This year John and Deanna, and the Haller family drove up to our house for Thanksgiving. Michael had come up earlier in the month to visit for a couple of days but had to work this weekend so couldn’t join us. Jeanine, Wade, Luke, and Olivia came up on Monday which gave us a chance to head for the San Francisco Zoo on Tuesday. Elizabeth and I had wanted to go since we watched a Netflix show that featured the animals there. They stayed the whole week and John and Deanna came up on Wednesday. On Thursday Sandy cooked an enormously delicious meal while we all took a car ride to the top of nearby Mount Diablo to give her some space. The ride down was fun since we did it in John’s rental car with the gas gauge on E the whole time. The dinner was fantastic and Jeanine added lots of sides to the turkey and ham we had. The next day everyone left and it was just the four of us again. Sad that they’re gone, but we know we’ll visit them down there again soon.
For our 21st, Sandy and I wanted to spend the weekend with the kids so we packed them up and headed to the Monterey Aquarium for the day. It isn’t nearly as massive or whale sharked as the Georgia Aquarium, but it beats it out on location. This aquarium is really on the ocean and the bay becomes part of the attraction, as the otters, seals and jellies we saw in the wild were as much fun to watch as anything in the tanks. After lunch on the water we stayed at a hotel in San Jose that was across from a Mitsuwa Marketplace. That night we ate Japanese food and the kids picked up some toys from the Japanese bookstore there.
The next day we headed to the Tech Museum in San Jose. Lucky for us it was a very slow day since almost all of the exhibits were hands on and it wouldn’t have been fun if we had to wait for crowds. We got to learn about computers and robots and even some genetics. Elizabeth took the time to grow bacteria in a lab that she got to observe online the next day. It was a great way to celebrate our anniversary.
My union sent me to a class in Atlanta and realizing that I probably would only ever visit that city once in my life, I went sightseeing whenever I could. The class was held in the very nice Westin downtown and my room had a great view. I only had one day to myself and I used it to visit the Cyclorama, the Margaret Mitchell House, and the Georgia Aquarium.
The Cyclorama is a gigantic diarama/painting of the Battle of Atlanta from the Civil War. The painting lines the walls of a large round room and is about three stories tall. In front of the painting along the floor is a three dimensional depiction of more of the battle that integrates into the painting. And in the middle of the room is a slowly rotating grandstand that gives people a complete view of the scene. I was impressed with both the technology and the painting, but after spinning around twice I was kind of bored with it. It’s kind of old and dusty and while it must be seen once, that is probably is enough.
After that I went to the Margaret Mitchell House which is the apartment where she wrote most of Gone with the Wind. I’ve been a big fan of the book since I first read it in high school. I’ve since read it twice more and even a couple of sequels that took the story in very different directions. I’ve seen the movie more times that I can remember and have a copy on DVD in case I want to watch it again. But I’m not a fan of this site. For one, she only lived in a small apartment on the first floor of building which burned down before it was reconstructed to be a tourist attraction. None of the furnishings in the apartment were hers although they were period appropriate. The tour was short and not all that informative. I can say I’ve been there but that’s all I took away from the place.
From there, I went to the Georgia Aquarium. I wasn’t expecting much, I mean this is Atlanta which is not very close to any oceans. But, it was amazing. It is easily the largest aquarium that I’ve been to and it has whale sharks. I’ve seen them on TV but in real life they are ever so much more impressive. Up to now my favorite fish tank has been the giant deep ocean tank at Monterey, but I have a new favorite. This one is similar but so much more, and it include a tunnel to go through it. The massive size of the whale sharks and the giant rays kind of draws all of the attention but there are lots of other fish there too. If this was the only tank, it would be enough, but thats only about a sixth of the whole aquarium. There were fresh water sections, sea otters, penguins, beluga’s, dolphins, and lots and lots of other exhibits.
All of the rest of my time in Atlanta was spent going to class, spending a night bar hopping with my classmates and instructors, and getting to and from the airport (easily the crazy-biggest airport I’ve ever been in.) I can’t see going back for anything except the aquarium and don’t ever see that happening.
