: views from the Hill

Saturday, February 28, 2009

To the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: Buffett's letter

That's the good news. But there's another less pleasant reality: During 2008 I did some dumb things in investments. I made at least one major mistake of commission and several lesser ones that also hurt. I will tell you more about these later. Furthermore, I made some errors of omission, sucking my thumb when new facts came in that should have caused me to re-examine my thinking and promptly take action.

Additionally, the market value of the bonds and stocks that we continue to hold suffered a significant decline along with the general market. This does not bother Charlie and me. Indeed, we enjoy such price declines if we have funds available to increase our positions. Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that "Price is what you pay; value is what you get." Whether we're talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.

Read the entire Buffett letter to BRK stockholders here [PDF]

Schwarzenegger Declares California Drought Emergency

Schwarzenegger Declares California Drought Emergency

Some more rain is arriving tonight, if the weather mavens are to be believed, and carry over for a few days, but things aren't looking good.

Step one: encourage farmers who suck up water to raise crops like cotton and rice to move their operations to places that are better suited for water-guzzling crops.

Step two: encourage folks who plant golf courses in deserts to transform them into something else and/or let the land lapse back into sand dunes.

Step three: see where steps one and two take you.

Web design tip for businesses, especially restaurants

Having a city name on the home page is a good idea.

Having the restaurant address is even better.

Chez Papa Resto's Web page doesn't cough up the address unless you drill down to the "Contact" page.

Address: 4 Mint Plaza San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 546 4134
Fax: (415) 546 4128

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Let us now gaze down on the Port of San Francisco

Specifically, Piers 23, 19, and 17. (Click on the photo to get an enlarged version.)

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Note the pilings on the north apron of Pier 23.

Note the shabby temporary patches on the roof of the Port building facing the Embarcadero where Pier 21 would be, if there were a Pier 21.

Check out the pilings on the north apron of Pier 19. You can barely see the pair of orange cones keeping you from accidentally walking where the worst of the damage to the apron is. (The apron has crumpled and is no longer horizontal.) What you can't see in the picture very well is that the bulk of the apron to the west of the orange cones has disintegrated and fallen into the drink as well.

Check out the pilings at Pier 17 (the last pier you can see in the picture). They don't look in very great shape either, do they?

To quote from a SPUR document, published in The Urbanist in August, 2007:

The Port's 10-year Capital Plan is based on a comprehensive survey of the physical condition of all Port properties under its ownership. The Plan identifies the cost of bringing the Port into basic compliance with health, safety, seismic and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, as well as fulfilling waterfront open-space needs, at nearly $1.5 billion. Almost one-third of the costs identified in this Capital Plan are for substructure repair and seismic strengthening of the Port's pile-supported structures.

Something must be done.

What will it be? What to do, what to do, what to do. ...

FY2010 Federal budget (USA)

The proposed FY 2010 budget in 146pp of detail. This is a narrative take on the budget, not pages and pages of income/outgo numbers.

Take a look. [PDF]

Playmobil Security Check Point

[via a Kelley Eskridge blog post]

Playmobil Security Check Point

Customer reviews take the cake.

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger's shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger's scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said "that's the worst security ever!". But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.

Grey day. Hoping for some rain.





Update: Day didn't turn to rain. Quite the contrary. Sunny with interesting clouds.

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The Tenderloin National Forest

The Tenderloin National Forest

We were at a North Beach Neighbors dinner at Lichee Garden on Powell last night. (Terrific dinner. $28, including tax and tip, for a ten-course dinner. No-host beer and wine, if desired. Fun time was had by all. Interesting conversations. Good food.)

Rigo was with a group at our table at dinner that included Fernando [last name?], from Portugal. Fernando was sitting between Rigo and me and only spoke Portuguese. Although I know Brazilian Portuguese is a far cry from Portuguese, I wished it had been less than fifty years since I last had a conversation in Portuguese. There are not many words I remember.

Talked with Rigo about ONE TREE and TRUTH, two of my favorite Rigo public works, and about what he's up to. Turns out he and Fernando are currently working on a mosaic for the Tenderloin National Forest on Cohen Alley, off Ellis.

(photos of the Tenderloin National Forest from Dave Schumaker on flickr)

I plan to wander by some day soon and see how it's coming along.

It's Not What You Eat, It's How Much

Here's news!

It's Not What You Eat, It's How Much

Calories count.

