6 July 2010: Independence Day update

Summer 2010

Friends, I hope you had a good holiday. After meeting Janice’s middle sister Shelly and her
family
in Worcester, Massachusetts, the previous weekend, Janice’s parents and the family of her youngest sister Melinda arrived from Upstate New York on Saturday, 3 July 2010. Brother-in-law Gary had never visited our current duplex in Needham Heights, Mass.

Janice took Melinda, their parents Linda and Marvin, and our niece Amanda to the outlet mall in Wrentham, Mass. I drove Gary and nephew Joshua to the New England Comics and Newbury Comics in Norwood (I’ve got some reading to catch up on). We then walked around Legacy Place in Dedham. I also played a stripped-down version of Marvel HeroClix with Josh before reuniting for a good dinner of barbeque (sloppy
Joes
).

On July 4, we all went to Kimball Farm northwest of Boston. It had a range of attractions for families, including food, a craft shop, animals, and bumper boats. There was something for everyone, including miniature and “pitch and putt” golf, as well as an arcade. The weather was warm, but it didn’t slow us down too
much. Janice and I left her folks after dinner at T.G.I.Friday’s and made it home in time for Needham’s fireworks.

Melinda had to leave early on Monday for Amanda’s swim class, but Janice’s parents joined us for a pancake breakfast, Needham’s annual parade, and lunch at Wild Willy’s Burgers. The food theme continued after they left, as Janice and I ate leftovers and watched Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations on the Travel Channel.

Unfortunately, we missed the Minuteman Model Yacht Club’s “Independence Day Open” regatta
on Rosemary Pond. My Pathfinder: Holy Steel/Dragonslayers” teleconferencing team and the face-to-face
role-playing gamers didn’t meet this past weekend, but we hope to get back on track after assorted scheduling disruptions. As I’ve recently posted, we’re gearing up for a new adventuring party in the virtual fantasy group and my “Vortexspace opera campaign.

23 May 2010: San Francisco sightseeing, continued

San FranciscoI’ve already blogged a bit about my trip to San Francisco for a work-related conference and my review of the latest Robin Hood movie. On Saturday, 15 May 2010, I took a taxicab from my hotel across the Golden Gate Bridge, which was swathed in fog. My driver was a Mongolian immigrant who took me to some overlooks, and I decided not to take a cruise to the former prison of Alcatraz. The weather was cool and damp, but I enjoyed strolling through the streets of San Francisco and looking at the varied architecture.

After being dropped off at Fishermen’s Wharf, I looked at souvenirs and the sea lion colony at Pier 39, saw historic warships on Pier 45, and ate some fresh crab and shrimp. I also sampled chocolate at Ghirardelli Square and was shown art by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Felix Mas at the Martin Lawrence Galleries.

I then took one of San Francisco’s famous cable cars past Lombard Street (the “crookedest in the world”) up to the Cable Car Museum near Nob Hill, which is similar to Boston’s tony Back Bay. Unfortunately, my recyclable camera ran out of film just as we reached that high point and as the sun came out.

San Francisco also has electric trolleys, buses, and a subway (BART). At the edge of the
Tenderloin, or onetime red-light district, I stopped in at the Beat Museum and had a good lunch of garlic-infused ravioli at The Stinking Rose, a restaurant recommended by David I.S. I walked down the steep hills to the upscale shops of Embarcadero (near the Transamerica Tower) and to busy Chinatown. At Yuet Lee Restaurant, I ordered noodles and dumplings.

After walking through the shops of the Westfield mall and Union Square looking in vain for a summer fedora and cheap blue jeans, I later took the 71 bus to the hippie
neighborhood
of Haight-Ashbury. I enjoyed the colorful people and, of course, independent bookstores such as Booksmith, Comix Experience, and GameScape. The combination of street musicians, boisterous youths, and liberal sensibilities reminded me favorably of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but with a more casual
vibe.

On Sunday, May 16, I had brunch at Mel’s Drive-in, a diner that Dave had also recommended. After catching part of the festivities and costumes (or lack thereof) around the annual Bay to Breakers Race, I took a shuttle bus to the airport. I raced through security and was put on standby for an earlier JetBlue flight than the one I
was originally scheduled for, but ended up just waiting for the later flight home.

Coming soon: Catching up on comics, genre television, and games!