My coworker Bev, stopping for a photo op on the gluteal wrecking climb up to Coit Tower
I found myself back in San Francisco's sunny and welcoming arms this past weekend. Sigh. Words cannot describe how much I love this city.
My adventures began Friday morning, when I flew into SFO (in first class, no less! Thanks for the upgrade, United) to attend a User Experience & Design workshop led by my fellow ThoughtWorkers. The workshop itself was really fascinating and turned some gears in my mind that I didn't know even existed. Despite the wealth of new practices to which I was exposed (and I'm definitely planning on picking up a UX book or two or learn more!), I noticed that a lot of the thinking behind good design or how to ask the right questions when thinking about user experience are the same ones that normal, non-UX BAs should be asking. I guess at the end of the day, the key to implementation that brings value to the business is to have a strong understanding of that "Why are we doing this in the first place?" factor in the first place. I like that UX really forces out that question over and over again because of its visual and interactive products. Normal user stories can get trapped in a mire of acceptance criteria and lose sight of that crucial end-goal.
Anyway, business insights aside, we ended the workshop at around 5 and went to JonColins lounge for a drink and to catch up with other San Franciscan ThoughtWorkers. Afterwards, the party continued at Off The Grid, an outdoor food truck event made up of multi-ethnic vendors that reminded me of Taste of Chicago. The most ridiculous part? The Giants game had gobbled up all the taxis...so our cheapest option, at $10 a head, was to hop into a black stretch limousine. I always thought that after prom, my next time in a limo would be after my wedding. (With Viggo Mortensen.) But whatever, no complaints here.
At Off the Grid, I had Phillipino chicken tacos and satayed chicken and pork skewers, pictured above. I got the skewers because I was hoping they'd taste like favorite food in the world world, spicy Chinese lamb kebabs oozing with fat and seasoned with cumin/every strain of MSG known to man that are unfortunately only typically found in sketchy alleys on the streets of Beijing. The verdict: spicy sketchy Chinese lamb kebabs they were not, but nonetheless delicious they were. After dinner, we took the limo back to a lounge and stayed there for a few drinks before calling it a night.
The next day, we made the drive up to California's famous wine country, Napa Valley, for some breathtaking views and yummy wine tasting!
Driving down SF's famous Embarcadero, the name of which my coworker Hammer and I decided was just made up a long time ago by some white dude who was trying to say "Embark" in Spanish
It's not touristy if I took the picture at a RAD ANGLE!
Napa was, in a word, therapeutic. Everything was serene and calm and nested within rolling green hills. It was hard to believe we were only an hour out of a busy metropolitan area. Or that people still live in Calgary (it's snowing up a shitstorm here as I type) when places like Napa exist on the same planet.
I also had my very first wine tasting experience in Napa. At first I found it mindboggling that I could just walk up to a winery and ask to sample their wine and drink it at no cost. But I quickly got used to it ;) My favorite tasting took place at the beautiful Artessa winery.
I know you're supposed to spit the wine back out so as to not taint the palate...but I sure as heck swallowed that baby down (stop your snickering). The winner of the afternoon was a sweet dessert wine that tasted just like juice. Mmm, juice.
After we felt merry from the combination of sunshine and wine, we made the short drive over to the town of Yountville. Things I noticed about Yountville: everybody drives in either a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz and the most popular spot in town was a cutesey, $$$$$$$ bakery called Bouchon, where I found myself in MACARON HEAVEN. There was a macaron for every flavor under the sun. If it wasn't for the hefty price tag I would have tried one of every kind, but I ultimately went with Hazelnut and Espresso. Mmm, I'm salivating as I'm typing this/remembering how they melted in my mouth...
I call this "poop bread"
The next day, we explored a bit within the city of San Francisco itself. We kicked the morning off with a defuckinglicious brunch in Chinatown. As usual, I ate way beyond the natural limits of my body would allow and thought I was going to keel over and pass out on the floor. But the short walk over to the Coit tower proved to be an awakening experience. Mostly because all the streets were practically vertical. You guys remember that scene in Inception where the streets start folding up into the sky? Yeah, that was inspired by San Francisco. And yeah, I just made that up, but it may as well be true. My sore butt is proof.
We wrapped up the trip with a visit to the de Young musuem, where I checked out a very neat "Balenciaga and Spain" exhibit that featured over a hundred of Balenciaga's pieces. Some were beautiful and others were just, well, retarded, for lack of a better word for it. One of his dresses was called the "Catepillar dress" and consisted of three green cloth spheres stacked on top of each other. I don't care how prestigious the brand or haute the couture or expensive the piece. I would rather eat rat vomit than go outside wearing that dress.
As always, I left San Francisco yearning for more time. I'm excited to revisit the city at the end of April though, it'll be a nice victory celebration after eight long months in cold, cold Calgary!