Read any good books lately?

One thing that I like about taking the bus to work (yes I actually enjoy taking the bust to work…most days) is that I get to read more than when I was living in Southern California. Oh sure, I still read books now and then but definitely not as much as I have since we moved back to San Francisco. The other great thing is that I haven’t bought a book in over a year. No I don’t steal them, I borrow them from the San Francisco Public Library. With the digital age here I still like to have a physical book in my hands, though right now I am in the middle of The Ghosts of Varner Creek which is an e-book but so far so good. Perhaps in another blog post I’ll let you know my final thoughts on the book. Now, before that, I just finished a book Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle. My review of which is here. I had heard about this book on the Insulin Pumpers list and thought I would give it a read. Overall I like the story and it was very informative as to the “hows” and “whys” of the discovery of insulin. In college I had done a paper on insulin and diabetes for a health class that I was in. At the time I really only scratched the surface of insulin’s discovery. All I knew what that Drs. Banting and Best in Canada had experimented on dogs and somehow found insulin. Little did I know just how hard their discovery would be and how fortuitous it was for millions of diabetics at the time.

If you get a chance, and assuming you are interested, I highly recommend reading this book just for the wow factor. It is amazing to me to read that back in the early 20th century, diabetes was pretty much a death sentence. There was little or no hope for survival because insulin did not exist yet. I shudder to think of myself wasting away to nothing at the ripe age of 14. After reading this I see just how lucky I am.

Before that book I had just finished reading two books from the same author, Sean Williams. That would be Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. Both of which are based on video games of the same names.

         

I have played both of the games on the Wii and I have to say I was very impressed with the game play and the story line. I do feel the first book/game is stronger than the second but both are highly entertaining. If you like Star Wars then I think you will like these books. I found the inner struggles of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice to be rather mesmerizing. Of course following the life of an apprentice Sith does sound rather cool.

Now I am pretty big Star Wars fan. I’ve always loved the original trilogy. (Han shot first!) I’ve read a few books from the Star Wars Expanded Universe (see here or here for more info) both good and bad. But after Episode III, The Revenge of the Sith, the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis mentioned briefly by Chancellor Palpatine sounded rather intriguing. Thankfully a book by James Luceno came out earlier this year that told you his story and the story of how Palpatine became Darth Sidious. I was always curious about the power Palpatine had as a Sith Lord and boy is he powerful. This is just a great book and a great story. Yes I know it is a work of fiction but the Star Wars geek in me just couldn’t get enough of this book. It also rekindled my desire to read more of the Star Wars Universe books. There are so many out there but thankfully with enough time, I can at least read a few more of them. If you are interested in some of the Sith history, like I am, here’s a link to a free Lost Tribe of the Sith series of e-books. Can’t wait to read them.

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Not just another walk through the woods…

***Just a note: I started this post in January of 2012 and never went back to finish it so I am publishing it in its rough form just so I can start a new post. Now back to your regular reading.***

So another year has come and gone. 2012 is off to a pretty good start. I’ve resolved not to make any resolutions since they are almost impossible to keep anyway. I just know the type of person I am and the type of person I want to be and my goal is to keep getting those two people as close as humanly possible.

So what has been going on in life? Quite a bit actually. Let’s see…I’ve been having a good old time being a tourist again in my hometown. The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Golden Gate Park-I’ve been to them all so far and I don’t get tired of them. I find them as much of a draw as someone who never grew up here. There is something beautiful and inspiring about the bridge in the fog. Granted it is colder than I care to stand sometimes but still makes for a fun day.  Golden Gate Park on the other hand is fun for a different reason. It isn’t too far away from where we live and I can take Roxi there for a walk now and then. I think that she enjoys it and likes the new smells and, most of all, being outdoors.

Dog about town

It’s really fun to see Roxi in her new home. Being a suburbia dog, she always had a yard and lots of trees and such on our walks. Now she’s living in the urban jungle with more concrete than anything else but she still gets her sniffs in now and then.

