Cooler Days

Since last week getting back from my vacation the weather has turned in a few directions. Gone is that torrential rain and now we have colder temperatures. Yesterday I walked over in Mountain View at the Google campus which I have not done in awhile. I was out for 1 hour and 40 minutes with music going. I guess its natural to have some introspection but the thing that happened while gone brought an amount of joy and happiness. The thing has been since 2012 living with an amount of credit card debt that when I first started was crushing to me along with a divorce, living at home still as my ex-wife joyfully went through her perambulations with her new friend. It was a combination of things I could not control but this debt was a thing I could work on. So I signed up for a debt management program with a non-profit that got both companies to accept terms and conditions and less interest. It was with inordinate joy that I received the letter from them yesterday that I had paid off that entire debt. It took 4 years plus a few months and then some payments I did to get rid of it. I have to admit to yelling in the car! This was the last thing which persisted since the divorce and was a companion of mine through many jobs, moving out to a room, finding ways to not only cope but to start living again. Vacations began to lighten up my steps.

These cooler days with those 11,000 or so steps brought me to this moment and now I can revel in the things I don’t own. No house, no debt to speak of, a car that was not part of the 50/50 split that I got the worse of. Now I accomplished a thing that I had been impatiently awaiting for years. That feeling is so damned good.

My message on these cooler days is that a person can accomplish anything, get through days of diversity, find a way through adversity. There is a path. Often its not taking on the entire thing or things but tackling the things you can tackle. There will always be bigger things but I think they break down into pieces you can handle and then you can tackle and reduce things to a point where the big become small and you achieve.

Friends have come and gone for me. Things I wanted I no longer want. I don’t want another person in my life. There is no room and I am on a greater path to a thing which will happen next year. The big trip I call it when this blog will become a vehicle to record that travel to places and spaces yet to be defined. My shorter message for anyone is to enjoy the cooler days and believe in yourself.

You can do it! I did.

When it Rains

Its been raining here in California a lot lately. I just missed the really bad weather in San Diego but managed to experience flooding, trees down, and mud slides down and up the amtrak tracks as I was heading home. One of the things it does for whatever reason, makes me remember living in Chennai some years ago. I entered and exited India so many times that the customs guy muttered each time trying to find passport pages he could use. One of them told me I should move there. In retrospect I should have perhaps.

But the weather for some reason reminds me of the days there. I’ll share a few photo’s with you of my time spent in various locations over a few years. My most treasured items now are my friends and photos from those traveling days.

This is Goa.

The Palace in Mysore.

The International Shrine of Saint Thomas in Chennai

The Chennai City Centre Mall.

Traffic? What traffic. Right outside the STPI and Ascendas Mall areas in Chennai

Thanks to my friends from Chennai that are now scattered here and there. Some in Singapore, some in New Zealand. Others working in other cities in India. Its always been the best of memories and that’s what fulfills the other part of things; the treasured photos of the places.

I will go back one day and will walk to the Krishna multi-cuisine restaurant at the Hotel New Woodlands and have yet again a superior filter coffee and read the Times of India which is rolled up under my arm. Perhaps to stay for a week or longer to savor the food and then travel to the other places on my list I have not been. One year living in India was not long enough. I miss the morning sunrises when the sky turned its oranges and yellows on. I miss the Monsoons and seeing the kids delight in the rain that would, in turn, play havoc with the commute. It was a mix of feelings there but I felt more at home in India then I ever do here.

One day I will return and that dream once felt will return to a new shade of reality. I’ll travel there and delight in the same moments of time as before. Thanks to a lot of people from Chennai that probably have no idea of this blog and thanks to Chennai itself for always opening those arms and welcoming me back even if the customs agent could not find a suitable page in my passport.

Back to Tech

Technology is a vastly interesting, frustrating, and empowering thing. When I was in San Diego, I visited the Museum of Man in Balboa Park and it got me thinking about how stone tools are used. Maybe you know, but there are at least two distinct types. One is called ground stone and include things like mortars and pestles. The second is flaked stone and includes project points, biface blades, scraping tools and a whole bunch of other things. There is not only the difference in use types but the stone type is different. Flaked stone tools are often made of a group of materials called Silicates. These are like flint, chalcedony, chert. Obsidian as a volcanic silica was easy to create different tools in as well. Way back when I found this piece I believe up in Oregon.

