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September 29, 2011

Links of Interest: A Few Upcoming Events You May Enjoy...

There's a number of assorted events I've been finding out about that you may enjoy. All are accessible via the Mighty N and other assorted Muni lines, and most are free or cost little to participate!

First, obviously, is this weekend's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park, which starts tomorrow. This is a huge event every year, so you can pretty much plan on having a lot of people concentrated in one place, and expect Muni to be super crowded all weekend. Anyone thinking of driving and finding parking nearby the event needs to rethink that, since there simply isn't an endless supply of free parking on City streets out here, and besides, why ruin a day stuck in your car when you could be at the event?

Next, the folks at Reset San Francisco (aka the Phil Ting For Mayor Campaign) is holding a "Reset the N Judah" event on Saturday, October 1st at 1pm. The event will be held at Villa Romana restaurant on Irving, across from the 9th/Irving stop. This is one in a series of events for specific lines. I have no idea what the format will be, but after attending past events, they are usually pretty open to suggestions from the public. Besides, it's at Villa Romana - how can you possibly go wrong with a venue like that?

Coming up in just a few weeks is the Inner Sunset Street Fair, which will be held on October 16th. There's still time to donate in support of the event or get a booth, so if you're so inclined, contact the organizers immediately and give them a hand. Unlike chain-produced fairs which all have the same booths and same sponsors, this one is much more community based, and is aiming to be more representative of the residents and their interests, so it really is worthy of your support.

Later that evening, the Inner Sunset Anywhere Cinema will be showing movies. Check their site for the location, and enjoy the show with your neighbors. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, and it won't be too cold outside!

Finally, the good people at Market Street Railway will be hosting another charter F Line ride on October 23rd. Weather permitting, this charter ride will be on the famous "Boat Tram" that you see from time to time on the F line. The tour starts and ends at the Market Street Railway Museum at 77 Steuart Street, and will feature historical commentary from Harlan Hirschfeld from City Guides and Mike Frew from Market Street Railway. The cost is $30, which covers the cost of the charter fees. These events often sell out quickly, so if you want to go, be sure to reserve a spot right away!

More events are coming soon, including a Happy Hour with the N Judah Chronicles. Details TBA!

June 3, 2011

1 Piece of Muni News You May Have Missed, and a Hilarious Recount of One You Didn't

There's two pieces of news regarding Muni (sorta). The first is one you may have missed: State Sen. Mark Leno made good on a promise during his election campaign to once again introduce a bill that would allow counties to vote to raise a local vehicle license tax with a majority vote. I remember hearing then-candidate Leno talk about this in 2008 and was a tad skeptical if this would even leave the State Senate, but it has.

Such a plan is more than equitable. Although Leno's bill does not allow candidates to restore the VLF to the pre-Schwarzengger cut levels (the vote could only raise it 2% of the total value of the vehicle, including the state's portion), the fact that local counties would have the option to vote themselves a tax, or say "Hell No" to a tax, would restore some local control over funding. Gov. Doofinator's arbitrary cut set in motion a good portion of the state's revenue problem, and it had a particularly damning effect on transit and roads (as did his looting, but you know that already if you read this, so no need to go over that point again).

What's interesting about this bill is that a Board of Supervisors in California would have to pass it with a 2/3rds majority (meaning conservative counties need not fear this ever being on their ballot in the first place) and would need a hefty majority to pass. So it's not like suddenly every county is going to pass this - I seriously doubt such a plan would even pass in car-dependent Los Angeles County. It is, however a chance for San Francisco County to go its own way and have local money go to dedicated local projects, such as streets and transit. Besides, wouldn't this be better than borrowing billions and blowing out our local budget that way?

The second piece of news was the report that someone got sick and barfed all over a Muni Metro train, and the operator wouldn't let people off. While news reports were rather dry (oh did I just say that?), TK from 40 Going on 28 wrote up the scene in screenplay form, and well, if you missed it, here it is.

April 29, 2011

Links of Interest: Other Blogs All Along the N-Judah, and More!

It's been one heck of a week in All Things Muni Related. First we find out that the big accident at West Portal was a world-class failwhale hatched by BOTH Muni management AND the operator, and cost us all a lot of cash (that could have been spent on, oh I don't know RUNNING THE SYSTEM), the Muni operators' union "leadership" continued their suicide course and don't seem to mind who they take with them, and so on.

So, to lighten the mood a little I thought I'd link to some other blogs that are all along the N-Judah line. This is by no means a definitive list - if you know of one I should list, please post it in the comments. Eventually after the site redesign is done, I plan on making this its own page so people can find it easier.

- Haighteration has been with us about a year or so, and is a welcome addition to the constellation of blogs all around San Francisco. If you live in the Lower Haight, and aren't reading it, you're missing out. And if you don't live in the Lower Haight, and aren't reading it, well you should. If nothing else if you're planning a night out, Haighteration is the blog you want to read so you don't miss out on anything fun going on around there!

- Cole Valley Alley is a newer blog as well, but again, this is the blog to be reading if you are living in Cole Valley. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the writers for this blog at the Other Cafe event at the JCC last month, and he was a cool guy.

- Proof that Cole Valley is a vibrant place to live, it also has ColeValleySF.com, which has a history angle to it in addition to neighborhood news. You may wonder how it is that a smaller neighborhood like Cole Valley has so many blogs. Think about it though - it's a nice area that's been around a long time, and it's wedged in between several other neighborhoods so there's going to be some crossover between events Elsewhere and in the Valley. As a former resident of Parnassus Avenue, it's no surprise to me we have so many writers in this area, in the shadow of UCSF.

- Sunset Style proves once again that when outsiders blabber on about how "boring" the Sunset District is, they don't know what they're talking about. She has an amazing collection of photos showing the unique properties of the area. She even has some pictures of my apartment's garden!

- I'm not sure where the line goes from "blog" to "local newspaper", but whatever you want to call it, the Ocean Beach Bulletin has great news and history, and is edited by Tom Prete (whom if you've not met, you should because he's a nice guy and he's smart). Reading the OBB I'm reminded of all those local community papers that used to dot the landscape of the City and the Peninsula more than anything else. Lately it has been on top of some pretty important stuff, such as the tsunami warning, the boat that ran aground at the beach, and so on.

A few other links worth noting include:

- We all know the SF Appeal is awesome. But did you know they compile links of Muni related news from all around town every day? You didn't? Well now you know. It's a wonderful new feature and it makes my life a bit easier, since now I can find links faster than my Google News Alerts (sometimes).

- California Streets is a great blog anyway, but they have compiled a detailed plan to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles - using nothing but local transit. Sure it takes 30 hours. Yes, you have to stay overnight in Santa Maria. Some enterprising band of folks I'm sure will take up the challenge, and hopefully document it on video. THAT would be AWESOME.

Finally this: Courtesy of Lisa Katayama's Tokyo Mango blog, there's this wonderful, hella gone viral video that documents the debut of a high speed train in Kyushu. Now, this line opened up on March 12th, one day after the earthquake that devastated much of the east coast of Japan. The ad itself didn't appear until much later.

You can't help but watch this and admire the spirit of unity and pride the people of Japan have in this new train. While we in the US are mired in know-nothingism, choose-up-sidery, NIMBYism, whiny entitlement BS, here you have Japan, which gets hit by a major disaster, and people are still out there doing things. The diversity of all the people along the line cheering this new HSR line along just makes you feel good. Didn't we used to be like that once?

Happy Weekend!

March 25, 2011

Links of Interest: The N-Judah at All City, Dogfest 2011, More Switchback Talk, and More!

NJudah300.jpgI've been lagging on posts this week, due to a number of things that I had to do this week. So, to catch up, here's some Links of Interest for this week.

-First, the picture featured in this post is from the new photoblog, "All City." which promises to be a wonderful site for urban photography. Here they caught an unusual shot of the N going through Powell Station!

-Next, I wanted to do an urgent shout-out to the folks at McKinley School who are putting on DogFest 2011 in Duboce Park. This annual event for dogs, their guardians, and anyone who likes dogs, parks, good schools, or just plain fun helps support the ongoing arts and science programs at the school. I try to go as often as I can, as I no longer have a dog of my own, but dogs are cool.

