"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Thursday, March 30, 2006

day of infamy

I became angry and made an impolite gesture at a young man in a large pickup truck today. I was riding my bike home and apparently I interfered with the free-flow of his vehicle. The main road I was riding on (in the bike lane) veers left and a little-used side road continues straight ahead. He wanted to be on the latter road but had to slow down due to my presence. This must have upset him terribly because he honked and yelled, and stopped his truck. I stopped my bike, briefly, and gave him my regards from about 30 yards away.

I've never done that before and I was kind of shocked by my own behavior as may be obvious from my use of euphemisms for a euphemism. Seems out of character for me. Normally I would want to consider all the possibilities before deciding whether or not I'm having feelings of deep hostility and whether or how I should express them, and by then the opportunity has usually passed. Maybe I was far enough away that it seemed not too risky. I know that is unwise cycling policy to escalate any situation with a the driver of a larger vehicle even when the driver is an ignoramus without theology or geometry. A blowgun with a tranquilizer dart would be nice to have on the bike sometimes. Take down that bad boy and give him a little radio collar so we can track his range and migrations, maybe transport him by helicopter to some other rural community...OK, I'm still feeling a little hostile.

IN OTHER NEWS, found an interesting article on Beginner Triathlete.com about exercise and weight loss (or lack thereof). Don't read it if you're having a bad day or feeling down though...it might not help you feel better. I just can't keep myself from sharing the love today.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

not exactly funny

I'm figuring out how to do links on my Mac WITHOUT help from blogger and Safari, thanks. Check out this Ben Sargent cartoon.

Monday, March 27, 2006

something to look forward to

Attempted a ride to the little community of Forest Ranch (I don't think it quite amounts to a "town") about 14 miles east of Chico yesterday. 14 miles east and about 2000 feet up. I didn't understand that it was 15 miles away when I started though and just after reaching Crown Point Road I decided to turn around. Someone had told me it was easier to ride to Forest Ranch than to Paradise. Maybe that's true since I never felt like I had to stand up in the saddle in order to keep pedalling forward. The grade was less severe but the place is farther away. Here is where I got: Driving Directions from Chico to Crown Point Rd & State Hwy 32.
It took me about 1.5 hours to get there and half an hour to get home again. Next time I'll know that just a bit further up the road is...I don't know. Maybe they have a small gift shop or a phone booth there or something.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Happy Birthday WSH

My great-grandma Winnie's birthday today. I have a little story that I thought I'd posted before but looking back it appears that I left it out--maybe I just couldn't find it and I'm repeating myself, but it's probably a good life strategy to get over the fear of repeating oneself.

Grandma Winnie had some very practical remedies for upset or "sour stomach" as she put it, which I did not always appreciate. One night some 23 or so years ago I was staying at the Ranch, as Grandma & Grandpa's home was called (because it was, in fact, a ranch). My tummy hurt. Grandma informed me that I needed to drink baking soda dissolved in a glass of water and I'd be fixed right up. I didn't like the idea. Furthermore I was certain that no way in hell would I drink baking soda. I believed that I might possibly barf if I drank it and I have always been very barfing-averse. I refused to take her advice and just stewed with my stomach acid for awhile.

So a few months ago when I had been taking all that vitamin-C loaded Airborne to fend off germs, and was awake in the middle of the night with "Flaming" as opposed to merely "Sour" stomach, and had ransacked the condo looking for Tums but couldn't find any, I thought, What Would Winnie Do? Sure enough, right on the box of baking soda in the cupboard were the instructions for mixing up a not exactly tasty antacid beverage. I drank it, didn't barf, and almost instantly felt much better. I also purchased more Tums the next day.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


My swimming routine this morning: swim 4 laps, kick 2, swim 4, kick 2, swim 4, kick 2, swim 4, swim 2 for something wild and different at the end. As recently as last week I was deeply irritated with the kicking drill since it seemed to be producing so little forward propulsion that I could have drifted to the other side of the pool in the wind currents in about the same time.

