Googleween 2015 (Say it Out Loud – It Rhymes)

11 Nov

Yarrrr! This year’s Halloween party was pirate themed!

Alex drove me and Helen down to Mountain View so we could have lunch before the party. We met up with Anne Marie and her husband Ken, James’ coworker Nick and also Will from our Monday board gaming group.

This year we wore costumes!
12190544_10156241749280038_755498155_oCat and Ivo discussing me via email a couple of days after:

Cat: Did you see the Googleween photos on Kaye’s FB page? Is she the shark? ROFL
Ivo: OMG I think it MIGHT be Kaye in the shark costume!
Cat: She looks so happy!

There was lots to eat and drink and we spent most of the time wandering around looking at the different attractions. Like last year, everything (or most things) were based around the theme.

There were various carnival-like games, where you had to knock over bottles or race boats using water guns. Here I am on the ring toss:
IMG_20151029_153207We also got to “walk the plank” (a.k.a fight each other with foam swords over a squishy blue pit). IMG_20151029_154517-2I won! I know James let me win because it’s funnier that way, but it was still satisfying.

There were many shark sightings throughout the day. Here I am with my cake pop friends (also note how beautifully my dead seal is highlighted by the sun):
IMG_20151029_155240Here I am with my inflatable buddies:
IMG_20151029_150421They were actually part of a bouncy castle obstacle course that James and I competed against each other in. James won, but in all fairness the shark costume was really hampering me.

Here I am finishing like .. a minute after he did (it was a short course – a minute was a long time!).
IMG_20151029_150524There was also a writer who would write a short verse about whatever topic you wanted, and then put it in a souvenir bottle (message in a bottle!).
IMG_20151029_151811I asked for my bottle verse to be about a shark who didn’t want to be eaten:

We had our photo taken with a snake (also with a parrot, but the snake was cooler).
IMG_20151029_172416They also had face painting and some mermaids who would put sparkly ribbons in your hair, but as an apex predator I didn’t need any of that.

We left just before it officially closed but I felt like I had a pretty good sampling of the party. There was also a scavenger hunt  where you had to get your photo taken at various locations to win a mystery prize but I was content just floating around.

I had a much better time than last year since I knew a lot more people. Also I wasn’t desperately homesick – that definitely helped.

Helen and Zoltan dropped us back in the city which was nice. As soon as we got home we had to pack for a week long trip to Cancun to see Luke and Madeleine get married. But more on that next time. =)

Cat Musings From James

20 Sep

James: Would you go to a cat convention?
Me: What?! No! What would there even be at a cat convention?
James: Lots of things. New catnip technologies. New laser pointer technologies. Combination catnip and laser pointers. Information about cat food. Cat food trends, like raw meat in little boxes. See? There’s a lot of scope.
James: (still thinking) Scratching post trends …

A Gorgeous Long Weekend at Lake Tahoe

14 Sep

A couple of months back James and I headed to Lake Tahoe with Chris and Daphne and some of their friends. We headed down early Friday and came back on Sunday.

On the way to Tahoe we stopped off in Fairfield for the Jelly Belly factory tour. It was waaay busier than expected and we waited about an hour in line! Most of the line was out of view, and by the time we realised we thought we might as well stick it out. Other people I’ve talked to have said they waited just 15 minutes so maybe we went on an unusually busy day.

There was a Jelly Belly art room which was pretty cool (also they gave us hats).
IMG_20150807_120418We got to see part of the factory where they make Jelly Bellies. Although it was nice and clean seeing it all was fairly off-putting. Jelly Bellies are pretty unappetising in their incomplete form and the air smelled weird … like tasty chemicals.

We sampled some colourless and chalky Green Apple flavoured Jelly Bellies. Then later on, some Very Cherry Jelly Bellies with some colouring added (but not the hard outer shell).IMG_20150807_123717Mmm … powdery.

We also got a lot of sample bags at the end. The tour was enjoyable but not worth the hour long wait – and by the time we left the line was even longer! I feel a bit tight complaining though, given that the tour was free. It’s definitely worth doing if the line is short but if it’s extended into the cafeteria I wouldn’t bother.

The next day we did part of the Rubicon hike around the lake which, according to the guidebook we read, is considered the area’s signature hike. We left early in the morning which was a good call because the tiny parking lot was already starting to fill up.

James has never met a rock he didn’t want to climb, so here he is at the trailhead. IMG_20150808_090751The hike started off with a pretty prolonged descent which was a bummer because it meant it would end with a pretty prolonged ascent! Most of it was in the forest which was very pretty and shady.
IMG_20150808_094209Though obviously the main attraction was Lake Tahoe to our right.
IMG_20150808_102634There were also little beaches that you could go hang out at which was really nice. It was a seriously gorgeous hike.
IMG_20150808_102726There were lots of little ups and downs which kept things interesting.
IMG_20150808_103059And here is James daintily hopping over some water.
IMG_20150808_103754We didn’t go around the whole lake and just turned back when we were ready. It started getting much warmer and busier and by the time we reached the parking lot it was completely full, with cars parked all along the road’s shoulder. The guy who took our spot said he had been waiting for half an hour!

