Thursday, February 26, 2004

lightning strikes

cool weather here... at least cool from the perspective of one not affected by flooding or mud slides.

a heavy, dogs, cats and cows kind of rain yesterday morning, after a nice of blustery winds and long downpours. It kept up most of the day, and ended in another rarity -- an electrical storm moving over the city. I got to watch a couple lightning strikes in the civic center area, nice big forks crashing over the city. I wished my K1000 camera was not buried away somewhere in a nameless box, otherwise I could have had some great shots.

today has been a parade of clouds and sun, and just recently a wash of hail. whitening the sidewalks and car tops for a brief moment or two.

still, it was nothing like this storm

Monday, February 23, 2004

hurray for newsom

I didn't think I would be saying this. I did not vote for him. I thought our newly appointed mayor was going to turn out to be a somewhat slightly better mayor than willie brown, but that essentially it would be business as usual. That is all about Business.

But it turns out that his exterior image of politician caricature hid something from me. A kernel of decency perhaps. One could put this all down to politics and say that he did this to win over the Gay vote, but really, he probably already had the majority of that vote. He probably has gained some votes from people on my side of the spectrum, but the next election is 4 years away.

I'm glad I never reached the level of saying "he is evil" that some in the SF Progressive movement seemed fond of chanting. I just did not trust him. Now... I'm not sure if Ammiano had been elected mayor that he would have taken this step.

It was a brave thing. And they deserve to be married -- all of those who desire it.

a bird

I was up on bernal heights the other day, testing the car to make sure the mechanics had fixed its little stutter, and there was this bird.

The wind was whipping around the hill pretty fierce. And this bird was flying in place. It didn't look as though it was actually trying to get anywhere, it looked as though it was just testing its prowess or that maybe it just felt good. It would flap its wings a bit, and then just start tweaking wings and tail to try and stay afloat -- a surfer of the sky.

It would finally let get and the wind immediately shoved it back, and he'd do a nice little s-turn and start over.

Should it be that surprising that animals like humans get a rush from purely physical entertainment? surfing, snow boarding down hills, jumping out of airplanes, hanging from cliffs.

Friday, February 20, 2004


another day of clarity. as i was making my way to little corner cafe, riding down 20th, it was one of those moments, where I felt I could see halfway round the world, everything crisp and clear as if I just stepped out of the optometrist with new glasses.

the kids greeted me more enthusiastically then they ever have. the effects of having their teacher out for the day. given an inch of room they are not to be controlled. we had a hard time getting anywhere until they were reading, the substitute was not having a pleasant day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


we've gone from super wet to beautiful blue skies today. the rain we've have found makes an awful clatter coming down the gutter that is a few feet from where our bed now sits. strangely enough it makes more clatter when the rain is not as hard.

our new apartment is crammed full of stuff and we've not really had buckets of time to undo the mess. liz's travel monsoon begins as San Francisco's monsoons end.

we are fully moved though, and entirely removed from the old place. it was sad leaving the keys behind, and I was mad that I had forgotten my camera for one last shot of the garden. shotwell street has done us well, and it is hard to leave the number 1066 behind.

especially when, in the end, we are getting less for more. there just did not seem to be a lot of options.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

boycott safeway: one day longer, one day stronger

today I protested with a couple hundred of my union brothers and sisters in front of the Pacific Stock Exchange. It was a great protest on message, good speakers, great weather, good audience.

We were protesting the lockout of 70,000 Safeway workers in Southern California. What's at stake is not just their health insurance, but eventually the health care of all union workers. Safeway has already lost enough money to pay for the insurance, and they are a profitable company. What gives.

We were their to highlight this fact to the investors, the current CEO behind the lockout, Steve Burd has just got to go.

more info

big old dog

I lost the keys to my new apartment yesterday somehow -- it was a bad day -- so tonight I went to meet a guy from the property management company to get new keys. I was waiting on the porch and who should come along but this big old lump of a golden retriever.

We'd met him the day we moved in, and he had come over with a big stuffed rabbit in his mouth, his tail wagging his body, greeting us as we were hanging out on the steps snacking. Tonight he had not one stuffed animal, but two. I accidently knocked one from his mouth, and when I placed it in front of him again, he dropped the other one, took the smaller one in his mouth, placed it on the bigger one, and then picked the two up again. Smart dog! I thought.

