Hannukah in California

Evelyn and I spent all eight nights of Hannukah in California this year, visiting with her parents near Santa Barbara. I’d been looking forward to the vacation for weeks earlier, and it was good to get away from the daily grind for so long. I spent a large part of the vacation setting up my in-laws’ new computer, an HP desktop model from last spring that they hadn’t figured out how to set up. Their old PC was from about 1998, so they were leaping straight from Win98 to Vista. I knew it would be more complex than just plugging in the new machine, and it took a lot more work than I expected it would take. Even the old speakers weren’t compatible with the new PC!

I also spent some time playing games. At the Hannukah party I taught a bored-looking family how to play Fluxx, which took a few rounds for them to get used to, but seeing them smile at the Jewish Fluxx add-ins was worth it. Also, my father-in-law enjoyed learning how to play Waterworks and Aquarius. And to our delight, my new tile game Wanderlust fits perfectly on an airline tray table! I have PDFs available if you’d like to try my latest game design. I think it’s ready for publishing!

On the sightseeing front, we took a brief tour of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, which had very interesting period architecture and some great murals. The next stop was at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, which is one of the better small galleries I’ve been in over the years.

But the highlight of the trip was when we went flying. Evelyn’s family friend Frank took us up in the air in his Rockwell 112 four-seater. We flew up and down the California coast for a few hours, taking in the rugged Santa Maria mountainscape from our vantage point while the pilots practiced some simple turns and maneuvers. Toward the end, we made several practice landings in a crosswind before calling it a day. Thanks for the flight, Frank!

P.S.: I broke the record for oldest book I’ve held in my hands… a calculus text from 1838!

Since my return, I’ve also played a new game, Amazing Space Venture. It’s a nice attempt to mix European "let’s build something together" strategy with American "take that" action. Considering all the rules questions we came up with in the first session alone, it’s a little more complex than it looks. I’d be willing to try it again, just not for a while.

My spree of spending dollar coins and $2 bills around town continues. I’ve found $2’s to be the easiest of the ‘weird money’ to get from banks, and several cashiers have insisted that I shouldn’t be spending them "because they are so rare". Hardly… after seeing hundreds of dollars worth of them, the myth of rarity quickly evaporates.

As I type this, Evelyn is making a draft snake for the bedroom window, to keep the winter drafts from chilling us.

Oooh, I nearly forgot to mention it! Ian soldered my old record player back into working order, the one that came built into the 1970s stereo cabinet Dad bought for me. I was glad to discover that the needle was still in good shape. Now I can play records from 16 to 78 rpm, bwa ha ha! My vinyl collection is just one disc so far, but I’ll keep my eyes open for more discoveries.

A political slogan: Listening is the linchpin of democracy.

An office slogan: The eager volunteer quickly finds himself with plenty of work.

Nifty Wikipedia Thing: The Uncanny Valley

Amusing Internet Video: The Complaints Choir of Helsinki

Movies I’ve Seen:

A Farewell to Arms (1932) ~ faithful adaptation of Hemingway’s classic novel

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) ~ faithful adaptation of Rostand’s classic novel

National Treasure (2004) ~ tongue-in-cheek playtime with history

The Polar Express (2004) ~ CGI-fueled Xmas tale, Hanks-apalooza

What I’m Reading:

"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac


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