Posts Tagged ‘February’

It’s Mid-Winter, So Our Flowering Plum Trees are Blooming – 2011′s Season is a Little Late, Actually

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

First started noticing these blooms a couple of days ago:

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Some people think they are cherry blossoms. Check it:

Well it’s late January in San Francisco so it’s time for our sidewalk plum trees to begin blossoming. Yeah, they look a lot like cherry trees and that causes people around town to start talking about how global warming / climate change is making the cherry trees of April wake up three months early or something.

You can double-check with the Friends of the Urban Forest if you want, but I’ll tell you, those flashes of pink you see brightening up the otherwise-dreary Streets of San Francsico these days are early-rising Prunus blireiana, aka Flowering Plum trees, or something similar.

Be patient and you’ll be rewarded with real cherry trees in March – check out the sked at the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park.

If this January blossom is cherry, I’ll eat my hat:

This will be the scene in the Financh in a couple of months – our wild parrots love all kinds of prunus blossoms of course.

Take heart, Spring is just around the corner…

OMG, the Haight-Ashbury Whole Foods Opens Feb. 16th! But Our Graffiti Artists Aren’t Waiting Around

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

[UPDATE: Hey, have you heard any boycott talk about this gro sto? No? Me neither. Oh, wait, that’s right, this joint is outside the Fiefdom of NIMBY Valley. Carry on…]

Remember back in the day, when taggers only graffitoed buildings nearby our still-under-construction Whole Foods?

Good times:

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Well now the little monsters are back, but this time they’re lifting their legs on the store itself.

Check it – here’s what Jackson Fuller, Your San Francisco Real Estate Team has recently documented:

Via Matt Fuller, GRI

Oh snap!

It begins.

But please, urban artists, cease forthwith. You don’t want to make adorable WF “Haight Community Liason” Nicole Watt cry, do you?

O.K. then.

But I’m sure they’ll have the  scribblings cleaned up in time for the Sacred Bread (I’m seriously – they have some weird traditions down Texas Way) ceremony on Opening Day, Wednesday, February 16th 2011, ZOMG!

See?

Bon Courage, Whole Foods Haight!

The Return of “Epic Bearded Man” Thomas Bruso of AC Transit Fame – Bus Fights Behind Him – Cheering for the Giants

Monday, October 25th, 2010

CaliberSF‘s Travis has a doozie today. Click on over to see the original version of this shot and also to catch up with Vietnam Tom.

Via Travis of CaliberSF

California NUMMI Commission Offers Toyota No Carrots and No Sticks

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Here’s the thing about that NUMMI plant in Fremont that’s closing down at the end of the month – Toyota thought about making Prius hybrid electric cars there after the departure of General Motors, but then rejected that idea. So, Corolla production will  be taken care of by an existing plant in Ontario, Canada and pickup trucks, too, will be made somewhere else if necessary. This all got worked out last summer.  

(Here’s Toyota’s current take on the situation from NUMMI spinmeister Lance Tomasu for the record. Enjoy.)

Anyway right now, California’s Toyota NUMMI Commission is coming back from Japan after trying to nag Toyota brass into keeping the Fremont factory going. Take a look at their report. The Question of the Day is why Toyota should remain the only car manufacturer in the entire western United States.

So you’d think that California would offer some carrots and/or wave some sticks around at Toyota but the Commission’s not really equipped to do that all that much.

It’s not like they can’t find some carrots or sticks in their quiver, it’s that their quiver is pretty much empty.

According to the commission, the chance for Toyota to build hybrid electric Corollas in Fremont is somehow some big benefit to Toyota that Toyota is oblivious to. That’s not really a carrot, actually, and you’d think that Toyota would have their own ideas about making cars. Would consumers want to buy a “California Corolla” just because it’s made in Fremont? I don’t think so. Very possibly, Toyota having a big pickem-up factory in Texas helps sell big V8 pickem-ups, but the average Californian would prefer a Made In Japan label, it would seem.   

Another carrot the commission could dangle would be the synergy from making cars in the same state as tiny, troubled Tesla Motors. That’s not really a carrot either, huh?

