: views from the Hill

Friday, June 29, 2007

LOLcat builder

For Mz UV 'cause she lurves LOLcats. Seen this?

LolCat Builder

21 Napier Lane. Eight DOM

Bumped into one of our local Realtors last night at the annual Best of the Bay Area fundraiser/party/see-and-be-seen.

We'd last seen Jeffrey at an open house down the way on Sunday. We'd poked through the place. Three units. Top unit is vacant and has been rehabbed. We introduced ourselves to a new tenant/neighbor who moved in less than a month ago into the middle unit. Tenant/neighbor works at Linden Labs and can walk to work. His unit is in a more original state than the vacant upper unit. We didn't see the bottom unit.

Last night Jeffrey told us the place we'd been through was in escrow.

Eight days on the market before getting a signed offer.

Downturn anyone?

StumbleUpon - SalT's Web site reviews

StumbleUpon - SalT's StumbleUpon Web site reviews

Since I started with StumbleUpon umpty ump (March 17, 2004) years ago, I've rated 1777 sites and, must admit, sometimes spend months without checking in. These days I not only put links on my blog but also put links on Tumblr and links on del.icio.us and, sometimes, on StumbleUpon.

I'm not dutiful about my StumbleUpon duties.

Obviously. ...

Just came across starspirit, who has rated 124,289 sites.

Zounds. Even gmc has only rated 17962 but then he's been busy building SU into something eBay wanted to buy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Some folks with faaaaar too much time on their hands

(For those who can't embed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kvdq8cRNBM)

Rube Goldberg cooks ramen.

For jeffkos 'cause we all know how much he likes ramen and because I'm tinkering with the bookmarks I recently moved to http://del.icio.us/towse and I happen to be poking around in foodie links and came across Matt Fischer's (moved since I first found it while he was at umr.edu) Official Ramen Homepage which eventually led me to YouTube (as all things do) and 'cause kos said the bikini wax post "did nothing to help my day along. Not a thing." Here's something to help your day along, Jeff. The things I will do for my funs.

Just six and a half minutes of your time. (You could be watching an egg hardboil.) This is better. Trust me.

NOTE: Japanese play-by-play ...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

SFist: Oh No, Ed Jew!: Swear To God

SFist: Oh No, Ed Jew!: Swear To God

OK. You have to live in this fair ville, maybe, to get a chuckle out of this picture.

Don't know why? Try this.

And as long as we're discussing pain and fashion

On Your Feet by January W. Payne (yes, no kidding, payne) Washington Post Staff Writer. Subtitled: How do shoes affect your feet? Is there a good way to walk in heels? Want to know about Morton's neuroma? How about hammertoe and pump bumps?

A quick snippet from the middle:

One of trendiest shoes this season is YSL's platform "Tribute" -- with a tottering 5 1/2 -inch heel. Often painstakingly selected to complete outfits, shoes like these put stress not just on feet, but on ankles, knees and backs, contributing to the approximately $3.5 billion spent annually in the United States for women's foot surgeries, which cause them to lose 15 million work days yearly.


(mentioned in the comments tail of the previously mentioned aetiology post)

The things women do for beauty--or, beware the bikini wax

The things women do for beauty--or, beware the bikini wax

Tara C. Smith, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, University of Iowa, creates a post with serious ewww factor.

Here's the background: A woman with untreated Type 1 diabetes (making her susceptible to infections) gets a bikini wax. ... She comes down with a fever, swelling and pain where the bikini wax works its magic, waited another week to find a doctor. ... and ...

She presented to the ER with not only "grossly swollen" external genitalia, and pain so extreme that she had to be put under general anesthetic just so her physician could perform a gynecologic exam. She was so swollen that, according to the legend to Figure 1 (which you can find online, as the article is freely available), "she was unable to pass urine, and the vaginal space was obliterated by edema."


The patient also had a rash over her chest and neck. From these clinical signs and the subsequent isolation of S. pyogenes from a urine culture and sample of the vaginal discharge, she was diagnosed with streptococcal cellulitis and toxic shock syndrome, and was also found to have an active herpes simplex virus type 1 infection.


Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ....

[via pharyngula. Thanks for the intro to Dr. Smith and aetiology, a blog that discusses "causes, origins, evolution, and implications of disease and other phenomena."]

Plazes - Right Plaze, Right People, Right Time


Interesting app especially now. Everyone's weirded out about "them" knowing where we are and what we're up to. Sure! Use Plazes! Tell the world!

"You have no privacy. Get over it." as Scott McNealy famously said a few years back.

Check out the TechCrunch article from earlier this month -- Plazes CEO Busted By His Own Product -- for a sample of what's in store.

FOIA - CIA releases the "Family Jewels"

Available online at the CIA FOIA site

Two significant collections of previously classified historical documents are now available in the CIA's FOIA Electronic Reading Room.

The first collection, widely known as the "Family Jewels," consists of almost 700 pages of responses from CIA employees to a 1973 directive from Director of Central Intelligence James Schlesinger asking them to report activities they thought might be inconsistent with the Agency's charter.

The second collection, the CAESAR-POLO-ESAU papers, consists of 147 documents and 11,000 pages of in-depth analysis and research from 1953 to 1973. The CAESAR and POLO papers studied Soviet and Chinese leadership hierarchies, respectively, and the ESAU papers were developed by analysts to inform CIA assessments on Sino-Soviet relations.

According to ABC News The recruitment of mafia men to plan the assassination of Fidel Castro, the wiretapping and surveillance of journalists who reported on classified material, and the two-year confinement in the United States of a KGB defector -- those are just a few of the past CIA activities revealed in documents released Tuesday. [...]

Update:A more in-depth look at some of the "activities inconsistent with the Agency's charter" from The Seattle PI.

[UPDATE] Angora fire

The fire's jumped the fire break and is down at Emerald Bay Road. Propane tanks exploding. All hell and all that breaking loose. Fire folks are evacuating Tallac Village.

ABC News coverage
SF Chronicle coverage

Why you may not want to be named for an ancestor

Ichabod Ebenezer Fiske

Or, being a girl, I could've been named for Ichabod Ebenezer Fiske's grandmother -- Mehitable Fiske.

Paris Hilton's Prosecutor Under Scrutiny

Paris Hilton's Prosecutor Under Scrutiny

"He was living in somewhat of a glass house," said Raphael Sonenshein, a political scientist at California State University, Fullerton.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Will not rent (really!) to people from Belgium

From Craigslist via Curbed SF

Room for a Woman in a No Guests Place

... and please if you decide to rent this furnished bedroom from this piano teacher, don't come to me a month down the road, crying and twisting your hanky.

