telerib: (Default)
Its homepage, nearly as befuddling as the place itself.

I tend to think of it as half museum, half Dada art installation. If it were really the organization it claimed to be - presenting 'Jurassic' (antediluvian) technology from the world before the Flood - it would be pushing that agenda a whole lot harder. Also, aside from the first room of exhibits, nothing else appeared to be on this theme. There was an exhibit on campers - trailers that you can live in, you know - complete with "The (Last name) Collection," which might be crocheted doilies or a collection of old bottles, taken from LA area trailer parks. Is this to make us question what's "proper" for museums, and why some things are considered museum-worthy and others, like doilies and old bottles, are not?

Some of the things you want to fact-check. Like "The Micromosaics of Harald Henry Dalton." Is what I'm seeing through the eyepiece of the microscope really what's on the slide? Did this guy even really exist? I was finally able to find a reference to him that did not come from the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and he did apparently make mosaics out of butterfly wing-scales, so it may well be real.

Or consider the exhibit on the Cameroon stink ant. You're supposed to pick up the telephone and press the button for the narration. And nothing happens. Or there's the "Protective Audio Mimicry" display of a scarab beetle (I think) mounted above a blue-green gemstone. There are red LEDs next to each, and the one next to the bug is lit. Again, there's a phone, and you can pick it up and hear an endless loop of bug noises. As near as I can tell, the light by the stone never lights, and the audio loop never changes. Maybe if you wait a really long time? But that is it - the entire exhibit. No other explanatory text as to what "Protective Audio Mimicry" might be or what the stone has to do with the beetle. See why I'm thinking 'Dada art installation'?

I walked out with a book on sacred geometry, a DVD about the museum so Moe could experience the bizarreness himself, and a tiny ceramic box with the catchphrase "The world is bound with secret knots" inside. (It's a 17th century reference to magnetism, which was heralded by some as the Grand Unified Theory of its time - magnetism could explain everything, even why you liked peanut butter, if you didn't fully understand what it was, which they didn't.)

Well worth the $5 admission if you like weird stuff. The nearby parking garage is even free for the first two hours, although the museum doesn't validate parking stubs if your visit goes longer than that.
telerib: (Default)
I'm here. I'm at a Panera Bread.

Hey. It was two and a half hours past my lunchtime and I've no idea at all what interesting local joints there might be in Simi Valley. I wanted something with an egg on it and some coffee, and by gosh, Panera Bread has those.

Anyhoo. Bottle Village is just down the road, it's an hour before my arranged tour, and this Panera Bread appears to have cunningly removed all its electrical outlets so people like me don't sit at our laptops for an hour or more. I'm already past 80% battery and falling. So I think it's time to log off, call the tour guide and see if she has any early availability, and get on with (not actually very) sunny California!
telerib: (captain)
Business takes me out to sunny California on Sunday. I get to LAX around 9:30am with nothing in particular to do until 10:00am on Monday (except, you know, review the presentation I'm going to give).

Bless Roadside America, my first travel-planning stop. Should I try to arrange for a tour of the Bottle Village? Go for the hard-boiled eccentricity of the Museum of Jurrassic Technology? (More coherent review of museum here, on a steampunk blog so you know it has to be good). The Getty Museum and/or Villa and the La Brea Tar Pits are other possibilities.

The Manolo has recommended several restaurants in the area, which I am sure would require me to eat cereal for breakfast and lunch to stay within my per diem: steak, steak, steak, Californian, and the Italian that the Manolo says is simply the best restaurant in town.
telerib: (uhh)
I had a dream that they found my luggage!

But they haven't. :/ They're "still tracing" it, but my claim has been forwarded to processing, where they'll figure how much they'll reimburse me, based on my recollection of the bag's contents.
telerib: (uhh)
It's been a week since we touched down in Newark, NJ. They have still not found my luggage.

How they managed to load Moe's and miss mine, I have no idea. The computer says it came off the plane in Chicago and was scanned as Newark-bound. Well, it wasn't in Newark.

