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On the Beach Yesterday

I'm just starting to use my new Panasonic Lumix G1 camera. I have these (35 mm terminology) lenses: a 28-90mm, and a 90-400 mm (more or less). It's a sensational new camera, half the size of my trusty Canon 20D. The long lens opens up new possibilities. For one thing I can unobtrusively photograph people. Going to take it on our trip to Europe.

Soaring Turkey Buzzard

My favorite flyers in these parts, the birds I most like to watch, are the turkey buzzards. They don't have the noble heads or curved beaks of hawks, but they are unsurpassed in the air. Yesterday I went for a run to a swimming hole. As I got out of the water, a lone turkey buzzard was sailing in circles over me; riding updrafts effortlessly, no wing action at all. For some reason, he kept circling, and I kept watching. After a while I could almost feel myself flying, surfing the air currents. It was a magic 5-or-so minutes. Then another buzzard floated into the horizon, then another, until there were five of them circling. In this photo, look at the pattern of the "shoulders" and body to pure flight feathers.

Low-rider Buick in San Jose

What a beauty!
-Photo by Bill Steen. Posted August 29, 2009 on: http://www.caneloproject.blogspot.com/

Bill & Athena Steen: Clay Ovens in Ireland; Strawbale & Mariachis in San Jose, Calif

The Steens, authors of The Strawbale House and the more recent—and excellent—Small Strawbale: Natural Homes, Projects & Designs, have a photo and fact-filled blog on natural building: http://www.caneloproject.blogspot.com/
-Photo of country mill in France by Bill Steen. July, 2009

Add drawers under stairs for storage

"One of the oldest space-saving tricks in the interior design handbook involves making use of that leftover area underneath the stairs, the awkward extra space that does not always lend itself to cheap or easy storage solutions. These designs, however, show just how creative one can be with what seems like the hardest space to deal with in a house." http://bit.ly/aroja

Voice-command Keyboarding

Having a carpal tunnel wrist operation three weeks ago prompted me to get MacSpeech Dictate, as well as a good quality microphone (Sennheiser M/3 with Andrea pod from emicrophones.com) in order to type using voice instead of fingers. It works amazingly well. I'm sitting here, keyboarding this with my voice, and stretching my arms and wrists while so doing. DragonNaturallySpeaking seems to be the program of choice for windows; MacSpeech Dictate apparently uses their engine for its program. Voice recognition software has come a long ways.

Radical Skateboard at Purple Skunk

A unique thing about the Purple Skunk Skate shop in San Francisco is that they have maybe 15 longboards that you can take out and test ride. If you're into hills and carving—and in the San Francisco area—check it out. At 5820 Geary Blvd. (23d Ave or so).
This us Meister board mechanic Rodney with a new space-age board.

Aprilia SportCity 250 23 hp Italian Bike

I ran into my friend Jeff McWinney when running on the mountain yesterday. When we got back to the parking lot, he showed me his new Aprilia SportCity 250 23 hp Italian bike. Jeff is very tech-savvy. He just sold his Honda VFR 750 (a big powerful bike) and got this one, which he loves. It goes up to 80.

Nori Seaweed Translucent Green

I often pick up seaweed to use in omelets. I put this in the window to dry and the next day this is what it looked like with the afternoon sun shining through it.

Hookah Experience in San Francisco

I spent the night in a hotel in San Francisco last week, since I had to be at the hospital at 6 AM the next morning for wrist surgery. I had no car, so set out on foot in and around Union Square. It was unusual, since I always have my truck in the city. It was like when I go to NYC, the random discoveries of wandering. At one point I walked past a place on Jones that had the atmosphere of a café in the Middle East. There were aromatic smells from people smoking hookahs ("fruit-scented smoke…contain only a fraction of nicotine.") I had a Turkish coffee (organic). A nice place. Unique. Nile Cafe, 544 Jones.

San Francisco Natives Only

I spent the first 18 years of my life in San Francisco. It never occurred to me that the city had its own language until these many years later when a high school friend sent me a column by Carl Nolte, longtime SF Chronicle reporter. It's wonderfully insightful. If you're a native (of sanfensisco), you'll not only be laughing, but going…that's right, that's right! Here's a link to Nolte's classic column: http://www.sfnativejamboree.com/native.html

Lowell High School's Hot Quartet of the 50s

This is our Lowell High School quartet, the Uncalled Four, in 1952. (I wish the name was original, but it wasn't.) From left, that's me, Bill Bixby, John Lodmell, and Don "Whitey" Schaller. I played the ukulele and we sang Coney Island Baby, Ain't She Sweet, Five Foot Two, Jada, When You Wore A Tulip and the like. We sang at school rallies, parties and once on KPIX TV, which marked Bixby's first TV appearance. He of course went on to fame and fortune in My Favorite Martian and The Incredible Hulk.

Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Band in San Francisco

The Wild Magnolias have been around since the '50s. Since I was in SF Monday night I went to see them at Yoshi's. I wish I could say they were good, but they seemed mediocre in spite of the gorgeous feathered costumes. Ah well, you just never know what live music will be like. By the way in Yoshi's lobby, there is a fascinating display of the Jewish roots of the Fillmore district, which predates the black culture of the Fillmore from my high school years. Yoshi's is at 1330 Fillmore at Eddy and has almost always got great musicians.

Art by the Ocean

Graffiti On Beach Last Night

You can never tell what it'll be like on the beach. Last night the wind dropped and it was beautiful. Very few people. Here's some new graffiti.

Lesley's Orchid

Whereas I blab about every little thing I do or run across, Lesley just very quietly goes along, creating beauty all around her. We were having tea in her greenhouse one afternoon last week and oh by the way, look at this…

Roadkill Snake Art

Found while skateboarding in Pt. Arena (on road down to cove). All I did was trim it, oil skin a bit and — ahem, special effects dept. — add a bit of red to mouth with a red Pentel. It's mounted on a piece of driftwood.

Wrist Surgery

I'm presently one-handed due to carpal tunnel surgery Tuesday. Had been losing thumb/grip strength due to pinching of median nerve, so San Francisco hand surgeon Dr. Robert Markison (more about this amazing surgeon/musician/inventor/artist later) did the usual carpal tunnel release, which is to cut through the carpal tunnel ligament which pinches on the nerve. This will slow down my blog posts and tweets for just a week or so, I hope.

Mountain Theater on Mt. Tamalpais

This magnificent outdoor theater on Mt. Tam in Mill Valley, Calif., was built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Here are some of the seats.

Fresh-Baked Bread

Our 30-year old Retsel grain grinder gave up the ghost, so we got a new Wondermill grinder and this is Lesley's first loaf. We buy organic hard red wheat berries in 50 lb. sacks and grind into flour just before baking. The secret to wonderful food, with any cuisine, anywhere, is F-R-E-S-H!

Fine Young Cannibals - Not the Man I Used To Be

Yesterday, I got out my CD, Raw and Cooked by the Fine Young Cannibals. Once in a while I'll go back and play an old favorite, curious to see how it holds up. This song is still hauntingly beautiful. It sent chills down my spine. This cut on YouTube is a rarity: a good music video. A bunch of break dancers in the studio with the band., black and white.