My Happening Blog

It's my happening, baby, and it freaks me out!

Monday, January 13, 2014

2013 - It's a wrap!

It's the end of the year! Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, beaches, and snow. Pretty much covers it for the end of 2013. We start off with flying kites at Chrissy Field and building sand castles at Stinson Beach. Next came Thanakkagiving in Thousand Oaks where there was much lounging around and cavorting. Also fishing, catching, fileting and cooking. We threw in some swimming and dancing for good measure. We got back to San Francisco in time to decant caga tio from his lair, set up the Christmas tree, celebrate Julie and Kirsten's birthdays, and hangout with the cousins and Lenore, who visited from San Diego. And then there was snow. Well, more like ice. There's been the worst drought in 150 years here - the snow pack is about 1/3 of what it is normally. In Yosemite (note Asher with light saber in lower left) it had snowed two weeks before we got there, and only a few patches of ice remained. Still, it was beautiful and the sledding was great! As was the rock climbing, and lounging around in our comfy lodge room. We closed out the year back in SF, making quilts, listening to bells, and celebrating New Years with good friends. Say goodbye to 2013 and join Ada and Asher in saying welcome 2014!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

And then it was Fall...

The days are getting shorter, but that does not mean they have not been jam-packed with adventure! September featured trips to Santa Cruz (and the beach!), Happy Hollow, home theater, and the first 20th Street street fair, where the bubble guy wowed us with his bubble skills. Dave and I ventured out to the South End Rowing Club, where we encountered this and helped our neighbor ring in her 40th. The month's biggest excitement, however, was the ridding of the diaper changing table. That's right. We were nostalgic, but not that much. Ada also started second grade, which happened in August, but the photos wound up in this batch, so I'm mentioning it here. And also, we've become regulars at Exploratorium After Dark. You should come!

October was mostly about Ada, who celebrated her birthday four times: with us, Aunt Julie and Jennifer, on her actual birthday; with grandma and John on the following Friday; with her friends on Saturday night, and then AGAIN with her friends on Sunday morning--those that made it through the night. Much fun was had by all. The birthday festivities were soon followed by Haloween. Asher was "Dark Vader" and Ada was a hot dog, which we made together. She discovered that it was difficult to trick or treat in a bun, but the bun held together, which was exciting. We spent the night with a gaggle of hardcore trick-or-treaters and collected insane amounts of candy. Dave and I also ventured out to the Castro Theater for an AMAZING showing of Grey Gardens with Peaches Christ; Ada walked many miles for her school walk-a-thon fundraiser; and I went and saw the very talented Ethel Rohan read from her new book, Goodnight Nobody.

November began with a big celebration for Asher, who graduated from preschool to a new preschool! We celebrated birthdays with friends, and that brings us to Nov 2nd, where the photo upload stops. Next post will wrap up this year! In the meantime, some photos of Ada and Asher.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spring Into Summer, 2013

Pity the fool who waits four months before updating their blog.  This time, the fool is I.  There's a great deal to report, so let's get to it.

We start toward the end of April with a visit to the DinosauRevolution - a highly informative, and cheesy, exhibit about dinosaurs at the San Francisco zoo.  Just like Pluto's demotion from mighty planet to lowly ice dwarf, I'm having a hard time coping with this birds being dinosaurs while pterodactyls are not business.

May started with beautiful flowers in our back yard, and spooky lights and submarines at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose which we visited betwixt events around cousin Samuel's Bar Mitzvah.  Later came a visitation from Grandpa Roger and Grandma Myrna, and Mother's Day.  Keeping me busy in the middle of May was Google I/O, Google's developers conference, where I helped organize the Develop for Good Sandbox.  Among the unexpected perqs of that were watching Billy Idol rock, and encountering many weird machines.

May also kicked off a summer of making, especially for Ada.  It started with her school egg drop, and rapidly slid into the Maker Faire with its usual assortment of generous pink umbrellas, fishy looking cars, and ginormous dancing robots.  As always, it was exhausting.

Hey, this is going great - only four more events to chronicle in May!  These are, in rapid succession: Carnival, with its traditional fare of birds, bandits, BART, bookmobile, and buttocks; urban golf; cacaphony book launches; and Ada's first (but not last) crack at acting - Predictable Penguin-desu.

That's May.  In June, we flew kites (kites are fun), attended the temporary closing of the SFMOMA, and watched one of my favorite plays, Arcadia at the American Conservatory Theater.  There were birthdays with snakes (Kiara's), birthdays in bars (Greta's), birthdays at gyms (Audry's) and crabs.  And more crabs.  At Nettie's Crab Shack.

