Towse: views from the hill

November 30, 2006

[BLOG] dooce

Filed under: blog — Towse @ 7:45 pm

I have a zillion feeds stashed away with my bloglines.

Don’t believe me? Look!

I roam around looking at things. Reading blogs I like. Clicking through on links on blogs I like. I find an interesting and/or quirky and/or beautiful and/or useful blog and I add its feed to my bloglines list and either follow the blog religiously in a not-quite-stalking way for days and weeks or I read it that day and then forget about it, leaving it sit there on the bloglines list until one day I’m drinking my second mug of espresso and clicking around and go, gee. … I don’t remember why I saved a link to … what’s dooce anyway?

This is dooce — a quirky, entertaining, refreshing, funny, intriguing, interesting blog outta Salt Lake City, Utah, by dooce AKA Heather B. Armstrong, formerly known as Heather B. Hamilton, wife, mother, no longer a practicing LDS. dooce is notorious or at least 15-minutes-of-fame famous for being fired from her job for blogging about her work, back when. (Her advice? My advice to you is BE YE NOT SO STUPID. Never write about work on the internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT WORK ON THE INTERNET.)


November 29, 2006

Book jones.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 4:08 am

I have a book jones. Have I ever mentioned?

Arleen Writes about her search for entertainment, for a book, not a romance, no history, not now and how she went to the store looking for entertainment and came back with “a vegetarian cookbook, and a how to cook tofu and soy products cookbook.” I responded:

I try to explain to people why I have these piles and cases and boxes of books that I haven’t read and yet … and yet I stop off at the bookstore and pick up another book.

I picked up a copy of Stephen King’s latest at Costco on Monday. Ordered $50 worth of books from Powell’s over the weekend, finishing off the $100 gift certificate I won back when. $50 gets you free shipping! (Ordered Domenic Stansberry THE LAST DAYS OF IL DUCE and CHASING THE DRAGON, Bradbury THE CAT’S PAJAMAS and BRADBURY STORIES: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales) This morning I ordered another $25 worth of books (free shipping!) from Amazon (Lukeman’s THE PLOT THICKENS and Michael Collins DEATH OF A WRITER). … I have a backlog of books I want to buy, to read.

Someone somewhere within the last day or so explained it all. …

Excerpt from BLIND SUBMISSION by Debra Ginsberg. I can relate in several ways to the book-ish protagonist:

But reading was only part of the thrill that a book represented. I got a dizzy pleasure from the weight and feel of a new book in my hand, a sensual delight from the smell and crispness of the pages. I loved the smoothness and bright colors of their jackets. For me, a stacked, unread pyramid of books was one of the sexiest architectural designs there was. Because what I loved most about books was their promise, the anticipation of what lay between the covers, waiting to be found.

My discussion with Arleen continued in her comments tail. She mentioned King’s EYES OF THE DRAGON (1987) and says she wrote an essay about libraries that sounds a bit like the Ginsberg bit I’d quoted.

I replied:

I once wrote an essay about how I felt about the library that sounded very similar to the bit you quoted, Sal. I can definitely relate.

I adore libraries. I love the stacks. I love the atmosphere. I love the variety. I love feeling like there is all this knowledge and culture and stories galore right here for the taking!

Folks I know with less of a book jones than I have always wonder why I don’t use my libraries more and save the expense (even if it is usually a used-book/Goodwill expense) of buying books. But … well … if I don’t have staff privileges that include forgiveness of fines, if I’m just Joan Public, I run up horrendous overdue charges at libraries. I check out books and then have them sitting around waiting forever to be read. [Auntie K can testify to this ...] Or I forget I have a book. Or I can’t find it when it’s time to return it.

I love my stashes of books because — as the protagonist in BLIND SUBMISSION says — of the potential, the promise, the anticipation. I also figure if I ever rip an Achilles tendon and am laid up for weeks I’ll have all sorts of different things to read, depending on my mood.

I think I may have EYES OF THE DRAGON on the shelf somewhere. I’ll have to look for it.

And read it. :-)

Bookhuggers Anonymous, my name is Sal. I have a book jones.

I have thousands and thousands of books and nowhere to put them. When we moved, we had to find a separate location to keep my books because I couldn’t give them up but we couldn’t possibly keep them in our new home. We had no room.

