: views from the Hill

Monday, January 31, 2005

We didn't just eat ...

We had a sun shiny weekend just past. We spent time at Dale getting things sorted at the house that will go on the market sometime this spring. We headed up to Hill and enjoyed Saturday afternoon with blue skies and clear weather then walked three miles to and fro to dinner at Café Claude.

Sunday we tramped all over the Telegraph Hill - Russian Hill - Nob Hill area looking at open houses from 1-4 p.m. I napped to rest up before we walked down to Ponzu for supper. All in all, I calculate that we walked six miles or more uphill-downhill-uphill while we were out looking at open houses plus another 3.6 miles (thank you! MapQuest) counting the to and fro at dinner time.

Exercise! Exercise!

My hoofies are sore.

[FOOD] Ponzu

401 Taylor Street (at O'Farrell)
San Francisco, California 94102

Tel: (415) 775-7979
Fax: (415) 351-7656

Breakfast: M-Su
Lunch: available for private functions and business meetings.
Dinner: Su-Sa

Our Saturday night exercise in Dine About Town eatery took us to Ponzu, the small pan-Asian restaurant next to the Serrano Hotel, a boutique hotel near Union Square. (That location is a reason, perhaps, why Ponzu is open for breakfast.)

The executive chef, Michelle Mah, was until recently the sous chef at the Grand Café, just up the block (and where we ate last Sunday).

Our server was excellent, even though the staff seemed a bit overstretched. The bar is oh-so-glam, as is the dining room.

A table of four late-twenty-early-thirty-somethings -- a couple and two guy friends -- across the not-so-very-wide room from us got rowdier as the night went on. Between nibbles and food, the two guys had, at my count, and who knew what they had before we arrived or after we left, four sake bombs a piece.

Recipe for sake bomb: Balance a glass of sake on your chopsticks over a full glass of beer. Bang on the table (1-2-3-SAKE BOMB!) until the sake glass drops into the beer, then chug the beer, racing to beat the other party.

Hm. Yes, the crowd was younger and hipper than we ever were, but unlike Café Claude on Saturday night, we weren't the only people over forty in the joint.

We checked out the menu and opted for the Dine About Town special.

We shared two salads. The Vietnamese Prawn Salad (with mango slaw, peanuts, chile–lime vinaigrette) had a substantial bit of finely shredded purple cabbage -- not my favorite -- in the slaw. We were given two quarters of fresh lime to squeeze over (and then drop into our water glasses). The prawns had been sliced in half, so you were more likely to get a bit of prawn in each mouthful. I'm not a huge cabbage person, but this salad was excellent. There was enough chile in the vinaigrette to leave your lips buzzing when you were through.

The Hosui Asian pear and watercress salad included radicchio, celery, fennel, and white soy-ginger vinaigrette. Both salads were substantial and flavorful. Definitely re-orderable.

We both ordered the Vietnamese pork tenderloin with palm sugar caramel sauce and chile braised asian greens (bok choy, I think) as our main course. The other choice on DAT was a vegetarian option. The pork was delicious: four to five slices. The chile, again, added a substantial zip to the dish. The combination of the caramel-chile-greens and the pork was brilliant.

For dessert, his nibs ordered the trio of fresh fruit sorbets: pineapple, pear, mango (I thought as I tasted them). I had the Cognac chocolate truffle torte with coconut-caramel mousselline. The torte was served in slices, like rectangular wedges of brownies. Macadamia nuts in the torte. The mousseline was very light and helped cut the intensity of the chocolate. A thin wedge of carmelized brittle with added coconut (it tasted like) completed the dish. Delicious, and I didn't have to share.

Dine About Town deal price plus a bottle of pinot noir and tax totalled about $100. Above and beyond that was the tip.

The walk over took about fifty minutes. The walk (uphill!) back took more. We sat out on the deck and watched the lights on the Bay and sipped Cognac and talked about life until it was time for bed.

[FOOD] Café Claude

Café Claude
7 Claude Lane
San Francisco, California 94108
phone 415.392.3515
fax 415.392.2226

We'd been meaning to get to Café Claude for quite a while, but it isn't open on Sundays and when we thought about it on Saturday and his nibs called for a reservation, we'd be told it was far too late …

Last Friday, however, his nibs decided we'd have a final mad three-evening (SA-SU-MO) dash to try out restaurants with the January-only Dine About Town deals.

His decision was triggered by an article I sent him -- an article Patty Unterman wrote about her Dine About Town experience at Rubicon. (Tonight we'll be dining at Rubicon -- surprise, surprise -- as our grande 31 January finale to Dine About Town.)

Café Claude is tucked away on Claude Lane, a tiny alley off Bush Street, between Grant and Kearny. Food is French. Service is relaxed … to say the least. Our server came over to hand off the menus. When we asked her what the Dine About Town special entailed, she gestured toward a chalkboard propped up in the corner. "You have your choice of … Oh, wait. I think we're out of that. Let me go check. I'll get back to you."

She disappeared for about ten minutes.

In the meanwhile we decided we didn't want the Dine About Town special anyway. Dessert was some chocolate concoction and his nibs doesn't do chocolate. He also wasn't feeling like pork and when the server came back, the pork dish was the special on that night.

Instead we both ordered crispy sweetbreads with pea shoots, coarse mustard and fig compote. I ordered the hangar steak with beurre rouge, exotic mushroom and spinach gratin and crispy potatoes. His nibs ordered a chicken dish.

The sweetbreads were crispy fried and consisted of just four tiny bite-sized portions. The portions were small enough that the coating, tasty though it was, overwhelmed any taste of sweetbreads there might've been. The pea shoots were an interesting sprout. The coarse mustard and fig flavor were a tasty combination with the sweetbreads and pea shoots. I stashed the flavor combination suggestion away for another time we cook sweetbreads at home to try in lieu of our usual port|madeira, mushrooms and sour cream.

My hangar steak was cooked perfectly, medium rare. The beurre rouge was tasty. The "crispy potatoes" were finely, finely slivered potatoes, crispy, stacked on top of a small gratin dish filled with a mixture of mushrooms, spinach and gruyere cheese. The gratin and crispy potatoes were heavenly with the steak.

His nibs' chicken breast was sautéed (probably in olive oil) with a bit of garlic and served with a slightly sweet coarse ground mustard sauce. The chicken came with very small roasted potatoes and a veg, bitter greens, perhaps? The sauce was very tasty.

I had an eau de vie, Poire Williams, for dessert while his nibs had a crème brulee. Well, actually, we shared the crème brulee. I had a couple bites to check whether the dessert lived up to the rest of the meal. It did.

The poire williams was a substantial pour and as pear-y as can be. The crème brulee was tasty, which was a good thing, because it was the only thing on the dessert menu his nibs could handle. Everything else was chocolate of some sort or another.

We decided that the walk down (about forty minutes) and back (a bit more than forty minutes ... uphill) had been worth it.

