Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Minimally Artistic Art of Instant Minimalist Art, 28 April 2013: Sunday Greys and Some Curious Blues

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Good Evening:

The minimall on Geary between Presidio and Masonic has seen better days. Much better days. Mervyn’s is long gone, Office Depot recently gone, and suddenly the vacancies make the overall shabbiness of the half-century complex obvious, like going to a shoe store for a new pair and suddenly realizing how worn out your current shoes have become.

Some sort of massive renovation has begun there, however I can’t tell what the final result will be. If they want to tear down the whole edifice, bring in more of San Francisco’s construction cranes and construct three or four stories of apartments, I won’t object. I certainly won’t feel surprised. But on Sunday I wandered past and saw something I hadn’t noticed before: the strangest patterns of grey (my favorite underrated color, see here and here and here) I’ve ever seen. I had my point-and-shoot with me, and proceeded to take several dozen pictures, some with a very odd result.

DSCN5109 DSCN5103 DSCN5102 DSCN5097 DSCN5087 DSCN5077 DSCN5070 DSCN5062_2 DSCN5058

Blue?! What’s that doing here? The grey pictures above show the true colors of the scene. I used the Landscape setting for all of these shots. Aside from turning the blue pictures into black-and-whites, I will return to the site with different cameras and try again. Curious art, this photography stuff and nonsense.

Vonn Scott Bair

Snippets of a San Francisco Saturday, 28 April 2013

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Good Morning:

One nice thing about San Francisco; entertaining oneself for free comes easily. Start with yourself, add one pair of comfortable shoes, two ears, one camera:

Folsom Street, San Francisco, California 27 April 2013, 04:39:51 p.m.

Folsom Street, San Francisco, California 27 April 2013, 04:39:51 p.m.

Overheard on the 6-Parnassus: “I am hallucinating from the lack of pot. From the lack of marijuana.”

11th Street, San Francisco, California, 27 April 2013, 04:38:18 p.m.

11th Street, San Francisco, California, 27 April 2013, 04:38:18 p.m.

Overheard whilst walking on Divisadero: “…but now he wants me to experiment with intravenous with him, which is a little above my pay grade, so I discussed this with Mother–of course I discussed this with Mother. Yes, I call Mother, I call her more often than you do…Oh yes I do…Oh no you don’t…No you don’t…Don’t lie to me, you don’t love Mother as much as I do…”

At which point, sadly, I had to cross the street.

Vonn Scott Bair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up – Photorealism, Photography Style

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Good Evening:

Photorealistic painting never really went away. Although the genre of painting so realistically that the result looks like a photograph enjoyed its greatest vogue in the Seventies, it still has its adherents today. During the Seventies, my dad managed the finances of Hartford, Connecticut’s Wadsworth Atheneum, one of America’s larger art museums, and the oldest public one. During Dad’s time at the museum, they also employed a curator whose name I forget who had a remarkable gift for identifying up-and-coming artists and trends, with the result that the museum hosted one of the most significant early exhibitions of video art, to give one example. During those years, the museum also exhibited many artists who specialized in photorealism and/or urban landscapes.

Well, I can’t paint, I can photograph. Presenting recent photographs inspired by um, uh, photorealism.

IMG_4788, Divisidero, San Francisco, California, 20 April 2013, 01:09:53 p.m.

IMG_4788, Divisidero, San Francisco, California, 20 April 2013, 01:09:53 p.m.

DSCN4984, SOMA, San Francisco, California, 20 April 2013, 06:58:30 p.m.

DSCN4984, SOMA, San Francisco, California, 20 April 2013, 06:55:30 p.m.

DSCN4988, South of Market, San Francisco, California, 20 April 2013, 06:58:30 p.m.

DSCN4988, South of Market, San Francisco, California, 20 April 2013, 06:58:30 p.m.

DSCN4964, Bryant Street, San Francisco, California, 20 April 2013, 06:42:30 p.m.

