September 1 Had a flute lesson in the afternoon, so the morning was spent busily practicing. Drove over the hill with a load of stuff for Goodwill. After my lesson, dropped the stuff off. Picked up 'Matrix Reloaded' DVD. After watching the original, I'm suddenly interested in it again. Came back home and watched various bits of it. Began researching tires for the car, since I don't want to drive on the spare forever.
September 2 Finally got around to replacing the tires. First spent all morning calling various places that sell tires. Settled on Wheelworks which appears to be a bit cheaper and nearer than the other places. Still shocked that nowhere can you get good (brand) tires for under $70 a piece. Stopped by the dump on the way over the hill to drop off the junk that's been sitting in front of the garage for almost a week. Left the car at Wheelworks in San Mateo. I was planning to sit in the sun and read for a few hours, but a friend was in the area, so he picked me up, and we went off to the south bay. Visited the Weird Hardware Warehouse where I picked up a 10/100 ethernet card for $3. Had lunch at an Indian restaurant before going back to San Mateo. Dropped by Boarders Books as well, but I was tired, so I went home and packed. Also managed to get RedHat Fedora Core 2 installed on our old HP Vectra. Don't know quite what I'll do with it, but...
September 3 Off to New York. Had to get up reasonably early. Finished off the usual packing, and then drove off to HP. The cab to the airport was late, because the guy was waiting for us in front of the wrong building. Oh well. Got to the airport with only about an hour 'til lift-off. The security line was quite long, but we miraculously made it through and boarded the flight on-time.
I had big plans for the flight, but after an hour of reviewing math stuff, and lunch (which to our surprise was included, though it was a bit skimpy), they put on the movie, which was Harry Potter (3). I hadn't seen it, so I watched. A decent movie, and to my amazement, it left me only an hour afterwards to read, before we landed in JFK. Not nearly as dull a flight as I'd feared.
We met my grandparents at the airport, and after a bit of a wait to pick up luggage, drove off to their house in Hartsdale. Felt right at home, since aside from home in Half Moon Bay, I've spent more time there than anywhere else (not a year has gone by that I haven't been there at least once in at least 15 years). We had a late dinner, chattered (mainly of politics) and called it a day. Jet lag wasn't too bad.
September 4 Woke up at 10:30AM local time. Late, but still acceptable. We had a nice breakfast, and I did some flute practice (for the first time in a bit). Had generally a quiet time of it. In the afternoon, we drove off to Croton Point for a walk. It was a bit hot, and toward the end there were plenty of mosquitos, but it was otherwise quite pleasant, walking through the tree by the Hudson River. In one area we even found a fair number of people camping (most were flying Puerto Rican flags, FWIW). Took some pictures of Croton harbor, which looked very appealing in the low afternoon sun. Ended the day with a quiet dinner, and an attempt to straighten out Grandma's computer.
September 5 Grandma thought today would be a good day to see the city. It was a bit cloud, but we made it down. We miraculously found parking not too far from Central Park. Then we walked south. First we followed the jogging route by Croton Reservoir. After that we passed an imported obelisk (I assumed it was a replica, but it was in such bad shape in some parts, that it must have been an original). We had lunch by a little pond where people were playing with RC sailboats (and other boats). It looked like fun, and despite controlling only the angle of the sail, they were doing impressive things with the boats (the wind was helpful too). What happens if it gets too calm though?
Beyond the sailboat pond was a much larger pond. On that pond were a bunch of ducks, and a number of row boats. Not being ducks, we rented a rowboat. I had first chance at the oars, and despite not having rowed in at least 3 years, I didn't hit anybody or capsize. The lake was actually quite bit, so we all took a turn at the oars, including Grandma. The views of New York in the afternoon sun were also quite something, made even more dramatic by some large clouds looming above the horizon.
After the rowing, we drove back to Hartsdale, and had dinner. We were going to see a movie afterward, but instead just talked and read. I've brought 6 books along, and 5 of them are completely unread, so I'm not doing too well so far.
September 6 Today was a full day of visitors. After breakfast, I read for a bit. We went off on a walk in the neighborhood, passing the local school, among other places. It was rather hot though. When we returned, my father's cousins had arrived along with their 12 year-old soon (who in times past I'd been able to carry). Lunch proved both involved, and lengthy, with more relatives and friends showing up during the course of things. I think we numbered 12 at the peak. At any event, politics was by far the dominant topic, and there was no escape (though I like politics, I prefer not to have it every single meal).
