Monday, February 28, 2011

Do NOT Press This Button

I've lived in California since the 1980s, and I've never seen one of these before: an earthquake button.

I spotted this in the elevator at the SoMa Self-Storage facility. Now I'm assuming it doesn't actually CAUSE earthquakes. But you never know, so I didn't try pressing it.

Note: This is pretty much the plot of "A View to a Kill."

Elliot's Drum Solo

It's not how well you play, it's whether you do the count-in before you start.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Should Do What Now?

Back in my day, the expression "breaking the seal" meant taking a long-delayed pee.

So I was a little confused by the message on this U-Haul hand truck: "Don't break your back...break the seal!"

I didn't realize that was an either-or kind of thing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our San Francisco Pied-à-Terre Is No More

This week, we finally cleared out our storage facility in SoMa. I guess I never got around to making it my man cave.

When you live without certain possessions for six months, you realize that you don't really need them. Kelly and I both secretly wished the storage facility would burn to the ground or be burglarized. But we had no such luck.

So we stuffed our things in a truck and hauled them to Berkeley.

As I unpacked the boxes, I wondered why we had saved certain things in the first place. Witness this box with a Jason hockey mask (still in its original container), some corporate-finance textbooks and an "Idiot's Guide to Throwing Parties."

That's just sad.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Who Would Buy These?

Sure, maybe it was a bad idea for the Hacienda restaurant chain to compare themselves to a Guyanese death cult.

But in the annals of odd marketing choices, this isn't much better. Apparently the New Yorker is trying to save print journalism by selling really tacky watches.

Talk about misjudging your audience. I feel like these would go over great with a 7-year-old wandering the merch area of Six Flags, but it's hard to think of something less appealing to a typical New Yorker reader. [Maybe a Mitt Romney T-shirt? -ed.]

Can you imagine some tweedy fellow wearing one of these watches while leafing through Calvin Trillin's latest gastronomical treatise? I can't.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reverse Psychology in Action?

I came across this truck at 11th and Mission streets in San Francisco.

Apparently he's exacted his revenge against taggers by...tagging his own truck.

I guess maybe this is less about reverse psychology and more about a scortched-earth policy. Either way: Bravo, sir.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If You Don't Respect Flavor Aid, Where Does It End?

Since the Hacienda restaurant chain has shown a wanton disregard for brand names, maybe they could use this as their next billboard.

(I know how to use Print Shop.)

As always, my consulting services are offered free of charge.

This Is So Wrong

You may have seen that a Mexican restaurant chain in Indiana launched an ill-fated advertising campaign inspired by the Jonestown Massacre.

After a swift backlash, the chain agreed to take down the ads. Sadly, the outrage had nothing to do with the fact that the billboard should have said Flavor Aid, not Kool-Aid.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Really, America?

Well, this is surprising. I came across a survey that found only 14 percent of American men wear seat belts when they're riding in the back seat.

And that was in states where it's required by law (the rate drops to 9.6 percent when there are no such regulations).

The rate was a bit higher for women, but still...

That means you have about as much a chance wearing a rear safety belt as PREMASTICATING YOUR FOOD FOR INFANTS.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Where Are All the Premasticators?

Buried in a recent New Yorker story on allergies is this fact: "Some two-thirds of students at a university in China were given premasticated food as infants. Only about 14 percent of American infants receive solid foods in this way."

Only 14 it just me or is that actually a shockingly high number? I mean, we're talking about parents chewing up food and then spitting it into the mouth of their child.

I was in a cafe this weekend when a woman began breastfeeding, sans Hooter Hider. I was cool with it, of course, and no one would bat an eye at that in Berkeley. But it got me thinking: How come I never see anyone premasticating their baby's food? I mean, if it's happening 14 percent of the time, I should have at least seen it once.

Mostly I want to experience it so I can show how enlightened I am by NOT freaking out.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bubo Candy Shop in Spain

Speaking of sweets, BuboBlog foreign correspondent Jason spotted this candy shop in Barcelona.

