Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Yet another amazing day in CA...EIA seminar

Does it never end? Beautiful weather, great sights, fun company. SF is being very, very kind to me. Yesterday (Sunday) was great fun. Jessy and I hopped in the car and drove up to Muir Woods to see the redwood trees. The ENTS! I didn't know... Shaggy barked wise old trees towering overhead. And a couple that had fallen - what force is big enough to fell that size tree, I don't know. It's hard to imagine being in the forest when something that big comes crashing down - must feel like just another earthquake!

Then back in the car and we took the long, scenic, over-mountain route up to Stinson Beach. Unintentionally! We meant to do the coastal highway, but the mountain route was gorgeous. Then down the coastal highway past Muir Beach, back over the Golden Gate Bridge, and to the hotel. We checked into Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf and battled the yuppie scum and snotty folks. Rested up a bit, then walked to Chinatown where we ate at Sam Ho's restaurant. It's been written up in the Rough Guide, and they were right - you don't go there for the food, atmosphere, or service. All were pretty crappy. The waitress was stunningly rude, slow, bossy, and snide. And when we didn't leave a tip because everything sucked so badly, she groused about it in front of us (in Chinese, but you could understand anyways)! But we made up for it be stopping off in North Beach (Italian section) on the way back to the hotel and getting two humongeous pieces of chocolate cake to eat in the hotel room. I don't think I've eaten a single meal since I got here - everything has been split with my companions because I've just GOT to taste all the yummy stuff!

So, today was the EAI seminar that I've been waiting with bated breath for. It was as good as I had hoped. My biggest takeaways are business ideas, oddly enough. Not IA ideas. Although I was inspired again, as previously, when Lou talked about the strategic value of information and what we're doing. I am really anxious to get back to work and start developing some of the tools discussed. I'd like to do a content analysis and content model, and start mapping out the baby steps to get where we need to go. I want to work with business areas to start agreeing on metadata fields and work on a taxonomy to populate those fields. I need to get with Mark C. in order to identify the audiences for this information, as will be used for personalization and portal customization. And I want to work on a model for charge-back to the business for our services. Whether it's real money or not, they need to understand what it is that our group is providing them. Also, a chart of what our services are, what the busines areas needs are, and where they meet.

Pshew, that's a lot of work. I'll need a vacation soon! (heh, heh)

And the best part of the class - met an awesome new friend, Amy, who works for AARP in Washington, DC. We will definitely keep in touch. The seminar was held at the Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts - an awe-inspiring place! We walked to the Adaptive Path happy hour together, then headed out to catch a bus to the Mission district for dinner at Ti Clous (?). Only, we didn't find the bus so we ended up walking all the way up to the top of Lombard Street. That's right, you heard me, Lombard Street - the steepest street. Ever. It definitely feels like it when you're going it on foot with a camera bag and a handful of books. I didn't think I was going to make it! But what a view of the glittering lights from the top! We caught a cab from there, exhausted. Dinner was good, the cab home was good, and when I got home (Jessy's home...feels like home to me now!), Jessy's mapped out the entire journey I need to make to the airport tomorrow. God, she's awesome!

I'm exhausted and going to bed. San Fran has kicked my butt again.

Sunday, October 19, 2003


What a beautiful city, San Francisco. Yesterday was packed full of adventures again. Took the car to Fisherman's Wharf, where we boarded a ferry to Alcatrez. The bay was sheathed in fog. The ferry ride was shorter than expected - about 10 minutes. Alcatrez was...Alcatrez. Needs no further explanation. It was everything I had expected - creepy, cobwebby, morbid. We spent hours wandering around, till exhausted, then back to Fisherman's Wharf for lunch. Oops, bad idea! We both ate too much and weren't hungry for dinner later.

Then took the car down Lombard Street. I'm not sure which was weirder - the crazy twisty street or the number of tourists gawking at it. Back to the apt for some down time, then walked to pick up Jackie and on over to 14th and XX for an AMAZING dinner at Chez Spencers, where Jessy bartends. It was absolutely incredible. Lobster tail with peach and asparagus with truffle for appetizers. Antelope with pepper and mushroom and Duck with blackberry for main course. DIVINE! Jessy works with a group of really fun, interesting people. We walked to a bar after that, had some more drinks, then back to Jackies and home again. Woke up with a headache/hangover, but not too bad. Today, we go to Muir Forest and the California coastal highway. Wheeeeee!

Saturday, October 18, 2003

San Francisco!!

I'm typing this from the heart of The Mission in San Francisco. The windows are open, it's a beautifully cool night. I can hear Latino voices from the street below, yowling kids, horns honking. Ghetto, Hottie, and the fluffy wonder are sprawled on the floor surrounding me. I just returned home from my first adventure alone in SF! But first the entire history...

