: views from the Hill

Thursday, December 30, 2004

For Liz

How to get your photos off your Verizon camera phone.

== From /MENU/ Select /CONTACTS/
== Either create an e-mail contact for Liz e-mail or add an e-mail contact to your existing contact record.
== Press [Camera button]
== Select [2] Gallery
== Maneuver with toggle button to desired picture
== Press [OK] button
== Press [Rt button], labeled "Options"
== Press [1] Send
== Press [Lt button], labeled "Contacts"
== Press [1] Contact
== Select desired e-mail contact
== Press [OK] button
== Press [OK] button again
== Add text if desired or just
== Press [Lt button], labeled "Send"
== Wait for "Pix message sent successfully" message.

What do the following sites have in common?



Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Some hand holding required.

There's been buzz recently about Google's efforts to add book content to their searching capabilities, working with the libraries of Stanford, Harvard, the University of Michigan, NYPL and the University of Oxford to digitally scan books from their collections. Initially, only Stanford and UM will have their entire collections on Google while the other libraries will supply specific parts of their collections, including the Bodleian's 19th century collections.

The scanned book texts will be folded into the massive Google databases and will be searchable with Google search tools, bringing back either full text for those titles in the public domain or excerpts/bibliographic material for those items still in copyright. Google will provide links wherever possible to "buy this book!" of course.

Those hip to the buzz but idiots under their skin are busily discussing the imminent demise of The Public Library. Who needs public libraries when needed books can just be downloaded or read online?


Public libraries are far more than just books on the shelves.

Public libraries come staffed with librarians who offer reference services and help with tracking down that book you need. Librarians these days are busy helping people discombobulated by what the Web's search engines offer up.

A librarian would have been of great help to the poor schmoe who stumbled across my blog when he popped /hot dancing club pics in miami/ into Yahoo's search field.

Q&A from my favorite step-daughter

A. sent me one of the Q&As she sends me on occasion. I like the peek into her life and head and I always return the Q&A with my answers added so she'll keep on sending me Q&As.

Further up and further in ...

First Name: Sal/Sally

Named After: No one in particular. I was almost named for Mary Jane Lirette. Wouldn't that've been grand?

Do I wish on stars? Always

When did I last cry? This morning, reading this.

What am I listening to? The sound of the wall heater cycling on and off. Except for Barenaked Ladies Christmas down at the main house and Santana in the car, I've been music-less since we got back. Don't know why.

Last thing I ate? Sweetbreads with mushrooms in a marsala/sour cream sauce over buttered rice. Last night. Breakfast this morning was a mug of espresso with milk and Torani caramel slosh. Naughty. I think I'll have sweetbreads on toast for lunch.

If I were a crayon, I'd be: chewed. broken.

What is the weather? Grey. Post-rain.

Last person I talked to on the phone? Talk? On the phone?

I must return Louisa's call.

Do you like the person who sent you this email? Very much.

Favorite Drink: Alize -- brandy and passion fruit juice.

Favorite Sport: tennis

Eye Color: hazel green brown

Do you wear contacts? No.

Favorite Food: Sizzled foie gras.

Last Movie you watched: Ella Enchanted, on the flight home.

Favorite Day of the year: Each day has its good points.

Scary Movies or Happy Endings? Happy Endings, for sure.

Summer or Winter: Fall, when the hills turn green again. Or are we talking about color key? In that case, Winter.

What is your favorite dessert? Flan

Who is most likely to respond? n/a

Living arrangements? Splitting time between San Francisco and the South Bay. Looking forward to the day when the South Bay domicile will be sold and we'll really be living some place again. Right now I feel 'twixt and 'tween, not really one place or the other. Separating from the South Bay is taking longer and is a lot more heart shaking than I'd expected.

What books are you reading? an assortment and nothing at all. I really need to get this place in shape for sale. I feel guilty curling up with a good book.

What's on your mouse pad? "SURFERS TAKE NOTICE" -- an Alcatel mouse pad that came from who knows where. I hadn't noticed. Now that I've noticed, I think I'll swap in the mousepad that Powells.com sent me.

What did you watch on TV last night? I haven't watched TV as such for a long, long while except for some news bursts from hotel room TVs while we were gone and out of touch with newspapers and the Web.

Favorite Smells: Daphne odora, citrus blossoms, ylang ylang, 4th of July punks

Rolling Stones or Beatles? Beatles

Do you like your handwriting? Yes.

What is your favorite lunchmeat? Chipped beef, when turned into chipped beef on toast. Soul food.

When is your birthday? 12 August. Leo Dragon.

If you were another person, would you be friends with you? Yes.

Are you a daredevil? No.

Have you ever told a secret you swore to keep? Not that I can remember. I'm pretty closed mouth when people tell me things. If someone was in danger of doing something utterly stupid or dangerous, however ...

How do you release anger? I clean up messes, throw things away, regret it later some times.

Where is your second home? Which is my second home? ... at this point San Francisco, I suppose, but San Francisco feels like home and this place from which I'm typing this seems ... like an old lover who is fading from memory. I'm detaching.

Do you trust others easily? No.

What was your favorite toy as a child? A small doll maybe eight inches high that I got in Brazil when I was five or so. The doll still sets on my bureau.

What class in high school do you think was totally useless? None of them, really. Maybe PE/swim.

Do you have a journal? Yes. Off and on and then my blog these days. I wish I was more consistent about writing in a journal but I usually start off and then peter out.

Do you use sarcasm? No.

Would you bungee jump? No, but I am thrilled that my dad jumped out of an airplane for his eightieth bday (a tandem jump) and splurged the extra to get someone to jump with him and videotape the jump.

Do you untie your shoes to take them off? No. Naughty.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Coffee.

Shoe Size: 6-6 1/2.

Red/Pink: Pink for clothes. Red for stuff, household decoration, flowers, ...

What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself? My unhelpful, unhealthy tendency to fuss and fret about stuff I can do nothing about.

Who do you miss the most? Skip, Diana, Casey.

Do you want everyone you send this to to send it back? n/a

What color pants are you wearing? black Levi's

What is the furthest you have been away from home? Halfway around the world. If we're talking about distance from where and how I live? Bhutan. Bhutan rocked my soul.

Dreams of waves crashing ...

I spent a formative year, the year before we left for Brazil, living in Manhattan Beach, CA, while my dad taught geology at UCLA. I was four. We lived on The Strand, with just a road and a sea wall separating us from the beach and the Pacific Ocean beyond. There were five sibs then -- the last of we six not yet born. Skip, the oldest, would've been eleven. My younger sister, two.

I still dream of the beach house. In my dreams I wander through the rooms, searching for something. Skip had his own bedroom upstairs, with a closet whose back opened into the attic. I walk through the back of his closet a la THE LION, THE WITCH AND ... searching. The larger upstairs room was a bedroom and playroom for the four remaining sibs with a multitude of beds, including a large bed that slid in and out of the wall. I search there as well. Downstairs, the built-in kitchen table had benches that opened up for additional storage. In my dreams I wander through the house. My dad had a corner of the living room set up as his office where he would grade papers and prepare lectures. I was fascinated by the model of THE SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS he had hanging from the ceiling.

In my dreams, it is never clear just what it is I'm searching for.

I remember falling asleep sucking sea salt from my toes after afternoons playing on the beach.

I remember getting caught by the waves and tumbled under, gasping for air, unable to breathe, struggling to shore. I was four and it was the first of many times I got sucked into a wave. I've never been an enthusiastic body surfer although I was probably never in any real danger of drowning. Still ...

I remember the grownups talking about a possible tidal wave headed our way, a scare that petered out to nothing but which frightened my four-year-old self and left me now, forty-eight years later, with recurring dreams of large waves sucking me under, as I struggle for air, unable to breathe.

Sometimes I see the fog curling over the Santa Cruz Mountains and spilling down the eastern slopes. In my mind's eye I see not fog, but a wave, larger than any wave possible, swelling up from the Pacific Ocean until it reaches a monstrous height, then crashing over the mountains and relentlessly, inexorably swallowing us all.

Snorkeling in the Galapagos earlier this month, I was caught up unexpectedly by a wave and tumbled. I dove under that wave and into the next that was crashing over and came up beyond the surf, unshaken, proud of myself for facing into the waves and conquering the fears that had held me.

Perhaps, I thought, my dreams of gasping for air as waves crashed over me might end.

But now, I think not.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Arrived back yesterday after lunch, after an unexpected night-over in Miami.

Spent the morning sorting through three boxes of mail, picked up from the P.O. yesterday afternoon. Off to the bank to deposit checks and to SK/JK's home. Of all the misdirected mail in our three boxes of held mail, they won the blue-footed booby prize and will get their stack of mail hand-delivered instead of re-cycled through the P.O.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Geek.com Geek News - British company to release JFK assassination game

A Geek.com posting reads

"British company to release JFK assassination game"

posted 12:01pm EST Tue Nov 23 2004
- submitted by Christopher R. Anderson

Traffic, a Glasgow, Scotland-based firm, is set to release a computer game called JFK Reloaded. The game will be available on Sunday, November 28, the 41st anniversary of the assassination, via the company's website for US$9.99.

The AP article Anderson refers to correctly states the company made their announcement Sunday (ed. note Nov 21) and "The game was scheduled due to be released Monday (ed. note Nov 22), the 41st anniversary of the shooting in Dallas."

