: views from the Hill

Friday, July 30, 2004

Curiosity killed the morning

We have a weekend houseparty to gear up for. Wash to do. Beds to make. Food to prepare. The last minute cleanups. So what have I been doing this morning? Surfing. Poking around in the fascinating piece of the Web called fundrace.org

All calculations are based on records filed with the FEC of contributions by all individuals totalling more than $200 (and some totalling less than $200) to a single Republican or Democratic presidential campaign or national committee between January 1, 2003 and May 31, 2004.

Pop in your ZIP

Which neighbors are giving what to whom?

The Blums are supporting Kerry. Now there's a big surprise. (Blum is married to Dianne Feinstein.)

Hey, there's someone else. I didn't know she lived in the city.

Oh, and hey, look at that attorney with Babcock & Brown. $2K to Bush and $1K to Kerry. Changed his mind? Wants his name on both lists?

One I found yesterday was puzzling. I'd popped in the name of a cousin's deadbeat ex-husband and found someone with the same name who'd given $20K to the DNC. His occupation was listed as "deceased." Interesting occupation, wot?

I popped the name and the ZIP into the Social Security Death Index. The guy died 09 Nov 2001 (requiescat in pace). This database runs from 01 Jan 2003. A bequest to the DNC?

I also find that there are absolutely no Towses in all of the USofA who have given to the campaigns covered by this database in the dollar amounts covered by this database, cheap sons of guns that we are.

There is someone with my stepdaughter's name in Bethesda who gave $2K to the John Kerry campaign. No, my stepdaughter doesn't live in Bethesda.


I discovered a nervous tic the other day. Help me keep track of the number of times I start a sentence with "so," I'm trying to break myself of the habit.


On tap for this weekend's house party, if all agree, are as follows:

(1) Dinner at Fior d'Italia tonight. Fior d'Italia is not my most cherished place to eat, but the chicken livers are delish and when you have a large-ish party and you don't know how far people want to walk and you have some members who are used to a low-fat, vegetarian diet and it's Friday night on a weekend that includes the North Beach Jazz Festival, you need to find a restaurant close by with large rooms that has a wide selection on their menu and takes reservations. Fior d'Italia ("the nation's oldest Italian restaurant") it is.

(2) Down the Filbert Steps and south on the Embarcadero Saturday morning to the Farmers' Market in the Ferry Building and a visit to the Book Passage branch at the Ferry Building.

(3) XOX Truffles, preceded by a walk through North Beach and Washington Square Park, which should be just a mess of people because of the Jazz Festival.

(4) An Exploratorium excursion per request from one of the participants

(5) Salmon grilled on the deck for dinner Saturday night. Salad. Macadamia nut brownies. Dinner at home to avoid the aforementioned messes of people in North Beach. Free jazz brings out thousands.

(6) whatever else we can think to do ...

... but right now, I need to hem some chair covers, bake some meatloaf for sandwich makings, prep some food, and stop messing 'round on the Web.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Dear Ken

Remember my entry regarding Mary Beth Cahill's Dear Ken letter? Someone from www.dhs.gov stopped by to take a peek at it this morning.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

[FOOD] Foodies on the Web

Those who actually check out bloggers' blogrolls may have noticed that mine keep growing and this week gained a few links prefaced by [FB].


Well, zat means the link is to a foodie blog, one of the foodie sorts of things I covered in the column I just sent off to Computer Bits. That column was triggered by the angst I'm feeling as I box up books (and books and more books) -- more specifically, the angst I'm feeling about boxing up my cookbooks. The book boxing is happening now so we can get the free-standing bookcases out of the way and show off the size of the rooms when we put the house on the market. All the bookcases, except for the built-ins, are headed over to join the other books and bookcases in the warehouse until we get the movers in.

All the cookbooks have been boxed, except for about three-feet worth. The books remaining will be kept in the built-ins down here until we make the final skedaddle up to Telegraph Hill. I am missing my boxed cookbooks already.

Paul and Ellyn were up for a BBQ on the deck a couple weekends ago and I was whining about boxing up the cookbooks, all forty or fifty boxes (or more) of them. Ellyn asked, "But really. How many cookbooks do you need?" What can I answer to something like that?

Cookbooks aren't just something for checking out a recipe for mu-shu pork or Char Siu Bao or gingersnaps. No, when I need a recipe, it's usually not a specific cookbook I head for. I pull out five cookbooks and find five recipes and mix them up, or I go to the Web and do something similar with Google.

Cookbooks are for dreaming over, for sitting curled up in a chair with a breeze coming in off the Bay with a pad of sticky notes, marking pages with possibilities for future dishes or snacks or desserts.

I only have three feet of shelf space for cookbooks at the place on Telegraph Hill. The rest of the cookbooks will be stashed in bookcases at the loft annex and I'll need to dash down and retrieve them if I suddenly realize I need one of Madhur Jaffrey's recipes or something out of Moosewood.

With most of my cookbooks elsewhere, I'll be depending on the Web for my foodie fix. Aha! a subject worthy of a column.

I sorted through an enormous number of sites and blogs to come up with the ones I mention in the column. There were many, many more I didn't have space for.

Ready for a whirlwind tour? Starting from my links over there -->

Chocolate & Zucchini from Clotilde Dusolier in Montmarte. Clotilde turned 25 yesterday, as you might've noticed. She writes deliciously about food, cookbooks, shopping at the markets, travel, restaurants and yet more food.

