Monthly Archives: November 2010

“More Stimulating”

If there’s one thing I miss about driving around Los Angeles during rush hour, it’s listening to John & Ken

Granted, on some topics they are complete buffoons, while others they exaggerate to death.  They more than make up for this, in my opinion, with all the occasions on which they’re dead on, complete with their gritty, cynical, call-it-as-they-see-it style.  On most days, they tend to make some valid and thought-provoking points on whatever their topic of the hour happens to be.  Usually it’s related to what they might call the over-spending, nanny-ridden shenanigans of state and/or local government.  On the mark or not, John & Ken never fail to entertain… well, ME at least!  They certainly live up to their station’s mantra of “More Stimulating Talk Radio.”  I enjoy being “more stimulated,” and I even more enjoy laughing out loud while alone behind the wheel.  Wouldn’t you? 

I have yet to find their equivalent in San Francisco.  But then, perhaps I won’t have to.  It looks like I can download the “iHeartRadio” app on my iPhone and listen to John & Ken anytime I wish.  This would definitely be “more stimulating” than any AM talk radio I’ve found in the Bay Area thus far. 

Perhaps I’ll soon have nothing at all to miss about Los Angeles!

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Posted by on November 30, 2010 in Media


A Cycling Reality

It really was an idiotic fluke, getting my bicycle wheel caught in a train track.  I mean, for the thousands upon thousands of miles I’ve ridden over the course of the past decade, managing train tracks is nothing unusual.  I suppose it’s one thing to pass over them perpendicularly and quickly, while it’s another to ride parallel to them when they’re flush with the pavement.  The latter, of course, describes much of San Francisco!

The aforementioned fluke occurred in the blink of an eye last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.  Both my eyes and my bicycle must have strayed long enough for my front wheel to “fall into the groove” so to speak, a groove I very much knew was there.  One second I was up, the next second my body was skidding across pavement, and after a few more seconds I was up on my feet, dusting myself off and examining my bike, as well as myself, for any damage.

Fortunately, my bicycle seemed to emerge unscathed.  Neither tire went flat, the chain and gears were in tact, and all I had to do was bend my left brake lever back into place.  Not a problem.

The only problem was one I knew from experience was going to affect me for several days to come, this being my palm-sized road rash on my right hip.  Why, I asked myself, do I always fall to my right?  This is certainly not the first abuse my right side has taken, as I’ve naturally endured my share of cycling mishaps, as most any cyclist has.  I simply think my right side might appreciate my left side taking some of the burden.

I’m not one to make a loud fuss about my various bangs, bruises and abrasions, but this time hurt just a little more than the others.  Nevertheless, I continued on with my ride last Wednesday and reached my intended destination.

Now, here on Monday, I’m FINALLY ready to let my road rash start to heal properly.  After a long Thanksgiving weekend of trying some ineffective and detrimental remedies, limping around like an old man, and withstanding the soreness that comes from the constant rubbing of denim, leather, nylon and bedding, I visited this very helpful cycling link and read up all about road rash.  After all, it’s a common and expected cycling reality.

The keyword is TELFA, for any of you who have been or will be dealing with this matter yourself.  I now have plenty of it on hand, more than I’ll probably need this time around.  As such, I’ll simply save what I have for next time, which hopefully won’t be TOO soon.

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Posted by on November 29, 2010 in Cycling


Political Color

How fitting, and ironic, for The New York Times to keep me abreast of the current political goings-on in my new city of residence.  I have to admit that I have not been paying that close of attention, or any attention rather, to San Francisco’s imminent mayoral transition. 

Nonetheless, I appreciate the Times’ colorful description of the city’s Board of Supervisors, one that quite obviously excludes any shades of present-day red!  Of course in political terms, red today has come to be Republican, while blue equals Democrat.  What a head-scratching flip-flop this is from a half-century ago, when red symbolized Communism.  Various Republicans today might consider San Francisco’s Supervisors the closest to Communists, far left as they are.  As such, it seems the colors red and blue got mixed up somewhere along the line.

All color aside, if Democrat equals more government and Republican equals less government, then naturally San Francisco is a “more government city.”  We all know this, and it’s a topic into which to delve another time.  For now the matter at hand is choosing a successor for Lieutenant Governor-elect Gavin Newsom.  I simply find it interesting that New York is interested!