The second half of June was no less busy than the first.  It included Father's day, with a walk along the Pacific Coast Trail (that last one using the lens I got for Father's day), and lots of oysters which were victims of my introduction to shucking.  It included our 11th anniversary which we celebrated with a night at Hotel Vitale with its amazing views of the bay bridge (including its enchanting lights).  There was also Ada's next dramaturgical event, playing the part of Belladonna in Macbeth (no kidding).  She's the witch who says "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes."  Video available upon request.  Finally, we close June out with my trip to Indonesia to pitch Earth Engine as a tool to support sustainable development and deforestation monitoring.  The trip was made crazier by the fires in Sumatra that were gassing Singapore and Malaysia while I was visiting the people responsible for reporting this to the Indonesian President.

Sing hooray for a slightly less packed July.  Really, not much went on in July.  Well, there was a visit to the Discovery Museum of the Bay, a concert by Three Day Stubble, happy relaxing off-site day with my cronies at Google, and furniture making for Ada at Brightworks camp.  We spent time with our nephew Donovan, my sister Julie, and my folks, hanging around at home and visiting The Exploratorium.  Finally, we took a nice weekend up in Guerneville with our neighbors Michael, Rosanna, and Julian where we visited Armstrong Redwoods park, Johnson's beach, and Pee-Wee golf.

And hey!  It's into August - even calmer yet!  So far this month, Ada spent more time at Brightworks, this time building a human-sized maze, we had a nice birthday dinner with Kirsten's mom and  Muldoon who brought his 4000 year old seals, and we attended the first annual Anderson family reunion in Perham, Minnesota.  We started that trip in Fargo, where we had delicious and spicy fried pickles at the Old Broadway Grill (recommend turning the volume down before clicking that link).  Then we drove past a storm warning, 1.5 hours to the celebration that had already started at Zorbaz on the Lake.  Perham has a thing for turtles.  The next morning we attended the weekly turtle races, which Asher won (made it to the semi-finals, anyway - the first member of the clan to make it that far).  Much fun was had by all the cousins, hanging out at the lake, and making s'mores by the campfire.  On the return trip, we blew past Ada, Minnesota, and spent our last evening in the pirate pool at the Fargo Hilton.

Phew!  That's it!  Kirsten, Ada, Asher, and I welcome you to Summer!

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's April! And I'm about to write about January, pieced together from photographs, notes on the calendar, and what's left of my memory... here goes: January started off with a visit from Grandma Vera and Grandpa Bob and Aunt Julie. In addition to a fun visit, we managed to celebrate three traditions in the first weekend of the new year: Hanukkah (belated), "La FĂȘte des Rois" (Three Kings' Day) with our French neighbors, and poffertjes day (well, not really a day, but a fabulous pancake) with our Texas-Dutch neighbors. Hurray for living in a city with great people from all over the world! We also celebrated my dad's 70th birthday at the Palace Hotel (oh la la) and various other birthdays of friends, some 2 some 6, at Yerba Buena bowling alley and MyGym and that traditional favorite, Pump it Up.

Other highlights included a trip down to Happy Hollow is San Jose, which Ada decided she liked EVEN more than Fairyland, glass-painting with pals, and a visit from Devon, which brings us to February, which was no less full of excitement.


The highlight of February was my mom's big 70 party, which she had at Bourbon and Branch. Lenore, Ali, Cyrus, and Gus came up, my cousin Carl and his family flew in, and dozens of other folks joined the weekend-long festivities that ended with the gifting of the biggest bottle of champagne ever. Dave left for the East Coast right after, where he was organizing a Google/Yale technology workshop and I started a contract tech writing job with the Wikimedia Foundation. We read some stories, and more stories, wrote some Valentine post-it notes, and enjoyed the light.


March was another birthday-filled month, first Dave, who rang in his big day with me at Water Bar, where the sea food was great and the view of the Bay Lights even more spectacular. Asher celebrated his big 3.0 two days later with a pirate, chocolate pirate cupcakes that he and Ada helped make, and some crazy balloon twisting and battles. The month ended with a marathon road trip to Palm Springs via Big Sur, which I'll get to as soon as I've shared the photo of the baby bird that nearly wound up inside our house. For weeks, the baby bird and its parents have been living above our front door--you may notice the bird poop if you look closely at the background. The bird's first flight took it to the wrong side of our gate, but all worked out well in the end, and I expect that the baby bird will return next year when it's grown up, so it can continue the cycle of nesting, pooping, and bird birth that's been transpiring over our door for the past three years.


