Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Here are one or two photos we took yesterday:

Here are a few photos from today...

This morning I drew the short straw to get up at 6.45am and move the car out of the parking spot for street cleaning. Usually I just drive round the neighbourhood rather aimlessly fighting over car parking spaces, but this morning I decided to take the camera and take a few pictures instead of hang around 4 or 5 streets for half an hour or more waiting for the cleaner to pass.

This is the beach next to Fisherman's Wharf - so gorgeous early in the morning.

Lombard Street (aka SF's crookedest street) early in the morning... what you don't see in the photo is the busload of tourists....

I also attended the 4pm service at Grace based on the Kings College Cambridge 9 Lessons in Carols, and Brendan and I attended the Midnight Mass with a fully-packed church. It was absolutely amazing and I'm still buzzing a little bit! I've never seen the massive bronze doors open before...

Monday, December 17, 2007

More Christmas pictures

Gratuitous harbour photo down at AT&T (Baseball) Park, a block from work. I walk here at lunch sometimes.

On Saturday we drove down to San Jose and, amongst other things spent an hour sending our families Christmas presents. It is supposed to get there in 6-8 business days - given there are only 6 business days before Christmas, that is worrying! Apparently today is the busiest postage day of the year.

OK: Christmas decorations from photos I've taken recently - just because you all need to see just how cool it looks here. I love the photo of the Christmas ornament - the background is Union Square, and it's the huge tree in the middle. It's around 8.15 am in the morning last Friday, and the sun is just rising. Click on the photos to make them bigger.

Nob Hill Park and Grace Cathedral with Christmas lights:

Down at the Embarcadero Center (American sp!) somewhere....

Friday, December 14, 2007

Our first parking ticket...

Tonight when we got home from the gym we met a very distraught neighbour, the one who lives underneath us. She was carrying a box to jump-start her car, which was parked on the top of the street and had a dead battery, and the jump-start portable battery wouldn't work. We tried to charge it using our car, but it really didn't want to work. So in the end she called her ex-boyfriend, whose car it was. I can hear her yelling at him right now. (She is very distraught, poor thing.)

The other day I came home and saw a police car parked outside our house. I was a bit concerned for a moment but went inside and everything was fine. No police at the house of the crazy lady next door, etc etc. Turns out that just before I came home there were 6 police cars outside our apartment, with police crouching outside the door of the neighbour downstairs, guns at the ready! They somehow thought she was involved in human trafficking of underage Asian sex workers! Seriously! Apparently it's a huge issue in California right now, which is horrible - people come in on boats, she told us, and are smuggled through the country.

Tonight we also discovered our very first parking ticket from here! It was $40, for not moving on Monday when the street cleaning truck came by. For a long time, the sign which told you when you had to move had been vandalised, but I noticed last week that it was back up. Guess that should have been our cue.... remember to move it every Monday before 7 am!

But, we're really not too concerned. After all, it would cost us $35 a night to park in the parking buildings around here!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Top 8 Awesome Things I've Found in San Francisco

Having been in San Francisco for almost 3 months now, I've had the time to explore a bit and find a few awesome, unexpected, or otherwise entertaining things. So I thought I'd make a post summing them up for your enjoyment.

In theory these are in order of awesomeness, but in reality they are all awesome.

8. The Greatest Spraypaint Artist Ever
Or if not ever, then at least the most entertaining in my limited experience. This guy is so far above the average punk scrawling illegible mess on bathroom walls they probably don't come within 100 meters of his location out of pure embarrassment.

Every piece of art he creates is done as a live performance incorporating everything from music to fire sprayed out of a can with the aid of a lighter. And the final products are impressive. Take a look below for a taste. This piece, of the Golden Gate at sunset, takes him just over 5 minutes from start to finish. No fire for this one unfortunately ;-)

7. A Castle
In the middle of the Mission District, a central, well-known part of the city, there is a castle. See.

From the official website:
This 200,000 square foot reproduction Moorish Castle was completed in 1914 and was used as a National Guard facility until 1976. It is full of period detail including cavernous dungeon-like basements, stone staircases, sweeping corridors, and a gigantic drill court spanning almost an acre. During rioting in San Francisco in 1934, it served as both a barricade and safety point for officers.
Its current use is much more entertaining. It is owned by kink.com, a fetish porn producer. This only occured recently, so for the years since the National Guard moved out in 1976, San Franciso had a full-fledged abandoned castle right in the middle of town. And now it has a porn castle. And both of these things are awesome in completely different ways.

