Towse: views from the hill

August 23, 2007

Happy trails

Filed under: life,travel — Towse @ 4:07 pm

Until we meet again …

August 22, 2007

Packed. Can you believe it?

Filed under: books,food,life,San Francisco,travel — Towse @ 12:23 am

His nibs is relieved that I’m not doing my usual last minute thing.

Everything’s packed except the notebooks, pens and reading material. I always pack too many notebooks (well, I need a blank notebook for trip notes, one for note-notes, one for to-do thoughts and lists, one for what-will-I-do-with-myself-when-we-get-home plans).

And I tend to pack too many books ’cause I don’t know if I’ll be wanting to read mysteries or history or Middlemarch or self-awareness or Dalai Lama or …

Auntie K shows up tomorrow afternoon and the plan is for his nibs to help her lug all her stuff down here and then for them to meet up with me and we’ll swop tools for her boyz (picked up from my dad’s workshop yesterday) from my Mini to her car trunk. Following that chore, she gets the grande tour of the book stacks. Then she comes back here and settles in.

A walk down hill to dinner at Firenze By Night (a first for all of us) and then we’ll tuck under the covers while visions of sugar plums and all that.

Thursday morning we kiss the cat (if we can drag her out from under the bed), wave bye-bye and head off to the airport in the shuttle.

When we get back, The Book pops up to the top of the priority list.

My clear-the-house sort-the-books organize-the-bookmarks procrastinating projects will be hobbled and put out to pasture.

Onward and upward.


August 17, 2007

Off again off again riggetty jig

Filed under: life,travel — Tags: , — Towse @ 6:43 am

Laura doesn’t talk anymore about her plans to be away since the time earlier this year that her home was busted into while she was away (after she’d mentioned her away trip on her blog).

But … not only do I have a guard cat, I have my guard Auntie K who makes sure that the raccoons (and less vicious miscreants) don’t DARE step foot inside the place while we’re gone.

And we will be gone.

Off next week (Thursday to be exact) to visit a third cousin and her husband and the third cousin’s mom (who is my second cousin once removed — is that right? I can never get it straight without checking the genealogy sites.) in Harrogate, N Yorks.

In clearer terms, without the second cousin once removed terminology, we’ll be visiting Jen, the granddaughter of the woman who was my grandfather’s cousin, and her family and her mum, who also lives in Harrogate these days.

After Harrogate, we’ll be off walking with the clan for a bit, then to London for a few days of respite before we head home. Three weeks in all.

I’m sure you’re sobbing in your microbrew beer just thinking of the upcoming lack of Sal.

I’ve been telling Auntie K to make sure that (if she’s having a huge sleepover) her guests know that the Bay Bridge will be closed Labor Day weekend.

I’ve also been telling her that there’s a huge blowout planned for Barry Bonds (baseball player — for the non-USAns — someone who’s alleged to have got his recent title record nefariously through use of steroids) at Justin Herman Plaza, just down the Hill and over thataway, at noon on Friday.

Sometimes I leave notes for Auntie K detailing in great and gory detail all the events that are happening while she’s here. We’ll see if I have the stamina to do so this time. Loads of stuff happening, but then, why the lists anyway? Auntie K has always been very sharp about finding her amusements while we’re gone.

The trip? Well, after we hang with the relations in Harrogate, we meet up with our walkers in Manchester, then off to hills of Conwy and the Conwy valley and over to the Isle of Anglesey and off to the sod of Dublin and walking to Tara and from Derry into the Inishowen peninsula and up the next day to the Giants’ Causeway. Well. You get the idea. We’re in a rigid inflatable recreating the journey of St Columba from Derry to Crinan, across the Irish Sea (Iona, I’ve always wanted to set foot on Iona) and then Loch Lomond.

The walkers drop us off in Glasgow and we take the train down to London to putter around where we’ve been and where we’ve never been and then home again home again riggetty jig.

Loads to happen between now and then, though. The wedding of a lovely girl, whom we’ve known since she was a sprout, on Sunday. The older younger one is coming over with his partner on Saturday to sort through the SFF that I’ve put in boxes as up for grabs. I need to check to see if they’re staying the night and make sure they know that we have a wedding celebration to get to Sunday afternoon up at Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Keb Mo at the Fillmore on Monday. Lunch with school chums from forty years ago down in the south bay on Monday as well. Maybe I’ll stop by the ‘rents place and do some packing and boxing as long as I’m down there.

