Sunset sign scorns dickish tree thief

July 4, 2016

To the person who took our tree
 

“Don’t be a dick” is an excellent rule to live by. Nobody wants to be around a dick because they don’t want to be the victim of a dick move, and yet being a dick is often — but not always — free from consequence. Rather than being a dick in return to a dick move, sometimes you have to break the cycle by turning the other cheek and accepting that life isn’t fair. For that reason, some call this philosophy “the golden rule.”

Unfortunately, a lot of folks are dicks, making dick moves whenever the mood strikes them. One such dick is whoever chopped down someone’s tree on Judah near 14th Ave. The victim put up the sign in the above photo to plead with the dick in question.

The sign features a drawing of an ax chopping, presumably to indicate how the tree was taken rather than as a threat, as well as the following text:

To the person who took our tree:
Please return it as soon as possible and all will be forgiven.

Let’s hope the dick takes heed and returns the tree to its rightful place.

Microsoft Windows Enterprise Edition

June 30, 2016

The other day I got to thinking: what would happen if the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation was built with modern software? If it ran on Microsoft Windows, its own operating system might be bigger a danger to the crew than the Borg. Here’s how I suspect it would play out.
 

 
…and roll credits:

More relics from The Jejune Institute on the web

June 26, 2016


 

I have no idea what my brain does when I’m asleep. Occasionally it leads me to some strange discoveries. For example, up until today I’d always assumed “Nonchalance,” the name of the studio behind The Jejune Institute, was something they’d made up for the game’s second chapter. My own dreams proved this to be incorrect. How? We’re getting to that.

Far too early this morning I woke up after a dream, grabbed my phone, and typed something into Google. I can’t remember the dream nor the search keywords, but the results included this music page on Nonchalance’s website. (Why some of the music is listed as by “JBH & Bobby Peru” is beyond me, since those are the same person.)

To me the most interesting part about the page wasn’t the music itself, it was that it represented some relic from a previous version of the Nonchalance.com website I’d never encountered before — it predated The Jejune Institute. Needless to say, I couldn’t get back to sleep; I’d stumbled down this temporal rabbit hole and needed to know more.

While many links on the page now redirect elsewhere, Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine came to the rescue. For those unfamiliar with the service, they’ve been capturing publicly available websites for decades and storing them online. You can go back and see how your favorite websites looked back in the day, even if they’re long since defunct.

After poking around the archives of Nonchalance’s website, most of the content on early versions of the site covers their other activities, including art installations, musings on design, and related projects like Oaklandish. Only later versions of the site make reference to the “game” project they’d become best known for (click the hyperlinked word “the” in the previous sentence to see what I mean.)

The most unexpected revelation hidden in these forgotten pages is the first entry in the website’s blog (scroll all the way down) in a post from 2007, about a year before The Jejune Institute opened its doors to the public.

The post reads in part:

Picture in your mind a cartoon character sleepwalking. Observe as they stutter, step, and stumble blindly out of bed, down the stairs and out the front door on to a busy street. They narrowly dodge impending danger without effort or awareness. Cars race by, they are turned around in a revolving door, and after the languid adventure they are somehow returned to bed unharmed. It’s a certain attribute the cartoon character possesses: to be able to stumble through life with nary a care, prodigiously protected and provided for by the invisible hand of good fortune. This ability is called Divine Nonchalance.
 
And so; our titled is lifted from this phrase, which may have its origins in modern Tarot: it appears on the card of The Fool. It signifies a certain blessed carelessness, a freedom from inhibition that sparks and inspires creativity. Long ago our local clique adopted the phrase to describe certain peoples who possessed the gift. If you possess it, as visionary artists often do, than you too may be one of the Divine Nonchalants.
 
BUT BEWARE: like any other gift, it comes with a price. The special power of Nonchalance is not found on the card of the King, or of the Sun… it is found on the card of The Fool. Clowns, wise guys, drunks and musicians are the salty sort of down-trodden folk who usually possess this super power in spades. And of course; cartoon characters. This special breed of people all share the wonderful attribute. It’s a shame they’ll never quite know what to do with it. By definition the Nonchalant is wonderfully scattered, and lacking in all direction. The ride is fantastic, but it only leads back to where we began.
 
