Archive for July, 2018

Tanzania diary, day 2

Sunday, 29 July, 2018

Saturday, 30 June, 2018. 01:11. Johannesburg Airport

We have just boarded our connecting flight to Nairobi. It was supposed to depart at 00:55, so this one is running a bit late too. Hopefully we’ll have enough time to make our next connection from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro International Airport. We are supposed to have about an hour and a half to make the connection, but it will probably end up around an hour or maybe less.

This plane is a Boeing 737, which is quite a bit smaller than most planes I fly on, so it feels pretty squishy. There’s also some confusion over which row we’re sitting in. It’s highly ambiguous which row of seats the “row 25” label is over, and we dithered until another passenger confidently asserted that the one further back was 25. But now there are passengers in front of us who are supposed to be in the seats across the aisle, occupied by people with seats in row 24, but the seats in front of them are vacant, so maybe we’re all a row further back than we should be. It looks like only a few more people to board, so we’ll see what happens.

Inside the airport, we stayed in the Shangololo lounge until it closed at 22:00, then were forced to wander the terminal. By now most of the shops had closed, but there were a handful still open. We looked at some of the African art and housewares for a bit, but were tired so found a seat not too far from our gate to relax a bit more.

Monkey killing time in Johannesburg Airport
Killing time in Johannesburg Airport

Read more: Another flight connection in Nairobi, arrival in Tanzania, driving to Arusha, exploring the town

Tanzania diary, day 1

Sunday, 29 July, 2018

Friday, 29 June, 2018. 20:30, Johannesburg Airport

We are relaxing in the Shangololo lounge at Johannesburg International Airport in South Africa, awaiting our connecting flight to Nairobi in Kenya. Our Qantas flight arrived here at 18:20, over an hour late after leaving Sydney nearly two hours behind the scheduled departure time of 10:55 this morning.

Our day began with an alarm at 06:00, after not quite enough sleep. M. had School of Rock rehearsal last night, so we were late getting to bed, after prepping for the trip as best we could in the time we had. We had to get up at 06:00 and actually pack our bags, since we didn’t have time to do it before then. We had a rushed breakfast as well and showered, then scrambled to be ready to leave just after 07:00.

We walked to the station and caught a train to Central, where platform 23 was packed with other people either commuting to work or heading to the airport as well. The airport line trains were running late, and we had a ten minute wait as more and more people piled onto the platform. Fortunately when the train finally arrived, it was nearly empty, and everyone managed to squeeze on.

Read more: Day 1 of our big trip to Africa! We fly to Johannesburg and wait for a connecting flight…

Cupertino diary, day 6

Sunday, 29 July, 2018

Thursday, 21 June, 2018. 08:18

I am sitting on a Caltrain at Lawrence station, waiting to depart for San Francisco. I intended to make it here in time for the 08:50 train, but managed to walk here from my hotel just in time to catch the 08:15 service, although it sat here for a few minutes as an express roared past.

I was woken up this morning by my alarm at 06:50. I hopped in the shower, then dressed and went to breakfast for the usual fruit and yoghurt. One woman sitting near me was coughing horribly the whole time, deep and phlegmy. I hope she wasn’t spreading germs in my direction. I also saw Urabe-san and his colleague there, and said goodbye to them until Cologne in October.

I returned to my room, packed my bags, and went to reception to check out. Then I walked back along the route I followed on Saturday from Lawrence station to catch a train to San Francisco. I have a luggage minding service booked through Bagnb, at a computer store south of Market, so conveniently on the way from San Francisco Caltrain station to a BART station on Market Street. After dropping my bag there, I’ll catch BART across the bay to Berkeley to meet Shaenon for lunch at Jupiter, a brewhouse that she recommended.


Palo Alto station. This station has a really cool Art Deco station building. Yellow with rust red striping and the station name in a pencil thin grotesque font.


I am on a BART train heading to the airport.

