Saturday, November 17, 2007

I love Vince Vaughn, but I will not be seeing Fred Clause

I am growing very fond of Cinema 21. My first impression was that it was kind of a dive, but it is clean, and the service is consistent, and while I am not sure that the seats are supposed to move as much as they do, they are still pretty comfy.

Where they have really become important is that they show very compelling fare on a regular basis. Also, you generally only have a week to see whatever it is, with no guarantees about it turning up later on TV or DVD. I have gotten pretty apathetic about making it down to the megaplex with stadium seating, enormous tubs of popcorn, continuous commercials, and poorly crafted storytelling, but Cinema 21 keeps luring me down. Anyway, this time they got me with Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten.

I did not fall wildly in love with the movie, but I am glad I saw it. It filled a lot of things in where my knowledge was spotty. It was not as energetic or comprehensive as The End of the Century (also seen at Cinema 21), but it had its own mood and its own point, and it did okay.

I did read up on the film a little before going, so my viewing experience was framed somewhat by comments from other viewers. For the complaint about no captions done on any of the interview subjects, yes, that did make things harder. You are constantly trying to guess and identify, and then pieces come together and you are ‘okay, former girlfriend’ or what have you. At one point I was thinking someone might be his brother, but then no, his brother has been dead for decades. So that is hard, but I think it worked within the context of the film. The interviews are done around campfires, which was an important tradition for Joe, and that brings a mood that is informal and intimate and captions explaining whom everyone was would not fit. For more informed fans a lot of the faces will be pretty familiar anyway, where that is less of an issue. Since I went in recognizing almost no one, and was still able to derive meaning, clearly the film is still accessible.

The other complaints were about some faces that were too familiar, in that they had big names that provided no value. I think I was okay with Martin Scorsese, though I am not sure he added a lot of value, but John Cusack definitely fit in fine, and what he added was short and was appropriate for that section of the film. Actually, not too many people complained about them. There were many more complaints about Johnny Depp and Bono, and there I have to agree.

For Johnny, I just don’t think his comments were valuable, and also despite being himself, instead of Captain Jack Sparrow, he had the headscarf and the braided beard and it was just a joke. Maybe they caught him during the middle of filming one of the Pirates movies, but yeah, it jarred.

Bono’s comments were irritating and probably unhelpful, but I may be being unfair here because he bugs me a lot. He shouldn’t. He speaks out against poverty, which is a cause close to my heart. He seems to try and do good things, and I feel guilty for disliking him because my sisters and a friend really like U-2 as a band and admire him as an individual, but the more he talks the more I want to tell him to shut up, and yell at him to shut up. I don’t know, I guess I can’t always be logical. Nonetheless, he speaks in platitudes that don’t work if you think them out, and their music is overrated. In my opinion.

One thing that seemed lacking is that I felt throughout like there could be more of Strummer’s voice, even though they did use lots of footage and clips and cartoons he had drawn, but despite lots of material I was feeling it needed more him and less commentary by others on him. They interviewed him in The End of the Century, and he was dead by then (Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny Ramone and Joe Strummer all died so close together. I mean really, it was three and a half years, but it felt like every time you turned around another legend was gone), and he was so personable and well-spoken that I just remember feeling that loss, and I wanted to hear more from him. So as I was watching, I was thinking that, but as the end approached, it became even more intimate, and it ended with a fairly long speech for him, that was really a plea to the world to rediscover humanity, and it was very beautiful and the note it ended on was good.

Anyway, the point of all that is that I am glad I saw the film. I will not be posting again for at least ten days. Yeah, that would actually be pretty good for me, but I mention it because I have a specific plan here. When I last wrote, I was going to print the screenplay on Monday, read it in one sitting for general flow, and then start editing. Well, I did print it Monday, but it took me the rest of the week before I did the read through and I have not done any editing. Also, although things are much more caught up at work, they are not completely caught up and I need to do a major presentation on the 27th. So, I am pretty much grounding myself from the Internet until then.

Obviously I will use it at work as most of my tools are web-based, but the browsing for fun that quickly turns from a few minutes to hours it out. I have specific things I can do each day, like checking email once, and people to whom I will send email, and paying my bills online when the next paycheck hits, but it is all very structured, and I am hoping it will pay off.

