Saturday, June 21, 2014


There was a time when being on the other side of the country, attending a big meeting, or doing some mentoring was glamorous. That time has passed. Though I still managed to make the best of being in DC for the week, I left my heart in Oakland, and it's easy to see why. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fathers Day

I like my holidays low key, so we decided to go with a hike and a picnic to celebrate Fathers Day this year. There are about 25 miles of hiking trails whose the trail head is less than a block from our house. It's taken us two years, but we finally walked across the street and started exploring them this week. 

This particular hike was a short one- a little more than and mile if you include the part of the path that we doubled because  I took us down a wrong fork. But it was great to get out and just cruise around among the trees. There's even a large picnic area with a fire pit we hope to make use of before summer's out. 

Ba Gia

Means old lady in Vietnamese. Our sister joined those ranks today, celebrating her 30th year with a Ly Family Taco bbq at Lake Merrit. A twist on Dad's legendary maridade, Anh and I rolled out both BBQs lakeside and threw down some meat and some fixins Bi chose - pate, quayle eggs, pickled everything- into some corn tortillas. Oakland fusion. 

You can tell from these pics that it went from sunny to breezy to downright cold in about 2.5 hours. Even the weather wanted to be Oakland fusion. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014


I have no idea how people are able to get those perfectly posed professional photos of their kids.  Their kids are not like our kids.  Getting one kid to look at the camera and deliver a natural-looking smile is a near impossible task for us.  Getting both kids to do it simultaneously without at least one parent trying to adjust a dresses or collar or wipe some drool is something I just can't even imagine.

We had the photographer for an hour, at the park across the street from our house.  I even baited Huelan with a tadpole catching session immediately after the photo shoot if she would cooperate.  That's a biiiiig incentive.  That wasn't fully effective.  I'm admittedly overly critical with these sorts of things, so while we did end up with a few pretty good ones, immediately after the shoot I was pretty frustrated.  I've taken enough pictures to know what it feels like to potentially have some great shots, and this did not feel like that. At least we got one of the four of us that will work, which honestly was more of a relief than anything. It was the first time we'd brought in a pro photographer and I was hoping for some magic.  Oh well. Huelan wins this round, but I want a rematch.

Here's a pic of her after she scooped up some tadpoles.  She even managed to snag a baby frog. Strictly catch-and-release. At least we had one good smile out of her that day!


Another 13 weeks comes to a close and the ballet/tap class is back at it- the session end recital.  They've added a few things to their repertoire, which admittedly wasn't vast to begin with, but their increased comfort is evident.  I would prefer her have a tough-ass, french speaking ballet instructor who speaks with a Russian accent and walks with a cane, but Huelan and the other girls seem to like Ms. Ariel quite well.

This time we brought Vansen, who was pretty enthralled by the whole thing, and Sophia, who has a few days between the end of school and the beginning of tennis.  Seeing all the girls dressed up and wearing extra-wide grins in front of their parents and grandparents is just as cute as you would imagine. For 10 girls, there are about 45 cameras in the audience.  We had three.  Maybe four.  The fawning families and the beaming girls made for an outstanding show, and what they lacked in precision and grace was well compensated for with enthusiasm. I love the leap she does in the middle of the first embedded video- reminds me of Sister Mary Catherine Gallagher from SNL.

One of the funny things is that for their last number, the teacher just said eff it and had all the girls sing "Let It Go" and run around in circles while she cleaned up and got ready for the next class.

There are nine videos.  I'm embedding a couple and will leave links to the rest.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Video 5

Video 6

Video 7

Video 8

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Last weekend I hooked up a hammock on the deck. 

Not much else got done. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Our First Camping Trip

Patty and I had one of our firsts this weekend and camping was a lot of fun.  We drove about 3 hours south off the 101 to the Arroyo Seco Campgrounds. I reserved the "group site" which was really cool since it's isolated from the rest of the grounds and it was awesome.  Patty and I stocked up on a load of new camping gear and hope to camp more often with family and friends.

One of the highlights was our hike down to the Gorge.  We swam and hung out on the rocks for a little sun bathing.

Check out the pictures.