Friday, December 05, 2008

Dreams in the city

Dreams. There are sleeping dreams. There are hoping dreams. Sometimes they are magical, other times scary. I don't usually remember my dreams, they are mostly abstract and gray. When I remember them, I do because I dream about them over and over again as if they want to leave a mark in my memory. Some of them happy dreams, a few are sensual, and some are frigthening. What I want someday, is to dream not just in abstracts and gray tones but also in visually rich scene and in glorious colors. ~ral

(The picture above is the first iteration of my Dreams project in my design class. It is a woven black and white photo of Christmas lights. I had set the lens to out of focus. The focal point is an acrylic painting of a flower. )

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sad rainy day in the city

It bothers me that I am still mad. I am not at all like this.

This great state of California voted to add more rights to chickens, pigs and other farm animals and then took away the right to marry from gay people.

What were you thinking 'progressive' California? So sad.


(The photo above is from my latest project using stamps from my journeys to unforgettable places.)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Un gorro azul en la ciudad

Estoy sentando
esperando por mijo
nos dimos
que vamos a quedar aqui
en un lugar
que nos encanta
donde hemos venido
por algunas veces

hace frio afuera
por eso, voy al adentro
hay muchas sillas, mesas
algunas personas estan comiendo
no se si tengo hambre o sed?
estoy cansado
sobre muchas cosas
estoy pensando en el trabaho proyekto, escuela
ordeno algo
finalmente, mijo llego
esta llevando un gorro azul

me dijo lo siento
por veni tarde
le sonrei
de repente, estoy relajado


(La foto la sacaron en un bar en la ciudad de San Francisco)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Design class in the City

Here's my final design for the Scale project.

This is the third pass. After the first critique in class, I decided to remove the red shoe in the middle of the lower left side and added more detail by adding the smaller-than-life images of the shoes with legs in color. This adds more balance to the overall design, I think.

The larger-than-life suede shoe brings out the details of the leather material not generally seen by people – the grain, the creases, and the dirt. The same thing can be said about our lives. We see the details of a person, whether good or shocking, by close inspection.

The larger-than-life suede shoe is a black and white photograph taken using a 100mm macro lens and printed on a 12x18 matte paper. The smaller-than-life colored images are cut outs from 4x7 photos and then glued into the 12x18 paper to create a montage. The black and white photo of the suede shoe is larger-than-life and is proportional. By using a 100mm macro lens, I was able to keep the proportions. The colored photos are smaller-than-life and are proportional as well.

The tactile texture of the suede material is made obvious by the larger-than-life size.

The primary element is the large scale. It brings out the tactile textures of the suede leather. The secondary element is the balance that is created by the colored cut-out pictures with the black-and-white photo. The tertiary element is the amorphous shapes that are present in the montage. Another tertiary element is the lines created by the outline between the black and white and the colored photos.


(The photo above is my final design for the Scale project in my Design 101 class at the city college.)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sounds of the City

It is amazing how listening to a portable music player creates a whole new surrounding for the listener making him or her detached from the real world. While enjoying the music being played in the device, it makes that person miss out on the noise and sounds of the true environment. Based on my personal experience, it is a mix almost being run over by a reckless driver and partly losing my hearing because the volume was inadvertently set to max a couple of times! My honey has also complained that this is why I keep missing his calls.

There are days I didn't have my device on because of my forgetfullness to always recharge, recharge, recharge. If it is any consolation, I had a wonderful, sometimes life-changing, experience listening to the sound the city reverberates and also the conversations I didn't fail to overhear.


How nice it is to hear the clacking sound of shoes against the concrete city sidewalks.


(Overheard inside a high-end store in Union Square between a Sales Associate and a shopper).
SA: Is someone already helping you?
Customer: No, not really.
SA: Do you have any questions?
Customer: Uhm, I'm just looking around to see the things that I can live without!


(Overheard inside the city's SPCA - Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
SPCA: Do you already have a pet?
Visitor: No, we don't
. Oh, actually, we do. (The adult looking down at the kids next to him.)
Kids: (Giggles and then laughter)


The chic violinist and her hipnotic piece on the corner of Geary and Stockton in front of Neimann Marcus.


(A group of friends inside a newly-opened Filipino restaurant in the Castro district).
This is what I call a 'dressed-up' traditional Filipino cuisine.


