Results tagged “San Francisco” from kwc blog

APE

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Scott Morse: Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!

m and I went up to San Francisco for APE. Rainy November weather was an odd setting for APE, which was bumped from it's Spring slot by Wondercon. It's only been three months since Comic-Con, so the new timing and weather was a bit of a downer. The big booths were carrying mostly the same stuff as Comic-Con, though I did manage some new finds:

I also purchased some original art from Scott Morse. I commissioned an Obama painting, but after he refused payment (due to it being based on Fairey's print) I took the opportunity to purchase some original art from Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!

Scott Morse: Obama

Sewage Plants

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An SF group called Presidential Memorial has formed with the goal of sponsoring the following ballot initiative:

"Should the City and County of San Francisco rename the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility the George W Bush Sewage Plant?"

I'm against it mainly because the analogy is inappropriate: a sewage plant eliminates crap.

RoboGames 2008

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robogames2008ellingson.jpg

RoboGames: robots attacking robots, bigger and better every year, June 12-15, Fort Mason.

Pinot Days

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pinot daysMany of the events are already sold out, but you can still get your $50 ticket for the July 1st Grand Festival at Pinot Days at Fort Mason (alas, I will be busy moving):

Sunday’s Grand Tasting will showcase 170+ producers of pinot noir. This will be San Francisco’s largest single gathering of pinot producers ever. Consumers will be able to sample up to 400 pinots from every important region in California, Oregon, New Zealand and Burgundy.

...This year we will feature three different Focus Tastings, The Best of Anderson Valley, 2004 and 2005 Rosella's and Pisoni Comparison and The Best of Sonoma COast and Russian River Valley. Below are the details of the three Focus Tastings.

Pinot Days

85 Galaxies

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85 Galaxies

Frank Chu's sign now sports 85 Galaxies. What oh what will 12 Galaxies do?

via SFist, photo credit: impeach

Robogames 2007 Videos Part II

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RoboGames.jpgSome more video from Robogames in San Francisco. This time around there's robot hockey, Crab-Fu's awesome steam robots, and an instance of Uncanny Valley

RoboGames.jpgSparks, shrapnel, robots sent flying, and smoke: keep reading if these interest you. I went to Robogames in San Francisco for the closing day and watched robots all the way from 1 pound up to 340 pounds compete. Robots were knocked out of the ring. One robot had all four of its wheel systematically sliced off. Others just battered each other repeatedly. Great fun.

When: Fri-Sun, June 15-17, 2007, Noon - 10pm
Where: Fort Mason, San Francisco
Cost: $20, $15/kids 7-17

RoboGames is the world's largest open robot competition (even the Guinness Book of World Records says so!) We invite the best minds from around the world to compete in over 70 different events. Combat robots, walking humanoids, soccer bots, sumo bots, and even androids that do kung-fu. Some robots are autonomous, some are remote controlled - but they're all cool!

I went to this event back when it was called Robolympics (the 'Olympics' sued them for a name change, not sure how that works). It was a lot of fun and should offer even more robot-grinding action than Maker Faire. To whet your appetite, here's some old entries from Robolympics days:

APE 2007

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I try to make it to APE every year so I can buy some indie comics from the creators themselves and find stuff that would often fall below the radar at my local comic shop. There are panels -- this year included Art Spiegelman -- but I find that I really only have energy to do those once a year at Comic-Con. This mostly makes APE a shopping experience for me, so without further ado, here's what I shopped for:

Ancient Book of Myth and War

This was the only item I went in intending to buy. It is a themed art book that Pixarians Scott Morse, Lou Romano, Don Shank, and Nate Wragg put together. I had read about it on Scott Morse's blog and figured that at least Morse would be in attendance. It turned out even better than expected as Morse, Shank, and Romano were all on hand to do free sketches (in the case of Morse, a painting) in the inside cover. The result is pretty awesome:

AncientBookOfMythAndWar.Morse.Romano.Shank.500.jpg

A great book and what you see above for only $20.

Kitosan Tea . an Eastern Beauty Tea Brewing Instruction Book

I know a fair bit about tea already, but this clever packaging of a tea bag was too good to pass up. Contained within is a single tea bag plus cute illustrations that take you through the proper steps for brewing tea, including how to brew the same leaves up to four times. I don't see how you can order them online, but I'm sure if you e-mail her arrangements could be made (only about $5). Afterworks 2 features the story of Kitosan.

