Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Maker Faire

At my game club about a month ago, someone brought up the fact that Maker Faire was coming up. I had no idea what it was, and it was described as a big event where engineers show off side projects. Well, it sounded like something Jonathan would like, so I asked him if he wanted to go. Turns out, he knew all about it and was pretty much planning on it, LoL.

The week of the event, we struggled to figure out which day to go (it was on both Saturday and Sunday), and ultimately went with Saturday because the weather was going to be 10 degrees cooler on Sunday. We were originally planning to buy our tickets online, but after some searching and a few phone calls, I found that we could get tickets at a specific bank for about $15 less, so I went and got those. Then, the tricky part: figuring what we wanted to see at the event. There were a bunch of summaries, but the entire program was 68 pages!

As you might guess, I went through and made a list of "definite must-sees" and "if there's time" exhibits while Jonathan skimmed one of the lists and made mental notes. It seemed to me that we'd be spending much of the day apart, but I wasn't concerned. We planned to be on the road at 9:15, to have plenty of time to find parking and walk to the event, that began at 10am. Well, we needed some more sleep than that, plus some food, so we ended up walking through the gates right around 11am.

We stuck together for a bit, looking at random things at the entrance. We saw an electric giraffe which I thought was really neat. We also saw some muffin mobiles, which are mini cars underneath the muffin exterior. Then, Jonathan went to test drive a Chevy Volt while I went to check out the Life-Size Mousetrap. Except, the area was pretty empty as they were finished early (no worries tho, we went back and saw it later). So I went back and rode as a passenger in Jonathan's test drive. The car was kinda neat, but we weren't in love with it.
 muffin car
 Jonathan drove the silver car

We ended up spending the day together, going from building to building, checking out all sorts of interesting things. We didn't get to every item on either of our lists, but we had some good experiences as well as a bunch of let-downs.  Some of my favorites included the Jeep made from Legos, the neon wire stuff, the Wall-E build project, the Coke Zero & Mentos Geysers, and the hover-chairs.
 building an igloo from milk jugs
 they make Wall-E replicas!


Some disappointments included the Molecular Gastronomy demonstration, the Seattle Show Posters (only a disappointment since I understood it to be posters of Seattle, not Seattle as the brand), Home Cheesemaking (not really explanatory), the build-you-own-3D-printer (it was a little different), the Light Quilt (kinda plain), the Talking Breathalyzer demonstration (really disappointing), the Life-Size Mousetrap (cheap-looking and boring), the Google self-driving cars (I was hoping to see a real one in action, not a video), the Mad Hatter cake (poor details).
 Molecular Gastronomy

I'm sorry we missed a bunch of things, but mainly the Grilled Cheese by Brick demonstration, how to make bread in ten minutes, the extreme marshmallow cannon, and the sculpture made of typewriter pieces (can't figure out where it was!). Overall, it was a neat DIY-type event, and if we're around next year, I imagine we'll go again. Of course, we do have our fair share of complaints as well - namely that the information booths had some issues knowing things, the booths within areas weren't in order/numbered to match the program, and there were areas that had multiple names, making the map difficult to follow.
 there were lots of bicycles, scooters, and other homemade vehicles
 we went to a giant remote-control-boat thing where the ships are modeled after World War vessels.
this guy builds fabulous things from toothpicks
There were several of these guys on benches, posed in different positions. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Catch Up on Recent Events

Since the newest blog (which is now live. www.thecasualeater.com) will be dedicated to restaurant reviews, I'll most likely be decreasing their exposure over here. Plus, a few of the readers have said that those are the least interesting types of entries anyway.

Jonathan and I had lunch one day at a Chinese buffet near his work, called Sunny Buffet. I thought it was a little pricey for lunch, especially when they're slow at filling up your water to boot. They were pretty prompt about clearing old dishes, though. My biggest gripe would be that their setup was very difficult to maneuver.

We hadn't seen Cody in a while, and met up with him at Sushi Blvd., which is less than ten minutes from our house. There was free edamame, though I don't care for it. The miso was very salty, and neither Jonathan nor myself were big fans. I loved the salad dressing, but I was the only one whose meal included salad, so no comparison there. I had the sashimi dinner, and while the tuna was good, I found the salmon to be gummy. Cody goes there often and just went with a tuna roll this time, which he liked. Jonathan was happy with his salmon-heavy selections, too.

Ariba is a company not far from Jonathan's work. However, they have a pretty nice cafeteria, so workers from several surrounding companies often go there for lunch. When Jonathan's parents were visiting, we all ate there, and I've also been one other time with Jonathan and Jim. It's not horrible, but I think it's a bit pricey for what you get.

