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 hulu.com. 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 Amazon.com 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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The Quest for Mex

Beach Burrito
El Beach Burrito, 3914 Judah St, SF, CA 94122

I have a love of Mexican food. I eat it at least a couple of times a week and I’m lucky enough to have the two best taquerias in San Francisco and they’re both in the Sunset District.

WHAT?!?!?

For Mexican food you have to go to the Mission District right? Wrong. The food out there isn’t up to par with two places in the Sunset District. I used to think you would go to Mission for Mexican, but after I got a burrito with peas and carrots in it or a quesadilla that was so greasy on the inside AND outside I have to give props to El Burrito Express and Beach Burrito. Now for burritos you definitely go to El Burrito Express. They are hands down the best. For tacos and tostadas and all the other stuff, head over to Beach Burrito. We just came back from there and we each got a chili verde chicken super taco. For those of you unfamiliar with it, chili verde is “green chicken” that means it’s been marinated in a green tomatillo salsa. We each got one with chips and a coke and my wife and I got lunch for under $9. The best part is that these are like the “street tacos” you would get in Mexico [and yes I’ve been there and had them]. You get the standard meat and cheese plus salsa, beans [black is my choice] lettuce, guacamole & sour cream. One is enough for me, but my appetite is starting to grow a bit so I might have to start getting two.

Those chilis look like they have weiners.

It’s ironic that the best Mexican food is found in a place with very few hispanics living, but it wasn’t me that gave them the title it was the SF Weekly and Bay Guardian. Two of our local papers that are the alternative publications for the City.

Now I do have to add that Beach Burrito, while it’s good could be better, but it does have something else going for it. The atmosphere of the neighborhood. Beach Burrito is located in SF’s outside lands meaning it’s close to the beach. There’s a little strip on Judah Street just as you pass Sunset Boulevard that you have these little dots of commercial property. When you get down to 44th avenue that’s where the fun starts. This whole strip down to the beach is a great place to be. I used to live just a couple of blocks from here and on the weekends when it’s sunny [and yes, the Sunset does get sun now] it’s a great place to spend a lazy afternoon. Just next door is the Javaholics coffee, smoothie & ice cream shop and on the other side is the Other Avenues health food store then you’ve got the Sea Breeze Cafe [that’s for another post]. These places are all run by locals and it’s fun to walk the streets. Down at the end of Judah is Java Beach. It started as a small coffee shop that’s upgraded to adding a beer & wine bar as well as serving food. This place is packed frequently and the Sunset locals like to come by have a coffee or beer and shoot the shit. They done such a good job that they just opened up another Java Beach out near the zoo. 

So in all I’ve had a good day so far. I got me my Mexican food and it was good.

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The San Francisco Zoo

The African SavannahI’ve always had a bit of a problem with the SF Zoo. I always used to love going there, but now with the upgraded and newly added areas there are parts of the old zoo that are still there that look very, well, old. The new lemus exhibit and african savannah are very nice, but when you travel across and see the new grizzly gulch area right next to the old bear grottos those old bear grottos look pretty dilapidated.

As you walk around you seem to move from the good new looking exhibits right next to the old exhibits through out the zoo. Some are completely empty and overgrown with weeds, others harken back to the days where zoos were built similar to a public bathroom in a cage–concrete floors and walls with a drain in the center.

Maybe part of the reason is that they need more money to rebuild the outdated areas or figure out what to do with the areas that just need a little work. After returning from todays journey out there I thought it was kind of odd that they’ve added an ice skating rink for Christmas time right smack in front of the area that used to be the main entrance. Incidently if you walk around that they’ve also set up a corral on the grass to house some reindeer in a temporary display. Unfortunately if you turn and look to the left the have managed to use the space in front of the old Mother’s Building with the old concession stands. It kind of makes think of it as the little zoo that tried and couldn’t.

My feelings are maybe they should close the zoo for a year or so and just rebuild all the exhibits that need rebuilding and work on getting more animals to fill out the empty exhibit areas. The map that they give you on the way in even has areas marked as “future” exhibits. Sort of a, “Here’s what you’d see if we had it, but we don’t.” The Primate Center which was the first remodeled section is beginning to show it’s age and needs a fresh coat of paint and maybe some rustoleum on the metal. The central area home to the old elephant and lion houses needs a lot of work and looks more like a prison camp for the animals than a place to proudly display them. The orangutans are gone, being replaced by the Leaping Lemur Cafe. Monkey Island is gone being replace by, well I’m not sure exactly, but it’s not there anymore. The Children’s Zoo has been beefed up quite a bit, but is very disorganized and the main part of it is still the Family Farm which is basically, goats, sheep and poop.

