Riding the bus to work (aka, a lesson in gratitude)

I am grateful that I’m not commuting 45 min /1 hr each way.
I am grateful that there is a bus line that goes directly from home to work and only takes 20 minutes.
I am grateful that I have strong healthy legs to walk to the bus stop and to stand while riding.

But above all, I am so thankful that the MUNI website has a “Contact Us” section so I can easily send them my suggestions. For example, I suggest that they add more buses to the 24 route between the hours of 7:00 to 9:00am. It would be awesome if there weren’t 200 people crammed on the bus, with some standing in the stairwell and others pressed against the window.

It would also be great if there was a “No Talking” rule, and a “If I Can Hear Your Music Thru Your Headphones, It’s To Loud” rule.

Yes, some days it’s annoying. And some days I’m late to work. But I try to remember that this is so much better than driving an hour each way in b-2-b traffic.

Please tell me your thoughts about riding the bus or share your best muni story!
I took this picture today:

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Here’s what people are saying on twitter:

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New Korean Barbeque

I had the best Labor Day imaginable. My sweetheart and I went hiking at Muir Woods early in the day (which, for us is noon). Muir Woods is so great because it accommodates people of all fitness levels. There is a wooden boardwalk for strollers and wheelchairs, but there’s also dirt trails for the more adventurous. He and I chose the hillside trail that took us up into the redwood canopy with the view of the babbling brook below. It was so nice. Plus it wasn’t terribly crowded (not like I feared anyway). We spent money in the gift shop and then headed home over our beloved bridge.

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That evening, we ate dinner at a new restaurant in the Castro called K*Pop. It’s named after a popular style of Korean music, and all the food is, of course, Korean too. He and I chowed down on Bimbimbap and Bulgogi with lots of Kimchi and pickled vegetables on the side. Oh, and rice. The food is so excellent and I ate way too much of it. The sauce on the Bulgogi is sweet and spicy and compliments the bbq beef really well!

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The restaurant is very modern and clean with stainless steel tables and kitchen. But the one thing that stands out most at this place is the giant tv playing nonstop K*Pop music videos, complete with barely-dressed, barely-legal Korean girls. I live in America, so I’m not sure I can judge other countries’ music videos (we have Miley, afterall). I was just a little bit shocked that there was so much eye-candy during my dinner. And I was shocked that no one else seemed to notice.

My hubs and I finished out our day at our second home, the Castro Theater, with a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. This movie has a special place in my heart because (a) it’s filmed in SF, and (b) I love Hitchcock! It was especially fun this time because there is a scene that was filmed at Muir Woods. James Stewart walks right past that giant cross section of a Redwood, and we were like “OMG we were just there!!”

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Muir Woods
1 Muir Woods Road
Mill Valley, CA 94941
http://www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm

K*Pop
18th and Castro
http://www.kpopsf.com

Castro Theatre
Market and Castro
http://www.castrotheatre.com

 

Get Elevated!!

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I have been searching for alternate ways to exercise that can save me from the monotony of the gym. So last weekend, I hiked to the top of Twin Peaks!

I found a website that gave detailed instructions on how to get there from Market and Castro. I live pretty close to the peak, so I was able to skip a few steps and join the route at Douglass and 20th. This path took me up a few streets, but also across a pedestrian skywalk and up several hidden flights of stairs. The last part was this dirt path with homemade steps that lead to the very tippy top of Twin Peaks… with a gorgeous view of the city. The total trip was 2.33 miles, over a 900-foot elevation change, and it took me about an hour. You can read the full directions here.

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I really enjoyed this hike for many reasons:
(a) it was strenuous but not impossible
(b) I felt like I’d found a secret passageway
(c) no driving required (other great hiking destinations require a 30 minute drive)
(d) very quiet and peaceful
(e) awesome view

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I hiked up this hill!

I am really trying to make my health a priority. San Francisco is full of healthy fit people and I feel so inspired to take care of myself. I am a member of a gym and I have the most amazing trainer! But the gym can get boring and I get tired of running on the treadmill.

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The secret to getting healthy and losing weight is variety. I live in a city where I could plan a different outdoor workout every single day!
Monday – running on Ocean Beach
Tuesday – hiking at Muir Woods
Wednesday – paddle boarding in Sausalito (stay tuned for a whole blog post about this!)
Thursday – strength training on the structures at Esprit Park
Friday – hiking to the top of Twin Peaks

Oh my gosh, I should totally write a book!!
San Francisco: it’s a city and a gym, by Kim Etzel.

