December 2017

Vicious Rumor

A new addition to the list of conservative euphemisms like “F-word” for fuck: “Double C-word” for climate change.


First, let’s clear the air and state right up front that we here at are always eager to increase our readership.  And yes, my new online friend Dimitry (whom i’ve never met in person because he says he doesn’t live around here) has made some improvements in this website that have caused my hit rate to skyrocket.

However, i categorically deny the vicious rumor that he installed a bot that gives readers a little dopamine dose when they click on a page so that they feel a bit better, and the more they read, the better they feel.

This is fake news of the worst kind, that which takes a tiny grain of truth and then exaggerates it beyond all reason.  First, i can easily imagine readers being spellbound by my prose and graphics and quite naturally reading more and more and more until finally they notice that the sun has risen.  So i have lots of avid readers without any bot.

Second,  it’s not dopamine but rather a proprietary mixture of pure natural ingredients some friends of his stirred up, so just relax and enjoy it while you’re enjoying the site.

And finally, Dimitri insists that he’s maxed the dosage out at a safe level by programming the boost to occur only randomly, at a decreasing frequency, and to end completely long before readers could possibly be found dead of thirst with their screens displaying Matte’s Greatest Hits.

That’s the part of this obscene rumor that hurts me the most.  We provide wholesome entertainment and categorically deny all reports of harm. Dimitri assures me that he conducted extensive testing in prisons and orphanages and found no deaths – zero, nada – that could be attributable to reading this website.  They all had compromised immune systems or something or just ate too much junk food.

So you can continue reading Matte Gray absolutely safely.  Besides, reading Matte is good for you in other ways.  The Department of Homeland Security knows who’s reading patriotic material like Matte Gray and who isn’t.  Naughty or nice list, it’s your choice, and if you really want to be on Homeland Security’s good side, you’ll put a link to Matte Gray on your website.  Maybe two in case your readers miss the first one.

As Dimitri puts it, “Reading website good for citizen.”  And that’s even before he phases in the added vitamins next year.

Meanwhile, here’s the Vestry on Valencia Street, and this being San Francisco, it’s a restaurant and the chapel it’s attached to has been put to good use as a live music venue.

The Vestry on Valencia

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Paying It Back

Today is Keith Richards’ birthday, which reminded me that i’m three years older than that wizened geezer.


Well, yes, there’s great joy in paying it back and no, i’m not talking about savoring revenge cold, as enjoyable as that is.  No indeed, i mean doing something nice for someone who’s been nice to you.

Folks here in my senior apartment complex have been warm and friendly to me, so this morning in the community room kitchen i demoed making marmalade.  Several people came to watch since by now i’m widely known in the building as a maker of sweet preserves and i’d mentioned in the bulletin board announcement that attendees would get a jar of the finished product.

To start with, i got Erik Olsen to pick ten pounds of his blood oranges well before they ripened and bring them to the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market last Saturday.  Erik is the grandson of Ken Olsen and is now bringing the family products to market on Saturdays and Sundays.  I got started with them many years ago when i discovered that Ken grew the most delicious mandarins i had ever eaten.  Still does.

Then last night i sliced up five pounds of the blood oranges and started them cooking down.  Turned off the fire and let ’em rest overnight.

Then this morning i ferried them, the other five pounds of oranges, another cooking pot, my chopping block and a knife, a measuring cup, and a big bag of sugar down to the community room.

First, i started last night’s batch of marmalade cooking on the stove.

unripe blood orange marmalade


Then i set everything up and started slicing oranges in anticipation of the arrival of the first audience members. Here’s a shot of one of the sliced oranges.  Note that since these blood oranges are unripe, the flesh has not turned dark red yet.

sliced unripe blood oranges


As the guests drifted in, i finished slicing the oranges and got them all to taste a slice to see that it hadn’t turned sweet yet.  Then i added the sugar and water, and set that pot going on the stove.

