Sunday, June 29, 2014
Saturday we went to the California Science Center. We started with a 3D IMAX movie about the space shuttle and the Hubble space telescope. Next we toured some of the Science Center exhibits, and finally made it in to see the Endeavor space shuttle. It was awesome to get so close to an actual space shuttle. Some science center guides were there to answer questions and had samples of the space shuttle's outer materials that you could feel and touch. It was a fascinating experience.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Friday we left our Imperial Beach resort hotel for Los Angeles. On the way we stopped and toured the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego. It was an interesting tour. We got to go all over the ship with a self guided audio tour and saw how the sailors and aviators lived and worked on the ship. The most interesting part was going out on the flight deck where planes once actually landed and took off, and up into the control tower where the entire operation was commanded.
|Flight Deck and Control Tower|
|La Jolla beach|
|La Jolla Surfer|
Friday, June 27, 2014
We took a break from sightseeing Thursday and decided to just enjoy some relaxation at the Marriott Pier South resort hotel. We started the day with a nice outdoor breakfast with views of the ocean and the relaxing sound of waves. Later on we signed Kyle up for some surfing lessons. Starting with some classroom instruction on the beach and quickly moving into the water, Kyle stood up on his first wave. He had quite a few good rides all the way in to the beach and a couple of gnarly wipeouts. After the lesson was over, Kyle was allowed to keep the board and wetsuit until he was tired of practicing on his own. We set up some beach chairs and a sun umbrella to relax and watch. When Kyle finally ran out of surfing energy we all retired to the pool deck where Kyle enjoyed the heated pool and we enjoyed some chilled drinks.
|Breakfast Al Fresco|
|Surfing safety school|
|Shootin' the curl|
|Falling with style|
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Wednesday we slept in past the Fairfield's breakfast buffet time, so we had breakfast at a nearby IHOP. I haven't been to one in a long time, and confess I ordered too much food. :) After checkout we started the drive to our next stop. The drive was uneventful until we approached Los Angeles where the traffic backed up. We were stuck in slow traffic much of the rest of the drive. Finally we arrived at our hotel in Imperial Beach south of San Diego. It is a pleasant resort town and we have a great room on the waterfront at Marriott's Pier South hotel. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant where Kyle tried some pork & bison meatballs. Next time he's sticking with a hamburger. ;)
|Hotel waterfront view|
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
We had pleasantly warm temperatures today for our visit to Yosemite National Park. Our first stop was the Half Dome Overlook. Next we went to see Bridal Veil Falls. The falls' source must be dryer than normal. The water coming over the edge was barely enough to make it to the bottom. Most of the waterfall was caught up in the wind and blown into a mist. It was still an impressive sight though.
|Misty Bridal Veil|
|Valley Floor & Upper Yosemite Falls|
|Kyle on the Rocks|
|Tunnel View Panorama|
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
We saw a lot of San Francisco on foot Sunday. Today we had a chance to see the city from another point of view. We booked a tour with San Francisco Helicopters which has an excellent rating on TripAdvisor. They picked us up in a shuttle van and drove us to the heliport where we boarded the helicopter. The flight seeing tour took us all around the city of San Francisco and the pilot pointed out all the interesting sights, including many we had seen the day before. The highlight of the ride was when we dipped in altitude and flew right under the Golden Gate Bridge, then swooped up, turned, and flew over the top. It was an awesome way to cap off our San Francisco visit.
|San Francisco Helicopters|
|Pigeon Point Lighthouse|
Monday, June 23, 2014
Sunday started with breakfast in the hotel. The Marriott Courtyard has a small cafe with breakfast items for sale. The choices were limited but the food was pretty good. Our touring started with a cable car ride from The Fisherman's Wharf area to Union Square. The ride was quite a thrill as we got to stand on the side boards and hang on.
|Cable Car Riders|
|Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill|
We had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe on Pier 39, then returned to our hotel nearby. But we didn't stay in long. Shortly we headed out for another cable car ride to the section of Lombard street known as the crookedest street in the world. We got off at the top of the crooked street and walked to the bottom. From there we returned on foot to our hotel for the night. Tomorrow is mostly a travel day on the way to Yosemite.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Day one actually began Friday evening. Ginette dropped us off at the airport where we smoothly cleared security and headed to the United club to wait for our 8:45 flight. Kyle seemed to enjoy the snacks and beverages, but mostly the free WiFi. Boarding for our flight was delayed a little, and take off was also slightly delayed so we didn't get into the air until about 45 minutes after our scheduled departure. We knew this was a late and long flight so we used miles to treat Kyle (and ourselves;) to some extra first class comfort.
After arriving at SFO we collected our bags and the rental car and found our way to the hotel by about 1 AM pacific time. We were a bit hungry so in recognition of pizza Friday tradition we had one delivered to the hotel room. With full stomachs and weary heads we quickly crashed to sleep.
Saturday began with breakfast in the hotel restaurant where we could watch planes land and take off while we ate. After checking out of the hotel we drove across the Golden Gate bridge and stopped at Vista Point for some nice views and pictures of the bridge. We walked across the bridge to the halfway point and then back. Next we drove up into the Marin Headlands where we got some nice views of the bridge and bay from a high scenic overlook. We continued on all the way to the Point Bonita lighthouse before returning to Highway 101.
