progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from Tilden Regional Park, basking in the orange glow of my new shirt:

 photo IMG_20170331_134624_zpsfigprdge.jpg


Speaking of “orange,” I applied henna to my hair over the past 24 hours. This is the first time I have used it in many a year. I was hoping for something more auburn, and fearing something more Here’s Lucy. I think I got something a little between the two extremes, but it’s still a little Tangy Citrus™ for my liking. Likely, it will mellow with time.

You don’t see it in the above image. That’s pre-henna. You’ll see the results soon enough. Meanwhile, my hair is super soft and exudes that henna smell (think really, really strong black tea).

The Beard & Moustache Contest is coming up this Friday. I was hoping to get a little cheering section going for my first ever competition.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from the innovatively-named Coffee Shop in Lafayette. I swear to you, I do things other than drink coffee!

 photo IMG_20170312_154934_zpsztbgjitn.jpg


Took advantage of the sunny weather and went hiking out to Briones on Sunday. I was down at the Lafayette Ridge entrance. It was popular in spite of the heavy storm damage to the trail. I found that if I’d just gone and taken the gravel service road I could have avoided all the landslides and junk. Duh!

Cutting this short, but I have an interesting announcement regarding the Weekly Puck which will come up later this week. Watch out for it!

Body Party

Mar. 7th, 2017 06:28 pm
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from Sacramento’s Tupelo Coffeehouse:

 photo WIN_20170304_15_46_47_Pro_zpsnqz1d1py.jpg


Since me moving to the Sacramento area looks to be a distinct future possibility, I’m still on the lookout for that indie coffeehouse I’ll fall in love with. And...Old Soul @ 40 Acres is still the winner for me, despite being in a rather sketchy neighborhood. Tupelo is in a much nicer area, but I’m not sold on it despite the Yelp raves. The coffee’s fine, but the “plenty of seating and outlets” I found rather wanting. Of course, showing up on “rush hour” on Saturday at a place right next to the College probably didn’t help, but the seating is a little more “communal” than I generally like. I guess it’s a generational thing, younger people don’t seem to mind sitting at tables next to a bunch of strangers.

Also: I was in town for a reason other than the job search; it was [personal profile] 2ndbanana’s [observed] birthday, so we had a big pizza and sundae party at his house. A delightful bear-y attendance; an extremely cute guy gave me a hug and complimented me on how “warm” I was. I thanked him, then began to worry if I was running a fever! Obviously not, considering I feel just fine!

Something new happened to me on Sunday: it was the first time I got hailed on when it was raining! Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring my hooded jacket, which did a fine job of protecting me from hailstones. I’m lucky to be in California, where we don’t get the proverbial “golf-ball-sized hail.” Tends to be about the size of rice grains whenever we get it. In any case, I lived. It was over at the Hillside Nature Area, and I concluded my hike with a visit to the El Cerrito Recycling Center’s Exchange Zone. Picked up some USB cables (mini/micro); not as glamourous as a Tascam dual tape deck, but better than nothing at all.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from Pinole’s East Bay Coffee, holding 12 ounces of the Elixir of Life:

 photo IMG_20170223_094710_zpsw8g89jqw.jpg


This has been a strange week. The whole interview thing was odd. It’s for a place I don’t even remember sending an application for, there was a mix-up with the scheduling, and it’s at the State Parks office near McClellan Field. That said, I have a better feeling about this interview compared to the others I’ve had. We’ll see. If not, I understand that they’re having another test coming up soon, so I have that to fall back on if this doesn’t come through.

In the meantime, I should call M___ and/or R_______ to see where I stand regarding working seasonally again. It’s looking like Mt. Tamalpais and not China Camp this year. Which is going to require some adjustment, but it looks fine for the present.

Didn’t get as much hiking done as I wanted to this week. The unsettled weather kind of threw a wet blanket on my plans.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from the shores of San Pablo Reservoir:

 photo IMG_20170211_135249_zpskfct4y5k.jpg


Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather! I thought I’d seen the last of my job interviews from this last batch of State testing, but I received a phone call from McClellan Park up in (you guessed it!) Sacramento only this morning. So next (not this) Thursday, I have yet another interview. Wish me luck.

Exploiting the break in the weather to get some hiking done. Not only the reservoir, though that was my first destination. The main access road to the parking area at Kennedy Grove was closed off from flooding. The waters had receded when I’d got there, but it was still closed off and had to use the alternate entrance over on Hillside Dr. You could definitely tell where the flooding had occurred, right below the spillway. If the fresh water marks weren’t enough of a tip-off, the dead fish in the road (sticklebacks?) sure were.

