Lance Arthur: Fucking Brilliant 2003
If you're cool, you'll buy Lance's book.
Being There: Go North 2003
My second column in the SF Bay Guardian is now online for your reading pleasure.
WHAT BETTER TIME than the holidays to abdicate all responsibility and leave town? Family members, the social whirl, and shopping are all tiring. Save your sanity by giving yourself a present this year and taking time off solo. You don't even have to go very far to feel a world away, since some of the most beautiful scenery to be found anywhere is conveniently located just minutes north of San Francisco.
Here's the plan: make your reservations, take a day and a half off from work, and head north on a Thursday afternoon. Be sure to stock your car with the music that makes you feel great. Turn it up and sing along as you drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. Some people have to fly across the country for this pleasure, but you've got this bright orange beauty waiting for you any day of the week. She may be pushing 70, but she's hotter than any teenybopper landmark in town.
Once across the bridge, take the Stinson Beach/Highway 1 exit. When you get in among the eucalyptus trees, roll down your window and enjoy that wonderful lush smell. Your first potential getaway is here, just 20 minutes from the bridge (and within biking or public transit range for nondrivers), at the Pelican Inn (415-383-6000, www.pelicaninn.com) in Muir Beach. Reserve one of seven rooms (rates start at $201 a night) in this Tudor country inn and enjoy a weekend of hearty English fare, beautiful hikes in the hills and on the beach nearby, and an authentic pub in which to recuperate.
Those looking to get a bit farther from home should continue north, reveling in the glorious landscapes of Highway 1 as it passes through farmlands and forests as well as traces the cliffs defining the western boundary of the United States. Driving this route I always slide into long reveries that are, at least for me, the hallmark of the best vacations. Lest all this introspection becomes too serious, fans of salt-water taffy are advised to stop in Bodega Bay when they see the little pink-and-white-striped building on the ocean side of the highway to obtain chewy, silly treats.
Continue north until you come to the outflow of the Russian River at Jenner. This tiny town between two and three hours north of San Francisco is a good place to stop, stretch your legs, use the rustic rest rooms by the boat launch, and prepare yourself for the twisty road ahead. The 20 miles of highway north of Jenner are a curving adventure to drive. Take it as slow as you need to, follow the speed limit signs, and make frequent use of the turnouts when those more familiar with the physics of this stretch of road get backed up behind you. It's all worth it; trust me. The northern Sonoma and Mendocino coast region is breathtaking in its beauty, and the hassle of getting there helps keep it from being overcrowded.
It's a long way into the heart of Mendocino County, though, and despite the fact that getting there is part of the fun, driving more than four hours is just too much driving. Thus I recommend getting accommodations near the Sonoma County border. My favorite are the rental houses available through Serenisea (1-800-331-3836, www.serenisea.com) in Gualala. These are privately owned vacation homes you can rent when the owners aren't using them, and they are unparalleled in privacy and dramatic locations. You would think that renting an entire house located on gorgeous cliff-front property with a hot tub overlooking the surf would cost an unbelievable amount, but actually Serenisea rentals are comparable with renting one room in a nice hotel. Many of them also accommodate more than two people at a nominal additional charge, so if you can't afford it alone, grab your best friends to divide and conquer.
Another great place to stay is in one of the charming yellow cottages of Mar Vista (1-877-855-3522, www.marvistamendocino.com) in Anchor Bay just north of Gualala. Your hosts will support your need for privacy and independence while still being close at hand to get you an extra dog towel for your happy, sand-covered friend or help you choose a few fresh vegetables from the organic gardens for your dinner. Like the Serenisea rentals, these cottages have kitchens so you can save a few pennies by cooking your own meals. There are great grocery stores in Anchor Bay and Gualala, so you don't have to worry about shopping before you head north.
If your pocketbook permits, treat yourself to a sublime dinner at Pangea (707-884-9669) in Gualala or under the fanciful wooden onion dome in the dining room at St. Orres (707-884-3335, www.saintorres.com), also in Gualala. The hotel and cottages of St. Orres provide one more alternative for accommodation, though the proximity to the excellent and expensive restaurant should be considered a significant risk to both budget and diet.
Wherever you're thinking of going, do go. You deserve it.
MetaGrrrl is the pen name of Dinah Sanders, who lives at www.metagrrrl.com.
