: views from the Hill

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Bloggers have no privacy and should expect none"

Blogger Blocked at U.S. Border

By Lisa Vaas
November 29, 2005

"Bloggers have no privacy and should expect none—a lesson painfully learned by a Canadian citizen who was recently turned away after U.S. border guards Googled him and pored over his blog to discover where he lives."


"'One of them, a very sharp guy in fact, started to read every single post on my blog. And it didn't take long until he shocked me: 'So you live in New York, right? That's what you've written in your [blog].'"

"Derakhshan did, in fact, write that he was based out of New York—mostly because it sounded "sexier" than saying he was based out of Toronto, he said.

"But between his offhand blog comment and the fact that he was carrying a Newsweek magazine sent to him at a New York address, the guards found grounds to refuse his entry into the United States, for at least the next six months."


Oh, well! Be careful what fibs you tell on a blog. They may come back to bite you in the butt.

What I found intriguing is that the border guards Google'd him and read his blog. Who knew our guys were so computer literate?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

San Francisco -- fifth most literate city in the US of A

USA Today's new survey shows San Francisco as the nation's fifth most literate city behind Seattle, Minneapolis, Washington, DC, and Atlanta.

"America's Most Literate Cities 2005, a ranking based on the culture and resources for reading in the 69 largest U.S. cities, aims to rate cities not on whether their citizens can read, but whether they do."

The study is posted online.

[via slushpile.net]

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Manresa and Kinch in Northside Magazine

Earlier this month a friend and I were talking -- well, e-mailing -- about the cover article in Northside magazine on Manresa and David Kinch. At the time, I'd only made a brief mention of it on the blog because I couldn't find any Web site for the magazine.

A wee bit ago today, someone made a comment on the blog entry from earlier this month to give me a heads up that the Kinch review was up at the Northside site.

Rise and Shine: Innovative chef David Kinch of Manresa is one of the culinary world’s brightest stars

The friend had asked back when, "Tell me what you thought of the story." I told him,

I liked the story. I was surprised by the length allotted for it. No little short in and out there. The piece was long enough to give some juice, the vibe. Very unpuffy and thorough, I thought. Not fawning.

The segment with David arranging food shots for the photographer was well done. I liked the bit about Esteban's horse eating the swopped out apples.

We buy tomatoes from Dirty Girl at the Ferry Building some Saturdays and we've had dinner in the restaurant, so there were many points of recognition. The writeup felt very solid.

The description of dinner made me famished.

I haven't eaten yet. his nibs is off to the opera, having bought a $10 standing room ticket this afternoon while we were downtown. (He has a far greater passion for opera than I do and the acoustics in the standing room area are terrific.)

He had a bowl of leftover ginger squash soup and some sourdough bread before he took off. I'm still mulling over what I want.

Whatever I wind up with will =not= be dinner at Manresa, alas.

About the only silver lining I can see for the two aborted escrows on the mid-century home in the bucolic village nestled in the verdant foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains is that when we decide to eat at Manresa, we need only bring a couple sleeping bags and sleepover in the guest house instead of driving fifty-plus miles home.

Maybe we should make reservations while we still have a place to lay our weary heads within a short distance of Manresa?

The Current Photo Friday Challenge: Yellow


The current Photo Friday challenge is 'yellow.' Posted by Picasa

Sunrise 6:44 a.m.

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The weather's clear. The Sun is Shining.

Yesterday was a beautiful day.

Today looks to be so as well.

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The view of Berkeley just before lunch yesterday.

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The view toward Oakland -- same time frame.

We walked over to Jack Falstaff last night for a winemaker dinner. 2.2 miles each way. 40 min. there. 50 min. back. I'd bundled up a bit as the temps were in the mid-high 40s.

Trudging back up the Filbert Steps from Sansome after dinner, eleven thirty, halfway up the 232 (or whatever it is) steps, warm, jacket slung over my arm, I heard something fall over the railing. Uh. Oh. I'd forgotten my phone was in my jacket pocket! Now it was somewhere in the garden, under the stairs.

I stayed in place so we would remember exactly where the phone launched, while his nibs continued on home and came back with a flashlight. I climbed over the railing and into the garden area with the flashlight while his nibs called the phone, which, of course, wouldn't ring because I'd set it to vibrate so we wouldn't disturb other people at dinner if it rang.

