: views from the Hill

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New cranes

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New cranes showed up in our vista a few days back.

We can only see a bit of what is happening on the eastern span. I'm assuming these new cranes are needed to lift the roadbeds into place for the temporary span that will be used while the permanent span is built, but ? who knows?

Is this the crane we're seeing?

Back to the past ...

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Reliving sixth grade, age 10. One of my class projects required a pyrographed report cover.

I decided a while back our sign-less (and dead-end, needless to say) path needed some signage, especially with the gang event scheduled for tomorrow.

Scrap plywood. Wood burner. Olde English staining polish. Bob's your uncle.

(Now to figure out a way to get the sign to stay up in the planters for at least the duration of the get-together.)

Sure to be a hit with ALL the neighbors. Heh.

[Update: Turns out one of the neighbors really likes the sign and asked if I'd mind if he screwed it into the wood retaining wall at the end of the path. He didn't want to appropriate my private property without my permission, he said. Gee. He likes it! Go right ahead, I told him.]

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sun setting on TI & Berkeley

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Two grooms

Found this in the Papyrus stationery store @ 243 Montgomery while I was walking down to the SPUR Urban Center opening yesterday afternoon.

Soon. ...
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The continuing saga of North Beach Library

[prior screeds]

Had a heads-up from Friends of Joe DiMaggio Playground mid-May:

Dear Friends of Joe D:

The next step toward civic improvement in North Beach is to say:

"Yes, I support the Library Commission and the Recreation and Park
Commission in unanimously approving the North Beach Library / Joe
DiMaggio Playground Master Plan, including the relocation of the North
Beach Library to 701 Lombard Street, including the closure and
greening of Mason Street. Completing this project will provide a
much needed new library, greater green space, and improved parkland
that is more accessible to all North Beach residents!"

Please show your support for the new library and future playground
improvements by writing to:

Bill Wycko, Environmental Review
Officer, San Francisco Planning Department
1650 Mission Street, Suite 400,
San Francisco, CA 94103


With clicks and links to this and that. ...

So, I wrote a letter. Sent it off a bit after noon today with a copy to David Chiu (President, Board of Supervisors, and also our very own District 3 Supervisor) and Luis Herrera (City Librarian).

I'd talked with David Chiu at the SPUR Urban Center opening event yesterday afternoon and told him to expect a copy of what I was sending to the City.

Mr. Wycko,

A note from Friends of Joe DiMaggio Playground (FJDiMP) asked me to send you a note beginning, "Yes, I support the Library Commission and the Recreation and Park Commission in unanimously approving the North Beach Library / Joe DiMaggio Playground Master Plan, including the relocation of the North Beach Library to 701 Lombard Street, including the closure and greening of Mason Street."

Although I am a member of the Friends group, I support neither the placement of the new library at 701 Lombard nor the closure of the segment of Mason Street that's being asked for to facilitate the 701 Lombard location.

My concerns:

1) re closing Mason
I have suggested in the past, and continue to suggest: (from e-mail to SFPL Commission, dated 28 Aug 2008) "The City should temporarily close the [Mason] street segment for [at least] a month and see what =really= happens to the traffic patterns. Such closure would ease the minds of the neighbors, if the traffic patterns flow as the models suggest, but could put the kibosh on the idea of closing Mason if the traffic patterns change as neighbors anticipate.

"While the K-rails blocking Mason are up, label them:

Temporary closure of Mason.
Permanent closure is proposed as part of
plans to build the new North Beach Library
on the Triangle.

"In addition to the temporary closure and signage, story poles need to be erected on the Triangle, showing the outline of the new library so that neighbors can see the impact of putting the library there."

There is considerable controversy over what effect closing Mason would have. A temporary closure would help address those issues.

2) re placing the North Beach Library on the Triangle
Luis Herrera (in an e-mail 03-Sep-2008) stated, the Triangle location, "meets our service program requirements, including additional book and materials capacity of up to 15%."

"up to 15%" in collection expansion? The North Beach library collection has been undersized for decades. "up to 15%" expansion is far less than the community needs or expects from a new library.

