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skinny-dip marin! [Jun. 12th, 2016|11:10 am]

One thing about the Bay Area is that, despite having this big bay right here, there aren't that many places that are very appealing to go swimming on a hot summer day -- the bay itself, with its muddy shore, mostly seems too icky.

I found an article in a Marin newspaper where the author helpfully includes a list of skinny-dipping locales, some of which sound like great swimming holes:

>>The law [against skinny-dipping] isn't being enforced at the better-known nudie spots, which include Little Beach; Red Rock Beach, south of Stinson Beach; Hagmier Pond, near Dogtown; and Bass Lake, a swimming hole accessible by the Palomarin Trail, or some of the lesser-known spots, including the Inkwell, near Samuel P. Taylor State Park; RCA Beach, near Bolinas; and Sculptured and Limantour beaches in Point Reyes National Seashore.

And, oddly, skinny-dipping and nudity at the main bathing area at Muir Beach would be technically legal because it's National Park Service land, governed by federal law, Berberian says.<<

* http://www.yelp.com/biz/bass-lake-bolinas
* http://www.yelp.com/biz/rca-beach-bolinas
* http://www.yelp.com/biz/sculptured-beach-point-reyes-station
* http://www.yelp.com/biz/limantour-beach-point-reyes-station
* http://www.yelp.com/biz/phoenix-lake-ross
* http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-inkwells-lagunitas

The inkwells, in particular, look like a perfect summer swimming hole. Dogs are allowed too!
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todo [May. 15th, 2016|11:55 pm]

* Weekend trip to Sacramento.
* Visit fam in Davis, by airplane if possible.
* Drawbridge.

* Pancakes on Mt. Tam.
* Hike with the Cal Alpine Club on Mt. Tam.
* Infiltrate the Tourist Club.
* Find the tree nets on Mt. Tam.

* Visit the Core of Engineers' Bay Model.
* Swim in various swimming holes.
* Meet Wes Modes.

* Essex.
* Fort Awesome.
* Swim in the Aqua Delta pool again.
* Ephemerisle.
* Delta adventure.

* Blue Sky Sustainable Living Cntr.
* Kayaking in the delta.
* Kayaking somewhere bioluminescent.
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wilderness [May. 3rd, 2016|09:38 pm]
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Today in my job at Google: eight hour wilderness first aid training.

I believe this is somewhat unusual.
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prize [May. 3rd, 2016|09:37 pm]
[Current Location |Alameda, CA]

Hey, I won a prize! The "Breakthrough Prize" -- which I had never heard of before, but which is being touted as some kind of new Nobel Prize -- was just awarded to the three inventors of LIGO and the 1000 authors of the discovery paper. My share of the prize is approx $2000.

I want to donate it... Who would be a worthy and impactful recipient? Something about STEM education.
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(no subject) [May. 3rd, 2016|12:28 am]
[Current Location |Alameda, CA]

Today was a good day! In my present state of contentment, all days are good days.

I was rated "exceeds expectations" in the company's semiannual performance reviews, which pleases me greatly. My ambition is to try to get promoted in the next round.

I've found a nice niche as flight director during our flight test days, and have been putting in some long hours in our flight-test campaign, which has been ramping up. And there are other work-adventures, too. Last Thursday the company put me on a charter airplane, an eight-seat Pilatus PC-12, with five of my co-workers, for a daytrip to a remote field site.

This afternoon I stopped at public library down the street, signed up for a library card, and checked out the Lonely Planet for the Philippines. Maria and I are scheming up a trip over Christmas to her native land.

This upcoming weekend we might make another expedition to the Steep Ravine hot springs, near Bolinas -- they're in the rocks on the beach and normally obscured by the sea, except for during especially low tides, such as will occur in the coming days. And on a similar note-- a friend has a code for Essex!

Alameda is beautiful, the weather is sublime, and on the weekends I walk five blocks with the dog to the beach and get an ice coffee and then recline on my porch in the sun with a good book. Ryan is moving back to town. I'm helping organize an unusual underground party. I'm excited about camping in the mountains. I want to hang out with Nicolás more, and have barbecues in the park.

Currently reading: The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba.
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Wolfgang Franke [Apr. 9th, 2016|08:13 pm]
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Wolfgang Franke

Ehemaliger Inhaber der Gaststätte Kaiser tot

Bei ihm haben viele Generationen von Studenten ihr Bier getrunken und geklönt: Nun ist Wolfgang Franke, ehemaliger Inhaber der Kult-Gaststätte Kaiser am Schneiderberg, Ecke Schaufelder Straße nach kurzer schwerer Krankheit im Alter von 72 Jahren gestorben.

Hannover. In Hannovers Nordstadt, und wohl auch darüber hinaus, ist es momentan das zentrale Gesprächsthema: Wolfgang Franke, ehemaliger Inhaber der Kult-Gaststätte Kaiser, ist verstorben. Er erlag einer schweren Bluterkrankung, ähnlich der Leukämie. Franke wurde 72 Jahre alt.

Fast 40 Jahre führte er die Gaststätte Kaiser am Schneiderberg/Ecke Schaufelder Straße. Arbeiter, Studenten, Professoren, Lebenskünstler und nicht zu vergessen Mahjongg-Spieler setzten sich an die dunklen Eichenholztische in seinem Etablissement, und Franke setzte sich oft für einen kurzen Plausch dazu. „Er interessierte sich für jeden. Der Mann hat eine Aura geschaffen“, sagt Karl Otte, Stammgast seit 34 Jahren.

