A lovely evening

I left work at a reasonable hour this evening to meet up with Jane at Mission High. We had tickets to Voices of a People's History. Imagine a high school auditorium packed to the brim, all eyes and ears towards the stage, with an all-star line-up of Howard Zinn, Anthony Arnove, Benjamin Bratt, Josh Brolin, Diane Lane, Renee Maria Saucedo (local community leader), Boots Riley (hip-hop artist and activist), Clarence Thomas (an ILWU leader), and Kerry Washington. Each person would take a turn reading a passage from a writing or speech by a historical radical figure, ranging from the 16th Century to this decade. The Stairwell Sisters, a local old-time string band, played a couple fitting numbers, easily rocketing into position as one of my favorite local bands. Mary Elizabeth Lease's "Wall Street Owns the Country" piece (from 1890) on Wall Street, foreclosures, and loan sharks is eerily appropriate today, especially in the past year; how little we've progressed in the past century? And did Muhammad Ali really speak out against the Vietnam War a year before Martin Luther King, Jr., did?

Buzzing from the performance, we decided it was time to find some dinner. Since it was a Thursday, I suggested Mission Street Food. Jane was unconvinced, wanting to stick with something tried and true. But then we ran into Luke and Sally, who were raving about their meal there, particularly the red hot banana ice cream, despite the 75-minute wait and dish shortages. So off we were, and we were seated at a community table after not too long. Unfortunately they were out of the acorn soup, but the big winners for us were a couple of their classics: "King Trumpet Mushroom with Triple Fried Potato, Garlic Confit and Charred Scallion Sour Cream on a fresh flatbread" and a smoky & spicy fried rice with duck. We tried both of the Humphry Slocombe ice creams. We really need to go to the parlor and try some other flavors!

Afterwards, we strolled home. And now time to work some more!

My ride to end AIDS

I wanted to let you all know I've registered for the AIDS/Lifecycle Ride! It's a 7-day, 545-mile organized bike ride from SF to LA in the first week of June. No matter how you look at it, this ride is at least an order of magnitude more intense than any ride I've ever done before. The longest day is over 100 miles of riding! I've been wanting to do this for nearly as long as I've lived here but previously couldn't afford to, for one reason or another -- usually not enough vacation time or some major pending project. This year the stars aligned, plus another co-worker was also interested, so we're reinforcing each other. I'm really excited! I've already started training, and even those rides have been plenty fun.

I'm riding to support the SF AIDS Foundation, who provide many services to the community to prevent the transmission of HIV and offer help to those who are HIV+. I'd really appreciate it if you could sponsor me! I have a personal goal of raising $3000. Donations are tax-deductible as the SF AIDS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Please help however much you can.

Stay tuned for updates here as I train for the ride.

Super Bowl XLIII

I got home yesterday from a bike ride with a few minutes of game time before halftime. I was looking forward to Bruce's performance, but not long after I tuned in, I saw James Harrison's 100-yard interception return. What a great way to close the half and lead into the Boss. The E Street Band put on a wonderful show with "10th Avenue Freeze-Out," "Born to Run," "Working on a Dream" (a new song), and closing with "Glory Days." I have to say that I've been pretty hit-or-miss with watching Super Bowls over the years, but this seemed like a top-notch halftime performance, and the nail-biting/roller-coaster second half was hard to beat, in my limited experience.

*tap tap tap* Is this thing still on?

Hey, everybody! It's been more than a year since I last posted and even longer since I posted with any regularity. I feel like I've lost touch with many friends, so I thought I'd give this another shot. I've started using a RSS aggregator recently, so that has helped me keep organized and maintain some momentum in reading blogs.

A lot has happened in the last year or two, and even the last few weeks have seemed sometimes tumultuous, other times momentous. My personal most memorable events for 2008 included a trip to India with my mom -- I'll have to make a post about that sometime soon -- and running my first half-marathon, which seemed like quite an accomplishment considering that I struggled running a whole mile during junior high.

Here's to a better 2009!

Strike! (aka Happy May Day!)