We'll go there again. Both main dishes were excellent. We'll know to try something other than the sweetbreads for an appetizer next time. We got out of there, including a bottle of pinot noir with dinner, for about $100 including tax but not tip.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Friday Blog Pick (so shoot me ... it's Saturday)

Pariah S. Burke has an interesting site (I am Pariah), a personal blog, stuff to read, and things to do.

Burke is also the maintainer and purveyor of the Memes List: "You'll never run short of blog material again!"

I came across his site because I was looking for a photo meme for Saturday. Didn't find one, but I did set this site away for a future mosey.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Photo Friday challenge: Youth

School children singing.
Bellavista, Galapagos, EC.

Photo Friday challenge: Youth Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Theme Thursday: COLD

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
Lijiang, Yunnan, CHINA

Theme Thursday current theme: COLD (Frozen, Frosty, Refrigerated, Wintry, Icicle, Ice Cubes, Common Cold, Lacking Warmth, Unfeeling,... ) Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Lensday challenge: Kinetic

The cables at the Cable Car Museum (corner of Mason and Washington Streets, San Francisco).

Stop on by the museum and watch the cables that drive the City's four cable car lines. The beam above the winding wheels labels which wheel is running the cable for which line. Want to know more? Hie thee over here or, better yet, hie thee to the Cable Car Museum.

Lensday challenge: Kinetic - 1. Of, relating to, or produced by motion. 2. Relating to or exhibiting kinesis. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Kathleen Davey's Progress

It's been a year. A very long year. Some anniversaries are dates you don't want to celebrate, to remember. This anniversary is one of those.

There's a link to a letter Mike wrote on Kathleen's page. He read it to her yesterday, on the one year anniversary.

I check Kathleen's page almost every day and stop each time to think good thoughts for Mike and his family.

Reading Mike's letter to Kathleen today and listening to the music he chose, I cried.


You can say that there is some unknowable reason why bad things happen to good people, that there is some good that will come of all this, that we are never given burdens we cannot bear. The community has gathered 'round in support. The family has managed amazing things. Mike and Bean and their girls have made us all more aware of the importance of family and friends and this moment in time.

Fine. We've all learned the lessons, and learned them all again and again.

Now, all this unbeliever wants is a miracle.

Photo Tuesday's theme: Portrait

Miss Pip is plotting something.

Photo Tuesday's theme: Portrait Posted by Hello

Monday, January 24, 2005

Wine on the hoof or Have I mentioned Picasa2?

Wine on the hoof.
Piemonte, ITALY Sep2002

I am having such a good time fiddling with old photos using Picasa2. I have always (conscientious person that I am) kept the photo originals in a separate file before I Photoshop'd or otherwise manipulated the image.

I still do.

But Photoshop is Photoshop and Picasa is a much simpler tool when you don't want to get into the bits and the multiple layers and all. Try the "I'm feeling lucky" click, or throw in some fill light for a dark photo. This tool is amazing, no lie. The image above had a simple "sharpen" effect added to it, f'rex.

So, as I'm tooling through the images I happen to have on my hard drive, and considering scanning in images of days long past, I just have to say ... I am having so gol durn much fun -- not just fiddling with images (lighten! sharpen! fiddle the color! feel lucky!) but reminiscing about days of yore.

The photos on the blog, btw, for the entries labeled "departure" and "shadow" are from an annual weekend we spend at Bixby Creek ... those images are from 2002. Coinkadinkly, one half of the host couple was showing a family member what a blog was by using this blog and dropped me a note about the serendipity of showing off blogs by choosing mine and there were pictures! from the annual Bixby Creek weekend!

Some day (some day), I will have photos available online from all those Bixby Creek weekends, dating back to something like 1987. Picasa will help me do so.

Better than slide shows of yesteryear!

Posted by Hello

Flickr photos

After seeing The Pirate's implementation, I decided to add my own Flickr "badge" (as they term it) to this blog. Check out the photos to starboard.

Being as my Flickr oeuvre is now all of twelve pictures, I'll need to add some more to keep from boring myself and the masses who read this blog when Flickr randomly chooses five out of those twelve to display.

The Pirate, btw, has a photo of Laughing Sal in his Flickr oeuvre.

I never much cared for her moniker.

Update: Well, fiddle. If Flickr is down for maintenance (which it is as I write this), there'll be no photos in the Flickr area.

Gloomy -- Moody Monday's theme

Hello?!?? Anyone home?!??
Piemonte, ITALY. September 2002. 

What was once someone's childhood home has fallen to wrack.
You can't go home again.

Moody Monday theme: Gloomy.

1. Partially or totally dark, especially dismal and dreary: a damp, gloomy day.
2. Showing or filled with gloom: gloomy faces.
1. Causing or producing gloom; depressing: gloomy news.
2. Marked by hopelessness; very pessimistic: gloomy predictions.

Posted by Hello

Boats! Boats!

We live where we live because his nibs likes to watch boats! boats!

The Pirate made a HaloScan comment a while back about the awesome sight of huge merchant ships gliding by. Some pictures (taken yesterday) might be in order.

This container ship was the most impressive to sail by the bottom of our hill yesterday. Note the containers. Stacked seven high. The Coast Guard helicopter is paying a vist.

The ship sails on under the Bay Bridge where it will hang a left (hang a port?) and make its drop at Oakland, which can handle container ships while our fair city cannot.

Long story why.

Foggy this weekend. Far foggier in the Central Valley than here. We couldn't see across the Bay. Folks in the Tule fog couldn't see five feet in front of them.

Posted by Hello

Update:Changed outline color on pics to make it more obvious that a click would pull up a larger pic.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Old dirt road at Bixby Creek

Theme Thursday's theme is SHADOW:(darkness, overshadow, dusky, shade, unilluminated,... ) Posted by Hello

Friday, January 21, 2005


Lounging iguanas in Seminary Park -- Guayaquil, EC.

Photo Friday's challenge: Crowded Posted by Hello

Tall or Not?

Use TallOrNot (a Shockwave application) to compare your height to that of famous people.

I'm shorter than Alfred Hitchock, taller than Ann Margret, and the same height (when I lie a little) as Olivia De Havilland and William Faulkner.

Did you know Burl Ives was 6'1"?

(Link via BoingBoing)

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Lensday's challenge of the week: Departure  Posted by Hello

Doors/ Doorways, into out of...

Incan doorway: Machu Picchu
Looking back.

Photo Tuesday's theme: Doors/ Doorways, into out of...  Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Christians, Muslims, Fundamentalists - the joys of small town newspapers

I checked the weekly SNews today, hoping for some excitement in the Letters to the Editor section.

Alas, there was no tit in response to the tat from last week's paper -- a letter from Todd Dwyer, a teacher at the local high school, in response to a letter from Elaine Hocker in the 22 Dec 2004 issue.

Mrs. Hocker had objected to "the double standard being advocated in our liberal education system" which allowed Redwood Middle School students to learn from a Muslim faith curriculum course while a fifth grade history teacher in Cupertino had to file a lawsuit against the Cupertino Union School District because he wasn't allowed to hand out papers to his students "containing portions of the Declaration of Independence and other historical documents" because he'd "neglected to remove "God" or "Creator" from the contents of the documents."