This year, spring break for Ada, Asher, Cyrus, and Gus coincided for the first time, and we decided to celebrate by meeting up in Palm Springs and actually drinking the insanely large bottle of champagne we'd given my mom for her birthday. We started the adventure with two nights in Big Sur at the Ripplewood resort, where the five of us (my mom drove down with us) hung out by the Big Sur River making rock houses and stick boats. Here is a rare shot of the four of us in front of our cabin. We ate lunch ocean-side at Nepenthe, hiked to the water fall at Pfeiffer State Park, hung out at night making s'mores, and then Dave and I snuck away to Esalen to enjoy the hot springs late night. Big Sur was as relaxing and mellow as Palm Springs was insane. But then, we should have expected as much the moment we read about the 'gondolas' at our 'family-friendly' resort.

So, yes. We left the quiet of the redwoods and emerged twelve hours later (the 58 is lovely, and skirts the L.A. traffic, but is not the quickest way to get to Palm Springs) to this: JW Marriot Desert Springs Resort and Spa. Cocktails were delivered poolside, Gus gave some massages, Asher refused to get wet, or to ride the hotel's most notable attraction: the gondola, which carted hotel guests around the hotel's vast water features. We saw lots of swans, and golf courses. We even played golf ourselves, of the putt putt variety, where we made it through three holes before losing five of six golf balls to various water features. The kids enjoyed hanging out with Grandma and John, who joined us later. And, of course, we drank the champagne.

We broke up the drive back to San Francisco with a night in Solveng, at the Andersen's Split Pea Motel, which I chose because it is walking distance from Andersen's Split Pea restaurant, which remains one of my favorite places to stop for a roadtrip meal (split pea soup, of course!) We spent some time wandering around Solveng and flying airplanes and also checked out the "famous Danish pancakes" at Paula's pancake house.

We made it back to San Francisco just in time to prepare for our first family seder, where we were joined by my mom, Aunt Julie, Ada's friend Claire, and Kirsten, Dave, Max and Zeke, who were visiting from NYC. After the meal, the kids put on an amazing show, which would likely still be going on had we not started applauding. The next day, we celebrated Easter with an indoor egg hunt, thanks to some rain, and some additional indoor antics. The day's highlight was a trip to the new Exploratorium. The new location on the piers is fantastic, and the space now has room for many exhibits we'd never seen before, including a camera that photographed dripping water:


That brings us to April, which is nearly half over already! But so far has been full of fun and impromptu playdates with our neighbors; Barbie fashion, created by Dave and Ada; baby spiders, which we found on the fence in front of our house;  a tremendous dragon fly, and a trip to the Symphony. Oh, and photos of Ada and Asher, of course.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The last two weeks of November and all of December 2012, what did you hold? Well, for me, the last week of November held a trip to Tanzania, and in particular Bagamoyo, for a workshop on biomass estimation. It was a crazy trip - 27 hours on a plane each way, but I think it was worth it. I got to meet lots of folks from all around sub-saharan africa, and saw some old friends from the Woods Hole Research Center. For the record, "mdudu" means bug in Swahili, and there was much shifting around of rooms in our hotel mdudu to humungous termite explosions.
Back home, Ada and Asher had much fun and the fun continued when I got home, with a trip to Google and hanging around with Grandpa Roger and Grandma Myrna both in San Francisco, and in Santa Cruz.
That brings us to December, when we celebrated Channukah and Christmas with family and friends. We also snuck in one last trip to the Exploratorium before it shuts down and moves to a new location.
The end of December brought a small vacation to Palm Springs where we stayed at Rancho las Palmas, home of Splashtopia Note to self - the desert is cold in the winter time! Despite the cold, there was plenty to do, including visiting giant robots, creepy corpses, irradiated objects, and bugs at the largest residential display of Christmas lights in the US. Amazing!
We also managed a visit from Aunt Lenore, Uncle Ali, and the cousins and a New York New Year's celebration! And that's a wrap! Happy 2013! From Kirsten, Thau, Ada and Asher!



Monday, November 19, 2012

Enough time goes by, and I don't even know how to begin... I guess I have to start where we left off, the long, light days of July, and end in the present, just before Thanksgiving. That's right. This will be a MASSIVE post.

