I ended up taking my car to Sears this morning. The jumper pack I borrowed from Michel worked great – no problems at all! Sears replaced the battery easily enough, and the car does feel like it starts a little more easily now. I guess the old one was really shot.

I forgot that my car radio has a lock code so that if it loses power – such as being stolen – then you have to enter the code to get it working again. Of course, this also holds when you replace the car battery. Fortunately I file all my car records in a folder, so it was easy enough to find to get the radio working again.

I’m going to miss Sears when it leaves town next year.

Return to Disneyland

This past weekend was time for our annual trip to Disneyland. It’s “annual” in the sense that Debbi and her friends really love Disneyland and the Disney characters, but while I enjoy the rides I don’t enjoy them so much to go more than once an year, whereas they, well, do. So I guess it’s really my “annual” trip to Disneyland.

Anyway. If you’re new to reading about this whole thing in my journal, you can find last year’s accounts and links to earlier ones here.

This year’s trip didn’t start off auspiciously. Debbi and I went to dinner Wednesday night, and when we came out of the restaurant I turned the key to my car and – well, the lights on the dash come on, sort of, and the starter clicked, and not much else happened.

Yes, my car’s battery had died.

The AAA guy who came to jump my car said I should have my battery framed, since it was the original battery from 1999, and he says most people are lucky to get 5 years out of a battery like this, not 7. Fortunately, we always rent a minivan or something for these multi-person trips to Disneyland, so my car could just sit in the garage until Monday. Which it was destined to do, since it got home without a hitch, but as soon as I turned off the engine it refused to start again. The battery’s so dead it won’t even work the door locks with the remote clicker.

We were scheduled to meet Lisa and Michel to get the aforementioned minivan at the airport, but of course we were late, since we drove home to drop off my car and switch to Debbi’s. It turns out it wouldn’t have been much faster had my car worked properly since there was a hitch in picking up the van, so by the time we got there everything had just gotten smoothed out.

All-in-all, we ended up not getting home until around 9:30, which meant we were up until close to midnight packing and otherwise getting ready. A bit of a pain since Lisa and Michel picked us up at 8 am on Thursday morning. Fortunately the rest of our long weekend was pretty smooth. By leaving early, we managed to avoid the worst of the traffic in LA.

Disneyland was pretty good this time around, although usually we’re there on Sunday and Monday, and it seems that the park is just insanely full on Saturday. Sheeesh! I think we were a little disappointed that we weren’t able to ride some of the major rides as much as we usually do because of the long lines.

On the bright side, we did get to ride the big roller coaster in California Adventure several times, which ain’t bad since it’s probably my favorite ride in the whole park. I also got in a good zinger on the Jungle Cruise, for which the “guides” are known for their bad puns. It went something like this:

Guide: This… is a boat. Spelled B… O… uh… T… E.

(Objections from a few patrons.)

Guide: Well, how do you smell “tote”?

(A little confused muttering.)

Guide: T-O-T-E. So if you replaced the ‘T’ with a ‘B’, then you have ‘boat’!”

Me: Or you have “tobe”.

Guide: No… uh…. yes, you do.

It’s good to be a smartass.

We got a little rain Friday night, and a bunch of rain Saturday night (right while we were sitting down to dinner, naturally), but otherwise the weather was warm and mostly sunny. Thanks to that, I even was able to ride the Grizzy River Run – one of my favorites – even though everyone else in our party-of-six wimped out! (Lisa’s friend Yvonne and her boyfriend Wender were also with us.) I managed to avoid getting soaked, even though a woman on my raft had a big wave come right up over her lap and purse!

(I guess we missed a whole bunch of rain that got dumped on the Bay Area over the weekend, too.)

Debbi and Lisa push themselves pretty hard to have as much fun as possible at the park while we’re there, and my feet just give out after a certain number of hours. I went back to the hotel a little early on Friday night, and happened to stumble across a concert called Celtic Woman on PBS, which featured some orchestral arrangements of celtic music and a few contemporary songs, sung by a quintet of ladies (and one fiddler) backed by orchestra and a small chorus. It was pretty neat. I might need to buy their CD, seeing as I’m a sucker for:

  1. Celtic music;
  2. Lush orchestral arrangements, and
  3. Lovely female vocals (as opposed to lovely female vocalists, whom I appreciate as much as the next guy, but whose appeal doesn’t come through in an audio medium).

Debbi enjoyed it too, as we watched some of it when re-run on Saturday night. It turns out she has a fondness for productions like that, which I hadn’t known!

So now we’re home, and we picked up Chinese take-out for dinner, I finished reading Tim Powers’ new novel (review coming soon!), and I made a fire so we could have a lazy and warm evening at home. Mission accomplished, I say!

Tomorrow I get to find out if Michel’s car-jumper works, and I’ll find some place to get my battery replaced. I figure if the dealer can’t take me, I’ll either go to Sears, or to a repair place a few blocks away (or maybe I’ll try the last place first). It’s just a battery (I hope), so I bet it doesn’t matter much.

Wish me luck!