Damn. Damndamndamndamndamn. 2003
Back in June I pre-ordered the Extended Edition DVD of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
This weekend I read two weblog entries by people who'd already watched it, so I expected that it would be waiting for me today at work (where I have things shipped since we haven't got a mailslot in our door). I was already anticipating the bliss of the extra 43 minutes of footage, of hours & hours of special features, after waiting 6 months to be able to pre-order it and 5 months for it to be released.
This morning (why not weeks ago, Amazon? Huh? why not weeks ago? or when I logged in to place other orders?) I got a notification from Amazon that they hadn't shipped my order because the credit card I used to pre-order it had expired.
Don't expect me to be cheerful today.
This is going to be well worth the measly $20 a year 2003
It's been 28 hours. Knowspam has already blocked almost 700 spam messages for me. I am already thinking about what I'll do with the time I won't have wasted by this garbage anymore.
(If you're curious, the only reason I saw the subject line of the spam mentioned in my last post is that I was just reviewing the held messages and fine-tuning my settings to be sure nothing I want was being blocked. I am given to understand that most Knowspam users stop doing that after 2 weeks or a month and can just trust the service to automatically handle sorting the mail into "real" and "crap").
What kind of person are you? 2003
Okay, it's the weekend before Thanksgiving and you recieve a piece of spam with the subject line "Customized stockings for your pet". Do you,
a) think of Christmas morning?
b) picture a small brown dog in garters & fishnets looking confused?
If you're like me, it takes a moment to figure out they mean a.
Recommended open-source forum tools? 2003
One of my co-workers needs to set up a BBS-style forum with a web interface for communication within her group. She's looking for something Jive-like or otherwise spiffy. It should include a search feature. She'd prefer that it not use ASP pages and I don't blame her. Does anyone have any recommendations of a good Unix program for this?
The other approach to the problem 2003
The U.S. is at it again. Trying to solve problems the only way this administration (and indeed most U.S. administrations) know how, with a hammer. That's not the only way.
Explosions, shortages, instability: In Baghdad, it's back to the futureNow I realize the circumstances in Baghdad make it much harder to effect peace, but not that much harder.
While there is trouble in central and northern Iraq, Basra and its hinterland in the south of the country is in relative peace, with the beginnings of a civic society, and tolerance towards the British occupiers.
In the daily reports of conflict, the British have become the forgotten army. And news of the Americans unleashing their ferocious firepower on the cities is greeted with raised eyebrows. Washington, twice, asked for British soldiers, paratroopers to be sent to Baghdad, and twice has been refused.
One young British soldier said yesterday: " Look, we are not here to fight a war now, I thought that was finished. The Yanks are fighting a war again, but we should not go down that path. I am very, very sorry for the kids getting killed, but we don't have to get involved."
The fundamental problem is that our government and the powerful in this country (corporations and the media) profit from fear, uncertainty and doubt. War is good for business.
We have to change that. We have to make it too costly and we have to make clearer the profitability of peace. It's time to replace the constant barrage of FUD with curiousity, respect and trust.
SXSW 2003: Dumb Mobs and Instant Nostalgia 2003
I was just working on adding folks to my people list (over there on the about this website page) and, of course, got sidetracked into reading the sites as I added them. No wonder this is taking so long.
Now I'm starting to get more excited than ever about the next SXSW conference. I read my pal Nikolai's comments on the last one and completely agree with his conclusion:
Every day should be like SXSW.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) 2003
I highly recommend the new film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World to any fans of the original books. Crowe and Bettany give beautiful portrayals of Capt. Jack Aubrey and surgeon Stephen Maturin.
One piece of advice, though, for any viewer of the film: recognize that it is one of those pieces of music which combines two very different themes, one brisk and lively, one slower and more contemplative. It is as much character portrait as it is historical action film.
Oh, and the ship is beautiful. Amazing what you can achieve when you really build something.
Now that's service. 2003
At work we send email to the "supplies" mail address to request things. Today I wrote:
I would like
- a box of refills for papermate flexgrip ultra fine in blue
- 1 each of that type pen in purple and green
- 3 more pads of the ~3" square post-it notes
- a pony
In the afternoon, Jem came by with a red envelope. It contained pens and post-it notes on the top of one of which was drawn a really great pony. My pony had a pile of poo behind it and the message "Ponies bring great responsibility."
Later I got an email from her that said:
Done. Sorry, no refills so I gave you regular ol pens, but you're lucky: you got the last pony.
I really like the people I work with.
