Towse: views from the hill

June 27, 2008

Back in a few

Filed under: life,travel — Towse @ 3:56 pm

Article ideas/commentary plucked from the aether

Filed under: books,life — Towse @ 6:01 am

First Monday’s book for discussion in August, as I think I mentioned a while back, is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA

I went over to Book Bay this afternoon looking for a copy, thinking I could take it with me when we’re away and read the book way ahead of time instead of during the last few days before First Monday.

I looked under /Marquez/ in the FIC section. Nada. I wandered over to the back of the store and got distracted by the $0.50/item table (3/$1) What is this? Gazillions of first edition mysteries, some in dust jackets, some in dust jackets with plastic covers.


Science fiction classics too. Watty Piper’s THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD (with Sanrio stickers front and back and pencil scribbles inside but the ILLUSTRATIONS are there and I [heart] Watty Piper.

I stack stack here and stack stack there. …

(Excuse me. Could I stash these books somewhere? I haven’t finished shopping but there are too many for me to carry around with me. Oh, thanks.)

I took my stashes from the $0.50 or 3/$1 over and stacked them on the counter. I also had a “full price” $5 copy of Maupin’s TALES OF THE CITY. We already have a copy of TALES, but maybe I’d like to take a copy along with us on our next trip. (We are looking for lightweight books we can take along with us and abandon along the way. Our next trip requires us for a major portion of the trip to have a combined checked/carryon luggage weight of 26 lbs. …) Before then we have layovers in London and other long stretches.

I wander over to the “new additions” still looking for LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA. Nada. I do find another $5 book I want.

I check the shelves and displays. Surely there’s GGM somewhere in this room.

*FLICK* the light comes on.

I go back to FICTION and look for GARCIA MARQUEZ. Two copies of CHOLERA, one HB, one PB. I choose the PB for weight reasons. (That and the price of the HB, which is the first NAm edition. …) PB cost $5.

I go back to the front counter and start counting through my $0.50 or 3/$1 books three-by-three and discover I am one book shy of a number that divides by three. I go back to the tables and find an African travel book (how à propos, eh?).

Back to the front counter. The clerk, a volunteer, is counting. xx yy zz aa bb … and forty-seven. I hand over the African travel book, making it forty-eight. She rummages around with what that all may mean and I say, “$16 plus $5 for TALES OF THE CITY and $5 for LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA.”

She adds it all up.

AND! I tell her, I have a Friends of the Library card (10% off) and a one-time extra discount (25% off).

Forty-eight books plus this and that and my total (with tax) is sixteen dollars.

Plus … that Watty Piper LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD? I plan to sell a human interest/slice of life commentary about cleaning up the childhood classic to pass it on to my grandchildren.

Article ideas/commentary plucked from the aether.

June 26, 2008

Smoky haze

Filed under: life — Towse @ 9:43 pm

Woke up to the news station warning of smoky haze. Elderly, children, those with health problems should stay indoors. Set your A/C to “recirculate.” Do not exercise outdoors.

Yesterday as we were walking up the path I noticed that the neighbors who’ve been remodeling one of the older houses on this side of the hill had repainted their gazebo a soft butter cream color.

“Nice,” I said, pointing it out to his nibs. His nibs in turn pointed out to me that the gazebo was still as titanium white as ever but the smokey sunshine’s golden hue was making the gazebo seem a different color than it was.

Karolina Kurkova Labeled Too Fat (VIDEO)

Filed under: culture,life — Towse @ 6:43 am

Karolina Kurkova Labeled Too Fat

Her walk is at the 8: marker, mas o menos.


Too fat?

Oh, puhleeze. No wonder we have Olsen twins and the girl next door worrying about their body images.

Yay hooray! Squirrel Nut Zippers return to town

Filed under: music — Towse @ 2:45 am

His nibs is over at his desk across from me, rummaging through online stuff. Turns out the US Air Guitar Regional Finals @ The Independent tonight are sold out, alas.

But THE SQUIRREL NUT ZIPPERS will be there on my bday! What an AWESOME coinkidink.

We’re there.

Ego is not a dirty word

Filed under: life,music — Towse @ 2:36 am

Retrieved a couple old Skyhooks cassettes this afternoon, including LIVING IN THE 70s.

I’ll have to get CD versions if I want to listen to them at the computer or on the BO, I suppose. We don’t have a cassette player here; I can only play the cassettes in the car.

Ego Is Not A Dirty Word

If I did not have an ego I would not be here tonight
If I did not have an ego I might not think that I was right
If you did not have an ego you might not care the way you dressed
If you did not have an ego you’d just be like the rest

Ego is not a dirty word
Ego is not a dirty word
Ego is not a dirty word
Don’t you believe what you’ve seen or heard

If Jesus had an ego he’d still be alive today
And if Nixon had no ego he might not be in decay
If you did not have an ego you might not care too much who won
If I did not have an ego I might just use a gun

Ego is not a dirty word
Ego is not a dirty word
Ego is not a dirty word
Don’t you believe what you’ve seen or heard

Some people keep their egos in a bottom drawer
A fridge full of Leonard Cohen
Have to get drunk just to walk out the door
Stay drunk to keep on goin’
So if you got an ego
You better keep it in good shape
Exercise it daily
And get it down on tape


If you’ve never heard Skyhooks, “Ego,” “Horror Movie,” and a couple other cuts are available at their MySpace page

I probably haven’t listened to them for going on thirty years. Wish I could remember what made me decide I needed to rummage the cassettes out of the stash. Something that was going on online. …

June 25, 2008

Twitterholic: Who are these people?

