Monday, July 30, 2007

Berkeley Kite festival

Yesterday was the perfect day for the Berkeley Kite Festival down at the marina. It was sunny and warm, and, on the top of the hill where we perched, there was a strong enough wind to practically pull Myrtle's kite out of her hand, so anxious was it to soar aloft. Otto and I felt very fortunate that grandchildren Myrtle and Byron Shock could be with us. Myrtle is spending a week with us before leaving for Brazil on August 15 to continue her archeological work there, and Byron was up from Santa Cruz to spend the weekend with his sister.

It was a wonderfully typical Berkeley celebration with not just the planned fantastic kites and events but also hundreds of individuals launching their own kites into the crowded skies, as Myrtle is doing in the following photo.

And here is Myrtle's kite high in the sky.

There were all sorts of fantastic kites, kite contests, lots of booths selling delicious foods, and every age and ethnicity among the participants and spectators. Here are a few of the more unusual kites:

It's easy on such an ideal day to forget worries, international, national or personal. I must admit that wind, sun and activities, however joyous, lead to pretty impressive fatigue. Byron and I fell asleep as soon as we got home, while wonderful Myrtle prepared supper. What a joy that we have her with us for the rest of the week! And we will see Byron again at the family reunion in August, if not sooner since he now lives so nearby..

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I have spent the last two days immersed in this last book of the Harry Potter series, which arrived in my mailbox promptly, as promised, in a book box prominently marked "Do Not Deliver Before July 21". Am I the oldest Harry Potter fan? Warning:do not read this book unless you have read the previous ones! This is the final chapter (or two) of what is actually one long novel, with little or no explanation of who many of the characters are or of their past actions which bear upon the plot of this book, which is a gathering of all the loose threads with a slam-bang climax. This is not my review. I am still chewing over what I think about this final book. But do not give it to young children!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Earthquake Again!

Just a quick note about our local earthquake, which occurred at 4:42 am today and registered 4.2 on the Richter scale. (How's that for economy of digits?) It woke me, but Otto was already standing next to the bed (don't ask!). To me, it felt like one big jerk - somewhat like having a rug pulled out from under one. Otto felt a second or two of shaking, but both of us were most conscious of the noise of falling things. A VERY noisy earthquake. A quick check of the house showed a few framed photos on the floor where they had fallen from bookcases, an open door on the kitchen oven and an open door on a shower stall. By light of day, we also found that a heavy glass vase in our bedroom had fallen unbroken into the open suitcase that Otto was still in the process of unpacking. The most time-consuming thing to re-sort will be the piles of folders that fell over in Otto's office, scattering papers everywhere.

This was a very small earthquake on the Hayward fault, 3.6 miles under the Montclair district. One geologist pointed out that that it had only 1/3200 of the power of the the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. Most of the damage, erratically scattered over the area, was minor, and no one was killed or injured. This was partly due the early hour at which the quake happened. If our local Safeway (at Shattuck and Rose) had been open, the story might have been different, since four large high window panels broke and rained glass directly down on the checkout counters - where Otto had been standing in line just eight hours earlier. Lucky for everyone.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ontario, Oregon

The last six days we have been in Ontario, Oregon, on a combined business and pleasure trip. The pleasure was visiting with daughter and son-in-law, Candace and Clinton Shock. The business was twofold: a presentation at the State University of Oregon's Malheur Experiment Station's annual field day on Wednesday and, on Saturday (yesterday) a booth at the 75th anniversary celebration of the dedication on Owahee dam, which, at the time it was built was the highest dam in the world. According to today's newspaper, 3,000 people attended it, of whom a few farmers were VERY interested in our Enabler for solving their irrigation energy problems.

The weather has been very hot - over 100 degrees - which didn't bother me too much until yesterday at our outdoor exhibit, which, under a temporary canopy, was just barely survivable, at least to us coastal Californians.
Here is a photo of our display. Note the electric fans on the same extension cord that is providing power to my laptop with its Power Point presentation.

All the exhibits were below the dam, and our green area was surrounded by tall rock cliffs.

Some of pleasure part of our visit: Friday night Clinton drove us to the small nearby town on Nyssa, which was having its annual Thunderegg festival in the municipal park, with multiple booths selling rocks and minerals, but also much food, local entertainment on the bandstand, and, by the time we got there, many kiddies tired from the day's festivities. Candace took this photo, unbeknownst to me, from a distance.. It shows me enjoying a corny joke by the the MC at the bandstand show.

And here is a small child that is ready to go home to bed.

It was still hot enough at dusk for Otto and me to want to share a large glass of icy fresh-squeezed lemonade.

Tomorrow we fly back to Berkeley.

Friday, July 6, 2007

More Tilden Train

Byron posted this on Facebook today. His camera is pointed toward the rear of the line of cars pulled by the Tilden Park steam engine. That's me in the foreground with Otto behind me. Consider this just a postscript to yesterday's post.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Childish Things

Last Saturday, Byron drove up from Santa Cruz in his new second-hand (but perfect as new) VW convertible, top opened to take advantage of the beautiful weather. He expressed a wish to go to Tilden Park, where all sizes of model steam trains run each Sunday afternoon. It turned out, however, that this was the exceptional Sunday when none of the East Bay Steamers members put in an appearance. We speculated that they had all gone camping during the 4th of July week. The largest of the model locomotives - the one run by Tilden Park itself - was still chugging away, of course, pulling its usual string of open cars filled with parents keeping a firm grip on their screaming offspring. Usually they screamed with pleasure at the scenic route winding through redwoods and meadows with an occasional vista of the bay below, but in the tunnels they screamed for the pure joy of making noise.
This photo shows the engineer on duty, who also happens to be the man who constructed this accurate scale model of a steam locomotive. Otto (in hat) and Byron are marveling at his workmanship. The project required many years of time and more than 300,000 dollars worth of parts and had only recently been completed, one of three locomotives now running on the Tilden Park track. Otto actually found an old family ticket, left over from who-knows-when, that still had three rides left on it. They were quite excited, at the little built-to-scale depot, to see such an antique ticket! So of course the three of us took a ride.

And, since Otto had unearthed old family tickets, we had to take advantage of some punches still left on one for the magnificent Tilden Park merry-go-round. Here is a picture of Otto and Byron riding a dragon and a rooster respectively. The last time grandson Byron rode this merry-go-round was over thirty years ago!