I mentioned 101 Cookbooks here the other day. The theme behind Heidi Swanson's blog is "exploring my collection of cookbooks, one recipe at a time." Recipes, musings, market shopping and the weather in the City by the Bay. But only 101 cookbooks?!?!! Oh. My.

chez pim, an occasional chronicle of intemperate pedantry. I came across Pim in eGullet's forums. Pim writes about food and restaurants and travel and food and books she's reading and food. I especially liked reading about her visit to Manresa. We'd eaten at Manresa when it first opened because I loved David Kinch's food at Sent Sovi and Manresa was just a little bit further in the other direction. Three miles away maybe?

Perhaps it was opening jitters, but even though Aimee was there keeping a handle on the front room, the experience fell flat for the price. It seemed Kinch was trying too hard to impress with original, over the top creations. Pim's (and Liz's) hearty cheers for their Manresa experience convinced me we need to go back, now that the dust has settled, and see how it is -- maybe for my birthday next month.

My latest supper -- modern italian home cooking -- and more -- from the south east of england is not just about cooking, as the title explains. Where else could I find out that Bertolli olive oil is owned by Unilever?


My column mentions Chocolate & Zucchini and 101 Cookbooks but not the others. Other sites the column doesn't mention, but which deserve mention somewhere, are

the daily bread - also from the other side of the pond.

a spoonful of sugar - recipes galore. Angela sorts everything into categories: "dinner is served" "low fat" "soup" and such.

Mikiko Itoh's I was really just very hungry recently shared a recipe for zucchini basil muffins. Have I mentioned that I like reading recipes?

Deb's In My Kitchen is a chatty blog with recipes and discussions about cookbooks and food.

... and last but not least (not because I've run out of links but because I could go on for days), is the Domestic Goddess - devoted to the art of food and its preparation - with scrumptious food descriptions and recipes.

Interview with Breslin

Poynter has an interview with Breslin who is in Boston covering the DNC, about the DNC and other topics.

Most surprising?

He sounds depressed -- but not surprised -- that newspaper readership continues to drop. He said today's newspapers -- even tabloids -- lack sufficient anger and humor to engage and hang onto readers.

He's not just talking about young readers, noting that his own favorite source of news these days is "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

Jon Stewart? Hope somebody gives Stewart a heads-up.

Strothman Agency

Wendy Strothman, formerly with Houghton Mifflin and, before that, head of Beacon Press, has her agent shingle hung out in Boston. How do I know? Because someone (not me) in this household gets a copy of the Brown Alumni Magazine and was reading bits of the magazine to me over dinner last night. Strothman was Brown, class of 1972.

Strothman left HM in June 2002 to agent. She works with affiliate agent John Ryden and Dan O'Connell as senior publicity director. According to Publishers Weekly, the agency "specializes in narrative nonfiction — memoir, history, science and nature — and selected fiction."

Have something along those lines?

The Strothman Agency
1 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Third Floor
Boston, MA 02109

Update: More information on Wendy Strothman and the Strothman Agency

Update: "The Strothman Agency is moving. As of July 28th, [2008] we will be located at 6 Beacon Street, Suite 810, Boston, MA 02108. This will also be our new mailing address."

[FOOD] Olive Garden

An article in USA Today (12/17/00) is titled Italian expert turns nose up at fare.

The article begins

Italian cooking expert Marcella Hazan, whose books have sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, accepted USA TODAY's invitation to a meal at Olive Garden. She was joined by her husband, Victor, an expert on Italian wine and food. The idea: to gauge the company's claim of offering "a genuine Italian dining experience."

SARASOTA, Fla. — What's wrong with Italian cooking in America?

Too much garlic, too little salt and much of what's on the menu at Olive Garden, says Marcella Hazan.


The article goes on to detail Hazan's comments on the soup, the pasta, the entrees.

I've eaten at an Olive Garden ... once. The only reason I'd return would be for a retirement lunch or similar event where the organizers wanted a restaurant with a menu most people could choose from that could put warm food in front of a number of people quickly.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Not only is PJ back ...

but she seems to have paddled Kos' canoe as well. I've added him to the barely baked list to the left of your screen.


So hard to get people updating their blogs as often as you'd like.

Update: Removed the link to Kos' blog. I need at least a bit of reinforcement to click through a link -- a new post once a month isn't too much to ask, is it? Took Mule's link off as well.

[FOOD] Phillip Innes doesn't think much of Michael Bauer

Phillip Innes doesn't think much of Michael Bauer and he tells you why in this Critical Analysis of Bay Area restaurant critics from SLAMMED magazine -- the Voice of Restaurant People.

Tired of second-rate restaurant reviewers writing snarky reviews of decent restaurants, Innes decided to turn the tables and review the restaurant reviewers. Herewith, his review of the reviewers by the Bay.

Hoo boy and boy howdy.

Clotilde Dusoulier turns 25 today.

Happy birthday! and thank you for Chocolate & Zucchini

Geoffrey K. Pullum gives us the sixteen first rules of fiction

In Language Log, Geoffrey K. Pullum gives us the sixteen first rules of fiction, which he found by searching for "the first rule of fiction" and rounding up the results, with links to a site that mentions each rule.

Passions on the Web

DLGDyer's Coffee Mug Heaven

... via John Walkenbach's J-Walkblog which also brought us this hypnotic sight from b3ta. (Caution: Dramamine may be needed.)

Monday, July 26, 2004

[FOOD] 101 Cookbooks

Foodie blog alert!

101 Cookbooks.


Friday, July 23, 2004

Ethan Watters explains...

