La Vida

Letter by Great Grandmother About 1906 SF Earthquake

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English: San Francisco Mission District burnin...

San Francisco Mission District burning in the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

My dad came across this letter written by his Grandmother, Georgie McCormick née Bevell (my Great Grandmother), about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.  Today is the 110th anniversary of the earthquake so I decided to share it.  There are some shocking similarities to today’s San Francisco that remind me that we can all be hit by the big one and left to shoulder the damage together.

San Francisco – April 26th 1906

Dear Lizzie

Joe received your letter today & asked me to answer it. I suppose you received the letter he sent you & also the telegram.

I am happy to say that we are all safe so do not worry. We have had some narrow escapes. Joe lost everything & was not insured so he will have to begin all over again. I had to run from the fire three times but Millie & I saved my trunks & sewing machine. I consider myself very fortunate.

If you could only see this City – it presents an awful sight not a house in all this City that has not been damaged to some extent by the earthquake but Oh: the dreadful fire it looked like Judgement Day had come upon us. Houses collapsed . I lived near two Hospitals & it was dreadful to see all the people they took in there maimed & bleeding &some dead but considering the terrible disaster there has been comparatively few deaths – the papers claim that one thousand people have been killed. The thing to be thankful for is that it happened at a good time in the day and it was at 5:15 in the morning & also in the year. The weather is pleasant so there is little suffering from exposure.

The government has been very prompt in coming to our aid &the whole country is a friend in need. We grew so prosperous we thought of nothing else & in a few moments every thing was wiped away. All the Business Houses Wholesale & Retail – the New Hall of Justice, the City Hall, all south of Market St, all of North Beach, in fact the Whole City – except the out skirts near Golden Gate Park. Everything else is a laid waste – a heap of ruins.

San Francisco was a beautiful city – you would not had known it if you had come here two weeks ago. Such imposing buildings and now nothing.but a memory of them

It is hard to keep the tears back when one goes around & sees the destruction. It is a strange sight to see the people standing in line three & four blocks long waiting for hours for clothing & food at the different locations throughout the city. Joe is in the Relief committee of The Knight of Columbus so we get plenty of food. The Millionaires & the Laborers stand side by side waiting for food. We are all equal now. We see such strange sights – some funny & some very sad. The men are all pressed into service unless they have a permit. Joe had to play. Tuiman & Willie had to load a wagon with bricks & a neighbor of ours who is very rich had to clean up Market St . The Martial Law was very severe & the Citizens are all glad it is taken off – they were killing our prominent men & even women were killed by them such indignities as one had to suffer at their hands. They were the National Guards. I came very near being shot for having a candle lit. They would hardly give me time to put it out. They ran a bayonet through the door five times & threatened to shoot up the stairway & I was alone in the house. If you are ever where there is Martial Law for God’s sake do as they tell you at once. We have had an awful dose of it.

I think it will take a quarter of a century to build up again and no one I know will live to see it. Nobody seems to know just what they are going to do. We have no water to speak of. No gas & we have to cook in the streets. Not a street-car in the whole city is running. No telephones. When one stops to think of it – it is dreadful every where destruction. But we must be up and doing with a heart for any fate.

There is an old saying that misery likes company & we certainly have plenty of it – money & promises are forming in here in great guaranteed so I guess we will get along. Of course some people will get rich while some other suffer. Well I will have to bring this to a close as it is getting late – candles have to be out at 10 PM.

So Goodbye love to all & write soon.

We are staying with Georgies’ sister at 137 Divisadero St. C/o Mrs Williams.


Desperately Seeking Noma Tokyo Dinner Date

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MV5BMTIzMzA5NjIzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTA2NTI5._V1_SX640_SY720_‘Desperately seeking’ is actually kind of a stretch (I’m not that desperate) and a play on that good old Madonna movie.  I never really bought into the Rosanna Arquette being Madonna thing, but that is another story…  I am actually here to talk about finding a date for my birthday dinner, so read on.



I have a dinner reservation for Noma Tokyo for my birthday in the last week of January. If you don’t know what Noma is then you are pretty much already excluded from the criteria that I am setting forth for this date, but here is a little background anyway.

Noma, currently voted the world’s best restaurant, will relocate to the Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo for six  weeks, offering lunch and dinner 9 January to 14 February.  There have been 60,000 people who have applied for reservations. Note:  A reservation for 2 at Noma Tokyo recently went at auction for $4,500. –

Yes, there were 60,000 people who tried to get this reservation and I am lucky enough to have secured one for two. And, sadly, I don’t have a dining companion. So I decided since I’m single and dateless on what will be my 39th birthday that I would open up the opportunity for someone to take advantage of this crazy, once in a lifetime meal and find myself a date.  Could it be you?

What’s The Deal

You will be my guest for a fabulous dinner at Noma Tokyo in the Mandarin Oriental during the last week in January 2015. This means that I will pay for your dinner and wine pairing.

You cover your airfare to Tokyo and your accommodations whilst there. Roundtrip flights from SFO as of today (Jan 09) are around $1,000.

I have my own flight and accommodations sorted.

If we get along maybe we can hang out in Tokyo a bit, but not a requirement.

About Me


38 (going to be 39 as of meal) / 5’6 / slim shady
Likes to read, watch movies & bad TV, blog, play ukulele, go to theater and lectures, play board games, cook, hang out with bald cats, scuba dive, nerd out on gadgets, travel and eat good food.
twitter: @nerdgirl blog: insta: sneffyrobogeisha (beware: a lot of cat pics) linkedin:

About You

You live in the Bay Area so we can meet up beforehand to see if it is a fit.
You are single. Like properly single. No attachments.
You are a male.
You are between 28-46.
You know how to use a fork and knife properly. Knowledge of Japanese etiquette a big plus.
You have good conversational skills.
You are easy on the eye.
You are able to make that evening & cover your flight / accommodations costs.

How This Works

You fill out the form. I narrow it down to 3 finalists and schedule a meetup – coffee probably – and then I select my date by January 16th 17th .

I will do my best to write back to everyone that responds to let them know one way or the other by Wednesday, Jan 14th Friday, Jan 16th.

Sorry! Due to an overwhelming response, I’ve decided to extend a bit so I can make a decision and look over all the new submissions.

Get those submissions in!

How to Apply

Button Text

The more detail you give, the better.  If you don’t include a picture then you won’t be considered.

Will This Be You?

Updates To This Story

Jan 16 update
I’m coordinating coffee with the last few people. I actually decided to go for more than three since the response was so great that it was nearly impossible to select only three. My plan is to consult with friends and family tomorrow morning (Saturday) and make a decision by the evening. Thankfully I checked airfares to Tokyo and they have gone down about $50 from last week, so even though it is last minute it is doable.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is how to do the follow up to this entire story. Everyone is asking me “what’s next”? I really haven’t had a moment to sit down and hash it all out, but I hope to do updates from Tokyo and also a little bit of reflection on this week and this process in general.

Stay tuned!

Jan 13 update
I didn’t think that this was going to go as crazy as it has. I am honestly humbled by this entire experience and I haven’t even gotten to the grand finale! I have extended the deadline so I can accommodate for all the responses that have been pouring in. I will do my best to get through all of them. I don’t know if I’ll be able to respond to all of them by Friday, but I will work on it over the weekend. Everyone has been really great. There are so many awesome guys out there that it is going to be really difficult to pick just one. Thanks everyone for being supportive.

Now – more fun news…

11162913_800I have now, through a wonderful former work colleague, scored a lunch reservation at Jiro’s sushi restaurant. Yes, this Jiro. My date will be invited along to that as well although I’m not going to foot the bill. This is an optional excursion, but one that probably shouldn’t be missed.

There have been other adventures that are being planned for Tokyo that include whiskey drinking, private cooking lessons, snow monkeys (that is out of town) and secret places with the local crew. All optional, but will be pretty great.

FAQ (as they come up)

Why a guy in the Bay Area?  Why not anywhere?

Because I would like a chance to meet the person first and vet them for compatibility.  I am also looking to potentially date someone for longer than just the dinner night.  Even if a total romantic thing doesn’t happen, I thought this would be a good way to meet someone cool and have a great story to tell.