I’ve mentioned Kaleidoscope Coffee and their peanut butter sandwiches in previous posts, but (on account of the weather) I hadn’t used a trip out there as a pretext to hike in the Point Richmond area before. That changed this weekend. I went out to Miller-Knox before my jaunt to the café. Photographed Richmond’s poorly-publicized “badlands” (funny, even the park pamphlet doesn’t mention them). Hopefully they show up better in this photo than the last time I tried to take a snapshot of them, with the crappy Kodak digital camera:

 photo IMG_20170212_153716_zps17ydcp8q.jpg

Maracujas

Jan. 30th, 2017 07:20 pm
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from Point Pinole:

 photo IMG_20170124_151825_zpsffyh7j98.jpg


I haven’t been here in a while, and I’m impressed by the progress they’ve made with the “new” entrance! Looks like restrooms, picnic tables and a new parking lot have all already been installed! Haven’t checked it out from the other side to see if it’s open yet, but it looked great from the trail!

Kind of a light activity week. Mostly just tedious stuff like automotive maintenance: oil change and fuel additive. You know, spend a little now to avoid spending a lot later, that sort of thing.

Haven’t had any new job interviews yet, but I hope to hear from the people at the Franchise Tax Board this week. In the meantime, I keep haunting the State site to see if any new examinations have come up. Nothing. Spinning the wheels, in other words.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from a new favorite hang-out spot, Point Richmond’s Kaleidoscope Coffee:

 photo IMG_20170121_152607_zpsu5lvqwfs.jpg


Didn’t really feel like venturing far this weekend, for various reasons, so I was pretty hermit-y. [profile] bigjohnsf and Harvey (not on Social Media™) lured me into Berkeley for a dinner at Saturn Café, but that was about it. Haven’t done a lot of hiking on account of the weather.

Still in Expectation Mode on that full-time position with the State. Had another interview on Wednesday at the Franchise Tax Board in Rancho Cordova, but I’m not holding my breath on that one. It sounds like a pretty undemanding job, but it requires a Class B license. I’m pretty sure one of their other interviewees already has one. Oh well, looks like there’s another interview coming up in the coming weeks at least.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from Oakland’s Leona Canyon:

 photo IMG_20170114_161219_zpszclunylo.jpg


Nothing as cool happened to me this week as finding that free dual cassette deck. Still on the lookout for a vintage solid-state receiver to replace the much-missed Pioneer SX-1000TW. The ones I saw recently at Urban Ore (an overpriced Kenwood) and Hayward EcoThrift (an even more overpriced Toshiba with missing knobs and an early digital Hitachi, also with missing knobs) didn’t cut it.

Sunday was a long day in San Francisco, hiking around Mountain Lake again, a trip to Amoeba, then a brief stop at Maxfield’s (café) before dinner at Ken’s Kitchen (Chinese restaurant) with [personal profile] albadger, [profile] hardybear, [profile] scottasf, [profile] bigjohnsf and Jim Billy (not on Social Media™). Afterwards, John, JB and I went to Green Apple Books in the West part of town, then for dessert at the doughnut place down the street.

There’s another job interview coming up at the Franchise Tax Board in Sacramento on Wednesday. I’m not expecting much, but I figure someone’s eventually got to take the bait.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (my handlebar)
Self-portrait from lovely Cascade Falls, west of Fairfax:

 photo IMG_20161230_101419_zpsxbqdqh0x.jpg


So, a few changes happening in my blogging habits. You may have noticed this has been cross-posted from Dreamwidth. That’s #1 in my change. I’m migrating The Weekly Puck over here, too, which is why the last 2016 entry and the 2016 index have been delayed. They’ll be up presently, as well as the first 2017 entry.

Said bye to all my China Camp co-workers. Seems like everyone’s leaving there, at least all of their seasonal staff, as D___ (one of their visitors’ services guys) got another job and D___ (their other VS guy) had his last day on the 31st, the day I was moving out. Most of my stuff fit into only four Bankers Boxes, three of them were kitchen items.

As you can see above, one of my last Marin County hiking goals was achieved: Cascade Falls, which I think was the last Marin County waterfall I visited. I wanted to go back to Carson Falls, which I hadn’t visited in some years (probably on account of the drought in the intervening years), but since this place was new to me, I came here instead. The falls? They were OK. The area as a whole was more impressive, with the gorgeous, rocky creek canyon being the standout. I felt more like I was in Gold Country than in suburban Marin County. A nice cap-off to my work season.

