Category Archives: California

Global Warming Threat

The reclaimed lands are marked in pink.

Everyone who lives in or near San Francisco is very aware of the threat of global warming.  For example, if you talk to someone from Alameda, you realize that they definitely take the prospect of global warming and the rise of the sea seriously.  Alameda, on average, sits only 4 feet above sea level, and any rise of the bay/sea is going to be catastrophic for this historic village positioned on two islands in the bay.

The City of San Francisco also has reason to be alarmed about the sea level.  There are large portions of this city that were reclaimed from the bay.  The founding fathers often used parts of abandoned ships, sand from the tops of hills, and whatever they had in order to fill in the marshes, the inlets, and small creaks near the bay to make more usable land.  In the past, entrepeneurs paid very high prices for land that was actually covered by the bay.  They then would cheaply fill it in and make large profits selling off prime bay front property.  It’s amazing to look at the old maps and realize how much land was actually reclaimed and in use today.  For example, Mission Bay used to be a rather large bay, but now it is just the size of a small creek surrounded by mid-rise apartments/condos, AT&T Park, and the newly developed campus of UCSF.  As the sea level, and bay level, rise, these parts will once again be underwater unless something is done in the next 100 years.

At some point we have to take the blinders off our eyes and admit that global warming is real.  Imagine, there are still people, often brainwashed by their preachers or politicians, who say they don’t believe in global warming.  Is it really that hard to believe when we already see proof around the world of the effect of the polar ice caps melting?  Only when we are able to face this problem head on will we be able to formulate long-term solutions and save the land through the use of levees and dykes.  If they could do it in new Orleans they can do it in San Francisco, but now is the time for action.  Ignorance at times may be bliss, but in this instance it is short-sighted, ludicrous, and dangerous.


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Filed under California, San Francisco, San Francisco History, San Francisco Living, San Francisco Nature, Uncategorized

Macy’s 2011 Flower Show: San Francisco

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 6

Every year people flock to the Macy’s store in Union Square to view the real floral displays and breath in the wonderful scents.  To many, this is a ritual that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.  This year’s event occurred on March 27th – April 10th, and it included a Zen, rooftop, and enchanted garden.  In addition, the floral designers created a walk through the tropical rainforest.

If you missed this year’s event, don’t worry.  Just keep an eye out for it next year and welcome spring in with a San Francisco tradition that has been around for 65 years.

Happy Easter!


S.F. Macy's Flower Show 4

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 13

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 18

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 19

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 20

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Filed under California, San Francisco Entertainment, San Francisco Festivals, San Francisco Nature, San Francisco Pictures, San Francisco Tourist, West Coast

I Spy Waldo!

Where’s Waldo?

I took a holiday on Monday and decided to go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).  I could definitely do an entire post or two about that experience, but I will save the visit for a later time.  If you haven’t been, I would encourage you to go.

While I was walking across the sky bridge on the 5th floor and heading to the rooftop sculpture garden, I looked out a wall of windows and found Waldo standing among the air conditioning units on the top of a nearby building.  It reminds me of that quote by Oscar Wilde, “It is an odd thing, but every one who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco.”

San Francisco, I love your quirkiness.



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Filed under California, Entertainment, San Francisco Tourist, West Coast

Reflections on San Francisco

Let’s Go Giants, Let’s Go!

There has been talk in the news these days about how the quirkiness of San Francisco is actually shocking those who are either watching the Giants in the World Series or visiting our city in order to attend the games.  Part of me finds this amusing, yet part of it disturbs me a little.  It is true that San Francisco is a very liberal environment where freedom of expression is pretty much viewed as a God given right.  It is also true that you may see things here that disturb you at times.  You may have to think.  Isn’t it a good thing to get out of your comfort zone?  I have listed a few things you may find unsettling if you visit San Francisco:

