News from June 2005

No Furniture Party

Occurred June 03, 2005 (Permalink)

Threw a No Furniture party at the house tonight. Basically, I bought chips, salsa and drinks; the hiking friends brought booze, cookies and other sweets, and some of the neighbors brought wine. I gave them all tours of the place, showed them all the greenhouse (plenty of envy, and I bet they'll be over here with plants next winter! :)) and we had a scavenger hunt to find the switch that controls the light over the back porch. Unfortunately, we didn't find it, so we all gave up and sat on the rug in the dining room and chatted until the wee hours of the morning.

The Man-Baby Washing Machine Strap

Occurred June 07, 2005 (Permalink)

Since the previous owners of this house decided to take their washer and dryer with them, I was faced with two choices: steal the crappy machines from my apartment or procure a set of my own. The two in my apartment are noisy as heck and smell of mold, so I hobbled on down to the local Sears and went around looking for big appliances. I found a couple, in the form of a Maytag frontloading washer and dryer. We'll see if they're as good or as bad as the online forums say they are. The honest review sites seemed to be fairly impressed with them, the user forums range from "worst piece of Q#)%!%! ever!" to "good machine". What's a guy to believe?

At about 15:30 this afternoon, a huge Enterprise rent-a-truck pulls up in front of my house. Two men get out, ask to be shown where the appliances should go, and get back in their truck. A minute later, they pull out a two-man straitjacket, wrap it around the washing machine, and proceed to haul the thing out of the truck as if it they were carrying it in a hammock! Scurrying over to the stairway to the basement, they pause as if unsure about something. Sure enough, the washer and the dryer are going to be a really tight fit. Luckily, the old owners had the need to remove the stairway handrail when they took out their old stuff, so the workmen were able to get the machines down the stairs with millimeters to spare! Half an hour later, I'm the proud owner of a washer and a dryer. They're quiet, unlike the old rattletraps in my apartment, and they don't smell of mold. Hooray, clean clothes here I come!

I'm still amazed that they showed up with a two man straitjacket. It reminded me of the Simpsons episode where Rainier Wolfcastle carries Homer Simpson home in a baby harness. Hah!

Just Like Old Times

Occurred June 10, 2005 (Permalink)

Once again, it is June. The month of warm, sunny weather, graduations, end-of-the-school-year parties, the beginning of relaxation and recreation, and friends going their separate ways. 347 days ago, I did just that, packing everything up, wishing a fond farewell to everyone I knew, and running off to Portland to start a new phase of life. I am still amazed at how much has changed, how many (weird and strange) things I've experienced since that move, and how much I miss some of the hobbies (music making, hiking, etc.) that I'd given up to pursue the core of my CS degree junior year. Indeed, the last two years have been a wonderful opportunity to reclaim some of my old self, while building out a new personality. Heck, I've reacquired some of the old traits: a journal, and a lot of photography. (Though this time, I have the tools and the means to share those publicly.)

Sometimes, however, onward progress is not always what we want; inevitably something has (regrettably) fallen by the wayside, and all we'd like to do is slow things down for a day, or an afternoon, to remember what it was like. This afternoon I found myself walking down Torrey Pines Beach with Steph, chatting and goofing off just like we used to do on Friday afternoons last year, when she got off work at 14:00 and I (like the lazy-arsed senior that I was) didn't really bother to do anything productive after noon. I'd meet her outside her office, we'd take the City Shuttle back to her place, don our beach paraphernalia, jump in her car and take off for the beach. Sometimes we'd toss a frisbee; other times we'd lounge around in the sand and talk, and once in a while I could goad her into going into the ocean. San Diego really does have the best beaches on the West Coast; sure, one can drive on the beach in Oregon, but the sand is gravelly and every time I go, it rains!

Err...right. Had this actually been last year, we'd have wrapped up the afternoon by retiring to her place, making one of her random recipies, and then sharing it with Brian when he was done with filming or school or whatever he was up to. This day, however, none of us had a working kitchen (or sufficient time), so we simply went to Leucadia and had pizza and salad with Brian's family.

Later that night, I went out on a food and nostalgia spree with graduating CE major Derrick Usher (offsite). The first place that we hit up was El Cotixan, the popular 24x7 Mexican restaurant where UCSD and SDSU students alike go for food at 3:30 in the morning. After that, we drove to UCSD to take pictures of various things--the empty Orientation map (img_0585), broken sprinklers, graffiti and labs in the Applied Physics and Math (AP&M) building (img_0590 - 614), the infamous upside-down Geisel Library that can't hold the weight of its own books (img_0616 - 19, 643 - 645, 659), library walk (img_0622 - 25), Career Services where I spent far too much time waiting for Steph after work last year (img_0627), and Derrick chasing a bunch of rabbits around the lawns surrounding the library (img_0646 - 54). After that, we went home because we were both very beat.

