The gas station of the future, a Tesla super charging station in Kettleman City California

At some point in the future places like this will replace gas stations along major roads. Here, rather than pouring gas into your car, you hang out and wait for your car’s battery to recharge. While I’ve seen individual electric vehicle charging parking spots, and even some sponsored by Tesla…  This was the very first time I saw a Tesla super station.

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I counted, this location is capable of charging 40 cars simultaneously, and also has two spots dedicated to handicap vans… plus a few window washing things scattered around, should you need to do that.

The “station” also has a waiting area that I couldn’t get inside of because I’m not a Tesla owner (I asked saying I just wanted to take pictures, but they said no), but I could see (through the windows) and they had come complete with a coffee shop, with a staff member working the cappuccino machine, as well as what seemed to be free bottles of water and/or various other drinks plus some snacks, all of which are available to Tesla owners as they wait for their cars to charge

Computer History Museum: Mountain View, CA

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California, is a relatively new museum that’s still finding its legs. It is a work of love the houses donations not only from corporations, but from the individual movers and shakers of the bay area (the guys who actually invented the stuff you use today) who donated items from their garages and attics — as in some of them are friends of mine and I remember when this place first opened up.

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One of my favorite people on the planet, I guy who I’ve known for over 20+ years (I knew him when was still an un-tenured professor in Chicago — we used to be dance partners at a country western bar in Chicago — he’s had four books on the New York Times best seller’s list since then), who I wanted to catch up with while I was in town (he’s become impossibly hard to contact since his success) suggested that we meet for lunch at a South American place called Voya located in Mountain View — we had ceviche which was ok, and a few other fish things… didn’t think it was anything to write home about and I was paying more attention to being with my friend than the food… so no review

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(I got his Uber driver to take this photo of us before he took off — I think our last photo together was at his wedding) … ANYWAY… AS I got there a bit early … while waiting for him to arrive, I was walking around…

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you know you’re in the Bay area when….

when I realized that the computer museum …. (one of the jewels of the bay area) was directly across the street …. A place I have not been to in about 16 years… So after he went back to work I went in for a visit.

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By the time I had shopped the gift store, gone to the bathroom, took my purchases back to the car (in part out of fear that my windows had been smashed — see below), yadda yadda, yadda….

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It was already was already 3:30 in the afternoon and instead of having to pay $17.50 to get in (YEESH, that’s EXPENSIVE) I only had to pay $10. You’ll notice this is NOT advertised on their sign. In fact I was utterly clueless to it and just got lucky … the guy who was working the front desk… who had seen me earlier while I was scoping out the gift store

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Whole sections of the store are devoted to women in the sciences stuff, or stuff geek girls might want…  so I got very buy-happy/excited
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Why yes I did get the bumper sticker, why do you ask?
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And of course I got the geek girl jewelry (am now the proud owner of the hoop earrings with fuses hanging in them –these are the sort that are hidden in cars and appliances), and a few other pieces made from computer parts
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That said, NOT ONE of the t-shirts for sale had a V-neck or scoop neck collar, so I didn’t get any of them (which made me very sad)

… HE assumed I had timed it intentionally, calling me a “smart woman” for doing it; but I swear, it was just dumb luck.

That said, there are two sections to the museum, the first one is to the left of the check in counter where you buy your tickets. The other is off to the right, between the counter and the gift shop. The first section, left of the counter, is mostly devoted to temporary exhibits (more than one) while the other is the permanent collection.

At the time I went one of the temporary ones was devoted to a brilliant woman who was not really awarded her just deserts in her lifetime due entirely to her gender… Ada Lovelace

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Lovelace is considered by some to be the first person to fully recognize that the computing machine had applications beyond simply doing calculations, wrote a paper that included an algorithm on this topic, and is as such considered (by those who support her) as having been the first computer programmer (software engineer, versus hardware engineer… and “never the twain shall meet” (for those who don’t know, engineers tend to be one or the other, only VERY rarely are they both).

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The other ‘temporary’ exhibit seemed to be more of a rotating one devoted to any and all of “newest” computer driven technology trends (well, the ones that are public anyway), everything from computer graphics, to texting, to medical technologies (like MRIs) to…

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…the currently oh so sexy topic of fully automated cars. These would be the next step forward after my Subaru which has saved my life more than few times already by spotting potential accidents that I fully admit that I utterly would have missed (or not as the case might be) but for its warning me of them. My car, however, I still have to drive, in the future… a technology which is already visible (in its testing phases), at least on the streets of the Bay area…. is completely self driven cars.

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Pics I took of the testing of “self driven cars” on Bay area streets

This exhibit talked about the not to distant future (hopefully) where they’ve managed to test all the bugs out and fully self driven cars are ready for prime time (a future that I for one look forward to, as I’ve never been one to drive for the fun of it).

