: views from the Hill

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Between my prayer flags and Buddha's hand

Posted by Picasa

... things will be better in 2009.

Good thoughts and warm sqwishes for the New Year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Spinning, a blog.

The thing ^H^H^H One of the things I find fascinating about the Web is all the things I find fascinating and stash away in a links folder or delicious or a Web page or a post and then forget all about and never return to.

Too many fascinating things.

With delicious, though, if I click to save a link to a page I've found interesting and I've already saved a link to that page, delicious lets me know.

I came across Susan Marie Rose Maciog Gibb's blog from somewhere else earlier today and found the first post or two interesting enough that I clicked on her "about" page. I found her self-description and the items that were used to categorize her self and her life interesting. So I saved a link in delicious.

I then went back to the blog and read back a ways and said, that's interesting. I'll keep a link.

When I clicked to save a link in delicious, delicious told me I'd already saved a link: 05-Jun-2007.

I must've liked it then.

I've never been back since. (That I remember.)

How did I find it eighteen months ago?

Ah, the Web.

Monday, December 29, 2008

spool art by devorah sperber

spool art by devorah sperber



dm fail! on Twitter

dm fail! Messages from folks who accidentally post a tweet when they meant to DM.

e.g. Dude, you left your hemorrhoid cream and herpes medications over at my place again!

Real or faked? Does it matter?

Update:Twitter is tweaking their code so that people who are DMing can use either D or DM as the abbreviation for direct messaging.

No more dm fail. Alas.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

100 Cereal Box Covers - from the aeron.

100 Cereal Box Covers - from the aeron.

The Web is a wonder. Alan Valek has cobbled together photographs of cereal boxes to show the evolution of, f'rex, the Alpha-Bits cereal box.

His blog's pretty entertaining too.


Yes, there actually is a Web site called CUTE THINGS FALLING ASLEEP.

Found via CuteOverload.

Specifically ... this post.

And why was I over at CuteOverload? Well because Jessamyn was tweeting that her Mom had never seen CuteOverload, and I said outloud (in a two-person office) that not everyone's Mom has seen CuteOverload. And his nibs was all, "What's CuteOverload?" and things went from there to there to there.

So there.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A philosophy of life

Had a nice long, ranging chat with Hermon Baker when I stopped in at Yone Beads on Union on my way back from the library and further places afield. (Complete list of stops and purchases on the day after Christmas: Cost Plus: nothing. Even at 75% off there was nothing there I needed, but seems I needed a couple small, blank canvases and a sketchbook (all on sale -- total price <$10) at Artist & Craftsman Supply on Columbus.)

Baker and I talked about life and warm beds, the weather and the tiger sculpture that's allegedly over on the Greenwich Steps. I need to go over and see if I can find it. One of his earlier customers hadn't been able to. We wondered whether it had already been removed.

We talked about the year ending and his negative view of "top ten" lists for the year. Life is not a competition, he said. We shouldn't be ranking this or that as on or off the top ten list for the year. Winners or losers. Top ten or not. Don't.

I left the shop with two beautiful beads I will find some use for and something to think about.

The Richest Gift, a tale.

The Richest Gift - Travelers' Tales

Great tale. More great tales on the Travelers' Tales site.

[via a James O'Reilly tweet]

Coming Soon to the Tenderloin: Another Dirty, Poorly Lit Place For Books

Coming Soon to the Tenderloin: Another Dirty, Poorly Lit Place For Books [SFWeekly - The Snitch]

Oh. Now. How come I never knew this bookstore existed until this morning when I was wandering through old links, one of which told tales of this place?

Now it's gone (possibly to be phoenix'd ... some day ...).

The pics remind me of Woodruff & Thush, a used bookstore down by San Jose State, a used bookstore my older brother and I used to love. (And hate ... Case had a lovely rant about the time he found a great book at a terrific price and brought it to the cash register only to have Craig Thush tell him that he hadn't repriced the book in a very long time and he was repricing the book on the spot. Couldn't argue with Thush. ...)

I would've bought Woodruff & Thush out lock, stock & barrel when Craig Thush decided to retire in 2003 if I could've. I still have plenty of books I bought there in my impoverished young adulthood, including a Difco manual I got for cheaps when I was taking Microbiology 101.

Here's hoping McDonald's reopens and I get a crack at browsing the stacks some day soon.

Packing and The Mantra of Minimalism

Packing and The Mantra of Minimalism

An added bonus click for the PCV who wants to travel. Travel light, mi'jo. This woman shows you how. (Substitute manly things for the womanly things she has in her backpack and you're good to go.)

Underage Facebook party busted

Underage Facebook party busted

Remember what we say kids. Nothing is private on the internet. If you don’t want the cops to come to your house don’t post it on Facebook.

Parents, don't let your children grow up to do stupid things and crow about it on Facebook.

But, oldkins can be clueless too. The husband of a woman in Sheffield, UK, murdered her after she posted on her Facebook page that she was leaving him. The husband of another woman, this one from Croydon, near London, murdered her after she changed her Facebook status to "single" a couple days after the husband moved out. Stabbed to death.

Both women were, obviously, married to unstable, abusing men. Both were murdered after they unthinkingly used Facebook to tell the world they were (or soon would be) well-rid of their husbands. They must've already known what sort of creepoid jerks their husbands were and that they might react to the public exposure.

Watch what you post to Facebook, folks young and old. Word has a way of getting 'round.

Update: Keep your illegal/dumb stuff off YouTube too.

Raising a Gamer? Employers Turning Down World of Warcraft Players

Raising a Gamer? Employers Turning Down World of Warcraft Players

A word to the wise ... don't tell your employer or co-workers that you are a Tauren shaman known as GoldenRabbitsoul. Don't mention allakhazam.com. Pretend you spend your evenings knitting and your weekends hiking in local parks.

Take It Apart dot net

Take It Apart dot net: dissecting electronic gadgetry. Just for fun.

Disclaimers, of course.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas wish for those who celebrate

"Next year all our troubles will be miles away. ..."

YouTube - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas -- Sinatra.

"Some day soon we all will be together, if the fates allow. ..."

RIP, Miss Eartha.

YouTube - Eartha Kitt - C'est Si Bon (Live Kaskad 1962)

RIP, Miss Eartha. You gave a ton of pleasure to a zillion folks. Here's hoping you wind up with the folks you would want to spend the rest of eternity with.

Bunny Suicide

OK. Granted. I have an odd family.

When Dad was still alive, our children's sigoths would sometimes freak at family gatherings because we'd be discussing "If you were a terrorist intent on making Americans feel shakier than shaky -- and killing some Americans as an added benefit -- what target would you attack?"

These discussions happened to have a concrete reason behind them because some of the family members were/are concerned with what terrorists might target.

Question: Would you target a monument like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Alamo, or Mount Rushmore or would you wreak terror by targeting small malls and roller skating rinks across America -- both of which are easier to target.

Is it more effective to clobber some national symbols or to make EVERYONE -- including Laverne's cousin in Tucson -- worried about whether it's safe to go out for dinner?

Well, we don't have those discussions anymore, for various reasons.

Instead today (AT OUR FAMILY CHRISTMAS), we talked about Bunny Suicide.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our Christmas Eve tradition

Lionel Barrymore as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol by Dickens

I've listened to this every Christmas Eve for probably the last forty or fifty years.

Tomorrow night, do thou likewise.

We'll be sitting around on the floor, listening too.

You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!

Has it been that long?

I have a framed John Byrne Cooke photograph of Mimi Fariña on the wall to the right of the front door. She's standing at the top of the hill, at Union and Montgomery, goofing off with Debbie Green. I like the picture because it shows the waterfront behind them as it was back when the picture was taken, in 1966, and because it shows Mimi Fariña full of life.

It took me years after I first stumbled on the image on the Web to decide that his price was worth it and to contact Cooke and arrange to swop him $$$ for a print.

I'm still glad I did.

Depending on my mood, the photograph makes me smile, or tear up.


The YouTube video is from 1975. Has it really been that long?

