Summary: Danny's birthday party and dinner, Steve D's birthday party at Eight, Hawaiian Vacation with Chris and Nate, New Year's Eve Dessert Party with Danny, Drew, and Phil
Dates on this page
Breakfast: a banana. Returned videos to Le Video. Pollyanna's first day at the office. We had a welcome party for her which doubled as a thank you party for our temp Timmy. Finalized and made live a short survey about post-graduation e-mail. Small web update. Discovered a problem with the rewrite engine on the dev server, notified Julie who will investigate it. Trained Pollyanna briefly on using her computer and e-mail and password database. Lunch: leftovers, raisins. Error message "The messaging interface has returned an unknown error. If the problem persists, restart Outlook." appears when attmepting to print or print preview a daily calendar in Outlook 2003. I could not find an answer to this problem on the web. Monthly web archives. Turned in timesheet. Web updates replacing Timmy's info with Pollyanna's. Physically secured the Mac Mini. Sent Joel a get well card; he's been out of the office sick the past few days. Error message "Your autoreply message could not be displayed. The client operation failed." followed by "Changes to the rule could not be saved." when attempting to set an Out of Office Assistant reply for Cindy in Outlook 2003. I think we resolved this by restarting Outlook with 'outlook.exe /cleanrules'. Collected web links for Susie regarding video production. Uploaded and announced new draft schedules. Dinner at Xiao Loong: bok choy and shitaake mushrooms, xiao loong beef, wonton soup, ti quan yin tea. Patrick's fortune: You are a person of imaginative, yet honest intentions. My fortune: To reach distant places, you have to take the first step. Grocery shopping at Safeway.
Breakfast: a banana, an english muffin with margarine, mini tater tots with ketchup. Prepared rental resume, rental letter of introduction, credit reports (Equifax). Chatted briefly with Travis. Reviewed pre-opening-day de Young film photos which got posted to ofoto.com—will organize and announce them later. Patrick did a surprise event for me tonight. He took me to the A.C.T. production of A Christmas Carol, and his mom came along, too. The production is all new this year, less traditional, more modern. It's part musical now. The first spirit is a candle (huh?) who rides in on a swing. The second spirit is dressed in (I believe) a Kwanzaa outfit. The third spirit is the most stunning of them all, and I won't describe it—that would give too much away. Although I prefer the production we saw (I think) 2 years ago, this one is still entertaining. Mom Ryan actually got the tickets from Rudy the maintenance man in her building. Thanks, Rudy! Afterwards, we dropped Mom Ryan off at her place and I changed into nightclub clothes there. Patrick took the train home (shaolin practice at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning), and I went to Steve D's birthday party at Club Eight. Somehow (?) he rented out the entire first floor of the club for his private birthday party and invited a bunch of his friends. Yuki made the delicious angel food cake with (I think) whipped cream and fresh fruit. Afterwards, Marck, Tony Q, Frank, and I went to Club Sexy at Underground SF. The music was really good and we had fun dancing. I got home around 2:00 AM and was hungry. The microwave's broken, so I can't heat up any food easily, so I eat cherries from Chile instead—they're delicious in December!
Brunch with Tony Q, Frank, Erik, Nick, and Patrick. Went to the showing of an apartment. Bought a new microwave at Home Depot. Normally we avoid Home Depot because like Ikea it's just an awful shopping experience most of the time. The woman in the home appliances section who helped us was very helpful, but it took a very long time to get out of the parking lot. Home. Snack: leftover turkey and gravy and blueberry yogurt for me, Xiao Loong leftovers for Patrick. Shopping at Macy's Stonestown—we desperately needed more socks. The holiday shopping lines inside some of the stores (The Gap, Banana Republican) were amazing! I don't recall seeing lines so long before. We skipped out and decided to shop online instead.
Breakfast: a banana, yogurt, english muffin. Schedule update for Lucia. Linkchecking. Checked on backup tapes. Mac Mini setup. Set up Skype teleconference for Chris—all went well. Lunch: leftovers. Dinner with Patrick: linguine with leftover chicken. Put de Young photos online and announced.
Backfilled last Saturday's entry—I forgot to put in Club Sexy. Breakfast: a banana, yogurt, english muffin. Holiday gift exchange (secret santa) party at the office. Cindy brought in bagels and cream cheese, holiday doughnuts, candy canes, festive holiday cocktail napkins, Odwalla tangerine-orange-somethingelse juice, and tea. James made chocolate chip cookies. ? brought a (raspberry?) danish. Cindy got a green, scalloped hurricane candle lamp; Ena got a bobblehead dog photo frame, 2 candy canes, and a box of Choxie peppermint bark chocolate; Stacey got a set of 2 white scoop bowls from Crate & Barrel; James got a vanilla candle from Illuminations; Lucia got lotions and soaps in a green metal pail; Polly got superstrong silver magnets "wrapped" in a glass jar. I drew the highest number, so I could either open the last gift or steal someone else's. I chose to steal the scoop bowls from Stacey. She stole the vanilla candle from James. James stole the lotions and soaps from Lucia. Lucia ended the game by opening the last gift, a red hurricane candle lamp. Joel didn't participate this year—something about him forgetting what time or day we were having it. Who brought what: Cindy brought the red hurricane lamp from Z Gallerie, James brought the scoop bowls, Stacey brought the scalloped hurricane candle lamp, Lucia brought the vanilla candle, Polly brought the bobblehead frame and candy, Ena brought the soap and lotions bucket, and I brought the magnets from Wishbone at 5th and Irving. Afterwards we all took Muni downtown to Kuleto's (415-397-7720, 221 Powell Street) for the customary office holiday lunch. Drinks: iced teas and waters. Appetizers: crispy buttermilk battered calamari with two dipping sauces, bruschetta with pancetta and figs, bread and butter, bread and oil and balsamic vinegar. Starters: hearts of romaine salad with crispy prosciutto (Stacey, Lucia, James, Frank, Cindy). Entrees: Lucia had angel hair with tomatoes, toasted garlic, basil and extra virgin olive oil 13.50; James, Stacey, and I had saffron risotto milanese with sea scallops, gulf shrimp and english peas 17.75; Cindy had dungeness crab cakes with spicy aïoli and arugula-fennel salad 11.95; Ena had Hobbs' smoked chicken cobb salad with pancetta, tomato and gorgonzola 12.95; Joel and Polly split the crab louis with butter lettuce, arugula, cucumber, celery, tomato and egg 15.95. Joel and Polly also split a butternut squash ravioli. Desserts: Joel had vanilla gelato, Polly had eggnog creme brulee, Lucia took bites of others' desserts, Stacey had chocolate gelato, Cindy took bites of others' desserts, James had the chocolate and vanilla gelato brownie sundae, I had tiramisu. All the food was delicious, but the service was well below our expectations. When we arrived, they had seated us at a very small table for 8 people. Later, when salads arrived, our server did not have tableware ready beforehand, and she did not return to offer us freshly ground pepper, but I saw other waiters doing so at other tables. Later, I was still eating my salad when James's entree and my entree magically appeared. Since the table was so small, I resigned to forego the remainder of my salad in order to enjoy my entree while it was still hot. Our server did not attempt to remove crumbs from our table. Although the service was flawed, none of us let it ruin our cheerful holiday mood. I believe these errors were solely due to our server. (I didn't get her name.) In the evening, Patrick and I had mashed potatoes, leftover chicken, and ? for dinner. Worked on Lodestar.
