June 1 Today feels like a Monday. Or rather, it should. Had only one class today: history. Our last lecture of the year, on the topic of radical Islamic movements, mainly in Egypt. All that I particularly remember is the irony of Anwar Sadat using the Muslim Brotherhood to eliminate Nasserists on the left, and then being assassinated by them, when he tries to change course. The tyrant killed by his own tools. In the evening, we had a history movie: "The Veiled Revolution." Our main question is whether Islamism in Egypt is allowing women a new voice, or simply constricting possibilities. Most people didn't buy the title of the film though.
June 2 Last day of classes. CS 103B finished making me a bit sad. When will I have another class which involves the use of snickers bars as projectile weapons? Ended our discussion of Turing machines, and did a bit of review. For history class, had our final discussion on Sayyid Qutb (Egyptian Islamist leader). The future of political Islam does indeed seem an open question, but Sayyid Qutb didn't do a particularly clear job of showing where he would direct it. For E14, we reviewed topics we'd covered. Not frightfully exciting. Afterwards, met with a history professor to discuss major plans. Looks like I now have both a major and an advisor, and I'm now officially declared. Yippeee! Spent rather too much time before and after dinner coming up with a plan for the next two years of school. It's called "The Great Leap Forward." My dad also dropped by to pick up some of my stuff to take home. The room is already beginning to be dismantled. Sigh.
June 3 Instead of "dead week" (week of no classes before finals) we have "dead day". Namely this one. So I have spent about 8 hours in various libraries studying various topics. With various degrees of success. I guess tomorrow will tell. The day's entertainment consisted of trying on clothes I borrowed from a friend downstairs. If I'm brave, I may wear them to the E14 final tomorrow, and post pictures. Oh, also had a flute lesson in the morning which went pretty nicely.
June 4 Finals, here I COME... CS 103B was first, at half past 8 in the morning. Was initially slightly worried that the questions were taking too long, but the later questions (worth more points) also seemed easier. Three cheers for simple Turing machines. Bottom line is I left the test early and happy. After that, had lunch, and did some studying for E14. Less happy about that class. I did manage to also pack a lot of my stuff to take home tonight, an odd way of procrastination, but quite successful. After dinner, dressed up in some borrowed clothes, and hurried off to the E14 final. My odd outfit did not excite comment (though there were more than a few raised eyebrows, I guess the skirt didn't match the shirt). Anyhow, I had fun, though the test probably didn't go too well. Afterwards, wandered the halls shocking people with my costume for a bit, before changing, and getting picked up by my dad to go home. End of long day somewhere past midnight.
June 5 Staying at home is nice. Trying to get started on my history paper. Topic is Egyptian nationalism and Arab high culture, and their intersection in Naguib Mahfouz's novel, Palace Walk. A good book. Reread a good portion of it today trying to dig up relevant bits for my paper. All this was interrupted by the preparations for, and celebration of my dad's birthday. It worked pretty well, and the pie was good. Felt very sleepy after, so went to bed early. Paper is still pretty skimpy though.
June 6 Woke up latish. Being at home tends to do this. The weather outside is quite nice, so writing my history paper is not that appealing at the moment. Nonetheless, got started writing in my usual ad hoc fashion. After a late lunch, went back to Stanford to celebrate dormmate Matt's birthday (the big 21). Went out with the rest of the housing draw group to Califoria Pizza Kitchen. Really wasn't that hungry. Afterwards, picked up the cake and candles and did the usual with that. Surprisingly, nobody was all that hungry for cake. Hope it won't go to waste. Continue working on my paper afterwards 'til past midnight. Judgment comes in 11 hours.
June 7 Involuntarily got up at 6AM to my alarm. Went downstairs to the computer cluster to work, but people were being really noisy, so I biked to Meyer library, and worked there on my paper for 2 hours. Returned to the dorm for breakfast, then back to work on the paper. Finally turned it in around 10AM. Noticed that all the flags were at half staff on the way back. Is Reagan really that important? Next order of business was finishing off the room. Clearing out the remaining oddments, delofting the bed, and so forth. Returned home in the afternoon and started packing for the camping trip planned to leave tomorrow. A good bit of work was required to dig up all the requisite equipment. Hopefully nothing important's missing though. Oh, and did I mention I'm now done with finals? Yippee...
June 8 And so I got up, put the finishing touches to the camping gear, and drove over to Stanford. A beautiful day outside, with the birds swimming, the fish shining and the sun singing, or something like that. Arrived a little late to a meeting with my CS professor, but fortunately so did he. Clarified a number of major-related questions.
