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San Francisco With Family I

14 May 2016

The title of this post is not the best or the most creative in the history of mankind, but I hope it’s at least clear. We visited San Francisco several times while my family was visiting, so this post will cover the first visit. Alright, lets move on.

Luckily for us we had some pro San Francisco guides in Ulf, Henry and Xiaolin. We started off with a nice view of basically the whole of San Francisco. You could see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate Park, my favorite weird radio antenna Sutro Tower and some other landmarks that I don’t know the names of or remember. Speaking of forgetting things, I don’t remember the name of the place with the view, but it was definitely worth the visit, and a good place to start with, since you can actually see most of the city right from that spot. You had to watch your hat though, since it was pretty windy.

From that point we went towards the Golden Gate Bridge and stopped at a park southwest of it, with a nice golf court and some beautiful recreation areas. The best thing was probably the fact that you could get some good angles on the bridge. Even if the Golden Gate Bridge is impressive up close, you’ll take the most beautiful pictures from a distance.

We saved the drive over the bridge for the trip to Napa Valley and instead visited the Palace of Fine Arts nearby. I had been there before with Vidar, but it’s one of those tourist attractions you can visit twice (or more). It’s a calm and quiet place with a beautiful temple. We actually saw several people getting married in very extravagant clothes. Me and Mikaela even saw a music group filming what I assume was to be a music video. I could not blame them for their choice of location, but maybe for their taste in music.

Then Ulf wanted to show us the famous Lombard Street, which meant that Mikaela got to practice her parking skills. She did fine, but I don’t envy people applying for a drivers license in San Francisco. The inclinations of some of the streets are just crazy.

After Lombard street we headed for Chinatown for some Dim Sum (Chinese tapas I guess) at a Chinese Restaurant. Chinatowns are always fascinating and San Francisco has the biggest one outside of Asia. From one street to another it’s almost as if you travel to another world. The food at the restaurant was really nice and I got to try a whole lot of new stuff, which is always fun and interesting.

Before heading back we visited Ghirardelli Square. Ghirardelli is a chocolate brand that you see all over the place around here and they had a shop with lots of chocolate (and even free samples when you entered). They also had a café where we had coffee and ice cream. Mikaela and I shared a piece of art that was probably the best ice cream bomb I’ve ever had, and I think the others were just as happy with their orders.

Like I pointed out at the beginning of this post, we will get back to San Francisco another time, but all in good time.

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Stanford With Family

6 May 2016

A couple of weeks ago the whole big family (my parent, siblings, Mikaela and Frida’s boyfriend Simon) visited me here in the Bay Area. We had an amazing ten days with lots of different activities. We did everything (well maybe not everything, but a lot) from wine tasting at the vineyards in Napa Valley in the north to watching San José Sharks in the south.

The whole gang arrived late one Friday and picked me up in Menlo Park. It felt so good to finally meet with Mikaela (and the rest of the family as well of course) in person again. Then we took the rental car to Ulf, Xialin and Henry, a couple of super nice friends of my father with a quite spectacular house in San José. I was already grateful for the ride from the airport and the dinner my first day in California and for them lending me a bike. Thanks for that, and even more thanks for letting us stay with you guys for over a week. That was great.

Anyway, on Saturday we decided to visit Stanford. I showed the family my office, which was out of electricity and therefore also out of light due to some kind of maintenance. But at least now they have seen where I spend most of my time here, even if it was kind of dark and we all felt like burglars (not that we stole anything). We also walked around the campus and just enjoyed the sun. We visited Jamba Juice, my supervisor from Sweden’s favorite place in the world, the Stanford bookstore where you can get all kinds of Stanford merch and finished of by visiting Hoover Tower, a famous tourist attraction at campus where you get a nice view over Stanford and also over the Bay Area. Before returning to San José we visited a cool Indian fast food Restaurant and had lunch. I was impressed with the food (thank you google maps and yelp).

At the evening Ulf, Xialin and Henry wanted to treat the big family (this time including Vidar as well) for an Easter dinner. Ulf is a passionate cook (with an equal fascination for different kitchen machines) and therefore he served us lamb cooked in two different ways. My favorite was the lamb sous vide, but the pressure cooked lamb was really good too. While not being so traditional, this will definitely be an Easter I’ll remember vividly for a while to come.

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Surfing in Santa Cruz

30 April 2016

I while ago a couple of us at the Geophysics Department decided to go surfing in Santa Cruz. You can rent surfing boards and wet-suits for very reasonable prices at the Stanford Outdoor Center and since a couple of us had cars it was really convenient to get there as well.

