So I dunno why, but last week generally sucked. I was feeling tired pretty much all week for I-have-no-idea-why. Just mentally and physically tired. Weak-ass cold? Undiagnosed allergies? Freaky fatigue? I dunno. It actually happens from time to time, but rarely for a week together. I'm going to see if I can get a referral to an allergist next time I see my doc, within the next month or so, to cross that "i".
But the week was subpar as a result. I did some research for _Designers & Dragons_ and some writing for the D&D Histories. But I just biked once (on Tuesday night, up to Temescal) and even opted out of gaming on Wednesday.
This weekend was mother's day, and we'd arranged to spend the weekend in San Martin with the Wiedlin family. We'd actually been planning this for over a year as a weekend get-together. I think it was a great idea, as we don't spend that sort of compressed time with the Wiedlins like we do with Dad & Mary, as we don't vacation to San Martin, so I'd been looking forward to it.
The main thrust of the weekend was theoretically board games. There were to be 7 of us (Mom, Bob, Jason, Lisa, Rob, me, Kimberly), and that's a slightly awkward number, but I managed to pack the big gym bag I used to carry with me to Endgame with 6 + 7 player games (under the theory that not everyone would be playing all the time). Kimberly brought a couple as well.
Unfortunately, Kimberly ended up largely unable to game, while there were many other times when my mom, Bob, or Lisa sat out for a game. We never got everyone to the table at the same time, so I could have focused a bit less on the magic "7" number. We played a good variety of stuff: _San Juan_, _Shadows over Camelot_, _Bohnanza_, _Winner's Circle_, _Samurai Sword_, and that may have been it. _Shadows_ was the one when we got almost everyone to the table; sadly, we lost (or, I suppose Lisa the traitor won).
There was also some great food to be had. Fajitas on Saturday night and a terrific breakfast of blueberry pancakes, bacon, egg, and terrific chicken sausages on Sunday morning. We ate the dinner on their recently built patio and it was really nice. Breezy and just slightly cool, pretty much the perfect weather (and a particular combo we get rarely up here in Berkeley because it drops so quickly from warm to cold most nights).
There was also lots of great talk. Jason, Rob, Lisa, and I talked a couple of hours into the evening on Saturday, something that I don't think we've ever done all together. All about TV shows and books, from stuff we read in high school to _A Song of Ice & Fire_. Kimberly, my mom, and I also had nice talks on Sunday morning as the rest of the house slowly roused.
The house is totally comfortable for everyone, which is no surprise because it's 2500-3000 square feet, I think. We had a really private room on the far west side of the house. Sadly, I didn't sleep that well, dunno why. Even after I finally fell asleep, I was then woken by hungry dogs at 7am, who thundered down the hallway outside. I do think I was the only one of the "kids" who got a shower on Sunday morning, though, so that was a plus.
We left earlier than I'd expected, on Sunday afternoon, in part because Kimberly wasn't up to the tripvisitas it turned out. Still, it was a good day (and a bit more), and something I hope we can do again.
I'd already scheduled today off work, because we'd planned to be in San Martin, and I figured even if that changed I wanted a day to recover. Turns out, that was a good idea. I was feeling overwhelmed but various emails last night that weren't even problems, but felt like they were. And I napped yesterday afternoon when I got back. Then I napped again yesterday evening before the Survivor finale. Then this afternoon too. Yep, tired, but less overwhelmed by the world now.
I did get out a little today too. Had lunch at McDs as some time to myself, then biked down to Cesar Chavez Park, when I hadn't been too for a while. I parked on the northwest corner of the park for a while, which has beautiful panoramic views of the Bay. Just gorgeous, with San Francisco and Marin both feeling like they're practically in your lap. There was a layer of overcast running along the middle of everything out west, sadly, but it was still nice.
I sat there for a while reading and started work on my first new history for the '00s book, but it was too cold and windy (especially windy) to work there comfortably for long, so I returned home via Black Oak Books and the new Southside Library and then (as already noted) napped.
Black Oak disappointed me. I'd noted previously that they were marking hardcovers at online prices, which generally meant marking them way down rather than trying to get 50%. It endeared me too them. Now they're doing the flipside and marking their used comic TPBs way up, I have to assume also based on prices they see on the internet. So most of their TPB costs ran from 70-130% of cover, which just pissed me off, because it felt like they were ripping their customers off. I almost bought some Scalzi paperbacks, but ultimately decided not to even pick up their $.50 _Sword of Shanara_ because I didn't want to put money into their pockets based on their newest business decisions. So, probably not going back there.
The new Southside library is nice. Not necessarily that great from the outside, but the inside is beautiful with tall ceilings and lots of windows. Makes it all look so much airier and more welcoming.
And that was the 3-day weekend in this corner of Appelcine land.
Today I rode up to the top of Vollmer Peak. Well, to be fair I walked part of the way up to Vollmer Peak, but I rode much of it. It's in the southeast corner of Tilden Park, and at 1907 feet is the tallest hill in the Berkeley Hills. Practically a mountain, if you use the British definition that puts them at 2000 feet or higher. Just 93 feet short, alas. I could have managed another 93 feet.
I rode into Tilden by my usual route, through the north, then along the beautiful Wildcat Canyon Road. After a break in the Botanical Garden, I headed into South Tilden, which I'd never been in before.
The road rises some 600 feet in what looks like less than a mile. Hence, the some-walking. I actually went off-road onto a trail for much of the distance. That was quite pleasant, walking through the woods (with occasional riding) on very steep ground. I saw quite a few newts over the course of the day, who are quite common in south Tilden in winter and spring. I also saw a quite small black snake slither across the path ahead of me, but I'm going to pretend it was just a really long newt with no legs.
Once I exited Tilden to the south, I circled around to the Steam Trains and gawked at them for a while. Surprisingly tiny! Then I biked and hiked up to Vollmer Peak. I was particularly astounded by the beautiful views looking east over San Pablo Dam and Orinda on the way to the Peak. Just Gorgeous, and clear all the way out to Mount Diablo. On the opposite site, nice views of the Bay that were particularly panoramic, but I've seen many of those, and it was overcast enough in that direction that I couldn't make out the Golden Gate Bridge at all (alas!).
Afterward I headed home by taking Grizzly Peak Boulevard to Claremont, which brought me almost straight home once I dropped into the neighborhoods. A really nice ride going down practically all the way (which was my hope!). I think I rode it all at 20-25mph. Sadly the ride isn't as good going up because of the steepness (which is alas why I don't yet take this route into the hills despite being straight behind my house).
Apparently I've now seen the three tallest hills in the Berkeley Hills. As I said Vollmer Peak was #1 at 1907 feet. Round Top in Sibley is #2 at 1761, and I went as high on that as the path would go, I think. Grizzly Peak is #3 at 1754, and though I've been near the peak of it both in front and back, I've never been up to the peak, because I didn't realize it was right there on Grizzly Peak Road. I think I saw it today and it was maybe 25-50 feet up. Some other day!
I've also now ridden the Berkeley Hills continuously from the northmost entrance to Tilden Park to the southern edge of Joaquin Miller Park (though I've never been in Joaquin Miller Park, just skirted it). Not all in one day, mind you, but it's another cumulative thing, like my Bay Trail rides. Continuing on in both directions *is* on my TODO list.
So, some nice riding today, but also some nice yard work, some nice reading, and some writing for all of DnDClassics.com
, Designers & Dragons: The Column
, and my Mechanics & Meeples
We saw _Shipwreck_ tonight at the Shotgun Theatre on Ashby. It's the second play in Stoppard's revolutionary Russia trilogy -- and thus it's a bit of a tricky thing, as the middles of trilogy often are. Whereas the first play dealt with philosophers learning their craft, the second saw them become revolutionaries ... who saw revolutions (in France and Germany) fail. It was a clear setup for the third play, where one presumes they'll take their lessons learned in Europe (don't trust the bourgeois) and use them to ignite a true peoples' revolution in Russia.
Like the previous play, this one was clearly divided in two, and that was probably more troublesome than the fact that the play couldn't have any true conclusion. The first act was mostly about philosophy and the second act was mostly about relationships (the philosophy having failed). As a result the first act was talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. It reminded me of Stoppard's _Invention of Love_, which I similarly thought failed due to too much emphasis on talking about ideas.
Here, the second act redeemed the first, because you could better see that philosophy in the scope of the whole play and in the scope of these peoples' lives: jow it'd kept them from their relationships and their realities (in act I) and how those came bursting back when the philosophy failed. However, it was a trudge getting there.
