Monday, March 03, 2008

Tide Log

Tide Log_20071124_0114

I took this just before Christmas, while we were out at Crissy Field taking a family photo for our Christmas card.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Rock

Richies Visit Day 2_20070817_0183_Level Crop

Yet another Alcatraz photo. The blog has turned into a photo blog lately. I'm too busy to write anything at the moment, what creative energy I have left at the end of the work day is going into recording some new songs. I've also been practicing the guitar quite a bit, I have to play some classical pieces, (and I am not a classical player), at an upcoming wedding, and rehearsals with yet another new bass player in our band are ongoing.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Window to San Francisco

Richies Visit Day 2_20070817_0106

While walking around Alcatraz, I noticed this little window with a picture postcard view of San Francisco. I couldn't help but wonder if this was put there to torture the inmates, or to give them some hope. It was unusual in that there were no other similar windows in the building, and it was at face level, which also seems out of place in a prison, and it was so small it didn't let in much light. It seems it's only purpose was to provide a view of the city.

There weren't just visual stimuli, apparently on a still clear night the inmates could actually hear the revelers in North Beach.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Indians Welcome

Richies Visit Day 2_20070817_0170BW copy

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Jail Bird

Richies Visit Day 2_20070817_0138

Its been a busy few weeks. My brother has been in town for a prolonged visit before he goes back to college to do a Master's. His trip here coincided with one of my college friends arriving for a week. Natasha and the kids were still on the east coast, so a rip roaring rampage of rambunctious revelry was had. Imbibing, ingesting, and inhaling were indulged in. By that I mean we ate some amazing food, began drinking in the late afternoon everyday, and I reverted to the occasional cigarette. Both my brother and Richie smoke so...
I took the week off and we did a lot of touristy stuff, which I really enjoyed. It's been a while since I saw San Francisco through the eyes of a tourist. One of the highlights was a trip to Alcatraz, which I have visited twice before, but it never gets old. The park service really bring the prison alive. It's a sobering place: an awful prison with the best views of one of the world's most beautiful cities. That must have sucked. Big time. The weather was amazing, and despite some major camera problems (I got dust all over my camera sensor and fixing it involved some open heart surgery on my Canon 30D - this deserves a post all on its own), I got great photos. The Rock is a haven for birds, and this seagull obligingly posed for me.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

I scream, you scream, we all scream for...

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Friday, June 22, 2007

22nd St. Market

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Here Comes The Sun

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The sun has finally shown itself in San Francisco. In my 14 years here, this has been the coldest, windiest summer I have experienced. On Friday night, I went out for a few drinks with some friends, and it was so cold that I had to bundle up like it was the middle of December. However yesterday things changed, and although not quite hot, it was warm enough for the entire family to spend all afternoon in the back garden.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Don't Settle For a Network That Sucks

Bus Stop Haight Street_20070520_1

This was take outside Ameoba records on Upper Haight Street last weekend.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Walking The Dog

Walking The Dog

I missed the dog in the stroller when I was taking this picture - it noticed it later when I was downloading the photos.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring Forward

11. Stowe Lake Walk_20070304_0024_1

The hour jumped forward last weekend, in these here United States of America. This is much earlier than in previous years - by government fiat. By and large, I think this is a great idea. More sunshine in the evening is always a good thing. The weather seems to have gotten the message and has been only feckin' gorgeous for the last three days.'s a nightmare for software companies, and I work for a software company. Every teeny piece of software has to be patched to change time properly. I run technical support, which means I ended up on a few more conference calls on Sunday that I normally like to (zero being my favorite number of work related calls on Sundays, so this wasn't good). This was more than your regular working-on-a-Sunday-pain-in-the-ass. I am playing at a musicians' showcase next Saturday, which by coincidence, is Paddy's day. So while taking conference calls, I was simultaneously rehearsing for the show. Not an ideal situation, but all is well now.

Spring is well and truly sprung around here. In the Golden Gate Park, birds and animals are throwing each other sultry come hither looks, while flowers are budding all around. Actually, while walking around Stowe Lake with the kids last weekend, I noticed plenty of humans also come hithering to each other.

The above picture was taken during that walk.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Sunset Twilight

General Irving St with family_20061202_0043_1

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bay Daze

The last week has brought a lovely batch of sunny, clear days, nary a cloud to be found.* Our new office is right on San Francisco bay and I had my camera in my bag the other day. My eyes were dry and scratchy from hours staring at the computer screen, so I took a break and walked down to the water to snap a few shots - this is one of them. It reminds me of a painting that hung in my grandparents' living room for decades. It was garish, thick oil painting of a boating scene and the colors and effect were similar to this photograph. I never particularly liked the painting, but the scene fascinated me - it was far from sunny days on boats we were reared! The colors in that painting were in stark contrast to the drab, dull country house my grandparents lived in. I used to hate visiting my mother's parents, even though I liked them. They lived in a small town, and we always went to visit on Sunday when the place was a ghost town. All the shops and bars were closed, and you could stand on the main street and not see a car or a person all afternoon. I was usually bored out of my skull. A child of the suburbs, I was not interested in small country towns where they only had black and white TVs and everyone spent Sundays sitting around drinking tea, gossiping about people I barely knew. The only distractions were the Sunday tabloids that lay scattered on the couch. I would pretend to read the Irish Times, within which I could hide “The News of The World,” with the topless models on page three.

