Saturday, February 18, 2006

Aubrey's Birthday Dinner at The Outback Steakhouse
(mentioned previously in "4th Birthday Party" Blog)

January/February Beach Days

When it's not raining, it seems to be pleasant enough to spend three or four solid hours at the beach in swimsuits (or underwear, Dane). Note: Although it's warm, it is chilly enough that I draw the line when I hear "Mom, can we practice swimming with you?"

Aubrey and Dane and I head down to our little Sausalito Beach on weekend days when we want to be near Mick should he want to take a break from studying all day at the kitchen table, but far enough away to allow him to keep focus without too much play or work in the house.

Last weekend, the 12th, we met 80-year-old Dorothy when we asked if she wanted help putting her rowboat in the water. It was really heavy, so she was happy for the assistance. (With her tucked-in flannel shirt, high pants, rubber boots, canvas hat and weathered skin, I was really careful not to assume she needed assistance--she looked like she'd been taking care of herself just fine for years.)

Her boat was beautiful. She'd just painted it all-white herself, inside and out, and the square end (oh, brother--the front or the back, the bow or the stern, I quite frankly, just don't know) had "Dorothy's Boat" etched out in it and was painted light blue. We could tell she was proud of her work as she carefully cleaned and shook off her boots before getting in. She asked if the kids wanted to go out but there weren't any life jackets, so I said we'd better not. When she came back a couple hours later, we ran down to help her again. (That part was really heavy.) She said then that she was going to try to put in some life vests from now on, and that if we were down there again on a sunny day, she'd be happy to take us out.

We also met Amanda and Teddy, two pre-teens that Dane and Aubrey couldn't quit talking about, even though their play with them had been limited. The big deal, though, is that Amanda and Teddy helped them recover all their dinosaurs from under the sand, and then played beach ball dodge ball with Dane for a half hour (it was hysterical to watch Dane in his chase-flee giddiness).

Photos: January beach time. Toys that day: construction workers and vehicles. Object of interest: dead seal floating by.
Water Tower Hike

Less than a mile up the hill from our apartment is a series of dirt trails for hiking and biking that is part of the Marin Headlands. Evidently, the trails cover 13 miles of hilly terrain toward the Golden Gate Bridge. We haven't attempted that on foot yet--although I've run it a bit, and Mick has biked there solo and with Dane. When the kids and I go up, our big accomplishment is taking in the panormaic view of the bay and Sausalito harbor with all its sailboats, followed by a hike to the water tower and exploring all the little gulches and fields near it.

Here are some pictures of Dane and Aubrey exploring. There are also some that Dane and Aubrey took with the digital camera (yellow plant--should look that up; is it just scotchbroom?) and a pic one of them took of me (that doesn't have the shadow of a finger in it). They really love taking pictures these days; I've got to make a point of letting them do it more to see what they come up with.

The hike is popular with dog businesses. On any given day (many) vans full of dogs arrive to cut loose off trail. The first time we saw them, we were down in a gulch and looked up to see about ten dogs and a caregiver combing the hillside above us. They looked like sheep with a shepherd. We quickly chuffed up out of the gulch to check them out. Now, typically when we're up there, the kids get to play with some of these well-groomed canines, somewhat trepidatiously, and watch them sniff, roll, run and wrestle.

Over-the Hump Party
February 3, 2006

Mick with Akhil, who sits at Mick's pod in the Sim Lab. Akhil has two second-year roommates, Arvin and My (pronounced "my"), who've been really helpful to Mick in the Sim Lab. They're also pretty fun. I like the foot-high Yoda puppet they found in the road and propped up at Mick's station.

Rob and Josh (two first-years), with Tori (Rob's fiance visiting from Arizona).

Sepi and Sean (from Israel, I think). They've been through medical school together and decided to go through dental school together as well. Sepi's 32 and Sean's 38; they have an 8-year-old son and an infant. (Sepi gave birth first quarter.) Sepi's parents live with them and take care of the children during the day and during study sessions.

Mick and me with Megan and Jay. Megan's doing a residency in Pedo (children's dentistry) at UCSF while Jay's a first year at Pacific with Mick. Mick likes to study with Jay.

Yeah, I look a little crazed, but I'm actually just pointing out Akhil's snazzy little ascot.