Even with the spare space, I don’t have enough room on the shelves I have space for to have all the books out. Many, many, many of the books are in boxes. Some of the boxes are adequately labeled: SOFTWARE DESIGN or REF or SFF/T or CKBKS (actually, not too many SFF or CKBKS are in boxes because most of those I have put on shelves). The boxes that are a problem are the ones labeled NFIC or MISC or VERY MISC. My job, and the job I keep putting off day-to-day week-to-week, is to sort those MISC and VERY MISC boxes into something more definitive so that I can say, “Oh, look. Yes. I do have three copies of AMO, AMAS, AMAT & MORE. I can give two of those to the Friends of the Library for their bookshop.”

We have not had all our books in one place for years. The potential for winding up with multiple copies (one shelved here, one shelved there) is great. I am notorious for giving friends copies of books, saying, “I found a duplicate on my shelves and thought you might like it.”

I hate to admit how many different dictionaries and thesauri I’ve come across while unloading (and I’m not through yet) the boxes labeled REF. Deciding to let go of a duplicate Roget’s Thesaurus is relatively simple, especially if it’s a duplicate paperback version, but what if the thesaurus is not Roget’s and is not set out the same and is older, much older …

When my two-years-older brother died five years ago, he divvied up his cash assets and his house between the three surviving sibs, with my younger sibs getting more of the $$$ and me getting fewer $$$ but getting his “stuff” and books (and the chore of clearing out his house for sale). I boxed all his books up and stashed them in storage and then moved them to our book space here when we moved.

His thousands of books and my thousands of books were well-matched. Our SFF collections matched up eerily, the Asimovs, the Poul Andersons, the Ursula K LeGuins. But then there were authors I had no titles for and Case had eight, ten titles written by SFF authors I’d never heard of. He had Analog going back for decades and from there back on microfiche (two microfiche readers, one in case the other didn’t work!) going back to the very beginning of publication.

I had tons of titles he didn’t. He didn’t care much about crafting things, art, child care subjects, gardening, homemaking, writing or cooking. A BOSTON COOKING SCHOOL COOKBOOK and a BETTY CROCKER were what he depended on. I have probably forty or more shelves of cookbooks and boxes and boxes of “community” cookbooks, advertisers’ cookbooks, 110 Ways To Make Rolls, 150 Ways To Cook Potatoes, small pamphlet cookbooks and more.

He certainly didn’t care about Gloria Steinem. Well, he didn’t have her books. No Wendy Wasserstein. No Ephrons. He didn’t have much biography or biology or travel. He had far more physics books than I had, more computer hardware and tech. My computer books were usually software-related, but that made sense. He was the firmware designer and I was the software designer.

We both had copies of FIVE ACRES AND INDEPENDENCE. We both had living off the land books. He had a pamphlet on how to make C4 in your sink. (Why, I don’t know. He had a wide ranging curiosity and probably thought the pamphlet was interesting. …) I had fifty or more Christmas crafts books. In some areas our interests were not in synch and in others, our nonfiction collections were eerily complementary: I had my thick Morrison and Boyd. He had an equally thick inorganic chemistry tome.

I need to sort through all the books. Get rid of the duplicates. Get rid of the spy thrillers I’m not so keen on. Keep the stuff I would some day read. Keep the Walter Jon Williams book Case lent me back when, that I happened to have with me when I bumped into WJW and had him sign … as a surprise for Case.

There’s been a discussion over on misc.writing of Thackeray’s VANITY FAIR, which I’ve never read. I know I have multiple copies … somewhere.

I tried reading a copy online and bleh. won’t work for me. I need to find one of my copies.

Do I have a HARVARD CLASSICS SHELF OF FICTION? I know I have the original 50v. set of HARVARD CLASSICS. VF is in the SHELF OF FICTION.

I probably have a Modern Library edition.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I had something older.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a paperback.

But where? In one of the boxes marked FIC?

Or in one of the boxes marked CLASSICS?

Or maybe in one of the boxes marked MISC or VERY MISC or in a box that’s not marked at all or in a box that got dropped and shuffled so the box is labeled BIOL but has a copy of VF inside?

Book jones. Have I mentioned I have a book jones? The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem.

November 28, 2006

[WR] Updated links on History Reference page for writers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 12:40 am

Updated all links on History Reference page for writers.

November 27, 2006

[WR] Preditors & Editors’ Truly Useful Site Award

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 1:14 am

Received an e-mail yesterday telling me that Preditors & Editors selected for its Truly Useful Site Award for November 2006.



