Monday, September 21, 2015

Summer vacation, Day 1

A few days before we left, Frank dropped his phone in the pool. So we stuck it in a bag of rice for 48 hours, with some improvement. Since we were heading out for our trip soon, we didn’t have time to take it in to the store.

Fortunately, it only had 2 issues. Unfortunately, they were:

1. A tendency for Siri to randomly answer questions she’d overheard, even though no one had asked her, the home button hadn't been pressed, and the "lift and talk" feature was off.

2. It would randomly play snippets of Weird Al’s song “Amish Paradise” for no obvious reason.

We started our trip in San Francisco this year. I haven't been there in many years, and my kids have never been there at all. So we figured we'd fly in and see the city and visit with family for a bit.

When I was younger the pictures on the flight attendant buttons were a generic female shape in a skirt. But with the profession now having a share of men in it, they've gone to this. Which to me looks like the international symbol for "I accidentally amputated my hand."

Landing in San Francisco you see signs that you don't see back in Grumpyville:

At first I thought it was odd, but then realized that if anything can prepare you for spending 4-5 hours twisted into a cramped, uncomfortable, position in an economy-class plane seat, it's yoga. Or an iron maiden. Or both.

There was also this:

Craig said "people are animals, so I'll pee over there." We stopped him.

We got to our hotel, which was within walking distance of Fisherman's Wharf. Yes, I know the Wharf is a huge tourist trap. But, we're tourists, so we're going to do that kind of crap.

One of my favorite attractions near the wharf is the Musée Mécanique. This is a remarkable collection of 19th and early 20th century mechanical amusement machines, the forerunners to pinball machines and (later) the videogames. You'd drop a coin into one, usually to see some sort of brief show by automated figures. Some had interactive features, such as boxing or hitting a ball. The place is free, but the gadgets require quarters. The entertainment value is awesome.

The most horrifying thing is located by the front entrance. It's an automaton called "Laffing Sal" which towers over you at over 2 meters high. It's a hideous mechanical woman who, when you put in a coin, cackles hysterically. It is not a good laugh. It is a watch-small-children-run-in-terror laugh.

What's really fun to see are the things that were considered amusements back then. People complain about video games today having sex, violence, drug use, and alcohol, right? Do they really believe this is a modern phenomenon? Let's look at some games from well over a century ago:

There was also this one, with instrument playing monkeys:

As we were leaving, Some little girl asked her mother if they could go get ice cream. Frank's phone immediately said "I show 14 ice cream stores within 2 miles of here."

She began screaming and hid behind her Mom. You'd have thought she'd put a quarter in Laffing Sal.

Heading back to our hotel for the night, the kids began yelling the air conditioner was broken and we'd freeze to death during the night. It wasn't, just Celsius.

"This is 'Murica, man."

And that's the way it is.


Anonymous said...

21.5°C is actually a tad high for sleeping. 18° is usually the recommended temperature.

Moose said...

Still a bit chilly. 22.2 is the norm, isn't it? I'm sure Siri can tell you.

And remember when they taught us the metric system in school, because the country was going to finally switch and be like the rest of the world?


Anonymous said...

I just started genuinely, hysterically laughing at Siri telling the kid where the ice cream shops were. Good thing I'm alone at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Ask Siri, "What is zero divided by zero" and see what she tells you?

How did he ever make the trip w/out a fully functioning cell phone? Hope Frank's phone is back up & running?

Have a great week as free from the "crazy" as possible (in the field of neurology)!

clairesmum said...

Visiting SF means you are going to see 'crazy' in it's natural habitat!
the Musee Mechanique is awesome, and so many people don't venture into it. personally, one of my SF favorites.

skidmark said...

Is Frank's hair still a "thing"? I do miss hearing about its exploits.

stay safe.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that there's now a distinction between "SamTrans" and "Animal Relief Area." I assume that's because they extended BART to SFO.

Anonymous said...

So what did Siri say to all the people asking for spare change?

Unknown said...

This sounds like every vacation I have ever had! Except we didn't fly.....we drove.....everywhere!

We once packed so much "Florida fun" into one week, that by Thursday we were saying things like, "Hey, remember that time we swam with the manatees.....No wait?.....that was Monday!"

Your trip sounds fun. Can't wait for more.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you explain to Craig that real San Franciscans just use their streets to do their business?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Ibe (and the Skool Nerse and the entire Grumpy tribe) for sharing your vacation exploits! They make my day!

Anonymous said...

So, basically, it's a bunch of coin-operated miniature versions of "Pirates of the Caribbean."

Anonymous said...

A fun game: guess which of those pictures are of machines at Musée Mécanique and which are of areas in San Francisco Airport.

DocMac said...

Love that Siri freaked that poor little girl out :-)

And I get the fear of a thermometer in celsius (interesting to find one in the US). I travelled outside the US for the first time last spring. Went to the Dominican Republic and my room mate and I both kinda stared at the thermometer and randomly picked a temperature that seemed to be "in the middle." Then, for a full day, we couldn't figure out why the air wasn't working.

We finally called the front desk to send someone to help us. It turns out that the balcony door has to be closed firmly so the room knows the door is closed and will allow the air conditioner to work. The room key also had to be inserted in a slot for any of the lights to turn on. (It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure that out!)

Why is all this energy saving technology used in the Dominican Republic and not in the US?

"This is 'Murica, man," Probably sums it up :-)

Anonymous said...

Heheh. Those kids nowadays. Sounds fun.

Mage said...

Sounds like a great start.

bel138 said...

There's a Laughing Sal at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh. She's possibly more terrifying now than she was when I was a child.

Zed said...

Travelling with family always makes for a memorable trip

Anonymous said...

Laffin Sal at Kennywood is still there. She's still cackling maniacally next to the train ride. Creepy, and as she's not coin operated, there's no way to shut her up, lol

jbt369 said...

1. A tendency for Siri to randomly answer questions she’d overheard, even though no one had asked her, the home button hadn't been pressed, and the "lift and talk" feature was off.

2. It would randomly play snippets of Weird Al’s song “Amish Paradise” for no obvious reason.

May I have it? That sounds well past cool.

Anonymous said...

Laughing Sal always scared the crap out of me as a kid. I'm from (and still live in) Cleveland and the original Sal from Euclid Beach Park still makes the rounds around here. So creepy.

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