Results tagged “Mountain View” from kwc blog

JetPens!

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jetpens_logo.gifI like Japanese pens. A lot. Last time I was in Tokyo, the Sekaido stationary store was at the top of my list of places to visit. I can't help it -- fascination for pens is the sort of thing that's ingrained in you growing up in Japan as half of your gifts are ultra-fancy pens. You come back to the United States and you feel impoverished in the land of Bic.

So, imagine my excitement when I found out that there is an importer of Japanese pens right here in United States. Mountain View, in fact. They have a Web site so I don't have to drive down the street and offer with free shipping on orders over $25. It even has tutorials on how to modify your pens. JetPens, how could you have eluded me for so long?

I received my care package today courtesy of Lily containing some of their top products. I haven't had much time to try them out but I'm already over the moon. Here's the rundown.

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  • Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel: the cool metal body meets a squishy grip for some of the comfiest, silky smooth writing I've experienced. It may not be the prettiest ink, but this is the sort of pen that's with you for the long haul, keeping that writer's cramp at bay.
  • Pilot Hi-Tec C 0.5: popular and precise, fine and finesse. The Hi-Tec C's aren't the most comfortable pens to write with, but performance requires sacrifice. I got an 0.5 but these puppies go all the way down to 0.25. If you've been wondering where you can find these in the United States, you have your answer: JetPens.
  • signobit.rice.jpgUniball Signo Bit 0.18: Uniball is just showing off here. I'm already a fan of the Signo line, but this is just ridiculously awesome. I was told it can write on a grain of rice -- long-grain/short-grain not specified -- so I tried it out on some Japanese short-grain. I was able to scribble out a 'kwc' before I ran out of room on the grain.
  • Hinodewashi Electric Eraser: I can decide if I like enough to overcome the embarrassment of using this in public. I mean, being too lazy to wave my hand to erase pencil marks? Oh Japan, what will you automate next? I was a bit surprised to examine its guts and find the same little electric motor that powers the Tamiya Mini 4WD cars. I'm tempted to purchase a more powerful motor to give it more oomph.
  • Uniball Signo DX 0.38: this is another pen I can see using on a regular basis. It puts out a solid, clean, dark black line and feels comfortable in the hand due to its rubber grip. It does offer a little bit of resistance due to the relatively small 0.38 tip -- you can get an even smaller 0.28 version.
  • Pilot Fure Fure Shaker Pencil: Shaker mechanical pencils rock. Instead of clicking a button on top, you just shake it to get more pencil lead. It's oddly satisfying. I was fascinated as a kid when I received my first shaker pencil. It was large and solid black, so the secrets of its mechanism had to be worked out by carefully listening as I shook it back and forth. The Pilot Fure Fure is much more compact and clear so you can be visually fascinated by the weight moving up and down.

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Bridge School 2007

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This year's Bridge School was a bit more low key than others. Eddie Vedder, Flea, and Jack Irons canceled late and were replaced with My Morning Jacket, which tipped the mellowness balance a little too much. The Saturday show was without the special moments that usually define a Bridge School concert, like Billy Idol and Neil Young performing together, or Tony Bennett and Paul McCartney. The local papers were begging for Bruce Springsteen to make a visit, but that was a pipe dream.

The highlights for me were the Tom Waits and Jerry Lee Lewis sets. Tom Waits performed with the Kronos Quartet, which was theatrical and beautiful, in a noir sort of way. The director gave Waits a Halloween-appropriate lighting scheme -- I'm hoping that the video I took came out decently well. Jerry Lee Lewis was also a joy to watch, especially the combination of innuendo and age. At one point his lyrics were, "twirl for me", which he accompanied with a comically slow gyration of his arms. He may be 72 years old, but he can still rock.

The Metallica was the headliner, but their set ended up being a bit odd. They opened with four straight covers, including Only Happy When It Rains by Garbage and I Just Want to Celebrate by Rare Earth. They then moved on to "covers of Metallica songs", which included Turn the Page, an official Metallica cover song. In other words, it was Metallica covering a bunch of songs, which didn't get the audience too engaged until they ended the set with Nothing Else Matters. You can already buy the songs from the Metallica Web site, which shows that Metallica has come a long way from its Napster days.

Fun local sites for burritos and more

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WalkScore lets you put in an address and it computes a 'walk score' for that address. More importantly, it tells you what all the good stuff you can walk to nearby is, though apparently "Welter's Fun House" at Apt. 165, 750 North Shoreline Blvd, is my nearest bar -- I should see if Welter is willing to live up to his bogus hack listing.

BurritoPhile hosts some of the most important discussion threads on the Web: which burrito joints serve carnitas with the correct balance of crunchy and moist texture. There's a nice bias towards the Bay Area and Mountain View is very well covered.

Zvents: I'm biased because I know an employee, but I went six years living in or around Mountain View without knowing:

  1. There's a Japanese Buddhist Temple in Mountain View
  2. It hosts an Obon Festival every year

I even go to the Safeway across the street from it twice a week or so.