That being said, the flow of the script was good. Certainly the dialog needs to be reworked, but that is normal. When you are really in the zone you might get an exchange or a paragraph just right on the first try, but good writing is rewriting. I imagine that it will need this rewrite and then a third draft before I will consider it marketable. Have a happy Thanksgiving all, and be grateful for good music and good movies. It feels like they become increasingly rare all the time.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

An unfortunate chain reaction

I was thinking that my post two days ago might have given the wrong impression, because I write so much more about the Clash than the Ramones, and really the Ramones are my favorite band, even thought I like both a lot. It is important to me because I go through phases myself of wondering if I like the Clash more, and then I keep coming back to the Ramones. However, I think the memory of discovering the Clash is clearer because I’d had so little exposure to them previously. It was just the one music video, and it’s a good song but I don’t think it is the most representative of their style. With the Ramones, for what it’s worth, I had seen Rock and Roll High School twice, they did a guest spot on the Simpsons, and their song from Pet Sematery(sic) did get some airtime. Anyway, I just needed to get that off my chest.

So, I have am now blogging the seventh blog in seven days, and accomplishing my goal. I would say it has been more valuable that I anticipated. Part of it was just wanting to keep in the habit, but it occurred to me that the practice kept me thinking about different things and mentally stimulated. I am just better off when I am writing—saner, more insightful, and more balanced. That is one reason why it is something I need to do, whether I end up professional or not. (Also, I end up with mad typing skills when I am doing thing regularly.)

My plan for Sunday is to catch up on some journal and letter writing, then Monday I will print the screenplay and read it in one sitting for the general flow. Then I will go through and start reworking. I would like to think that I will blog again Friday, and maybe Saturday start the next script, but I don’t know how long doing the second draft will take, and honestly I am not sure what the second project will be, though I am leaning towards one specific idea.

A lot of this is finding out what is realistic, and what works well for me. I am not actually compatible with the mental image I had, but the reality is turning out okay, despite still being a work in progress.

This is pretty short, so I am going to throw in a funny story. Actually, it is kind of horrible, but yeah, also funny.

Little Sister M works in a daycare center downtown, having just started a few months ago. Every year on Halloween the children are invited to trick-or-treat at a nearby office building. M had eight children she was responsible for. The mothers of two came, and were responsible for their own children. M had two, another teacher had two, and a coworker who is generally considered useless, P, had the other two. Other classrooms with other teachers were also there.

There are stops on each floor, with escalators in between. They had done a couple of floors and were going up. P stepped on with her two, and then M stepped on with her two children. I am not sure where the others were, but probably in front, because they did not get caught. P seemed to have some confusion about how handrails or escalators or handrails on escalators work, because she lost her footing and started falling, propelling her two young charges backwards. M caught them, but she could not grab two flying children while keeping two other children and maintain her balance, so she fell backwards as well, landing on a non-daycare related woman who started screaming. She may have landed on someone else, but that is not completely clear.

Everybody saw, from the boss to complete strangers. One fellow teacher fortunately had the presence of mind to press the stop button on the escalator, and I am certain that this helped. As it was, P’s hands were bleeding, and although she could not see at the time, M has escalator marks all up and down her leg. They’ll probably fade.

If any of the adults were seriously hurt, or if the children were hurt, I would probably not be able to laugh (or I would at least feel really guilty). As it is, it could have been a lot worse. The children were seriously traumatized. Neither of M’s two would stop crying, and one was too upset to walk, so after another floor or two M gave up, only having completed 5 out of 19 floors. Happy Halloween, indeed.

I am just glad everyone is okay. I mean, I am also a little sad no one was videotaping, but mainly I am glad that everyone is okay.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The PC that Spork built

Well this is the fastest I have ever had a good idea debunked. I just learned today that YouTube is deleting all of the AMVs December 1st. For listening pleasure, people keep recommending Pandora, and I may have to try that. For devotees of amateur music videos, this is an outrage.

I know, they are combining copyrighted music with copyrighted video, but they are certainly not doing it for profit, and where illegal downloading has the potential to remove profit from the content owners, I see the AMVs as free advertising. People find songs they don’t know, they find movies they are not familiar with, and interest is generated. It’s just really disappointing and seems totally shortsighted.