1.  Homeless.  Yes, we do have a large number of homeless people.  It is part of the fabric of our city.    Many of them come from all over the United States because we have a milder climate and charitable people.  Some are down on their luck and can’t find employment in this economy, some have mental of physical disabilities that prevent them from keeping a job or even working through the piles of government paperwork required before they can get assistance, and some are addicted to drugs and alcohol.  Also, some are on the streets because of issues that I haven’t even listed here.  Please don’t judge our homeless; you could be there too someday with just a couple of bad business decisions or hard luck.  The homeless people are San Franciscans.  They live here, they eat here, and when they buy stuff they are also paying taxes here.  Many of the homeless have become expert recyclers.  They collect bags and bags of plastic and then sale them to recyclers driving pickups who take the bags to the centers.  The San Franciscans who are homeless are definitely doing their part in saving the environment. 

2.  Marijuana.  You may see people smoking marijuana out in the open.  If you don’t see it, you will probably smell it if you spend a few nights walking through the city.  The police will not do much about this, so don’t expect it. I’m just making you aware that it is very possible you might see or smell this drug being used if you visit San Francisco.

3.  Costumes.  It is not uncommon to see people in costume no matter what time of year.  They might be heading to a party, or they may just want to have a personal dress up day just for themselves.  It may be shocking to see Darth Vader walk down the sidewalk or a vampire, but just ask yourself why does it matter to you?  Are they really doing any harm?

4.  Nudity.  Honestly,  I saw a lot more nudity when I lived in Portland than I have ever seen in San Francisco.  For the most part, you won’t see naked people if you visit San Francisco.  These occurences are usually more limited to specific events like Folsom Street Fair, Gay Pride, or the Bay to Breakers race.

5.  Homosexuals.  Ok, yes, you will see a lot of gay people.  They may be holding hands, kissing, or sitting in a restaurant with their arms around each other.  This may shock you, but is it hurting anyone?  Whether you approve or not, this shouldn’t affect your visit to the city.  Please don’t glare or stare.  This is one of the few places in the United States where gay people can be themselves without worrying about being beat up, killed, having their house burned, or losing their job.  This may sound over dramatic, but if you read the newspapers all of these things are possible in other parts of the country.

6.  Drag Queens.  Some drag queens are transgendered and this is how they feel most comfortable presenting themselves to the world, and some do it for fun.  Some do it for charitable causes.  Whatever the reason, it can be a little shocking when you first come in contact with a cross-dresser, but please be respectful.  What does it prove to call someone names or glare?  Unless you like to chip away at other people’s self-esteem, I think demeaning anyone is fruitless.  Keep in mind that most cross-dressing men are actually heterosexuals.  How many male bosses have you had or even friends that may be wearing panties under those masculine jeans?

7.  High Real Estate Prices.  I admit, these are truly scary.  OMG!  When going on a camp out instead of reading ghost stories to scare your friends, just bring a copy of the San Francisco real estate guide.  They will wake up in a cold sweat screaming at the top of their lungs.  We are one of the most expensive markets, just behind Manhattan, N.Y.  Why are prices so high?  Because people want to live here.  It is a beautiful place to live and a nice way of life.

8.  Public Peeing.  The other day at two different times I saw people peeing against a building.  Why does this seem to happen so much?  There are very few public restrooms in the city, and some restaurants don’t have public bathrooms.  I’m still a little shocked when I see it, but I’m not going to judge them.  We could all be in that same position just because we drank that extra glass of tea at lunch.  As I said, there are very few public restrooms in this city.  

I’m not saying that it is always easy living or visiting here.  Parking is an Olympic event, cabs can be non-existent when you need them, wait time to get into a restaurant can be exhausting, and it may feel like there are people everywhere.  Sometimes this city can kick your butt and make you want to throw up your hands and run back to the Midwest with your tale between your leg.  It’s true.  It happens.  But it is at this point that you go to a cool play or join a quirky new group.  You experience a great evening with friends eating a phenomenal meal at one of the incredible restaurants in town.  You walk on the beach or stroll through Golden Gate Park.  You take a hike to Twin Peaks and look over the city toward the bay and turn around and look over the city to the beach.  You just take a deep breath and count your blessings.

