San Francisco

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That’s Hayes Valley Grill, a dine-in, power-lunch or dinner institution near City Hall, the symphony and opera at the top of Hayes Valley. I’m told it plans to reopen, once dining indoors is again possible. Below are a bunch of shots I took during walks in various neighborhoods at the end of January. Not to be depressing, but realistic – like I said before, I think the city’s response to covid, both public and individual-behavior, has demonstrated some good models that other places might consider. But covid does cost us all, both immediately and, no doubt, in longer-terms impacts we’ll all be tracing for many years. Investing in good public health is the best way to manage such epidemics, but the influence of money and greed on the voters and politicians in the US have mostly strangled reasonable evidence-based discussions on public-policy and many other things here. Let’s hope we can nonetheless manage to build back with better opportunity and protections for as many humans as possible everywhere, despite the damage of money, greed, and the politics of division. Human ingenuity has proven in the past that we really can create rising tides which float a lot of boats, as long as we view it as collective success, rather than individual competition…


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City Views.5 – Coping With Covid

It strikes me that SF has been impressively well-organized and smart in both its public-policy and its personal-behavior response to covid. I believe this is reflected in its infection numbers per 100,000 residents. The JHU site told me it was at 3,731. This is far fewer cases per 100,000 than any of the other major US cities or counties I’ve checked. Atlanta’s DeKalb & Fulton counties, for example – home of the CDC itself – have well over 7,000 cases per 100,000 residents. NYC’s Manhattan island (New York County), is actually doing better than those two Atlanta-region counties, with 5,681 per 100,000 – despite NYC’s rough, rough start. NYC and SF also share the distinction of being among the most densely-populated urban centers in the US. Cities like Atlanta and Los Angeles tend to sprawl, and I’m quite confident that they had far lower rates of public-transit ridership than either SF or NYC, even before covid.

I don’t want to turn this into a public-health treatise, so I’ll stop there.  My goal is to share photos which highlight some of the personal behaviors and public rules which have helped keep infection rates comparatively low in SF. If we close off our ability to study and learn, even from those with whom we see ourselves as quite different, then our ability to adapt really will freeze and that will spell trouble. I was in SF for most of a week at the end of January, just as the city was reopening its outdoor-dining options, as well as personal-grooming facilities like the barbershop which you’ll see below. (Note that everyone is lining up on the sidewalk outside, not waiting indoors and sharing air with each other.) I don’t think anyone in California has eaten an indoor restaurant meal since last March – or at least, not anyone following the public-health rules. But at least now we can meet our friends for outdoor dining again, and we are. I know this is currently impossible in places with harder winters, and that fact forces more difficult choices for individuals, businesses, and public-policy-makers. There again, I’d look to the attitude we’ve mostly adopted in the bay area: we’re all in this together, and we all need to help protect each other and the most vulnerable among us.

A few comments about the photos: I was happy to see that the playground at Mission Dolores Park, at the very top, was open for kids to play in – I’m not sure whether or not it was closed during the heavier restrictions, but it’s nice to see kids playing and to hear their shouts of delight. Here in Santa Rosa, most playgrounds I’ve seen have been officially closed, which makes me quite sad. SFPL is doing what our SoCo library is doing: reserve your items online, and do a touchless pickup and / or return. Returned materials are then quarantined for a few days. You’ll also see a touchless coffee pickup table for the mobile coffee truck in Alamo Square Park.


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Small Wonders.15 (Urban Aviary, Volume 2)

This little guy buzzed so close to my head one morning just walking down the street in SF last week that I simply had to try to get an image and/or video of him flying around. Managed to get one adequate shot ad one adequate video — in the still, he’s on the top right, but so small and green that he disappears against the leaves. I apologize that I couldn’t find a way to shorten the first three seconds of this video, in which I’m rapidly trying to get him in the frame – but he appears around the fourth second and does his hummingbird thing then 🙂


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Covid Travel.1

Well, now that I’ve been on four flights during times of covid, I figure I might as well show a few of you who are avoiding airports what it’s like: still mostly empty. On July 4, I flew Dhaka->Dubai->Chicago->SF. Then two days ago I flew SF -> Chicago to spend some time with family in Wisconsin for birthdays and such. There are a few more people in airports now than I saw when I came back into the country in July – in both O’Hare and SFO. It’s a bit sad and a bit alienating, but probably a good deal lower risk than many activities that lots of folks are doing now…and the flights are mighty inexpensive. It does all get a bit exhausting, though, doesn’t it…?


