Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Sunday, February 19, 2012

More on POPOS

Some of you might remember I wrote a bit about POPOS earlier this month. Today on the SF Chronicle website there is an article by John King on this very subject. The thesis of his article is that it easy for developers to hide the existence of these required open spaces with signs that are all-but-hidden within plain sight.

We have the list of these places on the door of our office at work, and while I haven’t yet managed to check out any of the several within easy walking distance, I intend to do so in the next few weeks, and I will report back on my experience when I do.

Also, quick note: we passed the building inspection on Tuesday and have our Certificate of Final Completion and Occupancy, so we are free to move forward with the condo conversion. Which yes, I still owe a real post on, but that’s a post for another day.

posted by neil at 11:01 am
under Uncategorized  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land review

Last year someone pointed out a Call of Cthulhu Advent calendar app to me. I, of course, downloaded it and ended up scoring 100% on the daily quizzes, but that is neither here nor there. The calendar was put out by Red Wasp Design. and late last month they released an IOS strategy RPG/Horror game – Call of Cthulhu:The Wasted Land. The original release was a bit buggy, as these things can be, but the patch that came out about a week later fixed the major problems and in the end it’s a very playable game.

The basic game play is turn based strategy with role-playing game elements. Your team of 4-6 ‘investigators’ are involved in a mission to save the Allies and the World from … well, unknowable horrors. In fact, that horrors are so unknowable that every time your characters interact with unnatural foes their sanity slowly ekes away. If sanity hits zero, the character will go insane, which sometimes causes them to freeze in panic, and other times allows them to go berserk. Either way, sanity can be restored, both before and after insanity, with a properly equipped character with the Psychology skill. See below for a picture of the intrepid investigators fighting various horrors:

This is a great game, compatible with both iPhones and iPads (in HD) for the low price of $4.99. Per the developers an Android version is in the works. I highly recommend this game!

posted by neil at 7:53 pm
under Uncategorized,video games  

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I should post a real post about this sometime, with some specific information, since there isn’t a lot of information about this stuff around, but I’m currently in the midst of converting my place to condominium. I purchased the top floor of an Edwardian two-story in 2010, along with another person. We are currently co-owners (Tenants in Common – TIC) of the house with “exclusive” use of various parts of the property. San Francisco has some peculiar laws around converting this shared-deed property to a multiple-deed condominium – basically there is a lottery in which TICs of up to 6 units can enter when they meet certain owner-occupancy thresholds, and a small number of units win every year. There are two other ways to convert to condo. The first is so big companies can do it whenever they want, which is 50% or more improvement (which includes, of course, new construction). The second is a, lucky for me, exception for two unit TICs with a clean (eviction-free) rental history. After one year of both units being owner occupied, the TIC is eligible to begin the condo-conversion process.

Anyway, that’s the background, and like I said, sometime in the next couple of months I will write more about this and my particular experience, but one of the big steps towards conversion is to get a ‘code and safety’ inspection by the City. This inspection costs something like $2500 for a two unit building (it scales up, but the biggest per-owner burden is at two units). Building, electrical and plumbing inspectors come out and point out all the violations which then must be corrected within the next six months, whether or not the condo-conversion goes forward. A signed job-card verifying the completion of this work is needed to continue on with the process. We had our inspection November, and we got our report back at the end of 2011, and it really didn’t seem too bad. Only one ‘building’ issue was called out, a fairly minor issue with one of the back patio stairs, and there were a few small electrical issues, and a few more plumbing and mechanical issues. I don’t have the final bill for the contractor work on this, but it’s going to be around $5000 of work, shared between the two of us. Actually when I went in to the Department of Building Inspection to get the permit for the work, the inspector who looked over my report and my permit application said “wow, this really is not very much work, usually it’s a lot more”. Well, thats a lucky break for us – it’s probably a good thing that the former owners of this place replaced most of the electrical and redid the bathrooms and the downstairs kitchen, ALL WITH PERMIT in the past five years.

Ok, now to get to the point of this. We aren’t done with inspections yet, the building inspector has to come out Friday and look at the stairs and close the job cards, but the electrical and plumbing inspectors came out yesterday and both passed us. So hopefully when the building inspector comes out Tuesday he’ll just sign off on the small back staircase, and we will be free to proceed to the next steps.

posted by neil at 9:57 am
under home ownership  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cold Shower

I thought I was going to have to take a cold shower today, because the water was ice cold even after running for a minute or two. Contractors were over yesterday to do the minor code work that needs to be done for the condo conversion – more about this in a later post, I think – and one of the things they did is replace the first bit of pipe coming off my gas meter, before it splits out to upstairs and the basement (water heater and furnace). Well, I was worried they busted something for a moment, then I decided to see if they had just turned the water heater off. And they had. Thankfully it’s a tankless heater, so a very short time later I was able to take a shower.

posted by neil at 9:21 am
under daily tribulations,home ownership  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Posting often is hard

It’s hard to remember and hard to do.