SXSW baby! 2003
Yes, it's November, but it's not too soon to make plans.
I just registered, booked my flight and started looking into getting a hotel room for SXSW.
I'm looking forward to it very much. Missing the last one sucked. Plus this time I have the added excitement of moderating my first panel. Whee! (People who've put together panels in the past are laughing quietly at me behind their hands now, I suspect).
[Wrote this Friday or so, but forgot to set it to post instead of draft mode]
The current administration, for example 2003
If people were not wicked I should not mind their being stupid; but, to our misfortune, they are both.
[Thanks to Uncle Larry as usual for quotey goodness]
day off 2003
"B-Day Chris, PTO" [noted on old calendar]
A Night Out With The Elite 2003
Tonight, though I enjoyed the films and was glad I got to attend Reel Food, a benefit for Project Open Hand, I had rubbed into my skin, or perhaps stuck under the skin to permeate me with flavor while I was abraded with herbs (pronounced herbs, not erbs, because there's a fucking H in it), a simple truth about me.
I find rich people exhausting.
This is probably why I don't have a lot of fantasies about being rich. I have fantasies about being out of debt, about getting my family out of debt, about being able to actually afford property in California, and about not having to go to work, but I don't dream of spending my time on tennis lessons, driving my SUV to the spa, and buying Prada and Gucci and Tommy what's-his-ass (who is so desperate to be acknowledged he has to put his name in 48 point type across people's abdomens).
Tonight I saw a documentary called "Our Lady of Tamale" about San Franciscan Virginia Ramos who brings joy to Mission District barflies with her lovely tamales and I learned two things: give people love & it will come back to you and I love San Francisco & the freaks who call it home.
I also saw the premiere of a documentary about chef Cat Cora and learned two things: be true to who you are and I never ever ever want to live with a professional chef.
I've never expected to be what Fortune magazine calls successful. I want to be liked and respected by my peers and love & be loved by my friends & family. I want to tell my story and be myself. I enjoy connecting people with stories and ideas, first in bookstores, now through library catalogs and supporting local storytellers and authors.
So I guess I've made it. I am, by my own terms, a success. Now I can relax and enjoy the adventure. I'm not striving for anything other than to continue doing what I do well, and to do it better. Maybe I'll develop a new dream that I'll have to struggle for years to attain, like I did with my bookstore. Or maybe not.
Maybe the new challenge is to get good enough at my still-new-to-me-though-I've-been-at-it-over-a-year job that I can come home in the evening and on weekends and have energy for my own projects. The other product managers tell me it takes two years to really get your feet under you. I hope they're right that that's all it takes and that it will get easier and less tiring. I have stories to tell and broken links to fix. I have a basement to clean and walks to be taken. I'm proud that I don't let my work drag me to sickness and exhaustion as I used to, but I miss that energy that seems to have disappeared over the last few years. Maybe this is what cutting yourself a little slack feels like.
I've got three! 2003
Uncles, and aunts, and cousins, are all very well, and fathers and mothers are not to be despised, but a grandmother, at holiday time, is worth them all.
[Thanks to Uncle Larry for the quotey goodness]
Permutations of My Name 2003
(#4 in a series):
Some sandwich place that provided our lunch at work, November 5, 2003 - Diral
"Castro Halloween: No booze, mixed reviews / Many pleased with sober event as (real) cops keep order in S.F." 2003
The San Francisco Chronicle clearly had a spin they wanted to put on the story of last night's party in the Castro. At 10:30pm last night I read an account of the evening as a flop. Cold, too few people in costume, no booze, no one dancing. But think about it; 10:30pm? How much before that time would they have been walking around the party? I mean, they have to write it, prep their pictures and get an editor to approve it. It wasn't blogged from a mobile phone.
So, let's be generous and say that process only took half an hour and that I happened upon the story the instant it went up. Between 9 and 10pm it was still sprinkling. Those in costume were waiting to see if it would clear up. Those who worked had gotten home, eaten dinner and were still putting on their costumes and heading out. Haven't these guys ever been in a night club? They're always dead until 10pm. Jeez.
Judging by the occasional bursts of music and bright laughter, the party went happily on well into the night. I needed earplugs to sleep, which doesn't imply a dead dull event to me.
So SFGate has a revised version of the article which is made up mostly of the pre-10pm quotes from early attendees waiting for the fun to start.
Blogs may not be journalism, but at least they have time stamps.