: views from the Hill

Monday, April 30, 2007

Derren Brown - subliminal advertising

Derren Brown on subliminal advertising.

... on NLP

Fascinating stuff.

Derren Brown on C4's site

Derren Brown's Web site

I'd never heard of Derren Brown until tonight. I just went back to see how I'd fallen into this Derren Brown universe. My original heads up was from a post on AdRants.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The driver hailed a taxi which took him to Kaiser Hospital, Oakland

Had a note from our beast wrangler about "news" and how it would affect her drive over here the next time we went on a trip. She guessed she'd have to use 101.


I checked online and found that 250 yds of the MacArthur maze interchange leading to the Bay Bridge collapsed this morning after a tanker truck loaded with 8600 gallons of unleaded gasoline on its way to a gas station in Oakland lost control and overturned at 3:40 a.m.

The driver got out of the truck under his own steam and walked to a nearby gas station where he grabbed a taxi which took him to Kaiser Hospital, Oakland. Kaiser later transferred him to the burn unit at St. Francis Hospital, here in San Francisco, where he's being treated for second degree burns. And that's it! That's the extent of injuries!

Alas for the roadway, though, the truck didn't do as well. After the driver got out, the truck exploded. The firemen got the fire out by 5:50 a.m. but by then the fireball had burned so hot (in excess of 2000 dF) for so long that the steel in the roadway softened and twisted, the bolts holding the concrete failed and the structure collapsed.


We keep wondering what will happen if something happens to that bridge. 270-280K people a day use the Bay Bridge to get from here to there or vice versa. Well, here goes. A wakeup call. It could've been worse, a lot worse.

Luckily, the bridge is intact. You can get across the bridge but once you get to the east end its roundabout detours to get where you want to go if you usually take the pieces of freeway that were damaged and getting onto the bridge to head west is also a problem. There are alternative routes that are usable. BART is adding more cars. ACTransit is advertising its bus service. Traffic will be hellacious.

Update: Will Kempton, CalTrans, says that the two roadways that are damaged carry approximately 30K vehicles a day each. Even if your route isn't compromised, you'll be stuck in traffic caused by those whose routes are.

Update2: Schwarzenegger sez free rides! tomorrow on all transit. BART sez FREE PARKING IN THE BART LOTS! His nibs sez, "Who's going to pay for all this?"

What a mess. It will be months before the busted parts and the parts that may have been weakened can be rebuilt and usable.

What a mess.

News. Pics. Video.

KCBS coverage
Chronicle coverage
NWZCHIK checks in

From the too-much-time-on-their-hands department: online Etch-A-Sketch

Online Etch-a-Sketch

Click screen to clear. Use arrow keys to control.

[Arleen wrote about this.]

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Are you ocean people?


It is the mission of The Ocean Channel to provide 'ocean people' from around the world with a comprehensive and centralized source of ocean news, education, conservation, and entertainment.


Focus is the aggregation, production and distribution of premium ocean content for an array of media--specifically, broadband Internet, television, and DVD home video

Deep resource. Conservation issues. Film.

It is only through knowledge and education that we can expect our audience to recognize the challenges the sea faces now and in the future.

Wander through this one.

The earth shook, people died, the reefs rose, a PT boat is now sitting 10 feet out of water

Quake brings WWII PT boat up from ocean floor

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Wreckage from a World War II torpedo boat was tossed up from the sea in the Solomon Islands after a powerful 8.1 earthquake hit the area in early April, an official said Friday.

Jay Waura of the National Disaster Management Office said the explosive-laden boat was exposed when reefs were pushed up three meters (10 feet) above sea level by the April 2 quake, which caused a devastating tsunami in the western Solomon Islands that killed 52 people.

The Solomons' coastline is still littered with decaying military wrecks from World War II, including the torpedo patrol boat commanded by U.S. President John F. Kennedy.


Do you have your earthquake kit ready?