Well, how about some sticks instead? What will happen to Toyota if it shuts down its money-losing plant in Fremont? Nothing, it would seem. One might suppose that quiet diplomacy would have been used on Toyota last year, to no avail.

Back in the day, down in Fremont:

   

via CanadaGood

Now, let’s read up on the news of the past weekend. Has Toyota really “lost its way?” No. Let’s see here, did Toyota make a mistake with how it handled the floor mat / plastic gas pedal parts / ?????? / issues? Yes, but that’s just a hiccup in the sands of time.

Is Toyota’s decision to discontinue production in California without GM as a partner “suicidal?” No. 

And is the success of the Prius model due to “enthusiastic Californians” or is it due to Toyota spending billions to develop the technology and then selling them at a loss for years and years? You Make The Call.  

And are the people of Mississippi looking forward to making hybrid vehicles for Toyota in a brand-new factory that’s going unused right now? Yes. Toyota decided last year to make Priuseses in Blue Springs, Mississippi instead of California. That’s California’s loss, no argument about that.

All right, here’s entire conclusion of the Blue Ribbon Commission’s report, in bold.

“The collaborative efforts of Californians, which have bolstered NUMMI’s success, are ongoing.”

Was NUMMI a success, really? Didn’t it lose money every year for the past quarter century? Yes.

“A ‘Red Team’ of state, local government, private sector and other officials have proposed significant tax and business incentives to retain the plant.”

Presumably, Toyota knows about this, but is not interested.

 “Closing NUMMI now is a decision of choice, not necessity.”

This is true. If Toyota were really afraid of the consequences of closing down NUMMI then maybe they’d run it at a loss, if necessary, forever.

“Closure abandons a loyal, highly-skilled workforce and places a heavy burden on communities and the state when they can least afford it. The decision is inconsistent with the values that have led Toyota to unparalleled economic success. It elevates narrow, short-term corporate interests above the interests of workers, the public and the long-term interests of Toyota itself.

Don’t really get this. Why should Toyota have a plant in California instead of some other state or nearby country?  

 “Looking at the pending NUMMI plant shutdown, and then you look at larger problems that Toyota is having in America” Richard Holober, from the Consumer Federation of California, told the NUMMI Blue Ribbon Commission.

Well, Toyota’s “having problems in America” primarily due to a decision to save a few pennies by using a plastic-on-plastic device to make holding your foot on the gas pedal a bit easier AND not reacting quickly enough to incident reports. This issue will get solved.

“I can’t help but conclude that this is not an isolated plant closure decision, but a symptom of a much, much deeper problem with what has happened to Toyota as a corporation.”

What has “happened to Toyota as a corporation” is that it’s become the best car company in the world. This was true last year, it’s true this year, it’ll be true next year.

“Akio Toyoda, the Toyota president whose grandfather founded the automaker in 1937, admitted at a February 24 Congressional hearing, “recently we haven’t lived up to the standards you’ve come to expect from us or that we expect from ourselves.” He also stated that one of the automaker’s great strengths was facing its mistakes and addressing them. The decision to close NUMMI reflects the period when the automaker pursued a hyper-expansion and abandoned its values in the interest of narrow, short-term financial goals.

“Hyper-expansion” = Making Popular Cars. “Narrow, short-term financial goals” = GM. Now, Toyota changed a bit after getting listed on the stock exchange in New Yawk, and Toyota has more hide-bound corporate culture than it probably needs but it’s doing all right overall.

“Toyota, however, has risen to outstanding heights by building its success precisely on strong core values. These included: 1) building only the highest quality vehicles; 2) customer safety first; 3) lifetime job security for its workers; 4) caring partnerships with communities; 5) concern for the environment. A very visible first step toward returning to this successful corporate ethic would be to keep NUMMI open, and show California and the world that the company has reached into its heritage to define its future.

I don’t know, Toyota participated in NUMMI during a time when there was a threat of massive tariffs being applied to cars imported from Japan. The 1981-1994 Voluntary Export Restraint plan of that era was a disaster for American consumers (and, speaking of “narrow, short-term financial goals,” the long-term health of the American automobile industry.) Something like the threat of massive tariffs on Toyota products would be a nice stick for the NUMMI Commission to wave about, but, for whatever reason, Toyota doesn’t seemed to be all that worried about that issue. 

