Look for me at the Ocean Beach Bulletin

November 28, 2010

This blog is on hiatus for the foreseeable future. I’ve started the Ocean Beach Bulletin, a local news organization for San Francisco’s Ocean Beach and nearby neighborhoods. Look for local journalism from me and from other contributors at oceanbeachbulletin.com, facebook.com/oceanbeachbulletin, twitter.com/obbulletin and youtube.com/oceanbeachbulletin.



Muffins or a sharpened toothbrush?

January 19, 2010

I had a great time at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco Jan. 18.  The highlight of the show for me was a hilarious bit of cognitive dissonance when I found a particularly cute — I would even call it “precious” — booth.

This booth apparently belonged to a Florida-based maker of food, um, stuff. I don’t know how to describe what they do, because I could look at a pantry full of their products and not see a single thing to eat. Lots of dips and mixes and things that probably end up being passed off in charity raffle baskets or something. But whatever. If they make money, then good for them.

What got me was that the company at this booth with cheery colors and charming little displays shares a name with a maximum-security California state prison notorious for housing inmates too violent and depraved to be allowed to mix with the gentler souls filling the bunks at other state prisons.

I don’t think anyone had told them about the prison, but when I saw the booth I laughed out loud.

So if someone mentions Pelican Bay, be sure to ask if they mean the outfit specializing in charming gingerbread cookie mixes, or the place where you go if you shank a prison guard in the neck.

By the by, I looked for my favorite captain’s cap-wearing company rep from last year’s show to no avail.

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Disclosure: My work with the Wild Equity Institute

January 19, 2010

I’ve been helping a San Francisco nonprofit organization establish itself on Twitter, and in the spirit of full disclosure I want to explain my relationship with the group.

The nonprofit I’m working with is called the Wild Equity Institute. You can find WildEquity’s Twitter account at twitter.com/WildEquity. Wild Equity’s mission is to build “a healthy and sustainable global community for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.” Wild Equity Institute logo

My work with Wild Equity has been done completely pro bono. That is, I received no compensation for it and I have no economic relationship with WEI. I think Wild Equity deserves the opportunity to be on Twitter and part of the reason I chose to help the group is that I previously knew its executive director, but the fact that I helped it get started on Twitter shouldn’t be construed as a blanket endorsement of everything the Wild Equity Institute does.

If you would like to know more about my work with the Wild Equity Institute, or if you are connected with a nonprofit organization that would like to know more about how to get into Twitter without a big investment of funds and staff time, please call me at 415-685-3428.

Follow the Wild Equity Institute on Twitter.

Follow Tom Prete on Twitter.

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Let me tell you about the time I impersonated Elijah

April 8, 2009

Let me tell you about the time I accidentally impersonated the prophet Elijah.

I suppose I ought to preface my story by noting — even at the risk of sounding like I’m saying, “Some of my best friends are Jewish” — that I hope I’m not offending anyone with this story. I have nothing but the utmost respect for people who practice any religion with sincerity, as well as those who practice no religion with the same conviction. I’m in a giving mood — so people who aren’t sure, I respect you too.

Anyway, when I was in college a friend invited me to a seder dinner at her house. I accepted, but the dinner was to take place on the night I got back to school after spending spring break with my family in San Francisco. I had a ride back to school with another friend, but traffic was worse than expected and we were very late.

When I arrived at the home of my friend who was hosting the seder, I walked up to the front door, a bottle of wine in each hand, and noticed the door was slightly ajar. I had never been to a seder before, so I had no idea that (at least in my friend’s seder tradition) this was to be expected.

I could hear people talking inside, so as I pushed the door open wide I said, “Hi, everybody, sorry I’m late!”

Much to my surprise, the dozen or so people sitting around the dining room table were already facing the door. They had just started the portion of the seder known as the Cup of Elijah the Prophet, and were looking to the door because they were talking about the tradition that Elijah visits each home on seder night. Everyone’s eyes widened as I walked through the doorway, and some people just sat there with their mouths open.

Finally, someone picked up his glass of wine, raised it up, and shouted, “Elijah!”

Everybody else shouted, “Elijah!” too, and burst out laughing. I had no idea what was going on.

My friend got up from the head of the table, still laughing so hard she could hardly stand, and showed me to my seat as she explained what I had done.

To this day, I have never had such good timing as that night I walked in the door so late.

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Reason 927 why my missus is awesome

March 30, 2009

From my wife’s blog, Dancing Hula in the Sunset:

OK, so 927th place out of 1086 is pretty close to coming in last but I still did it. I climbed 1197 steps in 27 minutes, 10 seconds.
I was super sweaty and stank a little but I did something I was only “pretty sure” I could do.

Read more here.

Fancy Food Show, here I come

January 19, 2009

I’m spending the day at the Fancy Food Show at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Look for short posts from the show today, plus tweets at http://twitter.com/tomprete.

Wireless connections are a bit spotty in Moscone Center and no cameras are allowed in the show, but I’ll post what I can, when I can.

Top 10 best and worst communicators of 2008

January 7, 2009

If the past is prologue, perhaps I’m not too late to point out communications guru Bert Decker’s list of the 10 best and worst communicators of 2008. I was pleased to introduce San Francisco Examiner readers to Bert’s observations back when I was editorial-page editor there, and he’s never failed to produce relevant insight each year. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has the uncommon distinction of making the 2008 list twice: once among the best, and once with the worst.

Sarah Palin at the August 31st Road to the Convention Rally. This was taken just after she entered, before John McCain delivered his speech to over 10,000 supporters in the T.R. Hughes Baseball Stadium in OFallon, MO.

Sarah Palin photo by Jeff Geerling, http://flickr.com/people/lifeisaprayer/

PretePress readers may recall a similar observation I made following Palin’s speech to the Republican Convention in September.

From Bert’s blog:

1.    Barack Obama
As his star continues to rise, there’s just no contest for #1 Best Communicator.
And it’s not just because he was elected President that he deserves #1, but that he was elected President BECAUSE of his communications ability. President Elect Obama is the first repeat at #1 (2006) and for the same reason. He vaulted from obscurity on the strength of his words and speeches at the 2004 Democratic Convention, and just kept talking. To date he hasn’t really done much except communicate. Shows you how important that skill is. One of the greatest modern orators, we’ll now see if he can replace Bill Clinton as “the great communicator” while in office.

2.    Tim Russert
He was one of the best, and we’ll miss him.
One of our best TV journalists died this year, and he would have made this list without the posthumous honor. Russert was personable, energetic and open but also tough, incisive and smart. Meet The Press, and Network TV News will never be the same. His son Luke Russert was eloquent in his eulogy, and maybe there will be more…

Read the rest of Bert Decker’s list on his excellent — and useful — blog.

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