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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sporks and Sporksforall--A Conversation

Sporks:  Hey blog, how are you?

Sporksforall:  Sporks!  WTF, woman?  Where've you been?  I'm good.

Sporks:  Oh, really sorry about the inattention, blog.  Thanks for just hanging out.  Been kinda busy, you know.  New job.

Sporksforall:  Wow, Sporks.  You're a Dean?

Sporks:  Actually, no.  See that sentence toward the middle:  "Most have several assistant or associate deans as well (such as an associate dean of academics or an associate dean of students)."  That's me.  Associate Dean Sporks.

Sporksforall:  Pretty cool.  Takes up a lot of time, does it?

Sporks:  Yep.  What have you been up to?

Sporksforall:  Oh, mostly handling random searches on rancid oil.  One cool thing you know about, though.  You know our picture of the nene foot?  It's going to be exhibited at the University of Hawai'i, Manoa.  Best nene foot picture ever.  It's also the top hit when you search nene foot on Google.  Pretty awesome.

Sporks:  Yep that is superveryawesome.  I'm going to get to see it.  Teresa and I are back to Hawai'i later this week.

Sporksforall:  Which islands?

Sporks:  Same as last time, Hawai'i and O'ahu.  Going to miss the Obamas, though.  Fine with me actually, as I'm mighty irritated (ok, royally pissed) about the Rick Warren thing.

Sporksforall: Yep, pretty awful.  Hey, so with all this going on--the Associate Deaning and the trip to Hawai'i--what are you doing chatting with me?

Sporks:  Oh, well, I have a few days between a trip to Atlanta and the one to Hawai'i where the Uni is closed.  First downtime in months.  Figured I'd just check in.

Sporksforall:  Ah.  You been up to anything in the downtime?

Sporks:  Organizing, actually.  I know, I know, not usually my forté.  The new job has made me appreciate a little organization, though.

Sporksforall:  I see.  What did you organize, then?

Sporks:  Glad you asked.  First up (yesterday) was the bathroom. See, I had gone to L'Occitane for a little hand lotion and on the way home, it occurred to me that I should survey my ablutions.  I couldn't survey my ablutions without also going through the other items in the nightmare that was the bathroom cabinet.  Want to see the results?

Sporksforall:  Sure.

That's the L'Occitane lotion in the silver tube.  Here's a close-up of the lotion/hair/tooth shelf.

Pretty nice, huh?

Sporksforall:  Yes, because I saw the before on that, and whew.

Sporks:  I know.  Emboldened by my success, when Teresa and I went out last night to Target, I bought two shoes hanging things for my closet.  They're AMAZING!

Sporksforall:  Really, you're going to talk about hanging shoe things as if no one ever used or thought of them before?  Really?  Look on ebay.  They have ones from before you were born.

Sporks:  Whatever.  You want to look?   Seriously, look!

Sporksforall:  I admit it looks nice, but come on, it's not like you're the first to discover closet organization.  I mean, The Container Store has been around for a while, now.  Remember when you went to it before going off to college?  That was a WHILE ago.

Sporks:  Ok, ok, I know.  But it's like the woman I heard on NPR the other day talking about how she had discovered how centrifugal force works.  Just because someone else discovered it before she did, doesn't mean she didn't also discover it.  Do you see how happy that woman on the main page of the Container Store website looks?  She's feeling what I'm feeling.

Sporksforall:  Ya huh.

Sporks:  Oh, hey, you know what I got at REI last night?  It's not organization-related...

Sporksforall:  What?

Sporks:  A new spork!  It's made of aircraft alloy and has a darling little carabiner.

Sporksforall:  Nice.  Hey--what's the red spot on the package?

Sporks:  Blood.  I cut my hand trying to get the cute little carabiner off the package.  But, guess what?  I managed to fix myself up really quickly and efficiently.  Wanna see how?

The first aid shelf!

Sporksforall:  Ok, ok, good for you.  You got yourself all set up.

Sporks:  Well, not really.  The worst job I saved for last.

Sporksforall:  That's pretty horrifying.  Maybe you should get back to work.

Sporks:  In due time, in due time.  I should probably go now--there's something productive to be done.

Sporksforall:  Ok, thanks for checking in.  Hope to see you soon.

Sporks:  2009 will be a better blogging year, I think.  Now that my shoes have slots of their own, I'll have all kinds of time.  Take care.

Sporksforall:  You too.  Hey, want to talk more about rancid oil?

Sporks:  Probably not.

Sporksforall:  Oh well, just trying to work from strength to strength.

Sporks:  Yep.  Let's work on nene feet more then.

Sporksforall:  Sounds like a plan.


Sporks:  Psst, Sporksforall--want to see the after?

Sporksforall:  (Sigh) Sure.

Hey, that is pretty good.

Sporks:  Thanks.  Oh, and a tip (we should all channel our inner-weese every so often...)  keep your extra bicycle tubes inside (lower left).  They'll last longer if the temperature is more controlled.

Sporksforall:  I'd care about that if I had the ability to ride a bicycle.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Really? A grocery store? Yep.

