SF 2010, Part 4


Part 4 of my pictures
from my San Francisco trip in January 2010. On Friday I departed from the Bay Area via AmTrak’s California Zephyr train. Originally intended to go from Emeryville, CA to Chicago, the Zephyr’s journey was cut short due to severe winter storms. Instead, the train only went as far as Denver. I enjoyed my private little sleeper compartment (The Roomette), the meals in the Diner Car, the soothing clickety-clackety of the rails. Once I got to Denver (left California on Friday morning at 11 am, arrived in Denver Saturday night at 9 pm), I stayed in the downtown Marriott and flew back home on Sunday. Another great trip!

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SF 2008, Part 4

Fourth set of pictures have been posted.

On Wednesday, I rested at the house and read more about the history of Tennessee. Later that night, King and I journeyed out to the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), Mission Bay campus, which is evidently all the way over to the other side of town. After supper at Burgermeister in Cole Valley, we hopped on the N-Judah train, riding it for a while before transferring to the T train via a train station (much like a subway station in Manhattan, but much brighter and cleaner). At UCSF we found the appropriate building hosting this year’s Final Cut Pro User’s Group Super Meet. This get-together features several presentations concerning products for and uses of Final Cut — the popular and useful video editing software that King & I use. Last year’s Super Meet was in a dance club and felt cramped and uncomfortable; this year’s venue is much nicer and pleasant. We listened to:

Apple’s Richard Townhill on “The New Mac Pros and FCP 6.0.2”
Adobe presents: DV Rebel Stu Maschwitz
Blackmagic Design presents: Alex Lindsay
Apple’s Steve Bayes on “Evaluating Codecs.”
Sony presents: Noah Kadner on the XDCAM EX1
“They Turned our Desert Into Fire” – Jason Mitchell – Show and Tell
“Soledad Is Gone Forever” – Mabel Valdiviezo – Show and Tell
“FCP Tips and Tricks You Need to Know” – Steve Martin

I saw an actual RED camera close-up, as well as an XDCAM EX1 — cool new video gear! Though the organizers touted (constantly) “over $40,000 in prizes” to be given away at the end of the night via some convoluted lottery drawings, we chose to leave after the presentations (after three hours, around 10 pm). Yes, free things are nice, but we’d made the mistake of sticking around for the drawings last year, and that was just so excruciatingly painful that we considered ourselves fortunate to escape. (Note: drawings should not be so long and drawn-out like what we experienced last year. Even this year, on our way out the door, I heard them announce “we’re still getting all the prizes organized for the drawing” — after, you know, only five hours after they’d opened the doors for the meeting. If it takes more than five hours to just line up the stuff, how long do you think it will take for them to draw a ticket, announce the winner, wait for the winner to reach the stage and claim their prize … for hundreds of prizes? Answer: A Long, Long Time, as we saw last year. No thank you!) The organizers did a fine job — a wonderful job — keeping the rest of the meeting running exactly on schedule, and the speakers were mostly interesting; other than the prospect of another drawing fiasco, the meeting was well-organized.

After our escape, we took the T train to the ballpark (um, maybe the baseball one? “Phone Company Park”?) where we intended to hop on the N-Judah train for our return home. The N train was leaving the station just as we reached the platform, though, so it looked like we’d be waiting 13 minutes for the next one (thanks to the helpful LED signs with their useful info). However, the departing N train stopped right beyond the station, with the last part of the train still at the platform, though with its doors still closed. There it remained, as still as a stopped train. Another N train was stopped farther down the track, and the train operators got out, walked around — mostly around the farther train. Well, now. After standing around on the platform for a few minutes, we walked over to the N train that was almost at the platform. No conductors or operators in sight now. Hmm. Surely the N trains are still running at this time of night? Wondering if this train was still, indeed, functional, we walked down off the platform toward the front of the train (no operator in the cab), when the doors hissed open. Oh, ok. We climbed on, expecting the train to continue on its journey. After a few moments, the doors hissed shut. The train did not move. King and I were the only ones on this train, and now we’re sitting inside a train that’s not even properly at the station — a train that’s not moving, nor seeming to be moving in the future — and now we’re also sealed in. No operators were in the cab at either end. After a few minutes, King tried manually opening the doors (“Push Bar To Open Door”), to no avail. Well, looks like we’re in for the long haul. Suddenly, after a few more minutes, the train started moving, and glided back to the platform, where it stopped and opened up its doors. As we quickly considered whether that meant we should now escape, a couple of people entered our train, and after they’d come in of course the doors hissed shut again. Another couple of captives for the hungry train, I guessed. Our hopes rose as the train started moving, and once we realized that it was, indeed, moving in the right direction, we were relieved. We got home, safe and sound. Evidently we’d won our lottery after all.

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SF 2008, Part 3

Third set of pictures have been posted.

On Sunday, King and Gwen took me to lunch at Joanna’s Diner in San Mateo, and then we parked the car at Fort Mason, overlooking the Bay and downtown, and walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we caught a boat for a Bay Cruise. The weather was perfect — nice blue skies, in the high 60s — as we boated around the Bay, circling around the Golden Gate Bridge (the big red one) and passing close to Alcatraz Island on the way back to the dock. Later that night, while eating pizza we watched “A Midwinter’s Tale” — a funny portrayal of a group of actors trying to put together a production of Hamlet for a small town.

