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July 10th, 2019

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News, Updates, & Rants...

     July 9th, 2019

Installed QuakeII, and ended up playing for a few hours. That game is damn good. The rail-gun mechanics are awesome.

- Alex; 20190709
July 9th at wikipedia...

     July 7th, 2019

The tire is completely flat :-/ It's amazing it lasted all the way till home.

Pumped it up, found the hole with soap-water. It's actually 2 tiny holes right next to the plug I put in last week. My guess is the rubber plug was old (not sticky enough), so once the rubber cement dried off, it started leaking. Anyways, ordered a new set of tires---will install after the trip to India. (It was time to replace old tires anyways, they have over 80k miles on them).

Finished Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe by Roger McNamee. To summarize this book: FUD. FUD. FUD. Also, stop using Facebook. That's pretty much it. Not saying the book doesn't have good points, or that any of them are wrong, or incorrect. But you shouldn't expect some things of corporations. I don't have a FB account (nor own any shares), but even I know they monetize every bit of data they have on everyone. That's just business. If they don't put interests of shareholders first, they won't be in business for long. Yes, as individuals, we can choose not to buy their shares, or use their services (giving them data AND eye-ball-hours).

- Alex; 20190707

     July 5th, 2019

Spent the day driving home. The tire appears to be holding just fine.

- Alex; 20190705

     July 4th, 2019

There is an interesting must-see place near by: Hopewell Rocks. We got there just in time, walked in the sand/mud, saw the rocks at low-tide, saw the tides (which apparently rise at 1-foot per minute!). Saw the park folks close off the beach due to the tide, etc. All in all, this is the best part of this visit to Canada.

Next "small" stop is Reversing Falls. This is nice, but not worth the stop (except maybe as few minutes of rest from driving).

Entered US a bit late, and there's 50-miles of nothing. Next "big" town is Bangor. Found a campsite on the way (Parks Pond Campground) and spent the night. They had July 4th fireworks over the pond at 9pm :-)

- Alex; 20190704

     July 3rd, 2019

Realizing that Nova Scotia is essentially a tourist trap. Things to see include lighthouses, cities, restaurants, museums, etc. (this is from the information desk at the visitor center).

So we picked a lighthouse and went there: Peggy's Point Lighthouse. It's nice. The rocks around it are nice. The whole place is packed with tourists.

Low-tire-pressure-indicator-light. Urgh. The same tire I plugged last week. 20psi. Good thing we had the tire pump with us. Got it back to 32psi, and moved on.

The next stop is Halifax, to a deceptively named: Point Pleasant Park. It's pleasant. It's nice. I jogged the circumference of the whole park (my guess a mile or two). Nice jogging park.

That's that for Nova Scotia. If you know of any other must-see things there, let me know.

Ended up in a hotel back in Moncton, mostly because hotel prices are generally outrageous.

- Alex; 20190703

     July 2nd, 2019

Driving to Canada, and then through Canada. It's one big place!

Staying in a hotel in Moncton, just outside of Nova Scotia.

- Alex; 20190702

     July 1st, 2019

After a week of being back, we got bored. So off we go on another road trip: Nova Scotia,

First stop: Acadia National Park, where we got an awesome campsite, overlooking the ocean.

- Alex; 20190701

     June 30th, 2019

Trying out Overload. Seems to be a pretty faithful recreation of Descent. Seems awesome. Level design sucks though---but mechanics are awesome.

- Alex; 20190630

     June 29th, 2019

Today is officially my last day at Goldman. It sure was an interesting year. I was head of Americas compliance data---so got exposed to everything. Learned a lot about front-office and back-office data and operations, the US market making desk, treasury operations, etc.

- Alex; 20190629

     June 27th, 2019

Fixed the flat tire via `the plug'. I've seen it done about 10 years ago, and had the kit in the car forever. So took off the tire, located the puncture (it was a big screw), used that tool to make the hole bigger, put rubber cement over the plug, then shoved the plug into the tire... used a bike pump to inflate the tire. So far so good. Drove 30 miles on that tire already, and it seems to be holding.

