Last week was another visit to San Rafael. I went through San Francisco airport this time, hoping it'd be easier for Hitomi to make it into town by BART (transit), compared to Oakland. And this time I went with the car rental company Enterprise, though will not do that again, as I ended up with a car that was heavily scented to cover up cigarette smell. The masking scent made me drive with the windows down, despite the rain outside.
San Rafael stayed rainy the entire week. Either it was rainy or the roads were wet enough to keep me off of them. I had my bicycle set up and inside the hotel room the entire week and I was unable to use it.
In terms of development, I figured out a whole lot of stuff with Maven and Hibernate, so I was a happy developer. JBoss Cache, which we use with Hibernate, had some weird internal stuff which I attempted to rectify. I came up with a high-level change-tracking data structure. It took a few attempts to integrate it, though I did not commit it, since there are several test cases that come with JBoss Cache which intentionally fail, so it's difficult to determine if my changes have caused any regressions
People, on the whole, treated me fairly well. I'm sort of the "innovator" for the next project, and I hope to not get too carried away and get shut down.
Friday night, Hitomi came in fairly late. I walked around San Francisco waiting for her to arrive, scouting out various shops and restaurants in the vicinity. I was walking through a neighborhood reminiscent of Bell Town complete with the drunken mayhem and smokers chatting on sidewalks outside of bars. Hitomi eventually arrived after 10PM, and I was ready for bed.
Waking up hungry put aside plans for a bike ride through town, though it was the first nice day since I came. Hitomi and I headed to the North End district, where she last had coffee — Italian style? — in a bowl. Then, we headed off to the Cartoon Art Museum in the Financial district, where their current exhibit was basically a collection of international political cartoons illustrating (literally) the worldwide contempt for George Bush and his cronies. In the Golden Age section were original newspaper strips, often signed by the original artist and addressed to the owner of the strip, e.g. "To Joe Smith", along with some comic book pages and other memorabilia. Absent were Japanese comics, though there were a number of Asian-American artists. I'm surprised, though, in a town with Viz Media, probably the largest importer of manga, there would be none of it.
Hitomi and I were treated by Boon and his girlfriend for lunch at the dim-sum restaurant, Yank Sing, where the final bill for four was $120, where ordinarily such a meal would be $30. Obviously, it was a step up from the usual, but we didn't even order drinks. We discussed the possibility of moving to San Francisco, but I wouldn't move for the weather: I don't hate Seattle's weather, and I don't mind it usually.
We walked back to the hotel, stopping at the ferry terminal for omiyage, walking along the waterfront back to Fishermen's Wharf. I hadn't noticed the sea lions at Pier 39 before, perhaps because of the season, but there were hundreds of them socializing and bouncing on the floating docks. I hadn't seen so many since last summer in Oregon.
The evening we had plans to visit Hidehiro and his wife and baby in the South Bay. Hidehiro was a staff member at Sakura-con and had moved to the Bay Area to work as an intern at Viz Media, in their legal department. His daughter, about three, has been subjected to Japanese idol music, to encourage her to develop into an idol herself, and apparently knows the words to many such songs. We had dinner and rice, and oddly no rice, chatted (in Japanese) about this and that. Hidehiro's wife, not too much into anime herself, wasn't part of much of the discussion. She did mention how afraid people were of losing their children at day care to kidnappers and some other interesting stories about kids in the area.
It was an interesting thought, that Hitomi just picked up on, to have children just so you have an opportunity to relieve, vicariously and directly, things from your childhood, such as holidays, play time, and kids shows. Still, there are many things Hitomi still wants to do before children, and so the years continue to go by. (For example: Mr. Nomoto, who stayed a few years ago in our old house, is planning another kayaking trip on the West Coast, this time someplace in the Queen Charlotte Islands as a private tour we were invited to attend.)
Sunday we had a bagel breakfast, followed by lunch with a fellow who staffed some of the first anime conventions in the Bay Area, Kent. Hitomi and I met Kent at Anime Expo, who happened to be a long time fan of Momoi Halko, and attending the same concert with us. He happens to know many people the game industry, but somehow has found himself at a small company making $12 an hour, which in the Bay Area is effectively poverty wages. We talked for about three hours about game companies, anime conventions, fandom, etc. He really wants to go to Halko's 30th birthday event in Tokyo, but his evil boss won't give him the time off. Again, the thought occurred, why not quit and find a better job through any of his well-connected friends?
Before the flight back, we went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. My favorite (and Hitomi's) exhibit was of this Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, who builds interesting installations of glass, steel, mirrors, lights, water, and ice. The exhibition artifacts resembled a cross between carnival Funhouse ideas, Buckminster Fuller geometric design, and somewhat the installation style of Yayoi Kusama, though with a sterile, geometric aesthetic sensibility.
The flight back we took separate planes, finally getting home and to bed around 1AM.