Day 106 and 107: Cake, Crucible and Crash-Nap

Tomorrow starts a long weekend. That means if I’m going to get birthday shopping done for my muse, I need to do it today. It’s much easier to keep secrets from her when she’s at work.

First it’s another battle of wills at Delessio.

This woman is making four incredible cakes at once. She’s a bakery ninja.

I’ve never seen this sign before, but it’s not new. I’ll have to stop in and see what sort of flying thing they make.

Some of today is spent retracing steps to places I’ve enjoyed during my time of.

See the top window? That’s one of my favorite downtown offices.

Being a port city, San Francisco has a lot of excellent places to find gifts for a muse.

If you know she’s reading your blog, though, it’s best to show pictures of places you went into and places you didn’t, to keep her guessing. Otherwise she figures things out. Sorry, love.

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These are great stores, and they’re a big part of this city’s history. Gump’s opened in San Francisco in 1861, and Shreve opened in 1894.

She knows about one of her presents already.
She’ll be taking some classes here:

The Crucible

If you haven’t been to The Crucible in Oakland, I’d recommend looking into it. They teach welding, electronics, blasksmithing, stone carving, fire dancing, and all sorts of other cool stuff. The muse is going to take their glass kiln-casting classes, because there’s something specific she wants to make out of gears and glass.

See, if you know her well, she’s easy to shop for. Maybe the Crucible sells those outfits too.

What brings me back to this dome isn’t shopping, but hopefully some bad sci-fi.


As it turns out, the new Vin Diesel movie is actually not as horrible as the reviewers think it is. I wouldn’t make a very good critic. I’d much rather enjoy a sci-fi movie than hate it, and usually that’s enough.

The last time I was here, I was above the dome, not below it. Either way, the view is nice.


Back at home, I have a mini-project to do. The muse’s new mobile phone charges from USB ports, but only specific ones. It’s very picky, which is a pain.

…so I’m building a “no whining” cable for the phone. Using this, it’ll charge off of anything.

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It works perfectly, and the phone’s a lot less fussy now. No matter what you plug it into, it charges right up. It’s not 100% safe, but that’s not required of anything, ever.

The 2-year-old cat has decided resistors are really (really) fun. (sigh)

…and the 18-year-old cat fell asleep on his face without actually lying down.


Tonight we’re heading to Epic Roasthouse. We’ve been there for brunch, but never for dinner. Good food, friendly staff, and a fantastic table outside.

…and very nearly another seltzer fight.

Random assertion: An all-female blacksmithing class is just about the sexiest thing you’ll ever see, but don’t get in the way.

Steganographic data: 1822/6.4

Days remaining in Secret Plan 158: 3

Published in: on September 5, 2008 at 2:15 pm  Comments (3)  
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Day 71: Grass Valley

About halfway between Sacramento and Reno, there’s a place called Grass Valley. When life’s too crazy, and you’re ready to be surrounded by mountains and trees and music and friendly dogs and good food, this is the place you’re looking for.

Look out. The dogs are friendly, but they’re wet.

I’m lucky to have family in Grass Valley, and today is my Aunt Betty Rae’s birthday party. They told us not to bring anything, and we’re ignoring them. There are just too many plums.


My muse sends me to get 25 of them so she can make one of her incredible tarts.
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There’s a small one custom made for me, to keep my paws off the big one. It’s kind like a decoy.


“Hey stop opening the oven!”

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The big tart is intact. The decoy is not. She’s a smart one.

It’s a 2.5 hour drive to Grass Valley, but it’s easy. Mom and Dad can’t make it because they’re in the Alaskan wilderness, and that’s a much longer drive from here.

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There’s music, food, dogs, a dance floor, and a red lawn tractor.

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Run for your life, the toddler’s driving.

There are three generations here. My cousins and I used to be “the kids” but there’s a totally new group of those now, so we’re “the middles.”

It’s a good place to be; we can still go jump off the nearby cliffs into the river, but now we can do it without supervision.

I’m going to stay in the “middles” group for as long as I can.

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As usual, everyone’s got excellent stories. That’s the best part, always.

While the party guests are distracted, there’s a heist. The security camera caught it, but not well enough to make a positive ID.

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Fortunately, the jelly bean was insured for more than they bought it for.

The loudest part of the evening comes when Betty Rae’s son shows up unexpectedly.

It’s easy to tell that this is her favorite birthday present.

By the time we head home we’re tired, full and smiling.


Random assertion: Stories can be used as currency anywhere in the world. Collecting good ones is a way to save for a happy retirement.

Steganographic data: 1834/0.8

Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Day 1

I’m still technically “on call” for the next two weeks, and I will be called, but I’m starting the 3-month Secret Plan now, and bumping it to 3.5 months. That’s fair.

Morning: I spent the morning with my muse, and then put her on a plane to Hong Kong. I love HK. It’s like a spaceport; people from all over the world have found a sort of hyperproductive coexistence. There’s just something cool about major port cities (says the guy in San Francisco).

Afternoon: Captain McGee’s Birthday. Chris is one of those guys where the strength-of-character is built in so deep, you’d trust him with your life instantly. I’ve known him for many years, and worked within 20 feet of him for the past few. All this time, and I just found out he lives walking distance from my place. His neighborhood reminds me of Van Nuys, but in SF.


These guys all helped me stay sane when the project was in crunch.


Standing on Chris’ deck, looking toward my place, the fog looks unreal.

Night: The Castro Theatre is just a few blocks from my place, and it is one of the finest places on Earth to watch a movie. They’ve even got an organist who plays before the feature.

Tonight they’ve got a double feature: Moonraker and The Black Hole. I got home too late for the Bond flick, but Ran down like a 10-year-old and said “one please” and watched Vincent and Maximilian show that robots can start a pointless bar brawl just like the rest of us. Science fiction, without a lick of science anywhere. Check out the films they’ve got coming up. Seriously, this place rules.

Random assertion: Bad sci-fi is better than no sci-fi, always.
Lesson learned: If I’m really going to blog during Secret Plan 158, I need to get a lot faster at it.

Steganographic data: 1920/4.0

Published in: on May 18, 2008 at 6:15 pm  Comments (2)  
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