: views from the Hill

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Archival nit pickiness

Revamped my archives. Made the drop-down reverse order so the latest archives are first. Changed archiving to monthly archives so the list isn't so lengthy.

Thanks to roveberg for the bloggerhack.

Something for that someone who has everything

Something for that someone who has everything or maybe something for Mom that isn't a plaster handprint or copper-plated baby shoes.

Pirolette = major coolness

$149.95 + S&H is pricey but what a conversation piece!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

[URL] Tax Tips and Resources for Writers

DRO has posted her updated "Tax Tips and Resources For Freelance Writers" over at InkyGirl.

Here's my annual updated list of useful tax resources for freelance writers. Sadly (for me, anyway, since I live in Canada), most of the info is specific to the U.S., but I did manage to find some info specific to Canada and other countries, listed below in the "international tax info" section partway down this list.

I was unable to find ANY tax-related resources of use to writers outside of North America. Suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Google adds "themes" to your Google homepage

I like plain ol' vanilla Google. It works. It's simple. No fuss. But earlier today, I decided to just check out the various themes that Google has developed for its Google homepages and settled on "city."

Very nice. Mellow. The colors and accoutrements change with the time of day and weather. (You need to give them a ZIP for it to work properly.) Right now it's shades of purple and blue with stars and a crescent moon. Nice.

My one concern is that the Googlelogo is a single, set color.

What happens when it's George Orwell's bday and the Google logomeister comes up with a spiffy logo-for-the-day?

All that remains to be seen, but the cityscape is nice and I'm enjoying it.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

[YOUTUBE] Hillary mashup

The YouTube Hillary mashup made it to the front page above the fold of today's Chronicle.

Found two versions at YouTube:

Short: Vote Different (1:13)

Long: VOTE SMART: a warning to all women about hillary clinton (5:14)

Obama's campaign sez they had nothing to do with it. Others are pointing fingers to the same folk who brought us the Swift Boat Veterans.

Being as the presidential primaries don't kick off until the Iowa caucuses next January, it looks like it will be a very interesting tit-for-tat election this time around.

Update: Above the fold, front page, SFChronicle today (20 Mar 2007) as well, with a buzz buzz article about who might have mashed it and why. A Rove device to slam Hillary and catch Obama in the crossfire with one swat?

Have you watched both videos? I think the short one is more effective. The long one just goes on and on and on, well past my patience. I believe the long one is a revamp of the short one. Who co-opted the short video? Wonder what the original masher thinks of that?

Update2: Archer has a link to a Barack 1984 video. As I commented there, Too bad the Clinton supporters are so lacking in originality. They're ripping off a mashup, for pete's sake. Do your own clever thing, peoples. This just looks petty. And stoopid.

Friday, March 16, 2007

[YOUTUBE] Middle Ages Tech Support

[via hisnibs who received it in e-mail from SueJ. Thanks, Sue!]

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Monday's walkabout: along the GGNRA Coastal Trail: dinner at the Cliff House (12 Mar 2007)

Monday, his nibs wanted to go do something and the weather was fine. We decided to walk the newly furbished Golden Gate National Recreation Area Coastal Trail from China Beach down to Ocean Beach and see what we could see.

Walked down to Washington Square Park and caught the 30-Stockton to Union Square where we transferred to the 38-Geary and rode it all the way to 33rd, where the bus turns south off Geary onto 33rd. We walked across Geary and up the hill past the Lincoln Park Golf Course

Lincoln Park Golf Course

to the Palace of the Legion of Honor.

Legion of Honor

Sure, we could've waited and transferred to the 18, but decided to take the walk instead.

From the Palace, you walk past the Holocaust Memorial and turn east, walking down the drive on the far side past the Peace Memorial and further until you get almost to China Beach, where you see the signage for the Coastal Walk. There you begin.

We had a great walk. Beautiful views. Wonderful smells. Lovely day.

We stopped for a while at Mile Rock Beach and admired the balanced stone piles people had made,

stone piles

watched the waves crashing

waves CRASH!

and checked out the container ships coming into port.

Hanjin and Mile Rock light

We arrived in mid-afternoon at the ruins of the Sutro Baths and stopped off at the Cliff House to use the facilities and check out the gift shop.

