Wednesday, April 29, 2009

La Trappe - Belgian Beers and European Atmosphere

If you like your beer with European subtleties and prefer the candle-lit and whispered camaraderie of the World War II underground atmosphere, La Trappe in North Beach may be right up your alley.

Upon entry last night, the 'Belgian Bistro' on the ground floor was empty. Proceeding down the spiral staircase into the basement revealed a dimly lit hipsters' paradise (aka the 'Trappist Lounge') with imported quaff flowing by the centiliter and the inviting scent of twice-fried Belgian frittes warming up the air.

As ever the G1 cameraphone was up to the task, capturing the mood with suitably artistics tones and dream-like resolution.

We picked a table for waiter service and dined on plump, delicious mussels in a traditional mariniere beer broth accompanied by expertly done frittes with a wide array of epicurean mayos and ketchups for dipping.

And the beer's were terrific. I'm not up on the Belgian beer knoweldge enough to qualify it, but their menu of draughts and bottles was extensive to say the least and included literature and history on the variety and tradition of Monastic beer from Belgium. It was hard to choose, but then it was probably tough to go wrong and my special lady and I were both very happy with our beer choices.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Now Presenting "Nuclear Sunrise"

My first effort at sun-soaked photography was such a hit, I had to follow it up with a more optimistic take on things, hence 'Nuclear Sunrise,' a reminder that even after our darkest hours another day is in the offing with hope for blue skies and clear breeze and a chance to make things right.

At least that's how I read the pale light and more modest saturation as compared to Sunset. What's amazing is that the extremely simple camera on the G1 can easily handle what is a technically difficult shot with more advanced cameras. The automated aperture and shutter speed adjustment works pretty well as long as there is plenty of light. In lowlight conditions the iPhone camera performs much better, which must be a testament to some built in gain in addition to the slow shutter speed featured on both phones' cameras.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Impressions From Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences

I hit up 'Nightlife' at the California Academy of Sciences on Thursday night and was generally impressed with the recently renovated facility, the event and the scene. The drinks were strong, the company good and the bio-dome rainforest was in full effect.

Make sure you buy tickets well in advance online, as Nightlife tends to sell out. I waited until the night before and was forced to negotiate a sketchy Craiglist, street-corner transaction to score tickets off a renegade Academy member. Plus which I had to drive all the way to the Outer Sunset to make the exchange. (But in the end, is there anything Craigslist can't procure?)

Once at the Academy the standard daytime din of children is replaced by slinky European beats and the flirtatious buzz of SF's 20 and 30-something crowd out in force. With strong drinks, deliberate facial hair and skinny jeans everywhere there's a distinct meet-market (or is it 'meat' market?) scene. Between this and the daytime child riot, it appears there's no casual way to experience the Academy of Sciences, just align yourself with the psychographic that offends you the least and go.

There are three premiere exhibits: the rainforest, the planetarium*, and the aquarium to check out as well as a host of smaller, museumy stuff. There is a rule of diminishing access starting with the planetarium (the early seating is the only seating), the rainforest (admittance ends at 7:30) and the aquarium which remains open til the bitter end. So prioritize accordingly.

We missed it all except the aquarium, which was pretty well done, primarily for its thoughtful selection of odd creatures that illustrate the triptastic variety of evolution. Included were leafy sea dragons, gobi shrimp, box fish, snapping turtles, upside down jellyfish and the spooky alligator gar, among many, many others.

*My friend Tommy, whose high school featured a planetarium, submits this postulate for your consideration: exposure to a planetarium in lower-school has the unintended effect of turning students off to astronomy as a career or passion. By the same theory, we should be filling middle and high schools with adult film theatres to divert the gravitational pull of internet porn addiction.

To close, here's a picture of 'Claude' the famous albino alligator, lounging as he does in his enclosure, which is cordoned-off by stanchions to keep the hipsters from spilling their drinks or vomit into his environment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Butch Otter's Got Veto Power!

It's easy to get swept up in the race of the information age and assume the superiority of all things digital as far as process, communication and generally making things easier. As a corollary to this bias, I experience frequent astonishment and sometimes scorn at the relics of systems that now seem old fashioned, hokey or obsolete. I'm talking about things like gavels, paper voting ballots and highs that don't come in pill-form.

Then there are also a few instances where old is still better. Did we improve on the wheel? Certain mechanical systems are not enhanced merely by making them more complicated. Take the penumatic suspension systems on certain British cars for example. They seem sweet at first, but I've been present at two separate failures of said systems in Range Rovers and after that the ride wasn't so smooth you must be a limousine.

The raw power in Butch Otter's ridiculous giant, red veto stamp is another such thing. I always knew veto had power, but to see it wielded in bold red ink really takes the symbology to a new level. Plus which it looks like fun while a digital binary for executive-level rejection would not be nearly as viscerally emphatic.

That said, it sounds like Butch might be getting a little crazy on veto power. Such is the risk of a powerful old tool in the hands of a powerful old tool.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Richard Ashcroft - Could Be A Country Thing

Richard Ashcroft - Could Be A Country Thing

Imeem does it again helping me find a gem from way back in 2000. I couldn't find this stuff on iTunes even, and here it is from the 'Rarities and B-Sides' release of stuff that didn't make Ashcroft's classic album 'Alone With Everybody.'

