"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"

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Escucha la musica

I have listened to this a couple times and I fail to understand why it's offensive to anyone. May not be everyone's style of music, but I think the guitar sounds great and it has a marchy, but not overbearing, drumbeat that seems appropriate. I realize that none of the arguments I've come up with are likely to convince any of the English-Only crowd to listen with more open ears, but here's what I came up with:

1. Canada's national anthem is officially in two languages. (But that's Canada, their anthem is about pine trees or something, we surely can't put it on the same level as OUR anthem.)
2. When I was in Jr. High we recited the pledge of allegiance in French at the start of every French class, and nobody complained, that I know of.
3. It seems there may be works of even greater religious significance than the Star Spangled Banner that have been translated into a whole bunch 'o languages, even English.
4. I guess it boils down to whether the national anthem is meant to celebrate our white Anglo heritage, or to celebrate the people who comprise the entire "republic for which it stands," referring to said Spangled Banner.
5. Considering I have listened to Nuestro Himno two or three times today and even I felt some sentimental stirrings of patriotism about it, thinking about all America has the potential to be despite our many, many failures, maybe this tune could actually do some good...maybe it could help more current and future Americans feel like they have a place here and important work to do.... Oops. That's why the song is offensive to conservative sensibilities. Now I get it.

Escuchamos nuestro himno.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I been everywhere, man

Home after a tour of 4 different airports in 5 days and a total of nine airport visits. I was in Sacramento three different times, Phoenix three times, Las Vegas once, and Atlanta twice. No wonder I was starting to feel like I'd died and gone to hell by the time I arrived in Sacramento last night at 11:30 pm.

Still, my final destinations in Flagstaff AZ and Atlanta GA and Sacramento CA (and home, of course) made it worth enduring the noise and bad, stale air and lack of edible food. I underestimated how wearying the travel would be. AmericaWest / U.S. Airlines features the world's least comfortable airplane seats (especially on their Canadair jet, the seats make you feel like you're being swallowed by a giant clam) and a landing gear motor that sounded like it needed some WD-40. If not for the likelihood of visiting my friends in Arizona again, I would probably avoid AW in the future, or I'll just try to spend the whole flight in the lavatory where the seats are more comfortable.

Now that the snide complaining is out of the way I will try to get around to discussing the purpose of the trips, and what I learned. Just like a human to dwell on the physical discomforts at the expense of exploring the deeper meaning. But I'm in some serious sleep debt and I'd like to doze off sitting next to Ce while she watches one of the NFL films she lined up on our Netflix queue to fill the void of my absence. On Sunday I'm driving to Oakland for yet another conference, but it's on elder financial abuse prevention / litigation and I didn't want to miss it. I don't know why, but I love going to conferences, because you can go and learn without the pressure and there are lots of snacks and free pens and stuff. It won't involve visiting the inside of any airports so I think I can handle it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Menu le 18 avril 2006

Bienvenue à "Emile's Tavern"

I. Pain artisanal au romarin

II. Salade de romaine aux câpres

III. Asperges au four à la sauce déesse

IV. Coq au vin

V. Earthquake Carrot Cake (ceçi n'a pas de bonne traduction) -- think edible visualization of plate tectonics and liquefaction.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sleep revisited

I was awake at 5:30 a.m. this morning. What's up with THAT? Overall my sleep has been much better, however. My last refill of Ambien ran out in February and since then I've been learning about sleep-promoting herbs. Catnip (shown here) is one of my favorites but I have to protect my stash from Kato or else he starts rummaging through my bag for it. I have also stopped drinking coffee for awhile. I had some kind of 24hr flu about 10 days ago and didn't feel like drinking anything besides water and ginger ale, and I couldn't tell the difference between any caffeine withdrawals and leftover flu symptoms, so there was no grandiose battle of will involved.

