Saturday, December 12, 2009

The books I have read: The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is an amazing love story between a woman and a man with a genetic disorder that makes him time travel randomly.

Main characters:
Henry DeTamble - a librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago
Clare Abshire - artist, makes paper sculptures

The novel is narrated in first-person, switching between Clare's point of view and Henry's. Henry begins time traveling at the age of five, jumping forward and backward relative to his own timeline. He is unable to control his travels: when he leaves, where he goes, or how long his trip will last. His destinations are tied to his subconscious—he most often travels to places and times related to his own history. Certain stimuli such as stress can trigger Henry's time traveling; he often goes jogging to keep calm and remain in the present. He also searches out pharmaceuticals in the future that may be able to help control his time traveling. Henry cannot take anything with him into the future or the past; he always arrives naked and then struggles to find clothing, shelter and food.

What I like about this story, is that it starts with older Henry time traveling to 6 year old Clare. She simply believes him that he can travel in time, and thus their love story begins. When Clare is 20, she finally meets Henry from her present, who does not know her and has not lived any of the moments from Clare's childhood. It is a story about discovery, love and relationships.

Beautiful love story.......very sad!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Motorcycle Trip 18

I found this ride on

Santa Teresa Blvd - 6.1 mi.
Right on Bailey Ave - 2.3 mi.
Left on McKean Rd - 2.4 mi.
McKean becomes Uvas Rd - 7.4 mi.
Stop at Uvas Reservoir
Continue Uvas - 2.3 mi.
Right on Watsonville Rd - 3.6 mi.
Right on (152) Hecker Pass Rd - 5.2 mi.
Stop at Mt Madonna
Continue Hecker Pass Rd - 4.5 mi.
Hecker Pass Rd becomes East Lake Ave - 1.7 mi.
Right on Holohan Rd - 1.5 mi.
Holohan Rd becomes Airport Blvd - .6 mi.
Right on Freedom Blvd - 4.9 mi.
Right on Day Valley Rd - 2 mi.
Valencia Rd - 2.6 mi.
Trout Gulch Rd - .5 mi.
Right on Soquel Dr - 3.6 mi.
Right on Porter becomes Soquel/San Jose Rd - 11 mi.
Left on Summit Rd - .2 mi.
Stop at the store on right - .2 mi.
Continue on Summit - 2.5 mi.
Right on Old Santa Cruz Road - 5 mi.
Stop at the Fire Station on the right
This is the end of the ride.

Length: 170km / 106mi
Duration: 3h7m

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trip around East San Jose Hills

Before taking the bike back, Nicu and I did a shorter trip around the Eastern San Jose Hills. We did basically Motorcycle Trip 5.

We started at 8a.m. and went towards Milpitas on the Calaveras Avenue. This continues into Calaveras Rd, then Felter Rd and Sierra Rd. We got a very nice view of the San Jose downtown in the fog, from the top of the Sierra Rd.

We then went onto Hwy 130 towards Mt. Hamilton, then Quimby Rd. The Lake Halls Valley was almost dried out, but that's normal being at the end of summer, just before the rains start.

Finnaly we went on to San Felipe Rd and Metcalf, then onto Monterey Hwy and back to return the bike.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Trip around Santa Cruz

Today was a fantastic day! First trip on motorcycle!!

I rented a Harley Davidson Softail Heritage and went with Nicu on a trip to Santa Cruz and back. We really took our time. First we went to Alice's Restaurant to have lunch. On the way there, in the mountains it became very cold very quickly. Although we had protective gear, it wasn't enough.

At Alice's I had some huge burger called a "Honda"... It's funny as all their burgers have motorcycle names. There were at least 50 motorcycles in front of the restaurant. Lunch time ;)

We took then Hwy 84 down to the Ocean. Awesome ride. Full of twists. Very low traffic. Then we took Hwy 1 South to Santa Cruz. We visited the Lighthouse, then tracked back to Bonny Doon Road. Took Hwy 236 to Hwy 9 and back to Saratoga. Then all the way back home.

Up in the mountains on 236 it was again super cold. Bluejeans are definitely not enough. I need to buy some proper gear... mainly against the wind.

Anyway today's ride was about 9 hours long all in all. We did about 257km (160miles) and it was pure awesomeness. Again!

This was basically Motorcycle Trip 1.

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Motorcycle Trip 17

I found this trip on

It will take you through beautiful Sonoma County from San Jose to I-280, Golden Gate, Olema, Tomales, Bodega Bay (Tides Wharf Inn), Stewarts Point, then back on Tin Barn Rd, King Ridge Rd, Duncan Mills, Nicasio Reservoir, Hwy 101, and back home on the East side of the Bay.

Length: 516km / 321mi
Duration: 8h8m
Difficulty: Intermediate

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Motorcycle Trip 16

I found this trip on
This is similar to Motorcycle Trip 9, only that it can be done with a street bike.

Length: 392km / 244mi
Duration: 7h
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Motorcycle Trip 15

I found this trip on

This is a day trip to Tenaya lake in the Yosemite Park.

Length: 690km / 430mi
Duration: 12h

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Motorcycle Trip 14

I found this trip on

It's very similar to Motorcycle Trip 13, but there is an extra twist. Instead of taking Mines Rd from the Junction, you continue East on Del Puerto Canyon Rd to I-5, then go North until S Coral Hollow Rd, where you go West until Livermore.