Too Much Coffee Man

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Friends of mine are fans of the book and I couldn't go yet-another APE without buying an issue -- I was lured by the Too Much Coffee Man guitar picks.

Gallery Nucleus/Christopher Appelhans: Last of the Unicorns shirt

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Who knew unicorns could be so big, ugly, and cute? I picked one of these shirts up for d.

Super7 T-Shirt

Super7 had at least 3 t-shirts I wanted. I ended up going with an camo-silhouette of a AT-ST, Star Wars dork that I am (not listed on Web site right now). I almost got the Star Wars spaceship lineup or the Godzilla lineup instead (also not listed on Web site).

Kazu Sketch

left: APE 2007 sketch, right: Comic-Con 2007 Amulet sketch

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Kazu Kibuishi of Flight/Daisy Kutter/Copper fame does amazing sketches. I didn't buy anything this time around as I pretty much own everything, but Kazu was kind enough to do this sketch and also let me read through an Amulet draft -- there were some amazing pages in there (as expected). Amulet is an epic effort for Kazu. Book 1 will come out in Spring 2008 and will weigh in at 200+ pages. If I recall correctly, five whole books are planned, though Scholastic has only committed to two so far.

Bean's Song (Book 1)

This was one of those books that just caught my eye. Artist Travis Hanson was working on inking a print, it caught my eye, and next thing you know I have a book to read. It is an illustrated novel (think Stardust). Book 2 is coming out in a couple weeks, so if I like what I read I'll have even more to read. I was told by a Super-Con organizer that Travis Hanson will be there.

Fremont Athletics? Santa Clara 49ers?

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Update: Olympic fallout - SF drops bid for 2016 Olympics

What a weird week of sports moves for the Bay Area: A's, Cisco, reach deal to build ballpark in Fremont and 49ers tell San Francisco mayor they plan to move (to Santa Clara or elsewhere). What will the new team names be? Fremont and Santa Clara just aren't that cool. They are also closer to San Jose than they are their former hosts, though I know that the South Bay is legally SF Giants territory. A map of the proposed Santa Clara site is below (hey -- light rail!). 

Unti + Zazie = Good

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d and I went up to SF last night for two tasty things: an Unti Vineyards dinner at Zazie's. Zazie's is a popular brunch spot, but for whatever reason they cooked up this wonderful pairing:

First Course

Baby arugula salad w/pomegranate seeds, toasted almonds, chevre, and raspberry champagne vinaigrette
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2005 Rose
Notes: This grenache rose was smoother than others I've had, less acidic, which I enjoyed. The salad was a bit too dainty to enjoy all the flavors together.

Second Course

Wild mushroom and black truffle fresh raviolis w/aged parmesan
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2003 Grenache (Library selection)
Notes: mmmmm, black truffles raviolis in truffle oil...

Third Course

Duck legs braised with red wine and port, dried plums, and black currants
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2004 Sangiovese
Notes: Some people were mixed on this tasting -- one couple thought the Sangiovese too alcohol-y -- but I thought that a strong taste was necessary to stand up to gamey duck.

Fourth Course

Slow braised Niman Ranch beef shanks w/soft mascarpone chive polenta
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2003 Syrah 'Benchland' Reserve
Notes: the polenta was creamy like mashed potatoes, which makes me actually like polenta. The Benchland reserve was the wine that my dad and I picked up two bottles of on our way back from Garberville.

Dessert

Guittard chocolate torte w/whipped dark chocolate ganache and creme anglaise
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2004 Banyuls Grenache (barrel sample)
*Notes: d notes that the torte was the Platonic Form of a Cadbury cream egg. This is in fact high praise. The Banyuls Grenache was a dry grape grenache batch rescued with water, sugar and brandy. *

I missed out on getting Unti's Barbera Port, which sold out far too quickly, so I enjoyed getting the opportunity to sample their unreleased Banyuls Grenache. Why is it that wine gone bad can taste so good? Mick Unti also poured a wine they will be bottling in December -- I had too many glasses at that point to remember they were calling it. It will be Unti's first $45 wine, but they are just that proud of it.

We were in the 'fun' corner on the patio. Mick Unti came over to eat a course with our three tables; he made a graceful exit after several conversation topics may have turned him various shades of scarlet.