So, it's been a bit.  And I got married.  And I have a new job which is interim and I'm hoping will be permanent in a couple of months.  It's really hard and I work a lot and am tired a lot.

Also, We got our yard done and lots of work on the interior of the house.  Did I mention we got married?  Oh, and then there's that whole election bidness in a couple of days.  No on 8, k?

But, friends, I'm here for a short while today to speak about a grocery store.  Yes sir.  Yes ma'am.  All those other things, they take time and thought and care.  This is just about happy in the 'hood.

I'm not the first to notice.  Sandra Tsing Loh, who I would probably follow into the fiery pits of hell should she ask, noticed. Twice.

I don't know where Loh lives in the part of the Valley she refers to as "The Nuys" to give it new cache.  But I'm close to Fresh and Easy.  Remarkably close.

Today, my spouse slash wife (of two weeks) slash partner (of fourteen years) and I went there.  Oh it is a bright place.  With Jam.  And chips that taste like Doritos.  Except, and here is the clincher, they're SPINACH and ARTICHOKE kinda-Doritos.  Maybe I should have told you to sit down before I told you that.

It occupies a space that used to be a Ralphs.  Not a good Ralphs.  just a ralphs.  It's not any longer.  Soy milk.  Fresh fruit.  Teeny pies.

It may not be love, but color me intrigued.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

Fresh and Easy

It's a neighborhood market.  In my neighborhood.  My my.

Hugs and kisses and lots of foons,


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Elusiveness of Invincibility

As I sat down to write this post Biscuit threw up in the other room. It was the yellow frothy kind of dog vomit. Many years ago, when I had just taken "companionship" of my first dog (as an adult) an older friend assured me that, "yellow frothy dog vomit wasn't anything to worry about." While that may be true in the abstract, I could have lived without it tonight.

I've been away from the blog for a while, though my sporks-based Wall-E review has kept sporksforall humming along. Very much like Wall-E himself.

I don't know if I'll return to faithful blogging through aught eight. I want to, but life gets in the way of sporks.

I've started a new (interim-again!) job as of two days ago. Four years ago when my boss hired me to be the interim thing that I'm now the permanent thing, I got sick. So sick that during the networking event with the University President, I stayed in my hotel room at the Marriott with fever and chills.

This year we did our slog/sling through the South early. I came back and have managed to get a massive cold (including fever and chills) and a nice case of laryngitis. Did I mention that my new job requires talking? It does. And I just don't sound right

I mentioned to my boss that I had been sick the last time she gave me an interim job. She said, "I remember. Maybe this job change thing is more stressful than you think." Could be, indeed. Also stressful is travel. And bombardment.

My favorite day of the "sling" is always the day Honey and I escape to the closest Spanish Moss draped city. Our usual escape is Charleston, but this year we went to Savannah.

As my few (and loyal!) readers know, I like me a National Park and will take a National Monument in a pinch. Thus, did I drag Honey to Fort Pulaski on Tybee Island.

Not brushed up on the Civil War of late? Here's what happened. Fort Pulaski was started in 1829 to protect Savannah. (Tybee Island is 15 miles from Savannah). Savannah has always been an important port/city to Georgia and is one of the oldest cities in the Southeast. Note, please, that its importance is in no way related to Paula Dean.

Anyway, this being the 19th century and engineering being what it was, not to mention it's bloody hot in the South in the summer, they didn't so much finish the damn thing by 1860. South Carolina (a mere fifty miles away) seceded from the Union in January of 1861. Georgia followed suit and the governor ordered the occupation of the fort. The state then gave it the Confederacy. How kind. Lessee--"we'll take this from the gumment (that's how you say it) and give it to this other gumment. Yep."

Righto, so in April of 1861, the War starts in earnest (you knew that right? April 1861 to April 1865) and the Naval blockade of Southern ports began.

Here's the thing about Pulaski. The folks who built it: they thought it was invincible.

By November 1861, the Federals were encamped at Hilton Head and the Confederates got worried about that and abandoned land forces on Tybee EXCEPT for those at Pulaski. Whoopsie.

The Federals marched onto Tybee. The Confederates in Pulaski though they were safe. The guns of the day only went a mile and Pulaski is more than a mile from Tybee. The Union fellows, though, they had this new gun. Those Federals, always with the new guns. Must have been that industry infrastructure. They shot up the fort. Seemed like they might get to the powder magazine. 30 hours into the siege of the invincible fort, the Confederates surrendered.

The National Park Service notes, "Today the fort serves not only as a memorial to the valor and dedication of those connected with its construction, bombardment, and defense, but in a larger sense as a history lesson on the elusiveness of invincibility."

I hope you can see that I get it. Not invincible.

I did survive that week and may yet survive my cold, my laryngitis, my new job, and my own vulnerabilities. I am certain, though, as certain as I can be, that invincibility eludes me. And I've never run very fast. Mofo needs to slow down and shows no sign of it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Spork review: Wall-E

Ok, I won't effuse too much, but the first 30-45 minutes of Wall-E (and I think this despite the-really-full-of-kids-who-didn't-get-that-they-were-watching-a-silent-film theater) was some of the best filmmaking I've ever seen.  So, go see the movie.