(Overheard while walking down Market street between a young man and a young woman).
YW: Do you like older women?
YM: No, not really.
YW: It's just that I've always seen you with older women, that's why.
YM: I like them all.


(Adult with a little kid while getting out of a subway station. In Spanish!)
No lo sale.
(It won't come out - referring to the ticket).


(Overheard inside the J-train. A guy talking on his cell phone).
I'm on the J. I'll be there in half an hour (pause)
I have a movie called The Scandal. IT sounds good (pause)
Sorry I don't have anything to eat at my apartment and I just had brunch with friends (pause)
I only have ice cubes (pause)
Bring yourself something to eat like a snack.


(Overheard while waiting in line for a movie at the Metreon. A guy talking to another guy.)
Oh my god! I'm so busy. If I'm not working long hours, I go to the gym. Work, gym, work, gym, work, gym or I sleep-in.



(This photo was taken at the SF Museum of Modern Art on a Thursday evening.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Herb Garden in the City

My herb garden upclose.

It is almost mid-summer and all my herbs have fully grown. With the exception of thyme or maybe sage, they will have run their natural course and wilt by the first frost of late fall or early winter. So I decided to frame them while they're at the peak of their growth. I didn't include the rosemary and lavender because, eventhough they are part of the garden, they are not part of that little corner called my 'herb garden'.

Here they are... drum roll please...

I planted them in my strawberry-pot a year ago and then I added some more herbs like savory and marjoram to make the pot look fuller. Thyme is good for seasoning blend for poultry, fish sauces and soups. It is often paired with tomatoes.

I think I have three varieties of tomatoes this year. Unfortunately, Cherry Red is the only one I remember. I love adding tomatoes in my salad, and is the main ingriedient in salsa. It is also great for making home made sauces for pasta dishes.

Sage has a fragrant aroma and a warm flavor.
I usually sprinkle a small amount of chopped sage in my focaccia bread dough just before baking. Sometimes I use this when grilling meats, poultry or fish. Use this sparringly as its flavor can overwhelm the foods' taste.

This is the first time I planted chamomille. I haven't experimented with the uses of this herb but I heard it is good for making teas. I am supposed to trim the flowers to encourage leaf growth but I decided to leave the flowers. They're pretty, I think.

I use Parsley mainly as a garnish. It has that sour, tangy flavor just like green mangoes. It mostly used in Greek salads.
Chopped parsley also enhances the flavor of garlic fries and herb pasta.

Cilantro is popular in Mexican and Asian dishes. Its pungent taste and smell spread quickly inside the kitchen you can almost always tell someone is chopping cilantro.
I use it for making salsa and for shrimp or chicken soup.

Mint is also popular in Asian dishes especially in Vietnamese cuisine. Personally, I think crushed mint leaves are perfect for making a cocktail called mojito.

Oregano is best used with vinegar for pickling onions, cucumbers, lettuce, etc. Mijo uses this for a Salvorian condiment called 'cortido' which is similar in taste as kimchi.

I have seen Chives used to tie crepes or to decorate wraps. Since I don't have savvy culinary skills, I basically use Chives as a garnish to dishes where onions and garlic are used.


(These photos were taken in my backyard I call Herbs in the City.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Familiar scenes

Someone has been in the house.

I can tell by the smell that lingered in the living room. A familiar scent.

A work bag, folded newspapers and a pair of worn out black shoes all placed directly under the cityscape wall art. This is a familiar scene.

The backdoor is ajar.

The flower pots by the stairs, the jasmine planter, the spanish lavender, all newly hosed down. Another familiar scene.

Today's mail on the coffee table. Someone came home early, perhaps?

I tip toed my way through our abode and saw mijo, still in his work clothes, taking his treasured nap in the bedroom.

How I wish I had a camera handy to capture this picturesque, fleeting moment.


(The picture above is the inverted cube of the newly opened Contemporary Jewish Museum on Yerba Buena lane in San Francisco.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Salamat sa Diyos at Biyernes na

Kausap ko si Mama sa telepono nang tumawag ang Salvadoran. Mula nung pumanaw si Papa, naisip ko na palagiang tawagan si Mama tuwing biyernes. Tutal, telecommute naman ako nang araw na yun. Nakakatuwa lang, di kami nauubusan ng kuwento. Ang laging bungad ni Mama pag-angat ng telepono ay ang American boy. Tumatagal yung kuwentuhan namin ng kalahating oras. Nakakausap ko rin ang kapatid kong si Nene kapag nataon na nasa bahay siya. Huwag nyo na lang itanong kung magkano ang phone bill ko kada buwan.

