15 March 2008

Notes from BubbleCity

Last day in California, blogging from a little cafe in the Fillmore area of San Francisco.

Silicon Valley is dead boring, I ran away from it on Friday afternoon, but I like the big city up here. Went to Berkeley (slightly disappointing), done the sightseeing thing downtown (Fisherman's Wharf, Russian Hill, Alamo Square, Chinatown, built-in-Milan cablecars, etc) which wasn't fantastic, much better just to walk around up&down the hills, Lower Haight, Octavia, Fulton, to get a feeling for the lovely (upscale) 'hoods.

Got lucky and landed in JapanTown on the first saturday of Cherry-Blossom Festival, so the entire district was all tarted up and in full swing (including long queues for the International Asian Film Festival), I really enjoyed it (but the hyashi-chuka was average).

It can be as seductive as NYC at times, even though the character is very different; NYC feels like the place where you go "to be the best", while you come to SF "to be yourself" or "to find what's next". It looks like a fundamentally mexican/asian city, rather than white, and this is fantastic. Whereas Santa Clara/Silicon Valley is such a whitey, middle-class, boring place, it's no wonder that waves of geeks are escaping to SF-SOMA (South-Of-MArket-street) and commute from there.

Been to the scenic SF Giants stadium (ahh, one day I have to see a live match) which was recently built on reclaimed land facing the bay and it's gorgeous. I still didn't see the western area, Golden Gate Park etc, but hey, you have to keep something for the next visit!

10 March 2008

Blogging does something to your mind

I am currently into a deeply technical internal training session, and the temptation to liveblog it is huge. Of course I won't (but if I could, I'm sure that my colleagues back in the UK would really like it).

07 March 2008

And now Frisco...

Just a few weeks after our fantastic trip to NYC, tomorrow my company puts me on a plane for San Francisco. I don't know anything about the place and I only have a day or so to spend there... I have to say, it's going to be hard to top what NYC gave me: walking on the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan, in a clear night of full moon, was so fantastic...

But hey Frisco, give us your best shot ;)

01 March 2008

Some Good News, For Once

Amnesty International has a list of Good News (with a feed). That's nice, newspapers should have this sort of thing on their front-pages every day, it would give us back some faith in humanity... but I forget that the papers' job is to keep you distracted, dispirited and depressed, so that their backers (investors and advertisers) will keep screwing you.

There's also a Call To Action page (again with feed). Some things you might find silly ("demonstration" is such a XIX century concept), but you can choose your preferred way to help. For example, I have a credit card that will donate 0.25% of every transaction to Amnesty. It seems such a little thing, but it raised £1.5million in the last 15 years; that's an average of £100.000 donated each year, just by shopping! I've had this card since I opened a current account here in the UK, six years ago -- which was (by the way) with an ethical bank, Cooperative, so I know that my money will not be invested in producing or dealing weapons (among other things). Oh, and did I say that my ADSL provider's profit help developing Free Software?

There are ways to make a difference, day by day, voting with your wallet. I'm no hippie (fuck, do I hate vegans and home-recycling schemes), but in all my laziness I try to help good people, a little bit. I just got a big bonus, and I think it's time to pay back some debts to my parents; i know that they will be happy to hear that I want half the money to be donated to a charity. Eh, I'm a bastard ;)