: views from the Hill

Monday, October 31, 2005

Tree ballet redux

I heard the chainsaws this morning as I was downing my daily vitamins -- with the passion fruit juice I found at the Marina Safeway the other day. (Ymm!) Chainsaws are not a common sound here in the wilds of Telegraph Hill, unlike they are in the wilds of the Santa Cruz Mountains around, say, Boulder Creek.

I sat out on our spiral fire escape and watched workers having at the trees that stand between us and Teatro Zinzanni, between us and Piers 27-29, between us and the Bay. Sad sight. I like the bit of green that blocks our view of the piers without interfering with our view of Treasure Island. I like watching the conures/parrots flock to these trees and squawk on and pet and kiss and mock on these trees. Noisy creatures -- a squabble of parrots, we call them -- but fun to watch.

Tree Ballet Redux, I thought. The original Tree Ballet happened just about this time last year.

Turned out, much to my surprise last year, there are no San Francisco ordinances governing trees on private property.

Turned out some of the neighbors were furious about the tree ballet last year that took down a tree that the parrots flock to. (n.b. not nest in, the parrots nest over in the Presidio)

Turned out some of the furious neighbors, and residents elsewhere who were furious with their neighbors for removing trees, were pushing for a city ordinance to cover trees on private property. Could the neighbor down the hill be working on the trees because the proposed new ordinance would curtail his/her right to take out the trees?

As I came back inside, I heard another set of chainsaws elsewhere on the hill. Something must be up.

I searched the Web.

Ah. ... Tree preservation to be a decision made by voters
Daly’s controversial plan goes to June 2006 ballot
By Marisa Lagos, Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2005 11:20 PM PDT

A controversial proposal that would require private property owners to ask The City permission before cutting down trees — even those out of the public eye — will be taken straight to the voters, Supervisor Chris Daly announced Tuesday.

A less sweeping plan by Supervisor Jake McGoldrick — which would allow The City to landmark certain trees — will be voted on by the Board of Supervisors next week. The ordinance was shelved Tuesday to allow the City Attorney time to change and clean up some of the legislation’s language.

Daly’s proposal would designate most large trees in The City as a "landmark" and require private property owners to apply for a permit before cutting them down. McGoldrick's, by contrast, would require private property owners, city residents and city agencies to apply for landmark status for a tree and hold public hearings before it is granted. If passed, Daly’s proposal would immediately affect thousands of The City’s estimated 668,000 trees; McGoldrick's would apply to an estimated 150-300 trees a year.


At the October 18th meeting, McGoldrick's proposal was continued again to October 25th. At last Tuesday's meeting, it was continued again until tomorrow.

Today, the trees just down the hill are coming down.

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again.

Found your blog!

Old friends came over yesterday and we had a really nice time. After much discussion a couple few days beforehand as to which restaurants were within a reasonable walking distance and which were open for dinner on Sunday, his nibs made reservations for four at Iluna Basque [701 Union St., San Francisco, CA].

As we were walking down to North Beach for dinner, Carol said, "I have to admit that after John told me where we were going to dinner, I searched the Web for information about the restaurant."

"Of course you did," I said.

"Yes, and I discovered you have a blog!"

Funny world.

She's not the first person to find my blog with a search for /"Iluna Basque restaurant" "san francisco"/.

More video stuff from Google Video

More video stuff from Google video.

[another update from GoogleBlog, natch.]

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Padre and Bloglines

I use bloglines to aggregate/monitor the plethora of blogs I read.

Firefox provides a cute little icon down at the bottom corner of my Firefox window which sports a red polka dot whenever one of the blogs I track is updated. Means I don't have to go clickety clickety through my list of blogs once a day or twice a week to find out who has and who hasn't posted something new. (Hi, Zen!)

When the red polka dot pops up, I click on the icon and Firefox brings up a window displaying my bloglines feeds list, with the feeds that have new entries clearly marked and the entries themselves shown in preview format. Click on the name of the blog, if any of the entries look interesting, and pull up the blog itself. Easy peasy.

Every once in a bit a feed that bloglines tracks goes sneakers up and I don't get notified of new posts on someone's blog.

Happened last week with Asha at Language Barrier.

Happened this week with Father Luke.

I don't know the feed's busted until I realize I haven't seen something new for a while from someone who usually posts fairly regularly. When that happens, I check their blog and find new posts that bloglines hasn't noticed.

Dropped Asha a note. She said she'd check into it when she wasn't connecting in from 'net cafes in Mexico. After I dropped Padre a note, he sent me his new RSS feed details. I popped that info into bloglines and Bob's your uncle.

bloglines claims Asha's feed is up-to-date, but when you preview the feed, the latest post showing is dated July some time. I'll wait patiently and click her blog link until she gets the feed cleared up.