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Posted by on November 28, 2010 in Politics


A Four-Wheel Day

As far as auto shows around the country go, and I’ve been to many over the years, San Francisco’s is small.  The advantage:  Attendance is relatively low, especially on a weekday.  This means you can spend some good, quality time with most of your favorite makes and models, while even having intelligent and informative conversations with representatives who seem happy to assist you.  Add to this, neither having to fight for the driver’s seats with unsavory gawkers, nor being forced to circumvent misbehaved children darting every which way.  The disadvantage:  Many models are absent from the floor, and some makers appear to be no-shows altogether.

The San Francisco Auto Show at the Moscone Center, for the less-than-a-movie entrance fee of $9, is a pleasant way for any car enthusiast to spend a couple hours of a weekday afternoon.  This, despite the absence of a convertible TT, an A5 cabriolet, any 6-Series, and Mercedes-Benz!  That’s right… there was absolutely no Mercedes-Benz product at this show this year.  This was quite a surprising discovery, which I confirmed by asking.  I’d certainly like to know the reason for MBZ’s conspicuous absence, as there has to be one.

Up against a red S5, a hot chocolate Cooper, the not-before-seen 9-5 sedan, and the new Fiat 500, the title of my personal favorite is awarded to the $139K Porsche Panamera Turbo.  Having seen this unique sedan a few times on the streets of Los Angeles, I today sat inside one for the first time.  Suffice to say, I was impressed, more so than I was with most of the other predictable offerings on the Moscone Center floor.

My favorite of the day.

Once you’ve had your car fill, here’s what you do:  You trot on over to the corner of 5th and Howard, to The Chieftain, an “authentic Irish Pub.”  You use your Murphy’s Stout to wash down your delicious “Spicy Irish Potato Bites” and then call it a day!  I mean, after beautiful new cars and a lively Irish Pub, how much better can your day get?


Posted by on November 24, 2010 in Cars, Restaurants


“Here” You Go…

It looks like there’s not much for me to say on the matter at this moment that has not already been said.  The New York Times already did it for me this morning, more than once in fact, here… and here… and here!  Fittingly enough, I’ve been asking one of the same questions for years!

Very well then.  It’s time for me to shift gears, so to speak, and pay a visit today to the San Francisco Auto Show!  I’m fairly certain entrance there does not require a full-body scan, but you never know!  :-*

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Posted by on November 23, 2010 in Politics


The Necessity of Humor

This Monday morning arrives at the end of a weekend chalk full of TSA talk.  What I discussed here last week is continuing to flourish, more and more every day.  This is to say, the dialogue is continuing, the debate is escalating, the dissent is growing, and refreshingly and thankfully so, the satirical take on airport security is in fresh, full bloom!

For or against the newest airport security procedures, just about everyone seems to have something to say.  This  includes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who appeared yesterday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”  More than just hallow political blabber, she’s actually touching on a key point while perhaps very subtlely steering the debate down the right path.  She says:  “If there’s a way to limit the number of people who are going to be put through surveillance…”  Secretary Clinton is on to something here.  I think I know what it is, and perhaps you do too.  After all, she herself says she would avoid one of the new enhanced pat-downs, while adding that in terms of current airport security processes described by many as overly aggressive, she “understands how offensive it must be.”

In the meantime, Saturday Night Live this past weekend jumped into the overall commentary with this very funny skit.  Humor always makes unpleasant realities more easy to endure, while shining a necessary light on such claims of foolishness, overkill or just plain stupidity.  Thank God for a sense of humor, and for the right to express it!

And that’s my opinion.

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Posted by on November 22, 2010 in And That's My Opinion, Humor, Politics


Unexpected Laughs

Every now and then, though not all too often, I’m pleasantly surprised and amused by the random program that appears on the television in front of me.  Such is the case on this rainy Sunday morning.  The station:  E!  The program:  The Soup.  The result:  My out-loud laughter.

Most of the time, for me at least, the re-showing of such ridiculous antics ilicits merely an eye roll and a change of the channel.  This morning’s segment of The Soup, titled “Drunk and Disorderly,” bucked this trend.  I found myself unexpectedly and surprisingly entertained.  Laughter is no doubt a fantastic way to start the day, especially at the expense of other people’s shenanigans.

Check out the schedule for The Soup, and grab some laughs for yourself!

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Posted by on November 21, 2010 in Media


Washed Out

A complete washout.  This describes my Saturday of absolutely no cycling.  I had every intention of riding this morning, as usual, but the rain stepped in and decided otherwise.  It’s now raining very heavily here in the City, complete with thunder and lightning, and I love it! 

So in lieu of pedaling off calories today, I chilled.  While doing some online exploring, I came across this very entertaining image :

Need I say more?

