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Monday, July 31, 2006

Road blogging on the struggle of good and evil

Road blogging makes me feel a little free. The blog exists and waits for me like a patient and loyal puppy. Way more patient and loyal than my actual dog. Or the Furby a friend of mine had many years ago. Why a grown man had a Furby, wait never mind, I know why this one did. He collected Barbies. Anyway, once he "woke up" the Furby after not playing with it for a long time. The Furby said, "oooh, long sleep." The blog doesn't do that. It just sits there unmolested and waiting. Waiting for me to go to the local internet cafe/coffee house where "God is [their] barista." Just FYI, God makes middling nonfat iced lattes.

We're at the Atlantic Ocean. We live about 30 minutes from a perfectly good ocean. It's called the Pacific, I think. Every week I get within 5 miles of it when I go to therapy. I can smell it. Still, why not get in a plane and fly across the continent to the other one? It's warmer. And then there the thrill of the hurricane possibility. Gives me a little zing every time I think about it.

So, blog away east.

So far on my summer vacation, I've spent more time than I should looking for a 7mm hex screw. It fell out when I shipped my old bike here to be able to ride it near this ocean. One screw should not make a whole bike disfunctional. It does. And apparently 7mm is just the weirdest size ever. As I sit here at God cafe, I am worried that the fourth screw I have acquired from the ninth store visited looking for the screw will not work. It taunts me from my pocket. It's not the kind of snickering a shed does. It is, however, rather insidious in its evil. Stupid screw.

Just a tip: when shipping with or traveling with bikes, bring 7mm hex screws. Lots of them. Maybe even make a belt of them to be sure you'll have enough. The bike store won't have them. Oh, and remember that everything is closed Sunday. God is tired from making lattes.

Much to certain famous bloggers' consternation, the sporks didn't come. The buttery rubbery clogs did come. They've been worn. Here's something remarkable, the people of this coast are just as jealous of them as the people of the other one. Lots of glances and no comments. Sigh.

Honey is blogging right now, too. We're a computer away from each other. Between us are two people who seem alarmed that it costs 10 cents a minute to use the computer, with a $1 minimum. Shocking, I know.

So, bravely blogging, I vow to stop writing and therefore to stop paying. I may have to supplement Honey. She's more careful than I am in writing.

Still, my blessed latte sits by my side. And those evil screws nestle in my pocket like so many vipers. It's the age old struggle between good and evil. Right here at God Cafe. Near the Atlantic Ocean.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

We'll take the low road...

Someone else can take the high one. I got nosebleeds as a child.

Blogger friends of all types, the scouster and I are outta here for a bit. The lure of humidity and mosquitoes is a siren call. We're off to sweat and eat some she-crab.

If you know where we live, don't rob us.

If you don't, don't spam our blogs.

We're leeeeevin on a jet plaaaane.

I do know when we'll be back again. Check back on St. Carpophorus' feast day. Meantime, to quote Southern mothers, "be sweet."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How to use a credit card

This ladies and gentlemen is a new phenomenon about which I was trained today:

Apparently what happens is that one is given a little plastic card with the above logo on it. And one can use that little plastic card to buy...

Do you want to guess? I had to! Think. Ok, fine, I'll tell you.




Well slap my ass and call me me Sporks. Goods and services. No shit.

You want to know what's great about the little plastic card I learned about today? Well, I guess the aforementioned goods and services have to be paid for by somebody. You know what? The nice people in Accounts Payable pay them. Isn't that fantastic?

There are rules, I guess. No firearms can be purchased without prior approval. Got it. And it seems that when you have one of these little dandy dealios, you can't just loan it out to people to use. Check.

The motivator (and that really is the only word for him) who told us about the plastic miracle liked the track and field coach who was sitting behind me. Our motivator was, in fact, much more impressed with the man who taught others to throw things than he was with me. How do I know?

Well, Mr. Motivator shared his Myers-Briggs personality type. Why did he share it? Because we were trapped and had to listen to him. The problem was, he couldn't think of the name of the test. Like the sullen student I was channeling, I mumbled it under my breath. He then wanted to know what each of his letters stood for. I told him. Dr. INTJ didn't so much resonate with Mr. ESFP but she knew what the letters stood for. Still Mr Motivator/ESFP was more interested in the fact that Coach Thrower had taken Potential Freshwoman Thrower to Chili's. To Chili's! Can you imagine? And used this little plastic thingy. And Mr. Motivator could show us the Chili's charge on the computer. And Coach Thrower had spent $40. And then Accounts Payable had paid Chili's. Can you see how riveting this all is?

Mr. Motivator began the day by asking our objective for the session. People said chirpy things about how excited they were to learn about this new phenomenon. I should note, I guess, that we had plastic things before. They had logos that looked like this:

These new ones, boy, they sure are different. What with the goods and services and everything.

I ate a donut on the break. I didn't want a donut. I ate one anyway. I asked a famous blogger via e-mail to call in a bomb threat. I asked Assistant Director (also via e-mail) to come over to the building and pull the fire alarm. Both FB and AD refused. Where's the love? I ask you.

FB did try later. But by then, I was free. Still, she's my new hero. AD just laughed at me.

Three hours. That's how long it took to learn about this plastic miracle.

All of what was worth knowing, I have just condensed into this entry. You can thank me later. By using a plastic thing to buy me goods and services. Who knows? Maybe Accounts Payable will pay. Anyone want to meet at Chili's?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Yellow rubber clogs, The first 24 hours: A Report

Here are the details:

Crocs Cayman Clogs
Size: Large (Sporks has big ol' feet.)
Color: Butter

Beautiful, aren't they? Can I get an amen?

Hour -1
Honey and future clog owner (FCO) enter Sports Chalet, where the promise to "take to the limit" didn't really appeal. Why were they there? To buy Honey water shoes.

FCO notices the Crocs flip flops. FCO gasps. FCO tries the flip flops on. They do not suit FCO (between toe hurt is palpable). FCO then puts on a pair of brown clogs. FCO dances around a little. No laughing at FCO.

FCO checks out the colors. Decides on yellow. Becomes Clog owner (CO) and $30 poorer.

Hours 1-3
Clogs ride and sit (in bag) around in the hot car. CO is a little worried they'll melt. CO and clogs are brave.

Hour 4
Clogs arrive home. After other purchases are put away, they accompany CO (in hand) to office. Dog tries to steal them. Dog is admonished. Picture of left clog taken.

Hour 5
Blog entry written. Clog picture uploaded.

Hour 6
Famous bloggers 1 and 2 make fun of clogs in comments of blog entry. One of famous blogging duo also makes fun of clogs in private e-mail. Suggests that clogs may protect from lightning strike. CO thinks this is an added benefit.

Hours 7-9
Clogs rest comfortably under desk. This is where they go for now.

Hour 10
Presidential Candidate makes fun of CO for liking clogs in blog comments. PC suggests that CO should be called Anke Ousterhoudt.

Hours 11-19
Clogs continue to rest under desk. They are unaware that they have been maligned. Bless their hearts.

Hour 20
Clogs are put on with all black outfit. Honey assesses and argues for less contrast between somberness of outfit and clog-itude. Shirt changed to one of loud variety. Honey reassesses. Approves (sort of). CO becomes Clog Wearer (CW).

Hour 21
Clogs are helpful in driving. They also get several looks in Starbucks. CW decides fellow Starbucks patrons are jealous. She resists telling them where similar can be procured. Clogs come to office and are also greeted by jealousy. Clog wearer theorizes jealousy is so thick in office that no one dare speak. CW sees furtive looks. CW and clogs discuss and decide that no one wants to kiss up to CW about clogs because it's performance evaluation time. No one wants to be untoward. CW applauds her staff's restraint.

Hours 22-23
CW and clogs do work. Clogs are very helpful to CW. There may have been some bouncing on feet in office. Reports vary.

Hour 24
Clogs are deemed to be worthy of blog entry of their own. CW writes said entry. Discovers in doing so that "yellow" clogs are actually a color called "butter." CW likes them even more as a result. Decides to call them buttery rubbery clogs from now on. Also decides that clog days are good days. Still contemplating whether Anke Ousterhoudt would be a better appellation for self than sporksforall or actual name.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Weekend revelations


It's hot AND Sporks got the "nice camera" out.


I don't like it when it's 119 degrees. It's fucking hot.
That is all that need be said about that.

Now, I have a few thoughts that have nothing to do with the heat. Honey and I did observe that when it's this hot, it's hard not to talk about how hot. Like every time you walk outside, you have to exclaim all over again about how hot it is. That's it, no more hot talk.

As to getting the nice camera out...

Jezebel was over. Biscuit wasn't sure what she thought.

I am (sure that is). Jezebel is very cute. Hurt your molars cute. Did you know she has her own website? Yeppers.

Another thing that's cute? Biscuit with her summer haircut. (Notice the random Teva sitting behind her. That's where those shoes went last night).

Speaking of shoes, I may have purchased my very favoritest pair ever today. Behold:

and her husband have this big thing going in her blog over his version of the same shoes. As much as I like Dooce's blog, I'm coming down on the side of righteousness. And that, my friends and neighbors, is the clog side.

Speaking of what's right and just...I really like how my stuffed rhino looks in my pearls.

Did you know that rhinos are nice and hippos are mean? I always thought the reverse. Hippos are generally thought to be the most dangerous animal in Africa.

And that is why rhinos wear pearls. To show how nice they are. Much nicer than hippos.

Friday, July 21, 2006

100 (posts)

I've reached a milestone. One I'm surprised to have reached, frankly. When I started this thang, I thought I would abandon it. I started it for very different reasons than I continue it now. But that's a good thing, I think. If our expectations don't change, then the phenomenon itself becomes rote and uninteresting. Which is why I sometimes wonder why I still watch teevee. Speaking of which, I'm remembering that 100 episodes is what shows need to get to for syndication. Woo. Next on WGN: whatever on fire! Starring sporks. Woo.

Some other thoughts about 100s and centuries:

My Honey calls 100 Kilometers a "pussy century" on a bike (since it's less than 100 miles). The day I can ride 100K, I'll be one happy pussy.

100 is old for people. Sentinel the tree must think people are pussies.

(Aside: I should stop using "pussy" in this post).

The Roman emperor Agrippa died in the year 100 (C.E./A.D. depending on how anti-Jesus you want to be).

(Aside 2: Agrippa reminds me of the game my friend Rachel and I played while we lived in Rome in college where we did the ancient Rome soap opera. Think heavy Southern accents here, "Agrippina, you get your butt over here. Have you been sleeping with Claudius again? That boy is NO Good.")

