Thursday Jan 08, 2009

Personal Blog

Well, I've done gone and started a personal blog. It is at: I'll probably be cross-posting entries from it to this blog from time to time, and will also try to be more diligent about updating robsblog in the future. I plan on putting a post to it after our BJOSUG meeting next Thursday, which will be an open planning meeting for this year's activities.

Saturday Dec 13, 2008

A Wonderful Winter Day

In Spaceballs, there's this wonderful scene involving Mega Maid, a giant Statue of Liberty themed robot, who wields a vacuum cleaner in an attempt to suck-off Planet Druidia's atmosphere.

Well, it seems like she visited Beijing last night.

The fog is gone, leaving a wonderfully brilliant blue sky. What a drastic and welcomed change from the cotton-ball days of the past week.

I do so hope this weather continues.

Wednesday Dec 10, 2008

The Fog of Winter

When I was down on The Peninsula last week, there were mornings with a thick fog. It would burn-off by noon or so, revealing a resplendently blue sky.

Beijing has been blanketed by fog these last few mornings as well. However, unlike that which encompassed me last week, this fog doesn't leave. It is a constant presence which diffuses light and hampers vision.

I think it must also affects the mental state as well. At least, I seem to feel it. It is weighty and burdensome.

Friday Dec 05, 2008

Terminal 99

I am sitting in Terminal 99 of SFO waiting for Flight 889 to PEK to board. Clyde has wedged himself between the small of my back and my seat. I can feel him breathing. He is quiet now, but wasn't on the ride up here, and will surely be making his displeasure loudly known when I put him back into his carrier and board the plane.

Worshipful Jim brought me the airport this morning. I'd taken the mighty 22 down El Camino from the Marriott and met him at vets at 7:30 am. One of the veterinary technicians came in early so I could get him. We arrived at 8:15 am, which helped make both the check-in process and security rather painless.

I've been working on a couple of blog posts on my E90, and will upload them once I get into Beijing and have settled in a bit. The short of it is that the last two weeks have been extremely rewarding, both in the tasks I was able to accomplish and the family and friends (including co-workers, ex-co-workers, neighbors, and lodge brothers) whom I was able to meet. And, of course, in getting Clyde through the process of getting his health exam and the teeth extraction which was needed.

Well, that's it for now.

Monday Dec 01, 2008

Goodbye San Francisco

Took Matthew to the airport. Walked down Powell, caught BART out to SFO, and took the airport shuttle. Again, very convenient. This past week of staying in the city, driving places with Aram, taking public transportation, or just walking has been great. Has allowed me to experience the city in a good way.

That said, here are some observations:

  • There is a large homeless population in downtown San Francisco
  • The bus system seems to be more for "lower class"
  • BART seems, well, old
  • Many buildings are unoccupied

Another thing is that pedestrians definitely have the right-of-way. And, they predominately tend to follow the Walk and Don't Walk signs.

Saturday Nov 29, 2008

Hs Lordships

Had an early 70th birthday celebration for my dad at Hs Lordships. A very nice family gathering. The brunch was good, but I still need to watch what I'm eating. I've kept to smaller portions than I used to have when I lived here last. My cousin Steve was there with his dad, his wife, their daughter, and their granddaughter. Four generations together.

California Academy of Sciences

We went to the Californa Academy of Sciences today. Didn't much like the concrete slab walls on the exterior, but the exhibitions and living roof were fantastic. And, although I found the show at the Planetarium (entitled "Fragile Planet") to be a bit too preachy, the thirty-minute show was definitely time well spent.

Thursday Nov 27, 2008


We had Thanksgiving at my sister's house. A big mash-up of family members from her side of the family and her husband's. Wonderful time.

When I got back to the hotel, I found out that an order I'd placed on amazon for things that were hard to get in China was declined. Turns out the credit card company was being extra-cautious during the holiday season, and wanted some confirmation that it was actually me making the purchase.

After confirming to the credit card associate that I was me (?):

  • Where are you out of?
  • India, sir.
  • I know, but where? Not Mumbai by any chace?
  • Yes, Bombay.

We talked awhile about what was happening. At the end of the conversation, I told him that my heart went out to the folks there.

And, indeed it does.

Matthew and the Cable Car

I took BART out to SFO today to get my son, Matthew, who flew in from OKC. Very convenient. Just walked down from Nob Hill to the Powell Street Station, boarded BART, got out at the end of the line, took an automated shuttle, and that was it.

We rode back from the airport the same way. However, to get back up to the hotel, we took a cable car up Powell Street. When I was getting in line to get tickets, a girl offered me two three-day pass tickets. She and her friend had used two days, were leaving, and didn't need the third. I said sure and asked her if she wanted anything for them. She said nope, and, just to make the experience more pleasant, "Happy Thanksgiving".


Matthew's room is on the fifth floor looking out at the Transamerica Building and surrounding skyline, with a wonderfully illuminated Coit Tower in the background. Looking straight down, he can see both the Powell and California cable car lines, which cross right outside the hotel.

The room itself is wonderfully updated, just like mine. I have to say that Marriott did a wonderful job in restoring the Stanford Court, which finished a $35 million dollar renovation earlier this month. A fantastic combination of old and new.

This is the first time he's ever spent more than a day in The City. I think it is a great way to start.

(I'm also blown away that each of our rooms are only $115 a night... a special price through their website.)

For dinner, we walked down California towards Van Ness Avenue, walked over to Hyde, and ate at the Nob Hill Grille. The food was great. And, for desert, I had one of the best cupcakes I've ever eaten.

After dinner, we once again made use of our cable car passes and caught a ride back up the hill. This time, we sat on the outside benches.

The streets aren't nearly as busy as I remember them, or would expect them to be during the holiday season. Also, the receptionist told me that there are floors in the hotel that are closed... just not enough people registered to keep them all open.

Sunday Nov 16, 2008

These Shoes Aren't Made for Walking

A couple weeks back, I received a justified reprimand from a friend of mine. We were on the way to an event, and she was dress very nicely, including a fancy pair of shoes. I was dressed not nearly as nicely, and in my usual comfortable pair of loafers. We were a little late, so my pace was a bit brisk.

The conversation went something like this:

  "You know, these shoes aren't made for walking," said she.
  "What are they made for then," asked I.
  "The looking," said she, somewhat bewildered that I hadn't figured that out.

I must admit that it's been twenty years or so that I've gotten such reminders. There's just part of me that isn't willing to accept that someone would put something on their feet so willingly that would so limit their movement in such a drastic way.

In any event, I will try to be more observant and more understanding in the future.




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