-Remember the last time the City Operations and Neighborhoods Committee (led at the time by Sup. Carmen Chu) grilled Muni about the constant "switchbacks" of the N and L and M? Remember how both Supervisors Chu and Avalos were having none of Muni's BS, and held Muni brass's feet to the fire?

Well if you missed out on your chance to say something, stop by City Hall on Monday, March 28th, starting at 10am (!) and say something. Although the focus is on the J and 14 Mission lines, let's remind some of the new members of the committee why this is a systemwide problem, and that Muni can't keep offering excuses. The committee is now chaired by Sup. John Avalos, and now has Supervisors Mar and Elsbernd on board, as Sup. Chu now chairs the Budget committee.

Today is likely to be a rainy day of sorts, and it's Critical Mass day, so plan accordingly. Perhaps I'll see some of you at the Other Cafe Comedy Night at the JCC! Have a great weekend!

March 20, 2011

Remember the Other Cafe? Well It's Back (Sort Of) And There's a Few Free Tickets Available!

If you look carefully at Crepes on Cole, you might notice an old, weathered sign for the Other Cafe, which uses to be in that location back in the 80s and early 90s. That was during San Francisco's Golden Age of comedy, where there were actual comedy clubs all around town, and an explosion of talent. I used to go to the Other Cafe, especially when my friends performed. Many of them have gone on to write or perform for Saturday Night Live, the Daily Show, and other assorted productions. It was a great time to be in the city, and the shows were great - an interactive experience you can't replicate on TV.

Then the 90s recession hit, cable TV started showing stand up comedy, and the clubs began to die off, one by one, due to increasing rents, etc. However, while the Other Cafe may be no more, Bob Ayres, the former owner, is organizing comedy shows again. Best of all he wants you, folks from the "neighborhood" (i.e. Cole Valley, Haight, Sunset) to attend - and he's willing to give you FREE tickets! What a nice guy!

There's a limited supply, so click on this link right now and RSVP, since the show is this coming Saturday, March 26th, at the JCC center on California street. Featured comedians include Don Gavin, Will Durst, and Johnny Steele. The fact that free tickets are being offered is a really cool gesture, so please, don't sign up for them unless you are actually going to attend. This should be a great show, so check it out if you can!

October 29, 2010

Random Links of Interest For Friday, October 29th-No on Fang, Yes on 22, Critical Mass, and More!

There's a lot of Muni and weekend related linkage out there I wanted to make sure folks saw, so quickly now, here's some Links of Interest:

-Yes, there's Critical Mass today. On a rainy day. Amidst ongoing epic Muni Fail. Plan (or drink) accordingly.

-The SF Appeal has a nicely formatted list of Muni alerts for the weekend...especially useful since it looks like it shall be raining quite a bit this weekend.

-The official Flickr Blog had this interesting post of a Flickr user who licensed their photo via Getty Images and saw their photo used as part of a bus wrap for a Kaiser Permanente ad. Of all the wraps I've seen, this is actually a cool one, almost as cool as the Wall-E one a few years ago.

-One of the Loyal Readers pointed out to me this site, which is lobbying to preserve the pre-tax commuter benefit that was introduced last year. If you can take advantage of something like this, it's a great deal. You don't have to spend your money on a Muni pass either - that money can be used for a bike, or gas for the car or whatever, it just has to be spent on commuting. While I can't participate in these, if you can, you should, and they should not let something that puts money back in your pocket rot.

-One of the biggest reasons Muni (and every local transit agency) is having so much financial difficulty is due to the constant raids on local funds so the state can pretend to solve its perennial budget mess, while passing the pain of administering cuts to the local level. It's a sick upset of local control over local funds and services. The Yes on 22 campaign is trying to put a stop to it. The arguement against it of course is "but if the state can't steal local money, widows and schoolkids and Other Good Things will lose money." That's like saying "if the mugger can't stab you and steal your wallet, he'll have to buy fewer drugs."

-I've been meaning to write a sequel to my anti-James Fang post of the past, but Eric of Transbay blog has already written an excellent, positive piece explaining why you should vote to replace 20-year do nothing BART board member Fang with Bert Hill. Go read it NOW.

-Finally, some clever folks came up with this site to count the number of days since a Muni Fail, similar to those signs you see at factories about the number of days since an accident. Funny how it seems stuck on "0"! Don't forget to also use the MuniFail.com site featured earlier this year too!

September 3, 2010

Friday: The Week In Review, Some Fun Things, And More...

This week has been interesting, to say the least. And by "interesting" I mean "OMGWTFLOL" or something. I mean, the evening commutes this week have been marked by incredible delays and failures. You'd think by now someone at Muni might figure that if it's going to work at some point in the day, perhaps the evening commute might not be a bad place to start. Alas.

Someone decided to revive the concept of the "Dear Mr. Ford" feature of SFist.com and make a whole blog about it, noting the recent commuting craziness. Interesting.

Other Muni Detritus:

-Over at my side project, the Muni Rider Voter Guide, the deadline is rapidly approaching. I think I made a mistake in giving candidates too much time to fill this thing out, especially since it's short and isn't tied to an endorsement. I'd list who hasn't responded, but that would take up too much space so instead I'll list who did instead:


-District 2: NONE
-District 4: NONE, but there's only one candidate anyway
-District 6: Jim Meko, Glendon "Anna Conda" Hyde, Harold "H" Brown, Dean Clark
-District 8: Scott Weiner, Bill Hemenger
-District 10: Lynette Sweet, Steve Moss

The deadline is coming up in a few days so I'm hoping to hear back from more people. If you live in any of these districts, you might want to bug candidates you see out and about asking for votes to return their questionnaires soon. So far the responses we've received have been very revealing about the candidates' experiences with Muni and what they'd do if elected.

-A lot of attention was given to the opposition by TWU to Muni service cuts this week, first by myself and later by our friends at the SF Weekly and elsewhere. However, commenter David, who is keeps a vigilant eye on daily service reports, noted that the real opposition is due to reformed sick leave and absence policies, which drive up overtime costs, and allow for that whole "pay me not to work and screw you" policy that is killing Muni's budgets (along with plenty of other reasons). Good catch, David!

-We're still waiting for a clarification on the mysterious "Route One" message some N riders heard the other day, and we're still waiting to hear when the Irving St. bus shelters might make their return (although in fairness they are putting one up for the 44 on 9th right now).

-Friend of the NJC Matt Baume sent us this video of the speed of the N Judah on Sunday, August 29th (yay!) which indicates where it's moving along and where it slows down. Very interesting use of public data!

-Finally a few fun notes: This weekend is the San Francisco Zine Fest over at the County Fair Building. This is always a fun event to attend and many cool people will be showing off some interesting zines. (For the Youth of America, a zine is like a blog but on paper, printed at Kinkos). Back in the olden days, I produced more of these things than I care to admit, I have to say.

Also, the famous Trolley Dances will make their return on October 16th on the N Judah line. This is an annual occurrence we've been reporting on since 2006 and it's great to have them back on the N! Best of all your only cost is your fare! What a bargain!

Have a great Labor Day Weekend! Post any events of interest in the comments!

August 13, 2010

Friday Roundup: An Event on Irving, Outside Lands, Muni Rider Voter Guide, Etc.

Laundryshowpostcard-1.jpgThere's about half a dozen pieces of blogging detritus hopping around on my Mac's hard drive right now and not enough time to write a separate post for each one, so here's a short roundup on a number of topics.

First, however, is an art show I'd heard about last night at the Inner Sunset meetup at the Little Shamrock. Entitled "Dirty Laundry," it's an art show hosted by ART I.S. at Laundrapalooza (an actual laundromat), on Irving between 23rd and 24th. It's an interesting idea, to say the least and if you're in the neighborhood between 7 and 10 and aren't going to Outside Lands, you should check it out.

- Speaking of Outside Lands, this year's music festival starts tomorrow, August 14th and will last through the weekend. If you're coming out to the festival, don't be a fool and drive. THERE IS NOT GOING TO BE ANY PARKING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND TRAFFIC WILL SUCK. Both the Richmond SF blog and Akit's Complaint Department offer some suggestions on how to enjoy the festival, or at least not have it ruin your life if you live nearby. Personally, I think by only having it on the weekend, and leaving out Friday made it easier for everyone - the Friday commute isn't hosed and it sounds like this time around things will work out better than the first one a few years ago. Plus they have locals providing the food this time. Cool.

