: views from the Hill

Monday, February 28, 2005

Charlie Stross talks about "what goes into making a successful novelist?" and "why I am able to write"

Haven't stopped by Charlie Stross' Diary from the link over >>>?

Stop by today and read his Why I am able to write entry from yesterday, 27 Feb 2005 (Sun).


So what goes into making a successful novelist? Dogged persistence taken to an irrational extreme: check. Willingness to work for years without reward: check. Crap wages: check. For every best-seller there are a thousand writers making £2500-5000 off their books. Even if you hit the jackpot, the return on your investment of time isn't that great. (Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a publishing sensation with a reputed million pound advance, but that's the return on ten years of work with no guarantee of success, and if it doesn't earn out (or at least deliver break-even to Bloomsbury) it might be the last novel she ever sells, in which case that's all she gets for her entire career: megadollar failures stain reputations indellibly, rendering it impossible for the writers to sell subsequent work however different it might be or modest their expectations.)

So let's add "selective stupidity" to the list of attributes that go to make a successful writer and move on.


Friday, February 25, 2005

Fairy Tales Can Come True

It can happen to you,
If you're young at heart. [a nod to Carolyn Leigh]

Tale of love and redemption wins grandmother £50,000 book deal
By Louise Jury, Arts Correspondent, The Independent Online Edition. Published : 23 February 2005

Richard And Judy's book club has transformed sales figures for dozens of novels, and turned modest publishing successes into triumphs. And now the husband and wife team have turned literary talent spotters too, with a competition for budding authors that could make a star of a grandmother and homeopath from Bournemouth.

Christine Aziz, 52, who left school at 15 with a single O-level in English, won the Channel 4 show's competition and will receive a £50,000 advance for her first novel. She beat more than 46,000 other viewers who were asked to submit a synopsis and the first chapter to the show's How To Get Published contest.



[Hattip to Sarah Weinman]

Friday Blog Pick: Chez Miscarriage

I came across getupgrrl's Chez Miscarriage blog through TNH's Making Light entry The mother drive-by.

Whoo boy. The uproar over at Chez Miscarriage that led to the mention in Making Light is an um. discussion of Judith Warner's Newsweek article, Mommy Madness. Warner, in case you've been hiding out from the 24/7 news feeds, is the author of a recently-published book, Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety.

The uproar at Chez Miscarriage, which spilt over into Making Light -- which has its own mini-uproar on the subject -- has morphed into the subject of mother drive-bys AKA the Bad Mommy Brigade: helpful souls who are willing to tell perfect strangers that their baby should be wearing booties because they (the babies, that is) will catch cold otherwise.

Some folks who have never had children are appalled at the stories. Can they really be true? Do total strangers, PTA parents, close friends and family actually come up to parents and tell them how to parent?


There has not, as far as I've seen, been one mother-type who claims to never have experienced a drive-by, put-down, you're-doing-it-all-wrong piece of "friendly" advice. Father-types, however, do claim to never have been so graced. The father-types go on to say that perhaps that lack is because father-types seem more intimidating to the Bad Mommy Brigade and more likely to tell the helpful soul to poke their parker elsewhere.

Criticisms from the Bad Mommy Brigade would have no effect if it weren't for our inherent worries that perhaps we are doing something wrong. As I've mentioned before, the guys are in their twenties now and reassure us that we did just fine. They like who they are. They tell us they've heard some very weird tales from friends about other families' dysfunctions.

I still wish I'd baked more chocolate chip cookies, though, and could undo some of the choices I made. But they're happy with their childhoods and themselves so maybe I should just let go of the if-onlys.

My favorite drive-by happened at a PTA luncheon. I'll be generous and say that perhaps Mrs. B had had one too many glasses of Chardonnay before lunch and overconsumption had freed her from her usual social inhibitions. Perhaps.

On hearing that his nibs and I have different last names, she went into a tirade about people with different last names and how if people have different last names she assumes they aren't married and if they aren't married, that means their children were born out of wedlock and how it is absolutely terrible for people to have children out of wedlock, unfair to the children, failing society, and on and on.

The look on my face must've been the one I use when I poke at a stink bug or millipede. You know the one, the oh-what-have-we-got-here look, or maybe the look was just stupified and "are you for real?"

She finished her blitz and asked, "Well, what do you think of that?"

I answered, "It's your problem, Nancy, not mine."

She spluttered and didn't talk to me for the rest of the meal. In fact, I don't think she's ever talked to me since.

When people told me that my children would catch cold because they weren't wearing booties, I shrugged it off. I knew that booties had nothing to do with it. When people told me that I should be doing this or that, I'd explain that my parenting style was benign neglect and that my guys had to really (really, really) want something before I'd even consider it. I was not going to rent a trombone only to find that they'd lost interest in the school band two weeks later. I was not signing them up for a season of T-ball unless I had a pretty good feel that they really wanted to play T-ball and they weren't just clamoring because Devin was playing T-ball and they wanted to be all things Devin.

Sure, there were times when the "helpful" advice caused a twinge of doubt. My shrink mother, for example, told me that our plan to have no TV in the house until the younger niblet knew how to read was just wrong-wrong-wrong. I stayed with the plan, though, and the niblets use the lack-of-TV stories when twenty-something conversations turn to just how weird parents and childhood can be.

As adults, both guys read voraciously for pleasure, and that's what I'd been aiming for. Would they read as voraciously if they'd been watching TV from Day One and the first words out of their mouths were TV commercial taglines? I don't know. Too late to unring that bell though.

But, back to getupgrrl's Chez Miscarriage and why it's the Friday Blog Pick. getupgrrl is Literate, Funny, Thought-provoking.

Go thee hither and see what you think.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Menu For Hope: Rihaku Shuzo "Dreamy Clouds" Sake

I link to Alder Yarrow's Vinography: a wine blog over there >>>. But wait, there's more to it than that.

Today is our twenty-sixth wedding anniversary, which means I've now spent half my life married to his nibs. No longer a twenty-six-year-old wife I be. I like to think I'm more charming and interesting than I was then. I certainly have a lot more life experience.

In honor of the day tonight, we are going off to a dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, a dinner that will pair David Kinch, whose restaurant (Manresa) it is, with Alder Yarrow, who has chosen the wines for the meal.

