progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from the Marin Headlands, between Sausalito and Tennessee Valley:

 photo IMG_20170322_150127_zpsb69dto2f.jpg

So it’s officially official: I will be working at Mt. Tamalpais State Park this season. Met up with M___ and we did the “walkthrough” of the place where I’ll be living. I say “walkthrough” in quotes because it’s just a small RV, with barely enough room for walking. There also seems to be an issue with the water, so there’s even more of a reminder of my years at Big Basin. It’s OK, I have a few other irons in the fire right now, and am hoping that I’ll finally get a full-time position this year.

Crossed the straits over to the surplus store in Vallejo to get a new pair of uniform pants. My uniform allowance finally showed up, and I used the sunny weather today as an excuse to make the trip. Also combed the thrift stores there, wound up coming back empty handed on that front.

Did I tell you I found a CED player? The store I bought it at, surprisingly, didn’t have any discs* so I had no way of testing it. I found a disc of Semi-Tough elsewhere, but the test is still...inconclusive. The disc emerged from the player BROKEN, so whether it was the player’s fault or the disc was that way to begin with (it was in pretty sad shape!) is yet to be determined. I need to find a way to get into this thing all the way; the compartment on top (to replace the stylus) opens, but it looks like the actual lid is held on with hex bolts on the underside. I’m guessing RCA really didn’t want users trying to service these things!

*I say “surprisingly” because usually when people unload these things, they also drop off their entire video collection, which means a huge stack of CED video discs.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from the bayshore near Rodeo:

 photo IMG_20170320_152335_zpsoxprophv.jpg

So it’s confirmed. I start up working again at Mt. Tamalpais State Park...soon. I talked with M___ on Friday over the phone and we’ll be doing a little walkthrough of the park and a visit to the trailer where I’ll be living on Wednesday. More info as it develops.

Also confirmed: my ticket for the Moustache & Beard Contest in Sacramento in April. I’ll be competing for the first time ever! Wish me luck!
progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from Pinole’s East Bay Coffee, holding 12 ounces of the Elixir of Life:

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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:

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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 (Default)
Self-portrait taken during the annual New Year’s General Shafter pilgrimage at the National Cemetery. I didn’t exactly miss it last year, but it was terribly delayed on account of construction. So I’m glad to have made it in timely fashion this year:

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Rather disappointed by my performance at the Half Moon Bay interview. I don’t think I did very well. I get the feeling I’m perceived as this clever B.S. artist who’s book smart but doesn’t have a lot of practical experience. Oh well, it was a nice trip out there, even if it was gray and drizzly.

I have another interview at the Franchise Tax Board (again!) in Sacramento next week. I was supposed to go down to Lake Perris for an interview this Wednesday, but that is so totally not happening for myriad reasons. We’ll see if Henry Cowell calls me back.

I did have the most remarkable thing happen to me this week. I went to the El Cerrito Recycling Center and wandered around their Exchange Zone. This used to be the Book Exchange, but people began dropping off more than just books (records, videotapes, toys, etc.). Anyway, I was just standing there, minding my own business, when someone who I insist must have been at least part ninja dropped something down right at my feet and ran off.

Tascam 302

That, my friends, is a Tascam 302 dual cassette deck. Now, I’ve been combing the thrift stores for a replacement for my ailing Pioneer CT-W300 for a while now, but I absolutely never expected to find something so high-end for free! I tested it at the test plug using a L’oiseau Lyre Bach cassette someone had left, and all the functions seemed to check out (though I was unable to check out the sound, lacking headphones). In the meantime, a guy was hovering over me, forced to wipe the drool from his chin.

Took it home and tested it out, this time with headphones. And yes, it really works! The sacrificial cassette was You’re All I Need, a 1988 EMI Manhattan release from former Labelle vocalist Sarah Dash. In fact, the title song is a duet with her ex-groupmate Patti LaBelle. Rather appropriately, I found this cassette as a freebie a couple of years back at the exact same location!
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:

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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 ([ profile] bigjohnsf), Peter ([ 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.