Once upon a time, when we first moved into our new house more than 12 years ago, Sandy and I went to a Christmas Party at a neighbors house that the whole neighborhood seems to remember because…. While standing next to a candle, my shirt caught fire. Not a big fire, just enough to catch the attention of everyone while I danced around patting out the flames. Thus was born the Burning Man. So when I turned fifty, my wonderful neighbors threw me a Burning Man Party. There was even a tiny little burning man, who unlike me at that first party, was totally immolated. The kids went swimming, the adults went drinking, everyone went eating and having a great time.
The next week when I actually turned fifty, my family threw me a more intimate party with a cake, ice cream, presents and dinner at a sushi restaurant. Best day ever. I got a lego iPhone case, ton of “fifty-ish” gifts from the Hallers, some puzzles, and a Roku to watch all the stuff that’s not on Apple TV. I was a little down about the age, but friends and family brought me right back up again. And now that I’m officially retirement-eligible, if work gets to be awful, I can just quit and still get paid.
This summer dan worked at the Dublin Library helping younger kids in their reading program. He volunteered one or two hours a week for much of the summer and in the end had a volunteer party. The gift bag he got at the party had two tickets to an A’s game and he took his dad. We had a great time but hardly anyone was at the game. It was a school night but we still expected more people for a first place, playoff-bound team. Because it was a school night, and we were already snacked out, and it was turning into a rare Athletics loss, we left early and took BART home.
I was so happy that all of us could go to a Dodger game this year, especially with my favorite team doing so well. After the museum we headed to the stadium and met Jeanine, John, Deanna and Tura. It was a great game with good food and a fun time and the Dodgers won. It was great getting to see them during their World Series winning season!
We finally got a chance to go where Elizabeth chose for Girls Day back in March. Wade, Mike, Luke, and Olivia took us to the LA Natural History Museum to see dinosaurs. (Jeanine had to work that day.) In addition to the dinosaurs we saw lots of other stuffed animals, some living ones and lots of butterflies in a garden outside the museum. Afterwards we headed across town to see the Dodger game.
Dan wanted to go to Legoland for Boys Day back in May, but when he found out that we could go to Universal Studios instead, he readily agreed. And it was just a coincidence that we ended up going on Sandy’s birthday. There was lots for the adults and Dan and Liz to do, but I felt bad because there wasn’t so much for Luke and Olivia. Although Luke was just tall enough to ride the Transformers ride. Everyone got to enjoy the backstage tram tour and it was my favorite part. Dan and Elizabeth loved the Jurassic park ride. It ended up being a bit too expensive and a bit too crowded, but we all still had a great time and it was a must see. After the park we went to dinner at a western place at the park’s entrance and while the food was just okay, it was fun watching Wade riding the bucking bronco machine. Later when we got back to the hotel, Sandy opened up some cards and presents. She got three cases. A makeup case, an iPad case, and an iPhone case. By then it was too late and we were too tired to do anything else. We still owe Sandy a birthday cake.
Our first morning in Long Beach woke up to ants in our hotel room followed by a very confusing “free breakfast” that ended up not being free at all. But the day got better when we went with the Hallers to see Pixar’s Planes at Disney’s El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. The movie was okay, actually kind of less than okay as it seemed the Pixar people just phoned this one in. But the theater tried to make up for it with a little bird show and a tiny little one room aviation museum in the basement. And the day got much much better when we all went to John and Deanna’s house for a back yard barbecue. There was lots of food, and lots of room for the kids and dogs to play in. It was a fun time and a nice change from all the eating out and running around we usually do when we visit.
We just got back from almost two weeks in Hawaii and we already want to go back. It was great hanging out with family, going to the beach, eating lots of wonderful food and playing tourist. We were there for Grandma’s birthday and started out the week going out to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate. The kids loved hanging out with Jordan and the three of them spent lots of time chasing the hundreds of lizards that thrive in Grandpa’s back yard. Dan got Jordan and Miles to play this new card game he got called Munchkin and ended up playing almost every night before bed time. There were trips to the beach, hiking, sightseeing, the Bishop Museum, the state Farm Fair and lots of shopping and eating. We spent one morning visiting the spot at Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery where Jeanine spread Mom’s ashes. It’s a beautiful spot with a great view that she would have loved and visiting it made us all miss her again. We spent our last day going over old pictures and then going to a fantastic buffet, full of foods that are hard to find at home. We can’t wait until our next visit. Scroll down for two albums full of more pictures.