Julie and Gracie flew into RDU on Sunday and we spent about 2 hours together before I had to leave. I think it was a pretty stressful day for mom - get the house ready for guests, drive to pick me up, then to the airport to pick up Julie, then out to their house in fearrington, then drive me back to the airport 2 hours later. Mom, thanks and I love you as always!

The flight was totally uneventful. My biggest thrill (ahem) was the old indian guy in the next row over. He shuffled up to the bathroom, unaware that he was dragging his blanket with him. The blanket tastelessly blocked the bathroom door from latching all the way shut, the dude didn't notice, and he stood there and did his business right in front of god and everybody. Well, me, anyways. What a thrill... About 3 hours away from SF, I started chatting with the other guy in my row, he was really fun. Installs sola-tubes in the East Bay area, ex-marine, favorite bar is Molly O'Malleys, from Florida. Nathan is his name. We spent the last 2 hours of the flight playing poker, speed, blackjack, and rummy. He kicked my ass in speed, I kicked his in rummy.

The conference was great from many perspectives. 1. I got to meet a bunch of people who are in similar positions to me. Moral support, yeah! 2. Got to hear great speakers reinforce a lot of my opinions about "the situation" that I'm in. Need management support, need the authority to back up what I already do, need to plan more strategically, need to align closer to business goals. 3. Got to meet famous people in the industry! Lou Rosenfeld, Bob Boiko, Martin White, Howard McQueen, all of 'em!

I met great people, with whom I intend to stay in touch - other Blues people (Michigan, Minnesota, NASCO, Highmark) and Lisa from March of Dimes (husband is a game developer - how cool is that!?) and Joe from Nat Renewable Energy Lab (great story teller - developed lab from a box of papers, lived in a cabin in Colorado, lives in Nederland now, etc). Went to dinner with Lisa on Tuesday - took a taxi to Banana Leaf Thai/Malaysian restaurant. Went to dinner with Mary and Joe Wednesday - took the train to Mountain View, ate at a yummy italian restaurant.

Shared a Lincoln Towncar with Dawn from NASCO from Santa Clara to San Francisco, lots of fun but very expensive - $70!! Jessie came to pick me up and we headed back to her place. That first night, she had class. I chilled out in her apartment, then we went out for drinks with her friend Jackie from school. A real biology lover - wants to study paleo-anthro-evolutionary something to do with apes. We went to some bar, then to Treat Street, got home about 12:30. Lots and lots of walking! My feet already hurt, the left heel is still sore from Ultimate Frisbee. I hope it holds up for the next 2 days ok!

Got up around 10, showered, walked to Boogaloo's for breakfast! I had the Boogaloo Breakfast, in honor of Sammy. It was tasty and satisfying, just like him. Then we walked around a bit - to Jackie's store, then to Jessie's car up by the school and went touring around. It was wicked fun, she has a VW cabriolet convertible - loads of fun for sightseeing. I need to remember that, it'd probably be worth the extra money to rent a convertible in cities that I visit - it's a whole different, freer experience. We drove to the Mission St Francis (is that right?) and walked around the mission and the cemetary - famous for being in Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo". I'll have to rent it. Then through Haight-Ashbury to Golden Gate Park, where we saw the creepy, tragic buffalo's, along the BEAUTIFUL shoreline going toward GG bridge, and then down along Lizzy Park. It's just stunningly beautiful along the coast, the way the desolate hills break right down to the water. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of it. Got to see "The Painted Ladies", the famous row of victorian houses. Then back home.

Jessie took off for work, I stuffed my dirty laundry into a bag and wandered off to have it cleaned. Struck out. Will try again tomorrow.

Instead, hopped on BART to the SFMOMA, for the Chagall exhibit which is going on. Stayed there for way too long - that's where my feet got so sore. 2.5 hours of Chagall, Lichtenstein, Ansel Adams, Picasso, Dali, Pollack, etc, etc, etc. I love that stuff. There was a great history of photography exhibit going on, and a "sex workers in asia" exhibit. Once exhausted from that, I ate in the cafe there and walked over to this bizarre, over-stimulated Sony mega-complex. I still don't know what it really was, but it included everything Sony. Most surreal moment - little kid (maybe 2 years old?) walking on a screen embedded in the floor that was flashing videos. His parents were taking photos of him standing there looking...well, overstimulated. This is good, somehow?

Then on the trolley to Fisherman's Wharf. Highlight - the harbor seals! Very surreal, again. I left Lance a voice message with the honking of the seals, I hope he saves it for me. Then the trolley to first street, a little confusion, a helpful bus driver who put me on the correct track and gave me a ticket, and back to The Mission. Tired, but happy.

Until next time!

I hate Mac's

Really, this should be entitled "never work on a technology that you don't know well". Just typed a page worth of SF stories on Jessie's iMac, which then magically deleted the entire goddamn thing. FUCK.