Photo of the day: 20090120

©2009 Eric Kauschen
©2009 Eric Kauschen

A Wolf Eel at the California Academy of Sciences. This one will take your arm off if you make him angry.

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Joe’s of Westlake

Westlake Joe's
Westlake Joe's

Yesterday was me and my wife’s 12 year anniversary and my Mom gave us money to go out to lunch at Joe’s of Westlake. Now for those of you who don’t know about Joe’s there used to be several of them in the city but they’ve all gone except for the Joe’s at Westlake. This is an old school Italian restaurant. Think “The Soprano’s” who you go there. Last time I went there was probably 20 year’s ago and our waiter was a guy with grey hair who came up to us in his little waiter jacket and bowtie and I noticed his name was “Vinny”. That is how old school Italian this restaurant is.

I’m not sure who Joe was since as the photo reads, “Bruno Scatena’s Joe’s of Westlake.” Bruno, that name just adds to it. The restaurant is priced about on average with others of this caliber, maybe a little higher. Our meal came to about $57 with the tip for lunch.

So here’s what we had. Karen and I both ordered a Caesar salad to start and I had the Veal Parmigiana and she had the Roast Beef. The service was quick, but unfortunately, “Vinny” no longer works there and we got a very nice young girl who was quick to serve us. The salad came and was a bit overdressed and a little heavy on the anchovies, but if you’re going to a restaurant for the vegetables go to Green’s at Fort Mason. I thought it was pretty good and the croutons weren’t soggy which is always a plus. The main dishes came about 5 minutes after we finished the salads. I have to say I wasn’t expecting the veal portion to be so huge, but it was clearly 16oz of veal. I joked to Karen that maybe this was beef parmigiana instead of veal parmigiana. It had a huge slathering of bolognese sauce and and nice large chunk of parmesan cheese on top that was just starting to burn on the edges. It was moist and delicious, not tough like some veal gets from excess pounding. You get a choice of sides with your meal: spaghetti, rigatoni or ravioli. Again, more old school. I chose the ravioli and Karen chose the rigatoni. Karen’s roast beef was cut from a cross rib roast which I don’t usually like, but they managed to cook it like it was prime rib. The slab of meat was floating on a jus sauce that just helped everything along.

We didn’t try too hard to finish it all as we knew it was too much food and they packed it up for us to bring home and the leftovers fed three of us for dinner. While I wouldn’t give them a 10 overall, it was one of those San Francisco experiences you have to have at least once. The funniest part about Joe’s is their Joe’s Special. It is essentially ground beef, spinach, onions and mushrooms all cooked and mixed together and served on a big plate with absolutely nothing else. You of course get bread with your meal and that’s good for sopping up the stray juices from Joe’s Special, but still that mixture doesn’t sound as Italian as you’d think an Italian restaurant would have as it’s special. My Mom also raves about their big fat hamburgers. I’ll have to try one of those when I go back because they’re served on Italian sourdough bread not a bun. The couple next to us had the Joe’s Special and one of their burgers and I have to admit they both looked good even if the Joe’s Special looked kind of like something like you might be served in a Russian prison, but hey it’s a San Francisco tradition.

Oh, and lastly if you go ask for a table in the Cascade Room. The main room is a bit like Denny’s, but the Cascade Room has the white table clothes and nice booths and is generally more quiet. As you walk inside you might want to take a look at the bar. It’s got it’s own separate room where if you don’t want to be seen it’ll be easy as it’s very dark and the bartender is standing there whistling while he’s wiping down the glasses.

Check it out!

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Now THAT is one angry neighbor!

Don't mess with this guy!
Don't mess with this guy!

I was driving around today and happened to notice a sign on the side of someone’s house a couple of blocks from me. Now these people leave their garbage cans outside their house all the time. Technically in San Francisco you can get a ticket for that now because a lot of people were doing that and with your black can for garbage, your blue for recycling and your green for compost it can get to be a bit of an eye sore.

I guess the way these people get around this is by building a cute little nook to sort of hide them in. Let’s get real though, it’s not hiding them just putting them behind some ugly lattice work.

If you leave your garbage cans out even though they’re behind some lattice work cage people who have something to throw out are going to drop them in your can. If the homeowners don’t like that then they should do what is right and keep the cans in their house like their supposed to do. While I’m a pretty liberal kind of guy I’m not sure I’m going to like my young daughter seeing shit in big bold letters as she walks by the house because I know she’ll start saying “Shit! shit! shit!” instead of something like “Stop! stop! stop!” I think I might have to mention this to our local law enforcement people, but that might be considered a mean spirited of me.

