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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Academic treats and tricks

I always jokingly complain that Halloween is the worst time of the year for folklorists because we (especially if we're listed in a university's expert directory as I am) get called to explain the holiday. Last year I got three calls. I did my little rap about the origins of the holiday and its changing nature over time. I've got it down. It sounds good. I'll tell you how to spell and say Celtic words like Samhain. I can be all authoritative. I get quoted. Usually it's for teeny tiny give-away papers. Still. Me, an expert. Imagine.

This year? No calls. Not one.

It is way worse than no kids coming by the house for candy. Honey and I have Gummi-Savers--a fat free food--to give away. Maybe I'll tell the kids about Samhain.

Or not.

Friday, October 27, 2006


I'm a bit of a bag collector. No, let me confess. For all my love of shoes (Crocs!), blingy bikes and bike parts, my desire for a LCD big screen teevee, etc., there is nothing that makes me feel quite so zingy as my bag(s).

I have just exited (I think it is safe to say) an semi-obsessive Timbuk2 phase. I still have a mini-metro and laptop bag that I will use, as well as a pleasing "design-your-own" classic messenger in red, ivory, and steel. My Timbuk2 phase is over, though, in part to a bag they only made for a minute, a vertical European design thing. I really liked. It was my default bag. But, mine has worn out and looks frayed and there's not a replacement to be found in all the land.

The Timbuk2 experience is nice. The bags are well made and have a funky color palette that appeals.

I also have a "nice" bag that is a distressed dark leather. I like it, but it's a little big and has no top handle. I use it when I want to take myself seriously, which isn't very often.

My custom Timbuk2 is great, save one key issue. I don't wear much red and it clashes. It's hardly it's fault, but it's still true.

Recently, I had been coveting a Chrome bag. Tough, roomy, bike messengery, great logo. What more could you ask?

Yesterday Honey and I had plans to meet folks for dinner in West L.A. I knew said bags were sold at a bike store over there. Honey was kind enough to both accompany me and tell me that the bag (which features a seatbelt buckle to open and close it) didn't make me look dorky. She may have been lying, but I chose to believe her.

It's deeply unpursy. I keep staring at it. I heart it. Be jealous if you must, but here it is:

Mine's grey. Contented sigh.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Because it's my favorite format...

Wisconsin by the numbers:

Number of sausages consumed: 4

Number of beers consumed: 5

Number of beers consumed in the previous six months: 0

Number of the Wisconsin beers consumed on the same night: all

Number of ratio of sausages on the night in question to beers: 2/5

Amount of sauerkraut consumed: minimal

Number of artisan diet root beers consumed: 1

Number of times artisan diet root beer was sought after that: several

Success at finding artisan diet root beer again: nil

Perceived rarity of artisan diet root beer: high

Time of conference presentation: 8:30

Number of attendees at session: 10

Number of friends who later apologized for not coming: 4

Number who cited early time as reason for absence: 4

Pounds of cheese purchased: 4+

Amount of it shaped like Wisconsin: 0

Number of times downtown Milwaukee was circumnavigated: 5

Number of times in Crocs in the rain: 3

Feeling of Croc worthiness for anything after the fact: high

Number of things I wish I had seen in Wisconsin that I didn't: 2

What were they? Trek factory tour, Waterloo
Oldest bowling alley

Number of non-German food meals that were surprisingly good: 2

Food genres that surprised? Italian and Moroccan/Spanish

Times I checked e-mail while gone: 3

Times I checked on my blogleague fantasy football team: 5

Level of panic at Mike Vick's pseudo-injury: hysterical

How did Vick do? 4 touchdowns, 26 fantasy points

You didn't play him did you? Nope

So, how did Delhomme do? 14 fantasy points

Could you still win? Maybe

Would you have won with Vick: much more likely

You haven't won yet have you? Why, no, no I haven't

Will you? Maybe not

Anyway, back to Wisconsin...

Other purchases (besides cheese)? Spices, book, cheese stress squeezy

Number of visits to Milwaukee in sporkslifetime: 2

Number for the same conference: 2

Chances that sporks will go back if the conference schedules itself there again: low

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cheese states

I'm making my way to Milwaukee. I'm flying on what I have been referring to as "cookie airline." It's really Midwest Air. They serve fresh baked cookies. Mmm.

It will be my second trip to Milwaukee. Same conference. Different year. I am sure I will revisit some highlights. My favorite thing last time will be sought out again. What is it?