- My side project, the Muni Rider Voter Guide, received its first candidate questionnaire returned today. Candidate Jim Meko, running in District 6, sent in his responses just a day after receiving the questionnaire in the e-mail. I was curious to see who would do so, and decided to have a secret prize for the first respondent - a pre December 2009 cuts map of the Muni system which I'd obtained at the end of 2009 from the MTA via then-spokesman Judson True.

Not only is it laminated, in mint condition and easily framed, it is also a reminder that this recent chatter about "restoration of cuts" is not even close to the cuts they made back then - and labeled an "overhaul." Congratulations Mr. Meko and candidates, please send in your questionnaires so voters know how you stand on Muni issues.

-Another update: You may or may not recall a challenge I made to Muni management to actually ride Muni. In June, I marked off Day 42 of the challenge, having heard not a word from said bigwigs. I know, shocking, right?

Well now you can tack on another 45 days to that, bring us to Day 87 of no response from Muni management. You can also tack on 45 days for the long awaited answers regarding the Muni shelters on 9th and Irving as well. Tick tock, MTA!

Finally, this really doesn't have a lot to do with anything, but I collected the "The Social Network" movie trailer (My GOD that movie sounds like it's going to be snoreville) along with all the parodies, which are way more entertaining. Go to the Blog Some People Read, and check it out.

August 7, 2010

I'd Rather Have an "Irving and 9th" Lego Set But This Will Do

legotransitset.jpgFor some reason, I get the oddest recommendations at YouTube when I look at the "Recommended for You" selections. For example, just because I "favorited" (is that even a word?) a video called "Public Transit, Who Needs It," I now get a bunch of videos with Paul Lynde on there recommended to me. That's a bit repetitive.

However, because I favorited (I really shouldn't use that word, it just offends the grammarian in me) a video about a working model of the San Francisco Cable Car system, I get these "Lego" videos recommended to me every so often. The other day I was recommended one about a newly available set that features a bus, a tram, a tram station (which is quite similar to the ones by the ballpark), passengers and the like. I always liked Legos as a kid, mostly because you could build whatever you liked with them, and if you spent the time, could create something really elaborate.

While talking with colleague Mason Powell about this, we both agreed it would be rather awesome to develop an "Irving and 9th" Lego set, complete with a little Blackthorn Tavern, Farmer's Market, mini figures of people bugging people for signatures, and so on. When I win the lottery, I'll get right on that one...

July 9, 2010

Fun Friday (Finally!): Fun Muni Apps, Fun Bicycles, Fun Links and a High Five!

IMG_1004.JPGIt's been a heck of a week, what with Fourth of July festivities, World Cup matches, a protest in the Inner Funset, trial verdicts and so on. If ever there was a need for a Fun Friday, this is it.

So, without further ado, here's all sorts of random fun in no particular order.

-Jay, who runs the family owned Sunset Barber on 9th Avenue was off most of the week - because he and his wife just had their first baby boy, Issa (named after Jay's dad)! Congratualtions to Jay and his family! If you're going by the Sunset Barber, be sure to congratulate him when you get your next haircut.

-A bit belated but still good news: The Inner Fog Wine Bar (pictured, via iPhone) on Irving and 7th (same building as One Shot Tattoo) opened on June 2nd. My friend Elaine and I crashed the party after spying Sup. Ross Mirkarimi as we left Pacific Catch last week. It's definitely a fun spot - it's hard to believe Crossroads (which moved down the block) used to have its dressing rooms there.

Now it's a warm, inviting place to hang out with friends over a fine wine. Elaine wrote about our adventures there last week.

-A new Muni App was annoucned today in the Apple Store: Muniverse. This was co-authored by our own Loyal Reader Jamison, and from what I've seen so far, it's yet another unique use of the freely available NextMuni data. This is critical - with open data, many people are able to come up with new and unusual ways to provide said data giving you, the Muni owner, many options. I will be reviewing this app as well as Transporter (which I've been using, along with Routesy).

Special note to Android users: I would love to review any Next Muni Android apps, but I do not have an Android phone, so if you find on and would like to show it to me and help me write a review, feel free to email me.

Finally, Streetsblog posted links to this video of a rather unique take on mobile street food, beer, and bikes. I swear, if you had a bunch of these available to ride during Critical Mass, they'd make a lot of friends REALLY fast.


Have a great weekend!

May 14, 2010

Bay To Breakers Muni Info! It's $10! Woo Hoo!

This weekend, as I've noted, there's plenty of fun things to do in and around town. However, Bay to Breakers is one of the larger events, and as our friends at SFist and the fine people at the SFMTA have noted, there's some serious impacts on Muni service you may want to know about. Check both sites out for a detailed schedule of service changes.

Easiest way to describe it? The city will be split in two for a while by an array of partiers and runners, so if you have intricate plans to go north or south, be aware you will have delays.

Also, if you plan on using the Special Event Buses and whatnots, PLEASE be aware that the cost is $10 ($7 with pass, as per the SFMTA site, so please stop yelling at me ok?). And, try and buy said magic ticket early, instead of waiting until the end of the race when you and 60,000 other people will all be cramming into slow busy buses and trying to pay (because you're all cool and pay your fares, right?) Yeah I know "$7or10forslowmuniomgwtfcursemutterswear" but let's see if the we can hold off a failwhale fleet this time, shall we?

Finally, if you're wondering just what you can and cannot do at said Bay To Breakers run and wish to avoid being compressed by The Man, our friends at the SF Appeal have a basic list of do's and don'ts for the event. Play nice and play safe, everyone!

March 4, 2010

Links of Interest - Funny Money, Funny Numbers, and A Meeting to Save Muni

Talking Muni seems to be en vogue these days. I'm not sure why it is now vs. say, a year ago or more. I have to say, the devolution of the discussion into a mish mosh of misinformation, mistakes, and mayhem has been kind of depressing to watch, and it's why I've been staying away from the computer most of the week.

However, some good folks around the Internet have been getting these things called "actual facts", and said facts are useful if anyone wants to be effective in doing anything of substance. Simply stamping one's feet, and defiantly proclaiming ignorance never got anyone anywhere.

First, Eric of Transbay Blog has two excellent posts analyzing Muni finances. One concerns proposals by SPUR and MTA staff to balance future budgets, and another about the MTA board's inability to do their jobs vis a vis funding a functional transit system.

At a time when politicians are peddling all sorts of faux "Fix Muni Quick" schemes, it's important to know what the facts are.

SF Weekly also had some interesting posts. First, they thoroughly debunk the sheer BS the TWU folks were bellowing out this week when they marched on City Hall. The Weekly (and the Examiner) also report that news that the TWU hired legendary political strategist Eric Jaye were premature (and prove once again TWU leadership doesn't know what it's doing in a rough environment).

Finally, there's a "Save Muni Summit" this Saturday at 9am at the Women's Building located at 3543 18th Street (between Valencia and Guerrero). The event has quiet a few co-sponsors from around the city. And, if you're really depressed (or really energized) by all the Muni talk, you can go to the 500 Club a block away and have a cocktail.

February 24, 2010

Links of Interest: This Week's MTA Torture Session, Today's Muni FailWhale Regatta, and more!

NJudah-mug-half.jpgToday was a mid-afternoon failwhale regatta, just outside my place. It seems there was a downed N Judah inbound, which created a conga line of stalled trains, and the resulting domino effect all over the place.

The irony of this, along with a string of accidents and other big ol' fails, on the eve of a vote Friday where (surprise) the MTA will vote to jack up fares and cut Muni service 10% or more, is not lost on me. Remember all those "hearings" where people poured out their hearts and their ideas to help Muni? Well they were pretty much for show, as I predicted, and the MTA could give two fraks what you or I think.

Obviously, this has many people worried, and Dave Snyder, formerly of SPUR, is organizing a new group to give you, the owner of Muni, a stronger voice. For now, they've got a temporary site at muniriders.org where you can join an email list and find out how you might get involved. I don't know a lot of the details, but as I find them out, I'll pass them on. Remember, we are the owners, but we have to act like owners now, and not just buy in to whatever snake oil interest groups or politicians peddle to us.

Speaking of spin, as we all know, the TWU operators rejected some proposed changes to pension rules and such, but it's also becoming clear that many operators didn't have the proposal explained properly to them. Several that I talked to in an informal poll basically confirmed that, and had many questions that never got answered, and regretted their vote, once they realized the effects of that vote.