Later in the afternoon we hired a boat to take out onto Lake Tahoe. It was crowded and hot at the boat rental places but glorious once we got out onto the lake.
The sky was much hazier than it was that morning but still beautiful.

Here is a group shot!
After a packed Saturday we had a very laid back Sunday morning before we drove back to the city.

It was our first time in Tahoe and I can definitely see why it’s such a popular area. We have several groups of friends who want to go back in the winter for the snow, so that will be super fun!

Wipeout Run

24 Aug

Last Saturday James and I made the trek down to Santa Clara for the Wipeout Run with a bunch of James’ colleagues. It’s a non-timed run (most people walked) with a bunch of fun obstacles and a little bit of jogging between them. It was supposed to be 5k but it felt like less.

This was the first obstacle. You had to run across a beam and the the red bars at the top would slowly spin around and knock you off.
IMG_20150822_141329The next obstacle was just a wall to climb over – pretty easy and boring. The next one was called Big Balls, so of course I made James stop running to get a photo. IMG_20150822_143329It was fairly difficult – I saw hardly anyone made it all the way and James was the only one in our group who did (I was close though! I fell off on the third ball).

This is his stretch (or as James would probably call it, his “hero move”) for the final platform. IMG_20150822_144723The next one wasn’t so much an obstacle as a bouncy castle. Here is James psyching himself up to tackle it.IMG_20150822_145536And after that was a huge waterslide! IMG_20150822_150948The water was so refreshing after running in the heat (as long as you didn’t look too closely at how dirty it was). Some of us decided to do the waterslide twice – here are James and Josh on their second time around. IMG_20150822_152204Whee! IMG_20150822_152205Right afterwards was another, non-water slide. I think James ended up going on this one three times because the line was super short.IMG_20150822_152727I don’t know what happened between that photo and this next one. IMG_20150822_152726 I wish I’d taken video because those two photos were one right after the other. There is a Missing Link between them that shall forever remain a mystery.

There was also a slip’n’slide with some really gross foam at the end. I accidentally got some in my mouth and spent the next few minutes spitting it out.

This next obstacle had two spinning balls that would knock people off the beams and into the water. A couple of people in our team – I think Kelly and one other person – made it but the rest of us fell and Sean lost his glasses in the pool. =( IMG_20150822_154450James did better than I did. I made it like … two steps but he got about halfway. IMG_20150822_154932Then there was one more waterslide and we were done.

Yay team Rage Skippers!IMG_20150822_160927Here James and I are at one of the photo stations afterwards. IMG_20150822_161739Afterwards we went to Red Robin for food. We all massively overate (bottomless fries!) and James ordered a giant onion ring tower.IMG_20150822_181709So yeah, that was our Saturday. It was really fun and the lines weren’t nearly as long as we had anticipated.

I don’t know about the others but James and I were wrecked the next day. We were supposed to go jet skiing with Eliot and Michelle but ended up cancelling and just flopping around the house. Also in between the Wipeout Run, Lake Tahoe and the waterpark we went to last weekend, James has a very strange three-tier tan going on (James: patent pending).

Kaye and James Go to Concerts and Feel Very Old

14 Aug

Last week James won a work lottery for some tickets to the Fall Out Boy/Wiz Khalifa concert. It was in Concord, which is normally a 45 minute drive from San Francisco but because of rush hour and concert traffic actually took us 1.5-2 hours.

I’d read reviews that the food was overpriced and terrible so we brought our own. We also brought our own water but had to take the caps off the bottles before we went in. Security said it was requested by the band but James reckons it’s so the venue can sell more water inside. He said “if I’d known I would have brought extra caps” (but I was like … how would you even do that? Who keeps extra caps???)
IMG_20150804_183034We had really great seats – the first row in the upper section. We were the only ones in our row for the majority of the night, though two separate groups of kids tried to sneak in and were kicked out (also they knocked over one of our capless drinks *sigh*).

Wiz Khalifa was on before Fall Out Boy and I was familiar with most of his songs which was nice. You know the lyrics from Young, Wild & Free where he sings “So what we get drunk? So what we smoke weed?” James will lift Mouse up and kind of bounce him around. “So what we have fur? So what we eat kibble?” It mainly works of the super blank look on Mouse’s face.

He had a gold microphone engraved with a pot leaf (which made me laugh and laugh), and at one point there were giant inflatable joints getting bounced around in the pit. IMG_20150804_205839In case you didn’t realise, Wiz Khalifa really likes smoking weed.

