July 28th, 2012

Pointless Arrow

Into Training

I'm composing this post while on board the Amtrak Capitol northeast of Berkeley, having caught the train in San Jose this morning for the trip to Sacramento. The on-board wi-fi works, although it's spotty and slow and I wouldn't suggest trying to use it for anything more intensive than reading e-mail, Twitter, and such. I doubt it would hold a VPN connection for long, for instance. But complaining about that is like complaining about the grace of the movements of the dancing bear, so I'm content.

I hadn't noticed until today that the Capitol has added a new stop between San Jose and Great America: Santa Clara Caltrain. The station there has been rebuilt to three tracks with a pedestrian underpass so it's possible for the Capitol (and ACE) to stop there without fouling the Caltrain line. The ACE stop had been "suspended" for several years during the construction, while the Capitol never officially stopped there, although I know of cases where they'd made a sort of courtesy stop to save someone from missing a connection. Now it's an actual scheduled stop.

I had taken light rail from my apartment to downtown San Jose, but had I known about the new stop, I might have walked a few blocks the other way and caught the free #10 "Airport Flyer" bus from Metro/Airport light rail to Santa Clara Caltrain via San Jose Airport. That would have saved me a $2 light rail fare. Possibly I'll do that on the way back on Sunday now that I know about it.
Olympic Logo

The Games

While I'm happy to be on the train and looking forward to checking out the Hilton Arden West, site of Westercon 66 (a hotel I last visited during the early 1990's Eclecticons), I do admit that there's a part of me that would rather spend the entire weekend holed up in my apartment in an orgy of sports-watching of the Olympic Games.

I watched the Opening Ceremony (about ten hours after it happened) last night, and I did enjoy it. I am probably one of the few Americans who recognized without the help of NBC's commentary (which I didn't hear as I was on the phone at the time) that Kenneth Branagh was portraying Isambard Kingdom Brunel. I'm trying to imagine Americans revering engineers that way. It seems unlikely to me that the Brooklyn Bridge would have the words "J.A. Roebling, Engineer" engraved in letters you could see from far away in the style of the Royal Albert Bridge.

I love the parade of nations, and was amused that the parade was going so fast that the NBC commentators could not keep up with all of their notes on the various countries. I also hadn't heard about the Indpendent Olympic Athletes, which seems like an interesting development to me. I'm bemused to read that IOC rules claim that you have to be a "sovereign state" to have International Olympic Committee status, given that there are several sub-sovereign units competing, like Puerto Rico, Guam, and Hong Kong. However, I guess it's hard to expect the IOC to be consistent about anything.

I was surprised to hear that NBC cut out parts of the ceremony. I would have figured that if they were bowing to right-wing political pressure, they would have removed the NHS segment, not the 7/7 tribute. Was it just to fit in more commercials? If so, and since the whole thing was on delay anyway, why not run the whole thing a half-hour longer?

Adventures in Transit

I have photos of my travel from Sacramento Valley Station (Amtrak) to the Sacramento Hilton Arden West (site of Westercon 66), but have not uploaded them yet. I want to get the story down before I lose track of details.

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I think that if we really expect people to come to Westercon by this route, we need to talk to the hotel about just which station we should tell people to come to, and make sure that the shuttle bus drivers know where they are headed.