Thursday, June 22, 2006


I finally found photo management software I like... maybe not a lot of bells & whistles, but I can put my pictures online easily in a nice format.

Picasa Web Album

I'll be adding lots more, and some albums (like "Funny Signs") will be ongoing.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Why I Still Have To End Up In The Bay Area

I've been trying for a while now to identify and articulate what it is that is so different for me between the Bay Area and Seattle. I can make a long list of very close parallels between the areas, so it's surprising that they should occupy almost exactly opposite ends of some important spectrum in my mind. The short answer to what it is that makes Seattle fall short: no magic.

I grew up rather removed from the real world. We were far out in the country, on an island thousands of miles from the mainland US, and my parents wanted very little to do with the normal ways people go about their lives. So my only contact with the normal world (especially the mainland) was hearing about it in stories. As a kid, you make no distinction between good stories and bad stories (ever go back and watch a movie you loved as a kid? Wasn't it sickeningly bad?), so they are all endowed with a magical character, something mythical and decidedly removed from the world you actually live in, some conviction that no such stories are real or even possible. At least this is what I realized I have.

As such, stories my parents told me about Berkeley were just as mystical to me growing up as those about Camelot, so Berkeley occupied about the same place in my mind, at least in this myth-value space. The other thing I realized I picked up from hearing these stories starting so young is a deep personal connection to them. Those stories, true or not, are rooted deep in my mind and have a lot of meaning to me, an emotional depth that can't be matched by any sort of day-to-day contact with something these days.

This is the sense I have a hard time expressing clearly in words: to me, going to Berkeley, or San Francisco, or Silicon Valley is just as magical as if Merlin stepped out from nowhere and started waving his wand and turning people into frogs. Silicon Valley somehow got a special extension to this - maybe because the internet seemed so far away and mysterious when I was in high school (the first time I went online was in 10th grade in 97 or 98), and then it picked up a bit of myth value of its own through hearing professors talk about all these things in a far-removed sense, and my dad did have a few stories about being at IBM in the 60's. However it happened, the feeling I get being in the valley is almost too much: almost too magical, too much to take in, too much to believe is actually real. And it's an overload of the deepest and best kind of good.

And this, alas, is what Seattle lacks most. I'm sure things happened here, and mattered to the people who lived through them, but I have no connection to any of it. It has no story with me, no myth that I heard as a far away romanticised story that, despite my disbelief, became real.

There are other things I don't like as much here, but that's really the one that matters, and it is inseparable from all the other problems - but that is a topic for another time, when I should not have already gone to bed long ago....

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The other tulip field

The main garden we went to had a lot of nice tulips... but this field won for sheer numbers. They just stretched out into the distance.

More old photos: more tulips

I'm going to try to put up some every day until I get through this huge backlog of photos.

I just love the tulips:

This would have been great with slightly more depth of field (and maybe not the kid on the side):

I loved these dark purple ones:

Girls and tulips:

Steve and tulips:

Me and Nik:

Me and Nik looking silly:

Me and Shauna:

The Twins:

In Seattle, espresso is considered as essential as food, water, and toilets:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Old pictures - pretty tulips

Good thing something (plane ride) finally prompted me to get the pictures off my camera; I hadn't realized how long it had been (three months). Here's me and Nikki at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April:

These are just some gratuitous tulip shots:

Here's Nikki & Michael amongst the tulips:

I'll make my own aerial photography...

Funny, the weekend I had been looking forward to (Memorial Day weekend) turned out rather disappointing, and the one that looked like it was going to suck (this past weekend, because I thought I would be home alone all weekend) turned out great. This is what I did Saturday morning:

Observe the two pairs of L-shaped buildings below the wing. The upper-right one is where I work. Also observe the next cluster of buildings up and to the right. The leftmost of those is where the pilot/owner of the plane works (on MapCruncher, which is very cool - give it a try). And this was just Saturday morning... I also played badminton (Friday night), went to a party (Saturday afternoon), went biking (Sunday afternoon), and saw a movie and went to dinner (Sunday evening).

Overkill for a broken turning signal?

It all started when I got back to the airport parking lot, and my left front turning signal casing was cracked. Ever after, it would toggle working or not working whenever I went over a bump. This is not that bad a problem, so I left it like that for over a month. Then, one weekend, I had to go and get greedy and try to have all four signals working, because three and a half just wasn't good enough for me. After meticulously reconstructing the casing, I tried to go in and fix the electrical problem, and caused a short, which I'm pretty sure blew a fuse. Well, clearly it's too much trouble to get a replacement fuse, so I got this instead:

No, it is not new (I'm crazy, but not that crazy). It's a 1999. And you know, I loved my little Mazda. There was nothing that wrong with it; it was, in fact, one of the most mechanically sound cars for its age, and I'm sure I could have driven it another fifty thousand miles with very little maintenance. And it gets about fifty percent better gas mileage than this (good timing that I just saw "An Inconvenient Truth" this weekend, not long after buying this car).

But... this is fun.

I remember my uncle saying that having a Porsche is like having your own personal rollercoaster. This thing is pretty close too.

So, yeah, I've been feeling very actualized working on a great map project at work and driving around in a German sports car listening to techno. Oh, and I went flying this weekend (started exchanging email last week with somebody in research who has a Cessna - I'll put up pics from that too).

For those of you who are curious, it's a BMW 328i, manual transmission. And I finally settled on a name for it: Xanadu.