On Monday, I caught up on some reading, and later wandered around Haight Street, shooting some more abstract shots and getting a sandwich from the Cafe Cole on Cole Street (as is my tradition). I even stopped by the local Anarchists’ Bookstore, but much to my surprise, on the inside all the books were neatly categorized and sorted, by a central authority no less. King spent the day at work, and it looks like Gwen has been selected for jury duty (for the next four weeks!). Later, King and I went to the Red Vic Movie House to watch “My Kid Could Paint That.” Interesting documentary; it ends up involving the guy making the documentary as much as the people who are being documented (“I just want you to believe me,” says the woman being interviewed, to the director asking the questions).

On Tuesday, I “watched” the Keynote for Macworld Expo online, as various people physically present at the keynote furiously typed in new updates from Steve Jobs’s speech, as the speech was happening. Not a few websites and blogs melted down from the avalanche of people (like me) that were curious to see what’s going on. Later that afternoon I took the MUNI bus (good ol’ 71) to downtown, where I picked up my exhibition badge and wandered around the exhibit floors (the Expo is in Moscone’s South and West halls this year) looking at new gadgets, new software, new iPod accessories, and the new introductions: namely, the MacBook Air, the new improved Apple TV, movie rentals, Time Capsule, enhancements to the iPhone and Touch, and so on. Lots of cool stuff, but it didn’t take long for the sensory overload to set in, and after a couple hours I headed back to the house. On Tuesday night King and I watched his DVD of “Manufacturing Consent,” featuring Noam Chomsky. I’d barely heard of Chomsky’s name before; this 2.5-hour film was a complete (if not exhaustive) introduction to his views and actions. The film itself (though long and dealing at times with very abstract ideas) had clever approaches to visualizing and presenting various points. I now have a much greater appreciation for Chomsky, and his distinctions concerning freedom of speech, the role of corporations and governments in influencing media, and various other issues. And the vegetable egg foo yung from the local Chinese delivery place was excellent.

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SF 2008, Part 2

Second set of pictures from San Francisco have been posted. On Saturday, after catching up on my rest, I travelled with King all the way to the local Post Office, walking nearly a block. After a few moments rest inside the po-po as King transacted with the better clerk for conveying his DVD package around the world, I then walked all the way back to the house, where we had some more time to rest. Later, King and Gwen and I took a longer trip, walking about three blocks to The Pork Store Cafe, where, after a short wait in line with other hungry people, we sat and ate their tasty food. My French toast was perfectly cooked, and, after being soaked in butter and syrup, eaten up — along with the big strips of crispy bacon. Mmm. We strolled back to the house, just in time to rest and relax on this nice Saturday. After catching up on stories and my Excalibur-like demonstration of my Powers (in twisting off the reluctant pan/tilt head from King’s tripod), I had a good nap in the afternoon. King showed me the completed version of the Mucklewain performance of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ that he’d finished edited recently (that I helped him shoot back in September), and it looks great! I make several cameo appearances as I scamper around the stage getting up-close shots.

Then, it was time for the evening’s entertainment. Via their fascinating Prius (I’m mesmerized by the Back-Up Camera and have a little bit of a crush on the sultry Nav Computer’s voice), we make our way to the Mission District. We’re stuffed with dinner at the Thai restaurant Osha (full as a tick!), and then walk over to the Darkroom SF theater for a performance of “Sweetie” Tanya: Demon Barista of Valencia Street. Great show. Here’s their description:

 

Tanya, living under an assumed name and on the run from creditors after a failed sexual harassment lawsuit against her employer left her blacklisted and deeply in debt, finds herself applying for a job at a run down coffee shop on Valencia Street. Confronted with yet another lecherous boss and an unending stream of customers who offer more come-ons than tips, Tanya finally snaps when her young coworker is assaulted by a patron. What follows is frothy vengeance. 

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SF 2008: The 767

Here I am, sitting on a 767-300. Now *this* is a good-sized plane. The jet from Chattanooga was a small CRJ200: about a sixteenth of the space in here, if not less. The weather in Atlanta today appears to be beautiful. Still another 20 minutes of loading up this plane. I scored a window seat and a leisurely boarding. Perhaps the seat next to me will remain empty (the idle fantasy of the seated passenger). Or the supermodel that has been slowed down by her entourage will glide down the aisle, perch on her seat, and lean on my shoulder. Ah yes, the other idle fantasy of the seated airline passenger. (Should I excuse her lateness, based entirely on her looks? The questions abound.) Meanwhile, the seat remains empty. There’s the anticipatory hiss of the air nozzles and the occasional clunk of overhead bins being closed, as our pilot tells us that we’ll be getting underway soon – climbing to 36,000 feet (and, unstated, climbing back down, too) as soon as they finish filling out paperwork and loading cargo.

Next stop, San Francisco!

And yes… I have this mini-row to myself. Sorry, supermodel. Now my legs can stretch.

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Atlanta Airport: Playground/Amusement Park

Made it to Atlanta. Roaming around the airport — it’s like an amusement park, especially if you have time (as I have) and if you’re not stressed (which is a state I’m blissfully sliding into: the stress of the last few weeks starting to melt away). As I sit here in the food court munching on a gourmet hot dog and emailing this update to my blog, I consider this: today, this day, is a good day. And I’m not even in San Francisco yet!

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