Giant penny found on sidewalk

November 17, 2015

Fnnch penny

Walking along Valencia the other day I spotted a rather large penny painted on the sidewalk. The design features the phrase “IN FNNCH WE TRUST,” alluding to local artist fnnch.

Fnnch is best known for the honey bear designs, and if you look closely there’s an outline of one in the penny.

Other changes deviate from the design of a US penny, but the one that caught my eye is a very subtle — is Lincoln smiling? One has to wonder what’s making him so happy; perhaps he just likes honey bears.

My homemade pipe stool

November 13, 2015

Pipe stool

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about design, and specifically how the environments we encounter can suggest that one take a certain course of action. By keeping my shoes near the door to my apartment for my own convenience I’d accidentally created a bad design — a situation that subtly suggested one should remove one’s shoes, but didn’t offer any place to sit while doing so.

I honestly don’t care if people remove their shoes or not but I want people to feel welcome if I’ve inadvertently suggested it. What I needed was a place to sit.

Yeah, I mean I could have just bought a chair or a stool, or even found one on Craigslist. But that’s no fun.

Loosely following the design from this blog post I bought some iron pipe fittings at the hardware store and for the seat I purchased a tree slice from Amazon. I removed loose bark from the tree slice and applied a few layers of spray-on lacquer.

The pipes were more of a challenge. After a couple hours of wrestling with heavy iron pipes (and getting a few bruises along the way) I managed to get the pipes locked tightly into place. Then it was simply a matter of adjusting the caps at the bottom until the thing was level, and the floor flanges on the top so they were all level with the seat.

A few screws later, and I had a most unusual homemade stool. But most of all I solved a small design problem I’d accidentally created in my own living space.

Wait, why did The Flash run past the Transamerica Pyramid?

November 5, 2015

The Flash runs past the Transamerica Pyramid

The Flash is a fun TV show based on the comic books. It’s set in the fictional “Central City” and this week’s episode is no different.

So why then, on the way from his headquarters at Star Labs to try to capture Dr. Light at the Bank of Central City does The Flash run west along Washington Street past the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco’s Financial District?

The Transamerica Pyramid is one of those instantly recognizable structures. The unusual intersection with Columbus Avenue seen at the bottom of the screen cap (above) is a crystal clear indication that we’re looking at an image of San Francisco itself rather than merely some Transamerica-like knockoff in the fictional Central City. This is the real deal we’re looking at, no question about it.

Here’s some of my own top fan theories on how The Flash wound up here:

  • On the previous night The Flash had stopped by Vesuvio to read Howl after purchasing it at City Lights. He stumbled out of the place completely shitfaced and forgot to close his tab. No judgement man, it happens. He just had to stop by again when he had a chance to pick up his card.
  • The Flash recently took a free personality test and discovered the truth about “engrams.” He stopped at the Scientology Center across the street from the Transamerica Pyramid to find out more, but after speed-reading Dianetics he ultimately decided Scientology wasn’t for him.
  • Look, it’s kind of embarrassing but The Flash still uses Groupon. I know, I know. But he’s a poorly paid young police detective and he has to take what he can get. So one day he bought a Groupon deal for some pasta at a shitty tourist trap in North Beach. Knowing he had a significant head start on Dr. Light he decided to take advantage of the deal before it expired, running all the way to San Francisco for a quick bite at The Stinking Rose.
  • The Flash ran faster than the speed of light, causing his GPS to malfunction. He wound up in San Francisco by mistake.

Okay, that last theory is off the table because there’s no way The Flash could break the speed of light. But the others? Totally plausible.

At the end of the day my theories are just ideas from a fan. I hope one day this popular TV show finally reveals the true secret behind this curious jaunt from Central City to downtown San Francisco!

Joel from MST3k Halloween costume

October 31, 2015

Joel from MST3k costume

This year for Halloween I’m just another face in a red jumpsuit: specifically, I’m Joel from Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Much like last year’s costume, this is one of those where you either get the reference or you don’t. If you were watching a lot of Comedy Central in the 90′s (or you had friends that did) you probably remember the show where a silhouette of a guy and his two robot pals sat at the bottom of the screen, watching unbelievably terrible movies and making wisecracks the entire time. That show was Mystery Science Theater 3000, or MST3k for short.

The costume itself is remarkably simple: it’s a red jumpsuit I got from Amazon with a Gizmonics patch I bought from Etsy hastily sewn on. The hard hat (which Joel wears in the intro to the show) is a cheap yellow hard hat from Amazon. I found the “G” logo from Google Image Search, printed it out, and hot glued it to the hat.

A more advanced builder than I might have made a Tom Servo and/or Crow T. Robot puppet to go along with the outfit, and indeed many folks have done exactly that. Instructions are a quick Google search away for those with a lot of spare time on their hands.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got movie sign!

