EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Eric Kauschen | Baghdad By The Bay - Part 3

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A New Way To Support My Site

PatreonHi all,

I don’t like doing this, but I have been doing this for close to 10 years now and while my original idea was just to have fun writing about San Francisco it’s become a little difficult to have time to write when I have to focus so much on my freelance work. I wish there was a way to make my freelance work coincide with my writing, but that’s not the case at the moment.

So I’ve discovered a new site that offers a different option. Patreon will allow you to become a patron of my work. It’s kind of like micro-investing in that the creator [me] sets up goals they would like to meet and you as a patron can make a small or large monthly donation to help that come to fruition. There will also be rewards at the various levels of donation that you’ll see when you click on the link.

I won’t say anything more about it other than let you know my link is http://patreon.com/baghdad and if you like you can patronize my work…no wait, maybe that isn’t the correct wording. I’ll start working harder to bring more stories from my perspective to you since there’s a lot of things happening in San Francisco now.

In the end I will enjoy your patronage which in turn will

A Requiem For Sidecar

Sidecar R.I.P.Today when people talk about ridesharing they don’t even use that word. They say, Uber or Lyft. Those are the big two everyone knows about, but there was a third company. This company started ridesharing where people who had a car could give other people a ride and make money in the process. That company was Sidecar.

Unfortunately, like many technology based companies, Sidecar will be ending its run tomorrow, December 31st, 2015. This saddens me in many ways because it was the first company I drove for and the people there really used to reach out to the drivers. Some of us, like myself were made Captains because of our interest in the company. We were able to give feedback, help train new drivers and host meet ups to answer questions other drivers had. This was something that Uber and Lyft didn’t do. There was very little wall between the drivers and the people who worked at Sidecar. Chances were if you drove for Sidecar you had met someone who worked there.

Sidecar was an innovative company in that it let the riders choose the drivers which for someone like me was great. I was a favorite among many of the riders and for a long time I rarely had much downtime. Then the fare wars started and Uber and Lyft started to drop prices to ridiculous levels. It used to be that if Uber fares were above 1.4x in surge it was cheaper to take a cab. Now if the fare exceeds 2.0x in surge it’s cheaper to take a cab.

The riders started to flock to Uber and Lyft and Sidecar unfortunately didn’t have the market penetration or money to advertise like the others and the riders fell off. They then moved over to incorporating deliveries which was great for drivers for a while, but then other delivery companies came in and the fare wars began again.

Ultimately, drivers needed to make a realistic amount of money to make it worth it to drive for any company and the drivers started to go where the money was. Drivers for Sidecar could set their own prices which in the end caused Sidecar to be more pricey than Uber or Lyft. This left Sidecar with only a handful of die-hard users that remained. I had made many friends and a few even had my phone number and would text me when they needed a ride, but because they were more expensive, even though the riders had more options, price beat out the service provided.

Now that will be gone and I’m sad because I probably won’t see a lot of those people anymore. I won’t have the fun chats or know ahead of time that the person I’m picking up won’t be so drunk that they’re going to pass out in my car or worse. I feel a loss that what could have been a great company from San Francisco has come to an end. Hopefully something will come out of this, but I suspect that 2016 will have many changes to the rideshare industry and gig economy so expect to see some changes here in the near future.

I Told You So…

A bus passes through a flooded roadway Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Mill Valley, Calif. A storm expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years swept across the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to tens to thousands and delaying travel by air, train and ferry. Pacific Gas & Electric is reporting outages are widespread across the Bay Area due to weather, but officials weren't immediately available to give a specific number of outages.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

OK, I don’t normally like to crow like this, but I had received lots of emails from people calling me out on the El Niño predictions I had made a couple of years ago. It’s here, it’s queer, and it won’t go away.

What did you just say? Yes, El Niño is odd weather that lots of people don’t quite understand. Today was a pretty good example. Rain was coming off and on all day and there were heavy downpours that I could look out my window and see temporary rivers of water flowing down the street. Then shortly after it started it would stop. Sometimes there was so much water that even after it stopped there were still rivers flowing down the street. I went out driving at one point when it wasn’t raining only to be hit with a sudden downpour, yet the sun was out making the rain look like diamonds falling from the sky.

