September 2012
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From Santa Cruz to Crate & Barrel

I’ve had four of the last six days off. Well, two of those were the weekend, of course, but I took Wednesday and Thursday off to both catch up on some things and to have a fun day off since I haven’t taken much vacation time this year.

Debbi took Wednesday off and we decided to drive down to Santa Cruz and then up the coast. We had breakfast at Stacks in Campbell, and then drove down to Santa Cruz. We passed to small traffic jams on the way, but otherwise it wasn’t too bad.

In Santa Cruz we went to the Museum of Natural History, which is small, but hard to beat for the $4 admission. Plus it’s near a nice beach which you can walk to while your parking pass is still good. Then we went into downtown for lunch, dropped in a couple of stores to shop, and visited The Penny Ice Creamery, which a cow-orker recommended and which was very tasty!

Our drive up the coast was uneventful, other than looking around to stop at the few beaches I wanted to drop in on. I remembered doing this same drive 13 years ago when I got my car, and stopping at several beaches which were clearly visible from Highway 1, and this time we stopped at some other ones. We particularly enjoyed seeing kitesurfers at one beach:

We also stopped at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and saw a couple of sea lions from a distance, and visited Pebble Beach (no, not the one with the famous golf course).

We should’ve brought some water bottles with us, but otherwise it was a nice drive along the coast seeing some sights we hadn’t seen before.

Debbi went back to work Thursday and I worked on stuff at home, such as mowing the lawn. I also took care of some of my Mom’s affairs – such as cancelling her cell phone contract, since she doesn’t even know where her cell phone is at this point; if she ever needs one again, a prepaid phone will probably be the way to go. I’m constantly surprised at how many details there are to take care of, yet how most of them are not too hard individually – they just add up over time. Managing my own affairs is hard enough!

I ran a couple of errands for my own, and left lunch a little too late, settling on buying stuff for PB&J sandwiches at home.

Friday I had a 1-day work week, and Debbi and I went to Cascal for dinner. Yum!

Over the weekend we worked on some home projects. It started with a trip to the vet with Blackjack, who has been breathing more audibly lately and one of his eyes has been getting gunked up. We got some drops for his eye, and some blood work done (which came back the same as his last tests). We’re always worrying that his next symptoms might be the other shoe dropping, but so far it’s all be pretty little stuff (though the vet visits get expensive). He and Newton have both been doing pretty well this summer.

We went by Crate & Barrel to buy some new drinking glasses, and ended up also buying some wine cabinets, which we’ve needed for a while. (The old Ikea bookcase currently holding our wine is not in great shape.) We also tried to go to Ikea, but couldn’t find a parking space! Or, rather, we could, but only a lo-o-ong way from the front door, so we gave up. We went back Sunday morning and bought some shelving for our dining room, to store knick-knacks and other things that don’t currently have a home. I put it together and then we unpacked two of the last boxes remaining from our move. Almost done! I think we have 3 or 4 boxes in the study yet to unpack, but at least 2 of those are old gaming materials that I can’t quite decide to get rid of.

So a pretty productive weekend all-in-all. We finished it by grilling steak & baked potatoes, and playing a round of lawn bowling.

It was back to work today. Hard to believe fall has arrived already!

Fun With Smoke Detectors

I wrote how two weekends ago we had our smoke detectors go off during a power outage at home. I’m still pretty sure they went off due to steam from the shower (since the vent fan in the bathroom wasn’t working, the power being out and all). Annoying, but it happens.

This morning I was woken up by the smoke alarm going off at 6:10 am. Which is about 40 minutes before my alarm went off. I was not happy.

The strange thing is that the thing only did its three-beep signal once, and then stopped. But I got up anyway because I wondered if it would go off again in 5 minutes or something. But it didn’t.

Our house has 7 smoke detectors, which I believe are connected to the power supply (and have battery backups), 5 upstairs and 2 downstairs, and they’re also connected to each other. When they operate normally they have a green LED which is on constantly, and a red LED which flashes once a minute. (It’s pretty hard to see because it flashes very briefly, and you have to sit for up to a minute watching it.)

I went around to each detector and saw that 6 of them were flashing green, and one (in the downstairs hallway) was not. The instructions say that flashing green indicates that the alarm which is flashing was recently triggered and then the triggering situation went away.

What on earth would trigger six alarms for just a few seconds and then stop, but not the seventh alarm?

My best guess is that there was some sort of power surge or outage. Either that or one alarm was triggered by something but for some reason five others went into that flashing mode.

Another possibility is that I need to clean the detectors, which the instructions recommend doing and which we’ve never done. And another possibility is that one or more detectors is failing. So I should test them.