Seems Anderson misread the news and not only got his facts mixed up but didn't realize it because November 22d, the date, doesn't resonate in any way for him.

I thought of JFK yesterday when I realized what the date was and thought ... forty-one years. Doesn't seem that long.

JFK Jr. would be turning forty-four this Thanksgiving. He was born just a few weeks after JFK won election forty-four years ago, 1960.

Where will we be in another forty-four?

San Francisco dresses up for the holidays

Holiday lights are up. I always like this time of year. The Bay Bridge lights are year-round, but the Embarcadero Center and other buildings downtown only dress up for the holidays.

Under the first Bay Bridge support you can see the Ferry Building and its red "San Francisco" sign, which faces out toward the Bay. We always see flashes from cameras when the dinner cruises go by the sign. Wonder how those pics turn out.

Up above the Valley of Heart's Delight

Up above the valley sits the Ham cam, a webcam up at the Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton.

I grew up in the foothills near Mount Hamilton Road. The drive up the road to the observatory is a stomach-twisting series of switchbacks, but the view from the top is glorious, both the view looking west out over the (((Santa Clara)|Silicon) Valley)|(Valley of Heart's Delight) -- the view that the cam takes -- and the view east looking out toward the Central Valley and Yosemite.

Spectacular views.

The cam site includes a "movie" concatenation of the previous day's views and a gallery of memorable shots.

The valley started using low pressure sodium street lights in lieu of mercury vapor lights decades ago in response to requests from the Observatory. Read up to learn more about light pollution and how it affects astronomical researchers.

Iluna Basque now open Sunday.

Iluna Basque is now open Sundays, which is hooray-worthy, giving us another dinner option on Sunday nights. We found out last Sunday that IL now takes reservations. If you don't realize they now take reservations and wander down there for dinner without a reservation, you'll be told it'll be a very long wait.

Call ahead: (415) 402-0011 or reserve online. We would've if we'd only known ...

Instead we ate at Mangarosa where I had my steak rechaud and his nibs had the gnocchi. Yumcious.

Kingston 256MB SD card

Went off to Fry's again yesterday to pickup two more Kingston 256MB SD cards for the digital camera. I'd taken a passle of pictures over the weekend and the new card had worked just dandy. Downloaded the pics yesterday morning and everything worked flawlessly.

Arrived at Fry's to find (oh, glorious day!) that the Kingston 256MB SD card was on sale for $24.99 ($5 less than I'd paid last week) PLUS there was a $15 mail-in rebate (one per customer). Saved (or I will have saved once I get the mail-in rebate back) $25!

... which I will blow in another hour and a half when I take my kid brother out to Chili's for his 45th bday. Forty-five? The baby of the family is forty-five? How did that ever happen?

But wait! Update!Cheese Sandwich not! Bought for $28,000

Cheese Sandwich Bought for $28,000 - Tue Nov 23, 2004 10:41 AM ET

MIAMI (Reuters) - An online casino won the eBay bidding for a decade-old cheese sandwich bearing what some people consider a likeness of the Virgin Mary and immediately began hawking Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese T-shirts.

GoldenPalace.com's bid of $28,000 was the highest offer for the sandwich when bidding closed late on Monday, the Internet casino's Web site said.

The seller, Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident Diana Duyser, says she made the cheese sandwich 10 years ago and after taking a bite, saw "the Virgin Mary staring back at me."

... and the article continues on ...

Whooo. Boy.

Update: The highest legitimate bid was reportedly $71 ... Whoever was the successful bidder also has to pay $9.95 for shipping.

Update to update: Golden Palace Casino verifies their $28K bid was legit. Yowza!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

It really is Plug & Play

I wrote a while back about the Concord Eye-Q 4060 4.0 Megapixel Digital Camera I bought over the Web. Today's Office Max ad in the paper shows the price even less than what I paid for it.

Oh, no!

But wait ... The past five months of use is worth $20 isn't it?

Prepping for the trip I've been weighing whether to take my usual 25-30 rolls of film -- and the costs of developing the film when I get back -- or taking the Concord. If I take the Concord, I need some SD memory to make up 25-30 rolls of film, which will be pricey itself.

What to do.

What to do.

The younger younger nibs worked at Wolf Camera the summer before last and had tales of people buying memory for their digital cameras that was the right sort and fit in the right slot but which wouldn't work with the digital camera they'd bought it for. To forestall that mistake, I hied myself over to Wolf Camera to see what they recommended for the Concord. Wolf recommended a 128MB or a 256MB card, so I decided to go 256MB max.

Knowing there was no time to send off for something over the Web, I nevertheless checked out prices to see what 256MB would cost and what the options were. Checking the WebKB and feeding in the amount of pictures I'd taken in Yunnan, I figured I'd need at least three 256MB cards, even factoring in that I'd be ditching pictures that didn't turn out as expected.

When I was at Costco on Thursday, I checked. Costco carried a SanDisk 256MB memory card priced at $46 -- loads more than other cards I'd seen FS over the Web. I ducked over to BestBuy next, where the SanDisk and PNY 256MB SD cards were both priced $54.99.


Take those $$$ times three.

Yikes. Yikes. Yikes.

The geeks were out of bed by then so it was too late in the day to hie over to Fry's Electronics and do battle. Instead, bright and early Friday I went to Fry's, stood in the obligatory line to talk to a sales staffer who checked the inventory to make sure my card was in and walked out with a Kingston 256MB SD card for something a bit less than $30 plus tax.

Brought it home. Figured I'd find the User Manual for the camera if I needed it. Figured the SD slot must be somewhere ... say maybe in where the batteries are kept. Popped open the battery station. There was the SD slot with a picture showing a square with a corner nipped off. Slipped in the SD card (with its nipped off corner) in the fashion indicated and voila! Alzasudden, instead of a possible n pictures to shoot, I had a possible nnn pictures to shoot, according to my camera. Took a handful. Deleted a couple.

Plug & Play. Can't get much simpler than that.

Next up ... going back to Fry's to get a couple more Kingstons.

Being a belt and suspenders sort, I'll also pack a couple disposable cameras on the off chance that something horrid happens to the camera or cards. Still rue the day that my camera battery faded out when I was at Carthage.

I'll also be packing extra rechargeable batteries, the battery recharger and the voltage converter setups and hope that we hit steady power often enough to keep the sets of batteries charged.

"Looking forward to meeting you again in heaven, God willing."

I find it unnerving and sad to see ads people place on obituary pages saying, "Dear Julianna. It's been fifteen years since you passed away and we all still miss you dreadfully. Looking forward to meeting you again in heaven, God willing."

The ad must give some comfort to the person placing the ad, but Julianna doesn't read the paper and all the advertiser is really doing is posing with their broken heart, letting thousands of strangers know they miss Julianna -- how much? so much! enough to pay for an ad!

Leave a more lasting and practical monument to the dearly departed. Give the money that would've been spent on an ad to a library or a battered women's shelter "in honor of."

Skipping off on a tangent, the city of Salinas is in foul financial shape and failed to pass some tax measures earlier this month. Their main library and two branches cost $3m/yr to run, so as of January, the city is shutting down the libraries.


(trans: What would Steinbeck say?)

Friday, November 19, 2004

Hurrah! A Christmas tree after all!

Unlike the grinch over there, I love Christmas, love the warm glow in the middle of dark Winter. Love the smell of cut tree. The family still living and celebrating has six birthdays in November and December and one right after the New Year so the choosing of gifts to suit for the birthdays and then again for Christmas Day can be a bear.

Luckily, my family has always been less into the conspicuous consumption and more into the thought behind the gift. When you grow up with five other sibs who need gifting and an allowance of 25c/week of which a dime goes into the plate at Sunday School and another dime goes to the Camp Fire Girls at the weekly meeting, any bits of money from cutting 'cots or babysitting are precious.

Creativity was always the key, creativity, empathy, understanding, thorough scouting to suss out the deepest desires of the giftee. A gift certificate is fine, but a carefully thought out personal something is best, if possible. An added twist recently has been an eighty-year-old mother who says she doesn't want anything she must read or wear, or needs to take care of and ... so.

A gift treasured from back when and stashed in my jewelry box is a pin my next older brother gave me when I was about ten. He'd taken a Brazilian cruzeiro piece and soldered a tiny brass safety pin on the back to make a wearable pin. He was always brill and thoughtful in his choices of presents for people.

I miss him this time of year. He's been gone now three years and I still see things in the shops and think how much he'd like them. I miss those missing from the ranks. The six sibs are now three. My oldest brother would be turning fifty-nine on December 10th if he were here. Odd to think of him almost sixty when he's always caught in amber at age twenty-nine. Would he be grizzled? Would he be like Don May, mellowed and at peace with the world? What would he be doing with his life? Engineer? Teacher? Counselor? Would the sister who also died at twenty-nine still be a hippie free spirit Buddhist or would she have settled down and be driving a Volvo and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity?

This time of year brings the warm glow of the holidays but also waves of nostalgia and regret and darkness and a pervading sense of loss when I remember those who have died and won't be part of the season. There was a Christmas or two not too long ago when I was so far into the black ooze that I was barely any help at all with all the planning and effort it takes to set up the Christmas we are used to having together. Cards? Food? Tree? Those few years even the tree was an effort. Oh, sure, once it was up it was lovely, but planning to cut it down, pull out the decorations, put them on was something I had to be dragged into. I had no energy, no spark, no joy, no anticipation.

