Thursday, May 19, 2005

California dreaming

When The Doktah and I were in San Francisco for the conference, we spent a lot of time on the bus thanks to the location of our hotel relative to the Moscone Center. This turned out not to be such a bad thing, because we got to see a lot of the city on our daily commute back and forth. Every morning, for example, we saw twenty or thirty middle-aged people gathered to do deep knee bends in the park. I have nothing against group exercise, but there is something inherently amusing about seeing so many people doing deep knee bends at the same time. We rode by them every day, and all we ever saw them doing were deep knee bends. If those people had signed up for a tai chi class, they were getting ripped off.

But riding the bus also introduced us to some sights we wanted to see, like Ghiradelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. So we decided to take an afternoon off and tour the city a little bit. Since we were so familiar with the bus system by that point, we hopped on the Muni line down towards the water.

The bay looked lovely, and I found myself taking a lot of pictures of the water. I took pictures of the water from Coit’s tower, from Lombard St., and from Fisherman’s Wharf. So without realizing it, I took about twenty pictures of Alcatraz as seen from various points in San Francisco. We ended up taking a tour of Alcatraz, so I took about ten more pictures of it from the boat, and a couple more of the grounds. A narrative of my pictures from that trip would go something like this:

ME: That’s a picture of Alcatraz, and that’s Alcatraz from Coit’s Tower. This one is a picture of the seals, but Alcatraz is here in the background. And this one is of Alcatraz from the boat, and this is the entrance to Alcatraz itself. Oh, and here’s a picture of San Francisco’s skyline.

VIEWER OF PHOTOS: Oh! Where’d you take that one from?

ME: Alcatraz.

While waiting for the bus to take us back to the conference, The Doktah and I found ourselves once again discussing the benches in the bus shelters. The benches at the bus stops in San Francisco have four seats each, and the seats are hinged so that they swing to a vertical position if no one is sitting on them. We had an ongoing argument about their design.

"It's so no one can sleep on them!" I said, yet again. "You can't lie down on them because your weight would be distributed wrong, and they would tip you right off." Although The Doktah agreed that that was the reasoning behind the design, she insisted that a person could lie down on the bench if motivated. “No way,” I insisted. “You can’t balance with your feet off the ground.”

The Doktah is not one to refuse a challenge, and we had some time to kill while we waited for the bus. “I will prove it,” she said, and she handed me her bag to hold. The Doktah sat down on the middle seat, stretched out one leg, and carefully lay down. She lifted up her other leg to rest along side the first leg, and very triumphantly shouted, “H-!” She only said “H-!” because that’s as far as she got before the seats turned and the bench tipped her right off onto the sidewalk. She didn’t have time to get out the full “Hah!”

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