Archive for October, 2006

Graz, Austria: the Fiftieth Metblog

I’m pleased to announce that the long-awaited fiftieth Metroblogging site is launching today! Graz just went up, joining one other site in Austria (Vienna) and seven in Europe. Click on over and say hello!

Image from Schoffer, via Metroblogging Graz. Reminds me of some of the stenciled paintings we have here.

Quaint historic downtown Monterey

monterey plaza

Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

I don’t think there’s a “Monterey Metroblog”, but it still counts as a suburb of San Francisco, right? Quaint historic downtown swarms at night with the oddly restrained drunken revelry of conference-goers on the loose, in this case, “Internet Librarian 2006” people still wearing their badges as they quaff martinis and eat really bad “italian” food. (The closer you are to a convention center, the worse the food is… I ‘m talking to you, Cibo Ristorante Italiano!) On the main drag, Alvarado, you can eat gelato at 10pm while scruffy dudes with guitars and dogs accost you to ask for change and discuss your “cool hair” and tell interminable stories about harrassment by cops. Distant orking, mad bellowing too, from sea lions under the piers mingles with the sort-of-artificial bustle of tourists and convention people. I have the eerie feeling that no one actually lives here except people who wash otters for a living and the owners of “boutiques”.

I was trying to explain “Why the street names are often in Spanish” to my 6-year-old. “Well, California used to be part of Mexico and I think this was the capital.” “But Mom, you said Texas also part of Mexico. Was all of the US used to be part of Mexico? How come?” “No… just most of the Southwest. How come is because there was a war 150 years ago and the U.S. won it and stole a whole bunch of land.” Next I’ll be giving him one of those “Marx for Kids” comic books. Actually, we’re about ready for Ilan Stavans’ comic book Latino history, an excellent book, maybe a little intense for 6 years old, but hey, so are most things.

Monterey is insanely pretty & gorgeous with sun and a slight breeze. I’m going to the beach – just me and my kid and the seals; the proper tourists will all be somewhere else, right?

East of the sun, west of the moon, parking in hyperspace

no parking to the east

Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

My experience in Seattle (I know, wrong city) was mediated heavily by my rental car and parking. First off, there’s the problem of wanting to gawk at Mount Rainier, which I saw two days in a row, off in the distance from every highway. I wonder if freeway accidents correlate with clear days? Second, the directions from my friend to pick him up at work. “Go down Madison, pass the stoplight, pass this little business on the right side that used to be a deli, then the gas station, which of course I ‘ve never been to since I’ve never had a car, then go a little further, up a hill, and I’m really aware of hills since I’m on a bike, and keep going, and then you’ll pass 17th, and then at the corner of…” (etc.) The short version of this was “exit at Madison and then park at 20th and Madison”. The long baroque version laden with hints to virtue had the character of the city, whose streets often don’t go through and whose parking signs postmodern-ish-ly defy logic, time, and space.

No parking to the east, no parking to the west, no parking within 32.6 feet of this sign in any direction, no stopping; but on the very same block, a sensible machine for paying for a parking sticker, which all the other parked cars have on them. Which version of reality to believe?

I felt a virtuous glow of guilt and anxiety as I circled the block a million times, finally parked, and took the bus.

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Super Slow Strength Training in SF

My brother and I once discovered that we were both separately reading the same book at the same time. The book was about endurance marathons – the races where people run literally hundreds of miles at a stretch, pushing themselves to the very limit of human capability. Although we had both thought to read the book at the same time, my brother and I had completely opposite reactions to it. My brother, a natural athlete, was immediately inspired to go out and run until he could run no more, challenged by the inspiration that someone else could do such a thing and live to tell about it and also motivated by his love of the runner’s high. Me? Well, I’m not a natural athlete. The idea of pushing myself until I fall over or projectile vomit or lose toenails in my shoes as described by the marathon runner holds absolutely zero appeal for me. And besides, I hate to run.

