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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.

Horses and Wolves

Thursday at dusk I was running on a fire road along the coast south of Muir beach. Up ahead was a dismounted horseback rider and her horse, standing along the side of the road. As I approached, the horses ears pricked up, his eyes went wide, and he was on full alert. When I got up to them, the rider said to me, "He thinks you're a wolf." I went a few steps beyond them and turned back and said to her, "I'm wearing a necklace with a wolf's tooth."
"Well, that explains everything," she said.

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.

Builders Without Borders Strawbale Ecohouse Project in Washington D.C.

This is a really nice movie of construction of a demonstration strawbale ecohouse on the terrace of the US Botanic Gardens, across from the Capitol Building in Washington DC. Organized by Builders Without Borders.

Green Walls for Houses

The technique here is called a "green facade. A living wall can cool a house by blocking direct sun rays, provide moisture, and be a haven for birds. Vines or climbing plants are trained to grow along either welded wire fencing or stainless steel cables. The plants grow away from the wall, not on it.

Vegetables Growing on the Roof

An otherwise uninteresting and too-big house in Mill Valley, Calif. has this great living roof. http://bit.ly/r49pW

Water Bridge in Germany

Channel-bridge over the River Elbe joins the former East and West Germany; this amazing feat of engineering took six years, 500 million euros, and is 918 meters long. It is located at Magdeburg, near Berlin. The photo was taken on the day of inauguration in October, 2003.


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.

Simple Window Awning

Spotted this in Sanra Cruz Saturday. Nice use of corrugated metal roofing.

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.


"This fellow has a booth at the Arts Festival at the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach every year."

Moustache Grande

Is this a moustache or what? Col. Sir Percy Wyndham, noted Federal cavalryman in Civil War, 1862. This is from Life Magazine's archives, over a million photos, such a wonderful resource: http://images.google.com/hosted/life

Scott Weaver's Toothpick Sculptures of San Francisco

Scott Weaver has spent over 30 years building elaborate architectural models out of toothpicks, including a 100,000-toothpick model of the highlights of San Francisco: ""Rolling Through the Bay" is 9 feet tall, 7 feet wide and 2 feet deep."

Style Your Garage Door

This a is actually a photo mounted on a garage door. "Photo tarpaulins from style-your-garage.com can give monochrome up-and-over garage doors a whole new look. The printed-on 3D motifs are deceptively realistic and will cause neighbours, friends and passers-by to stop and stare!"

Copper-clad Spaceship Condo in Small New England Town

There are 13 1-bedroom condo apartments in this copper-sheathed building in Guilford, Connecticut. Designed by architect Wilfred J. O. Armster.
Photo for NYTimes by Christopher Cappoziello

Rolling Huts in Washington

Huts on wheels in Mazama, Washington. Designed by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects.
"Responding to the owner’s need for space to house visiting friends and family, the Rolling Huts are several steps above camping, while remaining low-tech and low-impact in their design. The huts sit lightly on the site, a flood plain meadow in an alpine river valley. The owner purchased the site, formerly a RV campground, with the aim of allowing the landscape return to its natural state. The wheels lift the structures above the meadow, providing an unobstructed view into nature and the prospect of the surrounding mountains.
The huts are grouped as a herd: while each is sited towards a view of the mountains (and away from the other structures), their proximity unites them. They evoke Thoreau’s simple cabin in the woods; the structures take second place to nature."
"The construction of each identical hut is very simple. It is just an offset steel clad box on a steel platform with a wood deck on top. Unlike a typical mobile home, less than half of the space on each structure is indoor space; outdoor decks comprise 55% of the usable space.

While the interiors leave some design issues unsolved, the exteriors are well thought out. They are built of simple, durable and no-maintenance materials – steel, plywood and car-decking. No effort is made to soften this reality. The steel exterior is just allowed to rust naturally."


