Friday, December 25, 2009

TMI

We got a huge pile of cards in the mail yesterday -- I don't think we even got around to opening them all before we left for our plane-viewing activity. While reading some, I marveled at the level of detail in the letters summing up the year. Do I really need to know what levels your kid has completed in some video game? Or which one of your kids placed higher with their calf at the county fair? I guess their lives are so interesting that they need to give us every detail. Much more interesting than ours, since we had such an uneventful year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Still preocuppied with 1995

Perhaps I'm feeling sentimental because it's Christmas, or maybe I'm just getting old, but there are a couple developments that came to my attention yesterday that I just can't get out of my head.

First, there's the second X Files movie, which came out last year but which I only just saw, for some reason. I have many problems with this movie, but the biggest one is the only one that really needs mentioning: THERE ARE NO ALIENS!!!! None! Not a one! Not even a hint of one! That was the whole point of the series, right? The whole plot of the movie is about a psychic priest and some Russian guys doing head transplants. Whoop-dee-doo. Sure, this could have been a great episode back in the days of the occasional one-off creepiness as a break from the usual alien-coverup plot line (Eugene Tombs, anyone?). But in a movie you expect something overwhelming, earth-cracking, a universe-splitting plot development or twist. Maybe the priest could have had a vision of Mulder's sister. Anything, really! Even just a hint that there might be some future movie that ACTUALLY HAS ALIENS!

Then there's this Madonna problem, which is somewhat more disturbing because of what it says about American womanhood. Take a look. Yes, that's Madonna. Yeah, it sorta-kinda looks like her, but not really, because she's had so much plastic surgery that she doesn't really look like herself any more! How does that happen when you have a bazillion dollars and can hire the best plastic surgeons in the world?

Now, this wouldn't be nearly so disturbing if she was merely famous and talented and old like, say, Sigourney Weaver, who is lovely and normal-looking and fabulous at age 60-- yes, 60! Maybe she's had some work done, but she looks like herself. But Madonna is an icon, and not an icon like in the Project Runway throwing-around-"fashion-icon"-like-it's-"make-it-work" kind of way. She is the biggest pop music star of all time (sorry Michael Jackson fans) and has butchered herself to the point where she looks half her age. She's not a porn star, or even a mere actress, she's the biggest thing ever! This is so unnecessary! And what is it supposed to mean for the rest of us? If we have successful, happy lives, but look older than 40, we're done?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Those are someone's babies."

Having kids changes everything about your life. It even changes the way your brain works.

Last night I was flipping through the channels and watched a 9/11 documentary compiled from random people who were in Manhattan and happened to have their video cameras handy. As they showed masses of people fleeing, I scanned the crowd for children (thankfully lower Manhattan is not a great place for kids).

When the I heard about the Virginia Tech shootings, my very first thought was, "Those are someone's babies!" And I tried to comprehend how one would deal with losing a child in the prime of their life to such a senseless act of violence.

As I watched the passengers standing on the wings of Sully's plane floating on the Hudson, I wondered how many babies or toddlers were on board, and how their mothers were keeping them calm and safe and what I would do if something like that happened to me with my kids.

I've never been the most sentimental mom, and I'm not one of those mothers who lays awake at night trying to think of bad things that could happen to their child. So I'm sometimes taken aback at what a fundamental shift in my thought process all this signifies. It's one thing to think, "Well, I'm not going to go bungee jumping, since I have babies to take care of now," and another to feel these instinctual urges coming almost subconsciously.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Top 5 Fridays

5 Best Things in The Hangover:

5) The tiger

4) The baby

3) Naked Chinese mobster jumping out of the trunk

2) Jeffrey Tambor

1) Carrot Top

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Top 5 Fridays

Top 5 Things I'd like to see turn up in the move

5) The other one of my favorite earrings

4) My point-and-shoot camera battery charger

3) The wherewithal to get rid of about a quarter of our stuff

2) My bracelet

1) Roughly three dozen Arthur socks

Monday, December 07, 2009

On the Move

Oh holy crap, we're doing it. We're moving. There are many reasons for it, but it's happening, despite my misgivings. We've signed a lease and a listing agreement, and we're going from owning in Redwood City to renting in Menlo Park. We love Menlo Park, and we lived there before we bought this house. The house we're renting is more than twice the size of our current house, for the same monthly costs. So the part about living in a new, bigger house in an awesome location doesn't bother me, it's the packing up of allll of our stuff and then unpacking it all in a new location. I look around and just feel defeated without even starting when I think about packing it all up and hauling it over there. (Of course we'll hire movers to do the real heavy lifting and driving, but still.)

I've been trying like crazy to get rid of as much of our stuff as possible. I had a garage sale a few weeks ago, which got rained out and resulted in a lot of stuff getting hauled to Savers. I add at least one item a day to the pile on the porch that staarted growing the day after my last Savers run. But there's still so much! How will I ever get it to a manageable level? Is there such a thing?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Manic Monday!

"Under Pressure" is my favorite song of all time.

It seems there's only one other person from my high school who braved the grueling four-day drive to move to California. (Mike Marshall doesn't count.)

I may have mentioned this here before, but why do they have shuttle and rocket launches in Florida? What's wrong with Edwards? They wouldn't have anywhere near the number of weather delays...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Top 5 Fridays!

Top 5 Things You and All the Other Humans Need to Accept

5) Gail Collins is the greatest newspaper columnist of our generation

4) Heidi needs to auf herself



3) The dam will come down sooner or later, and the sooner it does, the better off we'll all be.

2) Your life is not complete without one of these, these and these.

1) My Android phone can kick your iPhone's heiny.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Water schmater

This kind of thing just makes me sick. Why can't we just charge farmers for water, for pete's sake?!?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Manic Monday

You'd think Palo Alto could use some of that money to pave their downtown streets -- especially the ones along the "bike boulevards".

My pediatrician's phone lines are down, overrun with people calling about getting the swine flu vaccine during their one-day clinic. Luckily Noah got his last week. Maybe Arthur will have one made available to him at some point.

I'm really glad I never bought a Maclaren stroller.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Top 5 Friday!

A day late because I couldn't think of anything yesterday...

Top 5 People I Most Frequently Run In To in and Around the RC

5) Steve Penna

4) Rebecca Ratcliffe

3) Becky Robbins

2) Ian Bain

1) Maggie and Mary Courtney (my sons' classmates)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Election Today

It's time to vote here in the RC. I'm really hoping my fellow citizens make the right decisions at the polling places today.

This is an important election because two council members are terming out and someone elected today could be on the council for sixteen years!

Cherlene Wright is at the top of my endorsement list. She's a genuine person and not a political insider who has raised tons of money to waste on ads and and whatever it is you would spend $30,000 dollars on during a city council campaign in a city of 70,000.

Jeff Gee is one of the few candidates who actually spells out what he's going to do rather than spew platitudes. Here's an example of the scintilating language of one of the other candidates under the category of "top priorities": "Working together to achieve our community's vision. Fiscal responsibility. Building community partnerships." Way to go out on a limb there. I'm just saying.

Jeff Ira is the only incumbent on the ballot (due to term limits). He's the candidate of solid experience and should be a shoe-in.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Manic Monday!

They should really move the Kennedy Space Center to California -- like, to Edwards where it all started...

I never before realized how much lust one could have for tableware, until I walked into reclaim in Menlo Park and saw these.