In fact, I actually hate most forms of exercise, which goes against an intellectual belief that exercise is an important part of life. I usually do it begrudgingly. Until now. I am living proof that even the most non-athletic, anti-exertion, would-much-rather-be-reading kind of person can eventually find a type of exercise that works for her. I had tried gyms, running routes, hiking (which I liked for awhile but found inconvenient when I moved here), yoga, dance, videos … and pretty much everyone, especially me, thought that I was just doomed to loathe exercise. Then, through a series of fortuitious meetings, I found super slow strength training. (Wow, does this read like a testimonial or what?! And I’m so happy with myself about this one that I am okay with that!!)

Orchards and cows and computers

The view from my officeI thought I would give an office view update, inspired by Poormojo’s post. My mood is so much better this past week, ever since I moved back into an office with a window. And this is the best view that I have had in the five years I have worked at (that big tech company in San Jose).

While it doesn’t compare to the San Francisco office view, looking out over orchards and cows isn’t a bad way to spend the day if I have to be hunched over my computer working.

The juxtaposition between the pastoral scene outside and the high-tech work that we are doing inside still makes me stop, reflect, and think of words like “juxtaposition.”

Local Boy Done Good – Gene Yang

Mark wrote about the nominations for the National Book Awards, and the finalists were mentioned… Gene Yang of Oakland/Saratoga, is a finalist- he wrote a touching entry on his blog about finding out that he was a finalist. Also, a review in this weekend’s Chronicle. He’s a teacher in Oakland and grew up in Saratoga. Go Gene! Can’t wait to read his graphic novel American Born Chinese.

His note on getting interviewed by prestigious World Journal:

The reporter from the Chronicle called early in the morning and politely made an appointment. The reporter from the World Journal came into my classroom completely unannounced, before the school day was over, while I was working with students. It reminded me of something a Chinese uncle would do. Maybe this is why some folks think all Chinese people are related – we treat each other like relatives. Luckily it was an MP period (sort of like Study Hall, except with computers) and I was able to speak with her for a while. (And, in case you’re wondering, I wasn’t mad at all. It was an honor. The World Journal is more highly regarded than the New York Times by my parents and their friends.)

Guides to voting on our dozens of ballot measures

Today is the last day Californians can register to vote, so if you’ve been putting it off until the last minute let it be known that the last minute is swiftly ticking by.

If you are unsure as to whom and what to vote for in the upcoming election, the Chron and the Guardian both have issued their recommendations. I’d recommend looking into your propositions and ballot measures early, as there are a hefty amount of them this year. Also, print out your voting guides a few days ahead of time in case someone knocks the Guardian offline with a denial of service attack again and you are unable to see what they endorse.

Bridge School Benefit

The Shoreline was packed, blanket edge to blanket edge, and yet it didn’t feel crowded at all. The south-of-San Francisco venue was brimming with love and openness and the kind of friendly banter that makes it perfectly acceptable to be in such close proximity to so many strangers. The weather was astounding. The music was majestic. And the cause was more than just a good one. The Bridge School Benefit took place on both Saturday and Sunday, featuring all acoustic music from performers as different from one another as Trent Reznor and Brian Wilson. And although I can think of pages and pages to say about the event, I can think of nothing negative to note at all.

101N: Losing It

My high school friend has an anecdote: “Anna got lost once, on the way to my house…” that is, we both lived about a mile from each other and yes, I got lost in suburban jungle of cul-de-sacs and streets all named after trees. My defense: the monotony is confusing! So I got lost again this morning…

On being a tall man in a short city

I went shopping for costume bits yesterday afternoon in the Upper Haight. The weather was glorious and the panhandle–especially–was full of The Love. My partner-in-crime and I stopped by the Goodwill, La Rosa Vintage, Wasteland and Held Over. She found an awesome used wedding dress at Held Over, where they had over a bazillion to choose from (it’s totally true, I counted them all myself.) But I had no luck at all finding a used suit. Why you ask? And I’m so very glad you asked, it’s because all of the suits at the used clothing stores are made for men much shorter than I. Much much shorter. Way shorter. Possibly even Hella shorter.

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