Dutch Crunch and Litlle Lucca

Another thing that Mabel and I have been doing is exploring our food options again. Back in Valencia, there were mostly chain restaurants. Mom and Pop places were around all

Haam Sui Gok - My Favorite!

over but you had to drive quite a ways to get there which is sometimes rather taxing. Being back in SF there is just food everywhere. You name it you can find it. We’ve been able to try a few new places and some that have been around for years that for whatever reason we never tried. Take Little Lucca for example. This little (and I mean tiny) sandwich place has been around for years and we just went there for the first time in 2011. The sandwiches are huge and the prices are cheap. Not to mention their sandwich

Homemade pasta with Little Lucca Sauce

spread and sauce is amazing. Mabel and I have used it to flavor pasta and mashed potatoes. Both out of this world.

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This and that…

So it has been a long time since I posted. Hard to believe it has been six months since we moved back to the city. Time really flies.

For the most part I’ve settled into my job as has Mabel. Been to a few Giants games and been enjoying just being back in our home town. One thing that I have been doing a lot of is taking the bus and walking.

I have to say that I really do like bring able to walk all over the place again. Forgot how much I  really missed that. Also been taking the bus a lot. Mostly to work but I also take it st lunch sometimes just to get out. Talk about live theater. Today alone I saw people almost get scammed in a game of th ree card monty. Good thing they caught on and a free others did too before they lost money on the deal. Amazing what hours on sometimes.

Taking the bus is always an adventure. You never know what will happen. I’ve seen fights, arguments, and dogs. I think it is great that dogs are allowed inn the bus. MUNI is positive in that respect. Rising the bus also gives me time to read. I must have finished about a dozen or so books since I’ve been taking the bus. The library has become my friend too. Haven’t had to buy a book in a long time.

Even writing this post on my phone while on the bus. Think I’ll end here for now. Must find time to write more. I so miss it.

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This is just a test

image

Simply a test post to see if this works from my phone.

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There’s no place like home…

So as of this past Sunday, I am living back in San Francisco for the first time since I was 13 (almost 24 years ago!). Mabel will be joining me by the end of next week. I am now working for the City & County of San Francisco. It has only been a week and I have to say I really like my job and the people that I work with. Hard to believe that we are back after living in Southern California for almost 11 years but it is nice to be back home.

One thing Mabel and I did before we moved was to start visiting many of the restaurants that we liked and wouldn’t be able to go to in a long time. One of those is Philippe, the philippe_logoOriginal French Dip. Located in Los Angeles. I have to say this is one of the best sandwiches that you will ever have. My personal favorite is the lamb sandwich, IMAG0007double-dip, with jack cheese. Couple that with some coleslaw, a pickled egg, and tapioca pudding for dessert and I am in heaven. They also have some great pies, macaroni salad, lemonade, soups, and coffee is still only $0.09 per cup. Yup that is right, per cup and you can order as many as you want. I remember one time I saw an older gentleman leaving the counter with something like 10 cups of coffee on one tray. All that for $0.90! Now look at this, doesn’t it just look beyond good?

Now that I’m living back in the City (yes if you live in San Francisco or are originally from here San Francisco is known as “the City” and never, EVER call it Frisco!) I’ve been able to go around to a few places I used to like visit. Been able to have a good burrito at Gordo (see my post here) and had dinner quite a few nights with my in-laws. They used to own a restaurant in San Francisco for years and have since retired, but their cooking goes on and on. You’ll never go hungry when they cook for you. I have never had a bad meal from them. They are an awesome couple and have always treated me like a member of the family.

And while I am on the subject of family, let me just say it is nice to back amongst family. Mabel is still down in Valencia for another week so it has been hard being away from her and Roxi but being surrounding by family has been great. My sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law are great people. It is refreshing to be around people who really who do anything for you and I would do anything for them. I haven’t had that feeling of family in a long time; ever actually. Hanging out with them and being part of their family I can see why they are so close and why Mabel is the great person she is. I count myself very lucky to be part of this family and know that I can count on them for anything and likewise they can count on me for anything. I can’t wait for Mabel to come back up (at the end of the week for good).

