Archive for December, 2011

UC Davis pepper spray cop advertising champagne

December 24th, 2011

Champagne at Rainbow

Looks like he’s about to spray Dick Clark’s oversized head with that champagne. Look out, Dick!

Spotted near the express checkout at Rainbow Grocery.

New mural coming along at 17th and Capp

December 23rd, 2011

17th & Capp Mural

17th & Capp Mural

For the past few weeks, the building on the corner of 17th and Capp (across from Uptown) has been getting muralized. Surprisingly it hasn’t been tagged (yet.)

While it’s not finished, it’s nice to see some color at a corner that’s more known for a different type of “color,” i.e. the kind where a Royal Gate-drinking hobo pees on your shoes.

Santa arrives early in SF

December 16th, 2011

Santa Was Here

Getting started early, Santa?

Spotted at Dolores and 16th.

30 days without wheat: the end, and looking back

December 7th, 2011

Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on my wheat-free diet, I thought I’d post the results.

But first, let’s recall the ground rules:

  • No wheat. This means no wheat-based breads, tortillas, beer, etc. The food selection process would be based on a combination of common sense and reading labels.
  • Try to maintain my caloric intake. I didn’t want to skew the results by intentionally “dieting” here. I decided to throw away flour tortillas and buy corn tortillas, get sugary (but fresh and in season) fruit for snacks, drink wine instead of hefeweizen, etc.
  • Continue existing exercise routine. of light-moderate cardio for 30-45 min/day.
  • Allow myself a one meal exception for the entire 30 days (a pizza event I already had planned.)

Based on those rules, I had a few potential results in mind to look out for:

There were two main factors I was looking for in this experiment: weight and the more difficult to quantify general “feeling.” Theoretically lowering your blood sugar should cause both weight loss and lethargy. Giving up something as addictive as morphine shouldn’t be pleasant either. But there was also the possibility that I’d “feel” healthier if wheat is linked to inflammation and joint pain.

Simple enough, right? Almost! One thing I neglected to account for was that I might eat wheat by accident. On two occasions I took a single bite of a desert before realizing it had wheat in it. I only mention this because sometimes these diets can be trickier than expected.

I also did a terrible job weighing myself for the first 10 days, something that I don’t think skewed the results much (as you’ll see shortly) but I could have done a better job and keeping track in the beginning.

So, how did I do with sticking to the rules? To put it simply: not bad.

Avoiding wheat was never all that difficult. I take serious issue with the idea that wheat is “addictive” because I simply didn’t find this to be the case at all.

Now on to the results.

As for weight? Zero difference. I made up for the carbs in other ways, and I still weigh what I weighed a year ago.

That said it does seem like wheat is “empty calories.” It’s easy to eat a bunch of bread, pizza, etc. compared to say a bunch of cheese or vegetables. You can keep eating bread without feeling full and that’s not a good thing. Thing is, you can do the same with chips and fries. Carbs are easy to snack on because they don’t make your stomach feel full, so eliminating wheat might be enough for some people to lose weight.

At the 10 day mark I did feel “really lethargic,” which I thought might be a result of the promised lowered blood sugar. But that feeling quickly went away. Compared to my attempts at low carb diets in the past, I now suspect it was unrelated to diet.

I can’t say the diet really made me feel any better or any worse. It was so easy to stick to that I considered going a few more days for the hell of it, but ultimately decided to return to wheat so I could sum up my experiment.

But the diet was not a total loss! There was one positive result that I did not expect. As I wrote at the 20 day mark:

There is one positive change that I didn’t anticipate. My skin has never looked better. I’m starting to think I might have been wrong about my acne. Could it be a simple wheat allergy? Or is there another variable at play here?

Guess what? Now that I’m back to wheat the acne came back and my skin took on a reddish tint. Now again, this couldn’t have been due to a lack of carbs because I ate foods with corn and potatoes in them. So what caused this? Does my skin have a wheat gluten allergy?

