Thursday, January 10, 2019

Ants in pants

Going to work is a given if you live in expensive bay area of California.

But while it may not seem as exciting an idea as say a trip to Disneyland (also in CA) - debatable I know - or say a walk along the beach or enjoying fresh oysters or crab bisque along the shore, there are days when the unexpected happens and you feel elated.  At least for a few moments.

Such moments came by today.  You see the office I work in had an ant infestation.  We have been infested before - rodents of unknown size to stink of something decaying in a forgotten corner.  But not ants.  Not like this.  Armies marching as if to a silent drumbeat, mostly black and no bigger than a grain of rice all moving along the kick plate of the meeting room we occupied in the morning.

Someone went - oooh ants!  Another colleague just started giggling after noticing some tickling along her pant leg.  Turned out some errant candidates had left the marching line and crawled up a softer surface - that of someone's pants.

This ants in pants scene threw the meeting into a tizzy.  Forgotten were client issues for a few moments as everyone in the room opined with their experience with bugs and critters of varying dimension and species.  Phobias got discussed as did someone's inability to attack creatures on the ceiling who seemed to have an unfair advantage to us earth dwellers.

After a while of this social banter folks quieted down to refocus on the mundane task at hand - dealing with office politics.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Toast to the new year


On another day off from work we visited the California wine region of Napa.  A valley set amidst a series of north south hills on either side of highway 29 we went to a favorite haunt of ours called V.Sattui.  This is a family business which I must say has got a bit snobbish since the last time we visited them a decade ago.

It is more geared toward large events and parties and one off buyers are not in favor it appeared.  This is evident with the generally lackadaisical attitude of the deli staff as well as the bar keep of which they had two attending to a white couple.  When we walked up there was no movement to attend to us or even acknowledge our presence.  Was that bit racist perhaps?  Maybe.  But we are suckers (literally) for two of their beverages.  One is a Madeira and another a fortified Muscat grape juice branded as Angelica.


Prices in the last 10 years have jumped about 30% or more.  A standard sized bottle of the brandy fortified Angelica has jumped to over $50.  We got the wine server to pour us a helping of both the Madeira and Angelica to make sure we remembered the taste from before.  Spot on.

Having acquired our precious purchase we drove around to visit some properties that were either newer and some that we wanted to reminisce on. 

Hall family owned compound also in St. Helena, is relatively new with the art pieces decorating the property including a historic limestone building that is used for large events.




All that walking coupled with appetite whipping dessert wine sampling made us hungry and I got a cafe and Rueben at a local deli.  Both were delicious but pricey,  which was to be expected.




That done we drove to Lake Berryessa to the east which is a dammed reservoir one of many in the region.  Hung out in its vicinity enjoying the scenery. 



Driving around winding roads in a sunny afternoon with the greening hills as a backdrop was enjoyable.  Got back before the weekend evening traffic snarled up the highways.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

A Half Moon Bay kind of day

This crescent shaped cut out off the coast of northern California is not far from home.  Hence the name 'half moon bay'. We just don't get the time to do the drive to it and sit and stare at the ocean from the edge.

But taking time off from work we did.  It turned out to be a beautiful day.  Fifties with clear skies and enough sun to warm you up with winds not wild like we had past few days.  The surf was up which made for an inundation of sounds that soothe along with the warming wind made for some breath taking vistas right off the edge.



Body suited surfers attempted a 'Man v Nature' show as they enjoyed riding the cresting waves depending on their degree of experience.  The ocean inevitably kept returning them back to shore like a case of bad item returned. 



Gulls hovered and we simply sat with the sun hitting our face.





Later walked some of the high cliffs along the coast then stopped by the neighboring Ritz Carlton golf course to take in some more amazing scenery.  Here true to some wise man's quote some of our species attempted to ruin a good walk by hitting a plum sized object with a stick and driving after it.





Stairs to where?  We just sat and stared.


We finished it all with a healthy and scrumptious falafel and grilled meat meal at Pita hub in Redwood City.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Food o Rama

Ending 2018 we decided to do what we love to and can do best.

Explore new foods and have a jolly end to the year.

With that in mind we enjoyed Burmese cuisine courtesy a neighborhood place that opened recently.

Curries do taste somewhat unique although a lot of the spice portfolio is similar to that found in India.

The countries do share a border where India's far eastern states butt up on the western edge of Burma aka Myanmar today.

We sampled chicken curry with Burmese masala and coconut milk, a garlic noodle prep with crispy shrimp and a green string bean dish made with garlic.




The food is delicious although our server by her own claim hailed from Hong Kong and spoke sketchy English.

I do find this annoying since I expect a service organization that operates in America to know its lingua franca.  It is rude to expect the customers to make accommodations to get their message across or a question answered because the servers are illiterate with language skills.

That was followed by a French style pastry shop visit not far from the Burmese food place.  Here we indulged the sweet tooth by consuming some Cronut (coffee flavored melange of a Donut and Croissant) as well as a matcha tea cake.




Yumm..

Sunday, December 30, 2018

On the slopes


In America people love their sport.  Be it a ball game or something more adrenaline inducing like going down a sharp mountain slope at high speed on a surface made of ice.  The latter is available courtesy of nature during the winter months in states that have majestic mountains to allow for said exercise.

