Great American Saturday

I didn’t get to sleep in today but I think it was worth it as few of us hit up Great America for the day. Reid got busted right at the beginning for trying to bring a bottle of Honest Tea into the park, but fortunately was not arrested. They had everyone go through metal detectors on the way in and had announcements about knives and other weapons not being allowed, so that was comforting. One ride had several announcements reminding people not to spit on each other, so that gives you an idea of the kind of people you may run into in an American amusement park.

It was my first time at Great America and it was pretty good. The park was average but the lines never got too long and the company was cool, so I was happy. It also wasn’t ridiculously hot or raining, which tends to happen at amusement parks, although in California rain isn’t really an issue. No rain in your face on the roller coasters, but you run the risk of being at the top of Drop Zone during an earthquake. Fair trade?

Actually, even though it didn’t rain I did get wet quite a few times. On any ride involving water-based risks, Koklynn’s cousin and I always got hit the hardest. I even got hit by this splash, standing in a location I believed to be outside of the designated splash zone:

Reid and David getting splashed

Looks like the little kid was having as much fun as Reid.

I took a couple of videos with my camera for no good reason, but I have them so I’m blogging them:

This is Mike and me riding Grizzly, a wooden coaster. We wanted to try and carry on a boring conversation for the video, but I think it’s obvious neither of us have much to say. Next up is a ride that goes around in circles:

Yep, that’s how it goes. But the announcer/operator was funny so that made it more thrilling.

After the park, we ate some Korean food. Not really my favorite but it felt good to eat after a long day in the sun. A few of us wrapped up the day with a trip to the office (where else would one go on a Saturday night?) to play Rock Band. It was my first time and I enjoyed trying out the drums. I’m also glad our group had a “no singing” rule.

I hope everyone else had a fun Saturday and has a great rest of the weekend. This entry is just about over, and to play us out, here’s Ron Jenkees rocking on dual keyboards:

Let’s go fly a kite

Charlene flying a kite

This year at Google’s annual Summer Picnic, we all got our own kites as a gift, because Google is cool like that. We ran them through some extensive flight testing today at the kite flying area in Shoreline Park. After a tip from a kiteboarder to add more material to the tail, we had them flying high. Of course not everything was smooth sailing. Reid’s kite flew away, sending him and Charlene on a long journey to retrieve it, and they both got attacked by nature in the process. I don’t untangle knots, so my kite flew with a pretty big one. At one point, I had unraveled my line completely, and without realizing that it wasn’t tied to the plastic handle, let my kite fly away into a tree. And Koklynn’s kite got attacked by a huge kiteboarding kite, which Nelson had to go relaunch. Overall, I’d call the event a success. Thanks Char (kite expert) for organizing!

It was worse than we thought

I thought a six mile hike was bad. Last night, Reid was able to download his GPS data and give us the real distance. Turns out we actually hiked out 9.73 miles from the car to to the campsite. You can view the gruesome details on MotionBased or you can open this file in Google Earth. Just note that the timing is off since Reid forgot to turn off the GPS at the end.

And in case you thought I was being overly dramatic, even Koklynn, who on the second day finished the hike an hour before me, thought it was rough.

I’ll be wearing my new jean “shorts” on Thursday at work, so buckle up, coworkers!

Nelson has a hatchet

From Yosemite

This weekend, a few friends and I went camping at Rancheria Falls in Yosemite National Park. I’m a terrible flat-footed* hiker, and probably won’t be invited to go camping again anytime soon. Thank goodness.

I had never been camping before, aside from school trips where we stayed in cabins or sleeping in a tent in my backyard. But I figured I could handle it. Walk around, look at nature, make s’mores… how bad could it be? During the email threads in the planning process, something about a “six mile hike to the campsite” was mentioned a few times, but I never got too concerned about it. I’ve hiked over six miles before and survived, so why should this be any different? Well, a few things were different. We were carrying camping gear. That stuff is heavy. A broken strap made it worse. And the trail was a lot rougher than we expected; lots of rocks and ups and downs as we walked along a beautiful yet unforgiving ridge. It was also hot (in the 90s I think), and smoke from the wildfires didn’t help our lungs. On top of all this, most of us (but admittedly especially myself) underestimated the amount of water we would need for the hike, due to the factors I just listed.

