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Moving Parts 

Wednesday, Sep 21 2011
The first time we visited the Cable Car Museum, we expected to see little more than a few dioramas and maybe a ceramic dog — we’d been drinking, and were really looking for a bathroom. Instead, we got the guts of the line, with big spinning wheels and deep-earth rumblings, and we stood transfixed, like an orphan in a steampunk novel, hypnotized by 19th-century tech. (Later we learned it was 1982 tech, thanks to a system-wide rebuild.) We felt the same way, with visiting family, in the engine room the WWII Liberty ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien, because why not? It’s a steam-powered WWII engine room. If you don’t know what that looks like, remember your Titanic: James Cameron filmed his ship’s engine room aboard this one. And don’t get us started on the Musee Mecanique (we found it trying to break a 20), with its crazy mechanical games and masked arm-wrestler -- what a bastard that guy turned out to be. In any case, we may visit our major tourist attractions for all the wrong reasons, but at least we get there. You should, too, and the right way to do it is on the Mechanicrawl 02011, a self-guided tour of the waterfront’s “mechnical marvels” sponsored by our foremost forward-thinking group, the Long Now Foundation. Sites include those mentioned above as well as the USS Pampanito (with its Torpedo Data Computer), the boats of S.F. Maritime Park, the Wave Organ, the Exploratorium, and more. Demos occur throughout the day. Those steam engines on the O’Brien? They’ll be belching.
Sat., Sept. 24, 10 a.m., 2011

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Michael Leaverton

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