The world, or at least a paper towel dispenser at a San Francisco International Airport men's room, begins to catch up with me!
Only one reader knows what I am talking about so I better commence with a story. At one point during my Nebraska days there was a drought and the city of Lincoln began taking water conservation measures.
Since a drinking fountain was across the hall from the graduate student office, I decided to help the city out. A sign that said something like "Drink only what you need" was placed above the fountain. You couldn't drink from the fountain without seeing the sign. Admittedly the sign wasn't going to stop depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, but it was fun watching students do a double-take before getting a drink of water.
Unrelated:Silk is an excellent way to spend a few minutes.
My room at the Westin St. Francis was pleasant, if a bit stuffy. There was a chandelier above the bed! I don't know if I've ever stayed in a room with a chandelier before. The southern view wasn't anything special. I believe the hill in the background is Potrero Hill.
The sign on the "refreshment center" was a first for me. Not that I've ever paid for it, but I understand how the captive market of a tired hotel guest lets them get away with huge price mark-ups on pretzels and soda. But to threaten a guest should they so much as open the door and move a soda? That's not hospitality. Wouldn't they make a lot more money if they just charged every guest an extra dollar a night and not worry about someone removing a soda so they can put a yogurt in the fridge?
Oh, man, writing that last sentence it occurs to me that I forgot to have a little crock of the awesome Saint Benoît yogurt on this trip. Maybe next time!
It was a good trip to San Francisco. I worked a little, shopped a little, went touristing with friends, ate a lot, took the ferry to Sausalito, rode the BART, rode the trolley and went on two cable car lines. Here's a video of the ride from Stockton to Grant on the California Street line.
In the few short hours I had to wander about in San Francisco I managed to see the headquarters of Six Apart, the makers of the fine Typepad software that is being used to put these photos and text online and the Twitter headquarters. I suspect Twitter only fills up a small portion of the building. Flickr used to be a short walk away but they've since moved to the main Yahoo! campus in Mountain View.
This is about the only holiday photo I've taken this year. Having several hours to spare before flying home, but not having much energy to do anything, I really enjoyed sitting in Union Square on Friday evening. It was a little disconcerting that I was surrounded by New York icons - Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Tiffany's- in the heart of San Francisco but I got over it.
I wish everyone a very happy holiday, whatever holiday you choose to observe!
The less said about this trip the better. On my second day in San Francisco I came down with food poisoning or a stomach bug. I spend a lot of time in the Hotel Frank running between the bed and bathroom. By Tuesday afternoon I had gone to the doctor's and gotten medication. I actually worked all day Thursday and on Friday evening it was time to fly home. The worst part of the trip was not being able to drink beer.
A few days before I left for Pasadena I happened to see a video about John Nese, a man obsessed with soda pop, and his store in Los Angeles. I checked out the address of the store and saw that it was just a little bump from what was already a meandering route from LAX to Pasadena.
The Mr. Q Cumber was delightful! You might not think cucumber and soda are meant to be said together but the soda was very refreshing on a hot day. Not pictured, the ginger beer was also excellent. Not quite as spicy as Blenheim (which, by the way, I can no longer find in the city) but it still had a good kick to it. Cheerwine is a tasty cherry cola. Double Cola is not imaginatively named, it has twice the cola flavor as other sodas.
To make Galco's all that much cooler, while I was there a tractor trailer pulled into the parking lot with a delivery. To get the forklift needed to unload the delivery, Mr. Nese had to pull his car out of the storage shed. He drives a DeLorean!
If you clicked on the Cheerwine link you'll notice that it is a little nutty. It is sane compared to the Pop Shoppe. Beware of flatulent clouds and harp playing bunnies!
I've been wanting to see Simon Rodia's Watts Towers since forever. I had enough free time before my return flight this time that I finally made it there. The towers were closed for repair! Much of the structure was visible from outside the fence, and there was a series of signs describing the history of the towers, so I wasn't disappointed.
Simon Rodia was an immigrant from Naples who lived in several places across the US before moving to Watts in 1921. When he moved to Watts he "wanted to do something big" so he started with walls around his yard before heading upward with the towers. The tallest tower is 99.5 feet high. Everything was built by Rodia by hand. He did not use scaffolding. The towers are held together with mortar, steel rods, and wire mesh. The steel was bent by trains on the nearby railroad tracks. Buttressing was added to make the structures withstand earthquakes.
Rodia finally finished the towers in 1954 when he was 75. Having completed the job he gave the property to his neighbor and moved away. It is believed he never returned. Rodia's house burned down soon after he moved away.
The towers survived a couple of indifferent owners and the Watts Riots. They were damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and underwent extensive restoration. Now they are the smallest California state park and on the National Register of Historic Places. Because so many different materials were used the structures need constant maintenance, which is why the towers were closed when I was there.