: views from the Hill

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Vischeck has an absolutely amazing tool!

I've griped at Web developers forever about designing for the colorblind amongst us. "Please no red lettering on a black background," I'd say. "Ja, ja, ja. I know you think it's pretty, but a good percent of your users won't be able to see your text, let alone read it." They'd act like I was demented.

According to legalarts.com, "About eight percent of Caucasian males, five percent of Asiatic males, and three percent of males of other races are affected by dyschromatopsia. Only about a half-percent of females of any given race are affected." That's a good number of users who are affected by Web designers that don't (or won't) understand the situation.

Vischeck's Web tool takes a given URL and returns a page that shows how the page would appear to someone with one of the three major types of color blindness - perfect for showing why-should-I-care designers where their oh-so-flashy sites will stumble. Great!

The site also has examples of how the colorblind see various images differently from the non-colorblind. Other information too.

The Political Compass

Pastorio posted a link to the Political Compass page & quiz in misc.writing earlier today.

I'd sworn off any more quizzes for the day, but couldn't remember what results I had the last time I took this quiz a year or two or three ago and couldn't find the results in my archives. ... so ... I took the quiz again.

I wound up in the same general area (Economic Left/Right: -3.50; Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.64) that I had before -- almost smack dab 'longside the Dalai Lama but with just a tad squeeze more Social Libertarian tilt.

Harwood said he'd changed his Republican party membership after decades. Made me stop and think, but I decided yesterday, after much havering, against joining that caravan when I realized that if I changed my registration, I wouldn't be able to vote for Republican candidates in the primaries and offset the votes from the wingnuts kitty-corner on the grid.

Web quizzes

I'm entertained by Web quizzes and I'm drawn to them even though most are so amateur and ham-handed the results mean nothing at all.

The primary question is, "Who wrote the quiz?" 'tis one thing if you have someone who half knows what he's doing, providing a shortened Myers-Briggs questionnaire. 'tis another thing altogether when you have a thirteen-year-old who's cranking out ten quizzes a day with titles like

Are You Addicted to IM?
what football player are you
Which band are you?
Which "Pretear" character are you?
What kind of kiss are you?
If You Were A Barbie, Which Messed Up Version Would You Be?
which happy bunny are you?

OK. So I'm also a bit of a spelling and grammar snob. Go further into some Quizilla quizzes ... e.g. (from "What Mythological Creature Are You (Many Results and Beautiful Pics)")

Its the weekend now... What are you using your spare time for?
1) Drawing, Writing
2) Sitting in the Park
3) Church ^_^ and prayer.
4) Im evaluating employees for my boss.
5) Im in my room listening to my CDs
6) Coaching a group of little soccer players.
7) Im reading with intervals of tonail painting ^_^.
8) Playing with knives/ razorblades
9) Im trying to get what I want from those pathetic specimens I call parents.
10) Im torutring my younger siblings. Aww quit crying! I hate it when they cry within the first five minutes! It ruins the challenge.
11) Im...doing...something?
12) Im at the beach.

sigh ...

Web quizzes are a bit like horoscopes, Lilian Jackson Brauns and soft-centered chocolates. Too many'll make me feel sickish and even just a few leave me with a "Whyever did I spend time doing that?" feeling.

When I read someone's blog and see an interesting "I taste like tea" quiz result, I more often than not wander over to see what the quiz is all about, but holey-moley, I can't try every quiz I see. I could spend my entire online time tracking down and taking quizzes. Quizilla alone claims to have 500360 quizzes online.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Back from ...

camp with something like seven pages of "to do."

Camp was its usual peaceful self.

Sunday night Rob Dunbar talked about global climate change and the research he's doing in Antarctica. Interesting stuff. Made me think of PJ for some odd reason.

Robert Sapolsky, a funny guy, talked Thursday night, giving a brief overview of the research covered in his book Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. Sapolsky posits that stress has an adverse affect on our health and that we have way too many "to do" lists.

Be that as it may, I have to-do lists. In fact, I'd written up my to-do lists for my near and far futures Thursday before I heard the talk and found out to-do lists may be hazardous to my health.

Tops on my many pages of "to do" are the August column and getting Dale ready for market.

What else exciting happened while I was gone? Not much. The latest escrow is proceeding apace, which means I should get back to my to-do lists and stop frittering away time on the 'net.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Haiku for Scalzi

Scalzi's giving away Gmail accounts to the four most amusing (his determination) haikus left on his comments thread between now and tomorrow (that's Wednesday 16Jun2004) noon (that's EDT).

The haiku must describe the poster's "rapturous love of cheese."

His example?

Mmmmm, Velveeta cheese
Saffron-colored block of goo
Microwave friendly!

Find the contest at Scalzi's WHATEVER, more specifically http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/archives/000934.html

Haven't been able to get to the site for the last hour or so. Maybe I shouldn't've told two million lurkers about the opportunity, but I have my Gmail account already and even have some spares for family and friends, so here's my haiku with no expectation of a Gmail account in return. (It's not amusing and it doesn't fully describe my "rapturous love of cheese" either.)

mid-summer evening
good friends. ripe brie. old vines zin.
crickets chirp. full moon

Which reminds me. It's time for supper.

Concord Eye-Q 4060 4.0 Megapixel Digital Camera

The first ever pic from my first ever digital camera.


"Say, 'Hello,' Molson."

"You wish, lady."

$119.98 plus tax (free shipping) from Office Max. A $20 mail-in rebate covers the tax and more.

update:PhotoShop gives you ...


[FOOD] Town Hall

Town Hall
342 Howard Street (at Fremont -- south of Market)
San Francisco, CA 94105

Lunch weekdays. Dinner nightly.

Make a reservation. Trust me on this. If all else fails, and you show up without a reservation, you may find a spot at the communal dining table out front, but don't count on it.

