Monthly Archives: November 2012

Grey.

Standard

Good Evening:

An underrated color.

Glass Reflections on Building in Redwood Alley

I hope you will pardon my use of the English spelling of the color. “Grey” just looks somehow, um, greyer than, uh, “gray.”

Grey on Grey Study VIII

I found the above set of buildings near Jensen Street in Oakland, an industrial area full of urban landscapes that photographers love to explore.

Vacant Lot Next to MacDonald’s on Van Ness & Golden Gate Avenue

The above photo illustrates a surprising strength of the iPhone 4. Yes, this camera from three generations ago has grown old and obsolete, but the extremely small lens can peek between the slats of a ten foot tall privacy fence and capture the scene beyond.

Help Me Call 911

This building is located on a small narrow alley that connects Folsom and Shotwell in the Mission and runs parallel to 14th Street.

I just learned that someone in Japan became my 1,000th visitor this month. Thus November 2012 becomes my first 1,000 month, and this on the first anniversary of The San Francisco Scene–Seen! (founded 27 November 2011). Thank you all for your visits and comments, and I hope my blog continues to entertain you for a long time to come.

Vonn Scott Bair

Advertisements

Someone Notices the Contrast of White on White, 27 November 2012

Standard

Good Evening:

I have a logical explanation for this. Honest, I do:

Imagine (if you dare) that Groucho Marx and Don Rickles were white-collar workers in the same office. Now imagine that they worked only a few cubicles apart. And now imagine that Don Rickles was over a foot shorter than Groucho, Asian, female, and had extremely long hair.

That was my relationship with “Joanne” until last week, when she moved to a permanent position in a different department of the government of the City & County of San Francisco. I pretended that she and I were identical twin brothers, except that “John” had gender identification issues. She played practical jokes on me. We comically insulted each other nonstop. We invented our own “top secret special secret twin langauge,” which consisted largely of belching, burping, grunting and beeping sounds. We were perfect for each other, and provided excellent entertainment for our co-workers. She gave me one last parting gift when she left; specifically, she, ahem, “redecorated” my cubicle as you can see in the above picture.

Look closely and you will see that she used a lot of toilet paper for her project. I couldn’t let it go to waste, so I’ve used the T.P. as a coaster for my coffee cup, as facial tissue to blow my nose (it doesn’t feel very rough at all), and most important of all, as a constantly changing abstract sculpture to photograph for my “White on White” and “The Minimally Artistic Art of Instant Minimalist Art” series. Some examples:

Frank Gehry, eat your heart out. In a foreign language.

The Nikon CoolPix S9100 has proven rather a deceptive little creature. When I checked the images after snapping them, they all appeared in their correct colors (pretending for a moment that white is a color). However, after I uploaded all of them to iPhoto, they uniformly displayed a very pale beige color. The problem presented little trouble: reducing the Saturation level from the default 50 to 15 +/-3 brought out the correct colors.

I hope you like the results. Perhaps you shall feel inspired to create your own monochromatic sculptures from common household materials.

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Acorn Squash with Two Wild Rice Stuffings, Vegan and Vegetarian Versions

Standard

Good Evening:

Although I’m not vegan, I love the cuisine and have developed a nice repertoire of vegan recipes. Whenever I host a dinner party and one or more guests inform me that they are strict vegetarians or vegans, the entire dinner will feature only vegetarian or vegan dishes. Happily, the carnivores never seem to notice, everyone goes home with full stomachs, and best of all, I have had zero fatalities.

So far.

Until I can figure out the extremely confusing Custom Menu feature in WordPress, recipe ideas will go here. A few people have asked me for Thanksgiving or winter holiday recipes for people who don’t eat meat or who only eat vegan foods. Until the past few years, vegan or vegetarian dishes for these occasions were extremely rare. Then someone discovered/rediscovered stuffed winter squashes such as pumpkins and acorn squashes. I love working with acorn squashes as they are very inexpensive at farmers markets and you can select multiple squashes of the exact same size. The flavor of the flesh complements the flavor of wild rice very well, so over the Thanksgiving weekend I experimented with a pair of recipes. Both of these were improvised on the spot and allow you to customize to your taste. For example, please don’t feel compelled to use the precise spice blends. Use larger size squash for entrees, small ones for side dishes.

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice, Fuyu Persimmon and Fuji Apple Stuffing.