Glad to say that 2017 has already been productive. Submitted virtual “paperwork” to the EDD to get the ball rolling on unemployment to cover my off-season, and also started on cleaning out my living space. Junked a pile of old electronics today, donating them to Thrift Town, including Blackbeard, my old home-brew workhorse Pentium III PC. Took out the hard drive (and floppy drive, who knows when or where I’ll find another one of those) and dumped the resulting skeleton. The original plan was to upgrade some of the components and reboot the OS, but that turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. When I am more financially solvent, I’ll build a top-of-the-line PC from the ground up. In the meantime, the General Miles laptop and my “silent*” secondhand Windows XP desktop will have to do. Cross your fingers that they stay working for the time being.

Also cross your fingers for me regarding my upcoming job interview on the 4th. This one’s in Half Moon Bay, and will be very good for me if I get it!

*I say “silent” because the video card audio drivers and the actual sound card drivers are in conflict, and I can’t figure out how to fix the problem. Again, turned out to be more trouble than it’s worth, especially since I intend to completely replace this PC.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from my Xmas Eve walk along Bayside Park in San Rafael:

 photo IMG_20161224_164803_zpscnjrtog0.jpg


I suppose you could call it A Tale of Two Christmases. My first was after work. J__, my co-worker, bought a whole mess of food and cooked it on his little Weber grill outside the maintenance shop. We spent the time waiting for things to cook telling off-color stories from our pasts. I had made a spice cake for dessert and brought that for the cookout.

The second was in San Francisco with John ([livejournal.com profile] bigjohnsf), Peter ([livejournal.com profile] hardybear) and Jim Billy (not on LJ). We went to Star India for Indian buffet and then went on a whirlwind tour of San Francisco Christmas light displays. It’s always a pleasure to see Peter, since I do so rarely these days.

Counting the grains of sand while I’m still at China Camp. It’s been kind of a rough and rocky season but in the end, I’m going to miss the place. What lies ahead is uncertain, but I trust something good is on the way. I do have an interview coming up, and a few “contingency” applications out there, so cross your fingers for me.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Kennedy Grove, in the hills above San Pablo Reservoir:

 photo IMG_20161011_152201_zps3huszjnx.jpg


The gears are turning. Haven’t sent my applications in yet, but that’ll be happening hopefully tomorrow. The prospect of full-time employment with a living wage is exciting, moving to a new place is also exciting yet scary. In the meantime...

People visiting the park just don’t want to let summer end! We had two weddings last week, plus a foot-race and a bunch of people going bonkers in the campground. Somehow, I still managed to get other work done (painted some fence-posts, excavated some culverts in preparation for the rainy season, etc.) despite all this. It’s beginning to take its toll on me, though. For some reason, this past week was more stressful than usual.

Plugging along with my music review series. I’d like to get back to work on Confirmed Bachelors, but my current scheduling doesn’t really allow for it. In the meantime, check out this promotional video, which is now a year old.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the slopes of Mt. Burdell:

 photo IMG_20160921_122329_zpswlb3gnsm.jpg


Mt. Burdell was my last hiking destination on my vacation last week. I definitely chose the right day to go out there; though the sun shone through clear skies, a cool breeze greeted me round every turn. Not so bright was my choice to visit the Corte Madera library later on. It suddenly chose to become very windy, knocking accumulated summer duff off the redwood trees and onto Chester A. Auto. So removing that became an annoyance.

Of course, returning to work meant I was roasting on an open fire. We’re getting that “Indian Summer” we get at the end of September/start of October every year and it just happened to coincide with my work week. Ugh! As you might guess, I’ve seriously been slugging back the water, probably drinking twice as much as I usually do. The thermometer in my car read 101°F when I reached the East Bay. It’s meant to cool down tomorrow, and I can’t wait!

Some good news: remember those tests I took in Folsom back in August? I passed! I’m in Group 1 of the Laborer test and Group 2 of the Skilled Laborer test. We’ll see if this results in any employment, but full-time can only be a good thing after sticking it out as a seasonal for three-four years. Wish me luck!
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the end of Tomales Point!

 photo IMG_20160917_124354_zpspr3e7c69.jpg


I worked Thursday and Friday, the rest of the past week has been all vacation days. I’ve been doing like my last week at Big Basin, using the park residence as a base for operations for hiking day trips. Tomales Point has been on my personal “bucket list” for a long time so, after an abortive trip here back in April of 2008 (when it was much sunnier than my day here, but the ice-cold ocean wind was so punishing, it felt like my ears would fall off!), it’s nice to finally get all the way to the end of the point. Totally worth it!

