: views from the Hill

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ed Jew sez $5.7M 'youth' deal: Fast Pass to budget deficit

Today's Examiner has a commentary by Ed Jew on pending (perhaps approved -- the SFC doesn't say on their site) legislation extending youth Fast Pass discounts to all "youth" ages 18-24.

His point is the one I was making a bit ago.

#1 How can the Supes justify the cost when Muni is stretching to balance its budget?

#2 Why 18-24 year olds? What makes them so special?

What about people older than 24 who are working a minimum wage? Don't they deserve a break? Do we want age-based Muni fares? Should we have needs-based Muni fares? Why not give everyone a fare break and see if we can get people out of their cars and onto public transport?

This legislation is so cockeyed. What are the Supes thinking?

Geometric Sculpture of George W. Hart, mathematical sculptor

Geometric Sculpture of George W. Hart, mathematical sculptor.

George W. Hart does some amazing things. Click your way through his links, explore the Pavilion of Polyhedreality and Hart's links to polyhedral sites.

Landslide In S.F. North Beach Prompts Evacuations

We were woken up around 6 am by the sound of helicopters, multiple helicopters, hovering nearby. The helicopters were all news helicopters, though, we could tell, because you couldn't hear the high pitch whine of the AĆ©rospatiale Alouettes that the Coast Guard uses. Something newsworthy was up on our sweet little hill.

We turned on the radio (KCBS 740) and heard this: Landslide In S.F. North Beach Prompts Evacuations. Traffic on Broadway detoured around the block between Montgomery and Kearny. Morning commute traffic a mess. No one hurt. Lots of mud and rock.

The CBS5 site has pictures, raw video and a live Webcam setup to look at the slide.

455 Vallejo is teetering.

The helicopters went away for a few hours but now are back. We'll wander over to see what we can see at some point.

Everything I know - Buckminster Fuller and other treats from Smashing Telly

First heard about Smashing Telly over at Sour Grapes, where SG offered up a link to Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville.

Man, what a resource Smashing Telly is.

Everything from Jean-Luc Godard to this forty-one minute interview with Buckminster Fuller ("Everything I Know") to over an hour with George Carlin to Charles and Ray Eames' Powers of Ten to interviews with Philip Glass and Godfrey Reggio for The Making of Koyaanisqatsi.

David Galbraith explains: Smashing Telly is a hand edited collection of the best free, instantly available TV on the web. Not 30 second clips of a dog on a skateboard, or the millionth person to mime the Numa song, but full length programs. Smashing Telly, not Gimmick Telly.

Many of the items that I'll be putting up on a regular basis are documentaries, since that's what tends to be out there at the moment.

Monday, February 26, 2007

5.4 up near Petrolia

Recent Earthquakes - Info for event nc40193932:

A moderate earthquake occurred at 4:19:54 AM (PST) on Monday, February 26, 2007.

The magnitude 5.4 event occurred 52 km (32 miles) W of Ferndale, CA.

The hypocentral depth is 0.4 km (0.2 miles)

Right at the seaward edge of the Cascadia subduction zone.

We'll be having dinner with Susan Hough on Thursday after her author talk at Kepler's down in Menlo Park for her newest book: Richter's Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man

(In the area? Stop on by! Thursday March 01, 2007 -- 7:30 p.m. at Kepler's in Menlo Park)

(Buy now!)

I'm sure the our dinner conversation talk will turn to local earthquakes and Cascadia and Hayward and San Andreas. It always does.

Not all Second Life $$ are made in Linden $$ and then converted ...

CBS announced today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with The Electric Sheep Company as part of its plans to increase its presence on Second Life and other online virtual worlds.

Electric Sheep is a New York-based creator of virtual-world content and has worked with CBS (nyse: CBS - news - people ) to launch Second Life communities for Showtime's The L Word and for Star Trek, which is owned by CBS Paramount. The company also created a TV ad for the CBS sitcom Two And A Half Men that ran during the Super Bowl earlier this month. Electric Sheep's other clients include Viacom's (nyse: VIA - news - people ) MTV Networks, Time Warner's (nyse: TWX - news - people ) AOL and Major League Baseball.


