Wednesday, August 13, 2008

California Trip!

My room at the Super 8. I stayed at this hotel last year at this time. It's not the Hyatt. That's true. But notice that nice sunny weather outside?

I turned around. That was one weird-looking hair dryer. I only turned it on to make sure it wasn't an oddly-placed vacuum cleaner.

OK. So the tub is not porcelin. But it does have little whirlpool nozzles in it. I didn't exactly take a bath with the whirlpool thing going here. I just wanted to see how it worked. And take a picture.

And hey, the Grand Hyatt doesn't have a pool. But the Super 8 does! Well, actually, it's more like a jacuzzi. And it's outdoors. And the gate is locked. But it's kind of a pool, right?

I was in Mountain View to visit my little brother. This is his office. You're going to get to see a lot of pictures of the rest of his company's offices. Starting now.

Just outside his office to the left are these desks, for employees and interns.

In the next room is a lab. Here's a lab bench.

Another corner of the lab.

Another desk in the lab. There was some major server construction going on while I was visiting.

More motherboards here. And some piece of networking equipment. Which I dropped. Oops. Ah well, it's solid state.

In here are where all of those motherboards and CPUs go. This is another small room, set up to contain lab equipment.

Back further through the lab room is a machine room with a drill press.

There is also a vise. I don't think my brother's company uses any of this stuff.

Back to my brother's office, and looking down the hall to the right.

There is a small break room.

Across the hall is a kitchen.

The kitchen is not small. Scientists must be hungry people.

This is the small conference room. Nice TV, huh?

If there is a small conference room, there must be a large conference room, no? Yes. And this is it.

This is the desk of the receptionist. Her name is Rita.

And this is the reception area. Nice place, huh? That's it for pictures of my brother's company's office.

I drove down to the Moffett Federal Air Field to see if I could get a picture of Hangar 1, which has appeared in Mythbusters episodes. I couldn't though. This is Hangar 2 and some models of some planes. I read somewhere that the Google billionaire founders pay this facility a million dollars a year to park their own personal jet here. Google headquarters is not too far from here. That's a pretty sweet deal. I guess it's good to be a multibillionaire.

This is a model of the space shuttle, with more of Hangar 2 in the background.

Another view of the model. I don't know what scale this was. You can judge its size by the bench next to it. But it's nowhere near the size of the real thing. I've been up close and personal to the real thing at the Smithsonian. That was before I had my digital camera though!

And here's the rest of Hangar 2 in case you were hoping to see it. My brother's car is parked next to the fence.

While I was there, I tried using my GPS receiver to navigate around. The trick is that I do not have the map package for roads. I've got the package for off road navigation. So I did Google Maps and Google Earth searches for stuff and put in tracks and waypoints into my GPS receiver. One of the places that popped up while I was searching was "Applebee's Headquarters." So I figured, hey, I like Applebee's, I wonder what their headquarters looks like. Does it have a giant apple in front of it?

The answer is no. This is it. Actually, the Applebee's office is in the rear of the building. Which more or less looks like this, which is the front. It turned out the headquarters address for Applebee's was for their lawyer's office. I spent about half an hour looking for an Applebee's sign. Oh, the other part that is tricky is that I couldn't get routes to work out with waypoints exactly, so I had to put in the paths manually. So the endpoints of the path were more or less approximations and not exact. So first I had to find the address that was kind of close to where I thought I was going. Well, and technically I didn't have the address. I knew I wasn't going to find a big corporate office building, though, because this law office is on the edge of a residential neighborhood. But then I saw the very small apple on the sign, and I knew I had found the right wrong place. If you ever had the burning desire to see where some of Applebee's corporate counsel sit, now you've seen it.

I had to go before my cared got towed. Where to? Who knows? Well, not really, I wasn't parked in this parking spot. Good thing, I guess.

I also meant to search for the headquarters after I had lunch, but I messed up the path and wound up far from this Applebee's restaurant. The sandwich I got (Roasted Turkey & Bacon Ciabatta) was piled thick with meat. It was actually a really good sandwich. Unfortunately, something wasn't prepared right and disagreed with me later on. I'll leave it at that.

Along with hunting places, which I guess I should call Waymarking to promote that site, I also did a little bit of geocaching. Very little. But here was one of the sites. The cache is in the picture. This was a pretty neat containerm especially given its proximity to the brewing shop advertised in that sign.

Here's a closer look at the cache container! Good to be right on the other side of a wall from a home brewing place, right?

I drove down to Santa Cruz to walk around and do some geocaching, but I got there too late to do any geocaching.

I saw a pelican. These guys like to dive straight down out of the air into the water.

This is the boardwalk at Santa Cruz, taken from the pier.

Next to the pier there was a group of seals just sort of hanging out and barking. This is the hanging out portion. Once again, the white balance is kind of messed up.

The seals spent a lot of time doing this.



I don't know why, but there you go.

And another one.

But every once in a while, they open their eyes!

Now he's got to watch.

Soon enough everybody is up once again, with one seal paying lots of attention to me.

Told ya it was eying me up.

Now that it was awake, the seal is thinking, obviously, what shall I (the seal) do?

Shall I eat some fish? (Somebody obviously had.)

The answer is none of the above! The answer is bark, bark, bark!

Yes, the seal is winking at me. It must have been quite satisfied with its barking fit.

Every so often, I test features in my camera. This was a test of the panorama feature. The picture doesn't look half bad, but it didn't stitch the pictures together quite right. It's probably something I did. But that's why I experiment with the different features.

This is my attempt to correct the picture. The buildings are much better, but the waves are too hard to line up.

I went to another park near my brother's house where we played tennis. And yes, I did a very little bit more geocaching. My camera died, however, so no picture of the area where I found it. But this town is some sort of serious about its tennis, apparently!

Mickey? Yeah, don't even ask what he did to get hung from the tree.

Well, with that my description of my California trip is coming to a close. Planes don't board at the San Jose airport quite the same way as in Dulles! This covered gatway is outside, mind you.

We get to go out on the tarmac in our own little piece of it to board up the back of the plane yet.

Here is the rest we could not go out on.

But wait a minute. As I waited for my bags, I noticed something didn't quite look right on the arrivals board.

Yup. There it is. Fortunatley I did not fly aboard Test Flt Airplines. And an hour after that, I was home!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 

Category: Life

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