Archive for December, 2009

The Happy Baby Dolphins of Ocean Beach Wish You a Great 2010

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Pretty sure these critters are dolphins and not porpoises. Anyway, sometimes you can see dolphins having fun from San Francisco.

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The view from Fort Funston:

As promised, baby dolphins, avec maman:

And here they are swimming south, off to sample the yummy seafood in the waters off San Mateo County:

Have a great 2010!

Omisoka! Ring in the New Year Tomorrow Morning at the Asian Art Museum, Japanese Style

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Our highly-rated Asian Art Museum on Larkin Street in Civic Center will welcome all to its 24th Annual Japanese New Year Bell Ringing Ceremony tomorrow, December 31st 2009

All the deets are below. Show up early (or better yet, become a member and show up earlier still) and maybe you and the fam will get a chance to ring the big bell yourself, thereby striking a blow against one of the 108 earthly desires.

This is how it’ll look:

(And then, on January 9th, it’ll be rice pounding time at the Mochisuki Mochi Pounding Ceremony.)

See you there!

24th Annual Japanese New Year

Bell Ringing Ceremony

A unique, fun, and family friendly way to ring in the new year!

Thursday, December 31, 2009
FREE with museum admission
Children 12 and under always admitted free!

9:30–11:00 am: Bell Ringing for Asian Art Museum Members
10:00 am–2:00 pm: Art Activities
11:00 am: Bell Ringing Ceremony

Say goodbye to 2009 with family and friends…by taking a swing at a giant temple bell!

Bring your loved ones to the Asian Art Museum and literally “ring in” the New Year, Japanese-style.

Everyone is invited to participate in the auspicious Japanese tradition of striking a temple bell. This popular event offers the community a memorable opportunity to reflect peacefully upon the passing year.

As in past observances, a 2100-lb., sixteenth-century Japanese bronze bell originally from a temple in Tajima Province in Japan and now part of the museum’s permanent collection will be struck 108 times with a large custom-hewn log. According to Japanese custom, this symbolically welcomes the New Year and curbs the 108 bonno (mortal desires) which, according to Buddhist belief, torment humankind.

It is hoped that with each reverberation the bad experiences, wrong deeds, and ill luck of the past year will be wiped away. Thus, tolling heralds the start of a joyous, fresh New Year.

There will be a short performance of Japanese folk songs preceding the ceremony. Then, Zen Buddhist priest Gengo Akiba Roshi will conduct a blessing and begin the bell ringing. Akiba Roshi is director of the Soto Zen Buddhism North American office. He is also Zen teacher at Oakland’s Kojin-an Zendo.

Hands-on art activities are offered in the education studios to entertain families while waiting for their turn at the bell. Guests will also have the opportunity to enjoy the special exhibition, Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam and Burma.


Numbered tickets to ring the bell are assigned to visitors on a first-come, first-serve basis in South Court beginning at 10:00 am, when the museum opens to the public. No advance reservations are accepted. 108 groups of four to six people will be assembled to strike the bell.

Bell Ringing for Asian Art Museum Members

Asian Art Museum members are invited to a special members-only bell-ringing ceremony at 9:30 am. Doors open at 9:00 am. Numbered tickets distributed at the Membership Desk. RSVP:

Brace Yourselves: Cunard’s MS Queen Victoria is Coming to San Francisco on January 27th

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Here we go, straight out of the shipyards of Trieste, Italy, it’s Cunard’s Motor Ship Queen Victoria! Well, guess what – she’s coming to San Francisco on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010, so plan accordingly.

This is going to be the biggest thing to hit town since the Queen Mary 2 back in ought-seven.

But don’t call the QV an ocean liner, oh no, she’s just a cruise ship owing to her lack of freeboard, among other things. Oh well.  


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Check it:

Queen Victoria Makes Her U.S. Maiden Call to Port of San Francisco Jan. 27, 2010

Cunard Line’s youngest ship, Queen Victoria, will make her maiden call to San Francisco on Jan. 27, 2010, marking her only U.S. inaugural call in the next year.

Queen Victoria will stop in San Francisco as part of the first segment of her third world voyage. Expected to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge at approximately 6 a.m., she will dock at Pier 35 at 6:30 a.m. before departing at 6 p.m. for Hawaii. Designed in the grand Cunard tradition, the 2,000-passenger Queen Victoriais the second largest Cunarder ever built, weighing in at 90,000 gross tons and measuring 964.5 feet from stem to stern – more than 110 feet longer than San Francisco’s tallest building, the Transamerica Pyramid.