Family histories of Sharpton, Thurmond collide

Family histories of Sharpton, Thurmond collide

Researchers from Ancestry .com traced Sharpton's roots using a database with access to 5 billion records including birth and death certificates, slave narratives, census and bank records, and United States Colored Troops documents.

They discovered that Sharpton's great-grandfather Coleman Sharpton was a slave owned by Julia Thurmond, whose grandfather was Strom Thurmond's great-great-grandfather.

"I know there's no such thing as a boring family tree," said the chief family historian for Ancestry.com, Megan Smolenyak, who presented the findings to Sharpton on Thursday. "I knew we would find something, but I certainly didn't anticipate this."

The information also showed his
[Sharpton's] great-grandfather had been freed. Smolenyak said Sharpton was subdued and stunned when she told him about his family history.

Interesting histories.

Interesting times.

Update: Sharpton Wants DNA Test

Friday, February 23, 2007

3.4 on the Hayward Fault.

A minor earthquake occurred at 3:46:15 PM (PST) on Friday, February 23, 2007.
The magnitude 3.4 event occurred 3 km (2 miles) ESE of Berkeley, CA.
The hypocentral depth is 11 km ( 7 miles).

A sharp jolt here. No rumble. Set the collection of chimes attached to the fire escape jingling.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

CBS5 brings you thirty minutes with Gavin un-cut. No question off the table.

KPIX brings you thirty minutes un-cut of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom answering questions from KPIX CBS5's Hank Plante.

An exclusive and you can bet your bottom dollar Newsom's not going through this for each and every one of you newshounds out there. You could almost see Gavin draw in a breath after some questions and thinking, what is he going to ask next.

(And, sweet mercy, when will this be over?)

Plante: "Let me ask you another question. ... There are rumors that you also used cocaine and other substances..."

(The actual news spot was far shorter. That's also available at the site.)

Craig Ferguson and his heartfelt why-I-won't-trash-Britney remarks

Twelve minutes.

Well worth it.

Craig Ferguson's monologue from Tuesday, 20 Feb 2007.

I'd embed it for you (tried!) but CBS isn't allowing embedding.

News! Cocoa may improve brain blood flow

One of the sessions I missed at AAAS was a session Sunday titled, "The Neurobiology of Chocolate: A Mind-Altering Experience?"

Harold Schmitz of Mars, Inc. co-organized the symposium. Mars, Inc. happens to be sponsoring research into why chocolate is good for you and how they can make it even better. (Heard of CocoaVia?) I'd spent time in a session a few years back covering similar and/or earlier research on the subject. This session covered recent research including a presentation by Ian MacDonald (University of Nottingham Medical School) on "The Effect of Flavanol-Rich Cocoa on the fMRI Response to a Cognitive Task in Healthy Young People."

Yee haw.

Luckily, there were science writers in the audience to suck it all up for me. CNN reports: Cocoa may improve brain blood flow

Sunday, I was elsewhere -- in an all-day seminar on Virtual Worlds which included papers like "Comparing Mental Health Applications Using Individually Administered Virtual Reality and Second Life: Conceptual and Ethical Issues" from Skip Rizzo, USC, and "Virtual Publics: Youths' Lives in Emergent Social Worlds" from Danah Boyd at UCB.

John Lester (AKA Pathfinder Linden) at Linden Labs organized the seminar. Linden Labs, just down the hill from me, is the creator (are the creators?) of Second Life, which I messed around with playing with after a panel at the Commonwealth Club that we attended last December.

I finally signed up yesterday but with my computer's hiccupy-response to requests to turn and move and change the color of my coat, my experience wasn't optimal. Problems with scaling? Problems with my computer? I'll try again later today and see if I get further.

Sorry I was to miss out on the latest scoop about cocoa, but the Virtual Worlds seminars were crack.

[Thanks for the cocoa link, Sam]

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

[URL] MacTutor History of Mathematics

Found the MacTutor History of Mathematics while looking for information on Johann Benedict Listing, the guy (not August Ferdinand Möbius) who actually discovered the Möbius Strip.

KFOG Kaboom! 2007

This post is for the someone who came by this site earlier with a Yahoo! search for /2007 kfog kaboom, piers 30 & 32/

According to the Port Authority Web site (KFOG Kaboom "Hold for Event"), mark May 12th on the calendar for this year's Kaboom!

a link to the 2006 Kaboom! page with a click to video of the fireworks set to a rock music soundscript.