I'm still chuckling over the John Hodgman Areas of My Expertise talk at Codys SF. Some of you may already be aware that musician Jonathan Coulton accompanies Hodgman for his talks. I've never seen a book talk with an opening theme song and musical accompaniment, but I am now convinced it is a practice that should be adopted by every author. He is also the only author I have seen talk a brandy break (necessary due to the performance nature of his talk) as well as use walkie-talkies to do the Q&A (which works, for a bit).

Hodgman riffed on Benjamin Franklin, hoboes, Big Rock Candy Mountain, and more. If I didn't know better, I would think that Hodgman had been hanging out with metamanda, though I don't think she is nearly as knowledgeable about the Mall of America.

With the help m, who offered his tripod, I managed to shoot much more watchable video this time around.

Update: here's the video for the first half of the talk. After this, Hodgman and Coulton took a brandy break and then did Q&A. I only have a bit of the Q&A, which was hilarious in itself.

This is as much of the Q&A as I could record:

John Hodgman at Codys SF

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Tonight, schedule permitting, I shall say Alas for Joy, as John Hodgman will be at Cody's on Stockton Street in SF. Anyone else interested in heading up?

Dry Ice-3 Dry Ice-6

The Exploratorium is as much fun for my camera as it is for me. The optical effects and cool experiments that are candy for your eyes are just as fun to get on film. They have a table there that small bits of dry ice get dropped on every couple minutes. There is a small amount of liquid on the table, so the pieces of dry ice dance around the table and create little miniature hurricanes. You can checkout some more tiny dry ice swirl and other Exporatorium exhibit photos on Flickr.

Exporatorium-4 Exporatorium-3 Exporatorium-2 Exploratorium-1

I also got some more photos of Liz Hickok's San Francisco in Jello-O. This time around, she had done a model of the Palace of Fine Arts and Marina.

Jello SF 2-2 Jello SF 2-5 Jello SF 2-3

Reconsidered Materials at the Exploratorium

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Reconsidered Materials-Silk waves Reconsidered Materials-01 Reconsidered Materials-Exodus

Reconsidered Materials Styrofoam Hummer Reconsidered Materials-Fossil Fueled Reconsidered Materials - Rubber Horses-1 Reconsidered Materials-Quilt

There's something about an art show at the Exploratorium that just works really well. Perhaps it's the fact that it's hard to tell the difference between the art pieces and the Exploratorium exhibits (hint: the art pieces came wtih pink labels). Perhaps it's the fact that a mostly adult crowd gets unleashed in a children-oriented museum to play. Whatever the reason, I hope that there are more shows at the Exploratorium. At least this year, while I'm a member.

I became a member as a result of the very, very long line out front. I don't know if it was the Jello SF posting on BoingBoing, a summoning of the Burning Man crowd, or what, but there were a lot of people at the Reconsidered Materials exhibit. Far more than the Exploratorium planned for. They were offering memberships as a way to get to the front of the hour long line, but I resisted as there was no way to get all three of us in on one membership. Or at least I didn't think there was until I talked to the possibly inebriated museum staff. It was a good night for the Exploratorium.

Jello SF was the reason I was there and it didn't disappoint, though we were surprised by how small it was. I guess we didn't take time to think that the artist was doing SF piece-by-piece. The piece that she made for the exhibition was in the Twin Peaks neighborhood and was at a slightly smaller scale than the downtown model. The artist's mom was there to hold a container of dry ice fog over the entire model while it was regularly given earthquake simulations.

There were eighteen installations and I particularly enjoyed the full-size styrofoam Humvee (American Detritus), the blanket pigeons (Exodus), the quilted tea bags (The Quilt), and the Rubber Horses, all of which you'll find photos of in the flickr photoset. I also liked Arp Forms and Strobe Flower, which I've posted movies of below (I forgot to take a movie of Jello SF). Arp Forms was a mixture of corn starch inside of a vibrating cup that caused the corn starch to congeal up into a blobular, dancing form. Strobe Flower was a plastic bag hooked up to a variable speed motor and a strobe -- you could put your finger into it to push it into different forms. click on the photos to access the movies, apologies for rotated strobe flower movie:

Reconsidered Materials-Arp Forms Reconsidered Materials-Strobe Flower

See also: horizonline's and m's posts from the exhibition

Upcoming

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With the exception of Wondercon, I'm pretty sure I'll be going to all of these events. Wondercon is relatively close to Valentine's Day, which the organizers don't seem to consider a scheduling conflict.

