: views from the Hill

Friday, September 28, 2007

The sun breaks through

Fog's arrived. All that sweltering 85dF heat is but a memory. The temperature today will be 20dF cooler than it was just a few days ago.

Took a look east earlier today as the sun broke through the fog cover and shot some beams on Oakland.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fall into autumn

Yesterday was Garden Feast, a benefit gala luncheon on the grass at the Strybing Arboretum. Benefiting the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Honoring Richard Goldman. Speaker: Julie Packard.

A dinner tonight marks the twentieth anniversary of the San Francisco Food Bank.

Saturday is the Waves-to-Wine bike tour to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Sunday is the Bridge-to-Bridge run benefiting Special Olympics Northern California.

Sunday is also the CUESA fundraiser @ Ferry Plaza Building to benefit CUESA and sustainable agriculture education.

I'm not going to all of those. I can't go to all of those. And I stopped listing all the things I could go to because the list is LOOOOOOOOONG.

Yes, we have fallen into autumn and the benefit luncheons, dinners, runs, bike rides, sails, swims and fashion shows have kicked into high gear here, now that most everyone's home from their wanderings.

You can also just stay home and read a good book. The non-profits who benefit from all this gaiety and extroversion will happily take your check and wish you a peaceful evening.

Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be sk8trs

Fun with ping pong balls.

Time spent? Who knows? Probably time enough to develop a perpetual motion machine or discover the meaning of life.

[Rube Goldberg, eat your heart out.]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A plea to anyone linking to Inkspot.com

A request from DebbieRO, my former Inkspot.com boss lady, on her Inkygirl blog.

If you have a link to Inkspot.com, PLEASE DELETE IT.
Pass the word.

A plea to anyone linking to Inkspot.com

Harvest Moon

Sure, I knew it was coming up. Chinatown's Moon Festival was last weekend. Yeah, Autumn. Yeah, full moon.

But then his nibs called up the stairs, "Hey. Did you see the moon?"

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... and now I have this earworm of Fogerty singing, "There's a bad moon on the rise."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Best headline of the day: Coach Stops Runaway Horse by Biting Ear

Coach Stops Runaway Horse by Biting Ear

Page 3.14 : "What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years," circa 1900.

Entertaining blog entry over at Page 3.14:

Page 3.14 : "What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years," circa 1900.

Earlier today, a friend sent me a link to this old-ish post from the excellent history/art/cultural curiosity blog Paleo-Future. It's a document written by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., for Ladies' Home Journal in 1900. It is entitled "What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years."

I couldn't resist reading the whole thing (see the big version here), and am compelled—as a person of the future—to log a few replies.

Entertaining snippets from the December 1900 LHJ article and replies from Katherine Sharpe.

Read the article yourself or just dip into Sharpe's blog entry.

[via science blogs from Seed Media]

Monday, September 24, 2007




A collection of typography links

Typographic Collaboration | Typophile

Typographica a journal of typography featuring news, observations, and open commentary on fonts and typographic design.

typography a photoset on flickr

viaLetter Spell it out

Jules Vernacular Lettres oeuvrières & incongruités typographiques. French signage and lettering from Jack Usine.

Triborough's photos of NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual = a flickr photoset

Zuzana Licko and Rudy VanderLans at Emigre

Typetester - compare screen type

FontFeed a font blog

Citroën ad

[via the brilliant collection of advertisements at I believe in advertising]

Saturday, September 22, 2007

fan mail

Fan mail.

Well, maybe not fan mail per se but at least someone agreeing with my LETTER TO THE EDITOR in today's Chronicle.

The letter was a rehash of a recent post wherein I gave my oh-so-lucid opinion re where Don Fisher should put his Contemporary Art Museum.

Fan mail's nice ...

Red Sky At Morning

Spectacular sunrise yesterday, presaging the rain that started last night as a drizzle and moved into, yes, real rain (not wicked rain, just maybe a quarter inch or so) overnight.

The rain's stopped and ...

his nibs is up on the roof, bailing out a puddle of water from a plugged up drain.

The leaks are back, in a different place this time, due to a different cause, most likely an installation flaw for the new roof for which we just paid a zillion dollars (what with other work to be done and the cost of uninstalling and reinstalling the solar panels that rest on the roof).


But ... good thing I heard the drip drips behind me and we got the buckets and towels in place, good thing the rain wasn't any harder than it was, good thing everyone will be out here in a few days (as soon as the roofer boss is back from vacation and available) to check out what the problem is and fix it before real rain (and Autumn) blows in.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it."

