"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"

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

why catch flies with honey when you can squash 'em with rolled up newspaper

Oops. It was just brought to my attention that the title of this post got posted without any post attached. I was going to tell a story about a case I'm working on, wherein I got so irritated with opposing counsel that I called him an ass, certainly not to his face but talking to my client, which still wasn't very professional of me but was deeply gratifying to my client. I had a raging sinus headache at the time too. Or maybe it was the cold medicine I took for the sinus headache. But I felt like I was divulging too many details in the post (even without including anybody's names) so I deleted it. If I had told the whole story you would probably have thought that I was being too kind and generous in my name calling.

Monday, December 29, 2008

There and Back Again

Ripley made her first visit to the snow over Christmas. Except for an agitated phase toward the end of our drive back that lasted through most of the evening after we arrived, to the chagrin of Mia and Dozo, who think Ripley not a very polite or properly deferential guest in their house, Ripley did great in the car. Here she is admiring the world as it goes by the window that is covered in her noseprints.

She was confused by the stuff at first, and understandably reluctant to squat in it, but very soon she made herself right to home in the snow.

Now we'll have a transitional photo that is mostly of my dog, but begins to incorporate human elements. Ripley got these lovely antlers in her stocking. Someone is no doubt really glad she painted her toenails for Christmas, because you just never know when they might be caught on camera.

LG walked around all morning saying "Santa." "Santa?" in a calm, observant voice. His calm was periodically shattered by Ripley's effort to communicate by barking. After recovering from the trauma of such a loud noise coming from a not very big dog, LG would remark, now and then, "Dog. Wuh wuh." Here he and Grandma (aka "Bama,") playing with his very cool new blocks. Later I wanted to play too and I learned the rules are that whatsoever ye build, LG will come knock it all down...thoroughly obliterate it, in fact, so that not one block is sitting atop another.

Not pictured are the three days of pie. I wonder what percentage of the cells of which I am currently constituted were made out of pie. It was a lovely visit...and I don't blame anyone but myself for my having eating myself sick on Friday. Though somebody gave me a cold, I don't know who, and I'd like to return it but don't know where it came from. If you have any leads send 'em along.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Folk jam

I wish I had a photo of this, and perhaps an audioclip. The Butte Folk Music Society has a website of sorts but it's more of a cry for help than a website. Nothing that captures how much fun it is to go to one of their jams. There were two or three banjos, a fiddle, a mandolin, a slide guitar, a couple harmonicas, and several guitars (including mine) in the circle yesterday, along with a few people who were just singing. They went around the circle and everybody took turns picking a song, which the whole group then would play and sing. Those who were able to play some lead / solo took turns soloing. (I'm not there yet with my playing.)

I happened upon the group several months ago at Augie's Coffeehouse (named for the Anglican "Church of St. Augustine" to which it is attached) and have been wanting to go back with my guitar ev'ry since. When my turns came around, I picked "Can the Circle Be Unbroken," "Goodnight Irene," and "Wildwood Flower." I learned some "new" old songs I want to add to my repertoire too, like "Hard Times" and...shoot. Should have been writing things down. I was reminded that a crucial piece of equipment I haven't yet acquired is the bible of group folk-singing books, Rise Up Singing. I don't usually think of it until I get into a group where people want to sing old-timey songs but nobody can ever remember all the words (not to mention the chords).

There were some really great bluegrass players in the group. I need to go to one of their "Bluegrass Jams" so I can learn some of that pickin'. I stayed for over two hours yesterday and finally had to stop because my left hand was getting a cramp and I was getting hoarse and my fingers were already sore from playing at the office holiday party the night before.

I'll try to remember to take a picture next time. Meanwhile here's the Carter Family to tide us all over. There is some great close-up footage of Mother Maybelle's guitar picking.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Holiday highlights, pt. II

Way back when I started this blog, under its previous title "Hamartia and Cheese Sandwiches," it was meant to be a record of my triathlon training efforts. Huh. Sort of like how my parents' business started in the 1970's repairing sailboats and now they manufacture and install corrosion resistant linings and coatings for industrial containers. I'm just glad they saved that part for when I was a little bit older because it's harder to say than "Sailboats."

But now and then, sooner or later, we all revisit our roots, and I want to fan the ember of cycling enthusiasm that I feel is trying to burst into flame, so I wanted to say that my roadbike trip meter says 24-something miles from last Sunday's lovely ride down River Road in West Sacramento. I heard the road was rough but compared to a notoriously bad stretch of road I can think of here in Chico, it might as well have been an indoor track. H took pictures, which I hope might appear sometime later on her blog, and I'll probably let her tell about how the ride would have been a little longer if not for the happenstance of a Clarksburg winery. The vintner was very gracious and friendly even though it is surely obvious that when people are wine tasting impromptu in their bike shorts, they're not likely planning to buy anything liquid in heavy glass bottles. Though...hmmm...that gives me an idea. Tell you later.

One of my favorite parts of the ride was when there was a long stretch of smooth / straighter road and I had a Burst of Power! Shifted into my big front chainring and sped up to 23 - 24? miles an hour. For about 30 seconds, and then I was really tired. I call this a "Corgi sprint" -- very dangerous over the short distances, as they say

There is something about having been for a ride, even a short, flat ride like that one with the pause for refreshment in the middle, that makes you feel so good when you get home, and you're hungry from riding. It makes any food taste better and your legs feel tired from too many corgi sprints, and it's a good feeling. It's a good feeling, to know you're alive.

Photos would have been nice with this post but I didn't have my camera (or even a cellphone camera) with me. You can look at the photos from the last post again if you need to look at something.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Holiday highlights pt. I

Ripley w/flamethrower in the original, iconic, unequalled "Alien." Yeah, special effects show their age, but I'll gladly suspend disbelief when necessary. We are introduced to the TRUE monster of the Alien series: THE COMPANY. The ultimate in corporate evil. Ripley gets in a lot of trouble with THE COMPANY for blowing up her ship and cargo just to get rid of the alien after it ate her whole crew. THE COMPANY keeps trying to get its claws on one of these creatures for bioweapons research, and doesn't care who is expended in the process.

"Aliens" was for a long time my favorite...the action and peril are made interesting by the excellent development of the characters. The classic showdown of the Muthas. The serious weaponry. The oft-quotable lines tossed off by the Colonial Marines. It is still a favorite but now in my mature years I am realizing that the first Alien is unsurpassed. The films are different genres under the
sci-fi umbrella so maybe it's not fair to compare them. Good thing I have both, I can compare them all I want.

Alien3. I'm sure there was all kinds of symbolism going on in this movie; some have compared it to the original, but the comparison breaks down when you aren't able to get to know or like most of the characters. I didn't like it at all when I first saw it in the theater, since then it has grown on me a little (or perhaps it's more correct to say 'grown in me, in this context).

Ripley at the other end of the series, "Alien Resurrection," which was an odd duck; normally in a movie there is at least one person you can really like. Sigourney's human/alien hybrid clone was the most likeable but she did creepy things. None of the humans were likeable. Winona's emotionally strident robot whined too much. But the movie has moments that make it worth sitting through, i.e. any scene with Sigourney. When you are part alien, you have superhuman strength and agility, and you have pointy black fingernails, and you have to wear a lot of leather. Just so you know, should you encounter an alien-human hybrid.