We chose the dinner because Kinch is creating the food and we would've probably been having dinner at Manresa in Los Gatos to celebrate the anniversary anyway. We've been eating Kinch's culinary treats since he made his magic at Sent Sovi. Having the Alder matchup was such an added pleasure. I've had Alder on my blogroll since I first stumbled over him and found it an amazing coincidence that the two had paired up. I shouldn't have been surprised: sometimes it seems the folks who hang out in the Bay Area all know each other.

Example: At a dinner at Manresa last summer, I bumped into someone I know from San Francisco who posts to rec.arts.mystery and whom I see at Bouchercon. He was *way* away from anywhere I'd expected to see him. Turns out he and his partner drive down to Kinch's on occasion for dinner. Sixty miles! and then home another sixty miles to lay down their weary heads! Are they nuts?

Or is Kinch's food just that good?

In any case, I was wandering through Alder's blog today in anticipation of dinner tonight and came across this. Not only are there interesting recipes, but also the recipes are provided by food bloggers. All for a good cause.

A Menu For Hope

Thought you might find the recipes and the bloggers interesting.

Making Light: On the getting of agents

Teresa Nielsen Hayden On the getting of agents (20 Feb 2004) with a zillion useful comments.

Don't read Teresa Nielsen Hayden's Making Light? You should.

Posts or comments on Making Light frequently come up in conversation when the older niblet and I are together.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Writerly blogs

Reading writerly blogs makes me feel like I'm not such a freak at times, fretting and fussing about ... words.

Over there >>> is a link to Sandra Scoppetone's Writing Thoughts.

I so identified with her post on Sunday.

I have to stop all that. I have to get down to work. I can't get distracted. If I want to do these things I'll do them after I finish writing. This is my vow for the coming week.

This is my vow for the coming week.

Moody Monday Mood: Protective

Moody Monday Mood: Protective Posted by Hello

Roadside shrine. Stromboli, SICILIA

I want this

I want this

Wide open. Room for books. Space to dream.

[Update: Updated link to actual pics of the place because the real estate Web site is 404.]

Zdzislaw Beksinski dead

Zdzislaw Beksinski has been found dead from stab wounds at his home in Warsaw.

What a brilliant, unsettling painter he was.


Top court to review assisted suicide / Oregon lets doctors provide death drugs

A Chron article by Bob Egelko today titled, Top court to review assisted suicide, wraps up the latest news on assisted suicide.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Bush administration's challenge to Oregon's voter-approved Death With Dignity law that allows doctors to prescribe fatal doses of drugs for terminally ill patients who can then self-administer a lethal dose.

Attorney General Ashcroft (and now AG Gonzales, one assumes) would have it that the Oregon law violates the Controlled Substance Act. Ashcroft insists that federal drug law prohibits doctors from prescribing fatal doses of federally-regulated drugs -- barbituates, in this case. Doctors so doing, said Ashcroft, will lose their federal drug prescription licenses in addition to facing criminal charges. Is this truly what the Controlled Substance Act was intended to control?

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, bless their liberal hearts, said that Ashcroft was outta line and interfering with state law sanctioned by the Supreme Court decision in 1997 which left the law-making on assisted suicide up to the individual states.

The SCOTUS will hear arguments when the next term starts in October -- which may be with or without Chief Justice Rehnquist, with or without his replacement. What difference will Rehnquist's presence or absence make to the ruling expected mid-2006? Whatever the ruling, it will affect whatever laws California may enact in the mean time.

Arguments counter to the Oregon law run along religious grounds and right-to-life issues and raise concerns about possible suicide pressures brought to bear on the disabled. Arguments also run along slippery slopes and if now this, what next?

Does Oregon just allow prescribing death-inducing doses of drugs willy-nilly? No. The patient must be mentally competent. Two doctors must say that the patient is terminally ill, with death forecast within six months. The request must be renewed within 15 days.

In the past seven years, 171 Oregonians have taken advantage -- two a month on average. How is Death With Dignity that much different from existing laws that allow a patient to refuse treatment, request that no artificial means be used to extend life, or insist on a Do Not Resuscitate order?

Hunter S. Thompson just died of what is alleged to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Speculation is high as to why, but no one is saying that he had only six months to live. Some say he was in pain and declining health and dreaded living out his life the way he was. Maybe so. Some say he had lost good friends like Warren Zevon and dreaded the direction the country was taking. Maybe so. Am I to decide that his decision to cut his life short was wrong and he could not make that decision, or having made it, not follow through? Who am I to decide that? If I'd been his wife or his daughter, I might -- maybe -- have had a say in the matter. Or not.

My oldest brother killed himself at twenty-nine in a depression-spawned black ooze. Another brother, diagnosed as terminally ill at age forty-eight, made the decision to keep fighting until the last minute. He almost made it to fifty-one. Did he keep fighting because he knew what suicide does to family and didn't want to put us through all that again? I don't think so. I think he was just the way he'd always been and had a robust scientific curiosity about the whole process of dying -- Death, The Final Adventure. ... except for him, maybe not. Case opted for cryonics and hoped there'd be more adventures further down the road.

Suicide. Suicide. Thirty years later, I am still affected by the unexpected sudden death of Skip. Would things have turned out differently if we'd known what he was going through thousands of miles away? Would we have been able to talk with him, get him into treatment that would have mitigated the black ooze and kept him with us? I come back again and again to the knowledge that one never knows, one never knows whether things could've turned out differently. If not this time, when?

But the Oregon law is not intended for black ooze and suicide. It's intended for people with a short time to live who would rather check out now.

I am glad we had time with Case above and beyond the six months or so he was originally quoted. I am glad he decided to stick around until the bitter end, but who am I to tell someone given a terminal prognosis that they can't die now and avoid the time dragging on and on until ... they die anyway?

Why can't the patient decide now that they'd rather not spend that time, thanks. Why aren't they allowed to make that decision?

Who are we to play God?

Update: Juan Thompson gave an interview to the Rocky Mountain News. The resulting article says, Few, if any, can conceive of Thompson's reasoning in committing suicide, according to his relatives. But it is a thought process with its own beautifully dark logic, they say.

"I've known for many, many years that this is how Hunter would go," Juan Thompson said. "There was just no question that when the time came he would choose to do it himself. The idea of Hunter lying in a hospital bed with tubes, gasping for breath, is so contrary to his whole life and purpose and drive.