Read/watch this lecture, billed as Randy Pausch's "last lecture."

As an intro, the article in the WSJ that talks about the lecture.

The video of the speech is an hour and three-quarters if you watch to the very end. There's also an edited five-minute video, but it doesn't capture what the full video does.

Randy Pausch's speech (and Randy Pausch), inspirational.

Burn Those Jeans [PDF]

Another excellent bit from Patti Digh and 37days: Burn Those Jeans [PDF].

A coach. An act of kindness. Goosebumps. Tears.

The video this post links to is dashing around the Web this week even though it was taken four years ago.

Made me cry. I'm sure the young woman singing the National Anthem still remembers that night and the kindness of Mo.

Check out this article, written not long after the video was taken in 2003.


Also check out Patti Digh's blog, 37days, which is where this all came from.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Let us now consider the aubergine

But for the most extraordinary example of shifting names we must go to the aubergine, once known also as the brinjal in India. The story starts with Sanskrit vatin-gana "the plant that cures the wind", which became the Arabic al-badinjan. This moved into Europe, again via Moorish Spain: one offshoot — keeping the Arabic article prefixed — became alberengena in Spanish and on to aubergine in French; another transformation became the botanical Latin melongena through losing the article and changing the "b" to an "m"; this then turned into the Italian melanzana and then to mela insana (the "mad apple"). Another branch, again without the "al", became bringella in Portugal, whose traders took the plant, and their version of the name, full circle back to India, where it became brinjal in Anglo-Indian circles (the usual term among English speakers in India today is the Hindi baingan, or aubergine). In another branch of its history, the Portuguese word turned up in the West Indies, where it was again, but differently, corrupted to brown-jolly. All names for the same plant.

[ref: Michael Quinion at World Wide Words]

Question, though. Why is the same beast called an eggplant in the USofA?

Ah, okay. [ref: Wikipedia] "The name eggplant developed in the United States, Australia, and Canada because the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen's eggs."

That makes a ton of sense.

And so ends the etymology detour for the morning.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

For K and for those second cousins of mine who wear big buckles

Wandering from song to song in YouTube, I came across a couple anthems for a cowboy grandma and my second cousins who wear big buckles:

The Highwaymen: Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys


The Highwaymen: The Last Cowboy Song


Who knew? Brian Hyland

I was reading someone's blog tonight and they mentioned Brian Hyland and Gypsy Woman.

Gypsy Woman? What? I knew Gypsy Woman, of course, but had never associated it with Hyland. Why would I? I knew Hyland because of his big hit in the summer of 1962, Sealed With A Kiss. I know it was 1962 because that was the summer after fifth grade, the school year when I'd swooned over Phil Johnston, whose sister Sheila was in my older sister's class. When school ended in June, Phil'd up and moved away. Sealed With A Kiss, was my anthem that summer as I mooned about. Sealed with a kiss, if only.

Same Brian Hyland? How many Brian Hyland's singing in that time frame could there be?

So, I popped /"brian hyland" "gypsy woman" "sealed with a kiss"/ into Google and found out Hyland wasn't a one hit wonder. He was indeed the same dude and, furthermore, his first and biggest hit (recorded in 1960 when he was a sophomore in high school) was Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini, written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss.

Who knew?

Last, but not least, my Web searching scored me a vid of Hyland lip-synching Sealed With A Kiss on some bandstand show, probably Dick Clark's.

Check out the dancers! There's a classic nerd with black rimmed glasses and plaid jacket and a girl doing what looks like the Frug. (No, not those on the stage behind him. Later in the video. Watch! The guy she's dancing with is dressed in a buttoned cardigan sweater. No lie!)

Nostalgia hits hard tonight.

We are children of the stars

Love Kristofferson's voice.

Video of a song from last year's album: In the News



Crafty, mostly crocheted, bags with directions.

cbs5.com - Contest To Challenge SF Residents To Save Energy

cbs5.com - Contest To Challenge SF Residents To Save Energy

San Francisco Climate Challenge, my lamp, my stairs, my solar panels! make the news!

Reading this in the city? Sign up! at SFClimateChallenge.org

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Derry, Ireland (a wee bit of trip report)

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Hands Across The Divide statue (by Maurice Harron) located in the middle of a roundabout west of Craigavon Bridge in Derry.

I shot the photograph through the window of a vehicle wheeling through the roundabout. There are much better ones to be found on the Web. The statue is supposed to portray a Catholic and a Protestant tentatively reaching out to each other in peace.

