Towse: views from the hill

November 24, 2004 Geek News – British company to release JFK assassination game

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 12:39 am

A posting reads

“British company to release JFK assassination game”

posted 12:01pm EST Tue Nov 23 2004

- submitted by Christopher R. Anderson


Traffic, a Glasgow, Scotland-based firm, is set to release a computer game called JFK Reloaded. The game will be available on Sunday, November 28, the 41st anniversary of the assassination, via the company’s website for US$9.99.

The AP article Anderson refers to correctly states the company made their announcement Sunday (ed. note Nov 21) and “The game was scheduled due to be released Monday (ed. note Nov 22), the 41st anniversary of the shooting in Dallas.”

Seems Anderson misread the news and not only got his facts mixed up but didn’t realize it because November 22d, the date, doesn’t resonate in any way for him.

I thought of JFK yesterday when I realized what the date was and thought … forty-one years. Doesn’t seem that long.

JFK Jr. would be turning forty-four this Thanksgiving. He was born just a few weeks after JFK won election forty-four years ago, 1960.

Where will we be in another forty-four?

November 23, 2004

San Francisco dresses up for the holidays

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 6:55 pm

Holiday lights are up. I always like this time of year. The Bay Bridge lights are year-round, but the Embarcadero Center and other buildings downtown only dress up for the holidays.

Under the first Bay Bridge support you can see the Ferry Building and its red “San Francisco” sign, which faces out toward the Bay. We always see flashes from cameras when the dinner cruises go by the sign. Wonder how those pics turn out.

Up above the Valley of Heart’s Delight

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 6:19 pm

Up above the valley sits the Ham cam, a webcam up at the Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton.

I grew up in the foothills near Mount Hamilton Road. The drive up the road to the observatory is a stomach-twisting series of switchbacks, but the view from the top is glorious, both the view looking west out over the (((Santa Clara)|Silicon) Valley)|(Valley of Heart’s Delight) — the view that the cam takes — and the view east looking out toward the Central Valley and Yosemite.

Spectacular views.

The cam site includes a “movie” concatenation of the previous day’s views and a gallery of memorable shots.

The valley started using low pressure sodium street lights in lieu of mercury vapor lights decades ago in response to requests from the Observatory. Read up to learn more about light pollution and how it affects astronomical researchers.

Iluna Basque now open Sunday.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 6:11 pm

Iluna Basque is now open Sundays, which is hooray-worthy, giving us another dinner option on Sunday nights. We found out last Sunday that IL now takes reservations. If you don’t realize they now take reservations and wander down there for dinner without a reservation, you’ll be told it’ll be a very long wait.

Call ahead: (415) 402-0011 or reserve online. We would’ve if we’d only known …

Instead we ate at Mangarosa where I had my steak rechaud and his nibs had the gnocchi. Yumcious.

Kingston 256MB SD card

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 6:05 pm

Went off to Fry’s again yesterday to pickup two more Kingston 256MB SD cards for the digital camera. I’d taken a passle of pictures over the weekend and the new card had worked just dandy. Downloaded the pics yesterday morning and everything worked flawlessly.

Arrived at Fry’s to find (oh, glorious day!) that the Kingston 256MB SD card was on sale for $24.99 ($5 less than I’d paid last week) PLUS there was a $15 mail-in rebate (one per customer). Saved (or I will have saved once I get the mail-in rebate back) $25!

… which I will blow in another hour and a half when I take my kid brother out to Chili’s for his 45th bday. Forty-five? The baby of the family is forty-five? How did that ever happen?

But wait! Update!Cheese Sandwich not! Bought for $28,000

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 4:54 pm

Cheese Sandwich Bought for $28,000 – Tue Nov 23, 2004 10:41 AM ET

MIAMI (Reuters) – An online casino won the eBay bidding for a decade-old cheese sandwich bearing what some people consider a likeness of the Virgin Mary and immediately began hawking Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese T-shirts.’s bid of $28,000 was the highest offer for the sandwich when bidding closed late on Monday, the Internet casino’s Web site said.

The seller, Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident Diana Duyser, says she made the cheese sandwich 10 years ago and after taking a bite, saw “the Virgin Mary staring back at me.”

… and the article continues on …

Whooo. Boy.

Update: The highest legitimate bid was reportedly $71Whoever was the successful bidder also has to pay $9.95 for shipping.

Update to update: Golden Palace Casino verifies their $28K bid was legit. Yowza!

November 21, 2004

It really is Plug & Play

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 12:17 am

I wrote a while back about the Concord Eye-Q 4060 4.0 Megapixel Digital Camera I bought over the Web. Today’s Office Max ad in the paper shows the price even less than what I paid for it.

Oh, no!

But wait … The past five months of use is worth $20 isn’t it?