Amazing Cake Art

Amazing Cake Art (more than just the one cake pictured below) found at englishrussia.com -- allegedly totally edible, allegedly made by Zhanna from St. Petersburg.

[repurposed from SG's tumblr site]

Doll Face by Andy Huang

Doll Face by Andy Huang ~4min.

Doll Face follows a machine's struggle to construct its own identity.

Strange. Thought provoking.

[Lifted from halsted's del.icio.us links]

Margaret Dorothy Killam Atwood

This week the Globe and Mail published the obit for Margaret Dorothy Killam Atwood, who died last December, aged 97.

What a wonderful homage to Margaret Atwood's mother, written by the daughter.

The obit begins,

Someone said to me recently, 'You must have had an unusual mother.' True enough.


[from SG's cosa nostra blog]

Update: with any luck the new link won't ask you to pay for the obit text. ...

Friday, April 27, 2007

'copters circling

The last time I heard multiple 'copters circling overhead was when morning broke on 27 February, the day a piece of Telegraph Hill slid down onto buildings on Broadway. All the news crews were out with first light to get pictures of the pile o' rock.

... but what's up this afternoon?

Checked sfgate.com. Nada.

Checked kpix.com which morphed into cbs5.com.

Ah, yes. Silly, forgetful moi.

It's the last Friday of the month.

Critical Mass starts at 6p.

The bicyclists are starting to gather at Justin Herman Plaza, just >>> over there.

Last month's Critical Mass turned real ugly and most of blogville seemed to take sides in the aftermath.

Here's hoping tonight's peaceful and hoping his nibs remembered and will be home before the mass moves.

Film clips from yesteryear

The Web's a wonder ...

Film clip of the opening of the world's largest bridge. 1937.

[spotted on Curbed SF]

Bye, bye, incandescents. Sorta

I don't have much influence in Sacramento so when the news came out the other day that AB 722 (introduced by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys) had emerged from the Utilities and Commerce Committee and was on its way to the Appropriations Committee, I didn't yack about it one way or the other.

Earlier this week, though, Don yacked about it and when I went off to track down what the bill really says (rather than what blogville and media meisters tell me), I found that the bill is more sensible than it's been given credit for and isn't really quite so precious and idiotic as some folks have opined.

Text of AB 722

(1) 2012 is five years away. People will have time to get used to it.

(2) General Electric says they can produce incandescents that use far less electricity. Mandate energy use, GE says. Don't ban incandescents. Q for GE: If you could do it, why haven't you?

(3) The bill doesn't affect bulbs less than 25 watts or greater than 150 watts.

(4) And just look at the exceptions!

A general service incandescent lamp does not include an
appliance lamp, black light lamp, bug lamp, colored lamp, enhanced
spectrum lamp, infrared lamp, left-hand tread
[sic] lamp, marine lamp,
marine signal service lamp, mine service lamp, plant light, reflector
lamp, rough service lamp, shatter resistant lamp, sign service lamp,
silver bowl lamp, showcase lamp, three-way lamp, traffic signal
lamp, or vibration service or vibration resistant lamp.

No worries about the light in your oven, folks. You people, and you know who you are, who um. use plant lights? No worries.

Don't know what kinds of lights some of those are? I tracked down a nice little publication on Appliance Efficiency Regulations from the California Energy Commission (the outfit that defined general service incandescent lamp) that explains (among other things) what all these different sorts of lamps are.

The left-handed tread lamp? Well, turns out "Left-handed thread lamp" means a lamp on which the base screws into a lamp socket in a counter-clockwise direction, and screws out of a lamp socket in a clockwise direction.

So when all's said and done, I'm not griping about this legislation. Turn in those bulbs. Fluorescents work better these days and light up fast enough to be used with motion sensors. Certain new fluorescents can even be used with dimmer switches.

There's a new world coming.

More info here.

2901 Broadway, SF

The folks selling 2901 Broadway (Broadway at Baker) have finally come up with a price. (They originally said the place was priceless and anyone wanting to buy it would have to come up with an offer that reflected what it was worth.)

