Monday, February 6, 2012

The SF Antiquarian Book and Paper Fair

I often find out about interesting events in San Francisco just by accidentally driving past them on the weekend. That's how I learned about the Antiquarian Book and Paper Fair, which turned out to be exactly what the event name implies. I think I was the youngest person in attendance, but I thoroughly enjoyed pursuing booth after booth of delicate books and whimsical old illustrations still more vibrant in their ripe age than many of the children's books of today. I saw antique postcards that ranged anywhere from 25¢ to a few hundred dollars and prints from as far back as the 15th century. I left empty-handed, but I did take a few photos for souvenirs.

These paper dolls were sent in the mail as postcards and had instructions for play on the back.

I thought this was a charming reminder of how language evolves over time.

A collection of paper dolls representing soldiers throughout history.

Beautiful binding and a story about time caught my eye. Clearly this book was a time traveler itself.

This whimsical pop-up book was better watching a 3-D movie.

| iPhone Photos by: Me. |

Monday, January 16, 2012

Another San Francisco Winter

Weather has been amazingly wonderful in these parts. It's been surprisingly nice, even in San Francisco terms where it is relatively nice all the time. Here are some photos I snapped while enjoying a good start to the new year.

Enjoying a nice variety of loose-leaf teas on a Sunday morning while waiting for the sun to reappear.

I love the shelves of German groceries for sale at Schmidt's. For something that's a little different from your typical SF brunch, try their German-inspired weekend brunch menu, filled with a variety of sausages and fresh German pastries. Where else in this city can you get picked herring for breakfast?

Poutine from Gregoire Restaurant, in Gregoire's signature octagonal take-away box. Poutine is a French-Canadian dish consisting of fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Brilliant.

This weather is great for visiting Alamo Square with Lillabelle. Lots of other dog owners had the same idea, and Lillabelle made a friend.

No trip to Alamo Square is complete without a touristy photo of the Painted Ladies.

| iPhone Photos by: Me. |

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas in Seattle

Nick and I wanted to do a little trip for Christmas and decided Seattle was far enough away to feel special, yet close enough to not get caught up in the hassle of traveling during the holidays. We seemed to encounter a lot of fellow San Francisco residents with the same idea. We like Seattle because it feels like a smaller, cleaner version of San Francisco, with seasons.

Beautiful produce at the Pike Place Market.

In our winter accessories, just outside of the Seattle Aquarium.

Amazing freshly-made crumpets at The Crumpet Shop. We ate there all three mornings that we spent in Seattle. The staff was super friendly and immediately caught on that we were repeat visitors.

Giant stuffed sea otter outside one of the waterfront shops.

My rain boots certainly came in handy on this trip.

Sadly missing: A photo of me with my awesome friend Abhishek who was kind enough to show us a couple cool places and drive us to the airport. Thanks, buddy!

| iPhone Photos by: Me. |

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Last Third of 2011

It's kind of sad that my last post here in 2011 was about getting a new work bag to celebrate my new job and then I was not to be heard from again for the rest of the year. As much as I loved blogging, it took up a huge amount of my spare time—a type of time that became practically non-existent once I started full-time work as a game designer. My job is super fun, though, and it's hard to complain about long hours when you're making games for a living.

Lately, however, I've become addicted to Instagram and have been using it to document every little memory I could possibly want a quick snapshot for. I realized that while I unfortunately might not have time to type up anecdotes or put together moodboards, friends and readers interested in The Yuppie Lifestyle might still find my on-the-go photo-taking fun. So, I am going to give blogging another go by posting 5 photos from my Instagram feed that sum up the last third of my 2011. And I'll try to post 5 more photos every time I have a great week or do something neat or extraordinary.

This isn't necessarily a resolution for the new year; I'd rather just call it a personal goal. But I do want to thank everyone who bugged me about blogging more—you guys are awesome.

5 snapshots:

A pretty flower at a cute cafe in the Castro.

The view from our room at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where Nick and I spend our Thanksgiving. Our balcony was right over the Bellagio fountains.

Nick and I have been obsessing over ramen lately even though it never seems to photograph well. We love Halu and Genki Ramen. Any other suggestions for SF ramen spots?

One of my company perks is free admission to Disneyland. I didn't like Disneyland as a child but I had more fun as an adult.

Some of the most awesome gingerbread houses I've ever seen. This tribute to the Painted Ladies along Alamo Square was part of the annual Palace Hotel Gingerbread Competition. Funds raised through the contest went to charitable organizations chosen by the winners.