Do I need to like bald cats?

Yes.  OK, not right off the bat, but the idea of not totally hating them needs to be somewhere in his mind.

Will I be humiliated publicly for applying?

No.  I will only share info about the final date if that person agrees to it.

Didn’t I see this somewhere?

Thanks to the awesome folks at The Bold Italic (particularly Tamara Palmer) for being the first to write about my date.  Truly awesome.

There was a great segment with David Begnaud on CBS Morning News hosted by Gayle King and Charlie Rose. Wow! That was crazy! Gayle, please say hi to Oprah!

I was also on the KFOG Morning Show on Tuesday, Jan 13 to talk about the date.

And to all my friends who have shared this. Feels pretty nice to have so many cool people supporting this idea.

Fixing Grandma Ginger’s Watch

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There is a great legend in the Robesky family about Grandma Ginger.  Well, there are a few, but this one always made me laugh and kind of exemplifies good old Ginger.

For Christmas one year Robley (my grandfather) asked Ginger what she wanted for Christmas.  Ginger made a list.  The list went something like:

  • Exercise bike
  • Something else
  • Diamond watch
  • Etc…

Christmas day comes around and everyone is opening their gifts.  Ginger opens hers and it is a lovely diamond watch.  Ginger looks at Robley – and to everyone’s shock/horror – says, “I didn’t want this.  I wanted an exercise bike!”.

Turns out that he bought her the most expensive thing on the list, but she wanted the list in the order that she had put it.  She didn’t hesitate to let him (and everyone else) know that she was unhappy.

Years later and Grandma Ginger is no longer with us, but I did get the diamond watch which I have recently had fixed so that it would fit my wrist.  Ginger had tiny wrists, seriously minuscule, so I could never wear the watch that reminds everyone of what a lovely person my Grandmother could be.

Until now.  I promise to wear it faithfully and remember the life lessons in bitchiness that my Grandma Ginger taught me.

Just The Tip or The Story of How Oscar Lost His Tail

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In the annals of bad pet ownership I should receive a new award.  I failed my poor kitten Oscar miserably and epically this last week.  All in the name of trying to actually help him.

Let me try to describe Oscar for those of you who don’t actually know him personally.  He is a tiny, bald, penis-like sphynx who has been described as Gollum or plain old rat.  I think he is adorable and love the little guy as much as he drives me bonkers.

Oscar is a very highly-strung, neurotic cat.  He always has been.  I’m not sure what I can attribute his oddities to, but I usually blame myself.  Oscar came home to me when he was 16 weeks old in 2012 and I was in a really bad state.  I ended up going to the hospital for a two week stint after he was with me for about a week so I have some guilt over the fact that perhaps he felt abandoned by me and has never fully trusted me since.  Plus when I was in the hospital he bonded deeply with Mark who then gave Oscar back to me when I was out of the hospital, so he was doubly abandoned.  These things may or may not have contributed to the fact that Oscar is a little bit nuts.

He is a little bit needy.  He is a lot bit vocal about things.  He will definitely let you know when he wants something by either screaming in your face, walking on your head or making a weird throaty noise.  He also likes things on his own terms which means you don’t pet him unless he tells you to pet him and even then he may not have told you to pet him even if he did rudely jump into your lap and shove his face into yours.

Oh and he is gay and loves men, especially men with stubble.

Anyways.  Oscar is neurotic and anxious.  Like me.

When Oscar was a kitten he liked to suck on his tail.  We all thought this was hilarious.  But as Oscar has gotten older he has continued to be obsessed with his tail.  He walks around in circles to try to catch it and then he chews on it.  Non-stop.  He doesn’t really damage the skin, but he does do this behavior compulsively.  It is disturbing to watch and probably disturbing to him to be so preoccupied by it (but then I am just humazing his actions, so who really knows).

We went to the vet and the vet suggested we try some steroid cream in case it is a rash.  It was not a rash.  They told me that if he continued this behavior that we would try prozac and behavioral therapy and if that didn’t work then amputation of the tail was an option.  I really wanted to avoid any of these options, so I decided to do my best to get him through this naturally.

