John Avalos For Mayor

Yesterday I had a chance to meet with Supervisor John Avalos at a campaign meeting with the members of the Sunset District. I have to say that while he, like the majority of others who are running for Mayor wasn’t born and raised in San Francisco, but I do have to admit he connected with the people because his district, The Excelsior isn’t much different than the Sunset.

The evening started off good when after I walked in I was accosted by Andy Wernette, Twitter’s own Terrapin_SF. Ah yes, the bloggers are here. I got introduced to Tom of Ocean Beach Bulletin, Greg from N-Judah Chronicles and Andy’s wife @Michfit. While we attacked the perils of blogging and how much google’s adsense sucked Supervisor Avalos was wandering around schmoozing the crowd. There is always a bit of game playing when you deal with politics in public, but I have to admit that John didn’t make you feel like you were being played. He made you feel like he was one of us.

The best part about the evening is that I receive emails daily from people running for Mayor who offer you a chance to come out and have coffee with them while they tell you how we’re the greatest city and they’re going to make it better. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Supervisor Avalos invited the Sunset District out for beer and pizza and he picked up the tab. John, you know the working class Sunset District I have to say. While pizza and beer are cheap, coffee is cheaper. John Avalos kicked it up a notch by feeding the huddled masses at The Pizza Place which is in my opinion the best pizza place in the Sunset.

Supervisor Avalos gave a speech on the points he wanted to make of what he would do as Mayor. He is a progressive with his eyes on preserving the ecology of San Francisco favoring grass and nature over concrete and astroturf. A rather humorous point was met during his speech when he mentioned high taxes for properties valued at over $5 million dollars which brought about a boo from one person who then yelled taxation is Communism! OK guy, go back and take your political science course again and prove to me that you passed, then I’ll let you vote. John’s speech wasn’t long, but he got to the point quickly. I was lucky enough afterwards to introduce myself and get to pull him outside to talk privately for a few minutes.

I’ve got to say that John is not a blow dried, hollywood style political figure. I told him my story and we talk about raising kids in San Francisco [which he thinks the schools need to do a better job of teaching]. He really did seem like one of us. I lived in the Excelsior for 6 years and it was a great place to live at the time. I’m glad to be back in the Sunset though and it was good to hear that we had a lot in common and John had an interest in looking after all of San Francisco, unlike some other Mayoral candidates who will go unnamed at this time.

John Avalos for Mayor. I think he is someone to keep an eye on right now.

Tempura Guy™ Strikes Back!

A long time ago in a Trader’s Joe’s far away…wait, nope scratch that, I mean the Trader Joe’s at Stonestown. I went in the other day because we had run out of…tempura shrimp. Alas there was nothing in the freezer case and I walked to the back to ask an employee if they had any in stock in the back. She rushes out to verify that I had just told her there is no tempura shrimp in the house. She then runs off to find a manager or someone to ask about when it will be coming in. I wait…

About five minutes later she comes back and informs me, Oh, we don’t have it because we’ve discontinued stocking it. WHAT?!?! Now if you remember back a few days you’ll remember that they had discontinued it, but at my request restocked it only to find out that it was selling and that they had sold out when I went back only to have the staff running around frantically to calm down Tempura Guy™ so that he would not level the store.

Well apparently I wasn’t scary enough the first time since this impish little waif did not fear The Wrath of Tempura Guy™. Tempura Guy™ goes into stealth mode and upon returning home visits the Trader Joe’s website and using the contact form sent a noted regarding the Stonestown Trader Joe’s that they had discontinued, then restocked, then discontinued again a produce in less than a month! Add major sabre rattling and huffing and puffing to the electronic correspondence and click submit.

Tempura Guy™ loves his keyboard lycanthropy and the power it brings him. Tempura Guy™ feels good about himself and his love of the holy tempura shrimp, hallowed be thy panko encrusted name. Then, it happens. The Darth Vader theme ringing from his iPhone alerts him to a phone call from Trader Joe’s. Tempura Guy™ answers and hears the voice of a stammering store manager apologizing profusely, something akin to…Lord Vader, we, I a mean…uhm, well…I am terribly sorry Tempura Guy™, I don’t know who told our crew member that, but they were terribly misinformed and we have two cases in the back to fulfill your needs and desires for tempura shrimp and we are stocking our freezer cases right now. Ok, that sounds a little creepy to me. I mean it’s not like I’m buying it for sexual gratification, I just like the taste of it. He really did use the words needs and desires.

