Vacation to Santa Cruz

My girlfriend Jamie and I took a vacation to Santa Cruz. We both were looking forward to getting away from work and everything else and just relaxing for a few days. And relax we did. The trip was a blast, and like any good vacation, it went by quick.

We started the trip on Tuesday, August 8th, riding the Amtrak to Santa Cruz. We stayed at the Riverside Inn. It was not a great hotel. They forgot to give us a number of things… But, it was clean enough, and the prices were reasonable, especially for the area, and it was close to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and various beaches. All in all, it wasn’t a bad place, as long as you don’t mind bugging the staff every day or so 🙂

We spent most of the first evening just getting settled into our hotel. We took a trip to the Boardwalk, which was only a couple blocks away. I had been there once before for the Workstation 5.0 release party, but a lot of it was closed off, so I didn’t realize just how big it was or how many rides were there. Jamie had never been there before, so this was in many ways a first for both of us.

We bought a 60 ticket sheet, which we later discovered may not have been the best investment. We expected to only be there for one day, and didn’t think the rides were as expensive as they were. Ah well. It turns out that on Mondays and Tuesdays after 5PM, the rides were only 1 ticket, so we did get to go on several before turning in for the night.

On the second day, Wednesday, we went to this little restaurant called the “Beach Street Cafe.” While the food was good, the service left much to be desired. It took forever for them to even acknowledge our existence and seat us. After breakfast, we hung out at the boardwalk and used some more of our tickets. We played miniature golf a couple of times and played a round of laser tag. It was a long, exhausting, but fun day. We found out that on Wednesdays and Thursdays after 5PM, unlimited ticket bracelets dropped from something like $28 to around $8, or something like $13 for one that included two free things like mini-golf and laser tag. We each got the $13 ticket bracelets, which we used for one of the mini-golf rounds and laser tag.

Mini-golf was a blast. The whole thing took place in this pirate caverns place. We haven’t played in years, so we were both pretty bad, but not as bad as we expected. Jamie was doing pretty good for a lot of it, once she warmed up. We kept score the first time, but decided it wasn’t worth it the second time, especially since we were trying to take pictures and didn’t want to hold up the people behind us.

The third day, Thursday, we rented a couple of wet suits and boogie boards and went to Seabright, a nice beach right next to Twin Lakes Beach. We were practically inbetween the two I guess. 20 feet away from Twin Lakes. The walk there was long and painful, as we kind of underestimated the distance and started off taking the long way around to there.

There weren’t that many people on the beach, which was nice because we expected to make fools out of ourselves. This was my second time boogie boarding, and I loved doing it, despite some minor injuries that resulted. Basically, I was hit by a wave and the board stuck in the sand, while my gut smacked into the top, knocking the wind out of me. It hurt for a bit, but there were no major injuries.

Jamie had never gone boogie boarding before, but I talked her into it and except for this one wave that took her by surprise, she enjoyed it too. We spent some time relaxing on the beach and making sand castles/pyramids. We were there probably 4 hours or so. Then we begun the long walk back. We then proceeded to go back to the Boardwalk for some more fun.

On the fourth day, Friday, we decided to buy souvenirs and go on a few more rides. I bought a pirate hour glass, a whole bunch of shot glasses, a towel, some Santa Cruz poker chips, and probably some other stuff. There was a store there getting rid of a bunch of their inventory and they said we could name the price on several things, so we bought up a bunch of half broken and useless junk 🙂 Some of it was nice, though, and very fixable.

That was our last real day, as we had to leave Saturday. We spent the evening on the wharf, going to a nice restaurant for dinner, and just walking around. Our legs were very sore by the end of all this, by the way. 🙂

On Saturday, we went home and attempted to relax, exhausted after our busy but extremely fun trip.

Update: More pics available here.

Lost my hacking mojo

I’ve been trying to get out of this funk I’ve been in the past few weeks. It’s been far too hard to just sit down and code outside of work. I can’t even put together a release. A large part of this is due to the amount of work I’ve been doing for VMware as of late on VMware Server. I think another part of it is that I recently finished up releases of Galago, libnotify, notification-daemon, and Leaftag and

I know this is temporary, but it’s frustrating because there really is a lot of cool stuff I’m looking forward to working on. Some may say to enjoy it, take a break, play some games. Problem is, I don’t even feel like doing that! 😛 Perhaps after work calms down and I’ve spent long enough doing nothing at home, I’ll have more motivation to code.

How do other people usually deal with this?

The Big 22

Okay, I don’t know how big it is, but I’m 22 today! Now I can, um, get drunk? No, that was last year. Hmm. Okay, so 22 isn’t special. It’s just one day closer to 30. Still, today should be a very fun day. My girlfriend is coming to visit, I have some presents to open, and I bought some good movies to watch.

Yesterday was fun as well. My team at work treated me to sushi at my favorite sushi restaurant (Fuki Sushi). We sat in one of those Tatami rooms (where you take your shoes off and sit on the ground), which I’ve always wanted to try. Later we played Tetrinet for a bit, and then I took off with my dad. We got some dinner, watched Sahara, and then called it a night.

