News from November 2004

Overhaul Done!

Occurred November 03, 2004 (Permalink)

The overhaul that I started on this site last December is now done. All pages should be using the new page layout/build system and the navigation should work correctly. Email me any complaints, though I'm still working on the directory listing scripts. Also, the trees have turned and Beaverton is brightly colored in reds and yellows and oranges. Quite brilliant; haven't seen something like this since my Oct. 1999 trip to Boston.

Harvey's Comedy Club

Occurred November 04, 2004 (Permalink)

After work today I jumped on the MAX and went downtown to Harvey's Comedy Club (offsite) on NW 6th Avenue. There, I met a friend who'd won a fistful of tickets to some of the club's nightly performances. We went inside (it was cold outside!), ordered some food and drinks, and sat down to await the comedians. While we waited, we chattered about all sorts of stuff--work, the city, what we'd done to amuse ourselves, and fun things to do during the winter; the end result of the evening being that we now have a few suggestions for future outings! I'm pleased. Out of the corner of my eye, I observed the maitre'd spending an hour trying to cram all the patrons into the lounge, as the place was jam-packed! Harvey's must be the place to go on Thursdays...

Around eight or so, the first guy, WWF's "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, came on. He was a heavyweight pro wrestler in the 1980s (beats me; I was a little bratkid during that time.) He talked about his early experiences in Utah fighting a guy who weighed twice as much as he did, and a fight in Fresno against a Kodiak bear. 'Twas highly amusing to hear him talk about trying to subdue a hungry bear after the trainer smeared honey all over the fighter before the fight. I quite enjoyed this part of the act. Apparently Piper is scheduled to kick off some one-man show around the world in a week, or thereabouts.

Next came a guy from Tacoma who told a few jokes and lead in to the primary entertainment of the night: Andres Fernandes, a Latino comedian from New York. He told quite a few yarns about his wife, his kids, various stories from his upbringing, and quite a few comparisons to the differences between his wife and himself. Granted, this is a topic well trodden by many a comedian (and some hacks like myself), but it did have Bonnie and I chuckling quite a bit throughout the evening. We enjoyed ourselves, and cheaply too! Gotta love Portland, where even the people ranting and raving at the bus stops are coherent...

Dinner at Ana's

Occurred November 05, 2004 (Permalink)

This morning, when I woke up, I said to myself, "I'm going to take pictures of all the red and yellow trees that I can see on my way to work, and mail a letter to Steph." So that's what I did--got my camera, took tree pictures and visited the post office. The trees around here are very spectacular right now--I remember seeing the leaves turn red in the fall as a kid, missed that entirely during college, and am now elated to see it again. Unfortunately, it's colder here. But the sun was out, so I figured I'd do something relaxing before kernel hacking. This paragraph is irrelevant to the story below.

For the uninitiated, Ana is one of the people in my hiking group that went to Mt. Jefferson last month. I had not seen any of them since the backpacking trip, so I proposed that we all get together and cook dinner some day. Ana obtained a great slab of salmon last week and volunteered her place for our cooking efforts. Many thanks to her for hosting!

I was told to bring wine and salad ingredients; Eliza brought spaghetti squash, and between David and Lara, someone brought mashed potatoes, a lot more wine, bread and cheese, and some delectable stuffed mushrooms. There were a bunch of other friends of Lara and Ana--perhaps they brought other stuff too. The wine that I got was a 2001 Willamette Valley (vineyard) Pinot Noir; people generally seemed impressed with it. That's good, since I have no idea what's good around here. Or anywhere.

By the time I arrived at 19:05, the appetizers were out and the cooking was well under way. Because Dave and Ana had already put together two glass dishes' worth of salmon and Eliza's squash...appeared fully cooked...out of nowhere, I put my mad cooking skills to use and expertly chopped a carrot, poured some wine, and stood around talking to people. I think I was supposed to do a bit more of the cooking and such, but in truth, with that many people in the kitchen, dishes get cooked very rapidly, bottlenecked only by collisions.