The kid had been wanting to try downhill skiing for a while.  The parents having attempted it on slower slopes in hills of Michigan were not at all keen on the endeavor.  But nothing ventured nothing gained or something silly like that made me take her on a father daughter tour of the Sierras near Lake Tahoe yesterday.

She took to it like bee after honey.  What follows is a picture based narrative of the day long activity - of which six hours were spent on the slopes (by child only whilst the father was relegated to sherpa duties and amateur photog).

The bus picked us up early.  5.30 AM to be precise from our neighborhood and after 3 + hours of squirming in coach class seats and pretending to doze in the predawn darkness dropped us at Kirkwood Ski Resort just south of the Lake Tahoe area.  The sun had broken through to reveal a stunning blue sky.

The average mountain peaks here are around 9,500 feet elevation.  The parking lot was at 7,600 feet.


Majestic snow capped peaks dazzled in the morning sun with air temps hovering at 40.  That is eight degrees Fahrenheit above the temp where water becomes ice.


Parking lot where the bus dropped us off

Sierra peaks in the distance




Pictured above is a panorama of the actual ski slopes which range from 7,600 feet above sea level at the base where I am standing to over 9,600 feet on top of the tallest ridge.  There are taller peaks not far from here.

Check in is a process.  I mean well organized industrial strength process.  Fill out a waiver on a computer, get your boots, get your skis and poles and out you go to the practice area.



The kid had a coaching session we signed up having never put on skis in her life.  Worked out well.  That lasted couple hours and later she did it by herself.  Up the chair lifts to the peak and then swooshing her way down to the start of the lift ride.  Up and down and again and again.  Average times round trip were 20 minutes since the crowds were marginal - they had blocked off season pass holders this time of year, which worked out well for us.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Imagine

Imagine all the people living life in peace.  Signature solo from John Lennon released circa 1971 is a haunting and daring and optimistic view of the world we could live in.

But this is not the topic I wanted to write about.  Rather about an imaginary Jew born to an imaginary immortal figure (known to some as God) somewhere in Jerusalem this imaginary calendar day in history.

It is amazing the power of storytelling.  Just imagine that most of the 7 billion inhabitants of this planet actually take a break from work letting their respective capitalist and communist machinery idle to celebrate or at least mark the birth of an imaginary figure.

Imagine.

Well instead of doing the imagining we took advantage of the quiet outside (since many of the denizens in our neighborhood decided to gather with like minded souls and exchange the superfluous gifts that they had purchased with imaginary currency) and went walking and exploring the neighborhoods of San Francisco.

First up was a cable car ride up from the Ferry building shore to Nob Hill. 


We gaped at the decorations and trimmings that are traditionally pulled out by folks that believe in another fairy tale associated with a fat white man in a red suit.


It makes for good visuals and allows one to mingle with cheerful folks that with the help of their beliefs are usually in good spirits.  We loitered around a nice vantage point at top of the Fairmont Hotel where we took in the vistas that were bathed with sunshine after a good scrubbing rain the night before.

Coit Tower in the distance - seen from the west side windows of the Fairmont Bar on 24th


Golden Gate in the distance to the North West


Post this trip upstairs we got back down - walked all the way down - to Union Square and took in the revelry there.  This got us all hungry so we did a custom version of a Tapas crawl - first some bento at Maru Sushi then a stop at a desi Chaat corner to gobble some variety nourishments.


That done we headed to the Conservatory in Golden Gate Park and finished with a walk in the gardens surrounding it.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

What's up?


A common and often rhetorical question posed by Americans to fellow Americans during the course of a day.  But my intent to pose it was to list out a few things that are well - Up.  While I am at it I might list a few that are well - Down.

So here we go up and down the well..

Up

1.  Porn Use - Turns out Americans, Germans and Indians are the most prolific users of pron sites.  Yes good old johnson is UP the most in these three countries courtesy of high speed streaming of porn content. I say the overall effect may be beneficial to society if the cumulative user base can get off by watching things in 2D and not exercise their muscles without permission in 3D.  Better for society if they stay close to their valuables and locked in.

2.  Virgin.  Well not that kind but Virgin Galactic.  With their latest effort, after 14 years of trying to foray into space tourism, the company founded by a Sir from England finally broke the atmospheric barrier at 51.4 miles above the earth when it took a vehicle built on earth to the edge.  Spaceship 2 as it was called flew at close to Mach 3 and took two pilots out into the vacuum of space.  This marks a seminal moment to start defining the blueprints for commercial flights.

3.  VIX.  Not the ointment for cold although it might be this winter.  But the volatility index used to show the swings in capital markets in the US is working its way UP.  What with the Trump debacles, Brexit looming, Saudis misbehaving and Chinese getting an ulcer the world seems to not look in ship shape.

4.  US Interest rates. The Federal Reserve is raising rates.  US has been in lower longer mode for 10 years and finally the cost of borrowed capital has started to rise.

Down

1.  Bitcoin.  The newest made up currency is not doing well.  It is running downhill like diarrhea.  Apparently the believers are having a hard time convincing the others to own and use it when it seems the stores for the coin get hacked every other day.

2.  Markets - There seems to be general malaise in the equities market nowadays - apparently the rising interest rates cause disruptions to stock markets and they move the opposite way.  So people are panicking when they see their 401k nests shrinking.




Ants in pants

Going to work is a given if you live in expensive bay area of California. But while it may not seem as exciting an idea as say a trip to ...