: views from the Hill

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

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

A Geek.com posting reads

"British company to release JFK assassination game"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where will we be in another forty-four?

San Francisco dresses up for the holidays

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

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

Up above the Valley of Heart's Delight

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

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

Spectacular views.

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

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

Iluna Basque now open Sunday.

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

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

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

Kingston 256MB SD card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... and the article continues on ...

Whooo. Boy.

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

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

Saturday, November 20, 2004

It really is Plug & Play

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

Oh, no!

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

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

What to do.

What to do.

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

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

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


Take those $$$ times three.

Yikes. Yikes. Yikes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(trans: What would Steinbeck say?)

Friday, November 19, 2004

Hurrah! A Christmas tree after all!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rest. Eat. Enjoy. Don't stress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

He just hummm hummm'd.

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

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

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

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

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

Ho. Ho. Ho.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Amanda and Dessa done good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Telegraph version of events and others from Google.

KFOG's Live from the Archives #11

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

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


Clips available online.


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

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

WORDCOUNT / Tracking the Way We Use Language /

Another creation of Jonathan Harris.

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

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

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

10x10 / 100 Words and Pictures that Define the Time

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

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

THE ZOOMQUILT | a collaborative art project

THE ZOOMQUILT | a collaborative art project


Update: New URL for Zoomquilt

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Sneak thieves or how I spent my Tuesday

Monday too, for that matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a week. ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mayhap all is well.

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

Monday, November 15, 2004

Netscape Mozilla Firefox hot links

... and carrying on with those thoughts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final solution:

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

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

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

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

Set the following instead:

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

Application: Netscape Mail

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

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

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

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

Simple, no?

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 12, 2004

The week that was

This seems to be my week to be sociable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Before and after.

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

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

Treasure Island          Treasure Island - Yerba Buena Island

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

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Myers-Briggs-Jung Type Descriptions - INFJ

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

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

How encouraging. Alas.

"pro-weed"? What means that?

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

Monday, November 01, 2004

Today's "done" list.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow, fer sure.