Shmuel's Soapbox: Now available in bite-sized Weblog McNuggets!
Friday, January 17, 2003
This may well be the last time I'm online until I arrive in Vancouver early Monday morning, and I have to make this sort of fast.
So, first of all, a couple of people have written in to correct me on the cable car thing. The rather ugly buses-with-the-cables-on-top are not, in fact, cable cars; rather, they're rather ugly electric-powered buses with cables on top. I'm told that they're more environmentally friendly than the usual, gas-guzzling sort. The actual cable cars, on the other hand, are pulled by cables in the ground, and if I'd bothered to go inside the cable car museum when I stumbled across it the other day, I might have learned more about all this. As it stands, I've finally seen one, at least, and, okay, it does look kinda cool.
Second, I met Jed last night. I'm starting to get the feeling that I might as well just find a way of using server side includes to let me insert "I had a good time. We talked for a few hours, and eventually ran out of time with any number of tangents still open for further exploration" at will, 'cause it seems to apply to every meeting I'm having during this trip. Each in its own way, of course... anyway, I'd have loved to have been able to talk to him longer, and I'm glad we've finally met in person.
Finally, today marks the fourth birthday of this journal. I probably ought to write something special to mark the occasion, but I'm short on time just now. Besides, I understand that I'm going through a phase in which I think conversations with younger selves are too hokey. (What seems certain from that link is that the Shmuel of 2001 couldn't do basic math. Also, that I need to transfer over the missing few months of my archives from Internet Trash already.) So let me just quickly say "oh, wow," and also "thanks."
This, incidentally, makes this the second consecutive Really Lame Journalversary Entry. I'll try to do better next year, for the big #5...
Thursday, January 16, 2003
I'm spending a fortune at Internet cafes. Not that I'm complaining too much; I'm glad that access to cyberspace is readily available, and that I'm able to get my fix here. (And, ironically, I'm typing this entry at the hostel again.)
Anyway, quick rundown: First of all, Mary Anne and Trish have both loaned me a whole lot of music, so I'm okay now, thanks.
Second, I met Trish last night! She was, in a word, effervescent. We spent a few hours talking, laughing, and occasionally rendering each other speechless. It was a lot of fun.
Third... there are too many really steep hills here. I can't believe people drive on 'em. I can hardly believe people walk on 'em. And I really, really can't believe people bike on 'em. Not to mention motorized scooters, which are, apparently, actually used by some people here.
Fourth: cable cars. I don't get 'em. You've got an ordinary bus, with ordinary wheels, and with a couple of cables on top, leading to oh-so-attractive snarls of cables at intersections. Like, why? What's the point? Does it improve fuel efficiency, or is it just an excuse to sell lots of cable-car souvenier crap to the tourists? (I did see an old-style cable car that actually looked halfway cool. Except that it wasn't attached to any cables, and, again, ran on ordinary wheels. Am I missing something?)
Things I Wish I'd Noticed When I Had My Camera On Me: The Sakana Sushi House, at which I can only assume the house speciality is fugu (sakana is Hebrew for danger); and the standard-model kiddie playground, dominated by a plastic jungle gym, right across the street from a strip club. For better or worse (in this case, a bit of both, I think), this is not New York, either pre- or post-Giuliani.
USF is officially off my list of schools to apply to. Nothing personal -- I haven't actually checked the school out -- but I know I'm not gonna live here. For one thing, the nearest kosher pizza shop is in Palo Alto (although there are a couple of decent meat places here); for another, one thing I finally understood on the hours and hours and hours on the train here was how freakin' far this place is from the East Coast. I think Chicago is about as far west as I'm willing to go.
Anyway. I doubt I'll be back for another visit anytime soon, but it's kinda nice being here for a few days.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
I have a bunch of entries on my Palm, but no way to transfer them to a computer for posting here. They're not very major, anyway...
I'm currently at a hostel in San Francisco; as advertised, they do have two computers hooked up to the 'Net. As not entirely unexpected, they're not in the greatest shape. Both are Macs; one has a barely-functioning mouse, the other a barely-functioning keyboard. Neither has telnet; fortunately, the U of M has a Web-based e-mail gateway. Anyway, I may be kinda short on the entries for a bit, but if you scout around, you may find bits and pieces in other people's journals. Mary Anne has a bit of Sunday, for instance.
It's 6:30 AM here, but 9:30 Eastern time. The hostel people would like us out of here from noon to 5 PM, I think, which would be fine, but I still don't really know what I'm doing today. Got a bunch of people's answering machines last night, and one actual human. The actual human was Trish, and I'm hoping to meet her tonight; as for the rest... I guess I'll try again when it's a normal hour, local time. It'd help if I had a number I could be reached at here, but as far as I can tell, the number so designated leads to a payphone that's currently busted. I do have voice-mail, but it's in Michigan, so while I can check it toll-free, it'd be a long-distance call for anybody here.
In a strange sort of way, I think I may have had more privacy on the train. Everybody ignores you on Amtrak; it's kind of refreshing. Or might be, if it weren't simultaneous with the general mind-deadening qualities of travel in general.
Okay, I'm just gonna post this and be done with it.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Am in SF! Tired. More later.
Sunday, January 12, 2003
While packing and cleaning and generally getting ready for the big trip, I kept a steady stream of CDs running through my computer, ripping their contents to MP3s and burning them to CDs. I have a Discman that plays MP3s, you see, and the idea was that this way I'd have more than enough music to listen to during my days spent riding trains and buses. Especially the buses, as there's pretty much nothing else I can do on them.
So I packed a CD wallet with lots of albums in MP3 format, plus a bunch of mix CDs I'd gotten from various people that I hadn't yet had a chance to listen to, and put it in a small bag with a couple packs of batteries and some chewing gum. (I use gum to ward off motion sickness, and kosher gum is virtually impossible to find outside of stores specifically catering to kosher consumers.) Before leaving on Thursday night, I was sure to put that small bag in my backpack.
And then I rearranged the contents of the luggage before departing again on Friday morning. And, you know, I have yet to go anywhere without forgetting something, whether it be clean socks, or a letter from a rabbi that's my ticket into the school I'm going to attend. This time around... you guessed it. The bag with the CD wallet.
Thank goodness I put the data CD with all my files in a separate wallet... still, I now have one CD to last me the whole way. And while it's a very good CD, with several soundtracks and cast recordings, I'm not an entirely happy camper. I briefly considered mailing my housekey back to somebody in Ann Arbor, so they could get the CDs and mail 'em to me at one of my upcoming destinations, but sanity eventually prevailed. I'll manage.
Otherwise, my shoulders have finally mostly stopped protesting at my having schlepped around my luggage the other day, and now I'm gonna go and do it again. A month's worth of clothing weighs an awful lot. Then you add in a hotplate, a not-entirely-functional laptop (long story), and some other stuff, and... it's a lot of luggage.
Simultaneous with all this, I'm still trying to get my grad school applications together. Just e-mailed a couple of professors, and I need to get some stuff in the mail... and I need to get moving in a little bit, as I'm boarding the train to San Francisco this afternoon, and am scheduled to arrive Tuesday evening. Oughta be interesting. I'll update again when I can.