Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Thanks for a great semester in Digital Journalism! Professor Silver had great advice and helped in creating a comfortable and creative learning environment. Our blogs are all interesting and hopefully we can all keep in touch that way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

rss in plain english

here is the instructional video i showed in class today:

it comes from lee and sachi lefever of common craft.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Street Festival, Japantown Style

Thousands of people flooded Post Street between Fillmore and Gough for the opening weekend of the 40th Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival last Sunday. The first thing any visitor to Japantown will notice about their celebration of the blooming of the cherry blossoms is how tame it is in comparison to other public parties in the city. While an event like the Bay to Breakers is a celebration of our city's special ability to integrate debauchery and running, the Cherry Blossom Festival was a celebration of Japanese culture and showcased a far more wholesome set of skills. On the main stage, children performed a few basic karate manuvers to the delight of their parents and one onlooker who clearly was just sticking around to see if the kids were really going to start brawling. They didn't. In fact, there would not be any shenanigans. The freak quotient was well below the standards I've come to expect. That said, I did manage to find a grown man dressed as what I can only assume is a Power Ranger.

The defining characteristic of the event came in the form of the event's sponsors whose white tents lined Post and forced visitors to run a blocks long gauntlet of barkers who harangued passers-by to provide them with personal information in exchange for low quality freebies. Not even cries of "I'm walkin' here!" in a heavily affected Brooklyn accent could ward them off. Their presence varied from obnoxious to creepy, with one booth promising to turn your eight-year-old into a modeling superstar.

For the kiddies who want to act their age, there was the Children's Village which provided the young ones with a "jump house." A term I managed to discover by googling "inflatable jumping around thing," which I would argue goes much further in explaining its purpose. Based on the miserable faces of the children leaving the General Mills-sponsored inflatable jumping around thing, the event was of a dud for children of all ages.

That said, and in fairness to the event's organizers, I may have been the wrong weekend to happen upon these particular goings-on. The real show takes place on April 22 at 1 pm with a parade from City Hall into the Western Addition which will feature, among other things, a sake barrel shrine float which will be carried by an estimated 100 people as the festivities make their way into Japantown. However, despite what we might expect from the other street festivals, I don't suspect they'll be cracking that barrel open once they arrive on the scene. It is the prerogative of the organizers to have a family-friendly affair, and they have exercised it. You've been warned.

Where Do You Hide?

San Francisco, California is glamorous, fabulous, amazing…and extremely distracting. Around every corner San Francisco seems to offer something new, fun, and beautiful; for example, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, SF MOMA, and China Town. Not to mention that San Francisco has some of the best restaurants in the country, phenomenal shopping, and (although, they may be a bit windy) beautiful beaches. This 7x7 mile city has so many hidden gems; including, Sociale an Italian restaurant hidden down a tiny shadowed alley and the often overshadowed independent book store City Lights.

Stress factors! School, parents, relationships, work, bills, debt, deadlines, traffic jams, errands, chores… and I’m sure you agree, that list could go on forever. I am a city girl, I grew up in Chicago; which is three times the size of SF, so I definitely understand the struggle of trying to find some ‘peace and quiet’ in a city that never sleeps.

Philosophical! As you have all learned over the course of this semester, I tend to be a pretty ‘deep’ person, so to speak. No matter what the assignment may be I always seem to find some obscure angle and get all philosophical…I even managed to make going to a baseball game about much more than just strikes, outs, and innings. Anyway, don’t think for a second that this assignment is going to be any different.

Alright, now that I have your attention and you are completely confused as to where I am going with this… let me (try to) explain. As college students (and of course professors), there always seems to be that “to do” list that never goes away; and no matter how many things you complete and can cross off the list, there is always 15 more things to add. However, living in one of the most amazing cities in the world I often find myself forgetting to ‘email that guy about that internship’ or ‘call Grandma to catch up’ (because she has left 8 guilt-tripping messages) and find myself caught up in some San Francisco escapade. Somehow, I rarely find myself feeling guilty that certain “to do’s” linger on my list for weeks at a time, because honestly life is too damn short! And who knows where life is going to take us and when, before you know it you may be stuck in Birmingham, Alabama and we all know it won’t even begin to compare to our beloved San Francisco.

