Monday, December 8, 2014

SMSW9 in the Books

This year by the numbers:

134 riders
12,095 pounds of food
$14,794 in cash
60 sponsors
20 cases of beer
23 volunteers
3 organizers
3 months of planning

Thank you to all the volunteers, sponsors, and riders this year; and especially to my two fellow organizers Jenny and Kacey. One more year in the books!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Citizen Brick

For the Lego fans who always wanted something with a little edge. The guys over at Citizen Brick have got your number. Say hello to this guy, just one of many in their assorted collection.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Moving to the Blackbird

Come have a handsomely crafted cocktail with me as my work moves on to the Blackbird.

Have a Blackbird classic and personal fave, The Leather Bound Book. Rye, cinnamon syrup, old-fashioned bitters, with an absinthe rinse, served down with a lemon twist. Subtle cinnamon is balanced by bitters and given depth with an imperceptible hint of absinthe. Tastes even better than it sounds.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Angry Bladders: Top 10 Reasons NOT to Run The San Francisco Marathon

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Run the SF Marathon

10. It's expensive. If you don't live in SF, SF is one of the most expensive places on earth to get a hotel room. The race is also more expensive than most by about $20. I know you're already paying someone to suffer like hell, but $20 is, on average a pitcher and a half of beer. See also number 5.

9. The weather. While our climate is, on average, very mild, it's also very unpredictable and the race traverses several micro-climates. Yesterday we saw drizzle, fog, wind, and then sweltering heat at the end.

8. Hell is other people. In this case about 20,000 of them. Most of which are running the shorter half-marathons and the 5k. They have never heard of this thing called race-etiquette and the organizers don't bother to mention it exists. I'm not a competitive runner, but nearly got crashed into by competitive runners trying to get around lolly-gaggers.

7. No one cheers you on. I guess there is so much happening in SF that no one really knows (or cares) that the marathon is on. I spotted all of 1 person who lived on the race course that opened her window to cheer us on. In Portland last year it seemed the entire town came out to make fun of you (I mean cheer you on). There were entire neighborhoods that had block parties and even guys holding up signs to tell you who was winning the NFL Sunday game you were missing. In defense of those that did cheer us on, one guy had Turndown For What on repeat with a sign that read, “SLOWDOWN FOR WHAT.” I high-fived him when I saw him at the end of the race.

6. A lack-luster expo that happens in the most inaccessible part of the city. I'm not sure why, but organizers thought that Fort Mason was a great place for bib-pickup and the runner's expo. Convenient for the Marina maybe, but not for anyone else. I guess they recognized that so they had school busses to and from the Hyatt (where they should have had the Expo). School busses.

5. Ugly race shirt, and no swag. I ran Portland last year and got 2 shirts, short and long sleeve, 2 medallions, a pin, a medal, flowers, a beer, AND at tree sapling. A tree sapling. I also got home from the expo and realized they gave me a women's shirt. I'm not the manliest of dudes, but shit, I don't look like a girl.

4. The Golden Gate Bridge. One might think that running over the bridge is going to be this phenomenal experience. Don't be fooled, the bridge is more crowded during the race than it is on the weekends. See also Number 8.

3. There aren't enough aid stations, not enough people at each station, and no food at any of them. Not a single pretzel or gummy bear. There were two stations with GU (which barely qualifies as food). The best part: as you get to mile 13 the first half-marathon finishes and they have piles of bananas you run past that they hand to the runners WHO DON'T HAVE TO RUN ANYMORE. The banana-tease is evil. Speaking of evil…

2. The course is Evil. As a long-time SF resident I've found the ways to get around our hilly town through the flats. Route planners thought it'd be fun to take us to the Wiggle then run us up hill past it. In the last 5 miles there are a series of small climbs where I took note of many runners not just walking, but stopped. Some hunched over about to puke, others sitting, some lying down. I'm not the only one who also thinks the SF course is tough. SF made it onto The Weather Channel's World's 15 Toughest Marathons and The Wall Street Journal called it The Race Even Marathoners Fear.