The three places I’d recommend highly are the African Savannah, Lemur Forest and the Australian Walkabout. If you have kids you can give them a ride on the restored Dentzel Carousel built in the 1920’s. Grizzly Gulch you could pass on unless you really like grizzly bears, but it’s just two of them in a relatively small space that’s just a little bit bigger than the current bear gulags, I mean grottos. Definitely bring your lunch as the cafes while now going upscale have more than done so in price. A 20oz soda at one of the concession stands along the way will cost you $3.00 and a churro will cost you $3.50

$15 for adults $12 if you’re an SF resident. $8 for parking [which if you’re smart and don’t mind a little walk you can get for free. Easily accessible from the L-Taraval metro line or from the slower than molasses 18 & 23 buses. Check it out, but I wouldn’t put it way up on your list. Leaping Lemur Cafe serves up Pizza & Pasta with free Wi-Fi while the Playfield Cafe serves up Asian specialties and the Terrace Cafe is a taqueria with burgers and fries.

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Photo of the day: 20081127

Conservatory of Flowers

One of the best places to experience Golden Gate Park
©2008 Eric Kauschen

This has got to be one of the best places to experience Golden Gate Park.

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Photo of the day: 20081125

Museé Mechaniqué

©2008 Eric Kauschen
©2008 Eric Kauschen

A place to experience what life in San Francisco was like prior to the invention of videogames, cell phones and social networking. This photography is from a diorama of a country fair where after you insert 50¢ it comes to life. You can see this at Pier 41 on Fisherman’s Wharf.

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Photo of the day: 20081124

Japanese Tea Garden

Come for the garden, stay for the tea!
©2008 Eric Kauschen
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Damn those backpacks!

There. I’ve said it. I feel much better now. If you’ve ever taken Muni during rush hour you know what I’m talking about. People wearing their backpacks on the buses and metro that stick out almost a foot from them blocking people from passing them. Even worse is when the turn sideways because they think their thinner and end up smacking with they’re backpack loaded with bricks or what ever the hell they need to carry with them to work or school. 

When it was just school kids I could understand. They’ve got all those books to carry and help cause spinal deformaties during their growing years [ok that’s for another post so I’ll stop that now], but adults who feel a need to carry two cubic feet of “stuff” with them to work I don’t understand. I tend to be a bit of a frugal guy and can pack a weeks worth of clothes into a carry-on. I also tend to choose the most compact multitasking things I need when I travel. Like my cell phone. It’s an mp3 player, a clock, a camera, a video camera and an FM Radio [and no it’s not an iPhone]. What the hell are they packing into those things? I think I might have to start asking them.

One of the things that would be a good idea for people to do is to take the packs off when you get on metro and carry them down in front of you then put them down between their feet when you get to your space. Yes, if you have to move you’ll have to waddle a bit like a penguin, but you’ll only have to move a foot or two at the most. I’d almost go so far as to say that should be the law, but let’s try and work together and make it just a rule to live by when you’re taking public transportation.

I’m a cranky old man, and I approve of this message. 🙂

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You might be a sunset redneck if…

"The half of me that ain't yore sister wants to have sex with you!"

The Sunset District is a place I’ve called home for 40+ years. It’s an odd place that’s enveloped by fog which then will switch to hot sunny day. This is the secret of the Sunset that’s been kept from the rest of San Francisco and with global warming it only gets better as there’s less fog and more sun. Now the oddest part is that beachfront property in any other city carries a high price, but in the Sunset, it’s where we have all the low income, section 8 housing.

My guess is that came from the pre-global warming days when down at the beach there were two kinds of weather, raining, and gonna rain. There were cars up on blocks in people’s front yards or if they weren’t, they were rusting from all the salt air out at the beach. Now, thanks to C. W. Nevius of the SF Chronicle it has brought the Sunset Redneck to the forefront in an article I read today. Now I don’t remember meth labs and whorehouses in the Sunset when I was growing up, but I do remember the working class people who were trying to get ahead by saving money every way they could. I’ve decided to expand on C.W.’s article [what the hell does the C. W. stand for that it sounds so horrible he has to use C.W. anyway? It just reminds me of the actress S. Epatha Merkelson. How bad is that S if Epatha Merkelson is ok?] by creating a list of things common to the Sunset Redneck. See if you qualify even if you aren’t in the Sunset.

1. You have a car up on blocks in your front yard. [bonus if it’s an olive green 1967 Cougar]
2. The last minute and a half of Freebird is the ringtone on your cellphone
3. Girls: you put your makeup on after getting on the L-Taraval or N-Judah and are finished by Sunset boulevard
4. You’ve got a freezer in your basement
5. You’ve got an electric guitar in your basement, but you don’t play guitar
6. Someone says, “The Riptide”, “Kelly’s bar and no grill” or “Club Scirrocco” and you know the bartenders.
7. A sunny weekend means you pull 2 chaise lounges onto your driveway with a cooler of Budweiser.
8. Your lawn is what gardeners refer to as “weeds.”
9. Your mama still doesn’t know ’bout that tattoo you got.

Yep, I’m a Sunset Redneck and wees good peoples.

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