: views from the Hill

Thursday, November 30, 2006

[BLOG] dooce

I have a zillion feeds stashed away with my bloglines.

Don't believe me? Look!

I roam around looking at things. Reading blogs I like. Clicking through on links on blogs I like. I find an interesting and/or quirky and/or beautiful and/or useful blog and I add its feed to my bloglines list and either follow the blog religiously in a not-quite-stalking way for days and weeks or I read it that day and then forget about it, leaving it sit there on the bloglines list until one day I'm drinking my second mug of espresso and clicking around and go, gee. ... I don't remember why I saved a link to ... what's dooce anyway?

This is dooce -- a quirky, entertaining, refreshing, funny, intriguing, interesting blog outta Salt Lake City, Utah, by dooce AKA Heather B. Armstrong, formerly known as Heather B. Hamilton, wife, mother, no longer a practicing LDS. dooce is notorious or at least 15-minutes-of-fame famous for being fired from her job for blogging about her work, back when. (Her advice? My advice to you is BE YE NOT SO STUPID. Never write about work on the internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT WORK ON THE INTERNET.)


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Book jones.

I have a book jones. Have I ever mentioned?

Arleen Writes about her search for entertainment, for a book, not a romance, no history, not now and how she went to the store looking for entertainment and came back with "a vegetarian cookbook, and a how to cook tofu and soy products cookbook." I responded:

I try to explain to people why I have these piles and cases and boxes of books that I haven’t read and yet … and yet I stop off at the bookstore and pick up another book.

I picked up a copy of Stephen King’s latest at Costco on Monday. Ordered $50 worth of books from Powell's over the weekend, finishing off the $100 gift certificate I won back when. $50 gets you free shipping! (Ordered Domenic Stansberry THE LAST DAYS OF IL DUCE and CHASING THE DRAGON, Bradbury THE CAT'S PAJAMAS and BRADBURY STORIES: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales) This morning I ordered another $25 worth of books (free shipping!) from Amazon (Lukeman's THE PLOT THICKENS and Michael Collins DEATH OF A WRITER). … I have a backlog of books I want to buy, to read.

Someone somewhere within the last day or so explained it all. …

Excerpt from BLIND SUBMISSION by Debra Ginsberg. I can relate in several ways to the book-ish protagonist:

But reading was only part of the thrill that a book represented. I got a dizzy pleasure from the weight and feel of a new book in my hand, a sensual delight from the smell and crispness of the pages. I loved the smoothness and bright colors of their jackets. For me, a stacked, unread pyramid of books was one of the sexiest architectural designs there was. Because what I loved most about books was their promise, the anticipation of what lay between the covers, waiting to be found.

My discussion with Arleen continued in her comments tail. She mentioned King's EYES OF THE DRAGON (1987) and says she wrote an essay about libraries that sounds a bit like the Ginsberg bit I'd quoted.

I replied:

I once wrote an essay about how I felt about the library that sounded very similar to the bit you quoted, Sal. I can definitely relate.

I adore libraries. I love the stacks. I love the atmosphere. I love the variety. I love feeling like there is all this knowledge and culture and stories galore right here for the taking!

Folks I know with less of a book jones than I have always wonder why I don't use my libraries more and save the expense (even if it is usually a used-book/Goodwill expense) of buying books. But … well … if I don't have staff privileges that include forgiveness of fines, if I'm just Joan Public, I run up horrendous overdue charges at libraries. I check out books and then have them sitting around waiting forever to be read.
[Auntie K can testify to this ...] Or I forget I have a book. Or I can't find it when it's time to return it.

I love my stashes of books because — as the protagonist in BLIND SUBMISSION says — of the potential, the promise, the anticipation. I also figure if I ever rip an Achilles tendon and am laid up for weeks I'll have all sorts of different things to read, depending on my mood.

I think I may have EYES OF THE DRAGON on the shelf somewhere. I'll have to look for it.

And read it. :-)

Bookhuggers Anonymous, my name is Sal. I have a book jones.

I have thousands and thousands of books and nowhere to put them. When we moved, we had to find a separate location to keep my books because I couldn't give them up but we couldn't possibly keep them in our new home. We had no room.

Even with the spare space, I don't have enough room on the shelves I have space for to have all the books out. Many, many, many of the books are in boxes. Some of the boxes are adequately labeled: SOFTWARE DESIGN or REF or SFF/T or CKBKS (actually, not too many SFF or CKBKS are in boxes because most of those I have put on shelves). The boxes that are a problem are the ones labeled NFIC or MISC or VERY MISC. My job, and the job I keep putting off day-to-day week-to-week, is to sort those MISC and VERY MISC boxes into something more definitive so that I can say, "Oh, look. Yes. I do have three copies of AMO, AMAS, AMAT & MORE. I can give two of those to the Friends of the Library for their bookshop."

We have not had all our books in one place for years. The potential for winding up with multiple copies (one shelved here, one shelved there) is great. I am notorious for giving friends copies of books, saying, "I found a duplicate on my shelves and thought you might like it."

I hate to admit how many different dictionaries and thesauri I've come across while unloading (and I'm not through yet) the boxes labeled REF. Deciding to let go of a duplicate Roget's Thesaurus is relatively simple, especially if it's a duplicate paperback version, but what if the thesaurus is not Roget's and is not set out the same and is older, much older ...

When my two-years-older brother died five years ago, he divvied up his cash assets and his house between the three surviving sibs, with my younger sibs getting more of the $$$ and me getting fewer $$$ but getting his "stuff" and books (and the chore of clearing out his house for sale). I boxed all his books up and stashed them in storage and then moved them to our book space here when we moved.

His thousands of books and my thousands of books were well-matched. Our SFF collections matched up eerily, the Asimovs, the Poul Andersons, the Ursula K LeGuins. But then there were authors I had no titles for and Case had eight, ten titles written by SFF authors I'd never heard of. He had Analog going back for decades and from there back on microfiche (two microfiche readers, one in case the other didn't work!) going back to the very beginning of publication.

