Alcatraz and champagne fountains

December 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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On Friday night Blake and I went to the YouTube holiday party, and it was about three times fancier than any party I have previously attended. Ever. And I went to a presidential inaugural ball in D.C. once, so that’s really saying something.

Earlier in the week I’d asked Blake to find a female coworker and get some guidance on how much I should dress up. Before that could occur, however, he heard a guy on his team brainstorming about where he could come up with a tuxedo at the last minute. A tuxedo! When Blake told me, I was sure the coworker was kidding. I have been to a number of business-sponsored parties — Christmas and otherwise — but usually I would stand out as the most dressed up in a sedate ensemble of tights, a skirt, and a turtleneck.

Not this party, though: to our great surprise, nearly everybody was wearing a suit. And in my blue rehearsal-dinner dress (which you can also see in the sidebar of this blog), I was among the more mildly-dressed women.  Once we got inside, it was clear why: this party was fancy. Bowties. Cummerbunds. Dresses covered in sequins. I was glad I wasn’t wearing a turtleneck!

It was held on the fourth floor of a building in downtown San Francisco with an incredible skyline view and a terrace. After we checked our coats, we mostly just drifted around oohing and ahhing about, well, everything: the champagne fountains, the caterers in tuxedos carrying around little trays of rare ahi tuna or mini croque monsieurs, the many open bars with every liquor imaginable, the free photo booths, the dim sum station and mashed-potato station and fancy meatballs and salmon skewers, the crab sliders… it just kept going. When I asked the bartender for the girliest drink he had, he made me a cosmo which left me pretty wobbly for the next 25 minutes. We found out the next day that there had been a doughnut-making machine on the terrace, but sadly we missed it.

Anyway, it was pretty neat. I met most of Blake’s teammates, which was fun, and all in all it was a lovely evening. I asked Blake to please not start a company until after next December so we can attend next year’s party as well. =)

Oh, yeah, the party was James Bond themed. I'm not really sure what that has to do with the holidays, but whatever. Blake's coworkers assured me that the tuxedos were because of the party itself, not the James Bond theme.

The next day we went to see Alcatraz, which was pretty nifty. The weather was great and the tour was pretty interesting. Here are some photos:

Alcatraz Island (taken from the ferry). To our surprise, the prison itself is only that little building on the top, which really isn't even that big. It only held about 300 prisoners at a time! The rest of the island is other stuff -- a garden, a nature preserve, apartments for the guards' families, etc. That lighthouse was the first lighthouse on the Pacific coast.

From Alcatraz with San Francisco in the background and century plants in the foreground. Those things always look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book.

The view of downtown San Francisco from inside the cellblock. (The bridge on the left is the less famous Bay Bridge to Oakland -- the Golden Gate is behind us.)

Anyway, it was pretty neat. Driving around San Francisco was a huge pain, though — not even considering the terrible Saturday-afternoon traffic — and it convinced us that we need to get a GPS. It’s too frustrating to have to spend our drive consumed with navigation instead of conversing and having fun.

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