Park Chalet to host meeting on Ocean Beach erosion

January 22, 2010

Following the closure of a portion of San Francisco’s Great Highway due to ocean erosion, users of Ocean Beach and neighborhood residents will have an opportunity to talk about the city’s plans to shore up the beach and protect the street and a nearby water-treatment system.

Ocean Beach erosion

A portion of San Francisco's Great Highway south of Sloat Boulevard was closed to traffic in January after rainstorms and the Pacific Ocean ate away at an already eroded portion of Ocean Beach. Photo by Crescent Calimpong via Surfrider Foundation, San Francisco chapter.

A meeting is planned for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25 at Park Chalet, behind the Beach Chalet at 1000 Great Highway. The meeting will cover the erosion, potential methods to address it, and an official emergency declaration that could speed and simplify the process for implementng erosion-control measures.

According to the San Francisco chapter of the Surfrider Foundation:

The DPW Project Manager, Frank Filice will be there to discuss the emergency declaration, the short-term strategy, and a process for a long-term solution.

Everyone who has an interest in the preservation and the future of Ocean Beach is encouraged to attend. The emergency declaration will go before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for ratification the following day, Tuesday, January 26th. For questions or more information, please email the meeting organizer and Chair of the San Francisco Ocean Beach Vision Council: Lara Truppelli at

The Surfrider Foundation has established a blog dedicated to tracking news and information about erosion on Ocean Beach.

Follow Tom Prete on Twitter.

Bookmark and Share


My visit to San Francisco State University’s corpse flower

June 30, 2009

I took the kids to see San Francisco State University’s corpse flower — also know as a titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum — on Monday afternoon. It wasn’t fully open, but the fellow who cares for it said he thought it might be open by Wednesday morning.

If you go, you should keep in mind that the greenhouse is small, and crowded with plants. No more than six or eight people can get a good look at the flower (actually an inflorescence) at any one time. The aisles of the greenhouse don’t look wheelchair-accessible, but the corpse flower itself is near a door and it should be easy to get a wheelchair in the door and up close to the flower.

While we were there I took a look around SFSU’s greenhouse complex, which is pretty nifty. They have one room dedicated to California native plants, and even though it wasn’t open it was cool to see they had several varieties of manzanita to demonstrate adaptations to various water, soil and fire regimes.

Corpse flower, also known as titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum, at San Francisco State Universitys greenhouse, Monday, June 29, 2009.

Corpse flower, also known as titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum, at San Francisco State University's greenhouse, Monday, June 29, 2009.

Bookmark and Share

Wordle of Obama remarks on Iran

June 23, 2009

I made this wordle of President Barack Obama’s opening remarks on Iran at his June 23, 2009 press conference. This is based on the prepared remarks as provided by the White House, not on an actual transcript. It does not include Obama’s responses to any of the press questions about Iran.

Wordle: Obama_preparedtext_Iran_090623

Here is the text on which the wordle is based:

First, I’d like to say a few words about the situation in Iran. The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days. I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights, and heed the will of its own people. It must govern through consent, not coercion. That is what Iran’s own people are calling for, and the Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government.

I have made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not at all interfering in Iran’s affairs. But we must also bear witness to the courage and dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place.

The Iranian people are trying to have a debate about their future. Some in the Iranian government are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the United States and others outside of Iran of instigating protests over the elections. These accusations are patently false and absurd. They are an obvious attempt to distract people from what is truly taking place within Iran’s borders. This tired strategy of using old tensions to scapegoat other countries won’t work anymore in Iran. This is not about the United States and the West; this is about the people of Iran, and the future that they – and only they – will choose.

The Iranian people can speak for themselves. That is precisely what has happened these last few days. In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to the peaceful pursuit of justice. Despite the Iranian government’s efforts to expel journalists and isolate itself, powerful images and poignant words have made their way to us through cell phones and computers, and so we have watched what the Iranian people are doing.

This is what we have witnessed. We have seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands Iranians marching in silence. We have seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and their voices heard. Above all, we have seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and painful, we also know this: those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.

Follow Tom Prete on Twitter.