“This is the moment for political leaders in Washington and Sacramento to address the closure. Millions of Californians are hurting in the worst job market in seven decades and are deeply apprehensive about the future. The most immediate, direct, and cost effective jobs program available is to keep NUMMI running.

There’s no question that keeping NUMMI running would benefit California. The question is why Toyota should lose money to finance an American stimulus plan?

“This stimulus plan delivers 25,000 jobs and could save $2.3 billion. The automaker and California would reap a triple bottom-line benefit: Toyota would restore its image and retain a world-class plant; workers and their families would make it through a dark economic winter; and California would get further down the road to economic growth and a green future.

O.K., the Blue Ribbon Commission is traveling home from Nagoya, Japan now.

Perhaps the their trip to Toyota City will prove useful even if the NUMMI factory shuts down on sked this month.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the Commission got.

Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass Returns, and the King Tut Show Closes March 28th

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs is heading out on March 28, 2010, so now’s your last chance.

And Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawass is coming back to town to give a talk on March 8th. Deets below.

Dr. Zahi Hawass giving Mayor Gavin Newsom a tour last year:

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FINAL WEEKS OF KING TUT AT THE DE YOUNG
Extended hours, Hawass lecture part of final weeks through March 28.

SAN FRANCISCO—Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs enters its final weeks at the de Young Museum before heading to its next presentation in New York City in April.  The exhibition closes on Sunday, March 28.  The de Young will offer extended viewing hours and a special lecture by noted Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass during the last few weeks.

Extended Viewing Hours
Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs will offer extended hours on the following days:
•    Saturday, March 20, 9 am–9 pm, last ticket at 7:30 pm
•    Saturday, March 27, 9 am–9 pm, last ticket at 7:30 pm
•    Sunday, March 28, 9 am–9 pm, last ticket at 7:30 pm
On those days, the Museum Café will remain open until 7 pm.  The de Young’s permanent collection will close at the regular time of 5:15 pm and the Museum Tower will close at 5:30 pm.  Exhibition tickets are available through
www.ticketmaster.com.

March 8 Lecture by Dr. Zahi Hawass
Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egyptologist and raconteur will deliver a lecture, Mysteries of Tutankhamun Revealed, at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House on Monday, March 8 at 7:30 pm.  Tickets are $15 (general admission) and available through
www.ticketmaster.com.  Dr. Hawass’ lecture will share information discovered through the two-year examination of the DNA and CT scans of Tutankhamun and 11 other royal mummies in the collection of the Cairo Museum.  Among the findings are the details of Tut’s health conditions (cleft palate, clubfoot, malaria, bone disease), his family lineage, paternity of two fetal mummies found in his tomb, and the reassessment of stylistic depictions of Tut in sculpture and artifacts found in his tomb.

Organization
The exhibition is organized by National Geographic, Arts and Exhibitions International, and AEG Exhibitions, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Northern Trust is the proud cultural partner, and American Airlines is the official airline of the exhibition. The San Francisco presentation is sponsored by Athena Troxel Blackburn, Mrs. Thomas C. Crowley, Sr., Rajnikant and Helen Desai and Beringer Vineyards.

Visiting the de Young
The de Young, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and located in Golden Gate Park, is the fourth most visited fine art museum in the United States.  It showcases American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, international textile arts and costumes, and art from the Americas, the Pacific, and Africa.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer Realistic About NUMMI Commission, Report Due March 3rd

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Our State Treasurer certainly seems realistic about the chances of getting Toyota to take over the Toyota/GM NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA, so that’s a good thing. Bill just wants to do all that he can before giving up.

Bill Lockyer introducing commission members at the initial meeting in the CPUC Building on Van Ness yesterday:

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Here are some new deets, below. Let’s wait and see what they come up with…

“Toyota’s Proposed Plant Shutdown to Be Scrutinized by Panel of California Leaders

Blue Ribbon Commission holds public hearing, will issue findings next Wednesday on economic, social, environmental costs of automaker’s proposal to close award-winning NUMMI plant in Fremont

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 24 — A 10-member panel of California leaders convened by State Treasurer Bill Lockyer held a public hearing in San Francisco today to gather facts and take testimony from a broad range of experts on the expected impact of Toyota’s planned shutdown of New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. – or NUMMI – auto plant in Fremont. The plant has consistently won top ratings from J.D. Powers and is widely regarded as a model for the auto industry.