Length: 231km / 144mi
Duration: 4h47m
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

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Motorcycle Trip 13

I found this trip on

From San Jose to Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton, pass the summit, then continue onto Livermore through the woods. Eat at Emil Vila's Hick'ry Pit in Livermore, then return to San Jose via the Calaveras Rd.

Length: 172km / 107mi
Duration: 4h
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

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Motorcycle Trip 12

I found this trip on

It takes you from San Jose to Duarte's Restaurant in Pescadero and back over the great Hwy 9, Hwy 1 and Hwy 84.

Length: 222km / 138mi
Duration: 4h35m
Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

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Motorcycle Trip 11

I found this trip on

Length: 347km / 216mi
Duration: 7h
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

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Motorcycle Trip 10

I found this trip on

A lovely ride from San Jose to San Francisco, across the Golden Gate and into Marin County. It goes around the Mt. Tamalpais, Hwy 1, ending up for lunch at the Cheese Factory on Point Reyes Rd.

Length: 320km / 200mi
Duration: 5h
Difficulty: Beginner / Intermediate

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Motorcycle Trip 9

I found this trip on

This is one of our favorite shop rides for dualsport riding, and although it takes a whole day, it never brings you more than a few hours from the bay Area. These are some of the last true dualsport routes open to the public, and it is by no means certain that these will remain open much longer.

The basic route is from Mountain View to Hollister, via either 101 (fast) or Uvas/Mckean Roads, past the reservoirs, paralleling 101 (slower) and rejoining 101 in Gilroy. Take Route 25 into Hollister and be sure to stop for gas, because you are going to need it before the day is over!

From Hollister you head south on 25 as far as Paicines, where you turn left on J 1. The sign is marked New Idria, and that is where you are headed. J 1 is a lovely paved road that takes you to the Panoche Bar, near the turn-off for Little Panoche, which is the continuation of J 1. I recommend stopping at the Panoche Bar for a Coke and a quick look around at one of the nicest old country bars in the area. This is also the only real bathroom stop on the whole route, so be advised.

After leaving the Panoche Bar you want to go straight ahead, (don't turn left on J 1) always bearing right, (southwest) on the New Idria Road. This road is the road that takes you over the mountains to Clear Creek. When you approach the mostly deserted town of New Idria the road gets rough and turns to dirt.

You need to be at least an intermediate rider to have fun on this road, it is a little challenging for a pure beginner. This road climbs to a three-way intersection. Going left takes you to the top of San Benito Peak, but you have to backtrack to this intersection. Going right, up the hill, takes you to the top of Clear Creek and onto the Clear Creek Road that leads down the mountain and back to the Coalinga/San Benito Road. Be careful on this road, there is often dirtbike traffic on it. There is a gate at the top and bottom of this road on the New Idria side. We have often ridden around the gate, but if you are riding around the gate you are definitely on your own on that section of road, and it is not recommended if you are by yourself.

A caution: If it is wet, this road is nearly impassible unless you have knobby tires. The clay turns to a slippery mud. The best time to take the New Idria/Clear Creek Road is a couple of weeks after it has stopped raining so the road can dry out and the mudholes disappear. Then regular dualsport tires are OK for traction.

After riding down the west side of the mountain and across the San Benito River ford at the entrance to Clear Creek, you turn right on the Old Coalinga Road and follow it to a right turn marked Old Hernandez Road. This road is about half dirt and half paved, with one river ford which can be challenging after a rainstorm, otherwise it is no problem. Follow it to its end and turn left, go a short distance and turn right, you are back on Highway 25 heading north. Follow 25 north past the Pinnacles and the twisties, and watch carefully for a gate on the left, with a dirt road marked La Gloria Road. You are only 6 or 7 miles past Pinnacles when this road comes up, so watch for it!

Gloria Road is all dirt, is used by farm trucks and equipment, so watch carefully and don't go too fast. Stop at Chalone Road, the summit, and take a little break. You've been riding several hours by now; pace yourself so you don't get too tired. Gloria Road takes you back to Highway 101 north, and you have the choice of staying on 101 and heading straight back to the Bay Area, or taking Old Stage Road into San Juan Bautista for an early dinner before heading back.

I guarantee you will be tired if you ride this whole route, but you will have a great feeling of accomplishment as well. All the roads I've mentioned are shown on AAA maps, (San Benito County) and I have available copies of my own marked maps at the shop for anyone who wants one.

Allow a whole day for this ride, get started by 9:00 am and you will be home around dinnertime, having accomplished one of the nicest Dualsport rides in the Bay Area.

We must remind you that you are responsible for your own safety on these rides, and that conditions can change rapidly. If you have any doubts about your ability to master the terrain, the depth of the fords, or any other risks, turn back! Your safety is paramount and we don't want you to put yourself at risk unnecessarily.

Feel free to e-mail me for any details or questions.

Best regards,
Reinhold Schmitz

Length: 320km / 200mi
Duration: 1day
Difficulty: Intermediate/Experienced

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Motorcycle Trip 8

Trip around the Santa Cruz mountains. It starts on Hwy 17, Los Gatos, going towards North Santa Cruz, then back near the Uvas Reservoir.

Distange: 144km / 90mi
Duration: 3h30m
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

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Motorcycle Trip 7

Short trip around Southern San Jose, along the 101, with some portions on the highway. Perfect for beginners, with just a few easy curves.

