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La Controversia de La Lengua

January 14, 2014

It is a sad day, my friends. Mission Local reports:

Every revolution has its line-in-the-sand moment. For one architect south of Cesar Chavez, the moment came when locals — and even allegedly some city officials — started using “some hipster name” to refer to the neighborhood: La Lengua.

Mission Local recorded Harlan Hoffman’s constructive criticism:

  • “That stupid name really got everyone listening.”
  • “You would think the really hipster types would like it, but they didn’t.”
  •  “It’s not the Inner Mission, it’s not the Outer Mission — it’s its own thing,” Hoffman said. “We don’t know what to call it yet, but it will certainly not be La Lengua.”

Am I a hipster? So I am a hipster. I contain multitudes. Deal with it.

Harlan, here’s what you don’t get — La Lengua doesn’t care what you think. La Lengua just… is. We didn’t try very hard, and La Lengua took off. We are having fun.

You seem angry, Harlan. But the more you try to hate on La Lengua, the stronger it will become.

obi wan la lengua

Here are some suggestions since you didn’t actually suggest any names to counter the mighty power that is La Lengua:

  • Harlandia
  • Hoffmanistan
  • Mishlencia
  • Valission
  • Harlan’s House of Happiness

The tongue is pointed at you, Harlan.




GIF 1849a

January 13, 2014

I’d like to personally thank Samuel D. Humphrey for standing outside on the evening of September 1, 1849 and taking these daguerreotypes of the moon:



He was screwing around with different exposures, from half a second to two minutes. (Looks like 2 seconds worked out best, Sam.) For the record, moonrise that day was around 6:18 PM.

He would obviously have made this into a GIF, so here you go, albeit 163 years later:

1849 Samuel D. Humphrey moon

More on present and past moontography here.

UPDATE: looks like 3 seconds was the best exposure:

The lunar surface in the three-second exposure was, as the Annual of Scientific Discovery noted, “so perfect, that its appearance, when examined under the microscope, somewhat resembled the full moon seen through a telescope.”



Steamships, Clipper Ships, Lego Ships, Space Ships

January 9, 2014

We here at Burrito Justice have a soft spot for infrastructure aquatic, and this map of worldwide steamship lines in 1914 fulfills this requirement.

Click through for the full version, but I took the liberty of highlighting the San Francisco routes for your viewing pleasure.

1914 steamship map crop

And in other shipping news, check out this rather awesome 1859 report on the progress of the US Coast Survey (PDF). Lots of information on San Francisco in the 1850s. A description of the conditions of San Francisco Bay starts at p.333, and p. 346 goes into detail on clipper ships:

1850s SF clipper runs

The report also mentions what must have been mind-blowing travel times of the new steamships.

1858 NY SF steamship

Here’s an ad for the Golden Age from the 11 Nov 1854 Daily Alta.

1854 Golden Age

It seems that the Golden Age took over the Panama-SF route from the steamship SS California which had been making the run since 1849, leaving New York in 1848.

California left New York City on 6 October 1848 with only a partial load of her about 60 saloon (about $300 fare) and 150 steerage (about $150 fare) passenger capacity. Only a few were going all the way to California.[8] Her crew numbered about 36 men. She left New York well before definite word of the California Gold Rush had reached the East Coast.

The arrival of the California in December 1849 as reported in the Daily Alta:

1849 SS California

A number of ladies and a large mail, oh my.

UPDATE: In 1849, it seems that “a number of ladies” is equal to eight:

1849 steamer california ladies

I was surprised to learn that the Golden Age came to California from New York via Liverpool, the Cape of Good Hope and Australia.

(5 Oct 1853)

1853 Golden Age

May 1854 (reports from February)

1854 australia golden age

Australian newspaper reports, and a lovely image via the National Library of Australia:

golden age nla.pic-an9537940-v

And its July 1854 arrival in Panama, with lots of details:

1854 golden age Panama

The backstory on the Golden Age, via the Maritime Heritage Project:

She was originally named the San Francisco and slated for service between Australia and Panama. She sailed from New York on September 30, 1853 and went via Liverpool, the Cape of Good Hope, King George’s Sound (Australia), and Melbourne to Sydney. She operated coastal service in Australia until sailing for Panama on May 12, 1854. Pacific Mail purchased her at Panama in August 1854 and used her on their San Francisco-Panama run through 1869. She was later transferred to the Yokohama-Shanghai branch of Pacific Mail. The Golden Age was sold to the Mitsubishi Mail Steamship Company in 1875 and renamed Hiroshima Maru.

She sailed in Japan until the 1890s where she was known as “the good luck ship“.

The sailings of the California and Golden Age are hopefully captured in this rather amazing map of world sailing routes from 1750 to 1860 made by Ben Schmidt.


