There’s something about the day today

It started out brisk–almost too brisk for my bike ride to the coffee shop (since the Gaggia’s on the fritz)–but it has warmed up to merely pleasant with lots of sun.

I am suddenly pining for the Bay Area. Badly. It’s been nearly two years since our last trip out there–it’s feeling like it might be time for some travel.

Whoa, that’s weird

So, there’s an Anusara Yoga Teacher Training I just applied to that’s going to be held in Cambridge, MA. I figured I’d apply to it because I know the area well; in fact, I might even be able to crash with people in the area, thereby making the overall experience much cheaper.

So I got the address for the place the event is going to be held and brought it up on Google Maps. Turns out it’s right next to the Porter Square station on the Red Line, which is convenient. I know many great places to eat not but a couple of stops away from there.

And then I started spelunking around.

I checked out the street view of [“the house we lived in”:,+belmont,+ma&sll=35.928933,-78.934454&sspn=0.007706,0.013561&ie=UTF8&ll=42.376031,-71.154681&spn=0.00703,0.013561&z=17&layer=c&cbll=42.375355,-71.1547&panoid=ZGj6SAvZJSyJpd-riyAJSQ&cbp=1,40.75736174282299,,0,5]. I scrolled the street view, watching familiar places go by. I shivered.

I haven’t been back to good old St. Botolph’s Town since late 2000. There were many things I loved about the place–I could rattle off the list of things I would do if I were up there for a week, many involving food–but something about having this very visual remembrance presented to me was kind of unsettling. It was a little too much deja vu. I think it was disturbing, In part, because I feel so remote from the person I was 14 years ago when we left, or, for that matter, the person I was when I was last there almost 8 years ago. To see these things from where I am now feels a little like a pull back towards that person. Going to Tuscaloosa also feels like that.

Once place I would be amused to stop by, though, would be [“the place Anne and I got married”:,+cambridge,+ma&sll=42.381681,-71.14921&sspn=0.056236,0.10849&layer=c&ie=UTF8&cbll=42.36669,-71.105863&panoid=N0MOZRHbakFdF_LhDjT0mg&cbp=1,11.230915647773884,,0,5&ll=42.367486,-71.105887&spn=0.007031,0.013561&z=17].

Oh, and, of course, [“Moody’s Falafel Palace”:,+MA&geocode=&q=moody%27s+falafel+palace&f=l&ie=UTF8&ll=42.365964,-71.104417&spn=0.007031,0.013561&z=17&layer=c&cbll=42.365294,-71.10446&panoid=cHTFHTWzIJrEGBBh1fYk9A&cbp=1,331.1675847796579,,0,5]. Incomparable.

Two things I did at the beach

Perhaps I should say, two *unobvious* things I did while we were at the beach.

I played _Super Mario Kart_ on a _Wii_. I suck at _Super Mario Kart_. In fact, I think I just suck at most fast-twitch games, period. They just move too fast for me. In _SMK_ this manifested as a tendency to run into walls and off the road. Oh, well. Just as in college, where I would happily drink beer and watch Patrick and Joe play _Sonic the Hedgehog_, I was perfectly content to watch and enjoy.

I also played _Rock Band_. I suck at _Rock Band_, too. Interestingly, I suck at _Rock Band_ because I’m unable to disengage from the music and play it as a game. I know too much about how to play, I end up far too attuned to trying to figure out the actual music, and thus lose sight of the real task, pressing buttons in time with lights on screen.

In fact, on the couple of songs that I had never heard, I was able to do OK. On the songs I was familiar with, I could do decent once I had the patterns of the song down. On songs I am intimately familiar with–those that I actually play myself–I was a disaster.


It’s always good to be back.

That we stepped off the plane and immediately drove to the opening of our friend Lila’s “new yoga studio”:, where, much as we expected, we ran into a bunch of people in the kula, and got to tell them about our trip and hear about how we were missed during free week and generally catch up, and then we went to dinner at an “excellent pizza place”:, well, it definitely made us happy to be home again.

