August 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - My Bali Memory

View from our driver's windshield - by Sharon Castellanos

August 12, 2010

San Francisco Free Fun - Boudin Bakery at the Wharf

A crunchy crab!
San Francisco can be expensive to live in and to visit. However if you look around there are lots of opportunity to find fun things to do at little or no cost any day of the week.

Sourdough Animals you can eat!

A name synonymous with San Francisco is Boudin's Bakery.  Never heard of them? Have you heard of sourdough bread?  They basically invented it!  Yep, in 1849!

Wild yeasts in the San Francisco air had imparted a unique tang to their traditional French bread, giving rise to “San Francisco sourdough French bread.” Today, the Boudin family's initial recipe lives on in the hands and hearts of our expert bakers, with a portion of the original mother dough still starting each and every sourdough loaf we make.

And the cool thing is that besides their stores and cafes, they have a large main restaurant on Jefferson Street that includes a shop and bakery where you can watch them in action!  They are walking distance from the Argonaut Hotel

It is fun to see and the bakers put on a good show.  During Golden Week, we took our visiting Japanese friends to Fisherman's Wharf and this was one of their favorite photo moments.

Fun and free! Their baker has a mike so you can learn too.
This is free to watch and you can wander around but if it is foggy and cold, like it is so often, you might be tempted to buy their famous clam chowder in a bread bowl.

August 4, 2010

San Francisco Mission District Murals

Mural across the side of a school along Folsom Street in San Francisco

What do you think of when you hear of or read about the San Francisco neighborhood called the Mission? Nowadays the stories are not as centered around the funky shops or even growing high-end rental property and live/work spaces. You don't see constant references to Dave Eggers, McSweeney's or his literacy project 826 Valencia with its Pirate supply store in tandem to each story about the Mission.

This summer what I have been pleased to see on every excursion to the Mission, besides all the colorful people and food - I see beautiful unexpected murals. There are lots and lots of murals all over the Mission District. You can find them on the sides of huge buildings or covering a small transformer box. Look down an alley and see one or along the wall of a play ground you pass by.

It impresses me that the people have the talent to create these large scale works of art. The murals tell a story, often a cultural story or slice of history.  Most of the murals are centered around the Latino community who also make up most of the fabric of the Mission District today.  I love walking down 24th Street from Dolores because from there until well into the Mission, each corner offers me a chance to glimpse this public art.

Recently what made me really excited?  I walked by a group of tourists taking photos of murals. What was once possibly considered graffiti and something to cover an eyesore, has now entered the art world.  To learn more or take a virtual tour, below are several great resources:

Mission Haiku by Gregg Schoenberg - A Polaroid guide To SF's Mission District Written in Haiku
San Francisco Neighborhoods - 24th Street/Mission
Precita Eyes - Murals of the Mission

August 2, 2010

Tokyo Where?

Wow. Now when I look back on my time spent in Japan as an expatriate, I guess it was pretty ballsy.  It was ten years ago. The internet was still a baby, especially in Japan.  Granted we got NTT Dokomo 3G clamshell design "kick ass" cell phones for USD $30 ten years ago but they were only good within the ISLAND known as Japan.

Good luck with that!
However what stopped me short recently, was finding this directory [the image above]. Inside the cover, it tells you in English, what to say and where to call in an emergency.  The directions are in English but they still direct you to say as much as possible in Japanese.  Seriously, they tell you to speak slowly and clearly. If at all possible to speak Japanese using their indicated patterns.  If you cannot make yourself understood properly, do not hang up.
  • Give your address the Japanese way: city, ward, street address and house or apartment number.  
  • Give a nearby landmark for reference - train station or store.
  • Give your name.
  • Give your telephone number.
Don't panic, even if it is a fire or an earthquake or traffic accident. Really? You are in a country where you have no extended family and for Americans, this is a non-Roman language speaking country of people who really don't care for foreign nationals all that much.  Do you know how hard it is to get a working visa?  And everyone gets lost, including cab drivers and local policemen so the landmark idea is a crucial NECESSITY.

On this list, they also have an Emergency Medical Interpretation Service.  This is for when communication problems would otherwise prevent institutions from providing emergency care to foreign nationals.  And as far as the police are concerned, just remember that their focus is on the traffic accident, robbery and ALTERCATIONS.  After having lived there, I can only look back and truly think this is code or translation for public drunkenness.

Finally because I love to end on a high note, if you were to consider living in Japan and you are from the United States.  Their Fire and Ambulance emergency number nationwide is 1-1-9.  Yep, the backwards version of ours.  Arigatougozaimasu!

P.S. Tokyo Doko translated really is Tokyo Where. I added the question mark.
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