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Same Store, New Location

For years, this blog has been hosted on Typepad. The virtue of publishing it there has been I could pretty much write my text and slap my pictures into a post editor, hit a button, and forget about everything. The service has always worked reasonably well and in recent years seems to have had far fewer of the outages and hiccups that once afflicted it.

And I’m not sure why I’m going away from it now, except for the monthly bill of 13 dollars and something. Do I  really need to spend that money, or could I do better?  Especially when I, like so many people, have moved to other platforms for sharing our favorite links, insights, bons mots and car-crash videos. I’ve thought about going to WordPress, and today and tonight, that’s what’s happened. I opened a web hosting account, installed WordPress there, and am in the process of importing my Typepad files there.

And speaking of those files: I am hardly the most prolific of diarists or bloggers, but the posts go back to November 2003, and there are 2,600 of them, along with 3,600 comments. If nothing else, a pretty significant chunk of history. For a while, anyway, I plan to keep it going. Maybe this will just be an archive, or maybe I’ll figure out some other direction to take this long, long project.

Thanks for still reading.

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Embarcadero Pedicab

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Short version of this post: A very cool pedicab driver gave me a free ride a couple weeks ago, and I want to say “thanks again.” I’m also including a pretty picture of the Ferry Building taken on another night altogether, because I like it.

Longer version: Most Fridays, I try to end the work week by walking from my office in Public Radio World, located on the west side of Potrero Hill in San Francisco, over to the Ferry Building, at the foot of Market Street on the Embarcadero, to catch the last boat of the night to Oakland. The favored route is across the summit or upper northern slope of the hill and over to Third Street, then north past AT&T Park and up the waterfront to the ferry. But since it’s a walk with a deadline–the boat has a schedule, and it leaves on time–the route can be adjusted if I’m getting out of the office a little late. I’ve developed a nice zig-zag route across South of Market with what I fancy to be shortcuts through alleys and parking lots. The longest version of the route might be four and a half miles, the shortest is just 100 yards or so under three miles, and the version I usually take is four miles, a distance I can reliably cover in about 55 minutes.

Of course, another variable I can change is speed. I like to stop and take pictures along the way, but I’ll keep that to a minimum if I haven’t left myself a lot of time. Or I can run part of the way. As fun as that sounds, I’m not fond of it because I’ve turned what started out as a relaxing stroll and turns it into a race and I have occasionally wound up at the boat with zero seconds to spare (the captain saw me running up to the dock once and waited for me) and soaked with sweat.

A couple of weeks ago, I had left the office a little late and knew I would be cutting it close. Still, it was a gorgeous evening and I really wanted to go over the hill, longer than the shortest route across town. I can sort of gauge my time and how much I have to hurry by my arrival at the ballpark. When I got there on this evening, I knew I’d have to hustle. So I alternated jogging and walking with backpack and camera up the Embarcadero. About half a mile or so from the ferry, heading to a sweaty finish, I saw three guys who’d just come out of a bar talking to one of the pedicab drivers who work the waterfront. I jogged past. A minute later, the pedicab guy was pulling up alongside me.

“Sir, you look like in kind of a hurry,” he said. “Yeah, yeah,” I said. “Where are you going?” “Just up to the Ferry Building.” I would have liked to have jumped aboard. “You know, I don’t have a dime on me,” I said. “Well, just let me give you a ride,” the driver said. “I’d like to do something nice for you.” So I got in.

The driver’s name was Bill Cummings, and he rides and manages the shop for Cabrio Taxi. He told me he’s had the pedicab gig for two and a half years, and the business has been good enough to him that it’s his only job. Tourists going up to Pier 39, the Alcatraz Ferry, and Fisherman’s Wharf make up a lot of his business, as do people going to and from the ballpark. The Embarcadero bike lanes and weekend traffic congestion around the tourist spots means he can get back and forth faster than people in cars or on public transit. On the other hand, the three guys I saw him talking to before he picked me up were going out to 19th and Mission, several miles into the a heavily driven part of the city–not a terribly safe or attractive trip just as it was getting dark. I had noticed he had the look of a competitive cyclist, and I asked him whether he raced. He said he does Ironman-length triathlons (140.6 events, to the cognoscenti) and that he was in training for one–in New York state, I think.

When we got to the Ferry Building, I offered to go inside to an ATM and pay him. He said no, he really just wanted to do something nice, and it was something he tried to do every day. OK, then. Something nice done, and noted. And below is Bill’s card.