S.F. condo rules snarl FBI agent's plans

S.F. condo rules snarl FBI agent's plans
by Adam Martin, The Examiner

The buyer is suing everyone involved, it seems. Who do you think is at fault here?
  • The brother of the deceased owner, who sold the place at market price when it was a restricted Below Market unit? [maybe he didn't know]

  • The buyer (an attorney) for not checking the title report that showed the restriction? [maybe she lets her "people" deal with the details when it's not a court case]

  • The real estate folks on both the seller and buyer side who didn't check into whether the unit was a Below Market unit? [anything to do with the commission being based on sale price?]

  • The appraiser who didn't check whether there were Below Market restrictions and appraised it at market price?

  • The butcher?

  • The baker?

  • The candlestick maker?
The comments tail is a doozie.

[via Curbed SF]

For sale: 366 Lovell, Mill Valley

Have $4.395m to spare? Check out 366 Lovell

I especially like the open doors onto the deck, and the view.

Ah, well.

Angora Fire updates

Back from our annual week at Camp, obviously.

Yesterday we were heading south to the annual Men's Club dinner and had KCBS on. They made mention of a fire in the South Lake Tahoe area. Uh. Oh. We'd just returned from that neck of the woods.

Seems the fire started up on Angora Ridge and the Angora Lakes Resort had been evacuated. Homes were ashes. The fire raged with no control in sight.

This noon, news isn't much better. 240+ structures burnt. 160+ of those someone's home. 2500 acres. Less than 10% contained. All from a fire reported less than a day ago, a fire probably caused by human activity as there was no trace of lightning or other natural cause before the fire began.

Camp Richardson, out on Emerald Bay Road in South Lake Tahoe, has been evacuated. I'm assuming that means Camp has been evacuated too. Those skinny, twisty roads that take people into and out of the lakes areas and the Desolation Wilderness would not be the best things to depend on if the fire is roaring down the mountainside toward you, especially if the people on the road include your family, another sixty or seventy families from Camp, all the people with family cabins and the people at the resort across the lake.

The El Dorado County Sheriff has a PDF up which gives the status of homes in the area. So far, the home of the only family we know on Tahoe Mountain has a status of "OK."

When we were at Camp, we learned that the fire crew stationed at the lake (including the Camp director and other Camp staff) had already been called out on fires four times this season and the season has just begun. "This doesn't bode well," we said. We all agreed that the area was a tinderbox and something had to be done to get the fire crackly vegetation crap out from under the trees and do some serious fire fuel/tinder abatement and not dawdle around with a bit here and a bit there and the ten year plan.

Hope our fire teams have the fire under control soon.

Four more months of high fire danger in the state.

x'd fingers.

Update: Map of burned area (so far) courtesy of sfgate.com. "Lily Lake" is mislabeled. Should be "Upper Echo Lake" and "Lower Echo Lake" (the larger one). Weird to think how different it all must be from the area I was hiking in just last week.

Update2: Web site says that Camp was evacuated yesterday afternoon. When staff is given the all clear to return, they'll pack up the belongings left behind in the cabins and ship them to campers who had to split in such a hurry.

The guy in charge and seven staphers are at Camp to do what they can to keep it from burning but have been told they MUST get on boats and get out to the center of the lake if the fire comes down onto camp grounds and their stretch of the lake shore.

Don't get heroic, guys. We all love the place, but ...

Updated news from the Chron

[URL] Swivel

Love data and mashups and obscure weird factoids and coincidences?

Check out Swivel.

For a taste of what's on-site, check out Tasty Data Goodies

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards supports same-sex marriage

"I don't know why somebody else's marriage has anything to do with me. I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage."

Well, yay! Hooray!

We were at breakfast in the communal dining room yesterday when a friend stopped by. "Congratulations for making history," she said to the older younger one and his partner.

History? Maybe. So far as we know, Friday night was a first at Camp.

Friday night at the hugely popular Camp week-roundup slide show, the sequence of "couples photos" taken against the backdrop of Lower Falls included photos of the two.

The photos were met with applause and some cheers. (One of those cheers and some wild applause were mine.)

The pair was congratulated afterwards, although I'm sure some folks had their knickers twisted. Too bad. The guys were disappointed three years ago -- the last time the older younger one and his partner had come to Camp with us and a few short months after their marriage was declared void -- when, for the first time ever, the Camp photographers chose not to show any couples photos at all in the slide show.

The times they are a-changing.

(What? That nice young man who's been coming to Camp since he was three is gay? And that "friend" of his whom he brought is his "partner"? Mabel, get the smelling salts! Haven't they heard of don't ask, don't tell?)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Eric Burdon, remember him?

I'm just like so bummed.

His nibs sez, "Hey. Look at this!"

Eric Burdon and the Animals are playing at the Chukchansi Gold Resort And Casino in Coarsegold, CA.


[heart sinks]

Those were the days, my friend.

[/heart sinks]

MyWire Top Stories

MyWire Top Stories

I mentioned I think -- or maybe it was in a different space -- that I moved all my bookmarks into del.icio.us last week and I'm working my way through, updating, changing, deleting, deciding whether a given bookmark should be "public" or not ...

I click on old bookmarks. Sometimes they are dead as a doornail. Sometimes they shift you over to a new URL. Sometimes ...

Came across this one just now that had really morphed.

A while ago I was trying to decide whether to give up some magazine subscriptions and (truth tell) piles of old magazines -- archives of periodicals that I might look at once every three years and, instead, sign on AND PAY $4.95/mo to KeepMedia, which offered 150+ titles online.

We sympathize with the postal carrier who, not just for us but also for others, walks down 40+ stairs from the nearest street to reach the cross path that connects with our walking path. He walks down the path to our stoop and up 18+ steps to our door to deliver our mail and magazines. And back down again and up and down again and up ... as he walks down our walking path, delivering mail.

He walks another almost 100 steps down the steps to the next walking path to deliver another batch of mail.

Maybe, I thought, we could lighten his load.

I thought about it, do I want to give up my physical magazines, um. I thought about it, set it aside, thought about it. ...

Turns out good thing I didn't tie my wagon to that horse.

KeepMedia is now MyWire.com and a fine app MyWire.com may be, but it's not what KeepMedia promised.

Word to the wise. Those packrats amongst us worry about stuff like this ... give up your physical archives? Trust the Web? Trust the vendor not to change his business model?


