Towse: views from the hill

January 11, 2009

Today’s pet peeve: Annoying bloggers.

Filed under: peeves,wordstuff — Tags: , — Towse @ 8:57 pm

I checked all my links on the internet-resources’ WordStuff page yesterday, using the handy dandy Free Link Checker as a first pass and then following with a check of all the other links as a cleanup sweep.

One of the links the free link checker found was a definite 404. (Robin Queen’s collection of linguistics links … The page was 404 and after I found her UMich faculty Web site, seems her collection of links is no more, or not what I remembered.)

I went looking for the substitute link or another link just like it.

And found this. has cut and pasted and reformatted my wordstuff links page onto its blog — a blog, I might mentioned, that is surrounded by ad stuff.

No mention that the links and commentary aren’t its.

No mention that link collection is mine as is the commentary.

No mention of my collection of links and how to get there.

Now ovablastic itself found that little nest of links through Stumbleupon, which does point people to my site.

Why did it cut and paste the HTML and pop it on its blog with no hattip or pointer to my site?

Because it’s clueless and a thief. Yeah. That could be it.

n.b. for allz of you who may say, “But links are links and not copyrightable!” The collection of links with the associated commentary is copyrighted. ’tis just not worth it to go lay sue papers in ovablastic’s mailbox. I’d rather mention here that someone with ads on its site stole my content and is a thief.

(Hi, ovablastic! Hope you Google your nym every once in a while! If you’d had an e-mail easily available on your blog, I would’ve dropped you a note. This is the next best bet.)

December 18, 2008

Peeve of the Day (AKA POTD)

Filed under: peeves — Tags: — Towse @ 4:20 pm

(1) Folks, it is AGAINST THE LAW IN CALIFORNIA to talk on your hand-held (as opposed to hands-free) cell phone while you’re driving. STOP IT!

We were headed over to Kaiser Hospital yesterday, trying to make a left turn off Union onto Gough. Light changed. Waited for person using crosswalk. After that person cleared our runway, we would’ve turned but a guy in large vehicle was heading straight through the intersection. SLOOOOWLY.

Turned out he was talking on his cell phone. Holding it with one hand as he drove SLOOOOWLY (did I mention SLOOOOWLY?) through the intersection. Woman in her Beemer behind him was catching up with him at a fast clip so when he had finally cleared the intersection, we didn’t have any time to turn before she blew through.

So we waited some more.

Folks, as of midnight July 1, 2008, it is illegal in both Washington state and California to hold a cellphone to your ear while you drive.

Granted, just talking on your hands-free cellphone is also distracting and dangerous, but it is AGAINST THE LAW to hold your cellphone to your ear while driving (whether you’re talking or just listening).

STOP IT. You either drive too fast, too maniacal, or too slow. You aren’t paying attention to the other cars around you or the pedestrians or bicyclists.


November 19, 2008

Peeves of the Day (AKA POTD)

Filed under: peeves — Tags: — Towse @ 3:16 am

(1) People who refer to BART as “the BART” — Take a bow, San Francisco Hyatt Regency – Embarcadero.

I also cringe at hip DJs and traffic reporters who refer to our freeways as “the 101″ and “the 280.” That sort of terminology is fine for people south of the San Berd’o line, but we are living in Northern California.

(2) Writerly folks who still write (on this the thirtieth anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre) that Jim Jones’ followers committed suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid.


All that “don’t drink the Kool-Aid” advice is based on a reference to the wrong powdered drink. Stop it. I’m sure the Kool-Aid folks join me in this request.

Here’s some little known Kool-Aid history and trivia. Enjoy.

February 14, 2007

A to-do list for the City

Filed under: life,peeves,politics,public transit — Tags: , — Towse @ 8:22 pm

Above the fold this morning in the Chron was an article detailing the City’s plan to take over liability insurance and maintenance responsibility for the pair of cypress trees downhill from here that I’ve written about before , the trees that Mark Bittner flung himself in front of chainsaws to save, the trees that are, according to Bevan Dufty, who proposed the legislation, one of the parrots’ favorite roosts.

The operative words there are “one of the…”

The parrots have many favorite roosts. This clump of trees is not even the most favorite roost within a one hundred yard radius. Preserving these trees because the tourists like watching the parrots is a flawed argument. Mark lives right next to the trees in question, which is why he wants them preserved above all others. I understand his personal stake in all this.

