: views from the Hill

Friday, January 25, 2008

29 things to be happy about / Yes, it's all doom and gloom and war and global warming and Bush. Except when it's not

Mark Morford on 29 things to be happy about / Yes, it's all doom and gloom and war and global warming and Bush. Except when it's not

Number Two is especially brilliant.

What things are you happy about?

Me? I'm happy our leaks are fixed and all this winter rain and storming has produced nary a drop in a bucket.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Five in the fridge, tagged by Paula

Five in the fridge. Tagged by Paula.

We ate out last night: winemaker's dinner at Spruce Restaurant on Sacramento. Walked down to Sansome. Caught the 10 to Sacramento. Caught the 1 California at Sacramento and rode allz the way to California and Spruce. Walked up Spruce a block, hung a right. Spruce Restaurant is between Locust and Spruce on Sacramento. Took us forty minutes door-to-door, which made us half an hour early. We hung out in the bar.

Dinner was delish. Klaus-Peter Keller was in America for the first time. He provided eight different German wines. Dade Thieriot (of DeeVine wines, which was sponsoring Keller and the dinner) brought two old Rieslings from his cellar. Well, more about all that later. So. No dinner at home last night.

Dinner on Tuesday was at La Trappe (corner of Columbus and Greenwich) because I had a hankering for their moules frites and they aren't open on Mondays so I had to wait. Moules. Frites. Koningshoeven La Trappe Quadrupel. Probably more about that later too. So. No dinner at home since Monday.

Here's the fridge (after that long explanation)

Messy, eh? The instant coffee in the back is for a frequent guest. Lots of leftovers. We had dinner guests on Saturday. And bits and pieces from other meals which, when the stars align, come together for another meal. Not tonight, though. Tonight is Good Eats and Zinfandel with ZAP over at Fort Mason.

Here, front and center, though, is evidence of my split personality. [1] Trader Joe's Heavy Whipping Cream. The best when you're making scrambled eggs or omelets.

Two shelves down? Trader Joe's 1% milk, which I put in my mug of espresso, which I drink as I'm eating the fat-laden eggs. Cheese on the eggs too, did I mention? Sometimes bacon too. Oh, noze! Oh, yesss!

... on the mornings I'm not having oatmeal (real oatmeal, the kind you cook on the stove and let sit for three minutes to firm up) with raisins and 1% milk.

[2] Here's the 1% milk I mentioned. The yellow dish has bacon fat from bacon cooked for something and saved. Sometimes I fry the potato skin from the night before's baked potato in bacon fat and serve with egg for breakfast. The red dish right behind it has duck fat for similar fattery. The 1% milk, though, is good for me.

The bottled water in the back has been there for months. We're tap-water people. San Francisco's public water comes straight from the Sierras. That's why we dammed up Hetch Hetchy back a hundred years or so after all. Might as well drink the water. The dam's not coming down.

The Trader Joe's grapefruit juice is for the days his nibs has to leave for work at 7:10A and doesn't have time for a leisurely breakfast and his usual grapefruit dismantling.

[3] Fish sauce, just soze you know we're Californians.

[4] Salumi from Boccalone. Don't know if I mentioned that the older younger guy and his partner gave his nibs a 3-month subscription to Boccalone's Tasty Salted Pig Parts club. We go by 2d and 4th Saturdays of the month and pick up a small box with TSPPs. This Saturday we're due for more and we haven't finished the last. (Evidence above.)

And so good for you! Chris Cosentino (he of Incanto Restaurant, where we pick the box up, and Boccalone and, of course, Offal Good) tells us that pork is the new vegetable.

Not Paula's idea of terrific, I think, but there you go.

[5] Top shelf needs restocking. Currently one bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and one of Chardonnay. Room for three more bottles. Next shelf again shows our Trader Joe's dependence. Eggs. Sour cream. Cottage cheese. Crumbled bleu cheese. Also non-TJ cut onion, cut lemon, some other cheese (bleu variety).

The lower drawers are filled with veggies from Chinatown and mixed greens from Costco. The freezer is filled with frozen stuff. A pint of coffee ice cream takes about three months to get through. By the end it's crystally and only good for putting in the morning espresso.

Oh, and for those who wonder, yes, there are a lot of zip-lock bags in that fridge. We wash and reuse the zip-lock bags, unless they've been used for holding meats, so we're not quite as dismissive of "where do plastics come from, eh?" as it may seem.