After lunch, we continued talking, and eventually people said their goodbyes. Hardly had we cleared the table, when a pair of my grandma's friends dropped by. I found the smaller group a bit easier to deal with though, and may have even come close to winning an argument or two. Favorite line of the night came from my grandfather: "I don't care who runs so long as they beat Bush. I'd even vote for Khrushchev." Sadly enough, it looks like the chances of running either Nikita (deceased) or his son (not a natural born citizen) are a bit slim. Too bad, since I'd like to see Bush out-macho the Soviets. We also got tips on where to hike, which we'll hopefully use if we get the chance.
September 7 It rained today. A lot. The net result was that we didn't do a whole lot. I did get to see a little tennis (U.S. Open) which was good. At what was matchpoint in one match (Juan Carlos Ferrero vs. Olivier Rochus), I commented that this would be a bad time for a double fault. So Ferrero did just that, and lost the match to a man almost a foot shorter. Good to see size wasn't everything.
Watching Mary Pierce beat Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova was less exciting, and at length we headed out and I got my long awaited haircut (I always get a haircut when I go to New York). I feel lighter now. The evening was pretty quiet though.
After dinner, we saw the Marx Brother comedy, Duck Soup. Very fun, and as my grandmother noted, not the sort of movie that they make these days. A pity, I'd say, given the junk they produce that does pass as cinema.
September 8 Intended to spend the day in the city. This we did (more or less). Following breakfast, we were dropped off at the White Plains train station. We took the express train up to Grand Central Station. With a bit of difficulty, we navigated ourself to the New York Public Library (main branch). After the usual wait for papa to take pictures, we got lunch at a little stand and sat in the park behind the library.
I remembered from a previous visit that there was a music store in that area, so after asking around a bit, we found ourselves at Patelson's Music (7th Ave. and 56th street for the curious). They have a good-sized collection, so I picked up a couple of fun pieces, 2 of which I'd had photocopies of but had been lost previously. Hopefully won't get lost this time around.
We continued to Central Park, and walked up through the park, stopping frequently, to the Croton Reservoir. We then walked back to Grand Central Station. En route, we passed the boat pond and saw a good portion of New York's nannies out with their charges for an afternoon walk. Also dropped into a rather impressive church (I forget the name) on 5th Ave. All it took was 2 steps to get from the busy world to a place of (at least moderate) peace.
Returned to Hartsdale via train. Had a dinner afterwards, followed by watching the movie "High Noon." Despite being both a western, and allegedly the most watched movie in the White House (over all presidents) it was surprisingly good. The basic implications, that people are unwilling to fight for what they believe in, unless they have no choice, is somewhat amusing given officialdom's appreciation.
September 9 Being in New York, it's only appropriate to visit one of the largest photo stores in the country. Which we did. After breakfast and the usual preparations, we went down to Manhattan's West Side. Parked in a lot at the cost of the gross national debt, or something like that. The store itself wasn't quite as large as I thought, but it was jam packed with equipment, salespeople and customers. Most of the salespeople wore the attire of Orthodox Jews, so the place had a certain unusual flavor as well.
We also went by New York's central post office, which is quite a building (larger than a few malls I know). Nice though. We drove up Riverside Drive as well, stopping at what we thought was Grant's Tomb (it wasn't, it was a monument to Union soldiers). Then we headed over to New Jersey for a visit to relatives. We had an interesting dinner with my cousin and aunt in NJ, where I learned a good deal about the state of the real world (outside my Stanford bubble).
After dinner, we went down to Newark for a concert. The roads were in pretty bad shape (so was a lot of Newark), but we managed to park and get in on time (a virtual miracle). We were in the top balcony. The program consisted of Brahms' Hungarian Dances, Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D, and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. Good music all, thanks to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, with a bird's eye view of everything. The Firebird was especially exciting, and as I've played one Stravinsky orchestral piece, I can only imagine it was extremely challenging music as well. Returned to NY afterwards without incident.
September 10 Since Grandma wants to go down to a series of physics talks down at NYU today, we decided to go on a hike one of her friends had recommended. It took a while to get breakfast and other stuff out of the way, so we didn't leave until around noon. We drove up through Westchester, eventually landing on route 9 near Ossining. Stopped in Peekskill for gas and (drinking) water, and then continued up, eventually landing a couple miles north of Cold Harbor on the Hudson.
The trail had been promised to be both scenic and strenuous. And so it was. There wasn't a trail so much as a steep series of crevices and boulders with occasional markings as to which way to go. It was hot going too, but we had a constant view of the Hudson. There were a couple of good viewpoints, but it took us almost 2 hours to reach the top of the ridge (trail was appropriately named Breakneck Ridge). Whew!