Über Franke und seine Gaststätte gibt es etliche Geschichten. Viele werden jetzt wieder aus dem Gedächtnis gekramt. Eine geht so: 1995 herrschten auf den Straßen der Nordstadt bürgerkriegsähnliche Zustände. Punks aus ganz Deutschland waren zu den sogenannten Chaostagen angereist und lieferten sich wüste Straßenschlachten mit der Polizei. Franke wollte vermitteln und berief in seiner Garage einen runden Tisch ein. Polizisten, Anwohner und angeblich auch Punks saßen einander gegenüber – und redeten endlich.

Die Geschichte erzählt viel über Frankes Offenheit und seine Menschenliebe. Gern berichtete er Gästen von seinen Reisen in Länder, deren Namen die meisten nach ein paar Bieren kaum aussprechen konnten, etwa Südossetien. Später entdeckte er das chinesische Brettspiel Mahjongg und wurde ein leidenschaftlicher Fan. Eine Urkunde im Kaiser bezeugt, dass Franke an einer Weltmeisterschaft teilnahm – und von 144 Spielern den 142. Platz errang. Bis kurz vor seinem Tod soll Franke noch Mahjongg gespielt haben.

2008 gab Franke das Kaiser in die Hände von Nachfolger Zurab Mikava. „Ich bin für die meisten Gäste immer noch ,der Neue‘“, sagt Mikava schmunzelnd. Franke sei wie ein Vater für ihn gewesen.
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patagonia is not a country [Feb. 21st, 2016|11:09 pm]
Hoofed it to Makani (to pick up my van) after being denied boarding on AC Transit (aka "the bus") for the cause of answering "Yes" to "Is that your pet?" instead of "No this is my service animal." No matter, my pet and I enjoyed the beautiful weather and a two mile walk / exploration of the repurposed Navy base.

Happily my little car was not broken into overnight. I took the battery out and got it recharged at an O'Reilly auto-parts store. Apparently that's a service they offer, and it was super fast, too - less than an hour. Put the juiced up battery back into the car and my new housemate Wayne drove it back to our house.

Next step is to actually replace the alternator belt, which is kind of annoying to do because you have to take off the water pump's belt first... So the water pump and the alternator have to do a little dance to get all the belts in order.

Maria is in Patagonia for ten days, on a trek with her parents. Did you know that Patagonia is not a country? I'm not sure I was entirely clear on the matter and might have confused it with Paraguay. Lest there be lingering confusion, Patagonia is a region of Chile and Argentina.

Dinner with Anisa and Wayne at some place in Oakland's Chinatown.
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alternator [Feb. 20th, 2016|11:35 pm]
[Current Location |Alameda, CA]

Somewhere on my drive to Byron today, the alternator belt gave up the ghost.
Battery light was on the whole drive home - ignition finally pooped out in West Oakland. Naturally my cellphone battery was also dead, so instead of summoning a yuppie transit car, I hoofed it all the way home - three miles including the horrible Posey Tube (underwater tunnel built in the 30's). So that was today's urban adventure.

* Hopefully my car will survive the night in West Oakland.
* It's parked right in front of a Porsche repair shop. Maybe I'll just have them fix it on Monday. Or I'll go out tomorrow with a new belt and some wrenches.

Some questions you may ask:
* Why didn't I drive directly to AutoZone when I saw the red battery light?
* Why don't I have backup phone charging capability?
* Why not take the bus instead of walking?
* Why not use the excuse of a car breakdown to go in and talk to the cute and interesting employees at that new bakery that I walked by? Maybe they would flirt with me and comp me an Uber. Now we'll never know.

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update [Feb. 17th, 2016|12:41 am]
There's been at least two happenings worthy of an update in recent weeks-

* I moved to Alameda!
* We detected gravitational waves!

Well we actually detected the gravitational waves back in September, but this was just announced publicly (and the papers released, etc) last Thursday, to much fanfare. More about that that in another post, presumably.

And: Alameda! The new place is the second floor of a giant old house with glorious hardwood floors, just two miles from my work, and walking distance to the beach! The landlord is very shady and is renting out rooms individually - hence, random housemates! It's an adventure and so far I'm very happy with it. Housemates are Wayne and Anisa from Los Angeles -- Wayne is a postdoc at LLNL and Anisa is an actress -- and Serena, who works at a book publisher during the week and some coffee shops during the weekend. And two cats! Cats and dogs living together, what will happen next.
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Loyalton wknd II [Jan. 19th, 2016|09:42 pm]
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[Current Location |Loyalton, CA]

So Maria and I drove out to Loyalton again (an hour north of Truckee) for a winter weekend adventure. My uncle Mike's partner Andrea has a house out there, in Sierra Valley, in a little tiny town in the least populous county in all of California. It's cozy with a wood stove and Victorian furniture.

We went snowshoeing in a gale, in a heavy cold rain accompanied by strong gusts of wind. But we were attired appropriately for a short jaunt in such conditions and therefore were happy. My first time snowshoeing! Happily the rain turned to snow, and after an hour or two tromping around we returned to base.

Returning to the Bay Area, I enjoyed driving back via CA-49, a circuitous mountain road that visits several terribly idyllic small oldtime mountain towns, like Sierra City and Downeyville. The Yuba river was a gushing torrent in the canyon, and long sinuous white cataracts added highlights to the canyon walls. Dinner in Nevada City at Three Forks Brewing.

A cozy and fun winter weekend was had. Nonetheless still a bit envious of my colleagues and their Ski Weekends. Gotta do a little social networking to get invited on such a jaunt.
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