Archive for August 2009

Emperor Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico Bridge: Update

August 28, 2009

If you have been following the progress of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge with bated breath like I have, you will appreciate how happy I was to see a stack of these flyers on the ferry home last night. I’ve been following the slow progress of this bridge since moving here in ’98– from the long arguments about design to the various stages arising next to the current bridge and visible during bus commutes. They have been building this bypass 150-odd feet in the air and will be hooking the whole thing up over the Labor Day weekend before demolishing an old section of the old bridge. See full details below:


nb: sections are NOT actually yellow or orange :-(


don't worry-- bridge will be closed all wkend long

Only 6 more days to drive on that old section before it’s gone forever! For more information of the long saga, click here. After the weekend, the new speed limit on the bypass will be 40 mph– leading to more backups. Until they build the new bridge and can tear down the bypass. Current estimated completion date “late 2013” is getting closer all the time!


Where were you when?

August 26, 2009

I reached a new milestone today. For the first time, I learned of a significant news event on Facebook. I woke up and as per my newest routine, spent the first 5 minutes of consciousness checking my email and Facebook, etc. on the phone before performing my morning ablutions. The first status update (Eddie Snow –from the old Knoxville ward) talked about having seen Teddy Kennedy once in a cool car in Hyannis. Then Michelle McEvoy (from my Bancroft Elementary years) had an RIP tribute up and I realized …. oh, he’s passed away. Made me think of the evolution in how I’ve been informed of big news:

April 1995, Oklahoma City bombing: the TV above a patient’s bed in the VA hospital during a neurology rotation.

January 1998, Monica Lewinsky: on I was amazed, at the time, to think that I’d learned of this **on the INTERNET** rather than on TV. Ha! [And to think that I used to regularly go to for news? Wha?]

April 1999, Columbine: on the radio while driving around Oakland post call.

Sept 11 2001, Phone message being left on my answering machine by Brent while I was waking up.

July 2009, Michael Jackson’s [impending] death: –the blog for Seattle’s free newsweekly “The Stranger.”

OK, maybe the progression from old media to new here wasn’t exactly a straight line, but I’m still wondering: What will be next?

Circle of Life

August 23, 2009

Turn turn turn. There were some notable comings and going this week.

Out: One of our first SF favorites, Cortez, abruptly shut its doors. The somewhat experimental small plates that wowed us 3-4 years ago had given way to a more standard Bay Area menu, but I always had a soft spot for the spot and it’s “Miro meets Mondrian” decor (phrases borrowed from just about every review of the place). Dan had a birthday party here, and later, we received some SIAJ art here.



In: Starbelly opened up in the Castro. I checked it out with Aussie Tim after a glorious screening of “Inglourious Basterds” and it is a vast improvement from the Asqew Grill and  Zao noodle shop that were in the space previously. We’ll be back for sure for the affordable fare and vermouth-based cocktails. Check out this Pimm’s Cup:


Out: Coffee Bar has given up on their constantly-in-need-of-repair Clover machine. Once the Starbucks around the corner got one, they threw in the towel (Starbucks *bought* the Clover company). Sigh. Now the only place in town (I think) to get non-Starbucks Clover coffee is the Ritual Roasters kiosk in the nursery way out in the Bayview. Here’s the high tech vacuum clover machine in action:

And in crossword celebrity names, we note the passing of pioneering guitarist LES Paul, who I would have never heard about, were it not for his very NYT puzzle friendly first name. I like to think that his place in the cruciverbalist universe is being replaced by whipper-snapper Michael CERA, who is getting a lot of puzzle attention as of late.

Harajuku West

August 18, 2009

Or is that … east?

You didn’t think we’d miss the opening weekend of New People –the J-Pop and Tokyo-youth culture-themed concept mall in Japantown– did you? Of course not …

Lucky for them their Grand Opening coincided with a J-Pop “summit” being held in SF at the same time. Were the world leaders of the loli girls in attendance? Are these them?


