Towse: views from the hill

March 26, 2012

Filed under: photographs — Tags: , , , — Towse @ 3:31 pm

This week’s challenge: Rain.

Taken through the windshield of the Mini Cooper on a very rainy day.
Mendocino Headlands. 25-Jan-2010.

Mendocino Headlands. 2010-Jan-25

July 16, 2011

Photo Friday challenge: Seashore

Filed under: photographs — Tags: , , , — Towse @ 3:00 pm

This week’s challenge: Seashore

Big Sur beach and sky

Big Sur beach and sky 3 Oct 2009

April 23, 2010

Views of the Hills

Filed under: photographs — Tags: , , — Towse @ 3:25 pm

California spring wildflowers

Taken 06 April 2010. Off Cholame Valley Rd, north of Hwys 41/46. San Luis Obispo County.

April 13, 2010

It’s National Library Week, so let’s talk about libraries.

Filed under: libraries — Tags: , — Towse @ 5:47 pm

It’s National Library Week, so let’s talk about libraries, but first, let’s listen to Neil Gaiman talk about why he loves libraries. (He claims librarians have asked him not to describe himself as “a feral child raised by librarians.”)

Read Twelve Ways Libraries Are Good For The Country and Ten Reasons Why The Internet Is No Substitute For A Library.

Done? Good. I’ll continue with my library-centric post. …

I was talking last night with a good friend about my pet hobby horse: the location for the revamped North Beach Library — where it should (and shouldn’t) be.

She said, well, we don’t need to worry so much about the fact that the location being considered will only allow a 10-15% expansion of the collection forever and ever after because, really, with the way technology is evolving there shouldn’t be much need for expansion in the future. Libraries aren’t growing like they used to, she said, or words to that effect.

Au contraire, I said. Library visits and circulation stats are booming. People assume that cheap books from Amazon and access to the Web are decreasing library usage, but the exact opposite is true.

Here, take a look at the 2009 California state statistics [PDF file].

Circulation per capita at California public libraries has increased 5% over the past five years. The State mean circulation per capita is 5.78 items. San Francisco clocks in at 10.11.

Stats from the ALA for the nation as a whole show similar trends.

In Los Angeles, about 18 million people visited the city’s 72 libraries in the fiscal year ended in June 2008, up 12 percent from the previous year. Result: a 10 percent spike in checkouts, to a total of 17.2 million books, DVDs, CDs, and other material.
—Los Angeles Daily News

Art Brodsky wrote Our Public Library Lifeline Is Fraying. We’ll Be Sorry When it Snaps for Huffington Post a couple days ago. He talks about the challenges libraries are currently facing.

Support your local library and the library staff not just during National Library Week but 24/7/365. They’re hard working and working harder.

A final note — an excerpt from something Vartan Gregorian wrote in 1999 (complete text here) when he was President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York:

Public libraries in our midst are so much taken for granted that their significance as living institutions is in danger of becoming lost to us. Libraries contain the heritage of humanity, the record of its triumphs and failures and of its intellectual, scientific, and artistic achievements, and its collective memory. Libraries are not only repositories of past human endeavor, they provide tools for learning, understanding, and progress. They are a laboratory of human aspiration and a source of self-renewal, intellectual growth, and hope.

Update: Another why-I-love-libraries Neil Gaiman interview, given in his role as honorary chair of National Library Week.

April 8, 2010

California Spring Wildflowers

Filed under: photographs — Tags: , , — Towse @ 4:50 pm

Hwy 41 east of junction with Hwy 46

Still needing time away even after being away for so long. We drifted away for a few days to see if we could find any wildflowers this year. A few years back we saw spectacular multi-color drifts of flowers splashing down the hillsides, but the last few years we saw beautiful rolling hills, but not too many flowers. Too late, I think, or maybe not enough rain.

This year was a great year. We left earlier this week, got back yesterday. Our route was as follows …

Day One: From SF south on 101 to the 25 cutoff to Hollister. Through Hollister and Tres Pinos to Paicines, then down Panoche Rd to Panoche and beyond, on the way to New Idria. We turned back short of New Idria and backtracked to Panoche and a little bit more and took the turn onto Little Panoche Rd past Mercey Hot Springs and on to I5. We turned south on I5 and turned in for the day at a Motel 6 at I5 in Coalinga.