Friday, Feburary 3 from 7-9pm: San Francisco in Jello at the Exploratorium (one night only as part of the Reconsidered Materials exhibit)

Monday, February 6 at 7:00 p.m.: Douglas Hofstadter at Stanford

Friday, Feburary 10 to Sunday, February 12: Wondercon at the Moscone Center

Sunday, February 19 at 10:00AM: Tour of California Prologue, San Franscico Individual Time Trial

Tuesday, February 21 at ~noon-3PM: Tour of California Stage 2, Martinez to San Jose

Wednesday, February 22 from 11:00AM-2PM: Tour of California Stage 3, San Jose Individual TIme Trial

Corteo

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corteoI always wondered what the large blue and yellow tent was near SBC/Pac Bell Park, and now I know. We spent our New Year's Eve inside that tent watching Cirque du Soleil's Corteo, which is a "a festive parade imagined by a clown." Unlike everyone else I went with, I don't have prior Cirque shows to compare against. I did go to Teatro Zinzanni this month for a company holiday party, which was a fun acrobatic dinner theater experience, but the scale and type of entertainment was entirely different. Zinzanni is a fun way to watch some impressive individual juggling and acrobatics up close, while also seeing your bosses used as embarrassing props. Corteo is a barrage of acrobatic performance, with people spinning up into the air on chandeliers, combined trapeze and trampoline, and humans turned into spinning discs inside of cyr rings.

It was impressive and had thumbs up from everyone I went with. It didn't get a #1 Cirque show rating -- d preferred La Nouba at Disney World and Jed preferred Varekai. The common complaint was that the acts each started with a bang but ended comparatively weakly -- they didn't save the best for last.

The remaining San Francisco shows are probably sold out, but you should be able to see it in San Jose if you're interested (Corteo tickets).

Treasure Island being redeveloped

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treasure.island.plan.jpgd knows I'm interested in SF's Treasure Island -- last year she showed me another class' studio where there were maps of Treasure Island GIS data and development ideas that I wanted to rip off the wall and run away with... I'm strange enough to find such things very cool. It's a good thing that I didn't steal all their work: d just forwarded me an article that says those proposals may become a reality: Towers, farm seen for Treasure Island: Self-sustaining neighborhood of 5,500 residences proposed.

SF bike ride

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On Sunday, bp, d, joy, ota and I went on a ride from the 4th and King Caltrain station in San Francisco to Sausalito. Along the way we passed by the Folsom Street Fair (heralded by naked man on bike), the new de Young museum building, and the Golden Gate Bridge. We ate lunch in Sausalito, drank wine, got ice cream, and then took the ferry past Alcatraz back to the Market St terminal. The weather was oddly terrific -- it was the weather I had been waiting for all summer.

I highly recommend the ride -- the more adventurous can do an additional leg from Sausalito to Tiburon and catch the ferry there. Make sure you know the bike lanes in SF: I failed to print out a map and we had some additional adventurous path finding as a result.

The photos from the trip were a bit of sadness to go through -- I had my camera set on ISO 800 by accident, so they are all pretty noisy. I can always take similar photos on later trips, but having to wait for such great weather again might take awhile.

San Francisco-07 de Young Alcatraz San Francisco-01 Alcatraz San Francisco-06

San Francisco-11

Play: Wicked

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wickedWe saw Wicked last night at the Orpheum in SF last night. As pqbon noted, it shares very little in common with Wicked, the Gregory Maguire book. This is a good thing, as I didn't like the book very much. The characters are similar, but the stories are different in that the play has a story and the book does not. Instead of just biographically following Elphaba, Wicked Witch of the West, the play elevates the character of Glinda, Good Witch of the North. Elphaba and Glinda play against each other throughout -- green vs. blonde, talent vs. hack, 'good' vs. 'wicked' -- creating plenty of opportunities for dueling musical numbers throughout.

I am biased: I own the movie and haven't read the original books, so I imagine Oz to be a technicolor world where it's normal to break out into song and dance in perfect synchrony with random strangers. Like the movie, the play is a rich extravaganza full of music, special effects, and expensive set pieces. A large mechanical dragon clock hovers over the stage, monkeys with wings climb up the back of the stage, and rigs drop in from above the stage.