Hard to believe that dusty and dirty thing probably weighing in at 30 pounds can be used to make stylized and beautiful technology and art like this.

Image result for obsidian projectile point

As my flintknapping instructor used to tell me within each piece of source material was a projectile point or knife blade struggling to get out. He had this system of “imagineering” what the finished thing would look like and then producing to that vision. Of course mine were usually referred to as footballs and I managed to break thousands of test points as I got them to the final point. John would laughingly tell me that the finished product must be broken in my desired state.

The main point here is though we learn by experimenting with technology and it teaches us whether its the difference in a pestle or a projectile point. It shapes us and we shape it and then the knowledge perhaps transfers and multiplies. Soon its not just the point that is shared but the tools, how to do it, what to do with it and its embodied in a new culture that will carry it forward with their own traditions.

The second big thing in this is change. No technology can remain static and as we have seen in the last few years; things that were borderline or edge devices have become mainstream and education and enterprises invest. One is the humble chromebook. Once thought the refuge of a group users that did not have particularly high requirements, the device is a bridge and is replacing more expensive devices in schools. Think back on the analysis of stone tools for a minute. People did not only need to know how to make it and how to use it they needed more. They needed to transfer this knowledge to succeeding generations. Chromebooks are doing that. Schools with perhaps tight budgets for technology find themselves making choices now that will be transferred to future generations. Basically, as my daughter’s school found out making thousands of chromebooks available meant that students could more easily utilize Google Docs and different education offerings that were included in the Google-fied school district. Some she told me were interesting and basic:

  1. Homework became easier to produce and share using a chromebook
  2. Chromebooks have great batteries. Perhaps she forgot the charging cable sometimes and the chromebook was able to last an entire busy day at school
  3. Resetting one was easy and she had to learn basic support because school staff were not always available
  4. Teachers and admin and faculty “ate their own dogfood” and classrooms were filled with everyone using them.

All of these basic things to me point at not just the use but the transmission of knowledge. The schools are investing in a cheaper technology swing that is sustainable. The MACs and iPads go away and a cheaper and more accessible device comes in. More can be procured and given with limited budgets.

As the hunter-gatherer soon learned you could not make a stunning projectile point with Quartzite, obsidian would also make a bad grinding stone unless you wanted pieces of glass in your food. Remember Obsidian is glass. That piece above was hurled out of a volcano that lost its mind. Classified as pyroclasic ejecta, this rock is suitable to make finely defined points but lacks in a suitable make up for grinding acorns.

Each thing has its use but the other factor is none of it stays the same. Everything changes at all times or it left behind. John told me to imagine the future state of the thing built and guide the hand that produced it. For me, its trial and error and always has been but to get to the desired state perhaps we have to experiment and find that silicate material that will work for us.

Day 3 (last day) San Diego

It always happens. Vacations have a time to start and time to end. I woke up this morning thinking that this is it again. One more day of walking and seeing here in San Diego. The plan starting out is that  I will reach up to Old Town and Presidio Park.

Its also the last day of nice days here and by tomorrow in the afternoon it will start raining through the weekend. I’ll be up early tomorrow to catch the return Amtrak from here to Los Angeles and then Los Angeles back to Jack London Square. Hopefully the train schedule holds this time and I don’t get re-routed through Bakersfield.

Now I sit here in the room relaxing and thinking about the last days of the vacation. It had been longer since a vacation but it still ends up on the last day of seeing things.

Today was it for me. I decided to go to Old Town State Historic Park today and see the historic museums, town buildings, and crafts and arts stuff. It was really a neat place. It took me about 2 hours of walking to get there from the hotel this morning. I had read about this training ship called the USS Recruit which is now on land and I got to see it today.

This was pretty cool looking I thought.

