Day 83: Tracking

My muse returns today! That’s hot. The brunette steps off the plane looking fabulous as usual. Aly and I are both there to meet her.

The rules regarding well-behaved dogs in the airport aren’t clearly defined unless you can read the signs, which she can’t. So she politely curls up under the table as I get some tea.


After playing chauffeur, Aly and I skip town and head for the Air Force station. On the way there, we stop at Crystal Springs reservoir. It’s a beautiful place.

The Pillar Point Air Force Station is out on the coast, about four miles North of Half Moon Bay.


In the 60’s, they actually launched rockets from this facility, but that’s not what it’s used for now. When I lived nearby, they had a huge dish for tracking rockets and missiles.

Now it’s got a brand new tracking mechanism, and I want a close look.

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Having a dog with me helps me draw zero attention. I’m just a guy at the beach, not a space technology nutball, I swear. Oh no, she’s wandered closer to the tracking dome, silly dog. I’d better go get her.


Something you can’t see from far away is the neat tile pattern on the dome.

Even up close, it’s hard to see without a little enhancement.

Aly reminds me that the tracking station is also right next to the beach, in case I’d forgotten.


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She really can nap just about anywhere.

Random assertion: Tracking rockets is complicated and expensive. If someone’s doing it, stay out of the way.

Steganographic data: 1836/5.3

Published in: on August 11, 2008 at 9:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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Days 46-52: Island Mêlée

The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) is a set of 10 huge radio telescopes, distributed around the western hemisphere. Their combined effective resolution makes this array the most powerful telescope in existence. My muse has an assignment which takes us to the eastern-most telescope in this array.

You can see the telescope in this photo. Too bad it’s in the Caribbean. Yep.

We’re posing as a married couple on vacation (tough assignment), and we’ve got tickets and passports to support it. Swimsuits, sunscreen, the works.

Day 46: San Francisco->Miami->Puerto Rico->St. Croix

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Less than an hour after landing on St. Croix, we’re at the beach.

Less than 10 minutes after we get in the water, I step down on a sea urchin, sliding long purple spikes deep into my foot. Cool.

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No luck getting the spikes out, so we call a local doc. He says “We don’ pull them out, no. If you come into here, we jus’ give you a patch and some tape and say sucks for you today. Don’ worry, have a beer, they dissolve in a few days.” It turns out he’s right. The beer’s excellent, and by the next day, it’s easy to pretend it didn’t happen.

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We’re guests at a house where the tropical breeze feels perfect. Thank you Dr. Fox!

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We’ve got excellent hosts, Susan and Ed, showing us around the island. This island has changed ownership so many times that its history is a mishmash of fun stories.

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Walking around town is fun, but sacking out on the beach is more fun.

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There’s nothing hiding in this uninteresting little patch of sand.
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There’s no urchin on the menu, but dinner by the water is a good way to relax.

On our fourth day, it’s time to get down to business. The telescope is just a mile or so from Point Udall, the Eastern-most point in the United States.

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She doesn’t offer any details, and I don’t ask, but in a few hours it’s all done and time to disappear to a completely empty beach.


Completely. Empty.
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When we’re sure no one’s followed, we head back into civilization, taking in some some sailing and fireworks.

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The next few days are full of golf, snorkeling, more sailing, more empty beaches, and some casual acrobatics.

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And then… suddenly… MANGO MÊLÉE!


It turns out that in this case “mêlée” refers to a wild chaotic party, not actual combat. We figured that out just in time. It’s still a lot of fun, though.

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Alexandra is awesome. She’s been up since 3am cooking the best goat stew on the island. She sets us up with more fantastic food than we can finish, and makes our last dinner here a brilliant home-cooked meal.

Day 52: St. Croix->Puerto Rico->Los Angeles->San Francisco …and we’re home.

Random assertion: It’s possible to go a whole week without even seeing a keyboard. I recommend it.

Steganographic data: 1892/12.6

Published in: on July 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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Day 25: Bodies in Motion

I’ve really been looking forward to this. The Renner Gallery is open!

For the next 7 weeks, some fantastic work is on display on Market St. between Castro and Noe.

John Renner is (you guessed it) an acrobat.

The photographs by Gregory Bartning and Mark Jenkins are astonishing. There are some intriguing close-up botanicals, and many extraordinarily powerful male and female nudes.

Several of the models are good friends of mine, and it’s amazing to see how Gregory and Mark capture them. In this work, “artist” can refer person in front of the camera, as well as the one behind it.

I’ve done flying trapeze with John for more years than either of us is ready to count. We’ve actually traveled and performed professionally.

Before seeing the gallery, I stopped here for breakfast and a nap.

…and after, met a good friend (an expert in software engineering, saber fencing and crime fighting in general) for dinner. More on her later.

Tomorrow: Time to get out of town for a few days.

Random assertion: Art is not about what you could do; it’s about what you do, and how others react.

Steganographic data: 1860/5.0

Published in: on June 11, 2008 at 7:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Day 12: No Distractions

After an excellent sunrise in the city…

…the sky clouded over, and it looked like it might rain. Aha! Cool. Finally time to get some heads-down work done. No beautiful weather, no buried ships, no distractions.

I take care of a few things first, and just as I’m about to get started, I see the weather’s beautiful again. I really need to get some computer-work done, so without allowing myself to be distracted at all, I waste no time and head straight to the beach.

Pillar Point hides some excellent secrets, but I’m not equipped for exploring today. There are some pretty good non-secret beaches as well, perfect for bringing a book and a towel and forgetting the computer.

On the way back, I stopped to quietly photograph this completely normal and uninteresting patch of dirt.

Wednesday is usually flying trapeze, but tonight I attended the screening of a horrible movie instead. I’d mention the title here, but I can’t get myself to type it without smashing my head on the keyboard.

I got home late, but my muse got home later. She had a meeting after work with Alex, a young good-looking heavy-machinery expert in Palo Alto.

Random assertion: If you want an intelligent woman to tackle you, cook for her. And be on a first-name basis with your florist. As far as I can tell, these things work.

Steganographic data: 1874/1.5

Published in: on May 29, 2008 at 8:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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