Which is all bullshit, of course, and a great source of shock! and uproar! for the right-wing pundits, Fox News and Newt Gingrich.

Yes, the teacher was told not to do what he did, but was anyone surprised when his lawsuit was filed with the assistance of the Alliance Defense Fund?

Hocker wrote

the best solution for the Cupertino school district's problem would be for the community to get involved. Assuming there are still some Cupertino churches that have not progressed to the Pagan state of having sexual orgies on their altars or casting their babies into the red hot arms of some stone idol, then these church members should immediately take action to recall all of the Cupertino school board trustees, and have the superintendent and school principal dismissed. Such action would not only solve the school district's problem, but might also act as a deterrent to other school districts intent on implementing their unconstitutional liberal ideology.


Dwyer came out swinging and said, among other things,

We explain to our students—wherever and whenever appropriate and/or necessary—that what Ms. Hocker and her born-again friends share with other fundamentalists is their boundless capacity to hate. Just like fundamentalist Islamic ideologues who doggedly adhere to religious misinterpretations every bit as silly and dangerous as Ms. Hocker's, Christian fundamentalists are blinded by their own bigotry and hatred. Just like Christian fundamentalists, Muslim fundamentalists long to impose their own unrealistic and intolerant pseudo-Calvinist morality on the rest of the world.

The fact of the matter is, Ms. Hocker and the rest of America's right-wing religious fanatics have much more in common with Al Qaeda than they are willing to admit. Just like Al Qaeda, Christian fundamentalists hate the same things and the same people: homosexuality, pacifists, Jews, educators, uppity women, art, enlightenment, short skirts, gangsta rap, tattoos, infidels, OB-GYN doctors, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, etc. Just like Muslim fundamentalist fanatics, Christian fundamentalist fanatics believe that they are right, and everyone else is wrong. Just like fundamentalist Muslim religious fanatics, fundamentalist Christian religious fanatics have just enough religion to hate, but not enough to love.


Here's hoping next week's paper will have the reaction. The delay is probably due to the fact the paper comes out on a Wednesday and any news items or letters need to be submitted by Wednesday to be included in the next week's edition. If you read your SNews after you get home from work and snail mail your Letter to the Editor, it won't get in in time for the next week's edition.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

ADS' 2004 Words of the Year

The American Dialect Society released the final 2004 Words of the Year vote.

Nominated words are newly prominent -- but not necessarily coined in 2004 -- and can be any lexical item, term, or phrase that characterized the year (not necessarily just a single word).

The winnahs:

Word of the Year: red state, blue state, purple state, n., together, a representation of the American political map.

1. Most Useful: phish, v., to acquire passwords or other private information (of an individual, an account, a web site, etc.) via a digital ruse. Noun form: phishing.

2. Most Creative: pajamahadeen, n., bloggers who challenge and fact-check traditional media.


5. Most Euphemistic: badly sourced, adj., false.


The cite gives the remaining winnahs and also the runners-up and the vote counts.

If you like such word stuff, wander over to the archives for ADS-L or signup for ADS-L. You needn't be a member to join in the discussions.

You might also like some of this stuff.

SoBe or not SoBe

A while back (five years back now), I fell in love with the South Beach Beverage Company (Sobe)'s bottle design.

The designs are based on a lizard motif, but the colors used on the bottles vary. The bottle caps vary (and have wise ass sayings that also vary). The lizard design varies. The beverage color inside varies. Even the molded lizards on the clear glass of the bottles vary. The design is cool, and Sobe's decision to keep the design intact while it goofs around to make a distinct bottle for each beverage flavor created a cult following.

Folks I worked with knew how much I liked the designs and began bringing me bottles. I kept one of each design I came across in a corner of my office at the startup company. By the time I left the startup in mid-2001, Sobe had become a subsidiary of Pepsi Cola North America and I had a dozen or so different bottle types to pack up and take home with me. The younger niblet has augmented that collection since, but loved as it was, my collection was a mere fraction of the Sobe designs available.

I kept the bottles along a window sill in this office ... until today when I realized that I wouldn't be taking them to San Francisco and they'd have to be ditched at some point. Why not today? But first, I would take a picture of each.

In the process I discovered that two of the bottles were duplicates.


Congrats to the ESA. This is all so wicked cool.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Martin Luther King - Letter from Birmingham Jail

Today is a federal holiday to honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Schools, libraries, city, state and federal offices are closed. The Post Office won't be delivering mail. The stock market is closed. But here in Silicon Valley, most private firms are not taking the day off.

I read an interview this past week in Parade Magazine with a young woman who used to make appearances at churches and other gatherings when she was just seven years old, bringing people to tears by reciting King's I Have A Dream speech. Today, she is a young adult, dedicating herself to that dream.

King should be remembered not only for his dream, but also for his work to bring that dream to reality, for his decision that the time had come to take steps to reach that dream.

In April, 1963, four months before he gave his Dream speech, King was thrown in jail for leading protests in Birmingham, AL.

Local white clergymen in a letter to the Birmingham News criticized King for coming to Birmingham as an "outsider" to lead demonstrations that were "unwise and untimely."

King responded with what is probably his second-best known work, his Letter from Birmingham Jail wherein he says


We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.


I would hope, that if King could somehow see where we are today, he would be encouraged by how much things have changed. I would hope, that if King could somehow see where we are today, he would not despair, that things have not changed as much as they could ... or should.

Update: A friend just sent this link to the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, which is raising funds for a memorial in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Caution: the site's lead page has both streaming audio excerpts of MLK's Dream speech and streaming video of other events and people. Takes a while to load even at broadband speeds, perhaps all the moreso because today is MLK Day and the URL is whizzing around the cyberweb.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Keeping Up With The Joneses

Back in May 2002, I wrote a column for Computer Bits (cleverly titled Magritte, Monet, Matisse and more ... ), which covered Web resources and tools for people searching for art work and other images on the Web.

As an example of what was possible I talked about the Joneses, a pair of old-timers whose portraits hang in our living room.

We knew how the Joneses were related to us. Their only child had married John Wesley Brittan. Mary Alista Jones and John Wesley Brittan had had a son, Nathaniel Jones Brittan, who married Isabella (Belle) Fallon (daughter of the notorious Thomas Fallon). NJ Brittan and Belle had three children. Their daughter Carmelita Brittan was his nibs' grandmother. The Joneses, therefore, were his nibs' great-great-great-grandparents. (I think I got that right.)

What we hadn't been able to figure out for years was who the artists were who painted the portraits. All we had to work on were scribbles on the backs of the portraits.

E 7 [7? -ed.] Coe, Artist / 1829 -- it looked like to us -- and

FSpencer, Artist / 1827

But who were Coe and Spencer and why had they painted the portraits of the Joneses?