On top, there was less hand-over-hand boulder climbing, but less view as well. It was quite green, sunny (out of the shade), and more than a little wet from previous rains. After a good bit, we took a side trail to begin our return. Although descending, the side-trail fortunately was not simply a collection of steep angled rock, and so reasonable to scramble down. We had a quick lunch, then continued on down, reaching the bottom around half past 4.
On the way back we stopped in Cold Harbor where we saw a wedding in progress, and visited the pier and train station. A pleasant little town. In Peekskill we also stopped, and saw a women flying kites at the riverfront (the kites were at least 60 feet in the air, and more or less sustaining themselves). The rest of the return was along route 9, and was somewhat slowed courtesy of the evening commute traffic. We got back in Hartsdale past 7, and had dinner. Grandpa chose the "Petrified Forest" as the evening's movie. It was an interesting, though on occasion overdone, combination of philosophy and romance. I can see why it made Lesley Howard popular though.
September 11 We more or less ignored today's status as a "special" day. Up for the usual combination of breakfast, flute practice, and the newspapers. U.S. Open had their women's final, but I didn't get a chance to watch. We headed down to the city shortly after noon. Stopped at numerous spots on the West Side, to take a look at this or that. Amazingly, we found a parking space on 5th Avenue (you can't beat good luck), and had a small walk in Central Park. The sailboats on the pond (remote-control models) were still there.
Next, we went down to the Frick Museum, a rather nice collection of art amassed by the steel baron, William Frick, and his heirs. Took about 2 hours to get through everything, which is a nice contrast to the Met. They had a couple of famous pieces (by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Degas) but also portraits of Thomas More and his execution Thomas Cromwell sitting opposite each other. Definitely a nice museum.
We returned to Hartsdale after that. Grandma's promise that her friend was bringing her small harp turned out to be partly true. However, the "small harp" was in fact all of 75 pounds, and thus only slightly smaller than a normal harp. No matter. We had a pleasant dinner, though the topic centered rather prominently on politics. Afterwards, the friend had brought some flute-harp music, so we played duets for a good chunk of the evening. The audience (all 5 of them) were quite appreciative, and it certainly was fun.
September 12 Last day in New York. Was up early(ish) to do packing. After breakfast, we went off to Rockefeller Preserve north of White Plains. I think we were there last December too, but there's a world of difference between now and then. The trees have leaves, the lake has no ice, and the cows appear to have relocated for the time being. Pleasant spot though.
Had a quick lunch afterwards, and left for the Newark airport. Arrived with plenty of time (no traffice). Unfortunately, Continental has spots in 3 terminals, and we picked the wrong one. Once in the right terminal, we first found the ticket section for San Jose, Costa Rice. No, we want San Jose _California_. Somehow got my bag checked in, and spent a nervous time in the security line (we were rather short on time at that point). Looks like this won't be the time we first miss our plane though.
Flight back to San Jose was uneventful. I managed to finish my book on the modern Middle East. I think the word that describes the story chronicled is "discouraging." Almost without exception, the revolutionaries of yesteryear are the corrupt, autocratic, egomaniacs of today. Bad news to all concerned. Arrived in San Jose around 8PM (local time), and headed home. Doesn't look like it changed much in our absence.
September 13 Recovering from being in New York. Main course of action was migrating my web server/ftp server/DNS server/router to an older and quieter machine. Getting all the stuff I needed working in Fedora Core 2 took quite the effort. Most annoyingly, a minimal Linux installation is still at least 500MB. Hey, I thought Linux didn't do bloat (stupid shared libraries and localization files)? Caught up on a week's worth of news as well. Looks like Iraq is the same pleasant place it's always been.
September 14 Didn't have a plan for the day. So when a friend called up around 9ish to suggest breakfast, off I went. My appetite was kinda small, but we had a good discussion. A lot can happen in 6 months... Went home after that and did various odd tasks. On impulse gave a former teacher of mine a phone call, and so we met for afternoon tea (er... coffee). Had a heated political discussion (conservatives are hard to find around here, so when you find them...) that lasted a bit longer than intended. After finishing the less political part of our talk (mainly about me, the future job market, and so forth), went home. Realized I'd spent a total of almost 6 hours talking over the course of the day.
