Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Shakedown 1998: How the Neighbors of Sutro Tower Held Digital TV Hostage for Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

Friday, July 21st, 2017

[Feel free to boot up (Shakedown) 1979 by the Smashing Pumpkins while you read – that’s the reference.]

Here it is, noble Sutro Tower, beloved symbol of Frisco. The vertical part in the middle is an add-on – it brought / brings digital TV to the Bay Area.

Well, two decades ago it caused consternation to certain (and certainly now) millionaire homeowners of Midtown Terrace, Forrest Knolls and basically the whole Twin Peaks area what’s located in the “fall zone.” (Uh, that’s in quotes due to the fact that this phrase was made up by some area attorney homeowner back in the day. But it’s center of gravity is like 16 underground, so as long as it stays together as a rigid body (and, you know, it probably will – I’m not promising you anything though), I don’t think it can fall down.

Anyway, noble Sutro. I think this is as close as I’ve ever been to it at an altitude higher than the base, if that makes sense:

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So, just as area attorneys (and USF law students) banded together back in the 1970’s to deprive us of our landmark, area attorneys banded together in the 1990’s to fight the relatively minor addition of a 100-foot long metal “auxiliary antenna” for digital TV broadcast.

All this digital antenna fooforall was ably covered by INTERESTED PARTY the San Francisco Chronicle in 1998. And look:

“The 977-foot Sutro Tower is owned by four television stations: KRON, KTVU, KGO and KPIX. KRON is owned by Chronicle Publishing Co., which also controls The Chronicle.” 

Hello! (The writer properly put fall zone in quote marks. Good.)

Obviously the fretful homeowner lawyers were threatening to sue, but also obviously we now have this auxiliary antenna, so how did that happen? Well, Sutro Tower Inc. (STI) had to fork over some cold hard cash:

“STI agrees to contribute:

a. $3,000.00 per year to the Midtown Terrace Home Owners Association. The initial contribution payable prior to December 31, 2008. Subsequent contributions to be made on or before July 1 of each year

b. $4,500.00 one time contribution to the Twin Peaks Improvement Association for an open space improvement project.

c. $6,000.00 one time contribution to the Forrest Knolls Neighborhood Organization to replace the Forrest Knolls entrance sign.

d. $ 10,000.00 one time contribution for the benefit of the surrounding area to purchase two drinking fountains one each at the walking paths around two area reservoirs. The contribution will be payable only when the fountains are approved by the appropriate agencies and actually purchased.”

The big winner? Well it’s gotta be the MTHOA, which gets three grand every year from here to eternity, paid for by Channels 2, 4,* 5, und 7.** All that’s gotta add up to a couple hundred thou eventually.

Read the rest of the agreement if you want. (You don’t hear so much about the RF concerns anymore – I guess people have other things to worry about these days. And what else, a few people were complaining about red and white lead paint chips falling down and landing in the soil a while back. I haven’t heard about that issue lately either.)

On the up side, the people who live there have benefited from some nice middle class welfare over the years such as mortgage interest deductibility, Prop 13, and massive massive home price appreciation since the 1970s / 1990’s, the times when the yammering was going full tilt.

It’s pretty much a happy ending. Play us out, Wiki:

Despite the initial revulsion of some residents, Sutro Tower is now recognized by many as a Bay Area icon, it appears in local art, television shows, and movies as one of the architectural symbols of the city. The tower is featured in video games, business logos, on clothing, as furniture and even tattoos. The U.S. band Information Society used it on the cover of their album Don’t Be Afraid. A local entertainment guide, SF Station, uses it as a logo, as does the collaborative art game SFZero and the Expose SF art competition.”

And Don’t Be Afraid, Midtown. Your tower is 100% Pure Energy. It brings us our Information Society.***

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And oh, I just came across this:

Sutro Tower: The Origins of an ‘Eyesore’ By Jessica Placzek

Enjoy.

*Which is no longer owned by the Chronic – it’s master is now Nexstar Media Group.

**I can’t host a Super Bowl party when NBC is doing the broadcast, cause I’m a cutter, a cable cutter since like aught-nine. And no Olympics either. 

***Or Vast Wasteland, your pick. When somebody presses the remote button wrong, the digital TV turns on. Like 16 channels – home shopping network, plus Spanish and Chinese language programs.  

