What's New? 1998-06-17

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What's New? 1998-06-17

 Tue 23 June 1998

About ten minutes ago San Francisco's own [Macro error: There is no glossary entry named "SRL"] drove a flatbed truck to the west end of South Park, at corner of 3rd and Brannan, across the street from Organic Online. (South Park is ground zero for our Multimedia Gulch area of town.) Loaded on the flatbed was a rocket engine. At the business end of the rocket was a paper maché sculpture over a wire frame.

The onlookers included random passers-by and the clued-in crowd, many of whom carried cameras and ear protectors. Two messengers of mayhem leapt from the flatbed and covered two nearby cars with a blue tarp, all the while looking remarkably nonplussed, as though jumping from a truck and covering cars was just the course of business for most citizens. The crowd grinned ear to ear, waves of giddy anticipation animating the geeks and geek-wannabes.

Some attendees of the Web98 conference - down the street at the Moscone Convention Center - were controlling the show via their web browsers and a Java applet written especially for the occasion. At high noon the rocket engine coughed to life, belching grey-blue smoke into South Park. Then it roared, and a yellow flame blasted towards the sculpture, toasting it. The metal glowed red hot, the engine switched off, and an eerie calm descended. Then sound returned as cars in the middle of the street, all of which had stopped, jerked to life and moved slowly on, wondering what they'd seen.

A fire extinguisher was used to kill the flames on the bits of paper maché that had fallen onto the flatbed and been blown into the street. The tarps were carefully lifted from the cars, their owners never to know how close those shiny cars had come to a blistering makeover. Safety checks done, the flatbed lurched away from the curb and into the flow of traffic. The crowd stayed, as friends found each other and talked over the goings on. Then everyone drifted away.

12:10. All evidence of a happening gone to the naked eye, save a few folks still talking it over.

Then law enforcement appeared on the scene, in the form of two San Francisco Police Department officers in short pants on bicycles. A minute later the wails of a siren pierecd the air, and a fire engine rolled around the corner. Firefighters climbed off, clothed in turnout coats and helmets, looking confusedly around for some fire to fight. The officers weren't much help, despite having some time at the scene. A few onlookers calmly explained what had happened, and the senior firefighter seemed to decide that their presence elsewhere (or is that "anywhere else"?) would be more helpful to the community at large. They drove off, lurching in much the same way as the flatbed truck. Diesel is as diesel does, I guess.

The remaining audience melted into the lunchtime rush hour, small groups going their separate ways, participating in the daily food foraging ritual of. Soon life will return to normal, with meetings to attend and people to meet, deadlines to hit.

But the moment belongs to the Survival Research Laboratories; the status quo has been shaken a very little bit.


Deliberately False Statements (little tracts handed out at SRL performances):

  • Self-interest is your only interest, act accordingly.
  • The weakness in others is your only power.
  • Demand unearned rewards.
  • Cover your vice with deceitful labels.
  • Satisfy anyone's demand for money, sex, information, favors, approval or anything else.
  • Call the truth an insult to avoid accepting it as fact.
  • Trick others into accepting your sick schemes as an exciting source for personal success and acceptance.
  • Radiate influences of despair and defeat wherever you go.
  • Thrill when your hateful remarks make someone's face fall into fearful pain.
  • Do anything wrong to gain public approval.
  • Deceive and attack others for your own gain, regardless of the pain or loss inflicted upon them
  • Appeal to human greed and gullibility for your own sick purposes.


From the box copy of the SRL video "The Will to Provoke": "Survival Research Laboratories was founded in 1979 by Mark Pauline and has operated as an organization of creative technicians dedicated to exploring the potential for redirecting the techniques, tools, and tenets of industry and science away from their typical manifestations in practicality or product.

Since 1979 SRL has staged 31 mechanical presentations throughout the United States before this first foray overseas. Each performance consists of a unique set of ritualized interactions between machines, robots and special effect devices with humans present only as operators or audience.

This is a documentary concerning Survival Research Laboratories' 1988 European tour. SRL ferrets out and gleefully satirizes assorted icons of cultural pride in two of Europe's more allegedly libertarian social democracies, Holland and Denmark."


SRL has been a part of my experience at the last two Burning Man festivals. Hearing in my mind's ear the scary grinding sound made by their flame-thrower mounted on penny-farthing wheels still gives me shivers. I was walking ahead of it, in my capacity as a Black Rock Ranger, sheparding people from the flames that were curling the hairs on my neck.

