Archive for the “Photos” Category
Today was an almost perfect autumn day (California variety), and we decided that it was the ideal occasion to explore one of the perks of living in Palo Alto: Foothills Park. It’s a 1,400 acre tract of rolling chaparral, woodland, and lakes, open only to Palo Alto residents and their guests(!). We parked by Boronda Lake and walked around it, and then drove via the Interpretive Center to a hilltop “vista” which gave us a splendid view of San Francisco Bay. As you can see from the photos, we had a clear view of Mount Diablo and Oakland, as well as local landmarks like the Hoover Tower at Stanford and the airship hangars at Moffett Field.
(Thumbnails link to full-size 4000×3000 originals.)
What’s the best way of celebrating one’s 60th birthday? Especially if it’s on an auspicious date like 10/10/10. (Binary 42, cue HHGTTG.) OK, let me amend the question: what’s the weirdest way of celebrating? How about participating in an Airliner Pull?
I just got home from a very happy day at SFO. The occasion was the 5th Family Day at the United Airlines Maintenance Center. Subscribers to the FlyerTalk were invited to come along as Guests, and I signed up immediately. (I had actually signed up for last year’s event, but I was travelling. China probably. There was a lot of that last year.)
UA Family Day is more than just a corporate event. We’re in the middle of Fleet Week in San Francisco, and one of the highlights is the series of air shows by the Blue Angels. During this week, the Blue Angels are based at one side of the United Maintenance Facility. This meant that one of the high points of today was watching the beautifully choreographed preparation and departure of the Blue Angels, viewed from less than 100 yards away.
For employees and customers of United Airlines, pretty much everything is overshadowed the recently-consummated merger with Continental Airlines. The centerpiece of the static display was a Continental 737-900ER painted in the new livery of the combined airline. It’s very simple: they’re combined the name – “United”, in the same typeface used in the latest United livery – with the Continental colors, including the tail design. Many United employees were lining up to walk through the plane, and there was a ton of promotional material – from playing cards to backpacks, from t-shirts to luggage tags – emphasizing the “One Airline” theme.
The other highlight for me was the Airliner Pull. The organizers had parked an A320 in the middle of the ramp, and were giving various teams the challenge of pulling it over a measured distance as quickly as possible. I had signed up for the FlyerTalk team, and we got our chance at 1:45. I was actually surprised how easily the 87,000 pound (43.5 ton) airliner rolled when we all laid into the rope! I got a commemorative pin, which I added to my (paid and free) swag from the day.
After the Airliner Pull, and the departure of the Blue Angels, I went for the tour of the Engine Maintenance facility. But it was a very hot day, and I was starting to feel a bit like the little fellow in the next photo, and so I decided to skip the FlyerTalk dinner this evening and head home. Which I did.
Although we moved to the Bay Area a year ago, we haven’t spent any time exploring San Francisco itself. I’ve been up for a couple of business meetings, but that hardly counts. So yesterday we jumped on an early Caltrain, rode up to the city, and took a cab to Coit Tower.
My best guess is that it was in fact the Tripoli, being towed out to sea (perhaps to Pearl Harbor), for use as a launch platform for SCUD and other missiles as part of the THAAD or Aegis BMD anti-missile programs.
By the time we returned to the base of the tower, the crowds had grown dramatically. There was a long line for the elevator, and outside the traffic was backed up all the way down the hill, as people waited for one of the few parking spaces at the top. We decided to skip the tour of the murals, took the #39 bus down the hill (admiring the way in which the driver negotiated the traffic), and had a wonderful lunch at the Mona Lisa in North Beach.
You can see more of the pictures I took here.
On Friday night we drove up to Sacramento for the weekend. My son Chris was being ordained as an Episcopal Deacon on Saturday, and we decided that it would be a great opportunity to explore Sacramento.
The ordination went off very well, although unfortunately Chris’s grandparents weren’t well enough to make the journey. I took a number of photos, and although they capture the feel of the event, the quality is pretty abysmal. I blame myself for adhering to the rules (“no flash photography”) – rules which many others ignored. (It’s tough having those first-born, rule-observing instincts!)
On Saturday afternoon, Kate and I explored the “Old Sacramento” area. It was very hot, and the crowds made it hard to appreciate the historic character of the place. We took the steam train ride, which was a bit underwhelming – a short trip to nowhere. Hmmm. Fortunately when we returned on Sunday morning, things were very quiet, and we could really enjoy the nicely-restored district.
After lunch on Sunday, we decided to head back, rather than waiting for the rush-hour. (Even so, the traffic heading back from Reno to San Francisco was quite impressive.) On the way, we stopped to look at the “ghost fleet” moored in Suisun Bay. You can just make out the clipper bow of the USS Iowa, BB-61:
Jun 07 2010
On Saturday morning we drove the 382 miles down to Pomona, CA, to take Hannah back to school. When we arrived at our hotel in Pomona, we found the parking lot full of beautifully restored and customized classic cars, sparkling in the sun. I grabbed my camera….
While Hannah and I were busy taking pictures, Kate discovered that there was going to be a huge auto swap-meet on Sunday, starting at 5am, just up the road at the Fairplex. 5am? Really. OK. And so the next morning I tiptoed out of the hotel and drove up to the huge, sprawling county fairgrounds. I arrived about 5:30, and it was quite misty, but the crowds were already building. There were thousands of booths being set up to sell and swap every kind of car-related equipment, paraphernalia, and memorabilia. You want a flawlessly chrome-planted rear bumper for a 1948 Chevy? No problem.
The swap-meet area was divided into two by a wide access road. On one side were all of the booths, concessions, and vendors. On the other side were the cars, neatly organized into different areas for street rods and restored cars of different eras. VWs had their own dedicated area. Ditto Porsches. And for hour after hour the cars streamed in….
I wandered around, photographing, admiring, dreaming. The pictures aren’t particularly great – the light was really bad – but the pride of the men (all men?) in their restoration work was palpable, and you can see it in the results. I stayed until around 8:30, before rejoining the others for the rest of the day. And then yesterday afternoon we drove back. Each way, we did 380 miles in less than 7 hours, including stops. (And it was not nearly as tiring as I expected – I think this may become a regular run.)
May 30 2010
We enjoyed our visit to Pigeon Point Lighthouse in February so much that we went back there this morning. No elephant seal this time, but plenty of things to see. Check out the gallery here. I got a series of shots of a Sea Otter eating; they’re at extreme zoom, but still pretty clear. (DSCN0902-DSCN0910, plus a detailed blow-up at the end.) Then there were about a dozen Harbor Seals hanging around in a photogenic manner on a rock below the lighthouse.
And yes, of course we went back to Cameron’s for lunch. Beer, buses, and bangers-and-mash. How could we not?
Earlier this month I was in Nice for the TM Forum‘s Management World 2010 conference. (It was a very useful show, and I’ll probably blog about the technical content as soon as I have time.) After the event was over, I found time to visit the MusÃ©e National Marc Chagall. Non-flash photography was permitted, and I had fun, as you can see here.
Here’s my latest review from Amazon.com. While the review addresses a particular product, there’s a more general question – how quickly does technology “trickle down” – that I’d like to dig into sometime. I would be curious to track various consumer electronics features to see how long it takes for an innovation to make the transition from “expensive differentiator” to “Wal-mart standard”. Anyway, here’s my take on the “Fujifilm FinePix S1800 12.2 MP Digital Camera with 18x Wide Angle Optical Dual Image Stabilized Zoom”: