Only In San Francisco

San Francisco is a deeply flawed city in many ways (not to mention the whole voter initiative process, for that matter), but it also manages to come up with little gems like this. What started out as a joke is now going to be on the ballot this November:

San Francisco voters will be asked to decide whether to name a city sewage plant in honor of President Bush, after a satiric measure qualified for the November ballot Thursday.


The measure, if passed, would rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

It almost makes me wish I still lived in SF.

Two Years in Suburbia

This week marks the 2-year anniversary of our move out of San Francisco to San Mateo. If you’d told me, a few years ago, that I’d be happier in the suburbs than I would in a city, I would have laughed. I’m a city girl through and through, after all. I still am. But after 2 years here in San Mateo, it’s really clear to me: I was never truly happy about living in San Francisco.

I tend to judge city living by how closely it matches my NYC experience, and the bottom line is that for me, SF never measured up to New York.

There’s tradeoffs that you accept when you live in a city – like higher rent, more crowding, more noise, and less parking, for a start. But the flip side is the benefits – more activities, more restaurants, more shopping, and generally more exciting things and people. The problem with SF was I wasn’t feeling the benefits, because we lived so far out from all the good stuff in the city, and the mass transit options were such a pain. If I have to drive to go buy my groceries and get to the fun parts of town, if it takes 30+ minutes to get to work because MUNI sucks or doesn’t go where I need it to, then I might as well be living in the ‘burbs.

I still don’t particularly like living in suburbia. I have to drive much more than I like, and mass transit isn’t all that useful here either. But at least in San Mateo, we have a nice big apartment for less $ than we’d pay in SF. And we can walk to a really nice supermarket and a bunch of other shops, which we couldn’t do in SF. So all in all, the tradeoffs are better here.

Still, if the chance to move back to New York came along, I’d dump the ‘burbs in a minute.

Making Friends and Eating Chocolate

Scott and I headed up to San Francisco today to catch the Ghiradelli Square Chocolate Festival. We had a great time, and tasted a lot of yummy chocolate goodies.

We also got to make the acquaintance of a very friendly bird (a Cockatoo, I think) who was visiting the festival with her keeper. She stepped right onto Scott’s good arm and allowed herself to be petted and photographed:

Scott and Friend

Memorial Day

As I was cruising around the San Francisco bay this past week, something came to mind: it’s possible that these sights, or the 1941 version of them, were the last my great-uncle Arthur saw of America, before he died over the Pacific in WW2.

Golden Gate Bridge

During the war, San Francisco was a major naval base, and Angel Island was a major embarkation point for men going out to fight the war in the Pacific. So it’s possible that Arthur sailed out through the beautiful Golden Gate that long-ago day, never to return.

He has a grave in the Punchbowl military cemetery on Oahu, instead. We visited it when I was a child, on our one family trip to Hawaii. But he’s not there; he was MIA and presumed dead, with the rest of his crew. Whether he was shot down by the Japanese or was a victim of mechanical failure, we’ll never know.

I keep a small book that I found in a used bookstore in my top desk drawer. It’s a small, dull brown volume titled “Prayer Book for Jews in the Armed Forces of the United States” that dates to 1941. It wasn’t his, but I keep it to honor his memory.