Archive for August, 2009

Mason St. Garden

Mason garden
Sorry for left alignment, can’t figure out that aspect of this site :)

The neighborhood of North Beach has created a garden, from Columbus Ave to Lombard St. It’s cool. The few times I’ve walked by there’s been folks enjoying it. A woman reading a book, a guy eating his lunch, school kids sitting and eating. I heard that this was a “put it in, see if it works” experiment, between the library and the parking lot (“the triangle”) that is under development. City officials were involved, and as you can see there are new trees, greenery, stumps for sitting, etc.

The posted rules include an ominous “no food preparation that involves a health department permit” and oddly “no amplified music” but otherwise it’s a true neighborhood, scrappy endeavor.

I for one thought that right turn from Columbus, onto Mason, was one of the most dangerous corners in the city. I’ve seen a pedestrian get clipped, and always thought it was a matter of time before something really bad happened. It’s downhill for cars, after the traffic jam of downtown North Beach, so they’re racing through it. For pedestrians, it’s an uphill slog that takes a while, and the library entrance is within a few feet meaning there’s kids streaming out of there all times of day.

Sandoval marks one-year Panda-versary

panda_smashOne year ago today, Pablo Sandoval of Venezuela made his big-league debut with the Giants.

Today, he is quickly becoming the team center. Fans are wearing panda masks (some frightening, some just plain stupid) around the ballpark, getting jerseys made with “PANDOVAL” on the back, and generally acting like grateful fools. It’s been a long time since we had someone we could really, truly love on the Giants — as opposed to someone we admired but who made us nervous (Bonds), someone we adored but whose godlike talents in the field set him on a pedestal (Vizquel), and someone before whom we simply stand in awe (Lincecum).

Sandoval’s Kung Fu Panda nickname was bestowed by Barry Zito after a play last year where he jumped over a Dodgers catcher to score a run, but it just as fittingly applies to Sandoval’s quickness at third base, where his acrobatics have been compared to Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson. He can and has done all of the following this year: play catcher, first base, and third base; hit 17 home runs and lead the team in RBIs; shown startling quickness and a terrific arm at the third base corner, fallen down on the base paths a couple of times; and yesterday sparked a benches-clearing tussle after being grazed by a James McDonald pitch and then angrily barking and gesturing at the pitcher.

Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum is called “the Franchise” for his potential long-term value to the team; fellow pitcher Matt Cain has matched him win for win this year. But it’s Sandoval, who plays the game with joy, who is the heart and soul of the team, and the hands-down fan favorite.

Biking to Work: Day 3

Little snapshot of life blogpost here. I’m commuting to the East Bay, via bike, from North Beach.

Day 1: Notice the sign on Embarcadero turnstile, “no bikes during commuter hours, 7-9AM” (It’s 10AM). Started this long discussion on FriendFeed. I’m sweaty and exhausted at work, and it’s worst going home- where every staircase is uphill (a quirk of going from an underground station to an overground one).

Day 2: Instead of biking up Embarcadero- which is wind tunnel every which hour or way or day- tack up the streets on the East side of Telegraph Hill. Less wind, a little more distance. I run into an old friend on BART, and I realize the social aspect of public transit cannot be overrated.

Day 3: It all goes by in a blur. It’s faster and becoming rote. I’m not as tired, it’s easier, and I start noticing the signs of approaching fall- ripening fruit on trees, the earlier darkness, and realize it’s great to be outside so much, each day, but still be able to get everything done work-wise and after-work-wise.

Back into the car Monday for the BART strike.

BART strike likely on Monday

strikersTalks between Bay Area Rapid Transit management and unions broke down today, leading to the likelihood of a strike as early as Monday. Giving a 72-hour notice to the public as required by law, union leaders announced a strike would begin early on Monday morning.

Go to 511.org for the latest information, along with help planning your commute if the system shuts down. You can also follow the action on Twitter with the #bartstrike hashtag.

A BART strike could completely shut down the system, or it could run at a vastly reduced schedule with trains operated by management. Read this LA Times article about the 1997 strike, which shut down the system. In 2005, another strike threatened, but was averted, and commuters were relieved.

The strike is the result of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents station agents and train drivers, rejecting BART contract proposals and voting to authorize a strike, after which the other two unions at BART announced they would honor the ATU picket line. The breakdown in negotiations came after representatives of all three unions had reached a tentative agreement with BART on July 31.

Actually this is probably the best possible time for a BART strike. UC Berkeley summer school ends tomorrow. Twenty percent of people are on vacation, plus another ten or fifteen percent are unemployed in the first place. The Giants begin an 11-game road series tomorrow. It seems there will be little reason to cross the bay at all — so tomorrow, go to work, get your laptop, and stay home next week.

