Rock and Roll

Lucky Johanna and I had tickets for the sold-out Outside Lands festival in the San Francisco Golden Gate Park last Saturday. :) PARC intern Ashok joined and drove us. We couldn’t almost believe it when we found a parking lot right next to the park. Ford bless America.

When we came there at around noon, it didn’t seem like there would be 60,000 people all over the place pretty soon; only a few people in front of the stage and almost no one elsewhere. We had delicious mac & cheese and burritos—typical Californian food—and Heineken—typical Dutch Piss. By the way, the smell in the air all around the festival area also reminded me of Amsterdam. ;)

The music started with a horrible performance of some hip hoppers that didn’t know how to sing or even speak, but continued with cool, funky jazz by The Greyboy Allstars. Then OK Go (see one of their unique videos below), Arcade Fire, and The Black Keys (a pretty cool Ohioan band I hadn’t known before) rocked the stage.

Right on (very American) time at 8:15 the best live band in the world started playing: Muse!

Heavy rock fading into symphonic compositions with classical piano sounds supported by stunning visuals, artificial fog, and lasers—this show had everything. Not only did they play great songs (of which they have plenty, much more than would fit into a single set), their show felt like a well-planned whole, which I appreciate a lot.

Unsurprisingly, they played many songs from their new album “The Resistance”, but they did include sufficiently enough older works as well, even not-so-mainstream-popular ones. And how cool is it to play a few chords of the “House of the Rising Sun” between “Time Is Running Out” and “Starlight”?

Here is Muse propagating the “United States of Eurasia” with very nice visuals in the background:

And here they perform their probably most popular song “Starlight”:

You can also see the complete setlist.

Apart from the music, I was amazed by the fact that there wasn’t even the slightest traffic jam after the festival and all the people went home (mostly by car).

Death and reincarnation of some bitten fruit

Usually, when I turn on my computer, I don’t spend a second thinking about whether it will actually turn on. From now on I probably will.

I just wanted to resume from sleep (which is the usual mode of non-operation for it), but the screen remained black and nothing happened. That’s not totally unusual, as sometimes something in the computer decides it doesn’t want to wake up, in which case you have to turn it off and on again. That’s what I did, but in this unique case, it still remained black. The front light was on and their was some noise from the fan, but nothing more. No Mac startup sound, which I never particularly liked, but in this case would have loved to hear.

Letting it rest for a while, removing the battery, resetting the PRAM, switching RAM modules, nothing helped. Finally, I made an appointment with the Apple Genius Bar, conveniently located a few blocks away in the Stanford Shopping Center.

After a few experiments by my nice “genius,” he told me it would be $310 to have my notebook (a mid-2008 15″ MacBook Pro 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB RAM running Leopard, by the way) repaired. Not too cheap, but I would have paid anything to be able to work on my stuff again. Luckily though, the guy continued his research and finally told me the repair would be free—even though warranty had expired about two years ago!

Apparently, it was another case of this well-known graphics issue. Actually, I had occasionally noticed some of the described symptoms and was aware of this issue, I just had not thought that it could also cause the computer not to start up at all.

Even better, the guy told me I could probably get my computer back in one or two days—which would have been a Sunday, amazingly enough. And I would not have to worry about my data, the hard drive was safe.

As if that had not been good enough, they called me on the same day at 6.30 pm that my computer was ready for pickup! (I had been in the store at 10.45 am before.) I got there at around 8 pm (yes, my Austrian friends, they’re still open at that time, usually even on Sundays!) and got back my ready-to-rock shiny-new MacBook again. Apparently, they had even polished it.

One could argue that this problem shouldn’t have occurred in the first place, but still, well done, Apple, awesome support! Even if I had concerns about Apple’s policy recently (and not only recently), right now, I love you again.

Had some good steaks to celebrate this quick reincarnation.

Hiking Yosemite

After a small Friday student party on campus with burning benches and free drinks for everyone, which was eventually stopped by campus security, we set off really early for Yosemite on Saturday (two weeks ago). “We” as in Pablo, Katja & Debora (two of his English course classmates), me, and Rick’s car.

Four hours of driving and two Mountain Dews later we arrived in the park to pick up our Wilderness Permit and bear canister. Together with camp gear we had rented from REI, we were ready to rock.

We started the hike from the trailhead “Mirror Lake towards Snow Creek” a little later than planned, and it also didn’t help that nobody told us that the original path had been destroyed by a rock slide. So after getting lost a little, we crossed the creek (it’s always deeper than it seems!) and found the trail again.

Finally, the real part of the hike started: a pretty steep elevation change of about 800 meters. You can have a look at the trail map if you’re interested. Even if it doesn’t seem too long, it’s pretty exhausting with a backpack carrying a tent, sleeping bags, food, etc, and even more exhausting with two—because after a while, the girls obviously couldn’t carry theirs anymore. But the views were definitely worth it, even though there wasn’t really time (and especially energy) to take pictures.

We somehow understood why this was called the most strenuous hike in Yosemite by some people, and it made sense that this was one of the few ones where Wilderness Permits had still been available. On the whole hike up, we met not much more than three people. The other 100,000 seemed to prefer staying in the valley.

In the end, we were really happy to arrive at the rim of High Sierra, where we found a very nice place to put up our tent, with a ready-to-use fire ring. Italian Dry Salami tastes even better after being carried with about 25 kg of other stuff for six hours! And, believe it or not, we even had two tiny bottles of wine to celebrate our success.

As it became dark very quickly, I made good use of my newly purchased Black Diamond 75 lumens headlamp.

When camping in Yosemite, you have to store all your food, sunscreen, soap, etc, in a special bear canister, which we hid under some branches. Interestingly enough, it was in a different spot on the next morning. Apparently a bear played around with it during the night, although we didn’t see or hear anything. But who or what else could it have been?!

The hike down on Sunday was twice as fast as the way up, as expected. This time a thunderstorm provided the little adventure factor.

After taking a freezing and therefore rather quick bath in Merced River, we started our drive home. Stopped in Oakdale for some juicy Jack-in-the-Box burgers.

Really tired, but filled with nice impressions and good air, I fell into my bed.