Howl 2.0

UC Berkeley professor Ken Goldberg and documentary filmmaker (and founder of the Webby Award) Tiffany Shlain put together a modern update to Allen Ginsberg’s famous Beat Generation poem, Howl (also purportedly written in Berkeley). Yelp exhorts us all to unplug from from our endless quest for the next info-fix and, “power-down and revisit the present tense.”

They practice what they preach and encourage everyone to take a “technology shabbat” from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. I love Berkeley!

They are working on a feature film which was featured at Sundance this year. Connected, An Autobiography about Love, Death & Technology.

A Good Host is Worth It

A couple of days ago I had one of those “uh-oh” moments when you’re not quite paying attention and do something you really shouldn’t have but don’t realize it until it’s already done. This was a doozy. My web hosting provider, Laughing Squid Web Hosting, jumped in and saved me. It’s times like these when you appreciate the value of a good hosting provider.

Best Hosting Provider Around!

For every WordPress upgrade for the past couple of years or so I have used the excellent WordPress Automatic Upgrade plug-in to handle my upgrades. Problem is, it was so good it lulled me into auto-pilot so I didn’t really pay too close attention during this most recent upgrade and certainly didn’t check to see that WPAU is no longer being supported.

After timing out during one of the steps and gettting sporatic errors afterwards, things got progressively worse until I totally botched things and was left with the dreaded white screen of death. I submitted a ticket to the Laughing Squid guys explaining what happened and attached an error log but basically said not to worry too much about it if they could just restore the files back to the way it was last week.

Instead, Frank, over at Laughing Squid central, offered to look into things for me and not only un-borked my install but also upgraded me to the latest version. Thanks Frank!

I signed up for Laughing Squid Hosting because I’m a fan of Scott Beale’s quirky blog about SF (lately NYC) culture, and have turned many people on to the Bay Area to the SquidList as a source of things cool and extraordinary. Hosting my blog with LS was my way of supporting Scott. Not only do these guys support cool and interesting art, they also run a great hosting shop.

(this post was, as all my posts, totally unsolicited and straight from the heart)

Golden Gate Western Wear

We have a friend visiting from Japan and besides visiting the redwoods, she’s also on a mission for some Tony Lama cowboy boots which are all the rage in Tokyo. I found a place that carries them up in Richmond, Golden Gate Western Wear. The site speaks to you out of the backwoods. From the Store Hours page:

I may be the last guy in the country not to use an answering
machine. I figure you don’t need to waste a long distance call
to find out we’re not here. You’ll know that after 8 or 10
rings for free. Please refer to above opening schedule and
call back.

We’re closed on holidays and for earthquakes.

Should be fun. Looking forward to meeting the guy.

UPDATE: The owner wasn’t there but photos from the visit are here.

Coyle & Sharpe – the original San Francisco Pranksters

Coyle & Sharpe

San Francisco has a long tradition of pranksters. Back in the early Sixties, two guys in suits working for the local KGO station interviewed people on tape for their radio show. The archives are available on CD and they also have been releasing selected episodes via podcast. The pieces capture a time when America was more innocent, when anyone in a suit could get people to agree to anything in the name of, “being a good citizen.”

My favorite is the episode about

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in which they push one guy to agree to risk death working 12 hours/day in a fiery pit, attacked by swooping bats and murderous maniacs. He finally declines when he learns he has to make his own lunch.

Those looking for a modern version of the Coyle & Sharpe spirit are advised to check out the San Francisco Cacophony Society.

Long Journey West to the Farallons

Sleeping

Photo by Todd Sampson

Our first trip on Todd’s sailboat out beyond the Golden Gate was very relaxing. There was pretty much no wind so we ended up motoring almost the entire 90 miles out and back to the Farallon Islands. Not that I mind – I was a bit nervous having never ventured out in open water. Seas are quite a bit rougher than the Long Island Sound that I’m used to and the fog in the morning was a bit creepy. The emergence of a warship slipping out of the fog like a silent warrior was a wake up call for everyone. On board along with Todd was my brother-in-law Dav and co-worker at MyBlogLog, Chris Goffinet.

It was the perfect dry run in preparation for another trip sometime when we have some wind. We did get a chance to see some wildlife. Seals, dolphins, pelicans, whales, and even a sunfish. We also learned a very valuable lesson that, for some odd reason (maybe practical joke?), is not written up in any of the books we read about the Farallon Islands. Never, ever, anchor off the Farallons in calm seas unless you want to be covered in flies for the entire return trip.

It was so nice to spend time on the water and even spending the night on the boat the evening before our 5am departure was a reminder of trips I used to take with my father. It was great to get away, just 24 hours on the water but I feel like we went on a long camping trip. We went somewhere and saw things you don’t normally see and have stories to tell about it.