I had tons of titles he didn't. He didn't care much about crafting things, art, child care subjects, gardening, homemaking, writing or cooking. A BOSTON COOKING SCHOOL COOKBOOK and a BETTY CROCKER were what he depended on. I have probably forty or more shelves of cookbooks and boxes and boxes of "community" cookbooks, advertisers' cookbooks, 110 Ways To Make Rolls, 150 Ways To Cook Potatoes, small pamphlet cookbooks and more.

He certainly didn't care about Gloria Steinem. Well, he didn't have her books. No Wendy Wasserstein. No Ephrons. He didn't have much biography or biology or travel. He had far more physics books than I had, more computer hardware and tech. My computer books were usually software-related, but that made sense. He was the firmware designer and I was the software designer.

We both had copies of FIVE ACRES AND INDEPENDENCE. We both had living off the land books. He had a pamphlet on how to make C4 in your sink. (Why, I don't know. He had a wide ranging curiosity and probably thought the pamphlet was interesting. ...) I had fifty or more Christmas crafts books. In some areas our interests were not in synch and in others, our nonfiction collections were eerily complementary: I had my thick Morrison and Boyd. He had an equally thick inorganic chemistry tome.

I need to sort through all the books. Get rid of the duplicates. Get rid of the spy thrillers I'm not so keen on. Keep the stuff I would some day read. Keep the Walter Jon Williams book Case lent me back when, that I happened to have with me when I bumped into WJW and had him sign ... as a surprise for Case.

There's been a discussion over on misc.writing of Thackeray's VANITY FAIR, which I've never read. I know I have multiple copies ... somewhere.

I tried reading a copy online and bleh. won't work for me. I need to find one of my copies.

Do I have a HARVARD CLASSICS SHELF OF FICTION? I know I have the original 50v. set of HARVARD CLASSICS. VF is in the SHELF OF FICTION.

I probably have a Modern Library edition.

I wouldn't be surprised if I had something older.

I wouldn't be surprised if I had a paperback.

But where? In one of the boxes marked FIC?

Or in one of the boxes marked CLASSICS?

Or maybe in one of the boxes marked MISC or VERY MISC or in a box that's not marked at all or in a box that got dropped and shuffled so the box is labeled BIOL but has a copy of VF inside?

Book jones. Have I mentioned I have a book jones? The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sunday, November 26, 2006

[WR] Preditors & Editors' Truly Useful Site Award

Received an e-mail yesterday telling me that Preditors & Editors selected Internet-Resources.com for its Truly Useful Site Award for November 2006.



Thanksgiving Day walkaround

Thanksgiving Day walkaround - a photo tour of the Piers, the newly-reopened Piers 1 1/2, 3 and 5.

The mater familias couldn't make it to a Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, so we had our Towse Thanksgiving feast yesterday.

Near everyone was there except for our youngest and his big sister, who lives outside Chicago, and her family. We heard from both of them though, so that was cool.

The youngest had Thanksgiving with my New England relatives up in the back of beyond at my cousin's home, a restored school house. He got back to Boston in time for his first professional standup experience Friday night. The gig was at the Boston comedy club where his sketch comedy troupe has had the stage (with friends and fellow comics) on Friday nights since last May. ("Well, how did it go?" "It went pretty good. ..." "No one pulled you offstage with a hook?" "Well, no. We are running the show, after all.")

My younger brother and his family hosted our Thanksgiving yesterday. YB brined a 24 1/2 pound turkey before baking and carved up a very juicy, tasty bunch o' turkey. (He'd had a practice run with a sixteen pound turkey on Thanksgiving Day. ...) Stuffing. Delish. Ym. Pies. Pumpkin and apple. Birthday cake. Befores. Afters. Whipped cream in my coffee.

Added:We brought the peanut butter-stuffed celery. Yes, I know. We also brought a mixed green salad with the usual mesclun mix you can find pre-mixed. Add toasted pine nuts, tomatoes and a vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, spices of a secret sort, sesame oil. We also brought the (this year not-so) traditional yam/sweet potato dish. This year it was a smashed yam/sweet potato dish made with mashed yam/sweet potatoes, brown sugar, coconut milk, eggs, fresh grated ginger, powdered ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cardamom. We pre-baked the dish and then reheated it at YB, after topping with brown sugar and crunched macadamia nuts. I did like it.

A couple days earlier, on Thanksgiving Day, while YB and his family were feasting on their first turkey, his nibs and I went for a walk down by the bay's edge. Piers 1 1/2, 3 and 5 had reopened the day before, Wednesday, after thirty months of construction -- extensive rehabbing, retrofitting and renovation. Part of the work was the creation of public walking paths along the bay's edge on the eastern edge of the piers.

We'd had a preview of the rehabbed piers at a SPUR event earlier this year, but there were lots of areas blocked off then because construction was still in progress. I wanted to see how they'd turned out. At the SPUR event we got to see inside the buildings but could not wander around outside much. Thursday we could wander around outside but could just peer in the windows, where construction is still going on.

Click on the thumbnail for the gallery.

The bayside walk comes with hanging flower baskets and benches for sitting. Embedded in the railings are brass plaques with San Francisco-related quotations or historical nuggets.

The piers looked great even though they are not quite done. The interiors of the buildings need more work as well. Worth the wait. Good job to all.

Oh, yes, mustn't forget. Ever seen a squabble of wild parrots?

Red sky at morning ...

The day's grey with splatterings and splashings of rain. The chimes sing in the breeze.

I should've known we wouldn't have another sun shiny day like we've been having for the past days. ... the sunrise was glorious.

Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.

... There are white caps on the Bay. The rain whips against the windows.

Click on the thumbnail for the morning shots.