I guess it has.

yes I loved you dearly
and if you're offering me diamonds and rust
I've already paid

How I came to Believe in Santa

Motherhood is Not for Wimps -- How I came to Believe in Santa


Snitched. [via Janet Reid's blog]

Monday, December 22, 2008

Melissa Etheridge: The Choice Is Ours Now

Melissa Etheridge: The Choice Is Ours Now

Melissa Etheridge on the Rev. Rick Warren.


On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn't sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection.


She tells everyone to chill.


Maybe if they get to know us, they wont fear us.

I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.

I will be attending the inauguration with my family, and with hope in my heart. I know we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families.

Happy Holidays my friends and a Happy New Year to you.

Peace on earth, goodwill toward all men and women... and everyone in-between.

Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding - David Lebovitz

Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding - David Lebovitz

Sounds delightful. His nibs isn't a huge date fan, however.

David Lebovitz' site and blog are full of foodie gems. Worth perusing.

We were discussing mincemeat over at Debbie Ohi's facebook. I favor meat & suet homemade mincemeat with apples & brandy & sultanas, &c. Others tout a no-meat-only-fruit mincemeat. Lebovitz has a dandy meatless mincemeat.

Costco chicken from the roasting spit = redux

Used the breast meat I'd set aside on Friday night for dinner last night: THREE GINGER CHICKEN

Roux made w/ flour and 2T butter.

Add chicken broth (canned ... sorry for the purists who might blanche at the thought), madeira, cream. Use hand blender to get any lumps out of the sauce.

Add white meat sliced into finger sized pieces. Toss in ginger powder, chopped up candied ginger, minced fresh ginger. (I added a lot of each. I love ginger.)

Heat through and let sit while flavors mellow.

Serve hot with steamed rice and green beans, zapped in the microwave.

We still have three or so servings of chicken pot pie in the frig. Dinner tonight is either chicken pot pie with added mushrooms browned with garlic and butter (must use up mushrooms) or we'll save the pot pie for another day and laze around tonight with white wine, crackers and Boccalone coppa di testa.

Update: Dinner tonight was chicken pot pie.

Didn't feel terribly hungry after lunch: salmon over a [deconstructed] rock shrimp hash on a bed of pesto. Delish. Shared dessert was a poached pear with what appeared to be whipped cream. But it wasn't. The "cream" was bleu cheese whipped with cream into a light-ish froth. Sublime. Delish as well.

Tonight when the clock rolled round to 7:30/8:00 I still wasn't hungry. Didn't feel like adding mushrooms browned with garlic and butter to the pot pie. Still full from lunch. Luckily, his nibs was of a similar mind.

Light supper.

We'll figure out what to do with the mushrooms that need to be eaten. (Mushroom omelet for breakfast tomorrow?)

Tomorrow evening we're off to a short-notice spontaneous year-end HOLIDAYS! house-gathering/dinner with friends. Attendees include old friends from twenty-plus years back. Half of the host couple is a sib of the twenty-years-back friend and her family. Really nice that we wound up so close to them, geographically.

Gathering will include new friends and neighbors too. Children we haven't seen in years. Not children anymore.

Looking forward to it. Sweet. This is why we try not to overbook at the year-end holidays.

The days grow longer.

Thanks be.

Sunshiney day outside with rain expected off and on through the weekend. Clear skies now, though. Lunch at the Bankers' Club to enjoy the views.

First, though we need to walk down to North Beach Citizens and drop off three bags of warm clothes. I rummaged through our closet. How many warm pullovers and sweaters can you wear at one time? We have more than enough and it's been so chill recently.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury warns recession Britain must learn lessons from Nazi Germany - Telegraph

Archbishop of Canterbury warns recession Britain must learn lessons from Nazi Germany - Telegraph

I don't know this guy at all. I'm certainly not very Christian, if at all, and not Anglican, so his pronouncements are as important as ... nothing.

But man, I love that face, hair, beard, eyebrows.

Especially the eyebrows.

This man could be Gandalf in a different setting.

Costco chicken from the roasting spit

On Tuesday, when I was fasting and girding my loins for the prep mix I needed to drink, his nibs was at work. He stopped at Trader Joe's and Costco on the way home for milk, eggs, gas, things we'd run low on before we left town.

At Costco, he bought a rotisserie chicken -- $4.99 -- something we'd never bought before. He needed something for dinner because he knew I was fasting and wouldn't feel like cooking, and he didn't want anything complicated. Roast chicken sounded good to him (and smelled sinfully delicious to my poor fasting self when he arrived home with it). He said the rotisserie chicken shelves, usually filled with packaged roasted chicken, were bare and a line of people (young, old, moms with kids in tow, more) waited for the butchers to take the roasted chickens off their spits and packaged them up.

Tuesday night he had roast chicken for dinner. Wednesday night we both had roast chicken for dinner. Friday night I stripped meat off the chicken carcass and legs and made chicken pot pie for dinner, setting aside enough white breast meat for two sandwiches or another meal.

Friday, while the pot pie was baking, I broke the chicken carcass into pieces and put it and the wings and the leg bones whose meat I'd used in the pot pie into a pot. Added chopped fresh garlic, ground pepper, chopped carrots and chopped onions. Covered just barely with water and let it simmer. After dinner, I fetched out some of the bones and picked the meat off, then threw the bones back in and set the pot to simmer some more.

Let the pot cool overnight on the stove. Yesterday afternoon I picked the bones out of the cooled broth. All the meat had fallen off the bones and the broth had thickened due to the collagen in the bone-ish bits. I took the hand blender and swirled the broth and chicken and carrots and onions and garlic into a thick soup and put the soup back on the stove to heat up. Meanwhile, I minced up a few cloves of garlic and browned some button mushrooms in butter and half the garlic. Tossed them into the soup. I snapped some green beans and cooked them in butter and garlic for a bit and tossed them (still crisp) into the soup. Added some hot curry powder and some fresh tarragon I fetched from the deck while we were giving the architects the grand tour.

Had the soup for supper with dead easy garlic Parmesan bread:
Slice four pieces of sourdough bread.
Lightly butter one side of bread.
Finely mince two garlic cloves. Sprinkle minced garlic on bread slices.
Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.
Broil until cheese melts and turns golden brown.

What's left to eat from our $4.99 roasted chicken after one dinner (Tues), two dinners (Wedn), two potpie dinners (Fri), two soup dinners (Sat)?

What's left is enough breast meat for two sandwiches or two dinners and enough leftover chicken pot pie for three-four dinners.

Maybe those $4.99 roasted chickens from Costco are a better deal than I realized.

The King and Queen

Yesterday, while I was up in the kitchen picking bones out of a pot full of what would become chicken and vegetable soup for supper, his nibs was down in front picking up leaf debris. I could hear him talking with someone just below my window. I heard a hearty laugh. His nibs came up the stairs. The door opened. "Sal? Sal? We have visitors."

Coming in the door behind him were two people I'd never seen before. Introductions made. Hands shaken. The man laughed again, a warm, hearty laugh.

I always told the niblets that they should keep their room/house clean because you never know when the Queen might drop by for tea.

This was one of those times.

The man and woman were the architects who'd designed the building we live in. The man had lived in the two lower floors for several years after he finished the building and sold the upper three floors -- our place.

His nibs gave them the grand tour: the remodeled bathrooms, the solar setup on the deck, the new floors, and the cupboards in the paper-strewn office. We discussed the work that we'd been through to fix leaks caused by construction flaws and how we wouldn't know until a couple more heavy storms blew through whether all the leaks were fixed.

We told them how much we enjoyed what they'd designed and the way the windows were placed in such a way they seemed to frame the views. The windows. Thank you for the windows. And the glass doors. And the deck. And for picking this piece of dirt and building a place where his nibs can see boats from any level. We stood up on the deck and pointed out buildings that were being rehabbed and remodeled. The neighborhood hadn't been so upscale back twenty years ago when they built this place, they said.

"Did you know the hill became the Telegraph Hill Historic District (with all sorts of restrictions on what you could or could not do) the year after this place was finished? We always wondered if this place triggered the designation."

They said they had had no problems with buying the property and building the place. The other buildings on the path were rundown rental apartments for the most part. The neighbors were happy to see something being built on the lot.