Graffiti just a list of Linux distributions

October 23, 2015

Linux graffiti

You know you’re in San Francisco when the graffiti is just a list of Linux distos.

For touchier Linux users this list of distributions will no doubt invoke very negative responses. On one side you’ll have a bunch of whiners upset that their favorite one isn’t on this list. In some other corner there will be a bunch of weirdos yelling at you for not calling it “GNU slash Linux.”

Linux users can be like that.

Bat Boy rides again

September 27, 2015

Bat Boy rides again

The Weekly World News no longer graces the checkout at your local supermarket, but that hasn’t stopped Bat Boy from taking up skating. Bat Boy rides again!

Spotted just outside The Sycamore

Garcon team apparently taking over Young’s BBQ space

September 14, 2015

Young's BBQ space Young's BBQ space

Young’s BBQ, the (ostensibly) Korean hole in the wall restaurant behind El Toro that you never went to finally closed a few months ago. Recently the space has undergone a soft story retrofit.

Now a new liquor license application has appeared on the window with the name “Jerartdon LLC.” What could it mean?

Two of the names on the license in the state’s liquor license database shed some light on the situation. Jerome Rivoire is the owner of Valencia St.’s Garcon, and Arthur Wall is their executive chef.

What can we expect? So far the Garcon folks have been quiet about the whole endeavor, but it’s safe to assume pot stickers served by a woman who calls herself “Honey” are out.

Colorful geometric paintings

September 6, 2015

Strange painting

Strange painting Strange painting

Recently I’ve come across a series of unusual paintings of brightly colored geometric patterns pasted to the wall in various parts of the city. The first one was stuck to a building near Slim’s. The other two were pasted to the side of the Victoria Theater.

What are these paintings supposed to mean? Who’s behind them? We may never know for certain, but personally I’m hoping they’re a new type of QR code left here by aliens. So please let me know if you see an app for scanning alien QR codes on your phone’s app store. Thanks in advance.

I went to a cat cafe

August 3, 2015

KitTea cat cafe KitTea cat cafe KitTea cat cafe KitTea's menu

Today I finally got around to visiting KitTea, San Francisco’s first (and only) cat cafe. The goals of KitTea are to provide adorable cat-based entertainment, but also to find permanent homes for the cats — all of which are rescue cats up for adoption.

The basics are pretty simple: you can either walk in or make a reservation, and for your 30 or 60 minute session you can play with cats while drinking unlimited tea. The tea is quite good, but you could be forgiven for not noticing when there’s kittens everywhere and all manners of cat toys.

I should mention that most of the cats are kittens. I only spotted one adult cat, but if you know anything about cats you know that they spend most of their time sleeping. The “cat wranglers” at KitTea are very adamant about letting sleeping cats sleep, though you are allowed to pet them if you’re gentle enough not to wake them.

As for getting fur in your tea or food you don’t need to worry. The kitchen is in the waiting room outside of the cat play area.

Overall the cats seemed very well taken care of. If I was going to adopt a cat, the relaxed environment of a cat cafe seems to me like a better way to see if a cat is right for you than the jail-like environment of your average pound.

So if you’re looking to adopt a cat — or if you just want to hang out with some feline companions for a while — consider giving KitTea a shot. What do you have to lose? Aside from your dignity when you come home covered in cat hair, of course.

Poorly Drawn Robots In Space

July 25, 2015

Poorly Drawn Robots In Space screenshot Poorly Drawn Robots In Space screenshot Poorly Drawn Robots In Space screenshot Poorly Drawn Robots In Space screenshot Poorly Drawn Robots In Space screenshot

Yes, I had to resort to taking these screenshots with my phone.

Recently I started poking around an old hard drive I found and uncovered a treasure trove of old selfies, homework, and even a diary listing the first time I ever kissed a girl (January 13th 2000.) Among other historic artifacts was a game I made for a computer science class during my junior year of high school called Poorly Drawn Robots In Space.

Of course, this had nothing to do with whatever so-called “assignment” I was supposed to be doing for the class. I liked making games more than learning about for loops or whatever, and besides — you try telling a 17 year old what to do. Go ahead. See how that works out for you.

The game is your typical Lode Runner knockoff: you walk around avoiding the bad guys and collecting keys to get to the exit. There’s a total of three levels.

When I found the game I was shocked: it still actually runs! So I put the whole thing up on GitHub, ugly source code and all.

Keep in mind the game is for Windows only, and some of the colors are screwed up because it was designed back when 256 colors was the norm. Oh, and there’s no sound. Extract the .zip and run robots.exe.

Download here

Controls: Left/Right to walk, Ctrl to jump
License: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