They’re more like cows in India

The Guardian, of all places (think: newspaper from cold & dreary nation reporting on happenings in subtropical island paradise), has a story about “the US DOA possibley fining the Hemingway House $200/day for its cats”:

Having been there a couple of times, I know that I would not want to *be* one of those cats–there are 46 of them, and there’s no real way even an institution can really claim to be taking care of them. Sure, they’re putting food out, and I have no doubt that many of the part-time docents really do care about particular cats, but there’s just not enough attention to go around.

No, those cats are feral but habituated to being around people, much, I suspect, like the cows in India, which are allowed to roam, and regarded with affection, but rarely actually cared for. I seem to remember that many are diseased (tuberculosis comes to mind, but geez, that’s got to be wrong, I hope), and since they belong to no one, their lives are, perhaps, not what they might have been.

Back from “October Weddings” Part Deux

Back from a cousin’s wedding in Birmingham. It was, as our travel down to Alabama often is, a whirlwind of seeing everyone we could, if only fleetingly.

The bride was beautiful–the prerogative of all brides, but Corley was especially so–the groom, in his Navy whites, was handsome, and the ceremony was faster than I’ve ever seen before–something about which the bride privately expressed satisfaction–while also being attended by more people than I’ve ever seen at a wedding.

The reception, at Shoal Creek Country Club, was a little over the top. The food was good, though Chet’s caterer has nothing to worry about–I’m not sure, though, that she could have catered 300+ people at the level she achieved for Chet.

At least for immediate family, though, the wedding was under a bit of a pall, because it’s probably the last time most of us are likely to see the bride’s mother. She’s got terminal cancer, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that she’s made it this long through sheer will-power.

Actually, I find that I wrote about all of this “the last time one of my cousins got married”:/2005/06/hmmm-feeling-old.html. The perceptive among you will note that at that time the wedding was scheduled for December.

I wouldn’t say much more, but in the intervening time, I realized the enormous debt I owe Nan, because if she hadn’t organized and hosted a Christmas party for my Dad’s side of the family every year for the last dozen years or so–pretty much since my last year of college–most of that side of my family would be much more distant to me than they are.

I don’t know any way to repay that, but I hope that wishing her peace and comfort might make a start.

Hmmm, feeling old.

So I went to my cousin Ben’s wedding in Atlanta. It was nice to see people, it seemed to be the ceremony they were looking for, boy, the suit I was wearing sure was hot, hotter than it was when I wore it in New Orleans in May a couple of years ago, etc.

The odd thing for me is that it was the first wedding I’ve been to that actually made me feel old. Not decrepit or anything, just…old. I think this is because this is the first wedding for someone I actually remember as an infant.

Chris and Jennifer are close enough to my age that I really don’t remember them as infants at all–my memory just doesn’t go back that far. I remember them when they were young, certainly, but I suspect that even a lot of that is matching (or even constructing) memories to pictures I’ve seen in the intervening time span.

Ben, however, was born in 1981, just a few months before we moved to Germany, and I actually remember him as an infant. In fact, I am now only a few years younger than his parents were when *I* got married (not, as I was reminded repeatedly, that I told them for a couple of years–this, I hypothesize, is why I will never get asked to be part of any wedding party).

So. Old.

I suspect another part of it is that another cousin of mine, Nan–a contemporary of Ben’s mother, Dru (my Dad’s younger sister), and a close friend of hers, who I called Aunt at least until I was in college and figured out what the real relationship was–is gravely ill with cancer. She wasn’t able to attend the wedding–and was much missed–because she was just starting another round of chemotherapy. It is to the point that I think they’re just hoping that it will allow her to hang on until her daughter’s wedding in December.

And that really makes me ache.

Now I don’t have a feel for whether I’ve lost more or fewer family members than most people my age–only a handful, really, which seems like it’s probably about par for the course–and while I have a deep affection for my extended family, we’re not absurdly close–I grew up away from the center of my parents’ families in Birmingham, and now as an adult I generally only see them at Christmas (generally at Nan’s house, in fact) or at weddings, just because of the demands on everyone’s time and energy.

But the fact is, if I search back as far as I can, my earliest discrete memories are actually–sorry Mom, Dad–of Nan and Dru.

I remember, oh so vaguely, visiting the Grand Canyon when while we were stationed out West in 1973/1974, and being very very concerned that Dru and Nan were far too close to the edge of the canyon.

