Cupertino diary, day 6

Thursday, 21 June, 2018. 08:18

I am sitting on a Caltrain at Lawrence station, waiting to depart for San Francisco. I intended to make it here in time for the 08:50 train, but managed to walk here from my hotel just in time to catch the 08:15 service, although it sat here for a few minutes as an express roared past.

I was woken up this morning by my alarm at 06:50. I hopped in the shower, then dressed and went to breakfast for the usual fruit and yoghurt. One woman sitting near me was coughing horribly the whole time, deep and phlegmy. I hope she wasn’t spreading germs in my direction. I also saw Urabe-san and his colleague there, and said goodbye to them until Cologne in October.

I returned to my room, packed my bags, and went to reception to check out. Then I walked back along the route I followed on Saturday from Lawrence station to catch a train to San Francisco. I have a luggage minding service booked through Bagnb, at a computer store south of Market, so conveniently on the way from San Francisco Caltrain station to a BART station on Market Street. After dropping my bag there, I’ll catch BART across the bay to Berkeley to meet Shaenon for lunch at Jupiter, a brewhouse that she recommended.


Palo Alto station. This station has a really cool Art Deco station building. Yellow with rust red striping and the station name in a pencil thin grotesque font.


I am on a BART train heading to the airport.

SF Caltrain station
San Francisco Caltrain station

My Caltrain this morning arrived at the San Francisco station, where I alighted with everyone else. There was a long slow queue of people exiting the train and along the platform to the station exit. After tapping off with my Clipper card, I walked north along 4th Street until I reached Howard Street, where I turned left to find the computer shop that would mind my luggage for the day, as booked through Bagnb. A man there looked up my name and took my bag, giving me a paper slip to collect it later. He warned me that the shop closed at 18:00, so to make sure and collect it before then.

Blue bamboo
Bamboo Reef dive supplies on 4th Street

Considerably unencumbered, I walked up to Market Street and then along it to the Montgomery Street BART station, where I hopped on a train to Berkeley. I had a bit of a wait as I just missed a train that was waiting on the platform as I arrived. I could have got on, but I had to confirm from a map on the station wall first that this train going to Richmond was going where I wanted. When I did confirm that it stopped at Berkeley and went to get on, the door closed right in front of me, and I decided not to risk rushing through as it closed.

Wells Fargo, Market St
Wells Fargo building, Market and O’Farrell Streets

Following the ride across the Bay and then north to Berkeley, I got off, emerging into a busy street. I got my bearings using my map app and found Jupiter, the brewhouse where I’d be meeting Shaenon for lunch. But it was only a bit before 11:00, so I had time to kill.

I needed to use a toilet, so looked for somewhere I could get a small drink or snack and use the facilities. I found a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop, and went in to ask if they had a toilet. The guy indicated one in the back, and I said I’d buy something on the way out. Looking at the flavours, I asked to try a little bit of the vanilla to see how strong the flavour was. It was pretty good, but I decided to have a small shake made with Chunky Monkey, banana ice cream with chocolate chunks.

Chunky Monkey
Ben & Jerry’s, Berkeley

As I drank the shake, I walked towards the University of California Berkeley campus and then down a walking path through a small wooded area into the university. I passed various buildings in heavy neoclassical style, including the impressive and very serious looking life sciences building. There were a few groups of young people being led around by guides giving talks, and I guessed they may have been prospective students being shown around.

Life Sciences building, Berkeley
Life Sciences building, UC Berkeley

I walked towards Sather Tower, the tall campanile which is the focal point of the campus, up a small hill as the grounds spread toward the hills to the east. After taking some photos, I headed south to the Sather Gate, the main entrance to the university, separating the landscaped area from a large paved courtyard flanked by administration and student union buildings. The courtyard was bustling with activity typical of student institutions, including several groups stationed at stalls promoting socialism and various other political or spiritual philosophies.

Monkey at UC Berkeley
Sather Tower, UC Berkeley

Out of the university, I explored the area of shops sprawled over the next couple of blocks. I found the giant Games of Berkeley store, which I browsed in for a while, checking out their extensive selection of board games, puzzles, roleplaying games, card games, and other geeky stuff. From there I wandered back towards Jupiter, keeping an eye out for any other interesting shops.

Halfway there I found a comics and poster shop, which I popped into quickly. I found they also had second hand books, and one happened to be the Encyclopedia of Tarot by Stuart Kaplan, which is a long out of print book that I’ve wanted for some years. It’s a historical description of tarot, rather than a book that assumes its occult powers are real. As it was only $15, I snapped it up. The guy tried to talk me into another book on tarot, by Crane I think, as he had an old copy there as well, but I resisted.

