Well it’s here and I spent yesterday updating my iPhone and iPad. For the iPhone I can’t really say I see much difference. The iPad update on the other hand with the update to maps is freakishly stalkerish. You may not notice this if you don’t live near Cupertino or in San Francisco where Apple always gives their keynote speeches, but look at the picture I’ve taken of West Sunset Playground and that will give you a close idea of how freaky the maps app is here in San Francisco.
When I show my wife the pic of our house with the tilt and shift and zoom we could easily make out the table and chairs in our backyard along with the kiddie slide on our deck. I didn’t include it because my wife just felt like we were spying on ourselves. So you get a pic of a playground instead. This pictures doesn’t do it justice because when you spin it around and do all the tilt and shift stuff you get a feeling like you’re really there.
There have been lots of complaints about the new maps app for iOS 6, but most of the complaints are coming from people far away from San Francisco. So if they want to enjoy the app they need to start stalking us in 3D mode on their iPads. Unfortunately, there is no 3D on the iPhone version of maps, but I suppose it’s a processor thing. I only have an iPhone 4 not a 4S or 5 so I could be wrong. I have noticed that in 3D mode that the it is very slow to load the maps, but if you’ve got time to kill it’s a kind of cool experience. I still feel that the accuracy and detail make it seem like you’ve got an app to spy on people, but at least there aren’t real time updates. I guess living in San Francisco we get the most detail first at the expense of our privacy. At least I don’t nude sun bathe in my backyard.
Sometimes you just have to try something that causes other people to gag at the thought. I have fried spam, eaten vienna sausages and corned beef hash. This is something many of my older relatives who were in the army or navy gagged at so for today I have to try something that my Mom used to love and that people in the military used to refer to as S.O.S [shit on a shingle] — creamed chipped beef on toast.
Now the first thing that is a little weird about it if you approach it from a chef’s standpoint is that you make a roux of butter, flour and milk then you add slices of dried beef [that just sounds too generic and processed to be good for you]. Going so far as to make a roux and then adding processed beef product doesn’t sound like a good idea, but if it got our troops through a couple of world wars I figure I’ve got to give it a shot.
It’s not very popular anymore and you’ll only find it in a few diners in the northeast so you’ll either have to make it from scratch or buy the packaged frozen variety that Stouffer’s makes. I chose the Stouffer’s and decided to boil it in the bag because I figured that’s probably how most of our military men had it prepared.
It oddly had a lot of salt per serving, but I felt it could use a little more. I found it to be an oddly enjoyable comfort food. Which means that it’s high in fat and calories and not the best thing to eat, but I eat a healthy breakfast and dinner so I slide a little bit. I liked the creaminess of it and really didn’t notice the meat too much. It’s one of the few times that a store bought processed roux was actually thick and not watery.
This is actually a dish that I think needs to have a comeback. I don’t think I need to be an evangelist for this dish, but it’s something I think a lot of people will enjoy. I suppose it would sell better if you could put organic or artisanal in front of it on a menu, but something like this isn’t meant to be organic and I think I can understand why my Mom loved the dish so much.
I’ve been around a lot of houses in San Francisco and it seems like the Sunset District is the only place where we get a problem with pine needles. It could be because they blow south from Golden Gate Park or it could be the people who got the idea of stuffing that old Christmas tree in their backyard 50-60 years ago and now it’s taken root and taller than the house.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with trees. I used to spend my days in the summer at my Aunt’s house in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range so seeing big tall pine trees wasn’t unusual. Where it begins to be a problem is when you live in a house with people who though planting pine trees in their backyard was a good idea.
Here is my main complaint. If you take a look at the picture you’ll see something you commonly find in Sunset District houses. It’s a skylight so that when you wash your dishes you can look out the window at a kind of sunny box. Unfortunately, they also tend to collect pine needles that get blown by the strong salt air which of course, land in your skylight. My wife, who is a goddess in my opinion asked me for help yesterday as she climbed out to clean out the pine needles that had started to become rather thick. She is a goddess because her being 5’4″ and me being 6′ she understands that it’s easier for her to get out the tiny window than me. This is unlike my parents who always decided that me being the biggest one in the family was best to squeeze through tight openings.
The little bunch of clumped up wire that you see next to the pipe is a homemade filter that my grandfather made specifically to keep pine needles out of the drain. It works fine when you don’t have a lot of needles, but there have been times when the needles have blocked the drain and we’ve had rainy weather in which we suddenly have six inches of water starting to build up which even with the tar paper the water will eventually leak around and you’ll get rot underneath it.
I think overall my biggest problem is to figure out what to do with this area. My family used to have cacti right outside the window because they didn’t need water and it was hard to get to. It’s really just a useless part of the house that lets a little light into the kitchen, but requires high maintenance. If anyone has an idea or two I’d love to hear them.