Imayavaramban Nedun-Cheralatan was King of the Chera in the year 100. Whoever in the hell he is and wherever in the hell that is.

(Aside 3: Is "hell" better than "pussy"? I think so.)

Ty Pennington is #100 on the Forbes list of Top 100 celebrities. Now that's good to know (not).

There is no #100 on the U.S. News and World Report college ranking because 7 Universities are tied at 97. Then four more are tied at #104.

Caitlin S. on her Yahoo page would like to know what she should buy with $100. I think she should get herself 79 euros. They're prettier.

France bought 100 million half-Euro coins from Spain in 2001. They must be worth something. Caitlin could actually get 158 of those. 158 half-Euros! A girl can dream.

100 leagues (as in under the sea) is 555.6 kilometers. So 100 leagues is really pussy. Of course if I were riding my bike under the sea...
1. the steel would rust, and
2. it would be harder, which might make it less pussy.

I should stop this post. It's beginning to not bode well for the next century.

Watch for me soon on an unaffiliated channel near you. I'll be the spork with the Euros.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


My friend slangred has finally started shoe blogging, an activity long overdue. I like shoes, though I don't quite understand the current zeal for shoes that hurt your feet. Despite what I used to tell my friend in college (who needed such reassurances, being a straight woman and all), comfort should come before fashion and not the other way around. It seems to me that feet are nice and that hurting them is just a bad idea. They could do mean things to you later.

There are many things I like about working in academia, and many things I like about working in a non-prestigious part of it. There are also things, despite my East-Coast whining, that I like about living in Southern California. These conspire nicely when it comes to shoes. When I first moved to SoCal, I had taken (in my youthful zeal) a sandals-only stance. Year round sandals. No matter the weather. Ah, youth. I've wandered in my sandal loyalties from Birkenstocks to Doc Martens to Tevas to my current Teva-Keen mixed marriage.

I heart my Keens.

Anyway, I have now "grown up" and have some shoes where my toes aren't shown. What I like about them mostly is that I can wear my snail socks.

But my relationship with my socks is too complicated to be collapsed into this one post. It's a bit like how I could NOT talk about my relationship with my ass during my hand revelation last week.

Back to the shoes...earlier this week, I was discussing via e-mail with Scouster and the chief cowgirl in the Wannabe Corral where my shoes should go when I take them off. Scout suggested that everyone knew the answer to this question. By which I take it, she meant that any fool (me) should know that they go in the closet. With all the Republican gays.

There are a number of theories about why my shoes end up where they do, many of which might fall into the TMI category. Mostly, I take them off wherever I stop first. Bathroom, kitchen, under the desk, front hallway. I can't ever find the pair I want. But it's kind of like looking at a very easy Easter egg hunt for eggs (or like the Stones sang). You find the shoes you find. They may or may not be the shoes you need.

The good thing is that because I'm a lesbian (gasp, someone cover the children's eyes!) academic, I have only comfortable shoes in mostly neutral colors. Whichever shoes I encounter will probably also match my comfortable clothing that has just the hint of a professional look to it. See how good my life is?

I was standing behind the Prez of this here Uni at commencement and noticed she had on sandals. I suggested to the nearest chair of an ethnic studies department (there are several, this one was closest) that we could wear sandals if the Prez could. The Prez turned around, looked me up and down and nodded very slowly. Sandals it is at Commencement 07. I'll wear my "nice" Tevas. They look a little like I'm an extra on the set of Rome. The lack of a tunic gives me away, though.

Ok, so here's the deal. Share out in comments (let's see if this is more globally interesting to people than bad music):

What your shoe aesthetic is;


Where shoes "go" in your home.

As for me, today was a Teva day. My Keens from yesterday are in the front hall. I have tripped over them twice. Still, that's where they go. At least for today.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Don't be the bringee

I like to watch the teevee as I get ready in the morning. I have a few shows I watch, most of which my Honey finds annoying. Chief among these is Bargain Hunt on BBC America. The host is annoying, I'll admit.

From the advertising purchased for the 7am P(S/D)T hour, I am not the target demographic. The lovelorn, the indebted, and the immobile are. It is this last group who I would like to address today. Um, get up. Really. I'm not the most active person ever. Still, one can take the worst of American too far. Witness Honey's mother's shed's contents.

But the latest horror? The latest conspiracy to keep us planted on our couches? The Table-Mate II. I should point out, before I continue, that this COULD be a conspiracy. The Table-Mate II is made by a Canadian company. If all of America becomes housebound, then Canada can take over. They've been eyeing the better bits of our part of the continent for some time now.

Feel free to visit their website (which is, um, weak), but take a moment before you do to read about the commercial. First, a guy sits down on his sofa and spills food in his lap. He's got a full drink and a plate of what looks like meat and potatoes with gravy which he dumps in his lap. Like a dork. Also, it would be simpler if he just had a spork. Then he might not spill.

Then (and this was worth backing the Tifaux up for), a woman grabs her back while trying to reach a tv tray. Like she's in deep deep pain. Sitting on her couch and (oh the horror) LEANING FORWARD. The question the Table-Mate II people would like to ask is: why suffer when you don't have to? Why dump the gravy in your lap? Why sit up?