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This included side topics of how they are able to now utilize the computer graphics from the previous room create virtual car crashes. Virtual testing allows manufacturers a much cheaper way to test every conceivable sort of normally inconceivable crash, rather than actually smashing up a car. As some of you know, they used to only test two or three different sorts of common crashes; virtual testing allows them to reenact the uncommon ones, as well as test what might happen in those relatively unlikely cases with the newer cars, not yet on the roads.

IMG_0312Additionally, as self driving cars rely a great deal on computerized maps, they also had a small exhibit showing just how advanced this has become… presented by Google Maps

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And there was also segment devoted to Wikipedia (which anyone reading my blog knows I’m a big fan of)

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Indirectly the Museum was exhibiting something it never talked about directly, but which I’ve NEVER seen before and hence was VERY aware of… i.e., a new technology for use in museum presentations

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Now that said, One of the things that impressed me was an innovative sound management system that I’ve not seen anywhere else.

If you look carefully at the picture below you’ll see a woman watching a video in the middle of wide open space… this is pretty unusual although you might not realize it… normally movies are presented in cordoned off areas where the acoustics can be easily controlled. What’s even more unusual is from where she’s sitting the sound is completely clear and distinct, almost to the extent that it was like wearing headphones … or as though it were the only sound in the room, like in a movie theater. YET, from where I took the picture, you can only barely hear what she’s listening to at all.

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How you ask? Well… look above her head and you’ll see there is small white square hanging from the ceiling… That’s where the sound came from… Now, logic dictates that it’s some sort of directed speaker that produces very directed sound waves. As in, she can hear it loudly and distinctly without it annoying someone a few feet away (where I was standing). From there, it merges into a sort of white noise created by the various soundtracks all running simultaneously but without the effect of cacophony of sound, like you get in other museums.

You can’t see it, but right behind me was a different video, with the same set up, with its own sound track, that in no way interfered with the experience the woman in the above picture was having. Now let’s face it, I go to a LOT of museums and I’ve never seen this technology in use before. I have no idea how much it costs but I hope to see it a lot more regularly from now on. It rocked…

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Returning to the museums itself: On this same side of the museum there they also have regular demonstrations of the OLD IBM mainframe computer systems that used to process things like company payrolls, first introduced back in 1959, which had been given the catchy name of the IBM CMH-1401

IMG_0305The demos are given every few hours by actual retired former IBM employees, whose jobs had been to keep the 1401 running in its heyday (read the signs below)IMG_0306

Interestingly, they do so to large throngs of very interested young programmers… keep in mind this was about 3:30 on a Wednesday, not one child or family unit in the room.

IMG_5202These all looked to be young programmers (most were between 23 and 35), new to the bay area (possibly)… and you could tell the older retired engineers were really happy to be so appreciated by the younger generation of engineersIMG_0304At the end of the demonstration you could create a punch card with your name… which I did, and receive a custom printed … on a HISTORIC printer … that says you visited the place (as you can see I was there on September 5th, 2018).

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After this I went to check out the permanent exhibit: This is in fact my 2nd time coming to this museum. The first time was about 16 YEARS ago in 2002 (the year I finally completed my dissertation) while I was still living in the bay area and was invited to the grand opening event for this ‘new’ building for the collection… by friends who had donated various contents from their garage to be shown in here … in fact I knew more than few people at that event who were all there for the same reason (donating objects to the collection). I have to say that at that time the museum was HIGHLY UN-impressive… Since then, major upgrades have occurred and it’s clear they have hired a fairly decent curator to organize the thing, and while it’s still imperfect, it is now quite IMPRESSIVE, although imperfect.

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It starts out logically enough with “ancient” tools for making calculations (as in ones my dad was using 50 years ago), like slide rules, abacuses and maritime tools… and then moves on to things like

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Calculating tools that helped during World War II, back when women who typed in the all the data were called calculators, to innovations of the 1950’s

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there’s discussion of stops and starts and lateral moves as various technologies came up and then quickly died as someone else came up with a more elegant solution

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And there’s discussion of the problems women had entering the male dominated field… to techs that I remember using when I was in grad school (20 years ago)

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I particularly got a kick out of the video game section which talked about these on-line Unix based games like rogue and dungeon crawls where if you got far enough in the game you were allowed to contribute a dungeon section that you had coded yourself to the larger game… but it meant you had to learn the language C++ in order to do it… which drove a lot of players to learn to code.

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… and there were also the more passive games, where you just a customer, like Pac-Man (which my brother excelled at) and pong. IMG_0299IMG_0327

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One of the things that I did NOT like was just how easy it is to get turned around and lost in the maze of exhibits.

