Monday, April 28, 2008

San Francisco - Updated

San Francisco, Once Over Lightly.

This past weekend we went to Palo Alto, Thursday afternoon, 4/24, then spent Friday and Saturday in San Francisco. A quick report, mostly pictures follows.

The reason for the trip was for me to give a presentation at a meeting of the Bay Area Chapter of the American Statistical Association. We left here after lunch, found the meeting site, and then had time to drive around the nearby Stanford U campus. The meeting was from 430 to 530, after which about a dozen of us went out for Chinese food -- banquet style. A fine time was had by all, following a profound discussion of fundamental statistical issues, such as, "Why don't we get no respect?"

About dark we headed into The City to find our hotel. Once again, thank goodness for GPS systems. We made the right exits, negotiated the one-way streets the right way, and there we were.

Friday was mostly a driving tour, partly deliberate, partly whimsical. Here are some photos:

We started off with the Golden Gate,

then worked our way around the north and west sides of the penninsula, stopping for lunch near Seal Rock.

After lunch we meandered back across the penninsula, via the Golden Gate Park and Haight-Asbury (not as far out as I thought it might be, at least from a car's driver's seat), staying mostly on residential streets. Our route included the zig-zag drive down Lombard Street, the crooked street.

We stopped at Ghirardelli Square for some ice cream. Seemed like many of the upper level shops I remember there from years past were closed for renovation, so there wasn't much to do there.

Decided next to drive across the GG Bridge to Sausalito -- I've been intrigued by what I've seen and read about that area. We took a winding, narrow, climbing drive up among the houses clinging to the hill overlooking the bay. Looks like a little of that San Andreas tilt, too.

As you can see the day was sunny. It was warm, too, with only a slight breeze. Good timing, we thought.

Next it was on around the bay to the next town, Tiburon, where we found the church where Susie and friend, Connie Lacy, once attended a wedding. The bride timed the ceremony so that as the wedding party left the church, it was right at sunset over the bay. My picture, when I zoom my old camera, is a little washed-out, but you get the idea.

Then it was back downtown and dinner with friend, Bert Gunter, and his wife, Carole, at a very nice restaurant near the new SF Giants baseball park. Bert and Carole relocated from the east coast to here a few years ago to be near their son and grandchildren. He's a statistician working for one of the pharmaceutical companies in the area. Statistics, religion, and politics were the major topics of conversation, with some views shared, some not. A pleasant finish to a fine day.

Saturday morning we walked to nearby Chinatown, passing the Transamerica Building between our hotel and Chinatown.

The previous day we had considered a cable car ride, and decided not to. The opportunity beckoned again, on California Street, so we rode to the end of the line and back. Some dramatic views as you descend.

Here's the east end of a westbound cable car.

We checked out of our hotel at noon, headed west and then took Hwy 1 along the coast to get home. Another warm day and lots of beach activity along the way. Incidentally, we've been remarking about the generally chilly weather out here. Saw in the paper that Monterey set several records for the coldest high temperatures so far during the month of April -- highs in the low 50s, lows in the high 30s. Even the natives, not just us desert rats, have been bemoaning the weather.

Big week this week -- giving a mid-term exam. Spent Sunday working on the exam and practice problems for the students to use in preparation.

Also got good news this week that Heidi and probably Mandi and Paul will be out here Mother's Day weekend.

Let us hear from you.

We'll leave you with one more beach picture.

UPDATE: We'd been home a few hours when there came a knock at the door. Turned out to be a couple of college-age girls, one from Ireland, one from India. They were with a group, trekking down the west coast, tent-camping in campgrounds along the way. They had wondered what these American motor homes were like, so their guide said, Go ask someone. Out of all the motor homes in Marina Dunes, they picked ours. We gave them the tour and had a nice visit.


Susie and Rob

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Monterey Report 7 - Miscellaneous

April 23.

Miscellaneous Musings.

Update: That previous report on Pacific Grove got friend, Pat Young, in Bastrop, TX, to reminiscing and e-mailing. I need to amend one part of my PG report: She and Wayne met there, at the PG Methodist Church, but they didn't marry there. That happened in Newfoundland when Wayne was in the service and about to be shipped to Germany. That church no longer exists -- metamorphosed into the Butterfly Methodist Church we went to on Easter.

A little more history: Pat's family moved to PG from KY during WWII for work -- in the sardine canneries. After several years here, they returned to KY for about six years, then, when that didn't work out, returned for Pat's senior year in HS. And the rest is history. Years later, Wayne taught a course at NPS so they got to come back to lovely Pacific Grove for a while.