Currently the NBE circulation stats show ~ 6.4 turns per collection item per year. (Circ: 250K Collection: 39K items) That figure is 26% higher than the branch library =average= for SFPL, which shows 5.08 turns/item/year. (Branch circ: 6116K Branch collection: 1203K)

Currently the NBE circulation stats show 9.26 checkouts/capita/yr. (Circ: 250K Popn served: 27K) The City's average for all branches is 7.42/capita/yr. (Circ: 6116K Popn served: 824K) The State's average for public libraries is 5.78/capita/yr.

The North Beach library and its collection are heavily used. A potential incremental 10-15% collection growth over the life of the building is not enough from the get-go.

My major issue with the Triangle location is that if we ever need/want to expand the library, there will be NOWHERE to expand. Any further expansion beyond what is already planned (onto Mason, assuming Mason can be closed in part to make way for the new library) will be impossible without rerouting all utilities that currently run underneath that segment of Mason. Hardscape and landscape are suitable on top of a closed Mason, but structures cannot cover the utilities because of access issues.

While you are considering the impacts of closing Mason, could you also investigate the costs (financial and environmental) of re-routing the utilities under Mason when the library needs to expand onto that area in the future? Is re-routing even possible?

3) re alternatives to the Triangle and closing Mason. Environmental impacts?
I asked Luis Herrera in an e-mail dated 03-Sep-2008: "Was any thought given to blocking Greenwich at Columbus for added space for expansion? Blocking Greenwich would raise far less outcry than blocking Mason as there is an island in the middle of Columbus at that point preventing Greenwich-west drivers from turning left onto Columbus or proceeding through onto the western end of Greenwich, and vice versa.

"The last garage access off Greenwich between Powell and Columbus is at ~735 Greenwich, which leaves a major chunk of that roadway with no current requirement for vehicle traffic access. Are there issues with what lies under Greenwich similar to the issues with Mason?"

Luis Herrera replied, "The closure of Greenwich at Columbus was not discussed as that location would also provide for the proposed size to the programmatic needs."

As part of the environmental impacts investigation, the City should investigate the environmental impact of closing Greenwich as an alternative to closing Mason. The new library could be placed where the tot lot currently is and expand onto Greenwich as far as any underground utility issues allow. This would address some of the issues that some FJDiMP members have regarding loss of a tennis court and location of the tot lot. The tot lot would be relocated elsewhere, perhaps to where the library currently is, adjacent to the bocce courts.

Which road closure (Greenwich or Mason) has less impact?

Thank you for your time.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The government plans to demolish and rebuild 85 percent of Kashgar’s Old City..

SJ Rozan posted a link to a NYTimes news story on Facebook.

To Protect an Ancient City, China Moves to Raze It - NYTimes.com

Saying it fears earthquake damage, the government plans to demolish and rebuild 85 percent of Kashgar’s Old City.

Discussion continues on SJ Rozan's Facebook as to whether this urban renewal in Kashgar has anything to do with earthquakes or perhaps something to do with the Chinese central government's take on the local Uighur Muslim population.

No, it couldn't be anything like that. Why look at this signage at Kashgar's Idkha Mosque, the largest mosque in China:

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All of it shows fully that Chinese government always pays special attentions to the another and historical cultures of the ethnic groups, and that all ethnic groups warmly welcome Part's (sic) religious policy. It also shows that different ethnic groups have set up a close relationship of equality, unity and helps to each other, and freedom of beliefs is protected. All ethnic groups live friendly together here. They cooperate to build a beautiful homeland, support heartily the unity of different ethnic groups and the unity of our country, and oppose the ethnic separatism and illegal religious activities.

Cheyney (Laughing Planet) weighs in ... Well worth the read.

A few of my photos of Kashgar Old City (October 2006 trip through Xinjiang province and over the Karakoram highway into the Hunza Valley in Pakistan)

This is the stairway up to the second floor living quarters in this building.

A wood carver's stash.

Rug shop.

Hardware store.


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Did the Chinese government ask if these folks wanted their homes razed? "For their own good" Why does that remind me of Tibet?

Remembrance of things past

A taste can do it. Proust had his madeleines. Lilikoi/passion fruit takes me straight back to breakfast in Brazil. The cook would pick fresh fruit off the vines on the back fence and make our breakfast juice. My early grade-school self is still angling for a bit more juice.

A scent can do it. I use punks as incense sticks because the scent of punks takes me back to long ago July 4th fireworks. His nibs bought me two boxloads of punks for Christmas a decade or so ago. He could only buy in bulk. I'm set for life.