Do you live in a city that has fitness possibilities? What outdoor exercises could you explore? Like, if you live near Chichen Itza, you could run up and down the stairs of the monument. Let me know about your hometown!

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Embarcadero Plaza: a park for adults and kids

I’ve been babysitting my friends’ baby this week, and got a glimpse of the activities for SF kids. There were several, but the best was a park down by the Ferry Building called Embarcadero Plaza.

The park was right in the center of a busy working neighborhood. It was surrounded by high-rise buildings, business suits, and achievement. There were many little restaurants that served healthy, San-Francisco-style to-go meals with tables and chairs outside. I saw a big giant fountain/art structure that people were climbing on. The loud splashing of the water drowned out the noise of the city and kinda created a peaceful escape.

On the north end of the park was a huge playground with slides and swings with grassy yard on all sides. And the trees were so tall that there was plenty of cool shade. We were there right at noon and there were hundreds of business people grabbing lunch at the plaza’s eateries, or laying in the grass with loosened ties. The little munchkin and I sat on the grass and just chilled. He loved watching the kids on the playground and chasing pigeons.

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this is my friends’ son. so adorable!

Of all the parks in this city, and trust me there are like a hundred, this one was my new favorite. The idea of high-power executives lounging on the same grass with dogs and babies was very unique. The park was designed so perfectly that all types of people were attracted to it. Even the homeless man sleeping under the tree was welcome. It kinda felt like a happy harmony.

Embarcadero Plaza is across the street from the Ferry Building.
1 Embarcadero Center SF
http://embarcaderocenter.com/

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If my brother came to visit…

My brother says that he and his wife want to come visit. Sometime in 2014 maybe. So now my juices are flowing and I started thinking about what we would do while they’re here. They have both seen the notable tourist sites (bridge, wharf, etc) so that means I could go off the beaten path a little.

If my bro and sis-in-law were my guests, it would be different than having my parents as guests, because they’d sleep on my futon. When my parents come to visit, they prefer to stay in a hotel, so that changes the “home base” of the weekend. I assume I’d have two days with them, so here’s my plan:

Day 1 –

Breakfast at Toast.
I like Toast because it’s yummy breakfast without all the snobbery of brunch.

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Shopping in Noe Valley.
There are so many cute shops on 24th street. I really like the quirky bookstore, the pajama store, and Sribbledoodles!

Grab lunch at Ike’s Place .
You know I like Ike! Maybe I need to go tomorrow.

Eat a picnic and play at Dolores Park.
You basically get all of SF represented in one stop at this park. If it’s a pretty day, we’d see, um… everything.

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Ice Cream at Bi-Rite Creamery.
Mmmm I have dreams about crunchy coffee toffee.

Dinner at Taquiera Cancun
Seriously. Everyone needs to experience the world’s greatest burrito.

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Day 2 - 

Light breakfast at home. Load up on protein!

Hiking at Muir Woods
This park is wonderful, plus the added bonus of driving over the GG Bridge.

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Lunch at Pelican Inn or Parkside Cafe.

Nap.

Tour Anchor Steam Brewery
because beer.

Dinner at Goat Hill Pizza.

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I chose several geographic “pockets” so we don’t have to rely on a car. I have a Mission District pocket on Day 1 and a Potrero Hill pocket on Day 2 because that’s where Anchor Steam is located. Then we get to eat the best pizza in town.

To my brother: this plan is not set in stone so let me know if you wanna change it. Also, please come soon because I want to do all this cool stuff with you! Xoxo

The Exploratorium has moved!

The Exploratorium has moved to Pier 15! Our beloved science museum was closed for 4 months to move to its new home on the waterfront. It opened the 330,000 sqft building in April 2013, boasting three times the space, more exhibits, and more fun.

My husband and I went to the Exploratorium on Memorial Day (aka his bday). Imagine this: you have the day off work, the kids don’t have school, annnndd it’s raining. Where do you go? Yeah, I’m sure you can guess where in going with this. But I have to say that the large crowd fit nicely into the big space! The exhibits were spread out and the big windows made it feel light and airy. I was impressed that the new building seemed to be built specially to hold hundreds of millions of people on a rainy holiday.