It was a nice evening, a couple new friends of mine stopped by to check out the apartment -- they had been looking as well and wanted to see what we got; a long time friend who lives on the street walked by; a couple of my neighbors; and finally a girlfriend of a coworker as I was pedaling home.

A good day.

Monday, February 09, 2004

smooth move

thanks to the ample arms and cars of a number of friends (eric, eric, grace, bob, kira, 'deep, doug, and peat) the norman conquest is now nearly empty of books, clothes and other miscellani.

it's kind of sad being home. the wall before my computer is bare, and our bookshelves stand empty. i itch to fill them.

this morning i discovered the best way to wait for utility companies. give them your cell phone number and let them call you when they actually arrive. I discovered this unwittingly this morning -- I had thought I had made an appointment for NEXT monday -- but just as I was leaving for work, I got a call from a somewhat irate call from a PG&E gasman.

note, that this route does leave you with rather surly service. he almost left before I could get him to invesitage a heavy smell of gas in the front room, and he nearly waved me off even then "Gas? you might smell dirt. But when he went in, he went out again and got his box, and made some adjustments, and then went back and checked the other heater to boot."

I was glad I listened to my (rather ineffective) sense of smell on that one.


yesterday was also notable in that the weather turned and it was actually warm at times. Still a but nippy in the shade, but today I didn't even need my gloves biking home. A first for several months. Looking forward to some surprising warm spring days where biking is an absolute joy instead of just a plain old joy.

Monday, February 02, 2004


today started with a lovely downpour. despite a fairly short walk I ended up rather wet at work.

a friend took this picture below:
Bob's picture

book review: quicksilver

quicksilver by neal stephenson is a thick tome that should not be approached lightly. the book offers many of the hallmarks of stephenson books: well drawn, quirky characters, with witty dialog and verbal riposting; some era undergoing some level of crazy changes; often beautiful descriptive writing that at its best can show you something in whole new light.

the best example of this latter hallmark is his description of the Minerva, a sailing ship trying to carry the novels chief character back to United Kingdom from America. Their are two passages in particular that talk about the ship as a living thing that is constantly being shaped and rebuilt by the in habiting sailors. I went back those passages several times.

there were plenty of other times though where I felt I should go back and reread things for lack of understanding, but I couldn't bear the thought of it.

the book is fascinating at times, exploring the intermingling of science and politics during the English Restoration of Charles II and the Glorious Revolution that replaced "the pretender" James II with William (of Orange) and Mary. Important characters include scientists like Robert Hooke, Huygens, Leibnez, and all sorts of British, French and European royalty.

the first third is a glorious romp through the trials present at the birth of the scientific merit in all its blood and glory. it is told as Daniel Waterhouse's memorys as he sails back to England to resolve a dispute between Netwon and Leibnez.

strangely and inexplicably, that narrative is dropped entirely. we never learn what happens when daniel gets back to england ( maybe it is not important or is to be told in the next book? ) nor do we learn why the pirate blackbeard was after him ( ditto ).

the 2nd third of the book is the story of jack shaftoe and eliza. A vagabond soldier and the Turkish slave he frees during the failed seige of Vienna. this is an amusing romp through another plane of existence entirely. Jack an unprincipled wretch whose exploits become reknowned among the downtrodden of the continent, Eliza a whip smart woman who at first chance begins to propel herself into being a Person of Quality.

the last third of the book is a culmination of many lines of politics and science and ends in the Glorious Revolution where William and Mary are crowned. But as with many of Mr Stephensons endings fails to move me... I couldn't help wondering why I should care, and whether or not I had missed something. Cryptonomicom his last novel, while as long and filled with nearly the same level of deep erudite knowledge, somehow ended, and I felt as though I had actually gone somewhere.

indeed, in one section, Eliza writes long intense letters that are long and intense because they are encyrpted and mask a simpler message hidden underneath. i couldn't help but wonder if Quicksilver was an encyrpted message as well, and I just lack the key.