: views from the Hill

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Better late than never.

Last May, in honor of its one-year anniversary, The Rap Sheet organized The Rap Sheet's ONE BOOK PROJECT.

We invited more than 100 crime novelists, book critics, and bloggers from all over the English-speaking world to choose the one crime/mystery/thriller novel that they thought had been "most unjustly overlooked, criminally forgotten, or underappreciated over the years."

Interesting list. Steve Hockensmith, author of Holmes on the Range and On the Wrong Track, nominates THE DOORBELL RANG (1965) by Rex Stout and explains why. J.D. Rhoades, lawyer, blogger, and author of Safe and Sound nominates Katy Munger's MONEY TO BURN [1999]. Linda Fairstein, author of Bad Blood, chose Robert Traver's ANATOMY OF A MURDER.

... and the list goes on.

If you're a crime fiction fan, this list will keep you in reading material for a long, long time.

[via The Rap Sheet]

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Greenspan sees early signs of U.S. stagflation

Greenspan must really miss not having everyone hang on his every word now that he's not Fed Chair and Bernanke's doing what Bernanke thinks needs doing to offset the subprime meltdown that's happening (and all the dominos falling after) because of decisions made on Greenspan's watch.

Doesn't seem to be a week go by when I don't see "Greenspan says" "Greenspan sees" headlines.

Who really cares what Greenspan sees or says. He's outta there.

What's Bernanke going to do is the question.

Greenspan sees early signs of U.S. stagflation

Terry Pratchett news.


I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".

continues ...

Sunday, December 09, 2007


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Louise Bourgeois' Crouching Spider was put in place on the Embarcadero last month. I haven't had a chance to stop by and take a photograph but see it from the car window on my way home from out of town and pass it some times when my camera's not at hand.

What a lovely and intense piece.

This photo courtesy of Darwin Bell / (some rights reserved)

Liked the angle of his shot. I'll replace this photo with one of my own when I can.

Wine hos

Met a couple at the Slow Food crab fest at the County Building in Golden Gate Park a week ago yesterday. We were all taking the N-Judah home and they asked if we'd like to stop off for a glass of wine before catching the next N-Judah and continuing home. We said sure, and continued the fun we'd been having at the fest.

As a result of the evening, they invited us to the Wine Hos Winter Soiree, which was being held at their place in the Lower Haight last night. The Wine Hos meet monthly to try out wines. Their December meeting is one which they can invite friends or chance-met acquaintances to. The host provides snacks and the wine. The attendees split the cost of the wine.

Last night's wingding was champagne-focused with sparkling cocktails and snacks after. Five champagnes tasted. Costs ranged from $24/bottle to something like $70. We had about eighteen people and ten bottles ... so the shared cost was reasonable.

One of the hosts put together a sheet with the five champagnes listed on one side and on the other side a description of each. Except the descriptions were not necessarily next to the champagne they described. (One of the descriptions: "This one has the violet scent of Pernand-Vergelesses; oh man, even with no dosage this is jail-bait wine, more vinous and "serious" than '04; sappier and, um, fuller-bodied. She said she was 18, your honor.")

Our task was to match a champagne to its description. I got five out of five and felt like I'd survived a major exam. I also felt like I learned something about champagne at the same time in a congenial atmosphere.

The sparkling cocktails were great. The snacks were delish. The white elephant present exchange was a stitch. (We didn't bring a white elephant present because we had nothing in the house to offer. With space at a premium, we tend to take anything we don't need or love to the Goodwill post haste.)

We met interesting people, including a couple of regular wine hos who live about a hundred steps further down the hill from us (Small world!) and an adorable five-month-old Chihuahua named Jolene.

Brilliant evening. Loads of fun. Exhausted by the time we walked up the hill home.

Thanks for the invite!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Welcome to FoodieBytes - eat something new

Welcome to FoodieBytes - eat something new

Choose your city (Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, DC) and fill in "what" you are looking to eat.

Choose "San Francisco"
Enter: foie gras

Read entries for 142 (mas o menos) restaurants that serve foie gras in San Francisco (mostly, found one listed in Larkspur). Some restaurants are listed multiple times for multiple items on the menu. Brief (lunch, appetizer, &c.) indication of where on the menu, brief detail ("with stone fruit mostarda and cornbread") and a click to View Menu.

Don't know how current the menus are as the listings included an entry for Monte Cristo which died a while back.

[via Eater SF]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Away, back, and what we did there.

We've been gone on a short run-away that started Sunday morning when we left for an AIWF crab feed at the Silverado Brewing Company, outside St. Helena.

The menu consisted of wine, beer, bubbly, and a plate each with salad, bread, and pasta plus a portion of hot Dungeness crab, followed by another piece of hot crab and another and another until they had to toss us out of there because another party had the banquet room booked. Cookies for dessert.

At some point when we were wrist deep in cracked crab, Michael Fradelizio, owner and operator, gave his impassioned pitch about how for seven years he's been running the brewing company, a restaurant that eschews hydrogenated fat and serves free-range chicken and Niman Ranch all-natural meats, how he spent time and effort to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from the premises (including having to find substitutes for bottled catsup and the like) and how he wouldn't serve his patrons anything that he wouldn't serve his family.

His food was great. I loved his attitude. The crab was delish with a peppery finish.

From Silverado Brewing, we headed a short piece north to Calistoga, and checked into our room. Later, we walked down Lincoln Avenue as we browsed on our way to dinner, sticking our noses into shops, checking menus posted outside restaurants, staying a spell at Copperfield's, where we bought a book, natch.

We wanted to eat somewhere we hadn't before. We chose Pacifico Restaurante Mexicano (1237 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga) because his nibs wanted a light supper after all the crab. Hah. His chicken mole included half a chicken under the mole sauce. My chile rellenos was also a healthy, tasty dish. We were ready to snooze.

Next morning we headed off to Santa Rosa to meet up with old friends for lunch at Monti's (prime rib sandwich, yum!) after which we off-loaded sixteen boxes of books from our car into their van for delivery to the Point Arena Library.

Book exchange complete, we headed upland to Fort Bragg. (101 to Dry Creek Road, past Lake Sonoma

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to Stewarts Point and then up 1 to Fort Bragg) The weather was windy and rainy. The road was windy. At one point on Skaggs Spring Rd/Stewarts Point Rd we stopped the car and his nibs got out to help some locals who were using their chain saw to take a fallen tree out of the road.

"Those County guys just sitting up there in their truck with their flashers on?"

The "County guys" eventually joined the group that was busy dragging branches and stumps off the road. One of them stood and watched. The other dragged a couple branches then stood and watched as well. They claimed to have no chain saw themselves. Said they were waiting for another County truck to arrive with a chain saw. ... Eventually, the guy with the chain saw busted his saw as the fallen tree slipped down the bank. Luckily a lane's-width of the road was clear and with an "after you" "no, after you" the cars and trucks made their ways through the gap and off to their destinations.

We arrived at our B&B (The Country Inn Bed and Breakfast) on Main Street in Fort Bragg in the pouring rain, after five. We carried our bag in and settled in for a bit before heading off to dinner at Mendo Bistro, our reason for going to Fort Bragg in the first place. We drove to dinner even though the distance was only about four blocks because the rain was savage and we didn't want to get soaked.

Mendo Bistro is open seven days a week from 5-9 p.m. upstairs at the Company Store, Main and Redwood. We showed up some time after six and ordered. When we saw Nicholas Petti come up the stairs, we asked our server to tell him we wanted to talk with him.

"Hi," he said.
"Hi, I'm Sal," I said just as Nicholas was saying, "You're Sal."

I'd warned him we were coming back again and had promised we'd snag him this time so he'd know the face of the person he'd exchanged e-mails with. We chatted for a bit as we were scarfing up his crab cakes. Oh, those crab cakes ...

Turned out we'd lucked into the first evening Nicholas'crab cakes had been on his menu this season.

Delish, delish, delish. Fat, soft, 99% crab, served with a light tarragon aioli and a vinegary tart cabbage salad. The crab cake ingredients are simply crab, a bit of bread crumbs (not much) and finely-chopped green onions with the tarragon aioli to hold everything together. We both started with crab cakes.

His nibs had Grilled Venison Leg with Chestnut Spaetzle and Cranberry Sauce. The spaetzle reminded me that I make spaetzle far too seldom. Spaetzle is comfort food for his nibs. The cranberry sauce was a smooth, not chunky, sauce with what might have been five-spice seasoning. Tasty. I had the special which was chicken stuffed with wild mushroms with a wild mushroom sauce. The chicken was juicy and flavorful. Delish. Both entrees came with seasonal vegetables. Mine had mashed potatoes. Takes a brave chef to put brussel sprouts on a plate. We happen to love brussel sprouts. We had a bottle of the Costa Vineyards Pinot Noir (MB serves only local county wines) with dinner.