When am I going to pack for the trip? That’s the question, isn’t it?

Checked the tread on my walking shoes, so that’s good to go. Other than that? Oh. My. So much to do. So little done.

August 16, 2007

The noble Duke of York (an update on the über-project)

Filed under: architecture,life,San Francisco — Towse @ 1:08 am

The noble Duke of York
He had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill and
Marched them down again

The place up the hill has been thoroughly gutted, and now the putting of things back together begins. …

The latest phase of the über-project, the update for the dainty abode uphill from us, began yesterday as they began prepping for the dig out of the lower level “storage area” beneath the garage.

How are they proceeding?

Well, the jackhammering noises I’d been hearing last week turn out to have been workers cutting a BIG hole in the floor of the garage. Yesterday, I could hear a skip loader moving something into the garage and backing out beep-beep-beep and then back in again and out beep-beep-beep. That something turned out to be a multi-part conveyor belt which is now set up in the garage with the end of the conveyor belt angled through the hole in the floor and down to the dirt level underneath.

Today the workers were digging out under the garage level and loading the excavated dirt and rocks onto the conveyor belt, which conveyed the debris to the garage level, where it was whisked away to whatever dust bin they’ve set up for it.

We won’t mention the eight-inch-or-so diameter rock that mysteriously appeared in the sidewalk at the bottom of our front steps. Oh, no.

I decided not to work in our little patch of city-owned alley-yard while the guys are digging and the conveyor belt is chugging. Don’t want to get conked by rolling stones or the moss attached thereto.

And when you’re up, you’re up
And when you’re down, you’re down
And when you’re only half way up
You’re neither up nor down

Writing: A writer’s treasure chest

Filed under: internet resources for writers,life,webstuff — Towse @ 1:00 am

Lifehacker mentioned the writing links compendium over at on Saturday.

(Mega thanks to Grapes2.0 for the hedz-up. I wouldn’t have known what hit me. …)

Hits have soared (from hundreds a day to thousands a day) and I’ve been feeling like my e-house is a bit of a mess and in no state for the Queen to come visiting.

Yesterday and today, I’ve been spending time click-clicking through links, dusting, mopping and putting flowers out for the visitors. I’ll do so again tomorrow, being as the contractor guys are paying us visits this week and I’m padlocked inside until they’re gone.

August 9, 2007

Hammer. Saw. Bang. Buzz

Filed under: architecture,life,San Francisco — Towse @ 6:42 pm

Remember this pic? You should. It’s the one from up in the upperleft corner there, only larger and cartoonized. (Click on it and you’ll see it even larger.)

(Man, I love the cartoon effect at pikifx.)

(“Obviously, Sal.”)

See the terracotta colored multilevel building up there that looks like it’s just under Coit Tower? (It’s not, there’s still the hike up the Filbert Steps from Montgomery Street to the Tower.)

That’s the neighbors’ place. Yup. Those neighbors. The ones who are “remodeling” their zillion dollar house to make it more home-like whilst still retaining that quintessential Gardner Dailey look.

Ugly building, I think. One of those buildings with that — je ne sais quoi — perhaps “midcentury box” look, but then I’m no Gardner Dailey fan. Obviously. Some people are, hence the need to preserve the “look” of the building above all else.

Dailey originally built the house in 1960 for Mrs. Henry P. Russell (aka Helen Crocker — yes, those Crockers — Russell). The place is ~10K sq ft and has seven car parking. The building currently has four levels plus a level of parking, but is soon to have a cellar/storage area added beneath the garage level.

Here’s what the neighbors’ contractor guys have been up to.

Note that the top floor is now missing except for a couple walls. I don’t know why they had to rip the entire roof and topping floor out, perhaps they needed to strengthen the roof to support the kitchen and dining area they plan to add up there for entertaining.

The neighbors’ plans call for changing the windows, digging out a storage area under the garage, adding a small elevator to get things from the garage down to the storage area, bringing the rear fire escape up to code by adding a landing pad and path that will go down and connect with the walking path, adding a roof deck with kitchen and dining area plus re-doing the insides and what-all. iirc, they plan to have two floors for family, one for visitors and one for office space when they’re done plus the garage level and the new storage level.