Badgers! Foxes! Rabbits!

Badgers! Foxes! Rabbits!

New tumbleblog for stashing interrrrresting stuff. Between del.icio.us (still processing thousands of bookmarked URLs) and tumblr and stumbleupon and twitter ... I'm getting all Web2.0'd out.

[URL] morguefile.com Where photo reference lives.

morguefile.com Where photo reference lives.

A place to keep post production materials for use of reference, an inactive job file. This morgue file contains free high resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use.

The term 'morgue file' is popular in the newspaper business to describe the file that holds past issues flats. Although the term has been used by illustrators, comic book artist, designers and teachers as well. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits. This is the world wide web's morguefile.

Amazing resource. (Oooh. Shiny! Pretty pictures!) Thanks, SourGrapes.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dashiell Hammett's old studio apartment is up for sale

Dashiell Hammett's old studio apartment is up for sale.

(That would be me that socketsite.com refers to as their "plugged-in reader.")

307 sq ft. *only* $249K

Book sorting progress

... of sorts.

Doesn't help to be tied down here because the solar guys were supposed to put the panels back up on the new roof today but never showed. Maybe tomorrow his nibs will work from home and set me free to sort some more ...

Sour Grapes offers in comments re Barchester Towers If I win you can have it. I've got it already.

Thanks. I was just feeling left out because I wanted to enter the contest too! I'm pretty sure I have a copy somewhere -- probably in a box marked "classics" or "misc" or "fiction" or ...

The book sorting goes apace. Well, "at a pace" anyway.

All travel books (except for USA travel) are out of their boxes and shifted over to adjacent bookcases, sorted by continent and country. The BENELUX titles and others of the ilk are a problem. I found multiple copies of some titles, which seems always the case, but not that many multiples. Even with the travel books settled, I get sidetracked thumbing through old travel books about Venice and travel memoirs and ... well, I get sidetracked a lot.

After I shifted and sorted the travel books, I moved the cookbooks that were in the shelves over there over thataway to fill in the empty shelves where the travel books had been (adjacent to the bulk of the cookbooks) so now all the cookbooks are in one bank of shelves instead of scattered around. There are still boxes (six or so) that are boxed up because there's no shelf space plus an additional box with a set of "Grande Diplome" cookbooks that I picked up used somewhere and two boxes that are filled with the Time-Life cookbook series that I picked up used here and there over time. A friend asked if I'd be willing to give her a set of Time-Life cookbooks and I said sure, but she's got to get herself over and pick them up.

Most of the cookbooks still in boxes are "community cookbook" sorts of titles. I've sorted the titles on the shelves into "baking" "country-specific" "barbecue" "old" "San Francisco" "California" sorts of categories.

On the shelves after sorting, I discovered multiple editions of the Household Searchlight Recipe Book: three from different years in the '30s, two from the '40s and a couple from the '50s. (The name changed to the Searchlight Recipe Book in 1942.) Different editions! Keep them all! Well, no. Turns out even though the books have different edition numbers and different publication dates, the contents of the 1st-14th editions are the same, according to this site.

I have multiple editions of Fannie Farmer's cookbook, two copies of Larousse Gastronomique, multiple copies of James Beard books, two copies of Rene Verdon's The White House Chef Cookbook (and tell me, should that be a general USA cookbook or should I put it in "San Francisco" because Verdon ran Le Trianon here for years?) There are, of course, multiple copies of some Sunset cookbooks, multiple copies of other titles. I filled up two boxes worth of duplicates for the library. The weirdest, though, was the duplicate copy of Madame Chang's Long Life Chinese Cookbook. Two copies? How did that ever happen?

The cookbooks are pretty well sorted now, although I may find that I have a French dessert cookbook in with dessert cookbooks and another copy in with French cookbooks. Those will sort out in time.

Next up is to start getting the SFF in order. My SFF books are the most likely to have duplicates because my brother and I had copies of the same books in our collections and those collections combined after he died. The most egregious example of too many copies of a title is a Heinlein title for which I wound up with two paperback copies, two hardbacks and one mass market paperback.

I'll take the empty bookcases that had held cookbooks and setup a rough sort (A-Z by author, 'natch) of the SFF books and winnow out the duplicates. I won't be able to get all of them on the empty shelves I have remaining, but I can at least sort through them in alphabetic shifts. Thanks be that I had the SFF boxed separately from the fiction, and labeled so I could find them in amongst all the piles.

After the pass through the SFF is complete, I'll start sorting through all the boxes labeled MISC and VERY MISC and NFIC and, of course, those boxes that are somehow unlabeled. I'll get the books organized in some sort of fashion so I can easily see that I have two copies of How to Build Your Dream House for Less Than $3500 and get rid of duplicates. (Yes, I know I have two copies, maybe three of that book. I'd bought one for myself, you see, because I'd loved my parents' copy. I gave a copy to my brother because I knew he'd love it. I may have bought a spare at some time too. ...)

I'll rough-sort the misc and pull out the fiction titles and the juv and sort the rest into some broad categories: science, essays/memoirs, biography/autobiography, history, reference, gardening, computers ... I don't know. I need to think out the sort before I get seriously into it or I'll wind up sorting and resorting and ...

I also have all the boxes of books that are already labeled "science" and "physics" and "law" and "reference" and whatever that I needs must go through because there was some higglety-pigglety-ness in the boxing up before the move and who knows what may have been tucked into an almost-full box at the last minute.

Once I can lay out all the PHYSICS or GEOLOGY or SOFTWARE DESIGN books in one place I can get a handle on duplicates and other titles that I don't need to save shelf space for.

Maybe along the way I'll find my copy of Barchester Towers and Vanity Fair and Morrison & Boyd's Organic Chemistry. Why own a book if I can't find it?

Yes, I am being unduly obsessive/compulsive about this (Why do you ask?) but I'm also using the exercise as one enormous procrastination project while I mull over the rewrite on the great American crime novel.

Productive procrastination, I call it. (The dupes and discards will be given to the library to use or sell! It's for the library! Think of the public libraries!)

(And I have visions of my darlings having to sort through all of Mom's old books after I take my dirt nap, looking for those of value. Better that I weed the collection now and save them at least some of the effort.)

An hour with Gavin and next year's budget

Found a link at the Sentinel to a video of Gavin presenting the 2007-2008 budget. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the photograph of Gavin to commence viewing.

The video (and the presentation) clocks in at just under an hour. Luckily, with a video you can click on the pause button if you just can't spend an hour watching him go over his proposed $6b budget.

