Day 30 - Packed

As a German abroad, I take pleasure in being able to buy things on Sundays -- especially after I spent some time living in Bavaria, the state with the strictest shop closing laws in all of Germany. (If you care: Stores in Bavaria must close at 8pm Monday through Saturday, and on Sundays stores are closed in all of Germany by federal law).

So I decided to do a home improvement project (semi-voluntarily), and took the car to the friendly home improvement store at the mall, just to find out that going to the mall on a Sunday wasn't exactly an original idea. After 10 minutes of looking for a parking spot, I gave up and instead walked to the store, so I ended up carrying the somewhat unhandy materials I bought home by hand. Sunday workout, check.

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Today, Tara and I ran our first, 5k foot race, at the Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont. We finished the 3.5 miles (that's 5.6 km, trail races tend to be a little longer than their nominal distance) in right about 42 minutes. Had there not been a few spots where one could not pass for a while, we'd probably have shaved another few minutes off this, but in general, I am happy with the result!

Here are the two proud runners, with their medals, after coming home:

Day 29 - Tara after the race Day 29 - Fred after the race

There are also a few more photos of us running in a set on flickr, taken by some volunteers around the track. Like this one:

Last Quarter Mile

How fun!

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Day 28 - Command Dogs on Duty

This is a sign on an industrial facility around here. Looks like is has suffered under the hard, Northern Californian winter (wait, what?) quite a bit. Of course, that doesn't exactly explain what command dogs are (Google is of little help) and how they differ from regular guard dogs. Oh, and what about when they are off duty? Questions, questions.

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In a recent comic, The Oatmeal asked tumblr to blame their service outages on an imaginary animal like twitter's Fail Whale and promptly came up with one, the Tumbeasts.

What's awesome is that Tumblr actually did end up using his artwork on their error page. This is what it looks like:

Mad props to the Oatmeal and Tumblr for this stellar addition to my fail pet collection!

And thanks to michaelk for pointing it out to me!

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Day 27 - California Republic

This is a bumper sticker I saw on a parked car today. As Wikipedia so nicely teaches me, the Flag of California is a reference to the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846, four years before California became a state. The bear flag, however, was not legally made the state flag until 1911.

I find the flag to be relatively rarely used around here by private people, while the US flag is omnipresent. It seems, people have less of a need to declare their regional than their national affinity. (In Germany, this is quite different, but I'll save that story until a later photo. Bear with me.)

This is a 14mm wide-angle photograph, which is why you can nicely see the distortions at the edges. My wide-angle lense is stuck open at its maximum, f/3.5 aperture, so it doesn't take the sharpest pictures, but I still like it.

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Day 26 - Certified!

Today I got (re-)certified for CPR! The photo shows a handy little bag with a CPR face mask in it.

It was my third first-aid class, but this was the first time that I learned how to do infant CPR (and perform it on a baby-sized mannequin). It was also only the second time I got to try out an AED. (In case you're wondering, they are so simple a kid can use them).

Now let's all still refrain from having heart attacks in my general vicinity, will ya?

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Day 25 - Fireplace

This is a picture of our gas fireplace. Turned out to be a much more interesting subject than I expected. It is quite hard to take a decent photo of it, because the brightness contrast between the (fake) logs and the flames is so high. Due to the quick movement, a simple HDR photograph is also out of the question. Finally, when adding enough ambient light, the glass in front of the fireplace results in visible reflections from all angles. This photo is one of the latter kind, with enough ambient light, but it quite obviously shows a reflection of the opposite wall on the right hand side of the picture.

Apparently, I am due for buying a polarizing filter soon! Then, I can retake the picture and see how the two compare.

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Day 24 - More Juice!

Two weeks ago, my two-year-old laptop battery decided to kick the bucket and give me a whopping 40 minutes of maximum runtime before suddenly switching off. No bueno! Today, the replacement arrived.

On the upside, though, this really helps keeping meetings short and sweet when you're about to run out of battery any minute. You should try it sometime!

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Day 23 - Petroleum Pipeline

Turns out, we live in the general vicinity of a petroleum pipeline. So we are advised (and actually, required by state law) to hold our digging, until the exact location of the pipeline has been marked with little yellow flags. This doesn't only go for serious excavations (as in, building a house, if anyone here built basements), but also putting up a fence and the like.

Luckily, it doesn't actually cross our rental property, or it would look as disturbing as in this picture on a flyer we received recently in the mail:

Pipelines in your community

There's little that would make me feel more fuzzy and warm on the inside than have my kids run around and play just a few feet above a dangerous oil pipeline.

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Day 22 - V8 Kompressor

When taking our dog on a walk, we come by some really nice cars. Like this one (A Mercedes -- thus the "K" in "Kompressor"). Why they are parked outside, I am not sure: Either the owners want to show them off. Or they can't fit them into their two-car garages because two thirds of it are taken up by their everyday vehicle (Yukon XL, anyone?) and the other third is spent on random storage. Or both?

I begin to love the 50mm prime lens as my primary lens. I have to employ my "foot zoom" alot, but it takes fantastic pictures.

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