We'd first snacked at Town Hall at the beginning of May, and really liked the noshes that Baseline fed us in the upstairs room. Afterwards, when we went downstairs and asked how long a wait for a table might be, we were told an hour to an hour and a half, so we walked over to One Market for dinner that night.

I'd always intended to go back, but between this and that and Aqua and Rubicon, we just hadn't returned.

Last Friday, the older younger guy and his spouse were visiting and we walked down to Belden Place for dinner, knowing we'd find a place for four without a reservation. We did, at B44, a Catalan restaurant we'd been to before which has wonderful paellas.

The guys went home on Saturday, and we were at loose ends, deciding where to eat Saturday night. "Town Hall," I suggested. His nibs called for a reservation around eight and we nabbed one for 10PM. The walk to and fro was forty minutes each way. We arrived at 10P and were seated immediately. The place was hopping and we felt kind of smug because people who'd shown up without reservations were being slightly bitchy to the room host after they were told how long a wait it would be for a table.

The meal was everything I'd hoped it would be. Service was smooth without being hovering. Water glasses filled. Wine poured.

Town Hall serves what they call "New American" cuisine. Think the old stand-bys cooked in a new way. The chefs (Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal) also run Postrio at 545 Post St, off Union Square.

His nibs chose the CL Pinot Noir from Sonoma for the meal. I started with tuna tartare and was served a healthy portion of delicious fresh fish with a spicy sauce to the side and a scattering of sprouts -- spicy sprouts, radish maybe?

His nibs opted for the cornmeal crusted fried oysters served on a salad of baby spinach with a creamy Herbsaint bacon dressing. (Herbsaint is a New Orleans liqueur, an absinthe substitute, I've been told.) We swapped plates halfway through. Both dishes were remarkable.

I had a hard time deciding on a main dish (scallops, no ... duck, no ... ribeye, no...) and finally opted for scallops, served over jambalaya made with andouille sausage. The dish came with three large, tasty, broiled scallops. The jambalaya was rich, thick and loaded with spicy sausage. Because of the season, there was a healthy amount of fresh cracked crab meat scattered along the edges of the jambalaya. I took one scallop and a third of the jambalaya home for breakfast the next day.

His nibs chose the peanut and tasso crusted pork chop, which he found delicious. The chop came with a mashed veg, potato? something else? Whatever it was was very tasty and had been mashed, it seemed, with heavy whipping cream and butter. Delish. His nibs cleaned his plate. During the walk home and for the first half of Sunday, he kept wishing he'd taken just a little bit of his dish home as well.

The dishes are hearty, filling and rich. Be warned.

For dessert I chose a half chocolate-half butterscotch pot de creme with a buttercrunch layer. Delicious. Comfort food. His nibs, filled with pork chop, didn't order any dessert so he could help me finish off mine. I couldn't have finished it on my own.

Town Hall is a remodeled old warehouse building. Some of the walls are exposed brick and although the ceilings are high, the noise reverberates. If you have more than two people dining together, carrying on a conversation might be difficult. We had problems with just the two of us.

Staff dances in and out and between diners, delivering food and clearing tables. The logistics for delivering food and retrieving plates were not the easiest. I watched as waiters stepped nimbly around people standing in their way and was amazed that no one dropped a dish on someone.

The bill arrives inside an old book, like a bookmark. The table next to us got Plays of Near and Far by Lord Dunsany. We received our bill in The Culture of Courage by Frank Channing Haddock. Hm. I just checked. The complete title is The Culture of Courage -- A Practical Companion Book for Unfoldment of Fearless Personality The delivery method was a clever touch that appealed to a book hugger like me. note: You have to give the book back.

Town Hall is on my "return when you're feeling like New American comfort cuisine" list. Definitely a repeatable experience.

Me, and tens of thousands

Dear S J Towse,

Will you join Laura, me and the entire Republican Party leadership as we gather on the evening of July 21st here in Washington, D.C., to celebrate my first term of office?

And while I am honored to be recognized, the truth is, much work remains to be done and none of what we have accomplished to date would have been possible without you.

Your steadfast support has made the Republican Party America's majority party.


So all of us -- Senate Majority Leader Frist, House Speaker Hastert, Vice President Cheney, Laura and I -- owe you a deep debt of gratitude for your support.

And all of us want to recognize and honor the commitment and sacrifices you've made for our Party and our nation.


Let's celebrate our Party's leadership and our nation's spirit and strength together.

George W. Bush

The enclosed letter from House Speaker Dennis Hastert goes on for four pages and invites me to dinner (or to just make a donation if I can't make dinner so I can be listed as an Honorary Co-Chairman of the Dinner).

"Tickets to The President's Dinner are $2,500 each, or you may purchase a table of ten for your friends and family for $25,000."


I was honored.

If I contributed at least $150, I could get a "unique, limited edition, numbered, four-photograph series entitled 'George W. Bush, The First Term.'" How could I pass up such an invite?

Then I found out they'd sent his nibs an invitation too. ... and who knows who else.

Come to think of it, if I were going to spend $5,000 on a Republican Party fundraiser, I would've signed up for the local party recently and had my picture taken with our gov.

What a Christmas card photo that would've been.

Expensive chapter in family history

From the Star-Ledger comes this tale of downsizing woe and, yet, his nibs wonders why I am so cautious about what does and doesn't get thrown or given away during this lead up to the shift out of the south bay abode.

NewsTrove - news search engine

NewsTrove indexes 192,000 news sources (and the number continues to grow): "websites of major print and television news organizations, plus websites from local market radio and television stations, daily newspaper websites of cities both large and small, government websites, corporate websites, military websites, political organization websites, political commentary and opinion websites, websites of universities and other educational institutions, plus many of the higher quality weblogs."

Search the results with the online search or checkout "Latest News" or the pre-filtered News Topics, sorted by type and within type by specific topic. e.g. BUSINESS, subtopics: Agribusiness, Alan Greenspan, Arbitron, Asset Allocation, More...

