From The Archives: November 2009

The Lineup: Bay Bridge Diamond

Editor's Note: From time to time, I post the details of an upcoming San Francisco Bay Area celestial lineup. See this post for an introduction and more general information.

Howdy, pardner!  Polish up yer telephoto lens, oil that tripod, and bust out them walkin’ shoes.  ’Cause we’re gonna rope us a lineup!

The "Diamond" Lineup

The "Diamond" Lineup

This week, the coming winter solstice treats us to a classic combination of the northeast-rising full moon with the support struts of the Bay Bridge’s Tower Three (the second-nearest tower to San Francisco).  You can see it both Tuesday and Wednesday, from the Embarcadero sidewalk, between the southern end of Cupid’s Span and the bay, near 37.79145 north, 122.38945 west (click for a map).  Arrive with time to spare before it happens at 4:32pm on Tuesday, or 5:32pm on Wednesday, and once the moon crests the East Bay hills, take a few strides to perfect the alignment with the lowest, diamond-shaped gap at the tower’s base.

Simultaneous with the Tuesday lineup, the sun sets behind Twin Peaks, so the bridge and sky will have much more light on them than my shot above. On Wednesday, the sun has already passed far below the horizon, so everything but the moon will be darker, perhaps significantly. Tuesday’s moon is full and round, and Wednesday’s, waning and ever-so-slightly asymmetrical.

Particulars from my lineup calculator:

"Bay Bridge, Third Tower, Base Diamond Hole"
from "Embarcadero Boulevard Sidewalk, Mission to Harrison"
    moon within 0.0 degrees at Tue 01/Dec/2009 16:32:30 PST
    to landmark: alt 2.3 deg, az 60.4 deg, distance 0.91 km
    to body: alt 2.3 deg, az 60.4 deg
    from lat,lon 37.791506,-122.389516
    sun at 2.3 degrees
    phase 100%

"Bay Bridge, Third Tower, Base Diamond Hole"
from "Embarcadero Boulevard Sidewalk, Mission to Harrison"
    moon within 0.0 degrees at Wed 02/Dec/2009 17:32:10 PST
    to landmark: alt 2.3 deg, az 59.3 deg, distance 0.90 km
    to body: alt 2.3 deg, az 59.3 deg
    from lat,lon 37.791388,-122.389376
    sun at -8.3 degrees
    phase 99%

Use this information however you please, within the terms of the Lineup License.

Good luck and have fun!

Barrel O’ Links: November 2009

One stuffed turkey’s worth of linky goodness:

  • A high-resolution panorama of the Milky Way (Axel Mellinger)
  • Feeling lucky just got weirder… (Autocomplete Me)
  • From coffee bean to carbon atom (University of Utah)
  • The Pear Flag? Seriously? (Snopes)
  • For the middle-aged, parental, rocker types: Goodnight Keith Moon (GKM)
  • There’s nowhere like home (PewResearch)
  • Mandelbrot + three dimensions = Mandelbulb (Skytopia)
  • Your crass commercialism is in my mass-marketed sports spectacle! (Yahoo)
  • It’s always the booze that gets ya (SeriousEats)
  • Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space (Slate)
  • Paying a Price for the Thrill of the Hunt (NYTimes)
  • Hide the nighties and tidy whities? (Yahoo)

The Flag Of Pure Bliss

Banners For A Perfect World

Dear Orwell, Dick, and Heinlein: your broken societies are fine.  I love it when you opine, and I don’t mean to whine, but more I must decline.  Because…

It’s time to get our utopia on!  Let’s dissolve all nations.  Break down the borders.  Unite!  Derive all our energy from the sun.  Harmonize with higher powers.  Open our chakras.  Harness our Ch’i.  Enjoy endless leisure.  Swap sweet serenades in Franco-Portuguesperanto.  And dine on terrific fusion food: sushi Szechuan, pad paneer, bi bim burrito, crepes creole, and more!