So now I am off to Trader Joe’s where I will hear whispered conversations as I pass the crew members of, it’s Tempura Guy™ as the crew members step out of my way. I think I will add to the frivolity by asking to speak with the manager and shake his hand for coming through for me. If I had the time I would make some sort of stupid plaque that says something like, Tempura Guy™ blesses this Trader Joe’s.

Tempura Guy™ is happy now. Apologies to Lord Vader and Khan.



It’s Not Easy Stealing Green…

I was prompted to write today’s post by events of last night. Tuesday Morning is garbage pick up day for us and so we put our cans out Monday evening. I get preoccupied every Monday and I can put the cans out between 6pm and 10pm. The same thing happens every time I put them out. Within five minutes I hear a rustling outside to find the picture included with this post.

Now while you can’t exactly tell from this picture, the woman rifling through my recycling is an elderly Chinese woman. You can see them throughout the day traveling around with shopping carts filled with stolen recycling or rifling through public garbage cans on the street in commercial areas.

Here is where I have a couple of points I’d like to make:

  1. First off, you may not realize this, but this is technically theft. To go through the cans that are the property of the City and Country of San Francisco to retrieve material of value [i.e. aluminum cans and other recyclable material] you are robbing the City and County of San Francisco of money that could be used in the long run to reduce costs of garbage collection. I’ll admit that while they won’t get rich off of it, they have the trucks to process it more quickly than a person walking down the street with paper bags so they can get more bang for the buck than the average recycle raccoon going through your bin can.
  2. This is aimed at all the Tiger Mom’s and Dad’s out there. I understand that you want your children to make something of themselves in life, who wouldn’t? How does this make your kids feel when they are told to work hard, get a good job, build a good family so that when you are retirement age you retire and walk around in salvation army clothes digging through other people’s garbage in the dark of night? Do you really want these people to send that message to your kids?

These are not role models I want my daughter to learn and even though the people are nice when I encounter them saying thank you, they need to realize that I and other people in San Francisco don’t put out our recycling to support you. We put it out to support the city and help lower prices a bit. If you’re going to steal my recycling to cash in then I’m going to have to ask for a cut of your profit. After I’m finished with this article I am going to make a sign and put it on my recycling container that says, If you remove recycling from this container I expect to have a $20 bill dropped in my mailbox on the first of every month. If I do not receive $20 per month I will photograph you removing my property and turn it over to the police.

Let’s face it, if THEY’RE going to make a buck on me, then I’m going to make a buck on them.

Why There Will Never Be A Straight Pride Day

The city of San Francisco had a fabulous weekend of marches and parades. There was the transexual march on Saturday along with the Dykes on Bikes drive from Dolores Park and of course the Gay Pride Parade. The city this weekend was FAB-U-LOUS! This brought a thought to my mind. Why is there no Straight Pride Parade?

Several years ago on a mailing list of people I went to high school with there a couple of somewhat homophobic people who protested that homosexuals shouldn’t have a day to celebrate. This was hit with a gay friend of mine saying that heteros get to celebrate every day. Hmmmm, not exactly was my first thought. about the only way heteros get to celebrate is by the guys going to a strip club and dropping money on girls who take their clothes off and simulate girl on girl activities, oh wait that’s straight guys watching mock lesbians. Wait, we see that at the gay pride events every year, it’s just that the guys aren’t paying.

Well, the  straight guys could all collect themselves on a float with their penii hanging out pointing at them and screaming, for women only! but you have to admit a bunch of guys standing together on a float with their penii hanging out looks a little, well, gay. Women could collect half naked on a float writhing around at which point the guys would be screaming once again for girl/girl action which of course would put them in the lesbian category.

The whole pride thing started out to celebrate the fact that there’s nothing wrong with being homosexual, then the bisexuals were added in, then the transgenders hopped aboard which some of them while being once male or female have switched sex might now be attracted to the opposite of their new sexual orientation making them technically straight, or if they are attracted to the same as their new sex would make them gay, but since they were once the opposite sex makes them kind of straight, so…did I loose anyone here?

Pride day, which has turned into pride month pretty much celebrates an act against normalcy. Normalcy is something you can’t celebrate because it’s, well, kind of boring. We don’t even have a good line we could chant in a parade. We’re here we’re straight we pay our bills, uhm, you know we’re normal doesn’t go over too well. Celebrations need a bit of antinomianism to them to be fun. You’ve got to do something a bit naughty to enjoy yourself. Normal people aren’t very naughty. Our former Governor cheats on his wife and has a love child BOR-ING. That is so 10 minutes ago it’s not even in the local papers anymore. The only way a politician can get more publicity is by soliciting a homosexual encounter in an airport bathroom or by sexting pictures of what might be his engorged penis to underaged girls [that’s straight, but wrong right?]