RSS subscription available.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Book roll

Found this here, which found it here, after I tracked the list down after reading about it on BlogPulse.

There's a film roll floating around somewhere as well. Maybe I'll track that one down and mark it up.

Or not.

I realized last night, watching What Women Want with the younger younger guy, that I'd seen the movie before, after watching half of it. I must've seen it on an airplane, because I don't watch much TV and hardly ever go to movies. What a dumb dumb dumb movie (except for Helen Hunt, Judy Greet, and Ashley Johnson, who were superb).

Is it just that I really don't much like Mel Gibson?

The younger, younger guy can't understand my strong negative reactions to Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, and the like.

"They're just actors, Mom," he tells me.


So, how does this book roll stuff work?

Take the list.

Italicize those you've read part of.

Bold those you've finished reading.

Underline those you own.

Add three to the list.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. 1984, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Sorcerers Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alices Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas -- the unabridged version in the English translation
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Susskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. Georges Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Gross-mith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews
201. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
202. The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
203. The Great Hunt, Robert Jordan
204. The Dragon Reborn, Robert Jordan
205. Fires of Heaven, Robert Jordan
206. Lord of Chaos, Robert Jordan
207. Winters Heart, Robert Jordan
208. A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan
209. Crossroads of Twilight, Robert Jordan
210. A Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan
211. As Nature Made Him, John Colapinto
212. Microserfs, Douglas Coupland
213. The Married Man, Edmund White
214. Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin
215. The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
216. Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice
217. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, John Boswell
218. Equus, Peter Shaffer
219. The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
220. Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
221. Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn
222. The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
223. Anthem, Ayn Rand
224. The Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
225. Tartuffe, Moliere
226. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
227. The Crucible, Arthur Miller
228. The Trial, Franz Kafka
229. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
230. Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles
231. Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
232. A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen
233. Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen
234. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
235. A Raisin In The Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
236. ALIVE!, Piers Paul Read
237. Grapefruit, Yoko Ono
238. Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde
240. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
241. Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson
242. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
242. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
243. Summerland, Michael Chabon
244. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
245. Candide, Voltaire
246. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl
247. Ringworld, Larry Niven
248. The King Must Die, Mary Renault
249. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
250. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle
251. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
252. The House Of The Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
253. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
254. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
255. The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
256. Chocolate Fever, Robert Kimmel Smith
257. Xanth: The Quest for Magic, Piers Anthony
258. The Lost Princess of Oz, L. Frank Baum
259. Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
260. Lost In A Good Book, Jasper Fforde
261. Well Of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde
261. Life Of Pi, Yann Martel
263. The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
264. A Yellow Raft In Blue Water, Michael Dorris
265. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
267. Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
268. Griffin & Sabine, Nick Bantock
269. Witch of Blackbird Pond, Joyce Friedland
270. Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien
271. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
272. The Cay, Theodore Taylor
273. From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
274. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
275. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
276. The Kitchen God's Wife, Amy Tan
277. The Bone Setter's Daughter, Amy Tan
278. Relic, Duglas Preston & Lincolon Child
279. Wicked, Gregory Maguire
280. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
281. Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry
282. The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
283. Haunted, Judith St. George
284. Singularity, William Sleator
285. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
286. Different Seasons, Stephen King
287. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
288. About a Boy, Nick Hornby
289. The Bookman's Wake, John Dunning - read this past weekend
290. The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns
291. Illusions, Richard Bach
292. Magic's Pawn, Mercedes Lackey
293. Magic's Promise, Mercedes Lackey
294. Magic's Price, Mercedes Lackey
295. The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Gary Zukav
296. Spirits of Flux and Anchor, Jack L. Chalker
297. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
298. The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Brenda Love
299. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace.
300. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison.
301. The Cider House Rules, John Irving.
302. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
303. Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland
304. The Lions Game, Nelson Demille
305. The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars, Stephen Brust
306. Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
307. Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
308. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
309. Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk
310. Camber of Culdi, Kathryn Kurtz
311. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
312. War and Rememberance, Herman Wouk
313. The Art of War, Sun Tzu
314. The Giver, Lois Lowry
315. The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
316. Xenogenesis (or Lilith's Brood), Octavia Butler
317. A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold
318. The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
319. The Aeneid, Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil)
320. Hanta Yo, Ruth Beebe Hill
321. The Princess Bride, S. Morganstern (or William Goldman)
322. Beowulf, Anonymous
323. The Sparrow, Maria Doria Russell
324. Deerskin, Robin McKinley
325. Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
326. Passage, Connie Willis
327. Otherland, Tad Williams
328. Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
329. Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
330. Beloved, Toni Morrison
331. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christs Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
332. The mysterious disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel, Ellen Raskin
333. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
334. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
335. The Island on Bird Street, Uri Orlev
336. Midnight in the Dollhouse, Marjorie Filley Stover
337. The Miracle Worker, William Gibson
338. The Genesis Code, John Case
339. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
340. Paradise Lost, John Milton
341. Phantom, Susan Kay
342. The Mummy or Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice
343. Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
344: The Dresden Files: Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
345: Tokyo Suckerpunch, Issac Adamson
346: The Winter of Magics Return, Pamela Service
347: The Oddkins, Dean R. Koontz
348. My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
349. The Last Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
350. At Swim, Two Boys, Jaime O'Neill
351. Othello, by William Shakespeare
352. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas
353. The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats
354. Sati, Christopher Pike
355. The Inferno, Dante
356. The Apology, Plato
357. The Small Rain, Madeline L'Engle
358. The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Richard E Cytowick
359. 5 Novels, Daniel Pinkwater
360. The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Juliet Marillier
361. Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
362. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
363. Our Town, Thorton Wilder
364. Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King
335. The Interpreter, Suzanne Glass
336. The Moors Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie
337. The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
338. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
339. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
340. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
341. Pages for You, Sylvia Brownrigg
342. The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
343. Howls Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
344. Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
345. Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
346. Shosha, Isaac Bashevis Singer
347. Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
348. The Diving-bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
349. The Lunatic at Large by J. Storer Clouston
350. Time for Bed by David Baddiel
351. Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
352. Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
353. The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
354. Sewer, Gas, and Eletric by Matt Ruff
355. Jhereg by Steven Brust
356. So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
357. Perdido Street Station, China Mieville
358. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
359. Road-side Dog, Czeslaw Milosz
360. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
361. Neuromancer, William Gibson
362. The Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
363. A Canticle for Liebowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr
364. The Mask of Apollo, Mary Renault
365. The Gunslinger, Stephen King
366. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
367. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
368. A Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman
369. Ivanhoe, Walter Scott
370. The God Boy, Ian Cross
371. The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Laurie R. King
372. Finn Family Moomintroll, Tove Jansson
373. Misery, Stephen King
374. Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters
375. Hood, Emma Donoghue
376. The Land of Spices, Kate OBrien
377. The Diary of Anne Frank
378. Regeneration, Pat Barker
379. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
380. Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina Garcia
381. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
382. The View from Saturday, E.L. Konigsburg
383. Dealing with Dragons, Patricia Wrede
384. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss
385. A Severed Wasp, Madeleine LEngle
386. Here Be Dragons, Sharon Kay Penman
387. The Mabinogion (Ancient Welsh Tales), translated by Lady Charlotte E. Guest
388. The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown - haven't finished this one yet, it's in a pile somewhere.
389. Desire of the Everlasting Hills - Thomas Cahill
390. The Cloister Walk - Kathleen Norris
391. The Things We Carried, Tim O'Brien
392. I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb
393. Choke, Chuck Palahniuk
394. Ender's Shadow, Orson Scott Card
395. The Memory of Earth, Orson Scott Card
396. The Iron Tower, Dennis L. McKiernen
397. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
398. A Ring of Endless Light, Madeline L'Engle
399. Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy
400. Hyperion, Dan Simmons
401. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Jon McGregor
402. The Bridge, Iain Banks
403. Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, Daniel Quinn
404. Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
405. The Gold Coast, Nelson DeMille
406. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
407. Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis
408. Lost Horizon, James Hilton