A shutdown of NUMMI would be the largest mass layoff in the current recession, and the prospect of having to endure the loss of potentially tens of thousands more jobs in the plant itself and related industries has spurred broad concern throughout the state. The Blue Ribbon Commission has been charged with both collecting the facts on the impact of closing NUMMI and examining alternatives for keeping the plant in operation.

Lockyer explained, “Californians are deeply concerned about how the loss of this plant might affect their economy, their state and their lives, and it is the job of this Commission to help find the answers to those questions. It is a testament to the quality of leaders on this panel that they have been more than willing to take up this challenge. I have asked the panel, and they have agreed, to gather and assess the facts and to have a report on my desk by next Wednesday morning so that I can share it with the public at noon.”

Acclaimed actor Danny Glover, who serves on the Commission, echoed those sentiments when he said, “California leaders – religious, civic, labor, and business – have come together on this Commission to determine for ourselves if the closing of Toyota’s California plant is necessary, to assess the severity of the impact that would follow such a closing, and, if possible, to explore strategies that might make it possible to avoid a shutdown. It is an honor to have been asked to serve my state in this serious and important matter.”

Some economic experts have projected that Toyota’s impending NUMMI shutdown could cost the state – already one of the hardest-hit by unemployment during this recession – as many as 50,000 more jobs. That figure includes the more than 5,000 now employed at the plant itself and an estimated 50,000 more in related industries up and down the state. In anticipation of the closure, some companies that supply the plant with parts and material have already announced layoff plans.

Concerns about the impact of the shutdown do not end with its economic consequences, however. The membership of the Commission reflects the breadth of issues that have fueled the growing alarm over Toyota’s plan to abandon auto manufacturing in California. The members of the Commission are:

 –  Professor Harley Shaiken, UC Berkeley
 –  Bob Wasserman, Mayor of Fremont
 –  Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, Presbyterian Church USA
 –  Victor Uno, Chairman, Port of Oakland
 –  Richard Holober, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of California
 –  Bruce Kern, Executive Director, East Bay Economic Development Alliance
 –  Carl Pope, President, Sierra Club
 –  Nina Moore, Fremont Chamber of Commerce
 –  Art Pulaski, Chief Officer, California Labor Federation
 –  Danny Glover, Actor.

 
Another Commission member, the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, who is the head of the Presbyterian Church USA and of a San Francisco Bay area congregation, said, “This Commission has a moral duty to serve our community and state to sort out the facts, to assess the implications of those facts, and to search for solutions that will best serve the needs of Californians and their families.”

Source: California Labor Federation”

Danny Glover’s Going to Travel to Toyota City, Japan to Keep Our NUMMI Plant Open?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Let’s see here, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer juststarted a commission to keep Fremont’s NUMMI auto plant running past April, 2010? This commission, meeting for the first time tomorrow in San Francisco, will soon be going on the road, it appears:

“The treasurer’s office said commission members will go to Japan and report directly to Toyota officials.”

Ready or not, Toyota, here we come.*   

A NUMMI representative parading on the Streets of San Francisco, during happier times a few years back:

The commission members:

UC Berkeley professor Harley Shaiken (chairman)
Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman
Presbyterian Church USA’s Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow
Port of Oakland Commission Chairman Victor Uno
Fremont Chamber of Commerce member Nina Moore
Consumer Federation of California Executive Director Richard Holober
East Bay Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Bruce Kern
Sierra Club of America President Carl Pope
Art Pulaski, Chief Officer, California Federation of Labor
Danny Glover, Actor

Look forward to reading Mr. Danny Glover’s Twitteringabout going 200 per on the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train when he’s on his way to Nagoya.

Does it make sense to build cars in the bay area anymore?** Would the bay area buy the products of the NUMMI plant in the future? We’ll see.

