A roundabout with a stop sign? Confused? So was this Cute Google Self-Driving Car. Enjoy this video!

Mountain View, California. The heart of Silicon Valley. Where in our local streets, you can actually find roundabouts. Yes the type you see everywhere in Australia and UK. Not the norm for US. But, something is difference. The Roundabouts here also have a Stop sign. Yes, the traditional stop sign you see at just about every street in the USA. Now we know a roundabout’s purpose is to keep traffic moving while a stop sign’s is to stop traffic. The 2 together are counter intuitive right? Even for a Google Self-Driving Car.

Now what would happen when you have a roundabout and you must give way to your left? Confused? Me too. Even for the new 100% automated robots cruising the local streets of Mountain View. Those cute bubble Google Self-Driving Cars. These cute self-driving cars have been around Mountain View for the past few months. They are the future of transportation. An awe of inspiration to see. A Borg like intelligence, developed by mankind up the road at Google HQ, is making autonomous decisions in transporting humans. This is the pinnacle of human innovation! They are still in closed Beta mode. Carry max 2 people. One day I hope to get an opportunity to order a lift from my smartphone.

So back to the roundabout and stop sign issue. We know the scene. We know the car. Now check out the video my wife recorded of this Google self driving car getting confused as it pulls up to such a roundabout with a stop sign. PS. I did some edits to the video to add character in good spirit. Enjoy!

Farmers Markets: bay area fresh organic produce suppliers

Farmers Markets in California is a must for every food buff. This is the best place to buy locally grown, fresh and organic produce. Everything is reasonably priced so it wont send your wallet home empty. In comparison to Sydney (AU) prices, expect to pay the same amount as you would at Woolworths or Coles but here you get fresh organic produce for the same price.

Benefits of shopping at Farmers Markets

  • Obtain farm-fresh fruits and vegetables that travel a shorter farm-to-table trip.
  • Purchase directly from a family farm.
  • Obtain cultural/specialty fruits and vegetables not easily available in supermarkets.
  • Purchase of local products, which strengthen the local economy while decreasing the demand on transportation from outlying areas.

Being a Mountain View resident I like to take a walk down to the Markets most Sunday mornings and grab this healthy produce.. in between all the free sample of fruits and other goodies! Yum.

About Mountain View Farmers Markets

“The City of Mountain View is proud to have one of the best certified farmers’ markets in the Bay Area right here in our own backyard! The Market is operated by the California Farmers Market Association and is open every Sunday from 9:00 a.m.-to 1:00 p.m. The widely attended and acclaimed market features over 70 growers and food vendors with peak season produce, including organic produce, as well as many other offerings. You can enjoy a day of shopping for the freshest ingredients.” Source: http://www.mountainview.gov/…

“Consistently award-winning farmers’ market for over 15 years and within the top 5 largest farmers’ markets in California! Farm fresh fruits and vegetables in Downtown Mountain View every week, rain or shine. Mountain View farmers’ market was awarded # 1 Favorite Farmers’ Market in the Bay Area by the American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers’ Market Contest. The Mountain View Farmers’ Market was also awarded # 2 Favorite Farmers’ Market in the State of California, and # 5 Favorite Large Farmers’ Market in America! With over 80 farmers and food producers, you can do all of your shopping while getting to know the farm that grows your food.”
Source: http://cafarmersmkts.com/…

Where and when?

Location: Caltrain Station Car Park, Mountain View
Time: Every Sunday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
More here: http://cafarmersmkts.com/markets/category/mountain-view

My top 3 yummy for my tummy must haves

  • The 2 fish stands are finger lickin good. Try the fresh smoked wild salmon at 2 for $22! Freaking awesome. Then the fresh wild caught sashimi grade salmon stand further up. The fish colors are bursting with brightness – that’s what you call organic and fresh.
  • ACME bread smells & tastes amazing. The texture & fresh crispiness of the bread is superb. They only deliver this fully organic bread to local resturants so this is an opportunity to grab restaurant quality bread. At few bucks it’s cheap as chips.
  • Morganic Hill Honey is an orchestra to your mouth. Grab the Dark Buckwheat – it’s unique texture and health benefits are a must to try at $9 per pound. Darker then most honey you see in store this is a fine delicacy, and different than that of a commercialstore purchased honey. Goes perfectly well on ACME bread and also an alternative tea sweetener.

Pictures from Mountain View Farmers Markets

Click on each picture to open it up in a larger view. Larger pictures open up in my Flickr account. Feel free to explore other photos there of Silicon Valley.

Farmers Markets - stalls Farmers Markets - ACME bread
Farmers Markets - ACME bread Farmers Markets - free fruit tasting
Farmers Markets - Ula picking fresh organic fruit Farmers Markets - berry heaven
Farmers Markets - organic strawberries Farmers Markets - more berries
Farmers Markets - fresh wild salmon Farmers Markets - fresh wild tuna
Farmers Markets - yummy honey Farmers Markets - carrott anyone?
Farmers Markets - a farmer Farmers Markets - strolling down

Finally check out this website which lists all the local farmers in the California area supplying fresh organic produce to Silicon Valley: http://www.localharvest.org/

Enjoy!

~ Ernest

Skydive from 18,000ft in Santa Barbara

It was a rush! We passed the 12,000 feet marker and we had to put on gas masks to breath. Air at this height is very thin. Few seconds later the plane’s hangar door opened, the noise of wind rushing filled the small plane and we had to relay on hand signals to communicate. I hanged my legs over the edge of an airplane buzzing at 18,000 feet over Santa Barbara with panoramic ocean views… and then I jumped!