Price? $55m

SFNewsletter has an entertaining take (Comparison Shopping) on the price. Puts the price in perspective, doesn't it?

Reminds me of those descriptions of a trillion dollars and how many times a trillion dollar bills laid end to end would wrap around the Earth. (four thousand times)

Some history on 2901 Broadway.

Real estate porn from the listing agents.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Dang! Meeting notes. Port of San Francisco: January 25, 2007

Meeting notes. Port of San Francisco: January 25, 2007

I'd been searching for more information about the proposal to develop San Francisco's new (and needed!) cruise ship terminal using the existing terminal at Pier 35 and the overflow terminal at Pier 27 (instead of Piers 30-32) when ... buried there in the midst of it all in the January 2007 Port Authority meeting notes, "Port will fund demolition of P36 in Port's FY 07-08 budget."

No... no... nonononononono....


  Posted by Picasa  Posted by PicasaTaken 10 Aug 2006

Funny. We'd been at the Telegraph Hill Dwellers meeting on 26 Feb 2007. Monique Moyer, Port Director, was the speaker. I specifically asked during the Q&A session what was happening with Pier 36 and she did not say they were putting funding to take it down in the next budget.


I asked her later about it too after the meeting was over and she did not say it was a done deal. She said it would cost $5m to demolish Pier 36. She also said that if anyone wanted to refurbish it, they'd have to spend $5m to take it down and then spend whatever it took to rebuild it.

If I could only win the Lotto!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Baldwin sez sorry for ripping his 11-year-old daughter, but Basinger has driven me 'to the edge'

Baldwin sez sorry for ripping his 11-year-old daughter, but Basinger has driven me 'to the edge'

Yah yah yah. Wah wah wah. Excuses. Excuses.

sniff -- I'm so sorry for ya, Alec.

I think the most telling thing of this (yes, brutal) phone message (text here) left for Baldwin's eleven-year-old daughter is this

I don't care that you're twelve or eleven or whatever, are you pig [or so the transcript reads. maybe should be "big"?] enough to pick it up? I'm a good father, and you're a pig. I don't give a shit. Good father. You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you thoughtless pain in the ass?

So. Does Alec think his daughter that he loves so much is twelve? or does he think she's eleven?

Why doesn't he even know fer sure how old she is?

What a darling he is.

Walk around in the neighborhood

A few neighbors had a walk around in the neighborhood last evening from 6 until, well, after getting home and clearing up our messes, it was 2 a.m.

The first of more I hope.

The original idea was something K and I hatched when she was new to the neighborhood and didn't know anyone. She'd dropped in at a party next door hosted by P & Y and introduced herself.

We both left at the same time and I invited her in to take a look around. We talked about how entertaining it would be to have a party where everyone could poke noses into each other's places instead of having to wait until the place was for sale and the agents were showing a real estate open house.

But then we were gone, and then K was gone and then we were gone again and then P and Y were gone and we were ...

Finally in February Y and I were talking about it again.

"We'll be gone in late March/early April. March isn't good."

"Let's just choose a date and a few people and we'll plan a smallish gathering and expand it to include more neighbors later if we have fun."

"How about later. How about April. How about the weekend after taxes are due. Okay by you?"

"Okay by me."

"If the date's okay with K, we're on."

And it was. ...

We sent out invites. Y sorted out who would be where on the walk around. We all gathered at K's down the walk where she and M, who lives in the same building, provided cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at 6p. Then, on to A's next door for salad (and to catch a glimpse of S and B's brand-new (as of Sunday) baby) and then to P and Y for tapas and then here for more tapas and then down to the next walk down (in the pouring rain) to J's for dessert and coffee, hosted by J with help from J and G.

Fun time was had by all.

Tapas here were empanadas: (1)cashew chicken with a honey/soy sauce (2) homemade pesto and toasted pine nuts (3) marinated beef with onion and peppers (4) sausage and peppers and cheese.