1. The most compelling reason and most glaring ineptitude of the organizers was seen in the lines for the bathrooms. If there is anything that a well-hydrated runner will need to do before a race, it's take a piss. There are about 16,000 people at the start of the race and I've not seen lines this long for anything. To give you an idea of the runner to bathroom ratio, I started in the last wave and when I got to my start corral, there were a few hundred runners in line for 5 porta potties. Needless to say, there were a lot of angry bladders at the start.

Anyway… Don't be fooled by the photo, I'm only smiling because I DON'T HAVE TO TRAIN FOR THIS MARATHON ANYMORE.

Profit Through Dishonesty: Dunn & Bradstreet

I finally figured out why I've been getting a bevy of cold-calls from investment firms asking me if I'm looking to invest in X,Y,Z bullshit. Turns out my number was found and included in a list created and sold to third parties by a company called Dunn & Bradstreet. Thank you to the cold-caller who finally told me how he got my number!

A search for this company yields a bevy of articles about scams and deceptive practices. Getting caught in the Dunn & Bradstreet list is like getting phone herpes. Once your number is sold you will get phone calls from any number of companies trying to sell you something. Apparently if your number is listed on the internet, on your website, resume, or as a business, Dunn & Bradstreet will add it to their list. Needless to say, being on the Do-Not-Call registry doesn't seem to deter them.

I called Dunn & Bradstreet to have my number removed from their list and it turns out that my number was caught in their "business" directory which had my home address from about 10 years ago. I now have a removal request put in that will take 6 weeks to complete…

If you've suddenly started getting cold-calls you might want to see if your number has been sold by Dunn & Bradstreet. You can visit them at or give them a call.

The only thing I can hope is that ill-gotten gains, lead to the appropriate karma…

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Next Friday

Art Inspired by Travel – Jonathan Koshi and Molly McGrath

Secession Art and Design presents a new show, featuring the graphite drawings of Jonathan Koshi and the geometric designs of Molly McGrath. Join us for the opening reception on Friday, June 6, 6:30-9:30pm, 3361 Mission St.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sweet Victory

Last year I did a series of holiday sugar skulls for a campaign for WAX Partners that earned a 2014 Anvil Award. Thanks Chris at WAX for the opportunity.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Graphite on Paper

No. 20 No. 19 No. 18 No. 17 No. 16 Sign up for future notes for more about my upcoming show in San Francisco, this June.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Works: Graphite Doors

Subscribe to get a note about my show June 6 in SF. --------> The Small Stuff 45 Chausée de Vleurgat Graphite

Monday, February 3, 2014

Recipe Note: Savory Bread Pudding

Most people think sweet when they hear bread pudding, but for many of us who are missing the sweet tooth, bread pudding can also be satisfyingly savory too. While in Brussels, we were lucky enough to have two wonderful Thanksgiving hosts from the UK; Thanks Al and Frances! While they weren't thankful like we are in the US for the introduction of western disease to North America and the stealing of native lands, they were thankful for my savory bread pudding. I read recipes by Ina Garten and Mark Bittman to come up with mine. By request, here is the recipe.


  • 6 Cups of Bread cut into 1/2 Cubes
  • 1/2 Cup of Pancetta
  • 2 Cups of your favorite Mixed Mushrooms (I used black trumpets, porcini, white/brown caps)
  • 1 Diced Onion
  • 1 Diced Shallot
  • 3 Cloves of Minced Garlic
  • 2 Cups of Whole Milk
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 Cup of your favorite Cheese (I used a local aged sheep's milk)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper

Spread out bread cubes onto a baking sheet and put into the oven at 350 degrees F, bake until slightly browned, about 15 minutes.

While the bread is browning, render the pancetta and set aside the crisp bits. You can pour off the pancetta fat, or be thankful for it. Reserve a bit of it for sautéing the mushrooms. In the rest of the fat, at very low heat, brown the onion, shallot, and garlic.

This will take a while but go slow, if you cheat with high heat you'll burn the garlic, scorch the aromatics, and just end up with a bitter mess. What you want is a soft, rich brown, caramelized pan of amazingness. Season with salt and pepper.

Sauté your mushrooms in the pancetta fat and butter until they are tender and add the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and a cup of the cheese.