6. The Stone Balancey Guy
This is a recent one from a bike ride just two days ago. Its awesomeness needs no explanation except to say there is nothing except stones and a lot of patience being used here:

5. The internet as a source of nutrients
Of course I was already familiar with the concept of ordering food online. The Hells Pizza website remains the premier food-related site in my mind. But here you can order almost any kind of food under the sun online.

Mmmm... Japanese Nutrients...

4. A car park
This one I've found several times now. And beleive me, here in San Francisco it's awesome every single time. A couple of American friends have told us that we'll know we're true Californians when the sight of a good parking spot brings tears to our eyes.

Just recently we had to have our car jump-started by the AA. We hadn't used it for three weeks because we found a really good spot and didn't want to lose it.

We don't know who DPT are, but they t0w you away when you park next to a curb coloured anything but grey.

3. A Sea View
As it turns out, the view from the top of our street is pretty spectacular. It just took me a week and a half to notice because it was always covered in fog.
It's not always this foggy, but it's a rare morning you can see all the way to the water.

2. A Chocolate Factory
Because not only is it a chocolate factory right there in the city, which produces great chocolate, they also give out free samples. Every day. To everyone who walks in the door. Even if you just go around in a little loop and come back 60 seconds later. They're too busy selling huge amounts of expensive chocolate to notice (or care).

1. A Mysterious Dark Tower with Evil Spires
Honestly, you can see this thing towering in the distance practically anywhere in San Francisco. They have to edit it out of the tourism photos.
Hint: Look for the evil tower of doom lurking in the foggy distance.

Turns out it's actually a radio tower, but San Francisco lore is that the guy who built it designed it the way it is because he liked the idea of the devil looking down on San Francisco. Whether that idea really did inspire the tower or (more likely) the tower inspired the idea, the key message is that it's freaky-looking and always watching you.

Note: Evil Spires.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Abercrombie and Fitch fun

Abercrombie and Fitch is an American (mostly men's) store which is known for its expensive clothing, attractive and snooty salespeople, and promotion of a certain "affluent sportsman"/ "preppy" lifestyle. The tagline for their website says "The highest quality, casual, All-American lifestyle clothing for aspirational men and women", and they only use actual employees as their models for their ads. Anyway. I could spend a long time deconstructing their messages... but you're all not media students, so I won't.

Here is a link to a series of video skits which mock the brand...

And here is a picture of me with one of the models who stood at the front of the store and posed. Seriously. That's all they did. Look left, look right, pose. Look left, look right, and... pose. There were two guys dressed in identical red jackets, jeans and sandals, both just as "ripped". They didn't seem to mind me asking one of the salesgirls to take a photo. I got the impression they had that all the time. (Look at the photo behind us, as well...)

The skits aren't actually far off!!

Christmas in San Francisco

While we're not in the midst of suburbia, where I'm told the residents really go nuts with Christmas decorating, San Francisco is still quite cool during Christmas. Here is a small glimpse from photos today... (finally done the Christmas shopping for family - many shops were perused for their respective benefits. We hope they like.)

Inside the mall on Market and 5th Streets:

Street view including the Apple store looking along Stockton and Market: (not strictly Christmas but still interesting - and yes that is steam coming from a manhole in the road - it always happens - and if you look in the background, there are lights from the outside of Macy's.):

Macy's shops around the outside of Union Square:

They also put up the Christmas tree in Union Square every year: (sorry if it's blurry)

On the left of the Macy's store, a large tree has been put up in the Neiman Marcus store - this one and Macy's are kinda like Kirks department store in Wellington:

Anyway, that's enough photos for now - I didn't take that many today. I just have one more, but that has its own post!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


This morning, on the bus, an old man asked me if his breath smelt like garlic, and breathed on me. I replied, "I don't know!" Seriously! How disgusting is that? Who asks a perfect stranger if their breath smells like garlic? I really don't want to know.

Maybe I should dye my hair brown.