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Posted by on November 20, 2010 in Current Events, Cycling


Cycling for Pay

The past couple days have added a unique experience to my cycling credentials.  I just finished up a two-day gig with Team Cycad, for a client-specific event in downtown San Francisco.

Considering my current professional life of freelance media and PR-related jobs, combined with my ongoing desire to be outdoors and physically active, this was a win-win situation for the most part.  Twelve hours of pedaling certainly yielded a few advantages, not the least of which is the decent amount of cash now in my pocket.

I spent these last two days cycling, while getting paid to do so!  All in all, this is a pretty damn good deal, if I say so myself.  Granted, the particular route for this client was rather slow-paced, with a lot of typical city stop-and-go.  While some calories were no doubt burned, the loops became rather dull by the ends of the day.  Still, the overall experience was worth the time, exercise and money.

If you’re interested in such an opportunity for yourself, check out Team Cycad and ask if there’s anything going on in your city.  This happens to have been the company’s very first event in San Francisco, but I’m told there could be more before too long.  As such, cycling for pay could come again!

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Posted by on November 19, 2010 in Cycling, Daily Activities


Sushi on Church

For almost ten years now, Warakubune has been my favorite sushi restaurant at which to dine when I’m in San Francisco.  Now that I’m living here, I have all the more opportunity to drop in, funds permitting of course.

Last night seemed like the right night to go.  It’s been more than a few weeks now since I last enjoyed Warakubune’s wide and tempting selections that pass before my eyes on little boats.  My dining companion, however, was not biting; rather, he became intent on our going to another Japanese dining establishment on the same street, this being Church Street just south of Market, a few doors down on the next block.  I had not been to Miyabi before, so in a rare moment of surrender, I allowed him to have his way without any direct fuss.

Miyabi’s sushi bar itself is small, and the bar seating limited.  There are ample tables, however, in both a front and a back room.  Rick and I sat right in the large bay window in the very front, overlooking the sidewalk.  You can guess who chose the table.

Prices at Miyabi are pretty typical; my “dynamite” roll of deep fried spicy tuna topped with albacore cost me $9.95.  I have to say, however, that it was not completely dynamite; I’ll give it a B.  Rick’s soft shell crab roll was attractive and plentiful, though not unusual.  The unagi (eel) sushi was tasty, just the same as most anywhere else.  Already thrown off my track of original sushi plans, I ordered Miyabi’s tempura dinner as well.  I will say:  The quantity of shrimp and vegetables that arrived at the table was impressive.  I ended up eating more than expected, and I definitely got my fill.  Naturally, this is not always an easy accomplishment!

My conclusion is this:  Miyabi was fine, but not phenomenal.  I still would rather have had a pile of little plates in front of me, with passing boats continuing to tempt me with fresh and creative creations.  The next time I’m eating sushi on Church Street, it will be at Warakubune.

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Posted by on November 18, 2010 in Daily Activities, Restaurants


A Better Way?

Is airport security going too far?  Whether your answer is Yes or No, I’m happy for the growing national dialogue that’s taking place on this topic.

I recall writing a letter to the Los Angeles Times back in 2002, regarding airport security and the ridiculous, maddening experience I endured at that time.  Granted, only months after 9/11, most travelers were apt to support and defend new airport security procedures.  Now, almost a decade later, while processes have evolved and technology has advanced, more importantly, dissent appears to have grown.

No doubt there are valid arguments for “keeping the skies safe.”  However, it’s shortsighted for every injustice, invasion and inconvenience to be dismissed under the auspices of “safety.”  There needs to be dialogue, there needs to be argument, and perhaps most effectively, there needs to be backlash.  How else will policies and procedures evolve?  Are we expected to silently accept whatever our government decides to subject us to?  At this point, we have to go along with airport security procedures if we want to fly.  However, there’s no law that says we have to like any of it.  Plus, we have every right to express our dissatisfaction.

Here’s a quick and easy vote on the matter, where you’ll immediately see the results.  Then, here’s one journalist’s suggestion, as more and more voices consider alternatives to our currently inefficient, offensive and at least somewhat politically motivated system. 

The fact of the matter is:  I never feel safer for what we all endure at airports.  Perhaps I am safer, but it’s often hard to feel in the face of annoyance and frustration.  It’s important to keep in mind that the end does not necessarily justify the means, as the TSA best keep in mind.  In the face of continued terror threats and the obvious need for security, there is still always a better way to be found.  The question is:  Will politics and other social circumstances allow a better way to come forth?