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Look at the map above, even there it’s like, “HUH” … unlike most museums there’s no clear path, it’s like a bit like a  giant fun house maze

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… to the extent that there they have had to place massive markers on the floor to direct you around … markers that if the museum were well laid out shouldn’t exist. That said, I can SORT of see a justification for messy layout, in that innovation and the connections between technologies isn’t a straight forward thing. Innovation goes backwards and side-ways and every which way… but a museum really shouldn’t do that.

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I mean look at the above space, really look at them, and tell me if can figure where you’re supposed to go next in terms of the layout of the exhibit. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to it… and seriously, I got kind of lost in it. I almost never get lost.

The future is ALMOST now…or what’s normal in the SanFran Bay area is freaky everywhere else

You know you’re in Silicon Valley when… Didn’t happen to run into any of these in while attending my friend’s 50th wedding anniversary in the North Bay (i.e., north of SF) but as SOON as I got south of San Francisco …. BOOM… these suckers seemed to be everywhere ….  Google’s beta test versions of self-driving cars (i.e., the car drives itself) … there are testers seated in every vehicle who are there to make sure it doesn’t do anything stupid or kill anyone, but for the most part these cars are driving themselves.

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They’re easy to spot because of the radar type things on their roofs.

Welcome to the future!!!

That said, I wasn’t there but a day when I noticed one of the “hiccups” in the system of these new cars… as of today, they drive like your 80-year-old grand mother… in particular the one in the upper right hand picture was in the left turn lane and took for bloody fucking ever to make up its mind that it was in fact safe to make the left turn.

I’ve seen this happen more than a few times now, and then I heard a TV commentator talking about how drivers in the south bay are starting to get pissed off at the Waymo’s blocking traffic in left turn lanes.

The pics I took while NOT driving, were taken on a quiet suburban street in Sunnyvale, not far from Google headquarters…  outside the home of my friend where I was staying for about a week or so… Every day, almost like clockwork…  this Waymo showed up, would pull to the side of the road, stand there for a bit, then go on its way. One day I ran out (grabbed the pics) and got the girl inside to roll down the window. I asked her WHY were they doing that. She said, “I have no idea, the car does what it wants to do, I just sit here and take notes.”

A few days later I went to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California and saw this display on the topic, about the not to distant future (hopefully) where they’ve managed to test all the bugs out and fully self driven cars are ready for prime time (a future that I for one look forward to, as I’ve never been one to drive for the fun of it).

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A new (to me) sound technology I’ve never seen in a museum before.

Spotted this innovative sound management system that I’ve not seen anywhere else at The Computer History Museum in Mountain View California. I talk about it as part of a blog post about that museum, but I think it’s worth its own mention (and not buried in something much longer).

If you look carefully at the picture below you’ll see a woman watching a video in the middle of wide open space… this is pretty unusual although you might not realize it… normally movies are presented in cordoned off areas where the acoustics can be easily controlled. What’s even more unusual is from where she’s sitting the sound is completely clear and distinct, almost to the extent that it was like wearing headphones … or as though it were the only sound in the room, like in a movie theater. YET, from where I took the picture, you can only barely hear what she’s listening to at all.

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How you ask? Well… look above her head and you’ll see there is small white square hanging from the ceiling… That’s where the sound came from… Now, logic dictates that it’s some sort of directed speaker that produces very directed sound waves. As in, she can hear it loudly and distinctly without it annoying someone a few feet away (where I was standing). From there, it merges into a sort of white noise created by the various soundtracks all running simultaneously but without the effect of cacophony of sound, like you get in other museums.

You can’t see it, but right behind me was a different video, with the same set up, with its own sound track, that in no way interfered with the experience the woman in the above picture was having. Now let’s face it, I go to a LOT of museums and I’ve never seen this technology in use before. I have no idea how much it costs but I hope to see it a lot more regularly from now on. It rocked…

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force: Dayton, OH

You wouldn’t think one of the best FREE museums in the world would be in nowhere Ohio, but you’d be wrong. If you’re even marginally interested in flight, technology, engines or just history, The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is amazing. I enjoy this place so much that this was my second time coming here, the first time was by myself in September of 2009, the second was July 23, 2018 with my travel buddy, Mik.  Let me remind you that the Wright brothers, who are the ones usually given the credit (cough) for having invented the airplane, did so in Dayton, Ohio. And, that is probably the reason why this is located in the Wright-Patternson Air Force Base.  (That and the fact that it IS the middle of nowhere means land prices are very low.) Be prepared to devote a few days to it (I suggest a minimum of three)… and like the Smithsonian, it’s FREE (your tax dollars at work).