And that's the refrigerator of Sal and five things therein.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What a waste. How much did this cost?

We received our primary absentee voter ballots in the mail ten days or more ago. The ballots were the "unaffiliated" or whatever it is non-partisan ballots.

Well, we'd both requested to vote in the Democratic primary. What's up with this? So we waited. And waited. And finally called the Registrar at the end of last week to ask what's up and were told "Oh. The Democratic absentee ballots are just getting mailed."

OK. So this means we got one ballot for the propositions and one ballot for the primary. That doesn't make much sense but whatever ...

Today we got our Democratic absentee ballots in the mail ... along with a note that our previous ballots have been canceled and won't be counted and we should tear them up and dispose of them.

Turns out the sharp as a tack folks down at the Registrar sent out who-knows-how-many unaffiliated non-partisan ballots to decline-to-state absentee voters who'd requested Democratic primary ballots. They then had to enter all the barcodes for the ballots that had been sent in error so that the system won't count them, write up a nice note, print up the extra ballot work and ... send out Democratic ballots to those voters.

How much is this flub going to cost?

And whose watch did it happen on?

Enquiring minds ...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Letter from Birmingham Jail

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Day, I reprise a view from the Hill.

Read the post and the Letter from Birmingham Jail. (the "letter" on the blog post is 404).

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Duende Travel

Duende Travel

Coming along, eh?

Pretty pictures. Content. Near to finished except for "useful information" and "links." The "booking form" is off to Peter for vetting.

Paying forward.

Personal blurb: Peter Watson and Duende Travel are like the best. The food and wine are always great. There's a lot of thought behind the itinerary.

There are gem moments: The hotel bar in Derry (North Ireland) -- just John Hume, his nibs and me. He'd sung Danny Boy to all of us during his lecture, but the others had gone back to rooms or whatever. Would you go back to your room while John Hume was hanging out? Or would you hang out too?

Drizzly picnic lunch in the ruins on Iona (Scotland).

Drying out from a soaking in the rain in a sheepherder's hut in Andalucia (Spain).

Petrarch's last home in Arquà Petrarca (Italy) and his cat's skeleton ... maybe ...

Walking in van Gogh's footsteps in Arles (France).

Hiking up the slopes of Vulcano (Sicily).

The Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin. (died and gone to Heaven)

... So many memories. So many good times.

Peter cares about where he takes you. He wants to make sure you understand the locale and the people. And the food. And the wine. And the history.

The walks are memorable. The views, the food, the wine, the settings, the memories are sublime.

'nough said? There's a reason I'm fussing over his Web site. ...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Looking very grumpy ...

Went to a Vintners' Club event at the Bankers' Club on 08Jan. ... a pinot tasting.


We went because his nibs lurves pinot noir and because David Bruce was going to speak.

One of his nibs' students at UCSB (who grew up just a stone skip from the bucolic ville we used to call home) is someone with whom we still hang out and whose ballpark tickets HipLiz sometimes buys.

This guy, as a teenager, spent his weekends at his dermatologist's Santa Cruz mountains home (dermatologist being Dr. David), digging dirt to plant the vines that became David Bruce's foray into pinot making.

Here's me looking very grumpy ... ah... focussed.

Look at those glasses! We had twelve pinot noirs to taste. They were lined up and poured before we came in: six up, six down.

I am such a naïf. I could say, "Here are my top three. Here is my least favorite."

Ask me to rate the intermediate eight wines, given forty-five minutes?

No can do.

But we had fun. ...

Each person (who wanted) sent in their scores.

Each table put together their tasting notes.

The guy clockwise plus one was the winemaker for one of the wines being tasted (Domaine Chandon Reserve. Russian River Valley) and served as table chair.

I'd rated his wine [2] but the accumulated crowd wasn't so generous.

The experience was interesting. What was really interesting was looking at the accumulated scores. Here's a top scorer: five people rated it #1; five people rated it #2; six people rated it #12.


It really is all about what you like in a wine.


So for the Vintners' Club events, you rate the wines you're tasting with no regard to what your spouse, best friend or most erudite wine snob might think.

Then you go 'round the table and seat#2 says, "This was my favorite wine because ..." and everyone else goes round and says "Well ... this is what I thought of the wine ..."

Next person (seat #3) says, "This was my favorite wine because ..." (or my least favorite wine or my second favorite wine because someone else already mentioned my favorite wine.) ...

... until all the twelve wines have been discussed.

David Bruce (the gentleman on the left in the photo)... scored highest when the overall wine scores were totted up, and well he should.

We had a splendid time.

Afterwards, we said farewell to the amazing views from the Bankers Club and said farewell to our co-conspirators and headed up hill and home, stopping off at Boccadillos on Montgomery for some tasty pig parts before we walked the rest of the way ... home

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Barrymore's A Christmas Carol -- mp3

Every Christmas as the younger guys were growing up, we listened to Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge on an old family record (later xfered to cassette tape the year I gave a tape copy to each of my living siblings).

The older younger guy's partner had heard about this tradition but the two of them were never over for Christmas Eve and he only knew of the practice from being subjected to "a blot of mustard, a bit of undigested beef" sorts of "God bless us. Every one!" riffs.

Christmas Eve 2006 they stayed with us (so we could all head off the next day to my younger brother's home for Christmas festivities) but that year we couldn't track down a sound system to play the tape and didn't have a record player in the house to play the record.

Finally, this last just past Christmas, the older younger one's partner finally was over for Christmas Eve and got to sit down and listen en famille to the Barrymore do his Scrooge.

And a wonderful Scrooge he is.

Just got a note that the older younger guy's partner had found a Barrymore Christmas Carol at the Internet Archive.

And there it is! The Christmas Carol I've listened to every Christmas Eve since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Barrymore's A Christmas Carol -- mp3

The Web is a wonder. ...

(God bless us. Every one!)

Friday, January 11, 2008

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors

Seems Firefox was complaining because some of the .jpgs Duende sent -- which I was trying to add to the site -- were in CMYK (print) instead of RGB (screen display). Makes sense. Duende'd sent the photos used in prior years' brochures.

Turns out 'tis simple enough to pull the .jpg into Photoshop. Go to the Image pulldown menu IMAGE->MODE and save the JPG as RGB instead of CMYK.

And Bob's your uncle.

Would that most of the world's problems were so easily handled.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The top 12 'Top 10' lists of 2007 / Best movies? Music? Look elsewhere. Here's the real list to help digest the year gone by

The top 12 'Top 10' lists of 2007

Brilliant set of links from Mark Morford.

The World Question Center -- 2008

The World Question Center -- 2008:

So far, 165 contributors, including Alan Alda, John Baez, Greg Benford, Aubrey de Grey, Ricahrd Dawkins, Ray Kurzweil, J Craig Venter ...

Interesting ...

e.g. Stewart Brand


The message finally got through. Good old stuff sucks. Sticking with the fine old whatevers is like wearing 100% cotton in the mountains; it's just stupid.

Give me 100% not-cotton clothing, genetically modified food (from a farmers' market, preferably), this-year's laptop, cutting-edge dentistry and drugs.

The Precautionary Principle tells me I should worry about everything new because it might have hidden dangers. The handwringers should worry more about the old stuff. It's mostly crap.

(New stuff is mostly crap too, of course. But the best new stuff is invariably better than the best old stuff.)

[via Mark Morford]

People in Order by Lenka Clayton and James Price

100. ... (Is that it?)

Brilliant idea.

[via Laughing Squid]

Yes! You can live in San Francisco for not much money at all!

Monica (of Sexploration with Monica) sleeps around housesits.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

After Epiphany, the tree comes down.

Christmas 2007

08 Jan 2008

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dirty Tricks? Who would've guessed? (the Democratic campaign)

I was trolling through political blogs and sites today for commentary on the political debates last night.

There in a comments tail, some someone posted an AP article that slammed Obama, followed by a paean to Clinton.

ASSOCIATED PRESS-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has lot of explaining to do.
He voted against requiring medical care for aborted fetuses who survive. He supported allowing retired police officers to carry concealed weapons, but opposed allowing people to use banned handguns to defend against intruders in their homes. And the list of sensitive topics goes on. With only a slim, two-year record in the U.S. Senate, Obama doesn't have many controversial congressional votes which political opponents can frame into attack ads. But his eight years as an Illinois state senator are sprinkled with potentially explosive land mines, such as his abortion and gun control votes. recent land purchase from a political supporter who is facing charges in an unrelated kickback scheme involving investment firms seeking state business. Abortion opponents see Obama's vote on medical care for aborted fetuses as a refusal to protect the helpless. Some have even accused him of supporting infanticide.

