Thursday, July 31, 2008

San Francisco: day 4 - the pictures

San Francisco: Day 4

This was the second day where I was the event coordinator. Our day started with breakfast at the hotel as usual. Then we hopped a cable car and headed to Chinatown. I bought a replacement backpack (mine was coming apart quickly) and my mom picked up a giant package of incense and a calendar while we were there. I took us to dim sum and the place I picked was not awesome. What I got was good but nothing was new or exciting about the choices. Mom and Becky had a few very weird desserts and a few other veggie entrees but I know they would have rather went elsewhere. Thanks for humoring me. Anyway the weirdest place we saw was the live game hens place with a lady walking out of there with moving bags in her hands. You can't accuse them of not knowing where there food comes from.

From there we headed to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. They had a Frida Kahlo exhibit that was pretty intense. The audio tour helped us gain some insight into the paintings and her life. The audio tour was very helpful in that exhibit. We went downstairs and had a beverage and some bread (I skipped the bread since my dim sum was a little more filling). Then we went to the main exhibit. Some of which was interesting but as we headed further in the art became more "modern". Of course I still maintain modern art really translates to crap to fool snobby rich people into paying too much for. The selections of complete and utter stupidity included the infamous urinal as art, canvas painted white, a long blue light hanging slanted on a wall, metal shelves too small to be useful, stupid colored boxes within other colored boxes, and paint painted on canvas in for no apparent reason. The audio tour had me bent over in tears as they tried to justify hanging some of this crap up and insisting it was art. The only thing I could say was "REALLY?!?" Anyway a sucker is born everyday... and if you disagree with my assessment of "modern art" feel free to tell me why I am wrong. Anyway the final exhibit was photography and included work from Lee Miller. She was a model, photographer and war journalist. We watched a video on her where they showed most of the pictures they included in the exhibit so the exhibit was pointless. The worst part is the narrator for the photos is her son who seems strangely Oedipal about her. In fact in one disturbing scene during the documentary they show him staring at a naked bust of his mother and his eyes are focused on her chest as he waxes on about how he loves this piece of art and spends time staring at it frequently. Cue the repulsed shivers. Anyway I stopped listening to the audio tour in the pictures after he spoke for a while because not only was he creepy but it was as if someone who did not know anything about art or the artist were asked to comment. The guy was a freaking idiot. Of course she was pretty talented and managed to tell interesting stories with her camera. Her pictures of war time were intense ans she shot some fairly interesting portraits of people interacting in total devastation. Some of the picture included the concentration camp and a few beaten or dead SS officers that had been found by people they had imprisoned, tortured and intended to kill. One picture was of a body laying in a river and it was very evocative. The museum was fascinating, intense, powerful, sometimes funny and occasionally creepy. I would definitely recommend it even if you are not a huge modern art fan.

When we left the museum we headed to Chevy's for dinner and Thirsty Bear Brewery for a couple of beers. We watched the tour there while we imbibed and then headed to the hotel. The next day all we did was eat, pack and head to the airport (my mom and Becky went from the airport to their parked car).

Editor's note: As we spent a good majority of the day in a museum there were not many pictures taken. To make it even worse there were only 6 decent pictures of the ones I did take. Oh well.

San Francisco: Day 3 - the Pictures

San Francisco: Day 3

We woke up and convened at our table for breakfast. This time I slept until 6:45 and I felt rested because I slept the whole night through. Two days of walking all over town and a sleepless night tend to do that. Anyway when I got down there they decided that I would plane the next two days and all I had to do was make sure we fit the Tour de France in. I was excited because I wanted to fit everything in. This was the day I would learn it was impossible to fit everything in....

Anyway my first stop was Mission Dolores. It is the oldest intact building in San Francisco having been built in 1776. It is actually the Mission San Francisco De Asis but is also known as Mission Dolores due to a nearby creek named Arroyo de los Dolores, or "Creek of Sorrows" (info obtained from the Mission's website). So the cemetery has some important early Californians. The reason I was attracted to the site was the movie Vertigo has a scene that was shot in the cemetery and I wanted to see it for myself. The mission is very beautiful and was a fun and interesting stop.

