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Time is running by so fast, it’s unbelievable. Here’s what happened during the last (almost) two weeks.

On Saturday, I took the Caltrain to the airport to get Rick’s car, as he would be in Europe for three weeks. Thank you so much, Rick! Eventually my bike, which I left at the train station, would get a little jealous about the other means of transportation involved… However, it was nice hitting American roads again. Oh how I missed you, 2×6-lane highways!

I went to IKEA to get some tools for the kitchen and other stuff for my new home. IKEAs really look the same everywhere! (Except for IKEA no 1 in Stockholm maybe.) Even the meatballs taste the same. And as everywhere else, after walking through the whole store, you end up with many more things than you actually planned to buy (like a small palm tree for our living room).

Then the preparations for Pablo’s and my potluck (an informal party where everybody brings something to eat and/or to drink) started. We had made a reservation for the Village Center right next to our apartments; every tenant in Escondido Village can have this huge space (for around 60 people seated, 140 standing!) once in a month—for free!

As you might expect, I made Kaiserschmarrn (“Austrian-style pancake”, literally something like “Emperor’s mishmash”) and Zwetschkenröster (compote of plums), using 12 eggs and 2 kilograms of plums (4 pounds 6.5 ounces, as they say here).

Even though I skipped the lasagna I wanted to make as well, I was late for my own party; but so were almost all of the guests, fortunately. We had invited people from the office, interns from PARC, and “schoolmates” from Pablo’s English course. Still, the room didn’t fill up, obviously, but it was great fun. We had tons of food, beer, sangria, and Chocolate port.

On Sunday, after watching “Midnight in Paris” (very Woody Allen-like!) in a nice single-room cinema, I went to get back my bike from the train station. At least that’s what I had in mind—but it was gone! May you rod and burn in hell, thief of my beloved red cruiser bike! Of course, it wasn’t a very good idea to leave the bike overnight at the train station… It seems that after 6 years, the bike just had to be stolen another time. ;-) Shit happens.

On Monday, I had a meeting with Martha, Camilla, and (via Skype from Japan) Neil (a “T-con” as they say here), talking about future extensions to twex. Still pretty excited about it.

Concerning work, I discovered Orange, a really cool tool from Ljubljana for data mining, visualization, and analysis. It makes it particularly easy to apply different machine learning algorithms. Presented some results at our meeting on Wednesday, and I think it’s going in the right direction.

Although it’s easy to get around campus using the free shuttle buses, I absolutely needed a new bike. On Friday, I finally got a new beach cruiser at Walmart for $90. Shiny blue, single speed, single brake, double awesome. I’m happy and complete again. :) Cruising between Spanish mission-style buildings and palm trees in the Californian sun always makes me feel like on holidays—even if I work a lot.

Apart from cruising, I increasingly enjoy running on and around campus. The dish is the perfect place for it, it least if you don’t go at high noon, like I did with Pablo on Saturday. After that (and a frozen yogurt), Csongor and Tania (from Romania/Hungary) made a really great birthday party. They had like 15 different dishes (among them: plum dumplings!) which they had been preparing since Thursday morning. Yummy! (And the beer was good as well.)

We couldn’t party the whole night though, because on Sunday we went surfing again. This time, the waves weren’t as good as the other time, but it was fun nevertheless. Had vegetarian burgers and awesome nacho fries at a spacy restaurant. (We had been starving though, so maybe not the best conditions for rating the actual quality of food…) Played an almost-professional ;) game of beach volleyball. Oh how I love the beach!

We continued our sports session with tennis and basketball on Monday. It’s so convenient if all facilities are just a few meters away. Now I have to rest a little again though, because coming up next weekend is a serious hike in Yosemite, stay tuned!

Surfing USA

This week was pretty busy, but finally here’s what happened last weekend: a lot of fun. :)

Friday was Nuthouse again. Love the music there, in general it’s somewhere around Richard Ashcroft, Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale, which is totally not what you’d expect when you see the place. Oh, and their restrooms are hilarious! :) Diving into the weekend.

On Saturday we (Pablo, Katja, a German au-pair he knows from his English class, and me) went to the Los Altos Art & Wine Festival. Considered buying a cowboy hat, but maybe I should get some cowboy boots first. Lots of beautiful pictures, some good wine, some not-so-good wine. Corndogs. Some really good jazz-funk-pop music with funny people dancing to it.

And finally the story of my much-beloved red cruiser bike: When we returned to the place where we parked our bikes, an elderly woman with her mum awaited us to explain that this was actually her bike which had been stolen from her six years ago but she definitely knew that it was hers so she had called the cops. Cool. How could she know? Well, she worked in this hair studio (right next to the parking lot) and obviously they had some bikes specially branded by one of their suppliers (“Cetrix”), which is of course an almost 100% sure certificate. (Except that there are probably tens of thousands of these bikes.) However, to remove all doubts, she added that she had read in her horoscope that she “would rediscover something that she had lost a long time ago.”

So what could I possibly do about that? Of course, I returned the bike to her, walked home, and felt good about doing the right thing that the stars expected me to do.

In fact, after I promised to send her the phone number of the girl I bought the bike from so she could do some further research about its history, she cancelled the cops—who she knew pretty well, but still they would need a really long time to arrive anyway. It almost seemed like they had more important stuff to do than arresting people accused by horoscopes.

Had some nice Mexican food and some lemonade back in Palo Alto.

Despite drinking no beer at all and getting to bed really early, ;) I almost overslept on Sunday. Probably it would have helped if I had read the emails more carefully so as to know when we would actually start, but I rather woke up randomly, having unusually early, but relaxed breakfast, to finally find out that I was in a rush. Pretty much.

Because on Sunday we went surfing. Yeah! I cruised to the meeting point like I never cruised before, arrived at 7:05 am, still had some time for a coffee at Starbucks, and then we drove down to Santa Cruz. Pretty chilly there, but also pretty cool waves.

I have to admit, the surf lessons in Portugal might have helped a little, so it worked really well. Actually, longboards are so much easier to stand on than shortboards! Riding waves—even if it’s just for a couple of seconds—is just awesome. I definitely want to do it again. For the girls, apart from the waves, our instructor Dave was an attraction of its own. :)

After the lesson, we enjoyed seafood on the Santa Cruz pier, a walk along the beach, and a screamy ride on its National Historic Monument roller coaster. Great fun, great weekend.