Father’s Day was the last day I would work in the old Oakland Air Traffic Control Tower. My job was just to sit and be ready in case there were problems with the new tower. So, since I wouldn’t be responsible for controlling traffic, I asked the Daniel and Elizabeth if they wanted to come to work with me and they jumped at the chance. This would be the last chance that we would be able to visit both the old North and South towers so we took the opportunity to do both and visit the new tower, too. For most of the day I answered phones and the kids and I played board games and ate food that Sandy packed. Later when we got home, I opened new shoes and new bike helmet and Sandy made both eggs and pasta for me, two of my most favorite foods along with bacon.
Dan won free admission to the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos at a raffle at the school science fair so we decided to make a quick getaway to use it during Memorial Day weekend. We stayed the night at the SFO airport Embassy Suites and went the museum the next day. Our room had a perfect view of the runways at SFO and I brought my scanner so we could hear the controllers talk to the planes. The hotel is right on the water and gave us a different perspective on the bay. The Hiller museum is located at the Hiller helicopter factory and there was lots of helicopter displays in addition to those showing off the history of aviation in the Bay Area. We also watched some of the traffic at tiny San Carlos Airport where the museum is located. Very busy airport for being so small.
Friday night was the girl scout Me and My Guy dance at Elizabeth’s school. The theme was “Under the Sea”, which I think was the same theme as the prom in Back to the Future. (Oh i looked it up, that one added the word Enchantment.) It was a fun time dancing with Elizabeth, meeting all of the other dads, and watching all the girls go crazy. I think they even went crazier than normal because, at least with girls, it seems dads aren’t as strict as moms.
The Hallers came up to visit on St. Patrick’s day weekend and brought their awesomely shiny bubbly new Airstream trailer with them. On St. Patrick’s Day Eve, while I was at work, Sandy and Elizabeth went to see the annual Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade. Daniel had to stay home to put the final touches on his big fifth grade research paper on movies. That afternoon Wade, Jeanine, Luke and Olivia drove up in a gigantic van towing an even gigantic-er trailer. They spent most of the weekend with us and all of the kids had a great time playing with each other. On Sunday, we all hiked to the Dublin Library and spent a few hours eating and playing at the St. Patrick’s Day fair. There were rides for the kids but the lines were crazy long so we couldn’t ride anything. We were sad to see them go on Monday, and can’t wait to see them again.
Daniel had the option of taking a trip or having a party for his eleventh birthday and chose a trip a museum in San Francisco. It wasn’t until two hours into the trip and some prodding from Elizabeth, that he realized we were going to Disneyland instead. The kids got a rare non-holiday four day weekend so we decided to check out new stuff like Cars Land, the Little Mermaid ride, and the revamped Star Tours at a time when we thought the place wouldn’t be so busy. Cars land was awesome and still new enough to be kind of busy with wait times for the Radiator Springs Racers ride being almost an hour. The rest of the park had very short lines. The Haller family spent every day with us there, and John and Deanna joined us for dinner and some Lego shopping one night. For his actual birthday dinner Dan chose Rainforest Cafe. He had to wait to get back the hotel room to open presents. He got a puzzle ball from his sister and a video game and promise of a new bike from mom and dad. Elizabeth rode every roller coaster she could and even outlasted me on California Screaming. We still cant decide if she really liked it or just was being braver than her brother.
We went to see How to Train Your Dragon live at the Shark Tank (aka HP Pavillion) in San Jose today. We started out with lunch and one of my favorite restaurants, The Fish Market, then we surprised the kids by taking them to the show. It was the same technology as Walking with Dinosaurs but with some added flying and more drama. I wanted the story to be original, but they just acted out the plot of the movie. We may have sat too high because the dragons were not as impressive as the Walking dinos. Still it’s amazing what they can do. After we got home we watched the movie, and to be honest, I liked the movie better. But it was a fun time out, and we all seemed to enjoy it.
