Saturday, December 25, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas from Buenos Aires. Alicia and I arrived a little after 10:00 this morning. We stepped off the plan lugging our winter coats and sweaters. We knew it was going to be warm, but not this warm. The high had to be pushing 100F today. Wow!

We kept a low profile today. We walked around the city a bit, and discovered Freddo for some ice cream. We scouted restaurants for tonight and tomorrow night.

But mostly we were just using today to adjust to the 5 hour timezone difference. We ended tonight with a pleasant meal overlooking Dique 3 at Puerto Cristal.

Tomorrow we're taking a tour of the city with a friend of a friend of a friend. Tomorrow should be interesting. We're looking forward to the day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree

In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, Alicia and I rarely get around to putting up a Christmas tree. We tend to visit our families over Christmas, so we live vicariously through their trees.

We mean well. We've gathered Christmas ornaments from all around the world. But our ambitious plans to put up the tree usually fall short.

So a few years ago we bought an artificial tree. Not exactly the stuff that memories are made of, but better than nothing.

Even so, years went by before we actually used it. But last year we did it!

It was fun putting up the ornaments, but we were still gone so much of December that we didn't get much chance to enjoy it. And the effort to enjoyment ratio was skewed the wrong way.

Last night we were at Rite Aid and we saw the perfect tree. We'd seen the same tree earlier in the week in Skymall on our flight back from LAX. But unlike Skymall, Rite Aid had the tree for $4.99.

Whereas our artificial tree leaves me feeling a little empty (it doesn't smell right... actually it doesn't smell at all... certainly not like Christmas), the new tree gives me a wonderful nostalgic boost. It reminds me of Christmas in my childhood.

Yes, we're now the proud owners of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

I love it! The price was right. The "some assembly required" took all of five minutes. And its sad, droopy, little twigs are delightful.

Putting it away will be a breeze. And there's no needles to clean up!

Merry Christmas, everyone! And may your holidays make you feel as warm and nostalgic as our tree has  made me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Up In The Air

I'm no Ryan Bingham (nor Clooney for that matter), but my jetlag lifestyle (err I mean "jetset") does resemble Up in the Air at times.

For the last couple years, I've had an on-going project tucked away in a dresser drawer. It chronicles through key cards the hotels I've stayed in.

To fully appreciate what the key cards represent, bear in mind that my hotel stays are typically 4 - 5 days and I only collect one key per check in.

Some notable key cards... 
  • Row 1, Column 7: Whoops. Didn't mean to include the key card from VMware Munich, but scanning these in took too long the first time. I'm not doing it a second time. :-p
  • Row 7, Column 3: A floating hotel... Spain > Italy > Greece > Turkey > Egypt > Malta > Spain.
  • Row 7, Column 4: The Conrad in Cairo.
  • Row 9, Column 5: The AmericInn in Madison, South Dakota. I'm Marriott Gold and Hilton Diamond, but I was a no one here because I'm not a member of the Matterhorn Club. ;-)

    P.S. How can it possibly be that there are only three entries for "Matterhorn Club" "Up In The Air" on Google? And this blog post is one of them? The Matterhorn Club line is one of my favorites in the entire movie!

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    Throwin' In The Towel (The Techie Way)

    My flight home is delayed four hours.

    Apparently there's some nasty weather pattern in the midwest preventing my flight (which is stuck on the ground in TUS) to fly to LAX so that SWA can fly me back to SJC.


    But the cool thing is that sitting here on my rear I've been able to:
    Travel hiccups aren't fun, but it's pretty cool to live in a world that's so wired that I can do all the above.

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Alicia's Unfortunate Encounter

    Short Version
    Alicia was in an auto accident. She's banged up and bruised. She has some possibly broken bones in her wrist and ankle, maybe a chipped tooth. She's going to be visiting the doctors and her dentist over the next few days.

    Long Version
    At the end of my run yesterday, I got a call from Alicia. She was crying and hysterical - understandably so.  The phone connection was bad and I was breathing harder from the run, so I couldn't entirely make out what she was saying. But I got the gist of it: Accident. Bleeding. Car totaled. Help.

    I struggled to stay calm and to calm her down enough to get info on how she was, where she was, whether medical help was there. I told her that I was coming to get her.