Shemar Moore and Eva Longoria

Shemar Moore and Eva Longoria

In our Rave New World, the gene pool dances a global lambada.  Humanity’s tones – the myriad shades of white, yellow, tan, red, and black, evolved over millennia of separation – melt straightaway to a radiant Mediterranean brown.  Everyone comes with healthy skin, excellent bone structure, and supermodel good looks – just like Shemar Moore and Eva Longoria.  Mrow!

In honor of those two alluring stars, we christen our utopia as Shemar-Longoriana.  We’ll also need a flag: to affix to the bumper of the AirRover, paint on our faces for the Pan Galactic Championship game, and hoist to the top of the otherwise vacant staffs.

Click here to read more →

The Steeps Of San Francisco

In Search Of The City's Steepest Street

A Steep San Francisco Street

A Steep San Francisco Street

Ask a San Franciscan about the City’s steepest streets, and four out of five times, he’ll say something like “Great for scaring the bejeezus out of tourists!”

Or, sweat beading upon his brow, he might recount that Damp Morning when he drove his Manual Transmission up the Impossible Grade, and was forced to stop, just below the top!  In frantic pantomime, he’ll pull the emergency brake and disengage the clutch.  Crane his neck to peer anxiously at the car sniffing his downhill bumper.  Bulge his eyes.  Gun the engine.  Pop the clutch.  Release the brakes.  Lay down some rubber with a piercing squeal.  Float his steed slowly onto the flat.  Wave the smoke from his eyes.  Pump his arms in brief celebration.  And finally, grouse about that sadistic driving instructor who got him into the pickle in the first place.  What a jerk!

Flush with the desire to frighten out-of-town guests, or to take the aforementioned test of motoring skill, you’ll need a suitable road with hill.  Google the “steepest streets in San Francisco” and you’ll find this:

Click here to read more →

Quesadilla San Luis

Decades of experiments in the Weather Sealed kitchen have yielded a collection of easy-to-cook recipes that maximize enjoyment per unit effort. From time to time, we'll share them here.

Midwestern Sensibilities and a certain flat, Latin American staple have dated for years now, and just yesterday, they proudly announced yet another fruit of their affection: Quesadilla San Luis, the St. Louis-style quesadilla.

Yeah, buddy, you heard that right: St. Louis, as in Missouri.  Where the rank-and-file toil from dawn ’til dusk – brewing Budweiser, extruding plastic, stamping sheet metal, and rendering chicken fat.  Down on the blue collar banks of the Mississippi, come quittin’ time, the beers need a sturdy dancing partner.  And that sissy tortilla-and-cheese quesadilla ain’t gonna cut it!

A typical Friday evening call to St. Louis 911:

Caller:  Hey you there??!?!
Operator:  Yes, sir?
Caller:  Sweet Jesus it hurts!
Operator:  Sir, what is your address?
Caller:  Aaa!  Aaaaaa!  I need protein!
Operator:  Stay calm, sir.  I’ve pinpointed your location and am sending help: Quesadilla San Luis.  Just like its Mexican namesake, but meatier.
Caller:  Thanks, darlin’!

And now, without further ado, the recipe!

Quesadilla San Luis


two flour tortillas
one sausage
1 cup grated monterey jack
½ cup grated sharp cheddar
½ cup chopped yellow onion
one tomato
two mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon green chile powder


Chop onion, sausage, mushrooms, and tomato.  Grate and combine cheddar and jack cheese. Put onion, sausage, and olive oil in small pan.  Fry on medium heat until onions are “floppy.”  Add mushrooms, tomato, cumin, ginger, and green chile powder.  Saute on medium heat, stirring well, for two minutes.  Melt butter in large pan.  Place tortilla in large pan.  Spread cheese and “sausage mixture” evenly across tortilla.  Place another tortilla on top.  Fry on medium until bottom tortilla browns.  Flip, carefully!  Brown the other tortilla.  Remove from heat.  Cut into sixths.  Garnish to taste, with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, chopped green onions, and beer.

Serves one St. Louis factory worker or two yuppies.