Things had changed inside our place, they said, above and beyond the cupboards and bathrooms. The frosted glass doors to the kitchen had been added by the owner prior to the owner we bought the place from. The dining room walls, now plaster, had been redwood. (Question to ponder: Is the redwood still there beneath the plaster layer? Could we restore it?) [Update: We checked some books with pictures as the place existed in 1989, three years after it was finished, and the walls were plastered at that point. Perhaps they were misremembering?]

I was glad the place was pretty much clean, aside from debris and misarranged furniture due to tree decorating. Today we will finish the tree, lay down an afghan and a throw in lieu of a tree skirt, relocate the chairs to their holiday locations, and start cleaning/clearing/picking up for the family Christmas gathering. The older niblet and his husband show up Christmas Eve for our traditional dinner at House of Prime Rib on Van Ness. The remaining sibs and their offspring arrive late morning on Christmas for the opening of presents and consuming of brunch buffet.

Raining now. Perfect weather for staying inside and staging for Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

‘Bush Shoe’ Gives Firm a Footing in the Market [NYTimes.com]

'Bush Shoe' Gives Firm a Footing in the Market

Published: December 20, 2008

ISTANBUL — When a pair of black leather oxfords hurled at President Bush in Baghdad produced a gasp heard around the world, a Turkish cobbler had a different reaction: They were his shoes.

"We have been producing that specific style, which I personally designed, for 10 years, so I couldn’t have missed it, no way," said Ramazan Baydan, a shoemaker in Istanbul. "As a shoemaker, you understand."


... orders for Mr. Baydan’s shoes, formerly known as Ducati Model 271 and since renamed "The Bush Shoe," have poured in from around the world.

15K pairs for Iraq
95K pairs for Europe
18K pairs for USA

Five thousand posters advertising the shoes, on their way to the Middle East and Turkey, proclaim "Goodbye Bush, Welcome Democracy"” in Turkish, English and Arabic.


Ah. Capitalism at its finest.

Fireworks and explosions

Of the jobs I wish I'd had, fireworks designer/handler is up near the top of the list. Also near the top is implosion designer/handler.

Implosion designers don't just blow things up, they calculate things so precisely that the building/stadium/whatever blows up and falls in on itself without damaging nearby structures.

Beautiful example of a controlled implosion. RCA Stadium. Indianapolis, IN. This morning. Eight hundred holes drilled and kaboom! powder added and then at the specific moment ...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Clinton foundation donors

The Clinton Foundation has released its donor list on its Web site.

And /ahem/ the site seems overwhelmed by the interest. (I got a timeout each time I tried. Couldn't get through.)

NYTimes article to get you through the wait. And one from Huffington Post.

Acclaimed Colombian Institution Has 4,800 Books and 10 Legs

Acclaimed Colombian Institution Has 4,800 Books and 10 Legs [NYTimes article]

Great story of Alfa and Beto, the biblio burros, Luis Soriano, their keeper, and the mission they've devoted ten years' of weekends to.

Airbrushing History -- American Style and the Internet Archives (Thanks! Brewster Kahle!)

Airbrushing History -- American Style by Scott Althaus and Kalev Leetaru. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Legacies are in the air as President Bush prepares to leave the White House. How future historians will judge the president remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: future historians won't have all the facts needed to make that judgment. One legacy at risk of being forgotten is the way the Bush White House has quietly deleted or modified key documents in the public record that are maintained under its direct control.

Remember the "Coalition of the Willing" that sided with the United States during the 2003 invasion of Iraq? If you search the White House web site today you'll find a press release dated March 27, 2003 listing 49 countries forming the coalition. A key piece of evidence in the historical record, but also a troubling one. It is an impostor.

And although there were only 45 coalition members on the eve of the Iraq invasion, later deletions and revisions to key documents make it seem that there were always 49.

The Bush White House seems to have systematically airbrushed parts of the official record regarding its own history. How extensively White House documents have been rewritten is anyone's guess, but in the case of the coalition list, the evidence is clear that extensive revision of the historical record has occurred.


I remember reading about this a few weeks ago (end of November) and I thought, hm. interesting, but, this isn't the first time this has happened.

There was a fairly well-documented instance back when Enron was crashing, where the bio for the Honorable Thomas E. White, Secretary of
the Army, was revised to elide a couple paragraphs about all the wonderful things he had done at Enron to "From 1990 to 2001, Mr. White was employed by Enron Corporation and held various senior executive positions."

Seems folks would learn that you can't change history in these days of archives without someone poking around and finding out, but ... no.

As always, these little glimmers of change are brought to you thanks to Brewster Kahle, whose Internet Archive not only stashes away the original of versions later changed, but also offers up such gems as

The Grateful Dead Live at Winterland 17 Jun 1975

Warren Zevon Live at The Main Point 20 Jun 1976

Betty Boop Betty Boop for President -- 1932

India Travel film, India (c1930)

San Francisco San Francisco (1939) from the Prelinger Archives

Peeve of the Day (AKA POTD)

(1) Folks, it is AGAINST THE LAW IN CALIFORNIA to talk on your hand-held (as opposed to hands-free) cell phone while you're driving. STOP IT!

We were headed over to Kaiser Hospital yesterday, trying to make a left turn off Union onto Gough. Light changed. Waited for person using crosswalk. After that person cleared our runway, we would've turned but a guy in large vehicle was heading straight through the intersection. SLOOOOWLY.

Turned out he was talking on his cell phone. Holding it with one hand as he drove SLOOOOWLY (did I mention SLOOOOWLY?) through the intersection. Woman in her Beemer behind him was catching up with him at a fast clip so when he had finally cleared the intersection, we didn't have any time to turn before she blew through.

So we waited some more.

Folks, as of midnight July 1, 2008, it is illegal in both Washington state and California to hold a cellphone to your ear while you drive.

Granted, just talking on your hands-free cellphone is also distracting and dangerous, but it is AGAINST THE LAW to hold your cellphone to your ear while driving (whether you're talking or just listening).

STOP IT. You either drive too fast, too maniacal, or too slow. You aren't paying attention to the other cars around you or the pedestrians or bicyclists.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Learned about Wordle via cygnoir. Played with it with my Delicious bookmarks as the resource.

Saved the Java applet results with CutePDF Writer, then pulled the PDF into Photoshop, messed with it and saved it as a .jpg.


So, a bit early, but heartfelt, nonetheless:

Every three years ...

Mostly I passed with flying colors, although they're checking on a couple things. Doc says, though, that from now on I should get checked every THREE years.

Oh, grand.

OEDILF - The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form

OEDILF - The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form

An aphorist states what is known
In a pithier, folksier tone.
He is given to joke
That the mightiest oak
From a balanoid object is grown.

(BAL-uh-noid) Acorn-shaped.

Sorts by topic, author, word, &c.

We are presently accepting submissions based ONLY on words beginning with Aa- through Dd- inclusive.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

RobertSabuda.com: Simple Pop-Ups You Can Make!

RobertSabuda.com: Simple Pop-Ups You Can Make!

You know who you are. Enjoy!

Colonoscopies Miss Many Cancers, Study Finds - NYTimes.com

Colonoscopies Miss Many Cancers, Study Finds - NYTimes.com

Did I really want to read this when I've just finished my evening prep for tomorrow's colonoscopy?

As his nibs reminded me, even if colonoscopies only catch 60-70% of cancers in the colon, that's better than nothing at all, or finding the cancer after it's already spread to the liver and beyond.

Kaiser's prep procedure is the one suggested in the article. Evening prep with half the strong laxative, and then morning prep (up at 5A! for laxatives! lucky me!) just a few hours before the procedure.

Twelve hours from now plus another hour or two in recovery and I'll be set for another five years. ... if all goes well. Proper preparation is key, they say, so off to bed and up early to down another liter of laxative.

Where's the Gap in Your Knowledge?

Sponsored by Oxford University Press' Very Short Introductions: Where's the Gap in Your Knowledge?

Quiz asks three questions in each of seven subject areas. You must answer at least two out of the three questions correctly or you have a gap in that area of knowledge.

My only gap was in Religion & Theology.

[via Sour Grapes' Google Reader]

Obama logo ideas that weren’t chosen | Logo Design Love

Obama logo ideas that weren't chosen | Logo Design Love

Interesting information and links re the design of the Obama '08 logo: how it was chosen, how it evolved.