I also remember, sometime the next year, while Mom and Chris (then an infant) and I were living in Birmingham–Dad having been stationed for a year in Korea, where we were not allowed to tag along–spending one (of many, I suspect, but I only remember the one) night at my Dad’s parents house, and Nan had come to spend the night as well.

So anyway, this is someone whose presence I have, as they say, taken for granted–and while this is in many ways true of the other relatives I’ve lost, they had all had more time, time to see their children and often even grandchildren grow up. They had had, in the end, a good run, while Nan’s time seems all to…short.

Anyway, if you’ve read this far, I guess I owe you something amusing, so let me try this: Ben’s sister just graduated from High School, and is going to Barnard College this fall to study dance. It should not be a surprise–though I suspect it will still be amusing–to find that she is also slated to be in a show in December with “the Rockettes”:

It’s the current big meme

But who am I to resist?

So, the rules are, underline places you’ve lived, bold places you’ve visited, italicize where you live now. I daresay that mine is not a too-typical liberal profile, seeing as how most of the places I’ve lived in my life are “Red States”, including the place I currently live:

bq. _Alabama_ / Alaska / _Arizona_ / Arkansas / _California_ / Colorado / *Connecticut* / Delaware / _Florida_ / _Georgia_ / Hawaii / Idaho / *Illinois* / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / *Louisiana* / Maine / *Maryland* / _Massachusetts_ / *Michigan* / Minnesota / *Mississippi* / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / *New Jersey* / New Mexico / *New York* / ??North Carolina?? / North Dakota / *Ohio* / Oklahoma / Oregon / *Pennsylvania* / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / *Tennessee* / *Texas* / Utah / Vermont / _Virginia_ / Washington / West Virginia / *Wisconsin* / Wyoming / _Washington D.C_

I suspect it is also atypical that I’ve lived within spitting distance of as many places as I’ve visited (9 vs 13)–but that’s just the result of being a military brat. If you set a minimum of, say, four days on how long you had to stay somewhere before you could say you’ve visited, the number of places I’ve visited would drop dramatically. CT, MS, NY, OH and WI would all fall off, and I’d have lived more places than I’ve visited.

Oh, and should you wish to pursue the meme yourself, “this cgi”: can make it easier to do so.

Miguel de Icaza goes to the middle east.

“Miguel de Icaza”:, apparently-never-sleeps mastermind behind “Gnome”: and “Mono”:, “went to Turkey and Lebanon”:

Yeah, _that_ Lebanon. During the protests. And since Miguel is the sort of person who seems to be at home in any situation, he went and saw the protests. And talked to people. And took pictures.

There’s no deep analysis here, he just relates what the people he talked to told him. And, as encounters with people most often seem to be, it’s interesting.

Adventures in wine country

The morning started off early–no appreciable acclamatization to the time change had taken place.

After a nice breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel, “Anzu”:, I went across the street to National Car Rental, got a car, and headed north.

I must say, the drive is fast when you’re going opposite prevailing traffic–I was in Sonoma in roughly an hour, and took the time to stop in “a little net cafe there”: to download some email and post yesterday’s entry.

I then headed to “Ravenswood”:, where I tasted quite a bit of wine, and then, to let my blood-alcohol level get back into a normal range, chatted with the people behind the counter for the better part of an hour and then arranged to have a mixed case of wine shipped back to North Carolina.

The most unexpected wine would have to be a Moscato that you could probably sub in for any non-dry Reisling–it’s sweet, but not cloyingly so. They also had a nice early-harvest Gewurztraminner that _is_ quite dry.

An unfortunate casualty of recent expansions in the wine business is that they are no longer able to get enough grapes to bottle their Amador County Zinfandel, which I rather like. Oh, well.

Interestingly, they were aquired in the none-too-distant past by Constellation, which is the same company that just paid more than a billion-with-a-b dollars for the Mondavi brands.

Already well behind schedule–and I’d only hit one winery!–I decided to skip Arrowood (who had not had anything compelling last time Anne and I were there) and head directly to “Wellington Vineyards”: The person behind the counter there was not as garrulous as the crew at Ravenswood, but we did have a nice chat, and I picked up two bottles of their Criolla Port–a tawny, a previous bottling of which was the first thing that attracted us to them–and their Mohrhardt Ridge and Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignons each. The Mohrhardt Ridge, especially, is a wonderful wine.

