Garrett (garote) wrote,

A Return to San Francisco

My last trip took me up the western fringe of the city, so I decided to go up the eastern fringe this time.

Google maps is amazing. But Google Earth is even more amazing. A huge chunk of SF has been modeled in 3D, to match the textured contours of the geography. It must have taken a lot of work.

If you place the viewing camera in the right spots, you can see all the artificial bends and curves in the building textures line up. When that happens, you're looking at the textures from where the surveyors took their high-resolution photographs. By noting the exact location and angle of the photograph, programmers used a kind of reverse-raytracing process to map the textures visible in the photograph onto the sides of the 3D models in Google Earth.

Lots of complicated math going on here!

The new bike bags, purchased from a German company called Ortleib, are much roomier than my old ones, and they stay attached to the new rack much more securely.

In these two bags I have:
  • My USB battery pack
  • A bike pump
  • Some hex wrenches
  • A spare tube
  • Tire levers (for removing a tire easily to replace a tube)
  • A pocketknife
  • Zip-ties
  • Spare bolts
  • A wallet
  • Ski pants
  • Ski gloves
  • A towel
  • A laptop
  • A camera
  • A USB card reader
  • 3 little bags of chips
  • A tupperware of vegan pizza
  • Chocolate soymilk
  • A large sweater
...And still a fair amount of room.

A test ride around the parking lot. Looking at this, the first thing I notice is all the dark clothing. Shouldn't cyclists wear lots of neon and corporate logos to catch the eye? I don't know, really... As a driver, most of the time when I notice cyclists it's because they're moving. Sure they've got bright clothing, but outside, everything's bright. And when I notice cyclists at night, it's not because they're wearing a neon shirt, it's because they're generating light, and have highly reflective patches that stand out like highway markers. So, I don't know... Does the bright clothing really make a difference??

Also, the helmet: I've always figured that a white helmet is better for cyclists because they're usually interested in keeping their head cool, and white would reflect more sun. But some geek on the internet performed an experiment with a bunch of plastic heads, sun lamps, and temperature sensors, and found that the difference between the increase-over-time in temperatures was so slight that it didn't even make it out of the "statistical error" bars for his measuring instruments. Truly you can find anything on the internet.

Still, next helmet I buy is gonna be a white one, because I like white. :)

Okay, less talking, more pictures.

Just after taking this picture, I saw a crowd of young cyclists coast into the lot and swirl around for a while. One of them was a slim, freckly redheaded girl in a green t-shirt. One of them was a suave looking guy with a dark coat and black hair, who looked a lot like the actor Billy Crudup. One of them was a tall fellow in a red felt windbreaker, with red crocs (bulky plastic shoes) and a red bicycle frame. (All color coordinated!) I put my camera away and started riding along behind and within their group, doing what they did. They moved in and out of traffic, and on and off sidewalks, with practiced ease. It was quite thrilling. Made me wish I had a video camera.

I'd love to do it again but I'd be way too scared to try it alone.

The guy who tricked out this bike was standing nearby taking photos of it. He said this was his second piece. His first one had, among all the other chrome doodads, a chrome frame. "That must have been beautiful!" I said. "Yeah, but it took FOUR HOURS to clean after a ride," he said.

One swimmer, all alone, out there in the bay. In the distance you can see the deck of the Golden Gate.

There's a reason all these pictures are scaled down so far. They're incredibly grainy. Almost all the pictures I take today, with this six-year-old camera, are grainy. Every time I zoom in on these with Aperture I get depressed because I could have made beautiful prints out of some of these, but they are just destroyed. I shoot in "raw" mode and apply judicious noise and color correction and they still look like sand-sculpted mandala paintings afterwards. :(

I really need a new camera, but the one I want is over a thousand dollars. I need to face facts and acknowledge that I'm just a gearhead who is almost never satisfied. At least I have a camera!!

I actually turned down the yellow in this photo, if you can believe that.

The Palace of Fine Arts. Home to the Exploratorium. I haven't been inside in almost 20 years. Time to go back and check it out, I think.

The route I took around the palace. The entrance I used didn't have any signs warning away cyclists. I noticed plenty of them on the way out though. Sorry people. :D

As I rode along the back I passed by an open area next to one of the exit doors and saw a crowd of 20 or 30 teenagers practicing a hip-hop dance routine. A car pulled up, and one of the kids yelled, "hey, what's up with that car? Oh wait, that's my Mom! She brought us lunch, guys!"

Someone very precisely stacked rocks near the shore at the base of the Golden Gate. I have no idea how they did it, but it made for a groovy photo with the skyscrapers in the rear.

Another nice shot almost turned to garbage by the digital grain.

I went about halfway out on the bridge, then decided to turn back so it would be easier to meet up with The La. Perhaps some other day I'll explore Marin like I planned.

Still so many things to see in this beautiful city... One could spend a year scrutinizing just a few city blocks and never run out of history, people, culture... It is absolutely overwhelming.

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