I bought Feliway diffusers which release calming cat hormones and placed them in two rooms.  This did nothing to quell his anxiety and he kept gnawing on the tail.

I got some Bitter Apple stuff to put on his tail that was supposed to taste bad, but that did nothing.


So I read a few forums and decided to get some Vetwrap 3M tape to wrap his tail to see if that would deter him.  I wrapped his tail up with the cute purple wrap and set him loose.  And for 24 hours it seemed like he was leaving it alone.

Then I took the tape off.


And it was a horror show.   Oscar had chewed the tip of his tail off.  Plus the tail was purple.  I suspect that I wrapped the bandage too tightly and him chewing on it compressed it even more to the point where it necrotized his tail.

FUCK.  I FUCKED UP.   Yes, I essentially maimed my poor kitten.

We rushed to the vet and I was told that they would have to amputate.  Now the question was how much of his tail did I want to remove.  OMG.  What a question.

I knew from previous experience that my brother and his wife had to have their cat’s tail amputated because he suffered from the same tail chewing obsession.  Their poor guy had to go through two amputations because he didn’t stop the behavior after the first time and that was the last thing I wanted to do to my already overly sensitive, traumatized cat.  So I decided to do the full tail amputation.

Oscar went into the vet the next day for his surgery and I told them to do the full tail.  I got in the car and instantly regretted my decision after running through all the ‘what-ifs’ in my head and called to speak to the surgeon.  The surgeon also did not want to remove his whole tail and told me that he would take “just the tip” and if that doesn’t stop him from his chewing obsession then he will do the full amputation at a later date for no charge.  I broke down and decided that was the best option.

Oscar’s surgery went well.  I was told that tail amputation is very painful.  They ended up taking about 2 1/2 inches off of his tail.  The guy has to wear a cone for the next 3 weeks.  He is on antibiotics and pain medications every 12 hours plus he had 3 days of anti-inflammatories.  His tail is bandaged up and we go in for changings and cleaning of the stitches every few days.  All in this adventure has cost well over $1,600 in vet bills (so far).

The little guy is a trooper and doesn’t seem to know too much is different.  He is being sweet and playful and chasing his sister around a lot.  Oddly, he is being much more loving towards me which is nice considering I feel so horribly guilty about my part in his maiming.


Going forward I will do whatever it takes to help him not chew his tail if he is still obsessed.  We’ll see how he is doing after we get through this healing process.

Where is Nerdgirl?

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I have been super bad at updating the site lately.

There are a few reasons for this. One of them is I tend not to write when things are going well because I am feeling so good that I don’t want to tie myself down on this blog and would prefer to enjoy the moment. And then the other reason would be that I’m feeling terrible (physically) and I fear that my whinging would be too depressing for anyone.

I grapple with how much I want to share about the ‘terrible’ stuff because I’m not entirely sure how appropriate it is (as in TMI). I’ve worked on a few posts and then I don’t end up posting them because perhaps some of that therapy is better left in my mind or amongst conversations with my friends/family.

Anyways. I hope to get back on track with feeling better and then with updating the blog about all the things I’ve been working on, thinking about, playing with, reading.. the usual.

Until then.

Namaste – Leaving Peru

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sananda wasi

Wow.  Just wow.

I am on my last night in Peru and I am speechless.  I am heartbroken to depart the soil that has so captured my soul.

Words can not even begin to express the multitude of emotions that I have been through in the past week and half.  Words can not even begin to explain the beauty and the love and the friendships that I have found.  Words can not tell the tales of the epic journeys that have taken place.

For now, I’m going to leave it with a simple namaste.

Namaste to the glorious beings that I have met.  Namaste to the beautiful lands that I have seen.  Namaste to being this close to God.



Happy birthday to me

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the girls

Another year.  Another karaoke birthday party!  Had an awesome night with great friends.  Getting old isn’t traumatising me as much as one might think.  I am actually ok with it.  Must be because I am blessed with that Asian thing where I don’t look as old as I actually am.