Miscellaneous and Useless Information


This weekend we’re back to normal summer weather in the Bay Area: beautiful sunny days, cool nights. Last weekend we were in the middle of the worst heat wave to hit California. In 14 summers in the Bay Area, this was the first time I ever felt the need for an air conditioner. Our house didn’t even have a fan, and all of the stores sold out! The days were hot, but it was the nights that really got to me. I half-seriously thought about going to work to sleep. I never looked so forward to going to work as I did on Monday.

I’m finally done uploading all of my photos to Flickr. And I’ve fixed all of the photos in this blog to point to those photos. Whew, I’m beat!

If you want to look through them, you could start at the beginning and browse through all 1,565 photos (and counting), but I suggest looking through my sets and tags. I especially recommend filtering my photos through people β€” friends from:

I saw Cars over the weekend with Jon. Cars, of course, is based on a true story: the life, death, and rebirth of Route 66. It was astonishingly accurate in its renditions of roads, road signs, and maps. Pixar definitely had some roadgeeks advising them. In addition, Pixar got the author of one of the most celebrated books on Route 66, Michael Wallis, to be the voice of the Sheriff, which explains how the movie could tell the story of Route 66 and roadside America was so well. It also explains some of the dewy-eyed nostalgia in the film, but that’s okay. Cars is a family film, not a PBS documentary.

Afterwards, we went to Willow Glen for dinner. Aqui is a “fast casual” Cal-Mex restaurant [photo]. It’s definitely got the “Cal” part going; I’ve never been to a Mexican place that serves tortilla chips with black beans, hummus, and polenta. Their Pork Ranchero Tamales and Cuban Pork Enchiladas were also tasty. And since they don’t have waiters, none of their dishes are above $11. For dessert, we couldn’t resist our third visit to the Willow Glen Frozen Yogurt Company [photo].

I've finally started uploading my photos to Flickr. Since I'm starting from around the time I got my digital camera in 2003, it'll take a few days to make my way up to now. Then I can finally have some photos to go along with my blog.

Updated August 5, 2006: I’ve found a new way to reach a BofA customer representative, at least in California:

  • Call 1-800-622-8731, which is listed in the BofA’s Contact Us page.
  • Press 1 for more options, then press *.

I’ve removed the old information, since it just seemed to be confusing people.

Last month I was in Montreal for the CHI conference. I came away impressed by the city; it really is a wonderful blend of Europe and North America. (The signs are all in French, but everyone speaks English!) The original city center still has blocks and blocks of historic buildings intact, while downtown and surrounding neighborhoods have an urban energy to them. There’s also an extensive “Underground City,” which came in handy during the first few rainy days.

I visited a few great museums and historic buildings, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Montreal Botanical Garden, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, which is a ΒΌ-scale model of the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica.

(I’ll put up photos once I figure out how to export my metadata from Adobe Photoshop Elements to Flickr.)

(I never did figure out how to export metadata from Photoshop Elements to Flickr… Updated June 27, 2006)

Jorge Cham did speak at Stanford after all, which was good for me since it made my drive a lot shorter (although I was prepared to drive up to Berkeley…). And his talk was one of the funniest I’ve ever been to. It was also packed; the Clark Center Auditorium was filled with guffawing grad students (along with a couple of brave professors and undergrads). Whenever he does his next speaking tour, I highly recommend it, especially for all you grad students and ex-grad students (however you became “ex”). [photos]

I'll take a day off if I have to: Jorge Cham, the creator of the comic strip Piled Higher and Deeper, is speaking at UC Berkeley on May 4. (For a while, he was also tentatively scheduled to speak at Stanford the next day, but that just disappeared from his web site.) It's the Dilbert of graduate school. If you've never been a grad student, it may not be that funny. But if you have, it is absolutely hilarious. Go on, procrastinate! You can't resist…

Two Saturdays ago Brian, Will, and I went to the Tech Museum of Innovation to check it out. None of us had been there for years, so we wanted to see what it was like now. Well, sadly, we all found that it was mainly focused on kids and that we had outgrown it. So while it was good to go once, I don’t think I’ll be spending $10 for the museum again.

Now, the IMAX movie at the museum, Roving Mars, was excellent for the most part. The photos of Mars were amazing, especially when they’re 80 feet tall. But the transition between actual footage of the launch from the ground and computer graphics of the rover flying through space was seamless β€” so seamless that it made me start to question the other images I was seeing. Were the images of Mars artists’ renditions or real satellite photos? (I think they’re the latter.) Still, I’d recommend the movie to anyone interested in the Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, which have lasted much, much longer than anyone dreamed.

Afterwards, Tao joined us for Cuban food at the nearby Los Cubanos restaurant [photo]. Very tasty, and very filling β€” we completely stuffed ourselves and still had leftovers. By the way, when I did a web search on the restaurant, I found two addresses and two phone numbers. Ugh. The real address is 22 N. Almaden Ave (not Blvd, and not San Pedro St), and I don’t remember which phone number is right.

By the way, in case anyone is interested, my del.icio.us bookmarks are at del.icio.us/jlin45d. They are even more random than this blog.

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