Today's exciting lunch excursion is Giovanni's Fish Marker & Galley. 

Considering that this is an order-at-one-window-pick-up-at-another kind of place, 
it has a bit of ambience. Still, the thing to look at in Morro Bay is always the same thing: the smokestacks. 

Actually, it is nice outside on a sunny day watching real fisherman doing their jobs. 

In spite of the steaming seafood thing sitting right out front, there is enough on the sandwich menu to satisfy people like me who don't eat fish. 

I had a grilled cheese. 

So there's not much to say about the food. It's cheap. It's fine. 

Happy Easter

Morro Bay style

Slot Cheese?

Yeah, I don't know either. 

Dutchman's Seafood Restaurant

Today's new restaurant experience is brought to you by Zoltar. 

Does Zoltar predict a good meal? The future is murky. And so is the cell signal here.  Verizon 2 bars/1x. Not 3G, certainly not LTE. 

There are not many choices for a non-fishhead; especially since I'm stuck with the dinner menu. It looks like the lunch menu has more options.  (And fair enough, the sign doesn't imply anything else.)

So I got the burger. I asked for raw onions. I'm pretty sure the server read back to me, "grilled onions," so I repeated "raw onions." I think she said back to me, "yes, grilled onions.". We will see what happens. 

I should learn to speak Dutch.

The view is the same one all the restaurants along here have, except for those without a view at all. 

Which is why I drive here from Cayucos. I love Schooners Wharf, but I can't really eat there every day. 

Can I?

Ah, the burger came:

The fries are good and crisp. And the onions are raw. I think it's time to check my hearing. 

Avila Sea Caves

I was going to comment on the use of sharks for directional signage, but honestly the takeaway from my quick hike around Avila Sea Caves is that people are disgusting. There is trash everywhere here and some of the once-beautiful rocks are covered with graffiti.

And apparently the world is just an ashtray.

Painting Progress

I'm not a fast painter. I seem to be on a pace to make one a year. Last year's painting was the Cayucos Whirlpool. I think that took about six months, though I don't seem to have recorded the start here at the Abbey for some reason.

In early February, I started a new one. Every so often, I go out and work on the thing. As the weather has stabilized this month, I've gotten a few trips in over the last few weeks.

[Yes, "stabilized" is quite a word for weather where the high doesn't change more than 10 degrees over the whole year. Mostly, I'm talking about the fog and rain that we got -- little as it was. But, to be honest, there's a big jump between 60°F and 70°F when working outside.]

This is my first painting that I've tried to do any extensive drawing on.

I'm watering down the paint and trying to take a bunch of passes on each section.

I kind of like the idea that the pier is more defined to the right of the crane than to the left. I wish I'd thought of that and designed the painting around it.

Another Day in Morro Bay,

another Soviet luxury sailboat.

Click to make it bigger.

BEK РОССИИ does seem to translate as Age of Russia (or Russian Century).

Update: Oh, this is neat. The boat was meant to compete in the America's Cup back in '92, but the club that owned the boat ran out of money before it hit the water. According to the LA Times, it was destined to be destroyed, but this other page says it's been sailing around as a luxury yacht and it was built in the same place as Sputnik.

Well today it's hanging out in Morro Bay.

Here's a longer range picture.

Both these were taken from my iPhone in a dry bag. It was too bright for me to see the screen when I took the pictures. I'm amazed the boat's in it the pictures at all.

Seriously, Ralph's?

First Ride

A little late for a first ride.

And I'm embarrassingly out of shape.

And the wind is terrible, but the weather is lovely otherwise.

Birthday Tree 2015

Gosh, it's been a busy year. I'm run ragged.

It's almost two months late, but I finally got a birthday tree. I wish I'd gotten to it before last weekend's rain (maybe the last for a while?)

It's an olive tree. It should be good in this drought, but I've just learned that it could take up to five years for the first fruit. Which is going to be rough, since I've never lived in a house more than 5 years, and I'm already a year and two months into this house.

Last year's tree is doing well, I think.

Here's what it looked like when I planted it a year ago.

And here it is now:

This place is much better than Nevada City in this respect: my birthday trees aren't getting eaten by deer.

Everything is Stories

I had a nice lunch in Morro Bay at a place that's become somewhat regular for me, in spite of the rocky start. It's hard to beat sushi and French fries. I parked about a mile up the hill and walked down. Toward the end of my meal, a thunderstorm hit.

It wasn't loud and I never saw lightning, but it's the first thunderstorm I've listened to in years. And I love the colors when there is clear sky out at sea and a shower falling on the bay. We still haven't gotten to non-drought measures of rain, but this winter seems like it has had more storms than last winter. I am both looking forward and a little sad to look forward at the 9 or 10 months of no-rain ahead.