The pastry was kind of tossed together because I couldn't find the butter pastry recipe I remembered so I checked what ratios Christopher Kimball used for fat to flour (he used part butter and part vegetable shortening) and made up two batches of pastry. Chilled in frig. Rolled and filled and pat-a-cake pat-a-cake. The pastry ingredients for both batches combined were simply 5C flour, 1 pound butter and about 12T cold water. Easy peasy.

The cooking of the various fillings, the cooling of same, the making of the pastry, the rolling of circles, the filling of the pastry circles and the crimping and the baking until almost done so I could finish the baking in just a few minutes after the party arrived here took far longer than I'd thought it would, but it all turned out as good as I'd hoped and there were a few left over.

Reheated empanadas for bfst. Ym.

We're already talking of another one. More neighbors. More fun. Next time!

Have to start planning now, though. I checked this morning. That original party where I met K and we started talking about a walkaround party? November 2005.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Gonzales "has the full confidence''

Bloomberg.com: U.S. -- "Gonzales 'has the full confidence'"

Reminds me of my corporate days back when when someone would be "advanced" and moved to an office (with a window!) to pursue five-year plans.

"Full confidence"

"heck of a job, Brownie"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

[WRITING JOBS] Funny media-spoofing writer? This one's for you!

FUNNY WRITERS WANTED for media spoofing

Archer, this one's for you! SG, you too. (You could be the EU correspondent!) Kos.

Or ...

Have at it, folks.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

RIP Jill May

Her children pay their respects.

No one should ever ever die this way.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I'll be with you in cherry blossom time ...

As luck would have it, that's when we arrived.

As luck would have it.

Japan - cherry blossoms

Hana-mi (cherry blossom viewing) is a BIG DEAL in Japan. The weather reports for weeks beforehand track and predict when the cherries will bloom and which weekend will be the "official" weekend for sakura viewing so that everyone can make their plans. (Typical plans: picnic in the park under the cherry trees with friends. Drink sake. Maybe to excess.)

All the usual sites were swarming with locals on holiday to see the cherry blossoms. Some of the sites were open free for the public in honor of the season. Several of our guides warbled the sakura song over the bus speakers for us. (Some better than others, but all with enthusiasm.)


A few years back, we decided to take the oldest grandchild on a trip with us, sans parents or siblings, after she turned twelve. My friend Susie had done this with her grandchildren and thought it was an excellent experience. Twelve is just old enough, she said, and not too far into the teen years. A perfect age.

"Anywhere in the world," we told W. (Disney* and USAn spots excepted. ...)

W. chose Japan because she likes sushi and octopus and squid and gardens and anime and manga. Could we arrange all that? We could.

We started planning long before she had her bday in January.

A woman on our trip last fall to Xingiang Province (China) and the Hunza Valley (Pakistan) said she'd made a trip with her grandchild at about that age and suggested we use the service she had, a service that arranges group tours for grandparents and their grandchildren.

Um. No.

The point wasn't just to go traveling with a grandchild. The point was to have adventures, to break out of your cocoon, to get lost and found again. We wanted to do this trip as a welcome-to-the-rest-of-the-world, not as a guided and safe tour with a batch of other twelve-year-olds and their grandparents.

We'd arrange for touring so we could get to and around the sights, but we would not be caught in a group with the same people for day after day. We'd be on our own -- with the safety net of tours booked and hotel rooms and transportation arranged.

We confab'd on a date with her mother. Which should it be, after school gets out in June (when it can horribly hot and sticky in Japan) or sometime in spring (when W'd have to miss some school for the trip)?

We settled on Spring Break which, when teamed up with a teacher-in-service day that the students got off, gave us enough time to fly W. out from the wilds of the back of beyond, layover one day in San Francisco (in case her flight out was delayed), fly to Japan and spend nine days or so poking around, fly back and layover one day in San Francisco, before sending her home in time for her family Easter. She'd only miss a few days of school.