GAlogo

One thing I have done since being back is going to one of my favorite book stores, namely Green Apple Books on Clement St. For those of you who have never had the joy of going there, the only way to describe this place is as a be all and end all bookstore, both new and used. You need a book, most likely they got it. I have found quite a few gems there. And it is not just books but CDs and DVDs too. I could sit in their for hours and find a book about any subject. I spent the other night looking through the San Francisco history section, followed by Pop Fiction, and finished off in US History with a dab of computer/IT books thrown in. If you are ever in the City I highly recommend that you stop by and have a look. Oh, and they buy books too!

One other place I went to the other night was the Golden Gate Bridge. I was out doing some grocery shopping and it was getting a little foggy. I didn’t want to go home yet so I figured I’ll head up to the bridge and have a look. It was nice and cold but not freezing. GGBThen I heard the sound that I truly have missed: the sound of a fog horn. I remember growing up and hearing that sound and wondering what it meant. When I finally learned it did become a soothing sound. I also think it is great that the Giants use it when they hit a home run. A great way to celebrate. I stayed out a the bridge for a few minutes to breathe in the air, listen to the horn and then I went home. It was then that I could really feel and tell that I was back home in San Francisco.
A truly beautiful sound.

I truly am happy to be home.

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It’s amazing what a tune can do…

A brief respite from work today, so thought I would post. Sort of off-topic today, though really, when am I ever fully on topic? Anyways, one thing has been going through my head lately is music. I’ve always kinda known that I seem to always have a song going through my head. Strange at that sounds it is true. Sometimes it is some random song, while other times it is a song that is pertinent to whatever situation I’m in. Like today I have to work and of course I have Working for the Weekend by Loverboy going through my head. Good ’80s song by the way.

While driving in the car I usually have some good music playing to get me through a drive by myself or to keep the mind busy. One of my favorite things to listen to is a show called Once On This Island. Based on Rosa Guy’s book My Love, My Love, the show is a one act musical that tells a story similar to The Little Mermaid but set in the French Antilles. I remember when I first saw this show I loved that the staging was simple and that the small cast played multiple parts. The music has a good beat to it and the message of the show is summed up in one of the last lines :

For all the ones we leave
And we believe
Our lives become
The stories that we weave

I was just thinking how true this is since, really, when talking to people you really are just relating stories (most of the time) about your life or experiences. Our stories do become our life.

Another show that I like to listen to is Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. With its catchy lyrics and funny story lines it is just a good escape while driving.  Also, the dvd is a nice way to spend a few hours. The visuals are great and 1991 DVD of the original broadway cast show it. The music has a great pace to it and it’s fun to sing along to. Yes, I freely admit it, I sing alone in the car and I have been caught more than once by fellow motorists but I don’t care…most of the time. If you ever have a chance I highly recommend you give it a listen.

Other music that I like to listen to, a lot, is full attraction audio from Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I would say at any given time I will either have The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Country Bear Jamboree, or The Country Bear Vacation Hoedown. Again, good music and audio that I can sing/speak along with and it gets me where I need to do.  And or course the soundtrack to Fantasmic! always makes me feel good, especially the last few minutes of the show when Sorcerer Mickey comes out. Thankfully Disney has been good about releasing many of the soundtracks to their attractions out on disc.

So if you ever see my driving by and my mouth is moving with no one else in the car, more than likely I am singing along to some tune that is blasting from the stereo (or inside my head!). Until next time, when I will post something on topic…maybe.

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I can see clearly now…

Ok, it has been wayyyyyyy too long since my last post. My bad and 50 lashes!

So what is new? A lot and then not so much. So, again, here’s what has been going on in no particular order.