I ran out of podcasts, so I searched for a new one to add to my list and I got the recent episode of Everything is Stories. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It was an interesting story about a woman hooked up with a much older man and starting a commune. I'm going to give a few more episodes a try.

In the last 2 1/2 minutes, there's a separate segment that really jumped out at me. This guy gives a quick talk about meeting up at Morro Bay with a guy who then goes and drowns.

I know it's the New Car Effect*, but it's still weird to hear about your neighborhood when two years ago you'd never heard of the place yourself.

Here's a rainbow from up Los Osos Valley:

* I don't know if "New Car Effect" is the real name. It's that thing where you decide to buy a little Honda CRX and suddenly every car you notice on the road is a Honda CRX.

With Apologies to the Eagles and Cypress Hill

It has been one of those weeks. There's only one way to drown it out.


Is there really only one Google hit for "nomanomicron"?

Not any more.

Madonna Inn

When I mentioned where I lived to a colleague in Chicago, he said he still remembered staying at the Madonna Inn in the '70s, even which room. I said it was about 30 minutes from my house, but near the place I get Tubby's food. 

He told me I have to go, if only to see the bathroom. 

So on a food run tonight, I've stopped for dinner. I can't believe this place has been here and I've never bothered to stop by. The Madonna Inn is a large complex and has a steakhouse and a cafe. 

It's the night before Valentine's, so I'm at the Copper Café. It really is a copper café.

I'm sitting at the counter, but I think the booths would've awesome to bring someone for a bit of public privacy. 

The place is filled with stuff to look at, not to mention the fountains outside the building. 

The waitstaff was efficient and offered me plenty of refills in these heavy heavy glasses. 

The steakhouse menu was available even in the café, but I opted for the Monte Cristo.  

I've never had such a selection of jams for a Monte Cristo. The fries were perfectly crispy, too. This is a fun place I look forward to visiting again. 

Oh, the bathroom? The one in the café was ok, but nothing to write home about. It has interesting faucets. 

So I wandered over to the men's room under the steakhouse. The urinal is a waterfall cave: 

Interesting Vegetables from the Farmers Market

It's called Romanesco broccoli. And it's made of fractals!

I put mixed it into a pasta dish with loads of cream cheese, so I have not idea what it tastes like.

The only thing I really noticed is it had a crispier texture, closer to cauliflower.

And so a new painting begins...

In spite of yesterday's rain, I did get out to the shed and do a little canvas prep. I'm trying something I've never done before: an underpainting.

St Petersburg, Florida

The Wee Toaty Explorers haven't visited Florida in a very long time. It's a whole lot nicer in the winter than in the summer.

Well, maybe when it's winter, you have to keep warm.

Where Does the Time Go?

Yesterday marked one year since I bought this house in Cayucos. I suppose it's a sign of my age that the year just flew right by. Just like that, I'm 20% through my maximum stay in one place. 

It's been quite a year, without a doubt. 

I have found very little to complain about here. Although it's a beach town, the only  time tourists really made it hard was the Fourth of July. Otherwise, the beach is always fairly empty at the end of my street. 

I've not biked as much as I thought I would, it's true.  The wind here seems to never let up. But the wind on Morro Bay isn't always bad and I've gotten to kayak a bit. The seals and otters make it a nice paddle, and I like that I can hang out in the built up harbor area or launch into the empty estuary. 

My neighbors moved at the end of last month and took their very loud dogs with them. New folks moved in yesterday and I learned that while people will apologize for their loud dogs, they'll never apologize for their kids. 

I haven't done as many improvements as I'd like--even a run down beach shack was more expensive than I expected--I replaced the shower doors with a curtain, put covers on the shed walls and made a place to put my kayak. 

All-in-all I'm pretty happy with living at an altitude of 60 feet, though it has made travel to Boulder harder on my head. It's hard to imagine finding a place after this one, but it is still early days. 

Next step is to find this year's birthday tree. Last year was late, and this year will be, too, because of travel. 

Off the Hook part 2

Yep, I'm giving them a second try. I had a small kayak paddle around the bay today and I'm hungry. Already they're doing better: I've already been asked what I want to drink. 

The waitress confessed that she doesn't like seafood, either, and gave me advice on the sushi. This trip is looking good. 

There's a huge seal playing with some kayakers out the window to my right, but the staff has/have brought down the blinds to cut the bright light. And that's good; otherwise it'd be a million degrees in here. 

The lighting is hard, but it looks like good food. There's plenty of wasabi, which is nice and the avocado roll has an interesting mayo sauce. 

This is tasty food. 

The waitress was pretty good at asking about soda refills (I got a couple big wasabi chunks) and the table cleaner kept taking my plates. 

Overall a good experience and so much better than the first try. Sushi and fries--I'll be back

EOY: Reading

This will really be the only End of Year summary. I'm not feeling much for retrospection this year, which is ironic considering my involvement in this year's Retrospective Facilitators Gathering.