I also missed the look at a real family that we saw in _Voyage_, full of people with well-described characters. I got a similar feeling of camaraderie from these young (male) philosophers in _Shipwreck_, but I didn't get as much a feel for who *they* were, because they so often hid behind their ideas.
It was overall an enjoyable play, at least after the second act, but not as good as the first. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to the third part, and am sad I have to wait a year. K. and I will surely have to brush up on all the characters when we get there!
Today was the annual Board Game auction at EndGame. I *always* use it as an excuse to get unused games out of my house, but this year I found myself a bit challenged, as my percentage of great games that I want to keep has crept up year-by-year, thanks to the annual Endgame filter. So, I set myself a target of getting 20 games out of the house this year, and made that. I'll pick up a little bit of cash for selling those off the next time I make it to Endgame.
But today I went to see if I wanted to *buy* any games. I've been doing this for the last 4 years or so, and I've generally stayed for a couple of hours, and bought somewhere between 0-2 games. Which was what I did today. I picked up Fast Flowing Forest Fellers
by Friedemann Friese (which I gave an 8/10 on BGG when I played it three and a half years ago) and Rune Age
(which will give me something to write about for both deckbuilding and cooperative design stuff that I'm working on).
I was quite pleased, because those were both "A" list games for me -- not just stuff that I bought because it was cheap. (Though definitely cheap: $13 for the still shrink wrapped FFFF and $11 for the Rune Age; yes, you should go to the board game auction at Endgame if you're in the Bay Area.) I left around 12.30. While there (mostly before the auction) I also got to spend some enjoyable time talking to Aaron, Andrew, Bob, Eric, and other Endgame folks -- which is the other joy of the auction.BIKING.
It's really not going to surprise you that after Endgame (and lunch) I headed out and did some biking. I've long wanted to head up into the hills from downtown Oakland, since I've done the reverse a few times. Today I did. First I circled around Lake Merritt and it was *so* nice to see that you can now traverse the south side of the Lake without having to go out to the streets. I think that's been a mess for the 10 years or so I've been regularly visiting downtown Oakland. (Sadly, the paths down to the estuary aren't open yet, though they looked done; I'll have to visit that another time.) After that I took a road called Trestle Glen up into the hills.
I was pretty amazed that the second I hit Trestle Glen, the houses got really nice. (And the housing prices seem to reflect that.) Very nice houses, nice neighborhoods, lots of foliage. The entire street is a long incline too, though not too terribly steep. I was getting tired as I rode, but not horribly so. Then I entered Piedmont, and suddenly the road turned to very steep. I alternatively walked and rode various bits from there on up. (I've learned through my hill riding that walking stuff that feels overly tiring can keep me from exhausting myself.)
Exiting Piedmont, I entered what's apparently called the Oakmore area of Oakland, looming over the Dimond Canyon. My new road up there was Leimert (after crossing the historic Leimert Bridge
). This was quite attractive too -- and I got to see some really nice views of the Bay, the further I got up. They were pretty neat views too, because they framed Oakland's downtown right in front of San Francisco's downtown, a juxtaposition that I don't usually see.
Eventually I made it toward the Montclair area and headed up to Shepherd Canyon. I didn't ride the whole trail, but I did ride far enough to find a bench, where I read and ate dark chocolate. It was nicely shaded and there were wonderful breezes. Very pleasant! I eventually finished Swamp Thing vol. 2
and that it was back home for R&R for the rest of the day.WRITING.
Well, mostly R&R, as I'm now back to work on _Designers & Dragons_ (and have a few more writing projects, besides). Back on Tuesday I started on the various administrative tasks I'd accrued for _Designers & Dragons_: getting illustrations (covers) in order, making some tweaks to articles based on recent events, etc. I'll continue with this for several more days, then next weekend or so get started on some real writing for volume 4.
Looking back at my journal, it looks like it's been almost three years since I broke any major new ground on my ride-the-bay-trail plan. Wow! I'd thought it was all the work on Designers & Dragons ... but really I slowed down a few years ago when I'd finished all the easy (e.g., accessible) stuff!
Today, since I'm on "spring break" from my Designers & Dragons work, I decided to head out and do something new. My plan was to cover some of the Trail along San Pablo Bay, expanding the riding I'd previously done up to Point Pinole.
For the early part of my journey I BARTed to Richmond (under the theory that I'd minimize the work to get to these distant locations), then biked up to Hilltop Mall for lunch. I always forget how much of a hill Hilltop is on! Of course I made things even hillier by going up to Fairmead Park, a kind of poorly upkept, poorly used park in Richmond that's way up on a hill. But I like to see parks when I'm out and about.
