Towse: views from the hill

January 25, 2008

29 things to be happy about / Yes, it’s all doom and gloom and war and global warming and Bush. Except when it’s not

Filed under: journalism,life,San Francisco — Towse @ 9:20 pm

Mark Morford on 29 things to be happy about / Yes, it's all doom and gloom and war and global warming and Bush. Except when it's not

Number Two is especially brilliant.

What things are you happy about?

Me? I’m happy our leaks are fixed and all this winter rain and storming has produced nary a drop in a bucket.

January 24, 2008

Five in the fridge, tagged by Paula

Filed under: food,life — Towse @ 5:41 pm

Five in the fridge. Tagged by Paula.

We ate out last night: winemaker’s dinner at Spruce Restaurant on Sacramento. Walked down to Sansome. Caught the 10 to Sacramento. Caught the 1 California at Sacramento and rode allz the way to California and Spruce. Walked up Spruce a block, hung a right. Spruce Restaurant is between Locust and Spruce on Sacramento. Took us forty minutes door-to-door, which made us half an hour early. We hung out in the bar.

Dinner was delish. Klaus-Peter Keller was in America for the first time. He provided eight different German wines. Dade Thieriot (of DeeVine wines, which was sponsoring Keller and the dinner) brought two old Rieslings from his cellar. Well, more about all that later. So. No dinner at home last night.

Dinner on Tuesday was at La Trappe (corner of Columbus and Greenwich) because I had a hankering for their moules frites and they aren’t open on Mondays so I had to wait. Moules. Frites. Koningshoeven La Trappe Quadrupel. Probably more about that later too. So. No dinner at home since Monday.

Here’s the fridge (after that long explanation)

Messy, eh? The instant coffee in the back is for a frequent guest. Lots of leftovers. We had dinner guests on Saturday. And bits and pieces from other meals which, when the stars align, come together for another meal. Not tonight, though. Tonight is Good Eats and Zinfandel with ZAP over at Fort Mason.

Here, front and center, though, is evidence of my split personality. [1] Trader Joe’s Heavy Whipping Cream. The best when you’re making scrambled eggs or omelets.

Two shelves down? Trader Joe’s 1% milk, which I put in my mug of espresso, which I drink as I’m eating the fat-laden eggs. Cheese on the eggs too, did I mention? Sometimes bacon too. Oh, noze! Oh, yesss!

… on the mornings I’m not having oatmeal (real oatmeal, the kind you cook on the stove and let sit for three minutes to firm up) with raisins and 1% milk.

[2] Here’s the 1% milk I mentioned. The yellow dish has bacon fat from bacon cooked for something and saved. Sometimes I fry the potato skin from the night before’s baked potato in bacon fat and serve with egg for breakfast. The red dish right behind it has duck fat for similar fattery. The 1% milk, though, is good for me.

The bottled water in the back has been there for months. We’re tap-water people. San Francisco’s public water comes straight from the Sierras. That’s why we dammed up Hetch Hetchy back a hundred years or so after all. Might as well drink the water. The dam’s not coming down.

The Trader Joe’s grapefruit juice is for the days his nibs has to leave for work at 7:10A and doesn’t have time for a leisurely breakfast and his usual grapefruit dismantling.

[3] Fish sauce, just soze you know we’re Californians.

[4] Salumi from Boccalone. Don’t know if I mentioned that the older younger guy and his partner gave his nibs a 3-month subscription to Boccalone’s Tasty Salted Pig Parts club. We go by 2d and 4th Saturdays of the month and pick up a small box with TSPPs. This Saturday we’re due for more and we haven’t finished the last. (Evidence above.)

And so good for you! Chris Cosentino (he of Incanto Restaurant, where we pick the box up, and Boccalone and, of course, Offal Good) tells us that pork is the new vegetable.

Not Paula’s idea of terrific, I think, but there you go.

[5] Top shelf needs restocking. Currently one bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and one of Chardonnay. Room for three more bottles. Next shelf again shows our Trader Joe’s dependence. Eggs. Sour cream. Cottage cheese. Crumbled bleu cheese. Also non-TJ cut onion, cut lemon, some other cheese (bleu variety).

