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30
Dec 08
Tue

A (belated) Merry Christmas and (premature) Happy New Year

My parents came to visit over the Christmas break. I showed them around the campus, then we spent a few days in San Fran, with a nice daytrip down the coast to Monterey and Carmel. The only thing we did in Monterey was visit the aquarium, which was of particular interest to me since it was one of the filming locations for my favourite Trek movie. As the aquarium doesn’t actually have any whales, nor a whale tank, the digital effects guys had to digitally construct them, along with a backdrop of the San Francisco skyline. The movie was filmed in the 80s and although the aquarium has been updated quite a bit since then, all of the filming spots were pretty much unchanged. Apparently, people have gone to the aquarium after watching Star Trek IV only to be disappointed to find the closest thing to a whale there is the life-sized plastic model they have suspended from the roof.

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South of Monterey is the famed Pebble Beach golf course which borders the Pacific Ocean. At $495 for a round, it’s a rich person’s course. Staying there costs a few thousand bucks a night. One of my dad’s friends had the opportunity to play there, but he unfortunately didn’t have time to enjoy the views. Apparently they place marshalls at each hole to keep players moving quickly – they try and push as many groups through as possible since they clear about $2k for each foursome. There are a whole bunch of golf courses in the area, including Cypress Point. Cypress Point is a very difficult course, but it has some admired holes, including the notorious 16th. It’s a par 3, but to make the front of the green, you have to be able to carry your ball over 200 yards. In between the green and tee area, it’s all ocean. I’d need at least a spoon (3 wood) to make that distance. There’s a “bail out” zone to the left, but you still have to carry 150 yards.

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On the 22nd, we flew into Dallas to spend Christmas with my uncle’s family. It was a chilly zero degrees C when we arrived. One of my cousins is studying in Boston and he had planned to fly in on the same day, but the weather up there was way below zero and his flight was cancelled. He arrived a couple days later.

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I had only been to Dallas once, and that was exactly 15 years ago. My uncle pulled out some old camcorder footage which showed me playing with my cousins in the backyard – we were firing super soakers and chucking water balloons at each other in the dead of winter! This time around, I visited the Sixth Floor Museum, which is housed in the building from which JFK was shot. Quite an interesting place, especially in light of the references to JFK’s civil rights work and display text which was written in a pre-Barack Obama world. Of course, the pall of assassination hanging over the place is sobering, and obviously a concern today. On Christmas Day, we attended a midnight mass which was novelly conducted in English and repeated in Spanish (which really drew out the service…) and went to a Christmas party at a neighbour’s house (to which my uncle’s family had been attending for the last 15 or so years). On Boxing Day, the weather warmed up considerably, hitting an incredible 26 degrees. We took the opportunity to hit the factory outlets. We also did a lot of eating. All in all, it was a good trip.

I’m back in California for New Year’s… I’ve realised that out of the last nine January 1sts, I’ve only been in Australia for one of them. Running back through the past nine New Year’s Days, I’ve been in Hong Kong, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong, Singapore, Lucerne and Hong Kong. Kind of a pity, since Sydney fireworks are such a great spectacle. But I do enjoy Hong Kong where I’m of average height so I can actually see things going on instead of smelling armpits the whole night.

Some photos:
Miscellaneous Bay Area pics
Winter Holiday pics

Facebook is a pretty convenient place to post photos these days. One gripe I have though is that I wish they allowed higher resolution photos (perhaps they eventually will, just as YouTube now caters for HD vids). You can’t make prints from photos 604 pixels wide.

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