Good: They use Blue Bottle beans in their coffee drinks, and make a mean espresso. They sell bentos, including “katsu-sando” –breaded, fried pork cutlets in-between white bread slathered with mayonnaise (almost sounds Southern doesn’t it?). The building is beautiful. They sell tabi socks (you know, the ones with a crease between your big toe and the rest –excellent for wearing with flip-flops, if you’re so inclined).

Bad: They give aroma therapy a bad name.


Most of the clothes they sell look like this:


But let’s not be too picky shall we? Troy can’t remember the last time he saw me as happy as when I stumbled upon a compendium of Japanese image characters/mascots arranged by prefecture:


Peter will recognize this page from our day in Nara. The Buddha and … acorn? … with the horns were all over town, helping to celebrate the 1300 year anniversary of Nara’s founding.

Do you think SIAJ needs a mascot? And if so, where can we get one …?

Weekend Report

August 10, 2009

Some weekends are a lot of fun. Sometimes you grab dinner at one of Oakland’s best restaurants (aka Flora) with Wayne and Russ, and the restaurant just happens to be across the street from the Fox Theatre, where these dudes flank both sides of the stage:


And on that stage, Underworld is playing. And you get to listen to them pump out their electronic jams in a pulsating 2 hour concert from the VIP lounge (thanks to Wayne’s well-chosen credit card) on the floor of the theater. (You can listen to the first half of their most famous song as you drive along a Tokyo expressway early in the morning here.)

Sometimes you get to (have to?) work from home on Saturday AM, dispensing medical advice in your pajamas, a cup of coffee by your side. Sometimes one of you meets up with Russ and fellow Quakes fans Paul and Lyndsay, who host you for a delicious lunch in their beautiful home, before heading off together to a rotting, difficult to find and indifferently staffed stadium called Candlestick Park to watch your team lose in a dull and mostly unwatched opening game of a doubleheader.

But sometimes the second game of that doubleheader pits the all-world FC Barcelona against the favorite team of the Mexican diaspora, Chivas (Guadalajara). And you get to watch Lionel Messi and Xavi Alonso and Dani Alves put on a soccer clinic, and you’re just … stunned, really. By the artistry and inventiveness of a top-class European team (not to mention their slick passing and impeccable ball control, their precise formations and their speed) playing live, in front of you. And one of your friends wonders how he’ll ever be satisfied with Major League Soccer after witnessing that.


And sometimes you get stuck in the parking lot for over an hour afterwards. But at least you’ll “always have Barcelona.”

Sometimes you meet up with the whole gang on Treasure Island, on a sunny Sunday, to sample the wares of Treasure Island wineries, and receive exclusive barrel tastings from the friendly wine-makers at the facility, who set out aged Gouda and smoked sausages for you to nibble on while you try Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Carignane, Merlot, Petite Sirah, and Syrah. And in the process, you get a thorough introduction to the art of wine-making, as you sample the differences between the same wine aged in different barrels, etc.

And then you picnic on the tasty food y’all brought. And go home and nap for a few hours.

Like I said, some weekends are a lot of fun.

What we’re reading

August 6, 2009

A quick sampling of blog posts this week that made us laugh out loud or gave us pause or that we thought were worth sharing:

Paris Hilton picks cute gay ex-mormon dude as her new BFF on her new show “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF.” Who knew this was even a show? Catty commentary. []

Why soccer has taken Seattle, of all cities, by storm.  [slog]

-I refuse to post the link to top 10 sports fart videos that Dan was cracking up to …

Coffee shops pulling the plug on laptop users. If this catches on, Troy might start believing in God. With bonus reference to SF favorite “Coffee Bar.” [WSJ] … And yes, it is possible that I am a hypocrite because I camp out with a crossword and an Americano for an hour.

-New blog find of the week: [h/t to Brad]




Sweet as soda pop?

August 6, 2009

I have to assume all the Tennessee folks know about this already, but Troy learned about it from a blog of another blog:

The University of Tennessee Volunteers football team took some time out from training for a photo shoot last week.

According to the original source, coach Lane Kiffin “rewarded those players who kept in shape over the summer by letting them pose for the team poster.”


Now see, if Mr. Fulmer had thought of that, he might still have a job …

WVLT reported on the story: Tennessee Football Players pose with one Big Orange Hot Rod

Go Vols!