For dessert, I chose a small glass of Esterlina port because I tend to get headaches if I eat sweet desserts after having wine with dinner. His nibs opted, with my encouragement, for the Candy Cap Mushroom Creme Brulee with Spicy Chocolate Bark. After one snitched taste from his serving, I kicked myself for deciding to have port instead of ordering the creme brulee. The dessert was perfect -- a rich, smooth custard topped with burnt sugar, which you'd expect, but the addition of the Candy Cap mushrooms gave the dessert a subtle mapley-wintery-earthy taste that's hard to describe.

This Is A Dessert Worthy Of Five Stars.

And Nicholas Petti was even nicer than he needed to be.

Next morning, our innkeeper served us coffee, squeezed orange juice and a breakfast frittata with slices of cantaloupe alongside. The frittata was excellent, a nice blend of bread, egg, sausage, apple and cinnamon. She served the frittata with a small jug of maple syrup, but honestly, it was sweet enough all on its own.

After breakfast, we headed north in the fog with me freaking out as we rounded curves on the highway at the edge of the coast. As the road got narrower, we turned around and came back to Fort Bragg through Inglenook and Cleone and then on to Caspar and Caspar South and the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse where we stopped a spell

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and walked down to the restored Point Cabrillo lighthouse

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and chatted with the volunteer there, then up to the museum in a former assistant lightkeeper's house.

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The folks who restored and run the lighthouse and museum rent out one of the lightkeeper's houses if you want to be away from it all. Not cheap, but what a getaway that would be!

From Point Cabrillo, we carried on to the Mendocino Headlands and Little River Beach and Big River Beach, then circled back to Mendocino for some holiday shopping. I found the perfect gift for one of our giftees.

We rested up a bit at the Country Inn before we headed out to dinner. The question was, did we want to eat elsewhere or were the crab cakes and Candy Cap mushroom creme brulee calling too loudly?

We walked into town, stopping in at the North Coast Brewing Company to sample some of their wares. Tuesday was $1 taco night and the tacos did smell yummy. The place was full of locals -- a gang of six guys who seemed to be grabbing a dinner after work, two older couples, a couple sets of young couples. A guy at the bar had three glasses of Old Rasputin in front of him as he read MERCHANT OF DEATH. (Three glasses isn't really =that= many as 10 oz is the largest glass of Old Rasputin they'll serve.)

But in the end we couldn't resist returning to Mendo Bistro. We both, again, had crab cakes for an appetizer. We both had the Candy Cap mushroom creme brulee for dessert. This evening, though, his nibs opted for the fish of the evening (yellowfin, iirc), grilled, with Dijon-Tarragon Cream. I had the Braised Short Ribs served with Root Vegetable Hash and brussel sprouts. We shared a bottle of Navarro Pinot Noir. Neither of us was disappointed with our choices. Far from it. We have not had anything but tasty food at Mendo Bistro and Nicholas serves up healthy portions as well. Yummy. Good value. Worth a trip north.

The next morning at the Country Inn, our innkeeper served baked eggs on a bed of artichoke hearts with sourdough toast and garlic-rosemary country-fried potatoes with coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice.

I heartily recommend the Country Inn. Our room was comfortable and clean. If we'd wanted to indulge, there's a hot tub out on the deck. It's a short walk to the center of town and (of course) Mendo Bistro. The breakfasts were superb. We took advantage of the Inn's special which we found on the Web: book two nights Sunday through Thursday and your room (without a fireplace) is $50/night. Wow.

We drove straight home on Wednesday because we had to be somewhere at 4:30p. -- straight across 20 to Willits and then down 101 to San Francisco. Total time, including a stop for gasoline, three and a half hours.

Why don't we do this more often?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Fluther: What is Fluther?

Fluther: What is Fluther?

Cute Overload! :)

Cute Overload! :)

The wonders of the Web. Why, I was just off reading In Praise of Sardines and Brett mentioned Cute Overload and I clicked through.

The world is cracked, you know? A bit of cute might help mend things.

Or not.

Monday, November 26, 2007

TechShop: Build Your Dreams Here

His nibs went down to Palo Alto today to help MHP get some "stuff" out of his basement and delivered to TechShop in Menlo Park, a Maker's dreamland, a burner's heaven.

Never heard of TechShop?

TechShop is a fully-equipped open-access workshop and creative environment that lets you drop in any time and work on your own projects at your own pace. It is like a health club with tools and equipment instead of exercise equipment...or a Kinko's for geeks.

TechShop was founded in 2006 by Jim Newton, a lifetime maker, veteran BattleBots builder and former MythBuster.

TechShop is located in Menlo Park, California, on the San Francisco peninsula 25 miles south of San Francisco.
Anyone can come in and build and make all kinds of things themselves using the TechShop tools, machines and equipment, and draw on the TechShop instructors and experts to help them with their projects. TechShop is designed for everyone, regardless of their skill level. TechShop is perfect for inventors, "makers", hackers, tinkerers, artists, roboteers, families, entrepreneurs, youth groups, FIRST robotic teams, arts and crafts enthusiasts, and anyone else who wants to be able to make things that they dream up but don't have the tools, space or skills.