From there it was to Hilltop Mall which was a fun and nostalgic trip because I went to malls a lot when I was growing up. Eastridge and Valley Fair and others. They were my prime source of books and RPGs. Hilltop sadly is a shadow of its former self. Karate studios and barber shops have moved in, presumably because higher rent stores have moved out. But there were bike racks outside (to my surprise) and lunch to be had and even Mrs. Fields' brownies to buy and take with me.
From there it was up San Pablo Ave, the prime bike route through the area (though not a particularly good one, except in Hercules, which did have nice bike lanes). From there I branched out to the next three Bay Trail bits, all northeast of Point Pinole.
My first stop was Pinole Shores Regional Park. It was the longest bit of Bay Trail at about a mile, and also perhaps the most attractive. The park was curiously isolated, accessible only from Pinole Shores Drive. From there it went two directions. To the west it overlooked San Pablo Bay and gave you a feeling of beachy seaside. Surprisingly, it was very different to the east. Though it stayed near the shore, it was heavily wooded, so that most of what you saw was green.
One of the biggest troubles with the Pinole-Hercules part of the Bay Trail is that it's all disconnected and also mutually inaccessible. Thus the Pinole Shores Regional Park had no outlets, except via that one Drive. It got worse as I headed further northeast, and entire neighborhoods had no outlets, except via San Pablo Ave, so you'd have to go all the way back out there, then along it, then back in to get to the next neighborhood (which might be just a short block further along).
I next came to Historic Downtown Pinole which was an attractive little town. The Pinole Creek Trail took me (back) toward the Bay from there. I love creek rails, because they remind me of ones that I rode as a kid. This one did not disappoint. At the end of the trail, the Bay Trail itself looped around Pinole Bayfront Park. It was nice enough, and I sat there for a while enjoying the Bay and my Mrs. Fields Brownie. Another arm of the Bay Trail then ran along the railroad. I road that for a while, then found it turn into an unofficial dirt road, which I continued on until I emerged into what were now Hercules neighborhoods.
I should note that the neighborhoods were on a generally increasing gradient from when I left Richmond BART (scary, scary neighborhoods!) until when I turned around in Hercules. The first Hercules neighborhoods that I met past the railroad Bay Trail were not my favorite because they looked a lot like Main Street USA in Disneyland. Very artificial looking and inauthentic. I also wandered around some bio company just past those houses which reminded me a lot of where I used to work in Mountain View, with the way that it was right on a Bay with little paths to wander toward it that the employees probably never use. Mind you, it also seemed to be one of the biggest culprits at keeping the nearby neighborhoods (and I suspect Bay Trail) separated.
I'd planned to turn around here, but I was still feeling good, so I looked up Bay Trail maps and found one more neighboring segment of trail out near Victoria Crescent on the north end of Hercules. It was basically just a trail fronting the fanciest homes I'd seen the whole trip (and very, very attractive ones with lots of balconies and other fun stuff, unlike that Main Street Street crap). The trail was nice, and it was a good end to the Bay Trailing.
I later learned that I'd come to just the edge of Rodeo. As far as I can tell from the maps, that's pretty much where the last Bay Trail segment ends. In fact, it looks like the next Bay Trail is the San Pablo Bay Regional Trail in Crockett. (Boo, Rodeo!)
(Except Rodeo does have some so called "Unimproved Bay Trail" on San Pablo northeast of Hercules, which is a fancy word for "road without bike lanes". I don't count it when I'm trying to ride the whole Bay Trail, because it's really not.)
In any case, From Victoria Crescent I headed back southwest on San Pablo, which is also called the I-80 Bikeway up there. And it's a pretty go Bikeway through Hercules, less so elsewhere. I made a brief stop in Village Park, because it's housing that's all colored green like it were a park. But, that's just BS and shame on Google for buying into someone's crap. It's an entirely soulless condo complex where the common grounds between houses are all entirely grass, but there's actually not a lot of it, and more notably no one uses it. Heck, there aren't even paths to walk around the grass. It's just pretty scenery for when you're driving to your soulless condo or away.
When I got back to the Pinole Creek Trail I took that into Pinole Valley, then over to the city of San Pablo where I rejoined the I-80 Bikeway, which took me here and there all the way back to El Cerrito del Norte.