… but the number of tourists who climb up and down the Greenwich Steps and are enchanted by the birds (and ipso facto and all that the trees MUST be preserved!) are far outnumbered by the number of tourists who climb up and down the Filbert Steps and are enchanted by the birds. The parrots are hanging out more often than not in the trees and on the wires above the Filbert Steps when they are hanging out on this side of the hill.

And, boy, am I tired of explaining to people I talk to at parties and gatherings that the parrots are fine, they’re happy, they’re healthy, they’re squawking all the time, when they’re here. There are scores of parrots in the flock and it is still growing. Concerned people say, “But I thought their tree was cut down.” or “I thought they had flown away.”

No, it wasn’t. No, they haven’t. They don’t even sleep here, I tell them. The parrots show up in the morning and squawk around and come and go and usually head back to the north end of town, to the Presidio or Fort Mason or wherever it is they lay their weary heads, when the sun starts heading toward its evening meetup with the ocean. Get here after 5P or 4P or some days even 3P and there won’t be a parrot to be seen. “Come back tomorrow,” I tell the disappointed tourists. “They’ve gone home to tuck in but they’ll be back tomorrow.”

And, whoo boy, the Steps especially near Napier Lane, outside Aaron Peskin’s place (the wires near his house are a new favorite place for them) are sprinkled with guano these days. We noticed a note from Judy Irving (TPOTH filmmaker and Mark’s wife) tacked onto Aaron’s fence the other day asking people not to feed the parrots.

The Northeast San Francisco Conservancy has collected $5K to give to the City to pay an arborist to trim the trees so at least that expense won’t be the City’s, but the other associated staffer expenses?

The City, which has a wide variety of ills that need attention, is spending time, staffing $$ (and perhaps real $$ if the trees topple) on a pair of trees that imosho don’t deserve the extraordinary attention they’ve been getting.

A guy from AP asked us last Sunday at Gavin’s campaign HQ opening, what we thought was the most serious problem in the City that needed addressing.

Oh, so many to choose from …

The City should be paying attention to:

(1) Muni/taxis/public transport/traffic meters/bike lanes/traffic and oh, the list could go on. Let’s talk about bus fares. Let’s talk about waiting for a 30 for much longer than expected and having two show up simultaneously. Let’s talk about reworking Muni and dropping the fares for everyone. (What’s with the proposed deal to give 18-24 year olds deals on their Muni passes when there are plenty of thirty- and forty-something dishwashers and grocery clerks who deserve a fare shake too.)

And maybe, just maybe, if we improve the Muni safety record we will have extra money in the budget. Last year Muni paid out $6.6 million in claims. Woo hoo! A million less than the year before! SIX MILLION SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. Yikes.

(2) trash/litter and the scum bums who toss crap in the streets or toss coffee cups in the gutters or leave papers on benches for the winds to blow afar. Add in the City’s trash picker uppers who need to pickup the trash bins (especially the ones at the bottom of the Vallejo Steps at Montgomery) far more often than they do, the lack of trash bins on busy corners and at bus stops which gives people the excuse that they would have thrown their trash in a trash bin but there was not one to be found, and oh, the list could go on.

And then there’s the neighbor at the top of the Filbert Steps at Montgomery who doesn’t like the people down the Steps bringing their recycle up to the top of the Steps for recycle pickup. Every once in a while, when the recycle offends him for whatever reason, maybe the neighbor’s noise disturbed his tube watching, he kicks the recycle down the steps and makes a giant mess of things just because of because. Grow up, neighbor.

Let’s all take the “one for the road” pledge.

(3) crime, violent crime, hurting people, busting windows, busting jaws, killing people, robbing people, theft, property damage. People, some of them quite young, running amok.

(4) free WiFi — just get on with it. Let Earthlink and Google provide the service and use us as their guinea pigs and don’t even think of having the City set up its own bureaucracy to handle the problem. Oh, the bureaucrats handle Muni so well, why not give them this new box to play in?

