Saturday, December 24, 2005
Urban legend has it that back in the day, three younger Peetniks argued and argued with the owner to expand his Berkeley coffeeshop with outlets state and nation wide. The owner was happy with his four or five shops in the Bay Area and refused. Finally the younger Peetniks broke off, moved to Seattle and bought a struggling little company called Starbucks. Don't know if this is true, but it should be on the urban legend page.
Yes, Peet's has better coffee than Starbucks.
Friday, December 23, 2005
- The bars at O'Hare actually do close.
- Even very little dogs get pretty vicious when they've been made to wait on the tarmac for two hours. People get pretty vicious after about 30 minutes.
- There are are suprising amount of people at the Sacto airport at 1:30 AM.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Friday, December 16, 2005
And just as suddenly, they were gone.
Apparently, it was some crazy guys birthday and he does this every year.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Amber Ale is a key component of my Australia working environment and sure way to keep away from VB.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Yes, they do sell his coffee (actually Juan Valdez cafe are the Colombian equivalent of Starbucks).
And, oh yes, I am that big of a sucker to actually buy it (one each of Vulcan, Sierra and Cumbre 8.8 oz. whole bean bags for about USD$11 total).
Yes, it does smell muy bueno.
And no, I did not get strip-searched coming back through Miami.
There was one jewel though: McQerta for 7200 peso (2200 peso = $1 USD).
Not sure what this actually is, but it appears to be a burger with some sauces and possibly eggs.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Although slow for a Tuesday night, we went to dinner at H. Sasson Satay and Wok Bar. Yes, I know I am in Latin America and eating Asian food, but it was good. Even by Asian standards. While there, I decided that Brava is my favorite local brew.
We ended up hitting Cerevesa Station before we called it a night.
Esta foto es la visión desde mi oficina.
Escribiré más adelante esta semana.
Mi Español está mucho mejor.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Sierra Nevada Brewery is one of the nation's oldest microbreweries, started soon after Jimmy Carter re-legalized small scale brewing. Besides their trademark Pale Ale, the brewery bottles seven other beers and serves seven more at its on premises restaurant, The Tap Room.
I don't know" and "6 people run a line for quarter million bottles per day"). I did get some good pictures though.
They have a pretty cool setup and showed us most of the operation including the worting, kettles, fermenting and bottling. They even grow their own hops for some of the beers in a field across the street from the brewery.
While the tour may have been less than ideal, the brewery did make up for it with their onsite restaurant. It was pretty close to my collegetown brewery, The Free State, except they brewed more beers. We got one of their beer samplers -- it had 15 beers that they claimed only added up to two pints. I think I liked the Stout or Brown beers best.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Q Center is a corporate training center that Arthur Andersen created back in the day to train their new recruits. After Andersen ran into, ahhhh, troubles this century, they recast themselves as a self-contained corporate retreat.
Being a Chicago-native and Q-newbie, I looked at this trip as a simple boondoogle to catch up with my old hometown. Of course, the purpose of having events at these kinds of centers (think all inclusive cruise) is to keep employees isolated and therefore focused. And since St. Charles is about 2 hours outside Chicago city limits, they are pretty effective: No rental cars, no public transit and 5 miles from the nearest city.
While the Q Center's foo was strong, I proved stronger. Late on day two of the event, a co-hort of mine and I skipped a general session, bribed a cabbie to come get us and made our way into next town where they had two of my favorite Chicago-land eateries: Portillos and Giordano's Pizza.
Not wanted to waste my chance, I had tapas consisting of Chili dogs and crinkly fries at Portillos before adjurning to Giordanos to demolish a medium stuffed pepperoni and black olive pizza. The picture at right is the freshly delivered pie.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Celia's is my favorite Mexican restaurant due to the greatest menu item, Cancun Platter: crab, shrimp, scallops, onions, cheese and guacamole over rice. Nice.
Even better, it was Mariachi Band night.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Today's FFF: Chunky Meat Pies.
Captured at Starbucks at Circular Quey in Sydney.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Monday, October 10, 2005
All bitching aside, I do enjoy eating overseas. I don't know what it is, but some of their food tastes better. For example, take this breakfast in the Sydney airport. It's your normal English brekky, but this place does it really nice -- no worries about cholesterol here.