Bookmark and Share

‘The time has come to set aside childish things’

January 20, 2009

Yes, I know, Barack Obama probably is going to disappoint me. He probably is going to disappoint a lot of people. Nearly every politician — nearly every person — fails to live up to the potential of what he could achieve, and that always is

Thank you for being our president. Make us proud. Artist Arlene Elizabeth created this portrait of Obama from 1,000 origami cranes.

My daughter (with white backpack) writes a message to President Barack Obama in San Francisco's Civic Center on Inauguration Day: "Thank you for being our president. Make us proud." Artist Arlene Elizabeth created this portrait of Obama from 1,000 origami cranes.

disappointing. But standing among my fellow San Franciscans in Civic Center Plaza on Inauguration Day, it was impossible not to share some measure of the hope, pride and excitement that filled the crowd as Obama took the oath of office and issued an inspiring call to strive toward the pinnacle of our collective potential, even knowing that we may fall short of the goal. That, after all, is what many Americans of the post-Baby Boom generations have awaited for so long: a call to make big changes, a call to do great things, a call to right wrongs, a call to strive to become better than we are. Earlier generations heard their own calls and faced their own tests in accordance with the challenges of their time, and if what I saw in that crowd on Inauguration Day was any indication, young Americans are eager to take up the challenges and opportunities of our day. I hope for the sake of the country that we can remember that while falling short of our potential is part of the human condition, so is getting up to try again.

Bookmark and Share

Obama inauguration: a San Francisco perspective

January 20, 2009

I’m getting ready to head out for some of the public events in San Francisco related to today’s inuaguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. In light of the historic nature of this inauguration, I’m pulling my daughter out of school for the day and bringing her with me. I hope waking her up with hot chocolate convinces her that today is as important as I’ve told her it is. Look for liveblogging here at and Tweets from as much as I can manage. I’ll wrap up in a post later today.

Bookmark and Share

Collected morsels from the Fancy Food Show 2009

January 20, 2009

Didn’t get a chance to do more than Tweet in between walking and eating at the Fancy Food Show on Monday, but in case you missed the Tweets from directly, here they are all together — plus a couple of corrections of my fat-thumb typing.

Heading out for Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Tweets and liveblog at as wireless connections from inside allow. The wireless reception in Moscone Center was flawless.

NextBus on inbound L Taraval wildly inaccurate. Said next train in 17 mins, but actual time was 3 mins. Thanx, NextBus.

Fancy Food Show: Serrano ham, blood oranges. They’ll need a stick to get me away from this section.

Fancy Food Show: OK, mezzeMarin has lured me from the serrano ham with these great little spears of olives, anchivies and peppers. That’s MezzeMarin.

And MezzeMarin’s anchovy fillets are fantastic.

Fancy food show: nice to see a booth of Potuguese stuff, including from Sao George, but naught from Terciera, alas. That’s Portuguese and Sao Jorge.

Fancy food show: Oh, no – Van Vooren foie gras. I’m a goner.

Fancy food show: Fresca Italia gets the beauty prize so far, for its cheeses. Like art.

Fancy food show: This convention is great, but what an environmental downer. Millions of tiny plastic spoons, cups, plates, etc.
… And why does Moscone Center only have hot-water faucets in the restrooms, and only the kind that don’t automatically turn off? The restrooms in the halls were like this, but the restroom in between the two halls of the show did have auto-off faucets.

Fancy food show: wow, Patti LaBelle has a spice mix brand?

Fancy food show: The green/sustainability angle is big, of course, but Gidi is the only booth so far the uses compostable spoons. Kudos. Green themes were trumpteted by a lot of booths, and some of them didn’t have any samples or giveaways at all, so they didn’t use any packaging. But I only found one other booth that used compostable service, and the woman at that booth complained that San Francisco is the only place where people are bothered by the use of so much plastic.

Just met Reno Rossi, owner of Marin Cheese Co., who knows my wife. Guy has no personality whatsoever. (Hah!)

Fancy food show: we’re counting houndstooth sportcoats. 27 so far.

27 houndstooth sport coats. I think we’re done.

Fancy food show: Just passed Mario Batali. I’m not getting paid so I decided not to throw elbows to get through the throng for a pic. If you count seeing the back of his head and the side of his face, then sure, I saw Mario. I think I caught a glimpse of the clogs, too.

Bookmark and Share

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

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.