If Gavin hasn't had a speech coach, he doesn't need one. If he has had one, that person should crow. I love watching Gavin in action. Smooth, so very smooth. Even those who don't like his message usually admit he speaks well. Watch the hands. Watch the movement back and forth with the microphone. Watch the facial expressions and listen to that roughened voice with just a bit of folksy drawl. Self deprecation. Public nods to the good things done by those rascally supervisors. Thanks, Tom Ammiano. Thanks, Ross Mirkarimi. Close your eyes and you can almost picture Clinton (that's Bill Clinton, not Senator Clinton) up at the podium.

If you don't have the patience to listen to Gavin 'xplain the budget, he did mention something cool near the very end of his presentation. This year you can access the proposed budget on line, hot links and all.

Well, that's all very well and good but I couldn't for the life of me find the proposed $$ for the public library. (Shouldn't the library be under Arts and Culture or somewhere like that? I searched everywhere) I finally had to break down and pull up the Mayor's Budget Book to find the answers to my questions.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

RIP Mr. Wizard

RIP Mr. Wizard.

During the 1960s and 1970s, about half the applicants to Rockefeller University in New York, where students work toward doctorates in science and medicine, cited Mr. Wizard when asked how they first became interested in science. [ref: International Herald Tribune]

more articles

Symptoms Found for Early Check on Ovary Cancer

Symptoms Found for Early Check on Ovary Cancer - New York Times

Published: June 13, 2007

Cancer experts have identified a set of health problems that may be symptoms of ovarian cancer, and they are urging women who have the symptoms for more than a few weeks to see their doctors.

The new advice is the first official recognition that ovarian cancer, long believed to give no warning until it was far advanced, does cause symptoms at earlier stages in many women.

The symptoms to watch out for are bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and feeling a frequent or urgent need to urinate. A woman who has any of those problems nearly every day for more than two or three weeks is advised to see a gynecologist, especially if the symptoms are new and quite different from her usual state of health.


Take note. Read the rest of the article too.

Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted - Amy E. Boyle Johnston

Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted - Amy E. Boyle Johnston, LA Weekly.


Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.

"Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was," Bradbury says, summarizing TV's content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: "factoids." He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen.

His fear in 1953 that television would kill books has, he says, been partially confirmed by television's effect on substance in the news. The front page of that day's L.A. Times reported on the weekend box-office receipts for the third in the Spider-Man series of movies, seeming to prove his point.

"Useless," Bradbury says. "They stuff you with so much useless information, you feel full." He bristles when others tell him what his stories mean, and once walked out of a class at UCLA where students insisted his book was about government censorship. He's now bucking the widespread conventional wisdom with a video clip on his Web site (http://www.raybradbury.com/at_home_clips.html), titled "Bradbury on censorship/television."

As early as 1951, Bradbury presaged his fears about TV, in a letter about the dangers of radio, written to fantasy and science-fiction writer Richard Matheson. Bradbury wrote that "Radio has contributed to our 'growing lack of attention.'... This sort of hopscotching existence makes it almost impossible for people, myself included, to sit down and get into a novel again. We have become a short story reading people, or, worse than that, a QUICK reading people."


"I was worried about people being turned into morons by TV," Bradbury says in the censorship/television video clip. The collection of clips includes his explanation of how he wrote Fahrenheit 451 in nine days in a clip titled (oddly enough) FAHRENHEIT 451.

The Bradbury site also includes a wonderful obit for Marguerite Susan McClure (Maggie) Bradbury, who died in 2003.

Anthony Trollope

Welcome to Anthony Trollope

We're bringing Trollope's world to life with character descriptions, plot summaries, details of Trollope's career as well as free e-texts of the novels to download.

It's the 150th anniversary of Barchester Towers. Stop on by. Grab a piece of cake!

The folks behind the site are giving away 50 copies of Barchester Towers. You can't win unless you enter. Deadline 30 June 2007.

Must be resident of UK to win. (It's not fair, Mom!)

Sic Press: Book Repair & Cleaning Supplies for Booksellers

Sic Press not only sells supplies but also a how-to book: UNBOUND: Book Repair for Booksellers ($16).

Sic Press also offers (free!) on-site informative how-to videos with titles like "How to Remove a Bookplate" and "Re-attaching a Single Cover."

Useful info on the Web for the bibliophiles with beat-up old books amongst us.

Robot Scans Ancient Manuscript in 3-D

The amazing world of the Web.

Robot Scans Ancient Manuscript in 3-D by Amy Hackney Blackwell

[Action takes place in Venice at the Public Library of St. Mark.]

After a thousand years stuck on a dusty library shelf, the oldest copy of Homer's Iliad is about to go into digital circulation.


To store the data, the team used a 1-terabyte redundant-disk storage system on a high-speed network. The classicists on duty backed up the data every evening on two 750-GB drives and on digital tape. Blackwell carried the hard drives home with him every night, rather than leave the data in the library.

The next step is making the images readable. The Venetus A is handwritten and contains ligatures and abbreviations that boggle most text-recognition software. So, this summer a group of graduate and undergraduate students of Greek will gather at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C., to produce XML transcriptions of the text. Eventually, their work will be posted online for anyone to search, as part of the Homer Multitext Project.

Brilliant use of technology.

Monday, June 11, 2007

On a Sunday ...

Mellow day yesterday.

I'd been planning to sort books but we couldn't figure out timing what with our evening plans. By the time I started thinking about how to spend my Sunday, it was almost midday and I'd have to get back here before 5 p.m. ... and was it worth the going and returning ... so we just continued on doing what we were doing: we hung out, French toast for breakfast, Sunday papers, picked up the figs dropped on the walking path, sat out on the wall talking with the downstairs neighbors about the roofers and repair projects, read, watered, the usual.

We left about 5 p.m., walked down to Washington Square Park and took the 30 to Market and then the 71 up Haight to Divisadero. 6 p.m. reservation at Le Metro Cafe (Divisadero and Page) and we were only five minutes or so late. The guy seating us said, "You've been here before, haven't you?"

"Yes, we had a long conversation about Nepal."

"Oh. Yes. I remember. I have news then for you. Tonight is our last night serving French food. After tonight we will close for remodeling and reopen serving Nepalese food. Small plates. The plates will be $10 or less."

"Exciting times," we said.

So we chatted about the change and how long the restaurant would be closed ("Two weeks, we hope..." We all laughed ... "Well, good luck with that," we said.) and what the new restaurant would be called ("Kathmandu").