September 15 Got up in a hurry to finish writing some postcards. I'm absolutely terrible about getting the things out anywhere close to on time. Had my flute lesson shortly thereafter. I'm finally starting on the 4th movement of Prokofiev's D Major Sonata, and it's a doozie! Went over to Fry's computer store afterwards, to look into VIA's EPIA mini-ITX motherboard. It's basically just a low-end PC with a cool-enough processor not to need a fan. Unfortunately, it was also $190. Too much. They had a nice 5-port 100-base-T switch for $30, but I was feeling cheap. On the way home, stopped at H.M.B.H.S. (my old high school) and saw a couple of former teachers and friends. Scary, but the folks who were freshman when I graduated are now seniors worried about college essays. Where does the time go? In the evening did some more research on the EPIA. Looks like it's not only expensive, but also slow. A 1GHZ C3 is about equivalent to a 500MHZ P-III. Not exactly awe-inspiring.
September 16 Let's hear it for cleanup. Where by cleanup, I mean vacuuming, dusting, and even washing the floor in one case. I don't think this is a career I've too much potential in. Nonetheless managed to read enough news to get mad as usual. All I can say is that it'll be a great day when women and children can drop 2000 pound bombs on defenseless Pentagon generals. Continued to research "quiet" PCs. Supposedly just getting a better fan should help a lot. I'm not quite convinced. My cousin from Iran who's going to Stanford next year arrived in the evening from L.A., making an ordinary day rather less so.
September 17 My cousin is anxious to see his new domain. So we go over to Stanford, and take care of a number of administrative issues. Included is a visit to his residence for next year (assuming it won't be changed). Looks pretty nice (2 store, a kitchen and all that sort of fun). I'm sure I'm gonna regret saying this but I've actually gotten used to having a one-room double. A roommate insures I don't just sit at the terminal all day, or pass days on end without any interaction. But I digress.
Not really thinking, I went to the airport to pick up a friend. Not only did I get there early (how was I to know it's only 35 minutes from Stanford to SFO), but I'd forgotten the flight was international, and hence spent a good hour waiting for my friend to clear customs. She managed to leave one of her bags behind there, but didn't have too much time. Anyhow, read plent about Egypt while waiting at the arrival section.
At home, went on a walk up the road, only to discover things have changed since last I did. And not for the better. The "dome" was supposedly bought up by POST (Peninsual Open Space Trust) a few years back. Which I'd assumed meant that the land wouldn't be changed much. Guess I was wrong. They've cut down a lot of trees, added a new separate building, and cleared a lot of brush. The place is just a mess. Goddammit, what's the point of an "Open Space Trust" if that's what happens to it? Anyhow, had dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant, and went to be early. Gosh I'm tired.
September 18 Up at the ungodly hour of 5 to take my friend to the airport. We made good time getting there, and I dropped her off around 6. I tried to be clever coming back, and managed to get lost in Daily City before it was fully light. To further put me on edge, the car's making grinding noises in low gear again (last time was after my little incident coming from Lassen back in June).
It took everybody at home a while to wake up, but once we did, and had breakfast, we drove up to San Francisco. On the way, we stopped at Pacific near Rockaway beach for pictures. From there, we continued to the Palace of the Legion of Honor for a view of the city, and then to Golden Gate Park. We ate lunch in the park by a pond, attempted to visit the rose garden (which was very hard to find) and generally saw the area. From there we continued on to, parking not far from the Golden Gate bridge, which we walked to, and on. I've a rather nice picture of a sailing ship that looks like its out of the 19th century on the bay. In any case, we saw sunset on the bay (7:17PM), and then headed back.
We drove to downtown which was largely closed. Looking for a restaurant, we didn't see one, but traversed the financial district and got more funny noises from the car's low gears. Oops. Made it back around 10PM, at which point I was exhausted.
September 19 Making up for yesterday, we all got up a little late. Took some time to prepare for a hike up Montara mountain, which we did. Didn't actually leave the car until past noon. Going up, it was quite hot, at least initially, and we took our time. The good view of the coast didn't last though, for the last stretch took us up and into the clouds, and visibility at the top was all of 10 feet in any direction. Still, we showed my cousin the local geography, had a nice discussion of politics and the state of the world, and took a few pictures. Didn't do very much for the rest of the day.
September 20 Monday. My esteemed roommate (and friend) was due back this morning, so off we went to retrieve him from the airport. Made it, almost on time. He seems to be well, and Singapore was apparently an agreeable place to work for the summer. Took him over to campus. There was a minor problem when he tried to move in however, since non-Frosh aren't to move in until Wednesday. Oops. For an extra fee they let him stay though. So we moved some of his stuff in, and then headed off to a Chinese restaurant for lunch (can't remember the name, but it was cheap though). Next, we went off to Fry's for my cousin to look into computers, since he'll be needing one. He didn't manage to decide. Came home in the evening.
