September 2011

BPA and Thee

Full disclosure time, folks.  I’ve been poisoning you.

But just a little bit.

Thanks to Mark, i’ve discovered that the underside of most canning jar lids sold in this country, including the ones i’ve been using, is now coated with a plastic that contains BPA, which is much in the news since California is on the brink of banning it in baby bottles, a ban which had previously failed owing to heavy lobbying from folks that sell products containing it.   Ah yes, good old American free enterprise, the right to bribe congressmen to vote against regulation of stuff that scaredy cats like the FDA and AMA say is poisonous.

So yes, if you store a jar of my jam upside down so that the underside of the lid is in contact with the contents, some tiny amount of BPA will leach into the food.  And if the jar gets shaken in transit to your cupboard, a more miniscule amount gets into your food.

In other words, Be Afraid.  Be Slightly Afraid.

On the other hand, if you ever eat or drink anything that’s been in a can, you’ll be exposed to vastly more BPA since the entire inside of the can is lined with the same BPA-containing plastic.  And too, many of our plastic food storage containers are rich sources of BPA (and other horrible stuff like phthalates.   My preliminary research suggests that plastic containers with the resin identification codes 3, 6, and 7 are the ones to watch out for and that BPA is found only in code 7 plastics).

Actually, BPA has been leaching into our foods since the sixties, so us old farts might as well not worry about it.  On the other hand, if you have kids you might be thinking about how you can limit their exposure.  Like by reducing the amount of canned foods you serve ’em and by doing your own homework on which plastic food storage containers are safer.

Noe at Clipper

Noe at Clipper

And by storing Matte’s jams and jellies in the upright and locked position.

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Radical Chic

Quite a pleasant evening.  Went out to Mission Chinese Food to meet Jeff for an early dinner.  Got there quite early and to combat the heat and kill the time sipped a “Come Hell or High Watermelon” wheat beer from 21st Amendment while i read a few pages in Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival.  The cognitive dissonance between trendy eateries/effete microbrewery beers and Chomsky’s radical leftist prose reminded me of that marvelous scene in Wolfe’s Radical Chic in which he depicts Leonard Bernstein’s friends nibbling canapes while they socialize with Black Panthers at his home:

“Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. These are nice. Little Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts. Very tasty. Very subtle. It’s the way the dry sackiness of the nuts tiptoes up against the dour savor of the cheese that is so nice, so subtle. Wonder what the Black Panthers eat here on the hors d’oeuvre trail? Do the Panthers like little Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts this way, and asparagus tips in mayonnaise dabs, and meatballs petites au Coq Hardi, all of which are at this very moment being offered to them on gadrooned silver platters by maids in black uniforms with hand-ironed white aprons . . “

We had the Sizzling Cumin Lamb and the General Tso’s Veal Rib.  Cold Dan Dan Noodles for a starter.  The lamb was divine, the veal was very good, the conversation sparkled over a range of topics, and i forgot all about Chomsky.

Here’s a land side shot on SF’s houseboat row

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More Fashion Notes

Another fashion note, this one sparked by my following bicyclists down Market Street and reinforced by a recent observation from my Dutch friend Mark.

In the old days, nobody could have been more utterly unconcerned with his underwear than the average straight man.  Underwear was something your mother bought in bulk for you, the cheapest brand available, and under ideal circumstances the tattered remnants of the last set she bought lasted until you were married and your bride took over the duty of getting your undergarments.

Times have changed, and if the straight men i see in San Francisco are at all typical, they are now selecting their underwear with the attention to detail previously exercised only by gay underwear fetishists.  Well, see, for the first time in history, men’s  underwear shows, since fashion now decrees that the waistband with its designer logo plus an inch or two of the brightly patterned fabric be displayed above the belt, which is now cinched on the upper slopes of the buttocks.

Me, i’m still parting my hair on the side.  And there’s nothing i can do about that because i have a Tiger Barber, an ethnic Chinese from Vietnam who is not long to be denied what she knows is best for my hair.

Market at Laguna

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The Fashion Police

I have moaned before over my having been shortchanged in the gay gene i got since clearly there is chromosome damage at several points, perhaps the most dramatic being that i have little sense of style and less interest in it.

Yet another example of this was revealed to me this morning at the gym when after eight months of attendance i noticed a well turned ankle on one of the young men.  And then i looked, and looked, and looked some more and saw that all the young men (and even the middle age ones) were sporting well turned ankles.  They’re not wearing socks!

No no, wait.  They are wearing a foot garment, a sort of sock without a top like women wore with athletic shoes fifty years ago. If you look closely, you can see the edge of it showing where the foot enters the shoe.

I tried ever so casually using the toe of my right shoe to push the top of my left sock down around the ankle but that just looked like i had a fat ankle, and besides, the most casual observer could immediately see that i was making a pathetically unsuccessful attempt to be stylish.  And if there’s anything worse than being oblivious to style, it’s trying to be stylish and failing.

So i guess i’ll have to buy some of the damn things although in the first place i already have a lifetime supply of white socks, and worse yet, i figure since these things are clearly all the rage they’ll probably cost more than real socks.