Graduation

Occurred June 11, 2005 (Permalink)

Congratulations to Brian for his wonderous achievement: graduating with a degree in MechE! At 7:30, a petulant Steph picked me up outside of Jason's apartment and whisked the two of us and her mother off to RIMAC field at UCSD for Muir's 2005 commencement ceremony. As is customary, Muir's graduation begins with a troupe of bagpipers promenading up the center aisle to the stage and continuing to play while the colorfully robed faculty and the black-robed undergraduates march smartly up to the front of the outdoor auditorium.

Following the opening remarks by Chancellor Fox, Brian went up to the podium and delivered the lead-off speech in front of the audience of 8,000 people. He began it with a toast to the end of classes, graduation, various UCSD fixtures, and the sound guy. What followed was quintessentially Brian, with his somewhat jaded sense of humor and ability to make the crowds cheer. It was quite a humorous and dignified crown to set upon five years of stirring up trouble at UCSD.

From there, graduation proceeded along pretty familiar lines--student speeches about hardships (crack, time) overcome in the process of earning a degree, various awards to overachievers, the French guy from the English Lit. department giving his yearly rambling, irrelevant, and totally pointless speech about the person for whom the award is named and not the recipient, and Patty Mahaffey's stern words about the non-clapping non-mortarboard-throwing policy. Then came the long part--850 graduates (10 of whom I knew) walking across the stage, ordered first by reverse-major and then alphabetically, and trying not to fall over themselves when Patty trips over their deliberately goofy names (Isra "Singing in the Shower Diva" Yaghoubi, indeed).

Following that, the graduates left, I ran around in the huge mob of people while Brian posed for pictures, and eventually we all retired back to Brian's sister's apartment for some delectable steaks, chicken, potato salad, and sweets. Some time later, Daniel Watts, the college student who ran for the governor's seat against Arnold Schwarzenegger, shows up with Robin, both of whom Brian knows from the Guardian (offsite).

Julian

Occurred June 12, 2005 (Permalink)

One thing that I had always wanted to do when I lived in San Diego was visit the outlying areas of east San Diego county--Anza Borrego state park, Lake Cuyamaca, Julian, El Cajon, etc. Sadly, after the Great San Diego Fire of October 2003, the area was heavily fire-damanged and thus nobody was all that enthusiastic about driving me way out there to see blackened trees. Luckily, all that changed this balmy Sunday afternoon--Brian was out talking to a welder about a roll bar, Steph had gone, Derrick was graduating and Jason was bored and in the mood for pie.

The two of us piled into his car for a road trip to Julian. We drove up I-15 to Escondido, cut over to CA78 and began the easterly trek towards the remote town of Julian. Pictures (a6120001 - 38) are from this leg of the trip. The town of Julian sits at 4,200 feet above sea level, and thus the entire first half of the trip is spent going uphill through the mountains on the highway. Along the way, I saw quite a few scenes that are very typical of California: drying out brush and hills (a6120003), sunflowers (a6120004), rock covered hills (a6120017), expensive gasoline (a6120024), absurdly straight roads (a6120030), and farms (a6120021).

Finally, we reached Julian (offsite)! The downtown area of Julian is incredibly small, consisting of a few roads orbiting Main St. Pictures (a6120039 - 47) were taken up and down this main drag of the bunches of boutique stores and apple-themes restaurants. Apparently apples are a major product of this farming town, and it shows. The two of us stopped in Mom's Pies; I must say that the lady (and her two daughters) who runs the bakery makes some pretty good pies. It's a bit unfortunate that nearly all of their pie repertoire involves apples, but not a particularly big surprise out there. Anyhow, we had pie and ice cream, and bought three full pies to gorge ourselves on later. (I towed mine all the way to Portland and it sits in my fridge uneaten.)

While in Julian, we witnessed the usual old West shenaniganry--a collection of performers in Old West costume were re-enacting some sort of rowdy gold-digging fight on the streets of the town, firing off blanks and generally making a loud ruckus for the benefit of tourists like myself. I, of course, was naturally drawn to an open lot of wild flowers (a6120048): blue and white (a6120050, 51), pink and lavender (a6120052), and red (a6120053). I'm particularly proud of the fact that I got the camera to focus upon a particular bunch of flowers while leaving the background blurry; the flowers are now part of my desktop background at work.