However, CalTrans plans to shut the Bay Bridge over Labor Day weekend. BART had been planning to run trains 24 hrs a day that weekend to make up for the closure. If the BART strike lasts into Labor Day weekend, the result could be a real nightmare.

How to tell when someone has been watching too many movies

Batman no. 1SF Gate: An Oakland man was locked out of his apartment, so he made it up to the roof and then, using a “cord,” tried to rappel down to his window. This happened about 1:30 in the morning, if you want a clue.

He fell four stories and is now in Highland Hospital with two broken ankles, among other injuries.

Angry mob assails long-time Healdsburg peace demo

On the Open Salon site, Clio Tarazi, writing as “Stellaa,” wrote this morning about witnessing an incident on the town square in Healdsburg, a wine country town about 70 miles north of San Francisco on US 101, where every Thursday at 6 pm some residents of the town gather for an hour-long peace vigil. Last night, she writes, a group of out-of-towners, possibly people on a wine country tour, began yelling insults at the demonstrators — some ten townspeople — then crossed the street and began screaming in their faces.

The vigil holders stood up to them … pulled away a woman who was the most aggressive, and they walked away shaking their heads and fists. Their faces were contorted from anger.

The bullies had this look on their face of having done something virtuous — a gleeful, high-five, we-kicked-their-butts look. I had my phone, but did not think of taking pictures of the brutish expressions on their faces. I cussed at them as they walked by and glared at them. There were not enough people on the square to shame them.

There was something grotesque about them calling the man holding the “Hiroshima, Never Again” sign all kinds of vulgar names in the name of patriotism and America.

The writer goes on to wonder whether this confrontation was an outgrowth of the protests against health care reform orchestrated by business interests and lobbying groups.

It will be interesting to see what happens during next week’s peace demonstration in Healdsburg.

Dorothy Allison, Adam Savage headline Writers With Drinks

Dorothy Allison

Novelist Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina, Cavedweller, Trash) headlines Writers with Drinks this Saturday. She is an amazing live reader and you will be a better person for hearing and seeing her.

Also on the bill is “Mythbusters” star Adam Savage — not sure what he’ll be up to, but maybe he’ll be able to duplicate his goofy screen presence. Also appearing are science fiction author Steven Barnes, author Mary Miller, and Clint Catalyst.

Dreamboat Beth Lisick guest hosts. Writers with Drinks is Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7:30 pm at the Makeout Room on 22nd St. near Mission.

San Joaquin trains now on Google Transit

san_joaquin_routeCourtesy Jackson West, this post on the Trillium Solutions blog: Amtrak’s San Joaquin trains, which run between San Jose, Martinez, and Bakersfield, are now in the Google Transit system.

That means you can see them listed among mass transit options when planning your trip to the Buck Owens Crystal Palace or to see the awesome classic neon signs that Thomas Hawk recently blogged about.

I said when planning your trip. It’s Amtrak, you know, so don’t time things too closely. That said, the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin trains are said to be among the best in on-time performance.

Trains near LA, Chicago and New York City have also been added.

SF left off Nissan’s list of cities for electric car pilot

2009-08-04-nissanleaf-thumbDespite SF Mayor Gavin Newsom’s pledge to make San Francisco electric vehicle-friendly, our greener-than-thou city is off the list of locales where Nissan will test-market its new electric Leaf model, seen at right.

Selected were Seattle, San Diego, Phoenix and Tucson, and the states of Oregon and Tennessee.

The project is being run by an Arizona company, eTec, which makes the chargers.

Marketers at play in the city

giant_laptopIncoming! The parachutists landing along the bayfront from Marina Green to the Ferry Building between noon and 3:00 today are part of a promotion for T-Mobile’s new phones.

And Radio Shack, which is going to try to re-brand itself as “The Shack” (good luck with that!), will put up “giant laptops” in San Francisco’s Justin Hermann Plaza and New York’s Times Square and invite C-list celebrities to lead audiences in both locales in bi-coastal games. The picture at left is an artist’s rendering of what the event is supposed to look like; click on the photo to be taken to the large, very creepy-looking and unintentionally hilarious hi-res version of what they imagine the event will look like, complete with multiple images of the same computer-generated peeps standing in the same pose at several places in the image.

The “giant laptops” are really just screens and cameras set up to beam SF’s image to NY and vice-versa; unfortunately the keyboards are not functional, a spokesperson told me. The “laptops” will be set up from Thursday to Saturday.

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