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San Francisco Comic-Con 2016

I've been going to comic book conventions for decades, back when they used to be almost exclusively about comics and less about games, movies, and cosplay. Back then, admission was $3 or maybe even up to $7 or $10 depending on what artists were there signing. There wouldn't be tons of artists there, maybe two or three. I remember one convention I went to with a huge line for Todd McFarlane. David Mazzucchelli sat at a small table with no line. I was a fan and went over to get Mazzucchelli to sign something (Batman: Year One or Daredevil: Born Again—I forget which). There weren't artist alleys. There wasn't much visible cosplay. I think there was maybe one panel. No movie tie-ins (before that, we had Batman, Dick Tracy, and Rocketeer, and not a whole lot else).

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I'm in San Francisco attending Wonder-Con at the giant Moscone Center in SOMA. I remember seeing a completely packed large ballroom for a preview of Joss Whedon's Serenity, and as they emptied out, seeing the cast of Fantastic Four, randomly Christian Bale (for Dark Knight, I guess), and then Kevin Smith.

Comic conventions were huge, and this wasn't even San Diego Comic-Con.

But then Wonder-Con ditched San Francisco for Anaheim.

This year, another company decided to take on launching up a San Francisco Comic-Con, and it was bit rocky, but a promising start.

The logistics were a bit of a mess.

The line-up of celebrity guests kept changing. People kept cancelling, even last minute. A week before the convention, my spouse and I checked the panel schedule and mapped out time-wise what we'd like to see. The weekend of the convention, all the panel times had completely switched around.

The check-in process was also extremely confusing. For some reason, the Marriott had put two little metal gates in front of the main entrance of the hotel so that everyone (both conventioneers and regular hotel guests) had to squeeze into a narrow four-foot opening.

Then, we saw a lot of colorful signs up the escalator from the lobby, so we went up there, but the people up there said the check-in was downstairs. We followed the crowds of people downstairs... and then down more stairs, and then down even more stairs. There was no cell reception in the depths of the check-in area, so convention staff had to keep yelling that people with e-tickets should get the tickets up on their phones before heading downstairs.

When we got downstairs downstairs downstairs, we had a security check line with a Disneyland-like snaking line (about Toy Story Mania–length, for those of you familiar with California Adventure). They scanned our tickets and gave us bracelets.

We asked a Comic-Con volunteer where Golden Gate B was, and she had no idea, and told us to ask a staff member. What's a volunteer for exactly? Or why aren't they getting proper training?

The Comic-Con app was also a big fail. It wasn't mobile-friendly at all, and it didn't have everything offline. Some of the text you had to side-scroll to read. Every time you clicked into the panel information, you had to reselect the day (how often is the day going to change?).

Ultimately, it didn't seem the Marriott was equipped to handle a comic book convention. There was a major bottleneck right in the main lobby where guests check in. I felt bad for the hotel guests who wanted nothing to do with comic books.

Still a Good Time!

Logistics aside, we still had a good time. The first panel we went to was with Jenna Coleman: I thought she was the height of professionalism. You could tell she was tired of answering the same questions over and over again, but she kept trying to be respectful of her fans and make up new ways of giving the same answers. She didn't pretend she'd been a huge Doctor Who fan before being on the show. She didn't pretend to know who Death from Sandman is. And she connected really well with the little kids, who were totally adorable when asking their questions.

The convention didn't provide much in the way of food. There was a small concession area near the check-in area with mediocre food for okay prices (which is still better than mediocre food for exorbitant prices). That's fine, though. There are plenty of places to eat around the Marriott. We opted for Mel's Drive-In, which was crowded but didn't have too long a wait.

2016-09-03 11.51.48

The artists' alley had a lot of artists (not all unfortunately listed on the San Francisco comic-con website). We got to meet and speak with Gerhard, the mastermind behind Cerebus's beautiful backgrounds. (I'd recommend reading this extensive interview with Gerhard from 2011.) Chatting with Gerhard alone made the convention worth it.