In the spirit of thankfulness for leisure time with friends, my friend L and I watched all four Alien movies--the entire quadrilogy--back to back, in
one day (Friday). We did take breaks to walk the dogs and check in on current events.

I tried to watch the dog Ripley to see if she reacted at all to her name being shouted on TV over and over again, couldn't really tell.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What part of Marbury v. Madison don't you understand?

That's supposed to be funny. Lawyer humor. But this quote engraved on the wall in the United States Supreme Court building is serious.
Marbury v. Madison was the case in which it was determined that the buck stops with the Supreme Court in terms of reviewing the actions of other governmental bodies to decide if an action is illegal, or reviewing laws and statutes for constitutionality. Nice that the first Chief Justice, John Marshall, figured all that out in 1803 so we wouldn't have to worry about it again.

I ate lunch in the US Supreme Court Cafeteria today. I was going to try to make some kind of joke about that too but I was actually quite excited to be there, and the food was reasonably priced and pretty good. My coworker and I thought about trying to pick a fight with each other outside the building so we could say we argued before the Supreme Court, but we couldn't think of anything to fight about.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

got captions?

"A tisket, a tasket, a kitty in a basket."

"I Has a Baskit."

"Where are we going and what am I doing in this handbasket?"

"Take my picture already."

"I can't come back! I don't know how it works!"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

May the best frame win

In preparation for a presentation I have to do in a couple weeks, I'm doing research on cognitive frames and their use in race equity advocacy. It's explaining a lot to me about how people can persist in believing things that are completely unsupported--even contradicted--by the facts. I don't claim to be exempt from this phenomenon. I don't think anybody can be completely. The power of frames is too strong. Something pretty dramatic has to happen for somebody to start seeing outside of their familiar, prevailing frames.

Just a little background: A frame is a core idea or 'story' that helps us create meaning and interpret the world around us. Frames come in clusters--one may be tied to another, and there are frames within frames. Frames not only describe our reality, but they construct it as well. Successful social and political (and religious) movements know how to trigger and play into these frames. For example, anti-affirmative action efforts have played into the individual merit frame and co-opted civil rights language so that white people will see affirmative action as unfair and will fail to see that women and people of color still encounter structural barriers to opportunity. This frame of "merit" is so powerful that even liberal whites often view affirmative action as unfair and unnecessary despite all the research to the contrary. People are likely to reject any amount of research, no matter how thorough and objective, that conflicts with their frame. When facts collide with a cognitive frame, the frame will win. People are not persuaded to change by facts.

While this phenomenon is frightening and unbelievably frustrating when one is in a position of trying to champion the real true facts (or marshal the facts! as Prof. Imwinkelreid would often say), it's some comfort to know that people are somewhat at the mercy of their brains. It's not because they're inherently mean spirited or ignorant. To the contrary, smart, kind, thoughtful people who are operating under a powerful frame may just not be capable of believing anything that doesn't fit in it. The only hope for change is to shift the frames. The good news is that it can be done. If this were not the case, there wouldn't have been a Prop 8 to begin with, because it wouldn't have occurred to anybody that sexual orientation should be a protected status such as race and gender and religious creed and so on. No one would have feared that 'traditional marriage' was under attack because no one would have recognized the diversity of family structures and decided that one type of structure should be promoted at the expense or exclusion of others. And certainly, no one would have had the opportunity to vote for a President who looks like Barack Obama. For that matter, women would not be voting, period.

I am hoping and praying for the frames of fairness and equality and opportunity for all to prevail by the end of the day today, because these are powerful frames in America too. Whatever the result, things have shifted a long way even for us to be able to fight our current fights or make the kinds of choices that are before us.

I'm off to stand 100 feet from a polling place with my Vote No on 8 t-shirt and sign and my guitar. I'm going to sing America the Beautiful, and maybe a few songs promoting the "love your neighbor as yourself" frame. Don't know if it'll have any effect on how anybody votes one way or the other but singing always makes me feel better, so there's that.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Travels with Ripley

Ripley here with her cousin Tango chez Elouise and Nancy. They've been in Corgi heaven, chasing each other, wrasslin', herdin', telling each other sheep jokes...We're leaving in a few minutes and it's hard to take Ripley away (without taking Tango with us).

Further trip updates are forthcoming, but one experience of note from the road was hearing a Barack Obama ad in Navajo while driving through eastern Arizona. I'm not sure why, but I got kind of choked up when I heard it. Maybe the idea that Obama would represent all Americans, including the original ones, and give us a chance to feel like this land was, in fact, made for you and me rather than us versus them. The Navajo Nation has endorsed Obama.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Glad to be a Mac.

From an article by Jon Hanson, "The Blame Frame: Justifying (Racial) Injustice in America"

"Because humans crave justice, salient suffering or inequalities activate an 'injustice dissonance' within us. Too often, we alleviate that dissonance, not by addressing the injustice, but by creating an illusion of justice through assumptions, arguments, or stereotypes about the blameworthiness of the victim."

Seems like a lot of folks are having to alleviate a lot of dissonance these days about a lot of things, and a lot of illusions have been created in the process. In the perennially apt words of Aunt Liza, "oh dear oh dear oh dear."

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Word of the day

Most people who can't speak English can communicate pretty fluently in some other language. Maybe Sarah Palin's language difficulties aren't at all due to ineptitude or lack of education but rather that her home planet has its own English-like dialect, and to other aliens from that world, she sounds perfectly coherent. Clearly she tried to practice English extra hard for the debate but still spoke with a pretty heavy accent.

Maureen Dowd of the NY Times tries to analyze the dialect in this op-ed, "Sarah's Pompom Palaver." The problem I can see right away with this piece is that even a lot of people who aren't snowed by SP may not know what 'palaver' means, let alone the folks who think somebody's qualified potentially to lead the free world on the basis that she's cute as a bug's ear. [Palaver: (n) a. Idle chatter. b. Talk intended to charm or beguile. ]

Pretty good word for what comes out of her mouth, if a bit too polite and dignified. Here in down-home middle America we have another word or two for it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Most Likely to Succeed at Making You Smile

Ripley graduated from Puppy Toddler class tonight. Her mama is so proud. She has 'sit,' 'down,' and 'come' mastered, though she also appreciates the value of her free will and sometimes chooses not to respond. She was by far the best looking dog in the class too, which we all know counts for a lot in this world.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm gonna pop!

Remember that scene in the Matrix after Neo gets rescued from the human-powered electric plant, and he just can't process the difference between the real world and the land of computer make-believe, and he barfs and passes out?

I had a moment of feeling a little bit like that when I read this on the McCain website:
The pro-life movement has done tremendous work in building and reinforcing the infrastructure of civil society by strengthening faith-based, community, and neighborhood organizations that provide critical services to pregnant mothers in need.
Is he talking about civil society in the United States? A quarter or more of children in rural and inner-city communities are living below the poverty level. A QUARTER. 23 - 25%. In Mississippi (ironically, the home base of the dear ol' American Family Association), it's 35%. Maybe the pro-life movement just hasn't gotten around reinforcing the infrastructure of civil society in Mississippi. Or maybe I have a different understanding of the word "tremendous." Or maybe the "life" in pro-life means something a lot more specific than what it sounds like.

Or maybe McCain - Palin are agents of the Machines, and Obama is the One. McCain = Machines, Obama = One. Coincidence?

Oh, I'm sure all the well-schooled evangelicals will recall that Bible story about McCain and Abel, how he flew off the handle in a fit of jealousy and killed his brother, and then lied about it when asked what happened. Oh...I said McCain when I meant Cain. I'm sorry. John McCain flies off the handle, but as far as I know he's never killed any relatives, just yelled and called them nasty names. No real harm in that.

No on Prop 8 TV Ad Airing Today

You can help it stay on the air by using the ActBlue thermometer link to make a donation, or clicking here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe...

McDonalds has really, really pissed off these folks in Mississippi because now the company is, as I understand this report, actively trying to turn all its employees gay(!!) and pays them to get sex change operations. Because all that sort of thing goes together, like parts of an Extra Value Meal.

Read it straight from the horse's... whatever:

A document shows McDonald's requested a 10% "group discount" to a recent pro-homosexual training seminar. Eligibility to receive the discount required "groups of 15 or more registrants for the full price 3-day (Out & Equal 2008 Workplace) Summit."

McDonald’s applied for the special "discount code" off the regular registration price of $775 per person. The registration price did not include the employee's air travel, hotel and meal expenses.

The conference, held in Austin, TX, was designed to train employees how to effectively advance homosexuality in the workplace and to persuade top corporate officials to embrace the lifestyle by offering special recognition and benefits to gay employees.

For example, McDonald's health benefits package includes full coverage for sex-change procedures, post-operative recovery, and mental health counseling throughout the process.

Wow! Special recognition and gay benefits. If only I'd known way back when I made different career choices. All the health food stores and the organic produce distributor I worked for didn't have special benefits, even though I worked for a number of top corporate officials who had obviously embraced the lifestyle. I feel like I was cheated.

the casserole gene

This time last year I was pretty laid up with my knee in a big brace, but enjoying the luxury of a hotel and my mom's TLC which in some ways makes it a rather pleasant memory (being on drugs helped too). After my mom had to go home and I was at least able to get up the stairs to my condo, H stayed for a couple days and between the two of them I had food for the next two months.

I'm seeing how good I really had it. My roommate had knee surgery today on his torn medial and lateral meniscii. Lucky for him they didn't have to take a piece of him from somewhere else to fix his knee, so hopefully the recovery will be easier, and he doesn't have to wear a brace. His pain pills aren't as strong as mine were (though it would be interesting to see a study on who gets prescribed what doses in what circumstances). He might not be doing so well in the morning. At any rate he's basically trapped here because he won't be able to get down the stairs, having just managed to climb up with his girlfriend and me spotting him. His mom doesn't seem to be available. [I had very strong pain pills AND my mom. I was so lucky!] For various reasons, staying at his girlfriend's house was not an option for him, so there he is on the couch with his knee all wrapped up. The least I could do was cook something.

I didn't actually bake a casserole. But I made a good pasta dinner with a jar of tomatoes my mom canned last year (the last one, I think), veggies, frozen meatballs and salad. It was one of the more balanced dinners I've managed to cook for myself recently too, and it made me feel lucky all over again.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Universe According to Sarah Palin

Did you know that in her free time, when not on the campaign trail or being a loving mom to her five children, Sarah Palin enjoys clubbing baby seals and shooting wolves from low-flying aircraft? With a high-caliber rifle she learned to use in the family's stay at a right-wing militia retreat. She said a lot of compelling things in her convention speech and later condensed versions of it, so it's easy to forget the part where she informed the crowd that the earth is actually flat and located at the center of the galaxy, and the sun moves around it as is obvious to anybody who watches the sky, and was met with cheers and chants of "Flat! Flat! Flat!"

It's such a relief to make up whatever stories you like about other people and yourself and without concern for accuracy. I'm learning from Sarah Palin already, that if a fact doesn't serve your purpose, out with it! Make a new one. Either that, or just stick with the script they give you even if it means you will have to utter boldfaced lies. I hope her kids have picked up on these principles too, as they need to soak up as much of their mother's wisdom as they can during the brief periods that she'll actually be seeing them.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Another Big Gay Mac Attack

I'm continuing to find my American Family Association action alerts a source of considerable entertainment. The last one included a statement from Brian Unger, McDonald's Senior VP of something or other, excerpted and bolded in such a way as to imply that McDonald's is trying to make more people gay:

In January, McDonald’s paid for travel and accommodations for 56 employees to attend the “Pioneer Summit” in San Diego. The purpose of the meeting was to develop a plan to promote the gay agenda within the company. Those attending were thrilled that McDonald’s showed such support for their agenda.
“It was truly inspiring to see McDonald’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender members come together to share heartfelt, personal stories about their journeys, challenges and personal reflections. Better understanding these journeys … will help us better grow our people in the restaurants and across the company,” said Brian Unger, senior vice president.

AFA has asked McDonald’s to remain neutral in the culture battle – to neither oppose nor support the gay agenda. McDonald’s has refused, choosing to support those groups and individuals promoting the gay agenda — including homosexual marriage. A McDonald’s official (Bill Whitman) went so far as to say that those who oppose the gay agenda are motivated by hate.

(Exactly as it appeared on the AFA website except for the lavender text color that I added for contrast.) I can see how upsetting this all is...to be accused of hatred. What exactly does it mean to be hateful? (I could go on a tangent about the burgeoning use of the word 'hater,' as in 'don't be a hater,' and how it's almost but not quite up there with the expression 'my bad' on my list of trendy expressions that I hate. Or, I mean, I'm just standing up for my belief in traditional English and I'm fearful of its deterioration.)

Monday, September 01, 2008

vanity press

I gave up on the online karaoke sometime back because I couldn't get the vocals to synch up with the music. This is way more fun.

"Save Me a Saturday Night" (Neil Diamond)

"My Friends" (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Del Martin: May 5, 1921- August 27, 2008

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon fell in love and got married as soon as possible, 55 years later.

I think that's a marriage worth saving, don't you? The State can't do anything to hold back time, nor can it promise anything beyond time, but I believe Del and Phyllis will be seeing each other. They didn't need no piece of paper from the city hall keepin' them tied and true, but they devoted most of their lives to the right to have it, and they won!

See Del's obituary at Equality California here

The needle and the damage done

There is an I.V. bag hanging in the kitchen from the pots & pans rack. Next to the knives. Something is wrong with this picture, or at least it's got a certain chamber-of-horrors quality that I don't prefer as decor most days of the year. Medical equipment and cooking utensils are just not supposed to mix. I've probably seen Silence of the Lambs a few too many times but I think I'd feel the same way even if I hadn't.

The attempt to administer Kato's subcutaneous fluids by myself this morning was not successful (at least if one measures success by whether he actually received any fluids subcutaneously). It seemed much easier at the vet's office yesterday with the tech holding him down and telling me what to do. This morning I did actually get the needle into him, but he immediately jumped down from, the, er, butcher block table, which I had covered with a towel, knocking over a glass of iced coffee on the counter (it broke) in the process. I'd put the dog in her playpen just before this and she was barking like crazy and trying to escape, perhaps worried that she'd be on the block next, but actually she just really needed to poop. As she demonstrated on the carpet as soon as I let her out.

But I was able to get Kato to take a good long drink from his water bowl afterwards, and I had another glass and enough iced coffee still in the carafe to fill it, and I picked up the poop, and here we are. It happens.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some say love it is a river that drowns the tender reed

Kato is back in the hospital. On his second night but sounds like he'll be ready to come home tomorrow. Monday morning I saw that he had another blockage and was pretty uncomfortable so back to the vet we go for the same damn thing over again. "Do you have a buy one / get one half off deal?" I said. Ha haha, said the vet, thinking I'd made a joke.

He needed some meds from the compounding pharmacy so for convenience (lest they add some delivery fee to my bill) I picked them up when they were ready and took them to the vet's office. They thought it would be good for me to visit Kato, or good for Kato, rather, and hoped I'd be able to get him to eat something. He's not real keen on the prescription food he'll now have to eat for months and months. He looked awful...his face seemed too thin and he had an IV in his front leg, and his fur gets all flaky and dull when he goes to the vet. Stress shedding. We had some good petting, holding and cuddling though. He was purring and growling at the same time. Not feeling his best. He ate a few bites of the yucky prescription food for me, but not much. Then I left and cried in my car for a minute.

Later the vet called to say that since my visit, he'd chowed down on the dry food and he'd been peeing on his own, quite enthusiastically and voluminously, all over one of the vet techs and on various other animate and inanimate surfaces. I don't know if she said this because it sounded like such a nice story to tell a worried and sad kitty owner, or because it was exactly truly what happened. Who am I to question the power of a loving touch and familiar voice and smell when you've been in a scary place for awhile. Some say love, it is a Big Gulp, or a waterfall, or a running faucet...

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm lovin' it

Can't help myself. These comments raise another concern I have for the well-being of children of the right-wing zealots: their parents' and grandparents' spelling and grammar tends to be atrocious to the point of comedy.

Not only that, but some of these 'Christian' soldiers couldn't resist the opportunity to complain that not only is McDonald's morally bankrupt, but too many McDonald's employees speak Spanish. The AFA has a bigotry package deal you get when you sign up, I think.
  • "McDonald I am a regular customer in your store but I will not be eating in your store any more because of your open support of gay. I am a christianand God says they are an Abolition and God will deal with them. joyce"
  • "I will definitely boycott. Me and my family, including kids, grandkids, cousins, and parents have received message and agree on boycotting. If I figure right based on just my family alone, will keep about $1300 a year from these idiots. Others that follow should equate to less business."
  • "Yesturday,I purposedly avoided going to McDonalds for dinner. They can count me out as a customer from now on."
  • "I have no problem with you hiring, serving, etc of gays...I have a problem with your prejudice against those of us who are not gay. You should be equal. Do you put funds into the promotion of "normal" sexual relationships????"
  • "I and my family will be buyers at burger king.. You need to change your gay position.."
  • "I will no longer take any of my grand children nor my self to any Mc Donald's restaurant--I also intend to tell others about this decision of mine--I know you also sponser Planned Parent hood--which most of the finincial support they get are uded for abortions"
  • "I won't support you with your gay agenda or hiring illegals."
  • "No more cold limp fries, not so clean resturant and Spanish speaking non- English employees for us. So dad to see our America down the toilet. Married 38 years to a man and have a wonderful MARRIAGE and yes we are BREEDERS, isn't that what the queers call us traditionals that are a family. Funny how they want to adopt a breeders child. Poor choice McDonalds."
[Ed. note: Please please do not confuse this woman with that awesome alt-rock band The Breeders, fronted by the incomparable iron-throated bass-playing crusty rock goddess Kim Deal, whose child (if she were to put one up for grabs) I'd gladly adopt provided it was an open adoption. Don't really see how that's funny, though.]

I'm hungry.

We deserve a break today

Apparently part of the dread homosexual agenda now includes reduction / prevention of childhood obesity among the innocent offspring of right-wing zealots. The American Family Association has called for a boycott of McDonald's because of the corporation's sponsorship of San Francisco Pride and its efforts to stop workplace discrimination against LGBT people.

I confess to a lifelong weakness for McDonald's breakfast when I'm on the road, a weakness that has persisted even after watching "Supersize Me." And when I lived in France for a summer, some 17 years ago, I do declare there were times when I was so lonesome I sought some comfort "chez McDo." If only the Arches were the worst symbol of American power and influence throughout the world...I guess I'm just a little confused about how to feel about the right-wing boycott. It won't cause the Almighty Arches an ounce of grief. They have bigger fish to fry in transfat-free oil. Based on some of the comments I read on the AFA's website, it sounds like the Faithful are marching their children straight to Wendy's anyway, lest they miss this opportunity to develop better eating habits.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dog is in her heaven and all is right

Or, "Chilly Dog."

The A/C registers are Ripley's favorite places. She likes to cram herself into this spot in my office, or just lie down on top of the registers in the floor downstairs. As if there were a sign over each one that said Dog Parking.

Almost Heaven...for Pharmacists

When a tag for this article came up in my Gmail, I couldn't resist clicking to see if Utah was in the top ten. It is not. With the odd exception of Iowa, the top 10 is completely dominated by the Southeast. The article links high rates of medication with high rates of obesity, diabetes, and / or tobacco usage. Not mentioned in the article, as I recall, was the fact that obesity and its accompanying health problems are linked to poverty, and poverty correlates with race. So no surprise that most of the poorest states in the country, with the highest percentages of African-Americans, are among the most medicated. Which comes back to the fact that it is very expensive both to be poor and to blithely allow poverty to persist. But maybe it's a price we're willing to pay in order to carry on with our biases.

California is in the bottom ten. You don't need a prescription for the Napa Valley (though technically you might need one for other medications grown in Northern CA).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I want to be 41.

41 like Dara Torres. Though by the Summer Olympics XXX in London I'll be just a few weeks shy of 39. Practically a baby. Then after I'm 41, I want to be 63 like Helen Mirren. (In a general sense. My proportions are more like a tree trunk, and I'm not really the bikini-wearing type.)

Then, I'd like to be 70+ like Margaret Bomberg, who you've probably never heard of because she's an attorney / triathlete here in town who, though I'm pretty sure I can outrun her (or can when my running is up to speed), swims circles around me and actually shows up for that 5:30 a.m. spinning class I haven't attended in four or five months. (I haven't been there to check but I just know she's there, on the mornings that she's not swimming or traveling to the world triathlon championships and so forth.) I wish I had a photo. She looks a bit like a 70+ year old version of Dara Torres (which means that she looks more like she's 60-something) except that Margaret's hair is shorter (as is Margaret herself) and she wears business attire to work.

It's a good time for strong grown-up women, recognizing that most of the many ways one can be strong and healthy do not involve having six-pack abs. But it's nice that some people can dedicate enough time to the project to remind us that we have all those muscles, somewhere.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


I wish this could be caught on video. I think Ripley has an inherent agility course-running proclivity. At least once a day, sometime in the morning, she does laps as if she's competing in the 400m. But she is not content to run around and around in a plain old boring oval. At work she does top-speed loops of the enclosed back yard that include detours under the picnic table and through the porch posts and around the trees. In my office (a much smaller area) she goes just as fast around my desk chair, behind the desk, and around the room. This morning at home (while I was watching footage of the opening ceremonies, no less) she invented a course that went around the coffee table, behind the futon, through the kitchen, and back into the living room. She repeats the same course for almost every lap. Tomorrow morning I'll try to count how many laps she does and report back.

