Towse: views from the hill

September 21, 2006

Gone for a few weeks … reprise

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 1:39 am

We leave tomorrow for Beijing and then on to Xinjiang Province (NW China) and the Hunza Valley, Pakistan, for a glimpse of a place we’ve never been and a piece of the northern Silk Road.

We’ll be flying puddle jumpers within China and have to keep our bags light, but we need to pack for hot and for cold and I’ll need a head scarf in Hunza and for the mosques we visit in Xinjiang Province. We need reading material for the long flights. Camera & batteries. Rain gear. Pens. Paper. Hat. Sunblock. Shades.


Adventures include road travel to and fro over Khunjerab Pass into and out of the Hunza Valley. Here’s hoping the roads are much improved from the roads shown in the book we own that has photographs taken in the early 60s. Those photos are like Yikes!

(In similar circumstances I’ve just closed my eyes and trusted to the competence of the driver. I figured if it was my time, it was my time …)

We went flying around with Google Earth a bit ago to check out the route. Now his nibs is checking the weather over the Web. He tells me the weather is clear in Urumqi and the temps are 48dF at 9:30 a.m. (CST).

The Web’s a wonder.

And I’m packed the day before. That really =is= a wonder!

Hasta luego.

Gone for a few weeks.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 12:41 am

And look what we’re missing!

(I put this list together for our intrepid Auntie K, who will be catering to our feline companion while we’re gone.)

  • The Bicycle Thief screened down in Washington Square Park. Sat. Sep 23rd. 8PM.

  • Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown. September 23-24, 2006
  • International Dragon Boat Festival. September 23-24, 2006 (Treasure Island).
  • San Francisco Blues Festival. September 23-24, 2006. Fort Mason’s Great Meadow. $$ Tix but there will be a free kickoff concert at Justin Herman Plaza on September 22 (Fri) from noon-1:30p.
  • Folsom Street Fair. Sunday, Sept. 24. WARNING! WARNING! Hugely popular leather, fetish, and BDSM event. If you plan to drive anywhere toward the south on Sunday, check out which streets will be closed for this street fair. It makes a real mess of things.
  • Friends of the Library HUGE ANNUAL HUGE (did I mention HUGE!?!??) BOOK SALE. Festival Pavilion. Fort Mason Center. TH Sep 28-SU Oct 1. Preview sale (members and special guests) Wednesday Sep 27. 4-8P. (We have passes for you as our special guest.)
  • 2006 Floating Homes Tour in Sausalito. September 30. Buy tickets online. Take the ferry over!
  • Comedy Day (free) October 1st. 12-5p.m. at Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park. Benefit for the Food Bank. (They’d like attendees to bring $$$ and donate generously.) Five hours. Thirty comedians. San Francisco’s professional comedy community joins together each year to produce the four-hour show. The Punch Line, Cobb’s Comedy Club, SF Sketchfest, Pepperbelly’s, and Jose Simon (founder of Comedy Day) each produce an hour-long, highly entertaining set.
  • Fleet Week San Francisco. Tour Navy ships and watch the Navy Blue Angels perform. Oct. 7-9, 10am-4pm. Free to the public. Fleet Week Airshow includes Blue Angels and the Red Bull Air Races.
  • 6th Annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Oct 7-8, 2006. Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park. FREE! Earl Scruggs, Hot Tuna Acoustic, Flying Other Brothers, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Richie Furay, Steve Earle, &c. This is the sixth annual event — a gift to San Francisco from Warren Hellman.

    Schedule — Emmylou Harris on Sunday! Ramblin’ Jack Elliott too!

  • Italian Heritage Parade (formerly Columbus Day Parade!) in North Beach. Sunday. October 8. Starts at 12:30 p.m. Goes from Jefferson and Stockton Streets (Fisherman’s Wharf), west on Jefferson to Leavenworth, south (left) on Leavenworth to Columbus, left on Columbus to Filbert, east (left) on Filbert.

    The parade ends in Washington Square in front of Sts. Peter and Paul Church (666 Filbert. How cool an address is that? Especially! for a church?)

and ongoing and stuff:

Quilts of Gee’s Bend at the deYoung

September events
October events

September 20, 2006

Deval Patrick Wins Mass. Democratic Primary

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 11:00 pm

The younger Younger Guy — the one who is now slogging through Alaska doing physical labor with AmeriCorps on roads and in national parks until late October — volunteered a couple days a week for Deval Patrick’s campaign for Massachusetts Governor when the younger Younger Guy was finishing up his senior year at BU in Boston.

(A Towse? A Massachusetts Democrat? Oy!)

Word yesterday was Deval Patrick Wins Mass. Democratic Primary. The next step is the election in November where Patrick will faceoff against Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, the Republican nominee.

Sent the kid in Alaska the news. Knew it would make him happy.

September 19, 2006

For a good cause. A delish dinner with, Michael Mina and the San Francisco Food Bank

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 7:57 pm

Fabulous dinner with wine and extras at Michael Mina last night to raise $$$ for the San Francisco Food Bank.