I was pulled back to sixth grade yesterday when, for the first time in nearly a century (slight exaggeration, but only slight ...), I was wood-burning or, as the swanky like to call it, doing "pyrography."

We're having a party here Sunday and our little path off the Filbert Steps has no signage. Had some wood. Couldn't find the old woodburner in several searches of boxes of stuff, but Amazon came through and for <$20 delivered a new woodburning kit a couple days back. Now I'm in the process of making a street sign soze no one will walk past the turn off the steps.

Yesterday I was fiddling with nibs and brands, heating, cooling, covering up errors with more burning. The smell of the smoking wood reminded me of country reports we wrote back in sixth grade -- hand-written on binder paper (no computers avec printers in those days) and "bound" in wooden covers. We burnt designs onto our covers, stained them, sealed them. We cut off a two-inch or so piece from the left edge. Drilled three holes in the two-inch edge and used leather laces to hold the pages. Added brass hinges to attach the edge to the rest of the cover. Voila! a hinged cover!

My report was on Argentina and the Pampas and the gauchos and Buenos Aires and the Patagonia. No mention of Malbec. The design I burnt on the report cover was a map of Argentina. I don't know whatever happened to that report.

Gee ... over forty-five years ago now. But the smoky scent yesterday took me straight back. (And I woke up this morning with a scratchy throat. When I continue on with my wee project, I will make sure I sit up-breeze from the smoke.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

C’mon, get happy: Experts say you can

Back in February, Greg Morago wrote an article for the Houston Chronicle titled, C’mon, get happy: Experts say you can.

At the time I noted in the book I keep in my back pocket, lefthand side: "hedonic adaptation"

I'd forgotten all about it until I was thumbing through the book this afternoon, looking up word references I'd forgotten, killing time.

"hedonic adaptation" -- an interesting idea.

There's a phenomenon called hedonic adaptation. It basically means that people adapt and get used to things, she [Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at UCRiverside] said. Let's say you suddenly have less spending power. You feel less wealthy because you have less money in the bank. That's going to make you unhappy. What happens is that you get used to that. Our daily life is not determined by the size of our savings account. We'll adapt to almost everything.

In a similar way, people who have extraordinary fortune, win the lottery, get that high six-figure job, become accustomed to their new circumstances and instead of feeling euphoric about their change in lifestyle, soon discover life's the same old same old.

Hedonic adaptation is a good thing when your circumstances take a tumble. You don't, after all, want to be moping around forever because you had to turn in your Mercedes for a used Honda.

But, if you have had extraordinary good things happen to you, stop every once in a bit and reflect on them. Remember how lucky you are. Remember what a good life you lead. Don't let hedonic adaptation pull you down until your extraordinary life becomes just ordinary and you get the mopes because the sparkle's gone out of your life.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day weekend in Paso Robles

We were down for a long weekend on a fairly HUGE piece of dirt that friends own outside Paso Robles, on the west side, in the hills, before you get to the ocean and San Simeon/Cambria.

This was their tenth annual Memorial Day weekend but ... for whatever reasons ... we've never been before. (Last year we had something happening, the year before ...)

We came this past weekend, bringing with us a charming teenager who lives in our fair ville, who needed a lift down to the party (unless someone from down in Paso was willing to drive four hours up to our fair ville and four hours back down with her.. and they would've been, but we promised to bring her with us).

The three of us arrived, after a four-hour drive, in time for chile verde and/or buffalo stew burritos on Friday night. We left after helping to pack up the tables and chairs and sundry furniture and stowing them in the workshop/barn on Monday morning.


These folks invite a lot of people. (More than fifty. Less than one hundred.)

Some arrive Friday. Some leave Monday. Few are there for the duration. Some bring some pretty hefty trailer-type vehicles. (HUGE! some of them) Some bring vehicles the youngsters can chew up road with. (Wear your helmet!)

Folks bring their dogs, ranging from petite chihuaha-type dogs to WOLF HOUNDS THAT WILL EAT YOU FOR LUNCH. Watching the social dynamics of the dog pack was an on-going entertainment.

Some guests stay with other party-attenders. Some go over to Cambria or San Simeon to grab a place to stay. Some come in from Paso -- those who are relatives or high school chums. Most stay in tents, pitched on the grounds around the main house.