A few minutes of Googling suggests this is within the realm of possibility. Could our fetish for bread is the reason us European-blooded folks have such terrible skin?

Soon I’ll embark on another “30 day” journey. Not sure what the theme will be yet: check back and find out soon.

Why SF Fire CU rocks

December 6th, 2011

Recently I decided it was time to switch to a local bank. Previously I’ve had ING Direct and Shitibank and decided I’d had enough with all corporate banking. Too big to fail? Well that’s an easy fix, I’ll just move my money and put a dent in that size of yours.

There’s several local banking options though many of them seem kinda crappy. I opened an account at Mission National but barely use it because in-person visits are required for so many tasks. That doesn’t work for someone who, you know, has a job.

SFist had a poll for the best local credit union and SF Fire CU won. Figured it was worth a shot.

Now that I’m gradually settling in to my new bank, I’m finding myself more and more glad that I made the switch. Because the SF Fire CU rocks.

Here’s why.

1. Online banking.

Many small or local banks advertise “online banking,” but what does that really mean? If you mean a web interface set up by a group of middle school students for a class project in 1997, then you’ll be happy with any small, local bank or credit union.

But some of us want to do things like enroll for an account without leaving our chairs. Even many of the national banks fail at this.

Thankfully, I was able to sign up for SF Fire CU online. In fact, I have never visited either of their branches but I was able to sign up and setup my banking all in about 30 minutes. They also let you order your banking cards online (see #4 for details.)

Their website isn’t as slick as some banks, but my only real wishlist would be a username instead of using your account number.

2. Customer service

Most places I go I feel like I get good service because I try to be pleasant. I figure if you’re dealing with hundreds of customers every day, you’re not getting paid enough for them to be a dick to you.

That said, the corporate banks tend to have really bad phone support. Some banks outsource it and it shows.

SF Fire CU has both a phone number and a web chat. They were able to help solve my newbie questions really quickly on both, which I appreciate.

And none of my calls went to India.

3. All ATMs are free

If the ATM owner charges you a fee, SF Fire CU reimburses you.

Does your bank do that? If so, you probably have a major bank. Many smaller banks and credit unions pay you back for ATM fees.

It might not sound like such a big deal, but imagine you’re at your favorite dive bar and want to order your buddies a round. Oops, no cash: and the bank is too far to walk. Do you use the bar’s ATM and pay $3? You know you HATE paying that fee. That’s a beer’s worth of money down the tubes.

4. Visa credit/debit cards with photos

SF Fire CU does both credit cards and debit cards. Best part is you can get whatever photo you want on the card, though someone does review it so don’t upload a photo of the Goatse man or whatever (you sick bastard.)

My cards are inspired by two infamous San Francisco eccentrics:

Photo cards

Now if only I could find an ATM that dispensed Norton Dollars…

5. Smartphone app (eventually)

Many people who were born before 1960 like to use these pieces of paper called “checks.” It’s kind of like a prehistoric version of PayPal, only more obnoxious.

In recent years bank ATMs added this slot where you slide a check in and it somehow magically knows how much the check is for and deposits it in your account. And yes, I know it’s magic because it can read my handwriting — something even I cannot do. That all seemed fine until banks started letting you deposit checks with their smartphone apps. Suddenly you didn’t have to go outside to deposit checks, you could simply snap a photo with your iPhone! Yes, it was like the future, except a future where something went horribly wrong because we were still using checks.

Now the bad news: I’ve got you all hyped up for nothing, because SF Fire CU still hasn’t released their app. But they claim it’s coming soon. I have a check sitting on my desk from some jerk who still writes checks and wanted to give me money, so this can’t come soon enough.


Well there’s really nothing more to say, if you haven’t read this and just skipped to the conclusion you’re a cheater and cheaters get what they deserve: nothing.

But here’s the deal: if you live in SF or the neighboring counties, you’re eligible for this credit union and it’s worth checking them out. Their website is here.