This time, IETF is in San Francisco. Not exactly a strange and foreign land with unfamiliar local customs. But I'm there for six days without my family and what the hell else am I gonna do? So blogging commences.
- As I type this I'm sitting in a bus on highway 17. I decided to pass the time by switching on my computer and getting some work done. I'm also reading blogs and chatting with my wife and son over the free high-speed wireless internet connection. On a $4 bus ride. I'm impressed.
And I'm suddenly struck by a vivid recollection of another bus ride I took when I was 15 years old, down the peninsula from San Francisco to San Mateo. I had a walkman and a cassette with me--I think it was The Wall, or maybe it was Animals and Wish You Were Here; in any case it was Pink Floyd. I got to daydreaming about how much nicer it would be if cassettes held more music, so that I could carry around the complete works of Pink Floyd instead of just one or two albums. And then I daydreamed further about how great it would be if I could have my computer with me, running on a battery.
I just reached in the pocket of my backpack and pulled out a little black box the size of a cigarette lighter, which contains, among many other things, the complete works of Pink Floyd. Did I call the future or what?
- There's snow on the mountains from the cold front that moved through last night. Very pretty. And unusual. Makes it a little more like I am going to a strange city.
- The San Jose Caltrain station reminds me again how much I like train stations. I really do, always have, and especially old ones like this, with the marble and the archways and the little niche in the corner with a neon sign reading NEWSSTAND. There ought to be a shoeshine stand and guys in hats.
I like train travel a lot, and I suspect we'll be doing a lot more of it in the future as energy gets pricier. The one thing I'm sorry about is that all the new train stations that will have to be built are going to be built just like all the other crappy-ass buildings we put up, and put up with, these days. It's going to bring down the average classiness of train stations as a whole.
- Alas: No wifi on Caltrain. Having had 45 minutes to get used to it on the highway 17 bus, my sense of entitlement is utterly outraged.
- But! My computer seems to have picked up the names of every wifi access point we've gone past in the last several miles, even though they're out of range moments after they're detected. Which makes the "available wireless networks" menu interesting to read, if not particularly useful in any practical sense. MicrosoftGuest! Apple FTW! outbackwifi! vicious-net! blueskies! The Homies!
- Somehow despite being born on the peninsula and growing up in San Francisco I never got around to taking Caltrain before. I don't know what it's like when it's crowded, but on a Sunday afternoon it's nice. And it goes right past the apartment building where I lived from age 5-8, the street where the nursery school I attended from age 2-5 used to be, the furniture store that used to be a threatre where I saw every Disney movie that ever came out, a half dozen parks I played at, and many streets I walked and bicycled on. Quite a little nostalgia trip.
- Now here I am in the city, and is it just me, or is there Something Very Wrong with the fact that the big fancy business hotel where the Internet Engineering Task Force meeting is being held has slower and less reliable internet service than I had on a bus driving through the Santa Cruz Mountains?
- Dinner tonight was at "one of the best vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco," or so the concierge told us, and I'm entirely willing to believe it.
I'd had a bit to eat at the opening-night IETF reception earlier, and after the soup I wondered if I'd made a mistake ordering a main course. Silly of me; I'd forgotten that at fancy gourmet restaurants of this sort, the main course is an acre of plate with a tiny, perfect pile of food artistically arranged in the middle. Turned out to be the perfect amount.
My favorite item on the menu (despite not having ordered it) was a banana-leaf tamale containing "forbidden rice". How did I ever resist the lure of the forbidden rice?
Anyway, nice place. Especially nice place to be on an expense account.