 Sun 21 June 1998

julius castle

Summer solstice: my maternal grandmother's birthday, and the six month anniversary of my wedding day.

We celebrated by walking all over San Francisco, from the Castro through the Haight-Ashbury, Hayes Valley, Japantown, Chinatown, North Beach, over Coit Tower, and for a dinner at Julius' Castle.

The view was nice, and the feral parrots flying around the Greenwich/Filbert steps was grand, but despite the added cost the food was no better than Ma Tante Sumi or Luna Piena. So it goes.

 Wed 17 June 1998

One of the accounts for which I'm writing code is Levi Strauss & Company, based here in San Francisco. (I wrote the secure voting mechanism for the Lillith Fair '98 band selection. That's Liz Phair, pictured.) Their web site sports an "official disclaimer", one of my favorite pieces of fine print:

liz phair levi strauss red tab Levi Strauss & Co. does not condone, tolerate or endorse the exploitation of violence in any form, and we're certainly not suggesting that our models are going to don Everlast boxing gloves and start picking fights with featherweight runway waifs because frankly, our models are too busy holding down real jobs to hang out 'til 4 A.M. with their models at uppity TriBeCa gotta- be- or- know- or- have- done- someone- famous- to- get- an- invite parties where we imagine they clutch smart cocktails as they dish about their latest European magazine cover, that frankly our models haven't even seen, while silently calculating the calories in the organically-grown radish that they desperately wish was a jelly doughnut (like our models are allowed to eat) so they could seductively lick the raspberry goo from their collagen-injected lips, which we have a feeling are about as real as the fake ID that the ex-con janitor made for them way back in junior high (last year) before they were discovered near Hot Dog on a Stick at the mall by an astute (but apparently not enough to ever hire one of our models) representative of the we- can't- say- their- name- here- or- they- might- sue- our- pants- off modeling agency who waived a magic wand and deemed them the flavor-of-the-month superstar that's unfortunately now fading rapidly unlike like those handsome cuffed hard denim Levi's® jeans that tough guys like Gary Cooper and femme fatales like Marilyn have been wearing since before God, who might have had something to do with it because while some designers actually have to pay models to wear their famous jeans, everyone who's anyone seems content sporting the Levi's® label without getting paid millions of dollars . . . not that there's anything wrong with that.

Of course, immediately thereafter someone points me to Sony's PlayStation Legal Page.


Resurrected: pages about Emergency Medicine, including the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit and the Haight-Ashbury Emergency Response Team.


I was looking through archived web pages of mine and I came across the old navigation bar. I remember when this was the cat's meow:

 Tue 16 June 1998

Each day at noon, on my way to my Aikido class, I walk downstairs past the offices of Wired Magazine. They painted their outside wall, the one that visitors first see, a hot pink (which, for some reason I don't understand, comes out as a red in the photo). Off to the left is the fabled South Park (where the titans of Multimedia Gulch meet at lunchtime). Folks have asked, but the epynomious television show has nothing to do with the park. It's named after a real town in Colorado.

WiReD entrance


drivers license photo muni fast pas

I'm not quite sure how to frame the never-ending quest of getting to where I'm not. Commuting. If at home, I run to work. Or vice versa. For seven years I drove up and down the peninsula, putting over a hundred thousand miles on my poor beater car. I hated frittering away precious hours of my life in a car. Telecommuting was a twice-a-week staple at GO Corporation, and it weaned me from needing to be on location. Luckily for me, the last few years of contracting have exclusively been in San Francisco. I've traded in my driver's license (from which I took my portrait, at left) for a San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) fast pass, my $35 ticket to the city.

Sometime in 1996 or 1997 I took a trip into California's wine country, into Napa and Sonoma Counties. I visited several vinyards, among them the sprawling complex belonging to Robert Mondavi. I took several photos, including a panorama of the main courtyard.

 Mon 15 June 1998

Mervin Horst informs me that a Michael Sattler was an important Anabaptist of the 16th Century, the chief writer of the Schleitheim Confession of Faith, and maytred in 1527.


David Shayer said "As a someone who comes down somewhere between lefty and libertarian, I wouldn't mind seeing the racist nazi fundamentalist wacko right-wing gun nuts get harrassed by the feds for a few years. But I'm don't want to see the pinko ACLU union anti-war activists get harassed."