They then show pictures of people sitting and being brought things. The bringer puts the food (or whatever) on the Table-Mate II and slides it toward the bringee. Here's what the web site says the Table-Mate II is best for: "Tables stack next to each other in semi-folded position ideal for anyone with mobility problems or anyone recovering from an injury, illness or operation." Or even better, for someone hoping to create a mobility problem. There is a picture of the Table-Mate II "in action" (but without people). Why? Because the people involved with the Table-Mate II are now housebound.

Get up, America. Or if you must sit, use a spork and the coffee table. Geesh.

Monday, July 17, 2006

What's wrong with me? (Monday version)

Honey and I have a tendency to personify things that ought not to be personified. We speak in the voices of the inanimate.

Yesterday I bought a new cell phone on Amazon. When we got in the car to go to lunch, she asked (as if she were the cell phone charger cord), "Um, excuse me? What's going to happen to me when the new cell phone comes?" I felt bad. For a cord.

I told Honey that it was too easy to make me feel bad about these kinds of things. She allowed as how it wasn't as much fun because it was too easy. She then thought for a minute and said, "it's still fun, though."

This morning, when I put my coffee (which I later spilled--sigh) in the cup holder, I saw the phone charger...and felt guilty about replacing it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

19 Sunday morning thoughts

Or, What I Did while Honey was out Riding her Bicycle

1. I'm not a good lesbian. I don't like flannel sheets. I especially don't like them in the summer. I hope Honey forgives me for the percale switch.

2. It's hot.

3. Dogs don't help with yard work in any real way, but they're nice to have around while you're doing yard work.

4. I totally now get why Honey finds trimming our bird of paradise so satisfying.

5. I don't understand why our mulberry tree wants to procreate so badly.

6. I also don't understand why Biscuit wouldn't eat asparagus, but likes to eat the mulberry leaves. They could have a conspiracy (she and the mulberry tree, that is).

7. Our pomegranate tree needs to be trimmed, badly. I want it to finish growing its fruit first.

8. I'm making our back yard sound like a verdant paradise. It's a brown patch of yuck.

9. For someone who is supposedly good at technology, my failure to get my new bicycle computer to work is damming.

10. Lesser goldfinches are pretty, too. They don't deserve the pejorative adjective.

11. Reading the paper after yard work and during laundry seems less slothful than reading it before.

12. I still feel guilty on Sunday about not going to church.

13. I don't want to go to church.

14. I just feel guilty about it.

15. Big props to my parents for that.

16. Before blogging, thoughts like these entered my brain and then never left or dissipated into brain goo.

17. It's one of the reasons I like blogging.

18. There are other reasons.

19. Happy Sunday.

Friday, July 14, 2006

What's wrong with me?

I just bought...

Katherine McPhee's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on itunes.

I tried to make myself feel better by buying a song by The Killers, too. But then I reminded myself I bought it because I heard it on Rock Star: Supernova and I felt wrong all over again.

Really. Somebody tell me. What wrong with me? One possible answer: I'm a pop culture whore.

What's the worst thing you've bought on itunes or in the record store?

Oh, and I'm pretty sure that neither of these songs is the most embarrassing thing I've bought on itunes. By a long shot. Share out in comments and I might fess up to worse.

Two thoughts for the morning

The new Dixie Chicks album is really good. "Lullaby" is a really beautiful song. No hyperbole, really. Just beautiful.

Also, I've decided (after years of hating them) that I like my hands ok. Especially the left one.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vive la Tour, Vive la France, oui.

Confession: I think bad French is hilarious. Tonight in fact, Honey proposed that Biscuit wasn't listening to me because she only speaks French. I then said to Biscuit, "Bisque, arrive le crate, Tourmalet, maillot jaune." Biscuit seemed to get it and got in her crate.

My bad French isn't nearly as funny to me as grrrlylibrarian's bad French. GL majored in French Lit (at Berkeley) and can do a French accent and throw French words around in a way I find beyond hilarious. It's bad to think bad French is funny. I have enormous respect for the French in culture, bicycling, opposition to stupid-ass American Presidents, etc. There are a few things French I don't find as appealing. No need to list them, but they're probably on your list of French negatives, too.

I was going write this blog entry tomorrow on Bastille Day proper. But, it's already tomorrow in France, so happy BD, France. "La da da da da da da da da la da da da da ta da." (That was my blog rendition of La Marseillaise).

Sometimes my Word program at work switches (for no reason that I can determine) into spell-check in French. I like to think it knows how funny I think that is.

Anyway...(blogging at night after taking Tylenol PM isn't very coherent, is it?)...It's really important to the French that the July 14th stage of the Tour de France be won by a Frenchman. And it's preferable that the winning rider be on a French team. For those of you not following the race closely (ahem), here are the French teams:

Credit Agricole
Ag2R Provence
Francaise Des Jeux
Bougyes Telecom

The sponsors of the above represent: a bank, an insurance company, a credit company, the French National lottery, a telecommunications company, and fuck if I know. (Agritubel is a wildcard team with ugly kits and I'm not looking them up. Look them up if you want.)

David Moncoutie of Cofidis won the stage on 7/14/05. Richard Virenque (French!) won on 7/14/04 riding for the Belgian Quickstep (flooring) team. The French love Virenque, even though he's an admitted doper. 7/14/03 didn't see a Frenchman win. It was the rather famous (no snickering by sheds or others) day Lance Armstrong rode across the grass to avoid a crash and went on to cement his 5th overall win. Ok, enough tour history.

