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Just before my heirloom tomato and mozzarella sandwich at Taylor's Refresher 2007


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Posted on August 31, 2007 at 12:00 PM in Food and Drink, San Francisco | Permalink | Comments (0)

After work beautiful evening activity 2007

Lovely evening view from the bar at Butterfly


The Kalua Pig (not Kahlua the coffee liqueur, Kalua the Hawaiian cooking style) appetizer rocks.

Joe at Butterfly


Hooray for impromptu walks and impulse stops for appetizers & drinks!

the fishing boat pier by the Seaman's Chapel


more of the Thursday night walk through Fisherman's Wharf

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A chance find on our random walk from the Financial District through Fisherman's Wharf and then over to the Marina was a full gallery of Femlin illustrations. (She is normally only found on the Playboy jokes page).

I am a huge Femlin fan.

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Posted on August 30, 2007 at 07:42 PM in creativity, relationships, San Francisco, the big room with the blue ceiling | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mmm, science and skepticism. 2007

I've got some good podcasts episodes from my many subscriptions for you today.

I've really been enjoying Point of Inquiry. Check out these two interviews:
Garrett G. Fagan - loads of fun hearing this author of Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudo-archaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public rip apart a whole bunch of false science about the past. This one is worth it for the incredibly long litany of proposed locations of Atlantis alone.

Peter H. Gilmore - this was a very surprising one. Turns out the Satanists don't believe in Satan as a god. Also, they call themselves a religion without believing in the supernatural at all. And their high priest turns out to be quite charming in interviews. I'm not drawn toward their church, but this interview cleared up lots of assumptions I'd made.

From the Science & the City podcast, this session with Oliver Sacks reminiscing fondly about his favorite parts of the table of chemical elements is just plain sweet.

A more recent session from this one was Alan Walker on the Search for "the Missing Link". Yum! Physical anthropology!

60-Second Science continues to be reliably rewarding. Check out this simple little news story about what does and doesn't work in health education: Abstintence-Only Programs Fail.

I've unsubscribed to a couple podcasts that I mentioned before, Science Update Podcast weekly edition (too fluffy) and This Week In Science (too much like annoying morning talk radio shows like Sarah & No Name on Alice), and subscribed to a new one, The Skeptics Guide To The Universe.

Posted on August 29, 2007 at 08:33 PM in Science | Permalink | Comments (1)

San Francisco bar etiquette 2007


Woman holding a seat for her date at Nopa

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Posted on August 29, 2007 at 12:01 PM in Food and Drink, San Francisco | Permalink | Comments (0)

Putzmeister! 2007


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Posted on August 29, 2007 at 12:00 PM in random synaptic firing, the big room with the blue ceiling, The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Castro cinema to see Metropolis 2007


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Posted on August 28, 2007 at 07:00 PM in Film, San Francisco | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning fashion 2007


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Posted on August 28, 2007 at 12:00 PM in San Francisco | Permalink | Comments (0)

Exploratorium 2007

Child almost entirely in Echo Tube at Exploratorium


When we first walked up there were just these pink-shoed feet sticking out. Hee hee!

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Posted on August 26, 2007 at 01:00 PM in creativity, San Francisco, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fascinating little building on Laguna near Market 2007


Sadly not in the SFPL historical photo collection on the library website.

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Posted on August 25, 2007 at 12:01 PM in San Francisco, the big room with the blue ceiling | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bufano sculpture of a cat with a mouse on its back 2007


At Valencia Gardens housing complex between Valencia & Mission. I think this piece and the others there (e.g. a bear with two cubs, some salmon, a rabbit) used to be up at the Randall Museum.

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Posted on August 25, 2007 at 12:00 PM in creativity, San Francisco | Permalink | Comments (0)

A big boat towing a towboat behind it? 2007


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Posted on August 24, 2007 at 12:00 PM in San Francisco, the big room with the blue ceiling | Permalink | Comments (0)

I will give you an Indian burn later when I'm eating your Apple Jacks.

- Robert Allen
June 25, 2007

Posted on August 22, 2007 at 06:49 PM in quotes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Make sure your anarchy symbol isn't tilted the wrong way. 2007


Clothes which no longer make a political statement, in this month's Wired

The Fashion supplement illustrates just how rigidly codified the punk look is these days. Plus bonus blows against goth, rave and mod.

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Posted on August 22, 2007 at 12:02 PM in warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Art is everywhere 2007


Guys drawing Market Street from a road divider.

Posted on August 22, 2007 at 12:01 PM in creativity, San Francisco | Permalink | Comments (0)

Flickr in the wild 2007


Given that I did just that from my Samsung indicates Treo doesn't have the lock on this, but the sentiment is pleasing, as is the flower photo being uploaded.


