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Posts Tagged 'hot'

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!

“We’re Not Prepared For This Weather…”

 

It's Nice Today...It seems like every year I hear the same thing from places all over the Bay Area, We’re not prepared for this weather! It’s summer. It gets hot. Be Prepared. OK, maybe in San Francisco that isn’t completely true except for this year where we’ve been hit by warmer than average temperatures for this time of year, but it’s the same type of heat we get in September so we got hit a few months early. It’s not like everyone puts their air conditioning in cold storage until September. Oh wait, San Franciscans don’t have air conditioning.

I’ll try and explain weather to all of you since it seems everyone forgets what it is every year around here. This could be due to all the newcomers that rotate in and out of the city every year, but summer in San Francisco isn’t supposed to be warm. It might be warm compared to Alaska [or Alturas which has got to be the coldest place in California], but it’s not what people expecting summer weather expect.

The reason it’s so odd is that [my apologies, I’m not a meteorologist] we get warm air over the water that hits the cold air over the land. The warm ocean air contains more moisture which condenses when it hits the cold land giving you…fog. Summer’s in San Francisco tend to be foggy around the coast with a few places like Potrero and the Mission where it burns off very quickly because they get the sun earlier in the day to warm the land and create a bit of equilibrium between the two.

For people who grew up here we have an old saying, You know you’re in San Francisco when you put on your heavy winter jacket to barbecue in July and make sure you’ve got a tank top on when you run out for a six pack in October.

San Francisco is kind of backwards weather wise and even then we don’t really have weather. It might get a few days into the freezing temperatures in December and January and we might get into the upper 90’s a couple of days in September and October. That’s pretty much the extremes we get. Snow is pretty much unheard of since 1976 and we don’t get tornados or hurricanes here either. We do get rain and hail, but our weather hasn’t gotten that message lately. We’ve been experiencing a rather dry year so far and while I can’t say that’s why it’s hot it’s just one of those things you should be prepared for.

Most San Franciscans already know to dress in layers so that shouldn’t be a problem and most people also carry water bottles so dehydration isn’t really a factor. Most of the companies that I’ve worked for also have air conditioning installed even though they hardly ever need it so the whole, we’re not prepared for this weather is kind of a joke to me.

We all have to go outside and even if you’ve been here only a couple of months you should know how to deal with the weather. If not then I suggest San Diego where the meteorologists are overpaid because every day is, nice.

San Francisco And The Hot Dog

Schwarz Sausage CompanyI felt that I couldn’t talk about a burger joint yesterday without giving some time to that venerable processed tubular meat product known as the Hot Dog. I wrote an article some time ago about Treasure Island Hot Dogs that I couldn’t find very much info on, but Uncle Frank from the Hot Dog Hall of Fame [yes there is one] who mentioned Schwarz Sausage Company of San Francisco so I did a little more digging.

While the Hamburger originated in Hamburg, Germany by Russian traders who brought their habit of eating raw minced meat [ala steak tartare] the Hot Dog started it’s life in Frankfurt, Germany as well as Vienna, Austria [where the name weiner comes from]. It wasn’t until Germans brought them to America that some schmuck here got the idea of wrapping them in bread so you didn’t burn your hands while walking around eating them.

The Hot Dog predates the origin of the Hamburger in the U.S. by a number of years and it has spread all over the U.S. in various forms creating localized renditions through out the country. It was here that I had to start my search. If they are everywhere what would make them so special to San Francisco? We have dungeoness crab that while you can find it all up and down the coast, it tastes different here. Then of course there’s sourdough bread that only can exist here because of our local bacteria that even if you got some starter and were using it in another part of the country it would last you a couple of weeks and then it would be gone.

So what is so San Francisco about the Hot Dog? Well as it turns out if you’ve ever gone to a local sporting event and purchased a hot dog [not sushi and chardonnay] you probably had a Schwarz Sausage Company hot dog. They began life in a part of the Mission District sometime around 1911 in a part that was known as Germantown. That was the first I had heard of a Germantown being in San Francisco, but we are a city of change after all. There was also Casper’s Hot Dogs, but they actually started in San Leandro in 1934 so their close, but no hot dog, er, cigar.

Schwarz also was a big supplier of the public schools so those hot dogs you ate growing up here were probably from Schwarz. They make several types and not just the all beef type, but they also have some with pork and veal inside and while I tend to gloss over the hot dog at times as being more about what you put on it than in it, you can taste a difference between them. While Schwarz has been bought by Engelhart Gourmet Foods and moved to Fairfield, CA they still have a consumer outlet in the part of Mission that’s referred to now as La Lengua.

