Saturday, August 24, 2013

From Bakersfield to Boston

 In August I spent two days in Boston doing strategic planning with my new client. My last client operated only in California and so I am done with travel to places like Bakersfield and Sacramento, at least for a while. I really enjoyed this trip east, as quick as it was and even though it lacked any extra time to see the locals. I’m sure Kathy would have gone on an early morning run with me but who am I kidding – it was brutal enough doing those meetings on five hours of sleep. My client has funky, hip offices, more Google-style than Big Blue. In one of the kitchens there are large canisters of M&Ms, gummy bears and chocolate covered pretzels. I needed those M&Ms to supplement the 7:30am breakfast (which was 4:30am in my head)!

We were in Cambridge, actually, an area I do not know well. The client offices were on the MIT campus and during the 20 minutes I had to myself I took a close look at the Frank Gehry-designed Ray and Maria Stata Center. The Stata Center houses MIT’s Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science Labs. I’m a fan of Gehry in general and this building is especially interesting. It looks as if it's about to collapse. Columns tilt at scary angles. Walls teeter, swerve and collide in random curves and angles. Materials change wherever you look: brick, mirror-surface steel, brushed aluminum, brightly colored paint, corrugated metal. Everything looks improvised, as if thrown up at the last moment. It’s a metaphor for the freedom, daring and creativity of the research that's supposed to occur inside it.

It was a mild summer day with temps in the 70s so it seemed that everyone in Boston with an urge to exercise outdoors was doing it along the river.

(Sidebar: We stopped briefly at UCLA en route home from Newport Beach. Many buildings were named: Jules Stein Eye Institute, Davies Children’s Center, Geffen Playhouse, Armand Hammer Museum. I don’t remember this from my Midwestern college days. Maybe it’s because the buildings were old and historic?)

The MIT campus is beautiful, a mix of old and new architecture and grassy open spaces. I kept hoping that the older, more historic buildings would be labeled so I’d know more about them without having to resort to Google later. This wasn’t the case.

Every time I come to Boston I remember how much I like it and hope one of our kids will go to school there. And then I remember that it’s 2,500 miles from where we live and that I’d miss them. It’s a good thing that I don’t get to make these decisions for them.

We had two amazing working dinners – the first at The Red Lantern, where the wait staff seemed to push the drinks more than the seafood-heavy Asian food – and the other at Al Dente, traditional, heavy Italian dishes in the North End.

On the way home I caught an earlier flight and the gate agent even waived the change fee as they were in a rush to close the doors and depart.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sprinkles Ice Cream

Sprinkles, the cupcake bakery that started in Beverly Hills in 2005, now does ice cream! There's only one Sprinkles outpost in Northern California and that's at the Stanford Mall. I've been a few times. What a surprise. It's very convenient to Neeracha's house. And my new client, now that I think about it.

In Newport Beach there exists Sprinkles Ice Cream, two doors down from the cupcake shop. It's ridiculously pricey, as is everything in Newport Beach because it includes the de rigueur valet parking, and we waited in line 25 minutes to indulge.

Pictured here is Dave's ice cream sandwich, which is made from two cupcake tops and ice cream. My single scoop of strawberry ice cream was very good.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Penny Boards

We're in Newport Beach this week for one last hurrah before school starts. We're staying with Nini and Sydney, my aunt and uncle.

Yesterday we walked around Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula. Nini and Syd are often visited by their grandchildren so their home is equipped with Razor scooters, boogie boards, beach chairs and umbrellas and a gazillion towels. I love how they have posted Summer House Rules. Seriously! No electronics at meals. Wet towels are shaken out and then go straight into the washer.

Newport Beach is beautiful. I'm surprised how uncrowded it is, especially the beaches on the Peninsula. We ate lunch at Ruby's on the pier and watched one very smart pelican eat all the small fish that the locals landed from the pier. A sea lion entertained us. The tiny beach houses are very cute and I want to rent one for a week or two. The dilemma: island for the cuteness or Peninsula for the beach??

The youngest Pinks got Penny Boards, adorable plastic skateboards. You can buy them off the rack or customize them by choosing the board and wheel color. Too fun!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The acupuncturist.

I've long been fascinated with eastern medicine. I love Thai massage. I believe in reflexology. And I believe that there are some gaps in what western medicine can accomplish.

While up at Tahoe last week I went to an acupuncturist, one recommended by a friend who found relief from his back pain there. My elbow had been hurting and now the pain was moving to my hand. As a writer, I spend the majority of my professional time banging away at a keyboard so this was a problem.

Tyler, aka Mr. Needles, was a nice enough guy. His office was in Tahoe City and looked like a cross between a doctor's office and a masseuse. Clean. With framed diplomas in all the right places. And a plush treatment table.

Mr. Needles took a detailed health history from me and then took my pulse from several G-rated locations. He looked at my tongue to gain insight into disharmony in my corresponding organs. Evaluating pulse strength apparently provides insight into systemic functions. Mine was strong in some places, weaker in others. Apparently I have some work to do to get back to being energetic, restorative and vital.

(As an aside, the evening prior Thing 1, Thing 2 and I did an outdoor yoga class. The yogi was way too spiritually goopy for my taste. Even Thing 1, who loved the class, later said to me, "What was all that stuff about empowerment and love and Republicans, Mommy?" We get it. This is Tahoe.)

Back to Mr. Needles. He then slowly inserted about a dozen needles into my hands, feet, arms and legs. I felt a little pinch when they went in and then, on some, a tingle. My toes got warm. I assumed that was a result of the needles but no, it was a result of the heat lamp pointed at my feet! Then I lay there for 20 minutes trying not to fall asleep. Mr. Needles had going the very same George Winston music I listen to when I am trying to fall asleep on a plane. Yes, Pavlov's Dog.

After that, Mr. Needles heated some of the needles using dried mug wort in stick form. Then he twisted some of the needles. Finally he pulled them out and advised that I would start to feel the effects in a day or so.

When I got home Dave asked me how I was feeling and if the treatment involved voodoo or waving dead chickens over my head.