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Seattle - Accretions

Fata Morgana
2003-09-07 23:45
Seattle
Public
enchanted
What a lovely inn! I have an old-fashioned room with a washbasin and window-seat, there are cookies in the parlour, and there's even a computer room with ethernet cables just lying around, waiting to be used! Just what I'll need for a bit of late-night Programming Languages hacking ....

It has almost made me forget my bus fiasco getting here. I've had terrible luck with buses lately - I spent four hours getting to Metronome Ballroom and back last Friday when it should have taken two, and two hours getting from Seattle airport to campus when it should have taken one; and I gave up on the bus that would take me to my recalcitrant car on Friday afternoon, accepting a ride from a stranger instead (a nice one ... with a Prius ...). If public transit were more reliable, maybe people wouldn't be so wedded to their cars! ...

On a more positive note, I very much enjoyed crossing the Bay Bridge in a bus - I was several feet higher than the drivers of even the most monstrous SUVs, and had amazing views of Coit Tower, Golden Gate, and even Oakland's human waste processing plant (from now on I'll know precisely where that odious smell is coming from when I'm on the freeway :~)), when in my low car I'd only see the bridge's wall (or I'd be too busy driving to see anything at all). I was able to pick out the waste processing plant from the plane this afternoon, too.

There were high cirrus and cirrocumulus clouds over the Bay Area, so for a good half hour I had lovely views of the cities and hills beyond from my plane window. After we rose above the clouds, I saw a glory around the plane's shadow - a compact rainbow no more than 10 degrees in diameter. There was another glory about 30 degrees to the right of the primary one - an effect I hadn't seen before, and can't seem to find any information about. (Anyone out there know about supplemental glories? It had the same circular shape and all, just not the plane's shadow in the center.) And finally, as we descended into Seattle I saw the bottom half of a 42-degree rainbow over downtown. Lovely! I took pictures of much of this, and if any of them are any good I'll post them later.

This week, in addition to frantically finishing my Programming Languages project, grading 170 homeworks, reading for my Development in the Third World class, and enjoying this little retreat, I will run a passel of user studies, starting at 8:30am tomorrow! I'll be back in Berkeley next Saturday.

One last thing - I was wrestling with this interesting problem for Computability and Complexity earlier today, and thought I'd share:

"Ann and Bob are sitting at a table. On the table there is a square tray with four glasses at the corners. Bob's goal is to turn all the glasses either right-side up or upside down. However, Bob is blindfolded and he is wearing mittens. He does not know the initial state of the glasses. If they are initially all turned the same way, then Bob automatically wins. Otherwise, Bob may grab one or two glasses and turn them over. Because of the blindfold and mittens he cannot see or feel whether the glasses he grabs are right-side up or upside down. He can, however, choose whether to grab adjacent glasses or diagonally opposite glasses. If the glasses are all turned the same direction, Ann announces that Bob has won. Otherwise, Ann may rotate the tray, just to make Bob's goal harder. Then the game repeats, with Bob, in each of his moves, either turning one glass or turning two adjacent glasses or turning two diagonally opposite glasses, and Ann, in each of her moves, rotating the tray by any amount. Find the shortest sequence of actions by which Bob is guaranteed to win the game, no matter what the initial state and no matter how Ann plays."
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nikita
hukuma
2003-09-08 06:09 (UTC)
(no subject)
Ah, but if people weren't so wedded to their cars, public transit would be more reliable. :) I've only had the high viewpoint while crossing the bridge a couple times during my time in the Bay Area; it's pretty.
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Fata Morgana
chimerically
2003-09-08 10:25 (UTC)
(no subject)
So true - the usual chicken-and-egg problem. Even if drivers were trained to be more prompt and courteous (AC Transit drivers are the worst I've encountered anywhere - there's a lot of room for improvement :~)), there's still the issue of winning back the trust of people who had been burned.

Another problem with buses is that in general (excepting carpool and bus-only lanes), they are subject to the same delays and traffic-jams as cars - so the only benefit you have by taking the bus is avoiding driving (and maybe saving money, with gas at $2/gal and bridge tolls another $2, and class passes to boot). Heavy-rail transit, in contrast, can take less time, cost less (except BART, which last I heard was the most expensive transit in the world save the London Tube), and give a smoother ride.
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jillB
jilflirt
2003-09-08 11:40 (UTC)
(no subject)
Thank you for that lovely account of your trip. I felt relaxed just reading it. Have fun!
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Fata Morgana
chimerically
2003-09-08 15:51 (UTC)
(no subject)
I'm glad it had that effect on you! :~) I hope you have a good week too.
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