
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Being up and awake early was unexpected and fortunate, the weather was fine if a little warm, and I stood in front of my wardrobe and felt that I had nothing to wear. No shoes, to be exact. My hiking boots were too muddy to wear in town (if not as muddy as they had been, I had walked off most of the mud), and shoes-for-office were no good for extended walks. Digging a little among empty boxes and paper bags, I found a pair of sneakers I had brought for the unlikely case that I felt like going to the gym, and decided that those were exactly what I needed. Don't laugh. Good shoes are important.

Read more... )
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Friday evening I finally got home around ten, found the fridge empty (I had planned to buy groceries after work, but my favourite shop closes at 9), and a single can of soup left in the kitchen cupboard. I had the soup, and a cup of strong black tea, fell into bed and slept for thirteen hours straight.

Which put me in the enjoyable position to be awake, up and about at noon on a Saturday, with six hours of daylight left. I dawdled a little, read the newspaper articles about Thursday's earthquake, tidied up the room some, packed the camera, maps and drinking water and finally got on the road around the time I usually wake up.

Read more... )

(Maybe I should make a tag for this type of entry?)

ETA: Done.

Earthquake

Mar. 2nd, 2007 01:22 pm
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Yesterday evening there was an earthquake barely ten kilometres away, and I missed it, because I was driving at the time :-/
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Of course, the weather didn't hold. Saturday was grey and threatening rain, so, after a phone call from Tiassa at 9 am I just went back to bed and slept for another four hours, went shopping for groceries and ended up in the bookstore. There's a hardcover I did not want to buy, so I thought I could read it while drinking coffee, and put it back afterwards, and if I accidentally spilled coffee on it and had to buy it... well, that'd just be my subconsciousness telling me something, wasn't it?
Read more... )
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It's cold again, but sunny. Some trees, probably cherries, are covered in white and pale pink blossoms. The willow trees have a slight pale green shine to them, and some trees which I cannot name bloom dark red among last year's dark red berries, which occasionally leave sticky red splats on my white rental car. The trees in the mall parking lot are crowded by noisy birds again. I hope the weather holds two more days.

Of course, in the office, I neither see, nor hear, nor smell anything of that. The windows are darkened, and two rows away, the computers are humming, people are talking everywhere in at least three different language or yell into their cell phones because reception is bad, and some folks are having lunch in front of their computers and I don't know what it is they are eating, but I know I wouldn't try it. It smells like wet socks and cabbage. Lunch in the cafeteria wasn't much better, it pretended to be fish and chips, but the fish was like the dreaded Schnitzel at the university cafeteria: bread crust surrounding nothing, known as PNP. Only, in this case, it was stale bread. Stale sweetish bread tasting vaguely of fish. Yikes.

Sometimes, when I get out of office in the evening, after dark, the noise from the freeway is deafening. It's everywhere, you barely notice it, until you pay attention and suddenly think your ears are about to fall off. On the way back to the hotel, there is a place where the freeway noise, channeled and twisted by the houses, sounds like wind-blown trombones or pipes. There are no windows that open, neither in the office nor at the hotel, which I guess shouldn't matter much, you wouldn't want to open them anyway because of the noise and the exhaust fumes, but even with the exhaust fumes the air smells of spring and cold and damp and the day's sun and flowers. Before going to bed I put a "later, please" sign out for the room service, who would otherwise wake me at half past eight and the outside air (the door opens to an outside) is like something you want inside, now. Sigh.
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My week and weekend were not especially interesting, which is a shame. Well, the week was interesting, work-wise, for a given value of "interesting" Read more ramblings... )

Go to the links )

BTW, is anyone else getting spam that claims to be an invoice from IKEA?

Big ship!

Feb. 4th, 2007 11:53 pm
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Saturday I didn't manage to get out of bed before noon (again), so I went for the traditional pastime of hanging out in bookstores. No coffee this time, though, because there was a long line in front of the coffee counter, and no free table.

I was a little angry about my overall laziness, and refraind from making plans for Sunday.

