July 2013

On the streets of San Francisco. I mean, the city.

It turns out that San Francisco locals only ever call it ‘San Francisco’ or ‘the city’. So visitors stand out a mile when they call it San Fran or (brace yourself) Frisco.

After breakfast, I strolled around ‘the city’ a bit more, partly to burn off some of the Belgian calories, but mostly because it took a while for a cab to come past:

And this one’s just here to smile at a store that’s trying so hard not to be like Apple … that it’s just like Apple:

I spy with my little eye … in San Fran

The line in front of me at a local bakery this morning …

… and the line behind me! It took 30 minutes to get in. Worth it in the end!

Inside the door, finally!

At last, the pastries are within reach 🙂

And way across town, tasty salted pig parts. Proudly available at a local market near you:

I think these guys might actually sell cheese:

No time for diets:

Speaking of diets, if you do have to be on one, this little guy will let out a screaming MOO every time you unclip that bag of cookies or chips:

Always dreamed of owning your own mushroom mini-farm? Step right up:

Look everyone, it’s the 1920s again, and it’s awesome:

Drop it like it’s (a) hot (dog):

Chocolate … with a bit of fruit on the side:

Jump as high as you like:

Houdini. Insert a note and watch your money escape from your wallet:

Never let it be said that the world hasn’t catered for you:

So that’s where they go when Seal Island is full:

Pulling out of San Francisco harbour on my private yacht:

Both sides of Golden Gate Bridge:

The Rock – left, right and centre:

I’ve heard of a duplex, but a triplex? Apparently, they actually exist:

A different kind of street sign:

This isn’t just an antique, although it’s obviously old. It’s there to be used if needs be:

It’s surprising when you’re surprised that some societies do care:

They need a school for this?

So that’s what the tram lines are for:

Like prices, the roads are steep!

Gives a new meaning to your car having a flat:

You know you’re at the right hotel when …

1. There’s a permanent Starbucks in the lobby

2. Macaroni and cheese is on the room service menu

3. The very same menu features ‘Cookies and Milk’ as a dessert

4. It’s down the road from this:

5. Which is found in a centre filled with spiral escalators!

My first millimeter wave scanner experience was … ok

When I saw the machine at the security checkpoint this morning, I cringed. I saw passengers in the line ahead of me going in one by one before standing with their arms above their heads, and I immediately thought of the revealing images we all heard about when the technology was discussed a few years ago.

When it came to my turn, I stepped into the booth, assumed the scarecrow position, and went through this process:


Five seconds later and it was all over. I was ok to proceed. And the experience itself wasn’t that bad really. Though it was made a lot more comfortable when I got to the other side and saw that the images being seen by airport security staff were a lot less detailed than the pics everyone was hoo-haa-ing about online a while back.

It turns out that the machine I went through was a millimeter wave scanner, the second generation of scanners used in US airports. The first rollout of scanners were in fact the full body x-ray machines; the science fiction nightmare contraptions that reveal everything under your clothes to the person behind the screen.

The differences in the detail produced by each of the technologies are instantly apparent:

So it’s hardly surprising that the TSA ditched the x-ray machines after just three years. Lucky me!

Musings during a layover in Atlanta

While wondering around Atlanta airport, waiting to board the flight to San Fran, I:

1. Grabbed a real rare roast beef sandwich at Boar’s Head:


2. Heard someone actually say (in real life): “Ain’t nobody got time for that” in a normal conversation (Southern drawl included).

3. Spotted M&Ms headphones. The shape’s perfect for their product. Why didn’t they do this ages ago?


4. Discovered that the USA loves the royal family a little too much for a country that fought for independence from the UK:


5. Enjoyed another example of how things in first world countries are connected wherever, whenever. The Delta airlines app pushes notifications to me with live delays and gate changes: