opera tix

Feb. 3rd, 2013 11:43 pm
auros: (SF Opera)
Così Fan Tutte: SF Opera info, My ticket ad
Tales of Hoffmann: SF Opera info, My ticket ad

Feel free to pass along to friends who might be interested.
auros: (Expect Me)
My office suite has two light switches near its front entrance that control lights in the common area of the space.

Turning on one switch by itself turns on a few lights. Turning on the other by itself turns on a few other lights. But then there are a couple lights -- the ones I actually care most about, because they're directly over the sink, and all the other lights are shaded by my body when I'm standing there cleaning out my mug, or whatever -- that only come on if both switches are on.

This is ludicrous. What electrician would do such a thing on purpose? I can only assume that the electrical wiring is actually tracing out Enochian sigils, or eldritch runes. We're working in a building designed by Ivo Shandor. When some Elder God comes bursting out of the basement to devour humanity, immediately before I'm driven mad, and eaten, I'll experience a grim sense of satisfaction at having at least anticipated our collective demise.
auros: (Abelian Grape)
Turkey emoji:

_\∞̬̑/_

I'm using the &#xWXYZ; construct, where WXYZ is four hexits. In this case, 221E (infinity sign), 0311 (combining breve above), and 032C (combining caron below). I'd wanted to do a turkey emoji or emoticon the other day in a GChat, and hadn't been satisfied with any of the things I came up with, and then just now it occurred to me to look at the combining-diacritic codepage.

That's just the kind of dork I am.
auros: (Sequoia)
This image (taken by Ben Canales; and I saw it on Bad Astronomy) is the kind of thing I've always thought of in connection with Byron's "She walks in beauty, like the night." The awe inspiring beauty of the universe, and the beauty of my beloved, are close kin -- the macroverse rhyming with with the microverse.

big image! )

pretty hike

Sep. 2nd, 2012 08:01 pm
auros: (Sequoia)
Since these things tend to fly by on Facebook (where I posted this link earlier), I thought I'd put it here, as well: Xta and I took a hike by Crystal Springs Reservoir, from 92 down to the Las Pulgas Water Temple. Three panorama shots, and a number of other photos, can be found here. It was quite a warm day, so when I was originally uploading stuff I was kinda feeling icky with the sweat and sunblock. Happily, I am now all showered clean.

CatTV

Aug. 14th, 2012 07:07 pm
auros: (Curious Kitten)
Some silly little brown bird (maybe a sparrow of some kind? we have hordes of them around our house, anyways, and they sometimes roost under the eaves out front and leave droppings on the hood of my car :-P ) just flew SMACK into the window of the office / guestroom, kinda wobbled / hovered for a sec, then flew back into the bushes on the other side of the walk. Hoshi and Keiun, who are sitting on the futon, have HUGE eyes now, and Keiun is chattering. "Do it again, daddy, do it again!"
auros: (Apricot)
For anyone who attended our wedding, the amazing fruit that went into the apricot maple cake is now available at CJ Olson's in Sunnyvale. I got a ten pound flat yesterday. :-)
auros: (Dem Donkey)
President: Barack Obama. I think he has taken much weaker positions in many negotitations than he could have, failing to grasp just how radical and intractable his opponents are. And I am mystified and disappointed by his Justice Department's failure to uproot Bush policies on torture and spying. But side from those two things, I think he's been an excellent president, and his record of achievments in his first term arguably is far longer and more impressive than Clinton's was in his first term. (For starters, Clinton failed at healthcare reform, and for all that the Affordable Care Act could stand to be improved, it passed, and will do tremendous good for millions of Americans.)

US Senator: I still kinda hate DiFi. The Bay Guardian put it well: "She's a moderate Democrat, at best, was weak-to-terrible on the war, is hawkish on Pentagon spending (particularly Star Wars and the B-1 bomber), has supported more North Coast logging, and attempts to meddle in local politics with ridiculous ideas like promoting unknown Michael Breyer for District Five supervisor. She supported the Obama health-care bill but isn't a fan of single-payer, referring to supporters of Medicare for all as 'the far left.' But she's strong on choice and is embarrassing the GOP with her push for reauthorization of an expanded Violence Against Women Act." I'd also add that she's bad on progressive taxation -- back in '06 one of her friends / fundraisers / advisors made some public remarks in favor of Schwarzenegger over Angelides on the basis of the idea that rich people are over-taxed, and DiFi didn't make a peep to contradict her. However, there doesn't seem to be any credible Dem running against her in the primary (I considered Mike Strimling, but he seems kinda over-wrought), and she'll certainly go along with the party line on the most important bills (even if, unlike Barbara Boxer, she'll never actually be a champion of them), so, meh, I guess I'll vote for her.

