Friday, November 24, 2006

Lazy Days

San Francisco Zoo_20061119_0056

This is a pretty good representation of how we spent today. We had a great night last night, and we were all a little hungover this morning. We arrived home and the whole family promptly fell asleep! My nap was Vicadin aided as my neck is still killing me, or was before the drugs kicked in.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving - for me it is the least stressful holiday of the year. It's also the best weekend to be in San Francisco. This is when everyone shags off to other parts (almost everyone in S.F is from somewhere else), and all my favorite haunts are a lot less packed. The weather is traditionally lovely in November, and despite an overnight downpour worthy of a January day in Limerick, I am currently looking out on baby blue skies. It's a mite cold, but as Annie might point out, nothing compared to Reykjavik.

We are heading down for dinner with some friends who in live in lovely, bucolic Montara, a short drive south of S.F. I was planning on stopping off for a quick surf at Pacifica on the way, but I must have slept awkwardly on my neck last night and have totally bollixed the left side of it. I can barely turn my head. There is a bottle of Vicadin in the medicine cabinet and I can hear its siren call wafting towards me (and it goes down well with a glass of wine!). I'll see how the two ibuprofen I took work first.

And here I go complaining when I should be thanking. I have a lot to be thankful for, and like most people, I forget that all too easily. We are all usually too busy striving to stop and sniff the roses. Among the things that I am thankful for:

Three funny, healthy, curious children, and my lovely smart wife ( I could write a book!). My job wouldn't be my first choice in life, but I never wanted to be a starving musician, and was lucky enough to find a challenging, interesting other career. Everyday, I am thankful that the people I manage do a great job, and make my life so much easier, and that the company I work for gets that hiring good people, and treating them with respect, is the key to success. All of my kids grandparents are still alive, and super nice people to boot, and Tash and I consider all of our siblings among our best friends. Speaking of friends, what are the chances of ending up 5,000 miles from home, only to find some of your best mates from your home town are living there also?

So, a great Thanksgiving to all of you out there, and a special shout out to Devin whose optimism in the face of some unbelievable obstacles promoted me to write this post.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


San Francisco Zoo_20061119_0071

This is Tony. I kid you not. Given that he is a 500 pound, seven foot long Siberian tiger, you'd think they'd have named him more appropriately - something magnificent like Vlad or Igor. Even Rasputin would have worked better than the plain vanilla, "Tony."
Isn't he gorgeous? Sadly, there are more of his ilk in captivity than there are roaming in the wild. He is domiciled in the San Francisco Zoo, and doesn't seem too unhappy about it. We brought the kids there on Sunday and Tony was quite happy sunning himself and digging the beautiful, balmy NorCal fall.
Several years ago, I got to see a tiger up close and personal. We went to Marine World with a friend who had worked there in a previous life. They had a lot of tigers back then, including three beautiful white tiger cubs. We were so taken with them that my friend got us "back stage" at the tiger compound. The trainers promptly appeared with a stunning, 350 pound female Bengal tiger - on a leash (thank God). Before we could think, they had her up on a low stage, sans leash, with all of us standing behind her while her handlers snapped some photos on my camera. We were so nervous that when she yawned loudly, we all nearly leapt out of our skins. It seemed like her mouth could easily wrap itself right around my entire head.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Jumbo Floating Restaurant

Hong Kong_20061108_0137-editedThis is the restaurant I mentioned in yesterday's post

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

House Band C -->Hong Kong -->Las Vegas

It's been a fun, but insanely busy few weeks, and it's great to be back home. Even the routine of work is welcome. Yesterday morning, for the first time in weeks, I cycled to work. Also, my poor Natasha has had to deal with three wild children on her own while I was off gallivanting, so my presence is appreciated (to say the least).