The lower drawers are filled with veggies from Chinatown and mixed greens from Costco. The freezer is filled with frozen stuff. A pint of coffee ice cream takes about three months to get through. By the end it’s crystally and only good for putting in the morning espresso.

Oh, and for those who wonder, yes, there are a lot of zip-lock bags in that fridge. We wash and reuse the zip-lock bags, unless they’ve been used for holding meats, so we’re not quite as dismissive of “where do plastics come from, eh?” as it may seem.

And that’s the refrigerator of Sal and five things therein.


January 22, 2008

What a waste. How much did this cost?

Filed under: life,politics,San Francisco — Towse @ 10:02 pm

We received our primary absentee voter ballots in the mail ten days or more ago. The ballots were the “unaffiliated” or whatever it is non-partisan ballots.

Well, we’d both requested to vote in the Democratic primary. What’s up with this? So we waited. And waited. And finally called the Registrar at the end of last week to ask what’s up and were told “Oh. The Democratic absentee ballots are just getting mailed.”

OK. So this means we got one ballot for the propositions and one ballot for the primary. That doesn’t make much sense but whatever …

Today we got our Democratic absentee ballots in the mail … along with a note that our previous ballots have been canceled and won’t be counted and we should tear them up and dispose of them.

Turns out the sharp as a tack folks down at the Registrar sent out who-knows-how-many unaffiliated non-partisan ballots to decline-to-state absentee voters who’d requested Democratic primary ballots. They then had to enter all the barcodes for the ballots that had been sent in error so that the system won’t count them, write up a nice note, print up the extra ballot work and … send out Democratic ballots to those voters.

How much is this flub going to cost?

And whose watch did it happen on?

Enquiring minds …

Letter from Birmingham Jail

Filed under: history,politics — Tags: , , — Towse @ 3:38 am

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Day, I reprise a view from the Hill.

Read the post and the Letter from Birmingham Jail. (the “letter” on the blog post is 404).

January 21, 2008

Duende Travel

Filed under: design,travel,webstuff — Towse @ 6:34 am

Duende Travel

Coming along, eh?

Pretty pictures. Content. Near to finished except for “useful information” and “links.” The “booking form” is off to Peter for vetting.

Paying forward.

Personal blurb: Peter Watson and Duende Travel are like the best. The food and wine are always great. There’s a lot of thought behind the itinerary.

There are gem moments: The hotel bar in Derry (North Ireland) — just John Hume, his nibs and me. He’d sung Danny Boy to all of us during his lecture, but the others had gone back to rooms or whatever. Would you go back to your room while John Hume was hanging out? Or would you hang out too?

Drizzly picnic lunch in the ruins on Iona (Scotland).

Drying out from a soaking in the rain in a sheepherder’s hut in Andalucia (Spain).

Petrarch’s last home in Arquà Petrarca (Italy) and his cat’s skeleton … maybe …

Walking in van Gogh’s footsteps in Arles (France).

Hiking up the slopes of Vulcano (Sicily).

The Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin. (died and gone to Heaven)

… So many memories. So many good times.

Peter cares about where he takes you. He wants to make sure you understand the locale and the people. And the food. And the wine. And the history.

The walks are memorable. The views, the food, the wine, the settings, the memories are sublime.

‘nough said? There’s a reason I’m fussing over his Web site. …

January 17, 2008

The Library of Congress Adds Photos To Flickr, Encourages Tagging

Filed under: blog,history,photographs — Towse @ 3:21 am

The Library of Congress Adds Photos To Flickr, Encourages Tagging

This is very very cool news.

[via Laughing Squid, natch.]

January 16, 2008

Daily Kos: Books for the End of the World As We Know It

Filed under: blog,books — Towse @ 7:24 am

Daily Kos: Steering into the skid: Books for the End of the World.

Be sure to read the comments.