To say this is the latest in a string of PR blunders for TWU would be an understatement, and the leadership didn't seem to understand the tense climate they're now operating in. That is, until I heard the news they hired Eric Jaye to provide consulting services for TWU.

Needless to say, this is important - Jaye is one of the better strategists out there, and if there's a campaign battle to be fought, well, he's one of the guys you'd want on your side and not on the others. (Full disclosure - 2 years ago I worked as a contractor for Mr. Jaye's company, but do not do so now, nor will I in the near future I'd imagine. However, having seen his work, all I can say is he's a hell of a lot smarter than I or most in that line of work).

Finally, something fun: the Inner Sunset Facebook Group folks are having one of their famous bar meet ups at Yancy's on Thursday at 8pm. These events are fun and Yancy's is literally right in front of the N outbound stop on Irving and 9th, so why not stop by if you can?

And, if you want to express your solidarity with your fellow Muni owners, why not buy one of our many products this week? Zazzle currently has a 22% discount if you buy 2 items in one order (use code TWOTWENTYTWO when checking out), and will also offer you $5 off your next order if you send in a picture of yourself with your purchased items! Check out the Zazzle.com site for details.

February 9, 2010

Links of Interest: Muni Town Hall Meetings (again), Twitter Talk, Etc.

muni_cutout copy.jpgThere's quite a lot going on around town. The biggest and most fascinating and important one is of course a Town Hall Meeting on Muni, tonight at 6pm at Muni HQ. A word of advice if you plan on attending - just showing up and telling a horror story about your commute isn't enough to really do anything to impress the MTA commissioners to do anything for you. If such pleas did anything, well we wouldn't be in the mess we are in.

Instead, you really should try and push them to consider real revenue measures to plug the multi million dollar hole the state created for Muni (and all transit agencies). We can't plug that hole with a few parking meters and more parking tickets and declining service and fare increases. Until the Mayor and his crew get serious about that, all the pleas in the world will fall on deaf ears. The Examiner had a summary of what other agencies have done in similar situations you might want to read first.

If you can't be there, but want to follow along, you can go to SFGOVTV.org, or watch it on cable TV, or follow any one of a number of people who will live tweet the meeting.

But not all is doom and gloom out there. The other day I was pointed in the direction of this Trulia website by SallyTV, and it's an interesting look at neighborhoods, based on when homes were built. It's rather startling to see an area like the Inner Sunset, which had the majority of homes built before the 30s, and hasn't really changed that much. Other neighborhoods spring up at different times. Try it out, it's fun!

Finally, my friend Joe at SF Weekly called and we had a talk about Twittering Muni. They were even kind enough to post an image of the FailWahle N Judah, which my friend Lauren designed. (Although to be fair, they did repair that sinkhole rather quickly on Saturday, which averted a Hellish commute on Monday.)

UPDATE: I caught up with some twitter coverage of the hearing, and it was nice to hear so many people at least try and offer the MTA some suggestions on ways to find a real solution, and not just complain. Will the MTA Board listen? Probably not, but that's because their boss, King Green Gavin, doesn't want Muni to work, and is committed to destroying the system.

Oh, here's something else to consider- Nate "300,000/year+benefits" Ford gets paid for the length of his contract NO MATTER WHAT. That means he can screw up as much as he likes, get fired and STILL GET PAID. Kinda puts that driver bonus into perspective, eh? I mean, the man makes more than a Supreme Court Judge....and yet he can't explain why a train in the West Portal tunnel in 2010 can't run faster than a train did in the 1930s.

February 4, 2010

The Innovators Keep On Rolling: Google Gadgets/Muni/NextBus Mashup!

googlegadgets.jpgThis morning I got an email from David Sohigian, (on Twitter at @dsohigian), a software developer and transit enthusiast, who developed a "Google Gadgets" application that can automatically update with 3 NextMuni updates for stops of your choosing. If you use iGoogle and have a page there, you simply install it and then you don't have to keep reloading NextMuni if all you want is what's arriving at up to 3 stops.

I tried it out and for what it does, it's remarkably simple. The app helps you figure out your transit stop ID# (courtesy of 511.org) and you're up and running. This sort of thing is useful if you have more than one option from your office or home, and want to quickly see which one is not enveloped in a failwhale delay when you're getting ready to leave.

Mr. Sohigian has also developed similar Google Gadget apps for Portland's TriMet system and the Chicago Transit Authority, and will roll out more for other cities in the future. If you have questions about it, you can find him on Twitter at the address listed above.

February 2, 2010

More Transit Map Pr0n and LOST Fun: The Dharma Transit Map!

tumblr_kwv1lj7zKp1qzv1yko1_500.pngI've been trying out Tumblr for a while now, and thanks to Reader Halsted, I was alerted to this pseudo-transit map of The Island on LOST. I thought it appropriate to link to, given that tonight is the Big Night on ABC.

The original, and notes by the artist, can be found here!

Links of Interest: Strong Beer Month, Some MTA Meeting, and More!

strongbeerposter.jpgI'm working on a couple of feature posts all at once that will go up later on this week. After all of last week's Muni drama, which got rather depressing, I thought I'd kick off the week with some links.

First off, is of course what I've been looking forward to, Strong Beer Month, at Magnolia Brewery (conveniently located on the 71, 6, and 43 lines) and 21st Amendment (a short walk from the N stop by the ballpark).

Given how potent these beers are, you'll want to take a bus or cab home. Over at 21st Amendment, they have as one of the (many) selections a special "strong" version of Elizabeth Street Brewery's Imperial Jack. Loyal Reader Nina and I had a chance to try a variant of this at the ESB headquarters and it's REALLY good. Plus if you get a punch card and try all 12 beers, you get a commemorative glass. How cool is that?

Don't forget that San Francisco Beer Week also starts up on Friday the 5th. There are so many events with so many great things going on, you need to check out their site. They even have an iPhone app to keep you apprised of what's going on.

Continuing the beer theme, if you are at all an aficionado of true Australian beer (Foster's is actually made in Georgia and Texas now), and you live in San Francisco, you can buy Victoria Bitter in the only location in the entire North American continent at the Cellar 360 store in Ghiradelli Square. They even have a club you can join where you can get several cases reserved for you to pick up. If you've ever had this, you'll want to take a 19 Polk over there and pick up some.

I also recently discovered the SF Noobs site, courtesy of a post at my friend and neighbor Julie's awesome I live here: SF photo blog. I've also been reading the Uptown Almanac blog, which never fails to entertain me.

Finally, some Muni trauma. Eric at Transbay Blog has possibly one of the best summations of how badly certain folks at City Hall and the MTA want to hose your daily lives as much as possible. Read it, then go attend a public hearing, and give the powers that be a hard time.

January 28, 2010

Need to Document Muni Fails, Fights, Wins or Fun? There's An App for That: Muni Diary!

IMG_0118.PNGGod Bless Google News Alerts. Thanks to my daily search, I found this interesting application for the iPhone called Muni Diary. It's a remarkably simple application for you to document what happened and where on your daily Muni ride (or daily Muni Fail, as it were.) It's a simple, easy way to organize your Muni incidents, be they fights or fun, or whatever.

The application is the work of Aaron Tait, a programmer living in West Portal. I have been trying out the application and it's simple, but an easy way to jot down notes in a Muni-specific fashion. I've often used the iPhone's Notepad for short notes but this one is kinda cool.

Plus, I see how one could extend this application, and connect it to other apps some day, etc. If nothing else it's fun to use.

I did a quick email interview with Aaron this afternoon, and asked him a few questions about his latest work, after the jump:

Continue reading "Need to Document Muni Fails, Fights, Wins or Fun? There's An App for That: Muni Diary!" »

January 26, 2010

How Cool Is This? MuniFail.com Lets You Tweet Newsom When Muni Makes You Late To Work.

munifailart.jpgTwitter can really give you the important news, fast, sometimes. This morning I turned on Echofon for MacOS, and saw that an enterprising Muni rider has created a rather awesome single serving site called MuniFail.com.

The site is brilliant for its simplicity - if you're late to work because Muni had a big ol' fail, you simply click on the button that says "Tell GAVIN" and you can send a message via Twitter to him (and you can add a little commentary too if you like.) It's so simple, and so brilliant, it has that "why didn't I think of that" feel that means it's a cool idea.

