I’m The Mayor!

Mayor badge

When I get over here I got hooked on a phone app call `Foursquare` where you check in at different locations for points, kudos and even financial discounts.

As you check-in at a location more than anyone else you become the `mayor` of that place.

Well, I’m pleased to say, I got my first Mayorship!

Yay!  I’m the Mayor of… my local bus stop to work!  Start low… aim high J

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Happy Anniversary

Mendocino Plate

5 years ago, on February 3rd 2007, I got married.  This was probably the best day of my life.

As is customary on these occasions we decided to celebrate it by heading out of town for a weekend break in the country.

Our chosen destination was the former logging town of Mendocino, 200 miles north of San Francisco.

Perched on a cliff bluff Mendocino has a wonderful setting and offers the kind of view that makes you go ‘wow’ when you first see it.  Strangely enough, it may be somewhere you’re already familiar with – it’s the location where the TV-show Murder She Wrote was filmed.

view of Mendocino

This time of year is whale migration season.  From the shore we could see a constant stream of them spurting water into the air through their blow holes.

So what better way to get close to them than to head out on a fishing boat and see them close up… well, it seems Whales get shy as you get close and decide to play hide and seek…  we didn’t see any Whales close up but we did get some great shots of Seals, Sealions and Dolphins.

Sea lions

 

 

 

 

And, of course, allowed plenty of time to dip into my own personal outdoor hot-tub at the hotel!

January

January:  Back-to-work.  Wet.  Cold.  Snow.  Dark Nights.  Skint post-Xmas-hangover.

I’m used to January being pretty darn grim so imagine my surprise to find January in San Francisco refreshingly different!

For the last two weekends I’ve been basking in 18-20C temperatures, eating al fresco lunches under blue skies, picnicking in the park, cycling around the bay in t-shirts and even hanging out at the beach in shorts…  It does not feel like the January I know.

Apparently this isn’t normal.  It’s supposed to be cold and wet here too.  However, this not normal weather has been the norm for months now…  Winter just seems to have forgotten to come just yet…  I’ll raise a glass to that (from my outdoor hot-tub under sunny blue skies!)

Flying Time

My neighbors are in their Eighties and came to the USA from the UK in the late-1940s.  It took them a “couple of weeks” to get here by ship.  Today I completed the journey door-to-door in 15 hours – and that was with delays.

It still amazes me how small the world has become through air travel. For me travelling 6000 miles in a day was simple compared to how it must have been just 50 years ago. This is a quick summary of how I did it:

I arrived to the airport…. had a tasty breakfast… boarded a plane…read the paper…read my book (Murakami’s 1Q84)… watched an appalling movie called Contagion (deadly-virus-threatens-to-wipe-out-man-story-yawn)…watched a funny movie called Hangover Part 2 (just like Hangover Part 1 really, equally as funny)…watched an entertaining movie called Crazy, Stupid, Love (Hmm, very American Beauty)…Looked at the amazing ice formations over Greenland and Northern Canada out of my window (very Frozen Planet but real-life versions)…watched another movie about Apes taking over the world set in San Francisco…ate some disgusting plane-food, oh, and all whilst being served red wine, beer and tea in my seat.

All in all, I was home in time for tea with my `booty` from England intact:

I hate to think how my neighbors endured the journey – I doubt they have Australian Shiraz on tap either…  If I’d taken the Ship option I’d probably just be sailing round the Isle of Wight by now… 🙂

I’m Dreaming of a Grey Christmas

With weather like this – thank god for Xbox!

London

London.  I’ve loved it, I’ve hated it, I’ve certainly lived it.

As a London-tourist for the first ever time in my life this was a great chance to catch up with old friends, favorite boozers and warm British ales…

After all, there is one thing Britain does better than anything else:

 

 

 

Politics

American politics is truly sickening.  Currently we’re in the middle of the Republican (opposition) party electing their new leader to face off with Barack Obama in November 2012 for the WBO Heavyweight Title of the year title of President of the USA.

Day after day I’m shocked how low these supposedly respectable people can sink to ensure votes.

In the last week I’ve heard:

  • Lies and complete fallacies about Palestine and even Palestinian children by the despicable Newt Gingrich to secure ‘the Jewish vote’.   Why oh why all Jewish people in the USA feel obliged to support the most anti-Palestinian candidate is beyond me.   Think for yourselves Jewish people of American – and don’t believe their hype!
  • Rick Perry accusing the government of betraying Christians by including moral standards on where the USA gives aid.  The standards in question?  Requesting states do not conduct violence towards homosexuals.  What “Christian” planet does this guy live on to encourage violence against anyone??
  • Michele Bachman seemed quite normal for a while… til her rampant racism, homophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-everything views came out.  Now she’s an irrelevancy.
  • Mitt Romney.  Hey, he’s a multi-millionaire pro-banking lobby guy.  Back to the norm then huh?  As a ‘slick guy’ he has powerful backers and is a likely candidate to Obama.  This week one of his backers offered Gingrich $1m to drop out to ensure Romney wins.  Clean contest huh?

If it was X-Factor it would be sickening to watch, but with the added weight that one of these nutters may become President is thoroughly scary.

It makes having an Eton public-school boy fop for leader look (almost) palatable!

The Ewok Trail

Before California was `discovered` by the west, a tribe of Native Americans called the Miwok lived in this part of the world.

Fishing, hunting, scalping westerners… doing all the things Native Americans did before they picked up our viruses and were offloaded to `reservations` for their `safety`.

Hmmm, before I get too cynical with what became of the Miwok’s I’d better get to my purpose – the Miwok Trail.

Across the Golden Gate are the Marin Headlands.  Only 3 miles by road… it feels more like 300 miles as you plunge into wilderness.

The hiking and mountain biking across here is wonderful.  You may recognize the name `Marin` from the mountain bike company that sells bikes across the world.  Mountain Biking was actually invented in these environs.

We didn’t get on bikes today but did take in some wonderful scenes by foot.  Here are a few samples of the views:

And as for ‘Ewok’s`?   Well, George Lucas used to be a resident of this area before he made Star Wars.  It does make you wonder if the Miwok’s did perhaps influence George in the naming of those fluffy teddy bear critters…

December

Christmas in the UK starts in August.  Well, it feels like that.  By September shops are decorated with Xmas bunting, by October the Xmas songs have started and by November you’re usually sick of the whole damned thing.

The US has a much better approach to the almighty festival of commercialism.

Due to Halloween in October, and Thanksgiving in November there is less of a vacuum to fill.  This means the Christmas build-up only really starts in December.

Now it’s started and I’m loving trying to feel Christmassy in shorts, t-shirt and sun!

Here’s our tree for 2011 from conception to decoration:

Tourist Town

San Francisco is a hugely popular tourist town.  Every day the tourist hordes can be found milling along the top of the bay and getting in the way of the hardened locals like me.  🙂

This Post-Thanksgiving weekend however has been bliss.  No tourists!  No people come to that either… as many people head out to visit family.

So without the tourists – what better time than to be a tourist yourself?  That’s what we did by hiring a Go Car for the afternoon.

Go-Car – “the Story telling car” – is really a 3-wheeled trike/moped that directs you around the city and tells you interesting nuggets of information as you go.

Today I learnt that:

  • OJ Simpson went to Galileo High School which is right behind my house (and where the kids from there regularly smoke weed in my doorway!)
  • Alcatraz is THE most visited landmark in the US
  • Lombard Street isn’t the most crookedest street in SF – this one in Potrero Hill is.

A good fun way to see the city – though petrol fumes and getting beeped at by SUV’s does take it’s toll after a few hours!