We tried for years to track down the artists using art catalogs and art encyclopedias, and, eventually, the Web. Resources on the Web continued to improve and finally, in 2002, we found information about the artists and identified them as Elias Van Arsdale Coe (AKA Elias V. Coe) and Frederick R. Spencer.

E.V. Coe's biographical information mentioned that he had married his cousin Phebe Burt in 1821 and had died in 1843 in Warwick, Orange Co., NY.

Bingo! Mary Jones' maiden name was Burt and she was from Warwick, Orange Co., as well.

At the time Spencer painted the portrait of Jones (1827), biographies say he was "an itinerant portraitist, traveling to Utica and Albany in search of commissions." Jones, at the time, was in the Legislature in Albany.

When I wrote the article, the paintings were up on the wall and were difficult to bring down and check the inscriptions on the back. I'd misremembered the dates. Correcting that information today, the Spencer portrait was painted in 1827 and the Coe in 1829.

The paintings are intended to hang side by side:

What's up with all this?

Well, the Web's a wonder. I wrote the article in 2002 and Google makes it available to anyone searching for information on Coe or Spencer.

Last year I got an e-mail from someone in Warwick who was interested in the painting by EV Coe and wanted further information. Last week someone who had bought a Spencer at auction sent me an e-mail. He'd found my Computer Bits article and thought I'd be interested in information about some Spencers recently donated to the Museum of the City of New York.

I'd promised the person in Warwick that we'd take some proper pictures of the Coe portrait, but the pictures never turned out right because the painting was on the wall and the lighting was dreary. I promised her photographs of the painting when we took it down to move up to San Francisco, but we still haven't moved it.

Last month, though, we took down the paintings when we put up the tree and today we rehung them, but not before I'd taken some pictures.

So, for the interested party in Warwick, some closeups of E.V. Coe's portrait of Mary Burt Jones:

and for the guy who sent me a note last week, some closeups of Frederick R. Spencer's portrait of Nathaniel Jones:


The Web is a wonder.

Update: Swapped in a different link for Thomas Fallon. The new link is a Google seach for /"thomas fallon" "san jose"/ which not only eliminates all those other Thomas Fallons in the world but also gives a pretty good idea of the controversy swirling around the gent in the quaint ville of San Jose.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Friday Blog Pick: Sandra Scoppettone's Writing Thoughts

I'm a writer.

I used to write software in the olden days when I was a senior software engineer par excellence. I quit my last job in 1992 and the folks who knew me hired me back as a temp, as a tech writer, writing the manuals that had never been written (by others on the project!) for the software that's still in use to this day.

(His nibs and I went to a reunion for alums for that company in a pub last week, and what an entertaining time we had.)

In the process of writing the documentation, I discovered something on the order of fifty or seventy bugs or, um, questionable pieces of code implementation. (Not mine, I swear!) My favorite was the one where someone had assigned a -1 as a tag to shut the process down, never expecting that a buffer overflow might look an awful like a -1. That bug took a while to spot.

I quit the tech writing gig when the documentation manuals were finished and graduated later in the 90s to writing non-fiction bits, eventually writing about the Web, like duh. what an obvious choice. Writing freelance never brought the money that writing tech did, which never brought the money that writing code did, but I'm happy.

Even though I'm relatively happy with my writerly efforts, my heart is really in the fiction writing, the crime writing, the writing that scares me half to death because I know what snide things I've heard others say about this person's work or that person's.

His nibs, I know, throws books across the room, books that friends of mine have written. I quake in fear that someone will throw my work across the room.

... but I need to deal with that. Someone somewhere will throw my work across the room.

I was talking with my writerly friend Trev a while back and he gave me the best definition of "writer" as any I've ever heard. We were talking about my WIP. He asked if anyone had read it. I said, "No. Not yet. It's in rewrite. There are some discordant plot points that need massaging."

Trev said, "A writer isn't a writer until that writer is read."

I always have a keen interest in knowing how other writers work. I stumbled over Sandra Scoppettone's Writing Thoughts this week and felt write (heh) at home.

This year -- this year for sure -- I'll get my crime writing into shape to be read by my gang, who are waiting anxiously to get a first peek.

This year for sure.

Spirograph comes of age

Zefrank.com has set up a pretty amazing create your personal kaleidoscope tool.

Ooooooooo. Psychedelic.

100 things we didn't know this time last year

Dated 31 Dec 2004, here is a collection of 100 things BBC News didn't know this time last year, including

1. Street brawlers sometimes arm themselves with potato peelers, according to the Home Office, which wants to make them banned weapons.

2. Farmers plant their crops up to three weeks earlier than 15 years ago. In the 1960s, temperatures from January to March averaged 4.2C; it rose to 5.6C in the 1990s.

3. Brussels sprouts have three times as much vitamin C as oranges.

4. Crows apparently like the taste of windscreen-wiper blades.


Interesting collection of factoids.

some Writing Links updated

doyle sent me a link to the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma last Sunday and I decided to add it to the journalism links on the non-fiction links page.

As long as I was editing the page, I decided to go through my latest NetMechanic report and clean up the busted links NetMechanic had identified.

Knowing that NetMechanic isn't perfect and has problems identifying re-directs and similar issues, I wound up wiling away hours Tuesday click-click-clicking through all the links on the non-fiction links page to check them and update them and replace them until every last URL had been vetted.

Today I decided to add chaseadventure.com to my paying markets list and, what with this and with that, wound up click-click-clicking through all the markets listed on the A-B page and the P-R page. I deleted dead markets, updated information I spotted that had changed re pay rates and what-not, moved market information to other pages if magazine titles had changed, updated 404 and redirect URLs, and so on and so on.

Now I need some exercise and fresh air to clear the cobwebs from my brain before I continue on with the cobweb cleaning on the Web site.

Happy New Year, and thanks, doyle. See what you caused?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Support Civil Marriage

On the issue of gay rights, I continue to strongly support civil marriage. We cannot - and should not - require any religion or any church to accept gay marriage. But it is wrong for our civil laws to deny any American the basic right to be part of a family, to have loved ones with whom to build a future and share life's joys and tears, and to be free from the stain of bigotry and discrimination. - Ted Kennedy

Hear, hear.

Chain saw suicide goes wrong

A suicidal Czech failed to kill himself with a chainsaw. Earlier he had tried to hang himself from a tree branch but the branch snapped and he broke both legs in the fall.

Maybe he should heed the signs and realize that suicide is not in his cards.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Shuji Nakamura settles for a measly 840m Y

Shuji Nakamura settles his patent lawsuit with Nichia Corp. for a measly 840 million yen ($8m). Last year the Tokyo District Court had ordered the company to pay 20b yen, but the Tokyo High Court mediated the lower settlement.

What do you think the patents for GaN-based blue LEDs are worth in the long run? The Tokyo District Court put the value at 60b yen and said that Nakamura was due a huge chunk of that because he had contributed 50% of the labor and effort behind what will bring his former company bucketloads of money.

He says the award is too little. The company says the award is too high.

$8m is nothing to sneeze at.