It is appropriate then that we put the title to use. Nonchalance.org is a small looking glass into the creative lives of a few east bay souls. Here is where we document our works, make audacious statements of purpose, post exhibit schedules, engage with theory, trade intelligence, and celebrate our love for the past, present and future of this glorious lifetime.

A slightly different version of the Divine Nonchalance definition can be found on this page from a 2008 snapshot of Nonchalance.com

If any of this definition sounds familiar it’s because “Commander 14,” played by Harry S. Robins, read a nearly identical script on a certain pirate radio station in Dolores Park in the second chapter of The Jejune Institute. You can listen to the full broadcast here. The part similar to the above quote starts at about 1:20. But really, you should listen to the entire thing; it’s less than an hour long and it’s quite funny. Listen to it at Dolores Park if you want the most authentic experience.

It’s amazing what mind-blowing mysteries we can accidentally unlock in the middle of the night. Assuming there’s no microwave harassment, of course.

Birdhouse for rent in Dolores Park

June 17, 2016

Birdhouse for rent in Dolores Park

While the plan to rent sections of Dolores Park to humans ended almost as soon as it began, birds now have the option to rent this lovely apartment dangling from a tree in the park, located at the corner near 20th and Dolores Street.

The sign on the apartment doesn’t reveal the price or list a phone number, it simply states:

Achieve Realty
For Rent
Renovated

Interested parties should note that this is more of a micro bird apartment than a full-size birdhouse. It would be well suited as a starter home for a small songbird, but wouldn’t be large enough for an adult pigeon or a family of birds.

No word on whether this apartment is covered by rent control.

Breaking down San Francisco landmarks in the Watch Dogs 2 trailer

June 10, 2016

This week Ubisoft launched a trailer for their upcoming game, Watch Dogs 2. While I wasn’t particularly impressed by the first entry in the series, a 3rd person action/hacking game, the sequel immediately interested me due to the setting: San Francisco and the Bay Area at large.

You can watch the trailer below or here. For those unfamiliar with the world of video games, this is a “cinematic” trailer, which means it’s CGI concept art intended to advertise the game — in other words, this isn’t gameplay footage, but rather what producers intend the game to look like when it’s finished.

How many local landmarks did you discover in the video? Here’s what I spotted — click any image for full size.

Golden Gate Bridge, Karl the Fog, and the Transamerica Pyramid:

The Ferry Building and the Embarcadero Center:

Alcatraz:

A cable car working its way up a hill:

Not technically a landmark, but a guy wearing Google Cardboard on Muni is good enough IMO:

Again, technically a homeless guy with a shopping card isn’t a “landmark” but it had might as well be:

Lombard Street, which someone’s taking a photo of on their phone for the sake of accuracy:

Sea Lions at Pier 39, complete with tourists utilizing a selfie stick:

3D printing a gun — okay so again this isn’t a landmark at all, but I imagine there’s more 3D printers than guns in San Francisco so I’ll let it slide:

Chinatown chase scene:

AT&T Park, or whichever phone company it’s named after right now:

“Nudle” is clearly a stand in for Google’s Mountain View campus:

The Bay Bridge serves as a backdrop for a chase scene:

Hangar One at Moffett Field in Mountain View:

Well there you have it. I’m sure there’s a few I missed, feel free to e-mail me an angry rant if that’s the case. Regardless I may have to buy the game when it comes out in November to see how it portrays the Bay Area.

Strandbeests at the Exploratorium After Dark

June 3, 2016

Strandbeests at the Exploratorium

Strandbeests at the Exploratorium Strandbeests at the Exploratorium Strandbeests at the Exploratorium Strandbeests at the Exploratorium Strandbeests at the Exploratorium Strandbeests at the Exploratorium Strandbeests at the Exploratorium

Last night I attended the Exploratorium’s After Dark series. While there were not any flying toasters present, there were numerous Strandbeests from Dutch artist Theo Jansen.