Edited a photo for Joel (Shanna, Sid). New news stories for Susie. Helped student JH with a laptop problem. Updated a listserv for Joel. Other web edits for Susie. Small web edits for Cindy. Met with Cindy. Met with Rodney about his redesign of the IRC website—it looks really good. Lunch: salad and dinner roll with butter from the cafeteria, Dole fruit cups brought from home. Dinner at Panda Express: sweet and sour pig, pineapple chicken, chow mein. My fortune: A refreshing change is in your future. Packed. Backfilled yesterday's journal entry.
Checked out Windows Live Local (local.live.com). The interface is not as fluid as Google Maps, but the imagery is indeed excellent. New news stories for Susie. Web edits for Cindy. Fixed a problem with Chris's power—backup power supply went dead, so I removed it and replaced it with power strips which will hold him for now. Lunch: salad from the cafeteria. Dinner at Blue with Mom Ryan and Patrick: nachos for the table to start, mac and cheese and mint tea for me, veggie lasagne and iced tea for Patrick, penne with sausage, cream soda for Mom Ryan. Too full for dessert.
Cut my hair. Organized and shared photos with Ofoto. If you didn't get the two photo albums I sent out via Ofoto today, let me know—my Ofoto address book is not entirely current, and I haven't had time to go through it yet. Brunch at home by myself: leftovers. Errands at West Portal. Started working on Lodestar all day but couldn't finish everything. Dinner at home with Patrick: rib-eye cow, peas, baked potato. I won't be posting for a little while. I'll resume when I get back.
It's about 7:15 AM, and I'm at San Francisco airport. I realize around this time that I didn't pack a watch, so I don't know exactly what time it is, but it's about 7:15. Checking in with Hawaiian Airlines was confusing because I didn't know where to start. It's my first time flying since 9/11. I ended up having to wait in a line for the ticket counter which was really just a row of self-service computers. I punched in the number called "reservation code" on my web receipt printout (the screen asked for "confirmation code" instead). The machine printed my boarding pass. While waiting at the gate, I realize I forgot to bring earplugs and of course there are a fair number of very young, very loud children who appear to be waiting to board the same airplane. The thought of a 5-hour flight with them scares me more than paying $7.57 for a single pair of Samsonite earplugs which I will use and a Samsonite eye mask which I will not use from Marilou at the "I Love San Francisco C-2 Beyond Securi" store in the terminal. (The word "Security" is chopped off on my receipt.) So as of 7:51 AM I have my earplugs now. The flight is uneventful. I have a window seat sit next to a young woman who appears to be Japanese. She says nothing to me for the entire flight and either sleeps or listens to her iPod mini (or maybe both—I don't know). The meal I chose on the flight was a cold turkey sandwich, Sun Chips, and cookies—it's not bad but not great, either. In retrospect, the BBQ chicken meal looked like a healthier choice. The film was Wallace and Gromit (Were-Rabbit). That film is funny even without the sound (though the sound helps a lot). The flight has some turbulence but is otherwise uneventful. I arrive in Honolulu 35 minutes early (the website said "ON TIME" but the actual flight time was 4:40 instead of 5:15), but since I don't have a watch I'm not certain of the time. My round-trip flight costs $351.90. Chris and Nate meet me at Avis. I chose Avis because I remembered in Massachusetts with mikeob they didn't bat a discriminatory eyelasy at having two gay men be signed on as drivers. I also chose Avis because they weren't the least expensive. I have stood in very long lines before for car rental, and it's not fun at all. At Avis, I waited less than 10 minutes for help. The entire checkout process took about 20 minutes. My rental car for the trip costs $402.61. A joke I thought up: What do you call a person who has been working too long at the University of Hawai'i? Answer: An academia nut! Chris and Nate give me a beautiful lei made up of dozens of orchids. Nate rides back with me in the rental car, and I follow Chris in the other car to their place. They give me a tour of their apartment, the upper level of a single-family home nestled in the St. Louis Heights neighborhood of Honolulu. They have the largest screen door I've ever seen—it must be at least 8 feet by 6 feet—is it the world's largest? I briefly met their downstairs neighbor Valerie. The first thing she says to me is, "Hi! You look like a lot of fun!" and I am flattered and charmed. After I got settled in, we all drove down to Waikiki to lunch at Tiki's Grill and Bar with Mike and Mike. I hadn't seen Michael Pellegrino in years when we both had lived in Seattle and knew each other through Chris and Nate and Steve M. Mike P's boyfriend is also named Mike, which makes their coupling quite handy for people who can't remember names. For lunch we had deluxe nachos and other bar food. I had the Aloha Friday Hawaiian Plate (which, confusingly, is served every day) with kalua pig, steamed rice, mashed Okinawan sweet potatoes, ti-leaf-wrapped lau lau, and coconut haupia—very yummy. Afterwards we walk along Kuhio Beach Park a bit, then Mike and Mike have to leave. Chris and Nate and I walk further down to Kapiolani Beach Park, onto a breakwater to see fishes and tiny crabs, then back through the park to the car for the drive home. On the way, we stop at Times and Longs for groceries and drug store stuff. Chris took a nap while I glued orthotics to my Tevas and wrote postcards. Nate prepared dinner: roasted potatoes, grilled chicken boob. We talked in the living room until about 11:00 PM. I left Outlook running at work when I left thinking that the e-mail I had scheduled to go out would send, but it didn't send as I had expected. I also realized around now that I was unable to set a vacation notice in Outlook Web Access, which I had forgotten to do before I left. Oh, well. I guess if you set a vacation notice in OWA, you need to be certain that you're not logged in to Outlook anywhere.