So why is El Niño different than our regular weather? Well it’s got to do with the ocean heating up which causes more evaporation which when the warm moist air hits the cooler land causes greater condensation and rainfall. The problem is that this occurs in patches. Somethings their big patches that make you feel like a fire hose has been turned on the city and other times they’re just short bursts from small clouds for 3-5 minutes.

Overall, it’s a lot of water. Today, San Francisco only got about an inch of rain, but it came so fast that it seemed like it was a lot more. Up North there was 2-6″ of rain which makes me feel like I’m glad I don’t live in Redding. For San Franciscans, it’s good that there’s more rain falling up North because that’s where our water comes from and the reservoirs have been pretty dry for the past few years. This won’t be an instant fix, but it will definitely help over time.

Looking back to the last El Niño we had in 1997 there are a few suggestions I’d like to offer. I was driving on 101 South a couple of days ago and there was a sudden burst of rain. So much that the roads didn’t know how to handle it and there was minor flooding. No big deal says all the tough guys, but a half inch of rain on the ground leads to hydroplaning and your car or the car next to you can spin out quickly and cause an accident. Within the city we have hills and underneath the streets are storm drains. I didn’t see any today, but remember when the storm drains filled so much that the manhole covers were popping up spewing water out. Even though you’re driving up hill there can be a couple of inches of water running down the streets because of the concentration from the storm drains so you’ll have to watch out for that as well.

If it starts to get bad, just pull over to the side for a minute or two and the rain will stop. Think of San Francisco turning into Hawaii without all that extra heat. We’ll be living a lot like we’re in the tropics for the next few months, but a little on the chilly side for now. My best memory of the ending of the last El Niño was New Year’s Eve of 2000. I was grilling out in front of my house because it was 80° out. We’ll get warmer and the weather will get stranger over the next year. Let’s all hope that this will bring enough rain to California to make a significant end to the drought. Last time it gave us too much water and this one is supposed to be bigger than before.

Keep your fingers crossed and stay dry.

Carol Doda Has Left The Building

Carol DodaIt was a bit of a sad day when I read that Carol Doda had died. She was one of those people who left her mark on San Francisco in a big way on June 19th, 1964 when she was the first topless go-go dancer in San Francisco. She was 26 years old and probably had no idea how much she would become a fixture in San Francisco for many years to come.

I have to say I’m pretty glad that San Francisco is remembering her at her best. Shen she stopped dancing in the 80’s she opened a lingerie shop in a little back alleyway on Union Street. My girlfriend and I happened to be over there and saw the sign and decided to drop in for the hell of it. There she was, Carol Doda, fully clothed sitting right inside the front door. Geez, the stories she probably could have told then.

She was looking a little rough though. I had only seen some of the pin up photos of her when I was a kid and that’s what I always thought she looked liked, but I could see the lines on her face that told a story all by themselves and I could still see that young girl who was in all the pin ups I had seen. My Dad had one tucked away in his dresser that I’d sneak a look at before I was even ten [BOOBIES!]. I wasn’t even two when she first went on stage topless.

It really sucks when we get old. My Mom always used to read the obituaries and complain that people who died used pictures in their obituaries from when they were young. I don’t know why she didn’t understand it’s a drag getting old for lots of people. In Carol Doda’s case, I’m glad they’re focusing on the young Carol in the photo memories of her. That’s the way she should be remembered and I’m sure the way she would have wanted to be remembered.

Carol wasn’t born in San Francisco, but she made it her home and left a mark on the City. I’m glad San Francisco did it right.

Beep’s Burgers

Beep's BurgersIt’s not everyday that I visit an old place in San Francisco for the first time, but sometimes those old places change and not for the better and from what you’ve read it just doesn’t seem worth it. On the other hand sometimes those old places change again and it’s worth a shot. For me, it was finally time to try Beep’s Burgers.

I’ve driven past the place thousands of times driving down Ocean Avenue by City College. Beep’s used to look very run down and to me the idea of a drive in selling Asian food and oh yeah, we also can make a burger just didn’t seem very appealing. Things have changed once again and they have new owners and new paint. I have to say it was a welcome change.