Length: 77km / 48mi
Duration: 1h30m
Difficulty: Beginner

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Motorcycle Trip 6

A trip on the East side of the Bay. It starts from Milpitas, going North near the Calaveras Reservoir, passing Pleasonton, through Castro Valley until Redwood Regional Park, then back South to Fremont.

Length: 115km / 72mi
Duration: 3h6m

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Motorcycle Trip 5

A short trip around the Northern hills of San Jose. It will take you through quite a few twisties, so level should be beginner-intermediate.

Length: 86km / 54mi
Duration: 2h06m
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

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Motorcycle Trip 4

Mega die hard tour, not for the faint hearted. Start from Roseville, first stop in Oroville. Then, it is up the Feather River Canyon, around Lake Almanor to Susanville. North along Highway 139 to Alturas, and accoss the mountains to the Surprise Valley. Return is through the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, Pyramid Lake, and back through Reno and Hwy 80.

Length: 1028km / 640mi
Duration: 15h45m

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Motorcycle Trip 3

I found this trip on the Bay Area Moto Group. It will take you through Sonoma and Napa Valley in the North Bay / Marin County area.

Length: 255km / 159 mi
Duration: 4h17m

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Motorcycle Trip 2

An easier and shorter version of Trip 1, this second trip will take you around Alice's Restaurant, Half Moon Bay, Hwy 1, Santa Cruz, Hwy 9, Boulder Creek.

Length: 172km / 107mi
Duration: 2h45m
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

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Motorcycle Trip 1

Now that I have my rider licence, I started looking for trips. The following is the first trip I found through the Southern Bay mountains.
It is for intermediate-experienced riders, as it goes a lot through mountain twisted roads, but there is really not a lot of traffic on them.

Length: 185km / 115mi
Duration: 4h
Difficulty: Intermediate/Experienced

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Motorcycle Licence

I passed my motorcycle licence today!!! Hurraaaay... Now I can ride in peace.. only thing missing is a motorcycle.

Been to DMV and passed the written examination. I made 3 mistakes, but still ok. As I completed a riding course, I didn't have to pass the skills test anymore.

They took another photo of me and they punched a hole in my current licence in order to invalidate it. So now I have an intermediate licence... or actually a piece of paper, until the new licence comes in mail.

All is hunky dory... but I need to rent a bike if I want to ride now... These things are expensive, plus there's a ton of liability if you fall/scratch one. Plus they rent only mega bikes... all touring and mega Harley Davidsons & BMWs. I would like to start on something easier to handle... Like a Suzuki V-Strom ;)

First weekend in October I'll try rent a smaller bike.. that will be a tiny BMW R 1200 GS... Baby bike >:D<

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chicago Sears Tower

May 7th, 2008. Visiting Chicago once again. This time we climbed to the top of the Sears Tower. Mada likes the elevaor music so much that she shows us some moves ;)

Original date blog can be found here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chicago Planetarium and Aquarium

May 6th, 2008. Day trip to Chicago. We visited Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium.

I am slowly catching up with my video editing. Now the backlog is only 1 year 4 months ;)

Original date blog can be found here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Greg Kihn at Peppertree Ranch

Today we went to the Peppertree Ranch in Hollister to see Greg Kihn and his band. This was an open-air family event/rock concert in the middle of farm land.

The only song I knew from Greg Kihn was Jeopardy, which I really liked and I wanted it to be played at our wedding, but after I listened to the lyrics one more time, I had second thoughts about the message it would convey ;)

This concert was very American - I think I saw 2 Asian faces, one black kid and no Indians at all... which, for California, it's extremely out of the ordinary.

Music was good, beer and wine also good (from the nearby Guerra Cellars). Though we had to leave earlier, as Mada was quite cold.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Java Read/Write Files in UTF-8

Even after several years of Java experience, there still can be confusion reagarding handling of files with different encodings.

One thing that is unclear most of the times is that encoding only makes sense if you are trying to read/write character data. For this Java created the Readers and Writers. They only handle textual content and they bridge byte streams to character streams by encoding/decoding the bytes using a specified encoding (char set). For binaries (or for textual content not actually represented as text) one can use normal input/output byte streams.

Reading textual content from a file using UTF-8 encoding:
public static String getContents(File aFile) {
StringBuffer result = new StringBuffer();
BufferedReader br = null;

try {
int len = 0;
char[] buffer = new char[8192];
br = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(
new FileInputStream(aFile), "UTF-8"));
while ((len = != -1) {
result.append(buffer, 0, len);
} catch (FileNotFoundException fnfe) {
} catch (IOException ioe) {
} finally {
try {
if (br != null) {
} catch (IOException ioe) {

return result.toString();

Writing textual content from a file using UTF-8 encoding:
public static void saveContent(String content, String fileName) {
String directoryName = fileName.substring(0,
if (directoryName.length() > 0) {
File outputFile = new File(directoryName);

BufferedWriter writer = null;
try {
writer = new BufferedWriter(new OutputStreamWriter(
new FileOutputStream(fileName), "UTF-8"));
} catch (Exception e) {
} finally {
try {
if (writer != null) {
} catch (IOException ioe) {

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


May 5th, 2008. Short day trip to Indianapolis... or Indiana? Anyway, Mada explains it for all :)

Original date blog can be found here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tour of Computer Science Department

May 4th, 2008. We were in Lafayette, Indiana at the Computer Science Department of Purdue University. My brother-in-law was showing us his PhD project.