I then walked up to a main street that Old Town is on. Ended up taking about 1.5 hours of walking to get there. The park is really cool and I enjoyed the history and museums presented. Here’s a few pictures of the park.

I have to say one of my favorite places though was Liberty Station and I cut through it again on my way up. The promenade which is a border of the Station is just so beautiful. I will miss it and envy the people that get to walk it. The new part of it will open this year and then people can walk on two different promenades.

Before I knew it though, I had finished up it seems with tired feet and legs and a cold drink at Starbucks. My routine is to stop each day and get a iced Caramel Macchiato and glass of water and savor the walk and the day. Today it was bittersweet because its my last day and night here and tomorrow I wend my way back to the Bay area and work. So a few thoughts about walking in San Diego.

There are beautiful places to walk here and there are places to just get through to get to the beautiful places. I would come back again but my rule is not to visit a city twice for walking trips. It makes me focus on new places and also I can never compare two trips. San Diego was a beautiful and unique walking experience and there are great sidewalks and city streets to walk on. Understanding how San Diego is laid out makes it easier to walk main streets like Rosecrans and others. Beautiful walking trails are a normal thing here and I appreciate that immensely. The museums at Balboa Park and the waterfront are really nice as well. I did not do the Zoo or Sea World because I would only do those with my daughter force. For me, I wanted to see a piece of San Diego that I defined and its based on streets.

So there you have it. My final day of experiencing what San Diego could offer someone that walked it for three days. I could not see everything or even a fair share of what there is here and I said this when I was in Tokyo and Kyoto. I’ve been fortunate to walk in Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Kyoto. I’ve walked in Seattle, Portland, and Eugene as well. Its all been the same quest. A test of sorts I guess. Its not about passing or failing though. Its about doing a thing I like to do and when I sit in the Starbucks thinking about that walk to feel that it was all worth it.

And it was!

Day 2 San Diego

Went out and did the beer thing and slept until I woke up this morning :-). Last night I went for ribs and beers at Jimmys Famous American Tavern which was pretty good. Ended up back at the hotel watching movies.

Now I’m planning the day’s activities. Today I will walk over to the downtown area and tour around the Gaslight District, Balboa Park, and waterfront park areas for the day. Going to leave today by 10am or after breakfast comes and goes in the hotel cafe which actually has good food.

Just got back from an amazing day walking the city. My phone says I did 11 miles but I kinda doubt it. I walked down to the USS Midway and the other ships that are part of a floating museum. That was a great walk. Saw this kinda stuff.

Then walked through the downtown and up to Balboa Park. What a great set of museums and galleries and beauty. I loved the bridge to get in to the main site area.

I visited the Museum of Man there for a few hours. Really like the Egyptian sections.

After finishing up and being completely hungry and thirsty, started heading generally back toward the hotel which probably was a 5 mile walk by itself given where I was. I ended up at the Corner Drafthouse for a sandwich and suds.

At this point I had to walk down the street I was on all the way back basically to the Hotel.

I think San Diego is pretty nice for walking but the downtown section is a bit depressing in some spots kinda like most cities. I did not really stop there too much other than to buy some water and figure out how to get to the park from the waterfront which is quite nice and touristy. The walk along Harbor Drive east to west is very nice. There are bathrooms and water fountains, playgrounds, and the walkways are very nicely maintained. I got to see the Coast Guard and Naval facilities along the way. If you come to San Diego try to see both Balboa Park and the waterfront with the ship museums. I think its worth it.

Now I’m back in the room considering that once again I am at the last day of my walking endeavors. I’ll head back after tomorrow and as it happens that is when the weather changes for the worst. Today was simply beautiful out. Temperatures in the 70s and blue skies. Light winds and it all favors that pedestrian tourist that I am.

I’m going to start looking at what I want to do tomorrow and plan out an easy dinner. My feet are a bit tired at this point :-).

Day 1 San Diego

This is the start of day 1. Woke up at about 7am and am preparing for some food and then a day out. The temperatures here are gonna be quite nice T-shirt and walking weather I think! Its coffee in the room time now so I’ll save this as a draft post until I get back and update it with hopefully some photos and my rambling introspection of a day spent walking in the area of San Diego I have selected. I’m hoping to do about 5 hours today on walking and seeing and taking photo’s here and there. I don’t have a map or a set of left and right turns to make besides an initial direction and the part of San Diego I have decided I should see today.