By that time, the first pot of marmalade was nearly ready to jar, so i tossed the empty jars into the oven and set it going at 225 F.  After the jars had sat there for ten minutes, i snatched them out onto the chopping block, jarred the first batch of marmalade, and passed out jars to the audience.  There’s already talk about my doing this again in the spring for a jelly, and if there’s enough demand i’ll certainly do it because i sure did enjoy this morning’s effort.

The second pot i brought back to my apartment to finish this afternoon.

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A Flight To Remember

It would be interesting to see the vote on a House of Representatives measure to allow all Americans licensed in any state to carry their concealed handguns into the House Chamber.


Well see, knowing that i needed to practice, i took my new drone out into the unoccupied kids’ playground next door so that i could get comfortable with the controls, to practice so that using them became intuitive and that in an emergency i wouldn’t have to waste time thinking about which thumb pressed where did what to the drone’s flight.

But since i’d already flown the drone with exquisite caution a couple of times, what i needed to do this time was start flying it around at a brisk speed and at varying altitudes, being careful of course to keep it always within my line of sight.

I’m still somewhat iffy about use of the DJI Go 4 app, and couldn’t get it to come on properly this time, but actually you can fly the drone without using the app, so i just went ahead and took off manually.

Glorious.  It shot straight up like a rocket, but i immediately brought it back down to about 20 feet and then decided to use both thumbs at once to send it climbing off at a 45 degree angle.  Which it did.  Way too fast.

And in the process of trying to turn it around and bring it back, i somehow managed to fly it down onto the top of the archway at the entrance to my apartment complex.

Oh hell, i thought, this is going to be a quagmire of embarrassment, finding somebody with a ladder long enough to let me get up on top of that arch.  Thinking there might be some neighboring structure abutting the arch on the other side, i walked around there.  Nope.

But then as i turned to go down into the courtyard to look at the other side of the arch, i noticed my drone.  It wasn’t on top of the arch but rather had clipped the edge and fallen flat on its back into the driveway, where it lay unconscious.

I sprang to its side and clutched it to my breast.  Then went into triage mode and found two immediately visible problems.  First, one of the rotor blades had snapped off, broken so that it wouldn’t go back on.  No biggie since replacement blades are cheap. The real problem was that its camera assembly was hanging out by a thread.  Oops.  The rubber stabilizing band that you’re warned to check when you’re unpacking must have slipped off during one of the impacts.  But wait.  I don’t see a band.  And since the camera was OK when i unpacked, i don’t know what the band even looks like.  Nothing on the ground around here that looks like it might be the band.

Hmmm.  Internet to the rescue.  Went looking for images of what the camera assembly was supposed to look like when properly attached and blundered instead onto Magicsky on Montgomery St, authorized DJI sales and repairs.  Yeah, i’m in over my head so might as well just take the drone in to them.  To save face i’ll tell ’em i was making a pass over Ploesti when i was crippled by the flak and limped home on a wing and a prayer.  Ummm, three wings.  Prayer optional.

So yes, we’ll be happy to look at it.  Bring it in.

Good grief.  Breathtakingly handsome store, gleaming glass and chrome with drones displayed like jewelry.  I’m standing there with my pitiful little wounded bird in my hand looking at drones with full meter wingspans.  Maybe i could just trade mine in on an upgrade.  Naw, better wait until i’ve learned how to fly this one.

So they took it in for a diagnosis and called me back the next day with the news that the camera assembly was beyond repair and had to be replaced.

So my flight that covered a distance of less than twenty meters and lasted about a minute ended up costing me $339.  This is going to be a more expensive hobby than i’d imagined.

The good news is that i can pick it up tomorrow and, back to the gingerly approach to flight i was previously taking, learn to fly the thing.  I’m thinking my first foray after i’ve learned will be up the Russian River valley to get better shots of many of those bridges since about half of those that are in the photo essay now shouldn’t have made the cut, but i wanted a pic of every bridge whether it was any good or not.  The pic.