Landmark California Theatre
Art deco Landmark California Theatre, Berkeley

I arrived at Jupiter just a bit before our designated meeting time of 12:30. I grabbed a tale out the back in the courtyard, under the shade of an umbrella, and waited a few minutes until Shaenon arrived with her son Robin in tow. We ordered some lunch; she got a salad plus some olives for Robin, while I chose a “Galileo” pizza, which had artichoke, zucchini, spinach, and manchego cheese on it. The cheese was a bit pungent, which went well with the vegetables, and the crust was thin and very nice. With it I tried Jupiter’s own hefeweizen beer, which was also good.

Jupiter pizza
Galileo pizza at Jupiter

While we waited for our food, Shaenon pulled out some paper and a pencil and began work on drawing episode 17 of season 5 of The X-Files (“All Souls“) for her Monster of the Week comic. She had sketches of each panel done in ballpoint pen on lined paper, and had pages ruled with panel borders and guidelines for dialogue, ready to start filling in the words and drawing the art. She paused while we ate, then drew a bit more until we left.

Shaenon took us to the Berkeley comic book store, where we browsed through the comics and graphic novels for a while. I bought a copy of Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, which Shaenon said was really good. Then we went to a cafe to sit and have a drink while we chatted some more, as she drew more of her comic. The cafe closed at 15:00, allowing us to sit for a few minutes as they cleaned up. When we left, I decided to head back into San Francisco and let her get home with Robin. We said bye at the BART station, and I descended to the platform to catch a train.

A bit later I emerged at Embarcadero and walked into the Ferry Building. I wanted to try the Secret Breakfast ice cream from Humphry Slocombe, which is bourbon ice cream with crunchy corn flakes. I’ve avoided this flavour in the past but someone recommended it, and since I’ve recently started trying whisky I decided to give it a go. It was okay, but nothing particularly special.


I’m at San Francisco Airport, waiting for boarding time, which is still an hour and a half away.

Back in San Francisco, I sat near Peet’s Coffee while I ate the ice cream, and used their WiFi to let M. know what I was up to. Then I browsed the adjacent book store for a bit, tempted by a book called Why Is That Bridge Orange?: San Francisco for the Curious. It had short stories about a lot of different places and things in San Francisco and there were copies signed by the author. But having already bought two books I resisted to avoid carrying too much luggage home.

I went outside for a few minutes to be by the water of the bay and in the fresh air, then began walking down Market Street towards Union Square. One of the market stalls near the Ferry Building was selling dog leashes made from old climbing ropes. I nearly bought one for our puppy Scully, but they were quite heavy and the guy said they weren’t really suitable for small dogs.

Monkey left his heart...
Heart at Union Square

I passed through Union Square, just to absorb a bit more of the feeling of being in San Francisco since I didn’t have much time here during the trip. Then I walked towards the computer shop where I’d left my bag. When I passed the Levi’s store on Market Street I ducked in to have a look at the sale items. I found a nice white shirt, but it was getting close to 18:00 when the computer shop closed, so I decided to get my back and then come back for it. But when I returned about ten minutes later the shirt was gone! I saw it sitting in the hands of a woman who had about a dozen items for her male companion to try on, and they headed for the change rooms. I thought about waiting to see if they came out and put it back on the rack, but I decided not to wait that long and left to catch a train to the airport.

Cable monkey
Bye bye San Francisco!

I got to the airport around 19:00, quite early. After using the toilets, I repacked my bags to make it easier to get my laptop out for security scanning, then went to check in. I asked if they had any exit row seats available, and they did, so I grabbed an aisle one and paid the upgrade fee – some of which I’ll get back as a tax deduction since this is a business trip.

It took ages to get through security, even though there were very few people going through. I reached the scanner area without waiting at all, and passed through the metal detector. But my bags were stuck in the x-ray machine for several minutes for some reason. And then they’d changed the rules since February when I was here last, and now iPads need to be taken out and scanned separately as well, and there were three people who had left iPads in their bags and triggered rescans.

Eventually I got through and walked to the far end of the terminal where I got a seat in one of the bars and ordered a penne pesto to eat, as I was hungry, and dinner on the plane would be served after midnight. The pasta was a bit soft and the sauce okay but uninspiring, not a great meal, but it filled my stomach for a bit. M. called on FaceTime after as I was sitting in the bar, and it was a bit tricky talking among the people around me.


The flight was fairly eventless. I had the beef salad option for midnight meal, then tried to snooze as much as I could, since I’d be arriving in Sydney at 06:00. I had the fruit platter for breakfast before landing in the pre-dawn light.

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