If you’re going to San Francisco, September is the time to visit. During the Summer it’s always funny to watch the tourists who you can tell by their shorts and sandals in weather that’s cold and foggy, but come September we start our Indian Summer [or as the People’s Republic of Berkeley refer to it Indigenous Summer].
Some people call them the dog days of Summer, but since we had a huge Native American population here I was raised calling it Indian Summer. It gets a little drier and definitely warmer and sunnier. This is the time to wear your shorts and sandals. I think I can finally hang up my Winter coat and thermals that I wore during the Summer and get into some thinner clothing.
This is the time to sit outside at the local cafe drinking a cup of coffee with your sunglasses on and just enjoying the neighborhood. This is a time to trot down to the beach or search out some of the more rural areas down on the peninsula where it will be very hot. Take a trip down to Monterey and stroll along Cannery Row on the weekend. It’s the most beautiful time of year for San Francisco and the Bay Area and it’s the best weather you’ll ever see.
It’s one of the few times of the year where you will actually see a sunset in the Sunset District and the broken clouds out over the ocean only make the sunsets more spectacular. Travel up to Twin Peaks in the evening and you’ll get hit by a heat wave because all the sunlight from the day radiates upwards at night and the top of the hill on a clear night is an experience we all need to have at least once. This time of year I like to sit out on my deck at Sunset and enjoy some Hawaiian food as the sun goes down because it feels like Hawaii without the oppressive humidity.
Sure, I love the fog. That’s why I live out in the Sunset, but with the days shortening the blast of sun and warmth during the day that radiates into the night is one of the reasons I feel the most comfortable at this time of the year.
I received for my birthday yesterday an advance copy of Hitmen by my friend Big Boy Pete. I’ve written about him before and he’s an excellent musician as well as a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who taught me some of the best secrets to recording music. I have to say that upon listening to the CD I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the album.
While the liner notes are ridiculously silly because you’ve got a couple of psychedelia musicians recording an album together based on flashbacks from their 60’s acid daze. You’ll definitely hear the styles of the bands of the day, but not copying the bands, but doing it in their own style. The first thing that hit me was the first song which is a good opening track called American Dream which the lyrics where re-written to express today’s political situation. They followed it up with Trailer Trash that sounded like it was T. Rex, except that the song was written three years before T. Rex was started. I hear some references to the style of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, but again they were in their beginnings when these songs were written so they aren’t a rip off on them and they’ve got keyboards in there that modernize these retro psychedelia songs.
While I don’t know anything about The Squire, I’ve known Big Boy Pete for years and he’s become a San Francisco landmark for recording many of the local punk and metal bands in the late 70’s and 80’s. He was one of the small recording studios that allowed many small bands to come to prominence in the local Bay Area music scene while he recorded his own music as well.
To give you an example, I’ve included the song Amber to give you a taste of the album. Click the link at the bottom to hear it. The CD is currently going to be publicly released shortly and I’ll let you know where and when you can get it.
I knew that day in New York that they’d won.
Our viral spiral had just begun.
‘Cos the White House was focused on catching the villains
And no-one was watching the bankers steal billions.
Now is the time for American Spring.
— American Spring
Today I reached a day that never popped into my mind. I turned 50 today. You think about turning 18, 21, 30, 40 then it kind of stops. I never thought about what my life would be like at 50, but I can honestly say I wake up in the mornings feeling pretty good.
Living my entire life in San Francisco aside from the few vacations I realize that I’ve reached an age where you start remembering the changes have have happened to this city over your lifetime. I remember Doggie Diner, Chicken Delight, Herb’s Deli. These were all fixtures of my youth. I remember not having to walk a quarter mile when parked on Sloat to get into the Zoo. I remember when a family membership at the California Academy of Sciences was only $25 [and that wasn’t too long ago]. Sure I miss those things, but change is going to happen and there are lots of new things that pop up.
For all the Irish people living in the Sunset when I was kid there wasn’t one place that would serve an Irish breakfast, now there are several. Yes, we did have a more ethnically diverse neighborhood when I was growing up and now according to a recent article on sfgate.com, $3500 will get you more in the Sunset District than most other parts of the city that hardly anyone used to live in.
I think for me the worst part about getting older is that when I talk about TV shows, movies or people from SF history there’s too many people younger than me that have never heard about them because they weren’t born and raised here. I brought up Barbara Eden [I dream of Jeannie] the other day and mentioned that she used to live around 46th and Taraval and went to Lincoln High School and got a response of, who?
San Francisco has been home to a number of celebrities and cultural events, so I guess at my ripe old age of 50 I’m glad I have this blog to remind people of that. I’ll keep on going for many years to come and I’ll promise you that.