: views from the Hill

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.