How To Build a Grotto

What You Need to Know
Nine years ago, I teamed up with novelists Po Bronson and Ethan Canin to co-found a workspace for writers. Today, The San Francisco Writer's Grotto (as we call it) is still going strong. We now have nine writers sharing space in a loft-style building in an industrial part of town. Entertainment Weekly recently called us "One of the few solid literary communities outside the media centers of New York and LA." Here's what we've learned along the way.

The Grotto

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Those were the days ...

Google adds their first server rack to the Computer History Museum's permanent collection.

The first Google corkboard server rack, a do-it-yourself contraption which was one of about 30 in our fledgling company's first data center back in prehistoric, mist-enshrouded 1999. A few specs: each tray contained eight 22GB hard drives and one power supply, and the rack itself required no fewer than 86 hand-installed cooling fans

Those were the days, and they were only five years ago.

Recent estimates (Google ain't saying) are that Google is running 100K servers with 4 petabytes (mas o menos) of disk storage.

They've come a long way, baby.

kottke.org's HTML version of the 9/11 Commission's Executive Summary

Jason Kottke created an HTML version of the 9/11 Commission's Executive Summary with permalinks.

Here's the link to the Washington Post's PDF version.

The full report (585 pps!) is available from the GPO as a PDF file.

Garage Mahals

[via MetaFilter]

[ NYTimes, registration required. Registration is free. Still don't like that? Check into http://www.bugmenot.com/.]

In California, 'Garage Mahals' Are Not Just for Cars


At 6 feet 10 inches tall, the financial consultant Brad Barnes needs a lot of things custom built. His home's doors are more than a foot higher than standard, and a go-cart he made for himself for fun looks about the size of a Mini Cooper. But what's most indicative of this man's need for space is his garage, which with six car bays is at the cutting edge of a trend in high-end real estate: the "garage mahal."

Mr. Barnes's 1,700-square-foot garage is an airy contiguous room more than a third the size of his 4,800-square-foot custom home, leaving plenty of space for five cars, five motorcycles and his colossal go-cart.

"If I had it to do again, I'd do 12 -- I'd go double-deep," he said, standing on the gleaming light green epoxy finish that covers the garage's cement floor.


The article goes on at length about garage mahals. It quotes Gopal Ahluwalia of the National Association of Home Builders, who claims that in "The West" he estimates that 10% of new houses are being built with four-car garages or larger.


Bakersfield has room to spare. San Francisco doesn't.

We have good friends in San Francisco who have a five-car garage, but that's an anomaly. They were thrilled to find the home when they were house shopping because not only was it a wonderful old building, but also he needed the garage space. He restores old Alfas and usually has several in various stages of restoration.

In San Francisco, parking spaces are at a premium. Craig's List even has a category for people needing/leasing parking spaces in the city.

These days it costs $100K+ to call in Add-A-Garage and have your quaint cottage jacked up, your basement excavated, and a garage added underneath. Even at those prices, Add-A-Garage's business has boomed in the last few years. Neighbors are squawking because each new basement garage includes a driveway that eliminates a section of public curbside street parking.

On Telegraph Hill, many of the dwellings do not have private spaces. Check out open houses on a Sunday and the question is always asked, "Is there parking?" Dwellers park on the street, if they can find a spot (with their $27/yr "A" parking sticker they can park more than two hours at a stretch) or they lease a space nearby.

We lease two spaces in a garage three blocks from our place. One space is primarily used for visitors. The car(s) are usually only used when we are coming in to or heading out of town.

Cost for the leases is not cheap, but we have no alternative (besides giving up cars altogether) because there is no place to Add-A-Garage. Spaces that need tarps because the garage leaks are $50/mo less than non-leaky spaces. If we'd opted for a space nearer to our place, we would be paying an additional $100/mo. If we wanted a covered space closer in, well ... the cost would be extraordinary.

Parking is a pain, but the silver lining is that a lack of parking tends to keep the car-mad suburbanites in the suburbs where they can have their four-car garages and drive their white Humvee down to Starbucks for their morning triple grande non-fat caramel macchiato.

Rogue waves

The European Space Agency brings news of ship-sinking monster waves.

Think good thoughts for my MINI, which is "in transit" as I write this.

Zoom! Zoom!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Book-A-Minute Classics

We here at Book-A-Minute Classics have come up with a solution. We've taken all kinds of great works of literature and boiled them down to their essence, extracting all the filler (and believe me, there's a lot of it sometimes). In just one minute, you can read entire books and learn everything your teachers will expect you to know.

Check out Return of the King for a taste.

(You have read Return of the King, haven't you?)

Rob Brezsny's reading my mind -- or at least my Stickies

From another blog somewhere along the line, I clicked through a link to Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology.

I read some of his writing, clicked through a couple links and, finally, tapped into his horoscopes for the week of July 22 (which is like um. the week that starts tomorrow!)

OK, fine. I'm not someone who "believes," but this horoscope would almost get me believing:

You'll be glad to know you're coming to the end of the Suffering Season. If you've made it through these past few weeks with your sense of humor intact, you now have cosmic permission to give yourself a big shiny reward. To make the best of these last few days, carry Henry Miller's declaration around with you: 'Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems painful can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.'

Why should that stun me?

Smack dab on my 'puter screen is one of Tom Revell's little yellow Stickies. On that Sticky is written

Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such. -- Henry Miller

Weird, eh?

In good company

Internet Resources for Writers is included on the Hot Links list at the Cedar Falls High School's Tiger Hi-Line Online.

Who else is on the list?

to name just a few of the sites on the list of twenty-seven links.

Good company.

Your Life in a Bubble / If housing prices drop 15 percent, what would it mean to you?

Carol Lloyd crunches the numbers. Should you buy? Should you sell? What does it mean to you?

