What are the dog days of summer?  Dogs like to be outside, not inside.  This phrase is a misnomer.  However, the popular meaning of the phrase applies to the Bay area as we speak.  For the next two-ish months it is going to be hot (but definitely not Florida hot).  However, in Florida, one can just walk into the nice cool air conditioned building he or she is closest to and feel lovely again.  In California, people don't believe in air conditioning for those few days that make you sweat for no reason.

Wait....wait a second...........

A breeze!!!! Do you feel that?  It's a breeze!  A nice cool breeze has finally decided to join this rather static party!  Yay!  I have never appreciated a breeze more than I do right now!  

I do appreciate these fews days when it is really hot because it makes me appreciate the cooler days even more!

Song of the moment: Wildfire by John Mayer
 
 
The Marin Headlands are a state park right here in the North Bay.  It's a beautiful area with many little beaches to explore and amazing views of the Golden Gate, San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean.  There is this web site called Weekend Sherpa that a friend sent to me before I moved out here with all sorts of places to go and see.  Well, one of the places, Black Sand Beach, peaked my interest.  I tried getting out to it a few months ago but drove right past it (on a very scary one way road hugging the coast).  I ended up just heading back home after that.  I finally made it out there the other day and took a bunch of pictures.  It is a really cool little beach that is about a half a mile's hike down to. But it is so worth it.  There is a little waterfall and off in the distance there is a lighthouse and caves in the rock face.  The sand actually is black.  Aside from the man fishing at one end of the beach, I was the only other person there.  Here are pictures of my little adventure.

Song of the Moment: New Scene (feat. Ofelia), by Felix Cartal
 
 
I wasn't really sure what I wanted to blog about this week, so I looked to my side and there sat the book I'm pages away from finishing, A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins.  Yes, I did just say that I haven't finished it and that's why I want to review it.  I don't know the ending but I'm close enough to have a pretty good idea how it will finish.  

Overall, I really enjoyed the book.  It takes place in San Francisco, CA and is about a man who is working with a scientist on creating artificial intelligence.  He got involved in the project because the scientist wanted to establish the presence of being in this intelligent entity through giving it "life." The scientist stumbled upon the man's father's journals and believed it to be the perfect amount of information to create an artificial person.  The goal was create this computer that would beat the Turing Test. If you don't know what the Turing Test is, click here. The book also looks at the man's life outside of work and how his upbringing has shaped his relationship with other people.  It is written in first person.  If you are at all familiar with San Francisco, you will know most of the references in this book. There are just enough characters in this book to keep up with them all and three-dimensionalize them in your mind.  

I did find it interesting how the author did not wrap up relationships in the book. It's kind of hard to explain, but it reflects that of life.  A lot of relationships are never really wrapped up...they just dissolve or pop in and out of your like wildflowers (or weeds).

I'm looking forward to the final chapter of the book and I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone.  I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Song of the moment: Tongues by Joywave (feat. KOPPS)
 
 
Today is a significant day is more than one way.  I'm not going to dwell on any one of them because doing so is just silly.  First and foremost, today is the birthday of an extremely dear friend that passed away three years ago.  A day doesn't go by where I don't think about her and her impact on my life.  I miss you, M.  The second significance is if I had stayed in my doctoral program I would have finished my second year comprehensive exams today.  This can be the point in one's academic career where one can make it or break it.  As much as I know leaving the program was the right thing for me to do, again, there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about where I would be had I not left it.  Part of me feels like a quitter (and kind of a failure) and another part of me feels courageous and that it truly was not the right time in my life to pursue it.  It's definitely a bipolar feeling.  These two significant factors in my life actually do overlap, as well.  M was a big part in me pursuing a doctorate.  Not only was she a great friend, but she was a mentor.  

So I took a drive around the Marin Headlands today and snapped a couple of pictures of the Bay.  Literally ten minutes later the sun came out.
 
 
More often than not I read about people's first experiences with Pride, it tends to start with the type of household they grew up in.  Without thinking I almost did the same thing with this posting.  Then I realized that it really wasn't relevant to my intended theme, and so I started over.  Here goes.

Pride, the ultimate GSA!  A time when barriers are broken down and people come together to enjoy people for being people.  Granted not all people who attend these festivals have that agenda, but for the most part that's what it comes down to being.  This year was the first Pride weekend I have ever been to and I went with my cousin.  As a lot of people know Pride is a whole weekend, but my liver doesn't have the capacity to party for a whole weekend anymore (nor does my wallet).  So I met up with my cousin on Sunday for the parade.  We walked around, saw some very interesting people, lots of rainbows and people just enjoying themselves.  Then we headed to my other cousin's bar and started celebrating.  We ended up walking around the city and met up with some of his friends at different bars.  I met some great people and eventually I got back home safe and sound.  (Un)fortunately, when you meet new people and they learn you've never been to a Pride event before, they start buying you drinks.  I met quite a few people who don't order drinks with mixers, so I had (was) properly toasted at my first Pride. 