    Then it struck me. I had no car. When we're up in San Rafael, we rarely bring both cars. Alicia had the only car. This was an unnerving realization.

    Stop. Think. I don't know anyone up here whose car I could borrow. Think... Taxi. I need a taxi.

    I told Alicia that I was calling a taxi and would get there asap.

    I ran back to the house to call a taxi. "Geez, " I realized, "I don't even know the name or number of any taxi companies up here." So I hit the laptop and start googling.  I call the taxi. While I wait for the taxi, I google Avis. Crud, they close in a little over a half hour.

    I call Alicia back to see how she's doing. She's in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, so I tell her I'll meet her there.

    When I get there, she's in a chair in the hallway of the ER. They've got her blanketed and icing her wrist. I was very relieved to see her.

    I knew that she hadn't completely lost her sense of humor or appetite when she said to swing by Arizmendi and pick up a potato pizza. She had been talking about the potato pizza since the day before.

    While on my errand they X-rayed her wrist. When I returned, we sat around for a while awaiting the results. The good news was the the X-rays didn't show any signs of any obviously broken bones in her wrist or hand. The nurse said that there still remained a possibility that a particular bone could be broken, but that it wouldn't show up on the X-rays. We'd just have to make another visit to the doctor in a week for a follow up. I won't pretend to understand why the X-ray wouldn't show it.

    While we were sitting around in the ER, I sent out a text to family and friends. The softie part of me thought it was touching how quickly the responses started arriving. The geeky part of me thought it was really freakin' cool to live in a world of instantaneous communications.

    So much for my "Machete don't text" bravado.

    They splinted her wrist, put her arm in a sling, and sent us on our way.

    The rest of the night was spent talking about what had happened, sending/receiving more texts, cleaning her up, and struggling to get her to go to bed.

    So what happened? Many of you have asked. Here's my understanding of what happened.

    Alicia was shopping at Corte Madera mall (labeled The Village of Corte Madera in the lower right corner of this map).

    She headed north on Redwood Highway (i.e. the frontage road, not highway 101).

    She intended to get onto 101 at the Lucky Drive onramp. Ironic, huh?

    Traffic is a little heavy for the frontage road. The speed limit is 30MPH, but they're moving 20 - 25 MPH.

    As she approaches the Cost Plus, she sees an older man in a white SUV. He's in the left turn lane of the Cost Plus parking lot. He intends to head south on the frontage road.

    Their eyes meet...

    And then he guns it.

    Alicia's thinking, "There's no way you're going to..."


    I've crudely drawn Alicia's intended path (red) and the guy's intended path (blue) in the map to the left. If you look closely, you'll notice that their two paths cross. Hence the "BAM!".

    He smashes into the front right portion of Juan (our name for the Volvo).

    The impact pushes Juan into the southbound lane of the frontage road.

    Juan ends up pointing NNW.

    But wait, the old guy's not done yet.

    From what I surmise, he keeps his foot planted on the accelerator. Juan and the SUV end up side by side pointing the same direction. He's still accelerating, so instead of merely destroying Juan by crushing the right headlight, the right fender, the hood, and the engine itself, he drives forward with the cars side by side and ruins the entire passenger side of the car from the rear brake light to the headlight.

    What's that you say? A picture is worth a thousand words?

    As you can see, the impact has caused the tire to burst, the hood to crumble, and a chunk of the car to fold in on itself.

    The shattered windshield was bowed outward, presumably the result of the passenger side airbag deploying.

    My photos don't do justice to his handy work. Those aren't white racing stripes going from the rear to the front of Juan. Those are the gouges he left as he accelerated forwards.

    Thankfully the airbags did what they were designed to do.

    Guess I won't need to change the wiper blades this winter after all.

    So what kind of vehicle can go from a dead stop and cause such carnage within a dozen or so feet?

    Meet the '91 Land Rover Range Rover.

    In defense of the Range Rover, it fared quite well. About all you could see was the bent in bumper thingy on the front, a slightly askew headlight, a tweaked side panel up front, and a tweaked side panel in the very back (remember those fabulous "racing stripes"?).

    The Range Rover did what it was designed to do. It was a tank.

    I'm not so sure just anyone should own a tank, however.