This is a great city, and there is no place quite like it in America.  It is a liberal city where people can be themselves and do what they want to do without apologies to society as a whole.  It is a place of fun, frolic, imagination, and knowledge.

It is ok to be a little shocked by us.  Sometimes I’m still a little shocked too.  But don’t judge us harshly, instead just relax and enjoy this quirky little city that so many call home.




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Filed under California, Human Nature, San Francisco, San Francisco Tourist

Historical Saturday – The Ferry Building

San Francisco’s Ferry Building
The Giralda Bell Tower – Seville, Spain

The Ferry Building, built in 1989, was designed by A. Page Brown, a young architect who was tragically thrown from a horse just a few weeks after being contracted to design the Ferry Building.  He soon passed away, but his vision of the Ferry Building lives on because most of the plans were complete before his youthful demise.  He was only 34.

A. Page Brown was a well traveled young man who designed the Ferry Building with classical features that mirror the roman aqueduct or the Corinthian columns.  His inspiration was the Giralda Bell Tower at a cathedral in Spain.   I have included pictures of both above.  Can you see the similarities?

Amazingly, even though the Fairy Building is built on “made land,” it survived the 1906 earthquake and fire.  The main reason for it’s miraculous escape from destruction was that the U.S. Navy and city fireboats maintained a spray of saltwater on the building which was pumped from the bay.  Well, there is another question of mine answered.  Is the bay saltwater or freshwater?  Now I know.  They did this so that people could escape the burning city by ferry, and rescue workers could also bring in supplies and coordinate relief efforts from the building.

Today it is a mixed use building with offices and retail space.  On Saturday mornings it is surrounded by a large farmer’s market where you can get everything from fresh lavender to home grown beef.  It is a city landmark that can be seen from the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island.  As you stroll along Market Street, it looms ahead as a promise to the preservation of the past.  It is one of the things that says you are home.  You are in San Francisco.



Note:  Information for this post came form the book Historic Walks in San Francisco, by Rand    Richard.  It is a great read.

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Filed under California, Historical Saturdays, San Francisco Tourist

You Don’t Say…..

  • Did you know that Meg Whitman has spent a total of $142 million of her own money on her campaign to become California’s next governor and is still trailing behind Jerry Brown?  (SF Gate)  
  •  After 31 years, the annual San Francisco Erotic Ball was canceled due to low ticket sales. (SF Gate)
  •  The official Vatican newspaper has declared that Homer Simpson and his family are Catholic. (CNN)

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Filed under California, gossip, Human Nature

Historical Saturdays: S.F. Cliff House History


The history of the Cliff House is both incredible and tragic. As I watch this video, I am reminded of what I heard a speaker say one time. He said, “There are no material things in your life that can’t be taken from you in a matter of minutes by a match or a natural disaster.” I think it puts everything into perspective.  

One thing I love about this video is the fashion of the time.  The Victorians sure knew how to cover everything up with layers and layers of fabric.

I hope you enjoy this post.  I think I will make Saturday’s posts historical in nature, and particularly focused on San Francisco history.  



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Filed under California, Historical Saturdays, San Francisco Tourist

California’s Gubernatorial Race

I have to admit, I’m a little ashamed of this year’s race for governor. Mainly, I am just shocked at how Meg Whitman is spending money on her campaign. According to today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Meg Whitman has spent nearly $100 million of her own money to get elected to the highest seat in California. Keep in mind, this comes at a time when teachers and policemen are being laid off across the state. In fact, Oakland recently announced they were going to lay off 80 police officers.

Now I know that Meg, former CEO of E-bay, has more money than God (net worth exceeds $1 billion), but this flagrant display of wealth and excess seems almost sinful when our homeless shelters are working at capacity and soup kitchens are trying to keep up with the demand.

It doesn’t matter if you are Republican or Democrat, I would hope that everyone could agree that Meg Whitman is going overboard on her campaign. It does not come as a surprise that people across the state are starting to call her Queen Meg and say she is buying her way into politics.