I don’t want to get too dramatic, because I’m sure there are plenty of stories about “the longest hike ever,” but it was pretty intense. It got to the point where my pathetic dehydrated self just couldn’t walk any farther, and I had to stop on the side of the trail, with no idea how I was going to continue. I was even hallucinating by that point, thinking that different colored rocks and patches of moss were water. Fortunately, my stopping point ended up being only 1/4 mile from the campsite, and Nelson was able to save me by running back with water. I can’t really remember that part too much, but I think there was something about a snake hole.

The actual camping part wasn’t bad. We had some issues with the water filter pump, but Nelson had brought some water purification tablets from his Google-issued earthquake survival kit, so we were able to use those instead. It felt good to finally sit down and just have some soup. I don’t even know what kind it was; I think it probably had rice and stuff that I would normally never eat, but at the time it was delicious. We also had s’mores, which I always enjoy. Sleeping was uncomfortable as one would expect when camping (in our case hot and with limited padding), but I’m about to crawl into my own bed so that part is a fading memory.

The hike back was much better than the hike out. We all drank a lot before we got going, and I carried more than twice as much water with me than I had walking out. One of my water bottles was actually a wine bottle, so I’m sure people passing us on the trail got a kick out of that. Traumatized by the previous day’s hike, I took it extremely slow on the way back, and Nelson and Koklynn ended up beating the rest of us by about an hour. They are inhuman.

Special thanks to Reid for planning and Nelson for saving my life. I’m going to eat dinner in my pajamas now.

Nelson’s photos
Koklynn’s photos
It was longer than six miles.

*Diagnosed by some guy in a ski shop.

Please don’t flash the octopus

Sign reading: Please don\'t flash the octopus

Today, I went to Monterey with Koklynn, Robin, Tilek, and Reinoud. After driving 17-Mile Drive, we had lunch at Marlyn’s American Grill. Everyone else ordered burgers, but I was in the mood for chicken tenders. There were supposed to be five chicken strips on the plate and it came with fries, so I figured it would be a pretty solid lunch. They brought out the burgers, and as you can see they were of a good “American grill” size:

Tilek eating a burgerReinoud eating a burger

Then, the chicken tenders were placed in front of me. This is an actual photograph of my plate:

Very tiny chicken strips about the size of french fries.

I really didn’t know what to think. I thought back to the menu, and the item was listed right there with the burgers, not in an “appetizer” or “children’s menu” section. Then I even thought it might be a joke. But that’s what it was. Maybe the staff saw my reaction, or that I was taking pictures, because later into the meal a second plate showed up unannounced:

A plate of small chicken strips

Oh well, at least the fries were good.

After lunch, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Thanks to Nelson for hooking a couple of us up with free passes. No more words. Pictures here.


I told you I was going to write about something happy.

Tomorrow night, I will watch WALL•E, the new movie from Pixar. The movie isn’t going to be released in theaters until June 27th, so how am I going to see it? Well, I’m going straight to the source. I’ll be watching it in Pixar’s own digital theater at their headquarters in Emeryville. I’m really excited, and can’t imagine any better conditions for watching a movie. I’ve never been to a full res digital screening before.

I’ll be signing a confidentiality agreement, so don’t worry about seeing any spoilers about the movie or what goes on at Pixar’s campus on this blog.

Even though I haven’t seen it yet, I’m going to go ahead and recommend that you see this movie. You can watch the trailers and some fun vignettes here.


I’ve been living in California for over a year now, but I’m still getting used to it. Earlier this evening, while on a video chat with Ted, I felt event nc40204628. It was the longest earthquake I’ve ever experienced; I’m guessing the shaking lasted about 20 seconds. Of course with all other earthquakes I’ve felt, my first thought wasn’t that the cause of the motion was an earthquake. I’ve always blamed it on something else, like a quarry blast or someone else walking on a balcony, and then only realized later, after hearing from someone else, that it was actually an earthquake. This time, I thought my upstairs neighbors had dropped something or were jumping. It wasn’t until about 5-10 seconds into it that I realized what was actually going on. Of course my instincts aren’t really tuned to make me react, so after telling Ted I was in an earthquake, I stood up and looked at the doorway, which I was pretty sure I was supposed to go to. But I assumed that by that time it was almost over, and just waited it out for several more seconds. When I thought it had stopped, I sat down, but was surprised to feel myself still swaying. I had to confirm by watching the swinging blinds that the motion wasn’t just in my head. Tiffany had a similar experience, only she was watching swinging pots.

And, just so you know how easily I’ve slid back into blogging, my first thought after it was all over was, “This will make a great blog entry.”