Towse: views from the hill

February 28, 2009

To the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: Buffett’s letter

Filed under: commentary,economy — Towse @ 11:02 pm

That’s the good news. But there’s another less pleasant reality: During 2008 I did some dumb things in investments. I made at least one major mistake of commission and several lesser ones that also hurt. I will tell you more about these later. Furthermore, I made some errors of omission, sucking my thumb when new facts came in that should have caused me to re-examine my thinking and promptly take action.

Additionally, the market value of the bonds and stocks that we continue to hold suffered a significant decline along with the general market. This does not bother Charlie and me. Indeed, we enjoy such price declines if we have funds available to increase our positions. Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.

Read the entire Buffett letter to BRK stockholders here [PDF]

Schwarzenegger Declares California Drought Emergency

Filed under: California,culture,government,weather — Towse @ 10:54 pm

Schwarzenegger Declares California Drought Emergency

Some more rain is arriving tonight, if the weather mavens are to be believed, and carry over for a few days, but things aren’t looking good.

Step one: encourage farmers who suck up water to raise crops like cotton and rice to move their operations to places that are better suited for water-guzzling crops.

Step two: encourage folks who plant golf courses in deserts to transform them into something else and/or let the land lapse back into sand dunes.

Step three: see where steps one and two take you.

Web design tip for businesses, especially restaurants

Filed under: design,restaurants,San Francisco,webstuff — Towse @ 10:36 pm

Having a city name on the home page is a good idea.

Having the restaurant address is even better.

Chez Papa Resto‘s Web page doesn’t cough up the address unless you drill down to the “Contact” page.

Address: 4 Mint Plaza San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 546 4134
Fax: (415) 546 4128

February 27, 2009

Let us now gaze down on the Port of San Francisco

Specifically, Piers 23, 19, and 17. (Click on the photo to get an enlarged version.)


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Note the pilings on the north apron of Pier 23.

Note the shabby temporary patches on the roof of the Port building facing the Embarcadero where Pier 21 would be, if there were a Pier 21.

Check out the pilings on the north apron of Pier 19. You can barely see the pair of orange cones keeping you from accidentally walking where the worst of the damage to the apron is. (The apron has crumpled and is no longer horizontal.) What you can’t see in the picture very well is that the bulk of the apron to the west of the orange cones has disintegrated and fallen into the drink as well.

Check out the pilings at Pier 17 (the last pier you can see in the picture). They don’t look in very great shape either, do they?

To quote from a SPUR document, published in The Urbanist in August, 2007:

The Port’s 10-year Capital Plan is based on a comprehensive survey of the physical condition of all Port properties under its ownership. The Plan identifies the cost of bringing the Port into basic compliance with health, safety, seismic and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, as well as fulfilling waterfront open-space needs, at nearly $1.5 billion. Almost one-third of the costs identified in this Capital Plan are for substructure repair and seismic strengthening of the Port’s pile-supported structures.

Something must be done.

What will it be? What to do, what to do, what to do. …

February 26, 2009

FY2010 Federal budget (USA)

Filed under: economy,government,news — Towse @ 9:52 pm

The proposed FY 2010 budget in 146pp of detail. This is a narrative take on the budget, not pages and pages of income/outgo numbers.

Take a look. [PDF]

Playmobil Security Check Point

Filed under: culture,shopshopshop — Towse @ 8:47 pm

[via a Kelley Eskridge blog post]

Playmobil Security Check Point

Customer reviews take the cake.

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger’s scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said “that’s the worst security ever!”. But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.

Grey day. Hoping for some rain.

Filed under: photographs,weather — Tags: , , — Towse @ 6:48 pm





Update: Day didn’t turn to rain. Quite the contrary. Sunny with interesting clouds.


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The Tenderloin National Forest

Filed under: art,causes,life,people,San Francisco — Towse @ 5:53 pm

The Tenderloin National Forest

We were at a North Beach Neighbors dinner at Lichee Garden on Powell last night. (Terrific dinner. $28, including tax and tip, for a ten-course dinner. No-host beer and wine, if desired. Fun time was had by all. Interesting conversations. Good food.)

Rigo was with a group at our table at dinner that included Fernando [last name?], from Portugal. Fernando was sitting between Rigo and me and only spoke Portuguese. Although I know Brazilian Portuguese is a far cry from Portuguese, I wished it had been less than fifty years since I last had a conversation in Portuguese. There are not many words I remember.

Talked with Rigo about ONE TREE and TRUTH, two of my favorite Rigo public works, and about what he’s up to. Turns out he and Fernando are currently working on a mosaic for the Tenderloin National Forest on Cohen Alley, off Ellis.

(photos of the Tenderloin National Forest from Dave Schumaker on flickr)

I plan to wander by some day soon and see how it’s coming along.

It’s Not What You Eat, It’s How Much

Filed under: food,life,news — Towse @ 4:45 pm

Here’s news!

It's Not What You Eat, It's How Much

Calories count.

A lot.

More on the Chron

Filed under: news,San Francisco — Towse @ 2:51 pm

Reflections of a Newsosaur: SF Chron cost-cut target equals 47% of staff

and the ever hopeful San Francisco Bay Guardian politics blog.

and Debra Saunders, who is … afraid she might lose her column?

Reading the comments following her column, I think, as ye sow. …

Saunders has a point with, When a newspaper dies, you don’t get a comprehensive periodical to fill the void. You get an informational vacant lot into which passers-by can throw their junk.

Except I don’t know that that will happen. I don’t know what will happen. The void may attract something entirely different. Someone may cobble together the best of the best coverage into an online entity. Some enterprising sort may create the San Francisco Phoenix print edition and rise from the ashes. Some new UPI/AP entity may suck up all the good print reporters and reportage and act as a clearinghouse.

All I do know is Macy’s won’t have a clue how to reach their customers with their diamond sales and shoe deals.

More importantly Where will my favorite columnists land?

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