The fundraiser was sponsored and arranged by

Tanya Steel, editor-in-chief at, whose idea it was to have help raise money for food programs for children by raising money for America’s Second Harvest and local affiliate programs (Wine. Dine. Donate. Launches an On- And Offline Program to Benefit America‚Äôs Hungry Children [PDF]), flew into town from New York for dinner.

Steel wandered around before dinner introducing herself to people and chatting. Mina closed the restaurant for the event and was on hand to supervise the dishing of foods and pouring of drinks.


We’ll have to go back some time to see what it’s like in real time.

Christopher Wiley, San Francisco Food Bank’s Director of Development, AKA the guy who spends his days asking people for money for the food bank, was at our table and entertained us with stories of his Boston terriers and what it was like asking people for money for a living. Good cause, easy to ask, he said. We exchanged public transit stories and the like. (We’d taken the 30 over to Union Square for dinner and caught the 45 back. I carried a purse (zounds!) to stash my walking shoes in after I switched to dress shoes in the lobby of the St. Francis.)

Also at our table was an engaging woman who’d pulled together a large donation for the food bank during the annual Food From The Bar food drive (“the bar” being the Bar Association of San Francisco). Like us, she was a food bank supporter who’d never eaten at Michael Mina. The final four at our table were two couples who were friends and foodies from out of town (Foster City and Clayton). They were there to eat Michael Mina’s food and if the event was for a good cause, all the better.

The restaurant was pretty much sold out. There may have been a handful of seats that were vacant, but that was it.

Paul Ash, executive director of the SFFB, gave an overview of what the Food Bank does, the tons of food (26 mil pounds!) it distributes every year, the number of food pantries it supplies, the programs it runs &c. Amazing organization.

Get involved. Donate food. Donate dollars. Volunteer. Support your local food bank if you’re not a resident of the city. If you are resident, support these guys and come to San Francisco’s Comedy Day 2006: Sunday, October 1 Noon – 5 pm. Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park. Five hours. Thirty comedy performers. (PG-13). This year’s event is in partnership with the Food Bank. Bring some cash to donate.

September 18, 2006

eBay auction for a cause — thru Sep 24, 2006.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 7:59 pm

Auction supporting the First Amendment Project

First Amendment Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition. For more than twelve years, FAP has provided advice, educational materials, and legal representation to its core constituency of activists, journalists, and artists in service of these fundamental liberties.

Fourteen authors donate a once in a lifetime opportunity — to have your name appear in an upcoming book.”

Some of the auctions have finished. Carl Hiaasen (whose auction finished yesterday) raised $1,025 for “your name in a Carl Hiaasen book + personal Skype call!”

The John Lescroart auction item is “your name in a John Lescroart book + personal call” — end date 24 Sept.

The Kevin J. Anderson item is “your name in a Kevin J. Anderson book + signed copy” — end date 24 Sept.

&c. and so forth

[lifted from Neil Gaiman]

September 17, 2006

Anousheh Ansari’s Space Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 3:53 pm

Anousheh Ansari lifts off with the Soyuz TMA-9 Expedition 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome tomorrow, Kazakhstan time, which means a bit more than fourteen hours from now. The crew members she’s flying with are NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin.

Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-born American multi-millionaire, is flying up to the International Space station with both the Iranian and the USAn flags sewn on her suit.

She has an interesting story and a blog, of course. She won’t be blogging from space, but you can read her befores and her afters. Her husband will be blogging in her stead while she’s away.

September 15, 2006

Little Goddess by Ian McDonald. Hugo Nominee

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 4:41 pm

We were in Bhutan on September 11, 2001, as part of a trip that took us through Nepal, up to Tibet, back to Nepal, then on to Bhutan. We spent a total of maybe three days in Kathmandu, wandering around, looking at things.

I was fascinated by Kumari Devi, the living goddess of Nepal, who lives in a building that looks out over Durbar Square.

Ian McDonald was fascinated by the living goddess too and wrote Little Goddess, loosely based on Kumari Devi and set at a time in the future. The story was published in Asimov’s, June 2005, and was a Hugo nominee for best novella this year. Inside Job by Connie Willis won the Hugo in that category.

September 12, 2006

Kelly Link and stories on the Hugo Ballot

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 1:43 am

Auntie K sent me a link the other day to an article about Kelly Link, a woman who self-published her first two collections of SFF short stories to great acclaim.

MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS (July 2005) got great reviews from Time Magazine, Salon, SFC and others and was a Locus Award winner. The book’s been picked up by Harcourt/Harvest, USA and has also been published in Japan, Italy, Russia, Germany and elsewhere.

Want to know what all the buzz is about?

The Faery Handbag, collected in MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS, won a 2005 Hugo and a 2005 Nebula.

Link’s title story, Magic for Beginners was a Hugo award nominee for best novella this year. (Connie Willis won best novella with Inside Job.)

Here are links to other 2006 Hugo nominees. Hugo winners have been announced, so some links to nominated works are now 404.

September 11, 2006

Fog’s burnt off now,

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 7:53 pm


but a few hours ago, the Bay Bridge was wading through it. Posted by Picasa

The peahen next door

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 7:41 pm

  Posted by Picasa

The peahen next door to my parents’ place had a couple chicks this spring. The chicks are now half-grown and the family (sometimes with Dad, sometimes not) hang out on the redwood picnic table on the back deck.

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