Fallingwaters is (No Longer) Falling

Frank Lloyd Wright's famous house is structurally unsound and presently propped up to keep it from falling into the creek. According to this article, it's not age, but bad engineering (and arrogance) on Wright's part that caused the problem:
Update: as you can see from the comment below, repairs to the building have been completed:

Inside the Capitol Dome, Washington, D.C.

When I first went to Washington D.C. (about 15 years ago), I was stunned by the capitol dome. I'd seen it many times in photos, but in person it was elegant in design; sparkling white, perfectly proportioned. I had no idea this is what it was like inside. Here's what Wikipedia says about the fresco: "The Apotheosis of Washington is the very large fresco painted by Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865 and visible through the oculus of the dome in the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building. The fresco is suspended 180 feet (55 m) above the rotunda floor and covers an area of 4,664 square feet (433.3 m2). The figures painted are up to 15 feet (4.6 m) tall and are visible from the floor below. The dome was completed in 1863, and Brumidi painted it over the course of 11 months at the end of the Civil War. He was paid $40,000 ($583,093 in 2008) for the fresco."
This photo is by Kevin Ng

Beautiful Bridges All Over the World

Russian website with dozens of bridges, from ancient to modern, from stone to high-tech. http://planeta.rambler.ru/users/wwwtanushka/14346850.html

Greentea Design - Craftsman Cabinetry with Recycled Wood

Greentea Design manufactures beautiful kitchen cabinets, tansus, tables, shelves, and chests out of recycled wood in Korea. "Large beams are reclaimed from older structures like country homes, barns and warehouses in Korea. This ensures that no trees are felled and that the wood is already seasoned. The wood is then milled, sent to our Korean cabinetry shop, where we hand-build everything ourselves using from start to finish. This process gives each piece a unique character that will last generations to come."

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.

Detroit Photographer James Griffioen

>Website of a young photographer from Detroit, James Griffioein, with about 15 slide shows. Little houses in the country, architecture, vacant schools. He's got a wonderful eye, each of these slide shows is like a film. http://www.jamesgriffioen.net
-Sent us by Marcia Miner

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.

Squirrel Obstacle Course

-From Lew

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!

Phantasmagoric Artist on the Road in Housetruck in UK

Rima Staines is a web-savvy artist immersed in: "…books and stories, puppetry, nature and interesting people, music, superstitions, folklore and fairytales, and most of all the otherness that can be found on the periphery of our lives, the strange and grotesque, the absurd and unnerving ... that topsy turvy in between place where things are not quite what they seem....(Our) days are spent in a house on wheels with Tui, (my) man, best friend and fellow traveller…(we) live in a house on wheels with a creaky mobile broadband connection…depending upon where we have parked our house…"
Rima and Tui live in an old Bedford house truck and travel the British Isles.
"WHEN THE SUN goes down, our evenings are orange. Lit by oil lamps and candles and smoking logs, lugged far and sawn to keep us warm. We squint at our meals cooking and peer into the shadowy sink to find spoons, read books by little circles of orange where the furthest away words on the page fall off the edge into the darkness."
Rima's art is what you might call "phantasmagoric." Her very rich blog: http://intothehermitage.blogspot.com/
Rima's 2003 dissertation on Marginal Medieval Art, on medieval religious texts with margins revealing "…monstrous creatures, devils, men and women and animals…": http://misrulemockerymonstrosity.blogspot.com/

Recycled House in Woods, New Zealand

It looks just like something out of the Northern California woods in the '60s, one of those buildings in Handmade Houses, A Guide to the Woodbutcher's Art — except it's in New Zealand 50 years later. Hey, that's progress, even if slow!

"Simple and un-flashy, the owners moved out into the New Zealand woods to build their house with recycled lumber, windows and doors. An organic vegetable garden and a wood-burning stove are just a few of the ways they intend to live as simply and sustainably as possible..."

There's a great indoor photo of an old wood cookstove.


Lesley's Quilts #3

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.