Having gotten out of there more quickly than I expected to, I then headed further north than we usually make it, to “Alexander Valley Vineyards”: I had a nice chat with the guy behind the bar, and tried several things. Their New Gewurz is nice, but not as good as the Ravenswood–I’ve also seen the label before, so I figured we could pick it up locally if we wanted some. Their 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon is an award winner, and I picked up a couple of bottles of that. Their Sangiovese is a nice, light, very drinkable red, of which I got a bottle. What really impressed me, though, was their 2002 Pinot Noir, which I thought very interesting and very smooth.

I was apparently interesting and talkative enough that I also got to have a taste of their 1998 Cyrus–a mostly-Cabernet that is very, very nice. If we hadn’t been going to a vegeterian restaurant, and I hadn’t been sure how it would have stood up to a Cabernet, I might have bought a bottle to drink that night. As it was, though, I just savored my sample.

From there, I headed south through Santa Rosa and Napa. I stopped at Dean and Deluca for a very late lunch and to get some chocolates for Anne in an attempt to atone for the fact that I’d already bought two cases of wine and I had one more stop.

I also called Chet, to inquire as to whether he would be terribly disappointed if I wasn’t able to get him the bottle of the “Domaine Carneros”: La Rev that I intended to get for him and Erin into his hands before the actual wedding. He allowed as how that was OK, and if I picked him up a couple of bottles of their reserve Pinot Noir, they might arrange to come and pick them up before October.

Carneros is always beautiful, and in addition to tasting their Pinot, I got to sample their 1998 La Rev, which is, to my taste, everything a Champaigne should be.

And then I headed back to the city, to drop the car off before the 6pm deadline. I did so, but I failed the IQ test that is opening the door over the gas cap–it turned out to be simple, but non-obvious–so we got reamed a bit on the refill.

After catching up with Anne’s undergraduate roomate, who’s here for her job at Yale Law, we went with UNC’s Associate Dean to “Millennium”:, the only vegetarian restaurant I believe I’ve ever been to. Forget your preconcieved notions, it’s really good. Sometimes it’s hard to anticipate what the dish is going to be like, but they were all quite good.

And then we went back to the hotel and collaped.


So, we headed out to Cali yesterday morning. Our flight to Newark was uneventful, as was our flight to SFO, although we sat next to a painter and her cat–her husband and her other cat (in a bizarre coincidence, a male named Tucker) were across the aisle.

Her website “has some interesting material”: She was very interesting to talk to.

We also saw ??The Bourne Supremacy?? and ??Vanity Fair??. ??The Bourne Supremacy?? seemed a perfectly reasonable film of its type–a reasonable way to pass an hour and a half. ??Vanity Fair?? actually left me interesting in reading the book for I wonder how the book itself treats Becky Sharp.

The movie seems to portray her as someone who starts off as a good, if driven, woman who gradually loses her way in the fairly amoral environment she ascends to–her desire to climb socially doesn’t seem as calculating as it might have been, and she shows a lot of compassion to a lot of people during the process, perhaps more than she might be expected to.

Anyway, we landed, got to Hotel Nikko, discovered that we didn’t have reservations–apparently a fuckup on the part of the conference organizers–but we were able to talk our way in anyway. We took a swim, then went for a fairly early dinner at the Tadich Grill.

While it’s probably not a tourist trap _per se_, it’s probably got a lot of tourists going to it. We might not have gone except for Anne’s mother who seemed to want to experience it vicariously.

The food was good, although it’s a very no-nonsense environment. I had a petrala sole, charcoal grilled, that was quite nice with nothing more than lemon. As a side dish, the spinach with garlic is highly recommended. And we got to see set of twins who are “apparently some sort of local institution”:

Then we went back to the hotel and slept. Now I’m sitting in a cafe in Sonoma, it’s just hit 10am, and I’m about to go hit a bunch of wineries.

Quite a weekend

So, Anne and I spent the weekend in New York with a friend of ours, Allyson Edwards, and several other of her friends to celebrate Allyson’s birthday.

