It's gotten to the point where a trip to California doesn't get it's own blog post any more. I think that may mean that I'm getting to be a grumpy jaded traveler. Alcatraz? Humbug. Desultorily snap a few photos, move on. I was in the San Francisco area for two weeks in a row. Alcatraz seriously made me grumpy.
Oh looky, a notorious piece of American History! "Isn't it fascinating?", the boat and tour guides insist. A prison! Where some famous criminals were incarcerated like so much animal meat. Yay America! Bah.
I admit, I was drawn to go see it by all the hype. "You gotta see Alcatraz while you're in San Fran, it's famous!", pop culture insists. But of course, once I paid my 20 bits and took the boat ride, I realized that I had just spent money to go see a bunch of rotting old buildings which once upon a time housed nothing but human misery and I am somehow supposed to believe that it is a worthwhile expenditure. "We don't know exactly which cell was Al Capone's but hey look, they're all the same!"
Al Capone, the "Birdman" of Alcatraz... these are a part of some sort of mythic pantheon of America's recent rough-and-tumble past. But you know what? They were murderers and thieves, and our answer was to treat them like animals rather than men. Isn't it cool? Isn't it fascinating? Isn't prison worth preserving? America, fuck yeah.
Escape from Alcatraz! You can see the Golden Gate Bridge through the door in the bay there, even though it's really red, not gold. My drive down to the Big Basin Redwoods State Park was much more pleasant.
Big, giant, man-eating trees! Well, big giant trees, anyway. And gnarly. The shots I took of me standing in front of this next one--in order to show the scale--turned out pretty lousy. But if I were standing in front of it, my head would come up to just above where those two little nubbins hanging down from the big knob in the center of the photo are.
Anywho, my job was actually situated in Menlo Park, which is in Silicon Valley. Our client was SRI, the Stanford Research Institute, who not only sent the very first communication ever over the "internet" back in the 1969, but is essentially the grandfather of Silicon Valley itself, being responsible for encouraging students (when it was still a branch of the University, and had not yet been pinched off as a private company) to open computery-type businesses in the area... And they hired us to teach them how to get certified in some computer program. My job is pretty cool sometimes. So, I got to see a bit of where the modern era began, although the area isn't much to look at. It's all big buildings with locked doors and security guards because they're busy inventing big important world-changing technology there all the time, and no they don't have time to give you a tour. Go away now please. Humph. But I did find an Easter Egg.
No, me being grumpy in front of facebook is not the Easter Egg. Although hey, pretty meta, right? If the tree on the left was a bit more rounded, it would look like the facebook thumbs-up icon is being shoved up someone's butt. Ha! But no, the Easter Egg is what's behind the facebook sign. Apparently, facebook leased or bought their corporate headquarters building from Oracle, who own a piece of Silicon Valley history.