Thursday, September 1, 2016

Unofficial Sunnyside Bicycle (and Pedestrian) Plan (a work in progress)

I've been biking, walking, driving my car and riding Muni around the Sunnyside neighborhood for about four years now. I've noticed some limitations -- some of which could be easily fixed with some paint. Others are a little more complicated. But before I get bogged down in implementation, here's what they are:

Monterey Boulevard needs "sharrows". In the bike network, Hearst is supposed to be the bike route here, but Hearst is significantly hillier. No sane bicyclist would ride Hearst instead of Monterey unless they're going short distances. The cars are pretty clueless, many just having come off the freeway and still driving in their own bubble. I have to remind myself that safety requires I take the lane. Sharrows would provide a gentle reminder to both bicyclists and automobiles that bikes are allowed full use of the lane and that safety requires they take it here.

Intersection Stop modifications
Some bicyclist may still use Hearst for shorter distance trips. The intersections at Hearst and Congo, and Hearst and Baden are two way stops so that folks using the bikeway have to stop. These connecting roads (Congo and Baden) are steep and sometimes hard to see fast-driving through traffic. Both of these intersections should be either 4-way stops or 2-way stops where the bikeway does not stop.

Contraflow Lanes
The neighborhood has a couple one-way streets that prevent bicyclists from using the least hilly route or accessing critical infrastructure. Edna between Monterey and Hearst allows folks going towards City College to avoid the hill towards Monterey and Foerster, but it's one-way the wrong way. It needs a contraflow bike lane. Similarly, Edna between Judson and Havelock (2 blocks crossing Marston) is direct access to the pedestrian (and bicycle) overpass over 280 to Balboa Park and the BART station, but it's also one-way and needs a contraflow lane for bicycle access.

Intersection Redesign
I noticed that the intersection of Judson and Edna was tricky before a woman was hit and killed there a few years ago. It's a 4-way stop with ladder-painted crosswalks, but somehow the hills still make it hard for folks to see each other. People want to blame that fatality on distracted driving, but I believe you can design you way to safety. I recommend a raised, textured intersection. But the specific design treatment could depend on what is decided regarding the next paragraph.

Judson between Edna and Foerster, after City College, is ridiculously wide. This is a stupid waste of space. Let's put a park on some of this roadway!

There's a beautiful piece of open space on City College property south of Judson at Foerster. I love walking through it towards BART. But City College should allow access through it's campus here rather than the fence they currently have erected which prevents pedestrians from accessing the roadway around the soccer field this way.

That's it for now. This list is a work in progress.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Family Representation

I recently submitted the following letter for consideration to some decision makers:

“What does a San Franciscan get for his fifth birthday?

“A new home in the suburbs.”

You’ve heard the joke. Everyone has. It could be depressing. I feel a little depressed thinking about it as my child just started kindergarten and many of her friends’ families prepare for The Move. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I don’t think it has to be like this. San Francisco has world class public transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, many excellent schools, museums and cultural institutions on par with the world’s best. Shouldn’t it be easier for families with children to stay?

The Move happens for lots of reasons. The costs of housing and childcare are often mentioned, but another huge one is that the transportation system (and the associated democratic process for planning it) could do a better job of meeting the needs of children, people traveling with children, and pregnant women.

San Francisco can be a family-friendly city, and you have the power to make it so. Last year, a group of us gave a talk at SPUR “Can Families Get Around in San Francisco?” (Tuesday, May 26, 2015). After which, the Transit Riders Union had the foresight to create the Families Working Group. But we’re not sure it’s the right mechanism to have the most opportunity to improve the City’s transportation system for children. So, I’m writing to you now to ask you to help us. How do you think families with children can have a stronger voice in the democratic process? Here are a few ideas we came up with:
  • All public meetings should take place between 5 and 7 pm, with a defined end time, and provide childcare on site (like PTA meetings currently do).
  • Survey responses and thoughtful letters should have a larger impact on public decision making. (Sidenote: I can’t tell you have many times I have written a long thoughtful letter only to receive a response that I should attend a meeting which I cannot attend because I have a young child.)
  •  All CACs should include member representatives who are parents with children of a variety of ages.
  • SFMTA (and BART) could create a Families CAC along the lines of the Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC). We have a draft proposal for this available upon request.
  • The Department of Children, Youth and Their Families could create a Task Force with the SFMTA.
What ideas do you have? We look forward to discussing the possibilities with you. Thank you for your thoughtful attention to this critically important issue.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed by Lauren Child

