Thursday, June 30, 2011

Everyone Loves a Parade

When some people think about parades, they picture a few floats and marching bands, perhaps a beauty queen and her court, and a local politician or two waving at the onlookers. Something like this. Being from San Francisco, however, means that when I think about parades, I think of huge strings of firecrackers, dancing lumberjacks, Shriners in fezzes, drag queens, and tens of thousands of people. Here are a few photos that I've taken at recent parades:

This dragon closes every Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco

Shriners in their tiny cars at the St. Patrick's Day Parade

My favorite marching band, the CSU-Humboldt Lumberjacks. 

The Pride Parade wouldn't be complete without these ladies...

...or this gent.

Now this is my kind of float (at the Italian Heritage Parade).
But of course, my all time favorite parade was the
2010 Giants World Series Champion Parade. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baseball Season is Here!

It's baseball season again and many of us here in San Francisco are hoping the Giants make it to the World Series for a second year in a row. I remember how excited I was when the Giants were in the World Series in 1989 and last year's win made me feel like a kid again.

Here in the Marina, Giants-fever is particularly strong. (Of course, it's even easier to get excited when one can walk by Tim Lincecum on the street, as I did a few days ago.) What better to match the excitement and my childish glee than a Giants cupcake from SusieCakes?


Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Focus

Two years ago, Yelp was one of my favorite websites. I had written so many reviews the previous year, that I achieved "Yelp Elite" status and was incredibly proud of it. However, the site started receiving a lot of negative press and I started wondering if maybe the critics had a point. I continued to write reviews, but at a much slower pace. It's now been over nine months since I last wrote a review on Yelp, but I find that I miss writing about the places I visit. Therefore, I'm going to transform this blog—which clearly hasn't received much of my attention recently—into a place to write about local businesses, post some pictures and the occasional video, and keep track of my favorite San Francisco goings-on.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another Attempt at Revival

I made an attempt to revive this blog in August 2010 (see below), but as my solitary post shows, that attempt failed. I'm back to try again. 

Growing up in San Francisco, I learned to always be prepared for earthquakes. The 1989 Loma Prieta quake affected me in only small ways—my mom had to work late at the newspaper and my favorite TV show shut off a few seconds into the shaking—but the destruction it wrought on the San Francisco Bay Area was tremendous. Almost everything has been rebuilt now, but I can still look around the city and see the changes brought about by the quake.

Over the years, I've watched as numerous towns and cities around the world have had their own disastrous earthquakes, and was particularly shocked by the devastation in Haiti last year. And then when I started hearing news of a huge quake in Japan, I felt the sadness begin all over again. The tsunami and troubles at the nuclear plant made everything even worse and I began looking for ways to help.

There is a large Japanese community in San Francisco, and many, many Japanese restaurants. Two of my favorites, Hotei in the Inner Sunset and Chotto in the Marina, are running promotions designed to raise money for earthquake relief efforts and many others have collection boxes. My boyfriend and I have dined at these two restaurants and have plans to visit others in the next week.

I hope the people of Japan are able to rebuild and recover quickly and that my small contribution is able to make a bit of difference.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

White vs. Brown Rice

First, I just have to say that I haven't been blogging lately--except for work, but that's different--and I've been missing it. So I'm reviving this blog. Let's see how that goes. Now on to the substance of the post.

Last month I read a fascinating book about North Korea, aka the Hermit Kingdom, called "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea." In this book, Barbara Demick chronicles the history of the country since World War II, integrating the stories of a number of defectors to really personalize the truly horrible situations North Koreans have lived through. Demick's an award-winning journalist, so it's not surprising that this book read so well; however, it's a rare non-fiction title that is such a page-turner.

Of all the things I learned about North Korea and North Koreans, the one that keeps coming back to me is the disdain for brown rice and the luxury status held by white rice. Having grown up with a health nut who non-verbally guilt-trips anyone with whom she dines who has the audacity to order white rice, I found this point most astonishing. I feel fairly certain that the brown rice they did have wasn't nearly as good as what I was eating as a kid (given all of the sanctions and government restrictions in place), but the rapturous descriptions the defectors gave of their first bowl of white rice outside of North Korea surprised me.

Brown rice may be healthier, but I will never take white rice for granted ever again having read this book.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Giant Blobs of Doom

I've always liked jellyfish—at least to look at. Whenever I'm at an aquarium, especially the fantastic one at Monterey Bay, I seek out the jellyfish and proceed to stare at them for as long as I can. They move in such interesting ways and come in so many different shapes and sizes. Now, I know they can be dangerous and there are numerous horror stories of beach goers being stung by them, but they are also popular as a food item.

After reading this AP article today, however, I'm starting to move them more into the bad/dangerous category and less in the good/pretty/edible category. Certainly we've all heard about the effects global warming is having on the oceans, but until now I'd not heard about the damage ever-increasing jellyfish territories are having on fisheries. I also didn't know that the Nomura, which is the largest and most poisonous species, can get up to 6 feet in diameter!