Over-the-Hump is a party put on by second-year students marking the 18-month halfway point of dental school at Pacific. This year it was held at Bimbos 365, a gorgeous old renovated ballroom-style building in downtown San Francisco with rich red velvety curtained walls, glass chandeliers, and mirrored lounges in the back. The dress was semi-formal (didn't really catch that from Mick until we got there!), complete with catering and entertainment and dancing.

The entertainment was the highlight of the night. The second year students held an awards ceremony the class had voted on. Sample awards were: "Student Most Likely to Be Mistaken for a Mormon" (the winner of this award gave a brief speech, joking "Wow, this is a dream come true..."); "Student Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Class," (accompanied by a hilarious slide show of students asleep in class. One student in particular dominated the series--Robert Cho, I think--, and someone had managed to include in the slide show (a) an interview with Robert earnestly declaring his love for Pacific and classes and how interesting the subjects are, and (b) a video where he's sitting at a table with a bunch of students eating lunch and slowly falling asleep, eventually just plopping his head down on the table. The students went wild when he won the award); and "Student Most Likely to be Using Someone Else's Equipment."

In addition to the awards ceremony, second year students showed off some talent in dancing and singing, crescendoing to a perfect 5 guy boyband kind of dance routine to "You Got the Right Stuff, Baby." I haven't laughed so hard in a while.

Mick and I stayed out until midnight (WOW) while our kids had a great time spending the night at Vincent and Amelie's.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Aubrey's 4th Birthday Party

I'm not sure how this will format, since Mick just quickly moved these pictures to this post for me last night, but I'll go for it anyway.

Aubrey had a wonderful couple of days celebrating her birthday--in new party dresses (the pink ones from Auntie Dana)! On Saturday night, the 4th, Dane and Aubrey came out of their room dressed up to go out and celebrate at dinner. (They chose their own clothes, and, well, pretty much decided we needed to go out for the occasion in the first place.) Before we headed across the street to The Outback Steakhouse (convenient, affordable when we share meals, and loud), we all took turns using the tripod and taking family pix dressed up. Dane looked very serious in his shirt and (short) tie, concentrating fiercely on setting up the tripod--Mick and I felt like we were with a real pro. Dinner at The Outback was really fun too; we got the chance to celebrate Aubsie's birthday in style (take the "style" part there with a grain of salt) and we all loved getting Mick's undivided attention for a couple hours after another brutally demanding week at school (and another one to come). And, yes, we all enjoyed sharing Aubrey's free ice cream sundae.

For the party the next day, Aubrey and Dane and I colored about 20 butterflies to tape to the door and above the streamers. The butterfly ice cream M&M cake was a joint effort by Mick and me (Mick did the ice cream, of course). When the kids came at 3, they made party headbands with more butterflies they all colored. (Note: Dane and his friend Vincent made feathers for "Indian headbands" instead.) Aubrey loved playing with her new Polly Pockets (Cinderella, Ariel, Belle), princess dress, jewelry, and big rubber Hello Kitty ball.

Who attended? The Javadi girls (pictured with Aubrey) and their parents, Annie and Cyrus; Whitney (blondie pictured with Aubrey) with her Mom Natalie and infant brother Cole (this was Whitney's first big birthday party to attend and she was ecstatic); the kids' "new best friends" Vincent, 5, and Amelie, 3; and little Brighten and his dad Richard, a second year dental student (my good friend Shari was recovering from a week in the hospital with pnemonia, 7 months pregnant). The Schultz gang (my friend Margaret and her family, including Wilton, Dane's great friend, were gone to Bear Valley for the weekend, so they helped us celebrate earlier that week.)

Our film card ran out mid-party, so some pix haven't gotten to us from Richard's camera. Perhaps we'll post more soon, but these pix give the general gist.


Friday, February 10, 2006

The Best & Worst Cities for Men

Here's an article I swiped from touting the benefits of living in this fair city. Sure, it's only about Men (hmmm...) and, sure, Mick's one of the diabetics that lowers the diabetic ranking, but it's still nice to be here... (It also makes me really want to find "Hopper's Hands" so I can give it my own smack.)

The place where men thrive, and where health takes a dive
by Matthew Link, Men's Health; Photograph by Grant Delin

Just what, exactly, were the city fathers thinking when they played papa to your town? Nice plot of land. Fertile. Defensible. Wet (for fish and ships). "Here," they said, "we can build a future." Then they rolled up their sleeves for the original American workout: making something.