With the food cooking, the rest of us got down to chatter. Unfortunately, by this time the wine had started to go to my head (ok, it was coursing through my arteries headed straight for my brain) and I vaguely remember talking about politics, the free software movement, and snowshoeing. I remember wandering through Ana's apartment looking at her collection of masks and books and the complete lack of a television set, and being impressed. Portland and the people in it amuse me--they're far more intriguing than a lot of the San Diegans, alas. Too bad San Diego has arguably better weather. But we have more green. In any case she has a cozy little place that's far better decorated than mine, even though I've been in my apartment much longer. She actually has _decorations_ on the wall.

Then it was time for dinner. Dinner consisted of a huge helping of salmon, the salad that got assembled behind my back when I wasn't looking, and mashed potatoes. Some how I remember square plate of food being split into four quadrants...but I don't recall what went into the fourth corner. Oh well. In any case, dinner was delicious and very well done. Quite a pleasure to be a part of the comraderie and group cooking effort. We sat around chattering until close to 1 when we all left. And no, this time we didn't have alcohol-spiked coffee.

Pesto Bowtie Pasta...with Beef

Occurred November 06, 2004 (Permalink)

Today was a lazy Saturday. The only thing of note that I did was fix the search function on this site and cook up a huge pot of food. I took a recipe for Bowtie Pasta with Pesto and Tomato and add some beef and cheese to the mix. Quite delicious, and yet another weird experiment on my part.

Astoria and Seaside

Occurred November 07, 2004 (Permalink)

Today's adventure takes us to the coastal towns of Astoria and Seaside. Bonnie, who I met through MiPL, had expressed an interest in going to Astoria to get some seafood; I remarked that I'd be interested in seeing that part of Oregon because I'd never been there, so we decided to try for Sunday.

Sunday rolls around and we head off towards the coast. Luckily, it seems that we picked a good day to go to the coast--air temperature is relatively warm, there are no sign of storm clouds yet it's not so warm that the beach bums are out. Anyway, we headed westward on 26 past miles of farmland, trees and river before turning north on 101 towards Astoria. Many more miles of trees followed, until we crossed a drawbridge into the city.

The city of Astoria appears to be a fairly simple port town at the mouth of the Columbia river. The main tourist attraction in town is a big column at the top of a nearby hill; aside from this, the town exists solely to be a small port for cruise ships and tankers. Why else would there be steakhouses with names like "Stephanie's Cabin"? Astoria seems to be the place where one would go for great seafood fresh off the ships, but not a whole lot else. Anyway, we drove through town, past the base of the 101 bridge over to Washington state, and up a hill to the column.

199 years ago, Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific Ocean by following the banks of the Columbia river. It should come as no surprise, then, that the tall obelisk on the hill overlooking the mouth of said river should be a tribute to the expedition. Standing about 175 feet tall, a promenade at the top offers spectacular views of the town below, the gorge, and the mighty Pacific. From there I took the pictures seen in ab070001 - 30; those photos are labelled with whatever they depict, or whichever direction I was facing. I went to the top and took pictures all the way around.

The next stop was the jettys on the mouth of the Columbia river; they are located slighty north of west from the Column. There's not a whole lot to see out here--just a lot of rocks and...the ocean! I had not smelt the sea salts since the trip to Cannon Beach in August; it was quite refreshing. The jetty is basically a big line of rocks that extends quite a ways out into the ocean. South of us was an isolated beach; according to Bonnie, one can actually drive vehicles out onto the beach in Oregon. Quite amazing. I also snapped some photos of the rock formations on the jettys before the bugs drove me away. (Pictures ab070031 - 41)

Having our fill of the ocean, we headed south on 101 back to Seaside for some seafood. Turns out that Bonnie had already bought some seafood yesterday, and astute readers will notice that I already have a big pot of food for leftovers. But--fish and chips are good, when done properly. So downtown we went; see pictures ab070042 - 48 for details. Ordinarily this town is crammed to the hilt with tourists and Oregonians; now that it's November and cold, most of them are gone. As the pictures show, this little town is full of old buildings and brand new ocean-side condos--your average little beach town. Probably not a bad place to go during the early summer before the masses show up.