So today was my annual dilated eye exam (remember I’m a Type 1 diabetic). Yes, every year I get my eyes fully dilated so my ophthalmologist can see the back of my eyeball and see if there are any changes due to the diabetes. So after a few drops and a few minutes, my eye looks like this:Pretty, isn’t it? Happy to say that no changes to report with my eyes. Still got 20/20 vision and clean bill of eye health. Whew! I have to say that is one thing I always worry about. Losing vision that is. As long as I don’t have diabetic retinopathy, the happier I am. I also worry about my kidneys but that is another post for another time. Oh and in case you are wondering, having your eyes that big on a nice sunny day is painful. I have to wear my sunglasses for about 4 hours or, even indoors, just to function. Everything

Can you see me now?

is just so bright I have to squint all the time. Forget about reading. I would need much longer arms to focus. The nice thing is the drops eventually do wear off and I can stop looking like I am on something. I added an oh so lovely pic of myself here. It was a chore just to get this pic. The sun was shining bright and i could barely see where the camera was.

Let’s see what else has gone on? Mabel and I discovered (along with sil & bil) a great burger place at the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco. The place is called Gott’s Roadside and I have to say it has one of the best burgers I have tasted in years. Been there twice so far and definitely have to go back. You can get the menu here. I highly recommend the Blue Cheese Burger or the Western Bacon Blue Ring. Oh, and don’t forget Garlic Fries and a Shake! Oh boy is that a good burger. Not only good food by they are dog friendly so Roxi was able

Gott's, what's not to love?

to sit with us the first time we went there. We are always on the lookout for places with good food and those who will also welcome our pup.

 

Another place we’ve recently discovered is Chow Food Bar in Danville. There are a few of them out there but so far we have only been to the one in Danville. More great food and dog friendly to boot! If you are interested, their menu is here. Both Mabel and I have really enjoyed their Local Lamb Burger with feta, cucumber, & mint. Awesome, just awesome! That combined with their crab bisque leaves you with a very happy tummy. The first time we went there I had pancakes with real Maple syrup and I have to say they were great too. Much better than IHOP or any other joint we’ve been to that serves pancakes. Even the Millbrae Pancake House, though we haven’t been there in a really long time. Chow is a very close second to Stacks in my opinion.

Another thing Mabel and I did this year is that we went back to Alaska. We took the same cruise that we took in 2008, NCL‘s Glacier Bay cruise on the Norwegian Pearl. We had a great time and the views were just breathtaking. This time we got to see quite a few whales, porpoises, and otters. We even got to see an eagle, sure he was on land but we still got to see an eagle! I don’t think I ever saw one this up close and personal before. The other thing with this cruise was that we went off on our own for excursions and it was a great idea. We went to Totem Bight State Park. The park was small but the totems were amazing. A great achievement of craftsmanship. But the best thing of all was spending time with Mabel and admiring the beauty of Glacier Bay National Park. The sun was shining the day we went into the park and the glaciers were just as big and awe-inspiring as I remember them. There are really no words to describe how it feels to see those huge rivers of ice up close and personal. It is so quiet and peaceful then you hear the crack of the ice and realize that nature is a heck of a lot more powerful than you can imagine. It all goes one without any inkling of thousands of people on a boat. Nature at its best. Sunrises and sunsets from our balcony were amazing to witness and the clear nights let us view the big dipper and thousands of stars. Beauty plain and simple.

For now I will end here. I have to  update more often. Life is non-stop but doing this gives me pause and reflection. Speaking of that, I leave you with a great site I get to see right now, a sleeping dog. All she asks for is a warm place to lay and some cookies. Mabel and I happily oblige.

Zzzzzzzz.......

 

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My, my, my, where did the time go?

Ok, so it has been a while since I have posted anything. Hopefully that won’t be the case anymore. It’s been a few months and life goes on. Since it has been a while, here are some things that have happened in no particular order.

exteriorThe Cold Springs Tavern is a great little restaurant in the hills above Santa Barbara. Mabel and I went there for a meal and were really happy with it. This rustic old place has been there forever and you can tell. It is well worth the drive if you want to eat good food and experience a little bit of history in a peaceful surrounding. I remember that it was a cold day when we went up there but it was perfect because the drive was nice and beautiful. I didn’t bring our big camera that day and I wish I had. The surrounding area was nice and green with a stream running through that you could hear just outside the restaurant. There werestream people going down to it just to have a look around and there were various paths and trails that led out from it. Maybe one day we’ll go back and have an adventure.

