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April 30, 2006

Waterfalls in Yosemite


We spent a beautiful weekend camping among the waterfalls in Yosemite Valley. With the spring thaw, the waterfalls were thundering and were the highlight of our park experience. We enjoyed viewing them, hiking to the top of them, and getting soaked by the mist blowing from them. In addition to the water and the vistas, we also saw three cute bears playing in a meadow.

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April 18, 2006

100 years later


Like so many other Bay Area residents, I sprang to life before dawn, startled by the unnatural alarm clock that stirred me so early. It was surprisingly reminiscent of events almost exactly 100 years before when residents in my neighborhood were awaken by an earthquake. Their reactions varied widely from complete panic (by most people) to euphoria (by one G. K. Gilbert, a famous geologist). Some instinctively starting searching out friends and family members, spontaneously converging on a particular fountain in downtown San Francisco, where they left messages for one another before dispersing to fight the fire that raged. One hundred years later, we also converged on that same fountain.

When I arrived on Market Street shortly before 4:30 am, the street was already packed with people and I could hardly see the stage set up beside Lotta's fountain. I set myself up in view of one of the three jumbo screens projecting the event down Market and the surrounding streets. The available space around me quickly filled in with people, all having a mixed look of excitement and exhaustion on their faces.

There were speeches by the organizers, mayor Gavin Newsom, congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and even a brief cameo by Willy Brown. Everyone hit on the event theme of "San Francisco Rising" and focused on the resilience of the community in its rebuilding effort. Everyone concurred that this was a seminal event in San Francisco history. The event only took a slightly somber note during a moment of silence at the laying of the wreath in memory of the 3,000 people that died during the earthquake and fire, but people preferred to focus on the heroes rather than the victims. San Francisco's police chief, fire chief, and director of the office of emergency services all spoke. They spoke proudly of their departments' history of service to the city and how bravely they performed during 1906. They also emphasized how much was still being done to ensure preparedness today. Only for a brief moment did each of the speakers touch on the important personal role each family plays in its own preparedness. The final VIP speaker was Linda Gunderson, Chief Geologist at the USGS. She emphasized the scientific response to the earthquake, and how much we have learned since 1906.

The true highlight of the event, however, was when each of the 15 or so survivors had a chance to speak. They ranged in age from 99 (a "result" of the earthquake, she claimed) to 107. Most had little or no memory of the earthquake. Interestingly, most of the survivors present did not lose their homes -- probably because they lived in some of the wealthier neighborhoods in town that were damaged less than, say, China town. Their relative prosperity probably resulted in their survival all these years (just a theory). Few had many direct memories of the event. The oldest lady remembered a cow running frightened with its tail in the air down a San Francisco street. Another remembered vividly how her real cup and saucer were broken when her pretend tea party was disrupted on the kitchen floor. One man was so spry that he still works two days a week at the supermarket, which he claims is the key to his century-plus lifespan.

All in all, it was a memorable way to mark the anniversary of such a monumental event in San Francisco history.

April 10, 2006

Bay Area Spring

We returned to the Bay Area for just about two months, so it was almost as if we were visitors. Since L had more free time than ever before during our marriage, we decided we would make the most of the Bay Area -- seeing and doing all the things that we had wanted to do for the last several years. This made for an action packed spring.

After a brief stay with M's parents, we moved to San Francisco so that we could be closer to the action. That made for short commutes to both Menlo Park and Berkeley, and the gates to Chinatown two blocks down the street!

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Read more to see what we actually accomplished.

Apr 12, Wed
Passover sedar with Brad and Sarah

Apr 14, Fri
Movie in Albany -- Friends with Money

Apr 15, Sat
Asian Art Museum
Meet with Ori for Thai food

Apr 16, Sun
Easter morning at St John's with Dad
Searching for sublets in the Bay Area

Apr 18, Tue
Earthquake memorial at Lotta's fountain
Inspiration point in Presidio
Earthquake conference.
Matt in the newspaper and on the radio (live)

Move into sublet in San Francisco at 846 Bush St.

Apr 22
Saturday at de Young Museum with Judy and Ben
Dinner at Zatar to meet Ruedi

Apr 23
Hike Sunol Regional Park with Sam and Laura

Apr 25, Tue
Sarah and Abby come over for dinner

Apr 29-30
Yosemite weekend!

May 4
Jorge Cham of PhD Comics fame book tour

May 6, Sat
Visit trench in Fremont and then to dinner with Dave at Ethiopian food.

May 12, Fri
Friday night up all night printing thesis.
May 13, Sat
Exploratorium, and tactile dome with a huge crowd of 10, plus dinner in Chinatown. Fireworks at the Bay Bridge.
May 14, Sun
Hike to the top of Mount Tam with Mom and Dad, then Mother's Day dinner at the Yacht Club

May 16, Tues
Celebrate Dissertation filing. Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel with Abby and Sarah. Rainstorms in the middle of the restaurant and the Mt. Tonga dessert.

Housing plans in Boston settled

May 18, Thurs
Spelling Bee performance with Mom and Dad.

May 19, Fri
Visit with parents and GRADUATION.

May 20, Sat
USS Hornet and Egypt Picture show.

May 22, Mon
Race car driving for Brad's bachelor party

May 26, Fri
Rehearsal dinner at Marindian cuisine.

May 27, Sat
Wedding at Lark Creek Inn, Sushi in the city with Brad, drinks at the Top of the Mark.

May 28, Sun
Brunch at Yacht club with Cohn family, Mom and Dad, and Brad and Rebecca.
Walk across Golden Gate Bridge with Abby and Sarah. Dinner in North Beach.

May 29, Mon

May 31, Wed
L's last night in San Francisco. Beach Blanket Babylon.

Jun 2-4
USGS Open House in Menlo Park.

April 5, 2006

Greetings from Egypt!


Imagine being in the middle of the Sahara desert at midday when suddenly the temperature drops 15 degrees and the sky goes black...

We recently had this exact experience as we traveled to view the total solar eclipse in Egypt. While there, we also had a great time touring around the country enjoying the ancient and natural wonders. We saw pyramids, temples, tombs, mosques, desert, oases, mountains, and the flowing river Nile. We hope to share more tales when we return. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy this virtual postcard with some of the highlights of our journey.