... and ditto for 2005.

[coinkadinkly: KFOG sent out an e-mail to Fogheads late yesterday telling us that the date this year for Kaboom! is May 12th! Hah.]

Phat Duck in The Pastry Department

Dana at Phat Duck has closed her blog to join Hillel Cooperman over at Tasting Menu.

I'm hoping the Phat Duck archives hang around, because her blog was dessert-lovers' heaven.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Geek alert

I'm not a spend-your-money-on-shooz-or-fashionable-bags sort of person.

Howsomever, I did spend some money on these.

Made With Molecules had a booth at AAAS this year.

San Francisco Street Art / Graffiti

Ryan pulled together a very well-done video collage of photos he took of San Francisco Street Art / Graffiti while he was tooling around the City on his bicycle in 2006.

Some of my favorites are here: Mona Caron's Duboce Bikeway Mural, f'rex (visible from the N-Judah).

Some of my favorites aren't in the collection: the mural on the side of the building at the NW corner of Columbus and Broadway (thx to karbon69 for the click) and "One Tree" by RIGO [photo by kootenayvolcano]. There are others not included, including the murals on some buildings on Bay just up from Tower Records, but I can't find pictures. Guess I'll have to make some of my own.

[YouTube link from a link Ryan posted to SFist/labs/contribute last month]

[note: flickr has photo pool for San Francisco/murals. Check it out if this sort of thing interests you.]

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Ten Most Expensive Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Sold in 2006

From AbeBooks.com, a list of The Ten Most Expensive Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Sold in 2006.

Some unexpected titles and interesting package deals.

e.g. #8

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
Kate Wilhelm

Near fine original manuscript package of this 1976 Hugo award winning novel. Contains: Original ribbon copy and carbon-copy typescript, final draft, setting copy. Signed with a few corrections in authors hand. Also containing file folder with maps, charts, diagrams, rewritten section and correspondence, all pertaining to the novel. Sold for $3,975

A useful mashup: Muni fast passes and Google maps

skot9000 got tired of trying to track down the closest location to buy a Muni fast pass and found their ZIPcode-based lists unreasonably hard to use so he, nice guy wot he is, mashed up the Muni DB with Google maps.

Et voila! Pop in an intersection or an address and a radius and skot9000's handy-dandy mashup will fill you in on the places nearby that sell Muni fast passes.

A to-do list for the City

Above the fold this morning in the Chron was an article detailing the City's plan to take over liability insurance and maintenance responsibility for the pair of cypress trees downhill from here that I've written about before , the trees that Mark Bittner flung himself in front of chainsaws to save, the trees that are, according to Bevan Dufty, who proposed the legislation, one of the parrots' favorite roosts.

The operative words there are "one of the..."

The parrots have many favorite roosts. This clump of trees is not even the most favorite roost within a one hundred yard radius. Preserving these trees because the tourists like watching the parrots is a flawed argument. Mark lives right next to the trees in question, which is why he wants them preserved above all others. I understand his personal stake in all this.

... but the number of tourists who climb up and down the Greenwich Steps and are enchanted by the birds (and ipso facto and all that the trees MUST be preserved!) are far outnumbered by the number of tourists who climb up and down the Filbert Steps and are enchanted by the birds. The parrots are hanging out more often than not in the trees and on the wires above the Filbert Steps when they are hanging out on this side of the hill.

And, boy, am I tired of explaining to people I talk to at parties and gatherings that the parrots are fine, they're happy, they're healthy, they're squawking all the time, when they're here. There are scores of parrots in the flock and it is still growing. Concerned people say, "But I thought their tree was cut down." or "I thought they had flown away."

No, it wasn't. No, they haven't. They don't even sleep here, I tell them. The parrots show up in the morning and squawk around and come and go and usually head back to the north end of town, to the Presidio or Fort Mason or wherever it is they lay their weary heads, when the sun starts heading toward its evening meetup with the ocean. Get here after 5P or 4P or some days even 3P and there won't be a parrot to be seen. "Come back tomorrow," I tell the disappointed tourists. "They've gone home to tuck in but they'll be back tomorrow."