According to DataQuick, San Francisco County stats are as follows:

Homes sold Jun-03: 617
Homes sold Jun-04: 847
Pct. change: 37.3%

Median price Jun-03: $563K
Median price Jun-04: $653K
Pct. change: 16.0%

Napa, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties all had price appreciation up over 19% last year.

Marin County was the only Bay Area county with price appreciation less than 10% last year. Marin County's median home price only went up 8.5% but the median home price in June 2004 was $690K.

Is real estate bubbling? Seems like. Is the market a bubble? I don't know. What will happen when interest rates go up? I don't know.

SF real estate prices haven't always only gone up. There was a decline for a while in the 90s. Prices then came back up and burst through the roof. There was a decline when the dot-com boom busted. We bought the loft space for 20% less than the seller had paid for it in 2000. Will the value go up or down from there?

Wanna buy? Can you afford it if the prices fall and you have to sell? Can you hang on? Do you hate paying out rent every month? The decision is yours.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Sunday observances

San Francisco 18 Jul 2004
(click thumbnails for larger pics)

Centerfolds Clothesline

Centerfolds clothesline. Who's drying their clothes on the roof of the Centerfolds Club?

(corner of Broadway and Montgomery)

XOX truffles

XOX Truffles
754 Columbus Avenue, North Beach
(between Filbert and Greenwich)
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 421-4814

Fabulous chocolates.
Chocolatier Magazine, Food and Wine and others agree.

Union Street remodel

Remodel at the end of Union Street, before the street drops off the eastern edge of Telegraph Hill. The owners are raising the existing house amd adding two floors, including a garage (access from Alta) below.

Cost? $$$

View? Priceless.

Duck House on Alta

The Duck House on Alta was home to Armistead Maupin when he was penning Tales of the City. I was sorely tempted to buy the building for its literary and historical connections alone, but I came to my senses.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower viewed from lower Montgomery, on way to Filbert Steps.

Filbert Steps

The Filbert Steps, heading down from lower Montgomery. Steep! From Coit Tower down to Sansome, at the bottom of Telegraph Hill, the east side of the hill is too steep for streets and cars, so both Filbert Street and Greenwich Street become a series of stairways. The steps are a tourist's delight and a means of access for people living in the houses on the east side of Telegraph Hill.

Darrell street sign

Darrell street sign. Darrell Place and Napier Lane are walking paths that split off to the north from the Filbert Steps. The neighborhood is quiet -- no street noise. Residents have strong leg muscles -- no streets. Everything needs to be walked in: pizza, pablum and pianos. The nearest street access is Montgomery Street (to the west) or Sansome Street (to the east). No matter which end of the stairway you choose, you must first find parking (or take public transit/taxi/train as close as you can) and then hike in.

Filbert Steps patch

Filbert Steps patch. We first noticed this patch to a rotting board a couple weeks ago. Since then, someone nailed the patch board to the rest of the boardwalk. When will the City get around to mending the rotty spot?

[photos taken with Concord Eye-Q 4060 4.0 Megapixel Digital Camera]

[thumbnails courtesy of ExpressWeb]

Sunday, July 18, 2004


My Bloginality is INFJ!!

As an INFJ, you are Intraverted, iNtuitive, Feeling , and Judging.
This makes your primary focus on Intraverted Intuition with Extraverted Feeling.

This is defined as a NF personality, which is part of Carl Jung's Idealist (Identity Seeking) type, and more specifically the Counselors or Protectors

As a weblogger, you are a perfectionist. Even though you have artistic thoughts, you may change designs frequently because of this perfectionistic insticts. You appreciate order and systems, and so you may stay with the same weblog program for a long time to keep things constant. Your personality type is rare, and so you are very special!

Thanks for the heads-up, UV!

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Be sure to vote for your favorite image in each category!

PDN 2004 Photo Annual -- This year's PDN Photo Annual presents the year's most outstanding images from photographers, magazines and agencies that put a human face on the times we live in. From Lynsey Addario's arresting images of the demonstrations in Iraq and Turkey to Taryn Simon's stunning portraits of the wrongly accused to Mitch Epstein's story of his family's crumbling business -- these are the images of our times.

The categories are Advertising, Magazine/Editorial, Photo Books, Photojournalism/Sports, Corporate Design, Personal WOrk, Web Sites, and Student Work.

The Web Sites category includes a link to the Web site. If you're curious about other entries, you'll need to snuffle with search engines.

A favorite was a Helmut Newton photo of Henri Cartier-Bresson for an article in Newsweek. The photo was taken in Paris, May 2003. Cartier-Bresson, at that time, was age 94.

I saw the picture and thought, "Cartier-Bresson. Alive? Well, alive in May 2003, and looking like he has his marbles sorted."

So I went off to DeadOrAliveInfo.com -- one of my faves along with Who's Alive and Who's Dead and Dead People Server.

Dead People Server didn't even list Cartier-Bresson. The other two not only listed him (as alive!) but also gave his birthdate.

Update: Cartier-Bresson is alive. Age 95. He'll be turning 96 on August 22d.

Good for him.

What can I accomplish in the next forty-fouryears?

(A tip of the hat to metafilter)

Thursday, July 15, 2004


I've been having a lot of fun checking things out over at YayHooray since I first came across it earlier this week.

As long as I stay in the
Discussions > Technology
Discussions > Design
and Projects >
sorts of areas I deal fine.

I'm steering clear of the Meaningless > Too Hot For Internet and Meaningless > Really Stupid sorts of discussions because I'm thirty years too old to appreciate them.