Skip's birthday in December and the memories it rumbles triggered the cascade the first time the black ooze surprised me over the holidays. I can look back now and recognize what happened and how I ignored what was happening. As a result, these years I walk carefully when the season turns, watch for signs, forcefully expose the bits of darkness that crop up, flood them with light, consciously change the dark rumbles of black ooze into happy memories of years gone by: a blue dump truck, an artificial Christmas tree we had in Brazil with green feathers in lieu of needles, caroling under the stars while the family walked along the beach at Recife on holiday, a New Hampshire Christmas at my grandparents'. Hot chocolate. Mulled cider. Snow. The Three Chipmunks singing Christmas tunes.

... and I remember what can happen if I forget to take care of the ooze, acknowledge it, accept it, transform it before it overtakes me.

Rest. Eat. Enjoy. Don't stress.

I've always loved the Christmas tree, the smell, the colors, the decorations that accumulate one or two a year until putting the tree up recalls magical memories of Christmases past. This year I bought two garlands of glass beads at Target because I hadn't been able to find any at a reasonable price for as long as I'd been searching and those we use date back fifty or more years and are fragile, so fragile.

I love the warmth of Christmas. The lead up to the day. Cutting fragrant evergreen and holly branches to decorate the mantle. Setting up the creche. Handmade wreath on the door. Baking.

This year, though, there's a different feel to the season. I'm getting all caught up in my fretting and worries about the upcoming trip. What to do about cameraworks? Film or SD? Time grows short and I need to get some sport sandals for walking in water and then hiking. What sorts of clothes? Which? How many? Of what kind? Pack but pack light. The hugest fret of all was that we'd get back late on the 23rd and his nibs said there'd be no time or inclination to put up the tree.

"No tree?" I said. "But the family Christmas is here now! How can we have Christmas without a tree?"

"We will have no time, Sal. No time."

"Maybe we could put up the tree before we leave and the sib who is watching the house and the cat until the young-un gets in from Boston could watch the tree as well."

He just hummm hummm'd.

I mentioned this option several times, with that sad little hiccup in my voice - sniff.

No, not really ... we tend not to play games. We exchanged views. He said we'd have no time. Later, I countered his "no time" with an option I'd thought of. We talked about it a couple times and he agreed it might be a possible, if not traditional. The tree might be doable ... if we found time before we left.

In the last day, though, things have changed. Calls back and forth from the E coast. The folks running the trip have rescheduled and rearranged a bunch of stuff and logistics have changed such that we'll be leaving two days earlier than planned and returning two days earlier.

Hurrah! There will be time to go up in the mountains and cut down a tree! Time to decorate the tree! Bonus plus is that the young-un will be here to take part in the cutting and decorating.

Oh, happy day. There will be a Christmas tree after all.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Taking my first listen to BARENAKED FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Barenaked Ladies. Yes, I know. It's not even Thanksgiving and all the Scrooges in the world would rather the music hold off until after next Thursday, but we're leaving the Sunday after and won't be back until a few days before Christmas. I won't be getting much chance to hear Sinatra or the Barenaked Ladies singing holiday tunes.

The Barenaked Ladies CD includes such classics as "Deck the Stills" (Deck the Halls with lyrics "Crosby Stills Nash and Young" repeated and repeated) and "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah," "Jingle Bells" -- all done with that Barenaked Ladies panache.

"Auld Lang Syne" triggers, as I knew it would, waves of nostalgia and thoughts of years gone by. The only other song that consistently gives me the same reaction is the old classic about the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and the dreams lost at Culloden.

Oh! ye'll take the high road and
I'll take the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye;
For me and my true love
Will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Amanda and Dessa done good.

I mentioned that we'd been to a nosh do at Bonhams and Butterfields last Friday.

Good nosh. Good wine. Dessa Goddard, Director, Asian Art, gave her talk walking through some of the more important pieces that were coming up for auction on Tuesday.

The nosh was a treat, the wine drinkable, and Dessa was obviously very much excited about some of the items coming up for auction.

Her pride and joy was an 18" diameter copper-red design Ming dynasty dish that Amanda Miller, specialist, Chinese and Japanese decorative arts, had come across when she'd gone off to a San Francisco home to do an appraisal.

Amanda had come back from the appraisal visit with multiple photos of the dish Is this what I think it is? Dessa said she was standing on the family's front doorstep bright and early the next morning because she could not believe ...

Some dish! An Important Dish! An Important Ming Dynasty Dish! "A rare and important underglaze copper red decorated dish, Hongwu Period."

We heard all about the dish. We were shown pictures and closeups from this angle and that. Top and bottom.

The dish was the belle of the Fall Asian Art auction. Dessa had been to Hong Kong and New York, showing it off. She'd been to London showing it off and getting some renowned someone to write the catalog copy.

Dessa showed it off on Friday evening, holding it while we all took turns getting a closeup look at a dish estimated to sell for $1-2m, yes, million. After we were through, Dessa carefully put the dish on its pedestal and set a plexiglass box on top of it.

A few minutes later, Dessa physically flinched when someone sat on a perch nearby. Too close. Too close. Far too close. A nudge to the pedestal might topple the dish. Dish smashed. B&B's commission down the tubes. ...

"Please," Dessa said. "Don't sit there."

The family to whom the dish belonged had kept it filled with fruit on a sideboard and brought it out to use when they were having a cracked crab feed. Elinor Majors Carlisle, who had bought the dish in China in the twenties, was an entrepreneur back when female entrepreneurs were almost unheard of, a well-known Berkeley suffragette whose father founded the Pony Express.

Best of all worlds there were three very interested bidders on Tuesday. When the hammer fell, Giuseppe Eskenazi, a London Asian Art dealer, had the winning bid: $5.7 million.


The Telegraph version of events and others from Google.

KFOG's Live from the Archives #11

Speaking of CDs worth buying (we were, weren't we?), the 11th annual KFOG Live From the Archives, a fundraiser for Bay Area food banks (this year a 2-CD set), is going on sale Saturday. KFOG is an amazing station with a huge heart. The 11th annual CDs are available for purchase online for those of youz who can't pick it up local-like.

As the title implies, the CDs are made up of cuts from live KFOG concerts that KFOG has convinced performers to donate for the cause. The CDs have been well-worth having since I started buying them years back and it's for a good cause, for peter's sake.


Clips available online.


Picked up Enjoy Every Sandwich this afternoon. Enjoy Every Sandwich is a collection of covers of Warren Zevon songs. Don Henley, Pete Yorn, Jackson Brown with Bonnie Raitt, Steve Earle and Reckless Kelly, David Lindley and Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan, & al. join in the homage.

Bruce Springsteen singing My Ride's Here. What could be finer? Billy Bob Thornton singing The Wind, maybe. Good tunes, worth a buy, worth a replay, should you be thinking you need something new to listen to.

WORDCOUNT / Tracking the Way We Use Language /

Another creation of Jonathan Harris.

WordCount™ is an artistic experiment in the way we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonality. Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance. The larger the word, the more we use it. The smaller the word, the more uncommon it is.

WordCount data currently comes from the British National Corpus®, a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent an accurate cross-section of current English usage. WordCount includes all words that occur at least twice in the BNC®. In the future, WordCount will be modified to track word usage within any desired text, website, and eventually the entire Internet.

If you think that's neat-o, check out Query Count to see what words people are searching Word Count for. One of Zen's favorite diss words is currently ranked #9.

10x10 / 100 Words and Pictures that Define the Time

Jonathan J. Harris has executed a nifty bit of software titled 10x10 / 100 Words and Pictures that Define the Time. He sez, 10x10™ ('ten by ten') is an interactive exploration of the words and pictures that define the time. The result is an often moving, sometimes shocking, occasionally frivolous, but always fitting snapshot of our world. Every hour, 10x10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time. Over the course of days, months, and years, 10x10 leaves a trail of these hourly statements which, stitched together side by side, form a continuous patchwork tapestry of human life.

One downside is that the data is currently gathered only from Reuters World News, BBC World edition and NYT International News feeds, which leaves the "news" with a certain bias, but the method and the layout certainly boots one out of the usual page by page news reading habit.

THE ZOOMQUILT | a collaborative art project

THE ZOOMQUILT | a collaborative art project


Update: New URL for Zoomquilt

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Sneak thieves or how I spent my Tuesday

Monday too, for that matter.

We came back to Dale from Hill after lunch on Sunday (having decided to bag the CRL soirée because his nibs wasn't feeling like dancing) and there was no mail at'all in the mail box.

Understand that this situation is impossible under normal circumstances. We received no mail on Thursday because of Veteran's Day. His nibs checked the mail before he drove up to San Francisco on Friday and the mail hadn't come yet. We should've received a huge pile of mail (Th-F) on Friday plus our usual pile on Saturday, but in the mailbox? Nada.

Monday, I headed down to the P.O. to turn in the keys for the P.O.Box we weren't going to be needing any longer and retrieve my (woo hoo!) $1/key deposit refund. While I was there, I talked to the P.O. staff about my lack of mail over the weekend. "I think my mail was stolen," I said. "What should I do?"

The staffer asked me to wait and went in back to talk with our carrier, who was still mail sorting for the day. She came back to say that we'd had no mail. ("Impossible," I said. "You don't understand. We get *a lot* of mail *every* day.")

Well, that's what your carrier said. He said so far today he only had this in your bin. She handed me a copy of EE Times and asked if I wanted to speak to a supervisor. "Not now," I answered, and left.