Uhm, I’m going to Millennium for dinner tonight, a fancy vegetarian restaurant. It might or might not be a convert a carnivore wednesday, which means savings, but… well it doesn’t matter. I’ve actually been once before, with Mackenzie and her sisters. Her youngest sister, Lary, is a vegetarian, so you’d think it would be right up her wheelhouse – but she was kind of the cheese and pasta sort at the time, so it was a bit a travail, and just ordering took something like an hour. It was good though, so I am looking forward to the return visit tonight!

posted by neil at 5:47 pm
under food  

Monday, February 6, 2012


Television isn’t glamorous, but most of us spend at least some time watching it. Recently (around the new year) I got a promotion from Comcast/Xfinity or whatever they are called, which came with some free Showtime and HBO, for a limit time (6 months/1 year respectively, I believe). With the addition of Showtime, we’ve started watching the show Homeland, which they are replaying. We’re 4 or so episodes in now, and I don’t really see how the show can keep going, but I hear that things change and it continues to be good, and that Angela ChaseClaire Danes really deserved that award or whatever she got for it.

The other thing I’ve been watching is a lot of Holmes on Homes and Holmes Inspections on HGTV and DIY. This is a Canadian show where Mike Holmes, a general contractor in Toronto, rips people’s homes apart to fix various problems. He probably goes overboard sometimes, but it’s interesting to see how a lot of the things are done, and to compare how careful they are about running pipes on the ‘warm side’ of walls up there, whereas half of my pipes our OUTSIDE OF MY HOUSE!

What else should I be watching?

posted by neil at 1:41 pm
under TV  

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Some of my friends know that I am somewhat particular about bagels. Unless they meat a certain threshold, they are just round bread. Mass produced bagels you find at the grocery stores here in San Francisco certainly fall into that latter category. Yeah, House of Bagels sometimes has worthy bagels, but just sometimes. A bagel must be toothsome, without that it’s not a bagel.

Anyway, for the past couple of years, we”ve been able to enjoy, on occasion, bagels imported from St. Viateur in Montreal via my pal Shiu. The Montreal-style bagel is pretty minimalistic – small and dense, but seems to be always seeded. Also, they have giant holes. I’ve not had them fresh, but day old and/or taken out of the freezer at a later date, and toasted, they make for the basis of a delightful breakfast.

Recently, my friend Yanny visited New York, and I asked her to bring us back some bagels for me. I have had some fresh New York bagels in the past, and so I knew that these were bigger and airier than their Canadian brethren. She gave me bagels from Ees a Bagel. These are a bit bigger than the bagels I remember eating, but they have the same consistency and ‘suggestion of a hole’ (which makes them easier to spread with cream cheese).

I kind of want to have a ‘fresh is best’ taste off between the two now – seeded bagels from both, head to head in a battle royale. A blind test would be improbable due to the form factor differences, but still, it would be fun. But currently, I think the St. Viateur are winning in my mind – the sweeter, smaller bagels, which fit easily in the toaster when cut in half, are possibly my new bagel ideal!

posted by neil at 10:20 am
under food  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Can’t write

I just can’t think of anything. I think I cursed myself by not actually following through with my entry in the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. I entered this challenge, which begins with one week to write a 2500 word short story, with a genre, subject and character specified at the start of the contest, late last year. It seemed like it would be a good idea at the time, even though I knew I was going to be in Las Vegas the first weekend. I figured I could use that weekend to brainstorm, and then Monday night I could begin writing. Yeah, that was a smart plan… or not.

But the reality is, while I did brainstorm a decent story start, I couldn’t come up with an end, and we got stuck in Las Vegas for about 4 extra hours, so instead of having Monday night at home, I spent it traveling. And then one thing led to another, but there was really only one night that week when I was in any shape to write, Tuesday, and I just didn’t. So I failed.

And now, now I am cursed!

posted by neil at 10:27 am
under rambling  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Now what I thought I was going to write about

I had some ideas about what to write about today, and then, well, work got busy and I forgot.

But then I had an idea to write about, one that is interesting but which I am not really completely familiar with yet… And that idea is POPOS – Privately Owned, Public Open Space. These are public spaces in downtown San Francisco that are privately owned. It turns out that there are a fair number of them within walking distance of my office on California between Montgomery and Sansome. I’ve chatted about them some with my coworkers in the past week, and we’re going to start checking them out on our lunch breaks.

For more information:

Spur has a good article about the POPOS, and a map of them.

One of my favorite podcasts, 99% invisible, did a great story on them a couple of years ago, definitely worth a listen!

Podcast Powered By Podbean
posted by neil at 12:07 am
under adventure  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Just like last year, I’m going to try to post once a day in February. This year it will be harder as there is that pesky 29th to contend with.

posted by neil at 8:39 am
under meta  

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