Weird back-ness

So I'm back. We flew Air Tahiti Nui from Papeete to Los Angeles, leaving Tahiti at 10P Sunday and arriving LAX around 8:15A yesterday. Time difference only two hours, which is nice.

Checked in through immigration. Picked up our bag at the carousel and checked through Customs with our bag and carry-ons. Easy-peasy. Smoothy-oothy. Got to the Virgin America desk before 10A and saw that they had an SFO flight at 11A. Asked if they could shift us from our 2: something flight to the 11A: flight. The cheery staff said, sure, they'd put us on stand-by. Then they popped us to the top of the stand-by list because we'd joined their frequent flyer program before we flew out.

The flight was delayed because it was raining in San Francisco (which slows the landing pattern to about 1/2 of normal) and they weren't getting clearance to leave LAX until they had a chance to land at SFO. The plane carried a number of staff deadheading to SFO, but there was still room for us. Together. With a window seat for me.

I dozed off a bit because I hadn't slept well on the overnight flight from Tahiti and there was cloud cover and nothing to see. I woke up again and enjoyed the last half hour of the flight. Cloud cover had broken. I could see the beaches along Monterey Bay and the wooded hills climbing to the east. I took photos from the window of the sunshine on water,

Elkhorn Slough Posted by Picasa

San Francisco skylinePosted by Picasa

Beautiful day coming in. Even with the delays, we arrived at SFO two or three hours earlier than we would've.

Got home to a giant pile of mail inside the front door and a week-ago's Sunday paper lying outside. We can never quite figure how SFC figures out when your "away" start and stop dates start and stop. His nibs thought he'd stopped after Saturday morning's delivery, but no.

We puttered around. Cleared the stack of mail. Washed the laundry. Downloaded all the photos from the camera. Had ricotta-spinach ravioli tossed with butter, fresh garlic and Parmesan cheese for dinner. Tucked in.

His nibs was off to work relatively early today because it's been chill and road conditions are weird. He needed to get in to work for a meeting at a certain time and decided to take plenty of time.

We had hail downtown when we were coming in from the airport in the Super Shuttle yesterday afternoon. Snow down to 500-1000' this morning. Hwy 17 over from Santa Cruz has snow on it. Snow plows in Scotts Valley last night. Colder than we're used to.

... and I'm ... not allowed to eat. No solid food at all. No milk, if I want coffee. Only clear liquids, consistency of water. I don't think they mean tequila or vodka here. ... I guess I'll subsist on maté until tomorrow.

Tonight at seven I get to drink a liter of prep and tomorrow at five in the morning another liter, to clear out my innards because (yippee!) I check in for a colonoscopy at 9:30A tomorrow. His nibs needs to accompany me home and for the rest of the day I'm not allowed any sedatives or alcohol and I'm not allowed to operate a moving vehicle or heavy or dangerous machinery.

Maybe Thursday I'll really be "back" and we can get a Christmas tree and start freaking out that Christmas is JUST A WEEK AWAY!

Colonoscopy is no fun. I have to have one every five years, ever since my next older brother was diagnosed with colon cancer (which by then had spread to his liver) in 1998. So 1998. 2003. 2008. 2013. and so on ad infinitum or ad mors or whatever.

He died in June 2001 and I miss him. I see things I think he'd like, weird things [a glass block etched with a DNA pattern] [magnetic wall paint], interesting books, scientific paraphernalia.

The colonoscopy is just another reminder that he's not here. And why.

Quite the abrupt and bruising return from a short but warm and welcome vac, but there's only me to blame. I consciously scheduled the appointment for tomorrow, because they couldn't schedule it back when they'd intended because we had other things happening and I just want to get it over with as soon as I possibly can. Back yesterday. Today for fast and prep. Done tomorrow by noon. Just get the pall and the memories it dredges up over with and carry on.

Thursday. Thursday will be a much better day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Back ...

Over 1500 photos later ...

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Back in a few

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Got this from a well-spoken^H^H^H^H well-written (and interesting!) blogger whereof whom I know.

[Read her. You'll be happy you did. ...]



For those all you-alls who need to get your butt in gear:

Holidailies participants solemnly vow to update their Web sites daily from Dec. 5 to Jan. 6.

I'll be away from the Web for part of that time, but I think this is a useful project, so I'm passing it on to you. ... you know who you are. ...

Beethoven's 5th Argument

Beethoven's 5th Argument

Sid Caesar. Nanette Fabray.

A Classic.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Venice under five feet of water as the city suffers its worst floods in 22 years

Venice under five feet of water as the city suffers its worst floods in 22 years

I love Venice. I could spend some serious time there. I think it's a magical place.

When we got back from our one and only trip there (followed by a walking holiday poking through Palladio sites in the Veneto), I had a dream ... a nightmare.

In the dream, we had bought a palazzo in Venice and moved lock, stock and books to take up permanent residence. Knowing the dangers of putting heavy loads of books on upper stories of aging homes, I'd set up all my book shelves on the ground floor of the palazzo.

All this is backstory.

The dream opens with me leaning against a railing, looking across the canal to the palazzo that we had just moved all our worldly goods (and books) into and were making our home.

As I leaned against the railing, the rain began to fall and before you could say, "George Washington" (this was a dream after all), the waters start to rise and rise fast. I realized the waters will rise enough that everything on our ground floor will be flooded ...


I don't have time to run down the paths to the nearest bridge and across the bridge and back down the paths to our palazzo and get the books shifted in time to save them.

... so, Freud. What is the deep meaning of this nightmare?

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Pownce Blog -- Goodbye Pownce, Hello Six Apart

The Pownce Blog -- Goodbye Pownce, Hello Six Apart

Pownce is closing down effective December 15th. They've added an export function so you can download all your messages. Leah Culver and Mike Malone are joining the engineering team at Six Apart, and bringing the Pownce technology along with them.

[via a tweet from Laughing Squid]

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The miracles of modern science - notify a partner of possible STD via e-card

* Choose one of six e-cards (Figure 1),
* Type in recipients' e-mail addresses (up to six),
* Select an STD from a pull-down menu,
* Type in own e-mail address or send anonymously,
* Type in an optional personal message.

PLoS article on inSPOT: The First Online STD Partner Notification System Using Electronic Postcards

Ah, the wonders of the Web.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pier 39. Decked out for Christmas.

This is last year's pic but saw it today and it looks just the same.

Went for a walk down the steps this afternoon. Mailed some letters at the bottom of the hill, walked out Sansome to the Embarcadero, then walked along the edge of the water until we cut in toward Cost-Plus and B&N. We cut in a bit earlier than we really needed to because the crush of people was shredding my nerves.

Our destination had been Cost-Plus because they were having a wicked sale with 2 for 1 Christmas ornaments and deals on this and on that, but once inside I saw nothing I really needed. A few things I wanted but not enough to open the wallet.

We skipped B&N, which is next door to Cost-Plus and always the next stop, because I have a mile high stack of books to be read. We did stop at Trader Joe's on the way home for milk and for crackers for the Boccalone coppa di testa we'll be eating for dinner tomorrow.

Tonight will be chicken thighs with trumpet mushrooms, shallots, garlic, sour cream, marsala. Rice. Some vegetable.

Last night was dinner at Coi with friends. Absolutely delish. We plumped for the paired wines with the tasting menu. We wound up with that and with a couple extra glasses of wine thrown in as well as one of the dishes none of us had ordered when choosing "or" at one point. Delish, that.

The Coi staff is wonderful. Welcoming. Relaxed. Not as starchy as Gary Danko. Did I mention the food was delish?

Our reservation was for five folks at 6 p.m. They ushered us into a private room in back that I didn't know existed. We had the room to ourselves. Four hours later we rolled back out onto Broadway, us to walk up Montgomery home, our three friends to head down the peninsula.

We went for a walk today because the weather sparkled and we needed to make a vague effort to work off some of the calories for last night.

(0.9mi over and the same back, according to maps.google.com. 2 miles, if that.)

Did I mention we saw the Christmas tree at Pier 39?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Just hanging in the sun.

Sun peeking out from behind the grey for a few minutes. (And the grey has since drifted back into place.)

