Slept in (patchily) until midday, met up with Lev, Della and Kai at Beacon St / Mass Ave intersection at 2pm. Pizza at Beacon Hill, good stuff. This sparrow was doing a taste-test of the bacon Lev pulled off the pizza before taking whole bits back to it's nest, which was in the small park next to Boston Common, where we were sitting.
I'm happy travelling on Air France: they had good seating arrangements, OK food and good service, which made it easy for me to sleep through most of the flight. It was foggy in Paris, but not too cold. The International Herald-Tribune, that offshoot of the New York Times much beloved of the English-speaking traveller, tells me that the Norwegians are getting lazy due to too much oil-wealth. Amazingly they've managed to eclipse Sweden for taking the most sickies. I'll never comprehend why Rogardt moved here.
I lost most of the day due to timezone changes.
We set out in the early afternoon in an attempt to see a bit more of northern California. Penka had heard good things about one of the beaches, so we headed for it via La Honda, a tiny place in the middle of a forest, where we stopped off for lunch. We ran across Sam McDonald County Park (named after a guy who did the grounds at Stanford for fifty years) and went for a bit of a wander.
San Gregorio Beach was interesting. They charge $US5 to use the carpark, so there's an illicit spot on the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 84. It was foggy as all hell, and I had a lot of trouble believing this was the same Pacific Ocean that Sydney is on.
We headed down to Santa Cruz on Highway 1 after this. It's a really pretty drive, and if I had the time and money and company and all that I'd love to do it from end to end. The city is also great, very relaxed and quite small. The Lonely Planet really let me down here, though, in suggesting all these streets that weren't that splash. All you need as a tourist is on Pacific Avenue, and it's great. We went to the King and I Thai for dinner, and it was as good as everything else I've had this week. Makes me want to look into who's working at UCSC…
Drove back to Stanford and headed out for some drinks with Penka 's mates: a couple of Indian guys, a Serbian girl and Andrew, the token American. We started (and ended) at The Rose and Crown, which I'm told is one of the better bars in Palo Alto. The bar service was excruciatingly slow but they have a good range of beers to make up for it (I can tell you Fat Tire Amber is good). The pubs close at 2am here, a mixed blessing.
We all headed back to Rains afterwards. Penka , Rajat and I didn't sleep so that I could make it to SFO to catch my flight. These two thoughtfully gave me a lift, which allowed me to space out a bit earlier than I had in mind. I have decided that America West sucks pretty hard, even more than Ryan Air.
Another day in San Francisco. Caught the CalTrain, walked up to the info centre on Market St / Powell to get a map and some directions. The way to get to Haight-Ashbury is on the bus, it seems. I found it to be much like Newtown: quite a few interesting shop fronts containing pricey and not so great merchandise.
Ventured into Forever After Books, on Haight; I suggest you ask Google about it. Bought a couple of books by Tom Wolfe: The Pump House Gang, which was published on the same day as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test back in 1968, and The Right Stuff, which is about the moon shots. I headed down to Rockin' Java Café, had an iced coffee, and checked out Amoeba Music next door. I bought Spearhead's Rock The Nation single, randomly, and a shop t-shirt in loud purple and fluro yellow. I read with interest that Paul Kelly was playing at the shop later in the month.
In summary, Haight (from Ashbury down to the park) has one decent cafe and one decent music shop. It's well past it's prime in my humble opinion, at least as a random-person's hangout.
Walked up through Golden Gate Park to catch a bus to the start of the Golden Gate Bridge. Penka 's flatmate had told me that walking across this particular bridge was akin to walking through a cloud, and she wasn't wrong.
The funny thing with this bridge is that it's easy to get a bus to the southern end, but there's hardly anything at the other end that will take one back to San Francisco. I spent more than an hour waiting for one at a really tiny and hard to find stop halfway down one of the streets. The directions I got were accurate, but I didn't have enough faith in them. Also the tariff increases quite steeply from one end of the bridge to the other.
After that I got what turned out to be a crap Thai from Thai Stick on O'Farrell St, which I ate it in the kid's playground a bit further down that street.
Popped into the Virgin Megastore on Market Street and bought Midnight Oil's Diesel and Dust (Danny reckons this is all you need) and Head Injuries, their first album.