My maternal grandmother was a whip smart, highly-strung woman, who in retrospect, was probably completely unsuited to raising eight children. She was a prisoner of her times and her children took all of her time, of course. And sadly, once they had grown, she was left stuck in a small town with no outlet for her intelligence. Even in her latter days, when her body had become feeble and her mind troubled, her brain was still razor sharp. She was up to date on current events and the details of my life in America. I was her first grandchild, and she made no bones about the fact that I was a favorite! She died the day my son Shane was born (our first child who would have been her first great-grandchild), and only a few short weeks after her husband of over 60 years (my grandfather), had passed away.

I barely knew my grandfather, he was a ghostly presence around the house, and barely spoke from one end of the day to the other - or as far as I could tell, from one end of the year to the other. In his latter years, though, it was like the fog had lifted, and when I went to visit him, he would happily chatter away, while chewing happily on the Roses chocolates I would bring. He had been a master plasterer his entire life, and by all accounts, was a total perfectionist. During the very last conversation I ever had with him, he told me he had played the saxophone in a marching band when he was younger. I was then struck, and saddened, by how little I knew about him. I could hardly imagine music coming from this quiet old man. My mother's family is a stark contrast to my father's who are a gregarious bunch who revel in detailing highly exaggerated family histories (my paternal grandfather apparently attempted and failed to escape from Limerick jail,while being held by the British).** Every single one of them are charming romantics, and the McDermott family lineage is apparently full of lost loves, thrill-seekers, mysterious lost relatives, and revolutionaries - if you believe all the stories. For years I considered myself more like my dad's side of the family, but as I get older, I see more and more of my mother in me. I am a perfectionist to a fault, I am completely pragmatic in every part of my life, and while I listen to other peoples opinions, I more often than not follow my own instincts.

* It takes me a while to write a blog entry, and since I began this one, it has started raining. The winter is here.

** My dad still swears this is true.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006


San Francisco Zoo_20061119_0071

This is Tony. I kid you not. Given that he is a 500 pound, seven foot long Siberian tiger, you'd think they'd have named him more appropriately - something magnificent like Vlad or Igor. Even Rasputin would have worked better than the plain vanilla, "Tony."
Isn't he gorgeous? Sadly, there are more of his ilk in captivity than there are roaming in the wild. He is domiciled in the San Francisco Zoo, and doesn't seem too unhappy about it. We brought the kids there on Sunday and Tony was quite happy sunning himself and digging the beautiful, balmy NorCal fall.
Several years ago, I got to see a tiger up close and personal. We went to Marine World with a friend who had worked there in a previous life. They had a lot of tigers back then, including three beautiful white tiger cubs. We were so taken with them that my friend got us "back stage" at the tiger compound. The trainers promptly appeared with a stunning, 350 pound female Bengal tiger - on a leash (thank God). Before we could think, they had her up on a low stage, sans leash, with all of us standing behind her while her handlers snapped some photos on my camera. We were so nervous that when she yawned loudly, we all nearly leapt out of our skins. It seemed like her mouth could easily wrap itself right around my entire head.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006


De Young Museum_20061019_0066

This is another photo from the de Young Museum. On the observation deck high above the park, there is huge satellite map of San Francisco courtesy of Google Maps. Most of the people there were tourists, and one asked me where Alcatraz was on the map. When I told him, I was immediately barraged with more geographic questions. I ended up becoming "Mr. San Francisco Satellite Map Expert," happily pointing out various interesting spots to the assorted crowd.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Waiting For The Train

