Archive for January, 2009

The Giant Turret Atop San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

This is what the top of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on 151 Third Street looks like. They were going to have trees up there, but oh well.

The art is in a safe place regardless.

via telmo32

Click to expand.

Mario Botta,
Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum,  1995

Making Progress at the Old Public Service Health Hospital in San Francisco

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

The old Public Service Health Hospital in the Presidio near Lake and 15th Avenue was famous for its graffiti, Anne Frank iconography, and thrill-seeking, hatchet-wielding overnight campers.

You can see what it looked like last month here and what it looks like this month right here:

Click to expand.

The two tacked-on wings have been slowly taken down and recycled, so all that’s left is the original building.


The Nesting Great Blue Herons of Golden Gate Park Return for 2009

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Just as the Cliff Swallows come back to Capistrano every March (or so they say), the Great Blue Herons of San Francisco return to nest on a small island on Stow Lake every January.

See what it looks like via filmmaker Rick Bacigalupi of BaciPix, who presents Nancy DeStefanis, The Heron Lady. Check out for the latest, including new tours of Heron’s Head Park (aka Pier 98) in southeast San Francisco.

This fellow is a regular at the nests in the tops of of the Monterey Cypress of Stow Lake. He’s ready to fight and love all over again this year.

Click to expand.

Welcome back, Ardea herodias

How San Francisco’s Cable Cars Work

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Beneath this slot is the cable that makes everything go. There are three braking systems to slow things down. And, instead of a horn, there’s a bell.  

via pbo31 Click to expand

If you get good with the bell, you can enter the annual Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest in Union Square. And if you win a lot, you’ll be like Carl Payne. See his ring bling?

So, that’s how cable cars work.

Dennis Herrera Kicks Off Reelection Run at Talk Hosted by Melissa Griffin

Friday, January 30th, 2009

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera ran hard, alone four years back during his reelection campaign and it looks like history is repeating itself in 2009. That’s the conclusion you’d reach after witnessing a short Q and A between Mr. H. and San Francisco Examiner City Hall Examiner Sweet Melissa Griffin a few days back.

Incumbent Dennis is unafraid to debate the issues with other candidates before this November’s election (assuming there will be any other candidates). He’s never ducked a debate except for once – the night his son was born back in 2001.

It’s Dennis Jose Herrera, Melissa Griffin, and her famous Moleskine notebook. Why she hasn’t yet been recruited as a legal commentator by CNN, MSNBC or Fox News remains a mystery:

Here’s a little bit of news: His participation on the No on Proposition 8 Executive Committee last year was limited to raising a million dollars. He was reluctant to “Monday morning quarterback” about what could have been done differently in the No on Prop 8 campaign.

He also touched on a wide range of issues, including what it’s like to manage the City Attorney’s office. But you might not hear too much more about his reelection run until somebody gets brave and tries to challenge him. Otherwise, we’ll have a rerun of 2005.

To be continued…

Here’s What You Need – A Toyota Prius Hybrid with a Racing Stripe

Friday, January 30th, 2009

This sedate, efficient Toyota Prius looks a bit of a joke what with the 60’s style single off-center racing stripe, as intended by the owner, no doubt.

Get one for yourself if you want. A 2009 model can be had for a couple thousand off of MSRP these days (thanks to the $1000 rebate), and the 2010 models will be coming out soon as well. Zoom zoom.

As seen on the streets of San Francisco.

A Dramatic Rescue of Downed Pilot Near Pillar Point in San Mateo County

Friday, January 30th, 2009

When you’re pondering life just after ditching an airplane in the cold, cold Pacific Ocean ten miles from land, it sure must be nice having Coast Guard and Air National Guard aircraft all buzzing about because they just happen to be in the area.  

Of course, the aircraft you were flying is now rusting on the continental shelf and you’re still a little cold, but all in all, a good result. 

Black Hawk up. An HH-60 Pave Hawk twirly-popper from the California Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing hoisting away, as recorded by a Coast Guard cell phone camera.

Read all about it.

