: views from the Hill

Saturday, December 30, 2006

[URL] Brilliant app: Montage-a-google

Brilliant app: Montage-a-google.

Montage-a-google is a simple web-based app that uses Google's image search to generate a large gridded montage of images based on keywords (search terms) entered by the user.

A click on any image (max 20 images, scattered with dups over a 9x12 grid) takes you to the source of the image.

The grid size can be fiddled with, as can other features using the "advanced" mode.

You'll need Flash player version 8 (or up) to run the app.

If you want to save your results, use [alt][print scrn] (if you use a PC -- don't talk to me about Mac stuff) to copy the image. Then pop the image into your photo app with ^V and clear the bits you don't want before printing.

You'll wind up with something like this [click image to enlarge]:

Not bad for a first try. I could've trimmed the edges better but I won't go back and fiddle some more because at some point conscientiousness veers into compulsiveness and we're not exactly creating lasting art here.

Google search for "bixby creek" "big sur"


Over 2.5m Montage-a-googles served.

Check out the photos tagged with "montage-a-google" on Flickr.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas memories lost and found

I love Laura Lippman's Memory Project, as I might've mentioned once or three (maybe four!) times before.

Her current memory burp has to do with her December holiday memories back when (she always deals first) and her questions: What's the best gift you ever gave? What's the best gift you ever got? And have you ever had to fake it?

I answered:

Over the years. So many presents. Given. Received.

The present I especially remember was ... Manhattan Beach, CA. Christmas 1956. My dad was teaching at UCLA that year. We were living in a funky old house on the Strand, which (if my Web sleuthing is accurate) has been bulldozed for condos since the last time I swung by, maybe twenty-five years ago. Alas. Such a house. So many memories for such a short time.

We were only there for a school year. Come June 1957, my dad, with five children to provide for, left academia and signed on with Henry J. and Kaiser Aluminum. We relocated to Belem, Para, Brazil for the next two years or so, while Dad searched for bauxite, exploring the Amazon basin, whacking his machete through the jungles.

Christmas 1956. I was all of four years old and already not exactly your paint-your-fingernails sort of girl. Santa brought me a bright blue metal dump truck that really dumped. You could put four Campbell's soup cans in the bed. And dump them out. And put them back in. And dump them out. I was in hog heaven.

Another memorable present was something my older brother gave me several years after we got back from Brazil. That Christmas, he took an old cruzeiro coin and polished it up then soldered a small brass safety pin on the back to make me a pin. I still have that pin in a place of honor in my jewelry box forty-some years later.

The best present I ever gave? I can't remember, but this Christmas we had the serendipity to decide to give the older younger one a gift certificate to Borderlands, a terrific SFF/H store out on Valencia. I wanted to stick the gift certificate in a book and we found a signed copy of Pratchett's first Johnny Maxwell book. I tucked the gift certificate into the book.

Turns out the older younger one had been searching for years for that title. He had the later Johnny Maxwells but wanted to start with #1 and hadn't been able to find it. The fact that we'd found him a copy -- signed -- made his Christmas.

Thanks for the memories, Laura.

Answer yourselves here, folks: "What's the best gift you ever gave? What's the best gift you ever got? And have you ever had to fake it?"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

[WR] A look at your chances

Agent Kristin Nelson has a post up on PubRants giving her "year in statistics."

Heading up the list:

20,800 (Estimated number of queries read and responded to in 2006)

54 (Number of full manuscripts requested and read)

8 (Number of new clients taken on this year)

21 (Number of books sold this year—not counting subsidiary rights stuff)

6 (Number of projects currently under submission)

The numbers are daunting, aren't they? But when the nights are long and the wind is howling 'round your door and your spirits are low, remember, the fine words of Wendy Chatley Green:

The odds are against you, but they are less against you if you actually write and submit something.

Or, as Miss Snark says, it doesn't really matter what the acceptance/rejection rate is for a given agent or publisher when you're submitting your work. What matters is your work. She signed a client who had had eighty-one rejection letters before she signed him. It only takes one agent to say yes, Miss Snark reminds us.

What interests you. What doesn't. And how that's mirrored in your on-line persona, nay, even your RL persona.

Years ago, when I was living with a different husband, the husband and I went to a Silva Mind Control scoop-em-in-and-hook-em-up seminar.

What I took out of that seminar is that what you write about and what you care about and what makes you flinch and what makes you cry or yell or laugh is what interests you, what makes you tick.

The Silva folk had you think about someone you knew well.

What did you really like about them? What about them irritated you all to heck? Ten things for each list.

The upshot of the lists was that what you like and appreciate and what irritates you all to heck are all things that matter to you.

If someone twitches their foot and foot twitching doesn't ping your consciousness, you'll never mention twitching feet on your list of like/irritate/hate.

If what makes you twitch are people who are chronically late, you will probably mention that the person you're profiling is chronically late, if they are.

Back a day or two ago in Usenet land, someone made a crack that struck me all wrong. Still does. He's now backstepping around the pile of warm stuff that oozed out of his psyche. I don't care if the crack was intended as a troll. The crack was a reflection of who the person was. One wouldn't make the crack if it wasn't handy, somewhere in the psyche.

I think wotzizname Gibson probably had Jews on the brain before he was picked up for DUI by a Jewish cop and spewed his memorable spew. I think whatzizname Michael Richards had a fizz on his brain when he lashed out at the comedy club.

You don't lash out about things that aren't already stewing on your brain. You must've seen someone lash out at something and you just didn't get it. You said, huh?

We used to have to deal with a family member who'd make weird attempts to annoy us and get us twitching and spitting. She'd do one of her gotchas and we could tell she was trying to get us to twitch. We'd sit there and wonder, what is she trying now? Why does she think what she's doing would upset us?

We'd think for a while and then ... Oh ... that's it. Silly girl.

She'd do off-the-wall stuff intended to annoy. Well, she'd be annoyed if someone did something like that to her and she was so self-centered she didn't realize that what annoyed her might not annoy others. She'd hope we'd whine and complain and raise a fuss and storm out of the family and behave badly. We let it go. What's "stuff" anyway, crazy girl.

She was so self-centered she never could understand that what she did reflected more about how she ticked inside than it ever had anything much really to do with us.

She was avaricious and expected everyone else to be. She was suspicious of everyone because she knew that everyone should be suspicious of her.

She's no longer part of the family due to circumstances changing. The only thing I really miss is having a front row seat on her soap opera life. Boy, that girl had a weird view of how people should treat each other. I would love to see how her world view impacts her life these days -- how many friends have deserted her, how many tradesmen have cheated her, how many people are just being mean-mean-mean to her. I would love to know what's going on in her life, but not enough to get back in contact with her. I'm curious, but not enough.

In a similar fashion, the personas that people assume on Usenet ooze with things that they are aware of and care about, things that make them tick or tick them off.

I'm the girl who rummages up URLs. I'd never affect the persona of someone who cared about pink shooz. What? Or someone who cared about The Bulls. They lost last night? What?

Next time, watch what people pay attention to, what they react to, what sort of button pushing really sets them off and you'll see what's important in their lives. You'll also see that people who push buttons pick buttons that they care about. People talk about, act out, or conspicuously avoid things that they are most concerned about. If the subject didn't make their nerve endings twitch, it would never occur to them to even notice.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Denver escort Michael Forest Jones's memoir

Note in today's Pubishers Lunch of the sale of "Denver escort Michael Forest Jones's memoir of his three-year gay relationship with Evangelist and church leader, Ted Haggard, written with Sam Gallegos, to Dan Simon at Seven Stories, for publication in June 2007, by attorney/agent Donald Farber."

More here.

Sam Gallegos is a freelance writer in Denver who helped Randy Shilts with research, when Shilts was writing CONDUCT UNBECOMING: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military.

Judith Regan, eat your heart out.

an inhabited island has disappeared beneath rising seas

DISAPPEARING WORLD: Global warming claims tropical island
For the first time, an inhabited island has disappeared beneath rising seas. Environment Editor Geoffrey Lean reports
Published: 24 December 2006 [The Independent Online]

Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.

As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.

continued ...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas was everything I wanted

The younger younger guy flew in from Boston late -- after eleven -- on the 23rd. He found me snoozing in the wait lounge when he arrived. Luckily his nibs was awake. I'd been up past my bedtime for the previous two or three nights and had crashed.

We got back to our place and got to bed after midnight, more like one a.m. or so. I was up before seven-thirty (being careful not to wake up the younger younger guy who was asleep on the living room floor) to head down to Liguria Bakery for focaccia for us to snack on during the day before our big Christmas Eve dinner and for a couple raisin focaccia to take to the family Christmas.

But it turned out I wasn't the only one with such plans.

After over an hour and a half in line, I reached the front door around nine-thirty and discovered the bakery had just sold their last piece of my favorite rosemary focaccia. I winged it with the two raisin focaccia I was planning to bring to Christmas brunch, plus one each of garlic, rosemary garlic and two tomato/pizza. Turns out they mixed up the order a bit and I wound up with onion instead of the garlic. I prefer the garlic to the onion (others have the exact opposite preference), but we survived the mixup.