If this sounds like your piece of heaven, TechShop is open 9A->midnight, seven days a week.

Cost: Daily pass:$30 Monthly pass:$100 Annual pass:$1200 (except they're having a sale just now.) The Annual and Monthly passes allow you to reserve time on specific pieces of equipment. The Annual pass allows you to reserve equipment up to two weeks in advance. The Monthly pass allows you to reserve equipment up to a day in advance. If you buy a multiple-months pass, you can reserve equipment for multiple days in advance. e.g. If you buy a five-month pass, you can reserve equipment up to five days in advance. If you buy a seven-month pass, you can reserve equipment up to seven days in advance.

TechShop gives classes on how to use the equipment. Some pieces of equipment =require= you to take a class before you are allowed to use the equipment.

Check it out.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Full moon tomorrow

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The not-quite-full moon rising over Berkeley. The setting sun reflecting on the windows in the East Bay. The Admin building on Treasure Island in deepening shadow. The Vallejo Larkspur ferry heading up to Vallejo Larkspur, jam-packed, I'm sure, with all those Vallejans Larkspurans who conscientiously came in to work today.

(Well, I =think= it's probably the Larkspur ferry. The Vallejo ferry appears from pictures found on the Web to be a much zippier and larger boat.)

The Farmer's Almanac has a list of full moon names and their meanings.

Another Embarcadero Center Lights shot

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Just a (late!) reminder: Today is the fifteenth annual Buy Nothing Day.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Let the wild rumpus begin!

I'd asked my younger sib if he could get his magical children to pull the names out of the Christmas gift hat soon, and he said, "Can it wait until Thursday?" (Thanksgiving at his house!)

I guess it must, but we noticed on our way home from the Dissident Chef's truffle dinner on Friday that the Embarcadero Center's lights are on, which means the wild rumpus has begun!

I told the younger sib that I'd probably just order something for my giftee over the Web. I've never been one to push my way through Union Square crowds to get the most absolutely fabulous gift from one of the trend-o stores. The stores are crowded enough in August. After Thanksgiving they're like heart-palpitation-making -- squeezed -- and I am so not there.

(I have, however, got him the most spectacular, cannot be duplicated without great effort bday gift which he can unwrap at the aforesaid Thanksgiving celebration, as his bday is the following day. ...)

I took the opportunity tonight to shoot a multitude of shots using the various modes on my relatively new Canon PowerShot A570.

The "Night Snapshot" mode captured the building best.

The Lights at the Embarcadero Center: a twenty-year tradition. [Click the photo for the closeup version.]

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San Francisco election results are in!

Department of Elections: Election Summary

100% of votes counted. Results posted 17 Nov 2007. Only ELEVEN DAYS to count the votes!

35.77% voter turnout. Yay, us! (Really, people. That's pathetic.)

Mayor: Gavin Newsom with 73.66% of the vote. Next highest vote getter: Quintin Mecke with 6.33% of the vote. Least highest vote getter: Michael Powers (who?) with .36% of the vote.

(Just kidding ... "Michael Powers, 42, owns the Power Exchange sex club, which welcomes gays, lesbians, heterosexual couples, and bondage and domination devotees - demonstrating, he says in his official campaign statement, "my capacity to embrace every kind of alternative lifestyle and manage multiple environments housed in one totally law-abiding and successful business." That record of embracing tolerance, he said, "guarantees that I will listen to all San Franciscans." [ref: SFGate])

No write-ins at all for mayor. 1.51% write-in for DA. Kamala Harris got the other 98.49% of the vote.

A - passed (55.49) - Transit Reform, Parking Regulation and Emissions Reduction
B - passed (71.21) - Limiting Hold-Over Service on Charter-Created Boards and Commissions
C - passed (68.19) - Requiring Public Hearings on Proposed Measures
D - passed (74.48) - Renewing Library Preservation Fund (Yay! Libraries! They scored even better than Gavin!)
E - failed (51.39) - Requiring Mayor to Appear Monthly at a Board of Supervisors Meeting
F - passed (51.53) - Amending Retirement Benefits for Police Dept. Employees who were Airport Police Officers
G - passed (55.39) - Establishing Golden Gate Park Stables Matching Fund
H - failed (66.95) - Donald Fisher's effort: Regulating Parking Spaces
I - passed (59.14) - Establishing Office Small Business as City Dept. and Creating Small Business Assistance Center
J - passed (62.26) - Adopting a Policy to Offer Free City-Wide Wireless High-Speed Internet Network
K - passed (61.84) - Adopting a Policy to Restrict Advertising on Street Furniture and City Buildings

Can't remember the specifics about the different measures? October 2007 Urbanist newsletter from SPUR has great and gory details on the different measures that were up for vote. [PDF]


Check out Geoff Manaugh's BLDGBLOG: Architectural Conjecture, Urban Speculation, Landscape Futures.