  • 2 Acorn Squash, split, with seeds and guts removed
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • Olive oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, or butter
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 Fuji (or Gala) apple, peeled, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 Fuyu Persimmon, peeled, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • (Vegetarian version: 1 cup packed grated cheddar cheese)
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Wrap each acorn squash half loosely in foil and bake directly on the rack in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick easily pierces the flesh. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature
  2. Simultaneously with the squash, cook the wild rice according to package instructions. Remove from heat and drain when done.
  3. Saute the shallot in olive, corn, or grapeseed oil (or butter) over medium low heat until it turns translucent.
  4. Add the apple, persimmon and spices and saute, stirring frequently, for five minutes more.
  5. Remove the mixture to a bowl, stir in the cooked wild rice and let cool until room temperature.
  6. If using the grated cheese, stir into the mixture now.
  7. Fill the cavities of the four squash halves with the mixture. You should have enough to create nice little mounds.
  8. Place the four stuffed squash halves into a baking dish so they don’t tip over. You may top with more grated cheddar if you wish. Bake in that preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice, Wild Mushroom and Pecan Stuffing.

  • 2 Acorn Squash, split, with seeds and guts removed
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1/2 cup pecans (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 12 ounces of Shiitake, Oyster, Portobello or other mushrooms, finely sliced or chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely minced (optional)
  • Fresh, finely minced parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme to taste (or whatever herbs you prefer)
  • (Vegetarian version: 1 cup packed grated Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Emmentaler or Swiss cheese)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Wrap each acorn squash half loosely in foil and bake directly on the rack in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick easily pierces the flesh. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature
  2. Simultaneously with the squash, cook the wild rice according to package instructions. During the last 10 minutes, add the pecans. Remove from heat and drain when done.
  3. Saute the mushrooms in olive oil over high heat until all of the water has released and evaporated. Remove to a mixing bowl.
  4. Return the pan to the heat, reduce to medium low. Add more oil if needed. Saute the shallot over medium low heat until it turns translucent.
  5. Add the celery, herbs and spices; saute until the celery turns translucent.
  6. Stir the rice & pecan mixture, along with the vegetables and spices, into the same bowl as the mushrooms and blend thoroughly. Let cool.
  7. If using the grated cheese, stir into the mixture now.
  8. Fill the cavities of the four squash halves with the mixture. You should have enough to create nice little mounds.
  9. Place the four stuffed squash halves into a baking dish so they don’t tip over. You may top with more grated cheese if you wish. Bake in that preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

You might have extra leftover stuffing. This is not a problem.

I have never written a recipe before, let alone two, so if anything seems unclear/contradictory or just plain wrong, feel free to write.

Vonn Scott Bair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful – Farmers Markets

Standard

Good Afternoon:

Doesn’t matter if you practice veganism, vegetarianism, or just have a wide repertoire of meatless recipes (such as yours truly): you have probably come to love farmers markets, where you can combine both low prices and outrageous freshness. Even organic produce costs only a fraction of what it costs in the supermarket chains.

And since I like color (see previous post), I always bring my camera. For once, my shots come in the gallery format. Whilst I don’t usually resort to any of WordPress’ gallery implementations, it seems like the best way to portray this particular collection of pictures.

Anyone feeling hungry? I am. Time for two of my favorite vegan winter dishes: Puree of Butternut Squash, Apples & Leeks; and then Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice & Assorted Mushrooms.

Vonn Scott Bair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful – Colors

Standard

Good Evening:

If we did not know that colors exist, we would not miss them; but we do, and we would.

From the “Yellow, Orange, Brown” Series: Peace Sign

From “The Instant Art of Instant Abstract Art” series: Red, Blue, Black 24 November 2012.

I found this addition to the “Minimally Artistic Art of Instant Minimalist Art” series in a very odd location: the floor of the parking garage of Falletti Foods on Broderick & Oak. The late afternoon sun shone on the concrete at a very low angle producing a curious effect thanks to the shadows:

From the “Grey” and the “Minimally Artistic Art of Instant Minimalist Art” series.

From “The Instant Art of Instant Abstract Art” series: Orange & Black, 24 November 2012

“The Instant Art of Instant Abstract Art:” Flowers

“Blue” Series: Haight & Cole Mural, 24 November 2012

All pictures taken Thursday through Saturday this week with an iPhone 4.