A lot.

More on the Chron

Reflections of a Newsosaur: SF Chron cost-cut target equals 47% of staff

and the ever hopeful San Francisco Bay Guardian politics blog.

and Debra Saunders, who is ... afraid she might lose her column?

Reading the comments following her column, I think, as ye sow. ...

Saunders has a point with, When a newspaper dies, you don't get a comprehensive periodical to fill the void. You get an informational vacant lot into which passers-by can throw their junk.

Except I don't know that that will happen. I don't know what will happen. The void may attract something entirely different. Someone may cobble together the best of the best coverage into an online entity. Some enterprising sort may create the San Francisco Phoenix print edition and rise from the ashes. Some new UPI/AP entity may suck up all the good print reporters and reportage and act as a clearinghouse.

All I do know is Macy's won't have a clue how to reach their customers with their diamond sales and shoe deals.

More importantly Where will my favorite columnists land?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You know times are bad ...

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Projects - Yuken Teruya Studio

Wonderful papercuts and other works from sustainable materials and everyday objects.

Projects - Yuken Teruya Studio

[via Sour Grapes' shared items in Google Reader]

And don't forget I told you so: Hearst seeks changes at Chronicle

Hearst seeks changes at Chronicle

The Hearst Corp. today announced an effort to reverse the deepening operating losses of its San Francisco Chronicle by seeking near-term cost savings that would include "significant" cuts to both union and non-union staff.

In a posted statement, Hearst said if the savings cannot be accomplished "quickly" the company will seek a buyer, and if none comes forward, it will close the Chronicle.

And don't forget I told you so: By Christmas, the Chron will decide to exist as a Sunday-only print paper -- tabloid format -- with all other news content on the Web.

If that.

Maybe not at all.

The company did not specify the size of the staff reductions or the nature of the other cost-savings measures it has in mind. The company said it will immediately seek discussions with the Northern California Media Workers Guild, Local 39521, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 853, which represent the majority of workers at the Chronicle.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The whole affair is wrapped in mystery.

Was surfing and found a San Francisco history site, with some interesting snippets that could evolve into a story ...

[22 Dec 1857] A dreadful murder and suicide took place at the Red House, near the Race Course. The proprietor, SYLVESTER MURPHY, aged 27, a native of PITTSBURG, PA; murdered a servant named MARY ANN MCGLYNN, aged 23, by shooting her in the head and then cutting her throat; afterwards he took his own life by inflicting with a small knife, eight stabs upon his left breast and also by cutting his own throat. The whole affair is wrapped in mystery.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Field Trip Report (12Feb-19Feb 2009)


Thursday 12 Feb 2009

Up by 3:15A. Super Shuttle pickup at 3:45A for a 6:A departure from SFO.
Arrived O'Hare. Caught GO Shuttle to Fairmont for the 2009 AAAS annual conference, which split meetings between Hyatt Regency (sessions) and Fairmont (plenary talks).

We've been attending AAAS meetings during the long Presidents' Day weekend in February since 2001 when the meeting was held in San Francisco and had dueling plenary talks by Francis Collins (director of the government's National Human Genome Research Institute) and J Craig Ventner (head of privately-held Celera Genomics) announcing the decoding of the human genome.

Also that year was one of the best (and most beautiful) plenary talks I've been to: David Malin's overview of astronomy images from the Anglo-Australian Observatory. Beautiful.

We had such an entertaining time that in 2002, when the meeting was in Boston, we went again. And we've continued going each year as the meeting moved.

# Boston, Massachusetts, February 2008
# San Francisco, California, February 2007
# St. Louis, Missouri, February 2006
# Washington, D.C., February 2005
# Seattle, Washington, February 2004
# Denver, Colorado, February 2003
# Boston, Massachusetts, February 2002
# San Francisco, California, February 2001

Back in the day when I was writing a monthly surfing-the-web column, I could always depend on the AAAS meeting to give me enough batter to cook up several months of columns.

Arriving at the Fairmont, Chicago, Thursday afternoon, we checked into our room and walked over to the Hyatt to pick up our badges and bags and schedules.

(The AAAS Annual Meeting offers a unique, exciting, interdisciplinary blend of more than 150 symposia, plenary and topical lectures, specialized seminars, poster presentations, and Exhibit Hall.)