He says there was no sign of any owls.

Iceland Omitted From 'Disgusting Candy' List

As loyal readers know, I've taken issue with Icelandic candy in the past and wondered aloud whether it contributed to the country's economic collapse.

Not from Iceland: Ear Wax Candy.

Well, bad as it is, there are apparently far worse confections in the world — at least according to this list of the most disgusting candy ever made. Nothing from Iceland is included.

Here are the rankings:
21. White Chocolate Maggots
20. Bubble Fudge
19. Jujubes
18. Big Hunk
17. Ear Wax Candy
16. Barratt Sherbet Fountain
15. Zit Poppers
14. Chunky
13. Dubbel Zout
12. Sour Apple Abba Zabba
11. Bacon Beans
10. Hematogen
9. Circus Peanuts
8. Ayds
7. Nacho Mints
6. Hippy Sippy
5. Túró Rudi
4. Harry Potter Cockroach Clusters
3. Passion Fruit Almond Joy
2. Fry's Five Centre
1. Haw Flakes

If I did the list, I probably would have left out anything that's trying deliberately to sound disgusting (White Chocolate Maggots, Ear Wax Candy, Zit Poppers, Cockroach Clusters). I also would have singled out the black Jujubes as particularly atrocious (sorry to sound Jujube-racist).

And Ayds — the diet candy famously pulled from the market during the AIDS epidemic — is a little too easy of a target.

Most of the candies on the list do sound pretty horrendous. As someone who hates black licorice AND sweet-and-savory candy, I was especially disturbed by the Netherlands' Dubbel Zout. The name translates to "Double Salt"...who would buy that?

Then there's "the living nightmare known as Túró Rudi. This Hungarian candy is exactly as gross as it sounds — a pressed log of cheese curds enrobed in milk chocolate."

Hungary makes us not hungry.

Russia's Hematogen, meanwhile, is "the only candy bar in the world that contains the secret ingredient of cow's blood."

I wonder if Turkish delight should have gotten at least an honorary mention. I spent most of my childhood thinking it must be the most delicious thing on Earth. Turns out, it's kind of gross. (Thanks a lot, Clive Lewis!)

The No. 1 grossest-candy was Haw Flakes: "Made from ground-up berries of the hawthorn plant (generally considered inedible) and packaged in a squat little cylinder, these quarter-sized discs are so inedible that some people use them to cheat parking meters instead."

Made in China.

I suppose it's no surprise that candy from China would top the list. Traditionally, the Chinese have never had a strong affection for sweets.

Consider that the most famous Chinese dessert (the fortune cookie) was invented in California.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bloggers Are Badassed...Maybe

The upcoming Steven Soderbergh film "Contagian," currently being shot in San Francisco, features Jude Law as a blogger.

Based on this photo of him wearing some kind of makeshift biohazard suit, I'm hoping we'll finally get to see bloggers portrayed accurately on-screen — as risk-taking tough guys (rather than, say, whiny food writers).

According to SFist, Jude Law plays "Alan Krumwiede, a blogger with an unfortunate interest in conspiracy theories."

Are you listening, Leap Frog? That's what blogging is all about.

(Bonus: Apparently they're filming some of the scenes on my old street, Langton.)

A Bay Area Life, Measured in Square Footage

I think I've had a fairly typical experience for a San Franciscan. I came to the city after college, lived with roommates for a few years and then moved in with my future wife. Eventually we had kids and moved to Berkeley.

What you notice in life is that the amount of personal living space doesn't get bigger as you grow older — it gets smaller.

These are my last six homes (and the amount of room I had for myself).