By this time it was near 16:15 and we were hungry. We stopped in a place called Sam's Seaside Cafe (offsite) for some food. The cup of chowder that I ordered was a little salty but otherwise quite tasty and full of lots of strange tasting morsels of seafood. However, I was quite blown away by their fish and chips--freshly fried, piping hot, not too greasy, and not too much flour. Arguably, this dish was the best fish and chips that I've ever had! Usually the fish is cold or covered in oil or dough. Not this place--just meat and tartar sauce; this was definitely worth the trip.

The sun was beginning to set by the time we finished up, so we headed back to Portland after that, only to be stymied by a huge traffic jam that was stuck behind a huge accident on 26. That set us back by thirty minutes, but the company was good.

Anna in the Tropics

Occurred November 09, 2004 (Permalink)

Tuesday night, Portland Center Stage previewed their production of Anna in the Tropics, a tale about a lector in 1929 Miami who reads great literary works to Cuban cigar factory laborers, stirring up their emotions with the wily tales of romantic women. As the title hints gently, the book in question is Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. There seemed to be a desire within the play to make the characters' lives resemble those of Anna..., though a fair amount of the play focused on the role that the lectors played in coloring their workers' lives. Not a bad play, but it's not London. :P

The real spectacle came _after_ the play--in the rotunda of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, there were free appetizers and salsa dancing! The couple who were demonstrating the dance were from Fernando's Bar a few blocks away. I should have asked one of the ladies I was with to have a go at the salsa lessons that they were giving for free, but I was far too engrossed in a delightful chocolate confection that had soft chocolate on the outside and banana bread inside.

Pictures of Autumn

Occurred November 11, 2004 (Permalink)

I added some pictures to the collection of tree change photos. Scroll to the bottom of the page.

Tales from the Vienna Ballroom

Occurred November 12, 2004 (Permalink)

Friday evening was awesome! The Oregon Symphony (offsite) is trying to attract yuppies to their concerts, so they threw a private party before and after Friday's waltz program. Naturally, I simply _had_ to go to this event! Not that I mind the waltz; why, it's the biggest dance craze to hit 1850s Europe!

Friday afternoon, I worked extra hard to get all my work done. The day had already been compressed by my DMV visit; it was further strained by my insistence upon being downtown to meet Bonnie by 17:30. That I did--amazingly, she was waiting for me outside the Schnitzer when I strolled up from the train stop. We stood out in the bitter cold for a good forty minutes to see if Paul would show up with the tickets...and finally decided that we'd grab a few sandwiches at a deli across the street while we waited. The sandwiches were decent though not particularly tasty, though I attribute that to frozen tastebuds. This city sure gets cold sometimes.

We could see the cocktail party starting to wind up across the street. With dinner consumed, we hopped through the crosswalk into the newly finished ArtBar in the lobby of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts building. There we met Paul who had our tickets, ate random bits of food from skewers, and wondered where we were supposed to get the alcoholic drinks. At 19:15 it occured to us that we ought to head into the Schnitzer...

For those who've never visited the Arlene Schnitzer concert hall downtown, a short history: Way back in 1927, the Fox theater opened on Broadway in Portland. As was the custom of the times, they built an enormous, ornately decorated edifice for the viewer's pleasure--gigantic Wurlitzer organ in the front, exquisite plaster carvings up and down the sides of the movie-house that even had gold plated leaves, several levels of seats, a splendid lobby with marble walls, and art-deco decorations all over the place. A few years later the theater was sold to Paramount, and after the 1950s it began to decay until the city condemned it and then fixed it up in the 1980s. As such, it is now one of Portland's premiere concert and show venues, despite the acoustics being (reportedly) subpar in parts. In any case, it's poised to impress, with the maze of hallways that go all over the building, and the enormous cantaloupe ceiling in the main hall.