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two photos on left are 2009, right is 2018

Also, having been to both museums twice, far as I’m concerned the Smithsonian’s Air and Space in D.C., can’t really compete; it can’t, it hasn’t the space.IMG_2809.JPGNote the photo in the 1903 photo bottom right (above) is the same airplane in the photos below, that’s one of the great things about this museum, they don’t just have photos of historic models, they have the actual airplanes (and according to their website they’re all kept as much as possible in perfect ‘airworthy’ condition. fullsizeoutput_424e.jpegThe Air Force Museum in Dayton is HUGE; it has close to 900K square feet of hangar space within which its planes are displayed … according to Wikipedia it’s the largest military aviation museum in the world… it has to be, they currently have around 360 different aircraft and missiles on display, including most of the Air Force One‘s not in usage, and the number will only grow. What I tell my friends is if it historically relevent, belongs to the U.S. Air Force, and the Smithsonian doesn’t have, it’s probably in Dayton.IMG_2812In addition, it is a REALLY well curated museum, that tells a very easy to follow story of the history of flight (as it pertains to the military), and does so in a way that keeps you engaged and willing to come back for more …. and they have actual examples of EVERY plane they mention, full size sitting right in front of you.fullsizeoutput_4252.jpegThis is one of my very favorite museums anywhere… and I’ve been to a lot of museums. I liked it so much I’ve been to it twice. I feel that it has something for everyone, it’s about history, war, technology, etc… As an example, I had been trying to convince my travel buddy to come here with me, but he kept saying he had little to no interest in flight technology…. as it turns out however he’s a big fan of engines, and for almost every type of innovative airplane they would have a display showing the engine it used (so he was very happy).

 

IMG_2814In addition to all of the engines, which made my friend happy… the museum includes all sorts of memorabilia from flying squadrons, to keep the interest of folks who aren’t interested in technology at all, but might enjoy human interest details.IMG_2815.JPG

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There’s a hallway of the museum devoted to Dayton locals who survived the Holocaust

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A different hallway devoted to WWII airforce art, like the bomber jackets, and the designs on airplanes (giving them personalities, and keeping track of how many bomber raids they went on)

IMG_2820A hallway devoted to the Berlin Airlift after WWII, when the Russians tried to strangle hold part of the city. IMG_2818IMG_2560

The first time I came was in 2009, when for family reasons I found myself stuck in Cincinnati for a few days. My brother had been to this museum once before, and STRONGLY suggested that I rent a car, head North, and go to Dayton once I got bored with what Cincinnati had to offer. I ended up coming here three days in a row.

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I then returned in 2018 with my travel buddy, because I was coming from Chicago, had a spare week to fill before heading off to Pennsylvania, and as a fellow geek I felt he’d really enjoy this place (and would never have come here on his own). That said, I the more I see of Dayton the more I think that I would happily came back to here for a third extended stay (one of my one month trips) in order to take the place in, in full, at my leisure.

For the two pictures above of the thermonuclear bomb, my 2009 visit is on the left, while my recent 2018 visit on the right…. The major change seemed to be the placement of the Mark 41 sign (not a huge change)

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The picture above is 2018, while the parallel image from 2009 is below (top left image) … the rest are all from 2018… not much has changed in this exhibit (I image moving intercontinental ballistic missiles –ICBMs– isn’t all that easy to do)

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Then and now, one of my favorite sections of the museum is the collection of Airforce One airplanes. The first time I went this was located at the very back of the museum, where there were normal quick construction airforce hangers (the sort the military can put up in a few days during war-time rather than actual buildings) that were, as such, FULL of natural light… (something that is NOT considered a good from an archival point of view, since harsh sunlight can cause things to fade over time) that were absolutely crammed full of the newest of the high-tech airplanes (that weren’t secrets anymore) that they had to display. I was told by a docent that they had plans to build a fourth building to house them in the near future (by my 2018 it had been done)

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2009, crammed together planes in a hangar

Behind these most recent high-tech airplanes they had just sort of lined up next to each other, the Airforce ones planes.

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Where by 2019 they were in a darkened structure that had to lit artificially

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The first plane I went into was the plane made especially for transporting Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), who as we all know was paralyzed.

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Between 2009 and 2018, I found two major differences in the first Airforce One plane display (the one Roosevelt flew in). Firstly, in the President’s office part of the plane, in 2009 they had a Roosevelt manikin sitting in his office

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while in 2018, when I visited the same plane I found it had been removed. Note the white decoration on the drapes for evidence that it’s in fact the same space (sorry for the lousy 2009 picture, my digital camera then, and it was a camera — not a camera in a phone, was nowhere near as good as the camera currently in my 2016 iPhone SE)

IMG_2826Additionally, at the back of the plane, where the elevator was located, in the 2009 version a wheelchair was located in the elevator, which included a sign explaining the use of the elevator…. (top two photos below)

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But when I returned in 2018, the elevator well was empty… and I didn’t spot the wheelchair till AFTER I’d already left the plane, and spotted it sitting on the ground in FRONT of the elevator’s cage.