I woke up today at 4:39 AM—jetlag! Today Chris and Nate and I realized that with tourists and locals running about and the Honolulu Marathon happening today it was unlikely that we could get anywhere easily. The streets and freeways were likely to be clogged with traffic. Since we all had things we needed to work on, we stayed home, which was perfectly fine for me. When I left San Francisco, the daytime high was in the fifties. Here in Honolulu, it's about 80. Sooo nice! Chris has a term paper to write, Nate has an examination to prepare and is helping straggling students finishing final projects, and I have Lodestar works to code. I coded all the bios and started in on coding the fiction. The lodestar writer's works were finished before I left San Francisco. Today I got all the fiction coded except for the harder parts of Philip Huang's Lady. All this took most of the day. At lunch time, Chris and I took a break and he cooked us turkey burgers. We reheated last night's potatoes to go with it. I read more from The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger which Chris and Nate bought me for my birthday. I like the book, which I had started on my flight over. The romance in it isn't sappy (yet?) and the time travel described in it has not yet been introduced to my body of knowledge. Even at page 165, I can tell that I will likely agree with the Chicago Tribune which called it "a soaring celebration of the victory of love over time." I haven't told you much yet of Chris and Nate's place. It's high on a hill overlooking Honolulu and perhaps the best things about their place are the view and the relatively low price they're paying for rent. A deck in the back of the house reveals a panoramic view of the landscape. To the south is the inactive volcanic cone called Diamond Head. To the west and southwest are the highrises of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. The sky is larger than anywhere I've ever lived, and I imagine it's easy for most people to feel jealous of their home. On the deck are dozens of plants which Chris and Nate have collected in their 5 years of living here—ginger, bougainvillea, hibiscus, various herbs, orchids. Some things grow extremely well and others mysteriously die. The possibly-world's-largest screen door opens to the living room—a collection of mostly Asian or Asian-influenced furniture and boldly colored art. Nate has prepared several flower arrangements (anthuriums, birds of paradise) for my arrival. They've given me the spare room which includes a comfortable futon couch, a black and gold halogen lamp, a wicker chest, a paper shredder, a vacuum cleaner, a low filing unit, a bulletin board with dozens of buttons on it such as "Thank you for not picking your nose" and "I saw E.T." and "Bad dog, no biscuit." A television cabinet houses a large Panasonic TV, a TiVo unit, and a videogame unit (Playstation?). The room is given to media: CDs (RuPaul, Supermodel of the Year; Eurythmics Greatest Hits; Queen Greatest Hits I & II), DVDs (The Incredibles, Iron Giant, The Phantom of the Opera, The Birds, Blade Runner), books (Taschen's Tom of Finland The Art of Pleasure, Cosmos by Carl Sagan, Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet, Peter Haining's Doctor Who: A Celebration, Fodor's Australia, Mary K. Greer's Tarot for Yourself), and software from Adobe, Macromedia, Extensis, Bare Bones, Valve, Starwave, Sierra, Interplay, Microsoft, Jasc, Roxio, and more. Other things in the room: pencils of color, the box for a Holga camera, a flower arrangement, Chris and Nate's certificate of commitment from their pre-Gavin-Newson wedding day in 1997, a print of a blue moon and leaveless trees by Tamarack, a closet which I haven't needed to open, a ceiling fan. On one wall hangs a Nancy Pearl librarian action figure, still in the original packaging. I recognize a few things related to me—the Essential House book I gave them as a gift (xmas?), my signature on their commitment ceremony witness document which is framed on the wall, its ink fading. The room is very comfortable to me. Chris and Nate keep the doors and windows unlocked and always open (except for the front door). This is unusual to me, but I recognize it as island living. There's always a breeze blowing through, so the house doesn't get hot like the house I grew up in as a child. Although they've had ant and mouse problems in the past, their home is surprisingly free of pests during my stay. Their neighbor Valerie lent us a beautiful green chenille throw so I could have an extra blanket at night for my feet. The overnight low is 70 degrees, but I still miss the heating pad I have for my feet at home. For dinner, Nate made a perfect pizza crust from scratch and topped it with goat cheese, pan-seared pine nuts, and herbs. We have the pizza with a side salad with tomatoes. I learn today that Nate has never tried heirloom tomatoes before.
