Sunday, March 30, 2008

earth hour thoughts

yesterday, from 8 to 9pm, people all across the world turned out their lights and celebrated earth hour. san francisco was one of the headline cities. i'm interested to know if any of my readers participated, and if so, what you did. i'll tell you what i did:

i decided that i wasn't just going to turn off my lights, but try to minimize my consumption completely by doing as little as possible that required electrical energy.

at 7:55pm i was hungry and i realized that with all the lights out i was going to have a hard time making food (not to mention that i didn't want appliances running from 8 to 9pm) so i rushed to make some toast. tasty! but this reminded me of anecdotes from campus energy saving competitions, where students would shower and use their computers in other buildings to reduce their consumption in their own building, which was the object being measured. since 8 to 9pm is what mattered, i pushed ahead my cooking -- so did i really make a savings?

from 8 to 9pm i can honestly say i did very little that used energy, but i still consumed! i became bored and so i started eating snacks. but two good things happened: i practiced my didj. i was belting out eighties hits on my didj, no small feat :) i also sat in the dark and day dreamed. very amusing scenarios played out in my head, but i'm not going to share them here..

From Best of Austr...

overall, i found the experience quite trying, and i'm actively attempting to reduce my consumption. candle light would've been nice, but i didn't even have that.

summary: of course, no one is going to live in such darkness, so the experiment was more about raising my own awareness of my highly consumptive behavior, and trying to be at peace with doing less, having less. the collective action of 8 to 9pm is also quite important, because hopefully SF is going to go to the power company and get some numbers (for instance, sydney supposedly saw 10% less energy draw last year during earth hour).

building awareness in the dark, that's a funny idea eh?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

tiburon and beyond

today neha and i went to tiburon. it was beautiful. beer and greenery, slideshow below:

on tiburon: i was really hoping something in the nytimes article from 1909 might've been right about tiburon, but i'd say the only truth is that the place is staid and beautiful. read more here.

A PERFECTLY GOOD ISLAND.; Neither Cannibals Nor Treasure Found on Tiburon In Gulf of California.

December 24, 1909, Friday

NOGALES, Ariz., Dec 23. -- The mystery of Tiburon Island, Gulf of California, has been dissipated effectually by the return yesterday of seven Americans who had passed through Nogales on Oct. 18 on their way to explore the island which they supposed to be inhabited by man-eating Seri, Indians and to contain hidden treasure and rich mineral deposits.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

crystal castles

jeff introduced me to crystal castles, an electronic music band out of toronto. i love their song crimewave so much that i purchased it on itunes, an extremely strange thing for me to do. listen to it here:

you can also see jeff in this short youtube clip (love the mustache):

Sunday, March 23, 2008

timbuk2 bags: shine a light

neha and i went to the timbuk2 store in hayes valley yesterday, looking for a new bag to replace neha's bazillion year old version. the sales person, noticing i had a camera, told me to take some pictures with the flash on. what an event! here's our first sample, sans flash:

now i turned on the flash, and voila, a beautiful pink!

this set is not pink, but in some ways much more dramatic. this is the same bag, i kid you not!

bikers should feel quite safe with these bags on their backs.

neha did get a bag, but not the following, it was too big and she probably could've carried me in it:

this seems quite relevant:

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

date ideas

a friend of mine is going on a date, an early date (not the first date!), the "getting to know you better" date. criteria: date should be fun, possibly creative! so i whipped out some thoughts, which my friend suggested i share more widely. anyway, i think these are all great things to do not just on a date but in any situation where you want to have possibly unique fun in the city:

please add your suggests in the comments!
  • what about golden gate park? there are such great places to walk there. you make sure the de young is somewhere on the walk.. you don't pay for the museum, instead you go up to the observatory tower (free) and look out at the city. simply fantastic
  • if you want something a bit more secluded, do buena vista park. wonderful walk up there (only during the day, don't be there at night, i hear).. you must take a hat though because it gets quite windy and you don't want to freeze
  • want to include a car in the game? do the "rediscover sf" tour by following the 40 mile or whatever number it is route.. go to twin peaks, go to the presidio, go to the palace of fine arts. spend a bit of time in each place, a bit of time in the car. you each bring some CDs and each car jaunt one person picks a cd and plays a few songs. this way you get outdoors and indoors
  • ok, if you do more a night thing, then i recommend getting wine at the hidden vine during some portion of the night. it's a small place but really cozy and romantic. i've had many a good time there
  • playing carnival-like games seems like a fun thing to do on an early date. unfortunately, i don't know where you go around here to get that, but i toss out that idea
  • are the two of you "into" something? a variation of the car tour.. each of you could pick a theme and then devise a map of the city to point out that theme. you guys share maps and see how you could both integrate your themed experience into one experience that mixes both and lets each person share.. or you could do one at a time.. but i think sharing is good, especially early on..
  • volunteer somewhere together (recall this is a brain dump, my fingers pushed that out, i refuse to backspace)
  • bike somewhere. take your bike to sausalito, or across the GG bridge, or go to the south west part of town and do the loop down there around the lake.. or go to the embarcadero.
  • oh my god coit tower is the most beautiful place.. i think.. if it's a sunny day.
  • ok now i'm going to bed. you'll think of something!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

denver's driving change program -- almost!

