Why the Rich Live in the Hills

Obviously it’s a rhetorical question since the hills generally offer the best views, freshest air, and (often) greatest safety.

Rather than launch into a screed regarding scarcity of resources, I’ll reveal another not-so-hidden secret to San Francisco. Our abundance of hills opens these benefits to the masses. All it takes is a willingness to climb or a SF MUNI pass. Moreover, you generally don’t have to go very far to find a sudden view. The ones to my left and right are only just outside my apartment door. Remember too, I can focus my camera to catch particular aspects of the picture. However, my eyes benefits from the whole shot.

Or I can take a few more steps up a short hill to find pictures of Sutro Tower. It’s an icon for locals and our communication venue. Someone once pointed out it looks like a clipper ship if you get underneath it (especially on a foggy night).

Still if you want the best views, it’s best to make the effort to climb some higher hills. When my health improves I’ll cast the proverbial wider net. In the meantime, I’ll cheat and stick to local venues like UCSF (one of the great teaching medical centers in the country if not the world).From my house, I can walk up the back entrance to both its buildings and gardens.

 UCSF’s  location on the semi-steep hills of Parnassus Ave provides stunning views of the   Golden Gate Park, the Bay, and various local neighborhoods. Most people tend to avoid it, however, because it’s a cold, foggy, wind-tunnel. Eh it’s why us Sunset Natives love it (after all conditioning makes us curdle at sight of sun or is it we are vampires :)) It’s part of why – sadly – many of its practitioners are fleeing out to Mission Bay‘s better weather. Of course it probably has something to do with earthquakes as well. 

 

 

 

Given my obsession with buildings, I appreciate what great views it provides of Golden Gate Heights and the Sunset. Though I can’t help but think of another native’s friendly gibe at me years ago. No matter how much some of us (e.g. me) may seek to flee the Church, we always tend to live within the sound of church bells. The pink imposing building in the lower picture is St. Anne’s Catholic Church and School (nope, not my alma mater). Nor does it skimp on views of the beautiful Craftsmen Houses in the area.

 

Paying Homage to Designers, Including the Inner Ones

Social Graphic Designer
Social Graphic Designer (Photo credit: Filimonas)

I whiled away the last hour or more on blog design. Confident a new theme, color scheme, or header picture would magically transform my blog into a high-end magazine knockoff, I grew frustrated as reality intruded. Namely, no quick set of clicks could suddenly elevate my work to match professionals. After all they poured years of sweat into learning their various trades, developing a host of innate talents, and acquiring multiple influences to inspire them.

In the past my Attention Deficit Disorder (“ADD”) inspired ineptitude would result in me tossing my hands up in despair and walking away from a host of creative projects.Day 15--Frustration My mom on seeing the “look” would tease “out, oh better let the Wookie win.” My longtime ex-partner – her already too small house littered with my failed projects – more accurately described me as lacking discipline. My ex (a gifted musician) knew with practice comes, if not perfection, at least competence. Inside I saw only a fulminating frustration destroying another set of dreams. Fortunately I have inattentive ADD so I could quickly let it go after my initial outburst. Unfortunately, this  ADD type made me forget to pick up after myself (gulp; remember I said “ex.”🙂

Our computers II
Our computers II (Photo credit: aranarth)

Then I discovered – relatively late in life – the virtual world of computers. Here I could save documents without running out of space, redesign pages without tearing them up with erasures, and manipulate hosts of objects without censure. Once again my childhood dreams of world domination resurfaced – if you follow this blog, you will see these dreams reappear on an almost weekly basis. :). Suddenly I could physically create documents resembling my inner designs. This greatly aided every job I went onto hold, whether complex or mundane, paid or unpaid. Moreover, I more easily tracked things, which previously  disappeared along with the paper scraps holding them.

Fortunately designers of all stripes helped  me to plunge feet first into this world. Each year designers made computers ridiculously easier to use and more  beautiful to view. (I have the bills to prove it.) College English professors hammered the need for structure,balance, and variety from the simplest sentences to the most complex paragraphs. (Building on the foundation the nuns laid – albeit heavy handedly – when I was a child.) Gifted designers like Robin Williams shared secrets in books like “The Non-Designers Design Book.”  (Classically boiling down the great principles  Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity to the easily remembered CRAP.)Magic Lessons

Communication
Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

Despite the wide variety of fields represented, all emphasized Communication. More significantly each placed the responsibility on the writer, not the reader for understanding the message. However unlike my punitive inner self flailing in frustration, each provided  methodologies and tools making it possible. Much like WordPress created an army of bloggers, these folks birthed design for the masses. Still much like a CPR class won’t turn us into heart surgeons, none of us will replace a truly gifted designer. It’s okay; the CPR class might get you to the heart surgeon, and a WordPress blog may carry your Little League team through a season.

Of course, it also means once again my ex was right. Sigh. Yet another lesson learned too late. Or maybe just learned later. Until the end, none of us can know whether something is “too late” or “just later.”Also some of us can only learn the hard way. Or ultimately my rationalization skills improved.exWives Club

Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop a Drink

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/12/4715318/who-carries-their-waterwelcome.html

Dan Morain Exposes Poisoned Water – The Sacramento Bee

Well
Well (Photo credit: echiner1)

Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee reports on the plight of those living near tainted wells in Central California. Folks there cannot (or should not) drink the tap water, open their mouths while showering, or cook with the water. Why? Tests have proven almost all the wells carry one or more toxins.Thus many residents must drive to Fresno to buy jugs of clean water. Ironically most  are  Latino farmworkers who gather the crops helping to poison these wells.

