I just spent an amazing two weeks out in San Francisco. Rode at Squaw, Heavenly and Kirkwood for the two weekends that occured in the middle of my trip. Many thanks to Andy for hosting, driving and lending me his longboard for my daily commute. Also thanks to Bob and his fellow co-founders for the gig and awesome office environment. Really miss working in an office atmosphere. Met a lot of great people and I just straight up love NorCal! Sad that I'm back in NY already and will be missing Bruizzapalooza.

Some things I noticed: Andy and his buddies like using acronyms when they talk, you know like the ones we use on GTalk / AIM, they actually use it in real life which surprised me at first but I got used to it. Andy and his roommates are also really open about lending out their cars. I lost count of the number of times they asked me if I wanted to just borrow their respective cars to cruise around SF and Palo Alto. CRAZY isn't it? I don't think you'll ever get offers like that on the East Coast. I told them that whatever they do, never to lend Zan their cars if he visits.

The commute every morning to the SoMA area was really nice. You'll see some photos on the left that I took, it couldn't have been more than 15 min. on Andy's longboard and the weather held up the entire time I was out there. Bob's crew also tagged up many parts of SF with their 750i stickers so keep your eyes peeled next time you are out there.

Snowboarding and Sierra
That first weekend we hit up Squaw and got a pretty awesome slopeside condo, Kimchi from the Sierra forums also joined us. The second weekend was spent at Heavenly and Kirkwood. We hit up Sierra's physical store on the way up to and back from Squaw and hung around for quite a while both times. Everyone in our crew picked up some gear (I picked up another pair of Sessions pants since the new pair I got was slim fit and not to my liking). Andy and Agnes both picked up pants as well, think Agnes got a jacket too. Dave who was sorta new to the sport picked up an entire setup and on the way back Andy picked up a Stairmaster. Sierra's Donald also hooked me up with a few diecuts which I have plastered on my Stairmaster and Darkstar. Finally, after so many years I got to see the store in person, but a little peeved that I didn't plan my trip better, should've stayed an extra weekend to hit up Bruizzapalooza. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Exploring San Francisco
Aside from the weekends, I took two days off to check out SF and Palo Alto. My day in San Francisco started like most others. I took the same route to the office so I could swing by the small street sculpture area a block away. From there I longboarded to the Golden Gate Park on the other side of San Francisco, all in all, it was about 5.5 miles of some slightly hilly roads. It's amazing the abrupt changes between neighborhoods. I saw some amazing graffiti on Turk Street right off of Market (check the photos on the left) and had a pretty good time dog watching in Alamo Park.

When I finally reached Golden Gate Park, it started raining on me so after vieweing the roof garden on the Academy of Science Building I hopped on the bus for Chinatown. Was in no mood to make the 5.5 mile return trip by longboard in the rain. Without exact change I ended up going through two nice individuals to get change but in the end some nice lady was kind enough to give me her transfer ticket which gave me free rides on the bus for the rest of the day. In Chinatown I went to Andy / Jon's favorite bakery, the Golden Gate Bakery, to pick up dan tats then went to Yee's Restaurant up the block to try out the food. The rest of the evening was spent at the Borders in Andy's neighborhood catching up on some magazines.

The morning before my last day of work I got into the area early and went around the corner to check out the SoftSpot exhibition. It pretty much consisted of a lot of communication design pieces attempting to convey how design can help society. Not sure if a physical exhibition was warranted but I was happy to make the stroll through the gallery space.

Exploring Facebook and Palo Alto
Facebook's offices are pretty standard, rows and rows of computer terminals, each employee gets a pretty sweet setup though. Their offices weren't crazy like the Pixar ones but I hear the marketing offices are much more posh. Also got to see Mark Zuckerberg's desk which was really pedestrian, he doesn't even have an office =T. Gotta give props to a leader like that. Cafeteria wasn't bad, stuffed myself...

That evening after having dinner at The Counter with Amy, Will, Paul and Andy we dropped by The Old Pro. Since it was St. Patty's day the bar was packed and charged cover which I wasn't happy about since I don't drink anyway. But Andy and Frank weren't taking no for an answer regarding the bull. Apparently every visitor needs to have a go at the bull so Paul and I rode the bull and ended up with bare knuckles on our respective index fingers. The gloves they lent us had holes at that spot so they weren't of much help. Definitely a lot harder than I imagined. later on in the night some cocky guy got on there and whipped out his phone while riding the bull. It was the most amazing feat of the night... he rode the bull longer than anyone else and with no hands!

Stanford's d.school
Stanford was really interesting. The campus was huge but I didn't get to sit in on any classes since everyone was in the middle of exams. Before the campus tour I stopped by the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery to check out their Design in Balance exhibition which they were still in the process of installing. My favorite piece from the show is photographed on the left, the Trouble with Modernism Teapot.

With no classes to sit in on, I dropped by the d.school space on a whim and was inspired by the people and their facilities. Their Director of Community, Charlotte, was working when I went up to Erika at the front desk and overheard me requesting permission to check out the facilities. Erika was extremely friendly telling me to snoop around and take all the photos I wanted, etc.

Charlotte and I struck up a conversation and upon learning that I was also from Carnegie Mellon took me to see David Kelley, fellow Carnegie Mellon alumni and founder of both the d.school and IDEO. I told David that I was pretty lost, interested in everything and having a hard time focusing on one thing, his response? "Join the club." That was great and sympathetic to my issue, but then he explained that companies want people with breadth which the d.school provides but they also require people with specialized skills, basically going deep into one specialty which I haven't been able to do.

Their building housed a resource-filled prototyping room at the far end. I wish I had a room like it in my condo, Charlotte told me there's another facility in the engineering building with even more resources. Laser cutters, CNC milling machines, etc. It's like having their very own Ponoko! As I left, Charlotte told me to go see Bill Burnett, Executive Director of the Product Design Program which I was looking forward to. Before I start taking classes to meet the basic requirements for admission consideration I assume I should have a chat with Bill. Unfortunately he wasn't in when I paid a visit so it looks like email will have to do.

The West Coast rocks in so many ways! A few more photos available on my Flickr.