firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Our springtime cruise to Alaska, by [personal profile] firecat, age 51 going on 7

The OH and I took a cruise to Alaska on the Grand Princess, May 20-30, 2013. Neither of us had been on a cruise before, and planning for it kind of ate our life starting in February. This is a very long writeup. Photos later.
Read more... )
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Recently I dug out my pretty-old-by-today's-standards camera (a Pentax Optio S4, which fits into an Altoid's tin) and took myself to the San Francisco Zoo and, on a day with interesting clouds, to Marina Park in Emeryville, which has great views of the bay and three different bridges. Photos are in the San Francisco set on my Flickr page. A couple of my favorites under the cut.
two photos )
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] clever_doberman, the OH and I had an opportunity to go to the Monterey Jazz Festival this past weekend.

The Jazz Festival is at the Monterey Fairgrounds. You pay one price to get onto the grounds, where there are usually about half a dozen musical events happening at any one time, as well as dozens of vendor and food booths scattered around. You pay separately to see acts in the Arena. Here's a good article to read to get a sense for it if you haven't been:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/ablogsupreme/2011/09/14/140472327/the-first-time-attendees-guide-to-the-monterey-jazz-festival
Read more... )
firecat: gorilla with arms folded looking stern (unamused)
My willingness to use flying as a form of transportation was drastically reduced when the TSA instituted rules limiting the amount of liquids through the security checkpoint. Originally, empty beverage bottles were not allowed through the checkpoint either. That was a boundary for me because I consider it a basic need to carry a lot of water with me when I travel, and I consider it an unreasonable burden to be required to purchase an overpriced bottle of water after clearing the checkpoint. (I can't find any rules about empty bottles on the TSA site right now and I've had reports from people who fly that they were able to bring empty bottles through the checkpoint, so maybe that rule has changed.)

As a person with medical conditions, I am exempt from the rules about liquids, but it offends me that the rules are imposed on other people. It also strikes me as pointless to have rules that people can exempt themselves from just by saying they have a medical condition.

So for the past several years I've flown very rarely.

The fact that I need to buy two seats to be comfortable also contributes to my choice to limit flying.

The new rules about full-body scanners and more intrusive pat-downs strengthen my resolve to limit the amount of flying I do. I don't have a lot of body modesty and don't fear sexual harrassment, so I don't think I would be personally harmed by going through the scanner or being manually searched.

But I believe people have a right not to be subjected to invasive searches without probable cause, and I'm not willing to relinquish my right.

I am privileged and fortunate that I have a choice whether to fly, and I am not making any recommendations for other people.

This mainly affects my likelihood of going to Wiscon. Theoretically I could drive to Wiscon and I'm not ruling that out, but I looked into it once and it seemed like it would be more driving than would be enjoyable for me. I'm not making any decisions about flying now, because a lot of things could happen between now and May, but I'm somewhat less likely to go if the scans and invasive searches become standard.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
I was just treated to a really good dinner at the Madison Concourse restaurant, Dayton Street Grill. The restaurant has a new chef since the last time I was at Wiscon (and according to my dinner companion, since last year). It's definitely more than "a convenient hotel restaurant" now, at least for dinner.

They serve three sauces, out of a list of twenty, with each entree. You can either pick your own sauces or they will recommend some. I went with their recommended sauces for the short ribs, and was happy. Not only did the sauces add something to the ribs (which were very tender and came with their own sauce, which was also tasty), but the ribs were served with a risotto I actually liked. (I almost never like risotto...something about the texture.)

Tonight they were also serving some specials, which are supposedly previews of what will be on the menu later this year. One of the specials was "Cheese bread." I'll just say that it's not what it sounds like, and it's superb.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] nolly pointed me at a Monterey hotel called, creatively, Monterey Hotel.

They have a Romance Package available on the dates I'm planning to stay. For some reason it is cheaper than all their other rates.

The Romance Package includes:
  • A trail of red, silk rose petals will lead you from the front door of your hotel room to the bedroom area.
  • The bed will be decorated with over 150 red, silk rose petals, elegant fabric tulle, and long strands of pearl beads, colorful chocolate kisses, red metallic streamers, feather boa and a large bouquet of balloons.
I told this to the OH in IM:

2:46 PM
The OH
Ugh
No wonder it's cheaper

2:46 PM
Stef
Exactly.
But if you can KEEP all the silk rose petals, fabric, pearl beads, and such, it's a hoarding crafter's dream
Also I find the idea of booking it just for myself kind of amusing.