A plethora of goodies.

Geoff Manaugh has a book (BLDGBLOG) out from Chronicle Books in Spring 2009 and moved to this fair ville in September to become a senior editor at Dwell.

More about Manaugh here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cypresses redux


Another shot of the post-pruning cypresses.

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Click on the picture to get a better look. Some of the parrots were back yesterday to check out the pruned trees. They stayed longer than they usually do before heading off.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

San Francisco Food Bank's 2007 holiday cards

San Francisco Food Bank's 2007 holiday cards are available for purchase over the Web. Three designs are available. The Christmas ornament card drawn by Paul Madonna is my fave.

Go there.

Purchase holiday cards.

Support San Francisco Food Bank

The cypress grove on Telegraph Hill before, during, after.

As promised, befores and afters.

BEFORE: (18 Jul 2004)
[note: added another before: Dec 2003]

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I rummaged through my photo bins to find photos of the trees as they were. These two show the north and south ends of the cypress grove on 18Jul2004. Imagine, if you will, a large clump of green between what these two photographs show.

I obviously didn't take a lot of shots of the trees standing alone.

DURING: (October 2004)

Later that year, in October, a large chunk of tree came down.

In October 2005, another tree was taken out before Mark threw himself between the trees and the tree cutters and successfully halted the project.

We all know the result: a Landmark Tree ordinance. After much negotiation, in February 2007 the City agreed to indemnify the remaining trees' owner from any liability arising from the fact he wasn't allowed to take the "rotten" (his description) trees down.

The City also agreed "to hire a special arborist who has the skill to delicately prune the trees and preserve them for at least three years -- long enough for new ones to grow to shelter the parrots. The two trees are all that remain from what was once a larger grove." [n.b. Three years to grow trees this tall? Really?]

The Northeast San Francisco Conservancy (president: Nancy Shanahan) pledged $5,000 to the City to cover the cost of pruning and care.

BEFORE: (December 2003)

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AFTER: (15 Nov 2007)

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What can we see that's different? (Gee, this is like those picture puzzles: find six ways this picture is different from the ones above.)

In 2004, the cypress grove obstructed the view of most of the green building you can now see to the northeast of the trees. We can now see the tennis courts on top of the Bay Club.

The trees in 2004 were considerably taller than the trees that remain. We have an uninterrupted view of Treasure Island instead of having trees obstructing our views of the northernmost third of the island. We can also see more of Teatro Zinzanni -- those tents down at Pier 29 -- and twice as much of the rooftop of the condo building to the north of the green building.

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I'd taken this shot to show the tidal bore on a very boring day, but it also shows what our view of Treasure Island was in May 2004. That's a whole lot o' tree that's been taken down in the last three years.

I have mixed feelings about all this. I love trees. I miss the green stuff -- I much prefer green stuff to views of the neighbors' roofs -- but I think there was far more agitation over the poor parrots and this privately-owned cypress grove than there needed to be. I think the City spent more time and effort -- when they don't seem to have time to worry about some critical problems -- than the situation warranted. I know Mark loves the parrots and I know he made them famous with his book. If someone had said we should spare the trees, if at all possible, because they're right outside Mark's door and he wants to have the parrots right there, well, I could understand that, but that's not how all the agitation and public spin came down before the City set about changing rules, trimming trees and indemnifying the owner.

"The parrots are fine," I tell worried friends who have read the tales of woe and crisis and parrots. This bit of greenery is not what it was, but the parrots still flock to trees on Telegraph Hill. We still hear them yackyackyack yackyackyack yackyackyackyacking. They still amuse the tourists and scare the cat.

May the flock prosper and increase.

Transbay Blog

Eric, over at Transbay Blog, is running a series of informational posts on the Central Subway, which I've ranted about on occasion here and elsewhere.

Transbay Blog is one of the most focussed, least axe-grinding blogs covering "News and thoughts on public transportation and city planning in the San Francisco Bay Area." If such be your interests, check it out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When I'm 64 ...

Talking with an old friend, well, exchanging e-mails and mentioned that I was feeling old.