Our SFPL Hosts an Event on August 6th for the Great Eclipse of August 21, 2017 – FREE PAIR OF VIEWING GLASSES

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

 

The San Francisco Public Library has got you covered with this whole partial eclipse thing:

“The Sky Event of the Decade: August’s Eclipse of the Sun – Receive free safe viewing glasses and tips for observing this once-in-a-lifetime event

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — San Francisco Public Library is pleased to bring Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi to the Main Library for a talk titled “August’s ‘All-American’ Eclipse of the Sun and How to View it Safely.”

On Aug. 21, there will be an eclipse of the sun visible throughout North America.  People in a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will see a spectacular total eclipse, with the moon briefly covering the sun, and day turning into night.  Everyone else, including those in the Bay Area, will see a partial eclipse, where the moon covers a good part of the sun.

On Sunday, Aug. 6, Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi will give a non-technical, family-oriented talk on getting ready for the “All-American” eclipse of the sun. Fraknoi will describe how eclipses work, why they are one of nature’s most spectacular sights, exactly when and where the eclipse of 2017 will be visible, and how to observe the eclipse and the sun safely.

Everyone attending the event will receive a free pair of safe viewing glasses for observing the sun.Copies of Professor Fraknoi’s new children’s book on eclipses, When the Sun Goes Dark, will be available for sale and signing after the talk. Like the book, the discussion will be appropriate for children 10 years of age or older, and adults.

Andrew Fraknoi is the chair of the astronomy department at Foothill College. He serves on the 2017 Eclipse Task Force of the American Astronomical Society, training teachers and librarians to act as guides for the public as the August eclipse approaches. He has appeared regularly on local and national radio, explaining astronomical developments in everyday language and was named California Professor of the Year in 2007.  The International Astronomical Union has named Asteroid 4859 Asteroid Fraknoi to honor his contributions to the public understanding of science.

The Sky Event of the Decade:  August’s “All-American” Eclipse of the Sun  Aug. 61-3 p.m., Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, Koret Auditorium”

The Most Baller Thing Ever: The “DONOR LOUNGE” at Our California Academy of Sciences – It’s All Balcony, Basically

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Far from the madding crowd, IS YOUR NEW DONOR LOUNGE:

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It starts at $2500.

Bonus:

Incoming! planetarium show opens March 11, 2016
Narrated by George Takei, new show explores asteroids, comets, and the hard-hitting stories of our cosmic origins”

See you there!

How People Do Wiring Above Hayes Street in the Western Addition – It’s Also How They Charge Up Electric Cars

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Up to code or not?

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You tell me.

MUNI Bus Ad Goes Off-Message: “CROWDED BUS DILEMMA” – “PACKED BUS AND YOUR LATE, SQUEEZE IN OR WAIT?”

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Oh no, the bus is packed and you’re already late?

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Isn’t it ironic?

Dont’cha think?

In any event, our Exploratorium is doing fine at its new location.

If You Live in SF, You and Your Fam Can Visit the Academy of Sciences for Free, Courtesy of Target Stores

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Once again, it’s time for NEIGHBORHOOD FREE WEEKENDS at our CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES courtesy of TARGET Stores.

Of course there are other days you can visit this place for free, but the lines can be quite long because the whole world is invited. It can look like this:

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Or at least that’s my impression. Just look at this – these people in the pouring rain on JFK Drive were hundreds and hundreds of yards away from the main entrance. The nice thing about zip code-based free neighborhood weekends is that it’s not as crowded as this, plus they throw in Fridays too.

Anyway, the days for 2015 go from February 27th to March 22.

All the deets:

“San Francisco residents enjoy free admission on designated weekends each spring and fall, according to zip code.

Free admission is available for San Francisco residents of each zip code during the designated dates listed below. Visiting adults are limited to six children for free entry. Proof of residency* is required.