Say, did I just say sometime in Spanish? Well the San Francisco experience for hot dogs is usually found by street vendors in the Mission who sell grilled hot dogs wrapped in bacon. Apparently the Mexican immigrants brought that from Mexico and it has caught on here at least in the Mission. We don’t have too many hot dog joints and when you do find them they’re more fast food than localized. The best place [in my opinion] to get a hot dog is from a hot dog stand. While I have grown over the years learning to put different things on a hot dog [note I used to put only mayo on a hot dog that would creep out anyone who watched me do it and eat it] I’ve found that grilled hot dogs never did it for me. Now if you wrap it in bacon that changes things because the bacon fat would keep the hot dog from blistering and well, as we all know, everything is better with bacon.

Note that if the danger dogs from a Mission Street cart scare you there’s always the palace of tubular meat products, the Rosamunde Sausage Grill that makes it smothered in onions called the Mission Street that I notice is available at every location except the Haight Street location. Well, at least they have it at their Mission Street location.

Condiment Klepto

I realized today that I have a thing for swiping extra packets of the various sauces at fast food places.Most of the time it’s because they’re odd or interesting. I actually grabbed a handful of jalapeño relish from a place before because I had never seen it. Other times it’s because if we went out and bought even a small jar of some of the sauces we’d have to throw it out before we were able to finish it.

Salt and pepper I don’t need to swipe since we only use kosher salt and pepper is easy to get. Oh the other hand things like Chinese mustard or tartar sauce we’d never go through an entire jar of the stuff before it goes bad. I also like some of the stranger sauces because who knows? Some day you’ll ask yourself what a french fry tastes like when you dip it in duck sauce [not too bad actually].

Maybe you only need a little packet of thousand island dressing for you hamburger so you can feel like you’ve just gone to McDonalds and had a Big Mac. I like to think of myself as being frugal and saving a bit of money. Mustard and ketchup we never use very often so it’s nice to be able to pull a hermetically sealed packet from the fridge only when you need it. We have a couple of friends who whenever they come over we have a tradition of ordering some Hawaiian food. I’ve finally gotten my wife to understand that if we just use the plastic utensils they give us and recycle them afterwards we won’t have so many pieces of silverware to wash [that’s the rational way of saying I’m lazy].

The day I start filling my pockets with packets of mayonnaise is the day I’ll need to be locked up though.

Why Being a Meteorologist Sucks in San Francisco

Louis Black once said that the best job in the world would be the weatherman in San Diego, “How’s the weather today Bob?…Nice.” Now I don’t want to put down our local meteorologists [the new way to de-sexify weatherman], but our people who handle the weather have their work cut out for them and they should get paid more than the same people in San Diego where it’s nice.

I love my weather app on my iPhone and since my wife is from the East Coast I’ve learned that the Weather Channel is sacred to them back there. Whenever someone from the East Coast comes to SF they always want to watch the Weather Channel for some reason. I always tell them you can watch, but don’t expect them to get it right all the time.

San Francisco has four micro-climates, The Fog Belt out by the beach, the Banana Belt out in the Mission, The Wind tunnel of downtown and I’m not a meteorologist, so I don’t remember the name of the fourth, but I believe it’s on the Bay side of the city. When I lived out in the Mission district for six years I don’t think I put on a sweatshirt once unless I was traveling over the hills to get to my parents house in the Sunset where I gladly live now. Here in the Sunset I sometimes get to wear a short sleeve shirt, but it’s usually under several layers because the morning start out cold and wet and sometimes actually warm up so you have to shed your layers of clothes until around 2-3pm when the wind starts to kick up and then you put on heavier clothes if you have to spend time outdoors at all.

Meteorologists always have to give a forecast for the coasts and inlands because you can see as much as a 40° difference in weather. When I go to work it’s cold and wet out here in the late morning and when I get to work in Marin it’s bright and sunny. It was warm there today and for once they got it right. It was supposed to be hot on Friday, but then the wind changed direction and it got cooler and foggier. Then yesterday it was supposed to be heavy fog at the coasts and it was more like an overcast day with high clouds, at least in the Sunset. Richmond District may have been worse.

We all know that the best way to spot a tourist in San Francisco is anyone you see downtown in Summer in shorts. May, if we’re lucky and then usually September & October are the times for wearing your tank tops and shorts [usually]. Sometimes like when we had the big el Niño in the late 90’s we had to wear our winter coats in July and I was grilling in shorts and a tank top on New Year’s Eve. There’s a lot of things that screw with our weather here, but it’s mostly the winds on the coast and the hills. I called my wife from work today to see how things where going, “It’s cold and wet”. I didn’t really want to tell her I was basking in 78° bright sun in Marin, so I just left that out, but she likes the fog here anyway.

Predicting the weather is a hit or miss option in San Francisco so make sure the next time you listen to a weather report to cut your weatherperson a little slack. If they could control the weather they wouldn’t care what you think because they’d be Gods. Oh and contrary to popular belief, Mark Twain never said, The coldest summer I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

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