Next, with my partner in crime, we went and picked up food for the camping trip. We rather overdid it, but hopefully nobody will be too unhappy with the edibles situation. After lunch, I did the last bits of room-cleaning, turned in my key, and after playing hide and seek with the other 2 campers (Ye and Katrin), we were off. Of course, we had to pick up gas and ice first, which slowed things a bit, but by 3PM, we were off.
Took 280 into San Francisco with almost no traffic, until we hit the Bay Bridge bottleneck. Took half an hour to get onto the bridge. After that, we made heavy use of the carpool lane (having 3 people in a car has its uses) continuing east on 80. We lost the carpool lane after the Carquinez bridge, so things slowed somewhat, but after getting onto 505 north, we saw no further traffic. Two hours later, we were on 5 going north near Red Bluff. Around half past 7, we left highway 5 on state route 36 east, heading directly for Lassen National Park.
We made it to the Southwest entrance campground just before sundown. It was empty. The sky was now ominously full of rainclouds, the temperature low and heading lower, and there were significant patches of snow everywhere. So doing the sane thing, we pitched the tent, took out the umbrella and the camp stove, and had soup for dinner amidst the start of a rainstorm. The soup made things somewhat better, so we finally went to bed around 11PM to the tune of rain thrumming on the tent's fly. End of day 1, Lassen camping trip.
June 9 Woke up at 6. It's cold. Very cold. Took a look outside. We're still the only ones at the campground. A good portion of last night's rain on the car froze. Still, started up the propane stove and heated some water for tea and hot chocolate. That made things a lot better. Everybody had a quick breakfast, and we'd decamped completely by 8.
Decided upon trying the Brokeoff Mountain trail. Which was fine, but I'd underestimated the snow. The trail disappeared early without a trace. Decided to try and just follow its course, since I had been there before, so along and up through the snow we went. It was a beautiful morning, mostly clear and very crisp. The snow was powdery and not too slushy either. To my astonishment, we recovered the trail about half a mile from where we lost it, and continued along. There were no human footprints to follow, but at one point we found some very large tracks in the snow. Guess we missed a bear. Continue on playing an exciting game of "find the trail" until we seemed to lose it for good in some massive snowbanks. Amazingly, this was right next to the lake that was our supposed goal: Forest Lake. Yay.
Stopped for snack and pictures before determining that it was too snowy to continue to Brokeoff mountain. Ah well, always must have stuff for next time. Descended rapidly, and reached the bottom just after 11. From there, decided to go to Manzanita Lake, which was hopefully more hospitable (being about 1,000 feet lower) at the north end of the park.
So we drove over the park road through the most amazing scenery for the next hour. Sulphurworks was still furiously working up a stench. Lake Helen was completely frozen over and covered in snow. The pass by Lassen Peak was surmounted on both sides by 12 foot snowbanks. It was unreal. Coming down the other side, we saw the north face of Lassen which looked like a nearly ideal ski run, completely white and seemingly quite smooth.
At Manzanita Lake we stopped, picked a campsite, and unpacked the car. We started lunch just as the weather had begun to drizzle. After lunch, the others took a nap and I headed off to try and hike up Manzanita Creek. It was a generally unremarkable hike, about 3 miles long and 1,000 feet up that ended when the trail, having hit snow near 6,500 feet, finally went into a snow-covered meadow and vanished for good. Got some good exercise though, and a few pictures.
We started preparing for dinner afterwards. The big problem was the fire. All the wood in the area was damp. So we made possible the smokiest fire I'd ever seen out of pine cones, pine needles, and twigs. We did however manage to cook (well, more like burn) sausages over the fire, and corn under the fire (in aluminum foil). So the meal was pretty good, but everything smelled of smoke afterwards. The others went off for a hot shower after we'd finished up, right about the time that the rain started coming down again. Boy did I get wet running to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Afterwards, we sat in the tent, played cards, and chatted 'til we fell asleep. It was still raining outside.
June 10 Up bright and early at 6PM. Went outside and it was anything but bright. Dense fog and about 20 feet visibility. Took a little walk before setting up for breakfast. Had the idea that hot apple juice would be a good way to wake up. Took awhile (why is the propane stove so slow?) but was worth it. Then everybody got up, and we decamped. General consensus was to go someplace warmer, with better weather. Hmm... So we headed south through the main park road. Lassen Peak was amazing in the morning sun. Definitely will bring crampons and sunglasses next time.