The cats were pretty funny after the alarm went off. Roulette was all wound up, running around and meowing. Newton was sitting in the downstairs hallway, and then was a bit restless, walking upstairs (which he doesn’t often do since his hospital stay last spring) and joining me for my shower. Blackjack was snoozing with me when the alarm went off, came down for breakfast while I was reading the instructions, and then went up to sleep in the study, which he doesn’t often do. Newton and Rou I assume were disturbed by the beeping, but Blackjack is deaf so I think my getting up early just threw him off.

Anyway, I went around the house and reset the six flashing detectors, and nothing else happened with them this morning.

Hopefully this was just a fluke.

Weekend with Friends

We had a busy Labor Day weekend, seeing different friends every day. That sure made it go quickly! Not that it was a bad time, not at all.

Friday night we swung by Sports Basement so Debbi could pick up her registration packet for the 5K she was running the next day. While she was there we decided to buy a bocci ball set to play in our back yard.

Then Saturday morning her friend Rachana met us at our place and we drove down to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds for their Color Me Rad 5K race, which is more about getting sprayed with color corn starch than about setting a good time in the race. I just watched them go, and hung out while they were doing the run, watching the color-splashed people cross the finish line (and getting out of the way of the occasion cloud of blue or red corn starch that wafted across the area). The two of them got thoroughly covered and had a great time! Most of it came out in the shower at home, and then we all went to Hobees for brunch.

We ran several errands in the afternoon, and then went over to Susan and Subrata’s place for dinner and gaming in the evening. Subrata and I played a round of Magic, doing a Winchester draft of Innistrad/Dark Ascension/Avacyn Restored, after which he thoroughly crushed me, winning 4 out of 5 games. Sigh.

Sunday we woke up to our 8:30 alarm, and just as we were sitting up to start the day… the power went out.

Debbi went to shower, and I checked on my phone to find that the power was projected to be restored within 2 hours. Still, I was sad because Debbi was going to make me sausage biscuits for breakfast, and I’d been looking forward to it.

Then, as I got ready to go shower myself… the smoke detectors went off.

Bleary-eyed, I stumbled around to find the instructions for the alarm. I believe our alarms are all interconnected, and hooked into our electricity, with battery back-ups. This is the first time they’d gone off, but I eventually realized that the alarm was probably triggered by the one in our bedroom, by the steam from the shower. I got the ladder and went up to reset it, and it worked!

But then, 10 minutes after resetting it, it went off again. So I reset it again.

Then the power came back on, an hour earlier than expected. Woo-hoo?

Debbi went to make breakfast, while I waited to see if the alarm would go off again. It didn’t, so I showered and went down for breakfast. Not a good start to the day. But the sausage biscuits were yummy. Later in the day I made some coffee chocolate chip ice cream for us to enjoy later in the week.

In the afternoon we went to visit Chad & Camille, to try to wear out their 3-year-old twins in advance of their trip to Hawaii. Their boy, Dash, was full of energy and trouble-making; I wonder if he was anxious about the trip and was acting out. Who knows. But we had a good time in their swimming pool, and Chad grilled dinner. We brought dessert (from Nothing Bundt Cakes).

On the way home Debbi asked me what I wanted to do that evening, and I said, “I want to watch the new Doctor Who episode.” So we did that. “Asylum of the Daleks” was very good. I had a few nitpicks, but I have a few nitpicks about almost every Doctor Who episode; it’s actually one of Moffat’s stronger Matt Smith stories, and was effectively creepy in its twists and turns. I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the season. (I’ve read some fan reviews on-line which really hate the episode, which has me shaking my head. I guess a lot of the vitriol is about the handling of Amy and Rory’s relationship, but I thought it was pretty well done, although perhaps not explored in as much depth as it deserved. Some fans just overthink things, I think. [Not that I’m ever guilty of that!])

Monday we spent the morning cleaning – and Debbi preparing some food – as in the afternoon we had neighbors over for a barbecue. Unfortunately it was quite hot out so we weren’t able to sit on the porch, and ate in the dining room instead (I ventured out onto the porch to grill bison burgers, and the delicious marinated chicken that one couple brought). We ended up with more food as we usually do at these gatherings, but that’s not exactly a bad thing!

After the barbecue we played with our new bocci ball set, and I called my Mom to see how she was doing, and ask her a couple of questions about some mail I’d received for her. But mostly just to chat. She’s still quite happy in her new place, which is a very good thing.

We finally collapsed and spent the evening watching TV and reading. Hard to believe the weekend just flew by, but that’s what happens when you keep busy for most of it!