Now that she's worn herself out maybe I should go for a run myself.

Friday, August 08, 2008

"It [is still] a pleasure to burn."

I am rediscovering an old favorite. I first read Fahrenheit 451 when I was 10 or 11 and again several times throughout my teens. I had a crush on Ray Bradbury when I was 15, give or take, (he was only 65 or so at the time) and wrote him a lovely warm letter to which he personally responded, saying "Dear Emily: Thank you for your lovely warm letter..."

Irony notwithstanding, I got the unabridged audio version of Fahrenheit at the library recently. Read by the author. I imagine it was produced several years ago and though his diction isn't always completely crisp (I just finished listening to The Picture of Dorian Gray which, as you might imagine, was especially crispy) his rather jolly-sounding voice somehow fits the bleak, chilling (but hopeful) story. I also wonder what it was about the book, and about me, that made me take to it as I did. A penchant for the bleak and chilling? In high school I read Camus' L'├ętranger several times, too. I snuck home from church when I was a mere tot to watch "Alien" and could probably recite most of Bela Lugosi's lines from "Dracula," in a Transylvanian accent, around that time. Religiously entered a place without time or dimension in nightly reruns of the original Twilight Zone and / or The Outer Limits on the little tv I had in my room from the time I was 8 until I was almost 17. In more recent years (and last Monday, in fact), of course there's "X-Files," though I admit that the casting of the show had as much to do with my appreciation of it as did the storylines.

I don't think it's just that penchant, though. Fahrenheit seems scarier and closer to social reality than ever. Flat screen TVs filling up the whole wall, ear bud communicators, random shootings, shutting down all the meaningful parts of public education, shutting down critical thought, social alienation...it's all there as if it came to him in a vision, which it probably did.

Somehow by 10 or 11 the I felt that the status quo was already highly suspect, and I knew it without really grasping what it meant to have Ronald Reagan in office. Fahrenheit stirred up my sense of righteous dissent and made me think that at least a little bit of the world could be saved by committing to memory passages of great literature and scripture (which I have often felt are essentially the same, but that's a subject for another post sometime). My English teachers and professors were subsequently warriors raging against the dying of the light of independent thinking and metaphor and all forms of linguistic art. I knew they would all be locked up when the thought police took over and I hoped I'd get to go with them.

Mr. Bradbury, thanks, for Fahrenheit and Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dandelion Wine and The Martian Chronicles and so many other wonderfully weird and human stories. I will always, always love you. Even if I am taken away for having too many books, or for any other reason. And happy 86th birthday on the 22nd.

Dentist's advice

My tooth still hurts (though not like it did on Wednesday), and it seems very loose. I tracked down the emergency dentist-on-call number for my dentist's office, and lo and behold, my dentist was the emergency dentist-on-call:

Me: My molar with the crown on it has been really sore, and it's loose! I can wiggle it!

Dr. Yu: Stop wiggling it! Take (ibuprofen) and don't chew on that side. I'll be back next Wednesday.

Me: I have an appointment for Thursday. Actually I've been taking vicodin and ibuprofen and I can't bite down on it. But I'll stop wiggling.

So at least there was some therapeutic benefit to the call. She took x-rays only a month ago and nothing was wrong then, so she thinks the tooth has just been pushed around too much by the night guard (which I've ceased wearing). But if I keep up the wiggling I'm sure I'll have the darn thing out in another day or so. It's a gold crown...hmmm...the dentists don't work on Saturday but I'll bet the pawnshops are open.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Since we're on the topic

of health and run-ins with vets and doctors and dodgy dentists, I can announce that my blood pressure is 102 / 70. Not too bad. I wonder what it was when I was training for the NCAC ride. I need a new Event. Or something.

Kato update

I just talked to the vet and she says K is doing fine, though not especially happy about his urethral catheter and Elizabethan collar. He had a pretty big blockage but she said it looked like I'd caught it almost immediately after it happened...his kidney levels and so forth were still normal. Phew. I'm glad Kato waited until I got back from my vacation to have a health emergency. While my roommate is a CNA, I wouldn't expect him to monitor the kitty quite that attentively unless I let him know ahead of time that he needed to watch for something.

What's next?

(Kato, relaxed and making air biscuits, a few months ago)
I don't know if I want to know what's next, actually. My tooth is much better today after a night of no mouthgard...amazing that it could be so painful and then almost fine (I can almost chew on it again!). Whatever I would have spent on the extra dental visit will now go toward Kato's vet bill though. Last night he was sitting forever in his litter box without 'results' of any kind, and he kept getting back in again, still without success. He's never had this problem before but I know cats (especially boys) are prone to this trouble, what with their little ductworks being so little, and that it is very serious. So this morning everyone was packed in his / her respective carrier and taken to the vet. Ripley had her 14-week checkup and next round of booster shots and was pronounced healthy; Kato's bladder was the size of an orange, the vet said, and he'll be staying at the vet overnight for maybe two nights (though I'm hoping he doesn't have to stay two...it's not exactly a cheap motel). He has to be anesthetized for the, er, procedure that will unblock him. Vet said I caught it early. He wasn't showing any other symptoms of illness--no fever, no vomiting--just obviously uncomfortable.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Owwww charlie

I wish Rite Aid carried these. I think they'd work a bit better than what I'm using and the ad suggests that even little children like them. I'm having some kind of dental adventure mystery that won't begin to be solved until tomorrow at 1:45. I haven't experienced this level of pain since the morning after my knee surgery. Though I seem to be still able to blog about it and think of things to which it compares (Dustin Hoffman vs. Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man" comes to mind) so it can't be all that bad. The toothache drops must be kickin' in.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

More than the sum of our chromosomes

My first thought as I read this NY Times op-ed, "The XY Games" was resentment for the sexism behind the requirement that female athletes have to prove they are sufficiently female. As the author of the article points out, merely testing for the presence of a Y chromosome is inconclusive. It seems like the difficulty and scandal in screening out all the performance enhancing drugs and blood doping makes trying to figure out for sure who's genetically male or female not so relevant. The Greeks had an Olympic gender test too lest any girls try to sneak in. Change is a long time coming. If an athlete who knows inside he's male wants the gold so bad that he's willing to sacrifice his male privilege on the altar, goddess bless him.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bill Got a Laptop

and sent this post. I don't know if he typed it, which would have been quite arduous, or dictated, which also would have been arduous, but it was a good read, and I've pasted in part of it here (I added the links):

A message from the other side of brain surgery

On July 17,2008, my neurosurgeon, Dr. Muizelaar, removed an aggressive meningioma tumor from my brain. The operation was successful and removed a mass the size of a mandarin orange, according to the Doctor! Now there will be a recovery period where I will have to relearn basic functions like sitting, standing, walking, and speaking in complete sentences. I feel great support from you all, through your thoughts, prayers, and postings on CarePages.

From the ragged ruins of my swollen brain, this passage from the poem “Ullyses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson beckons. It brings comfort as evidence of a memory at least partially intact and as a reminder of the brave work of my friends and colleagues who struggle every day to make this world just a little kinder.

Come my friends.
Tis not too late to seek a newer world!
…Though much has been taken,
Much abides.
And though we are not that strength
That in younger years moved earth and heaven,
That which we are, we are.
One equal temper of heroic heart,
Made weak by time and fate,
But strong in will.
To seek, to find, to seize,
And never to yield.