Weirdly, a ton of people were lined up for these mystery boxes—giant boxes that look like power-ups from Super Mario or Tardises from Doctor Who. They sold out mid-day.

2016-09-03 13.33.34

The afternoon panel we went to was Women Write Comics with Trina Robbins, Dani Colman, and Anne Toole, and it was excellent. So much great stuff about writing, collaboration, sexism, differences in media (movies, TV, comics), authenticity... just too much stuff to list.

I've got to say, having gone to comic book conventions for several decades, I loved seeing a gender balance in attendees (lots of girls dressed as Rey from Star Wars, lots of women dressed as Ghostbusters) and lots of racial diversity as well (not all the stereotypical white neckbeards of yesteryear). Yes, this first San Francisco Comic-Con was a logistical flub-up (not exactly a disaster, but there's lots of room for improvement!), but people still looked as if they were having fun. I certainly had a lot of fun, and I hope next year the planners learn from their mistakes and make the process a bit smoother for everyone involved.

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Exploring nuance in the Talia Jane / Yelp-Eat24 drama

Recently, Talia Jane's An Open Letter To My CEO post on Medium has stirred a lot of emotions on the blogosphere (in other Medium posts, in the Medium comments on her original post) and on Twitter.

There seems to be a pretty sharp divide in how people react to the piece. On the one side, you have the "You're an entitled Millennial who made bad choices, and now you're whining? When I was your age, I worked five jobs and walked up hill both ways to work. Deal with it!" reaction. On the other side, you have the "This is absolutely horrible. I can't believe you went through this. Let me donate to your right away" reaction. And I haven't seen a lot of nuance in the reactions yet.

Just as with Angry Asian Trademarks from last year, I'm really trying to see both sides of the issue.

The English Major

Some of the commentary I've read on Ms. Jane's piece has been along the lines of "Well, you were an English major. You're an idiot if you think you can live off of that. Why didn't you pick a more practical major?" Thing is—there is nothing wrong with majoring in something impractical. Some of the best colleges are liberal arts schools in which the whole point is to major in something impractical. I went to a liberal arts school and majored in English. I didn't expect to make a lot of money. Very few English majors do. I haven't even seen Avenue Q, but I know of What do you Do with a B.A. in English?/ It Sucks to be Me, and I'm not the only one.

I ended up with an English major planning to be a teacher. I knew other English majors who wanted to go into academia or publishing or fiction-writing or journalism. None of those people imagined that being an English major would lead to raking in the big bucks. We did, however, want a living wage. We wanted to be able to pay our rent and eat food. There is (and should be) a middle ground between millionaire status and abject poverty.

Housing and Rent

The primary criticisms of Jane's piece with regard to housing are two-fold:

  1. She wants to move to San Francisco to be close to her dad (since we’ve never gotten to have much of a relationship), but she can't live with him to save money?
  2. She pays $1245 for an apartment far away from work, because that's the cheapest apartment she can get that's the closest (even though it's far from work), but there's no indication that she's sharing the apartment with roommates to save on rent.

Giving Ms. Jane the benefit of the doubt as much as I can, it's very possible that, because she and her dad haven't had much of a relationship, she didn't feel super comfortable asking to stay with him. I think the idea was that previously they didn't have much of a relationship, but her hope was that by living nearby she could foster one with him. Also, she says she wants to be close to her dad, but we don't know where exactly in the Bay Area her dad lives. If he lives in Milpitas, Danville, or Petaluma, then living with him doesn't really help her commute to San Francisco easily/feasibly.

The roommate thing seems to be a far more legitimate criticism. I get why you might not want to live with a roommate, but if you're getting paid minimum wage in San Francisco, sharing housing seems the absolute obvious thing to do to reduce rent. Instead of paying $1245 to live far away, Ms. Jane could be paying $900 to rent a room in a nice house with three or four other people. It really isn't clear from her piece why she didn't at least consider that possibility before rejecting it.

