What's New? 2004-11

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What's New? 2004-11

 Friday 19 November 2004
  Oh, this has been a heck of a week: we come to realize that the roof needs replacing, the car's alternator isn't working (well, I guess it could be the battery), and my PowerBook isn't able to see the internal hard drive for the second time in as many months. I rant.
 Thursday 18 November 2004
  Dziadziu joins us at Peabody Elementary for a fund-raiser spaghetti dinner (for Mrs. Wong's fourth-grade class trip to Sacramento). The bizarre tale revolves around our family members each winning something from the raffle. Rose won a basket of house-cleaning supplies, then Isaac won a blanket, then Lila a stuffed kangaroo, and then I won a bar of "French milled soap" made in China. A few people won things in-between our winnings, but it was embarassing and not just a bit eerie.
 Tuesday 16 November 2004
  Lieutenant General John F. Sattler, USMC Á propos nothing at all, this is the second time in as many days that I've heard or read about Lieutenant General John F. Sattler, the Commanding General, First Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Fallujah, Iraq.

First off, any time one hears one's name spoken (on the radio, in this case) attention is given. Second, the father of one of Isaac's schoolmates is a private telecommunications contractor currently in Fallujah, and the wife is pregnant, and so we jump a little every time we hear the town of Fallujah mentioned.

When I was in the service there were very, very few Sattlers to be found.

 Monday 15 November 2004
Anna Nicole Smith

This photo of Anna Nicole Smith being "assisted backstage" at the American Music Awards (AP/Reed Saxon; used without permission) just tickles me. I'm not the only one who finds this funny: fark.com ran a commentary thread entitled "Anna Nicole Smith: drunk or just mildly retarded?"

 Sunday 14 November 2004
  The Emporer has no clothes. That's what I was thinking after a meal at Café Jacqueline (in North Beach). Chef-owner Jacqueline Margulis is the only bright spot in this otherwise pretentious eatery, and she was so nice that I'm really sad I didn't like the food, service, or wait staff. People who know me know I love food of all cuisines. So this isn't a "I went to a soufflé place and all they had was soufflés" kind of review.

Between the six of us we tried five soufflés, three main courses (salmon and asparagus, leek and chestnut, and chantrelle mushroom and garlic) and two desserts (bittersweet chocolate and Grand Manier).

The server said it best: "you can't really taste the mushrooms, you feel the mushrooms." That was it, in a nutshell (so to speak). There are so many places in the city to eat from which one walks away saying "wow! what an experience!" that this seemed so underwhelming.

Suggestions: B44 (Catalan), Osteria (Italian), Blowfish (sushi), Mom Is Cooking (Mexican), Picaro (Iberian), Red Grill (American).

 Tuesday 9 November 2004
  Michael Palin - Himalaya I've been watching Michael Palin's Himalaya series. There's nobody I like to hear talking about travel than him, and I have audio versions of several others in his adventures, but he seems a bit, well, off his game this time around. It seems a bit pro forma, but none of the insight or witty curiosity I've enjoyed in Around the World in 80 Days or Full Circle.

Travel documentaries make me feel wistful, even sad. I'll never have the resources to see as much of the world as I want to. I want to watch along, I want to turn away. But I always turn back.

Much of my unease stems from living on the wrong coast, as it were. Europe, from Scandinavia to Italy, has been my favorite stomping grounds. I can be understood all over, using some of the languages I know. We're near to Asia, here in San Francisco, but so far I haven't had the time and energy to roam through those countries. Omi Marga and I have always wanted to take a trip to Japan, but not so far.


Mozilla Firefox 1.0 released The Mozilla Firefox 1.0 web browser is released today. Is this going to be significant? I'm not sure. Certainly the efforts over the last half-dozen or more years in going from Netscape to Mozilla Firefox has not been either easy or quick, but their hearts are in the right place, and I hear the code is pretty good.

They *do* have a really great graphic, shown at right.