I’ve spent most of today looking online for old Zelda and Mario comics. I’m quite pleased to find a large selection of scans 🙂 If anyone has any resources for Mario comic scans, I’d love to see them.

For all those people who just love me so much and have nothing better to do with their money, I’ve posted a small wishlist up 😉 You know you want to.

And now it’s about time to take off and meet my girlfriend at the train station.

One whole year!

Wow. Today (Sunday, Nov. 27th) is Jamie and my one year anniversary. How time flies. It doesn’t feel like more than a few months ago that we met and nervously started going out. Unfortunately, I spent the day travelling back home (I was visiting for Thanksgiving), but we had a nice lunch and dinner yesterday, and she’ll be coming to spend some time in a couple of weeks. And despite the annoying distance, we’re still doing just fine. Yay, go us!

Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug

This weekend has been generally not a good weekend, but up until now, it was just annoying, not problematic. I guess it’s not that problematic, but well…

I’m sleeping at work tonight.

I decided to do one simple thing tonight. I would walk out of my apartment and get Chinese food from the restaurant right next to my apartment. It’s like a 2 minute walk from my door, if that. No big problem, right?

First, I need to grab the wallet. This is important, as I must pay. Keys, hmm.. Nah, don’t need keys, I’m only going next door. I’ll be back in 10 minutes. Open the door, lock it, close it behind me. Wait, lock it? CRAP!

So I called the main office for the company that owns the apartment complex. Turns out they’re stationed in Texas, are are evacuated at the moment. Goody. Fortunately, they had backups. Lots and lots of unconnected backups. I reached one of them, no clue where it was, and they said I can expect a call soon from someone at my complex who could unlock my door. Great! I’ll just wait then.

45 minutes pass.

Called again, got someone else in a completely different state. She explained the whole problem, and the process for getting my door unlocked. First, a person at one of these offices sends an e-mail to someone at some other office. An e-mail. Great. Hurray for instant communication. Eventually, someone gets that e-mail, picks a person from the apartment complex in question, and calls.

Now, one of these two things didn’t work out so well, as it was almost three hours before I gave up. I decided to head to work and just get work done overnight, and sleep during Monday afternoon.

Next time I’ll know better than to think, “Keys? Nah, I don’t need keys!”

Mood: Asleep

It’s way too early for me. I got up at 7:00, which is not something I do very often at all. I’m groggy and wearing my Destroy Mornings shirt. Still, it’s for a good cause! I’m seeing my girlfriend in half an hour or so and heading back home to visit family and friends. My little sister Jenna is turning five years old. I could have sworn that she was this little thing that practically fit in my hands only a few days ago, but somehow, she turned five.

I bought her this very cool Vtech Nitro Notebook, which looks and feels like a laptop (albeit a cheap one). She’s been wanting a real computer for a while, and though I won’t buy her a real one just yet, this will feel close enough for her. She knows the difference between real computers and toys, but she’ll still like it.

This thing has 80 built-in activities. English, Spanish, science, social studies, math, etc. It even has a My Tools area where you can populate an addressbook of names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. There’s a lot to this little device. One of the features they advertise that I like, though I have not tested it, is that the difficulty apparently adjusts to the level at which the user is at. So if she’s having trouble in an area, it’s supposed to become easier so she can begin to complete it, and then the difficulty will eventually go back up. We can check how she’s doing with this built-in progress report. On top of all this, it has some games and stories.

Cool toy. I want one for myself 🙂

SVLUG

Last Wednesday at SVLUG, I gave a talk (well, more of an interview in the format of The Actors Studio) on Galago, Project Soylent, the Desktop Notifications spec libsexy, and some other stuff (demos of Beagle and such). We scheduled this something like six months ago, and I was nervous as hell the day of the talk. It actually went really well, though, and people seemed genuinely interested. I had a lot of questions at the end about the various things I’m doing and plan to do. I wish I had it in some re-broadcastable format.

Heading out soon, so I’m wrapping this up for now.

Headline: “Victim Dead In Apparent Caltrain Suicide”

As we were getting ready in the morning for a day of furniture shopping, Jamie noticed that the train across the street came to a hault. Not long after, I heard sirens and looked outside the window to see some ambulances and fire trucks rush by. I noticed that the sirens stopped as they got off right by here. That’s when I noticed that the train wasn’t moving. I shuddered and said that something bad just happened.

We counted I believe 9 police cars. We could see the train, could see people on the train, but still had no idea what had happened. The train was there about an hour before we left. I knew it couldn’t have been something as simple as someone who needed medical attention. With all those police guarding the tracks and an hour-long stopped train, it was obvious that it was something more.

So I finally checked the local news, and saw this, courtesy of PaloAltoCaNews.com (article) :

PALO ALTO, CA – A person apparently committed suicide this morning by standing in front of a Caltrain train in Palo Alto, Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Maltbie Kunz reported.

The incident occurred around 10 a.m. one quarter-mile north of the East Meadows Crossing in Palo Alto, Palo Alto Battalion Chief Niles Broussard reported.