Got out on the deck about 6:30a because I could tell the sunrise would be marvelous. The shots were taken with a Nikon CoolPix 5600. The first thirteen were taken with a tripod, but that hampered the shot taking, so I ditched the tripod. The first twenty-seven shots taken with "scene" set at dusk/dawn. Next five taken with "scene" set at "museum," which means that pressing the "take a picture" button takes a series of pictures at once and then chooses the one with the least jiggle.

The true color of dawn was somewhere between the two variants.

I especially liked this one: Wanderlust.

The day began beautiful and marvelous and continues on despite the white caps, grey skies and drizzle. It's a wonder anyone wants to live here. This ol' city is always so grey and foggy and cold.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No warranties expressed or implied

Today's cheapest single family home in San Francisco ... by far ... so far as I (and Curbed SF) can tell.

Sunny Bayview Heights Fixer Bungalow - $299,000

Click on picture for specifics of sales offer.

1 BR 1 BA, built in 1925. 533 sq ft. Attached garage. (Remember potential buyers: parking is worth a bundle in San Francisco.)

There are some visible copper pipes and some galvanized. 40 amp electrical service.

Lot is 2718 sq ft or ~ 1/20th of an acre.

Property to be sold in "As-Is" condition. No warranties expressed or implied.

You might want to drive by first. Tour the neighborhood. Check out the crime stats.

Write up doesn't mention that there was a police "death report" [PDF file] for the address in March 2005.

California law states that that death will need to be disclosed (any deaths on a property within four three years of sale ... I think San Francisco hasn't extended that window) before the house is sold, but just soze you know up front.

Added: Property is a probate sale, which probably explains the "death report." Check if it concerns you.

... and there's this from 2004:

On October 30, at 5:34 p.m., Bayview officers made a traffic stop on a
vehicle at Oakdale and Ingalls, and as the officer approached the driver he
recognized him as having an active arrest warrant and the driver gunned the
car and took off at a high rate of speed. The vehicle could be seen
driving through numerous stop signs as it fled from the officers, and it
was lost in the area. Moments later, different officers located the
vehicle parked at Jamestown and Gilroy, and then saw the suspect running
from the area. The officers attempted to arrest the suspect, but he took a
fighting stance and resisted their efforts. The suspect was eventually
arrested and told the officers he had been running because he thought that
he was wanted for having just "hit (his) old lady." The suspect was booked
for his outstanding warrant and new charges of flight from an officer,
reckless driving, probation violation, and resisting arrest. The suspect,
living on the 200 block of Harbor Road, is a well known Bayview drug
dealer, and had over $1,100.00 in currency on his person. The currency was
booked for a follow-up investigation by our Narcotics Detail (041 242 463).

Jamestown and Gilroy is like right there.

Want to know what goes on in the Bayview police division? Go here and read the site. Be sure to check out the community newsletters. (They're a bit behind with getting them up on the Web.)

$300K for a single family dwelling in this city is amazing.

This is a city where the median price for an existing single family home was $840K in October 2006. Average price was $1,160,860.


Median/average in District 10, where the house on Gilroy is located, were $707,500 and $689,849, respectively as of October 2006.

[nod of thanks for the heads up to Curbed SF for this blog entry]

Monday, November 20, 2006

[URL] NNDB: Tracking the entire world

NNDB: Tracking the entire world:

What is NNDB?

NNDB is an intelligence aggregator that tracks the activities of people we have determined to be noteworthy, both living and dead. Superficially, it seems much like a 'Who's Who' where a noted person's curriculum vitae is available (the usual information such as date of birth, a biography, and other essential facts.)

But it mostly exists to document the connections between people, many of which are not always obvious. A person's otherwise inexplicable behavior is often understood by examining the crowd that person has been associating with.

Eventually, we will have synopses and analyses of creative works by the people in the database, including their books, films, and recordings.

Found this while I was helping someone answer a question about a Michael Korda quote. She had two Michael Kordas on her radar: one born in 1919 "who was a famous publisher" and one born in 1933 "a novelist." Which Michael Korda said those words?

Well, the Michael Korda I knew of was the former Editor-in-Chief, Simon & Schuster, who retired last year at age 72. Korda has also written fiction and non-fiction, which I knew because of titles I handled back in the day when I was worrying about library book stock.

I gave her some links and told her I thought her quote was from Michael Korda (1933- ) and, specifically, more than likely from a book he'd written titled SUCCESS! How Every Man and Woman Can Achieve It (1977).

I went off wandering trying to find this other Michael Korda who also had something to do with publishing.

Never found him, but I did find NNDB, which seems from a quick trial run to be a useful tool.

The quote she was trying to pin down?

Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility. In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have is the ability to take responsibility.

The fog

The fog lumbers in on giant St. Bernard paws.

Container ships sound their horns as they maneuver slowly through the water. Basso profondo.

Watch out. 'ware. I can't see you. I'm coming through.

A long echoing blast sounds from the other side of the bay.

Warning. I'm here and moving. Here I am again. Warning.

A third ship sounds. A fourth.

I can see the piers through the fog and can just barely see a ship passing close to the piers. I can just see the end of the bridge as it comes into downtown. Can't see the rest of the bay, the islands.

The bulk of our fog usually turns north toward Vallejo, so the fog in the channels near Alcatraz on the way into and out of the Golden Gate must be really dense.

Time for a walk.

[BLOG] separated by a common language

separated by a common language - Observations on British and American English by an American linguist in the UK

[URL] Quotiki - Search and Share Your Favorite Quotations


Be interesting to see, as Quotiki evolves, whether general misinformation about quotations and attributions gets picked up as gospel.

Case in point: a recent discussion on ADS-L discussing "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

Oft times attributed to Groucho Marx, this quote is now attributed to Tony Oettinger, a professor with interests in computational linguistics with a 1966 cite.

The gang of word huggers on the ADS-L list are merrily trying to antedate the quote and/or confirm it with Oettinger.

[snagged from Cygnoir's del.icio.us list.]