Some of us had no clue what he was talking about, some of us were cranky... all were tired and some were even jet-lagged.

Original date blog can be found here.

Mihai, Here We Come

May 3rd, 2008. All family going to Indiana, Lafayette to visit my brother in law's and witness his commencement. We are now in the Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam), getting ready to board the plane.

Original date blog can be found here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Prima Sonograma

La ora 10 am avut programare la obtetrician pentru primul consult. Am aflat ca nu era saptamina 11 cum credeam ci a 10-a. Mai exact 9 saptamini si 5 zile.

Cu aceasta ocazie doctorul a facut si prima sonograma. Totul a fost in regula, bebele aratind normal pentru saptamina 10 :). Jumatate este cap si jumatate este corp cu minute si picioare in formare. In total bebele are aprox 2.88cm. Am auzit si inima care batea consistent cam cu 150 batai pe minut. Este mult prea devreme sa aflam sexul, asta fiind doar posibil doar inceping cu saptaminile 17-19.

Eu am ramas complet masca cind am vazut pe sonograma cum, la o miscare de-a lui Mada, bebele a facut un hop, a sarit si apoi usor s-a asezat iar pe peretele uterului. Era ceva ireal... asemanator cu unul dintre globurile acelea de Craciun pline cu apa, fulgi de zapada si peisaje de iarna.

Si parca voind sa puna capac suprizei initiale, bratul drept al bebelui s-a ridicat la un moment dat si s-a miscat ritmic de vreo 3-4 ori, ca si cum ne-ar fi facut cu mina.

Daca in weekend ma stresasem la BabiesRus, acum ca am asistat la scena aceasta, mi-a venit rapid inima la loc...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Stres la BabiesRus

Am fost azi pentru prima oara intr-un magazin de bebelusi - BabiesRus. Nu stiam la ce sa ma astept, dar cu siguranta m-a luat prin surprindere cite chestii, chestioare si prostioare sunt de cumparat.

O gramada de lucruri sunt utile si logice, dar au si o gramada de prostii doar de dragul de a cumpara (sau defapt de a-ti vinde) toate timpeniile.

Am facut o lista foarte aproximativa cu ce ne va trebui, si am fost un pic socat de cite chestii are nevoie un bebelus: patut, saltea, asternuturi, asternuturi impermeabile, masuta de schimbat, hainute, salopete, bavetele, sticle, biberoane, lapte praf, carucior, scaun de masina, leagan, unguente, uleiuri, sampon, pudre, vanita de baie, suport de vanita pentru umeri si cap, si cite si mai cite...

Ne asteapta vremuri interesante... ;)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Copilaria Noastra

Tare misto clipul asta... Copilaria Noastra vs Copilaria Voastra.
Trist... Cum stateau la coada la piine si lapte

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Marea Veste

Ne-am trezit ca in orice dimineata, dar am realizat ca trebuie sa facem ceva neobisnuit... Un mic test.

Ca sa confirmam rezultatul testului, am facut si o vizita la doctorul de familie.

Doctorita a zis ca pe sfirsit de Martie 2010, ne putem astepta la un bebe mic si urlator.

Neputind sa tinem o asemenea veste doar pentru noi, am hotarit ca la cina sa mergem cu familia la restaurant. Viitorii bunici, unchiul si matusa au fost primii sa afle vestea.

Am asteptat ora potrivita sa sunam si in Romania sa le spunem si celorlalti viitori bunici. Pe viitorul bunic Mircea l-am prin la volan, conducind spre servici. Nu am realizat ca ar fi trebuit sa ii spunem sa traga pe dreapta, pentru ca reactia lui a fost una demna de galeria Romaniei cistigind Campionatul Mondial: UURRAAAAAAA cu miinile ridicate de pe volan!

Viitoarele strabunice au fost extrem de emotionate.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Weekend în Las Vegas

Weekendul asta am facut o mica iesire in Las Vegas. Am plecat cu masinile de Joi seara, urmind sa stam efectiv in orasul Pacatului Vineri, Simbata, iar Duminica sa ne intoarcem spre casa.

Am ajuns la hotel (Circus Circus) Vineri dimineata pe la ora 2, dupa un maraton de 10 ore de condus. Hotelul a fost foarte ieftin pentru unul de pe Strip, camera fiind doar $50 pe noapte.

Las Vegasul este superlativul kitch-ului. Tot ce este mai de seama in lume (a se citi Europa) a fost copiat si plasat fara gust in Las Vegas. O plimbare pe Strip dezvaluie ochiului piramide egiptene, Sfinxul, piata San Marco din Venetia cu tot cu Campanila, Coloseumul pazit de Cezar (care seamana mai degraba cu Traian, dar ma rog), New York-ul cu vreo 3 zgirie nori de marca (Empire State Building, Turnul Chrysler), podul Brooklyn si Statuia Libertatii. Superlativul absolut insa il detine casino Paris, cu al sau Arc de Triumf si Turnul Eiffel! Se pare ca e adevarata vorba: imitatia este complimentul suprem.

Am fost surprins de cit de inghesuite sunt toate pe Strip. Toate monumentele sunt facute la scara, iar pe sub picioarele Turnului Eiffel este defapt un casino.