Thousands of spectators lined the shores of San Francisco Bay in 2007 when Cunard’s flagship, Queen Mary 2, made her first call in San Francisco. Best viewing locations include the Golden Gate Bridge – vista points on both north and south sides of the span; Fort Mason; Crissy Field and the Fisherman’s Wharf area. For information visit

Coming into San Francisco on the Bay Bridge Involves Climbing a Hill

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

This one. All the way up to the central anchorage of the suspension span…

When (or if) they build a pedestrian / cyclist path on this part of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge (the way they’re doing on the span that will go from Treasure Island to Oakland), people will finally experience, first hand, how hilly a bridge can be.

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Many Sidewalks in San Francisco are just Too Darn Wide

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Take a look at Masonic Avenue here. What’s the point of having such an uber-wide sidewalk like this?

Couldn’t some of this sidewalk be used for a bike lane or something useful?

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You have to wonder what people were thinking, back in the day, when they were laying out the sidewalks of San Francisco.

[UPDATE: Geez, people, we’re not talking about removing the sidewalks here, but making them a reasonable size. Obviously, some planners a long time ago thought it was a great idea to have Masonic be some kind of grand boulevard or avenue or something. Does anybody want this underpopulated windblown stretch of sidewalk to be even wider? What do you want to do, play volleyball on the sidewalk?]

Tesla Motors Prattles about “Range Anxiety” – But What About Loan Repayment Anxiety?

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Ah yes, the horrible Tesla Motors company, based in nearby San Carlos, CA, comes now to diagnose the public’s “range anxiety” concerning electric vehicles. Their point is that if you keep on charging up an electric car, it will keep on running.


But why did Tesla need to get bailed out by the Feds to the tune of a half-billion dollars? Did they try to get private financing? Oh yes, numerous times, but, for some reason, they felt the need to take the money from the Feds. If Tesla is such a great company, why don’t they pay back the government loan right now and thereby relieve taxpayers of loan repayment anxiety?

Oh well.

Here’s some Photoshop Phun – what’s been changed in this photo?

1. “Founder” Elon Musk has been enlarged to make him look more like a man-child playing with a rich man’s toy on the Feds’ dime; or

2. Indoor sunglasses have been added to make “founder” Elon Musk look more like a man-child playing with a rich man’s toy on the Feds’ dime; or

3. Pink XXL Crocs shoes from Costco ($14.99) have been pasted on.

 You Make The Call:

You know Tesla, your fast little toy has impressed some people, but your track record over the past six years is not impressive at all and it remains to be seen how you’ll do over the next six years.

Just saying…

The World’s Largest Sugar Refinery, C&H, is in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sort Of

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

The California and Hawaii Sugar Refinery in Crockett, CA is used to be the largest in the world [see comments], so we all ought to tip our hats when speeding over the Carquinez Strait to enter and leave the San Francisco Bay Area.

Respect The Cane, baby, or otherwise we’ll end up with only yucky beet sugar (perhaps the MythBusters could do a test?) instead of the Seven Varieties we enjoy today.

As seen with the Carquinez Bridge (the 2003 Alfred Zampa suspension span plus the 1958 “23+0015R” cantilever span) inbetwixt. When all the lights are working, you can see “C and H PURE CANE SUGAR.”

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Do you remember the C&H song?* That ditty went a little something like this:

C and H, pure cane sugar, from Hawaii, grown in the Sun
When you cook, when you bake, for goodness sake, C and H
C and H pure cane sugar, that’s the one

(If you ever espy the Moku Pahu bulk freighter carrying all that semi-processed cane from the 808 state, be sure to hum the tune.)

The C&H refinery used to employ hundreds, keeping 46(!) bars humming in the tiny town of Crockett. But these days the place runs at half-speed.

Oh well.

*The authentic, Burl Ives version of the famous C and H jingle: 

Pearly shells from the ocean
Shining in the sun
Covering the shore
When I see them
My heart tells me that I love you
More than all the little pearly shells

For ev’ry grain of sand upon the beach
I’ve got a kiss for you
And I’ve got more left over
For each star that twinkles in the blue

Pearly shells
Shining in the sun
Covering the shore
When I see them
My heart tells me that I love you
More than all the little pearly shells

Pupu a o Ewa
I ka nuku
E lawe mai
Ahe aina
Mai no
Ala hula puuloa he ala hele no kaahupahau

I apau huna one i ka kahakai
Ua honi nau
Ho’i koe lawa na
Pakahi hoku ‘i ka lani
Ala hula puuloahe ala hele no kaahupahau

San Francisco’s Best Bike Store is the New Marin Bikes Outlet in the SoMA – Mega Turbo Awesome

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Now I heard from the Bluoz about Marin Bikes‘ new Factory Outlet in the South of Market Area, but I had to see it to believe it. Yes, the old Fregosi Paint store location at 1090 Folsom is now a huge bike shop.

