Towse: views from the hill

July 30, 2009

Tugs helping APL container ship into port this AM.

Filed under: photographs,ships — Tags: , , — Towse @ 4:02 pm


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The engine(s) don’t seem to be working. Tugs are guiding the ship into the Port of Oakland.

July 21, 2009

Rachel Maddow: "we regret the errors"

Filed under: history,news,people — Towse @ 4:34 pm

If you don’t watch Rachel Maddow, at least occasionally, you should. I watch her whenever I’m in a hotel that carries MSNBC and I watch her over the Web. (Our dirt-cheap cable subscription does not include MSNBC.)

Last week Maddow and Pat Buchanan got into a brouhaha over Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court and affirmative action, which Maddow supports but Buchanan does not.

Here is a snippet where Maddow corrects some of the “facts” presented by Buchanan during the debate.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

The original debate is here:

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

July 18, 2009

Adiós, Cuauhtémoc

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 5:54 pm


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We heard the horn blast from our spots at the dining table where we were reading the Saturday paper. We heard another and then a third. What idiot was in the way and not moving?

We opened the doors facing the water and saw the Jeremiah O’Brien and the fireboats and sailboats and a scull and some kayaks. … And then we saw the big attraction (and where the horn blasts had originated). The tugs were helping maneuver the Cuauhtémoc out of her berth as she headed out for further adventures.

I dashed up the stairs with my camera and shot, oh, fifty or sixty shots of the sailing ship, the old WW2 ship, and the sailboats from the deck.

Note the lines of young sailors at the top of the sails. No automated sail setting on the Cuauhtémoc, just young sailors with no fear of heights, awaiting the Captain’s orders.


The Bay is filled with boats of all sorts and sizes today from the Cuauhtémoc to the one-person kayaks. The fireboats are shooting their water cannon. The sun is shining and hark! there’s fog up there in the north toward Vallejo.


July 13, 2009

[PHOTO] Visitor!

Filed under: photographs,ships — Tags: , — Towse @ 6:39 pm

The Mexican sailing ship Cuauhtémoc is berthed at P27 through July 18th.


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Come visit!

July 10, 2009

one out of every three cigarettes in the world is smoked in China

Filed under: health — Towse @ 11:35 pm

I’d made a note a year or so ago to check an interesting factoid I’d come across. Was it true?

[SFC 26 Jun 2008] article by Tamara Straus:
one out of every three cigarettes in the world is smoked in China


Here are WHO/Western Pacific Region-Smoking Statistics from 2002.

Among the other stats given:

# Smoking will kill about a third of all young Chinese men alive (under 30 years).
# About 3,000 people die every day in China due to smoking.
# There are more than 300 million Chinese smokers – more than the entire US population. They consume an estimated 1.7 trillion cigarettes per year – or 3 million cigarettes every minute.

WHO. Trusted source. More health-related information available on the site.

I’ve never had a problem with drugs, only with policemen.

Filed under: books,music,people,quotation — Towse @ 1:12 am

Keith Richards.

Jessica Pallington West has a book out, What Would Keith Richards Do? Daily Affirmations From a Rock and Roll Survivor, from whence the title gem came.

Amazon info but no free reads inside the book. Alas.

Plimsoll – trivia for the day

Filed under: factoid,history,wordstuff — Towse @ 12:31 am

Are plimsoll shoes related to the Plimsoll line on a commercial ship?

Yes, indeedy.

A plimsoll shoe or simply plimsoll is a type of athletic shoe with a canvas upper and rubber sole, developed as beachwear in the 1830s by the Liverpool Rubber Company (later to become Dunlop). The shoe was originally, and often still is in parts of the UK, called a ‘sand shoe’ and acquired the nickname ‘plimsoll’ in the 1870s. This name derived, according to Nicholette Jones’ book “The Plimsoll Sensation” because the colored horizontal band joining the upper to the sole resembled the Plimsoll line on a ship’s hull, or because, just like the Plimsoll line on a ship, if water got above the line of the rubber sole, the wearer would get wet.

We’d been looking at an incoming container ship and I was wondering if the plimsoll shoe got its name because of the resemblance of the demarcation between the shoe’s rubber sole and canvas upper and the Plimsoll line on the ship.