Luckily, the faceplate lit up with the incoming call and we spotted the glow underneath the steps near where I was looking. I reached for it, grabbed it, put it up on the stairs. His nibs tucked it in his pocket for safekeeping while I pulled myself up onto the stair supports and swung back over the railing and onto the stairs.

Such excitement.

Good thing I'm still flexible enough to hoist myself over railings.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Meet Riley

My parents' youngest grandchild with her family's new kitten, Riley.

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Riley wasn't standing still for no picture-taking yesterday, so my young dragon pinned him down for a split second for me.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Weather reports from the left and right coasts

We've been having a balmy November, temps in the high 60s, sunshine, blue skies. That's about to change, as one look at today's weather will tell you. Highs in the upper 50s to mid 60s. West winds 5 to 15 mph. Intermittent clouds today with areas of fog in the morning are to give way to showers on Friday. Just as well, without the wind and rain, the air hasn't been as crisp and clean as it will be on Saturday.

Saturday's supposed to be lovely, with the rain returning Sunday-Monday.

Over on the right coast, our younger guy is sharing Thanksgiving dinner with my uncle's family. The younger guy sent this phone-photo of my cousin's house, where the festivities have already begun.

I called to thank him and we talked about the weather. He reports light snow in Boston. My cousin's place is north of Boston and there are a couple inches of snow on the ground already.

I told him that there was no snow on the ground here. In fact, the wisteria is having its fall blooming cycle.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Approaching Ada Lovelace's 190th bday ...

I would like to draw your attention to this extremely cool thing from Things You Never Knew Existed-- and other items you can't POSSIBLY live without!.

Full Color Photo Throw Packet Web Exclusive!
Item No: 63035
Price: $109.98

We'll use your color photo (up to 8" x 10") to create a full color custom throw! This throw is a memorable gift for parents, grandparents, anniversary, bridal shower, pet lover, etc. The design is actually jacquard woven right into the 100% cotton tapestry throw--not screen printed--for a soft, lush feel and unbelievable reproduction of your cherished photograph. Machine washable. 70" x 54". We send you a packet with an order form and instructions which you send to the production facility, along with a clear photo. Your original photo and throw will be returned to you from the production facility in 4-6 weeks. No photos to The Lighter Side®, please. We cannot reproduce copyrighted photos or professional studio portraits. Your packet should reach the production facility by December 13 to insure Christmas delivery.

Is that cool or what?

Maybe I should get a throw with Lovelace's portrait woven in.

Or is that incredibly geeky?

DARE you?

DARE (The Dictionary of American Regional English) is put together by folks at University of Wisconsin, Madison. DARE needs your help.

DARE has a list of phrases on site and they'd like to know if you're familiar with any of them.

Latest questions include
  • Do you call the strip of grass and trees between the sidewalk and the curb boulevard, curb line, grass plot, parking (strip), parkway, terrace, or tree lawn, or do you have another term for it? Please e-mail Senior Editor Luanne von Schneidemesser [...]

  • The main responses to our question "Playground equipment with a long board for two children to sit on and go up and down in turn." were teeter-totter and seesaw. We also received variant forms of the former, such as teeter-tot, teeter-tooter, tee-totter, teeter(ing) board, tinter board, and just teeter, among others. If you use a variant form, could you tell us what the form is and how you pronounce it? Specifically, some of our examples of teeter-tooter may be typos for teeter-totter, but others appear to be legitimate. Or do you say ridy horse? We also need the standard info as well: your gender and age, where you learned the term (geographically), and where you grew up and have lived. Thanks.

  • And if you are familiar with any of the words or expressions below, please let us know. It is most helpful if you can give an example or examples of how it is (or was) used, and as much detail as possible about when, where (geographically speaking), and by whom (including gender and age of person). Other data, such as references to written works where the word appears, are very welcome, too, but please note that if it can be found with a Google search on the Web we have probably already seen it. E-mail Editor George Goebel your information (please put "NADS queries" in the subject line). Thank you.

