July 16, 2009

Down by the Bay Pt. 2

The house we stayed at with my dad's old friend was just a hop, skip, jump, and a few very sharp turns from the train station, in the Berkeley hills. I never though I'd see buildings on such steep inclines, nor with such twisted roads going around and about them. Right near Berkeley was Pixar Animation Studios, where one of our friends works and was kind enough to give us a tour. Their campus could be a college, with everything from a food court to lecture halls and art studios. The amount of work that goes into making one of these movies was readily apparent. Each movie starts as a series of black and white sketches, and progresses across various easels and whiteboards, onto clay models, through a multitude of computers, not to mention going in and out of the brains of everyone from painters to software engineers long before you even see the trailer on YouTube. I gained quite an appreciation for what Pixar does, and really how well it gets done.
The very next day (if I remember correctly) my dad and I took the subway-metro-train thingy to the amazingly amazing city of San Fransisco. What a day it was! As soon as we got out of the station, what did I get to see? Sutter street!! The greatest street in America!! I was so psyched that we just had to take a bunch of photos of me whenever we got to a Sutter Street sign. I took many pictures that day, Chinatown was such a scene, but really there was something happening anywhere where anything happened to be. And since wherever something happened to be there was something happening, I happened to be in many places where many pictures could be taken, which happened to make me very happy. But I was baffled by the dramatic changes in altitude that took place from one end of a street to the other. It was like one minute we were riding donkeys into death valley, and the next we were on an expedition with Sir Edmond Hillary! Northwest PA is a bit hilly, but San Francisco is mountainous. I pity the fool (or tourist) who unknowingly drives into that city without knowing what is waiting for them.
But lets talk about Berkeley for just one more second. Visiting the campus was quite exciting. There are many great old buildings, each with its own odd personality. I got a feeling that things were happening, even in the middle of summer, still many people milling about. We couldn't help but thoroughly enjoy a jaunt down Telegraph Avenue, still a mecca for counterculture and weirdness after all these years (though maybe not quite as much now). We investigated classic locations such as the Cafe Mediterraneum, claiming to be the birthplace of today's cafe latte. Personally I was a huge fan of Amoeba Records, with an out-of-this-world music collection ranging from shred metal to big band, and reasonable prices throughout. All these kinds of things served as more than enough to boggle the mind of an easterner such as myself, and I'll quickly admit to the unparalleled levels of awesome that can be found down by the Bay.

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