Catch-Up and Upcoming Trip

Over the years, I have had sporadic breaks when I wasn’t traveling/I was busy/I was lazy/etc.  There has never been a month break where so much has happened.  I don’t have any deep thoughts about the COVID-19 pandemic but I implore anyone reading to please listen to the experts. By this I mean, CDC, WHO, and the national treasure Dr. Anthony Fauci.  My career is based on science, facts, and a healthy respect for the number of unknowns that exist in our understanding of exactly how our miraculous bodies work.  Acknowledging these unknowns is a sign of humility and strength, not a reason to thereby dismiss everything someone is saying.  Total certainty is impossible and while it’s comforting when someone offers it, it is likely a shallow and fallible.

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So, how has COVID-19 affected me?   Well, I’m embarking on the USNS Mercy to our mission in LA.  While things could always change (and we were told something different up until yesterday afternoon), it seems this will likely be the destination since it was announced by the President.  SMS is here in San Diego and we’ve had a great week together.  Our families are healthy.

Since I do like to document my travels on this blog, I’m going to briefly sum up the last month prior to 12 March or so.  This is not to trivialize the current situation.  As for updates from the Mercy, I will certainly be writing privately.  Not as certain what will be on the blog but I will try!

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SMS and I are social media stars.  Ha, ha, not really.  But we are in Lucid Motor’s promo video from the reveal event.  So, I grabbed a screen capture for posterity!

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On 19 Feb, Michelle and I had a ladies of ENT workout and slumber party.  In the evening, we went for a run in the beautiful Del Mar Heights area.  Then, we drank some wine.  Not a lot, but I had planned to stay over so we could workout early (5:15 am) in the morning.  We took an ok aerobics/toning class, followed by an awesome spin class.  Hooray for work colleagues/friends!

trail map

That next weekend, SMS and I went on a hike on 2/23 to Muir Woods.  We went in the “back way” so we could park on the road along a trailhead up Mt. Tam, near the highlighted Mountain home parking.  We went on a 5 mile hike and it was awesome!  There were beautiful redwoods in the gully and, as we went higher, we cleared the treelike and saw beautiful vistas.

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Afterwards, we went to Sausalito and had some oysters and soup to re-energize us.  We went to the Fish Peddler and it was really good.  It was also a little less expensive than the restaurants in the heart of “dowtown” (it’s really a small place overall).

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The next weekend was the Lucid battery team’s 4th annual ski trip.  We skied at Northstar and were finally able to use our Epic passes, which really do save money.  We won’t get to use them this Winter but since we skied two days, we saved about $50 overall.  Maybe next year we’ll try again.

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Parking Lot Selfie
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Lake Tahoe in the background
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Lakeside selfie on a dock near our AirBnB

We stayed at a really cute AirBnB.  I would want to stay there again in the Summer, but can I tell you one annoying thing about AirBnB?   The cleaning fee, taxes, and admin fees aren’t included in the room rate that pops up during the initial search.  It really can add quite a large percentage to the actual amount paid.  However, in fairness, AirBnB has had an amazing (for the renter) cancellation policy for COVID-19.  So, I’m not anti-AirBnB, I’m anti-hidden costs and fees.  Also, hosts that add a sizable cleaning fee should just rethink their room rate.  Unless maybe there are tax reasons for doing so?

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It snowed our last night there, which led to some adventures with tire chains on the way home but it was very pretty to look at from the inside of a warm house.

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Then, things started changing.  This is my colleague when we went to PAPR training.  This was Tuesday, before I knew anything about the Mercy, which I first heard about on Wednesday.  Such a compressed timeline!

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The cutest bird in all the land!

And, in case you want to know about another problem of mine, here’s a screen capture of my camera roll.  When I get home, please stage an intervention.

 

Weekend Review

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Evening Smart!

After four weekends in a row away from Menlo Park, SMS finally got a break and I travelled North.  I took Valentine’s Day off not because it’s a holiday we go all out for (honestly, it feels like Christmas just happened and who wants back-to-back gift buying pressure?), but because Lucid was having a special reveal party for reservation holders.  That’s us!

The event was called, “Love is in the AIR.”  The attire was evening smart and it was an incredible party.  I would have loved to be there from the start, but I arrived 45 minutes into the party due to insane (but typical) traffic from the airport.  The showroom was open for the first time and the interior was exquisitely luxurious.  There was a craft cocktail bar, which was for the party only.  Lucid will not promote a drinking driving culture in everyday operations.  There were special cocktails named after the different interiors. I ordered a drink with whiskey, fig, and a sprig of burnt rosemary that they flamed then and there.  Impressive!

There were a lot of delicious hors d’oeuvres that were passed.  I tried most of them, but didn’t act disgracefully.  I always remember a party I went to where the poor server carrying the shrimp got mobbed by people who acted like they hadn’t eaten in days.  Who knows, maybe they hadn’t.  But it looked like a shark thrash zone with chum in the water.  So, yes, I had some food as it showed up in front of me but afterwards, SMS and I realized we hadn’t really had dinner so we split a kabab plate at Oren’s Hummus.

The car reveal was preceded by a 20 minute-ish talk by the CEO/CTO highlighting some specific advances/innovations/exclusives of the car.   Then, the garage door opened in a haze of fog-machine produced atmosphere and the car rolled in.  It is a beautiful car and everyone was very impressed.

We spent the rest of the party trying the VR car viewer followed by talking to several Lucid employees.  It was a great time and I’m so glad we went.

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My favorite water tower in Palo Alto
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Biscuits and Gravy- can you feel the romance?

The next day, SMS had to work and I hung out in Palo Alto.  I went to Rumble Boxing, Blue Bottle (twice!), the mall, and the grocery store.  I also did some laundry and cooked dinner for Valentine’s Day.  Forget “Engagement Chicken,” I made SMS some biscuits and gravy!  It turned out pretty well although I think the sausage we used the first time was better.  Then we had molten lava cakes for dessert, which were very tasty.  I know the menu is not pleasingly cohesive but, hey, it worked for us!

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Avocado Toast: We’re such Wannabe Millennials

On Saturday, we had a Blue Bottle breakfast and shopped for veggies at the small farmer’s market. Then we headed up to Lafayette to hang out with Jyotsna and Akshay.  It was a fun afternoon of eating, drinking, and socializing.  We went to their friends’ house in Orinda for a bit.  It was nice to talk to them.  We had met once before and got along well.  We headed home for dinner.  I made a Zuppa Tuscana that was pretty tasty and a dupe for the Olive Garden soup for those in the know.

Sunday was our more active day.  We ate breakfast at home and then went for a hike on Windy Hill.  It was a gorgeous day.  I feel so lucky to be able to go on such great hikes!  I also made a veggie lasagna that was pretty good.  Thanks Smitten Kitchen!

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This is pretty delicious

Monday was another work day for SMS/holiday for me.  I went to Rumble and Blue Bottle.  I was going to go to the museum but Jyotsna invited me to a farm tour!

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Wine, my favorite farm product!

We went to the Nest Box farm and it was a delight!  We fed cows, chickens, goats, and sheep.  We collected eggs.  There was a small picnic that we supplemented with more food and (surprise!) wine.  We looked at the barn, garden areas, and pet rescue rabbit area.  It was a beautiful day to be outside and a really cool experience.  I want to go back with SMS and stay overnight, which will allow us to do more on the farm like milk a cow!

SMS came home a little after 6.  We had some dinner and after that, it was time to go to the airport since I needed to head back so I could be on time for my Tuesday clinic.  It was such a great weekend!

The best 48 hours in LA!

Excuse the blatant SEO attempt but I would love to get more blog followers in 2020.  Why this year and not, say, several years ago when blogs were actually in their heyday?  Eh, who knows?

So, since SMS was already in San Diego and we had the weekend to ourselves, we decided to take a road trip to LA.  We meant to leave around lunch, but tragedy struck…

Edward-bird, the most skittish and food-avoidant of the four paraquitos, bolted for the door as I was leaving for work Friday morning.  I saw him out of the corner of my eye when he had already made it outside.  Although we waited around all day and tried to lure him back, he was nowhere to be found after a brief 10 a.m. sighting by SMS.  I am sad, although his real parents (aka, my Mom and Dad) seem to be handling it well.  Maybe because they told me to let them fly out the door months ago.  But I will not!  At least not all of them.  So, now there are three…

After dusk, we locked up the apartment and headed up to LA.  We stopped for a charge at One Paseo and had dinner at North Italia.  It was delicious and an easy stop, one we hadn’t planned or researched but still ended up with a great dinner.  We arrived in LA, parked in the public parking lot (saving $30/night, yeah!), and walked to the hotel.  We stayed at the Kimpton Everly, where I had booked a last-minute reservation under the military rate.  I was expecting a room over the dumpster but instead, we got a room on the top floor, #16!  The view was spectacular, day and night!