Had a tea at the organic supermarket and read the New York Times for the day. Caught the CalTrain back to Palo Alto, took a straightfoward but not-too-short path back to Rains. Penka was out drinking with her mates, so I took the opportunity to get some rest.
Got out of bed late, headed down to the Green Library, had lunch at the Law School courtyard, sent some email, did some blog updates, wrote some postcards.
Used Internet Explorer to read my email. Google gives you back a
different first-hit for
mindterm signed applet than for Netscape, which is both interesting and useful. For some reason the
csbnet.se domain is not responding, though.
Played frisbee with Penka and her friends in the evening, followed by a barbeque. The locals started playing poker at 11pm (Texas Hold 'Em with a $US5 buy-in). One of the guys was practising for Vegas and did quite well. I left around midnight but it kept going until 3am or so.
I walked up the eastern side of SF a bit, south of the ferry terminal, and grabbed some lunch at Pier 38. This was the first freshly cooked hamburger I'd had since I left Australia. I figured the tourst-trap Pier 39 would be nearby, but it wasn't, and upon reading the map more closely I learnt that the pier numbers are randomly assigned, it seems.
On the advice of a road worker I caught the tram up to the big BART / tram / bus interchange on at Powell / Market St, and started walking up through China Town, past Union Square Park, heading for the renowned Columbus Avenue in North Beach.
Columbus is a big fat street running roughly north west from China Town. Not knowing how far I had to walk, and keen to try the local product, I stopped off at the San Francisco Brewing Company, purveyors of ales brewed in-house. I wasn't so impressed, and the great thing about California is that one can be quite particular without having to settle for nothing…
It turns out that my goal — the City Lights Bookshop, the famous old beat hangout — is just a block or two further up the road, right across the street from Larry Flint's Hustler Club, and some other red-light-ish places as well. I had to buy some books, of course:
- Howl and other poems - Allen Ginsberg.
- Sometimes a Great Notion - Ken Kesey.
- Pnin - Vladimir Nabakov.
This place is cool enough to have the entire upstairs room devoted to poetry. I asked the girl behind the counter if they had any Allen Ginsberg spoken-word stuff, but she was pretty unhelpful. I was specifically after a version of America that Dave played for me a long time ago. It's backed by a Tom Waits tune, and I had hopes the rest of that CD would be just as good.
Afterwards I went next door to the Vesuvio café for a coffee. Their espresso machine was broken so I had to make do with an American drip coffee.
From there I walked further up North Beach to Telegraph Hill, which has a great view of the city. There's a tower there but I didn't go up it.
Telegraph Hill is quite close to that other tourist trap, Pier 39. I was keen to go there only to check out the sea lions, which somehow find the place attractive. It's the wrong time of year for that sort of thing as most of them have migrated. Perhaps these stragglers were too lazy to go this year…
As I'd organised to meet Penka in Berkeley, and I wanted to spend some time wandering around there, I caught a tram back to the Market / Embarcadero BART station, or at least tried to: it confusingly stoppped two blocks before it for no apparent reason, but it was close enough. I also tried to call Penka , and was thwarted by these American telephones. Fortunately catching the BART to Berkeley is easy enough, so I got on the one leaving around 4.20pm for $US3.05.
Alighting from the BART, I managed to call Penka with the help of an American native, and organised to meet up at Ethiopia Restaurant on Telegraph Ave at 19.30. Wandering up Shattuck Ave I almost-immediately stumbled upon Games of Berkeley, which surprisingly had Sus's game in stock.
The UCB campus is quite pretty, with loads of trees and nature areas adjacent to the creek that runs through the whole place. There's some pretty decent hills out the back. I had hopes of seeing a stately old computer science building, where the old BSD hackers did their thing, but it seems the department has moved semi-recently. It's a bit denser than Stanford, but is otherwise similar modulo more greenery.
Berkeley itself was a bit tame as the students weren't there. I intend to go back and buy a tie-die t-shirt; one lady selling them on the street for $US16, which seemed pricey.