The music is pop and some is perhaps too cheesy, but it's all done in a spirit of fun and humor. The conclusion to the first act of the play is the bombastic high point of the play; with my limited experience attending plays I can easily state that I have not seen nearly as elaborate in a play before. The second act wasn't as impressive to me, but I enjoyed watching the improved story through to the end to see what final twists and inversions it spun on the Oz universe.

Link roundup

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de Young

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Neil and I went to go see the under-construction de Young, which was designed by Pritzker-prize-winning architects Herzog and de Meuron. It's right in the heart of Golden Gate Park and sits on an odd juxtaposition of architectural styles (all three photos taken from the same spot):

photo photo photo

tea garden, de Young, Music Concourse

The surrounding area is being redesigned by Walter Hood and has a lot of potential to become an interesting public space with all the open space that the Music Concourse provides -- it may end up being a nice, relaxing place to spend your day in the park. (more about the museum and landscape design).

As for the de Young itself, I'm of mixed opinion. I like the fact that the color of the building tries its best to blend with the surrounding landscape, but it seems that Herzog and de Meuron designed the building with bright blue skies in mind, rather than the grey overcast that dominates that part of San Francisco. From the artist renderings it also appears that they intended for it to have more of a red-coppery presence at the start than it actually does -- I'm sure the sun would bring out a little more of the color, but the sketches were far more bright than the building could ever be. After 15 years, though, they do expect the building finish to be much duller. I posted some of my photos from the site on Flickr:

de Young-34

APE 2005

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APE 2005 (Alternative Press Expo) was a good warmup for Comic-Con: < 1/10th the size, ~ 1/10th the cost, ~ 1/10th the time. It's also a good time to give more love to the indies that generally look a lot more lonely during the full-scale Comic-Con.

I picked up a print, a poster, and a t-shirt, and got a sketch from each artist that I purchased something from. My favorite item is a PETA-be-damned "How to Create a Fighting Machine" poster print by Jared Purrington, which is a visual instruction manual for turning a roll of tape, a knife, and a hamster into your own instrument of death (update: jwz did a scan of the cartoon). Purrington's sketch for me can be viewed as a sort-of appendix:

purrington

I also picked up a samurai rabbit shirt ("The Cursed" by Duzty) (no, not Usagi/Sakai). Haven't read the comic, as there is not much posted online yet.

duzty

My last item is a print by Attaboy, which looks like this without the text. This is a quick sketch he did for me, which is appropriately twisted:

attaboy

Gallery Nucleus had a bunch of stuff that I wanted, but did not have the fund$$$ for, so I thought I would buy their stuff online instead. I made the mistake of not getting this "Ninja in the Snow" piece, which is $50 instead of the $20 I could have paid.

SF salt beds

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I love it when my flight into the Bay Area takes me over the salt beds in the South Bay -- the color from the air is so brilliant, and each 'tile' of water is so distinct. They're not quite as impressive when viewed from the ground, partly because of the rotten aroma, though it is interesting to see the salt caked up on the retaining walls when you cross the Dumbarton Bridge.

I finally took the time to lookup more information about these salt beds and found out that they were started by Cargill Salt over a century ago, and many are still in active use today. The Cargill Web site has a brief virtual tour that explains some of the process of converting Bay water into the salt product.

In 2003, many of the salt beds were bought by the state/federal government to be turned back into wildlife refuge. The John Cang Photography site has a photo essay that shows the potential future of these salt beds, juxtaposing wildlife in the salt beds with the same wildlife enjoying the Palo Alto Baylands Preserve.

I also grabbed two images, one from Keyhole and the other from Cargill's site that you can compare. The shaded blue represents salt beds that are now under refuge status.

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credit A Whole Lotta Nothing for reminding me of the topic (though his WAG may have a couple inaccuracies)

Castro Halloween pics

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fireI posted some of my Castro Street Halloween pics to my Flickr. You can witness the massive crowds, ln m's Incredible teammates, and tranquility. However, I think the best costume prize has to go to Team America -- they had the whole squad, even Kim Jong Il.

I have to say, given all the stories involving stabbings and puke and other bodily functions associated with Castro Halloween, things were pretty tame, though really crowded. I hear that the city took over control, and if so I guess I'll never get to witness the true splendor :).

TMobile 2004 Photos

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I got back all my photos from the T-Mobile race. Unfortunately, my first roll was ruined by stale film, but there's still more than enough photos to surf through. All the more reason for me to get a Digital Canon Rebel.