At 18,000 feet
At 18,000 feet - that's me in the green shirt

The first few seconds were exactly like the pivot point one reaches during a meditation session. My mind just stopped. Stillness.. peace, freedom. Time stopped. I was awake, aware and overwhelmed. Few seconds later the rush of adrenalin filled my body and I was screaming over the top of my lungs from the thrill of a Skydive out of an airplane at 18,000 feet over Santa Barbara in California USA.

The Plane which took us to 18,000 feet
The Plane which took us to 18,000 feet

Skydive Santa Barbara

Skydive Santa Barbara is the only drop zone in California to feature 270 degree panoramic ocean views on every jump. Additionally they are the only skydiving center in the Los Angeles area to offer tandem jumps from 18,000ft, the highest tandem jump in the world.

Skydive Santa Barbara is fully recognized by the FAA and has operated daily for the last 15 years with an untarnished safety record.

My jump on video

My brother and a friend visited us in July 2010 and we (including my wife) decided we wanted to seek some thrills. On our drive to Los Angeles we stopped by the Lompoc airport for a 18,000ft Skydive. Here is the video of the event.

Skydive Santa Barbara Website:
http://www.skydivesantabarbara.com/

Skydive Santa Barbara
1801 N H St Suite G
Lompoc, CA 93436

Yelp review:
http://www.yelp.com/biz/santa-barbara-sky-diving-lompoc

Please use the comments below to share your experience and ask questions!

Enjoy your jump!

Ernest

Mountain View, the heart of Silicon Valley

After spending a good deal moving around between apartments, I decided to call Mountain View my home. Mountain View is a city in Santa Clara County, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is named for its views of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The city shares its borders with the cities of Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Sunnyvale, as well as Moffett Federal Airfield and the San Francisco Bay. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 70,708. For more information about Mountain View visit this Wikipedia article.

Downtown Mountain View, Castro Street
Downtown Mountain View, Castro Street - love the mountains

Downtown Mountain View is the place to be for food and hanging out at Red Rock. Great cafes, bars and restaurants are located on Castro Street. The picture above is of Castro Street. It’s always busy here even late into the night and you are surely going to spot a number of sport and luxury cars like Audi R8, Porsche 911 GT4 et al.

Downtown Mountain View, Castro Street
Downtown Mountain View, Castro Street
Microsoft bus shuttle service
Microsoft bus shuttle service thru Mountain View

Mountain View is a cute little town home to many high technology companies.

Tech companies located in Mountain View

Here is a list of high tech companies you would have heard or know of that have their head office located in my new home town, Mountain View.

Coupons.com
The leader in digital coupons, including online printable, social, mobile and loyalty card promotions. The billion dollar company, Coupons, Inc. is the driving force in transforming the multi-billion dollar coupon industry and ushering it into the digital world. http://www.coupons.com/

GooglePlex
Headquarters of the multinational public cloud computing, Internet search, and advertising technologies corporation. The company was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, often dubbed the “Google Guys”, while the two were attending Stanford University as Ph.D. candidates.
http://www.google.com/

Y-Combinator
Y Combinator is an American seed-stage startup funding firm, started in 2005 by Paul Graham, Robert Morris, Trevor Blackwell, and Jessica Livingston. Y Combinator provides seed money, advice, and connections at two 3-month programs per year. In exchange, they take an average of about 6% of the company’s equity.
http://www.ycombinator.com/
Also the group behind extremely popular hacker news site:
http://news.ycombinator.com/

Symantec Corporation
The largest maker of personal computer security software. Symantec’s consumer antivirus and data management utilities are marketed under Peter “Norton’s” name.
http://www.symantec.com/

eLance
Provides an Internet virtual marketplace for freelancers and freelance agencies to negotiate work contracts with businesses that hire independent professionals and agencies.
http://www.elance.com/

LinkedIn
Is a business-oriented social networking site mainly used for professional networking.
Very common amongst business and technology professionals.
http://www.linkedin.com/
I’m on LinkedIn – let’s connect: http://www.linkedin.com/in/semerda

Mozilla Corporation
Developer of Internet-related applications such as the famous Mozilla Firefox.
http://www.mozilla.com/

Mint.com
Mint.com is a free web-based personal financial management service allowing users to track bank, credit card, investment, and loan transactions and balances through a single user interface.
Personally this is the BEST financial product I have ever used online!
http://www.mint.com/

23andMe
Privately held personal genomics and biotechnology company founded by Anne Wojcicki and married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
http://www.23andme.com/

Google WiFi for Mountain View is provided free of charge to all Google customers in Mountain View as part of Google’s efforts to reach out to their hometown. It’s not the quickest but it works well with Google Voice and when surfing the web at one of the cafe’s in the area. Look out for a WiFi connection called “GoogleWiFi”. Kudos to Google!

Me (Ernest) at Googleplex
Me (Ernest) at Googleplex

The full list of companies can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Companies_based_in_Mountain_View,_California

Who would have thought that one day I’d be passing every morning VeriSign, Symantec, HP and eLance on my way to work. And around the corner from where all these companies are is the Lockheed-Martin air base so I get to see some cool planes fly around. Still waiting for that UFO experience!

Ernest