Archive for January, 2011

Marilyn Merlot

January 30th, 2011

Really, Safeway?



Locanda opening pushed back until March

January 24th, 2011

Last we heard about Locanda, the new Roman-style eatery in the Delfina family, it was scheduled to open in January 2011 at the shuttered Ramblas space in January 2011.

Now that January is almost gone, the work on the space looks like it’s far from done; the kitchen space was torn out and still not replaced; no new windows or seating area; the exterior wall isn’t even in place.

Now along comes a Craigslist ad from Delfina looking for experienced restaurant managers. The nugget in the add is the opening for Locanda: March 2011.

The ad follows:

Our small group of restaurants is expanding and we need You in order to grow.
We are currently seeking MANAGERS of all levels to add to the mix, helping to bring out the best at each of our Italian restaurants:
Delfina Restaurant, Pizzeria Delfina (two locations) and Locanda, a modern Roman osteria/taverna opening in March 2011.
Candidates must have prior supervisory experience and a solid background in fine dining (Italian experience a plus).
Potential hires must be passionate about food and wine, mature, professional and serious about their career.
Benefits include: vacation, medical, dining benefits.

Please include your resume in the body of your email and NOT as an attachment. attachments will not be read.

Thank you for applying!

Is this a realistic date, given the work to be done? Or will Locanda be yet another Valencia restaurant that takes it sweet time between announcement and opening date? Time will tell…

Sheep are hipsters

January 23rd, 2011

It occurred to me the other day that sheep are hipsters.

Look, I’m not saying that hipsters are sheep, that would be redundant. I’m saying that sheep — those cuddly wool and cheese producing mammals — are hipsters themselves.

Here’s a handy table explaining the similarities.

Sheep Hipsters
Sheep More hipster action
Sheep wear wool sweaters naturally Hipsters wear wool sweaters ironically
Sheep follow each other Hipsters follow each other
Sheep have sheep dogs Hipsters have trendy dogs
Sheep eat a vegan, gluten-free diet Hipsters eat a vegan, gluten-free diet

Maybe these are all coincidences, you say. Maybe there’s nothing to this.

Well then here’s one last piece of evidence, courtesy of MissionMission contributor Ariel Dovas:

The People In Dolores Park Are Sheep

Yes, sheep hang out in Dolores Park! I rest my case.

Beings Of Nibber Glux Six

January 19th, 2011

Back in the winter of 2004 when I was in college — and perhaps more than a bit stoned — I created a short-lived comic strip series called “Beings Of Nibber Glux Six.”

Here they are, reprinted, in their long-forgotten glory.

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Programming in Vala

January 18th, 2011

As some of you may know, I work for an open source software non-profit called Yorba. Our best known product is Shotwell, a photo management application that’s similar to Picasa or iPhoto, but created for Linux. It’s the default photo app these days in both Ubuntu and Fedora.

What many of our users don’t know is we don’t develop our software in C or C++… we use Vala.

So what the hell is Vala?

The cool thing about Vala is that it’s a fully compiled, statically typed OOP language designed to be built for Gtk applications. The syntax is very similar to Java or C#, but the garbage collection is based entirely on reference counting. In other words, you get the simplicity of a modern language with the speed of a fully compiled program. Vala bindings are already available for Gtk, Gdk, GLib, Gee, and many other libraries. Or you can create your own bindings when needed by creating a Vapi file. There’s a documentation program, Valadoc, which generates pretty HTML documentation for your classes.

The entire Vala package is available under an LGPL license, which is a free software/open source license. You’ll never have to worry about Microsoft or Oracle stepping on your toes.

Here’s the “Hello World” app from the Vala tutorial.

class Demo.HelloWorld : GLib.Object {
    public static int main(string[] args) {
        stdout.printf("Hello, World\n");
        return 0;

Save your file as hello.vala. You can compile from the command line with:
valac hello.vala
Now watch closely… the Vala compiler actually just creates a .c file! It’s what’s called a “source compiler” in that it converts source code from one language to source code in a different language.

Next, valac automatically invokes GCC to compile the .c file into an executable binary.

Run your demo code with:

Simple, huh?

Vala syntax includes the language constructs you’d expect in 2011, including:

  • interfaces
  • single inheritance
  • non-nullable variables
  • foreach loops
  • delegates
  • signals
  • reflection
  • built-in multidimensional arrays
  • type inference

There’s plenty more sample code and tutorials on Gnome’s Vala site.