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ian Rankin on Thomas Pynchon

Enjoy. ... [click here]

Subterranean #4 - Read it for free!

Folks over at Subterranean Press tell me that Subterranean #4 is now available for free download. (Or you can buy a hardcopy for $6.)

Guest edited by John Scalzi, #4 is devoted to science fiction clich├ęs.

Read what Scalzi has to say about it here.

#4 downloads as a PDF file. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader, download a FREE! Reader here.

[PAY MKT] Clarkesworld Magazine [SFF&H]

Submission guidelines for Clarkesworld Magazine

Clarkesworld Magazine is an online venue and chapbook series for short works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Each month, Clarkesworld will publish two pieces of fiction, one from a prominent author with one or more books available for sale on the Clarkesworld Books website, and one chosen from the rolling open call for submissions below. Anyone who has not been solicited and is not currently under consideration for the "prominent author" slot may submit.

PAYS: $0.10/wd
Max word count: 4K
Buys: First World Electronic rights, first print rights for chapbooks and non-exclusive anthology rights
E-sub only.

Though no particular setting, theme, or plot is anathema to us, the following are likely hard sells:
  • stories in which a milquetoast civilian government is depicted as the sole obstacle to either catching some depraved criminal or to an uncomplicated military victory
  • stories in which the words "thou" or "thine" appear
  • talking cats
  • talking swords
  • [...]

[via Margaret McGaffey Fisk and Vision Magazine]

Friday, November 17, 2006

[WR] Updated the "A Writer's Life" section of internet resources for writers

Updated the "A Writer's Life" section of internet resources for writers.

Subsections include Book Buying · Chocolate · Creativity Nudges · Games & Distractions · Gifts · Insurance · Journal Keeping · Pens · Time Management & Procrastination · Writer's Block · Writers' Supplies · Writing Exercises

The Library Shop at The New York Public Library

I'm updating my collection of links for writers and click clicking through every link I have.

Clicked on the link to The Library Shop at The New York Public Library

Isn't this cool?

This is pretty cool too.

Nosh and wine at Bonhams & Butterfields

We were down on San Bruno Avenue last night for some nosh and wine and a preview look at the goodies going on sale at the Bonhams & Butterfields' Fall 2006 Fine Asian Works of Art auction.

Interesting collection of stuffs -- new stuff, old stuff, really old stuff, stuff that's going for such extraordinary amounts you just have to go, huh?

Dessa Goddard gave her spiel about the coolest objects up for bid and gave a pitch for the modern paintings that have such high estimates.

(We noted that she'd also made sure that this time one of the high-estimate, breakable items not only was on a pedestal, encased in Plexiglas, but also was surrounded by a cordon so no one would plop themselves and their glass of wine down anywhere close enough to bump the pedestal.)

Loved the story behind that vase:

Provenance: Ashley Park House, Lough Ourna, Tipperary, Ireland

Built in 1770 by John Head, this famous 18th century home with its magnificent gardens was first recorded in Taylor & Skinner, Maps and Roads of Ireland, in 1777. Sold to George Atkinson in 1824, the family enlarged the gardens, added a north wing and the Chinese Reading room. The house remained in the family until it was sold to the present owner's family in 1983. This vase was found among the effects in storage.

"Found among the effects in storage." So, was it found in the Atkinson family's storage shed where they stashed everything as they were moving out or did they leave it behind?

My favorite lot was this one.

Apparently someone down in Florida had it sitting outside in their garden for years until a small bird told B&B that they might be able to talk the owners into selling it.

I love this lot.

Sweetie pie, I said to his nibs. Wouldn't that just be perfect to have in the garden area down by the walk? Everyone walking by could enjoy it. I'd enjoy it. I'd do more than enjoy it, I'd love it.

(I can dream can't I?)

He played along, but turns out that even if he didn't have problems with the price it'll go for once the bidding starts, there are issues with the weight (est. 800 lbs), the size (5'7" tall, about 4' deep and 5' wide), the installation construction needed (excavation, concrete pad, retaining walls to keep the hill from slipping down on it) and the high probability eventually of either theft or graffiti, being as it would be on the public walk.

I think he's being extraordinarily growly and grumpy.

Let me dream a little, will you? It would be perfect for the spot I already have picked out.

The sale is Monday. The next Lotto drawing is tomorrow. I'm sure if I win the Lotto, he'll change his mind. ...

Anorexia kills

The papers carried news today that Brazilian fashion model Ana Carlina Reston, 21, died Tuesday of complications (a "generalized infection") related to anorexia.

Articles about Reston's death are mentioning her last BMI (13.5).

Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos collapsed and died in August as she walked off the catwalk at a fashion show. She died of heart failure caused by her efforts to skinny down after she was told she could become a top model if she did so. Ramos reportedly ate only lettuce and drank only Diet Coke for the three months preceding her death. In reaction to Ramos' death and to complaints from women's organizations and medical sources, Spain barred uber skinny models from their top fashion show last September.

The cutoff BMI for the Spanish show was 18, or the equivalent of 119 pounds on a 5'8" model. (A BMI under 18.5 is considered underweight.) When she died, Reston was 5'8" and weighed less than ninety pounds.

The Reston articles usually ran a snap of Reston in her heyday.

Folks, this isn't what an anorexic looks like.

Reston believed that being thin, losing weight, would make her more attractive, more successful as a model, so she lost weight and more weight and more weight until it killed her.

If you search for articles on Reston, it's easy to find photographs of a beautiful model and harder to find pictures of Reston looking like this or like this.

It is possible to be too thin.

Anorexia kills. It's a treatable disease.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives ...by Michael Moore

Found this because of a mention here.

I don't check in with michaelmoore.com. I would've missed A Liberal's Pledge without Deck's headsup.

Deck, as usual, is far more pessimistic than I am about what can and will and may and may not be accomplished by the new Congress in the two years before the 2008 elections.

I especially liked item five on the pledge:

5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.

But the lights are always pretty.

