No Shotgun Required

I loves me that woman, Sandi Billingsley. We be married now:

And I love our groomsmen and bridesmaids and all of our friends who dressed up, the good sports that they are:

Double props to my groomsmen, who were sharp as tacks in their gear and didn’t give me too much grief me for pushing them so far out of their circles:

I also love Mom and deeply appreciate her organizing most of the wedding, and I love the Francis family and the Billingsleys and would showcase them too if the pictures had come in yet (soon!)

But I love most her:

Here’s to you, Sandi.
-your Centaur

There Is a God and He Put a Panera Bread in Cupertino

SO as many of you may know I’m a big fan of coffeehouses and sandwich shops: they’re quiet places where you can chill out, have a nice meal, focus on your book, and, if wifi-enabled, whip together a decent blog entry with free refills on your soda.

And my favorite of all sandwich places? A tight, long-running contest between Panera Bread (nee Saint Louis Bread Company) and Atlanta Bread Company (especially the one near Perimeter Mall in Atlanta).

Now, I’ve been eating and reading since I was a kid, but my love of sandwich shops I think really started with Le Boulanger in Menlo Park during my internship at SRI. Since then, however, Atlanta Bread Company and Panera Bread became my favorites because of their high quality, good portions, salad/sandwich combos, nutrition information available online, and good iced tea.

But it may take a while before Atlanta Bread Company comes to California, and as part of the Big Adjustment I’ve been looking for a replacement. Up till now I’ve had little luck – the sandwiches at the search engine that begins with a G are good but not Panera-grade, and Le Boulanger in Mountain View, while very nice, is somehow not quite the same.

So imagine my delight when I find that a Panera Bread has opened in Cupertino! I found it of course with Google Local, which lets you ask questions like “panera bread near mountain view, california” and get coherent answers, along with a nice map interface that will lead you right to a place like this on Steven’s Creek Boulevard in Cupertino:

Cupertino is a bustling town perhaps best known for some fruit company, but its charm for me is that it’s roughly midway between my new home with its Olive Tree and my new workplace at The Search Engine that Begins with a G. It’s blessed with (normally) temperate weather, which is perhaps why when I first showed up the patio was filled with diners (most of whom had departed by the time I decided to start taking photos).

The real delight is inside, however. Panera has a truly staggering selection of breads and pastries, and can assemble these into a wide variety of made-to-order sandwiches and specials that are best topped off with a cinnamon roll that’s as asymptotically close to the Platonic Ideal of a cinnamon roll as you’re likely to get in this world. (Yes, I read the nutrition info on the cinnamon rolls, and so limit myself to one every other time I go. I enjoy being able to go through the door; this enables me to eat more cinnamon rolls).

So happily I drop in and order my typical Bacon Turkey Bravo / Asian Chicken Salad combo (with cinnamon roll, of course), get my iced tea, noticing some guy who’d ordered the same thing get his meal, and sat down to read a book on C++. SO I’m sitting there, reading, having a good time, getting hungrier and hungrier, and eventually realize “this ain’t right”. So I head up to the counter and ask, and the manager’s face flushed and he said, “I’m so sorry, I think somebody snagged it. We’ll make you another one right away.” I slapped my forehead – the man I’d seen hadn’t picked up a meal identical to mine, but instead in identity, mine. Not their fault – but they made me another sandwich anyway.

And gave me a bag of cookies.

So, Panera Bread rules!
-the Centaur

P.S. Thank you, God; normally you know I don’t like to put your name in titles or stuff like that (name in vain and all) but, hey, that was really nice of you to drop one of those off there and you deserve the credit. Thanks!

The Olive Tree

Well, I’ve been away from posting for a while handing all the things that have come with traveling to the other side of the country to start work at some search engine that starts with a G. However, I’m proud to report that at least one task is out of the way: it looks like I have a place to live!

Now the two most important features of this house were a place to put Sandi’s artroom …

…and my library …

but the coolest thing: it has olive trees!

Mmmm … I can smell me some Lebanese cooking in my future.

-the Centaur

Life Moves Pretty Fast…

… if you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it. And one thing I missed is that my favorite breakfast joint, West Egg Cafe, had a showing of art by my favorite artist, Sandi Billingsley, and I didn’t even announce it here.

Well, Sandi’s show was called Egg of the Phoenix, featuring herself and her friend Donnie Ripner, and if you had seen it, you would have seen things like this:

Sorry you missed it! I guess you’ll have to come to California to see her next show.

-the Centaur

Return of the Donut

Once again, Happy Donuts eases the pain.