Didn't buy anything, but we did see a stack of FINDING FAULT IN CALIFORNIA, written by our favorite geophysicist.


His nibs was talking about sticking around until dinner time and eating at the Cliff House, but it seemed too early for dinner, so we walked down to Ocean Beach

view from the Cliff House

and over to the Safeway to make sure we knew where we could catch a homeward bound bus after dinner.

We headed on to the Park Chalet for a Chalet-brewed beer.

Imagine our delight to discover that beers are $1/each from 3p-closing on Mondays. Our lucky day! We sat on the steps outside in the sun and took advantage of the Monday offer.

Later, we headed back to the Cliff House and scored a table in the Sutro dining room. The place was busy but not crushingly so.

The food was delish. The staff was capable and friendly and gave good pretence of enjoying their jobs, if indeed they didn't.

(me) Dungeness Crab "Sutro" roll (4 pcs) with unagi and avocado
(his nibs) Crab Cake "Louis" (2 cakes) with butter lettuce and Louis sauce

Both were excellent. We swopped halfway through.

(me) Applewood Bacon crusted wild Salmon with Truffled Potatoes, Bloomsdale Spinach, Calvados Broth, and verrry thinly sliced apples.
(his nibs) Swordfish with a yummy sauce, sliced new potatoes, spinach

Again, both were excellent. We kept saying to each other, "Who would've guessed the food here would be this good?" There's the old standard warning: if the view is great, don't expect the food to be too. We were delighted to find out the Cliff House not only had a view, but great food too.

We had a Calera Chardonnay with dinner, in honor of the Calera winemaker's dinner we'd been to at Pres a Vi in the Presidio last Wednesday.

I took at least half of my salmon home and made a meal of it yesterday. Portion sizes are generous.

Caution: After the sun sets there's nothing to see outside. Wander along the beach and watch the sunset and then eat, or ask for a table that allows you a view of the sunset at dinner.

For dessert his nibs had the custard trio: Butterscotch Parfait, Pistachio Crème Brulee & Tangerine Crème Caramel. We shared that along with a glass of Bonny Doon Vin de Glaciere Moscato, one of my favorite dessert wines.

After dinner, with my little box of salmon in tow, we walked down the hill and caught the 38-Geary back to Market & 3rd, where we caught the 30-Stockton and home-again home-again riggety jig.

Note to self: remember the $1 beer Mondays at the Park Chalet and the relative ease of public transit over to the delish food at Sutro's.

The complete set of shots from Monday's walk is here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Found at Cliff House on Monday (12 March 2007)

A long ramble (perhaps) to follow about our excursions on Monday and dinner at the Cliff House.

Suffice to say, that we were pumped to find one of Hough's books

at the Cliff House gift shop when we stopped by to check out the merchandise before dinner.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Gavin Newsom chatted with Dave Morey and his wacky gang yesterday morning

Gavin Newsom chatted with Dave Morey and his wacky gang at KFOG's Morning Show yesterday morning.

I missed the show live but downloaded KFOG's podcast/mp3 of the show and listened to the yack-yack this afternoon.

Why read other people telling you what Newsom said when you can take a direct listen?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

[BLOG] Today in Letters

Today in Letters: Letters and Diary Entries from this Day in Literary History.

Today (08 Mar) brings us

Lord Byron: March 8, 1816

A letter to Thomas Moore.

I rejoice in your promotion as Chairman and Charitable Steward, etc., etc. These be dignities which await only the virtuous. But then, recollect you are six and thirty, (I speak this enviously—not of your age, but the "honour—love—obedience—troops of friends," which accompany it,) and I have eight years good to run before I arrive at such hoary perfection; by which time,—if I am at all,—it will probably be in a state of grace or progressing merits.



For those who know him who haven't heard about his dire health situation, Carol has setup a LiveJournal site to keep people informed and to serve as a repository for notes from people who know him.

I've been reading every single email and blog comment to Bob, and he's been surprised and touched that he is so well thought of.

Addendum:Here's the post that explains what follows.


[via Sour Grapes @ tumblr]

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Free beer! and bushi-tei

Went to dinner last night at bushi-tei in Japantown. ... for the third time.

