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:

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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.
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Alcatraz!

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.
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(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.

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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!

A Day at Maker Faire!

5 Jun

Last month James and I met up with Nick and Kelly at the Bay Area Maker Faire. It’s a fair celebrating science projects and DIY stuff and we thought it was worth checking out!

We were greeted by an enormous fire-breathing robot.
IMG_20150516_103643To interact with the different exhibits you had to sign a waiver and get a wristband. If you went to the booth right by one of the main entrances the line was really long but on the other side of the booth (like literally steps away) there was no line. Score!

This was a cool rhino that you could get inside.
IMG_20150516_113732Also an arena with a bunch of modded bicycles that you could play around on. There were a couple of weird tandem bikes (like where the other seat was on the handlebars), one where the bike went in the opposite direction that you pointed it in, and another where the back half would swing around on its own and made steering really difficult.
IMG_20150516_105640My favourite exhibit was a pedal-powered ferris wheel. It could only fit three people and they gave you quite a generous go on it so the line took awhile to get through (and a couple of people got all the way to the front only to find out that they didn’t have the required wristbands).

The ride needed all three people to be a similar weight or else the lightest person would swing wildly around so I went with a couple of smaller girls while James, Nick and Kelly went together.

James and Kelly were a bit wary so they weren’t pedaling as fast as they could. =(

We also saw a robot that could do that movie thing where someone spreads their hand on a table, gets a knife and stabs it in between each of their fingers really fast. Though there were some stab marks on the dummy hand so I don’t think the technology is quite there yet to demonstrate it with a real one.
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Afterwards we had lunch. I bought some fairy floss for dessert but it was $10 for a bag. What a rip! $10!

We did see something that I had always thought was a myth …
IMG_20150516_130856We wandered inside the main expo hall which had people demonstrating and selling cool stuff. We saw a machine that used magnets to draw cool patterns in the sand, some pixel art that James really liked, and a gumball machine that released a gumball when you gave it a secret knock.
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While Nick and Kelly looked at the lego exhibit James and I watched some drone battles. People had modded drones – one had a baseball bat attached to it! – and were fighting each other in the air. It sounds cooler than it actually was because the drones kept malfunctioning (the baseball bat drone could barely get off the ground) and we had to watch like, 5 aborted matches until we saw one where they actually got to fight. And the actual fight was crap – they would gently brush up against each other which would send one or both crashing to the ground.

James: Are you writing about the fight? And how lame it was?
(long pause) 
James: 
I feel ignored.

We also got to try an Oculus Rift and saw a cannon that shot what I think was puffs of dry ice.
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And here is James in a battle bot. =)
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There was so much other stuff to explore – a sauerkraut-making class, a building full of 3D printers and big piles of lego you could play with.

Oh yeah, and right at the end we saw an actual battle bot (sorry James) shoot a cannon at a car.
IMG_20150516_160810My favourite was still the ferris wheel though. Or maybe the wacky bikes. Nah, it was all great. It was a super fun day!

(But seriously, it was the ferris wheel)

Finally Adjusting to San Francisco

8 May

I don’t want to jinx it but I think after 8+ months in San Francisco I’ve finally gotten over my homesickness. It was truly awful for a really long time. A short, but by no means exhaustive list: I would cry (not even tear up; like, legit sobbing) when I heard my parents’ voices, when I saw anything Seattle-related and when I saw heartwarming scenes of people surrounded by friends and family on TV. It’s better for James too because he was feeling guilty and stressed worrying over me – he said that he used to panic if he missed the first bus home.

Our social calendar is more jam-packed in San Francisco than it was in Seattle. We still don’t have a group like we did in Seattle but we have lots of individual friends and that is getting us by for now. A few weekends ago we went to a lame Cinco de Mayo celebration in the Mission with Eliot and Michelle. There were a couple of food trucks but the stalls were mainly commercial – like for insurance and lasik eye surgery. Laaaame.

This was the only slightly non-crappy business stall at Cinco de Mayo – the Wheel of Rice where you could spin the wheel to win silly little prizes like spatulas and get free rice samples.

IMG_20150502_134219(I don’t remember making Mr. Burns hands)

Then on Sunday we had lunch with Bo and Christine in Mountain View, dinner with Chris and Alex in San Jose, and post-dinner Game of Thrones with Eliot and Michelle.

When we were talking with Chris and Alex, Alex was talking about how much she hated San Jose (which I totally get – every time James and I drive down that way it’s a huge reminder how we would absolutely hate to live there. It’s just so sprawly – nothing but houses and roads, and the weather is way too hot). But when Alex was talking about how miserable she was it made me realise that I wasn’t anymore.