Preetam Rai has a very lucid description of how Bloglines works and how to use it.

Mike Wallace interview

Leah Garchik writes today in the San Francisco Chronicle about her lively phone interview with Mike Wallace.

"I talked with Mike Wallace, whose new memoir, Between You and Me, is about his career as a journalist, by phone on Wednesday. We didn't forge a friendship."

To say the least ...

Red sky at morning, sailor take warning



Scott at Slushpile interviews Chris Baty in the runup to November 1st and NaNoWriMo.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mark Billingham on writing the next book

Check out Mark Billingham's latest column for theBookseller.

(Funny guy with great stories to tell. Unfortunately, he's giving up the column because of time constraints. He needs to write the next book.)

"It was a horrible revelation that this actually got harder with each successive book. I thought, certainly after I'd managed a couple, that it would be like shelling peas. I mean, James Patterson manages to start 10 to 11 books a year! Each time, it takes perhaps 100 pages before I remember that I can do it; before I feel as though I may actually manage to write another book."

[from Sarah Weinman's Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind]

Google Video brings you the Archive of American Television interviews

Google Video brings you the Archive of American Television interviews.

The archive contains over 450 interviews with the likes of Grant Tinker, Ted Turner, Norman Lear, Rita Moreno, Quincy Jones, Carl Reiner ... The video interviews come in multiple parts. To easily find the first segment of five, pop in a name (Ricardo Montalban, for instance) and sort through the hits.

Maybe Google is still uploading videos: in some cases, I couldn't find all segments in a series and the search results only show 501 hits, which means the number of interviews is probably more like 100-200 at this point, being as there's a hit for each segment of an interview.

Barbara Eden seems charming. I hadn't realized that she grew up in San Francisco.

[from GoogleBlog, natch.]

and a partridge in a pear tree ...

Well, actually, parrots in a pyracantha tree.

Came home from bulk-item trips to Safeway, Trader Joe's and Costco yesterday and did our usual double-park so we can carry things down the stairs. As we got out of the car, we saw our young next door neighbor Sadie and her uncle Marcus standing on Montgomery watching this sight. The birds squawked above and munched on berries: Sadie bounced with delight as bits of berry splatted on the ground around her.

Posted by Picasa  The red heads of the cherry-headed conures and their green bodies blend in almost perfectly with the berry bushes. I took my camera out and turned it on. By the time the camera booted and I took this click, the parrots had noticed a camera pointed at them and half of them had taken flight. 

[correction: conures in a cotoneaster tree. Sorry to be so compul^H^H^H^H^H^Hpersnickety.

I went back and forth. pyracantha. cotoneaster. pyracantha. cotoneaster. I couldn't tell from the pic, really, and I'd never checked the tree out before I saw Sadie and the conures yesterday. Parrots and pyracantha had a nice alliteration. ... Tonight, as we walked home from dinner, I checked it out. Cotoneaster it is, so conures and cotoneaster it is.]

Public Art

After the farmer's market last Saturday and before a looksee at the preview for Bonhams and Butterfields SOMA auction, we stopped by the dump for the Open Studio show for this quarter's artists in residence.

On our way in from where we'd parked the car, we found this public art outside the SF Recycling and Disposal office.

  Posted by Picasa [22Oct2005]

The art was interesting. Unusual. The artists have three month gigs and it must be something, those first few days or weeks, trying to decide what to do, what to salvage, what to use. The possibilities are endless and yet, you wouldn't want to do something that someone else has already done.

Out in the open area courtyard outside the gallery area, I found this.

Found art.

  Posted by Picasa [22Oct2005]

Peter Piper Picked A Peck

  [22Oct2005] Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 21, 2005

Housekeeping notes and congrats to Clotilde!

Today, obviously, I've been playing around with my blog. I fiddled with the layout. Added a pic! instead of just a text link to towse.com.

A few hours were taken up with formatting and FTP-ing two articles I'd written for Computer Bits over so that I could link to them [1] [2] from Internet Resources for Writers again. When Computer Bits closed up shop, they also took down their website and !there went my archives! I do have copies of everything I wrote for them for the five or six years they ran my columns and articles, but it will be a bear to get them all in shape to put online. Part of the exercise today was deciding on a basic layout for the articles and that format can (and will) be used over and over. ...

The last bit of time today was spent moving the huge set of links that had accumulated on my blogrolling Random Blogs of Interest list (where I stash blog links I decide to save) into the "real" blogroll in my template.

Mission accomplished!

And while I was clicking and moving and clicking and moving, I discovered that Clotilde over at Chocolate and Zucchini has a book deal! Congratulations, Clotilde!!

After the lengthy churn when Blogger republishes the updated blog and template, I discovered I'd forgotten to move Clotilde's [F] (for foodie) link down with the other [F] links. The alphabetizing and sorting of the template blogrolls are hand-done, you see, and mistakes happen.