That's a Lot of Rice

In her piece, Ms. Jane says

I haven’t bought groceries since I started this job. Not because I’m lazy, but because I got this ten pound bag of rice before I moved here and my meals at home (including the one I’m having as I write this) consist, by and large, of that. Because I can’t afford to buy groceries. Bread is a luxury to me, even though you’ve got a whole fridge full of it on the 8th floor.
In response, someone has created a site called "That's a Lot of Rice" - Talia Jane debunked that shows photos from Ms. Jane's Instagram account (these photos were also cross-posted on her Twitter account) that involve expensive meals, elaborately home-cooked meals or baked goods, and just generally expensive random stuff.

I had mixed feelings about the debunking site. On the one hand, I get it. She's making it sound as if she's starving and has been living on rice alone. Maybe she's a fraud.

At the same time, there are a few things to consider here:

  • The shaming "See what pictures of food you posted?" exposé reminds me a bit of the extra scrutiny people get when using food stamps for luxury items. The thing is—people are human. Even when you're poor, you want to indulge every now and then. Did you read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and think Charlie was irresponsible for wasting money on an unhealthy-for-him chocolate bar? You also have to consider that people who are stressed out about money don't always make the best decisions. It's far easier to be prudent about your spending, ironically, when you don't have as strong a need to be prudent.
  • We don't know the exact context of these photos. In the social media age we live in now, there's a strong pressure (I believe especially among younger folks) to make it seem in your social media presence that you're always doing fun things or living a rich (doesn't have to be money) experience. It's honestly kind of a downer to post to your Instagram every day "Another serving from my ten-pound bag of rice. Yum!" Maybe the Lush product was an in-store sample. Maybe the baking was part of a baking party with friends. Maybe a richer friend of hers (who works as a software engineer or technical writer) treated her to a nice breakfast, which she usually doesn't get.
  • She says her meals at home consist, by and large, of [rice]. She didn't say "I exclusively eat rice and absolutely nothing else. When friends want to be nice and treat me to a meal, I always refuse, saying 'No, I must appear dirt poor at all times!'"

Sure, I think in her actual piece, she should have put more nuance in (instead of me, a total stranger, having to fill in the blanks with nuance after the fact). Again, if you're worried about money, feeling stressed out about it, and really angry... I don't think you're going to go for nuance. She may have, in fact, exaggerated. That doesn't mean she is a total fraud necessarily.

CVS

One story Ms. Jane recounts involves going to a CVS and an employee overhearing a conversation of hers and, unsolicited, giving her $6 of his own money. Some people have chided her for being condescending in consider the CVS employee beneath her somehow. I read the passage over again, and I'm not seeing that at all.

This is how she concludes that paragraph:

Did you know that after getting hired back in August, I’m still being trained for the same position I’ve got? But Marcus at CVS has six dollars in his wallet, and I’m picking up coins on the street trying to figure out how I’ll be able to pay him back.
Not seeing the condescension there.

Health/Dental Benefits and Commute

Some people have criticized Ms. Lane for complaining, even though she had full health coverage at Yelp (except for $20 co-pays) or for not knowing that her company probably had some kind of pre-tax commuter program for BART.

On this front, I'm a bit more on her side. It's awful that many workers in the U.S. have not-so-great (but technically still ACA-compliant) coverage for healthcare at their workplaces. To imply that means she should be grateful for decent coverage even though she's poor... I don't buy that. (Of course, I'm also a bleeding-heart liberal who believes that America should have single-payer health care instead of merely "Obamacare.")

And I remember being 25 and have very little money. I didn't fully understand pre-tax stuff and how it could benefit me and my spouse. I didn't get that money I was putting aside was money I would be spending anyway, and I would actually (with flexible spending or with pre-tax commuter) end up spending less from my paycheck. All I could think (and I'm guessing Ms. Lane thought the same thing) was "My paycheck is already so small—you want me to take more out of it before it hits my checking account?"

Per hour after taxes?