And that’s my opinion.

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Posted by on November 17, 2010 in And That's My Opinion, Current Events, Politics


A New Generation of Ewings?

I’ve heard some buzz about a resurrection of the famous Ewing family in recent months, and now here’s a more detailed update of what seems to be in the works.  A friend and fellow “Dallas” fan sent me the link today on Facebook, and now I’m here to blog about a blog!  Go figure.

You might recall the recent efforts for a “Dallas” feature movie, much like the joke that managed to get made of “The Dukes of Hazzard.”  Suffice to say, such productions tend to turn out abysmally, in my not-always-so-humble opinion.  The idea of John Travolta as J.R. Ewing was enough to keep me at home, looking at photos of Larry Hagman to remind myself that one, and only one, man is to play the role.  Fortunately, the feature movie plan fell apart.

Now, it appears the “real” J.R. is on his way to a comeback, yet again, and remarkably so.  I say:  “Better hurry up!”  Larry Hagman, now 15 years post-liver transplant, will turn 80 on his next birthday.  He’s now older than his ficticious TV “mama” or “daddy” ever were!  His time may be limited, though I hope not running out!

Still, a 2011 look at the Ewing family of Dallas is a wonderfully creative undertaking.  I really hope it happens.  Naturally I’d love to see at least cameo appearances by a large assortment of the classic and most infamous characters, more than just Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray.  I suppose Ken Kercheval is a likely candidate, though unfortunately I’m guessing that Priscilla Presley, Victoria Principal and Morgan Brittney are not.  Of course, Howard Keel died in 2004 and Barbara Bel Geddes in 2005, so as the link mentions, their characters will have expired as well.

It’s time now for the new Ewing generation to come forth and entertain us like their elders did.  I look forward to seeing how successful they are in this regard.  At least J.R. will be there to guide them.

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Posted by on November 16, 2010 in Dallas, Media


Video Roadblock

As I continue to play around with and learn the many features of my all-new version of WordPress, it occurred to me today that it’s time for me to try uploading some video here to my blog.  As I went about doing so, I quickly ran into an unexpected video roadblock.  Apparently, in order to upload video files directly from my computer to WordPress, I must initiate a “video upgrade” to my account.  This, however, is not free; rather, it costs $60 a year!  I sit here now wondering if this is worth it, for me at least, in this capacity, at this time.  My immediate answer is:  No.  As such, directly uploaded video files may be long in coming.  I can, however, post this link to a recent video on my Facebook account.  But then, if you’re not my Facebook friend, I wonder if you can see it.  Oh, the perils of today’s online technology!

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Posted by on November 15, 2010 in Daily Activities


A Mountain Escape

So close, yet seeming so far away.  Surrounded by towering redwood trees, a lush green open meadow, and even a small pond of some sort, you might momentrily feel as I did today.  That is, you might think you’re in Mammoth, or Yosemite, or perhaps some far-reaching section of Washington State.  But no.

Today took our group less than 40 miles south of San Francisco, to the well-known outdoor biker-dominated eatery known as Alice’s, at  Hwys 84 & 35 in the mountain town of Woodside, nestled in the tree-lined terrain between Hwy 280 and the Pacific Ocean.

Today was a Homoto Motorcycle Club ride.  That’s who I mean when I refer to “our group.”  About a dozen of us took off from the Castro, headed south on Hwy 1 through Half Moon Bay, then West on 84 to our lunching destination.  We passed several people riding the kind of bike I myself was riding yesterday, as in the kind that burns calories!  After throttling past all those hard-working bicyclists, our motorcycles arrived to Alice’s parking lot to join all the others.  Fortunately there were tables for us, roomy picnic tables in fact, out on the back desk overlooking that green open meadow I mentioned.

Alice’s menu is plentiful and thorough.  It took me a few minutes to decide between a breakfast item or one of the numerous listed burgers.  I opted for the former, and fortunately the sizable portion managed to satisfy my demanding appetite.  The passion iced tea is a fine choice to wash it all down, unless you go for a very attractive $5.95 bloody mary, which in this particular instance I did not.  Nevertheless, Alice’s offers a full bar that clearly calls out to any thirsty passer-by on any day of the week!  I’ll be sure to go back and sample the bar before too long, perhaps when I’m not traveling via motorcycle.

Booze or iced tea, breakfast or lunch, Alice’s is full of life and energy all its own.  I highly recommend this quick mountain escape to anyone looking for a short change of scene.

