Friday, July 30, 2004


We used City Car Share for the first time this past weekend. What a joy to not have to look for parking.

I want to leave a book in each car we take out and see if city car share will allow people to leave a little record, giving each of the car a name and a personality of sort. Create a little community among the car drivers, a shared history. This car has been and done a lot.

And I saw another frog today again!

Thursday, July 29, 2004


Been running into frogs left and right, nearly one a day for the last week. Mostly ex-frogs. Some intentionally but many randomly. Kind of bizarre

the way

The way forward... i was actually trying to take a picture of fast moving fog, but my camera was being difficult.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Patch of Light

Patch of the Sunny Mission

The Last of the Sunny Mission, shot just below the Randall museum on the way to a lecture by the fabulous illustrator John Muir Laws.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Who decided on the value of a second

Last night, my overwrought brain decided to fasten onto bizarre thoughts and worries about time keeping. "If only we could restablish the value of a second," I thought. "We'd be to fix all the problems we have with time keeping."

This morning, of course, all I could think of is "What problems did I think it would solve, exactly?"

It does lead to an interesting question in waking life, however -- who did establish the values that are now part of our everyday life, and why?

An unrelated photo:
over fort mason - an accusing finger?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Concert Review

The Stern Grove concert series was one of those things I'd always heard about, and usually about a day too late. It always sounded like it might be fun, but then it's a concert and I've never been a big fan of music concerts. Mainly, because crowds tend to irritate me, secondarily because I've only a couple times have I ever felt the performer was worth suffering the crowds for (if all they do is rehash the music that sounds nice and beautiful in my own home in exactly the same way: why bother, watching people prance about the stage just ain't all that interesting IMHO).

But I decided to go, thanks mainly to the timely intervention of my friend Gretchen who for Women in Action organized seats and food for the concert. I even dragged a reluctant wife (who usually is much keener than I on going to concerts) and another not so reluctant friend.

The performer was Youssou N'Dour a singer from Senegal. With a local opening act: The West African High Life band. The meadow in front of the concert stand was packed by the time the concert began, people camped out on blankets with pinics spread about them, enjoying the warm foggy day we were having. A warm foggy day may seem like an oxymoron to anyone who knows San Francisco, but they do happen occassionally.

If per chance you were cold by the time the concert began, the music ended up compelling most people to their feet, and the meadow by the end of the day was filled with warm, happy and grooving people, waving their arms, hooting and hollering their pleasure.

Our corner of the meadow quickly became a magnet for dancers trying to get closer to the front, but we weren't trampled too badly and most people were polite about it. The crowd was actually half the interest because it seemed like there was something of everything there: young, old, thin, fat, hippy, preppy, hip, hawaiin shirted, white, black and many a shade in between. The crowd splayed about the meadow, looked, as liz put it, as if someone had sprayed blotches of paint across the place. The funnest to watch were a group of African men and women who obviously knew the songs, and all the motions, word for word, waving Sengalese flags, smiles permanently painted on their faces.

The only real unhappiness I saw was two guys getting busted for smoking a joint in a particularly dumb place.

We left a little early, leaving the concert to the swelling voice of N'Dour as he sang a song about Africa that -- without understanding a word -- brought tears to the eye.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004



From a wander in China Basin near the new UCSF buildings.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Poking around Polk Street

Wednesday, my department spent our day hanging out on Angel Island for our yearly retreat. It was a gorgeous day, more like September than July, so I took my time as I headed home.

It occured to me as I was walking along, after imbibing a fine pastry and coffee with a friend at Polk boulangerie, that Polk Street is just about as perfect a cross section of San Francisco as you can get: one end sitting at a tourist destination, the other at the civic center; it edges the Tenderloin (and area known for its drugs and prostitution), past one Megaplex, past one indie theater, past bars of all manner and clientel, coffeeshops, a bookstore or two, odd little stores, junk shops, specialty shops, gift shops, second-hand stores, frame shops, all manner of restuarants from haughty french ones to the greasy Picaddily fish and chips shop.

