Saturday, May 5, 2012

Old Ranch Park Disc Golf Course

My team at work had an outing yesterday afternoon where we played Disc Golf at a course in San Ramon.  It is located at 401 Old Ranch Road, directly across the street from a real park with a playground.  The course is challenging, with 10 holes sloping up a hill, which makes for a little hiking when your frisbee goes downhill.  There were beautiful views of the valley at the top.

The afternoon wind in San Ramon Valley can also blow your disc off target!  I had never played disc golf before but it was a lot of fun.

Link: Old Ranch Park Disc Golf Course on Yelp.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Doodle Romp in San Jose

Yesterday we went to a Doodle Romp in San Jose, sponsored by iDog.  It was located in Hellyer Park in San Jose and the attendance was pretty good.  Kiley from Harmony Labradoodles and Kristin from Golden Gate Labradoodles were there with several dogs.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Paris Baguette in Palo Alto

paris baguette date night
We took a small trip to Palo Alto this weekend and walked up and down University Avenue.  We've been to PA a number of times but we haven't walked this street in a long time.  Lots of construction seems to be going on for new stores moving in.  The old Borders location, the Varsity theater, is still unoccupied, but I see plans are in the works to turn it into a mix of offices and retail space.

I couldn't help but notice Paris Baguette on the opposite side of the street as we made our way up the street.  Any time I see a bakery offering baguettes in a semi-French style, I am intrigued.  They had all the sweets you see in the picture above, tarts, small cakes, and other confections.  But they also had salads, croissants (almond, chocolate, etc), cream cheese and fruit pastries, etc.  Fresh espresso drinks, too.  The way they had customers select their items--you get a tray and tongs and pick what you want--reminded us of how certain Asian bakeries (such as Kee Wah) are run.  Apparently PB is owned and operated by a company in Korea and they plan to expand in 7 more locations this year.  We look forward to eating there again.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gothic Rocketship on San Francisco Waterfront

Here is a grainy pic of the Raygun Gothic Rocketship that I took today on a lunch time walk on the San Francisco waterfront.  I've always seen this thing from a distance, and being a Science Fiction fan, naturally I had to check it out.  It is really cool, there are little square windows, portholes, rivets, and a crank wheel outside to open up the hatch.

There is even a display outside, with a schedule for the rocketship (going to Mars daily) on the Milky Way Local express line.

Here is the poster on the display, which is also retro-cool.  Check out the website about this work of art for more fun artwork and facts.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Oahu: LOST Tour leads us into the Kualoa Ranch

We recently returned from a vacation in Hawaii (Oahu), where the big highlight of my trip was a Lost Hummer tour of the Kualoa Ranch on the northeast side of the island.  Kos Tours has exclusive access to the ranch, which has been privately owned since 1850.  The ranch has pristine green beauty and breathtaking views almost everywhere you look.  No wonder Lost uses many locations on this property!  We took the 2 hour Hummer tour, which was very well organized.  The guide was very well versed in Lost lore, and came prepared with Lost screen caps or movie clips to show us what happened at each location. 

One of the best locations was the one used for Hurley's Golf Tournament in season one.  We even got to take a picture with Hurley, as you can see here.  Of course, it isn't Jorge Garcia, it's a Todd McFarlane action figure!

Unfortunately, Lost wasn't filming the final season when we were there.  The guide told us of past sightings, like watching Jughead being assembled, and seeing young Ben walking around in a wounded condition.  I asked him about the Lost cast members.  As I suspected, actors like Terry O'Quinn or Michael Emerson are friendly, but Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly are very cold and distant.  I could tell this from various interviews the cast has given.  The guide said that Evangeline Lilly doesn't really care for the show and tried to leave Lost a few years ago.

I highly recommend the tour.  The 2-hour package was around $80 per person, and my wife, who is not a Lost fan at all, still had fun taking pictures at the gorgeous locales.  We did not get to see the famous Lost beach camp--that location is only available in the ten hour tour.  Check out the Kos Hummer Tours Hawaii website for more information.  Many thanks to Ryan from Lost the Transmission for recommending this company.  Nuff said.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Paperback Dreams and the loss of Cody's Books

Paperback Dreams is a documentary about two Bay Area bookstores, Kepler's Books in Menlo Park and Cody's Books in Berkeley.  It was shown on KQED this week, if you've missed it, keep an eye out for repeat viewings.  It will bring back fond memories of these two stores.