One other correction: my student from Korea is in the AF, not Navy.

Incidentally, every Tuesday is Uniform Day on campus. All the students and faculty in the services wear their uniforms and snap salutes when rank requires it. Looks really great and it's easy to be proud of and impressed by this international collection of young people, studying and serving, sharpening their skills.

We went back to PG on Sunday, 4/20, for lunch and then a dulcimer concert by Steve Eulberg, of Ft. Collins, CO. He played both the hammered dulcimer and the mountain dulcimer -- very different instruments, but both called dulcimers for some unknown reason.

Eulberg also played the guitar and sang. One of his songs was about ships in the harbor -- they're safe, but that's not where they're meant to be; they're meant to sail the sea. Also, "more sailors rot in port than ever are drowned in the sea." Parallel verse was that children are safe at home, but that's not where they're meant to be. Nothing was said about them rotting if they don't leave, but you could infer the point. Actually, it was a more serious statement about life than I'm making it sound. You had to be there.

The concert was in the PG Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church and the pastor played his two-necked guitar and sang along for part of the program. That's when they got into bluegrass sorts of music -- I Saw the Light, Will the Circle be Unbroken -- which was a lot of fun. After the concert, at a reception, we talked to a couple of church ladies about bluegrass music in the area. They suggested Santa Cruz, about an hour up the coast, so maybe we'll have a chance to check that out. Very friendly people there who invited us back for a Sunday service.

Took a picture of this house near where we watched the PG Good OldDays parade. My shots the day of the parade didn't come out. Anyhow, thought the colors and the yucca plant were nice.

We've become regular attendees at the Marina Methodist Church -- that's the handiest and the people there are very friendly, too. It's small -- about 50 in attendance. Today they had to cancel the Children's sermon because the church's two children who regularly attend (a brother and sister) weren't there today.

We found out, as we were eating in Denny's Wed. evening, that the church has a small group (naturally)-- the Dapper Diners --that eats together every Wednesday evening. They saw us and so this week we joined them. Cal-Mex food is not New-Mex food, you won't be surprised to know. We've gotten used to Wednesday evening dinners at St. John's, so the tradition will sort of continue out here.

Sermon Sunday was about "Let not your heart be troubled." Text: John 14. Memorable line, from another John: John Wesley said, "I could no more worry than I could curse or swear." Not a bad philosophy, unless you do a lot of cursing.

This week the Naval Postgraduate School inaugurated its first civilian president, though you might say semi-civilian -- he's a retired Admiral. Various people who send out campus e-mail had been encouraging all faculty to attend the ceremony and wear their academic regalia. Well, on short notice, all I had to wear was an orange Oklahoma State University t-shirt. I think it fit in well.

Here's an online picture of the Del Monte Hotel that I copied and pasted. It's now the school's admin building (I may have done this in an earlier blog, but maybe you forgot, too).

There are quite a few buildings on campus of this vintage and style, plus a scattering of conventional government-issue office and classroom buildings.

I asked the NPS instructor who's sitting in on my class what the significance of this change in leadership is or would be. He thought it would weaken the school's connections to the Pentagon and that would not be helpful. A few years ago the NPS was targeted for closing by the BRAC (base-closure committee), but the school survived it, Tom said, because the Army (!) made the case for keeping the school. How's that for inter-service cooperation.

One of the speakers was the president of Penn State University. I believe he was introduced as the chairman of NPS's Board and he's served on various DoD advisory committees. He told a statistical/law joke: A senior, successful lawyer was reflecting on his career and he said, "When I was young, I lost some cases I should have won. Then when I was older, I won some I should have lost. So, on the average, justice was served. Takes so little to make us statisticians feel acknowledged, if not respected.

Steinbeck: We went to a talk last week by a Steinbeck scholar and author of a book about Steinbeck and Country (Monterey Penninsula, etc). The occasion was a meeting of the Central Coast Chapter of the California Writers Club -- not often you C that many Cs in one sentence. Her name is Susan Shillinglaw and her book is "A Journey into Steinbeck's California." We found her talk very interesting and entertaining. Talked quite a bit about the researching and writing process as well as her subject, John Steinbeck.

Shillinglaw started out talking about her career of 18 years as an editor -- how much she enjoyed the editing process. One of her products was a collection of essays about Steinbeck by various eminent writers -- it was exciting to interact with these people and to see it all come together in something special. (In a very small way I can identify with what she was talking about -- in the early 80s I edited a stat journal and during that time put together a special 25th anniversary issue, choosing and inviting the authors I wanted.)