Beep’s has come back in it’s original form as a drive in that specializes in burgers and hot dogs, but also has fish and chips, garlic fries, cheese poppers and a few other additions to their menu [note the prices have increased a little since this listing] that make it a bit more inviting than it once was.

Beep's BurgersThe burgers are made using Niman Ranch beef that normally I don’t like it when restaurants have to name their meat, but in this case it actually is better tasting. The bun is kind of brioche, kind of not bun which I actually liked. When you order you’re just getting the burger on a bun with lettuce and tomato. You have to specify everything else, but this isn’t a fast food place even though the wait for your food isn’t very long.

We tried the ¼ lb. cheeseburger and it had that greasy in a good kind of way taste. They got the right amount of fat in their burger. Normally a ¼ lb burger doesn’t make me feel very full afterwards, but this hit the spot when we added the onion rings as a side. Overall it’s a little more expensive than most fast food places, but is more in line with Super Duper and Five Guys price wise. The feel is that of a divey drive in, but not in a bad way. You’ll never feel underdressed here. While it’ll cost you a couple of bucks more than McDonald’s that across the street you’ll definitely enjoy it more.

AC in SF?

IMG_6619Pardon me for putting on my Grandpa voice, but back in my day the idea of air conditioning in San Francisco was something nobody ever considered. Yes, most of the houses didn’t have insulation or double/triple pane windows so they were always a bit drafty. We did have hot weather, but as soon as it was gone everyone forgot we had hot weather and started talking about how foggy it was.

Things have change though. People did these things called upgrades to their house and when we get warm weather the houses can get hot. The San Francisco mindset is that you don’t need air conditioning here and for the amount of day we get really hot weather I tend to agree, but there are some simple ways to remedy the heat when the problem comes up [like now].

If you look at the picture I’ve included I found this on YouTube and in its various forms has been called a Redneck air conditioner, Ghetto air conditioner or homemade swamp cooler. If you have a fan then the rest of the parts should cost you about $5. All you need for the simple form I have here is a 5 gallon paint bucket with a lid. You cut a hole in the top  where the fan is and drill out 3 holes in the sides [I choose 2 ?” holes because that was the diameter of the PVC scrap tubing I got was.  Inside you can fill it up with ice from the local store or freeze gallon milk jugs with water and put them inside. My house even with the window’s open gets up to almost 90° in hot weather and this brought the room down to just below 70° in about 15 minutes.

I’ve also attached a video that shows the full instructions if you want to pimp out this home-made AC for few more bucks.  If you want to beat the occasional heat that we get this is a much cheaper and easier way of doing it and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to do it. It’s not really a swamp cooler as that entails pulling or pushing air over circulating water. San Francisco also has a few higher humidity days that makes the evaporative cooling principles not work so well. If you have a couple of jugs of water to swap out this will keep you going 24/7 for those few days of hot weather we have.

As a last note if you’ve read this far I’ve got a collection of things to write about now that I’ve taken a much needed rest so keep checking back!

The New Mission

The Sunset VillageI think everyone [well almost everyone] will agree that the Mission District is sooooo 10 minutes ago now. It’s filled with tons of entitled techies who have nothing better to do than move out the long time residents. Well that’s what everyone is saying at least.

The down side is that now people are going to be looking for the that new cool in spot to live and I think I know where that is and I’ve been seeing it happening for a couple of years, but well, it’s starting to take hold now.

It’s the Sunset District.

Yes, you heard me right. The suburbs of San Francisco, the Sunset District that two years ago people who say was too far away to live in has suddenly become the place everyone is saying they love. I think a majority of this has to do with the fact that it was the last affordable place to live in San Francisco. That’s changing quickly though and here’s why this is a problem.

The Sunset District is different than the Mission District. There’s a three story height limit that rarely gets approval to build higher and when it does it’s usually along a major thorough fare or commercial section. The rest of the time it’s just houses, mostly two story with a few three story thrown in, but very few apartments and those are only again along the commercial parts which are few and far between.

The Sunset District is the largest of all districts in San Francisco to the point that it’s broken up into the Inner/Central/Outer Sunset and the Inner/Outer Parkside, but everyone refers to all of it as the Sunset District for the most part. Technically I live in the Inner Parkside area, which is odd because it’s further away from Golden Gate Park than the Sunset, but I’m not a real estate guru, so I don’t understand the naming conventions.