US Rep, CD 14: Jackie Speier. Speier has a long and admirable history in state and national politics; repeating it here would be redundant.

State Senator, SD 13: This is a tough one for me, because I really like both Sally Lieber and Jerry Hill. Sally has a great history of work on legislation dealing with poverty issues, especially at the intersection with childhood development, education, single motherhood, etc. Jerry served on the California Air Resources Board, and has been an advocate for our region's cleantech industry. After some consideration, I've decided to go with Jerry, because, as I've remarked before, I think the legislature needs people who have his kind of technical expertise. Also, just in general, I have more direct experience with Jerry, who has been my Assemblyman for the last couple years; I've had very positive interactions with him and his staff. I have nothing bad to say about Sally, and every time I've talked with her I've liked what she had to say, but I haven't actually been a constituent, though Xta was before we moved in together. In any case, if she wins, I'll still be happy with the outcome.

State Assembly, AD 22: Kevin Mullin, who's the only Dem running.

County of San Mateo Board of Supervisors, District 4: Shelly Masur. This was another difficult one. There are two other candidates I seriously considered. One is Warren Slocum, who served for many years as the head of the county's staff (clerk / assessor / recorder), and as far as I know is widely seen as having done a competent job in that role; however I'm really not impressed with his campaign for the supervisor office; he doesn't seem to have done a lot to stake out clear positions, and hasn't collected any notable endorsements that I can see. The other is Memo Morantes, who did a much better job than Masur at laying out his positions on his website, and specifically mentioned in his statement for the voter guide one of the local policies I care most about (support for electrifying the CalTrain corridor and ultimately bringing through a high-speed rail route to SF, even if there's a Palo Alto / Menlo Park / Atherton crowd who insist on being whiny NIMBYs about it). OTOH, Masur also does support the "blended option" for high-speed rail (which is to say, use of the CalTrain corridor -- this seems to be the consensus position except among local politicians in a few of our wealthier towns), and she has a list of very strong endorsements, including the local party (which I've been involved with before, and generally like, and their endorsement works pretty well as a proxy for "she must largely agree with me on the stuff where Morantes has done a better job publishing his takes on issues like the local jail, high speed rail, etc"). Morantes got Speier's endorsement, which is certainly important as well. Ultimately, I'm deciding on the basis of the fact that Morantes is opposing Measures T, U, and X (he says he's in favor of finding new revenue, but dislikes these particular measures). I am in favor of them, and I worry that he is trying to court votes from anti-tax voters in general (which is a dangerous road to go down, because if you're dependent on those people, you can basically never vote for any revenue). I understand his arguments against, but disagree, and I'm having trouble finding any stronger way to differentiate between him and Masur.

ETA 6/1: In a late-breaking development, the Friends of CalTrain organization sent out a questionnaire on transit issues, the results of which are here. As of this writing, I'd say Masur's answers are the most persuasive; Morantes hasn't responded. I'm feeling reassured about my choice to go with her.

Prop 28: Yes. This changes the term limit structure for the legislature from "six years in the Assembly, eight in the Senate" to "up to twelve years total across the two houses". I'm opposed to term limits in general. As President Bartlett put it: The Constitution already gave us term limits; they're called elections. Legislating -- especially leading a push for major reforms -- is a difficult, complicated job. It takes a long time to learn to do it well, and to build up the relationships and alliances that are necessary to get a complex bill passed. If you believe that big issues sometimes require big solutions, not just small, piecemeal, uncomplicated adjustments, then you pretty much need to have at least some legislators who will work on those issues over the course of many years. Under our current system, by the time a legislator has learned the ropes enough to even start working on such things, he has maybe four more years to get stuff done. Furthermore, the constant churn through the Capitol enhances the position of the lobbyists, who are a permanent long-term presence. So: I'd much rather see us scrap term limits altogether. But still, this changes the system so that people go from the "farm team" of lower offices to a longer period in one house rather than to a really short stint in the Assembly and then maybe the Senate. It also should reduce the problem of feuds between Assembly members who are eyeing the same Senate seat.