Sent his nibs a note telling him what had transpired vis-à-vis our missing mail and he said, "We don't get a subscription to EE Times." Really? I remember getting a subscription. Wotever. (Turns out we used to get a mailed subscription, but haven't for the past four years. We now read it online. How time flies.)

In the afternoon I went down to check for mail and we received our usual pile. I checked the EE Times and, by golly, his nibs was right. The EE Times belonged to someone with our street number two streets over.

This mail mixup has been going on for over twenty years. A birth gift for the now twenty-three-year-old was misdirected and brought over to our home by the mis-receiver.

Twenty some years ago, a catalog order was misdirected. When I called the catalog company to say my order hadn't arrived, they said it had been delivered and sent me a copy of the signed receipt. Not my signature, I said. That person lives two streets over.

Turned out the neighbor two streets over with the same street number was also a customer of the same catalog company. The catalog customer staff called the woman and asked about my package. She claimed that she'd ordered the goods that had arrived and they were hers. She'd paid for them.

The catalog staff knew she hadn't ordered them. She hadn't paid for them. The catalog staff knew. They had their customer records after all, but they couldn't do anything about it, they said, because the item I'd ordered was out of stock and wouldn't be restocked. They sent me my money back instead. Yes, I still resent that woman for stealing my argyle vest and then lying about it. She's dead. Shouldn't I let go of the resentment?

In any hoo, plan was for me to go to the P.O. on Tuesday and talk with a supervisor about the sloppy mail misdirection. We retrieved the six bills that arrived with Monday's mail but kept the rest of the bundle of mail and ads and magazines intact so I could say, "See? See? This is the sort of mail bundle we get each and every day. There is no way we could have gone mail-less for three days no matter what our carrier says."

The neighbors two streets over tend to write "NOT AT THIS ADDRESS" on mail they get which should have come here. Well, duh. Of *course* we aren't at that address, we're two blocks over here. But does the carrier notice? No, he just sends the mail back to the sender (or ditches it if the return reply postage isn't guaranteed) and we're out of luck.

Last month, one of our credit card bills went missing. This month, what with late fees and interest charges, we had an extra $80 some to pay. The credit card people wouldn't take an "it never arrived" excuse.

I hate whacking at people, hate complaining to supervisors about their lackadaisical staff, but complain um. report I must.

On my way out the door to the P.O. yesterday, I found a pile of mail on our front stoop with a note from someone else in the neighborhood which read something like, we found your mail in our mailbox last night. We live far enough away from you that I don't think the carrier messed up. The plastic bag was ripped open and it looks like whatever was in it is gone. I think you need to report this to the police.

The plastic bag was ripped open (leaving only the blowin ads and the billing charge) and the contents missing for an order his nibs had placed. Not only that, but the Sotheby's catalog had also been taken out of its plastic mailer. Thieves must not have liked the looks of the upcoming auction. They left the catalog in the heap of mail.

I trooped into the P.O. and asked to speak to the supervisor. I told her how I'd been told the day before that there had been no mail for us over the long weekend. I showed her the pile I'd brought along and said, "See? This is the sort of mail traffic we get. There is no way we had no mail over the weekend."

I told her about the misdirected mail and showed her the EE Times I'd been given the day before. "This is part and parcel of the problem," I said. I told her about the mail theft. She had me fill out a thievery report. She told me to report the theft to the police. She is putting BRIGHT magenta notes on our bin and the corresponding bin two streets over so our carrier will remember to check. She said, "Luckily, both addresses are handled by the same carrier so we won't have to deal with two different carriers."

I said, "Luckily? The problem is because the mail is handled by the same carrier and he's being sloppy when he sorts everything out."

His nibs is contacting the sheriff with a "stolen mail" report today.

I called the catalog company which with absolutely (and I mean absolutely) no fuss or bother is reshipping the order.

Over breakfast today his nibs was checking the checkbook to see what critical things we might've lost in the mail. Billing for the younger young gent's credit card bill, perhaps. Tickets for South America, perhaps. Hopefully, our monthly bank statement wasn't taken. He thinks that's due in another couple days. If our tickets don't arrive in today's mail, he's going to call and see what's what and see if we need to have them re-issued and re-sent. We leave less than two weeks from now and we need to make sure our tickets arrive before we leave.

Last time his nibs received an order from the same catalog company, he came home from work to find the mail box door flap dropped open because the package was bulky and the carrier hadn't bothered to make sure the mailbox shut properly when he delivered the mail. Best guess is that the same thing might've happened again and some kids came by and noticed the packages and mail inside and decided to see what they could see.

Professional mail thieves wouldn't have left the leavings in a neighbor's mailbox, would they?

His nibs just called and now I needs must go down to the main house and wait for a sheriff's deputy to arrive and talk to me about the mail theft.

What a week. ...

Update: Two (count 'em TWO) deputy sheriffs arrived on my doorstep. One did most of the talking. The other stood to the side with his shades on. Deputy #1 (after I'd told my story), "Someone found your mail in their mailbox? Maybe the mail carrier just delivered your mail to the wrong address." Um. No. See? When his nibs called to say I needed to be janey on the spot to meet an officer -- the sheriff's department insisted that someone be there to give them a report in person -- he also told me that he'd called the person who'd returned our mail on our doorstep. Turns out she's further away than we'd thought. She's in the next town over. Different carrier.

Added the deputy with the shades, Different post office even.

After chatting for a while, they asked if I wanted to submit a police report. What did I want them to do for me? Well, I said. I really didn't think there was much to do. We were handling the possible lost plane tickets and such. The catalog company was resending our order gratis.

The reason we'd called them was because the post office asked us to when we submitted a stolen mail report at the P.O., I assume so that the sheriff would know that mail was being stolen. The two said that ours was the first report in a while for this neighborhood.

Our neighbor across the street, I told them, had had problems a couple years back and ever since we've taken all our outgoing mail to the P.O.

The person the next town over said she'd had her mail stolen a year or so ago and when the authorities found the lady (with mail addressed to our benefactress sitting on her front seat), the thief was busy filling out credit card applications.

Deputy with the shades says, that's nothing. A few years ago, we picked up an older lady in an older Honda in Cupertino. She had the back of the Honda crammed full with stuff. Your mail, your neighbor's mail, your neighbor's neighbor's mail. Took us hours to sort through all the mail. She wound up with a hundred and thirty or so counts of mail theft.

Well, good luck with it and thank you, I said.

His nibs tells me he called the travel folk and they said the tickets weren't missing. They were sending the tickets tomorrow -- UPS. The younger young gent's credit card bill usually doesn't arrive until later in the month. Ditto the bank statements.

Mayhap all is well.

May sneak thieves wake up with their jammies in a twist and stumble as they get out of bed..

Monday, November 15, 2004

Netscape Mozilla Firefox hot links

... and carrying on with those thoughts.

If you click a link from a Netscape mail or a Netscape mail/news, the link opens up in a Netscape browser window.

If you want the link to open up in Firefox, either drag the link and drop it into an already open and on the desktop Firefox window or drag the link to the Firefox task on the taskbar, wait for Firefox to open and then drop the link into Firefox.

Netscape Mozilla Firefox "Send Link" and how I spent my day ...

I've been using Netscape 7.x since forever whenever. Netscape incorporates Mozilla Firefox and I love some of the Firefox features -- ^T new tab keeps my desktop from sinking under a load of windows -- but Netscape doesn't update as often as Mozilla does and has some other hinky oddities so I moved over to Firefox 1.0 when it came out of beta last week.

Only problem was that one of my habits when I'm surfing is to "send link" or "send page" when I hit something interesting, type a comment or two about why the page interested me if I'm so moved and save the "mail" as a draft. I have a draft folder full of interesting URLs that I can search through with Netscape's search feature.

My problem with Firefox (and how I spent my day) was that when I used "send link" in Firefox, Firefox pulled up the Microsoft mail program instead of Netscape, my default email client. I set the default using IE's tools, I set it here, I set it there, I set it, set it everywhere.

Final solution:

Pull up Windows Explorer: My Computer
Tools >> Folder Options
Select the File Types tab.

Scroll down to URL:Mailto Protocol
Click the Advanced button
Click the Edit button

The "action" should already be "open"
The Use DDE box should be checked

Notice that the Application used to perform action is listed as that nasty Microsoft e-mail application.

Set the following instead:

Application used to perform action:
"C:\Program Files\Netscape\Netscape\Netscp.exe" -nosplash -compose "%1"

Application: Netscape Mail

The -nosplash will make sure the Netscape window itself doesn't open -- otherwise you get the Netscape window and the mail window.

The -compose will make sure the Netscape mail compose window will open.

%1 will feed through whatever link it is that you're trying to send.

The .exe description should point to wherever your netscp.exe resides.

Simple, no?

Very simple, if someone tells you explicitly how to do this.

Update: Well, now it isn't putting the link and header in the e-mail. I took the -compose out. I took the -nosplash out, so now I get the correct MAIL window, but I also get a Netscape window that I have to shut down. More to follow, whenever ...

At least I can send myself URLs using Netscape ...

Application used to perform action:
"C:\Program Files\Netscape\Netscape\Netscp.exe" "%1"

Friday, November 12, 2004

The week that was

This seems to be my week to be sociable.

