Thursday, April 29, 2010

Time to Settle

Last Sunday we hosted some boys from Henry's school at a "Settlers of Catan" party. If you don't know the game, and you happen to have a boy or two laying around, it's a dickering, bartering, colonizing contest especially designed with this age group in mind. It's basically medieval monopoly/risk without three bazillion hours of seemingly never ending game time. For what it's worth, neither Monopoly nor /Risk come to mind when I am thinking of a board game to play. That is unless I am stuck on a deserted island with 8 years of endless boredom on the horizon before any hope of rescue arrives. Even then I think I might create my own game out of dead crabs and coconut shells.

Much fun was had. There was plenty of land conquering, resource bartering and, of course, eating. We had to take a break about every thirty minutes to feed the players. They ate three large bag of Chex Mix in roughly the same manner as piranhas eat convicted pirates trapped in a cage in an old horror flick. Eight boys can devour that stuff like locus on a feeding frenzy across the great plains. It's awe inspiring.

The whole group of 5th graders....

Henry questions the position of the die marker...

Josh and Tyler try to come to an agreement to trade resources while Jack lends his two cents to the economics of the deal. Wheat for bricks? I wouldn't do it if I were you ...

Chaya smiling in the way that only folks who have the upper hand in the deal can...

Sam waxing philosophic on the pros and cons of port control. He obviously had one already.

And as an interesting side note - we recently discovered that, while we knew that Henry and Chaya were both from Cambodia, they were in the same orphanage at the same time! What are the odds of two little babies in an orphanage outside of Phnom Penh, adopted by two families who lived a continent apart, would end up in the same Elementary School in SF? Yet, here they are. And great friends to boot. Amazing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Close Call

Today, the Board of Supervisors in Santa Clara County have voted to ban restaurants from giving away toys accompanying children's meals unless those meals meet their accepted levels of calories, fat, salt and sugar.

1. My deepest thanks to those 5 board members. How on Earth was I going to be able to make an informed decision about my child's nutritional health unless I was provided with the Toy / No Toy give away? The world, or at least children in Santa Clara County, is a safer and healthier place today. Finally the parents in Santa Clara have been given the secret key to the garden of knowledge about the nutritional value of Burger King kid's meals. Until now, who knew that a cheeseburger and fries wasn't all that great for you?

2. Of late I have been wondering about the serious issues being undertaken by various government servants throughout the United States. I am comforted to know that, at least in Santa Clara, those five venerable supervisors have proven that things like the black-hole of California's state budget, the jobless rate in CA and the provision of basic services to their constituents such as public education or enough police coverage are secondary to passing laws about including wind-up Mr. Potato Heads with hamburgers. Who ever elected this gifted group of genius to these positions should be congratulated. Could they have anticipated the extent to which this quintet of bureaucrats could tackle such lofty issues? I don't think so.

I'm gonna rest a whole lot easier tonight. And tomorrow? Tomorrow, I'm gonna buy a whole bunch of happy meals and send them to the board for all their hard work. They won't get the toys though. This ought to confuse the day lights out of them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Match Made in Heaven

In the good old days when woman felt that good old UTI feeling coming on, (you know the one where you sit down to take a little wee wee and suddenly it feels like there's a tiny little ball of flesh eating acid permanently lodged in your wahookee?) you hied yourself as fast as you could to your family doctor and peed in a cup. No so any longer. This morning I was introduced to the UTI kiosk. As fine a meeting as I ever have made so far in this lifetime.

No more trying to figure out what a "clean catch" is. No more peeing all over your hand. No more carrying that little warm glass of bacteria laden liquid to the nurse. No more waiting to get that clinical diagnosis from someone measuring microbes and pathogens in your netherlands. Nope. Thanks to the whizdom of technology, you can now just belly right up to the UTI Kiosk, answer some electronic questions - whizzzz - out pops your prescription just like an ATM receipt.