This summer we had lots of family visits: Donovan and Julie came down and Grandpa Bob and Grandma Vera came up for a fun day of tie-dying and hanging out. Carl, Hanna, and Charlie came for a few days of mad second cousin fun; Meredith and Ava came for a few days of endless playdates; and the four of us took a long weekend up in Hendy Woods, where Asher "slept" in a tent sans pack 'n play for the very first time! Hendy Woods was gorgeous--one of the parks slated for closure this year, but rescued by community effort, which we are grateful for. The swimming hole was beautiful, and the redwoods amazing.  In addition, we made a trip or two down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which remains one of my favorite places in the universe.

 Ada started first grade in mid-August. The school year starts early out here, which means she got a few weeks of class in before Dave headed off to Korea for an IUCN (International Meeting of Conservation of Nature) meeting. We plan to return to his hotel one day... it had fire-breathing dragons, a hello kitty themed floor, crazy art, and a great location on the island famous for mermaids. He got back just in time to see one of our favorite new bands, The Pauses, play at the Makeout Room and to hit the Writers' Grotto party at the Dolphin club, where Dave braved the Bay waters for an afternoon swim.

We've reached September, believe it or not, in which we removed the training wheels from Ada's bike, walked miles and miles to raise money for Ada's school, hung out with sponge brad, avoided coyotes, and saw a bunch of great people read at LitQuake. Ada started playing soccer on an all-girls team, and our weekends became full of games, gymnastics and swim classes. What can I say? The month flew by.

October brought birthday celebrations! A cake-shaped jumpy house, glass painting, pizza eating, cupcakes, and finished work. Ada has decided to be an artist, so we got her an easel, which she has been using a lot. A lot. We decided it was time to do a hard potty sell to Asher. So far? Well, he's completely disinterested, despite all the great literature we've been reading. We made another trip down to the boardwalk, where we saw the taffy machine in action! Halloween passed in a blur of trick-or-treating and school carnival. Ada was a princess this year. Asher a giraffe, a costume he borrowed after rejecting his prince outfit.


November is another month of travel. Dave spent a week in Australia, where he participated in Geo For Good. He came back a day after I left for NYC, where I splurged on a hotel room, saw some old friends, met some new ones, celebrated old times, saw my old house, and grabbed my favorite bagel before jumping on a plane back to the West Coast. Dave and the kids, meanwhile, had a blast at Fairyland and some odd event called flugtag, which was all about doing funny dances and pushing home-made vehicles off a man-made cliff.

Whew. That brings us to now, just back from Happy Hollow in San Jose, where much fun was had by all.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

May, May, May was pretty mellow relative to the slogfest that was June. May started with a release of the butterflies which we'd been raising from wee caterpillers. We had a nice visit from Grandma Eve who has now officially moved to San Francisco. I had a quick trip to Belo Horizonte to meet with Britaldo Soares and his lab. We went to the Maker Faire where we saw plenty of interesting artifacts, including model warships that shot real bullets and these bike powered singing monkies. That tree/bike is the creation of our neighbor Paul who lives right across the street and works on it practically every weekend.

May ended with an eclipse of the sun, and the eclipse of Ada's first year of elementary school. which was celebrated at Fort Funston with smores and an awesome night-time hike.

The real end of May is signaled by the Carnival parade. There we saw creepy creatures, cute BART cars, walking trashcans, gigantic mosquitos, amazing costumes, more costumes, more costumes, more costumes, and people whacking their heads in more ways than one.

June was exhausting. It started with a party at our local cafe, Progressive Grounds, which foretold the exhaustion that would continue throughout the month. Lenore and family came up for a few days, and that was great. The next week though I went to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development otherwise known as Rio+20. There I spoke at a number of events and hung around the building made of palettes that housed the Google booth. It was a strange event, with many distributed large open spaces, artificial trees and gigantic moths. Two of the biggest highlights of the trip were seeing Jane Goodall speak, and getting a full tour of the Rainbow Warrior. This is the third one, and was at Rio+20 just after its first action, a blockade of a pig iron ship. The Greenpeace folks were extremely generous with their time, showing us every corner of the ship, including their library and kitchen, where they keep a map of where they keep track of the locations of their three ships.

I got back from Rio just in time to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary! Woo! We went to wine country where we were tempted by bacon floral arrangements but mostly lounged around our room with a view (the Harvest Inn) and ate a late dinner at Bouchon. It was very nice return home.

But the fun doesn't end there. A week or so after returning, I gave a talk at Google I/O.

And that brings us to July, where things are starting to calm down a bit. We had a fun trip down to Costa Noa where we went on a hike that brought us to the Land of the Lost, and afterward, gathered together many of the Big City folks whom we hadn't seen for awhile.

And that, friends, is it for this post. Let us hope the next one will be more timely! Hope you're enjoying your Summer!