Bernal Heights, Castro, Cole Valley, Glen Park, Haight, Lake Merced, Mission, Noe Valley, St. Francis Wood
Zip codes: 94110, 94114, 94117, 94127, 94131, 94132
Spring 2015 Free Days: Feb. 27, 28, Mar. 1

Parkside, Sunset
Zip codes: 94116, 94122
Spring 2015 Free Days: Mar. 6, 7, 8

Chinatown, Marina, Nob Hill, North Beach, Presidio, Richmond, Russian Hill, Seacliff, Telegraph Hill, Western Addition
Zip codes: 94108, 94109, 94115, 94118, 94121, 94123, 94126, 94129, 94133
Spring 2015 Free Days: Mar. 13, 14, 15

Bayview-Hunters Point, Downtown, Hayes Valley, Ingelside-Excelsior, Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, SoMa, Tenderloin, Treasure Island, Visitacion Valley
Zip codes: 94102, 94103, 94104, 94105, 94107, 94111, 94112, 94124, 94130, 94134, 94158
Spring 2015 Free Days: Mar. 20, 21, 22

* Each visiting adult must show a valid photo ID with proof of residency. The following items or combinations are acceptable:

A driver license or state ID card

Photo ID plus postmarked envelope, postcard, or magazine label with name and date

Photo ID plus utility bill (gas/electric/cable), bank statement, or letter from a government agency with name and home address (not a P.O. Box)”

The Evanescent Tide Pools of Ocean Beach Allow Visitors to Get Their Feet Wet Near the Cliff House Without the Risk of Drowning

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

So what do you call this situation when a high tide strands ocean water on Ocean Beach and a temporary lake of salt water forms in the sand?

I’m calling this a tide pool even though it’s not rocky in there at all.

Anyway, these little lakes can be very long and very shallow – the perfect recipe for warm water at Ocean Beach:

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Many many people drown at Ocean Beach due to the riptide and the cold cold, water. If you want to just get your feet wet at the beach, wanting for this kind of pool is the safer way to go.

“White House Maker Faire” + “President Obama’s Call To Action” + “Brit Morin + Co” = ???

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Sooooo, if Obama hadn’t issued his “call to action,” then “Brit + Co” wouldn’t have introduced these “four new programs?”

That’s how I’m reading this.

Enjoy:

“Responding to President Obama’s Call To Action, Brit + Co Announces Four New Programs to Reach Makers of All Ages

SAN FRANCISCO, June 18, 2014 — In support of the first ever White House Maker Faire, San Francisco-based company, Brit + Co, has created four new programs in a new effort to reach makers of all ages.

Founded in late 2011 by CEO Brit Morin, Brit + Co’s mission is to unlock creativity by educating, inspiring and supporting makers. The programs announced today are designed to further bring this mission to life and highlight the importance of creativity, STEM and making to women and girls across the United States.

“The Maker Movement is re-defining the American dream. With new advances in technology enabling the democratization of ideas, skills, and products, citizens young and old are now able to turn their creative passions into real businesses. This new economy is reigniting American manufacturing and employment, while bringing together communities of makers who are producing innovative products for less cost than ever before. It’s an economy that could total nearly $700B.” stated Morin.

Since the beginning, Brit + Co has focused on inspiring and enabling women and girls to learn how to make, using tools and skills both new and old. As part of today’s White House Maker Faire, the company is announcing four new programs to continue igniting this audience:

These new programs include:

 —  Campus Ambassadors. Brit + Co’s new cohort of campus ambassadors will host local maker events once per quarter in their college or town, reaching as many as 20,000+ new makers per year.

—  Makeathons. Brit + Co will host a large-scale yearly ‘Makeathon’ to take place at their annual makers event, Re:Make, attended by thousands of people. Each Makeathon will focus on creating a new tool, app, gadget or program to solve a broad issue. The participants will be able to build relationships with leaders in technology for personal mentorship at the event and beyond.

—  Makers in Residence. Brit + Co will sponsor a select group of women to be “makers in residence” at Brit HQ each year, allowing them free co-working space and access to machines and DIY tools ranging from 3D printers to laser cutters.

—  Free E-Classes for Students. Brit + Co will engage K-12 students in making by developing a series of free e-classes that introduces kids to maker skills like 3D printing, graphic design and electronics. The e-classes will be designed for teachers to use in the classroom, or as an after school program. Each e-class will be paired with a DIY kit that provides students with hands-on materials to learn that particular skill or technology.

In addition, Morin will be in attendance at today’s White House Maker Faire and participating in a National Day of Making using #NationOfMakers on Twitter.

Brit + Co is an online media and e-commerce platform that provides tools to teach, inspire, and enable creativity among women and girls. From traditional crafts to high-tech manufacturing, Brit + Co connects millions of users with makers, designers, chefs, and inventors, together building a community of creativity.

For additional information on these programs, please visit the Brit + Co website at www.brit.co.

For more information on the White House Maker Faire and to watch live, please visit  www.WhiteHouse.gov/MakerFaire.

