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Published: April 21st 2010
The next stop on our journey was in the home of my alma mater - Cal Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. This mouthful is more commonly known as Cal Poly SLO. I have several friends in the area who I've visited about every year for the last 10 years. I used to have meetings in southern California every February, so I'd come up and visit my old college buddies - Kurt and Rich - regularly. Over the last few years, the February meeting has shifted to Austin or San Antonio, so I've visited them on weekends after I had corporate meetings in San Jose.
There's nothing like visiting old college friends to "take me back to my youth" as Grace would say. Just like how my oldest brother Chris made his best friends on the Rugby field, I met Kurt and Rich on the ultimate (frisbee) field. I usually played against them on the intra-mural fields at Cal Poly, but Kurt also played on the college team with me. Off the field, we'd go backpacking or play music together. While I never had much talent for music, Kurt and Rich are avid guitarists and
SB Market Dancers
These Bluegrass Girls were at the SB Saturday market.
have regular guitar sessions with friends. Kurt recently played in front of 150 people with his bandmate - 6' tall siren of a singer - Joy. They're both coming over this Saturday to celebrate my 44th birthday party with music, Grace's food and a campfire.
Rich has been a grade school teacher for 17 years now and has two 4 year old sons to boot. His identical twin sons Jack and Henry are finally at the age when I can have some fun with him. I spent a rainy afternoon (did I mention it's rained three times since my forecast of clear skies until October - someone could have won $15 if they'd taken me up on my bet) with the two boys and Rich. We played slot car racing and did some monkey dancing to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack - see teh video. They liked my hat and love jumping up on me to rip it off my head. We also rode bikes around their home and they went hot tubbing at Kurt's house as well. Rich has his hands full with these two well behaved boys.
They actually listened when I asked them:
my glasses off my face
Don't jump on my feet
Don't put your fingers in my ear
Don't stick your hands in my mouth
Don't step on my crotch
It seemed like a lot of rules, but they seemed to not repeat each infraction on my private parts and found new ways to torture me. These two little guys have found a way into my heart and I'm trying to get their Dad to let them play with me some more. Rich is going to have a jam session at his house on my actual birthday next Monday, so I'm looking forward to that.
I'm trying to find ways to play with Kurt some more too. Kurt's got an active social life and manages to fit me into his schedule. Besides playing multiple guitars, he enjoys surfing, bicycling, music and dancing. He won a dancing contest at a bar the other night by doing the Russian dance where he squats down, crosses his arms and kicks each foot out. He said he hadn't done the dance since grade school, but he does it like he's part Russian. Did Imention he was born in KC?
He's got great endurance and rides his bicycle for miles in the SLO hills and won third place in a half marathon without practicing. He can spin a yarn like nobodies business too, so he's fun to hang out with.
He threw a party the other night and his roommate's band performed. They're pretty much a bluegrass band and Kurt and others could jump in and play along. See the picture with Kurt playing the yellow guitar. I took a picture of the pot luck desserts of frozen guacamole pie. It was more like a key lime pie since Ruth put a few limes in it. He had friends from 7 months to 70 years old over and we all had a nice meal and a good hoedown.
Cal Poly has an annual event known as Poly Royal where prospective students came to visit the University. Cal Poly is similar to K-State in that its featured colleges are engineering, agriculture and architecture. Cal Poly has been ranked as the #1 Public Master's University in the Western United States for the 15th consecutive year by US News and World Report. I got my Bachelor and Masters
degree in EE. It was a nice coincidence that our first weekend in town coincided with Poly Royal.
We toured the engineering buildings and I was glad to see that my photonics club was still going. I was the president of that club for a couple of years and I saw many other engineering clubs on our visit as well. Grace liked seeing the food science clubs where they made chocolate, ice cream and wine - I show a bottle of Cal Poly Red in a picture at the Black Sheep bar with Kurt. We got to see other things they grow on Cal Poly like horses, sheep, cows and citrus. Some other events that have become popular at Cal Poly are the truck pull and rodeo.
Researching Cal Poly on Wikipedia, I found that :
Among public schools whose highest degree is a master's, specific engineering programs were ranked:
Electrical Engineering: #1 (#4 overall)
Computer Engineering: #1 (Tied #3 overall)
Mechanical Engineering: #1 (tied #3 overall)
Industrial Engineering: #2 (#2 overall)
Aerospace Engineering: #3 (#5 overall)
Civil Engineering: #2 (Tied #5 overall)
So it's a good engineering school that is know for hands-on engineers.
Cal Poly's motto is Learn By Doing. So they have many project labs including a new interdisciplinary project lab where different kinds of engineers work together to make something. The new projects lab is important to me because one of the founders of my company Brocade donated the building to Cal Poly. Paul Bonderson made a $6,000,000 donation to the school to make the new building. When they layed out the project as he wanted it, he had to give anothe $3M to make a top notch design. As the project progressed, someone had to approach Paul and ask him for $1M more to finish the courtyard and everything (Grace is standing in the courtyard in the picture). In the end, The Bonderson Engineering Center cost over $10M and Brocade made it happen.
For those in the know, they can't call Poly Royal "Poly Royal" anymore. In 1990, when I was studying in England, they had a riot and banned Poly Royal for a few years. They finally re-opened it as the "Open House". I think they should call it Poly Royal again.
Next time, I'll talk about Laughter Yoga and our 12th Anniversary sushi dinner.
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