Towse: views from the hill

August 31, 2006

Helix :: a Speculative Fiction Quarterly

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 12:26 am

Here’s something worth checking out: Helix :: a Speculative Fiction Quarterly.

This magazine is supported entirely by donations.

Editors: William Sanders and Lawrence Watt-Evans

August 30, 2006

Jim Macdonald on AVPU and EMT lore

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 6:40 pm

Jim Macdonald’s post on TNH’s Making Light covering AVPU and other basic EMT protocols is one of the most useful things I’ve read in a long while.

Be sure to read the comments tail too (currently at 83 comments and rising), for added info, including a link to the Vial of Life Web site.

August 29, 2006

[WR] Updated Towse’s Links to Online Guidelines – Markets for Writers – Publishers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:30 pm

Spun through the list of publishers that accept direct queries, proposals, manuscripts from writers and cleared out dead links, moved publishers who now will not accept work directly from writers to the bottom of the page, added additional publishers and otherwise updated the publishers list at Towse’s Links to Online Guidelines.

August 26, 2006

Pravda just ain’t what she used to be

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 1:42 am

Japanese censor pregnant Britney (Photo) – Pravda.Ru

plus +++

Sexual contacts with aliens occur frequently.

(Yes, I know. Old news. Still …)

Lenin must be spinning.
Khruschev must be spinning.
Heck, Gorbachev must be spinning.

August 25, 2006

Three to go

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 9:01 pm

We visited three close-by restaurants within the last week or two and all are worth a repeat visit. This doesn’t happen very often, folks. In fact, I don’t think it’s ever happened that we ate at three new-to-us restaurants and came up with three repeatables in a row.

Impala [caution: soundtrack]
501 Broadway (just W of Kearny on the S side of Broadway)
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 982-5299
Open Table reservations

Good Mexican food. Fresh ingredients. I’m not saying that the food’s better than the tamales at Lucy’s on White Road in San Jose, but I am saying I’d be happy to make a return visit. The salsas weren’t very spicy, perhaps a nod to the tourist trade. We ordered the Monday-night-special half-price pitchers of margarita. Impala doesn’t water down the margaritas just because they’re serving them half-price.

I just checked the site and see no mention of half-off bottles of wine or half-price pitchers of margarita, so maybe that was a time-limited offer to draw in the locals.

We were upstairs in the restaurant. A record release party was happening downstairs in the VIP lounge. Our experience might’ve been different if there’d been a crush or loud music, but the night was relatively young and it was Monday. We were able to enjoy the food and the margaritas without stress.

The Helmand Restaurant
430 Broadway (just W of Montgomery on the N side of Broadway)
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 362-0641

Afghani food. I’ll lift the descriptions from the menu.

We walked in on a Monday night and had a table without waiting. The restaurant was near capacity. After we ordered, a basket full of Afghani bread was delivered to our table with three pots of sauce: green, white and red. The red sauce was sweet, spiced tomato. The green sauce had cilantro as the base, I think, and was my favorite. The white sauce was a typical yogurt and mint concoction.

We shared appetizers: Aushak (Afghan ravioli filled with leeks and scallions, served on yogurt-mint topped with ground beef sauce) and Kaddo (Pan-fried then baked baby pumpkin seasoned with sugar and served on yogurt garlic sauce, topped with ground beef sauce). Both were scrumptious.

For my entree, I ordered Qabelee (Pallow baked with chunks of lamb tenderloin, raisins and glazed julienne of carrots). Pallow is boiled rice mixed with oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and black pepper, then baked.

His nibs had the special: Lamb Lawand (Leg of Lamb sauteed with onion, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, fresh cilantro, capers, hot pepper, yogurt and spices served with sauteed spinach and challow rice.) Challow rice is boiled rice mixed with oil and cumin, then baked.

Both of the entrees were super. Both types of rice delish. The portions were far larger than we’d expected for the price on the menu. I couldn’t finish my Qabelee and took it home to heat up for breakfast yesterday.

