San Francisco, finally!

29 07 2009

I guess today was a blessing in disguise (a very convincing disguise) as I got to experience a great cross-section of the Bay Area region. My original intention was to get up early and get to San Francisco before noon so I could relax, take in the sights, get a feel for the lay of the land and such. But the city that I’ve wanted to visit for oh-so-long had other plans for me.

So I got up bright and early, packed up my stuff, nearly lost my hat in a rush and headed out into the mystic. I ended up at the airport, went through security in a chaotic rush and was told there were delays due to low clouds. Long wait. We finally got on the plane and waited some more. And then we took off!

Only we didn’t. The plane started to go up and the pilot pulled it DOWN. And then we waited for a while and then we got off. And then I waited in line for a long time. It was 6 hours after my first flight that I finally got through a line of people with a ticket for a new flight on a tiny commuter jet to San Jose, not SFO. I said OK, I’ll take it vs. waiting another three hours to catch a direct flight.

So I left the secured area, ran to a bus stop with all my stuff, hopped on a bus, went back through security and headed on over to the commuter area. The commuter jet was one of those tiny jobs, one seat on one side and two seats on the other. No propellers but still small. I even walked out on the tarmac to get to the plane. The ride itself was fine, smooth, about an hour long, complete with cranapple. I shudder to think that a ride on that little thing was deemed safer than on the big thing, but I guess a functioning plane is best.

I always seem to have these mechanical issues on Star Alliance flights in particular. Maybe I’m on crack, or maybe they all do it. Who knows? Anyway I have a $150 certificate now for a United flight.

So I got to San freaking Jose and it was all desert-y and hot and sunny. Weird. Almost like Palm Springs. I didn’t expect the Silly Valley to be like that. And then I got on a shuttle bus to Santa Clara, where I saw a model train museum that was pretty cool and then hopped on the double-decker CalTrain commuter rail. From there, I got on BART and then I wandered downtown to my hotel. After that I wandered to the Embarcadero, the SF Bay Bridge, Union Square and the general area around my hotel. All in all, I got a pretty good summary of the Bay Area given that today went so horribly wrong.

I’ll have more on impressions of the city later, but suffice to say it’s lovely. There is lots of music and activity and cable cars and pretty Gothamistic skyline-ness. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a moment so wonderful that you didn’t want to taint it, but at one point I was walking and there was saxophone music playing and a cable car passed by me (one of those retro buses, glowing in the night) and it would have made a postcard picture, but I didn’t reach for my camera. I just savored it. The sounds and smells of this town change and morph as you walk by. It’s a great place to walk around with a recorder, taking in the changing sounds of the traffic signals and the squealing whale calls of the BART trains.

One thing though: transit is way expensive and I’m scared of the Muni and all the different breeds of buses and cable cars. There’s always tomorrow, but I’ve got to figure out a way to get around.

I think this qualifies as an epic fail today, but it turned around to become an epic win. The blessing in disguise is I really got to see a cross-section of the city: from the sunny, desert surroundings of Silicon Valley to the foggy, touristy, romantic, romanticized, almost New York-like pulse in the urban heart of San Francisco.





A little San Diego recap

28 07 2009

Hey, there’s no better time to recap San Diego than when you’re siting in the airport indefinitely, waiting for your flight to a foggy red dot on an otherwise green FAA flight schedule nation. That is, San Francisco.

So I did the Comic-Con thing and it was pretty awesome, but you really do need to be an insider to truly enjoy it. The average person who goes is missing out on so much, I am learning. There’s a whole back-end that most people never see. And then there’s the random run-ins and encounters. Comic-Con is TEEMING with interesting people. Overally, I think Dragon*Con is more fun for fans and has better costuming. Comic-Con is a really big media event in general. Also, SDCC is really exhausting. I did one and a half days. I can’t imagine going whole hog.

I did some other things, too. I took a ferry to the beach on Coronado Island (I missed the really nice beach apparently) and wandered Old Town, and visited a couple nice observation spots where we could look down on the action below.

And now I wait for the next phase of my trip.