THEN on Monday I started to stretch out and tilt forward more, and it seemed like the kicking produced detectible motion. And THEN, today, during the last kicking round, a little voice said why don't you kick about twice as fast as you have been? and I said, can we really do that? and instead of going kick...kick...kick...kick... I started going kickkickkickkick, and my feet made a very satisfying paddlewheel steamboat-like sound. The little voice said "Toot Toot!"

Sunday, March 19, 2006

My inner librarian

I'm trying to get in touch with her because she seems more accessible than the inner filing clerk.

We helped some friends move this weekend and it inspired me to attempt (yet again) to cull my book collection. People who have helped me move in the past have been deeply impressed by the number of boxes of books that they had the opportunity to carry up flights of stairs on my behalf. The question to ask is: do I love this book enough to ask someone else to carry it up a flight of stairs? Another question to ask is, have I even looked at this book in the last five years? If I never finished it when I was supposed to read it for that class in college twelve years ago, why do I still have it? Or the reverse: since I slogged through it for that class, it is now a paperback trophy on the shelf, a literary taxidermy project.

I have argued with the inner librarian about the need for me to keep these many quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore as potential references for writing my post-post-post-modern epic, etc. etc. I'm not sure who is arguing which point of view but I have a new hypothesis that having too many books is actually preventing me from reading because at any given time I can't find the right one, and possibly inhibiting production of the masterwork as well. So while I didn't find very many books that I was ready to detach from on today's sweep, I did empty a box left over from the last move and I alphabetized the poetry section. I also found a book about dowsing that I had forgotten I had. Maybe my epic will have dowsing in it.

Blogging may also inhibit production of the masterwork. On the other hand it has some value as a writing exercise. Blog writing is generally accused of being quick and sloppy, but my #1 writing obstacle--whether it be email, blog, memo, letter, poem, scene from novel--is obsessively overthinking about it. Ask Celia how long it took me to write a note to our landlord once. So if you ever read anything sloppy on my blog, consider it a sign of progress.

Friday, March 17, 2006

something different

The parents of a friend in Sacramento found and rescued this albino fawn in Oregon, mistaking it at first for a stray baby goat. According to the email forwarded to us, baby is doing fine as far as they know (though isn't staying at the rescuers' house any more).

In other news, it seems that some wacky liberal activist judges in D.C. decided that the Bush EPA can't gut the Clean Air Act without help from Congress. After all that work this administration has done to educate people on the harmlessness of air pollution, this must feel like quite a discouraging setback. It's just not fair and reasonable to expect industries to update and improve their technology in ways that help non-stockholders. What, is government like "for the people" or something?

Visit the earthjustice.org newsroom to learn all about new source review, and even find a link there to a PDF of the court's decision.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Happy 76th Birthday RBG

Some highlights from her Wikipedia bio:

Born Joan Ruth Bader in Brooklyn, New York, the second daughter of Nathan and Celia Bader. Ginsburg's older sister died when she was very young.
Ginsburg's mother called her "Kiki" (which her father found objectionable) and took an active role in Ruth's education, taking her to the library often and applying for scholarships that would allow her to attend college. Celia struggled with cancer throughout Ruth's high school years and died the day before graduation.
She married Martin D. Ginsburg (later a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center and an internationally prominent tax lawyer) in 1954, and has a daughter, Jane, and a son, James.
Ginsburg received her B.A. from Cornell University in 1954 and attended Harvard Law School (before moving on to Columbia). Her husband, upon graduating from HLS accepted a job in New York City and she transferred to Columbia Law School, where she won a spot on the law review, becoming the only person ever to have been on law review at both Harvard and Columbia; she earned her LL.B. degree at Columbia, where she graduated not only first in her class but with the highest grades in the history of the law school, a trait she shares with Justice Stevens (who graduated with the highest grades in the history of Northwestern's law school). She finally accepted an offer to serve as a law clerk to the Honorable Edmund L. Palmieri, Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, from 1959-1961. From 1961-1963, she was a research associate and then associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, for which she learned Norwegian and Swedish in several months and became an intellectual leader in civil procedure. She was a Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law from 1963-1972, and Columbia Law School from 1972-1980, where she became the first ever woman to earn tenure and authored the first law book ever to be written on gender equality law and served as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford University, California from 1977-1978. She served as the chief litigator of the ACLU's women's rights project and argued in front of the Supreme Court numerous times, winning cases that reversed centuries of Court precedent that reinforced gender inequity and attaining a reputation as an extremely skilled oral advocate and equality litigator. After nominating her to the Supreme Court, President Clinton referred to her as the "Thurgood Marshall" of the women's movement.

