Monthly Archives: December 2011

Miles Ahead…

Of all the ways to describe my 2011… the year of discovery, the year of lessons, and thanks to the record-low mileage on my car’s odometer, the year of literally going nowhere… among all else at least I can say this about my first entire calendar year as a resident of San Francisco:  My 2011 cycling mileage did indeed surpass that of 2010.  Granted this came– and just barely so– with conscious December effort upon literally getting my butt in gear after some previous months of– how shall we say– focus on other activities.

And now, here I type once again on this, another December 31.  As always on this day, I think back over the uniqueness and memories of my past 12 months, while reminding myself that no matter what they turn out to be, the next 12 months ahead will certainly be different than the last.  After all, nothing and no one remain the same.  As such, I lift a glass to toast both the end of one year-long “season” and the beginning of the next.  Literally and figuratively, miles and miles ahead remain to be pedaled!

May your “miles ahead” be welcoming, challenging and rewarding, be them my gas pedal, throttle, leg muscles, or anything more cerebral.  Happy New Year 2012!

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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in Cycling, Daily Activities, San Francisco


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Oh, Those Dollar Tuesdays

“Is it always this crowded?,” I asked the hostess.  “Usually not,” she replied, “but it’s Tuesday.”

It didn’t take long for me to agree with this collection of hungry patrons that an excellent deal was at hand.  At the same time, I asked myself how I could have walked past this spot so many times and not stopped in before now.  Better late than never though, as I’m now fully acquainted with the tasty treasure trove on the southwest corner of 14th and Market, otherwise known as Woodhouse Fish Company.

Fresh, flaky and substantial are my words for the fish n’ chips, a selection that immediately proves itself not only far superior to the equivalent in any nearby pub, but also more reasonably priced.  The salmon filet special in pesto with Brussels sprouts stands as nothing less than delicious, generous and satisfying.  Generally speaking, we’re talking pleasing portions for attractive prices, a conclusion backed up by my cross-table spotting of the crabcakes, the calamari and the shrimp pasta.  My yet-to-be-experienced ahi tuna burger is driving my hasty return, a meal for which I already have hopefully not-too-high expectations of true lusciousness.

Small tables are intimately positioned into a limited and somewhat awkward space.  The wine glasses seem far too small, quickly elevating beer as the better deal.  Still, as wiggle room and libation are secondary to the terrific food, these elements actually seem forgivable.

Even with a full house, service remains prompt, friendly and mostly attentive, despite a couple minor forgotten requests such as water and an extra plate.  Again, in this case a few details might just as well be overlooked, especially considering the speedy arrival of a third plate of the “Tuesday special.”

Oh yes, it’s Tuesday, dollar Tuesday to be exact.  One dozen large oysters on an ice-packed plate for $12 is a fabulous deal I have yet to see matched, at least in this neighborhood.

One-dollar oysters!  I’ll be back, as obviously will many others.


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The Headlands Revisited

The pavement is smooth and the climbing unobstructed.  With significant and impressive completions to the Marin Headlands road construction project, cycling through this beautiful area is now all the more satisfying.

As I wrote here almost a year ago, cyclists like myself often choose the Marin Headlands for a decent workout close to the city.  And for all the “freshly paved roads” I then mentioned, now there are so many more.  Most notably comes the immediate climb from the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, which we see in the above artist’s illustration.  With the new bicycle lane clearly marked and not a flaw in all that fresh asphalt, you’ll be at the top in no time!  From there just keep going, even onto some of the further-inland pavement yet to be redone.

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited the Headlands by bicycle, it’s certainly time for a “revisit,” even while dodging a few camera-snapping tourists here and there.

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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Cycling, Daily Activities, San Francisco


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Television Turbulence

“With ratings not taking off, the show’s future is hitting some turbulence.”

The clever line quickly captured my attention during a news broadcast this morning.  Suffice to say, I’m not all that surprised to now be hearing the current buzz surrounding the possible cancellation of ABC’s first-season prime-time show “Pan Am.”

Many of us appreciate historical period pieces, for the nostalgia factor certainly if anything else.  In this case, an over-glamorized portrayal of air travel its 1960s heyday often captures the fascination of viewers born after, while likely churning a multitude of memories for those who lived through it.  However, the initial question I had at the show’s premiere remains:  Can this catchy program really build and sustain season-long story arcs, or will the show’s structure quickly reach its limits?

In any event, “Pan Am” is not cancelled, yet.  Meanwhile, the power of social media could yet determine its fate, while I know fans who would be sorry to see it go.  If the show does “crash” however, I’m sure the network has a few other threads of nostalgia it could pull to gain our viewership.  Television is nothing if not turbulent!

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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Media, News, Television


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Is There No End?