    Some good samaritan jogger immediately stepped in to help when the accident occurred. He got Alicia out of the car which at the time was filled with smoke (apparently from the air bags deploying).

    There was an ambulance and a tow truck in the parking lot of the Cost Plus. They were on the scene immediately.

    Within a few minutes the CHP was there.

    All things considered, we're fortunate that the scene unfolded as it did. I'm grateful that there was immediate medical assistance.

    I'm also grateful that we weren't both in the car. Before you think me a jerk, consider my reasoning. When we're in the car together, I almost always drive. So Alicia would have been riding shotgun. Given the physics unleashed by the impact, I think it's a fairly safe assumption that her head would have hit the passenger window. I shudder to think how that could have turned out.

    We didn't have a clue yesterday about who the older man was. Alicia was rushed to the hospital before the guy identified himself. For all we knew, it could have been a hit and run.

    We managed to piece together his identity, his license plate, his insurance company, etc. with a few pointed questions at the tow yard. Sounds like he was okay.

    Thankfully there were no fatalities and the injuries are painful but blessedly minor. And the car, it's just a car.

    Juan... May he rest in pieces.

    Joking aside, I'm so relieved Alicia survived.

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    The Frames at the Fillmore

    Alicia and I saw The Frames last night. They put on a great show.

    Missed having Marketa in the show.

    Very pleased to not have a repeat of the prior show we saw.

    The opening act, Tim Easton, was fun. Looked like he was having a good time on stage.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010


    Life is full of strange coincidences.

    Yesterday when I blogged about the Baskin Robbins turkey cake, I fully intended to include some snarky comment to the effect that I would rather eat a McRib sandwich than the turkey cake. Somehow it slipped my mind.

    Today as I went past the McDonald's in Capitola, I noticed a banner flapping in the stormy wind. The McRib is back. :-p

    I vaguely recall trying a McRib eons ago when I was but a wee lil' child. But I think that I should be forgiven for thinking back in my youth that a pork patty formed to look like a slab of ribs was something that a human should eat.

    I also recall being a bit icked out when I noticed that the 'rib' portion of the slab was meat rather than bone. Even as a kid, that just didn't seem natural.

    As I've matured over the years, I have been amused/nauseated the numerous times McDonald's has reintroduced the McRib. Many of those times they seemed to be attempting to reintroduce it but in such a way as to suggest that it was a new product.

    While I will confess to a weakness for the occasional Egg McMuffin, I swore the rest of the McMenu off many, many, many years ago. As exciting as McDonald's may have been as a kid, as an adult, I don't miss it at all. And I most certainly don't miss the McRib.

    It was a strange coincidence to stumble onto the McRib banner the day after thinking about it for the first time in ages. But far stranger is the concept of the McRib itself.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Let's Talk Turkey

    Sometimes there comes a time in one's life when a group of people does something that goes so far beyond what is societally and morally acceptable that you simply must put your foot down and tell the world, "This is wrong!".

    Passing a Baskin Robbins today, I saw this poster in their window. I can't possibly envision going "back for seconds" because the thought of having a first serving of turkey cake is vile.

    Reportedly it tastes like cake + ice cream rather than turkey. (Whew!) It is prepared with your choice of ice cream flavors. But what flavor of ice cream looks most similar to white meat? And dark meat?

    I'll begrudgingly give BR props for the cutlet frills and for finding an alternative use for ice cream cones besides serving as scoop delivery vechicles and masquerading as clowns.

    But the shinny brown vanilla gel? Nasty.

    And what gives with the piped icing? Is that a supposed to be a wing? Looks more to me like a poorly executed subliminal heart.

    Hey, BR... You ain't going to trick my subconscious into loving turkey cake!

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Flying Lesson

    On the way home from San Rafael, I stopped by Hayward Airport and took a flying lesson on last Monday.

    Your question -- no doubt prompted by this photo -- is, "Which plane did you fly, Brian?"

    I'll leave it to you to guess whether it was the Cessna 172R (in the foreground) or the Dassault Falcon 2000 (in the background).

    For the record, I did attempt to talk Abel, the flight instructor, into letting me fly the other plane.

    Before boarding the flight, I spent about thirty minutes practicing on a flight simulator. I've flown sailplanes a few times (twenty yikes! years ago), so I remembered the basic mechanics.