Prepping for the trip I’ve been weighing whether to take my usual 25-30 rolls of film — and the costs of developing the film when I get back — or taking the Concord. If I take the Concord, I need some SD memory to make up 25-30 rolls of film, which will be pricey itself.

What to do.

What to do.

The younger younger nibs worked at Wolf Camera the summer before last and had tales of people buying memory for their digital cameras that was the right sort and fit in the right slot but which wouldn’t work with the digital camera they’d bought it for. To forestall that mistake, I hied myself over to Wolf Camera to see what they recommended for the Concord. Wolf recommended a 128MB or a 256MB card, so I decided to go 256MB max.

Knowing there was no time to send off for something over the Web, I nevertheless checked out prices to see what 256MB would cost and what the options were. Checking the WebKB and feeding in the amount of pictures I’d taken in Yunnan, I figured I’d need at least three 256MB cards, even factoring in that I’d be ditching pictures that didn’t turn out as expected.

When I was at Costco on Thursday, I checked. Costco carried a SanDisk 256MB memory card priced at $46 — loads more than other cards I’d seen FS over the Web. I ducked over to BestBuy next, where the SanDisk and PNY 256MB SD cards were both priced $54.99.


Take those $$$ times three.

Yikes. Yikes. Yikes.

The geeks were out of bed by then so it was too late in the day to hie over to Fry’s Electronics and do battle. Instead, bright and early Friday I went to Fry’s, stood in the obligatory line to talk to a sales staffer who checked the inventory to make sure my card was in and walked out with a Kingston 256MB SD card for something a bit less than $30 plus tax.

Brought it home. Figured I’d find the User Manual for the camera if I needed it. Figured the SD slot must be somewhere … say maybe in where the batteries are kept. Popped open the battery station. There was the SD slot with a picture showing a square with a corner nipped off. Slipped in the SD card (with its nipped off corner) in the fashion indicated and voila! Alzasudden, instead of a possible n pictures to shoot, I had a possible nnn pictures to shoot, according to my camera. Took a handful. Deleted a couple.

Plug & Play. Can’t get much simpler than that.

Next up … going back to Fry’s to get a couple more Kingstons.

Being a belt and suspenders sort, I’ll also pack a couple disposable cameras on the off chance that something horrid happens to the camera or cards. Still rue the day that my camera battery faded out when I was at Carthage.

I’ll also be packing extra rechargeable batteries, the battery recharger and the voltage converter setups and hope that we hit steady power often enough to keep the sets of batteries charged.

"Looking forward to meeting you again in heaven, God willing."

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 12:05 am

I find it unnerving and sad to see ads people place on obituary pages saying, “Dear Julianna. It’s been fifteen years since you passed away and we all still miss you dreadfully. Looking forward to meeting you again in heaven, God willing.”

The ad must give some comfort to the person placing the ad, but Julianna doesn’t read the paper and all the advertiser is really doing is posing with their broken heart, letting thousands of strangers know they miss Julianna — how much? so much! enough to pay for an ad!

Leave a more lasting and practical monument to the dearly departed. Give the money that would’ve been spent on an ad to a library or a battered women’s shelter “in honor of.”

Skipping off on a tangent, the city of Salinas is in foul financial shape and failed to pass some tax measures earlier this month. Their main library and two branches cost $3m/yr to run, so as of January, the city is shutting down the libraries.


(trans: What would Steinbeck say?)

November 20, 2004

Hurrah! A Christmas tree after all!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 12:05 am

Unlike the grinch over there, I love Christmas, love the warm glow in the middle of dark Winter. Love the smell of cut tree. The family still living and celebrating has six birthdays in November and December and one right after the New Year so the choosing of gifts to suit for the birthdays and then again for Christmas Day can be a bear.

Luckily, my family has always been less into the conspicuous consumption and more into the thought behind the gift. When you grow up with five other sibs who need gifting and an allowance of 25c/week of which a dime goes into the plate at Sunday School and another dime goes to the Camp Fire Girls at the weekly meeting, any bits of money from cutting ‘cots or babysitting are precious.

Creativity was always the key, creativity, empathy, understanding, thorough scouting to suss out the deepest desires of the giftee. A gift certificate is fine, but a carefully thought out personal something is best, if possible. An added twist recently has been an eighty-year-old mother who says she doesn’t want anything she must read or wear, or needs to take care of and … so.

A gift treasured from back when and stashed in my jewelry box is a pin my next older brother gave me when I was about ten. He’d taken a Brazilian cruzeiro piece and soldered a tiny brass safety pin on the back to make a wearable pin. He was always brill and thoughtful in his choices of presents for people.