His nibs and I'd had dinner a week or so ago with a friend who'd turned eighty in August. Eighty-year-old friend is looking good and, really, looks not that much different than he did when I met him thirty-two years ago. He's involved with crafting little technology whizbang solutions for folks at the VA hospital. He's a Maker. He hasn't slowed down much if any at all. He's just pretty darn cool.

I wrote to the e-mail friend, "I'm seven years older than he was when I first met him. Yikes, I'm feeling old."

Then I found this test: Are you a hippy?

which gave these stats on the folks who had taken the test:

54% of test takers are Male, while 46% are Female.
93% of test takers are under the age of forty, while 7% are over forty.
78% of test takers have hair shorter than 6", while 22% have hair that is longer.
7% of test takers were at Woodstock in 1969, while 93% were not.
[That in itself is astounding when you consider only 15% of the test takers were even =alive= in the 1960s. That means that ~50% of the people taking the test who were alive in the 1960s were at Woodstock. Is that even remotely possible?]
54% of test takers prefer John over George at 12% as their favorite Beatle.
15% of test takers were alive in the 1960's, while 85% were not.
21% of test takers are vegetarians, while 79% are not.
11% of test takers have lived in a commune, while 89% have not.
10% of test takers voted for Ronald Reagan, while 90% did not.
[They forgot to ask how many had even had an opportunity to vote for Ronald Reagan.]

The questions hit me with pangs of nostalgia: "Do you smell like patchouli?" "Do you own an incense burner?" "Do you have a brownie recipe with ingredients you can't find at the A&P?" "Do you think Bob Dylan has a good voice?"

Do you feel old?

Update> and the doorbell rings. By the time I get there, the doorbell ringer is gone, but there's an Amazon package under the doormat. "Thank you!" I call. "You're welcome," comes the reply from down the path. The package contained a couple books and Kristofferson's latest.

Earlier this month we'd been at the Fillmore for an AIM benefit. I was reminded again how much I like his words and his voice. A few days ago I put an order in and here it was. I put my new purchase into the CD player. First song was the title song, This Old Road.

Yeah, feeling old. And that's okay. Kristofferson, after all, is only ten years younger than our eighty-year-old friend and he's still kickin'.

The Fallon House (reprise)

I've written about the Fallon House before but because the folks over at Flickr's GUESSWHERESF photo pool asked, I'll gather together the loose threads.

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The house that Carmel built, The Fallon House at 1800 Market St, across the street from Destino, home to the best Pisco sours in the City.

The Fallon House was named for Carmel Fallon, his nibs' grandmother's grandmother.

Family history is there on the site.

Carmel Lodge Fallon grew up outside Santa Cruz on her mother's Mexican land grant. Rancho Soquel included land from the Santa Cruz Mountains ridgeline to the sea, from Santa Cruz to Watsonville. Martina Castro Lodge lost it all within years of the American influx. She divvied up the grant amongst her children, including Carmel, sold off the rest (with her much younger third husband as witness to the transaction) and years later died penniless and crazed.

Simon Cota, Carmel Lodge Fallon's father, died when she was a toddler. Carmel's mother, Martina Castro, then married Michael Lodge, whose last name Carmel adopted.

Carmel was the classic spinster rich girl who fell for the dashing Irish adventurer Thomas Fallon. They married and raised a family. The children died of cholera and they moved to San Jose (where Fallon had raised the Bear Flag many years earlier) to raise another family. Carmel, never an easy keeper, wound up whacking Fallon over the head (with what is sometimes called a fireplace tool, sometimes a lead pipe) when she found him in "a compromising position" with the housekeeper/dressmaker/maid some twenty-seven years into the marriage.

Carmel left San Jose and Tom and with her younger unmarried children in tow resettled in San Francisco, where she used her divorce settlement to become a business woman and landlord, owning and operating the Hotel Carmel and the Fallon Hotel.

Carmel never remarried. She built the house at 1800 Market Street and lived in it until her death. Family legend has it that she was up beating out embers on the roof, helping save the building from the fires after the 1906 quake and that for the rest of her life she suffered from "weak lungs" due to smoke inhalation. She did save the house, though. Her house was the first house left standing and unburnt on Market Street after the earthquake and fire.

Carmel Lodge Fallon was in her nineties when she died. Her great-grandson, his nibs' father, could remember visiting his great-grandmother when he was young. She wasn't your warm, cuddly great-grandmother but rather a dour old woman, dressed in black.

One of the children Carmel brought with her to San Francisco, Isabella (Belle) Fallon, married Nathaniel Jones Brittan of the City. His father, John Wesley Brittan, had been a young hardware store clerk in New York until the hardware store owner had the brill idea to send his young clerk out to California shortly after the Gold Rush with a shipload of hardware supplies to sell to the 49ers.