We shared a dessert: Sheerberaing (Rice pudding, served with pistachio and cardamom). The rice pudding is not my grandma’s rice pudding or even the rice pudding at Sears Restaurant. This rice pudding is not a creamy pudding with raisins and cinnamon but more a rice gruel (think “rice” as in a Balinese rice breakfast) sweetened, and served with pistachio and cardamom. Delicious, I thought.

We plan to go back some weekday for the lunch buffet, so we can try a wider variety of items off the menu in one swell foop.

Our third keeper …

Da Flora – A Venetian Ostaria
701 Columbus Ave. (NW corner at Filbert)
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 981-4664

We ate here last night for the first time. We’d keep walking by on our way somewhere else. We’d sometimes think of it on Monday nights when we wanted to go out to eat, but Da Flora isn’t open Mondays.

We hadn’t realized that the restaurant was subtitled “a Venetian ostaria” and has a Venetian vibe with pictures and lighting and menu items that reminded us of our visit to Venice in June. We walked in and were seated immediately. The menu, which is handwritten, says “we strongly prefer cash” but the staff just waved her hand nevermind when we told her we hadn’t brought much cash with us.

Took a while for the staff to get back for the order, but we didn’t mind. The place is a haven for people watching. Be sure to ask for water, if you want some. Delicious focaccia with kosher salt topping comes after you order. We drank a Tedeschi valpolicella with our meal.

I had carpaccio for an appetizer. The meat was so tender and sliced so thin that it just fell apart as I scooped it up with my fork. Served with drizzles of creamy horseradish sauce, capers and bits of argula. The best. His nibs had the sweet potato gnocchi with pancetta and a sherry cream sauce. Superb. To die for.

For the main course, I had duck livers, served Venetian style, with caramelized onions, sage and pancetta. The livers were served with polenta that was soft but fried on one side to create a crusty top. I be a happy camper.

His nibs had veal rolled up with a stuffing of breadcrumbs, shrooms, etc. The veal was still pink, not overcooked. There was not a lot of stuffing (less stuffing than meat). The veal was served on a bed of orzo and pesto. (At least I think it was orzo.) The pasta was very rich and, lucky me, his nibs shared his portion with me.

Dessert was pistachio cake with vanilla cream, which we shared. I asked for a double espresso. No espresso. No coffee even, they had no coffee. They hadn’t flagged down the coffee merchant that afternoon to get more coffee. They’d make me a pot of tea! Um. No.

I ordered a glass of a Sicilian dessert wine which went perfectly with the dense pistachio cake. Not too sweet, but a heavy enough wine that you would not want to share a bottle with a meal.


So there you have it. Three restaurants, all within a half mile walk, all worth repeating. Of the three, choose Impala if you have a hankering for Mexican food, or margaritas. We don’t have much Mexican food in North Beach. Taqueria El Zorro (at Columbus and Broadway) serves up Mexican food, and we on occasion stop by for Dos Equis and burritos, but Taqueria El Zorro is more a lunch place.

If I wasn’t hankering for Mexican, I’d be hard pressed to choose between Da Flora and The Helmand. Both are good in their way. They serve totally different sorts of food. Both are white table cloth. The Helmand is quiet and subdued and has seemingly effortless service. Da Flora felt more like the neighborhood trattoria with staff that doesn’t feel a need to compete with the Relais & Chateau staff down at Gary Danko.

Don’t get me wrong. The Da Flora folk seem like nice people who love their food but they also seem like they would give back any attitude they got. Added note: Da Flora closes up shop relatively early. A couple came in at 8:45 p.m. and were told that they’d just told the kitchen staff they could close up. Sorry! (The couple said, “This is the third restaurant we’ve gone to. Can’t you serve us?” One of the other diners said, “Maybe you should’ve stopped at the first restaurant.” Hm. Maybe the clientele has attitude too.)

August 24, 2006

Air at MSP airport being tested after 19 fall ill inside

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 10:13 pm

Air at MSP airport being tested after 19 fall ill inside
Pepper spray or Mace was likely to blame for closing the area around a checkpoint.

by Chao Xiong, Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St.Paul, MN)

Discarded pepper spray or Mace was the likely culprit in a chemical alarm Tuesday morning at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport that sent 19 workers to area hospitals.