Read the day's San Francisco Chronicle, and it's not bad as far as these American newspapers go. Penka got a bit lost in Oakland (these streets are very long and the numbers reset at various points along them), so we didn't meet up until 20.30 or so. The food was quite interesting, somewhere between Middle Eastern and Indian.
We headed back to Palo Alto via San Francisco and the Bay Bridge. I was pretty whacked by the end of it.
I intended to spend the day wandering around the Stanford campus, and so made a beeline for the Herbert Hoover Memorial Building that dominates the middle of the campus, and promises a good view of the area.
My Lonely Planet promised me the Rodin Sculpture Garden was worth a visit, and indeed it was. I was somewhat confused (in my naiveté) to find that the works had been created in the nineteenth century, but these particular casts were done in the 1980s, and so while I didn't expect the sculptures to be originals, I also didn't expect to have my notion of originality challenged in this way.
I had to find the infamous William Gates III Information Sciences building while I was here. It's pretty bland, much like you'd expect. I had some lunch at the Bytes Café in the Allen Centre for Integrated Systems (CIS).
Headed to the central library after lunch to try to read my email. The Stanford library computers are ancient and run some antiquated version of Netscape on Windows 95 or thereabouts. I managed to find a signed version of the Mindterm SSH applet which can connect to arbitrary machines using the cruddy JVM built into Netscape.
I also did some hacking on Koen's old Typed Logical Variables; I wanted to see if using a type-level recursion operator would allow me to get away with just a single, generic variable constructor (rather than one for each type, fudged over with a type class). The short answer is that it is, although I'd need to do a lot more work to complete it. Drop me a line if you're interested, it's quite simple in the end.
For dinner we took a look along the main drag of Mountain View but ended up coming back to Passage to India on El Camino Réal, a big fat road connecting the southern bay towns. We hung out there, chatting away, until it closed and then headed back to Rains.
Got up at 5.30am, caught the bus to Harvard Square, the red line Boston T to Park St, green line to Government Centre, blue line to Logan. America West is at terminal B, but the canned announcement on the bus (that connects the T station with the terminals) didn't mention them. The terminal itself is badly signposted, and when I got to the security point I got special treatment for not taking my laptop out of my backpack. Of course it's too much trouble for them to list what will get one specially treated. Logan has wireless but you have to pay for it. Overall, it felt like a real mickey-mouse operation.
Got into SFO ontime, met up with Penka there around midday. She did a few loops before we met up (saw her once, she took the departures lane the next time, then we met up). Drove back to Palo Alto and went to the quite pleasant Siam Thai for lunch on the main drag, and had a coffee at Cafe afterwards. Did some food shopping afterwards.
The bit of the Bay Area I saw was mostly low-rise, and quite spread out. I guess this is due to the possibility of earthquakes (although I'm not sure how bad they get up here). It means that everyone has a car, and the highways are fat.
Walked up to the Dish Recreation area late in the afternoon, and we were lucky to get out just after it closed, at 20.00. Penka tells me one can get fined for staying there too late.
Penka lives in Rains, a rather pleasant set of buildings on the Stanford campus housing grad-students. The closest approximation I've seen to the campus itself is CSU at Bathurst; it's a real campus, with housing, playing fields, lecture theatres, research centres, etc. etc. all in a self-contained semi-isolated area. This contrasts to those in Boston, in particular MIT and to a lesser extent Harvard, and also to Oxford. Chalmers is a bit of a hybrid, but is too small and moreover is an engineering school, so it doesn't really figure in these calculations.
One problem with having a new camera is that the image counter has reset and so I have to either rename the old photos or do write a script to rename the new ones as I download them. I finally got around to writing such a script. It turned out to be quite easy to make use of the date stamps on the photos to generate the image tags in the appropriate blog entry files as well. This is assuming the date on the camera is correct, of course, which is not easy with all these changes in timezone. Interestingly the PowerShot A75 seems to know when to rotate images when displaying them on the LCD, so I'm curious to see if there's a way for gPhoto2 to tell me about this.
Did my washing using the facilities in the basement of Lev and Della's place, which must've been repaired since [link 2003-12-31 last time]. Played some Playstation soccer with Lev, then headed down to the Trident Café to use their wireless.