San Francisco has endless possibilities for eating, shopping, and adventuring… but sometimes the most satisfying thing is to find a ‘place’ to hide from the overwhelming, stressful hustle and bustle of city life. A perfect place to do this is on the tiptop of Telegraph Hill where you will find breath-taking panoramic views and 74-year-old Coit Tower. Coit Tower was built in 1933, and is dedicated to the SF firefighters who ‘fought a massive blaze’ after the devastating 1906 earthquake. Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill both have fascinating stories. Another fabulous place to see in SF is the Exploratorium, which is a public science museum, which has beautiful buildings like the Tactile Dome and the Palace of Fine Arts. Even Ocean Beach has endless activities to get involved in; including, surfing, kite flying, and bonfires.

However, it is not the 210-foot concrete tower, the science facts, the surfing, or the famous wild parrot flock that resides on the hill that draw me to these various places in San Francisco. When I am stressed out and trying to hide from everything and everyone, I run away… and go the top of Telegraph Hill or the benches outside the Exploratorium and so on. These places are my escape; the views are spectacular and the people watching are to die for. If I have one suggestion for any of you, it is to find a place like this of your own.

Does somebody have a case of the Mondays?

Have you ever wanted to be invisible, to be able to walk through a crowded party unnoticed as if you never existed? It’s possible, believe me, I’ve done it hundreds of times. Just this past weekend I invisibly visited three parties, unnoticed.

You may ask, how is this possible? Well, it’s easy and anyone can do it if they really want to. All you have to do is become a caterer (actually take any job in the service industry and you will become invisible).

Now, you may say to yourself, “Wow, that sounds great I want to be invisible too!” Before you jump in head first into invisibility let me fully disclose what being invisible entails.

People are unable to see you unless;
1. They need something from you, this can include: drink/food requests, being asked to fix overflowing toilets or any other type of janitorial duties, moving furniture, going to the store, washing dishes, unwanted sexual advances etc…
2. They want to tell you a lame joke that usually puts you down in one way or another.
3. They want to complain. Be warned, this can be very confusing at first because the complaints almost never have anything to do with you, you are just the person to file any and all complaints to.
4. This rarely ever happens, but, there are a few people who will be able to see you as the true living person that you are.

You Can't Always Believe a Bad Review

After her book, Sex and the City, was reviewed by a famed New York Times critic, the Manolo obsessing Carrie Bradshaw posed a thought provoking question, “why do we believe our worst reviews?” And in today’s web 2.0 world of Yelp, Citysearch, Menupages, and Zagat, reviews matter more than ever. But why should a bad review of a restaurant from a complete stranger overrule our sneaking curiosity that only seems to build with every passing? Is it possible that these non-critics are just too critical? This past Saturday, for my friend Rebecca’s 23rd birthday, we disregarded the bad reviews of the restaurant Tortilla Heights, and ended up having a wildly enjoyable dining experience.

Located on the corner of Divisadero and Bush in lower Pacific Heights, Tortilla Heights, is a Mexican restaurant whose sizzle isn’t only found in the fajitas. “The fajitas were damn good!” Said Rebecca. “And they went well with the delicious margaritas.” The “delicious margaritas” which rated an 8.6 out of 10 on Citysearch, are made out of the over 50 different types of tequila that Tortilla Heights carries. But don’t be fooled into thinking tequila is confined to the bustling bar, shot glasses are gathered on each dinning room table, and when the waitress first came to serve our party she was quick to alert us of the special, four dollar tequila shots. Triggering a flashback of the debauchery that is spring break in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where shots are shoved down your throat by whistle bearing waiters, I was relieved to see our waitress simply set the shots down on the table (I, of course, stuck with water).

Tequila (and water) weren’t the only things going down smooth at Tortilla Heights. My friends were happily and rapidly consuming tex-mex styles of quesadillas, taco salads, and enchiladas that caused my friend Josh to say, with his mouth crammed full, “this is so good!” With good food, good friends, and good fun, the Tikki themed Tortilla Heights set the tone for the rest of the night. “The atmosphere was full of people having fun and drinking, that put everyone in a good mood,” said my friend, Jennifer.

So, despite the two and a half star rating on Yelp or a review titled, “bad food, expensive, horrible service and management” on Citysearch, we thoroughly enjoyed our time spent at Tortilla Heights, the ideal place for a group party. Therefore you can’t always believe a bad review. Besides, where else are you going to find a birthday bowl of vanilla ice cream served with a side of tequila?