The photos below are from that day.  Some were taken by my cousin (shout out to Graham!) and others were taken by me. You may notice that some of the photos look weird. I'm going to assume I was moving too quickly when I took them and it distorted the pictures.  However, they are still pretty cool looking so I'm including them.  There is also a drunk picture of me just for full partying effect.  Enjoy!

Song of the moment: Party on 5th Ave, Mac Miller
 
 
This past week has been momentous in many ways.  For one, my big sister, Kate, got married.  The first one of the three of us (I have two sisters) to get hitched.  It was a roller coaster of a week.  She is the only one of us who will have a traditional marriage ceremony and accompanying festivities.  Laurel and I threw her a bachelorette party with everything but a stripper (there were under-agers there).  The next day there was a rehearsal with a bridal party and then a luncheon with both extended families thrown by the groom's family.  Unbeknownst to most of us, the groom's brothers and other family gave speeches.  For some reason no one from our side of the family would go up there and share something with the group.  So, after a few glasses of wine and being one of Kate's bridesmaids, I got up there and said a few words.  Totally made her cry...booyah!  I'm kinda proud considering it was completely off the cuff.  Then my dad got up and said something.  The next day was the wedding and it was almost as beautiful as my sister was.  I even wore a dress for her, which I have not done since I was in my early teens.  Reception with an open bar (thank you!!) after that.  Lots of fun.  That night I barely made it to 9pm before passing out from sheer exhaustion. I am very proud to have been a part of Kate and Mike's day.

I have never been a fan of marriage. Perhaps it's because my parents divorced or something else, but I don't feel a need to get married.  Not to say I won't but for now that's how I feel.  Having said that, I am very proud to have been a part of Kate's wedding.  And I wouldn't change anything about it, except maybe having to wear a dress.  

Another amazing thing about this week is that DOMA and Prop 8 were eradicated.  I think it's pretty awesome that Kate got married in a historically significant week.  I wonder if the Supreme Court planned to have this vote during pride month.  San Francisco is getting ready to have its pride week so I'm guessing it will be even crazier than usual.  As expected, all social media platforms blew up with people commenting on both overturns and there was one recurring comment that has stayed with me. It was that it isn't just a win for a specific group of people, but for everyone.  I wholeheartedly agree with that.

To continue the flow of love this week, I started reading the book, The Working Theory of Love, by Scott Hutchins.

Have a lovely week!

Song of the Moment: Love They Say, by Tegan and Sara
 
 
As I was walking with Peach this morning I was actually thinking of different things I might like to blog about in the future.  So naturally I thought about all of things I had already blogged about.  Blogs are their own little timelines in a person or company's life.  Turns out I didn't really come up with anything very interesting.  I have found that when I am engaged in an activity outside (and by myself), I am much more tuned in to what I am doing and what's going on around me.  So, once I stopped thinking about what I might blog about I started tuning in to the sounds around me.  

At that point I was near a house that was being worked on, so there were sounds of construction...hammering, boards clanking against each other and workers discussing the task at hand.  I said good morning to a couple of them as I passed by.  People tend to be very friendly around here.Then I noticed the sound of the breeze rushing through the trees and the birds chirping.  For a moment I felt like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty walking through nature, except that I was wearing jeans and t-shirt and walking a dog, while my surrounding were not at all cartoon-like.  But the sounds were amazing.  These are sounds I wake up to everyday and it still surprises me that I get to wake up to them everyday.  Just down the lane I ended up walking by a house where someone was warming up to practice the piano.  On my way back the person was playing a song and tripped on a note, but nonetheless it sounded wonderful. For a moment I wondered what it would be like to be in that person's shoes, playing the piano with the windows open and looking out onto the Bay.  

To sound completely cliche and to quote a completely over-quoted, yet absolutely perfect quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off - "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

Song of the moment: Forsaken Cowboy, Royksopp
 
 
One my favorite things about living in the Bay area (aside from soooo many other things) is the ferry.  I'm sure for most people that would not even be on their top ten favorite things about this area, but for me it most certainly is.  I grew up in a beach town, so I'm stranger to living and breathing a very large body of water.  In fact, the town I grew up in added a ferry a few years ago (because not only is it a beach town, it also has a intracoastal waterway, aka a really big river).  

