Aug, 2020 back to Sep, 2006: (nothing)
The last two weeks flew by. Now Vince is really gone. As of Friday, Brian is gone, too. They're dropping off like flies! Vince, Brian: you will both be missed.
I haven't blogged because there's not much worth blogging about. I probably haven't even taken any pictures in the last two weeks. Oh well.
I have two more weeks of work before I head home. This is the point where I would talk about how I feel about that sort of thing... except I never blog about how I feel, see? So suffice it to say, I've got two weeks of work left.
Saturday started off in the afternoon, with a trip to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. It was rather silly. It had a country fair atmosphere, with stalls set up everywhere. The one twist was that half of them sold garlic-infused foods. I ate two flavours of garlic ice cream. To paraphrase a certain movie line: We went there thinking 'garlic ice cream' and then we got there, and it was... garlic ice cream! ... We felt sorry for the ice cream. We kind of felt sorry for the garlic, too....
Other delicacies: garlic bread, corn with garlic butter (corn sucks in California), garlic fries, and lots and lots of mint-flavoured gum. We had to pay for everything, and it wasn't cheap. Oh well.
Of course, the real thrill of the weekend was Saturday night's dinner at AsiaSF. This place is rather pricey, but with the dinner comes a show where scantily-clad women dance around and make eyes at the customers. And those women were really hot. There's just one catch: [scary bit censored].
It was extremely expensive, but on the whole I'm glad we lived the experience. It was a very fitting farewell dinner for Vince.
The weekend started with a sushi place called Miyake, in Palo Alto. This place introduced me to the sake bomb. In a nutshell:
- Wait until the restaurant's lights go out and the music stops.
- Stand on your chair.
- Hold a shot of warm sake in your left hand.
- Hold a half-full glass of beer in your right hand.
- When the waitor yells, sake, yell back, BOMB, in unison with all other participants. Repeat a few times.
- Drop the shot glass from your left hand into the glass in your right hand.
- Sit down.
- Replenish beverages.
- Start again at Step 1.
The sushi was very cheap, and surprisingly tasty for the price. And there you go: a perfectly valid Friday night.
Saturday: surfing. The weather at Pacifica was great. I'm getting the hang of it!
Okay, I'm through with back-dating blog posts. Here's what happened in the last week and a half:
Scavenger Hunt (last Wednesday): we interns were paid to go to San Francisco and compete against each other in a scavenger hunt. There was some mention of team-building or something....
So we ended up running around San Francisco, solving clues and having a blast. In the end, our group got second place. The people in first place beat us by a measly 2 points; if only our entire group had jumped into the bay at the end, we could have tied it. (The scavenger hunt wasn't really that intense. Jumping into the bay was an overboard solution to a certain clue which would have given us the points — who could deny us the points after that effort? — unless one of our members got hypothermia or drowned, in which case we'd probably have lost points. We're not allowed to discuss the hunt, so I can't say what the clue was.)
What did we win? T-shirts: the most valuable prizes known to googlers.
Mark's Farewell (Friday): he is lost to us now. This night was very fun, but I think a good deal of it will remain un-journaled. My Mom reads my blog.
Goodbye, Mark. It was great knowing you, and the world is a darker place without you. (No, he's not dead. The world is located at 1600 Ampitheatre Parkway, didn't you know?)
Pimps 'n Hoes Party (Saturday): the NASA interns who live in the building next to mine know how to have fun! Unfortunately, when I packed my clothes for California I forgot to include all my pimp paraphernalia. I made do with a tie and danced the night away.
This was funny because it was so entirely random: I had gotten home and was just about to go to bed, when I found out I could be a pimp instead....
Computer History Museum (Sunday): there's a museum with ancient computers in Mountain View. It's completely free, and it's rather fun to look at the gargantuan machines.
One of the most interesting artifacts was a single steel drum about ten inches in diameter. It is the largest known remnant of one of the ten Colossus computers. The (accurate) story goes: in WWII, the Allies needed a way to crack the codes produced by german Enigma machines. Some very smart minds succeeded by devising these incredible Colossus computers. Once the war was over, Winston Churchill ordered that all the Colossus computers be destroyed into pieces no bigger than a man's hand. I guess he figured there are some things man is not meant to meddle with. Fast-forward to today....
Another interesting artifact was an old Google server rack, like the one they have in the lobby of one of the buildings here. Those racks, old as they are, pack quite a wallop of computing power.
Muse (Tuesday): Muse is a band which I like. They're a bit like Radiohead, and quite enjoyable. This concert was opened by two truly horrible bands (I think the lead singer of the first even insulted the audience and its lack of enthusiasm at the end. He said, Enjoy Muse. You've earned it, right?)
Muse itself was great, and I managed to work my way through the mob (and moshing) until I was only two bodies away from the stage. Very sweaty work, and a lot of fun.
Ahh, all caught up! No more blog guilt for me.
