Week of August 10th

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last week


it seems Sundays are becoming my wind down days. I guess 29 years of Massachusetts blue laws are taking their toll.

i caught up on some of my web stuff, Mike and I took a quick drive to one of the many incredible vistas around here, and when Juli came home from her new job we all went out to see Contact with Jodie Foster. Good flick.



my 4Runner needs some work, so I called up information in San Francisco to get the name of a dealership. The operator told me that I needed a name or street for her to give me a dealership's number. I explained I was from out of state, and if she could just read off the first one I'd be happy.

oyota Upholstery" she told me.


that doesn't sound like a car dealership to me, what else you got?" I asked.


i cannot give you a dealership unless you know the name or street address."

why not?"


what if you were calling from another Toyota Dealership? You would be upset that we weren't giving your name out."

but I'm not a Toyota Dealership, and you already gave me the name of one Toyota company. Why can't you just give me the next one alphabetically."

've already said too much," she replied.

did she think this was some game of cat and mouse? Some spy game? Was I supposed to respond "the black swan flies only under the midnight sun?" Frustrated, I hung up. I called up information again and got the number of a Toyota Dealership.

 Hawk lebo went off to work today so I headed off to Samuel L. Jackson--whoops, Samuel P. Taylor State Park for a bike ride. The park ranger gave me directions and told me that it was a moderate ride to Buckaroo Outlook, or something like that.

i followed her directions and after about 2 miles was faced with a severe incline. I biked up it, but was soon forced to dismount. Unable to start up again at such a sever angle I decided to walk my bike up until the next level area. I walked. And walked. And walked some more, pushing that bike the whole way. I spent the next hour pushing my bike uphill, and occasionally riding it--hill permitting--thinking every bend would be the last.

finally I came upon the fire station/outlook, parked my bike and caught my breath. The view was amazing. Hawks flew above and below me and tiny lizards skirted around my peripheral vision. There were no other sounds except the wind and the hawks. I took a few pictures and pasted them together using Photoshop. If you want to check out the vista, click the eye icon to the right. Be forewarned: it's a long download. Unless you're on a 28.8 or faster go get a cup of coffee.

[Click on the "eye" icons to see the pictures.]
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Juli & Lebo
[Juli & Lebo]


we took a few pictures this morning outside Lebo & Juli's place before Juli left for the beach. I packed up my stuff and took a quick ride on the rope swing on their property as Lebo, (or as Juli calls him, "Mike",) took some pictures. Spaz that he is, he used up 4 pictures trying to shut the camera off.

Rope Swing
[Rope Swing]
Me & Eco
during the first part of my stay in San Francisco I'm staying with a buddy of mine I met while in studying in London, Brian, and his dog Eco. Brian is the curmudgeon behind If you've never checked it out, I recommend you do.

we walked around his little neighborhood of Russian Hill that afternoon and made the bachelor dinner of spaghetti that night. A few quick pints at Shanghai Kelly's Saloon to relive some old London memories, and we called it a night.

Lombard St.
[Lombard St.]


today was my appointment at San Francisco Toyota to get the wiring fixed on my car so I can signal left hand turns, know what time it is and use my cigarette lighter as a computer battery charger. On top of that I needed to get rid of the loud ratcheting noise my car makes when I turn sharply, (not important unless I need to alter my direction,) and finally get rid of the rear ABS brake light that is always showing on my dash, (not important unless I need to stop.)

after dropping it off I took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) back to Russian Hill and walked the rest of the way to Brian's. Brian is also one block from the famous part of Lombard St., where you can also see a good view of Alcatraz.

when Brian finally did get up we took a bike tour of the city where we saw some interesting street signs, visited the wharf and had lunch at Jimmy's Burger Island where Dirty Harry uttered the famous line: "Go ahead, make my day."

Street Signs
[Street Signs]
  after lunch I called the Toyota guys who informed me that they could not fix most of my electrical system, specifically the clock and the cigarette lighter, because of an after-manufacturer alarm system that had been installed. Bob, (not the same one as from the Motel 6,) told me he could try to fix it by a "touchy feely" method, as he put it, but it didn't sound quite scientific enough for me, so I told him I'd just pick it up as is.

i paid the $50 diagnostic fee and got into my 4Runner. Checking the clock and seeing it was 8:30 EST, (my clock broke on the east coast,) I realized that they had accidentally fixed my clock. I then pushed in the cigarette lighter and lo-and-behold, it popped out steaming hot!

so the moral of the story is that if you're in the Bay Area and you need repairs done to your Toyota, bring it to San Francisco Toyota; they may not know what the hell they're doing, but they're good at it. Just don't tell them or they may charge you for it.