The U.S. Coast Guard assisted the California National Guard in the rescue of a San Francisco man who lost engine power on his single-engine airplane and landed in the water about 10 miles west of Pillar Point, Calif., this afternoon.

At approximately 3 p.m. the C-130 aircraft from Air Station Sacramento, on a training mission nearby when they heard the mayday call over the radio, diverted to the scene and dropped a survival kit consisting of a life raft, survival suit, and flares to the man in the water. At the same time, the Coast Guard cutter Tern, homeported at Yerba BuenaIsland, was diverted, along with a 47-foot boat from Station Golden Gate. The Pillar Point Harbor Master and a Good Samaritan also responded.

The crew of the Air National Guard HH-60G Pavehawk helicopter, from the 129th rescue Wing at MoffettAir Field in Mountain View, had just completed joint training operations with the Coast Guard and was about to land at Air Station San Francisco when they were requested to divert to the scene. Arriving on scene at about 3:20 p.m. the Pavehawk hoisted the man and brought him back to the air station to receive emergency medical care.

The man was treated for hypothermia at the air station before being transported by emergency medical services to San Francisco General Hospital. The man’s plane sunk and was unsalvageable.”

Yale Baker’s Dozen Case Claims Another Victim

Friday, January 30th, 2009

ABC7 KGO TV”s I-Team, featuring chief investigative reporter Dan Noyes, brings news of a settlement in San Francisco’s Baker’s Dozen / News Year’s Bash / Gleegate incident from a couple years back. The question at the time was “what’s up with Ken Garcia“?

That was a reference to this column from January 2007: Ken Garcia: Politics bubble beneath Yale Baker’s Dozen case, which provided justification for what happened to the Baker’s Dozen. The trouble with this is today’s news of the statements from San Francisco locals Richard Aicardi and Brian Dwyer, who both go:

“There is no justification for what happened to the Baker’s Dozen.

Yale’s Baker’s Dozen, during happier times:

So that’s the danger when you set up a straw man argument, one involving “singing saints” and “Catholic school thugs” – you might not be able to knock it down.

Lesson learned.

The Presidio Trust Releases Its Year-End Report for 2008.

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

You know the Presidio, right? It’s that scary place that Bill O’Reilly wouldn’t dream of visiting at night. But take a look for yourself by opening up Today at the Presidio, the Presidio Trust 2008 Year-End Report, aka Fiscal Year 2008 Annual Report (with Performance & Accountability Report), It’s loaded with photos, anyway.

Here’s something new for 2008, the Crissy Field Overlook:

But here’s something that hasn’t changed at all in 2008 – the Main Post Theatre on Moraga is still closed, in part due to opposition from owners of other movie theatres. (Rather like like how Mike Dell might object to the opening of an Apple Store, non?) No matter, the San Francisco Film Society still dreams of reopening the joint and having festivals ‘n stuff.

Last year also saw plans change for the proposed Contemporary Art Museum Presidio (CAMP) project. Gluckman Mayner is no longer on the job, but some locals are finishing up the details on a new approach right now.

So there you have it.

Presidio Trust Unveils 2008 Year-End Report
Today at the Presidio Highlights the Many Ways People Use the Park

Presidio of San Francisco (January 29, 2009) – The Presidio Trust has released its year-end report for 2008, detailing how the agency has managed the largest historic preservation effort currently underway in the country, offered cultural events and programs, created new recreational opportunities, and fostered a growing community. Today at the Presidio focuses on the everyday ways that people – those who live, work, and visit – are experiencing the 1,500-acre park.
The Presidio is celebrating its 15th year as a national park.
“I am pleased to share the significant achievements from the past year and proud of the contributions made by our board members, staff and volunteers,” said Craig Middleton, executive director of the Presidio Trust.  “We are particularly proud of the how the community has evolved and the growth in number of people who enjoy the park – working, living and recreating here. Community life has truly returned to the Presidio.”
Using a “day in the life” approach, the report highlights the ways people enjoy the diverse activities available in the park – daily occurrences such as residents commuting on the free PresidiGo Shuttle in early morning, to high school students conducting a science class at Baker Beach during the day, to docents training for public events in the evening.
The “performance and accountability” section focuses on the sound fiscal performance driven by strong demand for residential and commercial leased property. Progress on plans to revitalize the Main Post and communicate its historic significance, the historic rehabilitation of the former Public Health Service Hospital district into residential units, trail and scenic overlook improvements, new volunteer opportunities, and enhanced public access to the park are also detailed in the report.
The full report is available on the Presidio Trust website at
The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to manage the Presidio of San Francisco, a former Army base located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains the infrastructure of a small community as well as expansive open space, a 300-acre historic forest, spectacular views, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District, making it unlike any other national park.