Shillinglaw subsequently became director of the Steinbeck Center in Salinas and, as if that wasn't enough to keep her busy, began edging into writing. Her editor/publisher gave her a schedule -- I think a chapter a month, at least in some form -- and that sort of constraint kept things moving. Left to her own devices she might have researched forever, because she really enjoyed that, too. As I sit here blogging, instead of working on my book, -- oh, well, never mind. My Steinbeck reading is lagging, too. Have only read the short book, Cannery Row, and barely started the sequel, Sweet Thursday.

Tomorrow (Th) we head for San Francisco. I'm giving a talk in Palo Alto then we're going to spend most of the weekend in The City, as they say. The talk's theme, Passion-Driven Statistics, is about how we get no respect and what we need to do about it. Wish you could all be present for the occasion.


Rob and Susie

Friday, April 18, 2008

Monterey -- Report 6 - Carmel Valley and San Juan Bautists

Friday, April 18.

Decided to take a drive inland in search of warmer weather and to see some new sights. (Campus engineers sent e-mail this week saying that the campus heat would be shut off April 30. Hope they have good information.) I'd been looking at map and noticed the Carmel Valley Road running SE from Carmel about 50 miles to where it meets Hwy. 101 in the Salinas Valley near Soledad, which is near the Pinnacles National Monument, about which I'd seen articles about its rock formations and wildflowers. So, off we went.

First 20 miles or so of the Valley Road, following the Carmel River, which empties into Carmel Bay, featured vineyards, horse acreages, then ranches as we ascended the Coastal Range. Stopped for coffee, juice, and pastries at a pleasant village latte shop, in the sunshine. The coast had been pretty overcast as we left.

Here's some of the scenery. Lots of greenery and occasional wildflower patches. Read a couple of weeks ago that wildflower scene wasn't too prominent this year because fall and winter rains, above average, had grown the grass high enough that the wildflowers were mostly covered.

Even a barn.

The road was twisting and bumpy as we gradually climbed through and out of the valley. I'd been expecting more like a highway, so we were pleasantly surprised, as we like discovering these sorts of backroads. Here's the view of the back side of the range from the top. "The hills are alive with the sound of ... (XM radio) "

As we reached the Salinas Valley, we drove through huge vineyards -- nice geometrical patterns -- then vegetable fields.

Once we got to Soledad it was obvious that the coastal fog had worked its way inland so the Pinnacles area was pretty socked in. Decided to save that for another day, but in case we don't get back, there are lots of pictures at the above link.

We proceeded to the day's second objective: small town of San Juan Bautista and the Mission of the same name. A campus colleague had recommended this little town to me a couple of weeks ago as a place to warm up and enjoy the mission, shops, and restaurants. Wasn't that warm today, but we enjoyed visiting the Mission and the town.

The mission was established in 1797 and the church dedicated in 1812. I overheard in a conversation in the gift shop that the mission was in the movie, Vertigo. Gotta rent that.

There were several roosters in the mission gardens, crowing away. Later, in the ice cream shop, we noticed rooster t-shirts for sale. Clerk said that's one thing the town is known for -- chickens all around town. There's a chicken fair next weekend.

Town looks like the old West with clapboard and old adobe buildings along main street. We stopped in nice gallery and got information on where to eat. It's only about a half-hour from Marina, so we'll be back.


Susie and Rob

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monterey -- Report 5 Pacific Grove

Pacific Grove, which sets on the point of Monterey Peninsula, had its annual Good Old Days celebration this past weekend, so we went. Things started with a parade -- an entertaining collection of small-town Americana -- and the festivities also featured many arts, crafts, and food booths, plus music on multiple stages. Weather was great. I was having camera trouble -- didn't realize at first that the memory chip was full -- so I don't have the pictures I thought I would.

This group called themselves the balloon band, or boys. They had large inflated donuts around their waists, then were draped in white and carried mops. Inspired. Look like sugar bowls or salt shakers. They had appeared in big-time parades like the Indy 500. Brought to mind some parade way back in our travels that had a folding lawn-chair precision drill team. They were a big hit. And a hoot.

After lunch and some Susie jewelry-shopping through the booths, we drove and walked along the coast for a while. Gorgeous carpet of flowers along the way.

Pacific Grove is the former home of friend Pat Young, of Bastrop, TX, formerly Cedar Crest. She and Wayne met and wed in Pacific Grove. Not long ago they celebrated their 50th anniversary by coming back to PG, as they stayed here. She'd told us about the wonderful B&B they stayed in, so we called Pat and got the address and drove by. Definitely a classy looking place. I think the tilt in the first picture has something to do with the San Andreas Fault -- not my fault.