"It was just a question of when. This was a big surprise and I didn't expect it to be now, but the means was exactly as we expected."

Theme Thursday challenge: tools

Theme Thursday challenge: Tools  Posted by Hello

Wood carving. Yunnan, CH

Recycled paper

Interesting articles in the Merc (by Frank Greve for Knight Ridder) yesterday, in the CoCo Times (by Karl Schoenberger for Knight Ridder) a week ago and elsewhere recently about the amount of scrap paper that is heading over to China from the U.S.

The CoCo article reads, More than one-third of the merchandise passing through Oakland, the Bay Area's shipping gateway, now comes from China or is on its way back. And tellingly, one in three containers leaving Oakland for China or other Asian ports is empty, hard evidence of America's $618 billion trade gap with the world and its $162 billion trade deficit with China last year.

Further on it reads, Incoming containers from China and other parts of Asia bear computer parts, machinery and low-cost clothing. Some outgoing containers are filled with California-grown produce and wine, but most contain the discards of post-industrial society. Recycled paper, metal scrap and other waste material are the port's top exports.

California's biggest export to China these days is said to be scrap paper.

According to the article in the Merc, Americans are recycling paper at a great clip, 300 pounds per capita per year, about half the paper produced in the U.S.

Where does that scrap paper go? Well, there you have discrepancies between the two articles. The CoCo article claims that China is starting to prefer to get empty containers back instead of ones loaded with scrap paper because they can refill and reship them faster.

The Merc article claims that China is hungering for scrap paper to recycle into paperboard for shipping boxes for the goods that fill those container ships heading our way. China is short of trees and, hence, wood pulp. Years ago we were proudly shown a two-hundred-year-old tree, protected by fences, in Chongqing, which had very few trees otherwise.

In addition to improvements in the tactics of waste-paper collection, recycling is gaining from China's suddenly ravenous appetite for U.S. scrap paper. Its hunger for recycled paper is fueled by its own shortage of wood pulp and a mushrooming need for boxes in which to ship its exports.

U.S. papermakers, who need scrap themselves, are struggling to compete against China's mills, which made off with about 6 million tons of American scrap paper in 2004. That's from a total U.S. paper recovery of about 50 million tons. Mills in India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea also are ardent bidders for American scrap paper.

Exports of U.S. scrap of all kinds have more than doubled in the last five years. Scrap paper is one of the big items. The problem, which is now affecting U.S. paper mills, is that China is willing to pay a higher price than American mills. Because the shipping cost is minimal, only 10% of the actual paper cost, China is now buying up scrap paper from East Coast port cities too. The top four U.S. port cities exporting paper are Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

Much U.S. scrap paper ends up in the massive new Nine Dragons recycled paper mill in Dongguan, China, north of Hong Kong. It's the world's largest, and is unique in its ability to turn low-quality mixed papers into respectable paperboard for boxes and packaging.

Good news: we're recycling more. Bad news (at least for the American paper pulp industry): Global economics and the joys of capitalism mean the mill in Dongguan can out bid the Americans for American scrap paper.

Keep those ships loaded going to and fro.

 Posted by Hello

Photo Friday challenge: Rural

Photo Friday challenge: Rural  Posted by Hello

Farmer's ladle used to water seedlings in fenced field. Yunnan, CH

Markos Moulitsas

Markos Moulitsas (see link to Daily Kos over there >>> under hot crossed blogs) also got a writeup from K. Oanh Ha in yesterday's Merc. (Registration required.)

"Revenues from ads on Daily Kos totaled more than $100,000 last year, Moulitsas said."


Heather Champ

Heather Champ (see link over there under hot crossed blogs) earned a writeup by K. Oanh Ha in the Merc yesterday. Registration required for the Merc article. No registration required to visit Champ's photo blog.

MercuryNews.com | 02/22/2005 | Bernard Tougas, valley restaurateur

Bernie Tougas, valley restaurateur dies at age 78. Fans of the O in Menlo Park (and Jakes and the Boardwalk and the Garret) will remember him.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Moody Monday's Mood: Romantic

Moody Monday's Mood: Romantic.  Posted by Hello

1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of romance.
2. Given to thoughts or feelings of romance.
3. Displaying, expressive of, or conducive to love: a romantic atmosphere.
4. Imaginative but impractical; visionary: romantic notions.
5. Not based on fact; imaginary or fictitious: His memoirs were criticized as a romantic view of the past.
6. often Romantic Of or characteristic of romanticism in the arts.

El Parque del Amor - Miraflores - Lima, PERU.

El Beso, a sculpture by Victor Delfín, dominates the park. The park overlooks the ocean and is surrounded by wavy walls embedded with mosaic tiles scripting romantic quotations, including one by the poet Antonio Cilloniz, "in the cities they do not build monuments to lovers." The park opened February 14, 1993.

According to our guide there is a kissing contest held here on weekends. Newly married couples vie to hold a pose identical to the statue's. The couple that can hold the pose for the longest period of time is rewarded with a dinner for two at La Rosa Naútica, the restaurant down by the edge of the ocean, visible from the bluff at El Parque del Amor.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Gavin's anniversary party yesterday

The guys came up and spent Friday night so we could get an early start Saturday morning. Gavin's anniversary event was scheduled for ten at City Hall. Doors opened at nine. We planned to walk down the Steps at eight and catch the F-line at the Embarcadero and take it over to Van Ness, then walk over to City Hall.

All went without a hitch. We arrived at 8:45 a.m.

The guys kept reminiscing about the rain and the lines last year. This year at quarter to nine, the line didn't quite reach the first corner. Last year when they arrived, the line of same sex couples waiting to get married at City Hall had wrapped around the block to the fourth corner and was almost wrapped back on itself when they arrived.

We stood in line and watched the line grow, wrapping around the corner and disappearing from sight. Petitioners and other sorts handed out papers and chatted up the crowd in line.

Registration went smoothly. Everything was under the older niblet's name because he came first in the alphabet. They had a record that the guys were bringing two guests. We walked into City Hall, passed the security screening and headed toward the rotunda.

I found a place under a lantern where I could stand with the lantern post at my back so I wouldn't get wigged out as the crowd got bigger and people started to crush. If you look at this picture, I planted myself in front of the lantern on the left side of the picture.