We were lucky (being the first to ask) to stay in the bunk house, with a bathroom and shower and EVERYTHING. (Plus the cabin is well-insulated so even when the evening temperatures dropped we were fine. We spread out sleeping bags on the futon ...)

First thing in the morning, our host started a huge pot of coffee. From there the day progressed through food. more food. visit to the farmers' market in Templeton. food. more food. drinks. drinks. more food. food. more drinks. dessert. drinks. And talk talk talk talk.

The guys cook. And others too. Burritos on Friday night. Salmon and pork ribs on Saturday night. Chicken on Sunday night. Sundry other stuff. Steam shovel vegetables. Desserts up the wahzoo. Salads. Hors d'oeuvres. Garlic bread. Caprese.



We also checked out the home of a close friend of our hostess (and work-related compadre of his nibs) on Sunday. His nibs had heard so much about the place while it was in the building phase and we were dead curious. Their home was less than five miles as the crow flies from Party Central, but almost fifteen miles by (sometimes dirt) road.

The house was not large, but the siting. ...

Oh. My. The. Views. (¡Mira los robles!)

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A good weekend was had by us. A really good weekend. Nice people. Good food. Interesting guests. Bouncy dogs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dept. of Science: Don’t!

Dept. of Science: Don’t! -- Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

The 18May2009 issue of The New Yorker has a loooong article by Jonah Lehrer that begins with Walter Mischel's 1960s research at the Bing Nursery School on the Stanford campus (AKA "the marshmallow experiment") and other research along similar lines.

The questions researchers and others are asking are, is the ability to delay gratification a far better predictor of academic performance and adult "success" than I.Q.? Is the ability to delay gratification a genetic trait? Will brain scans show gratification delayers' brains function differently than instant gratifiers' brains? Can one be trained to be more future-oriented and less into instant gratification? Would this help children struggling with school?

Interesting article.

Jonah Lehrer weaves his words well. These two sentences are part of Lehrer's description of Walter Mischel:

Mischel was born in Vienna, in 1930. His father was a modestly successful businessman with a fondness for café society and Esperanto, while his mother spent many of her days lying on the couch with an ice pack on her forehead, trying to soothe her frail nerves

How much is packed into those few words!

More views from the hill ... Sun is ...


Going ...


Going ...


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Autograph fraudster poses as Capote, Vonnegut, Crichton

Autograph fraudster poses as Capote, Vonnegut, Crichton | Philadelphia Daily News | 05/19/2009

Man who forged autographs in books (for resale) pleads guilty.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Questions for Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker's Fiction Editor

Questions for Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker's Fiction Editor [15 Dec 2008]

For the past five years or so, anywhere from a fifth to a quarter of the stories published in the magazine have been by writers who hadn't previously published fiction in The New Yorker. Some had been published elsewhere already; some hadn't.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An explanation as I see it of the Twitter @reply problem

For those who don't know (and if you aren't Twitter users, why should you? And if you are Twitter users but don't care, why should you?), Twitter changed their way of handling @ replies a day or so ago and all Hell broke loose in the Twitterverse.

[What follows may seem gibberish to those who don't use Twitter]

RT @parislemon Twitter: The Dog Ate Our Homework http://tcrn.ch/1xr [Biz explains @ replies change]

Someone who reads my Twitterfeed read the post above and wrote
I still don't get it. ...

My reply:

Imagine you can turn on/off whether you'll see the @replies of someone you =do= follow to someone whose Twitterfeed you =don't= follow.

If your switch is OFF and I @reply to my brother, you'd never know. However, some people (3% of the Twitterverse we're told) like to see @replies even if they don't know the person the @reply is directed to because ... well, because they get curious and go check that person's Twitterfeed and find new interesting people. (Sometimes....)

Twitter designed their software so that each time someone made an @reply, Twitter was spinning through their followers list to see which followers wanted to see @replies for people they didn't already follow, so they could show them the @reply.

That's fine for thee and me, but imagine what happened when Ashton Kutcher made an @reply. Twitter was spinning through each of his million + followers to see who wanted to see the @reply.

Ooopsie! Fail whale!...

Bad design. Badbadbadbad.

so, is it fixed?

Not fixed. Will never be fixed. Can't be fixed, actually, because the underlying design is flawed.

If their design is such that they have to loop through a linked list of all the folks who follow TwittererA to decide who does and who doesn't get notified of an @reply, they have something that just can't be scaled to an Ashton Kutcher level.

