Archive for May, 2005

Customer Disservice

After one too many near-misses by multi-unit strollers and their fertility-drug crazed drivers, I left the sanitized streets of Noe Valley for the inner Sunset. The business district on Irving is the quintessential “Main St., USA”. Very self-sufficient, in that it is more resident than tourist oriented. Has the grocery, hardware store, shoe repair, low brow restaurants, and of course, coffee!

I’m a mocha fiend. I have a double or triple most every day. It’s an expensive habit, but it makes me happy and gets me out of the house for a few minutes. I have three choices in the immediate vicinity – 4 if you count the second Beanery store. [I discount other places such as Arizmendi here because while they offer coffee drinks, it isn't really "what they do." Rightly or not, I feel like I'm making a special request by ordering at these places.] Besides the two Beaneries, we have Cafe Evolution, and the requisite Starbucks. The former two outlets have some semblance of character, and make great coffee drinks at a reasonable price. Why then, do I frequently find myself at the corporate giant?

Cafe Evolution is tr

Kangaroo U.

I just watched this documentary on university politics. I knew that most public universities unofficially oppose diversity of thought, but I didn’t realize just how bad it is. One student underwent substantial harassment from the school administration for posting an event flyer, touting a conservative black author and his book entitled “It’s OK to Leave the Plantation.” Apparently that title was considered to be something akin to ‘hate speech’.

Are there any local university students out there who have witnessed this kind of selective intolerance on campus?

Two things to do this weekend if you like costumes

In San Francisco: The Carnaval SF celebration goes on today and tomorrow. On both days there’s the street fair on Harrison between 16th and 23rd Streets, and on Sunday there’s the Carnaval parade, starting at 9:30am at 24th and Bryant, moving towards Mission, then down Mission to 17th, then east on 17th to the festival.

In San Jose: One of the biggest scifi conventions in the area, Baycon is already underway. Besides the masquerade ball and contest, there’s filk, anime, vendors, panels, wacky people… you know, the usual con scene. Full-weekend passes are $75 at the door, one-day passes are also available (though the website specifies the price as “to be determined”). Check it out at the DoubleTree Hotel.

Tagged

Apple buys a ton of billboard advertising in the Bay Area, and in SF there’s one stretch of 101 where you can see an iPod billboard regardless of whether you’re driving north or south. Now, if I spent any time thinking like a graffiti artist, I might realize that one of those billboards might be the perfect place to get seen.

Did anyone else who drives on southbound 101 in SF see the blue billboard yesterday morning? The whole bottom stretch of it got tagged by three artists (one of them was Waste, I can’t remember the other two) in gray and white. By the time I got back into the city last night, it had already been washed away. Hopefully someone got a picture. I’ll keep an eye out.

Pay No Attention To That Backhoe Behind The Curtain

I love government. No, really. I’m a grade A, government nerd. I even still believe in the system and its potential to do good things.

Which is why when I read about public officials doing things tailor-made for Leno’s inane monologues, things that add fuel to most people’s “I hate government” fires, things that give people one more reason not to vote – or worse, to vote for bad things proposed by other government-haters – I weep.

To wit – this item via BoingBoing, from a Chron article. Warning: Before reading further, we here at Metroblogging would ask you to take the proper safeguards to prevent blunt-force head trauma. Because the following story may induce sever head-slapping, now might be a good time to put on a boxing glove, mitten, or just grab something soft and fluffy, like a pillow, or your cat. Thank you:

Schwarzenegger creates, then fills Potemkin pothole
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dispatched a road crew to a residential street in San Jose to create a pothole, which he later turned up and filled, grinning for news-cameras and declaring his willingness to increase funding for transportation projects. The Potemkin pothole was later sealed by a roadcrew with a gigantic roller truck,
potemkinpothole.jpg

Porrovecchio and his business partner, Joe Greco, said that at about 7 a.m. they became fascinated watching “10 city workers standing around for a few hours putting on new vests,” all in preparation for the big moment with Schwarzenegger.
But their street, he noted, didn’t even have a hole to pave over until Thursday morning.

“They just dug it out,” Porrovecchio said, shrugging. “There was a crack. But they dug out the whole road this morning.”

“It’s a lot of money spent on a staged event,” said Matt Vujevich, 74, a retiree whose home faced the crew-made trench that straddled nearly the whole street. “We still have the same problems. Everything’s a press conference.”

To those worried about the cost, a spokesman tries to put to rest those fears:

Stutzman, the governor’s communications director, told reporters that “the staging of an event like this is paid for out of the governor’s California Recovery Team account,” which pays for many of the governor’s political activities, “so there’s no taxpayer expense.”

Oh, I’d say it’s a costly affair either way.

And to giving us that simulacrum-angle this story so desperately needed, the director of SJ Mayor Ron Gozales’s communications said the “event involved ‘not exactly filling a pothole, but it represented the pothole aspect’ of the transportation funding measure.” Actually, that’s not a simulacrum – which is a representation of something that never really existed at all (think Tomorrowland). Potholes are a problem. But you’d think Schwarzenegger could’ve filled on that needed filling, instead of creating his own. Maybe he’s the simulacrum.