YouTube is working with various music labels to license the music, so the regular band videos should still be available, but it will be a poorer environment with the loss of AMV input, and it’s a shame for the makers. They can still make the videos of course, but there will not be another outlet like this for sharing. Well, maybe something new and underground will spring up, or already has. I usually come to things a little late.

That is actually a good segue into my tech history. I was actually afraid of computers for a long time. When I was in third grade they brought in an early Mac to the school and showed us, and the main thing that was impressed upon me was how easy this expensive item was to break. The disk can’t be in the drive when you start up or shut down or it will grind that away. If you turn on the monitor before the computer, the power surge will kill it, or vice versa. I just remember I was reluctant to touch it, and I never got into computers despite having a lot of nerds in my acquaintance.

When I got back from my mission, I just wanted to leave retail behind, and so I took this telemarketing job that basically involved a phone, a pen, and a call list, but it was 8-5 on weekdays and it was totally something I could accomplish. What I did not know is that this job (calling people who had expressed interest in a Medicare Supplement) was just the testing ground for new employees, and if you stuck that out they moved you into the next room, onto a PC. Soon I was running DOS reports.

Honestly, I did not love it, but I lost some of my fears, and the next few jobs I ended up taking were always progressively more technical. What I had not known was that computers had become much more durable over the last thirteen years, and you could do things without breaking them or destroying all data by one missed keystroke.

Soon I realized that I needed one for school, so I went to Circuit City and picked out the cheapest one I could find, which was a Packard Bell 486. It was about two generations behind, which meant I could afford it. Honestly, it worked out pretty well, because college was mainly about the word processing, and I also started doing my genealogy on the computer, but I was not doing anything fancy. We did not even have internet in the dorms yet.

Time went on and I graduated and took more jobs in the tech sector, and PCs also got cooler in terms of how much they could do, and then I had an opportunity to get a good deal on a processor, motherboard, and operating system. I thought, yeah this could be cool. I felt confident that I could build my own system, and I should have been right, but an unlucky thing happened.

Before I really started accumulating the parts, I read an article on PC modding and it made me overly ambitious. Now, real modding takes some real ability, and I wasn’t going to do that, but I did see an acrylic case available, and thought, yes, I will make a transparent PC, so I started picking pretty blue parts. I had a blue aluminum power supply, blue round IDE cables, UV blue fans, and a blue case light. (The optical drive was just beige.) I was all set.

It was very important to me that I do this on my own. This is because one coworker told me to bring the parts in when I was ready so they could help me, and this particular coworker was an idiot. The condescending “you’re a girl” attitude would have rankled from anyone, but seriously, I’ve heard some of the technical questions he’s asked other people. He’s not touching anything I value. But I had also bitten off more than I could chew.

Putting the case together was easy enough, and even putting in the board and chip was fine, but I was stymied on how to attach the hard drive and CD drive. The spaces were too wide. The only instruction with the case was a single page of paper with a diagram showing all the parts. It was not helpful.

So I gave in and called a coworker, but a smart one whom I respected and liked. That ended up being a really fun day, and we made a lot of progress. They key was that you needed to screw multiple standoffs together until you got the right length. However, we hit another snag, in that the power supply did not fit into the case opening. Neither of them were exactly standard parts, so that shouldn’t have been too surprising, but now I was going to have to sand down that area to make it large enough.

Much time passed. I bought a tool I could do this with, but I still didn’t get to it. Finally, when the idiot chauvinist was on vacation I did take everything into the office and I let my smart coworkers help me, and we had the system built. It felt good, and this was also when I moved up to a flat screen monitor, but there was a problem. So much time had passed that my technology was no longer very forward, and I had gotten another chip/board/OS combo as a gift.

Also, it did not take me long to get sick of the acrylic case. Our previous system (an HP that Little Sister J got through her job) had one latch to open the side, and another latch to release cards. Anything you needed to change on this one was a major ordeal. In addition, although it had never occurred to me to install a floppy drive, burning CDs is not always practical. I started looking at USB keys, but with the USB ports in the back it was not very practical.