 Brian & Monica
[Brian & Monica]
that night we got all dressed up in our lounge clothes, (o.k., Brian's lounge clothes,) and went down to Bruno's in the Mission. Although the music wasn't lounge that night, the scene certainly was: tons of polyester, hats and wide collars.

we met up with Brian's friend Dave and his girlfriend Monica and had a series of Tanquaray & Tonics which culminated in the bartender buying us a round.

by the way, as much as he would like you to believe it, those are not Brian's real teeth. His real teeth are much worse.

that night they reported a 3.0 earthquake, but I didn't feel a thing.

[The Gang at Bruno's]
[Winchester House of Mystery]
[Spiderweb Windows]


today I headed down to San Jose for the day and went to the Winchester House of Mystery. Mrs. Winchester, who's husband was the president of Winchester Arms, manufacturer of "the gun that won the west", lost her 6 year old daughter and husband within a couple of years and was devastated. Moving from Connecticut to San Jose, she listened to a Boston psychic who told her that the spirits of those killed by Winchester firearms were to blame for the deaths of her loved ones, and she must appease them or she would be next.

how to appease them? By building a house to their specifications, and continue building every day, 365 days a year, ceasing construction on the day she died. Mrs. Winchester hired a professional decorator for only one room, an unused ballroom, and designed the rest herself., working in her love of the number 13 and spider webs in to the design of the house.

unfortunately, she didn't have a lot common sense when it came to planning, and their are doors that open up into walls, staircases that don't go anywhere, and windows with no view.

[Windows with no view]
Outside the Fault Line
[Randy & Me]
there wasn't enough time to go to Santa Cruz to the Mystery Spot, where gravity has no meaning, so I headed over to Intel to meet up with another Skiddie, my friend Randy.

we went to a brew pub called the Fault Line and defended our Thai Seafood Kabobs against some very aggressive ducks while reliving our Skidmore days and catching up on what everyone was doing. He also told me that the Red Sox are playing Oakland on Tuesday, so I may hang out a couple of days longer than I planned.

hydrox 1.4.5
[Hydrox 1.4.5]


my new home away from home is my friends' Jon & Craig, who live in the Mission as artists are wont to do. Jon and I went out to brunch at a great diner called Kate's Kitchen, which Jon tells me had more than one spotting of Kurt Cobain before he shuffled off his mortal coil. After an afternoon of laundry and naps I took off to see one of Craig's bands, Hydrox 1.4.5 open for Vinyl. (You remember them, right? From their days with Phil Lesh.)

oth bands were great, and Jon and I closed the bar at 2am when they finally kicked us out. We then spent about an hour hanging out at the cliffs above San Francisco bay before having a late night snack at the Baghdad Cafe until 4 in the morning. God I love vacation. Will I ever be able to work again?

[Craig on drums]


lebo came down to San Francisco this morning and Jon and I met him at the 4th annual Robot Wars. If you're unfamiliar with Robot Wars, people from all over the world create robots for the sole purpose of putting them in a ring and pitting them against someone else's creation. Warriors such as "The Mauler", "The Scorpion", and "Pookie" battle in one of four different weight classes. It's a Monster Truck Rally for technogeeks.

to get to the ring you have to walk through "The Pit" where all the creators do last minute repairs and adjustments on their creatures. Screwdrivers, hammers and acetylene torches were the tools of choice.

The Pit
[The Pit]
  he robots are radio controlled and do battle in a ring with some booby traps already installed such as swinging boards and motion-sensing spikes. The crowd cheers wildly when damage is inflicted and boos mercilessly when the action slows down. During the better battles smoke rises from the combatants and occasionally whole sheets of metal are thrown against the 10' tall protective glass.

one of the best battles was between "The Scorpion", a robot shaped like it's namesake with a giant metal spike to maul its opponents, and "The Snake", a robot that used no wheels, legs or tracks to move, but rather a series of movements from its several segments. One one end of The Snake was a three-pronged hydraulic claw for holding, and on the other was a long drill for aerating his opponents. The Scorpion won, but everybody left talking about the Snake.

Robot Wars '97
[Scorpion v. Snake]
(Hey, Dave & Eddie: Click on the eye below!!)
Skidmore Pix
[Group Photo]

Skidmore Alert!!

if you don't care about Skidmore or the people I went to college with, feel free to skip right to next week.

good, now that we're alone...

i headed over the Bay Bridge into Berkeley to see some old friends of mine, Dave & Patty B, Siobhan & Eddie and Daniel & Dana. (Do you know when you spellcheck "Siobhan" you get "Soybean?") We went out to an English-style pub for dinner, (and yes, there was other food choices besides fish & chips,) where we all caught up and posed for a picture taken by our server. (Sorry about your head, Eddie.)

  after dinner we headed over to the Triple Rock Brewery where Eddie and I dazzled the regulars (and Dana & Daniel, our competitors,) with our skill at the shuffleboard table. I think the locals are still singing songs about our win.  

next week


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