I'd be planning to take BART home from there, but was still feeling pretty good, so decided to keep biking. That might have been a mistake, as the Ohlone Greenway is still a trainwreck in El Cerrito. I gave up about after about a mile and just took surface streets (which unfortunately required more hill riding, which did finally start to tire me out) until I got to El Cerrito Plaza. They're now claiming August 2013 for El Cerrito trail completion, for what little that's worth. Albany is now better, as their last two missing blocks are easily detoured around (though they still haven't relandscaped most of the path they upgraded). Berkeley is done. I was pretty tired when I got home, though mostly only when I tried to bike up a hill.
Total ride was 40 miles, which makes it one of my longest few rides. It was easier than I expected for the length, which suggests my hill riding of the last year is helping more than on hills. I later jumped my total for the day to 43.5 miles when I went out to pick up groceries about 1.5 hours after I got home.
My Bay Trail completion now runs from Fremont up through Hercules, where previously it'd stopped at Point Pinole. I've also ridden on the west side of the Bay from the Golden Gate Bridge to SFO. Maybe I'll expand a bit more sometime this summer ...
Saw Guys & Dolls
today at the Berkeley Playhouse
. It was a decently good musical, but not one of my favorites.
The leads were all quite good. Angel Burgess was superb as Salvation Army Sgt. Sara Brown; she really stole the show whenever she was singing, not just because of her voice, but also her terrific acting & choreography. Carmichael Blakenship as Sky Masterson was also quite good and Sarah Mitchell won me over as Adelaide when she did a beautiful duet with Sara. (Generally; Sara's actress brought out the best in everyone she acted with).
The musical is quite old-fashioned, originating way back in 1950, and unfortunately the director choose to go with very old-fashioned staging. There was lots of dancing of the sort you're probably more familiar with from West Side Story
, lots of yelling, and lots of jumping around and running around. It was stuff that looked to me like it might have come off well on a large stage in a large theatre, but in the much smaller space of the Julia Morgan Theatre it came across as loud and overly bombastic.
Mind you, I think it was also the director who brought out some of the great performances in the actors. He pushed really hard on physical humor, and sometimes that came across well.
The story is about guys and about dolls and their different takes on relationships and life. Some of that
comes across as really old fashioned too, but it turns out that the musical is in part mocking it. Thus I was shaking my head a little bit after the first act and smiling more after the second act (which includes a funny song called "Marry the Man Today" which is all about how you shouldn't try to change your man before you marry him ... just do it afterward). I'm not entirely sure the irony was all in the same place in 1950, but I think it being there at all is what keeps the play relevant to this day.
Overall, I liked the second act of the play considerably more than the first. The first act had a beautifully choreographed dance in Havana and a funny song called "If I were a Bell" which is full of hilarious metaphors — some of which are probably more hilarious than they were intended to be 63 years ago (like, "if I were a salad I know I'd be splashing my dressing"). But it was also pretty slow in parts.
The second act is much tighter from top to bottom (other than an annoying crapshooters' dance) and it ends on some great songs: "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" and "Marry the Man Today". And I've learned that "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" is an 11 o'clock number
, meaning a big reenergizing song toward the end of Act II that points the way toward the conclusion and may offer up a big change of heart — so now I know more about musicals.
Overall, I would have said Guys & Dolls
was a "meh" musical if it were all like Act I, but I thought it was decently good after seeing Act II; I just wish it had been staged in a more modern way and in a way more appropriate to a theatre of this size.
Since I'm taking a few weeks off from Designers & Dragons, I was thinking about taking a long, adventurous bike ride today of the sort I haven't been doing since last summer. Alas, the weather conspired against me. I woke today and it was threatening rain, gray, humid, and too windy. (My least favorite riding weather: cool + humid + windy and today was trending in that direction.) Adding that on to a busy-ish weekend, and I decided to push my adventurous bike ride to next week. I've got some maps printed out for riding along part of the Carcinas Straight.
I did still ride today. I went up to Albany Hill, and once I'd ridden to the bottom of the park (which was a lot less trouble than on previous trips), I decided to hike the whole park, something I hadn't done before and had wanted to. I just had to lock my bike among thorny plants to do so. (Sigh! I have the same issue at Temescal. Park folks: give bicyclists places to lock bikes!)