Prop 29: Yes. Raises the tax on cigarettes from $0.87 to $1.87 per pack, to fund cancer research conducted in CA. This will move us from being one of the lowest-tax states on tobacco, to kind of the low end of the middle of the pack. It will still put us far short of the level where I'd expect to develop a major black market / tax evasion problems. (New York, at $4.35 a pack, has serious problems with people buying cigs in other states and then bringing them to NY for illegal resale.) I'd prefer it if they let the money go into the general fund, b/c I'm not a fan of ballot-box budgeting, but frankly, even if they were going to take all the money collected from this, pile up the cash, and have a nice bonfire, I'd vote for it solely for the Pigovian benefits.

Measures T, U, and X: Yes. These impose taxes on businesses operating in unincorporated San Mateo County -- vehicle rental, hotels, and commercial parking, respectively. These are all taxes that cities can and do take advantage of, but which currently you can mostly avoid if you operate in an unincorporated area. These taxes are more about restoring parity between the cities and unincorporated areas than really about "new" taxes. Furthermore, the usual crowd of anti-taxers have been particularly disingenuous in their campaign against these measures, e.g. trying to mislead people into thinking that T is a general "car tax" that would affect personal vehicles.
auros: (Kiss Xta)
Benu.
auros: (WTF?)
You've seen clips of Mitt Romney's big Michigan speech, right? The one where he's going on in a faux-emotional voice about how much he luhrvs Michigan, because "the trees are the right height", and he loves cars, and so on.

It struck me that the tone of the speech is a dead-on match for the tone of a guy who is dating a woman who has kids, and doesn't particularly like them, but is trying to fake it, because he really wants to get into mom's pants. "Do ya like baseball son? I love baseball!" The desperation to find some point at which he can at least fake a connection is palpable. Even little kids can detect that kind of fakeness. So the question is: are Republicans smarter than a five-year-old?
auros: (Curious Kitten)
Because I needed a Keiun icon.

We got collars for the cats today; will have to post a link when Xta uploads the photos. We hadn't been doing collars for quite a while, but decided that really they ought to have tags, especially the ones that certify their vaccinations, so folks know they're safe. We got little engraved things with my cell number, as well. I hope it will never matter. Also, I hope Keiun will get used to hers; so far she doesn't like it. Hoshi, surprisingly, has been totally OK with hers. She hated the one she wore for roughly ages 0-3.
auros: (Default)
A photo of this waterfall, in more or less this same condition, was part of how I originally pitched the idea of going to Spain for our honeymoon. As I recall, Xta asked me whether there would be any snow in Spain, so I went googling for photos with "Spain ice", "Spain snow", and "Spain winter"...

Las Cascadas del Río Cuervo

Obviously the person is included in this photo solely to give you a sense of scale, not because it was totally awesome to creep out and touch the giant 9-foot-long icicles.

When we were starting the hike, there was a family (British?) coming back down. Their daughter, who was probably about 10 or 12, was carrying a javelin-length icicle in her mitten. Now that's parenting I approve of.
auros: (Kiss Xta)

I'm pirating this from stuff I originally wrote up for our travel agent, then adding more detail that may be more of interest to friends, especially if you might be visiting some of the same cities...

Edited to Add: Xta added a few good thoughts down in the comments. Also, since I mentioned I was writing this for our agent, I should mention her: Laurie Valdez of Peak Travel was extremely helpful in planning the trip, even working through the last few itinerary details outside regular work hours so Xta and I could sit in our living room and talk things through with her directly rather than going back and forth in email. We found her through the Better World Club. (Which I also recommend in general -- it's like AAA, except not evil. AAA funds lobbying against public transit, cleaner cars, etc. If you join BWC, get our member number, I believe there's a referral credit.)

for length )

I think that about covers everything. :-)

Next time (probably at least ten years out, sigh), we want to get back to see the progress on Sagrada Familia, then visit the Euskal Herria, and San Sebastian and Bilbao -- there are no less than four of the World 50 up that way -- Mugaritz, Arzak, Martín Berasategui, and Asador Etxebarri -- as well as of course the Guggenheim Bilbao. Then maybe we could go back south and actually see Segovia and Toledo (and I could also add that I'm interested in getting to Salamanca and Zaragoza), then go down south for Seville, Cordova, Málaga, and Cadiz... And of course we still wouldn't have gotten to the northwesternmost area, with places like Gijón, and all of Galicia, which has its own dialect and culture (Gallego) like Catalunya... It turns out that Spain is kinda big.

