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My pencils…

Pencils

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Visit to San Francisco

A little more than a week ago, I had the pleasure of being in San Francisco with my love, @midcitygirl. I had a great time and wanted to share a few things from my trip. Also, we took many great pictures. To see the best of the best, visit Midcitygirl’s San Francisco flickr set.

First and not surprising we ate, and ate, and ate…

We had great North Indian food at Little Delhi (my favorite was the Dal Makhani). We had a vegan meal at Herbivore. The atmosphere was lovely and the food outstanding. We split the ravioli with creamy marinara and the lentil loaf with with mashed potatoes, sauteed seasonal greens in a red beet sauce. Our other really cool meal was in Chinatown at the Kam Lok Restaurant.  We had some sweet guy come up to us and suggest it. I will describe more later but suffice it to say, the Chinese greens/spinach and Chinese broccoli with garlic were great! We also had some sourdough bread, yummy local chocolate, and fantastic vegan blood orange and salted caramel donuts.

Saturday was a full day of fun. We started off on the cable car. Here is a video of what I think best captured the roller coaster effect. So much fun. My love hung off the side, so brave.

 

We went to the end of the cable car line, Fisherman’s Wharf. It was great to see fresh crab being cooked up. Not that I want to see little creatures getting killed but I do think watching something go from living to your plate is important. I think we are all way too far away from our food sources. OK that thought could derail the fun, let’s get back to San Francisco…

We sat down for a few minutes on a bench overlooking Alcatraz before heading over to see an old submarine and naval ship.  While wandering about we found a building with an arcade full of antique games and music players.  Some of the players were amazingly complex works of art.  My favorite game was an “air-hockey” type game minus the air. We didn’t stay too long at the Wharf as it was a bit too touristy for our taste.  After a short stop for sourdough bread and coffee we got on the cable car and headed back towards Chinatown.

We got off the cable car at Washington to walk down to Chinatown. Lucky for us the stop is also the home of the Cable Car Museum. I love, love, love seeing big machines and tool shops so this was a highlight. I took a few pictures of the shop and Midcitygirl took a few pictures of me in front of the belts that power the cable car lines. The smell of old machinery reminds me so much of my Grandfather. I am sure he would have enjoyed seeing it with us and would have had a few stories to go along with it. Down in the shop there was a great anvil and lathe similar to the ones we saw at the Mag Lab in Tallahassee.  It would love to try out one of these old lathes.

We left the Museum and headed down Washington which was fairly steep.  After just a short block or two, we were in the thick of things. Surrounded by herb shops, tea shops, trinket “Trading Co.” shops, and restaurants. I had been looking forward to exploring Chinatown and was instantly and happily overwhelmed.

I have been searching for a lucky cat for years.  Seriously! None ever seemed quite right. So this was our first order of business. We wandered into a trading company and searched around.  Midcitygirl found a lucky cat right off that was perfect.  She may look like a million others but to me she was the perfect one.  The woman running the shop told me to either put two dollars or nine dollars in the red envelope.  Now to find actual paper money. hmmmm.

Once she was wrapped up and safe in my backpack, we started wandering around the alleys and side streets. At one point, I was looking over at a window full of hanging cooked ducks and almost ran into a man passing by me.  He was pushing a handcart full of small crates.  He was wearing mud boots and a white apron splattered with blood. The objects in the top crate were in a net and very much alive, trying to jump out.  Not sure what it was but someones meal was certainly going to meet my criteria of being closer to the food source.

Down one of the side streets, we started to hear traditional Chinese music and with much curiosity, we gravitated in its direction. The sound was coming from the same building as the Tin How Temple (天后古廟).  This was a place we wanted to see but were not sure would be open. It is one of the oldest Temples in North America. We started our ascent up to the third floor.  On the second floor, we were pleased to find the source of the music. Through an open door we were able to see a group of musicians playing some very old instruments. We stopped briefly and peeked in.  After a minute or two, we continued up the stairs. The Temple was open, it was wonderful inside.  On the ceiling above the main deity, Mazu, hung lots of lanterns with slips of red paper hanging down from each.  It was quiet lovely. There were several altars with bowls of oranges, incense, and other offerings surrounding them.

After wandering around for a bit, we decided it was time to hunt down some vegetarian food.  We walked past a few places that didn’t draw us in.  While standing outside a restaurant looking at a menu some guy came up and said he would show us where the locals ate.  I am pretty sure locals ate everywhere as much of it did not look like it catered to tourists.  That said we followed him next door, down a flight of stairs into a basement restaurant, Kam Lok and then he disappeared. The restaurant kind of had a greasy spoon look to it.  It felt like the perfect place to be.  We didn’t know what to order.  We asked the waitress what the next table was having.  There were several dishes of bright green vegetables.  We picked out two items, Chinese broccoli with garlic and Chinese spinach (we think).  The waitress did not know the name of it in English.  The broccoli had long tender stems and there were whole roasted garlic cloves.  The spinach had the stems still on and were my favorite.  The gentleman reappeared once the food arrived. He was such a character! He invited himself to our table, pulling up a seat and asking us how the food was. He told us his name was Jackie Chan 2 and made sure I had his card. We commenced with eating our meal and chatting.  Jackie spent the next 20 minutes talking about his travels (which included 5 years at Notre Dame in New Orleans), Banksy, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, good spots for free food (Buddhist temples on Sunday) and a short cut to City Lights Bookstore. He got very excited about Banksy and wanted to take us over to a new graffiti piece nearby.