Speaking of Menlo Park, why are so many of the shops closed on Sundays, when so many people descend for one of the best farmers markets around?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Top 5 Friday!

Top 5 Small- to Medium-sized Home Improvement Projects I'd love to get done by the end of the year:

5) New light fixture in the guest room

4) New light fixture in the front bathroom

3) Get rid of the excess furniture

2) Get some new furniture that works (esp. in the dining room)

1) A low fence around the front yard

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Enough already with the bleeping cancer!!

Alright, Cancer, for realz, I have had it! My friend with breast cancer in her 30s, and now the bad-ass brain cancer in my friend who's even younger than me! As if that weren't enough, my uncle with the melanoma has it coming back for more and stronger than ever. Not to mention the random tongue cancer that almost killed my father-in-law four years ago. What is going on? And if I shaved my head in solidarity, would that be overkill? I should probably make some more hats instead...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Top 5 Friday!

My top 5 beefs with Project Runway:

5) Last night's snooze fest

4) Chris March got auf'd twice

3) Jeffrey

2) Daniel Franco got auf'd twice

1) Immunity

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day

What do you know? Someone told me what to blog about today! Very convenient.

So, how does climate change relate to my blog? Well, one of the overriding themes of my blog is my irritation about people being ignorant and/or stupid. Which is the basic tenet of climate change-denial. Well, that plus greed and laziness.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Top 5 Fridays

Top 5 things that could use some editing:

5) This book I'm reading (see left)

4) 95 percent of Hollywood movies

3) My to-do list

2) Ken Burns (seriously, has anyone watched every minute of the National Parks series? I've only had time for the HH bits)

and the number one thing that could use some editing..

1) David Letterman's libido (I know, too easy)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hello (echoes)

I have been a really lame blogger. But at least I wrote a little something today!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Top 5 things we should all remember today

5) People jumping from 70 floors up to escape burning or being crushed to death.

4) Firefighters climbing past escaping throngs with almost complete certainty that they will not make it out

3) Workers who dug through the rubble and now have asthma or cancer from the toxic dust

2) Airline passengers who fought back

1) The solidarity we felt as a nation as we mourned and moved forward

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Elect Cherlene Wright to Redwood City council

Here's the second in my series of endorsements for Redwood City Council: Cherlene Wright.

I think it's important to have a variety of segments of the city's population represented in city government. I don't know Wright super-well (yet), but I think she has something of a "mom six-pack" quality: she's open an inclusive and can relate to a lot of moms -- and moms are really the people who keep our community humming along.

Cherlene is set apart from the rest of the candidates and council members because she's not already part of the political establishment in Redwood City. She offers a fresh voice, and it's important on a body like the city council, where people can stay on for as long as 16 years, to get someone totally new into the mix.

Cherlene is also clearly committed to the community; she has been and will continue to be out-and-about as much as any candidate. She really wants to take her consitutents' wants and needs into account, but she also has a strong personality, so she won't simply cave to special interests or blindly sign off on what the city staff recommends.

Finally, I think what I like best about her is that she does not give off the politician vibe. Yeah, we need some of the politician-types in office, but it's refreshing to see someone running who isn't constantly trying to say exactly what's most optimal for getting them elected.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What. Is wrong. With people. Seriously.

Yesterday we had yet another fabulous block party. There was

* a great band, featuring our neighbor, Greg;
* food and drink;
* stomp rocketing in the middle of the street;
* and best of all, our wonderful neighbors hanging out with us.

There were also

* at least two people yelling obscenities at us;
* at least one person honking in anger and speeding off;
* and one folding chair, with a "McGarvey Closed Ahead" sign taped to it, stolen.

All this anti-social behavior was from people who consider McGarvey Avenue to be their own personal freeway. They are so oblivous that they don't see it as the residential street where people live, work, sleep and play with their kids. Seriously, is everyone so keyed up that they can't accept the closure of one block of a moderately busy street on a major holiday? It's not like we're closing the Bay Bridge or something.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Biggest News of the Year in the RC

We are getting an In N Out Burger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some of you might be thinking that I'm exaggerating, or being hyperbolic, but unless Jack Hickey gets elected to the school board, this is it. This is a very, very long time in coming. Right now, Redwood City residents have to drive to Mountain View or Milbrae -- Milbrae! that's almost San Francisco!! -- to get an In N Out burger. It's outrageous.

But in a few months, this wrong will be righted, according to the Spectrum. Opening scheduled for November, but will be closer to January, the magazine says.

Seriously, this is really, really important. I don't eat hamburgers unless they're from In N Out. And it's a California icon. When Nathan and I first saw our favorite movie, I think we pretty much viewed In N Out as a made-up entity. When we arrived from the frozen Midwest and discovered we could actually eat at In N Out burger and go through the drive through while listening to Oye Como Va, all was right in our world.

Again, I say, We Are Getting An In N Out Burger!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Redwood City Council: Vote for Jeff Ira

Here's my first in a series of candidate endorsements: re-elect Jeff Ira for City Council.

Jeff Ira is the only incumbent running for re-election this year, since two other council members (Howard and Hartnett) term out. Jeff Ira has been on the council for more than 10 years and knows his stuff. He's fiscally conservative and helped keep the city from having to make major cutbacks when the bottom fell out of the economy -- instead of blowing surpluses on recurring expenses like new staff, RC bolstered its savings and did some one-time infrastructure improvements.

Basically, Ira is a voice of reason and experience on a council that will have at least two rookies and will be relatively inexperienced overall.

Redwood City government is doing a lot of things right right now, and keeping the one incumbent running for council is a good move.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Top 5 Fridays!

Top 5 designers who have a shot at the Final Three

5) Althea: If Tim says she's gonna blow people away, that's all I need.

4) Gordanna: Love her already for her accent.

3) Louise Black: Always helps to have a full name that rolls off the tongue, like "Kara Saun."

2) Christopher: Producers love drama.

1) Johnny Sakalis: Again with the drugs and the drama.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Election season in the RC

Before you know it, people will be getting their vote-by-mail ballots and candidate signs will be popping up in what seems like every other yard. There's an election Nov. 3, and Redwood City will be electing new council members and school board members.

In coming weeks I'll be publicizing my endorsements here. What makes me think I'm any more qualified to make endorsements than the next blogger? Well, I know all but two of the candidates, at least a little. (I don't know a single person running for the high school district board, but if I have time to learn enough about them to make solid choices, I will.) And I know Redwood City, since I've lived here for seven years and have been heavily involved with entities that deal directly with local government. And before that I covered Redwood City for the Examiner for more than two years, so it was my job to know Redwood City.

Of course, I may be totally off base with the picks I make and if you think I am, let me know. Hopefully these blog posts will create some interesting dialog and spread reliable information.

Monday, August 24, 2009

LEGO mania!

Whenever you clean out a purse or bag or stoller or car or even sometimes a pocket in our house, you are almost assured of finding at least one Lego. And I am totally fine with that.

Years ago I started ordering boxes of Legos on Ebay thinking that it would be cool to have a toy around that our friends' kids could play with when they come over (OK, I thought maybe I'd want to build something, too.)

Now that Arthur is old enough to play with Legos (Noah plays too, even though it's a little beyond him), the Legos are out in force and Nathan has gotten into the act, buying lots of boxes on Ebay, plus some great sets for cheap.

