Saturday, December 29, 2007


Went to Yogyakarta the last three days and had a blast. First day I
tooled around town. Next day went on the local bus over to
Borobudur, which is a fantastic Buddhist temple. Unesco site.
Really cool. Then the next day I rented a moto-bike and drove out to
Parmbanan. This one is a whole complex of Hindu and a few Buddhist
temples. I liked this one a lot more. Unfortunately, it got hit
pretty hard by a 6.9 quake last year so you can't get too close to them.

Anyway, see the pix below. I don't have time to add captions, so use
your imagination :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Bali-days!

Happy Bali-Days everyone!

I left for Bali on December 15, and had a pretty long journey to get here:  3 hrs to LA, 13 hrs to Korea, 3 hours in Korea and then 7 more hours to Bali.  Ah but it was worth it.

My sister got me a "Gnome away from home" that I'm supposed to take pictures with :)  So here we go.

Me @ Home, with my book and the gnome:

The gnome getting a pedicure at a spa in Bali.  My toenails were getting long, so I had to get a pedicure, and it was the best $3 pedicure I've ever had :)  An hour of massage at a spa goes for $5, and on the beach just a bit cheaper.  Amazing.

Yes, its Christmas here in Bali.  Bali is a Hindu island, but people like celebrating for no good reason.  Its more for the tourists tho, who tend to be Westerners.

Nothing like a skinny Asian Santa Claus tho!

Lots of little Balinese temples scattered about.  People leave offerings daily, and you'll see incense all over the place, usually right in front of their doorways.

Ah and onto the world famous Kuta Beach!

Its long and sandy and the water is so warm.  Its pretty weird to walk into the ocean and have it be this warm.  I guess I'm so used to the cold Pacific in California.  But I'm out there surfing in just shorts and a rash guard.  Awesome!

It hasn't been too sunny tho, in fact we're in the middle of two days of nothing but rain....insane.  I've been in Kuta now for 11 days, one day turns into another I could probably spend about the rest of my life here and be happy for it :)

Surfboard rentals on the beach.  They go for $2-3 an hour, or lots more if you don't bargain too well.  I rented a board from a shop up the road for $3/day.

One of the ways to carry stuff around here....

There are lots of these "Sun set" bars scattered up and down the beach.  I pretty much just go to one run by a guy named Froggy of all things....

Same same but different.

Don't ask me who is going to buy the bow-and-arrow and blow-dart gun that this dude is selling.  No doubt people are buying them....there are about 5 different guys running up and down selling them.  Must be all the Australians that buy em...

The locals want to take our picture!

...and I'm still working on my tan...

Sunset in Kuta - lovely.

This is my buddy Froggy.  He's been tending a little drink-stand here for over 10 years.  Amazingly nice guy.  He's really happy with his life, which he spends working on the beach.  If only we were all so lucky.    Some of his customers have been coming to him for I guess he's an institution.

Some of the regulars at Froggys.  

So its the day after Christmas.  The rain finally stopped around 6pm after raining alllllll day.  I suppose its poetic justice that I see about 4 days of rain a year at home, and then get it in spades on vacation.  It isn't all bad - it really slows things down and gives you a chance to catchup and relax.  Not that I wasn't relaxing before!

So I finally bought a ticket outta here tomorrow.  I've been trying to leave Kuta for 5 days or so....!  Off to Yogyakarta to visit the ruins of Borobudur.  Just a quick 3-day "hey lets check out Java" trip, and then off to the famed (or not so famed?) Gili Islands, where there are no cars, just lots of sand, and a cute bungalow right on the beach.  Spend New Years' there, do some diving (its a "dive" island, unlike a dive bar, which, well, ya know).

Hope everyone had a great Xmas!

Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego Fire 07

October 22, 2007 San Diego

I spent Sunday evening watching the Indians blow their 3-game lead against Boston and end my dream of finally seeing my team win a World Series, again. This was the third time, and it was supposed to be the charm.

As I sat there reminding myself that it could be worse, the news of the terrible fires in North San Diego started rolling in. As I went to bed at midnight, it was apparent that the first thing I needed to do in the morning was see if I would be going to work or not.

"Ground Zero" of the fires is the Rancho Bernardo area. It is located about 25 miles north of downtown San Diego, and 25 miles from where I live in Mission Beach.

Click here for a link of where my office is relative to San Diego

The radio said that I-15 was closed about 10 miles south of my office in Rancho Bernardo. We call Rancho Bernado the "RB". Its a quiet little suburb that some people call the Old Folks Home because so many elderly people live up there. HP also has a 3000 person campus there, along with other companies like Sony.

So the fires started near Ramona. I know a few people that live in Ramona that I work with. The fire spread west to Poway, where a lot of people at work live. Then this morning I hear that they are evacuating Rancho Bernardo. I figure about half the people where I work live with 10 miles of work, and they are all evacuated. I haven't talked to all of them of course, but I already know two people that have had their houses burned down.

I began looking at the addresses of the houses that have been burnt, and they are about 1/2 mile from my office, to the north. I have two co-workers that have houses just to the east of the area that has all the burned down houses.....I fear the worst, as the wind blows east-to-west, and likely came from where they live. I wish them the best.

I took a hike up a local mountain to try and see the fires at sunset. Lets take a look at the pictures

Wow, this is my car. It isn't quite covered in ash, but there is certainly lots of crap in the air. The air smells like someone is having a bonfire. The sky is smoggy, smokey. Walk down to the beach, and look north, and you see a grey blandness. To the south, a little more blue, then getting grey again further

A chair on my deck. More ash. Probably more on the way.

This is a view of La Jolla from Mt Soledad. Its usually clear and gorgeous. Today, not so. It isn't that far, and you can barely see through the smoke.

This is a view to the north-east. This is the direction of the fire. You can see it is even smokier than towards the ocean. Up on the top of the mountain at 800ft, there is a pretty steady westward breeze. It isn't anywhere near the 70mph gusts that I see in RB. Its a really nice warm breeze too, hot dry air from the desert. It makes for a great day on the beach, with the warmest temperatures of the year, but is creating havok up north.

Smoke in the sky = great sunsets. Today was no exception. With destruction there is often beauty.

Another view towards the fires. I never was able to see any of the fire - the smoke is too thick, its nearly 15 miles away, and I think the fire is behind a mountain. What is most amazing is the I-5 freeway below. This picture is at 5.30pm, and usually you'd see bumper-to-bumper traffic going south. Instead, none. Going North, the highway is nearly bare. The town has pretty much shut down.

I wasn' t the only one up on the top of the mountain chasing a peek of the carnage happening to our neighbors.

A better view of I-5 and the lack of traffic.

The picture below is the view when there is no fire. Not quite a clear day, but you can see the mountains in the background. (you can click on the shot to see a bigger one)

Golden Triangle, as seen from Mt. Soledad

Another view of La Jolla. Below hopefully is a picture of a view of La Jolla on a clear day. Quite a difference. San Diego isn't usually smoggy like LA, so this is really unusual. (You can click on the tiny shot to see a bigger one)

Mt. Soledad view of La Jolla Shores.

So anyway, I'm fine down where I am. I am surrounded on two sides by water, so I don't imagine there is any chance there will be fire by me. This time.

We had similar fires exactly four years ago to the week. People knew these were coming. The Santa Anna winds blow massive warm wind in from the desert. Gusts up to 70mph. I saw the palm trees up in RB on TV, and they were blowing like a hurricane was coming through. The wind blows the glowing embers of the fire into the air. The gusts last about 30 seconds, but at 70mph, it can blow the embers half a mile in that time....blowing them right over the 10 lane I-15 freeway! Amazing.

I wonder how many people I work with will lose their houses. One of my friends speculated that if our site burns down, it would be cheaper to move everyone to our other sites (some of which are half empty due to overseas outsourcing) than to rebuild. Lets hope that doesn't happen.

Work is obviously closed. I received an email that it will be closed again tomorrow. I usually receive about 100 emails per day, but with the entire site closed, and no doubt the rest of our division (in Oregon, Idaho, and Virginia) in a bit of shell-shock, I received maybe 10 emails.

The world here in San Diego has just stopped. Stores even 30 miles south of the fire are closing early. They are asking us not to drive anywhere so the freeways are free for emergency crew traffic. It is a similar feel to when a huge massive snowstorm rolls through, except houses are being destroyed and people are fighting hard to save what they can.

....and me? Down here on the beach, its 80 and sunny all day. Surf is up with great waves because of the off-shore wind. I'm lucky. I'm safe and have a roof over my head.

Meanwhile, 10000 people are starting to mass at the Charger's Stadium. Evacuees they call them, but refugees might be a better word.

This is our New Orleans. 250,000 people out of their homes. Will Southern California be the second USA victim of Global Warming? We'll see.

My best wishes to all my friends....