Monday evening we had dinner at Caesar's for the quarterly meetup of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers. Program was a guy from "the" local polling firm talking about what the vote results meant for San Francisco, that bastion of blue. Being as we're pale blue bordering on pink (or vice versa), the conversations with our fellow (blue) travellers, who just assume everyone is as blue as they and who assume that their passions about what should be built where and by whom are universally felt, were um. interesting.

Nan, who sat across from us, proceeded to tell us what ratfinks our friends Gail and Paul were because of the things that happened while G&P were building their place up the hill from Nan and Nate. Gail and Paul, of course, are out of town and weren't there to defend themselves and Nan had strong views about some of the hoops and loops that Gail and Paul had to jump through to get their place up near Coit Tower built.

Tuesday I joined four buddies plus two daughters of buddies to attend the annual fundraiser for the YWCA-Silicon Valley (note new name!) with Sally Ride giving an interesting talk about space and her astronaut years and her push now with her summer science camps for girls to keep girls hooked on science through those dangerous years when we get labelled geeks or worse (definitely unattractive and blue-stocking) for being the smartest in the class.

Thursday I had lunch with my little bro' as we checked out a new local falafel place, which replaced a donut shop in the same location, followed by a dinner at the San Francisco Italian American Club, a fundraiser for North Beach Citizens, honoring Ed and Mary Etta Moose.

Francis Ford Coppola did his thing. Willie Brown was MC. Dianne Feinstein stop by to read a proclamation. Nancy Pelosi was in town and talked about what a treasure the Mooses are. A good time was had by all. Our table companions had strong views on various subjects. Strong views. Can't we all just get along?

Today is lunch with Don May and BillT. over in Berkeley and an event of some sort at Bonhams and Butterfields tonight with Dessa Goddard of their Asian Art department.

Let's see. Then I have a day "off" before a Sunday meet-up/do down at the Wax Museum for the 40th anniversary of the California Republican League. Don't know what the League is all about? Follow the link. (And, yes, whoever pulled the page together does not know how to spell "hors d'oeuvres.")

Is the social whirl my choice? I guess, in a way. His nibs wouldn't sign up for these events without asking me first, asking if I'd like to go. I do like to go, mostly as a cultural anthropology sort of look-see at what makes people and groups tick. Last night, f'rex, our table had folks who meet at 8 a.m. at a local coffee shop and conspire to make their community a better place.

I'm not the world's most outgoing person, I don't work the room like some people did last night, but I do strike up conversations with people and everyone is always interesting in some way, even if that "some way" is that they are the most self-centered being in the room.

Speaking of which, Willie Brown was charming, funny, self-deprecating. I can see why people like him. Having only read about him in the papers, it was interesting to see him in action. Nancy Pelosi was shooting off showering sparks of energy. Dianne Feinstein was gracious. Fun to actually see these people in the flesh and in their political 'sonas that I've only ever read about before.

We also met the Mooses and were charmed by them. I'd struck up a conversation with a woman who was standing alone while the cocktail party chatter swirled around her. Turned out she was Mary Etta's younger sister, down from Sebastopol for the event. She wanted to make sure we met her sister and her brother-in-law.

Gotta go. Lunch with Don and Bill, so I need to zip over the bridge and into Berkeley before noon.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Before and after.

I need to fiddle with the pictures to get the colors in synch, but I've added temporary updates to the view montage to show the new sans-trees view.

Here's a closer look at the before and after:

Treasure Island          Treasure Island - Yerba Buena Island

The "before" picture is to the right. (Duh.)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Myers-Briggs-Jung Type Descriptions - INFJ

My friend, Kathy Vincent, a Myers-Briggs practitioner, gave me a reading years back for a bday present. She told me I was INFJ, or maybe ENFJ.

Checking out this description of INFJ and the corresponding ENFJ description, I realize that I am more INFJ than not.

How encouraging. Alas.

"pro-weed"? What means that?

Here's another INFJ description which is less damning. Thanks be.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Today's "done" list.

Didn't get much fiction writing done today. The bulk of writerly efforts today were focused on pulling together the core of stuff needed for the December column for Computer Bits and on crafting an invite to the fourteenth annual YWCA-Santa Clara Valley luncheon, which happens a week from tomorrow.

I've invited people to this event every year since the first annual. I used to be on the YWCA-SCV Board, for pete's sake. Every year I procrastinate and then pull together a group. This year is the latest I've ever procrastinated.


The guest speaker this year is Sally Ride. How cool, no? She was always a hero of mine. I've known who the guest speaker is since May. Might I have been just ever-so-slightly procrastinating or is my life really so jammed full of activity that I can't work up an appealing invitation and send it out to likely attendees?

My job is to pull together a table of ten within the next twenty-four hours or so, a table full of ten people who each will be willing to write a check for $150+ in exchange for listening to Sally Ride give us good words and for having lunch with a copacetic bunch of people.

I checked with the staffer who's handling the YWCA end of it and she promised that my guests wouldn't have to stand in long lines at registration, as late registrants have had to some years.

After getting her assurances, I sent e-invites out to twenty-seven people after lunch today and have two confirmed, two "will be out of town", one "have other plans" and one "I'd like to come with my daughter and have already talked with someone at the YWCA, can we sit at your table?"

Dropped a note to the staffer with the confirmed names. Asked her if the friend and her daughter can be assigned to my table. Five seats still empty.

The event is pretty cool. Last year we had Benazir Bhutto speak and raised $353K for YWCA programs. This year (IF CERTAIN PEOPLE GET OFF THEIR BUTTS AND PULL TOGETHER A TABLE OR TWO) we hope to raise more.

... and that's why I haven't even touched my mystery novel in need of rewriting today.

Tomorrow, fer sure.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The last fling

I talked about a quarter of a century of Flings last May, after the Spring Fling. At that point in time we weren't sure whether Dale would be sold by the time of the Fall Fling -- whether the Spring Fling was "the last fling."

It wasn't.

We haven't cleared out Dale to the point that we can even start patching and painting in preparation for sale, let alone put it on the market yet. We do intend to have it on the market after the new year and hope to have it sold by the date of what would be Spring Fling 2005.

Consequently, last night's fling was advertised as "The Last Fling."

Last night's party was swell. Yoko flew in from Japan. Several people hurried back from business trips in Japan and Europe. Antoine and Victoria flew in from Bucks County, PA. Bit made sure he was back from Shanghai. Jim and Sandy flew down from Seattle. There were regrets: KJ couldn't make the Fling having just got out of the hospital on Thursday. Jim and Lee were in Washington, DC, on their way to Paris to visit mutual friends. Marilyn was in Texas for a reunion but Al and Nicholas made it. Ron and Ginny were down in LA for the UCLA football game.

Several people, including a younger sib, didn't make it because they were feeling sick-ish and didn't want to infect everyone, but the turnout was good. Old friends. Quarter of a century friends. More than quarter of a century friends and old workmates and children and more.

The prep for this Fling had me stressed more than usual because rain delays extended the four-day paint job at Telegraph Hill into a nine-day paint job. My usual week plus time window prior to the party for pickup and cleanup was not to be, with me fifty-plus miles to the north of what needed picking up and cleaning.

We squeezed the time in. I'd dash back to Dale after the painters left and work and then get up at 5:30 a.m. and get back to Hill in time to unlock for the painters. With a final push yesterday, we got Dale cleared and setup with at least fifteen minutes to spare, before the party started last night.

In the past couple weeks, when we'd have a load ready, my run up to San Francisco to check on the painters would include loading the Mini back quarters full of boxes of prints, posters, paintings, and LPs to drop off at the loft annex. In all during the back and forth, I dropped off four loads worth of "stuff" which needed moving at some point anyway. Why not now?

We also shifted boxes of books to the warehouse, dropped a couple loads of stuff at the Goodwill and left bags of recycle magazine and papers at the road's edge for pickup. Fling prep resulted, as it has for a quarter century, in a cleaner and less cluttered home.

The party itself, though ... the foodstuffs brought for the party excelled, as usual: pork with bittersweet cherries, shrimp with sauce, lasagna, pad thai, and more ... potstickers, chicken wings, chili ... pies and cakes of all descriptions, including a chocolate cake with chocolate chips and rum, lemon squares, snacks and snips.

In the week before the party, his nibs went to the usual sources and loaded up on a variety of sodas, flavored sparkling waters and beer, which we stashed in the old refrigerator in the garage. We also bought a half-dozen bottles of white wine and left them to chill in the refrigerator. Nine bottles of red rounded out the beverage selection. Napkins, plates, forks, bowls. We were ready.

Two or three hours into the party, Pat brought us to the fore where we were feted for a quarter century of flings. The gifting and speeching began with presentation of matching T-shirts with a logo saying, "FUTS 1978-2004" -- blue lettering on a white background, the Measurex corporate colors.

Pat's presentation, interrupted with much joshing and kidding, included a gift certificate for dinner at Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, American Express gift certificates to use for San Francisco restaurants, cash to use for cab rides for those nights when we don't want to walk to and fro to a restaurant, a pedometer to track our mileage and a pair of globe bookends (books! travel! geddit?!??) with the areas detailed in semiprecious stones and mounted on solid lapis.

(Beautiful, eh?) The bookends came along with a book to put between them -- an edition of Black Beauty to add to my collection of Black Beauty editions.

Parviz, Tom, and Bit came forward to harangue the crowd before his nibs said our thank-yous. Last night, his nibs revised the name of the party to "The Last Fling ... at this location" and attendees mulled over several possibilities for keeping the twice-yearly Fling tradition, including having the hosting duties rotate from person to person or somehow changing the venue to Hill.