Those who know us know that we seldom eat anywhere more than once, maybe twice. We must think bushi-tei is yummy. We do. It is. There are so many good restaurants in this town, that eating anywhere more than once or twice is absurd unless we think the restaurant is a keeper.

bushi-tei's appetizer to die for is /Seared fresh foie gras, pumpkin pot de crème, pistachio, red onion marmalade/. The pumpkin pot de crème sounds like it would be weird with the seared foie gras (the foie is settled in the middle of the pot de crème), but the pairing is perfect. Delish. Mine!

His nibs had /Lobster and Crab, Chrysanthemum leaf, papaya, bacon, ginger cream, curry oil/. A salad of sorts only there's very little greenery and LARGE CHUNKS OF LOBSTER! Tasty dressing. The bacon and papaya bits add intriguing shots of flavor. The salad is more crab and lobster than anything else. Tasty. We swopped our plates halfway through.

For the main course I had /Pan roasted Sonoma duck breast, spinach, mascarpone-mustard, dried chutney/, cooked medium rare. I figured if I had duck liver for the appetizer, it was only fair that I should carry on with the rest of the duck for the main course. The duck was cooked perfectly. The mascarpone-mustard was smooth and mellow and didn't overwhelm the duck.

His nibs had /Pan seared Maine scallop, black rice tabbouleh, eye berry- cucumber yoghurt/. Delish as well. Have we ever had anything not delish here? No. For dessert his nibs had an apple dumpling served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkling of crushed pistachio. I had a glass of Ichinokura Himezen saké.

LaWand Mathern wrote a fine review of bushi-tei last August that I won't even try to compete with except to say the food is great, the setting is calm and serene and the bathrooms! Well! We have friends with toilets that do everything but sponge the spilt wine off your shirt. These are those kinds of toilets.

But wait! you say. What about the free beer?

Well, Muni cooperated (don't say it never does) and we walked down to Washington Square Park where we were whisked off on the 30Stockton which dropped us at Union Square just in time to catch 38LGeary and we found ourselves at Bushi-Tei a half-hour before our 7p reservation. (Early reservation because his nibs was due for a conference call concerning raises and staff bright and early this morning.)

The early start to dinner meant that we finished at an unheard of early hour and (backtracking on the 38 and the 30) found ourselves back in North Beach, getting off the 30 at Panta Rei some time around 8:15p. We were walking up Green from Columbus when his nibs decided that the night was still young and we should stop into Maggie McGarry's for a pint of Anchor Steam before making that last push up the hill.

The barkeep said, "You here for the trivia?"
"No," we answered. "Just stopping by on the way home from dinner."

And yet ... we were still there when the trivia contest (every Tuesday!) started 'round about 8:30p. The quizmaster gave us a pencil and an answer sheet booklet. The night was still young. Why not try our luck and our smarts -- the luck being in the quizmaster asking a question we knew the answer to.

His nibs won a free pint at a drawing mid-session. The session went on for six rounds. We were totally skunked for the music round. We made unexpected points in the hip-hop 'round. We were lagging behind, but made it up in the last "last call for know-it-alls" round and wound up in third place out of maybe eight teams competing. We were clearly a couple decades older than the rest of the contestants. Yay, us!

One of the youngsters came over ostensibly to get another round of drinks but in actuality to ask his nibs if he could tell her who sang Leader of the Pack (one of the answers in the music round). She must've figured we were old enough to know, but we couldn't help her. Did I mention total skunkage in the music round?

Our third place finish earned us chits for two more pints of beer.

Free Anchor Steam. Can't get much better than that.

Before breakfast or even a cup of coffee: Updates to Internet Resources for Writers

Checked and updated all links in the Business section of Internet Resources for Writers.

Before breakfast! Before coffee even!

The page includes over one hundred links classified in subsections:
  • Unsorted
  • Agents
  • Book Publishers
  • Copyright
  • E-Publishing
  • Legal, Contracts, & Taxes
  • Marketing, Sales, Promotion, & Publicity
  • Print-On-Demand Publishing
  • Self-publishing
  • Your Website

Replaced some broken links. Added a few. Commented out links to my articles on Web design and copyright that I wrote for Computer Bits, which is no more. I need to bring those articles onto either this site or internet-resources.com some day, now that the Computer Bits online archives are no more.

Monday, March 05, 2007

[URL] Craigslist Curmudgeon is the Yahoo! Daily Wire site of the day.