English: mexican farmworkers
English: mexican farmworkers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Morain rightly criticizes government officials and wealthy environmentalists for failing to act. Governments pass the buck (but not the money) between local and state governments.  Large agribusiness fear litigation so ferociously lobby against the few legislative efforts. Out-of-Area Environmentalists focus on replenishing entertainment areas like the Bay and Delta, or funding Third World countries‘ efforts to purify their water. In the interim, grinding poverty prevents Central Valley residents from leaving.

Many residents rightly fear developing current and future diseases. One mother even reported one of her children developing mouth cysts.

Of course as Morain rightly admits none of this is “new.”  As such most readers will just skim the story as they search for an update on the latest celebrity hookup. This indifference always blows me away since we all live together. We really have no reason to believe diseases developing from long term exposure to dangerous toxins (including soil fumigant DBCP banned since the 1970s) won’t spread like past epidemics. Photo of polio patients in iron lungs during 1...

Color Splashing on a Sunny Day

 

San Francisco now enters our most glorious weather period of the year. End of summer and early fall represent our warmest and clearest months. It brings clear blue skies (minus the fog), toasty warm days (upper seventies), and explosions of people on the street. Only the kids forced back to school as summer actually starts and sweatshirt vendors unable to clothe tourists in tacky memorabilia get upset. Everyone else throws on what passes for summer gear and heads out the door.

This past week I wandered through the Tenderloin in search of color and found small gardens dotting the landscape. Among my favorites was a riotous gathering of colorful flowers guarding the entrance to a rest home.  Granted flowers were unlikely drought resistent nor did the garden make space for veggies (all important considerations. But its jumbled beauty brought smiles to walkers passing on the street.

Other parts of the garden appeared “organized” but are no less lovely in their color burst

In contrast, City maintained parks line up in cool geometric patters to maximize space. However, none skimp on color or texture.

Sometimes also plants just randomly shoot up on their own on City Property (how appropriate it’s a lovely purple flowering plant).

Sometimes too it’s just a colorful tree on a median joining those near it to grab the maximum sun and attention.

Nor should I neglect the federal government, which has added a lovely garden of metal and flowers to its Golden Gate Courthouse.

 

A Neighborhood That So Loves Its Children

Contrary to popular belief, San Franciscans like kids. We may not favor sharing SF MUNI space with strollers the size of mini-hummers. Nor do we possess wide swaths of land for expansive malls filled with mega theaters. However, just about every school based bond wins wide support. We book our recreation centers and public parks with back to back soccer and baseball games. Our cultural institutions open their doors for free on multiple days and sponsor youth oriented events.

This community concern and parental passion reaches it zenith, however, in the Tenderloin. There hard-working immigrant communities coexist with the hardcore homeless grappling with mental illness and/or substance abuse. In the Loin too often syringes litter the streets, urine permeates the air, and feces (from assorted mammals) turn sidewalks into hopscotch games. Much of this gets hidden from non-walkers by towering edifices paying homage to monumental egos. 

Despite these obstacles, a quick look will turn up the some of the most vibrant and involved educational programs in the City both during and after school hours.

Volunteer organizations run day recreational programs, tutor students who often arrive not speaking  English, and provide safe after school programs. Other groups provide financial support to these and other programs.

 

 

 

 

A clear example occurred last Thursday when a daytime showing of the Olympics headlined a community fair set up with free kid sized entertainment. Happiness both on the kids and the parents faces shone through the pictures (probably same expression appeared on faces hundreds of years ago in medieval times during Maypole Celebrations). ‘

All the pictures  speak for themselves.

However, pay attention to a few things. One, its unclear if the pirate flag or the kids frightened the dragons more (regardless expressions on this arcade ride are priceless).

Two, the giant slide attracted the most users, but note the differing responses on the three children’s faces (joy, surprise, and fear).

Build Strong, Healthy Bones — Article from IVillage

Skeleton
Skeleton (Photo credit: dimitrij)

http://m.ivillage.com/build-strong-healthy-bones-it-s-never-too-early-start/4-b-477224?nlcid=td|08-08-2012 Some sensible and easy to start ways to increase bone strength. Weak ankles make me pay more attention. But it could affect anyone as we all start living longer.

Yes IVillage runs a lot of ads. However generally it offers sound advice based on diet and exercise. I highly recommend it (now if only I would “listen” to(follow)  it)

Lighten Up Girlfriend (Guardian)

Sheesh. We turn our back for a minute – remember we live and die with the SF Giants – only to find she skidded off again to “deep thoughts.”  Talk about ruining a good time. She’s even talking politics again. While she glumly sorts through another spot of Vertigo (no, not the cool Hitchcock movie she always been too scared to watch), let’s clean this up.

Where’s our blog, you (and us) may well ask. Hmmphhh. Still negotiating. She tried to buy Buddy off with the red hat. Like one hat could ever be enough. Besides wait and see what we do to it during tomorrow’s St. Louis Cardinal‘s game.

We keep telling her sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll sells. Hell, we will settle for cute kitten or puppy pictures. Anything to lure a second (and less stingy) mommy in here. (Ooops, did we say mommy? Don’t get too excited, you will have to earn it to move beyond Guardian status.)

So we sorted through some of her remaining shots and grabbed the following.

 

Let’s start with a splash of color (at least she’s starting to pay attention to street items):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She even tried some weird angles (yes artsy technique needs lots of work but lets encourage her — though she probably could find a way to even make this political; shudder):