Sabi ko sa Salvadoran na tawagan ko ulit siya mamaya kasi kausap ko mama ko. Alam niyang aabutin ng siyam siyam ang usapan namin kaya nag-text na lang siya. Magkita daw kami sa harap ng GAP sa Powell.

Pagkatapos ng isang oras at kalahati, nasa harap na ako ng Gap. Kinakapa ko yung cell phone ko para tawagan siya na andito na ako nang may nakita ako sa di kalayuan. Sa gitna ng mga tourista, empleyado sa opisina, at mamimili - agad ko siyang natanaw.

Tumayo na lang muna ako sa isang sulok patuloy na nagmasid sa malayo nang tumunog ang cell phone ko. Nagtatanong ang Salvadoran kung nasaan na raw ako. Bigla akong napangiti.


(Ang larawan sa itaas ay ang tulay na ang tawag ay Bay Bridge sa San Francisco.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Un día peresozo

No tengo prisa.
Por eso, estoy caminando más despacio.

Estoy relajado.
No voy a inquietarse.

No tengo ganas de trabajar hoy.
¿No sé porqué?

Quiero pasar un tiempo con mi amor solamente.

Uno de esos diás.


(Saque la foto en la esquina de O'Farrel y Stockton en la ciudad de San Francisco en un día primavera preciosa.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

LensWork issue #75

He knew that if he steps inside the store, he'll end up buying something. Eventhough his conviction says otherwise, the flesh is weak for he still pushed through the glass doors and marched directly to the magazine stands where the current issue of Lens Work awaits.

There was a tiny voice reminding him to focus on his test prep review sessions and this photography journal will be nothing but a distraction. He developed a deaf ear, as if having a diversion will add value to his more pressing tasks.

He bought a copy and left the store thinking how will he ever get out of this vicious cycle.

(Above is a photo of a French bistro in San Francisco's sleepy neighborhood of Glen Park.)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Book signing in the city

I was browsing in the non-fiction book section when, suddenly, there was a crowd congregating around me. To my left, to my right, behind me. I looked around curiously trying to fish for information on what the buzz is all about. A bookstore staff made a signal to another one and yelled he needed a chair. Under the sign Three Cups of Tea, a table with neatly arranged stacks of books and a fellow dressed in business casual is kneeling on the floor with a pen on his right hand. Yet another book signing, I thought to myself.

There were two names listed as the authors of the book. Fearing I might get a negative reaction, I didn't bother asking which one of the authors is he. I tried deciphering the texts he was scribbling that maybe it will give me a clue to his identity but my vision failed me.

I spent another minute or two lurking around the area. I noticed that this author is different from the other ones I've seen. He smiles as if he's really happy about what he is doing, no signs of pretensions, he seems like very sincere. I took a note of the book in my books to checkout list with the thought that I might get lucky that a signed copy will land at the main library.


(The photo above is the ornate Roxie theatre located on 16th St and Valencia in the Mission district of the city.)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Malloy Hall, 203

The damp and frigid wind whipped my face as I walk up the stairs of Malloy Hall. I was almost running to reach the main entrance not because I was late for my appointment but I was trying to get inside where there is heat. It was also strangely windy on Fulton St. which made using an umbrella completely futile. It must be the wind tunnel created by the massive facade of St. Ignatius church, where its towers dominate the sky in this part of town.

USF is one of the five local schools of my choice. I had sent an RSVP to their MBA office two weeks earlier to get my name on their list for the MBA simulation class. Conversing with other attendees made my natural competitiveness come alive. Although I was kind of disappointed with myself for making jeans part of my wardrobe that morning. I learned everyone has already taken the GMAT except me.

We were grouped by four per table to mimic the 'case' style teaching employed at the university. In the next two hours, a professor eloquently shared a simple business model and the case we were supposed to brainstorm on. I could hear my thick accent whenever I ask the professor for a clarification, my uncontrolled nerves perhaps. The other group presented their case well but my group would eventually give the correct business solution for the given problem which provided me an instant high. The exercise was totally mind stimulating and gave me confidence that I can do this.