I remember growing up in Auburn, CA, where we had a very small bookstore in town.  My friend Mike Pratt and I would learn of books by various authors, but have no way to purchase them.  The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac?  Not in our town, and not in the local library. The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick?  Forget it.  But when our high school teacher took us on a field trip to Berkeley, we visited stores like Cody's, and a whole new world opened up to us.  We spent most of our available cash on paperbacks and went back to the boondocks to read them.  I think without these stores, we would not have survived high school.

Young people today have no idea what it's like not to have access to information.  I know I sound really old when I say that.  When I grew up, we had no computers, no internet, six TV channels, and no big-box stores.  Looking for books was something of a treasure hunt, akin to finding a special object in a video game.  Comic books were even worse, you had to hunt them down at drugstores, grocery stores, and newsstands.

I used to dream of having everything in one convenient location.  Little did I know that such consolidation would have a negative impact on these industries.  Comic-book stores killed the broader-based newsstand market.  The big chain stores damaged small independent bookstores.  Then Amazon came along and the sheer convenience of them took away more customers.  Even libraries contribute to demise of book sellers.  Our library allows us to reserve books online and sends us notifications on when we can pick them up.  Now I think another nail in the coffin will be digitized books, with people reading content on their iPhones and Kindles. 

Even though I mourn the loss of these stores, I can't bring myself to avoid this new technology.  We're getting ready to move, and having tons of books is a huge hassle.  With a bad back, every time I'm picking up a box of books, it's like playing Russian Roulette.  I used to aspire to having a collection of books and memorabilia like Forest J Ackerman.  But now I have to downsize, having too much stuff is just a liability. 

I'll have fond memories of going to Cody's and hearing Neal Stephenson talk about the Baroque Cycle.  But the next time I open up a real book, I'm going to feel like James T. Kirk opening up an antique.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Goats on the Horizon of Castro Valley

Goats overlooking big houses
One day we woke up and there were goats outside our home!  We live in Castro Valley, in a community called Palomares Hills.  The latest and greatest series of townhouses is on the very top, aptly named the Horizon series.  Our Horizon board was faced with the problem of clearing away the dead grass on the hills surrounding our community.  They could have paid an army of guys with weed whackers for a few days, but instead they made a great decision to go green, and hire an army of goats instead!
Goats going about their work
Living Systems Innovative Land Management is the company that leases the goats for clearing away grass.  About 120-140 goats are "working" for us right now.  They are surrounded by an electric fence to keep them contained in one grazing area at a time.  For the goats, it truly isn't work.  It's like being at one of those all-you-can-eat buffets and chowing down all day until you faint from exhaustion.  I have the opinion the goats are doing a better job than humans; they can get to out of the way places, between trees and bushes.  Some of these areas that need to be cleared are on a steep slope.
Goats drinking water
They also get all the water they can drink, in this tub that you see here. The goats can clear an area of dead grass pretty quickly.  They have been accompanied by a herder who supervises them and moves them from one place to another.  The goats have made several stops through our back hills, lasting 1-3 days.  The herder has an amazing border collie dog (Jake) that can round up the goats to get them moving in unison.  Jake has more skill and discipline than any other dog I've ever seen; he was trained in Scotland especially for this type of work. I am quite sure that Jake is much more disciplined and responsible than I am!
Goats on hill
The goats have been with us for about two weeks now and we love them.  Teatea said to me today that she wished they would stay forever.  It's been fun to see families and kids go out and learn about their function in nature.  You can also see the bucks (male goats) butting heads with their horns.
Goats enjoying bay view
Somehow I suspect the awesome Horizon views of the bay area are lost on these goats.
Goats on hill behind Greenville
One more picture, from our bedroom window.  The goats have moved away and we are missing them already.
Link: Living Systems Innovative Land Management