Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Monday, December 29, 2008


This has been one of those magical winter days, as you can see above. Judy and I walked the crumbling cliffs just south of Ft. Funston. We ran into old hang glider facilities that disappeared when these cliffs fell in 1982, or at least that's what I figured from an old sign we came across.

There were horseback riders from the nearby stables.

It was shirtsleeve weather and a truly gorgeous day.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Small world story, small part of

There are too many convolutions to the small-world stories I could tell about the people I had lunch with today. In fact, it makes me dizzy trying to put them all into writing, and so I'll just save them for the retelling when we meet.

And inside this photo I took yesterday I discovered a surprising addition to the stories (the ones I won't bore you with): the blonde in high heels is the daughter of my house guest; she was on the way to her sister's wedding atop Ft. Point, right under the bridge. We nearly crossed paths when I was out for a ride on my usual route around the waterfront - and I wouldn't have known it was her in this photo except I was looking at the wedding pictures this morning. (How many people would be wearing spike heels on that road?!)

That surf was getting people wet, but it was an otherwise windless, clear, crisp and perfect day for a wedding atop the fort.

(Judy and I ran into the groom cycling across the GG Bridge some months ago, part of the longer small-world stories I won't bore you with, revolving around Ruthy and Japan and Mike's Bikes and Velo Girls and Bike Fridays and Tikits.)

After I finished the above I started checking out the blogs I read and, speaking of Bike Fridays, ya gotta read this: B.L.O.G.: damage control. Oh, and don't miss Lauren's Christmas story, either!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Missed window of opportunity

Sibyl totally ignored the super seagull I bought in Chinatown yesterday. The only light for this picture came from my computer monitor, making those sinister shadows. If only she'd done her Maltese Falcon impersonation!

After a night of gale-force winds and rain the sun actually came out and stayed out most of this Christmas day. I was going to go for a bike ride, but it was time for lunch. Can't ride on an empty tank. And then you can't ride on a full tank, either. By the time the tank was just right the wind had come up again and more rain is now on the way (and it's cold out there!).

My friend and neighbor, Barbara, always surprises me with gifts. She knows I don't "do" holidays, but she loves going to flea markets and yard sales and she always saves a turtle or two to give me. This year she gave me the Good Life Grocery's calendar with excellent photos by folks here on Potrero Hill (and on Bernal, where they have a second store), and this gorgeous turtle mug. I'm very pleased with them, neither of which came from a flea market or yard sale, I'm sure. Rory & Raven, her two giant dogs, helped her deliver the package this morning.

I scanned a few old b&w prints I made thirty years ago, but I really need to scan from the negatives; the prints have seen better days.

And so, one holiday down, one to go, and then it's on to Jury Duty on the 5th. They nail me every two years, like clockwork.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Burnt coffee & other non-news

My coffee is bitter this morning; how can I have burnt my coffee? It's like opening a bottle of bad wine: do I get used to it and just drink it anyway, or do I pour it out and start over? (I'm drinking it anyway.) (Yech!)

Elizabeth, visiting from the snowy east coast, and I walked in & out of trinket shops in Chinatown yesterday and ate in one of the old restaurants right on Grant Ave.; it had huge ancient chandeliers and old wooden booths, a dark, rich interior, and I had Mongolian beef and rice, which was very good, or at least tasty.

Also yesterday, I made the huge mistake of changing Sib's food dishes in her big cage with her in it and she ran over and sliced my right thumb before I could get my hand out. Not her fault. I am not allowed to touch her pellets and I know that, it triggers that little brain to attack. It wouldn't quit bleeding so now I have a big pressure bandage on it and have to tape a latex finger (cut from a glove) over it to do anything wet. Seems to work OK for typing.

I think I will have to start a stretching regimen or take up yoga because I have become increasingly stiff in the morning and after sitting too long. My hips and thighs hurt, except when I'm riding my bike or just sitting here. It started two months ago after a cold and just won't go away. There. Now I've said it out loud, I've admitted I'm a mere mortal. Damn!

It's 09:00, and Sibyl is still in her sleep cage, probably preening quietly. It's dark and gloomy with rain expected. Not sure what I'll do today, though tackling more Photoshop tutorials would be in order; I've avoided them long enough. That means sitting here for long periods of time and then I'll be stiff when I get up.

Ah, holidays - my quiet time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Got chalk?

The ants were back with the first rains and cold weather. First, a scout here and there and then a steady stream in both the kitchen and the bathroom. They seem to go for the sinks.

Last August, while visiting Dianna in Vancouver we went to Chinatown looking for Miraculous Insecticide Chalk, but, like here, it wasn't evident on the store shelves. Finally, at one all-purpose store I asked a young woman at the cash register for "ant chalk." She reached under the counter and pulled out a box.

Apparently, it's illegal in Canada, too.

Dianna talked me into buying ten boxes. They're small boxes.

I was taking a bus to Seattle and would have to go through Customs with all those little boxes. I worried about it, hoped one look at my gray hair would forestall any closer look in my small bag. And then I flew from Seattle home, again worrying that someone would catch me smuggling contraband, but we made it home without being caught.

So now I have a superabundance of very effective poison. I drew a small X in the ants' path last week and they voluntarily removed themselves from my house, taking their dead scouts away with them.

When I worked in the ER I called Poison Control and was told it was only pyrethrum and a child would have to ingest the whole piece of chalk to be ill from it. I'm careful to use very little and wash my hands. Ten years ago I could find it in the back of kitchen supply stores on Clement Street, but then they started hiding it. It cost 59 cents. It was one dollar in Vancouver.

At the end of the Directions For Use: "KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND OLD MAN." But even better, it's made in China by a cosmetics company.

Need chalk?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Missing beep

There was no discernible reason why three different clock radios misbehaved for almost two weeks, but this morning my bedroom was beep-free, with no discernible reason why the 06:00-beeping finally stopped, either.

All I did today was end of year bookkeeping. Blah, blah, blah.

Sibyl has been less wonderful, whining, not content to be ignored. So I stuck the little camera in her face, set on Macro, no flash, but it sends out a reading beam of light which is still annoying to birds, and probably to people too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trip to the Academy

I got up really early and took two buses to the California Academy of Science for my first visit. I was meeting Kinji and Diego for Free Day. Because I didn't want to work up a sweat, nor wear cleated shoes all day, I didn't ride a bike, sort of a first. And it was really cold with frost in the grass in Golden Gate Park. I got there 20 minutes early and there was already a long, long line, and it was really hard to stand around in the cold. Once it opened at 9:30, the line moved inside very quickly. My first task was to get the tickets for the planetarium - that took nearly an hour, and then, using our cell phones to locate each other, I met my friends.

We dutifully went to most exhibits, though most were difficult to see beyond the many visitors. We didn't even try for the rain forests or the insects upstairs. We had a nice lunch in the cafe. The planetarium show was O.K., but I miss the old city silhouetted skyline and the cranky old machine; it was so warm and cozy, and this one is very cold (wear a coat).

Diego had me snap this photo of him alongside Homo neanderthalensis.

Claude, the albino alligator, appears to have been in a fight, either with his lady friend or the alligator snapping turtle sharing their swamp.

We were glad we went on free day, though, because we all felt the much ballyhooed new building to be unfortunate and I probably won't pay to go back. Just the usual new hyper-annotations with none of the old, richly textured ambience. Yeah, I know the old Academy was funky, sometimes even smelly, and had to be replaced for a lot of reasons. It seemed ten times bigger, no, a hundred times bigger, with so much more to see - and you didn't have to read signs, it was just cool visually, anywhere you looked. But this new one. I've seen better Safeway's.