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Amazing room and view on the 16th floor!

After a coffee, we headed out to SQRL, a very cool cafe in Virgil Village, LA.  We ordered coffee, the Big Tot, the ricotta toast rainbow-jam style, and the sexy Saturday biscuit, which, if you ate too many of them, would make your figure decidedly unsexy!  It was delicious and a great, if crowded, place to eat.

After the huge breakfast, we went to Runyon Canyon for a hike.  We were not swarmed by the paparazzi nor did we see a celebrity but we did see beautiful views of LA and the large houses/estates in the surrounding area.

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Ready for our close-up!  See the Hollywood Sign/Smudge between our heads?
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Panorama View!

After Runyon Canyon, we attempted to go to the Getty but the traffic back-up was insane. So, we made a quick change of plans and went to the Huntington Library.  We grabbed a quick lunch at the cafe before wandering around the gardens, which were spectacular. My favorite was definitely the cactus garden, although the entire place was beautifully done.

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Reach for the sky!
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Cactus or kale?
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It looked like a scene from Alice in Wonderland

We also walked through the Japanese garden, which was quite nice and had an interesting bonsai collection.  I don’t usually pay too much attention to bonsai exhibits but this was pretty cool.  I liked the bonsai that looked like little forest groves in miniature.

 

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Hanging out on the hill in the Japanese Garden

We went back to the hotel and went to Cleo for dinner.  A blogger/podcaster I follow recommended it.  It was fine, but I wouldn’t go back.  SMS put it best when he said it felt a little Gaslamp-like (downtown SD)- sort of tourist-trappy and overpriced.

While we were walking back to the hotel, we saw a ton of muscle cars and low-riders cruising and parking on Hollywood Blvd.  It was quite a scene with loud music from most of the cars and lots of spectators.  I feel lucky we walked by!

After a good night’s sleep and a room-service breakfast (such a treat!), we headed out to the Getty.

The Getty is such an architectural delight in addition to great museum.  We stood on several balconies and admired the views.  We also went to the visiting Manet exhibit focussing on his later work, which was excellent.  We also visited some of the permanent collection.

The left photo is of Manet’s “Still Life with Oysters and Champagne,” which matched our festive mood with oysters the night before and the New Year coming up!  I think icon paintings are super cool and “The Coronation of the Virgin” by Gentile da Fabriano was my favorite of the bunch.

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In the Manet exhibit, the side description had the most spirited quote from Manet regarding a gift of mandarin oranges: “Since M. Étienne Barroil is a gentleman he sent me a taste of his sunshine.  When I go out, I fill my pockets with them and given them to the local children…They’d probably prefer money, but I prefer to give them something I enjoy.  The pleasures of this world!  They’re made of things that mean little to some but a lot to others.”

 

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time!

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2019 Christmas Card of the Year!

Christmas festivities throughout December…

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I blogged about it “December 7” thanks to back-dating, but SMS and I went to December Lights and recreated our meeting 7 years ago!  We went during the day because we went to his sister and husband’s Christmas party that evening.

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The next week, I travelled back to Virginia to do three cochlear implants.  It was supposed to be four but my last patient had uncontrolled hypertension with a headache. So, elective surgery was deemed too risky.  In addition to resident lectures and operating, I had a very full social calendar!  On the Wednesday, I got my haircut by MonaLisa.  If you are ever in Norfolk, she has my highest recommendation!  She also cuts the most stylish couple in Norfolk’s hair so if my hair looks like a rat’s nest, it’s my fault, not MonaLisa!  That evening, I went to Codex for a solo dinner.  The next night, I went to Codex with my two friends from the Norfolk bookclub I started and is still going strong.  On Friday, I went to SantaLand Diaries at the Well theater with my friend and several of her neighborhood women friends.  It was a great group, the play was awesome, and we went out to St. Germaine’s for drinks afterwards.