Christmas was hectic this year as we were planning for the holiday and the installation of new floors in our home at the same time. Santa brought lots of toys, and there were lots of presents under the tree from family to be opened. Daniel got some video games and legos and Elizabeth got a pogo stick and some Yoohoo and Friends stuffed animals. Sandy got the pots and pans and new eyeglasses she asked for and I am getting the hardwood floors that I have always wanted in our house. As it is every year, there were too many presents, but all were appreciated. Elizabeth was on her pogo stick as soon as the morning rain stopped and Daniel was building legos all morning long. After lunch I took a nap and worked the mid shift. By the time I woke up the day after, Sandy had already packed up all the Christmas decorations and had begun moving furniture out of the living room in preparation for the installers. It made for a very short Christmas season.
We drove down south to spend Thanksgiving with our Long Beach family and had lots of fun. It was great seeing everyone, but we were sad that Deanna and John couldn’t make it to dinner. We actually had two dinners. One at Wade’s fire station near the Queen Mary, and another one the next day at the Haller’s house. Daniel and Elizabeth really enjoyed playing with Luke and Olivia and we all enjoyed going to P.F. Changs where Mike is working.
Jeanine, Wade, Luke and Olivia came up for a weekend visit and we had a great time. We went to the Oakland Zoo and the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 in San Francisco. Olivia and Luke are kinda crazy and I don’t know how Wade and Jeanine keep up with them. But they’re tons of fun. After a great Fisherman’s Wharf seafood dinner we went to get on BART back to the city but some idiot ran onto the tracks and the train was closed. The Davoust’s panicked and took a $150 cab ride back home but the Hallers were patient and waited for BART to reopen and were back into Dublin just a half hour after us. Lots of pictures:
Yesterday was our 20th anniversary. It’s amazing to think its been that long, and then I realized that we were going together at least 5 years before that. Eight job changes, 6 home changes, one puppy and two wonderful kids later, I’m still loving every minute with Sandy. Supposedly platinum is the preferred gift for 20th anniversaries and we shared lots of platinum gifts. Sandy got a platinum and diamond anniversary ring, I got only about a million “platinum” labeled gifts including some Bud Platinum beer and the Platinum Edition of Gran Turismo for the Playstation. We got a baby sitter for Dan and Elizabeth and spent the evening at a Train concert at Berkeley. Now were working on our second twenty.
Hard to believe I’m almost 50. But there it is. We celebrated the day with a birthday breakfast, some cake and some presents. The family got me lots of accessories for our new electric car including University of Hawaii floor mats and an Oakland A’s antenna ball. Afterwards, unfortunately, I had to go to work and despite that, it was a great day.
We all had one last day off together before school starts so we decided to spend it at the Oakland Zoo. We went early this time so some of the animals were more active than normal. (Not the tigers and lions, though, who were sleeping the whole time we were there.) We probably saw turtles, otters, bears and elephants moving around more than we have ever seen. After the zoo, we went miniature golfing, tried a newly opened burger place and finished up by getting Dan a last-minute haircut. Some zoo pics…
I went up to our new control tower today and was impressed. Oakland currently has two towers because the airport is so big you can’t see all the runways. The new tower is much taller which allows us to see the whole field and will eliminate the need for the other two. Everything is modern, there is covered parking, and there will even be electric vehicle chargers powered by solar panels. I really was impressed by the views of the airport, the surrounding areas, and the San Francisco Bay.
Its now a tradition ten years plus for us, even longer for our neighbors. To celebrate Independence Day we got together with the people on our block, drank, ate and set off hours worth of fireworks. It started out a little different this year. Mark and Yvonne, who live across the street from us, invited us to drinks at their brand new tiki bar beside their back yard pool. Awesome decor with lots of bamboo and palm fronds. They needed more talking flowers and parrots though. While we were lighting our safe-and-sane fireworks, some people down the street were launching some really massive, loud, awesome and probably very dangerous fireworks. No houses caught fire, but not for lack of trying.
So as we are all likely to do every once in a while, at least I hope I’m not the only one, I Googled my name and saw that I was listed as a source in someone’s book. It seems that the author of The Politics of Higher Education in Hawaii, David Yount, used some of my newspaper articles as background information on his book. Well, since I bet there’s not a whole lot of people who can say they were cited as a source in someone’s published book, I got excited, told Sandy, and we decided to buy it. I will probably never read it, although at one time I was very interested in the subject, especially since I was assigned to cover it. But its good to have on the shelf to show people. Of course, I would have to tell people, because although I’m listed three times in the bibliography, its some pretty small print at the back of the book and very hard to find.