I sent a direct message to the author of the site and will post more later. For now, use it as often as you need to. Perhaps the intern monitoring his Twitter account will be so freaked out they'll go running into the Mayor's office, screaming "make them stop make them stop!" and well, something will happen.

UPDATE:I got in touch with Mike Monteiro, the creator of the site, and did a short email interview with him here:

What is your name, and what Muni routes do you tend to use around SF?

My name is Mike Monteiro. I live around the Church and Market area, where a ton of routes congregate. But mostly it's the N to work. Or the F down Market if I'm looking for a romantic experience of climbing over a passed out meth head on a well-crafted vehicle of yesteryear.

What inspired you to come up with the idea?

Sitting in a tunnel, getting later and later for work, realizing that it was taking me 30 minutes to go 3 miles. Again. I started writing angry tweets to Gavin Newsom. And since this was happening on a regular basis, any good monkey with a tool starts looking for a way to automate a routine task, right? So my friend, David McCreath, and I threw this up in about an hour.

What do you hope will happen as people use your site to express their frustration with Muni?

Honestly, my only goal is for the system to get better. The default tweet it sends out is purposely benign. I'd rather generate volume than vitriol. Hopefully, if enough people let the mayor know how this bad service is affecting them he'll be forced to fly back into town and at least address it.

What's the funniest thing you've seen while riding Muni?

This one was tough, but I'm gonna go with the the old man cutting his toenails next to the metallic painted pier 39 mime eating a sandwich.

Anything else you'd want our readers to know?

Please, for the love of God, let me exit before you try to board. It will end so badly some day. And enjoy our other site: http://hasgavinnewsomresignedyet.com/

January 15, 2010

Fun Friday: Transit Map Pr0n And A Holiday Surprise from the SFMTA/Muni!

MWTA.pngI was all set to write a short post about an interesting article at The Design Observer about the different design concepts behind transit maps, and the relative merits of each, but then I noticed the (awesome) Burrito Justice blog already posted a similar post, which is cool.

The overall discussion is an interesting one from a design perspective - do you make a map that follows the (often odd) geography of a region, as some do, or do you take the more geometric approach that the London Underground picked? Which one conveys the information best to the potential rider? The arguments for different approaches are interesting to me, as someone who has to deal with design issues daily.

However, after reading Deisgn Observer's post, I ended up finding a number of unusual maps people have created, all with some common themes, and they were rather entertaining. First, was this map of the US Interstate System, done in the style of the London Underground. What started as a post on Flickr ended up becoming a phenomenon online, and you can buy high quality prints of the artists' work.

The other (pictured) is a map of….the Milky Way Galaxy (aka the Milky Way Transit Authority"). Reader Michael noted this on Tumblr.com and I found the original site online. I thought this was rather entertaining - you can get a PDF and related merchandise at the original site.

Finally…over the holidays Reader Nina asked me what was going to become of all the old Muni maps at the many bus stops that were replaced and it if was possible to get one before they were all tossed in the recycler. A quick call to SFMTA spokesman Judson True, and I found out they were to be recycled, so I asked if I could have a few, since they were headed to the recycle bin anyways.

Imagine my surprise when I got a very very small stash of high quality laminated maps of Muni (pre cuts) thanks to our pal Judson! They are rather cool, and were a nice find right around holiday time. Also, some thanks go out to Reader Nina, who gave me the idea to ask - I wouldn't have thought to do so if she hadn't suggested it.

Since people seem to like to collect these sorts of things, I'm working on a contest to give away what few I have to Loyal Readers in the near future, so be on the lookout for that. Happy Friday!

November 14, 2009

If You Don't Read Civic Center, Well Do So Because Mike is Awesome.

Seriously.

He documents Muni atrocities like this and does so with the same honesty he does of Civic Center life, the SF Opera and Symphony, Palm Springs, and so on.

So go read his blog, gorramit, because he is cool.

October 27, 2009

First A Muni Bus for Sale on eBay, now a Farebox for Sale on Craigslist!

Pete_TrolleyFarebox_1970s_100509.jpgBy now, you may have heard that there was a Muni bendy bus for sale on eBay which was purchased for a mere $3250 dollars, reported by our esteemed colleagues at SFist. Personally, I considered buying it myself and revamping it into a Culture Bus of my own, but I'm sure my neighbors in the Inner Sunset would not have appreciated me swiping what few parking spots we have on the block for this thing (although DPT would have made a fortune in tickets when I would forget to move it for street cleaning).

However, fret not, if you still want to buy a piece of Muni. It seems there is someone selling a real Muni farebox on Craigslist! Really! The seller claims it's a legit sale, and I'm sure it is.

Think of the possibities. If you have children, you could give it to them for Christmas, and set up the latest in board game fun - "Muni Fare Evader!" Or, bring it along and set up shop in the back and collect fares from unwitting back door boarders. It's definitely more unique than a gumball machine, and it's yours for a mere $325!

September 29, 2009

Allow Me to Present To You...The N Judah Fail Whale (of sorts)...

NJudah-mug-half.jpgThanks to the extreme generosity of my friend Lauren, who is one of the most talented designers I know, I can now present to you, the suffering N Judah (and really any Muni) rider with your very own Muni FailWhale which you can either wear on a shirt, or display on a mousepad or mug, and show your solidarity with your fellow N Judah riders when you're left out in the cold on 19th Avenue!

We took some inspiration from the real Fail Whale, as well as a parody found on Flickr with DC Metro.

Lauren is a great person to hire if you're in need of mad designing skillz, check out her extensive portfolio here.

August 5, 2009

Guest Blogger Wednesday: Mason Powell's Guide To All Those Free Events This Weekend

SundayStreets.jpgGuest Blogger Wednesday gives readers a chance to regale the Loyal Readers with tales of the neighborhoods, MUNI and more. Want to Guest Blog? Email me and let's get you signed up!

These days, anything "free" is nice, especially when it comes to finding something to do on the weekend. And "fun" is nice too, especially after all the crazy accidents and other crazy stuff going on around town. We need a break! Lucky for us, we've got quite a few fun free events this weekend, all around San Francisco, and easy to reach by even our hobbled MUNI.

On Saturday and Sunday, we have two great street fairs, the Nihonmachi Street Fair in Japantown and the Pistahan Parade and Fair at Yerba Buena Gardens, which has like, a a bazillion MUNI lines that will drop you off over there.

Both are really fun (but I'm not eating a balut, no matter how much people keep telling me it's ok). Personally, I always like going to Japantown if only because it's got sort of a retro 60's James Bond in "You Only Live Twice" feel. (I keep looking for the Osato Chemical Concern logo...). All easily accessible by the 38 Geary and the 22 Fillmore.

On Sunday, we'll have all of Ocean Beach closed off for Sunday Streets SF from 10am to 2pm. Now, what you may not realize is that they're coordinating the street closure with the regular one in the park, so you'll literally be able to walk unimpeded from the Academy of Sciences to the Zoo, if that's your thing. Here's a map for your planning purposes. (Also, note that they're going to repeat this closure on September 6th). Hopefully the N won't die that day so you can avoid trying to find a parking spot way way out there.

Sunday is also the same day as the Inner Sunset Really Really Free Market, located at 6th and Irving. (This is the house Greg refers to as the "House Formerly Known as the Yes We Can House.") Located just a couple of blocks from the Inner Sunset Farmer's Market, they offer free anything, including ice cream. How can you resist that? And the N and the 71 will drop you off over there.

With so many fun free things to do, it's hard to choose, but it certainly makes the weekend more fun. And even on our broken down MUNI, you can get to most of these events pretty easily. So go out and have fun, everyone!

Editor's note: if you know of other fun events around town, feel free to share them in the comments!

UPDATE!: On Friday, August 7th, there's going to be a "Renegade Film Screening" on the N and other Muni Metro trains, from 5ish to 9ish that evening. Talk about MUNI street theater! Let's hope the cops and fare inspectors don't totally shut this down the way they did those kids a few years ago.

July 10, 2009

Links of Interest For Friday, July 10th!

3685737684_46f95d0147_m.jpgI've been busy with a lot of Other Things, including work, getting ready for the big Bay Area pub trivia championship this weekend, and a new project I've been working on that's not ready to be unveiled to the public just yet. For now, here's some groovy Links of Interest to read while you're at work or school.