I did a search this morning for straight pride and was surprised by what it turned up. Most of the small group of people who celebrate straight pride do so by speaking out that homosexuality is an abomination of nature. OK, so if everyone was heterosexual you’d have nothing to speak up about. Well, that’s a definite party buzz kill. I couldn’t find anything that these groups could put a finger on to give them something to celebrate for being straight.

So with that being said, I wish all my non-breeder, non-Mormon, non-no sex having people my hopes that you had a wonderful weekend. Now I’m off to iTunes to gift I kissed a girl by Katy Perry to Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. Be Fab-U-Lous everyone.



Yoga for the Ears…

I’ve been one to play around with binaural beats in the past. These are tones that you listen to through headphones that are supposed to retune your brain for a number of things. They are supposed to make you more focused, wake up and be alert or even help you fall asleep. Some people list this as pseudo-science and while being skeptical I like to keep an open mind.

Well, while my own results have been mixed on doing it myself, I found an app a friend recommended to me that made a world of difference. It’s called Brain Wave by Banzai Labs and is available for the iPhone and iPad. They aren’t making these for the Android, but I can tell you that this is a fun app. Many of their apps seem to be in the brain tweaking realm.

I had to hop on the bus the other morning for an interview and because it was early in the morning I had to leave the house I decided to use it to run the focused and alert program. It has ambient sounds to go along with it so you aren’t just hearing the binaural beats in and of themselves. This is pretty good because when you listen to binaural beats through headphones you sort of hear a tone that sounds like it’s panning back and forth between your ears rather quickly. Let me say that about 10 minutes into the trip I felt myself perk up quite quickly and I definitely was very focused and alert.

The way you create a binaural beat is to combine two mono tracks to form a stereo track. Here’s an example, if you want to stimulate the 4hz frequency of your brain [that’s the area that gives you spiritual bliss-like feelings] you create a tone of say 400hz on one side and on the other you use a tone of 404hz. The 4hz difference when you listen through headphones are supposed to tune your brain to accentuate those frequencies and bring you into that state of mind.

This program gives you a choice of 25 different settings from Morning Coffee, Esperesso Shot, Morning Meditation, Focused and Alert, Critical Thinking, Concentration, Memory Boost, Problem Solving, Confidence Boost, Pre-Excercise Energy, Creativity Boost, Positive Mood Boost, Euphoria, Stress Reduction, Anger Relief, Calm Reflection, Reduce Anxiety, Deep Relaxation, Mediation, Lucid Dreaming, Sleep, Vivid Dreams, Power Nap and Deep Sleep.

While I haven’t tried all of these yet, I’ve tried several and I’m pretty pleased with the results. As I am typing this article up I’m running the Euphoria program and I have to say I’m getting the giggles something fierce. Each of the programs has a minimum setting length so that you can get the full effect in the least amount of time. Most of the programs run for 30 minutes minimum, but some will do the job in 20 minutes. For $1.99 it’s definitely a program that can help you get your head in the right space with very little effort. The ambient sounds are ocean, thunder and rain [my favorite for use during the power nap setting], light and medium rain, flowing creek and pink noise [not recommended unless you’re a total geek.]

One thing to keep in mind is that if you are an epileptic or prone to seizures you might want to consult your doctor first. 10hz tends to trigger seizures in people. I say give it a shot and tell me what you think. If nothing else you’ll get to listen to some interesting experimental music that might have you thinking in a different way. It’s kind of like yoga for the ears.



Why Does Our Produce Suck?

If you had asked me that question 15 years ago I would have said, who cares. I didn’t eat much in the way of vegetables. You’d be lucky to see me eat a potato or have a salad. Most of that changed when I met my wife who was practically a vegan when we met and today I have to ask what happened to the quality of our produce.

I used to be proud when my in-laws came to visit. Going to a grocery store here was like walking into Saks Fifth Avenue. Their eyes would widen at all the fresh produce that was available and how nice it looked. I didn’t realize what it was like for them until I took my first trip back east to see them. The produce sections were scrawny and lettuce meant iceberg lettuce only. Iceberg is to lettuce like spam is to prime rib. It crunches, but has no flavor of its own and should be relegated to being a garnish rather than the base of a dish. I’d need another hand to count the types of lettuce we have available to us out here, but suddenly we’ve discovered a problem…it’s all turning to crap.

We’ve gone to the local grocery stores and produce markets lately and the cucumbers feel like they need a viagra to firm them up. The lettuce is wilted with brown spots inside near the heart. The tomatoes are mushy, the apples aren’t as crisp, etc, etc.