Las Vegasul aduce vag a Dubai, dar mai mult prin faptul ca ambele sunt orase artificiale, construite in plin desert. Dubai are eleganta si clasa, opulenta fiind evidenta prin abundenta de apa, lagune, plaje, hoteluri, cladiri, arhitectura si originalitate... Las Vegasul imita doar niste monumente impresionante deja existente in lume. Ma si gindeam in Dubai ca asa trebuie sa isi imagineze arabii Raiul: un loc cu apa din abundenta, cu vegetatie bogata, intetit de lux si relaxare... contrastind cu realitatea locala - desert, seceta...

De dimineata am mers la casinoul din Circus Circus si ne-am incercat norocul. Am jucat intii timid la niste masini si am cam pierdut, asa ca am trecut la masa de ruleta. Toata treaba buna la jucat este ca ti se da de baut din partea casei. Dupa 45 de minute de joc, $100 investiti si 3 bauturi date pe git, ne-am ridicat de la ruleta cu cipsuri in valoare de $95. Ne-am scos macar bauturile :)

Se pare ca moda Las Vegas este sa te tina in casino cit mai mult, asa ca in hotel/casino gasesti absolut de toate, incepind cu restaurante, cafenele si terminind cu parcuri de distractii acoperite! Drept urmare am fost la un restaurant din Circus Circus, unde din nefericire se servea bufet la discretie. Pentru $13, puteai sa maninci cit vrei. Stiam eu de ce nu imi plac locurile astea... am mincat cit am putut si apoi am regretat.

Pe seara am mers ls circ... de data asta un circ adevarat: Cirque du Soleil - Ka. In orice zi, in Las Vegas sunt vreo 3 circuri du Soleil cu diverse reprezentatii; fiecare la alt Casino. Noi am mers la MGM Grand unde ruleaza de vreo 3 ani Ka. Fiind 8 a fost mai ieftin sa inchiriem o limuzina. Spre surpriza noastra, soferul era jumatate ungur, jumatate nicaraguan. Ungureste nu stia decit sa suduie, asa ca ne-am intrecut in apelative :)

Spectacolul a fost de nedescris. Ca toate Circurile du Soleil, nu se folosesc animale ci doar oameni: dansatori, acrobati, jongleri, muzicieni. Sala si decorurile au fost absolut impresionante: spectacol complet de lumini, sunet live, fum, foc si artificii - totul intr-o sala inchisa! Scena pe care se desfasura reprezentatia era mobila, avind 6 grade de libertate: se putea roti dupa 2 axe si culisa vertical sus-jos. Circarii au facut numere inclusiv pe scena ridicata complet vertical indreptata spre sala. Jos palaria!

Dupa circ am luat-o incet spre hotel, plimbindu-ne pe floşter. Am vazut Stripul noaptea. Kitch kitch, dar o splendoare! Din pacate insa am ajuns prea tirziu la Belaggio, deci am ratat jocurile de apa. Nici o problema, venim miine!

Ne-am tirit pe jos pina la hotel (vreo 4km), unde am 'decedat' instantaneu...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

La Traviata

Azi am fost la Traviata. Am luat-o iarasi spre San Francisco. A treia oara, in tot atitea zile.

Inainte de spectacol ne-am incalzit cu niste Marguerite intr-un bar mexican din apropierea Operei.

Spectacolul de azi a fost ultimul din sezon, iar sala a fost complet plina. Noi ne cumparaseram biletele inca din Aprilie, undeva in rindurile de sus $80 bucata.

Ajunsi acasa toti fredonam Brindisi si Zingarelle... drept care am downloadat filmul lui Zeffirelli ;)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Vizita la Muir Woods

In ajun de ziua nationala, guvernul ne-a dat 3 Iulie liber. Asadar, cu familia reunita, am mers sa vizitam padurea Muir, putin la Nord de San Francisco.

Padurea se remarca prin multimea de arbori Sequoia care traiesc aici. Sunt din familia Sempervirens, deci copaceii pot ajunge sa traiasca chiar si 1.000 de ani si pot atinge peste 100m inaltime.

Am facut o plimbare de vreo 2 ore, dupa care ne-am intors in San Francisco si ne-am recompensat cu o mega inghetata la Ghirardelli's.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

O Zi în San Francisco

Mi-am luat o zi libera si am tras o tura in San Francisco cu familia reunita. Intre timp au venit si socrii, deci impreuna cu parintii, am mers cu totii la o zi de vizitat prin urbe.

Am inceput cu ceva pitoresc... si anume Fort Point: fortul de unde pica gagica in golf, din celebrul film Vertigo. Noi am reusit sa ne tinem pe metereze desi era un vint si curent ingrozitor. Micro-climatele din California sunt celebre: in San Jose pot fi 30 grade cu soare si cer senin, iar la 70 km, in San Francisco, pot fi 10 grade cu ploaie, ceata si vijelie.

Am traversat apoi Golden Gate-ul si am facut niste poze de pe malul de Nord, dupa care am continuat sa urcam pe unul din dealurile din spatele podului. De aici se vedea o panorama superba a podului si a orasului. Fiind semi-ceata, orasul se vedea doar partial.