- Alex; 20190627

     June 24th, 2019

Got a flat tire. In NYC! After a month of driving across the country and back, had to come back and get a flat right near home!

- Alex; 20190624

     June 23rd, 2019

After a month on "the road", we're finally home.

9281 miles. $1263 on gas (33 fill-ups). $892 on hotels (16 nights; primarily via hotwire.com). Probably ~$200 on tent-camping (cash payments). $482 at Walmart. $126 at McDonalds. $23 at Subway. Probably ~$150 at other food places.

- Alex; 20190623

     June 22nd, 2019

The FairBridge hotel in Wickliffe, Ohio wins the award for being the worst-hotel-of-this-trip. Yes, even worse than Motel6. Motel6 is cheap, styles itself as a cheap hotel, so any expectations are null. FairBridge modeled itself as a 3-star hotel---but it's actually worse than Motel6 in just about everything.

It's within driving distance of Niagara Falls, which is where we went.

Niagara is awesome when the weather is awesome. The place was packed. Very hard to find parking. the main parking lot was closed, so we got a spot in the overflow lot on the other end of the island. About half a mile walk from the main waterfall.

Did a loop walk around. Clicked pix by Tesla statue. Did BBQ right there. Day well spent.

At the end, decided that we should probably drive home instead of staying someplace on the way.

- Alex; 20190622

     June 21st, 2019

Heading to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It's the last national park that's on the list.

It turns out it's not a very interesting park. There are a few places to see waterfalls (we visited a few). That's about it.

Kiddo loves running around. He ran down/up all those stairs in all the walkways around the whole park.

Ended up in a hotel in Wickliffe, Ohio. Very strange hotel (FairBridge). Their pool closes at 7pm, and opens at 12pm. Pretty much guaranteeing that anyone who checks-in in the evening won't be able to use the pool :-/

- Alex; 20190621

     June 20th, 2019

Due to rain, decided to skip Cloud Gate in Chicago.

Heading directly to Indiana Dunes National Park. It's the newest national park this year. We ended up in the "state park" by accident. After finding the visitor center, did the scenic drive along the coast.

This is my first time at the lakes. It's amazing. The beach looks identical to an ocean, but if you taste the water, it's fresh. Non-salty. There's no sea-water smell either. It's pretty neat.

On the drive to the hotel, windshield wiper fell apart, so we made an ``emergency'' stop at walmart to replace those. These were the original ones that came with the car---the 10-year-old wipers. New wipers are awesome, they actually lean the windshield, almost forgot how clean windshield looks like!

At the end of the day, ended up in a hotel in Elkhart, Indiana.

- Alex; 20190620

     June 19th, 2019

Austin, MN is apparently home of SPAM. They even have the Spam Museum. So had to drive by that on the way to Chicago.

Another long day of driving through fields and fields of stuff.

Ended up in a hotel in Itasca, Illinois.

- Alex; 20190619

     June 18th, 2019

...And so begin the most boring few days of the entire trip. Driving from South Dakota to Chicago (cloud gate).

It's one long drive. It just keeps going and going and going. There's nothing there. Scenery is just the same---forever. I90 sucks.

In a work-zone (1-lane reduced-speed no-overtaking zone), a truck overtook me using the shoulder(!!!). While he was doing that crazy thing, a rock flew up and cracked our windshield :-/

Right out of the work-zone (about 11 minutes after he overtook me), we saw that truck pulled over by the state troopers. I really hope it was for that overtaking (and not for speeding, which he was).

After a long day of driving, ended up in a hotel in Austin, MN.

- Alex; 20190618

     June 17th, 2019

Headed out to Devil's Tower in South Dakota.

After hours of driving, got to Devil's Tower in South Dakota, and realized that the correct Devil's Tower is in Wyoming. Yeah :-/ So much for "being on the way" and searching google maps by name.

Heading to Mount Rushmore, which is surprisingly close to the South Dakota's Devil's Tower.

It's raining, so clicked some pix, and ran back to the car.