    But before they even turned me loose on the flight simulator, Abel sat down with me and asked why I wanted to fly. Just for fun? A hobby? Did I want to learn to fly professionally? I don't imagine I'd ever fly professionally, but for many years I've entertained the idea of getting my private pilot's license.

    If you'd ever seen me on a plane, you'd have had an inkling that I was interested in being more than just a passenger. Maybe you've seen me (or someone like me). I'm the guy on the United flight with the headphones on during taxiing, takeoff, and landing. That's channel 9 I'm listening to.

    Channel 9 (a.k.a. "From the Flightdeck") allows passengers to listen to live radio communications between the cockpit and Air Traffic Control. I won't pretend to understand everything they're saying, but I do listen for my flight's call signal and the altitude/heading instructions.

    I'm the guy with his face plastered against the window, trying to determine which runway we'll use.

    I'm the guy who's pinned his compass to the back of the headrest of the seat in front so that I can determine our heading during landing so that I can retrace our flight path on Google Earth when I get to the hotel after the flight.

    I'm the guy who notices that we have begun our descent before the pilot announces, "We have begun our descent."

    I'm the guy listening for the sound of the flaps extending and the landing gear lowering.

    I'm the guy critiquing the landing. Did the pilot flare skillfully resulting in a smooth landing or did the pilot mash the gear into the runway? I always love the former (and have been known to applaud) and I respect that sometimes mashing the gear to make contact is sometimes the right call. I prefer a gear mashing two point landing to the sometimes stomach turning one point landing.

    In other words, I'm the guy that you called a dweeb. But I'm a (mostly inwardly) enthusiastic dweeb.

    During our little chat, I could tell that Abel was trying to impress upon me the importance of understanding the theory behind flight. He wanted to discourage me from just wanting to hop in the plane and fly and to heck with how it works. Funny thing was, he needn't have worried about me. I want to understand the mechanics. I'm not just fascinated by the act of flight itself, I want to understand what's going on to keep roughly a ton of metal from plummeting from the sky.

    So after the flight simulator and after a refresher on flaps and rudders and ailerons and the like, we walked out onto the tarmac and to the plane.

    As we got closer to the plane, I (being the thoughtful husband that I am) thought it would be a good time to check in with Alicia to see if she was still onboard with the plan to accompany me and the flight instructor. I knew that she would likely be having second thoughts the moment she saw the size of the plane.

    To her credit, she didn't back out. I think she regretted it later, but she didn't back out.

    Abel let me taxi out to the runway. One thing I do on planes (and boats) is struggle with oversteering. As we taxied, I swear my feet were treating the rudder like bicycle pedals. I'll learn to finesse it one day.

    When Abel received clearance for us to take off, we taxied out onto runway 28R, throttled up, and as I pulled back on the controls, the plane became airborne.

    To this day, I'm always exhilarated at that moment when the plane takes to the air. How utterly amazing is it that we humans can fly?

    Runway numbers (e.g. 28) indicate the direction the runway points. Runway 28 is roughly west. So as we took off we were flying roughly towards SFO. Abel pointed out that we needed to remain at a lower altitude -- here's the cool part -- and I knew why. The airspace into OAK and Hayward overlap.

    We banked to the right and headed east. Somebody help me here... What's the name of the mountain range to the east of Hayward. Anyway, we flew over those and below I could see highways 580 and 680, so we must have been over Pleasanton or Livermore.

    Abel had me practice climbing to altitude, maintaining a heading, turning, and other basic skills.

    When we circled back towards Hayward, I was able to spot the airport based on having paid attention so many times flying into Oakland over the years. I rarely fly into Oakland these days, but I remember it well.

    I can't take credit for the majority of the landing. Abel lined us up with the runway and kept us on the glide path, but he did let me do the flare. I'd love to say that I did a fabulous job, but then I remember that Alicia was in the back seat and that she'd probably have a different recollection.

    I don't have any immediate plans to pursue that pilot's license. I know that I'm going to be busy traveling for the rest of the year. But come next year, Watsonville Airport is not far away. :-)

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Another Weekend in the Bay Area

    Believe it or not, there's a point to this post. The following paragraphs recount the events of last weekend. Maybe those details will interest you; maybe they won't. But for me, writing about this weekend is an expression of gratitude. During a time when the economic downturn is clobbering so many, there is so much in my life to be grateful for. The events described below are not atypical for me. It was a fairly normal sort of weekend, but any one of these events could be a highlight in the life of someone less fortunate.