*Down with the landing gear/ up goes the useless prayer.

**The shut-down dealership in Oakland that the Chron’s op-ed fretted about, that deal had more to do with the health of Nissan than Toyota, actually. Anyway, the place just got reopened – called One Toyota of Oakland it is.  

Both AC Transit Bus Fighters Speak Out – Planned Boxing Rematch Cancelled

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Here’s some fresh video from YouTubes’s doghousefm. It seems that the famous incident started when Epic Beard Guy Thomas Alexander Bruso boarded an AC Transit bus so he could go “to Frisco to get some weed.” His original plan for his mother’s funeral:

“I’m going to wear a powder blue fucking suit, and a white shirt and a red tie and a fucking breast cancer pin…”

Comes now the fight loser “Michael” (who appears to be on a first-name-only basis with DJ “JV“):

“First of all, I’d like to aPOlogize to AC Transit…”

It goes on and on, Black History Month, 5150, bygones, veterans, arthritis, murder, parole, apologies, brothers, stolen money, leaking, ass kicking, Strike Force(?) Showtime TV, 10,000 kids, cocaine - it goes on and on.

Can’t remember which morning-zoo / dawg-pound joint this screengrab came from. Oh yes, it was from WILD 94.9 FM:

And here’s more information about the now-cancelled plans for a rematch.

We’re approaching endgame on this one…

Target Free Tut Weekend a Huge Success at our de Young Museum

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Check out just a part of the throngs clamoring to see Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at our de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park this Free Target Weekend.

See? The line started at the front, then headed towards the Japanese Tea Garden and then on off to JFK Jr. Drive and points unknown.

Now people, you didn’t expect that the mummy would be traveling around the world, did you? That thing’s not leaving Egypt ever – it never has and it never will. And the iconic funeary mask and Selket – you could see those things back in 1979 but not anymore. And actually, Egypt’s on a museum-building kick these days, so when this traveling show’s over, it’s over - the stuff on this tour won’t ever be coming back to America.

This exhibit packs up on on March 28th, 2010. See you there!

(more…)

Stanford Frosh Crystal Lee Crowned Miss Chinatown USA for 2010

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

This was the scene last night at the Palace of Fine Arts, where Stanfurd freshman and bay area local Crystal Lee was crowned Miss Chinatown USA 2010. It’s international news.

All the pageantry was caught by David Yu of davidyuweb. He always has great photos of whatever’s going on the bay area. 

The crowning the School of the Arts alum:

Here are all the contestants: Christine Lim 李汶娸, Kristina Owyoung 歐陽坤怡, Samantha Chin 陳冠曄, Leilani Soon 孫愛蘭, Anna Chiem 詹佩盈, Christina Zhang 張子倩, Crystal Lee 李萬晴, Gloria Mui 梅主恩, Angela Wang 王兆蓬, Chang Liu 劉暢, Li Li 李欣燃, and Tong Qiao 喬彤:

How many peacocks had to die for this outfit? None, I s’pose:

Congratulations:

Crystal Lee

San Francisco, CA
Miss Chinatown U.S.A.

Kristina Owyoung
Lafayette, CA
Miss Chinese Chamber of Commerce/First Princess

Christina Zhang
Pleasanton, CA
Miss San Francisco Chinatown

Li Li
Flushing, NY
2nd Princess

Anna Chiem
Chicago, IL
3rd Princess

Angela Wang
Sugar Land, TX
4th Princess

Anna Chiem
Chicago, IL
Miss TVB Choice Award

And of course our Chinese New Year’s Parade is coming up (rain expected – it’s free to watch of course, or you can pay $30 for reserved seating) on Saturday, February 27th, 2010, right after the Coronation Ball:

Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Coronation Ball
Friday, February 26, 2010
San Francisco Hilton & Towers
333 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco
(415) 982-3000
6:00 pm No Host Cocktails
7:00 pm Dinner and Dancing until midnight
Tickets: $120
The newly selected Miss Chinatown USA and her court will be crowned at the annual Harrah’s Coronation Ball. The black tie dinner/dance, attended by many community leaders, promises to be a highlight of the Lunar New Year festivities.