Wednesday, December 14, 2011

YandA in California II 2011

YandA@AGU  Dec. 2011 Pasadena

Friday most of the nerdi scattered to their various nests. We packed up and had time for lunch  with Mel and Nancy and a visit to the Houdini exhibit. It turns out that this master of illusion was also an expert on exposing fraudulent claims of  connecting with the dead and saved quite a few people from unnecessarily falling into the hands of  scoundrels.
Then we were chauffeured professionally by the Krupp's son Billie to San Mateo, who also took our heavy bags upstairs , to our grateful thanks. The cold weather eventually evolved into rain over the weekend, but our warm welcome  by Fred and Mariel and enjoyment of time spent with Maya could not be quenched by a few gusts of icy wind. (Yes, 11 Centigrade, even with wind chill, will make some of our readers smile, but we are tropical birds).
Maya arrived from Oregon Saturday at noon. and after exchanging hugs with the Krupps joined us on a visit SFMOMA. Some of the exhibitions I (Y) like, some less. A will doubtless have something to say on the subject. We returned by train, which is very efficient, and decided to travel the same way the next way.
Sunday we tried to persuade our hosts to come with us, but they are both less mobile than they were, Fred no longer drives and Mariel is after a knee replacement which limits her movements if not her driving. We went to see the beautiful one-time exhibition of  Italian 15-16th century Masters on loan from the Viennese Museum which we enjoyed very much. Mike
Y could not resist the color inversions
 picked us up at the station and we went  to a very tasty and pleasant meal with the Krupps  at the Afghani restaurant we have frequented before, not without nearly missing our way  because neither of these two scientists  asked the other if he knew where he was...

The flight to LA was delayed by one hour due to weather conditions at LA airport. Although the flight itself was smooth and short – only 55 minutes – the delay was fatal. It took us 3 hours! from landing to get up to normal speed and off the freeway into the streets of Pasadena. The GPS (whom we have named Mabel, the same as our local WAZE ) took us the shortest way – right through downtown at rush hour.
Cityscape taken while stalled downtown

I don't know if Arkee's solution – much longer and roundabout – would have been better, but we were very tired and in need of toilets when we finally arrived. However, today I made good use of the GPS, driving Arkee to work, driving back and to shopping and back to the hotel. Not that a map would not have served, but trying to read street names while driving is not easy, and it is better not to have to stop on the side or  have other drivers hooting at one when hesitating at a traffic light! Arkee having landed me in Pasadena on the one day in the week when the musea are closed, I had to fill up the day somehow. Tomorrow will be cultural!
The evening finished up delightfully with dinner with two colleagues of Arkee's in a noisy Italian restaurant (is there such a thing nowadays as a quiet restaurant where one can hear conversation?).
Conversation – when it could be heard – ranged from religion to Judaism to Israel to human rights and back. A pity our friends cannot be closer.

A: The meeting was good and I got some interesting feedback and had some good discussions. 
Indeed SFMOMA presented a variety of exhibits and some interesting modern takes on what constitutes art.  There was an exhibition of photographs by a young photographer who committed suicide at age 22.  Her work reflected her obvious problems but is of interest and it is sad to speculate how she might have developed had she lived.  
San Francisco is a unique city and I enjoy every visit to it.  The meeting has gotten out of hand in size with over 21,000 participants this year. Note the amount of stashed luggage on the last day.
 In fact, I did   see many people who were there, but could not see everyone whom I had hoped to meet.   In the past splitting has been proposed, but has been rejected by the community.  We will see how long this can go on.
 Tuesday at JPL was very intense and useful.  I have not had a good scientific interaction for quite a while so I really got into it.  An old friend and former collaborator who no longer works at JPL came to see me.  She is Mona Delitsky with whom I wrote a few papers on Neptune long ago.  We had dinner with her and Bonnie my hostess.  Today there were more interactions and then we wended our way to West Los Angeles for a two day visit to UCLA.  It should be most enjoyable.  This time we did much better on the road by ignoring the directions of our friend Mabel and using the roundabout but much less crowded (at least in the direction we were traveling) commuting route that had been useful in the 1986-88 sabbatical at JPL..
Tonight we went out to dinner with cousin Carl Shusterman, his wife Sonya and a friend of theirs to another noisy Italian restaurant in Westwood.  We had a lovely evening with them.  Tomorrow UCLA awaits us.
Y. While Arkee was whiling away his time  with his friends at JPL, I was packing up the hotel room and happily shopping at  THE book store in Pasadena, which fulfilled most of my (our) desires. From there I went finally to the wonderful Norton Simon museum which I had not seen for 30 years, since we lived in Burbank and visited it several times.  I think its collection has no parallel, for its size, in the world. I reveled in the Dutch masters, the Degas dancers, the large selection of Impressionists and 20th century painters and greeted with joy many old friends including the Rodins, Moores and Maillols scattered around the front and back gardens.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself until it was time to join  Mabel again for the trip to pick up Arkee.

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