We stood around talking and taking pictures of people taking pictures for over an hour as the crowd grew and started to fill the balcony and then the next balcony and then the next and the people on the floor of the rotunda started pushing closer and closer together.

Ten o'clock came and went with no sign of Gavin. The crowd was getting restless. People would start a rhythmic clapping which would then die out.

"Gavin! Gavin! Gavin!" came the shouts.

Still no action, but I didn't mind. People were still arriving. Wouldn't you be pissed if they started without you through no fault of your own but because security was being secure and the line behind security was backing up?

People kept arriving. A lesbian couple stopped and chatted as they pushed by with their twins in a stroller.

The energy in the room was amazing. People shouted at friends on the balcony tier across from them. Someone shouted, "Happy anniversary!" and the room exploded with applause.

Finally, about ten-thirty, Kate Kendell came out and made brief comments and introduced an eight-minute trailer for a film covering the past year and Gavin's Valentine's surprise. The crowd cheered in places. Booed in other places.

Finally, it was time for Gavin.

He gave a rousing speech and had people cheering and shouting. At several points audience fists punched the air. Newsom was stirring, angry, joyful, congratulatory in turn.

Too soon the speechifying was over. Gavin brought Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, the lesbian couple -- together over fifty years -- who were the first same-sex couple to be married at City Hall last year up on the stage and the crowd cheered and shouted, whistled and clapped. He brought up Democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno and others supporting the cause and after cheers and whistles and loud applause, the party was over.

