Philadelphia!

My photo journal has gotten an update to bring it current. Not too much has happened in the past month, except for a trip!

Greg and I went to Philadelphia on the Amtrak last weekend. It was an excellent trip and we saw both the old city and historic sites, as well as the Western part of the city with parks and the university. Philadelphia is a rather beautiful city, and is very walkable too, which is nice.

We took the Amtrak last Thursday starting early in the morning, and it was uneventful. It’s funny how “reasonable” the Amtrak cafe car prices are to me now… $7.25 for a wrap is actually not an unfair price to pay. Maybe it means I’m used to eating better food, or am less concerned about food expenditures in general, now?

We spent the first full day in Philly (Friday) visiting the historic sites with the assumption that Saturday would be busier due to being a weekend. But apparently some schools were in town Friday for a trip (I guess Veteran’s Day weekend is a good time for those?), so everything ended up being super busy anyway, and it was fortunate that we got Independence Hall tour tickets before 9:30. (Literally right after we got ours, a huge swarm of students and teachers descended upon the ticket counter.)

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to take the city hall tour, because they sold out of tickets by the time we got there, so we instead wandered around and had cheesesteak for dinner. Apparently there are two “competing” places for cheesesteak in the city: Pat’s and Geno’s. Pat’s is the “original” cheesesteak, while Geno’s advertises itself as the “best”.


But, really, there was no competition. Geno’s meat tasted fatty and greasy while Pat’s was nice and meaty and flavorful. Pat’s fries were deliciously crisp and potato-y, while Geno’s tasted like eating crispy bits of nothing. Even the peppers were significantly better at Pat’s… their peppers were nice and flavorful and gave just right when you bit into them, while Geno’s seemed under-ripe and under-marinated. Geno’s wins barely for their bread, which doesn’t get as soggy with the meat juices, but it wasn’t enough to really matter. I didn’t dislike the bread at Pat’s anyway.


Still, at $9.50/sandwich and $4.50 for fries, it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll be back to either place, even if I visit Philly again. Pat’s had a good sandwich, sure, but not $14 good.
Afterward, we got to do some nice night photography of the Eastern river.

On Saturday we wandered West from our hotel and explored the museum district and library and park and the river and UPenn. The library (at least the central branch) gives library tours as well as tours of its rare books section, and both are worth going to.

The leaves were also changing color, so it was an excellent time to wander the park and museum district.

The train back was on Sunday, and that was mostly uneventful as well (minus some signal trouble that took 40 minutes to resolve). We went to the Reading Terminal Market in the morning for breakfast (which was at a nice, but kind of overpriced, diner in the building), and I also had the unfortunate experience of wanting to buy food from a vendor, being offered a free sample from them, and deciding to walk away instead. Seriously, how do you manage to make such flavorless jambalaya? I was really looking forward to it too. :\

More photos are here.

In other things, work has been full of super stress lately. I guess in a lot of ways I’m the most senior person on the team now, and so a lot of stuff falls to me, and I kind of wish we had a more experienced or senior person directing everything. I don’t know. I’m kind of a terrible leader. :\ Bah.

I guess I’m doing reasonably at my job from a technical and productivity aspect, but I wish I was better at big picture and organizational things.

(I also wish people would stop filing us huge bugs and issues the week of feature freeze when we’re already scrambling to finish up everything for the release, but that’s not something I have control over.)

Also, as far as followup for CrashPlan seeding goes, it ended in great success. I sent back the drive, they received it and uploaded the data, I left my computer to sync up with the servers overnight, and voilà. My 1 TB of data is now online and able to be restored at my leisure. I’ve been syncing my photos and general updates since then every evening (since my personal laptop is not usually connected to the internet), and it seems to be working fine. Yay for online backups!

Strict Königs-Pittsburgh walk success

We hadn’t been on a long walk yet this year, so yesterday a bunch of us decided to do a modified version of last year’s Königs-Pittsburgh walk… that is, to cross every pedestrian-navigable trans-three-river bridge in Pittsburgh with both endpoints in Pittsburgh exactly once and end back where we started.
Actually, the problem as stated is now impossible thanks to the recently-reopened 31st street bridge (and since the 9th street bridge is open to pedestrians even though it’s closed to traffic), so we added in the 40th and it works out.

The trip itself was a relatively easy 27 miles, so about 12-14 miles shorter than our usual walks. As such, it meant we were able to start at a reasonable time while the sun was up, and finish up before dinner.

Overall, I didn’t have any foot or leg problems (probably because it was shorter) and ended up with no blisters (thanks to the awesome cloth tape), but I did start having back problems toward the end. I guess my back isn’t used to me being upright anymore.

Anyway, we started at 8:42 AM at the Giant Eagle in Shadyside. A few people were supposed to come, but it ended up being only me, Greg, and Keith.

We took a long walk all the way down to the Glenwood bridge, which technically counts due to the small bit of Pittsburgh on the other side of the Monongahela River, crossing it around 10:34 AM.

Next up was a walk along the riverfront trail to the Hot Metal bridge, crossing around 11:53 AM.

After a break for lunch at Panera’s in Oakland until 12:55 PM, we crossed the Birmingham bridge around 1:11 PM.

Next was the 10th Street bridge at 1:34 PM

followed by the Liberty bridge at 2:20 PM.

It started raining around this point, and rained off and on throughout the day. I guess we can’t have a bridge walk without rain. :\
Next was the Smithfield bridge around 2:40 PM.

We met up with Owen at Market Square and then crossed the Fort Pitt bridge around 3:08 PM, finishing up Monongahela river bridges.

After a walk down Carson street, we crossed our only Ohio river bridge, West End, around 3:30 PM.

We met William along the riverside trail on the north side and watched people smashing pumpkins at the Carnegie Science Center. Then we crossed the Fort Duquesne bridge, the first on the Allegheny river at 4:07 PM.

Then it was a quick trek over to the three matching bridges: Roberto Clemente (formerly the 6th Street bridge) around 4:20 PM

Andy Warhol (formerly the 7th street bridge) around 4:25 PM

and Rachel Carson (formerly the 9th street bridge) around 4:34 PM.

Over along the north shore trail to the David McCullough bridge (formerly the 16th street bridge) a bit before 5 PM.

Then through the strip district to the reopened 31st street bridge at 5:25 PM.

At this point, we’d technically crossed every bridge with both endpoints in Pittsburgh, but we were on the north side, so we headed to the 40th street bridge to cross back, hitting it around 6:08 PM.

Made it close to home (detoured to dinner instead) around 6:56 PM. There are more walk photos here.

Overall it was an excellent trip. Greg is kind of disappointed that this will be his first year in Pittsburgh without a 30+ mile walk, but at least he’s still managed to do a 25+ mile walk every year. Which is still impressive.