We set up plane tickets on our own and arranged hotel rooms and transport and Sunrise tours with JTB, on the advice of a work mate of his nibs, who had successfully taken her own family groups to Japan using JTB's services. "Here's what we offer," JTB says. Choose the poshness of hotel you'd like. Tell us what you want to see. Abracadabra!

If we were taking a train from here to there to get to a hotel they'd booked or to hookup with a sight-see they'd arranged, a JTB staffer would make sure we had our tickets and didn't miss our rendezvous.

The trains in Japan run on time.


25 Mar W. arrives from the hinterlands, flying solo. Southwest allows twelve-year-olds to fly without requiring "unaccompanied minor" status. W's first adventure: flying on her own without an adult keeping tabs on her. We made sure the flight was non-stop; we didn't want her to have the adventure of missing a connecting flight. Southwest gave her mom a pass that allowed her past security so she could sit in the waiting area until W's flight boarded.

27 Mar Leave SFO before lunch.

28 Mar Arrive Narita. Airport bus to hotel in Shinagawa district.

29 Mar We grabbed a Sunrise Tours shuttle from our hotel that took us to the Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal next to the World Trade Center. We turned in our chits for tour tickets and boarded our Sunrise tour bus for a morning tour of Tokyo spots: Tokyo Tower, Imperial Palace,

Imperial Palace, Tokyo

drive through Ueno and the Akihabara on way to Asakusa Kannon Temple

Japan - Asakusa Kannon Temple

and Nakamise Shopping Street. The tour ends (surprisingly, eh?) at the Tasaki Pearl Gallery which gave us an explanation of how cultured pearls are produced, gave us an opportunity to look at their wares (Shop! Shop! Shop!) and then, very nicely, drove us and the other scores of folk who had also been dropped off at Tasaki back to our hotels.

His nibs and W. went back to Akihabara by train to check out the manga offerings. Some buildings had five! six! floors of manga!

30 Mar The bus picked us up at the hotel again and took us to the Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal, again. We were starting to get a feel for how JTB worked. We caught the Sunrise tour to see Toshogu Shrine at Nikko,

Toshogu Shrine, Nikko

Irohazaka zigzag drive up to Kegon Waterfall and Lake Chuzenji at the foot of Mt.Nantai. Irohazaka zigzag driveway down the mountains, and bus back to Tokyo with a drop-off in the Ginza district after dark when all the neon was blazing.

The bus had a problem getting to its usual stopping spot in the Ginza when the driver found the left lane of the street blocked off. When the guide tried to move the cones so we could pull up to the curb, a police officer came over and yelled at them.

"I've never seen this before," our guide said, as the bus circled around for ten minutes to find a spot to drop us off somewhere near the train station.

What's this? Turns out the left lane of the main drag had been blocked off for a political action march. Streams of people were marching down the main Ginza drag in the far left lane, making noise and waving signs. Multiple unions represented, hundreds of folks, signs.

The guide claimed she couldn't really tell what it was all about. She said she'd never seen anything like it before.

Man, I need to learn to be halfway proficient in kanji and kana. I wondered what the signs really said.

Had no grasp of the language this time. Oh,well. For sure before we go again. Caught the train back to the hotel.

31 Mar Leave Tokyo. Caught the shuttle bus at the hotel. Off to the bus station with our bags. Onto the Sunrise tour bus with our bags and on to Mt. Fuji. Up to the fifth stage for viewing. Snow. The bus continued on to Hakone and Lake Ashi. The winds were wicked up at the fifth stage and elsewhere. The cableride we were scheduled for at Hakone was swapped for a less gusty one as the cable we'd intended to ride had shut down for safety reasons.

01 Apr Our bags for Kyoto were whisked away and we bus'd to Odawara with minimum luggage to catch the Shinkansen to Nagoya where we picked up Kato-san, our guide for the next three days. Took the limited-express train to Takayama where we checked into hotel and walked about with Kato-san to the Yatai Kaikan Hall (festival floats) and the Kusakabe Folkcraft Museum and roamed the old town.

