Towse: views from the hill

June 8, 2009

When the Thrill of Blogging Is Gone …

Filed under: blog,news,web2.0 — Towse @ 9:49 pm

When the Thrill of Blogging Is Gone … – by Douglas Quenqua

Interesting article. You must register w/ to read.


Like Mrs. Nichols, many people start blogs with lofty aspirations — to build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world. Getting started is easy, since all it takes to maintain a blog is a little time and inspiration. So why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?

According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.

Judging from conversations with retired bloggers, many of the orphans were cast aside by people who had assumed that once they started blogging, the world would beat a path to their digital door.

Full moon … in stages

Filed under: photographs — Tags: , , , — Towse @ 4:47 pm

Last night as we were eating dinner (grilled lamb chops, stir-fried Chinese beans, and small red potatoes, cut and sautéed in olive oil with garlic and rosemary), I’d get up and walk to the windows occasionally. I was waiting for the full moon over the Bay Bridge – a photo op that comes once every twenty-eight days. If that.

At 8:50P there was still no sign of the moon. How can that be? Where is the moon? We finished dinner and moved to our chairs where we sat, finishing our glasses of wine.

A little after nine the moon finally appeared, rising orange behind the bridge. Then yellow. Then white, as it rose in the sky.

All Rayleigh, his nibs said.


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Make a wish

Filed under: life,photographs — Tags: — Towse @ 4:24 pm


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When the younger guys were much younger, the loss of a helium balloon wasn’t an occasion for tears.

When your balloon slips your grasp, don’t cry. Make a wish.

Make a wish and watch the balloon as it slips up into the sky carrying your wish with it until (keep watching!) it is (keep watching!) so high it disappears from view.

The next time something slips from my grasp, I’ll try to remember to make a wish.

Last night’s not-quite full moon

Filed under: photographs — Tags: , , , — Towse @ 2:22 am

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June 7, 2009

Still life with yellow ranunculus

Filed under: life,photographs — Tags: , — Towse @ 9:13 pm

His nibs was at the Academy of Sciences annual meeting for docents and other such yesterday and brought home some flowers: a gathering of small daisy-ish flowers and a gaggle of alstroemeria as well as a twosome of yellow ranunculus (?). I put the Peruvian lilies and daisy-ish flowers in a vase downstairs and brought the yellow flowers up to the landing on the second floor. Cheery as I go back and forth during the day.


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June 6, 2009

Prop 13, Education, and the current budget crunch

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , — Towse @ 6:59 pm

Read an interesting comment yesterday in my alumni magazine. An earlier issue had an article (“Struggling for Words”) in which English Professor Jonathan Lovell rued the effects Prop 13 has had on education since it passed in 1978.

Oh, really? (or words to that effect) was the comment.

While the state of public education is deplorable, Prop 13 is certainly not one of the causes. Assessed values, tax receipts and school funding have all increased at faster rates than inflation since its passage in 1978. The provisions of Prop 13, which create a more stable tax base, will provide a relatively “soft” landing during the recession, as not all assessed values will fall from the grossly inflated market values of recent years. Without Prop 13, the decrease in property tax revenues would be even more dramatic than what we’re actually seeing. — Pete Conrad, ’82 Business

Something to think about.

Another benefit of Prop 13 for education, which I’ve never heard mentioned, is that it created an incentive for families to stay put, not to trade up to a bigger house. As a result, our children went from K-12 with pretty much the same set of kids. The parents worked together for years and were gung-ho about working with the schools. We knew each other, our quirks, our pet peeves, our strengths. Instead of people moving in and out and up, we had a stable foundation for volunteerism and fundraising.

But, yeah. I hadn’t thought about the precipitous fall in property tax revenues that there would’ve been without Prop 13.

Oh, you say? But wouldn’t we’d’ve had a mess more money if Prop. 13 hadn’t been around? Yeah. We would’ve. Year to year. And we would’ve spent every frickin’ dime and be left now with unsustainable programs and no funds to run them. Rainy day funds are an anomaly in this state. Alas.

Naked, Drunk, and Writing – Adair Lara

Filed under: books,commentary,people,writing — Towse @ 5:32 pm

Naked, Drunk, and Writing: writing essays and memoirs for love and money by Adair Lara. [an Amazon click]

Adair Lara was talking about her new book this past Wednesday at Book Passage, Corte Madera. (She also teaches classes there on occasion.)

I mentioned her appearance on Facebook (although I didn’t drive across the bridge to see her) and added

Adair Lara wrote a column for the Chronicle … until she didn’t. I liked the column. Miss her.

A sample of her column work.

Fun thing about Amazon is that you can (often) poke into a book and see how it begins. On the first page of Lara’s new book, I read

If I even think about writing, I find myself in the pantry eating cereal straight from the box. Writing is a scary, vulnerable, and in a way conceited act, one that says the words you set down are worth a stranger’s time to read, and that this is a worthy use of your own time.

I may take Lara’s book to Camp to read, even if I’m not intending to write a memoir any time soon. …

June 4, 2009

More clouds from yesterday

Filed under: photographs,weather — Tags: , — Towse @ 5:06 am


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Pilot boat

Filed under: life,photographs,SFOBayBridge — Towse @ 5:00 am

The sky turns blue (Thank you, Rayleigh!) as the sun goes down behind us.
A pilot boat cruises in.

The bay, the hills, the shadows take on a blue-ish tinge as the sun sets and the City wraps itself in twilight.


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Clouds. Bridge.

Filed under: photographs,SFOBayBridge,weather — Towse @ 4:17 am

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now. …
This is a cloud shot from yesterday (Tues) …


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