Monday, March 31, 2008

50-year-old live oak

This tree is about 50 years old, maybe a little less. I remember when the trunk was about a foot in diameter.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

modern jetway

Personally, I don't mind the stairs that roll up to the planes at Terminal C.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tall trees in the botanical garden

How many times had I ridden my bike past this spot over the years?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Plaza del Sol

There are only two photos of Plaza del Sol in Panoramio.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sunnyvale Community Center

The Sunnyvale Community Center is located just south of El Camino, where Fair Oaks becomes Remington. This particular photo was taken at the approximate location 37º 21' 31.21" N 122º 1' 31.77" W with a Hoya R72 filter (on a Canon S2).

There's a little theater, but I've never seen anything there. I recall that the center offers some classes. We used to go ballroom dancing there on Friday nights, but they don't host that any more either.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Double Cheese No Cheese

This is my favorite tag from McDonald's: "Double cheese no cheese" which is what you get if you order a double-cheeseburger with no cheese. The regular cheeseburger is 99-cents; the double is a dollar. The regular hamburger is 89-cents. There is no double hamburger. So I get a double cheeseburger with no cheese. The cheese is 50 calories per slice, by the way. I don't think it's real cheese...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

simple things

Simple things must be hard to sell.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Canon A-series

At lunch today I went over to the nearby Best Buy to see which Canon A-series cameras they had in stock. The only carried the A590. I could see from the cameras on display that the market is saturated at either end, but the Canon A-series is the sole useful compact camera. Best Buy stocks lots of subcompact fully automatic cameras (the Canon SD series, for example); and at the other end, they stock lots of digital SLRs for the enthusiast.

The salesman asked me if I was looking for anything in particular. I said I was looking for Canon A-series cameras, but they only had one on display, the A590.

He asked, "Is there a reason you're looking at the A-series?"

So I said, "You tell me why I would want an A-series camera." Because, I thought anyone who knew anything about cameras and photography would know why someone would be looking at those cameras. Instead, he told me that the big drawback of the A-series is that they take AA batteries, and that you'll get a lot more shots per charge out of the lithium-ion batteries that come with the Elphs. Yes, that's true. So he does know a little bit about the products, he sells; he just doesn't understand the market for the A-series, because he's not a part of that market.

I looked at two things on the A590.

1) Some of the reviews mentioned that the battery door hinge on the A570 is a little flimsy. Did you notice anything like that on your A560? The A590 looked fine, but not particularly rugged.

2) I flipped through the menus, which are very similar to those on my S2. I couldn't find auto exposure bracketing -- does your camera have that?

I also noticed that on in the Auto mode, you have the choice between "normal" ISO equivalent and "high" ISO. I thought that was clever. In Program mode, you can actually select which ISO you want.

"Wow, a Rivendell!"

"Wow, a Rivendell!" The stranger knew his bikes, since my Quickbeam doesn't actually say "Rivendell" except in very tiny lettering beneath the model name on the downtube. "That's beautiful," he said. Indeed it is, but just moments before I was thinking to myself that I should clean it at least sufficiently so that I wasn't afraid to touch the wheels...

Yeah, I ride a gawkable bike, for a tiny fraction of the population.

"Are those Phil hubs?" (no, the stock Suzue)
"Is that a Tubus rack?" (yeah, the Luna)
"Have you tried one of the nicer freewheels, like the White Industry ones?" (yeah, that's a WI ENO)
"What are those tabs on the fork? Is that for a generator?" (they're for a mini front rack designed by Rivendell)

Monday, March 17, 2008


I had imagined that if I ever shopped for a Waterford, it would be lugged steel.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Velvet Foam

Last night after dinner I made cappucinos.

Erin told her mom, "See? Now he has a fallback in case he loses his job." Her response was that if I lost my job here, I'd probably invent something cool or start some high-tech company.

