Saturday, June 09, 2007


Santa Cruz

It appears we have avoided another lousy summer in Alaska - the weather reports have shown clouds, rain and cool temps ever since we left. Whew! For our last few trips "outside" we'd had the opposite luck, leaving during some of the best summers they've ever had. As for us, our week in Seattle was great, with lots of sun and warm temperatures. We encountered a little rain during our two-day drive down to the Bay Area, but it has been sunny and warm here since we arrived.

Yesterday, in our second "How It's Made" tour, we took an insider's tour of Google Headquarters, where they make... um... well, lots of money. We ate lunch at one of their free cafeterias - an amazing variety of choices. The skeptic in me wonders how long before some management consultant advises Google that it would save $30 million a year if they cut out the free food. Still, as a committed Googler, I was duly impressed by it all - every desk has two large Dell flat-screen monitors, or in some cases one giant flat screen - enough to line up four full-sized pages side-by-side. We also drove by the Apple headquarters, but since Z's iPod was recently stolen, he didn't want to even look in that direction - "it's just too painful".
We also spent a day touring the city, riding the cable cars, walking along the wharf, etc. I wouldn't have minded spending a few more hours walking around various parts of the city, but bringing along a 4-year old limited our options.

We've parked the motorhome in Santa Cruz, which is an hour's drive from where B and his family live. There's nothing closer; with the high real estate prices, it is difficult to justify using land for an RV park where you could be building a bunch of million-dollar condos instead. The drive from here over to the Mountain View area is interesting, to say the least. Highway 17 is a winding 4-lane road over the Santa Cruz mountains. Of course the locals know the road quite well and seem to be quite comfortable driving at 70+ up and down the hills and around the tight corners. We've driven back and forth four times already; and I'm just becoming accustomed to it. Next time, I think we'll stay in Pacifica. Today we decided to stay put and do some minor maintenance and housekeeping on the motorhome - and enjoy the sun. I think they'll come visit us here in the afternoon.

Monday we'll head south.

It has been so nice seeing our grandchildren, especially that happy 6-month old boy who never stops smiling. I wish we lived closer, but that's probably not going to happen.

After taking a week-long break from my cello, I picked it up again several days ago. I have to roust Z out of bed early and send him to the back of the motorhome for a few more hours sleep, while I practice up front. I was surprised at how rusty I had become in such a short time; also at how quickly I got tired. But after a few days, I had pretty much caught up. Playing the electric cello with headphones hasn't been as difficult as I'd expected. Either the electronics are programmed to produce nice ringing tones when intonated properly, or my ability to discern the clean notes is improving. I'm still slogging away at all the pieces in the first two books (odd-numbered pieces on odd-numbered days, etc.) and I'm slowly tackling the two new pieces in Suzuki 3. I've started bowing the first one and am playing the first half of the second one pizzicato. My warmup drills now include F and G major scales into third and fourth position, and several intervals.

What lovely grandchildren! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

I love the idea of a Google tour. What is it about free lunch?! You must be in your glory with all that glorious weather.

Glad to hear that you've found some cello time. I'm contemplating taking mine along when we vacation at Lake George this year.
Ok Sarah and I must know... What does free Google food taste like?
Google has apparently calculated that if it feeds its employees "on campus" the employees will take much shorter lunch breaks than if they had to hike to their cars and drive several miles to find available restaurants. There are apparently more than 5,000 employees at their Mountain View headquarters, so it would take an awful lot of restaurants in the area to feed them all lunch at roughly the same time.

They also have laundromats, and so on, available for their employees.

The food was plentiful, varied, and excellent. BTW, breakfast and dinner are also available for those who choose to work odd hours. The fact that it is free is apparently a perk that keeps everyone on campus and at work. These perks will last only as long as all that advertising revenue keeps pouring in.
I've been enjoying your travel writings. Makes me want to get on the road myself.

I am so impressed that you are continuing to play Suzuki books 1 and 2, even while on the road. I tried for a while, but it is down to once every blue moon. Still it is a useful way to go back and take the old pieces to a higher level, adding vibrato, more expression, improved fingerings, etc.

It is easy to tire of them, especially if you linger on them for months the way I do. My flute choir is playing Gossec's Gavotte now, and I am finally far enough away from book 2 to think, "yes, indeed, this is a great little piece!"
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