November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Day walkaround

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 10:24 pm

Thanksgiving Day walkaround – a photo tour of the Piers, the newly-reopened Piers 1 1/2, 3 and 5.

The mater familias couldn’t make it to a Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, so we had our Towse Thanksgiving feast yesterday.

Near everyone was there except for our youngest and his big sister, who lives outside Chicago, and her family. We heard from both of them though, so that was cool.

The youngest had Thanksgiving with my New England relatives up in the back of beyond at my cousin’s home, a restored school house. He got back to Boston in time for his first professional standup experience Friday night. The gig was at the Boston comedy club where his sketch comedy troupe has had the stage (with friends and fellow comics) on Friday nights since last May. (“Well, how did it go?” “It went pretty good. …” “No one pulled you offstage with a hook?” “Well, no. We are running the show, after all.”)

My younger brother and his family hosted our Thanksgiving yesterday. YB brined a 24 1/2 pound turkey before baking and carved up a very juicy, tasty bunch o’ turkey. (He’d had a practice run with a sixteen pound turkey on Thanksgiving Day. …) Stuffing. Delish. Ym. Pies. Pumpkin and apple. Birthday cake. Befores. Afters. Whipped cream in my coffee.

Added:We brought the peanut butter-stuffed celery. Yes, I know. We also brought a mixed green salad with the usual mesclun mix you can find pre-mixed. Add toasted pine nuts, tomatoes and a vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, spices of a secret sort, sesame oil. We also brought the (this year not-so) traditional yam/sweet potato dish. This year it was a smashed yam/sweet potato dish made with mashed yam/sweet potatoes, brown sugar, coconut milk, eggs, fresh grated ginger, powdered ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cardamom. We pre-baked the dish and then reheated it at YB, after topping with brown sugar and crunched macadamia nuts. I did like it.

A couple days earlier, on Thanksgiving Day, while YB and his family were feasting on their first turkey, his nibs and I went for a walk down by the bay’s edge. Piers 1 1/2, 3 and 5 had reopened the day before, Wednesday, after thirty months of construction — extensive rehabbing, retrofitting and renovation. Part of the work was the creation of public walking paths along the bay’s edge on the eastern edge of the piers.

We’d had a preview of the rehabbed piers at a SPUR event earlier this year, but there were lots of areas blocked off then because construction was still in progress. I wanted to see how they’d turned out. At the SPUR event we got to see inside the buildings but could not wander around outside much. Thursday we could wander around outside but could just peer in the windows, where construction is still going on.

Click on the thumbnail for the gallery.

The bayside walk comes with hanging flower baskets and benches for sitting. Embedded in the railings are brass plaques with San Francisco-related quotations or historical nuggets.

The piers looked great even though they are not quite done. The interiors of the buildings need more work as well. Worth the wait. Good job to all.

Oh, yes, mustn’t forget. Ever seen a squabble of wild parrots?

Red sky at morning …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 9:30 pm

The day’s grey with splatterings and splashings of rain. The chimes sing in the breeze.

I should’ve known we wouldn’t have another sun shiny day like we’ve been having for the past days. … the sunrise was glorious.

Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.

… There are white caps on the Bay. The rain whips against the windows.

Click on the thumbnail for the morning shots.

Got out on the deck about 6:30a because I could tell the sunrise would be marvelous. The shots were taken with a Nikon CoolPix 5600. The first thirteen were taken with a tripod, but that hampered the shot taking, so I ditched the tripod. The first twenty-seven shots taken with “scene” set at dusk/dawn. Next five taken with “scene” set at “museum,” which means that pressing the “take a picture” button takes a series of pictures at once and then chooses the one with the least jiggle.

The true color of dawn was somewhere between the two variants.

I especially liked this one: Wanderlust.

The day began beautiful and marvelous and continues on despite the white caps, grey skies and drizzle. It’s a wonder anyone wants to live here. This ol’ city is always so grey and foggy and cold.

November 22, 2006

No warranties expressed or implied

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 4:01 am

Today’s cheapest single family home in San Francisco … by far … so far as I (and Curbed SF) can tell.

Sunny Bayview Heights Fixer Bungalow – $299,000

Click on picture for specifics of sales offer.

1 BR 1 BA, built in 1925. 533 sq ft. Attached garage. (Remember potential buyers: parking is worth a bundle in San Francisco.)

There are some visible copper pipes and some galvanized. 40 amp electrical service.

Lot is 2718 sq ft or ~ 1/20th of an acre.