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Filed under California, Politics

Earthquake/Fire, 1906

I’ve been reading about the San Francisco’s earthquake and fire in 1906. The earthquake was about an 8.0 and it occurred at 5:12 a.m. on April 18th. The quake did an extreme amount of damage, but the fires that followed the quake are what devastated the city. These fires started for many reasons, but recently I was shocked to find out that the fire department and the homeowners were to blame for a great deal of the destruction.

With the fire chief having died in the quake, the “stand in” chief decided to use dynamite to make fire breaks throughout the city. This not only destroyed many buildings, but it also sparked many fires. Honestly, they did the best they could in that situation. I wonder if things would have been different if the fire chief had lived through the quake.

Another surprising thing is that the homeowners started fires in their own houses. Many of the residents of San Francisco did not have earthquake insurance, so word got around quickly that unless the structure is destroyed by fire, the insurance would not pay for the repairs. In order to get help for repairs, homeowners started their houses on fire which contributed to the inferno that destroyed San Francisco.

Could this happen today? Yes! I doubt that they will use dynamite again, but homeowners setting fire to their property is definitely a possibility. According to the California Earthquake Authority, only 12 percent of people in California have earthquake insurance. In San Francisco, a large majority (80 to 90 percent of the buildings) do not have earthquake insurance. Because of the expense of this type of insurance, most people instead pay for retrofits for their homes and pray the reinforcement will work. Just like in 1906, everyone has fire insurance, but few have earthquake insurance.

I think we are setting ourselves up for another fire storm when catastrophe strikes again in the San Francisco area. But, I can’t really dwell on that. In fact, I tell myself that it won’t happen while I am here. Is this delusional or just a way to cope with a possible threat that I have no control over? If it does happen, I am convinced that I will be the Molly Brown of San Francisco.

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Filed under California, San Francisco, West Coast

Working from Home

When I moved to the West Coast, I was immediately introduced to a delightful concept called “working from home.” It is amazing how many people do this on a regular basis. Some people work from their house, while others go to coffee shops, libraries, the park, etc. More and more co-working spaces are sprouting up all over San Francisco as people want an office environment closer to home.

When I got my job (29 mile commute across the Bay Bridge to the East Bay), I negotiated with them the ability to work from home from time to time. Working from home has taught me the following things:

* More time. To drive to Contra Costa County and back takes a minimum of 2 hours a day and can take up to 3 hours depending on traffic. Yes, it is only 29 miles, but I have to cross the Bay Bridge and go through Caldecott Tunnel.

* Saves money. On top of gas (Toyota Tundra), I also have to pay $6 each day to get across the Bay Bridge and back into the city. I figure I save around $18 a day by working from home.

* Efficient. I get more work done when I work from home. Every day a portion of my day is spent socializing with volunteers and staff. This is actually part of my job. When I work from home, I can just focus on paperwork, stats, mailings, returning phone calls, etc.

* Relaxing. At the end of the day when I shut my laptop, I do not face a grueling commute home. It is a stress free day.

* Contact. I do stay in close contact with the office. They can call me, text me, e-mail me, etc. I have several different ways that they can get in touch with me in an emergency. Recently, I was working from home and they needed something done quickly. With the help of my trusty laptop, the phone, and a good Internet connection, I got the task done with time to spare. Who needs an office?

* Work Space. My favorite work spaces are coffee shops like Sugar Lump Coffee Lounge in Outer Mission or Jumpin Java in Castro. One space that I frequent a lot is Panera Bread in SOMA.

Working from home is a wonderful gift that employers can give to their employees. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but it feels great to do it occasionally. I think it makes for a happier and more productive work force.

Now if you would excuse me, I have a report to work on that I will present at a meeting next week. Before I start, I should probably order another Panera Bread bagel and refill my tea.

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Filed under California, Human Nature, Oregon, San Francisco, West Coast