Sunday, May 30, 2010

Worst Transformer Ever?

Elliot loves this tractor, which transforms...

...into a book about tractors.

I'm pretty sure this transformer would have a tough time taking on Megatron or Starscream (though he could successfully teach them about silage balers and loaders).

Sadly, the book's educational value hasn't really paid off yet for Elliot.

He encountered a tractor yesterday and very earnestly attempted to ride it like so.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Tribute in Commericals

We lost three giants of the entertainment world this week: Art Linkletter, Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper.

All three of them had their ups and downs, and all three relied on commercials of varying schlockiness to pay the bills. Gentlemen, I bid you adieu.

Art Linkletter (1912-2010): Contour Chair

Gary Coleman (1968-2010):

Dennis Hopper (1936-2010): Ameriprise

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'I Understand'

Usually I enjoy spotting inappropriate quotation marks for fun. But with this sign, I can gain some real benefit.

I'm assuming, "No dirty diapers" actually means, "Please have your baby poop on our floor."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Welcome to 'FolSoMa'

I'm not afraid to embrace new neighborhood names. (You may remember when I controversially endorsed using the term "NoMa" to describe the area north of Market.)

So I was excited to learn that our own neighborhood has a new name: FolSoMa (it's a portmanteau of Folsom Street and SoMa).

A San Francisco website called Bold Italic is throwing a fete on Tuesday to celebrate the hood, which I guess they are responsible for naming:
Folsom Street between 7th and 8th caught our eye. From leather to lattes and bike repair to beer, it’s become a destination for neighbors and city folk alike. Raise a glass with The Bold Italic and meet the microhood!

I wasn't aware that "neighbors" and "city folk" were separate groups. Anyway, the event will include discounts and freebies from bars and restaurants, including the new Radius local-food spot and the relatively new Bloodhound bar.

I feel like Elliot's definitely going to have bragging rights at this thing, because how many other people were born and raised in FolSoMa? (I guess he was literally born in Laurel Heights, but let's not dwell on that.)

There's not yet a Wikipedia page for FolSoMa, and in fact, it may be difficult to create one. (According to Wikipedia's guide to notability, a subject has to have "significant coverage" from "reliable" "sources.")

I'm not sure we're quite there yet with FolSoMa. But maybe it's further along than the "I declare him an OUTLAW" meme.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Disturbing...and Wrong

I found this "foam mace" at Target.

If you're going to create children's versions of medieval weapons, at least label them properly. Wouldn't it be more accurate to call this a "morning star"?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Made With Sicilian Blood?

I don't know if this could have been fixed with commas or hyphenation, but this description manages to take something perfect innocuous and make it sound terrifying.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hitting the Oregon Trail

I already mentioned that we went to Portland earlier this month. We also took our first trip ever to the Oregon Coast, where we stayed in a town called Manzanita.

I expected the coastline to be even more rugged and rocky than Northern California's, so it was a surprise to find lots of great beaches. There were large expanses of sand, with plenty of room for kids to run around. In fact, on a sunny day, you might think you were in Southern California — except for the lack of lifeguard towers (no Bay Watch here).

Here's Elliot enjoying the scene with his toddler pal, Lila.

We took a day trip to Cannon Beach, which features a formation called Haystack Rock.

This part of Oregon is where Lewis and Clark reached the coast after navigating the Columbia River. In fact, the first English-speaking settlement west of the Rockies was located in nearby Astoria (the settlement was bankrolled by John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company).

It's interesting to note that coastal Oregon never became thickly settled. Compare this with California: Four of the five largest cities in the Golden State are coastal (Fresno being the inland exception). In Oregon, none of its top 10 cities is located on the coast. I imagine this is because of the importance of the Columbia River as a trade route and the agricultural value of the Willamette Valley.

Towns in Coastal Oregon are apparently very concerned about tsunamis. These signs were everywhere (something I've never seen in California).

They reminded me a little of the immigrant-crossing signs you see along Interstate 5 in San Diego. (If only because both artists seem to be overly excited about portraying life-threatening events.)

It takes less than two hours to get from Portland to Manzanita. But there's a downside: You have to see a lot of clearcut forests along the way.

I know that much of rural Oregon subsides on logging, but you would think they would at least want to keep a thin layer of trees next to the highways — if only as a PR effort.

I like that the scenic stops along the freeway promise to offer a "Viewpoint."

I was hoping there would be someone there to give his perspective on health-care reform or the Gaza Strip. Sadly, there wasn't.

Monday, May 17, 2010

'Nick' Name: On the Outs

Remember when I complained that the name "Nick" had become too popular and was no longer reserved for tough guys?

