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Bernal Stands Alone

August 28, 2009

Beautiful shot of Bernal Island by Bats1234 via lavidalibre. Looking down 30th from Diamond Heights if I’m not mistaken.

bernal island

I love the green glow of the Upper Noe Recreation Center, the lights on Mt. Diablo, the plane taking off from Oakland.

bernal narrow

Mi Latte Se Llama John

August 28, 2009

latte se llama

After I accidentally tried to grab Sean’s latte, the kind folks @ Fraiche in the P.A. llamaized mine.  (Blue Bottle, by the way.)

Random Photos

August 27, 2009

Putting on my Plug1 hat for a moment:

iPhone Panorama of the Bay Bridge to Alcatraz, with the Ferry Building in front.

alcatraz to bay bridge

Click the image to zoom all 4500 pixels, or view the same in my patent-pending SquishVision. Revel in all 450×450 pixels of awkward fake fisheye lensing.

fake fisheye bay bridge

I was in Hawaii last week. Very nice, but ridiculously humid.  The fan was my friend.

fan ceiling panorama

Lots of palm trees.

palm tree and canoes


waving palms

hawaii sunset

I rather enjoyed drinking kona coffee and/or Mehano Volcano Red Ale underneath these palms, or in a chair where the ocean stopped the lava.


But I wouldn’t want to be around during an eruption — the vastness of lava fields are sobering.


(via Dennis Flanagan, USDA Soil Erosion Lab).

And these USGS timelapse videos are nuts. Yet people build subdivisions right next to the calderas.  WTF? (Click to play)

Picture 232

If you’re between the volcano and the sea, you just pack up your things and get out the way.

Amber Oakleys make a decent iPhone filter, but they do not encourage steady holding of iPhones while making animated GIFs of our friend the ocean.

amber waves

I do like how I caught the rays of the sun — click on the animated GIF to get the individual frames in something higher than 8-bit color.

Pi Bar Manifesto – The Pizzaman Cometh

August 25, 2009

“When I was a boy, growing up in the Borough of Queens, NYC, the Pizzaman was the cultural equivalent of the Sushi Chef in San Francisco…”

“It was magic! A raw, flabby Frisbee of dough, with uncooked, slightly sweet tomato sauce and completely flavorless chess went into a magic box.  And we would stare and stand for 7 long minutes in anticipation.  And what was in the oven when he opened the door was a sight and smell that still lives with me today.”

pi bar manifesto

Southbound and Upside Down = 22nd St Caltrain Revival

August 24, 2009

A subtle yet perspective-bending shot from Plug1 of What I’m Seeing:

22nd st caltrain upsidedown

Ahh, Caltrain, so close but yet so far. The 22nd St station has great potential but the 48 is a joke.

If only there were a fast bus from the Mission and Noe to this station (maybe down Cesar Chavez and 16th?) that synched up with train arrivals/departures. A quick mockup I did last year (from one of the proposed Muni routes — ignore the green, look instead at the red).


The idea is it doesn’t stop every block, i.e. BRT, ~10 minutes. (And there has to be coffee. Someone needs to sell coffee at the station. Or on the bus.)

And why does the “baby bullet” not stop at Santa Clara? Arrrrrgh. VTA light rail in the south bay is a slow moving clown car from either Mountain View or San Jose. Don’t get me started.

I want my high speed rail, and I want it now, NIMBYful Palo Altans be damned. It is my god-given right to travel at 150mph between SF and San Jose (especially when I can drive faster than Caltrain’s current top speed of 79 mph, and the old SF&SJ line was doing 67 mph 144 years ago).

Transit rant off.

Morning Mission

August 21, 2009

Mission at Valencia, 7 am, street cleaning day. Ghostly.  More runners than cars in the heart of La Lengua.

mission at valencia 7 am

Click to zoom, or enjoy the deliciously squished version below.

mission at valencia squished

Looks more like the back streets of Paris or London this way.

Mother Mother at Cafe du Nord Wednesday

August 18, 2009

Mother Mother, my favorite band, headlines tomorrow at Cafe Du Nord! A nice step up from them opening there last time (but their gig at the Hotel Utah was pretty epic, like seeing them play in your garage).


Do yourself a huge favor and buy tickets now before the big blogs pick up on this and you are sitting alone in your room on a Wednesday night. That’s no way to live. (Tragically I am out of town so there will be two more tickets available — such are the sacrifices I am willing to make for my faithful readers.)