Who knew that focaccia on Christmas was such a big tradition for some people? There were people standing in line who were buying twelve sets of tomato focaccia for Christmas Day. People had driven over from Pacifica and up from the south bay, and that was only the people I talked to or overheard a couple spaces ahead or behind me in line.

I don't know if the people still in line behind me got the focaccia they wanted before Liguria ran out for the day. You snooze. You lose. Now that I know their Christmas Eve hours have them opening at 6 a.m. (instead of the 7 a.m. opening hours that are "normal" for weekends), I'll know to be on their doorstep at 6 a.m. on Christmas Eves in the future.

The older younger guy and his guy drove up from Santa Cruz in the afternoon and we chatted and sat around. I made cheese danish coffee rolls (from scratch ... yeast and knead and raise and all) while the others read until it was time to walk over to the HOPR (hopper) AKA The House of Prime Rib on Van Ness for a Christmas Eve dinner.

Dinner reservation was for 10 p.m., the earliest we could get. We were seated fifteen minutes, a half hour late, but that was okay. The time in the bar area gave us a chance to watch the passing crowd, and what a motley crowd it is. The HOPR is a favorite with a wide variety of people.

Dinner was exactly what we expected. How could it not be when the menu is pretty straightforward and hasn't changed since it opened fifty-plus years ago. The only recent change is an option for the vegetable side: you can now order creamed corn in lieu of the creamed spinach, a result of the E.coli spinach problem earlier this year.

Who knew that Christmas Eve dinner at HOPR was a long-standing tradition for some families? I didn't, although it may become one for us. More than one family party left, saying "Thanks. Good-bye. See you next year." to the wait staff.

I swear the guy and his son who were standing in front of me at Liguria were waiting for a table with the wife and daughter of the family.

Filled to the brim and carrying our bright red HOPR bags with our uneaten pieces of prime rib stored inside, we walked back home.

We didn't get to bed until after midnight.

Up bright and early, we turned on the sparkling tree and had focaccia and cheese danishes for a snack before we opened our presents to each other, to and between the five of us.

Oddly enough, the presents were book-book-book-(gift certificate for book store)-book-book-(magazine subscription)-book-DVD-book-book-mug.

Theme here?

After the opening of presents, we loaded up both cars with presents for the rest of the family and focaccia (and hard sauce to go with it) and cheese danishes and what-not and headed off to the Towse family Christmas in the east bay. Over the bay and through the tunnel and up to the water and east and ... we arrived.

The day was good. Far better than I could've hoped for. I missed Dad, of course, but it was good to see us all together and together.

My present for the matriarch was a box of mixed XOX truffles, which she loved. I mean really loved. Great! Now I know what to bring her for a treat when we visit.

Christmas was everything I wanted. We didn't get or give loads of gifts. There were no piles of presents, no conspicuous consumption. I had what I wanted: family and peace and having us all together. Everything and all that I wanted. Here's to magic. Here's to wonder. Here's to family. Here's to love.

Good night. Good peace.

The Godfather of Soul

Who would've thought after all the years and all that living that James Brown would die on Christmas Day of congestive heart failure/pneumonia in a hospital at age 73?

This was certainly not the way I would've ever figured he'd leave this earthly realm. He always seemed more a "bang!" than a whimper-exit sort of guy.

Spin your copy of "I Feel Good" and wish the man a speedy journey. I think he would've been amused to see the news reports and obits pour in: Siberian News Online, Virgin.net, Sky News Australia, the Telegraph, BET, PBS, Newsday, Bostonist, Irish Times and fourteen hundred plus others.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Another shake or three in Berkeley Friday night

Well, clobbered that old post (this one?) while I was writing up something new.

(Let's see if I can recreate the old post.)

We listened Friday night to Vienna Teng at the Independent, preceded by a delish dinner at NOPA.

While we were watching the show, my seat gave a shimmy, but then the seats at the Independent (and the tables) tend to shimmy.

If there'd been chandeliers, the chandeliers would've rattled.

No one else seemed to notice.

Quake on the Susan Hayward Fault. One large. Two aftershocks.

1.4 23:31:09 37.855N 122.234W 9.1 4 km ( 2 mi) N of Piedmont, CA
2.2 23:11:47 37.856N 122.237W 8.7 4 km ( 2 mi) ESE of Berkeley, CA
3.7 22:49:57 37.861N 122.237W 10.0 4 km ( 2 mi) ESE of Berkeley, CA

Here's hoping my friends in earthquake country have their houses tied to their foundations, a stash of water put away and whatever they'll need when they need it.

On Thursday night we were out to dinner (more on that to follow) and one of our dinner companions said he'd been talking to some cops about what they thought he'd need after an earthquake. Water, they said. A radio with batteries or a hand crank so you can get the news. And a side-by-side.

We don't have a side-by-side.


[sorry for the writeover and repost and feh. ...]

Did we mention a third today? (Another shake or three in Berkeley Friday night)

A 3.5 this Saturday morning at more or less the same spot as before -- the Susan Hayward fault in Berkeley.

Three over 3.0 in less than three days?

Uh Oh.

[FOOD] Vienna Teng. NOPA. Independent

We listened last night to Vienna Teng at the Independent, preceded by a delish dinner at NOPA.

VT's intro act was The Animators, well, Devon Copley and Alex Wong, a street-stripped-down version -- the essence -- of the band. Alex played some backup percussion and glockenspiel for VT. VT played some backup piano for the two. And a fun time was had by all. I liked them a lot. His nibs didn't much care for them. Oh. That's what makes God's little green-blue world, though.

VT was wonderful as always. Such a voice. His nibs much prefers her live performances to her CDs, which he thinks are over produced and layer too much production on top of her unique voice. I like her CDs. More differences of opinion. Both of us agree, though, that live, she is marvelous. She has her patter down and she's comfortable on stage. Hard to believe she is a reincarnated computer geek educated at Stanford, but there you have it.

She sang for over an hour, including CITY HALL and MISSION STREET, LULLABY FOR A STORMY NIGHT for her sister. She closed with an audience sing-along of SOON LOVE SOON and we all scattered out into the night with our souls intact.

She's playing again tonight. She'd sold enough of tonight's show that they added last night's show, and happy we were they did. The younger younger nib is arriving in from Boston tonight after 11p and we're picking him up at the airport. We couldn't have made a show tonight.

If VT's ever playing near you, get tickets.

We grabbed the 15 to Market Street and then the 21 Hayes up to Divisadero, getting there precisely at 6p (as was our plan) for a show with doors that opened at 8:30p for which we had will-call tickets. Why so early? Well, we'd been planning on dinner or at least something to eat beforehand. Last December, for a VT show at the I, we'd eaten at the Bean Bag Cafe, a small joint at the corner of Hayes and Divisadero.

This year, as we were poking around on the Web in the afternoon, we realized that there were several new restaurants in the neighborhood that hadn't been there last year.

A new restaurant NOPA, which has got some buzz, had opened in the empty building kitty-corner to the BBC, a building which had been vacant with windows covered with butcher paper last December when we were waiting for the bus home.

560 Divisadero Street @ Hayes
San Francisco, CA 94117
Phone (415) 864-8643

Rather than make a reservation, we decided to show on their doorstep at 6p and see if we could get a table. If not, there were other places to try or the BBC.

NOPA's bar opens at 5p. Dining starts at 6p. NOPA has a communal dining table and bar dinner seating that are first-come, first-serve. If we couldn't grab a table, surely we could eat at the bar.

We showed at 6p and were told, yes, they had a table, but wouldn't be able to seat us for ten minutes or so. Fine. We watched while they set everyone up who had a 6p reservation and then around 6:15, they sat us mid-room at a table for 4. I'm not a mid-room sort of person, but a table for 4 means you aren't elbow to elbow with the person next to you so that was a plus.

Appetizers: (him) squash soup -- which turned out to be a beef-barley soup with bits of tasty squash rather than the ginger-squash whirl that so many do. Although it wasn't what we expected, it was tasty. (me) spinach salad with endive, slices of persimmon, walnuts, pomegranate seeds, a tasty bleu cheesy dressing. Delish.

Main: (him) pan roasted black cod on a lentil platform with chicory -- tasty (me) lamb, cooked medium rare. Sliced. Looked a bit like some restaurants' duck breast presentation. No bones. Drizzled with a mint/chopped garlic/onion/something sort of chimichurri sauce. Very tasty. Set on a bed of pureed celery root (cream and butter are such wondrous things). With a side of braised greens.

We had a bottle of pinot noir: ICI/LA-BAS pinot noir. 2002. Les Reveles. Ellee Valley.

Dessert: trio of sorbets: meyer lemon, blood orange, clementine. He was happy. I had a taste of each and a small glass of moscotel romano alicante (bodegas guitterez de la vega 2003) because they had no Bonny Doon vin glaciere. I like. Our charming waiter said he likes the moscatel but really likes the eiswein. Maybe next time.

See? Maybe next time already. Our meal was that good. Our wait staff was excellent. Always there. Happy to be there or a very good actor. Suggestions if you wanted. Not if you didn't.