It's a great street.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Carless not careless

We gave up our car this past week, sold it to Liz's cousin who needed it much more than we did. Our new neighborhood's parking situation killed any desire to keep it. It simply no longer made economic sense, but it was a hard thing to do, especially when the car seemed intent on making it a long and difficult process. It failed it's smog test which led to costs higher than what we'd planned to sell it for, not to mention several frustrating days for Liz trying to deal with car mechanics. If you counted the maintenance we had earlier in the year and tickets, and insurance and all that good stuff we sold it for probably a third of what we paid into it.

Both of us drove it around the last couple days timidly, fully expecting it was going to get hit by another car, have a window broken, be towed or something else to further incur hardship and pain.

Liz's cousin was very excited to have it, and in the end, I think we feel good about it being in her hands. In lieu of our own car we are now signed up for City Car Share which provides cars, insurance, and gas to get you around the city and locally on short hops. We'll see how it goes, but I have high hopes for it -- even though it means we have to plan our car trips more carefully.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


I recently spent too long in IKEA. IKEA if you don't know it is a business that sells furniture. It's owner has recently overtaken Gates as the richest man in the world, and it is easy to see why.

It's brilliant stuff IKEA furniture, and we could wish our computers were as easy to use (Gates may have remained #1 if they were). It's not that every piece of furniture is a snap, but all the different kinds of things you can get there, the way the furniture fits together, and just the sheer engineering marvel that it is. I would love to see the process by which a piece is developed, and how that process evolved. That would make a good documentary.

The stores, however, are -- at least to me -- a nightmare. The floor layout is a bit like lines to a Disney ride: you can never see the destination so it feels like you are walking forever. So it's easy to spend hours wandering from one place to another trying to make a decision. And the first time you go, and having walked the first floor only to discover that there is a whole other second floor of accessories. Walking in there with low blood sugar is a recipe for disaster, and you can see little couple explosions happening left and right. I can't imagine going in there with kids. It would make for a great reality TV show: give newlywed couples with kids a certain amount of money and time to furnish their houses.

Interestingly enough, they sell food at a couple points in the store (swedish meatballs in the main one!). At the middle and at the end. I always wondered why not at the start, furthermore I wonder what percentage of their profits come from the concessions. Is the furniture just a great way to sell meatballs? :-)

The fascinating things about the stores though is that they show an amazing diversity of people descending upon them: Caucasions, Hispanics, Asian, Indians, Sikhs, Arabs, rich, poor, young, old. Like an airport, it's a great place for people watching if you are not in the middle of your own decisions.

It's great in many ways to see that, but at the same time, one has to wonder what happened to all the furniture that those people used to buy. And by extension, this is the question for globalization: what do we gain by our homogenization, and what are we losing.

Book Review: Holes

Great children/teen's book about a kid stuck in a Juvenile Delinquints camp digging holes in the desert. I don't want to say more cause I might ruin it.

Book Review: 1066

My Mom gave me this little book probably a couple years ago now called 1066. I've always had a fascination for the Norman Conquest. Picked up little tidbits of the history. Acted and gave a speech as Guillaume Le Conquerant in High School French class. And when I travelled through Normandy I went through the brilliant little museum built around the Bayeux tapestry. Recently, I was very sad to have to leave my apartment numbered 1066 and move elsewhere.

Some of my Irish ancestors may possibly have been Norman, and my parents had named me "Adrian" which is the name of the first English pope gave himself. That pope was the one who encouraged King Henry II of England -- a century later -- to annex Ireland. It had a neat little circularity in my mind.

Anyway, the book, written by David Howarth, is fabulous, and I would recommend it to nearly anyone who has an interest in history. It is a puzzle solution of sorts: picking pieces of stories, taking educated guesses and making suppositions from a patchwork of Norse, English, French and Latin sources; weighing the alternative versions of stories; separating propoganda from possible fact; and tying it altogether.

What comes out is a exciting and sad tale of the fall of Kingdom: The machinations of various characters; the steadfastness of the English King Harold; England's nascent parliament; William the Bastard's drive to become William the Conquerer; the bezerker king Harald; and how through chance everything fell to pieces for the English. It would make a great movie, and it is a wonder that Hollywood has not plundered it already. It makes me want to write a screenplay and story board it all out. (yes another project)

For me, it was amazing to see a story that I was already very familiar with, flower into this much larger and even more interesting thing.