    We began Saturday morning at the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. We picked up some tasty Emerald Beaut plums and Flavor Grenade pluots from Frog Hollow, a half round of Andante Minuet cheese, and a salami sandwich from Boccolone. The farmer's market has come a long way since when we lived in SF. It's great seeing it thriving and watching all the people enjoying it.

    On a side note, I was really surprised to see how much the downtown Santa Cruz farmer's market has grown. Naturally it's a fraction the size of the one at the Ferry Building, but it too has grown.

    But our regular farmer's market is now the one in Aptos at Cabrillo College. I like the SC farmer's market better, but driving to Santa Cruz from Aptos has gotten ridiculous in the last few years. Seems like there can be traffic now regardless of the time or day. Lame.

    After the Farmer's Market, we headed to the warming hut at Crissy Field to meet up with Lisa. Alicia met Lisa something like a year ago, but I've never met her. I'm intrigued to meet Lisa and hear her stories about traveling around the world. I'm always interested in hearing from others who have travelled extensively. I love hearing about where they went, what they did, what they saw, who they met, and how they accomplished it.

    I'll have to wait to meet her, however, because our timing got messed up, and I had to high-tail it over to Fort Mason while Alicia and Lisa took a walk along Crissy Field. BTW... Can anyone actually confirm that Lisa exists? Alicia says that she does, but I'm beginning to wonder. Hmmmmm...

    I was at Fort Mason for the Ski & Snowboard Festival. I'd heard about it through Groupon, and went in hopes of scoring some winter gear for our upcoming trip. We've already told some of you where we're heading, but I'll keep those of you who are reading in ongoing suspense. I didn't walk away with any gear, but the groupon was worth it anyway since admission to the festival included three lift-tickets. :-)

    By the time I was done with the festival, Alicia was just about to begin her walk with Lisa. It didn't make much sense to continue shuttling back and forth, so I said I'd start walking westward towards them. From Fort Mason, I walked along the water through Marina Green Park. There were countless sailboats on the bay, and even though it was fogged in over at Crissy Field, the sky and weather were gorgeous where I was. I had a clear view of Alcatraz Island.

    As I walked along Marina Green, I spotted something across the yacht harbor that I'd read about not long ago. I'd wanted to see it, so I decided to take a detour. I turned right at towards the yacht club and eastward out on the jetty (or is it a spit?). At the end I found it: The wave organ.

    The wave organ, built in 1986, is described by the Exploratorium a "wave-activated acoustic sculpture." But it's one of those "you've got to see it hear it" sort of experiences. SPOILER ALERT: You can hear it and read about it on the Exploratorium website.

    After the wave organ, I turned around and continued westward across Crissy Field. I remember Crissy Field before its renovation. The renovation began when I moved to SF in 1998, and they did a wonderful job. From Crissy Field, there are fabulous views of the bay, the Palace of Fine Arts, Sausalito, Tiburon, Angel and Alcatraz islands, and -- of course -- the Golden Gate Bridge. But all of these views are enhanced by the renovation works themselves. The restoration of the land to its former condition makes me appreciate how man and nature can co-exist.

    After meeting up with Alicia at Crissy Field, we headed to the East Bay to visit Alicia's sister, Denise, and her family. Oh wait, how could I forget. We stopped by the Cheese Board to pick up a couple corn pizzas. Yummy.

    After Denise's we headed over to meet up with my cousin Bridgette. She and her family moved to California a couple months ago, and it was great to catch up with her and find out how she was adjusting to the move from the East Coast to (of all places) Bezerkeley.

    Later that evening we met up with her sister, Kristen, at Paisan. Kristen brought her boyfriend, Bill Holzapfel. It really interesting meeting him because he has regularly travelled to Antarctica for over a dozen years to work on the South Pole Telescope. I've wanted to travel to Antarctica for over fifteen years. I first got bit by the bug when I was traveling around the world. Specifically, when I was in Christchurch, New Zealand, I read about a study-at-sea program being hosted by one of the local schools, and I started investigating the possibility on a whim. The timing didn't work out -- I literally missed the boat -- but I've been intrigued ever since. Alicia and I have talked about going to Antarctica off and on over the years, but we've never pulled the trigger. Maybe one day we'll go.