Right now we're busy sorting the Legos by color and searching for a good way to store them: containers need to be clear, have lids, fit in the drawers under the train table, and not be too deep. Hopefully we can actually get the guys to keep them sorted. Arthur seems to really like it that way, and hopefully it will be a good way to get Noah to learn his colors.

Buying the sets on Ebay is definitely the way to go, because Lego sets have been getting way too specialized in the last 10-20 years -- so many of the pieces are highly customized for the specific vehicle or building that it's designed for that it's hard to build anything else out of the parts. (I wrote a story about BAYLUG 10 years ago that touched on this.)

And if I keep practicing my building skills, I can use Lego as a way to play with my kids and as a creative outlet, kind of like this guy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jet lag: the six-day hangover

My head hurts, and pretty much has since we got on the plane Sunday afternoon, which was Saturday evening. I'm less disoriented now than I was a few days ago, that last sentence notwithstanding.

Our boys, who were waking up daily at 6 a.m. for the months leading up to our trip, have slept past 8 (2 a.m. Sydney time) every day. I have consistently been waking up at 2 a.m. (8 p.m. Sydney time).

I've had a stuffy nose and sore throat since we left Sydney, which could be due to allergies, jet lag, a cold, or the fires that created a haze over the Bay Area, or all of the above.

And slowly, slowly, I have been processing photos.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Manic Monday (you expect me to know what day it is?)

Boys need to be woken up at 8:15; I was wide awake from 2 to 5 a.m.

More Australian words:
capsicum = bell pepper
sultana = raisin

House and cars are in good shape; I suspect they never drove the minivan, fearing it's massiveness.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Our last day in Sydney

Tomorrow morning we'll head to the airport and leave on an early afternoon flight and arrive in SF tomorrow morning.

Today I headed to the Farmers Market to load up on the best chocolates I have ever had. Then our local babysitter came over and took the boys to the park so we could pack and clean. During nap time, Linda and I went over to Surry Hills and my favorite fabric store. I'm just sorry I won't get to see her fabulous new linens in her Sydney home.

This has truly been an exciting adventure, as Arthur would say. I am going to be really happy to get back to our house, with its dishwasher and clothes drier and double-paned windows and totally awesome cars. But I'm going to miss living in a big city where you can take the bus almost everywhere and there's an awesome view around every corner.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Top 5 Friday!

Arthur's top 5 adventures in Australia:

5) Taking in the view from the top of Sydney Tower



4) Taking the ferry to Manly, twice



3) Visiting Wildlife World and petting a koala and a huge bug (on separate visits)



2) Playing in the sand at Bondi Beach



1) Hiking to a waterfall overlook in the Blue Mountains

Gunning for Health Care

This is too good just to post on my Facebook page.

I was just looking through this column for a graph or two to quote here, but the whole thing is a must-read.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Getting around in Sydney

Sydney has a fantastic bus system. In most relatively close-in suburbs, you can go to a bus stop and in five minutes or less (most of the day on a week day) a bus will come to take you downtown in a totally reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately, many of the buses are older and aren't accessible.

Last week a bus driver gave me kind of a hard time as I was going through the long process of folding up my stroller to get on one of those non-accessible buses. He said there were two other bus lines that has accessible buses that went between Randwick and the CBD. So I checked the web site, which said there was no sh thing. But that web site had led us astray in the past, so yesterday when we were ready to get on the bus I waited for about 20 minutes, and zero accessible buses went by. The schedule posted at our bus stop indicates that there's an accessible bus there once an hour, but it doesn't even go all the way downtown -- just almost!

So finally a bus comes that is going where we need to go an I start the process and then ask the bus driver if there are accessible buses on this line. He says to check the schedule, and I tell him about the once an hour. Then he tells me half the buses in the city are accessible (so why can't they send a few to Randwick?!?), which may or not be true.

THEN, he has the nerve to say this: "We can't do any better than that!"

Um, hello? Seriously. Unless the bus system is in dire financial straits, which I doubt, then yes, you sure as heck CAN do a LOT better than that.

In other transportation news, I am slightly more comfortable driving on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right (not the correct) side of the car. For some reason I have the urge to keep far away from the right side of the lane, so much so that I veer into the left lane. It's a good thing Nathan drove with me the first few times. With him helping me calibrate, I found that I have to drive so that it looks to me like my right wheels are right on the right lane line. It's fairly annoying. I guess 18 years of driving one way makes for seriously ingrained habits, and serious issues doing it the other way.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Aaahhh, Myall Lakes!


Saturday we set out from Sydney for a weekend in Myall Lakes National Park, which is about 3-4 hours north of Sydney. It's a rural area near the ocean that reminded us of Monterrey and maybe coastal areas north of SF. The difference is that palm trees and eucalyptus are actually native. They live alongside ferns plus other plants and animals that have no place whatsoever in Nor Cal.

Saturday night after we settled in to our "eco cabins," Linda and I left to do some grocery shopping at the IGA in the nearby metropolis of Booladegah, 15 kilometers away over partially "unsealed track" (some paved road, some unpaved). It was dusk on our drive there, and I was on 'roo duty. Less then 10 minutes into our drive, I cried "Kangaroo! Stop!" And we both watched as a kangaroo stood at the left side of the road, ready to spring across. It was my first wild kangaroo! For about 20 seconds it stood there and then decided to hop across: boing, boing, boing, off into the woods on the other side of the road.

A few minutes later I watched another 'roo (Australians are big on abbreviating) hop casually along the side of the road. It was sublime and satisfying, seeing an animal relegated to zoos and the imagination in the northern hemisphere, as commonplace here as the deer back home.

Sunday morning we set out on an uneventful but lovely bushwalk in the area near our resort. Then we got some food and set out on a drive to a local beach, Seal Rocks. It wasn't long after we arrived that I realized that it may be the nicest beach I have ever been to. It was sheltered by low hills all around, so there was virtually no wind. The sand was as clean and fine as any I've seen anywhere*. During a break from kid duty, I strapped on my boots and scrambled up some rocks (the local kids were doing it barefoot) to the top of an outcropping between the beach and the next bay. It wasn't big, it may have been 50 feet high, but the view from the top reminded me of the high cliff in the movie "Cast Away," the whole continent suddenly seeming as wild and exotic as the desolate island in the middle of the Pacific. There was nothing between me and home except a lot of water and Hawaii, and I half expected to find a mysterious hatch or the recordings of a crazy Frechwoman.

Once I scrambled back down I found my kids were still happily building sandcastles and wandering around the smooth, coal-black rocks, collecting shells and sticks. It was perfect. It was the first time in a long time that a moment was flawless, me and a bunch of my favorite people happy and peaceful in this perfect place, and I wanted it to last forever. We were there for hours, but it seemed like minutes before we had to leave because the sun was getting low in the "winter"** sky.


*It's possible I've been to a nicer beach in Hawaii, but when you're in Hawaii, everything seems better, so it's hard to make a comparison. I really think Seal Rocks is the best ever.

**It's winter here, but it's a safe bet that the weather at Seal Rocks Beach Sunday was nicer than most summer days in Half Moon Bay.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Top 5 Fridays!

Stuff that's backwards here:

5. Driving on the left side of the road

4. Steering wheel on the right side of the car

3. Wall switches: up is off, down is on

2. Sun is in the north

1. Winter starts in June

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Last weekend



We had a 3-day trip to Leura in the Blue Mountains, which is a quite lovely and scenic area just west of Sydney. Linda set us up in a really fantastic house close to downtown and great bushwalks (Australian for hikes). Seriously, if you want to book a trip somewhere, but especially Australia or California, talk to Linda.