Press contact:

Amanda Duncan

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge: Penguins + Pajamas + Your Family = Fun at the Academy of Sciences Sleepover This Friday

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Word comes from Scholastic that it will bring a bunch of books to San Francisco to promote its Summer Reading Challenge at this Friday’s Penguins + Pajamas event:

“The California Academy of Sciences will be hosting an “Penguins + Pajamas” event (their wildly popular kid museum sleepover) in partnership with the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge on Friday June 13th at 6 p.m. CT.  

We plan on providing over 300 children’s books (The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System), Harry Potter and The Magic School Bus posters Captain Underpants trading cards, WordGirl stickers, Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge glow-in-the-dark bookmarks, EVEREADY flashlights and batteries (our sponsor this year), tote bags, reading certificates, summer reading book lists and more as kids learn about the night sky at one the nation’s most well-respected and popular scientific and cultural institutions.”

That was the wind-up, now here’s the pitch:

“On Friday, June 13, join us for a Brain Power Sleepover. Explore the museum at night while you have fun putting your brain power to work. Solve mind-boggling puzzles, marvel at the stars in a late night planetarium show, participate in the 2014 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge and get a free book! Learn about everything from brains to biology with interactive programs, live demos, and hands-on activities.”

(And if you’re going to do this, you might as well get a Membership, just saying.)

Just think, this could be you:

See you there!

California Coast: Our California Academy of Sciences Unveils a New 2,000-Gallon Aquarium Tank Brimming with Colorful Marine Life

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Here’s your brand-new 2000-gallon tank downstairs at our world-famous California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park – let’s see here, we’ve got a Strawberry Anemone, a Greenstriped Rockfish, and a Vermillion Sea Star all in a row:

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That’s the Rocky Reefs part of the new California Coast Exhibit.

(And if you want to see more of our California coasts, check out these great shots archived at Cold Water Images – it’s a colorful world down below.)

All right, see you there!

All the deets:

“Explore new views of the California Coast: California Academy of Sciences unveils new 2,000-gallon aquarium tank brimming with colorful marine life

SAN FRANCISCO (June 6, 2014) — Today, the Academy unveiled the latest addition to its aquarium—a colorful and charismatic 2,000-gallon tank filled with strawberry anemones, painted greenlings, and rosy rockfish, giving visitors a glimpse into the vibrant communities that thrive in California’s National Marine Sanctuaries. This striking addition to the Academy’s California Coast aquarium exhibit will become a permanent fixture and will offer spectacular new views and insights into these rich underwater ecosystems, from kelp forests filled with leopard sharks and wolf eels to rocky reefs blanketed in vibrant pink anemones and colorful corals.

“Presenting the wonders of the natural world is at the core of the Academy’s mission, and we’re thrilled to share this new addition to our aquarium with visitors,” says Bart Shepherd, Director of the Academy’s Steinhart Aquarium. “By showcasing the biodiversity found in our own backyard, we hope to engage and inspire visitors with the importance of studying and sustaining these ecosystems—locally and around the world.”

In addition to the exhibit’s larger tanks, a series of jewel tanks showcase some of the area’s most fascinating marine creatures, while interactive displays illustrate the migration pathways of sea turtles, humpback whales, and sharks that pass through these rich marine habitats.

At a Citizen Science station, visitors can contribute to an ongoing Academy research project—and learn more about how to protect California’s vibrant and vital coastal ecosystems. At the Discovery Tidepool, visitors can touch and examine a variety of ocean creatures, where aquarium biologists and docents help visitors of all ages interact with and learn about starfish, sea urchins, and other marine life native to the California coastline. Special magnifying cameras are also available, encouraging an unusually close look at tidepool residents.

In addition to the many informative and interactive exhibits, visitors can learn about marine biodiversity and the importance of sustaining these vibrant ocean ecosystems during daily programs, including:

Coral Reef Dive
Daily at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm
Watch as a diver suits up in SCUBA gear and plunges into the world’s deepest living coral reef exhibit. Outfitted with an underwater microphone, the diver will answer all of your reef-related questions.

Ocean Action – The Power of pH!
Daily at 1:00 pm
Have you ever wondered what sea shells, the ocean, and our atmosphere have in common? Come find out at this fun, experiment-based program as we explore the ocean and its special chemistry. Learn about the simple steps you can take to help keep oceans and the marine animals that live in them healthy.”