Dec. 19th, 2016 07:03 pm
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
As I’m now counting down the days that I still have it: self-portrait from just outside park housing again:

 photo IMG_20161217_161608_zps5vabzqm7.jpg

What an adventure the past week has been! First of all, good news and bad news. They’re actually the same news: my interview at Half Moon Bay has been postponed. Since I botched the interview for the Sierra district, it’s good that I have extra time to study. I need to make this count!

And I get the distinct feeling that the people who scheduled the interview looked at the weather forecast and thought, “we can’t have prospective employees driving around in that!” So I went to work in the pounding rain instead! Fun! And L___, a park aide from S. P. Taylor, was along for the ride. I was to show her around to familiarize her with the park and the cleaning routine. But we got pummeled by rain the whole time. Eventually, J__ sought us out and told us to come back to the shop, where he’d built a fire. She and I played games of hangman until it was time for her to drive back.

And on Friday, I got stuck in the campground. I somehow didn’t notice the fallen tree on the downhill slope between the upper and lower portions of the campground until it was too late, and I was unable to back my work truck back up the hill. D___ was the only other person on duty, and since neither he nor I were signed out on the chainsaw, we had to go back to the shop and bring back handsaws to deal with the tree. So what should have taken ten minutes wound up taking an hour. Oh well, at least it’s done.

One more week of work and my season is over. Technically, the 30th and 31st are work days for me, but I’ve requested days off so I can move out of my residence. I’m going to kind of miss the place.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Empire Mine State Park, adjacent to Grass Valley:

 photo IMG_20161206_153455_zps5ukpoucn.jpg

Well, I kind of blew the interview, but I had a nice (if chilly) day up in the foothills. Grass Valley is a quaint little town, and a nice place to spend the day. Had dinner in Sacramento with [ profile] 2ndbanana and [ profile] bobobear12, and it was good to catch up with them. Wound up talking about variety shows and specials of the 1970s, of all things.

On the plus side, I have another interview in Half Moon Bay coming up on Thursday. I need to make this one count, as I really want this job! I’m cramming like a college student in preparation for it.

It looks like I’ll be spending the Christmas holiday with my co-worker, J__. He suggested a cookout, and I told him I’d bake something and bring it. Maybe my “famous” tomato soup spice cake.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Since my time here is winding down, this week’s self-portrait hails from China Camp, just outside of park housing:

 photo IMG_20161205_161959_zps3mqlczcx.jpg

Changes are coming fast and furious. My co-worker M_______ is now my former co-worker. Our boss R______ called and said he needed him out at Samuel P. Taylor. I had assumed “in a week or two,” not “Wednesday,” so Monday was our last day working together. Gonna kind of miss the little guy, since we’ve been working together all season long.

I am on the work schedule until the end of December, so there is that. No idea if I’ll be working in January; if so it’ll only be the first two weeks. I definitely want to move out of the housing by the 31st of this month, so I’m going to request a couple of days off to make that easier (working and moving is a b*&%# and a half).

Oh, and hello from Grass Valley. My interview is in another hour and a half after I post this, so wish me luck! Composing this post from the public library, where I’m boning up on tools and whatnot in preparation for the interview. Later, I’ll be passing through Sacramento where I’ll be dining with [ profile] 2ndbanana and [ profile] bobobear12.

But that’s the future. Hopefully it holds something good.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from the laundromat in Fairfax:

 photo IMG_20161112_171519_zpswyufpjax.jpg

[ profile] albadger and I watched more episodes of Stranger Things last week. I really like the way this series is progressing. They did a very good job with this, and I can’t wait to see the rest of the series, which should be tomorrow. In other good TV-related news, there’s a new episode of Steven Universe coming up this week!

I was inspired to write some more Confirmed Bachelors dialogue this week. I’ve also put out feelers to an artistically talented net-buddy of mine for concept/poster art for promotional purposes. And a very nice lady complimented one of the promotional videos I posted last year, and suggested I audition for local theater. It’s something to consider.

Still waiting on that job interview. Hopefully my sending out applications will result in one. In the meantime, I have another job offer waiting for me, so it’s likely I’ll be sending out another in the near future (like: tomorrow or Wednesday). Also: Wednesday is First Aid training up at Olompali, so I’ll be attending that. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but East Bay Regional Parks wanted someone with First Aid training, so this is definitely a good career move for me.