They've either lost it most thoroughly, or it grew legs at some point along the trip. I'm working on the paperwork to get reimbursed for all the stuff that was in it. Nothing of irreplaceable value, although some of the jewelry (gifts from Moe) will be missed. I really hope I can get the same cowboy boots again, and it was very disappointing to have the $100 worth of stuff for my sister's bridal shower go missing the week of the shower. (Luau theme. I was in Hawai'i. It seemed natural to shop there.)

In high school, I had a rule not to go on camping trips with anything I wouldn't mind seeing disappear to the bottom of the Delaware River. I may have to reinstate that to some degree. (I mean, the new suit that I bought just for this? That was hella flattering and I had tailored? I mind losing it but it kinda had to go.)
telerib: (Default)
We'll be heading out in an hour.

We went to Germaine's Luau last night, the first luau show on the island. It was quite a lot of fun! The show was very nice. I think I liked the men's dances better than the women's (and not even for the obvious reasons); at least for the dances presented, the men's seemed to tell the stories better than the women's. The women's were 80% about shaking their hips (in a very cabaret belly-dance style) and 20% about the arms and the story. The men's had more going on. Hula, when it was a religious ceremony, was men-only, so maybe they still get the more traditional ones.

Our bus escort, Kai, was a hoot. His job was to encourage the bus people to get to know each other on the way out (which he did) and amuse us on the 45-minute ride back (which he did, in spades). I kinda broke him a little. They have a schtick where the "cousins" (guests) on your bus are the good-looking cousins, but the other buses have the ugly cousins. So we ran through the things we would do to insult our ugly cousins if our bus passed their bus. One thing was to strike a sexy pose, so the ugly cousins would be dumbfounded by our good looks. "On the count of three," he says, "show me your most sexy pose!"

One, two, three, I grabbed my husband for a deep kiss.

It took Kai a good minute to collect himself. He kept repeating that no one had ever done that on his bus before. Really? I mean, it seemed the most obvious thing.

Then there was singalong karaoke (so not really karaoke) and I busted out my bard voice and got a few admiring looks from nearby. Nice ending to the evening. :)

So... snorkeling was the definite highlight. Seeing the volcano would come after. But we had a fine time - I don't think there was a single thing we did that we were disappointed about. It's been an awesome vacation.
telerib: (Default)
I have found my Favorite Thing this trip: snorkeling in Hanauma Bay (or Hana'uma Bay, as it's alternately called). Wow. Fish. Beautiful fish a foot from your face. So many kinds of them! I saw several of Hawai'i's state fish, the Humuhumukununukuapua, which is really cute. I saw varieties of surgeonfish, tang, and parrotfish. Some looked as big as a serving platter, or bigger, and some were small enough to look at home in an aquarium.

The water was a bit wind-blown and the waves could be powerful. I'm a decent swimmer, and they were at least driving to shore instead of away from it, but I didn't feel to safe being knocked about a foot and a half above a coral reef. So I eventually hauled it in. (The reef is mostly dead, but I did see some colorful live corals making a return.)

And there are surfing pictures!

Cut to save you from accidental exposure to more of telerib than you ever wanted to see. )
telerib: (Default)
There's a shooting range in Waikiki. I didn't think much of it when the guys in pasteboards tried to give us brochures. I mean, shooting range, right? They exist, big deal. Then we walked past it and I saw the sign, which was pretty much "Shoot guns here!" Japan has strict gun control laws; Americans are well known for having lots of guns. There are many Japanese tourists here (so many that the convenience stores take yen). It must be a touristy thing to do: Go to America! Shoot a gun!

Our tour guide on the Big Island pointed out many of the trees and flowers. I liked that, because I always wonder what they are.

Bland macaroni salad may be as or more (modern) Hawaiian than kalua pig.

"Henry's Place" on Beachwalk is an unassuming little fruit store with awesome homeade sorbets. Well, the pineapple was awesome. I assume the others, and the ice creams, were also awesome.

Lava tubes are immensely cool.