I’ve worked in government. They aren’t all like that. I promise. And the more we pay attention, the fewer of that sort there’ll be. Okay, I’m off the soapbox now.

Form Over Function Over Water

Awhile ago, I posted about studies on a possible suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge. Today, the Chron has an article and some photos of 3 proposals from Cal engineering students:

“Our first criteria was aesthetics,” said Wahl, as he and fellow students Danielle Hutchings, 23, of Castro Valley, and Ryan Stauffer, 24, of San Rafael, showed off scale models of the three designs ranging from vertical cables to a majestic arching structure connected together by tension wires.

The designs drew compliments Wednesday evening from more than 100 people who attended a reception at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. The gathering, sponsored by the Psychiatric Foundation of Northern California, included two bridge district board members — San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano and Marin County Supervisor Cynthia Murray — who both praised the students and repeated their past statements in support of a barrier.

I still say don’t build it. But I still don’t say it lightly.

Eureka!

So – I know, I know, I’m sure everyone knows where this is, but for all the time I’ve lived here I’ve always wondered where this stereotypical vista is. You know, the Full House park? It was in So I Married An Axe Murderer too. But goddammit, I found it. Apparently, it’s called Alamo Square. Is this its best photographic representation ever? No. But I don’t care. I found it. I’m done. Were I George Costanza, this would be the point at which I’d throw up my hands, say thank you, and leave the meeting. Booyah.

dododobabadow.JPG

Really, it’s the little victories. Although, not knowing its location was sort of a special mystery to me in itself. But as we say in law school – can’t unring that bell. And the reality was different than the image you have in your head – if you haven’t been there either. Those ladies are almost hidden in plain sight. At Steiner and Hayes.

And Some Days, The City Surprises You

When I looked at the day’s to-do list, littered with the things for which I’ll have no time after next Tuesday, I thought, “well, at the very least, I should have some energetic, angry blogging in me later.”

I was wrong.

The two biggest items on the list: 1) Check up on a protest I’d filed with DPT and 2) Take care of a stack of car-related, DMV paperwork. DPT and DMV in one day? I’d be lucky not to go USPS.

But I didn’t.

I hit DPT first, after what I figured would be the lunch rush. I found metered parking a few paces from the 10th & Howard offices. Inside, I set off a metal detector, but was never searched (nor was my bag). Instead, an initially testy security guard asked why I was there. And he wasn’t looking for a simple reason. No, he wanted details – which caught me off guard and led to our mutual frustration as I stammered through the convoluted “I don’t deserve this ticket that isn’t even mine” story. Eventually, he sent me to windows 3 – 6 – in other words, the mildly long line in the overheated room.

As the clock ticked, I began to worry that I hadn’t adequately fed the meter. The thought of getting ticketed while I was in the DPT office was just too much. With minutes to spare, I made it to an open window where the woman handed me another protest form, which I filled out and gave to . . . . the security guard. Who suddenly turned nice, made me a copy, and filed it for me. Go fig. I rescued my car with 4 meter-minutes to spare.

Next up – DMV paperwork. One word, er, 3 letters: AAA. A hidden jem of a perk – besides their always-helpful roadside assistance – most AAA locations offer DMV services such as registration, license plate pick-up, and title transfers. There was a line, but nothing like what I’d imagine exists at the DMV itself – but it was still an overheated room (theme of the day, I guess). In 20 minutes, I’d passed through the line, taken care of everything, and walked out the door not only with less of a headache than expected, but no headache at all.

Bravo, city servants and AAA employees. Thanks for exceeding my every expectation.

The Universe Within

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In the cold glare of the autopsy lab she was doing her job, a job she enjoyed, resecting the thoracic viscera. She put her hands around the heart and gently brought it out of the chest cavity placing it on the cutting board. Even though it was well into the early morning hours her hands held steady. With careful incisions the heart lay open in sections. She removed tissue slices to be examined under the microscope. This was only the beginning…

If you’ve been thinking of making a career move to Medical Examiner/Coroner, or if you get a kick from watching the cast on CSI pass body parts around you will enjoy THIS EXHIBIT.

May 25
I have an update on this post. Many questions are being asked about the bodies used in this exhibit. ABC TV is investigating.

The exhibit runs through September 4
Nob Hill Masonic Center Exhibition Hall
1111 California Street,
San Francisco, CA 94108

NOTE: The Franklin Institute Science Museum hosts “Body Worlds: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies” from Oct. 7–April 23. 2006 Philadelphia Pa.

Walk-In Movies Celebrate 5th Year

Wow, has it been that long? It seems like yesterday when founder BJ Heinley started the Walk-In Movies projected onto the side of his house…we supplied him with the speakers, he came with the projector, movies, an old-school popcorn machine, and boom! An instant hit. The Heinley’s have since moved to Austin TX, and we have our speakers back, but the Walk-Ins are now being hosted by Potrero resident Derek Dukes (with permission from the new home-owners). It can get chilly, so bring warm gear.

Next Movie:
GODZILLA:
KING OF THE MONSTERS!
(original American version)
directed by Ishiro Honda, 1956

Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Movie starts at 7:30pm

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