To kick off the insanity in late October, there was the show at The Bottom of the Hill (see picture above, click for slideshow), which was a rip-roaring success. The picture above is of House Band C (that’s me on the left hidden by the mic stand), so-called because the musician on the right side, with the red Stratocaster, is Cory , our beloved band leader - and well, his name begins with "C." There was also House Band J, named after it's leader, Jake. Our primary job that afternoon was to back up some of my guitar teacher's other students. However, we also got to do a set on our own. We did a selection of songs from Jet, Blondie, The Brand New Heavies, and Led Zeppelin, and I got center stage for a rendition of Richard Thompson's "Tear Stained Letter." The gig was filmed and I'll get a copy of it, so might try and stick it up on the blog.

Soon after the gig, I was off to Hong Kong on a work trip. I'd never been there before so I was excited to see it, despite the fifteen hour flight. I was dreading the jet lag, but I didn't suffer too much. We arrived there at 6:30 in the evening, and by the time we reached the hotel, ate and had a few drinks, it was bed time. A sleeping pill saw to it that I got a decent night's rest, and although not entirely refreshed, I wasn’t as fucked up by jet lag as I normally am.

We witnessed a pretty horrible incident as we arrived at the hotel in Wan Chai, an area with a tons of strip joints, bars, and restaurants, so the streets were thronged. We were standing at a set of lights, waiting to cross, when this guy starts screaming at a woman who appeared to be his girlfriend. As we began to cross, the guy slapped her hard across the face. We were already at the other side of the street by the time it all registered and we stopped, not sure what to do. He continued shouting at her for a half a minute or so, until she walked away. Meanwhile, some Aussies, in an open front bar right beside where it happened, had witnessed the whole thing, and confronted the assailant. A melee started quickly, and ended just as fast, during which Mr Slapper got a well-deserved head butt (not that I advocate violence, but if there was going to be violence, he deserved it most). It all happened in a second, and before we had time to digest it, the crowd had dispersed.

Otherwise HK was a busy but relaxed trip. It’s a bustling city, but has friendly and chilled out people. My days were spent working, and every evening we checked the sights and got to eat at some tasty restaurants. One of them was a Hot Pot restaurant where each table has two holes in it. Under each hole is a small but powerful heater. A bowl of broth is recessed in each hole - one was a vegetable broth and the other was basically a bucket of boiled chilies. Then, the wait staff placed various raw fish, meats, and vegetables on the table. We each got a ladle and dunked into the broth our choice of the meat, fish or veg, holding it there until it was boiled enough to eat. I am by and large vegetarian, but when in I ate the fish. I scored major bonus points with my Chinese colleagues by being the only person who actively enjoyed the chili broth. I LOVE spicy food.

On our final night, we did what all good tourists do and hit the Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen. And it's pretty jumbo, and it's on a boat. The whole thing is lit like a month of Christmas’s and ornately decorated - lots of red and gold dragons and Chinese lanterns. The food was good, not great, but the service was fantastic. All in all, the experience itself was worth the trip.

I arrived back after an uneventful flight, and turned around the next day for a long planned boys' weekend in Vegas. I hadn’t intended having the two trips back-to-back, it just worked out that way, and Natasha, my dearest darling wife, gave the whole thing her blessing. We stayed at New York New York, and had a fantastic time, during which we played lots of blackjack (and I didn’t lose too badly). Other than that, as the saying goes - What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

This week we moving office. We were bought by a huge software company at the beginning of the year, and they have an office in the same business park as us. Luckily, this means no major disruptions, and I can still bike to work when the urge strikes.

I'm also in the hole for some extended child care :)

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hong Kong

Hong Kong_20061106_0026I am in Hong Kong for work, so very little time for blogging. I've never been here before, and so far I love it. It really seems like the Asian Manhattan, but surrounded by mountains. We went to Victoria Peak for dinner the other night and I snapped this from the viewing deck. I forgot my tripod so its a little blurry.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006


De Young Museum_20061019_0066

This is another photo from the de Young Museum. On the observation deck high above the park, there is huge satellite map of San Francisco courtesy of Google Maps. Most of the people there were tourists, and one asked me where Alcatraz was on the map. When I told him, I was immediately barraged with more geographic questions. I ended up becoming "Mr. San Francisco Satellite Map Expert," happily pointing out various interesting spots to the assorted crowd.

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