Metaphorical.net - a fine place to wander, full of strange and wondrous things.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Even the merchant seamen are tourists

His nibs likes to watch boats, which is one of the reasons we live where we do.

Because San Francisco made some decisions back when, the city isn't the hub of container ship and other commercial ship traffic in the Bay. The city with that distinction is across the Bay: Oakland.

We still can watch the merchant ships come in, though, because the Bay is deeper on this side of Yerba Buena than the other, so the ships come through here, about midway between Yerba Buena and San Francisco, duck under the Bay Bridge and turn toward Oakland.

Sure, we still get some cargo ships that off-load down south of Pier 68, but our commercial traffic is mostly cruise ships. In fact, there is work progressing to improve/increase the availability of cruise ship tie-ups in town by developing the James R. Herman International Cruise Terminal at Piers 30/32. Currently, the only cruise ship tie-up is Pier 35, which is near Fisherman's Wharf and all the sightseeing things everyone wants to do.

Besides the cruise ships, the floating traffic on this side of the Bay includes the ferries, the tugs, the sailboats and the dinner cruises.

Yesterday, a Hanjin ship came in, sailing far closer to the Embarcadero than usual.

"Maybe it's going to dock down south," we said. That sometimes happens. We haven't given up all of our merchant shipping.

We could see a couple crew up at the bow watching the traffic on the Bay, enjoying the view. A bit later, someone, the Captain we guessed, came out on the bridge and was snapping photos of the shoreline. The ship slowed down before it got to the Ferry Building and inched along as the crew gathered at the side and took pictures. Dusk was coming on and we could see their flashes going off as they passed the Ferry Building. The ship slowly moved past the view.

"How nice," we thought. "Even the merchant seamen are excited to be here."

We didn't know the half of it. After the ship passed under the Bay Bridge, it hung a very sharp left and headed over to Oakland. The ship had sailed close-in and out of the usual routes simply so the captain and crew could get a close-up view and photo op.

Contrast between a camera phone photo and a digital camera photo

Camera phone photo from within The House on Grant.

Digital photo taken from just outside The House's front door. (click for larger image)

No comparison, right?

For now.

Most camera phones currently in use have low resolution, a fixed focus, no flash, and no zoom. Photos tend to be poor quality, fuzzy pictures of friends at a party or street scenes or someone's eyeball staring at the camera.

Camera phone quality is improving at an astounding rate, however. In 2003, Samsung introduced a 1-megapixel camera phone. In spring 2004, Samsung introduced its first 3.2-megapixel camera phone, followed by a 5-megapixel camera phone in Fall 2004. Buzz is that camera phone manufacturers will be coming out with camera phones with hard-drives, telescopic zoom lenses, and video and MP3 players.

Just the other day, his nibs sent me a link to an article about Toshiba starting to ship a 0.85-inch, 2-Gbyte hard drive for mobile devices, with a 4GB due out mid-2005 and 8GB by 2006.



What a world. What a world. What a world.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Friday Blog Pick: Molly Wizenberg 's Orangette

I came across Molly Wizenberg's Orangette from a link in a post in eGullet, one of my favorite foodie hants.

How could I not like a blog with the Julia Child quote in the header, "Life itself is the proper binge."?

Orangette writes well about subjects I like to read about. She gets the Friday Pick this week, though, because above and beyond her paeans to biscuits and her esteemed position (just discovered!) as one of five finalists for the "Best Food Blog—Writing" section of the 2004 Food Blog Awards, I was knocked over by her tribute last month to Burg, her dad, on the second anniversary of his death.

Sometimes foodie writing seems way easy. You describe the juices roiling out of the blood-rare beef or the wafts of sugar scents when you cut the crust of the Grand Marnier souffle in preparation for pouring the sauce in a slathering mass inside and over and around the concoction.

Setting her food writing aside and writing about Burg, Molly shows that she is an incredible writer. And her dad was an incredible guy.

Check out this blog.


The page of blog posts was getting too long for my aesthetic sensibilities, what with going on and on in the foodie bits and elsewhere.

For those into noticing, I've made two changes:

(1) I'm now showing the last ten posts on the page, not the last ten days or whatever it was I had it set to before.

(2) I've used the blogger hack for expandable posts to keep my super-long posts from taking over the whole block of real estate. To test the hack and make sure it worked, I added the hackish "fullpost" code to the Sam's Grill and The House foodie posts.

For those who are really paying attention, I modified the hack slightly. I don't have the MainOrArchivePage "Read more!" embedded in my $BlogItemBody. I didn't like the fact that every blog entry would have the "Read more!" link, even if there was nothing more to read.

Instead, I opted to add a [Click permalink for full post] note before the class="fullpost" span/span code. If you click the permalink to read the full post, that [Click permalink for full post] note will show up partway through the full post, but I decided that was better than having the Read more! link everywhere.

Now, I'm going to play with a trick that I think will get the [Click permalink for full post] note out of the full-post pages.

Wish me luck!


1) The trick didn't work, so I made the [Click permalink for full post] note a smaller font and faded gray, so that at least it's more obvious that it's what it is. (Which is what, Sal? you ask ...)

2) I added [FOOD] to the title lines for the musings on The House and Sam's. I'd forgotten, until I went back through my archives, that I'd intended to label the foodie posts so I could easily find them again.

Web searches redux

OK. Suppose just suppose that you were doing a Yahoo! search for /hitchock dropleaf end table/ and came up with a bucket of hits.

Fifty-eight, to be exact.

Hit #37 is précis'd something like this:

Towse: 09/01/2004 - 09/30/2004
... Chief, Herb Caen, Emperor Norton and Lillie Hitchcock Coit on board ... patience for sitting at the end of a telephone line listening ... Put a skinny little dropleaf table between them ...

If you were looking for something on Hitchock dropleaf end tables, would you spare time to click through to see if by chance I had something interesting to say on the subject?

Bless those serendipitous readers anyway. Without them, my readership would drop to ... fifteen or so.

Hope you find what you're looking for.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

[FOOD] Sam's Grill

I'd been fretting -- something I really should give up -- over my lack of resolves for the New Year.

We were walking out to lunch on 2005-01-03 when I asked his nibs what his resolutions were.

Resolutions? he said. To continue on as we have been.

That's not a resolution, I said. If we have no goals, how will we know when we get there? How will we know where we're going? How will we know whether to make this choice or that?

Tell you what, I said. How about if we have a goal that we'll not spend so much money paying other people to cook our meals this year or if not that, that we'll spend more money having other people cook our meals?

He just gave me one of those Sal-you're-cute-but-I-wouldn't-put-up-with-you-otherwise sorts of looks.

... I asked for dinner at Sam's Grill as we were walking home from lunch and was pleasantly surprised to find out he'd made reservations ("she said they were having a slow day and really we didn't need reservations") while I was napping, catching up on time lost over New Year's Eve and the days that followed.

Why Sam's Grill?