The Curmudgeon cranks on about Craigslist ads that offer next to nothing (or worse!) as payment for wordsmithing.

Yahoo! sez: The Curmudgeon's chief complaint: would-be content providers that offer wordsmiths no pay. More specific no-nos: ads offering piddling in-kind compensation, ads with dubious payment schemes, ads offering nothing but "exposure," and ads offering no pay for ridiculous assignments.

And the ad-meisters fire back.

Entertaining all around.

[nod to Yahoo! picks]

Sunday, March 04, 2007

TICs and Andy Sirkin, Attorney

I'm not a huge TIC fan. I can't imagine ever buying a TIC unit. Sure, I know. TICs are usually a chunk of change cheaper than a similar condominium, but the legal squirreliness involved with TIC agreements and the funding behind them just shiver me timbers.

And yet. ... There are those who buy TICs and there are those with questions about TICs who need the straight scoop about what they're getting into.

Anyone with questions about TICs (apartment units sold to buyers who own the entire building as Tenants In Common) should not ask the agent who was showing two TICs that we went through today.

Potential buyers who didn't even know the difference between a condominium and a TIC were peppering her with questions. That agent was glossing over the drawbacks of TICs, giving misleading information about the ease of converting to condominiums, and other forked-tongue exercises. She claimed that the City limited the number of TICs that could convert to condominiums each year because the City wanted to keep rental units available and not have the City fill up with condominiums.


Well. No, I can't even say, "kinda." There is no law against renting out a condominium. A TIC doesn't have to be owner-occupied. Neither does a condominium. I don't know where the agent was getting her information, but she was blowing smoke on this and on other TIC/condo conversion matters too.

The rules about TICs and TIC conversions go far beyond what the agent was telling the naifs who were taking her word as gospel. There's a history behind the rules and regulations governing TICs and condo conversions in this fair ville and it's nothing like the gloss-over she was giving her potential buyers.

Read up on the issues swirling around TICs and then if you have questions (and you should), head over to Andy Sirkin, Attorney's site. Sirkin is the guy who wrote the book (and the agreements) and is the go-to guy for TICs.

Don't rely on the word-of-mouth not-legally-binding schmooze from a real estate agent trying to sell a TIC. Get your information straight from Sirkin, no frills, no trussssssssst me, no BS.

... and before you make an offer on that TIC you have an eye on, find yourself a real estate agent other than the one selling the property to represent you in the transaction. Both real estate agents are paid by the seller, but the one representing you will have more of your interests at heart than the one representing the seller.

Jayson Wechter's Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt

Had fun last night at Jayson Wechter's Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt.

(I'd won a pair of tickets from sfist.com. Thanks, Jon!)

We'd never played before and were in the Beginner category. Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds!) of people showed up to pickup their clues before getting the rah-rah-rah and go-ahead from Jayson hisself 'round about 5p at which point we all ripped open our clues and hunkered down to plot a plan before taking off from Justin Herman Plaza. We had until 9p to solve the clues, write down the treasure answers and get back to the Plaza to turn in our scorecard.

Oh, those clues were tough, tough, tough, even for my comrade-in-arms, his nibs, who is a fifth generation San Franciscan.

As we hunkered down for our initial clue solving, a middle-aged man in suit and tie stopped beside us. "What is going on?" he asked.

"A treasure hunt," we replied.


We thought we had it tough until we bumped into our DiMaggio Playground cohort, GregC, whose team was doing the challenging Master Hunt. Whoo boy. Those clues are far beyond my wee comprehension.

We didn't get all the clues, didn't find all the treasures, but we had fun and then headed home to roast lamb and parsnips with mashed potatoes and lamb drippings gravy.

Next year we'll have a better idea of what's in store, what makes sense to bring (brighter flashlights for one), and what can be left home. (I should've left my heavy HarleyD corduroy shirt home instead of carrying it along in my accoutrements bag -- we were moving too fast to ever get cold -- and it was just an added burden.)

Besides GregC, we bumped into a flock of wild RNs who used to work with his nibs at the startup in South City. I'm sure there were others in the crowd we would've known, but there were just sooooo many folks out hunting last night, not to mention the thousands who lined the streets of Chinatown for the New Year's parade.