March 27th, 2005


On Impulse Power

Then plan was to take CalTrain from Mountain View to Millbrae, hop on BART to SF and try out a new Thai restaurant I'd seen advertised. The plan was to have lunch there.

But I slept in and had lunch at home. Got on CalTrain at 1:19 pm, got off at Millbrae, walked across to the BART conection 10 feet away, and took the first train which showed up, headed for SFO. The plan was to get on the Richmond/Baypoint train coming from SFO, but since I'd never taken BART to the airport I decided to see what that was like. It was kind of like a slow roller coaster. After 10 minutes parked at SFO's International terminal, I expected the train to go forward and hit the domestic terminals, and then loop around back to San Bruno and SF.

Surprise, surprise, the train instead went backwards into San Bruno, et al. Turns out there is no through BART line, the through line is for the airport monorail. Kind of silly, since they use the same kind of track and the same kind of cars. Or at least they look the same from 20 feet away.

So I changed seats so I was looking forward again. I can't ride facing the back, it makes me queazy. Besides, I want to see where I'm going, not where I've been.

We arrive in San Bruno, and the SFO train has magically bcome the Richmond/Baypoint train.

So I say to myself that I've never been to Richmond/Baypoint. I've got time. It won't cost me anything extra, so I didn't get off in SF, I rode to the end of the line.

As soon as we hit McArthur Station in Oakland it started raining hard. So I didn't get any good pictures with my handy camera phone, but it was amazing how soon out of the cities that things become green and pastoral. We got to Richmond/Baypoint about 3 hours after I'd left Mountain View.

Walked across the station and got on board for the return trip. Got off at Powell Station, and walked up the very steep hill to Bush Street, where the restaurant was. But it wasn't. The ad said it was in the financial district on Bush St., so I headed down Bush towards Montgomery. Found it on the corner of Bush & Kearney. Passed three massage parlors along the way. Laughed at the thought of all those thinly disguised brothels on a street named Bush.

The restaurant's name is Bangkok Best. It wasn't. The menu was completely in English. To me that's always a bad sign. The menu said all the dinners came with salad and rice. That's also a bad sign - salad is not normally a part of a Thai dinner, it's just there for the foreigners. So I ordered the mixed seafood plate. She asked if I wanted rice with that. I said yes, since the menu said it was included.

No salad found its way to my table, but that's okay. She brought me one scoop of rice, and the mixed seafood plate arrived within 5 minutes, mostly cold, and on it were two mussels, two scallops, two pieces of tail-on shrimp, four pieces for squid, two slices of green chili pepper (which would be half the pod), two tiny slices of sweet red pepper, and maybe a dozen green beans. Someone must have told them I was on a diet. If I hadn't also ordered the Thai iced tea I would have gone into insulin shock.

It did not take me long to finish, but it did take me long to catch the eye of my waitress to pay the bill.

Back into the rain, I walked down to the Montgomery BART station, waited 20 minutes for the Milbrae train, and from the previous performance expected it to go straight to Milbrae, but nope, it went to San Bruno and SFO, then reversed into Milbrae. At least that kept me out of the rain and wind - the wait for CalTrain was about 15 minutes. Got to MV at 9:11, and was home in time to call the parental units on my new Vonage VoIP connection.

I've been having some problems with SBC, and decided the only way to solve them was to go to another phone carrier. Trouble is, Sprint is dumping their local phone service, and SBC is merging theirs with AT&T, so there is no competitor to go to. I liked Vonage's ads, their web site offered to let me transfer my SBC phone number to their service, and they offered a free phone adapter/router. Long distance is included, and even their premium package is half the monthly cost of SBC.

I was concerned about the quality of the connection, but a 50-minute call to Seattle and a 10-minute call to Santa Clara both sounded great. And my test call to my cell phone showed it gives my SCB number for caller ID, even though it's going to be a week or two before SBC makes the cut-over.

Besides the quality, my one concern was I will lose phone service if the power or cable goes out. But then, I have the cell phone as backup. Cell-to-cell connections are still too ragged for me to rely only on cell service - I thought about it, for about 20 seconds.