-First, this line of hipster-like apparel is kinda nice, particularly the Boeing-car themed ones, and the quality is a bit better than the run of the mill stuff you see online.

-Next, my friend Michael did this photoset of the Vulcan Stairway. This is one of those things I was ostensibly aware of , but never really thought to go see for myself until seeing this photoset. One of the things I've always liked about San Francisco are the many municipal stairways we have, something you don't always see elsewhere.

-All around Good Person Emily Drennen has a 3 part series in the Examiner that has a can-do, no-complaining attitude we could use more of in San Francisco. Regardless of whether you agree with her 100%, she at least makes a case thoughtfully, and without the political brickbats we often get when you say the b-word (bicycle).

-The SF Weekly blog has two litttle snippets of interest - first, a soon-to-be-retired MUNI shelter being used as a skateboard ramp (!) , and another contest, this time betting on when the Mayor will pull the rug out from under the naive "deal" struck by Budget Chair Sup. Avalos.

-The kind folks who run the SF Appeal have some BART related news - the ongoing struggle to get BART to finally accept TransLink cards as payment, and the latest on the acrimonious negotiations between labor and management at BART.

It's unclear if any unions will strike after all, but I sure wish both sides would dial down the posturing and war rhetoric, and get back to business. A strike would be a major pain in the collective ass of the Bay Area at a time when we really do not need it. Plus it would be really bad for our trivia team. So there!

That's all for now...have a great weekend and enjoy the many fun things to do on a summer weekend around town. And if you spot any particularly bad MUNI fail or win, feel free to twitter at me or email me over the weekend.

PS: We're always looking for Guest Bloggers to post on Wednesdays! This week's blogger had some work duties catch up with them so we missed one this week. Email me if you're interested and we'll get you on the schedule for July and August.

June 29, 2009

Links of Interest: FoundSF.org!

Recently, someone sent me a link at FoundSF.org, detailing plans for a 7th Avenue Freeway in the Inner Sunset, which would have been a dramatic change to the neighborhood, to put it mildly. But after checking out the map (complete with lots so you can see if your house would have been demolished or next to a busy freeway), I started reading some of the other articles, and it was quite interesting.

What makes FoundSF unique is the fact that much of its historical accounts are first person stories, or from primary sources, rather than something you might find on (sigh) Wikipedia. Although this means you have to do some checking on who's writing and consider their point of view, it also makes for a more lively read than an encyclopedia. Overall, an interesting place to spend an evening when one should be watching whatever's on Bravo.

Note: I was able to secure a Facebook Page name last night - you can now find us at http://www.facebook.com/njudahchronicles!

June 5, 2009

Gerry Adams To Visit the Inner Sunset June 27th at St. Anne's!

391044348_05017b3aff_o.jpgHere's something you don't see every day - an international political figure visiting the Inner Sunset! Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, will be the host of a forum entitled "A United Ireland - How Do We Get There?" at St. Anne's Hall over at Funston and Judah. There is no charge to attend, and everyone is encouraged to attend and ask questions of Mr. Adams, as well as a panel of Irish and Irish-Americans.

The panel will also include artist Robert Ballagh and actress Fionnula Flanagan (whom some may recognize as "Eloise Hawking" from the hit show LOST and "Rose Caffee" from the Showtime program "Brotherhood")

Many people locally have worked hard on this event, so if you're interested in the issues regarding Ireland, you should definitely attend and bring any questions you may have for the panel. It's being held right here on the N Judah line, and the discussion should be interesting, so check it out!

When space permits, I like to highlight events that may be of general interest to the readership. If you have an event, please email me information and I'll do my best to get it on the site, space and time permitting. Thanks!

January 5, 2009

Quick And Easy MUNI/BART Guide for Macworld!

This week, tens of thousands of folks will be descending upon downtown for Macworld, for what very well may be the last one ever, now that Apple has said it won't be participating in the future. For now, though, in addition to our normal level of MUNI & BART riding folks, we'll have more people added into the mix. For those of you new to our City, here's a simplified guide for MUNI and BART so you can get around and avoid paying huge parking fees and fines.

Macworld is located at Moscone Center, which is just a couple of blocks from the BART/MUNI Powell Street station downtown. If you follow the Wikipedia link, you'll find that pretty much every major bus and train line hits this station (or right above it on Market Street) so it's an easy way to remember how to get to Macworld. If you're staying in a hotel downtown, chances are you can walk to the show, and if you're staying a bit further away and it's raining, you have at most a short bus ride to get to the event.

If you're staying outside of San Francisco, you can either take any BART from the Peninsula or the East Bay to Powell Station, or you can take Caltrain and take an N-Judah train downtown once you're in the City.

There are some other lines that drop you off closer to the action, but after years of giving out directions to tourists I've found that this has been the easiest way to explain where they need to go, without a lot of gymnastics.

Paying for your ride: MUNI discountinued the old weekly pass, so your options are somewhat limited. You can either buy a monthly pass for $45 (which also allows for free rides on BART within the City of San Francisco) and unlimited cable car rides. However, you can also buy a MUNI Passport, for 1, 3 or 7 days. The advantage? Much cheaper than a monthly. The disadvantage? You can't use them to ride BART for free.

A special warning about BART ticket machines: Whatever you do, do not put a $20 bill in the machine to buy one ticket! You won't get all the change you're due, and unless you plan on keeping that ticket and using it until it gets down to $0, you'll be stuck with it. Instead, use a debit or credit card, and buy a ticket for the exact amount that you need. Or, use a bill changer to break that $20 so you're not stuck with an expensive souvenir BART card.

Continue reading "Quick And Easy MUNI/BART Guide for Macworld!" »

October 28, 2008

Public Transportation: Who Needs It? Informational Video from 1968...with PAUL LYNDE!

I'll be back to regular posting soon enough, but for today, I found these rather entertaining videos from 1968 produced by the Southern California Rapid Transit District, apparently to educate the public about a pending ballot initiative.

Well, we all know how that worked out, but the videos are informative and make for a nice period piece, if nothing else. I suppose if we were to remake this today, we'd get Roger from American Dad to star in it.


July 14, 2008

A Pile of Blog Posts Keeps Getting Higher

Loyal Readers: No, really I will get this site updated once I clear past a few big projects at work. I've got a ton of local business reviews to write about great places you need to patronize.

I've got a pretty major piece I want to write about the potential knee-capping of the only transit agency that has its act together (the SFCTA) by political bickering, and the MUNI TroubleAlert seems to report some sort of meltdown on the cable cars almost every day. Ouch.

The thing is I now work a job where I have to work regular business hours, unlike normal when I can put some things off and do them at night like I used to.I also have to travel a lot more, and frankly, when I come home I want to get away from the computers for a few hours. But I'm working on a new schedule so I can go back to posting as much as I want about the things we love to talk about.

In the meantime, here are a few groovy links I saw on my Google Reader today:

-Over at the Chronicle, Mary Ladd is now posting her experiences riding MUNI with her child in the new feature "Muni Mama." Check it out and let her know readers of the NJC are in solidarity with our sister-in-arms.

-The Overhead Wire took a trip on our Mighty N the other day and got some nice pictures from the day's trip. Notable are the pics of the purple flowers at the Sunset tunnel.

-"Mason Powell" forwarded me this website about the 38 Bus. No, not that 38 bus, this one is in....Paris, France. It's interesting to note a few things: a) it's a site in Paris, but has an English version b) the drivers are featured on the site as regulars and c) well it's just so cheery !

-And finally, this entertaining post about Our N was done a while ago by artist Kimberly Kradel, but I only found out about it recently thanks to an email Kimberly sent. It is just cool.

And, if that's not enough fun, you can also click on the new ad to the right for one of my side gigs, the Adama For President website and t-shirt emporium (which got a little attention today). All proceeds from sales pay for my trip to the San Diego Comic-Con next week where I shall be nerding out at Nerdvana, so buy some stuff!

We also sell our famous "The N is Near" shirts there too - buy one today!

June 19, 2008

Links of Interest for June 19, 2008 - Manners in the 'Hood

Today's Links of Interest feature two sites that found their way into my Inbox recently which I hadn't seen before and both are quite interesting. (If you have a site or see something on the Series of Tubes that would make a good addition to Links of interest, please email me!)

