The Bay is not the Great Barrier Reef but you can learn to scuba dive right in town or in Monterey at the Bamboo Reef Dive Centers. Start with online studies then graduate to an orientation in heated pools, followed by a schedule of classes (evenings, weekends or private). To become certified you need to participate in four dives in Monterey Bay. (I mistakenly thought it was too murky to see anything.)$299.50 plus $100 for an Open Water Digital Kit. Price includes equipment rental.
Boil your own bagels. Why not since there’s a class this Saturday at noon in, of all places, La Victoria Mexican Bakery in the heart of the Mission. Learn to work with a wild yeast starter culture in class creating your own sesame, onion and poppy seed bagels. Bring a covered container to carry your bagels home where you can boil and bake them in under 30 minutes. 2 hour class. $80. As far as bakery-made bagels in the Bay Area the competition is heating up. For my money the best (least doughy) is at Beauty Bagels in Oakland.
Single ladies who find the President attractive are not invited to “Beyond Narcissistic Womanizers”, a dating event at Monroe, a North Beach dance/lounge, this Saturday at 8. Meet men who claim they respect women, support their rights, have not been charged in court with groping and are not billionaires. $20 at the door.
Lean back in satisfying smugness on the new SMART train as you pass the poor schlubs stuck in Petaluma traffic. The rail line zips you smoothly from San Rafael to Santa Rosa in about an hour, gliding by tract homes, acres of Bay wetlands, voluptuous Sonoma hills, abandoned barns, historic stations, on tracks that were laid down almost 150 years ago before automobiles changed everything. SMART cars are uncrowded, quiet and relaxing with racks for your bike. $4.76 one way with your senior Clipper Card. Beer and wine sales to come as is a link to Larkspur Landing in 2019. Its funding was just approved by Congress. In Santa Rosa step back a century in the McDonald Historic District whose glorious residences deserve to be landmarked.
No chance back in the smoke-filled sixties I would have believed anyone who predicted a future parade along Highway 80 of billboards extolling the merits of various brands of cannabis. But here we are with every town and village having at least one medical marijuana dispensary. Despite my efforts to take it all in stride I am still gobsmacked. I’m told 500 folks are members of the cannabis club at Rossmore, for god’s sake. And now I am partaking of this funky new world myself. Hoping to improve my erratic sleep patterns I signed up with an organization providing therapeutic weed to seniors. To qualify I had a Skype interview with a supposed physician who asked me if I ever experienced anxiety. Hello, have you noticed who’s occupying the White House? Five minutes and $39 on my MasterCard later I was legal. The vape I received and tried when insomnia reared its restless head, offered a gentle buzz but did not stop me from rising and micturating during the night. I am a skeptic about the efficacy of these treatments but I can’t argue with people suffering from much more serious conditions who find relief with the right proportions of THC and CBD.
You can see it from Mt.Diablo. It punches through the skyline viewed from the Legion of Honor. The Salesforce Tower reigns over the City despite widespread confusion about exactly what kind of business happens inside it. As far as architectural merit I am not so sure. I can’t help noticing the similarity between it and a Clorex Bleach Pen.
Breaking my vow to no longer discuss the subject of traffic I have to say I find the sites telling me where the jams are happening to be unreliable. Last weekend 511.org without hesitation told me it would take 29 minutes to get to Sausalito. It took an hour and a quarter.
Anyone else as hooked as I am on AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire”? As a picture of life down the Peninsula it is far more believable, informative and better written than the cartoonish “Silicon Valley.” I can almost follow the impassioned, motor mouth dialog tracking the birth of search engines, sharing the thrill of tech disruption. Speaking of cable tv, would some please explain to me the economics of these productions. Does my HBO subscription really help cover the $9 billion spent on filming these shows?
The recent debilitating heat waves were tough on seniors like me who found the higher temperatures uncomfortable, sending me to the sofa for a series of mid-day siestas. Puzzling why so many older folks in this country choose to retire in climes like this, in the sizzling desert environs of Arizona and sweaty, tropical Florida. I guess anything is better than another winter in Wisconsin.
Speaking of weather, it’s been a season of non-stop natural disasters which reminds me the Bay Area is overdue for a shakeup. Hope you’ve got all your seismic supplies in hand and your neighborhood has rehearsed responding to a quake. Our street’s annual event is called Fake-A-Shake.
Despite the fog there’s been another incredible bounty of tomatoes this season. Fortunately I never suffer from caprese salad fatigue.
By historic (or at least Hollywood) accounts the years when Spain then Mexico ruled California were marked by non-stop partying at vast rancheros. One of the few of these sites remaining is the 6-acre Peralta Hacienda (once part of 45,000 acre Rancho San Antonio) now nearly swallowed by Oakland’s Fruitvale District. It is a park with one 1870 farmhouse remaining from the 22 original structures. Mexican dance concerts and classes take place there on Monday nights. Nearby beyond a wooded slope is a short stretch of the original creek.
Chamber music is best heard in a chamber rather than a massive concert hall. Preferably even in a spiritual space. This Sunday at 5 treat yourself to the Mahlerfest, including Song of a Wayfarer, in the Noe Valley Ministry on Sanchez Street. Tickets from $25-100. Built in 1881 this congregation has been the venue since 1983 of notably curated musical creativity in all forms. This fall’s schedule includes Blues and Classical Persian concerts as well as Balinese shadow puppets.
Sporty seniors looking for an activity that won’t result in dislocated hips might want to consider taking up the historic sport of billiards. (It originated in 18th century France.) The San Francisco Billiard Academy will teach you basics such as stance, aim, stop/follow/draw, side spin and strategies. They offer 8-ball and 9-ball clinics and if you are already fairly skilled, courses to become a certified billiard instructor. $75 for a four-hour course at the location of your choice.
Pedal for provolone, manchego, various triple crèmes, etc. at this Saturday’s Tour de Fromage, a bike caravan with stops at artisanal cheese shops. Kickoff is at 10:30 at McLaren Lodge by the eastern entrance to Golden Gate Park. Last stop is at 4:30. Shops include Spanish Table, Epicurean Trader and Wingtip. BYOB (Bring your own bike) $20.
Remind yourself of our oceanic history this Saturday from 9:30 to 5 at the Hyde Street Pier in Maritime Park. It’s this year’s edition of the annual Festival of the Sea and despite its “High Tech on the High Seas” theme it’s focus is on traditional naval activities such as knot tying, rope making, rigging and non-stop music on three stages that leans towards sea chanteys. Plus living history performers, crafts and food. Free.