Every web browser is a compromize in look-and-feel. The art is in picking one with which you're comfortable, which extends your reach in ways which match your style. I've given up on Apple Safari in favor of OmniGroup OmniWeb; that's not to say I'm satisfied with my choices.

I'm hoping that the combination of open source code, a community writing plug-ins and extensions, and its platform-agnosticism - available for "Mac OS X", Linux, and Windows - carry some weight in a world which has spent too much time writing websites to deal with the poor citizen which is Microsoft Internet Explorer. To that end, Firefox will succeed if it reaches critical mass, and becomes the standard to which others make sites. Let's hope.

 Saturday 6 November 2004
  First thing this morning, after breakfast, Rose to Isaac and Lila to the West Portal School library for a Music Maker program. I hear the kids loved it. I don't know because I was at home, waiting for friends to drop off a king-sized mattress at the house. (Postponed until tomorrow evening.)

A substitute teacher of Isaac's is also a producer at Spinning Wheel Productions. They're filming a series of multicultural storytelling videos for children. This morning I drove Isaac to the studios of San Francisco Community Television, cable channel 29, for Story Circle: Stories from Asia.

Kids should not wear white, blue-screen blue, shiny materials, or too "busy" a pattern (which results in Moiré patterns on-screen). Check. Good breakfast. Check. Went to the bathroom before the story. Check.

Then we headed over to the Randall Museum to see the model trains. It was a boffo hour of fun.

Given that Isaac is dealing with a cold, he did a great job. We have some family things planned for tomorrow. I hope they go as well as today's goings-on.

 Tuesday 2 November 2004
  Jesusland Much of the conversation these days revolves around how bad things will be four years from now.

The Canadian government has announced that Americans wanting to emigrate are welcome, but will have to follow the standard procedures, which take around a year. And having a job is either required or is a big bonus.

And in that vein I came across this picture today. It sums up much of what many of us are feeling. We many not be ready to seceede, but we're already focussing on things below our feet whilst trying to not think about being under the evil soul-sucking, corporate-beholden, dim-bulb government that our fellow citizens have chosen.

 Wedneday 3 November 2004
  Being a liberal in America is like a bad dream that goes on and on and on. It certainly feels as though we choose the greater of two evils. Sigh.

Bush wins the election

In an election where the best thing that could be said about John Kerry is that he might carry the "Anyone But Bush" vote, I think it's safe to say that he wasn't the right candidate. I certainly felt Howard Dean was more interesting, and Joseph Leiberman more stimulating. Meh.

John Kerry, Macintosh user

In hindsight, I wish it was Howard Dean instead of John Kerry. I think we all issed a great deal when we passed exciting, emotion, motivated in favor of staid, stoic, and even-keeled.

Howard Dean's scream

London Herald Nixon Quits Nixon's The One Said the father of Boing Boing creator Cory Doctrow about these election results:

"...The way you feel now is exactly how I felt when Nixon won a second term -- crushed. I just couldn't believe America was that stupid...."

Later in the day I see this map from a Jeff Culver in Seattle, who says: "I was thinking today about how the 'red v. blue' states graphic is really misleading considering the slim margins that the candidates won some of those states by, so I sat down and created the map..."

2004 election results in purple
 Tuesday 2 November 2004
  We voted in the mid-afternoon. One of the poll-workers remembered the kids from our visit last year. We took the three sheets and a pen and sat down and filled them out as a family. Both Isaac and Lila got many chances to mark our choices. The news started out sounding good:

2004 early election results
 Monday 1 November 2004
  San Francisco Bay Guardian Tomorrow we have an election. An election I suspect we'll be remembering almost as long as the "won 500,000 more popular votes but had the election stolen by the Supreme Court" events of 2000. Why? Well, there's the war in Iraq, three Supreme Court justices likely to be replaced in the next four years, a woman's right to choose abortion, stem cell research, and the all-pervasive decline in civil rights and tolerance seen in the last four years.

Whether you think of this guy as a cocaine-using drunken frat boy incompetent or a strong leader in tough times, the next four years are going to be very frustrating for about half of our population.

President George W. Bush mission accomplished

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