Street chess in SF

If you ever go to the intersection of Market str. & 5th str. then you will definitely see this:

At first I thought this was just a way to spend some free time and socialize with others, but I was told that if I wanted to play the cost was about $2 per game. I know the rules of chess, but I cannot even remember the last time I actually tried to play. In any case, I was excited to try it out, and gave it a shot. My opponent was really fast; I must have seemed half asleep to him. At some point in the game I thought he could plan five moves ahead while I could barely plan my next one. The result? He beat me in five minutes without even sweating. In fact, I probably wasted his time as an opponent. As I was leaving a thought occurred to me: some of the people who play there regularly depend on winning to secure food, rent and whatnot. It is a means of survival for them, so tourists like me who go thereĀ  unprepared to see “how it is like” are an easy prey. When I get back to UofT, I’ll have to try to convince people who hang out at the CSSU (Computer Science Students Union) to play chess in between courses. I wonder if it’s a good idea…


From San Francisco with love

It’s been three years since the last time I traveled via airplane, when I came from Albania to Canada. Yesterday I flew once more, this time to San Francisco, California, where I’ll be living for the next three months. What brought me here is my summer internship at Google, the one of the coolest companies for computer scientists. I came here to learn, work, explore, have fun, meet new people and take another step towards my becoming independent.

After I finished what I had to do in the airport I decided not to take a cab to my new home in the center of the city, but take public transit and experience first hand what the ride is like, how people treat you as a hopeless-looking tourist who carries two heavy suitcases and a backpack. Fortunately, they treated me well: several people approached me in the train and the bus station and, after joking that I must be really crazy for carrying two suitcases by myself, offered me valuable directions, help for changing my bills into coins, and even gave me a transfer to get on the right bus… what more can a hopeless tourist ask for? They also told me not to miss today’s Carnival which is going to take place in the center of the city.

I’m looking forward to the experiences this summer has prepared for me, and of course, I’m looking forward to my first day at Google, which is going to be this coming Tuesday.