Archive for July, 2009

That’s our Tim

lincecum_at_all_star_presserSan Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, slated to start the All Star Game Tuesday, attended a press conference in his usual casual fashion. From The Splash blog of Chronicle sportswriter John Shea:

Lincecum … just appeared at a news conference with the managers and the other starting pitcher, Roy Halladay. While Halladay was dressed as if were attending a business meeting, Lincecum showed up in torn blue jeans, an untucked shirt and a wool cap.

The picture is from the MLB.com coverage of the event.

‘Nearest Tube’ stop to become ‘Nearest Subway’ in SF

The British company acrossair is supposed to expand its “Nearest Tube” application for the iPhone 3GS — changed to “Nearest Subway” for the US market — to San Francisco today. The app uses GPS to overlay a subway map on the phone’s live video feed to tell users where the nearest station is.

It should be a simple feat in San Francisco, which has only two subway lines. But checking the acrossair website shows information only for the London and New York versions, and even those are said to be “launching as soon as Apple approves it!”

Update a day later: Speaking of BART, Streetsblog draws attention to the transit system’s “data transparency,” meaning that it allows anyone to use live data from its train control system to build applications, and lists the resulting applications on its website.

Giants’ lefty Sanchez tosses no-hitter

jonathan_sanchez_victory_celebration_by_david_gallagher
Players mob pitcher Jonathan Sanchez after completion of his no-hitter. Flickr photo by David Gallagher

The Giants’ Jonathan Sanchez, a 27-year-old left-hander who had recently been demoted to the bullpen, threw a no-hitter tonight in a 8-0 win over the visiting San Diego Padres.

Sanchez was perfect into the 8th inning before third baseman Juan Uribe booted a ground ball. Ignoring the anomaly, Sanchez pitched a perfect 9th, assisted by a stunning play against the center field fence by Aaron Rowand for the second out. (See video of the catch.) Sanchez tossed his 11th stikeout of the game for the third out of the 9th. Box score.

Catching was backup receiver Eli Whiteside, a 29-year-old rookie who was in the game because regular catcher Benjie Molina was at the side of his wife, who was giving birth.

The Giants’ offense was led by fan favorite Pablo Sandoval, whose three-run home run in the 5th was hit to the deepest part of the right-center field arcade.

Sanchez, who was demoted to the bullpen two weeks ago after a 2-8 start to the season, made the start only as a replacement for injured pitcher Randy Johnson.

Nonprofit of the day: Kiva.org

Kiva.org, a San Francisco nonprofit with international reach, connects westerners with disposable income with entrepreneurs needing microloans — typically, a few hundred dollars to expand a home-based business. Kiva’s website features pictures of would-be recipients and allows would-be lenders to finance their projects. According to the group, ninety-seven percent of loans are repaid on time; the total default rate is less than 1%.

kyrgyzstan_farmersUntil this summer, Kiva focussed on lending (what in the U.S. are) small amounts of money for third-worlders (pictured at left, a group of farmers in Kyrgyzstan). Kiva was so successful that in December they actually ran out of people to lend money to and had to turn away lenders. So starting in June, the group began allowing American entrepreneurs to solicit money on the site. This has led to a backlash as some Kiva lenders protest that Americans don’t need the money bad enough.

Whatever. There are still plenty of deserving third world people on the kiva.org website who need your money, and will pay it back with interest.

East Bay neon — photo exhibit

ivy_roomIf you’ve ever driven on San Pablo Avenue in the East bay through Albany and El Cerrito, you’ve noticed a plethora of old neon signs on the bars, restaurants and stores (Pictured at left: the sign in front of the Ivy Room on San Pablo and Solano in nearby Albany.)

Courtesy Thomas Hawk — The work of five East Bay photographers appears in a show of pictures of East Bay neon signs at the Fingado Art Gallery in El Cerrito. The opening reception is Friday, July 10 from 7-9.

Nonprofit of the day: Donors Choose

When I was a high school teacher in the mid-80s, each of the teachers was allowed x number of copies per semester. I had 5 classes of about 28 kids each. Want to know how many copies I was allowed to make for the whole semester? 150. That’s right. 150 impressions on the xerox machine. So I figured out how to run the ancient blue-chemical mimeograph machine in the corner of the Social Studies Resource Room.

