: views from the Hill

Thursday, June 18, 2009

So much for PETA

PETA's not happy that Obama squished a fly. Oh, well.

To make PETA even unhappier, I will tell the following "slice of Sal's life" tale.

His nibs just opened the door down on the first level and shooed a pretty little skipper butterfly (who'd wandered in because I had the doors open this afternoon) out the door to freedom.

Within seconds a bird swooped down and had the skipper for dinner. The bird is now hanging about waiting for his nibs to flush more game in its direction.

Notify PETA.

Yosemite. 01-Nov-2006

I was thumbing through pictures taken during a long weekend at Yosemite in late October, early November 2006. The valley was so peaceful and lovely. The deciduous trees had turned. The hikes up toward Vernal Falls and elsewhere were still open, pending the first snow. Not many people cluttering up the space.

I was trying to find a photo that captured it all, perhaps a cheery yellow-orange tree against a Half Dome backdrop, but I had cheery yellow-orange trees and I had granite, but the granite photos all seemed to have evergreens in front of them and the fall colors didn't have granite in the background. Ah. Here's one.

If you ever have a chance to go for a few days to Yosemite when the crowds of tourists have gone but the valley isn't deep in snow, Go!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

08 August 2004

My photo files were getting all higgly piggly. I have a master directory labeled filPhotos with subdirectories under it labeled Family, Travel, SanFrancisco, &c.

Ah, but under San Francisco, I had folders labeled SF2009-06-17 and SF2009-06-01 and so on and forth into the hundreds.

Over 8400 photos, if I can believe Picasa, and I probably can. ... Too many folders. And if I want to check through all the views to the east to have a look-see for a good one to post somewhere or send someone, where would I find it?

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So in lieu of writing something I should be writing, I went through all my San Francisco photos and pulled out all the views to the east from this specific spot (not views to the east from the top of the Hill, nor views to the east from the Embarcadero ...). And found I had over 2000 photos. Some were dupes. Some were why-are-you-saving-that-Sal. I winnowed. A bit.


I then moved the individual SF2009-06-01 and SF2009-06-10 sorts of folders into month-specific folders, only keeping those folders with a bunch of photos of a specific subject. e.g. SF2005-02-12MarriageEqualityCityHall (the one-year-anniversary party for the Valentine's Day surprise of 2004), SF2008-05-18BayToBreakers, SF2007-10BlueAngels, &c.


So now things are a bit easier to handle, although I may start bundling the photos in larger SF2009Q1 and Q2 sorts of bundles. Fewer bundles, but not so few I wouldn't be able to find photos of that walk we took in April 2008 easily.

Results? Less overwhelming photage. With a final count, SFViewsEast: 2110. (Plus the few that are in my camera as-I-post.) I see more winnowing in my future.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

There but for fortune ...

23 Jul 2008
Sitting on a dock of the bay.

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The Book Seer

The Book Seer

Entertaining. Tell it what book you just finished reading (assuming, of course, that you liked the book) and it will tell you what amazon.com and LibraryThing think you should read next (assuming, of course, that you want to read something similar).

Friday, June 12, 2009

You talkin' to ME?

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Smog check?

Yesterday morning I took pictures of three ships leaving within a ten-minute-or-so period, all of them spewing crap into the air. We, of course, need to have our cars smog-checked every two years. Ships coming in and out of harbor. Not.

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Why not?

Update: Ah. ... A federal appeals court agreed Wednesday [27 Feb 2008] that state air pollution regulators can't order ships arriving at California ports to reduce their toxic contributions to local smog." The Court ruled that the State Air Board's rules couldn't take precedence over the federal Clean Air Act and the state would have to get a waiver from the EPA to allow its rules to go into effect.

OK. So when is =that= going to happen, now that TPTB at the EPA have changed? Soon? Have we asked?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Privacy? Circumspection? Privacy? Privacy? Fuggedaboutit.

And so with nary a care, Leah Garchik spills the beans about Gavin's new digs, with enough information (price, street) that any stalker worth his/her salt could track down the address in (oh ... say ...) about ten seconds.

I dunno. If I were someone who attracts stalkers like Gavin does, I'd be a bit annoyed at Ms Leah leaking the info just because she could.

Maybe it's just me.

(And, yes, even though I'm not a stalker, the challenge of the day -- after finishing the ***Sudoku and both crosswords -- was to track down Gavin's new address. And it didn't take that long. ...)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Update on the ranunculus

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More petals have fallen since the previous shot was taken.

I'll find another flower to take its place. I enjoyed having something floral on the rain drum as I headed up to the next level.

People Who Wear Rose-colored Glasses See More, Study Shows

People Who Wear Rose-colored Glasses See More, Study Shows

A University of Toronto study provides the first direct evidence that our mood literally changes the way our visual system filters our perceptual experience suggesting that seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses is more biological reality than metaphor.

When the Thrill of Blogging Is Gone ...

When the Thrill of Blogging Is Gone ... - by Douglas Quenqua

Interesting article. You must register w/ NYTimes.com to read.


Like Mrs. Nichols, many people start blogs with lofty aspirations — to build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world. Getting started is easy, since all it takes to maintain a blog is a little time and inspiration. So why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?

According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.

Judging from conversations with retired bloggers, many of the orphans were cast aside by people who had assumed that once they started blogging, the world would beat a path to their digital door.