...so we went in. Due to a planning snafu, Bonnie and I ended up on one side of an aisle and Paul ended up on the other...oh well. The line of sight to the stage was decent and the sound quality good. Quite fortunate, as the design of this particular concert demanded a seat with both. From the title of this article, one might guess that the evening program's theme was a trip through time--the conductor sought to enlighten the audience about the origins of the waltz; to do this, he and a lady in red would tell a story about the propagators of the waltz craze (mainly Lanner and the Strauss clan) and then play a waltz. As a special treat, six members of the Oregon Ballet troupe danced to the music.

To start off the evening, the symphony played Johann Strauss Jr.'s Furioso Polka (op. 260). After that, the conductor, Carlos Kalmar, began to speak; he introduced the waltz as a faster-paced offshoot of "German dances" that Mozart and others had tried to produce; he then played Mozart's Six German Dances (K. 600). Reportedly, Brahms, Schubert and Beethoven were regulars at performances of the waltz! Next, Kalmar spoke of the divergent paths of Joseph Lanner and Johann Strauss Sr. Quite obviously, Strauss was more successful at commercializing the waltz; in any case, I found Strauss's style to be a bit more flowing and perhaps better for dancing. Lanner's Schonbrunner Waltzes (op. 200), Strauss Jr.'s Artist's Quadrille (op. 201) and Strauss Sr.'s Lorelei-Rhine Sounds Waltzes (op. 154) accompanied this part of the conductor's lecture and finished off the first half. The ballet dancers alternated their styles--sometimes they would dance a straight waltz; other times they would lead off a round of such twirling and tossing and playfulness that I only wish I could try. :P They came out for the German dances and the Quadrille.

At the beginning of the second half of the evening, we witnessed the transition from one generation of Strausses to the next. After the death of Strauss Sr, Strauss Jr. found himself to be quite in demand. In fact, Johann Strauss Jr. was so busy conducting dance music that he put this haggard feeling into a piece called Perpetual Motion (op. 257). The piece literally didn't stop--the same phrases repeated themselves over and over and over, until the conductor became fed up and stopped with a laugh. Next came the Acceleration Waltz (op. 234), a piece that somehow maintained the same time scale yet messed with the tempo of the dance over and over again. The dance beat would get faster and faster...until all of the sudden it would hiccup and go back to a slow pace. That piece surely drove the dancers crazy when they first heard it!

The next stop on our tour of the waltz was Josef Strauss. Johann Jr. found the care and feeding of a full orchestra to be very very taxing on his health and his sanity, so he retired to a lake to recuperate and put his brother in charge of the Strauss empire. Josef, in fact, became a very popular and well-liked composer and conductor around Austria--so much that he and his brother even collaborated a few times! Most of the pieces by Josef that the symphony played weren't really waltzes; they were instead polkas, which were even faster than the waltzes we'd heard previously. In this segment, we heard Josef's Swallows of Austria Waltzes, the Pizzicato Polka, and a joint effort called the Chatterbox Fast Polka (op. 245). The dancers came out for the last piece.

At this juncture, the lector altered his attentions to focus on celebratory waltzes. As Kalmar himself said, "One could use trace fifty years of European history through the waltzes written by the Strauss family!" Certainly this was true--Strauss Jr.'s Egyptian March (op. 335) latched on to the world's growing fascination with ancient Egypt; Edvard Strauss' Clear Track Polka seems to be promenading about fast trains--something I can't say I disagree with. It goes without question that On the Beautiful Blue Danube (op. 314) came up in this part of this program--it nearly became the theme song of the Habsburg Empire, and is very well known even today. The dancers gave their final performance of the evening, with a particularly fancy display of dancing, with flourishes aplenty and grandiose figures everywhere. People who can really dance (as one would hope of ballet dancers) are quite spectacular!

