San Francisco

Seeing Colors

I was out on a walk with a friend in a tony part of town when we happened upon a store of note. The first thing I noticed was how diverse the store attendants were or put in a less delicate manner - I noticed that the store attendants were Black. This was immediately noticeable to me because (1) I am Brown and (2) I am very aware that this tony part of town has few, if any, Black inhabitants, much less storekeepers.

After leaving the store, I remarked to my White friend that the store attendants were a surprise in that part of town.  My White friend remarked, "I didn't notice" in a tone that I often hear when people say "I don't see color."

At that point, I seriously considered knocking her upside her head, but instead I settled for the increasing disappointment I feel with many White friends. I am more and more aware that I can't have an honest conversation with them about a topic that is not only important to me, but also one I live every day: race.

I was having difficulty articulating my dissatisfaction and unease with this "I don't see color" sentiment, and then I hit on this quote (emphasis mine):

"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;' who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a 'more convenient season.'

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Dark Side of Cupcakes

While “cupcake shops can provide a more accurate and timely guide to the frontiers of urban gentrification than traditional demographic and real estate data sets” according to Rutgers Urban Policy lecturer Dr. Kathe Newman, the stark reality is that transitional neighborhoods are just that - transitional. That's what Dayna Al-Saleh points out with this mapping of cupcakes against gang territory in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco.

Mission: Gangs and Cupcakes, by Danya Al-Saleh

Pillow Fight

After a few weeks with a tweaked neck I decided that my down pillows were letting me, well...down. So I began researching my pillow options. I was lured by the title of the store into Relax the Back on Van Ness. They carried Tempur-Pedic pillows. I tried out several on a bed. I asked various questions of the salesperson, who was helpful. But I failed to ask the most important question.

I purchased a medium Tempur-Pedic neck pillow. Like most pillows it was non-returnable, but very expensive, exceeding $100. Still, I was excited by the prospect of a good night's sleep. And then it hit me, the horrible smell I encountered upon unwrapping the pillow at home.

The chemical smell filled my small San Francisco apartment. I realized, horrified, my pillow was off-gassing. None of my online research on pillows had turned up off-gassing as a possible concern. But this stink was strong and I am not someone who has sensitivities. I don't even have allergies.

The smell of this pillow was so bad I haven't been able to actually use the pillow. I've washed the cover and have aired the pillow out next to an open window for going on three weeks now and still the pillow stinks.

Actually the whole deal stinks. I was pretty appalled that the store salesperson didn't mention the possibility. But from subsequent research it seems I'm not the only one who has discovered all this the hard way.

So what should you look for? Look for a certification by Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and Global Organic Textile Standard cotton.

Single in San Francisco

I definitely related to this good (albeit lengthy) article in The Atlantic. It is a special experience being single past the age of 35, but it doesn't have to be hell. There's a lot packed in the article (lots of academic theories on whether or not the marital landscape is shifting) so I'll highlight what resonated for me:

"I definitely noticed an increase in my own contentment when I began to develop and pay more attention to friendships with women who, like me, have never been married. Their worldviews feel relaxingly familiar, and give me the space to sort through my own ambivalence. That’s an abstract benefit. More concretely, there’s what my brother terms our 'immigrant bucket brigade'—my peer group’s habit of jumping to the ready to help each other with matters practical and emotional. This isn’t to say that my married friends aren’t as supportive—some of my best friends are married!—it’s just that, with families of their own, they can’t be as available."

Book Lovers Unite!

I haven't succumbed to the technical gadgets for reading - yet. I know I have an old fashioned streak, but there is just no substitute in my mind for a book. This New York Times article reminded me I'm in the right place - San Francisco: "where the average annual per capita expenditure on books is perennially among the highest in the nation. Same goes for booze — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, San Francisco is the only city that ranks in the top three for both (New York is ninth by both measures). Hence all the readings in bars."

Links mentioned in the article worth perusing:

SFStation Literary Arts


The Rumpus


Mechanics Institute Library

The Kings of Pastry

Tablehopper refers to it as "The Culinary Hurt Locker." It's the new movie, The Kings of Pastry. It's about chefs competing for the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF), France’s highest pastry honor. It opened tonight at the Balboa Theater in San Francisco. Sweet!

Fear the Beard

Fabulous Parade today for the World Series Champs: The San Francisco Giants. The turn out was huge and some folks found the best places:

Others just focused on looking good (I don't know this guy):

Of course there was advertising:

We did get to see ball players:

And they reminded us what it's all about:

Catching Air

Decided to check out House of Air in San Francisco tonight with my friend Jen. When I arrived, it was a bit rag tag. No customer service to speak of and a lot of computer print out signs on the walls to read. There was also a crazy liability waiver. I know, I know - I'm the only one who reads these things, but here's why I thought it was crazy. Clause 11: Photo Release. If you don't read the waiver you don't realize that by signing it you agree that any pictures they may take of you they can use in their marketing materials, website, etc. without your permission. I didn't think they'd want pics of me, but I still found it strange to find this in a Release of Risk form. So for my $14 hour reservation I was given some site specific shoes and offered a helmet. Then the instructions were, "Just jump." And so we did. I jumped for close to 40 minutes straight and I sweated out a lake. It was so cool to be airborne. At one point I said to Jen, "Don't you wish we could go through life like this, just bouncing?" She gave me a look. I jumped and did the splits in the air.

It was cool. I think this place will be packed when winter rolls through which is why you probably want to go now. There was hardly anybody there which meant plenty of space to jump.