Reintorcindu-ne in urbe, am vizitat leii de mare de la cheiul 39. De vreo 10 ani, pe acest chei si-au facut aparitia lei de mare. Autoritatile portuare i-au lasat sa isi faca culcusul aici, dindu-si seama de atractia turistica ce o reprezinta aceasta mini-gradina zoologica. Bineinteles, si cind am ajuns noi, era o forfota continua, toata lumea dorind sa se pozeze cu lenesii care isi uscau blana la soare.

Am asistat la o scena foarte amuzanta in care un leu de mare voia sa stea pe o dana unde erau ancorate niste ambarcatiuni. De indata ce se suia pe dana, paznicii portului veneau intr-o barca si il hâşâiau de acolo. Suparat, leul de mare le ragea vreo doua si apoi sarea in apa, doar ca sa isi faca aparitia iarasi la urmatoarea dana, aflata cam la 20m departare. Paznicii portului isi manevrau barcuta inspre noua locatie a leului de mare si jocul continua in acest fel. Noi am asistat la vreo 5 reprize, de fiecare data leul de mare revenin pe 'cealalta' dana decit cea de pe care fusese alungat. Peste vreo 10 minute, am observat ca paznicii abandonasera jocul, deci leul de mare statea victorios la soare pe dana lui initiala, linga vasele ancorate... ;) Câştigă cel care insistă!

Dupa ce am luat masa de prinz intr-un restaurant de pe chei, am mers la o tura cu tramvaiul pe cablu. Chestiunea asta este un adevarat magnet pentru turisti, noi fiind nevoiti sa stam la coada peste 20 de minute pina sa ne urcam pe un tramvai. Am mers pina in cartierul Chinezesc, unde ne-am dat jos si am venit inapoi spre statia de pornire. Aceste tramvaie pitoresti au practic un cablu sub sosea de care se agata, vagoanele nefiind dotate cu vreun motor. In acest fel reusesc sa 'urce' dealurile abrupte din San Francisco. La deal in jos, cei doi vatmani frineaza simultan, uneori abia apucind sa opreasca magaoaia sa nu o ia la vale. Frinele de fata si spate trebuie sa fie aplicate simultan, doar una din ele nefiind suficienta. Drept urmare vatmanii comunica, fiecare tragind de o sfoara de capatul careia este legat un clopotel. 2009. Nema hi-tech. Da in schimb super bine la turisti.

La intoarcere, nu am mai prins locuri, asa ca cei trei barbati am stat cocotati si atirnati pe scarile exterioare ale tramvaiului. Imi aduc aminte cum in studentie mergeam pe scarile autobusului 35 din Observator pina pe Baritiu si blagosloveam pe toata lumea. Acum am dat $5 pentru a merge pe scarile tramvaiului, nu am blagoslovit pe nimeni, ba chiar mi-a placut foarte mult ;)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Vin Părinţii

Azi la ora 5 dupa masa au aterizat prima tura de parinti :) Adica familia Cadariu.

Dupa o scurta asteptare de vreo 45 de minute, am aparut si noi (eu cu Mada) la aeroport in intimpinarea lor. Traficul ne facuse o festa urita. In loc de 45 de minute cit dureaza de obicei drumul San Jose - San Francisco Airport, ne-a luat 1h30m.

Am aflat de peripetiile din vama alor mei... si anume cirnatii de casa facuti cu mare truda, impachetati si transportati 15.000 km fusesera detectati de vigilentii vamesi Americani... si drept urmare confiscati. Ai mei erau sa ia si o amenda de $300 pe faza asta, dar pina la urma s-au ales doar cu un avertisment si fara cirnati. Vamesii au fost de neclintiti, rugile neavind nici un rezultat. Mama le-a oferit pina si ca le plateste amenda, dar sa lase cirnatii... Nu a mers! Am ajuns la concluzia ca ceva nu le merge alor mei cind calatoresc cu cirnati! Vezi aici alt incident internaţional implicând cârnaţi româneşti de casă!

In rest zborul a fost foarte ok. Dimineata plecasera din Cluj spre Londra Luton cu WizzAir. Zborul ok, fara suprize, confortabil.. si foarte scurt. Doar 3 ore :) In Londra s-au trambalat de la Luton la Heathrow cu autobusul... iarasi fara incidente, asa ca au ajuns la terminal cu vreo 3 ore inaintea decolarii spre America. Urmatorul segment a fost mai dur: zbor de 10h Londra - San Francisco cu British Airways, dar si acesta s-a petrecut fara probleme (mai putin faza cu cirnatii la sosire). Biletele combinate Cluj-Londra-San Francisco au costat 550Eur dus-intors de caciula, dar au fost cumparate in Martie!

Bine aţi venit in ză United States of AMERICAaaa !

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day weekend

We took advantage this weekend that Monday was a day off so we went to Mount Lassen, more precisely Mineral California, north of San Jose.

We rented a cabin for the weekend and we just spent our weekend around the area. We visited Lassen Volcanic National Park, where we were surprised to see snow even though we were in short sleeve and wearing sun protection. The air was clean, the area gorgeous, quiet and relaxing.

We also ate an amazing milk shake. It was smooth, not too sweet, great flavor. The weekend was really nice, we ate too much.......especially some of us ;).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lick Observatory

The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory, owned and operated by the University of California. It is situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose, California, USA.

The biggest adventure of our trip was to get there, because the road is very narrow, very abrupt, basically you have the road and next to it the emptiness of the mountain....the worst nightmare!!! As you know I am afraid of that was hard.