The French are probably unhappy today that Floyd Landis of Phonak, an American, is wearing the maillot jaune indicating he's the overall leader. I can't say I'm thrilled either. See my earlier post about Floyd's homophobic stupidity. I'm now hoping for a Levi Leipheimer comeback, but would be happy with any of the big riders who are close to win, except Floyd. Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov, and Andreas Kloden seem the mostly likely guys at this point. Menchov won the Vuelta a Espana last year by default because Roberto Heras lost his win because of doping. Drugs are great for what drugs are supposed to do. Just leave them out of sports, ok? Ok.

Here's Menchov celebrating his stage win today:

You'd be that pumped too if you had just won after climbing five mountains in 6 hours and 6 minutes on a bicycle.

Back to French--one of the ironies of my finding bad French so funny is that it would have horrified my grandmother. She was a French teacher and loved ALL things French. She even let her love for French seep over into a dislike and distrust of things Spanish. French wasn't funny to her. It was serious business.

So, happy Bastille Day, Gran. I hope that a Frenchman wins the Tour stage today. And I hope that there's a really nice version of Paris in heaven.

Vive la France. Oui. Alpe D'Huez.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Breaking the law and other things I learned

Last year when we went camping, the nice ranger-man told me that it was permissible to take "one or two rocks and one or two cones." So I took one cone. It's a sequoia cone and I've had it on my desk since then. Sequoia cones are very small and have a pleasing shape (they're between 1' and 1.5' and are shaped like, well, cones). I like little things. These aren't my cones, but they are representative thereof:

When I'm feeling restless or panicky (which is, um, a lot of the time), I like to squeeze little things. In my ongoing attempt to promote the program I am in charge of, I've procured many "spirit" items. The latest are these little stress gel-e stars emblazoned with the name of the program. I insisted on the stars. If we're ordering spirit items and I'm managing the budget, we're getting spirit items I like and can use. Thus, the gel-e stars.

We've got tote bags on order!

Anyway, I don't squeeze the cone. It shares space on my winged computer monitor platform with the gel-e star, though.

So this weekend, I wanted to get my cone a companion cone or two. I knew Honey wouldn't take a cone, so I figured I could take two. When we were done at Sentinel, I went back toward the car while Honey took and "insurance trip" to the bathroom. I found two cones I liked and put them in the car.

When Honey got back from the bathroom, she told me that a guy was carrying around a big cone and that the ranger-woman had told him that it was against Federal Law to remove cones from our National Park. Apparently dude had a really big cone. Why one would take a big cone from Sequoia is beyond me. There are lots of pine trees in California. You can get cones in lots of places. He probably hadn't bothered to go into the visitor center to find out the sequoia cones were wee.

I didn't put my new cones back. They now sit on my desk with ur-cone and make a nice little family. The gel-e star is a little jealous.

When we were driving into the park, Honey asked me if I knew why "tunnel rock" was called "tunnel rock." I immediately said, "because it's shaped like a tunnel." She told me that I was wrong.

"It's named after General Tunnel who led his valiant troops into battle during the Revolution. The American Revolution. Sequoia was the westernmost theater of battle."

She spun the story out more and I have to admit the idea of tri-cornered hatted guys fighting in the Sierra Nevada made me laugh.

When I was a teenager, I thought of myself as quite a rebel. I now know that that perception was simply off. I try to do the right thing. I try to follow the rules. I even thank officers of the law for giving me tickets. Honey, despite her neck nubbins and rebellious haircut, is a rule-follower, too.

Herewith some lessons:

Some rangers tell the truth. Some lie. Believe the ones you want to believe.

My Honey makes up stories that are better than the facts I know.

Wearing funky clothes at 16 does not a rebel make at 38.

Three cones on the desk look better than one.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Please feel free to share your recent life lessons in the comment zone!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Deer coughs and other bits of nature

Some years ago Honey and I first took a trip together. (When we were Honies-in-Potentia, though we should have KNOWN what was coming. But that's a story for another time). We saw a California Quail family. There's something about quail that make me all gooey. As we were heading into our National Park (Sequoia) this weekend, a quail family ran across the highway. The babies flapped bravely and the mom and dad ran interference from the mighty "little blue truck" that was bearing down on them. Honey and I hadn't seen quail since that first trip. It seemed a good omen.

These aren't the quail we saw. Still, how can you resist the little topknots?

The quail came at just the right time to distract us. I was feeling tense because I was driving and we were in a caravan with friends. I am semi-tense by nature and the caravan thing was making me nervous. To add to my tension, we had forgotten pillows. I am sure there are many people who would scoff at the idea of camping with pillows. We, however, are camping wimps.

We realized that we had forgotten pillows before we got to Visalia. Visalia was our best pillow opportunity. I got tense about making unauthorized and unplanned stops in the caravan and didn't stop. I told Honey that we'd find LOTS of pillows in the tiny town of Three Rivers. When that looked like a no go, we made a plan to fool the maid at one of the motels there. Honey would pretend to be drowning and I would steal pillows off her cart. If someone other than the maid tried to save her, she would insist that she needed the maid to save her.

Anyway, the quail distracted us from the pillow crisis for the moment.