    Today was a lower key day. We met Jody in Napa for lunch at Bottega, followed by wine tasting at Louis M. Martini. Since I don't drink, I invoked the Designated Driver provision of our marriage agreement which states, if you want Brian to drive you around the wine country, you got to buy him lunch and/or dinner. Lunch was superb. I had the duck confit. :-)

    On the way back to San Rafael, we we -- as always -- amused to see the Oreo Cows. Stop by and check them out next time you drive by.

    When we got back to San Rafael, I began a race against the clock. It was getting dark, but I wanted to plant some tulip bulbs before the sun set. When I was done, I ended up with what, to the casual, just looked like a bunch of terra cotta pots with dirt in them. But some time early next spring, I'm hoping to see tulips blooming.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Fear No Evel

    Just uncovered some photos from the Halloween party taken with someone else's camera. In the photo to the left you can see the lovely Frida (a.k.a. Alicia plus a unibrow) and my entire Evel Knievel costume.

    Now I know that I'm biased (having spent untold hours sewing the costume), but have to say that my Evel costume has a few things on Mr. Colbert's.

    Notice the USA #1 arm patch and the EK belt buckle. Plus my belt, unlike Steven's, isn't upside down. I'm sure Mr. Knievel would have appreciated attention to details like those.

    Steven's costume did have one thing on mine. He did have the cape. :-)

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Somewhere in New York

    I landed at Rochester around 6:30pm yesterday. The sun was already setting, so any hopes of seeing the fall colors were dashed.

    What to do? What to do? Manhattan's 350 miles away - too far.

    So I opted to visit Niagara Falls. I've been to the Canadian side with Alicia, but I've never been to the US side.

    The first thing I was struck by is that the Canadian skyline is much more colorful and picturesque than I remember the US side being.

    I like the skyline in this shot, but I love the way the blackened water drops into the glowing abyss.

    In this shot, the lights from Canadian side backlights American Falls with a reddish glow while the falls themselves are forever stopped in a blurry motion caused by the slow exposure.
    I love this shot for the way it captures the lighting. Not quite sure how I managed to capture this shot. The lights slowly shift between different colors. Somehow this shot captured bluish green, purple, white, orange, and red lighting.

    FYI... The falls in the foreground are American Falls, and the red/purple/orange falls one-third of the way down the picture are Bridal Veil Falls.
    I enjoy the way this shot draws my attention to American Falls and the ghostly mist while topped by Bridal Veil and the skyline.

    I wanted to to use the 30D, but I left it in the trunk. I would have needed a tripod and the park was darker than I'd have liked. Perfect for great photos, but perfect too for camera snatching. I'm happy with how my little Olympus pocket camera performed. BTW... I didn't modify the color in the photos. That's just how the light looks. Great for night shots.

    The Olympus also takes (decidedly non-HD) videos. Be sure to turn down your speakers before viewing. The audio isn't very good and the falls are quite loud (as were some of the tourists who - though muffled - can be heard over the sound of the falls!).

    I'm sitting in the Red Carpet club in Dulles, and the WI-Fi is slow. I better stop uploading photos. I've got a plane to SFO to catch.

    Having see both the US and Canadian sides of the falls, I'm ready to render my verdict. Both sides are are spectacular, but I'm going to have to give this one to our neighbors to the north. The impact of standing right beside Horseshoe Falls as it gushes past is profoundly striking. In fairness to the US side, I didn't venture onto Goat Island; it looked too dark and uninhabited. Here's the path I did take. Maybe the view would have been better from Goat Island. I'll have to find out the next time I visit.

    Go to either. Better yet, go to both. Remember to bring your passport to get across the Rainbow Bridge.

    Shout out to my parents... They honeymooned at Niagara.

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Sanity versus Fear

    I'm pleased by the attendance numbers for yesterday's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. While I fully expect those numbers to be debated, debunked, and denounced in the days to come by the media and pundits, it appears that 100,000 would be a very conservative estimate.