I mentioned that my nephew had just got back from a trip to Kathmandu and Maratika and other places. (He'd spent most of his time with Rinpoche. After he got back, he sent us a very entertaining travelogue about his trip adventures with scenery shots and a shot of him with Rinpoche and street scenes and photographs of the ubiquitous Kathmandu monkeys and roosters and other folk.)

Most of the diners last night were neighbors, stopping in for a last Sunday night meal before the restaurant closed for a bit. We had a nice dinner, which I won't detail mouthful by mouthful because the next time we're there the food will be entirely different. Suffice to say, the meal was tasty. He brought us each a glass of port to go with dessert. Must've had some in the back and I suppose they won't be pouring much port in a Nepalese restaurant, but what do I know?

We finished dinner about 7:30 p.m. and walked a few blocks north and across the street to the Independent (Divisadero & Hayes) for the show, and an entertaining show it was, after some initial confusion with "doors open 7:30 p.m." on the tickets and "doors open 8:30 p.m." on the Web site ...

Opening act was Red Meat, a really good honky tonk band that started out in the Mission District going on fourteen years ago now. Red Meat has a new album due out next month. I plan to get one.

The lead act was Johnny Cash's Legendary Tennessee Three. Amazing voice the lead singer, Bob Wootton, has. The remaining two of the Tennessee Three -- guitarist Bob Wootton on vocals and the legendary (really) WS Holland on drums -- are joined by Vicky Wootton (vocals and rhythm guitar)(Bob's wife), Scarlett Wootton (guitar and vocals)(Bob's daughter. Scarlett sang a couple solo tunes and has a solo CD coming out momentarily) and Lisa Horngren (upright bass). Wootton joined the Tennessee Three back in 1968 soon after original lead guitarist Luther Perkins died in a house fire.

Last night's show opened with "Folsom Prison" and closed with "Ring of Fire" and the band and the audience had a good time in between. We had an excellent time. We is just cultured people. I bought a CD. Had the guys sign it after the show.

A numskull next to us was dancing around making twirls and dips with a beer in his hand. I moved a little away from him. He spilt beer on the jacket of the guy sitting at the bar table in front of us. Guy took his jacket off the back of the chair and told the guy to back off. Guy with the beer kept dancing. Kept spilling beer. Guy at the bar table got up to do him bodily harm and security was there before the two connected. Calmed down the guy at the bar table. Told the dancing fool to cool it. And he did for a while and then he just couldn't not dance. Security kept him away from the guy at the bar table. The evening ended without a fight on the floor. (Did I mention the guy at the bar table was BIG and had TATTOOS and had been drinking beer and looked like he worked out with some serious weights? The dancing fool would've been pulverized before he knew that he'd dropped his beer. ...)

Waited for maybe fifteen minutes at the bus stop outside NOPA and caught the 21 back to Market and then the 45 back to Washington Square Park. Home again, home again, riggety jig.

The theater in the buses was the usual both coming and going. On the way out we had cross dressers griping because the Haight Street Fair was closing down at 5:30 and they weren't going to make it in time. Grousing along next to them was a grey, long-haired, paunchy biker type who didn't like the City shutting down street fairs early and curtailing alcohol ... What a buncha mean-spirited types the folks down at City Hall are, they all agreed.

Coming back things were quieter, a bit. No happy drunks like those we had coming back from dinner at our friends' place a week ago Friday. Seems last night we'd hit the sweet spot (12:30 a.m. or so) and the buses weren't very full and were relatively quiet. Tucked in soon after 1 a.m.

All in all a mellow day. Another Sunday.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

America's Most Literate Cities 2006

Someone came through yesterday looking for information on America's most literate cities. The click on the post from August 2004 went to a 404 site. (Click since updated.)

The most recent information I could find were the 2006 results which showed, among other factors, that San Francisco has the number two slot in booksellers (behind Seattle, WA) when the following factors are considered
  • number of retail bookstores per 10K pop'n
  • number of rare and used bookstores per 10K pop'n
  • number of members of the ABA per 10K pop'n
Overall, San Francisco is #9.

Helvetica at 50

Helvetica at 50


The typeface's dominance over the past half-century, cemented by the release of Neue Helvetica in the 1980s, has now inspired a documentary, Helvetica, and exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic.

     Bland uniformity

But not everyone is a Helvetica lover. Type "I hate Helvetica" into Google and there are forums for people who rage at the mindless "corporate chic" of this dominant font. They see it as a vehicle for social conformity through consumerism, shifting product with a great big steam-roller of neutrality.


FontFont: FiFFteen

Love those fonts? Think type design is something worth celebrating?

FontFont: FiFFteen a celebration of the fifteen years of the FontFont type library will be at the AIGA San Francisco office (130 Sutter St, Ste 600) from 11 June -27 June 2007 (9-5, M-F).

[via Mike Lenhart]

Saturday, June 09, 2007

What do YOU want to be remembered for?

Obit in today's Chron: Edwin Traisman -- french fry innovator.

Seems Traisman bought the first McDonald's franchise in Madison, WI, in the late 1950s. At the time there was a problem getting the fresh potatoes to make fries. (McDonald's fries at that time were made fresh in each location.) Ray Kroc asked Traisman to help work on the problem of making tasty frozen fries and a "Method for Preparing Frozen French Fried Potatoes" (a Traisman innovation) was patented in 1962.

But wait. There's more.

Before becoming a McDonald's franchisee, Traisman was director of food research at Kraft where he was instrumental in the development of Cheez Whiz cheese spread, instant pudding and other food products.

Cheez Whiz AND McDonald's french fries! Where would we be today without Traisman?

Friday, June 08, 2007

shooz! (found while daintily stepping over the sticky silk strands of the web)

The Bata Shoe Museum - Toronto, Ontario, Canada


[Caution reading Goodman's column and blog. There may be spoilers lurking therein.]

Tim Goodman (SFC) says ARRIVEDERCI to the Sopranos.

(Speculation/discussion/news of the Sopranos finale was above the fold on page one of today's paper!)

I've never seen an entire Sopranos show, just a few bits, and I mean a few. One bit, maybe. We're too parsimonious, you see, to subscribe to HBO. We have plain vanilla cable (about $3/mo when added on to our broadband costs) and that only because I figured we might want to watch some breaking news some time. Oh, and watch the Today Show broadcast from Bhutan. (Thank you, Auntie K, for that heads-up!)