Turkey Digestion Day

We made our annual trip over to the house of our friends Bill and Elaine yesterday for their terrific-as-always Thanksgiving dinner. Debbi brought her usual pizza-bread appetizer, which disappeared even faster than usual! After a brief (but fortunately not problematic) mishap in determining whether the turkey was cooked, we ate a huge meal, and then a huge dessert consisting of pies and ice cream, after which I just about fell asleep, but instead played with their persian cats for a while and wished I wasn’t completely stuffed so I could go have some more pie.


We justified the feast by going for a 2-hour walk yesterday through the Palo Alto Baylands around Byxbee Park, and I went for an hour bike ride this morning when I got up, which took some intestinal fortutide since it was forty-freaking-two degrees out at 9 am this morning. Gah. Winter is here.

Today we spend a good chunk of the day cleaning house: I cleaned old cobwebs from the ceiling corners, swept and mopped the tile floors and the study. Debbi vacuumed and did laundry and cooked a turkey breast so she could have leftovers. We each cleaned our own bathroom. All very productive! The cats were kind of weirded out by all the activity, though.

Hard to believe it’s Friday already, that my week off is about over. But we still have the weekend ahead of us!

Puttering Around

I can’t say I’ve been getting a lot done on my week off. I’ve hit some used bookstores, bought and read this week’s comic books, eaten a bunch of good food (including trying the new burger restaurant, The Counter, which recently opened in Palo Alto; pretty good!), talked to friends and family on the phone, and done some reading.

Precious little writing, however – here or elsewhere.

Other than playing poker on Monday, my main accomplishment has been going for a bike ride every morning so far this week. Yesterday I went for a lengthy ride (meaning, about 15 miles – not lengthy for some, but lengthy for me) around some territory I’ve only biked once before, and along the way I discovered some new places to go walking. So tomorrow – now that Debbi’s off for the rest of the week – we might go for a walk in the morning rather than a ride.

It’s been cool and sometimes foggy for my morning rides, but by the end of the outing I’m pretty hot and sweaty, so I guess it’s not cold enough! Actually by 10 am it gets up well over 60, which is plenty warm for biking.

So, not the most productive week. But it’s not over yet! And if I regret anything, it’s that it’s flying by so quickly!

Quick-Slow-Slow Weekend

The weekend started with an ultimate frisbee tournament Saturday morning. It rained Friday night, so it wasn’t certain that the tournament would happen, but the rain ended by daybreak and the fields drained well, so the tourney started around 10 am.

Turnout was light, though, and we didn’t really have enough substitutes for me – with my crappy endurance – to stay fresh. My body started shutting down on me towards the end of the second game, which was a bummer, but that’s the way it goes. Our team didn’t put on a great showing, either, getting pretty well beaten in both games. Alas.

On the bright side, bagel halves with peanut butter are pretty yummy.

Debbi came out and watched me the whole time, even though it was chilly and windy and not very sunny. Nice of her!

We usually have to share a little space with hobbyists who come out to fly kites, and remote-control planes and gliders. The gliders are pretty neat, as their owners get them up pretty high with a single throw (they twirl around and throw them like a discus), and then get them to spiral around for a good long while before landing.

After all that running around, the rest of the weekend was pretty low-key. Saturday, in fact, we even took a nap for a couple of hours. I almost never take naps. I guess I feel like I’m wasting the day if I take a nap, and I should instead just stick it out and then go to bed early if I’m that tired. But I was pretty wiped out after the tournament. We spent the evening reading at the coffee shop, which was about all I had the energy to do, even after the nap!

Sunday was equally slow. We ran some errands on both days, and Sunday we basically sat around and watched football, petted the cats, and Debbi cooked dinner.

I tried to do some writing, but didn’t get as far as I’d hoped. I find it difficult to get into a groove, mainly getting stuck on figuring out the specifics of what’s happening in a certain scene. I know the story opens with someone getting killed in an accident, but how does everything line up to make it plausible? It’s not even one of those “things are not what they seem” scenes, it’s just what it appears to be. It’s just a few paragraphs, but it’s still tricky.

I’ll work on it some more tomorrow evening. I have another one to work on, too, so maybe when I get stuck on one I should switch to the other one.

A Trip to Monterey

Today we drove down to Monterey and Pacific Grove for the day. Originally we were going to spend the night and then Debbi was going to walk the Big Sur Half Marathon tomorrow morning, but she’s been having problems with blisters on her feet and was concerned she might not be able to finish in the time alotted, so she decided to punt this time. But she still wanted to pick up her registration packet – including the nifty shirt – so we drove down anyway.

I don’t quite go to Monterey often enough to be able to find my way around without a map, but at least I have a better idea of how long it takes to get there than I once did. Actually, we got there in pretty good time, and found the registration site without any trouble. Then we walked through downtown Monterey (which is smaller than I’d remembered, which probably means we didn’t walk the whole thing) and had lunch there.

We then drove over near Cannery Row and visited some book stores over there. It turns out there’s a branch of Bookbuyers on Lighthouse Ave.