I started lusting after an Antec. People would talk about how everything was built to standard specifications, meaning it would never require buffing or welding, it cools quietly, and best of all, front panel USB is standard. I started acquiring parts again.
By this time I had ended up with yet another free processor and board, so I sold the previous two, paying for my case, and built the current system.

There are things that were embarrassing. I bought RAM and a DVDR drive and forgot, so I bought more RAM later. I probably don’t need 4 Gigs of RAM, but I’ve got it. I did still let coworkers help, because I have found that I am just not that into it. I think I am not a real geek. When Richard and Jerry encountered the standoff issue or the power supply issue, they got glints in their eyes and rubbed their hands together, and it was cool to have a problem to solve. I just feel picked on. I do like puzzles and challenges sometimes, but I don’t think I am into technology enough.

I do nonetheless have some recommendations and preferences that are very strong:

LCD monitors: You can get rock-bottom prices on CRT monitors, but they are such a pain to move, and they just don’t look as cool.

Antec cases: It makes such a difference.

Round IDE cables: In my heart, I know my hatred of the ribbon cables is not logical, but it’s there.

Logitech mice: When I had the first PC, it held out pretty well but the mouse died in a month. I called support and they sent me this remote control that did not work at all, and rather than deal with the hassle I just went and bought a mouse. Knowing nothing, I just bought the second cheapest, which was a Logitech, and twelve years later I am still using it and it still works. I have bought other mice, and then I can’t bear to let this one go because I am so amazed by its tenacity. And it’s not even an optical mouse; it has a track ball. (I don’t think optical mice even existed in 1995.) Their keyboards and speakers are fine, but I would never buy a mouse from anywhere else.

Mozilla Firefox: I am not a Microsoft hater. I use Windows, and Office, and I even use Internet Explorer at work, but at home, I can’t stand all the stupid ad-ware/spy-ware/pop-ups. Using Firefox helps a lot, and I have not run into any site conflicts with it so far, and you can with some of the more obscure browsers.

Front-panel USB: There are so many USB peripherals, and I love my key drive so much, that this is just a must. If you don’t have it and can’t get it soon, PCH Cables has this items that plugs into the USB port and on the other end is a USB port. I guess it would qualify as an extension cable. It looks like half a golf ball. I don’t know what they call it.

Iguana Micro ( Nestled in the heart of geek central, this store is convenient, reasonably priced on most items, and the staff is knowledgeable. My first time in I was pleasantly surprised the find that the owner was someone I had known in grade school. He is pretty much always in the back now, but it is still one local business I am happy to support.

True to form, while building this one, I was thinking about the next one. I was also thinking about turning the acrylic one into a Digital Video Recorder, because I had read an article on how, and reading puts ideas in my head. However, about the time I was transferring files it stopped, never to start again. It seems to have been the power supply, and that is replaceable but then you are dealing with taking things in and out of the stupid case again so I just scavenged it for parts and saved one acrylic cube for the memories.

My other thought was how now there are workstation boards where you can put two processors, and if you quad core, you would have eight cores and that is power, and sure I don’t need it for word processing and internet, but if I did want to start editing video as I get more into film, well, it would be cool. But I have learned my lesson and I did not go out and buy processors, because by the time I would actually be ready to build the system, octo-core will be out, or something like that.

And all of this may make it sound like I am actually a geek, but I don’t have the chops for it. I’m medium geek at best.

Friday, November 02, 2007

YouTube Radio

I just got back from seeing Henry Rollins, so this seemed like a good time to blog about YouTube, as that is where I discovered my love for him.

Some of you know that I came to punk rock in kind of a roundabout manner. First, I liked the Ramones, but I didn’t really think about it a lot until the first time I heard “I Wanna Be Sedated”, which moved me from passively liking them when they were around to actively seeking them out and being amazed. It’s a cliché, but if I am going to a desert island and can only take one album, that album will be Ramones-Mania.

So fine, I like one band, no big deal, and then one day there is this amazing song on the radio, and I only hear a little bit, and my sister confirms that it is the Clash, but she doesn’t know what song. Up to that point, I only knew them for Rock the Casbah. I had heard Should I Stay or Should I Go, but I didn’t know it was them. So in the process of discovering that I was looking for Train in Vain, I discovered London Calling and Bank Robber, Rudy Can’t Fail and Lost in a Supermarket, and the list goes on. Suddenly I was aware of another great band.