The Famous-Quotes-from-the-Marketing-Department thread has some keepers.

You don't have to be a member to read the threads. You do have to join if you want to add your two-cents worth and/or take advantage of the buddy system and other features.

Ian Spiers got pissed off and this is what he did about it.

Ian Spiers had a run-in with the Seattle Police and the Department of Homeland Security one day that left him "humiliated, angry, ashamed." He decided to do something about it, so he raised a fuss and started a blog (Brown Equals Terrorist) that tracks what's been happening in his life since he took his story public.

Go to the site. Read the artist's statement first.


He seemed intelligent, and I assumed that someone in his position was supposed to be reasonable. I also assumed that someone in his position would know that if I’d really wanted to take secret photos of this public landmark that he would never know about it. Sure, I knew why he was asking for my ID, and why he was really asking for my ID. And he knew why. But I was wondering if he had the balls to actually say it to my face. I was back to wondering when I could start saying “no.”

Proceeding thoughtfully, I calmly and politely responded to his request for my ID by asking him if I was legally obligated to show it to him. He replied, “No.” I responded, in that case, that I’d felt I’d provided him with all the information he needed regarding who I was and what I was doing, and told him that I felt that my constitutional rights were being infringed upon. Not being legally obliged to do so, I told him that I was not going to be providing him with my ID.

That pretty much ended that conversation. As my confronters ascended the hill, I couldn’t resist spinning my camera around and taking a quick shot of them returning to their security vehicle. I then got back to waiting for a train or boat to enter my composition so I could finish my class assignment. Of course, I soon realized that they weren’t leaving.

Check out the story today in the Tacoma News Tribune. Other media attention is linked to from the site.

The blog makes for an interesting read. Spiers has a tale to tell.

Awaiting transport.

Awaiting transport!



When, oh, when, will it be put on the boat, ferpete'ssake?

You have 'til Sunday

You have 'til Sunday to vote for the cover art for KFOG's Live from the Archives -11 CD.

If you've never tapped into KFOG's live stream, try it.

Note: for some odd reason, I can't access the live stream with Netscape 7.x and have to use IE to listen. Firewalls? Something else? Quien sabe.

Arianna asks, "George W. Bush: Presidential or Pathological?"


On the 2004 campaign trail, it's the pathologically inconsistent Bush attempting to portray John Kerry as a two-faced flip-flopper.

It's become the Bush-Cheney campaign mantra. GOP talking points 1 through 100. The president's go-to laugh and applause line:

"Senator Kerry has been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue," chided Bush at a spring fundraiser. "My opponent clearly has strong beliefs, they just don't last very long." Ba-da-bum! (Incidentally, how is this consistent with Bush's other contention, that Kerry is a rock-ribbed liberal?)

Or as Dick "Not Peaches and Cream" Cheney ominously put it at a Republican fundraiser: "These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another the next."

I couldn't f---ing agree more, Mr. Cheney. But it's your man George W. who can't seem to pick a position and stick to it. He's reversed course more times than Capt. Kirk battling Khan in the midst of the Mutara Nebula. Gone back on his word more times than Tony Blundetto. Flip-flopped more frequently than a blind gymnast with an inner-ear infection.

The list of Bush major policy U-turns is as audacious as it is long. Among the whiplash-inducing lowlights:

In September 2001, Bush said capturing bin Laden was "our number one priority." By March 2002, he was claiming, "I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important."

In October 2001, he was dead-set against the need for a Department of Homeland Security. Seven months later, he thought it was a great idea.

In May 2002, he opposed the creation of the 9/11 Commission. Four months later, he supported it.

During the 2000 campaign, he said that gay marriage was a states' rights issue: "The states can do what they want to do." During the 2004 campaign, he called for a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Dizzy yet? No? OK:

Bush supported CO2 caps, then opposed them. He opposed trade tariffs, then he didn't. Then he did again. He was against nation building, then he was OK with it. We'd found WMD, then we hadn't. Saddam was linked to Osama, then he wasn't. Then he was … sorta. Chalabi was in, then he was out. Way out.

In fact, Bush's entire Iraq misadventure has been one big costly, deadly flip-flop:

We didn't need more troops, then we did. We didn't need more money, then we did. Preemption was a great idea — on to Syria, Iran and North Korea! Then it wasn't — hello, diplomacy! Baathists were the bad guys, then Baathists were our buds. We didn't need the U.N., then we did.

And all this from a man who, once upon a time, made "credibility" a key to his appeal.


Mark Morford on Fahrenheit 9/11

"Fahrenheit" On The Brain / Who cares if Moore's flick is flawed, shameless propaganda? At least it makes America think

Don't know Morford? Check him out!

Thanks, Niki.
You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every
book ever published. You are a fountain of
endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and
never fail to impress at a party.
What people love: You can answer almost any
question people ask, and have thus been
nicknamed Jeeves.
What people hate: You constantly correct their
grammar and insult their paperbacks.

What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Mary Beth Cahill's "Dear Ken" letter

Letter to Bush Cheney '04 Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman

Yesterday, I received a letter from Bush Cheney '04 Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman asking our campaign for a tape of a recent fund-raising event. Today, I sent the following reply:

July 13, 2004

Ken Mehlman
Campaign Manager
P.O. BOX 10648
Arlington, VA 22210

Dear Ken:

Over the past several months, allies of the President have questioned John Kerry's patriotism while your staff has criticized his service in Vietnam. Republicans and their allies have gone so far as to launch attacks against his wife and your campaign has run $80 million in negative ads that have been called baseless, misleading and unfair by several independent observers.

