As part of a birthday, new house, going away, and Amaranth was in town celebration, Tommy hosted a BBQ at his new place. It was a really nice place, but on the exact opposite corner of Redwood City from us. It was good to get to see them, and I had some good conversations with Garret and his wife. We also were able to give the 120 tanks to Garret, as well as a few other things to the other Beachhead peeps. Tommy spend a lot of the evening at the grill, playing with fire.
Fred and Karin came out to visit us in Redwood City before we left. They showed up on a Saturday afternoon. They had multiple flights, coming from Birmingham, and a huge ordeal getting a car at the rental counter that took well over an hour. We went on a nice walk through the neighborhood and stopped by what was clearly meant to be a food delivery space. I think they were complying with some San Carlos ordinance to be on Laurel, but only really deliver. They had 5 restaurants listed as being in a food court, but only four tables. The food they had were some of our favorites, including Oren’s Hummus. We then walked more over to the Russian Ridge winery tasting room. We had some wine, and a dinner at Osteria, with a little more wine. They were pretty tired, so we relaxed at our place for the rest of the evening and then called it a night.
On Sunday we decided to go to Golden Gate Park. We went to the Japanese garden first, and Karin seemed to really enjoy it. I also took the time to really look at some of the things they were doing with the garden, and realized the design was much more impressive than I had originally given it credit. They played with senses of scale and sight lines in way that were subtle and clever. We then went to the Academy of Sciences and took a long walk through their garden sphere. We then spend another long while in the basement aquarium space. It was a great time, and I was glad to talk so much with Fred and Karin.
This was a hilarious and sexy show. Steph and I had a table at the front, which was absolutely worth it. I was also amused that many of the male characters were portrayed by female characters, except for Han Solo, which was a guy. The MC, who is supposed to represent Lando was also a guy, and he was funny, but seemed really really stoned. I found the speeder washing by the gender bent Luke to be the hottest scene. Their props were pretty fantastic, and I got a huge laugh from the tonton scene. It was sexy, funny, and a great show.
The only thing I would have appreciated more about it was if they had an order that was more in line with the films, but that is a really minor criticism. It isn’t like the scenes themselves had lots of story elements.
Steph had a nice group of friends over for her birthday dinner, and it turned into a proper feast. Yutong brought way too much food as she tends to do, and it was all delicious. We also had some great wine that George brought over. We also had some of the Port that we had brought back, and that was pretty tasty as well. We didn’t really do much in the way of games, and overall had great discussions of what we were planning for London and the future. I did the cleaning, which wasn’t all that bad since we used a lot of disposable plates and cutlery.
Steph joined me for a work trip to NYC. We were there for a team meeting for one of the teams I’m a part of, but I was also able to meet with other members of other teams I work with while I was there. It was a little strange to be there as the only design representation was myself and my manager, and my manager was in other meetings for most of her time, leaving just me.
Outside of the work event we had a good time going to the PunchDrunk production Sleep No More. Much like the production in London it was amazing and immersive and another world. It is hard to describe the feeling that being immersed in a production like that creates, but it is something I look forward to doing again once we’ve moved to London.
We also, of course, went out to some really nice restaurants. Steph found some amazing vegetarian and vegan places. Plus we had to do the NYC staples, like good floppy pizza, bagels, and other baked goods.
We walked the more notable parts of the city like Times Square, Central Park, and Broadway. We had a nice night on the rooftop bar, and had some good conversations over drinks as we figured out the next few years of our lives.
After London I joined Steph in Porto for an evening before we took the morning train to Vigo, Spain. We walked around the waterfront and the nice park near the train station. It was a really nice park, and the waterfront was also lovely. It was immediately noticeable how the Spanish lifestyle is slower, with most businesses only being open for very select hours. The restaurants also had limited hours, with even more limited kitchen hours. So we had a hard time knowing where and when we could go to places for lunches and dinners. We would look up their times online and head down, and they would be open, but not serving food. Vigo is also a very heavy meat and seafood area. Several places had zero options that didn’t involve meat and seafood, which made Steph’s options very limited. We did find some amazing places, at amazing prices. There was a very nice restaurant that would have been $50 to $60 per person in SF and it was $11 per person for us. My vocabulary in Spanish isn’t great, so one of the areas I struggled was in knowing all the different foods that were on menus, or more often spoken as the daily special. We never got something that was wildly different than expected, but I did order the daily menu of eggplant for Steph by accident (She doesn’t like eggplant).