Some one commented about negative thoughts about the upcoming season and said, "But the lights are always pretty."

The lights are always pretty.

Pick what you like of the season and enjoy those things.

I love the lights, Christmas trees (I am a huge fan of Christmas trees), cookies, Christmas carols, listening to A CHRISTMAS CAROL on Christmas Eve (what a great voice Lionel Barrymore had), hot cocoa with whipped cream or a marshmallow, listening to Sinatra sing of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Jack Frost nipping at your nose, and getting nostalgic even though you grew up in California and the snow's a couple hours away. ...

We had three hours after dropping off the mortgage refinance papers to make it to dinner at Cafe Maritime, three miles or so away. We could've walked home and set out again, but that involved backtracking a mile mas o menos with a steep uphill climb followed by a 2.3 mile walk to dinner anyway. It all just seemed silly, so we moseyed toward our destination, stopping and poking our heads in at places we usually don't poke our heads into.

Walking through Macy's Union Square, as we did tonight, is frisson-making. All those Way to SHOP! people were there shopping for stuff that's unnecessary, unneeded and pricey. Can they afford it? Wouldn't their money be better spent on something more prosaic, more substantial, less frivolous?

How about a donation to the San Francisco Food Bank, peoples?

And then I realize, who am I to tell them how to spend or not spend their money?

Just because I think the prices are too dear at the spanking-new thrift store we popped our heads into on Polk doesn't mean that I should insist others not shop there. ($40 for a thrift store pashmina shawl? helloooo!)

I don't know what your beef with Christmas is, but mine is the egging on of people who really can't afford it to spend far too much on a holiday that, theoretically, should be about something far far from new table linens for the holiday dinner, pricey electronic toys for the children and a holiday party dress that costs more than the family spends on groceries in a month.

Christmas advertising strikes me the way wine/beer/alcohol advertising strikes me. There are many many many people who need to stay away from alcohol and are trying to stay away from alcohol but look ... turn the page in a Wednesday food section and the siren ads murmur, "Buy Towse Estates sauvignon blanc. Drink Towse, it will make your life as sweet as a summer day."

Oh, don't get me started.

It's beginning to look a lot like ...

Tree trimmers in cherry pickers were setting strings of lights on the Union Square tree when we walked through the Square tonight. (We'd walked down to the Financial District, to the bank, to drop off mortgage refinance papers and were on our way to an early dinner (7 p.m.) in Cow Hollow at Cafe Maritime. ...)

Mark your calendars:
Tree lighting. 6 p.m. Friday, November 24, 2006.
All y'alls are invited to stop by.

Union Square tree

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sunrise. Tuesday 14 Nov 2006


Alameda Ferry heading in to the Ferry Building.

The rain's stopped. For now. Posted by Picasa

Sunset. Saturday 11 Nov 2006


Setting sun reflected on buildings across the Bay. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

[PAY MKT] Intergalactic Medicine Show

Submission guidelines for Intergalactic Medicine Show.

We are looking for stories of any length in the genres of science fiction and fantasy.

"Science fiction" includes hard sf, sf adventure, alternate history, near-future, far-future, psi, alien, and any other kind of sf you can think of.

"Fantasy" includes heroic fantasy (based on any culture's mythology), fairy tales, contemporary fantasy, and "horror" in the sense of supernatural suspense (not gory bloodfests, thanks).

Within these genres, we like to see well-developed milieus and believable, engaging characters. We also look for clear, unaffected writing. Asimov, Niven, Tolkien, Yolen, and Hobb are more likely to be our literary exemplars than James Joyce.

We pay 6 cents a word up to $500. Stories can be longer, but the word rate drops with increasing length to always yield a total of $500.

Buys exclusive rights for one year and nonexclusive rights in perpetuity.

Submission via internet using submission form.

[WR] [BLOG] Lit Agent X

Lit Agent X is the not-hardly anonymous Rachel Vater at Lowenstein-Yost Associates.

I say "not-hardly anonymous" because people address her by name on the blog and her LiveJournal profile tells you not only who she is but that she's been an agent at Lowenstein-Yost Associates since January 2006. Prior to this, I worked as an assistant agent with the Donald Maass Literary Agency. Before moving to NYC, I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and worked at Writer's Digest Books for 4 years as an editor.

Vater's blog is informative. She gives a peek into the thought processes of an agent looking for clients and selling her clients' work. She also writes about writing and how to improve yours.

Read. Enjoy.

[WR] Agents

Cleared up broken links and deadwood and added agent/agency information at Towse's Links to Online Guidelines - Markets for Writers - Agents

Sunday, November 12, 2006

[WR] [NO FEE CONTEST] Have a Southwestern mystery? Thinking of writing one? Never had a mystery published?

Rules for the 2007 HILLERMAN MYSTERY COMPETITION sponsored by the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference (THWC) and St. Martin's Press, LLC.

[PDF file. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader, download here.]

DEADLINE 01 July 2007

"It is important that you submit your manuscript as early as possible. Our judges are volunteers ..."

snippets from the rules

1. Open to any writer, regardless of nationality, who has never been the author of a published mystery (as defined ... yadas. note: the definition defines what a mystery is, not what published is) and is not under contract with a publisher for the publication of a mystery.

One manuscript entry per writer.

2. Must be at least 60K wds, written in the English language. yadas.

The story's primary setting is the Southwestern United States, including at least one of the following states: AZ, CO, NV, NM, OK, TX, UT.

5. Prize $10K advance against future royalties.

[via Miss Snark, who snitched it from Sarah]

Goldwater's kin in the news

STRANGE FRUIT: Senator Barry Goldwater's kin try to seal embarrassing letters about them from public view. by Stephan Lemons

[via Romenesko]

After you read the article, click through to the archive of copies of some of the letters Goldwater's kin are striving to keep from public view.

Hoo boy.

Seems this would never have come up (the actual copies being splashed all over the Web) if the kin hadn't convinced the Arizona Historical Foundation to, at least temporarily, seal the Goldwater correspondence they had on file.