After that we did a drive along the coast in Pacific Grove, which is truly one of the most beautiful coasts I’ve ever driven along. We stopped for a walk at one point, and I took a few pictures:




On the way back into town we stopped at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary, and it’s early in the season where monarch butterflies overwinter in Monterey. Just when we arrived we were fortunate to see a swarm of hundreds of butterflies near the observation area – apparently not a common occurrence! Sadly I didn’t have my camera ready, but I did later snap one decent photo of a lone flier:


We may need to go back closer to the height of the season.

We did some window-shopping on Cannery Row and even got ice cream at a Ghirardelli shop there (which I hadn’t known existed). We decided not to go to the aquarium this time around, instead just seeing the rest of Monterey. (Besides which, the aquarium seems to have gotten awfully expensive – over $20 per person!)

It was surprisingly warm and sunny down there, which made for a nice day of walking. A fun time!


Early Season Fog

Very foggy out this morning – quite a surprise considering it was over 80 on Saturday. My recollection is that we don’t usually get foggy days until much later in the season, but I could be wrong.

Saturday we went into the city. On the way we stopped on the peninsula to eat at Brothers Deli, one of our favorite lunch joints. It recently moved from Burlingame to downtown Millbrae, into what looks like a newly-furnished venue. It’s the same yummy food, though (I like the meat blintzes).

Our main goal was to go to Borderlands Books so I could pick up the copy of Alastair Reynolds‘ new collection Zima Blue and Other Stories. We took BART from the Millbrae station just because I’d never done it, but it’s definitely slower than going to Daly City, where there are a lot more trains to catch, so that’s probably the last time for me unless they start running more trains. I can report success on getting the book, and I enjoy walking along Valencia Street in the Mission district because of all the quirky shops to glance in. But Borderlands alone makes it worth the trip, even when their hairless cat isn’t in residence.

Sunday we vegged out and watched football and baseball. Neither of us was feeling all that motivated to do much. I made some small tweaks to the FP template and did a bunch of reading.

The cats are doing well. They spent most of the weekend sleeping. I wonder if their kitty-drugs wear them out, even beyond being sick. Blackjack is getting his energy back and is behaving a little more normally. Roulette I think is just mad at us for giving her medicine every day – she hates it and struggles to get away. Blackjack fortunately is an easy mark for the medicine; for all I know he might even like it!

Hopefully they’ll be back to 100% by Wednesday. And that we’ll have dodged the bullet without Newton and Jefferson catching it.

Cat Update

Last night I pulled out the carrying case for Blackjack and Roulette, and look where Newton was 2 minutes later:



The kittens (who, I should note, are 3-1/2 years old now, but since the cats are 9 years older, there’s little ambiguity) went to the vet yesterday. Blackjack was running a serious fever, and had an eye infection. How cats whose outdoor experience is limited to supervised outings to the upstairs porch get this ill is beyond my understanding, but we got two kinds of kitty-drugs for him. He slept hard all night and although he’s still congested this morning, I think he seems better. The vet thinks he started out with a cold (virus), and then somehow ended up with a bacterial infection.

Roulette has started sneezing too, so she gets to share the drugs.

I’ve become fanatical about washing the cats’ food dishes after feeding them, and changing their water frequently, so hopefully Newton and Jefferson will not catch the cold.

Fortunately, everyone’s been eating and drinking, so I don’t think any of this is deadly serious. But I’ll be happy when things are back to normal.

Meanwhile, I’m glad we’re not dealing with cats licking all the hair off their body, as both an old friend and a local one are handling recently.

My Boring Day

Today was less than exciting:

  1. Go to dentist. Get two cavities filled. At least he’s a really good dentist, and getting my teeth zapped by a laser is still a novelty.
  2. Lunch. Tried a new deli that opened nearby. It’s not bad.
  3. Get to work late (no duh). Have 2-1/2 hours of meetings.
  4. Writing bi-weekly status report.
  5. It’s that review time of the year, so worked on my self-review. I hate writing these things.
  6. First night of ultimate frisbee for the season!

Okay, frisbee was fun – I made two defensive plays! – but otherwise the day was blah. Tomorrow won’t be much better:

  1. Have to finish review stuff.
  2. Another meeting.
  3. Leaving early to take Blackjack and Roulette to the vet, as Blackjack has a cold and it’s time for their annual check-up anyway.

The poor guy is sniffling and sneezing and spending a lot of time either sleeping or looking like he’s nearly asleep. Hopefully some kitty-drugs will get him fixed up right quick. At least he’s still eating and drinking, ad if he weren’t then I’d be really worried.

Fortunately the weekend starts tomorrow. We might go up to Borderlands Books so I can pick up my copy of Zima Blue!

Also: The Cardinals beat the Mets to advance to the World Series, where they’ll face the Tigers. I was rooting for the Cardinals because, well, the Mets aren’t as bad as the Yankees but I still root against New York teams (sorry Peter David). I think that if both teams’ starters are on top of their game then this could be a very exciting, low-scoring World Series. That assumes that the likes of the Jeffs Weaver and Suppan can continue pitching as well as they have been. Still, if you’re gonna step up your game, it may as well be in the playoffs. I predict Tigers in 6, though.