I woke up today at 4:39 AM—the exact time I woke up yesterday. Yesterday when this happened, I tried to sleep more and couldn't, so today I got right up and didn't try to sleep more. Chris and Nate had more work to do, so I spent the day at Waikiki sunning on the beach, shopping for gifts, and looking for floaty pens for Joel (couldn't find any). I walked through the International Marketplace, then along Kuhio. I'm sick of seeing ABC stores and macadamia nut clusters. They're everywhere! Chris says that ABC stands for "all blocks covered"—very funny! I have lunch by myself at Lulu's: chicken cobb salad, iced tea. Service is really slow and they are unable to refill my iced tea even once because someone was changing or refilling something in the machine. (They could have boiled water, brewed tea, and chilled it in the time it took my waitron to figure that out.) They don't charge me for the iced tea, so I leave a better tip than otherwise. Home (Chris and Nate's). I briefly meet J, a friend of Chris and Nate's. Shower. Dinner at home with Chris and Nate: manoa lettuce salad with corn; toast with cheese, dill, and black pepper; stuffed prawns made by J.
Chris thought up a joke this morning: What do you call a piano that's been assembled from pieces of other pianos? Answer: Frankensteinway. At 7:53 AM today I'm leaving to meet Mike P at Starbucks. As I'm walking up to Starbucks, he sees me just an instant before I see him, and he says, "Don't go in there. I'm gonna take you to the best coffee in Honolulu." I think about a dozen instantly jealous tourists had overheard him and in a few seconds we are walking down Kalakana Avenue a few blocks to the Sheraton and we enter Honolulu Coffee. It's very clean inside with great lighting design and some unusual richly brownish colored ceiling fans which Patrick would like. Only a few people are in line ahead of us and within a minute or two we realize there's some kind of problem—a register or credit card machine or something isn't working properly so the line isn't moving. It doesn't matter to us because we have time for a delay. The workers figure out how to use a second register as a backup, but by the time we get to the register, one person in front of us has abandoned the idea of getting Honolulu Coffee, and the line behind us has grown to about 4 times as long as when we arrived. While we wait, someone's drink order is ready and called out: "Grande iced skinny mocha nowhip!" We get our coffee and walk over to Mike's. Mike #2 (as he is sometimes known) is at work; today is Mike's day off. He has to be home for the plumber to arrive and he wants to make pfefferneuse from a recipe his mom sent to him in a letter she appeared to have typed on a typewriter. Mike realizes he accidentally bought corn syrup instead of molasses, so I'm sent to Food Pantry to get some. When I return, I realize I left my rental car in the metered parking lot and rush off to move the car. Fortunately, there's no ticket! I get back to Mike's. The plumber hasn't shown up even after Mike called the building manager and gave them an extra hour of window. Mike lets me try on a few Hawaiian shirts—I pick one I like out to borrow in case I go to a luau or something. We leave and Mike takes me in Mike #2's Jeep and we drive downtown. Along the way we listen to Esquivel's Merry Xmas—it's festive. We arrive at the Honolulu Academy of Art (900 S. Bretania Street, Honolulu). The museum is a very nice experience—there's a little of everything: Thomas Moran, Rodin, Monet, but the first one we see is the featured exhibit: "From the Fire: Contemporary Korean Ceramics." Most of it I like and only some of it made me think, "How did this get in here?" The first sentence I read on the introduction text card at the beginning of the exhibit says, "Today, Korea's contemporary ceramic artists stand at a crossroads." and immediately I cringe, then laugh. We are seated for lunch in the museum's cafe which is also where Chris used to work as a waitron. Mike has a Nicoise salad, I have a duck salad, Anna is our server. While we eat, Mike recommends North Beach places to eat in San Francisco: Mario's Cigar Shop (panini sandwiches across from a church) and Bix. The food and service are excellent. For dessert, we share butterscotch pudding, which is perfectly flavored. Before it arrived, I feared it would be too sweet, like a butterscotch hard candy, but it's not—it's perfect. After lunch, we return to the exhibits. The museum is almost empty. As a San Francisco resident, I'm not used to having a museum room, much less an entire museum, all to myself. I particularly like each of the various courtyards: one is Mediterranean, another is Asian, and so forth—each has its own character and charm. After the museum we drive to a nearby Safeway and park. Across the street we check out a new home furnishings store he wants to see called Pacific Home. Nice stuff, but we buy nothing. Groceries at Safeway. Mike gives me a driving tour of downtown and Chinatown. We pick up Mike #2 from work and drive back to their place. I fall asleep in the lounge chair while Mike prepares dinner and Mike #2 steps out to get a baguette. Chris and Nate come over, and we eat: salad with assorted toppings, penne in red sauce with sausage. The pfefferneuse comes out perfectly. Mike attempts to serve it from a ziploc bag, but I demand a serving plate. He gets one, and Nate and I both think he's going to set the plate down and put the ziploc bag on top of it, but he does spill a few out onto the plate and we enjoy them and laugh. We talk about race-related slang in the military, the date upon which the winter solstice falls, daylight saving time, Mike #2's giant movie collection, Jesus and athletics, tiki tissue boxes, San Francisco weather and hoods, Frankensteinway pianos. No one knows the proper pronunciation of pfefferneuse and after a while I simply fake a sneeze into my hand instead of attempting to pronounce the word. Mike #2 falls asleep in the lounge chair while we watch episodes of Family Man on DVD. I've never seen it before, and it's funny in parts but I am mostly unimpressed. Nate seems to enjoy it a lot. We say our goodbyes and drive to Starbucks for chaoi. I look for floaty pens for Joel and find some, but they are layered in dust and don't look new, so I'm suspicious and choose to not buy them and get some other things instead. We walk out on a breakwater to observe the city and water night landscape. The sky is clear, the moon is newly full, the sound of the waves is peaceful. We drive home. Before bed, I'm given a small heating pad which had been dug out of a closet—it's so warm! I stay up late to read Niffenegger. I stop at around 1:30 AM at page 471 (paperback, first harvest edition 2004)—nearly done!