The fact is, I’ve only ever been in Manhattan one other time, in May of 2003, when my occasional boss, Tim Brack, had Chet and I up to i.e. Marketing’s backwoods-NJ HQ for a design-and-work meeting and dragged us into Manhattan one night to meet some of the people from Universal. It was fun, but I only saw a fraction of it over the course of a few hours.

h4. The flight out

So after work on Friday, I took the Metro down to Reagan National and caught a Delta Shuttle to La Guardia. National is sixteen zillion times easier to get to than Dulles–it’s a 20-minute Metro ride that drops you right at the terminal, rather than a 30-minute Metro ride that puts you at a twice-an-hour shuttle. I’m hoping I can find reasonable flights home from there in the future because it’s just so much easier.

Anyway, I made it in plenty of time for my flight, got on, and found out that on flights between DC and New York, there is _No Standing_. As in, the airplane might as well not have a lavatory because you will not be allowed to make use of it. And if you try, they will land the plane as fast as possible and let you speak to some Federal Marshals about how you’re not allowed to stand.

I think if my outrage-ometer weren’t so consistently pegged these days I’d be a lot more pissed-off, or at least snarky, about how police-state it is to tell people that they can’t even use the bathroom without having to talk to the cops. As it is, I just make sure I don’t drink a lot of water beforehand.

The view flying in, shortly after the sun had set, was truly amazing.

h4. The entry to Manhattan

I got into La Guardia and caught a cab to our hotel, the Doubletree Times Square.

This was something of a silly ride, as I was alternatively taking down numbers of the limo that was going to pick me up at the hotel and take me to the restaurant everyone had already gone to and using my Treo to try and deal with some AnteSpam issues–our DNS server went down and it was causing sever mail processing delays.

Times Square does nothing for me–too many people, too fast, too…too. Edgy only does it for me after I’ve worked up to it–most of the time, it’s just not interesting. Inside the hotel (which had guards who wouldn’t let you in without a key, which presented an interesting problem since the reservation was in Anne’s name, not mine, etc.) was calm. I dropped off my stuff, called the aforementioned limo rider and then went downstairs to wait.

h4. Am I a celebrity?

There is something surreal when a huge limo wallows up to the curb to pick you, and you alone, up. The limo had a bar–whiskey and vodka, with a couple of bottles of wine the other participants had brought along earlier. I passed for the moment, preferring to watch the landscape drift by, and to notice that the little star-lights in the roof gradually changed color.

I eventually arrived at Trattoria Sambuca, where the meal had only just gotten started. It was nice, and I got introduced to the other ten or so people there, including the two women named Ann (this becomes a source of amusement during later events). I forgot pretty much all of the new names immediately, as is my unfortunate wont. I suck, suck, suck at remembering names. It probably guarantees that I have no future in politics.

It was a nice meal, done somewhat family-style (since there were so many people)–I would be willing to eat there again. When everyone was done, we called back up the limo and took off to drive around until the limo turned into a pumpkin at midnight.

We stopped once to replenish the wine stores–a Hess Chardonnay and a Ravenswood Zinfandel (inexpensive and reliable both) and something else that I forget but was pretty good.

We also stopped to take a picture at Rockefeller Center, which was kind of fun since I’ve been reading ??Live from New York??, the oral history of SNL, most of which takes right there at 30 Rock.

I had occasion to call Chet to ask a question that I had already forgotten the answer to by the time I hung up (sad, isn’t it–a little wine and the short-term memory goes to shit). It was mostly an excuse to be able to deliver the amusing line that I was cruising around Manhattan in a limo full of women.