We had a few hours touring around Derry after our transport set us down close to the walls. John McNulty, the guy walking us about, covered Derry history far past (Siege of Derry, 1688) and new past (the Troubles and Bloody Sunday, 1972).

McNulty had been in Derry in 1972 -- although not in Bogside on that Sunday -- and had a lot to say about Bloody Sunday and the Troubles. He also told us that after much work and testimony, the results from the Saville Bloody Sunday Inquiry are due out some time soon-ish. Maybe early next year.

At great cost, I might add. According to Shaun Woodward, Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office, "The cash spend on the Bloody Sunday inquiry was £178.264 million at the end of April 2007." with more costs sure to be added as the report gets written. Yikes.

We took a walk along the walls of Derry, spent time inside the Apprentice Boys of Derry museum,

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toured the murals by the Bogside artists

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and the Bloody Sunday memorial

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and visited the Guildhall before coming back to our hotel for a slightly drizzly picnic lunch on the grounds.

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Later on in the afternoon, John Hume joined us and gave a free-wheeling talk about life, the peace process and the universe. He wrapped up his talk by telling us what a fantastic president Hillary would be and asking us to always call Derry "Derry" not "Londonderry."

Then Hume sang the song he claims should be the American Irish anthem, Danny Boy. He claims the song is a lament of an Irish mother to her emigrant son. Oh, but his is a lovely voice and he sang the song with heart. No dry eyes here as the song ended.

After the talk, he retreated to the Beech Hill sitting room/bar and his nibs and I order up some Smithwicks and spent an hour or so with him and other fellow travelers, chatting in too comfy chairs, helping him kill time before he and his wife, Pat, joined the gang for dinner at the hotel. Man, has that guy seen a lot of history.

Derry was an interesting place. We spent three nights at Beech Hill, but only a day in Derry. (The other full day we had was filled with an absolutely glorious walk along the Giants' Causeway and the headlands.)

I'm glad we saw the bits of Derry we did. Glad to have heard Hume talk on the subject. Derry isn't a place I'd return to again and again but I'm glad we stopped there for the time we did. What we experienced brought the history of the place a bit closer to heart.

The history of that region is a sad one. Here's to the future envisioned in Hands Across The Divide. Here's to reconciliation.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Between Storms on Flickr

Between Storms on Flickr by Jim M. Goldstein.

I reached Goldstein's flickr collection via The Best: BRAVO, a Flickr group composed entirely of "world class" photographs (as defined by group members), which I reached from the Diaethria Clymena Butterfly group (no, really!), which I'd been asked to add a photo to.

I like the travel pictures I take, really I do, but whenever I start thinking what grande pictures I take, I'm immediately humbled looking at the really wonderful photographs to be found on the Web every time you turn around.

Take a look, f'rex, at the photographs in the BRAVO group or the photographs on Goldstein's Web site.


My trip photos and trip report are still "in progress."


Intellectual bling

In comments on "Stuff," SourGrapes wrote

TA with all that, but I'd include books too. What are ya keeping them for? In most cases it's not to refer to. They're intellectual bling. It's very very unusual to have a couple thousand books, but that guy forgot to say "in our class of people".

I keep books I want to look at again. And the rest go off to subsequent readers. Books are made to be read, not to be shelved.

Ouch, pal.

There's something about books and not just as intellectual bling. I'm happiest in a nest full of books, all that unrealized and unread or waiting to be reread potential.

Yesterday I was rummaging through my stash of travel books, looking for old books on London for someone who's working on the animation for (don't spew) A CHRISTMAS CAROL, due out in 2009. (Jim Carrey will be voicing Ebenezer Scrooge/Ghost of Christmas Past/Ghost of Christmas Present/Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. I told you not to spew!)

Didn't find any, but found some early 20thc. Baedekers covering London and GB, found some old books covering places we'd been walking in N Wales, got sidetracked by a book on Mount Athos. ... All that roaming around and a very cozy afternoon reading wouldn't have happened if I gave away my stash of books. (I am giving away some of the books, ones I know I'll never need/read/want to see again. But ...)

I just love the potential of masses of books, love libraries. I was absolutely blissed out this trip by the Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin.

I was || this close to settling in to help them keep track of the 200K books they have stashed away there. (And Good Lord, they should join the 21st century and start scanning that collection. If that room goes up in flames, a world of knowledge will be lost. Maybe Bill Gates would subsidize the project. I'd volunteer. ...)

What a place.



