Towse: views from the hill

December 16, 2006

A happy birthday to the uncle who used to take me fishing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 6:03 am

… and who shares a birthday with his nibs.

We celebrated with a wild night … home.

Baked kabocha squash filled with butter/brown sugar/nutmeg.

Spiced lamb sausages from Little City Meats on Stockton with grilled onions, egg noodles.

Dessert was (for the birthday boy — by request) baked Granny Smith apple stuffed with butter/brown sugar/nutmeg, served warm with French vanilla ice cream and (for moi) French vanilla ice cream with a splash of (non-vintage … not the Dow ’83 sitting on the kitchen counter! not the Dow ’83!) port.


We had a very nice birthday.

We hope the uncle who used to take me fishing (and his paramour) did as well.

December 15, 2006

Today’s the day for hooks at Miss Snark’s Crapometer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:14 pm

Miss Snark is opening up the Crapometer for the fourth time in history today.

Today’s grist to be analyzed for crap-or-not (hence the exercise’s name: Crapometer) is 250-wd hooks for your latest agnum mopus.

Miss Snark will critique all submitted 250-wd-or-less hooks on the blog in upcoming days. If she likes your hook, she’ll ask for a 750-wd pitch, which she will also critique on the blog.

Rules and regs

MUY IMPORTANTE: The Crapometer opens today (Friday) at 8 pm EST. You have twelve hours to send in your hook. Crapometer closes promptly at 8 am EST Saturday.

NOTE ALSO MUY IMPORTANTE: Miss Snark is verrrry particular about word count. She doesn’t mind you sending in 10 words if the max allowed is 250, but if you send in 260, you won’t get a critique. Miss Snark uses Word to count the words.

Have at it.

Even if you don’t submit a hook for critique, read the blog in the upcoming days for an education in how-to-write-hooks.

Words from Bucky

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 6:43 pm

If success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do …

How would I be?

What would I do?

– R. Buckminster Fuller

[found at The Buckminster Fuller Institute]

[for Paula] Important Beanie Baby news!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 6:13 pm

Today’s Chronicle chronicles the strange mystery of the Beanie Baby bandit of Piedmont.

Beanie Babies! Kitties! If only there’d been cupcakes with buttercream frosting in the story, the bluebirds would’ve been singing in the peppermint trees!

(Too bad the crimes didn’t occur in Bakersfield or Barstow for even more maximo alliteration!)

Ruth Asawa

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 5:57 am

Took the bus down to Market Street and caught the N-Judah over to the de Young today to see the Ruth Asawa retrospective.

Lovely. The wire work is fascinating, peaceful, mesmerizing. The museum had the lights set so the shadows through the wires fell on the floor and bent and danced across the walls as the air moved the sculptures.

Some of her ink drawings are amazing. The one of her son is pattern on pattern on pattern with very little actual drawing of hand or foot or head, just pattern and lack of pattern and the emptiness between.

Asawa’s retrospective consists not just of her wire sculptures (both crocheted and tied and bundled) but also her notes from her time at Black Mountain College (NC), a documentary film, a collection of her paper works and photographs taken of her and her work by her longtime friend photographer Imogen Cunningham.

We discovered, watching the documentary, that the fountain at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Union Square, which we’d ridden by on the bus earlier in the day, was one of her public commissions. (an in-process view of its construction)

We’d seen some of her wire sculptures in the elevator lobby of the museum tower back a couple months ago and were excited to hear there’d be an entire exhibit.

The exhibit runs through 28 January 2007.

Update: Asawa is a sculptor, an artist, an honored arts activist and the mother of six. I’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to lately. No time to do what needs doing? Where was Asawa’s time?

December 14, 2006

[BLOG] Pepys as of this day in the Year of Our Lord Sixteen Hundred And Sixty Three

Filed under: blog,URL — Towse @ 3:42 am

A link on Sour Grapes and then my search (undereducated ‘r’ me) for a translation for “AVT DOCE, AVT DISCE, AVT DISCEDE” took me back to a place I’ve been before: the Diary of Samuel Pepys, a very entertaining blog which Grapes hisself (iirc) told me about many many many moons ago.

Pepys’ diary is a blog which follows Pepys’ diary day-by-day with clicks to the appropriate “whatever is he talking about?” explanations.

Mrs. Pepys, btw, seems not to be an easy keeper.

Today’s entry (Sunday 13 December 1663) includes the following (run-on-sentences-r-Pepys) bit.

To church, where after sermon home, and to my office, before dinner, reading my vowes, and so home to dinner, where Tom came to me and he and I dined together, my wife not rising all day, and after dinner I made even accounts with him, and spent all the afternoon in my chamber talking of many things with him, and about Wheately’s daughter for a wife for him, and then about the Joyces and their father Fenner, how they are sometimes all honey one with another and then all turd, and a strange rude life there is among them.

Love that “sometimes all honey one with another and then all turd, and a strange rude life there is among them.”

Dysfunctional families ‘r’ us.