The building is a transformed bank, with some other incarnations in between. High ceilings. Impressive support structures. We noticed the criss-cross beam bracing over the door for earthquake retrofit, which seemed appropriate after we felt the shake during the Vienna Teng performance.

The vibe is friendly. The food is good. The place got more and more packed as the evening wended on. We got out about 8p and walked across the street and up half a block to the Independent. I stood in the like ten people long line while his nibs picked up the tickets. Doors opened at 8:30p for a 9p show. By then the line was down the block and wrapped around the corner.

We got great seats at a club table for four. The couple sharing the table had been behind us in line. The club, which is "intimate," meaning small, filled up and then standing and then more standing. The mix was geezers like us and YUPs and gen-Xers and more Asians over the age of thirty than I'm used to seeing at a club. VT's brother and younger sister were in the audience, she said. I didn't see her mom and wouldn't've recognized the sister at all. According to VT, the younger sister's almost out of HS. When I knew her, she was probably four or five. Time moves on, doesn't it?

If you're headed to the Independent for a show and want a nice meal beforehand, showing up on NOPA's doorstep at 6p will get you to the show on time with absolutely no stress. If you decide to eat after the show, NOPA serves dinner until 1 a.m., and the place was hopping at midnight as we waited (far longer than the twenty minutes MUNI claims for that time of night, but hey...) for a 21 back downtown.

Caught a 30 back to Washington Square Park and then walked home. The driver was a bit of a poophead. His nibs had pulled the STOP cord as we turned from Stockton onto Columbus. He yanked it again/again when it was clear the driver wasn't stopping at the Park. The driver stopped mid street and said, "Next time, pull the cord sooner if you want me to stop."

Huh? His nibs had pulled the cord like two blocks thataway back there! The driver must've been tired or having a hard night. He couldn't damper my mood, though.

Nice, nice evening.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Herb Caen is spinning in his grave

(as I commented on Zen's blog) and repeat here because I think it's worth repeating. ...

The San Francisco Chronicle had an article late last month re Ferlinghetti getting tapped for a Commandeur des Arts et Lettres.


Ferlinghetti was pleased. When I first showed up to San Francisco after World War II, I was still wearing my French beret.

Later on in the article,

Although his surname and North Beach neighborhood bookstore usually associate him with Italians, Ferlinghetti has a strong French connection. His mother is part French, some of his best friends are French and many of his favorite memories are from living in France, he said.

In fact, Ferlinghetti would rather be called French than a beatnick.

"Obliterate that word," he said. "I came to San Francisco before the beats. I was more of a bohemian and what they called a nonconformist. I didn't do the 9 to 5, which is quite a French-based belief."

beatnick? BEATNICK?

Our own Herb Caen coined the word back when and the Chronicle should have "beatnik" somewhere in their spellchecker.

For shame.

Harrison Bergeron

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut (1961)

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April, for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.


Comments in a post at Noise in the Attic reminded me of this short story.

The post at Noise in the Attic was commenting on a recent news report: Seems a "high school in Needham, MA, has decided not to publish their Honor Roll in the newspaper any longer. Why? Because it causes stress in the students who don’t make it. Plus, adds the principal, it puts an "unhealthy emphasis on grades".


And a happy Festivus Eve to you and yours

Not that I'm a believer, mind you, but if you want your Festivus fix, go to festivuspoles.com.



Video explaining How Festivus Poles Are Made.

An explanation of Festivus.

A click to FestivusWine.com

More ...

I'm off down the hill to buy me mum some of the best chocolate truffles in the world. For Christmas? Festivus? Saturnalia? Winter solstice? Yule?

For Mom. Hope she likes them.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

[FOOD] Earthshaking food at Cafe Bastille

We still had a few odds and ends to get for gifts. Our extended family downsized the gift giving last year so the adults have a gift exchange. Only the offspring under 18 are exempt.

We'd sent off the gifts for the much-loved wicked stepdaughter and her family back where it snows a couple weeks back. But still.

Jettison. Jettison. Jettison. Let's see. I'd decided unilaterally to heave-ho the stockings from Santa this year. After more than thirty years of stocking prep, I was tired. Santa's elf was retiring. I haven't told the younger nib yet. He flies in on the 23rd and I'll break the news then. I don't think my mom will miss hers. No more windup Godzilla monsters or reindeer meatballs for Dad's stocking. It's just not the same. His nibs and I decided heave-ho it was. No need to find little somethings to stash into stockings. Scratch that off the list.

There are still three under 18 who need gifts. A gift for me to give to Mom. A gift for his nibs to give to my bro. Or maybe it was the other way around. We needed gifts for the younger guys and one for the older younger guy's guy. Gifts for each other except we already gave each other gifts and are more into the random gift giving than not. Some of my gifts, already purchased, needed a specific x to finish up the package.

So we walked downtown to Stacey's Books (581 Market Street ... support your local bookseller) yesterday afternoon, a mile or so. Found what we needed at Stacey's, except that they didn't carry a magazine I wanted a copy of to accompany the subscription I'd bought for one of the youngsters, so it was off to Fog City News just down Market Street where I found the magazine I wanted. If you are ever looking for an obscure magazine, stop at Fog City and see if they have a copy in their racks. Amazing place.

It was a bit early to eat (6p or so), but not too early and we were done shopping, heading home.We had a choice of places to eat on the way home (Sam's, where we'd eaten just last week, any place on Belden Place, The House, and a couple hundred other choices). We opted for Belden Place and, specifically, for Cafe Bastille, where we'd eaten once before.

Cafe Bastille
22 Belden Place SF 94104
(415) 986-5673

French. Duh. All of the restaurants on Belden Place have an interior room or two and an outside eating area in the Belden Place alley. We walked in off the street without a reservation but we were early enough in the evening that that was no problem. Last night the weather was getting nippy, so we opted for eating inside. We were seated near the bar, rather than down in the cellar where we'd eaten the other time we'd been in.

I hadn't remembered the food being as good that time as it was last night.

Last night it was very tasty.

His nibs started with Dungeness Crab Cakes served with french-fried fennel sticks, a mashup of greens and a spicy Pineapple and Chipotle Salsa. I had the Foie Gras Terrine served with orange marmalade (really!) and a basil-aioli swish on the plate. At the side was a puff pastry stuffed until it ooozed with cheese. We swopped halfway through. Both were delicious.

The two crab cakes were mostly crab with just enough filler to hold them together. The salsa was spicy enough to warm all the way down. The terrine was delicious and who would've ever thought that an orange marmalade would go well with it? The puff pastry was delicious and only about a thousand calories.

His nibs had the Braised Lamb Shank with an incredible sauce. Baby carrots and boiled new potatoes were added separately just before serving and so were crisp, not soggy. The lamb melted in your mouth. I had the roast duck, cooked medium rare (and, by golly, it came out medium rare!) sliced with sauce and with a scrumptious lentil dish spread underneath. [Update: and steamed asparagus spears. Peeled stems! I never go to the effort to peel asparagus stems. yow! How could I forget!] We gave each other bites for tastes but didn't swap the plates.

We had a bottle of red wine from Cahors, imported by Kermit Lynch, the astounding import guy and wine merchant in Berkeley. Clos la Coutale. 80% Malbec, 20% Merlot. Way different from any Argentinian malbec blend we've ever had. Smooth and tasty enough that we decided we need to track down which San Francisco wine merchants carry Kermit Lynch imports. (Looks like San Francisco Wine Trading Company fer sures. I don't know if K&L or Wine Club have any of his imports ...)

For dessert we split the cognac creme brulee. The top cracked just as it should and the creme inside was soft but not oozy -- not thickened excessively with carageenan or whatever, like you often find. Alas, no Bonny Doon vin glaciere on the dessert wine menu and nothing there seemed an acceptable substitute so I continued nursing my glass of water.

The service was excellent. The guy who came by to take away plates and fill water glasses was always there immediately when he should be and never hovering when you wished he'd be gone.

The only shadow on the meal was a loud-ish patron at the bar who was overly effusive and talky-talky with the staff, talking about buying her skirt in Paris (a short short short mini skirt that she was wearing over black pants) and introducing herself to other people who came to wait at the bar for their tables. I know her name. I know her grandfather's name. I know what her boyfriend said when she bought the skirt. She reminded me of someone. Who? Who? Finally, thanks heaven, I realized right before we left that she reminded me (mannerisms, brain power, personality, mental whee!) of the woman who lives across the street from my parents. Man, that would've kept me awake all night.

So, why was the food so earthshaking at Cafe Bastille?

My seat shook. I looked down the banquette to see if someone'd just plopped themselves down or hauled themselves up. Nope. I looked around. I noticed his nibs looking around. "I felt a shake," I said.

"I did too," he answered.

No one else seemed to notice.

3.7 in Berkeley last night. 7:12 p.m.

[Update: For those folks unfamiliar with our earth cracks, that tremor (followed by a 2.2 aftershock at 00:55 this morning) was right, smack, dibby-dab on the (affectionately known as "Susan") Hayward fault, it was.]

Bob Mankoff, New Yorker cartoon editor

Ever wonder what it takes to get a cartoon published in the New Yorker? Wonder no more. ...

