Necklace of lights

Necklace of lights (i)

All of these pictures we’ve been taking of each other

We make them look older than they naturally do

All of these pictures coworkers lovers and brothers

Mini-mementos so we don’t forget me and you

Are we supposed to revisit them later on in this life

or post and then doublecheck so we know that it was real

Are we supposed to bone up in case of a pop quiz

Mini-mementos in case we need to look and feel

As we compose our shots and press on our shutters

Ossify everything opposite our eyes for all time

Think of the last time you’ll do it and try not to shudder

Your documentation convicts you of a high crime

Four women on Lakeshore Avenue

Ethiopian women waiting on Lakeshore Avenue

Too often, I take pictures and they’re just pictures. Sometimes they’re merely documents. Often they’re useful place-holders. Occasionally I’ll try to take a picture that might work as art, or an obviously aesthetically effort-laden approach. I have had the good fortune to hang out with James Knox, Gwen Harlow or a Thomas Hawk.

I don’t usually recognize the best pictures I take for something other than an image, unexpectedly representative of larger forces and processes, until much later. And maybe I’m just looking at this image in several of what may be many wrong-headed, clumsy, ham-fisted ways. I could be overthinking a plate of beans. But something about this picture speaks to me. Its not a technically brilliant or clear capture, but I’m pretty sure I’d favorite it if I came across it in someone else’s photo-stream.

No worries on Franklin Street

No Worries restaurant

I don’t need a Foursquare page to tell me that I’m guilty of eating out at the same half-dozen places over and over in Oakland (or Berkeley or San Francisco). What I do apparently need — what it takes — is to read about a closing restaurant in Oakland Local and then for Ankita to suggest we go there.

No Worries menu

So we pull off I-980 into downtown and thread the streets we’re able to get through because 14th Street is blocked off for the Art and Soul Festival. Eventually we park over at the corner of 17th and Franklin streets, and walk down to the door. We get seated and we stare at the menu. I get a beer and think about just how hungry I am.

Ankita's dinner


Ankita’s dinner and my own pancit take a while to arrive, as business has picked up in the half-hour since our arrival. Both are delicious.

Leaving the restaurant afterward, I do a double-take a few doors down at the iCamera shop that has gone out of business. I had been taking my cameras to them since the late 1990s. There is a lesson here for me if I can focus long enough.

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Mixed mobility

Cup of tea and smartphone

Cup of tea and iPhone

I don’t think I’ve talked all that often about living in a mixed household.

It’s not that hard a slog, or even that noteworthy. We get by just like folks from the same tribe do.

We just wind up stopping more often to ask questions and process answers.

We may not always have the same vocabulary for mutual experiences. That just means we work a little harder. But the work’s worth it. We both come away with a renewed appreciation for our differences.

I mean, an Android owner like me can always get something out of time spent with other kinds of mobile users, even if it’s just lulz. And an iPhone user like her can point and laugh at me whenever my phone seizes up and needs rebooting for the nth time.

It’s really very simple: She likes the ease and convenience her phone offers. I like the ability to tinker — and the constraints that come with having a non-default device.

Heh. Bet you thought I was going to talk about a different kind of mixed household, huh?

Maybe early next week I’ll take a swing at jotting down some things that have occurred to me in nearly 13 months since switching over from Symbian.

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My badge

My badge

I’ve driven by the building once or twice. Drive-by sightseeing doesn’t really cut it though, does it? Not that I tried to make it stand in or stand up, make it more than it was. So when Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig emailed the invite, I said yes. Working out of the San Jose Mercury News newsroom meant it was mostly a straight shot over to Mountain View, barring the moment or two when I got turned around trying to actually find Highway 101.

And then I was there, pulling into the parking lot, dodging clouds of low-flying employees on those little baby-BMX bicycles and dashing over to the lobby of Building 43 to join members from the San Francisco Bay Area Black Journalists Association, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (Nor-Cal) and the Asian American Journalists Association (San Francisco Bay Area Chapter).