Kalmar closed off the program with the observation that the waltz never quite goes out of style--it lurks behind the next corner, or in the shadows, waiting for a chance to spring out and surprise everybody. He was, of course, referring to the Radetzky March of Strauss Sr. With the evening concluded, we retired back across the street for some more cocktails and chit-chat.

As it turns out, Anna in the Tropics had its opening night on Friday as well--so there were two parties in the same building! One for the theatre patrons and one for the symphony patrons. Quite spectacular that they could cram both into the same lobby! The conductor came over to the symphony party, gave a quick speech about how long it had taken to organize a joint program involving both the orchestra and the ballet, and that this was actually the first time they had managed to do both. In any case, I had a blast, and ended up chatting with other MiPLers who had decided (independently) to go to the symphony the same night. (This was not an event.) What a Friday! Waltzes are a perfect way to unwind after a stressful morning. I'm glad I went.

I am an Oregonian!

Occurred November 12, 2004 (Permalink)

As of today I'm officially an Oregonian. Went to the DMV, got a new license and reregistered to vote. So it's official: I'm committed to staying in Oregon, at least for the next few years.

Habitat for Humanity

Occurred November 17, 2004 (Permalink)

Instead of going to work today, my work group and I went out to the Habitat for Humanity construction site in Aloha. H4H was attempting to finish up a couple of houses before Christmas, so our work wasn't particularly difficult--half the work was applying primer to doors, mouldings and baseboards, and the rest involved laying down wooden tracks for pouring concrete, compacting rock, hauling dirt, erecting decorative posts on the porches, installing shelving, and screwing plywood onto the porch rafters. I enjoyed myself, but wish that we could have done more actual building construction and less finishing work. But--since it is mid-November, having a roof would have been a huge bonus if it had rained that day.

Enigmatic Music

Occurred November 20, 2004 (Permalink)

After the scavenger hunt of Saturday afternoon, I retired to the local Rock Bottom with other MiPLers who apparently cared about the OSU-Oregon U. game. I, on the other hand, chatted with the people who had simply come along for the ride to socialize. After dinner I headed uptown to the symphony hall where I met Michael and Dana for the first serious MiPL event that I was hosting. Tonight's symphony program was entitled "Enigma Variations" and featured works from Janacek, Rachmaninoff and Elgar that took a particular theme and then tried to construct musical phrases that revolved around it.

The performance started off late due to a "problem with the second trombonist's children". The first piece was Janacek's Taras Bulba, a story about Cossacks, followed by Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and concluding with all fourteen of Elgar's Variations on an Original Theme. The performance was competently played, though the music lacked some of the conducting fire of the waltzes that I heard last week. But I may be biased, as I like waltzes a bit more than Elgar.

Once the performance was over, the three of us headed to the South Park that is, well, across the park from the concert hall. The South Park, incidentally, is the restaurant with the fish coming out of the corner. We had dessert and port, which is to say that I had some strange pear confection, Michael had creme brulee and Dana simply had a drink. I found port to be somewhat sweet and surprisingly strong...but then I know nothing of drinks.

Downtown Scavenger Hunt

Occurred November 20, 2004 (Permalink)

Saturday afternoon, I headed downtown for Susan's Photographical Scavenger Hunt. We numbered about forty, so we were broken up into groups of five and told to run around downtown looking for twenty-five items to photograph. Fortunately, the other members of my group were very enthusiastic (I was trying to de-thaw my face) and knew downtown much better than I did. My group consisted of Brian the photographer, Ines, Trish and Sherrie--people who have lived here far longer than I. Consequently, the four of them proceeded to take me on a grand merry tour of metropolitan Portland--we went northwest to Burnside St. in search of dress-up clothes (some store that will remain unnamed refused to let us do it), to an athletic club to take pictures of a pool, and hugged a couple taking wedding pictures.

From there we headed north into the Pearl to molest and annoy fruit and shoppers alike at Whole Foods, and east to the Portland Saturday Market to corner a hapless mailman and pose with silly hats. We dropped into a clothing store to get a Cowboys and Indians picture-- amusingly the proprietor remarked that he gets several scavenger hunt groups in there a month! From there, we went south to make a human "HI" outside the fire station and later pretended to be a rock band inside a guitar shop.

