The World at Large

Moving to the US

Saturday, May 26, 2007

San Jose

This post initially went to my technical blog, since it was about a conference for work. However, the preamble ended up being a collection of observations from before the conference even started, so it makes more sense that I put it here.

Sunday saw me brave the torrential rain in order to hail a cab for Midway. These cab trips are expensive, so fingers crossed that the reimbursement comes sooner rather than later.

I met Chris at the airport, and then we were off for San Jose, and my first visit to California outside of an airport. We arrived late, checked in, and went to bed.

Being in a later timezone, and having no children with me, I had no problems waking up early the next day. Looking out from the 14th floor was really impressive. While in the middle of a very urban setting, you don't have to go far to see that we're surrounded by dry hills. It's an attractive contrast.

The immediate local is quintessentially California/Bay area. The bright skies of lower latitudes (I miss that) palm trees (I think I miss them too), and a dense network of trams (cool). The only detractors were that I would be too busy to get out to experience it up close, and the brown tint to the sky down towards the horizon. I've heard that Chicago has very clear air because of the lake. I suppose that it right, as this is a region with fewer people yet the air seemed dirtier than I can ever recall seeing in Chicago (and certainly Brisbane). On the other hand, I don't get up to the height of the 14th floor very often when I'm at home, so maybe that's just a perception thing. If this is the Bay, then I shudder to think Los Angeles would be like.

The room is nice, but I was a little surprised at the water situation. Every hotel I've visited in Australia or the USA for the last couple of years has had a notice saying that they would let you reuse your towels if you hang them up, thereby saving water. California is just on the cusp of a major water problem as the winter snowpack diminishes, and yet there was no such notice about water savings.

I thought that the hotel may be trying to pick up its savings with the reduced (nearly non-existent?) flow of hot water in the bathroom sink. However the cold water and the shower changed my mind. I was pleased to discover that the shower was easily set to a comfortable temperature, but dismayed to learn that the flow control's only settings were "off", and "Help! I can't swim!"

I wanted an early start, so I decided to forgo exercise and go straight down to the conference. I spent money on an exorbitantly priced meal, before discovering that the conference was providing this for free in a separate area. Sigh. At least I knew about it every subsequent day. I'm currently typing this in an antisocial fashion while sitting at breakfast on the final day. It's a nice bit of downtime after a very busy week.

See the technical blog if you want to know about the conference itself, but given that you're reading this blog then the other one probably isn't of interest.


At 6:11 AM, Blogger Bernard said...

Brown haze?

Heh. My last flight out of Detroit back in 2000 illustrated that such a thing does happen over the midwest. It's not really evident, though, until you get up a few kilometres. Of course, the geography in California is such that the pollution is recycled, blowing out to sea, then in against the mountains again, for days/weeks/months at a time. Chicago & most of the central US, on the other hand, don't have any significant geography for thousands of kilometres, so it all just blows away... :-)


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