Full moon ... in stages

Last night as we were eating dinner (grilled lamb chops, stir-fried Chinese beans, and small red potatoes, cut and sautéed in olive oil with garlic and rosemary), I'd get up and walk to the windows occasionally. I was waiting for the full moon over the Bay Bridge - a photo op that comes once every twenty-eight days. If that.

At 8:50P there was still no sign of the moon. How can that be? Where is the moon? We finished dinner and moved to our chairs where we sat, finishing our glasses of wine.

A little after nine the moon finally appeared, rising orange behind the bridge. Then yellow. Then white, as it rose in the sky.

All Rayleigh, his nibs said.

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Make a wish

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When the younger guys were much younger, the loss of a helium balloon wasn't an occasion for tears.

When your balloon slips your grasp, don't cry. Make a wish.

Make a wish and watch the balloon as it slips up into the sky carrying your wish with it until (keep watching!) it is (keep watching!) so high it disappears from view.

The next time something slips from my grasp, I'll try to remember to make a wish.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Last night's not-quite full moon



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Still life with yellow ranunculus

His nibs was at the Academy of Sciences annual meeting for docents and other such yesterday and brought home some flowers: a gathering of small daisy-ish flowers and a gaggle of alstroemeria as well as a twosome of yellow ranunculus (?). I put the Peruvian lilies and daisy-ish flowers in a vase downstairs and brought the yellow flowers up to the landing on the second floor. Cheery as I go back and forth during the day.

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Prop 13, Education, and the current budget crunch

Read an interesting comment yesterday in my alumni magazine. An earlier issue had an article ("Struggling for Words") in which English Professor Jonathan Lovell rued the effects Prop 13 has had on education since it passed in 1978.

Oh, really? (or words to that effect) was the comment.

While the state of public education is deplorable, Prop 13 is certainly not one of the causes. Assessed values, tax receipts and school funding have all increased at faster rates than inflation since its passage in 1978. The provisions of Prop 13, which create a more stable tax base, will provide a relatively "soft" landing during the recession, as not all assessed values will fall from the grossly inflated market values of recent years. Without Prop 13, the decrease in property tax revenues would be even more dramatic than what we're actually seeing. -- Pete Conrad, '82 Business

Something to think about.

Another benefit of Prop 13 for education, which I've never heard mentioned, is that it created an incentive for families to stay put, not to trade up to a bigger house. As a result, our children went from K-12 with pretty much the same set of kids. The parents worked together for years and were gung-ho about working with the schools. We knew each other, our quirks, our pet peeves, our strengths. Instead of people moving in and out and up, we had a stable foundation for volunteerism and fundraising.

But, yeah. I hadn't thought about the precipitous fall in property tax revenues that there would've been without Prop 13.

Oh, you say? But wouldn't we'd've had a mess more money if Prop. 13 hadn't been around? Yeah. We would've. Year to year. And we would've spent every frickin' dime and be left now with unsustainable programs and no funds to run them. Rainy day funds are an anomaly in this state. Alas.

Naked, Drunk, and Writing - Adair Lara

Naked, Drunk, and Writing: writing essays and memoirs for love and money by Adair Lara. [an Amazon click]

Adair Lara was talking about her new book this past Wednesday at Book Passage, Corte Madera. (She also teaches classes there on occasion.)

I mentioned her appearance on Facebook (although I didn't drive across the bridge to see her) and added

Adair Lara wrote a column for the Chronicle ... until she didn't. I liked the column. Miss her.

A sample of her column work.

Fun thing about Amazon is that you can (often) poke into a book and see how it begins. On the first page of Lara's new book, I read

If I even think about writing, I find myself in the pantry eating cereal straight from the box. Writing is a scary, vulnerable, and in a way conceited act, one that says the words you set down are worth a stranger's time to read, and that this is a worthy use of your own time.

I may take Lara's book to Camp to read, even if I'm not intending to write a memoir any time soon. ...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

More clouds from yesterday

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Pilot boat

The sky turns blue (Thank you, Rayleigh!) as the sun goes down behind us.
A pilot boat cruises in.

The bay, the hills, the shadows take on a blue-ish tinge as the sun sets and the City wraps itself in twilight.

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Clouds. Bridge.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now. ...
This is a cloud shot from yesterday (Tues) ...

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At the get-together on Sunday we were trying to describe the Crinan Hotel and why it was a place we'd stay again in a flash if we had the time and the wherewithal and the time and the time and the time.

Why? Well, because walking along the canal and up into the hills is a dream and because the beds are soft and breakfast and dinner are included. The food is delish. The staff is invisible. The days are glorious whether they're sunny or not.

And then there's the view out your window across Loch Crinan:

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A picture's worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Have you played with Bing yet?

Go on. You know you want to!


Run your mouse along the right edge to pull up a synopsis of the page featured. Browse through the related links.

Have fun.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Adieu, Joseph Schmidt

Joseph Schmidt, a local purveyor of fine chocolates, now a subsidiary of Hershey's, will close as of June 30. Their chocolates are now on sale (3489 16th St.) as they skid toward the end of the month, although you wouldn't be able to tell from their Web site.

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Old friends brought a "spring" box collection as a hostess gift when they came for dinner a few weeks back. The box is beautiful. The chocolates ymmm.

Adieu, JS. Another San Francisco tradition signs off.