The next plane was flown by both Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) and in the very beginning of the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

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in this one I found a MAJOR change… firstly, in 2009 the cockpit came with tags attached to the plexiglass explaining who was sitting where

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Which had been removed by the time of my 2018 visit… but LOOK AGAIN, they had refurbished the chairs and changed the color of the leather???? From a historical standpoint, WTF????

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ALSO, in 2009 there were mannequins seated in the plane while in 2018 they were gone. (Note that Truman was at a special presidential desk while Eisenhower wasn’t) During Eisenhower’s tenure, he also got a new plane…a Lockheed VC-121E

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The final airplane, a Boeing VC-137C, was flown the longest of all the Airforce One planes, for almost 30 years before it was finally replaced, from the Time of John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) all the way through Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

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In this plane I was unable to spot any differences between 2009 and 2018

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By the time we were done with the presidential planes it was almost time to go (the place closes at 5pm) but we managed to fit in one last plane, one of the transport planes that took soldiers to Vietnam, and nicknamed by them as the “Hanoi Taxi”

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Oh, and I’m adding one last photo, this was from 2009: I really wanted to do this again in 2018 but we didn’t happen to find it… that said we were only in the museum for about 5 hours… nowhere near enough to do it justice and see everything

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Me in 2009, you stood behind it and put your head up into the helmet

World Largest Gavel? Columbus, Ohio

The “Gavel” is a whimsical piece of outdoor art by Andrew F. Scott, that some are on the web have declared the World’s Largest Gavel (although I’m not sure that’s true). According to CivicArtsProject.com it is 30 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 12 feet high… so pretty frigging big! IMG_3076.jpgIF you’re in or driving through Columbus it’s worth a stop see, in part because it’s located in a man-made pond/water feature located adjacent to the Ohio Supreme Court building.

IMG_2573.JPGI searched online for verification that the “Gavel” was in fact the world’s biggest, but other than it being called such by various websites (of the tourism variety) I didn’t find anything from let’s say the Guinness World’s Records people verifying it such.

Anyway, the Ohio Supreme court is a rather impressive building and worth looking at in its own right

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The tower in the distance is the LeVeque Tower, the 2nd tallest building in the city

and it is right next to a very pretty river walk area, along the Scioto River. That and parking in the area was really easy to find — we arrived at about 6pm and had NO trouble at all finding a spot.

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I loved the bunch swings

I didn’t really come to see Columbus this trip; rather my travel buddy and I were visiting Dayton, OH (about 1.5 hours away) and we arranged to have dinner with an old friend of his who used to live in San Francisco, but now lives in Columbus with her family. We’d arrived about a half hour early, so he said, “we’ve got a half hour to kill, what do you want to see?” (He was driving.) I quickly pulled out one of my travel apps Roadtripper, which allows you see what’s around right now, as well as plan in advance, and pretty quickly spotted this — and we all know how much I love big things.

The Shrine of Christ’s Passion: St. John, Indiana

From the little I was able to see, this Passion of Jesus and the Stations of the Cross  attraction (the whole thing is free) — things that I, as a nice Jewish girl, really only know about because I spent a few weeks teaching social studies at a Private Catholic grade School in Chicago (teaching 5th, 8th, and highschool history and economics) … during Lent is a massive garden devoted to the story of Jesus — with a few other things thrown in,.  That said, I was expecting The Shrine of Christ’s Passion to be more over the top than it turned out to be… it’s actually rather tasteful… from the little I saw

That said, I didn’t managed to see more than a bit of it, nor was I able to appreciate the what I did see in full due to a horrible traffic leaving Chicago that DOUBLED the amount of time it took to get here … I was supposed to arrive at 3:30, but instead arrived about 10 minutes before it closed at 5pm …. So I had NO time to explore the MASSIVE gift store (seriously massive) before heading to the main event of the place…

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Moses on the mount, with the burning bush off to the side

When I first arrived, it the weather was cloudy and dry, but you could still see blue sky, so I went to first see Moses on the mount (above)… cause you know… Moses…otherwise, I know, this is not someplace you’d expect a nice Jewish girl to go, this is SO NOT something Jews tend to do — idolotry anyone? But I love this sort of stuff — I mean come on… they advertised as having a 33 foot tall steel lady!!! (never saw it)IMG_2235

and then I entered the Jesus section and it started to rain, but lightly at first …. The first Jesus thing was the last supper… Every tableau came with a recorded “acting out” of the scene — the sound system at this park ROCKED… they have spent serious money on it.