Here's hoping that when the Arizona Historical Foundation revisits the decision at their January 9, 2007, board meeting, they'll realize that Goldwater knew precisely what he wanted to do when he gave them those archives and they should honor his wishes and not those of his kin, who are just trying to avoid public embarrassment. Goldwater's letters, you'll note, are all typed, and he kept a copy for his files. He meant those files to be available to researchers, historians and, yes, snoopy news reporters.

This contretemps all began with a Phoenix New Times reaction (Goldwater Uncut, Phoenix New Times, 19 Oct 2006, also by Stephan Lemons) to Goldwater's granddaughter's hagiographic HBO paean to her grandfather.

CC Goldwater hadn't realized until the critical Phoenix New Times article came out that her grandfather's family letters were in the Foundation archives and available to the public. Ooops.

CC's Paka Goldwater's letters to her basically say, in a grandfatherly sort of way, that CC needs to find her own way and stop trading off her relationship to him. And yet, there she is ... with a last name that now matches his (CC Ross legally changed her name to CC Goldwater) and his HBO biofilm on her resume.


[WR] [BLOG] SarahQuibbling

.SarahQuibbling., the blog of a forensic chemist in Baltimore who writes about evidence and crime labs and writing and Baltimore and ... more.

[URL] Dr. Toast's Amazing World of Toast

The Web is a Wonder.

Dr. Toast's Amazing World of Toast: Dr. Toast's Music (of course), Toast Haiku, Toast Recipes, Toasters, and more!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Salute. Armistice Day.

This poem always seemed to me the saddest thing.

With thoughts of family members and others who fought in wars here and over there, within and without. I wish it weren't ever necessary. Love you.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The !Republicans

the Dems don't seem to have a plan other than saying they aren't Repubs.

Actually, the Dems do have plans. The "they don't have a plan" was part and parcel of the Republican campaign package.

San Francisco values are on the table: minimum wage, health care, environment, ethics, immigration, [added] stem cell research, federal judgeships and other appointments, ... clean water and loads of it, bluebirds singing in the sycamore trees, ...

Pombo got skunked on environmental issues and ethics.

Remains to be seen what the Dems will have accomplished, not accomplished, messed up in two years.

For this election, being the !Repubs was all they needed.

The Repubs had convinced their base that the Dems had no plans ("but what are they going to do differently?" "where are their plans?" "what plans?" was the drumbeat) but turns out, alas for the Repubs, that alternative plans weren't a necessity when the Repubs were bolloxing things up so thoroughly.

Interesting read

A friend ... well, maybe an acquaintance -- we don't hang out like we did at one time -- shares an agent with Dan Simmons. From a link on my buddy's site I got a heads up of this short note last April.

The short note is Simmons' Message From Dan which, in April, was a Dan Simmons SF story, a very compelling SF story.

He followed up on the April work in his May/June Message from Dan.

The discussion is very rich.

Dan Simmons' Web site is very rich.

Check out Bill Quick's Web site when you really, really need to know what "the three words" mentioned at the end of Simmons' April Message are. One of Quick's commenters has what I believe is the answer.

Check out the rest of Simmons' site as well.

[WR] Writing Well

I was wandering around.


I wander the Web. No apologies.

Today I found myself (note follows) at a very interesting monthly newsletter from Dan Simmons.

From there I explored and found ... Dan Simmons' notes on Writing Well - part one.

Go here (Installment Five) and from there wander through the "parts" and into the comments and forum.

Friday, November 10, 2006

"2008 is about you"

Before people who voted blue get too worked up about the amazing results of Tuesday's election and start talking about mandates and the turning of the tide, I'd like to paraphrase something Jerry McNerney's campaign manager, A.J. Carillo, told him.

Jerry McNerney, to those who don't know of him, had an upset victory over seven-term GOP Representative Richard Pombo, chair of the House Resources Committee.

"I told Jerry all along that this election wasn't about you," said his campaign manager, A.J. Carrillo. "It's about Richard Pombo. I told him that 2008 is about you."

This election wasn't so much about the Democrats and what a fine plan for the country they have. This election was about Bush and the Republicans. 2008 will be about the Democrats.

Faith of Our Fathers, Holy Faith

La la la.

Why have none of the "separation of Church and State" folks complained about the songs that ring from the bell tower at the Ferry Building at noon and five p.m. every day?

No, the Port Authority bells aren't ringing Onward Christian Soldiers, but they are playing the likes of Faith of Our Fathers.

What's up with that? Are bell tone tapes available for bell tower use only available with religious and quasi-religious songs?

Why is there no uproar, no outrage from the "separation of Church and State" folks?

His nibs tells me that perhaps those who would complain never spent enough time in church to recognize the tunes.

O FAITH of our fathers, living still
In spite of dungeons, fire, and sword:
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene'er we hear that glorious word!
O Faith of our fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

I'm not complaining, mind you. I just find it curious.

Still, ditch the Faith of Our Fathers. I'd prefer some silly little love songs by McCartney or Lennon's Imagine, but those songs are still under copyright and the Port Authority would probably have to pay royalties.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

You GO, Cynthia!

My baby dragon/Leo sister, who is just a few days younger than I am, won an overwhelming vote of "keep doing what you're doing" from the voters back in that verdant, bucolic ville where I used to hang my hat.

Congrats, Cynthia.

You go, girl.

I would've voted for you if I could've ... legally.


There have been impassioned pleas today as there are every election day, urging people to vote, just vote. GET OUT THERE AND VOTE!

(Well, those of you who are registered to vote, of course. ... and remember, you are only supposed to vote ONCE!)

Those pleas grate on my nerves.

Get out and vote if you've taken the time to understand the issues, if you've taken the time to delve into the backgrounds and position statements of the candidates, if you've taken the time to gen up on both sides of the question, if you've taken the time to understand the ramifications of your choices.

