Thursday, December 31, 2009

Final SF Sunset for 2009

Not much sun thanks to the cloud cover but beautiful just the same.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I am Running....Revived

I started this blog to chronicle my runs and while it has strayed from its original intent, here is a post as it was meant to be.

I am running. That's right. Don't chase me or track me down.

Low clouds blanket The City taking off the regular chill. Headlamp...check, although it's not needed thanks to the moon, even behind the clouds. It breaks through every now and then to make sure we know it is there. A single spotlight atop The Transamerica building urges me up the hill...then a thousand lights applaud.

I am running. Don't try to call me, text me or track me down. Whatever it is it can wait. Besides, who cares. I am coming back with a clear state of mind.

An owl. Those foolish souls with earphones can't hear you greet them. Eucalyptus...then redwood, energizing scents push me further. The Bay is calm, flat and flirtatious. Lights flicker from all over. Richmond. Berkeley. Closer now than in daylight. Each step a different journey. Changes my eyes don't need to see.

Icons illuminated. Beacons at sea bright. The largest glow of all now crystal clear above me. No clocks. No demands. No question I am alive. I am running.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Grace Cathedral Holiday

So many things are so much more spectacular in San Francisco this time of year. I could walk around all day taking it all in.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ocean Beach Running

Never ending Ocean Beach. One more reason why running in SF can not be beat. Post-run shots on a crisp overcast yet gorgeous day.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Hike

While most tear through paper to find a gift, isn't the best gift all around us? Do you really need that Snuggie? Does Junior really need that video game? I will take this any day. Mt. Tamalpais, Steep Ravine Trail. Just 19 miles from San Francisco.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Living on a Cemetary

Luckily for me I don't believe in ghosts or the afterlife. I always knew the area where I live used to be a cemetary. This part of The City was full of cemetaries; Laurel Hill, The Chinese, Odds Fellows, Lone Mountain, Masonic, Calvary and others. As The City expanded the graves were moved to Colma just to the south. More dead people live in Colma than alive. The lone reminder is the Columbarium that is about 2 blocks from the apartment and the only place to rest for 'eternity' in SF. There are other reminders if you look close, like broken head stones used as filler for cement in some places. Inside the Columbarium are many of the names who built this fine city. Including one named Milk.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kris Kringle Chaos

Now that is a Santa I like and a holiday tradition worth keeping around. A few snaps from Santarchy...a gathering of fun loving Santa's that started in San Francisco (where else) and has grown world-wide.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Crab Season

It is Dungeness Crab season. I can buy them at the Ferry Building for $5.99 per pound or on Clement Street for $3.69. Hum. While the Ferry Building gets all the hype the hot buys are elsewhere.

Here in the epicenter of the local food movement there's one area where almost nobody sticks to their locavore ideals: If you want to serve fish, it pretty much has to be imported. With the collapse of the commercial salmon and herring fisheries and the shortage of petrale, Dungeness crab is the only local seafood still readily available. And that's just barely hanging on. "The confluence of expanding global markets and more assertive local controls has produced dramatic change. One fishery after another petered out in the wild, and regulators curtailed fishing to preserve species," Katherine Ellison wrote in the New York Times today. On the plus side, Tomales Bay oysters seem to be doing fine, and those wild Dungeness are proving hard to decimate. When they go, we might as well pack it up and move to Oklahoma. At least the rents are cheap.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Luggage versus Water Bottles

I know there is the fear over 'liquid explosives' so there is a need to secure airplanes from harmful water bottles. But I say the TSA and the airlines need to crackdown on carry-on luggage size. You see those standard size requirements at the check-in area. If your bag does not fit inside this little box it is too big. Ha! I see bags the size of small sheep on airplanes. Plus a laptop bag and a purse or man-bag (that word annoys me).

And speaking of security when are we going to stop being on 'security threat level Orange'? What a worthless designation. Is the capture or death of Osama Bin Laden going to bring it down to Green? Airport security is so inconsistent it is laughable. I see people go through the trouble of putting their little belongings into clear plastic bags while I have never done this and have yet to be stopped. I carry nail clippers in my carry on. Watch, next time I fly I will be stopped and it will be confiscated.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Lost Vegas

Las Vegas has me confused. Part of me loves the extravegance while part of me is repulsed by it. Having just returned after a three year absence the place amazes me with its growth and change. This expansion seems to be distancing itself from the common human. The newest hotels/casinos are opulent palaces catering to the weathly; The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, The Wynn, Encore, The Palazzo and while I was the there the new Mandarian Oriental opened up. All of them exude money and exclusivity. Walking though I am struck by how much money I am surrounded by; the art, the decor, the stores.

Nothing is cheap in Vegas anymore. You can visit a Chanel or Dior store just about anywhere. Need a new Rolex? It is here and over there. What does the common person or family do? I don't think they go to downtown or old Vegas, they want the 'Vegas experience' and head to the strip and they likely have to save or go in debt doing it.

Unless you are a big money maker or work for a company paying for you to attend a convention don't plan on a cheap Vegas vacation. You won't find a buffet for under $15. Tickets for shows can't be found for less than $60, although you can find 2-for-1 day of deals. I feel for a family of four.

All of this excess while so much of the world struggles. Take a quarter of what is spent in Vegas and I bet it could support a few countries. Heck, a buffet could probably feed a a few hundred starving villages.

Now at the same time this is America. This is what it is all about. Go big or go home. Live large or don't live it all. But can't there be a balance? I want to see a new hotel/casino go up that does not charge over $150 per night. I want to see a new casino where the majority of minimum bids are $2 to $5. I want see a place where I can buy a $5 sandwich instead of $15. I want to see a new casino that has class, art and atmosphere while allowing me and the common human to escape and live the Vegas experience. And I want it on The Strip. Enough of my rant. I am heading back to Vegas at the end of January. Viva Las Vegas!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Park Your Bike with a Smile

Biking around town always makes me happy. Parking it here even more so.

San Francisco Beer Town

In the 1870s a five-block stretch of Fulton Avenue in the Inner Richmond District, across from Golden Gate Park, was known as Beer Town. Dozens of saloons serviced the patrons of the adjacent Bay District Race Track. Beer Town and the racetrack was serviced by the Geary Street, Park and Ocean Railroad which ran down D Street.

The Midwinter Exposition held in Golden Gate Park in 1894. Soon demand for drinking establishments grew and by the middle of that year, Seventh Street alone had seven saloons side-by-side in one half-block. When the Exposition closed and the racetrack folded, Beer Town didn't miss a beat. The old racetrack was converted to an Army base, Camp Merritt holding 7,000 soldiers. The number of saloons swelled to 44 and were accompanied by a number of brothels. Camp Merritt closed in 1898 and still Beer Town thrived due to the popular nearby amusement park, the Chutes.

Even the earthquake of 1906 and an angry neighborhood improvement committee failed to shut down the saloons and the brothels. What eventually caused the demise of Beer Town was an extended rail strike and the closing of the Chutes. By 1910 only five saloons remained and the surrounding Richmond District was fast being converted into a residential area. The final drinking establishment, the Jockey Club was torn down in 1914. Today, the only remnant of Beer Town is this train waiting shelter located at Futon and Seventh Street on the edge of Golden Gate Park.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

World AIDS Day

Once in a while it okay, but don't make Coit Tower into The Empire State Building, changing colors all the time.