Another vignette: One day during a summer school session, I broke up a fight in the hall. My shirt was torn, and frankly I couldn’t afford to buy too many shirts in those days. I went to the principal and reported the incident, and asked naively, “How do I get reimbursed for my shirt which was torn in the line of duty?” Instead of laughing out loud, the patient man said, “There is no budget for that, but tell you what: I’ll open up the supply closet and you can take a box full of stuff.” Yes, that was the compensation for my torn shirt: the principal unlocked the supply closet, which was normally shut tight. That’s the kind of poverty mentality that pervades the public schools. And if you think it’s gotten better since the 1980s, you haven’t been reading the newspapers.

So I’m a little ambivalent about the Donors Choose thing. On the one hand, it allows you to give direct help for specific purposes to classrooms in your town. And they are super good, almost too good, about accountability. Not only do you get an acknowledgement of your donation, you get pictures of the happy, happy kids using the art supplies or whatever you have donated.

On the other hand, there’s a certain pathetic quality about the requests. $200 for 70 copies of a book for kids to read. $250 for a set of math resource materials. $700 for a classroom set of dictionaries.

Dictionaries, people. There are elementary school classrooms in this country without enough dictionaries. How many millions of dollars did that Michael Jackson memorial cost? What the fuck are we doing as a country?

If you can see the website through your tears of rage, I suggest using it to find a worthy project, something you can make a difference on, and giving them money. And then, when you get back the thank-yous and the pictures and all, consider forming a permanent relationship with the school or the teacher you helped.

Nonprofit of the day: Friends of the Urban Forest

There are more than a dozen trees on my block now; when I bought my house, on the edge of Bernal Heights a few doors from Cesar Chavez St., there were only three. Each of those trees was put in for free, planted by volunteers from Friends of the Urban Forest, a San Francisco nonprofit that’s planted tens of thousands of trees on San Francisco streets since its start in 1981. You can see a gallery of San Francisco street trees on their website, which also links to a map of city flora. The Chronicle did an article on the tree map recently.

Not only will they come and plant a tree in front of your house for free, they’ll maintain it for free, replace old trees which have lived out their lives, and employ young people while they’re at it. They involve neighbors and homeowners in their Saturday planting days, because when people help plant the tree in front of their house, they’re more likely to care for it. I love the two trees in front of my house, each now more than ten years old.

They’re planting in Noe Valley this coming Saturday. Contact them and help out.

Nonprofit of the day: Mission Graduates

Many years ago, I was a high school teacher at Mission High School. I served for a summer, a whole year, and another summer. After that the jobs ran dry, I became a sub, got tired of that and went to Japan, and when I came back did one more summer school.

Even though that was more than 20 years ago for me, I still feel a lot of affection for Mission High and the way it allows families to pursue their dreams for their kids. Now, courtesy Mission Local, I just ran across a nonprofit called Mission Graduates which runs a tutoring center and other programs for the neighborhood kids. Because if it’s anything like it was when I was teaching there, a lot of kids need more help than they can get in a class of, say, 30. Check ‘em out.

‘Moneyball’ film cancelled by nervous studio

The film of the Michael Lewis book Moneyball, which is about the machinations of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, has been cancelled just days before shooting was to begin. The New York Times reported that the cancellation is a sign of a new level of nervousness in Hollywood; in this case even the casting of Brad Pitt to play the baseball brainiac, much less the fact that over $10 million had been spent on development, location scouting, costumes and other preparations, was not enough to keep the project going.

Previously: Book on A’s GM to lens; Brad Pitt will play Billy Beane

Karl Malden, a square among hipsters, dead at 97

douglas_maldenKarl Malden, who played the utterly square middle-aged detective to young Micheal Douglas’s hipper character on “The Streets of San Francisco,” is dead at age 97.

Last year there was some talk of reviving the “Streets of San Franicsco” franchise. But it’s hard to imagine it without Malden.

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