We headed to the Golden Gate park after we left the Mission. Our bus took us down Haight street and I witnessed the legendary 60's hangout at 30 miles an hour. When we got to the park we zagged over to a little pub and watched the Tour de France. It was a little strange because the bartender seemed content to allow us to sit and watch the race without wanting us to buy anything. I tracked him down and we ordered a beer but after he delivered the beers he never came back over. We had originally thought we would go into the park have lunch at the Japanese Tea Garden and then head to the de Young museum and end the day at the Cliff House by the ocean. That was when my mom asked if they served food at the Tea Garden and I consulted my tour book and found out that they didn't. So we decided to go to the Cliff House first and eat there. So we hopped on a bus and headed there.

The Cliff House lies along the ocean and has a beautiful view. It is now just a restaurant but it had quite an interesting history as well. The first Cliff house was built in 1863 and seems to be a place of lodging that were used by some pretty prominent families. In 1881 it was sold to a man named Adolph Sutro who was a self made millionaire. He also became mayor later on. Anyway that building burned down and he spent 50,000 dollars rebuilding it into a french chateau that boasted 8 stories. He also made it accessible to the regular public by having a train come out there. That was not the only thing Sutro did with that area. He owned a fair chunk of land there and had elaborate gardens with statues (a few still remain but most have been removed) and he built an elaborate bath house. It was huge and right along the ocean boasting huge windows facing the ocean and was within walking distance of the Cliff House. Apparently the place had enough restaurants to feed 100 people at a time. Slowly interest in the Baths waned and it ended up burning down and all that is left is the foundation and a few photographs of the heyday. The Cliff House also burned down again and was rebuilt. Eventually it was given to the National Park Service and is maintained by them. Nothing has really been kept up besides the Cliff House, as I am sure rebuilding any of the other things would be cost prohibitive (more historical info at their website). Anyway we ended up having to wait to get a table in the Bistro since we demanded an ocean view. Just as I was getting irritated, and about to leave,(I was hungry and I have less patience when I am hungry) a table became available. The wait was worth it as I dined on a wonderful Caesar salad and a bowl of clam chowder. The view was also worth the wait as we watched seagulls and pelicans fly by.

Due to the time spent traveling to and from the Cliff House and the wait time at the restaurant, we had run out of time for the de Young museum. We headed to the Japanese Tea Garden and enjoyed a stroll through the grounds and a few cups of tea. It was nicely done but not quite on the scale of Portland's Japanese Garden. The painstakingly detailed gardens in Portland made this look rather quaint and cute. I still enjoyed it although I did not find as much peace as I do when I am strolling though Portland's garden. However the tea is a nice touch and was fun to sit and watch the people come by. As we left we walked past the de Young and they had two amazing structures outside. A crazy yellow glass structure and a magnificent detailed metal vase with all sorts of people, cherubs and grape vines around it. I took several pictures of the day. I did a much better job then I had the day before of documenting our travels.

Anyway after we got home I realized I was hungry so I went out. I ended up having crab and French onion soup at a restaurant called Absinthe. I ordered a cocktail there that contained the liquor that also was the name of he place. Anyway it was a nice ending to a good day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

San Francisco: Day 2

The second day

Sorry for the delay in posting more info on the San Francisco trip but I had a huge wave of apathy wash over me. Ok so I left off at the end of Monday....

Tuesday morning we were planning on going to a bar to watch the Tour de France... after some investigation my mom and Becky had discovered that a bar claimed to be open at 6 and that we could watch the tour there. So we set the alarms for 5 and planned to leave by 5:30. I unfortunately woke up at 4 so I was ready to go by the time they woke up. Anyway we hopped a few busses and walked down to the bar. It was closed and did not open until 11 am. So apparently some wires were crossed. We were trying to figure out what to do at 6 AM so we decided to head back to the hotel to have a free breakfast. Breakfast was available at 7 AM so I took a little nap while waiting for 7 to roll around.

We debated our next move and soem fantastic ideas were tossed around. We ended up going on a boat tour of the bay. The tour had a recorded track that had actors voice important historical figures in San Francisco's past. They told us a lot about the place and even told us about the Golden Gate bridge construction. We sailed under the bride right next to one of the supports. I would have to say the view was fantastic. Then we sailed back toward the docks but made a stop near Alcatraz and we got a nice view of the island. I had been to Alcaraz before and that was fun but it was neat to have the voices telling us about life on the rock. One of the voices told us about his failed escape attempt.

Then we came back into the dock and got off. We walked down to a pub next so the ladies could watch the bicycle race. We had some fantastic sweet potato fries and garlic fries and a few beers.