Google for journalists

Google for journalists

Before the presentation

Before the presentation

Then came forty-five minutes of tips and tricks about using Google more efficiently:

  • Don’t worry about capitalization
  • Remove results from your query by using a minus sign
  • Use Control-F to find a phrase quickly (90% didn’t know to use function)
  • Use quotations for specific phrase (“A Google A Day”)
  • Search by file type (filetype:.doc, filetype:.pdf, filetype:.ppt) or site type (,
  • Search within specific sites:,
  • Look for and use timing and location filters on left side of search-result page
  • Currency conversion: “50 dollars in euros”
  • Unit conversion: “500 kilometers in miles”
  • Calculator: “194.43 + 73.17 + 20 + 3.25”
  • Weather forecast for locations, local movie times, stock quotes
  • Sort searches by relevance or by subject (size, color, type)
  • Search by image (Google Goggles)
  • Find academic and research documents in
  • Google Translate (or the Translate app) for language tools — translated search, text, Web page
  • Hit Google Trends and Google Insights for Search (seasonality of searches: “wedding planning” peaks in late December; regionality of searches; to search/visualize public data “unemployment rate”; Google Fusion Tables)
  • Google Maps: directions, but also reporting to include visuals in stories
  • Google Street View (parking, landmarks, screenshots of buildings “before” imagery — look for updates: (asked about Google Earth layers)
  • Visit YouTube (stats: 48+ hrs. of video every minute, 2 billion videos watched each day, #3 site in U.S., #2 search engine, 70% of traffic is international)
  • Check out to highlight citizen news.
  • Visit (most searched for name for pronunciation: “Kesha”)
  • To embed a video at a certain point, use this formula at the end of the link (“#t=23m15s”) like so:

I kept taking notes, despite looking away every now and then to see stuff like this volleyball game outside.


Michelle Fitzhugh Craig

Michelle Fitzhugh Craig

Group shot at evening's end

Group shot at evening’s end

Amphitheatre Parkway

Amphitheatre Parkway

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On paywalls

You have viewed two of your five premium pages each month

I pay for the Wall Street Journal (though lately I’m regretting that). I don’t pay for the New York Times (though lately I’m regretting that). I work for the Bay Area News Group (though lately … I bet you thought I was going to repeat myself, now, didn’t you?).

I know what I’m willing to pay for. More and more, that willingness is being driven by what I see inside and outside organizations that set them up.

I know Vallejo and Vacaville residents are making similar calculations, using the same cold equations driving everybody: where to spend their attention, their time, their money?

I hope they make the right call, for their sake and for mine.

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CNN News explains Anonymous vs. BART

From transcript:

CNN News explains Anonymous vs. BART (i)If you or someone you know ride San Francisco’s BART transportation system, take a listen to this. You may have just been hacked. Dan Simon is live in San Francisco with the story.


GRIFFIN: The hacking group Anonymous strikes again, this time targeting BART’s San Francisco Bay Area rapid transit system. It appears that the names and phone numbers were hacked from the BART Web site and posted online. The group took credit for the breach in a YouTube message.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been watching the actions of San Francisco, blocking communication of cell phone devices is unacceptable. The Bay Area Rapid Transit has decided that blocking cellular communication is the correct way to scare off protesters.


GRIFFIN: Dan Simon covering the story for us in San Francisco.

And, Dan, I got to be honest with you. I do not understand what Anonymous is so ticked off about here.

DAN SIMON, CNN SILICON VALLEY CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is what anonymous likes to do. They like to target organizations who they perceive are limiting free speech.

And as you heard there in the clip, there was a situation last week where BART shut down the cell phone communication for all the riders, all of its passengers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

And the reason why they did that is there was supposed to be a protest last week. BART has been battling an image problem for sometime. There are people that believe that its police department has been overzealous. There were a couple high profile incidents, most recent one occurring just last month where BART police shot and killed a homeless man who was allegedly wielding a knife.

Well, despite all that, people think that BART has gone overboard, and there was supposed to be this. Well, to thwart that protest BART shut down the cell phone communication for all of the passengers and that ticked off Anonymous. So, they decided to hack into its Web site — and that’s exactly what they did.

CNN News explains Anonymous vs. BART (ii)GRIFFIN: And what kind of information has been released because of that?

SIMON: Well, this was an external Web site, not the main BART Web site, but where people have log-in information, where people set up accounts. And so, what they did is they went into that Web site, and it’s called And they published all the users, names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers. No financial information compromised.

But, you know, if you have an account of this people who has an account, you know, it may aggravate you to see your name and e-mail address and phone number up on a public venue.

GRIFFIN: YES. And so, now, what’s going to happen today? There’s some warning for riders today?