Patrick Hogan, speaking for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, said, “They could find absolutely no sign of air contamination. It’s important that people recognize that we don’t have any indication that this was a deliberate act to disrupt airport operations.”

No, not deliberate, but disruptive anyway. Boy howdy.

Incidents like this shouldn’t be a huge surprise, should they?

ing commented on this recently, maybe at a blog that recently moved, leaving all comments behind. Maybe not, but in any case, I can’t find her comment, so, paraphrasing ing — from memory.

ing said something to the effect of so you’re not allowed to take certain gels and liquids and what-not on planes because you might be intending to mix certain gels and liquids together and “all go BOOM!” so instead you’ll take all the gels and liquids and toss them together in a big bin and later the TSA will dispose of this large glob of goods … where? how?

Um. Right. Just saying.

[heads up courtesy of John M. Ford]

"an oppressively compendious list of writers’ resources"

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 9:42 pm

I got here, the way I usually get somewhere.

I was off tracking down whether Caitlin Blasdell (former Harper Prism editor, now agenting with Liza Dawson Agency and, it turns out, Charlie Stross’ agent) had a Web site.

She doesn’t, but I came across Kathryn Cramer’s Web site which had a collection of links to “literary agent info” which had a link to Neil Gaiman’s Journal and a post titled Everything you wanted to know about literary agents….

I’m reading through Gaiman’s post which includes a long and detailed response on the getting of agents and agenting that he’d solicited from Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

… and somewhere in the bits of information and list of resources, in a category labelled “Miscellaneous,” TNH mentions Internet Resources for writers, describing it as “an oppressively compendious list of writers’ resources.”

I’m sure she meant “oppressively compendious” as the bestest of compliments.

Ah, the sweet fragrance of laurel leaves.

Manuel Guerzoni’s San Francisco Daily Photography, San Francisco Photos

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:39 pm

San Francisco Daily Photography, San Francisco Photos by Manuel Guerzoni

“this site is about photographs. i add a little bit of information with each one but i’m always careful about not giving too much away: i really want for the photos to speak, not the words. all photos were shot in the city of san francisco, there has been no photos posted from surrounding areas (maybe some day i will, but for right now, this site is about the city). no archive photos are being posted, each photo posted was taken the day before, or occasionally, a few days before. all photos are candid and undergo post-processing as i shoot almost everything in raw format. except for the few photos where i experimented selective coloring, only white balance is being adjusted during post-processing, or conversion to black&white with adjustment of contrast on some of them. photos can be browsed using the browse link in the top right corner.”

“Browse” is sorted by architecture, abstracts, people, black and white, and scapes.

Some photos are titled. A map click shows you approximately where the photo was taken. Use the labelled arrows to click through the day-to-day or simply click on the photograph to move one day backward.

Evolutionary biology omitted inadvertantly, says DOE

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 7:45 pm

“Evolutionary biology omitted inadvertantly, says DOE”

Two days after the Chronicle of Higher Education broke the story about the absence of evolutionary biology from a list of college majors eligible for a federal grant, both New Scientist and The New York Times have provided further details. At issue is a list of majors that qualify for grants up to $4000 under the new federal Smart Grant program; a blank line appears in the list (PDF) in lieu of 26.1303, where evolutionary biology would normally have appeared, prompting observers to wonder, according to the Chronicle (August 22, 2006), “whether the omission was deliberate.”


Entertaining, wot?

August 22, 2006

Web Design 101 (an ongoing feature)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 9:43 pm

Today’s lesson: Make it easy for people to contact you by including contact information at your Web site — preferably on each and every page.

If you don’t want someone scarfing up your contact e-mail, disguise it as an EMAIL button and/or use the topsekrit code (&-#-6-4) for the “@″ sign and/or use a gmail address for your site.

e.g. Site containing (allegedly accurate) information about The best mystery authors. Skimming through the list of names, I found it impossible not to notice

  • Lawrence Block’s name misspelt.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle’s name misspelt.
  • Erle Stanley Gardner’s name misspelt.
  • Dashiell Hammett’s name misspelt.
  • and others

I would’ve pointed out the misspellings to the site owner if I could’ve found contact information anywhere on the site.

Couldn’t find contact information.


Oh, well.

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