Secondary election pet peeve: Why is it such news that every single dad blum seat in the House of Representatives is being voted on today?

... people, that's the way it works! Happens every two years! Without fail!

A big thank you to the poll workers, the poll watchers, the Registrar, the folks who pull the ballot (and the ballot literature) together and print, the postal carriers who deliver the goods, the folks who count the results and those voters who despite whatever reasons why they don't need to vote care enough to get to the polls (or send in their absentee ballots) after thoughtfully considering their choices.

  • JeffK writes of freedom on Election Day.

  • Miss Snark thinks voting is the coolest thing in the world and is grateful to those who made it possible.

... and now we wait ...

Dona Nobis Pacem

Caution: YOU AND ME by Lifehouse is used as background music. If you're surfing the Web while you're in a boring meeting, don't click on the link. (The music can be clicked off once you pull up the site.)

Mimi Lenox, the force behind Blogblast For Peace day in the blogosphere, has written a wonderful take on peace and the world and her grandfather's handmade marbles.

Read: Mimi Writes.......: Dona Nobis Pacem

[via Filip Stoyanov, who posted the link to Mimi's blog in misc.writing]


Naked man arrested for concealed weapon

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lovely day in San Francisco town

Photos taken from the roof of a building on Broadway in Pacific Heights.

Click above for small (four image) gallery.

First two pictures were taken facing west and show the Golden Gate Bridge and Palace of Fine Arts. The next was taken facing north and shows Alcatraz with Fort Mason in the foreground. The last was taken facing east and shows Russian Hill. The top bit of Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill can be seen peeking up over the top of Russian Hill.

[WR] [NO FEE CONTEST] Stolpman Vineyards needs haiku. Prize: $250 AND! a case of wine! Deadline 01 Dec 2006

1st Ever Stolpman Vineyards Haiku Contest for Poetry inspired wine label.

2 winners (one for red wine; one for white wine) will receive $250 plus 1 case of wine each and name recognition on the label.

Needed: One haiku on the subject of wine. G-rated only which will be used for (red wine and white wine labels), named "Poetry in Red" and "Poetry in White".

Deadline Friday, 01 Dec 2006. One submission per entrant.

For more details check the Stolpman Vineyards Web site.

Be advised, the Stolpman Vineyards winery is in the bucolic village of Lompoc, CA. (Vineyards are in Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara County. The tasting room is in Solvang.) Not sure what sort of shipping arrangements they can make for your prize case of wine if you live a ways away, but maybe that's putting the wine cart before the dappled grey.

First you must enter, else you can't win.

[via Erika Dreifus' Practicing Writer blog]

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pics. Pics. Pics. Halloween in Yosemite.

Not that I had "Where are you?" questions from anyone but sibs trying to get hold of me. (Note to self: Cell coverage in Yosemite is nigh non-existent. Next time you head that direction, don't assume that people can get hold of you there and you don't need to tell them where you're going.)

Ian had people wondering where he'd gone off to. Me? No one noticed. sniff

Because we were only going to be gone a wee bit, we didn't prevail upon Auntie K. to give up her gig in Morro Bay or wherever her next gig took her. We told the Chron to hold off tossing papers on our stairway, cleaned the kitty box and set up the big water jug (glug. glug. glug) and a huge pot of food for the cat whose boy is 3K miles away before we ran off to Yosemite for five days.

The boy whose cat is 3K miles from him had flown in late Saturday from his AmeriCorps gig in Alaska and was due to leave Sunday evening for Boston. His brother and his brother's partner drove up from Santa Cruz for some quality time. The younger younger one entertained us with stories of Denali and Northern Lights. After sufficient discussion, we went to Stinking Rose for dinner after which the guys headed back to SC and the younger younger one settled in on the office floor for the night.

Next day, Sunday, we headed off to Yosemite after making sure the Super Shuttle would pick up the younger younger one in time to get to the airport for the Boston flight.

(Note: The younger younger one left the door ajar when he left. Ooops! Luckily, the neighbors are honest critters because we didn't get back to check the premises until days after he left. He also left his cell phone somewhere, probably the taxi in from Logan Airport, and had to get a new cell phone ASAP after arrival in Boston.)

So, what were we doing in Yosemite?

His nibs had last been in Yosemite in the early 60s. I'd been there a few years later, camping with my family and my dad's twin Dan and his family which at that time consisted of my Auntie M. and cousins L and J.

He decided it would be a swell idea to hie off to Yosemite and the Ahwahnee for the first of the year's Vintners' Holidays, a wine tasting seminar sort of thing, plus a dinner, plus all sorts of free time, plus a room at the Ahwahnee, plus an extra day, in our case.

I've been sorting through the pics -- over four hundred -- and, frankly, I'm overwhelmed with all the photographs I took. (Count how many photographs there are of Half Dome. I dare you. ...)

For the time being, I'm dumping them all in the lap of whoever might be interested in photographs of Yosemite during the last days of October, first days of November, 2006.

I'll give this brief travelogue.

The wine seminars went from 1:30-3 and from 4-5:30 on Monday and Tuesday. The posh winemakers' dinner was Tuesday, October 31st.

We drove up on Sunday from San Francisco. Took us four and a half hours to get to Yosemite, which is DYNAMITE considering what it would take on a Friday afternoon/evening during the high season.

We arrived on Sunday afternoon. There was a winemakers' reception with hors d'oeuvres and lots of wine that evening. We followed on with dinner at the Ahwahnee dining room because we were there and the restaurant was there and hey! ... Next day (Monday) we ate breakfast at the Ahwahnee because we hadn't yet scoped out where the cheap breakfast eats were, but woo hoo! The Ahwahnee breakfast buffet includes smoked salmon and capers AND Eggs Benedict! Yay!

We ate at the breakfast buffet for the rest of our stay. We also skipped lunch for the rest of our stay. ...