We went to Scenic World, which is kind of bizarre, given that it's in a national park. If you think Yosemite Valley sometimes seems like a theme park, check this out:


This is a view of the gondolla-boarding platform from the gondolla itself. Above that is Arthur looking through the glass bottom of the Skyway. (I didn't get any pictures on or of the Railway, which features Indiana Jones music, because I was frightened.)



The Blue Mountains really are beautiful, despite the wacky rides. Imagine a gondolla strung from Glacier Point to El Capitan! Anyway, we went on a lovely bushwalk that featured waterfalls and steep cliffs and lots of other cool rocks and stuff that Arthur and the rest of us (including Dad in his awesome new outback hat) loved.



Finally, this is the Three Sisters from Echo Point, one of the biggest attractions in the Blue Mountains. The Sisters appears to be the second most famous rock formation on the continent. There's a lot of flat, sheep-grazing area and desert out there, I guess.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Getting a lift?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law 19 years ago. Born out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the primary goals of the ADA were to ensure equality in hiring and housing, but it also included accommodations in public and private and spaces to allow access to wheelchair users and people with other types of disabilities.

If you have ever pushed a stroller or spent time in a retail establishment or public institution with a person in a wheelchair, you should feel gratitude towards all the people who fought for civil rights from the 60s onward.

In the US we take ramps, elevators and flat entrances to stores and restaurants for granted. Australians aren't so lucky. Most stores and restaurants seem to have at least one step at their entrance. Doable for a stroller, usually, but impossible for someone who can't walk.

The other day I saw a man in a wheelchair pull himself agonizingly out of his chair while his friend carried it up a set of about half a dozen stairs. He somehow made it up the stairs and got back in to wheel himself to the next step, about 10 feet away, and his friend again lifted the chair over the step and he got back in. I wondered: Is this some place he has to go on a regular basis? Can he only go if there is a friend available to come with him? What a burden to someone who already has a hard life.

Some places have accessible bathrooms, but not all. Almost no clothing stores have accessible fitting rooms. Some buses have level entrances and ramps that can deploy for wheelchair users, but not all. Today at the zoo, a place where I would guess half the visitors are pushing a stroller, we had to carry our prams down a flight or two of stairs. We were lucky enough to have five adults and only three strollers in our group, but at home I take my kids to the zoo or the aquarium by myself all the time. I pretty much could not do that here. Arthur and Noah and I would be stuck at home except for trips to the park, until they were old enough to walk long distances on their own.

What gives? I guess businesses won't make changes for moral reasons unless they are compelled by law to do so. Why hasn't Australia's government taken action on this?




A photo by Arthur of Anya pushing her stroller at the zoo with Linda and me.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Nom nom nom

Tonight we got a sitter and went to a fab restaurant called longrain in the nearby neighborhood Surry Hills. It was oh so yummy and fantastic. The wine was a pinot called X from Victoria which sadly I can not find online. We had my favorite animal flesh of all, venison, and some fish in a green curry that was divine.

The rest of this week promises to be mellow but fun: tomorrow is Athena's birthday, so festiviteis at the zoo are planned (Linda managed to arrange for a baby elephant to be on display just for this holiday). This weekend there is another naturish weekend planned a few hours away.

In the coming days watch for posts and pics on our weekend in the Blue Mountains and the self-guided architecture tour I did on a couple days last week.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Best things about our flat in Randwick


Top 5 Friday is back this week!

5) Close to downtown Randwick

4) One block to a half-hour bus ride downtown

3) The hot water is reeeally hot.

2) The roof doesn't leak.

1) The view.

NOTE: Schrenk Rap will be on holiday until Monday, at the earliest.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eating and drinking in Sydney


One of the vendors at last Saturday's farmers market, after asking where I was from, said he considered NSW a "European California." The Europe is in the ubiquitous espresso spots; I couldn't begin to count the number of coffee shops I've seen so far, but I've only spotted two Starbucks. (Gloria Jeans is the only widespread coffee chain I've noticed.)

The California (at least Northern California, which is of course the most important part) is in the climate and the local produce, including my favorite vegetable, pumpkin. I don't know if pumpkin is widely served year-round, but I've had the pleasure of consuming a lot of it during our taste of Sydney winter so far; just today I had pumpkin soup while I was out and about in the CBD at lunch (see pic above) and a pumpkin-spinach salad with the boys' schnitzel take-away plate at dinner.

This weekend we're going to the Blue Mountains, which Linda compares to the coastal range in our backyard at home (and Adam scoffs at as being mere hills, since he's from Oregon and" it's only a mountain if it has snow on it or blows its top occasionally").

Unrelated to California is the price of beer and wine. The vino is cheaper, by and large, then in the states, but beer appears to be outrageously expensive. Tonight Nathan bought a six-pack of Stella Artois for $18 AUD! And he thinks I'm bad. At that price I'll drink wine for the rest of the trip.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cloth pilgrimage



I walked half way across town today to get to cloth, a fabric store in Surry Hills. I had read about the place in the Qantas in-flight magazine, and decided I had to go. It was roughly a 5k walk, but, happily, the vast majority of it was in Centennial Park. The boys chased birds, picked up big sticks and played at a play structure in the center of the park on the way to the shop. The last bit of the walk was through a pretty blah neighborhood (along Cleveland Street, fittingly).




They had a good selection of very cool home dec fabrics, and some stuff made out of them -- mostly pillow cases.



They had a big table of remnants, most of which were $5 AUD, for roughly 18x18" pieces. So I bought a bunch of them and plan to make some pillowcases in the patchwork-style of the ones on display.



My favorite is the one on the far left in this picture. I bought a half meter of it (that's pretty close to a half yard). I realized after I got home and was taking all these pics that it's probably my favorite because it's very evocative of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream (the photo doesn't do justice to the lovely shade of green).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The next few weeks

Some things I want to try before we go (aside from the usual touristy stuff):

A yoga studio that's a five minute walk from our flat.

Two fabric stores that are a 10-minute drive away.

Shop for at least one little souvenir at this uber-fabulous shop at The Spot in Randwick.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sydney winter produce

Yesterday (Saturday) we went to a fantastic farmers market in an old rail yard.



The neighborhood around it wasn't as nice as Randwick or Balmain, but we had wonderful crepes for breakfast and, of course, there were several coffee stands.



We bought squash, Pink Lady apples, "spinach" (see below), eggs, flowers, and some other stuff that isn't so good for us.

Lots of people brought their doggies!







We also bought something they called spinach, but I'm pretty sure is what we in U.S. call chard.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I heart Rozelle

Yeesterday was a chill day, with Nathan working and me driving (more on that later) to Linda's to hang out. Linda lives in Balmain, a lovely neighborhood on the other side of the CBD from our place in Randwick. From there we walked to Darling Street in Rozelle. Pics are coming, but the neighborhoods are very evocative of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Some of the architecture looks very Southern, and some homes remind Nathan of something you might see in Colonial Williamsburg.

Darling Street is filled with cute shops and cafes. Our first stop was the Coffee Bean Cafe, Linda's favorite coffee shop. It was very kid-friendly, and there was even a kid in there who was less-well-behaved than mine*, which is always good. He was about 3 and his mom had a five-week-old. At one point the kid ran out the door and down the block, with Arthur following. Arthur didn't go nearly as far, and went back inside to "Aunt Linda" when I told him to, but Saul took off down the street and I had to run at top speed to get him. His mom didn't seen too concerned about his escapist tendancies, but I figured she could use the help and she seemed grateful.