Albany Hill Park was generally attractive, though I'm sad that the eucalyptus trees have been allowed to grow wild and block most views from the park nowadays. (Planted by a dynamite factory that used to be there!) I was a somewhat surprised to find a big electric cross on the southeast side of the park, it being public land and all. I looked it up when I got home, and discovered (as I'd guessed) that an easement for it was part of the agreement when the land was made into park. (I also discovered that much of the south "park" is actually private land, though there's pretty much no division.) It was very pleasant up on the hill, and I even got a few minutes of sunlight while there. I sat up there and read (by the cross) for quite a while.
Then it was home again, home again. Total ride was only about 10 miles. I was surprised to also learn that Albany Hill is only about 299 feet at its summit. I guess that matches with the effort to ride/walk up it ... but it always seems as tall as the East Bay hills when you see it. (Perspective.)
The rest of the week was mostly low-key reading and writing. Though I'm not working on Designers & Dragons I have been catching up on other stuff — including board game reviews. I also ran Kingmaker on Saturday. We've thankfully gotten back to something like a regular schedule. (Next game in three weeks, tho, due to EndGame auction on the 20th.)
And I (finally) started out taxes Saturday night. Bleh. Got most of the way through, just excepting stock-related stuff (as our broker's site was amazingly partway down on Saturday evening, which seems like pretty horrible timing) and health-related itemizing. The health stuff is unfortunately still going to take some time, but it proves worth it more often than not. I'll get back to that tomorrow.
And sadly, we'll probably owe money, now that the $400 a year everyone was getting as tax rebates has ended.
It has been a very
busy week. Beyond the regular work-week, that is. I spent much of my "free" time working on finishing up the third Designers & Dragons
book, focused on the '90s. It got heavy attention on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday night — then I did some marathon writing and editing Saturday night and finally finished it today. Whew! 132k words total.
And then there was one.
You'll likely have noticed that I left out Wednesday and Thursday from my worknights. On Wednesday that's because I was off watching The Coast of Utopia: Voyage
Thursday's busyness was unfortunately less benign. That afternoon I went down to the co-lo mainly to swap some memory in one of our machines. Unfortunately I found that two others were experiencing problems. When I was moving around one whose power supply had died, I accidentally knocked out a third machine's power cord. And it's power supply died too. Aggh! So I was down at the co-lo from like 1.30 until 6, with problems just stacking up. Chris came and rescued me so that I could attend my Thursday night gaming session (since it was too late too cancel). Fortunately he'd also managed to turn up a spare power supply, which we swapped in after the gaming. It was still a loooong
Thursday was Kimberly's birthday, but we'd agreed that she was going to spend it with friends (a good thing, given my troubles of the day!), then she and I celebrated it on Saturday.
On Satuday afternoon we took some salads & wraps (and chocolate) up to Tilden Park and enjoyed some lunch and a little bit of a walk through forest trails to Lake Anza. Very nice. It was a bit gloomy when we got there, but it cleared up nicely (and didn't start raining until the evening).
That evening we also went to a special place for her dinner: La Mediterranee. I had the most delicious quiche, then I had delicious Ici ice cream afterward (mint chocolate chip), something that I'd never tried before. And then I discovered that I'd found my current limits for dairy, even with Lactaid, as I was sick much later in the night. Ah well, still great food.
Today I did part of my writing up at Lake Temescal — apparently making the tour of Berkeley lakes. As is often the case when I'm up there I found the editorial work really light and productive. Good and useful changes came to me easily and intuitively. But the ever-threatening weather finally sent me scurrying home, where I finished Designers & Dragons: The '90s
after dinner. Whew.
Mostly been relaxing since, which is very nice. I'm in fact planning to take a few weeks off of Designers & Dragons
, as I've been working at the new edition for 9 months and am feeling a little burned.
Of course in the meantime I need to do our taxes, catch up on my reviews, write the most recent AP for my Pathfinder
game, run another Pathfinder
session, get some games out for the Endgame Auction, and get ahead on DnDClassics. But I should still be able to relax more than normal. Seriously.
And if the weather allows & no late-season colds come knocking at my door, I'm also going to try and go for a long and new bike ride sometime before I get back to work. Maybe in San Francisco. Maybe up past Pinole. haven't decided.
I've decided I have until Tax Day, then it's back to work on the final book, Designers & Dragons: The '00s
, which I've got lots
of new material planned for.