At the park's south entrance, we decided to end our stay in Lassen, and head south into the national forest, hoping for more auspicious weather and climate. So drove down 89 to Chester on Lake Almanor to pick up gas. From Chester, we continue on 89 for a ways. We passed through a large number of small, somewhat historic Sierra towns as the road alternated between narrow river canyons and wide open meadows. I made a disastrous detour to find Indian Falls that scraped up the car's bottom and nearly got us stuck, but otherwise, all went well. Probably the nicest of the old towns was Quincy which we passed just after noon.
We had lunch a bit past Quincy, just beside the road overlooking a cow pasture and meadow. The whole situations reminded me greatly of Switzerland. It was actually uncomfortably sunna for a bit, which was a welcome change from the previous two days. After lunch we continued down 89. Of course, our criteria for stopping was sufficiently vague that we soon ended up within 60 miles of Lake Tahoe, at which point I suggested we simply go there for the night. No objections, so on we went.
I goofed near Truckee, so we took 267 (and not 89) to King's Beach, but otherwise it was a pleasant drive, and we stopped by the lake to have a look and stretch our legs. I was hoping we could camp at D.L. Bliss State Park (where I camped on my first trip to Tahoe, many moons ago). Unfortunately, it was closed (I found out later, due to budget cuts). So we ended up at Meeks Bay, within earshot of the lake.
Rather than risking another disastrously unsuccessful fire, we bought wood before starting dinner. We cooked sausages over the fire like last night, though they turned out somewhat less burnt. Then somebody had the bright idea of warming the tomato sauce on the grill, so we transferred a burning log from the fire to the grill. It ended up being a slow proposition, because we also tried boiling water for spaghetti on the fire. After probably an hour, we finally got the spaghetti (and tomato sauce) ready, and concluded our dinner. Spaghetti was actually good, but the pots look a little blacker for the experience. Then we had a walk down to the lake, but couldn't go far because of the private properties in both directions, and called it a night.
June 11 Woke up at 6:45, not at 6, despite the cold night. Tent and table are covered with frost. Slowly set about heating up apple juice for breakfast (poor man's cider, missing cinnamon and other things). At length, we all got up, made a small fire, with surprisingly little trouble, and had ourselves breakfast. Propane stove took forever to boil water, which makes me think the cannister is in the empty area. Then we decamped, and sometime around 9ish, were ready to go.
We'd decided to try to go to Twin Peaks, notable for a failed attempt to hike there, about 7 years ago with my dad. We don't have a detailed Tahoe map, so the whole thing is done by guesswork. First, finding the trailhead takes a while, since I don't remember the road name. Turns out its Barker Pass Road from near Tahoma. Then the road became dirt, so we assumed we'd reached the end. No Twin Peaks, but a trailhead for Ellis Peak. Okay, we decide to give that a try. No dice. Up about 200 feet, the trail completely vanishes into the snow. No blazes, no footprints, no nothing. Nice view though. We return to the car, continue on the dirt road, and find what purports to be the Twin Peaks trailhead.
It's not a whole lot like I remember it. Of course, 5-10 years can do a lot. Anyhow, we head out. Meet a few people shortly who claim that Twin Peaks is 10 miles away. Great. Not quite believing we continue. Of course, we hit snow again. This time there are footprints (still no blazes, funny for a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail). After a good bit, we've had enough with the snow. It's too slippery, and I'm the only one with a walking stick. So we decide upon eating lunch at the nearest scenic vista, about 200 feet up the hill.
Scenic it was. We have a grand overlook of the mountains west of the Tahoe rim. After lunch, we walk over about 100 feet and have a similarly grand vista of the lake itself. Very nice. So we head back. Instead of following the trail, we follow the ridge (and religiously avoid the snow). Which works wonderfully. Descending rock and dirt sure beats descending snow. Arrive back at the car before 3PM.
Interest was expressed in a beach, so we went to the only beach I remembered well, that by Emerald Bay. Which is quite a nice beach. It's also a half hour walk from the road. Oh well, guess it's a good way to break in flipflops. Sat on the beach and relaxed for a while in the sun. Harassed the geese, skipped stones in the lake, ate fruit, and generally had a good time.
We left around 5PM, headed south on 89 to 50, and took 50 west. It was a relatively quick passage. We were in Sacramento by 7PM, and made it into Stanford at a quarter past 9. Car was unloaded quickly, everybody went to check their grades (which didn't really improve anybody's mood), we said our goodbyes, and I drove home. Got home about 10:30PM, ate dinner, and collapsed. Hey, it was a long day.