Also went out to Tennessee Cove south of Mill Valley, and on a picnic trip out to the Pulgas Water Temple with [livejournal.com profile] bigjohnsf. Tonight I’ll be taking Carol out to dinner and tomorrow? I haven’t decided just yet. Maybe up to the top of Mt. Burdell if weather permits (i.e.: if it’s not too hot). Then back to the grind on Thursday. In the meantime, checking in on J___’s cat while he’s off at training. I still have yet to see the fabled cat, but I know he’s there, as evidenced by the empty cat food dish and disturbed cat litter box.

Got a lot of work done on my Second Hand Goods review series of all the #2 hits. Which you can read at my other blog. And in other computer news, R.I.P. my old laptop bag. It had begun to fray near where the shoulder strap connects, so it was only a matter of time before critical failure. I found a new one at Thrift Town that works for me, so at only $4, I jumped at the chance to get it.

The main problem with the old one was that it was emblazoned with the logo Andersen Consulting. The new one is an Intel bag, which I find ironic and funny, as my laptop has an AMD processor!
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from San Pablo Reservoir:

 photo IMG_20160712_151325_zpsp78dezxr.jpg


The first self-portrait with the new phone! Not the first one I took, but the first one I’m posting. Sorry about the glare, you can’t even tell there’s a lake behind me! Nice tall pine trees, though, huh?

Crazy work week. On Friday a woman came up to me frantically asking about a bag she left up by one of the picnic tables. I told her I probably assumed it was garbage someone had left and threw it out. This was also garbage day, and the truck had just come to haul away the trash. Turns out, she was with the day camp program and the bag contained the kids’ tie-dyed shirts. Meanwhile, she was on the horn to the sanitation department, hoping they could find the bag.

Fast-forward to after lunch, when I remembered I didn’t dump my trash at the dumpster in question, but at another one where the trash guy had already visited. So the bag was still at the bottom of the dumpster. I fished out the bag and delivered it to her and she was so happy, she did a little jig with me. I handed her a couple of rubber gloves to handle it with, as it was covered with barbecue ash and who knows what else after sitting at the bottom of a dumpster for two hours.

And this story is still not over! Saturday, I’m at Fairfax doing laundry. I’ve just shoved my dirty clothes into the washing machine when this woman comes up and asks me, “Do you work for the parks service?” Turns out, it’s the same woman, at the laundromat doing laundry with her two sons. Small world, eh?

Still waiting on the new case for the Nexus 5. It has to ship from China so it won’t be here as quickly. In the meantime, I need to be extra careful with my case-less phone. I definitely didn’t photograph the Fairfax civic fish pond!
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Prettyland Terra Linda-Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space, one of my favourite names for a parkland, incidentally:

 photo IMG_20160526_172104_zpsfucek8dx.jpg


Odd week. After I shot this portrait and came down off the hill, I wound up at the library at the Civic Center. Wound up chatting with [livejournal.com profile] snousle, who was in town with Ray. They invited me over to join them and buy me a drink. And we watched a band for a while. Not something I could have done casually (and on a Thursday, of all nights!) at Big Basin!

Both of my roommates left this week. Not only did they leave, but they left a mess of their stuff behind. The kitchen utensils I don’t mind (I could always use more pots and pans and an extra pour-over coffee brewer) but the food? I see a large amount of clean-up in my near future.

Speaking of “large amount of clean-up,” the holiday weekend may not have been as crazy as it tended to be at Big Basin, but it was still crazy enough. It was another case where I was worried that I would run out of places to throw all the garbage, as the dumpsters were all full. Part of me just wishes that people would take all of their camping equipment with them, instead of throwing it away in the park when they leave.

[livejournal.com profile] albadger gave me his old turntable, an MCS 6603, to replace my venerable workhorse Realistic LAB-450. One of the channels dropped out on the LAB-450, and I found out that the cartridge was the culprit. And I discovered it costs upwards of $80 to replace. The MCS needs a new needle, which is all of $15. Far more in my budget, so thanks, Al. I offered the Realistic to J_____, one of my now-ex housemates, but it was too rich for his blood to fix it up, too. I get the feeling I’ll be dumping it off at Goodwill (or some other thrift store) for someone looking for a fixer-upper in the near future.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Santa Margarita Island Preserve in San Rafael:

 photo IMG_20160521_174052_zpspnadm0zt.jpg


So I discovered this little park when I was waiting for laundry to dry. Who knew it was walking distance from the laundromat?

Not as “exciting” a week as last week. The camp showers were fixed and while there were events at the group picnic site, there didn’t seem to be a a booze theme, which is a relief. The only thing notable was the amount of trash generated, probably as there were an unusual amount of visitors to the campground.