Considering that the President has failed to even come close to keeping his promise to change the tone in Washington, we find your outrage over and paparazzi-like obsession with a fund-raising event to be misplaced. The fact is that the nation has a greater interest in seeing several documents made public relating to the President's performance in office and personal veracity that the White House has steadfastly refused to release. As such, we will not consider your request until the Bush campaign and White House make public the documents/materials listed below:


We also wanted to wish you a happy anniversary. As we are sure you and the attorneys representing the President, Vice-President and other White House officials are aware, today marks one year since Administration sources leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent to Bob Novak in an effort to retaliate against a critic of the Administration.

In light of the fact that the Administration began gutting the laws protecting the nation's forests yesterday, we hope you will accept the paper on which this letter is written as an anniversary gift. (The one year anniversary is known as the "paper anniversary.")


Mary Beth Cahill
Campaign Manager

Good news from Washington, D.C.

U.S. Senate Blocks Bid to Vote on Gay Marriage Ban


There were only 48 votes to cut off debate and continue on to a final roll call. 60 votes were needed.

During the debate, Rick Santorum, bless 'im, said, "It is not about hate. It is not about gay bashing. It is simply about doing the right thing for the basic glue that holds society together."


The six Republicans who crossed the aisle were McCain-AZ, Nighthorse Campbell-CO, Miller-GA, Snowe and Collins-ME, Nelson-NE, Sununu-NH, Chafee-RI. Good job, guys.

Update: Vote tally

Eid Mubarak to you too

A person I like forwarded the following on to me. Imagine HUGE FONTS! and PURPLE! GREEN! RED! lettering.


Subject: Unbelievable!!!

USPS New Stamp (ed. Well, no. It isn't. The stamp was first released in September 2001, then re-released -- and the price raised from 34c to 37c -- in October 2002.)

This one is impossible to believe. Scroll down for the text.
If there is only one thing you forward today.....let it be this!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of PanAm
Flight 103!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the World
Trade Center in 1993!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the Marine
barracks in Lebanon!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the military
barracks in Saudi Arabia!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the American
Embassies in Africa!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the USS COLE!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001!

REMEMBER all the AMERICAN lives that were
lost in those vicious MUSLIM attacks!

Now the United States Postal Service REMEMBERS and HONORS the
EID MUSLIM holiday season with a commemorative first class
holiday postage stamp.

REMEMBER to adamantly and vocally BOYCOTT this stamp
when purchasing your stamps at the post office.
To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those
AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors.

REMEMBER to pass this along to every patriotic AMERICAN you know.

As I said, I like the guy. He's my dad's age, maybe a bit older or a bit younger. Should I put up a fuss or should I let it slide, like I often let things slide when my dad says something I may not wholeheartedly agree with.

I stewed about it for a while, wondering whether I should reply at all and, if so, what I should say. I decided that if my dad had sent me something like this, I would've replied with a polite protest and given back my differing viewpoint. I couldn't let this abomination, for that's what I considered it, just pass by without comment.

Herewith my reply:

I buy the stamp and do not think it un-patriotic to do so. After all, President Bush sends official greetings from the White House to Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr and no one is doubting his patriotism or claiming that he's ignoring Americans who have died in terrorist attacks when he does so.



Too wimpy? Too snarky? Should I just have let the e-mail drop into that great bit bucket in the sky?

An Erdös Number of 2?!!?!

Had a headsup e-mail from a correspondent calling himself Jim Chasm yesterday, telling me there was another Erdös number up for grabs at eBay.

Don't know what an Erdös number is? Check the explanation I gave the last time one was up for sale.

The previous eBay auction, which ended in shambles and refusal to pay the winning bid, offered an Erdös number of 5. The current auction offers a 2, which is as good as it gets, being as Erdös himself is dead.

Seems someone who co-authored a paper with Erdös is looking to write a paper on Playing Skill in the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour and needs some help with research and analysis.

The "item location" for this auction is the bucolic village of Forest Grove, OR, where I spent a couple days a few years back. I sent a heads-up about the auction and the item location to the editor/publisher of Computer Bits, for which I write a monthly column. The editor/publisher hies from that area and has a serious poker-playing buddy who may be able to suss out who this mysterious Erdös 1 is.

How "real" is this auction and how serious are the people who track Erdös numbers? You be the judge.

Auction ends Jul-22-04 19:30:00 PDT.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Someone way more organized than I am

I realized someone is way more organized than I am when I came across this item from Bill Keaggy's astounding grocery list collection.

We scratch our lists on notepads handed out by two of our favorite local real estate agents. The smiling faces of Susan and Joe top our lists: cottage cheese, grapefruit, Weetabix, milk.

CBC Archives

CBC Archives. Subtitled, "Relive our History through CBC Radio and Television." Clips, topics, archives -- terrific site for the history buff, the curious, the Canadian.

The JAG Hunter

The JAG Hunter - a US military justice blog with interesting article links and teasing excerpts. e.g.


Red Cross Suspects U.S. Hides Detainees
Nebraska's attorney general on the effects of a general discharge from military service...
US notifies Japan that army deserter will be charged
Barriers to voting remain for troops deployed abroad
GIs Charged In Detainee Death
US secretly holding terror suspects - Red Cross
Pfc. Lynndie England hearing is rescheduled again
White House lawyer laments Bush court loss
Pentagon to Begin Guantanamo Hearings in Weeks
Marine facing court-martial says he was told to be rough with prisoners

... and that's only in the last eight hours or so.