On Saturday, I got up at 4:15 (ugh!) to catch a flight back to the West Coast for SMS’ company party, a huge bash with 700+ guests in a transformed space at the company’s headquarters.  It was a really well done, festive affair!

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Looking sparkly for the party, per invite dress code!

 

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Photos weren’t allowed inside so we took advantage of the photo station!

The next week, back in San Diego, I went to a very cute and mercifully short school holiday concert that Rip and Linda’s neighbor’s children participated in.  It definitely put us in the Christmas spirit!

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Festive attire!  Would have fit in at Lucid!

Christmas cards started trickling in and I was delighted to receive a card from my friend’s nom de plume persona, who is a successful writer of motorcycle club romance novels.  Did you know that romance novels have lots of sub-genres?  Since I don’t really read them (except some of my friend’s books), it was news to me.

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This would fall on Santa’s naughty list!

SMS and I went to the Crack Shack when he arrived for the Christmas holiday week.  It was very delicious.  I got the matzo ball pozole and can definitely recommend.  Not so sure about the bathrobe sweater look on anyone under 6 feet tall but, hey, I’m trying to stay up with the trends!  Tag did not specify height requirement!

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Festive chicken!
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Delightfully fuzzy Sherpa sweater/pajama top from Mom and Dad. Also trendy!

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas in Newport Beach.  We had family quality time with SMS’ Mom and Dad, and his two grandfathers at two different family dinners.

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Christmas morning rainbow!

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Norfolk friends we saw in Costa Mesa.  Jordan and I feel this picture is truest to life!  Handsome men with laayyyy-ddiiiess!!!

 

 

Highlights: October 2019

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Wrapping up October with a quick fly-by!  I have to be done by the New Year- new resolution, more frequent blogging.  This has only been made and broken many times!

So, first things first.  The above picture is from a dresser I have from my parents.  It dates back to childhood and I just recently noticed by sister’s long-ago vandalism.  When I texted her on WhatsApp (would we ever have thought?!) she said, “That’s me!!”

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I finally got my own office and moved out of my temporary digs.  As a present, I left a few Milk Duds in the toilet bowl (see an earlier post entitled, Office Prankster).  I think it’s funny and I’m fairly certain was never seen by anyone other than me and the janitor.

I found Sidecar Doughnuts in Del Mar Heights.  This was a delicious, although unnecessary, discovery.

SMS and I took a hike at Huddart Park after the Wunderlich parking lot was full.  It ended up being a stroke of good luck because now we know of two cool parks to hike in, both with second-growth redwoods.  From the sign, it would be safer to have a child with us that we can hold in front of us should a mountain lion stalk us.

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We also went to the Blue Angels show during Fleet Week, San Francisco.  I tried very hard to picture myself as a sailor.  Hmmmm….  The Blue Angels were pretty spectacular and we had a great spot on a gorgeous day!

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I got tickets to the SLAC Community Open House and surprised SMS with a fun date night.  I feel this date night disappointed my sister-in-law, whom I had told we had a cool date night and the next day, when I told her where it was, I could feel the palpable “You guys are such dorks” waves come through the phone lines.

We managed to get some limited tickets to see the actual linear accelerator.  It was very cool so I took a few photos.  I think I need a klystron, with accompanying warning sign, in my own workspace.

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I found a cool outdoor/indoor coffee bar in Little Italy, Lofty!

Jenny invited me to Lizzo!  It was an excellent concert!

SMS and I had San Diego’s best!breakfast! at Hob Nob Hill restaurant.

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New wall art!

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Pretty flower shop in at the North Park/South Park junction!

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Hanging out in San Diego, not sure where?  Wait!  We are at Cabrillo National Monument.  Looking cute, might delete later!

And finally, Halloween.  The department secretary organized everyone (read: six fools) to buy Waldo costumes, which was a lot of fun.  I made a layered chocolate cake from Martha Stewart, which was delicious.  I did have a Martha fail while making it (see rightmost photo), where I learned that you can over whip Whipped Cream!