Archive for February, 2011


February 26th, 2011

Well, according to this site and this site, it’s now snowing a bit in San Francisco. Reports from Facebook confirm that snow has been spotted on Twin Peaks and in the Sunset.

Funny thing is, just earlier today everyone was joking about how the predictions of snow in SF were ridiculous. Boy, were we all wrong.

Not much news so far on Twitter, mainly because the entire site seems to have been taken over by the failwhale. The site can handle an entire country’s revolution, but snow in SF? Too many tweets, man. Too many tweets.

On a slightly different topic, several years ago when I lived in the Sunset, we all thought it was snowing. Our roads, yards, and cars were covered in white bits falling from the sky. Due to the slippery nature and unexpectedness of the ordeal, there were many traffic accidents on 19th Ave. But you know what? It was really just heavy hail. Is this time truly different?

What if San Francisco were a theme park?

February 24th, 2011

Like any urban city, there’s plenty in San Francisco that not everyone is comfortable with. Just ask SF Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius, who hates on our fair city for reasons ranging from young whippersnappers sitting around to unpleasant odors.

But what would our city be like if we cleaned it up and made it into a theme park? Fortunately, Mr. Show answered that very question in this 1996 episode.



This segment is from Mr. Show episode 204, “If You’re Going to Write a Comedy Scene, You’re Going to Have Some Rat Feces in There.”

Delaware Punch

February 24th, 2011

Is Hawaiian Punch too exotic for you? During my recent trip to Mexico, I discovered a grape-flavored and non-tropical alternative to Hawaiian Punch: Delaware Punch.

Delaware Punch

This beverage from Coca-Cola is not available in much of the US due to health concerns over a food coloring chemical. But that sort of thing never stopped anyone in Mexico.

Things San Franciscans despise: sidewalk advertising

February 12th, 2011


San Francisco is a city of people who are indecisive and disagreeable. We even manage to disagree about really basic things, to the point where basic issues like panhandling and slow public transportation go unsolved for decades.

But when corporations use litter and graffiti as a form of advertising, San Franciscans have a rare moment of clarity and unity. The same way we’re against fighting for oil in the middle east, we’re willing to hold protests and call in the national guard over advertising agencies stenciling our sidewalks.

We didn’t stand for Levi’s or Microsoft spray-painting our sidewalks. Today, we won’t stand for HP littering the city either. They’ve put QR code posters up on the sidewalks and on street poles all over the Mission.

(Side note: did you know that HP stands for “Horrible Printer”? Now you know.)

Why are San Franciscans against sidewalk advertising? Well, first of all, public space is for the people, not for corporations. A coffee stand at the park? NO! A taco truck on the street outside Best Buy? NO! Oh wait a sec, those tacos are delicious. You know what? Never mind. We’ll discuss this later… OM NOM NOM.

Second, corporate advertising on public property offends our artistic sensibilities. Public art is fine with San Franciscans, and even though we can’t agree on whether or not graffiti is art, we can agree that corporate graffiti is NOT art. Art isn’t supposed to be an expression of greed unless you’re really ironic about it, like Andy Warhol or the guy who makes OBEY merchandise.

Now, every rule as its exceptions, and I found one down the street from the offensive HP sidewalk pollution.


I think it’s safe to say that a handmade flier taped to the sidewalk advertising a party at El Rio is an exception to our “no sidewalk advertising” rule. Because, well, we make exceptions for things we enjoy — like tacos.

Muni’s repeated derailments

February 11th, 2011

You’d think that the title of 6th best public transit system in the country would mean something. Or at the very least you’d think that at the point where you’re the 6th best at something, you’re not repeating your own mistakes.

But you’d be wrong.

Today’s Muni Metro derailment sounds awfully familiar. A train suddenly came off the tracks between Castro and Forrest Hill station, and nobody knows how it happened.

Why does it sound familiar?

Because the same thing happened in November of 2009. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the exact same scenario happened in August of 2006.

Allegedly, Muni tried to fix the tracks in 2007, several months after the first derailment. But that didn’t solve the problem.

Obviously, train systems are not a new technology; the basics are old and well understood. There’s no excuse for deferred maintenance and half-assed fixes.

Muni: 6th best in the country!?

February 11th, 2011

It should come as no surprise that Muni isn’t the best transit agency in the country, what with all the waiting, slow speeds, and crashes. But would you believe they clock in at number 6? No, neither do I.

In this video from CBS 5, Mike Sugerman interviews a number of Muni riders about this startling allegation, including Greg Dewar of The N-Judah Chronicles.

(Note: video is linked from, which can be a bit flaky. If you don’t see the player, try reloading. If that doesn’t work, try channeling spirits.)

Coffee roasting at home

February 10th, 2011

Coffee roasting

You’re looking at me like I’m crazy, but roasting your own coffee is where it’s at.

It’s pretty damn easy and it doesn’t take much to get started. I tinkered with roasting for years using nothing but a $3 electric popcorn popper I got from Goodwill. But you don’t even need that — Blue Bottle’s James Freeman got his start roasting coffee in his oven.

I got this particular roaster because it has a catalytic converter to reduce the smoke output. I also like the humor of the word “Professional” written on the plastic housing. It’s great for home use, but professional? Please.

There’s a number of places to buy raw coffee beans. Oakland-based e-tailer Sweet Marias is the best.

Anyway, I’ve been using the Nesco roaster for almost a month now, and give it two caffeinated thumbs up.

Mural of Lone Star Swan

February 9th, 2011

As long as we’re on the topic of 16th Street’s favorite pigeon feeder, there’s a mural of the guy over on Clarion Alley that you should check out.


Actually, you should check out Clarion Alley in general. The murals tend not to last too long there, which is both a blessing and a curse. But the quality and creativity is outstanding.

Walk, don’t walk, drop acid

February 9th, 2011

Sometimes I have to stop an ask myself if I just took a mind-altering drug, or if what I’m seeing is real. When I went to hit the walk button the other day, I had to question the state of my consciousness and do a double-take.


Spotted at 16th and Mission.

Lone Star Swan, poet, pigeon caretaker and schizophrenic

February 4th, 2011

Those of you who live in or visit the Mission are likely familiar with Lone Star Swan, the homeless poet and pigeon caretaker of 16th Street.

He’s lived on the streets of the Mission for over a decade, often hanging out at Adobe Books. But like all homeless people, there’s a sad story to his life that isn’t immediately apparent.

The other day on MissionMission, commenter Pedro directed me to a TV news report about Lone Star Swan, who’s birth name is John Ratliff. It’s a fascinating portrait of the man, and I encourage you to watch it.