We made it back to the hotel around midnight and everyone piled in to sleep off their sulfites.

h4. Shambling to consciousness

We woke up relatively late, and convened in the lobby around 9:30am to catch the subway to attend the organized bit of the trip, the U.S. Open. We took the subway out to Flushing Meadows–right next to Shea Stadium and, in fact, La Guardia–which was a good 40 minute ride. The NY subway system is probably an order of magnitude bigger than any other I had direct experience with except possibly the London Underground. It is also by far the shabbiest. Still, it’s not outrageously expensive, and it’s a boatload cheaper than taxis.

h4. And we’re at the U.S. Open

We got to the Tennis Center (after a bit of standing on line for bag checks) and found our way to Arthur Ashe stadium, where we watched Roger Federer pretty much demolish Fabrice Santoro from the shade at the side of of the big press box–the seats weren’t actually ours, but the shade was worth it, and we got away with it. 😉

Once that match was over, we ducked out and got something to eat. That was not cheap, though the food was better than you might have expected–they had the only Indian fast-food kiosk I’ve ever seen, complete with Mango Lassis.

We then went into the general admission part of the Louis Armstrong stadium, and watched the beginning of Carlos Moya’s match against Olivier Rochus. It began to get intolerably hot (I had, it a fit of fuckwittedness, not packed shorts, had no sunglasses, and was stubborn enough not to want to wear a hat), so Anne and I ducked out, found some shade, drank a lot of water and watched Moya go down on a monitor outside. I napped a bit.

In all truth, we weren’t having a huge amount of fun in the middle there; it was too hot and uncomfortable. But about 3:45, the sun started to abate, and we went to watch Agassi play. And that definitely redeemed the experience.

Agassi just powered his way through Jiri Novak. For a guy who, at 34, is apparently being accused of being washed up at the beginning of each season, he certainly seems to be doing OK. This is his 18th U.S. Open, and I guess he’s making up what he doesn’t have in raw speed and endurance with experience and cunning, because he was playing good tennis.

It wasn’t all one big service game, either. There were some long volleys and hard-won points. It really did make up for having to endure the heat in the middle of the day. We’re already contemplating coming back next year.

The final game actually had a point when it was advantage Agassi, and he hit a shot that everyone thought was in–everyone stood up, many started clapping–and then it was called out. People actually _booed_ the call.

Agassi proceeded to take the next two points with no fuss, as if to prove a point.

And then, we left.

h4. Dinner in the Village (or three women named Ann (or Anne) and Steve)

No, not “that Village”:, Greenwich Village.

So, we got back from the Open, and many of the party were going to some bar where the local Alabama Alumni association convenes to watch football games–there was a game last night. The three women named Ann (or Anne) and I had no interest in that, so we decided to go get dinner. Ann Jones’s brother had recommended “Lupa”:, so we decided to go there, and if we had to wait, well, there are worse ways to pass the time than walking around the Village.

Indeed, we didn’t even get seated until after 10pm.

Dinner was wonderful. To start we had a nice escarole and onion salad, a cold squash soup and the absolute stomp-down best thing in a night that had a lot of really good food, a salad of beets and pistachios with a creme fraisch sort of dressing.

I don’t care if you don’t like beets, this is not to be missed.

After that we had a tuna belly (think skirt steak) with a puttanesca-style dressing, a striped bass that was crusted with something and pan fried, a “minute steak” (beaten skirt steak) that enclosed braised radiccio and arugula and other things, and a fish the name of which I forget that was served whole, battered and fried (and was presented on the plate as if it were swimming through the water.

It was all amazing. If we hadn’t gotten beers while we were walking around, we probably would have had dessert. It did look quite wonderful, but no one had the wherewithall to handle it.

Having mentioned the menu, it should come as no surprise that picking a wine to go with all of those dishes is a little hard. And the wine list is all Italian, and the only Italian wines I knew about are Chiantis and Moscatos, neither of which really applied here.

So we asked for recommendations, and our waitress referred us to Zack, who we assume is the sommelier despite the fact that his sense of appropriate work dress and facial heair is apparently about the same as mine. He was impressed by our dilemma–and in fact ended up suggesting a bottle of _A Maccia_ Pigato for the three people with fish and a glass of red for Ann Jones’s beef.

I really liked the Pigato–it’s a very crisp and cool white, not very acid or oakey, and it cut through the saltiness of the puttanesca that came with my fish very well.

He was even more impressed, though, that I was sitting at a table with three attractive women all named Anne. And he misremembered my name as Steve at one point, which became something of a running joke.

It was a lot of fun, and, frankly, pretty goddamn reasonable considering the quality.