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Posted by on November 14, 2010 in Daily Activities, Motorcycle, Restaurants, Reviews


Recording My Ride: Garmin vs. iPhone

As it turns out, I cycled 44.6 miles this morning.  This is according to my old, outdated Garmin GPS device.  Recording the same ride simultaneously on my iPhone GPS application, the grand total came to 41.2 miles.  My conclusion:  I trust Garmin and I’m going with Garmin’s number.  The iPhone is subject, of course, to AT&T’s spotty signals.  When riding through mountainous, wooded areas, these signals are sure to fail, as is revealed by this morning’s route map.

I certainly did not ride in a perfectly straight line from Alpine Road to Hwy 92.  This indicates that my iPhone was not logging exact GPS data during this time.  The application did, however, “catch up” to my updated location when I pulled the phone out of my pocket to check on it.  My second conclusion:  The iPhone GPS application is smart, but unfortunately at the mercy of AT&T’s poor signals.  Garmin, it seems, is still the way to go.

Technology aside, the morning was beautiful, the weather was clear, the pavement was smooth and dry, and the pace lines of cyclists were steady and strong.  More days like this on a regular basis, and I’ll be back in top cycling form in no time!

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Posted by on November 13, 2010 in Cycling, Daily Activities, Transportation


Brain Exercise!

Do you know what I’ve come to enjoy, after working, after job searching, after apartment hunting, after cycling, after running, after motorcycling, and even after cocktailing?  Among all else, I’m liking some good logic, some number strategy, and some mental stretching.  All of this comes down to one word:  Sudoku!

These numerical grids can be attacked quickly, usually yielding some rapid initial advances.  The easiest ones can be completed in no time, but more difficult ones will definitely stump even the most season Sudokuite.  (I may have just invented this term.)  In any case, there’s most clearly a difference between the easier and the harder puzzles.  Nonetheless, I find myself feeling a mild addiction to these mind benders.  In some cases, when I’ve finally completed a more challenging one, I’m ready to attack another.

And why not?  This kind of brain exercise is only to our benefit.  Stimulating our brains and our thought patterns is no doubt good for us, at any age.  So, if you’re bored, turn off that stupid TV program and try a Sudoku yourself.  You might get hooked!

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Posted by on November 12, 2010 in Daily Activities


To The Saloon We Go

In case you were looking for the Saloon...

“Established in the year of John Wayne’s birth – that would be 1907 – the Comstock in one of the City’s most venerable watering holes and offers a fine respite from a day’s work of grinding out press releases and talking to cranky reporters.”

As such, I’m happy to have paid my first visit tonight to this particular watering hole.  I might not have found it, were it not for tonight’s scheduled get together of PRSA, the Public Relations Society of America. 

Tonight was the monthly “Second Thursday,” an occasion for professionals and job seekers like myself to gather, kibitz and exchange business cards with one hand, while sipping a well-made cocktail in the other.  PRSA is a visible and social organization, no doubt, whom we can thank for the above description of the apparently longstanding and obviously well-established Comstock Saloon.

Tight standing quarters, a captivating drink menu selection, attractive and attentive bartenders, not-big-enough martini glasses, and passable-but-not-remarkable pour levels, all come together to create the vibe of this memorable San Francisco libation location.  Add to the equation the rich antique woodwork, classically styled ceiling fans, and an attention-getting vintage upright piano, complete with live player!  Finally, pack the relatively narrow space with hungry, thirsty and chatty patrons.  Altogether, the unique, history-rich ambiance is now set.  

It’s a feeling of the Old West with urban flair, or perhaps a turn-of-the-century hideaway for discerning city dwellers not quite ready to go home.  The Comstock Saloon is definitely a destination to keep on your list of watering holes!

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Posted by on November 11, 2010 in Daily Activities, Restaurants, Reviews


Better Than Nothing

My cycling within the city limits of San Francisco continues to expand.  As such, I may need to amend my earlier assertion that one must go north or south of the city in order to get a decent ride in.  Mind you, one must indeed leave the city for any long distance, as San Francisco itself is of limited geographical area.  Still, I’m slowly discovering that I can both spin and challenge my legs within city limits, without having to come to a stop at every block.

Golden Gate Park often reminds me of New York’s Central Park, considering the nicely paved roads that more or less follow the perimeter.  A few laps around the length of this sizeable area will certainly help log the mileage, free of heavy traffic or constant stop signs.

