Friday, November 4, 2011

Kyla in Cali, Part 2 of 2

On Wednesday, I took Kyla back up to San Francisco. This time, we drove halfway and then took the subway the rest of the way to save time (and money, really, since it's cheaper to park than it is to take the train the whole way). We went to the Ferry building, Pier 39, and Fisherman's Wharf. We had lunch at the Crab House so that Kyla could try dungeness crab. She didn't think it was any better than any other type of crab. She found a few souvenirs that she liked and we saw the sea lions. We peered at Alcatraz from a distance and she saw the Golden Gate Bridge.

Jonathan was able to take a day off on Thursday to accompany us down to Monterey. It's a coastal area about 90 minutes away, so it makes for a rather nice day trip. On the way there we stopped at a surplus store for a few minutes (they're so much more prevalent in the south than they are here!). We made a lunch reservation at Cafe Fina, at the Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey. It had a lovely write-up in Frommer's, and we requested a table by the window to see the sea lions, as the book suggested. Alas, they granted our request and we had an entire floor to ourselves, though the sea lions weren't out. We did, however, get to see a few otters, so that was fun. The food was wonderful - I really recommend the shrimp salad sandwich.

After lunch we walked the rest of Fisherman's Wharf and admired some of the views. Then it was on to Cannery Row, where we found some decent parking and went to the aquarium. It's a very nice aquarium. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time, especially if you want to see any of the demonstrations or the animal feedings.

see the pretty scallops?
tons of sand dollars
great shot (if I do say so myself) of a live barnacle
honeycomb moray eel
Purple-striped jellyfish
black sea nettle
green sea turtle
leafy sea dragon
 We stopped at a beach point on the way back so Kyla could touch the Pacific. We also stopped at a roadside produce stand where I picked up some avocados, kiwis, and almonds. We treated Kyla to In-n-Out for dinner, a Western-US fast food place. That night we made it over to the local miniature golf course, which had been decorated for Halloween. I actually won, which is a rare occurrence. Both Kyla and I got two hole-in-ones, though on different holes. This was the same place where I played for my last birthday, but this time we did the other course, so it was still new.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kyla in Cali, Part 1 of 2

My sister came out to visit us for 10 days as part of her birthday celebration.

Since I was already in FL, we flew out together to California on a Monday and arrived rather late due to a storm in San Francisco, so we spent Tuesday and Wednesday hanging around the house, showing her local places, and not doing anything too exciting. Well, we did go to the drive-in movies on Wednesday (and stayed for a double feature!), and she enjoyed her first time to one of those.

Thursday, though, was the first day of excitement - she and I spent a few hours at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose. I found out it existed last spring, but hadn't been. They actually have the largest collections of Egyptian artifacts in the western US.
the entrance
Canopic Jar Sarcophagus - it was designed
to hold a jar of the  mummy's internal organs
Tahure's mummy. She was about 28 when she died. 
Gazelle mummy! Elderly women kept gazelles as pets.
Taweret Figure of limestone. 
cat mummy.
Nile catfish mummy. Fish and beef were mummified for
the deceased to "eat" in the afterlife.
baby crocodile mummies, to honor the god Sobek.
That evening we took her for Mediterranean food in downtown Sunnyvale. We particularly love a place called Dish Dash, where we all enjoyed our meals.

Saturday we took the train up to San Francisco to meet up with Jim and have Thai for dinner. Sadly, Kyla didn't enjoy Thai food (and we went to a family-style restaurant, so she was able to try four different dishes) but she thought that the pirate-themed bar (Smuggler's Cove) that we took her to afterward was neat!

Sunday afternoon we took Kyla to a bridal show in San Jose. Since event management is currently the arena in which she wants to enter, plus she enjoys doing work with brides at her current job, I thought she'd like going to a show. I never went to one while I was planning my wedding, so it was interesting for me, too. After she got into it, Kyla had a great time and mentioned it was one of the highlights of the entire trip.