My Condition

Due to general right side paralysis linked to post operative swelling of the brain, my function is quite limited. I cannot stand, walk, or manipulate the wheelchair without assistance. I cannot speak in complete sentences, though I can conceive what I want to say. The most profound symptom I am faced with is fatigue. 20 minutes of any type of activity leaves me fully spent requiring sustained rest. This will improve as the swelling goes down.

I am in good spirits feeling loved and supported by all. It seems fortuitous that most of the irritation of the brain was in the left hemisphere, the general source of our individuality and ego. As a consequence, I spend a lot of time in that blissful region of the brain where all is “one”. I get weepy at times when I feel the connections with so many who share their own stories and support at this time. We really do have more in common with each other as a species, as a community and as friends than we have dared to admit. I like this side of the brain. It joins, as one, the spiritual presence of my friends and colleagues without regard to generations, decades, or specific relationships. It sustains non-specific bliss and support from all, and in combinations never before thought of....

It sounds like his experience is similar in some respects to that of the neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor who wrote a book about how her stroke & subsequent recovery lit up her right hemisphere in such a way as to change her whole view and approach to life.

Interestingly there is a passage from "Ulysses" that frequently pops into my thoughts as well, and has done so for years and years since high school so that it's like a kind of mantra:

"I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move."

I think especially the line "I am a part of all that I have met" is the one that has always resonated.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Zen and the science of fuel economy

Been hearing all about the benefits of driving 60 mph for some time now, and just (coincidentally) spent about $60 filling my tank, so decided to try it on the way down to this training in Los Gatos. My truck doesn't have cruise control so it requires me to pay attention. Sometimes it felt like I was moving backwards but mostly I noticed how much calmer I felt. I got behind a Prius driving 55 at one point, and thought about driving alongside it but people are probably already disturbed enough by anyone driving below the speed limit that it would be counterproductive to aggravate them by slowing down two out of the four lanes on that stretch of the 680.

I'm going to try to do it for the whole tank (which means at least until Sunday) to see what the difference is. I think I got about 25 - 26 MPG on the last tank. They said on NPR this morning that for every mile per hour you drive over 60 mph, you add about $0.30 a gallon to the price of your gas.

It seems like a form of protest against the car culture. Or at least a refusal to keep buying into the mindset that you have to get everywhere as fast as you possibly can. I've driven the hurried way for a long time and paradoxically I'm almost always late for everything. Today I drove 'slowly' and reached my destination an hour early. Maybe the gas price thing...maybe other, um, factors...enabled me to break through my resistance to the idea of not driving 70 mph everywhere I go. I drive a lot, so if I can practice mindfulness while driving, that's a lot of practice.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

She can swim, too!

Now this would have been something to catch on video (or even a still photo), but the first time it happened it was unexpected. I knew that Ripley likes to wet her paws. When she's hot (which is often), she prefers to wear her water rather than drink it. I was curious to see how she would react to Heather's koi pond. However, I wasn't expecting her to jump in and swim across. The first time she did it, I don't think she expected it either...it gets deep pretty suddenly when you're only 8" tall. I was momentarily terrified, ready to wade in and fish her out, but she kept her head up and made it to the other side just fine. The next day she was a bit more cautious but eager to try it again.

I'll have to get her one of those little doggie life jackets. I don't think they make water wings short enough.

Kinda seems like my dog is getting all the exercise lately, doesn't it? If she could learn to ride a bike she'd be ready for a triathlon. Heather is coaching a women's cycling group...maybe Ripley could sign up. Or maybe her mama just needs to get her that trailer and hit the road. Ripley could be like R2-D2...when I get tired riding uphill, I could say, "Ripley, try to increase the power..."

Update on Bill

No wonder he can remember all the lines. He's obviously a member of the troupe [as I have long suspected].

Bill's out of the ICU and into a regular hospital room. A colleague from our Executive Office in Sacramento posted this yesterday:

...[It] was wonderful to see how alert, aware and fully cognitive Bill is at this point. (And it is only getting better, as they dial down the pain meds.) As I walked up to the side of his bed, Bill began to quote back to me a poem excerpt I had shared with him several years back, from Lord Tennyson's Ulysses, "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." [...] I just hung out with Bill and, as I read the newspaper, he asked about the latest news and we talked politics. It was pretty much just like hanging out with him in his office (sans his usual sartorial splendor) and parsing and flaying the latest political headlines. Allowing for the predictable effects of his being tired from the surgery and a bit dazed from the meds and all, Bill was totally all over the topic at hand.

The guy's unstoppable. We're talking 100% Bill, here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


She chases the ball enthusiastically and usually brings it back, but doesn't like to surrender it. H's kitty is not very impressed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My friend Bill

Bill is one of my heroes and a great mentor. It's probably all his fault that I got a Legal Services job right out of law school (and if you're wondering what I mean by that, I'll just say that the feelings of gratitude far outweigh any feelings of blame). He has been doing this work for thirty-something years and still always seems full of compassion and enthusiasm. He is a creative and extensive thinker. Known for going off on tangents and having a rather messy office. Known for his ability to quote entire Monty Python skits. Sometime last year he was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumor. I think he was having horrible headaches and perhaps other problems, but he works in our main offices 90 miles away and I don't have a good sense of how he has been affected day to day. When I've seen him in the last several months I wouldn't have been able to tell anything was wrong. He's the one who made it possible for me and a co-worker to go to a conference in New Orleans last March, where he was presenting at one of the sessions, and he went out on the town with us and treated everybody (who dared) to a round of Absinthe in the French Quarter.

He's having surgery to remove the tumor tomorrow. Apparently it's quite deep in there and nobody knows to what extent his functioning will be impaired when he wakes up, or for how long. He says he's in great spirits because friends and family and colleagues have been showering him with love and appreciation. This is a very scary thing. I can't imagine how his wife and son must be feeling. His last pre-surgery post today reminded me of a famous line from Moby Dick that I know he'd appreciate: "I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing"--Stubb.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Night of the living kitteh...

or maybe "28 Kittehs Later."

more cat pictures

Zombies, kittens...there's a whole untapped subgenre here.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Dogs love trucks

I picked Ripley up on Monday afternoon and Tuesday we headed back out to the coast. The trip was a bit more of an endurance event than we expected. Along Highway 20, about 20 miles from the first town near the lake (Clearlake Oaks), I thought I should pull off at a vista point to let Ripley have a potty break. In the process of removing her from her carrier and attaching her leash, I dropped my keys in the front seat and locked us out. (Both of us, thank goodness.)

My cell phone was locked in the truck but there was no service in that area anyway. Unlike Blanche Dubois I have not always relied on the kindness of strangers, though sometimes there are no alternatives. We stood by the entrance of the vista point and tried to flag somebody down, and after not too much time two men in a white crew-cab Dodge pickup stopped. Due to their very clean and well-groomed appearance as well as the immaculateness of their truck I thought at first they might be a couple, but then the one not driving showed me a cellphone photo of his wife and kids (as if to resolve any unspoken suspicions).