JW Brittan sold out all the supplies he'd brought, kept his share of the profits and settled in the City, bringing more hardware on other ships around the Horn. He made a good living selling hardware, pans and pick axes to the gold miners and hinges, door knockers and nails to the San Franciscans.

NJ Brittan and Belle had three children, a set of twins Natalie and Belle, and Carmelita, his nibs' grandmother. The girls were raised for the most part down the peninsula on NJ Brittan's Rancho San Carlos. NJ's name and the ranch are entwined in the history of what eventually became San Carlos. You can still see Brittan Avenue and streets named after Belle and Carmelita (but not Natalie, why?) from when the ranch was subdivided and sold.

As was the case with many of the Brittan and Fallon holdings, there were squabbles over rights and inheritances. Lawsuits and lawyers ate up what money and property there was. The Fallon House in San Francisco was sold to honor a pledge Carmel Fallon had made to the San Francisco Opera -- but only after the Opera had to sue Carmel's estate.

Eventually, and appropriately enough -- our older son's gay -- Carmel's house became San Francisco's LGBT Community Center.

And there ends a short history of Carmel Fallon's house at 1800 Market.

Morning fog blows in

Clear as a bell here since before sunrise. The fog, though, she's blowing in.

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Update>And just as quickly gone. Clear, sunny day. And I have fish to fry. Back later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tree trimming ... and it isn't even Christmas!

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Talk about a job I wouldn't want! I can't even stand at the edge of the roof without getting shaky knees.

Tree trimmers are trimming the trees down the hill from us, trees which caused such political uproar a year ago or so and resulted in new rules regarding tree cutting on private property. Siblings of the trees were taken out three years ago. These remaining trees are supposed to remain in place and be taken care of until they can't be maintained. The City's indemnified the owner from any lawsuits that might arise should the trees topple over or break a limb.

The guy up in the tree checks his knots frequently. He has an ally on the roof of the building just east of the trees and an ally on the ground, who is cutting the fallen branches with a chain saw. The guy in the tree has done most of his work with a tree saw on a long pole but just now switched to a chain saw.

Earlier today, the neighborhood e-mail list flashed with a "someone's cutting the cypresses" note, followed by a note from Mark Bittner that the cutting was all in order.

The neighbors are watching. The parrots are sitting on someone's railing to get a better view of what's going on because their usual tree perch doesn't have a good line of sight for the trees being trimmed.

When allz done, I'll post before and afters.

Update: Gone for the day. Ropes still in trees.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What we see from the hill

His nibs said, look at ... that ... those vehicles going into Pier 29 ...

What is that all about?

Oh, OK.

Ballots were taken from polling places to Pier 29 for preliminary processing.


Pier 29? Why there?

Fine. Those are the tail lights we're seeing.

Election results will begin pouring in at 8:30 p.m.

Final counts will be posted by

... oh, two weeks from now.

All the absentee ballots and those cast "early" at City Hall will be counted and released by 8:30 p.m. Those that were cast at the polls today? Well, there's this problem, see?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main

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Lovely sailboat out on the Bay this afternoon.

We're off to the Fillmore in a shake to see Kristofferson and Kitaro, Taj Mahal, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, San Francisco Taiko Dojo, Peter Coyote and Charlie Hill for the Longest Walk II. Maybe Buffy Saint-Marie, another writeup shows her on the lineup too and not Kitaro. Well, remains to be seen. I'm there for Kristofferson.

The Consumerist: Shoppers Bite Back

Entertaining blog with news tidbits.

The Consumerist: Shoppers Bite Back

You can find such gems as a post about Batter Blaster:

Occasionally we see products that make us wonder how we got to this late day without them. "Batter Blaster" (which is pancake batter in a Cheese Whiz or Redi Whip bottle) is one such product.

Will we be buying this? No. Are we happy the it exists? Yeah. Actually, we are.

I think the product's an abomination (How hard is it to add water to your Krusteaz mix?) but about half the comments are in a "hell-yeah, I've been waiting for something like this" vein.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Magnitude 4.0 - WYOMING

Magnitude 4.0 - WYOMING

Just saying ...

Views from the Hill: Look! Up in the sky!

It's a bird. It's a plane.

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It's the MetLife blimp!

The sellingest album of all time ...

That can't be true, can it?

This article claims, "The Eagles Greatest Hits, 1971-1975 was released just four years after the band debuted. It has now sold more records than any album in history, including Thriller."