My lack of viewing experience and serious lack in the fandom department does not, however, stop me from joining in the frantic speculation about the most hyped show finale since Dallas went off the air.

I have my own theory how it will all end next Sunday.

As a nod to our European contingent, who are a ways behind in the episodes, I've put my theory here.

Read Tim's blog entry / synopsis of Ep. 20: "A glorified crew." Search for "towse" to retrieve my comment from the 298 (so far) comments re the end of the Sopranos ... if you care and don't mind my uninformed speculations.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

cochineal, also known as carmine -- derived from the dried bodies of pregnant scale insects

theage.com.au has a terrific article, Meaty Bites (by John Bailey) which begins thusly,

Masterfoods in Britain recently announced that Mars Bars would now contain animal product - specifically rennet, an extract pulled from the stomachs of calves. Sweet-toothed vegetarians the world over howled in protest and the company quickly restored the original recipe and issued a blatant apology for its error. But how many other foods contain sneaky meats and furtive fish?

Number one on Bailey's list is Nestle Strawberry NesQuik which gets that unearthly pink color from "colour (120)". That 120 is cochineal, also known as carmine, and is derived from the dried bodies of pregnant scale insects (the yummy sounding Dactylopius coccus costa).


His article goes on from there naming most cheeses (rennet there too), anything with gelatin (check the yogurt label), Guinness (Guinness!) and other you-may-not-realize-they're-not-vegetarian foods.

Bailey also specifically mentions Lea&Perrins Worcestershire sauce, which contains anchovies and has since forever.

I actually knew this (as of last night) because I was making a cheese sauce for the cauliflower (white sauce, shredded cheese...) and added a bit of Worcester sauce for some added punch along with chopped grilled onions and fresh-ground pepper. I said to his nibs, "What's in Worcester sauce anyway?" and he read the ingredients off the label: vinegar, molasses, high fructose corn syrup (!!), anchovies, water, hydrolyzed soy and corn protein, onions, tamarind, salt, garlic, cloves, chili peppers, natural flavorings and shallots.

Anchovies? Who knew? Well now you do, I do, and anyone who read John Bailey's article does too.

Drop on by with your 5-gallon bucket: Compost program comes full circle Saturday

Live in San Francisco? Don't put your compostables in your green bin? You should. Don't have a green bin? Ask and it shall be delivered!

More information on San Francisco's composting program.

And look! what happens to all those kitchen bits and garden bits and bones and wood and stuff. COMPOST! That's right, and once a year you can stop on by and get some for free. (Even if you don't recycle your compostables. ...)

Compost program comes full circle Saturday

You're allowed up to two 5-gallon buckets' full.

Saturday 9 Jun 2007 8 a.m. to noon

-- City Dump (S.F. Recycling and Disposal) at 401 Tunnel Ave. (Take your hazardous waste down while you're at it.)

-- John McLaren Park, at the parking lot of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, at John F. Shelley Drive and Mansell Street.

-- West Sunset Playground, at Quintara Street and 40th Avenue

-- Herbst Road (runs along the east side of the zoo) and Zoo Road.


The raw materials, about 300 tons a day from San Francisco and Oakland, arrive at the plant near Vacaville in large trucks. (San Francisco's 2,100 restaurants contribute a large part of the San Francisco materials, including everything from broccoli to fish bones, and their compostable paper waste as well.)

300 tons A DAY! How cool is that?

Reed encourages us all to use our green bins for yard trimmings or food scraps we don't compost ourselves. You can purchase special biodegradable plastic bags to hold food scraps, but Reed says he'd just as soon you put them in paper bags, milk cartons or other food boxes. Fold over the tops.

Except that that's something we can't do because compostables are soggy and the bottom would fall out of any paper bag before we got it down the steps to the nearest green bin. (That bin actually "belongs," I think, to the publishing house at the bottom of the steps, but they don't seem to mind and always have room to spare.)

How about the City making it easier for folks like us to do this green bin thing? They want higher participation, but 'tain't easy for some of us.

Here's our current operation.
  • Large glass measuring bowl with handle on kitchen counter. Stuff goes in that.
  • After meals, dump stuff from measuring bowl into menudo pot lined with plastic grocery bag. Pot is stashed on the floor at far end of kitchen (not that we have far to go) next to the other recyclables &c. Put lid back on pot to minimize funky smells.
  • When menudo pot gets a certain amount of compostables in it or gets too funky, put grocery bag into even bigger (and more leak-proof) shopping bag (a bright garish giveaway bag from Pier 39) and schlep it down the steps to the green bin along with the yard clipping bits (this time of year mostly consisting of dropped unripened figs that scatter across the walking path and snaky vines trimmed back from the fire escape) that we've stashed in the garish bag.
  • Empty grocery bag in green bin. Empty yard clippings from garish bag. Roll up grocery bag and put in garish bag.
  • Hike back up steps.
Rinse. Repeat.

Where do our other recyclables go? The garbage collectors come down the steps and pick up the garbage here twice a week (bless them...), but they don't deal with recyclables.

Twice a week, we haul the recyclables up to the blue recycle bin located where the steps meet Montgomery. We share that bin with neighbors and the closer it is to pickup day, the fuller the bin is -- sometimes too full and then we have to take our recyclables back home and haul them up again after the bin is emptied.

Why don't we put a green bin up there, you ask? Why? Because "there might be some pushback" as a neighbor nearby who shares the blue bin said.

The folks living on Montgomery are cranky enough about the blue recycle bin. No kumbayah moments here: One set of neighbors moves the bin away from their side of the steps because they don't like the noise of people putting stuff in the bin and they don't like the noise of it being picked up. Over to the other side! and let those folks deal with the noise. The neighbors on the other side move the bin back. Sometimes it winds up on the flat area halfway up to Montgomery.

Can't we all just get along? (and recycle? and all that good-for-all-of-us stuff?)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Skoda Fabia TV Advert


"I didn't know how the book would end."

Graying duo keep passenger in check - The Boston Globe

Hooray for graying geezers.

Hayden's wife of 42 years, Katie, who was also on the flight, was less impressed. Even as her husband struggled with the agitated passenger, she barely looked up from "The Richest Man in Babylon," the book she was reading.

"The woman sitting in front of us was very upset and asked me how I could just sit there reading," Katie Hayden said. "Bob's been shot at. He's been stabbed. He's taken knives away. He knows how to handle those situations. I figured he would go up there and step on somebody's neck, and that would be the end of it. I knew how that situation would end. I didn't know how the book would end."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas

SourGrapes commented I can't wait to see what you're going to make of a mash-up of Baudrillard, Aristotle and Robert-Houdin.