Sam's Grill and Seafood Restaurant
374 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94104
Mon-Fri 11:00am- 9:00pm
Tel: (415) 421-0594
Fax: (415) 421-2632

Why? Because they're only open weekdays 11A-9P. We're usually elsewhere or busy during their open hours. Sam's is a Financial District movers-and-shakers or people-who-just-need-lunch sort of place. Half of the restaurant is tables, the other half is private booths.

[Click on permalink for full post]

Sam's has been around since 1867. I'd never eaten there. His nibs remembered eating in one of the private booths with his grandparents and mother back in the 40s some time.

The other reason Sam's was on my list is because one Sunday when we were poking around the restaurants in the Financial District, I discovered that Sam's has not only seafood but three (count 'em 3!) different takes on sweetbreads.

Charcoal Broiled with bacon
Sautéed with Poulette
Sautéed with Caper and Lemon

I understand that there are many who don't understand my passion for foie gras. Readers should realize that close behind my passions for foie gras and maracuja (passion fruit) is my passion for sweetbreads -- perhaps, more than perhaps -- because his nibs wooed me with home-cooked sweetbreads.

Sweetbreads. I swoon.

Well, usually.

I don't much care for the sweetbreads at Piperade, although the restaurant itself is tops. We rearranged our calendars at one point to be available for dinner at Piperade on a Monday, when their daily special is sweetbreads. The rearrangement of schedule wasn't warranted. ... but that didn't dampen my eternal hopes for yummy sweetbreads.

We originally found Isa because on a walk-around Saturday we found their menu listing both sweetbreads and foie gras. Luke, alas, doesn't offer sweetbreads every night anymore, but when he does ...

So, I wanted to try Sam's for sweetbreads.

We walked in at the dot of when we'd told them we would. Sam's is a mere twenty minute walk away, down the Montgomery steps and straight on to Bush, hang a right.

His nibs ordered a cup of clam chowder. I ordered a shrimp cocktail. The clam chowder was delish. Really. Not like any other clam chowder I'd ever had, but delicious.

The shrimp cocktail was your traditional shrimp cocktail, but the amount of shrimp! I couldn't believe they were making much money on the item. I hadn't seen that many shrimp in a shrimp cocktail since forever.

His nibs ordered the sweetbreads with mushroom sauce. I ordered the sweetbreads with caper and lemon. Both dishes had nicely cleaned sweetbreads. (If the kitchen doesn't do a good job cleaning the sweetbreads, pulling off the bits and what-not, the sweetbreads cookup stringy and tough.)

His dish was very rich and delish. Mine was lighter. My sweetbreads had been breaded and cooked and then put in a caper, butter, lemon sauce. Served with two small potatoes. I could've swooned. They were that good.

I couldn't, however, finish the dish -- the shrimp cocktail had been that engaging. I said I'd take it home. The waiter (for at Sam's they are waiters, not servers) brought me a box. I popped in the uneaten sweetbreads, the potatoes, the sauce.

His nibs wanted the baked apple, but they were out. (Out?) Instead, he opted for the rice pudding: he has a weakness for arroz con leche - rice pudding - whatever you'd like to call it.

I opted for an espresso. They served the espresso with a twist of lemon, bless them. His nibs gave me a taste of his rice pudding. Bless him and yummmm.

Next morning, I melted some bacon fat in the pan, chopped up the potatoes and tossed them in. When the potatoes were properly browned, I tossed in the sweetbreads (cut in smaller chunks so they'd cook faster) and the lemon-caper-butter sauce.


I'd eat breakfast more often, if I could have sweetbreads for breakfast.

[FOOD] as we hope to continue ... The House

Can't remember what else we did Saturday and Sunday, but his nibs had Monday, January 3d, off and we headed up to San Francisco late Monday morning. We arrived hungry a bit after noon. Well, I arrived hungry (not having had bfst), but it had been hours since his nibs' bfst so he was willing to eat.

"Where?" he asked.

"The House," I answered. The weather was cooperating, sort of, and we headed down the hill to North Beach around 2P.

The House
1230 Grant Avenue, SF.

The restaurant was half-full and the server was on the phone. He waved and mouthed ("choose your own spot") as we settled into a table for four, halfway into the main room. He was still on the phone when his nibs got up to grab a couple menus. "Sorry," the server mouthed with a shrug of his shoulders, still on the phone.

We checked out the menu. His nibs said he didn't want to eat much because we'd probably go to dinner too. Maybe an appetizer, he said. Plus the unagi and avocado sandwich, of course. Ummm. Ymmm. Unagi and avocado sandwich, the dish he'd espied on a posted menu back that first day we'd walked by and discovered The House.

[Click on permalink for full post]

We must have walked by the House a couple score or more times before that first day we stumbled over it and walked in for lunch. The restaurant is nondescript, minimalist. It sits on the corner of Fresno Alley and Grant, across the alley from The Saloon, a rowdy, happening spot. The Saloon is reputed to be the oldest bar in San Francisco, established 1861.

You walk down Grant, pass The Saloon and somehow never notice The House. It's just a window, a door, and then you get distracted by the Tibetan imports in the window of the shop just a bit further down Grant, not to mention the hoohah that awaits you at the end of the block, where you hit Broadway.

Or at least that's the way it was for me, until the day I was more than halfway down the half block between Fresno and Broadway and realized his nibs was no longer beside me. I looked back and found him perusing a menu stuck on a window of a restaurant I'd never noticed. "Unagi and avocado sandwich," he said. "We have to try it."

So we did.

That first time, we stopped by for the intriguing-sounding unagi and avocado sandwich and were snagged by the goodness and elegance of the simple asian fusion (how I hate that description and yet, should the shoe fit) food.

Monday, we were still discussing alternatives when the server came over and apologized for ignoring us while he dealt with the phone call. He told us the day's lunch specials and left us alone while we discussed some more. He came back with the house's signature amuse, lightly vinegared cucumbers tossed with dark sesame seeds and chunks of garlic.

We decided (your choice, his nibs had said) on the white shrimp and chinese chive dumplings. His nibs said, "for the entree, I'll have the unagi and avocado sandwich" at which point he handed the ordering over to me.

Me? I said. I thought we were sharing the sandwich.

"Are you kidding?" his nibs said. "I don't share that sandwich."

Our server just chuckled.

Well. I knew I'd get at least a bite or two and, although the sandwich is to die for, I decided that rather than unagi and avocado, I'd have one of the day's lunch specials: grilled sea bass with garlic ginger soy sauce served with steamed rice. His nibs asked for an Anchor Steam, while I ordered a 1554.

(Aside. My favorite beer of all time was Trader Joe's Black Toad beer. Alas, they stopped carrying it years ago. Their source had gone under, they said. I searched the Web looking for the brewery and finally gave up. A month or three ago, Trader Joe's began carrying a beer they called Black Toad. The beer was good, mind you, a dark beer that wasn't overly sweet, but it wasn't Black Toad. If you, like me, are looking for a Black Toad fix, the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, CO, has the closest thing to Black Toad I've ever found. 1554. Ymmm.)