Documentation for some of the most common library bindings is available at

Okay, ready for the bad news? Despite being a relatively feature-complete language, there’s really no perfect IDE for Vala yet. If you’re used to powerful graphical debuggers, class browsers, and jumping around the code like in Eclipse and Visual Studio, you’re out of luck.

The only Vala IDEs at the moment are:

  • MonoDevelop: A great start, but for the features it’s rather heavy.
  • Valide: I was never able to get this one to even compile! But the screenshots look promising.
  • Valencia: This is Yorba’s GEdit plugin, which provides only barebones Vala functionality on top of GEdit, including jump to definition and autocomplete.

So there you go, that’s Vala. It’s still a young language, but it takes away the headaches of developing Gtk apps in C, and it doesn’t have the uncomfortable legacies of C++. Give it a shot!


January 17th, 2011

This jockey appeared recently on 17th near Capp.


Palace of Fine Arts 2011 version

January 16th, 2011

The Palace of Fine Arts has been restored… again! Perhaps the third time’s the charm? Or is this the fourth? Hey who’s counting.

IMG_1768_1 IMG_1762_1 IMG_1764_1 IMG_1763_1 IMG_1754_1 IMG_1755_1 IMG_1761_1 IMG_1767_1 IMG_1759_1

The restoration took a mere seven years. Contrast this to the similarly historic Acropolis in Greece, which has been under a restoration project since the 70’s. Get back to work, Greeks.

Some notes on the 2011 version of the Palace:

  • No more sand! Instead they added a ground surface that looks like a granola bar.
  • The ugly black nets under the dome are gone, as the concrete fixtures are now firmly super-glued in place for your safety.
  • The “stairs” have been converted to planter boxes, much to the dismay of mild-mannered daredevils everywhere.
  • Lots more trees, plants, etc. But still plenty of mud.

Did you know? The current Palace of Fine Arts was not built in 1915 for the World’s Fair; it’s a concrete replica of the original built in the 60’s.

Yoda statue

January 16th, 2011

Saw the Yoda statue, did I.



I located this with the aid of Google Maps. Turns out it’s near the street for the Letterman Digital Arts Center (aka where Lucasfilm is located in SF) which is a short stroll from the Palace of Fine Arts.

(Side note: anyone else think it’s funny that Lucasfilm is located near Starfleet Headquarters?)

Acne: dealing with nasty pimples

January 13th, 2011

I’m taking a break from my usual blog entries to discuss a personal health issue, which is honestly a bit gross.

WARNING: Don’t read this while you’re eating, or maybe don’t read it at all. And DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.

Now that we have that out of the way… acne!
Most of us, especially men, get acne in their teenage years. Maybe a few zits here and there, maybe a whole face of pimples.

And for most folks that’s it; it’s gone by the time you’re in your early twenties.

But some of us aren’t so lucky.


I easily had the worst acne in my high school class. I had a pimple here or there at first, but then it slowly conquered my entire face.

My doctor prescribed some topical creams including bezoyl peroxide and Retin-A. She also gave me a large dose of antibiotics. According to modern medical theories, acne is caused by clogged pores, clogged with bacterial infections of the skin. The creams and antibiotics should take care of this.

These treatments didn’t work, my acne was getting worse. So she sent me to a dermatologist.


At this point (I was about 17) the acne had started forming what the dermatologist referred to as “cysts.” These were like monster pimples that would bleed and leak puss. She put me on a regime of an oral medication called Accutane and injected the cysts with cortisone.

Now this sort of worked, but the effect was temporary. The Accutane helped for a few months, but it’s not very good for your liver so there’s a limit as to how much you’re supposed to take. At the end of the Accutane cycle I was no better than before, except now my skin was incredibly dry.


At this point the cysts were at their worst; they would leak small amounts of puss, then skin would grow back over the puss. The nose pads on my glasses would be encased in skin and puss by the middle of he day, so that when I took my glasses off the cysts on my nose would start bleeding and leaking puss.

I tried all kinds of things; topical vinegar (it stings like crazy) egg white (is that even safe?) not to mention countless over the counter creams.

But the only thing that seemed to help were the cortisone injections, and the effect of those was short lived. I’d get an injection one week and a couple weeks later, the cyst was back.

Solution part 1: Topical ointment

Around the time I left for college, I discovered a website run by a guy in San Francisco called This site is run by a self-experimenter who found that washing his face carefully and using a 2% solution of benzoyl peroxide was effective in clearing his face. The novelty here was the 2% solution; normally benzoyl peroxide only comes in a “maximum strength” 10% solution. The advantage of this was that the 2% was less drying than the 10%, and it was significantly more effective.