September 21 Today's the day my cousin moves in. My dad and I both took stuff. I also brought a lot of the stuff that my roommate's had stored at my house. All of it in fact. So basically spent all morning moving people in. First there was my cousin's stuff, then there was my roommate's. We met for lunch at Olives before my cousin went his way, and my roommate and I went off on a quest for useful items, like napkins. Made it home in the afternoon feeling pretty worn out.
September 22 Apparently matters have been a bit complicated. My cousin's been moved to a different dorm. Also his computer apparently has problems which necessitate a return to Fry's. For my part, I was anxious to move as much as possible of the stuff I'll be needing over to the dorm. This required a fair bit of preparation in the morning. In particular, I brought along the machine I want to use as a router.
A good chunk of the afternoon went to attempting to configure networking in the room. Somehow it still doesn't quite work. I don't know if the problem is me, Linux (on the router), or something completely out of my hands. Quite frustrating. Took my cousin to Fry's to return his machine. The process was remarkably painless. We left with a new monitor, and a free set of speakers, among other things. Spent part of the evening setting his machine up. It set up quite easily, and by the time I left he had functional network access. If only it were so simply for me.
Back at home, I had to reconfigure a number of items, and replace the router I'd moved. Long day.
September 23 Spent the day at home on home-oriented tasks. Also spent a good bit of the day reading, somewhat for my class, but also a lot of not-class related things. It was nice to relax and not do much. Won't have that opportunity again for a while.
September 24 What was basically the final stage of move-in was carried out today. Also I spent a fair bit of time at the library reading and pretending to read.
September 25 I am successfully moved in. Unfortunately, errands are not too helpful. My bed is functional however, and I found a number of my friends who've returned. As always though, beginning of the school year find me somewhat ambivalent. My roommate disappeared for a lengthy period and didn't return until after I fell asleep. Welcome back to dorm life.
September 26 The final day before classes was devoted largely to errands. Unfortunately, there were perhaps more errands to do than I planned on. In particular, getting the room put together is taking a while. Although we have less stuff than last year, we have more stuff than will comfortably fit. Somewhat irritating. They had 'junior convocation' but that wasn't really all that exciting. For dinner, the whole (housing) draw group went out to CPK. It was fun to have everybody together again, especially being in the good humor that comes with not having any work due (yet). Afterwards, met a friend who's living in Palo Alto this year. Walked to his house, which took quite a while, and enjoyed a nice long discussion. He's also a history major, but unlike me he's motivated, competent, and bold. I think he'll be successful. In any case, he's prepared for his Fulbright scholarship interview on Monday. He had some advice for me, though I hope things aren't quite as cut and dried as he suggests.
September 27 First day of classes. Began off at 9AM with Math 106, analysis on functions involving the complext numbers. Sounds like fun, though the professor seems to move quite rapidly. The text seems decent though. French class was of course a review, but seemed also to be fast-paced. History 187B, the history of the Middle East in the 20th century, looks to be quite enjoyable, and the professor is both entertaining and competent. Had a quick lunch followed by a visit to the bookstore and some attempt at further room organization. Have begun to figure out where all my friends are located.
September 28 Today was a full day. French class was pretty rudimentary stuff, but I think the teacher's decent. In history class, the professor lay out the conditions under which 19th century Persia and the Ottoman Empire labored to survive. They didn't have it easy. I had lunch after, before shopping a few classes. One was Jewish history, dealing with the Middle Ages. An interesting period, and the professor was doubtless knowledgeable, but he just kept going on and on... He did on no occasion give a reasonable and concise explanation of what topics the class was intended to address. Another course I tried was on politicians in the American West, particularly California. A very apt subject, but the instructor seemed to be orienting the class toward 'showcasing new technology.' Anybody who's that concerned about medium makes me nervous. Evening was quiet, though I visited a friend at another dining hall.
September 29 Welcome, Wednesday. Math 106 first thing in the morning: Complex exponentiation and roots. Hmm... French was pretty simple still, though there's still plenty I can learn. A 3 year hiatus hasn't done much for my accent. History 187B was dealing with the effects of the Great War on the Ottoman Empire and Persia. I always gave the Ottomans poor marks for choosing the losing side, but I guess given that Russia's stated ambition was to dismember them, they didn't have much of a choice. Afternoon was the history seminar I'm trying to get in: Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. We didn't actually do much today, but it looks like it'll be a tough class from the syllabus. Unfortunately for me, grad students get priority, even non-history ones. So we'll see if I get in or not. Hope so. Watched a debate between Michael Badnarik (Libertarian presidential candidate) and David Cobb (Green Party). It was fun, though I must say that Badnarik came off looking much more professional than Cobb.
September 30 See my trip report on Mt Whitney.