The Web is a wonder.

July 9, 2009

When United Declines Your Claim

Filed under: music,travel,video,web2.0 — Towse @ 11:20 pm

… there’s still something you can do. …

Dave Carroll [Sons of Maxwell] – United Breaks Guitars

Update: Update

July 6, 2009

Fourth of July from the 52d Floor

Filed under: life,photographs — Tags: , — Towse @ 8:53 pm

We partied on the 52d floor of 555 California for the Fourth with maybe a hundred other people, from pre-toddlers to creaky oldsters. Pre-fireworks entertainment included watching everyone else, making faces at the adorable seven-month-old (maybe) girl at the next table, a buffet that included hotdogs and hamburgers, and a hosted bar.

The event opened at 7:30P so we were a bit perplexed when we walked in a few minutes later to see all the occupied tables and chairs. We found an empty table next to the windows facing Pier 39 so we could at least see the eastern portion of the dual-barge, synchronized show. As it got closer to showtime, people began genteely squabbling over whether tables could be “held” for expected guests.

I took pictures of the view as the sun faded and the colors greyed. We watched “our” barge being pushed up from the south and over to Pier 39. The hills behind Tiburon and further north looked like a Chinese watercolor as they faded, faded, faded in the distance. (I tried to capture that view. The photo also captures the reflections of the party in the window as the lights came on and the twilight darkened.)

Note the hunkering layer of clouds just waiting to drop down and obscure the evening’s entertainment.

Reflections on the window overlaying the views led to talk of Plato’s Cave. We watched the fog creep in, hoping it wouldn’t get so low the fireworks would (again) be fogged out. Dinner ships and private boats maneuvered into place. The Coast Guard churned back and forth keeping people out of the critical area, and then Hooray! The fog held high and right on time (9:30P) the show began.

I was using my digital camera, holding it steady on the railing between us and the window, which would have worked if there hadn’t been some young adults who kept moving under the railing to get close to the window to use their digital cameras AND BUMPING THE RAILING WHENEVER THEY DID!


So the pics here are of views of Telegraph Hill and the Bay/Alcatraz/Angel Island as the light fades and Coit’s lights come on. Followed by some of the better fireworks shots. (But oh … my, the City’s civic 4th fireworks just don’t compare to KFOG Kaboom!)

We stayed for a while after the civic fireworks were over, enjoying the amateur fireworks that were exploding to the west. I’ve included a couple shots off the west side of the building showing the Civic Center and downtown and the vista out to the ocean (Note how “straight” streets on a grid look all curvy as they go up and over hills…)

And then we wandered home and watched some fireworks that were still going off. We had a good time. (I enjoyed my first hot dog in MONTHS!)

All-in-all, I took over 170 photos, of which I’ve kept ninety-five. (That collection may still be weeded.) My bloggy photo gallery here contains only twenty-two.

July 2, 2009

Fishers give up on plan for Presidio art museum

Filed under: art,museums,news,San Francisco — Towse @ 11:07 pm

Fishers give up on plan for Presidio art museum

… so I wrote another letter to the editor at the Chronicle (previous letter was 09/2007):

The Presidio was never the right place for the Fishers’ Contemporary Art Museum for reasons both practical and historical, reasons soundly argued by neighbors, historians, park enthusiasts, and environmentalists.

There are wonderful alternatives to the Presidio site in our city. Consider for a moment the effect of having the Contemporary Art Museum located near Pier 70/Potrero Point, an area poised for redevelopment! Donald Fisher could do immense good by building his museum there, at the edge of the Bay. Plenty of public transit. Space for parking without cutting down a single tree! Near the ballpark and the new UCSF Medical Center development at Mission Bay. Near all the new condos south of Market. Within shouting distance of Bernal Heights and Potrero Hill. A short transit ride from the southern neighborhoods.

The Contemporary Art Museum could knit the city together, bringing folks from the northern neighborhoods and the western neighborhoods over to our “other” shore.

Look what the ballpark and UCSF@Mission Bay have done for the surrounding areas!. The Fishers have the opportunity to do wonders for the central waterfront and the city if they build their museum there. Say you will, Mr. Fisher!

Update: Letter in today’s Chron.

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