As we drove into the park, Honey began to look through the CDs I had in the little blue truck. They're the same CDs I always have in the little blue truck and none of them suited her. This caused her to begin to sing DonnaFreakingFargo (DFF) loudly and out-of-tune as I wound up the mountain. I was more than a little nauseated. It was probably the Mexican food we had for lunch. There are other suspects.

We went to the supply shop in the park and found the "amazing exploding pillows." Here's Honey to demonstrate this wonder of technology for you.

Here's the pillow in its "compact" state:

Here it is in its "expanded" state:

Honey can barely contain her surprise!

The evening proceeding in a camping-type fashion, with dogs (of hot), s'mores, and a roaring fire. Our sporks (NOT foons) came in handy. That's because sporks are always handy.

We were camping in bear country. The bear hysteria is high. So high that there was concern around camp (doesn't that sound so outdoorsy?) about graham cracker crumbs dropped on the ground and backwash into Nalgene bottles. Every camp site gets a bear box. Here's the sign on it:

Good to know that fun can happen after food storage but not before. We didn't see any bears. The people in the site next to us, who were playing do-wop well into the night and decided to inflate their air mattress after 11pm, thought they saw bears. Bears don't like do-wop and so they weren't actually there. I took the gamble and took my Nalgene bottle to bed. I'm not sure how much I backwash, but we made it through the night.

Actually, I didn't sleep well and got a cramp in my leg at about 1am. I went to the car to try to stretch out a little. While lying, in pain, in the car, I could not get DFF out of my head. I blame Honey and Wendy.

In the morning I was walking to the bathroom and encountered a mule deer munching on some bark. She looked up and let out a small cough as I approached. I kept walking toward her, trying to give her wide berth. She filled her lungs and coughed LOUDLY at me. I went around the other way. I had no idea deer could be that loud. There was a lot of ear flicking as well (on her part, not mine).

On the way out of the park the next day Honey asked me if I had any new CDs in my car since yesterday. Since the Lodgepole store hadn't been any better at CDs than it had been at pillows (I think there were some new-agey ones), we had the same selection we had the day before. Honey again launched into her medley of "Happiest Girl" (she did change the pronouns, which was sweet) and "You Can't Be a Beacon." We compromised on Alanis Morrisette.

I have a few new camping tips:

1. Remember pillows.

2. Store food, then have fun.

3. Give the deer room.

4. Bring better CDs

5. See quail, if possible.

6. Claim Your National Park soon. There aren't enough to go around.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A thought or two on "average"

Honey and I are back from camping in our National Park. Sequoia is ours. Y'all can have another one. Actually, the first trip Honey and I ever took (before we were "Honies") was to Yosemite and we've been to several other National Parks since. Still, I'll take Sequoia as ours.

More on the camping tomorrow. Today I want to talk about average.

There are lots of averages. C used to be average. Now B is. W got C's. We should go for a an above average candidate in '08.

The batting average for the National League was .268 last year. My fantasy team (NL only) currently has a batting average of .264. So here at the All-Star break, I'm below average. Way below. Last place below.

I'll resist giving the average speed of cyclists at this year's big bike race that can only be named a few times. It's higher than mine. MUCH higher than mine.

Yesterday, Honey and I stopped off at my favorite sequoia tree in our National Park. It's called The Sentinel and used to stand guard over a gas station and food store. In the late 90s, the National Park Service decided that probably wasn't good for the trees. Sequoias grow in this little magical zone in the Sierra Nevada and nowhere else. Gas pumps and cars are not the best companions for them.

Anyway, The Sentinel was described as an "average" sequoia. The Sherman tree, "the largest living thing" is 52,508 cubic feet. Sentinel is about half that. It isn't even "ranked" in the biggest tree rankings.

Here's it's plaque:

If average deserves that kind of plaque, imagine what above average gets.

Here's Sentinel (it/him/her)self:

Here's Honey at Sentinel. It may give a little perspective. There's a LOT of tree above the top of this picture.

So what does it mean to be average and extraordinary at the same time?

I'm no poet, so I won't try to say.

I will say I'm glad Sequoia is my National Park. I almost got an "adopt a Sequoia kit" at the store, but the kit said, "no transfer of ownership of tree is expressed or implied." At $25 per kit I can see why. Sentinel may be average but it's still a pretty awesome thing.

Tomorrow: sporks, deer coughs, and DonnaFreakingFargo at the campsite in our National Park.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Camping with tents, bears, trees, and sporks

We're leaving tomorrow to go camping in Sequoia National Park. I like Sequoia. It's closer than Yosemite and has much bigger trees. And much less traffic.

I really like the idea of camping in a tent. My natal family was not of the camping variety. My mother really prefers a four-star experience. She'll do big chain hotels of the Marriott type, but not much "lower" than that.

I did get sent to summer camp as a child. First, I was sent to Presbyterian camp, which was a classic summer-camp kind of place with a little Sunday School thrown in. We hiked, canoed, and made lanyards. But we stayed in cabins, never tents.

I then transitioned to horse camp. Little Hope Ranch was an odd place, but I loved it (for the most part). There was no real "camping" at Little Hope. Girls rode horses twice a day. There was a pool (a mildewy pool) to swim in at night. Otherwise, it was all horses. Note to Rachel, if you're reading: Sunshade kicked Little Lamb's spotted butt. Little Hope is gone, replaced (from what I understand) by a VERY needed (not) new housing development.