Our first link is to the new blog MUNI Manners, which tackles the problems of daily MUNI interaction front and center, with an emphasis on courtesy and common sense solutions. We had a bit of discussion here last year with this issue but it is nice to see some Good Citizens create a forum for this subject all on its own. (Edgehogs, beware).

Our second link is to the blog In My Hood, but frankly, I'd rather call this a magazine online since the profiles of people and businesses in the Sunset are a bit more indepth than the shorter blog format. Grace, the author of the site, did a great interview with the owner of the Sunset Shoe Repair which I really liked. Each week has a new feature and is definitely worth putting in your RSS reader.

As always, you can read about all the sites we link to by clicking on the Links of Interest subject in the right hand column.

PS: I'm still looking for a new place, so my psuedo-contest to you, the Loyal Readers continues - if your tipoff to a rental in the Sunset leads to a successful transaction, you get a prize! A real prize too, not something boring, either.

May 29, 2008

Links of Interest for May 29, 2008

Thanks to the good people at The Google, specifically their "Alerts," I find all sorts of things I'd not find in my day to day reading. Today we have a number of neighborhood blogs that I've found interesting!

First there's Stepdown Stepdown, the blog companion to Stepdown Magazine which provide a variety of urban life stories, all from the perspective of the MUNI rider. They're fun to read, and have a nice mix that reflects day to day life in San francisco.

Two neighborhood blogs for Westsiders also caught my eye. Sunset Style focus on the architecture and related flourishes of the Sunset District. I particularly like how it picks up on the little details and the variety of architecture we have out here, since the Sunset filled in over time, and not all at once in one particular era.

Likewise, the Avenues Blog, which covers BOTH the Sunset and the Richmond, kicked off this month. Written by local Realtor Luba Muzichenko, it's a nice mix of real estate info and neighborhood news. I look forward to reading this site in the future.

And finally, while not necessarily Sunset related, I would be remiss in not linking to What I'm Seeing.com, which is one of the best photoblogs of San Francisco and the Bay Area out there. There are plenty more (and yes we will link to them, trust me), but I wanted to make sure the site got a mention this week.

That's all! Remember, you can always find past Links of Interest here, and if you have a site you'd like to suggest, please email me and I'll take a look! Thanks!

May 21, 2008

Links of Interest for May 21st, 2008

If ever you thought that only a few people blog about all things MUNI, you'd be wrong. Recently I discovered some very entertaining sites all about Our Favorite Transit System, and want to give 'em a little promo.

First, there's the MUNI diaries, which has an entertaining assortment of tales from daily life on MUNI. Notably, it has a bit about MUNI's problems on Bay To Breakers day, and so on. It plans to have many contributors, so check it out!

Another site I just found was the hilarious MUNI Gone Wild team blog, which built a mini streetcar and keg caddy for the Bay to Breakers race. I particularly liked some of their categories, such as the Seen and Heard section and the MUNI Fashion section. I look forward to seeing their pics from B2B.

Finally, although this site is not really Sunset or MUNI related, the Mission Mission blog is a great example of a neighborhood blog, as it is entertaining and informative about the area. This post, about certain patrons of Medjool absolutely cracked me up.

If you find a blog or website that's funny, interesting, or just plain weird, pass it along and I'll post it in a future Links of Interest feature.

May 7, 2008

Links of Interest for May 7, 2008

This week I'm highlighting links to a number of community websites you may or may not be aware of, all of which provide neighborhood information you might not find elsewhere.

First off, I saw a flyer for the Duboce Triangle Association Transportation Committee while on my way to Comix Experience last Saturday. They will be having a meeting on May 12th to discuss ideas for improving the stops at Duboce Park and Church/Duboce. Click on the link and check out the details.

Also worth checking out is the Sunset District Events Calendar, maintained by one of our Loyal Readers. I've mentioned it before, but wanted to make to include it here once again, as it has many useful links for Sunset residents, as well as the events list, which is integrated with Google Calendar.

Finally, I got word from Reader Mark that the Cole Valley Improvement Association's new website launched just a few days ago, where you can find out all sorts of great news and information about what's going on in Cole Valley. Artist Niana Liu (whose art we've featured before) also has a Cole Valley site at ColeValley.org. Cole Valley may be a small neighborhood, but it's got two blogs. In your face, hipster neighborhoods!

April 9, 2008

Links of Interest for April 9th, 2008

What a day it was in blogville (and its suburb, Twitter-ville) today, eh? We had some amazing blog goodness, particularly from Eye on Blogs, CurbedSF, SFist and Fog City Journal, among others.

For today's Links of Interest, however, we'll take a step away from the rush-rush of the day's events and focus on some blogs that take a look at urban life through a MUNI-esque lens. I've found all of them to be quite entertaining in that observational kind of way.

I caught TangoBaby's blog via Google News alerts, and her photo essay on the commute, via the Mighty N, was a nice find. She also did an entertaining post on the reading habits of those of us commuting on the N.

Likewise, if you've not read the dispatches by Rachel over at Fog City Notes, you're missing out on the kind of "as it happens" commentary I used to do more of when I started this blog a while back. And it's thanks to her I also discovered No Line Left Behind, which is an entertaining ride on all the MUNI lines. Her notes as she makes various stops are quite illuminating. I remember years ago reading about a group of people who decided to ride every line on MUNI over a Labor Day Weekend, but have yet to find the article....

Two other observational blogs I've caught on Google Alerts are I Ride MUNI and the awesomely named Stepdown, Stepdown. Both offer yet more eyes on the daily grind that is MUNI, and both are fun to read.

Remember, you can always find our ongoing Links of Interest by clicking on the subject heading in the right column. It's better than trying to cram all the awesome links into a giant column, and you also get a little background on each site as well!

April 2, 2008

New Feature: Links of Interest for April 2nd, 2008

Starting this week, I'm going to have a new feature where I link to all sorts of MUNI/urban life/etc. bloggy goodness. Thanks to the kind folks at Google News Alerts, I've discovered a number of interesting blogs that I'd not seen before, as well as some fun posts from familiar comrades-in-blogs.

First, SFMike at Civic Center highlights an unsung hero at MUNI. MUNI gives us plenty to annoy us, but when we discover someone at MUNI who actually works to make our day better, they deserve a high five.

Two MUNI blogs I've been catching up on, the "MUNI Sucks Log and MUNI Grouch which provide more tales of MUNI woe that almost seems to define us as San Franciscans sometimes.

If you're not already checking out KPIX's Eye on Blogs, well stop reading and get thee over there at once. Brittney Gilbert has done an amazing job, in a very short time, covering blogs across the Bay Area and finding the best in them (oh so many of them) every day. Rather ironic that so-called "local alt-weeklies" got bested by a tv news station.

And finally, a fun link from Eve Batey, deputy Managing Editor for all things online and good at SFGate.com, proudly representing the N Judah on Easter Sunday. We'll be selling these shirts (and more) on our new Zazzle store shortly!

That's all. And remember, for more link goodness, simply click on the Links of Interest link on the right, and find yourself transported to an array of interesting sites to fill your workday. Hey it beats working, right?

March 12, 2008

Fun with MapJack.com and the N

If you haven't already checked out the wasting-time-at-work fun that is MapJack, well put down that TPS report and get thee to the site immediately.

Yes, its like the streetview that is the glory of Google Maps, but the street view is bigger and more detailed than Google Maps. Currently only SF and a city in Thailand are represented, but that's fine, because you can actually follow and beat an N Judah train inbound.

Just click on this link and turn "Jack" around to go inbound on Judah Street. Click on the dots and you'll notice you're following the same N train, until it stops near 7-11, and then off you go, passing the Mighty N by.

Hey, it beats working, right?

March 22, 2007

MattyMatt and His Video Cell Phone Strike AGAIN!

Quickly!

If you haven't already gone over to SFist to check out another one of MattyMatt's videos from MUNI, do so at once.

It's one of those "you gotta see it" ones. Talking about it would just cheapen it. So go!

September 29, 2006

HopStop.com - A New Way to Find Directions on MUNI and BART

Last night I had a chance to catch an interesting lecture/discussion on blogging and the Internet taught by Sreenath Sreenivasan from the Columbia School of Journalism. Not only was it fun, but I got a chance to meet some interesting people and get a nice tour of the hallways of the San Francisco Chronicle's headquarters as well.