Sitting in my chair, which faces the bay. Reading a library book. Back from a walk down to the Ferry Building for bread from Acme and coppa di testa from Boccalone. Down to the Ferry Building and back up the steps, all 223 of them, but who's counting?

Concentrating on the words before me (Elizabeth Berg: The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation). In the background I can hear the parrots -- not chattering, not arguing, not squawking, as they usually do. Susurration. Murmuration. Low. Affectionate.

I get up out of my seat to see what they're up to.

Just hanging in the sun. [Click on the picture for a closeup look. They blend into the cypress in the smaller view.]

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Mumbai/Bombay - Twitter Search

Mumbai/Bombay - Twitter Search

... ongoing news and commentary on what's happening in Mumbai/Bombay via tweets, some direct from India.

Also links to news articles and useful information and, as always with the Web, some wasted space and very stoopid people.

Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede

Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede.

Is Black Friday worth it? Do you really need this stuff on sale? Are you really saving enough money to make all this worth it?

Maybe it's just that I am not a fan of large pushy crowds, but I decided that getting up in time to stand in line at Cost-Plus to be one of the first hundred through the doors for a 7 a.m. opening, which would score me a free pretty little glass Christmas ornament and a chance for a huge prize, was just not worth dealing with people in mind of a Black Friday deal.

Some stores opened at 4 a.m. Macy's opened at 5 a.m. Other stores had midnight madness sales. People left their family Thanksgiving dinners early to stand in line to score deals on stuff.

More shopping news:

Gabrielle Mitchell, 28, from Rockville Centre, was out at the stores in Hicksville at 3:45 a.m. waiting for them to open. Almost four hours later, she said she had spent more than $1,600.

But did she need the stuff she spent money on? Does it make her happy? Does it make her happy even through the paying of the bills?

For me it's much nicer to stay home today and read the paper back and forth over breakfast with his nibs and let the glow of family Thanksgiving keep me warm on a grey day.

Dinner tonight with friends. Money will be spent not for durable goods but for transient pleasure.

And no one dies.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

!Candied yams

I volunteered to bring the yam-ish dish (among other things) to the family Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Not candied yams, which is what we had at Thanksgiving growing up.

This year I'm bringing sweet potato fries because I like them and hope others will too and, on request of the son-in-law, "those yams you made last year."

Except. I can't remember how I made the yams last year so in lieu, I did something entirely different. (Sorry, Bill!)

Cooked and peeled a certain number of sweet potatoes (0.49/lb in Chinatown). Mashed them with a chunk of butter, juice of one orange (10/$1 in Chinatown), shredded fresh ginger (0.79/lb in Chinatown), brown sugar.

Cooked and peeled a certain number of white yams (0.59/lb in Chinatown). Mashed them with a chunk of butter, maple syrup, a dollop of vanilla extract and ginger powder.

Took an old soup can out from the stash under the sink. Took the label off. Cut off the bottom to make a metal pipelike object. Washed thoroughly.

Put the can vertical in the casserole dish. Filled with mashed white yams. With can still in place, piled and patted all the mashed sweet potatoes to fill in the vacant spaces OUTSIDE the can. Used the metal bottom I'd recently cut off the can to press the white yams through the can as I removed it.

Sprinkled sliced almonds around the perimeter of the casserole dish, covering the mashed sweet potatoes.


Mañana I will bake the casserole until heated through and the almonds get all toasty.

Not the yams I made last year. Not the candied yams of my youth.

What shall I call this?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

12 Great Tales of De-Friending

My peeps-who-tweet list grows and shrinks, depending on how full my twitterstream is.

Most people who are taken off the list are stored instead on MyDelicious with a /twitterfeed/ tag so that I can get to them and catch up on their tweets but not necessarily wade through five hundred tweets (total) every day. I mean, there was usually a reason they made my twitterfeed list in the first place.

Is it their fault they post in spurts and every four hours I can look forward to a series of nine tweets?

Well, yes it is their fault, which is why they're now a MyDelicious twitterfeed link rather than on my "real" twitterfeed. (Note to whoever may be fussing about me moving you off my twitterfeed: Unless your initials are TO, the aforementioned burst-tweeter isn't you.)

Facebook, though, seems more easily controlled. I can look at someone's updates or not. The updates from X don't overwhelm the updates from Y. I don't think I've ever defriended anyone at LinkedIn either. I did completely bail out of Friendster soon after the friends of friends of friends began including people I wouldn't want to have coffee with.

This article on de-friending brings up many issues but #6 ("De-friending can regress mature women into a high school gossip mob") takes the cake.

Stephen King's God trip | Salon Books

[you have an ad clickthrough before salon.com feeds you the content]

Stephen King's God trip

On the 30th anniversary of "The Stand," the novelist confesses what haunts him about religion and today's politics.

By John Marks

Oct. 23, 2008 | In 1927, a little-known writer of horror stories named H.P. Lovecraft tried to put into words the secret of his diabolical craft. "The one test of the really weird is simply this," Lovecraft wrote in the introduction to "Supernatural Horror in Literature," "whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes or entities on the known universe's utmost rim."

That's a mouthful, and yet I swear, two decades or so ago, I had the very experience that Lovecraft describes while on an overnight bus trip from Dallas to a Christian youth camp in northern Minnesota. Most of the other teen campers flirted or gossiped or joked around. Some endured the long hours by reading Scripture, and in their own way, may have been grappling with "the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities." I was mesmerized by a less prescriptive but equally god-smitten work: Stephen King's epic of apocalypse, "The Stand."

This year, the novel "The Stand" turns 30, and far from fading into the dustbin of bygone bestsellers, King's great tale of plague seems more prescient than ever.


Second Life affair ends in divorce - CNN.com

Second Life affair ends in divorce - CNN.com

Pollard and Taylor met in an internet chat room, got married in RL and in SL in 2005, and then ...

[husband] Pollard admitted having an online relationship with a "girl in America" but denied wrongdoing. "We weren't even having cyber sex or anything like that, we were just chatting and hanging out together," he told the Western Morning News.

[wife] Taylor is now in a new relationship with a man she met in the online roleplaying game World of Warcraft.

Be careful out there, folks! The online world can splash over into this one with nary a warning.

[via HMB @ unlibrarian]

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Dunlap Question, redux

The Dunlap Question

Someone asked elsewhere: What would you choose, Sal?

I'm still pondering.

Would I relive my life knowing what I know now and be constrained to live through =everything= knowing, for instance, about an upcoming miscarriage or divorce, the death of three siblings and my parents, all the crap and miseries? I couldn't even spend more time with my sister or brothers or parents than I did because that would not be a life that was "just exactly as before."

I'm not sure the happiness and satisfaction would offset the crap I'd have to live through again.

If I were oblivious, mind swept clear of understanding and memories, then maybe I would, but if I had to reprise my entire life with my memories intact and with foreknowledge of what unchangeable sadness was coming up next September. ...

Probably not.

But ... if ... at the end of the reliving, I'd get more time, wouldn't I? More time would be good.

Or would I be asked again when today rolls round again, would I be asked again at this instant, to make the choice again and choose whether to feed back into the infinite loop?

The question is a different one from whether I would change anything that had happened to me in the past. To that one I always say "no changes," because all that came before -- even the deaths and the sadnesses and the broken hearts and the wish-I-hadn'ts -- led to where I am today and I'm pretty happy with today, thankyouverymuch.

The Dunlap Question

Item listed in an upcoming Sotheby's auction.

Item: a sheet of paper with the header, THE DUNLAP QUESTION, with typed questions and scribbled answers from F Scott Fitzgerald. (est: $8-$12K)

The basic question is followed by questions that refine the basic question and answer.

You make a quick survey of your whole life, remembering all your pains and all your pleasures, the humiliations and triumphs, the regrets and satisfactions, the miseries and the happiness. Then suppose you are compelled to make the following decision, with no alternative?

1. Live through your whole life again, just exactly as before, with no opportunity to better it by your present experience, or

2. Die instantly.

Which would you choose?


Interesting question.

The person posing the questions: Gilbert Seldes


I'm still pondering.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Providing stability. Securing the future.