This man committed suicide just across the street from my apartment, while my girlfriend watched. She couldn’t see it happen, fortunately, as there were trees there. It probably would have scarred her, I’m afraid.. Man, creepy stuff. I don’t feel at all comfortable knowing a guy killed himself by train right across the street from my apartment. *shudder*

Be afraid, be very afraid

There’s so much fear lately. This isn’t really new, but I’ve been hit by it twice in the past few days. The problem is that with fear comes distrust, and with distrust comes mistreatment.

During a very fun vacation at Disneyland (which I shall blog about later), my girlfriend lost her wallet, which contained her ID. She was going to take Amtrak back home from my place, but of course, you need a photo ID to get on the train or on the buses. This wasn’t that much of a surprise, I guess, but we started wondering what would happen if a person got mugged far from home and needed to find a way back — plane, bus, or train. Without ID, you’re stuck! I called up Amtrak and explained the situation, and asked if there were any options. Nope. The guy on the phone said that “with all the terrorist attacks in the United States nowadays,” photo ID is required.

I’ve heard this from others too. People are under this impression that we’re under seige 24 hours every day. I guess that’s what they’re supposed to think, given how the news depicts things, and our wonderful “You’re in danger!” color system.

“Terrorist” has become a catch-all phrase. If we still had a major threat of pirates (the sea kind, not the software and media kind), we would probably be calling them aquaterrorists.

The second incident was today when, after a very long day full of typical crappy Monday things (it’s surrogate Monday, due to Monday being a holiday), I decided to go to Fry’s to pick up a few things. Now, I ended up walking home today from work, and I keep my laptop in a backpack, so I entered Fry’s with the backpack on. I didn’t really think about it at the time, though. One of the employees stopped me as I was walking through one of the aisles, which is to be expected. They’re of course worried about someone stealing something. What I was upset about was how they treated me. I ended up in the middle of the front of the store, where everybody was walking through. They looked in my backpack and had me take out my laptop and show it to them.

I wasn’t too upset at this point, but then another employee came by and, with a less than friendly tone of voice, demanded to know what I was doing in Fry’s with a laptop. I explained that I had just walked in from work and stopped there on my way home. His response was “uhh huhh..” in that “Yeah, right” tone. He told me he’ll need to take the backpack. I asked where it’s going to be put, and they said “somewhere safe.” I asked where. He repeated himself: “Somewhere safe.” I asked where again. He finally told me that it’ll be behind the counter. I said, “The laptop is expensive and it’s my primary work computer. I want to make sure it’ll be taken care of.” He got a bit agitated at this point.

So, they stuck the backpack right behind the counter, where really, anybody could get it. I walked around for a few minutes and decided not to bother giving them my money today. When I went to pick up my backpack, the second guy gave me this look like, “Yeah, knew you’d be back so soon.” I picked up the backpack and left. The way they handled it was just embarrassing. Pulling me off to the side and talking to me like I was a person, rather than talking loudly and accusingly in the middle of a crowd, would have been fine. I’m now making those purchases at newegg. Fry’s lost a sale because two of their employees couldn’t treat me civily.

Fear is natural, and everybody fears something. The problem is when people let fear control what they assume of a certain person or class of people. And that’s something that’s now all too common in this day of “Don’t cross the street alone, the terrorists will run you over in their car.”

88 != 103. Incidentally, San Jose was lovely today.

I left work a little early today so I could pick up a package at the apartment office that just arrived before the office closed. I was on the phone as the bus pulled up, but I was busy fumbling for my bus pass, and didn’t read the number on the bus. There were two buses that went to that stop, and the 103 left, leaving the 88 to arrive. I assumed, therefore, that this was it. It wasn’t.

A long trip later, with plenty of stop and go traffic, I was in San Jose. I’m in Palo Alto. For those that don’t know, the bus route goes like this: Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and then San Jose.

A brief 10 minute wait in San Jose and the bus back home arrived. I fortunately managed to get a lot of work done on the libgalago GLib port on the bus.. And now I’m finally home. 3 hours later. Now I’m going to just sit here.. watch TV.. *yawn*

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

For about two weeks now, I’ve noticed that the lights in my apartment have been flickering a lot. I tried changing the bulbs and it did no good. Eventually I concluded that it was the portable heater causing it, until it started having this problem when the heater was off. Several times a day, the circuit breaker has been tripping. It’s all been getting on my nerves.

Today I noticed the lights fade off and realized that something was very wrong here. I headed to the breaker box and saw that the breaker was not tripped. However, there was a very faint smell, and a crackling noise. Uh oh. I quickly flipped it to off. Or rather, I slid it. No longer does it actually toggle. I can slide the switch to any position I want.

Fortunately, the crackling stopped and the smell quickly faded away. There was no heat on the breaker box. So now I have to get someone to fix this first thing in the morning. My fridge is plugged into this circuit, and I’m a bit worried about things going bad. I do have a mini fridge I’m putting some things like meat in. I guess I’m also worried about a potential fire. Ugh. At least now I know what the cause is, and hopefully it can be fixed quickly… Monday’s starting early!