Archive for June, 2004

a San Francisco girl

Here’s Lucy – she’s a San Francisco girl.

She has onyl one thign to say “my daddy put me into this box. Literally.”

Independence Day

I’m already dreading the multitude of articles, TV pieces, etc, that will frame this week’s handover in Iraq with our Independence Day celebrations here in America.  Seems tailor made, doesn’t it?

But thinking on the Fourth, for a moment . . . This will be my first San Francisco July 4th.  The past 4 years have seen me in different places (with different partners, but that’s a different story) celebrating the holiday in similar ways.  But I wonder how this change of setting will change the party.

Two years ago, I lounged in the grass framing a posh East Sacramento home, watching the neighbors parade by (literally) with kids in festooned red wagons and firemen with shiny trucks waving at the bbq-ers and watermelon eaters waving back.  Oh the undeniable Americana of it all . . . .  We ate all day – burgers, hotdogs, strawberries, you know, the usual.  We swam.  We sunburned.  We lit off surplus fireworks from the local fundraising booth at which we’d been volunteering until god-knows-how-late.

Last year, same menu, but in Los Angeles, listening to a close friend’s stories of his recent journalistic travels in the Middle East, watching local fireworks, and several more, Mraz-like, from the freeway, late at night.

But this year, I’m Bay Area bound – away from my family and the familiar, I wonder what the 4th looks like here.  Not to bow to stereotype, but in anti-war Baghdad by the Bay, America looks different.  There aren’t many lights at Christmas.  There aren’t many flags on Memorial Day – will there be any on the Fourth?  My plans include partying in Emeryville (from which 3 or 4 big fireworks shows can be seen around the Bay, so I’m told).  The menu?  Truly American, said my hostess, eclectic and diverse.  My mouth was set for turkey dogs and hamburgers – but the main dish?  Enchiladas.  And it is beautiful that way.

In a city where the flags are more often rainbow than red-white-and-blue, and the voters are usually bluer than the red rest of the country, patriotism is expressed as much in how we break traditional notions of American as it is in how we celebrate it.  And if dissent truly is the most American expression of patriotism, then I can’t imagine where I’d have a more independent Independence Day.

[This piece is cross-posted at Phoblographer*]

Haight Longings

I went to the San Francisco DMV earlier today to get my hands on the
Driver’s Handbook (gotta study for that test), and along the way I
spent some time at the Haight. I haven’t been there in two years, and
I’ve forgotten how much I love it. The shops, the restaurants, the
cafes, Buena Vista Park, the beautiful houses… I wish I could afford
to live there. Heck, I’d settle for any of the surrounding areas — the
Castro, Inner Sunset, Noe Valley — I just want to be near it. How can
one not love a neighborhood with a shop that has a pair of fishnet-cladded legs hanging out of it?

I had a cup of blueberry ice cream from B&J’s, stopped by Kid Robot to have a look around, and bought a sheer top from Behind the Post Office. I would’ve gone to Giant Robot too but the bus had just arrived.

I should really go back more often.

For the amusement of birds

I posted the same entry on my blog, but I figure some of you might get a kick out of it.

Early Sunday morning, on my way to get half a pound of Peet’s coffee beans (whole, of course, for later grinding), I had a rather bizarre experience that lasted about half a second. As I passed by a hardware store on the sidewalk, a bird flew out of nowhere and LANDED ON MY HEAD. I actually felt the claws dig into my scalp. At first, I was terrified because it didn’t hit me that it was a bird, and I shook my head reflexively. The second I saw the bird fly off, I knew it had landed on my head.

Okay, I admit I don’t have the best hairstyle in the world, but it DOES NOT LOOK LIKE A NEST! My hair does not in any way resemble a bird’s nest! I bet the bird was blind.

Now I’m wondering if a bird landing on one’s head is some kind of omen. Should I be worried? Or blessed?

Just so you know, the Peet’s I was talking about is the one on West Portal. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, look out for the birds.

Golden Gate Bridge

Yes, it’s a typical tourist pic, but I’m still in awe at the beauty of this bridge. I took this while on a San Francisco Bay Cruise.

Seamy smells

I’ve been volunteering at the EFF for about two days now, and I don’t
know if I’ve gotten over the seamy smells in the surrounding
neighborhood. There’s the stale stench of urine on every other block,
the overwhelming odor from the fish and meat markets, and the
nose-wrinkling stink of uncollected garbage. It’s gotten so that I
found myself rushing along the street to get to the office this
morning. I’m not sure if this means my nose is sensitive, or that I’m a
city snob. I’m hoping for the former.

I’m sure that in time my nose will get used to it, and I’ll put it all as a quaint quirk of a rather colorful neighborhood.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood . . . .

Won’t you be my neighbor?

