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“Keep your eyes on the skies and your butt close to home”

Been interested in the Feminist Bird Club ever since we talked about them at an early FemOS meeting and Sophie kindly sourced some 2020 patches for a few of us. They’re not doing events right now of course, “Keep your eyes on the sky and your butts close to home”. So I signed up to the SF Bay Area chapter’s mailing list for updates. Gonna read up on some things and go for a few good walks.

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Rosemary’s memories of SF

I was in SF 1968–1975. This was when CA was the Golden State. I always lived around Union Street. The last address was on the corner of Buchanan and Green. It was an old 4-plex. I loved that place. By now it’s probably torn down and something else is built in its place. It was on the corner. My bedroom was huge and looked over Buchanan. There was a Chinese laundry across the street on Green. Gees I can’t remember how those streets went. One of them was parallel to Union St. Anyway, I took my laundry to the Chinese laundry every week. They washed and folded it for me.

Union St was a happening street when I was there. Weekends we would go out to Tiberon to… Gees! I think it was called Sam’s? We would sit on the dock and have brunch. I always had a Ramos Fizz. I don’t know if anyone drinks them anymore.

A text from my relative and dear friend Rosemary sharing some of her memories of living in San Francisco. Looks like Sam’s is still open, we’ll have to go. Until then, I’ll channel her by making myself a Ramos Gin Fizz at home. Have to wear red lipstick for the full effect.

I struggle with dairy so might try it with either coconut cream or a lactose-free “cream”. The goal is to create a ton of foam and a super creamy consistency. Shaking techniques seem to vary, so have a look online to see what you prefer.

Ramos Gin Fizz recipe

Makes 1 drink

In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 oz gin, 3 to 4 drops orange flower water, 1 large egg white, ½ oz cream, ½ oz fresh lemon juice, ½ oz fresh lime juice, and ½ oz simple syrup. Shake vigorously for about a minute, then add a lot of fresh ice and shake for at least another 30 seconds. Strain the drink in to a Collins glass. Pour 1–2 oz seltzer (soda water) down the inner edge of the shaker to loosen the froth, then pour the soda water and froth on to the drink. Garnish with a quarter of an orange wheel and mint if you’ve got it, then serve.

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A lone cyclist on the highway

I had my head down working on Sunday afternoon, suddenly realised that I couldn’t hear the traffic as usual. And there were a lot of sirens, police cars driving the wrong way up the Fremont / Folsom off ramp. Protestors had blocked the westbound section of the Bay Bridge. The police blocked all the off ramps and put flares on the road. Interstate 80 was empty all the way up to the Fifth Street exit.

Maybe about an hour in to it, a lone cyclist came down the middle of the four-lane highway at a leisurely pace. He was wearing black jeans and a black sweatshirt, arms spread open wide, head back. They didn’t stop him, but I’m not sure where he could have exited. Hope he’s safe.

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Landed in SF

The sun setting over San Francisco in June

So.

After a lot of planning and quite a few delays, we’re now in the US. We’d considered NYC for a long while for a whole host of reasons, but we ended up in SF. Our first week has been overwhelmingly sunny so I’m thankful for that. It’s nice to be “home”, but it will be a while before it feels like it.

It was a weird journey. Very overwhelming, but in a way that makes your mind go blank and surrender rather than spin out. The trip itself was eerie, so empty. Wearing a mask for 32 hours wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Silver lining: a face mask makes the air on a plane feel much less dry.

I might go in to it a bit more at some point, but that’s enough for now. Slowly adjusting to feeling like an immigrant in my home state after 10 years in the UK.

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San Francisco Art Institute is closing

Facade of the San Francisco Art Institute

SFAI is closing indefinitely. Such sad news. It sounds like the CoViD-19 situation was the nail in the coffin.

I took a painting course there during the summer before my senior year of high school. I lived in the East Bay and took BART or drove over the Bay Bridge every day. It’s the sort of place I’d want to be if I had decided to keep studying art. A place where you could get lost and be left to your own devices, sort of like the old Foulis building at GSA but more labyrinthine.

The school has been around for almost 150 years. Diego Rivera painted a huge mural in the student-directed gallery in the 1930s. The photography department was founded by Ansel Adams. San Francisco’s wild parrots sometimes roost loudly in the loquat tree in the Spanish courtyard. I can’t think of anywhere in SF that offers better views of the city and the bay, for free from the Brutalist ampitheater or for the price of a bagel and a coffee at the cafe.

It’s one of my favourite places. Very sad to see it go.

Loquat tree in the Spanish courtyard at SFAI

Concrete work at SFAI

The cafe and terrace at SFAI

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“A chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs…”

A chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel.

Elizabeth Holmes’s “comically vague” and high-school-esque description of Theranos’s blood testing “technology”.

Just finished Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by Wall Street Journal investigative reporter John Carryrou. Carryrou traces the rise and fall of Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes from the company’s beginnings at Stanford, to Holmes becoming the young female darling of Silicon Valley, to his own exposé and followup articles in the Journal.

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On California, and a book review

I grew up in California but moved away in mid-2010 to the UK for a postgrad at Central Saint Martins. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit San Francisco with my partner. It had been almost five years since I was last in the state.

I had a great time showing him some of my favorite things in San Francisco, discovering new favorites, seeing family and friends. California was as beautiful as I remember, perhaps more so. I didn’t realise just how much I had missed the environment, the fog and the wildlife. A couple of friends and I happened to visit Ocean Beach on an overcast day when thousands of bright indigo jellyfish-like creatures washed up on shore. I spent an afternoon walking the trails through Mt. Sutro with a good friend, passing California poppies, Pepper trees, serpentinite boulders, eucalyptus, mountain irises, hummingbirds, columbines, poison oak.

However, a few of the more disappointing aspects of Californian life have lingered in my mind since returning to the UK, things that I rarely noticed (or maybe more accurately, tried to ignore) when I was living in the Bay Area.

One moment from our trip sticks out in particular.

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Short-ish list of San Francisco recommendations

Photo of the coast near SF from near the Nike Missile Site SF-88 in the Marin Headlands

View of the coast near SF from near the Nike Missile Site SF-88 in the Marin Headlands, looking south towards Point Bonita Lighthouse

I say short-ish since this is short relative to the number of fantastic places to visit / eat / imbibe / shop in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Compiled primarily for my lovely cousin in anticipation of her trip out west, also so that I don’t forget some places that I really like. I’ll keep adding to the list as places occur to me.

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