Experiencing Technical Difficulties (resonant) wrote,
Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Photos from my trip to San Francisco - Day 1, Part 1

Tidy newspaper box Tidy newspaper box In Toronto, every vertical post has multiple newspaper vending machine boxes chained to them. In San Francisco, they have a single neat array of them. They're on posts, making it easy to sweep underneath. We should have them up here, as it would be so much easier to shovel snow from around a single compact unit.
Tall pointy building Tall pointy building We studied this earthquake-resistant building in school. It looks elegant from afar (although sadly drab and run-down up close). The hostel I stayed at my first night wasn't too far from here, so I used it as a landmark for navigating back whenever I got lost.
Solar charging station Solar charging station A neat idea! Solar panels charge up batteries in a recycled gasoline pump; you can sit on the stools and charge your electronics while visiting this community farm. For some reason, the farm was walled away behind a barbed-wire-topped fence, unlike the community allotments in Toronto. Odd, because vegetables are so cheap in San Francisco compared to back home, you wouldn't think they'd worry about people taking them.
Street elevator Street elevator An excellent idea! The sidewalks in front of stores and restaurants have elevators. Delivery trucks can load items directly into the basement storerooms, without having to drag boxes through the front doors.
Pacific Tradewinds Hostel Pacific Tradewinds Hostel The Pacific Tradewinds hostel is basically a tiny apartment with bunkbeds crammed into it. Sixteen bunkbeds fill two bedrooms. There's a nice windowless kitchen, and a dimly-lit windowless common area with tables. Clean and comfortable enough, especially if you're only going to return to the hostel to sleep. The main drawback is that there is only a single bathroom with a single toilet for everyone to share. After doing the pee-pee dance while standing in line the first morning, I switched to a more expensive hostel where I only shared a bathroom with three others.
Pacific Tradewinds Hostel Pacific Tradewinds Hostel This is the entrance to an inexpensive, highly-rated hostel. I later learned that the hostel was actually a tiny two-bedroom apartment up five flights of stairs.
Street sculpture Street sculpture In Toronto, inviting curbs like this have ugly metal brackets bolted to them to discourage skateboarders from grinding. In San Francisco, they give the skateboarder-repellent a bit of style. At the waterfront, the edges are decorated with squid, turtles, and starfish.
Mechanic Sculpture Mechanic Sculpture This sculpture is dedicated to the mechanics of San Francisco, and to their shapely butts.
Earthquake Locker Earthquake Locker I saw these emergency lockers in various places. All of them were heavily padlocked, which seems to reduce their utility. The emergency lockers at work have a flimsy plastic seal on them; it's only there to show that the cabinet has been opened and needs to be restocked and reinspected.
Electric bus with dual commutators Electric bus with dual commutators In Toronto, we have electric streetcars. They have steel wheels on steel rails, which acts as a ground connection; they only have a single pole leading to a single power wire. In San Francisco, some streets have electric buses. As they can't use the wheels for the ground connection, they need two overhead wires and two commutator poles. It's quite impressive how the poles swivel to track the wires as the buses weave in and out of traffic. They must have some sort of motorized tracking module to keep them in contact.
Free public toilets Free public toilets This is an excellent idea. These large, wheelchair-accessible booths contain a free washroom. It's theoretically fully automated and self-cleaning. The door is motorized and slides open for easy access. The toilet flushes automatically when it thinks you're done (although the sensor is a little overly eager). It even dispenses a measured length of toilet paper (although it's the length and glossiness of a credit card receipt). The sink dispenses a splurt of soap and a splash of hot water when you approach (not always before you put your hands underneath it). The door then automatically opens when your time is up (not always before you've adjusted your clothing), and washes the floor and lower walls with a jet of water (not always before you've left the cubicle). Regardless of a few minor bugs that can be fixed with a little adjustment, this is an amazing idea. I wish that all cities adopted this excellent concept.
Community farm Community farm Some land is used by local residents for growing vegetables in small plots. A nice oasis of green in the city, although the barbed-wire fencing is a bit odd.
Cargo bike Cargo bike Some couriers beat traffic by carrying cargo on oversized bikes such as this. Excellent green idea! I want one of these!
Cable car Cable car This streetcar has a clamp that fits into a narrow slot in the road. At the base of the slot is a moving cable. By closing the clamp, the streetcar is pulled forward. I peered into the slot, but was unable to see how they kept down the friction force on the moving cable. At each end of the track, the streetcar uncouples from the cable, rolls onto a human-powered turntable, and is rotated onto the track going in the opposite direction. You'd think it would be easier to just have an oversized pulley with a vertical axis, and have the car follow a curved path back around. Perhaps the designers were worried about space constraints, but the turntable area I saw was barely smaller than the required radius.

Tags: san francisco
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