The festival turned up when I search Zvents so d and I checked it out over the weekend, mainly to catch the Bon Odori dancing. I don't recall spam musubi being served at the Obon festivals in Japan, but it brought back great memories nevertheless -- I was surprised that I remembered one of the dances.

Photos of Mountain View Kwik-E-Mart

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Krusty O's and Buzz Cola are currently sold out, but the Mountain View Kwik-E-Mart was a fun visit. The whole store -- inside and out -- has been redone, and it should stay up through the end of the month. Maybe by then I'll be able to try some Simpsons merchandise, as the signs implore me to do. More photos if you're interested.

Squirrely election

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Dana Street Roasting Company has this amusing photo on their tip jar that I had to share. I've joked around with friends that squirrels will be the deciding issue for this year's local elections (three city council positions are up for grabs). The local papers have run amok with stories of the Cuesta Park squirrels attacking children: are they rabid? will Mountain View trap or kill them? are our children safe?

I can't seem to avoid squirrel tales in this area. First, there's the many apocryphal tales of the Stanford black squirrels: they escaped from a Stanford Lab, Jane Stanford brought them back from Italy, etc... the truth is that they are fox squirrels that probably migrated with the Transcontinental Railroad. Then there are the Xerox PARC squirrels, which are fond of eating the wiring out of cars (they are not alone). Then there are the SRI suicide squirrels, which sacrifice themselves on the SRI power grid to short out our power for the entire day.

Now there are the violent Cuesta Park squirrels attacking our children. Will we make them wear tiny GPS devices? Will we build a fence to keep the Stanford squirrels from entering Mountain View? Important election issues.

Remember to vote.

Bridge School 2006: Trent Reznor

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NIN at Bridge School

Photo from nin.com

This year's Bridge School was filled with many fun performances: older folks groovin' to Brian Wilson (probably the fan favorite of the night), Dave Matthews Band and Neil Young performing a 13-minute jam of "Cortez the Killer", an all-hands performance of "Rockin' in the Free World". But I think the show was stolen by Trent Reznor. Instead of muzak-ing up his music (e.g. the Foo Fighters performance), he got a special acoustical arrangement with string quartet and piano. It absolutely blows Still (NIN's previous acoustic effort) out of the water. I can't believe they did this just for Bridge School -- if they don't make an album out of that it would be a shame.There was the goose-bump raising "The Fragile", a jazzy "Piggy", a haunting, slightly eastern, "Something I Can Never Have", and beautiful versions of "Right Where It Belongs" and the unreleased "Non Entity". NOTE: I didn't actually know the names of most of these tracks, but I was able to look it up using the video I shot video of every song. I would upload the low-quality video, except I have no desire to lose my Youtube or GV accounts.

As for the rest of the concert:

  • Gillian Welch did a great song together with Neil Young did a great song together that I don't know the name of; David Rawlings did some nice guitar solos but d says he was "off"
  • Death Cab for Cutie was rather boring acoustic. I've seen better from them
  • Foo Fighters was overly muzak-y even if Grohl went through the effort of having songs rearranged for violin, accordian, etc...
  • Pearl Jam gave a good performance but nothing amazing (cover of Tom Wait's "Picture in a Frame", a brief "I Used to Work in Chicago" ditty, an organ-accompanied "Betterman", "Crazy Mary" with piano solo)
  • Brian Wilson had even the security guards dancing. It was amusing to see old and young alike breaking out their best beach dance mooves. Wilson had the crowd esctatic even if he seemed like an unhappy puppet forced to perform his past hits -- he walked off stage even before the last song finished.
  • Dave Matthews Band was good even if Dave Matthews was a bit hoarse and I don't like their music. "Cortez the Killer" with Neil Young was awesome and I'm grumbling at my camera for running out of battery with 30 seconds left to record (still have 12 awesome minutes of it). It was as good as his 2001 All Along the Watchtower jam with Neil.
  • Neil Young was good but isn't the best closer. It is his concert, so it's only fair that he can close out the 20th anniversary concert however he wants.

The goods news is that Bridge School is finally releasing more of their back catalog on iTunes (November 14th). I've long wanted to buy many of the unique Bridge School performances (Billy Idol + Neil Young, Paul McCartney + Tony Bennett), but their previous release of 15 tracks doesn't do justice to Bridge School's 20 years of concerts. I'm hoping that will all the hyping they did for the iTunes release that it will be an extensive catalog of songs (and videos) to spend all my disposable income on.

I'm covered

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Google has a map of the Mountain View wifi access points they've put up. They've also marked areas that aren't yet covered -- most areas are, and I'm glad to see that most places I generally go with laptop are in the green.

Moving, kwc.org possibly moving

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Wednesday is set for the day of my move from one side of Shoreline Blvd to the other. A detailed plan of attack for each carload has been drawn up; it should be glorious.

A consequence of every move I make is that kwc.org goes into identity reassignment. In the past, I have sometimes temporarily transferred some of the kwc.org files to movabletypo.net. Now that I have separated out my mythbusters and cycling blogs, though, it may be too much of a headache to do the brain transplant. Also, with the Tour de France set to begin, nothing short of the real kwc.org will do for the torrent of multimedia blogging that is set to ensue.