When the race concluded we headed down to the Exploratorium. It is a hands on science museum designed to teach kids things. What actually happens is kids run wild and get very annoying. I made it through a third of the exhibits before tiring of the kids running amuck. I would not mind going when the place was empty or filled with sensible people. There was no attempt to figure out what was going on just a bunch of kids punching buttons. Occasionally a few kids would be accompanied by adults and the adults would guide them through the lesson but mostly it was like Pinocchio's visit to the Island of Lost Boys. Utter insanity. My suggestion to the museum is maybe have a late night with cocktails for the curious adults once a year (or more depending on interest).

After that museum we wondered the wharf area again before heading back to the hotel. We had dinner at the Boudin Restaurant wher my choices were all very disappointing. Their clam chowder was light on the clams and heavy on the potatoes and the egg salad sandwich was bland. Luckily they make a mean sourdough bread. This might have been before the Exploratorium but I am having memory problems.... hehehe

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My busy week...

Well this past week was a whirlwind. It was also a much needed break from all the stresses of school and the last 6 months of that job that laid me off. I am working on pictures of my vacation and hope to have a slide show soon.

Some of you may be wondering what I am referring to. Well I went to San Francisco. My mom and Becky flew me out and we had a marvelous time. They flew me into Oakland and from there I took public transportation to the civic center. They had reserved two rooms at the Inn at the Opera. I am not sure why they call it that. Sure the Opera is nearby but I am positive that is simply a coincidence..... Surely they did not mean the opera when they said that their inn was at the opera. I mean i had a large fat woman sharing my shower and she kept singing and I kept asking "Is it over?" Apparently it was not over and just because the woman singing happens to be rotund has no bearing on whether the proverbial "it" is over. But I digress...

Anyway I flew in Monday morning and met up with them near the BART station. We headed to the hotel so that I could hang up some clothes and get ready to be a tourist. I packed a jacket in my bag and a couple guide books and we were off. We went directly to the Stinking Rose where I ended any dreams of romance with local ladies. We had a fantastic garlic filled pesto to spread on our bread and we did so with much gusto. We ordered the garlic Swiss chard fontina fondue for an appetizer and followed that with the margherita pizzette and the arugula pesto. It was fantastic and very fragrant, as we left we were too. We headed from there down to the wharf.

When we arrived we decided to enjoy the Aquarium of the Bay which is at Pier 39. If you have been to San Francisco you know the pier. It has the carousel, Bubba Gump shrimp company, Hard Rock Cafe and the aquarium. Anyway the Aquarium is not huge but in the tunnels they have a glass tunnel through the water and you can see the fish and sharks swim above you. They also have a petting zoo of sorts, you can touch a ray and a little tiger shark. It was worth the visit for sure. Anyway the temperature dropped by the time we left and my lite jacket was not cutting it. Being a smart individual I had brought two light jackets but being a non-smart person I had left one of them at the hotel. I ended up purchasing a nice $20.00 jacket at pier 39. It is reversible, one side is wind breaking and the other is fuzzy, both sides say San Francisco and the fuzzy side has a stitched cable car on it. It was a great deal in all reality and I ended up sweating in it because it was nice and warm and we were walking up hills.

Our ultimate goal that day was Ghirardelli since Becky and I were craving sweet goodness. Along the way we took a small tour of Boudin's bakery and had a few samples of bread. We also stopped and had a few Irish coffees at the Buena Vista. I ended up getting a shirt from their after sampling the wares. We finally stumbled into Ghirardelli square and dined on fine ice cream sundaes. It was marvelous....

It seems to me that it is a wee late at night and I must continue the tale tomorrow... hopefully with a few pictures from day 1 at least.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pictures of Paradise

The tale of my trip to Paradise lies below the pictures.


I felt it only fair to share with you that I have recently returned from Paradise. Yes my unemployed butt has found Paradise.... oddly enough it is East of Eugene along the McKenzie river. I also was amazed to find that Paradise costs a mere 16 dollars a night. That is pretty affordable for Paradise.... I would think it would cost more. Even stranger still is that it is a campground. The camping thing is not usually what I think of when paradise is tossed around but who am I to question a sign that says "Paradise Campground"? Well I definitely found it to be quite enjoyable while I was there. It is relatively easy to find... just Google "Paradise Campground in Oregon".