It's like the de Young: I really, really wanted to like both these new buildings but neither one works for me. I know this makes me sound set in my old ways. So be it.

The living roof was nice.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Beeping ghost in my bedroom?

Leaning tower in Bologna Italy
For over a week I have been awakened between 06:00 and 06:01 by an odd loud beeping - not the alarm - of a clock radio. Nothing I do to the radio will stop it; it finally stops by itself, first escalating the speed of the beeps: beep . . beep . . beep . .beep . beep. beep .beep.beep.beepbeepbeepbeep.

After the first few mornings I unplugged the old radio and bought a new one. That was on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning the new radio did the exact same thing at the exact same time!

I'd go back to sleep each morning and have odd dreams, getting stiff from too long in bed. No wonder I got grumpy.

The little radio over my kitchen sink is also a clock radio and so I tried it in the bedroom the next night. Yep. Beep . . beep . . beep . .beep . beep. beep .beep.beep.beepbeepbeepbeep.

Last night I moved it to the electrical outlet by the bedroom door, thinking it could be the location near my bed, but it got me up again at 06:00 this morning from across the room. This radio has batteries in it for back up and so tonight I will leave it unplugged, see what happens, see if it can beep on battery power alone.

Beep . . beep . . beep . .beep . beep. beep .beep.beep.beepbeepbeepbeep.

And now there's a fourth radio on trial. I had yet another old radio in the basement, not a clock radio. I've plugged it in next to my bed, maybe I'll leave it on all night, just for the company. I wonder if it will, or even can, beep in the morning?

What d'ya think, is Scottie trying to beam me up?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hard to stay grumpy

When you have help like this changing the sheets it's hard to stay grumpy for long.

I'm happily purging old books and ancient maps, cleaning behind things, getting ready to tackle the pantry and a year or two of accumulated this 'n that. It's easy for this tiny cottage to become one big jumble drawer and once it gets to a certain point one can't find anything anymore. Way overdue.

And I'm glad it's sunny and warm, even if we do need the rain.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Waiting for the poppies

First, we need some rain, and then the California poppies will bloom in my yard.

I've been busy with this and that, nothing to write home about. Went to a movie, a holiday party, shopping, a dinner or two with friends and a lecture, a symphony, did some bookkeeping, some cleaning and cooking, lots of old image processing and not enough riding.

I'm grumpy. I'm always grumpy this time of year. I don't have any travel plans and I know they're going to repaint inside my cottage in January and that means I have to do a lot of rearranging, and deep cleaning and purging (a good thing) of years and years worth of crap. Seems like I'm always trying to get rid of things and somehow I still have too much.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Eating pumpkin pie - 3 meals a day

Sometime last year I bought a double can of Libby's pumpkin and two cans of evaporated milk on sale. They sat in the pantry, ignored, because I knew if I made pumpkin pies I would not be able to resist gobbling them down all by myself.

On Thursday, Thanksgiving, Jane was coming here after her shift serving at Martin de Porres soup kitchen, and so I had an excuse to make pumpkin pies. I bought frozen pie shells (if you only bake every few years, you have to buy all new ingredients), mixed up the pumpkin and milk (already two days past the Best-by date), fresh eggs, spices, but only cooked one pie.

And it was very good.

But Jane only ate one piece, and what's a poor girl to do but finish the rest?

Yesterday I made the second pie, plus four custard cups of left over pumpkin filling. I ate all four cups last night (they're small), plus a piece of pie for a bedtime snack.

This morning I had pie for breakfast.

And there's still most of the pie to go.

Me bad.

But it's chia turtle time again!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Slow days

Self Portrait with Bird

Sibyl has her beak tucked under her wing, with one eye open just in case I do something; she keeps an eye on me all day while I work. After her semi-nap she'll get restless, I'll take her down off the shelf, she'll have a snack and a drink from the dripping faucet, and then she'll want back on her shelf to play fetch with her toys (she throws, I fetch). It's nice to have her quiet presence nearby.

