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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Saturday, June 5

Cold Turkey By Kurt Vonnegut

I find it amazing, refreshing and alarming all the same that Vonnegut continues his hyperbolic rampage of making sense of the world and putting things in such blithe, ironic and terrible words. Hail to the chief, indeed.

Navigating a new city; or when public transportation succeeds

Today I ventured for the first time out on my own into the city, in seek of a proper coffee shop. Using 511.org's excellent Trip Planner, I was able to plan my route, boarding first the 38 on Geary and then the 23 which took me into the heart of the Mission District.

After I'd logged my five hours of sedentary work and after I'd polished off two large 1/2 and 1/2 coffees, plotting and executing the return trip left me no worse for wear again using the Trip Planner. I simply boarded the 23 at Protrero and 20th and stayed on until Turk and Arguello... Practically door to door service! And the return trip brought me to such great heights both literally and figuratively that the 45-minute ride was something of a welcome rest, rather than a boring or tedious excursion.

It's nice to know that all the credit that I gave to BART in choosing to come out here seems to be panning out... and reaffirming my gross suspicions that Pittsburgh's transit system is not only in need of a major overhaul but is actually bringing the city down with it.

Wednesday, June 2

Having arrived at my new home only two days ago, already I feel the skin from old life sloughing off, like the smog and silt and dust from the previous industrial decades washed off the trees and houses and hills of Pittsburgh. I will be indelibly marked by my time spent there, my time living in Oakland, Squirrel Hill and Highland Park. Surely some of the best and most difficult years of my life unfurled there in the green grass of the spring and the gray slush of winter.

I admit, Pittsburgh and San Francisco are practically on polar opposites ends of the earth, both culturally and physically. Though where I grew up instilled in me a much more North Easterly heritage than Pittsburgh's mid-western presence could ever strive for, nevertheless, Pittsburgh is by lengths a much more Eastern place than Western. And being in one of the most Western cities confirms this.

There's a difference attitude here, present not only in the mild people, but also in the weather. So far I've experienced only sun and mild, high 60's temperatures. In Pittsburgh prior to leaving, we had some of the most beautiful and some of the most brutal weather! And, in typical fashion, Pittsburgh sent me off with a gray morning, seemingly resentful and at the same time content to see me go, like a mother watching her first born go off to college. There's a certain pride in the distance and in seeing someone who you knew would someday depart, finally take their leave.

Well I am now a son of Pittsburgh, just as much as I am the son of the Live Free or Die state. What I gained and what I gave up living in Pittsburgh is now mine in totality as I move forward and establish myself anew on a foreign shore. Lest I be too mellow dramatic, I do understand the relativity of my move compared with others, who, for example, choose to travel to entirely new continents as part of their pilgrimage. But in traveling within the country in which I was born I have the opportunity to bear witness the stark similarities and subtle differences between the two. If I were venturing off to Africa or Asia or Russia surely it would be easier for me to spot the similarities and distinctions between our cultures on a wider scale than by sticking to familiar soil and having to scrutinize the land for those subtle gems of distinction.

All the same, I have come and am now here, in the city of San Francisco.