Posted on August 22, 2007 at 12:00 PM in tools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nice bit of graffiti 2007


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Posted on August 20, 2007 at 12:00 PM in creativity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Setting up a home bar 2007

I put together the following tips for a friend, but thought others might find them interesting too:

Starting (snob-friendly) bar supplies:

good fresh ice (you can store fresh cubes in tupperware in the freezer so they don't pick up flavors from other things)

I have both a lidded kind and the combined glass/metal kind. I haven't got the hang of shaking with the latter yet, but the big metal base is great for stirred drinks. My lidded one is kind of like this one but a bit more squat

cocktail strainer

measuring cup
I much prefer these little cups to traditional jiggers. As with all your mixing gear, just rinse right after you serve the drink and they stay clean and nice (sticky liquors are a pain to scrub later when they've started to dry).

bar spoon
e.g. something like this

channel knife (for making twists)
e.g. something like this

(And you'll also want to have on hand a cutting board for citrus, a good paring knife, a bar towel to wipe spills, and some means of extracting the juice from fresh fruit).

The booze.
Think about your & your most frequent guests' favorite drinks. You'll want to start your cabinet around these.

Say, for example, the drinks are Manhattan, Martini, Margarita, Lemon Drop, and Cosmopolitan.

The Manhattan is most usually made with bourbon and sweet vermouth with a dash of bitters, but the correct spirit for it is rye which really makes a much better drink (IMNSHO). It is garnished with a cherry.

The Martini can be made with either gin (traditionally) or vodka, a breath of dry vermouth, and garnished with an olive, onion, or lemon twist.

The Margarita calls for tequila, triple sec (preferably Cointreau), and fresh lemon and lime juices. It is garnished with a lime wedge or wheel.

The Lemon Drop calls for citrus-flavored vodka, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup. It is garnished with a lemon wheel.

The Cosmopolitan is made of vodka, triple sec (preferably Cointreau), cranberry juice, and fresh lime juice, with a lime wheel garnish.

So here's the shopping list (to be accumulated as funds permit in order of frequency with which you'll want your handful of featured drinks).

1 bottle bourbon - Maker's Mark or Wild Turkey 101 will do, Knob Creek is preferable.
***upgrade: Bulleit
***variant: Old Overholt rye

1 bottle sweet vermouth - Martini & Rossi is good
***upgrade: Carpano Antica

1 bottle bitters: try to get Orange Bitters (preferably Fee's) but settle for good ol' Angostura
***trick: a few dashes of bitters in a pint glass of soda water will settle an upset stomach

1 jar cherries: the best you can afford, ideally getting as far from those alarmingly bright colored ones for Shirley Temple drinks toward the less sugar & red dye #2 end of the spectrum.
***upgrade: Luxardo brandied cherries (We got a jar of these at Dean & Deluca and they are the bee's knees).

1 bottle gin: I favor Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray.
***variant: Hendricks (with which you should garnish martinis with a cucumber slice rather than an olive or onion for best results).

1 bottle dry vermouth: Noilly Prat
***variant: Lillet Blanc

1 jar cocktail olives: quality helps, but you can be less fussy about these than the cherries
***variant: cocktail onions

1 bottle tequila: Herradura Silver

1 bottle triple sec: Cointreau. Yes, it's pricey, but nothing else is as good and you'll use little bits in lots of drinks.

1 bottle vodka: given the Lemon Drop in our hypothetical list, I'd start with the Citron version of your favorite vodka. Absolut is always safe, but if your crowd is label conscious, buy the damn Ketel One.
***variant/upgrade: Grey Goose unflavored, for martinis with a lemon twist.

Small bottle cranberry juice

Simple syrup? Make it in small amounts & store in the fridge, it's comically easy:
(I don't agree with Alberta all the time, but this is a good video to show just how damn simple this syrup is).

Fruit? Buy it fresh, with a good-looking rind for zesting & garnishes.

Where to go after these? Try cocktails from good bartenders and see what else you like. Also note what your guests ask for. Probably some scotch is the next on the list; I recommend the Balvenie Doublewood as a good place to start with single malts.

All these drinks look great served in cocktail glasses (or what is commonly called a martini glass), but they taste fine in any glass which is as wide or wider at the top than the bottom and which has about a 6oz capacity. (Yes it's more work for the bartender, but almost all cocktails should be enjoyed while still quite chilly so smaller servers are better. This is also why cocktail glasses - with their long stems keeping the warmth of your hand away from the drink - are ideal).
Joe and I are partial to the Luminarc 5oz which we were able to get in bulk at a restaurant supply place. Here's a picture 
Their 1/3 bowl, 2/3 stem proportion is very elegant and makes for a good (small) drink size and nice presentation.