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Call This One "Nuclear Sunset"

Presenting even more high-quality cell phone photography from the mighty T-Mobile G1's 3.2 megapixel camera.

Shot this one in San Francisco right before my face melted off and thought it perfectly captured that millisecond of doubt before the post-apocalypse sets in.

A metaphor for my state of mind these days? Or just another happy Monday?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Panormous Returns!

This much is clear: the people want Panormous.

Blogging is funny stuff, or rather, search engine traffic is funny stuff. Back in December when Pizza Hut made the old new again and launched 'Panormous,' I sampled a bit and blogged on the results in my post triumphantly entitled 'Panormous!'

My blogging's my own business, so it was never my intention, but I attained the Holy Grail of Search Engine Optimization (SEO): the coveted #1 organic ranking on Google for the term 'panormous.'

And my traffic went bananas:

Now, a few months later the value-proposition of Panormous (an enormous amount of dough for a modest amount of dough) remains undiminished and Pizza Hut relaunches the product, my Blog celebrates, reinvigorated with new spikes of traffic.

In web-marketing circles this is something of a coup, a resume builder, a feather in the SEO cap. If only I could recreate this kind of result on a useful keyword, it might not be a fluke and I'd be in business. I could probably cash in on the mere fact that I did it once and the promise of doing it again is worth plenty to the web's legions of arbitrage-minded carpetbaggers.

You've probably realized already that I don't actually sell Panormous or stand much to gain from the preponderance of panormous knowledge seekers hitting up my blog. Yet Google's algorithm, in it's determination of what's important to know in the world, sees my blog as a better resource on Panormous than Pizza Hut itself. In this day and age of omnipresent PR and finely controlled messaging and presentation, maybe Google's seeing through it. Maybe they're right because my stuff isn't marketing, but truth. The real word on Panormous.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cell Phone Photography - Idaho Spring Thunderstorm

Snapped on the back of my parents' porch in the Boise foothills using the mighty 3.2 megapixels on the T-Mobile G1.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Syzmo - Organic Energy Drink Meets Natural Male Enhancement?

When I saw it in the drink fridge at work the other day, I immediately had visions of having to skip team meetings and ride it out Junior High style with my legs clamped together, safely out of view under my desk. And I thought, it has come to this, hasn't it, a day when energy drinks and natural male enhancement meet in swillably cool, organic blue agave.

I suppose it was inevitable. That I'd sample a Syzmo and report to my buddies that, yes it was good, a little more mellow on the palate than Rock Star or Red Bull, lighter and more refreshing with less of the cold medicinal quaff that some find so objectionable in the leading brands. BUT, I couldn't put my pants back on til 8 o'clock the next morning.

Alas, we aren't yet so evolved. While Syzmo delivers in taste and caffeination, it fails in the promise implied in the name. There is no 'mo syz,' just another energy drink.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Memories of the NCAA Opening Rounds in Boise

Two weekends ago I was back in the original hood to watch a little First Round Hoops action at Taco Bell Arena on the Boise State campus. Here's a shot of the first game featuring Ivy League champs Cornell taking on the Missouri Tigers in what would be their first win in a strong tournament run to finish out a great season.

Our last game on the first was an over-time thriller between 12-seed Wisconsin and 5-seed Florida State. While the game itself was a defensive battle between two enormous teams, what was perhaps more intriguing was the contrast between the two schools and their respective entourages.

Every school that goes 'dancing' brings a posse of up to 80 support folks including basketball and athletic staff, cheerleaders and bands. We saw eight teams in Boise and each University has it's own flavor and culture that they bring during the games.

And no two flavors were more different than Wisconsin and Florida State. On the one hand we had the Big Ten in Wisconsin representing tradition, with cheerleaders in conservative, full-coverage outfits that would have seemed right at home in the 1950s. Their band wore white collared shirts, chinos and red v-neck sweaters.

On the other side, we had Florida State who's band was decked out in track pants and t-shirts and whose cheerleaders wore bikini tops, exposed midriffs and black lycra dance pants. It seemed that almost every time the Wisconsin band tried to start up, after patiently waiting their turn, the FSU band would interrupt them with that Seminole war-chant thing like the Atlanta Braves do too. It was a wild clash of cultures.

For the second round, we sat low down on the court with the families of the Missouri coaches and players. This was a crazy experience and we were swept along in the tide of Mizzou fervor as they fended off a tenacious Marquette team to advance to the Sweet 16. My ears are still ringing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Prince on Imeem

There are some positive things to be said for Imeem. Their iPhone/Android app is pretty damn good for streaming music, and while their website needs some work (at present it's UI is a confusing mutant lovechild of MySpace and YouTube), if navigated properly it yields some gems not found elsewhere on the web.

To wit, visions of feathered-hair glory and late '70s cutting edge special effects, before they were co-opted by porn, abound in Prince's video 'I Wanna Be Your Lover'