Photo from August 30, 2007

North Beach, San Francisco, California

Panasonic DMC-LX1
1/500 sec at f/4.0, iso 80, 15.6mm (70mm)

Part of the same photo roll as this photograph, I ended up processing it also before I noticed the error.

It’s a “tourist snapshot” of the Transamerica Pyramid. From a photographic standpoint there is nothing to write about because I took it the same way any tourist might. Even though the camera shoots RAW, the dynamic range of small camera CCDs back then were just not up to the task of recording anything useable in the shadows. All I could do is use the “pump the blues” trick that any nature photographer knows to do for outdoor photos.

Even though Transamerica has long since moved to the East Coast, because it was built by them and its still in their logo, it’s still called the Transamerica Building and has been a the salient fixture of the San Francisco skyline for my entire life. I read somewhere that when it was built it was considered the ugliest building in the city until the Mariott “Jukebox” was built in 1989. I guess after that the One Rincon Tower Fan were built, San Franciscans were like, “You know, the Transamerica pyramid actually looks kind of nice.”

I snapped this photo outside my favorite sandwich shop at the time, Giordano Bros, which, like Transamerica, has moved to a different location.

A lot of people don’t “get” the All-in-One sandwich because they didn’t grow up in Pittsburgh, but putting french fries and coleslaw in a sandwich seems the most natural thing to do. Before I even ate at Primati’s I used to put Snyders of Berlin BBQ potato chips in my chipped ham sandwiches when I ran out of Isaly’s BBQ sauce.

Ever wonder why it took a Pittsburgh franchise to popularize the Bob’s Big Boy sandwich as the McDonald’s Big Mac? Go eat an All-In-One and then go eat a Big Mac and your culinary mind will be blown.

I may not have the tastebuds of a foodie, but to make up for it when I eat, with a single bite into a sandwich, my mind can travel trans-america from San Francisco, to Oak Brook, to Pittsburgh, to Los Angeles and back again. And that’s why my favorite sandwich in San Francisco when I snapped this photo was Giordano Bros’s Coppa All-in-One.

Diet Coke

So the [local McDonalds]( didn’t have seats and messed up my drink order with Diet Coke. This 4Square Mayor had decided that they’re one mess up away from becoming the worst McDonald’s in a two block radius (there are three).

Walking back to the office with an ad-hoc “to go” order, I had a sip of my drink. I was immediately taken aback and had another sip to confirm what I just tasted. Then I crossed the street and threw it away so as to not subject a panhandler to the zero calorie “dirty water of capitalism.”

I then had two blocks to contemplate taste of Aspartame in my mouth. Now I know this is offensive to you Diet drinkers, but to us sugar-lovers, I was taking by how the aftertaste of Diet Coke feels like I just threw up Coke and re-swallowed it.

Luckily, the Wikimedia refrigerator is fully stocked.

They should change the color of Diet drinks to make them easily identifiable. I don’t know why I should have to suffer this taste once every few months because half of America has the [mistaken impression][zero calorie] that zero-calorie drinks will make them less fat.

[zero calorie]: “It’s not that you gain weight drinking diet soda, it’s that you don’t lose it because your body makes up the calories somewhere else. I, for instance, drink 8-16 teaspoons of sugar most weekdays in the form of coke, and it just means I eat less or smaller meals because of it.”

The neighboring McDonald's

My co-workers are constantly amazed and appalled about my obsession with [McDonald’s trivia][stuff i should know]. Most common comment once I get started: “How are you **not** writing the Wikipedia article about this?”

One of the weird talents is the knowledge of every McDonald’s in San Francisco (I’ve been FourSquare mayor of most of them). There aren’t that many.

Because of this, one of the strangest pairs are the two McDonald’s on Market Street which are less than a half block from each other. You can actually see the one from the other.

I thought about this while I stopped by one as I picked up [breakfast][mcmusings] at one and walked passed the other on my way to work. Are people so lazy that they need to put two McDonald’s right next to each other? In fact, there are four McDonald’s within a few blocks of each other here, but there are none north of Golden Gate Park where I live. Is McDonald’s too high brow for the Avenues that it can only be services by a Jack In The Box and Taco Bell?