If you happen to know of a spare static IP address and line in Mountain View/Palo Alto/Sunnyvale that I can borrow for a week or so to hookup this server, please drop me a line. If you know of anyone at AT&T/SBC that I can bribe to not take the week or so they normally take to turn a DSL line on, also please drop me a line.

Starbucks Roasting Company

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First we almost lost Keplers, now downtown Mountain View is being taken over by the evil empire!

This entry sponsored by Google Romance: live happily, and contextually, ever after.

Great Mountain View Blackout of 2006

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Power went out on the north half of Castro Street in Mountain View last night. After taking an initial trip around the block to search for techies rioting and throwing chairs through windows -- all we found were people BookBuyers attempting to browse using flashlights -- parakkum and I returned back to Hope to retrieve my camera and warmer clothes. Witness the horror, the devastation, of absolutely nothing happening... in my flickr photoset:

Blackout Pouring light on the Blackout Blackout

Full photoset

Free-Fi

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Our little city of Mountain View is going to be the first city to receieve free city-wide Google wireless. Just think, I could convert my R/C to run off of 802.11.

Hope-ful Thanksgiving

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Apologies for the bad title pun, but parakkum and I just signed the lease for a townhouse on Hope Street (so long No Hope! The Curse is over!), about a block away from Dana Street Coffee. This location does present some problems, as the close proximity to my favorite caffeine dispensary may result in permanent tremors, and the close proximity to both new and used bookstores will leave me in literate poverty. Thankfully, the new Scientology center down the street can provide me with daily e-meter readings so as to correct any imbalances.

If you're hanging out on Castro Street in MV, give us a buzz.

I'm leaving tomorrow to visit my Aunt and Uncle. I shall return on Monday with photos from the Renoir to Matisse exhibit at LACMA and the USC/Notre Dame homecoming game -- my first USC home game, I'm looking forward to it.

Concert: Bridge School 2003

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I was wiser this year and didn't go at the very start, though I probably should have delayed even a bit longer. I didn't really pay attention to Incubus or the Indigo Girls (we missed the bands before them), as I was really just waiting for the final three acts (Pearl Jam, Willie Nelson, CSNY).

Willie Nelson covered a couple of Hank Williams' songs, played a couple with Neil Young, and did his typical fare (at least from the last time I saw him). He was good, though I wish he did some more high-energy songs. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, given their varied collaborations, did some CSNY (Teach Your Children, Our House), Buffalo Springfield (For What It's Worth), and Stills-Young (Long May You Run).

Pearl Jam did a much better set than I saw them do two years ago. They stuck with older material and covers (Dylan, Beatles, Victoria Williams). Eddie Vedder's voice was sounding a bit restrained, but the performances were tight. They had an organ player playing for the first half the set that was actually quite good and made the performances a bit more distinct.

Concert: The King

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Just saw BB King at Shoreline Amphitheater and it was awesome. The man can still play it with the masters. Instead of selling CDs they should sell DVDs - the amount of emotion BB puts into every lick and bend is awesome.

I also got to see George Thorogood - he may still play the same stuff as always but I still dig it.

Concert: Bridge School

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My first Bridge School concert. Worth every penny/hundred dollar bill. Bring pants next time. Pearl Jam was a big disappointment, seeing as I came mostly to see them. They hadn't played together in awhile, and it showed. They were also playing some new songs that I didn't think were particularly good, and they were also in a rush to get up to Seattle with REM for another concert.

Billy Idol was definitely the highlight of the night, especially for his theatrics and for the way that he performed for the Bridge School children, performing his sexually charged lyrics directly to them. In an acoustic concert where most artists interepret that to mean their hit songs, but slower, having Billy Idol going full blast was a big energy booster and got everyone going.

Neil Young
Sugar Mountain and Blowing in the Wind (how many cannonballs´┐Żbefore they are banned?)

Jill Sobule
Kathie Lee loves me
Slutty Mouseketeers (Bitter song)
Survivor

Ben Harper
songs to sleep by
Song w/ mother

REM
The other song from automatic for the people
Everybody Hurts
Sugar of life (or whatever that crappy song is called)
Losing my religion

Dave Matthews
Song w/ Tracy Chapman
Sometimes I find its better to be somebody else
Crash
I did it
w/ Neil Young: All Along the Watchtower. This was actually cool.

Pearl Jam
The Kids Are Alright
Wishlist
2 new songs (last hope? Written by Mike). Very appropriate for acoustic
Lowlight (first live performance)
Nothing as it Seems
Black
1 unidentified song (truth)
Indifference w/ Ben Harper
Soldier of Love

Tracy Chapman
More songs to sleep by

Billy Idol
White wedding
For What It's Worth w/ Neil Young (in cowboy hat) - Buffalo Springfield cover
Rebel Yell
Mony Mony

Neil Young
Blowin' in the Wind
Imagine