A Paul Graham essay on Stuff. (something I know something about)

Another way to resist acquiring stuff is to think of the overall cost of owning it. The purchase price is just the beginning. You're going to have to think about that thing for years—perhaps for the rest of your life. Every thing you own takes energy away from you. Some give more than they take. Those are the only things worth having.

I've now stopped accumulating stuff. Except books—but books are different. Books are more like a fluid than individual objects. It's not especially inconvenient to own several thousand books, whereas if you owned several thousand random possessions you'd be a local celebrity. But except for books, I now actively avoid stuff. If I want to spend money on some kind of treat, I'll take services over goods any day.

Comment tail has some added goodness.

via ev

Current to-do list includes

*Clean up old junk
*Minimize new stuff

HUGE Potential as writers' retreat

Asha's back. Her blog pics today are of Tonopah, Nevada.

Tonopah. Check it out! It's not just an alliterative town name found in an old Lowell George song.

And I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonopah
Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made
Driven the backroads so I wouldn't get weighed
And if you give me weed, whites and wine
And you show me a sign
And I'll be willin' to be movin' *

(* as sung not only by Little Feat but also by Ronstadt and others)

Asha noted that the Grand Old Lady of Tonopah, the Mizpah Hotel, is For Sale! [PDF]

Sounds perfect for a writers' retreat, doesn't it? Out in the middle of nowhere, halfway between Las Vegas and Reno. Two bars. (for those convivial evenings) Two restaurants. (soze you don't have to go far to find eats). No gaming license. (fewer distractions for you)

Gutted and rebuilt in 1976.

56 rooms, including 6 parlor suites, all with private baths and thermostatically controlled heating and air conditioning. Fine Brussels carpeting was laid throughout, new stained glass windows were hand-crafted for the first floor and the finest of wall paper was hung on all of the walls. The exterior was given a face lift and park benches and iron lighting fixtures installed along the sidewalk. The old bowling alley and other buildings were also incorporated into the expansion.

On the National Registry of Historic Places. Resident ghosts! Wyatt Earp tended bar here! Dempsey worked as a bouncer!

Take a look at Asha's Tonopah photos and travelogue.

ONLY $1.5m for the Mizpah Hotel! Perfect writers' retreat, I think.

What'd'ya think?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

If I were a rich man ... Donald Fisher and the Contemporary Art Museum

Donald Fisher, founder of Gap, offers to build a museum in the Presidio to house his art collection

Gap founder Donald Fisher, one of the world's leading contemporary art collectors and a powerful force in local politics, has offered to build a sprawling museum in the Presidio to showcase his vast collection, which until now has largely been hidden away in his company's San Francisco headquarters.

Since Fisher and his wife, Doris, founded Gap Inc. in 1969, they have amassed what is widely considered to be among the most extensive private collections of 20th and 21st century art. Yet with the exception of pieces that are occasionally loaned to museums, much of what they own has never been seen by people outside the art world.

The Fishers, whose retail empire brings in about $16 billion a year, hope to build a 100,000-square-foot museum with 55,000 square feet of gallery space -- 5,000 more square feet than at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art -- to house their collection of more than 1,000 works.

Donald Fisher, 78, will announce his plan to build the Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio today at a news conference in the national park.


If I were a rich man ...

The sleepy southeast quadrant of San Francisco is buzzing with activity -- first the Ballpark, then the new UC Medical Center and all the accompanying activity at Mission Bay and soon, perhaps, a new football stadium and thousands of new homes at Hunters Point. Don Fisher's Contemporary Art Museum would be a perfect addition to the mix.

We just spent a day at the Tate Modern in London. The revitalization of the south bank is largely due to the visionaries who placed the museum there. Think of the effect of having the CAM located on our southeast bay shore near Pier 70/Potrero Point!

The T-Third provides public transit access to the location. There's even room for parking. Some dream of having water taxis operating up and down the bay edge. Picture vaporettos stopping at the CAM en route from the new stadium at Hunters Point to Fort Point and places in between.

There are alternatives to the Presidio for a spot for the Contemporary Art Museum, creative, wonderful alternatives. Build the CAM in our southeastern quadrant, at the edge of the Bay down near Pier 70.

If I were a rich man ...

Are you listening, Donald Fisher? There are alternatives to the Presidio for the Contemporary Art Museum. Make a statement by setting the CAM in our southeastern quadrant at a spot at the edge of the Bay.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The wanderer returns

It's very nice to go trav'ling
But it's oh so nice to come home.
-- Sammy Cahn

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(The rooms at the Crinan Hotel have lovely views across Loch Crinan to Duntrune Castle. Oh, to be a Malcolm.)