My presentation seemed to go well, but the real win was the chance encounter in the Ladies' Room with the AIAA Congressional lobbyist who knew about the project I was on and said she'd supported it back in the 2005 timeframe, and would be happy to see what she could do to keep it alive now.

No actual lava was seen, regrettably.
telerib: (uhh)
Often when applying sunblock, one can do a less-than-perfect job on the legs. They don't usually get much sun.

When surfing, one spends a lot of time laying on the surfboard. One must take care not to do a literally half-assed job of applying sunscreen, or that half of the ass will be sunburned.

In happier news, we saw a rainbow at dinner!
telerib: (Default)
Specifically, the Venus of Willendorf.

I did manage to stand up twice and even got back down onto the board without falling off. But frankly, the most fun was the first run, where I just got up into a kneeling position and stayed there. Whee!

It escaped my notice that, when you surf, you have to paddle the surfboard out to where the waves are. Then you surf in. Then you paddle out. Then you surf in. Then you paddle out. It's not as bad as having to climb the mountain after you ski down it, but I ended the lesson early because my upper body told me it was going on strike.

My instructor was Uncle Billy, an extremely sun-browned person of indeterminate ethnicity. He has been surfing since the year my father was born, and will be 69 on Monday. He is in better shape than I have ever been in my entire life. He rattled off instructions with a mixture of matter-of-factness and consideration that was perfect; I felt neither intimidated nor condescended to.
telerib: (Default)
We skipped Pennsic for this trip, but we've noticed some similarities:
  • There's something of a specialized dress code, but no one cares if you don't really follow it.
  • Almost everyone is on vacation, and those who aren't are mostly in the service industries.
  • There are a lot of toned shirtless men walking around.
  • There's a definite bohemian/hippie vibe, especially among the local over-50 crowd.
  • ZOMG there is a lot of booze.
  • And the under-30 crowd indulges heavily.
  • The buses are annoying and slow and you may as well walk unless you're going downtown.
  • A car seems like it would be a real hassle.


Look! We got garb so we'd fit in:
telerib: (Default)
Aloha! )

I heard some interesting stuff from the COUNTER team, heard a few presentations that seemed like old robotics/AI news applied to the GNC community (can't complain, that's my paper in a nutshell), and some stuff on machine learning that I mostly got and some stuff on pseudospectral methods that I mostly didn't. Happy to say that, two years post-dissertation, I still remember the math associated with optimal controls and could follow along intelligently.
telerib: (uhh)
Why, why in the name of all good and holy and decent things, would you serve delicious dark pure Kona coffee...

...with nothing but CoffeeMate?
telerib: (Default)
The Celtic Waves were a fun band to listen to. They were great instrumentalists, okay singers - and they mostly stuck to what they were strong at. Two mandolins, a 31-string harp, bodhran, guitar, awesome fiddle, plus whistles and flutes - played by five people. We have a CD.

Tonight, we may have a cruise or dinner cruise. At some point, there will be a luau show. Friday is a tour of the Big Island to see Kilauea and some of the waterfalls. (We were going to DIY with air tickets and a car rental, but it seems that the guided bus tours are actually cheaper.) Saturday, I'm snorkeling in Hanauma Bay for the morning and, if we can swing it, we'll go to the Polynesian Cultural Center for the afternoon and evening.

We won't see the royal palace; I won't see the Arizona Memorial but Moe will. (We were going to go yesterday but didn't start to get moving until 10am, which we were told was pretty much too late. The line forms at 6am for a 7:30 opening, and then they close early on Sundays. So, if we took public transit and got there by 11am, we probably wouldn't be able to get in before closing.) There's a whole host of other neat things we won't have time to do, but I'm hopeful that we'll have a good experience.
telerib: (Default)
Not only have we found Waikiki's Irish pub, we found it the day they have live Irish music in the afternoon (4pm).

Yeah, I travel halfway around the world and go to a pub sing. I promise we'll do more interesting things later in the week.

