Yesterday (Halloween evening), there was an explosion in one of the buildings in my office campus.

I don’t work in that building and thankfully there were only about 3 dozen colleagues there given the late hour and Halloween. No one was injured. Property damage was limited, with a few broken windows and other localized damage. Supposedly the explosive device was left outside a door that employees working in that building use during their breaks. The campus was closed today for investigations but life will go on tomorrow according to the regular schedule. eBay/PayPal business was not disrupted.

Police are saying its not an accident. Who would want to bomb eBay and PayPal (which is co-located there)? A lot of people have had bad experiences and complain bitterly, but I can’t believe that anyone would be crazy enough to bomb a place for that. Employees are humans too.

Links and video.

P.S. This is nothing new but Slashdotters are jerks. Most normal people can distinguish between a company and its employees but not these fine internet citizens.

Noah Kagan has a list of what to look for when you get the cravings for Mexican food. Here’s how to identify authentic Mexican restaurants:
1. They serve horchata. Mexican sweet cinammon drink.
2. They don’t have any advertisements outside the door.
3. They don’t have white people working there.
4. They charge extra for chips.
5. The place is not the cleanest out there.
6. It has the word “la” or “el” in its name.
7. The burrito must cost less than $5.

After all my experiments in the Bay Area, I completey agree with this list. My favorite is Taqueria El Grullense in Palo Alto, CA.

This kid is just amazing; the tabla is one of the tougher Indian instruments to learn, let alone master, and this kid is well on his way there! The amazing thing is that he has received no formal training. His parents are looking for an appropriate teacher to further develop his unusual skills. The family is based in New Jersey. Please let me know if you have any recommendations/guidance.

$1.65 B at work

Managed to get in my now regular once-in-3-weeks round of 9-hole golf recently. The misery of the entire round (I scored +17 over the par 31 course) was made up by a single shot on the 3rd hole, a par 4. After two badly flubbed shots of the tee I found myself 90 yards away from the green on the right side first cut of rough. The green on this particular hole has an extremely narrow front that slopes towards the fairway away from the pin and it also faces the left side of the fairway which is the correct way to approach it. To add to the degree of difficulty, its also surrounded liberally with bunkers. One of these lay directly between me and the pin.

Anyways, I took out my trusted 9 iron (these days the only club I can hit consistently) and swung at the ball, not really hoping for much. The resulting shot was one golf players dream about – clean contact with the ball, a nice high arc, a soft landing on the green close to the pin and a very satisfying roll into the cup. Yes, I holed out from the fairway rough to make a birdie!

That single shot made my day. Now I can die in peace. And yes, I’m a geek for comparing golf to a tease.

Seven sites across the globe facing radical alteration due to climate change



My last attempt to climb Half Dome was doomed to our bad planning, and I had written that I would go back to the top. Well, I got that chance this last weekend and we did manage to make it all the way to the top.

The trip didn’t start out very well. My friend was flying in from San Diego Friday night and his flight was delayed by 3 hours. We ended up leaving the Bay Area at 11.30 pm. Yes, we were determined to make it work this time. After a quick nap and shower in Mariposa, we were off on the hike just as the sun was rising. Yosemite valley is breathtaking any time of the day or year; but the beauty at dawn is at yet another level. I wish I could have captured on camera the splendor of El Capitan at that time of the day.

Anyways, it was much easier this time – we made good time, stopping for water and nourishment. This was a marked improvement over the huffing and puffing of last time. I guess the recent Lassen hikes and cycling has improved my fitness in minuscule amounts.

As is well documented, the Half Dome hike is interesting and challenging from the valley floor to Nevada Falls up the Mist Trail. This 2.5 mile stretch is fairly steep, narrow and very close to the falls. Its infinitely better than the longer, easier and soporific John Muir trail. From Nevada falls though, I found it very frustrating as it is full of endless switchbacks through monotonous jungle and shrubbery. The trail climbs consistently and relentlessly without any view of the dome. This is the part that really tests your motivation and stamina, since it also usually coincides with noon when the sun is beating down upon you.

As a final gift from Nature, you have to navigate this really steep, almost vertical rock face to reach the face dome. I dubbed it the “Elevator”, although its not as bad as it looks since there a few rocks and steps to help you ascend. After going through all of this, when all the muscles in your body are aching, and you have discovered pain in places you did not know existed, you reach the base of the dome. In summer, this place is like Cancun in spring break – just as crowded but without the parties. The cables look intimidating but again aren’t as bad as they look. The worst part is dealing with the crowds and the wait for people ahead of you. The final two sections (along with the Nevada and Vernal falls sections) are definitely not for those with acrophobia.

The views from the top are amazing, and the entire hike is totally worth it in-spite of the strenuousness. Do it if you can.