Realizing after about fifteen, twenty minutes that there was no way we'd ever get near Gavin and waiting for him to wade through the crowd to get to where we were wasn't going to work either, we headed off to the room next to the Rotunda for cookies. We jumped on the F-line and headed back to Levi's Plaza, and then up the Steps to home.

~~~ Photo set ~~~

wordPhoto current word: Star

wordPhoto current word: Star  Posted by Hello

Photograph taken in schoolroom, Yunnan province, China

Friday, February 11, 2005

Photo Friday challenge: Luscious

Photo Friday challenge: Luscious  Posted by Hello

XOX Truffles [754 Columbus Avenue
(between Filbert & Greenwich), SF. North Beach]

Casimira and Jean-Marc's truffles are ... luscious.

Mail-order available!

Tom Sawyer would've been proud

Received from Patattenboerken:

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Believe you'd get $5 from them if you spammed 250 others? Call me doubtful.

... and where did they get my address to start with?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Those were the days, my friends.

I came across these while I was clearing out trunks in the garage last weekend.

The Lee Michaels - Cold Blood - Ten Years After handbill is from July 1970. The Jethro Tull handbill is from November 1969. These handbills were handed out at the Fillmore concerts, advertising upcoming concerts, so I never saw Ten Years After or Jethro Tull.

I have no recollection who might've been headlining the nights I was there and picked up these handbills. I remember seeing Dr. John the Night Tripper, Santana, others.

  Posted by Hello

I wonder how many people who were around then saved their handbills. How many handbills are tucked away in trunks and attics?

Further digging uncovered a handbill that's slightly bent but still in good shape.

How many people still have one of these, I wonder.

The card announces the concert in our high school gym, Friday, March 7, 1969.

Gropus Cackus
Sweet Linda Divine (Linda Tillery of the Loading Zone)
and my fave then and still a fave now, Santana.

Tickets at the door only. $3.

Those were the days, my friends.

Update: Tracked down the Jethro Tull handbill artist through the magic of the Web. Randy Tuten has his own site which showcases his work and art. He sells work off the site too. I hadn't realized how much of the rock art I remember was Tuten's.

Update 2: David Singer did the art for the Lee Michaels - Cold Blood - Ten Years After handbill. Turns out he was the artist who did the most poster art for Bill Graham Productions. He now runs a design firm up in Petaluma and sells his posters and other art on his Web site.

Go thee hither.

It's been a year, come this Saturday

It will be a year, come this Saturday, since Gavin allowed same-sex marriages in San Francisco. At the time he said that to do otherwise would be to continue with "a separate but unequal process for people to engage in marriages."

This Saturday Gavin's having a celebration down at City Hall. We're invited.

The older niblet wrote about it best in a note dated 27 February 2004.


So, it's been a long two weeks. (Two weeks? Gah, no idea where the time's been going). I've been busy at school, making up for the lost day or two last week and catching up to speed after having to juggle classes around in some interesting and unusual ways. Now that I'm back on an even keel, I can finally sit down and write the email I wanted to send to everyone last week at this time. Sorry for taking so long, it's just been an interesting time.

So we're married. It still seems an amazing thing that I spend half the time not believing, and the other half in stunned amazement. If nothing else, this is certainly not the way I ever thought things would happen.

Bill and I have been living together for almost two years now (he moved down March 28th, 2002), and we've known each other/dated/had a relationship for some 14 months before that. So three years altogether, give or take. Our first year living together was sort of a test to see if it could work. And it did, it really did. On our first anniversary, we proposed to each other and made plans for a ceremony of some sort once I'd graduated from college and had a job. We'd do all the legal paperwork that sorta-kinda gives you some of the legal rights that marriage does, Bill would use Sun's domestic partner benefits and that would be that.

Then Newsom pulled his Valentine's Day surprise and that all went to heck pretty quick. I first heard what was going on late Thursday in passing and didn't exactly understand what was going on. It sounded just like another symbolic act by the city and since I only had a vague fragment from someone's blog to go on, it didn't register too much. Friday, some actual information started filtering out on exactly what was going on. It was very cool to hear about, but it wasn't until the actual I Was There stories started coming on late Friday/Saturday that I started to realize just what was going on up in SanFran. So Saturday, Bill has to head out to run errands he wasn't able to get to Friday. I stayed behind so I could draw up a V-Day card and perhaps grab flowers or some other surprises. And I read more of what's happening in San Francisco, starting to realize that this is more then just a ceremonial demonstration, but the actual real thing.

Bill was delivering a Palm to a friend of ours, who I called to let know that he was on his way. "Oh, you're not with him? I thought for sure you two would be up in the city today getting married." What, they're still doing the weddings? But it's the weekend holiday? Besides, we were going to wait until after graduation and… "Oh no, they're staying open special all weekend long. Monday too. All volunteer." So I deliver the message and get off the phone, and then sit down to ponder. Even have writings to myself around here somewhere of what was going through my mind.

We've been trying so hard to do this all by the book, to make sure there are no regrets, no entanglements, that this beautiful wonderful thing we have between us lasts, and that we don't screw it up. Marriage isn't something you rush into by any stretch, and it does change everything, and we did want to wait and do it right, but… But this was IT. A once in a lifetime chance, the real actual thing. Something we never thought we'd have a chance at for years and years to come was suddenly there, actual legal recognition. Not domestic partnership or civil unions, but full on blown marriage. It was… intoxicating, mind swimmingly intoxicating. To have real solid proof of our bond and love. By all rights, a piece of paper shouldn't mean anything, but it does. I don't know why, but it does, and here was a chance to have it, to claim it. To take a stand and show to the world how much we cared for and loved each other, and to be a part of history. The last part was the one that stuck on me the most. The thought of being able to look back and say I was there was an empowering one, but I didn't want it to be such an overpowering reason that it downed out the rest. So I worried and fretted and paced and angsted over whether I should propose for real this time, whether we should do this, was it just the heat of the moment, would it be good, was I just doing this for selfish reasons, so on, so forth. It was Saturday afternoon, meaning we had two days left before the Tuesday cutoff. Sunday, Monday. So if we –were- going to do it, it had to be now, very little time for planning or thought. No time to tell anyone, or check, or even have clean clothes or rings, definitely not how I wanted to do it, but… It was our chance. Our one and only.

And so around and around the thought process went.

By the time Bill got home, I was a nervous wreck from the Should We, Shouldn't We game. Took me a good bit before I got up the nerve to ask, can't even remember how I managed to get it out. Then the whole game started again, with both of us playing, all afternoon and night long. In the end, we decided to do it the very next day. We'd been together for two years plus, our love has only been getting deeper and wider, there was nothing to say we wouldn't be together decades down the line, and most straight couples would be working on their second kid by this point.

All of the nice clothes were at the cleaners, which wasn't open on the weekend. No problem, a few spares and pseudo-nice clothes were scrounged up and thrown in the dryer to de-wrinkle quicklike. Bill took the two rings from his personal collection he'd used to propose the year before to be used as the actual wedding rings until we saved up for replacements. The one I got can only fit on my pinky, what with the fatness of my third joint. We had just about enough money for the certificate and ceremony, coupled with BART tickets and food, so we were all set. Early to bed, a night of tossing and turning, and then up at 6:30 and out the door. We got to City Hall at 11:30, doors had opened at 10. Due to strangeness and overflow from the day before, they were already filled up, no chance to get in. WE stayed anyway, just in case. It was horribly demoralizing at first, but then we spent some six odd hours on the front steps amongst the crowds cheering and applauding all the couples that came out. It was the most powerful and moving experience of my life.

