Sunday, August 2, 2009

Seattle, Palo Alto, and The Dish

Ah, the honeymoon is over. I saw this shirt in Dulles airport. That was impressive, because I can guarantee you that in February earlier this year, it was gushing Obama. Nothing like this was anywhere near the store. There was still plenty of pro-Obama-wear, unfortunately.

The view out the window of the Trans World Flight Center at Idlewild Airport. Or at least it would have been 47 years ago. Now it's Terminal 5 of JFK International Airport, a.k.a. JetBlue central. It was, in fact, very blue. I liked the terminal just fine, but it's a bit of a drag to have to fly to New York just to go anywhere.

I was flying to Seattle for work. This is the bed in my room at the Sheraton where I stayed this time.

The desk, TV, and overpriced snack items, one of which I was charged for after I left. I was also charged for valet parking twice. There were only a couple problems: I never took any of the snacks and I never had a car in Seattle! I never had this kind of problem with the Seattle Grand Hyatt!

Here's the shower. It was OK, but it was no match for the bathrooms at the Hyatt! No bathrooms anywhere are a match for the bathrooms at the Hyatt!

A very nice vanity.

Here's my view from the room at the Sheraton. You can see the convention center from here. My room was really close to the convention center, so that was a real plus. I think I actually had less of a walk outside from the Sheraton than from the Hyatt, so the Sheraton might win out there, especially if it is raining.

The view to the right. It's not particularly thrilling, but at least the roof was clean and in good shape.

We had a short setup schedule for this event. I arrived while they were still clearing out the hall from the previous event.

It is pretty amazing how fast these convention centers tear down one show and totally transform the space for a new show.

I was in town to help support registration for TechReady. We had a very good open. That's all I was there for.

After the opening, it was time to say goodbye to Seattle and fly home. But I made a pit stop in California to see my brother first!

This is not where my brother lives. But it is very close to where he lives. What is strange is that you have this garage, which looks like it is from the 1950s, situated along one of the most expensive stretches of roads in Palo Alto.

When I was out with my brother in Palo Alto, we decided to go out to the Cheesecake Factory one evening. We got downtown and noticed this commotion.

And what are all these people taking a picture of?

A fire at the Cheesecake Factory! Oh no! No crispy beef for me tonight!

Actually, you can't see it in that last picture, but they never evacuated the restaurant. That's right, people were still eating inside, watching through the large windows as the fire trucks rolled up outside and firemen climbed the ladders to the top of the restaurant they were in. The fire occurred in a dumpster at the back of the restaurant, apparently. I was able to get my crispy beef, no problem!

They sure did have a lot of fire engines for a dumpster fire.

Other than visiting my brother and dodging firemen on my way into the Cheesecake Factory, I was also hunting geocaches, like this one, in the tree!

I saw many trees like this one in and around Palo Alto and on Stanford's campus. I'm really not sure exactly what they are. I think they are eucalyptus trees of some sort. We don't have trees like this in Maryland!

Geocaching never disappoints! A brand new danger for me to face: mountain lions! Why on earth can't I bring a dog? Seems like a good antidote to a mountain lion!

This sign was also on the fence. So I am not supposed to go in.

Or am I? One sign says no trespassing. The other says push to open. Which one do you think I am going to listen to (while disregarding the mountain lion sign)?

OK, so the deal is, the area can be "enjoyed by visitors for recreational purposes," but it belongs to Stanford and don't you forget it! And if you break the rules, which is whatever Stanford says they are, you are trespassing. There were actually a couple geocaches located within the dish area.

According to the timestamp, this cache must have been within or near the dish area. The problem is that I don't remember it being there.

This guy definitely was within the dish area, though. We both packed up and left the dish area at the same time.

Here is The Dish. From a distance.

Here is The Dish, and the moon, from less of a distance. The Dish was not close to the gate I came in through!

A view of the open area around the dish.

The winding path I walked up.

Another picture of The Dish and the moon. Getting closer! Well, to the dish, at least.

The view from near the dish. I think my car is way back there somewhere. Well, actually, make that my brother's car.

Ah well. What are my geocaching trips without half a dozen different warning signs posted everywhere. For the record, the chain was not across the road. Lucky me!

Finally, I had arrived at The Dish! The moon is still a ways away.

Another view of The Dish.

Another view of The Dish, this time with the sun in the background instead of the moon. I would have liked this picture a lot more if I hadn't got something in the way of the upper right corner!

Walking past the dish a bit, you can see what's on the other side of the hill it sits on. And what is on the other side, mostly, is Stanford's campus. Here is the Hoover Tower, zoomed up on considerably. If you want to see what The Dish looks like from the Hoover Tower, check out my blog entry titled Roofing 2007, Stanford, and Santa Cruz!

I saw this hawk while I was up at the dish. It was pretty cool. He wasn't sitting still for a picture, though, so it was kind of hard to get.