I can't really say for sure exactly which books I own and which I don't. I erred on the conservative side. I inherited a lot of books, tons of Pratchett, from Casey. The reason the books are waiting to be sorted is so I'll realize which books I have multiple copies of, which books I own, so when I go into a bookstore I won't buy a third copy of Golden Compass.

I am not as well read as some people I could name. I can't even really say which books I've read part way and put down. So many ... and so many years.

How much is "part way" and how much is "I started a page or two but decided to read something else instead that day"?

Oh, well. This exercise took far longer than I thought it would, but after investing a chunk of time and still being a ways from the end, I slogged through so I'd at least wind up with a list of books I haven't got around to reading and maybe should.

Just look at all those books on this list that I own and haven't read. If I get TB or break my back, I'll have enough books on hand to keep me going for months.

Currently reading: Amy Tan's The Opposite of Fate and Gerry Spence's 7 Simple Steps to Personal Freedom

Chicago Tribune | Sex case pits library against cops

[registration required for the Tribune's story]

This isn't a Patriot Act library story -- it couldn't be because the library and librarians couldn't have spoken about a Patriot Act story. This is a different story, from the Chicago Tribune:

Sex case pits library against cops
In Naperville, librarians cite state law--and the Constitution--in forcing police to get a court order before releasing the identity of a man accused of looking at Internet porn

By James Kimberly Tribune staff reporter
Published June 11, 2004

This story contains corrected material, published June 12, 2004.

When three teenagers in Naperville's Nichols Library reported seeing a man fondling himself while looking at Internet pornography, library workers called police.

The man left before officers arrived, so police asked to see who was logged on at the computer. To the surprise of police, the library refused, opening another chapter in the controversy over how much access law enforcement should have to library records.

"We think it is incumbent upon them, since they're in the business of providing a safe environment and we're in the business of providing public safety, to cooperate with us," said Naperville Police Capt. Ray McGury.

The library stood behind the Illinois Library Records Confidentiality Act, which says patrons' privacy must be protected unless there is a court order to release information.

What I find disturbing is the Naperville police reaction to the library telling them that according to law the police must provide a court order before the library can release information about a patron.

The police reaction was sort of a 'Well, sure that's the law and that's all well and good but we're talking about safety here, law breaking. What if we really need the information and we want it !now!! You mean to say you won't give it to us?'

The Naperville Police Department believes the confidentiality law was intended to keep it from spying on people, not to prevent library employees from helping officers solve crimes, McGury said.

"I asked them, 'If a child is snatched from this library do I have to get a search warrant to get information on who was here?' and they said, 'Based on the state law, yes.' God forbid that happens."

The law says that it's not up to the police to determine when they do and don't need a court order. If they feel their need for information is justified, just go get the court order already.

So call me easily amused

When times are slow and/or I'm waiting for something or someone, I sometimes check in with SiteMeter to see who's been visiting the blog and from whence the visitor(s) came.

My most recent check, within the last hour, served up the following:

paulalight.blogspot.com still reigns supreme of all referers. Thanks, Paula!

Someone stopped by with an MSN search for /aligngifcentre/.

Someone else found the blog with a Google search for /stuart brioza/ -- he, who with Nicole Krasinski, makes Rubicon such a fine place to dine. We're eating there Friday night with Steve and Paula, have I mentioned? (No, not that Paula.)

A Google search for "skate wing" brought a visitor. Arleen (Tuesday's Child) sent someone along, mayhap herself.

An Eniro.se search for /Chile Prospects hells angels/ brought someone to the blog. Bet they were surprised.

Someone else found me with an MSN search for /wwwnews 11.com/ Hm. I'm sure they were looking for the ABC affiliate in the Bay area but they got a little number about Tim B-L's blog instead.

An AOL search for /www.anss.org/ brought someone interested in seismology. A visitor referred by sceloporus hippolytis, another from Arleen, multiples from Paula.