SIMON: Well, Anonymous has said, we want to have a protest. So, today, at 5:00, it asked everybody who was upset about this, about shutting down the cell phones to show up at a San Francisco BART station at 5:00, and their goal is to try to disrupt service for commuters.

BART obviously is concerned about this, and they have not announced their plans to try prevent the protest and keep everything running on time. But nonetheless, you know, there’s going to be this protest at 5:00 local time in San Francisco. So, stay tuned.

GRIFFIN: And we will. Thanks a lot, Dan. Appreciate that. Interesting story.

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The Albatross pub trivia teams

Take a good hard look at JanetIt would be silly of me to try to pull some deeper meaning out of winning both of the pub-trivia contests I entered this summer: one in early June at The Den at The Fox in Oakland, and another one tonight at The Albatross in Berkeley.

I got there, and met Dawn and Jay eating some barbecue and trying to come up with a good team name. We went with Jay’s first pass at it, a play on Chomsky’s classic treatise “Manufacturing Consent.” Their friend Janet, who turned out to be a former Oakland Tribune writer from the paper’s Robert Maynard days, asked me “Are you smart?” I just smiled.

Dawn and JayDawn explained how she’d met me after choir rehearsal at The Den’s contest, and I filled in with the lucky bit about the assist I got from the random guy who turned out to run his own contest Mondays in San Francisco’s Mission District.

I look at many of my friends, many of whom possess and manifest several kinds of intelligences before lifting a finger to get out of bed each day, with gratitude and admiration, and I ought to try to remember their examples when I put myself in situations that reward reasoning, memory, good guesses and luck.

I think I’m going to try to treat more situations as if they were pub-trivia contests, and as if the people around me are on my team (or on competing teams). You can say “gamification” if that’s what it makes you think of. Maybe it’s just a more enjoyable model for gaming than what’s going lately.

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And love is all that I need and I found it there in your heart

WaitingShowing up means you’ll be there when she lands, even if you’re early and she was explicit about when her flight was going to land.

It means you get the gifts of parking off to the side of the waiting point and watching travelers reunite at all manner of speeds: the slow zombie shuffle, the all-business cheek-peck and carry-on luggage clean-and-jerk, the extended-family flood-the-zone swarm.

And it means that when you see her gliding down the escalator, glassy-eyed and glum after hours in the air, she will never see you barreling bullet-time-stylee between bodies toward her.

All she will remember is you materializing against her, all unexpected arms carefully cradling you, ready to drive north — and then, after about fifteen minutes, exiting the highway at an unfamiliar area the instant you realize exactly why inbound city traffic won’t work, driving south again past the airport and east across the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge to the East Bay.

Monica, Victoria, Petter & Heather pre-Pizzaiolo gigLater, when you’re home and your cat has finally deigned to remember her, and the two are curled up and softly snoring in tandem nearby, you can think about all of those songs you’ve been singing recently.

Hours later, you do the showing-up thing at a restaurant in the Temescal neighborhood of North Oakland.

It means you get to warm up by singing in public on a street-corner.

It means passers-by will look back as they pass, or pause respectfully and clap when songs end. It means getting your fellow choir-members to stand in a doorway and look a little like the louche, up-for-it entertainers they forget that they look like because they’re too busy with their open throats singing Bryan Adams and Paul Young and Peter Cetera and George Michael.

It means walking back to a semi-private room when the cake is brought out and crowbaring your mouth open and surprising the soft-rock out of someone celebrating turning 40 among friends and family.

And it means walking back to your car after a really good margherita pizza topped with arugula leaves and a couple of glasses of Linden Street Brewery Burning Oak Black Lager and a renewed appreciation for what can happen when you show up.

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Bad connection Statement on temporary wireless service interruption in select BART stations on Aug. 11

I’ve only ever used the wireless service connection a few times inside BART stations. Before its arrival, being underground was just something to suffer through. What did it matter? I was just like everyone else, heading somewhere where there’d be a signal. Without it, I was just using the phone in my hand or my laptop to play music or write or zone out.

But BART has changed, not least since January 1, 2009. And as shocked and irritated as I am about the cut-off switch that BART officials threw in advance of a protest that never really materialized, it’s really par for the course. This is how things are now. On the way up to Oregon last month, after stopping for the night near Mt. Shasta, I look in on Twitter and I see people talking about BART police shooting another man. It’s not the service interruption that I worry about on the rarer and rarer occasions I choose to ride trains.

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