Thanks Todd, I look forward to more trips and explorations and hopefully a tad more of a breeze next time!

Mie & Dav’s Wedding

Papa Kennedy
Papa Kennedy,
originally uploaded by inky.

So the knot was tied – or bunched together and presented for all to see. My sister Mie and her beau Dav celebrated their commitment to each other with an un-formal formality in a bar in San Francisco. There was a cake with Burning Man iconography, a band in the form of a warbling Japanese cowboy (Toshio Hirano), a bartender serving mean mojitos and even handmade corsages provided by Mie’s friend Rachel.

There were a few speeches including a great one by my father in a 16th century powdered wig (pictured) which opened with, "so this is San Francisco!" and ended with "marriage is what you make it." I read a passage from Thoreau – "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts." and Rachel read a touching note from someone who couldn’t be there.

There was some dancing and I’m sure the party went on late into the evening but our little doggies were wiped out and fell asleep as soon as we buckled them in for the ride home.

July 4th weekend, Dancing ’til Dawn, BBQs, Parades, more BBQs and Fireworks

My sister finally fulfilled her dream and dragged me out for a night on the town. We piled into two taxi cabs and raced through the streets of San Francisco to an non-descript warehouse where DJs held fourth and mixed sonic waves of sound effects to titilate the crowd into a frenzy. I had a really good time and managed, in the course of the evening, to work out a kink in my neck that had been bothering me for the past week.

On Sunday, I went over to visit a colleague’s loft in West Oakland for some scrumptous BBQ and, while waddling back to my car, spotted a rad-looking mod car. The photo sucks (I really miss my digital camera!) but if you look closely, you might see that the whole car is covered in bones and skulls which give it a nice Mad Max effect. I’d hate to see that thing bearing down on me in my rearview mirror.

On July 4th, I hung out with neighbors in Alameda. The entire Island was decked out in red, white, and blue bunting and many of the streets were blocked off for block parties. Thompson Avenue had it’s own casual gathering and our neighbor (who is an old school longboarder) had his extended family which are all skateboarders. Everyone from the four year old up to grand-dad himself spent the afternoon listening to surf music and shredding on the street in front of our house.

A parade through town provided a break from the action and the entire town came out to see some 200 different groups parade the 5 mile loop that weaved down Park Avenue, along Shoreline Drive, up Grand Avenue, down Central and then back up Webster Street. I think the parade organizers wanted to mix things up a bit with some of the placements and put the Disabled Veterans right in front of Mother’s for Peace and the gay group Out on the Island in front of a local church group which is known to be anti-gay. The parade also requires some groups to boil their message down to the bare minimum with the Falun Gong foks passing out flyers to parade viewers while saying "It’s good exercise."

While riding through town, I spotted a Zydeco band, a street beach volleyball tournament, and a frog jumping contest. I capped out the weekend with a view of the official (an unofficial) fireworks that were being launched all around us from when it got dark around 9:30 all the way to midnight.

Decadence

antrim27windwardaft.jpg

My high school roommate, Andy Hoffman, dropped me an email to ask if I wanted to join him and his skipper John as “rail meat” on his boat for an Friday evening sail to kick off the 4th of July weekend. His boat, Luna, is an Antrim 27, built for speed with high performance rigging, an open transom, and a superlight fiberglass & balsa hull. For a 27 foot, it’s got a surprisingly big cockpit and a 6′ keel fixed with a 1,000 lbs. bulb. She’s as close as you can get to a 27′ windsurfer.

She’s moored over in San Francisco near the Presidio and we set out in 20 – 25 knot winds out under the Golden Gate over to the Marin Headlands. On our way we spotted several pairs of porpoises and and dodged a few container ships on their way out towards Asia. The seas were choppy with five foot swells and shifty wind which I understand is normal for the Bay which is some of the trickiest waters to sail in North America. The boat handles well though and with Andy’s Lynard Skynard blaring, we even dipped the boom a few times as we raced back under the Gate to Sausalito.

We pulled up at a Tiburon sailor’s institution, Sam’s Anchor Cafe, for dinner and enjoyed the setting sun while watching the fog roll over the Sausalito hills like a gigantic, slow-motion tidal wave. Topped up with Bloody Marys and dinner, we set back home and turned on the navigation lights and planed our way back home.

It was really amazing to be out on the Bay on a beautiful Friday evening – the city was lit up all around us but we were all alone out on the Bay with only the searchlight and fog horns of Alcatraz to keep us company. It was like our own private playground. After tying up at 10 pm I was back home taking a warm shower by 10:45 and feeling deliciously relaxed and anticipate a deep slumber with the rocking motion of the waters lulling me to sleep.

Thanks Andy and John for a wonderful evening!