What to make of it all? Nothing much. I'm simply curious, poking through the referrals, reading the entrails, wondering about my visitors.

El Raigon searches bring the highest percentage of random searchers these days.

I continue to be intrigued by the steadfast faithfulness of, who visits often to check out my blog updates.

Gee, a fan. ... from Philadelphia. No, not W.C. Fields. Hi!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

10 Super Foods You Should NEVER Eat!

From those laugh-a-minute folks at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 10 Super Foods You Should NEVER Eat! and the reasons why.

Bugles? I think maybe the one and only time I had Bugles was back in 1970 or so, but Alfredo sauce. mmmmmmmmmmm.

"The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle"

I've been having fun today, checking the weather in Seattle from the Space Needle Webcam, which you can move from here to there and zoom with buttons.

Not the spirit. Not the letter either.

There's all sorts of turmoil in alt.fiction.original and alt.writing. The turmoil is spilling over into misc.writing. The controversy swirls around Dr Zen, as is often the case. The controversy is over Zen's critiques of work posted for critique in AFO.

"But they're posted for critique!" you say. "How could it be controversial to critique them?"

Well, Zen crossposts his critiques to alt.writing, which is where he stashes interesting threads he finds elsewhere. Crossposting is a bit of the controversy, it seems. ("I only intended AFO to see this piece, not the world!")

The big flap, however, is over Zen posting without using the x-no-archive=yes flag which tells Googja not to archive his post when the original poster used the x-no-archive flag originally, intending to keep the work out of the Googja glob of posts.

"What does it matter?" you say.

Well, first off, if you use the x-no-archive=yes flag, not only won't Googja store your post, but no one using Google to read Usenet posts will even see your post. If a work for critique and all critique thereof is shielded behind the x-no-archive flag, folks using Google are missing out.

"So, what?"

The Zens of the world are providing their critique advice not only to the individual with the request but also to lurkers and readers above and beyond the person whose work they're critiquing. If Zen wanted to provide one-on-one critiquing, he could do so with e-mail. As it is, if someone uses Google to read Usenet, Zen's work is unavailable, if he shields it -- as some are requesting -- with the x-no-archive flag.

But he isn't, and there's the rub.

One of the AFO posters commented, "But the no archive thing. Jee-sus. How self-obsessed can you be? People use this group for stories they may try to publish. Publishers search Google sometimes. I was barred from a competition I'd won exactly because of that."

So cheat, this fella says. Post to Usenet for help and critique and feedback, but use the x-no-archive flag so publishers and competition judges won't be able to track you down.


These spotlessly honest folks complaining about Zen and x-no-archive want critiquers of their x-no-archive'd work to x-no-archive as well, so that even a hint of their work won't show up in the Googja archives. Please critique, but don't archive your critique because your critique will reference my work as well and I told the publisher it had never been published.

Some publishers don't consider a Usenet post publication. Others do.

The guidelines at OnSpec specify, "We do not read E-mailed or faxed submissions, and we do not buy work that has appeared in print or on the Internet." There are no fuzzy waffling words defining a different "is it published?" status for publishing on a web site, webzine or Usenet newsgroup.

For this publisher, publishing "on the Internet" means "published" and they won't buy it.

My take is, if you want to workshop your work before submitting it for publication and you deal with publishers who consider any appearance on the Internet as publication, don't post the work to a Usenet newsgroup. Find some other venue: a private mailing list, e-mail.

Is it legit to post your work on a Usenet newsgroup for critique, using the x-no-archive flag to tell Googja not to archive it so you can later fib about whether it was ever on Usenet? Is it legit to skate around an editor's requirements by using x-no-archive so you can lie about the status of your work, so that an editor, searching for your story on the Web won't see that you've already shared it with the untold millions of lurkers?

Another AFO poster claimed he was using x-no-archive not because he was trying to scam publishers but because he didn't want his family reading something he'd written. My advice there? Don't publish anything to Usenet you wouldn't want your mom or Aunt Emma to read. Just don't. If you plan to do so and plan to use the x-no-archive so Mom and Aunt Emma can't find your post in Googja, you must realize you have no guarantee that someone won't follow up on your post and leave off the x-no-archive flag.

You also have no right to tell someone else that they must not archive their own posts because they reference one of yours.

When Steve Madere and his wacky crazy crew began archiving Usenet in 1995, they started from scratch and they started small. At the beginning, they didn't archive alt, talk or soc. They started from Day One. Only later, after the Deja archive was well underway, did they begin archiving alt, talk and soc and also begin reaching back, creating an archive of older posts from backup tapes held by institutions, companies and individuals.

When Google bought Deja, they found even older resources and pushed the archives even further back.

No one in 1985 dreamt that in 2004, someone could retrieve comments they made in Usenet in 1985, but as Madere said way back in 1995, "When you post to Usenet, it automatically gets propagated to tens of thousands of computers. So anybody who posted something to Usenet and then later on has any kind of privacy concerns about it must have seriously misunderstood what they were doing."

Instead of using x-no-archive=yes and yammering on (and on and on) that anyone referencing your post should do the same, Just. Don't. Post. To. Usenet.

Hazardous waste. Dump.

Chuck came over yesterday afternoon, right on schedule, and we discussed ... prices -- what prices homes had gone for, what homes currently on the market were priced, what prices people had asked and what prices they'd accepted.

The price he thinks we'd get for this tree lush flat acre, in one of the best school districts in California, nestled in the verdant foothills of the majestic (or so the real estate agents say) Santa Cruz Mountains, is more than I would've thought possible back before the boom/bust of the early part of this decade. The price Chuck thinks we'd get is far less than what his nibs is hoping for, based on a couple recent sales in the immediate neighborhood. We'll see who's guesstimate is right.

You live in a place for twenty-going-on-seven years and you develop an affection for it. I'm sad to think that whoever buys this place will probably scrape it, fill in the pool, put up an ersatz Il Lago Como villa with, perhaps, a basement home theatre and a new pool a bit further to the back of the property.