If you are ever in the Sydney Domestic terminal, check it out over near the Hungry Jack counter.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
Cougar Mountain is held at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Sonoma is just south of Napa and north of San Francisco. While a Indy car race track isn't the most ideal place for a mountain bike race, this event did have road and downhill racing also, so I guess it wasn't a bad compromise. The hills outside the race track are rolling and are tall enough to see the Pacific Ocean. Since Cougar Mountain is an official NORBA event, the top 10 finishers in each race's age bracket and category qualify for NORBA National Championships in Mammoth, CA (which was held last weekend.)
I competed in two events: cross country (XC) and Mountain Cross (MTX). I race cross country fairly often (PCRS and Tahoe series are XC) but I hadn't ever actually done a MTX race before.
My XC race was an eye opener. A lot more people, a longer course (8+ miles), a lot faster people and a lot hilly course. That and they used the high-tech RFID-like chips around your ankle to time you. Very high tech, but pretty cool -- they time you down to hundredths of a second. Apparently, the NORBA races are a tad more serious than the PCRS get-togethers. Either way, I finished in the middle of pack, just outside of the top 10 finish that I needed to qualify for nationals. The guy who won my age bracket ended up placing fourth at NORBA Nationals this weekend.
The MTX race was just a lot more fun. MTX races four people at a time down a short, steep track with a number of motocross style jumps. The top 2 from each heat advance while the last two get eliminated. Needless to say, the race can be a little dicey. However, you've got a lot of pads to make sure you don't break too much. My age group had about 10 people and I made it to the semi-finals before I got ousted (So I finished 5th). This means that I did qualify for NORBA Nationals in MTX, but I didn't make the trip down to Mammoth, CA since I had to work.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Although this year's edition appears to have some different cast members than last year's edition, it's nice to see they didn't loose the "classy" feel they have worked so hard to obtain.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Sunday, September 04, 2005
This is actually a "sport" division rider, collecting soil samples the hard way. While the picture makes it look like this guy is bailing on a wicked downhill, actually this is the same set of flat jumps that everyone else rode. He must have been confused by the camera. Or his bright red lycra shorts. Or both.
I won my age division with the same cast of characters from the other races behind me.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Turnout was about the same (perhaps a few more), but the steep hills really thinned the field -- by the end of the first lap, only me and one other guy (see photo) were still in contention. Luckily, it was the other guy's first race of the series and I dropped him a quarter of the way in the second lap to win my age group.
Monday, August 22, 2005
I was suprised to see the number of people who turned out -- parking was a complete nightmare. However, other than that and the chilly night, the concert was quite good.
Someone will probably post the concert recording here in a few days.
Friday, August 19, 2005
I started Wednesday over in the OHV in Prairie City (just down the road from me on the other side of US-50) to do the PCRS races. They put on a damn fun race -- they use the motocross course full of bermed turns, steep decents/ascents, drop offs and 2' whoops through the 3 miles course. With the race being just two laps for begineers, this is a pretty full on race from the get go. I raced begineer again (they divided it into 35- and 36+ which rocked). Although I endo'd on one of the bermed turns (a mean 4ft high, 270 degree berm) and laid my bike down on a descent, I won my age bracket and came in second overall in the begineer class. I'm the person in the back with the long sleeve jersey in the picture.
Things didn't fair as well for the Northstar at Tahoe series finale. They shortened the course length from 4.5 miles to 3 miles but added a second lap for our class. After racing the night before, I was spent and the extra lap of climbing didn't help. I limped into 7th place in my class which dropped me to 10th place on the final series point list. I'll have to start earlier next year to be competitive in this series.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Friday, August 12, 2005
I learned some valuable lessons from my first race. Some things to remember:
- Racing at 6800' bears little resemblence to biking at 1000'. Especially when you drive up 1 hour before you race.
- Repair your rear wheels before arriving late to register for your race
- Pre-ride the course -- I think my wrong turn at the finish might have cost me a minute or two.