Wandered down to the park near the Common, read Thursday's New York Times, read the state-behavioural Esterel semantics, which turned out to be quite simple as they simply reduce the problem to the constructive-behavioural semantics that I'd already read. There was a couple getting married in the park so I got to listen to some cool harp playing for a bit.
Spoke with Penka and organised to meet up at SFO tomorrow midday.
Last day of CAV 2004. Got out of bed quite late. have to send Penka a "what-do-I-want-to-do-in-SF" list soon. Missed the invited talk by Mary Jean Harrold, and the entire first session. Sampada explained the CRSM tools to me a bit, and some semantics / Promela generation.
Took ages to get lunch.
Not paying too much attention to the talks today, crowd has dwindled, final session Hardware Verification looks interesting though.
Met up with Delvin and Kai at Omni Parker House Hotel, headed to the Montien Thai Restaurant & Lounge, good food, $US50. Back to Loews on Tremont St to see Fahrenheit 9/11 [link 2004-07-03 again] (or properly, if you prefer). It seems the version we watched had great scads missing, so it was worth it. Started 20.10, fire alarm went off at 21.40, everyone left the building, fire brigade / police turned up, seemingly false alarm, they resumed it sometime after 22.00.
Got out of bed at 7.30am and skipped the shower to make it to Tom Reps's talk on three-valued
logic for program analysis. His goal is to design the
static analyses, and I (passively) wonder just how this is going to
work. Still, it's good to see that Gérard Berry was ten years or so ahead
of the game when he used constructive logic to analyse Esterel programs.
These are two views from the Omni Parker House Hotel. It's surrounded by other taller buildings on three sides, so this is all there is to it.
The afternoon session was all about the fine details of abstraction; BDD-like structures that suit some domains better, ways of reducing the number of variables in state vectors, ...
Lev, Della, Kai and I had dinner at Fire + Ice. The setup is that the customers select the ingredients of their fry-up, and the cooks in the middle of the place do it for you. Apart from making a big dint in my bank-balance, I'm not sure what the point was. Still, the food was good and atmosphere not too cheesy.
We all walked back to the Hatch Shell for a free open-air movie: Holes, featuring Patricia Arquette. It's a not-so-good western / desert / delinquent movie. The Boston T tonight seemed a bit dodgy. It skipped stations from Harvard Square to Alewife. We got home late, and I watched Lev play some Playstation until well after midnight.
Managed to get out of bed around 7.30am, and on the surprisingly efficient Boston T I got to Omni Parker House Hotel around 8.40am to find that the 8.30am session hadn't started yet, which was good. I was a bit surprised that they didn't have coffee on offer, though, so I had to suffer until 10.00 before I could get a fix.
The second session was about model checking techniques. BMC, petri nets, … Refinement seems big. There were also lots of talks about decision procedures for arithmetic inequalities.
My talk went OK, nothing special either way. Byron Cook said he wanted to look further into the dining cryptographers protocol, a nice piece of feedback. Ron seemed happy. We'll see how the demo goes tomorrow.
Walked down to the Common afterwards with Prof Ramesh. I must point out that Sir himself asked that I take the photo on the left. Note the beautiful symmetry.
The conference banquet started at 8pm, not 7pm as advertised. At all other times we had to pay for our drinks, so Rajeev Alur gave us each a voucher so we had something to do while we waited. I spoke with JNuke author Cyrille Artho. At the dinner itself I managed to get a spot between Ron and Rob Kurshan, on the same table as Amir Pnueli and Vardi.
I spent most of the night talking to Kurshan and found him to be like his book: you get a well-considered answer, but often it's not to the question you asked or were interested in. Nice guy, though. I asked him why so many people left Bell Labs recently and got the story from the original antitrust action back in the early 1980s. He seemed to appreciate John Kerry's small-target approach, saying it was George W. Bush's election to lose.
More interestingly he reckoned the big decline in employment standards in the US is due to the application of operations research to the running companies after World War II. The logic was roughly "we've just won a war using this approach, so it must be a good way to run things in general". Kurshan is now working for Cadence on the bowels of their verification tools.