Next stop: Badlands National Park. It finally stopped raining. Weather is awesome. We used the south entrance into the park, and drove the large chunk of the dirt rim road. Saw lots of bison, etc.,

Were planning to camp by Badlands Campsite, but that site was full, so ended up camping about 5 minutes out of the park on the edge of I90.

- Alex; 20190617

     June 16th, 2019

Decided to take a vacation from our vacation: staying in this Ramada hotel for a day and ``doing nothing'' the entire day.

Nothing includes: going to the pool, visiting the few kid friendly parks in the city, napping during the day, watching TV, and generally just "doing nothing".

Day well spent in Gillette!

- Alex; 20190616

     June 15th, 2019

In the ``morning'' (early afternoon), visited Artist Point and Mud Volcano, and that's that for the Yellowstone attractions. We left the park via the East entrance. It's a very scenic drive.

Was very pleasantly surprised by Bighorn National Forest. The shortest-path (gps picked) road was apparently thorugh these scenic mountains. It was an awesome drive.

We headed for the next population center, which was Gillette, Wyoming, where we got a hotel/resort.

Arrived pretty late, so just passed out.

- Alex; 20190615

     June 14th, 2019

Set GPS to Indian Creek Campground. It's in the northern part of the park.

While on the way, Suneli had the bright idea of dialing up the reservation number again, and... suddenly they had a spot, in Bridge Bay Campround. Booked it over the phone.

With no need to rush to grab a campsite, decided to take it easy. First spot: Mammoth Hot Springs. The road crews closed the road, and had it closed for about 30 minutes, while the queue of cars were waiting to pass the 2-mile section. On way back, decided to not go through that again, and used the east road down the park. But that's a much longer path, and the day was getting late, so we decided to check into the campsite, then perhaps see other things on the way.

At Bridge Bay... the checkin process is... well... you park the car right on the road, go into the office, where there's a queue... you wait in that queue for 30 minutes (no kidding, that's how long it took), then you get a sticker for the car. That's it. And it literally took 30 minutes to get that sticker.

After getting the campsite, we decided to do the lower south west of the park (old faithful and prismatic geiser). So drove there. It was awesome. Kiddo was running around everywhere.

By the time we got to old faithful, it was 10-minutes until it was about to go off... so very good timing there.

Gathered a lot of wood on the way to the campsite. They sell a box of wood for $8, which is silly because in Yellowstone you're allowed to burn dead wood, and it's everywhere (just not in the campsite). We had nearly all of empty space in the car filled with dry twigs by the time we got to the site. Ended up using most of it during cooking :-)

- Alex; 20190614

     June 13th, 2019

Visiting Shoshone Falls. Water flow level: low :-/

Then onto Craters Of the Moon. The whole park has the most amazing smell of flowers. It's just surreal.

Then drove through nickel-sized hail storm.

Staying in a camp site right in the center of Idaho Falls.

Tried booking camp site for Yellowstone, but no luck. Everything is full. Current plan is to drive into the park in the afternoon, and immediately go for one of the four first-come-first-served camp-sites. Indian Creek or Mammoth Springs.

- Alex; 20190613

     June 12th, 2019

Tentative plan for the next few days is to visit Shoshone Falls, followed by Craters Of the Moon. Unfortunately that's quite a while away. So spent most of the day driving (and stopping, and driving, and stopping, and driving, etc.)

Eventually ended up in a hotel in Nampa, Idaho. Hopefully will get to the Shoshone Falls tomorrow afternoon.

- Alex; 20190612

     June 11th, 2019

Starting day with a drive to Mount Rainier National Park.

Apparently we're about a month (or few) too early, and there are no trails that go up the mountain from the visitor center---everything is full of snow. So we clicked some pictures, and onto the next hotel in Yakima, WA.

- Alex; 20190611

     June 10th, 2019

Drove to Hoh rain forest, had a picknick, a short walk.

Then to Rialto Beach, which was very windy and cold.

Then to La Push Beach, which was similary windy and cold.

Then out of Olympic, and to a hotel in Lacey, WA.