(Perhaps some day I will declaim about how I much prefer hanging out with women than men. The short version is that they’re infinitely more willing to listen to me yammer incessantly and drunkenly about myself.)

Finally, some time early, early this morning, we got back to the hotel and got to sleep.

h4. Getting the Hell out of Dodge

So we got up at 9:30, in time to see everyone off to another day of the U.S. Open, including some Serena Williams action. We, however, needed to kill a few hours and then catch our planes.

We packed up, checked out and decided to go look at the Met. When we got to the Met, though, we discovered that they will not allow you in with any luggage, and they have no place to hold it. So we moved on, and walked along Central Park for a bit, and then went and sat near a pond where people were playing with their radio-controlled boats and talked and enjoyed the 70 degree weather.

Then we adjourned to One c.s.p, the bistro in the Plaza Hotel, where we had a lovely lunch of a mixed greens salad, some sun-dried tomato and ricotta ravioli and some quite wonderful onion soup that was topped with puff-pastry and gruyere melted onto it–a great variation on the traditional French onion soup.

And then we caught a cab to the airport.

BTW, if you’re ever in DC

and looking for free WiFi and good coffee, I feel obligated to recommend “Tryst”:, in the Adams-Morgan part of town. The posts from Tuesday were all written there while having a cup before a meeting with some potential clients.

When I was…um…13…

(I had no memory of the exact time until I read the dates off the paperwork)

…I went to Berlin. This was 1983, well before the wall came down, and my father’s mother and sister and her husband had all come to visit–we’d been in Germany a little over two years at that time–and so we all went to Berlin.

Berlin was an interesting place, although like so much of our time in Europe, I really wasn’t old enough to truly appreciate it. It was definitely the biggest city I’d ever been in, even with a wall running through it.

I guess it says how much of a geek I am that, although I do have some fuzzy memories of seeing the Berlin Flughaven, and Checkpoint Charlie and KaDeWe, and the wall itself, my most immediate memory is actually of sitting on the troop train in…Frankfurt, I guess, although that could be wrong, waiting to leave, reading the new issue of ??Compute!?? magazine.

And no, I never actually got to see East Berlin. In order to be sure to not get picked up by the Stasi for spying, Allied service personnel had to wear full unform when actually in East Berlin. My dad forgot his regulation tie, and had nowhere he could get another, and we were advised that it would be best not to take any chances–if it wasn’t a regulation tie, it was better not to go.

Anyway, this reminiscence was provoked by going by a box of old stuff in my closet (part of the aforementioned office cleanup project), and finding a copy of the orders that were required for us to be able to cross East Germany to get to West Berlin via the troop train.

The individual images are kinda big (300K+), so be warned.

More SF trip

The next morning in Sonoma, took a couple of random pictures.

Stopped at a few wineries, and picked up a case-worth of wine to bring back. The most important was probably “Wellington Vineyards”:, where we picked up quite a lot of their most excellent port.

SF trip

Flew in the afternoon of the 27th. Saw the Dorado crew for lunch, then drove up the coast. Stopped at Rockaway Beach (I think) to take some pictures.

After this we continued on to Sonoma.

Fun in the sunshine state.

Of course, it was amazing to realize that it’s been three years and ten months since we left Miami to move to Durham–that means we’ve been in Durham almost as long as we were in Miami, and that Durham is very soon going to be come the second longest time I’ve lived in one place, and not very long after that, the longest time I’ve lived in one place (the current holder of the title being a small villiage about 20km outside of Ramstein AFB, Germany).

Anyway, we decided to travel back because various and sundry of our friends here have new children, and, well, it’s been a heck of a winter–the beginning of March seemed like a reasonable time to bug-out and absorb some heat.

Nor were we disappointed–instead of the normal temperatures in the 70s you see this time of year, Miami has experienced a bit of a minature heat-wave, and has been seeing summer-like temperatures in the 90s.

The flight was uneventful, and we got to the first place we were spending the night with only some small period of time spent lost, though it did serve to remind us that Miami was not a place of unalloyed delight.

The next day was fun–lunch at a the Miss Saigon Bistro, a better-than-average Vietnamese restaurant.

We spent Saturday morning at Fairchild Tropical Gardens, from which I came away with a bunch of pictures.