A whole lotta shakin’ going on

Hey –

This is a few weeks late, but it is worth mentioning about my eventful business trip the last week of October. It was Oct 29 thru Nov 1 (including Halloween – the first time I have been away for that night). As is usually the case, this one was to the Bay area in California for a Sun Microsystems meeting. The meeting was early afternoon on Monday which meant I had to travel Sunday afternoon/evening. Little did I realize when I booked the flight that the Red Sox would be playing game four of the World Series that night, which ultimately turned out to be the final game of their four game sweep over the Colorado Rockies. I wore my red team jersey on the plane for the occasion.

Fortunately, being a Boston based flight, the pilots patched the game through one of the audio channels from ESPN radio. The announcers definitely had an anti-Red Sox air to them. Anyway, the game went on and on as we approached San Francisco airport and prepared to land. We touched down when it was in the ninth inning with Papelbon on the mound and two outs. He was working the count and the announcer said, “And here’s the two-two pitch …”

What happened next was very predictable, and I knew it was coming. The Flight Attendant cut off the audio and went into her spiel about, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to San Francisco where the local time is …” Everyone started moaning and yelling to put the game back on. Didn’t matter. She had no idea what she had just done, and kept going through her speech. When it was finally over (an agonizing wait), the game came back on just long enough to hear that the game was over and the Sox were World Champions yet again, the second time in four years! They are 8-0 with two sweeps in those appearances! At least I got to see replays later in the terminal and back at the hotel. A few people in the terminal called over to say they won in case I had not heard, or to ask how they made out. Most people didn’t seem to care. That’s OK – there was plenty of celebrating by Red Sox nation anyway.

On Tuesday I had to make a visit to the Santa Clara campus to do some work in a new computer lab we are building in the group I work in. It was late at night, just past 8:00PM when I was packing up my laptop and other material when I heard some rumbling, like a truck driving by. Only the building was not near a road and it was later at night. It continued to grow louder. Then the monitor on the desk started shaking and rattling. Then the floor got wobbly, like It was soft. By then I realized what was happening – AN EARTHQUAKE!. I grabbed my stuff and headed out the door since I was near an exit. By the time I reached the door, it was over. It only lasted 15-20 seconds. I heard later on the radio that it was a magnitude 5.6 quake centered in Milpitas, which was the next town over from where I was! There was no damage anywhere, but some stores had items knocked off shelves. Later I went out to eat and everyone was going about their business as usual. You wouldn’t even know anything happened if you were just arriving there.

It is funny, but many years ago when I first started making business trips to California, I would think about earthquakes when I was out there and what I would do under various situations. But after more than 50 trips over the years I have long ago stopped thinking about them, such that I did not even realize at first what was happening.

On Wednesday, I took the opportunity to attend class live at Stanford. This is the Computer Architecture class I mentioned in an earlier post. It is held Mondays and Wednesdays 11-12:15 so I went. It was a very worthwhile experience. A little wierd and maybe a bit of feeling out of place since I last attended classes 22 years ago. Later I went up and introduced myself to the professor and TAs. Two observations I made. One is that I otherwise watch the classes on video on my computer, because they are recorded and put on-line later. The audio and video content are of very good quality, compared to being there live. That is one way they are the same or very similar. The big difference, however, is that being in a live class felt like it was only half as long as a lecture on video. Or more like, it takes at least twice as long to watch a class by video than in person. The reason(s) I figure are that in a live class all your attention is on the front of the room and the professor. There are no distractions. At home, your attention is on your computer screen which is not very exciting. Plus it is in our family room which has other things to look at. There are distractions at home and other commotions going on while watching the class. Finally, it is usually later at night when my concentration is not as high. Definitely makes for a longer class. The locals have a big advantage this way.

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