- Alex; 20190610

     June 9th, 2019

Drove from Eugene, OR to Olympic National Park. Long drive :-/

Staying in a South Beach Campround in Olympic NP. It's amazing. Very chilly and windy, but you're allowed to burn drift wood for fire, and there's a ton of it---and it burns amazingly well (it's very dry). It's awesome.

There's a dead seal on the beach.

- Alex; 20190609

     June 8th, 2019

Drove from Weed to Crater Lake. Very short drive. Then spent another 30-minutes waiting in queue to get into the Crater Lake park.

The road is closed at "discovery point", so drove there, clicked pix, then to the village, then clicked pix, then out of the park.

Awesome views. In the park, the snow is about 15-feet high in some places.

Staying in a hotel in Eugene, OR.

- Alex; 20190608

     June 7th, 2019

Skipping places we've already been at. Next stop is Crater Lake.

Drove all the way to Weed, California. Staying in a Motel6 here. Terrible terrible motel :-/

- Alex; 20190607

     June 6th, 2019

Drove to Yosemite Glacier Point, and then into the Yosemite canyon... walked to the lower Yosemite waterfall.

Had a picknick/lunch in Yosemite.

Got a hotel in Merced, California.

- Alex; 20190606

     June 5th, 2019

Drove to Kings Canyon national park, and got a tent camp site. Then drove to Sequoia national park to see General Sherman Tree.

Did the scenic walk from parking lot with kiddo, and a shuttle-bus back.

Kings Canyon camping sure has a lot of bugs :-/

- Alex; 20190605

     June 4th, 2019

From Las Vegas, drove to Titus Canyon at Death Valley. Apparently it's a one-way road from outside Death Valley---so good thing we didn't drive to Death Valley to enter it.

That drive was amazing. One of those single-lane road on-the-side-of-a-cliff kind of drives. Very exciting. Glad I was in our 4Runner :-)

Stopped for a picknick in a place called Lone Pine.

Got a hotel in a place named Bakersfield, California.

- Alex; 20190604

     June 3rd, 2019

Drove to Grand Canyon, North Rim. Did a short hike down Kaibab trail (to first viewing area, about 15 minutes down), and a walk to Bright Angel point.

Kiddo was behaving ok until the Bright Angel, and then the entire grand canyon heard his crying... (maybe scared of heights?). We quickly got to the car and drove to Las Vegas.

Staying in Stratosphere hotel, that was ridiculously cheap when booked through hotwire.

- Alex; 20190603

     June 2nd, 2019

Drove to Capitol Reef national park. Did a tiny hike (the sunset point walk).

On drive to Grand Canyon (north rim), were planning to camp at Jacob lake, but the weather there was predicted to be low-40s overnight, so stopped over in a hotel in Kanab. Did laundry in coin-operated laundry (now have a hand-full of quarters :-)

- Alex; 20190602

     June 1st, 2019

Drove to the Black Canyon visitor's center. There was an astronomer there with a solar-telescope, looking at the solar CMEs. It was pretty amazing to see the sun having those arches, etc.

Drove to Capitol Reef National Park, and the campsite was full. Ended up at a campsite about 10 miles west of the park---with running water, showers, and wifi :-)

- Alex; 20190601

     May 31st, 2019

Starting day with Great Sand Dunes National Park. Got a "warning" when a park ranger pulled me over in the visitor center parking lot for driving the "wrong way" (the parking lot had arrows showing which way the traffic should go---and I kinda went the "wrong way" when I noticed a parkig spot and drove to it direct). Had me worried there for a bit.

After sand dunes, we drove to Black Canyon National Park, and got one of those walk-in-campsites (without a reservation). It was awesome. Except at night it was very very cold (apparently that campsite is about 8500 feet or so elevation). Kiddo kept waking up at night (he doesn't like sleeping with a blanket, and it was a bit too chilly to sleep outside the sleeping bag).

By complete luck, we got there on a friday night, and they had astronomy might---a few astronomers brought their gear to the summit to observe the stars. Saw the M4 galaxy, as well as multiple images of Jupier.