To the eggs, milk, and cheese, add the bread, mushrooms, browned onions, pancetta bits, and mix thoroughly. Let the mixture soak for a half hour at room temperature until the bread soaks up the liquid.

Stir well and pour into an oiled 2 1/2-to-3-quart gratin dish (13 x 9 x 2 inches). Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. You want the top to be brown and the custard set. Serve hot.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Not About Food

I've been gathering my thoughts on my experience at noma a couple weeks ago and while it seems I should discuss the food, it was something else about the place that made it distinctive. Besides, there are a number of far more able food writers who have already done so and while I'd love to get into the subtle flavor of bacteria and kelp, the experience is hardly just about the food.

Sure, the pacing, service, flavors, and plating were superior; unlike anything I've ever had, but it wasn't until after I'd finished my meal that noma truly transformed the way I think about a restaurant and the way I think about working teams in general. At the end of the lunch service I overheard a few other guests were going to tour the kitchen. It was a long shot, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask if I could tag along, I did not expect a yes. Our server tried to set expectations by letting us know that it wasn't something most people did.

A few minutes later, we paid our bill and that was that. I wasn't disappointed to not see the kitchen, it was honestly an experience that left a want for nothing. In fact, the worst part about eating there, aside from how much it costs (something for another post), is that it comes to an end and you have to leave. But that was actually not the end. Our server, who was on her own account amazing, returned with good news. WE WOULD GET A TOUR.

We were introduced to one of the chefs who like everyone there, greeted us with a sincere warmth and interest in our visit. I know this might sound like it's just good service, but either everyone at noma has gone to acting school or they truly love what they're doing there.

We are shown around noma's kitchens during their preparation for the dinner service. During my entire four years at university, I worked in the dining halls. When a kitchen is in full tilt, the last thing you want is someone standing in the middle of it, getting a tour. We were exactly that, that couple getting the tour in the middle of a working kitchen. We were not just in the middle, we were literally in the way of approximately 60 people who were working furiously to make this experience happen.

But the fact that I felt that way was purely of my own construction. For every "sorry" that I'd given for being in the path of a chef, there was a smile, a welcome, and a "don't worry about it." Again, it was this sincere sense of appreciation for you, the guest, that came from every person, chef or otherwise. I looked at them star-struck, but they made you feel like you were the celebrity. They were real people back there, not too important for you, but on your level despite the acclaim of their restaurant.

In the 17 or so years of my professional career I've worked with more than a dozen teams on projects of all sizes. There are definitely many of them that I'd work with again, and some where I'd prefer a sharp stick in the eye. Of the best of them, however, I'm not completely certain I've seen anything like what I saw at noma. The respect for each other results from a cross-diciplinary approach and shared tasks.

Everyone learns and does all the different jobs there, which means everyone literally appreciates walking in each other's shoes. They also work as a team on tedious tasks. Rather than one person peeling 300 potatoes, 15 of them will do 20 each. By sharing in the toil, they both break down tasks into easier stretches and share in the execution of what is produced. The result is higher quality execution and happier people; the kitchen was filled with upbeat chatter and smiling faces, not to mention perfectly peeled potatoes.

By the end of the tour through the kitchens, I got the sense that people there not only appreciated that they were working in one of the best restaurants in the world, but they appreciated each other too. They also appreciated me, not because I my meal pays their salaries, but because I was also somehow part of their small world of mutual respect and appreciation. To say the least, it was this, not the food, that left the biggest impression on me. It was a truly inspiring end to a truly inspired meal. If you are lucky enough to have this experience, I'd suggest you do it. It's not bullshit, it's a lot of passionate people trying to make the best food experience in the world and they are doing a damn good job of it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Not About Copenhagen

I can't quite remember the first time I'd heard about noma. I vaguely remember a friend telling me about it, and then I saw interviews with René Redzepi in the movie Three Stars, a documentary about the Michelin Guide and the chefs whose restaurants come in and fall out of that prestigious distinction.

I remember the Redzepi interviews; they stood in stark contrast to the rather hubristic interviews with guide director, Jean-Luc Naret, and apart from the interviews with the other chefs. Redzepi had a realist's approach as a restaurateur, focus on the food, but the bottom line is about booze. He was frank about how success as a chef meant more than cooking, something that some of the other chefs either failed to mention, or didn't know how to articulate.

