Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Large Bread Sighted in California!

Teensy weensy bread is one of my pet peeves about California. Artisan this, multigrain that, but none of it big enough to make a real sandwich. For $4-5 dollars a loaf, I expect it to come with a free toaster. I was pleasantly surprised by the veggie burger at the Wild Plum Cafe in Monterey. Not only is it a double burger with so many fixin's you have to attack it from different angles, it comes on a giant-sized bun that looks like a bun/bread hybrid.

Now if only I can get some shipped up to Berkeley!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lydia's Restaurant in Fairfax Closing

Sad news for all of us vegetarian and organic restaurant fans: Lydia's Lovin' Foods is closing on Monday. According to her website:

Dear Lovin’ Customers,
I will be closing the restaurant portion of my business effective Monday, January 22, 2007. I have decided to focus more attention to my nationally known dehydrated foods company and the festivals and fairs we have catered for years. Lydia’s Lovin Foods will, however, still is available to cater events and parties in the bay area as well.

This was a tough decision as I am grateful to all of my loyal and devoted customers. I want to thank you for all of your support and patronage throughout the years

Many blessings and love,

Lydia Kindheart
Lydia’s Lovin’ Foods

We will miss this wonderful place.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

2006 Roundup - Shark-Jumping Edition

The last couple of years, it's seemed to me that certain companies, sites, people, and so on have clearly jumped the shark -- timed nicely to coincide with the end of the year. So let's take a moment to reflect on the 2006 jumpees.

Salon.com: Went from a daily destination site to something akin to a visit to the dentist, mostly due to their "Day Pass" system. I have to turn off half a dozen flash blocking, ad blocking, and Greasemonkey scripts even to see the Day Pass ad. Some article pages still won't load on the first try. The process is onerous enough that I only visit about once a week, opening up a dozen or two tabs. Then if I don't finish them within the prescribed time, or the browser crashes, the whole machine grinds to a halt as these dozens of pages all constantly reload themselves.

Microsoft: Do I even need to elaborate here? Vista. DRM. Free laptops for bloggers. All that "Live" business. Has a monopoly ever imploded so completely from its own actions rather than external forces? (Regardless of the money still rolling in.)

Photoshop: As someone with an Intel iMac, I'm faced with Photoshop CS2 that wants me to do all my file manipulation in the Bridge, yet the Bridge takes tons more memory and is far slower than Photoshop CS with the File Browser. Plus it's not a Universal Binary, so the slowness is multiplied. The only potentially compelling feature for me is HDR -- slow again. Perhaps CS3 can un-jump this shark...

Online air travel booking: Try to book a flight through any online consolidator. Get past pages that won't load, date widgets that don't display properly, and bad input fields. Get waylaid by links saying there is a better fare, or other flight times. Find out that those other options cost more because of bogus extra charges, or involve several stopovers. Finally make a decision, only to find out that the system breaks down because you had different tabs open for the same site, or you left a page up for more than 10 minutes. Repeat about 30 times. That's my experience this year, anyway.

Air travel in general: This liquids business is really the last straw. Half a dozen people in England had a plot that they didn't actually carry out, so everyone in Duluth and San Antonio has to throw out their bottled water and suntan lotion? This is the same administration that's talking about building a moon base, right? How will that work if all the astronauts have to keep taking off their space boots and venting all their liquids and who knows what else because of some terrorist plot in 2015 in Fiji?

Slashdot: The reader comments used to add details, perspectives, and alternative links over and above the linked articles. Not anymore. Better to find articles via Digg and ignore the comment sections altogether.

The word "sectarian": How did I manage to make it through university and into the 21st century without hearing that word used in a non-pompous sentence? Gee, maybe it's the most obscure way possible of talking about religious violence, religious fanaticism, fanatical religious violence... You'd think an administration that loves to talk about faith-based this and that wouldn't try to bury the word "religion"...

Gossip columns: Note to every syndicated gossip column in the world. No one outside the UK cares about Jude Law and Sienna Miller, Posh and Becks, or any other narcissistic British demi-celebrities. Note to every place that reprints these columns: stop recycling this British drivel. Also, spare us from the dispatches from every D-lister's publicist. "Rising star ___ was spotted cuddling and kissing ___ at dinner. They weren't even trying to hide it, said a source." Oh for the days of alt.showbiz.gossip.

Political reporting: Just take the last item and substitute "major daily newspaper", "White House officials", and "GW Bush" where appropriate. I hear in the NY Times that GW got bad advice from generals in Iraq and now has to deal with their bad planning. Anonymous senior officials say so. Careful not to mix in Jude Law and Sienna Miller by mistake guys.

New York Times movie reviews: What's with this trend of movie reviewers who think the way to write a review is to summarize every single plot twist and then give away the ending? You know, the kind that say, "...but then the best friend turns out to be a Russian spy, and the hero's wife leaves him for the dentist, and in the end the killer gets away". The New York Times takes the prize for this technique. Even when they're not actually reviewing a movie, they can't help themselves. I ready the NY Times retrospective on Robert Altman, and had to give up after it tried to make some point by saying how several of his movies ended. Hey, ever consider some of us have yet to see some of these movies?

Google: Hasn't definitively jumped the shark, but is showing signs. The press has stopped talking about how clever their strenuous hiring process is, and now focuses on how the system doesn't work so well for anyone over 30 or anyone already working who doesn't have the time to pursue the drawn-out interview process. The business of selling vested options could be seen as an innovative, or as a sign of major discontent among post-IPO hires. And now right at the end of the year, many legitimate bloggers find that their sites are pushed way down the rankings, and Google gives different results depending on which data center you happen to hit. Some people's GMail data gets nuked. The saving grace(s) are: Blogger and Maps continue to improve, and the second-tier search sites don't make much of an impact despite a lot of press hype. Today's San Francisco Chronicle follows the lives of some ex-Googlers, and their reasons for leaving sound like a shark of some kind is involved.

New York Times regular columnists: First was "Times Select" where you couldn't read the regular columnists without signing up and paying. Then some bloggers re-posted the columns, but the Times came down on anyone who did that regularly. Then any buzz around the columnists completely evaporated -- I still find links elsewhere to Times Select articles, but rarely if ever to Times Select op-ed columns.

Now it wasn't my intention to bash the New York Times particularly, but I see they've made several appearances on my list for various reasons. So perhaps they should win the award for "broadest" shark-jumping, alongside Microsoft which I would say did the "deepest" shark jump.