[End excerpt. No indication that the article wasn't quoted in full. ...]

I checked out the AP reference. The reference isn't a current reference but a reference to a Ryan Keith article from January 2007. This is how it reads:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may have a lot of explaining to do.

He voted against requiring medical care for aborted fetuses who survive. He supported allowing retired police officers to carry concealed weapons, but opposed allowing people to use banned handguns to defend against intruders in their homes. And the list of sensitive topics goes on.

With only a slim, two-year record in the U.S. Senate, Obama doesn't have many controversial congressional votes which political opponents can frame into attack ads. But his eight years as an Illinois state senator are sprinkled with potentially explosive land mines, such as his abortion and gun control votes.

Obama _ who filed papers this week creating an exploratory committee to seek the 2008 Democratic nomination _ may also find himself fielding questions about his actions outside public office, from his acknowledgment of cocaine use in his youth to a more recent land purchase from a political supporter who is facing charges in an unrelated kickback scheme involving investment firms seeking state business.

Obama was known in the Illinois Capitol as a consistently liberal senator who reflected the views of voters in his Chicago district. He helped reform the state death penalty system and create tax breaks for the poor while developing a reputation as someone who would work with critics to build consensus.

He had a 100 percent rating from the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council for his support of abortion rights, family planning services and health insurance coverage for female contraceptives. [...]

Notice the slight changes? Notice where the AP quote in the comments tail stops?

Should you care? It's only dirty tricks.

If you pop / Obama "lot of explaining"/ into Google, you'll find a variety of people quoting the excerpted AP article in the comments tails at various news and blog sites.

Dirty tricks? We have

and on ...

Come on Cary Sherry Lansing Davey dyck ... Clean up your act. Either Clinton approves of what you're doing (wouldn't be a surprise) or you're an overly ambitious volunteer.

Either way you're doing no favors.

Clare T. Newberry

Over at Grapes 2.0 the Sour One is taking a poll asking what we think is the "Most beautiful children's book".

I've answered, have you?

In my answer I mentioned both Chris Van Allsburg and Clare T (Turlay) Newberry as favorite author/illustrators (although beautiful illustration doesn't seem to be the ultimate intent of the Flemish poll that triggered all this yakyak).

I first encountered Newberry's books when I was a page at the San Jose Public Library back in the early 70s. Shelving books in the Children's Room one day, I came across Newberry's book Smudge and promptly fell in love with her cat/kitten sketches.

Check out what I'm talking about. I love the way she was able to convey the cat-ness of the cats and kittens and the texture of their fur.

And for those Blog365-ers

In spirit I'm with those Blog365 folks, but I won't be signing up because (1)I'm not a signer-upper for the most part and (2)I don't want to be so engaged that I freak when I get hit by a bus and wind up in the hospital and can't blog for a couple days and spoil my up-til-then-pristene record.

And for those keeping track, I'm still 100% as of Day Six of the year. My "blog" entries between Jan 1 and Jan 6 were in the form of tweets, which get pasted up over there in the righthand sidebar.

Just soze you know.

High Heels And The Body

Sociological Images: Seeing Is Believing: High Heels And The Body

AKA why I wear walking shoes everywhere -- unless I'm home, in which case I'm barefoot.

If I'm going to an event/venue that frowns on walking shoes (drinks at the Bankers' Club comes to mind), I carry a purse big enough to carry heels to the venue and to pop my walking shoes into when I change footwear on arrival. ...

His nibs worked with someone long ago who wore HIGH high heels everywhere until eventually she could not wear flat shoes without pain because her leg muscles (gastrocnemius muscles this illustration shows) had shortened in reaction to the abnormally high heels.

Barefoot girl, me.

(via Jason Schultz, Law Geek via Lori Dorn, HR Lori via a tweet from Laughing Squid)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's wishes.

In 2008 may you have warm sunshine to bask in, blue skies overhead and a light heart.

Update: (n.b. Yes, that is what la tour's color was. The sun was setting over <<<< to the west, you see. ...)