- Alex; 20190531

     May 30th, 2019

And suddenly we're in Colorado (drove most of the night to get here).

Suneli drove up Pike's Peak, and later in the day we ended up in Garden of the Gods.

Got a Motel6 in Pueblo, CO, and it was by far the worst-hotel-ever. The room was an OK basic type of room, but it had no microwave and no fridge (and they didn't have a central one for guests to use---like to reheat things). This may not seem like a big deal, but when traveling with an 18-month-old-kid, a microwave is often needed. The hotel had a pool, but it was freezing (outdoor). Anyways, probably will avoid Motel6s from now on.

- Alex; 20190530

     May 29th, 2019

Visiting the Gateway Arch in St.Louis. They changed the entrance a bit from what it was a few years back.

- Alex; 20190529

     May 28th, 2019

The camp at Abrams Creek was pretty good. They got running water, and the tent site is right next to a small creek. It's pretty awesome. Can hear animals at night... even the growling of bears.

Spent the day getting out of Smoky Mountains NP and closer to Colorado. Drove though Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois. Ended up in Metropolis (yes, the superman city) a hundred miles south east of St.Louis Staying in hotel.

- Alex; 20190528

     May 27th, 2019

Getting from Wytheville (Virginia) to Smoky Mountain NP.

After getting to Smoky, it turned out that all the nearby camp sites were sold-out, and the only one that had a spot was Abrams Creek, which is all the way on the west side of the park (about two hours drive from the Gatlinburg entrance). Called recreation.gov, and booked one of the tent sites there.

The site is awesome. Very remote. Has running water. Drinking water.

We booked spot A06, but the tent square was a bit slanted, and A05 was empty (folks left early), so we moved there.

- Alex; 20190527

     May 26th, 2019

Leaving on a road trip tour of US national parks. Rough outline of plan is to go to the west coast via southern states, then up the west coast, then go back to NY via northern states. Skipping north east (Maine) and Florida. Also skipping some very-out-of-the-way parks.

First stop is Smoky Mountain National Park.

Set out from NY at 4am, and drove-drove-drove far-far-far, and ended the day in Wytheville (Virginia). Not quite Smoky mountain NP, but close enough. Staying in hotel in Wytheville.

- Alex; 20190526

     May 24th, 2019

Done with grading and classes for Sprint 2019 semester. Yey!

- Alex; 20190524

     May 16th, 2019

Finished reading A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market by Edward O. Thorp. This is one awesome autobiography. Highly recommend.

- Alex; 20190516

     May 10th, 2019

Finished Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson. Entertaining. Not especially enlightening---just entertaining. This book tries really hard to be politically correct.

- Alex; 20190510

     May 4th, 2019

Virtually attending Berkshire Hathaway meeting... on Yahoo Finance (which stupidly enough doesn't allow Linux web-browsers to view the livestream; had to dig out my Surface Go to view the thing).

- Alex; 20190504

     April 30th, 2019

Uh, oh!

- Alex; 20190430

     April 29th, 2019

...and back in NYC :-)

- Alex; 20190429

     April 28th, 2019

Flying out at 2pm. Kona to LA. It seems we were the last ones to arrive to the flight.

Then LA to NYC flight.

- Alex; 20190428

     April 27th, 2019

Drove to south point.

Fed horses on the way.

- Alex; 20190427

     April 26th, 2019

Drove to Akaka falls, and didn't see anything due to fog. Broke some sugar-cane on the side of the road though. Kiddo seems to instinctively know how to chew it...

Drove to Rainbow Falls (near Hilo).

Stopped by Mauna Kea visitor's center on the way back to Kona. It was overcast, and drizzling rain. Good thing I went on the big hike earlier in the week---it seems it's snowing on the summit.

- Alex; 20190426

     April 25th, 2019

Visiting the Volcanoes National Park Kahuku Unit. It's right next to the south point road.

On the way there, got a tire puncture (yeah, the Jeep, big fat tires, eh). Spent the rest of the day driving back to Kona, and re-pumping the tire at every other gas-station.

Got a replacement rental: Chevy Equinox (not 4wd).

- Alex; 20190425

     April 24th, 2019

Drove down the Waipio Valley, and built sand castles with kiddo on the black-sand beach.

On the way back, we were searching for Umauma falls, which we thought might be down Mana Road. That's the road that circles the Mauna Kea on the East, and it goes through some amazing landscapes with zero people. The drive is above the clouds though lively green grass on a dirt-road. It was just amazing.

Unfortunately, the road came to a gate---and we didn't know if it was private property or not, so decided to turn back. The road does terminate at the Saddle Road (according to google maps), but somewere could pass though a ranch or few. Anyways, amazing drive.

- Alex; 20190424

     April 23rd, 2019

My big hike day.

Headed out at midnight from Kona, and drove to Mauna Loa observatory (at 10k feet). Got there by 2am. Slept in car until 6am (to get aclimated).

At 6am, headed to summit. 3.5-hours later, got to the summit. Very sunny and awesome day. Another 3.5 hours later was back in the car. Picked up a big (perhaps 20lb?) white-lava rock from the summit.

Decided to drive up the Muana Kea summit. After a short drive, and a quick run to the summit, desposited the big white-lava rock at the summit (I occasionally translplant rocks from mountains just to confuse future geologists: there's a piece of Mnt.Mansfield on Mnt.Washington :-)

- Alex; 20190423

     April 21st, 2019

Doing the chain of craters road at Volcano National Park.

At the end of the chain of craters... there's a... new road. So the road continues. My guess to Kalapana. It's closed to traffic, but open to hikers.

- Alex; 20190421

     April 20th, 2019

Visiting beaches near Kona.

There's one that requires a 4WD right next to the airport.

- Alex; 20190420

     April 19th, 2019

Went to see turtles by the... turtle beach (next to Kona airport).

Drove to Volcano National Park, and saw the ``road closed'' sign to Jagger museum.

Stopped by Mauna Kea on the way back to see stars. Apparently the nightly star-gazing thing at Mauna Kea visitor's center is no more (at least until they finish construction).

- Alex; 20190419

     April 18th, 2019

Flying out to Hawaii. Just the big island this time.

Checked into a hotel in Kona. Will spend the rest of the trip here (note to self, get a room with a better view next time; partial ocean front isn't as good as "ocean front").

- Alex; 20190418

     April 15th, 2019

Urgh. Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

- Alex; 20190415

     April 12th, 2019

Finished reading Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr. I've heard about OKRs from other books (mostly about google ones). So if you're into that sort of thing (management driven goal setting devices), then by all means read this book---it's filled with all sorts of anecdotal evidense that many will find convincing.

- Alex; 20190412

     April 5th, 2019

Finished reading Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street by William Poundstone.

An awesome book on history of the Kelly criterion, as it's applied to gambling, stock market, etc., highly recommmend.

- Alex; 20190405

     March 27th, 2019

Regarding the broken Intel NUC7I7BNH: ordered a replacement fan on amazon, got it today, and replaced it. The NUC appears to be functioning perfectly again.

- Alex; 20190327

     March 24th, 2019

The CPU fan in my Intel NUC7I7BNH died (24/7 since May 2017; barely 2 years of operation :-/

Strangely enough, the much older NUC D54250WYK is still functioning flawlessly (24/7 since April 2014).

- Alex; 20190324

     March 22nd, 2019

Ok... so the yield curve has inverted. Why should we care? Bond prices are a good proxy for future sentiment---high prices (low yields) indicates folks don't think there's economic growth ahead. So inverted yield curve means short term bonds are priced more than long term bonds... that pretty much says: everyone's expecting volatility short term, and lower growth long term.

- Alex; 20190322

     March 15th, 2019

Finished Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes. It's an awesome history book---focused quite a bit on energy derived from wood, coal, and oil, with a very tiny bit focused on nuclear, solar, wind, etc.

For a history on nuclear stuffs, a much better book is: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. I must say I've enjoyed the atomic bomb book much more than the energy book.

- Alex; 20190315

     March 14th, 2019

Happy Pi-Day!

- Alex; 20190314

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