Property to be sold in “As-Is” condition. No warranties expressed or implied.

You might want to drive by first. Tour the neighborhood. Check out the crime stats.

Write up doesn’t mention that there was a police “death report” [PDF file] for the address in March 2005.

California law states that that death will need to be disclosed (any deaths on a property within four three years of sale … I think San Francisco hasn’t extended that window) before the house is sold, but just soze you know up front.

Added: Property is a probate sale, which probably explains the “death report.” Check if it concerns you.

… and there’s this from 2004:

On October 30, at 5:34 p.m., Bayview officers made a traffic stop on a
vehicle at Oakdale and Ingalls, and as the officer approached the driver he
recognized him as having an active arrest warrant and the driver gunned the
car and took off at a high rate of speed. The vehicle could be seen
driving through numerous stop signs as it fled from the officers, and it
was lost in the area. Moments later, different officers located the
vehicle parked at Jamestown and Gilroy, and then saw the suspect running
from the area. The officers attempted to arrest the suspect, but he took a
fighting stance and resisted their efforts. The suspect was eventually
arrested and told the officers he had been running because he thought that
he was wanted for having just “hit (his) old lady.” The suspect was booked
for his outstanding warrant and new charges of flight from an officer,
reckless driving, probation violation, and resisting arrest. The suspect,
living on the 200 block of Harbor Road, is a well known Bayview drug
dealer, and had over $1,100.00 in currency on his person. The currency was
booked for a follow-up investigation by our Narcotics Detail (041 242 463).

Jamestown and Gilroy is like right there.

Want to know what goes on in the Bayview police division? Go here and read the site. Be sure to check out the community newsletters. (They’re a bit behind with getting them up on the Web.)

$300K for a single family dwelling in this city is amazing.

This is a city where the median price for an existing single family home was $840K in October 2006. Average price was $1,160,860.


Median/average in District 10, where the house on Gilroy is located, were $707,500 and $689,849, respectively as of October 2006.

[nod of thanks for the heads up to Curbed SF for this blog entry]

November 20, 2006

[URL] NNDB: Tracking the entire world

Filed under: URL — Towse @ 11:24 pm

NNDB: Tracking the entire world:

What is NNDB?

NNDB is an intelligence aggregator that tracks the activities of people we have determined to be noteworthy, both living and dead. Superficially, it seems much like a ‘Who’s Who’ where a noted person’s curriculum vitae is available (the usual information such as date of birth, a biography, and other essential facts.)

But it mostly exists to document the connections between people, many of which are not always obvious. A person’s otherwise inexplicable behavior is often understood by examining the crowd that person has been associating with.

Eventually, we will have synopses and analyses of creative works by the people in the database, including their books, films, and recordings.

Found this while I was helping someone answer a question about a Michael Korda quote. She had two Michael Kordas on her radar: one born in 1919 “who was a famous publisher” and one born in 1933 “a novelist.” Which Michael Korda said those words?

Well, the Michael Korda I knew of was the former Editor-in-Chief, Simon & Schuster, who retired last year at age 72. Korda has also written fiction and non-fiction, which I knew because of titles I handled back in the day when I was worrying about library book stock.

I gave her some links and told her I thought her quote was from Michael Korda (1933- ) and, specifically, more than likely from a book he’d written titled SUCCESS! How Every Man and Woman Can Achieve It (1977).

I went off wandering trying to find this other Michael Korda who also had something to do with publishing.

Never found him, but I did find NNDB, which seems from a quick trial run to be a useful tool.

The quote she was trying to pin down?

Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility. In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have is the ability to take responsibility.

The fog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 10:17 pm

The fog lumbers in on giant St. Bernard paws.

Container ships sound their horns as they maneuver slowly through the water. Basso profondo.

Watch out. ‘ware. I can’t see you. I’m coming through.

A long echoing blast sounds from the other side of the bay.

Warning. I’m here and moving. Here I am again. Warning.

A third ship sounds. A fourth.

I can see the piers through the fog and can just barely see a ship passing close to the piers. I can just see the end of the bridge as it comes into downtown. Can’t see the rest of the bay, the islands.

The bulk of our fog usually turns north toward Vallejo, so the fog in the channels near Alcatraz on the way into and out of the Golden Gate must be really dense.

Time for a walk.

[BLOG] separated by a common language

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:20 pm

separated by a common languageObservations on British and American English by an American linguist in the UK

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