June 12 What a difference 10 hours of sleep makes. Or in this case, 10 hours of sleep uninterrupted by coughing. Not that I'm suddenly over my cold, but I definitely feel like twice the person I was on the trip. And no, I'm not speaking about weight, at least I think I'm not. Since all my stuff from the dorm is now scattered on the floor of my room, as well as all the stuff from camping, today was an organizational day. Hey, organization can be hard work! Clearing space on the bookshelves was probably the toughest part. Recycling bin is helping a lot. Also aired out the tent and associate sordid items. Hopefully they're dryer, and smell a bit less of smoke. Otherwise, haven't got anything to show for the day save a mostly cleared floor. Did I mention I have too much stuff?
June 13 It's a gorgeous day outside again. So off with my dad for a morning hike up Montara mountain. Thankfully there's a nice sea breeze to keep things from feeling too much like an oven climbing up. Views of the ocean were quite nice, though a bit hazy. From the top, had a nice though obscured view of the peninsula. Ate lunch up top (more bread and cheese? yup) before returning. Finished off my roll of film, so all the camping trip pictures can be developed at once. Hopefully the "pictures on CD" option will give us more than .5MB JPEGs this time. At home, spent the afternoon continuing my cleanup efforts up until dinner. The floor is now, barring a few items for Goodwill, clear. Yay! My Palestinian flag is also currently featuring as a tablecloth, at least until I find a suitable flagpole. Makes for an exciting table though. Oh, and kudos to new advisor in the history department and my CS 103B professor from this quarter. Both responded to my e-mails sent out yesterday already. Even though its the weekend!
June 14 The cold I've had since the beginning of the Lassen camping trip has improved. Unfortunately the cough component has not. Had a quick breakfast and loaded up the car with books to donate to Goodwill. Finally. Some have been sitting in the middle room for ages. Got rid of those. Then went to Stanford where I bought textbooks, paid bills, and went out to lunch with friends and friend's parents. The company was pretty good. Next, loaded up the car with more boxes of stuff I'm keeping for my friends over the summer and headed home. Did this and that for a while before heading off to Monday night bowling with friends. Didn't bowl that well, but did have a good bit of fun. Trying to think up good company names. I think "Necromancy Solutions: we have thousands of years of experience" is a pretty good one.
June 15 Worked on quite a plethora of little things today. First, there was this journal, a little behind. I also began transcription of my journals from last summer in Switzerland. They're loooong. Next, I upgraded my server (the machine running this page) to RedHat 9. It had been running a mixture of RedHat 7.3 and 8, and I was getting a bit annoyed. Also figured out how to enable my extra e-mail accounts with pacbell.net. About time, since my main one had all of 2,500 pieces of spam in the last month alone. Ouch. Finally, with some assistance I got wireless up and working at home. Rather a pity the antenna on the laptop is so poor. But I can surf wirelessly from my room, if only from certain tables. Nose is still running quite heavily. Ugh.
June 16 Woke up this morning and wireless was down. Discovered that we'd lost power overnight and the server was looking rather said, complaining fsck had failed. Ran fsck manually, and then for good measure, upgraded the kernel to 2.4.20 (from 2.2.14) and Apache to 2.0.40. Hopefully no more need for upgrades in a while. Power outage cost me my 120 day uptime though, so I'm kinda sad. Practiced some flute in the afternoon, before going over the hill to my flute lesson. Dropped by Goodwill to dispose of more old toys. Hopefully we're finally empty of them. Afterwards, came home for dinner before heading out with friends up to the city to see Monty Python's Life of Brian. "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy." Good movie, the humor is for the most part timeless.
June 17 Undecided upon the day's course of action. Weather is foggy, and I'm still sick, but what the heck, why not a hike. Wandered over to Stanford, met a friend, and eventually, in the afternoon, ended up at Butano State Park. I had no idea that driving up Page Mill, along Skyline, and down 84 and Pescadero Road would take so long. Good for brushing up on driving though. For the hike, took the loop around the edge of the park (via Butano Fire Road and Olmo Fire Trail). More or less the same route taken about a year back with my dad. This time though, it was quite cloudy, and we had no goat cheese. Fun walk though. On the way back to Stanford, stopped at one of the dozens of fruit 'n vegetable stands that populate the coast and got some corn and peas at prices that made Safeway look quite extravagant. Then spent most of the evening preparing the kit of gear for the weekend's camping. Long day. Yawn.