A Full-Blown SFPD Enforcement Action at Fell and Masonic

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Before, the SFPD was keeping a watchful eye at this problematic intersection, but nowadays, enforcement has stepped up considerably.

Last year’s arrival of bicycle-only green, yellow, and red lights brought a choice to traffic engineers: Do you let peds and cyclists go go first or do you let eastbound cars wanting to turn left on Masonic go first? Originally, bikes had to wait and cars would go as soon as cross traffic got a red and had to stop. Some cyclists would intentionally and improperly jump the red but most would not. The cars would go and then the cyclists and peds would get their turn.

But things have been rejiggered so now cyclists and peds “go first” in the signal cycle. The vast majority of eastbound cars on Fell in the left-only lane start to creep forward when the light goes green for all the other lanes of Fell Street. A lot of drivers are like ignorant cows who don’t really pay attention and just go with the flow. So, the same kind of peer pressure that educated cyclists about how they shouldn’t go until the bicycle and pedestrian green light is now encouraging drivers to negligently go through the red left turn arrow that’s just for them.  

(Obviously, the City had reasons to adjust the signals to the way they are now. Hopefully, ideology didn’t play a role.)

You see? People are social animals who take cues from others. Peer pressure worked in a positive way before, reinforcing good behavior. But now, peer pressure, of a sort, encourages bad behavior. The pack mentality contradicts the bright red light that the driver obviously can see. Proof of this is the fact that virtually every driver sitting first in the left turn lane creeps forward when the lights for all the other lanes of Masonic turn green. Aren’t drivers addled enough as it is? That’s something to think about as you hear the horns of cars backed up in the queue, with drivers wondering why the idiot up front isn’t going anywhere.  

Now, on with the show…

The City and County is still trying to get the word out on the changes to Fell and Masonic with these electronic signs. Isn’t the graffito lovely? Click to expand:

This is what it looks like to a cyclist when a car improperly runs the red left arrow. This driver doesn’t understand how the lights currently operate at this intersection. (Sorry for the astigmatic view – welcome to my world sans glasses.) 

In contrast, this driver, a local, knows damn well what he’s doing. He’s saving himself the time of waiting through one or two more signal cycles at Oak and Masonic. Is that worth risking a moving violation?  

All right, now we’re cooking. This “radio car” from Ferrari-busting Park Station (you know, the one Bill Ayers’ wife pipe bombed(!) back in the day, killing(!) somebody, (allegedly)) sat in wait for someone to blow the red. This bewildered-looking taxi driver didn’t seem to know what he was doing as he slowly made his turn. He got the bad news and a citation on Page Street. Lesson learned, the hard way, one driver at a time. 

Let’s switch to night vision – hey what’s that over on the right side? Could it be a Crown Victoria with cop motor on the sidewalk hiding behind a gigantic Tasmanian Blue Gum Eucalyptus? Let’s wait for a driver on the left to make an illegal turn. It won’t take long.  

Uh oh, the brake light just turned on, meaning it’s too late for this Arrow Cab (sort of like Veteran’s) driver. He sees the cop car and doesn’t actually complete his improper turn, but he entered the intersection on a red arrow so he’s breaking the law, breaking the law just the same.

The inevitable result – flashing lights and yet another moving violation.

Based upon the presence of multiple radio cars lurking about right now, it appears this particular intersection currently has the full attention of Park Station Captain Teresa Barrett.

Is that good enough for you?