Category Archives: General

Nike Missile Sites

Bay Area Nike Missile Sites

They’re everywhere.

I had my first contact with a Nike missile site a few years ago, riding in the Marin Headlands. Thought it was interesting and novel.

We had another contact this last weekend on Angel Island, where there’s a launch and control site pair, which got me doing research. There are five launch/control site pairs (10 sites total) within San Francisco, Angel Island, and the Marin Headlands. On my first ride up Mt Sutro a few months ago, I wandered to the top of the mountain, found an empty-ish site with fresh landscaping, later found vague text about it being a military radar site. Turns out it was SF-89C, the radar control site for launch site SF-89L in the Presidio, just a few blocks from Patricia’s place.

Another launch site is at Fort Funston, controlled from a site on San Bruno Mt, where I was riding last week. I spent time staring at the map before the ride, trying to figure out what the site was, since it seemed anomalous.

Another standard ride up to Hawk Hill crests at another control site, paired to a launch site at Fort Cronkhite. There are actually two launch sites in this Marin Headlands valley, on each side of the lagoon. I ride by the southern one.

I think I care partly because they’re way more common than I thought, partly because the original Nike Atlas missiles were later upgraded to the Nike Hercules, capable of carrying nuclear warheads. I’m startled by the realization that we potentially (probably) had nuclear warheads and short-range missiles stationed so close to major metropolitan areas.

And that I can now walk up to and stand on the launch bay doors of multiple launch sites short rides away.

SF Golden Gate Daily Tide Chart

China Beach starfish

Sometimes it’s small things that make one happy.

I have a slowly-building interest in meteorological happenings around SF- rain, wind, tides. I also have a Treo 650 with a browser. Seems like a great match, right? You’re out on your bike, end up at Ocean Beach, and you think, wow, lots of beach showing, and you wonder, how low is the tide?

At least, I do, but there’s some evidence that I may be in the minority on this one.

So you pull the Treo out of your jersey pocket, looking for an instant-info hit, tap the NOAA tide predictions web page, and… 15 minutes and two reboots later, you get the answer. Not exactly instant. More of a low thud at that point.

So I figured out the NOAA URL formats last night, found some JavaScript, and, voila… tidal gratification, attached to ‘T’ on the Treo.

Pretty fun, even if not that complex. Instant info on whether the starfish will be showing at Baker Beach, if China Beach is accessible from Baker, whether the Sausalito houseboats will be floating or mired in mud when we ride by, whether Mill Valley will be sandbagging the roads.

Nerding out on Bill Frisell

Surprisingly cool- jazz guitar, some country/bluegrass, some world music. Nothing threatening or overly challenging, but none of the typical sappiness or cop-out resolutions of smooth jazz. Am shuffling through East/West, Good Dog, Happy Man, and The Intercontinentals at the moment.

Links to Amazon or iTunes (the iTunes link may not work on Windows).

New caffeine delivery tools

Charles and Lee 04

Charles came up last night for dinner and general hanging-out. We spent a little time on my new kitchen acquisitions- a Rancilio Silvia espresso maker and associated Rocky grinder (photos here). I think this is a current icon of the techno-yuppie set- the combination is not cheap ($700 for the pair), there are numerous instructions around for hacking Silvia with excruciatingly accurate temperature controllers, it delivers addictively good cappuccino, and there’s plenty of room for nerding out at even higher levels.

Charles brought up another techno-yuppie item, a Nikon D100 digital SLR. I love the feel of an SLR, even though it took me a minute to remember how to manually zoom (“where’s the zoom buttons?”). But I’m really not looking forward to learning yet another interface, and retooling for bigger image files. Access to RAW files is attractive, though; the ability to change exposure and white balance in Photoshop, versus in real-time on the camera, is WAY cool. Time-consuming, but cool.

At Esalen for Patricia’s birthday

Patricia and I drove down to Esalen on the Big Sur coast for her birthday- left Friday, back Sunday evening. It was a good trip, including the Nepenthe gift shop (am three for three in finding interesting clothing there, plus a birthday gift for Patricia).

We just hung out for the weekend eating, sleeping, and soaking, no seminars. Met Wes Niskar (Scoop), teaching on Zen for Cynics, and Ayo from LA, doing a weekend on African percussion, with a side hobby of sitting through timeshare sales pitches for sport and profit.

Esalen is interesting- larger than I thought, more of a community (150 guests plus a reported 150 staff and seminar leaders), less new-age Californian. It doesn’t stand out as it used to; much of its sensibility has been absorbed into the general population. It feels like a summer camp for adults- a mix of 20-somethings working there, and older yuppies who can afford the seminar fees and like the subject matter.

The mineral baths are a much bigger deal than I realized. They have the coolest tub house I’ve seen- luscious smooth concrete construction, tasteful arches and shapes, infinity pools overlooking the ocean, tile floors heated by spring water. I’m not much for soaking, but this was cool.

Esalen has an interesting history, starting as Slates Hot Springs, their geographical name, though it looks like they have changes ahead. They have a named massage style (which everyone else in the world probably already knows). I found it much more stretchy and connecting than other massages I’ve had.

And… googling on another aspect of Esalen, apparently the #1 pickup line in the old tubs was “I really love your energy.”

The view down the coast from Nepenthe’s deck (or “view”, given all the coastal fog recently):

Signum sine tinnitu

The title is the name of Guy Kawasaki’s blog, which roughly translates as “sign(s) without sound”; I’m thinking he’s walking in the shadow of Macbeth. I was initially drawn by his tagline: Blogger. n. Someone with nothing to say writing for someone with nothing to do. Then I got caught by The 120 Day Wonder: How to Evangelize a Blog.

This page is relevant to conversations I’ve had with Patricia lately- what’s the purpose of blogging? I’m mostly having fun; for her, it would be more business-oriented.

I landed on Guy’s blog from Kare Anderson’s Say It Better newsletter, a lightweight monthly email with business behavior and interaction tidbits that keep me fluent with business jargon.

Guy’s pages lead to Rajesh Setty’s site, and his eBook on personal branding. It’s also lightweight, maybe a couple dozen pages of real content, but has ideas, references, and his own personal branding story.

My own personal brand, or lack thereof, has completely not worked in San Francisco. It’s been fascinating to watch people’s eyes instantly glaze over when I describe myself as an engineering manager (or Director, or whatever). I sorta think of Barking Cats as a brand, but it’s really more a channel. This year off, in one sense, is a rebranding exercise for me, both coming up with an updated brand and identity, and learning how to present it clearly.

(For the record, this entry took about an hour.)

Hello, world…

A first post on newly-redesigned Barking Cats. I’d intended to write my own code for the redesign, build some MySQL tables, do some PHP around it, then realized how much of a wheel I’d be reinventing.

So… this round is an exercise in using resources already out there- WordPress for blogging and overall site management, and Flickr for image management (unlimited storage for $25/yr, full tagging support; non-customizable UI, but the default is OK). I doubt there will be much blogging content, but, who knows?