Last week or so, I sent Goebel a note re the request for information on

make strange—"To act shy"; also, often with of, "to act surprised (at), feign ignorance (of)." For the first sense we have (relatively) recent evidence from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Canada, but we suspect it is more widespread. For the second there is plenty of early evidence, but little from the last century; we would like to know if it is still or was recently in use. If you know it, please give examples of use.

I told him that I didn't know "make strange," but ... in early 1982, when I was visiting relatives in New Hampshire with my seven-month old, my relatives complimented me on my son: "He's not strange at all!"

The phrase was translated for me as "He's not shy with strangers at all" -- six-months or so being the usual age when babies start being aware of "other" and begin being shy with strangers, crying when someone other than Mom, Dad, caregiver picks them up, &c.

Got a note back from Goebel this morning thanking me. Seems they've had two other people (one from NH, one from south-central PA) who attest to this use of "strange" in the sense "shy."

Strange (hah!) thing is, "the latest example in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1763, and we had no idea that it was still in use (except in the phrase "make strange") until we started getting these responses to our query."

Any help you can give the DARE folks would be appreciated. Check out their list of phrases and help them sort out the regionalisms.

So California ...

Crystals facing SE to catch the sun.

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What next? Peacock feathers?

No, that's Marin. Peacock feathers and hot tubs are definitely Marin.

Well, except for the peacock feather my dad gave me after he collected the feathers dropped by the neighborhood peacock a few months ago. That feather is kept in a jade-green vase in the dining room, against a dark aqua wall to show it to its best advantage.

Peacock feathers. Irridescence. Beauty.
Physics. All physics.

A while back, I was down at Yone's getting some replacement beads and picked up two prisms, with hanging threads which I hung in the sunny SE-facing window to catch the morning rays and throw rainbows all over the living room floor.

A few weeks ago, I was in Chinatown hunting down a gift for a five-year-old dragon of my acquaintance. In one of the shops -- I couldn't tell you which one, but if I walked along Grant, I could find it again -- I found some lovely crystals. The clear ones were inexpensive. I bought two for myself. The pink one that I bought for the young dragon cost five times as much, but pink is her favorite color and I knew she'd appreciate a pink jewel that makes rainbows. Dragons love their stash, you know.

I hung the crystals with the prisms in the SE window.

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The cat thinks the rainbows are small, colorful creatures that somehow always manage to slip out of her grasp at the last minute.

Rainbows are magical things.
As are crystals.

"Magic? It's all in Physics, all in Physics! Dear me, what do they teach them in the schools nowadays?" [riff off Professor Digory Kirke, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis]

What is it about sunrises?

I woke up a bit before 6 a.m.. The day's free. There was no reason to get out of bed for another two hours, if then. I padded downstairs two levels and found my camera, which I left on the dining table yesterday, and padded back upstairs. I pulled on black Levis and a warm shirt and opened the double doors to the deck. An hour or so later I had sixty or seventy photographs of the Bay as night becomes day, the sky to the east lightening before the rising sun turned everything brilliant reds and purples and golds.

Later, at my computer, I downloaded the camera, tossed about twenty photographs that were too blurred or too blah, keeping forty-five photographs of yet another sunrise, to add to my other collections of photographs of yet another sunrise.

What is it about sunrises?

What is it about that part of day when most of the world (obviously not all when you watch the traffic on the bridge, the ferries and working boats on the bay, and the airliners taking off for parts unknown) is still sleeping or, if awake, just barely so, reaching for that first cup of coffee.

The air is cool. The city pulses. Seagulls cry and circle overhead. The parrots are elsewhere, wherever it is they tuck in for the night. Slug-a-beds.

I watch and take photographs as the city awakes. Buses trundle up and down Battery and Sansome, dropping people off at work. The Embarcadero is busy with traffic and the trolleys but not as busy as it will be by eight.

Slowly, the tempo picks up. The traffic on the bridge thickens. A ship that had been anchored south of the bridge begins to move with a tugboat trailing behind, heading toward Oakland. Coming from Oakland and heading toward the Gate and open water is another ship. Freeing up a berth in Oakland for the ship that's heading in?

A flock of birds heads north over the waters. Every few minutes a plane takes off from SFO, also heading north, heading somewhere. Where? I want to go there, wherever it is.

Where did I get my wanderlust?