(5) the building inspections department and the planning process … both busted by some accounts with the added fillip that no one can agree on the right thing to be done so nothing gets done

… until someone like buys a building and promises that all they’ll do is get rid of the graffiti, add outdoor lighting and … make movies inside away from the public view. The site’s zoned for commercial use. The building won’t change. Nothing that needs planning or historic preservation.

BUT WE DON’T WANT THAT! Well, over the years you didn’t want anything else either. No one could agree. It’s been over thirty years since the Guard left the building. ‘sides which’s been making movies in a warehouse not that far away for years now and nobody even noticed. Peter Acworth had a column on the op-ed page Monday about the purchase and his plans.

A new head’s been hired for the Building Inspection department and maybe he’ll work wonders. Planning’s problems don’t have an easy fix. Can’t we all just get along?

Don’t get me started on the ongoing snags affecting Angelo Sangiacomo’s efforts to rehab Trinity Plaza. He’s getting tired of the wrangling. What if he just says tahellwithit like the previous owner of the Armory did? I doubt we’ll ever find a buyer like that wants Trinity Plaza and will keep it just like it is, which seems to be the intent of the folks who are asking Sangiacomo to promise this, and when he does, asking him to promise that, and when he does, saying they’ve changed their minds and want him to …

(6) the Port and the piers and the wrangling there over what will be done. Leave things as some people seem to want and the piers will all look like Pier 36 in a few years.

(7) people who need health care. people who need housing. people who need jobs. people who need a shrink or drugs or food or a hug.

“Choose one?” we asked the reporter. “Muni, parking, taxis, anything to do with getting people around this town without adding cars on the streets but that’s just the beginning of what needs addressing.”

The pair of cypresses downhill from us didn’t even cross our minds. There are other trees that the parrots flock to. The parrots are thriving. I’m not a tree hugger, obviously. I don’t believe every tree deserves saving just because it’s a tree. I do believe in planting more trees in the city. We’re Friends of the Urban Forest. My problem with Dufty’s well-intentioned, if misguided, efforts is that I don’t cotton to the idea that rules should be changed and these trees deserve special efforts because of the parrots. They don’t. The parrots are fine. The City has more important troubles to address.

January 13, 2007

This is just so wrong, in so many ways:

Filed under: food,peeves — Towse @ 6:33 am

I was down in the south Bay today, making sure the parental abode in East San Jose would survive the expected frigid temperatures. We’d basically shut down the heat after my mom moved on to save $$$, but his nibs was afraid the pipes would burst if the temps dropped as low as expected.

(Woo hoo! Temps in the 20s expected. We haven’t had temps this low since The Great Freeze of 1989. Yesterday, in anticipation, we moved the jade plants and herbs into the house. Did you know the blossoms on jade plants had a pungent smell? I didn’t. Now I do.)

The younger sib was taking the train in to work and wouldn’t have a car available to check on the parental abode and rather than ask him to change his plans, I drove down, set the heat, pumped a bit from the pool cover, piled things in piles, shifted nine bags of clothes/towels/sheets/&c. to the Goodwill and … had lunch with his nibs.

Lunch was our usual (if not Thai Orchid) place: Taco Bell. Fears of green onion? chopped lettuce? E.coli? Death? Not us. Death by Chalupa, maybe.

Call me totally unaware. We don’t watch TV, so we don’t get the commercials. We don’t pay much attention to print ads.

Today at Taco Bell, I was introduced to the ad theme of “the fourth meal. … the meal between dinner and breakfast.”

You know that meal … the meal that makes 127 million Americans overweight, and 60 million obese. (*)

There’s even a very lame Web sitevery lame I say because I tried it because I wanted to see what was being offered, and …why? Why have this site at all? I exited about three clicks into the experience.

The thing that bothers me most about all this is the Taco Bell ad agency thinking it would be a great idea to convince folks who eat at Taco Bell that a fourth meal between dinner and breakfast is not an aberration and “munchies” (uh.oh.) but an ‘onest-to-gosh extra meal in the day that everyone knows about and eats and you should too.

Bad enough I eat chalupas at lunch: ghod spare me from the day when I think a mid-evening “meal” of chalupas is nothing out of the ordinary, nothing I ought to be having second thoughts about.


That copy writer ought to have zir mouth washed out with soap.

Whoever designed the Web site needs a spanking, too.

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