Internet Rabbit Hole: Street Names in San Francisco

While my father and I were discussing Spanish language place names (like the City of Manteca (which translates as LARD), or the town of Salida (which means exit, and various synonyms of that)), we started talking about street names in San Francisco that are ordinary Spanish words (Embarcadero (pier), Potrero (pasture), etc.). My father asked who Guerrero street was named after in the Mission.

That brought me to this work of awesomeness by Noah Veltman. It’s a map (and/or a list) of the streets of San Francisco, with brief biological remarks, and links to sites like Wikipedia.

The interface is great! For someone like Guerrero, the street is highlighted in red, and the biographical box is concise:

Excellent presentation of the data by Veltman (sample/detail)

The article on Guerrero at Wikipedia suggests that he was murdered (YIKES!) by (greedy) Americans trying to invalidate land grants of the Californios (people of California who resided in the area already/previously, while it was controlled by Spain and/or Mexico). (My brain is still saddened by and stuck on the idea of murder by slingshot – I believe it, I just have rarely seen effective slingshots, which somehow makes the idea even worse…)

This site is clearly a labor of love, and I’m happy to have encountered it.

Book: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman
by Sayaka Murata
translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
published in English by Grove Press (Grove Atlantic)
2016 (Japanese) / 2018 (English)

This is a compact, engrossing novel about a woman who has never quite fit into the rigid expectations of her family or society.

While convinced she is quite logical, Keiko sees that her behavior creates distress, especially for her beloved younger sister. Keiko learns to adjust her public self by mimicking those around her – their mannerisms, accents, clothing choices, figures of speech… And everyone seems satisfied and a bit flattered by how well she fits in – up to a point. Her continued work in a Japanese convenience store and single status remain unacceptable, though both suit her.

Ultimately, to appease her sister and others, she announces the end of her single status. The absurdity of misplaced satisfaction of those around her comes into the starkest possible relief.

The reviews I’ve read of this book discuss how “quirky” and “eccentric” the lead character is, but I suspect more. Those of us with friends ‘on the spectrum’ may read more into her viewpoints, and see Keiko as advocating for the liberation of neurodivergent people on their own terms.

It’s a great, short novel, and I love the frequency in which variations of ‘unnerving’ or ‘unsettling’ come up in the reviews!

Color: Celadon (green)

I am always looking for these shades of green, and always looking for excuses to buy more paints to mix them, since they don’t seem to exist as high-permanence prepared paints…

Music: Space Vacation Video

While we (okay, some of us) were frittering away our time during the pandemic, my friend and former colleague, Scott, and his band were working on their new album (coming soon, I’m sure). Space Vacation ( also made a fun (pandemic, multi-view, multi-time-period) video for this Iron Maiden cover:

(It’s harder to get meaningful internet results using the search phrase “Space Vacation” now – I blame the various billionaires and their hobbies!)

Bookstore: Silver Sprocket

I’ve already posted about my favorite indie bookshops here in San Francisco (haven’t I?), but I now must add Silver Sprocket to my list. They run a great comic book shop (and are a publisher, a pro-bike organization, and a bunch of other things).

Book: FTL, Y’all! Tales from the Age of the $200 Warp Drive, edited by C. Spike Trotman and Amanda LaFrenais

FTL, Y’all! Tales from the Age of the $200 Warp Drive
edited by C. Spike Trotman and Amanda LaFrenais
published by Iron Circus Comics

I love sci-fi, and so this anthology of what people would do if faster-than-light travel was possible, cheap, and open to anyone who could assemble some off-the-shelf parts was irresistible.

I think I actually said, “OH NO” out loud in the shop, because my first thought was, yes, some people would make their parents’ old Camaro into a FTL travel device, and go into space with NO PREPARATION AT ALL. I would like to thank the editors for assuring me that I’m not the only one who would fear this…

This anthology has it all: people who are competent with interstellar travel! People who are not! People who prepare! Cool ships! Quiet disasters! People on the run from the authorities! Other forms of life! The absence of other forms of life! Social media! Pop culture references to famous sci-fi movies! A wide range of illustration styles in a wide range of stories… I really enjoyed this hefty, speculative collection of adventures from a collection of talented artists.

Book: What If We Were… by Axelle Lenoir

Beyond adorable

What If We Were…
by Axelle Lenoir
published by Penguin Random House

This is an extremely adorable graphic novel about two best friends, whose hobbies include coming up with wild, hypothetical adventures as scientists (inventing spaceships, exploring the universe, forgetting earth?), parents, mythical beings, more adult versions of themselves, giant robots…

The way the dear friends riff on each other’s ideas is like the best possible versions of improv, but for their own enjoyment rather than an audience’s. Meanwhile, they go to school and navigate being teens with all that entails, supporting and encouraging each other in the ways that best friends can.

I was almost able to resist buying this graphic novel (due to its younger target audience), but the characters each have journal entries in the volume, and they are hilarious – I starting giggling while skimming through them – and suddenly, I was at the cashier with an armful of books!

Axelle Lenoir does a lovely, charming, fun job of showing off a fun friendship, and making the characters’ bond feel healthy, happy, and real. I recommend it – if you need an excuse, buy it for a young person in your life, but make sure you get a chance to enjoy it first!

