Archive for December, 2005

Two hundred dollar gumballs

Meine schwester got home this afternoon to find that the gumball keychain thingy that she had “won” had magically fallen off her desk and been torn open. Multicolored slobber on surrounding pieces of paper gave way to the idea that maybe her “princess” or my dog had eaten a bunch of gumballs. This resulted in a trip to the vets for both dogs, since it was uncertain as to which had consumed the missing gumballs. The vet then injected both with something that made them vomit repeatedly. The vet then attempted to identify the gumballs and was unsuccessful. So two hundred dollars later, with dogs that acted drunk from the injections, meine schwester brought the pups back home not knowing what happened to the gumballs.

Pets seem like such a good idea when they are sleeping or lounging around…


Another day of no significance

You walk out the door of your house this morning to see a white van driving by very slowly. The hair on the back of your neck stands up as you wonder if you locked the back door and remember that when you woke up two hours ago, you found it unlocked. Looking back at the van, you realize it is a caravan. There is a white panel van parked on the side of the road in the same place you found it yesterday. The new neighbors down the street must work for DirectTV, or they’ve been having a lot of work done lately.

You get in your car and back out into the street. You wonder if your trick to avoid scraping the bottom of your car by backing out crooked is doing any damage to it. As you drive by the panel van, you see a white haired guy watching you as he talks on his cell phone. You wonder what he is doing, and you notice the caravan parked on the road next to the house that used to have the for sale sign in front. You drive slowly down the road, watching the guy in the rear view mirror for no other reason than that is what you would do in the movies. You consider driving around the block, but think better of it.

As you turn the corner, you pass a small black lab mix pulling a middle-aged man wearing a Santa hat. Normally, you’d think the hat is odd, but it is the sixth of December and you already avoided one paranoid delusion. As you drive further, you see a grandfather type riding his bicycle against traffic. You admire the wire basket hanging off the handlebars and wonder why your mountain bike with the hybrid tires didn’t come with one.

You get to the light just as the left arrow turns green. You pull into your normal lane second from the right. The car in front of you is doing just under the speed limit. You have two lanes to your left in which you could pass, however, you choose to relax the gas pedal and just hang out a safe distance behind. You feel mellow this morning, unlike last night, when you got on the highway and floored the gas pedal. You thought you might be able to take off by the end of the runway.

Driving that short distance behind the pace car made you miss the important light. All of the subsequent lights you hit are red for the rest of your trip. You could be annoyed, but you know that you are the one who chose your own destiny. At one light you pull up beside a car that has left a full car length in front of themselves and you wonder when they were in the accident. Were they injured? Did it happen in this car or was it totalled? Was there ice or snow involved? There isn’t even an ounce of precipitation here in any form. What exactly happened to make them leave so much room in front of them.

Turning into work, you are happy that you don’t have to honk at any coworkers for crossing into your lane and cutting you off. It reminds you that yesterday at lunch, you got a thank you nod from one of the VPs for not hitting him as he crossed the street. You nodded back to say you are welcome. This is probably the only interaction you will ever have with this particular person and find that peculiar in itself. The all meaning nod, where you slightly lift your chin toward the sky in a similar manner to when your pony would ask for a carrot, is your favorite human interaction because it is so small, yet can mean so much.

You swerve around the people turning into the underground garage and narrowly avoid the BMW in front of you that decided to do the same thing but two seconds after you made your decision. You follow the BMW to the parking lot wondering if you are making them nervous. You turn into the first row of parking, but you are late enough that there are no empty spots. You think about going to bed earlier tonight to make up for it, but you know you woke up at 7 am, you just didn’t leave the house until nearly 9 and you already are made fun of for going to sleep before 11 every night. You turn into the second row, slide gently into a spot, pop the gear into second, take out the key, release the clutch… and breathe.

Lick Observatory

On Saturday, I decided to drive up to the Lick Observatory to see what I could see. On the outskirts of town, I found Sikh Gurdwara which just seemed out of place and I certainly wasn’t expecting it. Fascinated by it, I took a few pictures. I also found that the parking lot had a great view of San Jose.

I continued up the road. If you haven’t been to the observatory, it is approximately 20 miles of narrow, winding roads with gigantic dropoffs that may or may not have guard rails. I found it was easier to maneuver in the dark because I could see headlights coming at me.

There was plenty to swerve around on the road. A herd of five deer came directly at me. I slammed on the breaks and brought out the camera as they ran off. My breaks also got tested by a pack of wild boar. The only other wildlife I had to swerve for was a Porche driving a little too fast coming around a corner. Luckily, I was on the inside and going up the hill. They were the ones who had to watch that they didn’t fall off the cliff.

The observatory was quite impressive. Run by the University of California, there are a number of telescopes. The one I had the tour of is the oldest of them all and is completely hand operated. The woodwork in the room is amazing. Supposedly, one of the newer telescopes is completely computer operated and can be used remotely by people all over the world.

I neglected to mention that when I started my trip, it was about 55˚F and I’d had the top down on Myrtle so that I could get my bike in for an earlier adventure. It was sunny, so I decided to ride as long as I could in the fresh air. The highway portion was a little difficult, but the windy roads were fine. When the fastest you can drive is about 25 mph, the air temp doesn’t really matter. But the higher I climbed, the colder it got. At 38˚F, the temperature started flashing to say, “Moron! Put the top up!” Needless to say, I spent as much time as I possibly could inside the building so that I could unthaw. Next time, I’ll bring a hat, mittens, and a winter jacket.

Once I did warm up enough to freeze again, I ventured outside. The sunset over the valley was breathtaking. Completely awe inspiring. The view. The colors. The experience was incredible.

I grabbed the tripod and set up just in time to be told by a police officer that I needed to leave. I hopped in the car and drove down the road a ways. Found a nice pullout and set up again. The officer found me again. He was very kind about telling me I had to leave. So I asked how far I had to go to be “off the property.” About five miles. I was definitely going to lose the sunset by then. I hopped in the car and headed out, defeated.

About a mile down the road, I’d caught up to the officer. He stopped in the road, threw his lights on and got out of his car. I rolled down the window. I have to admit, that I was petrified. I couldn’t even imagine what he was going to tell me. What had I done wrong?

He apologized for running me off, but he’d had to chase the Jeep in front of him off from two spots already. He told me that there was a better spot for photos up ahead and to follow him. As long as I was with an employee, then it was fine. Said as long as no one was there, then he’d let me stay there for a few minutes while he checked out the next few spots for hoodlums. I was a little freaked out by the whole thing and was hoping he wasn’t trying to take me off to kill me somewhere. In the end, I got a couple more photos. They aren’t the best…I still need to work on picking the right settings, but I did get to enjoy a fabulous sunset.