I've read some criticisms of Ms. Lane's piece that point to her saying I make $8.15 an hour after taxes as disingenuous, because it's making it sound as if she's making less than she really was (the pre-tax minimum wage of $12.25/hour). The context in which it comes up, though, is in talking about how much she has to spend on transportation and gas/electric. When you have to spend money on actual items, you are most likely focusing on the spending relative to the amount that's in your checking account—that is, your post-tax (take-home) pay.

PayPal, Venmo, Square Cash

I'm not sure what to think on the plea for donations at the end of her post. Before she wrote the post, she didn't know she'd be fired from Yelp. The responses to her post seem to indicate that at least some people donated to her. I don't know how many people donated or how much they each donated on average. Now that she's lost her job, even with a few thousand dollars, that'll probably last her a month or so.

I'm not tripping too much on the donation front. No one is coercing you into donating. I did not donate to her, I don't plan to, and I don't feel pressured to. She can certainly ask.

Career Impatience and Millennial "Entitlement"?

Up until this point, I may be coming across as a Talia Jane apologist. I tend to want to empathize before judging. This bit I just don't get, though:

I felt it was fair that I start out working in the customer support section of Yelp/Eat24 before I’d be qualified to transfer to media. Then, after I had moved and got firmly stuck in this apartment with this debt, I was told I’d have to work in support for an entire year before I would be able to move to a different department.
[Emphasis not added]

I'm scratching my head on this one, along with the rest of the peanut gallery. You took a customer support job (the kind of job in which you get hired the same day you interview), and you expected to be transferred to another department in less than a year? Maybe I'm just old school, but I think you generally put in your dues when you're in your early and mid twenties before you start zipping up and around career-wise, unless you happen to be a unicorn-successful tech entrepreneur.

I certainly don't judge Millennials as a whole. Most Millennials I've worked with have been hard-working and level-headed. At the same time, I can't think of any Gen X'er friends (or former co-workers) who, at 25, were appalled at having to fetch coffee or make photocopies (or do customer support) for more than a year before moving on to something more interesting career-wise.

I'm not a curmudgeon, though. I do think there is a balance to be had. If we can get to a point where people's lives can be more rewarding, we shouldn't make people's lives intentionally difficult just because life was difficult for us when we were younger. At the same time, nobody should expect and demand that life be less difficult when those who came before didn't get to magically jump ahead.

Talia Jane is not representative of Millennials or the attitudes (yes, plural) they possess. There is definitely some entitlement in the piece, and I do think that's where a lot of the over-the-top backlash is coming from... maybe slightly justified but still over the top.

Larger issues about affordability and a living wage

Some people have suggested this may be less about Ms. Jane's specific case and more about Bay Area (lack of) affordability in general. I don't think so. That is a real problem. Middle-class and working-class people (and—I hate to say it—even relatively well-off tech workers) are struggling to keep up with the rents and housing prices in the Bay Area. But those real debates are happening in the streets, at dinner conversations, in letters to The San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter and Facebook. Talia Jane's piece doesn't really bring a whole lot more to it. We all know there isn't enough housing and that minimum wage is tough to live on in San Francisco.

What's next for Talia Jane?

If I were Talia, I'd take some of the criticism to heart (Yes, I knew I wouldn't be paid a lot, and yes, I know I signed a lease for an apartment I couldn't afford, and I should have gotten a roommate), and I'd be a bit nervous (I just got fired. Who's going to hire me again?), but I'd also be excited. If her goal was to get more Twitter followers, she certainly got them. You can call her a troll if you want to be uber-cynical about it, but she certainly got attention, and—since she wants to be a writer—now would be the perfect time to strategize about how to leverage all this attention into an actual career.

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San Francisco needs a Trimet

Portland MAX Train
Just got back from a trip to Portland. Never had been there before. It’s a nice city. No Asian people… even in “Chinatown.” A lot of people smoking on street corners. A few ugly bridges over the beautiful water.

But some good food, a walkable downtown, charming parks everywhere, and… an excellent public transportation system.