The appetizer came: six dumplings along with a dipping sauce, delicious. The dumplings were arrayed on thin slices of watermelon radish with shredded daikon (I think) and bits of shredded raw carrots alongside. We shared without any mishaps. Luckily, the number of dumplings was easily divisible by two. The dipping sauce was piquant and tasty.

I did get a nibble or two of the unagi and avocado sandwich, which was as delicious as always. The unagi and avocado are served on thinly sliced grilled sourdough. A mixed green salad assortment filled out the plate. One of the things I really like about The House -- besides the yumminess of their food -- is the way they layout their plates in beautiful patterns, always with an assortment of fresh veggies -- shredded or otherwise.

The sea bass was superb, dark and smoky on the outside and tender white inside. The rice was served in a separate bowl with dark sesame sprinkled on top. The fish was served atop bits of a cruciferous vegetable. A delicious sauce spooned on the edges of the plate to accompany the fish.

No room for dessert as we were planning for dinner out in a few short hours.

Before we left, I took a picture of the mural across Grant Avenue from The House, because the graffiti on it pissed me off.

Check out the graffiti that's blotching up the model's forehead.

A few months back, I saw a VISA ad on TV and recognized this mural in the background. Monday, when we sat down at The House, the first thing we noticed was that some cretin had tagged the mural.


We walked home. I took a nap, and woke up to find his nibs had made arrangements for us to eat at Sam's Grill, a treat I'd asked for before I fell asleep.

Starting the year off

We went to the sixtieth bday party for a friend New Year's Eve at their smashing new home.

Should you be curious, herewith a camera phone photo of mein host and one with his lovely daughter. What a neat person she is.

After dinner and dancing and more, we stumbled back to Dale in the wee hours of the morning. The youngest nib was using Hill as a party pad for New Year's Eve. ("Just a few friends, Mom. I couldn't invite more because they wouldn't've been able to find a place to park.")

I spent Saturday finishing up the February column on moblogs and such and also spent time sorting through piles of clothes, bundling up seven large bags of clothes which I took to the Goodwill yesterday. His nibs took down the Christmas tree: I packed up the creche. This is the first year in since forever that we took down the tree before Epiphany. Funny, the garbage folk don't seem to know about Epiphany and have their "tree pickup" days the first week in January.


While mulling over the latest bookshelf/title meme, I found myself at MostlyFiction, checking out the writeup on Jorge Amado.

I next found myself checking out other Latin American authors and, from there (is it any wonder that I get lost in the forest?), found myself at MostlyFiction's current newsletter.

The newsletter mentioned a new review of Christopher Moore's latest, The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror.

Well, Christopher Moore! The twenty-something over on the other side of the hill introduced me to Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story a while back and also Practical Demonkeeping: A Comedy of Horrors.

Practical Demonkeeping begins, "The Breeze blew into San Junipero in the shotgun seat of Billy Winston's Pinto wagon. The Pinto lurched dangerously from shoulder to centerline, the result of Billy trying to roll a joint one-handed while balancing a Coors tallboy and bopping to the Bob Marley song that crackled through the stereo."

MostlyFiction is a fabulous site.

From links on the page with the review of The Stupidest Angel and reviews of other Moore titles, I found myself at Christopher Moore's Web site and his blog.

Once there, I couldn't resist clicking through on the entry titled ANOTHER MODEST PROPOSAL.

ANOTHER MODEST PROPOSAL makes mention, among other things, of Carnivore, which belatedly reminded me that I'd forgotten to say, "Hi, Tony! Happy New Year!"

Yow! from McSweeney's

Found on Nath's live journal.

Found Nath_herelf as I was backtracking through the LibeMeme.

Yow. Check it out.

McSweeney's Internet Tendency: George W. Bush Quotations in Which the Words "God" or "The Almighty" or "The Almighty God" Are Replaced by Famous Names Chosen at Random From the '80s Edition of Trivial Pursuit.
Found at UV's pad

who got it from VoxEfx who had written:

Copy the list of ten authors below. Replace any that are not included in your home library with one(s) that are. Note any replacements in boldface. Reference where you found LibeMeme when you post.

1. Richard Wright
2. John Irving
3. Alice Walker
4. Toni Morrison
5. David Halberstam
6. Orson Scott Card
7. James Baldwin
8. Margaret Atwood
9. William Shakespeare
10. Robert A. Heinlein

The Bread and Roses precursor to VoxEfx's list was

1. Gabriel Garcia Marquez
2. John Irving
3. Alice Walker
4. Toni Morrison
5. David Halberstam
6. Mary Gaitskill
7. James Baldwin
8. Shelby Foote
9. William Shakespeare
10. Robert A. Heinlein

Bread and Roses got the meme from PSoTD who listed

1. George Orwell
2. Jorge Amado
3. William Shirer
4. Herman Melville
5. P. J. O’Rourke
6. Joseph Heller
7. Willa Cather
8. Ayn Rand
9. David Halberstam
10. William Shakespeare

PSoTD then added, "Of course, I can't admit to reading all of Moby Dick, but I do have it here." and concluded, "I should be ashamed to admit who fell off the list when I posted: Arthur C. Clarke, H.L. Mencken, Kinky Friedman, John Irving, Michael Chabon and Margaret Atwood."

UV had replaced VoxEfx's list with

1. Milan Kundera
2. Jennifer Crusie
3. Lawrence Sanders
4. Judith McNaught
5. Carl Hiaasen
6. Linda Howard
7. F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. Margaret Atwood
9. William Shakespeare
10. Victoria Holt

Interesting, eh? Did you note how PSoTD dropped Margaret Atwood and a mere two steps later VoxEfx added her back in? How long before someone puts Alice Walker back on the list?

My list would be boring and more an indication of what I own than what I read, which is "not much" these days.

I have on my shelves (if my shelves weren't in boxes) VoxEfx's list. I don't have Bread and Roses' Mary Gaitskill. I don't have UV's Jennifer Crusie or Linda Howard, and I don't have PSoTD's Jorge Amado.

How should one interpret a book list that's posted publicly as part of a book list meme on the Web? My stash of books are less what I've read and liked and kept and more what I think I might want to read some day, so I'm not sure my bookshelves make much sense to me, let alone the blog-reading public.

And what's up with the predominance of fiction writers on the lists above? Why no David McCullough? No Rush Limbaugh? No Howard Stern? No Erma Bombeck? No Woodward and Bernstein? How come so literary? (And why no Jerzy Kosinski, for that matter?)

Sure, I find all this fascinating and I will probably wander back (and back and back!) looking at the posted lists. I like discovering authors like Jorge Amado, whom I didn't know of before, but ... I did one of these a long while back, so this time? No meme here.

