Monday, December 3, 2007

I Left My Mouse in San Francisco

Actually, I left it in Montreal. But the training center there was kind enough to ship it back to me, so that I might be able to bring it to San Francisco with me. Hopefully I won't forget it this time.

As you've probably already guessed, I'm in the bay area this week! My hotel and training center are both downtown in the financial district, about a block from each other. And both are just a couple of blocks from the BART station. That means I don't have to drive this week! A definite advantage in this town. I also seem to be within a five minute walking distance from several tasty-looking restaurants, which hasn't stopped me from ordering delivery my first night here, and room service my second night here. I blame The Cave.

The airport seemed nice enough. I had looked up info on BART before flying out, and didn't recognize immediately that the airport's air train is not the same thing as BART. I spent several minutes trying to figure out where to buy BART tickets before finally realizing that I was not yet at a BART station. Oops!

BART is awesome. When I hopped on at the airport, it was mostly empty. It stayed that way for the majority of the half-hour trip to downtown. A couple of stops before mine it started to fill up pretty quickly. I ended up vacating my spot for a tired-looking black woman for the last couple of stops. A lot of the trip is underground, which I was pretty happy about because for some reason that I can't explain, subways have always fascinated me.

Having done a little research, I am hugely impressed with the public transportation in the bay area. Everyone knows about the trolley system, but I don't think most people outside of this area really understand how awesome the trains are. I've been hoping beyond hope that Salt Lake would get its act together and get commuter rail running, and this didn't help. Let's move it, people!

Unfortunately, the ease of my journey stopped when I left the station. Have you ever been walking around downtown and noticed a guy that seems to be wandering aimlessly, on a path who's logic is known only to him? That was me. I knew that my hotel was only a couple of blocks away, but I didn't know in which direction. I would walk a block or two, then turn around and walk back to the subway. Even the homeless man asking for money started giving me strange looks. Finally I decided to consult the GPS. It got me going in the right direction, and then lost signal (did I mention the large number of large buildings in the area?). I overshot my hotel's street by three blocks before turning around and finding it. Then I walked past my hotel on the other side of the street and had to go back again.

It's a nice hotel. A lot like the one I stayed in in Montreal, except with a much smaller room and no crazy girls trying to bring me chocolate and bottled water. No room service on Sunday, so I ordered pizza and fried ravioli from a local Italian joint. It was okay, but nothing to write home about. No Food Network on the TV, and the only channel worth watching is Discovery. Tonight Discovery is too fuzzy to watch. Last night I woke up to the sounds of sirens. A lot. Mostly it sounded like fire engines. I hope it wasn't my building.

The training center was easy to find. Walk across the street, go a block, turn right, go half a block, and I'm there. It's the third Microtek center that I've taught in, and it's pretty nice. My students all seem pretty bright, and even the ones that claim to have only limited (if any) experience in Linux are doing quite well (it's a sysadmin class). They tell me that sirens are a common sound in San Francisco.

The walk back seemed even shorter than the walk there. In fact, it didn't seem to take longer than a couple of minutes. For my cousin Ali: I really was going to walk somewhere to eat. But the reuben on the room service menu had been calling my name since Sunday night, when I was informed that room service was closed on Sunday. I also ordered a Shirley Temple. I haven't had one of those in a good couple of years and man, was it good. I'm going to stock up on grenadine when I get home. The reuben was pretty good too, if a little heavy on the sauerkraut.

It's only 7:45ish here, but my brain is still on mountain time, so it feels a little later. This is really going to mess with me when I get to Houston next week. But for now, I can enjoy what really does seem to be one of the greatest cities on the planet. Assuming I ever leave my hotel room, of course.

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