(And yes, I finally jumped on that iPhone bandwagon.)

| iPhone Photos by: Me. |

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Help Me Pick a New Work Bag

I started a new full-time gig on Monday that I am very excited about. To celebrate, I am treating myself to a new work bag from my favorite handbag maker, Kate Spade. While all of my everyday bags accommodate my personal, sleek, 13-inch laptop, I'll now have to tote around my ugly work ThinkPad with the huge battery attachment that just barely doesn't fit in anything.

Which bag should I get?

| 1. Vanston Maryclare | 2. Cooper Square Katarina in black/creme | 3. Cooper Square Katarina in doe | 4. Vanston Stripe Maryclare |

I was originally planning to get a bag before my first day but I walked into my local Kate Spade store and figured it didn't hurt to ask if any sales or promotions were coming up soon. It turns out that from August 12th through September 4th, they're offering 20% off any single, full-priced handbag. Enter the promo code FALLBAG11 if you're ordering online, or ask for a coupon in the store.

| Photo Credit: 1–4. See links provided. |

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Cool Kids Are Talking About Spotify

Living on the West Coast, and specifically the Bay Area, comes with certain obligations. One big one is that you're expected to stay up-to-date with all of the techie trends—otherwise you'll risk looking totally ignorant at the next bottomless mimosas brunch. Getting your Google+ invite already seems like ages ago because now my News Feeds seem to be abuzz about Spotify.

I didn't know much about Spotify before trying it out, other than it was a music-streaming service and people were really happy about it. So, like any Bay Area sheep, I signed up to find out what it was all about. To me, the website was pretty unclear after a couple glances in regards to exactly how Spotify was special. They did have this odd graphic that seemed to suggest that music could be consumed like food, but I was too lazy to watch the promo video and decided it was easier to just sign up, start using it, and see what was what. At first impression, Spotify sets itself apart from something like Pandora in that it allows you to customize playlists. There's also a cool social element of being able to send your friends songs or collaborate on playlists. To me, the quality of the streaming is better than some of the media players I've experienced on artist websites or via Bandcamp. I did a quick search upon installation to see if some of my favorite "obscure" artists were available and surprisingly they were. So far it was pretty awesome, and I could clearly see why everyone was getting on the bandwagon.

As I started crafting playlists however, I discovered there were little bits of things that bugged me. For certain albums that were listed as available, I discovered that really only one song from the album was available for streaming (and unsurprisingly as I dug deeper, some of the music I love was not available). Then when I started listening to my playlist, I learned that after every few songs, a series of random audio advertisements were going to be blasted into my ears promoting either the Spotify paid service or artists I didn't care about. No more disruptive than if you were listening to the radio but much more disruptive than if you were listening to an individual album on Bandcamp. (I get that they need to monetize, but there is also plenty of visual advertising space that would not completely disrupt my music-listening experience.) However, if you're used to listening to mainstream music on the radio anyway, then Spotify is a vast improvement for you.

I'll probably still use Spotify pretty often while I am working since the selection is still decent and I like listening to more than one artist in one sitting sometimes, but it's not like Spotify is the best application in the world.

And in case you are wondering exactly what this obscure music is that I've been obsessing over that isn't necessarily all on Spotify, I am an embarrassingly devoted fan to British YouTube musicians. Check out this amazing chap hop song about tea by Professor Elemental here. Or dig deeper into my embarrassing tastes in music here.

| Art Credit: Me. |

Friday, July 29, 2011

A New Project

Hi, readers. I'm sorry about the slow down in posting lately. I've taken on a new project that I love and it's been filling up a lot of my time. I recently signed on to do some work for a social game developer that makes a pretty hidden object game called Gardens of Time. The first part that I helped work on went live last night and I am really excited about it.

Having a blog that's out on the web and getting comments and feedback from readers is already an amazing experience and it's so meaningful to me that I've connected with people all over the world that way. And now, to have something I've worked on professionally be dispersed to millions of players who actively play Gardens of Time daily is almost surreal to me.

Do you play social games on Facebook? If so, which ones? I would love to know if any of my readers also spend time with Facebook games.

| Art Credit: Screenshot from Playdom's Gardens of Time game. |

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Together We're Giant

First of all, thanks to everyone who was entertained by or expressed sympathy for my nachos story last week. You are the best.

Thankfully I made it out of the Giants game without nacho cheese in my hair. In fact, I had a really fun time despite the home team not winning the game. Our seats were in the arcade section, which is the section with only three rows just inside the right foul pole, with McCovey Cove behind it. Because there were so few rows in our section, we developed a good sense of camaraderie in it and everyone was friendly and courteous. I didn't want to hold up my sign too much because I didn't want to block the view of the people behind me. I would recommend this section for people who are enthusiastic but not necessarily rowdy or looking to party in the stands.