Nomz.

Feb. 11th, 2012 11:54 pm
auros: (Apricot)
I've finished annotating the photos from El Celler de Can Roca, which placed second on last year's World's 50 Best list. And I can see why.

Interestingly, although it's certainly expensive -- the most we've ever paid for a meal, by a substantial margin -- while we were in Madrid, I had an email from one of the coupon services offering a discounted seating at some up-and-coming place in the Mission that just got awarded two Michelin stars. The price for this place, even after the discount, would be more than what we paid for El Celler; and I'm not even accounting for tax and tip. This place is clearly commanding a premium simply for being the hot new thing; there is no way it can possibly justify such a stratospheric cost, solely based on food quality. In any case, after running those numbers in my head, I decided there was no reason to go, and so I forgot the actual name.
auros: (Apricot)
I have finally finished writing in descriptions on photos from Espai Sucre, the "dessert restaurant" that Elizabeth Falkner told us we needed to try. It was awesome, and I can see why she's into it. We are kind of taking today "off" from running around seeing sights, and just chilling out at our friends' house in a suburb of Guadalajara, the city with too many As.
auros: (Abelian Grape)
...at least to my mind, is "hace [tiempo]". (Incidentally, "tiempo" can translate as "time" or "weather". I'm thinking about time here, even though you also can ask "¿Qué tiempo hace?" to ask what the weather is.) You get things like: "¿Cuánto hace que está construyendo esta valla? Hace una semana que él lo construye." Literally, this translates to something like, "How much does it make, that he is building this fence? It makes one week that he builds it." Idiomatically, it's more like, "How long has it been since he started building the fence? It has been one week since he started constructing it."

What gets me is the fact that both verbs involved are in present tense. My understanding is that the nature of the "hace [tiempo]" construction does require that whatever you're asking about continue to be true into the present time; you're attaching an earlier starting date to something that can be thought of in present tense. So, you can say, "Hace tres mil años que el Rey Tutankhamun lleva muerto." It has been three thousand years that King Tut carries* deadness. This conception sorta helps make it work in my head, but I still find the construction strange. Even stranger than subjunctive, and don't get me started on how bizarre I find the use of subjunctive. (In particular, how come I don't use subjunctive with "creer"? When I say, "I think that X", I almost always mean that I believe it, but am not certain of it. If I were certain of it, I would simply state proposition X. So why do we get indicative with "creo que X", but subjunctive with "espero que X", I hope that X.)

If you want to talk about something that isn't true anymore, I'm pretty sure you have to use something else, like "[tiempo] atrás", which you might translate as an amount of time aft; "X está detrás de Y" says that X is located in a place behind Y, whereas the "a" particle in "atrás" gives a sense of movement and directionality, towards the back. To say "I spoke Spanish pretty well fifteen years ago, but I've forgotten a lot," I use, "Hablaba español bastante bien quince años atrás, pero he olvidado mucho." I think this is pretty good idiom, but I'm not entirely sure. I don't suppose anyone out there is a fluent enough speaker to comment on this? (Maybe [livejournal.com profile] kragen and [livejournal.com profile] paisleychick?)

* "Llevar" can mean "to carry" or "to wear", but it can also be used with adjectives like "muerto", dead, and "casado", married -- although that one almost always gets used in the plural, casados, for obvious reasons. These days some of y'all might even be llevando casadas. Hooray for diversity! :-)

ETA: Rosetta stone gives some examples where they use a preterite verb with "hace [tiempo]", and they appear to mean ago. ("Mis abuelos se casaron en África hace cien años," appears to be "My grandparents married each other in Africa one hundred years ago.") So maybe at least in European Spanish that's the correct form? Blargh. I got taught kind of a mix of European and American Spanishes, because I had teachers who'd learned different ways, over different years of school. And then I forgot most of it, so it's all a bit of a muddle... :-/
auros: (Kittens)
El gato está en el lavabo.

Complete with adorable picture. Like these. Very cute, if a bit bittersweet.

Yo tenía una gata a quien le gustó mucho estar en el lavabo.
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