I arrived at San Jose International airport last night. I'm in town to attend the MySQL User Conference, but of course I'm also in town to experience a new location.
The first half hour or so was relatively benign; while I knew the hotel I was staying at offered complimentary shuttle to / from the airport, the idea of calling and actually arranging for the shuttle didn't occur to me until I was already standing at the courtesy shuttle waiting area. The hotel front desk warned me that it would be a bit of a wait (hinting, I think, that I should consider alternate modes of transportation). but I had my latest issue of the Harper's magazine so I didn't mind the wait.
Even though California has a reputation as a liberal state, I still felt rather conspicuous-yet-provocative reading the flagship journal of liberal thought. Article of the moment: something exploring the relationship between evangelical Christianity and economics (political economics, to be somewhat more precise, with a focus on capitalism of course). So I was thinking about this a little bit as my ride arrived, and trying not to be just rational man in town for a conference living on the mass-produced experience offered by the efficient profit-sucking corporations that have developed Santa Clara, I asked the driver a few questions:
Q: So what's the history of Santa Clara? Why is Santa Clara here?
A: I really don't know, I don't know history.
Q: Hmm, okay. So what sort of things should I do around here?
A: There's a Bennigan's (restaurant), San Francisco is about an hour away... Do you like sushi?
and so on... it wasn't what I was looking for, really -- I do need to eat -- but normally people who live in an area have some interesting suggestions for local attractions or cultural experiences. Instead, it seems that outside of attending a conference, Santa Clara gives me the option of eating; otherwise I should go to some place that will satisfy my needs. Hmm.
So, bad start -- but I did go out for a run on the Great America Parkway. Massive amounts of greenery (trees and shrubs) dominates this strip of land housing a mix of hotels, conference centers, and technology company offices. It's a green, car-friendly industrial park sprawling along a single road. Pretty nice, actually, in the early morning, but not a place I want to spend a lot of time.
By the way, I do know that I'm within a mile or two of the Intel Museum and some amusement park. I might go and pay homage to the dusty silicon gods that have provided the platform for many of my interests and most of my career thus far...