Woke up at 7:15 AM—a normal time! Chris got Portuguese donuts called malasadas from Leonard's this morning—they are deliciously decadent! Chris uploads some of my photos to his Flickr account. A joke I thought up today: What do you call the rear end of a man from Hamburg, Germany? Answer: hamburger buns! Chris worked on his term paper and I worked on Lodestar. Nate had a final to administer. After Nate got back, we drove to South Shore Grill: mahi mahi plate for me, BBQ chicken and diet pepsi for Nate, BBQ chicken no rice extra cole slaw and cherry pepsi for Chris. We then drove to Pali Lookout, the site of a historic and decisive battle in 1795 called Kaleleka'anae in which many soldiers were forced off the edge of a huge cliff. The battle led to the crowning of Kamehameha I as the first king of the Hawaiian islands. The lookout is at the top of a road crossing the island's mountains, and it has panoramic views of the land and ocean below. We took a few photos. It was chilly and very windy, and it was the only place on O'ahu I felt I could use a jacket. Stopped in Waimanalo at a grocery for drinks and snacks. Drove to Kailua Beach, briefly watched a game of football, walked along the beach for a bit, watched a Caterpillar machine move sand around. Here I got a really great set of photos which, when stitched together, will create a panoramic 360-degree view of the beach. When I have some time, I'll try to figure out how to make a QuickTime file of it. We then drove to Lani Kai, which is said to have some of the finest (powderiest) sand on the island. We walked along the beach for a bit. Then we drove to another lookout called Makapu'u, hiked to the top, saw the lighthouse below. More beautiful views, but no whales—the season had just started. We made it back to the car just as the sun was setting against the full or nearly full moon. We hit unusually heavy traffic on H-1 coming back. The traffic was so bad we turned the car around and stopped for dinner at Greek Marina in Hawai'i Kai. I had Greek steak and hot chai tea, Chris had a gyros plate and water, Nate had chicken souvlaki and water. We drove home the long way to avoid the traffic which we feared was still around. I finished The Time Traveller's Wife, liked it a lot. Sleep.
Woke up around 5:30 or 6:00 AM this morning, couldn't go back to sleep so I started reading Harry Potter 6 (The Half-Blood Prince). Breakfast at home (Chris and Nate's): Dole fruit cup, a banana, raisins, a pfefferneuse cookie. Nate did grading at the school where he works. Chris and I did the Diamond Head hike. The crater of Diamond Head is an inactive volcanic cone. You can drive through a tunnel into the center of the crater, then hike up the inside edge of the crater to an observation station at the top which offers beautiful panoramic views of Waikiki and all the surrounding land. The hike is 0.8 miles one way and climbs 560 feet. Chris had brought a flashlight along because there are two tunnels along the hike, but we found that they had installed lights for the tunnels since Chris had last done the hike. After the hike, we lunched at Bogart's: roast chicken sandwich with potato chips, water, kona granita for me. Errands: cookie store, Long's drug store, flower shop. Home, shower, computer time. Dinner at Mariposa, a fine dining restaurant in Neiman Marcus in Ala Moana Shopping Center with Chris, Nate, Becky (Dr. K), Marta, and the birthday girl, Lillian. I had scallops with spinach, portabello mushrooms; corn bisque with lobster. Home, sleep.
Dim sum brunch at Mei Sum with Mike P and Nate. Mei Sum had some dim sum I had never had before. One was a tempuraed fake crab seaweed roll. Another was a taro nest with a single scallop within. Very yummy, fast, and inexpensive. Dropped Mike off at work. Nate and I drove up to U'ahila Ridge State Park, saw the view and the wild chickens. Home. Our Christmas presents arrived for Chris and Nate. I had intended on taking them on the plane but just before I left I read on the web that wrapped packages might need to be unwrapped at the security stations, so I had Patrick mail it instead. Chris also received his replacement part for his Playstation 2. It only took him a few minutes to complete the repair, and he played Katamari Damancy for a while. Nate watched him play, and I read from Harry Potter 6. In the late afternoon we drove down to Waikiki for cocktails, Maui-style potato chips, and coconut shrimp at Halekulani with live music and a hula dancer. Of all the touristy things I did on this trip, I think I enjoyed this the most. We watched the sunset go down behind a cloud layer, people-watched the passing crowd, drank in the live music and the colorful and fruity drinks which had real orchids dropped in them as a decadent garnish. The hula dancer sang and danced with a graceful interpretation. I felt as though this evening was the culmination of years of refinement of Hawaiian culture. On our way home, we saw the Hilton's Friday night fireworks from St. Louis Heights. I fell asleep early. Chris and Nate had a chef's salad for dinner.
Woke up around 5:00 AM but stayed in bed another hour or so. Chicken soup for pre-breakfast—the alcohol from last night made my sore throat worse. Bought gifts for my office co-workers from an ABC store. (Don't worry, Joel—it's not macadamia nut clusters!) Breakfast with Chris, Nate, Craig, and Morgan at Wailana Coffee House, a popular 1960s-70s-ish Denny'sesque diner. Burnt orange, brown, beige. The banquettes, salad bar, and lighting (lanterns hanging from chain links) definitely give an old-style feel but without the wear and tear. Afterwards we walked through the Hilton Resort, saw the live flamingoes and African black-footed penguins. The penguins aren't kept indoors as I've usually seen them before in zoos. These are kept in an outdoor pen and they're considered warm-weather penguins. Nate went to school to grade exams. Chris and I went home, hung out, then went to the beach. Nate happened to arrive at the parking lot at exactly the same time. We lay on the beach for a few hours, and I realized that this was the first time we'd ever done this together. Back at home, I helped Nate make pineapple upside down cake. We ate dinner: sloppy joes, fresh pineapple, pineapple upside down cake. Watched Throughly Modern Millie on DVD, which I enjoyed a lot. I hadn't known this film existed! Wild!
Chicken noodle soup for breakfast. Massages for all of us by Brian. Late lunch at Gordon Biersch: Chris had a cup of chicken noodle soup and a half turkey sandwich, Nate had a blue cheese salad and half turkey sandwich, and I had the kahlua pig sandwich with garlic fries. We also ordered bruschetta but Mike forgot to punch it in for us (we forgave him). It was very windy while we ate and we also got a little bit of rain, but not enough to cause concern. One man at a table next to us picked up his plate and ran for cover. Mike came by our table a few seconds later and remarked, "That man must be made of sugar." Chris had 2 hefes with lunch, so he took a nap as soon as we got home. Chris left for Marta's party. Nate and I worked in Photoshop, he showed me a bunch of his research, we made dinner (aka Disaster Kitchen) and talked in the living room. Chris returned from Marta's party. Watched the Simpson's 2005 Christmas show and a Teen Titan episode called "Revved Up." I read from Harry Potter 6.
