Sunday, November 29, 2009


Thanksgiving is an interesting time if you're an expat in the States. Intellectually of course I "get" the protocol—the family gatherings, the turkey meal, all-day Bond marathons on TV, mega-retail, putting up the Christmas tree, and so on—but viscerally my experience seems inevitably different from that of those around me. They've grown up with the holiday and I haven't.

The difference isn't about knowing the rituals: these can easily be learned and acted out. The difference is that after decades of experiencing the tradition it internalizes and becomes a "feeling". Thanksgiving has a particular "feel" to US natives, the substance of which is an aggregation of memories going all the way back to childhood. Thanksgiving doesn't have a "feel" for me in a way that Christmas Eve does, for example.

This isn't to say, of course, that it's not a good time. This year Wendy and I stayed in San Francisco for Thanksgiving, something we've not done before. We were thankful for each other, the amazing city we live in, the Californian climate, the house we love to live in, and the beauty of the fall.

God's Light

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cars are cars

Like Paul Simon says.

I find these things particularly photogenic. There's this set from Denver, of which this is an example:

Wing Ornament
and there's this set from Minneapolis, of which this is my favorite:
and latest is this lovely taillight from Healdsburg:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Spider's Web

There's a spider's web in there, honestly. You can see it a bit better in the larger version. I took it last year at the launch party of my mom's book.

Spider's Web

Mission in the Fall

Took these last Saturday wandering around our neighborhood: the Mission in San Francisco. What a super super place. I moved to the city five years ago and I'm still just thrilled to live here.

Some samples below but the full set is on Flickr as ever:

The Apartment
"K" Line
Tea & Coffee

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Farmers' Market

The Alemany Farmers' Market is known for all sorts of things. The weekly parking débâcle, the hummus guy, Two Dog dry-farmed tomatoes, and (to me) amazing colors. It's an organic sustainably farmed rainbow.

I'm posting some samples below but you should check out the set on Flickr.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kidney Stone

If you search Wikipedia for "worst pain ever experienced" the #1 result is "kidney stone". Until a couple of weeks ago I didn't really know what kidney stones were and the worst pain I'd ever experienced was appendicitis nearly six years back.

All that changed, though:

  • Sat; arrive back from England
  • Sun evening; go to bed just fine
  • Mon 7am; go to work as usual
  • Mon 1pm; do three back-to-back phone interviews with Google job candidates
  • Mon 6pm; go home
  • Mon 9pm; go to bed, still jetlagged from England
  • Mon 9.05pm; sudden severe pain in left side of abdomen
  • Mon 9.10pm; out of bed, agony
  • Mon 9.15pm; writhing on floor. Wendy calls an ambulance
  • Mon 9.25pm; completely incapacitated, speechless with pain
  • Mon 9.30pm; paramedics arrive and deliver oxygen, IV and ECG
  • Mon 9.50pm; arrive at the hospital, given intravenous narcotics
  • Mon 10.40pm; drugged out out of my mind, receive a CT scan
  • Mon 11.15pm; diagnosis from physicians in Australia, working in-timezone (seriously!): kidney stone in right kidney
  • Tue 12.15am; arrive home and go to bed
  • Tue 8am; painkillers
  • Tue 10am; painkillers
  • Tue 12pm; painkillers and sleep
  • Tue 4pm; write up interview feedback
  • Tue 9pm; painkillers and more sleep
  • Wed 7am; back to work, not very comfortable, painkillers
  • Wed 1pm; three more back-to-back phone interviews
  • Wed 8.30pm; "egress" of a kidney stone the size of half a grain of rice
  • Wed 8.31pm; feeling fine, pain-free
  • Wed 9pm; write up interview feedback

The strangest thing.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Last week in England

Isaac's advice for this week: avoid kidney stones. Badness.

About last week: I spent it in England, including visiting my parents a couple of weekends ago. On the Saturday we had a lovely day with a break in the clouds and went for a walk around the village:

View towards Great Longstone
Sue and Dave
Autumn Leaves

In ten days in England I don't think I saw the sun at all apart from that one day.