1. Cow Hollow apartment with roommate
Square footage per person: 400

2. Parkmerced apartment with roommate
Square footage per person: 500

3. South Beach Marina apartment with girlfriend
Square footage per person: 317

4. Avalon Mission Bay apartment with girlfriend
Square footage per person: 390

5. FolSoMa home with wife...
Square footage per person: 500

...and then a baby
Square footage per person: 333

6. Berkeley house with wife and two children
Square footage per person: 289.5

The bottom line: I was much better off with the roommates. (It also seems unlikely I will ever have room for a proper "man cave.")

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What Kind of Dealers?

I was walking around the old neighborhood this morning, when I came across this ad from Bank of America.

I'm not sure they want to promote "dealer" services in SoMa — unless their comprehensive solutions involve getting the black tar into heroin.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Creating a New Generation of Boring Bloggers

Elliot has a portable computer from Leap Frog called MyOwnLeaptop.

He enjoys playing with it, and it's hard to complain about a laptop that costs $25 (that's a 40th the price of a MacBook Air). But I wonder about the "blog" feature.

It gives you suggestions for blog topics, including "I spent all day at the beach" and "I spent all day playing in the garden."

BORING. What message does it send to children if that's portrayed as a valid topic to blog about?

At least it doesn't recommend writing about lunch.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bubo Declared One of the Gayest Robots of All Time

I came across this list of the gayest robots of all time on the site, via Gizmodo (thanks for pointing this out, BuboBlog Philadelphia correspondent Guy).

I was excited to see that Bubo (our site's unlicensed mascot) was chosen as one of the gayest robots. But if you click through the extensive slideshow, it appears that almost EVERY robot is one of the gayest. The list includes Kitt, HAL, Tom Servo and even Vicki from "Small Wonder." [And yet, no Data?? -ed.]

I don't know what to think anymore.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

What Do Toddlers Dream About?

Every morning Elliot wakes up in a cheerful mood. As I'm taking him out of his sleep sack and hanging up his Yaya (wet from a night's worth of drool), I'll often ask him what he dreamed about.

He always gives the same answer: "Boma and Baba came and took me for a walk." (Boma and Baba are what he calls his grandparents — as with "Yaya," the names are his own neologisms.)

Same dream every time. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Now, either Elliot doesn't really understand what I mean when I ask about his dreams, or they're shockingly repetitive.

Sometimes when I ask for a little more detail, he'll say that his other grandmother, "Grandmama," was also there — as well as me and his mom. It sounds like he's conjuring up his own perfect little day, with all his favorite people (his baby sister Alice is noticeably absent, though).

Is that what toddlers dream about — the best day they can imagine? I hope so...even if he's not exhibiting much of an imagination.

Monday, February 07, 2011

'Make Your Own Monster'

Here's a variation on the Build-a-Bear concept: Make Your Own Monster.

The beauty of the idea: No matter how terrible your kid is at it (three eyes on one side of the face, an arm where the ear should be), you can claim it was intentional.

If only everything were like that.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

'Can You Explain What Internet Is?'

By now you've probably seen this clip of the "Today" show in 1994, where Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel and Elizabeth Vargas try in vain to understand what the Internet is.

What caught my ear was how Couric sounds clueless by dropping the "the" from "the Internet."

It's the exact opposite of how we're accustomed to mocking old and/or technically challenged people. Usually we accuse them of always ADDING "the"; e.g. "the AIDS," "the Google."

I guess it works both ways.

UPDATE: This is probably more top-of-mind for me because I just saw "The Social Network," but dropping "the" is a plot point in the movie as well.

The way the film tells it, the biggest contribution of Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) is persuading Mark Zuckerberg to remove "the" from Facebook's original name. (Well, that, and telling him to move to California.)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

BuboBlog Reviews 'The Social Network'

(We went to see "The Social Network" this week — before I realized the movie is already out on DVD. D'oh. The screen we saw it on wasn't much bigger than a TV, but at least we got the experience of sitting near some old guy with a terrifying laugh.)