May Day is quite a big deal this year in San Francisco. Maybe it normally is -- as SF is home to many immigrants and leftists, all of whom (correctly) celebrate Labor Day on the 1st of May -- but I wouldn't know, it's my first year here. But this year, a mid-term election year, Congress and the nation have had some fierce debate regarding immigration, undocumented workers, and H.R. 4437 (the Sensenbrenner Bill). California is home to millions of immigrants, so LA, SF, Oakland, and other cities have had marches and rallies to keep Congress from tearing apart families and communities. Today's rallies mark San Francisco's third in the last month.

Yesterday I took pictures of flyers along 24th St. and neighboring parts of Mission St. It's amazing how many businesses are participating in the strike and how many more support the boycott. Even the Popeye's had flyers, and I thought that was unusual, but then I saw that the McDonald's had elected to close for May Day! Reports indicate that the Mission District is mostly shut down today and that schools are lightly attended. I haven't seen so many American flags since right after 9/11.

Meanwhile, the San Jose Mercury News prints an article that seems to reference A Day Without a Mexican. The conservative reader comments linked off that article are particularly scary.

Quite a charged day.


This Week in SF

On Monday I got stuck in an elevator. I was riding up when the power cut out briefly, trapping me between the 3rd and 4th floors. It took an elevator serviceperson more than an hour to come out and restore service.

On Tuesday I felt my first earthquake. I was at work and felt the floor wobble for a split-second. Cool!

San Bruno Ave. Brewery is in business!

Tonight I started the "Make Your Own Merlot" kit that my sister Asha gave me for Christmas. I've been meaning to branch out into making other fermented beverages, and here was my chance. I think maybe the kit is supposed to remind me of how she wanted to visit Napa Valley with us during her stay at Thanksgiving, but we failed to make it there. I received the gift while in Illinois for Christmas; rather than checking some luggage, we decided to ship it to San Francisco, and I think the shipping charge cost about as much as the kit did originally. It seems like a decent beginner's winemaking kit, but I took advantage of my homebrewing equipment (and kung-fu!). The instructions say I'll be bottling in a month, so we'll see if the wine bug bites.

I also racked to glass the Irish stout I started on New Year's Day. I'm not so optimistic about it, as it was born in haste. A nasty boilover lead to mess on the stove and a weakened wort. Maybe some aging and carbonation will cover up the shortcomings. I need to remember that it's never a good idea to start a brew when I might be pressed for time; if I'm going to also bottle on the same day, I need to ensure that the afternoon or evening is free and clear.

I am excited about the wee heavy -- I call it the Hallowe'en Heavy -- that jane837 and I brewed on Halloween Eve. It should be ready at the beginning of next month and fairly true to form.

¡Ya voté!

We haven't even been here for a month, but we've already registered to vote and, today, voted. I'm sure we missed months of debate and discussion, but we did our best with a little bit of research. The polling place was at the elementary school at the end of our block, so that was a short and sweet walk this sunny morning. Buena Vista School, indeed! It was pretty similar to how Champaign County conducts elections, except
=> the voting booths don't have curtains here on any side,
=> the ballots are large legal-size sheets containing all the text you'd need, in English, Spanish, and Chinese (the unofficial official languages of San Francisco, with the occasional Japanese),
=> votes are marked with a black felt-tip pen, filling in the body of an arrow,
=> and the ballots are cast into a scanner which instantly tabulates the votes and retains the paper ballots in the vault beneath it. It's a simple user interface with nearly zero chance of misvoting, the original ballots are retained for a recount, and the totals are available right after the polls close. Sounds pretty good to me. In San Francisco, local officials are elected using ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, which is not as mathematically sound as the Condorcet method, but it sure beats the usual plurality electoral system.

Californian voters rejected all propositions, which basically means that the Governor wasted $7.2 million of his own money for this special election, and drug companies blew $80 million trying to avoid prescription drug discounts for the poor; over $250 million was spent campaigning for or against the initiatives. The teen abortion proposition (73) was the closest call and fortunately failed, barely. San Franciscans like to vote yes on city measures, and as a result, streets and sidewalks will be improved, military recruiters will be barred from public schools, and possession of handguns in the city will be forbidden. Good thing I left behind my Walther PPK when we moved!