June 18 Up early to load the car. Miraculously all the gear fits. Unusually, my dad took the day of work, so we left around 9AM. Drove straight up 92, across the bay, and onto 580. Traffic was pleasantly light, though 580 was still pretty packed for 11AM in the morning. Hopped onto 120 once we reached the valley, and continued across, and finally up to the Yosemite entrance. Drive to the entrance took only about four hours. Of course, at the park entrance, we were told that most if not all of the campgrounds were full. Very nice. Took the road down to the valley nonetheless. They helpfully had chosen the day to resurface the road though, so we spent a good half hour waiting. Lots of people go to Yosemite during the summer apparently.
Despite the disquieting "Campground Full" sign at Camp 4, the walk-in campground mostly populated by rock-climbers, there was space. So we took it. Soon realized that we were being put with two other groups on one site (they pack it 6 people to a site). Not certain if I like that. Set up the tent first, before wandering off to the river for lunch. It was one of those magical lazy afternoons on the Merced River, with inflatable rafts splashing by every few minutes. Kids were jumping from the bridge to dive into the river. Quite pleasant.
We decided afterwards to do a walk to Mirror Lake. This proved a lot longer than planned, and after stops at the visitor's center to buy a map, and various other detours, we didn't make it to the lake until 7PM or so. The sun was getting low, and the mosquitos were out in full force. This made things pretty uncomfortable, and it only got darker during the 5 mile return journey. A bit more hiking than intended. For dinner, we intended to have soup. But the propane cannister ran out, so we had to replace it. All good and well, save that the replacement leaked a lot of propane next to the candles, and before we knew what happened, there was a huge burst of flame. Fortunately, the cannister didn't leak any more, but that was enough excitement for one night. After dinner, we basically collapsed in the tent, oblivious of the neighbors (and their 20 or so guests) whose campfire and conversation were scarcely 5 feet from the tent.
June 19 The plan calls for some hiking today. So up at 7AM, and a quick preparation for our first-ever trip to Glacier Point. Every other time we've been in Yosemite the trail there has been closed. On the way to the foot of the trail, we saw a good many hang gliders floating above us. Flying definitely looks like fun on a sunny, crisp Saturday morning. Our trail however led us up a series of rather steep switchbacks gradually working our way up the valley wall. Thankfully we were in the shade, so the climb was not too hot, but it was still plenty.
Around 10:30 we paused for breakfast. There were some very impertinent blue jays who watched the whole time. We continued not long after and reached the top of the valley wall just before noon. The 3,000 foot view down on the valley was impressive, as were the throngs of tourists crowded onto Glacier Point. We had our look and took pictures of course. Most impressive perhaps was the view of Yosemite's high country, beyond Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, which were also quite visible.
From there we took the Panorama trail. This meant we wound around the valley, descending to Illilouette Creek (right about the falls) and then ascending to Panorama Point, finally descending to Nevada Falls at the tip of Little Yosemite Valley. The day was at the point clear and very hot, and the 5 miles from Glacier Point were quite exhausting. At Nevada Falls we rested by the river and had lunch. Toward the end of launch, there was a very loud helicopter noise that didn't go away. Sure enough, a few minutes later, a helicopter landed on the rocks just about the falls and disgorged a bunch of paramedics. Apparently rescuing an injured hiker. Not every day you see a helicopter land on the edge of a cliff though!
Going down from Nevada Falls to Happy Isles was both crowded and slightly painful. Just about everybody was on the trail, so the going was slow, and the feet, after 9 miles, were a wee bit sore. Still, we made it to the bottom around 7PM, and succeeded in flagging down a passing shuttle bus. Stopped at the store to pick up lemonade (amazingly all they had was Odwalla and Minute Maid) for the next day's trail hydration. Next, stopped at the Yosemite Lodge, for a presentation on the history of rock climbing in the area. Interesting topic, but I was quite tired. Didn't finish until nearly 10PM. Had a quick dinner afterward, and went straight to bed.
June 20 Today began rather early. Up before 7AM, and off to the bus stop with breakfast. We ate breakfast on the bus while listening to the bus driver tell stories about mountain lions. Which was okay, except that the bus was quite slow, and so we didn't make it to the Happy Isles trailhead until 7:45. Mission for the day is to climb Half Dome.
The trail to the Vernal Falls footbridge was quite cool, still being in the shade, as was most of the path to Nevada Falls. A person with horses passed us at one point, but we otherwise saw no one. At Nevada Falls we paused, had a snack, drank a lot of water (we'd brought the filter along) and then proceeded.
We left Nevada Fall around 9:45, and continued steadily up along the Merced River, passing the Little Yosemite campground. The trail then turned in and up, ascending in broad switchbacks under a forest of pines. I paused when I saw what looked like a mountain sheep. Instead, it turned out to be a curious young bear, with yellowish fur, who sniffed around us a bit before loping off.