The Strandbeests range in size from not much bigger than a human to stretching across a large room. Some of them are relatively simple contraptions that can be pushed around by humans or sails, whereas others operate on a system of a wind-powered compressed air mechanism. All the “beests” on display at the Exploratorium are built from PVC pipe — which is a yellowish color in the Netherlands for some reason — though Jansen has experimented with wood in the past.

If you’d like to check out the exhibit yourself it runs through September 5th. And you’ll have a chance to revisit your favorite Exploratorium exhibits while you’re at it, of course.

3D advertisement

June 1, 2016

3D advertising

3D advertising

Spotted at 12th and Folsom
 

Oculus Rift? Microsoft HoloLens? Samsung Gear?

Nah, who needs those? Old school red/blue 3D is where it’s at, as this somewhat illegally placed ad goes to show.

Before you ask, yes — I put on the 3D glasses and tested it out. While the 3D effect does work on this ad, unfortunately it barely makes use of the medium. What a shame. I’d love to see a similar “stunt” 3D advertisement that fully took advantage of the format. Maybe a secret phrase that jumps out at you that gets you something in return, like 10% off drinks or discounted entry to a club? Hey I’m just making suggestions here. Get on it, guerilla advertisers.

BREAKING: Second Super Mario Bros. street art mural located in San Francisco

May 31, 2016

Mario Mural

“It’s-a me!”
 

Located in Cypress Alley between 24th and 25th Street, this Super Mario Bros. mural definitively answers one of the most pressing questions of our time. I only happened upon this mural by chance; aimlessly meandering the streets of San Francisco in an attempt to make my fitness tracker happy, I looked up and there it was: the iconic characters Mario Mario and Luigi Mario standing near a gold star, a magic mushroom, and one of those evil plants sticking out of a pipe.

This clearly raises some questions, but most important among them is this: Could there be a third piece of Super Mario Bros. themed street art in San Francisco? With any luck, time will tell.

Carnaval San Francisco 2016 parade

May 30, 2016

Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016 Carnaval SF 2016

Click any photo for a larger view
 

This year’s Carnaval parade had all the elements we’ve come to expect: dance groups wearing peacock-style outfits, DJs on trucks spinning music, salsa dancers, stilt walkers, marching bands, and floats from various local organizations and city services. I thought Recology’s dancing garbage collectors were surprisingly on point, running around with recycling and compost bins in the sweltering sunlight.

Here’s some of the more unusual highlights. First, a visit from the masked man himself… Zorro!

 
Carnaval SF 2016
 

A photographer really wanted a photo of this dog, but the dog just wasn’t interested in fame.

 
Carnaval SF 2016
 

Elvis showed up with his pink Cadillac. When the parade stopped for a couple of minutes, he ran backwards through the parade to bust some moves with a burlesque troupe.

 
Carnaval SF 2016

Carnaval SF 2016
 

To complete this post here’s Batala’s drum troupe at the tail end of the parade:

Eight things they don’t tell you about living in a “charming” historic building

May 25, 2016

Fuses

I moved to San Francisco thirteen years ago, and about half that time I’ve lived in an apartment that was built in the early 1940′s. While it’s not as historic as other buildings in the area, it’s hardly the pinnacle of modern living either. Here’s a list of the things nobody — present company excluded — tells you about life in a charming old building before you move in.

  1. Toxic building materials
    If you’re old enough to read this and you have the slightest amount of common sense, lead and asbestos aren’t much of a threat to your health. But if you’re raising kids (or even have kids over) that’s a different story. Sometimes I wonder if I should be calling Child Protective Services when I see my neighbors carrying their baby around the place.

    Verdict: If you’re planning on breeding, consider a newer home.