After lunch (tuna wraps for moms, pizza and fries for boys) we went to the patisserie Strudel Baron: teeny, awesome cupcakes (actually the frosting and the oreo bit in the frosting was awesome, the cake was enh), brownie, and rum balls.

Finally, we went to a fabulous baby gear store called infancy. They were having a sale: half off winter clothes, including a rain jacket for Arthur, which I had unsuccessfully looked for at the Glebe mall last night. Pics of that to come, too...

Today we're off to the farmers market and maybe a museum.

*The boys are usually quiet well-behaved for their age, but they're still adjusting to this new environment and their behavior has been much worse than usual since we got here. Hopefully the adjustment period will end soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Opera House Tour



Yesterday we toured the famous Sydney Opera House. It is of course gorgeous and amazing from the outside, but touring the inside and learning its story makes it even more stunning.




Our tour guide was so-so...



The movies we watched about the design competition, the engineering feat of building the place, and the massive budget and schedule overruns were very interesting. (The design by a Danish architect was rejected, then pulled from the trash at the last minute; original cost and time estimate was $7 mil and 3 years, and ended up being $100 million and 16 years.)





Seeing the inside and understanding the construction, with each "sail" being made of a series of huge concrete "ribs" was really amazing.



Just in from the harbor on the Opera House peninsula is the Royal Botanic Garden; the view from the Opera House of the city skyscrapers framed by the trees of the huge garden is inspiring.

Good news everyone!

I finally figured out how to order coffee, which is important: "Tall black with soy milk, please." I don't know what this means, but it seems pretty similar to the coffee I know, so I'm good on that angle.

The other day at a restaurant I ordered a "flat white," which was kinda blah, then yesterday I got the tall black and it was good. (It was so warm I almost got an iced coffee, but it was twice as expensive, for some reason.)

This morning the teenage son of some friends of Adam and Linda is coming over to watch the boys so Nathan and I can take the tour of the inside of the opera house!

Our new home

There are a lot of difference between living in a 3-bedroom house with a two-car garage and living in a third-floor walk-up. We will have quads and glutes of steel by the end of our month here. The views are great, and the windows face north and west, which helps keep things warm. But I still haven't figured out how people get by without a dishwasher. (At least I don't have to wash dishes in the bathtub.)



Our flat's location is definitely nice. It's an almost-10 minute walk to lots of shops; there's a mall just about 10 minutes and if we keep going another five minutes after that there are even more shops and restaurants. In that regard, our house swappers will surely appreciate our house's location, since there's a grocery store, drug store, hardware store, ice cream, coffee, pizza and more less than five minutes walk away. But I'm sure they're astounded by the size of our fridge.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Exploring beautiful Sydney!

What a day! It must be in the 70s (Fahrenheit; still haven't figured out Centigrade conversions yet) today, and sunny! Sydney is gorgeous. And really easy to get around in via bus! At around 8:45 we got on a bus less than two blocks from our flat in Randwick and we were downtown at the Circular Quay (pronounced "key") in about 35 minutes. The morning bus was crowded and quiet. No one seemed to be reading anything to pass the time, just spacing out or nodding off.





At Circular Quay we walked past the ferry terminal and some very pricey real estate on our way to our first glimpse of the famous Opera House. It was a pretty dramatic sight, with its "sails" glistening in the morning sun. We walked all the way around the building and started heading up into the Royal Botanic Garden, which featured some impressive views of the Opera House (with much better lighting for morning photography). The Garden is big, beautiful and free; the boys loved walking around in the morning sun, collecting sticks and running across expanses of grass.





We examined a few of the gardens on our way to the central section of the Botanic Garden, where we surprised to find thousands of large bats handing from the trees! We didn't get around to finding a worker or volunteer to ask what kind they were and why they lived there, but we'll definitely be back.



At some point in our sightseeing Arthur got fixated on going up in the Sydney Tower, which looks kind of like the TV Tower in Berlin and is the height of the Eiffel Tower (does that make Sydney the Berlin of the Southern Hemisphere, or the Paris? I've never been to Paris, so I can't say...). From the Botanic Garden it was easy to make our way to the Tower and they gladly took our $25 AUD (per adult) to go up to the top of the tower. Noah slept in the stroller throughout the experience, but Arthur totally dug it.



After the tower experience we had to walk a couple blocks to buy bus passes, then back the other direction to catch the bus home. Nathan and I both noted how crowded the sidewalks were, even in the middle of the afternoon.

Hangin' with Haberlachs


The park across the street from Linda and Adam's house.


Arthur's getting good at catching!


This girl gets cuter every time we see her!

"You're going the wrooong waaayyy!!"

This is my first experience with the "keep left" driving system (I think some parts of Europe do it that way, but we did zero driving when we were there). I haven't actually done any driving since we got here; it's all been Nathan. But it's still terrifying to sit on the left side of the car and constantly be going the wrong way! Nathan has been doing great, and I certainly trust his driving skills, but I'm constantly fighting the urge to shriek and cover my eyes. The only annoyance now for him is that the turn signal and wiper stalks are also reversed, so he's constantly turning on his wipers when he's trying to signal!

At some point I realize I'm going to have to drive that thing. But today we're taking the bus up to Circular Quay (pronounced "key") to walk around central Sydney and see, among other things, the Opera House!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting there is half the fun?

Our travel to Sydney went astonishing well. We were expecting lots of bad behavior and less sleeping then necessary, but it all worked out pretty well.

Qantas pre-boards families with young children, so that was a happy surprise. But that was nothing compared to when we got to our seats, which had an excessive amount of leg room, and even footrests -- footrests!!!! Turns out we were in the last row of "premium economy" -- there was a small divider between our seats and the row behind, and I looked back and noticed that the seats there were much less plush. I quickly sent Linda an email on my phone, then sent her a pic. She was jealous that we had somehow been upgraded to this special class!

We all managed a reasonable amount of sleep -- some with, some without sleep aids -- and the 14-hour flight went relatively quickly -- that was when trouble started. Another big plane full of people arrived from Hong Kong about the same time, so the queue for customs was huge. I don't even remember how long it took us to get through. Then we got our checked bags, which wasn't too bad. But then we had to wait in another insane queue for "quarantine," which is where they check to make sure you aren't bringing anything into the country that will infest the local flora or fauna. Finally we got outside, into the fresh morning air, where we got to wait in yet another bloody queue (check out all my local lingo!) for a taxi. Next time I see another line like that I'm going to have to be seriously medicated. "Don't lose it now," Nathan implored me. I managed to make it until we all piled ourselves and our stuff into a "maxi taxi" and headed over to Randwick. Whew!

Tuesday morning in Sydney

At least I'm pretty sure it's Tuesday, which would mean Monday afternoon in California. It was not a great night for jet-lagged toddlers here. They woke up periodically from 1:30 on, and Nathan finally got up with them for good at 5. I had a brutal headache, possibly from jet lag, possibly from lack of coffee. (There is no coffee machine in this apartment; I found this out a couple weeks ago, so Linda bought me a coffee maker, but she was sick with food poisoning yesterday so we haven't seen her yet.) Hopefully it won't be more than another day or two before they're adjusted. Nathan and I haven't been feeling too bad jet-lag-wise, just a little tired.