The mash-up already exists: I'm reading a book the YYG told me I should read: The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas.

I've taken to scratching notes when I come across something interesting, unknown, strange. I stopped reading for a while this afternoon to hunt down some of the "unknown"s on the Web.

Also in my notes are some turns of phrase:
  • Monday morning and the sky is the color of sad weddings

  • it looks like the kind of place you'd come to when you'd retired or given up on life in some other way

Huh? Retiring is the same as giving up on life? Whatever. She's far younger than I am.

And, sure, I know. That writing may be a bit self-conscious. "the color of sad weddings" tweaks my mind in a fashion similar to "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't."

In both cases, you're pretty sure the writer thinks he's too clever by half, but he is.

More random sites in the next few days, probably. (I only brought up the first collection of notes and there's probably 4/5ths of the book left to go. ...)

The book's an amazing amalgam of references, everything from Paley's watch to Lamarck v Darwin, Erewhon (which I'll now have to go and reread for the first time since I was eighteen), Derrida and Edgar Allan Poe.

[URL] www.arachnoid.com: a playground for thinkers

OK. This site is just plain mind-stretching. I came to it from the discussion of Olbers' paradox.

Subtitled "a playground for thinkers," this site has articles ranging from science to philosophy to bumperstickers to programming. The index is a breeze to use. The site is full of fascinating stuff.

Dip in: www.arachnoid.com

Olbers' Paradox: Why is the Sky Dark at Night?

Why is the Sky Dark at Night?

In 1826, the astronomer Heinrich Olbers asked, "Why is the sky dark at night?" By his time, physicists had learned enough to realize that, in a stable, infinite universe with an even distribution of stars, the entire universe should gradually heat up. Think about it — if there are stars generating energy throughout the universe (energy sources), and if there is no way ultimately to dispose of that energy (energy sinks), then all the objects in the universe must rise in temperature, in time achieving the temperature of the stars themselves.

Scientists and physicists had to learn quite a lot about the behavior of energy before they were even prepared to ask Olbers' question. In fact, for millennia the dark night sky provided an answer to a question no one thought to ask.

In these pages you will learn the simple physics behind Olbers' question, some of the answers that have been proposed, and the currently accepted answer. You will also discover the connection between a rubber band, your refrigerator, and the universe.

(Found while looking for information on Olbers' Paradox, natch.)

Spirits, Art, and the Fourth Dimension, by Bryan Clair

Interesting article at the STRANGE HORIZONS site: Spirits, Art, and the Fourth Dimension, by Bryan Clair.

(Found when searching for information on Zöllner and the controversy over his 1878 book Transcendental Physics, which argued that Henry Slade's spirits were real and had to be operating in the fourth dimension.)

[URL] HyperPhysics

HyperPhysics, "a continually developing base of instructional material in physics."

Amazing collection of physics-related information.

(Found whilst looking for information on The Michelson-Morley experiment, which drove a stake into the heart of the theory of a luminiferous aether|ether back in 1887.)

[URL] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Free! No subscription required.

Welcome to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP). From its inception, the SEP was designed so that each entry is maintained and kept up to date by an expert or group of experts in the field. All entries and substantive updates are refereed by the members of a distinguished Editorial Board before they are made public. Consequently, our dynamic reference work maintains academic standards while evolving and adapting in response to new research. You can cite fixed editions that are created on a quarterly basis and stored in our Archives (every entry contains a link to its complete archival history, identifying the fixed edition the reader should cite). The Table of Contents lists entries that are published or assigned. The Projected Table of Contents also lists entries which are currently unassigned but nevertheless projected.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Projected Table of Contents

(Found while looking for a précis of Aristotle's metaphora.)

(Have I mentioned that I didn't get too much of this philosophy/sociology/lit stuff when I was getting my biology/chemistry degree? I feel like such a dunce at times. ...)

History of automatons, androids and artificial animals

From the Web site of T.I.L. ProductionsSARL (Paris), which specializes in production of videofilms about automata and mechanical music and creation and manufacture of music boxes) comes this History of automatons, androids and artificial animals.

(Found while tracking down information about Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin and his automatons.)


John Jenkins' SparkMuseum

Welcome to my "virtual" radio and scientific instruments museum where I display the radios and other items I have collected over the past 35+ years. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I'm always interested in early wireless, radio, scientific and other electrical items up to about 1920 (including books and other publications)

Highlights of Jenkins' collection.

This site is amazing. A prime example of Web sites offering up a treasure trove of information simply because someone (in this case Jenkins) has a passion for a subject.

(Found whilst searching for information on Geissler tubes.)



Amazing collection of links. ... and all I'd been doing was trying to track down some bits about Baudrillard!

The SocioSite is designed to get access to information and resources which are relevant for sociologists and other social scientists. It has been designed from a global point of view - it gives access to the world wide scene of social sciences. The intention is to provide a comprehensive listing of all sociology resources on the Internet. The enormity and constantly changing nature of the Internet makes it impossible to develop a definitive and comprehensive listing. That's why the SocioSite will always be 'under construction'.

The SocioSite is a project based at the faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. We present the resources and information that are important for the international sociological scene. It links students of sociology to many interesting, sociologically relevant locations in cyberspace. The SocioSite is a comprehensive information system which is very easy to use. That is why it has become a very popular yellow guide for social scientists from all over the world. The SocioSite is a toolkit for us social scientists. It contains high quality resources and texts that can be used as wheels for the sociological mind.

(Found the Baudrillard bits here. Now if I could only understand them bits ...)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

They were younger then ...

... and so were we.

This video leaves me feeling ... almost a feeling of saudade except that you can't go home again. You can never go back.

For all you nostalgia freaks, myself included, which of the couples in this video are still a pair?

Or even would be if all the principals were still alive?

John and Yoko? John died.
Paul and Linda? Linda died.
George and Patti? Divorced. George married Olivia. Patti married Clapton. Patti divorced Clapton. George died.
Ringo and Maureen? Divorced. Maureen died.


New avatar, of sorts

I've been playing around with a fake picture for twitter using the Face Transformer at St Andrews that I found over at Grapes2.0 the other day.

Decisions. Decisions. Should I use






Manga. For now. ...

[I really wanted the El Greco morph (View of Toledo has been a fave since I was about nine.) But the El Greco morph is only available for males and if I change my "sex" to male, the El Greco morph gives me an El Greco morph complete with nice Spanish facial hair.