We proceeded up 101 to the Muir Woods National Monument where it was a challenge to find a parking place but we were fortunate to get a good spot as someone pulled out to leave. The hike through Muir Woods is peaceful and awe inspiring. The trees are so tall they seem too lean into each other when you look straight up to the tops. Besides the trees we encountered some interesting wildlife including an owl and a California slug.
We drove back to San Francisco crossing the Golden Gate bridge again and checked into our hotel in the Fisherman's Wharf area. There was time to walk to the nearby Ghirardelli Square and sample some free chocolate before finishing up our day with dinner at an area Mexican restaurant.
Friday, June 20, 2014
Here's a quick Walking Challenge update for week 3. The first place team, Pacers, already completed the challenge! Team 14, my team moved up into 6th place but my personal step total dropped to 24th place so no top twenty this week. I'm travelling next week so I probably wont be setting any walking distance records then either.
|click for full size view|
Monday, June 16, 2014
|Click for a larger view|
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Soccer scoring is straightforward 1 point for each goal unlike basketball or American football. Thinking about the scoring for games like that (tennis anyone?) made me liken them to the fictional game of Quidditch, where teams score 10 points for throwing a quaffle through a hoop, but catching the snitch awards 150 points and all but guarantees a win. I tried to think of a real sport with a similar rule, and the closest thing I could think of is professional boxing, where contestants are awarded points for the number of punches they score on their opponent, but a knockout punch guarantees a win.
There is a humorous Harry Potter fan fiction called Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and in chapter 7, Harry discusses the ridiculousness of the snitch in Quidditch. Here's an excerpt:
“So let me get this straight,” Harry said as it seemed that Ron’s explanation (with associated hand gestures) was winding down. “Catching the Snitch is worth one hundred and fifty points?”
“How many ten-point goals does one side usually score not counting the Snitch?”
“Um, maybe fifteen or twenty in professional games -”
“That’s just wrong. That violates every possible rule of game design. Look, the rest of this game sounds like it might make sense, sort of, for a sport I mean, but you’re basically saying that catching the Snitch overwhelms almost any ordinary point spread. … It’s like someone took a real game and grafted on this pointless extra position so that you could be the Most Important Player without needing to really get involved or learn the rest of it. Who was the first Seeker, the King’s idiot son who wanted to play Quidditch but couldn’t understand the rules?” Actually, now that Harry thought about it, that seemed like a surprisingly good hypothesis. Put him on a broomstick and tell him to catch the shiny thing…
Ron’s face pulled into a scowl. “If you don’t like Quidditch, you don’t have to make fun of it!”
“If you can’t criticise, you can’t optimise. I’m suggesting how to improve the game. And it’s very simple. Get rid of the Snitch.”
A look of absolute horror was spreading over Ron’s face. “But, but if you get rid of the Snitch, how will anyone know when the game ends?”
“Buy… a… clock.”
Monday, June 9, 2014
I was surprised to discover that even on days I don't go for a walk I still log 3 - 5 thousand steps. Even my most sedentary days are still around 2000 steps. I'm tracking my steps using an iPhone app called 'Steps'. It uses the M7 coprocessor in the iPhone 5s to count my steps anytime I'm carrying my phone and seems pretty accurate.
I've got a trip coming up where I expect to be doing a lot of sightseeing. I'm curious to see how much walking I actually do while travelling.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Some time after buying my MR2, I made a driving trip to Niagara Falls and while there found a Niagara souvenir baseball style cap in colors that matched my car. I wore it during that trip and on the way home where I promptly lost it to the wind while driving with the top down. That problem has since been solved by my son who introduced me to cap keepers.
In the mid to late 2000's I got caught up in the Texas Holdem poker craze, and played enough online poker to earn myself a PokerStars cap. For a while this became my official driving hat. A hat with a bill or brim is particularly desirable in a convertible on sunny days.
Having become accustomed to wearing a cap, I started buying them as functional souvenirs of my travels. My first travel cap after the misfortunate Niagara cap was from Cabo San Lucas, and sadly I lost that one as well, tho not to the wind. I must have dropped it or left it somewhere because it just disappeared one day. However, I now have more than a dozen caps that I rotate wearing about once a week. Each one brings back memories of the location I purchased it from and some, like my Maui hat are extra special. A gallery of my collection of 'vacation hats' can be seen here.
Monday, June 2, 2014
Two weeks ago however, I decided to participate in a walking challenge proposed by the IT Fit Team at work. The idea is that 15 teams will do a virtual walk from Oakbrook to Washington DC between Memorial Day and Independence Day. That's 687 miles in 40 days. Fortunately I'm not expected to walk the entire distance. I'm a member of a 5 person relay team and each member will walk ⅕ of the distance or 137.4 miles. Since it is a virtual walk, we accomplish it by carrying a pedometer all day and recording our total steps each day. One mile is about 2000 steps, so I need to average 6870 steps a day to cover my share of the distance in 40 days.
The challenge began a week ago on Memorial Day. I spent the week before getting my walking legs in shape and reassuring myself that I could manage the daily pace. Today is the end of the first week of the challenge and I recorded 58,253 steps which is a little better than the average I need to maintain. I'll report my further progress next week and hope to have some data about the other teams' progress as well.