    The exact number doesn't matter to me. What matters is the attendance shows that a significant portion of the U.S. is tired of the numerous forces in the country which are using divisive techniques to set us against each other.

    I don't have any illusions that the rally will have a significant impact this Tuesday when we go to the polls (or vote by mail), but I do hope that the rally can help to shift the tone of political discourse in this country in the near future. Yes the rally was frequently silly, but I'd like to think that it could make a difference in how we communicate with each other in highly polarized country.

    Full disclosure: I have been proudly registered "Decline to State" for the entirety of my two plus decades as a voter.

    On a personal note, I was highly amused by the skit when Steven Colbert emerged from his "bunker of fear". I burst into laughter when I saw Steven emerge from the depths.

    Sure the juxtaposition of the rally and the Chilean miner crisis was funny, but what made me burst out in laughter was the fact that the patriotic uniform Steven was wearing was a repurposed Evel Knievel costume. Those of you who watched the rally noticed that they removed the "EK" belt buckle, right? I know that the costume was repurposed from recent research that I conducted for the Halloween party I attended recently. I saw Steven's costume available for purchase online, but I opted to make my own.

    There, I said it! I made my own costume. While I'm sure my grandmother would be pleased to hear that I applied those sewing skills I picked up during summer visits to Fort Wayne, Indiana (while my brothers were playing baseball), I suspect that when they catch wind of this, my buddies like Blewis, Tee, and Scottie will revoke my "man card".  ;-)

    Sunday, October 24, 2010


    Our driver picked us up at 5:30 a.m. for the ride to O'Hare. We didn't get to sleep till 2:30 a.m., so I'm only operating on three hours of sleep. Add an ORD-->SFO flight, plus a drive from SFO-->Aptos, and then a drive from Aptos-->Palo Alto (where I'll be working this week), and you get an inkling of what my day has been like. If you are harboring some hope that this post will be coherent, I suggest you discard that foolish notion.

    Why were we up so late? Last night was John & Sharon's annual Halloween party. I don't know what the final count was, but I'd say there were easily two-hundred attendees this year. The party just gets bigger each year.

    Each year the theme of the party changes. This year, the theme was "dead celebrities". Some of the costumes were a tad bit more morbid than others (understatement). What I found interesting was the number of times that I heard people fondly reminiscing over celebrities who have passed on.

    I lost count of how many guys came up to me during the party and told me that when they were kids they wanted to be the person I dressed as. Several insisted that he lives on. I'm not quite sure how, but they sounded convinced of the veracity of their claims. Who was I? Find me in the photos below and find out.

    Mr. Rourke and Tattoo (a.k.a. John and
    Sharon) make arrangements for the party
    behind the scenes. What, did you think
    Fantasy Island just happened by itself?

    Brian (a.k.a. "Blewis") and Ivonne were in
    Chicago this week, so we scored them an invite.

    Frida Kahlo (a.k.a. Alicia) shows off the latest in
    fashions at Chalk. Frida and I were at the boutique
    to pass out clues in the scavenger hunt.
    Alicia was a great sport to wear the unibrow!

    Rapunzel (a.k.a. my niece Chloe) Rapunzel,
    let down your hair.

    The cutest Jessie (a.k.a. my niece
    Elodie) ever!

    Check out Elodie's moves on the dance floor!
    JFK (a.k.a. Fritz from an earlier post) having
    a bad day.

    My nephew Connor terrorizing Aunt Alicia!

    King Tut
    Let's liquor up Colonel Sanders
    and see if we can get him to
    divulge his secret recipe. 

    Natasha Richardson shows off her ski wear.

    Evel Knievel (Me), Frida Kahlo (Alicia),
    Carnac the Magnificent (the other Brian),
    and Audry Hepburn (Ivonne)

    The curse of King Tut

    My nephew Ethan did a superb job of promoting
    his candy count guessing game.

    The whale trainer who died at SeaWorld.

    Michael Hutchence of INXS shows off his neckwear.

    The photobooth is fun every year!

    Joan of Arc feels the heat
    from the costume contest.

    The Bahá'í made for an easy landmark
    with which to find the party!

    Catherine the Great and her... uh... "friend"
    JonBenét Ramsey Now that's wrong.
    That's just wrong.

    Elvis (a.k.a. Burt from this earlier post) and Evel