What happened? We’ve even gone to farmer’s markets where we’ve bought organic produce only to come home and find upon closer inspection that most of it is dirty and starting to rot and has to be thrown out. While California is the Golden State, it’s really packed with lots of farmers in the central valley and they grow a lot of what we consume, so why are our fruits and vegetables getting so bad? I talked with one friend of mine who has her own garden in her backyard where she grows her own produce which comes out quite well. She suggested that it’s the travel time from farm to store, but I don’t think that’s as much of a problem when it’s California grown. It could be due to the odd weather we’ve been having that’s throwing off the crops or it could be that we don’t have enough farm workers to do the job properly because the farmers don’t have the money to pay them. All I know is that the quality is getting worse.

Good thing I don’t live in a place where it has to be shipped in. I think I’ll feel sorry for my in-laws now.

Crossing the Slot

San Francisco is a city that as my wife once quoted a person from Maine as saying, “Ya can’t get there from here.” Traveling is a difficult task because of the central hills and Golden Gate Park that has caused our transit system to bore holes through the hills to make it easier to get to downtown. The Richmond and Sunset districts occupy approximately half of San Francisco and are divided by the Slot, or Golden Gate Park. Originally, Market street was referred to as the Slot and the SoMA region was called South of the Slot, but today Market St is more of a slit for travelers than a slot.

Golden Gate Park is a massive part of the city being three times the size of New York’s Central Park. The problem with it is while it is a great outdoor open space there’s really only four places to cross the park. I’ll address each of these individually. The first is Ocean Beach where while it is a great place to drive is only two lanes in either direction That’s rather sumptuous compared to other places, but it is also subject to frequent closures due to public events such as the Bay to Breakers and other public events. It’s still one of my first choices when I have to travel to areas northwest in San Francisco.

The next is the 41st avenue [Sunset side] and 43rd avenue [Richmond side]. This is one lane in either direction with two stop signs to slow you down and leads to traffic pile ups.Quite frequently if you need to get to the northwest section of town crossing here will be slower than traveling down to the beach and using Great Highway. It’s a beautiful drive, but it will add time to your drive that feels like house when it is only minutes.

Next is 19th Avenue which while on the Richmond side is Park Presidio all the traffic reporters refer to as 19th avenue. This is the biggest three lanes in either direction transit point for getting to the Golden Gate Bridge. Because of this it is always crowded. There have been times when traveling there are smooth, but they are rare. If an accident occurs here it is usually within Golden Gate Park and will back up traffic all the way to Daly City.

The last is at Stanyan Street which most people ignore because even though it is two lanes in either direction, it’s a nightmare of traffic to wade through even though people supposedly ignore it. The Stanyan street corridor is one of the most congested streets of the city. I always use it as a last resort because even during the day when you would expect little traffic it has lots of traffic.

There are a few other areas you can use to get around such as the Lincoln Blvd and Fulton Street areas that run parallel to the park, but those usually get congested during rush hour because they’re the only areas with wide enough lanes to allow drivers to travel over the speed limit [c’mon admit it who hasn’t hit 60 mph on one of these streets?]

When I used to live out closer to the beach I used to enter on 41st Avenue and actually drive through the park in the mornings. It was a leisurely drive that few people take. While it is on the slow side, it is quite pleasant overall. It may add some time to your trip, but at least you’ll have a smile on your face.

San Francisco needs to realize that with half of the city being taken up with residents of the Richmond and Sunset districts that it needs to find an easy way to get there from here. Richmond residents have Geavy Blvd to get them downtown that while large is frequently crowded. The Sunset has no direct route to downtown by car except the Oak Street/Fell Street corridor along the panhandle which in the mornings is a nightmare to travel. SFMTA riders have access to downtown via West Portal station, yet Richmond riders have only the 38 Geary to get them downtown. Yes, there are other busses in the Richmond, but they take you twice as long as the Geary.

The next Mayor of San Francisco will have to take a look at finding a way to get the citizens of San Francisco from here to there quickly and efficiently.

Failing Easy Market

This morning there was a big hoopla in the papers and online about the opening of the new Fresh & Easy market in the Richmond District. Now I like to go to openings of things around the city, but don’t like the lines and crush of people. I figured, this is a grocery store. There shouldn’t be any problems right? WRONG!

As it turns out the people at Fresh & Easy decided not to give the newspapers or online journalists the time that they were opening up. My wife and I drove by and saw people going in and out of the store so we found a parking place not in their lot that was already filled with cars and their upstairs lot that was cordoned off and walked the couple of blocks to check out the new store.