Farcical aquatic ceremonies

King Arthur; I am your king.
Woman: Well I didn't vote for you.
King Arthur: You don't vote for kings.
Woman: Well how'd you become king then?
[Angelic music plays... ]
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Speaking of aquatic ceremonies, I been thinkin' about this Lake Oroville thing next month. The pond down at Rancho Seco where I did the Luna Bar tri last summer was scary enough...the water all dark and green...and it was easily 72 - 75 degrees. Lake Oroville is, well, big, and predicted to be about 62. I've paddled around in the ocean with fins and a mask and snorkel and a float tube, but that seems very different. I have a farmer john-style wetsuit I'll wear for the swim but I haven't been able to practice with it. Hmm...just remembered that the pool in our complex is unheated...I could practice with it in there. The big creek pool in the park would be better but it's been a raging torrent for the past couple weeks. Jumping in would be a quick ride to the Sacramento River.

Friday, April 14, 2006

She's 37 (almost), she's not old!

This Tuesday, April 18, on the centennial anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake, someone in our house is having a birthday. Let us eat cake.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A visit to Middle Mountain

Celia discovered an organization that leads hikes in the Sutter Buttes, aka "the world's smallest mountain range," or "Esto Yamani" in the language of the Maidu people, meaning "Middle Mountain." We put our names on a waiting list for the hike up to the North Butte summit and found out yesterday that there was space for us. So we went. The land is all privately owned and a lot of the Buttes area is used for cattle ranching. The happy California cows are rough on the terrain but it appears that for the most part the landowners / ranchers are conservation-oriented and the Middle Mountain Foundation has a good working relationship with them. The photo here is from MMF's website but it looks almost exactly like where we were today, including the weather. Very steep climb up about 1000 ft to the top, or at least to the foot of the pinnacles thrusting out of the top of North Butte. The summit elevation is about 1800 ft. At the top the sun came out while we had our lunch, then it started to drizzle again during the hike down. Considering the rain we were threatened with for today the weather was great.

We are also on the waiting list for a bat-viewing hike in May. Some 11 of the 24 known species of bats in California can be found in the Sutter Buttes so biologists have regular gigs there every year to check them out.

On clearer days one can see the Buttes from the Yolo causeway between Davis and Sacramento. Today I could see the Sacramento skyline from the Buttes. I preferred the latter perspective. The view of mountains (however small) in the distance is a restless view for me, sometimes causing me to feel some dissatisfaction with where I am at that moment, while the view of a city 45 miles away is just an interesting view.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

counting chainrings before they're attached

As the bidding clock ticks down on that Surly Long Haul Trucker frame, I've been exploring the world of components that will eventually be necessary unless I want to practice some kind of Zen biking-without-bicycle. I have been learning about gears and for the first time ever I counted the teeth on the granny gears of my road bike. Well no wonder riding uphill has been so much work. The smallest front chainring has 30 teeth and the biggest ring in the back has 24. This means that even my granny gear is kind of a tough ol' granny. I think it should be the other way around: smaller ring in the front, bigger in the back. Then I can haul over hill and dale without first developing the musculature of Lance Armstrong, which for a number of reasons isn't likely to happen. I have wondered, struggling up some of my hill rides, how in the world people tour with a load up hills like this. While it's likely that many such people have built up their climbing legs beyond my current ability, I think they are also enjoying better living through physics.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

new species found in bike bag

This unidentifiable, yet apparently cat-like, creature was found peering out of a rolltop bike pannier. Game warden has not been notified. You saw it first here.

albino deer is SO busted

Maybe the photos were real, whenever and wherever they were actually taken, but I have perpetuated a rural legend. Just feel grateful that I posted it here instead of emailing it to you all.

Votes for the Monkey

Feminists claim that the personal is political, which leads me to shamelessly promote our cat Amonke whose baby picture is maybe not as endearing to the whole world as it is to us. We uploaded it to the Kittenwar website where at last count Amonke was winning only 29% of her battles for the cutest kitten.

OK, I admit, she was a cute kitten but in sort of a scary wild animal way. Others may have a different "cute" aesthetic in mind. There are kittens on the website that are hopelessly fluffy and sweet-looking. However, Amonke has matured into a very striking and surprisingly-well-behaved-with-a-couple-exceptions young lady.

Monday, April 03, 2006

an SUV for the post-oil apocalypse

or a part of one, at least. If the ebay bidding doesn't go out of my range then this bit of steel will be mine in about 3 days. I am so in love with the color. It must be all those shopping trips to the Army Surplus store I went on as a child.