At any rate, they were very kind, driving us all the way into Clearlake Oaks before we had any cell service, letting me borrow a cellphone to call roadside assistance, giving Ripley water (it was pretty hot outside), and then driving us back to the intersection of highways 53 and 20 so that the tow truck could pick us up on the way back to my truck without racking up extra miles that my roadside assistance wouldn't cover. The driver told me I didn't look like a typical hitchhiker, and he thought maybe I was giving away puppies there at the roadside. He was ready to gun it and drive on by, but his buddy said, "She's in trouble," so he stopped. I thanked them as profusely as I could.

The ordeal added at least three hours to our trip (and added a good chunk of time to our rescuers' trip, too). Ripley was so well-behaved and mellow I started to worry that something was wrong with her. She just seems to go into energy- saver mode in the car and slept nearly the whole time.

She perked up when we arrived. In the last two days we've worked on 'Sit' and 'Come' and she already has those down pretty well. She had her first view / taste / feel of the ocean yesterday. And passed out when we got back to the house.

[She's in the back of the truck here for photo-op purposes only.]

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

His legs may run in the Olympics

[Note: Puppy update and photos from our first couple days are forthcoming.]

Just found this story in the NY Times about Van Phillips, who lives in Mendocino, and who invented a prosthetic leg for elite runners and athletes while he was working at the Center for Biomedical Design at the U. of Utah. South African double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius will attempt to qualify for the 400m sprint wearing two of Phillips' "Cheetah Foot" prosthetics after some controversy about whether the carbon graphite legs / feet would give Pistorius an unfair advantage over sprinters who are stuck with regular feet and legs. Huh.

Perhaps the I.A.A.F. was afraid that allowing Pistorius to participate would release a flood of double-amputee super athletes who would dominate the track with their springy, energy-efficient appendages. This man was born missing bones in his lower legs, so the fact that at some point, probably quite early in life, he decided he wanted to be a great runner kinda makes you rethink your sense of your own limitations, doesn't it? And Phillips' invention makes it possible. Sometimes it's a pretty neat thing to be human.

Friday, June 27, 2008

In with the bad air. Don't know if photo worked but can't capture how bad the smoke has been. Glad I'm escaping for awhile.

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18% of Americans...

...believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a poll cited in this NY Times op-ed on the brain science behind people's false beliefs (and particularly the implications for political campaigns, i.e. why people would continue to believe that Obama is Muslim despite all statements that have been made to the contrary). It has bigger implications though--actually it explains a lot of prejudice and irrational thought. For example, people keep writing letters to the editor of the local paper stating that (one of the reasons) same-sex marriage is an abomination is that gay couples can't produce children. When in reality, gays and lesbians obviously produce / acquire children by all sorts of means, sometimes even the old-fashioned accidental method, sometimes during a failed attempt at heterosexual marriage, sometimes with help from a donor, and of course by adoption in the states where they believe children should have as many chances for loving, devoted parent(s) as possible. And some people, gay or straight, choose not to have children of their own at all, but can make the world's most fabulous uncles and aunts, or can devote their energy to nurturing the world in many other ways that people with kids don't have time and resources for.

All of this information seems to have been sucked into a black hole for some people. I rode with a group of NorCal AIDS Challenge cyclists (most of whom were straight) in the Sacramento LGBT Pride parade last week, and protesters were out with signs about all the stuff God hates. We couldn't help but notice that these 'religious' people were completely fixated on one particular act as if it summed up the whole of gay male (and apparently their own) existence. And one of my favorite signs was "Hatred of Parents Causes Homosexuality." Sad, to think of all those little gay parent-hating babies.

One has to wonder sometimes what planet people are living on. But according to this article, we tend to remember information that fits our existing mental framework and forget what doesn't fit. So it probably wouldn't work to make somebody who watches FOX News all the time just listen to NPR for several hours (though I don't think that would hurt). False beliefs are difficult to undo. In order to correct them, the "truth" (i.e. Obama is a Christian, for example) has to be presented with some kind of affirmative little emotional attention-grabber, something that puts a new picture in the listener's mind. Merely contradicting the falsity can actually reinforce it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Equal opportunity blog

I'd be remiss in not giving Kato some press. He's threatening to start his own blog if all I do is go on and on about the puppy. This is his current favorite toy. He leaps into the air and does...I'm sure there's some kind of skateboading or gymnastic term for it...but he twists and turns mid-air and lands facing the opposite way. All for the thrill of catching this blue feather. Then when he's got it, he walks off with it (and with me) to some undisclosed location, sometimes his food dish, where he lets go, and then it starts all over again.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's a dog!

Ripley at seven weeks.
Not a gerbil or a guinea pig at all. Though if she had wings she might be mistaken for a fruit bat.

I stopped by to visit her last night, prepared with some treats to buy her attention. That was a good strategy, since otherwise she'd have completely ignored me in favor of some spilled dog food near Charlene's porch. Priorities. Understanding that she doesn't know me yet and had no reason to respond when I tried to get her attention with noise, I also have a feeling she might be one of those puppies with selective hearing. We are somewhat alike in that respect.

Less than two weeks to go.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Possibly in poor taste, considering recent events, but it's true...

Smoke does get in your eyes. I've discovered online karaoke. This is more or less how the new lead singer for Boston was discovered, so I'm hoping Richard Carpenter or the Platters (do they need a singer?) will call me one of these days.
Rate this performance at The Sims On Stage

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I guess I won't ride my bike in the hills today...

And probably not this weekend, either. Not that I had plans to, but the whole place is closed down because of a 8000-acre fire burning just (barely) southeast of Chico and up into the town of Paradise. The article I just linked is updated frequently and the last update looks bad.

I first saw it on the way home from my appointments in Oroville yesterday, when it was still much smaller. Some friends of mine just recently moved out of their house on the outskirts of Paradise (yes, yes, the town lends itself to endless jokes...I can't drive there without having a litany of song lyrics play in my head, 'I've got two tickets to paradise;' 'I've been to paradise but I've never been to me;' 'awfully nice, it's paradise;' 'paradise by the dashboard light'...) to a house in Chico, and they have been preparing to put their old house on the market. The house is now in an evacuated area.

I took this photo by pointing my cellphone out the side window on the way home yesterday. I'm grateful to be upwind, not so much because the fire danger but all the smoke. Most of the burned area so far is open grassland but I read that four homes have burned (the linked map shows the location). And wind is known to change directions now and then.

If you're looking at the map, I live more or less in downtown Chico. However, one of the attorneys in our office has a lovely home in Butte Creek Canyon, which has also been evacuated, and the fire looks awfully close.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Oww charlie

My half-hour jog yesterday used some muscles that apparently haven't been used for awhile. I think I'd better go sit in the spa that my homeowner association dues are paying to keep warm.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Happy A-Knee-Versary to me

Last year on June 2, my brief and statistically unremarkable pro football career came to a sudden, expensive end. This evening, I went running in the park for a full half hour. The most running I've done in a year, and the only running I've done in months. I was happy to find that, while it kind of hurt, it was manageable, and the good feeling of running outweighed the joint discomfort.