The last party goers left around 3:30 a.m. and we spent an hour or so doing the first round of cleaning, then woke up this morning to continue cleaning and returning the house to its usual (but cleaner! and less cluttered!) state.

his nibs just finished his typical post-FUTS morning chore, sorting through the trash from the party, stacking disposable plates and disposable glasses and retrieving the recyclables from the trash in order to fit the detritus into the single can of garbage we are allowed each week. Next! it's off to the recycle center with a load of recyclable glass -- six six-packs of beer bottles, thirty empty wine bottles -- and soda cans.

Mission accomplished. Party cleaned up. A quarter century of good times ... with promises that the party won't end but will continue in some manner.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Tree ballet

Spent some time yesterday watching a guy with a chain saw do remarkable things, suspended by ropes far far in the air.

He and his ground crew took out one tree before lunch and worked on a tree with a branched trunk in the afternoon.

He's not quite done yet, as you can see by the stubby trunklets that are still standing. The split trunk tree was two or three times as high as the stublets you can see in this picture.

My first thought was did he have a permit? He must, we decided. The tree removal was happening just a few doors down from our esteemed Supervisor.

But we hadn't been notified, as we would've been in the bucolic ville. No permits? San Francisco? How could this happen without permits and neighbor notification?

The guy used ropes to lower some of the large branches, but when he started taking down the now-bare tree trunk, he just dropped five-foot-plus chunks of trunk straight to the ground. Boy howdy, the immediate neighbors must've been worried that some of the tree parts would accidentally drop on them.

We checked online and, it seems, lefty and environmentally sound as San Francisco is, there are absolutely no restrictions on hacking away at trees that are on private property.

If you want to plant or hack or uproot a street tree, it's a whole 'nother story, but we could find no rules whatsoever for trees in someone's backyard -- perhaps because there are so few trees in backyards?

The bucolic village from whence we came has a whole set of strongly-enforced tree rules up to and including that you cannot touch any tree anywhere that has a DBH (trunk diameter at breast height) greater than 10" (measured "at breast height," dur) -- unless it's dead.

If the tree is alive and a "native" tree ("'Native tree' means Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia), Valley Oak (Quercus lobata), Tan Oak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), Black Oak (Quercus kellogi), Blue Oak (Quercus douglasi), Scrub Oak (Quercus dumosa), Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophylhum), California Buckeye (Aesculus californica), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)"), the diameter at which the tree becomes untouchable is six inches.

San Francisco does not do this. Odd, wot?

Don't get me started on how those save-the-tree rules have resulted in a diminished overall tree canopy in the 'ville when they were intended to do exactly the opposite. Seems people are chopping down the trees that sprout up on their properties because they don't want to deal with the permit process later.

Old trees die. Young trees get chopped down. Result?

Someone I know (and like!), one of our former council members / tree huggers who was the moving force behind the tree ordinance, is now heavily involved with the state environmental law process. She has a place on the coastal commission, yadda yadda. She didn't listen to me when I told her her tree ordinance was going to have consequences she didn't realize, and I never 'fessed to her that we had this sprout of a live oak growing up by our mail box that grew and grew and grew until the day I took a swede saw to it because it was verging on "hands off."

I'm torn. Property rights. Tree rights. Neighbor rights. Our view of Treasure Island and the north bay is improved, but I liked the greenery and loved watching the parrots that flocked and quarreled in the trees.

Fifty or so parrots came winging in on a whirl yesterday afternoon, making a quick spin around the stubs. They settled, squawking, in trees on the Filbert Steps. "Sweet Martha. Do you not see what I don't see? Wotthehell happened to our trees?"

The jacks will be back to take out the stubbed tree, I'm sure. I'm not sure whether the last of the three trees is scheduled for removal as well.

Our painters enjoyed their ringside view yesterday. They're back today for final touchups &c. The shocking blue paint I chose for the bay-facing walls and the deck trim is very blue.

Addem: How blue? Check out the background color in this picture.

The bay-facing walls are painted Benjamin Moore's "Big Country Blue," semi-gloss with palegrey-white semi-gloss trim around the windows. The south-facing walls and the north-facing hip-high wall are also painted the same palegrey-white semi-gloss, a color known as "Marilyn's Dress," if you want to head over to Benjamin Moore and check the colors. The rail at the top of the hip-high walls and the wide trim board around the bay edge of the wooden deck are also painted blue.

Very bright and I love it.

Later: The jacks didn't come back today. Did one of the neighbors complain? Are there ordinances we just couldn't find?

The neighbor just west of the trees will have a very changed environment. Those who are just north will as well. I can see into their windows now, f'rex. (Not that I'm a snooper, mind you.)

Will there be litigation? Will the Supe bring ordinances to the Board so that such a desecration can never happen again?

Oh, interesting times.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Thank you, Powell's

Had a fun sidetrack this afternoon as I tried to decide how to spend my newly-acquired $100 store credit from powells.com.

After much poking around and fussing, I wound up with

No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days -- Chris Baty (founding father of NaNoWriMo) $14.95

[I read about the book on UV's blog. She'd picked up a copy because she's planning to NaNoWriMo starting Monday. I decided that the book would probably be a good swift kick even for those who aren't NaNoWriMo-ing.]

Had a Good Time: Stories from American Postcards -- Robert Olen Butler 15.95

[Butler had a kick-ass American Postcards short story in the Sept 2001 issue of Hemispheres. I'd decided I didn't want to drag the issue through Nepal and Bhutan and Tibet but would, instead, pick up my copy on our way home. We headed home after September 11th and the airline had pulled all copies because there'd been a photo layout of the New York skyline pre-9/11 in it.

They'd "let" me buy a copy for $7.50. $7.50 for a free magazine?!??. I don't think so. I dropped Butler a note in July 2003 -- after I found over a year later I was still wishing I had a copy -- and asked if he had a copy around somewhere on the Web or elsewhere that I could bum off him. He didn't, but he told me about this book which came out this past summer.]

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook: Hands-On Help for Making Your Novel Stand Out and Succeed -- Donald Maass $19.99

[Another kick in the ass.]

Powells.com Mousepad $0.00 (Rubber,NEW)

[As my thank-you from Powell's for entering their essay contest.]

Book Total : $50.89 (3 items)
Shipping total: $0.00 (Economy Mail)
Credit : -$100.00
Total : $0.00

No shipping charge because the total was >$50 and I still have $49.11 to spend!

Heidi Moos's (Moos'? Meese's? Mice's?) blog

Bumped into Heidi Moos while I was at Bouchercon in Toronto and found that she's begun blogging, more as an experiment with the medium than anything else.

Always nice to see her. I promised I'd mention her blog in mine. (Hi, Heidi!) Heidi blogs about writing and research and what-all, oddly enough.

Neil Gaiman answers the age-old question: Where do you get your ideas?

For those who are struggling to think up an idea before Monday when NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts, I offer up Neil Gaiman's answer to the age-old question: Where do you get your ideas?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Best laid plans

Dropped in at Dale last night for a be-spoke dinner at Manresa with Chef David Hawksworth, of West, Vancouver, B.C., and discovered why I'd been having odd e-mail problems at Hill.

My mail setup, shared between Hill and Dale, is convoluted.

With the advent of gMail, it became a bit easier.

I setup an assortment of gMail accounts. My towse.com domain directs incoming @towse.com mail to my gMail accounts according to some finger-in-the-wind sense of importance.

Those mails addressed to me one way, go both to my e-mail process at Dale and to the gMail account I make sure to check while I'm at Hill. Mails addressed to me in one of my maillist personas go to another gMail account. Mails that drop through towse.com because they aren't sent to any established xyzmno@towse.com sort of address go to a gMail account I sort through and dispensed with when I find the time.

This past week I've been more or less constantly at Hill, keeping an eye on the painters who -- as we speak -- are sanding the walls of the deck in prep for painting the deck and the south-facing wall of the top floor. Faffing around at 33KB and a $/min charge at Hill, I noticed that my laptop's OE was picking up mail off my ISP account that should've been handled by the machine at Dale.

The duplicates I needed were being sent to the Hill gMail account and I could check them over the Web. I didn't need nor did I know why I was getting the copies Dale was supposed to be handling as well.

The paint jobber who showed up yesterday morning split at lunch and told me he wouldn't return until 8A this morning. I headed back to Dale because I had a dinner date with his nibs and to dive into the house flushing needed for The Final Fling, scheduled for next Friday.

Arrived at Dale to find that the reason the machine there hadn't been handling my ISP's mail account was because the storm that passed through had knocked out power Monday lunch and my machine couldn't reboot because of a password required by my McAfee setup.

The good news was (1) your-site's swap over to grey-listing has eliminated most of the spam so the ISP's mail cache wasn't overflowing and (2) all my maillists go to gmail -- otherwise either my ISP account or my laptop OE would've been swamped.

Bad thing (1) is my incoming mail archive is now in two places.

Oh, well. Now I know to set things up differently for when I'm either here or there and power interruptions may happen.

The incoming mail archive at Hill is only forty-four messages, so I can send those off to Dale and kinda get the archive in synch again.

Did I mention the reason why the painters are still here and haven't finished prepping yet?

The painters were supposed to show up at 8AM last Friday. I was planning to head up to Hill Thursday PM so I didn't have to make an early morning run up the Peninsula Friday morning.