It was intimidating is what it was. There were 80 year old men coming out arm in arm, mothers and fathers with two or three kids behind them. And given the short timing, I don't know where some of these women got their dresses. Saving them for years just in case? There were entire families turning out, wizened old Koreans beaming proudly as their granddaughters kissed on the steps. Someone had ordered endless bouquets of flowers that were being handed out to anyone who came out, the steps were littered with petals and rice, there were signs and cheers, someone somewhere had a bubbleblower, there were a pair of boys on the front steps who kept running out to grab flowers and rice between moments so they could throw them all over again.

Across the street were perhaps a dozen Indians with signs reading "Even animals don't have homosex relations!!!!" who refused to speak to anyone. Another woman showed up as far away from them as she could be while still being across from the City Hall steps cradling a picture of Jesus, though she left after an hour or two. After the light drizzle started around two thirty, the Indians left as well, leaving us in peace. Those were, by the way, the only protesters we saw all weekend, save for someone out Monday morning with a bible who made two circuits of the line and then left. Also Indian, which makes me believe he was from the same group.

Then there were the cars honking and cheering as they passed, the news cameras set up. I even managed to get a picture of Mayor Newsom slipping in while people were distracted, though he got spotted right before getting in the door, leading to a truly massive cheer.

So, by four we were told no go. People were starting to set up for overnight camps, though we were told that without porta-potties or police patrols, the SFPD were required by law to send people away at nightfall. It was starting to rain and get windy, and we had no sleeping bags or umbrellas, so home we went.

We went home, and fell straight asleep, woke up at 3:30, got the first BART train up at 5:52, arrived in San Francisco and got in line by 6:45. The line already stretched around the entirety of the building, around three corners and half a block away from wrapping around the fourth and meeting up with itself. It was cold, dark, windy, rainy. Absolutely horrible. There were hundreds of people there, many had spent the whole night. There were porta-potties set up on one corner, I have no idea who donated them. I heard later that police officers had volunteered to patrol City Hall that night on their own free time, meaning that the campers could stay legally. It was… Giddy, anticipatory. No one had any idea how many people would be married that day, the figure stood at 400 reportedly, though rumors where rampant. We were somewhere between 300 and 500 people down the line, so we were extremely worried we wouldn't get in at all. The couple in front of us were an older lesbian pair who had come up to San Francisco for their 23rd anniversary that weekend, had heard about the marriages the day before and had shown up just minutes before us. Their best friend from down south had apparently spent the previous afternoon and night driving up to be their bridesmaid/bestman/witness/photographer. She brought plastic garbage bags to help give us some more water protection, then went off to see if Starbucks was open yet.

The doors opened early, at 8, to let in the first 200 people who'd been out in the rain all night. People started moving along the lines with giant bags of bagels, big cases of coffee from Starbucks and Pete's, water, donuts, all sorts of stuff. A dozen different people and small groups who'd all come up with the idea to supply breakfast to us poor folks in line. We started hearing that the number of people married might be as high as 500, and as people packed up camping gear, and the first 200 were let in, we moved up until we were at the opposite entrance from the main City Hall steps. It was rainy and miserable, but we were enjoying it. Everyone was. Everyone was friends, entire swaths of conversation groups forming along the lines, coffee and food moving their ways back and forth, the constant honking of horns, the rain, the cheers every time we moved up a little bit further, the people running up and down the lines counting couples and figuring out what chance they had, the rain, the sheer mass of people. Well over a thousand, perhaps as high as two thousand. The couples, the well wishers, the helpers, the witnesses, the friends, the family. We had tour buses passing by, Japanese tourists with cameras flashing, cheering and waving and giving broad thumbs up. Taxi cabs, city buses, just a sheer mass of people.

By the time we had rounded the corner and were within sight of the steps, things had started to just fizz in my head. Someone pulled up right in front of us and started unloading some 20-30 Domino's pizza boxes and handing them out to people in line. When I asked if he was with any of the other groups that had been handing out drinks earlier, he seemed stunned that anyone else had thought of the idea as well. Spur of the moment thing, he said. Next to us, the friend of the gay couple behind us in line was ranting about how utterly fringing terrific this all was, and how back in 1950, -she- couldn't marry anyone she wanted to (gorgeous young black woman), and f-ck if the government wasn't going to let her two favorite 'boys' from marrying anyone they wanted to as well. She'd arrived around 10 or so after driving up from somewhere down south, didn't catch exactly where. Lots more news cameras out in front by the time we got there. Had a few interviews around us, but we were never chosen, alas. By now, the number of expected marriages was up to 600, but we still had our fingers crossed, just in case. The first married couples were already on their way out, driving by in their cars, waving certificates in the air, hurrying past on the sidewalk, rice in their hair, tears on their cheeks. Demonstrators with "We all deserve the right to marry" signs were all over the steps. The statue of Abe Lincoln in front was bearing one of the signs and a rainbow flag, looking faintly bemused as he posed dramatically.

By the time we reached the steps, we had certificates for 15% off meals at restaurants, honeymoon suites in town, jewelry store coupons and more. Need to solve your state's sluggish economy? Apparently gay marriage is just the jumpstart it needs. There was talk that the local Starbucks was running low on supplies and had done more business that weekend then in the previous month. I'm sure Domino's was similarly thrilled. We picked our way among the rice and flowers, getting a few of our own, slowly moving up the steps, and then IN!

Inside, which meant it was going to happen, they couldn't stop us now. No cutoff, we had made it! We were somewhere in the 500s, latter found out they did some 750-850 that day, so we were never in any danger of not getting in, but still. Hundreds of volunteers helping out, a goodly number who had fresh rings and certificates of their own. A woman and her girl snuck in with us as our 'witness' so she could find her friends already inside. Met up with her later on, safely joined up with her group, some four or five kids playing tag in the grand hall while paperwork was being filled out. A fun little maze run followed as we traced along City Hall's insides, finally making our way to the processing room. Couldn't move in there, the six computers for the 30 applicants a day working overtime for the 800+ they had to deal with. Milling crush of people waiting for paperwork, and then squeezing out and being lead around another winding path to the main hall.

The place is beautiful, I have the pictures to prove it. Not as many, or as unblurred as I would've liked, but we were kinda in a rush by that point. There were eight, nine ceremonies going on at once under the dome, the line moving disturbingly quick. We shucked off jackets and packs and dumped them along the side, then sent up the stairs to our waiting guide/witness.