Vonn Scott Bair

I Do Not Understand Reality, Even More Nudity in San Francisco Edition, 20 November 2012

Standard

Good Evening:

I don’t understand this: public nudity in our culture is strange; San Francisco in our culture is strange; surely strange should be able to do strange right. But my town has flagrantly flubbed flaunted flesh (ah, poesy!).

My hometown’s nudity movement (I can’t believe I just wrote that) became a civic issue months before I saw the nudity demonstration in the Civic Center only five days ago. A group of men had taken to sitting au naturel in one of SF’s smallest parks, a roughly fifty foot diameter circle of bushes and a few metal tables at the terminus of the vintage streetcar line that travels up Market Street and ends at yet another one of San Francisco’s five-way intersections (Temple, Divisadero, Market, Castro and 17th Streets). Incidentally, when I wrote of this curious affair to my other online buddies, one of my fave correspondents, a sweet-tempered grandmother and Red Sox fanatic from Boston, Massachusetts wrote back asking if the men were young, handsome, suntanned, hetero and single. Sadly, I had to inform her that they were old, flabby, pot-bellied, pale and gay.

The Supervisor (similar to an Alderman in other cities/towns) whose district includes the Castro neighborhood, Scott Wiener (yes, his last name is unfortunate, and no, he is not that Weiner, and whatever one-liners you’re imagining we San Franciscans have already told each other) grew concerned about the possible health risks concerning the spread of butt bacteria (I can’t believe I just wrote that) and wanted to introduce a law requiring the nude sitters to “…place a towel or other barrier on a public seat before sitting in it. And that they be prohibited from dining in restaurants naked.” (from the SF Chronicle article written by Heather Knight which you can read here) This stirred up more controversy than people expected.

First of all, the City & County of San Francisco has a surprisingly strong Libertarian streak (just ask the surprised Libertarian activists who discover how popular Ron Paul is around here): a lot of defenders of public nudity didn’t approve of the imposition of forcing the nudists to carry a towel with them. Second, San Francisco has a new “sit/lie law” that bans people from sitting or lying on sidewalks, no matter how many/few/no clothes they wear. Why should nudists be allowed to sit in public when panhandlers on Haight Street can’t sit at all? Third, the gay population in the Castro wanted public nudity in their neighborhood banned, period, arguing that among other things, the nudes were bad for the local small businesses. San Francisco, contrary to conservative stereotypes, is one of America’s hottest hotbeds of entrepreneurship, business, and free enterprise.

When the story spread that the sitters were not even San Franciscans, they were out-of-towners, the aghast locals asked Mr. Wiener to do something about this. Think about that; people not from San Francisco conducting themselves in San Francisco in a manner too risque for San Franciscans. I can’t believe I just wrote that.

So Mr. Wiener did what politicians are expected to do, obeyed his constituents’ wishes, and introduced a law limiting but not eliminating public nudity, because after all, this is San Francisco, and we have annual events such as the Folsom Street Fair and the Pride Parade where nudity is expected, so we can’t ban expected nudity, now can we? However, because after all, this is San Francisco, the public hearing drew protestors who stated that the nude sitters were not out-of-towners, they were San Franciscans, and since they were nude activists, they therefore engaged in some pubic baring at the public hearing (and I can believe I wrote that). Many of the other Supervisors opposed the law, saying that “Sometimes there’s a little weirdness about how we express ourselves, but that’s a great thing about San Francisco.” The proposed law did pass and barring surprises will go into effect on 1 February 2013.

The final vote? 6-5. Naturally, everyone says that the new law just barely passed.

Vonn Scott Bair
Read more at Neil J. Riley’s article (and yes, there are pictures!): http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-barely-passes-public-nudity-ban-4055606.php#ixzz2Cq1HaMVB

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green – Really, Really Big Leaves (The Instant Art of Instant Abstract Art, 19 November 2012)

Standard

Good Evening:

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in general and the Conservatory of Flowers in particular host many exotic plants that have really, really, big leaves. The Conservatory, bless ’em, has a very tolerant policy toward photographers–don’t touch the plants, and you can pretty much do as you want–so I could indulge one of my favorite techniques. This consists of taking an extreme closeup of an object to remove it from the context of its environment and reducing it to “instant abstract art.” The results sometimes prove worthy of a look or two.

I do feel a little disgruntled with myself, because of my lack of journalistic skills: I forgot to record the names of any of these plants. Oh, well. Good theme for this week, at least for me. Might have one more Green post in me.

Vonn Scott Bair