Unfortunately, they don’t have any bikes going for $200 anymore but you’ll like the prices irregardless. The Yelpers seem to like this store, anyway.

They even have them expensive little folding bikes you can take on BART 24-7

Myself, I recently got me a mountain bike from the REI but you, if you wanted a cheap hybrid bike for $279, something akin to the one Mayor Gavin Newsom uses on Bike to Work Day (a Specialized Globe with his name on the top tube that went for $1000-something), well I don’t think an outfit like Valencia Cyclery could touch that kind of deal, specially considering all the money V.C. spends on advertising.

Just saying.

I’m betting the factory that produced a good portion of these bikes is way over in Red China (or the Other China), but oddly enough, Marin Bikes’ Factory Outlet is right here in San Francisco:

(The arrival of this new store more than makes up for losing our North Face Outlet to Berkeley.)

Get over to 7th and Folsom and tell them Billy sent you.

See you there.

San Francisco MUNI Bus: “No GOD? …No Problem!”

Monday, December 28th, 2009

An ad for the American Humanist Association rolling up Market Street:

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It’s all a part of a “national godless holiday campaign.”

Bill O’Reilly is not amused: “Why do the loathe the baby Jesus? …You don’t sell atheism by running down a baby!”

Oh well.

Humanists Launch First-Ever National Godless Holiday Campaign

For Immediate Release

Humanists Launch First-Ever National Godless Holiday Campaign

(Washington, D.C., November 23, 2009) Celebrating a new kind of holiday tradition, the American Humanist Association has launched a new advertising campaign similar to the one that ran in the nation’s capital last year, which made headlines around the globe. Only this year, instead of the campaign focusing on a single location, ads will be blazoned across transit systems in five cities–including Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco–marking the first-ever nation-wide humanist holiday advertising campaign.

“No God?…No Problem!” proclaim the ads, featuring an image of several smiling, Santa hat-clad individuals. The ads will kick off in Washington, D.C. in time for Thanksgiving weekend, running inside 200 buses, fifty rail cars and on the side or tail of twenty buses. The campaign will continue with ads appearing on select buses in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco starting in early December.

To see images of the ads and find more information about the campaign please visit:

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, explained, “We’re hoping this campaign will build awareness about the humanist movement and our ethical life philosophy–particularly among the ‘nones:’ the rapidly growing percentage of people who claim no religion.”

Since 2005, humanist advertising has become increasingly visible, in particular with highway billboards erected in major cities across the United States. And last year, the American Humanist Association sparked national controversy by advertising the slogan “Why Believe in a God? Just be Good for Goodness’ Sake,” which appeared on Washington, D.C. Metro buses.

This year’s holiday campaign aims to promote the idea of being good without God. For example, on D.C. ads that appear on the interior of Metro cars and buses the slogan is accompanied by the explanation, “Be Good for Goodness’ Sake. Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.”

“Humanists have always understood that striving to make the world a better place is one of humanity’s most important responsibilities,” said Speckhardt. “Religion does not have a monopoly on morality–millions of people are good without believing in God.”

Speckhardt pointed to the false assumption held by many that not believing in God indicates a lack of morality as the reason for needing such advertising campaigns. “We want to change the way people think and talk about nontheists, and to pave the way for acceptance of humanism as a valid and positive philosophy of life.”

“We also want nontheists to know there is a community of like-minded individuals out there they can connect with,” continued Speckhardt. “Many feel uncomfortable talking openly about their personal beliefs because of prejudice against them–they fear they’ll be rejected by their family, their friends and their community, and in some cases, they even fear retaliation for their beliefs. But the American Humanist Association provides an accepting community for nontheists to turn to for support and ways to get involved.”

Speckhardt noted that the response to nontheist advertising is generally positive, although there have been a few confined instances of negative reactions against them. Most notable include a Cincinnati Coalition of Reason billboard that had to be relocated after the owner of the billboard property claimed to receive threats and an American Humanist Association billboard in Moscow, Idaho that was vandalized twice in a three week period.

“We understand our message may seem controversial to some, but it certainly isn’t our purpose to offend anyone,” concluded Speckhardt. “Of course, it’s obvious that many people are also good with a belief in God, so I hope we can all find common ground.”

# # #

The American Humanist Association ( advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

Merry Christmas from San Francisco

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Try not to eat too much, even if your meal is 100% vegan.

A plump American Robin (Turdus migratorius) in San Francisco: 

Have a great 2010!