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Archive for January 6th, 2013

Northern California 2012

I took a trip to Silicon Valley this year, and in my free time between work, I managed a brief trip to Pacifica to see the Pacific Ocean. I have see the Pacific from the shores of Japan in Chiba and Yokohama prefectures, but never before from the US.  Pacifica is about an hour east of San Jose, just south of Dale City, and just over the “hill” to the east of SFO airport.

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Words cannot describe the beauty of the Pacific coast

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Blue sky, blue water, jagged rocks

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Wait a minute, is that a trail?  I bet the view is better up there!

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Why yes, it is a trail, and that looks easy!  Just cross the stream and walk on up.

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OK, this might be harder than I thought.  I was wearing casual business shoes with NO GRIP.

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The view from the top was worth it though!

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Looking back to the land, there were no tall trees like one would find on the Atlantic coast, and lots of dry grass and land.  The trail in the center left had quite a few runners too.  There was no way down on this side of the hill though, so I had to go back the way I came, and it was a lot harder than going up.  It consisted of a controlled slide down the steep rocky portions, and a careful controlled walk on the dirt parts of the path.  Some shoes with some grip would have seriously helped.

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I had worked up an appetite, so after I had taken in the views, I headed back to San Jose for something to eat.  I stopped in Ramen Halu and tried their つけ麺 (tsukemen – cold ramen noodles dipped in soup).  The noodles and the soup were great, and the portions were large.  The only disappointing part of the meal was the thin char siu meat, but oh well.

It turned out this part of San Jose was like a little Tokyo, with a Kinokuniya book store and a Mitsuwa grocery store.  I picked up some study books for the JLPT at Kinokuniya, though I failed to find anything interesting for my son for learning hiragana.  I then picked up some basic supplies for my wife at Mitsuwa for the return trip.  It was only around 19:00 PST, but to my body it was 22:00 EST, so I headed back to the hotel to iron my shirt and get some sleep for the next day of work.  Pathetic, no?  I must be getting old.  But seeing the ocean, having a good hike, and finishing it off with a great meal simply made my day.  No need for anything else!

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2012 in Review

I can honestly say that 2012 was the busiest and fastest pace year of my life. I reckon that life will only get busier. Since this blog is primarily a journal for me too look back on, I thought I’d throw up some pictures to remind myself of the year that went by.

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Good-bye, Charleston, South Carolina. It was interesting. I miss the pink an auburn sunsets, the spanish moss, and walking along the Wando river.  We moved to Northern Virginia in early February

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View from Arlington National Cemetery – Lincoln memory at the end of the bridge, and of course the iconic Washington monument to the right

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Walking in the streets of Annapolis, MD.  Go Navy!

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Air show – F/A 18 Hornet – my favorite jet as a kid growing up.  The F-22 demonstration though sure made these planes look a lot less impressive

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Air show – what happens when a prop plane and blimp…?  I suppose this aircraft was used for zero-gravity testing and training?

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Teaching my son the fine craft of prepping and grilling bbq – the Korean grocery marts have excellent cuts of ribs at great prices.  In the warmer months I was preparing ribs once a month!

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Grilled pork satay

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烏賊 (squid) on the grill

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Great Falls on the Potomic

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Mule ride at Great Falls Park

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Our tour guide – he was full of great information about this history and lives of the people working the canal, and the impacts of rail road development on the canal

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Eden Center – an entire shopping center full of Vietnamese shops, such as food, entertainment, beauty, travel, and grocer shops.  Notice the South Vietnamese flags.

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Bahn mi – liver pate and head cheese and hot peppers – delicious!

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Autumn colors

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View from the Northern Shenandoah Skyline Drive

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Downtown Leesburg, VA – quaint and pleasant town to visit when you want to get away from the bustle of modern life.  There are quite a few coffee shops and pubs along the main street

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Part of the Christmas Parade in Leesburg, VA

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State House in Raleigh, NC – spent the time after Christmas and before the New Year in the Research Triangle Area of NC this year.

Hopefully 2013 will be an easier year with more time to enjoy the little things.

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Chicago 2011

I meant to post these photos last year, but 2012 got away from me and I never found the time to work on this blog.  So I was in Chicago for a job interview–I did not get the job–and though I was in the Chicago for less than twenty-four hours, I still enjoyed it.  Most of what I saw was from riding the L-train from Chicago O’Hare to and from downtown, and then walking around downtown the night before and the morning of the interview.

Chicago has this old feeling to it that I immediately came to appreciate and long for.  As the train dashed down the tracks I could see all of the old brick housing, built closely together and looking to be pre-World War II in construction.  There were lots of decks built onto the rear such housing, usually on the second or third level of the buildings.  Perhaps there are parts of the city where there are shiny new things, but I hope I don’t see them.  I like the small, old brick buildings packed so tightly together.  I like to imagine myself living in one of the units.  Shame I don’t have any photos, but it was too dark outside and the training was moving too fast for my mobile phone camera.

Forgive the mobile phone camera shots…one of these days I’ll be able to get a digital SLR.

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The L train runs above ground, and it curves around in a loop downtown and  at times it appears the train is just inches away from buildings when making a turn.  And yes, you can see into office buildings.  The metal tracking running throughout the downtown area gives the city an industrial feel that I do not know how to explain…

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You have to hike up the stairs to get to an L station, and I was surprised by the mix of heavy metal for the tracks, and then wood for the walking areas for passengers.  It just adds to this old, industrial feel that I had when I was in the city.

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A wooden platform, and there are booths on the platform with three glass walls and a heating element inside to help keep you warm in the strong Chicago wind during the winter.

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The former Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower

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Hard to see in this smaller picture, but there were gargoyles and demons atop quite a few buildings.  You are being watched…

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The Chicago Stock Exchange…which no longer operates, but has let out the trading floor and offices to private companies t operate their businesses out of.

In the end I did not get the job; I did not quite have the skill-set that the potential employer was looking for.  I am still glad I got to the opportunity to interview with the company, see the interesting work they are doing, and also a chance to see a bit of Chicago.  In the future I would certainly consider another opportunity in Chicago, and I’d certainly entertain the opportunity to live in the neighborhoods of Chicago (versus the ‘burbs like Aurora).  I love the old feel to the city and I think that the old feel and grittiness is a part of what makes Chicago unique from other North American cities.

And you certainly cannot beat the great public transportation!  I was surprised to find that many interviewees at the company took a taxi from the airport to the hotel, rather than using the L system and hiking a few blocks to the hotel.  Oh well though, their loss in my opinion.

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Sometimes I do feel like this

For your interpretation.

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Transient? Advanced aging due to a life lost in traffic? It could be all.

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