The paint contractor called Thursday PM and said they wouldn't be there until noon, which meant I could head north Friday AM. As I arrived at 11:45A, his nibs called to say the contractor had just called and they wouldn't be on site until 8AM Monday.

Ah, well.

his nibs drove up Friday evening and we had an entertaining weekend. We walked over to Pier 41 Saturday after 8AM to pick up tickets and head over to Alcatraz on the 9:30A ferry for a "behind the scenes" tour for Park Conservancy members.

Our tour guide was tops. The tour was interesting! (Pictures to follow some day ...) Because it was fall, the bird hatchery on the south shore of the island had closed for the season, so we got to walk on the parade grounds and down by the water's edge, which we never had been able to before. The views of the city from Alcatraz are terrific.

Sunday we poked through open houses. Monday AM his nibs headed south to the office after the painters arrived and he discussed the project with the contractor and the contractor and I agreed on the paint colors I'd chosen.

The painters worked all day scraping off old paint and gouging out where the wood had rotted. I got his nibs on the cell to discuss possible solutions to the now-gougy pieces of wood with the contractor.

Tuesday rained liked the dickens and the painter types didn't show. (They'd told me they wouldn't if it was raining.)

The storm was pretty impressive. The wind howled and whipped the prayer flags, jumbled the chimes and created a loud harmonic hum on the double glass doors on the mid-level that look out east to the Bay. The doors now have paper wedged betwen their upper edges and the frame, which seems to have helped stifle the hums.

The rain was sufficient to show that his nibs had sealed at least some of the leaks we'd found last winter. his nibs had caulked the windows that leaked last year -- no water came down the inside of the windows this storm, as it had last year.

his nibs had also discovered and patched some leaks in the deck. The previous owner -- no lie -- added gas tower heaters on the deck and while so doing punched the gas pipes straight through the edges of the deck, neglecting to seal up the gaps where the gas pipes passed through the deck edges. When the water on deck surface, under the wooden deckwork, reached a certain stage, it ran into the holes and into the building structure. his nibs patched those obvious leak sources and some others.

Coincidence or not, no water oozed out of ceiling near the fireplace and remote dropdown screen on the first floor like it had last year. No water dripped from the light fixture located directly above that leak on the middle floor.

Water still dripped out of the light fixture outside my office door on the middle floor. (We'd already pre-placed the bucket &c. from last year when we'd heard that the rains might start early.) That leak had been the most serious last year.

Tuesday I found a new drip leak right inside the door to the closet/bath six feet to the right of where I'm sitting. The leak might've been there last year too. Hard to say. The leak isn't as robust as the other leaks had been and it's possible that it might not have been noticed last year simply because I wasn't sitting here tip-tapping to hear it drip-drop-drip.

his nibs plans another roof survey after the painters are done to check out possible sources of leaks. The leaks on the deck level seem to be fixed, though.

But enough of weather and leak reports.

Wednesday it wasn't raining but it must've still been too wet because the painter types didn't show.

One of them showed up Thursday morning and worked for three hours or so and said they'd both be back bright and early today to continue prep work.

They are. I can hear thumping and a radio and electric sanders and chatter.

The skies are shades of grey. The sun is peeking through in spots. Bits of blue. Flashes from sun reflecting off the windshields of traffic dashing back and forth on the Bay Bridge. A ferry is pulling into the ferry building. A sailboat is heading north, sails are up but it's obviously running on power.

Life goes on and I am getting back to work.

Update: sigh For some reason I'm picking up the Dale copies again. I'm going to need to re-think the hand-shaking and hand-offs.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Powell's results in.

Powell's Bookstore in Portland, OR, (one of the coolest independents around) celebrated the tenth anniversary of powells.com by sponsoring an essay contest. The contest, A Decade of Reading, asked contestants to write an essay answering the question, "What was your most memorable reading experience of the last ten years?"

Powell's received thousands of submissions and chose twenty-five finalists then left it up to visitors to powells.com to vote in the top essay.

Voting closed October 8th and results won't be officially announced until October 19th, but I got a congratulatory message today telling me that my essay, "There Is Always Biloxi," was one of the ten runners-up of the twenty-five essay finalists. My prize is $100 worth of books from Powell's.

First place, with its prize of $1000 worth of books, would've been even cooler, but I'm pleased as punch to have made the cut to the first twenty-five and then to have earned enough votes to make the top ten runners-up.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

While I wasn't watching ...

the ticker at Internet-Resources.com rolled over the 200,000 mark and continued on its way.

Three years have passed since a kerfuffle in misc.writing and some idiots involved inspired me to put a collection of writing links on the Web. Thank you, Patricia! Thank you, Wayne!

Readership goes up. Links from other sites go up. Writer's Digest named it one of the 101 Best Writing Sites in 2003.

All in all, I've had fun, the site and the success and notes and mention warm the cockles of my heart.

Thom Hartmann's Op-Ed Pieces

Came across Thom Hartmann's Op-Ed Pieces from a link on Zen's blog.

Interesting ideas.

Four weeks until the election.

Back to HaloScan

I just couldn't get Blogger comments to work the way they should. Sure, it was cool that Blogger would e-mail a comment to me, but the little trashcan that would allow me to can my "test" comment didn't show up where it should've and after much round and round with Blogger support, I decided the effort wasn't worth it.

Me: (reporting the problem) ... "the trashcan icon ... isn't visible ... I've tried Netscape 7.2 and IE6.0"

Support: "... Next, click the small trash can icon next to the comment. If you are still having problems seeing the delete icon, you might want to try clearing the cookies and cache in your browser or try using a different browser."

Me: I've tried all that ...

Support: "I have just logged into your account and viewed your blog's comments. I was able to see the trashcan icons next to the comments. This appears to be a problem specific to your browser/computer. Please try clearing the cookies and cache in your browser to see if this will resolve your problem."

Me: "Cleared cookies/cache on Netscape. Still nada. The problem shows up with both Netscape7.2 and IE6.0. Have you found any problems with McAfee products interfering with Blogger trashcan icons?"

Support: "You may want to try changing the security settings on your Firewall to allow cookies for blogger.com. This could be what is causing your problem."

Me: I've fiddled with all that. Ah ... forget about it.

I un-commented-out HaloScan. Commented-out Blogger comments. During the shuffle and kerfuffle, the comments made with whichever is the out-of-favor comment maker of the day will disappear.


So long, Ev. Buena suerte.

Ev says, "Thank you and good night." over at the Blogger blog.

"If you want to know what I'm up to, I'll still be blogging, of course, at evhead.com."

"Peace and new ideas."
– Ev. [10/4/2004 06:41:10 PM]

First, Meg Hourihan drops out of high tech to become a chef in Nantucket. Now, Ev says adios to Blogger and makes final hand-off to Google. I'm looking forward to what he may get up to next, after he's spent some time decompressing.

Buena suerte, Ev. You done good.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

La Terre Vue du Ciel

Found a link to La Terre Vue du Ciel on TNH's Making Light

Terrific pictures. Take a look. High-speed connection a must because even just the thumbnails take a while to load.

Just yesterday his nibs said he'd sent in the extra lucre for us to go up for an aerial view of the Nazca lines instead of wandering around Cuzco for the day, the alternative.

The camera, what camera to take along, is the question.

George W. Bush Yard Gnomes

George W. Bush Yard Gnome -- a must-have no matter what your party affiliation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Blatant, Shameless Self-Promotion

Julian Guthrie, Staff Writer, wrote an article about Rich Shapero for Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle.

Venture capitalist rewrites the starving-author story

With deep pockets and an even deeper belief in his inner Hemingway, first-time novelist Rich Shapero is taking vanity publishing to a new level.

The Silicon Valley venture capitalist wrote his novel, founded a company to publish it and then launched one of the biggest and most colorful individual book giveaways ever.

Shapero, 56, is spending nearly a half-million dollars to promote "Wild Animus," due in stores in early October. And he has a 13-city book tour planned.

Thousands of advance copies have been handed out at music festivals, food fairs and art exhibits. Actors dressed as rams -- a key character in Shapero's book -- have stampeded book industry events. Shapero paid for the creation of a directory of book clubs nationwide, and then offered books for free.

He also sent copies to interested members of Bookcrossing.com, the online community of 250,000 bibliophiles. Members have posted reviews ranging from "Weird and different," to "One of the worst books I ever read."

Shapero is part of a self-publishing explosion that has enabled wannabe writers to print books on demand.


We've bumped into this guy and his gang of book floggers at events in Washington Square Park and down by the Bay. There's a copy of his book on my bookshelves, but I haven't cracked the cover yet.

What if all new authors had half a mil to spend on self-promotion? Our weekend art shows and BDSM fairs would be awash with people got up in ram outfits and posing with giant Gumbies.

The article mentioned that Kirkus Reviews -- the cutting bloody edge of book reviewing -- will begin reviewing self-published books -- for a small $350 fee! You can imagine the brouhahah pay-for-review is creating in publishing circles.

Guthrie also mentioned a National Endowment for the Arts survey released earlier this year, which found that the percentage of Americans reading has dropped over the last two decades, but the number of people taking creative writing courses is up by 30%.

Zounds! No wonder POD has taken off. All those creative writers looking for an outlet.

Another stat I came across in the article (and then failed to confirm so I had to drop my numbers by 10K) claimed 165K books published in the U.S. last year -- a 37% increase since 2000. This column mulls over the news.

Double zounds!