T-Mobile 2004 Photos (127 photos)

Note: none of the timestamps for the 35mm film photos are correct, though I did try to approximately place them so that the flow of the photos would be reasonable. If you're sharp enough to be able to tell the difference (hint: digital photos are blurry) then you can gauge the time correctly.

For reference, US Postal's number assignments:

12 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus)
13 Jose Azevedo (Por)
14 Michael Creed (USA)
15 Pavel Padrnos (Cze)
16 George Hincapie (USA)
17 Jose Rubiera (Spa)
18 Benjamin Noval (Spa)

SF Bike Race 2k4

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I got in a lot of sports watching this weekend. I got to see USC beat up Colorado State 49-0, and the Redskins defense beatdown the Bucs 16-10 (the offense was a bit lacking). The biggest event of the weekend, though, was watching this year's T-Mobile International (Al and Jill came along, which was great, because I'd never been able to convince anyone to go with me before). As always, the race provided a very exciting finish.

It was a bit of the old and new in this year's race. Armstrong did not start for the first time, and the free "Go Lance!" signs were missing (sad, because I really wanted to get a 6x sign to go with my 4x and 5x signs). The US Postal merchandise tents seemed eager to be dumping old merchandise and was selling 4x and 5x champion gear at a discount.

Previous winners Chris Horner and Charles Dionne were back, but with Horner's Saturn team now defunct, and with Dionne perennially vying for a new contract every September, both were now racing for the local Webcor team.

With three laps to go, everyone (including myself) had thought that the US Olympian Jason McCartney had won it all -- he had a lead of over 4:30, which with 15 miles to go seemed unassailable. When you're watching the riders go by, a 4:30 lead seems like a gigantic distance, especially when the Muni officials are able to let six trolley cars safely cross the race course in-between the leader and the next rider.

US Postal pulled riders back from chase groups and formed an alliance with Webcor to chase McCartney down, but their coordinated pace still did not seem quick enough as McCartney took 1:30 lead into the final lap.

Horner did the pulling for Dionne, and Dionne launched a killer attack on the Taylor hill, which became McCartney's undoing. Hincapie, despite all the efforts of his US Postal teammates, didn't have it in him to give chase, and only Fred Rodriguez gave any pursuit (after wasting time trying to recruit others to help chase).

I got to see Dionne and Rodriguez come around the final bend, and the gap was simply too much to be chased down, so Dionne became the first rider to ever win the SF race twice.

I was amazed to listen to Rodriguez's interview after the race, in which he talked about his crash during the race and mentioned that after the crash he couldn't use his left leg to pedal anymore. So not only did he catch back up to the pursuit group after getting his bike replaced and seat adjusted on the fly, but he was also the only person to give chase to Dionne at the end and did so with only one leg working. It's easy to see why he's the US pro cycling champion.

Dionne repeats as T-Mobile champ

Photo of the Day: Rock

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photo

There is a store in J-Town that sells large rocks on stands. They are very pretty rocks, and some of them even look like Sumi-e paintings.

Harry Potter

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harry with broom
I spotted this statue about the same time another woman did. That woman proceeded to pose next to the statue and have her family snap pictures with her grabbing Harry's... broom... It was either meta or rcp that noted that children were present.

J-Town

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pagodaI made my first trip ever to Japantown, which seems rather long in coming. There were a couple of stores that made it a fun visit, including the bookstore and the convenience store, but overall it was a bit of a disappointment. Japantowns across the US are suffering as there are only three remaining (SF, San Jose, LA), and all of them are in California. I read an article once describing the problem, and one cause that was speculated was that Japanese ownership in Japantown was very low; unlike Chinese descendents and Chinatown, Japanese descendents have not been strongly been interested in maintaining their presence in Japantown. Regardless of causes, Japantown just doesn't feel very... Japanese. There wasn't much there that I couldn't buy at my local Nijiya grocery store or at a comic book store. Perhaps someone who is Chinese will reply to tell me that Chinatown doesn't feel very Chinese either :).

I cool thing that meta did there was get her cellphone engraved by a guy who sits at a table in front of the bookstore. I've posted photos of this in the extended entry. It only took about five minutes, and now the front of her phone is covered with little goldfish and the back has a large tiger. Very neat. We're wondering if the engraver will also iPods and laptops. I might be able to get some cool dragons swirling around the touch wheel.