DSCN4964, Bryant Street, San Francisco, California, 20 April 2013, 06:42:30 p.m.

I realistically hope you have a really photographic weekend.

Vonn Scott Bair

Job Hunting in a Crummy Infrastructure, 25 April 2013

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Good Evening:

I might have mentioned that I work in Human Resources. What follows is one of my more serious posts; however, the next time you need to look for a job, I have a little secret to share that will improve your chances. I also have a few pictures from a new series, “Blue & Green,” but today’s top priority is you. If you don’t need a job at this time, great. You must know someone who does, so please feel free to pass this on. I hire people for a living, and I want to make the jobhunter’s job a little easier. Remember that this advice comes from a genuine HR professional–skip those expensive seminars, this is good stuff and tonight, you get it for free.

Blue & Green #3

Blue & Green #3

It happens every single day. The phone rings.

“Hello? Hello? I’m sorry, can you speak up please? Hello? Did you say something? This isn’t a good connection, can you please speak a little louder?” And then, finally, the inevitable question:

“Are you on a cell phone?”

And it’s always a cell phone.

Blue & Green #9

Blue & Green #9

Millions of Americans have disposed of their landlines. The motives vary: many people want to save money; I dropped my landline because I hadn’t received a call to that number for 3 consecutive months. Yeah, not even one of those annoying sales calls that come during your dinner hour for three whole months.

Overall, this turns out well for the most part for the most people, since their friends and family mostly live nearby.

Blue & Green #18

Blue & Green #18

The problems start when they call out of their area code. When I moved to the Bay Area in 1982, the 510, 650 and 925 area codes did not yet exist. 510 came in 1991, whilst 650 and 925 arrived in 1998. Other new area codes near the Bay Area: 530 in 1997; 831 in July 1998. During the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 fiscal years, I received thousands of phone calls from these area codes and others around the entire country. The reception was usually very poor.

Blue & Green #33

Blue & Green #33

The thing is, hiring people is what I do for a living, and I happen to like my job. The poor cell phone reception I endure on a daily basis makes my job harder than it needs to be. But I have a job. Think of the millions of Americans who don’t. They represent an infinitely bigger priority.

True: our roads and highways need a lot of work. True, our bridges have begun to crumble. True, our whole infrastructure needs a retrofit. Indeed, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has directly or indirectly hired hundreds of people (probably more like thousands) to repair, reinforce or retrofit our entire water system. If you’re into infrastructure, the PUC is an extraordinary utility to study. No brag: we win awards we don’t know exist until we receive them. It’s like the manager of the Brazilian men’s national soccer team saying, “Thank you for this lovely trophy, but what exactly is the World Cup?”

I respectfully suggest that improved cell phone reception in the United States of America is at least as important as any other improvements to our infrastructure (and the other improvements are desperately needed). If you’re looking for a job right now, then improved cell phone reception is most important for you. Now I don’t know anything about the politics or lobbying or economics involved in the telecommunications industry, so I’ll change course before I start making more than my usual share of factual errors.

Instead, permit me to offer some advice on how to use your cell phone to get a job.

Whenever you call a potential employer, and you go into voice mail, here is the single most important thing you can do: state your phone number twice, slowly.

Let me repeat that.

State. Your. Phone. Num. Ber. Twice. Slooooooooowly.

I’m a guy who likes to answer the phone on the first ring. I don’t approve of the BS schtick of making people wait a zillion rings before picking up the phone. I call that a pathetic power game that only demonstrates the powerlessness of the people who make you wait. Trouble is, I don’t spend the entire day at my desk, so some calls go into voice mail. All too often, people state their name twice, slowly, and then rush through their phone number so fast that sometimes I can’t figure out what they said. In other words, sometimes I can’t call them back. When you use your phone to hunt for a job, your phone number becomes infinitely more important than your name. Sounds odd, but very true. If I have your number, I can always call back and then learn your name. If I don’t have your number, I can’t call you at all.