This is another super creative one, and it has great collage artwork. My daughter loves it. Our bedtime rituals don't involve quite as many wild animals as this book, but otherwise the resemblance is remarkable.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck

A little girl wants a giraffe for her birthday. Her family members belong to various professions, and she tries the methods of those professions to request the giraffe. The books includes some fun vocabulary. But ultimately, all she had to say was "please". So, it's totally unrealistic.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont

The title of this one is pretty self-explanatory. The book continues to outline everything the little girl likes about herself, and in my opinion, that's always a place for that sort of thing. I also like that she has crazy hair.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

This books is a celebration of how families come in all forms. The cover of the copy we got from the library calls it a "Modern Classic", and I see it first came out in 1989. I guess I just sort of wish there were also books called "Heather has a mom and a dad" or "Heather has a grandma" -- but that's just the contrarian in me. I like the honesty in this book -- one kid has a dad, a step father, and shared custody, another has two dads. What matters in a family is that people love each other.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Little Night by Yuyi Morales

You know how you wish you could write a book that was just simply beautiful? Well,  Yuyi Morales wrote that book! It's a simple bedtime ritual with a touch of magic between the mom and her girl.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan

Children's book about the love of night time, as, sadly, many of our children do. Little owl visits some friends and tries to visit others, and then finally falls asleep just before dawn with his mom.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

I Love Mommy by Lizi Boyd

Cute book about a nice day with a child and mom. The drawings are so sweet, and my daughter seems so compelled that she wants to read the words.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Benny's Brigade by Arthur Bradford

This magical story tells about the adventures of two little girls, their classmates, a very small walrus who got stuck in a nut, and three slugs. It captures to essence of childhood.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Elephantantrum by Gillian Shields

A spoiled little girls learns a lesson when her dad gives her the elephant she demands. The elephant is very special and teaches her to say "please" and "thank you" and to share her toys... and her elephant. I also like that this child appears to have just the one parent.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Little Tree by Loren Long

Little tree is reluctant to give up his leaves and doesn't grow as a result. All the other trees grow up and shadow him out until he comes willing to drop his leaves one fall. My daughter loves this tale, but the allegory is lost on her. This is a good one if you're working on giving up a pacifier or similar.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Once a Mouse by Marcia Brown

This Indian fable is retold in beautiful woodcuts. A magic hermit transforms a mouse to keep him safe, and then transforms him back to teach the mouse a lesson about humility. We are all large and small depending on your perspective.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Princess and the Giant by Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton

This is another one about kindness. The Princess can't sleep because a giant up a beanstalk is making too much noise. The towns people want to fight with him. She finds a way to sooth him.  It's cool in some other ways (mom, the queen, chops wood, for example). I'm not crazy about it bring written in verse, but others probably love that.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Cool artwork illustrates a familiar story (to many of us) of a tiger who feels like himself being wild in the wilderness but at home with his friends in the city. Fortunately in the story and real life, the city develops a balance between people expressing their true selves and conforming to social norms.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My year in TV

As a child-centered single mom, I get lots of time at home while my kid is sleeping and I'm too tired to do anything else. I don’t mind because I LOVE television. People often ask me how to vote on local issues and what TV shows they should watch. My all-time favorite shows include Friends, Battle Star Galactica and Breaking Bad. Also note that I don’t have a TV – everything I watch is streaming. Final note: I also tried a dozen or so more shows that didn't stick, as I do every year. Mention on this list means I watched and intend to keep watching the show (if possible). Here's the list of shows I enjoyed in the previous 12 months:

Jane the Virgin (A) is the best show on TV right now. It’s fun and exciting but not too upsetting (the baby only gets kidnapped for like 5 minutes), and everyone is gorgeous.

The Mindy Project (A) Mindy Kaling is the most important feminist of our time. I love her, and everything she represents, everything she has to say.

Garfunkel and Oates (A) -- 1 season of awesome song and story. I can’t believe this creative genius was cancelled.

Happy Endings (A) – This was one of the best light binges of my life. If you need some Friends therapy, and haven’t watched Happy Endings yet, you need to start. I heard they might bring it back, and I am on the edge of my seat.