My wife and I have been two years without a car in San Francisco, and it has been worth it overall. Nevertheless, every now and then you just have to curse MUNI and think, “Life would be so much easier right now if I had a car.”

Not so in Portland. Whether it’s lightrail trains, proper buses, or the streetcar line, in our almost-a-week there, we never waited more than 10 minutes for a bus (usually 2-3 minutes), we never had a bus driver who appeared to have aspirations to be in NASCAR or to be doing stunts for Michael Bay movies, there was virtually no graffiti, the fares were low (in most places, free even), and the time to get from place to place was minimal.

This difference between Portland’s public transit and the Bay Area’s wasn’t more apparent than when we finally went home.

We woke up at 4-something in the morning, walked half a mile from our hotel to the nearest lightrail stop, paid $2 for a ticket to the airport, waited three minutes for the on-time train to come, and then were at the airport within an hour… with a smooth ride to boot.

Coming back home from the San Francisco airport, we had to hop on a shuttle to get to the BART subway station. Then the BART train (which costs $4.70) we got on just randomly sat there for about fifteen minutes with no movement and no announcement from the conductor as to when the train would actually depart. The BART train was smelly and loud. From BART, we got on the MUNI bus home ($1.50, if we didn’t already have monthly passes), which was extremely crowded and full of permanent marker–graffiti. The bus driver drove like a maniac.

It is great to be home (and at least away from tobacco city), but is it really that difficult to get a decent public transit system here?

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Life

I understand why White people are nolstagic for the 1950s

Every so often, you’ll hear White Americans over the age of 60 (or even under… I guess by their imagination) long for the “good old days” of the 1950s. To me, they’re just the racist old days… or the sexist old days… or the repressed old days… or the red scare old days… or anti-comic book old days. I don’t really see the 1950s as a positive period in American history. I do dig the doo wop songs of that period, I guess.

But there is something to be said for a small town feel. The mom and pop shops. The diners. The safe neighborhoods. Well, as far as I can tell, the Richmond District in San Francisco is the best of the 1950s but without all the McCarthyism and oppression/repression. I’ve got to say I love the Richmond.

Joe’s Ice Cream has the best ice cream I’ve ever had. It’s homemade every day by this old Japanese guy, and his family serves it up with smiles (and really strong forearms). Bill’s Place has an old-time diner feel with amazing milkshakes. Even today, my wife and I went to a paint store and got wonderful customer service from an old dude who told us exactly what we needed to get and didn’t need to get to repaint our kitchen cabinets. He wrote down the exact procedure for us and forbade us from buying bigger paint cans than we needed, even when we kept insisting we needed bigger paint cans (he was right, by the way—the small paint cans were sufficient). And don’t forget the locally owned Balboa movie theater with its 1920s flare, cheap prices, mix of artsy and mainstream films, real butter for popcorn, and staff who care about movies.

I love local joints and a small town feel. The people I run into in businesses in the Richmond District generally care about their businesses. They’re not just hired hands who work on commission. They want to develop a relationship with you and work hard to gain your trust. So I’ve got to say… now I understand why White people are nostalgic for the 1950s. If only we could get a good 24-hour diner around here (no, Video Cafe does not count—I said good 24-hour diner).

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Life

Non-tourist guide for San Francisco tourists

As someone who’s lived in San Francisco for several years now, I get saddened seeing hordes of tourists come and get sucked up by the tourist traps. They’ll go to the Golden Gate Bridge, see the crooked street, visit Ghirardelli Square, hang out at Fisherman’s Wharf, shop in Union Square and maybe eat at the Cheesecake Factory or McDonald’s. Yuck. Please don’t be that tourist. Please. I can help you not be that tourist.

Tourist traps that are okay
First of all, if you feel the need to really be a tourist to experience San Francisco, there are a few touristy things you can do that are excusable.

You can visit Alcatraz and take the audio tour. It’s educational, fun, a little scary, and breathtaking (the views you can get of SF from the island).

