Monthly Archives: January 2015

More Flavored Sidewalks!

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Good Evening:

Admit it–until you saw the phrase “more flavored sidewalks,” it never occurred to you that you never realized that you never thought you would ever see the phrase “more flavored sidewalks” until you saw the phrase “more flavored sidewalks.” But of course San Francisco has more flavored sidewalks! Last night I posted a photo of a sausage flavored sidewalk. But we have much more than just sausage:

Cheese.

Cheese.

…we have a vegetarian option, too.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Surreal Is That Which Lies At Your Feet, and More Spam Poetry! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself)

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Good Evening:

Long-time followers know that I like to express myself with two recurring themes, poetry made from spam emails, and photographs of weird things at my feet. “The surreal is that which lies at your feet” is not my invention, I feel quite certain of that, but I still haven’t discovered who said it first.

So first the surreal–a sausage flavored sidewalk. No kidding.

Sausage.

Sausage.

And now the spam poetry (I found the original here):

He Reconnaissance (Which Was Not Much) Before the “Syndicate.”

We had an audience

With the commanding

Officer of the Pacific,

And procured a

Recommendation

To the Secretary of War

For an Exploration

Of the Colorado River.

 

This was subsequently accomplished

With beneficial results–

At least for information.

 

In San Francisco

It was decided

That I should proceed

To Washington,

For the purpose

Of solicitin

 

I’ll just stop here and pretend that I haven’t finished to poem. But at least I can brag about the abab rhyme scheme at the end of the first stanze. On that note, it has now come time to turn…

Left.

Left.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Incongruities & Little Pleasures of Market Street.

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Good Evening:

1. Sometimes, even something so commonplace as a butterfly can look different.

Such as the one fluttering about Market & 8th Streets after my Sunday trip to the Civic Center farmers market. I don’t think this was a lone Monarch butterfly that had gone waaaaay off-course on its northern migration; I suspect this was a butterfly that looks like Monarchs because supposedly the Monarch tastes too unappetizing to certain predators.

But for whatever reason, this particular butterfly chose to orbit my head like a drunken moon for a few seconds, then fluttered off to the strangest and possibly deadliest location for such a critter. The yellow dividing stripes in the middle of Market Street, where it could have gotten killed by a passing automobile even without getting struck. Fortunately, thanks to the arrangement of red lights on Market, the block was empty of cars. I walked into the middle of the street and chased the butterfly from its resting place. It orbited my head like a drunken moon for a few more seconds, then fluttered up into the sky toward the nearest tree.

The other San Franciscans looked at me as if I was nuts and I didn’t care.

2. The aria near noon.

I frequently walk to the City’s Department of Human Resources on business, which takes me along the block of Market Street between 10th and 11th streets. Last week, during one such trip near lunchtime, as I turned onto Market, I spotted a group of four people–all strangers to each other, each stood apart from the rest–with their jaws hanging down as they craned their neck to look upwards at a four story building that houses among other things a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) residential hotel.

I’m a sucker for this sort of thing, so I also looked up.

At which point, the singing began again. Opera. We could not see the woman, but anyone within a hundred yards could her practicing an aria, singing for maybe 15-20 seconds, pausing, singing the same passage again, then singing that passage and continuing with the rest of her song. My guess: a guest artist in town to perform with the SF Opera, but not a big star, so the Opera put her in a nearby residential hotel.

But she was really really good. I just have a feeling that for her next visit they will place her in more luxurious quarters. Which will be too bad for the strangers gathered on the sidewalk that morning to hear something as incongruous as beautiful singing on one of Market Street’s dingier blocks.

Vonn Scott Bair

Someone Notices the Contrast of White on White: Alcatraz. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself)

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Good Evening:

Longtime readers of The San Francisco Scene–Seen! know that I love to express myself by studying monochromatic scenes, especially all-white scenes, to see how subtle differences caused by elements such as shadows can affect the appearance of the subject.

Frankly, almost all of my recent white-on-white pictures don’t quite work–too much color–but I rather favor this one, a scene I discovered during my recent visit to Alcatraz.

Alcatraz Island, January 2015.

Alcatraz Island, January 2015.

Vonn Scott Bair

Things on Walls: Alcatraz. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself)

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Good Morning:

One means by which I have not expressed myself recently consists of the theme “Things on Walls.” Photographed a few examples on Alcatraz recently; here are the more interesting ones. All taken with my point-and-shoot, unedited except for straightening in a few cases.DSCN7078 DSCN7177 DSCN7168 DSCN7190 DSCN7162

 

Vonn Scott Bair

“Trying to Breathe:” The Free Muni Protest @ San Francisco City Hall, 20 January 2015.

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Good Evening:

The City & County of San Francisco currently enjoys one of its frequent booms, and the estimates that the next bust will hit at the end of 2015 have been revised to “sometime in the future,” so the city currently enjoys full coffers. The problem many other cities and states would like to have: what to do with all that dough?

These folks had an idea, and shared it on Tuesday.