Breakfast at home (Chris and Nate's): yogurt, english muffin, raisins, a banana, orange juice. Worked on one last piece for Lodestar. I drove by myself to Lani Kai and lay out on the beach reading Harry Potter 6. Chris started his new job at school today. Nate worked on his dissertation. We all met back at home. Shower. Got a bite to eat: cheese sandwich, banana, raisins. The three of us took a drive to the North Shore. Our first stop along the way was the Dole Plantation and Tourist Trap. We bought Dole Whip (which seemed to be pineapple frozen yogurt) but didn't pay for anything else. The giant gift shop had something I had never seen before—a Hello Kitty with brown skin (we took a photo). We drove some more and stopped at Matsumoto's for shave ice with ice cream—yummy! Mine was green apple and cherry. We continued north and stopped at the Pu'u O Mahuka Heiau State Monument, then walked along the beach somewhere around Pupukea or Ehukai Beach Park. Dinner at Cholo's. Drove home, stopped at Long's drug store since my stomach wasn't feeling well. Showered. Nate kindly and apologetically killed a cockroach which had found its way into my room and on my bed—ick! I finished Harry Potter 6. I couldn't stop reading in the last couple of chapters—so exciting and devastating!
Breakfast at home (Chris and Nate's): english muffin, raisins, yogurt. Checked e-mail. Did a little Lodestar work. Chris got back from work. We went to lunch at Harbor Pub, one of his favorite places to eat: roast cow sandwich, taco salad, tortilla chips and salsa. Shopping: Pier 1, Ala Moana. Home. I started reading Nate's copy of A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge which I'd never read before. Chris has been reading and enjoying The Time Traveller's Wife. Later Nate got back and for dinner we went to Ninniku Ya Garlic Restaurant (808-735-0784 or 808-924-2298, 3196 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu). We had garlic bread, pasta with mushrooms, chicken platter. Nate had a glass of shiraz, iced tea for Chris, hot tea for me. Jennifer was our server. Service was very slow. Home.
Breakfast early at the Hau Tree Lanai at the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel. Late night snack by myself: mini tater tots with ketchup. Bought gas for the rental car. Ate a salad at the airport snack bar. Flew home on Hawaiian Airlines. Some Hawaiian kid was already sitting in my window seat at boarding, but I didn't care and let him have the seat. Patrick and Sam picked me up from the airport.
First morning back after being gone for a while. Slept in. Patrick made scones. It's raining all day today. Oh, well! I need to stay indoors anyhow. Laundry, cutting my hair, home linkchecking, catching up on e-mail and snail mail, archiving documents, paying bills, uploading photos. I received a letter dated December 8, 2005 from Supervisor Fiona Ma responding to the September 29 letter I wrote to her about the problems with MUNI Bus 66 not showing up sometimes. It's a pretty standard form letter—very disappointing. Here's what she said: "Dear Mr. Farm, Thank you very much for your letter regarding the quality of service provided by MUNI bus line 66. I have forwarded your concerns to MUNI to address these issues. I appreciate your input into this matter and your activism on this issue to help make conditions better for all of our City's residents. Again, thank you for taking the time to write to my office. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have anything further on this or other concerns in the district. Warm regards, Fiona Ma." Why does it take 8 weeks to write so little? Lunch: ramen. Dinner with Patrick at So Restaurant: fried fish, potato cakes, chicken and fungus noodles. Grocery shopping at Safeway on Taraval.
Patrick made my favorite breakfast for us: eggs, sausage, hash browns, toast, yogurt, orange juice. Cut my hair. More of the same from yesterday. Patrick finished the decks today, so I put them in. He ran "errands" which means he's buying a Christmas present for me. Lunch: leftover noodles from last night. I got a lot done today. Edited an image for Tina. Created our holiday card. Prepped new rental applications. Edited images. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftover pizza, lasagna. Made Lodestar live (one day late). Patrick wrapped a few Christmas presents. Sent out the holiday card. Archived documents. Updated my contact info database so that it has two e-mail address fields instead of just one. Previously I had e-mail addresses in a memo field, but I realized I needed a plain text field with the most current e-mail address and a memo field for "other" e-mail addresses. The old Panasonic LC50 flat panel monitor I paid $999 for many many years ago today started exhibiting some problematic ghosting problems that don't seem to be easily fixable. I picked out and ordered my new monitor—a Dell 2005FPW. The next best choice would have been the Samsung 204T-Black, but I preferred the lower price and 16:10 aspect ratio and handy USB ports on the Dell.