A post at Drawn! contains links to a three-part series over at the Huffington Post in which Matthew Diffee interviews Bob Mankoff.

There's a very interesting read over at the Huffington Post. New Yorker cartoonist Matthew Diffee has posted a 3-part discussion with Bob Mankoff, the magazine's infamous cartoon editor. The two discuss the nature of humour, what makes a good cartoon, and I think, more importantly, what defines a New Yorker cartoon and sets it apart from the rest.


Clicks to the three parts of Diffee's interview are contained in the blog entry.

Added bonus (for those who read all about the above in m.w and are saying, "So. What."):

A 2001 Bob Staake interview with Mankoff at PlanetCartoonist.

Man, I mean. How hard can it be to draw one of those little cartoons and think up some caption for it?

Here. You try it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


After folks started nattering about them a while back, I decided to join the crowd and added my "you are stardust" favicon here a week or so back.

Added a purple prose favicon to Internet Resources earlier today.

Wrote about favicons and such on the blog over there.

Some day I'll really need to rethink the blog layout for that site, but I'd abandoned that blog for almost two years and only recently started keeping it up-to-date again. Each time I edit it and pull up the blog it's like yowww! that was then, where is now?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Some photos of the tree.

Some photos of the tree. Such as they are. Click Rudolph's nose for entry to the gallery.

I'll try again with a tripod tonight or tomorrow to see if I can get some sharper images. If the pictures turn out better, I'll just update the gallery and tack a note up to that effect.

The tree, obviously, is not one of those elegant, symmetrical, sophisticated, balanced, artistic, themed trees but rather a tree with a motley collection of decorations accumulated over the years.

We boxed up several large boxes of decorations and a spare tree stand for the folks at NBC this year for their tree, but still had enough for several more trees in addition to the one we have.

Maybe next year I'll be ready to give even more away. Or not. The ones we have have so many memories attached to them, and I keep buying just a few new ones each year. The kids won't need to squabble over who gets the Christmas decorations after we settle in for our dirt naps. Each will inherit enough! for a tree! or two!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Augie Doggie's Doggie Daddy's dead

Joseph Barbera died, age 95.

Tell the Gatekeeper we voted you a free pass for the happiness you gave millions of rapt cartoon watchers over the years.

Thanks for hundreds (thousands, more like) of hours spent with Baba Louie and Quick Draw McGraw, Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, the prehistoric Flintstones, Bam-Bam and Pebbles, the futuristic Jetsons and all the rest of the gigantic gang of characters you and William Hanna created.

I can't imagine my childhood without them.

Update: Sour Grapes reminds me, Don't forget Tom and Jerry.

As if I could. A quick tour of YouTube gives us Tom and Jerry - The Cat Concerto (1946) and, in the spirit of the season, Tom and Jerry - The Night Before Christmas (1941)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tree's up.

After much hemming and hawing and even a "why don't we just rearrange the furniture" episode at lunchtime today, we went over and picked up the decorations and tree stand from where they live eleven months of the year, then stopped by Delancey Street Trees at Pier 32 and bought a tree this afternoon.

We'd already put up a crèche in our seldom-used fireplace a couple few weeks back and strung lights up on the deck.

... but the tree, the tree, we had no tree.

My fault. I hadn't cleared the space we needed. We needed a day with nothing else happening to fetch the tree, which hasn't been happening recently, too. But most of the fault was mine. Stuff stashed, spread, boxed in the space where the tree would live. I finally cleaned the space, but it's just a week before Christmas and can I justify all the tree-effort for such a short spell?

The tree is a magical bit of Christmas for me and a pain in the rear for his nibs, the choosing, the dragging, the setting up, the lighting, the decorations. Because of the logistics these days, the getting and setting of the tree is even more a project than it ever was back in the days when we'd drive with the kids up into the mountains to cut a fresh tree from George McKenzie's Christmas tree farm.

So I'd finally cleared the space, but we were so close to Christmas and his nibs didn't much want to go through the exercise. I decided maybe we'd alternate years: a year for me with a tree, a year for him without one, but then today after I'd rearranged the furniture, I sat in one of the soft armchairs, staring out at the sun-shiny day, the bay, the blue skies, Mount Diablo in the distance, the boats, the east and the day was beautiful and I should've been at peace, but I felt as melancholy as you can feel without drowning in the black ooze. Sure it was all about Dad not being here this Christmas and his birthday and Skip's just past and all the combined blues but then there was the there'll-be-no-tree-this-year on top of it all.

His nibs, bless him, understood and said, let's go get a tree, for pete's sake, or words to that effect.

We sat on the sofa after dinner, in the dark, watching the lights twinkle on the almost-all-decorated tree, watching the lights twinkle on the bridge and in the East Bay, watching the candle in front of the crèche flicker while Jimmy Buffet sang Lennon's Happy Christmas (War Is Over) ...

(The Buffet Christmas Island album is one of my favorite Christmas collections -- probably an even tie with Sinatra's for the best-ever Christmas album of all time.)

... and although I'm still a bit melancholy about the season, the tree is tossing out tendrils of peace and happiness and my mood's much improved over where it was early this afternoon. Much.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A happy birthday to the uncle who used to take me fishing

... and who shares a birthday with his nibs.

We celebrated with a wild night ... home.

Baked kabocha squash filled with butter/brown sugar/nutmeg.

Spiced lamb sausages from Little City Meats on Stockton with grilled onions, egg noodles.

Dessert was (for the birthday boy -- by request) baked Granny Smith apple stuffed with butter/brown sugar/nutmeg, served warm with French vanilla ice cream and (for moi) French vanilla ice cream with a splash of (non-vintage ... not the Dow '83 sitting on the kitchen counter! not the Dow '83!) port.


We had a very nice birthday.

We hope the uncle who used to take me fishing (and his paramour) did as well.

Today's the day for hooks at Miss Snark's Crapometer

Miss Snark is opening up the Crapometer for the fourth time in history today.

Today's grist to be analyzed for crap-or-not (hence the exercise's name: Crapometer) is 250-wd hooks for your latest agnum mopus.

Miss Snark will critique all submitted 250-wd-or-less hooks on the blog in upcoming days. If she likes your hook, she'll ask for a 750-wd pitch, which she will also critique on the blog.

Rules and regs

MUY IMPORTANTE: The Crapometer opens today (Friday) at 8 pm EST. You have twelve hours to send in your hook. Crapometer closes promptly at 8 am EST Saturday.

NOTE ALSO MUY IMPORTANTE: Miss Snark is verrrry particular about word count. She doesn't mind you sending in 10 words if the max allowed is 250, but if you send in 260, you won't get a critique. Miss Snark uses Word to count the words.

Have at it.

Even if you don't submit a hook for critique, read the blog in the upcoming days for an education in how-to-write-hooks.

Words from Bucky

If success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do ...

How would I be?

What would I do?

-- R. Buckminster Fuller

[found at The Buckminster Fuller Institute]

[for Paula] Important Beanie Baby news!

Today's Chronicle chronicles the strange mystery of the Beanie Baby bandit of Piedmont.

Beanie Babies! Kitties! If only there'd been cupcakes with buttercream frosting in the story, the bluebirds would've been singing in the peppermint trees!

(Too bad the crimes didn't occur in Bakersfield or Barstow for even more maximo alliteration!)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ruth Asawa

Took the bus down to Market Street and caught the N-Judah over to the de Young today to see the Ruth Asawa retrospective.

Lovely. The wire work is fascinating, peaceful, mesmerizing. The museum had the lights set so the shadows through the wires fell on the floor and bent and danced across the walls as the air moved the sculptures.

Some of her ink drawings are amazing. The one of her son is pattern on pattern on pattern with very little actual drawing of hand or foot or head, just pattern and lack of pattern and the emptiness between.

Asawa's retrospective consists not just of her wire sculptures (both crocheted and tied and bundled) but also her notes from her time at Black Mountain College (NC), a documentary film, a collection of her paper works and photographs taken of her and her work by her longtime friend photographer Imogen Cunningham.

We discovered, watching the documentary, that the fountain at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Union Square, which we'd ridden by on the bus earlier in the day, was one of her public commissions. (an in-process view of its construction)

We'd seen some of her wire sculptures in the elevator lobby of the museum tower back a couple months ago and were excited to hear there'd be an entire exhibit.

The exhibit runs through 28 January 2007.

Update: Asawa is a sculptor, an artist, an honored arts activist and the mother of six. I've been wondering what I've been up to lately. No time to do what needs doing? Where was Asawa's time?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

[BLOG] Pepys as of this day in the Year of Our Lord Sixteen Hundred And Sixty Three

A link on Sour Grapes and then my search (undereducated 'r' me) for a translation for "AVT DOCE, AVT DISCE, AVT DISCEDE" took me back to a place I've been before: the Diary of Samuel Pepys, a very entertaining blog which Grapes hisself (iirc) told me about many many many moons ago.

Pepys' diary is a blog which follows Pepys' diary day-by-day with clicks to the appropriate "whatever is he talking about?" explanations.

Mrs. Pepys, btw, seems not to be an easy keeper.

Today's entry (Sunday 13 December 1663) includes the following (run-on-sentences-r-Pepys) bit.