Inside we found good food at a decent price and some insideinteresting items on the wall. We sat by the wall that had pictures of all of the dogs that the owners have had over the years. You could tell these were not only loved animals but members of the family as well. I had the country fried steak and eggs and I know that I enjoyed it. It was just what I wanted at the time.

Easter came and went. We had a nice dinner with Cheuk and Amy. Mabel made a salt

Salty Goodness

 crusted prime rib. Now I may be biased (so what) but I have to say…BEST DINNER E-V-E-R! It just tasted so good and Mabel just did a great job with it. I know she will make it again some days and I can’t wait. The recipe/directions were fairly straight forward. I have to say it was wierd seeing an entire box of kosher salt emptied into a bowl and then caked onto a prime rib but the result was pure food heaven. I mean just look at this:

The end result. Heaven soon to be on a plate.

Next there was our first baseball game of the season. Now being from San Francisco, Mabel and I are originally Giants fans. Now living in LA, it is nearly impossible to follow them. We can’t be Dodgers fans but we do like to follow the Angels. Yes, they beat the Giants in 2002 but we overlook that since we love baseball and the Angels are a good American League team. Mabel and I went to the game on April 11. They happened to be playing the Oakland A’s. It was a good game and tickets were a good price. It’s too bad the Angel’s lost but it was nice to get out and see a good game, have some good food, and just enjoy the ballpark. That’s one thing we like to do is walk around the stadium just to see all the fun stuff that is around. One day we hope to hit all of the baseball fields and I am sure we will.

The Big A in Anaheim

 And lastly, we made a quick jaunt up to the city to see some family. It was our normal quick trip, up to San Francisco and back in less than 48 hours.

Someone is ready for a trip.

 Crazy I know but fun just the same. It was good just to hang with family and catch up. Just plain old having a good time.  The food was great and it was nice just to relax and enjoy each other’s company.There was food, fun, and Roxi. Yep, Roxi came up with us this time. It is good that she doesn’t mind the travel. She does very well in the car and it is so funny that when we get off the freeway she starts getting antsy because she knows we are almost at our destination. She is a kick. What’s more, most people are happier to see her first than us! That’s just because she is so cute and a very good dog, if I do say so myself. And I did, so there. A short vid if you are interested.

That’s about it for now. I’ll have a diabetes update soon. So much to write about that. Thanks for reading, and to make you smile, a picture of Roxi:

A little blurry but she's still cute!

Posted in Adventures, Dogs, Food, Travel | 1 Comment

Did You Have the Bread?

Ok, so it has been a while since I’ve posted. Life has been…well, life I guess. Christmas has come and gone as has 2009. Not a great year, not a bad year, but a year none the less. After all, it gave is 09-09-09, my favorite day. So what’s been going on lately? 

First there has been food! Mabel and I spent a week up in the San Francisco area over Christmas (and then another week up in SF). We got ate at a few places that we like, a few places that we’ve never tried before, and some places that we always go to. That’s the one thing about San Francisco, you can get anything you want to eat in almost any neighborhood. One of our favorites is Gordo Taqueria, or “Gordo’s” as we lovingly refer to it. Specifically the one on 23rd Avenue and Clement. Not much seating but they make one hell of a burrito. My personal favorite (and the only one I get now) is a “super carnitas, extra cheese, with black beans”. 

 

That alone is a meal in itself, and lasts me most of the day. It sounds good right now, especially on a cold day. One of the best items out in the Richmond District. 