That night we decided to go to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. It actually has quite a history - it's this giant, 150+ room mansion that was constantly under reconstruction for over 30 years. Sarah Winchester believed that the spirits of the men killed by Winchester guns were out to get her, so she kept building onto her home so they couldn't find her. We opted to take the flashlight tour of the house, though I'm sure it's much more spectacular in the daylight! We also went through the "maze" that they had up, which was really a gargantuan haunted house. It took us 15+ minutes to walk through it, and it was VERY well-done. Groups were timed well, the people who popped out were actually pretty scary, and the decorations in each scene were exquisite. Kyla isn't one for too much scary, but a good time was had by all... plus, it started our Halloween festivities!

Monday was pretty low-key, as we had planned to go miniature-golfing but got rained out. Tuesday we spent time at home going over some things for her upcoming college transfer and such.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

September 2011

We flew to Orlando on the 16th and drove to Tallahassee the next day to enjoy the Oklahoma game. It was a fun time even though we lost. We stayed the night with my friend Heather and enjoyed some Tallahassee favorites, like Gumby's pizza.

Amy with Heather
Jonathan and Amy
Band in the stands
Band on the field
Osceola & Renegade
Jonathan took a few meetings but was otherwise headed back to Cali. On the other hand, I spent some extra time in Florida, though I was stuck with a miserable cold for a chunk of the time. I enjoyed some game nights, some frozen yogurt, a belated birthday dinner with my brother, and the ringing in of my sister's 21st birthday. I spent two lovely days catching up with my camp friends and spent the night at Tori's house. Oh, and dentist and doctor appointments, LoL.

Monday, October 31, 2011

August 2011

yeah, I know. It's kinda lame to put the bulk of a month into a single post. But, really, we didn't do too much. I got back from LA, Jonathan went from Florida to Las Vegas (for a conference) and then came home. Then he went back to Denver and I started furiously writing to catch up and create new things.

Jonathan graduated from the program that he was part of at work (the one that is the base for our moving around the past few years) and we had a party at our house for everyone. It was nice to see the twelve or so people in the program again, as I hadn't seen some of them since Denver in 2009. Because graduation was on a Thursday, some of Jonathan's colleagues stayed in the area for the weekend and we went up to San Francisco and did fun things.

We had fabulous Thai one night and delicious German the other. I ordered the Gegbratenes halbes Hunchen in Zwiebelsobe mit Reibekuchen (forgive me for not putting in the special characters). Thank goodness there was an English translation... otherwise I would've struggled! Jonathan went with the Wiener Schnitzel special. Everyone at the table shared two "boots" of Radeberger beer, which was pretty good. We shared pretzels, too. The other notable thing about the restaurant was the paper birds that were positioned throughout both rooms... apparently they re-do them a few times a year! 

taking a turn with the boot
Jonathan's Wiener Schnitzel
my dumpling-stuffed chicken with shallot sauce & potato pancakes

the birds
We also went to some other neat places in the city while we had friends in town, including a speakeasy, a pirate bar, and a trip to the American Grilled Cheese place again.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Amy in Los Angeles

I got back from Comic-Con very late on Sunday night and had to leave Tuesday morning to drive to Los Angeles. If everything had been planned further in advance and we didn't share a car, I probably would have driven to San Diego and then spent an extra day either there or in LA between events, as they're not too far apart. But alas, that's not how it happened.

If you have been reading TheTalkingBox for a while, you've noticed that there's been a gigantic increase in output this year. I still do 90% of the writing, but in addition to Jonathan we now have a third contributor to the site. While non-recap posts have been rare in the past month, they are returning... it's just extra hectic at the beginning of the television season! Anyway, back to the point... it's my full-time job now, rather than the hobby it started as back in 2008. It had started taking an increasing amount of time, but after several bigger organizations in the field found the blog, I was encouraged to do a lot more. This included heading to the TV Critics Summer Tour in Los Angeles.

It was a two-week event, though I only went for the first five days - I was pretty late to register and was early in the process of figuring out how to do things as a member of the press. Luckily, I knew a few people who live in the LA area and contacted them to try and get an idea of where would be smart to stay (I had never been to Los Angeles). A very old friend of mine (we sat across from one another in 6th grade science class, to give you an idea) offered to let me stay at his apartment, and I gratefully accepted.