Well, we did walk on Waikiki Beach for a bit, coming back from the pub. (We had to test-drive it for lunch, you see. Did you know they brew some good beers in Hawai'i? And a rum, too, although I haven't had that yet.)

It really is amazing. The Pacific Ocean, as viewed from San Francisco, looks remarkably like the Jersey Shore. Out here, it really is aqua blue water, crystal clear up close, blue skies, white clouds and a fine breeze the whole day. The malls are built with the food courts and byways open to the air - try that in December on the East Coast.

Also saw a cool little grey bird with a bright red crest; wonder if it's in the jay/cardinal family? Had the same overall shape, crest aside. One of the neatest but most disorienting things for me about coming West for me is that I don't know any of the flora and fauna. I know most common animals, birds and flowers in the NJ-MD area. I see stuff out here and I have no clue.

Aloha!

Aug. 17th, 2008 10:38 am
telerib: (captain)
We're in Honolulu and it's 4:40 am local time. We slept as late as we could!

Mountain view from the hotel, huzzah! The ocean's great and all but I'm more of a mountains girl. And they are very neat mountains! It's like someone dropped the fuzzy greenness of the Appalachians onto the jagged edgedness of the Rockies.

Today, we figure out what we're doing and later, I'll register for the conference. I was kinda hoping for an excuse to miss the first sessions, but they look far too awesome. In fact, I'll have a hard time choosing - asteroid deflection, trajectory optimization, autonomous systems? Bwah!

And oh - we picked up the most awesome airport book ever. "The Secret History of the World." ZOMG. Moe's reading it, and the verdict is very well-read, educated total conspiracy mixed nut mix. Eeee!

Home again

Apr. 17th, 2008 02:59 pm
telerib: (Default)
Well, I'm back. Tuesday night and Wednesday morning were a big lineup of disappointments - and I make an effort to 'go with the flow' when traveling.

I did finally get to Pascale's Manale. Possibly the less said, the better. But I did find the sheer size of the shrimp impressive.

Wednesday was the topper. Now, I'd had beignets and cafe au lait already - Monday, the hotel served them as our snack. And they were darn good. The beignets were very much of the zeppolli/funnel cake class of fried-dough-with-powdered-sugar treats that I've known. But they were not Cafe du Monde beignets. So, at 7:30 am, off I went.

I sat down in the outdoor section of the Cafe, as instructed, to wait for table service. I waited a little while before I heard a waitress telling another person that the outdoor cafe was not open. Now, Cafe du Monde is open 24 hours - but apparently not the outside. It was inside (crowded) or take out. Fine, thinks I, I'll get takeout and maybe sit here in the outdoor cafe with it. Ha.

So I wait on line, and wait, and get to the head of the line. And see the sign: Cash or Traveler's Checks Only Please.

I had $3 in my wallet. Beignets were $1.82 and so was a small cafe au lait. So I could get one or the other, but really rather wanted both. This was breakfast, after all. (In hindsight, I should've gotten the damn dough-balls and got coffee somewhere else.)

Now, there are ATMs all over New Orleans, in every gift shop. But every gift shop is closed at 7:50 am. Ah, there is another cafe! ...also closed until 8am. Not too long to wait - and I resolved to do so... but wait! A 24-hour ATM machine! I could get money and proceed with my original plan.

I go; I grumble at the $3 charge; I'm told that it "cannot process your request at this time."

Big sigh. Back to Alternate Cafe, aka Cafe Beignet. It opens. They take plastic, hallelujah. I ask for my beignets and chicory coffee.

The hotel's was better. Big sigh.

On the positive side, I must say that the hotel food was uniformly excellent. Our lunch buffets absolutely rocked, which I wasn't expecting. And it was mostly Creole or cajun, or else "inspired by" - so although I didn't get any jambalaya or dirty rice, I do feel like I at least got a small sampling of some of the flavors and foods.
telerib: (Default)
So it's 9pm and I'm on the Internet in my hotel room on Canal Street. Is that bad?