January 15, 2008

Looking very grumpy …

Filed under: culture,food,life,San Francisco — Towse @ 7:04 am

Went to a Vintners’ Club event at the Bankers’ Club on 08Jan. … a pinot tasting.


We went because his nibs lurves pinot noir and because David Bruce was going to speak.

One of his nibs’ students at UCSB (who grew up just a stone skip from the bucolic ville we used to call home) is someone with whom we still hang out and whose ballpark tickets HipLiz sometimes buys.

This guy, as a teenager, spent his weekends at his dermatologist’s Santa Cruz mountains home (dermatologist being Dr. David), digging dirt to plant the vines that became David Bruce’s foray into pinot making.

Here’s me looking very grumpy … ah… focussed.

Look at those glasses! We had twelve pinot noirs to taste. They were lined up and poured before we came in: six up, six down.

I am such a naïf. I could say, “Here are my top three. Here is my least favorite.”

Ask me to rate the intermediate eight wines, given forty-five minutes?

No can do.

But we had fun. …

Each person (who wanted) sent in their scores.

Each table put together their tasting notes.

The guy clockwise plus one was the winemaker for one of the wines being tasted (Domaine Chandon Reserve. Russian River Valley) and served as table chair.

I’d rated his wine [2] but the accumulated crowd wasn’t so generous.

The experience was interesting. What was really interesting was looking at the accumulated scores. Here’s a top scorer: five people rated it #1; five people rated it #2; six people rated it #12.


It really is all about what you like in a wine.


So for the Vintners’ Club events, you rate the wines you’re tasting with no regard to what your spouse, best friend or most erudite wine snob might think.

Then you go ’round the table and seat#2 says, “This was my favorite wine because …” and everyone else goes round and says “Well … this is what I thought of the wine …”

Next person (seat #3) says, “This was my favorite wine because …” (or my least favorite wine or my second favorite wine because someone else already mentioned my favorite wine.) …

… until all the twelve wines have been discussed.

David Bruce (the gentleman on the left in the photo)… scored highest when the overall wine scores were totted up, and well he should.

We had a splendid time.

Afterwards, we said farewell to the amazing views from the Bankers Club and said farewell to our co-conspirators and headed up hill and home, stopping off at Boccadillos on Montgomery for some tasty pig parts before we walked the rest of the way … home

January 13, 2008

Barrymore’s A Christmas Carol — mp3

Filed under: culture,life,URL — Towse @ 5:15 am

Every Christmas as the younger guys were growing up, we listened to Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge on an old family record (later xfered to cassette tape the year I gave a tape copy to each of my living siblings).

The older younger guy’s partner had heard about this tradition but the two of them were never over for Christmas Eve and he only knew of the practice from being subjected to “a blot of mustard, a bit of undigested beef” sorts of “God bless us. Every one!” riffs.

Christmas Eve 2006 they stayed with us (so we could all head off the next day to my younger brother’s home for Christmas festivities) but that year we couldn’t track down a sound system to play the tape and didn’t have a record player in the house to play the record.

Finally, this last just past Christmas, the older younger one’s partner finally was over for Christmas Eve and got to sit down and listen en famille to the Barrymore do his Scrooge.

And a wonderful Scrooge he is.

Just got a note that the older younger guy’s partner had found a Barrymore Christmas Carol at the Internet Archive.

And there it is! The Christmas Carol I’ve listened to every Christmas Eve since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Barrymore’s A Christmas Carol — mp3

The Web is a wonder. …

(God bless us. Every one!)

January 11, 2008

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors

Filed under: app,design,photographs,travel,webstuff — Towse @ 11:00 pm

The image cannot be displayed, because it contains errors

Seems Firefox was complaining because some of the .jpgs Duende sent — which I was trying to add to the site — were in CMYK (print) instead of RGB (screen display). Makes sense. Duende’d sent the photos used in prior years’ brochures.

Turns out ’tis simple enough to pull the .jpg into Photoshop. Go to the Image pulldown menu IMAGE->MODE and save the JPG as RGB instead of CMYK.

And Bob’s your uncle.

Would that most of the world’s problems were so easily handled.

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