The trail from Little Yosemite to the ridge below Half Dome ascends a good 1,800 feet, so it took us a fair bit of time and sweat before we could stop for a break at a place with a view. Still, around noon we paused at the edge of Tenaya gorge. The sun was becoming rather unpleasant. We disposed of more of our water (no water above the valley floor) and rested for a bit.
We shortly reached the place where Ye and I had been on my previous trip to Yosemite some 2 months back. No snow this time around, but the trail consisted of very steep stone steps switchbacking up a mountain that was little more than an enormous boulder. After another 300 feet up, the trail disappeared entirely, and we were left to scramble up the rock directly. Finally, we crested the hillock, and coming down a bit reached the bottom of the cables.
The cables actually looked a lot worse than they are. So we left most of our stuff aside from lunch and cameras, before starting up them. If you have good shoes, the cables basically give you something to hold on so you don't fall, but your shoes (and legs) do the real work. It did become very steep for one section, so we were effectively hauling ourselves up by the cables, but that was short. Anyhow, you couldn't go any faster than the guy in front. Gloves helped a lot too.
The top came suddenly. Suddenly we could see in almost every direction (the only obstruction was the massive dome itself). We climbed to the highest point and perched on a ledge right below it, feet dangling 5,000 feet above Mirror Lake and Tenaya Canyon. The views were stupendous (hope my pictures turn out). It was about 1:30PM.
We had a rather long lunch, took a lot of pictures, and slowly prepared to head back. The cables were harder to go down than up (boots had less friction on the rock), but soon we were scrambling over the rocky hillock which had no trail. We picked up the stuff we'd left, and after some reassembly continued along, occasionally pausing to take pictures.
It took about 2 hours to get back down to the top of Nevada Falls where we had a short break. From there, we continued, taking another 2 hours or so to reach the trailhead. By the end, feet were very sore, although muscles were for the most part okay. And as always, the knees take the beating going down.
We finally reached the trailhead at 8:30PM, with the sun in the process of setting, more than 12 hours after leaving. We hopped on the shuttle bus then, and headed back to the campground for dinner. Since we were out of soup, we had to make due with beans, bread and cheese. We went to bed rather quickly, but were woken up by the noisy neighbors surrounding their campfire around midnight. My dad had to go out twice and complain before they stopped shouting. One drunk girl even shined a flashlight on the tent asking, "Is there actually anyone in there." For the record, I changed my position on gun control briefly during the night.
June 21 Feeling somewhat sore from yesterday. Got up not so very early and had breakfast. The ice chest that was so full when we arrived in Yosemite is quite nearly empty. Then we set about packing, first in the tent, then outside it. Managed to stuff everything into the car and left around 10AM. Bye-bye, Camp 4! Attempted to find a pay-phone to call and cancel my doctor's appointment tomorrow. Found many phones, but none seemed capable of calling information for the 650 area code. While in the gift-shop, ran into somebody who at first glance was my former girlfriend. Since a glance is all I got, I'm still not sure if it was or wasn't.
We made a brief visit to Bridalveil Falls on the way out of the park. Alas, the falls have shrunk quite a bit since I last visited in April. You can no longer take a shower just by standing at the foot, since most of the water fall just dissolves into mist on the way down. From there, we drove down highway 41 to Wawona, and from Wawona continued out to Oakhurst. There we turned onto the first of a winding series of county roads (with inspiring names like "Avenue 29" and "Road 605") and proceeded to traverse the rolling foothills for quite awhile before landing on the straight and flat, near Chowchilla.
From Chowchilla, we came along 152 West. We stopped at a fruit stand, but discovered the only really fresh thing they had was a watermelon. So we got it. A bargain at $4 a piece. Stopped in Los Banos for lunch. My cell-phone proved its worth, by finally letting me call information and resolve the appointment. Then we continued along, climbing up the Pacheco Pass and down to Gilroy. Gilroy has changed since last we visited it, and not at all for the better. More tract housing and less farms seems to be the gist of it.
From Gilroy, we continue on 152, up the winding route to the Hecker Pass, and then down toward Watsonville. We took what was supposed to be a shortcut and wound up driving through Freedom instead. Freedom is a town very much under construction. I think however that in twenty year, it'll wish it hadn't been. Lots of ugly buildings in the making. We joined highway 1 shortly thereafter, and headed up the coast. Just past Davenport, we stopped at a beach where para-surfers were having a field day. It was amazing how they manage to maneuever. And not once did the string on different people's parachutes tangle together.
