Towse: views from the hill

November 26, 2007

TechShop: Build Your Dreams Here

Filed under: design,life — Tags: , — Towse @ 11:52 pm

His nibs went down to Palo Alto today to help MHP get some “stuff” out of his basement and delivered to TechShop in Menlo Park, a Maker’s dreamland, a burner’s heaven.

Never heard of TechShop?

TechShop is a fully-equipped open-access workshop and creative environment that lets you drop in any time and work on your own projects at your own pace. It is like a health club with tools and equipment instead of exercise equipment…or a Kinko’s for geeks.

TechShop was founded in 2006 by Jim Newton, a lifetime maker, veteran BattleBots builder and former MythBuster.

TechShop is located in Menlo Park, California, on the San Francisco peninsula 25 miles south of San Francisco.
Anyone can come in and build and make all kinds of things themselves using the TechShop tools, machines and equipment, and draw on the TechShop instructors and experts to help them with their projects. TechShop is designed for everyone, regardless of their skill level. TechShop is perfect for inventors, “makers”, hackers, tinkerers, artists, roboteers, families, entrepreneurs, youth groups, FIRST robotic teams, arts and crafts enthusiasts, and anyone else who wants to be able to make things that they dream up but don’t have the tools, space or skills.

If this sounds like your piece of heaven, TechShop is open 9A->midnight, seven days a week.

Cost: Daily pass:$30 Monthly pass:$100 Annual pass:$1200 (except they’re having a sale just now.) The Annual and Monthly passes allow you to reserve time on specific pieces of equipment. The Annual pass allows you to reserve equipment up to two weeks in advance. The Monthly pass allows you to reserve equipment up to a day in advance. If you buy a multiple-months pass, you can reserve equipment for multiple days in advance. e.g. If you buy a five-month pass, you can reserve equipment up to five days in advance. If you buy a seven-month pass, you can reserve equipment up to seven days in advance.

TechShop gives classes on how to use the equipment. Some pieces of equipment =require= you to take a class before you are allowed to use the equipment.

Check it out.

November 24, 2007

Full moon tomorrow

Filed under: photographs,San Francisco — Towse @ 1:12 am


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The not-quite-full moon rising over Berkeley. The setting sun reflecting on the windows in the East Bay. The Admin building on Treasure Island in deepening shadow. The Vallejo Larkspur ferry heading up to Vallejo Larkspur, jam-packed, I’m sure, with all those Vallejans Larkspurans who conscientiously came in to work today.

(Well, I =think= it’s probably the Larkspur ferry. The Vallejo ferry appears from pictures found on the Web to be a much zippier and larger boat.)

The Farmer’s Almanac has a list of full moon names and their meanings.

November 23, 2007

Another Embarcadero Center Lights shot

Filed under: San Francisco — Towse @ 8:28 pm
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Just a (late!) reminder: Today is the fifteenth annual Buy Nothing Day.

November 20, 2007

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Filed under: photographs,San Francisco,SFOBayBridge — Towse @ 3:16 am

I’d asked my younger sib if he could get his magical children to pull the names out of the Christmas gift hat soon, and he said, “Can it wait until Thursday?” (Thanksgiving at his house!)

I guess it must, but we noticed on our way home from the Dissident Chef’s truffle dinner on Friday that the Embarcadero Center’s lights are on, which means the wild rumpus has begun!

I told the younger sib that I’d probably just order something for my giftee over the Web. I’ve never been one to push my way through Union Square crowds to get the most absolutely fabulous gift from one of the trend-o stores. The stores are crowded enough in August. After Thanksgiving they’re like heart-palpitation-making — squeezed — and I am so not there.

(I have, however, got him the most spectacular, cannot be duplicated without great effort bday gift which he can unwrap at the aforesaid Thanksgiving celebration, as his bday is the following day. …)

I took the opportunity tonight to shoot a multitude of shots using the various modes on my relatively new Canon PowerShot A570.

The “Night Snapshot” mode captured the building best.

The Lights at the Embarcadero Center: a twenty-year tradition. [Click the photo for the closeup version.]


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San Francisco election results are in!

Filed under: libraries,politics,San Francisco — Towse @ 1:06 am

Department of Elections: Election Summary

100% of votes counted. Results posted 17 Nov 2007. Only ELEVEN DAYS to count the votes!

35.77% voter turnout. Yay, us! (Really, people. That’s pathetic.)

Mayor: Gavin Newsom with 73.66% of the vote. Next highest vote getter: Quintin Mecke with 6.33% of the vote. Least highest vote getter: Michael Powers (who?) with .36% of the vote.

(Just kidding … “Michael Powers, 42, owns the Power Exchange sex club, which welcomes gays, lesbians, heterosexual couples, and bondage and domination devotees – demonstrating, he says in his official campaign statement, “my capacity to embrace every kind of alternative lifestyle and manage multiple environments housed in one totally law-abiding and successful business.” That record of embracing tolerance, he said, “guarantees that I will listen to all San Franciscans.” [ref: SFGate])

No write-ins at all for mayor. 1.51% write-in for DA. Kamala Harris got the other 98.49% of the vote.