While there was a lot of great information presented during the Professor's discussion, one site in particular caught my attention - HopStop.com. As many loyal readers and users of MUNI know, 511.org's directions for MUNI can sometimes be a bit off, and now there's an alternative being offered via HopStop.

The site originated in New York City, born out of the frustration of its creator and his navigation of New York City's complex subway system. HopStop, however, does more than just give directions based on address. It can help you find directions if you want to use just the bus, a combination of bus and walking, or just walking, between any two points. Even better, the system can pick out directions based on pointing to somewhere on a map, or naming a specific restaurant or other location by name, and you have your choice of nine languages.

I took some time to try out the site and it is pretty good. There are other features I have yet to try, such as the mobile access via SMS and cell phone, but the fact that someone's at least trying to build a better mousetrap (or in this case mass transit info system) than the one we have now is really nice.

Best of all, if you're using the site and find something that should be fixed, they'll send you a free T-shirt for your troubles.

It will be interesting to see how this service, as well as the advance of Google Transit (now in beta in several cities) will evolve, and what that will mean for the behemoth at 511.org, and for MUNI. For now, try out the site and let them know what you think.

August 31, 2006

It's A Sunny Day Despite MUNI's Computer Woes

After a couple of weeks of less-than-stellar weather, it was a nice belated birthday present to see the sun come out here in the Inner Sunset. As Comcast Internet is down at home, it gave me yet another reason to get out of the house and post away at the Canvas Gallery, one of the many free WiFi spots here in the neighborhood.

Don't let those tales of MUNI woe or those mean folks on wheels get you down - get outside and get to the park and enjoy our remaining days of summer!

Also, loyal reader Steve Rhodes alerted me to the Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema, which will be showing the short film N-Judah by Sam Green, on September 2nd. Apparently the short is available as a features on this DVD as well!

Thanks for the heads up, Steve!

August 3, 2006

A "MUNI Survival Guide" I Found Online....

Hopefully the MUNI Mini-Meltdown of Yesterday hasn't ruined your life too much and you're having a better day today than yesterday. Although I work out of my home, I rely on MUNI when I have multiple meetings and errands to run and when I realized what had happened, I just stayed at home and pushed everything over a few days.

I found this unusual "MUNI Survival Guilde" online while doing a Google search. If anyone has any idea who did this, I'd like to know so I can A) give them credit for their work and B) high-five them on the coining of the term "Edgehog." Enjoy.

July 7, 2006

NextBus Widgets for Mac OS X

Even though it's not complete, NextBus is still rather useful, particularly on our Mighty N-Judah line. It's especially useful where I live now, given that I'm just steps from an actual stop. Knowing when the train is coming early in the morning is a big help.

Firing up a web browser all the time though, is a hassle, and while I don't normally like the Dashboard function in OSX because it's such a memory hog sometimes, it has proven useful for calling up NextBus quickly, via two Widgets - NextBus Widget and NextMuni. I tried finding a similar widget for Yahoo Widgets (compatible with MS Windows and OS X) but I couldn't find one - if you know of one let me know!

Both are pretty good, but I'm giving extra bonus points to NextMuni, simply because the other one has a tendency to mysteriously crap out after a set period of time, and it's not shareware. I've reloaded it several times, done all the usual OSX geek maneuvers, and it still doesn't work. Plus the NextMuni one just looks cooler. So there.

Someone also makes a BART Widget, but I haven't really used it much.

Anyway, enjoy the great weather, and the World Cup finals!

May 17, 2006

Check out SFist's Expose on NextBus, Muni, and Junkie Logic

Sometimes someone else does such a kick ass job on a story, you just have to give it some publicity. This little expose by SFist.com on the NextBus/Muni follies is really worth checking out. Just go there and read, and you'll see. It's pretty startling.

Right on, SFist! You beat out the Guardian, the Weekly, the Chron, the Examiner, and more with this one!

UPDATE: I had a chance to listen to a little bit of Muni Director Nate Ford on KGO AM radio this morning. Someone asked him about this very issue, and he was pretty forthright in his response, saying that while implementing NextBus was a priority, but he was also worried about rolling it out without it being ready to go (a contrast to the comments of Ms. Maggie Muni). He did say more than once he supported NextBus in principle and that it would be helpful to Muni in assessing how the system's doing, as well as be useful for passengers.

I think it's notable to hear the boss speak, and contrast it with the snark of Muni's spokesbot, and the confusion of Muni employees. Maybe it's time Muni make some changes so that employees are as knoweldgeable and polite and direct as their boss.

April 23, 2006

Who's Your Favorite Muni Driver?

Notable neighbor Craig of Craigslist made a mention of one of the more popular N-Judah Muni drivers on his blog last week, the unnamed driver who reminds us all that "Muni Loves You". Other blogs have noticed our happy driver as well.

I was on the N yesterday on the way home from a medical supplies run to Safeway on Market Street. I'd been sidelined by one of the worst allergy attacks I've had since I was a kid, and graced fellow riders with my red-eyed, runny self on the way and back. I'm sure they loved that.

Anyway, on the way back from said supply run, I had another driver (or maybe it was the same one) who was lightening up the mood by not turning off his microphone right away after announcing each stop. What was really funny was his reaction to a myriad of incompetent double parkers and bad drivers who were driving around like maniacs in front of an oncoming train.

"MOVE OVER RED ROVER!" he boomed at one point, and followed it up with "Please move aside, thank you sir!" and so on. It was one of those "had to be there moments" but it was pretty funny.

This reminded me of a conversation I overhead between two women commuting home one day, also noting the different kinds of drivers on the Muni, and one suggested someone come up with trading cards of popular Muni folks.

Interesting idea, eh? What kinds of trading cards could you come up with for Muni?

December 2, 2005

Back on the Job + A Free Plug for a New Muni Blog

After a month hiatus, I'm back. Those folks at Muni and the cast of characters on the N-Judah thought they were getting a free pass. No such luck, folks!

But first, before I do anything else I want to tell folks about a new Muni-oriented blog, Municide - which I just read about at the always-righteous SFist website. You gotta love the name - Municide - which I remember someone once using when there were a rash of Muni bus crashes some time ago. No matter - it is great to see someone usin' it and for good purpose.

In particular, I liked this line:

And let's make something perfectly clear: this blog isn't for constructive criticism that the good old folks over at Muni can use to make Muni better. We all know it's too late for that. All we're going to do is bitch.

Right on.

For those of you who took the Muni today, you had the distinct displeasure of contending with delays, lame co-riders, and whatnot, on a day that also featured lots of wind, rain, and overall crap-tacular weather. Now, a week ago, when temps were in the 70s, you can almost put up with a delay because the weather's nice. Not so when it's rainy, crappy, and all those smelly weirdos you couldn't stand before, become wet, grosser smelly weirdos.

The most fun, of course, is having to do something like go grocery shopping on the N-Judah, and have to lug even a few bags onto a newly packed Muni. All those people who walked are now on board, and guess what? They're all wet, and they're all seething at the fact it seems like they were waiting FOREVER for the stupid Muni to show up.

Guess what folks? You were waiting forever. All those abstracts about "balanced" approaches to Muni service matter not a whit, if in the end Muni doesn't realize its mission is to provide mass transit service for people in San Francisco, NOT "balance budgets" and rely on shaky tax structures to pay the bills.

Ah well. I'm sure they're paying top dollar at Muni for the finest execubots money can buy. Too bad corporate types have no clue how to do anything of value anymore. Otherwise we might see an improvement...

September 20, 2005

NextBus Unites with Google Maps!

If you live in many cities, the transit systems are using a system called NextBus to tell you almost exactly when the next bus will arrive at a particular stop and help you avoid the fate of waiting for the train when it's pouring rain out for hours on end.

Using a combination of wireless transmitters and GPS, they are accurate, because they can account for traffic delays that a schedule can't predict. In the case of the N-Judah it's usually some guy double parking his car on the narrow streets in Cole Valley.

Now, NextBus is providing complete, accurate route maps and real time indicators of where all buses or streetcars are online, on a Google Map. Take a look and see for yourself at this link, which shows the N-Judah line, in real time.

Although not all SF Muni buses have NextBus installed at bus stops, this is a good start. It beats relying on the folks at Transit.511.org, better known as 511 Is A Joke, who are notorious for giving out info that's just plain wrong. You're better off calling SF Muni directly and asking directions if you're lost - 511 is a Joke almost always screws up.

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