Jason and I set out southward on the other road out of town, CA79 to see Anza-Borrego state park. Unfortunately, the area south of Julian happened to burn pretty badly eighteen months ago, and so far only the underbrush have managed to come back. Images (a6120054 - 66) were taken en route to Lake Cuyamaca; that part of the state is a quasi-desert area that would make for some fabulous hiking; Clay and Maddy went out here two summers ago and said that they really enjoyed the time that they spent out here. I wonder if eastern Oregon looks like that.

Lake Cuyamaca is a big recreation lake with an island smack in the middle of the water. Though the areas surrounding this lake range from dry grass to very charred, I doubt that the island had much of a problem when fire raced through the area. In any case, I got out of the car to take another panorama, though I'm afraid that I didn't do a very good job of it (lake; a6120069 - 72). I also took pictures of more burnt trees and mountains (a6120078 - 86), rocky hills (a6120094), and assorted countryside scenery...

...until we got a lot closer to I-8. From there, I saw some really cool land formations: rocks creeping diagonally down to a road (a612102), the hills of East County (a6120106), Indian casino areas (a6120113), and more mountainous areas. I fell asleep on the way back, so there aren't any other pictures. Jason and I went to the Fish Market in Del Mar for dinner, as is our custom.

Wandering Around UCSD

Occurred June 12, 2005 (Permalink)

Late that evening, after Brian and Robin came back from dinner, the two of them picked me up and we went for a quick walk around UCSD. In (a6120117), I found it amusing that there are actual California statutes regarding "Public Restroom Not Available" signs outside the Rathskellar... err, El Mercado. From there, the three of us headed eastward towards the Warren Mall and the new CS building (a6120119). The thing is quite spectacular-- not only does it glow funny colors in the dark, the south entrance (to the Warren Advising office, no less) looks like some sort of prototype warp engine. Brian pointed out that the vices and virtues listed in huge neon letters atop the Powell structural engineering building rotated in opposite directions, which I had never known before!

I took some blurry pictures of Geisel Library (a6120121, 22), a gigantic stone teddy bear (a6120123) outside the new CS building, and generally spent a whole ton of time observing the CS department's new home, which has only been promised since 2003. I remember when that whole area was a big open field; now it's been plowed under by thousands of contractor pickups and buildings; a nerd habitat is all that remains. Through all this time, Robin and Brian had been wandering around in the background while I flitted about the CS building like an overheated fanboy, snapping nighttime pictures of its strange styling and flamboyant colors. Ugly Soviet bloc building this ain't.

"Snail!" squealed Robin. She saw a snail crawling its way across a concrete sidewalk; instead of mashing it, she proceed to annoy and frustrate it by picking it up, placing it in various places all over the lawn and finally giving up and chucking it in the mulch. I grabbed one more picture of "Engineering Building, Unit 1". Everybody knows that in the late 1980s, a spaceship crash-landed on the Warren mall; the UC Regents, upon seeing what had happened, immediatley established ownership over the entire structure, and thus EBU-I was opened to the general public.

We breezed through the Price Center, past the big fountain and the career services center (weekday home to a certain Steph) and into the old student center. There, Brian showed me the shell for the new Thai restaurant and the so-called "lesbian center" (the homosexual center and women's center will be adjacent). By this time, everyone was quite exhausted and Brian had to go to Bodfish to work on his Bug, so everyone departed.

La Jolla Colony Park

Occurred June 13, 2005 (Permalink)

In the good old days of yesteryear, Brian and Steph lived at about the 9 o'clock spot in a circular block next to I-5 in La Jolla. Through the middle of this circle sits a heavily manicured "passive use" La Jolla Colony park--people are allowed to show up impromptu with recreational implements, but not for organized events. I hope that my interpretation of that regulation is correct; I can't imagine going to a park and not interacting with it...

Anyway, the gist of what I'm getting at is this: I waddled off to the park after Robin dropped me in front of Jason's apartment, and decided to try my hand at nighttime photography (a6130135 - 158). For some reason last year, someone had the idea to install a semicircular concrete pad in the middle of the park at the east end of the flat lawn area; from this vantage point I set up my camera and began to take pictures. First I tried to use the camera's automatic settings; finding these not to be up to snuff, I tried again with manual control, setting the F stop to 2.8 and experimenting with shutter speeds. A fifteen second shutter produced woefully overexposed pictures (a6130140), so I quickened it to five (a6130142); perfect!