This year, our financial markets have been tested in unprecedented ways. And though the global landscape has become increasingly complex, one thing has remained consistent: Citi's commitment to helping our clients and customers find solutions that will drive their financial success.

and the full-page ad in today's San Francisco Chronicle (Page A16) goes on.

hahaha hohoho.

c2008 Citigroup Inc. Member FDIC. Citibank and Citibank with Arc Design are registered service marks of Citigroup Inc. Citi never sleeps is a service mark of Citigroup Inc.

Citigroup's latest news

Citi dodges bullet
Government will guarantee losses on more than $300 billion in troubled assets and make a fresh $20 billion injection.

By David Ellis, CNNMoney.com staff writer
Last Updated: November 24, 2008: 2:03 AM ET

Citigroup secured a massive government aid package over the weekend following a painful selloff last week in company stock.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The U.S. federal government on Sunday announced a massive rescue package for Citigroup - the latest move to steady the banking giant, whose shares have plunged in the past week.


So how much does a full-page ad in the Chron cost?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Esquire's 70 Greatest Sentences

Esquire's 70 Greatest Sentences

Well, these sorts of things are always, "Why did they choose that?" "Why didn't they choose that?"

Sample sentences from the list:

Also, I shouldn't have to say this, but do not, under any circumstances, put Pop Rocks in your ass. --Stacey Grenrock Woods, Sex column, 2003

It showed a crowd of freaks bending over a dying fat man on a dark and lonely road, looking at a tattoo on his back which illustrated a crowd of freaks bending over a dying fat man on a . . . --Ray Bradbury, "The Illustrated Man," 1950

Many of the great sentences deal with sex, erections, and/or war.


[via Grapes2.0]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google

Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.

[via Scott Beale @ laughing squid]

Peeves of the Day (AKA POTD)

(1) People who refer to BART as "the BART" -- Take a bow, San Francisco Hyatt Regency - Embarcadero.

I also cringe at hip DJs and traffic reporters who refer to our freeways as "the 101" and "the 280." That sort of terminology is fine for people south of the San Berd'o line, but we are living in Northern California.

(2) Writerly folks who still write (on this the thirtieth anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre) that Jim Jones' followers committed suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid.


All that "don't drink the Kool-Aid" advice is based on a reference to the wrong powdered drink. Stop it. I'm sure the Kool-Aid folks join me in this request.

Here's some little known Kool-Aid history and trivia. Enjoy.

PSA - Showcasing Your Life Online? New Software Uses Images of Keys to Make Copies

Showcasing Your Life Online? New Software Uses Images of Keys to Make Copies

So the lesson to be learned is not to empty your pockets and take pictures of "what's in my pockets" with your keys in clear view and then post the pics on your Facebook page or Web site or blog.

New Sneakey software can setup a keymaking machine to reproduce your key(s).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Moonrise Sculptures: December by Ugo Rondinone

Public art by Ugo Rondinone. Moonrise Sculptures: March, October and December. Three sculptures at the public plaza at 555 Mission. We're talking nine feet tall here, folks.

Where are the other nine moonrise sculptures in the series?

Here's December:

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

You've been saving your pennies, being frugal as can be, waiting for a buying opportunity in this depressed economy.

Here's your chance.

Sotheby's auction in New York. "American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture"
Wed, 03 Dec 08

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. The Poker Game.

Estimate $200-300K.

One of many he painted in his lifetime:

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was well-known in the Rochester area of New York for his paintings of anthropomorphised canines surrounded by the trappings of successful middle-class life. Typical subjects included the all-night card game, a trip to the ball park, commuting to work and even arguing a case in court. A great deal of attention is paid to the dogs' clothing, details of their surroundings and to a humorous variety of facial expressions. Cigar companies, the artist's first customers, printed copies of his paintings for promotional give-aways, but the printers Brown & Bigelow made Coolidge's dog-genre familiar to the general public as advertising posters, calendars and prints.

Estimate $200-300K.


Admire the new favicon up in the address bar

Take a moment to admire the new hill-related favicon up in the address bar.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Moonrise - full moon

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For Auntie K. ;-)

Egyptian Lantern Slides from the Brooklyn Museum via flickr

Egyptian Lantern Slides - General Views & People - from the Brooklyn Museum plus lantern slides of Egyptian Places from the same source, flickr The Commons.

Head of Colossus of Ramses II, Thebes

The Web. What a wonder.

Foggy day in town (and then not ...)

The fog had been creeping in since we woke up. The radio said the San Mateo Bridge, south of us, was fogged in, but we didn't have fog. Then. ... The fog from the south showed up at our doorstep.
7:54 a.m.

9:08 a.m.: The fog is hugging the underside of the Bay Bridge. The cars heading west come out of a cloud and into the sun, then head back into a cloud.

9:09 a.m. : Some birds hanging out in the notorious cypress tree down hill from us. Watching the fog that's crept over the bay.


The cranes over at the Port of Oakland on the east side of the Bay are just barely visible above the fog.

10:06 a.m. An hour later, the fog begins to clear and a sunny, San Francisco fall day appears. Not unexpectedly.

The crows rule the cypress roost. Later they'll make way for the parrots. There are a variety of bird types that share turns watching from the lofty perch. The only bird that's unwelcome by all is the hawk.
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This is our moment. This is our time.

I'm a huge fan of Paul Madonna and his ALL OVER COFFEE work in the Sunday Chronicle.

Got this note from him today (that would be me and the zillion others on his e-mail list):

I've had an overwhelming response to this week's "Obama:Progress" All Over Coffee piece. Since the original sold within the first few hours it was published, (including a backup waitlist) I decided to make a fine art limited edition print of this particular strip to honor this momentous time in history.

The full-color print is 16x22 inches, signed and numbered in a limited edition of 100, at $195 each. Produced by the fabulous printer SF Electric Works, these prints are of the highest quality.

Follow this link to both view and order.

If you missed Sunday's Madonna, check it out. If you don't know ALL OVER COFFEE or Paul Madonna, check him out.

Pin the Tail -- Patterns, Land Use

Pin the Tail -- Patterns, Land Use

Interesting blog post from Sophia Travis @ Pin the Tail comparing red/blue voting patterns in the south for the 2008 presidential election and cotton production in the same region in 1860.

What does this mean? All those old plantation owners' heirs and assigns are Democrats?

[via tweet fr Tim O'Reilly]

/ CONTEST / 26th Annual Delacorte Press Contest, for a First Young Adult Novel [Deadline: 31Dec2008]

26th Annual Delacorte Press Contest, for a First Young Adult Novel
Deadline: 31Dec2008

The prize of a book contract (on the publisher's standard form) covering world rights for a hardcover and a paperback edition, including an advance and royalties, will be awarded annually to encourage the writing of contemporary young adult fiction. The award consists of $1,500 in cash and a $7,500 advance against royalties.

All federal, state, and local taxes, if any, are the winner's sole responsibility. Prizes are not transferrable and cannot be assigned. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.

1. The contest is open to U.S. and Canadian writers who have not previously published a young adult novel. Employees of Random House, Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates, and members of their families and households are not eligible.

2. Foreign-language manuscripts and translations are not eligible.

3. Manuscripts submitted to a previous Delacorte Press contest are not eligible.

Suitable for readers ages 12 to 18.
100-224 typewritten pages. Double-spaced.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

flickr and guesswheresf

I stash photos on flickr -- not all the photos I take, obviously, but some. My "pro" account expired today and I need to get around to renewing.

"pro" accounts cost $24.95/yr and a subscription gets you an infinite archive of photos, infinite uploads, infinite ... and the free version gets you a far scaled down version, but enough to see why you might want to spend $24.95/yr for the complete deal.

The time I spend roaming around on flickr, looking at other people's photographs (oooh, look at all the photos labeled 'Lake Baikal') is a joy and an education, but most of my time on flickr is spent in one of their interest groups called GuessWhereSF in which the members (1213 at last count) upload photos taken within the city limits and the other members guess where the picture was taken.

I am amazed at the esoteric knowledge of the city and its back alleys some of these folks have. The group also has handy helpful tools like a list of "unfound" photos for those who are looking for the challenge of identifying a photograph that has so far gone unidentified and a comment searcher so you avoid, as much as possible, uploading a picture of somewhere that's been photographed and uploaded ten times before. (Search for the street name of the place you took a picture of for the best results.)

