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Friday, May 25, 2007

Puppy signs

Today I drove home a different way because I had to stop by my HMO's pharmacy to get my birth control pills (don't ask). As I was driving down one of my least favorites streets in the vague region they call SoCal, I noticed professionally printed yard signs on a number of yards that read "Puppies" and had arrows.

Then I see a yard with lots of the signs and a large wire crate and people milling about and sure enough the puppies are there and the signs seemed to have worked.

Now, I don't claim to have made all the best dog decisions ever. On the contrary, I acquired Biscuit less than a week after Red died. And Scout's attempt to get a dog resulted in a trip to "urgent care" for me. (Right across the street from the pharmacy near the puppy signs!) Still and all, though the yard sign technique seemed to be working, I can't help but think that people looking at those puppies may make a decision they'll not be happy with long term.

Biscuit and Scout were happy to see me when I got home and even obliged for a little picture taking moment.

*Picture behavior achieved through bribes of cookies

I suppose I shouldn't judge, because however we acquire our animal companions (aka pets), they love us. But professionally printed puppy signs? I'm not so sure.

Monday, May 21, 2007

More on cycling (look away!)

Professional cyclists are like most athletes. Some are smart, some are corrupt, some are really daft. I like the sport nonetheless and, as usual, am enjoying the run-up to the Tour de France, despite the horrible coverage on Versus (nee OLN). Paris-Roubaix was another exciting CSC ride away (O'Grady this year, Cancellara last year). The Giro is shaping up to be a decent battle.

In the meantime, Ivan Basso has been let go by Discovery and admitted to "trying" to dope. Uh-huh. Jason Giambi also apologized for using that "stuff." Baseball. Cycling. Doping sucks. My honey said so, so it is so.

Here's the weird bit, that's actually getting some national media play. Floyd Landis, the homophobic TdF winner from last year, who is accused of using synthetic testosterone, is the subject of a hearing right now by the U.S.A.D.A. (anti-doping agency).

Greg LeMond, the first American TdF champion, testified in the hearing last week. LeMond has been VERY outspoken against doping and has accused Lance Armstrong and now Landis of doping. He says he received a phone call from Landis in which Lemond urged Landis to come clean about doping. LeMond admitted in the course of that phone call that he had been sexually abused as a child and was trying to make the point that secrets can harm you in the long-run. LeMond contends that Landis tacitly admitted to doping in the conversation (a claim Landis denies).

Landis' manager, the night before LeMond was to testify, called LeMond and threatened to expose his secret (the abuse) to the world.

It's all just beyond bizarre.

The thing about any sport is that, however compelled by it I feel, I can choose to do it instead of watch it. My Gunnar mountain bike is off the be repainted and Honey is thinking about trading up her bike. There's a lot to pay attention to that doesn't involve Floyd Landis or Ivan Basso.

When I glance across my office to my road bike, which is my only bike at the moment (what with the Gunnar in parts in my garage and on the way to Wisconsin), I take some comfort in the name on the tubes. He may talk a little much, but right now, LeMond stands for integrity and fortitude and who can't use a little of that?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The land of wang

Things I'm not going to write about:

*How busy I am.

*How the wildfires make me want to camping. Not where they are, mind you, but because wood smoke makes me want to go camping. I should feel bad about feeling this way.

*How a student made me look stupid while I was being observed in class the other day.

*How a colleague pretty much refused to do work he's already been paid to do, which will make me look bad.

*How much I'm looking forward to getting out-of-town this weekend, but how panicked the missed time is making me.

*How little grading I've done on papers that came in a week ago. (None).

*How much I need to finish an article.

*How behind I am on blog commenting/reading.

*How I need to stop this list RIGHT NOW or will feel worse, not a little purged.

*How much I look forward to Lost every week. (no stress factors in that last comment).

Anyway, what I will say, however briefly, is that I've been enjoying these little Italian yogurts from Trader Joe's that come in pleasing little glass bottles.

Honey and I had a running joke about them because I wanted to try them for the bottles and she didn't think I'd like them because they are too "wangy." To translate: sour/overly yogurty, etc.

This is how it would go, "Honey do you think I'd like those yogurts?"


Ok, so it's not that funny, but we liked the patter. Then I saw them in apricot and I'm a bit of a fool for apricot, so I got them anyway. I really like them. They ARE wangy, but wangy in a good way.