As I circumnavigated the central park in the dark, a thought crossed my mind-- I'd never done a 360-degree panorama, much less a nighttime one. (ljc_park) is the result--I set my camera down on a fencepost and proceeded to snap photos in a circle with the same settings as before. The sprinklers and the sodium lamps in the park created some rather striking halo effects, though as the photo shows, the west side of the park is a great flat grassy area. I slid up to the northwest corner of the park and snapped a few more photos; (a6130157) represents the best of my efforts to capture the glow of the lights reflecting off the water spray from the sprinklers as well as the halos of the lights.

The next day, Jason and I went for a midmorning stroll and captured (a6130001 - 11). I figured that the interested reader who's never seen this park before might be interested to see it in the daytime. Jason also wanted to point out the purple flowered trees (a6130012 - 14). Shortly thereafter, I bade him good-bye and flew back to Portland. Going home on the MAX, I captured a stunning blue and gold sunset (a6130012).

Earthquake!

Occurred June 14, 2005 (Permalink)

I'm sure that none of you care, but there was a 7.4 earthquake off the coast of Eureka. A tsunami alert (later reduced to a tsunami warning) was put out for the entire Oregon coast. As usual for this state, nothing happened.

Lazy Darrick Finishes Stitching his Panoramas

Occurred June 15, 2005 (Permalink)

I wrote a bunch of journal entries about this past weekend and stitched together all unfinished panoramas: La Jolla Colony Park (see below), Lake Cuyamaca (see the entry about Julian) and Dog Mountain (see the Mt. Defiance entry). Woo me. So yes, I do actually stitch those things together.

Grandma's Eightieth Birthday / Father's Day

Occurred June 18, 2005 (Permalink)

This weekend I went home for grandma's 80th birthday and Father's Day. Sadly, I botched Father's Day this year--as I was rushing through the drugstore just before leaving for the Bay Area, I roared towards the Father's Day section of the store, grabbed a card that had a funny car picture on it, stuffed it in my bag, and headed out. Sunday morning, I opened up the card...just in time to see "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" staring me in the face. ARRGH.

I am a doof.

Greg and Becca

Occurred June 19, 2005 (Permalink)

I met Lindy Girl at Fenton's ice cream parlor in downtown Piedmont today. Rewind: I met Greg at his grandparents' house in Berkeley at about 1pm. He brought a pizza, I brought my camera. We drove to a theater house in Lafayette where his girlfriend (Lindy Girl) was to perform in a play later that afternoon. Once we get there, Greg whips out a box from a pizza joint named Zachary's Pizza; the pizza itself had these odd concentric rings of red and green (tomato and pesto?) and a lot of cheese. The pizza's been out for only a few minutes when a woman walks up and remarks, "It's the same damn thing you were eating last time!" I have no idea why a random woman would approach us and comment about pizza, until I realize that it's Lindy Girl's mother.

The play is called Let's Go to the Movies Redux (offsite); it's a story about a playwright who gets shoe-horned into writing a musical for a small community theater that has movie songs in it and proceeds to flail about miserably (first act) before coughing up a completely terrible musical (second act) to win over the nerdy stage manager. Amusing play, and of course the second act is a riot because the "show" that the guy writes in the first act is so (deliberately) unrehearsed and terrible.

After the play is over, Lindy Girl comes out. Her real name is Becca, but for some reason Lindy Girl sounds more intriguing to her, so shall I use the name. Greg drove the three of us to Fenton's in downtown Piedmont for some ice cream. Apparently the place had been totally rebuilt since the fire in 2001; now the place is replete with 1940s ice cream parlor decor--patterened ceiling, translucent lighting, checkered tile floor, marble tables, etc. Certainly it's much more attractive than the old Fenton's was. Anyway, we had five scoops of ice cream between the three of us. Suffering from a major sugar high, we drove off....

...to Lindy Girl's mother's house in Alameda. There, they're serving very slightly alcoholic bread, watch some of her brother's amateur high school fims (think the bad parts of UCSDementia). We stay there for a while, making idle chatter until Lindy Girl breaks in and tells us that if we want to make Batman Begins, we needed to start goiong _then and theere_. They live on this amazing property towards the southeast end of Alameda island--though there are two craftsman houses visible from the street, this isn't her place. Their place is a bunch of buildings on a largish lot at the end of an alleyway. Very exotic! :)

We saw Batman Begins, noted afterward that Steph called both of us looking for a good time, and went our separate ways.

You quoted her wrong! It was Becca's mom, and she said "Its the same damn thing you were eating last time!"

Fixed.