Excessive and unenforceable were a couple of words I immediately used to describe it.  Upon further reading, as expected I found my assessment anything but unique.  Thankfully enough, a ban on all cell phone use in cars, even hands-free, seems unlikely ever to happen, leading me to wonder why the NTSB this week would issue the outlandish and overreaching recommendation it did.

Texting is one thing, talking another.  How a fatal accident caused by texting immediately prompts a call for no talking, leaves me shaking my head and rolling my eyes.  As for the idea of hands-free talking too being outlawed, a CNN article today stresses this unlikelihood while noting:  “There’s conflicting evidence on whether hands-free cell phone conversations would be as unsafe as those by hand-helds… that more “definitive research” is needed.”  I say to the NTSB:  Fine, go ahead and pursue that “definitive research,” but in the meantime don’t be prematurely taking further swipes at the personal behavior and decisions that I along with many others deem appropriate and safe.

All the renewed chatter this week regarding cell phone use in cars simply underscores the larger issue for debate, this being government control vs. personal responsibility.  In many cases the former becomes too much while the latter proves not enough, which of course will continue to fuel such a debate.  Still, I tend to remain the defender of thoughtful and informed personal decision-making, while opposing blanket laws that lengthen the list of things we can no longer legally do.

Is there no end to such new and arguably unnecessary restrictions placed upon us?  There certainly needs to be, for the sake of our supposedly free society and the future thereof.


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If Only…

A 138-story skyscraper in San Francisco:  The work of ficticious filmography.

It’s almost the view from my home, with one not-so-slight addition.  (Scroll down a bit to “View of The Year” for comparison.)  Unthinkable as such a skyline happens to be for this city in real life, this somewhat-famous image of San Francisco stands as one of my favorite!  If only it were more than imaginary.

The film of course remains a classic in itself, one I happily watched again this past weekend.  For an interesting and scenic dose of recent San Francisco history, both real and imagined, I do indeed recommend it!

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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in History, Media, San Francisco


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Unlike My First…

They’re called “wing bombs.”  I call them odd and complicated, despite a strong and tasty bolt of horseradish.  The “corn fritters” deserve marks for creative preparation, while their relatively bland taste falls flat.  Then come two entrees, New York steak “cubes” and sea bass edamame, both of which immediately cry out in embarrassment of their paltry quantity.  While the flavor stood its ground, to my dismay my stomach did not reach its necessary capacity.  Add to this one overworked waitress who clearly needed additional assistance, leading to overall service that was hurried and inattentive.  Thankfully the wine, a Lodi Zinfandel, was delicious!

My second dining experience at Tangerine painfully paled in comparison to my delightful first, I’m sorry to say.  Plus it’s not the place to go if you, like my dinner companion, are in search of a real steak.  Still, for the numerous appealing menu selections yet to be conquered, plus a more hearty dish I eyeballed at an adjacent table, maybe– just maybe– a third trip is in order.

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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Restaurants, Reviews, San Francisco


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…Of The Presidential Ages

“More recently the trend has been greater longevity. From Herbert Hoover through Reagan, excluding John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated, seven of the eight presidents lived longer than expected, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died at 63 but served for 12 years. Their average age at inauguration was 58.9 years and average expected age of death, assuming presidents aged twice as fast while in office, was 68.9 years. The average actual age at death was 81.6 years. The exception was Lyndon B. Johnson who died of heart disease at 64.” (NYT, 12/6/11)

‘Tis indeed a remarkable truth, with thanks to The New York Times today for speaking the numerical language with which many of us presidential historians are quite familiar.  After all, with Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush both currently living at age 87, after seeing Presidents Ford and Reagan survive to 93– with the presidential longevity record going to Ford– it’s definitely safe to say the job itself does not kill the occupant, at least not by natural causes.  LBJ remains the closest exception, expiring a health-plagued four years after leaving office, almost to the day.  Nixon, for the additional unmatched stress he endured, lived on almost 20 years past his presidency and at least made it past age 80.  Bill Clinton and George W. Bush of course define the “younger generation” of former presidents, while both now 65 have a while to catch up to their predecessors.

This phenomenon of recent presidential longevity clearly extends to spouses.  After all, with the exception of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who died at 64, first ladies of the past half-century have lived into their 80s if not 90s– save that “younger generation” of Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush who have yet to get there of course.

Suffice to say, this sort of numerology always makes for interesting conversation, especially going back more than 50 years.  Historical trivia it is after all, of the presidential ages.

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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Famous People, History, Presidential


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View of the Year

On this day one year ago, December 4, 2010, this wonderful view of which I can never get enough became a daily part of my life.  Exactly one year ago today, I moved into my current San Francisco home, from which this fortunate vantage point has been enjoyed by both myself and several guests on numerous memorable occasions at all hours of the day.  What a unique and unmatched year this has been, to say the least.  While there will continue to be change, at least one of my home’s most inviting elements will no doubt remain the same.  Here’s to the start of the newest chapter, my year two!

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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Current Events, San Francisco


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