The last stretch coming home was of course foggy, despite the beautiful weather Santa Cruz and much of the coast had been enjoying. We got home around 7PM. Then we spent a good chunk of the evening unloading the car and putting all its objects in their proper places. We brought back a surprising amount of food too! Finally, went to sleep. Tomorrow's another long day. Hopefully not quite so long though.
June 22 First day of the Summer Quarter. Which unfortunately means I now have to get up early. That's because my first class (Stats 116) meets 9AM, every day. That's the earliest I've had class since Winter quarter of Freshman year. Parked in a hopefully inconspicuous spot (since I have no parking permit). Was almost late to Stats, because I had to walk to Wilbur to fetch my bike. Professor was somewhat difficult to understand because he tended to speak quietly, and I was in the back. Hopefully that can be fixed. He also didn't seem frightfully organized. Oh well... Afterwards, went and paid my university bill, bought the books required for my history class (Mao's Cultural Revolution), picked up the mail and various other errands. Met a bunch of friends for lunch at the Thai cafe in the basement of the Psychology building. We found a nice table to sit at outside, and I had the opportunity to catch up on all the stuff I'd missed since the previous week (not an enormous amount) plus seeing folks I hadn't in a while. After lunch, the history class met. So far there are only 7 of us in it. We were given a brief course description and a 2 hour movie, "The Morning Sun", on the Cultural Revolution. Looks to be a fun course. I'm due to present the readings next week, so I'd better get on the ball. Afterwards, visited a friend in his new residence and picked up the last of the things my roommate wanted my to take care of over the summer. Then home for dinner and sleep. I'm feeling really tired. Hope the rest of the quarter is as exciting as today was!
June 23 Began with Stats class. I sat in the front, so I didn't have as much trouble hearing the professor. CS 143 (Compilers) was next, and the first lecture went pretty smoothly, though I was surprised how small the class was. The professor seems clear though, which is good, and we even had a little computing history thrown in, which was kinda fun. I asked after class how many man-years it would take to write a C99 compiler these days. She basically said that I'd be able to do it by the end of the class, and it wouldn't take all that long. We'll see. Lunch was over at Clark Center with 3 of the folks who'd shown up yesterday. Worked pretty well. Lunch with friends is always eminently better than lunch alone. After lunch, wanted to practice flute, but the practice rooms were all full of cello players. Weird. Headed off to my flute lesson then, which went pretty well. Then came home, and true to form, didn't do much. Did a bit more room cleanup, and put away some of the camping stuff, but that's about it.
June 24 Somewhat unremarkable day. Basically sat in the library doing Stats homework. At lunch, did decide to go see Farenheit 9/11 though. Now a question of when and with whom. Organization isn't really my forte... Had the ill-conceived notion to try and do homework sitting outside, but that degenerated rather rapidly into day-dreaming and distractions. Summer just makes concentration difficult. After my dad picked me up, we went to the usual laundromat in Menlo Park to take care of the clothes (washing machine at home is still not really functional). Also visited Trader Joe's to resupply since the camping trip. Bad idea to shop for food before dinner, I think. It was late, so we ended up having dinner at Applewood Inn. Hadn't been there in ages. Hadn't had pizza in a while either, so it was a good visit.
June 25 Only Stats class today. In this case, a problem session, which covered, unhelpfully, most of the problems I'd already reviewed. Somebody did however succeed in confusing the T.A. with a problem that didn't work out. We figured out after class how to do it though. Then I basically spent all afternoon doing the homework. Exceedingly unexciting. Oh yeah, and the 4 of us had lunch at Tresidder too. It seems like these arranged lunches are becoming routine (despite the fact that nobody every answers my e-mails). At my dad's urging, we went to see "Around the World in 80 Days" at the Stanford Theater. This is the original we're talking about, not the remake. It was quite a fun movie. Pretty long too though. How they made Shirley Maclaine look Indian I'll never quite know, but it mostly worked. In many cases, old things really are best, and the same is certainly true of films.
June 26 Spent pretty much all day working on statistics and history. For history, we're reading the novel Family by Pa Chin. Pa Chin really excoriates the traditional family model (this was written in 1931) as nothing less than the older generation cannibalizing the younger generation to maintain itself. A somewhat melodramatic novel, but nonetheless a good one. As might be guessed, I identify most with Chueh-hui, the impulsive, idealistic, revolutionary-minded youngest brother. The other readings for the week are a series of pieces Mao wrote following an incident when a young bride committed suicide to avoid an arranged marriage. The pieces were all written before Mao was a Marxist, and it is most ironic to compare his exaltation of personal liberty in those days, with his later behavior. Oh, and I spent a lot of time on combinatorics. Ugh.