Then there’s the mostly straight stretch along the bike path from the base of the Golden Gate Bridge toward Fort Mason.  Here too a cyclist can achieve some good speed and cadence.  Continuing east and south will lead into Fishermen’s Wharf and the Embarcadero, respectively.  This, however, is where the stop and go begins.  And from there, moving into the city from the shoreline, the stop and go will no doubt continue.

All things considered, a cyclist can crank out a decent and satisfying 20-mile loop around San Francisco in a short amount of time.  It’s certainly not the same as 50-60 miles up into Marin or down through Woodside, but in terms of training and overall cycling fitness, it’s better than nothing!

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Posted by on November 10, 2010 in Cycling, Daily Activities


Amazing Deja Vu!

This 1989 560 SL has 90 miles on the odometer.

While out on a short bicycle ride around the city this morning, I was stopped in my tracks by a beautiful sight:  A red 560 SL in the showroom window of Mercedes-Benz of San Francisco.  I thought to myself:  “Wow, a 560 SL from the late 1980s has been restored to showroom quality and is now for sale.  I must investigate!”

Mind you, a 560 SL is the car I’ve always wanted and still want, a red one in fact!  (I prefer black interior, however, to this car’s creme beige.)  SLs are always for sale, of course, in various stages of abuse and deterioration.  For one all polished up and on showroom display, I figured the condition of this one must not be all that bad, and the mileage perhaps not too high.

Late this afternoon, I was standing over this timeless classic in both awe and surprise.  The awe, of course, goes without saying, because I adore a red SL, especially in mint condition.  The surprise came with the discovery that Bobby Ewing’s wheels are NOT for sale, and more than this, that they’ve never seen the open road!  This is not a case of only-20K-miles never-been-driven; I mean, literally, this red-on-creme 21-year-old has really never been driven!  The odometer reads 90 miles.  This car has never been registered.  It has belonged to the owner of the dealership, apparently, ever since it arrived in his inventory 21 years ago.  The original invoice is still taped to the window, indicating all of the SL’s features, along with 1989’s grand price total of $65K and some change.

This experience threw me into an odd yet wonderful time warp.  Recalling my many trips to Mercedes-Benz dealers as a teen, I felt now as if I were back in 1989.  Here was this gorgeous German machine, fresh off the assembly line and ready for a home.  I recall the days of looking at this exact same model when it was brand new, and here today the moment returned, most unexpectedly and certainly most uniquely.  Amazing deja vu, to say the least!

This SL is said to be among the owner’s personal collection, with a sign next to it reading:  “For display only.”  I don’t blame him.  After all, 1989 was the final production year of this famous and beloved body style that was born in 1972.  Then of course, as the saying goes, “everything is for sale at the right price.”  I wonder what the right price is in this case.

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Posted by on November 9, 2010 in Cars, Daily Activities, Mercedes-Benz


Two Wheels Sans Motor

Yesterday morning greeted me with not just an additional hour of time, about which I had forgotten, but also a significant amount of rain.  It ended up raining for most of the day in San Francisco, creating one very wet Sunday for all.

I enjoy rain and usually welcome it, as I did yesterday.  The downside, however, was that this surprise downpour steered me away from adding to the challenging bicycle mileage I logged the day before.  Saturday morning was an absolutely beautiful time for the weekly Alto Velo Club ride.  This was my second Saturday with this group of riders, starting and ending in Los Altos.  I’ve been on the search for a local bicycle racing group to replace La Grange in Los Angeles, and so far Alto Velo is filling the void.  As the weeks progress, and as my personal level of cycling fitness hopefully returns to a higher level, I’m looking forward to getting to know this club all the more.

As wonderful as San Francisco is in so many ways, it’s not a city for any good amount of performance cycling.  Riders might meet somewhere in the city, but from there typically comes an immediate dash across the Golden Gate into Marin and beyond, where terrific routes abound.  The Peninsula is another great area for pedal power, as cyclists flock to the back roads and twisty climbs of Woodside, hitting Skyline Boulevard and often continuing on to the coast.  While many exciting cycling options weave themselves around the Bay Area, none of them appears to exist in San Francisco itself.  I’ve done a few short jaunts around the city just to spin my legs, say 12 to 15 miles, and of course this is better than nothing.  However, when it comes to longer and more serious training, it’s going to happen either to the north or to the south.

