Friday, March 10, 2017


I was going through some stuff the other day, and came across some trophies. I wasn't exactly the athletic sort as a kid, so I earned my trophies in adulthood.

This trophy is one I earned my first year at VMware.

Obviously that one is work-related.

This next one is one that I'm very proud of. It isn't work related. I received it a year ago today.

Hang on. Let me zoom in on the plaque...

The nephews who awarded this to me are approaching adulthood themselves, so I'll spare them the embarrassment and not identify them publicly.

At the time, they were 8 and 6, but their artistic skills were already developing. The trophy arrived in a box which they decorated:

I was already having a great birthday, but when their box arrived, my birthday catapulted from mere "great" to "grate"!

I'm not sure which nephew did each side of the box, but I have always assumed that this next side was drawn by my other nephew:

I'm in SoCal this weekend, so I'll get a chance to find our which is whose for sure. I plan to place my trophy and its box on their kitchen table and wait to see their reaction (aka wait to see if they even remember it a decade later!).

As you can see from the photo below, they were careful to mark up the box to prevent any unintentional damage to the trophy:

And just in case I got the crazy notion in my head to poke a hole through the other side...

This was one poke-proof box, that's for sure.

They were right. I did find something awesome.

My nieces and nephews are growing up now, but I hope they'll always remember me as "Silly Uncle Brian."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

S.S. Palo Alto

Stumbled upon a few cool videos of the damage to the cement ship this evening. I saw the ship the morning after the stern got upended. The waves that morning were still large and washing over the ship. It was a humbling sight.

I first saw the ship back in the late 80's. I even remember when you could walk on part of it. Since then I've walked RDM hundreds of times. Oddly, I never knew that seal lions hang out on it.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Surfin' Santa Cruz (Aptos actually)

We lost power for three days during the most recent storm. Multiple trees down, power poles toppled, the works. It was a bit of mess. We took the easy way out and simply checked into a hotel. Problem solved.

These guys, on the other hand, made the best of the situation.

Funny to see them doing this down at the beach that we regularly walk.

Well done, guys. Stupid, but well done.

Montreal Street Art

Street art is one of the things that I enjoy seeing all over the world. I enjoy the color and the creativity.

Here are a few examples from a trip to Montreal back in September 2016.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Nisene Marks Hike

Happy New Year!

Didn't quite make it to midnight California time last night. I hit the sack at 7:30 p.m. I'm intentionally slowly adjusting from Chilean time (5 hours ahead of California) to prepare for a trip to Dallas next week.

The weather was pleasant today, so I decided to take a hike in Nisene Marks. In the 30-ish years since I first hiked there - the first time was somewhere around 1988 - my usual M.O. is to drive in, park, and hike from there. In the drier parts of the year, that means driving as far in as the Porter picnic area. In the wetter parts of the year, that means parking somewhere south of the winter gate.

On one occasion, I hiked in from my house. That was an adventure that I don't feel compelled to repeat again any time soon.

Today I hiked in from an entirely new starting point. I parked the Volt at the Community Foundation building, plugged in to charge for free :-) :-) :-), and hiked in on the Aptos Rancho trail. I doubt I would have believed you if you told me thirty years ago that one day I'd be driving around in a car that gets 250+ miles per gallon and that often I'd pay nothing for the electricity that powers it.

Another thing that I wouldn't have imagined back then: In my pocket today there was a super-computer (what we call a smart phone nowadays) that was tracking my every step and providing me a detailed map of where I was at all times.

Before taking this hike, I'd looked at a map of the trail. I looked because I didn't know how the trail was going to handle the fact that it - at some point - was going to cross Aptos Creek. I was hoping to find a bridge, but here's what I found instead.

The creek is about 20 - 25 feet across at this point. As you can see, there is no bridge. Instead, I needed to carefully cross the creek across slippery stones and tree branches. I'm happy to report that this photo is from the "I made it!" side of the creek. I made it across with no mishaps. My footing wasn't so sure on the return trip.

For a 360 degree view of a couple points on the hike, see here and here. If viewing those on something like a iPhone or a tablet, be sure to click the gyroscope icon to really get the right-there-with-you effect.

As I continued to hike in, I was a bit annoyed to see some litter. Most folks respect the park. Occasionally I'll see a scrap of something that someone carelessly discarded, pick it up, and pack it out. But this was no ordinary piece of litter.

I have no idea how this car ended up here (or how anyone would remove it). The trails are far too narrow, and the hills are too hilly for a car to drive in without bottoming out. All I can imagine is that someone happened to have a helicopter, a car they no longer wanted, and a warped desire to perplex folks like me.

Strike that. I have more than just one theory. The other theory involves consumption of a large quantity of beer.

The car has obviously been there for many, many years. In that time untold numbers of people have written various messages on it. Here's my personal favorite:

Well that clears things up.

Fellow park goers, please don't litter.

As I continued hiking, the wet terrain from (what I assume are) recent rains here in Aptos was slick underfoot. It was just the right sort of conditions to bring out my alma mater's mascot, the banana slug. Here he (she?) is in all his beautiful glory.

As I hiked Aptos Rancho trail, I could tell that I was getting closer and closer to the Fire Road (aka. Aptos Creek Road). When I could see the road, I thought of the expression about not being able to see something right before your eyes until it was gone. In this case it wasn't so long that it was gone, but I was struck by how many times I've walked, run, driven past Aptos Rancho trail and never realized how extensive the trails are just off the road.

Ultimately my goal on today's hike was to get to Porter picnic area. That's ordinarily where I would park and start my hike, so ending there would, in effect, piece together today's hike with all the other hikes that I've done in Nisene Marks.

I took a brief break, enjoyed the sounds of the creek, and turned around to head back out of the park.

Aside from one wet misstep getting back across the creek, the return trip was uneventful.

This wasn't a adventurous hike or a particularly eventful one, but it was a peaceful, enjoyable way to start 2017.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

One day...

I traditionally keep my political opinions to myself.* That means a small circle of friends and family have had to bear the brunt of listening to those opinions. One thing that I've railed on for years is the electoral college.

Shortly before our recent election, I was joking with my small circle, "One day I hope to live in a country where I can vote for president." **

Twice. In. My. Lifetime.

That joke isn't so funny any longer.

Time, therefore, for a new joke...

"One day I hope to live in a country where all forms of slavery are outlawed."

To get the joke***, take a peek at the Thirteen Amendment.

* But that's changing.

** Representative democracy is a subset of my weird humor.

*** I'm using the word "joke" facetiously.