A – passed (55.49) – Transit Reform, Parking Regulation and Emissions Reduction
B – passed (71.21) – Limiting Hold-Over Service on Charter-Created Boards and Commissions
C – passed (68.19) – Requiring Public Hearings on Proposed Measures
D – passed (74.48) – Renewing Library Preservation Fund (Yay! Libraries! They scored even better than Gavin!)
E – failed (51.39) – Requiring Mayor to Appear Monthly at a Board of Supervisors Meeting
F – passed (51.53) – Amending Retirement Benefits for Police Dept. Employees who were Airport Police Officers
G – passed (55.39) – Establishing Golden Gate Park Stables Matching Fund
H – failed (66.95) – Donald Fisher’s effort: Regulating Parking Spaces
I – passed (59.14) – Establishing Office Small Business as City Dept. and Creating Small Business Assistance Center
J – passed (62.26) – Adopting a Policy to Offer Free City-Wide Wireless High-Speed Internet Network
K – passed (61.84) – Adopting a Policy to Restrict Advertising on Street Furniture and City Buildings

Can’t remember the specifics about the different measures? October 2007 Urbanist newsletter from SPUR has great and gory details on the different measures that were up for vote. [PDF]

November 19, 2007


Filed under: architecture,blog,books,people,San Francisco — Towse @ 10:01 pm

Check out Geoff Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG: Architectural Conjecture, Urban Speculation, Landscape Futures.

A plethora of goodies.

Geoff Manaugh has a book (BLDGBLOG) out from Chronicle Books in Spring 2009 and moved to this fair ville in September to become a senior editor at Dwell.

More about Manaugh here.

November 18, 2007

Cypresses redux

Filed under: causes,life,politics — Tags: , , — Towse @ 5:50 pm

Another shot of the post-pruning cypresses.


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Click on the picture to get a better look. Some of the parrots were back yesterday to check out the pruned trees. They stayed longer than they usually do before heading off.

November 16, 2007

San Francisco Food Bank’s 2007 holiday cards

Filed under: causes,design,San Francisco — Towse @ 2:21 am

San Francisco Food Bank’s 2007 holiday cards are available for purchase over the Web. Three designs are available. The Christmas ornament card drawn by Paul Madonna is my fave.

Go there.

Purchase holiday cards.

Support San Francisco Food Bank

November 15, 2007

The cypress grove on Telegraph Hill before, during, after.

As promised, befores and afters.

BEFORE: (18 Jul 2004)
[note: added another before: Dec 2003]

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I rummaged through my photo bins to find photos of the trees as they were. These two show the north and south ends of the cypress grove on 18Jul2004. Imagine, if you will, a large clump of green between what these two photographs show.

I obviously didn’t take a lot of shots of the trees standing alone.

DURING: (October 2004)

Later that year, in October, a large chunk of tree came down.

In October 2005, another tree was taken out before Mark threw himself between the trees and the tree cutters and successfully halted the project.

We all know the result: a Landmark Tree ordinance. After much negotiation, in February 2007 the City agreed to indemnify the remaining trees’ owner from any liability arising from the fact he wasn’t allowed to take the “rotten” (his description) trees down.

The City also agreed “to hire a special arborist who has the skill to delicately prune the trees and preserve them for at least three years — long enough for new ones to grow to shelter the parrots. The two trees are all that remain from what was once a larger grove.” [n.b. Three years to grow trees this tall? Really?]

The Northeast San Francisco Conservancy (president: Nancy Shanahan) pledged $5,000 to the City to cover the cost of pruning and care.

BEFORE: (December 2003)

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AFTER: (15 Nov 2007)


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What can we see that’s different? (Gee, this is like those picture puzzles: find six ways this picture is different from the ones above.)

In 2004, the cypress grove obstructed the view of most of the green building you can now see to the northeast of the trees. We can now see the tennis courts on top of the Bay Club.

The trees in 2004 were considerably taller than the trees that remain. We have an uninterrupted view of Treasure Island instead of having trees obstructing our views of the northernmost third of the island. We can also see more of Teatro Zinzanni — those tents down at Pier 29 — and twice as much of the rooftop of the condo building to the north of the green building.


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I’d taken this shot to show the tidal bore on a very boring day, but it also shows what our view of Treasure Island was in May 2004. That’s a whole lot o’ tree that’s been taken down in the last three years.

I have mixed feelings about all this. I love trees. I miss the green stuff — I much prefer green stuff to views of the neighbors’ roofs — but I think there was far more agitation over the poor parrots and this privately-owned cypress grove than there needed to be. I think the City spent more time and effort — when they don’t seem to have time to worry about some critical problems — than the situation warranted. I know Mark loves the parrots and I know he made them famous with his book. If someone had said we should spare the trees, if at all possible, because they’re right outside Mark’s door and he wants to have the parrots right there, well, I could understand that, but that’s not how all the agitation and public spin came down before the City set about changing rules, trimming trees and indemnifying the owner.

“The parrots are fine,” I tell worried friends who have read the tales of woe and crisis and parrots. This bit of greenery is not what it was, but the parrots still flock to trees on Telegraph Hill. We still hear them yackyackyack yackyackyack yackyackyackyacking. They still amuse the tourists and scare the cat.

May the flock prosper and increase.

Transbay Blog

Filed under: blog,politics,public transit — Tags: , — Towse @ 9:44 pm

Eric, over at Transbay Blog, is running a series of informational posts on the Central Subway, which I’ve ranted about on occasion here and elsewhere.

Transbay Blog is one of the most focussed, least axe-grinding blogs covering “News and thoughts on public transportation and city planning in the San Francisco Bay Area.” If such be your interests, check it out.

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