Scars of the past

Poking around Google Earth to optimize a hypothetical bicycle commute to the office, I noticed an unusual diagonal strip of alleys and divided lots running through San Francisco’s Mission District from about 22nd & Harrison to around Cesar Chavez & Guerrero:

Mystery line!

I figured it had to be an old rail right-of-way, but wasn’t sure what for. At first I thought it might be BART-related, since it runs right by the 24th & Mission station, but BART runs underground straight north-south to the 16th St & Mission station.

A little Googling on a portion of the strip cryptically labeled “Juri Cmns” turned up a page about the Juri Commons park which explained that the strip was originally part of the San Francisco and San Jose Rail Road. After the 1906 earthquake, the portions running through the Mission were torn up replaced with a line running nearer the bay — the same route today’s Caltrain operates on.

[Side note: I composed this post offline in Yojimbo’s rich text editor and tried to copy-paste it to WordPress’s WYSIWYG editor in Firefox. Total paste fail when including the picture; links stripped when pasting paragraphs only. Tried it again in Safari — all links came through intact, just missing the image.]

Carless one year in Northern California


This week marked a full year since my fiancée and I sold our cars and moved to San Francisco, and we still haven’t felt the need to buy a new one.

That’s a full year without taking a car in for expensive, mysteriously-described maintenance… a year without worrying about the price of gas or parking… a year without ever-rising insurance premiums… a year without a designated driver. ;)

For the most part we just haven’t felt the need to go driving around much. Our daily commutes to work are pretty straightforward by the subway, and most of our day-to-day shopping is within comfortable walking distance (groceries, pharmacy, etc). There’s plenty of restaurants, theaters, and clubs accessible by walking or public transit… and those that aren’t, we mostly just don’t go to. :)

Google Maps has added public transit and walking directions, now both on the web and on the iPhone application, making it as easy to look up directions to unfamiliar locations as it was when we lived in the Florida suburbs.

We have made use of ZipCar hourly rentals, but really not that often; just for a bulk shopping trip here, an out-of-town event there. For a couple trips all the way down to Southern California to visit family we’ve done traditional daily/weekly rentals… After our grueling Thanksgiving drive, though, for Christmas/New Years we’re going to try flying and borrowing a car down there. ;)

Super Tuesday!

California’s primary election comes up in the morning, as are those of a buttload of other states. These combine selections of the various per-party presidential candidates in preparation for the November election, as well as various vital local and state ballot measures — parks, cops, and of course Indian gaming agreements.

Unlike everybody else with a blog, I’m not going to presume to tell y’all who to vote for. :)

But I have to admit I’ve been pleasantly surprised poking about Obama’s web site. I stumbled on this speech he gave on religion in politics, which is probably the first thing a mainstream American politician’s said about religion that hasn’t made me cringe and want to run away to Canada.

Fun election fact: California has a “modified open primary“, allowing voters who haven’t registered a party affiliation to cast their votes in the primary nomination process for a party of their choice… but only among those parties which have opted into it. We briefly had a completely open primary (so you could pick *any* party), but this got shut down on constitutional issues. Currently only the American Independent and Democratic parties are opted in to the system.

Sunny California

Ugly winds & rainstorm hit San Francisco yesterday; our power was out all day, and even the local Starbuck’s eventually went out, so no more internet in the afternoon. :( Some disruption to public transit, but still managed to get around. Yay!