To church, where after sermon home, and to my office, before dinner, reading my vowes, and so home to dinner, where Tom came to me and he and I dined together, my wife not rising all day, and after dinner I made even accounts with him, and spent all the afternoon in my chamber talking of many things with him, and about Wheately’s daughter for a wife for him, and then about the Joyces and their father Fenner, how they are sometimes all honey one with another and then all turd, and a strange rude life there is among them.

Love that "sometimes all honey one with another and then all turd, and a strange rude life there is among them."

Dysfunctional families 'r' us.

RIP Leslie Harpold

I've been spinning through the Web, reading reminiscences of Leslie Harpold since I first found out a few hours ago through a post at SFist that she had died some time last week.

What can I say?

I hope Heaven is everything she'd imagined it could be.

She was a fine writer and, judging from the stories and posts from her many friends and acquaintances, someone I would've liked to have known.

[URL] Boy stuff. Girl stuff. Young stuff. Old stuff. Really!

Ev pointed me to Microsoft adCenter Labs which has this nifty beta tool, Demographics Prediction that alleges to predict "a customer's age, gender, and other demographic information according to his or her online behavior—that is, from search queries and webpage views."

Want to take it for a spin? Pop in a search or a URL and well, here, let me show you.

Say someone heads off to Miss Snark's blog: http://misssnark.blogspot.com/. What does that foray out on the Web tell the predictors at the Labs about the person?

Gender Unknown with following probability:

:0.51 male
:0.49 female
Age: <18 Oriented with following distribution: [distribution set out]

Seems the usual <18 demographic should clock in at 9.8%, but for Miss Snark clocks in at 25.06%, the highest percentage of any of the age groups.

Try another: Preditors & Editors: http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/.

:0.44 male
:0.56 female
Age: 18-24. but hard to call, really. the <18 demographic clocks in at 20.34%, the 18-24 at 21.22%, well, you get the idea. The distribution is pretty even.

So what does this all do for you? If you're someone looking to place ads for guy stuff aimed at the 18-24 age bracket, it behooves you to put those ads on Web sites that attract 18-24 year old guys.

Ev has been playing around to see how wildly he can skew the results by searching for things that might be obviously girl stuff or boy stuff. His most skewed was "prom dress" which clocked in with 82% female.

I searched /brangelina/ and /brad pitt/ and /angelina jolie/. Amazed I was to find out that the /brad pitt/ search was a more-likely female search and the /angelina jolie/ search was a more-likely male search.

/ethnic beads/ came up 83% female.

Lars mentions in the comments tail that a search for "Ruby on Rails" is 93% male.


[ref: evhead is tinkering]

Monday, December 11, 2006

'tis the season

Rabbi gets hate mail over airport Christmas trees
Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:18pm ET

News article from Reuters today

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A local rabbi is receiving hate mail and angry phone calls after Seattle airport officials took down its Christmas trees in response to his request to include a giant Menorah in the airport's holiday decorations, his lawyer said on Monday.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport removed its Christmas trees on Saturday after Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky threatened to sue the Port of Seattle, which operates the airport, if it did not include a menorah into its holiday decorations.

The rabbi works on behalf of Chabad-Lubavitch, a branch of Hasidic Judaism and an Orthodox Jewish movement.

The removal of the trees sparked a public outcry over what some say was political correctness run amok and part of a trend to adopt a secular tone toward Christmas.


Update: Trees return. Whatever ... How traditional. Plastic trees.

Do you agree with Christmas?


Do you believe that Christian signs of the season are better set up somewhere other than taxpayers' property with taxpayers' money in the face of taxpayers who are not Christian and will never be?

I do.

Political correctness gone amuck?

How hard is it to realize that there are an increasing number of Americans who are not Christian and, perhaps, all the fa-la-la-la-la just grates on their nerves?

Sure, put up those little trees at the Frontier check-in counter. That's a private display.

Should our tax dollars be used to put up Christmas displays?

I don't believe Christmas displays should be foisted on the non-believers (and paid for by believers and non-believers) just because the majority of people here believe.

We are not a Christian nation. Our bills, mind you, say something about "in God we trust" but, even so, they don't say "Jesus died for our sins."

Are you Jain? Are you Buddhist? Are you ... anything but a Christmas-tree Christian? How many of us-you-them are there?

Ditch the trees.


I have a tree in my house. I don't need a tree at City Hall to reconfirm whatever religious leanings I may have.

... but hate mail?!??!

That's weird.

Judging from dealings I've had with people claiming hate mail and judging from dealings I've had with people claiming brutality and other weirdnesses, who have turned out to be perhaps not the world's most honest folk, I'd love to see what sort of "hate mail" our rabbi has had.

n.b. I'm not saying he didn't have hate mail, mind you, but maybe he did, maybe he didn't.

My days back in the days tell me that people fib ... sometimes.

It's all grist, eh?

News! Arctic clear for summer sailing by 2040

from news@nature.com

Published online: 11 December 2006
Arctic clear for summer sailing by 2040: Models predict rapid decline of sea ice
by: Amanda Leigh Haag

New climate simulations offer a dire forecast for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice, predicting that by the year 2040, the Arctic Ocean will be almost free of ice during late summer.

Some projections from climate centres worldwide have suggested previously that Arctic sea ice could vanish in September, at the end of the summer melt, by as early as 2050. But the most recent calculations, performed on the Community Climate System Model at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, predict the most rapid and imminent decline yet.

article continues

Sunday, December 10, 2006

[WR] (old) Interview with New Yorker's fiction editor, Deborah Treisman

People Are Nearly Getting Hit by Beer Bottles Every Day
An Interview with the New Yorker's Deborah Treisman

Nov. 2005

I'm sure you get asked this every time you do an interview, but how does it work? How do you choose the stories you choose?

There are six people in the fiction department. Most of us do nonfiction as well, so we don't have as much time as it sounds. But basically stories come in, whether they come in through slush or to one of the editors or to me, and they get read and whatever we're taking seriously gets circulated to all of the editors and we have a meeting once a week where we sit around and argue. Everyone writes a short opinion of the story and those get attached to the manuscript as it makes its way around. And sometimes it happens that all six of us think a story is great—that's maybe one in 10 of the stories that get to this level. What most often happens is three people like something and three people don't, or four people versus two. It's a funny mix and there's lots of argument—you know, arguments that can be very frustrating because you're never going to convince the other person, but that is probably what the response is among the readership as well. You just hope that, in general, the majority is going to be affected by what you publish.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

$1.65 billion ... B ... billion!??!?

Dinner last night with friends celebrating a friend. Old friends. Geeky friends.

One friend, Ann, does not want to even talk about the purchase of YouTube by Google.

"$1.65 billion ... B ... billion?" she sputters.

... for what? There's nothing there!

Sure, there is, Ann.

Stuff like this.

Ann, though, was talking about what's behind the content on YouTube, the inner workings, the database, the uploading, the hosting. What exactly was Google buying and why did they think it was worth that much? What sort of IP was there? What sort of patent applications are pending? What is there that's worth $1.65 billion (B) billion?

Those folks at Google are pretty sharp folks. I'm sure they have plans and will have more plans about what to do with the concept.

Here's an article from money.CNN about Google and its non-existent (or at least not headline-worthy yet) copyright woes. Check out Google's deal with CBS and the effect on Letterman during sweeps.

HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis co-infection

More research and information (Economist) now available re HIV/AIDS co-infection with malaria. Co-infection with tuberculosis and the implications and impact (especially in some prison systems and in sub-Saharan Africa) has been known and documented for a longer time.

Sub-saharan Africa triple whammy.


Science magazine abstract

Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (HQ: Geneva)

[WR] Late breaking Miss Snark (and Jane Yolen!) news!

Jane Yolen reads Miss Snark!

(As evidence by a comment in the comments tail of this post. Read her comment for some background trivia about James Thurber ...)

Things I've memorized and still remember for which there is no real use

Laura Lippman had a recent post about memorization. She asked for memories of memorization.

Instead of memories, I provided a list of things I've memorized and still remember for which there is no real use:

(1) pi to twenty-two places which seven-years-older brother Skip taught me when I was in fourth grade -- age eight -- not because there was any purpose to it but because he was fifteen and thought it'd be fun to see how far my memory could stretch. I've never added on to that limit because what need is there for that sort of stuff except to win bar bets?

(2) "If" by Rudyard Kipling, extra credit in fifth grade.

(3) kingdom-phylum-order-class-family-genus-species // Bio 1 test prep c. 1969.

(4) chlordane, lindane, pentachlorophenol -- three top legal organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) used as termiticides // Ent101 test prep c. 1971. Dr. J. Gordon Edwards (Janey Edwards' dad) was the sort of professor who ate DDT in class just to show you that it wasn't all that poisonous. And he didn't think much of Rachel Carson either.

(5) The three vowels immediately after the "h" in "Weyerhaeuser" are in alpha order. // software control project to set saws for the sawmill in Raymond WA using lasers to scan the logs and some sophisticated algorithms. c1981

(6) The worst memory waste, though, is "Brent and Joanne, Vic and Pam, Jerry, Michelle and Sharon" -- the names of the folks who shared a house down near San Jose State where I was allegedly going to hang out after class -- instead of heading home to the family manse -- and stay until after dinner when, actually, I was going somewhere I shouldn't've been. Knowing their names was supposed to add verisimilitude to the story. c1971

I can remember their names but not where I shouldn't've been going.