2:48 PM
The OH
Just make sure to bring an extra-large vibrator

2:48 PM
Stef
HAHAHAHAHA
I am so blogging this

2:48 PM
The OH
I mean, extra-loud
What exactly are you blogging?

2:49 PM
Stef
this conversation

2:50 PM
The OH
Uh-HUH
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] nolly pointed me at a Monterey hotel called, creatively, Monterey Hotel.

They have a Romance Package available on the dates I'm planning to stay. For some reason it is cheaper than all their other rates.

The Romance Package includes:
  • A trail of red, silk rose petals will lead you from the front door of your hotel room to the bedroom area.
  • The bed will be decorated with over 150 red, silk rose petals, elegant fabric tulle, and long strands of pearl beads, colorful chocolate kisses, red metallic streamers, feather boa and a large bouquet of balloons.
I told this to the OH in IM:

2:46 PM
The OH
Ugh
No wonder it's cheaper

2:46 PM
Stef
Exactly.
But if you can KEEP all the silk rose petals, fabric, pearl beads, and such, it's a hoarding crafter's dream
Also I find the idea of booking it just for myself kind of amusing.

2:48 PM
The OH
Just make sure to bring an extra-large vibrator

2:48 PM
Stef
HAHAHAHAHA
I am so blogging this

2:48 PM
The OH
I mean, extra-loud
What exactly are you blogging?

2:49 PM
Stef
this conversation

2:50 PM
The OH
Uh-HUH
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
I'm thinking about going to Monterey in August to visit the Monterey County Fair and Wool Show and the aquarium. I'm having trouble deciding where to stay. Do you have a favorite hotel there? My budget is up to $250 per night but I'd rather pay less if I can find someplace decent for less. I don't care about being within "walking distance" of anything because my "walking distance" is only a couple of blocks, and I know I can park in a city lot to visit the aquarium. I prefer hotels to b&bs.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
I'm thinking about going to Monterey in August to visit the Monterey County Fair and Wool Show and the aquarium. I'm having trouble deciding where to stay. Do you have a favorite hotel there? My budget is up to $250 per night but I'd rather pay less if I can find someplace decent for less. I don't care about being within "walking distance" of anything because my "walking distance" is only a couple of blocks, and I know I can park in a city lot to visit the aquarium. I prefer hotels to b&bs.
firecat: cartoon cat eating something onna stick (snack cat soup)
My Avis rental car (a Ford Taurus) continued to give me trouble throughout the trip to Wiscon and Illinois (it wouldn't start reliably - I usually had to try several times using techniques such as waiting a few seconds to turn the key the final bit, putting on the parking brake, wiggling the shift lever, or dancing on the car hood naked and howling at the moon), but I guess I must have signed up for some special when I made the reservation because I now have codes for 20 songs on iTunes. I've never bought more than 2 or 3 songs on iTunes at a time so I feel like I'm rolling in riches and bits of dead goat.
firecat: cartoon cat eating something onna stick (snack cat soup)
My Avis rental car (a Ford Taurus) continued to give me trouble throughout the trip to Wiscon and Illinois (it wouldn't start reliably - I usually had to try several times using techniques such as waiting a few seconds to turn the key the final bit, putting on the parking brake, wiggling the shift lever, or dancing on the car hood naked and howling at the moon), but I guess I must have signed up for some special when I made the reservation because I now have codes for 20 songs on iTunes. I've never bought more than 2 or 3 songs on iTunes at a time so I feel like I'm rolling in riches and bits of dead goat.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
I'm back from a trip to Portland that included Potlatch con, [livejournal.com profile] snippy, and some non LJ folks.

I had my crankypants on all weekend so I missed out on getting in touch with some other local folks, I apologize for that.

Please comment if you wrote or saw something on LJ that you think I would like to see.

Trip report to come.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
I'm back from a trip to Portland that included Potlatch con, [livejournal.com profile] snippy, and some non LJ folks.

I had my crankypants on all weekend so I missed out on getting in touch with some other local folks, I apologize for that.

Please comment if you wrote or saw something on LJ that you think I would like to see.

Trip report to come.

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firecat (attention machine in need of calibration)

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