Right now it sounds like Twitter is trying to come up with something else that will give some of the functionality the upset cohort is upset about losing.

They've already implemented a simple partial fix. If a person is posting an @reply but not using the [reply] button to do so (i.e. they're typing @username rather than clicking the [reply] button) the @post will go to all the Twitterer's followers. Maybe that will be serendipitous enough.

Maybe not.

Sounds like whoever designed the @reply part of the code never imagined there'd be multiple users with over a million followers. "In your dreams, guys." Well, some times dreams come true.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A not-so-typical Sunday

The traditional brunch scheduled for last Sunday was re-scheduled, so we found ourselves with an unexpected free day on the calendar.

After checking the clock several times to make sure we timed it right, we used our Ukraine-specific calling card to call the younger younger guy, who'd requested a Mother's Day call. Later, I talked with the older younger guy. Happy Mother's Day to me.

A bit after lunch, we headed down the hill to the Ferry Building for bread at Acme. After scoring our sour bâtard, his nibs took me out for a delish Mother's Day brunch at Butterfly on the waterfront. I watched the Bay: he watched the family dynamics of the Mother's Day celebrants in the restaurant.

Our meal started with a small platter of four amuse-bouches for each of us: a Bloody Mary oyster shooter, salmon and strawberry salad roll, tuna poke tartar, and -- my favorite -- Rob Lam's outstanding meatball of Kobe beef wrapped around a bit of foie gras and then cooked until the outside is crispy. (We'd had these meatballs at a wine tasting event at Butterfly a while back ... memorable. Hot. Crispy. Rich. Ymmmm.)

The amuse-bouches were followed by a choice of first courses. From four or so we chose two different items -- a rich, creamy shrimp bisque in puff pastry with white truffle oil, minced chives =and= spicy green papaya and mango salad with Vietnamese carmelized shrimp. We swopped halfway through.

Next, we had a choice of main courses -- again, four or so ... we both chose the Eggs Benedict three ways: traditional, w/ crab, and w/ wild mushroom. And, finally, a dessert plate from the chef. (We boxed up the non-melting portions for later consumption.)

On our way home (after opting to head straight up the stairs rather than go roundabout with the 39bus up to Coit Tower and walk down), we stopped off at a neighbor-on-the-steps' everything-must-go sale. She's headed off to Fiji with the Peace Corps and off-loading as much as possible.

We were so thoroughly full that even the walk down to the Ferry Building for bread (0.9mi), over to Butterfly for brunch (1mi), and back up the hill (0.5mi), didn't wear off enough calories. We both went to bed later Sunday night without our supper (and without having a single regret that we'd missed a meal).

A lovely day it was. ... extended by the package that arrived from our PCV (sent from Berkeley) this morning.

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The Blogging world slows down ...

I kick-started Bloglines this afternoon to see which of the bloggers I follow had new bits to read since the last time I kick-started the app (a week or so ago) and ...

Sara Zarr had two posts.
Zen had one, and that was a photo.
Arleen had six, one quite long, but four posts were simply daily collections of her Twitterposts.
Nikki (Nicole J. LeBoeuf: actually writing blog) had one (and that was her first post since 05 April).
Don had two, and one of those was a pano shot from the top of my hill. (Thx, Don!)
Heather had two. (One of them quite long.) And she'd posted six entries on her micro blog. Yay, Heather! Not bad for the mother of an almost-six-year-old and a new-born.
Ms Paula had six, but then she's way conscientious about keeping her blogger peeps amused.
Alan had naught.

... and so on and forth.

What is going on?

Well, for them I can't answer, but for me, I've been posting short things on Twitter and re-tweeting interesting short things I find there. Anyone can read the Twitterfeed (check it out!).

A Twitter app automagically copies what I post there over to my Facebook presence.

On Facebook, I post a bit longer stuff and stuff that I'd rather keep out of Twitter. (Photos of the wee gifty the youngest sent me for Mother's Day, f'rex.)

I've been hanging out on Facebook and Twitter because they are an easy way for me to follow the antics of certain folks, post inane comments about their passions and their lives, and pick up nifty bits of fact all while I'm doing the same. More seamlessly. Less back and forthing. Less disconnection.

The blog is becoming more of a collection of longish thoughts and prettyish photos. The short 'n sweet links will probably end up on Twitter for the most part.