Next, we headed back towards Pioneer Courthouse Square. We stopped inside one of the indoor malls downtown to snap some shots of annoying pre-Thanksgiving Christmas displays; apparently the tattoo-kissing shot was taken there without me knowledge! At that point, Ines announced that we were getting close to the 4pm deadline, so we hurriedly snapped a picture of heart necklace (the chain of love, you see), accosted two police officers for pictures of the women kissing him, an amusing shot of the four of us trying to go the wrong way through a revolving door, and two blocks away we photographed ourselves trying to break into a locked church.

So yes, I've molested a woman and shredded on the keyboard. She was quite cold to me afterwards. And now my dream of being in a rock band is complete.

Arrival at Steph's

Occurred November 23, 2004 (Permalink)

Today I woke up at the crack of dawn to catch a bus to the airport, flew down to UCLA and by 1pm was chatting with Steph in her new work digs, the Counseling Assistance office in the basement of Murphy Hall at UCLA! Thus began the first day of my six day tour of Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego for Thanksgiving. Truth be told, LA is a major contrast from Portland--I was utterly shocked to find people driving 85mph up 405. Steph explained to me that in LA, 80 on the freeway is slow; driving slowly and passively means that one never reaches one's destination. And to think, she used to be a laid back driver...

After a quick lunch with Steph at a nearby cafe, I headed out to roam around the UCLA campus, as I had never seen it before, and she had to *gasp* do some work. The Powell library is an enormous brick building with a marvelous wood panel interior; I was immediately jealous. Geisel Library at UCSD is quite ugly by comparison. I wandered through various buildings (and even found the GSEIS building where Steph's classes are held) until 15:30, when I went back to Murphy to help Steph carry some materials across campus for a workshop she was holding in the freshman dorms. Regrettably, not a single person showed up to her seminar...but on the other hand we got to leave early and go play.

In a stunning display of coincidence, we met Christine, a friend of mine from UCSD, right outside of Murphy. Earlier I had made plans with her for the three of us to have dinner at her parents' house, but I had wondered how well the rendezvous was going to work. With this part done, we got on the bus and headed southeast. Thirty minutes and an inadvertent nap later, a groggy Darrick was pulled off the bus by two women and into Trader Joe's for supplies. After that, Christine showed us her parents' house--a well decorated and moderately large 1940s house in the Westwood (?) region of LA. (Careful readers may note that I've spent a considerable amount of time ogling old houses in SE Portland.)

Dinner was chicken and linguine in pesto sauce. Actually, Steph and I didn't do a whole lot, as Christine's dinner was quite simple to prepare and we seemed to be more in a mood to sit around and chat. And sit we did--we plopped down on the floor of the kitchen while I told them stories of the fun things that I've done in Portland and my future housing plans. Alas, the hour grew late and so Steph and I went back to her place. There we sat around talking for several hours, the net effect of which was to reassure me that our friendship remains intact, despite our mutual and idiotic efforts to screw things up. This made the entire trip quite worthwhile and set my mind at ease.

Santa Monica and Malibu

Occurred November 24, 2004 (Permalink)

On the second day, I awoke at the "early" hour of 8am because Christine took the day off work to show me around the area. I saw the Santa Monica pier and associated promenade on 3rd avenue, and an English goods supply store where I picked up some Wine Gums for Melissa. Next was In N Out Burger, the front door of a museum that was probably as strange as it looked, Around the World in Eighty Days, and finally a funky sculpture collection outside of the building where Christine had her afternoon classes that day. Since she had class, we said farewell and I headed back towards the south side of campus to do a little more sightseeing.