We walked around in the morning. First wine seminar. Walked again. Second wine seminar. Took the shuttle bus over to Curry Village Yosemite Lodge and had dinner there. (Curry Village eats were closed for the season.)

Tuesday we walked in the morning again from after breakfast until the first seminar and in the afternoon between wine seminars. Winemakers' dinner Tuesday night. Over the two days, we walked up to Yosemite Falls, over to Yosemite Village, to Curry Village, Camp Curry, to the last leg before Mirror Lake, &c.

Wednesday most of our wine/dinner companions headed home. We stayed on.

We walked up to Mirror Lake, which was not a mirror because it was dry for the season, and then walked back down and over to Happy Isles and up to the Vernal Falls bridge, then up to the top of Vernal Falls and Emerald Pool.

Instead of scrambling back down along the path that goes to/fro the top of Vernal Falls -- which had given me quaky knees because the fall off the edge is steep and the path is, well, just scary -- we walked around the back end of the loop up to the ridge and back around Clark Point.

The hike was exhausting because I need to ditch some extra weight, but well worth the exertion because the views are spectacular.

On Thursday morning I had my last breakfast buffet with Eggs Benedict at the Ahwahnee and we headed home, stopping at Hetch Hetchy and also at Don Pedro on the way back down. We took a loop around Jamestown (too late to check out the railroad museum, alas) and back around the far side of Don Pedro.

The detour/excursion, unfortunately, delayed us long enough that we hit sticky traffic getting back into the city over the bridges. We wound up taking 92/San Mateo Bridge rather than the Bay Bridge because of a really weird traffic mess on the east side of the Bay Bridge.

Home again. Home again. Riggety jig.

We ditched our luggage and headed down the hill for supper at Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store at Union and Columbus. We both had cannelloni and we split a liter of the house red wine. Comfort food.

Welcome home.


(1) Turns out, you can stay anywhere in the valley from the tent cabins at Curry Village to the Ahwahnee and attend the seminars at no extra charge. The dinner is a per-person cost deal, but bunking at the Ahwahnee is not a requirement for attending the wine seminars. Good to know. (Getting the Ahwahnee/seminar package deal, however, does get you a pair of wine glasses and a half-bottle of wine. Woo hoo.)

(2) I'd never heard anywhere how beautiful autumn is in Yosemite or how peaceful it is with a total lack of the throngs you always hear about. Lovely, lovely time to be there and if some of the snack shops or whatever are not open for the season? Oh, well! You could still hike almost everywhere in the Valley you wanted to go. (The Vernal Falls/Nevada Falls trails were getting close to closing for winter. Go before they close next year! Too late for this year. ...)

Eventually, I'll get these photos sorted out. For now, this is the rough cut.

Hope you find something there you like.

[WR] [PAY MKT] Common Ties

"Common Ties accepts personal stories from people all over the world. Before submitting to CommonTies@gmail.com we encourage you to read our writers guidelines.


2. Story type.
Common Ties publishes personal stories, whether told in the 1st person about yourself or in the 3rd about others. For examples please visit the “Lives” column in the New York Times Magazine or listen to the sound clips on storycorps.net or from This American Life. Personal stories can involve breaking news if you were a part of that story – for instance, stories from 9/11. When writing about others please state explicitly in your submission to us that you have obtained permission from those in the story to publish, and if you cannot please do not use their real names.

3. Pay.
Common Ties pays for the stories it publishes. Our payment guideline is $200 per story, but this is only a guideline. You may suggest a higher or lower amount depending on what you think is an acceptable level given the quality of the story and your past publishing experience. We expect that $200 will be the typical payment, with some lower and, in extraordinary circumstances, others as high as $1,000.


5. Rights.
Writers retain the rights to the stories they publish on Common Ties, allowing them to re-publish these stories elsewhere in the future.

Richard Dawkins - THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL

Came across this YouTube click (uploaded by Luther Blissett because, he says, Richard Dawkins doesn't have a youtube account):

Dawkins' THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL, part 1: The God Delusion.

The click is forty-seven minutes long. I found it both engaging and thought-provoking, especially Dawkins' dustup with an Israeli Muslim who grew up Jewish in the United States before emigrating to Israel, and converting.

I came across this click through a click embedded in a column on Pastor Ted -- the guy currently in the news saying, I never knew him, well, maybe I did, I guess I did, he gave me a massage, that's all that happened, I didn't buy meth, well, maybe I did, but I never used it.

If you want to see the Reverend "Pastor Ted" Haggard in action, you can find him at the very beginning of Dawkins' THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL, part 1, followed by another ten minutes or so devoted to Haggard and his New Life Church that starts 'round about minute 19 or so. Haggard and Dawkins argue creationism vs. evolution, and then Haggard kicks Dawkins and his film crew off the church property.

The second part of THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL, The Virus of Faith, completes the BBC documentary.

Interesting watching if you're an atheist like Dawkins or a believer like Haggard or somewhere in between.

A favorite part, near the end of part 1: Dawkins talks about Bertrand Russell's celestial teapot.

Russell wrote, If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

Dawkins follows up by mentioning Thor and Aphrodite, hobgoblins and unicorns and says, "We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in."

What a nifty and useful bit of technology YouTube can be.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006

[WR] There's no there there.


But there's no shortcut to getting there. You can build yourself the world's most wonderful writer's studio, load it up with state-of-the-art computer equipment, and nothing will happen unless you've put in your time in that clearing, waiting for Scruffy to come and sit by your leg. Or bite it and run away.

I'm often asked if writing classes are any help, and my immediate and enthusiastic answer is always, Yes! Writing classes are wonderful for the writers who teach them and can't make ends meet without that supplementary income. They are also good places for unattached people to meet, talk about books and movies, have a few drinks and possibly hook up. But teach you to write? No. A writing class will not teach you to write. The only things that can teach writing are reading, writing and the semi-domestication of one's muse. These are all activities one must pursue alone.

Read more: Stephen King on The Writing Life