Do you have any memory tricks? Bar bet worthy? "There are strange things done in the midnight sun" Robert Service poems? "Four score and seven..." " By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea" (by Sinatra, of course. ...) or "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

... and things of that sort?

[WR] Advice from Laura Lippman - Self-help: selling your first novel

Laura Lippman's updated her self-help essay filled with advice to the writer on selling that first novel.

Step #1?

Finish the damn book.

The essay is short and to the point. Here's hoping that those who need to read it (hands raised!) will.

[Snitched Repurposed from Miss Snark]

Friday, December 08, 2006

[WR] David Louis Edelman on book promotion

David Louis Edelman posts on book promotion: what worked, what didn't, what is worth doing, what not.

File this one away for later use, if you can't use it today.

[Snatched from Bella Stander's blog. Thank ye, ma'am.]

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Water on Mars

Water (or some other flowing liquid) on Mars.


How cool is that?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

RIP James Kim

Maybe it's the season. Maybe that's why I'm teary.

Maybe it's the pictures the newspapers and news sites ran and the waiting and the hopes that everyone who knew the story had and that he was a local guy and we had that local connection and a bump in hope when mom and daughters were rescued while the search went on for the husband/dad who had trekked off for help.

He was found today and something about it all tears my heart to shreds.

Maybe because Dad's bday was yesterday and this is the first bday we've had without him. Maybe because Skip's bday is in a few days and I've never got through a December without tears since he died. Maybe because it's December and dammit this shouldn't happen.

But it does.

My heart goes out to the Kim family, his dad, his wife, his kids, his family, everyone who loved him.

This is not what any of us wanted to happen. We were all hoping against hope for days that the story would have a happy ending. A team of searchers spent all their energies in the end for naught except that they found his body and ... closure.

The daughters will learn some day that their dad died looking for help for them and their mom and slogged on bravely with more courage than I think I would have had, through hunger and cold and pain and impossible conditions, bravely.

I am just so very sorry that he won't be with them.

[URL] GourmetSleuth.com

GourmetSleuth.com's title head says it all:

Masala Dabba - As Seen In December Food and Wine Magazine | Comfort Food - Raclette | Cheese! - Cheese Making Kit | Ingredient du jour: Burrata cheese | New! - Cooking Conversions Calculator | Cooking Dictionary - Ingredient Substitutions, Equivalents | New Ingredient - Verjus | For Wasabi Lovers! - Real Wasabi!| Recipes - Mexican Recipes | Just For Guys - A Guy's Gotta Eat | Pets - Dog Treat Recipes

I found this site because his nibs was setting us up for dinner at Colibri after we leave the Commonwealth Club holiday schmoozefest tonight. He's reading the menu [PDF] to me. All yums. But what's Quesadillas de Rajas? What's Rajas?

/rajas/ in the bar at the top of Firefox pulls up the GourmetSleuth.com page on "rajas," which tells me

The word "rajas" just means "strips" but in Mexican cooking it refers to strips of chiles. The chiles are roasted, peeled, and cut into strips. After that the recipe can vary but normally they are sautéed with onions, herbs and seasonings. The cooked mixture is used as a condiment with meats or as a vegetable side dish.

and goes on to give me recipes, how-to, variations and uses, &c.

What else does GourmetSleuth have? Lots. Seems a useful site.

[cleared out the sustenance tag and changed it to food to keep my tags copacetic]

Moved to beta Blogger

Moved to beta Blogger last night after setting up a trial account and making sure the FTP to my Web site worked. It did.

Then I had to wait until I got another "how'd you like to move to beta Blogger" note. Eric Case, in that video linked to in a prior post, explained that Blogger was offering the switchover to just a percentage of classic Blogger users at a time soze not to overwhelm the systems. Each time I logged on, it was a tossup whether I'd get the offer or not. Once I decided to move over, it took something like three or four log-ons before I got the offer again.

I moved yesterday after much shall-I shan't-I because Blogger was overwhelmed and my posts they would not post. (Oh, my. That dreaded tick-round-and-round-and-round at 0% completion.) We are told upfront that once you transition, you can't go back.

Another Yo! Blogger folk! You know that blog you maintain that's supposed to give heads-up about troubles with Blogger and posting issues and downtime and all? You really should use it.

In amongst the cautionary "make sure that your FTP will work if you don't host with Blogspot before you make the transition" messages, Blogger forgot to mention that Blog This! doesn't work with the beta system and they've been "working on it" since September. Excuse me? How hard can this be? Until they get it fixed I'm back to the old save-a-link-write-a-post method.

Turns out the post to Blogger from Picasa won't work either. They're working on it.

More whines to follow, I'm sure. I'm an old-fashioned girl and change is so difficult, isn't it?

Update: whine: I added a "label" when I was writing this post. Nothing showed on the post except the label, the title, and the whodunnit information. I re-edited and took the label off. Nothing showed for the post except the title and the whodunnit information. I went in again and took out some code I'd had in my classic Blogger that related to "fullpost" and voila!

You know? I'm a teeny bit more geared to all this stuff than someone who hasn't been playing with code since the 70s and it took me a bit to figure out the problem. How is all this affecting Aunt Eunice?

Update 2: Eric's right. They've got rid of that annoying 0%. Unfortunately, contrary to promise, they can still have the annoying round-and-round-and-we're-working-on-it-round.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Eric Case on beta Blogger

Jay Dedman and Ryanne Hodson, known collectively as RyanIsHungry have a video interview with Eric Case, discussing beta Blogger.

Vienna Teng

I was checking to see if Vienna Teng was going to be back in town for the holidays. A brief profile of her in the Examiner this morning made me think of it.

VT comes from that fair ville to the south of here where the younger, younger guys grew up. She graduated from the HS a couple few years ahead of the older younger guy, graduated from Stanford with a computer science degree, worked for Cisco and worked on her music while she was at Cisco, quit Cisco for her music, now lives here in the city, when she's not elsewhere for her music.

The younger younger guy has been a fan of hers for a long time and gave me one of her CDs years back and said, listen to this, mom ...

The Examiner, POS that it can be archive-wise since the ownership change, of course doesn't have a link to the article in this morning's paper for me to send on to the younger younger guy.

Home for the holidays, VT will be playing at the Independent, Dec 22-23. $20/. We went to her show at the Independent last December, on the eve of his nibs' bday. The date's a bit later, but ... maybe this year too.

If you don't know Vienna Teng and the music she makes, click some of the music clips she has up at myspace.com.

Gee those CDs would make excellent holiday presents, wouldn't they?

Searching Google with her Vienna Teng moniker and the one she was born with, I found this click to the Houston Chronicle for the article that was in today's Examiner. Funny thing, that.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Listen to music while you prepare for your day ...

What everyone needs: Bath Tissue Holder with Dock for Apple iPod™.

Includes two mid-range speakers, two high-range speakers, volume, power on/off. W00t!

Do your friends have this?!??!

I think not!

Be the envy of all the crowd!


Some discussion in comments re mashups and me being amazed that a Sony sort I'd met had just heard about mashups a day or two before. She had a seventeen-year-old kid for pete's sake! Then turns out our Paula didn't know mashups. A couple teenagers she asked didn't know mashups.

Is it this city I live in? It's not like I'm into the clubbing scene with its DJs and mashups nor do I hang out at avant garde theaters or art galleries. Mashups are just part of the scene and have been for years now.

Oh, forgot to come back, sorry. I asked two 13 year olds. They'd never heard of it. My daughter said it sounded like a gang bang, while her friend thought it had something to do with drugs. There ya go!

Wow. No kidding.

Mashups are the raging copyright infringement issue hereabouts. Music mashup creators take two or more pieces of music and mix and mash 'em together to create something entirely distinct. Some are pretty clever, others are lame. Other mashup creators have moved into video mashups, expropriating images and clips. Recontextualizing, they call it.

e.g. music mashups:

Check this one out: A mashup with Jay Z, Beyonce and Britney. Yow! Yikes!

People Like Us' Swinglargo

DJ John's Chariots of Fire vs Kalifornia vs Music vs It's My Life

e.g. video mashups:

Faithless Hexstatic Mashup

Added: The Passion of Benny Hill (linker thingie lifted from Sour Grapes)

Fun stuff. Very annoying to some of the folks whose music/video/pictures are used. But I think being "very annoying" is part and parcel of the reason mashups exist.

The Bargain Barn, a cheap wine/liquor/stuff chain, has some marked down mashup Christmas CDs with old time favorites like Sinatra and Como paired with rappers and such like -- for sale for 99 cents.

And, in honor of the season, a mashup which some people think is genius, but which I think is not hardly as good as they think it is: Santa Benz. Would I buy an album for this song? No.

