Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bad Day for Bunnies

Lately the papers are just full of bad news. So far, I’ve been considering myself lucky. Lehman Brothers collapsed, but I didn’t have any money invested in them. WaMu folded up, but that wasn’t my bank. There was a devastating hurricane in Texas, but, for now at least, California is not falling into the sea.

Finally, though, something has hit home with me: They’re recalling my beloved White Rabbit candy. Apparently White Rabbits in California are testing high for melamine. This shouldn’t be surprising, because they are, after all, a Chinese candy made primarily from milk, but somehow I’m still shocked. And vaguely worried—I eat a lot of those things. Probably not enough to give myself a kidney stone, but they are made from condensed milk.

I never thought I’d have anything in common with infants in China, but the world turns out to be smaller and stranger then I could ever imagine.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Back at It

I know I kind of disappeared for a while there. I moved, and that disrupted my life more than I imagined it would. It has been a long time since I did this, and it’s taking longer than I expected to find a place for everything.

The upside (aside from liking the new home and new neighborhood better, of course) is that I am getting to know my local café well. I have been working there a lot because if I stay home all I can see are boxes cluttering the living room and it’s all I can do to stop myself from unpacking them.

Things are slowly getting back to normal. I’m back to work—I had a miraculous week off from destination descriptions the week we had to pack—and now, back to blogging. So thanks for your concern. Nothing bad happened—I was just buried under a sea of cardboard boxes.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I’m heading east for now, trying to close the gap between Glenview and the Laurel District. That means right now I’m in Dimond and Oakmore. Dimond I know a little bit already because my favorite grocery store is there, but Oakmore is new to me. I feel like it’s a pretty well kept Oakland secret, almost but not quite in the hills, and cut off from Glenview by a long, skinny park. There’s a little commercial strip I don’t know very well yet, including a pizza place and a produce market that looks good. I always like it when my explorations include lunch.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Other Day That Lives in Infamy

I just noticed the date today. Are we ever going to be able to write “September 11” without flashing back to that September 11? Probably not. I have a poster on my wall from an art exhibition that closed September 11, 1985, and even that looks weird now. (“We can’t end it then—don’t you know what’s going to happen on that day 16 years later?”)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Connecting the Dots

I haven’t been walking as much as I’d like to lately. I’ve been working pretty hard—for me, at least—and it hasn’t been easy to make the time. Also, Pipi and I have been experimenting with swimming a few mornings a week, leaving me with less time and energy for strolling.

I am getting back into it, though. I’ve finished the Glenview neighborhood, and now I have to decide what to do next. I was working from Glenview westward, but I got distracted by some neighborhoods to the east. I thought we might want to live in either the Dimond or Laurel districts, so I started getting to know those. Now my walking map is a mess, with isolated marked-off areas and half (at best) finished neighborhoods. This offends my orderly sensibilities, but it also motivates me to get walking so I can fill in the blanks. I’m pretty busy tomorrow, but I do want to get out there.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Walking Update

Today I took what I’m sure is the last walk I can walk to from my current neighborhood. This was sort of a way of saying goodbye to the area, because Pipi and I are planning on moving to a different part of Oakland soon.

Amazingly, on my walk today I discovered a street I’d never been down. I thought I had, but nothing looked familiar. That was a surprise to me; finding out that I live within walking distance of a street I’d never, in nine years, actually bothered to walk down.

Monday, September 08, 2008

An Interesting Proposition

I got an email over the weekend from someone who used to work for the luxury travel site that I’ve been writing descriptions for. He said he liked my work, and wondered if I might be interested in helping him write content for a web site he’s starting. This site isn’t about travel at all. It’s going to be for parents of children with special needs, especially autism.

That’s not exactly my field of expertise, but I do find autism a fascinating subject and have read way more about it than I have any real reason to, so I said yes. I don’t know what the time frame is for this project, but I will let you know when things start appearing on the site. (It may not be for a while, because the site isn’t even live yet.)

Oh, and the heat did break. The sun is sinking into a fog bank as I type. Thanks for asking!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Gosh It’s Hot

How many of you have an espresso maker in your office? And someone to make you an iced mocha when you need it? Well, today, I do.

One thing I didn’t think too much about when I started working at home was climate control. It gets warm sometimes in Oakland, but it’s dry and rarely breaks 100, so I thought it would be okay.

And usually it is. What I didn’t think about, though, is the fact that when most people step outside to get lunch on a day that’s 92 degrees, it’s no big deal. When it’s 92 degrees all afternoon in my home office, though, that gets old after about three hours. Also, my cat Tommy likes to sleep under my desk when it’s really hot, and I’ve been worried all day that I’ll fidget and run over his tail with my desk chair. So I had to get out of the house.

This afternoon I’m at a coffeehouse, where it’s considerably cooler. The music is a little distracting, but they’ve got a good British Invasion mix playing so I don’t mind. I’m conscious, which I might not be right now if I were in my apartment, so I don’t think my productivity is taking too much of a hit.

The heat is supposed to break over the weekend.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Destination Summaries

As you might have guessed, I’m deep in a destination description project. I’ve been writing 10 destination blurbs a week for a luxury travel site based in San Francisco. It’s a good gig. It’s kind of draining to become an instant expert on one location before lunch, and then have to write 300 words about another place in the afternoon, but it’s doable.

And as you can see, I’m picking up lots of cocktail-party trivia, so it’s paying all kinds of dividends.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More on Sir Seewoosagur

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam did have more going for him than his name. (Though I think we can all see it must have given him a pretty big edge.) Ramgoolam was the Mauritian Prime Minister who won independence from Britain. He was a follower of Gandhi, and managed to achieve his country’s freedom completely peacefully. That’s something the United States can’t even claim, so hats off to Sir Seewoosagur on his well-deserved knighthood.

(Ramgoolam, by the way, was preceded as governor-general of Mauritius by Sir Dayendranath Burrenchobay, and succeeded by Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo. They just come up with good names in the Indian Ocean.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Yes, Sir

Another fun fact discovered while writing destination descriptions for the far-flung corners of the earth: Someday I am going to travel to the island nation of Mauritius, just so that I can have the pleasure of flying into Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.

I’d go anyway, because Mauritius sounds beautiful, but that name! Did Mr. Ramgoolam get knighted just because he had such a great name?