Why, it's cheese shaped like Wisconsin.

I regret that the Brewers will not be playing. I have always wanted to see the sausage guys.

It would also allow me to tick off a ballpark. I would like to see a game at each MLB park someday. My current list is mighty small:

1. Atlanta (2 stadiums)
2. Los Angeles
3. Anaheim
4. Queens
5. Baltimore (2 stadiums)
6. North side Chicago
7ish. (I may have gone to Cincinnati as a child. I can't remember. Don't think it counts)
8lessthanish. (Can I count RFK if I saw a pre-season game there before the Nats existed? I kinda think not.)

Anyway, have a good week. I'll eat some schnitzel for you. Anyone wanting a Wisconsin-shaped cheese should speak soon. I can only carry back so many states, those suckers are heavy...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thorn karma

Post before last I mentioned, in a really off-hand way, a stretch of mountain bike path Honey calls, "thorn row."

I haven't been riding my mountain bike much lately. That's because my road bike has a siren call.

I rode Tuesday (after posting). Wednesday morning I had a flat. From a thorn. From the paved bike path.

I changed my tube.

Today I went for a ride. I was 2/10 of a mile in. Front tire? Flat. Why? Thorn. Paved bike path.

I am sorry thorn row. I did not mean to mock you. I have sacrificed two tubes. I will never call your name again. I fear you and that is as it should be. Accept my penance for you are mighty and I am weak.

Wherein insult meets injury and they jump on blunted spork tines

This year, for the first time in my adult life, I paid money to play fantasy baseball. I was invited to join a league by my brother. I studied. I took notes. I had a list. I got up at 7am on "spring forward" Sunday and drafted my team.

Today, I received the wrap-up e-mail for the league. I was nominated for several "worsts" by the league. Worst trade (Cole Hamels for Brady Clark) and Worst draft choice (Pedro Martinez for $38).

I finished in last place. By a lot. Part of that was that I traded away my high priced players for keepers. But I'm not even sure I did that well.

My "best" move wasn't nominated for anything: Bronson Arroyo and all his white boy cornrows (plus 14 wins and a sub 4 ERA) for $1.

And then...

I got to the bottom of the e-mail. And I owe the most for transactions. Why? Because all my lame-ass stupido players got hurt and hurt again which meant I had to sign worse than lame-o stupido players.

Did I mention that I'm, also losing (again badly) in the blogger fantasy football league? I am.

Bottom line it for you? Ok...

It cost me $121 to lose.

And the only thing I know for sure: Arroyo and his cornrows will be giving me fits next year again. For $3 instead of $1.

Happy postseason baseball.

Rest in peace, Cory Lidle.

Monday, October 09, 2006

songs and invitations

Sometime ago I was a student in a summer program at a prestigious university in the South. It was before I graduated from high school and I went to take some college courses the summer before my senior year.

I loved it and decided that I had to go to that college. When I think about it in hindsight, I realize that I liked it because it was college and because I had a major league crush on my roommate.

One afternoon, it started to rain and a huge mud puddle formed in the courtyard of our dorm. People began to run into the building and grab one another and throw folks in the mud. Everyone seemed to be getting thrown in. I waited and waited and no one came to get me to throw me in. The level of popularity of those being thrown in had dipped below my perception of my own. And yet there I was, dry. I watched for a long time and then went out for a walk in the rain.

That story sounds is a more somber introduction than the following entry warrants. I don't usually get invited to do memes and didn't get invited to do this one. But I'm doing it anyway. I'm not waiting around to get thrown in the mud any longer. So... the meme is seven songs that you're into right now and why.

1. "They Call the Wind Maria" sung by Ed Ames (originally from the Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon, Lerner and Lowe, 1951). This one is weird, I admit. We were watching e.r. the other day and John Mahoney sang a song and it reminded me of when John Cullum sang this song on an episode back in 2000 or so. Off to itunes I went. I settled on Ames' version because it was the closest to how I remembered Cullum's. Convoluted path, but still a great song. Ames is a pop singer of a certain type from the 60s and has done some acting as well. I LOVE the cover of his "best of" album. He's wearing a fisherman's sweater.

2. "Come What May" sung by Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. This movie, which is as close to a carnivalesque experience as I have ever had in the theater, has a terrific soundtrack. This was the original they put on it to try to get the Oscar for Best Original Song. Unfortunately, it was disqualified for consideration because it was written for (but unused in) director/writer Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. A beautiful love song. I'm still impressed with MacGregor's voice and he and Kidman harmonize really nicely on this song.