In digging through my archives (I will someday be done with everything that I've collected for posting) I came across an old email .signature file. I'm no longer with BAMRU, and I'm less a Mac bigot than a fan of computers that let me concentrate on working, rather than getting them to work, but it's still captures my lifestyle in a nutshell.

Search and Rescue - Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit * Radio Ham - KE6DZF
Emergency Medical Technician * SF Neighborhood Emergency Response Team
Bay to Breakers Red Cross EMT/Comm * PADI Divemaster * Macintosh bigot
mostly vegetarian * polyglot * Sign Language dilettante * owned by cat

examined by US customs
crown Since the late 1980s I've been the Minister of Science and Technology of Konungarikena Elgaland/Vargaland (The Kingdoms of Elgaland/Vargaland). "KREV" is one of several experiments in autonomy, of non-traditional governments, often without posession of any land. (Actually, if memory serves, the "colonizers" of a British-owned oilwell declared a new homeland and defended it in the courts.)

KREV I met one of the co-founders, C M von Hausswolff, while he was in residence at the Marin Headlands Art Center, preparing for an exhibit.

 Sat 13 June 1998

city of lost children

Yesterday by the rabbi of Congregation Zohar Sha'av (Golden Gate) in San Francisco told a story I want to repeat. A time-management expert is speaking to an audience of movers and shakers. After placing several large rocks into a large glass jar the audience is asked whether the jar is full. "Yes", they reply. The expert then pours gravel into the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks. The audience gets the idea, and answers "no" each time this cycle is repeated. After the gravel comes pebbles, and thereafter sand. Asked what is the exercise's point one person answers "no matter how full your schedule is, you can always add in a few more things". "No", the expert replies, "you'll never fit in the big rocks if you don't put them in first".

All this talk of getting priorities right got me thinking about the lead characters in one of my favorite movies, "City of Lost Children". Both One (Ron Perlman) and Miette seem to have a handle on what's important. (My recommendation: the original French with English subtitles is a much better experience than the dubbed English, in my humble opinion.)

Heck, while I'm prattling on about my favorite flicks I want to mention the recent "Romeo and Juliet" with Leonard DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Never have I felt a closer connection with the intention of William Shakespaere. It would never have occured to me to place the Montagues and the Capulets in South Central Los Angeles, but it works.

 Thu 11 June 1998

1996 San Francisco Bay to Breakers - a series of four web pages that describes my role as a volunteer member of a Mobile Assistance Team (MAT) during the annual footrace - somehow never made it into the website. Mea culpa. For much of the time I've been in San Francisco I've done duty on race day for the American Red Cross, either as a ham radio operator or an emergency medical technician, always for a mobile team, usually at the finish line.

 Mon 8 June 1998

suppenkuche family

This has been a weekend of feasting! While strolling about we discovered that the restaurant named 2223 (in the Castro) has a great brunch: the eggs benedict and the sausage 'n biscuits with gravy were delicious. Mmmmmmm. Bitter coffee, though. The weather was cool and damp, all the more reason to wander the sidewalks and parks of our fair city.

boars head

At weekend's end we returned to Suppenkuche (German: "soup kitchen") in the Hayes Valley neighborhood. This place is worth visiting simply for the excellent selection of beers. The Franzinker Hefewiesen (wheat beer) is my favorite. I drink a small (0.4 liters), not the boot (2 liters)! Across the street, at Momy Toby's Revolution Café, our friend Vernon Bush appears, singing and accompanying himself on piano. His trio performs around the Bay Area. He's worth checking out.

 Fri 29 May 1998

The Japanese martial art Aikido has been a part of my life since I moved to San Francisco thirteen years ago. When I'm here I train, when I travel (and for a time thereafter) I let my practice go for a while. These days I'm visiting the former Skidrow Dojo each day at lunch, and somehow with that regular practice came the motivation to create more web pages.

 Sun 17 May 1998


Another year, another Bay to Breakers. Up at 0400 to make it to the Red Cross by 0500, stationed on the race course by 0630. There's no more pretty a place to be than on the edge of the Pacific Ocean with 80,000 runners in costume (or completely out of costume) heading in your direction. Very little was requested of our Mobile Assistance Team (MAT). No heroic measures or extraordinary efforts (as the medical insurers say) for the cardiac arrests that have been our fare in years past.

On the way back from Footstock in the Golden Gate Park polo field we spotted a blackbird driving a much larger bird of prey out of its territory by buzzing around the big bird and picking at the hawk's tail feathers. Fiesty little birds.

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