Saturday, August 09, 2008

Thunderstorm at Sunset in the Desert...

Andrea and I are out at DM today.   There was a thunderstorm.   I took some fairly decent pictures, considering that the only camera I had with was the iPhone.   This one is looking up toward Fort Bowie - as you can see, the fort is completely inundated.
This is looking to the north.   Nice rainbow.   You get a lot of these in the desert in Arizona during monsoon.   Would have liked a longer lens - the rainbow was a lot more impressive in person.

Barrel cactus.   The evening light was very orange, which made the flowers really stand out.
These are the same prickly pear cactus that had lovely orange blossoms on them a couple of months ago.   The little purple things are the pears.   You can make jam with them.   You have to be careful not to get stuck, though - they're covered with little furry spines.
This is a new addition - I've never really noticed these here before.   They have lovely purple flowers which are all closed, unfortunately.   The wild thing about these plants is that outside of monsoon, I think they would just shrivel up and blow away.
The light here looks kind of fake, which is funny because actually this doesn't even capture the light at sunset.   But it's not a bad try.   It's unbelievably warm light - you feel like you're being bathed in a warm orange flame, and the land around you glows happily with you.
I don't know what this little guy is - the leaves remind me of peas, but they're much tougher - if you could isolate the fiber, you could probably make paper from it.

Anyway, that's the news for tonight from the desert.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Back from Ireland

I know. I never call. I never write. You probably didn't even know I was in Ireland in the first place. Sigh. I wish I could promise to change, but I don't want to make a promise and then break it.

Anyay, as it turns out, I was in Ireland - the summer IETF was at a golf hotel about 45 minutes outside of Dubin this time. Ireland was really great. Kind of trippy. I stayed at a place called Tallaght, which is at the end of the Luas red line (one of the two light rail lines in Dublin).

I guess Tallaght used to be kind of a dodgy neighborhood, because I got a lot of strange reactions from locals who heard I was staying there. The hotel I stayed at wound up being 58 Euros a night, which is dirt cheap for Dublin, and it was small, but nice. I got a weekly pass on Luas, which was more than I needed, but it meant that I could just hop on whenever I wanted.

The conference was at a hotel in Saggart, which is another 7km past Tallaght. I didn't want to stay at the conference hotel because it looked like one of those horrible 1920s hotels that hasn't been updated since, that's supposed to be posh because it's old and has been used by golfers for nearly a century. Sure enough, that's just what it was. People complained about the heat being on (it was not cold out) and the hot water not working. And the restaurants' idea of "vegetarian" was basically salad. The food in Tallaght was much better, and being on the Luas meant I could eat in City Center, which I did.

Getting from the conference center to my hotel was difficult. The first time I tried it, I walked about 4km before I found a bus stop that would work. On the plus side, the countryside there is beautiful - like New England, only better. A slightly different color of green.

I tried the 16-hour anti-jet-lag fast, and I can't say for sure that it worked, but it seems like it might have. The first day there was brutal, of course, because I didn't get enough sleep on the way over, but day two was pretty doable, and thereafter I was on Dublin time, getting up at 6am every day even although I'd been going to bed at about that time when I was in Arizona.

Dublin's cool. In addition to having the world's tallest flagpole, there's an old library at Trinity College that contains a huge collection of ancient manuscripts, including one very famous one from the 9th century called the Book of Kells. So I get there, and there's a huge crowd around the book. I finally get to look at it. It's impressive, but it doesn't really grab me - it's just a really nice looking book. Disappointed, I go upstairs to the Long Room, which is the other part of the exhibit. It's the actual archive where all these books have been kept for centuries.

And, as it happens, it's one of the holiest shrines of my people, the geeks. Who knew? I nearly fell over. The place has presence. You might not feel it - it depends on whether you're in my particular geek lineage or not. But it's worth checking out when you're in Dublin, just in case.

Anyway, the conference was good, lots of good conversations, some progress on some issues, very little acrimony (other than about the hotel). I flew home the last day of the conference, because I had no agenda for that day. Home, speaking loosely - I stopped in New York for a couple of days, and made a trip up to New England to visit my parents.

New York was nice. I got to make the pilgrimage to Everyman Espresso. They were out of the really good pastries, but the coffee was wonderful. I even brought some home with me. The drive up to New England was nice - it's very green this time of year. Nice to see the folks - last time I saw them was after I broke my wrist, and so that was a bit fraught. This time, no breakage. Yay!

But I was really starting to miss Andrea, so it was nice to finally fly back home on Tuesday. And now I'm back in Tucson, procrastinating on building the house.