It was lovely today – I hope you got outside and took advantage of it.  What did I do?  Did I go to the park?  The beach?  Crissy Field?  Noooo.  I went to Mountain View to see a movie. Long story.  It was the new Moore flick.  And I’m certainly seeing it in probably the friendliest part of the country for this kind of film.  I recommend it – and, if, by any chance, you’re a Republican and you see it – let me know – I’d love to know what you thought . . . .

Anywho –

Sometimes you need a neighborhood evening.  That’s what I did.  The whole day except that side trip really. Breakfast at Irving Street Cafe.  Dinner at Milanos (Best pizza in the ‘hood).  Dessert at Tart to Tart.  (Raise your hand if you’re running tomorrow!  That’s me!!! Oof, too much food). 

Came to the unfortunate conclusion tonight that I’ve run out of Inner Sunset bars.  To be fair, I only really spend time at Yancy’s and the Little Shamrock.  Anyone have input on the others along Irving?  Any input would be great.  Or maybe you can say something to pump enthusiasm back into the Sham or Yancy’s.

Tomorrow – I’m hoping for sunny weather and an indulgent run in GG Park.  Who has favorite routes to share?

SuperNova 2004

So I spoke at SuperNova 2004 today on Digital Identity.   Supernova is a conference focused on decentralization.

I got to hang out with the original ( meister) Jason DeFillippo – who was taking photos like a madman, as I sang opera and in general – cuased as much commotion as possible.

Here’s a shot of Ray Ozzie – who in case you don’t know – invented Lotus Notes and is the founder and CEO of Groove.

Tomorrow I get to hear Clay Shirky.

Over half the crowd there were friends of mine on Orkut.

Taste of Ti Couz

On my way back from the Electronic Frontier Foundation office (I’m a new volunteer there) yesterday evening, I wandered through the heart of the Mission looking for a place to eat. There was no shortage of taquerias and fast-food Chinese places, but I was in the mood for something different.

I found myself on 16th Street and Valencia, with dozens of trendy restaurants and cafes to choose from. I must’ve walked past Restaurant YoYo 3-4 times wondering if I was in the mood for sushi. I also walked up and down 16th several times, wondering if I was in the mood for tapas, sandwiches, or something else (I’m notoriously indecisive). Since I tend to judge restaurants by the number of clientele (which is somewhat unfair, I realize), I decided to pop into Ti Couz, a crepe restaurant that had a fair number of people out on its patio. Besides, I haven’t had crepes in awhile.

The decor of the restaurant appeared to mimic an authentic French crepery of sorts with its white-washed walls and rustic wooden furniture. There’s a small swarm of bugs when you first enter the restaurant — I think it had something to do with the still air — but once you get past that, the restaurant is pretty cozy.

The menu, sprinkled with French words aplenty, dazzled me with that strange, odd feeling I often get when visiting a foreign place. The first fold of the menu described the origins of the crepes served in the restaurant (described as “Krampouz,” from Brittany); buckwheat flour is used in their savory crepes, and wheat flour is used in their sweet crepes. There’s also a rather large disclaimer warning you that Ti Couz firmly believes in the freshness of their crepes and therefore refuses to pack your food to-go. That sounded rather odd to me, but I’ve had leftover crepes before and it was not a pleasant thing, so I understand where they’re coming from with that.

They had a wide variety of filling choices, which you can mix and match to create your own crepe. I had a hard time choosing between a cheesy filling, or something with scallops and shrimp. I finally went with a smoked salmon and caramelized onion crepe, which was topped with creme fraiche. It was delicious, though definitely for the onion lover. I also would’ve preferred a thicker creme fraiche, but it was pretty good all the same. The buckwheat crepe was done to perfection — nice and golden brown, with that slight crispiness around the edges. If I had been hungrier, I would’ve also gone for a dessert crepe (with fruits, chocolate, oh my!), but one was enough for me.

All in all, it was a pretty pleasant experience. I’ll definitely come back here again, and maybe try the scallop and shrimp combo next time.

Re-MUNI-rations: The Caltrain Edition

We’re taking the Caltrain and we hit Redwood City. There’s a sign. A
sign in wrought iron and in lights that says “Redwood City: Climate
Best By Government Test.”

The hell?

What exactly does that mean? Did the government come out here with
their black suits and vials and doo-hickeyometers and conduct somehow
determine what the best climate is? What exactly about Redwood City’s
climate makes it the best? Do I have to live in Redwood City to really
know what the definitive best climate is? Shouldn’t they put a note on
the sign that says what exactly the best climate is “75 degrees with 5%
humidity” I mean, what?

Then I got freaked out and thought that government tests vaguely
sounded like men in hazmat hats and big mushroom clouds in the sky.

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