Tag Archives: Centipede

ODNT Goes to San Francisco – Day 3

1:45 am

Wow. I don’t think I thought this whole trip journaling thing through. Beat the pavement (often severely inclined pavement) with six other people across San Francisco all day then return to the condo, get the kids to bed and wait for everyone to settle in so I can finally write everything down while the others sleep. Oh, yeah. And try to be interesting. And witty.

That’s hard for me even on a good day. Sigh.

But enough of my belly aching. Let’s talk about today. We did lots of planning so (spoiler alert) there’s great stuff on tap for the next few days. And we got out later than we should have (you hear this comment a lot on my family vacations) and started the day with the same one-mile walk from our condo to Pier 39 to try to charm our way into a (booked-until-August) Alcatraz tour. (My brother is known for these silver spoon moments in life.) Unfortunately, it didn’t work today so we settled for the next best thing: a bucket of Trish’s Mini-Donuts (36 in all) and hopped aboard the ferry for a San Francisco Bay cruise. The boat ride was awesome but (A) it was freezing and (B) the boat bar didn’t accept credit cards. (They could have made a fortune!)


Here I model for you my “snazzy,” new Mexican-made blanket-like pullover alongside my girl and my brother. I know. You are jealous. Not everyone can pull this look off.

But we braved the cold on the deck for the first half of the cruise and seated inside by a big picture window for the second. (I had to think of my hair at some point.)  And we took in a lot of great city views, sailed right under the Golden Gate Bridge and fully circled Alcatraz at a really slow, appropriately-eerie pace. Honestly, it seemed like they literally cut the engines for this part of the tour.


This might be the closest view I’ll be able to give you. Still bummed about that.

When we got off the boat, we did a little shopping and grabbed a late lunch (also known as an early dinner) at the Franciscan Crab Restaurant where we, along with (assuming the walls don’t lie) hundreds of famous people from the last century, ate seafood immersed in butter until it hurt to speak. (Bloated, after-dinner me just HATES menu-holding, wide-eyed, let’s-just-get-BOTH me. Come to think of it, still-suffering-from-late-night-indigestion me hates her, too.)

After dinner, we waddled over the Musée Mécanique, one of the largest working collections of antique arcade machines in the world. And, I have to admit, it was pretty cool. My kids loved it, too. Although half of the stuff in there was so very creepy. Check out this old relic called ‘The English Execution.’ The placard beneath it says “Place Coin in Slot and See the Last Rites Performed.”


Did I put a coin inside? Have you MET me?? 

Of course, I also found this one in the back of the arcade.


Check out the high scores below.


MRP = me. There was NO WAY I was advancing any higher than that.

But I learned I’m no longer cut out for 1980s video gaming as I gave myself a pounding headache in that place. Fortunately, everyone was ready to move on so we split up into a few groups. My brother and I took the scenic route back to the condo on foot with my girl. It was only a mile so we knew she could make it. And this time, instead of taking on the steep streets (say THAT three times fast), we opted for the rock wall of stairs. I honestly believe the Statue of Liberty has less.


The picture shows only about a tenth of the stairs we covered on the way up.

But we did it, with me only having to stop twice to massage my heart into submission, and we were treated to lots of amazing views along the way.


We escalated so high that I had to fight the urge to belt out “Climb Every Mountain” at the peak of our staircase ascent. It would’ve looked ridiculous, me being neither Julie Andrews nor a nun.

So far? I love San Francisco … but it’s definitely kicking my (hopefully decreasing in size because it’s not living its usual,  sluggish, 180-degree lifestyle) ass. We’ve got a lot planned for the next few days so I’m thinking I should get to sleep … right now.

Until tomorrow, I’ll leave you with this lovely view of the city I took with my phone’s crappy “zoom lens” from the boat today.


Click to read past installments of this trip journal … Day 1 – Day 2


KIDS TODAY ARE SOFT … and here are some of the reasons why

Remember the whole “When I was a kid, I had to walk 10 miles … at a 90 degree angle … in acid snow … through packs of rabid wolves … on genetically-altered, mutant ant beds” reprimand we all got as kids? Every generation gets the speech from their parents. And every generation swears they’ll never repeat it to their kids.

But we’re all a bunch of liars.

Case in point … I made the following observations recently while chauffeuring my kids to one of their many exciting adventures over the summer break.

  • Exhibit A … We were listening to ‘Tween Radio” on Pandora.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have radio stations geared specifically to MY age group.

  • Exhibit B … When a song came on that didn’t meet their collective satisfaction, they both yelled out “Skip!”

When I was a kid, we couldn’t just fast forward through radio airplay. You either suffered through the crap song OR you changed the station … to one of the three other decent FM choices available on your mom’s dashboard.

  • Exhibit C … When I inevitably pressed ‘Skip’ (because I am a lazy, Gen-X parent and it was easier than listening to the incessant squawking), Pandora ruthlessly went to the commercial break that airs after every five or six songs. Both kids let out an exasperated sigh. And the commercial went on for an “excruciating” fifteen seconds. It was absolute torture.

When I was a kid, the ads droned on for five minutes … which was approximately the same length of time as the segment of actual music that preceded each break. And WE passed the time by mimicking the voices and sound effects we heard. Problem solved.