I had an hour or so to kill, so I took off in the direction of the engineering buildings and continued to wander around, taking in the sights and snapping photos on Steph's camera (I foolishly forgot mine and realized that mistake when I was travelling to the Portland airport on the MAX). At 15:30, I again went off in search of Steph in the hopes that her office would shut down early for the holiday. I wasn't disappointed, because we got some more time to play! :)

Steph was disappointed that I'd already managed to see most of the (admittedly few) things that she'd managed to visit in LA since September. Not wanting to let her feel too bad, I suggested that we go out car-exploring like we used to do last spring in San Diego. We struck out north on the Pacific Coast Highway towards Malibu and didn't stop till we got there. We made a brief stop at Pepperdine University, as they seemed to have a great view of the (now dark) Pacific Ocean. Steph wasn't terribly impressed by the boringness of the buildings on the campus, though they're better looking than some of the monstrosities lurking at UCSD. Better bland than freakishly ugly, I say...

Next we stopped off for some dinner in a cafe down the road from something called Coogie's (the name made Steph laugh). After some productive and lively banter, we decided to head back to LA because we were facing an early morning departure. Once we got back to Steph's, I put The Graduate in her DVD player, because she liked the Simon and Garfunkel music, and I had never seen the movie before. We sat on her roommate's sofa-turned-guest-bed; my trenchcoat is so large on her that she wrapped herself up in it for warmth as if the coat were a blanket.

Thanksgivings

Occurred November 25, 2004 (Permalink)

Thursday morning, Steph and I dragged ourselves out of bed, and into her car, which promptly drove us southwards to Fountain Valley, for a Thanksgiving lunch with her family at Mimi's Cafe. They're quite a big clan; the gathering reminded me of the old days when my mother's family had reunions. Without the strange yelling in Chinese. In any case, we all retired to Steph's parents' house after lunch, where some played foosball; Steph, Brian and I threw a frisbee around in the park that borders their property. Until she moved to LA, it would seem that Steph has a penchant for living near to parks. Of course, there are no parks in LA near the university...

Shortly thereafter Brian and I left and went hiking in the foothills above Laguna Hills. We conversed about all manners of topics, like fixing up old houses, what he planned to do about the future, etc. I think I might just enjoy fixing up an old house, as I'm certainly young enough to learn a lot about how one does it, and not so old that I have kids (or even a wife) to look after. I'm really looking forward to getting this started in 2005, once I have all the California-to-Oregon stuff finalized. Still need to take care of the car registration.

Getting back to the original topic, Brian and I had a quick dinner with his mother and sister that evening, followed by dessert at a friend of his mother's, whose deck was built in the shape of a ship's prow. Friday of Thanksgiving week was dinner with Brian's family--his sister and mother, Steph and her family, and me. We actually borrowed his grandparents' apartment in Leisure World for that, and had ourselves a marvelous turkey dinner. Jason appeared for dessert, and after the food was done, Jason and I headed down to San Diego while Steph, Brian and Colleen drove north to see Brian's father. Alas, this was where we parted ways.

Return to San Diego

Occurred November 27, 2004 (Permalink)

Friday night, Jason and I watched Everwood. Saturday, we got up kinda late and wandered off to UCSD. There's been an amazing amount of change on that campus since I moved away five months ago--the CS and CalIT^2 buildings are nearly done and quite glassy. There's a new shell of a building in the Medical School, and the Pepper Canyon lecture hall building is now open. The new lecture hall is quite...orangey. Looks like something out of the 1970s. Ugly. In any case, the seats in that lecture hall are really comfortable, and the AV equipment is nice and new. There are also several suites of offices on the upper floors. Not too bad of a building, in my opinion.

After we were done with that, we went down to Jason's office, where he showed me a rack cabinet on wheels. Since we were right next to Pacific Beach, we took a short (and cold) walk along the beach, grabbed some food at the PB Fatburger and went home to watch Eurotrip. Not an especially good movie.

Sunday morning, I treated my cousin Lauri out to dim sum at Emerald Restaurant. 'twas quite enlightening to find out just how one orders the little dim sum plates, and approximately how much the dishes cost. I think I did a decent job ordering, especially considering that I usually just point at the food. But I was a little bratty kid in the past, so I could get away with it.

