Friday, August 12, 2005

Catching Up: Sarah and Narda's visit

My eldest stepdaughter, Sarah, and her partner, Narda, stopped out here for a visit at the end of July. They're both wonderful and I always like seeing them. Sarah's getting her Ph.D. in Classics. Narda already has her Ph.D. in Business (organizational behavior, specifically) and is on professorial tenure track. Sarah, Narda, and The Babe spent a day in Portland at the Portland Rose Garden. Sarah and Narda had a great time: everything's in bloom and smelling incredibly fragrant.

The week before the two of them got here, we finally bought a digital camera (a Canon Powershot A95) that does a lot better job that my cell phone for pictures. Here's another example. (And yes, they do "cute" together very well.)

And just because it wouldn't be a trip to the Rose Garden without at least one artsy photo of a rose, here's an artsy photo of a rose.


A day out to see the sea lions

Last Sunday (Aug 7), we decided it was a good day to take a day off and romp around. It was a stressful time because of the house and other things and, darnit, we figured that it'd be lovely to just Do Something Together. We conferred about some of the possibilities and decided that it'd be a luvverly day to go to Florence on the coast to see the sea lion caves and the Heceta Head lighthouse.

We got on the road about noon and toddled off. It's a pleasant enough drive, about 80 miles from where we live, and we got to the actual sea lion caves shortly before 2:00pm. Getting down to see the caves costs money but it's worth it. The concession has been owned and operated by the same family for decades. (I should mention that it's really nippy out there on the coast. Although Eugene had been in the 90s for the umpteenth day in a row that day, it's naturally cooler on the coast (about 52 degrees) and the prevailing 25-40mph winds add a bit of a windchill on top of it. We were both glad we'd brought sweaters and jackets.)

We first went to an observation point off to the left, where you can look down at the sea lions from about a quarter mile away.

The sea lions tend to hang out in part on a big ledge at the bottom of the cliff. A few of them were romping around in the water but most of them were asleep in the sun.

As we watched, we noticed a couple things. First, from that distance, they looked for all the world like slugs. Okay, really huge ENORMOUS slugs, but it still was like a big slithery pile of brown slugs moving around.

Second, you could hear the sea lions from a great distance away. When you have maybe a hundred sea lions in a big slithery pile, they make a lot of noise. The bulls keep declaring their territory for the benefit of the younger males (who are always looking to test the boundaries, themselves), the females are calling out to their young, and the calves are making noise continually for the benefit of any other sea lions in the area. They're noisy!.

We walked over to the other side of the hill and caught the elevator 200 feet down to the caves. (The Sea Lion Caves website has a nice demonstration of what you see: go to the web site here and click the down elevator button to start the demonstration.) For decades, getting down to the caves used to be via a wooden structure with some huge number of steps that would take you down to the cave level. . . and then back up, probably a lot slower. An elevator is a much-appreciated bit of technology.

You can look at the sea lions in the caves. The caves are perfect for lolling around in... particularly if you're a large, fatty sea mammal. There are multiple levels that are easy to get up to from the water and the caves are deep enough to be sheltered from any kind of bad weather that might blow in.

We could see the Heceta Head lighthouse from a side of the cave.

Although there was still time in the day, we decided that we'd leave the lighthouse for another day. We headed back up and drove home directly from the caves, but we stopped at the Gingerbread Village restaurant on the way home for a snack, a half-dozen hands of gin rummy in our eternal gin game, and a shared plate of incredible gingerbread and ice cream. They really do make great gingerbread. It's dark and rich and not overly sweet. It tastes like they're using a lot of molasses in the recipe but they don't use too much sugar, so you taste the richer, subtle flavors rather than just the sugar. (I approve of this.)

We got home safe and sound early that evening. All in all, it was yet another Grand Day Out with my favorite person.


Tales of SMUD

It's always nice to know you're married to the right person. George Elliot said "A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections." Clearly, the person I'm married to shares a taste in the absurd. I related the following recollection to the Babe when we were driving back from Florence, OR, last weekend (pictures coming shortly).

Almost 30 years, I'd just moved to Sacramento. It was getting into campaign season and there were a couple of contested seats on the Sacramento Municipal Utility District--aka "SMUD"--which controlled power, water, and garbage services in the area. A gentleman (well, I think it was a man; I don't honestly recall now) named Hursh was running for one of the seats on the utility board. What stuck in my mind was his campaign signs, which dotted the landscape with an oddly imperative sentence:

Hursh for SMUD!

The Babe thought this was absurdly funny, too. When she finally stopped laughing, she said "Do you recall his first name?" No, I replied, I didn't. She said "Pity it wasn't 'Will,' as it could've been even better:"

Will Hursh for SMUD!

Good to know that we're on the same perverse wavelength.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

"Poditorial" -- it's MY word!!

Okay, so I'm writing about podcasting at the moment. It's fun stuff. John Iasiuolo of the Computer Outlook radio show told me that he'd trademarked "podmercial" (TM). I just was writing a comment about the types of podcasting programs you might have and I coined poditorial. According to a quick Google search, nobody's thought of this one yet. It's mine, damnit, MINE!!!




Yup. I came up with it first and it's all mine!



No new house, yes new house!

It has been a stressful and busy week.

After much discussion, we're not going to continue with the new house we've been building. We talked to the builder and what they want to do and how they want to do it didn't match up with what we're after. They gave us back our earnest money and we're all okay.

This was disappointing for a couple days but it's rapidly becoming clear that this was, in fact, a Good Thing. We've found a house that we're interested in that's much closer to what we want. Oh, yes, the Mascord plan is pretty nice, and the location was very nice, but it was becoming clear as the house moved forward that it actually was just a trifle small for what we'd like. And the neighborhood was beginning to be every so slighly questionable: rumors were around that a few folks were thinking of adding concrete pads for RVs {shudder!}.

We looked at several houses on the market (there really is very little on the market in this town at the moment) and didn't see anything that grabbed us. But we did get a reference from someone who said that he had had his house built by a guy who he liked. We met him. We liked him. And we loved the house he had to show us. So we're planning on getting it. This means that we're going to be moving about this time next year, but that's okay. We'll have more news later.