Friday, October 31, 2008

5 Wonderful Things From Etsy - October 31, 2008

A little journey through Etsy took me across these five very different, but equally interesting and odd pieces. Oh, how I love Etsy. Check out the prints here.

Get the grenade here.
Get the egg here.
Get the felt beard here.
Get the terrarium here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fantastically Free Tours in SF - October 29, 2008

Since moving into the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, I've become absolutely intrigued about the history of the area. I find myself wandering through the streets admiring the architecture and landscape, and imagining what it must have been like here over one hundred years ago. Was it safe, was it loud, how did it smell, were the colors bright or dull, what did people talk about, and who lived here are the sorts of questions that pop into my mind.

Out of the many cities I've visited in the United States, San Francisco is certainly one of the most unique. From the actual physical land to the culture, there are very few places like here. As a result of my general fascination with the city, I find that I want to dig deeper to uncover the history behind it all. As part of my investigation, I came across this resource, San Francisco City Guides, a series of free walking tours in the city.

San Francisco City Guides founded in 1978, is a non-profit organization with more than 200 trained volunteers who lead FREE history and architectural walking tours in San Francisco. We are sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library and are a project of the Tides Center. Tours are offered 52 weeks a year, rain or shine. Approximately 30 different walks are offered each month. Last year they gave over 2,000 tours, and over 21,000 people attended those tours. I wanted to go on this tour, but alas, I missed the date. I'm going to have to wait until May!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Week!!! - October 27, 2008

The week of Halloween is upon us finally!!! Yay!

I've decorated my apartment as such. Behold, the glorious scary apartment!!!

And of course, Sosia, covered in cobwebs on the floor.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Village Pet Store - October 24, 2008

I know that Banksy's pet store has been passed around the Internet for several weeks now, but I haven't seen any great video documentation of the store. Since I'm in San Francisco, it's a bit tough to make a quick visit to the lower east side of Manhattan. Finally, NOTCOT produced a HD quality video of the store.

Here it is:

NOTCOT: Banksy's Village Petstore & Charcoal Grill from Jean Aw on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rubber Band Boats Are Cool - October 23, 2008

My good friend Ken, host of This is Clutch, had an incredible post about the strategic development that went into the creation of a rubber band powered boat. Although the idea is seemingly simple, it ended up being far more complicated than thought.

Mostly, I admire how Ken and his team collaborated on the project using Web 2.0 technologies. Additionally, Ken went to great extent to document the process so that others could learn how they went from ideation to concept to execution.

I'm reposting Ken's Slideshare presentation as well as his video documentation of the project. Once again, I want to reiterate how well I think Ken recorded the entire process of the project.

Rubber Band Boat Deck
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: engineering design)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cheese, Cheese, Cheese!!! - October 22, 2008

Several weeks ago Sosia and I attended the Locavore class at the Cheese School of San Francisco. Sosia is a cheese aficionado, and she loves local food products, which made the Locavore class a perfect fit. In case you forgot, a locavore is someone that sustains their diet using food products found within a 100 mile radius of their home.

The Cheese School is a quaint establishment located in North Beach with an incredibly friendly staff, and very knowledgeable instructors. Our class was run by Sheana Davis, a Sonoma based cheese and wine maker, who gave wonderfully thorough explanations and histories about each cheese we sampled. The Cheese School conveniently provided us with a custom printout so that we could take notes on all the cheeses. As a cheese tasting amateur, I took this as an opportunity to jot down my thoughts so that I could remember what my taste buds enjoyed the most.
The instructor, Sheana, was awesome! I really want to take her beer and cheese class. Here are the notes, accompanied by my recommendations on what cheeses I thought were the best:

Delice de la Vallee (Sonoma – pasteurized cow & goat’s milk) – MY FAVORITE OVERALL!!!
Fantastic smooth, creamy, and melty feel. Easy to spread, and not too pungent or over-whelming. Nice white color and good looking whipped texture. I don't have a picture because the cheese isn't officially out on the market yet, but will be shortly.
Harley Farms, Monet (Pescadero – pasteurized goat’s milk) – WOULD BUY AGAIN
Nice and smooth, but somewhat of a likeable texture. Very subtle, with strong hints of herbs.
Pug’s Leap, Petit Marcel (Healdsburg – pasteurized goat’s milk)
Seems to dry the mouth the second it touches your tongue. Bland and hard to spread
Andante Dairy, Acapella (Petaluma – pasteurized goat’s milk) – WOULD BUY AGAIN
This will wake you up. Very potent rind, but mild in the end. Texture is nice and easy, and the color is pleasant.
Elk Creamery, Black Gold (Elk – pasteurized goat’s milk)
Waxy and has an odd texture. The rind is just too much, certainly something I won’t buy.
Redwood Hill Farm, Camellia (Sebastopol – pasteurized goat’s milk)
Tastes like a typical blue cheese. It’s got a fantastic rind, but the cheese isn’t soft enough. It feels like I could eat a lot of this, but not be satisfied.
Cowgirl Creamery, Mt. Tam (Petaluma – pasteurized cow’s milk) – WOULD BUY AGAIN
Always a winner! Very smooth and delicious with hints of herbs. No wonder it’s a local favorite.
Bellwether Farms, San Andreas (Valley Ford – raw sheep’s milk) – WOULD BUY AGAIN
This is a harder cheese, which has a very nice subtle flavor. Will probably kill to eat this cheese again.
Vella Cheese Company, Mezzo Secco (Sonoma – raw cow’s milk) – WOULD BUY AGAIN
Great rich and creamy taste, with an incredible texture of both hard and soft. The cheese does look hard though.
Pt. Reyes Farmstead, Original Blue (Pt. Reyes – raw cow’s milk) – WOULD BUY AGAIN
Wow! Powerful, yet controlled blue cheese. It’s like there’s a party in my mouth and everyone’s invited.
I'm not an expert, experienced, or even remotely trained cheese taster, so please, take all my reviews as you like. I hope this gives San Franciscans a better idea of the local cheeses that surround us.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

DIY Halloween - October 16, 2008

The good people of Instructables are constantly pushing do-it-yourselfers to their creative limits, and I love them for it.

I'm a huge fan of Instructables and of Halloween, so it was a natural fit to post about their Halloween contest.

There are lots of ways to enter!
- Post your Instructables, photo slideshows, or videos on Instructables.
- Enter individual photos and videos through the diyhalloween08 flickr group and YouTube group.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm A Sheep - October 14, 2008

48% of Americans believe UFOs have visited planet Earth!

In this picture, I am holding one of the first bottles of Crystal Head Vodka. Sadly, I fell into the marketing trap created by Dan Aykroyd, which pretty much forced me to buy this. Like all vodkas, most Americans purchase based on brand association or by bottle design. Clearly, I purchased on bottle design, but big part of me also purchased this because of the story.

Dan Aykroyd, yes, the actor, created a new vodka that is, "in reverence of those enlightened after touching any of the thirteen crystal heads unearthed around our globe." Mr. Aykroyd, purveyor of the occult, is a strong and faithful believer of UFOs, aliens, and other paranormal phenomena, and wants to share his passion via a vodka. This vodka is contained within a glass skull, which is meant to emulate the crystal skulls that have been found around the globe. I'd go into further explination, but I think watching this video is the best way to learn about it:

I now own a bottle of this fine liquor. Now, let's hope it lives up to it's promise.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Horse That Swam the Bay - October 8, 2008

On October 1, 1938, a horse named Blackie (12 years old) made history in San Francisco Bay by swimming from the Marin County side to San Francisco's Crissy Field.

The story goes that in late September 1938, Bill Kyne, of the Bay Meadows race track, was at Roberts-at-the-Beach and said to Shorty Roberts that horses could not swim. Shorty's response was that his horse Blackie could swim across the Golden Gate. Kyne initially wagered $5,000 that this could not be done. The final wager was $1,000, and the plan was for 12-year-old Blackie to swim from Lime Point in Marin County to San Francisco.