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For the “Garden of Gethsemane” tableau you pushed the button at the entrance to a cul-de-sac type layout, and the loudspeakers were spread in such a way that you could walk through it at your own pace without missing any of it.

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When I got to Jesus being condemned the rain was starting to come down harder, but I was determined to not turn back…

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I made it through a few different stations of the cross, at which point I was starting to get soaked through and my iPhone’s touch screen stop working making it impossible to take photographs, even though it was in a “water-resistant” Otterbox case — at which point I gave up and headed back to the car….

As SOON as I was at my car, the rain stopped and the sky blued up…. almost like the powers that be didn’t want me seeing the Jesus stuff

(googlemaps not working for some reason, try this link)

Observations about Australia

One thing I’ve learned: the Australian government offices have the good sense to set up customer support booths for various services that need to be completed on-line, and they do it in city malls (next to basic needs things, like grocery stores — which are ALSO located in said malls)…. how brilliant is that?!

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In addition, a lot of the post offices are ALSO in these same said malls (buy your gifts and send them without having to leave the cool embrace of central air) … I’m thinking with the way malls are going in the US currently, maybe our government/postal authorities should be thinking about doing the same thing. Just saying.

And a 2nd thing… Just like in Canada, pretty much every point of sale in Australia allows you to tap your credit card to pay (instead of swiping like in the USA). For folks who are using credit cards, they still need to put in a pin… but for those of us using our phones, or the Apple watch, no such 2nd step is required (because the pin or thumbprint we have to use to open said devices is functionally the same second verification of ownership).

Shop staff here in Australia are used to the credit card and pin (which is the norm in most of the rest of the world — US is behind on this), and have gotten somewhat used to people who use their phones instead, but I’ve lost count of the people whose faces have lit up with delight and “wow, I’ve never seen that before” or “we’re in the future now!” or “COOL!” at seeing me do it with my Apple watch.  EVEN drink machines at train stations accept a tap from my apple watch! So no more digging for coins, or having to break up larger bills… in fact because of the fact that tap us used almost EVERYWHERE here in Australia, during the last few weeks I’ve only accumulated THREE coins in my pocket!!

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And as someone who has a LONG habit of losing her credit cards (a trait that is particularly painful when traveling internationally), the fact that I’ve only had to pull that sucker out of my wallet twice in the last three weeks has made my life SO much easier and more secure.

 

I love my Apple watch – series 2, part 2

More thoughts on why I love my apple watch

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Back on June 14th I wrote about my love for my new AppleWatch; today, slightly over two months later, I have some additional thoughts.

Firstly, as much as it was one of the features that made me think the watch would offer me some of it’s $600 value, the fact is that over the course of the three+ months I’ve had the thing, the ONLY time I have used the ‘remote camera triggering feature‘ has been when I was testing it out. I’m sure a point will arrive where I’ll make use of it, it’s just not something I appear to use often enough to be worth $600.

ApplePay on the watch, however, is proving to not only have a massive “cool” factor… so much so that even employees at the Apple Store — the LAST folks you’d expect this from — look marginally surprised and slightly awed when I use it there, while ladies at the grocery store are floored by it… it is also proving to be insanely practical.

I was just in Canada, where almost every store that accepts credit cards (a lot don’t, and demand either cash or Canadian debit cards, NOT U.S. or other) will have the “tap” technology (where simply you ‘tap’ the card’s chip to a sensor instead of swiping it, or sliding the chip into a device) built into their point of payment device. This includes gas stations, coffee houses, grocery stores, etc., pretty much ever chain store… and the ‘tap’ process operates WAY faster than the other two options. With both of the other two systems you have to provide a written signature or a pin number… with the apple pay they payment just goes through sans that extra step … so that it’s ‘tap and go.’  I have found that even if the card scanner does not explicitly STATE that it takes apple pay, IF it accepts ‘tap’ 9 times out of 10, at least in Canada, it WILL. This means I can payed for almost everything WITHOUT having to bring out my wallet, or my iPhone. Instead I just used the watch, which is already out and firmly strapped to my wrist… so that the wallet and iPhone (which I might mindlessly lay down and forget, something I’ve done before, or forget to take back the credit card, which I’ve done to often to count) remains safely located down in the depths of my pockets (I tend to wear military surplus camouflage pants these days, which have infinitely large pockets) or at the bottom of my purse (so no pick pocket is sure where said items are located) … and even IF someone should hold me up and manage to steal my watch, they’ll need the unlock code to be able to use it.