Surfing was definitely on my list of things I wanted to try while being here in California and I’m so happy that I got the chance to try it with some awesome people. Matias, a fellow Swede from Chalmers were the most experienced one in our little group, so he gave the rest of us a few hints for how to get up on the board.

The waves were pretty decent (though of course I have nothing to compare them to), but you had to wait for them for a while sometimes. Anyway, I was a great feeling to just sit in the cool water under the sun with the wet suit on and take it easy. I realize that I do sound a bit cheesy, but that’s how I felt. And to see a wave approaching and then manage to catch it was a pretty amazing feeling.

Beforehand I expected surfing to be much harder than it turned out to be. I definitely did not expect to be even close to standing on a surf board the first day I tried, but I actually managed to do just that (and I was far from the only one). Not that we became great surfers in a day or anything like that, but I’m just pointing out that it’s not as difficult as one might think. And just catching a wave and lying on the board following a wave to shore is great, even without standing on the board.

Since I completely forgot to put sunscreen on my delicate Swedish skin, I returned home with a face the color of a tomato. A few days later I woke up with a new face, but I was definitely worth it in the end. Thanks for the ride guys.

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PS4 Remote Play

15 April 2016

I just have to tell you all about the coolest thing I discovered recently. With the release of version 3.5 of the Playstation 4 System Software, Sony now supports Remote Play from (or to depending of how you see things) a PC or (even better in my case) from a Mac. Imagine that your better half want to see some weird baking competition on the TV while you’re busy kicking some Orc ass in Shadow of Mordor. Well, now you could just stream the visuals to your computer and continue playing on your computer screen instead. All you need is a reasonably good router and a Dual Shock 4 connected to your computer via bluetooth or USB.

"Dualshock 4 Glacier White"

Alright, so how does this help me when I have an ocean between me and my PS4? Well, the amazing thing is that with the new remote play features I can stream video games from Uppsala over the Atlantic to my place in Menlo Park, and it actually seems to work pretty well. The video seem to be a bit compressed and the resolution is capped at 720p, instead of the 1080p you are used to in most PS4 games. All this seems very reasonable if you ask me and the lag is not too bad (but if you play Call of Duty in multiplayer you might object).

I can even wake up the console from rest, which of course is a must for this to be convenient. Sony has previously implemented remote connection features, making the PS4 able to download and install updates automatically. They also allow you to download and install games you purchase from the Playstation Store from their webpage or from their mobile app. This is great since you can purchase a game while you’re away from the console and when you come home the game is installed and ready to go. But with these streaming capabilities they make things even more futuristic.

"Me playing FireWatch using Remote Play"

I should also mention that the Mac app is great. It’s simple, small in size and does its job really well. It’s super easy and straightforward to connect to the PS4 and you have all of the options for the streaming that you might need to change.

I think this is a really great and cool example of how Sony have and continues to do everything right with the PS4. Along with Playstation VR they have a really cool and futuristic set of features that are there for anyone to use right now. But enough of all this, now I need to go back to Firewatch. The integrated graphics card in my Macbook Pro can’t handle it, but now I can stream it from my PS4 back in Sweden. That is just amazing.

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Campbell With Christina

6 April 2016

Last week my family visited and I took the week off. We had an amazing time and it was great to see everyone again finally. This of course means that I have about a million photos that I’ll hopefully have time to go through soon. I’ll post them here eventually, but it does take some time and this really should be lust driven I think. Before then I do have a couple of posts waiting in the pipeline; this being the first of them.

Some of you might notice that the pictures below look worse than usual, which is because I shot them with my iPhone. Sorry about that, but as you might have heard: “The best camera is the one you carry with you”. And the iPhone cameras are actually not too bad.

But enough with the disclaimers. A couple of weeks ago me and Vidar met Christina, who is a friend of a friend of Vidar’s. She hadn’t met us in person before, but still wanted to meet us and show some of her favorite places in Campbell. I’m just stunned by how open minded and welcoming people usually are here in the US. It makes my life here much easier and much more fun.

It was cool to see Campbell and I really feel like you get something extra when you walk around with a person who knows the area well, compared to walking around mindlessly or with a pocket guide. We walked through Campbell, visiting a small book shop and a café. We also visited a hill in a public park, where we had quite a lot of rain. We were all well prepared though, so it didn’t ruin our walk.

Before going back to Menlo we finished off with a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant together with Mike (a friend of Christina’s). It was great to meet another super nice person and the food was really good, actually the best Mexican food I’ve had in California thus far.

Lastly I really wanna send a big thank you to Christina for being so nice to us and for showing us Campbell.

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