Here’s a link to a map of my 30-mile ride this past Saturday, created via the GPS application on my iPhone.  I would have gone the full distance with the group, about twice as far, had I not needed to turn back early.  I needed to get to a different kind of bike appointment, this one pertaining to my other game, as in the one with a motor.  This Saturday, weather, work and home permitting, I’m hoping to go the day’s full distance with Alto Velo.  As I realized on this last ride, out of peak cycling shape as I currently am, two wheels sans motor is still my main game!

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Posted by on November 8, 2010 in Cycling, Daily Activities


Memorable Reality

I have an idea for a reality TV show, perhaps one that has not yet been thought up.  If so, now’s your chance to steal my big idea and run with it!

The show is:  Searching for a roommate living situation, that is, as the one looking to move into someone’s existing home.  I’ve been in this situation many times off and on throughout the past fifteen years, and I’m currently in it once again.  I simply have to say that my amazement never fails.  The “colorful” characters I meet, to use a neutral term, could not be created any better on paper by a sit-com writer.  And the living conditions in which I encounter these characters, to say the least with the help of another neutral term, are no doubt “memorable.”

Every one of us has a style, a personality and a unique method in which we inhabit our space.  I certainly do!  Finding two “styles” that can successfully co-exist, not to mention three or four or five in some cases, is no small challenge.  I’ll put it to you this way, a little less neutrally:  Nine out of ten people in this world live like absolute pigs, in my organized and orderly opinion.  Trust me on this one.  I have looked at enough shared places for rent in my life, in the past year especially, to come to this conclusion with confidence, and of course with dismay.

Every place, every individual, is a story.  Every space is an episode, or at least a segment of one.  This is where the reality TV show takes off.  You might not believe who and what I’ve come across, or at least you may find it entertaining.  This is a reality that could do very well on air, so perhaps we need to think a bit further about this.

In the meantime, I have more rental spaces to dig up and view.  I’ve looked at two so far now in San Francisco.  I am passing on both, however, “memorable” as they are.

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Posted by on November 5, 2010 in Daily Activities


My First Martuni

Martinis are on my mind, considering the fact there are numerous fine establishments in San Francisco at which to get a decent one.  A well-established martini bar was recommended to me a few days ago, so I decided to pay it a visit and check out the scene.

Martuni’s is the name.  I entered a dark and windowless front bar room, with limited seating.  Fortunately I found a single stool at the bar with my name on it.  I glanced over the printed martini menu, eyeballed the selections on the shelf, and placed my order.  The snappy female bartender was all business and not having my mild inquisition.  I ordered a “martuni” and not a “vodka martuni,” as both were printed on the rather amateurish, tacky fold over.  Still, Ms. Grouchy asked me if I wanted gin or vodka.  With some apparent exasperation at my pointing out her redundancy, she gave me my “martuni” with the unspoken message to shut up and drink it.  This was obviously going well so far.

The recorded music that was playing in the background did not fit the ambiance of what I consider a martini bar to be.  There definitely needed to be less rock-n-roll and more lounge.  There also needed to be less bickering between the bartender and the server over the ingredients of one of the menu drinks.  I listened to them go at it nonetheless, exchanging eyebrows with another patron over the not-so-subtle scene.  Then I picked up the aforementioned Ramada-Inn-like print out and examined the listed contents of the drink in question.  The server stood correct.  The bartender was most certainly having a bad day.

My negroni to follow my “martuni” was very pleasing, as was the pour level.  Gal Smiley was redeeming herself!  I could see that the pour level of Martuni’s martinis appears to be acceptable across the board, just about reaching the rim in every drink I saw made.  This is key, as nothing irks me more than a low pour in a large martini glass.  Places guilty of this crime are not deserving of a repeat visit.  Martuni’s, all things considered, will see me again.  And I think Martuni’s should see you too!  We just need to go a little later in the evening next time, to check out the back bar and the live entertainment that was warming up as I made my early exit.  Perhaps my new 82-year-old acquaintance will be there again next time as well.

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Posted by on November 4, 2010 in Daily Activities, Restaurants, Reviews


The Game Remains The Same

It’s no grand surprise:  Jerry Brown will be governor of California, again.  His opponents will tell us to now “hide our wallets,” and I fear this may not be far from the truth.  On the other hand, we saw one of the largest statewide sales tax increases under Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger’s watch.  So if we see some tax cuts under Democrat Brown, then both parties will have gone against their own grains.  We shall see.