I miss him this time of year. He’s been gone now three years and I still see things in the shops and think how much he’d like them. I miss those missing from the ranks. The six sibs are now three. My oldest brother would be turning fifty-nine on December 10th if he were here. Odd to think of him almost sixty when he’s always caught in amber at age twenty-nine. Would he be grizzled? Would he be like Don May, mellowed and at peace with the world? What would he be doing with his life? Engineer? Teacher? Counselor? Would the sister who also died at twenty-nine still be a hippie free spirit Buddhist or would she have settled down and be driving a Volvo and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity?

This time of year brings the warm glow of the holidays but also waves of nostalgia and regret and darkness and a pervading sense of loss when I remember those who have died and won’t be part of the season. There was a Christmas or two not too long ago when I was so far into the black ooze that I was barely any help at all with all the planning and effort it takes to set up the Christmas we are used to having together. Cards? Food? Tree? Those few years even the tree was an effort. Oh, sure, once it was up it was lovely, but planning to cut it down, pull out the decorations, put them on was something I had to be dragged into. I had no energy, no spark, no joy, no anticipation.

Skip’s birthday in December and the memories it rumbles triggered the cascade the first time the black ooze surprised me over the holidays. I can look back now and recognize what happened and how I ignored what was happening. As a result, these years I walk carefully when the season turns, watch for signs, forcefully expose the bits of darkness that crop up, flood them with light, consciously change the dark rumbles of black ooze into happy memories of years gone by: a blue dump truck, an artificial Christmas tree we had in Brazil with green feathers in lieu of needles, caroling under the stars while the family walked along the beach at Recife on holiday, a New Hampshire Christmas at my grandparents’. Hot chocolate. Mulled cider. Snow. The Three Chipmunks singing Christmas tunes.

… and I remember what can happen if I forget to take care of the ooze, acknowledge it, accept it, transform it before it overtakes me.

Rest. Eat. Enjoy. Don’t stress.

I’ve always loved the Christmas tree, the smell, the colors, the decorations that accumulate one or two a year until putting the tree up recalls magical memories of Christmases past. This year I bought two garlands of glass beads at Target because I hadn’t been able to find any at a reasonable price for as long as I’d been searching and those we use date back fifty or more years and are fragile, so fragile.

I love the warmth of Christmas. The lead up to the day. Cutting fragrant evergreen and holly branches to decorate the mantle. Setting up the creche. Handmade wreath on the door. Baking.

This year, though, there’s a different feel to the season. I’m getting all caught up in my fretting and worries about the upcoming trip. What to do about cameraworks? Film or SD? Time grows short and I need to get some sport sandals for walking in water and then hiking. What sorts of clothes? Which? How many? Of what kind? Pack but pack light. The hugest fret of all was that we’d get back late on the 23rd and his nibs said there’d be no time or inclination to put up the tree.

“No tree?” I said. “But the family Christmas is here now! How can we have Christmas without a tree?”

“We will have no time, Sal. No time.”

“Maybe we could put up the tree before we leave and the sib who is watching the house and the cat until the young-un gets in from Boston could watch the tree as well.”

He just hummm hummm’d.

I mentioned this option several times, with that sad little hiccup in my voice – sniff.

No, not really … we tend not to play games. We exchanged views. He said we’d have no time. Later, I countered his “no time” with an option I’d thought of. We talked about it a couple times and he agreed it might be a possible, if not traditional. The tree might be doable … if we found time before we left.

In the last day, though, things have changed. Calls back and forth from the E coast. The folks running the trip have rescheduled and rearranged a bunch of stuff and logistics have changed such that we’ll be leaving two days earlier than planned and returning two days earlier.

Hurrah! There will be time to go up in the mountains and cut down a tree! Time to decorate the tree! Bonus plus is that the young-un will be here to take part in the cutting and decorating.

Oh, happy day. There will be a Christmas tree after all.

November 19, 2004

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 11:55 pm

Taking my first listen to BARENAKED FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Barenaked Ladies. Yes, I know. It’s not even Thanksgiving and all the Scrooges in the world would rather the music hold off until after next Thursday, but we’re leaving the Sunday after and won’t be back until a few days before Christmas. I won’t be getting much chance to hear Sinatra or the Barenaked Ladies singing holiday tunes.

The Barenaked Ladies CD includes such classics as “Deck the Stills” (Deck the Halls with lyrics “Crosby Stills Nash and Young” repeated and repeated) and “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah,” “Jingle Bells” — all done with that Barenaked Ladies panache.

“Auld Lang Syne” triggers, as I knew it would, waves of nostalgia and thoughts of years gone by. The only other song that consistently gives me the same reaction is the old classic about the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and the dreams lost at Culloden.

Oh! ye’ll take the high road and

I’ll take the low road,

And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye;

For me and my true love

Will never meet again

On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

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