- Me, me, me
So, having almost emerged from my week or so of relentless work avoidance* I should be bursting with several days worth of insightful commentary. And I am, a bit. But it can wait.
- School’s out for, etc.
No, I've really finished all my college work this time.
And just in time to head off to the West Coast, so I'm unable to write down all the scintillating and insightful thoughts buzzing around in my head. Ah well.
I decided to get the train from Houston to the coast, and all the way up to Seattle, which I think will be fun. But I may change my mind after taking 36 hours to reach LA. Still, staying with a friend in Santa Barbara, meeting all sorts of old and new friends in San Francisco, and then seeing Seattle for the first time should be wonderful.
Um, yeah, that's it for now.
- Santa Barbara
Sun, sea, people, blue skies, distant mountains. Bars, restaurants, shops, trees, cyclists, cruising cars. Scrubbed and comfortable people strolling State Street in new and comfortable clothes. Used books, new music, browsing in Borders. Chats, walks, nostalgia, ideas, laughs, drunken friends of friends, Cinco de Mayo. California rolls with melted cheese, chicken with peanut sauce and spinach, burgers, Mexican for midday breakfast. Nearly finished films, old TV themes, music videos, Carmageddon, a bedroom stacked with the obscurest CDs.
Endless sprawl and strip malls, just like "home" only different. Being driven everywhere. Standing, swaying, while watching Gilbert play Descent for hours. Realising that net.companies actually really exist in real life with real buildings. Bus maps whose stops are Infoseek, Compaq, etc. The Quinn clan using their mobiles as walkie-talkies ("We can swing by Netscape and drop cigarettes off? cchchh", "Great. chchcch"). Drew's first day at Apple ("California allows Steve Jobs not to have license plates on his car"). Sitting in [obviously evil, but inevitably convenient] Starbucks for hours while the rest of the world worked. Getting lost but finally finding the BayCHI dinner and trying to avoid making interface jokes about every object. Jef Raskin talking at Xerox PARC about how icons, buttons... well, everything on computers, are stupid. Another guy at Xerox PARC revealing that people who spend more hours online spend less hours doing other things. Getting our heads 3D-scanned at San Jose Tech Museum (which, as Danny pointed out, is designed to get kids ready to work in chip fabrication plants, as clerical workers or machine operators.) Other stuff I've probably forgotten because I left there a couple of days ago.
- San Francisco
I'd forgotten how tastefully pretty the city is. Going to the same old stores was kind of boring though; I should make the effort to find new things to do. I've still never been to Alcatraz or over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was wonderful to see familiar faces: Nicole, Z, Alistair, Hari, Pouneh, Janelle, Peter, and, again, Danny. A shame to have missed Yoz though. Used CDs, used books, new underwear. Bumping into people I barely know in the street. Food, drinks, laughs, movies, Dreamcast Crazy Taxi, walking much too far up and down hills, not eating enough, the frustration of arranging evenings out sans mobile phones. Marvelling with equal wonderment at the Sony Metreon and the fact Nicole has her own office. Stacy's boyfriend looks very like me (he thinks so too, but she disagrees). It was like The One With Russ. Bumping into a gaggle of familiar faces from SXSW.
Things I didn't do: visit Fremont or the University District; go on a ferry; get out of the city; drink coffee; go kayaking.
Things I did: stayed in a pleasant B&B; walked; bought yet more used CDs; met Mr. Clark of Clark's shoes; read email; walked; went on the excellent underground tour; watched movies; walked; bought clothes; finally read the increasingly heartbreaking A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius in a perfect coffee shop; thought about how I could avoid returning to Houston.
- Clear Lake
That left me with a day or two to take hundreds of photos of the immediate vicinity, painfully drag them through a serial connection to the computer, and then compile them into breathtaking Hockney-esque panoramic montages to finally give friends and family an idea of where I've been living since last summer.
Now, off to get the plane to London...
- Back in Blighty
I'm now sat on the train from London to Braintree, a town at the end of a branch line off the main capital to coast route. And god damn, it's good to be back.