We walked out of the restaurant and lost Jackie for a few minutes, we almost left as he seemed to have vanished completely. When we were ready to give up waiting, there he was again. He walked us over to the new Banksy piece that was about two short blocks away. After he took a picture of us, we parted ways and headed off on our own. The Banksy graffiti lives next to the oldest Chinese pastry shop in the US, Eastern Bakery.  We stopped in and bought a few treats that were certainly not vegan or vegetarian for that matter; black bean, lotus, mung bean, and yellow bean cakes.  We ate up and then crossed the street to check out a very colorful kite shop. Some of my favorites hung from the ceiling and were hand painted (dragons, butterflies, and dragonflies).

One of our last interesting stops in Chinatown was inside the the Empress of China building. Inside, Jackie had told us that there was a dragon that took seven years to construct. We found it hanging in the middle of a spiral staircase.  It was beautiful and very difficult to capture with the camera.  The gold ornate body curled up towards the ceiling and the colors were stunning.

We left Chinatown for the Little Italy, North Beach area and City Lights Bookstore. City Lights was nice and we hung out for a bit upstairs looking through the poetry books. We bought a few, including Ginsberg’s Howl, a Kerouac book, and a compilation of Ferlinghetti poems.  It was instant culture shock to go from hearing the sounds of Chinatown to hearing the Italian men trying to cajole us into eating at their restaurants. We wandered around North Beach getting fairly tired and needing to eat. This of course led us to “just pick something.”  The one we picked seemed like a good choice given the restaurants we had passed.  Although the food did not rival the other dishes we tried on our trip, it was good.

With bellies full, we headed across Washington Square Park and waited for the bus. The park was cute with lots of dogs running about. Waiting for the bus was a bit trying as the temperature was dropping. we were both in shorts and it seemed like our stop was in a cross wind.  We stuck with it and it was well worth it…

Our final stop of the evening was to the Golden Gate Bridge. It closed at nine and we headed over around eight. We took two buses from the North Beach area, the 30 and the 28. The 28 dropped us off at the base of the bridge. We started walking up the path. There was hardly anyone around. Most of the time it was just the two of us. The atmosphere was romantic. There was intermittent fog and it was a bit chilly (good for staying close).  We made our way across the bridge to the first tower. As we got close the fog lifted a bit and we could see the moon reflecting down on the water. After stood for a while and then turned back so we would make it back through the gate before 9:00pm.  It was romantic and mystical taking a stroll in the fog with the moonlight over the bay.

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Found in the Garage…

The house we live in was formerly owned by a CB/Ham guy. He returned after Katrina and passed away soon after. We bought the house in the summer of 2006. It was mostly empty except for the garage. It had miscellaneous paint cans, wood, a few tools, and some ham equipment. I kept what wasn’t obviously damaged from the storm. I now have a rack with things I might use in future hacking projects: radios, cassette player, camera parts, walkie talkies, etc.

Last week I was looking through the rack for a container for another mini portable guitar amp I’m building. I was very surprised to find an old DIY kit with several buttons and a seven segmented display. I plugged it in and discovered it was a very simple clock and it works. One of the segments on the display is out so I’ll play around with it to see if I can fix it.

I started looking through the pile of stuff a little more closely and found a second un-built kit with some very yellowed instructions (I will post later). On the bottom of the aluminum case is the kit maker/seller… “Ramsey Electronics“. The paperwork seems to be for an alarm clock. There are more buttons and a small speaker. Very, very cool.

Back when I first went through this stuff I wasn’t actively into DIY electronics. It is only with my love of hacking and my connection with like minded folks that I am able to see this for the gem it is. Here are some pictures of the kit I will start to build next week.


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Update: I scanned in the instructions and cleaned them up a bit so they’re readable. Here ya go: Ramsey Electronics Alarm Clock

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Check out my Mini Guitar Amp on GumboLabs.org

My last two hack days (Tuesdays of course) have been spent making a very cool little guitar amp. I made a post of the experience with links and more pics on the Gumbo Labs website. Check it out when you have a chance.

Finished Gum Amp!.

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  • For the Record

    ● 14,000 miles driven on a road trip
    ● 46 rotations around the sun
    ● 15 years in the greatest city on Earth
    ● 4 months without electricity post K
    ● 1 amazing family

  • From My Camera

  • Hype Maching Love