I’m finally on my own phone line. Carol and I had been on a family plan since 2012, and just this week I went down to T-Mobile to finalize the process. Another step in my continuing march towards complete independence...

I flaked out on The Weekly Puck last week. Super-sorry about that. I’ll present you with two this week, I swear!

***sigh*** Did anything else happen this week?
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Major-General Progbear made his annual public appearance in the city of Berkeley yesterday:

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I need new shoes. The so-called “Crazy Cat Lady Shoes” I’ve been wearing to work have been reduced to the consistency of Swiss cheese, and that’s no good for the rainy season. I need new work gloves as well, they gave my hands unfortunate “wet dog smell” all last week. The rain brings with it another set of issues, namely the whole “how are you going to fill up an entire day with work with less people visiting the park?” problem. Not so much an issue with one of the sewer vaults going on the fritz, needing to do work on the trench out on the residence road in preparation for the paving company (which are finally coming to fill in the hole this week) and a cross-country race up near the campground all at the same time.

Haven’t done too much on Second Hand Goods of late, I need to remedy that. 1964 is a weird year; after the first rush of Beatlemania, it descends into alternating classics and utter crap. Like I said, weird.


Oct. 26th, 2016 07:06 pm
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Berkeley’s Urban Ore:

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Dropped another application for a job out in Half Moon Bay. This is another one for “skilled laborer” that pays a living wage, and “may” come with state housing. I spoke with a lady in HMB before I was offered the China Camp job, and I think that housing might be in Butano, half an hour south of HMB. Some place to pitch my tent while looking/saving up for a place in HMB itself. Or at least somewhere closer. I’ve been super-spoiled by living somewhere across the road from where I work for the past six months.

Kind of an annoying week at work. There was a triathlon blocking off the road for a good part of the day on Saturday and Sunday. The organizers of the event hadn’t bothered to let anyone at our park know. I even drove down to McNears Beach, where the event was being held, and they didn’t seem to know what was going on. Apparently this is an annual thing and apparently the organizers never let anyone know their intentions.

Spent Tuesday in the company of [ profile] albadger. Somehow, we wound up watching about half an hour’s worth of live performances of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Al had never even heard of her before and was absolutely entranced by her guitar playing.
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:

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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 [ 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 Boring Old Wildcat™, which I guess isn’t so boring, considering it had been months since I’d been here:

 photo IMG_20160831_145719_zpsjtwpbwr5.jpg

Sorry for the advanced delay in getting this post out. I’d excuse it, but there really are no excuses.

The Labor Day holiday was not so horrible as I had feared. I guess the campers got it all out of their system on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July (which fell on a Monday this year). Actually, my poor co-worker M_______ received the brunt of it, because he was working the day use over at China Camp Village, where it seemed we received the most traffic.

Wildlife seemed to provide most of the entertainment this weekend. Found a live raccoon that had crawled into one of the trash receptacles and curled up to take a nap on top of the garbage. Had to jab it with my pogey stick to get it to leave.

It’s confirmed that I have a few vacation days coming up in a couple of weeks, so that’s a relief. I believe I’ve earned it. In the meantime, I’ll relish the coming of the off-season, where I can concentrate on other things than just cleaning restrooms and picking up trash.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Richmond’s Kaleidoscope Café. They have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

 photo IMG_20160828_173714_zpss7rv0hix.jpg

Strange, strange week. I think I have had more bizarre occurrences at this park than anywhere else in the world. My week began with an English woman blatantly flirting with me (“I love your moo-stache!” Trust me, the tone in her voice was unable to be interpreted as anything else!) and ended with a French lady ranting that the campers in a neighboring tent were “high” and were yelling “It’s so cold!” all night long.

Harvey (not on LJ) made dinner for [ profile] bigjohnsf and I last night. It was nice to just have a relaxing evening of dinner and conversation.

I also wound up walking out of Amoeba Music earlier this week with a stack of laserdiscs. You can see what I got in this video. So far, The Palm Beach Story is the only one I’ve watched. I’m considering taking my laserdisc player to the park residence with me, as I don’t really have a lot of time on my days off to watch movies.

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