The Promise, In Progress

Seldom is art so heroically understandable. Planting the seeds of knowledge!

But it’s a changing world. And so more or less across the street it looks like this…

I was intrigued by the idea of a plaque in the sidewalk in front of a vacant car dealership. More San Bruno history (with transcription helpfully provided by text recognition on my phone, first time I’ve used this feature)!






Hangry Planet

Just on the other side of the freeway from the national cemetery sits the Hangry Planet mini mart. It’s just a convenience store at a gas station, but it’s vegan and is very proudly making that point on its social media and, obviously, with its signage. Good on ya, I say, although you are perhaps reinforcing the stereotypes about vegans talking about being vegan.

In their parking lot over by the self-service car vacuum is this statue of Alfredina the T-Rex. A sign reads “Any visual interpretations here of Putin as a nefarious monster worthy of being consumed by Alfredina amounts to coincidental community art not necessarily reflective of the perspectives of The Hangry Planet or Tanforan Shell.” Whatever you say.


I’d never been to San Bruno, CA until landing at SFO last Friday and transferring to the convenient and surprisingly nice Marriott Courtyard there.

Overall, I’d say San Bruno is left off the tourist itineraries with good reason… it’s mostly nondescript housing, under the flight path, and criss-crossed by freeways and railroad tracks.

And yet… getting off the BART train I was deposited into The Shops at Tanforan, a half-empty mall. And it turns out that the mall sits on the former site of Tanforan racetrack, which in turn was the main site used to stage the detention of San Francisco’s Japanese-descended people during WWII. From there, they were transported to the Topaz internment camp. In addition to this memorial, there’s a nice interpretive display in the BART station describing the internment and its legacy.

At some point before starting this blog, while trawling through the used books at a Salt Lake City thrift store I found a moderately rare book about the Topaz experience. I was able to donate it to the group that was raising funds for a Topaz museum, which has since opened.

And so, while San Bruno won’t be competing with Fisherman’s Wharf for tourist dollars anytime soon, there are more reasons to visit than I would have thought at first glance. I was glad to add another serendipitous link in my chain of places and stories.

A hard case

International rules for carry-on baggage are tougher than they are on 🇺🇸 flights, and the trips are longer, so now I’m a person who checks a big roller suitcase. It feels a little weak compared to being a true road warrior, but it’s nice to have plenty of room and space to mule back a few things from Walgreens etc.

For my jet lag recovery day I’m in San Francisco, and I figured — correctly — that all they had to do was put the bag on and off one plane. Very little risk of it getting lost.

But the gremlins got me anyway! After clearing customs, about half the plane’s baggage made it out before the conveyor jammed leaving the rest of us standing around for most of an hour. It was pointed out to me that Bruce Willis would have just slid down the chute to get his own damn bag.

Tomorrow morning it’s on to the outskirts of Las Vegas for a week of standards-setting with my HL7 whānau. In this case, what happens in Vegas will stay in Vegas simply because all our friends and families are reeeaaaalllly tired of hearing about the committee meetings and keynote speeches and 3-year roadmap updates.

Lilyus Maximus

This ginormous tiger lily, fresh off the set of Fantasia or possibly Avatar, came from our very own backyard. Lee had to cut it before it took over the whole property.

First island to the left and straight on til morning

Since New Years Auckland has enjoyed some pretty crap weather. It’s been windy and rainy. And even on the clearer days it’s been tough to swim because the rain washes a bunch of yuck into the bay.

But we found a brief window on Sunday morning and took full advantage. Out past that island, then swing to the right just past the edge of the picture, and then back in. It was mostly calm, with a few waves breaking out on the reef to make it interesting.

I felt like I earned my blueberry cream cheese muffin…

Babaco, baby!

Obviously I have a bit of work to do to stain the fence, but soon enough that stick you can barely make out in the middle of this bed will be supplying an abundance of delicious babaco fruit.

We got this cutting from Heather, a pétanque friend, who has a gorgeous backyard garden.

And then, just by chance because now we know what they look like, we saw an older one on a path we walk often. I hope ours grows a few more leaves, however.

New neighbors

This giant ficus tree is the dominant feature of a house just up the road from us. It sold last year, and at the time thought to ourselves that the new owners would have plenty of work ahead of them.

We haven’t met them yet, but they seem like the kind of people we want on the street… always decorating for the holidays, painting and fixing, that sort of thing.

And now they’ve totally won us over with this fairy house door… perfectly placed!


One of the advantages of moving a lot is still feeling a little like we’re on vacation even doing normal things. So when the Christmas break found us with no plans to fly away, nor really the motivation, no big deal.

We dined with friends, did a few projects around the house, went to the beach a couple of times, did some shopping, saw the new Avatar in IMAX… and of course went out for a boozy brunch. Best of all, we didn’t feel the least bit deprived for the lack of an airport experience.

Out with the old

Compared to the USA, in NZ it’s much more common to move into a house without any appliances (or whiteware as it’s known here). We negotiated with our sellers to leave everything behind for us. Even though most of the appliances were somewhat older, they were good quality brands, and we didn’t want the hassle of shopping for those big items while we were moving.

But things break. Our stove lost a burner a few weeks ago, and we were pretty easily swayed to buy a new one instead of repairing it.

The new cooktop is about 6 inches wider, giving us an additional burner. But most importantly it’s induction!

So far we like the controls better than the old stove (although we wouldn’t have minded actual knobs you can turn, that’s basically not an option on these drop-in cooktops) and we REALLY like the quick heat and cool of the induction elements. All our good pans (thank you Costco in 2008 or so) work just fine on the induction surface.

We already replaced the oven last year… what will go next? Maybe our second-hand freezer, or maybe the microwave? Time will tell…


We spent New Years Eve with our friends Malcolm and Di, and amazingly made it to midnight still awake. We walked down to the end of their road to see the Sky Tower fireworks show.

We’re hoping that even more people get to have a great 2023 (except for the seditionists, the invaders, the deforesters, the propagandists, etc).

A moving image

At the start of yesterday’s swim we saw a photographer all set up to take sunrise pictures. It turned out I know her husband through work… another example of what a pleasantly small town Auckland can be.

She took this shot of us wading into the water and sent it along later in the day… beautiful! It’s created using a technique called Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) where you jiggle the camera using a slow shutter to create these blurry images.

Thanks Anna for the picture, a great way to remember my last swim of 2022.


Until recently, this house and yard were obscured by piles of stuff, old broken cars, etc. An old man would sit on the porch and watch the world go by.

One day, Lee saw it all organized into big piles on the lawn, and now there’s temporary fencing across the front. With all the stuff gone, we can see the house sagging and rotting more clearly.

It will likely be torn down and replaced by half a dozen townhouses. Densification certainly makes sense in the big picture, but it’s a little disconcerting every time we see this happen. Hopefully the man who lived there has been able to move somewhere with a little more social support… if he owned this property outright he just got a check that should cover his life’s expenses quite comfortably.

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