January 05, 2006

Ab Fab (A Tale Of Two Cities)

I live in Oakland, and work 60 kilometres down the other end of Interstate 880, in sunny Santa Clara. Oakland and Santa Clara -- worlds apart, separated by a common freeway. At one end, down there in Santa Clara a few blocks from where I work, there's a thriving little business that advertises itself as "Fab Consultants". Down there it's taken for granted that that means they help with semiconductor fabrication, a huge business in Santa Clara, involving blindingly-white cleanrooms, workers in space suits, and equipment that works on billions of things simultaneously at sub-micron scales. Just a few hundred metres behind my studio in Oakland there's another little business that also advertises itself with the same words, "Fab Consultants". Up here everyone knows it means they help with steel and metal fabrication -- welding, lifting (cranes, etc.), milling, finishing. It's thriving, too, in its own way, but the dirt's a little thicker on the floors.


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