Apricots

Occurred June 20, 2005 (Permalink)

Quickie: Went to Menlo, chatted with Mrs. Jeffers for a bit, met Woodley/Steven, missed Thibodeaux, ate pastrami on baguette at Cafe Borrone as usual, forgot to get glasses adjusted, went to Woodley's, played with tablets, picked almost ripe apricots and ate them. Then flew home, wrote these entries and posted some random pictures of friends' trip to Mt. Hood. I was not there on that hike.

Moved

Occurred June 25, 2005 (Permalink)

I have completely moved out of the apartment and into the house. Farewell, Beaverton. The ivy removal is going according to plan; phase 1 (removal of ivy that's dangerously close to the house) is complete. Phase 2 (removal of overgrown ivy) is in progress. Monday afternoon I'm meeting with a contractor to go over his estimate for work to be done on the house. I am now an east sider for good. Yay!

You forgot one thing that happened: "Transferred to Boston..." ;-)

Yes, that's right. I also told the leasing office that I was being transferred to Boston...

I think I speak for everyone when I say, "We want pictures of the new place!" So, yeah, let me know when you get all unpacked enough to take 'em.

Bigger Than Jesus

Occurred June 26, 2005 (Permalink)

I went to the one and only performance of Rick Emerson (offsite)'s Bigger Than Jesus (offsite). The show consisted of Lara's husband Rick performing a one-man show about his first fifteen years as a rock fan. I found out quite a bit about his past, why he likes music so much, where he's gone and what his shows were like. A pity that he's off the air in Portland right now; I think I might actually have liked to listen to Star Trek geeks and the usual bunch of oddball characters in this city carousing the airwaves in the middle of the day. The rock stuff... I'm not such a big fan of anymore; as I was saying to Lara at the Barley Mill after the show, the next CD I get will probably be Ella Fitzgerald. Really, this shouldn't be so hard; Music Millenium is 40 blocks west of me on Burnside. Anyhow, it was quite interesting to see the reasons behind his development as a rock and roll fan--why he was driven to it, where it took him, etc. Probably not such a big revelation for the rest of the audience, which mostly consisted of his loyal listeners. But heck, it's been a while since I saw such an enthusiastic crowd.

Burglary

Occurred June 27, 2005 (Permalink)

This morning, I went to my apartment to collect the mail. Much as I hate the blasted place, I do feel compelled to pay the bills on time. Anyway... I slip the key into the lock, open the door, and... there are footprints on the carpet. What's more, there are paw prints all over the counters, and telltale pine needles on the floor. Slowly I back out the door... the porch is free of all pine needles. This is turning surreal; as the skies turn iridescent blue and the trees turn red, I black out.

Oh crap. Someone broke into my apartment over the weekend! First time in my life that someone entered my residence without asking, without my permission, and without my approval. What a violation! On the bright side, they spent their time to pick the lock, open the door, only to discover...nothing. All my stuff was gone on Friday, of course, which means that whoever or whatever it is was too late. Ha! Score one for me! The local move-in/out thieves were too darn slow. Suckers!

Later that afternoon I telephoned the leasing office to inquire about what I should do. Dan-the-leasing-man says: "Oh. Yeah. Your neighbor called the maintenance office over the weekend to get her cat out of your apartment. Didn't they leave a note? No? Perhaps they thought the apartment was already vacant. I'll speak to them about this. But yeah, their cat must have slipped in on your way out."

Bloody cats! I just knew that thing would find its way in at some point, and I'd have to shoo it out. Darn neighbors don't keep their cat reined in. The thing got locked in, jumped up on the kitchen counter, left dirty paw prints all over it, freaked out, tore up the metal blinds, cut itself up to heck, and left bloody paw prints all over the wall, the shelf, and the carpet. In another light I might have cooed "Aww... poor kitty!" but this is annoying. Now I got to clean the place again. Oh well, the frozen food had to be evacuated anyway.

Moral of the story: Don't let your cats get into other people's houses.

One Year of Oregon

Occurred June 27, 2005 (Permalink)

Today, I visited the Multnomah County elections office, the DMV, and the post office to change my addresses. Coincidentally, I noticed that this is the first day of my second year living in Portland, Oregon. All I can say is "wow" at how much stuff has happened in the last year (heck, the last three months) that I never would have otherwise expected. Even better--the second year will be lived in a fabulous place that's oh-so-close to the things that I like. I should stop gushing before you all stop reading.

MAX to Work

Occurred June 30, 2005 (Permalink)

Eighty minutes to and from work every day. I seriously need to get a bike.

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