But it takes too dang long for Blogger to republish the blog after updating the template so that update will just have to wait until the next time I'm fiddling with the template.

NaNoWriMo ... for those gearing up for November 1st

Found today: Eric Benson's NaNo Report Card updated by Bec for use in 2005.

How cool is that?

Bec is NaNoWriMo ML for Brisbane ... Australia (not California).

[n.b. The report card is an .XLS file with auto-calculating cells. If you don't do Excel, this morsel is not for you.]

The Yang Ming Wealth and the wonders of the Web (... continued)

re the Yang Ming Wealth

Spent more time poking around and found a press release re the christening of the Wealth in March 2004 with the following commentary

Dr. Frank Lu, chairman of Yang Ming, and Dr. Chiang Hsu, chairman of CSBC, presided the christening ceremony and Mrs. Constance D. White, wife of Mr. Stephen W. White, vice president of Dollar Tree Store, Inc., one of Yang Ming's most important customers in Pan-Pacific market, was invited to be the Sponsor of the new vessel. Dollar Tree is a large retail chain store in the US, which has cooperated and maintained good relationship with Yang Ming since 1994. The total volume of its consigned cargoes reached 16,000 TEUs in the recent two years.

Dollar Tree! Of course!

The Yang Ming Wealth and the wonders of the Web

Yang Ming Wealth came into port last night around 6:30, gliding at glacial speed past the piers and the Ferry Building, before hooking a left after it passed under the bridge to head over to Oakland.

Posted by Picasa

(The Wealth was moving verrry slowly and the ferries had to dart around it coming and going ...)

His nibs used the telescope to check the ship for a name, Yang Ming being a shipping concern out of Taiwan, and discovered the ship was named Wealth. How lucky a name is that?

This morning, when I was checking to make sure I remembered the name correctly, and hadn't misremembered Prosperity, Plum or Orchid (just a few of the Yang Ming ships), I discovered that I could go to the Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. site, pop in a vessel name, and find out where it had been and where it was going.

Vessel Name : YM WEALTH ( MWLH ) (click to view Vessel Information)
Current Lane : KY- PSW2 SERVICE ( PSW )
Current Comn Voyage : 17E / 17W
Current YML Vsl Voy : 57617E / 57617W ( PSW539E / PSW539W )

Current Voyage
Current Data -
Comn Voyage : 17E / 17W
YML VslVoy : 57617E / 57617W ( PSW539E / PSW539W )

[ports w/arrival date, departure date, &c.]

Vessel information includes
General Detail -
Flag Liberia
Lloyd's Code 9278088
Call Sign A8EI4
Port Register MONROVIA
Delivered Date 2004/03/22
Alternative Vessel Code 576
Build Detail -
Gross Tonnage 64005 Tons
Net Tonnage 34700 Tons
Service Speed 25.9 NM
D.W.T. 68615 Tons
Capacity Detail -
Reefer Capacity 400
Total Capacity 5551 TEUs

400 Reefers! Zounds!

Now if I could only figure a way to know what the bill of lading shows 'cause that's a heap of reefers visible up on deck for the plimsoll line to be that far above water. Those containers can't be empty, can they? What would they be picking up in Oakland? Used paper to make into cardboard cartons? 

Fog ...

The ferries are coming and going, into a bank of fog in the north bay.[20 Oct 2005] Posted by Picasa


Sun setting behind me to the west. Mount Diablo visible just to the right above Yerba Buena. [19 Oct 2005] Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 17, 2005


I started trimming the wisteria that winds up our fire escape earlier than usual this year, before the bulk of leaves had fallen. I'd only made a little progress before we left. When we returned two weeks later, we discovered that the combination of balmy fall weather and naked branchlets made the wisteria think it was spring, SPRING! (as Babar used to say).


Photo tweaking courtesy of Picasa, as are most recent blog posts that include photogs. Posted by Picasa

Only in San Francisco

Sunrise. Ferry coming in. Traffic on the Bay Bridge.


Can you believe I took forty some pictures of the pre-sunrise, sunrise, post-sunrise this morning?

Sure you can. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 15, 2005

"Home again, home again, riggety jig"

... as my DOD used to say. We're back. Aunti K's departure included a bit of excitement, more than enough to wake us up after the red-eye flight back.

This morning we walked over to the Ferry Building after breakfast for his nibs' loaf of sour batard and a bag of sour croutons from Acme Bread and for some vegetables.

I scored a bag full of tomatoes from the heirloom tomato lady -- a few of these, a couple of those, some for salads, some for eating with the fresh basil that's overwhelming my pots up on the deck -- yellow, lemon, red, purple, orange -- plus assorted shapes and colors of peppers.

 Posted by Picasa