Day Two: Back on I5. Headed south toward Kettleman City. Took Hwy 41 west toward Cholame. Immediately past where Hwy 41 and Hwy 46 meet (the spot where James Dean had his fatal car crash) we took a right (north) on Cholame Valley Road and drove for about seven miles before turning back to the 41/46 intersection.

The best views of flowers for the entire trip were at the turnoff on 41 just above the grade down to the junction with 46 and along Cholame Valley Rd.

We turned right off Cholame Valley Road, onto 41/46, and almost immediately turned left (south) onto Davis Rd, heading toward Annette. We followed Davis Road to Annette and then turned down to where Annette Rd intersects with Bitterwater Road. At that intersection we discovered that the old store that we’d taken photos of last year had fallen to ruin.

Intersection of Bitterwater and Annette

Headed northwest on Bitterwater to 41/46, then southwest toward Shandon, peeling off onto 46 just before Shandon and continuing on through Paso Robles to 101.

101 N to San Miguel. Mission St. to N River Rd to Indian Valley Rd. Headed N on Indian Valley Rd until it deadended in Peach Tree Rd. Turned left (N). Peach Tree Rd turns into 25 and becomes Airline Hwy. Took a left (W) onto Lonoak Rd and headed into King City. Motel 6 on Broadway in King City.

Day Three: Final morning we headed out of King City, taking 101 north to Greenfield. Took Elm Street west until it became County Road G 16 and then met up with Arroyo Seco Rd. Took Arroyo Seco/G16 west until G16 became Carmel Valley Rd. Followed it up over the hills, through the Hastings Nature Reserve (UC) and on to Carmel Valley then on to Hwy 1 and Carmel.

Took Hwy 1 N through Monterey and Watsonville and Santa Cruz and further up the coast. Turned east on La Honda Road, through La Honda until we hit the Woodside city limits at which point we turned north on Skyline Blvd (Hwy 35) and drove to Hwy 92 and turned east. Took Hwy 35 off Hwy 92 right before Hwy 280 and followed it north until we came to the gates of the country club, headed east again and hooked up with Hwy 280 and trundled home.

I’ll edit this later showing where in the path various photos were taken, but until then, here’s a rough look (with imaginative names like IMG_3828.jpg) of the one hundred photos that most capture what was out in the hills this week.

Central California Hills and Wildflowers. April 2010

Took the Mini, of course.

Mini, taking a break whilst driver photographs roadside flowers

January 27, 2010

Storm waves. Mendocino coast

Filed under: photographs,weather — Tags: , , — Towse @ 12:56 am


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Cliff Way. Just south of Noyo Bay. One of a handful of photos taken through the Mini’s windshield. Too wet and windy out to play with my camera outside.

December 21, 2009

Why I plan to become affiliated again. …

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — Towse @ 7:36 pm

Soon … some time after the holidays, I’m planning to temporarily abandon my “decline to state” status and signup as a Republican before the primaries. The CA Republican Party does not allow decline-to-state voters to vote in their primaries and I want to throw my vote to Tom Campbell for the Republican nominee for CA governor.

Sure, sure. I don’t always agree with Tom’s positions — he and I don’t see eye-to-eye on the health care reform debate, f’rex — but he is a bright guy. Sharp as a tack. He thinks things through. He’s amenable to changing his mind when different factors are brought to his attention. (And back when he was my Congress critter, he answered my e-mails at 3A Washington, DC, time when I dropped him notes after midnight California time.)

He listens.

Why would I change my unaffiliated to Republican-affiliated? Because Meg Whitman is the front-runner in current polls and I do =not= want Meg Whitman as the Republican nominee. And Whitman as Governor? Oh, noes! Sure, I could vote in the Democratic Party primary as an unaffiliated voter, but voting there will probably not make a huge difference in which candidate (Jerry Brown, anyone?) is chosen to run.

