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A Successful Forest Knolls Halloween in 2015

November 7, 2015

halloween-scary-house public domainRecently, we posted about the Halloween Loop, homes in Forest Knolls that would have candy for trick-or-treaters. For the 4th year in a row, it’s been great. It’s not the huge event that some streets put on that draw crowds from all over the city – it’s a friendly neighborhood Halloween.

“A successful Halloween was had by all!” writes neighbor Laura. “I know our family enjoyed going out trick-or-treating with our friends, who came to FK to join us. Among other terrific costumes we had that night, we had a detective, a bartender, a goth guy, and a zombie cheerleader!”

The pictures here are published with permission. (If you’d like to add in pictures of you or your kids in costume from Halloween, please email them to fk94131 at yahoo.com)

goth dude and zombie cheerleader halloween 2015

 

 

Forest Knolls Neighborhood – Staying connected on the Internet

November 6, 2015

computerBy request, I am reprising this post that lets everyone know how to stay connected with our neighborhood on the Internet. It’s been slightly edited and updated.

There are several ways to connect to what’s happening in our neighborhood.

1. NextDoor Forest Knolls

Right now, Nextdoor is probably the most active platform (which I wrote about HERE). It’s different from the Yahoo Group in that you need to give your actual name and address (and NextDoor will verify the address). It’s the opposite of anonymity. The idea is to facilitate the building of community and trust. There are group leaders who can act if someone seems to be violating community norms. I’m one for Forest Knolls. So far, there’ve been no problems.

It’s relatively private, in that only others on NextDoor will see it. It won’t show up on a Google Search, for instance. But I’d warn that it’s private, not confidential. There’s no way of knowing who might copy or forward your post to someone else. Also, over time people who move away might not bother to change the details on their Nextdoor account unless they want to set up a new account where they’ve moved.

If you use the “Nearby Neighborhoods” feature, it gives access to neighborhood-housesNextdoor in 10 other neighborhoods. That means when you post something on Nextdoor, you can decide whether to post it just to Forest Knolls, or to the whole bunch of neighborhoods. (If you post to all the nearby neighborhoods as well, around 4800 people could see your post.)

You can turn off some of the neighborhoods if they are not really of interest. People have been using it for things like recommendations for contractors, baby-sitters, household stuff for sale, announcements of neighborhood or commercial events – and warnings about crime and other safety issues. It’s a good way to meet up with others who have similar interests, say, for instance, small kids.

If you’d like to join, that link is HERE

2. This website and blog, www.ForestKnolls.info (not dot com or dot org ! dot INFO)

This runs stuff of general interest, occasional pictures and articles, and announcements. It’s a good place for laying out or updating any neighborhood issues. It’s completely public – anyone anywhere with internet access can read it (should they want to).

It’s got a Pets page, so if you’d like to add a picture of any Forest Knolls pet to it, send it in to fk94131@yahoo.com – with the name of the animal if you want it included. So far, we only have dogs and cats, but I’m completely open to pictures of iguanas or macaws or even the odd tarantula. Send them in!

If you want to stay updated whenever there’s a new post, you can subscribe to the site for emails. (Go HERE and enter your email address in the box on the right side.) Your email does not become public, but the Webmaster can see it.

3. The Forest_Knolls_Neighborhood Yahoo Group.

Anyone can join, though it’s really of interest to people within the Forest Knolls neighborhood. It’s managed by Mary Allen. You can give your actual name or not as you prefer. Your email address will be visible. It’s also public, but people are unlikely to search it out. They could if they wanted, though.

Here’s what I wrote about it with instructions for joining:

“This is a free group. Anyone can join, though of course its greatest value is to people in the neighborhood. And, as groups go, it’s civilized. I’ve seen groups where participants forget they’re in a public space, and start flame-wars or post overly personal information. This is not that kind of group.”

If you’d like to join that, the link is HERE. Look for the button that says “Join This Group!”

4. Forest Knolls Group on Facebook

Anyone who’s on Facebook can join, but you have to ask the administrator (right now, that would be me). I’d love for more people to join and post stuff. It’s a good place to share pictures or anything you like. It’s public to anyone on Facebook.

Here’s the link:

Join us on Facebook

WHAT SHOULD I JOIN?

What you decide to join really depends on how you want to use it.

  • The ForestKnolls.info website is intended to keep you informed, but it’s really dependent on the Webmaster. Stuff can slip by me. If there’s something you think the neighborhood should know, email me.  It’s pretty easy reading. It also has neighborhood information.
  • Nextdoor is good if it’s important to know who you’re talking to. Real names, real addresses. I think it’s pretty practical for the kind of thing you’d like to do in person. As of now, it’s got about 230 neighbors in Forest Knolls, and around 4,800 including the 10 nearby neighborhoods.
  • The Yahoo Group has around 100 members, though all of them may not be from the neighborhood. (There’s no requirement they should be.) It’s relatively quiet now; I think many of the functions it served have been overtaken by Nextdoor. But it does exist and is functioning.
  • Facebook is neat if you tend to go there anyway. It has the advantage that anyone in the group can post there – pictures, issues, just comments – it’s all welcome.