Then it occurs to me that the clientele is notably different between the two. It’s mostly because one has nearly no seating and therefore doesn’t smell like a bathroom got backed up, which is doubly odd because the smelly one doesn’t actually have a bathroom.

I’m thinking of calling one the “[high class Market McDonalds][]” and the other “[low class Market McDonalds][].” (I’m adding the term “Market” because the one on Front Street is actually nicer than both.)

My faith in the world of business was restored.

If you’re ever in the Financial District stop by all four sometime and you’ll know what I mean.

[stuff i should know]: “Stuff I should know”
[mcmusings]: “McMusings”
[high class McDonald’s]: “McDonald’s SOMA San Francisco—Yelp”
[low class McDonald’s]: “McDonald’s SOMA San Francisco—Yelp”

Editorial wall my ass

The person next to me on the airplane was reading the Wall Street Journal. I glanced over and it took me about 15 seconds to realize that it was the editorial page. The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has definitely got to be the largest: “I’m an ignorat douche” tags I’ve ever seen a person display.

A lot of people rationalize reading the Journal because of the claim of an chinese wall that separates their editorial board from the news board. The claim is their editorial board is right wing whackos (and that content is given for free online); their journalsm is impartial enough to make business decisions (and that content is behind a pay wall online).


Take this recent example: McDonald’s May Drop Health Plan.

And then read the takedown by a conservative or the this New York Times article. There is really no excuse for sloppiness in this reporting other than a political agenda—after all the rationalization McDonald’s is giving for dropping the plan in the article is that they’re keeping too much money for themselves!

This is common sense: Murdoch bought the paper and changed its direction radically. If you are reading the Journal now to make business decisions, you are making really poor ones.

Stuff I should know

I went on a morning run for the first time in months. I ended up running to the Stuff You Should Know podcast, which turned out ironically to be about “How McDonald’s Works”. Audio file:

You see, along with the running kick, I decided just this week to stop eating at McDonald’s for a while. I was in danger of taking back my FourSquare mayorships of all the fast food places in SoMa—and my stomach was starting to revolt.

(I finally lost my FourSquare mayorship of those and the Fisherman’s Wharf Burger King. Burger King! I thought I’d have that one forever. Who eats at the Fisherman’s Wharf Burger King more than once?!)

Though I knew most of the stuff in it, I found the podcast interesting because I had forgotten about the McLibel case and its impact on fast food.

Now the podcast is old so all the corrections have probably been aired a hundred times, but I thought I’d mention the ones I noticed on during my run.

Any regular at McD’s knows the double cheeseburger is on the Dollar Menu ($1) most everywhere except in places like San Francisco, where I happen to live. There, it has been replaced with the “McDouble.” What’s the difference, you say? One slice of cheese. Even here, the double cheeseburger isn’t more than about $1.29. (Yes, that’s 30 cents for a slice of cheese. Believe me, I’ve been dreaming up some serious McDonald’s arbitrages over the last few years.)

Oh yes, I go to McDonald’s way too much. Three months ago, I was disappointed to find out that they built my sausage mcmuffin with egg backwards. Last week, they made my double quarter pounder wrong.

(FYI, I was able to avoid my fast food craving by stopping by the Prather Ranch Grill stand in the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market on the way back. So much better, and with drink, only $2 more than McDonald’s here.)

Blame it on Bollywood

Yesterday, I walked onto a Bollywood set.


On my way back from McD’s, my apartment building was lit by three lighting/grip trucks. The lights were overpowering the sun.

Lighting my building

Lighting my building
4th and Brannan, South of Market, San Francisco, California

Olympus E-P2, Panasonic Lumix G 1:1.7/20 ASPH.
1/4000sec @ ƒ1.7, ISO200, 20mm (40mm)

Carrying McDonalds and shooting from the hip at the same time. Take that, Leica!

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