Archive for November, 2010

Statue party

November 28th, 2010

In San Francisco, even the statues party hard.

Statue party

Statue party

Statue party

SFpark meters come to the Mission

November 24th, 2010

A swarm of technicians descended on 16th and Mission today, decapitating the old parking meters and sliding in a fancy new “SFpark” meter.

Removal

Decapitated meter

New meters

I’m not sure exactly what’s new, but it appears to be solar powered, accept credit cards (yay!) and the new meters utilise sensors under the vehicle so “the man” knows exactly when to slap you with a hefty parking ticket.

New meter

New meter

Graffiti mocks CCTV camera

November 23rd, 2010

This graffiti mural mocks the CCTV camera that looms over it. It’s sort of a middle finger to the powers that be, while simultaneously integrated with its surroundings. I find it amusing.

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Spotted on Valencia between 14th and 15th.

Free stamps! Oh wait…

November 23rd, 2010

Free stamps! Oh wait...

I got this in the mail from Sierra Club today. The envelope was covered in uncanceled stamps. OMG free stamps! Oh wait…

FAKE stamps! Jerks.

What’s up at Slanted Door?

November 22nd, 2010

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The former Slanted Door / Levi’s popup store location on Valencia was getting some activity this morning when I snapped this photo. There was a moving van outside and a number of boxes were being taken in. Anyone know for certain what’s going on?

This is good news for this block of Valencia, which as of late has seen many empty store fronts.

Painting Mission Dolores Basilica

November 19th, 2010

Spotted this fellow painting Mission Dolores Basilica this morning on the way to the office this morning.

Painting Mission Dolores

Freebies from Muni?

November 16th, 2010

When I wrote the infamous post bitching about Muni service, Worst Day on Muni Ever, I intentionally excluded one detail. Despite partially redeeming Muni, I felt this detail didn’t add much to the story. But more importantly this little detail cost Muni money; I wanted to give them time to fix their mistake before I shared it with the world.

Now let’s go back to the story. As you recall, I eventually wound up on a 30 Stockton. But not for long.

The 30 took off and then suddenly made an unexpected turn onto California St. There was no announcement as to why we had just gone off route.

When I boarded the second 30 Stockton, a very friendly woman started talking to me and my girlfriend. She was just as confused as we were about the unannounced route change.

First, she went and asked the driver what was going on. The driver had no idea. To his credit, the driver remained calm despite being confused, and he made the hairpin turn from Stockton to California without a hitch (it’s not easy; the bus temporarily loses power while going uphill on this transition.)

The woman then called 311 to ask about the route change. From what I overheard from her conversation, they simply could not explain what was going on. This part confirms the point of my original story — if 311 wasn’t informed about the change, how were the passengers supposed to know?

But here’s where things get interesting: after several minutes of explaining her situation to the 311 operator, she told them (what I assume) was her home address.

After getting off the phone she told us that they were sending her a free Muni pass!

Moral of the story: if Muni does something as dumb as making an unannounced route change, complaining about it may get you a free pass.

Moral of the story part 2: if Muni provided better service in the first place, they wouldn’t be giving away free passes. And that would be better for everyone.

True Tales of Muni: The Crackhead

November 13th, 2010

I used to live just off the L Taraval line. One evening memorable evening I was taking an inbound 1-car L and sitting in the back half facing the rear.

An older man, maybe in his late 60′s, was sitting in the sideways seat at the rear of the train, slouching and grumbling to himself. Now, there was a time when I thought everyone who talked to themselves was just crazy, but then I got older and started talking to myself on occasion as well. These days I think it’s a matter of degree; it’s one thing to just shout a word of surprise here or there or grumble to yourself silently about how Muni is never on time, it’s another thing to have a conversation with a fictional person. Since this guy was in the former category, I didn’t pay much attention to him.

A group of teenage guys got on at 19th Ave. They were being loud and obnoxious, joking around like your average high school senior types. They made their way to some empty seats on the back.

The teenagers started talking to the older guy as the train waited to pull into West Portal. I don’t recall exactly what they said, but it wasn’t anything particularly nasty or insulting… or so I thought.

Suddenly the old guy got really pissed off — he shouted at the kids. And I mean really shouting, at the top of his lungs:

“THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH SMOKING CRACK! I SMOKE CRACK AND I’M PROUD OF IT! I’M ON CRACK RIGHT NOW!”

Needless to say this shut everyone up. Everyone. Even the loud teenagers were speechless.

But it didn’t end there. Something snapped. The older man got increasingly angrier and angrier, with incoherent rants to nobody and seemingly about nothing in particular. As we approached Forest Hill his voice went from mere shouting to an almost operatic volume.

Everyone else in the back of the train, teenagers included, got up and moved to the front. Some people boarding at Forest Hill sat down in the back, then realizing their proximity to a loud insane person, quickly got up and moved to the front.

But the angry old man? I’m not sure what happened to him; he was still yelling when I got out, four stations later.

Artwork at Little Skillet

November 10th, 2010

This unusual piece hangs on the shutter at Little Skillet.

Little Skillet

SF Central Subway vs. California High Speed Rail

November 10th, 2010

A while back, San Francisco’s MTA got a big bundle of federal cash to build Muni’s “Central Subway” project. This new subway line will create an underground connection between CalTrain’s 4th and King station, Union Square, and Chinatown.

This area is horribly congested with traffic so the idea has merit. It would allow folks from the peninsula and South Bay to hop off Caltrain and take a quick subway ride to Union Square and Chinatown.

Meanwhile, there’s another plan being developed separately — a plan that would build a high speed railway from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Between SF and Gilroy, the new railway would follow the existing CalTrain route.

But instead of terminating at 4th and King, the new High Speed Rail line — as well as CalTrain — would be extended via subway and terminate at 1st and Mission. Construction on the new station and subway train box is already underway.

Now, any reasonable person looking at a map can see that 4th and King is awfully close to 1st and Mission. Especially for a train. So close together, in fact, that keeping the existing 4th and King station seems excessive.

Which leads me to wonder: aren’t these two plans mutually exclusive? Either the 4th and King station will be gone, and the Central Subway will effectively go nowhere, or CalTrain will have to keep an awkwardly placed station just to connect to the Central Subway.

Overall, I think the High Speed Rail makes a lot of sense. It’s fast, electric, can be powered by renewable resources, and trips will take less time than an airplane. But there’s something being lost in the planning process, and it needs to be fixed if they’re serious about building it.