Then there was a place we saw on Man vs. Food San Francisco that had great looking sandwiches. We had never been there but knew we had to give it a try. Ike’s Place is a very small store that just looks like a literal hole in the wall, but there sheer number of sandwiches they offer and variety is just crazy. Oh, did I mention the sandwiches were really, really good? Personally, I got #79, Shawn Michaels, which is Thinly Sliced Rib-Eye Steak, Mozzarella Sticks, Bacon. I had never thought mozzarella sticks on a sandwich would be a good idea. Bacon, of course, but mozzarella sticks? Well, let me tell you, that was a damn good sandwich! My only complaint was that it was a tad small (for my appetite) but all in all I give it a 5/5 stars. 

 

If you ever go, the wait can be crazy, even on a weekday, so do what we did and order ahead. They will tell you what time your sandwich(es) will be ready so you can come at the right time. Parking is nuts out there (we drove) but if you are Muni inclined, they are close to Market and 16th Street and the Castro Street Muni station. Highly recommend it. 

One other place we went to for the first time, after hearing good reviews about it, was the Hard Knox Cafe on Clement Street. It was a chance to have soul food in the Richmond District. I had the Chicken Fried Steak with a side of mashed potatoes. Food was good and the place was a decent size. If you go, there is no real waiting area but it is worth a wait if there is one. What also made it great was being able to catch up with a friend that we hadn’t seen in 9 years or so. Good food and good friends always make for a great time. 

 

 

And lastly, one of the places we like to eat, yes it is a chain but it is still the best bread out there, is Boudin Bakery Cafe. We went to the one in Walnut Creek this time but we’ve been to a few throughout San Francisco, and even the ones down here in Disney’s California Adventure and Costa Mesa. Nothing beats having either chili or clam chowder in a sourdough bread  bowl on a cold day (and was it ever cold in the Bay Area!). The chili/soup is always good and you get to eat the bowl! I’ve always liked Boudin’s bread. So much so, that I often will just munch on the bread. Yes, just the bread. Nothing on it. To me it just has a nice simple flavor that you just can’t get anywhere else. I’ve always liked bread, plain and simple. One of the most basic foods is also one of my most favorites. As long as the bread has a good flavor and feels and smells nice I’ll try it. The really good ones gotta have a good crust and a nice taste, and Boudin fits that nicely. On a side not, if you ever want to try Sourdough Pancakes (they are my favorite) you have to go to The Original Pancake HouseMabel and I have been to the ones in Anaheim, San Diego, and Las Vegas. I’ve always had a good food experience there. Their Sourdough pancakes are yummy, with a nice sour flavor, but their buckwheat pancake come in a close second. Throw in a side of sausage or bacon (or both!) and coffee and you have yourself one great meal. 

Ok, enough about food. What else has gone on in life? Hmmmmm….. 

Well, had my beginning of the year doctor appointments. First was my annual dilated eye exam. There is nothing like walking around with everything being very bright, and having your eyes look like you are really angry. Of course, I don’t mind, and after all it is all done to make sure that Diabetic Retinopathy is not creeping up on me. Thankfully, like the past few years, my ophthalmologist found no issues with my eyes and he told me all is well. Whew! So glad that nothing is wrong. Normally that is the end of the exam, but this year he decided to take a pic of my corneas! Just to keep on file so they can compare to future visits. If you’ve never had it done, it is really easy, just a really bright flash of light. Now this isn’t my cornea, but it did look something like this: 

 

This was of course after I had visited my endo and discovered my Hemoglobin A1c had risen to 7.3%. Not that going up 0.1% is anything to be worried about. My endo wasn’t so that is good enough for me. Plus with how crazy the last 3 months of 2009 were I can still be happy with a 7.3%. 

So 2010 is just beginning, and as always, who knows what the future holds. Mabel, Roxi, and I are going into 2010 head on and will walk side by side by pup. Here’s to a great 2010. And when you eat always ask yourself, “Did You Have the Bread?” 

Say what now?

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I Hope This Works

Found this little program that I just had to give a try. If all goes well this post will show up and I will have a much easier way to blog now. It has been tough to use the wordpress site inside of a browser. Here goes.

Pooh_Staring

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