Free Muni Protest, San Francisco, 20 January 2015.

Free Muni Protest, San Francisco, 20 January 2015.

San Francisco’s prosperity has come with a serious cost; namely the cost of living in “the city of $4 toast” has famously soared. I keep running into one online article after another directly or indirectly related to the theme of “San Francisco income inequality as proxy for America’s.” For the elderly and disabled, the city has become almost unlivable, and one possible part of the solution consists of free public transit (“Free Muni”).

Protest Organizer Speaking to the Media

Protest Organizers Speaking to the Media

Latecomers to the Protest

Latecomers to the Protest

I don’t know how this will end. I do know that a lot of poor people are getting desperate in this fabulously wealthy city. The next day, no trace of the protest remained, as if it never happened–except for this one graffito I spotted on a nearby trash bin.

Trying to Breathe Stop the Evictions

Trying to Breathe Stop the Evictions

Everything comes back to the evictions. Getting desperate in San Francisco, indeed.

Vonn Scott Bair

Fogset at Seal Rocks, San Francisco, California, 19 January 2015. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity)

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Good Evening:

“It had the potential to be a beautiful sunset, but then the fog rolled in and ruined everything.” Back when I was a beginner San Franciscan, I said the same sort of thing, so I understand and won’t criticize. “Fogsets” (another word of my invention and once again, normal San Franciscans will look at you funny if you say it) require time and practice to learn how to appreciate them.

Seal Rocks at the time I arrived (all pictures taken with my new iPhone 6 Plus):

Seal Rocks, San Francisco, California, 19 January 2015, 4:49:53 p.m.

Seal Rocks, San Francisco, California, 18 January 2015, 4:49:53 p.m.

The iPhone’s camera works very well in these low light conditions. The only weakness I can discern at this time is a very slight blueish cast to the greys. Note how everything appears crystal clear up to about 200 years away and then suddenly you can’t see anything. This is typical of many San Francisco fogs, unlike ones I’ve seen in other parts of the world with a gradually diminishing visibility.

The next picture shows the influence of Japanese watercolor landscapes.

Lone Tree at Seal Rocks, 19 January 2015.

Lone Tree at Seal Rocks, 18 January 2015.

Some of the ruins.

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Two shots of visitors, both natives and tourists. People will come to watch any sunset (so to speak) at Seal Rocks, no matter what the weather or visibility. Especially in this conditions–despite the violence of the waves crashing upon the rocks, overall the scene feels so serene. I also wanted to capture a sense of the tininess of human beings within the context of nature.

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And this is how the rocks appeared when I departed at 5:12 p.m.

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Didn’t take long for everything to vanish, did it?

Vonn Scott Bair

Wordless Wednesday: Fogrise in San Francisco. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity)

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Good Evening:

This view, plus a Sunday, plus the first cup of coffee in hand, feel so good.

Fogrise, San Francisco, CA 18 January 2015.

Fogrise, San Francisco, CA 18 January 2015. Taken with an iPhone 6 Plus.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–“Fogrise” like “grey-set” is a word unique to me. Normal people don’t use it.

San Francisco Snippets, 18 January 2015.

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Good Morning:

The things you hear on the 71 bus (picture taken with an iPhone 6 Plus):

“I’m gonna open a place sells nothing but meat, cheese, and jerky. I’ll call it the Psycho Deli.”

Passengers on the 71 Haight-Noriega, 18 January 2015.

Passengers on the 71 Noriega, 18 January 2015.

“…because I just won’t do something like that.”

“Oh, come on, you have zero ethics.”

“Not true! I will not sell drugs to children who are less than 13 years old, no, 14 years old, I changed that.”

I rather hope they were just joking with each other.

Vonn Scott Bair

“Grey-set,” San Francisco, 17 January 2015. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity)

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Good Evening:

Don’t go around saying “grey-set” the next time you visit San Francisco, just because I wrote it. The natives will look at you as if you’ve gone nuts–just as they look at me when I say it. I’m the only one who does.

Grey-Set I, San Francisco, California, 5:26 p.m., 17 January 2015

Grey-Set I, San Francisco, California, 5:26 p.m., 17 January 2015

This week I finally upgraded from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 6 Plus, and I couldn’t help revisiting favorite haunts to put the phone’s camera through its paces and practice this week’s Photo Challenge. Does it mean anything that I’ve taken over 100 pictures with my cell phone and made only one phone call?

Grey-Set II, San Francisco, California, 5:27 p.m., 17 January 2015.

Grey-Set II, San Francisco, California, 5:27 p.m., 17 January 2015.

Anyway, I travelled to Ocean Beach via the 71 bus, arriving about 1.5-2 miles south of Seal Rocks to test the low light capabilities. With the iPhone 4, such pictures cam out so pixelated that I usually had no choice but to apply graphics software and convert them to “watercolors” or “oils.” Thanks to the larger sensor in the 6 Plus, my photos seem to have a decent chance of remaining photos as long as I can touch them up in iPhoto by adjusting the Exposure, Definition, and Sharpness to get the shots as close to what I remembered seeing.