And, whoo boy, the Steps especially near Napier Lane, outside Aaron Peskin's place (the wires near his house are a new favorite place for them) are sprinkled with guano these days. We noticed a note from Judy Irving (TPOTH filmmaker and Mark's wife) tacked onto Aaron's fence the other day asking people not to feed the parrots.

The Northeast San Francisco Conservancy has collected $5K to give to the City to pay an arborist to trim the trees so at least that expense won't be the City's, but the other associated staffer expenses?

The City, which has a wide variety of ills that need attention, is spending time, staffing $$ (and perhaps real $$ if the trees topple) on a pair of trees that imosho don't deserve the extraordinary attention they've been getting.

A guy from AP asked us last Sunday at Gavin's campaign HQ opening, what we thought was the most serious problem in the City that needed addressing.

Oh, so many to choose from ...

The City should be paying attention to:

(1) Muni/taxis/public transport/traffic meters/bike lanes/traffic and oh, the list could go on. Let's talk about bus fares. Let's talk about waiting for a 30 for much longer than expected and having two show up simultaneously. Let's talk about reworking Muni and dropping the fares for everyone. (What's with the proposed deal to give 18-24 year olds deals on their Muni passes when there are plenty of thirty- and forty-something dishwashers and grocery clerks who deserve a fare shake too.)

And maybe, just maybe, if we improve the Muni safety record we will have extra money in the budget. Last year Muni paid out $6.6 million in claims. Woo hoo! A million less than the year before! SIX MILLION SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. Yikes.

(2) trash/litter and the scum bums who toss crap in the streets or toss coffee cups in the gutters or leave papers on benches for the winds to blow afar. Add in the City's trash picker uppers who need to pickup the trash bins (especially the ones at the bottom of the Vallejo Steps at Montgomery) far more often than they do, the lack of trash bins on busy corners and at bus stops which gives people the excuse that they would have thrown their trash in a trash bin but there was not one to be found, and oh, the list could go on.

And then there's the neighbor at the top of the Filbert Steps at Montgomery who doesn't like the people down the Steps bringing their recycle up to the top of the Steps for recycle pickup. Every once in a while, when the recycle offends him for whatever reason, maybe the neighbor's noise disturbed his tube watching, he kicks the recycle down the steps and makes a giant mess of things just because of because. Grow up, neighbor.

Let's all take the "one for the road" pledge.

(3) crime, violent crime, hurting people, busting windows, busting jaws, killing people, robbing people, theft, property damage. People, some of them quite young, running amok.

(4) free WiFi -- just get on with it. Let Earthlink and Google provide the service and use us as their guinea pigs and don't even think of having the City set up its own bureaucracy to handle the problem. Oh, the bureaucrats handle Muni so well, why not give them this new box to play in?

(5) the building inspections department and the planning process ... both busted by some accounts with the added fillip that no one can agree on the right thing to be done so nothing gets done

... until someone like kink.com buys a building and promises that all they'll do is get rid of the graffiti, add outdoor lighting and ... make movies inside away from the public view. The site's zoned for commercial use. The building won't change. Nothing that needs planning or historic preservation.

BUT WE DON'T WANT THAT! Well, over the years you didn't want anything else either. No one could agree. It's been over thirty years since the Guard left the building. 'sides which kink.com's been making movies in a warehouse not that far away for years now and nobody even noticed. Peter Acworth had a column on the op-ed page Monday about the purchase and his plans.

A new head's been hired for the Building Inspection department and maybe he'll work wonders. Planning's problems don't have an easy fix. Can't we all just get along?

Don't get me started on the ongoing snags affecting Angelo Sangiacomo's efforts to rehab Trinity Plaza. He's getting tired of the wrangling. What if he just says tahellwithit like the previous owner of the Armory did? I doubt we'll ever find a buyer like kink.com that wants Trinity Plaza and will keep it just like it is, which seems to be the intent of the folks who are asking Sangiacomo to promise this, and when he does, asking him to promise that, and when he does, saying they've changed their minds and want him to ...

(6) the Port and the piers and the wrangling there over what will be done. Leave things as some people seem to want and the piers will all look like Pier 36 in a few years.

(7) people who need health care. people who need housing. people who need jobs. people who need a shrink or drugs or food or a hug.