[via grapes2dot0, who was more interested in the story on Winslow, AZ, still cadging drinks thirty-five years later off their one brief bit of fame in 1972.]

Fan mail from Harold Hoogasian. Gmail thinks it's SPAM!

Look what dropped into my Gmail in-box this morning! Fan mail from Harold Hoogasian. Where he got the e-addr he used to send this is a question. The Gmail account mainly funnels everything @towse.com (except sal, sally, self, &c.) to a common address. So how did he get the master topsecrethushhushhush Gmail address?

Did I put it on my voter registration? If so, OH NO!

Herewith the nice note. I found it in my spam folder because Gmail automagically decided it fit the MO. [Update:Finagled a copy to insert with all the bells and whistles.] Here it is in all its glory!

From: Harold <campaign@unplugthemachine.org>
Date: Nov 2, 2007 1:30 AM

To: harold@hoogasian.com

Would you want Gavin Newsom to date your daughter or friend?

Would you socialize with someone who sleeps with a friend's wife?

Would you employ someone who can't plan a Halloween party in 364 days?

Would you vote for a candidate who refuses to debate his opponents?

I certainly wouldn't!

Does Delancey Street have an "outpatient" program? NO!

When Newsom admitted his substance problem, he disclosed that he would get "counseling" from Mimi Silbert (President of Delancey Street Foundation). The problem is that Delancey Street does not offer drop-in or outpatient counseling.

When John Burton was strung out on drugs and alcohol, he quit congress.

Gavin Newsom should have taken a hint from John Burton and resigned as Mayor.

Newsom's fling with his friend's wife was also a fling with an employee of the City.

How much is that going to cost the Taxpayers?

We know the Mayor is alleged to have paid the wronged husband,

But how much was paid to the Consort?

Is this the kind of judgment we want in a Chief Executive?

Cancelled Halloween cost
Lost wages, tips and income in the Castro!

Wages and overtime for 1000 police officers.

Another term as mayor is too much to pay.

The Halloween in the Castro is a tradition for over 30 years.

Calling it off for a questionable leader's re-election was an abuse of power.

If you think that we need a change,

Don't vote for an Adulterous, Drunken Golden Boy!

Don't chose corruption and waste!

A vote for Harold Hoogasian will clean up City Hall!

A vote for Harold Hoogasian will clean up our streets!

A vote for Harold Hoogasian will fix our Muni!

A vote for Harold Hoogasian will eliminate our Budget Mess!

A vote for Harold Hoogasian will bring back Halloween!

Mark Your Ranked Choice Ballot:




I need your VOTE to TAKE BACK our City!

Harold M. Hoogasian

Candidate for Mayor

About Harold Hoogasian

Harold Hoogasian is running for Mayor of San Francisco on a NO NONSENSE campaign.  He is a life long resident of San Francisco with a 33 year track record of public service and activism with in The City.  As the owner of several successful businesses including the floral business, Hoogasian Flowers, Harold has exhibited leadership and insight. In addition to these endeavors he is a former president of Rotary Club of San Francisco and has led several charitable works within The City. His campaign website is

About Hoogasian for Mayor
Hoogasian for Mayor is a committee formed to elect Harold Hoogasian
to the Office of Mayor in The City and County of San Francisco.
615 Seventh Street (Headquarters)
San Francisco, California 94103-5691
415-229-2710 (phone) and 415-229-2700 (fax)

If you don't want messages about this contested mayoral election,
reply to campaign@unplugthemachine with
subject "unsubscribe"


Lovely, eh? Multiple colors to pick out names and phrases like "Adulterous, Drunken Golden Boy!" (in red, natch!), CAPS, bold lettering and different sized fonts.

Looks kookie and crankpot-ish.

If I were a suspicious sort, I'd think that someone who doesn't want Hoogasian for Mayor sent out this spam in an attempt to make him look like a foolish idiot. I hadn't realized he could act like such a juvenile.

Love those politics!

And if his database were any good, he'd know I voted ten days ago.

Potrero Point power UPDATE

An update on the Potrero Point power proposal that I wrote about on Tuesday.

Tu Oct 30. Supervisors vote 8-3 in favor of new peakers. Symbolic vote only as the final vote to approve the contract with the folks who will build the new facility is the deal maker.

W Oct 31. San Francisco Public Utilities Commission votes unanimously in favor of the new peakers. SFPUC staff must finalize agreement with J-Power, the Japanese company that will build the facility.

Once the agreement is finalized and approved by the Board of Supervisors, work can begin. Inching our way slowly to a cleaner Central Waterfront. ...

Views from the Hill - so that's what they mean by patchy fog

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Sunny day outside, if you're not paddling on the Bay.