Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Highlights

As the end of 2014 arrives later this week, these were my personal highlights of the year.

January 28,2014 - Back to Work
After a 3 1/2 year absence, I returned to work full-time.

Job is very challenging yet fulfilling. The work I do is similar to what I've done in the past, but I now apply my previous skills and experience to a new industry - fueling. The majority of my work career has been in retail.

October 4, 2014 - Moved from San Francisco's Outer Sunset to Lakeside.

What I lost in parking and lack of storage, I gained in a bigger living space (including my bedroom), closer commute to work, and a 44% increase in cash flow because I share the rent of the house with a roommate.

October 29, 2014 - San Francisco Giants, 3rd World Series title in 5 years.

As they did in 2010 and 2012, the Giants were the underdogs against each opponent they faced in the 2014 post-season.

Defense, small ball, and a pitcher named Madison prevailed.

Wishing everyone a warm, joyous, safe and Happy New Year for 2015.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation - favorites of all time

From the late 1980's to the late 1990's, I'd buy tickets to see the latest animated films at Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation. For many years in San Francisco, it was held at The Palace of Fine Arts.

These film festivals first got me acquainted with my favorite claymation team, Wallace and Gromit. Other than the Wallace and Gromit films, I really looked forward to the encore presentation of audience favorites from previous festivals. For me, two of them stand out.

Bambi vs. Godzilla:

and, Snookles, the Baby Dragon and Little Bird:

The last festival I attended was in the late 1990's. These days, you can go to Spike and Mike's website to see the latest entries for a nominal fee.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

New PBA Season, Different Format

source: PBA
From L to R: Dick Allen, Brad Angelo, Anthony Pepe, Liz Johnson 
Today marked the 2014-15 opening season for the PBA on ESPN. The season opener started with the Cheetah Championship. Congratulations to Anthony Pepe, who won his first PBA title on TV.

For those of you that follow ESPN's PBA broadcasts, you'll notice the format is different. In previous years, it was a 2-hour stepladder format. A viewer would see the top 5 seeds bowl. 

The first match would feature the #5 seed bowl against the #4 seed. The winner of that match would then bowl the #3 seed. It goes up the "stepladder" until the final match, which is against the #1 seed. On occasion (and pretty exciting to see) a #5 seed work his way up and defeat the top seed.

At least for today's and next week's match, these are the major changes:
  • Broadcast time is cut in half, from 2 hours to 1.
  • The top 4 seeds (rather than 5) bowl the finals on TV.
  • The #2, #3 and #4 seeds bowl each other in a 1-game match. Winner of that match meets the #1 seed in the finals.
As a big fan of the PBA tour and the broadcasts, I don't like it. Especially the reduction in air time from 2 hours to 1. 

I know these matches have to compete with the much more popular and lucrative NFL, NBA and NHL games, but that's why I have a DVR. It enables me to watch the matches at a later time. Die hard bowling fans will say this is why I should subscribe to Xtra Frame. For $64.99/year, I may very well do that.

Based on the Xtra Frame preview (see below) of how the finalists made it to today's show, this big bowling fan might be so inclined.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Translink to Clipper: All-in-One Payment System?

Not long after I moved from the Outer Sunset to Lakeside, I attended my first offsite, informal work-related dinner in downtown San Francisco.

I could have driven directly to the restaurant and cough up about $10 to park in a nearby garage.

But as I now live only a block away from the 'M' Muni Metro stop at 19th Avenue and Holloway Boulevard, I opt for the greener, more economical way to go downtown. I reach into my wallet and pull out a little used Translink card I got about 5-6 years ago.

After I boarded the MUNI Metro streetcar, I tapped the card on the reader 3 times. No luck. A female passenger nicely explained to me Translink cards no longer work on the readers. I then walked up to the front of the car to pay cash for the fare. I didn't have correct change and $5 was the smallest bill I had. Without getting anyone in trouble, all I'll say was that I was able to stay on board.

Once I finished dinner and headed for home, I immediately went to a kiosk at Montgomery Street station and purchased a Clipper card. I walk up to the gate, tap card, wait in boarding area, board street car, and make it home safe and sound.

I go to the Clipper website the next day. I live in the one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. Here's what I find out when I'm at Clipper's website.
  • I can't transfer funds online from the old Translink card to the new Clipper card.
  • If I cancel the Translink card, I'll lose any remaining funds on it.
  • If I choose to transfer funds, I have to call Customer Service to have this done.
  • I call Customer Service. They confirm transfer can be done. But I'll be charged a $5 processing fee. So what was $13.75 remaining on my Translink card will be $8.75.
Are you serious? 

All this because my Translink card no longer works, despite Clipper's claims otherwise. 

Please fix this. If nothing else, waive the $5 transfer fee. This experience only reinforces the poor reputation the San Francisco Bay Area public transportation systems always seem to have.