At the end of the session was the Q&A. I also learned that, even if I take my GMAT in the next weeks, I still won't be able to produce all the requirements. It would be cutting it too close since the admissions office is probably at the last round of selection. I decided not to submit my personal information. At least not yet.

I have an appointment with the San Francisco State University's equivalent program this weekend. I set in my calendar that November is my deadline.

Let's wait and see.
(The photo above is the St. Ignatius church of the University of San Francisco.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Party's over, back to the grind

Monday officially marked the beginning of 2008 for me. Everyone at work is back from vacation, the first full week. We had our first production install, the next one's migrated to testing, so is the one for the business release. Questions here and there. Countless emails and phone calls. The good news is that I survived it.

Monday was also the beginning of a five year plan and this plan is something I've been contemplating for a while now. I went to the main library on the weekend to pick up the books I requested online - Business School Confidential, Your MBA Gameplan, and MBA Jungle B-School Survival guide. I plan to finish reading them in the next two weeks. Sounds serious, doesn't it?

With the way the hitech industry is going these days, the job market for programmers and developers seem going into a slump, the Salvadoran and I decided that I should commence working on it before our skills become extinct. Instead of competing against cheaper hitech labor elsewhere, we should jump into the bandwagon of professionals going back to school to get a graduate degree.

Reading through the first five chapters of the MBA Jungle book made me feel a mixed sense of excitement, challenge, confidence and maybe a little bit of fear. Let's see how far I'll go in this. I'll find out soon whether this is right for me, or not. I am giving myself a year to prepare both mentally and financially. In the meantime, I enrolled in a non-credit Small Business evening course at the city college.

My plans to become proficient in French, Italian and photography will have to take a back seat for now.

(The photo above is the newly opened library branch in the Glen Park neighborhood of San Francisco.)

My brithday is still a couple of months away but here's a list of books in a newly created Amazon wishlist. (take a hint guys!) :)

If the link above does not work, please use this one.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

¡Qué relajo! in the city

¡Qué relajo! is an expression I hear from mijo* whenever I take over the kitchen on Monday evenings. It loosely translates to what a mess in English. First, this blog is not about this. This blog is about the storm that almost topple the pine tree in our backyard.Second, I only cook on Monday evenings because I work from home on Mondays and Fridays - but we seldom make dinner on Fridays. Third, I know that I don't owe anyone an explanation but let me do it anyway.

It is not that I am messy in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, I consider myself well organized when it comes to that. I just need room to move around when I cook, that's all. And the kitchen we have is a
city kitchen. No aisle, we only have one sink, a big enough counter space, etc. We have to live in 'burbs to have my dream kitchen. Besides, breakfast, desserts and hors d'œuvre are my cup of tea.

He has another expression when he's really being teritorial of his kitchen especially the last time I made focaccia bread...

¡Qué dispije!

And that's what it looks like outside after Northern California got walloped by a hurricane-like storm a couple of days ago. I've never seen anything like it in my ten years of living here. A tree a couple of doors down got toppled. Dead leaves, branches, empty plastic bottles, small junk everywhere. Three blocks down the street close to the BART station, another tree got uprooted and it ruined the sidewalk around it.

During the storm, the power went out before noon. It was on a Friday so I was working from home and I had to call in to tell everyone in the office that I am unable to continue working because of the power outage and will just resume when the power is back. Almost half a million homes didn't power that day.

Major cabin fever at home because it was cold, dark, damp, and there was nothing to do. No tv, no wi-fi so no internet, and no music so we headed to the malls, where it is warm and lit and dry, as soon as the winds died down. To our surprise, the mall was crowded. People must have thought the same thing we did. We ended up seeing a good movie called
The Orphanage. Later that day, I called our home phone and I got the phone's voicemail which means power is back in our neighborhood.

I'm just thankful that there wasn't a single damage in the house and our pine tree still stands. It was a fast moving storm so everything was quiet again after it left.

The city public works crew will have a busy time cleaning up the mess.


*In case you still don't know,
mijo is a contraction of mi hijo. You know spanish, they make a lot of things sound cute. :)

(The photo above is a scene in the city's sleepy neighborhood of Glen Park.)