This was when I started wondering if, like Sheena and Judy, I was a punk or punk rocker. I mean, here are two cornerstones of the movement, but looking at them individually they didn’t really fit into the stereotype. So, I was not sure, but there was this song I liked, Fall Back Down, by a group called Rancid. Actually, I found I liked multiple songs by them. Have you seen them? Pink mohawk, orange mohawk, and shaved head with a clown tattoo on the skull. Well, those styles change actually, but nonetheless, it is clearly punk. Also, all of these other bands that I was looking up because I was intrigued with them were getting punk+ labels. That sounds weird, but I think it was that Violent Femmes were called Hillbilly Punk (if you ask me, punkabilly flows better), AFI was probably called Goth Punk, and it seems to me that Green Day and the Presidents were in there too.

So fine, I’m a punk. At least I now finally have a justification for my studded leather wristband, and I still feel perfectly comfortable in my disdain for the Sex Pistols, because I can. But it led me to wonder, is there more? What am I missing?

I had also discovered that you could often find original music videos, live footage, and tribute videos at So I would want to hear a song, and I would just bring up the video and I didn’t have to watch it. It is more work than a real radio, or an iPod, because you need to keep choosing the next song, but I have it on my computer, it is easy, and seeing the other submissions and related videos keeps me finding new things. (Newest find: Sacrifice by London After Midnight. I don’t seem to like anything else by him, but that’s okay, this song rocks.)

I had started using it to find stuff that I knew, but at one point I realized I could also use it to explore unfamiliar territory. Sometimes it is mind-blowing. Warren Zevon was a name I heard all the time, might as well look him up. How could I have never heard Werewolves of London before? You would think it would at least get play on Halloween if nothing else. There was even a video for it.

This leads me to a quote from School of Rock, “And there used to be a way to stick it to the Man. It was called rock 'n roll, but guess what, oh no, the Man ruined that, too, with a little thing called MTV!”

I loved MTV and VH1 back in the day, when you could actually watch music videos—that was great. But having a national audience instead of just a local audience like a radio station is an amazing thing, making the decision of who gets airtime even more important, and I wonder who made those decisions and how. Maybe it did kill music, though I believe it is coming back to life.

So in terms of studying my punk history, School of Rock is also helpful in that there was an amazing flow chart, and it provided some other names to look up. Okay, I didn’t really like the Buzzcocks, but Husker Du is cool, and there are plenty of others to check. One music reviewer mentioned the Descendents and Stiff Little Fingers, and they have clips on YouTube. Hank mentioned at least four other bands tonight, and that is where it comes full circle actually, because I was looking up Black Flag when I stumbled upon some of his spoken word footage and that is where the crush happened. He’s really personable when he’s talking—more so than when singing, I would say.

The other thing that I am feeling is a desire to get more to the history of how it all developed. A while back, Little Sister M came in and said she was playing the Stooges. It was not completely true, in that she bought an Iggy Pop 2-disc set, and one disc was him with the Stooges, but the one she was playing was not. Nonetheless, points to her for knowing the name would impress me. Anyway, after she got done playing “Candy” over and over (I do that with new songs too), I asked her to play “Real Wild Child” for me, and I noticed for the first time some similarity in it to “Shake it Up” by the Cars.

What may be most interesting there is that the version I own of “Real Wild Child” is by Peter Ocasek, Ric’s son, so it all comes full circle indeed, but I started thinking about musical influences. Back in the 80’s, when I loved pop music (I still love those songs), I would always be surprised by the favorite bands of my favorite bands. Really? A-ha and the Doors? Now, I can kind of see where maybe the organ playing on “Light My Fire” is only a few steps removed from the electronic keyboards in “Take on Me”. Maybe it’s a stretch, but I would like to explore it more—the evolution of pop music over time and how it reflected and influenced society.

I’ll just make one other point about YouTube, which is that I think it could be a more effective marketing tool for emerging bands than MySpace. Amateur music videos (AMVs) are very popular. Generally they focus around a television show, a video game, or an anime of some kind, and often the focus is on a specific couple. So here is what you do:

1. Take your most romantic and beautiful song.
2. Get someone to make a video for it using clips from something popular.
3. Make a regular video for the same song showing you and how cute you are (straight performance is probably easiest).
4. Make sure the information with both videos points to your web pages, ideally where people can buy your music and learn more about you.

