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Summertime, Manga and the Mysterious Flow
August 10, 2001

Anime

Well shoot, it's already the tenth of August, which means Mac OS 10.1 is less than seven weeks away and that shortly, thousands of kids will start school, hopefully slowing the tide of children baking in unattended vehicles.

For San Franciscans, it means summer is getting close.

After the rainy, cool period we think of as winter, which generally only runs from January through March or April, things get very pleasant around here, and occasionally break out into just plain hot. Old time locals hate it when that happens. In the last two years, there have been several days that were hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That's hot enough to bake a pet, child or grandparent even without the use of a vehicle.

Fortunately, when it gets that hot here, it eventually also heats up in the Central Valley. And once the Sacramento area gets burning hot, the rising hot air over there sucks Pacific Ocean winds across the City toward the frying interior of the state, ensuring that San Francisco chills down and fogs over. This is all much to the delight of the elderly, who all moved here to get away from the wicked heat of their childhood homelands.

This chilly fog season can only be called summer, as it starts up in late June and runs through August. But it's only summer Australian-style, as San Francisco's summer weather is always colder than our spring or fall, and certainly colder than any winter ever gets.

It seems obligatory to mention that Mark Twain said the coldest winter he ever saw was the summer in San Francisco. People who live here generally seem annoyed to hear that. It's the first thing savvy tourists (if that's not an oxymoron) learn from their guidebooks, and they spout it off regularly. Unsavvy tourists (the dominant variety) just show up in shorts and sundresses and end up freezing in the evening fog.

Of course in doing so, they confuse San Francisco with California, which is something very different altogether. Maybe Northern California should become its own state, clueing tourists to the difference between the Disneyland, Hollywood and Beaches of La La Land and the very different Fog, Victorians and Cable Cars of San Francisco. Even the name Northern California has a certain caché absent from, say, North Dakota.

But I digress. Sometime very soon, the fog will burn off for good and things will warm up for Indian Summer, the real San Francisco Treat. The days get shorter, but at least the weather stays pleasantly outdoorsy after the sun goes down. On the other hand, the heat makes some of the elderly mad enough to spit.

The last time I made any comment about the house, Tat and Nick and I were wondering about Askia, who moved in last month but never actually made an appearance. That all changed last week. It turns out he has been without a vehicle. While that potentially keeps children and pets safe, it also makes getting off the island a bit more difficult.

Carless island residents have to time their departures around the Muni 108, which runs about every 20 minutes. Unlike most Muni routes, it generally runs on a real schedule, and keeps to it because it can go fast on the freeway and gets to Transbay Terminal via private ramps. Private right of way does great things for transit.

Still, there are occasional hazards related to taking the bus. It only runs until just before midnight (but as late as 12:30 AM on the weekends), so if you are out late, you either have to beg a ride, sleep away from home or pay $25 for a taxi ride. Also, there are a few wild kids in the island's Job Corps that make the 15 minute trip seem like a terribly long ordeal. Fights, drugs, yelling and pushing past other riders in line are all regular complaints of island riders.

The Job Corps administrators promise to can any students that residents identify as troublemakers, but few residents have gone past complaining to actually finger the bad kids, so a breach between residents and the entire Job Corps student population is growing. At one point, I proposed hosting a Reverse Survivor contest, where JC kids would get kicked off the island as evidence against them mounted, but the whole idea seemed a little too over the top to get the support needed to initiate it.

So anyway, Askia is still waiting to get his vehicle, and in the mean time, he's doing his best to interrupt my already scattered train of thought in an effort to tell the story of Bistar, a genetically perfected supergirl created by the genius Genova to be the perfect weapon. Apparently, Bistar runs away in her naive youth, frustrating the plans of Genova, who only wishes to save all humanity.

Sounds like a heavy influence from manga or anime, I'm not sure which. I'm not real clear on the details of Japanimation, but I do know that the big eyes scare me and the screaming mouths are annoying. Plus, while their story lines create an illusion of rich complexity, I find they are generally just silly crap. For instance, Askia's Bistar is "untraceable, untrackable, but not to the naked eye, only to smell and hearing and to video cameras". What the heck? Askia, that's just ridiculous. He runs off upstairs, but not before adding "I want executive producer".

I've been trying to tune out the Mysterious Flow as I write in the kitchen, only to have Askia return and start up again. He says the Mysterious Flow is really just a hot water heating system for the house. I don't know what exactly the Mysterious Flow is, but it isn't hot water heat. I reminded him that we have a forced air furnace, as evidenced by our furnace and vents throughout the house.

The Mysterious Flow, which has been running off and on since I moved in over a year ago, is a cascade of bubbling water that trickles like a happy fountain within the north wall of our house. It runs too often and too long to be the discharge of the four toilets and showers of our unit and our immediate neighbors. There is simply too much water sound for it to be just a running, leaky toilet, and anyone taking showers that long would have to be far cleaner than anyone in our house or next door.

Askia next suggested that the Mysterious Flow is actually related to water trucks he noticed earlier, as if there could be some connection between tanker trucks and a bubbling kitchen wall. He then took some wilder swats at aliens, bubbling water from the ground and other desperate ideas that make my frequently rambling thoughts look focused and coherent. After I shot down a few more of his theories, he finally gave up with "that's why you'll never be an espionage person, Tony" and headed back upstairs.

While I've never brought it to the attention of the leasing agency, it is possible the Mysterious Flow is just a broken pipe or something. There isn't water leaking out onto the floor, but the island soil is mostly sand, which sucks down water like an Suburban drinks fuel. A couple times I've started watering the plants in the back and forgot about them, only to discover much, much later that gallons of water can and do disappear into the ground with the fearsome and relentless pace of a soccer mom in a minivan on the Bay Bridge.

We may never know what the Mysterious Flow is, but one thing is certain: the fog is getting tiresome. Bring on Fall, I'm ready to BBQ.

More on heat, weather, anime, films and espionage:

Weather of the San Francisco Bay Region
Fahrenheit 451
Anime: From Akira to Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke

How to Draw Anime & Game Characters

Samurai from Outer Space: Understanding Anime

Anime: A Guide To Japanese Animation
Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics

Unbreakable
Aliens: Special Edition
Tomorrow Never Dies: Special Edition

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