The observatory was amazing. You get to go inside and a tour guide explained to us how the telescope works. There are also tours where you get to look through the telescope at night. That is next on the list!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Keukenhof, spring 2008. Together with my parents, we are going to visit this gorgeous garden. There are awesome flower arrangements, windmill, fountains and lots of people around them. Lovely sunny weekend!

Original date blog can be found here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Poolside BBQ

We had a very nice BBQ at the pool. Cooking, swimming, cooking and some more swimming. Guests stayed overnight, so we continued the leisure also on Sunday. It was such a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Transforming XML with XSLT using JSTL

Example is using JSTL 1.1 and EL:

<%@taglib prefix="c" uri=""%>
<%@taglib prefix="x" uri=""%>

<c:import var="xml" url="/sample.xhtml"/>
<c:import var="xsl" url="/stlyesheet.xsl"/>

<x:transform xml="${xml}" xslt="${xsl}">
<x:param name="request" value="${pageContext.request}" />
<x:param name="response" value="${pageContext.response}" />

Check also the other JSTL related blogs:
- The JSTL Fine Print
- JSTL request attribute

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sausage and Lamb

Close before Easter 2008. We are preparing the lamb... with some unconventional tools. Also we built a house for sausages... :) Sounds great, I know! :)

Original date blog can be found here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Videoclip Flowers on the Balcony

And yet another video editting marvel. Just one year after the original footage. In here, we are decorating the balcony of our apartment in Amsterdam.

Original date footage blog can be found here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Can't download Firefox from IE

Internet Explorer 7 will not let you download Firefox with error message "You are attempting to download from a site that is not part of the Trusted Sites."

The stupid part is that after you the site to the trusted domains, the download does not continue, so you have to click again on the link. This time of course, the will start the download from a different mirror, which is not in your trusted sites... so the process continues.

I got really annoyed with this and the stupid IE. Problem is, how do I trigger the download?

Finally I used FTP to, or alternatively with user 'anonymous' and empty password.

IE sucks bad!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Videoclip New York Finished - Day 3

I just finished the editting of the New York footage. This is the last day of the weekend in New York in March 2008.

Original date footage blog can be found here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

JSTL request attribute

The following is an example to set/get a request attribute using JSTL 1.1 and EL:

<%@taglib prefix="c" uri=""%>

<c:set var="pageURI" value="tcm:1-2-3" scope="request"/>
PageURI1: <c:out value="${requestScope['pageURI']}"><br/>

<% request.setAttribute("a_b_c_pageURI", "tcm:4-5-6"); %>
PageURI2: ${a_b_c_pageURI}

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Videoclip New York Finished - Day 2

A bit later than usual (about 1 year and 1 month away), but the second day of the visit in New York video is now finished and online.

Original date footage can be found here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The JSTL Fine Print

There are subtle differences between JSTL 1.0 and 1.1. For example at the EL level.

For JSTL 1.0:
<%@taglib prefix="c" uri=""%>
<h1>JSTL here</h1>
<c:set var="bla" value="${}">
Parameter "aaa": <c:out value="${bla}">
Empty: <c:out value="${empty bla}">
<c:set var="browser" value="${header['User-Agent']}">
Browser user agent: <c:out value="${browser}">

For JSTL 1.1:
<%@taglib prefix="c" uri=""%>
<c:set var="bla" value="${}"/>
${bla}: ${!empty bla}
<c:set var="browser" value="${header['User-Agent']}"/>

JSP/Servlet Specifications

I never actually remember these things, so it's time to blog about it...

JSP/Servlet Version

Servlet VersionJSP VersionJSTL VersionJava EE Version
2.5 2.1 1.2 5
2.4 2.0 1.1 1.4
2.3 1.2 1.0 1.3

In order to use Servlet 2.2, the web.xml needs to require it:
<!DOCTYPE web-app PUBLIC "-//Sun Microsystems, Inc.//DTD
Web Application 2.2//EN" "">

For Servlet 2.3, the web.xml starts with:
<!DOCTYPE web-app PUBLIC "-//Sun Microsystems, Inc.//DTD
Web Application 2.3//EN" "">

For Servlet 2.4, the web.xml starts with:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>

<web-app xmlns=""

For Servlet 2.5, the web.xml starts with:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>

<web-app xmlns=""

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Videoclip New York Finished - Day 1

I finished video editting the first day of the New York weekend.

Original blog with the footage available here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How to construct a JSP PageContext outside a JSP

I think it's the third time I was asked how to get a JSP servlet PageContext when you are not on a JSP. The solution is the following:

JspFactory jspxFactory = JspFactory.getDefaultFactory();
PageContext pageContext = jspxFactory.getPageContext(this, request, response, null, true, 8192, true);

Tip: I got this from the decompiled servlet that is always generated from a JSP. Just look in the belly of Tomcat (work folder) and you'll find the actual Java/class file.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vas de fonta la $200

Am facut azi o tura prin Costco (asta e un fel de Metro american) ca sa facem ceva cumparaturi pentru vizita socrilor, si am dat peste un vas de fonta.

Dupa vreo 2 minute mi-am revenit din lesin. Vasul costa $199.99 !!

No comment. Nu am cuvinte. Vorba aia... prost nu e ala care cere. Prost e ala care da !