The most popular TV couple seems to be Clark and Chloe on Smallville. For movies, Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter series are big. For anime, unless you have one you are passionate about, I don’t know. Naruto might have the most but it is hard to keep track because there are so many. For video games, there are a lot of Kingdom Hearts videos, but the comments always say that they came for the song and did not know about the game, and that is not what you are going for. Stick to Final Fantasy VIII or X.

I know the first songs I looked up were “Here Without You” by Three Doors Down and “Rest in Pieces” by Saliva (I was feeling maudlin that night), but that led to me seeing more about Samurai X and Final Fantasy Advent Children. I think what finally led me to Final Fantasy VIII was Evanescence, “Bring Me Back to Life”, but that led to Sacrifice, and finding also a Kingdom Hearts AMV for it and one from The Crow which is excellent, though a bit bloody.

Anyway, it’s one more way to reach out. But I personally don’t have any video capture software, or any obsessions with fictional couples for that matter, so I probably can’t help. When I learn how to use my camcorder, I will film the performance video. Just ask.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

How we learned to stop worrying and ditch the conference

Happy Halloween. I was planning on going to a haunted house tonight, but I am battling a cold and did not feel up to it. That makes the being overworked harder. I have been bringing my laptop home at night so I could get some extra work done, but there is a bed here, and I can’t resist it. There is no bed in the office so I can work pretty well.

Anyway, last night I talked about people sucking, so it seemed like a good lead-in for the second half of our San Francisco experience. Yes, I wrote about the places we saw and the things we did, but not why we were there or what we were supposed to be doing.

In April, my friend Christy and I attended a mid-singles conference in Huntington Beach. Normally there are conferences and things for young single adults (under 30) and adult singles (over 30). With a wide range like that, it is easy for a 35 year old to feel like she doesn’t really want to date people her father’s age. The mid-singles conference was for ages 28-40 and seemed like a good idea. We went, had a pretty good time, and while there saw another one advertised.

This one was for San Francisco, in September. The age range was a little wider (27-45), but it was still mid-singles. When it was announced, the person doing so stated flat out that they weren’t going to be doing all these workshops and service projects—it was just going to be a party. They were reserving a fleet of motorized trolleys for a city tour, Ghirardelli Square for sundaes, a cruise around the harbor, and the De Young Museum.

On the one hand, shallow is not really a recommendation, and if it was hard to get to know people in Huntington Beach, this would be much worse. On the other hand, I hadn’t been to San Francisco beyond one afternoon when I was ten or twelve, and there were things I wanted to see, so it seemed like a good idea. Also, the shallower it was, the better the odds of getting my sisters to come.

We talked about it and decided to go with one stipulation. There was no way they were going to go on a boat dance, which is what the harbor cruise was. They had a bad experience many years ago, and as lame as dances can be (saying this as someone who used to love them), putting it into a venue where your only escape is to jump overboard is a risky proposition. I agreed, so we planned on our Alcatraz tour for that night.

Checking in at Huntington Beach, they looked up our names and registrations and gave us our wristbands, a program where they stapled the places and times we needed to be and put in our gifts. (These were a notebook and a key chain shaped like a surfboard, so nothing fancy, but they were organized for that.) In San Francisco, at the De Young Museum, they looked up our names and gave us a wristband. There was an attempt to start a scavenger hunt, but it didn’t work out, so we were basically roaming free until it was time to board the trolleys at 8:30.

Initial reports had indicated this would be a reception and there would be food and drinks. That is probably why so many people were desperately trying to get food at the museum café. We had eaten before, and it was a good thing. At 8:30 we found out that the buses would be late. This was a slight concern for those who drove, because the garages were going to close at midnight, and they needed to be back. Also, for those who were taking taxis, hoping for one in the dark in the middle of Golden Gate State Park could be risky.

