Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lunch, Gardens, and Frankenbus

Today was food cart day but I have to admit that I've tried almost every vendor of interest to me and none of it was floatin' my boat today.  Instead of truck food, I walked down to the Metreon (formerly owned by Sony), which is next to the Yerba Buena Gardens, for lunch.  My coworker had recommended a Japanese restaurant called Sanraku.  He even went so far as to suggest the Sanraku chicken as the dish to order, so I went with it.  It was absolutely delicious.  The chicken came in nice big chunks of white meat fried in some sort of sauce with vegetables.  The meal came with rice, a nice salad with a light vinaigrette and some cooked but cold broccoli and carrots.  It was all fantastic and I enjoyed my lunch in the garden which is just outside the restaurant.  It was a gorgeous, slightly chilly San Francisco day.  In the sun it was more than comfortable.  There were tons of people sitting on benches or grass, lying about on blankets, reading, listening to their iPods or eating lunch.  It was a very serene setting, especially with the fountain noise in the background.

Fountain at Yerba Buena Gardens
The thing that made me decide to blog about this lunch was not the food, nor the beautiful scenery in which I ate it.  It is what I saw on the way back to the office that made this blog-worthy (to me at least).  In San Francisco, there are these huge buses that are zero emissions vehicles which run on electricity provided by overhead cables (kinda like a bumper car).  The buses attach to the cables with these big curved lightning rod looking things, and the tops of the buses are decked out with some huge transformers a la Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory (please pronounce that laBOREatory.  Thank you).

San Francisco Muni Trolley Bus
I always wondered how they were able to change lanes and turn corners without losing connection to the cables and today I found out.  As I was walking down Mission, a bus stopped just after a red light and I looked up to see that the lightning rod things were no longer connected to the cable above and were splayed out like Bambi's legs on ice (Note to self, consider writing a show called "Bambi's Legs ON ICE!"  It could be a dinner show complete with venison steaks.).  The driver had hopped out of the cab and I said "I guess that's not supposed to happen, eh?" to which he replied "No.  Those corners are sometimes tricky".  So as I watched, he went to the back of the bus and used these two pulleys (that I'd never really noticed before) to physically move those lightning rods out from the bus, and then physically forced first one, then the other to contact the cables above.  It was fascinating.  It wasn't a precision, easy job either.  He had to work it back and forth (while standing in the traffic lane) and get it to catch on the cable.  The first one must have been the ground because it went on easily and made no noise, but the second one took a little more work and made an electrical zap when he got it in the right position.  Pretty cool.  Learn something new every day!

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