Here are the books I read in 2014:

There are 61 covers in that picture, but I'm only going to credit 56 because the six books of the Nunslinger Saga are each really just novelettes (if that) and were collected into a single book anyway.

With that number revision, 2014 was in line with 2012's 56 and above 2013's 42. I suspect this reflects the added stability of a single home for the whole year (almost).


It's been a good reading year.

This is the year when I fell back in love with science fiction. At some point, I tweeted that I thought Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice should win the Hugo. Gosh, it did that and more. A lot has been written about this science fiction novel, so I'll just repeat what I said last January: this book is completely up to the hype.

This is also the year that I fell back in love with fantasy. This series by Patrick Rothfuss is delicious, though it has not yet ended. I know there was a lot of talk about Lev Grossman's Magician books, which were good, but for me, if you're looking for a grown-up Harry Potter then The Kingkiller Chronicle is for you. This is a magic story as it should be told, with real adventure and a pint. If you like Locke Lamora, then you probably have already read these books.

I think that there are often stand-out books in the YA section that should live on their own on the adult shelves. I said in February that this series by Patrick Ness kept me enthralled to the last page. And snatches of it still walk around in my head. This is the story of a human colony that has fallen into the clutches of religious extremism and (more interestingly) is infected by a disease that makes the men (and only the men) involuntarily broadcast their thoughts to everyone around. I'd love to see this as a movie, but I can't imagine how they'd do it.

Not everything great this year was SF/F. Mick Herron's Slow Horses is a great spy novel. It tells the story of British agents who have failed into a division that's meant to keep them out of the way -- they messed up badly enough to be pulled off the streets, but not so badly that they can be fired, I guess -- and how they take initiative. This is good stuff.

Goodness, I could just go through and list every single book. Here are some other thoughts that fall neatly into categories:


In 2013, less than half the books I read were electronic. In 2014, 100% of the books were. And all of those, by the way, I read on iPhone. With this smaller shack I live in, there just isn't room to keep adding to the 1000 books I already can't fit into the house. On top of that, it's just so much more convenient for my business trips, especially now that we don't have to stop reading during take off and landing. I do miss the smell of used book stores, but I just can't justify bringing another object into this house to be put into a box or in storage. Maybe after the next move.

At any rate, I did read some things that I wouldn't have if I hadn't gone to Amazon Prime, and most of it was dreck. However, I did read one self-published series this year that really pulled me in. I wouldn't call it the most polished thing I'd ever read, but it hooked me and dragged me from book to book: The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker is worth the time.

Apocalypse Now

I'm not really a fan of apocalypse or post-apocalypse novels. I did not like The Road at all. But this year had two standouts for me, both I highly recommend:

The Last Policeman (Ben Winters) and its sequels tells the story of the time leading up the destruction of earth. Everybody knows it's coming; nobody can do anything about it. Should life go on normally anyway? What's a police officer to do when there's no future?

Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel) is another book that everybody has been buzzing about. I'd be surprised if this isn't on the Hugo ballot this year.


Speaking of the Hugo ballot reminds me that some time in the past I had started to grow bored with SF/F. It's the genre where my heart lives, but it hadn't done much for me for a few years. But this year, with the books above, I am excited about it again. So much so that I have to mention a couple more books I read this year.

City of Stairs (Robert Jackson Bennett) combines the best of other world fantasy with a detective/spy novel. This one will also likely make the Hugo ballot, if I am living in the same world as everybody else.

The Moon King (Neil Williamson) is a beautiful novel of the fantastic that is another great example of fantasy without all the baggage that the last century gave us. It deserves awards, but I suspect it's too quiet and beautiful to gain traction.


Female:Male -- 15:21 (by author count), 26:28 (by book count) - 1 writer/book unknown

Not much to say there, I think. It's about the same as last year. One of these years I will make a concerted effort to switch the order. I'm only a few books away. (I seemed to like to read other works by a woman author more often than books by men this year.)

Birth Country (by author count) -- 25 US, 5 England, 3 Canada, 1 France, 1 Scotland, 1 Australia, 1 Unknown

Still heavily American reading habits, sadly, and almost identical to last year. I am embarrassed by the lack of Asian and African writers in my pile.

Birth Decade

  • 1860s: X
  • 1870s: X
  • 1880s:
  • 1890s: X
  • 1900s: X
  • 1910s:
  • 1920s:
  • 1930s: XX
  • 1940s: XXX
  • 1950s: XXXX
  • 1960s: XXXX
  • 1970s: XXXXXX
  • 1980s: XX

I had a lot more trouble finding out ages this year. This is the first year I've read folks born in the '80s (thanks Robert Jackson Bennett and Nathaniel Rich). Neil Williamson is the closest to my own age.