We've come a long way since. But that doesn't mean we've taken a step forward. Now, men can be as large and lazy as they want and still see many winters—but fewer than they might. Certain cities have more than their share of these men dying of heart disease, diabetes and all manner of cancers. Yet other towns pulse with that wild energy of yore, which keeps their male denizens slim, strong and motivated.

Our fifth annual survey of the 100 healthiest (and unhealthiest) cities for men throws several thousand chunks of data into a statistical melting pot to figure out why some towns thrive and others fail. The best part: No matter where you live, you'll find enough strategies in these pages to view your hometown just as its city fathers did centuries ago: as a precinct brimming with possibilities, where a motivated man can enjoy every last day of a long life.

Healthiest City in America 2005 — San Francisco, CA

Under the rust-colored arc of the Golden Gate Bridge, in the perfect California sunlight, runner after runner comes up to the base of the monument and engages in an odd ritual: Each person high-fives impressions of hands cast in a copper plaque. According to the inscription, these are "Hopper's Hands," and the chain-link fence from which they hang is the turnaround on the long path from downtown.

So why the tribute? As the story goes, a longtime bridge iron worker named Hopper (who is credited with talking down as many as 30 suicidal people from the rails of the Golden Gate over the years) would see all those joggers smacking the fence. So he put up something for them to hit.

Only in San Francisco. And only here would you have a constant stream of joggers running several miles round-trip just to smack a fence. Then again, only in San Francisco would you find the 75,500-acre Golden Gate Recreation Area—one of the world's largest national parks in an urban setting. Or a city council that hated smoking so much, it banned it in all outdoor public spaces.

It's no surprise, then, that San Francisco is our Healthiest City of 2005—scoring big-time grades in prostate cancer (fourth), diabetes (ninth), and heart disease (15th). Only Orlando scored better in average body-mass index (BMI). And only San Jose had more people hitting the gym. If you're not fortunate enough to call San Fran (never "Frisco") home, you can still share in its healthiest secrets, such as imbibing red wine (no city sips more) and swearing off sugar (no one eats less).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mavericks Surf Competition, February 7, 2006 - Half Moon Bay, CA
( We* Were There! )

Above is a diagram of the Mavericks surf area. Mick and I first learned of Mavericks in the big wave surf documentary Riding Giants (great to watch even if you're not a surf buff--we highly recommend it). You can't come away from that film without a tremendous appreciation for the surfers who ride big waves. In the film, there's an entire segment that focuses on Mavericks and the one man, Jeff Clark, who "discovered" Mavericks and rode it solo for 15 years before anyone else joined him.

Here are a few pictures of the contest, which Dane and Aubrey and I went to with my friend Sue while *Mick (so sad) sat in classes all day. The four of us sat perched up on a high cliff where we could see the surfers only as little dots, but being there with ten thousand other people rubbed off some fun and exciting ju ju on us (yes, I'm afraid the kids even got their first whiff of ganja ju ju there as well--fortunately, not enough to impair any of us!).

News report: In one of the above photos, Grant Baker of South Africa celebrates with his trophy after winning the Mavericks surfing competition in Half Moon Bay, California February 7, 2006. Twenty-four surfers competed in the contest with waves between 30-45 feet to win the $30,000 top prize. The competition off California's Half Moon Bay attracts big-wave surfers from around the world, who attempt to catch and successfully ride waves as tall as 35 feet (11 metres) that are propelled by winter swells traveling the Pacific Ocean. Baker won $30,000 for scoring best among 24 surfers.

Note: When I get ahold of Mick's computer (where I can download personal photos), I'll add to this entry a few shots of us at this competition. I'll also publish those birthday party pix...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Aubrey turned 4 today! Will post party pictures soon.

"The Blue People of Troublesome Creek" is an article that answers Dane's question of whether there are any people with blue skin. I know I said I wouldn't post any answers to their questions, but this one's just so interesting. Click on if you're interested in these blue people, the diagnosis and the treatment. (I originally pasted the article here, but it's just too long!)


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Askin' Jeeves
  • What do bears eat?
  • Why does a cactus have spikes?
  • How come we shock (electric) each other?
  • What do salmon eat?
  • What are bricks made of?
  • Does anybody have blue skin?
  • Does a praying mantis bite people?
These are some questions the kids have asked lately. Since my walking encyclopedia's in school all day long, I've taken to consulting to be sure I'm right and to avoid making stuff up (which, as you may know, can be very tempting!). I won't post the answers, but you can always ask jeeves yourself if you're curious...