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Urban garden resumes, I guess. 🙂


By the Golden Gate

OK this is it, the last post with photos taken in my wanderings on three continents in 2019. If there are to be posts going forward, I’ll actually have to boldly try to get my camera out in this big crowded city I’ve now called home for two months. These are miscellaneous shots taken of or by me during visits down to SF during those lovely summer months I spent at home in Sonoma county: outside a BARS concert in June, of a flowering century plant on Bernal Hill (above & below), or during my last visit to SF when I had to pick up a few supplies at Target in SOMA, prior to flying out here. I shall now focus on sharing views of the streets of Dhaka or the beaches of Cox’s again, until or unless I’m elsewhere on holiday :-).

Have a golden 2020, one and all.


Vistas, Bridges & Buildings by the Bay

Each of us resonates particularly to some kinds of beauty more than others. I’m naturally drawn more to wilderness and natural areas than to cities, as you can probably tell by all the natural-world photos that occupy these pages. But I do find the combination of hills and abundant water, with densely-packed urban centers featuring tall buildings and dramatic bridges, interesting architectural features and urban parks quite compelling. San Francisco has all of the above in abundance. Now that each of my assignments begins and ends with flights from and to SFO — now that each trip back to my own home involves crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and seeing many of the views you see here — I find myself collecting photos two or four at a time, whenever I visit the city for a concert or lunch with a friend or just a trip to or from the airport. This post is full of my miscellaneous photos taken in such trips over the past year or so. As I prepare to head out for another assignment far away, some photos of my home region to enjoy while I’m away. 🙂 If you’re curious what’s shown in any of the photos, by and large they will have names that are descriptive.


From Sea to Sierra (SFO->EWR)

If you haven’t been to the San Francisco Bay Area yourself, and if you wonder why I’m always so happy to get home to it; or why visitors to SF and the bay area so often rave about it — a good place to start is to take in the photo just above. I’m still working my way through photos I took last year, before I headed over to Bangui, where I’ve been now for more than two months. I shot all of the photos in this post during a take-off from SFO en route to EWR last year, in May — but what I’m posting are just photos from the bay area and up til the time we reached the still snow-covered Sierra Nevadas. Since it was nearly a year ago, and this year hasn’t seen as much snow — just remember: it’s last year! Enjoy!


Columns & Cornices

ggb-from-bv-parkI’m no architect so I’m probably using those terms wrong, but call it poetic license. I think of the uprights on the Golden Gate Bridge as columns through which I pass, each time I head home from an extended absence. And any time I’m home, I make sure to spend at least a fews enjoying the city of SF and its lovely architecture, hills, bays, vistas, people, restaurants, etc. Over lunch at work here in Port au Prince this week, a few of us from different parts of the world talked about what makes a city beautiful to us. The French person among us spoke strictly of architectural beauty; the Canadian and I favored a mix of architecture with what maps call “relief” — hills and valleys, rivers and bays. Thus, for me, SF is pretty much the top among US cities I’ve known: from ocean to bay, with valleys and hills between; girdled by bridge, mountain and water…and blessed with a progressive citizenry who, for example, voted early to tax themselves in order to ensure all residents of the city had access to basic health care — well it’s really a pretty cool city and one I’m currently far prouder to claim than that deeply-purple state in which I was born. At times like this, when an unpredictable and mean-spirited individual will soon inhabit the white house…well, I need to remind myself what’s enduring  and promising about my homeland…city-from-bv-park

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Seven Views of the Golden Gate Bridge … Four of Twin Peaks

GGB & Lighthouse at MarinaTwin Peaks & Houses from AP Park

I’ve known the city of San Francisco for so long – from a childhood summer in Berkeley, from living in the city and/or staying for long period quite often in recent decades – that I tend to assume everyone is aware that it’s surrounded by water on three sides; that it’s full of hills which give beautiful views of its other hills, of the bay and the ocean that surround it, or of lovely San Bruno Mountain which draws up its southern border…that it’s full of beautiful Victorian houses nicely maintained and painted for the most part…that it is chock-a-block with parks at the tops of many those hills, giving thus even better views with greenery and flowers in the foreground, hills and Victorians n the background. But I realize, when I return to work and my international team of folks from Haiti and around the world, that my little corner of the world is one to which most people actually have not yet been. And so herewith some photos from lovely sunny days where I enjoyed the freedom to stroll at will and to pull out my camera any moment I felt like it. They’re all named in a way that intends to inform you of what you’re seeing. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed those strolls :-).

City Pano South from Alta Plaza GGB & Boats PacHts north View w trellisGGB Marina Angel Pano

Marina GGB PanoPacHts North View wShipPacHts north View w Angel Island