Note that the windows are all gone, as well as most of the interior walls.

Note that I’ll probably be having hammer saw bang buzz for the next eighteen months as they finish tearing it up and then put it back together.

And when it is all done, the house will still look like a midcentury box.


Here’s hoping the interior and exterior changes are just what the neighbors hope for because by-golly they are paying a pretty penny for the effort. Good luck to them. (Invite us to the housewarming, OK?)

August 8, 2007 reprise

Filed under: app,photographs — Towse @ 4:48 am

The garden Buddha morphed with “cartoon” special effect. I like too. Has a Japanese woodblock print feel to it.

Image Touched Up By


Filed under: books,factoid,history — Towse @ 3:41 am

Today is the sixteenth anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee posting the first Web pages about his hypertext project that eventually evolved into the World Wide Web.

I mentioned that I’d come across my copy of WEAVING THE WEB yesterday, inscribed “To Sal” by Tim B-L, my hero.

PJ Parks, who used to have a very readable blog but now no longer does, wrote that she has a copy too and talked about ENQUIRE WITHIN UPON EVERYTHING, a Victorian factoid book and the motivation for TB-L to name his proto-WWW project ENQUIRE.

Today, while sorting books and packing up boxes, I found a copy — well, not the Brit version, mine is the American version: INQUIRE WITHIN FOR ANYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW, or Over Three Thousand Seven Hundred Facts WORTH KNOWING. Particularly intended as a book for Family Reference on Subjects connected with Domestic Economy, and containing the Largest and most Valuable Collection of Useful Information that has ever yet been published. INQUIRERS ARE REFERRED TO THE INDEX. (New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, No. 18 Ann Street. 1858 [maybe 1856, the numeral didn't print clearly])

The book has all =sorts= of useful (and quaint and dated and sometimes flat out wrong) stuff.


794. YULECAKE — Take one pound of fresh butter, one pound of sugar, one pound and a half of flour, two pounds of currants, a glass of brandy, one pound of sweetmeats, two ounces of sweet almonds, ten eggs, a quarter of an ounce of allspice and a quarter of an ounce of cinnamon. Melt the butter to a cream, and put in the sugar. Stir it till quite light, adding the allspice and pounded cinnamon; in a quarter of an hour, take the yolks of the eggs, and work them two or three at a time; and the whites of the same must by this time be beaten into a strong snow, quite ready to work in. As the paste must not stand to chill the butter, or it will be heavy, work in the whites gradually, then add the orange-peel, lemon, and citron, cut in fine stripes [sic], and currants which must be mixed in well with the sweet almonds; then add the sifted flour and glass of brandy. Bake this cake in a tin hoop, in a hot oven, for three hours, and put twelve sheets of paper under it to keep it from burning.


2004. Why does a lamp smoke, when the wick is cut unevenly? — Because the points of the jagged edge (being very easily separated from the wick) load the flame with more carbon that [sic] it can consume; and as the heat of the flame is greatly diminished by these little bits of wicks, it is unable to consume even the usual quantity of smoke. The same applies when the wick is turned up too high.

Some of the stuff in INQUIRE WITHIN is word-for-word what’s in ENQUIRE WITHIN. The scarf washing article above, f’rex, is word-for-word except that the title is “To Wash China Crêpe Scarves, &c.” in ENQUIRE.

Other bits of information (the one about lamp smoke, f’rex) are not covered by ENQUIRE WITHIN at all.

All-in-all fun stuff. You can see why TB-L called his project ENQUIRE — there’s more than a bit of resemblance to the random collection of stuff on the Web.

How prescient of him.

Project Gutenberg has made a copy of ENQUIRE WITHIN UPON EVERYTHING available. Did TB-L even dream sixteen years ago that his nifty little project would some day offer up ENQUIRE WITHIN UPON EVERYTHING for anyone with Web access?

Thanks, TB-L!

August 7, 2007

The food pornographer

Filed under: blog,food — Towse @ 7:57 pm

Need to go fix breakfast/lunch/whatever and step back away from blogs like The food pornographer

Filed under: app,photographs — Towse @ 6:43 pm

New app: fx for your pix.

The garden Buddha morphed with “oil paint” special effect. Large brush. I like.

Image Touched Up By

[pikifx snitched from Sour Grapes' Google Reader items]

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