I started the day off with a salt water gargle—just a small canker sore, nothing much to worry about since they don't bother me much. Afterwards I screamed at an Amazon phone representative (their phone number is 1-800-201-7575). Just before I left for vacation I bought some items from Patrick's wish list for Christmas. The order was to be mailed in 2 days. I didn't have a chance to follow up on it until I returned. Patrick said he hadn't received the order yet—it's been over 2 weeks. I sent e-mail to Amazon and they said that the gift recipient address was hidden from me for privacy and I should ask the gift recipient to contact them. So I tell Patrick and he is too tired to do it, so he leaves himself logged in to Amazon while I do it for him from his computer. He ends up speaking with them today while I'm sleeping in and they tell him that they can't tell him where the order was sent because he didn't place the order and that he should ask the gift giver to contact Amazon. I call Amazon back a few hours later. They finally tell me that the shipment was sent to our previous address from 3.75 years ago and they decide the shipment is lost and they'll send a replacement shipment to our correct address at no charge at the same 2-day speed. This is all fine, as it rectifies the order, but I asked the rep why this had happened in the first place. Indeed, Patrick had updated his default (though non-wish-list) address—why didn't Amazon ask him at that time to make his wish list address the same? The rep said that it was the responsibility of each user to keep his or her address updated, and she suggested that I remind the gift recipient before I make a purchase from their wish list that they should make sure their address is current. However, if the gift is intended to be a surprise, it's no longer a surprise when you have to remind someone to check their wish list address. I claimed to the rep that as she explained it I can no longer have any confidence that when I purchase something on an Amazon wish list for someone that they'll actually receive it okay. I suggested to her that Amazon put the recipient's wish list address at the top of the page right after someone adds something to their wish list to remind them where wish list items shall be sent. It was arduous, but eventually—and seemingly reluctantly—Ruth W admitted that my suggestion was a valid one. It took me several hours to let go of the Amazon grief. Patrick will receive his Christmas gifts hopefully before the new year. Did house chores, document archiving, rental application preparation, organizing paperwork, installed Firefox 1.5 and the Google Safe Browsing extension for Firefox—cool! Met up with Sam, Patrick, and Mom Ryan at Mom Ryan's place, took a few photos in the courtyard. Early dinner at Sumi (415-626-7864, 4243 18th Street) with Patrick and Mom Ryan. We didn't know, but it was a prix fixe meal—$65 per person for their holiday feast. We started with mineral water and champagne. Then came butter and hot bread. Then came a rather large amuse bouche trio: goat cheese, wasabi lime salmon on seasoned toast with creme fraiche, and chicken liver pate on seasoned toast with a baby pickle. First course was pumpkin curry soup (kabocha pumpkin and red curry) for Patrick and Mom Ryan, duck confit (on a bed of mixed greens with pomegranate vinaigrette) for me. A cranberry sorbet was served in between the first and second courses—delightful for the holidays. Second course: roasted breast of goose (sour cherry and ginger sauce, asparagus, Japanese sweet potato tempura) for Patrick and Mom Ryan, Niman Ranch filet mignon (wrapped with proscuitto, shiitake mushroom sauce, wasabi mashed potatoes, blue lake beans) for me. Desserts we shared: peppermint parfait (genoise, vanilla ice cream, candy cane, butter cookie), bouche de noel (chocolate genoise filled with chocolate mousse and creme anglaise), croque en bouche (profiteroles filled with bavarian cream served with egg nog ice cream and topped with caramel and whipped cream). At the end of the meal, our waitron surprised us each with a small cellophane-wrapped envelope of homemade cookies—seemingly a special holiday gift. Service was very good except that Patrick and I were slightly annoyed that our first course arrived before we finished our amuse bouche. The soup was served not hot, but neither Patrick nor Mom Ryan complained, not wanting to ruin our festive mood. The goose was rather tough, and when Patrick mentioned this to our waitron as he removed the second course, the waitron seemed to send the feedback to the kitchen immediately. Patrick described the meal as uneven. The soup and the goose which he and Mom Ryan had were clearly much poorer choices tonight than the confit and filet I had and with which I was very satisfied. I thought it rather odd that they crumbed the table even though it was covered in brown butcher paper—at this quality (and price) of dining, we expect tablecloths, not butcher paper. We talked about Christmases past, gifts we did and didn't receive. Mom Ryan told a lot of jokes, too. Afterwards we walked back to Mom Ryan's place, got the car and drove to the airport to pick up Patrick's brother Kerry who is visiting San Francisco for the very first time. He returns to New Orleans on January 4. His flight arrived about 30 minutes early, so we had some difficulty finding him. American Airlines was unable to get his luggage on the same plane, so it's lucky that Patrick and Sam had found and given him some clothes he could wear before he arrived. On the drive back, he told what he knows of what is and isn't washed out in New Orleans. Dropped him and Mom Ryan off at her place. Home. I edited and uploaded today's photos, reread chapter 27 (The Lightning-Struck Tower) of Harry Potter 6. I can't believe he's dead! (Or is he?) I'm still going through the photos from my trip—there are about 600 of them, so the photo corrections and captions are taking some time.
Slept in. Picked up Mom Ryan at Mission Dolores. Met Kerry at Mom's place. We opened Christmas presents. Patrick and I got Mom Ryan a 5-disc DVD set of the Barbra Streisand Television Specials. Patrick got me two books in hardcover: The Commitment by Dan Savage and How's Your Romance? by Ethan Mordden. Kerry got a bunch of clothes. The four of us went to dim sum breakfast at Yank Sing (415-957-9300, 101 Spear Street). Neither Mom Ryan nor Terry had had dim sum before—they both seemed to enjoy it. Mom Ryan was even chopsticks-capable after only one or two tries! Yank Sing was excellent once again. They seemed to have some dishes that weren't normally available. We had: Shanghai dumplings, potstickers, hot tea, foil-wrapped bacon-wrapped pork spare ribs, breaded prawns, pan-fried green beans, shau mai, shrimp and chive dumplings, char siu, Peking duck, Chinese broccoli, egg rolls, shrimp toast, honey walnut salad, chicken satay, orange jello, mango pudding, pistachio and almond ice cream cake. Afterwards, we took Kerry on a driving tour of San Francisco. We drove past the Golden Gate Bridge (but it was too foggy to see it), drove down Lombard Street, drove through the Haight and the Castro, stopped at the AMC Van Ness but we had just missed the starting times for the films we had wanted to see (The Chronicles of Narnia, King Kong, Mom Ryan wanted to see Rumor Has It), back to Mom Ryan's place where we watched disc 5 of the Barbra Streisand Television Specials on DVD. Patrick and I returned home. We sent out the Lodestar announcement—a few days late this time. I edited yesterday's photos and photos from my recent trip—color correction, rotating and cropping, fixing red-eye, and so forth. Experimented with PhotoStitch more - got some nice panoramas to emerge. Tried to figure out how to create a QuickTime VR panoramic (movie?) from a 360-degree panorama of Kailua Beach I had created - could not figure out how to do this easily in Windows, gave up (for now). Dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers. Watched The Apartment (1960) taped from PBS.