It'll be lovely I'm sure.

For his nibs, the tugs are, of course, even more painful. His dad built this place in the late forties and, except for a gap when he went off to university and then to grad school and then taught at university for four or five years or so, this place has been his home. That makes what? Fifty-five years minus a multi-year gap over a quarter century ago.

The three bedrooms and two baths upstairs were built with his own hands and a bit of help from a carpenter friend and the carpenter's painter brother. Sure he's attached to this place. I helped him lay a parquet floor on the second story back in our courting days. The house is part of me too.

Chuck asks again, "Are you sure?" He doesn't want to deal with seller's remorse when the offers come in.

We have the escrow in Dogpatch closing near the end of the month if all goes well. We have a week at Sierra Camp too. This year the older younger guy and his spouse will be joining us. June is pretty well shot, time-wise, for any intense house fixingup.

Plan is, as of yesterday, to start prepping Dale for sale starting the first week in July. We'll need to clear out the dreck and have everything ready to show. Plan is to have all inspections and reports complete and all paint touchups, yardwork and carpentry repairs finished by August 1, at which point we'll throw the house on the market and see who's interested.

Today, I hauled all the half-empty, half-full, almost-empty, almost-full cans of paint and varnish out of the shed out by the horse corral, out of the pool's pump house, out of the tool shed, out of the garage. I called and made an appointment tomorrow at 10:45A with the Hazardous Materials folks. Our younger son, my steady helper, will show up and turn in as much old paint as possible. Being as paint is considered a hazardous waste, we can't move more than fifty pounds at a whack in a single vehicle -- about eight fairly full cans.

We're going to need more than one drop-off appointment, obviously. Tomorrow, I'll tag along in a separate car, carrying another fifty pounds of old paint. Then we'll see how many more appointments we'll need before we'll have disposed (properly! legally!) of the cans of old paint that seem to accumulate as years go by.

The fix-up process to prepare Dale for sale really began when we started sorting through the piles of stuff from Casey's place and the stuff we brought out of Customs before it sold.

With the sorting and dumping of old paint scheduled for tomorrow, though, I really feel like the process is no longer a game and a bit of dreaming but is well and truly under way.

Oh, my.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

[FOOD] Lüx, Luke and Kitty Sung's new place on Chestnut

We got the word yesterday in e-mail.

Today we are excited to announce Luke and Kitty Sung's new restaurant, Lüx, which will open on June 8th.

Lüx will be serving Asian small plates from a French chef's point of view.

Lüx is located at 2263 Chestnut Street, between Pierce and Scott, in San Francisco. We will be open Monday through Saturday for dinner from 5:30 until 11:00 beginning on June 8th.

Lüx will be open Monday through Sunday for lunch from 11:30-3:00 beginning on June fifteenth. To make reservations call us at 415.567.2998

We look forward to seeing you at Lüx!

Luke and Kitty Sung

Our younger son is spending part of each week in San Francisco as an unpaid intern at a non-profit at the Presidio. "Wanna come?" we asked. He did, so his nibs made a reservation for 8:30P and we walked over. (Fifty minutes to walk over. Fifty minutes to walk back. At least it makes some dent in the calories consumed.)

The place was rocking, packed full of people. Some had been drawn by an e-mail from Luke and Kitty. Some had stumbled over the place, not realizing they were attending a first night.

Luke came over and introduced himself to our son when we came in. Luke hadn't been at Isa last summer when the three of us ate there. "Hi, I'm Luke," he said, offering his hand. "Hi," the younger younger guy replied, giving his name in return. "I've heard a lot about you."

Dinner was filled with good things. Our son was suitably enamored. No foie, alas. Luke had told us that the closest thing to foie on the menu was a chicken liver dish I might like. The point of Lüx is to have a less formal restaurant experience, with light Asian/French fare. Less cream and rich foods, more seafood, more citrus.

When Luke came by to talk, we were reminiscing about the day we'd discovered Isa in spring 2001, nine months or so after he'd opened. We'd been drawn in by the menu he had posted on his window, drawn in by the fact he had both foie and sweetbreads on his menu.

Ah, he said, his eyes lighting up. Those are two of my best dishes, but I can't have foie on this menu. This menu has lighter fare than Isa and foie wouldn't fit. ...Sweetbreads, though. ... Maybe a sweetbread salad with mixed greens, arugula, a light fruity vinaigrette ... ah, he said. You could see his mind whirling about the possibilities of a sweetbread salad, light enough to suit the menu.

Luke and Kitty closed Isa for the next two weeks while they concentrate on Lüx. They've brought staff from Isa to supplement their new staff. Our waiter was the same waiter we'd had a couple weeks ago at Isa.

We ordered eight plates, but I wasn't keeping track so I can't give the ins and outs of flavors and decorative pieces of green. Here are my memories, brief as they are:

ceviche - yummy. The broth was spicy and when spooned up after the fish was gone, tasted very gazpacho-ish. The youngest of us doesn't much care for seafood, so he tried this dish and left it to his elders to split the rest.

chicken livers on a mixed green bed - delicious. Grilled -- with bacon fat? Tasted like it. Even better than the chicken livers I had on Monday night at The House.

wonton filled with warm goat cheese served with a relish made with dried apricots - yummy. We squabbled over how to split the plate equitably.

crab soup with corn - my least favorite of the dishes, but being as the rest were so extraordinary, this isn't to say the dish wasn't good. The soup was thickened with egg swirled into the broth. Our non-seafood eater had several spoonfuls and left the rest for us. Unlike Isa, Lüx doesn't arrange to split bowls of soup, so if you don't want to spoon out of the same bowl, you need to order separate bowls. We were just in a tasting mode, though, so we shared the same bowl.

zucchini croquettes - melt in your mouth. "This is the way you'd like to always eat vegetables, isn't it, Mom?" Oh, indeedy it is, I thought. The croquettes were served simply, on a black napkin set on a plate. There were five. How do you divide five by three? Very carefully.