I on the other hand wouldn’t mind people dropping off fish tanks in front of my house as I’d find a use for them. 🙂

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Car for Sale. $2500 firm

1995 Mercury Sable Wagon


Yes, I know this isn’t really about SF so much, but hopefully some of you might be interested in purchasing a great car that I’m trying to sell. Here’s the deal. My mom has decided she can’t drive anymore and we don’t need two cars. This car is a 1995 Mercury Sable Station Wagon. It had the original tires on it that were literally falling off so I replaced them with a new set of Sumitomo touring tires. The car was recently smogged and passed as always with flying colors. The inside was always kept up and my mom was the type of person that if she heard a rattle she’d run the car down to Gene’s Auto Service @ 45th and Judah [If you need car work done he’s very good and cheap!]. This car would list on Kelly Blue Book as Excellent except for the broken hinge on rear window that had to be welded because the hinges aren’t available any longer.

Here’s the kicker. The car only has 46k miles on it. That’s right, it’s a 14 year old car with only 14k miles on it. Aside from a couple of trips up to the Sierras and a few trips to Serramonte it’s been a city car. Here’s the spec’s if you want more info:


Seats 8 with rear-facing bench seat/storage in the third row.  

Very clean interior, no tears, all seat belts work.

Power windows and locks. (Tailgate window does not open and close, but tailgate opens and closes just fine)

New Sumitomo Tires
AM/FM radio and cassette player
A/C recently recharged
Washer motor recently replaced in front
Rear washer & wiper
Dual front air bags (never deployed)

If you like running carfax reports the VIN is: 1MELM55U9RA612715

Email me if you’re interested

Here’s a couple more pics:

left hinge on glass is welded so tailgate opens, but not the glass.
Left hinge on glass is welded so Tailgate opens, but not the glass.
Clean Interior
46,000 Miles. No rollover
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R.I.P. Deadpan Host of Horror

Bob Wilkins, R.I.P.
Bob Wilkins, R.I.P.

Thanks to my good friend Mike via email this morning I was informed that Bob Wilkins, the host of 70’s horror movie show Creature Features has died as of today. This is a bit sad to me because as a kid watching Bob on Saturday night along with ordering a pizza and hanging out with my friends watching cheesy old horror movies was the best thing a few 13 years could do since we couldn’t get booze yet.

Bob has a way about that was, well nerdish, babyfaced and deadpan. He rarely showed any emotion. I can’t remember ever seeing him laugh. He was just there, but that’s what made him something that added a bit of character in the Bay Area. I remember meeting him at a Star Trek convention at Civic Center sometime around 1976. [OK, maybe I shouldn’t have just admitted that.] All he said to me was, “Oh, Hello.” shook my hand and walked off.  That was about the friendliest I’ve ever seen him. It also made me realize how badly he reeked of the cigars he always smoked. Hopefully with a little luck KTVU channel 2 where the show ran will run a few repeats as a tribute. For now you’ll have to do with this short video I found on youtube.
Creature Features

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Best Dim Sum in the Avenues!

An old acquaintance from high school (Hi Steve!) posted a comment here asking where the best dim sum was in the Sunset district. That’s something I haven’t really found yet other than a place at 33rd and Noriega that has dim sum to go and I can’t remember their name, but from talking to my friends they brought up a very nice place I had forgotten about that I visited a while ago on Geary street called Ton Kiang.

It’s a nice sit down dim sum house that offers a wide variety of asian delights at a price much cheaper than the upper crusty Yank Sing. There’s usually a line out the door on weekends for people who come for a lunch of dim sum so keep that in mind. Another nice thing about Ton Kiang is that if you’re not too familiar with dim sum or you’re a white guy like me who doesn’t know more than 3 words of Cantonese [and those words you wouldn’t want to say in polite company, of course] the wait staff is happy to help you out by explaining what they’ve brought out. You can either order off the menu or just take what they bring by, but if you’re looking for good dim sum Ton Kiang is the place to go!

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Nuts to you!

Morrow's Nut House
"Morrow's Nut House"

Today is a bit of a sad day for San Franciscans. Morrow’s Nut House and it’s crazy owner Jackie Helbert have announced that they will close their doors for good on January 1st.