Breakfast at home: yogurt, banana, scones, blueberry bagel with cream cheese. Finally balanced my checkbook and credit cards for the past 3 months. I usually do it every month, but it has gotten away from me lately. Patrick ran errands and had a burger for lunch. Photo editing. Grocery shopping at Safeway on Taraval. Late lunch for me: Chinese chicken salad from Safeway. We started watching One for the Road taped from PBS but found it unwatchable after only a few minutes, so we trashed it and instead watched The Country Girl also taped from PBS which was better but in the end Patrick enjoyed it more than I did. (I could not believe the love story near the end.) Dinner at home with Patrick: I made kamikaze pasta with red sauce.
Slept in. Breakfast at home: yogurt, eggs, hash browns, sausage, homemade cheddar parmesan biscuits with scallions and garlic. Cleaned up my photos index page. Packaged photos from my last day with Chris and Nate for them to download. At Safeway yesterday we noticed they stocked Bar Keeper's Friend, and I also saw it when I was at the flagship Williams-Sonoma store downtown in Union Square. I could have sworn I was unable to find it anywhere a while back, but now it seems it can be found rather easily. I spend the day working on backfilling journal entries. Lunch: turkey breast and cheddar sandwich. Dinner: leftover pasta. Supper at home with Patrick: steamed and herbed chicken in white wine. Watched Sin City on DVD with Patrick. It's good and we both like it. Afterwards I feel like I need a shower.
Woke up too early. Got up, ate some yogurt, had a blueberry bagel with cream cheese, ate a leftover biscuit. Stayed up for a bit, then went back to bed. Patrick makes my favorite breakfast. I update my photos page with a bunch of photo album links. We get coffee at Starbucks and run an errand in West Portal. Home. Returned the DVD we watched last night. Patrick went to a birthday party, and I hung out in the Castro, had a slice of pizza, bought some books. Home. Dinner: leftovers. House chores. Chatted with Nate. Couldn't sleep, stayed up late thinking up google maps mashup ideas and web 2.0 ideas.
Slept in. Updated my home page with code to automatically calculate the number of photos and albums when they are added. Also updated the code so that the journal link no longer says "0 months" when the number of months modulus 12 equals zero. Nap. Quick lunch: cold turkey and cheddar sandwich. Patrick and i ran two errands in the Castro. More errands: Walgreen's, The Gap (returned some pants that didn't fit—I ordered size 30 and received pants tagged as size 30 but when I measured them they were size 33!). The Gap has particularly upset me because they've stopped stocking sizes that fit me in their stores saying, "You can just order your clothes online," but now when I order online, they can't even send me the right size! Part of me wants to not give them any more business, so it really irked me when I requested my refund that they were unable to reverse the charge onto the credit card I used unless I had the card with me in the store. I don't normally carry that card, so my only other option was to accept the refunded amount on a gift card. Grrr! Patrick and I spent a fair amount of time searching for dress shirts for me in the men's department at Nordstrom's, but everything was too big. I found that I could fit into size 18 dress jackets in the boy's department, but they only had regular and husky—not slim. The boy's department had something cool I had never seen before—a dress tie with a loop of fabric that had a zipper hidden behind the tie. You pull on the loop and the zipper opens automatically so you can put the loop through your head. You pull on the zipper end and the loop automatically closes. I would have gotten one, but they were all too small for me. Why don't they make these for men or in larger boys sizes? We stopped at Gap Kids to see if they had any boy's ties I could fit but there was only one and we didn't like the style of it. Ran in to student CHK today at Stonestown Mall. I found an auto body shop to get my car repaired today. Dinner at home with Patrick: slow-braised pig ribs, potatoes. We watched Madonna videos streamed from the web and funny videos from Google Video. Particularly hilarious was the video you can find by searching on "funny cats" in Google Video. The video you can find by searching on "fire fart" is also pretty amazing, although I imagine it's likely to cause young men everywhere to try it themselves and firefighters everywhere will just shake their heads with a heavy sigh. Patrick's Amazon Christmas gifts arrived recently. When Ruth W had replaced my order she neglected to include the gift wrap and gift messages from my original order, so they arrived unwrapped. I couldn't bear any further to wrap the gifts after having had so much grief with Amazon, and I'm too tired of dealing with them to contact them for a refund on the gift wrapping right away—I'll do that later. Amazon—you were so good to me before this month! How could you deceive me so?
Slept in. Breakfast: banana, yogurt, hot water. House chores. Lunch: cold turkey and cheddar sandwich. Called Amazon, got my gift wrapping refund. Archived documents (mostly Christmas cards). Met Patrick, Kerry, and Mom Ryan at Safevay on Market, gave them and their groceries a ride to Mom Ryan's. Chatted briefly with Todd in the parking lot—I wasn't sure it was him at first. He invited me and Patrick to a New Year's Eve party tomorrow and his and Wataru's place on Twin Peaks. Patrick and I ran errands in the Castro. I worked on a sitemap for Corinna's website. Dinner at home with Patrick: homemade beef stew. We watched Kung Fu Hustle on DVD. I think this is my third time seeing the film and it's still a lot of fun to watch.
Patrick and I ran an errand in the Panhandle. We stopped in the Castro at Thai Chef for lunch: wonton and fish ball noodle soup, tea. Ran an errand in Cole Valley. Stopped at the grocery at 5th and Irving for milk. Home. House chores. Used Google Base for the first time today for something that I really needed. It was somewhat useful, but not as compelling or easy to use as some of Paul Raedmacher's tools. Attempted to go to Todd and Wataru's New Year's Eve party but we couldn't find a place to park and we couldn't reach them on the cellphone (no signal). Went to Danny, Drew, and Phil's for Dessert and New Year's Eve party in the Mission.