Peking duck wraps - delicious. The Peking duck came with a touch of hoisin. The "wraps" weren't really. The hoison-flavored shredded duck meat was served in lettuce cups with pinenuts and shredded cabbage. A hit with all three of us.

hanger steak - deliciously spiced. Served in three pieces so it was easy to share. Cooked medium rare. I gave my son an extra portion of mine, being as he'd given up his fair share of the ceviche and the crab soup. The steak could've been more tender or the steak knives sharper, but the flavor was superb.

flash deep-fried green beans - called green beans tempura, iirc. Can't say what the flavoring was, but these beans were delicious. Thin, very thin green beans. The beans were tossed in the hot oil just long enough to crisp the outside and warm the beans through. Despite that description, the beans weren't greasy. The spices were perfect.

We each had a creme caramel for dessert. Our son had ordered a chocolate mousse, but they'd run out so Luke comp'd him a creme caramel in exchange. When we got our bill we found out that Kitty had put all our desserts on the house. Eight dishes, comp'd desserts, coffee for two of us and a bottle of wine set us back $$$, which was approximately what we'd paid for the exceptional dinner we had on Monday night at the House.

Our younger son much preferred Lüx and I'd make the same choice, if I had to choose. The nice thing is we can eat at Isa or Lüx, if we don't mind walking fifty minutes each way or taking the bus or calling a cab, but we also have the House serving up delicious food in North Beach within a ten-minute walk of home.

Luke seemed pleased with the opening night. There were things, he said, he was already thinking of changing. I hope he adds the sweetbread salad. I also hope he opts for a new menu design. The menus last night had black lettering on a roast coffee brown background. Pretty, but the contrast was insufficient, making the menu hard for older folks like me to read in the subdued lighting.

Yummy dinner. We'll definitely be back on a regular basis to see whether a sweetbread salad appears on the menu, but there are so many other places we haven't been.

A restaurant must be above average, usually far above average, for us to return. Lüx definitely meets that criteria. Isa. Aqua. The House. Piperade. Zarzuela. Others...

We're going with friends back to Rubicon next week. Going with other friends back to Isa in July. We're taking our older son and his husband out to dinner somewhere this weekend. We'll see how adventurous they're feeling, and how far they're willing to walk.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

"Never mind all this. How'd the party go???"

Twenty-five years, redux.

Twenty-five years we've given this party now. Twenty-five years spring and fall. We were giving the party before the younger guys were born -- the first party was some three months after we got married. We were giving the party when I was eight months plus pregnant with the older younger guy. We were giving the party when the younger younger guy was three months old and his older brother was almost three. Back when, we started cleaning for it weeks beforehand because of the inevitable trash and destruction that two toddler types could wreak.

This year was different. The house was a-shamble and I was stressed beyond ken. I worried that I'd never get the place in shape for the party. I had nightmares of monsters stalking, waiting to pounce.

The last week was a push to clear out the family room of all the miscellaneous stuff and bookcases filled with more stuff. There were multiple trips to the Goodwill with boxes and bags until the younger younger guy, who was my mainstay and steady helper, was embarrassed to make yet another trip and asked one of his parents to go along with him.

The last but one day, the younger younger guy was helpful beyond belief because he worried about my sanity.

... but in the end the place was clean. His nibs got home from work at 3P to help with the final prep. I even had time to wash and wax the floor. The counters were cleared and washed. The refrigerator in the garage was stashed full of sodas and beer and white wine that had been chilling since Tuesday. The plates and cups and glasses and 'ware were in place.

The coffee pot was set to go and the corkscrews were laid on the counter. We were putting the sofa covers back on after laundering when the door bell rang. Someone who'd flown in from Seattle for the party was on our doorstep: "Hope you don't mind me showing up a half hour early. I've come so far...." I left our early guest and his nibs downstairs while I showered and changed out of my dirty, dusty clothes.

The party went fine, Arleen, and thanks for asking. We saw loads of old friends, some of whom we don't see that often. Jim from Seattle shows up maybe once every five years. Others show up twice a year without fail. Some couldn't make it because they had children graduating high school, children who'd come to flings themselves. Most of the folks with younger children decided to leave them home this time. There were a mere handful of kids, but plenty of adults.

The party originated back in 1979 as an engineering group get-together. His nibs' engineering group had tried group get-togethers with spousal equivalents at a Chinese restaurant, but you didn't get much of a chance to talk to everyone, and so, the FUTS (Future Systems Engineering) Fling was born. Twice a year, spring and fall, the engineering group got together with spousal equivalents and children for a potluck feast. We provided the wine and beer, flavored sparkling water, sodas, coffee, tea, plates, 'ware, cups and glasses and everyone else brought something to eat.

At the beginning we made lists and had signups to make sure that there were n hors d'oeuvres and m main dishes and d desserts and s salads ... Because the company sponsored the event, the company reimbursed us for our libation and paperware costs and reimbursed the dish-bringers for the costs of whatever they'd brought. Eventually, I relaxed and stopped taking signups. People weren't there for the food and wine. They were there for the others. If everyone brought salad, it meant that everyone felt like eating salad and we'd have a strawberry-spinach salad and a potato salad and a fruit salad and a .... If everyone brought dessert, everyone felt like dessert.

No one ever went away hungry and there was always a wide variety of things to eat.

Eight years after the flings began, I went to work for the company too. The following year his nibs left the company, but the flings kept happening at our place because they'd always happened there. A few flings after that, the company founder/president refused to continue paying for the FUTS flings because he noticed that after each fling, one or more of his employees left to work for his nibs at his new company.

Cut free of the company purse strings, we continued to provide what we had always provided and folks continued to bring their dishes. Even without the company sponsorship, the flings thrived and we began inviting engineering nerd types who no longer worked with us at the company and hadn't been eligible to be invited as long as the company had been sponsoring the event. Eventually, some nerds who may have been only marginally connected also joined the ranks.