Finally, the trolleys came. There were supposed to be two kinds of rides: trolleys for plain sightseeing and double-decker buses for speed dating. We had decided to stick with the trolleys so we could concentrate on the sights. At the head of the line was a U-Haul full of the souvenir blankets, which they were tossing out for people to grab. As we tried to board the first trolley, a girl blocked the entrance insisting on one guy to board for every two girls who got on.

That was a slight concern, because the ratios should not matter for plain sightseeing, but the real issue with barring entrance to a trolley is that they are actually four entrances, so people just started streaming in. We found seats, and as it was pulling away a woman with a microphone in the middle talked to us about speed dating. She was really special, so I will write more about her in a minute, but first I would just like to point out how easy it would have been to have people indicate whether they were interested in speed dating or not during online registration, and then assign them a bus or trolley number at check-in while handing them their blanket.

Anyway, this time we felt like we should ask, so I mentioned to our group activity leader that we were under the impression that speed dating was only on the buses, wasn’t that what was going on? I don’t know what’s going on, she confessed, but that did not stop her, despite the fact that there were three men on the bus for about fifteen women. So she kept calling two-minute intervals for people to trade off asking questions, but we could not move around on the moving vehicle, so we were just supposed to turn to different sides.

She wasn’t the type to let a lack of information or resources deter her. She had volunteered to be a tour guide despite knowing nothing about San Francisco after all, which she admitted. She actually asked the driver to act as our guide because of that, which he declined, but she was so bad that after a while he started pointing things out to us and telling us about them. She was still able to impart a lot of information about herself to us, so I guess she contributed.

We did have a few stops, including one to get cocoa, and people did change seats some. I did end up with a guy next to me at one point. He seemed to be on the older end of the scale, and my sisters later asked about his shop glasses, so yes, I guess he looked like a nerd, but that was not the problem.

He started out sounding a little off, by talking about how he was a healer and he healed people with his hands, and how people are sick because they eat fake food instead of real food. Although he was sounding a little bit off, I have been thinking about trans-fats and high-fructose corn syrup lately, and I tried to find common ground. I’m polite. Sadly I think this was a tactical error, as it may have only encouraged him to get crazier.
Suddenly, after finding out I was a history major, he was asking if I had ever studied the real people’s history of the United States, not the one in books, and about things that God wouldn’t do, and how revelation isn’t real because it happens on the astral plane, but the woman telling him he was a healer but she couldn’t do anything with him because there were seven other spirits around him stopping her was real. Anything I said in partial agreement resulted in still being contradicted and spouting off more, and hey, if I want that kind of a conversation I’ll look up my father. And then there was less and less I could pretend to agree to at all. He was just so eager to show me the error of my ways and I have dealt with crazy and with arrogant before but at the same time when you are not even cute and you have bad breath? Maybe he was rich, but I didn’t find out. I later heard him advising our tour guide to eat nuts and berries to train for her swim, and saw another girl shaking her head when he was talking to her.

So we made it back, and our trolley driver took pity on the poor naïve Mormons, so he offered anyone going into downtown a ride, and even though his initial plan seemed to only be to drop us off to where we could easily get a cab or walk, he ended up taking everyone up to their hotel doors. It may have been the residual horror from finding out that two of the girls were staying at the YMCA. He called out an extra “Be careful” when they got off, let me tell you. His compassion was nonetheless appreciated.

So, from our experience so far, things were disorganized, the people were a little more uptight and shallow, and since we were there for fun, we did not feel it would be responsible to put these people in charge of our fun, especially since we had realized by this point that we wanted to see everything on this trip so we would not have to go back. So, we did not go back to the conference, at all. The way the sundae party was scheduled we could not attend it and make our tour anyway, so it was just missing the games at Golden Gate Park and the Sunday activities, and we could live with this.

So, do I have regrets? Not really. For one thing, we did see the city and met our goals there. Also, I ran into one old friend, and through her got the number for another old friend, so there were some connections made, even if they were not male.

We did not end up getting any of the food we paid for, but I heard from someone else that the Jamba Juice never showed up Saturday, much like the reception, so going would not have helped that. I guess it was kind of an expensive blanket.

I would not go to a San Francisco conference again, but I would try another city, and I would go back to Huntington Beach. It is playing into stereotypes, but yes, I prefer beach bums to urban hipsters. Also, I would really like to throw one here.