Putting some spin on it:
Manhattan - make it with rye and orange bitters for a proper one; substitute scotch for a Rob Roy.

Martini - 2oz gin, 1oz vodka and 1/2oz of Lillet Blanc garnished with an orange wheel will give you the delightful Vesper, of Casino Royale fame. Or try out the ancestor of the Martini, the gin-based Martinez.

Margarita - get a bottle of light rum and you can offer Daiquiris instead.

Lemon Drop - this is basically a Daiquiri with vodka, you can also jump off from here to a Delilah by substituting gin for the vodka, adding 3/4oz of Cointreau and leaving out the simple syrup.

Cosmopolitan - described as a "juice box for yuppies", it's not actually as bad as its reputation, provided you do not put simple syrup or Rose's "lime juice" in it. Still, you could try to up the ante by introducing your guest to the Sidecar (which does require a decent cognac in your bar).

Happy hosting!

Posted on August 19, 2007 at 07:06 PM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (4)

I actually kind of like it when our information appliance goes berzerk 2007


At least I do when I'm not checking the weather forecast, next bus time or calendar events...

accidental art

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Posted on August 19, 2007 at 12:00 PM in tools, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brunch with Fil 2007

[according to Joe's Google Calendar]

Posted on August 18, 2007 at 11:00 AM in friends & family | Permalink | Comments (0)

Robert in his beautiful new car giving Dennis & I a ride home over the Bay Bridge 2007


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the new spike on the San Francisco skyline


Mmm, the view from a convertible...

Dennis in the convertible in the sun


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Posted on August 16, 2007 at 12:00 PM in friends & family, San Francisco | Permalink | Comments (0)

“I am inclined to think, sir, that perhaps the two most valuable and satisfactory characteristic products of American civilization are the librarian, on the one hand, and the cocktail on the other. I will not attempt, sir, the delicate question of deciding which is best, but I am given to understand that some of us have sampled both and found them equally satisfactory and equally stimulating.”

—Croydon (England) Public Librarian L. Stanley Jast, responding on behalf of overseas visitors to a welcoming address by Louisiana Purchase Exposition President David Francis, at the first session of ALA Annual Conference, Oct. 17, 1904, held at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

[many thanks to American Libraries Direct, newsletter of the American Library Association, for calling my attention to this excellent quote]

Posted on August 12, 2007 at 03:44 PM in quotes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Creative ways to destroy old backup tapes 2007

The user group for the products of the company I work for had an amusing thread a while back about good methods for destroying old backup tapes from servers.

Among my favorite suggestions:
- Put them on the magnetic security desensitizer and bang them several times
- Microwave DVDs/CDs "Smells bad, but a good light show"
- Give them to your medical professional spouse to run them through an MRI scanner

But the hands down winner?
"The tape itself is great for tying plants to supports stakes in the garden.  The old 1/2" stuff was best, 2400' would handle a lot of tomatoes, but 1/4" should still do."

Posted on August 12, 2007 at 03:31 PM in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Your dryads must go into black gloves, Madam: their father-in-law, Lady Nature’s second husband, is dead!"

Horace Walpole to Lady Ossory upon the death of the landscape architect Capability Brown

Posted on August 12, 2007 at 02:59 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling | Permalink | Comments (0)

The anti-recommendation 2007

I do wish Yelp (and sites like it) had a way for you to mark a review as "not tall enough to ride this ride" or "not for you" or "antithesis" or something to indicate that the negative review indicates exactly the kind of person who one is trying to avoid and who will therefore not be so likely to be found at this particular place.

The reviews of Bourbon & Branch by clueless party kids ("My girlfriends and I couldn't talk at the top of our lungs or people told us to quiet down, that's soooo WACK!" "They told me the smoking area isn't inside, it's O'Farrell Street! What the hell?") are prime illustrations.

I marked a few as "useful" but then realized I might be giving props to bad writers so have stopped.

Posted on August 11, 2007 at 03:17 PM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (1)

I work for a company which I don't talk about on my personal blog for all the usual non-Googleability and separation of personal & professional life reasons, however, every now and then something has to slip across the line.

After the seasonal dessert reception at a big conference where we had some mighty amazing decorations:

"We ate the piano, Jim and I."

    - Jean A.
    January 2007

Posted on August 11, 2007 at 01:49 PM in quotes | Permalink | Comments (0)

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