So, I've had four of them at work so far and have been washing and displaying their little bottles. I can't decide how many little bottles is too many little bottles.

Here's what the little bottles look like:

Aren't they cute?

I also like the company's English translation of their blurb on the product:

"...[T]he traditional processing of the dense double layer yoghurt, where the ferments join the milk and pot after pot the unmistakable texture is achieved. Finally it is packed in its traditional glass pot Biospega."

I want to go to the place where the ferments join the milk. I'm guessing it's right in the center of the land of wang.

I have one "pot" on my desk and three others on my bookshelf right next to my woodblock Colosseum. At least I've got my vaguely Roman stuff together.

My conclusion, if I stay in the land of wang, I may be ok. At least there are cute little jars there.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

(Audio) Book report

I don't have a bad commute, all things considered. I've lived in three cities in my life, all with notorious commutes. In fact, a recent New Yorker article mused on the worst commute cities in the U.S. noting that Washington, D.C. (city #2 for me), San Francisco (never lived there, but would like to), New York (nice to visit), and Los Angeles (city #3 for me) all have bad commutes that are exacerbated by geographical impediments (mountains, rivers, bays, and the like). The worst commutes, the article contended, are those that are bad simply because of planning. The two cities cited as simply bad because transportation engineers and urban planners let everyone down were Atlanta (city #1 for me) and Houston (drove through it once, didn't get stuck). Anyway, despite having lived in three of the six worst, I've never had a horrible commute. I say this even while mentally counting bus commuting when I was in graduate school in the "not horrible" category.

My current commute is fine, though I can't use the L.A. freeways to any good effect in it. It's a surface street commute and one that I would like to do by bicycle sooner rather than later. Gas in L.A. running $3.45 right at the moment and all.

In the less fit that I should be zone than I'm in now, I'm driving. I waver in and out of what I like to do while driving. Sometimes I can be an NPR person. Sometimes I'm a sports radio person. When it occurs to me, I plug in my ipod.

I'm currently in a phase. A books on CD phase. These happen every so often. Sometimes, the right kinds of things prompt it, like Sarah Vowell writing a new book. What I like to listen to is not at all the same as what I like to read. I love Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events on CD. I read the first book (yes, I know they're for adolescents), but not any of the rest. I adore them on CD. Adore as in I'll pay full retail adore. I like being read to, I guess.

I would never read the Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child Pendergast novels, but the versions on CD I love. Partly, of course, my adoration is a function of the narrator. Tim Curry in the former case and Rene Auberjonois in the latter. It's not just that, though. I need to be able to follow. It needs to be lively. Violent is ok (the Preston/Child books are certainly that), though not necessary or even sought.

All of which brings me to the current phase. I'm listening to the Number 1 Ladies' Detective novels by Alexander McCall Smith narrated by Lisette Lecat.

The stories are lovely, hearkening back to the feel of Miss Marple, but with Botswana, rather than St. Mary Mead as the setting. It's a long way from one place to the other, but the feeling is similar even if the time and place are different. Mma Ramotswe, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, and Mma Makutsi are all fully realized characters, but realized in a gentle way that feels at once old fashioned and comfortable. My grandmother, a great fan of the "soft" mystery, would have loved the series.

It's funny, I think, when things make you nostalgic for places you've never seen. But the tone (and narration) of the books is such that I find myself wistful for the Botswana that was.

I find myself wondering about going there.

In case you wonder too (and who wouldn't?), South African Air (a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your United miles) flies frequently from Johannesburg to Gaborone. Delta now offers direct flights from Atlanta (if you can get to Hartsfield-Jackson given the traffic) to Dakar and then on to Johannesburg. The flight to Jo'burg is about $1800 and the flight to Gaborone is 1880 Rand. (That's $270, just so you don't have to look it up). By the by, $100 will get 628 Botswana Pula.

We should put animals on our money, too. Not eagles, though. They're overdone. I'm thinking squirrels or pigeons. Maybe deer and possum, too.

Anyway, if anyone wants to join me for a trip to Gaborone, let me know. We should rent a tiny white van like Mma Ramotswe's and see what there is to see. I'm hoping to see a Hoopoe or two.

If you're not up for a Southern African excursion, and you like a soft mystery of the old-fashioned type, narrated exquisitely, try the series out. It may make your commute a little brighter, too.