So maybe you are asking "What made it so freaking great?" My response would be "Whoa! Whoa! What is with the tone? Why are you being so nasty?" You probably would say "Sorry. I work all week and can't go camping so I am a little tense." To which I would say "OK I have been there I can understand all your pent up aggression." To which you might say "Thanks Mike, you freaking rock! Now tell me about the campground." So then I would probably tell you this:

My roommate and I have been talking about going camping for a while.... He kept mentioning campsites trying to elicit a response. I guess he figured I might have a preference, an idea of what I like or where I want to go but in reality I don't know. I have not went camping since college.... and camping in college was basically drinking way more then anyone should and ending up passed out next to your tent with your pants around your ankles. Or at least one of my friends had that experience... I always ended up in my tent. So to say I am good at camping would not be an accurate statement.... So my only rule is that it has to be cooler (both temperature and coolness factor is implied here) then our house. So he picked a spot he used to go to in his collegiate days. The campsite is East of Eugene along the McKenzie River and a lot of the sites are right on the river. We had a short walk to the river but we were not in a spot where you could turn your tent to face the river (which means during the pee run at night you might end up falling into the river and be swept away which unfortunately did not happen to anyone while we were there).

Anyway it is close to 3 hours of driving to get there so we stopped in Eugene and rode our bikes through campus and along the river to the Valley River Center where we ate lunch at Mucho Gusto. Then we turned around and headed back to the car. When we were back in the car we headed East to the campground. Paradise campground has 60 spots and some are near the river and others are along a small creek and a few are in the middle of these sites without direct water access. The site has flushing toilets and running water as well. We chose lucky 13 for our site, it was not too near anyone and was on the river side so we had our own little spot to watch the raging river from. The first night we had no one around us which was nice because we trampled all over looking for wood and might have bothered other people with our campfire antics.

The next day I collected firewood while my roommate slept in... how he did is any one's guess. I could not get comfortable. When he did awake we went to a nearby town and had breakfast at Takoda's (not a bad spot) and bought ice and some food for that evening at the store next door. We headed back to the campsite and let the food digest before going for a hike. Our intended destination was a hot spring but in reality it was a resort (Belknap Lodge and Hot Springs) that had piped the hot spring to their pools and wanted 7 bucks for non guests to use it. We had expected a fee but the book said it was 2 bucks.... 7 was more then we were willing to do plus it wasn't at all natural it was a pool with 100 degree water. It was also mid 80's and a hot springs after a sweaty hike was not as desirable at that moment as it had been when we started. So we hiked back.... A little disappointed by the "hot springs" but the hike was awesome anyway. We cooked up some tasty smoked sausages and had some fruit and then got the fire going. We had new neighbors on both sides of us but they did not bother us and we apparently did not bother them. We played with the fire for a while and when the wood was all gone and we had coals only we called it a night.

The next morning I managed to sleep in again but I was still the first one up. That ground is hard! I need to get a pad before the next time I camp. Anyway we broke camp and I spent 20 minutes trying to repack my tent.... stupid tent! (I eventually got the tent in the bag) We cleaned up as best we could put on clean clothes and headed to Eugene where we had breakfast at Glennwood. Then headed home to a wonderful shower....

It was a good time and a place I may go back to camp at in the future. Maybe one day I can even take a girl to Paradise. Why does everyone laugh when I say that?? Hehe

I hope to publish a few pictures soon.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hancock: The Rambling Review

Imagine you are impervious to pain, you can fly, you are super strong and you have a drinking problem and an issue with self loathing? What kind of hero would you make? Apparently you would be Hancock. Will Smith's latest July blockbuster... does he not get tired of consistently destroying all comers in the month of July? Anyway you have entered my review of Hancock.

Will Smith is Hancock in case you missed the trailer. Hancock is kind of a big drunken jerk. He helps people and all but he wrecks a lot of things in the process and people hate him. Of course he is drunk so he eggs them on but make sure you avoid calling him an A--Hole, he doesn't like it much. In reality it is kind of like calling Marty McFly a coward, chicken or yellow belly. What is wrong with having a yellow belly besides the possibility of having tuberculosis? I guess tuberculosis would suck....

Anyway he rescues Ray (Jason Bateman) from meeting up with a speeding train. Ray decides he needs to help him out because in realiy this guy saves people he just tends to do a lot of damage while doing so. As luck would have it Ray is a PR expert but he sucks at it. Hancock for some odd reason lets him help. Maybe it's because Ray is right and he needs people to like him or maybe it's because Ray's wife, Mary (the ultra hot Charlize Theron). Anyway he links up with him and takes Ray's advice to turn himself in under the newly issued warrant. Apparently L.A. hates all the messes he makes.... one particular intervention cost 9 million.