- Elbow pads are not optional equipment. Do not find this out on a 6% downhill slope.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Although the Rivercats lost 5 to 3, the only real lowpoints of the night were the constant rain of large cockroach- type bugs falling off the high intensity stadium lights (apparently they get to hot) and the insane amount of "body art" being displayed.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
The kid you see in the picture is on the outside of the Fair Oaks bridge railing (over the American River about 35 feet below). It took him ten minutes to climb over the 8 foot guard rails and "No Diving ! Danger !" signs to get there.
For the rest of the story, see these pictures over on my flickr page.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I started out on the Los Gatos Creek Trail (map1,map2) in Vasona Park riding towards downtown Los Gatos and then climbed the hill towards Noviate and Saint Joseph's Hill (google map). Saint Joseph's Hill looms of Los Gatos and Lexington Reservoir County Park as a complete spirit crushing bike ride. It's only 3 1/2 miles long but covers about 800 - 1000 ft of vertical (PDF map). While the climb sucked (30 minutes of steep grade rocky trails), my bike really excelled on the downhill (7 sweet minutes).
High Tech Burritos and see my old neighborhoods after the big climb.
You can see a few other photos from the ride over at my Flickr page.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Just after Brian left this morning, I figured that I need to clean out my den. A week of Brian squalor piled atop of a year of my uncleaniness might bring sanctions from the local health department. (The rest of this is technical/geeky and can be skipped)
I am on a big "silent computing" kick lately, so I've been investigating ways to move my Shuttle (small but loudish) out of my den -- leaving just my Sun Ray (no fan) and Mac Mini (external power supply so very quiet/small fan). I have a closet to move them into (I use the server as a Tarantella/Solaris server), but didn't have anyway to get network access to them (Solaris -- my Unix -- doesn't support many of the proprietary 802.11G cards avaialble).
However, Apple saved the day. I have a Apple Airport Express extending my wireless network to the porch and I found out that it also functioned as a Ethernet <-> Wireless bridge. Sweet. I moved my Shuttle server into the closet, plugged it into my Airport Express and I am now computing in blissful silence.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Sunday, June 05, 2005
While Kelly and Rachelle were out touring pig farms in Northern Iowa, they let me test out Rachelle's Sirius tuner and boombox. While my results were somewhat mixed, I can see how this will be quite popular with some people.
Sirius provides digital satellite radio service with technology very similar to DirecTV television service. They compete directly with another satellite radio service called XM. With an antenna pointing to the southern skies (I think), your proprietary tuner accesses 500 or so channels of digital sound. The sound quality is great, at least as good as my MP3 collection, maybe better. And like my iPod, the Sirius receiver announces song on its display as the song plays.
Just like on DirecTV's 500 channels, inevitably you gravitate to only a handful of choices. I spent my entire week listening to Alt Nation, which is a lot like the old MTV 120 Minutes (if they still broadcasted it ?) and Faction, which is kinda punk. This is of course different from First Wave, which appears to spin tunes from Kelly's iPod collection.
While the technology and music are cool, there are several drawbacks to the system. First and foremost, a view of the southern skies can sometimes be hard to come by. Like in my living room. Or my den. Or anywhere indoors. Secondly, someone else is still programming your music. Although the channels are much closer to the narrowcasting than broadcasting, you still get the repetition -- I heard Oasis' Layla four times in the past two days. Finally, I am not sure how many more $10/month services I want. Tivo, DirecTV, DSL, Mobilephone, etc start to add up after a while.
Overall, this is another entry into the increasingly crowded "music by subscription" market. This offering is slightly different, in that it includes live entertainment like sporting events, but fundamental similar to Rhapsody or Napster. Pay your money and get all you can listen to music for the month, cancel and you have nothing. I think I am still in the traditional "buy my music" / iTunes camp.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Monday, May 16, 2005
I've opted for the simplest (i.e. cheapest) possible scenario -- just adding some grass along the top of the property while leaving the bottom "California Natural" (or unfinished as you would call this in other places).
