Failed Starbucks

History – Samovarlife
Per the request of the City of San Francisco, Samovar Tea Lounge Yerba Buena opened April, 2006, enlivening the shuttered and defunct space that had housed a failed Starbucks. Samovar Yerba Buena is a garden oasis, resting above an urban waterfall in the heart of the city. Nested beneath the city’s skyscrapers, Samovar satisfies downtown workers, tourists, and convention-goers with an escape from the city’s frenzy.

…enlivening the shuttered and defunct space that had housed a failed Starbucks.


I am already on the third installment of John Burdett’s Bangkok series, a book called Bangkok Haunts – I am reading the Kindle version on the free Kindle for iPhone application. In what seems to me typical Thai fashion the book is able to move effortlessly between violence, sex and spirituality. Here is a snippet from a conversation between the main character of the book, a cop in Krung Thep, and a monk:

Saved? There is nothing to save, my friend. You cannot caste yourself into the Unknowable in the hope that gesture will buy you salvation – you have to jump for the hell of it. In a nirvanic universe there can be no salvation because we are never really lost – or found. The choice is simply between nirvana and ignorance. That is the adult truh the Buddha urges upon us. We are the sum of our burning. No burning, no being.

When I traveled in Asia for a year, a long time ago, I was constantly amazed and delighted by the ability of so many people (((seemed like everybody was able to do that))) to switch from the mundane to the spiritual and back in no time at all. Spirituality is not reserved for a fixed hour per week, but is constantly present and referenced.

Aeolus Airship

Aeolus Airship: Human-Powered Blimp: TreeHugger
Setting the bar pretty high for airship design is this one from Christopher Ottersbach: Called the Aeolus Airship (named after Aeolus, the Greek wind god) it is designed to be aerodynamic than conventional airship designs, and stay aloft for up to two weeks on a supply of helium and, furthermore, is pedal-powered by the crew of 2-4 people.

Beautiful. Like something out of a Japanese Anime. More on Inhabitat.

Hong Kong

Nice Hong Kong slideshow on Flickr.

When I stayed in Hong Kong for a month (((or was it two months??))) in 1978, I felt that Hong Kong might be an example for how humans might live in the future. Dense vertical structures instead of extended sprawl would allow wilderness to remain.


Holiday News Stories…

BBC NEWS | Europe | Milan poor to get seized caviar
Beluga caviar seized by Italian customs officers is to be distributed to poor people in Milan as a Christmas gift.
About 40kg (88lb) of caviar was confiscated in November after two couriers travelling from Poland were stopped with the hidden cargo.Newspaper Corriere Della Serra says the caviar had an estimated value of $550,000 (£370,000). Tests showed the caviar to be edible, so it is to be given to canteens, hospices and shelters for the poor.

I love that line – Tests showed the caviar to be edible. Did somebody grab a crust of bread, put some caviar on it, eat and pronnounce it edible… or did they take it to a lab?

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Goa bans Christmas beach parties
Christmas and New Year beach parties in tourist resorts in the Indian state of Goa have been banned because of security concerns, say the authorities.

30 years ago you would have found me at the New Year beach party in Goa…

U.P.S. adds bikes to the fleet| TerraPass: Fight global warming, reduce your carbon footprint
Of course, each U.P.S. bike delivery system (typically a $350 mountain bike pulling a custom trailer) can haul only 15 to 20 packages per trip — a mere fraction of what a truck can deliver. Nonetheless, the company estimates that for every three bikes deployed during peak season on the West coast, it will save around 17 gallons of fuel per day and about $38,000 dollars in vehicle maintenance costs.