You can go to Twin Peaks and see everything from there (Market Street from the Castro to the Embarcadero, the East Bay, Coit Tower, Treasure Island, Alcatraz, Sausalito, The Golden Gate Bridge, Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park). It’s a great place to get good pictures.

Golden Gate Park is a wonderful place to devote a day to. There’s plenty of parking. You can also explore it on bicycle or on foot. The Conservatory of Flowers is a little expensive for the little you see, but the plants are quite fascinating. If you can go when the butterflies are hatching, you may actually get your money’s worth. The Botanical Garden is a great, free stroll. You can see old people lawn bowling, take your kids on the carousel, play tennis, and go peddle-boating on Stow Lake. On Sundays, the park is full of runners, walkers, and rollerbladers, and there’s usually some kind of dancing going on (participatory or not). Avoid the Japanese Tea Garden.

Places to Visit
If you can come during an event, you will feel the real San Francisco. Run in Bay to Breakers. March in the Gay Pride Parade. Where crowds of San Franciscans gather, you’re bound to have a good time either watching or joining. If you’re a party person, see if there is some kind of festival going on in North Beach or on Union Street.

Sometimes tourism can be tiring, though, and you just want to soak up a movie and relax. Why go to a megaplex like the Metreon (hint: don’t go there) when you go to an independently owned neighborhood theater like the Castro, the Red Vic, the Presidio, or the Four Star? I would highly recommend The Balboa Theater in the Outer Richmond (just north of the western part of Golden Gate Park). It feels like a 1920s theater (and they still have a lot of memorabilia and news clippings from that time period in the theater), the folks who work there really care about movies, the movies are affordable, the popcorn butter is real, and they have a good mix of blockbusters and artsy films. Sometimes they even have trivia and prizes at the beginning of films. You can’t miss the old-timey marquee and neon lights!

If you have to go to see a show, go to The Post Street Theatre. Their theater is attached to a hotel and is very cozy and has character. More importantly, they tend to pick shows that are entertaining, not always the big Broadway hits.

If you’re into free things, you might want to check out Film Night in the Park. During the summer, there are also free concerts at Stern Grove, a very family-friendly venue with beautiful scenery and “natural” acoustics.

And don’t forget that museums are usually free the first Tuesday (sometimes Wednesday) of every month. The Cartoon Art Museum is small but really interesting.

Where to eat
My wife would have her own recommendations, of course, but these are what I would recommend. Don’t go to the Cheesecake Factory, please!

  • Art’s Cafe. This little diner near Golden Gate Park is run by a Korean couple that makes the food right in front of you. They have the best Strawberry Lemonade! The place is cute (if not a little small), and the food is good and, more importantly, cheap.
  • Park Chow. Also by Golden Gate Park, Park Chow I’ve eaten at literally hundreds of times and it’s always been good. I don’t think I can say that about any other restaurant. Park Chow isn’t always stellar, but it’s always good, if not great. The service is wonderful, and the food tasty (their apple pie a la mode is incomparable). The one time my wife and I did get bad service (it took 40 minutes for our food to come out, because they’d forgotten to put our order in), they gave us complimentary desserts. That’s once out of hundreds of times.
  • The Matterhorn Swiss Restaurant. It’s a little pricey, but the fondue is excellent, whether you’re getting cheese, beef, or chocolate. If you do get the cheese, I’d highly recommend “the Mature One.”
  • Mifune. If you’re in Japantown and hungry, grab some soba or udon noodles at Mifune for cheapness and goodness. They have sushi on the menu, but don’t order the sushi here.
  • Bill’s Place. I hear the burgers are good here (I’m vegetarian), but I know the fries are good. And the cookies and cream milkshake is amazing! Do not order the vanilla milkshake, though. It’s terrible.
  • Chiang Mai. Just some good Thai food. I don’t even usually like Thai.
  • Burma Superstar. You’ll hear differing opinions on this restaurant if you ask a lot of San Franciscans. Some will say it’s the best. Others will say it’s overrated. The first time my wife went, she was sorely disappointed. Then she heard that you’re supposed to order only the starred items on the menu, and she’s been a convert ever since. Make sure to get in early. After 6 PM, there is a huge line until closing. If you do come late, though, you can leave your name and cell phone, and they’ll call you just before your table’s ready.
  • Little Star Pizza. Good pizza is hard to come by in San Francisco. If you are looking for some good deep dish, though, you should visit Little Star Pizza. You won’t leave hungry. Just make sure you get there early (after 6:30, it gets louder than a nightclub) and bring cash with you (they don’t take credit cards).
  • Kabuto Sushi. Do you like sushi places that specialize in adding in a lot of extra rice and giving you the 49er roll or the Dragon Roll? Don’t go to Kabuto Sushi. Kabuto is some darn good speciality sushi. And even their non-fish rolls (the ones I get) are stellar.