Sunday schedule

25 07 2009

I’m planning my schedule RIGHT NOW on the Internet access enabled plane ride over. My belly is full of pretzels, cookies (yes, pretzels and cookies), and cherry Coke (yes, Cherry Coke, on a plane, with refills) and I’m in the right frame of mind. Saturday is up in the air. I don’t have a ticket, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to stop me. 🙂

Sunday, I do have a ticket. It’s a short day, so we have to make it count.

Subject to change at any time, below are the programs that I’m eyeing to attend. Of course it won’t be possible to attend them all, but I think I’ll get a well-rounded day.

10:00 a.m.: Tie between Comic-Con film school (postproduction) and the Dr. Who panel. Also Phineas & Ferb.

11:00 a.m.: Lots of great stuff including Women of Marvel, American Dad and Emily the Strange. Also some cartoon voices.

11:30 a.m.: Newspaper editorial cartoonists. I’d love to go to this, but don’t think I”ll make it.

Noon: Random stuff. Good time for lunch.

12:30: Scooby Doo

12:45: Marvel video games? Some recognizable names on that one…

1:00: Ghost Whisperer stars panel will have a few big-shots. Expecting hard time getting in.

1:00 alternate: Comics in Museums

2:00: Future of HP *or* BBC America (Being Human/Torchwood)

2:30: Ethnographic analysis of Comic-Con attendees

3:00: Starship Smackdown

3:30: 501st costuming

4:00: Buffy the Musical





Comic-Con planning in progress

23 07 2009


IMGP7807

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

So yeah, we’re going to be en route to San Diego, CA, for the Comic-Con extravaganza this weekend. I could only get tickets for Sunday but that’s better than nothing.

I didn’t realize how much of a Kind of a Big Deal this was. I admittedly enjoy hanging out at Atlanta’s own Dragon*Con (mostly for the surrounding spectacle and saber-toothed tigers such as shown here) so I assume this will be right up my alley.

After that we’ll head for San Francisco and do some exploring around there. I have a few things on my list to do while in the Bay, and would appreciate any ideas from the wide world out there.

My bank account is emitting a few hunger pains so I am trying to keep the expenditures down as much as possible; and yet I think — to some degree — you have to take a few liberties from time to time.

Speaking of obsessive traveling, I’ll also be heading to Paris, France, yes that Paris, in September, and I think this might be the biggest travel year EVER. Last year was pretty epic, but I think this might top it.





Your kitsch is on my list

23 07 2009
 


Big waterfall

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

Saw this at the Rock City gardens during a recent visit to Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain with the fam. Lots of tourism was had during their one-week stay.

We also visited the Incline Railroad, Ruby Falls, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and the Tennessee Aquarium’s jetboat and tank exhibits.

The second weekend of their visit, we went to Helen, Georgia, to see the faux German town. On the way back, we stopped at the Babyland Cabbage Patch hospital in Cleveland, Georgia.

I think I crossed a lot of things off my list of things to do, but there’s still a lot left that is begging to be experienced. Send me your suggestions if you have any up your sleeve.





Progress report

23 07 2009

As far as my fitness goals go, I think I’ve relaxed a little, but still keep it up. I exercise about five days per week, in addition to the new yoga sessions we’ve started at work, so I still get me some exercise time. I am very pleased with my fitness accomplishments, having increased my athletic capacity and strength and flexibility significantly in the last few months. 20 minutes on the elliptical is the bare minimum for my workouts now. I try to make it to 30 if I can, sometimes breaking up the sessions if I get too sweaty in the Southern humidity.

My actual weight hasn’t changed a whole lot – it goes up and down. It was down for a while and now it has settled to where it was. I haven’t gained anything though. Some of that has to be muscle, since I’m lifting weights and doing other strength exercises to build up my solid mass. My frequent traveling seems to upset any progress or momentum I’m getting, as well as breaking news cycles at work. Plus, I love to eat and am not eager to be hungry during the day.

In the coming days and weeks, I’m going to be focusing on ways to keep myself satisfied and also lower the amount of calories I’m consuming, since I seem to be fitter than I have been as of late and that doesn’t appear to be enough. Since I love to eat (and practically depend on coffee and chai to make it through some days) this could prove a tad challenging.