THAT, and according to my friends who know about this stuff, apple pay is more secure than using the card itself, as it generates a unique code for each transaction.

The fitness apps.

Just last week I was at Pennsic (blog post is in the works, groan, I’m so behind) and there was a woman with an “animal assistance” dog… tiny little terrier. Now SO many people had shown up with their pet dog dressed up in a “working dog outfit” which is easily available from Amazon, that it was getting ridiculous. Not to mention it was dead obvious from the behavior of said animals that they were NOT in fact trained for said task (one such german Shepard tried to eat so many of the other helping animals that they had to put a muzzle on him). A woman next to me asked said woman which kind of assistance animal the tiny terrier was, and the woman ‘barked’ back (irritated) “he’s a mobility animal.”

Point being, your apple watch is JUST as effective as that tiny terrier at getting you to walk and most definitely costs less (although it won’t lick your face). This is particularly true if you share your information with all your friends who also own apple watches… as an element of competition and not wanting to be seen as lazy kicks in — granted not as strong a motivation as the dog peeing on your couch or chewing up the house in boredom and frustration…. but effective. Except for days when I was sick or injured (my knee for instance is currently bunged up and in a brace) or driving cross country… I have managed to meet all my exercise goals since buying the watch…

I love my Apple watch – series 2

On April 24th, 2017 I finally gave in to peer pressure and bought myself an Apple watch series 2… and I am LOVING IT! Read on to see why I finally decided it was worth the cost (after MUCH resistance), and why I am loving it now.

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For the LONGEST time I just didn’t see the point.  “You want me to pay HOW MUCH for watch?”

Now granted, it also keeps track of steps and heart beats per minute… but so does a Fitbit for about 1/2 the price.

So — while I’ve mostly only ever used Macs (my first computer back in like 1989 was a Macintosh Plus)…. and while most of my best friends are all Apple users, or at least the ones who know enough about computers to know better — to the extent that I have any number of friends who are or used to be high level engineers at the company… and I am friends with, heck for a short time I was even housemates with, Danial Kottke — employee #3 at apple back when they were still working in the garage (this would be the guy who Steve Jobs used to get stoned with but who he ultimately refused to give stock options … if you know your apple history)

ALL that said, I have …. since it’s the pre-official release order period began on April 10, 2015 … been resisting buying an Apple watch. Till quite recently I had not been convinced that the watch was going to be worth the around $600 it ultimately cost me… I mean “hey, really, what does it do that my iPhone doesn’t?”

Ultimately a few attributes finally sold me on the watch…

Firstly… I REALLY did want an item that would keep track of my exercise for me (just good food choices was hitting the bottom end of it’s effectiveness in terms of getting back to good health). And, while the iPhone DOES track your steps (most folks don’t realize it, but if you go to the phone’s health app, even WITHOUT owning an apple watch, the phone will do this: just click on activity — the image of the bicycle — and be amazed) it does NOT keep track of ALL your movement, so it can’t give you accurate idea of how much you burn on a daily basis.

A Fitbit would keep track of complete energy burn (within a margin of error of course), but the one I decided I would ultimately want, only cost around $250 less than the apple watch. So, the question then became, what did the apple watch have to offer that was worth and extra $250 to me?

The first thing I found was, the apple watch comes with an app that will connect to the iPhone camera and act as remote control for taking pictures… as in you can set up the camera some place, SEE the same image it does while … but while looking at the watch’s face, and then take a picture. As someone who is always wandering around by myself taking photos… that has a value to me… maybe worth $25 to 50 to me…. so not $250

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A photo of me using my brand new watch to try to take a photo of myself with my iphone, which was propped up across the room

Then after much humming and hawing I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a new computer (the mid 2015 macbook that still had the magsafe power cord). MY computer had been an 2011 macbook pro, which had served me well while teaching in S. Korea, but that had ultimately started to slow down and began to have ‘issues.’ After Dad died I took possession of dad’s 2013 macbook pro, and gave my brother EVERY OTHER piece of mac equipment dad had (none of it portable to drag around the country with me). I then made my old 2011 the backup computer and relied on dads for daily use. Then Dad’s computer bit the big one, and a very good friend who (for a living) writes the training manuals that professional apple support staff read in order to learn how to do their jobs… yah, he’s a HIGH level apple geek… was kind enough to move the hard drive from dad’s computer into an EVEN OLDER than my 2011 one, that he had lying around the house…. so the 2011 once again became my main, and this newer drive in a much older computer became the spare.

So clearly, time for a new computer. After I bought it I discovered that with these new computers, if you’re wearing your apple watch you don’t have to type in the security code every time you wake up the computer… the watch will unlock it for you. NIFTY! But let’s face it, that’s worth may another $20 to me… I can always type the code in myself, it’s a pain, but it’s sort of like buying a remote control to save yourself from getting up off your ass to change the channel. Kind of counter productive to the whole trying to force myself to be more active thing.