And to wrap things up, I added the SS Golden Age to this infographic comparing the sizes the container ships of our era, via Quartz. While I couldn’t find the exact length of the Golden Age, its contemporaries seemed to be around 270 feet long, or about 80 meters.)

ship size comparison

That Quartz article talks about two of my favorite things, ships and Lego. Lego made a number of floating boats, including one for Maersk. I of course had the firefighting boat and the police boat:



I still have these in a box at my parents house, along with my space Legos — you can see the red counterweight at the bottom:

I am telling you Lego, if you started selling those 70s Space Lego sets again, oh man, you’d make a million damn dollars.


I mean, I just bought the Mars Curiosity Rover:

Mars Curiosity Rover


January 8, 2014

I just… oh, L.A., you make it too easy.


I am glad to see we have advanced our putting-a-microwave-in-a-box technologies to such orange levels. And free WiFi!

My heart sincerely goes out to the brave souls at LAist and Vice who actually consumed the burritos.

LAist actually tried all 5. Good god.


But will the Box Brand family be brave enough to move north?

It would imagine it would go something like this:

burritobox riot

And lest ye forget, Los Angeles, we can disable “humanitarian mode” on the Burrito Railgun and eliminate any threats to the burritosphere.

burrito rail gun hunters point

Perhaps New York is a better spot for such finely machine-crafted burritos, as @ThePeterHa (212 AND 503 hahahahahhahahaa) seems to think:

Of course, this raised the question of what other things should be in vending machines. We have previously discussed the need for beer on Caltrain:

caltrain beer machine

And hey, look, a vending machine that sells those micro-apartments! I’ll taaaaaake… the yellow one.


Sutro, Fog Catcher

January 6, 2014
tags: , ,

The drought, it is coming. Rainfall totals for various Northern California cities in 2013 via the Mercury News.


And drought GIFs, naturally:


The dog days of reservoirs.


This is especially bad since we in California get the most of our water from the Sierra snowpack. Uh oh.

2014 Jan snowpack

Hetch Hetchy is a geo-engineering marvel, but you have to start wondering what happens when the Sierras start looking like Baja California.

hetch hetchy system

@mizmay reminds us that we actually have decent groundwater in SF.

These would be Islais, Precita and Dolores Creeks:

“the fresh spring waters indefatigably flowing on the eastern slopes of Twin Peaks are a wondrous geologic feature, of unknown origin and potentially great benefit to the city. This water comes in quantities and seasons unlikely to be associated with local rains. Further study is needed to determine its ultimate source.”

precita, islais, dolores creeks zoom

Of course, it’s always nice to have backups. This is why I demand that Ed Lee immediate tap the aquatic reservoir that is… @KARLTHEFOG.

There is a precedent to this in South America. Residents of Lima are building “Atrapa nieblas“, or fog traps. On a good foggy day they can capture 150 gallons of water.


We of San Francisco, being awesome, can do better than that. First some math. Fog contains anywhere between 0.05 and 0.5 grams of water per cubic meter. Karl, being Karl, is obviously 0.5 grams. Assuming half the city is covered in fog at a depth of 1000 feet (i.e. the top of Twin Peaks):

49 square miles / 2

= 63,454,700 square meters * 300 meters

= 19,036,410,000 m* 0.5 grams

= 9,518,205,000 grams = 9,518,205 kilograms = 9,518,205 liters = 2,514,440 gallons.

That’s a sphere of water 43 feet wide, or a cube 70 feet on a side.

Problem solved! OK, not really, as I do not have a realistic method to collect fog over half of San Francisco. However, a short term solution would be to retrofit Sutro into an atrapa nieblas:

sutro atrapanieblas

Simulation of it in action:

sutro fog catcher

(original photo via DailyKos)

A quick calculation shows that with a surface area of 300 by 300 meters, and a 22 mph wind (10 m/s), our modified Sutro could catch 100 gallons per sec.

Not too shabby, Sutro, not too shabby. If @karthefog is around for 12 hours, that’s over 4 million gallons!

UPDATE: Sarah Zhang wrote a great followup article over on Gizmodo about other fog catcheries:

The AQI is Nigh

December 17, 2013

O woe, @karlthefog has forsaken us. Instead we get Karl’s evil cousin @snarlthesmog.

20131217-095646.jpg 20131217-095820.jpg
20131217-095831.jpg 20131217-101810.jpg

A bevy of mappable worldwide pollution data over at
UPDATE: @ptraughber took a besmogged picture atop San Bruno Mountain this morning, and @couch provided a clear picture from the same spot which I aligned.

3300 #FF0000

December 11, 2013


La Lengua, getting all fancy.


Here’s what it looked like in the darker days of old.


3300 moon 800


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