First unexpected cultural difference: eggs are unrefrigerated in the store.

Second one: most of the restaurants nearby seem to be BYOB.

Speaking of coffee, at some point I need to figure out how to order it; Adam says they don't have American coffee everywhere, just espresso and cappuccino, because of Turkish and Greek influences.

View of city lights from our flat

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Here we are!

The Southern Hemisphere! The flight went astoundingly well, and we're in our home for the next month: the flat of Steve and Trudy, who are living in our house! (When we were on the plane at some point it hit me that there were probably some strange people walking into our house right then, just movin' on in, like we have now at their home. It was the first time the whole plan seemed weird and crazy to me!

We're all kind of punchy from jet lag, and the boys are napping finally, so that's what I'm going to do...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just a little patience

No, this is not another Guns N' Roses post, sorry... It's me that needs a little patience, mostly with my youngest son. He is intensely cute, very affectionate and usually pretty well-behaved for a two-year-old. But he is a stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of guy, whereas I am interested in getting moving, going forward, getting the next thing done.

Yesterday we went over to the coast to go berry-picking, which involved some walking through fields. I was interested in moving on from the ollallieberries to the strawberries (yum!) whereas he was interested in checking out the puddle around the leaky irrigation system feature. Unlike his older brother, he does not respond to calls of "C'mon! We're all going this way!" and has no fear that he might get left behind. So there he stands, while the older brother and I are hundreds of feet away. I sigh impatiently and call again, then call to my friend to see if she can coax him along. For the millionth time, I think to myself "I can't wait until they're old enough to [insert one of any number of tasks -- keep up, hike with us, get their own beverages -- here]."

Maybe it was the fresh, cool air or the slower, coast-side, agricultural feel, but it hit me that I could be saying that forever, or at least until we're old enough that I'm trying to keep up with them, and instead maybe I should just look at things from a two-year-old's perspective and try to figure out what really is so interesting about that puddle.

It won't be easy for a caffeinated, often half-crazed, to-do-list-obsessed multi-tasker like me, but maybe the start of a month-long vacation is the perfect time for me to make such a resolution and try to stick to it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Those lousy community organizers

Oh, how I love this. During the campaign Palin was all about how Obama didn't really have any responsibility as a "community organizer," and now she's going on and on about how she doesn't need some silly title like "governor" to work for Alaska. If Republicans really think she is their great hope, they may as well go home.

Nowhere is the power of resentment to trump reason more flagrantly illustrated than in the incessant complaint by Palin and her troops that she is victimized by a double standard in the “mainstream media.” In truth, the commentators at ABC, NBC and CNN — often the same ones who judged Michelle Obama a drag on her husband — all tried to outdo each other in praise for Palin when she emerged at the Republican convention 10 months ago.

....

The Palinists’ bogus beefs about double standards reached farcical proportions at Fox News on the sleepy pre-Fourth Friday afternoon when word of her abdication hit the East. The fill-in anchor demanded that his token Democratic stooge name another female politician who had suffered such “disgraceful attacks” as Palin. When the obvious answer arrived — Hillary Clinton — the Fox host angrily protested that Clinton had never been attacked in “a sexual way” or “about her children.”

Americans have short memories, but it’s hardly ancient history that conservative magazines portrayed Hillary Clinton as both a dominatrix cracking a whip and a broomstick-riding witch. Or that Rush Limbaugh held up a picture of Chelsea Clinton on television to identify the “White House dog.” Or that Palin’s running mate, John McCain, told a sexual joke linking Hillary and Chelsea and Janet Reno. Yet the same conservative commentariat that vilified both Clintons 24/7 now whines that Palin is receiving “the kind of mauling” that the media “always reserve for conservative Republicans.” So said The Wall Street Journal editorial page last week. You’d never guess that The Journal had published six innuendo-laden books on real and imagined Clinton scandals, or that the Clintons had been a leading target of both Letterman and Leno monologues, not to mention many liberal editorial pages (including that of The Times), for much of a decade.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Almost time to go...

One week from now we'll be in Australia! We'll be fighting jet lag and recovering from a 14-hour flight with two toddlers, but we'll be in Australia! The guest room is pretty much complete. There are some relatively minor clean-up issues in the rest of the house. Last week I packed two suitcases with clothes for me and the boys. This week I need to get the van washed, renew prescriptions, clear out the fridge, obtain some Australia cash, and store away (in the outside office) stuff I don't want our home exchangers messing with (sewing machine, Roomba). And I need to pack carry-on bags.

I'm looking forward to hearing lots of cool Australian accents (are there any good movies with Australian accents in them, so I can start training my ears?); apparently the Australians are very British, and so they say stuff like "lift" and "que," which I get a kick out of. I hope this also includes "trousers" instead of "slacks," because I've always hated the word "slacks" when referring to pants (I think it brings to mind something cheap, plaid and uncomfortable and not suited to Midwestern humidity and heat). And maybe we'll even get to hear Athena's budding Australian-speak!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Pop Report

Almost a year ago I decided to try to get off the diet pop. Finally, it seems I'm close. The last few weeks I've only been drinking it about twice a week, and it seems that about half the time I drink it I immediately get a headache. So that's a good thing. And I figure pop won't be as pervasive in Australia as it is here, so that will help. I here they really know how to do coffee there, so I expect I'll be drinking a lot of that.

In other diet news, I'm trying out a dairy-free diet to see if it makes me feel any better, tummy-area-wise. Hopefully they have soy milk at the coffee joints in Sydney, or else I better get used to my coffee black.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Manic Monday!

Most common time for time-outs? Definitely the dinner-cooking period.

The Oakland Zoo seems a lot smaller, and it's hills flatter, when pushing only one kid (Arthur's a big boy!) and pushing him in the Chariot.

re: Washington Post: Why aren't newspapers seriously considering going to a non-profit format, like NPR?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Revamp

This weekend our house will be transformed: I started today with a sorting and purging of the toys -- out goes all the baby stuff. (This took longer than I expected, probably because it's the first a real toy purge has ever performed in das Schrenkhaus.)

Tomorrow we continue moving most of the office furniture out of the soon-to-be guest bedroom, which will accommodate one of the two couples staying in our house during the swap. Sewing and crafting supplies go to the new office-nook in the sun room, then the treadmill and its TV go to the guest room.

We're starting to get close to our deadline: our flight to Sydney leaves in two weeks and two days! It is truly amazing how much stuff we have: not just the usual stuff, like clothes, books and toys, but there seems to be an endless stream of items that don't fit neatly into any category, like the short cord in a plastic clamshell that I found when I cleaned out my car to get it bathed earlier this week. I think it's from the car charger I bought for my phone, which provided cords for a couple different kinds of phones. Or all these frames... why do I have so many freaking frames?!? I should have a frame sanding party, so people will come to my garage and help me sand the frames and then paint them to match the colors of my walls, which I read in all the magazines is the thing to do.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Manic Monday!

A collection of random thoughts...

I love how well my 2-year-old communicates: "I get in my seat and eat gwiwed cheese!"

I also love how boxes of random eBayed Legos show up at our house from time to time.

But I hate Target's web site.

And I was too tired to post this last night.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sue to restore Hetch Hetchy

Oh snap!

Bay Area water hypocrisy exposed

Published online on Wednesday, Jun. 24, 2009

One of these days, a water-starved farmer will walk into federal court and demand that O'Shaughnessy Dam come down, finally restoring glacial Hetch Hetchy Valley to its natural grandeur and releasing a natural flow into the Tuolumne River.