Once we got up there we saw they had a table where they were handing out little cups of apple juice and a crowd of people standing around NOT going into the store. I walked up to a lady who was blocking the entrance and asked her if they were open. She said, no we’ll be open at 10am. We’re having a kick off breakfast right now for the staff and people from corporate. OK, here’s something Fresh & Easy needs to learn about doing business here. People in San Francisco like something called convenience in their shopping. We don’t like a store that shows off their large parking area by not letting you park in it. We don’t like that you’re posting your opening time at 8am out front only to find that you aren’t letting people in until 10am and we sure as hell don’t like it when you’ve got staff and corporate coming in and out of the store enjoying their private breakfast inside.

We were hoping to try some of their goods, but to no avail since we weren’t going to wait an hour for the store to open. I hope they get their act together since the outer Richmond district needs another grocery store after the Lucky’s closed there some time ago. It would not be a good thing if Fresh and Easy became known as Failing Easy.

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Summer….IN SUMMER?

There is a little known fact about San Francisco. We like Australia don’t get our summer in summer. June, July and August are normally in the low to mid 60’s and foggy. It’s actually rare that the sun comes out in summer on even a single day. Well thank you global warming, things have changed.

San Francisco typically has its summer wrapped around people’s normal summer. Usually May the weather warms up and the heat rises only to cool down when June comes around. Then sometime late in August we get our Indian summer which runs up to late October. When we have the El Nino weather it’s gone on to last through New Years where one year I remember barbecuing on New Year’s in 80° heat.

Ocean Beach has never been a place for the faint of heart. You usually need a very rustic bearing of Scottish sea farer to stand up to the hardships that Ocean Beach gives you. That wasn’t so yesterday and it won’t be today either. My weather app told me that we could expect up to 78° yesterday and I had the chance to meet up with an old friend out in the Bayview. When I left at noon I walked outside in steamy 90° heat that you never get in June in San Francisco. I immediately turned on the AC only to realize I was half way home before I could feel that there was cool air coming out of it.

As I got home a sweaty mess it was at least in the upper 70° out by the beach. I double check my weather app and notice that the temps are going to stay hot for the rest of the week. I’m come to notice that whatever the weather app says is pretty close to what happens. At least it looks like we’ll be seeing some proper June weather for San Francisco by the weekend when the temps should drop to the upper 60’s, but it’ll be overcast. THAT is what a summer is like in San Francisco.

Stay cool my friends.


Lefty O’Doul’s

Francis “Lefty” O’Doul was born here in San Francisco. He is considered one of the New York Giants most colorful and popular personalities. He played in the Pacific Coast League as well as the Major League, where in 1929 he had a .398 batting average. It was the highest average of any National League outfielder in the 20th century.

Lefty was a highly respected coach and manager for the San Francisco Seals baseball team. He was a friend and team mate to the great players of our time, such as; Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, and Ty Cobb to name a few. Lefty was the man who brought two countries together after World War II. Lefty was credited for bringing America’s favorite past-time to Japan.

In 1958 Lefty O’Doul had an inspiration to open a restaurant bar in San Francisco where friends and family could come to eat and meet with sports stars, creating a unique environment where everyone was family. Over the years Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant has seen the likes of some of baseball and Hollywood’s greatest entertainers. We strive for quality food and quality service with the Old World Charm of baseball’s past. We feel that this is the way Francis “Lefty” O’Doul would have wanted it.

OK, enough with the by the book story. That’s off of their website. Lefty never got the chance to open the restaurant and his friends the Bovis family made his dream come true. Lefty’s has a wall that is a sort of mini museum to all the people who have ventured into this sort of Irish, sort of sports bar, definitely San Francisco establishment. This is the closest to an Irish pub that I’ve encountered in San Francisco and Lefty’s is definitely old school San Francisco.

When you go there expect a hof brau atmosphere. Lost of good food at a cheap price that’ll have you filled up for at least the next day or two. It’s the only place downtown where you can get dinner with a beer for $10. The food is good here and plentiful. The menu is a working man’s fare of roast beef, corned beef, turkey legs, ham or lamb shanks served up with potatoes and vegetables or sauerkraut. Of course being a San Francisco establishment named after an Irish baseball player it’s not unusual to find turkey enchiladas on the menu.

While it only got started in 1958, it still became a San Francisco classic fast. They cater to families having a special kids menu and when you go in expect to get your food quick. This is a good thing if you work downtown and only have a half hour for lunch. Lefty’s opens at 7am sharp and stays open until 2am. It’s one of the few places left downtown where an under paid working man [or woman] can get a good meal cheap. Make sure you try their signature Bloody Mary when you go in.

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