There were so many exhibits that I couldn’t possibly tell you about them all, so I’ll just highlight a few. The life sciences ward definitely got my nerd all tingly. Especially all the bacteria in a rainbow display (in a case so no exposure!).

I really enjoyed the mirror that was curved and showed me upside down even though I was standing right in front. And the giant San Francisco tribute piece made out of toothpicks. It took 37 years to make!!

The Exploratorium is a must see! Especially if you saw it before the move. The changes are very impressive and the sweeping views of The Bay are phenomenal as always! The place is awesome for a rainy day, but you should also go when the sun is out and check out the sundial exhibit on the patio.

The Exploratorium is located at Pier 15 (Embarcadero Dr and Green St). It’s open Tue-Sun and costs $20 for adults. www.exploratorium.edu

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1000 Construction Cranes

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I never thought I’d be so happy to see cranes. Construction cranes that is. There’s a legend that says 1000 origami cranes is good luck, but I’m gonna venture out of the box and say that seeing 1000 construction cranes is better because it means building, growth, and (say it with me) JOBS!

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My relocation to SF was in 2010 when there was absolutely zero, zip, nil new construction in the city. I didn’t notice then, of course, but now it’s 2013, and there is a building boom, and it makes it obvious how dry we were 3 years ago.

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I drove around last weekend and took pictures of the many cranes towering over the skyline. The more I found, the more I got inspired by the vibration of new growth. The latest unemployment report said that California added 30,000 construction jobs in the month of March and is continuing to grow like crazy. I continued to research employment statistics and found nothing but good news in this industry, especially this report that says March 2013 showed the greatest increase in jobs in seven years! (here’s a graph!)

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I never gave construction boom or drought much of a thought before. This is the first time that I have noticed such a drastic change, and took the time to ponder the implications for our local economy. It seems like it all heading up.

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If you’re a geek, here’s a list of all the current building projects in San Francisco, including the new Transbay Transit Tower set to open in 2017.

“Construction cranes sign of times in S.F.” – from SF Chronicle

And if you’re a movie-buff, here’s the final scene from The Amazing Spider-Man with some awesome crane/web moves. *SPOILER ALERT* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAxdnjCHpg0

10 Things to do on a rainy Saturday

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We have had no shortage of rain. In the last 30 days we’ve had 5 inches of rain (which is 30% of 2012′s total rainfall). So here’s a list of things to do when the weather is not cooperating.

10. Musee Mechanique 

The Musee Mechanique is a vintage arcade museum at Fisherman’s Wharf. When I wrote about the Wharf, I told you to skip this attraction, but on a rainy day it would be wonderful. It’s free and it’s open all day. But the one problem is that you’d have to pay to park and then walk in the rain to get there.

courtesy of museemachainque.org

courtesy of museemachainque.org

9. De Young or SFMOMA

These are SF’s two famous art museums. Right now, the MOMA is hosting a collection of pieces by Jasper Johns that everyone is pretty excited about. The De Young is $11 to get in and SFMOMA costs $!8.

8. Cable Car Museum

So many people have recommended this place to me. They say it’s really informative, your outta-town guests will love how SF-tastic it is, it’s kid-friendly, annnd…. IT’S FREE!!!

courtesy of cablecarmuseum.org

courtesy of cablecarmuseum.org

 

7. Anchor Steam Brewery

This is a really popular attraction in SF. So popular in fact, that you’ll have to make a reservation. If you have family coming to town and you think it might rain, I say go ahead and make a reservation just in case. Personally, I love their pale ale called Anchor Steam.

6. Bay Model

This is a complete scale model of the entire Bay Area created by the Army Corps of Engineers. The website says that they offer three different tours based on the geek level of the group. I am going to have to visit this place, and take the most geeky tour, for sure. Then I’ll tell you all about it. This great attraction is not in SF, however. It’s across the bridge in Marin County.

5. Cartoon Art Museum

Why haven’t I visited this place?? It sounds awesome! It’s basically a history of cartoons, comic books, and animation. Last month they had a whole feature on 3D animation and how they create movies like Monsters, Inc in 3D. It’s at Mission and 3rd and costs $7 to get in.