Such a lawsuit wouldn't get the farmer more water. But it would expose the hypocrisy of Bay Area environmentalists who depict San Joaquin Valley residents as ignorant hillbillies making a mess of the desert and the Delta with their irrigated farms.

Hetch Hetchy -- the twin to Yosemite Valley -- should have been restored decades ago, say many environmental groups, including the Sierra Club.

But the only way the dam falls is if a federal judge orders it. And no environmental group will sue. Why?

They say it's better handled with cooperation and education. My explanation is simpler: it's because the dam holds some of the best drinking water on earth -- granite-filtered water reserved mostly for the allegedly environmentally conscious folks of San Francisco and other Bay Area cities.

Amazing, isn't it?

But the only way the dam falls is if a federal judge orders it. And no environmental group will sue. Why?

They say it's better handled with cooperation and education. My explanation is simpler: it's because the dam holds some of the best drinking water on earth -- granite-filtered water reserved mostly for the allegedly environmentally conscious folks of San Francisco and other Bay Area cities.

Amazing, isn't it?

Environmentalists sue to restore the Owens River and Mono Lake. Environmentalists sue to restore the San Joaquin River and bring back its salmon run.

But they won't unleash their lawyers on Hetch Hetchy, one of the world's great wonders, or demand that San Francisco surrender its drinking water so that the Tuolumne River can teem with salmon again.

Can I prove that environmental groups are picking other battles to avoid a backlash among their Bay Area supporters? No. But it sure looks that way.

Here in the Valley, east-side farmers are giving up, on average, 170,000 acre-feet of water each year for the reintroduction of salmon into the San Joaquin.

Shouldn't Bay Area residents forfeit a similar amount -- about half of Hetch Hetchy's storage capacity -- to recharge the Tuolumne, the San Joaquin and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta with cold Yosemite water?

Shouldn't we enjoy Hetch Hetchy Valley, as it was before powerful San Francisco interests stole Tuolumne water rights -- and broke John Muir's heart -- in the early 1900s?

San Franciscans beg to differ. They claim that the dam has created a beautiful lake and Hetch Hetchy Valley was overrated -- its spectacular vistas mere figments of Muir's imagination. Two of the loudest opponents against restoring Hetch Hetchy are Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Three years of drought and the dramatic degradation of the Delta are hog-tying west-side farmers. They are trying to survive with a fraction of their usual water deliveries.

What are San Franciscans giving up? Not their precious Hetch Hetchy tap water.

Let's give the San Francisco greenies a dose of aggressive environmentalism. Let's sue to restore Hetch Hetchy.

The columnist can be reached at bmcewen@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6632. Check out his blog at fresnobeehive.com/news.

Recession depression obsessions

A couple weeks ago I was at the Menlo Park Farmers Market and my favorite vendor (Phil the Prune Man, guy in the 49ers or Giants cap with all the dried fruit and nuts) was pontificating on the state of the world, as he is wont to do.

"I just don't want to know anymore; it's too depressing."

He was talking, of course, about Iran Iraq health care bailout layoffs blahdee blahdee blah. It was then that I realized why Jon & Kate and American Idol absorb people's attention the way they do: people just can't deal with the death toll in Iraq and the chaos in Iran or really understand credit default swaps and GM's bankruptcy. So they look at the Gosselins, whose lives they can sort of relate to, but who have problems big enough to make their own look small. They look to American Idol for, well, I'm not 100% sure because I've never watched it, but maybe there's just something about the elimination/reality/game show genre that's super-addictive.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mommy wants turtle shoes!

Yesterday I was reading Parenting magazine (which really should be called Mommying, because it's 100 percent geared toward women, as far as I can tell) and found an item singing the praises of this lovely piece of footware. Being the lover of turtles, wedges and hot pink that I am, I decided that we needed enough shampoo, etc, for a trip to Target! As usual, my first task after entering the Target was to purchase smoothies and salty snacks for the munchkins, so as to keep them from whining through the entire shoe shopping expedition. But when we got to the shoe department, no hot pink turtle sandals were to be found.

After spending another 45 minutes or so browsing around the Target, and oddly not finding about three other things I had on my list, I went home and, during nap time, checked the Target web site. Yes, indeed, they are available! But only in size 11. Let's check eBay, I say. Oh, yes, lots of sizes available, many for more than double the list price!1 What's going on here? My best guess is that someone who works at Target or Parenting bought up a bunch of these after they find out it was going in the magazine, but before the item ran. Very clever. Either way, Target is really making out on some of their fashion items.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Manic Monday!

Anyone know where to get Dots (potty training motivation) in bulk?

I may have to go to Target today.

Redwood City needs many things, but this would be a good one to start with (or maybe it could come right after In n Out).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Top 5 Friday!

Top 5 Things I may do with my extra free time:

5. Sew

4. Scrapbook

3. Blog

2. Become a professional organizer

1. Start a Redwood City news blog

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Those Americans

Even at the start of the Obama era, I have to marvel at the dumb stuff we continue to pull years or decades after the rest of the world has clued in. Like, oh I dunno, climate change.

Or how about the fact that our idiotic drug and gun policies are destroying Mexico?

Or that there are two dozen other industrialized nations -- including ones that our soldiers fight with -- who allow gays to serve openly in the military? My mind is particularly boggled by the story of this guy who was an Arabic translator who was fired six months after 9/11 because he was gay!!

Maybe when I go to Australia next month, I can affect, say, a German accent? Or maybe just wear a shirt that says "My house has solar panels, I don't own a gun and I don't hate gay people. Oh, and I believe the earth is a few trillion years old."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Manic Monday!

There's a lot up in Emerald Hills that Nathan and I wanted to buy a couple years ago and build a fab MKD house on; the new owners have built a house that looks like it belongs in some dismal midwestern subdivision -- and it's GRAY! (what's the emoticon for "gag"?)

I hate it when I'm craving In n Out but don't have time to drive to Mountain View or Milbrae. Stupid Redwood City.

Least favorite thing about homeownership: disposing of rodents that die in our yard.

Have I mentioned recently that I wish Janice Joplin were alive to beat Faith Hill unconscious with a copy of her unbearable cover of "Piece of My Heart"?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Manic Monday!

Project Runway starts up again right after we get back from Sydney!

If I'm getting ready for an outing with my two kids (and no other adults) and I don't use screaming, panicking, rushing or a cattle prod, it takes an hour.

My spice drawer I adore:

Thursday, June 04, 2009

This is almost as bad as bailing out GM

Jerry Hill wants to give Half Moon Bay a bunch of money to pay their lawsuit settlement, which was brought against them because of their no-growth policies. If Half Moon Bay has to go under and the residents get fewer services, good! Because the no-growth policies came from the residents, who believe: "I'm in, now shut the door!"

"The fear and concern for me and the state is a potential bankruptcy not due to financial mismanagement, but due to a lawsuit that created a unique situation for Half Moon Bay," said Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, who introduced the legislation.

Click here to find out if Hill is your representative, and don't vote for him.

And thanks to Watch Dog San Mateo for pointing this out.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

This is a lot of drugs


On Monday I spent almost 3 hours in a doctor's office getting dozens of little pin pricks and needle marks and blowing into some kind of contraption and hitting off a inhaler to try to figure out why I'm sometimes (mostly during intense exercise) short of breath. The findings:

- I'm very allergic to mold (which I found out from a blood test a couple years ago) -- but who, exactly, isn't?
- I'm a tiny bit allergic to cats, but not at all to dogs;
- My ability to rapidly exhale (presumably indicative of my lung capacity) is so-so, and improved by 30 percent by an inhaler with a couple medications in it.