Geraniums in Bellinzona, Switzerland

I'm going back over old photos, reprocessing to commercial standards and placing them on-line for sale. Adding key words is the most time consuming part, but thanks to the Web, I don't have to own a zillion guide books. (Key words are how buyers find what they need. Never mind that the market is zip and there are millions of photographers out there, I'm doing it anyway.) Last night I uploaded the first four for quality control. DB says I'll have no trouble.

Street Light & Roman Arena in Verona, Italy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A very good ride

I slept a bit late so I didn't leave on my ride until 10:00, but I went straight around the waterfront and over the bridge to the Marin Headlands, barely stopping the entire 30-mile door-to-door round trip. I came back over the hill from the back side, not through the tunnel, and I took a different route around the Presidio and Pacific Heights back home. Lots of slow climbing, wee, wee, wee, all the way home.

Everyone shot past me on the hills, both up and down. I liked just poking along, looking at everything I passed. At one point a hawk and I were eye to eye; it's that time of year, I guess, when they migrate over Hawk Hill.

Again, I lugged along the camera and long lens, not sure why. The people looking at the view are more interesting than the view, at least for photographs. But you never know.

I was putting my camera away when a tourist offered to take my picture in front of the bridge, assuming I too was a tourist. I said I lived here and we both laughed. He said, I guess you can climb this hill any time you want. I said, Yes, any time I still can.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Obsessive, or just working?

I excuse my obsessive processing of already processed photographs (I'm back in 2007 today) by saying, well, I've learned a lot since I first worked that file - and that's painfully all too true - but, actually, I think I get lost in pushing pixels around in much the same way I can get lost polishing silver, or sweeping a floor. They're all things I can do without much thought.

It's that time of year when I want to stay away from the world for the most part and I don't make many plans, anticipating a nice long time to work at home. Read books. I just started a huge biography on Darwin. Catch up on things.

I'm really stiff when I finally get out of this chair, and a bit stir-crazy. I think I'd better make a plan to get up early tomorrow morning and get on a bicycle and pedal, pedal, pedal. Hmmm. That sounds equally obsessive. Yeah. That's what I'll do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A cold day, at last

It's been uncomfortably warm most of this November, oddly, strangely, what's going on here? warm. I spent a lot of time riding my different bikes around, sometimes just on errands, sometimes on long sustained rides down the peninsula. I usually drag my camera along and hardly ever use it. That's O.K.; I have plenty of pixels from old trips that need reworking, this time with a properly calibrated system (I hope).

And I spent way too much time getting this old poppy image into printable form. But that's a whole other color profile, so who knows what will show up here on the Web.

Back to work.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Balmy Saturday

I've really liked this week. Yeah, balmy 80 degree days, no wind, clear air, lots of new adventures, plenty of bike riding, and even a ferry ride back from Tiburon yesterday, followed by Beethoven at the symphony last night.

Sibyl kept me company, quietly, all day. She's in between breeding/egg-laying cycles and is the perfect companion while it lasts.

I'm working on color management and monitor calibration issues and it's making me a bit crazy. In between sessions I cleaned the turtles' filter and did minor bike maintenance, which I much prefer doing. Neither one of these of Sibyl on the fridge were good exposures and they're not good finished images either, but I want to see them transformed, once removed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Turtles! on Nob Hill

I rode to the top of Nob Hill today to check out a restaurant for my friends who want to meet there before seeing Toni Morrison at the Masonic next Friday. That's a pretty high hill, so I came at it in a roundabout way.

I went all around the waterfront, turning up through the Marina to Cow Hollow, where I saw that the Octagon House on Gough was actually open. There was a man standing in the doorway, inviting me in. I said I didn't want to lock up my bike, and he said he would watch it. I made a quick in & out visit. Nice. Colonial and federalist interior, which fit right in with my recent art history class. I'll have to go back one day with a bike I don't mind locking up outside. (It occurred to me when I got inside that I had no idea who that man was, maybe he was a thief! Nah.)