After lunch, I went for a quick stroll in the little park that is next to Steph and Brian's old apartment. The grass was torn up in big non-geometric forms for re-seeding. Amazing how much can change in less than half a year. It was quite nostalgia-inducing to walk through the grass and remember how Steph and I used to walk through the park in the afternoons on our way to the beach or for dinner, or to play frisbee. It was in this park where Steph frantically ran from a swarm of bees that I couldn't see. Such memories!

After my stroll, Jason and I went to the beach. As is our wont, we drove out to the beach just south of the Las Penasquitos lagoon and hiked up the hill. There had been intense rain Saturday night, so the air was clear and we could literally see for miles and miles! To our huge dismay, neither of us had thought to bring our cameras with us, so I lack any interesting photographs. We clambered down the cliffs to the beach (_on_ the trails, I might add) and I stood on a big rock watching hang gliders and glider planes soaring noiselessly through the air.

The next leg of our journey was a long car ride to the Fry's in San Marcos. Jason had never been to a themed Fry's store; both Sacramento and San Diego stores are ugly retreads of the Incredible Universe chain. For those who have never been, the theme of the San Marcos Fry's appears to be Waterworld. The store are huge tanks with fish, corals and scuba diving gear. When we went in, it was light out and clear; an hour later it was still clear, but the desert that is San Marcos had dropped nearly twenty degrees! We decided that it was time for dinner.

Dinner was at Casa de Pico in San Diego's old town district. Unlike Portland's old town district, San Diego's is touristy but clean--no vagabonds lying in wait there! Jason and I loaded ourselves up on a huge quantity of food at the restaurant--I think that has to count as Thanksgiving Dinner No. 3. We went back to his place after that and watched The Ring and went to bed. Very early Monday morning, he drove me to the airport and I flew back to Portland. I took the MAX straight to work, and amazingly enough had the energy to go Scottish Country dancing in the evening. Thus ends the account of my fabulous trip to LA. Hope to see Steph and Brian soon.

Goose Hollow

Occurred November 30, 2004 (Permalink)

Tonight's MiPL adventure takes us to the Goose Hollow and Southwest Hills neighborhoods of downtown Portland. From the Goose Hollow MAX station, we trudged up what seemed like hundreds of steps until we were quite high above the city, in the neighborhood of SW 19th and Montgomery streets. Up there were some wonderful houses--big and old, and now with ornate Christmas dressings! Many people leave their blinds open in the evenings to allow passers-by to gaze inside at the decorations--ceilings with bars cris-crossing, maroon walls, fancy furniture, etc. Tom (the guide) did a thorough job of scouting out the area beforehand--he knew of all sorts of unlit trails, hidden staircases and exclusive-looking roads that I never would have found by myself.

There are quite a lot of different building styles in that area--along SW Mill there are a lot of blocky looking buildings that can't be more than 30 years old. Further along the path on SW Vista the houses become significantly older; I'd say that many of them are about the same age as the houses in SE Portland. These houses were obviously built for the affluent--many have multiple stories and columns holding up a veranda; one of them even had a detached greenhouse! This is indeed life in the lap of luxury, if one can afford it.

At the top of the hill, we had quite a splendid view of downtown. Had it not been foggy and drizzly, I am sure that I could have seen all the way to the Hawthorne district across the river. However, the grayness lended a sort of surreal painting quality to the view that I really appreciated. Office lights outlined the various skyscrapers in the city, cars roared by on highway 26 far below us, and I could faintly make out the lights of the Fremont (I-405) bridge in the distance.

After the walk, I and a few others were hungry. We retired to the Goose Hollow Inn acros the street from the MAX station from which we departed, and chatted for a while. The Inn has wonderful (but incredibly rich) reuben sandwiches, which I enjoyed while Lisa, Tom, Larry, Trevor(?) and I talked about MiPL events of the past week, where we think the group will be heading, why the group is so popular in the first place, and modes of interaction between men and women.

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