Make sense?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tuesday Flower and Plant Market in La Grand'Place, Brussels

The Web cam at La Grand'Place, Brussels has been a favorite since I found it years and years and years ago.

These days the camera only shoots from one end of the plaza (instead of two, when I first found it) and you can only view it (or =I= can only view it) with IE.

Luckily, I have a little app with my Firefox that swaps back and forth between FF and IE. I use that app to be a voyeur on the La Grand'Place.

Right now it's a bit after midnight in San Francisco.

It's drizzly in Brussels. I'm watching the setup for the Tuesday Flower and Plant Market in La Grand'Place.

Such a voyeur I be. Come watch with me.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Photos earlier today

We have another visitor down at P29 -- not as big a ship as the cruise ship earlier this week. This is the Golden Bear, belonging to the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo.

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(For Don's benefit, note the fog covering Treasure Island and Berkeley beyond ...)

A lovely sight -- watching the fog ebb and flow across Treasure Island and Yerba Buena.

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And then ebb. Flow. Back again.

It's dark out now and we don't see the fog. We only see the lights on the islands get blotted out and then come back into view. Yerba Buena is almost clear now.

For a while. ...

(n.b. The planes from SFO are taking off to the north. Our short flurry of rains is over for the nonce.)

Microwaving a cellphone (better than Peeps!)

Anna Quindlen Steps Aside

AnnaQ is a month and four days older than I am, another water dragon. The 18 May 2009 issue of Newsweek Magazine contains her resignation from her gig writing LAST WORD, which she's had for the last nine years.

THE LAST WORD - Anna Quindlen (18 May 2009 issue of Newsweek)

This page, this place, is an invaluable opportunity to shed some light. But if I had any lingering doubts about giving it up after almost nine years, they were quelled by those binders on my desk, full of exemplary work by reporters young enough to be my children. Flipping through their pages, reading such essential and beautifully rendered accounts of life in America and around the world, I felt certain of the future of the news business in some form or another. But between the lines I read another message, delivered without rancor or contempt, the same one I once heard from my own son: It's our turn. Step aside. And now I will.

Boy, am I feeling like a dinosaur.

Friday, May 01, 2009

A visit from Carnival Splendor

[Blogger wasn't FTPing nicely this afternoon so this post was delayed. ...]

Carl Nolte writes, Flu outbreak diverts Mexico's cruises to S.F.

The Mariner of the Seas (>1K' long -- displaces 137,276 tons) berthed early this morning at Pier 35.

<PALIN> We can see it from our bedroom window! </PALIN>

(yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that was SNL and not Palin.)

Just now, [well, sometime after lunch] the Carnival Splendor (952') came into Pier 29 and I took a mess of photographs. Together the two ships have ~ 6800 passengers aboard.

I feel kind of :-((( for the passengers because the weather was grey and drippy today. Rainy a bit and then not a bit and then rainy again. MUCH chillier than the folks on the cruise (who had signed up for Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco, &c.) were dressed for. We thought, boy, those folks down by the wharf are probably upping the prices on their fleece jackets and umbrellas.

Seems we'll have more of the same (cruise ships, that is) for a while now. ...

I imagine Butterfly restaurant down at Pier 33 is not the place to go for lunch. Not that we had any plans to do so. We have [had] a Cinco party down at Mercedes - Hair of the Dog Cantina starting at 6p.

[The Cinco was terrific. We walked down (con paraguas), stopping off at the bank to drop off a rent check. Got to the cantina a bit early. No prob. Met some new folks, old friends. Mariachis out front. Folks who weren't invited to the par-tay were sitting on the benches in the alley enjoying. Music (after the mariachis were done) by Carlos Godinez and his sidemen. We were seated RIGHT THERE. (Literally. We chatted across to them between songs.) Godinez played some Jobim, which made me happy.(Jobim? Cinco music? No, not really, but made me happy.) The spread was terrif. (Munchies followed by buffet. All you can drink vino blanco o rojo, margaritas o Dos Equis o whatever you wish.) I heartily endorse Mercedes - Hair of the Dog Cantina. Owner/staff were swell. We had a good time.]

(and then hoofed it home -- sin paraguas ... ~2mi total RT)

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We got home to find the cruise ship nestled, all snug in its berth ...

The Mariner of the Seas leaves in a half hour or so, but I think the Carnival ship won't leave until morning. ...

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