Tom Campbell is a =much= better choice than Whitman, but knowing the state party, he probably won’t make the cut unless Meg really blows it between now and then or enough decline-to-states join (or re-join) the Republican party and vote for Campbell.

Update: For the June 2010 primary, it turns out, decline-to-states CAN vote in the Republican primary =if= you request a Republican ballot, either at your polling place on Election Day, or in advance by contacting your county elections office. Which is what I now plan to do. (Although the push this year to implement the bar failed, the push is still on within the party to bar decline-to-states from voting in future primaries, so be aware.)

June 18, 2009

Yosemite. 01-Nov-2006

Filed under: photographs — Tags: , , — Towse @ 11:06 pm

I was thumbing through pictures taken during a long weekend at Yosemite in late October, early November 2006. The valley was so peaceful and lovely. The deciduous trees had turned. The hikes up toward Vernal Falls and elsewhere were still open, pending the first snow. Not many people cluttering up the space.

I was trying to find a photo that captured it all, perhaps a cheery yellow-orange tree against a Half Dome backdrop, but I had cheery yellow-orange trees and I had granite, but the granite photos all seemed to have evergreens in front of them and the fall colors didn’t have granite in the background. Ah. Here’s one.

If you ever have a chance to go for a few days to Yosemite when the crowds of tourists have gone but the valley isn’t deep in snow, Go!

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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.

May 26, 2009

Memorial Day weekend in Paso Robles

Filed under: life — Tags: , — Towse @ 6:02 am

We were down for a long weekend on a fairly HUGE piece of dirt that friends own outside Paso Robles, on the west side, in the hills, before you get to the ocean and San Simeon/Cambria.

This was their tenth annual Memorial Day weekend but … for whatever reasons … we’ve never been before. (Last year we had something happening, the year before …)

We came this past weekend, bringing with us a charming teenager who lives in our fair ville, who needed a lift down to the party (unless someone from down in Paso was willing to drive four hours up to our fair ville and four hours back down with her.. and they would’ve been, but we promised to bring her with us).

The three of us arrived, after a four-hour drive, in time for chile verde and/or buffalo stew burritos on Friday night. We left after helping to pack up the tables and chairs and sundry furniture and stowing them in the workshop/barn on Monday morning.

These folks invite a lot of people. (More than fifty. Less than one hundred.)

Some arrive Friday. Some leave Monday. Few are there for the duration. Some bring some pretty hefty trailer-type vehicles. (HUGE! some of them) Some bring vehicles the youngsters can chew up road with. (Wear your helmet!)

Folks bring their dogs, ranging from petite chihuaha-type dogs to WOLF HOUNDS THAT WILL EAT YOU FOR LUNCH. Watching the social dynamics of the dog pack was an on-going entertainment.

Some guests stay with other party-attenders. Some go over to Cambria or San Simeon to grab a place to stay. Some come in from Paso — those who are relatives or high school chums. Most stay in tents, pitched on the grounds around the main house.

We were lucky (being the first to ask) to stay in the bunk house, with a bathroom and shower and EVERYTHING. (Plus the cabin is well-insulated so even when the evening temperatures dropped we were fine. We spread out sleeping bags on the futon …)

First thing in the morning, our host started a huge pot of coffee. From there the day progressed through food. more food. visit to the farmers’ market in Templeton. food. more food. drinks. drinks. more food. food. more drinks. dessert. drinks. And talk talk talk talk.

The guys cook. And others too. Burritos on Friday night. Salmon and pork ribs on Saturday night. Chicken on Sunday night. Sundry other stuff. Steam shovel vegetables. Desserts up the wahzoo. Salads. Hors d’oeuvres. Garlic bread. Caprese.

We also checked out the home of a close friend of our hostess (and work-related compadre of his nibs) on Sunday. His nibs had heard so much about the place while it was in the building phase and we were dead curious. Their home was less than five miles as the crow flies from Party Central, but almost fifteen miles by (sometimes dirt) road.

The house was not large, but the siting. …

Oh. My. The. Views. (¡Mira los robles!)

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A good weekend was had by us. A really good weekend. Nice people. Good food. Interesting guests. Bouncy dogs.

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