I made a video, which not many people saw, as I seem to have set it friends-only at first. I fixed the error!

Keepsake

May. 16th, 2016 06:30 pm
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the bayside, on the beach near China Camp Village:

 photo IMG_20160515_163539_zpsvxpxsygg.jpg


What a week I’ve had! Those days where I’m the only maintenance staff on duty are...interesting. Especially since before 9 AM I am the only park staff on duty! So when a car got stuck in the marsh (and I don’t mean two wheels like last time, the entire car was sunk in the salt marsh!), I was the only staff to witness it. That’s definite Visitor’s Services stuff, though, so I was glad it sorted itself out by the time I returned to the area.

Not so the dead jackrabbit I found in the middle of the road the next day. No, that was my job to deal with! Too big and heavy to deal with a pogey stick (like you do with dead squirrels and smaller rodents when you find them), I wound up having to invert a garbage bag and do the “picking up dog poop” thing. That was Saturday, the same day as something called “Ales and Trails.” Which meant every lush within a twenty mile radius flocked to the park in search of cheap alcohol. Which meant cleaning up after them the next day.

And the excitement did not end there! Sunday after the main clean, but before lunch, M______ and I found ourselves looking for a task to occupy our time, so we decided on weed-eating the area around the shop and residences. Then J__ came back asking us to take A-frames and caution tape to a place near the main entrance where there was a sewer leak. The campground needed to be temporarily closed while the water guy came down from...wherever he came from to help fix the problem.

I don’t imagine all my weeks will be this exciting, but you never know.

Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] bigjohnsf and [livejournal.com profile] albadger invited me to join them in Berkeley for dinner. It happened late, so I had lots of time to kill. I wound up waiting out the fallout from an accident on the bridge by walking around Baltimore Canyon west of Larkspur for a bit and poking around the Barnes & Noble before finally making the East Bay crossing.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Port Costa, my mother’s home town:

 photo IMG_20160411_162201_zpsdmual9zn.jpg


The curse lurking over my attempts at trying to hike in the Crockett area seems to have been lifted. I walked from the Bull Valley Staging Area to the town of Port Costa today. This is the town where my mother grew up, it’s one of the few real “small towns” left in the Bay Area proper.

Just in time, too, as I finally start working at China Camp on Saturday. I’ll be doing the walk-through of the housing on Wednesday, with me moving stuff in probably on Friday. We’ll see how it goes.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the Crockett Library, whence I am composing this post. Sorry for the frumpy look:

 photo IMG_20160328_190108_zpsms2se8wx.jpg


I shouldn’t get over-confident with regards to facial hair symmetry, as I’ve been having drooping issues again of late. And with a Beard & Moustache event coming up! Oh well, I don’t have any intention of competing, I am just there to support/meet up with [livejournal.com profile] aadroma.

My attempts to go hiking here in the Crockett area have been met with failure each time, for one reason or other. This time it was rained out, even with a little hail! I managed to get a little street walking around town in, but my original plan to hike from Eckley Pier out to the town of Port Costa is out. Oh well. Is this some kind of curse?

Finally got a copy of Love Has Many Faces, a rather infamous Lana Turner vehicle from 1965. [livejournal.com profile] albadger and I wound up watching it on Friday. It’s very quotable, in particular any scene featuring Ruth Roman or Hugh O’Brian, who between them steal the show from Lana’s legendary “million dollar wardrobe.”

Hoping to hear from the park soon. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the lovely City of Pinole, showing off my new cap, which I just found by the side of the road on Panoramic Way in Berkeley. A trip through the washing machine later, I have a new addition to my wardrobe:

 photo IMG_20160212_163504_zpsihzkdahx.jpg


Weird week. I suppose the highlight was a trip up to Sacramento for a job interview. Sort of “was this trip really necessary?” as I’m pretty sure I didn’t get the job. Oh well, at least I got to visit [livejournal.com profile] 2ndbanana and [livejournal.com profile] bobobear12.

Dined with Birthday Boy™ [livejournal.com profile] scottasf, [livejournal.com profile] albadger, [livejournal.com profile] bigjohnsf and Jim Billy (not on LJ) in Oakland’s Jack London Square on Sunday. Nice to see Al before his abandoning us for Europe for the better part of a month.

Took some time off for a lengthy hike through the hinterlands today, in the watershed in between Sobrante Ridge and the town of Hercules. This segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail crosses Pinole Valley Road and passes what must be the squeakiest windmill in the world. Somebody please ascend this structure and blast it with a can of WD-40!

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