Seriously, boozing it up on Bourbon Street by myself just didn't sound fun, and I'm not a night owl in general. My body thinks it's 10pm and well past its bedtime. But that's not to say I haven't had fun.

Yesterday was something of a comedy of errors. I saw Jackson Square (and bought some art), the cathedral, and heard some of the French Quarter Festival music. On Royal Street, there was a band playing dance music and people dancing; they were really good dancers and that was intimidating. But I figured if I couldn't dance at a random street gathering, I'd be wasting my money at Tipitina's later, so I crouched down to ask the two elderly gentlemen in front of me if either of them danced. "Not that fast," they said, since the initially slow waltz had become something swing-like. I admitted that I didn't either but was game, but they were not. We chatted friendly-like for a while, and I came to realize that dancing was Out for another reason - my knee. It went "sproing" on Friday, and a little again Saturday morning, but had been behaving that Sunday - until then. It was really sore and complaining, and I decided hopping around in a vigorous fashion was just not bright.

Getting back to the hotel, I went a block up from Bourbon (which smells like garbage and less mentionable stuff - bleck) and saw a young man apparently bleeding ahead. At first, I thought, "Oh no, an accident!" And then I thought, "Maybe it's performance art?" And then I saw the cop and heard the kid belligerently telling another kid to "take a picture, it'll last longer" and decided that I should cross the street. (There was a cop already on the scene, after all.)

I tried to get to Pascal's Manale for the shrimp - the incredibly fabulous concierge heartily approved and even suggested the veal plus shrimp combo "if it doesn't offend your morals" - but learned the hard way that Pascal's is closed on Sundays. Driving back, dead tired from eight hours of travel and almost three of walking, I was ready to just eat at the hotel - when I cruised past Emeril's Delmonico. I just had a light meal of gumbo and salad with tarragon buttermilk dressing, and they were both awesome. Also awesome were the homes and buildings on St. Charles Street - white, column-y things - and the live oaks. No Spanish moss hanging down, but Mardi Gras beads were doing a decent imitation. Lafeyette Square looked lovely, from the brief glance I got, but WTF was up with the glowing eyeballs sculpture? Strange place to put a modern art installation, seems to me.

I have not slept so well in a very, very long time.

This evening, after our workshop closed, I headed over to the Court of the Two Sisters and was absolutely waylaid by a hat shop. Oh. My. Goodness. They are gorgeous hats. They are expensive hats. Really, really expensive hats. Like my Lucchese Classic boots level of expensive. I should not even really be thinking of spending all of my discretionary income on a hat. Even if it's a little top-hat looking thing with a spray of feathers that sticks up jauntily. In chocolate brown. Augh.

Dinner was good. Entree was superior, although I expected the "pan gravy" to be something a little more... substantial. If it had been, it might have tied the chicken breast, mushrooms and andouille sausage together a little more. But they, and the green beans and mashed potates... excuse me, the haricots verts and potato mash, were delicious individually. Dessert (German chocolate cake) was amazingly mediocre. Restaurant was empty at 6pm and the staff were talking about dogs, ear and tail docking and why it was good or bad, and dogfighting, perhaps unaware that we could totally hear them. Gorgeous courtyard, in which two women asked me abruptly if there was "somewhere they could put this" empty plastic cup. I shrugged and could almost hear them thinking, "Oops, she's not a waitress." I've been mistaken for retail staff before, but I think this was the first instance of waitstaff impersonation (more impressive because I was in browns, and the waitstaff were all in black and white, with aprons).

Then down to Decatur Street. I saw the Mississippi River, got a locally-brewed beer, saw all kinds of awful tourist souvenir crap, and stumbled across a music store with a wonderfully diverse jazz ensemble performing. Mostly older men, about half black and half white, but the pianist was a young Asian woman. I bought a CD that featured the trumpeter and I hope some of the other bandmembers. Then I pointedly ignored the panhandlers up Canal Street and got back to the hotel. It was getting dark and cold. And here I am, on the Internet, ignoring the fabled nightlife of New Orleans.

I think I'm okay with that.

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