So I’m out in Silicon Valley visiting friends and hitting the old haunts. Upon my arrival I snarfed an In-and-Out Burger, perused books and storyboarded the next half-dozen fanu fiku pages all in the Mercado shopping center, near where my old buddy Z used to live. Then today I prowled the Mountain View crossroads at California and Castro – scouring the vast stacks of the even-larger-than-I-remembered BookBuyers used bookstore …

… dining at a local middle eastern joint …

… finding gits at Global Beads and the East West bookshop

… and finally parking it in the Books Inc. cafe to get started on drawing next week’s page. However, jetlag, a growing sore throat and a menton shortage conspired against me, and I eventually decided to cash it in.

But not before one last trip to Happy Donuts.

The home of “the big donut” is as I remembered it – a vibrant place with a plethora of laptops, numerous lauging posses, and deep conversations of computer implementation. Though, truth be told the same things were going on at a lower volume level at the Books Inc. cafe – but that shuts down at midnight, whereas as of 1am Pacific Time Happy Donuts seems to be just getting started. Even now, an hour later, seven laptops are going, a couple is digging into a vibrant conversation about politics and civilization and culture and personality types, and a posse of digerati are reminiscing over the interesting characters who have dotted their social surfing.

As my Sandi points out, we both run ourselves ragged – not because of the rat race itself, but beyond it: we are both creative people and want to produce, not just consume. But for me, production by itself is difficult; if I go home or back to my hotel after a long day of work all my mentons are drained and I just want to take a nap. But just like taking a walk can rejuvenate me at work, a change of scenery can rejuvenate me at home; and nothing does it like a bookstore run followed by curling up in a cafe for some drawing, writing, or reading.

And it doesn’t even have to be a quirky independent bookstore. Consumer culture is not entirely useless: as my friend Gordon points out, a good store captures something important in its Snow Crash three-ring binder: the flower floating in the globe of water on the warm wooden table in front of the local artist’s stage at every Border’s in America does not quite have the charm of the performance space of your independent bookseller, but if implemented to spec it has a damn good shot at creating a great place for people to think, meet, talk and share . In fact, I find the carefully-designed frappucinos at Barnes and Nobles beat most independent baristas on sheer yumminess, even if the space in which your independent delivers his iced mocha makes up for its slight bitter taste with a whole helping of local charm. Your mileage may vary, of course, but the point remains: what one man can do another man can do, and at least in this case one man can create a great place for me to think.

But even then, after a few hours, my energy seems to run out, and if I head back to the ranch I’ll soon find myself in dreamy slumber. Which is a good thing … unless I have something to do, like trying to get out a page or break my weblogjam. And that’s where Happy Donuts comes in – the last best hope for keeping oneself awake until the page is done, or in this case, the essay. Silicon Valley tends to roll up the streets a little earlier than Atlanta, with a few exceptions, but this ends up a good thing, as it drives people far and wide to Happy Dounts for their caffeine-sugar-wireless fix. And Happy Donuts doesn’t rest on their laurels: they work it, providing a huge number of donut varieties and other foodstuffs and tables and powerstrips, all for your working/surfing/chatting/dining pleasure.

And it works – so well, in fact, that I feel compelled to visit every time I come to the bay, and am rewarded each time by getting SOMETHING done while I’m here. And because it keeps working, I keep comin. As one lady in the digerati posse said to her friends on their way out, just a few moments ago: “Thanks. This was a good idea. I’ll be back tomorrow.”

Mmmmm. Happy Donuts does ease the pain.
-the Centaur

End of an Era

At last, the renovations are complete! 5 King’s Tavern Place is now on the market!

It’s a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath two-story townhome in the Westover Plantation complex, with new fridge, stove, microwave range hood, dishwasher, carpet, walls, ceilings, faux finishes, light fixtures, doorknobs, and ceiling fan pulls.

You name it, we fixed it.

Kudos to Sandi for her wonderful job faux finishing it AND managing all the subcontractors. And kudos to Bolot Kerimbaev for his superb job taking all these wonderful pictures.

“Minutes from downtown! Recently updated! Formerly inhabited (that is, ready to move in, folks). Contact Kelly Carnahan for more information about viewing this property at 770-491-1494 or townhomes at!”


Little Soho Midtown Street Fair

Continuing the translation of “articles” to modern blog entries… Article 33 from March 14, 2004.

A quick note — the community of merchants at Georgia Tech’s new Technology Square at 5th and Spring Street are sponsoring a street festival. Sandi and I just returned from two days showing her art. Even though Georgia Tech is on spring break and the advertising for the fair was pulled at the last moment, we got a lot of foot traffic and Sandi sold one of her newest paintings.

The organizers of the street fair are determined to make it a success — they want to turn 5th Street into a popular Midtown walking location on the weekends and plan to hold a street fair like this every weekend. They are actively seeking artists, musicians, vendors, and passersby to help turn this festival into a really big thing. Email rgarrison135 at aol dot com if you want to set up a table.

It runs from noonish to fiveish on Saturdays and Sundays. So check it out!