For those of you who haven’t visited I would suggest you do before the end of the year. Jackie was the loud & crazy woman who ran the place for the past 37 and had taken over from her mother. This is one of those family owned businesses that had just enough odd about it to make it truely a piece of SF history. While our local government is trying to keep all the Wal-marts and large corporate chains out of San Francisco to keep us special we still have those special odd little places like Morrow’s to keep us on our toes. Unfortunately we now only have a few more days to enjoy this little place where they roast their nuts daily. I think I’m going to take a little break from work here and walk over there just to remember the smell and to get some nuts.

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Keeping your head above water in SF.

Brother can you spare $100,000

As you’ve probably figured out, I love San Francisco a lot. Even though this is one of the top 5 most expensive cities to live in in the world. Becoming a parent wasn’t something I had planned on, but I’m glad I did it. I would assume most people don’t plan on becoming parents especially in this economy, but they do.

There are a lot of things they tell you about when you’re going to become a parent, but unfortunately, there’s a lot more that they don’t. For instance. Wife has the baby takes care of baby until maternity leave is up then goes back to work right? Not exactly. When your wife goes back to work that means that you have to pay someone to take care of the baby unless you have family members to do it for you [we don’t]. So now unless your wife is making more than $20/hour her after taxes paycheck is just handed over to the day care group. Does this sound right?

You can also add to the fact that San Francisco which I’m sure other cities share this has a large number of employers who don’t offer health insurance. I’m lucky in that my employer does offer it, but won’t pay anything into it. I don’t think this is legal, but hell, I’m getting health insurance for us at a less than what it would cost us on our own to get. Unfortunately, at the end of the month my take home pay to keep the three of us fed and healthy is equal to less than my mother’s monthly social security check. Something is not right here. In a city as great as San Francisco the middle class shouldn’t be forced into poverty just because they had a child. The only thing going for us is that we own our house. If we didn’t we’d be on the streets. 

Mayor Newsom is helping out by providing health care services which we would qualify for, but the services offered are a bit questionable as they’re clinics not true health care facilities. Something needs to be done, but at this point I’m not sure what. Richard Branson just started following me on Twitter so maybe he’ll make me his new charity. 🙂

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If you have an apple TV you’ll LOVE this

OK, this doesn’t really have anything to do with San Francisco other than the fact that I’m a computer geek and there’s lots of us in SF, but I have to share this because it had a pretty big wow factor for me. It’s a program called Boxee. This is a little hack that you load onto your apple TV with a thumb drive and it adds a boxee category to your apple tv that lets you watch streaming video from the internet. Why is this cool? Because now I can watch TV shows and movies for free on demand from I can also view on demand shows from Comedy Central, CNN, CBS, plus Netflix the list goes on and on. 

The authors of Boxee also stay on top of things and offer regular updates which you can update from your apple TV. The hitch? It’s in alpha stages right now and you can only get the software by getting an invite from the boxee crew. I found the quickest way was to follow them on Twitter then just send them a direct tweet asking for an invite. It also has companion software for your computer, but currently only works on intel macs and linux machines. Windows is in the works.

The installation now is much easier and doesn’t involve using the terminal interface. There is a third party that wrote a program called the ATV USB Creator. This program downloads and installs on a thumb drive all the software needed to install boxee on your Apple TV. Just run the program then take out your newly created patchstick and plug it into the back of your Apple TV and unplug it then plug it back in. You Apple TV will boot from the stick and load the software at which point you unplug your apple TV again, remove the stick and plug it back in and follow the process of logging into your boxee account. Apparently you can download the software to the patchstick even if you haven’t received an invite, but once you have it loaded you’ll need to log into your account to use boxee so I wouldn’t bother doing this until you have the account.

quick intro to boxee from boxee on Vimeo.

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I’ve Got a Guitar and I’m Not Afraid to Use It! is out

I just checked in at iTunes today and noticed that my new album has finally made it’s way to iTunes! You can check it out by clicking on the iTunes button.
Eric Kauschen - I've Got a Guitar and I'm Not Afraid to Use It!

I’d really appreciate it if you give a 5 star rating just to jump me up a bit in with the big leagues. Besides, at $8.91. It’s a steal!

If you’re not an iTunes type of person you can also get it from for the same price or listen online at emusic! [PS if you go the emusic route click on the link here to get 35 downloads for free! It helps my friends out.]

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