And this excerpt from one of her dissenting opinions back in 2000:

'The Court assumes that time will not permit “orderly judicial review of any disputed matters that might arise.” ... But no one has doubted the good faith and diligence with which Florida election officials, attorneys for all sides of this controversy, and the courts of law have performed their duties. Notably, the Florida Supreme Court has produced two substantial opinions within 29 hours of oral argument. In sum, the Court’s conclusion that a constitutionally adequate recount is impractical is a prophecy the Court’s own judgment will not allow to be tested. Such an untested prophecy should not decide the Presidency of the United States.

I dissent.'

Thursday, March 09, 2006

dawn of the tri season

Haven't quite got up the guts to register for this event yet but I'm planning to do another triathlon on May 13. The "City of Gold" in Oroville. "City of Gold" rhymes with "Lake Swim is Cold" (about 62 degrees). I will have to practice swimming in my wetsuit. While I'm at it, need to practice swimming. I need a training schedule. The women's tri club has started up again but there are two obstacles to participating with them (well, two I will mention): they usually work out in the evening, and they want $140 or something like that for the privilege of contributing to my insomnia and robbing me of my domestic prime time. Celia and I have many, many episodes of our favorite TV shows from Netflix that we are trying to watch. Also, Tuesday and Wednesday nights I have dinner-cooking duties. Every other Monday night is a Chico Natural Foods Co-op Board meeting. I am VP this year. The Co-op doesn't currently offer wild poultry products, though I'd argue that it doesn't get more "natural" than quail.

Anyway, I'm not making excuses for why I can't train for the City of Gold, only for why I can't join the training group. I will have to make my own schedule.

Friday, March 03, 2006

the dream team

I had a dream a couple nights ago that I was on a pro basketball team, somewhat to my doubt and confusion, as I have never felt especially compelled to play basketball of my own free will. Wasn't a WNBA team either; it was a team with a bunch of guys. In my dream we were having some kind of mixer with the fans. People were greeting me and telling me they were glad I was on the team, though I couldn't imagine that I was a very impressive player. Then while chatting with one of my teammates I happened to recall that there was one other woman on the team. Sandra Day O'Connor.

I guess Justice Ginsburg hasn't worked her way into my subconscious mind yet, despite her now unique position as the only woman on the Court and the second female Justice since the "team" started 216 years ago. I agree that the average of one woman per century seems pretty high, at least in geologic terms.

Before going to law school I confess to general unawareness of who was currently sitting on the Court other than Justices Thomas and O'Connor. I did not mention that detail in my application for admission, but don't think I even realized that I had that gap in my civic education. Once they're appointed they don't make the news very often until they retire or die, or go duck hunting or something. I don't remember ever having read a Supreme Court opinion other than very brief quotes, or for that matter any court opinion, before law school. You can see where the "well, how did I get here?" element of my dream could have come from.

In fairness to myself, though, the vast preponderance of judicial opinions are way, way off the radar of English majors and other people who consider themselves English speakers. However, it still might be nice if kids in public schools and undergraduate institutions were briefly required at least to try to read some Supreme Court opinions, as it might lead to realization that, not only are there three branches of government, but the branches are intended to prevent and/or undo one another's grotesque errors and abuses of power, and when they don't do that we're supposed to be upset, even if we may not all agree on what we're upset about. We can dissent and still be on the team.