Live from Berkeley, Part 1

Tonight's posts are coming to you from Berkeley, my home for six years while I was a grad student at the university. I was invited up for a two-day mini conference by my former colleagues at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies and the recently created research group for parallel computing (aka “the View from Berkeley”). The interesting technical topics will have to wait for some other time – though I can't imagine the EECS faculty would enjoy seeing their research reviewed by a blog about cats…

For now it's simply worth noting that I'm sitting out with my laptop and a hot cider at an outdoor on a summer night. It's one of many things to miss from this much larger town, even as conference participants told me how lucky I was to now be living in Santa Cruz. I of course enjoy the ocean and the interesting cast of characters in my current home, but regular readers also know that I often miss being in a more urban environment…

It is interesting to compare Berkeley and Santa Cruz. Berkeley is much larger, more urban and culturally vibrant, better food, and spectacular streets to wander in the hills – stay tuned for more on that in part 2. Santa Cruz has the ocean, it's calm laid-back character, and an interesting community of creative and artistic people. Interestingly, Berkeley had little to no “night-life” in terms of live music and clubs during the time I was there. The nightlife in Santa Cruz is nothing to brag about, either, but it does have several live music venues that have managed to stay open despite the best efforts of residents to close them down – I never understand why people who hate nightlife live in downtown areas. In any case, almost every place in Santa Cruz closes by 10pm except a few clubs/bars, while in Berkeley things at least stayed open until 2am or later. I'm not sure one can conclude much from this comparison, except that either town would be a better place to live than most…

Not too much interesting to describe from a travel point of view, unless you count the Bay Bridge, which I don't think I have drivin in quite a while. There is a lot of contruction on the San Francisco approach, it looks like they might be trying to fix the remaining “errors” left over from the earthquake and subsequent demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway. With the changes to the 101 freeway described in a previous post, the 80/101 corridor might start to look civilized.

Then there is of course the new eastern section of the Bay Bridge (to replace the current seismicly dubious eastern span), which remains under construction. I wonder when they're planning to finish that…

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