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Something Fishy

BW Irving Street Shane_20060930_0021

Irving Street, near where we live, changes dramatically as you head west towards Ocean Beach. It is the primary shopping area in the Sunset, starting at 7th Avenue and ending at 25th Avenue. Although very ethnically mixed throughout, around 7th avenue it's primarily caucasian, but as you work your way up the avenues, the ethnicity takes on a pronounced Asian flavour. The change is dramatic once you pass 19th Avenue. Tash and I refer to it as "Downtown Beijing." It becomes almost completely Chinese - the shop signs are Chinese, the nail and hair salons are Chinese, and the banks are Chinese. Old Asian ladies bustle glumly from store to store, suspiciously prodding the fruit and vegetables displayed on the street side stalls. Asian-American teenagers, lean against tricked-out Hondas and Scions, flirting bilingually, and yammering on cellphones, while little kids sample tapioca drinks. English isn't even the second language here, it is the third or fourth.
One great distinctions between inner Irving and outer Irving is price. In inner Irving, a bag of shiny, waxed veggies , artfully displayed at the upscale supermarket, Andronico's, will set you back about $40. The same bag in one of the scrappy, bustling Chinese shops, less than 10 short blocks away, will cost you only $15 - if that, (it should be pointed out that Andronico's has an amazing selection and everything is very high quality).
All of the Chinese produce stores and supermarkets have live fish tanks teeming with lobsters, crab, bass, carp, eels, and a few varieties of marine life that are very, very unfamiliar to me. They are also crammed full of all sorts of meats, various mushrooms, and a huge assortment of fruit and vegetables. It leads to the kind of pungent aroma that western supermarkets do their best to hide.
Many Sunday afternoons find us strolling to the playground, stopping for a coffee near Downtown Beijing, and the most common refrain from both Shane and Maya is, "Can we puh-leeze see the fishies and lobsters?” We, of course, consent.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Train I Ride

Shane and Tram Tracks_20060924_0006This is the N Judah, as it heads overground at Cole Valley. On Sunday, we were en famille at the Cole Valley Fair, one of the many neighborhood fairs that happen in September. Shane is fascinated with the trams and trains, and even more fascinated when they go underground. He insisted we go to the mouth of the tunnel and wait for the tram to go through.
As I have mentioned before, many weekend nights can find me on the N, heading to some of my favorite hostileries. One of my favorite things is sitting on the N, listening to music while observing everyone observing everyone. It being San Francisco, there is always the requisite freak on the train. On Saturday it was an overweight black guy, rapping along at volume to whatever was on his iPod. He was so excited by the music he insisted on removing his shirt. However, my favorite is the Wet Swimsuit Guy. He is youngish, extremely tanned, always dressed in sneakers, jeans, and a dirty denim shirt unbuttoned to the navel, with lank shoulder length, sun-bleached hair. He is always swinging a swimsuit in circles over his head, and depending on whether the tram is leaving Ocean Beach or heading towards it, the swimsuit is either wet or dry. I can only conclude that he regularly swims at Ocean Beach. I surf at Ocean Beach, (or at least I did until my kids arrived), so the mind boggles. Here's Surflines description of OB, (as it is known locally).

On a lot of days at Ocean Beach, just getting out can be a major accomplishment. Depending on swell and tide and sandbar, on many days there is a 200-yard "zone of death" in between the beach and the lineup. It can be as hard to get off the beach and out to sea for a surfer as it was for a marine to get from sea to shore on the beaches of Normandy. It takes knowledge, skill, strength and courage, but the deciding factor on a lot of days is still dumb luck.

A University Of California Berkeley study stated:

"Ocean Beach is the most hazardous and dangerous piece of shoreline associated with an urban environment in the whole United States."

Apparently over 10 people a year had drowed at OB before the Beach Patrol started. I can see why, and as such, I have a healthy respect for OB. If I haven’t surfed there for a while, I spend a few days at surfing other beaches until my skills are sharpened. Being caught on the wrong side of a large wave on OB was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. To get out to the swell, you paddle out to just beyond the point where waves are breaking; this is often incredibly physically challenging, sometimes more than surfing the damn wave. When you get out, you need to keep an eye on the horizon, mostly to make sure you are in the right position to catch some sweet surf, but also to save yourself a turn through the washing machine. Every so often, a wave can break further out from the shore, and if you are between it and the shore when it breaks, it can pick you up and toss you around like driftwood. In smaller surf this is disconcerting; in big surf it can be dangerous, especially if you get thrashed by a string of large waves. It happens to every surfer occasionally, and it is always terrifying. The waves are a lot more dangerous than the sharks...

Wet Swimsuit Guy is obviously a little touched, he mutters to himself as he swings his wet swimsuit around on the tram. This might explain why he chooses to brave the icy waters at OB.

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Friday, May 06, 2005

I heart u

I heart u

Seven years ago, before we were betrothed, Tash lived in the Castro, a straight woman in the gayest neigborhood in the world. One night we passed a freshly poured concrete slab. We couldn't resist the age old urge to scrawl some romantic graffiti.
Our closest Cingular store is nearby, and todayI had to go and argue with them, (they somehow managed to change my social security number to something other than mine, which means I can't access my account - but thats another very LONG story). Anyhow - while in the neighborhood we took our fifteen month old daughter to visit the scene of our crime, and I moblogged it.

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Mystery Train