So, at the risk of sounding like an 85-year-old, I’m just going to say it.


(and here are some of the reasons why)

Dear Son & Daughter,

(Wait here while I put in my teeth.)

In MY day …

When you liked somebody and wanted to publicize it … you didn’t use Facebook or Instagram. You used the school bathroom wall or you sent in a dedication to your local radio station when you hoped he or she would be listening. And, of course, they always were … because there was NOTHING ELSE TO DO!

When you ordered pizza … it was Domino’s. Your topping choices were cheese, pepperoni or sausage. And if they took longer than 30 minutes to slap it together and cause traffic accidents rushing it to your house, it was free!

When you wanted to make popcorn … you got out a big pot, popcorn kernels and oil OR, if you were lucky, your Jiffy Pop popcorn kit. Then, you burned yourself making it on the stove.

When you wanted to see a movie … you had to wait for the one summer kids’ movie to be released. When it finally came out, you saw it in the flat-floored theater holding the tiny paper sleeve of popcorn and the small Coke between your knees because there were NO CUP HOLDERS! And, with no PG-13 rating in existence, there was a good chance you’d get to hear the mother of all curse words in otherwise benign PG-rated films like Big.

When you wanted to buy that movie after it left the theaters … you waited a year for it to be released on VHS or Betamax, paid $80 for it and prayed the tape didn’t snap every time you had to rewind it in the machine. And the rewinding process could often take up to 5 minutes.

When that $80 video tape malfunctioned … you carefully used a pencil to rewind the entire spool of tape so you could salvage your new copy of Xanadu.

When you wanted to listen to music on the go … you used a walkman. It was as big as a VHS tape so it was tricky to manage while riding a bike. Unless you had a basket on your handlebars. That basket was also handy for storing extra cassette tapes (each holding up to 90 minutes of music!) so you could stop on the side of the road and change out your tunes when the mood struck.

When you used your walkman … you listened to the music through headphones, not earphones. Big, goofy, sometimes neon-colored headphones. There was no hiding these “stylish” monstrosities.

When you liked a song and wanted to own it … you could either wait for your mom to bring you to the mall so you could spend your allowance to buy the record or cassette tape OR you could chain yourself to your tape deck and wait for the song to come on so you could tape it, usually with the stupid deejay talking over the front and back ends of it.

When you wanted frozen yogurt … you put Yoplait in the freezer, as there was no such thing as frozen yogurt.

When you had a prize in a cereal box … it was in the cereal, not encased in a protective plastic condom between the cereal and the cardboard. Made-in-China craftsmanship, be damned. They mixed it right in with our food. And there was no squabbling over who got to keep it. If it fell into your bowl when the cereal was being poured, it was yours. (Yes, we started eating out of mixing bowls to work the system.)

When you had to sell candy or something for school … you had to put that crap in a wagon and walk the neighborhood by yourself unloading it door to door. And no one worried that you would be kidnapped.

When you wanted to watch TV … you had to choose between 5 channels and hope the antenna brought in good reception that day. Everyone in the house had to agree on the show. There was no split screen. And if your parents wanted the TV for themselves then you had to go use the old black-and-white, 12-inch you inherited from your great uncle that was plugged in the room over the garage.

When you wanted to play video games … you stuffed all your quarters into an old sock and begged your parents to take you to the arcade. If you were lucky, they liked the games, too. My dad almost always had the high score on Pac-Man and my mom on Galaga. My talent? Frogger and Centipede.

When you realized you wanted to be able to play video games at home … you begged your parents to buy an Atari, Coleco or Intellivision “gaming console.” You were usually stuck playing them on the old, 12-inch-black-and-white television you inherited from your great uncle (see above) so you weren’t always occupying the “good TV.”

When you wanted to communicate via wireless technology … you used a walkie-talkie or, if your family splurged a little, a cordless telephone. And all of these items didn’t work worth a crap. You were better off with two cans and a string.

When you had a question and you needed answers … you had several options: (1) ask your parents, (2) ask your friends, or (3) get your mom to drive you in the station wagon to the library, look up the Dewey Decimal number in the card catalog, find the stupid book and then sift through it ’til you found what you were looking for. And all of that usually came at the expense of a Saturday.

When you got a McDonald’s Happy Meal (because NO other restaurants made kids’ meals) … you got a slider-sized burger, a handful of fries, a packet of cookies (truly the best part), a thimble of Coke and a toy. They did not ask what gender the toy was for when you bought it. And you couldn’t swap it out for anything else.

When you wanted a diet soda (though I don’t know WHY you would) … you got nasty, skunky, turpentine-tasting Tab. One calorie of pure evil in a can. Seriously, that should’ve been their ad campaign.

When you wore shoes (IF you wore them) … you had two choices: sneakers and flip-flops. And you wore them until they fell apart. Even in the pool.

Alright, fine. It’s not like I grew up in the middle of the Bubonic Plague or anything but I still contend that today’s generation is way softer than mine. I had fun lampooning my kids and myself coming up with these little gems and could probably think of a dozen more if I applied myself. (See lazy self-reference above.)

What do YOU think? What did I miss?

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