Good luck out there. As I wrote at the top, if you don’t need any job-hunting advice at this point in time, please feel free to pass this on to a friend who does.

Vonn Scott Bair

Love Your Veggies!

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Good Evening:

I haven’t added a recipe in a while. This isn’t only a recipe ; it’s also a technique for the proper treatment of vegetables. The pictures come from today’s visit to the Civic Center farmers market; paradoxically, the vegetable pictures were pretty bad, so I only have fruit for this post.

First Cherries of 2013! Picture Taken with iPhone 4, Modified in Aquarella v. 1.0

First Cherries of 2013! Picture Taken with iPhone 4, Modified in Aquarella v. 1.0

How little love vegetables get from both home cooks and restaurant professionals! Almost as an afterthought, they dump some perfectly wonderful vegetables into a pot of boiling water, forget they exist, cook the flavor, color and nutrients out of them, fail to drain them properly, and then dump them on a plate to lay weakly in a pool of rapidly cooling water. Now when my grandmother in Idaho cooked vegetables, she boiled them, too, but she kept an eye on the pot, did not overcook them, and drained them completely. But she “cheated:” until 10 minutes before dinner was served, these same vegetables had grown in my paternal grandparents’ backyard garden.

I normally prefer to saute vegetables, but sometimes I need to cook them in water. But I don’t boil them; boiling only works well with the ones growing in your back yard. I prefer steaming as the best way to use water and still preserve color, shape, taste and nutrients. I will give away my secret, but be forewarned: I will call upon your courage and fortitude.

Steamed Vegetables (Serves 4-6)

  • 1 pound Vegetables, such as zucchini, carrots, peas, shelled fava beans, snow peas
  • 1 Lemon, zested, split in half
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Fresh Mint, finely minced
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup white wine (optional)

I’ll pretend we’re steaming zucchini.

  1. Wash the squash thoroughly and trim the ends. Split lengthwise into quarters. Cut into one-half inch chunks.
  2. Boil water in the pot, adding the juice of one lemon half and the optional white wine if you choose.
  3. Toss together the zucchini, mint and lemon zest.
  4. Place in the steamer basket, place the steamer basket over the pot of boiling liquid, and cover.

Time for bravery. I present my big secret after the picture of the strawberries.

Strawberries at the Farmers Market, 24 April 2013

Strawberries at the Farmers Market, 24 April 2013

Undercook the vegetables.

Yes, please have the courage to undercook your vegetables. The zucchini needs no more than 2 minutes, perhaps only one. Snow peas (which you’ll cut in half or thirds) and peas might need 3 minutes. Fava beans, maybe five if they’re big. Carrots, depending upon how thickly you cut them up, might need six or seven. Rule of thumb: If they’re still a little crunchy, they’re done. Remove your vegetables from the pot, dump them into an attractive bowl (presentation matters; love your veggies!), and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste over them. You may add a little butter or high quality olive oil (or substitute other herbs, as long as they’re fresh) if you wish.

Vonn Scott Bair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up – Juan Marichal Aims at the Moon

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Good Evening:

I get lucky sometimes. I wandered past the Giants ballpark during the San Diego series (swept by the G-Men) and noticed that the location of the moon in relation to the statue of Juan Marichal allowed for a little fun with composition:

The Statue of Juan Marichal Aims for the Moon,  20 April 2013

The Statue of Juan Marichal Aims for the Moon, 20 April 2013

Given the strength of Marichal’s arm (he once pitched a 16-inning complete game shutout), a throw to the moon isn’t all that inconceivable.

Vonn Scott Bair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up – Up & Even Upper

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Good Evening:

I saw this trio of palms along Hearst in Berkeley on Sunday afternoon. Got a little lucky:

Three Palms & Jet Trail, Berkeley, CA 20 April 2013

Three Palms & Jet Trail, Berkeley, CA 20 April 2013

Vonn Scott Bair