I've also posted some more attempts at pagoda photos in the extended entry.

Robolympics photos

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As promised, photos from the Robolympics. I've posted a couple here, there are more in the extended entry.

03-22-04.robolympics-09.jpg 03-22-04.robolympics-11.jpg

Robolympics

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I made it over to the ROBOlympics for several hours today. It was lots of dorky fun. There were some exciting robots fights, with plenty of sparks and metal flying, much more than I actually expected. I was hoping to capture a photo of sparks flying, but my digital camera couldn't cope with the high-speed action, and I also ran out of batteries.

(I will try to add photos to the descriptions in the entry when I get a chance.)

The coolest robots I thought were the Japanese bipedal robots, which look a lot like Japanime robots (photo). There were the lamest in terms of fighting, as they usually fell over under their own weight, and their punches were more for show than force, but they made up for their lack of fighting ability with style. Imagine one-two foot tall robots fighting it out as in a Japanese anime. There were taunting moves, flexing, 'power-ups,' waves, bows, somersaults, and headstands, and the robots could stand up on their own when they fell (which was pretty frequent). When the fights ended, it was usually a chance for the winning robot would usually do some winning pose/move.

I didn't fully understand how they worked, but each robot had one person with a fairly basic remote control, and it also appeared that there was another person controlling the robot using a laptop. I heard one person quote that they cost $7000 a piece, which sounds right for how much probably goes into those things.

There was also the more traditional battlebots-style contests. The wedge robot contests tended to be more than a bit boring, as it involve one robot driving around with the other on top of it for two minutes, though there were some wedge robots that were capable of flipping the other robot pretty high into the air. There was one robot that I liked, even though it lost, called Cyclone, which was a large spinning disc. When it moved you could see all the dirt/metal dust move away from force of it spinning. Vicious Circle out-manuevered it, though, and managed to dismantle Cyclone with a spinning blade.

The Mike Tyson of the robots had to be The Judge. It took out No Apologies with a single, pnuematic-driven blow. One blow, and No Apologies just sat there with a fist-sized dent in its top.

I also liked the Locust, which is a basically a buzzsaw with wheels. Despite getting thrown up into the lexan glass surrounding the stage, it managed to keep tearing large chunks out of its competitor until it couldn't take anymore.

My only disappointment was not seeing any of the flame-based robots, but there was only so many hours of robot fighting I could watch before I wanted to go home and rest up from last night :).

Robolympics

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I'm such a dork, but I definitely want to stop by the Robolympics tomorrow. Here are the event listings. They have robosoccer, robot combat, robot sumo, robots fighting with fire, and much more.

Protest sign chique

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meta and I stopped by the Iraq War anniversary protests today (sadly, San Francisco didn't get a mention in many of the news reports). There were probably a couple thousand people in Dolores Park, but nowhere near the one million estimated in Rome.

Political commentary aside, this was a good opportunity to observe cleverness in sign-making, so I snapped several photos that I may post on Monday. We were too lazy to march with the crowd to the Civic Center, where the actual rally was to take place, so we had to make do with the creativity that could be observed close by.

My favorite sign by far was a man holding a sign that said, "I COULD USE A DATE -- BRING THE TROOPS HOME." That's like the Scrabble triple word score of sign making.

My second favorite was the seemingly ironic, "I HATE CROWDS." The irony was ruined when we saw the back of the sign, which said something like "So get Bush out of office so I can go home." I would have preferred the sign in pure ironic form, but this was a antiwar protest.

meta enjoyed the grammer-dorky, "WHO'S BEEN TERRORIZING WHOm," ('m' squeezed in as an afterthought).

There was also one hot dog vendor showing great business skills. Most likely in preparation for the protest, he had his menu printed up with the header "Dogs of Mass Destruction," with renamed menu items "Nuke Dogs" and "Scud Dogs." This was a smart recognition of his clientele, though meta pointed out that he would do even better had he added tofu dogs to the menu.