3. "Three County Highway," "Fly Away," and "Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate" sung by the Indigo Girls from their album Despite Our Differences. Ok, this is cheating. These are my three favorite songs from the new album. I can't decide which I like best. It's a terrific album and the live EP that comes with the dulux edition is worth the extra dough. Pink's harmony on "Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate" adds a really nice complexity.

4. From the new to the old... the other album in HEAVY rotation in my car (aka the little blue truck) is Emmylou Harris' Red Dirt Girl from 2000. "My Baby Needs a Shepherd" is my song obsession du jour from that album. Sad and beautiful.
"My baby needs a pilot
She has no magic wand
To help her part the troubled waters
Of the Rubicon
But in my soul I know she'll
Have to go this one alone
After all that is only way she's ever known."

5. Always in my mind a bit is Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Jubilee." I blogged about it a while ago.

6. Evanescence "Fallen" Because I hide my head in the sand, I didn't know about this song until this summer and Rock Star . A couple of people sang it and then Storm Large sang it. That got me to download it. By the way, Storm sang the National Anthem for the finale of The Contender. She can sing ANYthing.

7. "Winter" by Joshua Radin. Honey thinks he's soporific. Whatever.

8. One more because if you don't get invited, you can make up your own rules...
"Trouble" by Bonnie McKee. The only song I've gotten as a free "discovery download" on itunes that I really like. She kicks ass on this song. Great on the ipod while cycling the dirt path Honey calls, "thorn row" because it creates so many flats.

My roommate? She and I talked through college but I lost track of her. Just as well, I guess. She probably wouldn't have liked any of these songs.

As for me, I didn't get thrown into the mud. I also didn't get into that college.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My county appreciates me

Los Angeles County is grateful for my jury service. How do I know? They said so on the check they just sent me for mileage.

Jury duty by the numbers:

Number of days I served: 2

Amount I was paid by the County: $0

Why? State employees don't get paid for jury service

Total mileage reimbursement: .68

Cost to mail me the 68 cent check: .39

Number of jurors questions for the 12 juror, 2 alternate panel: 80

Number of jurors in the panel not questioned: 8

Number of sporky bloggers in the latter group: 1

Previous juries by sporky blogger: 1

Number of decisions reached in that case: 1

Sporky jury found in favor of? The people

Previous jury alternate experiences by sporky blogger: 1

Sporky juror was alternate #? 2

Other bloggers who have served as alternate #2: scout, weese

Number of decisions reached in the sporky blogger alt. #2 case: 0

Level of conviction by sporky blogger that she would have helped grease the cogs of justice: high

Number of times sporky blogger has been called and not served on a jury in any capacity: 2

Number of times she was both grateful and a little disappointed: 2

Suggestions now being taken for what to do with the 68 cents. The thanks of a grateful county were all I really needed.

Oh, and one non-jury number...

Number of wins through week 4 by sporky blogger in the blogleague (where she serves with great distinction as the commissioner (or not)): 0

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Aesthetics of office decorations (holiday edition)

I arrived from my two days of jury duty fun (I was never called into the box), to discover that Halloween had come to my office environs. October had arrived. Still. If this is what had found, I would have been happy.

It was not what I found.

I don't like the aesthetics of my office as a whole. But, like a "make your own decisions" kind of boss, I let the mahogany and black happen. I have carpet. No one else does. I just ordered non-faux wood (it's just faux) for an office make-over. But furniture is not the subject here. It's shiny skeletons. Shiny pumpkins. Shiny witches.

Kind of like this (only bigger and more shiny):

It's horrifying. Not boo scary. Scary bad. Scary shiny. But, what can I say? I make noise about secular winter decorations and that results in a lot of snowmen (some shiny) in December. We are a state institution after all. But in October? Nothing I can say. Other than, "you decorated." Think flat tone there.

I shudder internally every time I walk out of my office. I don't mind the inflatable spider and would be fine with some leaves an a gourd or two.

So, here are the questions, blogfriends:

Do you decorate your office/office spaces?

For which holidays?

What's your aesthetic for that decoration?

Anyone want to trade some gourds for a shiny skeleton?

Oh, and if you like shiny jointed skeletons, speak up and tell me why!

By the way, I was looking for an image and discovered that "" is available. Now's your chance!