PG has lots of nice well-preserved houses and inviting shops and restaurants, so we'll be back. Various folks had recommended that we live in PG while we're here and we can see why.

This is an antique shop down town.

Sunday afternoon I took a bike ride that ended up heading down the coastal trail toward Monterey -- a trail that will eventually take you to the PG coastal scene above. However, my front gear shift wasn't shifting. I had stopped and was trying to diagnose the problem and another cyclist stopped and helped out. He actually had tools, but after a futile attempt to tighten the cable we discovered that the cable was broken. Fortunately, though, he knew that we were just across the highway from an REI and they would have bike mechanics on duty. They did and within an hour I was on the way and soon back home.

Then on Monday, in a continuing burst of fitness-focus, I decided to try the bus connection to Monterey. That required a half-hour walk to the bus stop, then a half-hour bus trip to the campus. Not bad at all. Then, when I came back to Marina, Susie had walked over to meet me at the bus stop and we walked back to the Dunes. Very cold wind blowing off the bay -- balmy weather gone for a while. Anyhow, the bus will be a good option (only $1 for seniors!) and make the car more available for Susie. Moreover, she kindly says she will drive me to the bus stop whenever I want her to. What a deal!

Well, that's about all the excitement there is here for now.

Oh, incidentally we're going to San Francisco (I should say The City) the 24th of April and will stay most of the weekend. If anybody has any do-not-miss recommendations, pls. let us know. We enjoy hearing from you, so keep in touch.


Susie and Rob

Friday, April 11, 2008

Monterey - Report 4: Big Sur

After a relaxed Friday morning, we left in early afternoon for Big Sur. South of Carmel is The Carmel Highlands area -- great rocky-coastal scenes and houses in awesome locations. Lots of different shades of blue where sea meets shore.

At this site, all you can see is the driveway leading to a house on this promontory, but you know it's nice. We need to find someone to tell us where someone famous with a name we know lives, or has their summer cottage. I've suggested to Susie that she hook up with a real estate agent and pretend she's in the market for one of these places -- saw quite a few For Sale signs. Somehow I don't think the housing slump has sagged very much here -- give or take a few megabucks.

All this brings to mind our friends the Eatons' cabin overlooking Lake Herron in NM. Nothing like living on the water.

Landscaping gets your attention, too, like this blooming yard.

We stopped for lunch at Rocky Point which our friends, the Goods -- our Good friends -- had alerted us to. Beautiful day. Even saw a couple of whales from here.

For some reason I identify Big Sur with Kim Novak. Here's a link to a 1964 spread on her hideaway there. I couldn't find any pictures of her and her house to copy, so you'll have to follow the link -- it's pretty neat.

Novak was in Hitchcock's film, Vertigo, filmed in part in Big Sur, including scenes at this bridge.

And here's the coast below the bridge.

Along the coast there are a couple of places where the land levels out and there is ranching. My first California barn picture:

On the way back, caught this scene:

Well, we've been away from home for a month now. When we got back to Marina from our Big Sur drive and turned up the road to the RV park, Susie said, "We're home," so I guess we're getting used to it -- home is where the Tuzigoot is!

Still mild this evening, so we walked down to the beach to catch the sunset.


Susie and Rob

Monterey -- Report 3: 17 Mile Drive

Thursday, April 10. Weather has warmed up so we take the "17 Mile Drive." This loops through the west side of the Monterey Peninsula, past famous golf courses, like Pebble Beach, and fabulous homes and estates. Some shots:

Here is the lone cypress -- iconic image and state symbol -- somehow growing out of that rock. Its estimated age is 250 years.

Just after this next picture was taken, this lady was arrested for streaking across the Pebble Beach Golf Course. Said she heard there was a nude beach the other side of the green.

All along the coastal part of the 17 Miles are great houses in awesome locations. Often, it seems, the best views of these houses (which fascinate me as much as the rocky-shore scenes) are sites where there's no place to stop to get a picture or there are walls and hedges in the way. Here's one I shot holding my camera high and aiming it somewhere over the gate. Susie just knew I'd get arrested. Looks like an Italian villa, or rather what I think an Italian villa must look like.

Then there was this surfer dude.

Weather promises to be even better tomorrow -- in the 70s -- so we're going to take a drive down to Big Sur -- about 25 miles down the coast from Carmel.


Susie and Rob

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Monterey -- Report 2

Greetings, All.

Well, one week of class completed. I have nine students: three from the US Navy, two from the US Army, one each from the Navys of Bahrain, Korea, and Greece, and one civilian. All sharp and attentive. International students comprise about 25% of the students here. The highest ranking student is a Navy Commander -- a PhD candidate who plans to teach Math at the Naval Academy. Also have one faculty member -- a lecturer, who teaches a distance-learning beginning stat class -- sitting in on the class. He says he likes what I say! Managed to get a few smiles at some of my hilarious comments.