Pictures that show up again and again and again eventually are nominated for "Hall of Fame" status. Scrolling through the Hall of Fame is a primer into how different photographers can photograph the identical location with widely varied results.

Fun? You betcha.

Like this: Sleepy lion. 3690 Washington @ Spruce, uploaded a day or so ago. (The address was added after the location was identified.) (Identified in like two minutes, I'll have you know. Sheesh.) Comments follow.

Read the rules before playing!

my Twitterank is 14.52!

As it says over there >>>>> my Twitterank is 14.52! (that tweet, btw, was generated automatically by Twitterrank and was a surprise to me) and before you get all like wow! Sal's Twitterank is 14.52! realize that the larger the number, the more tweet you are.

So, me ... not so much.

[n.b. to get a Twitterank, you have to giveup your twitter name and twitter pwd. Not a good idea if you use name/pwd elsewhere OR if you don't plan to change your twitter pwd in the next hot minute.]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Library in the New Age

The Library in the New Age

by Robert Darnton. (The New York Review of Books. 12 Jun 2008)

Late on this. Just saw a May 2008 link from Robert Berkman's friendfeed.

The article concludes, Meanwhile, I say: shore up the library. Stock it with printed matter. Reinforce its reading rooms. But don't think of it as a warehouse or a museum. While dispensing books, most research libraries operate as nerve centers for transmitting electronic impulses. They acquire data sets, maintain digital repositories, provide access to e-journals, and orchestrate information systems that reach deep into laboratories as well as studies. Many of them are sharing their intellectual wealth with the rest of the world by permitting Google to digitize their printed collections. Therefore, I also say: long live Google, but don't count on it living long enough to replace that venerable building with the Corinthian columns. As a citadel of learning and as a platform for adventure on the Internet, the research library still deserves to stand at the center of the campus, preserving the past and accumulating energy for the future.

Darnton also says (and I concur, oh, how I concur), Information has never been stable. That may be a truism, but it bears pondering. It could serve as a corrective to the belief that the speedup in technological change has catapulted us into a new age, in which information has spun completely out of control. I would argue that the new information technology should force us to rethink the notion of information itself. It should not be understood as if it took the form of hard facts or nuggets of reality ready to be quarried out of newspapers, archives, and libraries, but rather as messages that are constantly being reshaped in the process of transmission. Instead of firmly fixed documents, we must deal with multiple, mutable texts. By studying them skeptically on our computer screens, we can learn how to read our daily newspaper more effectively—and even how to appreciate old books.

Don't trust the newspapers. Don't trust books. For heaven's sake, don't trust blogs or online news sources or the story that a friend of a friend told your best friend.

Believe, but believe with healthy skepticism because the more I read and the more I know, the more I know what I read is at least twenty percent balderdash and another twenty percent complete fraud. (And despite her protestations to the contrary, the great great whatever great aunt did not trace his nibs' family roots back to Lady Godiva and beyond.)

The court will overturn Prop. 8

The court will overturn Prop. 8 by LaDoris H. Cordell. (op-ed in today's San Francisco Chronicle)

I was reading this commentary in the Chron this morning -- a commentary I agree with totally, btw.

LaDoris Cordell was a Superior Court judge in the south bay back when I lived in the south bay, so I was surprised when she mentioned she was lesbian.

That's odd, I thought. I knew she was a woman judge, not all that common, and a black woman judge at that, even more uncommon, but I hadn't realized she was a lesbian black woman judge. Huh. What do you know? Had I just not been paying attention? Was it just not important? Had I forgotten? (I've forgotten a lot of things.)

But then, I went to college, then to law school, opened a law practice in a black community, became a law school administrator, and then went on to a successful career on the bench. Along the way, I got married and had two wonderful daughters. I was perfect. And then one fine day, as these black voters would have it, I chose to simply throw it all away - to become an Untouchable? Ridiculous. I did not choose to be gay anymore than I chose to be black.

Ah. Penny drops. Cordell was married with a family when I knew of her, so I knew of the black woman judge aspect of her life but at that time, the lesbian side wasn't front and center. I didn't know and, frankly, had I known, wouldn't have cared.

Good commentary.

I also liked Keith Olbermann's commentary on Proposition 8 but for Pete's sake, he can sure over-emote, can't he? Easier to read his commentary than to watch it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A reminder: Click to Give @ The Hunger Site

Click to Give @ The Hunger Site

from the site: The Hunger Site launched in June 1999 as the brainchild of a private citizen from Indiana, with the purpose of helping to alleviate world hunger by using the Internet in a creative way. A simple daily click of a button on www.thehungersite.com would give funding — paid for by the site's sponsors — to the United Nations World Food Programme.

In its first nine months, the site funded more than nine million pounds of food for the hungry — an astonishing feat. Eventually the site became too large for one man to manage, and in 2000 The Hunger Site was sold to GreaterGood.com, which today operates as the GreaterGood Network family of websites.

The shopshopshop portion of this site is superb as well. Very cool stuffs for those friends and family for whom a gift certificate to Olive Garden just won't do. Cheap shipping deals too.

Go there and check it out.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Fiddling ...

Messing things up in the process.



Friday, November 07, 2008

Nathan Sawaya's Lego sculptures at portfolio.com

Amazing work.

I've written about Lego sculptures and sculptors before, but never linked to Nathan Sawaya's Lego sculptures.

Well, for one thing, I don't think they existed the last time I wrote about Legos (in 2002).

Here's an article on his sculptures from portfolio.com. (The media show at the first link is from the same source.)

And here's Sawaya's Web site - brickartist.com: the Art of the Brick.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Maureen Dowd - Bring on the Puppy and the Rookie

Bring on the Puppy and the Rookie

Worth the signing on for.


The Obama girls, with their oodles of charm, will soon be moving in with their goldendoodle or some other fetching puppy, and they seem like the kind of kids who could have fun there, prowling around with their history-loving father.

I had been amazed during the campaign — not by the covert racism about Barack Obama and not by Hillary Clinton’s subtext when she insisted to superdelegates: “He can’t win.”

But I had been astonished by the overt willingness of some people who didn’t mind being quoted by name in The New York Times saying vile stuff, that a President Obama would turn the Rose Garden into a watermelon patch, that he’d have barbeques on the front lawn, that he’d make the White House the Black House.

Actually, the elegant and disciplined Obama, who is not descended from the central African-American experience but who has nonetheless embraced it and been embraced by it, has the chance to make the White House pristine again.

I grew up here, and I love all the monuments filled with the capital’s ghosts. I hate the thought that terrorists might target them again.

But the monuments have lost their luminescence in recent years.


Well said, Maureen Dowd. Well said.
Read the whole thing.

Patrick Moberg's 04Nov cartoon

Patrick Moberg's 04Nov cartoon

Succinct. (Can a cartoon be succinct? Perhaps I should say, To the point.)

Obama, however, will probably be grey too by the end of his terms.

Check out patrickmoberg.com

Name the New White House Puppy!

We were watching Obama's acceptance speech and he was talking about Sasha and Malia and I said to his nibs, "And they get a PUPPY!"

... the next thing Obama said was, "and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House."

Well, now there's all the yammer about what =sort= of dog they should get and whether it should be a pound puppy or not.

What to name the puppy? is the next question.

Well, here are some ideas from the New Yorker, including "Checkers":

I think they should name it "Chesapeake" and call it "Chess," as a fitting counterpoint to "Checkers."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

'Jurassic Park' author, 'ER' creator Crichton dies - CNN.com

'Jurassic Park' author, 'ER' creator Crichton dies - CNN.com

RIP, Michael Crichton.

Crichton drove me nuts some times. His skepticism of global climate change and global warning encourage the nutcases.

STATE OF FEAR (2005) was lecturing and personal lobbying at its worse. The science wasn't true and Crichton based his story on "information" that wasn't.

Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist and co-founder of wunderground.com* reviewed the book and the science. Read it and see why my teeth grind when I think of that book.