A traffic helicopter flies overhead toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Then, a few minutes later, comes back again. Mission accomplished. Traffic report made.

I'm enamored of sunrises, of day beginnings, of the anything is possible, it's a brand new day feeling that wells up as the predawn quiet gives way to the rising sun.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Jane Austen and other famous authors violate what everyone learned in their English class

A site devoted to the singular "they"/"their"/"them"/"themselves."

Jane Austen did it!

Cliché Finder

Cliché Finder

"Have you been searching for just the right cliché to use? Are you searching for a cliché using the word "cat" or "day" but haven't been able to come up with one? Just enter any words in the form below, and this search engine will return any clichés which use that phrase...

Over 3,300 clichés indexed!

  • What exactly is a cliché? See my definition
  • Do you know of any clichés not listed here?
    Add some to the list!
  • Or, do you want to see some random clichés?
    See Ten Random Clichés!"

Here are Ten clichés, random chosen from our list of 2,000+ clichés...

there is a thin line between love and hate
the truth will out
Hungry like the wolf
throw light on
mad as a hatter
stewed to the gills
make ends meet
river of tears
you burn my shit
lions and tigers and bears, oh my

OK. Fine. I don't know why I'd go off searching for clichés to use, but this is an entertaining (so call me easily amused) site.

[CONTEST NO-FEE] Toasted Cheese's Dead of Winter writing contest

from Toasted Cheese's Dead of Winter writing contest submission/rules

Dead of Winter is a fiction contest (any genre) for stories with supernatural elements or themes. Ideally, stories should be set in autumn or winter. The most original, most haunting stories will be chosen for publication.

Stories submitted to the 5th Annual Dead of Winter contest (December 2005) should follow the theme: "The souvenirs/trophies of a returned soldier."*

The word limit is 3900 words.

Deadline for submission is December 21, 2005. E-mail entries to dow2005[at]toasted-cheese.com. Your subject line must read: "Dead of Winter Contest Entry." Entries must adhere to Toasted Cheese's regular fiction submission guidelines and to the chosen theme.


  • Your main character and/or narrator need not be the soldier him/herself.
  • The souvenirs do not necessarily need to be from war; they could be from a tour of duty, for example.
  • The "souvenirs" should be tangible items (ex: a wound would not be considered a souvenir but the shrapnel would).
  • Ideally we would like you to introduce the supernatural elements of your story via the souvenir(s). Be as creative as possible in using the theme—we love that!"

First, second and third prize entries will be published in Toasted Cheese, March 2006. Prizes: Amazon gift certs. 1st-$20, 2d-$15, 3rd-$10 (*Toasted Cheese reserves the right to not award second and third place if the quality of the entries does not meet the journal's standards.)

[hattip to Debbie Ohi/inkygirl -- my boss at the late, lamented inkspot.com]

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Another Embarcadero Center Holiday Lights click

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This click was made with "indoor party" mode which gives you a flash-flash-flaaaash sort of precursor to the actual photo.

No Photoshop-Picasa-other-massaging.

Works good with night shots of Embarcadero Center lights, eh?

Of course I feel like a dweeb when all the neighbors see me taking night-time pictures with flash-flash-flaaaash.

A little bit blurry, though. More work to be done!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Chestnuts roasting on the open fire ...

Crappy photo. Picasa'd to make it look halfway reasonable.

When the camera is set for a night landscape, I really need a tripod and a remote trigger because even propping the camera on or against something doesn't make it not jiggle when I take the picture, what with the slower shutter speed and all.

This shot was taken without "night landscape" and turned out less intense than it should have. Drat. So I cranked up the contrast and here we go.

Well, I have another month or so to get it right.

The Embarcadero Center turned on the holiday trim lights today. Did I mention?

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This morning's sunrise. 6:42 a.m.

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He's just not that into you. ...

Poor Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom. She's been getting such flak lately for her New York state of mind, her questionable status as soon-to-be-ex-wife of Gav, her flight out to play hostess with the mostess when HRH and HH were in town.

Now this, and this, and even this. She must be sobbing in her hankie about it all.

"Is that a younger version of you?"

Harry asked, "Is that a younger version of you?" (meaning that photo up there to the right) and I had to fess up that it was.