RIP Leslie Harpold

Filed under: writers — Tags: — Towse @ 2:59 am

I’ve been spinning through the Web, reading reminiscences of Leslie Harpold since I first found out a few hours ago through a post at SFist that she had died some time last week.

What can I say?

I hope Heaven is everything she’d imagined it could be.

She was a fine writer and, judging from the stories and posts from her many friends and acquaintances, someone I would’ve liked to have known.

December 13, 2006

[URL] Boy stuff. Girl stuff. Young stuff. Old stuff. Really!

Filed under: URL — Towse @ 9:23 pm

Ev pointed me to Microsoft adCenter Labs which has this nifty beta tool, Demographics Prediction that alleges to predict “a customer’s age, gender, and other demographic information according to his or her online behavior—that is, from search queries and webpage views.”

Want to take it for a spin? Pop in a search or a URL and well, here, let me show you.

Say someone heads off to Miss Snark’s blog: What does that foray out on the Web tell the predictors at the Labs about the person?

Gender Unknown with following probability:

:0.51 male
:0.49 female
Age: <18 Oriented with following distribution: [distribution set out]

Seems the usual <18 demographic should clock in at 9.8%, but for Miss Snark clocks in at 25.06%, the highest percentage of any of the age groups.

Try another: Preditors & Editors:

:0.44 male
:0.56 female
Age: 18-24. but hard to call, really. the <18 demographic clocks in at 20.34%, the 18-24 at 21.22%, well, you get the idea. The distribution is pretty even.

So what does this all do for you? If you’re someone looking to place ads for guy stuff aimed at the 18-24 age bracket, it behooves you to put those ads on Web sites that attract 18-24 year old guys.

Ev has been playing around to see how wildly he can skew the results by searching for things that might be obviously girl stuff or boy stuff. His most skewed was “prom dress” which clocked in with 82% female.

I searched /brangelina/ and /brad pitt/ and /angelina jolie/. Amazed I was to find out that the /brad pitt/ search was a more-likely female search and the /angelina jolie/ search was a more-likely male search.

/ethnic beads/ came up 83% female.

Lars mentions in the comments tail that a search for “Ruby on Rails” is 93% male.


[ref: evhead is tinkering]

December 12, 2006

’tis the season

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 7:47 am

Rabbi gets hate mail over airport Christmas trees
Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:18pm ET

News article from Reuters today

SEATTLE (Reuters) – A local rabbi is receiving hate mail and angry phone calls after Seattle airport officials took down its Christmas trees in response to his request to include a giant Menorah in the airport’s holiday decorations, his lawyer said on Monday.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport removed its Christmas trees on Saturday after Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky threatened to sue the Port of Seattle, which operates the airport, if it did not include a menorah into its holiday decorations.

The rabbi works on behalf of Chabad-Lubavitch, a branch of Hasidic Judaism and an Orthodox Jewish movement.

The removal of the trees sparked a public outcry over what some say was political correctness run amok and part of a trend to adopt a secular tone toward Christmas.


Update: Trees return. Whatever … How traditional. Plastic trees.

Do you agree with Christmas?


Do you believe that Christian signs of the season are better set up somewhere other than taxpayers’ property with taxpayers’ money in the face of taxpayers who are not Christian and will never be?

I do.

Political correctness gone amuck?

How hard is it to realize that there are an increasing number of Americans who are not Christian and, perhaps, all the fa-la-la-la-la just grates on their nerves?

Sure, put up those little trees at the Frontier check-in counter. That’s a private display.

Should our tax dollars be used to put up Christmas displays?

I don’t believe Christmas displays should be foisted on the non-believers (and paid for by believers and non-believers) just because the majority of people here believe.

We are not a Christian nation. Our bills, mind you, say something about “in God we trust” but, even so, they don’t say “Jesus died for our sins.”

Are you Jain? Are you Buddhist? Are you … anything but a Christmas-tree Christian? How many of us-you-them are there?

Ditch the trees.


I have a tree in my house. I don’t need a tree at City Hall to reconfirm whatever religious leanings I may have.

… but hate mail?!??!

That’s weird.

Judging from dealings I’ve had with people claiming hate mail and judging from dealings I’ve had with people claiming brutality and other weirdnesses, who have turned out to be perhaps not the world’s most honest folk, I’d love to see what sort of “hate mail” our rabbi has had.

n.b. I’m not saying he didn’t have hate mail, mind you, but maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.

My days back in the days tell me that people fib … sometimes.

It’s all grist, eh?

News! Arctic clear for summer sailing by 2040

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 6:38 am


Published online: 11 December 2006
Arctic clear for summer sailing by 2040: Models predict rapid decline of sea ice
by: Amanda Leigh Haag

New climate simulations offer a dire forecast for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice, predicting that by the year 2040, the Arctic Ocean will be almost free of ice during late summer.

Some projections from climate centres worldwide have suggested previously that Arctic sea ice could vanish in September, at the end of the summer melt, by as early as 2050. But the most recent calculations, performed on the Community Climate System Model at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, predict the most rapid and imminent decline yet.

article continues

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