Anyway, two albums, both solid. Some of the most arresting vocals I have ever heard.  A couple of examples:

Polynesia (2007, Touch Up)
Body of Years (2008, Oh My Heart)
Mother Mother Myspace Page

(And doesn’t the lead singer Ryan sort of look like Brock, but with more hair?)



Best of Both Worlds

August 14, 2009

tonayense flour + water

Viva El Tonayense Flats!

Fog 1, Sutro 0

August 13, 2009
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We’ve had angry fog this week.  It invades and then retreats, lulling us into a false sense of security, and then spills once again over the hills, attacking with a vengeance.  And it’s not satisfied with taking out just one antenna of Sutro — it’s slowly eating away at the rest of the tower.

Two days ago, what do I see?

sutro construction


Sutro Tower construction 1973

And this morning?

sutro tower 1972

Great Scott, it will be gone by the weekend!

Ha ha, just kidding — it’s still there.  These are just pictures of Sutro under construction in 1972-1973 from our friends at SFPL. And here’s an article on the controversy surrounding the secret planning of our beloved telecom tower.

Via I discovered Flickr user Articulate‘s scanned scrapbook photos showing some groovy, leather jacket-wearing hipster radio engineer kids up on Sutro in 1979. I am ridiculously jealous.

sutro 70s kids

“Some old photos scanned from a scrapbook. In the late 70s, engineers from the radio and TV stations at Sutro could take an elevator to the top platform, 872′ above ground level. Strict regulations imposed later eliminated such casual visits.”

sutro arm day and night

So I’ve decided that someone needs to install 8 HD cameras on the arms of Sutro so we can get a nice 360 panorama of the city.  Those would make some nice channels on Comcast HD (though I don’t think they’d be too excited to remind people that you can get broadcast TV for free). Hey BrittneyG, can you get CBS5 to scare up any money?

What’s Going On, Sutro Tower?

August 9, 2009
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We Built This City just piqued my Sutrocuriosity.  I’ve had this weird feeling the past few weeks that something is different about Sutro, but wasn’t quite sure what.  Here’s YBTC’s shot of Sutro on Diamond Heights over by Glen Canyon on Friday. One antenna… Two antenna… Whaaa? Something’s missing.

WBTC sutro arrow

WBTC provides an even more revealing picture from the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park (to the north of Sutro).

WBTC sutro north arrow

(Ooooh, palm trees and Sutro — all I need now is an old map or photo for the blogging troika.)

Using the power of Lumix 10x optical zoom, we investigate Sutro further, this time from the east.

Left: Sutro three weeks ago. Right, Sutro today (from Valencia and 24th):

sutro before and after

Yikes! Where did the westmost antenna go?  It’s a stubby. When did this start? Here’s a shot from Dolores park last weekend showing the incredible shrinking antenna. A little bit higher then:

sutro dolores fog short antenna

Dear god, the fog is eating Sutro Tower! Run for the hills! Er, away from the hills! (Just kidding. Everyone knows that Sutro Tower’s only known enemy is the Golden Gate Bridge and PBS.)

Luckily we have tremendous resources like the Sutro Tower page ( to clear up these mysteries. Turning to their epic antenna diagram, we learn that the top three towers are being upgraded due to the digital TV transition. In fact, the top three antennas are analog-only and thus not even being used for TV,  only a single radio station. All DTV signals are coming from the auxillary antennas in the middle. Behold the official Sutro Tower status diagram from

sutro status summer 2009

The shorty in our picture (the “West Stack”) is currently being replaced. Fret not, Sutro Tower will regain its former symmetry soon after the other stacks (North and South stacks?) are upgraded to their full digital glory over the next few months, meaning even stronger HD glorious digital moving images.

We Built This City also has some nice, dramatic shots of the bi-polar nature of fog and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fog ON:


This is exactly what I remember from when I first drove across the bridge when I was 10.  We we driving to Phoenix from Victoria (but in a yellow Honda Civic rather than a Mini…)  We spent the night somewhere around Santa Rosa and got up ridiculously early.  My mum woke me up when we were about to cross the bridge and said something along the lines of “You need to remember this.” A quarter century later, here we are.

A few hundred yards later, Fog OFF:

WBTC GGB fog exit

Those were northbound — southbound we see the place where fog fears to tread:

WBTC GGB fog enter

UPDATE: Dan, our Prague correspondent, updates us on the the Žižkov Television Tower which sits “smack in the middle of an old residential neighborhood (it’s hard to compare Prague and SF neighborhoods exactly, but it would be something like if Sutro Tower sprung out of the ground at the corner of Folsom and 18th).”

And it’s covered in babies.  Seriously:

zizkov television tower babies