Went out to the Shotgun Players Ashby Stage today to see The Coast of Utopia: Voyage. It's the first time we've seen the Shotgun Players in years, and I think only the second time we've been to their Ashby Stage. We'd seen a play there several years ago about anarchists (The Shaker Chair, I think, in 2008) and we found its ideas and sympathies so off-kilter that it put us off the troupe for years.
Voyage is a play by Tom Stoppard that's also the first in a trilogy. Kimberly and I actually have a long history with Stoppard, having seen his Indian Ink at ACT as one of our first "real" dates. We've also seen performances of The Invention of Love and Rough Crossing together. We were, I must admit, quite leery about this one as his previous play The Invention of Love went over the top in its historical detail to the point that it was at best semi-comprehensible and we were afraid that this story of Russian philosophers in the 19th century would head in the same direction.
Happily, we were pleasantly surprised. It was quite an enjoyable play with an interesting cast of characters. We got to see their philosophy both when it seemed ridiculous and when it seemed serious, and Stoppard pointed out how it sometimes made sense, but sometimes not. The entire play was also laid out in an intriguing parallel structure where we saw scenes in a familial home over the course of a decade in Act I then saw some interrelated scenes in larger Russia during approximately the same time period in Act II. This all helped to underline the existence of two different worlds, and really made the play thoughtful.
Voyage was originally put on by Shotgun last year, but they returned to it for a few showings this year because they're leading off the year with Shipwreck, the second part of the trilogy. Kimberly & I are definitely going to see that and are also considering season tickets for Shotgun Players to add a bit of balance to our currently musical-heavy theatre-going.
Today was my 41st birthday. (Sigh!) However, I biked 20.5 miles for it, which I consider an accomplishment (especially since the first part of that involved a ride up to 1400 feet).
Early in the day I made my first ride up upper Tunnel Road since my sickness. I made it all the way up to Sibley Volcanic Park (it took some work!), and this time I decided to ride the Ridgeline Trail, which I had failed to ride in December or so because it was horribly muddy.
Well, it turns out that the ride wasn't a lot easier in the absence of mud. It's really a horribly laughable "multiuse" trail. Several bits of the 0.9 mile trail are virtually unridable due to extremely bad maintenance and extreme grades. (I'd see a sign that said "Downgrade; reduce speed" and I'd get off my bike because it meant "So steep that you will die" in at least some of the places.) When 0.6 or so miles in I hit a creek cutting across the path surrounded by (wait for it!) mud, I just had to laugh. I carefully skirted several muddy patches after that, then I just started saying "F*** it" and riding right through.
I should say the trail was a very attractive wilderness ride ... but one I won't be doing again.
At the other end I descended to Fish Raunch Road ... and suddenly discovered that I was in Orinda, looking over the back end of the Caldecott Tunnel. I let out a woot as I've been wanting to get over the hills for ages, then realized that where I'd gotten was entirely worthless. There's literally no way to get the rest of the way down the hills into Orinda if you're a bicycle (or even if you're riding a bicycle), because the only route downward goes to 24.
So instead I went up Fish Range Road (300 feet of ascension in about a mile), mostly walking because it was somewhat steep and I was tired by this time, then came back down on my side of the hills via Claremont (very fast!).
It was a proper birthday adventure, and a lot of fun other (perhaps) than that Fish Raunch trudging.
Today's other riding was down to the Bay and along the Bay Trail with Kimberly. Our destination was Chevy's. I had tasty pork fajitas and a strawberry margarita the size of my head (practically the only alcohol I've had in years, but I'm no longer taking Nortriptyline whose efficacy can increase with alcohol, so I felt able to let loose with one large, tasty, and slightly intoxicating drink).
Fun times. Good food.
The other major birthday happening of the weekend was the visit with the Wiedlins yesterday. They came up for dinner (after my afternoon RPG). There was good company, excellent vietnamese food, and good ice cream. It was a nice evening, even after the busy-ness of roleplaying day (which involved biking to Oakland and back — which I suppose brings my birthday weekend biking up to 30+ miles).
I got a weed wacker birthday present from the Wiedlins, which is more exciting than it sounds, as it's cordless, and the stupid cord is perhaps 50% of my hatred for weed wacking. I suspect it's a much superior model to the crap I had too.
I've also done a lot of writing & editing for Designers & Dragons over the weekend. I think I've got a rough plan in place that will get the third book done on the 31st, when it's due, but we shall see.