read the following then see my commentary:

Denver hopes to reduce car emissions by encouraging better driving

The city of Denver has unveiled a "Driving Change" pilot program designed to reduce vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions by encouraging drivers to ease off the lead foot. Starting in May, 400 public and private Denver vehicles, including that of Mayor John Hickenlooper, will have a device installed to monitor time spent braking, idling, accelerating, and speeding. Analyzed results and personalized recommendations for reducing fuel consumption will then be posted on the internet. Vehicles account for approximately 30 percent of Denver's greenhouse-gas emissions, and the program hopes to cut fuel consumption 20 percent among Driving Change participants.

sources: Denver Business Journal, The Denver Post, Associated Press

ok. here's the big problem! the feedback needs to be immediate, and it needs to be relevant. they have relevant ("personalized recommendations") but they don't have immediate ("posted on the internet"). dear lord. have they learned nothing from the prius? prius people drive so strangely because they are playing this game where they are changing their driving behaviors in ways they think might optimize the gas mileage. with these additional indicators, the prius drivers (or the mayor, whatever he's driving) could do a much better job.

put the indicators in the car. they don't have to be dangerous.. which is one comment i hear from some prius drivers who turn off the dashboard because they find it distracting. the indicators can be ambient. use colors! i am going to send this idea to the people administering this program...

UPDATE: i emailed the mayor and the green program staff. hopefully someone sees my email!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

gavin newsom on green movement

this is a good interview with gavin newsom reflecting on the current state of the green movement. here's an apt quote:

Right now we're almost seeing the movement increasingly trivialized by everything turning green...every single magazine and newspaper and TV program.

It's important and powerful because it raises awareness, but it misses the point that needs to be raised, one of accountability, transparency and measurement, the hard work that needs to be done. And it's not just buying organic cereal with a recycled tote bag. So when I talk in terms of (San Francisco's) 70 percent recycling rates, the highest in the nation, I feel good about that but not great.

i like his point about accountability, transparency and measurement. i think these are three things we really need, and there isn't a lot of talk about them in the general media.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

making movies

i made the following movie with windows movie maker. what a handy free utility. it's installed by default on XP. there's also a great user forum.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

fun sunday

today i had a wonderful day and i would like to share that sense of happiness with you, dear reader. today, the weather was marvelous. breathtaking. i wore a short-sleeved shirt and soaked up the sun. first, i went to tartine and braved the long, long line to buy a large assortment of pastries. the best, by far, was the morning bun, depicted below:

such a bun is pure heaven to bite into (notice the consumed part in the lower right). i could get one of these every day.. maybe i should. see how long i can handle it.

after tartine i took my bounty to rockridge (twice in a weekend! it's where the hip, environmentally conscious folks i know live). i haven't really explored rockridge. it was stunningly beautiful on this gorgeous day. check out some of these house pics. i want to get out there and wander around.

then i came back to the city and relaxed and did some work. but, sensing i needed beer, i messaged jono and we headed over to the city beer store. as usual, we had a wide ranging conversation that had enlightening moments. jono told me about these wasps that invade ant colonies and spray a chemical that causes the ants to fight each other. in the confusion the wasp leaves some of its eggs, which the ants, after coming out of their confused melee, care for. brilliant, especially considering how much larger wasp eggs are than ant eggs.

on my way back i found verification that my reference to berkeley as "berkel" in text messages etc.. was not so off base. seems berkel has a long standing tradition, at least on harrison street in the mission.

finally, raja is now sleeping on my bed. he has returned to his loving friend (me). he had been avoiding me and occupying andrew's room for quite a while. but he's back, at least for now. here he is asking me with those big beautiful eyes: "may i share this bed with you, om?"

of course you can!

finally here's two songs from the once soundtrack, which neha got me:

Saturday, March 01, 2008

no country for old men

this evening i saw no country for old men. my cousin was right. it is an amazing movie, but also one that leaves you feeling so emotionally drained. indeed, i still have this odd pit in my stomach, like butterflies but much sadder.

it's a powerful movie, and beautifully done. i recommend it. you aren't going to come away happy, at least in the traditional sense. but you will have witnessed genius. this movie will stay with me for a while.