Well, the latest news should either provide hope to Nicks or just added insult: "Nicholas" was the fastest-declining name over the past decade.

According to the Baby Name Wizard site, these were the top (bottom?) declining boys' names in the '00s:
1. Nicholas
2. Zachary
3. Kyle
4. Jared
5. Brandon

Apparently Jared from Subway didn't manage to keep his name from dropping either.

For girls, the list was:
1. Hannah
2. Jessica
3. Megan
4. Amanda
5. Lauren

You'd think Megan Fox would have helped with that name, but maybe parents don't relish the idea of having their daughter turn out like that.

UPDATE: In a separate post, the Baby Name Wizard blog reiterates that "Jacob" was the most popular name of the decade. What's interesting is, it wasn't just the top boys' name — it was tops overall.

In fact, the three most popular names were all boys' names. I think this demonstrates that parents take less risks with boys' names, which means they're choosing from a smaller pool. As a result, even the most popular girls' names are more dispersed.

I also think I may have solved the mystery of where all the baby Jacobs are. Do they go by "Jake"? Because I've definitely encountered more of those.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bay to Breakers Terrorizes Young Child

Bay to Breakers (the world's largest footrace) rampaged through our neighborhood this morning, with tens of thousands of runners flooding Howard Street.

There was some debate this year as to whether crackdowns on drinking and general ribaldry would tone down the festivities. From what I could see, the race was as crazy as ever. Nearly everyone we encountered was both very costumed and very intoxicated. (It didn't help that it was overcast and frigid — it's pretty hard to go out in this weather wearing a toga or mermaid outfit without being totally drunk.)

Our street was an official (and unofficial) bathroom stop. The lines were so long for the Port-a-Potties that people just took care of their business on the pavement. There were rows of men peeing against the wall, and every car parked on the street seemed to have a drunk Marina girl squatting behind it.

When these girls saw Elliot, they suddenly became very alarmed that a child could see them. I guess it's good to be concerned about exposing a child to something that's not age-appropriate, but these people should probably be more concerned about embarrassing themselves in front of adults (Elliot's not going to remember anything he sees anyway).

This is Elliot's second year of watching the race go by. He seemed a little more apprehensive about what was going on — with reason, I guess. This photo summed up his experience pretty well.

Most of the costumes weren't too creative (lots of people with viking helmets and jellyfish umbrellas, along with the usual naked folks). I liked the group that dressed as Tiger Woods and his mistresses, as well as the team of Na'vi people (both those ideas will probably be stale by Halloween, so it was good to use them now).

There was the ever-present salmon group, which always swims against the rest of the runners. This time they were chased by a group of bears. I thought this might be a stock-market reference (bears betting against the market), but I think it was just about how real bears like to eat salmon.

This one was commentary on the oil spill. I assume the Skittles outfit is unrelated.

We also saw several chickens...

...and bunnies...

...I think this one is a play on "Mario Kart"...


...and a burrito blimp.

Oddly enough, a lot of people were most surprised to see Elliot. They would stop and point at him, like a kid had no place being at Bay to Breakers. Maybe they were just admiring his smart-looking fisherman's sweater.

Things got weird when a woman in a green body suit tried to entertain Elliot. She ran over to him, crouched down and said hello. Unfortunately, Elliot had no idea this was even a person (the green suit covered everything but the eyes), and he was absolutely TERRIFIED.

The woman had the good sense to run away, and Elliot eventually recovered. But we figured that would be our cue to leave.

When we got back to our place, we found this out front.

To be fair, empty beer containers are discarded on our street every weekend. But our regulars would never be so uncouth as to drink light beer.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The New 'Release the Kraken'?

Following the "Release the Kraken" mashup craze, the latest Internet meme involves the "I declare him an OUTLAW!!!" line from the "Robin Hood" trailer.

Here's the "Robin Hood" trailer, if you want to see the line in its original splendor. (It appears around the 30-second mark.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BuboBlog Visits Portland, Oregon

Last week we went to Portland, a city I find more charming every time I visit.

When I was in my 20s, I had the impression that Portland was a backwater — a city where Bay Area expats went after they'd lost their spark and just wanted a cheap place to spawn and await death's sweet embrace.

All that may still be the case, but I now realize there are far worse places to spawn and await death's sweet embrace than Portland. It has great neighborhoods, parks, lots of used bookstores and an ever-expanding public transit system, and it's the third-coolest summer city in the U.S. (Now that I've spent most of my life away from the East Coast, heat and humidity are not things I wish to reacquaint myself with.)

Plus, windmills on buildings! This was the scene from outside our hotel.

Also, Portland has naughty doughnuts. We made a trip to Voodoo Doughnut in the Old Town area, where I snapped a shot of this phallic eclair.