I can't really describe this whole sequence properly. The utter mindswiming euphoria, the panicked anticipation and joy, the just gut wrenching nervousness and happiness. We were married at 2:00, give or take. I fumbled the ring so badly, Bill had to help me get it on. Neither of us were able to say our lines with an unwavering voice. In the pictures, we both look horrid. Bill trying so hard to keep control he looks almost sullen, me on the verge of tears. Both of us water stained and exhausted from the elements, lack of sleep and physical stress. We were pronounced "Husband and husband, spouses for life.", hugged and embraced. The both of them must've seen over a hundred marriages over the day and previous, but they were still brimming with joy for us. On the way back down, we passed a priest, (can't remember how to spell the name, starts with an E?) with a gay couple and two dozen family members starting their ceremony at the top of the steps.

Another hour was spent getting our special copy of the certificate and then marching out the door, waving it atop City Hall steps, getting a surprise hug and kiss from Bill and then making our way through the gauntlet of rice, people and cameras and on our way back home to sleep.

At the BART station, we were stopped by a man who'd just come down the stairs on his way to another train to say he'd seen us at City Hall, and gave us his deepest congratulations, and then he was gone.

It's hard to get across the sheer joy in all of this. Almost mind numbing. I have plenty to say about the repercussions, and my thoughts on Governor Arnold, President Bush, marriage equality and so on and so forth, but it really must wait for a separate writing, this is long enough as it is. I will say this, however.

As far as most of the country, people and legality alike, view it, our marriage isn't worth the paper the certificate is printed on, and we both know this. We've already committed to each other in heart, mind and spirit, so a legal document to that effect really shouldn't mean all that much.

But it does. I don't understand why, I can't explain why, but it does. I am married now. We are married, and I am still in a state of constant shock and joy because of it. All those poreish empty places inside that riddled the foundations of myself, that harbored all those hidden doubts and worries and constant background unease are gone. Just.. gone. I've always felt like I stood at the top of a tower, with foundations that barely stood in the wind, but now it's just flat solid ground. Even now, two weeks later, as bits of the initial glow fade down to background joy, that remains rock solid. I remain rock solid. I feel more fulfilled, more perfect, more right then I ever dreamed I could. I feel complete in ways I never imagined possible. This is RIGHT, this is PROPER this is how it should be, how it must be.

In the debates over marriage equality, there is always much todo about legal rights, visitation, right of attorney, inheritance, taxes, childrearing and so forth, but to me none of that matters. Love matters. This man sitting beside me conquering Europe matters. The bond that we share, the melding of minds and souls and the love between us matters. And now that bond is deeper and truer than it ever was before, than it could've ever hoped to be before. To deny this love, this trueness, this peace is worse then criminal, it is to deny someone the right to their soul's peace and sanctity. And I overflow with joy that I now have it, and I will do anything to ensure that we are not the only ones, that it doesn't end here with 8,000 people in San Francisco, but that it extends to anyone and everyone who's been denied this basic human joy for all their years and decades of partnership. And I thank all of you from the very bottom of my heart for sharing in this joy with me. I truly cannot thank you all enough.

Once I've completed college and have a job, we're doing this again. A "religious" ceremony as opposed to the civil one. Actual invitations and guests will be involved, honest to goodness. Vows and Champagne and cake also promise to be in attendance. And in 50 years, Bill and I look forward to standing on the San Francisco City Hall steps with all the others still alive and pose for the tri-vid news cameras as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of equal marriage rights.

And now, math homework. Because for the teachers at Cabrillo "I got married" is an event, but not an excuse.

Love you all,

The Theme Thursday Challenge is Mess (Messy, Disorder, Chaos, Broken, Splatter, Helter-Skelter,... )

The Theme Thursday Challenge is Mess (Messy, Disorder, Chaos, Broken, Splatter, Helter-Skelter,... ).  Posted by Hello

... Amazing what you can find in old trunks. This sweatshirt is like new but must be um. over fifteen years old. (The Bridge still isn't rehabbed? What's up with that?)

Last week I went through two trunks in the back bedroom and sorted through the contents. Saved some. Gave most away. Gave one of the trunks away. Found potential homes for the cloth.

Saturday we emptied four trunks that were out in the garage plus this one in the family room and also a five-foot tall or so cabinet that I bought for $10 twenty years ago from a fabric store that was going out of business. The cabinet originally held clothing patterns.

I kept patterns in one drawer. The other four drawers, though, were filled with craft supplies, half-finished projects, and treasures. I found more crewel embroidery goodies that I'll add to those that I found in the wicker trunk last week. I also uncovered some bags of candy that I must have bought for Halloween (ten years ago? fifteen?) and hidden away so youngsters wouldn't eat them before the big night. The bags were filled with my favorite kinds of candy. Yum.

I dumped the candy in the garbage.

The contents of the cabinet and trunks are now strewn over all horizontal surfaces in the family room, waiting for a proper sort. The older niblet will be over on Friday to check that we're not planning to give anything away that he'd wished we'd kept.

PhotoTuesday theme: Sports

PhotoTuesday theme: Sports  Posted by Hello

... an apprentice Brandi

Behold the lovely rhododendron -- and beware its maddening toxins

Article by Ron Sullivan in yesterday's Chron titled, Behold the lovely rhododendron -- and beware its maddening toxins.

Interesting read.

Oddly enough, one of my favorite people had sent me a link to On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee at the end of January. She noted that poisonous honey would make a terrific murder weapon. ("Remember me in the footnotes!")

Is it something in the air?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Lensday challenge is "red"

Lensday challenge is "red". Posted by Hello

Peruvian flag flying in the middle of the village green, outside the one-room schoolhouse in a small Amazonian village.

Pulling heartstrings

Found this Quicktime clip on Mister P's blog, which I found from a link over at Cruft, which I found through through the magic of Zen.

This has got to be one of the best bits of message that I've seen in a long, long time. Sure, it's intended to pull your heartstrings.

It succeeds, doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

It's Official: Ask Jeeves Acquires Bloglines

It's Official (News from Search Engine Watch)

At the present time, Ask Jeeves has no plans to change anything about what Bloglines offers.

Heads up!

News from Search Engine Lowdown
FAQ from Bloglines

WordPhoto challenge: Frame

Door frame - Yunnan province, China.

WordPhoto challenge: Frame Posted by Hello

Monday, February 07, 2005

Moody Monday mood: Anxious

It's a long ways up ... and a long ways down. Posted by Hello

Moody Monday's mood: Anxious.

1. Uneasy and apprehensive about an uncertain event or matter; worried.
2. Attended with, showing, or causing anxiety: spent an anxious night waiting for the test results.
3. Usage Problem. Eagerly or earnestly desirous.

This shot was taken at one of the higher tree platforms along Explorama's canopy walkway. The walkway is strung up to 115' above the ground and goes from tree platform to tree platform (a total of fourteen tree tops) for a total "walk" over a third of a mile in the Amazon jungle.

I probably would've been okay, well, more okay, if I'd been able to walk my section by myself, but we each were paired with a partner so the trek wouldn't take all day. His nibs and I were paired and we'd start off from each tree fine and then ... the walkway would start to sway from our walking and pretty soon I'd be thinking of the Tacoma Narrows disaster. I'd reach the next platform and calm my nerves then set off again.

Didn't help that staff told us to make sure we didn't have DEET on our hands as they'd found that DEET rots the supporting nylon ropes and ...

Anxious? You bet.

Macroday's challenge: Fluid

The Amazon meets a black water tributary. Posted by Hello

Carlo Ferroni's Macroday is up and running with its first Sunday photo challenge: Fluid