From there I headed up to Nob Hill via Sacramento and then the steeper Jones. The sun was shining, everyone was sitting on benches soaking it up. I've always loved this fountain in Huntington Park. The turtles are so wonderful.

I took some pictures and then headed down, down, down to Union Square, a real test of brakes. I checked out the new ice skating rink and the crew putting up the giant evergreen tree before turning for home, a shower and lunch.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

at the de Young

Cigar Store Figure and colonial era portrait in the de Young Museum

I rode over to the de Young Museum this morning to meet my last class on Early American Art. Oddly, I've no memory of any other art history class, and after the 8th grade, not much early American history, either, so this lecture class was very timely.

You always hear about the "American experiment," but it sort of floats off without a second thought. Coming at it from how paintings were used put it all into something new and wonderful for me to think about.

I think I'll continue reading history. It's never too late to make up for an ill-spent youth.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gonna be a techie yet

Oh boy. Now the fun begins, where I learn how to sell some more photos. Never mind that no one is buying photos anymore, I will join the digital marketplace, if for no other reason than to justify cranking out more pictures. I keep pushing to be better at it.

To do this I have to learn how to process digital files for commercial use and how to FTP, and all sorts of good stuff. None of this is difficult, just time consuming.

Hercules finally went underground for the winter, so the dark days will be upon us. After this week classes at USF Fromm are over until January so I'm glad to have this project. Heaven forbid I should do something domestically useful.

Right now I'm working up old images, like this one of SFMOMA, making them better. Not sure what needs model or property releases so I'll just say they're for editorial use.

Yeah, I can see these in some magazine or other, can't you?

Fat chance.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

By the bay today

A wolf on the dock at Mission Rock?

New Day

I'm going to go for a slow ride around the city today while the sun still shines and the air is clear, but I don't expect to take any interesting pictures. Everything I do lately has been repetitive or boring, but you never know what will pop up in this town.

Bet you thought I was going to talk about the election results - I won't add my 2 cents, there's plenty to be heard on that subject! But, yes, I'm very, very pleased and feel like a huge weight will soon be lifted, all over the world, and we can get back on track. Finally, someone smart and someone who listens. And someone who inspires all this good will and unyielding hope.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Puzzle Map

Maybe someone or something got in my way back when we learned our states, because no matter how many times I put this puzzle map together, I still wouldn't be able tell you where most of our states lie in relationship to one another. And I've been in a lot, if not all, of them.

Growing up we used to drive back to the midwest to visit relatives every other year - but my father drove from 04:00 until late every night, making the entire round trip in under two weeks, and I mostly hid out on the floor in back, using the hump in the middle for a pillow.

It's about 5:00 here in San Francisco. I'll finish putting this puzzle together and then as the states are called, Red or Blue (you know I'm praying for Blue), I will move that state's piece to the right or the left (oh, please go to the left!).

I had to tape all those tiny east coast states together and can't move them individually - in fact, they're so small they don't have a piece for each, anyway. I think I'll just put them left, to Blue.

Blue. Blue. Blue.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My only Parlor Trick

Lately, I've been reminded that I have just this one little odd thing I can do.

I can write with both hands at once in mirror image, with the left hand writing backwards.

I can write backwards with either hand.

I can write upside-down with either hand.

And I can draw with both hands on the same image at the same time.

But, if I do any of these things, especially the mirror-writing, for very long, I have felt a sudden split inside my head, a hollowness, a white space, a terrible, terrible fear that something very bad might happen.

And then I quit doing it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thinking of Taos

DB went to Taos this month but is now back in Seattle. Yesterday he sent me a photo he made from the exact same angle as the one above, which I took on my 1984 road trip. I wrote back that while it was a great photo, I already had the copyright on it. This was a running joke between us (we were often shooting the same scenes together) after he told me of a time he was taking a photo in some monumental public place and another photographer came up to him and said he had the copyright on that scene. Yeah. Right.