It was a lot of information at once, and kind of overwhelming. The doctor wrote out this detailed "plan" that includes the inhaler, two pills and two nasal sprays. She drew out this whole explanation complete with sketches of some lung parts, but I didn't really understand it and of course I can't read any of her handwriting. Maybe I'll get a clearer explanation at my follow up appointment a month from now.

We'll see how I feel after a couple weeks of serious allergy meds.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Screw our schools

That appears to be the official stance of the vast majority of Redwood City residents. Today's election on Measure E put one issue on the ballot: yes or no. Yes = give our school district money it needs to function, No = our children who don't go to private school can make do without, say, science teachers and pencils. More than 60 percent of people who bothered to vote in this election voted yes, but we live in this effed up state where everything needs a 2/3 super-majority to pass, and we all know that you can't get more than half of any one group to agree on anything, unless it's, say, a group of newspaper reporters choosing whether to get liquored up or not get liquored up after a long day in the newsroom.

More than 75 percent of registered voters couldn't be bothered to drag their sorry hides to their local polling place (likely as not to be all of 100 yards from their front door), putting them solidly in the "screw our schools" camp with those who voted "no."

Monday, June 01, 2009

Manic Monday!

I get the feeling Conan O'Brien is aimed at my age group, but only the most milquetoast among us.

Regular viewers of Lost and Cubs fans have a lot in common.

Nathan and I did not sign up for all this public scrutiny when we signed up to have a crew of cameramen follow us around and record every move of us and our eight kids.

Friday, May 29, 2009

End of an era

The least-funny host in the history of the Tonight Show retires. Does anyone under 50 watch that guy?

Anyone remember when Conan O'Brien was, like, edgy?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Good times

How did we miss this when we were in Orlando??

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Celebrity fans to buy Cubs?

Fans owning the team can't be bad, right?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

We are so far behind

Mmm, some local politicians are endorsing water recycling. Good work! How long have we been living in this near-desert?

Have I mentioned how insane it is that we don't have any kind of water use regulations around here? I'm pretty sure I have. But I'll mention it again. Why are Californians so incredibly delusional when it comes to water???

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh for Pete's sake

Really? Someone's trying yet again to build something on the bay in Redwood City? Yeah, that's worked out so well in the past.

I'm not the only one creeped out by Redwood Shores, right? A former council member who lived in Redwood Shores called it "Stepford Shores."

Monday, May 11, 2009

caffeine, bdays, Big Unit

the Cubs are here on my bday?
oy; maybe it's time for Randy Johnson to retire...
this coffee I'm trying from whole foods tastes a lot like coffee; and surprisingly, I'm liking that!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Top 5 Fridays

I'm nothing if not inconsistent.

Top Five Things I Don't Miss About the MLB Package:

5. Len

4. Bob

3. The same commercials every half inning (at least I could usually fast forward through them)

2. -$180 a year

1. Um, baseball games are kinda long.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Pop.

I seem to have successfully gotten myself down to having one diet pop every other day since I returned from Illannoy (a trip like that is far too stressful to go without at least one a day). The question is, am I ready to go cold turkey? Or maybe a couple times a week? Last time I cut way back on the diet pop I got bronchitis, which totally sucked. Like, a lot. So you can see where I'd be a bit nervous...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Manic Monday

Something new to try to get me to blog more: a random, sometimes Manic list of stuff I can post on Monday

Some blogs I've been reading:
Urban Chickens
Adam's House of Misc

I'd rather not hear about your TWO-year-old backsliding on his potty training when I can barely get my three-and-a-half-year-old to sit on a potty.

I like this.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

screw you, San Carlos!

Linda and Adam will be visiting the Bay Area in a few weeks (YAY!!!) and wanted to have a park picnic with friends. Burton Park in San Carlos would be nice, we thought. So I emailed the parks department and, lo and behold, there were picnic sites available for the last weekend in May! Kind of amazing...

Reservations are over-the-phone only, so I called the park department:
Me: "I'd like to reserve the tot playground area."
Parks lady: "Do you live in San Carlos?"
Lady: "Oh! You have to live in San Carlos. I should have asked when you emailed..."

So I went on to the Redwood City parks site, to see if I could reserve and are at the lovely park where we had Arthur's bday party. It was available, and as far as I could tell, you don't have to be an RC resident, of course.

Who does San Carlos think it is, Shallow Alto?

Friday, May 01, 2009

"I'll start believing environmentalists when..."

This column by a Central Valley farmer makes some good points, particularly on#10!!

Hopefully I'm not the kind of environmentalist he complains about; I do my best with my solar panels, bike trailers and organic local produce...

#10: I’ll start believing San Francisco environmentalists when they stop taking their drinking water from a national park.

#9: I’ll start believing the French on energy and environmental issues when they turn off their nuclear reactors. Nuclear power cannot be good in France and bad in the U.S.

#8: I’ll start believing Europeans about organic farming when they stop chain smoking.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What a bunch of spoiled babies

"We want to be able to get to Santa Monica fast, without emitting greenhouse gasses, but only if the yucky part is in the *sniff* East Bay."

How much do you want to bet that the Shallow Altans, if they get their way, will roll their eyes and sigh about how they would love to take the train instead of flying, except they would have to go over the bridge to *gasp* Fremont!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yay Woodside! -- wait, Woodside?!?

After years of being mostly hostile to cyclists, Woodside has suddenly made a dizzying number of improvements to its roads. Perhaps if I were some kind of citizen journalist, and/or had some free time, I'd find out who was responsible for this. Thanks to the Redwood City Bicycle Pedestrian Committee (which I helped found, back when I had time) for passing this on.


April has been a month of bike safety progress in Woodside! Since the Peninsula Committee's Woodside Ride on April 4th:
1) Caltrans reduced the speed limit from 40 to 35 mph on westbound Woodside Rd (Hwy 84) approaching the I-280 intersection This is the area where Michelle Mazzei was run down and killed by a motorist in October 2005.
NOW
2) With TDA funding, Woodside reconfigured the westbound bike lane on Woodside Rd approaching the Canada Rd intersection so that straight-through cyclists are not channeled to the right of the right-turn-only lane.
Before BEFORE
NOW
3) With the same TDA funding, Woodside extended the NO PARKING red curb along the eastbound Woodside Rd bike lane (east of the Canada Rd intersection). The bike lane is now 12 feet wide where parking is permitted east of the landscaped triangle.
BEFORE
NOW
4) In another TDA-funded project, Woodside replaced a depressed drain grate in the westbound Woodside Rd bike lane west of Buck's Restaurant with a flush, at-grade solid plate. Cyclists now have one fewer obstacles to navigate. (They can now concentrate on getting around the cars that park in the bike lane, legally. Unthinking cyclists frequently choose to park in the bike lane when they go for a ride.)
BEFORE
NOW
5) Woodside has diagonally striped the northbound shoulder of Portola Rd between Sand Hill and Mountain Home Roads to inform cyclists and motorists alike that the shoulder is not a bike lane. There is a steep-walled drainage ditch adjacent to the shoulder. This stretch of Portola Road is a shared roadway.
BEFORE
NOW