Thursday, November 15, 2012

Let's try this again.

      Hrm.... So I started this entry at the beginning of my summer. I then began working 60+ hours a week. So it got cut short. But I figure I can post it anyway, since apparently people keep asking for me to start my blog again. So here. I'm starting my blog again. Maybe I'll start regular postings again. But seeing as grad school is pretty uninteresting at the moment, you'll have to deal with an incomplete story from 5 months ago. Enjoy.

     So last summer was a bit of flop. I wasn't particularly excited about my job, I was homeless for the first half of the summer, lived with a lady in a cult for the second half, and had a car that exploded about once a week (I wish I was exaggerating). I also lived in the South Bay of the San Francisco area, which, if you're unaware, blows. That said, San Francisco seemed like a cool place, and my luck and poor judgement were mostly to blame for my questionable experiences. So I figured I'd give it another shot.

     Now I'm out here again, and this time, I have a much more rewarding job (at least it seems like that'll be the case), an apartment in San Francisco with people I know (which was arranged ahead of getting out here), a consistent and reliable way to get to work (the company owned commuter shuttle with free wifi on which this post was started), and an overall better idea of what I'm doing. Now that everything is obviously "perfect", I figured I might have time to start this blog again.

     My trip to California this year started of about as hectically as my trip last year. I frantically packed up my computer and my bike to ship them, and rented a Uhaul van to bring them to the UPS store, much like last year. This time, I found Pat, convinced him he wanted to use a Uhaul to move his stuff to Bexley, and dragged him along. Right before heading off to ship boxes of stuff, it occurred to me that I didn't have our address in San Francisco. Nor did I have the phone number of either of my roommates. East Campus was pretty empty, but I was fortunate enough to run into a hallmate of Fuzzy's. They gave him a call and I got the shipping address, but no zip code. I figured I would make do and drove over the river to the Charles Street UPS store. Pat and I quickly unloaded the Uhaul after questionably parking it on the street, and I informed the clerk that I was in a rush to catch a flight. She assured me that we would make the process as quick as possible, and proceeded to glare at me when I didn't have my zip code. After wrapping up the shipping, I asked the clerk if she could find the phone number for a cab company (I swear I used to have one saved in my phone..). She obliged, and I called a cab. However, time was running out, and the second I hung up the phone, another cab drove by, so I promptly jumped in front of it to wave it down. Pat and I threw my two 50 lb suitcases and additional carry-ons into the back of the cab, and off I went, leaving Pat with the job of returning the Uhaul.

     The cab driver and I sat in silence for about half a block. I'm pretty sure I started the conversation with some quip about how hectic my day was. He was a slender Greek man in his mid-to-late fifties, and he was about to call it a day. He continued the small talk by asking me where I went to school. I told him MIT and he excitedly asked what I studied. "Mechanical engineering," I told him. He enthusiastically responded, "O! I ask all the right questions! I know a professor in mechanical engineering at MIT. Professor Heywood. Do you know him by any chance?"

     Of course I know who Heywood is. I just took the class he used to teach on internal combustion engines, which still uses the textbook he wrote. I had interacted with him a number of times my freshman year, while working on the electric vehicle team. The man literally wrote the book on engines. I was a bit shocked to hear that this guy knew Heywood. The cab driver went on to tell me about his bizarre car problems, and asked me whether I thought Heywood would be able to explain them. He also insisted on giving me his reasonably uneducated guesses as to what was going on. Apparently he found that automatic cars in America roll up hill when in neutral, whereas they roll downhill in Europe; and this was consistently the trend, across all cars he's driven. I'm not entirely sure how that's possible, and his explanation of valves not opening fast enough and fuel not going into the engine didn't really make sense either. I'm still unsure how sane this guy was. Still, he insisted that he knew Heywood.

"I've never had him in a cab before, but I've called him to ask questions about my car before. He always seems to busy to really answer them."

Ah. So you really just found his number online or something and have been phone stalking him. Great. Well, the conversation repeated itself three or four times before we got to the airport (which was mildly frustrating, seeing as I still didn't understand his problems the fourth time around), and we got to the terminal. It was forty minutes before my flight was to take off, and it was also a Sunday afternoon. As expected, the security checkpoint had a very long line. After a nerve-wracking wait, I finally made it through security, eight minutes before my flight was to depart. I was literally the third to last person on the plane, which had already boarded. But I made it, and unlike last year, my flight was completely paid for by the company. This meant I was on Jetblue and could comfortably sleep, so I did just that.

     I landed at SFO, grabbed my bags, and then attempted to find my way to our apartment in the city. BART was an option, as our place is only a ten minute walk from the Glen Park station, but I didn't feel like hauling 150 lbs of stuff that far. Jason was busy, and Kevin was floating down a river somewhere, so my usual go-to ride options were unavailable. I decided to take a cab, worried about how pricey it was going to be. Turns out cabs in San Francisco have lower rates, because everything is further apart, so it wasn't too bad. Plus, I apparently can get reimbursed by work for cabs (Five months later, the receipt is long gone, and the cab never got expensed. Hurrrrr). The Prius cabby (of course this is pretty much the only option in California) was just large enough for my bags, and we set off. The Ukrainian man and I talked about the weather and driving a bit after I had to enter my address in his GPS: turns out our apartment is in the part of the city that nobody cares about. Still, I arrived and was pleasantly greeted by Fuzzy and Mason. Our apartment is extraordinarily classy, especially compared to my South Bay apartment from last summer. Three bedrooms, two two-thirds bathrooms (one toilet and sink bathroom, one shower and sink bathroom o.O), full kitchen (sans microwave), living room with entertainment system and pet lobster, and classy dining room with a functional (albeit unnecessary) fireplace.

     So, seeing how classy everything seemed, we obviously had to go to In-N-Out immediately. We hopped on the BART and headed south to Daly City. On the way, we noticed a Krispy Kreme sign. We quickly began to speculate whether Krispy Kreme might be near the In-N-Out; obviously, our speculation was 100% correct, and the Krispy Kreme and the In-N-Out are in the same parking lot. After getting mildly lost on the walk from the BART station, we arrived, filled ourselves with burgers and donuts, like any self-respecting American would. We then trekked home, and I began investigating the supposed shuttles to work.

     Turns out that you need to have an employee badge in order to ride the shuttle. So, at 1:30 am, I began trying to figure out how to get to work by 7:30 am. I knew I was about a 45 minute drive north of the office, but I looked into public transit, since I had literally just flown cross country and did not have a car. Google suggested these options. As you can see, that was not entirely viable. So, considering that the four extra hours I would save by driving were worth more than renting a car for the day, I decided to go with that. California is silly.

     The next morning, I wandered out with a vague idea of where I was going to pick up my Zipcar (as many of you know, until I got my current car, I might well have been Zipcar's #1 customer). I had quickly dropped the address into Google and committed the map to memory (ironically, no smart phone). Turns out that Google had interpreted the address incorrectly and given me garbage, and after spending an extra 45 minutes or so looking for the car, I finally found it about a mile east of where I thought it was going to be. It didn't matter much though, because traffic wasn't terrible on the way to work, and I showed up only 30 minutes late on my first day. And that too, did not matter, because there were about 150 new employees (might've been 300, I don't remember. It was a lot), and they didn't have time to give us all badges until later in the day anyway. So the minor hiccup wound up being pretty insubstantial. Overall, this summer was looking promising.

     Five months later, I'd say I was pretty satisfied, and there were very few giant fuck ups. Maybe I'll rehash some more adventures at a later date. Or maybe my life will get interesting and I'll have something more recent to write about.

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