I've been driving around more and learning the area a bit. I saw a banner for the Sunnyvale Downtown Wine & Food Stroll, so we bought tickets and made plans to go to that. Check-in was pretty straight-forward... you gave your ticket, they checked your ID, they banded your wrist, and gave you a totebag and souvenir wine glass. In your bag you had (among other things) a card that listed 20 downtown business, each giving one or more pours of wine from Californian wineries. We rarely waited in a line longer than two or three minutes. A half dozen of the restaurants downtown also had out free appetizers, which gave us a chance to try some bites from places we haven't been as well. Honestly, it'd be difficult to talk about the wines we tried at each place, as we didn't take notes, and only took a few business cards. We had some great wine from Kirigin Cellars, and my personal favorite was from Clos du Bois. Many places offered multiple pours, and one even had you taste five different sakes! I can honestly say I have had my fill of wine for a while!  

We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary a couple weeks ago with much less flair than in previous years. It's been very busy around here and with Jonathan's long hours we haven't had an opportunity for a trip in several months. So, we went for teppanyaki, which I've mentioned before is special to us. Jonathan made us a reservation at a local place in San Jose called House of Genji, and we dined there.

What else is new? We're seeing more movies because it's summer. We're still trying out new churches. We're trying to make friends with other couples in the area. We've been in a pizza mood lately, so that's why there's not a lot of restaurants mentioned. We're close to purchasing some new entertainment and computer equipment. We bought season tickets for Seminole football next year... at some point we'll have to figure out what games we'll go to and which we'll give away and sell. We're planning to go to a Giants baseball game sometime soon. We missed out on hockey, since the season is about to end. I've also picked out some summer theatre for us to see, and we'll have a few visitors, too. So, stay tuned and thanks for sticking with us!

Friday, May 20, 2011

24-Hour Fitness

I hadn't written about our newest gym yet, and since we've been going since November, I figured I should post about it. Especially since it caused us a lot of grief the other night...

Why have I waited this long to write about it? Well, I don't particularly love it. In fact, I kind of hate it. I visited it by myself, Jonathan visited it by himself, we visited another one of the same chain but a different location together. We weren't really taken with any of them, but it's the best one around for the price, and our gym in Mountain View closed down since we lived there (though it would be a drive to go there now anyway). We actually ended up signing up online, which was very strange to me. It's kinda cool that we don't carry cards or anything - you enter a 10-digit code and then use your fingerprint to check-in. Nobody can pretend to be you, or use your card if you lose it.

It's not too far away, but it's off the Lawrence Expressway, so it's not really walkable. When we first started going, we'd often run into two or three people we knew from Jonathan's work, but two have since moved and we just don't run into the other one. There's nothing fancy about this gym, and just one classroom. The times for the classes aren't ideal, and the variety is nothing to brag about, either.

The building is old, and you can tell when you look at the windows and stuff. There's not enough parking, but at least they realized that and you can park in certain spots in the neighboring lots (though I've been before when there are absolutely no spots, and after five minutes of circling around with five other cars doing the same thing, I just left. Probably twice a week I spend 3-5 minute looking for parking.). And, there's a sports bar in the next plaza, which causes a parking crisis when there's a big (read: Sharks playoffs) game, since overflow parks in gym spaces, even though they're not supposed to. The other night, we gave up trying to park when we realized that it just wasn't going to happen.

They also have a tendency to rearrange the weight machines frequently, making it very difficult to stay on a normal routine. The overcrowding affects the weight machines more than the cardio equipment, but is so bad that sometimes a certain piece will be in use throughout my entire workout... each time I finish with a machine and could do a specific one, it'll be in use. Short of standing around waiting for a machine (and it's not always the same one that I just can't seem to get), there's just no way to incorporate it.
A few of my preferred machines aren't carried at this gym, but the only one I truly miss is the stretch one (no idea what it's called so I put in a photo). There also aren't any racquetball courts, so Jonathan hasn't played in quite a while, though he has found a few people at work who play, and he'll go to play with them at another gym in the 24-Hour Fitness chain. 

But, the biggest problem is cleanliness. And, it is a big problem. Towels don't seem to be required (and are never enforced), so people don't wipe down their machines after use. Staff walk around and spray the floor here and there... not sure what that does for anyone. It often smells like sweat throughout the entire place, which has never been a problem at any other facility I've been to (and this marks the fifth gym we've belonged to, not counting others we've tried out and such). All in all, just not a big fan of 24-Hour, but you do what you gotta do!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lack of Posts Lately

A short apology. I haven't posted in about three weeks. I've just kinda been burnt out on writing. Two months ago I defended my Master's thesis (more on that in a future post), and then had three weeks of frantic revisions (to a 40,000 word document) to do. Then, Jonathan and I decided to work on bringing more traffic to my other blog (www.thetalkingbox.com), which now posts every single day, instead of 3-4 times a week. Plus, he convinced me to create another blog for restaurant reviews, which took a lot of copying and rewriting and all kinds of other things to prepare. We're about to make that go live, and I'll give you the URL when we do, in the event you'd like to follow it as well. In addition to all of this, I've been applying for job after job, requiring lots of cover letters and short responses. So, this blog has kinda fallen by the wayside, since I just haven't felt like writing. I've got a bunch of topics to cover at this point, so I'm planning to get back to it. Plus, we have some trips planned over the next few months, so there should be some interesting posts here and there. :)