Here’s where the problem is. Since San Francisco can’t spread out any more so it can only go up, but with a three story limit in the Sunset District proper you can’t go up. It would also be very rare to find several home owners willing to sell their houses together so that they could be torn down and have an apartment building replace it. This means that rents and home values will increase exponentially because there is a finite amount of space available and if everyone wants to move here because of all the room, well that’s going to be like trying to fit a square boulder into a round keyhole — it ain’t going to happen. So the only way to limit those who get to live here is by raising the price.

I’m not sure how I feel about this as I’m in a lucky spot that most other people aren’t. The houses aren’t rent controlled unless they’ve been split into two or more units [which Mayor Lee and Supervisor Tang are trying to get illegal in-laws approved] and I’m sure someone will buy the few apartment buildings and tear them down and rebuild them so they won’t be covered under rent control either. This will leave the Sunset in a weird place. My former next door neighbors were 6-8 [I never could tell how many] college students that were splitting the 4 bedroom house along with turning the dining room and living room into places for someone to live. In the near future you could see the same thing, but it wouldn’t be college kids, but well financed workers [I won’t say techies, because there are a lot that aren’t in tech] living like college kids. That’s just weird to me. I guess because I’m old I can’t see a rich couple spending multi-millions of dollars on what I would consider a not so big standard 3-4 bedroom home.

Ye Olde Tiled StepsThe neighborhood itself is changing which I don’t think is a bad thing overall. There were lots of businesses that you’d drive by all the time, but you’d never have a reason to go into them, or if you did it would only be once in maybe five years. There are restaurants that you can’t figure out why they’re still in business when you never see anyone go in or out of them. Clothing stores that are tiny and you can’t imagine paying five times what you would pay online for their t-shirts. We’re starting to get people to notice that there’s a beach that’s kind of cool to visit more than the few sunny days out of the year and the area at the foot of Judah Street has evolved into a new area being called La Playa. While that area has been around for awhile and was a bit alone and to itself there are a few other places that have little things that make gentri-sense tingle:

  1. Twisted Doughnuts: OK, it’s a doughnut shop, but it sells maple-bacon doughnuts for $2.75 each. Bacon and doughnuts is a true sign of hipsters.
  2. Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company: Yes, we have a brew pub in the Sunset now. I actually like the idea that I don’t have to leave the Sunset to go to a brew pub, but now the parking along Noriega is nonexistent.
  3. Lou’s & Grubbin’: These are two gourmet sandwich shops. They’re both good, but they have lines out the door most days and I’m not sure where the lines are coming from.
  4. $4 Toast: Trouble Coffee seems kind of like a veteran now because it’s been there for a few years and they were one of the businesses that started people talking about how ridiculous SF has gotten. Maybe it’s all their fault that this started, but I doubt that.
  5. The Tiled Steps: There’s a few of them in the Sunset and someone’s redone them and now it’s a thing to take pictures of them and have your picture taken by them. Oh, did I mention that they’re in heavily residential areas?
  6. Taco Tuesdays: Once a thing of Nick’s Crispy Tacos and the Blue Light bars in Polk Gulch and the Marina we’ve had The Taco Shop at Underdogs attracting crowds now. They’re so packed on Tuesdays that they’re flowing out into the streets.
  7. The Poor Man’s Marina: I actually heard someone use this term to describe the Inner Sunset and I realized it’s kind of true. If you condensed down Union and Chestnut streets to 4 blocks you’d pretty much have the Inner Sunset. It’s been that way for a long time, but it’s gotten bigger and denser since 2010. More restaurants and bars per square foot than you can imagine. It’s a nice place to visit, but I can’t imagine living there now.

Now when I tell people from outside the Sunset that I live here it’s not that’s so far away, but I love the Sunset! It will be interesting to see what happens. I’m already seeing homes selling for past the million dollar mark out here and I suspect unless there’s a significant event that doesn’t make people want to love San Francisco the prices won’t go down any time soon. There are things I like about the changes, but the increase in traffic I’m already seeing I’m not liking very much. Hopefully someone will come up with an answer to that. You will notice I’ve left out the links I love to pepper my articles with and there’s a reason. I don’t want to make it easier to visit for you. 😉