... and now if anyone pops Rich Shapero's name into Google, they'll come up with this blog entry.

That's how Blatant, Shameless Self-Promotion works.

(Who cares what they said? Did they spell my name right? Did they get the book title right?)

Weekend wending

The Telegraph Hill Dwellers were having a 50th anniversary picnic up at Coit Tower, complete with a visit from an antique firetruck with our Fire Chief, Herb Caen, Emperor Norton and Lillie Hitchcock Coit on board. The picnic started at noon. About 10 a.m. we decided to dash over to Bonham's and Butterfield's to see what sort of stuff they had up for sale at their SoMa auction. We could make it over, dash around a bit, and make it back in time for the picnic.

But alas. ...

Downtown was a huge mess. We came down Hyde and were redirected down Market. All the left turns off Market were blocked. We finally cut over on South Van Ness, but roads were blocked again and again. Obviously there was a party going on that we hadn't heard about.

People were walking into the street fair area. Butch guys with six-pack abs in tight leathers, some in leather shorts and fringed vests. Gay pride? No. There were other couples with both guy and gal in leathers, hers a micro skirt with a fringed vest, his just leather pants. Ordinary looking folk were also heading in the same direction. We were curious, but not enough so to be even later for the THD picnic than we were.

The only thing at B&B's that I would've bid on was already so close to the auction gavel that an absentee bid would never have made it in on time and I don't do live auction. We headed home, skirting around the happening south of Market.

Yesterday, we discovered what we'd missed:


Feast your eyes on the world's largest display of PDA: the leather and fetish fun fair brings after-dark action into the light of day with a mile of spanking booths, leather vendors, slaves and masters, under-the-sun dance stages with some of the city's best DJs -- and things you've never dared to imagine. Donation at the gate. 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Folsom Street between Seventh and 12th streets, San Francisco.

The fair is held the last Sunday in September. This past Sunday was sunny and blue. A good time was had by all, reports say.

Is this one of those "only in San Francisco" things?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

[FOOD] Eating in

I'd bought two eggplants last week and used one in an eggplant-pork stirfry, served with steamed rice.

The other eggplant was showing its age, so I tossed together a quick dinner around it, influenced by Sunday lunch at Slanted Door.

Peel the eggplant. Cut into chunks the size of your terminal thumb joint. Chop up some purple onion. Take the leftover eggplant-pork stirfry out of the frig.

Heat the wok. Add peanut oil. Toss in the onion and let it sizzle for a bit. Toss in the eggplant and pour a bit of sesame seed oil over it. Toss a tablespoon or so of chopped garlic on top. Toss. Set a while. Toss. Set a while. Toss. Set a while until the eggplant is cooked through.

Meantime, take the jug of ginger-garlic-stirfry sauce out of the frig and pour a bit into a small glass bowl. Add rice wine vinegar and some sesame seed oil. Stirtaste. Add more vinegar if the sauce is still too thick and sweet. Not too much sesame seed oil. A little goes a long way. Add hot pepper sauce for a bit of zip.

Give the eggplant another toss and throw in the leftover eggplant-pork stirfry from the other night. Heat through.

Serve with leaves of Romaine lettuce and sprigs of basil.

Put a couplefew leaves of basil on the lettuce leaf. Add the eggplant concoction. Drizzle a spoonful of the adulterated stir sauce over the contents. Fold the lettuce leaf up like a taco -- wrapping it like a burrito won't work.




Tuesday, September 21, 2004

[FOOD] Hot Vietnamese coffee and more at The Slanted Door

The Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco

His nibs has no patience for sitting at the end of a telephone line listening to it ring at the other end. Our schedule's fractured 'twixt here and there and we don't always know where we'll be on any given day. Getting into The Slanted Door was not an easy task.

We still haven't made it for dinner -- we're thinking of making a special effort to eat there with our friend Sally, who first raved to us about the place when it was down on Valencia in the Mission District, before it moved to the Ferry Building. We watched the restaurant taking shape, but hadn't been able to get in since it opened in early April ... until Sunday.

His nibs made reservations for 1:15 p.m. I spent the morning racing back to Dale to pull all the stuff I had spread out on the patio by the pool back into my office, to shelter it from unseasonable and unexpected rain. I dashed off after breakfast and made it back with time to spare enough to change and to walk down the Steps and over to the Ferry Building. We arrived at 1:16 p.m.

We had to wait a few minutes for our table, an expected occurence when you're at the tail end of the lunch hour in a packed restaurant. The folks before us probably dawdled, as we did, over the food. We were lucky enough to get a table for four, with room to spread out. The dining room manager suggested we both sit with our backs to the window that faced toward Pier One, so we could both see the view of the Bay Bridge through the huge windows that face the Bay.

His nibs leaned over after she left and added, "plus it makes it easier to serve us."


The tables are thick 3" blocks of rough cut, polished wood. The table next to us had interesting carving designs on the edges caused by sub-bark wood varmints of some sort. The tables were set with simple square off-white plates, a folded white cloth napkin and a pair of dark wood chopsticks.

On the wall opposite us was a huge photograph of a Vietnamese woman. Her head tilted back, she was covering her mouth with one hand. She was laughing, I thought. Just the look of her cheered me. His nibs said, "Maybe she's sneezing."

"No," I answered. "She's giggling. The photographer said something about how beautiful she is and she's averting her eyes and laughing behind her hand."

We decided that the photograph would make a good psychological test. What do you see in this picture?

Our staffer was excellent. He was slim with various piercings and tattoos and a great looking short mohawk. (Most of the male wait staff either had shaved heads or "interesting" haircuts as did some of the female wait staff.) Our staffer patiently explained the menu setup and answered any questions we had. He pointed out that the main dishes come with rice but no vegetables, so if we were wanting a vegetable, we should order a separate dish.

One of the pair of women next to us was trying to decide which white wine to have with their lunch. He brought two glasses to her, each with a couple swallows of white wine in it so she could have a taste test and choose which one she preferred. I don't often see that.

We chose a chinon (cab franc) from Domaine Baudry, a Loire wine. The wine list was replete with rieslings, which apparently pair well with Vietnamese foods. His nibs mentioned that the current Wine Spectator has a spread on Slanted Door, paying tribute to their reknowned wine list.

crispy imperial rolls

The roll comes cut into 1" slices on a serving dish with sprigs of mint, a mound of glass noodles, a dish of dipping sauce and lettuce leaves. You take a lettuce leaf and layer the mint, piece of imperial roll, and noodles on the leaf, roll it up and dip it in the sauce. Or dip the roll in the sauce before you roll up the lettuce. The lettuce leaves were too small for the fillings, but the tastes of the shrimp and pork with the mint and sauce were superb. Finger food and messy, but delish.

Vietnamese crêpe

Like the imperial roll, you package bits of the crêpe up with sauce and mint in a lettuce leaf. The crêpe was light and crunchy on the outside and packed full of pork and shrimp, bean sprouts and onion. Cut the crêpe into manageable pieces, package it up. I preferred to spoon the sauce [a different sauce from the imperial rolls] over the lettuce contraption before I wrapped it up, but dipping the wrapped leaf would work too. The lettuce pieces weren't large enough to do a thorough wrap and, again, this was finger food and messy.

Perhaps we should've chosen a completely different sort of appetizer for our second, but both were so good, we didn't care.

grilled five-spice chicken with tamarind dipping sauce

The chicken is served with steamed jasmine rice, served in a lidded bowl with a sprinkling of green onions on top. The rice was wonderful. The chicken and the tamarind dipping sauce were tasty, but gave me no reason to opt for the dish again the next time we're back in lieu of trying something different. The menu looks like it would be wonderful to work through dish by dish.

spicy organic haricot vert with honshimeji mushrooms

The beans were skinny, small, uncut beans. Delish. Spicy, but not too. A repeatable dish. Definitely.

The women to our right had been watching as each of our dishes arrived, asking us what the dish was and asking whether it was vegetarian. I pointed out that the imperial rolls and the Vietnamese crêpes both come in vegetarian versions.

When the beans arrived, they said, those look like beans. Where are they on the menu?

At the top of the Vegetables section, I replied. Then realized that if you don't know what an haricot vert is, you'd probably miss knowing what was being offered.

The lunch was wonderful and we were ready for a dessert to share. We had a hard time choosing from the dessert menu but finally decided to be adventurous and try

Thai basil panna cotta in mango soup

This dessert was incredible. The panna cotta was excellent and the Thai basil flavoring was intriguing. I, for one, despite my love of basil, forget that it is a kissing cousin to mint. This dessert reminds you. The mango soup had chunks of mango in it and was a perfect foil for the panna cotta. I'm going to have to try to create something similar for home meals.

Along with dessert I had a hot Vietnamese coffee, which I'd never had before, and his nibs had a pot of Liu An tea. The Vietnamese coffee is served in a glass with an inch or so of sweetened condensed milk in the bottom. The coffee is dripbrewed on top of the milk, which is thick enough that you're left with a two-toned glass of milk and coffee when the coffee is through brewing. Take the long-handled spoon and stir up the concoction. Drink. If you order the coffee iced, it comes with a separate glass of crushed ice and you pour the coffee over the ice when the brewing is complete. We were both happy with our choices of drinks -- perfect endings to a delish meal.

Some two hours or so after arriving, we walked out, stopping by the Ferry branch of Book Passage on our way home.

We will definitely be exploring Slanted Door's expanded dinner menu some time, hopefully not too far in the future.