December 18th, 2005


OK, so I've been a bit quiet lately. Busy. Sorry.

For those who asked, the upstairs remodeling was done just when my dad came to visit at the beginning of the month. I have pictures but they will have to wait until I'm back in Taipei. While my dad was in town we went to Wulai to a hot spring resort, and also on a bus day trip to southern Taipei county mountain areas. At dinner there was a mostly full leftover bottle of 12-Year Canadian Club Whiskey that I got to take home. My dad brought back the Winnie The Pooh doll Emily left at his house and a bunch of Disney DVDs. Emily is really into Snow White now. My dad also got me a set of Pimsleur CDs and Maggie some Kiehls lotions.

I've still got a runny nose from my cold but most other effects are gone. I always seem to keep a runny nose for a long time after my colds are over. I've been trying the 'new' phenylephrine decongestants now that you practically need a background check to buy pseudoephedrine. It seems to work OK, but they don't have a time-release version yet.

On Sunday for lunch Rick and Anna invited me to go to their Red Egg party for their daughter Erin at Todai in Pleasanton. That night I went to go see Pom and his family and they took me to Red Robin.

On Monday I drove out to El Dorado Hills near Sacramento to visit Chris and Jen and see their new son Duncan, and we had some pizza for lunch. Then I drove out to Sparks, a suburb of Reno to visit with Michael for a few days, and who is building a new post-production facility there. By the way, Reno is COLD in the winter. It's a desert, so I was expecting something else. Oh, and the Black Bear Diner is really nice.

On Wednesday I drove back to El Dorado Hills to spend a night at Chris and Jen's house. The drive back through the mountains was gorgeous with lots of snow covering the mountains. (It was after dark when I drove there on the way.) Chris brought out a couple of wonderful bottles of wine from his extensive collection which we enjoyed with a nice dinner. They also sent me home with a couple of bottles as well.

The next morning I left after breakfast to drive to Santa Barbara. Going down 5, things were pretty hazy, though despite 'CAUTION HEAVY FOG' warnings on the electronic signs, it never got less than 1 mile visibility. I got in just in time to go to Ken's holiday party. There was a gift exchange for which I brought a gift basket of three wines picked from my wine collection. Gift baskets were a popular choice, though all the others were pre-packaged ones. I got a audio book on CD collection "Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" in exchange.

Friday for dinner we went to Downey's, a restaurant I hadn't heard of before until it was ranked #1 in SB by Zagat. I had a watercress, spinach and endive salad which also contained hazelnuts and raspberries, then boneless beef shortribs in balsamic sauce. For dessert I had something with a fancy French name that I forgot but had a bunch of cream and raspberries between two layers of pastry. The raspberries in the salad were quite good, so I had no choice but to get the dessert with raspberries in it. Mmm, raspberries.

This morning I had breakfast with Ken and George at Jeanines, a bakery on State Street near Ontare. I had a swiss cheese bagel and hot chocolate. Then I went shopping for some odds and ends at Smart and Final, Longs, and Wallgreens and then went out to Freebird's to get lunch. I had my usual meal: Plain Cheese Quesadilla, and a Regular Chicken Burrito, no rice, black beans, sour cream and BBQ sauce.

Old Pictures

I've got a bunch of old pictures, slides and negatives sitting around that I've wanted to scan for a while. I was thinking of bringing the new scanner I bought over to the US, but I noticed that between a sale price and rebate and a promo coupon I had, I could get the same scanner for $50, so I bought another one. This also has the advantage that I get the whole set of English software and manuals for it.

I decided to try it out first with some pictures from our 1978 trip to the Soviet Union. These are all on 35mm slides, so I got my first experience using the 'LightLid' transparency adapter. While it can take a whole strip of negatives at once, it only has one slot for a slide, so each slide needs to be done individually which of course takes a while. Still, once I got the right settings, things have proceeded fairly smoothly. While not all of the slides have turned out great, I'm still getting a lot of really nice scans, especially considering that these have been sitting around for 27 years.

More to come, but here's me and my sister on the back side of St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square, August or September 1978:

And a closeup of the young tourists:

Please note that no amount of tweaking with the color correction could make our clothing look less hideous. I fear that they actually really looked like that.