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Final stop, and an unexpected encounter
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By the time I returned to San Francisco for the last two days of my U.S. trip, I'd spoken to a huge number of amazing, inspiring and justly famous people. So much so that when Cheryl Morgan told me that Neil Gaiman would be launching his new collection in San Jose the next day, I decided not to take the 1-hour trip each way (despite my enormous admiration for the man and his writing and my great interest in his newest project), but to stay in San Francisco for some last-minute gift shopping.

So, the next day, after looting the corpse of Tower Records, I headed out to the wonderful Borderlands Books; bought a book for throughsoftair, and resisted the urge to buy DVDs for myself (not even their copy of Peter Watkins's Punishment Park: can someone please congratulate me for my self-restraint?). Alan Beatts, the owner, mentioned that he was heading out to Haight-Ashbury in an hour or so, and offered me a lift if I was still in the area. So I did some more shopping, bought a gift for chaosmanor, and, since it was lunchtime, I popped into a cheesesteak shop.

I was sitting at the counter waiting for my cheesesteak, when I noticed a very attractive redhead sitting in the opposite corner. She also looked strangely familiar, and then I noticed...

her baseball cap.

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Mythbusters is one of the few TV shows I still watch live (putting up with the ads, rather than waiting for the DVD), and Build Team member Kari Byron is one of the reasons for my enthusiasm. So I went over and burbled something witty and insightful like "Excuse me, are you...?".

She proved to be enormously friendly, and as the group she was sitting with (production crew from the show) included an Australian and a hardcore science fiction fan, we had a wonderful chat.

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After that, there's not much else to tell - just some more shopping (and a fruitless search for the Don't Panic shop), and then a long flight home to another gorgeous redhead.

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Jesus fucking Buddha, that's beyond awesome.

Cool! Sounds like a great trip all over :)

WOOT! My son watches it religiously, it's one of his faves too! I can tell as it's one that he always remembers is on, and asks to watch. Not many other shows he does that with, not even the cartoons and kids' shows.

And it sounds like it was a pretty cool encounter. It's nice when you hear the people you think seem pretty ok on the screen turn out to be that way in reality.

Oh, and give that gorgeous redhead of yours a hug from me? *g* Thanks!

Awwww! How cool is that? Mind you, I would have given my left (nonexistent) nut to meet the bald dude (hubba hubba) from that show.

So, did the hardcore sci fi fan recognise you?

Sadly, no. Though I was pleasantly surprised when a security guard at Sea-Tac noticed my Shadowrun T-shirt and asked if any more books were coming out in the series.

Poot to the so-called hardcore fan. Yay for the security guard.

*scratches head* I'll have to keep a closer eye out for Kari. I live here and you show up for two days and run into her?!

The next time you are in the Bay Area, you should head over to Berkeley to Dark Carnival which has an amazing selection of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror books as well as all kind of fun and creepy toys all kind of overflowing from the shelves and onto the floor and stuffed into strange nooks and crannies. It's a great place to explore. It's on Claremont Avenue, a few blocks up from College Ave. You could probably walk from the Rockridge BART station. There at least - you could be too weighed down on the way back!

Been there, signed some of my books, and it was a long way back to Telegraph Ave with the load of stuff I'd bought! Unfortunately, this time I was too tired on my last day to head across to Berkeley, and my luggage was already overweight.

Since you live in the area, could you do me a small favour? I saw a poster on a bus in San Francisco, an ad for a new emergency hospital. It featured a red mushroom with white spots, and the caption, "I'm sure this one is edible." That's the genus of fungus that Laurton is specializing in, and she'd really love a photo of the poster - but the bus was moving too fast for me to get a shot, much less to steal it from the side. If you happen to know where she can get a copy of the image... many thanks!

Yeah, Claremont to Telegraph is a long hike! Especially, since it's nearly impossible not to buy books there.

If you saw the poster on an SF bus, then it was probably not the same bus system I've got, but I will keep my eyes open. Every year we have a number of families who go out to pick mushrooms and every year there is at least case of severe liver damage (usually to several family members) from picking and eating those. They have similar species - and problems - in Sweden. We used to rely on my grandmother to tell the difference. When she died, we stopped collecting red mushrooms with white spots.

My ex, Laurton, who the photo is for, has some advice for people that eat wild mushrooms, since it's something she gets asked about a lot.

1) any mushroom is edible once
2) if you collect and eat wild mushrooms, only ever eat half of each mushroom. Put the other half in the fridge to take to the ER with you. This will save a mycologist like her from having to pick through your vomit to identify the mushroom.
3) no, she will not identify a psilobycin mushroom for you to use as a recreational drug.

Sounds like loads of fun, lucky you!

(And a small wave of the flag for the other F/SF bookstore in Berkeley, my dear Other Change of Hobbit!)

Another excellent bookshop (and much easier to get to than Dark Carnival), and one I'm sorry I didn't get to on this trip.

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