Grey-Set, San Francisco, California, 5:29 p.m., 17 January 2015

Grey-Set, San Francisco, California, 5:29 p.m., 17 January 2015

This last shot does have something akin to the pixelation of the 4. Interestingly, I took the picture only two minutes after the previous one, which shows how quickly the light changes at sunset and how quickly the landscape turns dark. To make this one as good as it might become will probably require first a crop (I’m thinking about getting rid of some of the beach to emphasize the figure’s tininess against the sea and sky), and then perhaps a conversion with an “oil” filter. So far, I feel quite pleased with the new camera! Oops. Did I write camera? I mean, pleased with the new video player. Oops. Did I write video player? I mean, pleased with the new game console. Oops. Did I write game console? I mean…

…I mean to stop here before I totally embarrass myself.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–Does anyone use a cell phone to make, you know, for lack of a better term, phone calls?

Moonrise, San Francisco. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity)

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Good Morning:

Taken at Duboce Park with my iPhone 4, exploiting its tendency to over-saturate blues and pixelate in low light to create a sort of instant watercolor in response to this week’s Photo Challenge.

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Vonn Scott Bair

White & Blue Series, 11 January 2015. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed)

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Good Evening:

Another addition to another ongoing series. And an addition to this week’s Challenge.

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Vonn Scott Bair

Someone Notices the Contrast of White on White, 12 January 2015. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed)

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Good Evening:

Another in an ongoing series of studies. This is the box that held my new cell phone.

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Although white is hardly my favorite color or non-color, I like to play around with subjects like this, another example where the shadows define the shapes instead of colors and lines.

Vonn Scott Bair

Are the Oregon Ducks Doomed? By Their Uniforms??

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Good Evening:

I hope I don’t get into too much trouble for writing this.

However, whilst preparing my meal for tomorrow’s Oregon vs. Ohio State college football national championship game (homemade 2.5 alarm chili with Arbol, Ancho, Chipotle and Jalapeño Chiles, homemade guacamole, blue corn tortilla chips, cornmeal mush, plus oranges and chocolates for desert, all washed down with Speakeasy’s Payback Porter), something odd occurred to me: Phil Knight might have hurt his team.

The Oregon Fashion Fiascos have become notorious for their wildly extravagant uniforms, designed by Nike, whose founder and CEO Mr. Knight graduated from the school and still loves it madly. They have resorted to bizarre color combinations in the past. Last year they wore green and yellow uniforms with pink helmets for one game–I told my co-worker whose son Chris Siesey will have a huge role in tomorrow’s game that “the correct term they use in sports newscasts is ‘human highlight reel,’ not ‘human highlighters.'” Her team had won that game, so she didn’t beat me up too badly. But that was last year.

Their best game of this year? Florida State, where they wore the green and yellow.

Their worst? The loss to Arizona, where the Costumed Catastrophes wore–I kid thee not–black and silver uniforms with pink helmets.

The uniform colors that Nike has decided that Oregon will wear for their most important game this year? They will wear white–and silver.

Just as they wore silver in their only loss.

This raises questions.

First, why the hickberffle stafflegroff (pardon my language) is a shoe company dictating to the teams what uniforms they will wear?! Should not the universities themselves decide for themselves what they themselves will wear?! How is this not wrong in a zillion different ways?

Second, why will Ohio State wear a uniform that differs only a little from their traditional design, and sticks to the school’s scarlet & grey colors? Incidentally, that color combination looks magnificent on the football field.

Third, green & yellow vs. scarlet & grey would look awesome on television–both teams could wear their home uniforms!

Fourth, why is Mr. Knight, who allegedly loves his alma mater very very much, foisting upon them silver, a color that they wore in their only loss of the current season?

And that’s when I asked myself the question.

Does Phil Knight want Oregon to LOSE the game??

Think about this for a moment. The Unwatchables have faced a week of intense scrutiny every since they had to suspend WR Darren Carrington. Oregon does not need this; aside from losing one of their important players, they get snowed by unwanted media frenzies. And this happened after the uniform unveiling.

Coincidence? Or conspiracy?! Or have the Buckeyes blackmailed Phil Knight??

Anyway, about the game itself. OSU’s Cardale Jones is a really big guy for a quarterback, and might be bigger than any of Oregon’s defensive backs. Surely the Buckeyes have spent the past week looking for ways to spring him into the secondary on quarterback draws and read-option plays, especially if they see the White & Silver (??) playing man coverage. I anticipate a high-scoring game that will stay close until one team pulls away in the fourth quarter and wins by maybe 14 points.

I don’t know which team. But if Oregon loses, you might fairly blame the uniforms.

Vonn Scott Bair

Commuting in San Francisco. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed)

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Good Evening:

Seriously, a lot of people travel to work as does this silhouetted and shadowy figure.

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I have also seen the return of push scooters. Whatever it takes.

Vonn Scott Bair