I have a nice schedule -- Lectures M, Tu,W; computer lab on Th, all from 1000 - 1050. That's military time for you civilians. Glad I don't have an afternoon class and have to figure out when 1400 is. As long as I can stay a week ahead with my class notes, this schedule will give us a 3.5-day weekend, Th-pm - Sunday.

This past Th, we went to lunch at a nice cafe here in Marina, then drove down to Carmel-by-the-Sea. We strolled among the shops and galleries, then drove Carmel's scenic drive along the coast. Carmel has lots of cottages that look like they could be lived in by trolls, or at least have their gardens tended by trolls. Very Hansel and Gretel looking. Also some large modern places, too.

Friday we drove about six miles north of here to Castroville for lunch at the world-famous Giant Artichoke Restaurant. Susie's on an artichoke quest out here so this seemed like a good place to start, as you can see from this picture.

Here's some artichoke facts from Susie:

The artichoke is native to the Mediterranean region. The vegetable we eat is actually the edible flower bud of the thistle-like plant in the sunflower family. Been eaten for 3000 years but became obscure during the fall of Rome--revived in Italy in the mid-15th century--then taken to France by Catherine de Medici at age 14--married to King Henry II of France....regained major popularity.

Now 100% of US commercial artichoke crop grown in California. In full growth the plant spreads to cover area about six ft. in diameter and reaches height of 3 to 4 feet. Peak season is spring and fall--140 varieties--less than 40 varieties are grown commercially.

The Artichoke Capital of US is Castroville, California--be still my heart. There's a festival there in May.

We looped home via Salinas, then made a Costco stop. Can't put too much Costco-size groceries and other stuff in Tuzigoot, though.

Speaking of Tuzigoot, here's how we set up the living room. We got a 4-ft. folding table for my laptop and our printer. It's sitting where the recliner usually is. We moved that out into the center of the room, sort of in the kitchen, just out of sight in the foreground of this picture. Susie has her computer on the kitchen table, so you can see our priorities.

Also, here's a shot of our "yard."

We've been sort of scouting out other sites in the RV Park, but think we'll stay here. There are some larger sites, but we're not sure they're worth the additional expense.

We haven't used the grill yet. The weather has been very repeatable -- lows in mid-to-high 40s, highs in high 50s-low 60s. Oops, this morning it was 38. Not real conducive to evening cook-outs. It's really chilly when you're exposed to wind coming off the ocean.

Saturday, while looking for the Monterey Methodist Church we found the Del Monte shopping center in Monterey -- a large place anchored by Macy's, Mervyn's, P.F. Chang's, and more. We hadn't known about this shopping center -- can you believe that?

Sunday was humor Sunday at Monterey Methodist. Preacher said historically the Sunday after Easter was a time for practical jokes. She decided to update that tradition with humor Sunday two weeks after Easter, which as you recall, came early this year. Theme was: Jesus is the life of the party. Several congregation members got up and told jokes as the service went along.

Woman dies and goes to heaven. St. Peter says I'll let you in if you can spell love. She does it correctly and he admits her. Asks her, though, to watch the gate while he runs an errand. Her husband shows up (we're not told how the two of them happened to expire at nearly the same time). He asks to enter. She says, Can you spell Czechoslovakia?

Man dies and goes to heaven. St. Peter says you're not on the list -- we're not expecting you until next week. So, we're going to send you back. But, in the meantime make sure you can answer the following three questions: 1. What two days of the week start with T? 2. How many seconds are there in a year? 3. What is God's first name?

A week later the man is back. SP asks, what days of the week start with T? Man says today and tomorrow. SP is not sure, but says OK. Next, how many seconds in a year? Man says 12. What? You know, January 2nd, February 2nd, .... -- 12 seconds. That's not what SP expected, but he says he'll take that answer. Now, what is God's first name? Man answers, Andrew. What? says SP. Man says, The answer is right there in the hymnal: Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, ...

There were also a few church bulletin bloopers read: "Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands."

Finished up with communion featuring little-fish crackers and orange juice. This may all sound a little slapsticky, but we enjoyed it all.
After church we went down to Cannery Row for lunch at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and some souvenir shopping. Gump wasn't there this time.

Here's a little cottage along Cannery Row.

That antique mall behind was quite extensive -- I found a greyhound bus, 50s vintage, for my collection.

Twas a nice weekend.


Susie and Rob