Getting around
As long as you avoid the 19 and the 30, most of the buses are pretty good for getting around. You’ll run into your occasional smelly drunk or graffiti-spraying punk kid, but for the most part… that’s San Francisco, and there’s no better way to experience San Francisco the way the natives do than to take the bus around. A lot of bus shelters have little displays telling you when the next bus will come (only about a 4/5 chance of it telling you the truth, unfortunately). If you want some beautiful scenery, take the 29 from Stonestown Galleria to the Presidio Transit Center. It’ll take you close to the ocean, through the green scenery of Sunset Boulevard, through Golden Gate Park, past the Golden Gate Bridge, and up through the Presidio. [2010.06.30: Unfortunately, due to MUNI major mismanagement, there have been severe cuts to service, and the part of the 29 route from Baker Beach to the Presidio got chopped]

Bus rides are $1.50 $2.00 a person, and the transfer will last you as many bus rides as you can squeeze in before the cut-off time on your transfer stub. You can also get day passes and weekly passes. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions from other passengers. People may look as if they’re absorbed in reading The Examiner, picking their noses, or listening to their iPods, but they’ll help you find the best bus route if you ask nicely. And if they don’t, some other passenger will take pity on you and give you the right directions. It’s actually quite amusing sometimes when you get a tourist caught in a debate amongst several passengers as to what the best route is to get to downtown.

If you want to rent a car for a day or two, you would do well to drive down the Great Highway (do not drive faster than 33 MPH if you want to get all green lights) and then take Route 1 all the way down to Half Moon Bay. I-280 also has some beautiful scenery. Avoid 101, as it is often full of traffic… and quite ugly to look at.

Well, that’s about it for now. Obviously, I can’t give you the full SF experience I’ve had, but hopefully I’ve given some potential tourists a few tips that’ll help them get the most out of their visit.

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Ubuntu

I ordered two things at Art’s Cafe!

Art’s Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. Granted, it’s open only 7 AM-3 PM, has limited seating, and has the tiniest bathroom I’ve ever seen. But the food is good, the strawberry lemonade is amazing, the atmosphere home-y, and the staff (husband-and-wife team) friendly and extremely efficient.

Don’t order two things, though.

We had a friend visit from out of town, took him to Art’s (he’s a big guy), and he ordered two entrées and the wife part of the h-and-w team questioned him, as she laughed, “Both? You want both?” When he confirmed that he did want both, she laughed again and shook her head as she walked away. Both he, my wife, and I were all baffled by this behavior. Don’t restaurants want their customers to order more? And is it really completely unheard of that a big guy might order two entrées?

I guess it’s part of the charm of Art’s, though. You are a customer, and they are a business, but it does feel a little like home, and the wife part of the h-and-w team sometimes acts as if she’s your mom.

Well, I had a moment of weakness this past weekend and ordered two things. I had a grilled cheese sandwich, which comes with fries, and (gasp!) I dared order a side of hash browns, too. Just as she did our friend, she questioned me as to whether or not I wanted both, and all I could say was, “I like potatoes….” I got the eye-roll, the laugh, and the head-shake. Nevertheless, and most importantly, I got both my French fries and my hash browns. Yummy.