Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York has the Empire State Building, and Copenhagen has the Little Mermaid. Plenty of cities have iconic landmarks, but San Francisco goes one better. Not only does it have the Golden Gate Bridge, but it has landmarks that move.

The cable cars, albeit reduced to just three routes, are an instant identifier for the city. The photograph below shows a line of people waiting to board at Powell Street and the turntable that is used to turn the car round and onto the up-line.


The turntable is operated by staff pushing the handrails and once in place the car is pushed back onto the cable.



Published in: on 28 August, 2011 at 11:48  Leave a Comment  

Football Violence

When Americans talk about football they do not refer to the same sport as Brits; they mean their own set of rules that more closely resemble Rugby Football than Association football. That resemblance is still slight. There is one way in which American Football resembles the game of Association Football as played in England; as evidenced by events this last weekend in San Francisco. Violence erupted before a pre season “friendly” between the 49ers and The Raiders (ex of LA, now of Oakland).

The violence did differ from English Association Football hooliganism in one regard; fans are in hospital having been shot. There is talk of improved security measures at Candlestick; more police, more DUI (drink-driving) checkpoints – no mention of preventing guns from being brought to games – after all fans might wish to exercise their second amendment right and form militias in the parking lot after the game.

I would also note that San Francisco and Oakland play each other at baseball several times a year without violence – so rivalry between the transpontine cities can clearly be conducted in a friendly atmosphere.

Published in: on 25 August, 2011 at 17:00  Leave a Comment  

Going Native

I wonder if being in the US is beginning to alter me.

I used to order a coffee.

Now I order a Triple shot, Grande, Dry, DeCaff Cappuccino.

Published in: on 24 August, 2011 at 17:35  Comments (3)  

Seasons in Maine

I am going to pose a question, whose answer at first glance is so obvious, you may wonder why I bother to ask it. How many seasons are there in the state of Maine?

There is a joke that goes, Maine has two seasons, Winter and the Fourth of July.

The tourist website for the city of Portland in Maine seems unsure of the number, it may claim four, but as you can see from the screenshot below, they can only name three.

Link to original 

It is ironic that the season most associated with New England, The Fall, is the one overlooked.

So the answer to my question is more than one, but less than five.

Published in: on 23 August, 2011 at 17:07  Comments (1)  

Fast Food Service

I know that you do not go to a fast food provider for the excellent customer service, but I do expect a certain minimum level to be met. It seems I set my sights too high. On Monday, I was short of time at lunch after an 11am meeting ran long and I had a 1pm session to attend.

My wife picked me up and we went to Jack in the Box. We ordered the Ultimate Cheeseburger with added pickles and onions. The burgers arrived, we bit into them and realized that they were bereft of the requested added ingredients. My wife went to the counter with the two burgers to point out the omission. A few moments later one of the staff returned with two burgers wrapped in the usual greaseproof paper. I was slightly perturbed that she offered no apology, but the major shock hit us when we unwrapped the food. Instead of newly cooked burgers with the requested onions and pickles, they had just added those ingredients to the burgers from which we had take a bite. I am glad I was with my wife and not a colleague from work, as without dental forensics we had no way of distinguishing one bite from the other.

Fortunately, when next we are in a hurry, there are several other fast food establishments in the area. I do not think I shall be returning to that Jack in the Box any time soon

Published in: on 22 August, 2011 at 17:40  Leave a Comment  

The Shortest Route

I use Google Maps frequently. Although both my car and my wife’s have GPS, knowing where you’ going before you start is helpful. The feature that shows you photographs of junctions is a real plus, often allowing me to drive without even entering the destination into the onboard GPS.

Today, however, Google Maps showed a failure in common sense. I wanted to know how long it takes to drive from Boston Airport to Portland. We are going to New England for our tenth anniversary and have accommodation just outside of town. Why when asked for this route does Google assume that I want to drive to Portland in Oregon and not Portland in Maine. It knows my home is on the west coast, so why would it think that I want to fly to Boston and drive 3,100 miles across country. Surely, the obvious assumption that when asking for driving directions I want them to the city that is 105 miles away. At the very least, it should have asked me which one I meant.

I suppose the bright side, is that I am checking now and not having a car GPS make the same mistake. It would be embarrassing to find oneself in Idaho and wondering why the New England autumnal foliage had given way to fields of potatoes.

Published in: on 20 August, 2011 at 18:31  Leave a Comment