I am starting to write this post sitting outside “Bad Ass Coffee” (yes, that’s right), at the corner of Old Redwood Highway & Mark W Springs Road, Santa Rosa, CA. Arrived early at the venue, which is a short 5 minutes walk from here; thought I should have some coffee and perhaps write a bit.
Today has been a pretty good day so far. I guess the bad vibes I got from Oakland didn’t really interrupt my sleep as I slept like a rock. Woke up to the sight of my BlackBerry’s LED flashing; 25 new messages, chat requests and whatnot. Thank you all, by the way, for the support; it is much appreciated.
I was pretty excited today as I was going to meet with a person who had a significant role in shaping my career and my approach towards what I’m doing for a living (if any of my ex‐colleagues are reading this… well, that person is the one you should come complaining to about me being a jackass). Jeroen decided to join me for the ride to Menlo Park so by 10:00am we were already on the I‐880 southbound. Beautiful weather but we decided to keep the roof top up… you know, Oakland being so infamous for carjacking.
The road leading south to Menlo Park is quite boring; letting the GPS take us the fastest route, we drove through the Interstate south and then had to cross a toll bridge to get into the Palo‐Alto / Menlo Park area.
Menlo Park is a quite little city, neighbouring with Palo‐Alto, right at the core of Silicon Valley. People here appear to be very satisfied with their lives; could you blame them, really? No building there is more than two stories high, and everything’s clean, tidy and—of course—green. Later I came to know that the perfect weather I experienced there was actually winter; during the winter, Menlo Park gets five days of rain every month; during the rest of the year, weather is pretty much steady at around “perfect”—sunny skies, maybe the occasional cloud or two.
Nothing in this beauty would of course make any sense to me while my stomach is empty, so I went looking for a place to eat before meeting with my friend. We stopped at Cafe Borrone, which, by the looks of it, appears to be “the place to be” in Menlo Park:
Very good eggs / feta / spinach for breakfast and I was happy enough to start the day. Jeroen and I part ways—he went researching the area (and later said that he’s very happy to have joined me as this is a beautiful city), and I went to meet with my friend, who answers to the name Ehud (very common Israeli name; he goes by “Ed” now).
Some background: Ehud and I first met in 1996 when I was fresh out of high school, working where all 18 years old have to go work for where I grew up (I should note that most of my friends share this very same background, and we all know each other rather well). He’s four or five years older than I am, and when I joined that organization, Ehud’s task was to transfer some knowledge to me, as well as guide me through some projects. In other words, he was my mentor.
Now, granted, everybody knows somebody who knows a little bit about everything. Well, Ehud is pretty much like that, only that he knows an awful lot about an awful lots of things, and has very well‐defined opinions about pretty much whatever you can mention in a conversation. In his 36 or 37 years, he managed to get his PhD, instruct a few university courses, refuse a bunch of offers to join the software industry (preferring the academia instead), write numerous articles about his area of expertise, learn about pretty much any computer programming language in existence, get married, have a kid, move to Silicon Valley, travel around North America… now that’s a lot. My thought of myself as an “achiever” really appear shrunk and meaningless when compared to what this guy had done.
By the way, his wife is a PhD as well. Talk about an intelligent family.
It was great to meet with him again after so long. I was introduced to the family’s new addition, a sweet 6 months old girl named Aya, who appeared to be thrilled to see me. We then sat down in his living room and the conversation didn’t even take one minute break. Later we went outside, walking towards the same cafe I had breakfast in, and talked for another hour or so, about everything.
Jeroen then returned (as we had to start driving north towards Santa Rosa), so the three of us stayed for a few minutes chatting.
As we really had to hit the road, we escorted Ehud back to his house and bid each other farewell. I’m happy to have had the chance to meet with him. Thanks Ehud, and see you soon!
The road north towards Santa Rosa was nothing short of a thrill. The GPS guided us through valleys, hills and rivers; with a clear blue sky, perfect visibility and crisp air, the feeling of total freedom crept in. And what better way is there to celebrate such a feeling, than loading Eddie Vedder’s “Into the Wild” soundtrack and listening to Hard Sun while enjoying the view?
People here are happy:
A short while later, the Golden Gate bridge…
We then noticed that, driving north on the bridge, there’s a visa point right at the bridge’s end. It’s hard to describe how beautiful the views are from that viewpoint, especially in perfect sunny weather.
San Francisco’s skyline…
The camera’s battery then suddenly died, so we proceeded with driving towards Santa Rosa. A few traffic jams here and there. We did follow Alex Flagg’s recommendation and detoured through highway 121—what a beautiful area Sonoma Valley is. Stopped for late lunch at Angelo’s Wine and Country Deli—delicious sandwiches, and arrived at the venue approximately one hour ago at 5:30pm.
Venue’s doors open shortly so we’ll pack our stuff now and head back to the venue.