We stopped by a soy sauce manufacturer and had some delish miso soup and nuggets of sesame candy. I bought some tasty sesame candies for our beast sitter, who does not need any more trinkets.

Something to eat, I thought. That's the ticket. (Hi, Auntie K!)

Our hotel room's "third" bed this time was a tatami room instead of the sleeper sofa we were routinely given as our third bed. We let W. sleep in the authentic tatami room style.

02 Apr Miyagawa morning market in Takayama and shop! shop! shop! (I am such a shopper! as everyone knows ...) We took the bus toward Lake Miboro and along the Shokawa River. Folk museum of the old Toyama family. On to Shirakawago, a village under heritage protection.

Japan - Shirakawago

(Nothing like the protections at St Cirq Lapopie in the Dordogne, France, but still strict enough that it's no cakewalk to make a living or live in Shirakawago. The younger population is moving away. ...)

On to Gokayama for a demo of Washi paper making, including making our own to take home as a souvenir. Continue to Kanazawa, singing Karaoke on the bus. No, really!

03 Apr Kanzawa tour. Kanazawa Castle's Kenroku-en Garden. Lovely.

Japan - Kanazawa. Kenroku-en Garden.

Admission to the Kenroku-en Garden was free for the day in honor of sakura. Then we were off to Kutaniyaki Pottery kiln where we watched potters throw pots and poked our heads into the kiln building and elsewhere. I bought a very pretty little bowl made by the fifth generation potter/owner. On to Higashi-chaya street and the Eastern Pleasure Quarter with a tour of a geisha house then on to Farmer House "Shima".

Said "Sayonara" to Kato-san and off on a train to Kyoto. Dinner at a restaurant next door to the hotel and up a floor. The staff had no English, but they'd had their pictures out front, so his nibs put restaurant slippers on and went out with the purveyor to point out which dishes we wanted. I had tobiko sushi. His nibs had unagi. W. had grilled cuttlefish. We were all happy campers.

04 Apr Kyoto: Golden Pavilion,

Japan - Asakusa Kannon Temple

Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace. Lunch at Handicraft Center. The buffet was booked out for anyone without a reservation so if we'd shown up there without a ticket, we'd've been out of luck. The buffet was just so-so. Why so popular? Busy times, these cherry blossom days. Sanjusangendo, Heian Shrine, Kiyomizu Temple.

Japan - Asakusa Kannon Temple

Popped on the bullet train and back to Tokyo. We wanted to get off at the Shinagawa station, where our hotel was, but the staff handing us our train tickets told us QUITE EXPLICITLY that we were to get off at the Tokyo station, that the JTB staff was expecting us at the Tokyo station and wanted to make sure we'd arrived before they popped us into a taxi back to our hotel in the Shinagawa area. OK. If you say so. Cost an extra 3000¥ and forty-five minutes, but they made sure we hadn't somehow got lost between getting on the Shinkansen and arriving.

05 Apr Hotel bus to Narita. Flight was to leave around 9:30a, but we had a three hour delay for "mechanical problems." Long line of people at the counter, rearranging connecting flights. Not us. We were back to SFO, through Customs some time after noon and home-again home-again riggety-jig.

Photos will get appropriate labels that reflect what they are better than DSCN6*** some time soon-ish.

For now, the batch of trip photos (sans labels) are here.

Added comment: Something we'd never had before on any trip we'd been on. We were the only Americans we encountered on the entire trip until we were in Narita waiting for a plane back to SFO. Throughout our Japanese adventures, we were always in English-language tours, but the tourists were from Finland, Wales, England, Australia (loads of Australians), a multi-generational family of eight from Singapore and tourists from other parts of the world eastwestnorthsouth.

No other Americans. How weird is that?

For Paula: What to ask for for Mother's Day.