Politics continues to be defined by two, and basically only two, labels:  Republican and Democrat.  It seems increasingly difficult for any thinking person to call himself one or the other.  The keyword here, of course, is “thinking,” because non-thinking people can easily consume whatever their party happens to serve them, without asking questions.  I’ve heard it from both sides:  “I’m a Democrat,” or “I vote Republican.”  In these instances, it’s about the label to which these people have adhered throughout their lives, rather than an examination and evaluation of the individual candidate who happens to carry the label.  Partisanship may make voting easier, but it does not necessarily make it smarter.

As I discussed with a friend yesterday, I have voted for a pretty even mix of Republicans and Democrats throughout my relatively short voting history.  I really cannot call myself strictly a Republican or a Democrat, through I certainly have opinions on most issues and definitely lean in one direction on each of them.  Depending on the issue at hand, I’m very conservative, or Republican.  Then, on other issues I consider myself very liberal, or Democrat.  It’s all comes together to create an interesting and ever-evolving identity.  My friend called me the proverbial New England Conservative.  I wonder, perhaps, if this translates to Libertarian.

The House now goes to Republicans, while the Senate maintains control of the Senate.  The continuous call for “change” is rather ironic, because change is inevitable.  Change is going to happen whether it’s wanted or not.  Another election has come and gone, but the game remains the same.

And that’s my opinion.

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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in And That's My Opinion, Politics


An Old California?

A lot of young people have been expressing their support for California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown.  I wonder if property taxes have crossed their minds, and if they’ve ever heard of something called Prop 13.  Somehow I don’t think so. 

Brown opposed the passage of Prop 13 more than 30 years ago when he was then California’s governor.  I fear that if he becomes governor again, he will attempt to circumvent Prop 13, which caps property taxes.  In other words, Brown may very well seek to raise property taxes, possibly via voter referendum.   He has said there will be no new taxes without voter approval.  As such, what if he finds a clever way to get voters to approve a new proposition that somehow reverses or nullifies Prop 13?  He claims he will do no such thing, but I do not trust him.  Read this interview for details.

Generally speaking, I simply cannot figure out why anyone wants to reelect the has-been Brown.  He was already governor of California for two terms, from 1975 to 1983.  Meg Whitman is offering “a new California.”  I have a feeling, however, that we’re going to get an old one.

And that’s my opinion.

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Posted by on November 2, 2010 in And That's My Opinion, Politics


One Year on Two Wheels

Happy Birthday Red!

Another Halloween, complete with all the usual revelry, has come and gone.  This is the first day of November, the one-year anniversary of my motorcycle ownership, and a seemingly appropriate day to get my new blog underway.

I’ve been in San Francisco now for one week.  This is to say, more than one week has now passed since I moved out of my Encino residence, put most of my belongings in storage, and drove up I-5 to the City by the Bay.  In the past week I’ve applied to numerous job openings, gone to the gym, ridden my bicycle and my motorcycle, taken a day trip to Monterey and back to see some family members, and contemplated various elements of tomorrow’s election.  I had an interview rescheduled, I received a paycheck, I did a bit of cooking, I attended my first club bicycle ride in the area, and I took a look at a living space for rent, all while enjoying the company of a friend who’s welcomed me into his home for the time being.  Suffice to say, this is my new life, or at least the latest chapter thereof.  While the immediate future is uncertain, I’m excited to be here.

Exactly one year ago, on November 1, 2009, I purchased the mode of transportation I continue to love more and more everyday.  I took ownership of a red 2006 Suzuki SV650S, which on this day one year ago read 6,801 miles on its odometer.  Today the same odometer reads 18,103 miles.  In the past twelve months, my motorcycle has carried me 11,302 miles, or almost 942 miles per month.  As I recall, I’d had the bike for six months before hitting my 3,000-mile mark.  My second six months obviously saw a lot more ride time than my first six months did, thanks to the fact that I simply got a lot more used to what I was doing.  I’m happy to report, today, that motorcycling feels natural, and of course a lot of fun!  It’s been a long and interesting path for me, along the road of motorcycle education.  I certainly have a lot of this road yet to travel, but I’m pleased to be able to look back on the distance I’ve come thus far.  On the first day of “motorcycle year two,” the machine between my legs does not frighten me to the extent it did one year ago.  I’m confident, but, to make the important distinction, not overconfident.  I’m looking forward to bettering and expanding my skills in year two, while continuing, each and every day, to enjoy the ride.

Halloween, here and gone, again.  Always a day of craziness and merriment it is!  I’m thrilled to have celebrated Halloween 2010 here in San Francisco, on my motorcycle no less!  My two wheels may now rest.  My job interview tomorrow is a short walk away.


Posted by on November 1, 2010 in Daily Activities, Motorcycle