A secure apartment on Alvarado Street

A secure apartment on Alvarado Street

Oh, but wait.  I just took my shoes and socks off, looked closely, and determined that the more of this scarred and battered flesh i can cover, the happier everybody’ll be.  What i really need is some of those socks that come all the way up and cover my calf so that the only skin showing below the long shorts would be the knobby knees.

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A Folsom Street Adventure

No no, i’m not talking about the Folsom Street Fair, which is week after next but which i’m way too old for.  This one was rather more low key.  I just went out to Rainbow for some milk and an Acme sourdough baguette, which i keep returning to after flirting around with the competitors since it’s pretty much the, ahem, acme.  And since i was out and it was a gorgeous day i rode slowly down Folsom Street, trying to take in the astonishing architectural changes that have transmogrified SOMA while my back was turned over the past couple of decades.

It’s not all new, of course, but even the old has in many cases been spiffed up with new paint:


And there are moments of non-architectural whimsy


But as you get a little farther northeast, the new architecture prevails


And this


P1020198And this














And mixed in with it, some of the older, like this magnificent PG&E monolith at Fremont Street


I loved that building at first sight decades ago.  You’d think from the appearance that it would be the home of the infamous Room 641A provided since 2003 as a public service by AT&T, which takes our money for our phone and DSL service and then shows its gratitude for our custom by turning us in to the feds.  But no, Room 641A is in their building at 611 Folsom, which has a much more benign feel since it’s set back from the street behind a large, leafy public space and does not look at all like the kind of place where the National Security Agency would be warrantlessly wiretapping all our telephone and computer communications.

I mentioned Room 641A in a Facebook comment last week and was called a paranoid by some idiot who maintained that it would be impossible to effectively monitor the volume of traffic that went through that room.  I don’t think fast enough to reason with fools anymore, but i’ll just point out here that the NSA has an enormous classified budget usually estimated as more than double that of the CIA, has been providing SIGINT services for the US government since 1952, and is very very good at it.  So since we know they’re sucking up all our Internet and phone traffic in Room 641A, i have every confidence that they know how to use it.

And besides, in my misspent youth i worked for their US Army branch.

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A Feeding Frenzy

It started out innocently enough.  I decided i wouldn’t even go to the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market this morning since i can’t imagine missing the Castro Farmers’ Market in the afternoon.

But then i realized that i just had to take a jar of the jelly i made from the Santa Rosa Creek blackberries to Poli Yerena and his wife, and maybe Glenn Tanimoto and the Schletewitz folks, and the Hoover folks, not having seen them for six weeks.  So i went on down there.

And everything was going fine until i spotted this year’s crop of fresh cranberry beans for $1.50/lb and grabbed a bag of those and a few red onions, and then out of the corner of my eye noticed that my favorite okra vendor had near-perfect pods for $2/lb and some cute Thai peppers for $3/lb.  And then when i handed Glenn his jelly i noticed that he had his French plums, so i got a small bag of those just to eat.  And across from him this vendor had good looking Dapple Dandy pluots for $1.50/lb.  And then on the way to Schletewitz’s nectarines, my pepper man had perfect red New Mexico peppers.

By this time, i had so many bags hanging off the Segway handlebars that it was looking like a homeless person’s repurposed grocery cart, but somehow i got everything home safely.

And now the nectarines, the pluots, and three of the New Mexico chiles are simmering into a jam, and i’m headed out to the Castro Farmers’ Market.  Well, see, I forgot the garlic.

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Blackberry Festival

I celebrated the recovery of some of my strength by going up to Gloria’s for a morning of blackberrying on Santa Rosa Creek.  It’s wonderful to see old friends again after an absence, especially folks like Gloria you’re so comfortable with that you can just totally relax and be yourself, knowing that somehow over the last forty years she’s got used to you as you are.

And vice versa.

blackberries SR creek


As you can see, the vines were laden, and we picked a gallon and a half before we returned to her place for a lunch that had been billed as no-fuss chicken sandwiches but somehow got transmogrified into a five course luncheon:  roasted chicken, grits, fresh heirloom tomato and basil salad (both picked to order from her garden),  chard/raisin/pinenut stirfry, and a cucumber/yogurt raita-like dish.  And then an apple crisp for dessert.   Gasp.



I was going to call the grits “polenta” to make them sound sophisticated, but they were really buttered grits, and i wolfed them.  Besides, in the trendy culinary world, grits are the new polenta.

So what to do with a gallon and a half of fresh blackberries?  Well, this morning i went out to Casa Guadalupe and picked up some apples, Mexican limes, Pasillas, and Jalapeños so that tomorrow Mark can come over and watch/help while i turn ’em into jelly.  He’d mentioned a while back wanting to pitch in, and i’ve been looking forward to it.

And I already figured out the name of it:  WSRCBBPJAKL (Wild Santa Rosa Creek Blackberry Pasilla Jalapeño Key Lime Jelly).  Yes, for the close readers, the “A” in that abbreviated name is for the apple that gets ground up into all the jams and jellies.  No tame blackberries in this thing, and yes, i’m calling ’em “Key” limes because the great majority of the supposedly “Key” limes sold in this country are actually Mexican limes and they’re both Citrus aurantifolia.

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