The problem with watching an Oscar front-runner so late is you can only really be satisfied with perfection. I had that issue with "The Hurt Locker," which didn't meet my expectations. In this case, the movie came very close to living up to the hype. It was nicely plotted, well-written and a delight to watch — with lots of great Aaron Sorkin zingers.

The film toggles back and forth between the founding of Facebook in a Harvard dorm room and the legal battles that occurred years later, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg was facing two lawsuits. The structure successfully maintains suspense, even without the courtroom theatrics that you'd typically see in a movie with so many lawyers.

Beware: The film isn't very accurate. One scene depicts a downpour in Palo Alto DURING THE SUMMER. No wonder Facebook called it a fictionalized account.

Watching anything penned by Sorkin is always a treat (I even enjoyed his short-lived show "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"). But a few exchanges do occasionally feel overwritten. A character will make a witty aside, and then someone will comment on that, and then someone will comment on that. It was all enjoyable, so I hesitate to criticize. Perhaps instead of being too clever by half, it was only too clever by a quarter.

I found it funny that the only people who don't speak in the rapid-fire dialogue are the lawyers. (Aren't they supposed to be fast talkers?) It also was odd that Sorkin plagiarized from himself. In one scene, Zuckerberg says he could buy Harvard's Phoenix Club and "turn it into my ping-pong room." In "Studio 60," a character tells his father he could buy his house four times over and "turn it into my ping-pong room." Did Sorkin figure no one actually watched that show so it was safe to pillage from it?

I'm giving "The Social Network" my highest rating, even if I don't think it deserves the best-picture Oscar. In my estimation, nothing last year matched the ambition or execution of Christopher Nolan's "Inception."

Of course, that film is a long shot for best picture. Critical consensus has turned against it in recent months (it was snubbed in a lot of top-10 lists), perhaps in part because of how commercially successful it was. Many people also found it to be baroque and vacuous. I get that, even if I totally disagree. It's worth noting that Nolan's "Memento," which I consider the best film of the past decade, wasn't even nominated in 2001.

With that said, we're lucky to have several films this year that are perfectly respectable choices. "The Social Network," "The King's Speech" and "Toy Story 3" were all exceptional movies — and those are just the ones I've seen.

BuboBlog Rating: 4 asterisks (out of 4).

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

BuboBlog's Claims Now Supported by Science!

Remember when I posited that San Francisco was a greener city than New York?

I was responding to a claim by New Yorker writer David Owen, who named New York as the most eco-friendly city in America. (He in turn was responding to a report calling Vermont the greenest state.)

His argument hinged on the fact that New York is so densely populated, letting people get by with less electricity (small apartments) and less gasoline (good public transit).

Well, San Francisco is second to New York in population density, and its transit isn't as reliable. But its residents use even less electricity, thanks in part to mild winters and mild summers. And it's more aggressive about recycling. That's why I suggested that San Francisco may be greener.

It turns out my hunch was right, at least based on a study of different cities' carbon emissions. Look who's No. 1.

Selected cities, ranked by carbon emissions per capita:
1. San Francisco: 10.1
2. New York: 10.5
3. Philadelphia: 11.1
4. San Diego: 11.4
5. Miami: 11.9
6. Chicago: 12.0
7. Portland, Ore.: 12.41
8. Los Angeles: 13.0
9. Boston: 13.3
10. Seattle: 13.68
11. Houston: 14.1
12. Juneau, Alaska: 14.37
13. Baltimore: 14.4
14. Dallas: 15.2
15. Austin, Texas: 15.57
16. Menlo Park: 16.37
17. Minneapolis: 18.34
18. Washington, D.C.: 19.70
19. Denver: 21.5

The main thrust of the report is that cities are greener than suburbs. So I guess I personally lost my eco bragging rights the moment we crossed the Bay and moved to Berkeley. It doesn't seem like anyone living in a detached single-family house can claim to be an environmentalist.

But I would hope to get some extra credit for our month of being homeless.