I'd put his here but not without his permission. I have to take down the link to his Web site, Digital Railroad went out of business and he'll need to find another.

It rained off and on today, at one point there was a strong wind from the south slamming into my cottage. It finally felt like the season is changing from endless summer. I found where Hercules has buried himself in his yard, but he hasn't gone down deep yet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

They sure don't make 'em like they used to

Last night I noticed a stream of water coming from my refrigerator. " Uh oh," I said, and then went to bed.

Sure enough, the freezer was warm this morning, everything in it had thawed and is mostly lost. I think I can cook and still eat the meats, but all the veggies and the turtles' chow and the bits of this and the dabs of that are garbage. Sigh.

The repairman should be here in the next hour. If he can't fix it - and it's only 6 years old - I'll take everything to my neighbor's extra fridge. I've already borrowed a big picnic cooler and some ice for the things I'll need to keep in the house. Even if I have to get a new one, it won't get here today.

The picture above is on the second floor inside Fort Point, where you'll see room after room, some with exhibits, some empty, and with these inside doors cutting through the center. I was going to wait for the person in a blue shirt to move, but didn't. I could Photoshop him out, but I sort of like the touch of color. In fact, I always like miniature people to be somewhere in my photos. Here's another one.

Good news (I think). We found a repairman by looking at the reviews on Yelp, and Chris replaced the compressor and says it's fixed. Since he left I've had it open & closed a zillion times, cleaning it, replacing stuff, and so it hasn't had a chance to get cold yet.

Now I get to cook and eat as much of the thawed meat - lamb chops, steaks - as I can before they go bad.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sitting still

I'd asked this couple to pose, thinking to redo an old small-res. shot that I like. I didn't get what I wanted, which was the one below - not even close.

I spent another day in front of this computer, not really doing a lot of new work, trying to figure out a good way to manage triplicated hard drives. Trying not to make a big mess. So far I'm just confusing myself. (Did I copy that file? Where did I put it? What HD am I working from now? Yeah. I need a foolproof system.)

The one I like was done with my first p&s digital camera at the lowest possible resolution, and then probably cropped. Not sure why I like it so much.

I've made a gallery of installation photos from the b&w project, and put it inside the b&w gallery on pbase - subtle, but it's there for those who've asked to see how it all turned out.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday and Saturday

This morning I took my camera to Barbara's new house down the street. This big wooden horse greets you as you come through the door.

There's an entire wall between the kitchen and dining room made up of these gorgeous sliding glass doors.

Yesterday I rode to Noe Valley, through the Mission and along Polk Street to the bay at Aquatic Park without stopping.

When I got to Fort Point, under the bridge, I locked up my old Miyata and went inside. The greeter was very friendly and asked me where I was from. "Potrero Hill," I said. He laughed, maybe expecting to hear Boston or Texas.

I spent an hour walking around, really going through the place, remembering when Jill was little and how we'd walk around in the cold and wind - the only people there - long before it was annotated, turned into a sight. I took a lot of pictures.

I ran into this enormous 3-masted tall ship at the cruise ship pier. I think I saw it come into the bay this summer, along with the more traditional tall ships, but maybe there's more than one of them. I also saw it in Tiburon on the last Velo Girls' ride, the same day I caught the head cold, which is now gone (both the cold and the tall ship).

I stopped in at the office and took photos of the entire installation, though with the reflections from all the large windows and overhead fluorescent lights they're impossible to photograph well. That's Kathleen, actually working on casual Friday, using her wireless headset-phone.

Now I'm listening to This American Life on NPR. I like Saturdays at home. I'll get lunch and then clean the turtle tank filter, maybe vacuum. There's a Velo Girls' endurance team potluck dinner at Winnie's in Burlingame later.