I guess this might also explain the hundreds (thousands?) of dead jellyfish I found here at the beach last week. Fortunately, they were only about 1/60th the size of the Nomura.

Have you had any memorable encounters with jellyfish? Eaten them? Been stung by them?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Orion's back

I've always loved the constellation Orion and I can't tell you how happy I was to find it in the sky last night. I remember learning a bit about it in eighth grade when we did an astronomy unit, but I decided to learn more about this figure.

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant that's very bright and very close to the end of its life. According to Wikipedia, when it dies, the supernova will be visible from Earth during the day! In the constellation, this is the star at the top left, or what would be Orion's right shoulder.

I basically knew all that about Betelgeuse, but I certainly didn't know/remember that Rigel, Orion's left foot, is even brighter—it's the sixth brightest star in the night sky (Bet. is 12th). It's a blue supergiant and is also at the end of its life.

I think my favorite fact about Orion is that you can see M42 (the Orion nebula) without the aid of a telescope. If you find Orion's belt, there are a few bright spots that appear to hang down from it; the middle one is M42. When I learned this at age 13 I thought this was so cool—and I've never gotten over that.

Finally, I just learned that the stars that make up Orion have been in this configuration for 1.5 million years and will likely be there for another 1-2 million years more. This makes it one of the longest observable constellations.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jury Duty

This week I'm doing my civic duty by showing up to jury duty. I've never been selected for a prospective jury pool, let alone an actual jury. When I arrived at the courthouse this morning it only took about an hour for them to call my group up to a courtroom and another hour of instructions and dismissals for them to call me and 23 other people to the jury box for voir dire. Rather than try to explain that one, just click the link.

I left after the first day thinking that I'd likely be on the jury. I was pretty excited actually. It was a criminal case with a very contentious issue involved and I was looking forward to seeing it all play out. Unfortunately for me, I was one of the first people to be excused the next day.

The process led me to think about our justice system in a way I've never had reason to before. I realized that it allows for both the defense and prosecution to find the jurors they think best suit the case, even if it takes a few days. The judge had said the trial would only last about two weeks—relatively short for a criminal case—but that had no effect on the efforts the attorneys made. I realized they would have tried that hard no matter what the case, and that was pretty reassuring. I don't plan on ever ending up in court, but it's nice to know the system would take care of me—at least during jury selection.

Have you ever served on a jury?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Speech - Part 2

My boss just sent me a link to a YouTube video that was made from footage shot on someone's iPhone last night. I'm in pretty much the entire thing, as most of the protesters were right around me. According to the video, 22 people were arrested, but it sure seemed like more than that. This video was uploaded by someone calling himself "ElectronicIntifada" and it is definitely not pro-Israel.

Free Speech

This is a contentious issue for many, but I've never been so overwhelmed by the implications of that two-word phrase as I was last night. As part of my internship, I attended a "conversation" between Ehud Olmert, the former Prime Minister of Israel, and our CEO Jane Wales. It was held in a fancy hotel ballroom in the middle of downtown San Francisco and general admission tickets were $35. Security was tight to get in, as one might imagine, and there were tons of police officers—both in uniform and plain-clothes—all around the hotel.

Just walking into the hotel was interesting, given the cops all over, the fact that both sides of the street had been barricaded, and the "Free Palestine" demonstrators across the street. When I got into the ballroom, however, everything seemed pretty calm. There were lots of people (about 400 tickets were sold) and they all seemed engaged and eager for the program to start.

However, as soon as Olmert was brought on stage (in the company of two bodyguards who remained on stage with him all evening), a dozen or so people started chanting things like "You're a murderer!" and "You should be in a jail not a ballroom!" and holding up Free Palestine banners and making speeches about how he's a war criminal. While it is true that he has been indicted by the Israeli government on three counts of corruption, they did not have anything to do with war crimes. The police acted swiftly, and removed the demonstrators, many of whom were literally sitting next to me.

Little naïve me thought that would be the end of it, but over the course of the next half hour, another 30 people (roughly) stood up and let their anti-Olmert feelings be known and were arrested, including one who had been sitting a few seats down from me who had to be dragged out of the row on his back and eventually carried out with one policeman holding his feet and the other his arms. Both Olmert and Jane Wales were very poised throughout the disruptions, often continuing to speak over the din. Occasionally Olmert would make comments about them, noting that eventually all of the protesters would be outside and then we could have a civil conversation. He also said that he thinks everyone has the right to free speech and finds it odd that the protesters seemed to think they should be able to talk and that he shouldn't.

The last 30 minutes of the program did go uninterrupted; however, I left feeling unsettled. I've never been somewhere where there was so much hate and vitriol in one room. I also left wondering if something else Olmert had said about the protesters was true: he'd said most of them were likely professional protesters who really didn't know what they were talking about. Certainly, most were non-Arab looking (most looked like your typically Bay Area extreme leftists), but maybe some of them were Palestinian, who knows?

If you're curious, you can read more about last night's events in an article from the San Jose Mercury News.