Went to the Beach…

Most of the week was uneventful, with the exception of Friday, when I attended the first day of UbuCon. The talks were for a different audience than the advertised titles, so the only highlight of the day was acquiring an Ubuntu tshirt from Canonical (who dropped by after packing up after LinuxWorld). Swag is very important… 🙂

So as my final full day in Mountain View, I went into San Francisco one last time yesterday. The adgenda for this trip? To go to the beach, Ocean Beach to be exact. When I got to downtown, I picked up a few messages, including a proper Canon tripod (which I got 50% off 🙂 ), so people can stop complaining that my photos of San Francisco are crooked, that’s how the buildings are to pedestrians. I spent a while wandering along Ocean Beach and up to Land’s End, before going to Baker Beach where there is a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge. I wanted to do a few more things, such as wander around golden Gate Park, but I ran out of time, mainly because it’s quite awkward to get to Baker Beach by public transport. Not to worry, I’ll be back sooner or later. Photos are up in the usual place

Today, I discovered that the US equivalent of Ryanair are called Alaska Air. After some initial confusion of the airlines playing against one another for those of us actually using AA, I eventually found my flight. I was shocked to not see a meat hook, etc in the main cabin. At least I slept for the majority of the 1 hour flight.

I’m now in Santa Monica, where they seem to have an unnatural no of palm trees. Later on, I think I’ll wander down Venice Beach in search of food and to take a few photographs.

Even More Culture

Yesterday afternoon, Michael and I wandered off down the road from the office to the Computer History Museum to go on one of their guided tours. Michael had wandered around it before and I have been given a few recommendations to visit it. I’m glad I did go along, the tour was very good and I was able to do a second lap afterwards to take some photos. They’re up in the usual place.

If anyone ends up in Silicon Valley, I definitely recommend a trip, preferably in time for one of their tours. If you can, go on the 1st or 3rd Saturday of the month, seeing a PDP-1 playing Bach definitely sounds like a sight to see…

San Francisco

My first week here is over. Work was mainly meeting people over here and getting used to the way things work at the ‘Plex (ie, I still have to learn to stop walking between buildings. Hello death scooters… 🙂 ) Apart from the office, I ended up in Palo Alto, home of the rich and shameless during trips to the Apple Store and Fry’s Electronics, mainly looking for toys… 🙂

On Saturday, I went into San Francisco (after spending an hour waiting for a Caltrain – damn queue in Starbucks meant I got to watch the train leave from the wrong platform). Once I (finally) got into San Francisco, I discovered what proper US cities look like. They’re big, very big and tall, very tall…

Saturday afternoon decended into nothing more than a shopping trip, probably because I started in Union Square. I ended up acquiring things like a decent set of portable headphones to replace the ones I thought I lost earlier in the day (only to find them again that evening) and a much sought after, decent camera bag and more California friendly clothes (t-shirts and shorts). After a failed attempt to go to the cinema (would have involved a 2 hour wait for a midnight Caltrain back to Mointain View), I ended up getting lost on the Muni before getting a Caltrain back to Mountain View and my apartment. 😐

Sunday was much better day in San Francisco, now that I had worked out the public transport systems. Despite missing the Caltrain (yet again), I went to two museums for some culture – the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, since I’m becoming a sucker for art galleries, particularly modern art and the unique Museum of Cartoon Art – where I saw original Disney, Peanuts/Snoopy and Calvin and Hobbes strips and cells. 🙂

After my cultural quota for the day, I went off on a photography shooting spree around a few preselected venues for the rest of the day. The result of which are up on Flickr. All that’s left on my adgenda for sight seeing next Saturday is the big one – The Golden Gate Bridge, which I’ve intentionally left until last to avail of what looks like forecasted good weather next Saturday (I find the less clouds the better for my landscape photographs), and since it’s disjoint from the other interesting areas of the city.

I really am thankful that I ended up getting a Video iPod a few months ago. Until now, I had never really used the video playback functionality, but I’m making up for it now… 🙂 I’m also very impressed with my new camera. It’s quite enjoyable to use. I just need to be a little less tame and step away from the automatic photo settings (hence why I got two books off Amazon during the week about how to use my specific camera with weird and cool effects…). I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up with a proper tripod before I go home, but I have to resist the temptation urge to buy a second lense…

Now, it’s late and I’m off to get some shut eye before another week of work before even more exploration…

California

So, I’m now out in Mountain View, California; where they have clear blue skies (apparently they aren’t an unnatural sight to see).

Unfortunately, the reports were true; Mountain View is for all intents and purposes, a large retirement community. There does not appear to be much to do here at the weekends, especially if you’re motor-vehicle operationally-challenged like myself. There should be more to do next weekend, when I get to go and explore San Francisco.

On my flights over, I learnt a few things:

  • Airline food really is kak! I’d never been on a flight long enough before to get anything more than an overpriced, bland sandwich from Ryanair or Aer Lingus.
  • These are the best headphones ever manufactured. They worked perfectly, making my flights as pleasant as possible.
  • Apparently town planning isn’t as overly complicated and messy as it is in Ireland. All one needs is a copy of Sim City.
  • So far, I appear to be either immune to jet lag (highly unlikely) or I’ve just been lucky so far. We’ll see how I do returning home in a few weeks, when I cross 10 time zones in 32 hours.