Which was probably the reason why I jumped out of bed on Sunday not early, but bright-eyed, chirpy and ready for adventure. The local newspaper had announced that on February 4th the Queen Mary 2, largest ocean liner in the world (there are larger cruise ships, because cruise ships need not be built to withstand everything that might happen in the North Atlantic: Giant waves, icebergs, sea monsters, you name it) would dock in San Francisco. However, I had thrown away the newspaper without taking note of the time this was supposed to happen, so I just packed some things, including Tiassa's camera (as you might remember, I had some trouble with it three weeks ago, but the film, I discovered, had rewound alright, if missing a few pictures), a reserve film, and something to read, and got myself on the next BART train into the city.
Read more... )
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Gemeingefährliche Pappkameraden in Boston! (Linked post is in English).

[livejournal.com profile] slammerkinbabe is amazed at the technology gap (via [livejournal.com profile] metaquotes)

ETA: The local (Bay Area) newspaper re-printed mostly from a Boston paper, but ran a short note of their own, where the writer wondered how Bostonians, who routinely run red lights or drive on sidewalks could be that easy to scare, and conluded that it must be some local history trauma of having their town besieged, once upon a time, by armed Redcoats (instead of stoned hippies).
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... as you are probably tired of hearing me whine.

I slept for 10 hours straight, and then for one more because I could, and was still up early, for a Saturday. So I planned on taking the train to San Francisco, maybe spend the day in the library, or go explore some places I hadn't seen yet. But, reading the newspaper, I found out that several anti-war demonstrations were to be held in the city, and I didn't feel like getting into any fray in a foreign country, however much I agreed with the principle of the thing.

I went to Oakland instead, this time not to T___ (I thought about it, but I had just stored the computer away and was too lazy to get it out again to look up her phone number), but to Jack London Square to have coffee while watching the ships, visit the bookstore, get postcards and see if I found anything nice.

Outside, it was raining, and the air was hazy and grey. The unusual light made everything seem a lot more familiar. The hills were dark grey-green shades in the grey air. After the train had passed the hills, the rain stopped and the grey became a little lighter. The train was packed with people, many carrying cardboard anti-war signs. I got off the train at 12th Street, which is the closest BART station to Jack London Square. From there it's a 12-block walk, maybe ten minutes. Many streets had Chinese signs in addition to the English ones. There wasn't much traffic, and with the strange light of the sun behind a thin layer of clouds it just stopped short of the effect you might see in a zombie movie before the horde of rampant undead appears: "Say, isn't it a little quiet here? Where is everyone?" Of the few people on the street, most were beggars, and most shops were empty or closed. The area where T___ lives is a lot more alive. I passed under the Interstate, and then saw something truly amazing: A full-sized double-decker passenger train, pulled by a smoking, hooting diesel locomotive crossed the street. Words have a hard time conveying the strangeness of this, as most of you will have seen railroad crossings, even if they are getting rare in Germany. What made it amazing was that this didn't look like a railroad crossing, not at all. And when I came closer I saw that the train had been driving in the middle of the road, like a streetcar. But it was a full-sized train. I still smelled the diesel exhaust.

Jack London Square was as empty as the streets had been, or more so, for it lacked beggars. Everything was wide and open. You couldn't see over the Bay, because an island (Alameda?) is between the Oakland marina/harbour and the Bay. The Bay Bridge was barely visible through the haze. I walked around some, watched the boats, and the seagulls, and a young man throwing kelp-covered stones into the dirty brown water. The only shops other than the bookstore and some feeding places were two ethnic shops and a kayak rental. I browsed some of the ethnic stuff, but nothing gave me a good reason to buy it, so I only got postcards. The bookstore didn't seem as large as the ones I visit regularly and was less welcoming. So I spent a little more time with looking at the marina, enjoying the strange light, and more hooting trains driving in the middle of a street, and then I walked back to the BART station. The street hadn't become any more lively.

On the other side of the hills it was still raining, and as I was wearing my good shoes, my socks were soaked before I reached my car. I stuffed the socks under the passenger seat before I stopped at a local bookstore, got some books and a map, but no coffee -- I felt completely awake already, and had wet feet. Instead I got a large pizza at the pizza place next door and drove back. I didn't even forget the socks under the seat. It's amazing what I'm capable of when I'm not tired.