There was another path on the other side of the hill, too, that seemed to be much more popular with walkers than the one I came up on. Maybe it is less steep.

The Dish is not the only radio telescope on the mountain. I guess the antenna nearby does not interfere with it.

Did I mention there were walkers?

And more walkers?

And then, well, this guy. Doing whatever it is he is doing here.

Here they all are in one picture. It's nice so many people use these awesome walking paths, but it makes searching for geocaches hard! I never did find the one that was supposed to be near here. I did poke myself in the eye with the branch of a shrub while I was searching, though. It hurt for a little while after that. So we'll just blame the lack of the find on my eye injury.

Leaving The Dish behind, and going in search of more geocachces. This is one of those things you just never see unless you are looking. Why was this key laying on the base of this lamp post next to a parking lot? Have you ever seen this in life? In 39 years, I hadn't. So there it is, something new.

Unfortunately, I was not hunting a house key, I was hunting a geocache, and all I found where these two very strong magnets on the bottom of the lamp post. I'm afraid they were once attached to a geocache container. The container had gone missing, so there was no cache to be found.

Flowering shrubbery and barbed wire (actually, razor wire). I thought it was an interesting contrast. Unfortunately, the disappearing sunlight made for less than an interesting contrast in my camera.

The shrubbery--and the fence--surrounds this . . . tree . . . .

Geocachers aren't the only ones trying to hide things! Of course, this is a cell phone tower, not a tree.

At the base of a nearby tree, a real one, was this tiny log. It's a little hard to see in this picture. Inside the log, there was a geocache! Some guy who was jogging ran up to a water fountain nearby that is on yet another pedestrian path and spied me hunched down at the base of the trees. Who knows what he thought I was up to!

From there, it was off to find a cache near the headquarters of vmware! It's actually in a bus stop that is located just outside vmware's property. That was all I had time to do that day.

The next day found me at Stevens Creek County Park.

I had to pay to park in the park. Bummer! Especially since I got my typical late start and had to clear out in a couple hours. It should be prorated!

A sign near the trail I was on, featuring a couple of familiar hazards to face and one that was somewhat novel. Ticks? Check. Rattlesnakes Check. Poison oak? Eh . . . not so much. However, I'm very familiar with its cousin poison ivy!

This little RIP marker was near where a cache was supposed to be, but I did not find the cache. I did, however, slip and fall about five feet down the path to the marker. I was wearing tennis shoes at the time and did not have very good traction. I slipped, landed hard on my butt, and then proceeded to slide several feet down the path. No major harm done. Except I didn't find the cache!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. More danger.

Forget the little pipe at the base of the dam, I think you don't want to be standing in the path of any significant amount of water coming down the spillway!

Here's the Stevens Creek Reservoir.

And here is the top of the spillway. As you can see, the threat of immediate danger is somewhat limited.

Just when I thought I wasn't going to have any luck at all in Stevens Creek Park, and had given up on trying to find the cache I was looking for, I noticed this rock.

Here's a closeup of the rock. Do you see the edge of the geocache container?

How about now?

Sure enough, the rock in question was a hide-a-key. The very thin piece of white plastic was a dead giveaway, but it was extremely hard to see!

Walking back to my car, I noticed these dark lines crossing my path.

Upon closer inspection, I could tell the line was moving.

Here is a nice closeup of the beasties that were making up the line!

Later, I had dinner with my brother and a friend of his in a pizza shop near where he lived. This sign was on the wall. I'm doing my fair share! My time in California was, sadly, drawing to a close.

My red-eye out of San Jose took pushed back from the gate at 10:25 p.m., and I landed at JFK around 6:40 a.m. I think. I had a couple hour layover. While I was waiting to board my plane, I took a picture of these birds, which were living inside the airport! There's something ironic in that!

And last, here's the bird that took me home! There was bad weather between JFK and points south, so my flight was delayed taking off for about an hour--once my fellow passengers and I had been loaded on the plane. It could have been a lot worse. The pilot at one point said that we were 23rd for takeoff. We taxied past probably a dozen planes waiting to take off and pulled over into a special lane where there were three other planes that were going nowhere. It was kind of like getting a special order at a McDonald's drive through. We just sat there while the rest of the lane moved on. The ironic thing is that I had just read a story in the USA Today paper the day before about people being stranded in planes sitting on tarmacs. And of course, JetBlue (which is what I was flying) had its infamous meltdown at JFK. But the plane was approved for a new route about a half hour after the pilot said we'd be waiting, and then suddenly we were third for takeoff. So it worked out OK. We didn't really lose any time flying the new route. I was really glad it wasn't worse, because I had been traveling all night and still had another 90 minutes to get home once I landed in Virginia! I was really tired when I got home!

Sunday, August 02, 2009 

Category: Life

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