Added #2: Over dinner at Perbacco his nibs pointed out to me (yes, we do discuss blog posts over dinner ... how weird is that?) that mashups aren't just music and video. There are a gazillion Google Maps mashups including mashups with Craigslist and Google Maps -- HousingMaps f'rex -- and mashups with Google maps and Yahoo Traffic like this. Interested? Check out Alan Taylor's Mashup Resources.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

[LOWPAY MKT] Dragons, Knights, and Angels Magazine

Dragons, Knights, and Angels: the magazine of Christian fantasy and science fiction

submission guidelines

In 1999, Rebecca Shelley founded the Dragons, Knights, & Angels (DKA) magazine on the idea that the power of God is the greatest magic of all, and that idea remains at the core of our mission. We are not at all interested in stories that preach, tear down, or indict. Rather, we look for stories and poems that build up the reader and give them opportunity to be better for having read them.

Stories and poems submitted to DKA for publication will be examined first on their merit as works of sci-fi / fantasy / poetry. Works submitted to DKA will also be examined as to how well they entertain, uplift, and enlighten.

DKA is open to edgy stories that explore the fullness of life. However, sexual content, profanity, and other elements that would be considered offensive to the general Christian community must be handled with great care and be essential to the story. Profanity can almost always be omitted, suggested, or implied. Sexual content can almost always be removed or referred to, rather than explicitly stated.

Needs: Fiction and poetry
Prefers <5K wds but will consider works up to 7K wds.

PAYS: $10 for short stories (<1500 wds)
$ 5 for flash fiction (<1500 wds)
$ 5 for poetry

by check or PayPal

Pays on acceptance for one time electronic rights. (... as well as archival rights). No simultaneous submissions.

[hattip to Rebecca Luella Miller]

The Cape Henry, out for a spin


Permanently stationed in San Francisco, the Cape Henry is part of the Ready Reserve Force. Mostly she just hangs around south of here, ready to do what ever needs to be done, should she be asked. Every once in a while, she goes out for a spin, just to make sure all her gears are oiled. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 02, 2006

[LOWPAY MKT] PseudoPod (Horror)

podcast market

PseudoPod submission guidelines

Pseudopod is always looking for quality fiction to feed our listeners. If you're a writer with a horror short story that you'd like to hear narrated by one of our talented performers, we'd like to see it. Probably.

What We Want

Pseudopod is a genre 'zine. We’re looking for horror. We apply a fairly broad definition to "horror," running the spectrum from supernatural horror (Dracula) to realistic horror (Cujo). We're not going to try to pin down the genre's boundaries and hack away at it until there's nothing left. (We'll leave that sort of hacking for your stories.) What matters is that the stories should be dark and they should be entertaining.

PAYS: $20 for short fiction and $10 for flash fiction.

Google Answers

I heard last week that Google Answers is history.

It is.

Luckily Google will be keeping the archives online.

What did them in? Competition. Yahoo! Answers in particular.

Yahoo! harnessed what Google always had, an army of folks willing to answer questions for free. Google charged for their answers. Yahoo doesn't.

Is the quality of answers better? Do you get what you pay for? I don't know.

I am glad, however, that Google Answers is leaving their archive online. I tap into it when I need to.

[PAY MKT] Escape Pod (SFF)

podcast market

Escape Pod submission guidelines

Escape Pod is always looking for quality fiction to feed our listeners. If you're a writer with a speculative short story that you'd like to hear narrated by one of our very nearly talented performers, we'd like to see it. Probably.

What We Want

EP is a genre 'zine. We're looking for science fiction and fantasy. Please don't send us anything that doesn't fit those descriptions. And by the way, we mean SF/F on a level that matters to the plot. Your story about a little boy receiving a balloon before his heart transplant may be touching literature, but it probably isn't something we're interested in, even if you edit it so that the balloon's an alien and the heart came from Satan.

PAYS: $100 for short fiction $20 for flash fiction

Friday, December 01, 2006

Online Personas or somethingorother

As I mentioned in a prior post, we were at a Commonwealth Club meeting 6-8 p.m. yesterday for a panel discussion titled, Online Personas: Defining the Self in a Virtual World. The meat of the panel discussion, of course, didn't live up to the title of the discussion, but it was interesting/entertaining, nonetheless.

Discussants were (as placed L->R up in front)

ROBIN HARPER, Vice President of Community, Second Life
SHAWN GOLD, Vice President of Content and Marketing, MySpace (owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, although that was never mentioned last night)
MARK ZUCKERBERG, Founder and CEO, Facebook
REID HOFFMAN, Founder and CEO, LinkedIn

Or as some wag put it "in order of reality ... from Second Life to LinkedIn."

Moderator was David Ewing Duncan.

The event was sold out and started late as we waited for some folks not to show up so the people on the waiting list could get in.

The average age of the audience hovered around the mid-twenties, I think.

Duncan opened with, "If you could be anyone you wanted in a virtual world, who would you be?"

Harper, Second Life, says she's just herself on Second Life, albeit with a different name. (Duncan mentioned he'd seen someone who was a dragon the night before. Short discussion of avatars. ...) Gold said he'd be Will Rogers and there was some larking around with ... but Will Rogers is dead. Zuckerberg said he didn't know. Duncan tried to cajole him into saying something but no deal. Hoffman says he's himself because LinkedIn depends on people being who they say they are.

Good start, eh?

The discussion ranged. I don't know what I expected but I know I expected something more focussed, some ah-hah! moments, something I could carry around in my head for days after, but no. The following are my notes from the evening.
  • [chitchat before panel] Sony lady mentioned in previous post talked about eacademy, which she says is a UK social networking application where you add twenty things that you're interested in that other people might search to find people with similar interests. ("Like, for me, maybe 'travel', 'cooking' ..." "You mean like tags?" said one of the twenty-somethings nearby, listening in, helpfully. "What are 'tags'?" Sony lady asked.)

    So I've been searching to try to find this UK app named something like eacademy (I even asked her if that was the way to spell it and she said yes). I've searched eacademy and e-academy and /UK social networking/ and all sorts of other things. Did find an interesting San Francisco-based app called bebo that I'll check out later. The search for eacademy, though, was a bust. If anyone knows anything about it, give me a shout.

  • [chitchat before panel] Sony lady again (iirc) said that the highest rated YouTube vids seem to clock in at about 22 seconds. Be interesting to know if this is a true factoid. I'm wondering if YouTube users in general aren't looking for meat and potatoes and are looking for amusing quick takes. Maybe.

  • "network" (as in "social network") was a term coined by social anthropologist J.A. Barnes back in 1954 when he studied a small fishing community in Norway. He wrote that the maximum number of nodes in an effective network tends to be about 140-150, which, amazingly enough, is the average number of "friends" people seem to have on Facebook.

  • MySpace is #4 on the most busiest sites list. Facebook is #7.

  • Second Life has 1.7-2m users.

  • Facebook started out covering the students at Zuckerberg's school. Then students from other higher ed campuses wanted in, so he recruited his roommate to help out. After hooking up the college campuses, they turned to high schools. Then friends started graduating, so they added companies and regions. (Zuckerberg dropped out Harvard somewhere in the midst of all that.)

  • LinkedIn has 8m users. Facebook 12m. (I found that last stat myself 'cause I was curious.)

  • Average age of users: SecondLife - 32; MySpace 18-25; Facebook 21-27 21-22; LinkedIn 39.

  • There are thousands of smaller social networking sites out there, including sneakerplay, a site dedicated to folks who are "avid sneaker enthusiasts, collectors, artists, designers, boutique owners, and photographers." (Invite only)

  • Social networking is all about relationship maintenance. Make it easy to keep in touch, get back in touch.

  • Zuckerberg says Facebook is not looking so much for users to spend loads of time on the site. They do want users to come back again and again, daily, multiple times during the day. Zuckerberg claims Facebook has a 60% retention rate, which he defines as people coming back to the site again and again and again, daily, not just signing up and checking in once a month.

  • Facebook is now 50% college age but all age brackets are at 60% retention rate.

  • Gold says MySpace was allzasudden getting lots of 38-year-olds signing up and they couldn't figure it out until they realized ah-hah! these were folks heading to or coming back from their twentieth high school reunions.

  • Harper says they analyze their users stats and have found that the top 10% of their users are using SecondLife an average of eighty-four (that's 84!) hours a week. You have to remember, though, she says, that some people are making a living, a real living, on SecondLife.

  • MySpace gets ~ 320K new members a day.

  • Gold claims that MySpace looked at what Friendster was doing wrong when they went about designing MySpace. e.g. Friendster was booting people off who were setting up Fakester profiles. MySpace encourages people to do whatever they'd like with their profiles, even [gasp] fib, if that's what they want to do.

  • Gold said that MySpace is 99.93% pure and that a few bad apples are acting up. They are working on the problem. They are trying to educate folks about what it means to put all that information out there in public. He tells people to tell their teenagers that they want to have the Web address for their MySpace page and give them twenty-four hours to clean up anything they wouldn't like their parents to see.

  • Gold said MySpace took about a month for initial development. Zuckerberg said Facebook took far less time than that.

And that's about all I cared to write down. Some of the stories and stats were interesting. (84 hrs/week ?!??)