SF Caltrain station
San Francisco Caltrain station

My Caltrain this morning arrived at the San Francisco station, where I alighted with everyone else. There was a long slow queue of people exiting the train and along the platform to the station exit. After tapping off with my Clipper card, I walked north along 4th Street until I reached Howard Street, where I turned left to find the computer shop that would mind my luggage for the day, as booked through Bagnb. A man there looked up my name and took my bag, giving me a paper slip to collect it later. He warned me that the shop closed at 18:00, so to make sure and collect it before then.

Read more: looking around UC Berkeley, lunch with Shaenon, farewell to San Francisco

Cupertino diary, day 5

Sunday, 29 July, 2018

Wednesday 20 June, 2018. 16:46

My meetings have finished a bit early today, so I am relaxing at the hotel before Rohan drops by to pick me up and go for dinner.

I got up with the alarm today at 07:00, fast asleep at the time. After another simple breakfast of fruit and yoghurt, I headed off to walk to Apple again. Unfortunately I lost my sunglasses on the way; they must have fallen out of my jacket pocket at some point after I took it off when I got warm from walking.

At Apple, the breakfast snacks this morning were big boxes of Noah’s bagels and a tray of yoghurt cups with fruit and muesli. I had a poppy seed bagel with cream cheese and then a yoghurt cup, and later on I tried another bagel which had raisins in it and cinnamon.

Bagels at Apple
Noah’s Bagels at Apple

Read more: finishing up meetings at Apple, Mexican dinner and gelato at Mountain View

Cupertino diary, day 4

Sunday, 29 July, 2018

Tuesday 19 June, 2018. 19:13

I am sitting in New Port Chinese Restaurant, near Apple Park, and about 20 minutes walk from my hotel. Our formal day ended at 18:30 after a talk inside Apple Park by Jon McCormack, Vice President of software at Apple and a National Geographic photographer. After leaving Apple Park I walked here to this restaurant, going most of the way with Rob from Imatest, and decided to stop here on the way back to the hotel for dinner as it was getting after 7pm. Urabe-san had said that he had eaten here on his first night and that it was good.

The day began with me waking up a bit before the alarm again, and getting out of bed and down to the breakfast room by just after 7am. I just had fruit and yoghurt this morning, avoiding the hotel bagel and intending to have one of the superior bagels supplied at Apple for us in the meeting room. However this morning, after the long walk to the meeting, they had a different selection of American breakfast pastries and muffins, with no bagels! So I had a plain croissant instead, avoiding the more sugar-laden choices of danishes and “strudels” (also actually just flaky pastries with an apple filling, not a proper rolled strudel) and muffins.

Crossing Junipero Serra Freeway
Walking to Apple Campus, crossing the Junipero Serra Freeway

Read more: technical discussion, then visiting the Apple Park Visitor Centre and spaceship building

Cupertino diary, day 3

Sunday, 29 July, 2018

Monday 18 June, 2018. 22:13

Today was the first day of the ISO meeting. I got up a bit before 07:00 and went down to the breakfast room to have some fruit and a bagel. I met Urabe-san there again and we sat at a table together with his new associate, who is here as a stand in for Shimodaira-san, who has suffered a cerebral aneurysm and has been in hospital for the past three weeks, although Urabe-san says he is recovering. They were catching a taxi to Apple for the meeting and offered me a ride with them, but I said I would walk.

One Infinite Loop
Apple Campus, One Infinite Loop

I left about 07:30 and walked south then west, crossing the freeway and walking through a residential area, finally arriving at De Anza Three, the building where our meeting was, in the original Apple Campus just across an access street from the old One Infinite Loop office. We were in the Beatles meeting room. Next door was the Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young room, and also nearby were The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, and Journey rooms.

Read more: a bit of business meeting, plus lunch and dinner supplied by Apple

Cupertino diary, day 2

Saturday, 28 July, 2018

Sunday, 17 June, 2018. 21:52

My sleep was a bit restless at first, but I eventually nodded off, only to be awoken too early by the sunlight peeping through the Venetian blinds of the hotel room. I got up about 07:20, dressed, and went down to the breakfast room. It was pretty busy, but I managed to find an empty table, sitting down with a bowl of very soggy oatmeal porridge, a plate of fresh fruit (watermelon, rockmelon, and strawberries), a small pot of plain yoghurt, and a sesame seed bagel and cream cheese. There were also eggs, bacon, French toast, fried potatoes made with various colours of potatoes including orange and purple, and some other things, but I avoided all those.