[found The JAG Hunter using http://www.blogger.com/redirect/next_blog.pyra -- Blogger's "next blog" feature]

[FOOD] In good company

Patricia Unterman and Michael Bauer have (finally!) made their way to El Raigón. Their opinions differ a bit from each other. (Bauer especially laid into the wine prices.)

I'm assuming that even though they chow down with each other on occasion (this being one of them), they don't look at each others' reviews while writing their own.

They both agree with me that those sweet, simple, grilled sweetbreads are yummy as are the Panqueques con Dulce de Leche.


El Raigón. (510 Union St., North Beach, San Francisco) -- Good place for Atkins dieters and lovers of sweetbreads. Not so good place for vegetarians.

Monday, July 12, 2004

SJ Rozan's progress

SJ Rozan has a blog. Rozan also has another blog -- progress: from manuscript to bookstore -- the publishing process.

progress details the minutiae (and progress!) involved with getting ABSENT FRIENDS, Rozan's ninth book, out by September, 2004. Rozan also answers questions from readers regarding the process.

Looking to publish your first book? Writer, this blog's for you.

Scalzi on the serial comma

Scalzi posted about stetting all the serial/Oxford/Harvard commas his copy editor had added to his manuscript and, as to be expected, the comments are piling up on his blog.

Social networking and meeting the neighbors

Kottke reported that Wired quoted Friendster rep Lisa Kopp saying, Security isn't a priority for us. We're mostly focused on making the site go faster but now, it seems, that quote's been updated at the Wired site to read, Security is a big concern.

Hm. I'm sure Friendster wishes that was what Kopp had said. Kottke now links to a scanned copy of the original version. Not Watergate exactly, but how ham-handed can an organization be?

Speaking of social networking, a neighbor stopped by and talked with his nibs for a while over the Fourth weekend. Turns out James Hong, who co-founded hotornot.com, lives just two doors down. We knew a neighbor was connected because we'd occasionally see his hotster car with personalized plates parked up on Montgomery.

Hong, who was out of work when he and Jim Young started the site as a joke in October 2000, has had such success with hotornot that he never went back to the grind. He now spends full-time on hotornot and other sites he's involved with instead of having a "real" job. More power to him and to Young.

hotornot.com is booming without any advertising, just word of mouth. Hong, Young, &al. have morphed the site into a social networking/dating site for folks thirty years younger than I am.

God Rocks!

From Harper's Magazine via kottke comes God Rocks! wherein Harper's excerpts tasty bits from Grand Canyon: a Different View, Tom Vail, ed. (Master Books, June 2003), including this bit:

Based on the lineages laid out in the Bible, God created the heavens and earth and everything in them in six literal days about 6,000 years ago. Contrary to what is widely believed, radioactive dating has not proven the rocks of the Grand Canyon to be millions of years old. The vast majority of the sedimentary layers in the Grand Canyon were deposited as the result of a global flood that occurred after and as a result of the initial sin that took place in the Garden of Eden. As the great post-Flood continents and mountains began to rise from the waters of a global deluge (Genesis 8:3?5), a huge chasm was formed that is now the Grand Canyon of Arizona. Inland waters, rushing down to the newly deepened ocean basin, rapidly excavated the 5,000-foot-deep layers of mud, silt, and sand that had been deposited during the year of the Flood. And the fossils found in the rock layers are remnants of the plants and animals that perished in the Flood.

Many in the secular and Christian worlds have claimed that the Flood described in the Bible was just a local event (or even myth). However, the God of the Bible made a covenant between Himself and the earth. He promised that whenever a rainbow appeared, it would be a reminder that He would never again bring such a flood on the earth. If Noah’s flood was just a local event, then it means that God breaks His promise every time a flood occurs somewhere on earth.

Beliefnet.com also provides an excerpt from the book.

Michael Moore.com - Fahrenheit 911 Facts -- Notes - Sources

For those dissecting the statements within Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore provides Fahrenheit 9/11 Notes - Sources

Poetry Jam

Microsoft and Sanjay Parthasarathy in particular bring you an ever-so-hip Poetry Jam

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Floor layout and keys exercise

Spent the morning at the loft, making sure keys worked and the locks (both key'd and combination) on the storage in the garage worked. Everything works but for a couple light bulbs and the front door key. As long as we park in the garage and go in through the garage door, we're okay. Oh, and the deadbolt lock for the 4th floor access to the upper floor doesn't work. Maybe when we have a locksmith in to spin the locks we can have him fiddle with it. The deadbolt on the 3rd floor access to the lower floor does work.

I spent time taking pictures (60+) so I could put together a walk-through look for old friends and I helped hold the tape whilst his nibs sketched floor plans and detailed where the light switches were so we don't plan to plant bookcases where they'd cover the switches. The seller gave us complete building planning drawings but they were as-proposed and not as-built and don't show the light switch locations anyway.

Before we move anything in, I'll need to do a bit of painting to cover the Faith Popcorn 1999 (or is it 2001?) muddy colors that setoff the fireplace walls on both floors from the frost white walls in the rest of the space. Maybe shades of royal purple and green or some Bhutanese blue-red-gold. Hmmmm.

A fun time was had by all but now, hours later, my eyeballs hurt from sorting through the pictures, re-sequencing them so they made more sense and deleting the extras, setting up the gallery. Nice to have "before" pictures showing the space and the incoming light because soon enough the space will be filled with books and pinball machines. (Did we measure the downstairs hall to make sure the pinball machines will fit? I'll have to check ...)

Time for supper.

Someone you know needs this.

Hie thee over to Perry Hoberman's site and pick up a digital print or three. The System Failure print is part of this set. Spend some time checking out Hoberman's work.

No surprise.

What Pattern Are You?