4. Exploratorium and Cal Academy

We have two science museums! I am a scientist and that makes me giddy with excitement. I have visited the Exploratorium and I can’t recommend it enough!! I spend hours wandering around and totally geeking out! But unfortunately, it’s moving and will be closed Jan-Apr 2013. So in the meantime, you should visit the California Academy of Sciences, which I heard is also awesome. And it even has penguins!! The Cal Academy is $30 for adults.

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3. Ferry Building

I had a friend come into town about a year ago on a rainy. I took her to the Ferry Building and we had a blast! I distinctly remember finding the quintecential rainy day meal – a bowl of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich – that knocked my socks off.

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2. Walt Disney Museum

This museum is giant tribute to the life and vision of Walt Disney. I have heard that there’s so much to see that you could easily spend all day there.  Admission is $20 but that also included gorgeous panoramic views of the bay.

1. Muir Woods

This may sound crazy. Muir Woods is an outdoor venue. But I have talked to so many people who say that it is magical when it rains. There is no crowd, and the rain on the trees and babbling brook is unmatched. Just grab your rain gear and head out to your own private Redwood hideaway.

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Hearst Castle

About a month ago, my better half and I drove down CA Hwy 1, through Monterey, Big Sur, and all the way down to San Luis Obispo. On the way, we stopped at Hearst Castle.

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Hearst Castle is this giant mansion, built in the 1930s by William Randolf Hearst (www.hearstcastle.org about 4 hours south of SF in San Simeon, CA). The house is way up on this hill, so we had to park at the bottom and buy a bus ticket to the top. We took the tour of the bedrooms and upstairs rooms, but there’s also a tour of the large downstairs rooms too.

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The house was gigantic. All the rooms were decorated with all the most expensive furniture, art, curtains, and even gold foil wallpaper. Each room had a big fireplace and a dramatic ceiling. One of the ceilings was shipped from Italy. It was awesome to see everything and imagine what it was like to live there.

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The historical team does a great job of keeping the house in shape for tours and visitors. They told us that every year there is a special dinner for financial benefactors in the dining room on Christmas Eve. I bet it would be awesome to eat dinner there, with everyone dressed in 1930s attire.

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After the castle, we drove down to San Luis Obispo. This is one of the oldest cities in California, you know, from the Gold Rush days. Last year I wrote about the history of CA, and talked about the founding of missions. This city still has the old historical mission buildings from the Spanish exploration.

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Today, the city is modern and hip… but with the charm and history that make it interesting. We walked around the Mission site and then strolled through the shops in downtown. My husband and I finished our trip in this charming little town with lunch at The Black Sheep Bar and Grill and the most amazing french dip sandwich (www.blacksheepslo.com).

How to Host Thanksgiving in SF (part 2)

My family was in town for four days, and we crammed a lot of activity in those four days. So, I decided to spread it out to two posts.

They all arrived on Wednesday evening, and I wanted to take them somewhere unusual for dinner. My husband suggested an authentic Japanese ramen place called Katana-Ya (www.yelp.com/katana-ya at geary and mason). Well… um… we certainly achieved unusual. First of all, this place is TINY. You know, one of those places that seats 20, but there are 50 people in there somehow. Second, the whole menu was in Japanese, and the waitress was very pushy. I was so afraid that my family was gonna walk out.

But we finally figured out the menu, and we were able to order some ramen noodle soup, a calamari appetizer, and a few sushi rolls. The sushi was good, and the calamari was recognizable, and I was beginning to hope that things might be ok. And then, our soup came. And it was the most amazing soup in the world! We each ordered a different variation and they were all delicious! Goal of the evening: take my family to a weird restaurant and have them enjoy it. I’ll call that a success!

On Friday, we enjoyed the holiday hustle and bustle around Union Square. We saw the tree, the ice skaters, the pets in the windows, and we even drank peppermint lattes. I recognize that I have told you about Union Square many times now, so I’ll skip ahead to Friday evening’s festivities.

This whole week, the Castro Theatre is showing The Sing-Along Sound of Music. This movie is a family favorite, so I knew we had to go! They show the movie, but also put the words on the screen so you can sing along. Oh, and there are props!! This was truly a highlight of the whole holiday weekend. We had a great time singing at the top of our lungs and dressing up in costume. If you like the Sound of Music, you should definitely go see the sing-along version. Playing at the Castro until Dec 2. $15.

 

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