Not really me. Alas.]


Talk last night turned to timewasters. e.g. the way a click at Grapes2.0 to an amazing YouTube video (a masterpiece of morphing called Women in Art) can lead to a similar morph based on Caravaggio work and then on to Picasso and then Matisse (all justifiable because they are art and educational) and from there to GeorgeW and (a couple wasted hours later) you come out of your zombie state to find you've wasted how much time? watching Barats and Beretta YouTube videos and the like.

"Happen often?" I was asked.

"Oh, hardly ever," I answered. "That's why it gave me that oh-shake-it-off-yick feeling that I used to get years ago when I'd overdosed on Barbara Cartland."

So what do I do today? I hied over to popurls (which I mentioned a while back -- Wednesday, to be exact) and starting poking through Digg's hot hits.

... and found a click to Schrodinger's LOL cat which led me to I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER? ?, the weirdest collection of LOLcats I've ever seen.

[as defined on Wikipedia: Lolcats, a compound of lol and cat, are photos of cats with humorous captions]

I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER? ? has seventy-five pages worth of pictures with captions (not all cats). With, perhaps, ten pictures with captions per page, we're talking a lot of pictures. I started to get that queasy overload feeling long before I got to page #75.

What kind of pictures are we talking about? Something like ALICE CAT FELL DOWN

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Sweet!

His nibs came over and was standing behind me to see what I was snickering about.

"Remember the conversation last night about time wasted on the Web?" I said.

[note: As I was rummaging through Grapes2.0 to find the link to the "Women in Art" video on YouTube, I realized he'd covered I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER? ? recently ... like just this immediate past Wednesday! That's three days ago! Guess I should pay more attention to the plethora of entertaining links he collects on his blog. I could've been wasting time earlier this week, instead of today.]

[URL] San Francisco Herb Co.

As mentioned in the post immediately preceding this one, I came across the San Francisco Herb Co. today while searching for a source of Long Life Tea (my supply being about four mugs-worth from the bottom of the bag).

San Francisco Herb Co. is local. The 26K sqft warehouse is located at 250 14th St. The small retail operation at the front of the warehouse is open M-SA 10-4.

San Francisco Herb Company provides Wholesale prices on the highest quality culinary herbs and spices, extracts, teas, dehydrated vegetables, nuts, seeds, botanicals, essential oils, potpourri ingredients and fragrance oils.

You can browse through the available stock, which is sorted into the following categories:
  • Herbs and Spices - Baking
  • Herbs and Spices - Botanicals
  • Herbs and Spices - Miscellaneous
  • Catnip
  • Green Tea and Other Bulk Tea Products
  • Dehydrated Vegetables
  • Essential Oils
  • Extracts
  • Fragrance Oils
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Potpourri - Ingredients
  • Potpourri - Pre-Mixed
  • Potpourri - Recipes
  • Spices
  • Spice Blends

The bulk of their business is mail order. The online catalog is worth a look. I'm planning a field trip to the retail outlet. Soon.

[URL] Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages

Web wandering brought me to Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages.

I'd had the brilliant idea two days ago of creating a Web site called wherecanifind.com/ where, f'rex, if I wanted to know where I could find Long Life Tea in San Francisco, I would go to wherecanifind.com/sanfrancisco and type in my request.

Handy helpful w2.0 folks would swarm the site, providing searchers with solutions.

Alas. I went to godaddy.com and every single wherecanifind.* has been snapped up, except .mobi and ...

Well, another brill idea up in smoke.

But I still wanted to know where I could find Long Life Tea in San Francisco, so I searched and came across the San Francisco Herb Company down on 14th St. which had not only a HUGE inventory but also a small retail operation. (A later post.)

Rambling through the SFHCo site, I came across a reference to Nigella sativa, which I used to have growing in our old front yard. SFHCo was selling it as a cooking spice. Who knew you could use the seeds for cooking? (I always saved them to scatter the next spring ...)

But was the Nigella sativa really the one I'd been growing in my front yard?

Check Google images!

No. Turns out I'd been growing Nigella damascena AKA Love in a Mist.

Ah, well. Still curious, though, a further search took me to Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages where he gave me the lowdown on N.s. in great and gory detail.

What a site. Depth and breadth about spices.

solid information on (currently) 117 different spice plants. Emphasis is on their usage in ethnic cuisines, particularly in Asia; furthermore, I discuss their history, chemical constituents, and the etymology of their names. Last but not least, there are numerous photos featuring the live plants or the dried spices.

The Center for Justice and Accountability

Had dinner with friends last night.

Asked one, "So how long have you been at the new job?"

"A year and a half, almost two years."

"So what is it again that your nonprofit does?"

She answered with an impassioned explanation of what they do and who they do it for and what they accomplish. Check out the Web site. Good cause: The Center for Justice and Accountability

The Center realized it could use the Alien Tort Statute (1789) to accomplish its goals. Who knew?

The Alien Tort Statute (ATS), adopted in 1789, gives survivors of egregious human rights abuses, wherever committed, the right to sue persons responsible for the abuses in U.S. federal court. Since 1980, the law has been used successfully in cases involving torture (including rape), extrajudicial killing, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and arbitrary detention. The Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), passed in 1991 and signed into law by President Bush in 1992, gives similar rights to U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike to bring claims for torture and extrajudicial killing committed in foreign countries. The perpetrator generally must be served with the lawsuit while they are present in the United States in order for the court to have jurisdiction.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Fiddling with Twitter

Fiddling with the Twitter app. (see right sidebar)

Mount Madonna School Dream House Raffle

Tomorrow's the big day: the drawing for the Mount Madonna School Dream House Raffle.

If all 32K tickets had been sold (or even if 26,500 tickets had been sold), the Grand Prize winner would have had to make the choice of either a home (appraised value $1.8m) in Santa Cruz, CA, or $1.5m cash.

TPTB just got back to me to say that the school sold over 19K tickets (at $150 a pop) and so, didn't meet the minimum for the house prize. Instead the lesser cash prizes will be awarded tomorrow, starting at 2 p.m., and at 4 p.m. the Grand Prize winner will be awarded half the net proceeds. My correspondent estimated that, after expenses and lesser prizes, the Grand Prize winner will walk away with approximately $1 million (before taxes).

Which means, of course, that the school gets the other half -- $1 million -- to help pay off the debt owed on their new campus and to use for expanding the "educational opportunities for students."

Sure beats a bake sale.