Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is one of San Francisco’s most infamous and most visited tourist attractions. Yet, in all the years I’ve lived in San Francisco or visited San Francisco, I’d never gone to Alcatraz. Until now.

After it was closed in 1963 Alcatraz became a museum administered by the National Parks Service. The only way to visit island is via a commercial ferry service from Pier 33 near San Francisco’s Fishermans Wharf district. Entry to the Prison’s various museums and audio tour are included with the ferry ticket price.

The ferry has a snack bar and food for sale but no food or beverages are available on Alcatraz island. No food or drink is allowed to be consumed within the Prison museum but you can consume food and drinks onboard the ferry or at the dock waiting area on the island. In front of the Pier 33 entrance, there are numerous street food vendors vending sausages and hot dogs.

Arriving on the island, we disembarked on the dock which has restroom facilities, information displays, and a gift shop. There are Park Service Rangers who give talks at various times and locations on the island. Visitors can choose to follow these rangers or explore on their own. I and the majority of visitors chose the later.

Walking up the main road from the dock up to the prison, you pass through administration buildings, staff barracks, and facilities, some of which date from when Alcatraz was a coastal fort. Civil War-era coastal battery canons are on display in various parts of the park. It is a reasonable walk uphill to the prison but those with disabilities can take a free tram up to the prison.

The prison’s former laundry building has been converted into a museum hall containing an exhibit on the 1969 occupation of the island by Nativist protestors. Their protest graffiti is still present (or reproduced) throughout the park on signage and on the island water tower.

In a morbid reminder, on the walk up to the former Maximum Security Federal Penitentiary, all visitors must pass the prison’s Morgue, a small building just outside of the main prison complex. Entering the prison, all visitors enter a large intake room where everyone is issued a complimentary headset and a digital audio player to listen to an Audio Tour.

The audio tour was well-produced and informative. It was narrated by guards and former prisoners of Alcatraz who gave personal insights as to life in the prison. Sound effects and ambient sounds created an immersive experience. The only issue was a poor user interface and faulty equipment maintenance that didn’t allow me to reliably pause, rewind and forward sections of the audio.

The prison interior was creepy and oppressive in a way that only old run-down brutalist 20th-century buildings. I knew prison cells were small but the 5ft x 5ft cells looked even smaller in real life. Most of the cells were closed to the public except for “The Hole”, the isolation cells in D-block where rule violators were sent as punishment.

The most unsettling part of the whole prison tour was at the end: the gift shop. The large gift shop was filled with Alcatraz logo wear, replica eating utensils, and table wear. Why anybody would want to make another human’s incarceration, even if that human was a criminal, something to “enjoy” in their home is disturbing.

Happy New Year 2023

It’s the New Year and a tradition in Japan is for the Shinto priests to cleanse the temples of the previous year’s paper slips and wooden plaques (ema) left by the shrine visitors. You should do the same with your phone TXT messages and start with a clean slate. Especially those negative messages and rants. Happy New Year!

Taste Test: UK vs. US Kit Kat

My kids are still eating through their Halloween candy. We used some of it to do this taste test. Kit Kat was one of the first accounts I worked on at DDB so I knew a bit about its history. I was surprised and impressed the kids had developed enough pallets to discern a definite difference. Though a few other kids who came by asking for samples after the video weren’t as accurate at identifying U.S. made KitKat.

LA to SF Time Lapse

Enjoy my drive from L.A. to S.F. I (mostly) wasn’t exceeding the speed limit or driving like an ass, though swearing at plenty of people cutting in front of me at the last minute, whenever we’d pass slower trucks. This is my new YouTube channel focused on travel, food, and amustments.

Bad Drivers SF Summer 2022

Some highlights from August. No horrific crashes, just entitled drivers, who don’t seem to notice their surroundings.

Rumble License: Choose Wisely

After posting videos explaining how to auto sync your YouTube videos to the rival video platform, Rumble and on copyrights, one of the most common questions I would get in the comments for those videos was, “Which Rumble License Options should I choose?”

When you upload or sync content to Rumble, you’re asked to choose 1 of 4 options to license your video with Rumble. Options #1 and #2 look confusingly similar as they are both titled “Video Management”. If you choose either, what you are effectively agreeing to is contracting for Rumble to manage the licensing of your video.

This is useful if you create content that other 3rd parties may want to use to create their content. These include Advertising agencies, film makers, news outlets, etc. who are looking for stock footage or content to create with. If they found a video on Rumble that was licensable, they could simply click on the “License” button and pay a fee to Rumble, who in turn would share those proceeds with you, the creator.

Option #1 give Rumble exclusive online rights which could bite you in the ass if you had previously posted your content on YouTube or elsewhere. Now if YouTube wants to continue showing your video, they have to negotiate a licensing agreement with Rumble. That could potentially cause your content to be removed by YouTube from their platform.

Option #2 excludes YouTube from Rumbles management which sounds promising. But in reading the fine print of Rumbles the Terms of Service, should you choose either Option #1 or #2 you are agreeing to give Rumble Management Rights to your video for up to 50 years! Thats means you do not have the right to remove your content from Rumble either because Rumble has a license to use your video for the term of the agreement.

This is a reminder of how important it is to always read the fine print. Or in the case of online Terms of Service, all of print. To their credit Rumble doesn’t hide any of these details or

That is why I always choose Option #3 which only grants Rumble the right to play and put advertising on (monetize) my videos. This is the same license I have with YouTube so it’s really no different. Option #4 is choosing to not monetize your content; allowing Rumble to play it but not put Ads on it or re-license it.

NYC: Teuscher

There’s one in San FranciscThere’s one in San Francisco too but the brown lumps on the sidewalk in front of it aren’t chocolate.