So he is turning himself around but Mary can't stand him... Ray thinks he is misunderstood... and their son thinks he is the absolute! Anyway Hancock has 2 allies and somehow the stint in jail allows th criminals free reign and finally they come crawling back and Hancock saves the day. From pariah to hero in a couple weeks... maybe Ray is actually damn good at PR!

Anyway the twist happens right around here.... WHich I won't tell you. I will tell you I did not see it coming and even thinking back on it I can not see all the pieces that lead there. I see one sign but there are so many signs pointing in another direction it hardly seems like a signal at all. In fact I am sure the other componenet will fall into place like aybe they mixed up the ending just to screw with me.

Now I guess a lot of people hated the movie because of this twist... they site things like poor writing or the mystery taking too long to be revealed. I think these people are all retards. I mean window licking, ride the short bus mentally challenged citizens. I like seeing an ending I don't expect... it does not happen very often. This movie does what Superman Return fails to do. It paints a picture of a completely lonely person who happens to be super powerful. A person who doesn't have a friend in the world and has sunk to the bottom of the bottle to hide. Yet he has a conscience and feelings still and they lead him to do things but he is careless. It paints a new side of the haunted superhero. One where his heart is kind of near the right place but he can't see his own worth enough to do anyting right. I guess if you went there simply to see a funny screw up or lots of explosions the idea of a story might disturb you... of course that is because you are a retard.

My take? The movie was good. I liked it and I think if you go just enjoy it and let your preconcieved ideas stay at home. Don't be a retard.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Get Smart: A Rambling Review

I hated the television show.... I tried to like it but ruth be told I hated it. That beng said I have no clear recollection what the dang show was like so I had no way of putting this show in perspective as it applies to the show.

One thing I knew is that it had Anne Hathaway.

As far as I am concerned that is a reason to watch it.... Yeah there were other stars but who really cares? I don't.

Anyway the review.

Max is a complete dork. An office worker that dreams of making the all emcompassing status of AGENT. Anyway somehow he passes the tests, is a good shot and is somehow brilliant and a total dumbass all at the same time. Yet he does not get promoted until he meets Agent 99.... Anne. Oh I love Anne!

Why does it say agent 86?

Uh.... OK. At the same time she shows up the headquarters gets attacked. All over the place agents are eliminated. So he gets paired up with 99 because she just got out of reconstructive surgery and noone knows what she looks like (which, by the way, is like the completely hot Anne Hathaway!!!!).

Of course she thinks he is a tool... mainly because he is. However he does manages to get a few things right... and she starts to like him. When they have to arrest him for being a double agent! AAAHH!

So anyway... the movie continues and the world ends... or does it? I guess you will have to go see it.

I liked this movie it was funny, clever and a feel good type of movie. Steve Carrell is good in it, the Rock is funny, and Anne is simply fantastic in every way! The casting was great... they even got the Hiro guy from Heroes! Did I mention Anne Hathaway is in it and looks stunning?


Tying up loose ends...

I just received my unofficial CBEST scores. I passed all sections and I did the best in math... which was the only section I studied. YAY!

I should be getting a replacement phone today.... which means I will be reachable tomorrow (due to charging time). I still need people's phone numbers because they existed only in my phone so please email me your number, my email is:

OK getting back to last Friday. The last day at the evil insurance company ever! I slept in... that was wonderful. When I woke up I spent an hour and a half doing homework. Then my room mate and I headed into work. It was 11 AM... We turned in our badges and then headed to La Buca. We ended up becoming a party of 15 or so and we had a marvelous lunch.... well the food was OK. Then my friend Jana and I headed to the beer fest. We were there at it's opening at 3 PM.... Somewhere between 6 and 7 she headed home. I stayed there with my friend Jason, his wife and friends. At 9 PM they stopped pouring and I hopped on the MAX and headed home. Completely thirsty and totally sun drained. It was a warm day and possibly too warm to drink for 6 hours straight which is why I only spent the initial 20 bucks. It took me 6 hours! Anyway I was drained and I ended up drinking a vitamin water and a bunch of water when I got home. Then I drank a Sobe water. Then I had more water. The weekend was blazing hot and I ended up hiding out in libraries and Barnes and Noble... sometime within that time period I lost my phone and that soured the weekend. I had taken a few pictures while at the beer fest with my phone but they will never be seen.

Anyway I am working on statistics this week so if any of you know about statistics let me know I could use some guidance... The books aren't doing it!

And then I get my new phone! Yay! It was just delivered... I am charging it now. I should be back up and running tonight!