Last week I was attending a conference in the Bay Area, so I went a few days early to visit friends! I stayed with Katie and Matt, hung out with Marc as well, coincidentally saw some Southern California friends, and attended the Lithium Network Conference. I had a great time!
Lithium is all about social: they’re the providers of Toshiba’s forum as well as Lithium Social Web, the web application that I use that pulls the forum, Facebook, and Twitter into one screen.
I flew in Friday night after some delays. Matt and Katie picked me up from San Francisco International, and we headed back to their place in Fremont after a quick stop for some tasty In-N-Out. It was late, so we mostly talked, and Matt and I played games.
Saturday was the action-packed day! Marc came over, and then we visited Matt’s university, San Jose State University, where we failed to return library books and failed to see a flight simulator. We tried at least. Luckily, San Jose is also filled with delicious foods.
At SmokeEaters I ate some delicious wings, onion rings, fries, and a beer. This was the start of a bad day for my stomach.
I was kind of excited to see a banner for Fanime. I don’t know. I’m sorry.
After our unhealthy lunch, we stopped at Psycho Donuts. Just look how good they look! Yes, yes, yes!
We walked past a place called Iguanas just because I wanted to take a picture of their sign. Burritozilla! I want to eat Burritozilla!
When we got back to Katie and Matt’s, we tried some of the donuts. Another bad stomach decision, but a great decision for my taste buds. The top-left one was the Cookie Monster donut. Reminds me of Afters Ice Cream!
We made some White Russians, watched some YouTube videos, listened to Spotify, and talked. The White Russians were the final bad decision for my stomach, haha.
Matt found this playlist on Spotify – 2000′s Rock by Scott Sweatman. It’s… kind of great. It caused a lot of nostalgia, but at the same time, I can tell why I don’t listen to this music anymore. It was pretty perfect.
This might sound uneventful, but it was a pretty important evening. I had a lot of fun with them. Marc’s friend even came over as well.
gem was in te Bay Area to go rafting with a group of friends, which included one other person I knew – Vivian. Marc came over again, and then he drove us to Berkeley to meet with them.
We decided to meet at Sather Tower, a bell and clock tower, commonly called The Campanile.
You could hear the music from a pretty good distance.
I liked the bears at the base.
After realizing you could go up the tower for a nominal fee, we had to check it out.
I wish this photo offered a better sense of scale. The bells could totally crush a person.
gem, Katie, and Matt!
Here’s where the musician sits to play the carillon, which is the bell system.
Here’s the view.
And here’s a group of photos of a lot of us.
Here’s gem, Marc, Katie, Matt, and myself. I was trying to spread the Half Past Two, So Cal ska love to the Bay Area.
We stopped at Sheng Kee Bakery, where I tried some of Vivian’s tea eggs – basically eggs boiled in tea rather than water. Delicious! Then it was off to Sliver Pizzeria. Each day of the week they feature a different pizza, but that’s it. That means that each day they only have a single kind of pizza. On Sunday, it was roasted potatoes, roasted onions, mozzarella, jalapeño jack cheese, Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, and olive oil. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. It was great! I’m going to need to try to make something like this some time.
Over lunch, someone I had just met that day asked me what I did for a living. I said, “I work for Toshiba…”
He replied with “hey, that’s my line!”
I’m paraphrasing, but he works for Toshiba as well, although he works for a different Toshiba company. Small world! And speaking of small worlds, another person was going to take the BART back to Fremont, so Marc just gave him a ride too.
It was cool seeing the university as well as the city. The city was pretty interesting. I can understand how it gets the reputation it has, because the people clearly cared a lot more about the environment and helping each other than I’m used to seeing in Orange County.
Once we got home, we had a quiet evening mostly of watching TV and chatting. I got some work done as well, and we watched American Ninja Warrior. It’s a cool show pitting athletes against insane obstacle courses that require a great deal of strength, agility, and balance.
Katie made an amazing fish dinner that made my stomach feel much better. It was super good!
I started Monday morning by working before Matt drove me to the BART station.
When I got into San Francisco, I took a picture of the building outside the Powell Street station like I always do.
This was the view from my hotel room. Not amazing, but I like that Scalzi always posts photos of his view, so I like doing it too. I stayed at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, which was right next to Saint Patrick’s Chuch, where Patrick and Caroline got married. Pretty cool!
Anela gave me some recommendations of things to do. Some of them I’d done previously, and some, like hike recommendations, just didn’t fit with my schedule. But some things had to be done!
Did you know that at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory you can watch people make fortune cookies? Well, she did, and now I do, and now you do.
They start out round, while they’re still hot, she shapes them into fortune cookies. I got to try some nice hot ones that were still round, and I bought a bag of normal and chocolate fortune cookies.
I tried one chocolate one from the bag, and my fortune was “Your luck will soon be at a high point.” That seems good, but what if it just means my luck is going to be terrible for a long time after that? Uh oh.
I took some other random photos too.
I had to stop at a bakery too, so I got a pineapple BBQ pork bun from The AA Bakery & Cafe. I love pork buns!
Anela also recommended I get pastries in Little Italy, so off I went. I often say I don’t really like looking up recommendations because it’s more fun to find stuff on your own, but I wasn’t sure about Italian pastries, so I turned to reviews and found Stella Pasty and Cafe. Everyone seemed to recommend their Sacripantina.