And since then, I've been drinking tea, doing laundry, and spending too much time online.
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And broken for, what is worst, no good reason. No reason at all.

Friday )
Saturday )
Sunday )
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How cool is that? A real-life red-grey bushy-tailed coyote, jogging out of the underbrush, half crossing the road, stopping, looking at my car, looking some more, and then going along on its business.

I had decided that, it being January and rather cold (freezing at night and in the mid-40s in the daytime) tarantula season had to be over and I finally could drive to Mount Diablo, which is overlooking the whole place, a single mountain surrounded by low hills. It was a sparkly clear day with frost on the grass when I left the hotel. My hiking guide recommended three routes on the mountain, however, one was beyond my ability, the next was recommended after rains, so that one could see waterfalls (and it hadn't rained yet), so I went for the simplest one and just drove through the main entrance and uphill for a long time: an enjoyable drive, and not really hard. (I still wouldn't want to drive in Tenerife!) I stopped twice to admire the view and the cool clear air, and take some pictures. Unfortunately, Tiassa's camera went weird on me, so I have to lock myself in the bathroom and check by touch if the film's OK, or get someone in a photo shop to look at it.

Mount Diablo is close to 1200 m high, and on the top it was pleasantly chilly, the temperature where you have to get moving now, but once you do it's very nice. I followed the Fire trail, which leads around the summit. My book said that there would be signs along the way to tell you about this and that, but there weren't. I passed a large rock on which a bunch of young folks were clowning about. While it still holds true that I've never seen a hill I didn't want to climb, I judged the rock well beyond my current capabilities (and isn't that immensely frustrating?) and didn't attempt it.

The view was incredible, even though the air was not entirely clear -- it was good-weather-air, where the horizon dissolves into contrastless blue. Yet, you could see the Golden Gate Bridge, and Sacramento, and snow-capped mountains far away.

After completing the trail, I walked up to the summit, bought some postcards, admired the view some more and walked back down to the car.

And on the way back down, I saw a coyote.
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This (Friday) evening I went to visit Snow's sister, T___, to give her some presents from her family, get the stuff I had stored at her place, talk some and pet the cat. The place where she lives is quite hilly, so what I feared from the moment I took a first good look at my latest rental car, a Chevrolet, happened: I had to use the parking brake.

Now, parking brakes. In my own car, this is a big lever between driver's seat and passenger seat, which is pulled and released with the right hand. That is how things should be, in my opinion. In the Audi, it was a button near to the driver's right knee, which had an "engage" and a "release" position. In the Ford, it was a pedal down left plus a lever slightly above it. You engaged with your left foot and released it with your left hand. I had seen that before in an old Mercedes, so, fine.

The Chevrolet had the pedal, but not the release lever. Optimistic as ever, I assumed that when the time came, I would find it. The "time" ought to have been the moment I wanted to drive away again. Which happened after a nice evening, only, what didn't happen was a sudden appearance of the release lever. I tried everything I could think of, then went back to T___ for help. She thought the whole thing very funny and was convinced that it had to be real easy and I was overlooking the obvious. (That's what I thought, too.) With the help of a flashlight we checked every square inch of the car within the driver's reach: Nichts, nada, nothing. The handbrake was engaged to be married, it seemed. And of course no manual turned up, either. I should make it a habit to ask for the user manual when getting a rental car and not leaving without one.

Finally we were really cold (it was freezing outside, in what is considered the coldest week in 40 years in this area) and decided that this was no use, and as it was a rental car from a big company, even close to midnight they must be some kind of customer service. T____ did the phone calls, much to my relief.

The first customer service guy we had on the line did speak worse English than I, but connected us to the next guy, and after about half an hour waiting in some line, we finally got someone with a clue and some answers. So I could drive off and wonder if these chinese-trick-box-like designs were done because the designers felt their lives lacked secret doors and secret codes, or if it just was a collateral annoyance because someone had decided that having another lever in the cockpit would spoil the aesthetic impression.

And in case you wondered: How to release the parking brake in a new Chevrolet
1. Step on the brake.
2. Now step on the parking brake
3. Release parking brake.

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