Over the weekend I was talking to Renee, a Rage teammate who, at the age of 42, is essentially the Jerome "The Bus" Bettis of our team and scored our touchdown in the game against Portland last Saturday (after a great pass play set it up). She is doing all this with a knee brace and a torn ACL. Obviously she loves playing football way, way more than I did, and accordingly she's way, way better at it. But she made me think that my self-pitying avoidance of all running has gone on quite long enough. I don't need to start training for another marathon. But I've missed the feeling of my feet moving over the ground, of running on a path through the trees. That whole primal thing. Good to have it back.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

they be stealin'

This morning I had a small, so I thought, unopened container of raspberry yogurt I got from the hotel continental breakfast. I put it in my plastic ziploc bag full of the small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, etc. for airport security. But they really stuck to their guns (or whatever compliance-promoting / protective devices they have) about the 3.4 ounces rule. The lady said, "Oh...I'll have to take your yogurt. It's more than 3.4 ounces. Would you like to go back so you can eat it?" (I thought, I know you're doing the right thing by offering me that choice, and it's clever psychologically as well as less illegal to offer a silly choice that preserves someone's illusion of personal property rights, than to confiscate pocketknife keyrings and baby bottles and yogurt out of hand, but NO, I WOULD NOT rather take off my shoes and empty out my pockets and unpack my laptop and remember not to put it in the same bin as the case, after adequately stowing those items again so I can leave the security area, just so I can eat this 4 ounces of yogurt.) I said, "I can't eat it right now?" (in the presence of these witnesses and all here assembled) and she said "No, afraid not." I had a spoon and everything, I could have stood aside and gobbled it right up in probably less than thirty seconds.

I wonder what would have happened if I'd said, 'Okay, I'll go back,' but then, upon accepting the container of yogurt, I'd suddenly peeled back the top and started eating it right there by the x-ray conveyor belt. Would I have been detained, or cited, or forbidden to board a plane? Or perhaps I'd never have had that option because she would have walked the yogurt outside the security area before returning it to me, as there is protocol for this kind of thing, these scenarios with yogurt.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's a girl!

Her name is Ripley, on account of the obvious resemblance:

Practically identical except for the M41 Pulse Rifle. And I suppose my Ripley is a little bit shorter than Sigourney Weaver.

I have 5 weeks, from yesterday, in which to restructure my very existence. She'll be just shy of 9 weeks when I bring her home.

Blog drafting

Not drafting in the literary sense, but in the cycling sense, where you don't have to work so hard because the person in front is making a nice hole in the wind. I'm going to draft here just like I do on the road, and encourage you all to have a look at this ongoing description of the NCAC ride if you haven't already. Avant-garde photography and a lively telling of it. Thanks for the pull, H.

Karla's day in the (sun?) (clouds?)

Hey. Karla here. We're not sure yet what my--persona--is, exactly. Except that my sentences probably are shorter. Just like Hemingway.

I wasn't too upset about not getting to go on that 4-day ride. The distance sounded fine. But only one hill worth mentioning in 330-something miles, and that means a lotta flat ground. Don't much care for it. Leave it to the prissy roadbikes.

On Sunday, though, the old lady and I went for a ride. She didn't know how far exactly she wanted to go, or where she really wanted to ride to. She should know better than to leave it up to me. She'd been looking at maps and saw that there was this backroad way to get to Chester from Chico (no, we didn't go all the way to Chester. This time.) She couldn't tell if it was paved or not. Which definitely rules out prissy roadbikes. The turnoff for this road was about 30 miles up Highway 32. She didn't know if she was up for riding that far up the mountain. Poor thing all worn out from riding around in pancake land for four days.

We knew for sure we'd get to Forest Ranch, elevation 2415', about 14 miles up the mountain (and this is one of those more gradual 'big rig' climbs, not a wall). There's a store there and when there's a little store in the middle of nowhere, you have to stop. Here I am.

Oh -- and Chico is at 195'. For reference.

So after the store, she felt alright, and thought she'd just keep riding. Seemed like a long way to that turnoff but she was too curious about it to stop. You'd think we were looking for the Northwest Passage.

Now I think of my saddle as comfortable. So I won't take too much blame for this, but she kept standing up, trying to adjust, not sitting so well. And she needed a snack anyway, so we pulled over. Looking back from where we came, we thought, well damn if we're not in the mountains.

The darker clouds seemed to be moving away from us. It rained a little, so she says. I say it misted. On this climb there were a few reprieves, stretches of some downhill, and she said she was cold. Cold?? Temperature never quite suits you, huh? You brought a jacket, put it on.

The odometer got up around 27 - 28 miles and she thought the turnoff was around 29, so we were just about there. And then we were.

The sign was in disrepair. Humboldt is the name of the road to Butte Meadows. A sorry broke-down stretch of Humboldt Road is right at the beginning of the ride, and then it merges with Highway 32 for the next 24 miles until it splits again. 30 more miles and it takes you to Lake Almanor, which is next door to Chester. The later stretch of Humboldt is nice and smooth, like somebody cares about it. This is because the first stretch parallels the highway (it was the original highway, maybe) and the only people who ride on it are cyclists and people who like to drive somewhere to drink their Bud by the 24-pack. That sounds a lot more dangerous than it is. The Bud drinkers are nocturnal, and no cyclist would be dumb enough to ride that road in the dark, unless...well, I could haul a 24-pack, but Bud is a waste of good water. Unless she wants to fall into a pothole as deep as a mineshaft, no cyclist would ride it in the dark.

We got this far, and it wasn't too late, so she thought she'd just keep going to Butte Meadows. Only another 4 - 5 miles. To her dismay and my amusement, that's when the REAL hill started. The first 30 miles were the warmup. But we put it in low and she started picking things to ride to--that tree up there, that pole, that bump in the road, and then another thing, and then another. Had to pull over once because she got too much salt in her eye and had to wipe it off. Some people in a Suburban pulled over and asked if everything was ok and she gave 'em Thumbs Up and said thanks.

Finally we got to the top of that hill, and it looked like the top of the world. From there it was actually downhill to Butte Meadows. Their sign was in better shape.

She was obviously pleased about the elevation thing. I said, honey, that's what I do. Though now that we'd arrived at Butte Meadows (notice there's elevation but no population on the sign...) it was a lot colder, and she was low on fuel. Rode along through "town" for a bit. Looks like it's bunch of vacation cabins and campgrounds. Surely, she thought, there's some place the campers go for provisions. And then we found it.
The "Bambi Inn." Hallelujah. A sign outside said "BIKER FRIENDLY" and we weren't sure if that was supposed to mean us or not, but we didn't care. Well, I take that back. She was a little self- conscious about her lycra shorts and bright neon yellow windbreaker. But as I pointed out, it's not like she was Sir Edmund Hillary on the top of Everest. In fact it seemed like people riding their bikes (bicycles) to the Bambi Inn was a non-event to the inn-habitants.

According to her report (I waited outside) she sat up to the bar and ordered grilled cheese, chips, and a Coke. She said it was the best velveeta sandwich she'd ever had.

The ride home took about half as long as the ride up. She got mad enough to give the finger to a jeep that blasted its airhorn when it came up behind her...at a place with plenty of shoulder and we were well off the road. She was mad until she remembered the people in the Suburban who had been kind and thoughtful. The jeep had grotesquely oversized tires. The driver was probably just excited because he would to stop at a gas station again very soon.

These little wildflowers were growing everywhere by the road up there. Pale, pale yellow. She thought maybe they're some kind of wild iris? No idea.

When we got back to Chico she turned the wrong way in the park, adding another two miles for a total of 71. Good ride. I think she'll feel it for a couple days.