Monday, April 6, 2009

Registering a truck (part 4 - the end)

Early DMV visit today. I was there at about 8 a.m.. Again, hoping I would not have to wait that much... and again, no such luck.

After about 40 minutes, I got the registration and the sticker. I'm now good to go until April 2010.

It only took 2 drives to the DMV, waiting about 90 minutes, 2 trips to the smog check garage, waiting about 1 hour, 1 trip to another garage, waiting about 90 minutes, 1 trip to Kragen, countless times trying to find the diagnostic screw... and ta-taaa -- I have the registration!

Eaaaaasyyyy ;)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Videoclip First Wedding Anniversary

Today I finished editting the video for our first wedding anniversary.

Original date footage can be found here.

Videoclip Getting The Couch To The 4th Floor

Today I finished editting the video about getting the couch up on the 4th floor.

Original date footage can be found here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Registering a truck (part 3)

One step further... There is progress!

I managed to get the smog test for the truck. This is what I did:

I searched Nissan forums for an explanation on the P1440 EVAP Small Leak and it turned out that it might be a simple gas cap that is not keeping the gas vapors in the gas tank. Apparently, modern cars have this evaporation system pressurised in order to reduce emissions and save on fuel consumption.

Anyway, for about $8, I bought a new gas cap from Autozone and installed it. Next I needed to get rid of the Service Engine Soon (SES) light that was still on. Since Autozone doesn't check/reset the codes anymore (starting from about 6months ago), I went back to the forums. Reading the service manual for engine control on the Nissan Pathfinder 1998, I found out a way to reset the on board computer (ECM) by turning the diagnostic screw on the ECM back and forth. Unfortunatelly, I had little luck locating the diagnostic screw.

After reading the forums up and down, reading and re-reading the service manual, I just could not find the diagnostic screw, so I got so pissed off, that I went to the nearest Kragen shop and I bought an OBD2 scanner for about $75.

I erased the code and redid all the tests. It took about 12 hours until all tests completed. Of course the EV (evap system) test was the last one to clear, but in the end, all of them were OK.

I went back to the smog check garage and got the smog with no problems. The truck's emissions are below 20% of the maximum allowed.

So to summarise: with $8 for a new gas cap, I saved about $700 in repairs, which don't seem to be necessary. The overall investment was about $200, but now I have an ODB2 reader I can use in the future. This makes me feel so good about it ;)

In the next episode, finalising the registration at DMV.
To be continued...

The Books that I have read: The Chronicles Of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia includes seven novels written by C. S. Lewis:

Publication order Chronological order
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe The Magician's Nephew
Prince Caspian The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader The Horse and His Boy
The Silver Chair Prince Caspian
The Horse and His Boy The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Magician's Nephew The Silver Chair
The Last Battle The Last Battle

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:

Main characters:
Lucy - brothers and sisters that travel to Narnia
White Witch - evil character
Aslan - creator of Narnia
the weird Professor - guardian to the children, knows about Narnia

During the World War II, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy end up staying with a weird professor. In his house, they discover a magic wardrobe that takes them to the world of Narnia, which is under an evil spell made by the White Witch. The four children helped by Aslan defeat the White Witch and become the Kings and Queens of Narnia. They spend many happy years in Narnia until by accident they find the entrance to the wardrobe again and they return to reality exactly the moment they left.

Love this quote: "always winter, never Christmas".

Friday, April 3, 2009

Experienta stomatologica

Iata si prima noastra experienta la dentist pe tarimul American. Nici nu stiu de unde sa incep... Nu se compara cu nici o alta vizita la stomatolog.

Am primit un tratament extraordinar. Primul lucru a fost o radiografiere totala. Adica 18 poze la toti dintii existenti si inexistenti. Ma gindesc ce sistem bine pus la punct au astia, incit nu e de mirare ca pe toti arsii si desfiguratii ii pot identifica dupa dinti. Absolut toata lumea care merge la dentist, primeste cite o radiografiere completa la fiecare 5 ani.

A urmat apoi crearea unui 'plan de tratament', si anume identificarea starii actuale a dintilor, atit pe baza inspectiei vizuale cit si folosind radiografiile.

Pasul urmator a fost masurarea adincimii gingiilor pentru a determina daca sunt inflamate. Dentistul practic a masurat cit de ridicata este gingia peste dinte (pentru fiecare dinte se fac 6 masuratori - 3 pe interior si 3 pe exterior).

Pe final a fost curatarea placii bacteriene (detartrare). Intii cu o sonda cu ultrasunete, apoi mecanic cu o bâţăleală cu care râcâia depunerile de pe dinte.

Este o diferenta de la cer la pamint intre cum se lucreaza in America si Romania sau chiar Olanda. In America se pune foarte mult accent pe prevenire (sunt foarte incintat ca am asigurare, ca altfel ar costa binisor). In Olanda sau Romania daca nu te doare, nu trebuie sa vii la dentist -- toate interventiile fiind practic de urgenta.

Peste 3 saptamini urmeaza prima sedinta de lucru, in care imi va pune 2 plombe. Pe termen lung, vor trebui cam 5 coroane peste dinti care nu mai au radacina de ani de zile. Asa ca pe urmatorii 2 ani sunt abonat lunar la dentist.

Intre timp spalam temeinic si curatam cu ata dentara. Uraaaa :)