Honey and I bought a cheap-ass tent at Pic n' Sav some years ago and tried camping a couple of times with it. The first time we showed up after dark and had to set up the tent with no real light. The second time wasn't much better.

Then I bought us a nice tent and an air mattress at REI. I also bought some hautemallows (those are high end marshmallows) and we tried it again. Other than the stale Whole Foods wheat hot dog buns, it went well.

Here are my camping rules for anyone over 35:

Get a big tent. (Two people in a four person tent will feel about right).

Get fresh buns, good beef or uncured chicken hot dogs, regular marshmallows, and good chocolate for s'mores.

Shop at the NPS concessionaires. They're a nice mix of touro-crap and cute shirts to buy your honey. They'll also have beer if you decide you need it--which you might.

Pick a cool National Park.

Listen to the nice ranger about the bears. If there are bears, use the bear box. Bears are bigger than you.

You will need to pee more often than usual overnight. Practice the "get up off the air mattress" maneuver until it's smooth.

Turn the flashlight/lantern off before you get back in the tent from the bathroom trip. You don't want those bugs in the tent. Trust me.

Eat breakfast at the hotel/lodge in your National Park. The civilized nature of served breakfast will make you feel better about not having showered.

Then go home. Take a shower and watch a good tv program. Tell the cats and dog all about your adventure. Post about what went wrong on your blog. Be sure to take some pictures. The big trees are better appreciated with visual aids.

Oh, and bring sporks. Everything tastes better next to a tent while being eaten with a spork.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Vacation (therapist on)

My therapist looked at me today with that therapist head-cock and asked how I was feeling about her going on vacation.

I had one of those moments when I want to say all the inappropriate non-therapy things like:

Where you going?
Is your girlfriend/partner going too?
Who is you girlfriend/partner?
How long have you been together?
Are you going with friends?
What friends?
Are they all therapists too?

All of which would result in one of those meta-therapy conversations about why I wanted to know. And I do kinda want to know, but I didn't want to explore why I kinda wanted to know at all today.

The truth is, I think she should go on vacation. I'm more than a little bit in awe of what she does. Given that my patience level is very low and hers must be astronomically high, she's an impressive person.

(Here's how I think about it: I know I throw a lot of psycho-bullshit around. If I'm average (or even above average!) and she sees 50 or 60 people (that's just a guess), that's A LOT of other people's bullshit to deal with.)

I saw her get out of her car a couple of weeks ago and she exhaled loudly before getting her bag. It seemed to be an anti-bullshit exhale. But I'm probably projecting.

So I don't have therapy next Thursday. Should I take "therapy" time and go do something else? Or should I just be a good girl and work?

It just occurred to me that writing about being in therapy could hurt my chances for a cabinet post in the Bailey administration. Shit. (That and saying shit a lot). Shit.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The unexpected

A few things in the past few days I haven't expected:

I didn't expect to be able to ride 12 miles. I did on Sunday.

I didn't expect that if I did ride 12 miles to avoid deep pain. I felt great on Monday.

I didn't expect my spokes on my rear wheel to go "pling" and lose their spokey integrity on my follow-up "12 miles twice in three days" ride yesterday. Result: Three miles and some tears. Honey rode 19.

I didn't expect to make a good peach cobbler. I did.

I didn't expect that the guy at the local bike shop (LBS) where I had never been and to which I took my wheel today would be so nice. Me: "I push the limits of my bike." Him: "No you don't. You're out there having fun and exercising. The new wheel will be fine." $257 and a kind word. The latter made me feel a lot better about the former. I'll go back to this bike shop. The new wheel will be ready on Friday. The old one will go up on ebay. Anybody need a 32 spoke Open Pro rear wheel with an Ultegra hub? I'm having it re-trued.

I didn't expect the Angels to score 14 runs in one game this whole season. Yea Halos.

I didn't expect to get out of last place in batting average in my fantasy baseball league. Oh wait, I didn't.

I didn't expect that an off-hand comment by my Honey would result in a new presidential candidate. Bailey in '08!

I didn't expect Italy to beat Germany in the World Cup. I also didn't expect the World Cup to be an area of conversation at the "lesbians in academia" barbecue we attended last night. They did and it was.

I didn't expect Kenneth Lay to die. I wasn't really thinking about him or anything, but I was surprised this morning when I heard he had.

I didn't expect Biscuit to make it through the night with any aplomb. She was stressed when we got home. But she went to sleep and didn't bark or whine at all. To celebrate, I've contracted with the Dog Patrol (shameless plug if anyone needs dog walking in L.A.) to walk her on Thursdays. She totally deserves it. She also deserves "total football access" but doesn't get that because she can't handle it.

I didn't expect to so easily dissuade Wendy from calling me "Grits." : ) Was it the reference to the CIA?

