25 October, 2012

Stopping by Woods on a Foggy Evening

Whose road this is, I'll never know,
Nor whence it comes, nor where it goes,
Just how it wends, 'tis how I steer
Then stop, to see the mountains glow.

My little Porsche must think it queer
To stop so far from home, out here:
'Twas on a whim, I don't know why.
Beneath the rain, the fog draws near.

He sits there, softly idling by
As I take photos of the sky.
This place is dark, beneath a moon
which casts its light from up on high.

The frogs, they sing a lovely tune
And from their song, this idyll hewn.
But I should leave and drive home soon,
Must leave so I can be home soon.

19 October, 2012

Home and Away

SFFD ladder truck T-13 heads southbound along 2nd street.
A firefighter checks his phone after returning to the Howard St. firehouse aboard Engine E-1.

15 October, 2012

Vignettes of San Francisco

I don't fancy myself a street photographer, but sometimes I do play one on TV. I spent an above-average amount of time in San Francisco this past week, and came up with a couple photos that made me chuckle, "Oh, this city…" Enjoy!
A brightly-colored man rides through a Civic Center intersection on the tail end of a yellow light.
A dapper gentleman walks toward an approaching MUNI bus that he had been awaiting.
Workers construct a temporary skate park in the Civic Center courtyard, in front of City Hall.
After observing in quiet, another passersby noted that some aspects of the park represented well-known SF skating landmarks, which he recognized from time he had spent skating around San Francisco. I think I recall him mentioning the China Banks, among others…
Two people enjoy a drizzly, fog-filled day atop Twin Peaks.
I was struck by the presence of a giant American flag in Chinatown, but thinking about it, it makes sense. Certainly as one of the first people in my own family to be born in the US, this country doesn't feel like a frontier; it just feels like home.

14 October, 2012

Literary Death Match: A LitQuake of questionable behavior

This past week, LitQuake invaded San Francisco for a week of literary mayhem. On the advice of a friend of mine, I attended Literary Death Match this past Thursday.

As I stood in line in the long, blue-tinged hallway leading to the "arena" of Beatbox, SF, I had no idea what to expect. My utter confusion would remain through the end of the event, to be joined at intervals by bouts of euphoria, melancholy, surprise, and a host of other emotions as the combatants shared and performed their pieces.
Literary Death Match is the brainchild of emcee Adrian Todd Zuniga, and its premise is simple. Four authors have up to 8 minutes apiece to present their works in a single-elimination bracket competition. A panel of three judges determines the finalists, based on some combination of literary merit (Adam Mansbach, 3rd from left), performance (D.A. Powell, 2nd from left), and "intangibles" (Caitlin Gill, far left).

In the photo, Simon Rich presents a piece in the first round as his competitor, Amelia Gray (far right), watches and waits for her turn to take the stage.
But in the finals, things got weird. The audience was divided, and each half belonged to one of the finalists. The DJ played a sequence of somehow-literature-related songs, and the first person to tag the hand of executive producer Alia Volz had an opportunity to guess the song and score a point for the team.

Here, unbeknownst to to Volz, finalist Tim "Toaster" Henderson makes a dive, but too late, as she extends her hand away from him and toward another respondent. After some confusion about the specific version of the recording, a member of Toaster's team won the point by reciting the performers for four or five different potential versions of that song. Phew! Score one for the good guys.
Volz is practically mobbed during a well-known song as Simon Rich makes a successful diving grab for her hand. Beyond the fact that Rich is clearly a copy-cat, that dive was totally uncalled-for, and his team had no right to be in the lead anyway. I mean, seriously, come on: what kind of person doesn't like a toaster?
Sadly, and despite an amazing and nearly-successful Team Toaster come-from-behind victory, Rich was crowned the Literary Death Match champion as his team scored 8 songs to 6 for the home team. Meh. See if I care. Books and stuff are boring anyway…

08 October, 2012

Fatal crash on I880-S

On Saturday morning, Oct. 6th at around 1:00 am, some friends and I were returning home from Berkeley, south-bound on interstate 880 when I spotted an ambulance in the #1 lane in the distance. As we came over a rise, we found heavy traffic and a throng of flashing emergency vehicles — clearly indicative of some significant incident. While five lanes of traffic slowly drained toward the Alvarado-Niles Rd. exit, two ambulances and a fire chief rushed by on the right shoulder.
My friend was driving, which allowed me to take photos from the sunroof. As we crept forward, I spotted the badly-mangled remnants of a car along the median, surrounded by fire-fighters and what look like EMS personnel.

According to the Redwood City-Woodside Patch (including reports from the Bay City News Service), Palo Alto resident Charla Suzette Smoot Pate was driving the vehicle, a Mazda 323, in the slow lane when she lost control and crashed into the median. The car came to rest on its side in the #1 lane.
As we passed, I noticed that the car seemed to be in two distinct pieces. In the photo, you can see one chunk against the median, directly behind the white truck and surrounded by people, and another chunk to the right of the group of firefighters. Additionally, I spotted a white Chevy Impala with significant impact damage on its right-front corner. There were other vehicles stopped, but they didn't appear damaged.

From the Patch, Pate's vehicle was struck by a 2003 Chevy Impala, causing it to separate into three pieces. Pate was pronounced dead at the scene.

04 October, 2012

Thank you for your poetry

This past Tuesday, musician Peter Gabriel came to Google to give an interview about his Back to Front tour, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the release of his multi-platinum album, So. Gabriel discussed a variety of topics, including his past experiences, his motivations, his future goals, and his personal and professional interests.
Gabriel seemed to possess an uncanny grasp of science and technology, and of their potential impact in everyday life. For instance, at one point, he described his peripheral visual stimulation idea (which he illustrates with hand motions in the photo).

He had found that when working to finish lyrics to a song, he became more productive in environments (such as on a train) where his peripheral vision was in motion. He hypothesized that, evolutionarily, the proto-humans who were able to be creative while being chased may have been more likely to survive, and that their survival may have selected for some correlation between stimulation of the peripheral vision and creativity.
Toward the end of the interview, the moderator invited questions from the audience. A line of people emerged behind the Q&A microphone, and as they each spoke in turn, the most common theme was gratitude — that Gabriel had somehow affected their lives.

One Googler, John (left), may have cut to the core of their sentiments by closing his question with, "[Mr. Gabriel,] thank you for your poetry." The audience applauded as he walked back to his seat.