"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.