San Francisco

Back to San Francisco

ocean beach

In San Francisco this week, and back for a while, I think. I spent a chunk of November traveling: the Upper Valley in New Hampshire, Boston, and New York City. In the process, I accumulated a good amount of material, some of which will appear here.

It’s easy to get frustrated with San Francisco, particularly its tendency to be costly (in many respects). But the food is good, the air is clean, and the weather—today it was nearly 70 degrees, and we caught a nice sunset at Ocean Beach, a few minutes before five o’clock. Here, sometimes, there is a kind of quality of living that shouldn’t be overlooked.

beach, energy, environment, journalism, San Francisco, unfortunate

Bunker Fuel? What?

In my last post, I mentioned that the spill isn’t just oil, but bunker fuel. What’s bunker fuel?

It’s the stuff that runs big engines, like in an oil tanker or cargo ship. And it’s cheap, which is why these high volume users use it.

Last year, I interviewed Dave Culp, an engineer who designs ship sails (he started Kiteship), and we talked a little about bunker fuel. According to him, this is residual fuel–stuff that’s “left over after everything’s distilled out of crude. So sulfur, palladium, iron, even sand stays in the stuff that gets sold and burned in these ships. There’s 900 times as much sulfur in a gallon of residual fuel than in gasoline.”

“But ships don’t really have a choice because the industry is built around this cheap, plentiful fuel source,” he added.

It’s highly viscous. Imagine this thick, black, grainy shit. That’s what’s out there, in addition to the lighter gas or oil that’s slicking on the surface and covering the birds. Sfist is doing a good job of updating what’s happening on the beaches, where I’ve not made it yet. But I figure that’s what has washed up on shore, as seen in this photo from Sfist:

clump of oil

articles, beach, dissipation, energy, environment, journalism, language, really?

Newspapers Say the Darndest Things

Chronicle front page 8 november“Crunch!”? Really? 

A huge cargo ship bumps into the Bay Bridge and spills 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel–not just oil, but bunker fuel–and this is the Chronicle’s headline? Is it supposed to be a joke? 

When I looked at my copy this morning, I originally thought this was a feature recapping some little disaster that I hadn’t heard about. But, no. This is breaking news.

beach, blogs, photography


In Kreuzberg, Germany, you may run across the Fahrradkollectiv Admiralstraße—the Admiral Street Bicycle Collective. They seem to have run across me. “Wernerchen” liked a photo of mine enough to ask if he could put it in rotation as a title image on the Rad-Spannerei blog. I thought that was nice. He tells me: “I change the header of my blog periodically. The pics are shown in a random way – one out of ten. There are about 150 visitors per day, so your picture will be shown approximately 15 times per day.” Very precise, indeed. The blog is all in German, so it’s a good place to figure out just how bad your German has become since college.

beach, environment, photography

Stuck in the Office.

Today is an awfully nice day, with unusually warm temperatures. It’s probably a signal of the return of La Niña. Expect a drought in the already environmentally unsustainable Southwest this year. The Atlantic’s hurricane season may be better than ever. And San Francisco will probably continue with this mild winter (it was a record 73°F yesterday, the 9th of February). Like Punxsatawney Phil said: 6 more weeks of the warmest winter ever.

These people at Ocean Beach have the right idea. (Note: Since I’m told my blog has too much content, I will periodically post very short things like this.)