Schopenhaeur -- The Art of Always Being Right: Thirty Eight Ways to Win When You Are Defeated

Arthur Schopenhauer -
Die Kunst, Recht zu behalten - The Art Of Controversy

Came across a review by George Walden of The Art of Always Being Right: Thirty Eight Ways to Win When You Are Defeated
by Arthur Schopenhauer (with an introduction by A C Grayling. Gibson Square Books, 190pp, £9.99. ISBN 1903933617)


Schopenhauer's sardonic little book, laying out 38 rhetorical tricks guaranteed to win you the argument even when you are defeated in logical discussion, is a true text for the times. An exercise in irony and realism, humour and melancholy, this is no antiquarian oddity, but an instruction manual in intellectual duplicity that no aspiring parliamentarian, trainee lawyer, wannabe TV interviewer or newspaper columnist can afford to be without.

The interest of his squib goes beyond his tricks of rhetoric: "persuade the audience, not the opponent", "put his theory into some odious category", "become personal, insulting, rude".

Don't want to fork over the £9.99? The book is based on Schopenhauer's THE ART OF CONTROVERSY, which is available online


Strategem VII

This trick consists in making your opponent angry; for when he is angry he is incapable of judging aright, and perceiving where his advantage lies. You can make him angry by doing him repeated injustice, or practising some kind of chicanery, and being generally insolent.

Stratagem XIX

Should your opponent expressly challenge you to produce any objection to some definite point in his argument, and you have nothing much to say, you must try to give the matter a general turn, and then talk against that. If you are called upon to say why a particular physical hypothesis cannot be accepted, you may speak of the fallibility of human knowledge, and give various illustrations of it.

Many employ these techniques. Those who are good at it and clever and crafty can do so without you even noticing, unless you already know the tricks and are watching closely.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Six Apart to buy Live Journal

Om Malik on Broadband >>> Six Apart to buy Live Journal

Yow. Six Apart got B round funding last fall and just made the move from San Mateo to new digs in SOMA (room to expand, eh?)

... just a short ride on the F-line from the bottom of the Filbert Steps. (Not that I'd made a mental note, mind you.)

How long before the Portlanders (Portlandians? Porters? Portloos?) have to make the decision to move to our lovely City by the Bay or find alternative employment?

Move, I'd tell them. If you can afford it, move. The City will show you a good time.

Random Web Search - Wasting your time more efficiently

Random Web Search - Wasting your time more efficiently.

Just what I needed. As if Stumble! and Next Blog weren't enough.

Research! It's research!

More iguanas

Because A. liked the earlier photo so much, I uploaded a batch more to flickr. Click on the iguana to get to my photoset. All the photos uploaded today were taken 20 Dec 2004 in Seminary Park in Guayaquil, EC.

The park is commonly known as Iguana Park. The park folk take care of the iguanas and clean up after them and feed them when the tourists with green leafy bits in their hands don't bring enough. Everyone around knows that if you have an iguana that you can't take care of any more, you can take it to the park and add it to the family there.

Caution walking under the tree limbs! Piss and poop happens.

Eventually, I'll have photos of land iguanas out on the islands, but for now Seminary Park will do.

Playing with photoblogs ...

Zoto :: towse

Buzznet: towse

flicker: towse's photos

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Red dirt, Bob and me

Last year this time, Spirit landed on Mars and I dropped an e-note to Bob, my mentor back when, when I was just a kid and he took nerdy high-school-aged Sal under his wing while I did a school-year "visiting student" gig and then a full-time summer internship at NASA/Ames, working on experiments for the early Mars Viking project.

Yo, Bob -- or something like that, I said, after Spirit was rolling around on the red dirt of Mars -- "Whaddya think of that!"

The e-mail went unanswered, which was unlike him, and, later, I surfed the Web and found that Bob had died, on Jan. 7, 2004, at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. I hoped then and continue to hope that he knew that Spirit had landed.

Bob's one of the reasons I have "keep in touch with people" on my list of things to do this year. Gary Pinkston's another. I've lost people I cared about. I hope they knew that while they were still kicking.

Keep in touch with those you care about. Did someone make a difference in your life? Get in touch. Keep in touch. Let them know.


I'm almost through the fourth day of 2005 and as is norm, don't have "a list" of what I want to do or plan to change or complete or discard in the seeable future. In fact, I wrote just today to an old friend I met many, many moons back in aether space

Today is January 4th and I've still not knuckled down to setting any resolutions for the new year except (1) to keep in touch with people (2) finish the crime novel ASAP (3) get back to fighting weight (4) get Dale ready to sell by March, if possible.

Should I be more specific? Less ambitious? More realistic? Would spreadsheets help? Some thought and contemplation?

Somehow I think those four simple to-do items might keep me busy for a while. You'll note I didn't have any non-quantifiable goals such as be nicer to people. I'm so gosh-durn nice already I make my teeth ache.

I took a look back at to-do lists from 2001 and further past and wondered ... what will I think four years from now about things I thought needed doing today?

[TODO] 2001-11-10 (Saturday)
Bhutan photos
[2001-11-10] cream puffs
[2001-11-10] work on clearing out Sherwood
ComputerBits - January - know thyself
call/e-mail Caroline
bday card for Diane
note to Dorathy

Well, the Bhutan photos are still not in any sensible shape. They aren't on the Web. They aren't in a flip-flip photo book. I do know where they are, and when we start moving things out from my office, I'll probably tape up the drawers in the storage drawer sets I keep photos in and just move them lock-stock to the office/book space at Potrero Point.

I made the cream puffs, a dangerous thing to know how to make. I spent time clearing out Sherwood, my brother's place that had to be cleared out and put on the market ASAP. Eventually, I finished the Computer Bits column for January 2002 and got hold of Caroline and arranged a lunch date with her and Diane. I think I e-mailed the bday card to Diane because I don't have her address. I eventually dropped a note to Dorathy. Those Bhutan photos though ...

Times change.

Do I?

I'm thinking of doing the 43 Things thing.

Or not.

I certainly need to get to work on clearing out Dale and getting it ready for market and, having turned in the February 2005 column for Computer Bits, it's time to get to work on March and see what one-off articles I can flog to other markets. ... and, of course, work on the crime novel.

That short list I sent off to an old friend may be all the goal setting I'll do.


Thanks to a link on Zen's blog, I finally knuckled under and tried Bloglines -- broke down and signed up, even added a Bloglines subscribe button to my Bookmarks toolbar.

So far most everyone in the small group I added in my trial (except Arleen! YO! ARLEEN!) has a feed I can tap into.

No more clicking through a couple times a day to see if Peej has updated her blog. (YO! PEEJ-honey! You're picking up bad blogging habits from Kos!)

I can check with

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Flickr doodles

The flickr photo upload interface to the blog works, but needs HTML editing, or leastways I think so. If you don't like kludgey HTML and can't edit it on your own, you might be disappointed with the Flickr interface results.

Thus ends the test. Lay down your pencils and close your booklets, please. It's time to turn in your papers.


Small Thai Buddhist temple

The Thai temple in the living room -- in the shadows, silhouetted -- on a sunny day. The tree to the left is one of the ones that got whacked last fall.

Om mani padma hum

Om mani padma hum

This mantra stone rests on a holder on the floor beneath the table that holds the small Thai temple in the living room.

Land iguana

Land iguana

Playing with Flickr's photo blog interface. Isn't this fun?


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.