A big part of it is that I’ve found a teeny tiny circle of friends. Helen and Anne Marie are also free during the week so we meet up every week for walks and girly things like brunch and afternoon tea. Last month we went to Kitchen Story (which blows Melbourne brunches out of the water. James wants to go because I keep raving about it) and a couple of weeks ago we had afternoon tea in Japantown. Then this week a bunch of us went to Erica’s rooftop pink party (where I got horribly drunk off just three cocktails).

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image stolen from Erica

James and I have also been going to a board game meetup every fortnight. Everyone there is super nice and it reminds me of playing games with our friends back in Seattle. And James found out that he actually has friends in common with two of the board game guys!

Now that I’m not miserable anymore hopefully I can get back into the swing of things with gym and writing. I’m also very conscious that I’ve been neglecting the blog! We’ve been doing a bunch of stuff so I have a backlog of updates. =)

Hiking Around Mount Tamalpais and Lunch at Fish.

28 Apr

Last Sunday we went hiking with Daphne, Chris, Lisa and Cagri. It was a beautiful sunny day – perfect hiking weather, which I’m learning seems to be almost every day here.

The drive up was pretty packed, but I think there were enough different trails that no individual trail was particularly busy. This is us at the start of the hike.

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image from Chris

We intended to do the Rock Creek loop but there were a lot of crossroads and the trail wasn’t well-signed (which was weird because it wasn’t a remote area – at some points we were walking next to cars on the road). I think we managed to stay on the trail for most of it, but we made a wrong turn somewhere in there because we finished much faster than we should have.

Never mind, there were so many hikes in the same area that we just started on another one!

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image from Lisa

We had a peek at the Mountain Theater where they were rehearsing what looked like Peter Pan. The construction was super elaborate and you could see the water from the top seats.
IMG_20150426_110436Then we kept randomly walking. It was a pretty easy hike through meadows and then forest. I preferred the forest parts because we weren’t in the sun as much.
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After the hike we drove to Sausalito for lunch at Fish., a super popular cash-only restaurant. We got there around 1:30pm and there was a massive line.
IMG_20150426_132551It took a long time to get to the front, and the line stayed out the patio gate until around 3pm. At least you could buy drinks while you waited, so everyone got beers and I had a nice refreshing water.

James and I ordered fish and chips and some BBQ oysters. At just under $60 for the two of us it was pretty expensive, especially for a cash-only place!

The food was great though, and the portions were generous. I couldn’t finish mine and had to give James one of my fish and a big handful of chips.
IMG_20150426_142314Stuffed, we went home where I napped until it was time for us to go to Eliot and Michelle’s place to watch Game of Thrones and eat brownies.

It was a pretty busy Sunday but it was nice to get out and explore a bit. =)

Android Perks!

2 Apr

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile – James’ brother came to visit for a week and then we were in Mammoth for another week.

One of the nice perks of James working in Android is that he gets a lot of free stuff to play with. He has a Sonos, two Nexus tablets, two watches and a Nexus 5 phone. And today all the people in Android were given these:
2015-04-02From left to right: Nexus 6, a gamepad for the Nexus and a Nexus Player.

The best part (for me) is that he gets to keep his old Nexus 5 phone, so he just needs to change it from a developer phone to a normal one and then I get a free upgrade! I’m so sick of my iPhone – it sucks not knowing if a charge will last for 5 hours or for 30 minutes.

He’s been enjoying work a lot and apparently all his projects have been going well. So the swag is a cool perk on top of loving his job and getting to work on interesting stuff. Oh yeah, and he gets to go to New York at the end of this month. =)

Surfing in Santa Cruz

19 Mar

A few months back Luke came to visit his team in Mountain View and stayed with us over the weekend. We made the drive down to Santa Cruz so he and James could go surfing (I don’t like surfing so I jogged along the cliffs).

We had a fairly unmemorable breakfast at one of the diners in the area and then James and Luke rented surfing gear at the newbie surf beach.
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Apparently the surf conditions weren’t very good but it was still a beautiful day. And you know, photos can be massaged a little.

Here they are waiting for a wave:

0147c0cae9106b430e5aa6aa9f00e132c11d523166And James coming to greet me after my jog:
01e9637a91d8b198a0442e887ad2b8ba0c21882b5eThen at the end of the day.
01dc2d1df2a53fa2f372487e1ec82e0330233f7af0After they got changed we checked out the boardwalk amusement park. James waited in line for 20 minutes for an elaborate potato twisty thing that you could put different seasonings on (it was delicious).
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While he waited, Luke and I walked around and looked at the rides. I told Luke I’d go on one ride with him and he carefully gauged my reaction to all of them until he found the one I was the most terrified of:
IMG_20141019_160341I screamed my head off. Luke spent the whole ride laughing at me and showing off by like, lifting his arms in the air.

Afterwards we dropped Luke off at the airport and headed back home. I’m glad that he’s able to visit every few months for work. We are making new friends here but it’s always good seeing old ones. =)

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