Neutrogena was the only major brand selling a 2% solution at the time, and it was quite expensive at about $15 an ounce. But it did seem to be effective!

Eventually, created their own custom 2% benzoyl peroxide solution and sold it at a fraction of the cost of Neutrogena.

This worked for me far better than anything my doctors had ever prescribed. It was also cheaper, and there were no oral medications (taking antibiotics all the time makes your stomach hurt 24/7.)’s “regimen” improved my skin, not to mention my quality of life. If you haven’t experienced severe acne personally, I should tell you that having acne all over makes it painful to smile or talk.

Solution part 2: diet

Over the past 7 years I’ve experimented with diet for a number of reasons. I tend to be of the mindset that our species evolved to eat certain foods, but the foods that are common now are not what we evolved to eat. The obvious example is hydrogenated oil, aka “trans fat” which was developed in a lab a century ago. Our bodies responded to this new type of fat in an unpredictable way because we had not evolved to consume it.

So when I was given a book called The Acne Prescription: The Perricone Program for Clear and Healthy Skin at Every Age by Dr. Perricone, I was skeptical but not surprised by the finding that diet played a role in acne.

The book essentially advocates a very low-carb diet, completely free of refined sugars. No table sugar, white flour, etc. This means you’re not allowed to eat pasta, rice, corn, potatoes, bread, or anything made from dough.

It sounds rough, but keep in mind that the quantity of sugars we’re eating today are not what our ancestors ate. Most vegetables and all meats and fish have very few carbohydrates.

The other interesting thing about this book is that Dr. Perricone refutes the notion that acne is caused by bacteria. His hypothesis is that acne an inflammatory response caused by an immune system gone haywire from too much glucose in the blood. Hence the low-carb diet.

I’d also like to point out that I drank an absurd amount of soda all throughout high school, which if the blood glucose theory is correct, would explain why my acne got better; it wasn’t due to growing older so much as switching from soda to coffee.


For me, both the topical solution and the Perricone low-carb diet have worked… to an extent.

The topical regimen works wonders, but its effect is merely skin deep. Sure, the acne appears to be gone… but for me, it’s not. Instead of a couple zits on my face I get cysts that are under my skin. I can feel them; in fact it’s nearly impossible not to because large subdermal cysts are damn painful. And sometimes pimples show up inside my ear canals. It’s not easy to apply topical ointment in there. It’s also kind of strange to tell someone that it’s no big deal that I’m bleeding from my ear. It makes me feel like the James Bond villain in Casino Royale who bleeds from his eye.

So while the solution does work, for me it relocates the problem rather than solving it.

Dr. Perricone seems like he’s on to something. Right now I’m on a low-carb diet for the second time in my life, and my acne has been drastically reduced. But since I’m a pizza addict, I’m unable to do any low-carb diet without a weekly “cheat day.” For this reason, the topical solution is an invaluable accomplice to the diet.

In combination, the Perricone diet along with the 2% benzoyl peroxide regimen dials down the acne to a very manageable level.


Acne sucks. If not for aesthetic reasons then because it makes it physical hurt to smile, frown, or move your facial muscles at all.

Thanks to the internet and a love of self-experimentation I was able to get my acne down to a very mild level.

Look, acne isn’t going to kill you. If you have acne (and if you don’t why are you reading this repulsive entry?) then it’s worth taking a few months to do some self-experimentation. You don’t need to go to a doctor to treat your acne, and if you do there’s no guarantee that the side effects of your doctor’s prescription won’t be worse than an effective over-the-counter ointment. Maybe it’s time to try the topical regimen. Or why not consider a low-carb diet? Or both?

New restaurant for 18th and Dolores

January 9th, 2011

Last night I happened to notice this Planning Dept. application for a building permit on the former Studio 3579 space.

Planning permit, 18th and Dolores

If you recall, Studio 3579 was a recently shuttered store on the corner of 18th and Dolores, across from Dolores Park Cafe.

The planning permit indicates that they’re building out a “full service” restaurant. Considering the diminutive size of the place, one has to wonder if they’re going to be cooking with an Easy-Bake Oven.

Oh and before you ask, Ashton Richards appears to be a local architect, not a restauranteur.

UPDATE: KevMo points out that this will be a sushi joint. But isn’t the market for sushi in the Mission Dolores area already way past saturation point? Time will tell.