Meanwhile, here’s the butt end or the proud prow, not sure which, of the new Transbay Terminal.  This one is impossible to photograph from the ground since it runs two long blocks southwest, but it would take nerves of steel to fly a drone among all the highrises surrounding it to get a good shot.  I’ll save that for when i’m experienced.

Transbay Terminal

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New Foods

Time to alert my readers to a couple of foods i’ve recently discovered.

First, the easy one:  Once Again sunflower seed butter.  Saw this at Rainbow Grocery and gave it a try.  Got it home and already had the first spoon in my mouth when i noticed, in 4pt. type on the front label

“Lightly Sweetened”.

  Sigh.  Don’t usually buy stuff with added sugar but fortunately they weren’t exaggerating, as it is just barely sweet, and that marginal sweetness snuggles up to the light saltiness in a warm, brotherly manner.   My God, is that stuff ever good.  And yes, they do offer an unsweetened version, but at 8 gr. of carbs per two tablespoons when a serving for me is less than half of that, i can deal with the carbs.  Try this stuff if you have any taste at all for sunflower seeds.

I wrote three or four years ago about how i’d been quite happily eating Fage Greek yogurt but switched to Smári Icelandic yogurt (AKA skyr) after a handsome serpent in Whole Foods offered me a taste and writhed in pleasure over my astonishment that a non-fat yogurt could be so thick and have such a creamy mouthfeel. So αποχαιρετισμός Φαγε , halló Smári.

However, when i moved back to San Francisco, the pint tubs of plain Smári had been dropped by Rainbow Grocery.  Grrrr.

Oh yes, they stock a variety of Smári yogurts that are sweetened and flavored with fruit, but i refuse to even taste one because i know it’ll be utterly delicious and thus another carbohydrate bomb temptation when i’m already having to navigate my way around the city carefully to stay out of Satan’s grasp.  As it is, every time i go out shopping using Valencia Street, i have to shoot through a strait with Scylla (Mitchell’s Ice Cream) on my left and Charybdis (Dianda Bakery) on my right.

Luckily, Rainbow now carries a new brand of plain Icelandic yogurt in pints, this one called Siggi’s.  Like Smári, it’s made in this country by Icelandic immigrants, so i thought i’d try it.  Oh wow. Puts Smári in the shade, if not the Arctic winter darkness, mainly because they offer a version that is not just “whole milk” (3.5% butterfat) but rather 4% butterfat that’s so damn thick you can slice it.  Well, especially if you take your first few spoonfuls by running the spoon carefully down the side of the tub and then extracting the yogurt straight up so that you dig a hole down to the bottom of the container and then drink the whey that accumulates, leaving the remaining yogurt even thicker.

Not, of course, that anyone other than dedicated aficionados would go to such depths, but i highly recommend Siggi’s yogurt even for normal folks.

This afternoon, in the interest of science and the progression of knowledge, i conducted an experiment.  In Rainbow Grocery i purchased little individual servings of fruit-flavored yogurt for taste testing.   Smári whole milk blackberry and Siggi’s 4% fat mixed berry.  And while i was at it, another brand of skyr they’ve started carrying,  the Norr whole milk black currant, with the plan that i’d compare a bite or two out of each and then consume the remainder over the next two days.

The Norr was pretty good, but not worth saving for another day, so i ate it all.  The Smári was excellent, so good that i ate it all.   But Siggi’s was the best, and i couldn’t stop.  Which just goes to prove that we shouldn’t buy flavored yogurts.

Try Siggi’s 4% plain.  As they say in Reykjavík , “Það er þykkt.”  It is thick.  And do not be misled by the front of the container, which plainly reads, ”


Icelandic style cream-skyr | 4% milkfat | strained whole-milk yogurt

per serving

6g Sugar | 25g Protein | 230 calories”

That 6g of sugar per serving is absolute truth in advertising, the amount of naturally occurring lactose in the milk.  They do not add any sugar to their plain yogurt.  I checked.  Eat Siggi’s.

Meanwhile, another piece of the new Transbay Terminal.

Transbay Terminal bus ramp

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