I stopped working for the company in 1992, but the flings continued ... and continued ... and continued. Eventually, the invited guest list totalled probably something like a hundred plus nerds and SOs and twenty plus children. Not all would come every time, but by having the party twice a year, we could be sure of seeing almost everyone at some point every year, year and a half. We watched children grow from babies to teenagers, drop the party, grow more, come back for a visit. We had two twenty-year-olds at the party Friday night, and a couple seven-year-olds and some in-between. No babies, but then the average age of nerd has been pushing up there and the youngest nerd is now ... over forty.

It's been a long time. A quarter of a century. Hard to believe.

We all like each other, like getting together, like catching up on the news, angling for work, offering work. The big subject of conversation Friday night was, "You're selling this place? BUT WHERE WILL WE HAVE THE FLING????? Is this The Last Fling? Say it isn't so."

Maybe it was The Last Fling or maybe Dale won't sell by the fall and will still be available as a party venue. Maybe we'll have the party at Hill and everyone can take Cal Train up and make plans to spend the night in San Francisco, as someone suggested. Maybe we'll have the party at Dogpatch where the parking is better.

Maybe someone else will take over the hosting duties.

Or maybe it was The Last Fling.

The party was good as it always is, and as I always know it will be even as I'm stressing out during the pre-party run-up. The FUTS folk are good folk, intelligent, interesting, nice. We always have a good time, no matter what sort of stress it is to set up for the party.

That's why we've hosted it for so long.

That's why people have been coming for so long.

That's why everyone was asking, "BUT WHERE WILL WE HAVE THE FLING?????"


The Dante's Inferno Test has banished me to the Seventh Level of Hell!

Here is how I matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Very High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The 10 Best Internet Fads

The Wave Magazine -- a local Bay Area phenom -- has an article by Seanbaby this issue titled The 10 Best Internet Fads.

Bet you'd forgotten about Bonsai Kitten.

Seanbaby tells us that there are 25,580 Google matches for "bonsai kittens" and 277 matches for "bonsai kittens" on the same page as "hitler."

From the article:

While Japanese workers are slaving away for 22 hours a day, pausing only to rest in cybersleep tubes while they’re injected with fortified protein worker paste, the American workforce is angling its monitor away from its boss and passing around a video of a fat chick falling off a motorcycle. It is hard to quantify exactly how much better off our economy would be if our workforce didn’t have to spend precious time trying to download the Bananaphone song, but when asked to quantify the loss in American productivity, a spokesman for the Treasury Department told us, "I’ve searched for 'Paris video,' 'Hilton sisters nude,' and 'night vision nasty' and still can’t find it!"

Your tax dollars at work.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Déjà vu all over again.

We came across an old woven container filled with small objects in an box of filled with stuff of mine from long ago, as we were sorting through things for the move and clearing up for the party.

The youngest was taken by a button I held up for him to see.

What caught his attention?

Something from back when I was his age, a button that looked like this.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose.

The Physics Behind Four Amazing Demonstrations

David G. Willey explains the physics behind four amazing demonstrations.

A family friend who teaches high school physics has been known to wow his students by lying between two beds of nails and having someone bust a concrete block on his chest. David Willey does that and more, and explains how the physics works.

Check him out: http://www.pitt.edu/~dwilley/bio.html

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Twenty-five years

Twenty-five years we've been giving this party now. Twenty-five years spring and fall. We were giving the party before the younger guys were born, we were giving it while I was eight months pregnant, while the guys were in nappies. Back when, we started cleaning for it weeks beforehand because of the inevitable trash and destruction that two toddler types could wreak.

As the younger guys got older, they helped with the process and we got to where we started clearing up only the weekend before, with a final polishing a couple hours beforehand.

This year is different. The house is a-shamble. We still have an overflow of stuff from Casey's place which sold two years ago which we never dealt with, just tucking it all away in any spare spot. We have added to that all the stuff from the condo that we cleared out and leased out earlier this year. Added to that all the stuff from the place down south, which sold two months ago, which we're slowly sorting through. We've been toting boxes and bags to the Goodwill once and twice a week.

... but now we have a dollop of added upheaval thrown in.

We've decided ... almost ... to sell Dale.

We're in escrow on a loft in Dogpatch that we found on one of our prowls a week ago Sunday. The loft is perfect for holding my books and all the stuff we can't bear to part with that won't fit in Hill. Escrow closes the last Monday of this month.

We've decided ... almost ... to cut our ties to this bucolic village nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains, this place that I've lived in for over a quarter of a century and which his nibs has lived in off and on for the last fifty-five years.

We've decided ... almost ... to stop the city-peninsula existence we've been living.

We're talking to an agent we know, he's given us comps, we need to get back with him.

We found out on Friday that our Dogpatch offer'd been accepted. We'll need to clear out (um. de-clutter) Dale before we can show and sell it. (Have we really decided to sell it? Sounds like it. Yikes!)

We spent the three-day weekend clearing through stuff, sorting through a huge pile of kitchen utensils, recycling bags full of back issues of magazines that I've been saving for decades, tossing out plastic plant pots, boxing up books.

The house is more a-shamble than it's ever been and the party is Friday 7:30P and I am on the hook to finish the clearing up in time for the spring fling and we just got a call from Bay Alarm that the alarm's gone off at Hill and I need to go check up on what's happening.

Aaaaarrrgh ...

If you don't hear from me for a while, it's because ...

QueerJoe's Knitting Blog

One of the wonders of the blogunity is finding someone with a passion that you might not be attuned to but which, once you read about it, you think hey ... this guy really nails his subject.

Such a blog is QueerJoe's Knitting Blog which I found via the just-up excerpt from Rebecca Blood's The Weblog Handbook at Blogger Central.

Check out rebecca's pocket while you're at it.