Of the pure anti-Bush signs, some slogans I liked were:
* "Re-Defeat Bush"
* "IMPEACH THE DIM SON"
* "I am the worstest president in American history"

Kona Shores

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honeyfields, meta, and I stumbled upon Kona Shores, which sells Lappert's Ice Cream in the Haight. The store is only three months old, but honeyfields knows the owner from a store he used to own in North Berkeley. I haven't had Lappert's since I was in Maui for meta's marathon, and the Kona Shores owner mixed me up a nice combination of Maui Mango ice cream, strawberries, and mandarin oranges on a cold slab that was pretty yummy. I liked it better than the ice cream I got at Cold Stone Creamery, which was a little too heavy for my tastes. So if you've had a hankering for Hawaiian ice cream and haven't found any in San Francisco, or you want free wireless Internet access, you can check it out (at the corner of Masonic and Haight).

SF Blackout

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Book: You Shall Know Our Velocity

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I finished reading Dave Egger's You Shall Know Our Velocity a couple weeks back and I've finally taken the time to finish my post on it. I really liked AHBWOSG, partly because of the familiarity of the Bay Area it describes, and mostly because of his fast-paced, kinetic rants that have the ability to pull you through ten pages in ten seconds, all the while you're holding the book tighter and tighter and closer to your face, completely caught up in the flow.

While YSKOV is also full of the expected kinetic sections, what I enjoyed most about it was the way that Egger's plays with our expectations and interpretations throughout the story. He's willing to experiment with the format and concept of the book and derives great value from it. Take the first sentence for example: "Everything takes place after Jack died and before my mom and I drowned in a burning ferry in the cool tannin-tinted guaviare river, in east-central Colombia, with forty-two locals we hadn't yet met."

He also throws in plenty of dialogues, monologues, and themes that I found hilarious, some of which I have managed to transcribe below.

T-Mobile International

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I spent all day at the T-Mobile International bike race in San Francisco. The main attractions were Armstrong, Vinokourov, Simoni, and Garzelli. However, despite all this star power (which is awesome to see in an American race), it was the local teams that came to play. Armstrong, suffering from a stomach flu, dropped out after 50 miles, and Saeco largely stayed under the radar. It did appear that Telekom was trying to do it's sponsor right and placed riders in the main breakaway groups, but Saturn managed to deliver an excellent one two punch with McCormack (current US champion) and Horner each attacking on the final laps.

Horner, who suffered a flat tire bridging up to the breakaway group, took on a tire from the Mavic neutral support car and quickly caught the leaders. McCormack then attacked, was reeled in, and then quickly followed by an attack from Horner. Horner's attack turned out to be the last as he was able to build up a sizable lead and cruise to victory. McCormack also attacked again and sat in the second place position.

US Postal managed to launch a last minute attempt by Ekimov to try and catch McCormack, but it was too little too late. Compared to last year, US Postal looked very disorganized and never controlled the pace, except for a single lap where Armstrong took control of the pace... and then promptly dropped out. With Tour riders Hincapie, Landis, CheChu, Beltran, and Heras serving duty in the Vuelta, and at least two riders (Armstrong, Padrnos, and possibly one other) dropping out, this was about all that could be expected. It was impressive to see Ekimov motoring around Embarcadero Plaza, and it's too bad that he couldn't steal the day.

- Horner and Cooke win in San Francisco (Velonews)
- Race Summary Minute-by-Minute
- cyclingnews.com Race Summary

Update: added cyclingnews summary, and I also wanted to note (now that I've watched my TiVo recording of the event) that Armstrong predicted Horner to win the race while being interviewed at the start of the race. Not bad.

Flight of the Camcorder

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This is the only photo from dorkbot I felt like posting, I like it because it looks like the camcorder is flying towards the screen, and there's also a neat picture-in-picture effect:

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SF Grand Prix

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I'm excited - I got to see Lance Armstrong race for the first time in my life. He didn't win, but the race was still a blast and he put in a good effort. Armstrong quotes at the end of the race said that it was basically a race of attrition, and he wasn't able to put enough distance on Charles Dionne on the final hills. Lance was pretty much stunned that Dionne won the race; it was pretty much "Charles who?" IMHO, Charles Dionne cherry picked his was to the race win. I didn't see him pulling ever, though that might be my bias.

I also got to see Robin Williams. Some stupid PR person decided that it would be a good idea to give the super-rich Robin Williams a Saturn. Robin Williams responded as best he could: "[the Saturn] will go nice in my garage, and its cheap" Gary Fisher and some Olympic athletes were also there to do a quick short lap race.

Quote of the Day

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I took viagra before the race... I should be able to race hard and long
- Robin Williams, SF Grand Prix