"Choose one?" we asked the reporter. "Muni, parking, taxis, anything to do with getting people around this town without adding cars on the streets but that's just the beginning of what needs addressing."

The pair of cypresses downhill from us didn't even cross our minds. There are other trees that the parrots flock to. The parrots are thriving. I'm not a tree hugger, obviously. I don't believe every tree deserves saving just because it's a tree. I do believe in planting more trees in the city. We're Friends of the Urban Forest. My problem with Dufty's well-intentioned, if misguided, efforts is that I don't cotton to the idea that rules should be changed and these trees deserve special efforts because of the parrots. They don't. The parrots are fine. The City has more important troubles to address.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Maltese Falcon



The Maltese Falcon (a plaster version from the movie set) and some signed Hammett books are gone missing from John's Grill. John Konstin isn't happy.

Konstin wants the bird and the books back so much he's willing to fork over some cash. $25,000 in cold, hard for whoever brings the stuff back to his joint.

"No questions asked," he said.

They never are. Not in this town.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Newshounds and cameras

Walked over to the grand opening of the Gavin Newsom re-election campaign headquarters (1320 Sutter just west of Van Ness) today.

I hate crowded rooms, have I ever mentioned?

And yet there I was (albeit over by the windows so I had a pressing crowd only on one side). That's me in the top picture of the set behind the link. I'm the person in front of the woman in pink. My hair's pulled back. I'd wave but the photo was taken from behind me. My best angle.

Packed. Hundreds. Gavin worked the room before the speechifying and I swear shook hands and had a word or two with almost every soul in the room.

Gavin was preceded on stage by Supervisor Bevan Dufty (carrying his baby), John Burton (former U.S. Representative, former President Pro Tem of the California State Senate and an old family friend of Gavin's who talked him into rehab work) and Mark Leno (Assemblyman, California's 13th Assembly district).

Paul and Christine Pelosi were in the crowd as was Angela Alioto, as were members of Gavin's family, honchos from some of the unions, me, McGee, Alyce and hundreds of others.

Oh, and those newshounds (AP, &c. Channel 2, KCBS. ...)

Lined up on an elevated platform in back, mingling with the crowd, pressing their way to the front of the room.

Going to be a long slog through until election day.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

No condos there, nope. No church, nope. Nothing.

Nothing but a tired, old, rundown crenellated building ... until kink.com decided the old Armory would be a perfect site for their offices and for filming kinky movies. kink.com paid $14.5 million for the 200K sq ft landmark built in 1914.

The neighborhood's aghast, but really has no say in the matter: kink.com is sprucing up thirty years of neglect but has no plans to alter the building and doesn't have to go before planning or the landmarks commission. The up-in-arms folks have no one to blame but those who shot down every development proposal for the Armory that came down the pike since the National Guard vacated the building in 1975.

The kink.com purchase (and the ensuing uproar) even made the Wall Street Journal! The Journal's article is password-protected, but the Chicago Daily Herald was nice enough to pick up the article, allowing us to read it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Updated Reference & Research

Spent a chunk of the morning checking, updating and augmenting the collection of links in the Reference & Research section of Internet Resources for Writers.

The page includes over two hundred links classified in subsections:
  • Unsorted
  • Assorted Information
  • Experts
  • Maps
  • Names & Naming
  • News Links
  • Online Texts
  • Research & Reference
  • Search Engines (including image search and video search engines)
  • Tools
  • Warnings & Rumors

Amazing resources out there on the Web. What a wURLd.

Monday, February 05, 2007

More QM2

Oh, my. Was traffic snarled today.

We knew there'd be some problems. Yes, indeed. TPTB had set electronic signs on the Embarcadero days ahead of time warning that traffic would be a mess from Broadway to Bay.

Broadway to Bay?

Try all the way back to 280 to way past Bay ... in both directions.

We swung by the Post Office to drop off a card (Happy bday, SP!) around noon. His nibs decided that traffic wouldn't be that bad on the Embarcadero after he missed hanging a right on Filbert and a right on Kearny and heading out that way. He drove (with detours) down to the Embarcadero where we waited through four traffic signal changes to hang a right and get out of town.

... thirty minutes later we were across from the ball park and almost out of town.

The traffic was nuts. Too many people on the crosswalks so drivers couldn't turn. An extra cruise ship berthed over at Pier 35, adding to the carnival atmosphere.