Moone Boy (A) is an authentic show about small town Irish life, and it’s funny.
You’re the Worst (A) I went into this one kicking and screaming. But between the beautiful people and the authentic love story, I’m on-board.

Mad Men (A) I don’t think I need to say anything here…. I will say that I am so glad I was not born yet in this era. What a beautiful, deep show.

Big Bang Theory (A) totally deserves its success. I laugh out loud every episode (alone in my living room, it’s sad), maybe every scene. I can’t get enough of it. What’s strange about this phenomenon I that the men are not good looking, and I don’t identify with any of the women. Weird.

Gotham (A) This is a really good show, but sometimes it’s a bit too upsetting and/or gruesome. They lost my love briefly last season with the new bad guy.

Orange is the New Black (A) has not lost its luster.

Girls (A-) I love that a woman who doesn’t look like a fashion model can be a big TV star, and that she can get naked and enjoy sex on TV. I’m sure people are talking smack about her all the time, but I haven’t heard it.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (B+) lost some points for making light of a very dark premise, but is otherwise entertaining. I hope season two takes the show’s premise a bit more seriously.

Master of None (B+) I love Aziz Ansari. This show is sort of a light, entertaining version of his book (which I read at the same time). I like it a lot, but I wish it had gone deeper.

UnReal (B+) sickness. Deep sickness. It’s dark, and I can’t get enough. Reference my long standing love for the Bachelor franchise and deep interest in contemporary feminism.
Casual (B+) I’m really on the fence about this one. It’s great that this brother and sister love each other so much, but I feel bad for the teenage girl whose childhood ended earlier than necessary. Show quality is good; content is mixed.

New Girl (B+) is another one which frequently has me laughing out loud.  
Modern Family (B) Many people close to me love this show; I think it’s OK. I watch it, consistently, when I want something short and entertaining.

Castle (B) I usually watch this show last, but I always enjoy it. All the characters are likable. I really like Nathan Fillion, partly because of Firefly, but also because he’s a little younger than I am but looks older.

Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce (B) very entertaining

Call the Midwife (B) I feel like this show should be better because it’s a British period piece. But it isn’t. I was consistently appalled by the inaccurate depiction of the birthing experience (having just one natural childbirth under my belt). I hope everyone knows natural childbirth isn’t like what they show. I still really loved the characters, their relationships, and issues the show addressed.

Downton Abby (B) a shadow of its former self. There was a time when I thought this show could go on forever. Now, I hope they make another good one someday.

Baby Daddy (B) don’t judge me. I love babies and good-looking adults who are silly.

Glee (B) ended slightly less than a year ago. It could have gone on forever, but I think everyone was so upset when Cory Monteith died that they just wanted to move on. It was good to close it out cleanly, and the last few episodes were fine. I’m sure they’ll give us something similar soon (if they haven’t already, and I missed it).

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (B-) Sometimes this show is just too much to take, and maybe too close to home, but love honesty most. So, let’s be honest about our emotional damage. I also love the completely ridiculous singing and dancing.

Bones (B-) Great concept, and I love love love David Boreanaz. I love him. I want to marry him and have his babies. I like the other characters too, especially the relationship between Angela and Hodgins. I won’t be too sorry when it ends. I feel like the concept has played out. The crime solutions seems to have big problems with some frequency.

The Last Man on Earth (B-) This show is often deeply offensive. I do not love Will Forte and his sensibilities. BUT I am enthralled with the concept, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out each episode. I guess I just wish they (the writers and the characters too) would be a little more realistic.

Grey’s Anatomy (C+) used to be Great. Now it’s OK. I love watching good looking people save lives. I love medical TV because they’re dealing with issues that actually matter in addition to their silly love lives. Yeah, I’m a very loyal person.

The Bachelor franchise (C+) I love these shows and not ironically. It’s like social research. I love trying to predict how people will behave and who they will choose. The concept is better than its execution sometimes.

Love (C) should have been a good show. But the Gus character is so unappealing that the entire premise becomes unbelievable. He’s not even ugly-hot or charming. Love is just so completely from some man’s fantasy perspective. The character Bertie is a breath of fresh air amid it all.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Foxy and Egg by Alex T. Smith

This hilarious Noir-style story is cute and surprising. I really loved the artwork, especially the repetition of chicken images. The end is a surprise, and I don't want to give it away. But I really think you'll like it. The main message is don't trust appearances or your assumptions about people and situations -- a pretty good message really.