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I'm usually the person behind the camera, you see, and when someone actually does manage to click a photo of me, it's seldom solo. So, I rummaged through my photo archives and found a more current photo and cropped it to preserve his nibs' mysteriousness. My hair's pulled back because the day was drizzly and windy. The picture was taken last June with the Eiffel Tower as background, although you can't tell because le tour is to the left, behind his nibs, and it got cropped out as well.

Ta dah! Sal as she was in June. Some day I'll get a current photo I like and replace the one I use up there. Until then, this one will have to do.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

BART to Berkeley and what I found there

Hadn't seen Don May in over a year. Our plans to meet up in January had a spanner thrown in them. Since then, our schedules didn't connect. We asked him and Bill over here, but Don couldn't make it just yet and couldn't for at minimum a couple weeks or so, and then you get into the holidays ...

So, today his nibs and I walked down to the Embarcadero Center BART station and hopped a train to the North Berkeley station, walked up to Don's place and schmoozed for a long while before heading out to Café de la Paz on Shattuck for lunch.

Some more chat in the backyard after lunch. Attempts to take piccies of Calvin and Sonja. Laughter. Good times. BART back to San Francisco and a walk home.

Maybe a bit over an hour each way, including the walk to/fro the BART station.

Why don't we do this more often?


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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Little Miss Muffet

Taken yesterday at the cozy cottage in the quaint, verdant village, nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Untouched by Photoshop or Picasa. ...

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Sunset Monday, 14 Nov 2005

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Another tequila sunrise

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Sunrise yesterday. The weather has been clear and balmy. Too bad HRHPC and HHCDofwhateveritis missed the lovely weather when they passed through last week.

I've decided to stash more pics on flickr. Only drawback there is that the photos are stored in a more compact size and I like the fullsize all-over-your-screen look.

Monday, November 14, 2005

More pics with the new camera.

UV liked this one, posted earlier:

and asked, What a gorgeous shot! Did you "do" anything to it?

That's "as taken." Must be the new camera! I use Picasa for the quick "straighten that horizon" work that I sometimes need because of sloppiness or the astigmatism. You can also sharpen, highlight, crank up the saturation, crop, &c.

If you spin through a Picasa "library," you can tell whenever you've done anything because Picasa shows you a quick look at the original and then says, "refining."

I doublechecked and this shot has no "refining" at all.

The camera's a gem. My first digital camera -- purchased June 2004 -- was a simple camera to see if I liked shooting digital. This Nikon CoolPix 5600 is more sophisticated, more pixels, optical zoom in additional to digital zoom, more tools.

A nice feature is that if you're shooting, f'rex, in "sunset" mode, which makes the shutter speed slower than normal and (just suppose) you're cranked up to 3x optical zoom, and your hand jiggers a bit, the camera very politely sez, "Hey, you up screwed that one. It's really blurred. Do you really want me to save it?"

Here's a sunset shot from yesterday. The sun is setting behind me, to the west, and threw some beautiful color on the clouds to the southeast.

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A shot from this morning:

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And the Abe (which you can see anchored to the south of the Bay Bridge in the sunset picture above) left this morning. The sailors had a liberty weekend. (How many had tickets to see the Stones at SBC Park?) Throughout the visit, there was no news, no protests, no nothing. Here's a picture as it left, Yerba Buena to your right. Treasure Island and the Admin Building to the left. Berkeley (Hi, Harry! Hi, Don!) in the background.

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We were at a neighbor's Canadian (i.e. "for no good reason with insufficient notice") party on Saturday. Despite the advice of another neighbor (former bartender) to "drink only wine, beer, brown, clear," I had far too many pale green minty shots of something and spent yesterday wishing I hadn't.

At the neighbor party, I met a guy who is a neighbor from the other side of Coit Tower. Mikkel Aaland is a photographer-type who writes about digital photography. We'd been talking about my old camera dying and the search for the new one.

"Which camera?" (meaning the old one) he asked.

"A no-name camera, really."

"Which one?"

"A Concord."

"Oh. So, what did you buy?"

"A Nikon."



"Good camera."

Yay. Always nice to have your choices affirmed by someone who knows more than you do.

UV sed, New cameras are always so much fun.