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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Monday, June 2 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterBirthday by the Bay

Saturday was one of the best birthdays I can remember. One year in my Nanty Glo years a good friend gave me the ultimate birthday gift, a whole case of 24 bottles of Sun Drop (think "stronger Mountain Dew," if you are too young to remember Sun Drop), each bottle in its separate wrapping. I remember being given a birthday party for my eighth birthday, jointly with my brother Gary, whose birthday was less than a week after mine (though he was 12 that year). I remember that many of my pre-teen birthdays were special because they fell on the day after Memorial day and often we were with extended family on "Decoration Day" anyway. I remember my worst birthday, my 39th, but I'll defer to describe what made it so bad except to say it was my last as a married man. Ironically, there was a party for me that year, too.

Kevin and Mike in Ireland last August

But this year's was one of the best, not with a party, but full of surprises. My sons Mike and Kevin and their girlfriends gathered at the usual Saturday time for our weekly brunch, the only family time I have other than holiday get-togethers. As we started toward Starbucks, Kevin, who was driving, asked where I'd like to go for my birthday brunch. He suggested Chef Jia's, my favorite restaurant. But it's in San Francisco, an hour's drive away, and since this hadn't been planned, I doubted that everyone would be up for it. But Kev pressed it again, I polled everyone, and everyone said they were game. So after our coffee we were off on the World's Most Beautiful Freeway™, on our way to San Francisco, "Everybody's Favorite City™."

Chef Jia's wasn't open when we arrived in early afternoon, but that led us to go to one of Chinatown's most famous restaurants, the Empress of China, where celebrities including the elder President Bush is pictured among its diners. The food wasn't as good as Chef Jia's, but the views from its sixth floor dining room were spectacular. Afterward, after some browsing through Chinatown stores and windows, Kevin's fiance suggested a walk to adjacent North Beach, San Francisco's bohemian Latin Quarter where folk music, strip clubs, many stand-up comedians, and beat poets have all had their turns as the fad of their time, all but comedians of which, thankfully, are past their time now. We found an authentic Italian sidewalk cafe for espressos, something which in the scores of visits I've made to one of my favorite locales in the world, I had never done before.

Then, it being a perfect California day with warm sunshine but not too hot, we drove across the city to the Pacific beach at the end of Golden Gate Park, one of the very best urban parks in the world, but one that is also rivalled by several other parks in San Francisco itself, including the Golden Gate National Recreation Area which gives the best photo opportunities and views of the Golden Gate Bridge; and they are all free not only for admission but for parking. We drove a few miles south to Fort Funston, another of the City's worldclass parks, famous for its hang gliders flying like huge birds up and down the coast for several miles in either direction, and trails leading to and through World War II bunkers built to withstand any possible Japanese invasions.

After watching the hang gliders and hiking for a while, it was back to Golden Gate Park for dinner at dusk at a second story restaurant above the park headquarters, offering a wonderful sunset view of the Pacific surf and adjacent dunes. A short walk from that restaurant is a Dutch windmill donated to the city by the Queen of the Netherlands in 1902, which is surrounded by colorful flower beds (tulips, in season), which was our last sight in the city for the day. But the drive back I-280, the World's Most Beautiful, as twilight descended on the golden hills was the perfect climax of a perfect day.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 More good neighbors, 2

A man was trying to pull out of a parking place, and bashed the bumper of the parked car in front of him. Witnessed by a handful of pedestrians waiting for a bus, the driver got out, inspected the damage, and proceeded to write a note to leave on the windshield of the car he had hit.

The note read: "Hello. I have just hit your car, and there are some people here watching me who think that I am writing this note to leave you my name and phone number. You should be so lucky!"

Thoughts for today

Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.
Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.
A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
Happiness comes through doors you didn't even know you left open.
We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors.... But they all have to learn to live in the same box.

— Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

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