Jonathan was in Denver and would be headed to Florida while I was in LA, so I made the drive alone, which actually wasn't bad. I arrived during rush hour but didn't experience too much delay in getting to James' place. The drive was around 6 hours, which wasn't bad... though it was kinda strange to drive through desert for hundreds of miles and then hit mountains so steep that there are multiple signs telling you to turn off your air conditioner! The car was a champ though, and I'm glad.
a view of the road, mountains, sky, and ocean
Without saying too much (it was a private event, after all), I learned a lot and experienced various degrees of encouragement to do what I'm doing. I found out that the digital recorder I brought didn't work anymore (it gets used very rarely), so that left me out of doing individual interviews. I still got tons of stuff that's been feeding posts and articles and will continue to do so. The first three days were for cable networks and then PBS had two days to showcase things. There were events, panels, happy hours, and parties. The commute to the Tour from James' wasn't bad, it took about half an hour in the morning and fifty minutes at night. And those days were LONG. I was there by 8 or 8:30 every morning and didn't leave to head back until after 8pm or later each night. Fortunately, every meal was provided, as well as multiple snacks.
with Lady Macbeth, a bird at the Playboy Mansion
Part of the Playboy Mansion
Hugh Hefner's duplicate star with a Playmate
Synchronized swimming in a rooftop pool
another shot of the swimmers
The first of five courses during Sundance's evening
Second course
Third course

me with the real Elmo puppet, being handled by the talented  Kevin Clash
Sadly, I had a totally of about four hours to catch up with James, whom I hadn't seen since Jonathan and I got married. We did get to share a little about what we've been up to and what's new, and I met his girlfriend. She suggested that, if I only had time to do one touristy thing, to head to the Observatory, as it offered some beautiful views and was nearby. I went with it and stopped by on my way out of town. I'm glad I went, and you can see those photos below. I'm also glad that I took 101 back - it was easier and less nerve-wracking as the cities were closer together... less dessert!
the Hollywood sign!
the city in the distance
look at the smog!
Griffith Observatory

Friday, October 28, 2011

San Diego Comic-Con, Part 5

(aren't you guys glad that I take copious notes all the time? How else would I be able to write about an event I went to months ago, LoL?)

I was so beyond tired by Sunday morning that I slept in until about 6:30am, then grabbed some of the free breakfast that our hotel had been offering but we hadn't been able to enjoy. I also took some photos of the view from the hotel room, which I had been meaning to do all week.
I got to the Con and was surprised at the line for my first pick of the day - "Archaia: The Early Works of Jim Henson." We were allowed to sit though, which was nice. The special thing about it was that they were going to discuss and show some of Tale of Sand, a graphic novel that was never finished. There was a ton of background, a lot of great questions, and we were encouraged to take photographs of the various scenes shown to us on screen. They also aired some of Jim Henson's early works, which were brilliant. You may remember that I saw some of his rare masterpieces a couple years ago

I took the next few hours to explore Exhibition Hall some more, then went to two back-to-back sessions on learning to draw cartoons. I felt that it was a good way to end my first Comic-Con experience. First, they taught Simpsons characters... specifically Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. Then, we got Peanuts characters, but the instructor rushed quite a bit there. We learned two stances for Snoopy, two for Charlie Brown, one for Sally, one for Woodstock, and the profile heads for Linus, Schroeder, Violet, and Lucy.

Captain Jack Sparrow... made of Legos

Peanuts heads
I took a long way back to the hotel so that I could see some more of the Gaslamp district. It was an area that I didn't get to last time I was in San Diego (Summer 2007). I got back to the hotel in plenty of time, and was able to catch an earlier shuttle to the airport. I even was also the only one in the van, so it was a nice, quiet ride. We hit no traffic getting there, and security was fairly quick. Shortly after I made it to the gate though, I began to get really tired. I changed into track pants and a sweatshirt and started writing.

I had a nice flight, chatting with the couple next to me who were also at the Con. It was late when I got in, and I had some trouble finding the car (while I was out of town, Jonathan got called to fly to Denver so he left the car at the airport for me), but made it home and fell asleep without much incident.

A few final pictures of the costumes...

from Avatar
the back of the Avatar guy