Fun to see Mark Zuckerberg in person and sitting next to and in such sharp contrast to Reid Hoffman. Robin Harper was nothing like I expected. I don't know what I expected.

Shawn Gold, btw, is dead cute and funny. Sharp. Mark Zuckerberg seems sharp and smart and incredibly shy up in front of a crowd of people, answering questions posed by a moderator. Reid Hoffman was about as far toward the business side of things as Robin Harper was toward the opposite.

Update: SFGate/Chron Tech Chronicle writeup.

Fun evening. The Q&A took far longer than expected. We were set free for wine and noshies about 7:55 p.m. We had a dinner reservation at Palio at 8 p.m. and had to forego the schmooze, networking and wine to hoofie over to Palio, alas. We were at Palio by 8:10 p.m. and settled in for a simple, delish dinner.

World AIDS Day 2006

No, we're not celebrating HIV/AIDS. Today is the day to gen up on the subject.


Nearly 40 million people worldwide live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, 2.6 million more than in 2004. Sub-Saharan Africa remains worst hit with 24.7 million people infected.

Of the 2.9 million global deaths from AIDS last year, 2.1 million occurred in Africa, U.N. figures show.
[ref: Reuters]

5.7m people are infected in India.

5.5m (almost 19%) of South Africans have HIV/AIDS. 600-800 people a day die of AIDS in South Africa.

A couple years back I heard Stephen Lewis, the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, give a talk at AAAS. No, not "a talk," a call to arms.

Lewis told of grandparents taking care of their underaged grandchildren because all of their children have died of AIDS. What happens when the grandparents, or whatever other adults have been handling that foster role, die? What is happening to sub-Saharan Africa as it loses its adult population to this disease and its children are raising themselves and each other?

Lewis railed against those who aren't part of the solution, smarmy tokenism and gender inequality at the AIDS 2006 conference in Toronto, August 2006. [~30 min]

Lewis is leaving his post this month. What then? Who?

Learn more.

[WR] Characters

in re the dooces of the world and my comment, "She'd make a great character in a book," someone commented,

And as a character, such a one wouldn't interest me much. Not unless they had something else going on, and the blogging was just a quirk.

I wasn't thinking of the bloggers as blogging characters but as characters, characters who don't necessarily blog but who have a certain personality, the personality that's shining through on the blog.

Folks on m.w and elsewhere strike me in a similar fashion. Not to mention any names, of course.

That's part of why I like the WWWorld out there. There are people and personalities I would never have experienced otherwise, folks I never would've met up with or talked to IRL -- the braggarts, the drug cases, the nuts, the folks who can quote Nietzsche (or can merely spell his name) without having to look it up, the self-involved editors with their ups and downs, the folks with hearts as big as Texas, engineers who sing a capella, legal secretaries who write torrid romances and all those sorts.

My insular engineer-techie sort of world and my insular Telegraph Hill-dwelling world don't really intersect with the down-and-out folks down on Market Street, f'rex, unless I make a conscious effort to do so, and even then we don't necessary connect and have a conversation.

You meet a whole different sort of character standing in line to pay your phone bill at the phone office than you ever meet at a Commonwealth Club meeting.

You meet a wide variety of folks on Muni. Well, maybe not meet them, but certainly see them in action.

Plus it's fun to make up stories about people you just catch a glimpse of.

In the WWWorld, you don't even have to talk with folks to get an idea of what makes them tick, or to see enough of them that you can bounce off that to a character who acts a certain way because of their background or personality or history. You can read their blogs, follow comments they make on other peoples' blogs, watch their antics in Usenet newsgroups or other networks.

We were at a Commonwealth Club meeting 6-8 p.m. yesterday (more on that perhaps later) that was a panel discussion: Online Personas: Defining the Self in a Virtual World, although, of course, the reality was very different from the proposed subject. Participants were

SHAWN GOLD, Vice President of Content and Marketing, MySpace
ROBIN HARPER, Vice President of Community, Second Life
REID HOFFMAN, Founder and CEO, LinkedIn
MARK ZUCKERBERG, Founder and CEO, Facebook

The event was sold out. The average age hovered around the mid-twenties, I think.

The woman next to me was up from LA, worked for Sony (she said) worrying about international distribution of Sony product, was interested in exploring the people and content available in online networks and working up some proposal for Fox (she said), had a son who was interested in film and looking at film schools (she said), and so on.

She also had never heard of Brookers, although she had seen Carson Daly speak and knew he was interested in all this online community/networking stuff that she was claiming an interest in. ... and she'd only heard of mashups like a day or two before. And you have a seventeen-year-old? I thought, and have a job in the entertainment industry and are interested in all this stuff? I thought.

We decided she was a real-life avatar. Sure she'd flown up from LA. Sure she worked for Sony. Sure she had a college-applying teenage son.

She'd never heard of mashups? She'd never heard of Brookers? Who was this in-the-belly-of-the-cutting-edge-creative-beast person? Really, I mean. Was she who she said she was and just did not pay attention or was she something/someone else altogether?

Shawn Gold, btw, is dead cute and funny. Sharp. Mark Zuckerberg seems sharp and smart and incredibly shy up in front of a crowd of people, answering questions posed by a moderator. Reid Hoffman was about as far toward the business side of things as Robin Harper was toward the opposite. But more on all that later.

As we were walking to dinner (more on that too), we commented that there'd been no discussion of avatars IRL, but perhaps there should've been.

[LOWPAY MKT] Aaarrrrgh. Shimmer Magazine's Pirate Issue (Summer 2007)

Shimmer Magazine's Pirate Issue call for submissions

The MS Shimmer has been captured by the Dred Pirate John Joseph Adams, first-mate of the Fantasy & Science Fiction. For the Summer 2007 issue, our pages will be filled with pirate stories. What better way to celebrate National Talk Like a Pirate Day?

What kind of pirates? All kinds — fantasy, science fiction, contemporary, historical, futuristic, high seas, deep space — if it’s got pirates and it’s speculative fiction, Captain Adams wants it. The usual Shimmer guidelines apply, but with pirates.

Bring us your pirate stories for Summer 2007, the Pirate Issue.

Submission porthole: December 1, 2006-January 31, 2007.

Submission guidelines

PAYS: $0.01/wd. Minimum $10. Maximum $30.
BUYS: First Serial rts & electronic rts.

[BLOG] dooce redux

From the comments: Good god, I can't stand Dooce. I'm surprised you like her. She's so whiny and boring--all that momminess, ugh! One of my other blogpeeps mentioned her latest kerfuffle with a publishing company she wigged out on. But Dooce is always the victim, wah wah.

That's it! That's where I'd found her and why I'd stashed the link away.

Miss Snark wrote about the dooce vs. Kensington kerfuffle back in October and I toddled over back then to look at the blog and blogline'd the link. Hadn't been back until yesterday.

The kerfuffle, for those just joining us, had Kensington offering Heather a two-book contract late last year and Heather accepting. After months of negotiating as to the details of the contract, Heather refused to sign the dotted line last May after her legal representative told Kensington the contract was a go because the editor Heather'd been expecting to have at Kensington was leaving the company. Oh, there was more to it than that. Heather said the negotiating took too long. She was upset that they hadn't told her the editor was planning to leave. &c. and so forth.

Kensington said they had an oral agreement to a contract and were just working out the details. Heather said they had no contract at all until she signed. Kensington sued.

Great and gory gobs ensued.

Heather wound up settling and agreeing to edit an anthology of some sort for Kensington while she took her whatever she'd planned for them elsewhere.

Maya Reynolds wrote what I'd been thinking about the Kensington episode in a clearer fashion:

My first reaction upon reading Heather's post was to shake my head. She seems to have no understanding that a verbal agreement negotiated by your duly appointed legal representative is a binding agreement. Then it occurred to me. Why should she?

As near as I can tell from her blog, Heather's professional experience in the working world was limited to the period between her graduation from college in 1997 to her firing from her job in 2002. Five years as a graphic artist/web designer. While I can't state this with certainty, she appears to have tumbled into her career as an "author" in the same impulsive way she began blogging--and with similar consequences.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'd wandered back to the blog yesterday, not remembering why I'd saved the link to it to begin with.

The blog's quirky and entertaining to me. I like reading her view as a used-to-was LDS living in Salt Lake City. (Has she been officially excommunicated? If so, why is her family still hanging out with her? Naughty! You're supposed to shun excommunicated members whether they're family or not.)

Heather reminds me of another Heather I know (Hi, Heather!) in that she is an unabashedly self-centered navel gazer who's wound up goo-gaw over her daughter. The Heather I know is less teetering-edge frail and neurotic in the head. (November 28th, f'rex, dooce wrote about her over-the-top worrying.)

Both Heathers write entertainingly about their it's-all-about-me! lives. Well, dooce does. My other Heather seems to be too busy with the now-two-years-old (or is it three-years-old by now) baby to keep her blog going. We're waiting, Heather. ...

Heck, Paula. I wouldn't want to live dooce's life -- drama exhausts me -- and I certainly wouldn't want to be the one she calls when she drops her marshmallow in the fire and wants someone to rescue it, but I like her voice, her out-there-ed-ness.

She'd make a great character in a book.

Say .......