I was pleasantly surprised by how well my Spanish worked for getting around. Only 4 people that we interacted with had better English than I had Spanish. This is both my Spanish was better than expected and the prevalence of English there isn’t great. I also think I ran into two people that mainly spoke Galician.
There was an interesting mix of international influences, but not very international people. We could find restaurants that were listed as Indian, Japanese, Mexican, or American, but the people there were all Spanish. Steph also found a vegan restaurant, but we only ended up eating there once.
Steph got an AirBnB up by the castle, which is on top of a significant hill. When our check in time came around, we started walking up there, and ran across the escalators that will take you most of the way up. It was really nice with the big bag, and we made it to the apartment with no issue. The apartment had a great view. We walked up to the castle first thing and it was a hot day (34C). The castle park was lovely, and free. We enjoyed the manicured gardens, but at the same time the area had a overgrown ruin feel that I greatly enjoyed. We headed down to the waterfront, which was only a 15 minute walk, and very nice. We passed through their high street , which was a lovely area with lots of interesting shops. We made it to the water and found the statue of Jules Verne. Vigo is the city where Nimo has his sunken treasure galleon.
Parts of Vigo were very industrial, but the area we were in was isolated from that. There are also a lot of shellfish farms in the river there. There is also the city across the river, and at one point they were firing off cannons. We could hear them and see the flash and smoke plumes.
The second day we had a morning of doing move research, then walked around the city some more. We had a massage at a place that was styled as a Thai massage, but mainly did Swedish massages. We went to the grocery store for bread and cheese and then went to the apartment for more work on the moving plans.
We made it to train back to Porto in the morning without any issues.
Despite being a longer stay in London there is much less for me to write about for this trip compared to the last one. I’ve focussed much more on work this time.
I did get to do a few interesting things. Firstly I made it to the V&A, which was the one major museum that I wanted to and didn’t get to last time. They had a very eclectic collection of the most random items. I enjoyed going from the teapot gallery, to the wrought iron gallery, then to the middle easter rugs.
I also got to go to two different strange shows. The first was Future Cargo, which was a show performed in the back of a Semi with a clear side, that had a conveyor belt which the performers would dance on. It was interesting how they setup the performance. They had it in an open plaza, and the tickets got you a headset so you could hear the music they were dancing to. I tried taking the headsets off for a minute to see what it was like without the music and it was way worse without the audio to go with it. I enjoyed the performance, but it was very strange.
I also went to a unique style of performance put on by PunchDrunk. They are an immersive theater company that have done several productions. This one was called The Burnt City, and focussed on the sacking of Troy.
It was different. It was like wandering a cyberpunk city from stray, but so more real. And the characters were telling a story, but also something else. They had to tell the full narrative but also the full character. There wasn’t really a stage for them to be on or off, just the full set to be in. All the stories being told at once, coming together and splitting off. I missed so much and it would take another three or four visits to catch all the major scenes and a dozen to see it all. I want to go back to experience it again. For some reason I don’t want to go back, because it would ruin it. I was truly transported to another universe in there.
If there were a VR version of that it would be too immersive. I think the under was trying for that but it lost something in trying to be too friendly. I think this is what The Under Presents was going for, but they didn’t get it.
Other than those two outings I worked pretty much the rest of the time. I did get to walk around the Coal Drop Yards a lot as that is close to the office. It is a really nice area.
I then left to meet Steph in Porto.
Steph and I joined two others, Madz and Ahmad, at Lover’s Point for a nice dive through some of the little remaining kelp forest along Monterey. They showed up late and took a while to get ready, but I was prepared for that, so it wasn’t too bad. I had a great dive. We saw otters and harbor seals as we were setting up our gear, although we didn’t see them underwater. During the dive we saw a ton of sea lemons, some massive sea stars, lots of types of crabs, and some urchin barrens surrounding the kelp. I think the otters must have been keeping the kelp area clear, because there were no urchins in the kelp area.
I’ve been organizing active Tuesdays with a decently large group of friends. We’ve done a lot of pickleball, and over the last two weeks I’ve also organized other activities. Two weeks ago we went kayaking in the canals around Foster City. This past week we had a ‘field day’ where we hung out in a field, had a picnic, and played some games. I had never played spike ball before and I was amazingly bad at it. I was amused that Clarissa refused to move, but she had amazing reflexes and accuracy, so she was actually surprisingly good. We threw the frisbees around, and had two going at the same time really quickly and it was a lot of fun to keep an eye out for each one. We had a few good catches at the same time, and I managed to get one decent double throw to two different people at the same time. We had 12.5 people show up (with Alexander counting as the 0.5). I had a great time, and we’ll have to do it again.