It's a marvel. It's the one of the world's finest scientific inventions. It makes the ATM look like it has no brain just taking deposits and spitting out twenties. THIS computer kiosk can tell you whether or not you have a UTI by merely standing in front of it with a germ infested telephone receiver jammed to your ear! As if you didn't already know exactly what it was that was ailing ya since you are sort of doing the painful pee pee dance while you're plugging in your answers. But Jeepers! Is this not the perfect marriage between medicine and applied science for the common-folk? Screw your gamma knives. This thing is useful for 50% of the population at least one time or another in their lives.

The only improvement that I could see was if you could log on to the UTI program at home and have the door bell ring 20 minutes later with a speedy delivery man hand delivering the phenazopyridine to you personally.I'm sure that's somewhere down the line in the future. I've seen the Jetsons. I know this is possible.

As for now...Kiosks. they're not just for airline tickets any more.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Not enough

Today in the San Francisco Chronicle, one of the morning's top stories was that the SF Gay men's national baseball team was recently disqualified for "not being Gay enough."

What a blow to SF. Or not. According to the arbitors of the objection filed by another national team in the league, turns out that they were playing with more than 2 heterosexuals - although both men in question claimed to be bisexual. But, in the eyes of the governing board, being bisexual is just not "gay enough."

Alas. SF stripped of it's second place finish.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Time to Move....

Rumor has it that our home renovation may actually be starting soon. Having been anticipating this moment for the last 8 months, I remain skeptical. But, the plans have been revised AGAIN, and the GC is ready to bid it out AGAIN and we think we have the right plan AGAIN. Like I said, skeptical.

Still, I did a little temporary apartment recon today. We'll be out of the house for about seven months in GC speak. I am going to translate that to 12 months in layman's speak. While we haven't ever done a house remodel ourselves, many friends and associates have and they have informed us that GC's always lie. It's not that they're dishonest. It is reported that they are just unable to accurately foretell how long it's going to take them to build something. Kind of gives you a little pause. If they can't tell how long it's going to take, how much do they really know about building? You'd think that they'd learn from experience. Obviously, it's a steep and never ending learning curve.

I have been considering just keeping it simple and moving to a large apartment complex right down the road. Pros? It's a big complex so I can be more flexible with move-in/move-out constraints. The rents are fairly reasonable for SF. It's owned and managed by a professional company so I don't have to worry about trying to appease a landlord or learn to manage their weird landlord habits for the short time we will be there. They don't mind dogs. Cons? The units look just like you'd expect a run 'o the mill apartment / townhouse to look like. Personality = zip. There are no laundry facilities in the units. There are nearby laundry facilities, but damn, the thought of hanging out at the wash 'omatic with my unknown neighbors and their unknown dirty laundry isn't thrilling me. I do a boat load of laundry in a week. And last, the storage space within the units is limited. I'm going to have to enter in to a deeply intimate relationship with Ikea and the Container Store just to pack our crap in there.

What I want is to find a cool apartment, with the perfect amount of space, for cheap, with parking and laundry and storage. I want a miracle. I'm not going to get that. I will manage my expectations. I hope.

There are few open houses this weekend for other semi-interesting places. Will go to a few. But in the end, I suspect that I will take the path of least resistance and head over for a few months of Parkmerced living. Alas. Hello? Ikea? Can I get some plastic stackable bins, please??

Monday, April 12, 2010

Nice View

Back home after a Spring break journey down the coast of the great state of California. As of yesterday, all boys were back to their routines, two youngers to school, the older to work. Me, I just did a billion loads of laundry and went to the grocery store. Yup. Everything back to our regularly scheduled programming.

For our trip, we traveled south along the coast by storm on the way from SF to San Diego - literally. Our first day of driving was wet, windy and winding. The scenery eerily beautiful. At one point, we pulled over to check out a nifty old lighthouse standing sentinel over the pacific in the storm.