adj 1: subject to change; variable; "a fluid situation fraught with uncertainty"; "everything was unstable following the coup" [syn: unstable] 2: characteristic of a fluid; capable of flowing and easily changing shape [syn: runny] 3: smooth and unconstrained in movement; "a long, smooth stride"; "the fluid motion of a cat"; "the liquid grace of a ballerina"; "liquid prose" [syn: flowing, fluent, liquid, smooth] 4: in cash or easily convertible to cash; "liquid (or fluid) assets" [syn: liquid] 5: affording change (especially in social status); "Britain is not a truly fluid society"; "upwardly mobile" [syn: mobile] n 1: a substance that is fluid at room temperature and pressure 2: a continuous amorphous substance that tends to flow and to conform to the outline of its container: a liquid or a gas

This photo is not a macro (obviously) so it won't be headed off to competition, but I liked Carlo's effort and am herewith making a plug for his site to the photographers out there who might've been hankering for a place that catered to macrophotography.

Happy bday, kiddo!

Today is our youngest niblet's twenty-first bday.

[SFX: Sal fainting]

It's also Kos' bday, but he's older than dirt (meaning ... slightly younger than I am -- I being even more slightly younger than his mum).

Happy bday, kiddos! Both of ya!

speech accent archive

The speech accent archive "examines the accented speech of speakers from many different language backgrounds reading the same sample paragraph."

Site currently has 404 speech samples including dutch, catalan, gujarati, kazakh speakers (and more!).

Gujarati speakers hail from Ahmedabad and Bombay with a third born in Ireland.

For each speaker the site provides information about place of birth, native language, other second languages, age, sex, age of English onset, type of English learning method, length of residence.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Theme Thursday: "VACATION"

Theme Thursday -- "VACATION"
(Break, Rest, Travel, Beach, Visit, Out of Town, Relaxation,... )  Posted by Hello

Friends caught unaware, relaxing on their private deck as the sun sets behind them and dusk sneaks in. Ah, this is the life. Dattilo in the distance. Basiluzzo and Stromboli off photo to the left.

At the Hotel Raya Alto
Panarea, Aeolian Islands, Sicily.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Two trunks down ... more to go.

So. How's the house coming, you want to know?

Last Friday I emptied out a wicker trunk in the back bedroom and sorted through the contents. I'll take the yarn to my friend Caroline who knows a senior center that needs yarn for their afghan projects. I kept some of the trunk contents. I offered a family member the rest of the contents and the trunk.

From there, I moved on to a bigger, metal trunk next to the bed in the same room. Cloth! Cloth! and more cloth!

I sorted through the cloth. Saved out the bits I wanted to keep. Trimmed up the gangly edges of leftover bits from previous shirts, dresses, skirts and other what-not sewing projects.

I will be recycling a large pile of scraps at the curb next week. Alas, if only I had the time to play with my handmade paper makings. These fabric shreds would be perfect for mixing in with the pulp goop to create some interesting effects.

After trimming everything up, I stacked the now-neatly-folded pieces into piles. I sent this picture off to the family member who's getting the wicker trunk and asked, "Interested?"

Posted by Hello   The stuff on the left side of the bench are chunks of cloth, "folds" -- as they say in the fabric biz, pieces of cut cloth large enough for real sewing projects. Various colors and types. Some flag motif. One Christmas. Solids. Stripes. &c.

The box on the bench has smaller scraps of cloth. Useful, perhaps, for making doll clothes or something. I'd give them to my aunt for her quilting projects but they aren't all quilting sorts of cloths. The box on the floor is larger pieces of cloth, but not so large as the ones to the left of the bench.

... and that's what I've been up to. Fun, eh? Multiple trunks to go ...

[FOOD] Dine About Town - Rubicon

558 Sacramento St. SF 94111
Lunch: W
Dinner: M-Sa

We walked into Rubicon last May shortly after Chef Stuart Brioza and partner and pastry chef Nicole Krasinski came on board. Yummy! we said, but pricey. We went back with our Berkeley buddies Steve and Paula in June but hadn't been back since, what with this and that and the expense and all the other places there are to eat.

We decided last week that as the grande finale of January's Dine About Town deals, we'd eat at Rubicon Monday night. The $31.95 deal for dinner cut the usual Rubicon pricey prices in half or more. The wine, of course, would not be cheap. Rubicon is known for its wine list and its prices reflect the wines it carries.

We walked over and arrived a few minutes early and were seated at the table Willie Brown was given when we were there in June. We checked out the menu and told the staff that we'd do the Dine About Town menu and have one of each. We asked for the City's finest Hetch Hetchy water in lieu of the relatively pricey bottled Fiji water the next table over was drinking.

The kitchen sent an amuse bouche with a sliver of cured meat and a bit of the cumin (I think) crème fraîche and we began ...

Dine About Town menu

First Courses

1) Preserved Yellowfin Tuna in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Cannelini Beans, Dandelion Greens, Cumin Crème Fraîche.

2) Sake Steamed Bouchot Mussels. Marinated Melon & Shiso

Both of these were delicious. Who would've thought that a tuna bean salad (for that's what it was in effect) could taste this good?

The mussels were also delicious, and were not as tiny as we'd been told they'd be. The cantaloupe garnish was four or five pieces, carved into grape-sized barrel-shaped pieces, and just the complement the mussels deserved. We had to ask for a spoon to scoop up the broth, which was delish, a buttery, mussel-y sauce with little strands of shiso.

The dish had eleven mussels. I, being the generous, sharing sort that I am, let his nibs have six.

Principal Dishes

1) Nut & Seed Crusted Petrale Sole. Butternut Squash, Swiss Chard, Sweet & Sour Reduction.

2) Confit of Duck Leg. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Polenta, Prunes & Olives.

The sole crust included not only nuts (pistachio?) but also crushed cumin and gave some crunch to the fish. The sole was curled and set on its side on top of the chard. The butternut squash was to the side, a madeleine-shaped puree. Delicious.

The duck confit was tasty. A combination of prunes and tart green olives sounds questionable, doesn't it? But it all worked. The times we've eaten at Rubicon, we've never had a dish that wasn't remarkable. I trust the kitchen and Stuart Brioza to provide yummy food.


1) Earl Grey Tea Crème Brulee

2) Frozen Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Napoleon

Guess who had the crème brulee? The bergamot flavoring added an unusual touch. Delicious.

As for the frozen milk chocolate hazelnut Napoleon, well. The milk chocolate was light enough that even his nibs said he could eat it. The flavor was more like a light sweet coffee cream than milk chocolate. The nuts added the right bit of toasty flavor. The layers of puff pastry kept the filling in place. Yummy. Scrumptious. A fine finish to a fine meal.

For wine, we had the Elizabeth Spencer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Tasty. Pricey! But we'd known it would be. There are no inexpensive wines on the Rubicon wine list. The Chardonnay costs $23+ in the stores. Add in Rubicon's markup.

We wandered home and sat on the deck watching the lights and thanking our lucky stars. Maybe next year we'll have more time to take full advantage of Dine About Town, but this year our restaurant tastes were a treat and Rubicon was a perfect finale for the month.

When we're not dining about town

... or "what we had for dinner last night"

Put rice in rice cooker, add water, turn on.

While the rice is cooking, take skinless boneless chicken thighs from Costco out of freezer and zap in microwave until thawed or even still a little frozen.

Cut into chunks.

Heat olive oil in large pan. Add garlic, sliced onion. Cook until onions soften. Add chicken chunks. Cook until chicken is done and excess moisture is evaporated.

While chicken is cooking, prep and cook carrots in the microwave.

Stir a jar of Trader Joe's Thai Green Curry sauce in with the chicken and continue cooking until sauce thickens.

Serve chicken with rice and carrots.

Usually served with a mixed green salad but had no greens in the refrigerator yesterday.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


We live at the edge of the Bay and can watch planes taking off from the Oakland Airport and SFO.

There's something about a sunrise, especially a sunrise cut by a plane, heading off to places unknown. 

Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.

Posted by Hello

The City awakes

... and traffic is moving east to west across the upper deck of the bridge. The Alameda ferry is already heading back for another load of passengers.  Posted by Hello

(Taken this morning as the sun rose.)