We picked up a box of doughnuts, including flavors called Grape Ape and Old Dirty Bastard (the one with the Oreos and peanut butter). Delicious!

Appropriately enough, Voodoo is located across the street from the giant "Keep Portland Weird" sign. (However, I think messages about keeping various cities "weird" are so common now that they actually spotlight how unweird the sentiment is.)

Would I move to Portland? I'm probably too loyal to the Bay Area. And it's not really practical for work anyway, which brings me to Portland's main failing. It's only useful if you can telecommute to a company located somewhere else or work as a freelancer. There just aren't that many local jobs. Most of the people we know who have moved to Portland from the Bay Area have this kind of arrangement, and it seems to work pretty well for them — especially since they're earning San Francisco salaries and paying Oregon housing prices. (Tellingly, the largest employer in Oregon is Intel, a company based in Santa Clara.)

Apparently you can even use your out-of-town fortune to buy up state-owned buildings now. I saw this near downtown.

I'm just not sure I'm the kind of person who could telecommute. I like human interaction, and plus I would probably spend the entire day doing KenKens and eating Pirate's Booty.

I've also complained before about Portland's lack of urban grittiness. This time around we stayed in the Pearl District, the closest thing Portland has to SoMa. There was an SRO across the street from our hotel, which helped us feel at home. (And from our encounters with some of the residents, we discovered that Portland isn't a complete stranger to the crazy.)

But it definitely lacks the diversity of the Bay Area. For instance, it has the least-black Martin Luther King Boulevard of any city I've been to.

And certainly it has the least-Latino boulevard named Cesar Chavez. (In contrast with our Cesar Chavez, theirs rocks the middle initial E. Apparently they wanted to put him in the same category as W.E. Coyote and C.E. Cheese.)

Unlike San Francisco and the East Bay, Portland doesn't appear to have anything named after Malcolm X.

I'm sure they're working on it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just Try and Blur This Out

A couple months ago I noted that when an in-flight movie shows a plane from a different airline, they blur out the logo.

Apparently the Mexican airline Volaris (which flies into Oakland) is taking this one step further: Their own logo already looks like it was blurred out.

Well, more like it looks like it was obscured with pixelization, but still...

It kind of hurts my eyes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Master of Disaster

How do you turn a one-hour flight from Portland to Oakland into a total calamity? Why, just bring a 20-month-old toddler.

As we were waiting to board a Southwest flight back from Oregon, Elliot managed to do all these things in the space of five minutes:
1.) Run through the seating area of the airport Wendy's and pull down a stool onto his head. He shrieked for two minutes, recovering just in time to do something worse.
2.) Dump a 32-ounce lemonade (with a generous amount of ice) all over him and Kelly. This time, the screams were heard throughout the concourse.
3.) In an effort to "help" clean up, he pulled things out of our bag and threw them into the trash.

Adding to the stress of traveling with Elliot is all the extra luggage he requires — way more than you would think a tiny human would need. As you can see, our short trip to Oregon required as much luggage as Victorians would take on the passage to India.

When we finally boarded the flight, we got stuck on the tarmac because Southwest found a nail in one of the tires (I'm not exactly sure how Elliot could have been responsible for this, but he's my prime suspect). The longer we waited, the further past Elliot's bedtime it was, meaning he only became more manic and rambunctious. It was all we could do to prevent him from crawling over the seatbacks of the people in front of us.

Finally, they fixed the problem and we took off. As soon as they turned off the seatbelt sign, I had to go change Elliot's diaper. But the bathroom didn't have a changing table. If you've ever tried to change a wriggly toddler in an airplane bathroom without a changing table — well, maybe there's a way to do it elegantly, but I can't imagine how. My way involved Elliot banging his head on the wall behind the toilet, followed by him grabbing the soap dispenser and flinging it across the compartment. By the time we staggered out of the bathroom, he had a new diaper, but no pants, shoes or socks. And I accidentally left the dirty diaper in the bathroom for the next person to find (they weren't very excited about that).

The capper to the trip came when we got to Oakland. We had left our car in a remote parking lot in San Leandro. When we got there, we found the battery was dead. I called AAA, but they took a while to come find us. In the meantime, we huddled in the car and tried to get Elliot to go "night-night." We felt like one of those families you see in stories on the "New Face of Homelessness." Of course, Elliot was delighted by the whole adventure and in no mood to sleep.

We finally got a jumpstart and were on our way, but still a little mystified about how the battery died in the first place.

Until we realized that the dome light above Elliot's carseat was left on — the light he loves to flick off and on.

Bravo, Elliot. Bravo.