From 5-6:30P Thursday, we attended the Canadian reception at the Hyatt and schmoozed and noshed and drank wine, then moved over to the Fairmont for the AAAS opening and plenary talk by James T. McCarthy, President of AAAS, followed by more nosh and wine. Wine at the AAAS function was open bar (and $9/glass of wine!), so the amount poured by the tenders was considerably less than what was poured at the Canadian reception.

Friday 13 Feb 2009

Friday... sessions. His nibs' background is in experimental high energy particle physics. Mine is in biology with a chemistry minor. When we look at the sessions (15-25 per time slot) and scratch this one and star that one as we decided which of the multitude available we'll check into and maybe stay with, our choices are amazingly complementary. i.e. He scratches the things I star and vice versa. We do meet up at the noon-time topical lectures sometimes and the evening plenaries, but he'd rather listen to people expound on string theory while I'd rather listen to people talk about the problems of resuscitating dead zones in the Black Sea.

The Friday plenary (Evolutionary biologist Sean B. Carroll on Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species ) was held early, (4:30 - 5:30P). Interesting. Carroll talked of Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Henry Walter Bates, who were all under 25 when they went off exploring into the Amazon jungle, the Malay peninsula and on the Beagle and came back and changed biological science. Wallace, Bates and Darwin and their on-going inter-related histories made for an interesting tale.

Luckily for us we went, because some people left after the talk and we shifted over five seats in our row (third row back, stage left, even with the speaker podium) and wound up within feet of the speaker podium with an uninterrupted view.

We sat around, holding onto our super primo seats, waiting for the 6:30-7:30P talk by ... Al Gore. We were >< that close to him. The ballroom was packed. The bouncers at the door were checking to make sure all the people filing in to find seats had their conference badges showing. The room kept getting fuller and fuller until it was utterly packed and Gore took the stage, thanking everyone for the welcome, thanking the scientists in the audience (by name) who had helped him further his understanding of climate change, thanking the multitudes who were off in another room listening to his talk because they couldn't be seated in the ballroom.

Interesting to see him do his pitch, which we've all heard so much about. I've never seen An Inconvenient Truth, but had heard folks tit for tatting about it. Gore had new slides and a revamped talk, updated things to say about climate change. Turns out a slew of scientists at the meeting, including the Prez, who'd given the plenary the night before, had given him long and lengthy explanations about what was going on that he'd used as a basis for parts of his original talk, and this one.

I knew some folks I knew from elsewhere would be having kittens if they were listening to Gore talk, which made it all the more enjoyable.

Walked over, after Gore finished and left the building, to the Elephant & Castle and had a couple Guinness and steaktips in gravy w/ mashed for dinner.

Saturday 14 Feb 2009

Saturday was another full day of sessions.

From 5:-6:30P we went to the AAAS Awards Ceremony and Reception at the Fairmont and enjoyed delish food (lamb riblets, &c.) and wine after. Then on to the 6:30-7:30P plenary address. Planetary scientist Susan W. Kieffer gave Saturday's address: Celebrating the Earth: Its Past, Our Present, a Future? Kieffer had interesting things to say, but gave her lecture reading from her notes. STOP IT!

One of the things that becomes obvious during AAAS is the difference between having something interesting to say and having an interesting way to say it. Some sessions have talks that are just too mumble mumble boring while others are pepped up and interesting.

Stopped off to see Paul Sereno give his Family Science Day pitch in the exhibit hall on Saturday. He has amazing energy and a way of connecting to young people who come to listen to him talk about hunting down dinosaurs. Compare his stage presence with ... well, we won't go there. Suffice to say that some scientists really really really need media coaching to properly convey the excitement of the stuff they work on.

We returned Saturday night to Elephant & Castle for Valentine's Day dinner. Ah, the romance.

Sunday 15 Feb 2009

After another full day of sessions, Sunday's plenary was A Neanderthal Perspective on Human Origins by evolutionary geneticist Svante Pääbo. Interesting guy. Interesting talk.

We had Sunday dinner at the Fairmont because by this time it was snowing a bit and we had no clue which restaurants might be open on Sundays. We'd been stopping off at a coffee/sandwich place for a morning poppyseed bagel (split, toasted, with cream cheese) and coffee on our way over to the Hyatt and discovered Saturday and Sunday that "our" place was closed so we stopped off at a local small market that sold far-too-sweet-plastic-wrapped-coffee-rolls and coffee.

We didn't want to wander out in the cold and snow Sunday evening and find that the restaurants we might be thinking of going to were closed. Hotel it was. We stopped off in the bar/sushi/casual food venue because we weren't interested in what a hotel might think was a dining experience. The food arrived tepid. Too long under the heat lamps, perhaps. The service was slow. The food was over priced for what you got. The waitress mis-represented the beer she offered as an alternative after she told us they'd run out of the beer we wanted. (Gee, the beer she offered was $3/bottle more than what we'd ordered and she forgot to mention it?!??! Gee ... Odd.)

Other than that ...

Monday 16 Feb 2009

Monday was the wrap up of the conference with the last sessions ending at 12:30P. We'd asked for late checkout Sunday evening, and needed the extra time. We caught a cab to the Metra @ Union Station about 1:15. Ate sandwiches at the station while we waited for the express train that zipped us to Naperville in half an hour or so where Mom picked us up with the grandkids in the car -- even the teenager, who was off school because it was Presidents' Day.

Mom is in a bowling league and rather than spend hours there on Tuesday, when her team/league was playing, we went over to the bowling alley Monday evening so she could bowl three games in lieu, with the alley keeping her scores for the league play.

The teenager, his nibs, myself, the five-year-old and the three-year-old bowled in the alley to the right of Mom's. Our single game took as long as she took to bowl three. The two youngest in our set had to roll the ball with both hands down the alley (bumper guards up of course). We waited patiently each time to see if the ball would even reach the pins. The ball always did, although not at great speed.

The teenager beat me by a point. His nibs came in just a bit behind our scores. Not bad for a couple geezers who hadn't bowled in forever. (I think my last bowling set was about three decades ago.)

Tuesday 17 Feb 2009

Next day the teenager went to school and the geezers and Mom took the younger ones to the Brookfield Zoo for the day to see dolphins and pennipeds and orangutans and such. Came home in time for Mom to head off to her p/t job.

Wednesday 18 Feb 2009

Wednesday, the teenager stayed home from school to spend some quality time with her gparents. (Permission granted by Mom because the teenager's grades showed all As and Bs when checked online.)

Thursday 17 Feb 2009

We got up early in order to spend some time with the teenager before she left to catch the school bus at 7:15A. Three and a half hours later, a shuttle picked us up and drove us to O'Hare to catch our plane home.

A fine time was had by me, and I think by all. More complete notes re sessions and plenaries remain to be straightened out.


Home again. Home again. Riggety jig.

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Ski runs at Mammoth Mountain, half hour or so before arrival at SFO.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sal is off to bed and then off.

Catch you on the B-side.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Creative bday present

Leah Garchik writes in today's Chron that Joe D'Alessandro's staff at the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, where he is CEO, created a Joe D'Allesandro Wikipedia page for him for his bday.

Adds Garchik, "This not only was a nice ego booster; it also differentiated him from Warhol-era sex symbol Joe Dallesandro."

The Past Times Book of Diaries

Feb 10th.

The Ceremony was very imposing, and fine and simple, and I think ought to make an everlasting impression on everyone who promises at the altar to keep what he or she promises. Dearest Albert repeated everything very distinctly. I felts so happy when the ring was put on, and by Albert. As soon as the Service was over, the procession returned as it came, with the exception that my beloved Albert led me out. The applause was very great, in the Colour Court as we came through: Lord Melbourne, good man was very much affected during the Ceremony and at the applause. We all returned to the Throne-room, where the Signing of the Register took place: it was first signed by the Archbishop, then by Albert and me, and all the Royal Family, and by: The Lord Chancellor, the Lord President, the Lord Privy Seal, the Duke of Norfolk (as Earl Marshal), the Archbishop of York, and Lord Melbourne. We then went into the Closet, and the Royal Family waited with me there till the ladies had got into their carriages. I gave all the Train-bearers as a brooch a small eagle of turquoies. I then returned to Buckingham Palace alone with Albert: they cheered us really most warmly and heartily; the crowd was immense; and the Hall at Buckingham Palace was full of people; they cheered us again and again. The great Drawing-room and Throne-room were full of people of rank, and numbers of children were there. Lord Melbourne and Lord Clarendon, who had arrived, stood at the door of the Throne-room as we came in. I went and sat on the sofa in my dressing-room with Albert; and we talked together there from 10 m to 2 till 20m. p. 2.

Queen Victoria, 1840

Etching illustrations of the wedding and the procession accompany the entry.

And thus ends the entry for 10 February.

Just received a pkg in the mail from Auntie K who sent a book bought at the Friends of the Library book sale called THE PAST TIMES BOOK OF DIARIES, which works you through each day of the year with an entry from someone's past diary. One hundred diarists. Four hundred years. Eye witness accounts of history (see 10 Feb) and private entries.

Famous folk (QVic, Katherine Mansfield, Beatrix Potter, Samuel Pepys) and some less famous (to me) folk (Ralph Josselin, Francis Kilvert, F.E. Witts), who may be well-known names to those with more depth than I can claim.

That's what the Goog is for.

Ralph Josselin "was the vicar of Earls Colne in Essex from 1641 until his death in 1683. He is celebrated for his remarkable diary rivalling that of Samuel Pepys which records intimate details of everyday farming life, family and kinship in a small, isolated rural community." [Wikipedia]

Francis Kilvert "is best known as the author of voluminous diaries describing rural life. After his death from peritonitis, his diaries were edited and censored, possibly by his widow." [Wikipedia]

F.E. Witts, author of The diary of a Cotswold parson : Reverend F.E. Witts, 1783-1854. [WorldCat] [no Wikipedia entry. Shocking! I know!]

Thanks, Auntie K!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Friday, February 06, 2009

Just outside the office window*

I hadn't realized what a production nest building was.

Our new neighbors -- two doves -- started in another spot, a little lower to the ground, a little more exposed to the neighbor's Siamese cats. They decided after several days of nest building that their chosen spot wasn't a good place, so they started over again. The new spot is higher and more protected, and they've carefully dismantled the partially-built nest and incorporated it into the new one.

I watch one of them (the guy? probably) down in the dirt finding twigs and grasses. He picks one up. No, not good. Tosses it away. Picks another. No. Finally he gets a bundle of twigs and grasses together and takes them up to the nest. The other dove arranges them and tucks in the edges and fusses while the first one goes back down to see what else there is that might work.

Lovely. Really sweet.

Our cat sits at the edge of his nibs' desk next to the window and watches the doves. She moans and clatters her teeth. So near! So unobtainable!

The doves survived the rain that hit us overnight and this morning, even though the nest is far more exposed than it will be in a month or so when the fig tree is thick with leaves. I'd been worried the rain would drive them off, but they're still here.

I sit at my desk, working, with their susurrant cooing as background noise.

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* a mashup of several Facebook posts and comments

The sun adding shadows to the rain clouds

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And then, a while later, a couple tugs pull a decommissioned vessel south ... to dry dock? to repair? to ???

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bakers make cake with image of flash drive instead of image in flash drive - Boing Boing

Bakers make cake with image of flash drive instead of image in flash drive - Boing Boing

Oh, dear.

Not realizing that the flash drive had the image wanted for the cake, the bakers made the cake with an image of the flash drive.


Pretty cute, though. Bet the cake was a hit.

[via 'sted]

20 Worst Foods of 2009 - 1. The Worst Food in America of 2009

20 Worst Foods of 2009 - 1. The Worst Food in America of 2009 (from Men's Health)

Baskin Robbins Large Chocolate Oreo Shake
2,600 calories
135 g fat (59 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fats)
263 g sugars
1,700 mg sodium

We didn't think anything could be worse than Baskin Robbins' 2008 bombshell, the Heath Bar Shake. After all, it had more sugar (266 grams) than 20 bowls of Froot Loops, more calories (2,310) than 11 actual Heath Bars, and more ingredients (73) than you'll find in most chemist labs.

Rather than coming to their senses and removing it from the menu, they did themselves one worse and introduced this caloric catastrophe. It's soiled with more than a day's worth of calories and three days worth of saturated fat, and, worst of all, usually takes less than 10 minutes to sip through a straw.

The Men's Health article has twenty of the worst foods in America: worst salad, worst breakfast, worst burger, &c. (Hard to navigate, but interesting. ...)

[via Sour Grapes' Google Reader]

An Open Letter to Amy Dickinson by Margo Howard

An Open Letter to Amy Dickinson by Margo Howard


In short, when the Tribune hired and syndicated you, that made you their new advice columnist, period. You are no more "the new Ann Landers" than Carolyn Hax, Dan Savage or any of the dozens of advice columnists who were bought by newspapers to fill the space previously occupied by my mother.

By law, the only person who would have been able to become "the new Ann Landers" was me. And that was nothing I chose to do. You see, dear, even I knew that there could only be one Ann Landers.

Sure. Whatevs.

That's why Dear Margo®'s column always finishes off with Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter.

Not that Margo Howard would ever even consider trying to be the new Ann Landers.

35 Examples Of Beautiful City Photography

35 Examples Of Beautiful City Photography from Smashing Magazine.

Some are far better than others. Some are stunning.

Click through the photographer link for a given photo and find more photographs by the same person.

e.g. Giuseppe Finocchiaro's photo of Oia, Santorini.

[via Gerard Vlemmings at the Presurfer]

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Michael Bierut - 26 Years, 85 Notebooks

On August 12, 1982, I took a 10 x 7 1/8 inch National Blank Book Company composition book from the supply closet of my then employer, Vignelli Associates. From that moment, I have never been without one. I always have one at my desk. I take one with me to every meeting. I am now in the middle of Notebook #85. It's in front of me right now. Together, these well-worn books create a history of my working life that spans three decades.

I tend to be obsessive-compulsive, and I am very picky about the notebooks. No fancy Moleskines for me, just standard-issue office supply composition books.

I use them in order. Tibor Kalman once asked me why I didn't have a different notebook for every project. I have to admit, this would be more useful. But I don't. I fill each one up and then move to the next one, the projects all jumbled together. Starting with the third one, every one of them is numbered. Except for two at the very beginning that used gridded paper, they have blank, unlined pages. I hate gridded paper (but not as much as lined paper.) There have been times when it's been really difficult to get unlined composition books, which I gather are oddly unpopular. One time I found a supplier who would only sell them in bulk and I bought a whole boxful. I thought these would last the rest of my life, but I gave a lot away, which I regret. Now they're gone.

... continues

His nibs gives me grief because I'm enamored with blank notebooks. I'll be in a bookstore or stationery store and go missing and he'll find me looking at the stacks of blank notebooks of various sorts. When we moved from the bucolic village to the fair ville I gave loads of the simple composition books that Bierut describes away to an outfit that stocks supplies for teachers. My stash is growing again because there is something about blank books that calls to me.

I've started an exercise similar to (although not as arty as) Michael Bierut's. I wish I'd started decades ago. I'm on my second book and continuing forward.

My notebook of choice these days fits into my back pocket and goes on walks with me and sits beside me as I read. I also have a composition book that captures to-do lists and other bits and pieces I want to hang on to.

My inspiration for starting the exercise was a guy named Paul Madonna, who fills notebooks with his sketches and drawings and notes. He has a passel of them on the shelf in his studio (not 85 yet) and flips back in them when he's looking for information or inspiration. His conscientiousness about maintaining the notebooks and adding content struck me as a "good" thing.

Notebooks are a "good" thing.

DesignObserver - an interesting read
Paul Madonna's site

Justice Rehires Attorney Fired Amid Gay Rumor : NPR

Justice Rehires Attorney Fired Amid Gay Rumor : NPR

This should never have happened. That she's been rehired is a good thing, but for pete's sake, how can anyone justify this to begin with?

Off with their heads! May the people responsible be ineligible for another legal position for the rest of their lives! How dare they mess with this attorney's life like this?

Monday, February 02, 2009

An Extraordinary Home. Single Family located at 601 Dolores Street, Mission Dolores, San Francisco, California

An Extraordinary Home. Single Family located at 601 Dolores Street, Mission Dolores, San Francisco

1910. Former church. Now SFH. Check out the photo gallery. What parties I could have! I'd have room for all my books and more! Seismic retrofit. No longer on the City's Unreinforced Masonry Building list.

Formerly the Golden Gate Lutheran Church, this stunning Gothic Revival style building is now one of the most extraordinary and largest single family homes in San Francisco. This one-of-a-kind property features an enormous living area that includes the original sanctuary with soaring, coffered and hand-painted ceilings, arched windows framing Dolores Park as well as most of the original stained glass windows, custom mahogany wood finishes, four wood-burning fireplaces, a new chef's kitchen and a spacious dining room. The Master suite level features a marble Roman tub room, dressing room and incredible 360 degree views from the tower meditation room and deck. The home includes an expansive ground floor level that could be used as exhibition space, recording studio, gym and/or home office. There is also a garage that accommodates 4-6 cars.

Room for my books!

Be still my heart.

This is why every once in a blue moon I buy a Lotto ticket.

Oh, my. ...

$9,950,000 but I betcha they'd take $9m if I were paying cash.

Update: Looking at what he paid for it less than two years ago, back when it was a church. Yes, granted he did the transformation to SFH, reinforced the masonry and added all sorts of stuff, still ...

Mormons donated more to California's Prop. 8 campaign than they'd previously copped to

Mormon church reports $190,000 Prop. 8 expenses.

Mormon church officials, facing an ongoing investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Friday reported nearly $190,000 in previously unlisted assistance to the successful campaign for Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

Now there's a huge surprise.

Up until Friday, the Mormon church had denied any direct financial support for the campaign beyond a reported $2,078 spent for bringing church Elder L. Whitney Clayton to California.

Church officials complained that Karger's complaint was full of errors and that the church had "fully complied" with California law.

The report filed Friday contained few details about how the money was spent.


While the deadline for the report, which covers the period from July 1 to Dec. 31, is Monday, many campaign contributions by major donors and independent committees must be reported within days after they're made.

The final reports are due today, because U.S. District Judge Morrison England late last week refused to exempt the yes-on-8 campaign from making their filings today.

If the Prop. 8 campaign was exempted from disclosure because of reports of harassments of individual donors, said Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini, the same case could be made for any controversial initiative. Courts would have to "keep the entire California electorate in the dark as to who was funding these ballot measures," he said.

England agreed.

He noted that some of the reprisals reported by the Prop. 8 committee involve legal activities such as boycotts and picketing. Other alleged actions, such as death threats, mailings of white powder and vandalism, may constitute "repugnant and despicable acts" but can be reported to law enforcement, the judge said.

Even if there have been illegal reprisals, that would be insufficient reason to grant a wholesale exemption for a multimillion-dollar initiative campaign, England said. He also rejected the Prop. 8 campaign's argument that the $100 disclosure limit established in 1974 should be increased for inflation, saying some states require reports of contributions as low as $25 and the Supreme Court has never invalidated them.

[ref:Prop. 8 campaign can't hide donors' names]

Interesting to see what comes out today that the yes-on-8 campaign was so anxious not to have come out.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Citizen Chain, North Beach

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Citizen Chain on the corner of Powell and Chestnut

The Phrontistery: Obscure Words and Vocabulary Resources

The Phrontistery: Obscure Words and Vocabulary Resources

I did one of those "Twenty Five Things" sorts of things over on Facebook. On that list were four items pertaining to Webbie things:

16. I collect quotations and factoids and bits of sparkly info and stash them away and then can't find them when I want them.

17. I do the same with Web bookmarks and then discover that a site I just discovered is one whose bookmark I'd stashed away nineteen months ago. Too many pretties?

18. I no longer cut recipes out from newspapers and magazines (much...) because things of that sort are all on the Web, or a decent substitute is.

19. I worry (seriously) that one day the Web won't be there and I'll be lost and archive-less because I've given all my stuff away and grown dependent on the Web as resource. And then where would I be?

What does that have to do with Phrontistery?

I came across Phrontistery today (AFTER I put together the Facebook note) and thought, oh, cool. Wordstuff stuff. I loves Wordstuff stuffs.

I clicked my Delicious click to bookmark the site ... and found that I saved it 06 Jun 2007 ... which is just under twenty months ago.


If you like Wordstuff, though. Go there.

Since 1996, I have compiled word lists in order to spread the joy of the English language. Here, you will find the International House of Logorrhea (an online dictionary of obscure and rare words), the Compendium of Lost Words (a compilation of ultra-rare forgotten words), and many other glossaries, word lists, essays, and other language and etymology resources.

Warren Ellis -- War Haunted

Warren Ellis -- War Haunted

Warren Ellis writes: These are, I’m told, the work of one Sergei Larenkov, and they are wonderful. He’s reshot WW2-era photographs in the present day, from their original perspectives, and then faded the original in.

Ellis tells you a bit about the images (and shows some).

The photos are 'shopped photos taken during the Siege of Leningrad mashed up with the identical scene from modern St. Petersburg. The edges of buildings and trims and fences match up. Marvelous dissonance.

See more.

[via Sour Grapes' Google Reader]