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Berkeley Sidewalk Apiary: Moving Picture Edition

A one-minute (or so) video I shot of the bees pictured below. Bonus feature: It's a talkie.

 

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Streetcorner Interlude

Walking to work early this afternoon, east on 16th. At Harrison the light is green. A white pickup makes a left turn as a fixed-gear rider comes down the hill toward the intersection. No problem–the fixie guy slows himself down and eases past the truck. I’m halfway through the crossing now, and I hear a voice, a male voice, say, “What a beautiful day!” It is. It’s cloudless and blue, sunwashed. The man who says this looks at me from behind the wheel of a blue Corolla.”Beautiful!” He repeats. “I can’t believe it.”

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The Long Plunge to Greatness

Oakland Mayor
Ron Dellums gave his State of the City talk last night. He says he's confident that his term–regarded by many spectators as an era of continuing police department scandals, continuing economic problems, continuing high crime rates, and continuing malfeasance among some high-paid public officials–will be remembered "as the period when
Oakland laid the 
foundation for success." He further opined, "We're on the
precipice of the greatest period in
Oakland's history." Mr. Mayor: might want to look up "precipice" again.

Help (Thanks to my KQED compatriot Nina for the image idea.)

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Walk-to-Work Haiku

Plum blossoms scatter,
A dog-leaving, a bum, and me–
Poignant winter scene.

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Journal of Self-Promotion: Salmon Edition

The big project for the last three weeks has been my first radio feature–on Northern California’s coho salmon populations nearing extinction. The story involved lots of driving–too much for someone doing a story that in many ways is about the larger state of our environment. And it involved lots of anxiety over whether I could sort through all the “tape” (I actually used a flash recorder) and manage to tell a coherent story that reflects the complexity of the subject. Overall, I’m happy with the way it came out. The audio to the story is embedded below, and here are a couple other story links for good measure:

KQED’s Quest: Saving California’s Coho Salmon:
Quest blog: Rewriting the coho’s story


QUEST on KQED Public Media.

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Last of That, First of This

So: The old year ended in Fair Oaks, California, east of Sacramento, among some very old friends (and some newer friends and acquaintances) reading pomes and other literary fare. There may even be a video of me reciting "The Mountain Whip-Poor-Will." Then everyone else went home, and we went to spend the night in a motel.

This year started a little rainy and with a stroll around an office park in Rancho Cordova to give The Dog his first morning walk of the New Year. The office park–sprawling, green, and empty-looking. Probably plenty of business there on a non-holiday, but also lots of empty buildings and signs advertising available space.

And then later, home to a bowl game or so. We only had a rooting interest in one team: Oregon over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. That didn't turn out the way we'd hoped. In fact, it seemed like a typical ingredient for New Year's Day, which has always felt a little flat to me. Not hung-over flat. Just a day on which the celebration has always seemed a little forced, and the celebrators a little spent and maybe looking ahead to the winter that still remains and the resumption of all the responsibilities that have been put on hold for the holidays.

But aside from the football game, the long hours we spent with people today–our son Thom, his most excellent friend Elle and her folks, then later with our neighbors the Martinuccis–were warm and satisfying and very calorie-filled. And in fact I came out of the day with one firm determination for the years to come: from now on, I'm calling our 21st century years "twenty-whatever," where "whatever" is a component of an actual or expected year. I look forward to being so decisive and productive tomorrow.

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All Star Hotel

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On 16th Street near Folsom in the northeastern corner of the Mission. I walk by the place at least two or three times a week. The setting says “dive,” but it’s surprisingly un-divey-looking from the outside. On the strength of two reviews, TripAdvisor.com ranks it 179th out of 248 hotels in the city. Room rate quoted in one of those reviews: $150. A week. Here’s a 2004 piece on the hotel from the alternative online news site BeyondChron.com.

(When I took the picture, a guy on the sidewalk said, “You with the movies?” I didn’t I’d heard him correctly and asked him to repeat what he’d said.

“You making a movie?”

“No, I just liked how that doorway looks.”

“If you’re making a movie, I want to be in it.”

“OK–I’ll be back when I’m making one.” We both laughed. )

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Warning

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Seen today, posted in several locations near 16th and Mission streets in San Francisco. Several people who saw me looking at the poster stopped, took in the picture, and expressed dismay. Words to the effect of “that’s terrible!” Unknown to me is whether this is street art or a real warning or some of both. (Now to bed: I’ve got to get up in four hours to go out to the Bay Bridge construction site tomorrow to help in KQED’s coverage of the weekend closure.)

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