I predict Letters to the Editor in tomorrow's Chronicle from the folks at 101 Lombard, who insist that any new anything on the Embarcadero should be squelched because of traffic concerns.

"See?!?!! See?!?!!" they'll say.

Give it a rest, I say. Everyone else in the City tells the neighbors who complain about the traffic when the team's playing at Candlestick that they should chill. It's only ten days a year, we tell them. Live with it.

So we live with the cruise ship traffic jams, magnified today because there was not only a cruise ship BUT ALSO the QM2 AND all the people who came down to gawk at the QM2.

Taxis everywhere. Tour buses.

The F-line was running extra cars, which were jammed so they were running buses as well.

CurbedSF checks in and! includes a link to a YouTube video of the ship ("transoceanic liner") coming in under the GGBridge yesterday.

We decided to return home (from a busy day of sorting stuff and victuals runs to Costco and Trader Joe's) on a route that didn't use the Embarcadero.

Good thing.

We double-parked at the top of the Steps and ran our purchases home at around 6P or so. His nibs took the MINI to its stall and said that while he was walking back up Union, he encountered a well-dressed woman of a certain age, talking to someone on her cell. "Didn't I tell you several times NOT TO GO NEAR THE EMBARCADERO?"

Not a happy camper. Her ride had failed her. She was walking down Union to find a ride to wherever it was she needed to go.

I wonder how many passengers will be left behind because the bar pilot MUST leave with the changing tide some time around 8P. Passengers that are not back on board will need to catch up with the ship ... somehow.

[8P] His nibs is checking with our telescope and can see the bar pilot up on the bridge. (Bar pilot's in suit and tie.) The ship isn't moving yet. Heck, the lines are still engaged, but at least there's action up on the bridge.

How long can the ship wait and still make it out the Gate safely?

[His nibs is watching the action and adds that the airplane with the lighted signage is flying back and forth over the crowds watching the ship, running an ad for Big-O Tires. Someone in marketing is making their momma proud.)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Queen is visiting ...

The Queen Mary 2 is in port, the largest ship ever to sail into the San Francisco Bay.

We walked over to Fort Mason to have a good look from one of the piers. (... and, of course, stopped by Book Bay at Fort Mason before we walked on home.)

Thousands of people lined the shore to greet the QM2 on its way in. The bay was filled with boats. Quite a turnout considering the Super Bowl was competition for all the attention at the waterfront.

The QM2 was due in at 3P but didn't show until 4P. Just as well for us as we'd stopped on our way at Pompei's Grotto for some crab sandwich lunches.

The story was that the waves were a bit rugged outside the Gate and the bar pilot had difficulty getting aboard. Or it may have been a different reason. Stories scattered like pigeons in front of an unleashed puppy.

What was true was that once in port, the QM2 had to spend hours hanging around off Treasure Island until the bar pilot finally docked her at 8P. The tides in the bay are pretty strong and the bar pilot wanted to bring the QM2 in while the tide was changing for full to ebb and moving least.

Tricky maneuvering. We watched as this huge mammoth inched into Pier 27 and tied up.

The bulk of the passengers offload today to spend some time in San Francisco and then head home. An equal number of boarding passengers replace those leaving and continue with the ship on its journey around the world.

QM2 leaves tonight at 8P when, again, the tides will be changing.

QM2 into the Golden GateQM2 comes through the Golden Gate

QM2 Fireboat splashes water in greetingQM2 w/ greeting from fire boat
QM2 boats! boats! and Coast Guard helicopterQM2 Boats! and the USCG helicopter

welcoming crowd on pier at Fort Masonwelcoming crowd at Fort Mason pier

QM2 past AlcatrazQM2 passing Alcatraz
pier 27 eveningPier 27 night shot while docking

pier 27 Monday morningPier 27 Monday AM

Saturday, February 03, 2007

[WR] Asking an agent to your conference? Miss Snark 'xplains what she needs

For those set-upon (and blessed) folks who organize writers' conferences, Miss Snark has a most excellent post detailing the care and feeding of guest agents.

Miss Snark's must-haves give a peek into the world of agents.

Next time you're at a conference, take an agent to lunch or buy one a drink, just because. You may never use their services but your karma will be polished.