Mostly, despite the tears yesterday, I didn't expect to feel so good today. Happy Wednesday everybody.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Boom, Cobbler, and Pedals

Honey and I have been invited to a 4th of July party tomorrow. I waffled on going at first because the Dean who just hired me will be there and I was invited before she offered me the job. It didn't seem good to go if I didn't get the job. I am also afraid on behalf of Biscuit about the fireworks. Reddo was very afraid of fireworks. In fact, one of my last clear memories of him is him running back up onto the porch to be let in almost immediately after asking for a "woof about" in the yard. With Reddo there were woof abouts, with Biscuit, now it's "Bisc-abouts"). Reddo's great regret about our house, I'm sure, was that our bed was too low for him to crawl under during fireworks. Before he lived with us, he had been my parents' dog and my mother has this massive bed with a springer spaniel size crawl under space. Biscuit did not like the thunder storm that happened shortly after we got her. There was a lot of yelping and crying. She's calmed down a lot since her feverish first six-seven months in our house. I'm going to give her a Benadryl and hope for the best. We may or may not take her with us to the party. She's been pseudo-invited.

I'm supposed to bring cobbler to the party. How I got myself into bringing cobbler is a testament to my "sure, I know how to do that/know all about that" bravado. Since I'm from the South, the hosts made an assumption that I could cook, and what's more I could cook cobbler. I didn't do a thing to dissuade that notion. I made it two years ago for this same event. I didn't think it was very good. Nevertheless, the cobbler has been requested again. Sigh.

My mother is an excellent cook. She rejects many of the fussier aspects of Southern womanhood--lace, pink, sewing, flower arranging--but embraces others--shoe coordinating, cooking, ablutions, baby powder. She didn't teach me any of them. Why she didn't teach me to cook probably has a lot to do with her impatience in teaching anyone to do anything and my life-long weight issues. To this day, she is disappointed in my unwillingness to be girly. Whatever.

So I'm off in a bit to buy some ingredients for the cobbler. I don't know what recipe I used last time. I'm using a different one this time. I wonder if anyone will notice.

On the bright side, I bought some tough looking new pedals for my new bike. Nothing girly about them.

Happy 4th everybody. May your cobbler be tasty, your dogs be calm, and your mothers be accepting.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


I am going to try to resist the temptation to blog a lot about the Tour de France. I'm a sports fan. It's a status I denied for many years because my honey didn't so much like it. She's come around, which is sweet.

I tried hard during the Winter Olympics to not blog solely about them. It got me (and Honey )off on an unfortunate trajectory about Neve and Gliz. So, I'm going to make a rule for myself during the 21 days of the Tour. You ready? I can have the TdF in my blog five times total in the next three weeks. Here's #1.

I won't try to top Honey who wrote beautifully about the doping scandal yesterday. It's not just because she's my honey and found a really nice calf picture...I have to see that's as succinct and right a piece on drugs in sports as I've read in a while.

We just watched the prologue of the TdF on our Tifaux. Honey has persuaded me to not root for Floyd Landis or Dave Zabriskie because they've given two joint interviews--one in Outside the other in Bicycling--in which they said homophobic things. So we're rooting for a few other guys. I confess to having a weakness for the best Norwegian cyclist ever (tm). It's not that competitive a thing really, but he's good beyond Norway. He's big for a cyclist and races for the French Credit Agricole team. One (ok the main) reason I like him is that his name is Thor Hushovd. There are other things to like. He won the green sprinter's jersey last year in the TdF when no one expected him to. He doesn't head butt people like Robbie McEwan. (McEwan named his son Ewan--Do I need to say more? Ewan McEwan. Sigh.) I can hope that, because he's from Norway, he holds more worldy views than Landis and Zabriskie. I also like Agricole's kit. It's green and fairly understated. I love the colors of cycling but there are some ugly ass kits (that's uniforms in non sports geek speak) out there. There's T-Mobile's pink mess:

And Euskaltel-Eukadi's orange yuck:

And then today was a time trial, so they ride the alien bikes with the alien helmets. Here's a good example:

That's Levi Leipheimer. Odd looking itnit?

Thor's name appeals to me in part because of an interest in mythology I developed when I was but a child. As a bookish kid, I spent as much time as I could in the Maud Burrus Library in Decatur, Georgia where I grew up. Mrs. Burrus was the first director of that library, which opened in 1925.

Even though Decatur is in the Atlanta area, there were lots of things that made it seem like a small town. The Maud Burrus Library was one of them. I don't think I read every book in the kids' wing, but it seemed that way to me sometimes when I was looking for something new. Then, I moved into the adult section and never looked back. Among my favorites books in that library were the books on mythology. This early interest MAY have influenced my academic interests later in life.* : )

While the Norse gods didn't do as much for me as the Greek and Roman ones, I liked them enough to read whatever I could find on them. Thor wasn't as cool as Loki and I lacked the sophistication as a child to understand that flawed "people" were more interesting than purely "good" ones. But I was a kid who liked things to be fair. And Thor got treated unfairly by Loki. Of course that was Loki's thing.

So when I started watching cycling and found there was this semi-underdog cyclist named Thor, I couldn't resist pulling for him. (It's worth noting, I think, that Thor Hushovd is one of the top 15 or 20 cyclists in the whole world. He's not exactly Seabiscuit. But then Seabiscuit wasn't really that much of underdog ether. So maybe he is Seabiscuit. Oh, never mind. My point is that Boonen, Pettachi, and McEwan are better sprinters).

He wasn't supposed to win today.

He did. By .73 of a second over George Hincapie. Floyd and his homophobia had a flat tire and finished 8 or 9 second backs. So there. No Loki today. And I hope no drugs. It seems a little victory for fair. Mrs. Burrus would certainly agree that it's a good day when fair wins.

*I have a PhD in Folklore and Mythology