Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Today was field trip day for Jeff DeCurtins's AS Physics class at M-A, and I was elected (or drafted) as chaperone (yeah right). On the way up, I handed Bobby (my navigator, a Cornell-bound senior) a map of San Francisco. "So after we get lost, we can find our way back," he quipped.
I told him what Mike-Mike said to Cora back in the summer of '88: "Carry a flashlight; that way you can see the bear when he attacks." Mike's wife Elanor told him not to scare the novice, but the damage was already done; it took Carol and me a while to calm poor Cora down.
We actually didn't get lost -- we were one of four parent-driven cars, besides the bus. We arrived at San Francisco's fabulous Exploratorium after about an hour. Pretty soon the bus arrived; we gathered up and were introduced to the museum.

I took a quick pass through the exhibits, then filled my coffee cup and went for a stroll in the immediately adjacent park -- with the Palace of Fine Arts in the background. It was a gorgeous day, and I headed for a bench to relax on while reading my CACM.

On the path, a Chinese couple were taking photos of each other. I asked them if they wanted a picture of both of them, and they indicated they did. The wife pointed to the viewfinder (the LCD screen wasn't lit), telling me in Chinese: "你看這個地方" -- at least that's what it sounded like to me (but maybe she began with "您", and maybe it was "那個地方", i.e,. "that place" rather than "this place"). I was tempted to reply, "這個地方嗎?", but then they'd probably think I really spoke Chinese. The husband came over and said, "Just press here" in English.

I read through most of my magazine and headed back in. On the way somebody asked me (in English) to take a photo of two of them; it was much easier communicating with them, as they clearly spoke English.

Back in the museum, I enjoyed the optical illusions. Soon it was time to go; we gathered up and I drove out of the parking lot and headed toward the Golden Gate bridge. For a minute or so I wasn't sure if we were on a path-of-no-return to Marin County. I told the kids, "There wasn't a TOLL CROSSING ENTRANCE sign, so I hope..."

Then I saw the sign with the most welcome words "LAST S.F. EXIT" -- and Route 1 south (to 19th Avenue). Whew! The drive back (a little shorter) was uneventful. The kids slept at least a little.

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