Pandemic Life: New Year

Lavender latte made with almond milk, enjoyed outdoors in January because: California

The sky is blue, the sun is low, and my home state is not on fire: it is a lovely day.

I’ve run my errands for the day, filled with the confidence that a well-fitting KF94 mask provides. The KF94s from Korea are new for me: I had been wearing lighter and lighter fabric masks (with/out layering as situations required) as the pandemic dragged on and our local risks sunk ever lower (high vaccination rates, low case numbers). The new omicron variant is more contagious, however, so we’ve been advised to step up our protection standards. KF95 is one of the recommended standards, and the masks I am wearing are quite comfortable, and hold their shape well around my face. I appreciate their stiffness in the right place, so the material doesn’t rest on my nostrils or mouth, even while wet.

Since I last wrote about the COVID 19 pandemic, the remarkable achievements of vaccine development and (uneven) global rollout have been overshadowed by more contagious variants, continued political opposition to infection prevention, and more contagious variants.

The U.S. has maintained its place as the country with the highest number of cases and deaths. I feel lucky to live in a city with great mutual respect and care, where most people are vaccinated, and most people wear masks indoors willingly. If more of the US was like this, I would have gotten on planes and traveled for fun, at least before omicron…

JHU data as of right now, Monday, January 10, 2022

A friend in another region asked me how I’m managing, and I told her that the situation continues to improve: thanks to masking and air filtration, I get out of the house regularly, ride trains and streetcars, eat in (non-crowded) restaurants where vaccine confirmation is required (YES!), have visited several museums, and have even seen a few movies in movie theaters. A comfy mask makes many fun activities possible!

Four people in my long-distance social circle currently have COVID, and at least four relatives on the East Coast contracted COVID in December. Determination to celebrate the holidays with larger numbers of people with unknown habits comes at a cost! One friend wanted to host as safely as possible, and required negative tests to attend her 12+ person event: two of the negative-testing-guests turned positive on NYE morning, and had exposed other guests unknowingly, so even those precautions weren’t enough. Another friend had just three people over (such a reasonable number!) on NYE, and she still wound up with COVID, along with all of her guests.

This is a great time NOT to see your friends! 😀 (All my pals who postponed our planned meetings over the past two months have won my automatic forgiveness.)

Sign up for a phone exposure notification system! While on my first pandemic-era, out of state trip last month, I received a notification from MassNotify (the Massachusetts version of CA Notify, which my phone asked for my consent to participate in) that I was near someone on December 20th for the threshold exposure time who subsequently tested positive for COVID. While I had no symptoms and had already home tested (negative) as a precaution, I still appreciate the alert AND the instructions on what to do. This is a clever tool, and we should all use it!

I usually post a link to some data, so I’ll share the Year In Review from Johns Hopkins:

Right now: despite the new variant of the moment, I’m optimistic. We should have high quality masks distributed to us by health authorities, and access to home tests should be easy and cheap – we need progress in those areas! The fact that masks work, that vaccination numbers continue to rise, that good cleaning practices are in place at businesses, and that new businesses are opening up now are all encouraging. We need that encouragement! (I know I really needed it.)

Life: 2021 Personal Year In Review

It’s been… a year. Since time had no meaning (due to the sameness of being at home every day during so much of this pandemic), it is hard to believe it ended, rather than continuing on in a Groundhog-Day-like fashion.

I’m TIRED. But alive, which is a victory unto itself!

Here are some of 2021 highlights from my iPhone photo blog,

January 2021: Monotype printing

I made great progress with my acrylic monotype printing practice this year, producing hundreds of prints, and expanding from my favorite opaque colors into transparent paints.

February 2021: Leaving the house to explore SF

There are entire new parks that didn’t exist before the pandemic!

March 2021: Botany

I like plants!

April 2021: Botany and Murals

There are murals I’d never seen before out there, and they’re great.

May 2021: Architecture, Monotypes, and Playing with Instax Cameras

Instax cameras are fun! Yes, I have THREE Instax-compatible cameras, one for each size of film, PLUS A PRINTER that uses the mini size. Judge me, while I have fun with my tiny little prints.

June 2021: SF Exploration, continued (and medium format photos)

I will not admit how many photos I have of this building. On multiple cameras.

July 2021: Mostly Murals

This month starts to look like me: all my interests are reflected, and I was taking more photos because I sprained my right arm and couldn’t write or draw.

August 2021: Museums, Duochrome, and Sunshine

Have I made the book I planned to make of these? No. Did I produce another photo book mock up which I’m not sharing? Yes.

September 2021: I LOVE SF (architecture, sailboats, contemporary art, and phone photo filters)

The photo I wanted to show is cropped too hilariously to post here.

October 2021: Art experience in the park

It was the most fun I’ve had being enveloped in smoke in forever.

November 2021: Sunsets, Plants, and Murals

By this point, you realize how conventional my phone photos are, and how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE San Francisco.

December 2021: Holiday lights, holiday projections, Boston, and textile arts

I really do love this town. 🙂 And I’m completely predictable in the photographic ways I express that love, and THAT IS OKAY.