But Erin knows me much better than that. "I think his ambitions are a lot simpler than you think."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Another shot of undeveloped Mondrian

The earlier shot didn't quite capture the emptiness next to the model home. They poured a lot of concrete before they stopped construction, so the whole site looks a little weird. There are various utility stubs sticking up all over the place, and exposed drains and stuff. They should plant a bunch of trees there, and the whole place will look better in 10 years.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fruitstand on Whisman

Gabriele Basilico has a photography exhibit right now at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The collection of photos, titled "From San Francisco to Silicon Valley," was taken last summer at the invitation of the museum.

Basilico is known for his images of urban environments in "transition and transformation." I looked up some of his earlier works, and I found many compelling photos of bombed out buildings in Beiruit. When he came to Silicon Valley, many of his photos were of the edges of suburbs, where they met what was prevously farmland.

I can certainly imagine that if he'd found the last orchard in Mountain View, it would have been one of his subjects.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

bok choy seedlings

Seedlings need to be exposed to hardship.

If you pamper them too much when they are young, keep them indoors for the first few weeks of their lives, out of the wind, out of the cold -- they grow thin and spindly, and when the are finally exposed to the real world outdoors, their survival rate is low.

But if you take them outside for a few hours at a time when they are young, maybe even all day; and protect them from real threats like birds and squirrels, but let them be buffetted by the wind and let them suffer a little of the temperature swings of the day -- then they become stout and hardy, and are likely to survive the transition of a transplant into the real world.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring cleaning

"I cleaned out the owl. There were a few hornets nests, but none were active."

"Oh. You could have just thrown it away. It doesn't really scare anything away, and the hornets like it."

"Sure, it scares the squirrels sometimes."

"What squirrels? The ones that jump on it to get up to the fence?"

"Yeah, those. They jump on the owl, and its head wobbles, and sometime that will scare them a little."

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I visit Oakland 13 years after moving away and discover, to my great delight, that Barney's now serves skinny fries (in addition to their regular steak fries).

Friday, March 07, 2008

Stevens Creek Trail

Last month I got a Gorillapod and I take it with me occasionally on my commute. This is the last week before Daylight Saving Time begins. Currently I'm riding to work in pretty bright sunlight, and riding home around twilight.

I took this shot on the Stevens Creek Trail, just north of Highway 101, looking back through the underpass. It is actually a composite of two shots: one shot had a longer exposure to get the detail in the tunnel; and the other shot had a much shorter exposure, so that the detail on the other side was not blown out. Of course, I congratulated myself for being savvy enough to do the post processing work. But riding home, I realized that a better photographer would have just waited for the proper time of day to take the shot, rather than munge two exposures together.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Shea Homes

Some time ago, an abandoned business park on Evelyn at Moorpark was razed by Shea homes, to be the site for their new housing community, "Mondrian." I drive by the site almost daily on my commute home from work. I watched as the old buildings were torned down, and new utility lines were laid. A model home was put up (pictured). And then, construction stopped.

According to the Shea Homes web site, "... based on current market conditions Shea Homes has made the business decision to hold off on any development until further notice. We will be re-evaluating our position with these two communities in the summer of 2008." The other community mentioned is "Boulevard" in Santa Clara. From the satellite view in Google Maps, the latter community appears to be on the east side of Scott Blvd., just north of El Camino.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Francia Orchard, Mountain View

This is one of the last remaining fruit orchards in Mountain View. Located in the Whisman area, it sits behind a string of office buildings that currently include VeriSign. The trees are blooming right now; I think they are apricot trees.

In 2006, the owners of the orchard notified the city council that they were interested in converting the agricultural land to residential-zoned property. The land is currently owned under a Williamson Act contract that provides a tax break as long as the land is used for farming.

More info here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Former HP Site on Evelyn

I remember attending a meeting at this site many years ago. It was a demo of some OpenView-related monitoring software.

When it was shut down years later, I remember seeing a big dumpster parked in front of the building, with a large graffito "BITCH" scrawled out in spray paint. Homage to the esteemed CEO at the time, I imagine.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Tour of Milpitas

Tour of Milpitas, from the Great Mall to Mission San Jose.