According to their site, it contains “vanilla sponge cake, zabaione (a delicate custard made with egg yolks, sweet butter, marsala and sherry wine) cream, and rum.” It was light yet rich. I could only eat about half of the piece actually.
I knew I wanted pizza while I was there too, and I felt like looking around to see what caught my eye. Spoiler alert – it wa Golden Boy Pizza. I just liked the feeling and look of the place. Foursquare recommended the garlic clam pizza, so I went with that.
It was a thick slice, and I put red pepper on it. It was good, although I didn’t find it amazing. Still, I liked the place enough that I might try to go back and get a different kind if I can. It was small on the inside but was covered with stickers and similar art.
I also want to mention Victoria Pastry Company. I didn’t eat there, but I got detoured as I followed the amazing smell. I just wasn’t hungry enough.
My final goal was Ghirardelli Square. Anela recommended this as well, although I’d actually been there already. However, I just love chocolate. On the way, I stopped at Dennis Rae Fine Art. They had an exhibit on the art of Theodor Seuss Geisel – Dr. Seuss. It was neat.
I bought a few things to take home at Ghirardelli before purchasing a hot fudge sundae to eat! The fudge was just so awesome. I kinda sorta maybe love hot fudge.
Even so, I couldn’t do it. There were just too many things to eat that day and not enough room in my stomach.
Here’s a nice view from the Fisherman’s Wharf area near the San Francisco National Historic Park (or maybe it’s part of it).
Look, a ship.
This was a really heroic ship, but I heard it killed its family once.
I liked the view from the end of the pier.
Hey, it’s me!
On my way back to the hotel, I happened to walk past Lombard Street at it’s famously twisted block. This was actually another recommendation from Anela, although I wasn’t aiming to see it this time since I’d already seen it. I just happened to walk past it, so I took a picture because of how beautiful it looked.
I just thought this door was cool.
The welcome event for the Lithium Network Conference was held at Jillian’s. There was a variety of food and an open bar. I know what you’re thinking, but actually I only had a small glass of wine. Too exhausted, so I didn’t stay long. After a detour at Target to buy water, I went back to my room for the night.
Tuesday was the first actual day of the conference. After a quick breakfast, I was off to the weird introduction!
That woman was a bunch of bananas.
And that woman was the whole city!
The opening was about three and half hours, and it mostly talked about what customers expect from social engagement. Blah, blah, blah. You don’t care about that.
But then there was lunch and time to socialize! Yes, some of that was through texts to home, but I also talked with some cool people at the conference.
After lunch, I went to a session on “Self service content publishing” and another on “How to get content in the right place at the right time” that were both interesting. They were more about developing applications and custom modifications to the Lithium platform, which isn’t something I have the power to go implement, but I like seeing new ways to think about the process.
The conference ended for the day with two pretty great speakers. The first was Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy is a free online tool for education. It originally sprang from him tutoring his cousin on the phone, then tutoring many of his cousins, then making custom tutoring software to help him tutor them, and then creating videos to help as well. I can’t really do it justice. He discussed how school goes at a certain pace for the whole class and then judges them rather than helping them master something before continuing. He wants to bring this free education to everyone in the world. It’s a beautiful idea, and a couple parts of his talk made me tear up. Shh, don’t tell anyone.
The second speaker was Orny Adams, a comedian. “Let’s talk about what we really wanna talk about. We hate our customers. Because they’re stupid.” He was joking, I swear. Yeah, he didn’t really care about crossing any lines as he also made fun of people who avoid gluten or are scared of germs (uh oh) and even had to end with some differences between men and women. He was pretty hilarious.
That night’s party was held at City View on the fourth floor of The Metreon.
There were a lot of people inside and out. I talked to some cool people, including a long conversation with a Greek woman who compared Greek family members with me! She’s actually a contact at Lithium I hadn’t met, so that was very cool. I also had a great conversation with a man from Zürich.
The view was nice!
There were oh so many desserts. Combined with all the normal food I had that night, it added up to another terrible health night.
Oh, and then after all that I discovered more food.
I didn’t really take many photos this day, but I did attend sessions on “Master social lead generation” and “15 tips for new community managers.” I don’t really need sales leads, and I’m not a new community manager, but I like looking at new ways of thinking.
Later I had a meeting with my coworker, the VP of Global Strategic Accounts & Value Engineering at Lithium, the Chief Revenue Officer of Lithium, and a woman in charge of Customer Success at Lithium.
Dr. Michael Wu, Chief Scientist at Lithium, did a talk about how customers perceive brands, customer expectations, and a lot more. He wears a distinctive hat and glasses, so the conference gave a hat and glasses to everyone in attendance!
I didn’t take the glasses since I already wear glasses, but a free hat? Sure.
I also took an accidental selfie on the way to the BART.
And the last photo I took in the city was this. It reminded me of the RISK! podcast.
It was a great trip, but by the end I was exhausted and happy to get home. If only I didn’t have two work days left in the week.
Thanks for the wonderful time, Bay Area.
And the best part? I didn’t really gain much weight!
There are more photos in my Flickr album.