Especially the mellow part.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Mozilla patch

Surprise, surprise. Mozilla has security holes too, it's just that most miscreants don't bother with Mozilla because there are more (and more interesting) targets amongst IE users.

The most serious Mozilla security hole to date affects Windows users.

Use Mozilla and Windows XP? Download the patch and install it now. Easy. Peasy.

(Initial headsup from jenett.radio.)

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

PG&E and whose bill is it anyway?

These days you can't call PG&E Customer Service and talk with someone. You have to call, leave a message. Someone will get back to you.

Four hours later ...

No, we can't transfer the PG&E billing at the Dogpatch loft to your name to reflect your brand-shiny-new ownership. The person who authorized PG&E service to that address closed the account in October 2003. We cannot enable billing to your name until a PG&E employee comes out and reads the meter and someone pays the bill back to October 2003.

No, we can't bill the previous account holder: he shut off the account.

No, we can't bill the previous owner for the power used.

No, that's something you'll have to work out between you and the previous owner.

update: Selling agent tells our agent, "I'm down in LA for a couple weeks. You'll have to work that out with the seller and oh by the way, you'll have to get the keys from him too. I didn't get them before I left town." (This after our agent had been told by someone in the other office that the keys had been sent to her office.)

Our agent (have I mentioned she's a gem?) called the seller to make arrangements for the keys and to settle the problem with PG&E. Seller says, "Sure, I turned the PG&E off in October. It's not my fault PG&E screwed up. Your buyers will need to work that out with PG&E."

Um, no.

Later, after talking with PG&E, the seller tells our agent, "PG&E agrees that a lot of the screw-up was theirs. They just need proof that the place has been sold. Your buyers will need to go down to PG&E and show them the paperwork."

Um, no.

Current status: seller has agreed to go down to PG&E to armwrestle over the past-due accounting so future billing can be transferred to our names.


update2: SB stopped off with the buyer and picked up the keys. She vets him as a nice, conscientious guy. He gave us a note about what he still needs to get us. Promises to get down to PG&E. Gave us the key code for the alarm system.

SB dropped the packet of goodies through the mail slot at Hill along with her good wishes and a message to the universe for a smooth as silk sale for Dale.


Guess that's it.

Escrow just closed on the live/work loft down in Dogpatch where we'll be stashing all the freight we can't give up and we don't want to squeeze into Hill -- books, carpets, books, books, pinball machines, books, family photos, books, art, books. There will also be plenty of space for overflow guests, offspring or relatives as well as space for me to setup worktables, files, shelves and crates of materials to do what I do. The space really is live/work ... imagine that.

SB says she'll get the keys from the seller's agent ("Don't forget we also need the keys and the combos for the locks on the storage spaces," said his nibs) and tuck them through the mail slot at Hill. Here's hoping it's easier to get the keys from the seller than it was to get information he was required to give us before sale.

COE is always an eeeeps! sort of occasion but the extra eeeeps! about this COE is the realization that, yes, indeed, it's finally time to cleanup and sell Dale. No more excuses. No more, "but where will we put Grandma's Bible?" Pack up those memories. Roll up those carpets. Give away three picnic tables -- with benches! Alas, none of the tables or benches are in terribly good shape. Maybe ... firewood? Haul in that Dumpster. Load it up.

Find someone who wants a sofa or two, we can't take them all with us. Ditto for beds, we'll only be moving the waterbed in. Drop the cans of paint at the toxic waste drop-off. Sort through the trunks of cloth. Take the excess magazines to the library.

Recycle. Recycle. Pack. Recycle. Trash. Pack. Pack.

The Dale sale will make the fourth escrow we'll have gone through (purchase-sale-purchase-sale) since August 2003 (with one other -- a sale -- closing in December 2001). I hope we won't need to go through another one for another decade or two. This one's King Kong and I've been stressing for weeks now just thinking about it.

Time for stressing is through, though. Time now to just get a move on and pack it up and move it out.

Yee haw!

Define "blogging"

By way of mule comes this definition of blogging.

How heartwarming to see "degaussing" used in a cartoon strip.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Got Gmail? Troops abroad could use an invite or two

An article at Military.com Resources suggests offering your Gmail invites to troops abroad.

At the moment, Google is in beta testing and is available by invitation only. Current users with Gmail accounts are given an opportunity to invite a limited number of friends to open a Gmail account. Those friends are later allowed to invite more friends to open an Gmail account and so on. Because troops abroad have a real use for these accounts, a Website -- http://www.gmail4troops.com -- is calling for those invitations to be used on troops abroad. Loved ones can send them large-size movies or photos without the need for those emails to later be deleted because of file size. If you have a Gmail invite to offer, Gmail4troops.com asks that you post it through them.

Nifty idea.

CHR$(52) CHR$(49) CHR$(50)

Bob Bemer dies at age 84 in Possum Kingdom Lake, TX. He might not have been "the father of ASCII" but he certainly was one of the primary midwives.

Gmail Program Policies

Hm. This is new. Gmail Program Policies has added this prohibited action: "Sell, trade, resell or otherwise exploit for any unauthorized commercial purpose or transfer any Gmail account"

Guess they don't like the eBay auctions of Gmail accounts.

Here's another prohibited action that I hadn't noticed before. Under the heading Generate or facilitate unsolicited commercial email ("spam") is the following prohibited action: "selling, exchanging or distributing to a third party the email addresses of any person without such person's knowing and continued consent to such disclosure."

Sure, sure, sure. The prohibition is listed as part of the spamming prohibition, but could it also cover sending Sergey's e-address to someone who wanted to contact him?