Here is a photo of me with my sign and panda hat after the game had just ended. The orange flower pin on my panda hat is something I got at H&M. I thought it would make my hat more Giants-colored.

| Photo Credit: N. Morello, for The Yuppie Lifestyle. |

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Last Time I Went to a Sporting Event

I'm going to my first Giants game tonight and I am pretty stoked. You can read about why I jumped on that bandwagon here.

The last time I attended a pro sporting event was in 2008. I was a little traumatized by what happened to me then, which is why it has been so long since I have attended one. Back in April 2008, we were visiting our good friend Brian in LA when a small handful of VIP tickets to the Lakers games fell into his lap (such things tend to happen to him); Nick was very excited about them so I agreed to go. Our seats were in the first row of the club level, and I could see the back of Jack Nicholson's head not too far away. I'm not a Lakers fan in the slightest but I appreciated that Brian had shared his nice tickets with us. So, I was trying to enjoy the game when suddenly, I felt hands from behind me grabbing at my hair. I turned around and saw that the woman sitting behind me had nacho cheese all over her face and her hands. And because she had decided to use my hair as a towel, my hair was also covered in nacho cheese. I starting crying, I think because I was just so shocked at what had just happened that I didn't know how else to react emotionally. The woman was later firmly encouraged by other people sitting nearby to contain her public drunkenness on account of the children sitting in our section, and the guy she was with sat silently and visibly embarrassed. So, what I can only guess was the situation was that an elderly gentleman had brought a younger woman on a not-so-serious date, and that the woman showed her appreciation by consuming as much alcohol (and nachos) as she could that night.

I get that spills happen at sporting events and I would even expect a spill to happen here or there during an exciting play. But getting so drunk that you get nacho cheese all over yourself and wipe that nacho cheese onto the hair of the person sitting front of you is never okay. I can laugh about the story now though because it was just so outlandish. I'm going to assume that this was a one-time-only occurrence in my life and I am optimistic about being able to enjoy the Giants game tonight from our non-club level seats. I'm very proud of the sign I made and I'll post photos of it next week. Happy weekend!

| Art Credit: Me. |

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Current Favorite Hangout Spot

As someone who has the awesome option of making anywhere with my laptop and an Internet connection my office, it's often hard for me to buckle down and get focused on work when I'm at home. As a result, I find myself spending many hours per day in coffee houses. There is something about the abundance of caffeinated beverages plus being in an environment with other people lost in their own laptop worlds that really helps me get my work done.

Coffee Bar is definitely my favorite daytime hangout spot right now. It's clearly set up with the laptop-toting freelancer in mind. It's a big space with lots of windows and a loft-like feel. There's a much higher ratio of power outlets to seats than I have seen in any other coffee shop. And the place is generous enough to offer free wireless internet.

I think Coffee Bar might come off as slightly intimidating because it's nestled in the gray area between the Mission and Potrero (hence, hipster territory) and when you walk in you'll immediately be faced with rows and rows of MacBooks. However, I have never owned an Apple computer in my life, and I occasionally even have to do work on a dorky client-issued ThinkPad, but I have never once felt shunned. The people who hang out at Coffee Bar are nice, so you'd better be too if you go check it out. The smaller tables are reserved for laptop-free lunch patrons, so coffee-sipping laptop workers sit at either the counters/bars or big communal tables, which I quite like. I've even experienced a table of total strangers establishing a rotation for using the power outlet so that no one's battery got too low.

A couple tips: The food I've had was yummy but be warned that their chipotle mayo packs quite a good punch. The basic espresso menu can be found on the big roll of kraft paper, but also look out for the tiny daily drink specials menu on the little easel by the register. It took me a few times to figure out how other people knew that Vietnamese iced coffee was offered when it wasn't on the big menu.

Here are some of the things I love about Coffee Bar.
  • Free wi-fi.
  • Free parking nearby with no time limits.
  • I like the coffee. It's not in-your-face artisanal like Blue Bottle, but it is satisfying.
  • I also like that they have simple syrup at the cream-and-sugar bar, since cane sugar doesn't exactly dissolve easily in iced coffee.
  • Friendly staff and fellow patrons.
  • Lots of natural light.
  • Lots of power outlets.
  • Pretty latte art. That is how you know your drink was made with love.
  • It is not freezing inside. (I love me my Starbucks, but I'm convinced that every location constantly pumps cold air on customers to get them to not overstay their welcome.)

Do you know any places in the Mission/Castro/Potrero area that meet several of these criteria? If so, leave me your recommendations!

| Photo Credit: Me. |