I’m really excited! This is the first walking trip vacation I’ve done since 2015 and my Portland trip. First vacation since March of last year.

I just got back from the walk today and covered almost 7 miles and was gone about 5 hours more or less. It was a great first day. Got to see a lot of the neighborhoods of San Diego and a really cool ex Naval base which is now turned into a cultural, food, arts center with a lot of stuff to go do. Its called Liberty Station Park. I spent about 2 hours there including a nice lunch at Stone Brewing . Had a few of the beers they brew there and was treated quite nicely. Food was good too!  Here’s a few pictures from the day’s walking. I’ll post the link to the Google Photo Album when I finish the trip so you can see all the stuff.

Around the neighborhoods I walked in was a different story. Kinda quiet and the best part of the walk by far since I got to see sights that perhaps a tour bus would never see.

I’m not a terribly good photographer and tend to take photo’s to remember parts of the trip that I thought was fun, useful, unusual or unique. Kinda like this house which for some reason I saw twice on the walk today.

Ending up at Liberty Center was very cool and I toured around there for hours from the barracks areas with small shops to the park and I am gathering parade grounds.

So much for the first day on the trip. I’m back in the room thinking about my next steps tomorrow. I’ll get to downtown and spend the day there walking. Perhaps I will walk home and take a shuttle there or taxi. I don’t really care about the expense of things. I get a week to explore and drink the beers and eat and have fun and then its back to work.

I also have this draft post about traveling with technology which I will attempt to finish and post before my trip ends. I want to focus on the types of technology which works well when a person travels and what may be a hindrance. More on that to come!

Travel Mode Ensues

On the Amtrak, riding the rails with a slight deviation. The original train would have taken me direct to Los Angeles. Instead had to re-route to Bakersfield on the San Joaquin and then a thruway bus to Los Angeles and then the Pacific Surfliner to San Diego. Result is that I get in earlier and I get to enjoy a route I have not done before on the train.

Image result for san Joaquin amtrak route

That’s the ride I get to do now. Get to travel the San Juaquin Valley back to a place I once lived in and went to school and the place I met my ex-wife. Its a wacky and wonderful world we live in :-).

Now I’m on that train bound for glory like Woody once wrote. I’ll get in to San Diego hours earlier and start my day tomorrow exploring, walking, drinking the local beers and eating. Basically doing all the things I enjoy doing. If you’re wondering what luggage I may have taken on this trip, I’m all about exploring options. This trip went with a single bag which is the MEI Voyageur. It holds the clothing, the electronics and personal gear with room to spare.

 

The main pocket has enough room to store my clothing and core unit as described on my travel resource OneBag and the side pouch holds my chromebook and Kindle Paperwhite reader with room to spare. Its a great bag and very versatile for any kind of travel and can be worn as a backpack, carried as a bag, and slung over the shoulder. This was a practice excursion for me and I wanted to see how it was before going on the big trip next year.

I’ll be blogging the days in San Diego and the places along with photos courtesy of my Google Pixel phone. Now we are pulling into another stop here along the coast before going inland to drop down through the central valley.

Chinese New Years Parade

We watched the San Francisco Chinese New Years parade last night right by the Westin Hotel and what a night it was! Beautiful weather, firecrackers, marching bands, and large crowds of families primarily made it a great event for the daughter force and I. Here are a few pictures.

These were taken with my Google Pixel phone.

We spent the night at the Westin Hotel which was very handy since the parade goes right by it almost. Just a block to walk to get to the route.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Friday Morning Pancakes!

Its the Friday before vacation sets in. Kinda hard to believe in mere days I will head off for the first vacation in a year. Tomorrow we will go to the Chinese New Year’s parade but this is Friday and its pancake day. My favorite cakes are at iHop and are the Harvest Grain and Nut pancakes with old fashioned syrup and a side order of bacon or sausage and a pot of Joe.