That said, Crichton entertained me over the years. His tales were gripping. He was a smart guy who knew a lot and knew how to weave what he had into intriguing, page-turning books. He helped pay his way through college writing novels, medical thrillers. In 1969, Crichton won an Edgar for A CASE OF NEED, written under the pseudonym Jeffrey Hudson, probably because of its subject matter: abortion. (We're talking 1968 here.)

ANDROMEDA STRAIN, JURASSIC PARK and ER are fitting legacies.


*(Weather Underground, a weather service of which our uphill neighbor, not William Ayers, is president of the BoD.)

Exceptionally disappointed in San Francisco voters

Exceptionally disappointed in San Francisco voters, though.

With Obama, Prop 8 (and eleven other state propositions), twenty-two city measures and assorted supervisor/congresscritter/&c. decisions, the Registrar says

of the 477,651 registered voters,
237,843 ballots were cast.


That's pathetic, and doesn't even take into account those folks who couldn't be bothered even to register, let alone vote.

There's never been anything false about hope.

I watched this whenever I felt like it was all an impossible quest.

Thank you, will.i.am.

Proposition 8 Passes. On to Plan B.

Election Results - November 4, 2008 - California Secretary of State [map showing how the state voted, county by county. Illuminating!] Update: The CASoS has taken down the map, alas. The above link now points only to the text results. Update: The map is back

Proposition 8 passes.

95.7% of the precincts partially or fully reporting as of 7:49A. Yes:52.1% No:47.9%

Update: 96.4% precincts partially or fully reporting as of 9:23 a.m. Yes: 52.2% No: 47.8%

I can't tell you how disappointed I am. The only saving grace is that Prop 22 passed in 2000 by 61.4% to 38.6%. Saving grace: the gap has closed as much as it has in eight years. Now written into the state Constitution, the only way to un-do the amendment is by a similar vote by registered voters. The Legislature can't undo a Constitutional amendment (not that they could even rescind Prop 22 when they tried -- Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill).

Could voters come to their senses and reversed the amendment when some more time passes? If we cut the difference from 12.8% to 4.1% 4.4% in eight years, could we bring this to the ballot again in five years and have it pass?


Seems funny to me that amendments to the Constitution take only 50% +1 of the vote but raising taxes takes 2/3ds approval. Perhaps Constitutional amendments should also have that threshhold, but please not until we've rescinded this mean-spirited, unfair and wrong amendment some time in the future.

Or, alternatively, we can go to Plan B, as soon as everyone's regrouped.

Plan B: Change state law so that all legal schmegal dealing with joint tax filing, hospital visitation, inheritance, health benefits, time off for sick family, adoption, &c. for couples is based solely on civil registration at City Hall or the county courthouses.

Let churches marry whom they please, and let it be solely between a man and a woman, if that's what the church deems, but church marriages will not be valid registration for the government benefits accruing to couples. Only a civil partnership registered at City Hall or the county courthouse will have legal status, and civil partnerships will be available to heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My bets on the election ...

OK. So it's only a bet in Huffington Post's "guess the election" contest, but this is what I tossed in the mix. (Wishful thinking may be in play. ...)

Huffington Post was asking for electoral college breakdown (by numbers), popular vote breakdown (by percentages), House and Senate breakdowns (by numbers) and (as the tie-breaker for the woo-hoo! contest winner), the percentage breakdowns in the Minnesota Senate race.

My bets:

Electoral College: Obama 340 McCain 198

Popular Vote: Obama 54.1% McCain 42.2% Other 3.7%

House: Dem 246 Rep 189

Senate: Dem 59 Rep 39 Other 2

Minnesota Senate:
Franken 45%
Coleman 42%
Barkley 13%

Sunday, November 02, 2008

His nibs & Sal

Nerds in costume. Prior to wandering around SF on Hallow E'en'

Oh, wait. There I am before the party started!

There we are. We were marvelous. A good time was had by all.

Wife of former 49er Young voting No on Prop. 8

Wife of former 49er Young voting No on Prop. 8

You GO! Steve and Barbara.

Interesting. Has there been any fallout?

Interesting. Has there been any fallout? asks Sour Grapes, in response to my Vote NO on Proposition 8, redux. post.

My answer?

The biggest fallout is Proposition 8.

Attempts to make the anti-marriage-equality stance part of the state Constitution were already in motion after San Francisco authorized gay marriage ... only to have those marriages halted and then voided the same year because of the existence of the legal language brought into play by Proposition 22.

San Francisco and other proponents of marriage equality took the matter to court.

Question: Was Proposition 22, passed in 2000, to define marriage as between a man and a woman unconstitutional?

Well, said the anti-marriage-equality wing, even before the judges decided the matter. Let there be no question. Let's change the Constitution and put the definition of marriage there (instead of in the legal code) and that way it will be constitutional!

But a move to put the Constitution amendment on the ballot had slowed until the Sanders turnabout shocked the right wing of the Republican party. If even a true-blue anti-gay-marriage Republican could change his mind ...

The shock of it energized the folks who wanted to put the matter to the voters ... again. Proposition 8 is the fallout.


On the front window of our older son's house is an Obama sign and a hand-lettered sign.

The hand-lettered sign says:


(Axel the window dog [ed. Axel is a big dog that spends each day sitting on the window seat waiting for the guys to come home and has become something of a neighborhood mascot] says JOINT FILING MEANS MORE MONEY LEFT AFTER TAXES AND MORE DOGGIE TREATS FOR ME!)

Our older son and his husband (yes, they got married =again= after the state courts legalized marriage equality in June) would like to stay married this time.

Make it so. Vote NO on Proposition 8.

t r u t h o u t | McCain, Obama and the Psychology of Decisions

t r u t h o u t | McCain, Obama and the Psychology of Decisions

Long, interesting article about the candidates and their respective ways of handling decision making and how their backgrounds, their relationships with their fathers, affect who they are today and how they relate to others.

Far from psycho-babble. Thoughtful.

Election 2008 – some fun from Peter Seibel @ Gigamonkeys

Election 2008 – some fun

dashboard periodically fetches the market price of Intrade’s state-by-state election markets, which represent the probability, as assessed by the Intrade traders, that a given candidate will win a given state. From those probabilities I compute the overall probability of various scenarios and color the map appropriate shades of blue and red. I also provide some dials and knobs (sliders) actually, to allow you to play some real-time "what if" games with the results.

[via a tweet from Tim O'Reilly]

Saturday, November 01, 2008

You betcha!

You know the thing that maybe bugs me most?

I can never say, "You betcha" without thinking of Sarah Palin.

(His nibs and I said 'you betcha' more often than I'd realized ... not realizing we were mocking a potential vice-presidential candidate to be.


Now I can't say "You betcha" without thinking of Sarah Palin.


Vote NO on Proposition 8, redux.

Jerry Sanders, Republican Mayor of San Diego and former Chief of Police, made this statement a year ago September, explaining why he would not veto a council resolution supporting marriage equality, even though he'd run on an anti-gay-marriage platform.

Even up to the day before the press statement, when the resolution was passed, Sanders still fully intended to veto it.

He changed his mind and chokes up while explaining why to the cameras and reporters.

He mentions that his daughter is gay, as are members of his staff, and he found that he couldn't veto the resolution and tell them "they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage."

"In the end, I couldn't look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife, Rana"

Words well said, and worth listening to on the eve of the election.

Vote NO on Proposition 8.

[via Andrew Sullivan. The Daily Dish]

So now at least I know how many electoral college votes there are

My enduring thanks this election cycle to Nate Silver.

Due to his fabulous (and aptly named) fivethirtyeight.com Web site (your home to all you would ever need to know about the political polls for the 2008 Presidential election), I may now be able to remember how many electoral college votes there are

     five thirty eight

and, with simple arithmetic, how many votes Obama/McCain need to win ((538/2)+1)=270.

If you haven't visited before, hie thee immediately over to fivethirtyeight.com and check out Nate's prognostications and his reasoning behind them.

fivethirtyeight.com is that good.

And thanks, Nate.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Love Story–Gold Winner: Los Muertos

Best Travel Writing - Love Story–Gold Winner: Los Muertos

Lovely story and timely with its Día de los Muertos theme.

[via a link from James O'Reilly's twitterfeed]