Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tales from Abroad, Pasadena Edition - Part 1: Goin' Down California Way...

For those of you who have read my postings but don't exactly know what I do, I fully intend to do an epic post someday on what exactly History and Philosophy of Science is. That should (eventually) make clear(er) why exactly I'm in Pasadena, California. The short answer is this: Nobel-prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman taught here for over twenty years and the majority of his personal papers are in the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) archives. I'm studying him, so I need to be here. Like I said, that's the short answer - I'll fill you in on the details of my project as I go along.

For all the doom and gloom surrounding the tanking economy, you'll be ecstatic to hear that there's an upside to all of this: cheap flights. A few weeks ago I managed to book the cheapest flight I've ever seen listed on Air Canada from Toronto to Los Angeles and ensure myself a couple of weeks (9 days total) digging around in the Caltech archives for some serious research. I've sworn time and time again never to fly Air Canada again, for all the trouble I've had with it for a variety of reasons. But, like a durnkard's Sunday morning vow, I keep coming back. This time, however, everything actually went well and my flights were, dare I say, enjoyable.

Toronto to Calgary, Calgary to Los Angeles - 4 and 3 hour flights, respectively. For "short" flights free food seems to have been replaced by a free entertainment centre that actually worked (the first time I used it years ago it kept on crashing on me). Several episodes of 30 Rock, Mad Men, and the like later, I was ready to land and all was well in the world. Books help too, obviously, but when you're perusing the dozens of movies the little touchscreen in front of you has, the printed word has a remarkable way of getting pushed aside.

Coming into Pasadena was also remarkably easy. Get on the FlyAway bus from the airport ($6) and take the Metrolink Gold line train ($1.25) and you're there. I can't say it was the fastest possible way of doing things, but for $7.25 it got me there alright.

Navigation to the hotel from the Metrolink stop was easy. The moon's pretty full tonight, and a full moon at midnight is due South in the sky. Navigating by the moon takes some practice (it's phase dependent), but it's worth it if you can at least ballpark where South is.

My lodgings for the next two weeks will be the Saga Motor Hotel. From everything I can tell about this place arriving at 11PM, it seems fine. The room's plenty large and fully equipped with the best view of a parking lot money can buy. They've got a pool (it's outdoors, this being California and all), but it looks bigger in the pictures.

Anyway, It's a little past midnight here, which is 3AM, Toronto time. I sense my lunch (bagel and a cookie) and supper (the same, minus the bagel) are insufficient to keep me going much longer. I'll keep these postings quasi-regular until I return, May 22.

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