Fast forward a few years and noma has quickly grown into a global gourmet concern. Redzepi's Alice Waters approach mixed with his entrepreneurism and focus on innovative, maybe controversial, food caught the attention of many food writers, including a staple-favorite, Anthony Bourdain.

Last October I was up late watching an episode of his CNN show, Parts Unknown, where he visits Denmark. But the episode was, "not about Denmark, or Copenhagen," it was about, "one man, and one restaurant." Bourdain hangs out with Redzepi for the day, both exude a certain stylized cool, both carefree but with a underlying seriousness that propels them into the spotlight.

Before his meal at noma, Bourdain wonders if this is going to be a bunch of bullshit. I'm a fan of his low tolerance for bullshit, exemplified in a No Reservations episode in Italy where he gets shit-faced as a result of a tour he's foisted onto where his guides throw frozen seafood into water for the camera.

By the end of his episode on Redzepi and noma, however, he seems genuinely convinced that noma is, in fact, not bullshit. Frankly, I don't identify as a foodie, though I have been accused and labelled as such, but if Anthony Bourdain says it's good, I'd be inclined to believe him.

As the episode runs to the end, Bourdain dines with noma alum and chef, Alessandro Porcelli. Porcelli poignantly points out that Redzepi is out to change the world, but doing it with one restaurant that seats 35 guests at a time is quite a challenge. I thought to myself, I'd like to be one of those 35 guests at a seating so I headed over to, and lo and behold, I find reservations for the next season OPEN IN AN HOUR.

So around 2a PST, I sat violently refreshing noma's reservations page until finally I was in. In a matter of minutes it was over. Two entire months worth of seatings were gone, but by some stroke of impulse, luck, and late-night delirium, I had managed to get one of them.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Course de Bruxelles

Since my last post I've put a few miles in around Brussels. Many of those miles were spent hopelessly lost in vaguely familiar corners, down winding streets with 5 names, in the cold battering rain. But then somewhere around 50 miles or so, I was getting less and less lost. If you can break the habit of running the same routes, it becomes one of the best exploration tools for learning a place.

Trying to get lost can be terrifying without a map, but also turns on a basic survival instinct. At first it will feel scary and strange, it will fill you with insecurity, but after you get over that, it turns into a liberating confidence. Now about 170 miles into Brussels, I'm fairly confident in my explored section of the city. Granted, it's mostly just a few miles around my apartment, but these routes are not just familiar, they are starting to feel like mine.

I was curious to actually see this new place that I'd claimed, but Garmin doesn't do multiple route overlays, and Strava charges you for their heatmap feature, so I decided to figure it out on my own. It took a little bit of perseverance, but it was a great way to learn the Google Maps API, and the resulting map provides great introspective details of my running habits here. I found it interesting that most of my runs are north/south, rather than east/west, I'm not sure why. It does motivate me to want to run east/west more often and to expand my known areas of the city.

A few technical bits regarding the map that I learned:

  • Garmin will export a KML file that the Gmaps API can render, so you don't have to run some crazy regex to extract LatLng points like I did at first.
  • The Garmin KML file, however, also includes a series of "track points" that it uses to animate a cursor on its website which obscure the polylines so you'll need to delete that from each KML file.
  • The Gmaps renderer caches KML files for some indeterminate length beyond 5 minutes to prevent denial of service attacks, so if you are wondering why your map isn't updating, it's not your fault.
  • You are limited to 10-20 KML overlays on a single map. If you exceed the KML data limit, none of the overlays will appear. Just keep commenting layers out until they appear again.
  • The "Googley" engineers working on the KML format thought it'd be cool to style your polylines with a hexadecimal system that is backwards from html so instead of the #RRGGBB that most of the modern world has used since the dawn of additive color theory, it goes AABBGGRR, AA is for alpha transparency (also very convenient as a hexadecimal rather than an integer, so 50% is 7F, not .5).
Other than that, it was fairly straight-forward and the examples provided were extremely helpful.