At one point, the SPCA got wind of the plan and, worried about danger to Blackie, convinced the government to forbid Roberts to launch the horse from Marin County. "So Shorty's friend, A. P. Paladini, used his large fishing boat troller with a sling and net, and lowered Blackie down into the water from the side of the boat," according to Al Sportorno.

Shorty accompanied the horse on the swim. According to Al, there were no wetsuits, so Shorty covered his body with grease. In addition, Shorty couldn't swim. He wore a life preserver and held onto Blackie's tail.

The swim took 23 minutes and 15 seconds. See the short film about the swim here.

This story was written by by Lorri Ungaretti, but I wanted to republish because I thought it was interesting.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Virtual Worlds (& a trip to Burning Man) - October 6, 2008

I recently had an opportunity to revisit one of my favorite virtual worlds, Second Life, with a mind's eye focused on looking at how the world and the culture had evolved over the past couple of years.

Before going any further, I'd like to preface this post by saying that I am not an expert on virtual worlds, rather a casual observer who has a keen interest in understanding why they exist, their overall potential for consumers, and how people are communicating with another inside of them.

What I really love about virtual worlds is that they are built and maintained by their virtual residents and hosts so that users can engage as avatars to interact, play, do business and communicate with each other. Residents can trade or sell virtual goods and services to other residents, host live concerts, participate in public debate and engage in many activities similar to those done in real life. The purpose or theme of the world is completely dependent on what the users want.

When I began taking a glance at virtual world usage rates, a a couple statistics really jumped out at me. Firstly, a firm (Strategy Analytics), reported that over the next ten years some 22% of global broadband users will have registered for one or more virtual worlds resulting in a market approaching one billion registrants. That's a HUGE number of individuals! As the technology evolves over time these worlds will become more and more sophisticated and visceral, making their use more widely applicable. Secondly, Second Life has 15 million users, of which over 1 million have been an active participant within the virtual world during the past 60 days. Thirdly, Second Life residents spend a collective 34 million hours of activity in the last month, and transacted over $9.5 million dollars worth of goods and services.

All of the above certainly leads me to believe this "phenomena" will soon grow into a bigger trend that rapidly engulfs the world by storm. Virtual worlds present information to users in an immersive manner that creates more memorable experiences, and draws on a human's tendacy to explore that information in a more natural and real way. The web is more or less flat, and these virtual worlds, which mimic real life, can translate our own ritualistic ways of soaking up information into a plausible virtual activity.

Without going to much further into this, I wanted to share my recent trip to the virtual Burning Man. Since I couldn't make it to the real Burning Man (known in SL as "Burning Life"), this was a welcomed substitute, and a nice homage from Linden Labs to give nod to such a creative culture. In my few years perusing Second Life, this event had some of the greatest virtual pieces I've seen to date. See my snapshots below:

Friday, October 3, 2008

StreetSmart4Kids - October 3, 2008

STREETSMART4KIDS is a San Francisco based non-profit company that runs a Dine Out and Donate campaign, which is taking place at participating restaurants in San Francisco from Oct 1st – Nov 16th.

Dine Out and Donate asks diners to donate $3 or more per table to programs benefiting at-risk and homeless youth. All proceeds directly benefit Larkin Street Youth Services, Huckleberry Youth Programs and teen programs of La Casa de las Madres. Last year, more than 6,000 homeless/at-risk youth and their families received services from SS4K beneficiary agencies.

To help spread the word, SS4K has developed pages on Facebook,, as well as For more information, check out the links below:

: Show your support and become a fan of the StreetSmart4Kids page



Here's the video a company in the area made for them, I also happen to make a debut in it :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Smart & Useful Packaging - October 1, 2008

A colleague at work just bought his own customized Timbuk2 bag. The bag he made is incredibly cool, as he was able to customize the interior and the exterior of the bag, making it unique to his personality. The coolest thing besides the customized bag was the very innovative and unique plastic bag that was carrying the Timbuk2 bag. (Yeah, I know, I've used the word "bag" alot).

The plastic bag isn't meant to be thrown away, because it is a bike map for the city of San Francisco, complete with an elevation table, routes, and Timbuk2 store locations.