The first day of CAV 2004 proper. I was too slow in the morning to photograph this Boston native. David Harel gave an invited talk on combining statecharts with Flash to generate reactive animations. I found it hard to see what was novel about this given that the Haskell community has done a lot of work on Functional Reactive Animation and similar things over the years. I must have missed something, or perhaps the biology angle made it novel, I dunno.
The most interesting talk for me was about just what vacuity is — roughly when a property holds in a system for the wrong reasons. The classic example is for an antecedent to an implication to be false everywhere. Several people wanted to argue with the speaker afterwards, which I guess is a good sign he was doing interesting stuff.
Helped Prof Ramesh and Sampada with some data transfer. Spoke with Ron about tomorrow's talk. Had yet another Maccas for dinner. Caught the Boston T home, got in around 9pm. Played some Playstation soccer with Lev. Touched up some slides for the talk.
I decided in my wisdom that the tutorial on processor verification would be worth going to (read "paying for"), so I turned up a day early, registered and met up with Jan-Willem. Prof Dill was sick (or his wife was sick, or something like that), and so was replaced by Robert Jones from Intel. I found the whole thing pretty interesting as it was presented at a fairly high level with some details. Strangely enough Haskell seems to fit their hardware description language wishlist pretty well, and perhaps Ruby-style language that supports refinement will be rediscovered as people begin to take the correct-by-design approach more seriously.
Ron gave me a set of slides that he suggests I use as a basis for the talk. Now, to polish them up...
The Software Suspend for Linux seems to be working fine, after quite a few suspend / resume cycles.
Della and Lev interviewed Karen, a lady in her early 30s who has an eight-month old daughter, as a Tim-replacement. She's by far the best yet and the thinking seems to be that she'll get the guernsey.
Went for a wander around Lev and Della's part of Cambridge with the tribe in the afternoon. Caught the bus into Harvard Square, then the Boston T to Park St to meet up with Ron at 18.00 at the Omni Parker House Hotel, site of CAV 2004. It turns out that this trip takes about forty minutes, and the hotel is quite close to Park Street station, so getting there is no big deal. I'll put this to the test on Thursday, when the 8.30am sessions start.
Ron and I discussed the talk I'm giving on Thursday; he has given a lot of talks about MCK recently and has a specific idea of how he wants this one to go. I am broadly in agreement with him, but still have to work through the details.
I had hopes that the hotel would have free wireless for the conference, but it looks like that's not going to happen — as you'd probably expect, they bill you for every little thing.
Went out for dinner afterwards at Faneuil Hall Markets, some Tex-Mex place. Had a sliced-up steak with onions and capsicum.
Lev and Della's friend Katie came over in the afternoon, and all of us headed down to the local kid's playground on Huron Avenue. I think Kai will have the best-photo-documented babyhood of any person on the planet.
On the advice of the locals, we headed down the Avenue in search of coffee. The Full Moon Restaurant will only sell you a full meal these days, so we ended up at Sarah's Market and Café on the corner of Huron and Concord, a supermarket with a surprisingly good hang-out area out the back.
Bought some Otter Creek Copper Ale beer. None of the people who came to see the place seemed too promising. Attempted to cook a psuedo-green curry for Della and Lev. Watched Bad Santa and played some basketball (just for variation) on the Playstation with Lev.
I found out that Newbury Street, between Mass Ave and Copley Square, has loads of free wireless access points, a practice kindly and wisely encouraged by Tech Superpowers, Inc. However, as is probably the normative case for these things, I found the signal at Trident Café to be good but the bandwidth almost intolerably low, at least for sites outside the US. This being America, the café needs some way of limiting the time that punters can linger without consuming something, and so they don't have any power points[footnote I get laughed out of the room when I say this, both in the US and Europe; "socket" and "outlet" are the (only) acceptable terms.] accessible to the public. My laptop's battery is a bit dodgy and isn't trustworthy beyond about ninety minutes, but I managed to do about an hour of work on the slides for my talk on Thursday.
In the hope they might let me use their power points, I went in search of the internet café that helps install all these wireless access points further down the street but couldn't find it. I ended up sitting in the public park near Boston Common and finishing Holden's Performance. Met up with Lev, Della and Kai as planned and meandered down to where the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company were putting on a free performance of Much Ado About Nothing. The show went until 11.00 or so, and Kai slept through most of it.
