Archive for the ‘Outside’ Category

Who’s going to space?

Wired magazine has a hilarious and fascinating piece on training for space tourists, those wealthy former businessmen who cashed out companies and thus have $30 million to blow on a year in training and a week in space on the shuttle. (One of the men profiled in the piece — and they’re always men — refers to himself using the ghastly neologism “thrillionaire.”) As a Russian press liaison says about the attitude toward these dilletantes: “People say it is better to send monkey.”

Then there’s the old-fashioned way: earn it. Not the money, but the job. Meet Megan McArthur, Ph.D. (pictured at right), who went to high school in Mountain View and whose parents live in San Jose. McArthur will be blasting off in October to operate the Big Robot Arm — I’m sure it has a less colorful NASA-like acronym — on a mission to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope.

Tassajara reopens, still needs to recover lost funds

Tassajara Zen Center, which closed to visitors for several weeks and was saved from burning by the efforts of fire crews and a few “fire-fighting monks,” has reopened for visitors. The buildings and facilities of the center [map], which was first opened in the late 1960s by San Francisco Zen Center monks who adapted a crumbling summer resort into the largest Zen monastery in the U.S., were mostly untouched by the fire, which burned over and past the monastery on July 10. An archive of news stories is here.

But being closed for several weeks during the summer tourist season means much lost revenue for the non-profit center, which hosts visitors throughout the summer and uses the money to run its Zen study programs for the rest of the year. A plea for donations has recovered only 50% of lost revenue. You can donate by clicking the button at the bottom of their firefighting story.

‘Glasses’ is a ‘Zen comedy’ at SFIFF
Hartford Street Zen Center remembers John King
Visiting the San Francisco Zen Center
Zen masters, freedom, and blogging

AT&T Wants To Take The Easy Way Out

Many San Franciscans have waited a long time for utilities to move underground, at great expense of time and money to each homeowner who was lucky enough to have the utilities undergrounded in their neighborhood. The effort to underground utilities has made the city safer and cleared the skies of overhead wires.
Now AT&T would like to nullify that effort by “upgrading” their services and placing utility boxes above ground, in every neighborhood of the city. AT&T intends to upgrade its telecommunications network to a high-speed data transmission technology referred to as “Lightspeed.” In July 2007 AT&T posted flyers in the Inner Sunset neighborhood notifying residents of its intention to install above-ground utility boxes.

Subsequently the San Francisco Planning Department issued an environmental impact report finding that AT&T could move forward with its plans. AT&T immediately requested a permit from Public Works to begin installation. However, the permit was appealed by a neighborhood organization forcing a hearing before the Board of Supervisors. The Board will hear the appeal at its meeting on Tuesday, July 29th. The Board has the authority to deny the appeal or refer the matter back to the Planning Commission for review.


Pic of smoky ride down 80

Earlier this week descending from Tahoe I took this shot wondering if the smoke in the air would show up in the shot. Much of California is sitting under this smog, let’s hope for a weather pattern that helps snuff these fires. It’s looking apocalyptic in the regions of the state around these fires.


Where’s the fire?


Thanks to the internets, you can now see not only where the fire is, but where that damn smoke is coming from. Visit the Monterey Herald’s fire map.

Meanwhile, the heat lifted in San Francisco yesterday as the wind changed and the fog blew in. I’ll take it over smog any day.

Preview Presidio Renovations

100px-presidio_trust.jpgIn 1994, the Army turned the Presidio over to the national park system. And in doing so created one of the finest public spaces in SF and California. Originally founded approximately 1776, there are now plans to renovate some key sections of the Presidio, including the greening of what is now a parking lot, but what used to be called the Parade Ground. Along with building a tunnel for the Doyle drive approach to the Golden Gate bridge. The Parade grounds are lined by Barracks, which are mostly offices and at the southern edge where Donald Fisher wants to build a museum.

The tunnel plan is really interesting as it will connect the western edge of the Parade Grounds with the beachfront at the west end of Chrissy Field, whereas today if you were to walk from the parade grounds to the beach you would walk under the Doyle drive approach (it’s elevated freeway). This would also create some nice beach views from the newly recreated Parade grounds.


Funding? From what I’ve read it’s not fully evident where the money comes from. The current docs state:

To achieve its mission, the Trust generates revenues by leasing the park’s buildings. Federal appropriations diminish each year and will cease at the end of fiscal year 2012. The Trust uses these sources of funding to operate the park and undertake necessary capital improvements.

Overview of new area, parking and poll

The Reverse Graffiti Project

Ever heard of reverse graffiti? Neither had I until earlier today. Reverse graffiti artist Moose makes a big statement about clean in San Francisco’s Broadway Tunnel. Shot by documentarian Doug Pray. For most information visit


Disco inferno

Califnornia wildfires, 1 July 2008The Calif. Dept. of Forestry, in charge of fighting the hundreds of fires around the state, has posted a PDF of the major incidents as of this morning. An interactive Google Map is also available.

Meanwhile, the sky in the Bay Area cleared Sunday and yesterday. Today it’s overcast and foggy… And after last week’s horribly smoky conditions, now I don’t know if this overcast is part smoke or what.

One of the endangered spots is Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. They have a fire blog, Sitting with Fire; a feature in the L.A. Times a few days ago documented the outpost’s preparations for the worst. The resort-cum-monastery is closed at least until July 11.

90 Degrees and a Perfect Night for the Opera!

It’s going to be another warm night, so why not pack a blanket and picnic and head down the AT&T Park, tonight at 8pm!

The San Francisco will be showing a live simulcast of

Lucia di Lammermoor

…and it is FREE!

The park asks that you bring a blanket, if you intend to sit on the baseball field.

The simulcast will be projected in high definition on the park’s 3,200 square foot score board.

For advanced registration and more information;

Check out The San Francisco Opera’s Webpage

… and enjoy the weather tonight!

The Raven (Pic)

Juvenile Raven(s), Inner Sunset.


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