On World Cup Sunday, a big television screen was set up in a big park in San Francisco for the big game.
San Francisco is an extremely hilly city, which made it the perfect place for this sort of stunt. The entire park (which spans many blocks) was all at a slant, circling like an ampitheatre around the lowest corner. The television was set up in that corner, and then thousands of people sat in the perfect, sunny weather to watch the game.
The crowd was perfectly divided between France and Italy supporters, which made it a lot of fun. However, when somebody in front stood up, a huge portion of the crowd was unable to see the game. Unfortunately, the people who stood up were invariably idiots. One guy in particular was on his cell phone, waving towards somebody in the back of the audience. Hundreds of people were shouting at him to sit down, but he kept waving. When about three missiles (bottle caps and plastic bottles) narrowly missed him, he finally got the picture and sat down. But wait! No, he didn't! A minute later he stood back up, maybe guessing that the crowd would have forgotten him. It was almost as entertaining to watch this guy get the picture as it was to watch the game.
I was cheering for France up until the fiasco at the end, and then I didn't really care any more. I just wanted to throw stuff at the guy with the cell phone.
Independence day! The day when we proud Americans celebrate our blowing-up of those proud, evil, conniving British. Oh, and our inevitable victory over terrorists of all descriptions (easily identifiable by their trademark, the turban). We commemmorate this day in the only way that makes sense: by blowing things up. In the sky. In red, blue, and white.
In anticipation of the explosions, four of us headed to San Francisco and went to the zoo. The San Francisco zoo is home to lots of animals. There's not really that much to say about it: it's a zoo. Animals are, of course, fascinating and magical. We saw many murders: river otters massacring goldfish, penguins swallowing herring, and lions and tigers shredding whole rabbits into nothing but fur.
Our next stop was the Golden Gate Bridge, which is beautiful. There's not much to say that pictures won't say better. So look at the pictures.
And finally, we saw the fireworks in San Francisco. Funnily enough, they had two simultaneous, identical firework shows! One was in plain view and the other was hidden behind a building; it was clear that they were both the exact same show. It was nice and explosive, but I was a bit disappointed that it didn't blow away (so to speak) the fireworks show we saw in Napa Valley the day before.
The Monday before Independence Day was a holiday. Eight of us packed ourselves into two cars and drove to Napa Valley. Our goal: taste wine and act posh.
The first winery we visited was posh indeed. The manor was modeled after those in Champagne, and the tour guide was very excited about how authentic everything was. We tasted wines (three Pinot reds and three sparkling) and didn't really enjoy any. We suspected our waitor was drunk.
The second winery was small and had no tours. We tasted eight wines there; I enjoyed them much more. I made my first purchase: an expensive Pinot red.
The third and last winery was big and full of tourists. We tried to get in to their 2-hour tour, only to find that they were booked. So instead, we did what we figured was the only sensible thing to do: taste wines! They had a ridiculously expensive counter ($25 per half-glass of wine) and a decently-priced counter, so we went to the decent one. We bought seven tastes, but for some reason (read: my sweet-talking the barmaid) we were offered an extra three! They were expensive bottles which had been opened by mistake. And they tasted really good, so I ended up buying two of them. I'll never know whether those free tastes were a result of my smooth talking or a clever marketing ploy.
First of all, let me apologize for not bringing my camera along on Sunday. I missed it the entire time. I'm sorry, camera!
A few of us headed down to Monterey to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which has lots and lots of fish and stuff. When we got to Monterey we found it to be much too busy and we couldn't park. So we decided to go to a town called Carmel-by-the-Sea instead.
Carmel-by-the-Sea has tons of boutiques. It's a tourist town, but there's not really much to recommend it... except that Clint Eastwood used to be mayor! We walked around and found a really cool restaurant called Forge in the Forest which looked like it was run by dwarves (there were fires and forge paraphernalia abound). Then we went to the Eastwood Mission Ranch, where we found no signs of Clint Eastwood at all. And the ranch looked over the ocean, in what seemed to me to be an un-ranch-like manner. It would have been boring, except the name Eastwood was in its title and that saved the day.
We headed back to Monterey, parked in a garage, and took the free trolley to the aquarium. The aquarium had all sorts of big and small fish. The sea otters were floppy and fantastic, and the tuna were incredibly speedy. The pengiuns were a little boring (but so cute). All in all, the aquarium was fantastic.
My second surfing experience was much more fruitful than the first, though far less exciting. In my first surfing adventure, the waves were behemoths bearing pain and drowningness. Here, the waves were... wait, were there waves?
The upside: it was easy to get up and go when the waves did come. In fact, we started to show off: I actually high-fived somebody while we were both surfing! Okay, so it's not dolphin-jumping, but at least it's a start.
Unfortunately, there were tons and tons (and tons) of other surfers. It ended up being even more dangerous than last time, because everybody was a beginner so boards and people were flying everywhere. We all survived.
Santa Cruz is really hot and summer-y.