May, 2013 Archives

Bay to Breakers is an annual race in San Francisco, where runners traverse the city from the Bay of San Francisco to the Pacific Ocean. But what makes it special is that somehow, somewhere along its 102-year-old history, it also turned into a gigantic day-time costume party for thousands of people who have no intention of running.

I joined the race at 6th & Howard, more of a parade by the time I arrived at 8:30am, 90 minutes after the start a mile away. By this time the course was filled with people in costume casually walking, and at times limbo dancing. The weather was sunny. I walked almost 7 miles to the end point at Ocean Beach, arriving long after the course had closed. Most of the partiers walked to Golden Gate park and just stayed there.

Bay to Breakers
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Spring in Columbia Heights begins at the Wonderland Ballroom, with their annual sundress party. Men and women attend this event with their own sundresses, or borrow one from the rack on the sidewalk. It’s not quite drag, as most guys forgo the wig, heels, and makeup, though you see some of that too. The large pool of contestants was narrowed down by having hopeful winners of the Mr and Mrs Wonderland Sundress titles first walk the crosswalks of 11th & Kenyon, showing off their style, be it sweetness or swagger. Then the real contest moves to the patio, using a pair of picnic tables as a catwalk. It’s amazing to see what tricks the contestants perform in hopes of impressing the judges. Some of my favorite photos are below.

Wonderland Sundress Party
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2013 Wonderland Sundress Party

Flickr’s parent company Yahoo made some major changes to the look-and-feel of Flickr as well as its business model. Will the new look make Flickr more competitive with Facebook, Instagram, and Google+, or inspire a wave of alienation and doom the once-great photo-sharing site? After playing with the new design for a few days, here’s my list of rants.

For starters, all pages now have a black header on a semi-transparent background, used for the site’s navigation. The header sticks to the top of the page, wasting space better used for the main content when you scroll down. I believe Flickr had recently introduced a smaller version of this a few weeks ago. The site navigation isn’t as important as Flickr thinks it must be. I’d much rather have the extra vertical real estate and just scroll to the top if I need their navigation options.

flickrhomeThe home page: Flickr now really wants to force you to pay attention to your contacts and groups. Every little update now has a photo as a background, though for new faves and comments, the photo gets a tiny square thumbnail, while a large cropped version is severely darkened as a background for the text, to the point of being unrecognizable and pointless. And the fave announcements no longer have a link to the user’s collection of faves, which I use to judge their taste. The home page has a weird two-column format, but the shorter column stops scrolling when it gets to the end, until the other column has also reached its end, at which point the footer scrolls into view. It’s a cool effect, but frankly annoying as it over-complicates the page’s mental model. » Continue Reading…

The Kinetic Sculpture Race is a mobile art display as only Baltimore can do it. This past weekend, 37 teams built vehicles powered only by their own legs. The creations had to traverse 14 miles, up and down hills, not to mention a plunge into the Baltimore Harbor, through a sand pit and even a mud pit. The American Visionary Art Museum guides the event, now in its 15th year. The morning starts with a raucous blessing of the pilots, after which the teams runs down the grassy slope of Federal Hill and climb aboard their vehicles to start their journeys. These photos show some of the creative entrants I saw as I followed the race through Baltimore.

2013 Kinetic Sculpture Race
Get Tanked in Federal Hill
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Cyclists dressed up in their “Great Gatsby” finest to party at Eastern Market last weekend. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s (WABA) annual fundraiser attracted hundreds to play casino games and dance to a live band. Chipotle was there serving up tacos. The carnitas came with an purple onion topping that you can’t find in stores, and it was awesome. There was a silent auction, plus generous raffle prizes, and an awards ceremony that recognized local advocates. Local bike shops participated in the “bike-build” contest, with their creations auctioned off at the end. Here are a few photos from the event.

WABA 2013 Bike Fest
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2013 WABA Bike Fest