For myself – I’m on all of them. It’s neat that our neighborhood can be connected on the web. I hope more people join in – spread the word!

The Halloween “Loop” for 2015

October 10, 2015
tags:

It’s that time of the year again, and our neighbors (Thank you, Laura and FKNO!) are organizing the Halloween Loop in Forest Knolls. Neighbors with candy will have a pumpkin decoration up.

If anyone wants to send pictures of themselves or their kids in costume for this site, please email them to FK94131 at yahoo.com, and we’ll post them after Halloween!

Here’s the flyer:

halloween flyer

The same flyer as a printable PDF is here: Forest Knolls Halloween 2015

The Tranquility of Forest Knolls

October 9, 2015

Recently, Danh Tran of  the web-based real estate company Trulia (acquired earlier this year by Zillow) reached out to me with an interesting map. It showed noise complaints across San Francisco for 2010-2013 as an animation. Would I care to share it with our readers?

San Francisco noise complaints map dec 2013

This is a screenshot for December 2013, the latest data they have. What this shows is where people call the police to complain about noise. The color coding is self-evident – green shades to yellow shades to red as the density of noise complaints rises.

The animation is available at this link on the Trulia website. It starts with Feb 2010 and cycles to December 2013 and back.

San Francisco’s noise complaint levels vary a lot: Here’s a screen-shot from October 2013. There’s a lot more red in this one!

San Francisco noise complaints map oct 2013

Trulia’s Peter Black has made a similar analysis of several cities, including New York and Seattle. But the methodology he’s used for San Francisco is slightly different.

Why does San Francisco only have data through 2013? I asked.  Simply – it looks like no one is compiling the data any more. Or if they are, it’s not easily available.

In regards to the date, the reason for that is Peter couldn’t find any data for SF from the normal, open sources (311 calls) like he did for NYC and Seattle. Instead, he pulled it from our (Trulia) crime database. Unfortunately, and for no known explained reason, the noise complaints simply disappear from the data in 2014.”

Regardless, the data clearly show what we know already: We live in a tranquil neighborhood. Here’s the [December 2013] noise complaints map for Forest Knolls (thanks, Danh Tran). Not a spot of red in sight.

 

forest knolls noise complaints map

 

What’s Happening with the Coyotes?

October 1, 2015
coyote looking at dog, San Francisco

Coyote looking at dog, San Francisco, Aug 2011

A couple of days ago, neighbor Greg Flowers posted this on our Nextdoor site. (It’s reproduced here with permission.)

COYOTE SCARE

“After my experience last night, I plan to behave much differently when I am met by a coyote (or two) on the Sutro trails or on our neighborhood sidewalks. My usual MO is to respect its space and maybe snap a few photos of it as past encounters have been limited to in the woods of Mt. Sutro, and they usually run away.

“I took my dog out last night for a walk around the neighborhood around 10:45p following Christopher Dr east. As we were passing 15 Christopher, there was a rustle in the bushes and my dog lunged into the darkness. I pulled him back and we continued a few steps and then I saw it was indeed a coyote. It crossed the street into the woods and we made it to Clarendon before I turned and saw there were now two coyotes stalking us.

“Now I’m concerned and my dog is very interested in playing or giving chase. I tried to make myself look big and menacing, yelled a bit and made like I was going to charge them but they continued toward us so I then made the mistake of turning and continuing down Clarendon to get to Oak Park, looking over my shoulder constantly. No cars or people were out at this time and the fog + blood moon combo + coyotes stalking me really affected my nerves. The coyote in front crossed Clarendon as if it was planning to circle around to surround us and so when I got to Oak Park we turned the corner and sprinted all the way back to Christopher and Oak Park til we got home. That wasn’t the smartest choice but they didn’t follow me back into the neighborhood which was a huge relief.

“I’m posting this as a learning experience for myself and hoping it will help raise the awareness about the coyote presence around these parts. The closest I let them get to us was about 20 yards and my dog is 60lbs and these coyotes appeared larger than him. Because they were unaffected by my dog’s size and my scare tactic, I looked online and found this explanation of how to ‘haze’ coyotes so that they will fear humans again: Coyote Hazing: Guidelines for Discouraging Neighborhood Coyotes

“Hopefully we can make a neighborhood effort toward keeping coyotes, all our pets, and ourselves safe and that starts with coyotes maintaining a healthy fear of humans.”

A COYOTE WATCHER’S OBSERVATIONS

As readers of this site know, I’m a believer in coyote coexistence. This report was concerning, especially in the context of recent reports in which coyotes attacked dogs (one fatally) at Pine Lake (behind Stern Grove), a popular dog-play area.  So I reached out to Janet Kessler, the Jane Goodall of San Francisco’s coyotes. She’s been studying our coyotes for years, and maintains a great blog, CoyoteYipps.com where she puts up her observations. Why were we suddenly getting this bold behavior?