Filed under: app,web2.0 — Towse @ 1:16 am

Twitterholic: Who are these people?


The Good Enough Guide to Health

Filed under: health — Towse @ 12:52 am

ABC News: The Good Enough Guide to Health By CAMILLE NOE PAGAN, Prevention Magazine

e.g. Exercise

Gold Standard: 30 minutes of cardio, five or more days a week

Good Enough: 17 minutes a day

A new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that women who exercised just two hours a week (or 17 minutes daily) reduced their risk of heart disease and stroke by 27 percent.

“You don’t even have to do it all at once. No fewer than 10 studies since 1995 show that breaking up physical activity into small segments of about 10 minutes is just as effective,” says Barry Franklin, director of cardiac rehabilitation and exercise laboratories at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., and spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s national “Start!” program.

Get ready. Get set. … GO!

June 24, 2008

PopCo, Stuff and Uncrate

Filed under: books,culture,life,shopshopshop — Towse @ 11:45 pm

Finished PopCo while I was away.

Like The End of Mr. Y, this Scarlett Thomas book had a to-me sympathetic main female character who roamed around in her head and jumped from subject to subject and landing pad to leaping-off-point in a manner I’m quite familiar with. Thomas’ heroines remind me strongly of Cayce Pollard, the heroine in Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.

The books are filled with consumer culture, philosophy, and weird, quirky bits of trivia. PopCo specifically has enough code breaking arcana to keep you going for a while. Alice Butler, the main character, creates sleuth kits for kids for a megacorp called PopCo (#3 in the world after Mattel and Hasbro) and finds herself stashed away in a corporate getaway with other PopCo creatives, tasked with finding a brilliant product for the teengirl market, which is notoriously hard for toy companies to crack.

I took pages and pages of notes of clever phraseology and references I had no clue to (the Riemann Hypothesis, the Voynich Manuscript), book titles I need to check our bookstash for (and buy if we don’t have a copy) (Secret and Urgent: The Story of Codes and Ciphers by Fletcher Pratt) and more.

Thomas even gave a brief explanation to another character of how public key encryption works, an explanation my aunt Ethel would be able to understand!

Is this really the way toy companies are run? Is marketing really as cynical about tapping into the pocketbooks of teens and pre-teens as the book suggests? Could be.

I try not to buy stuff I don’t =need=. This book made me even more aware of how you, me, and Mr. McGee are sold to.

Witness: Uncrate | The Buyer's Guide For Men Talk about cool stuff you don’t really need!

We won’t even begin to explore Archie McPhee and Things You Never Knew Existed.

I received an offer in the mail the other day. Because I’m a special person (because of my W subscription? because of my ZIPcode? because of the stylish, fashionable things I buy at the Goodwill?), ELLE offered me a year’s subscription (normally $48! or something close thereto) for only $8!

Well, hey, yes! Of course, they’d love to have me on their subscription rolls.

But we talked about our dear mailman and all the mail he has to bring down the steps and then up our stairs to our front door. And then we talked about the bags of recycle we have to take down our stairs and up the steps to the recycle bin on Montgomery. And we decided that I didn’t really need ELLE that much.

We aren’t getting a stimulus check from the government. No manna from heaven $$ for stuff. I guess they figure we stimulate the economy as much as we ever will.

The younger niblet, who is doing his Peace Corps stint until June 2010, got his check, though. We’ll put it in his bank account and maybe he’ll be able to tap it at some point if he is in desperate need for something while he’s there. At least it will still be available when he comes home.

Somehow I think his check would go a lot further there than it would in San Francisco. Be more appreciated too. Somehow I think there’s less “stuff” where he is and more “Do we have enough food for dinner and breakfast tomorrow?”

Sunrise. Smoke. Saudade.

Filed under: life — Towse @ 8:03 pm

The sun rose over Berkeley this morning, a deep orange red through the smoke from the fires. I know the smell of smoke comes from hundreds of fires that are burning right now and that people and their homes are in dangerous straits, and yet, still … though my eyes sting and my throat is more raspy than it would be if the air were clear (raspy throat in part from the cold I brought back from Camp, lucky me), the smell of smoke permeating the air reminds me of Brazil …


We’d always planned to go back to Belém, drag my dad along, check out 189 Consulato Furtado and the park. Take a boat up the river to Manaus. Swim back in the river of time.

Won’t ever happen now. Can’t. The smell of smoke in the air brings memories and saudade.

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