I grabbed an apple and a banana from the fruit bowl to have as snacks during the day, then walked across the road to the nearby 7-11 to get something to carry for lunch. I got a turkey and Monterey jack cheese sandwich plus a small packet of crackers with cheese and turkey slices, and also a 1.5 litre bottle of water. My plan was to catch an Uber out to the Fremont Older trailhead, which leads into walking trails through the Fremont Older Open Space Preserve.

I booked the Uber using the hotel WiFi, but once I got in the car I lost reception so I wouldn’t be able to mark the trip complete and rate the driver until after I got back into a WiFi zone. The driver was friendly and we chatted about various stuff like my travel and what I was planning to do for the day. We drove out of the city and up a narrow road into the hills, passing a road sign indicating deer in the area, as well as increasingly expensive looking houses nestled in the woods, until we reached a small car park and an obvious hiking path leading up the hill away from the road. He dropped me here and I indicated I didn’t have reception so would rate him on Uber later.

Fremont Older trail head
The Fremont Older trailhead

I headed along various trails, up to the peaks of Hunter’s Point, then to Maisie’s Peak, the highest spot in the reserve, and which gave a great view over Silicon Valley towards the southern Bay.

Read more: hiking through the Santa Clara Hills, an afternoon break at a winery, dinner at The Fish Market

The puppy + kitten experiment is over

Wednesday, 25 July, 2018

Here’s a photo of our kitten Mulder and puppy Scully.

Mulder and Scully

Unfortunately, looks are deceiving. We thought they were getting along, just with the amusing foible of constantly trying to eat each others’ food. But Mulder seemed to constantly be having trouble with her digestive system, fighting diarrhoea all the time, and also occasionally urinating outside her litter boxes. We thought she was fussy about dirty kitty litter, so cleaned it out multiple times a day. She ate a lot, but seemed rather skinny.

Then my wife and I went on our vacation to Tanzania for two weeks. This trip had been booked ages ago, well before we even considered getting a kitten and a puppy. So we had to find temporary homes for them while we were away. One friend of ours also had a puppy and was willing to take Scully, but not Mulder. So I found another friend who was happy to look after a kitten, and we let Mulder stay with his family. I warned him that Mulder was having trouble with diarrhoea and going outside her litter box.

When we got back from our two week vacation, we picked up Scully and Mulder. As soon as I saw Mulder I noticed she’d put on weight. She was no longer skinny. I asked if she’d had any toilet troubles. My friend said she had a bit of diarrhoea in the first day or two, but it cleared up quickly. And she had no problems urinating outside her box.

We thought Mulder and Scully would be happy to see each other again. But they started fighting. Not play wrestling, but full on claws and hissing. When Mulder was sitting or resting, Scully would chase her. When Scully was resting, Mulder would leap and attack. We were forever separating them, or trying to keep them apart. This was causing us a lot of stress.

Mulder’s diarrhoea returned, and wouldn’t go away. She started urinating around the house again. She lost weight and started to appear skinny again.

A few days ago we made the hard decision that for the sake of her health, Mulder had to find a new home. I would have been happier if Scully had been the one to find a new home, but for my wife keeping Scully was absolutely non-negotiable. So poor Mulder had to go.

We offered her to my friend who’d looked after her while we were on vacation. I hoped he would say yes, so that we’d know the new owner and could visit Mulder sometimes. But although he liked her, he couldn’t take her permanently. I tried several other friends, but none could accept her.

Today I returned Mulder to the Pet Rescue worker who we originally got her from, three months ago. She gave me a whole pack of tissues, I was crying so hard in this virtual stranger’s house.

Mulder: I’m sorry we couldn’t give you the comfortable home you deserve. I hope you find one and live a long and happy life.