June 27 The idea was to climb Montara mountain this morning, but by an alternate route. We know the route exists, because we can see it from the top. We just don't know where it starts. Accordingly, spent a while doing a traverse of the old fire-road looking for potential trails. The logical route, along the creek, was well blocked-off with "No Trespassing signs." We found something on the hillside above this, but it just kinda vanishes into a lot of poison oak, so after a bit going up it, we headed back. Taking the (new) fire-road, we were similarly frustrated in finding the trail entrance. However, where the old and new fire-roads meet, we finally found what was probably the trail-head. Bad news: it was completely overgrown about 500 feet down. So we gave up and continued along the normal route. It got pretty hot. Reached the top around a quarter past 1. The view of the bay was very hazy. Had a brief break, and then went right back down again (minus the morning's detours).
Dropped by Safeway afterwards to get food, and had a quick lunch. Since I wasn't able to convince friends from the area to join, drove over the hill (direction Stanford) alone. At the last minute, they (other friends) decided to meet at the movie theater. So I got there, asked politely for a ticket to Farenheit 9/11, and learned they were sold out for the next 3 hours. Problem. Especially since 6 of us have no tickets, and one has tickets to the 7PM show. Decided to split. I got a ticket to the 9PM show, and just sort of walked in to the 7PM one with the other guy. No questions asked. Everybody else went off to see it later. I actually enjoyed the show quite a bit. I do think Moore missed the point of the war: Israel and American nationalism (I agree fully with Avi Shlaim). But his narrative was entertaining and his analysis of the war's impact: who pays and who doesn't, was quite compelling. Fun movie: You should go see it!
June 28 Busy morning. Stats class. CS lecture (on flex and regular expressions). Lunch at the Thai Cafe with friends (some of who didn't show up, you know who you are!). Ran into a number of folks I hadn't seen in quite a while at lunch. Looks like everybody and their dog is doing research. Except me (and John). Unusual to have three commuting students at one table though. Met with my history professor after that to discuss tomorrow's presentation. Learned a bit, but it looks like the presentation is a kinda ad hoc affair, so there's no prescribed format or formula. I hate open-ended projects though! Evening was largely spent trying to finalize on what and how I was going to present. Settled on the summary followed by analysis (sorta) method.
June 29 I'm somewhat worried about the history presentation today. Still, after stats, I spent about an hour thinking and an hour typing, resulting in 3, reasonably coherent pages that analyze the week's reading. Now do I just read them, or actually try to do somethinf off-the-cuff? Oh well. Lunch meeting was at the Clark Center, and everybody is as usual quite busy with their research. Except for me. Got together with my presentation partner before class, and we reviewed. I feel a bit better, because I think our stuff actually fits well together. The classroom had also been covered with Lyndon LaRouche propaganda, which I took the opportunity to recycle. LaRouche is a shady enough character that he makes Dubya seem straightforward by comparison (by way of comparison, I have no idea where LaRouche stands on most issues, and that's not for lack of trying to find out!). History class went well. Our discussion of the May 4th movement yielded (I thought) quite a number of insights. The rest of the day was, by way of comparison, somewhat dull. In other new Farenheit 9/11 apparently is doing rather well ($24 million over the whole weekend), and, in a Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker, Israel is trying to stir Iraqi Kurds to rebel against the new Iraqi government. I'd call that somewhat ungrateful, since we made the new government expressly to help them out.
June 30 Drove myself this morning, and parked by Lake Lag (just like last Wednesday, no tickets please?). Turned in my stats homework, and heard all about conditional probability. CS lecture ended up being about grammars (particularly CFGs) which thanks to CS 103B, I understand slightly. Left-factoring and removal of left-recursion still aren't all that clear to me though. Went to "Bytes" for lunch. It's a little cafe in the Packard EE building. As Ben said, "This place is really yuppie." Point taken. However, I brought food from home as usual, so the yuppiness wasn't fully appreciated. After lunch, practiced flute in the practice rooms in Braun (no mean feat since I don't have a key) before leaving in the nick of time for my flute lesson. Which went well. My fingers are (slowly) recovering their dexterity. Should do wonders if and when I actually play the Prokofiev. Picked up my photos from Yosemite on the way home. They were washed out, as usual. I begin to suspect the processing at this point, since many of them I used the setting my dad used. Had dinner at home and managed to use up most of the milk in the process (guess this bottle won't have a chance to go bad). Work on my lexer (for CS) continues, but I've hit a very annoying bug where entries in the symbol table are changing behind my back. Argh!