I think pancakes are a great way to end the work week! I’ll be late getting in and the amount of email and calls have dropped significantly since we delivered the solution and its now in longer term support. Perfect timing for pancakes and a week off.

I’ve always liked pancakes at home on an electric grill or out. We had one of these things which made pancakes really well.

Image result for electric grill

Probably not the same model but you get the idea. We would gather around it and watch the batter bubbling up and the kids would get excited and I would try to make different shapes. I was kinda good at Mickey Mouse and we’d try others like bears since they had round heads and little ears. Then it was time to flip the cakes and the real contest was to maintain those ears and see the golden brown underneath. Most times it was all good and my daughter especially would be excited. Perhaps more excited at the shape than eating the cakes. Perhaps it was a moment of togetherness in the usual rush and go from work, school, events. Pancakes brought us together.

Of course we would soon part ways and I’d move out but I still go do pancakes on Fridays sometimes to perhaps remember the moments then but also to create new ones. Life is not all about remembering past events. Maybe with divorce and separation from the kids, things tend to be placed in the past but we cannot live there and my journey in a bit to iHop and their Harvest cakes is the way for me to see today with that old fashioned syrup cascading down and melting butter in a little golden skyscraper on top. Yes!

There’s the bacon or sausage awaiting my pleasure and the pot of coffee is nice.

Welcome to today. You deserve it. Have some cakes!

Solo Travel Mantras

In preparing for my upcoming train trip to San Diego, I started considering the things I’ll bring. I’ll be gone 5 days. 2 days are spent traveling and 3 full days are spent tiring out this old body with walking trips in as many different directions as I can muster along with some Starbucks strength medication at the end of the day. But what to bring is always a question. Here are a few of the things I consider. Perhaps in your own travel planning you have done similar things.

Camera. Do I bring my nice camera? The Nikon CoolPix L830?

Or do I bring my Android phone which is the Pixel with its superior camera?

Image result for pixel phone

Answer: I bring the Pixel phone. It backs up to Google Photos and it runs on the superior Fi network so I get bandwidth across multiple cell phone providers.

Laptop: I only have chromebooks these days but do I bring the Asus Flip 2 C302CA

ASUS C302CA-DHM4 12.5-Inch Touchscreen Chromebook Flip Intel Core m3 with 64GB storage and 4GB RAM

or the Acer R13?

Both are travel worthy and have amazing battery life. Both have the Play Store with an assortment of applications and games.

Answer: I’ll bring the Asus Flip 2 C302CA. Its more flexible and smaller in size and it has the compute power and battery strength to last the required 10 hours! I also have the Android apps I love on it and it plays them well including stuff like Sling TV and games like RealMyst. Good things to keep me going when the feet are sore and the beer is cold after a day of wandering.

Then its about the luggage. I have a few choices there too. I have the MEI Voyager.

Voyageur

And I have the Tough Traveler Trizip

Oh the choices and choices. Both bags are road worthy and I tested the Tough Traveler on the mini trip to Tucson. Its a very nice bag. I am leaning toward the Voyageur.

Answer: Voyageur unless something changes.

I always go through the choices about electronics and of course that causes a choice on power adapters and whether I should bring my new router to test.

But here’s the real stuff. What to enjoy about the trip? There are many answers to traveling solo in the world or even on the train to San Diego. I travel solo because I can travel solo and because I surrendered for years the rights I have to vacation and enjoy moments spent with feet striking pavement and sidewalks and walking trails in the beat of my own life. The feet walking mirrors the thoughts which come and whisk around as I see the release I get with 17k steps or 7 miles or whatever that I don’t measure. Its hard work for a vacation some would say to walk a city each day. Feet become tired but the cold beer and food and blog posts show me new paths.

The real thing is the vacation and not the duration. Its the going and not arriving. Its not so much the planning since making decisions about the trip are the parts I finish early. Its more the longer range things which stick in my soul and mind. The lefts and rights in no specific order in a city that will not really note my passage but grant me moments to get lose in its varied splendor.

Decisions made. I’m ready for the vacation to start and my feet to strike that pavement.