Fall Out Boy was where all the pre-teens went nuts. It was a good show and they played everything you’d expect them to play.
IMG_20150804_225042At one point they had these giant bouncy balls bouncing around the audience and one came from behind and hit James right in the head. =D

James said that he actually preferred the Wiz Khalifa set because he put on a better show. I enjoyed them both, though I was definitely getting tired towards the end of the night. I don’t have the energy (or rather, the inclination) to stand up and sing along for every song but our great seats meant that most of the time I could just sit and enjoy the show.

The majority of the audience were 14 year old girls, which makes me feel like I have extremely daggy taste in music. Fall Out Boy must be like … the Backstreet Boys of the current generation or something. I’m pretty sure I have more in common with the parents escorting their kids to the concert – at one point I saw a middle aged guy reading a kindle and I thought to myself “ooh there’s an idea”.   IMG_20150804_222903After the concert was over we trotted to the car to try and beat the majority of the traffic. As we were going to the car we were saying how pop music isn’t being written for our age anymore. A lot of the music that night was about rebelling against The Man and it was with some sadness that James acknowledged he probably is The Man.

Then a day later we went to Crittfest which is a Google Play Music sponsored concert that takes advantage of some of the bands in town for Outside Lands. The acts were Hot Chip, Leon Bridges and Langhorn Slim, none of which I am cool enough to have heard of.

Florencia and I took the Caltrain down to meet up with James. We had lunch (salmon sushi rolls, some sort of salty fish salad, fries – though I was sad because they didn’t have the truffle fries that James said they often have – and a billion desserts) and met up with his team to go to the concert.
IMG_20150806_142658Play Music had some VIP tents where they had lots of scotch, margaritas, snacks and most importantly, seats and shade! IMG_20150806_152830

There was also a super premium VIP tent for the Play Music partners. We had several VIP passes in our group so took turns taking advantage of the much shorter beer line.

Even though I didn’t recognise any of the music I had a lot of fun listening from a distance while chatting with James’ friends. I definitely prefer that kind of concert atmosphere, possibly because I was able to stuff my face the whole time.

Here is a slider I got from the Bacon Bacon food truck (misleadingly named for there was only a single bacon on my slider) and a cookie from one of the snack tents. IMG_20150806_155205There was also Hawaiian shaved ice and fresh hot donuts which I had with chocolate and rainbow sprinkles and James had with cinnamon sugar. And at one point, an ice cream truck. IMG_20150806_161435I was actually already pretty full by that point, but ice cream!

James and I were so exhausted by the time we got home. We went to bed at a total old-person time and had to wake up early the next morning because we were heading to Lake Tahoe with our friends. But that is a story for another blog post!

Feathering the Nest

12 Jul

I’ve wanted to get a big reading chair for awhile and have my eye on this one from Restoration Hardware:


image from Restoration Hardware

I ordered some fabric samples online and put them on Kyoto’s current favourite sitting spot to test their fur resistance:
IMG_20150706_161146But I think he caught on.IMG_20150706_161333Luckily Mouse hasn’t figured it out yet.


25 Jun

James and I had put off going to Alcatraz for ages. I’d read that the night tour was much better than the regular tour but you had to book months ahead and, well, we’re just not that organised. But when Luke and Madeleine told us they were visiting for Memorial Weekend it was the perfect opportunity to go. We checked with Michelle and Eliot who also wanted to come, tickets were booked, and we were all set.

The ferry ride there was quite windy but had great views of San Francisco and Alcatraz.
IMG_20150523_180717When we landed we walked uphill from the dock to the main building. Inside, we lined up (at the prison showers!) to get headphones for the audio tour.

We paused our tapes to explore the rec yard, which was one of the areas that they had opened just for the night tour. Here are James and Luke playing imaginary baseball with an indifferent seagull.
IMG_20150523_190509The audio tour was top-notch. It navigated you through the space really well and went into a lot of detail about prison life and various escape attempts.

The only bummer was that there were a lot of people, so the portions of the audio tour where you had to stop and look at stuff you were always in a crowd. I had to be a bit strategic to get this photo.
IMG_20150523_185940The tour guided you through the prison library,solitary confinement cells, visiting area, guards’ offices, dining hall and hospital, giving you information about each location. It was all woven together really well.

This was the program showing the available talks and the parts of the prison that they had opened up for the night tour.

(lol #cellfie)

I feel like we got the best of both worlds because it was nice and light for photos for most of the tour, we got to see the beautiful sunset, and then it was all dark and atmospheric for the last hour. James went back in the prison after most people had left and said it was much spookier empty.

We spent maybe an hour and a half touring the prison and the rest of the time listening to talks. The talks were held outside and it got quite chilly after the sun set so definitely bring a warm jacket.


It was super touristy but I think it’s one of those touristy things that’s popular because it’s really worth doing (other things on that list for me: cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and a cycling tour of Napa, both of which I keep meaning to blog about).

But yeah, the Alcatraz tour was really interesting and informative, and if you’re visiting San Francisco I would highly recommend going!


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