Archive for March, 2010

I caught the last thirty minutes of the Bill Maher Show starring Gavin Newsom last night. For those of you unfamiliar with the politics of San Francisco and California, Gavin is the mayor of San Francisco who aspires to become the state’s next lieutenant governor.

Based on my observation and deep analysis of Gavin’s performance, he is well-suited to appear interested as others say funny things and occasionally engage in semi-serious discussions. He showed himself to be a master at nodding, smiling, and opening and closing his palms.

He also occasionally demonstrated a command of the facts of Catholicism in Africa. For example, in the midst of a discussion about priests, the Pope, and little boys, he noted that the number of Catholics in Africa increased from a ridiculously small number in 1900 to a really big number today.

I actually couldn’t tell how he reacted to Bill Maher’s closing monologue. The cameraman studiously avoided him and perhaps rightly so. Maher’s monologue was about love, amply illustrated with the names of well-known politicians, including Mark Sanford, the Governor of South Carolina, a man who found true love in Argentina at the expense of his marriage, and Larry Craig, the men’s room tap-dancing congressman from Idaho.

But one thing I noticed about Gavin that hadn’t caught my attention before. He has a profile reminiscent of the legendary acting clan, the Barrymores.  Ethel, I think.

At any rate, the real political test of Gavin’s appearance is whether or not it will enhance his chances of winning the primary and general elections. A lot of people watch the Bill Maher Show. Demographically, they are probably in line with Gavin’s social liberalism.

But that may have a minimal effect on the election. The real questions are these: how many of Bill’s viewers live in California, and of that number, how many are registered to vote and actually will vote.  Elections are unpredictable, despite contrary opinions by the poll takers. My guess is that Gavin’s appearance will have no effect one way or the other on his electability.


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These are some shots taken with my trusty digital. Most are of San Francisco. Some are nice photos of a fog-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge. A couple were taken in other parts of the Bay Area. Enjoy.

This shot was taken from the green hills of the Marin Headlands. The Marin County Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge is at the upper left. The San Francisco Tower is barely visible above the fog line at the upper right.

This one was taken from the end of Marine Drive at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Thanks to my buddy, who was an army photographer during Vietnam, I managed a decent composition after several tries. The real view was overwhelming.

This beautiful panorama of the City of San Francisco was taken from the Twin Peaks lookout. The business district with its tall buildings glistens across the top while residential areas rise toward Twin Peaks. Market Street, San Francisco’s “main drag,” splits the City from mid-right to the San Francisco Bay in the distance.

A rather hazy shot of the San Francisco Bay Bridge and parts of San Francisco taken from Coit Tower, one of San Francisco’s premier landmarks. We were out and about early, and the haze as we looked into the sun obscured sharp details.

A part of San Francisco as seen from the Bay Bridge, with Coit Tower in the Upper right corner. Notice the artistic composition of the roadway and the bridge barrier. Even concrete looks good in the Bay Area.

This was my last shot of the day, the restored Benicia train station. Benicia is a quaint little town at the North end of the Benecia-Martinez Bridge, one of two that span the Carquinez Strait. I used to cross the bridge regularly on my way from Novato to Pinole. In the 1800’s, Benicia was briefly the capital of the State of California. I’d swear the old town hasn’t changed. If you look closely, you might spot me taking this picture.

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What does this image look like to you? An Unidentified Flying Object (UFO)? A mysterious light that appears in the sky and then disappear? An edge-on view of the Milky Way? None of the above?

I choose None of the Above. Let me explain.

It’s a Starburst. Not a real Starbust of the kind we might see in the sky. Nor is it a Starburst that has been created for effect by photographic lenses made for that purpose.

It’s a Starburst that I and many other individuals see after cataract surgery. It appears to emanate from automobile headlights and street lamps at night and from reflections from metal surfaces and headlights in the day.

However, although Starbursts appear to come from light sources, they are probably caused by one or more conditions in the implanted lens. For example, lenses are pre-measured and manufactured for your and my eyes. An error in the calculation could cause Starbursts.

Most Starbursts and other visual abnormalities, such as Halos, disappear with time as conditions such as post-operative swelling of the cornea subside. Generally, most visual disturbances will subside within six months. Some may remain as long as a year. Right now, I’m at the three-month mark.

The image above, which is my crude alteration of one of Word7’s Standard Shapes, is my personal Starburst. Others people may see different shapes. And some Starbursts are accompanied by haloes. I don’t see haloes but I sometimes see a faint shadow image of a stoplight similar to my simple diagram of a green light shown below.

And, oddly, when I look toward a ceiling light in the dining area of my home, I see a wider spike that resembles a sunbeam cutting through dust in the air.

As far as shapes and colors go, my Starburst is always the same, day or night. The light forms the center and two spikes of light shoot out, one to the left and one to the right at about 60 degree angles. The left spike always extends down and the right up.

My Starbursts haven’t interfered with my eyesight or my mobility. Of course, I see them and the shadow around the left bottom of stoplights.  But for the most part, I don’t notice them unless I look directly at a light. Maybe, I often think, the Starbursts will always be there, just unnoticed.

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