So back to the Golden Gate Ferry.  If you know your stuff about this area and public transportation, you should find yourself a clipper card, because they can be used on pretty much all public forms of transportation and for some will get you a pretty decent discount in fare.  This applies significantly to the ferry.  If you buy a single pass it's $9.75 one way( tourists beware!).  If you load a clipper card with money, it costs you only $5 to ride the ferry one way.  *end of nerdy accounting fun facts*

Once you get on the ferry (and at this point I'm talking about the ferry to Sausalito...there are also ferries to Larkspur and parts of the East Bay), it's a 30-minute on the water for only $5 (did I mention that already?)!  On a really clear day the views are absolutely gorgeous of the Bay everywhere: the Golden Gate Bridge, the city, the Bay Bridge, Sausalito, Angel Island, Tiburon, Treasure Island, and Alcatraz.  Fun little qualitative fact is most of the ferry drivers will slow way down as you pass right by Alcatraz.  Total freebee!

I don't really take too many pictures while I'm on the ferry, but I took a couple the other day.  I prefer to enjoy the ride and appreciate the many wonders I've been afforded in my life.  

Song of the moment: Hurricane by MS MR
 
 
Since moving to the Bay area, I have gained quite an education in the art of wine.  Before I moved out here I would drink wine occasionally and when I did I would look at where the wine was from (and when I say that I mean what state or country and nothing else).  And most of the time I would buy wines I already knew...never venturing out to expand my palette.  

A couple of weekends ago we went out Sonoma to pick up some wine from Benziger Family Winery.  This was the first winery I had visited in California last year.  And it was fantastic!  And expensive!  Before moving out here I had never spent more than about $15 on a bottle of wine and that was pricey.  We tried wines at Benziger that ranged from $35 to $85!  Now $35-$50 for a bottle of wine seems about average.  Anyway, on our last visit out there we ended up taking a tour of the vineyard/winery.  It was very enlightening. 

Benziger is one of about 50 vineyards (and I can't remember if that nationwide or worldwide) that maintains a biodynamic estate vineyard.  So I'm sure you are wondering what in the world is biodynamic and why isn't this Californian vineyard not organic?  Well, the concept of biodynamism is actually about 20 years older than the organic concept and takes it a few steps further.  Biodynamic vineyards are self-sustaining.  The owners have chosen very specific plants and trees and placed them all over the estate property in order to create, in essence, its own ecosystem.  They do use organic types of fertilization (seven-stomach Scottish cow manure to be exact) and help the earth recover from years of plantings but, technically, the vineyard can do that all on its and it does.  Such an amazing way to create delicious wine.

In addition to the biodynamic vineyard, they also built a $4 million cave to store the wine in while it sits in oak barrels.  I thought $4 million was a bit much to be spending on a big hole in the side of a mountain.  But then our wonderful tour guide furnished us with some very interesting facts. When you think of cave, you think of a cool, moist place.  If you lived in a cave, would you ever need A/C?  Nope!  Well, as we all know wine needs to stay at a certain temperature to continue aging appropriately.  The caves stay consistently the same temperature all year round.  Plus they provide a reasonable amount of moisture that keeps the barrels in tip top condition.  This prevents air from entering the barrels and mixing with the wine.  As we know, oxygenation of wine turns it sour.  That's why when you open a bottle of wine you really don't have more than a day or two to drink it before it tastes gross.  Vineyards that use actual refrigeration lose up to 12% of their wine from over-oxygenation, but cave aging decreases the loss to around 5%.  That's pretty significant.  So what we have learned here is an expensive hole saves money in the long run from zero refrigeration costs and decreases wine spoilage.  Oh! And the cave is actually underneath the vineyard so it doesn't take up space that could be used for grapes!  Space saver! 

The complexities of winemaking are absolutely fascinating!

Artist of the moment: Electric Guest

 
 
This past weekend was Memorial Day Weekend.  It is always interesting to see the different thoughts people post about holidays on any of the various social media platforms.  I do find it wonderful that people take the time to acknowledge these holidays.  However, this Memorial Day made me wonder whether some people understand the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, for a few people in my social networks were thanking current and alive service people for their contribution to our freedoms.  

So here's the difference in a nutshell: Memorial Day is time to remember those service people who have died in the line of duty, while Veterans Day is a time to honor all service people, alive and dead, of their contributions to maintaining and securing our freedom.  

I did a little more digging to find out a little more about the history of both.  So here are a couple of tidbits on when both were started.  The first Memorial Day started back around 1865, but was originally known as Decoration Day.  It began as a way to honor the soldiers, both Confederate and Union, that fell during the Civil War.  As time has worn on and our country has participated in more wars, the commemoration of fallen soldiers has extended to all fallen Armed Forces service people.  

The first Veterans Day actually took place in 1919, but was known as Armistice Day.  It was a day to remember the heroism  of those who died during The Great War.  Roughly seven years later, Congress requested that it become an official national holiday, which was passed.  Again, as time continued and another World War commenced, the commemoration was extended to all soldiers regardless of the war they served in and whether or not they had fallen, and thus, it was renamed Veteran's Day.  

So there you go.  A little history and a small comparison of two similar but rather different holidays.  I hope that was more interesting than just a regular classroom history lesson.  Short and sweet.