I'll post some more photos once they start laying sod down.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Normally, I wouldn't think it momentous enough to blog about my reading achievements (although I am sure it will come as a surprise that I am actually literate for some of you), but I have had to make an exception for my latest reading foray. After three books, 2652 pages and over six months of reading, I have finally finished Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle. The Baroque Cycle is Neal's prequel to his excellent "Cryptonomicon", which had hooked me years earlier due to my insomnia on my frequent long-haul over the Pacific flights, and carries on his habit of intensive researching detail and massive page counts.
Set in the late 1700s, the trilogy tells a fictional tale of the transformation of the world's economy weaved through the major historical events and characters of the time. As in the Cryptonomicon, we are again dealing with the mysterious Enoch Root, the Shaftoe and Waterson clans. Although the topic seems to have little to do with Neal's forte (Crypto and futurism), after the first few chapters, you can start to see the parallels. While I won't give too much away (after all there is a lot of detail in the 2600 pages), I found the first book interesting but somewhat slow and confusing, the second book spotty (although the sections with Pirate Jack were quite good) and the final books excellent.
Should you want to embark on this reading adventure, make sure you wait until all of three books appear in paperback -- the hardcovers are really heavy to read in bed:
"Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1)" (Neal Stephenson)
"The Confusion (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 2)" (Neal Stephenson)
"The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3)" (Neal Stephenson)
I am betting that Neal might make a (set of) book(s) that fit in between the Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle next.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Since a few people have asked, here is a list of goodies that I run on my Mac OS X desktop:
- Meteo: The weather outside is important. Keep it nearby -- perferably at eye level. Meteo gives me current temperature and a weather icon in my menu bar, as well as a cool radar image in the menu drop down. Very cool, very free.
- gCount and yMail: Two totally different implementations of the same thing. They check your Google Mail or Y! Mail account for you and turn their icon red when there is new email. Both are free.
- iChat : An Apple supplied no-brainer. It hooks me into the AIM chat network. I'd like to use Y! more often but their Mac software isn't great and everyone I know has a AIM/iChat login. It's also getting some groovy new features in Tiger.
- Sidenote: I like to have sticky note type documents all over my large monitor, but I want them to recede from view when I don't need them (kinda like expose). Sidenote does just that - It sticks to the side of your screen and hides when you aren't using it. Again, free.
- QuickSilver: I takes some time to grok QuickSilver. As the instructions say, "At first glance, Quicksilver is a launcher." And that's all I thought it was at first. But theres more. More than just allowing me to type the first two letters of an application to launch it (I don't like using the mouse), it also allows you to take advantage of small applescripts and such to automate several actions. You can also lookup web pages and contacts. Play specific playlists in iTunes. Email files to people. It even has a dock-like shelf to keep commonly used actions. Very clever. Very free.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
- Looked up my old house in Pacifica
- Peered down at my office in the Bay Area
- Viewed Folsom Prison which I drive by but can never see
- Going to play golf ? Let's see the course (My local Bass Lake Golf Course)
- Looking at a house. Let's see the neighborhood (A kinda neat house by ours)
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
As you can see from the picture, this has left me with a veritable jungle that threatens to engulf my two labradors (Zeke is actually standing up in his picture). so I have finally gotten a landscaper, who isn't going to cost as much as the concrete guy, to start clearing the top forty so that we can put down some grass. This should thrill both my neighbors and my yellow lab, who needs a flatter course to chase tennis balls. If, and when, I actually get the guy to come out here and start, I will document the work in photos.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
I've decided that my knee is finally back in working order (after four years of healing from a basketball injury) and I want to race my mountain bike this year. Well, maybe not race my mountain bike (I'd like a shiny new one). Anyhoo, there are a lot of mountain bike races in my area but one in particular has caught my attention.
The Prairie City Race Series is held weekly on the Prairie City OHV just a few miles from house. The PC OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) is one of the largest motor bike / ATV parks in the west. Usually restricted to just motor vehicles, on Wednesdays they open up their MotoCross track for the bike races. These are short course races (5 - 15 miles), mostly sprinting enduro style.
I went over to the OHV to scout it out today. It was very cool -- I even was entertaining notions of starting some motocross (They just open a HUGE Kawasaki dirt bike store in Folsom). I was, that is, until the ambulance arrived to cart someone off to the hospital.
I think I'll stick to the pedal powered biking. Races start in mid April. I'll keep you posted on my progress.