“There seems to be a change in their behavior going on, but I’m told that it’s not due to habituation, it’s due to the drought. All urban coyotes are habituated by definition, yet they still keep a healthy distance (can’t use habituated and wary at the same time). For dogs, it’s a different story — and it’s going to be the same story whether a coyote is habituated to humans or not. Habituation to humans has nothing to do with coyotes approaching dogs — especially when they are curious about them.

“[Greg] did the right thing by moving away from the coyote — that’s how you diffuse a situation and maintain control — you are simply not going to engage. If a coyote follows… he’s just checking out your dog, gauging whether it’s a threat to be worried about, and making sure it is a safe distance away.

“We’re seeing more coyotes because of the drought. Because of the drought, there are fewer gophers and voles in the coyotes’ home range, so they are expanding that range as they hunt for their favorite foods. However, as they hunt in new areas, they will opportunistically take free roaming cats.”

This is also a concern; I know some people in Forest Knolls do have outdoor or indoor-outdoor cats. I think it’s also important for people with small dogs to be especially careful. Coyotes may see them as rivals or as prey, and they’re much more vulnerable. Humane Society guidelines recommend keeping cats indoors, and not letting small dogs off-leash in the backyard at night. Here’s their article: Coyotes, Pets and Community Cats.

From Janet Kessler: “And, yes, coyotes have been approaching dogs, much more than we’ve seen before. Walk away always, and keep walking (never run) away from the coyote, even if he follows.

There’s more useful information on the CoyoteYipps website, here: CoyoteYipps.com

It also has some great photographs and observations of coyote behavior.

Seeking the Supermoon Eclipse

September 28, 2015

Like people everywhere in the city, in fact, across the world, I went looking for the supermoon eclipse last evening. The moon was going to rise, red and already eclipsed, around 7 p.m. – a “blood moon.”  Totality would be7.47 p.m.

I thought the best place to watch would be Twin Peaks, and at 6.45 pm, that’s where I headed from the Portola Avenue side. But I got there to find a line of cars jammed all the way up Twin Peaks Boulevard. I did a U-turn, carefully avoiding a skunk. (It got safely across the road. All the cars in both directions waited for it.)

Time to go to Plan B: leave my car at home, and walk up to Tank Hill.

pics31 001 tank hill 7.35 pmClearly, a lot of people had the same thought. I’d never seen it so crowded, not on the 4th of July, not during the Blue Angels performance. Many had come much better prepared than I, with telephoto lenses as long as my forearm, rugs, chairs, and reflective clothing.

pics31 005 tank hill 7.37 pmWe were all a little worried. The fog was prowling around the western side of the city, and knowing San Francisco, could blow in any minute.

pics31 008 fog rolling in from the west 7.38 pmEveryone watched the eastern sky intently. “Did we get the wrong night,” I heard someone joke. “Maybe we should have read the science pages instead of the news.”

I was unsure how much we’d actually see, whether the haze low on the horizon would turn into a vision-blocking fog.

Waiting for the supermoon eclipse 7.39 pmSomeone raised a shout, and everyone looked for the moon. No sign of it. “Just a bunch of people trying to get a buzz going,” commented one of the would-be spectators.

Quite suddenly at 7.47 p.m. there it was, a dull red disk visible through the trees. Just in time for the peak of the totality.

supermoon eclipse 7.47 pmPeople gazed at it. Some took pictures, including me.

supermoon eclipse 7.51 pm

Next to me, a man holding a dog said, “I hope you have a telephoto on that.” I didn’t, but I would get some pictures anyway, I said. They won’t be great, not like the real photographers photos, but they’ll record the event. We chatted briefly about eclipses past.

watching the supermoon eclipseThe crowd thinned out. Parents with small children left quickly. The kids had seen the moon, understood the color was different, and they were ready to play or go. So did a lot of people who’d driven in. They wanted to leave before more traffic jams started up.

still watching supermoon eclipseHere’s how it looked at one minute past 8 p.m. (still through the trees).

supermoon eclipse 8.01 pmI left, too, a little later. From the foot of the Tank Hill steps, I got a clear view of the moon. This was a picture at 8.22 pm.

eclipsed supermoon 8.22 pmAn hour later, I went for a walk. The fog had started blowing in, but the moon was visible. It looked like a traditional eclipse now, a crescent that could be mistaken for a waning moon.

And even later than that, the eclipse was over and the fog was crawling over Twin Peaks.

fog over twin peaks 27 sept 2015It was beginning to drift down to the Bay.

fog by the bay sept 27 2015Overhead, the full supermoon was back to normal.

full supermoon 11.55 sept 27 2015

Sutro Tower Night and Day

September 25, 2015

The moon was rising beside Sutro Tower, behind the eucalyptus forest. I tried for some pictures. I love that digital cameras can actually get something under these conditions! It’s not the best picture, but it’s something. Of course it was much more dramatic and beautiful than this.

sutro tower with rising moon

The picture below is from a year ago (June 2014, actually). It makes a nice contrast to the night view. I love the way the trees soften the base and contrast with the tower.

sutro tower in mist