Tried out the new Software Suspend for Linux patches (2.0.98); it seems to
work for a couple of suspend / resume cycles. This will come in handy at the
conference. One last mystery: why is Debian bringing the wireless
up on boot? It is not marked
auto or under the control of the
Lev and I took Kai down to the park. Of course he's too small to use any of the equipment by himself, but he seems to enjoy a mild amount of swinging and slippery-dipping.
Caught the bus to Harvard Square at 2pm with Lev, Della and Kai. Everyone on the street went ga-ga over Kai, blokes included. We headed down Mass Ave vaguely in search of Sus's game; I tried The Games People Play on that street near Harvard Square, but the guy wasn't very helpful.
We walked to MIT in search of The Compleat Strategist but couldn't find it. At Lev and Della's insistence I called them up and got told they're in Boston (not Cambridge), and moveover didn't have the game in stock.
We continued up to the Boston Common, where Lev, Della and Kai headed home in order to interview a possible replacement flatmate for Tim (who's heading back to Oklahoma to be with Adrienne and Isella). The guy didn't show.
Went to Faneuil Hall Markets in search of Sus's game, but that shop must've closed recently. Had a $US4 Sam Adams beer at Ames Plow Tavern on the corner of the building running down the middle. Read the New York Times for Thursday, in which I found the following:
Australia: Kangaroo Hazard
Canberra residents were warned not to bother kangaroos that are bounding through their streets in search of food. Wildlife authorities said the kangaroos are being driven by hunger from the drought-stricken countryside into the city. Last week, a woman was attacked by a kangaroo while walking her poodle, and another woman said a kangaroo drowned her golden retriever in a pond.
Tried to find another shop on Congress St, but it must've closed too. Had a Maccas for dinner, headed back to Boston Common, stumbled upon Brattle Bookshop on West St near the Common with some funky artwork on the walls:
The squirrels in the Common are even tamer in summer than in winter; if you make some squirrel-like noises they think you're going to give them a feed or something and come right up to you.
Lev finally has an internet connection at home, and even if it only a dodgy dialup to Boston University. I'm super happy to be able to read my email semi-conveniently. From his point of view it allows him to work at home, and hence spend more time with Della and Kai.
These traffic lights are my favourites in all the world: as hardly anyone uses them they promptly change when the button is pushed. Instant gratification. Unfortunately the traffic doesn't always stop in a timely fashion, though.
Fell into the old trap of buying the day's New York Times, just to see what's going on in the world.
Well, the insomnathon seems to have worked. There is a strong wireless signal at Charles de Gaul airport, but I can't make use of it (hardly a surprise). I have had about six (strong) coffees now and have been awake for twenty-four hours. Bought a litre bottle of Kahlua for €15; it's the American stuff, only 20%, but still seems cheap (Later: On reflection, this isn't so cheap; I think I bought this stuff for $US17 or so on my way back to Sweden last time.).
Some (probably several) lucky blighter missed his connecting flight to New York and so got to spend the day in Paris. It's a shame the weather is crap today.
I realised at some point that I hadn't properly configured the new Linux kernel (2.6.7) I compiled the other day, so I did this while waiting for the delayed flight to Boston (they told us in advance so it's not a surprise, just another two hour wait).
Got into Boston, got my bag in record time, had a pleasant passport control guy interview me, got on the blue-line Boston T, headed to Government Square, changed to the green line, got to Kendall Square to meet up with Lev at CNS. Bought some bagels. Gave up waiting for Lev, headed to BestBuy to get a new camera (and bag, etc.). Found my old iRiver can now be had for $US180. There's a Red Sox game on, meaning Kendall Square is choked with cars and hustlers of all stripes.
Lev's gone fully vegetarian. Cooked up a lentil soup, way too much salt, and had a vegie pizza from Starmarket.
My books and CD had shown up at CNS:
- Conversations With Salman Rushdie - edited by Michael R. Reder.
- Proof, Language and Interaction: Essays in Honour of Robin Milner.
- Earth and Sun and Moon - Midnight Oil.
so I was pretty happy.
Finally got to sleep.