Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Answer: To the Universe - And Beyond

I haven't traveled from home much lately, but my drive to explore must be satisfied. So I decided to spend some time on Galaxy Zoo, which I first found out about from an astrophysicist at CalTech. This is just the most far-out traveling I have ever done, visiting the ever-expanding edges of the known universe.

Galaxy Zoo is an on-line science web site started back in 2007. Astrophysicists were literally drowning in data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and later the Hubble space telescope survey. What to do? Why, use the internet to solve the problem and invite volunteers from the general public to classify the deep space objects. According to a member of the team behind the project, Kevin Schawinski, "The human brain is actually much better than a computer at these pattern-recognition tasks."

Sounded like fun to me. I ran through the on-line tutorial, explored and classified some galaxies, then promptly forgot about it for 3 years. But after my last astronomy club meeting, I was reinspired to visit "The Zoo" again. And I can't believe what I found! This image is pretty exciting stuff. All my amateur astronomy friends have never seen anything like it before. It may be the result of galaxies colliding sometime in the far past. I've forwarded the image on to some researchers. We'll see if anything interesting comes of it.

To the Universe - And Beyond

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Three Stooges

Big Business Icons or Classic Comedy?
I recently visited a sales business unit of a large multinational corporation. This is one of the hubs of "making things happen" for this company. The employees on this team represent the company to its clients and its products are expected to solve problems that have a direct impact on the bottom line.

I happened to glance over at a nearby conference room. It was painted in bright colors, had a very professional looking meeting table, brand new chairs, flat-screen TV monitor for presentations, and a refreshment bar. In short, it looked like a place where clients and employees could come together and do business.  But what was that poster on the wall? For three days, the mysterious images preyed on my mind until finally, I determined to detour from my usual route and investigate.

What I saw shocked me nearly to the point of ROFLMAO. After a quick glance around to make sure no one  was watching me, I pulled out my cell phone and snapped a quick photo of Larry, Moe and Curly, The Three Stooges, in their new roles as Big Business Icons inspiring the new generation of sales teams.

P.S. And now, for something completely different! This video is just odd enough to earn its title ROFLMAO.

Marriott's in Pasadena, CA

I was surprised to find there are a vast number of Marriott's hotels within blocks of each other in the Monrovia/Arcardia/Pasadena area. We chose the SpringHill Suites.

I was spoiled in South America, because in Buenos Aires and Lima the Marriotts are 5 star luxury hotels. In California, most Marriotts hotels are 3-4 star business hotels. The SprinHill Suites hotel is a small property, near the freeway, and with plenty to do nearby.

The hotel has a swimming pool and an exercise room.
We found the exercise room small, but functional. There were no weights, but there were two treadmills, a stair stepper and an exercise ball. I managed to work up a sweat, so no complaints.

Each room is a small suite, nicely laid out with separate areas to work, entertain, and sleep. A free breakfast was included with our room. Decor is simple, but attractive. Soundproofing is minimal between floors. At 10:45 PM what sounded like a troupe of gymnasts made quite a ruckus in the room above us.

Towels are functional, but not luxurious. They are folded attactively. All the usual amenities are provided, with a sea kelp theme.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Easy Cheesecake in Buenos Aires

While in Buenos Aires, I quickly fell in love with Siga la Vaca and enjoyed many a wonderful dinner there. Being a serious devotee of cheesecake, I was anxious to try the Argentinian version of this delightful dessert. Siga la Vaca served up a beautiful slice drenched in blueberries, almost a compote.

The blueberries were the perfect blend of sweet and tart.

The cheesecake was like no other cheesecake I'd tasted before. The texture was firm, similar to a flan. It was a much lighter flavor than even a whipped cheesecake from America. A palate-broadening experience.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Almandrada in Buenos Aires

While in Buenos Aires, my favorite restaurant was Siga la Vaca by the port. It is gourmet quality food served buffet style. The meal includes wine and dessert. This trip I decided to try the Almandrada ice cream. I was served a slab of rich vanilla ice cream, encrusted with almonds, and infused with amaretto flavor. In a word, it was simply divine.