Given the wildly inclement weather, the youngers declined getting out of the car at all to do some exploring. Lighthouse, Schmighthouse. I made it about 50 feet from the car and realized that without serious foul weather gear and sturdier waterproof shoes I was going to be unhappy for the next 4 hours sitting sopping and shivering in the car. I scurried back to the safety of the auto. George the Elder powered through and got over to the edge of the sea wall. Good man. I never did ask him how the next three hours were with wet boxers.

We spent the night at a total throw-back to those good old days when the family Woody would have pulled in to this place - Mom and Dad sucking down Luckys in their matching Bermuda shorts and the kids in the back wearing straw cowboy hats and stiff dungarees. The Ragged Point Inn was a retro treat. It was so retro, I don't think it's been updated since 1960 - except for the electric fireplace that was the sole source of heat. This must have been a vast improvement over what I can only imagine was being handed a cord of wood and some lighter fluid when you checked in in the "good-ole-days."

We spent one night there and then headed down to coast a little further to check out Hearst's Castle. More photos next post....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Super Powers

Last week we had some mighty fine weather here in the bay area. The kind of weather that makes you ball up all your sweaters and toss them on the high shelf in your attic. The kind of weather that compels you to change that big puffy feather filled cloud of duvets into the more manageable harbinger of Spring called the regular old blanket.

And then came yesterday. I won't whine too much about it since I realize that what's cold here in SF is balmy compared to the frozen tundra that was the mid-west this year and the snowmageddon that was the east. But whine a little I must.

The rain poured down yesterday (and yes, I fully understand that we are not Rhode Island that our interstates are still above the water line) - and the temp dropped perilously to 45 degrees. In our own weeny way - that's a big deal. Cold and wet. A bad combo.

When it came for bed I quickly considered, and then dismissed, getting the yummy warm duvet. I was too lazy to riffle through the closet and get down the now hermetically sealed puffy concoction (which when trapped in one of those air-sucking storage bag only measures about 24 inches square and about 1.5 inches tall - I still get a little thrill about the whole take the air out make shit small thing..). So, I hopped in to bed and tried to warm up.

In the middle of the night I awoke. Cold feet still not warm. Cold nose never gonna get warm. Inclination to climb out of marginal warmth in to cold room to hunt down plastic encased source of warmth not happening. So I lay there and tried to imagine myself warm.

I imagined beaches. I imagined saunas. I imagined Cambodia. I imagined holding cups of steaming tea. I imagined having an increase of inspiration and motivation to haul my happy ass out of bed and just get the damn comforter - or just a pair of socks for krissake. I imagined a hot flash right about then would have been a bodacious happy coincidence.

And then I though, hey? What's the deal with that? Why can't you just conjure them up when it's convenient? Why can't having hot flashes be a super power? Most woman get them for some period of time in their lives. Usually they come when you don't want them. You're standing in the grocery line and all of a sudden you feel like Charlie McGee from the Firestarter has taken out a vendetta on you for no reason at all. You're having a perfectly fine night of sleep when all of Satan's minions take it upon themselves to remind you of the temperature in hell. Yeah, the whole thing is mostly insanely inconvenient.

So, I'm thinking, since there's nothing to be done about hot flashes and their fickleness in coming and going - - shouldn't there be some kind of counterbalance? Some kind of compensation that would make the whole of menopause a more equitable scenario between woman and nature? Like being able to call on hot flash at will.

You get a little chilly in the refrigerated food section at that same market - you have the super power to conjure up a little warmth. The automatic seat warmers in your car are on the fritz...go cross buns! You're too lazy to drag your keister out of bed on a chilly night - gazinga! You've got toasty tootsies.

I imagined it would only be the fair and just solution. I also imagined that you might be required to wear your super power super suit under your clothing at all times, but if it also held your middle aged jiggly butt in check I think that many of us would get on board. And it was on that that thought, that the need to sleep overcame the need for warmth. I curled up in to the trying-to-get-warm fetal position and dreamt of Fiji instead. Yup, I had about the same chance of really being on a beach in Fiji as I did bringing forth the inner-body-broil of a hot flash. Alas. Life is not fair.