  2. Mold
    Don’t sign any leases until you know for certain that you don’t have a mold allergy. And no you can’t just scrape mold off, it will come right back. Besides, that might cause lead paint to chip off.
    Verdict: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  3. Fuses
    You know how if your electricity is out, the first thing you do is go outside and see if you need to flip a switch? That’s called a circuit breaker. Before those came along, they had large fuses (pictured above) that screw into the wall. Each fuse has a different amp rating, and if the current going through the fuse exceeds the maximum amps, a little wire inside the fuse burns out. At that point you have to unscrew it (being careful not to stick your fingers in the socket while doing so) and screw in a new one. In fact, the first thing you should do when moving into an older building is see what fuses your unit has and go buy a bunch of replacements. Otherwise you’ll have to call an electrician to come out and install new ones for you if it’s the middle of the night and the local hardware store is closed. As I found out the hard way, that can set you back a couple hundred bucks. My unit only has two circuits, so if my fridge kicks on at the same time I turn on my computer, that could burn out a fuse.
    Verdict: Electrocution and/or fire, costly maintenance
  4. That lovely natural gas smell
    This one’s kind of specific, but in my building the stoves don’t have an electric ignition system. Instead they rely on pilot lights. The day I moved in the entire building smelled like natural gas, and I quickly discovered why: only one of the two pilot lights in my stove was lit. The other ways just leaking natural gas everywhere! Not having a lighter or matches, I rolled up a piece of paper, caught it on fire with the flame from the functional pilot light, used the rapidly burning paper to ignite the second pilot light, then quickly threw the paper in the sink before the fire reached my hand. I’m not entirely certain how I knew to do this, I certainly never read a manual or anything. It was only later that I discovered the manual for the oven/stove was taped to the back of it. Which, clearly, is the safest place to put a bunch of paper.
    Verdict: Okay, I probably should have reported this one to the fire department.
  5. Ventilation
    You might think with a stove and an oven, you’d need a ventilation system so the fire alarm didn’t go off when you cook, right? Hah! The thing about ventilation ducts is that they eventually get clogged up with grease, and someone has to clean those out because it’s a fire hazard. So your landlord — or some previous owner of the building — had those all sealed off. Ideally they cleaned them out before doing so, but let’s be realistic here; they didn’t.
    Verdict: Another reason to get fire insurance.
  6. Ancient heating technology
    Before fancy things like thermostats and forced-air heating were commonplace, people came up with a variety of strange old methods to heat the interiors of their homes. In my case, we have a steam heater. The way this works is a giant boiler on the bottom floor clicks on twice a day for a couple hours, once in the morning and once in the evening. The steam produced by this boiler is forced into pipes to radiators throughout the building. There’s no way to control how much heat this produces, since steam is pretty damn hot. So while it could be freezing outside, in an apartment with steam heat it could easily be 80 degrees F. If you’ve ever wandered around and seen a building where all the windows were open on a cold day, odds are that the occupants of the building are trying to ward off the artificial heat wave inside.
    Verdict: Hope you like tropical weather!
  7. Rats
    Oh, you know who else likes warm weather when it’s cold and rainy out? Yup, rats. They’re pretty good about finding hiding spots, and you may never even see them except for brief glimpses out of the corner of your eye. But their signature trails of shit across your counters are a dead giveaway. Once a rat managed to get trapped in my bathroom somehow, and it escaped by clawing a hole in the wood window frame. I emailed the landlord about this and they said they’d get back to me. That was five years ago, maybe? Haven’t heard from them since.
    Verdict: Keep paper products, food, and compost in hard to reach areas and the rats might stay in your neighbor’s unit instead.
  8. Washing dishes
    Unless the kitchen was updated in the last 50 years (yeah right) you’re not going to have a dishwasher. That said, you don’t have to laboriously wash your dishes by hand: portable dishwashers are a thing that exist. They’re just like a regular dishwasher, except they’re in a big metal box with a wooden top (read: extra counter space) and they have wheels so you can move them around. Instead of plumbing them in directly, they come with a special gizmo that latches on to your sink. Sure, about a third of the time it will fly off and water will spray everywhere, but that’s still better than the arduous task of cleaning dishes by hand like it’s the fucking dark ages.
    Verdict: Your dignity is worth more than $600

Any others I forgot to add? You can always reach me with ideas for a follow up article, my e-mail address is in the sidebar.