And then on April 22, 2017 I finally read THE ARTICLE that finally cinched it for me… an apple watch attribute that was most definitely worth $250 to me… so much so that while reading through it I said to myself, “OH, ok, WILL be buying the apple watch THIS week!”
The apple watch has a “HELP!!! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” feature. The article, titled, “How Apple Watch can now literally save your life” explained how on the side of the watch is a button… it is the same button you are supposed to press in order to power down the watch… if you double touch on that button it pulls up apple pay…   
however … and not one friend had mentioned this to me…
starting in June 2016 they added a feature where if you hold that button down and KEEP holding it down, the watch (assuming your phone is near it) will call 911, and you can talk right into the watch to tell them what’s wrong… no struggling with the iPhone, unlocking it, finding the phone app, finding dial window… and hoping your not unconscious before you actually dial 911… here all you have to do is press the button and hold…

And WAIT, that’s not all! The watch will send your GPS coordinates to emergency services automatically, AND it will forward to them all your medical information (allergies, etc).

It will do this NO MATTER which country you are in (keep in mind that while a few countries use 911, not all of them do — here’s the list) … so if you’re in Japan, and you don’t know WHAT the number is for their emergency services (it’s 119) … it does not matter.

AND on top of that, the watch will immediately contact all the people you’ve chosen as emergency contacts and tell them something is up, and where you are (allowing them to figure out which are the nearest hospitals you might get taken to, etc).

As a single woman traveling alone… this was INVALUABLE!!!  $250?! SURE, it’s a STEAL at that price… hell as far as I’m concerned it’s worth the whole $600 and every other feature is icing on the cake. The only downside is you DO have to have the iPhone near you… even if it’s down at the bottom of your purse or deep down in a pocket… if they make one that will call 911 sans the cell phone, I’ll buy that one too.

So the next day, I kid you not, I was at the local apple store trying to decide between the two sizes of Apple Watch screen 38mm designed for women, or the bigger 42″, since I was going to be using it with my camera I figured bigger might be better even if it looked funky on my wrist. The previous night I had also read something about women who had the 38mm (and trying to use it for MORE than just time) complaining that the screen was just too small and that those 4mm of difference from the men’s size were actually important in terms of it being useful as more than just a watch.

So the Apple sales person assisting me in making my decision, and was trying to find a iPhone camera in the store that we could try with one of the in-store Apple Watchs, so I could decide if those few more inches of screen were worth the awkward sizing (I have TINY wrists, even for a girl). On that note, He was and extremely cute and completely deaf guy, and working with him was highly amusing. I think I sort of impressed him by how I barely batted an eye at the fact that he was deaf, and we had a lot of fun as we type back-and-forth to each other on his iPad, while using pantomime where possible.

Other than that I had decided which watch I wanted, based on weight, color, water resistance, and which crystal face I wanted (ever style watch uses different materials, so there are pros and cons for each). I wanted the LIGHTEST one possible, with a scratch resistant watch face that didn’t have a lot of reflection to it (making it easier to see in daylight)…. which happily enough also happens to be one of the cheapest ones to buy. With it I opted for the white sports band.
From the outset I intended to buy leather bands from eBay, but started to read about how some of these much cheaper bands ($12 to $40+ for the apple ones) don’t always hold the watch securely and if the watch drops to the floor and crashes from one of these, your apple warranty won’t cover it… so apple bands it was. But I’ve started to buy them in multiple colors and mixing and matching (sometimes I do one half white the other half black, etc). The other day one of my old TA’s turned me on to the fact that for this month only (because it’s pride month) apple was offering a pride watch band on their website, so I bought one. I have SO many gay friends…
As to why I’m loving it… I started out using the Mickey Mouse watch face because… well me… you know, lover of all things Disney, has held a Disney pass for two years now… etc.
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But once I got more used to watch and learned how to use the settings and stuff, I actually now only use that watch face when entertaining little kids. Instead I use the one that help track your movement… A constant visual reminder that I haven’t done my 30 minutes of aerobic exercise yet…
I also love the sharing function…  I currently share my exercise stats with six friends… know what they have done vs what I have done keeps me moving… and that there’s a potential boyfriend on the list doesn’t hurt either. I find myself checking my movement stats like some people check sports stats… and watching my daily moment numbers go up is gratifying, as is the ease with which I seem to be able to do it as long as I keep at it…
Happily I’ve not had cause to use the 911 function… other than to show it to other people. Knock on wood, no evil eye… hopefully I’ll never actually need it, but having it there gives me some peace of mind.