Riding the Train

I have long enjoyed riding the train. There is something soothing about the sound of the wheels on the track. The stops, people getting on and off. What is their purpose for traveling? Why did they choose the train?

My first experience with Caltrain was when I was fairly young, probably 8 or 9. I had a step brother who lived in San Francisco, and I would visit occasionally on the weekend, so my mother would drop me off at the Sunnyvale station, and I would ride the train to San Francisco.

(Yes, this may seem odd today, but I assure you that it wasn’t weird, and didn’t seem dangerous at all in the early 1970’s.)


My next major experience was when I started traveling internationally. If you go to Japan, you pretty much live and die by the train schedule and map. You very quickly learn to navigate, and figure out the timing to get to your destination.

Ah, Shinjuku station, the busiest train station in the world, at rush hour. It is a sea of people you find yourself swimming with.

Europe also has outstanding train service, giving you options to get from city to city in comfort, at a fair price.

The reason for this reminiscence? Wednesday, I took a sojourn to a tradeshow in San Francisco. Naturally, I took the train. Got on early, so I got a good seat, and watched the whole trip. You see plenty of things if you are observant.

Lots of graffiti. Every vertical surface along the track is coated in colorful graffiti of various artistic quality.

Sad: Homeless encampments. Never saw this before, but an inevitable sign of the times.

Fun: Kids heading to school. From south San Jose, there were a few kids headed to Bellarmine, and on the way home, plenty from a girls Catholic school in Menlo Park.

Nasty: There always seems to be a person with bad body odor.

The pace of travel is sedate, and you can’t control the speed, so you succumb to the mode of transport, and enjoy. I do like train travel.

Fleabag hotels and internet

In this day and age, pretty much every hotel has free wifi. Woo hoo. However, there is a nasty nasty trend. Shitty free wireless that sucks just enough to make you want to pay for the faster service.

Yes, the standard wifi is free, but it is so often bandwidth capped, and metered, so that surfing the web is painful. There are long resets and time outs, that will drive you bonkers.

And your corporate VPN? fuggedaboutit. It will fail. Either it will never handshake, or it will stall and you will never get your email.

Of course for a few bucks ($5 – $15) you can upgrade to the pro class of internet.

Sigh. We are camped out at Extended Stay America, and yes indeedy, they have this same ploy.

Apartment Living – Maintenance

There is one benefit of leasing an apartment (or even a house) that I was looking forward to: Your landlord is responsible for all the routine maintenance. No longer if the plumbing springs a leak, or a drain clogs, or a hot water heater dies, do I need to call a repairman or roll up my sleeves and get it fixed. Woo hoo. Or is it?

Alas, there are downsides. We have had a couple of minor issues, and one major issue. The minor ones were simple things (a broken door knob, and some irrigation issues at our old temporary place, and a broken built in microwave).

I suspect that if there was something urgent, the maintenance team would be very responsive, but anything else will take some time.

After living here for less than 2 weeks, our Microwave broke. Just stopped working. Checked the breakers, checked the outlet, alas, it was dead. Sigh.

Called the office. The next day their maintenance man came and tried the same things I did. No luck.

Sidebar: He claimed that it was “Brand New” and that it was installed just before we moved in. Total bullshit, as the plastic facade has been scrubbed with something like a 3M green scrubbie… Nice try to guilt us.

They ordered a replacement (the brand is Hotpoint, not a typical brand), and it would take a week to arrive.


Friday it arrived, but it was too late for them to replace it. So it will be Monday between 9:00 and 11:00AM.

It sucks to not have a microwave.

If it was at my house, where I owned it, I would have gone to Lowe’s and bought a new microwave the next day, and replaced it myself.

Why I hate my Windows PC

At work, I am blessed with a HP Elitebook 8460p (15 inch wide screen, core i5) laptop. It has OK specs, and I pimped it out to 16 G of ram.

But it is dog slow. We probably have 2 – 3 updates a week pushed to us that require a reboot. I have to save all my work, and reboot, and then wait. I have learned to open up the resource monitor and watch the disk get hammered.  For about 15 minutes after boot.

I know that Windows 7 is a lot snappier on similar hardware, but working for a fortune 500 company, with an eye on security, there is a metric shit-ton of stuff that is running including a full disk encryption package.

I am tempted to drop in a blank drive, install a fresh Win7 install, and see if that performs better. Probably, but it will be for naught, as I will have to go back to the original drive, image and configuration.