I need to take a moment to do a special shout-out. The movie featured one of the best EVER scenes featuring a spork:

Wall-E collects things he finds interesting and takes them back to his "house." He finds a spork. When he goes to put it away, he has a collection of spoons on the right and a collection of forks on the left. After puzzling for a second, he places the spork between the forks and the spoons with great reverence.

Sporks deserve their own place and it should be special.

This maxim is NOT true of foons.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mapping the void

It's been such a long time since I wrote a post that my browser didn't autofill my blog address. I guess it can be said that sporksforall exists on its own without care from me, but my Google Analytics reports seem to suggest that it exists in such a state as to prompt a series of empty-answered philosophical question about whether something that doesn't get looked at has any meaning at all.

Word to the visitor from Midvale, Utah who spent .56 of a second on the site. I don't think my mouse clicks that fast.

Actually, to be fair, that seems to be the minimum unit of time Google Analytics calculates, so my Midvale, UT readership exactly matches my Decorah, IA and Fayetteville, NC readership. Also Arlington, VT. S'up y'all?

I shouldn't complain, I suppose. Someone from Riga, Latvia has spent more than four minutes learning about sporks or nene or something. And I'm hoping the one minute nineteen second someone from Male in the Maldives was deeply meaningful to them. Sporksforall--perhaps now meaningful in the Maldives!

The map on Google Analytics is my favorite feature. The numbers are depressing and what I get hits on focuses more than I want it to on elephant seals and their Latin name. The map, though, gives these nice green emphases to people in their offices or on their laptops coming my way.

I heard recently about this thing the new iphone does called "document cloud" wherein one floats documents in the ether to be retrieved as needed. I pictured (as I think I was supposed to) floating excel spreadsheets--transparent and ephemeral--gently bouncing along at chest height.

The Google Map, on the other hand, makes me think of all those people in real space finding their way to me. California is dark green. I'm most "popular" there. Some states that are medium green I can explain (I have blog friends there, I said nice things about Miss Washington, etc.) Others puzzle me. I might explain away Nevada's darker green color by physical proximity, but New Mexico is pure white (meaning no folks from Truth or Consequences--or anywhere else in our 47th state--have visited my blog at all). I should note, by the by, that I typed in New Mexico's 47th place in their joining of the union and then confirmed I was right (which I was). January 16, 1912 was when it became a state.

Anyway, my lack of readership MIGHT be explained by New Mexicans still being mad because I didn't initially understand that I actually had to surrender the hideous chili pepper wreath at the agricultural station. I had bought it in a moment of irony, I swear. I also gave it up willingly, and am still glad I did. Irony stops being ironic at a certain point, after all.

Hey Germany, how is it that Google thinks you are UNDER 0 seconds as an average time on the site? Negative time visits seem so, well, contrary, not to mention improbable. I took "German for Graduate Students" while I was doing my PhD. What more do you want from me. Bring it UP to 0, ok?

Anyway, wherever I go, you'll find me here.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Ok, so more than one person has recommended yoga to me.

My buddy Shannon even has gone and gotten herself certified and everything to teach it. Dallas readers? Look her up, yo.

Anyway, Associate Professor (with tenure!) Treecup and her family belong this fabulous place out where they live that's kind of half spa half really nice gym.

Honey and I went with Treecup and child a few weeks ago and as we were walking out, we picked up the fitness class schedule and noticed that Saturday morning they offered a class called "yoqua." We all assumed it was yoga in the water and talked about our coming out to try it out one weekend. Treecup and family live about 45 miles away from us, which is no small jaunt when you're trying to get to a 9am Saturday morning class.

We had plans to go this morning that looked in danger of getting derailed because Honey has a cold. Treecup suggested that she and I go and check it out sans partners.

I got up really early this morning and picked her up in time to make it to "yoqua." I'm working up to feeling comfortable enough to try actual yoga and I figured I would try it in the water first. I'm fairly buoyant.

It turned out that the yoqua instructor had quit and not taught anyone how to teach it before she did so. We got "aqua fit" instead. We were the youngest people in the class and neither one of knew that the default fashion accessory was a visor and very large sunglasses.

For an hour we sort of jumped around in the water. It was fun and I liked our chatty instructor, though her chattiness was, to me at least, an indication of how not aerobically challenging this class was. I should also note that there was no yoga centering or anything what with the Katrina and the Waves we were jogging in the water to. "Heels down, ladies!"

Afterwards we spent some time in the jacuzzi. I am a little sunburned, so maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge the bevisored.

We did some cardio, had nice spa-like showers, and then went to lunch. In other words, a very nice day, but I'm no closer than I was yesterday to yo/qu/ga.


Monday, May 12, 2008

What you get

I've lately been hankering for an iPhone. My current cell contract is up July 19th, not that I've got it down to the day or anything. I'd like to keep my number and not pay an early termination fee, so I have not yet gotten an iPhone. Still, I keep saying things to Honey like, "an iPhone will save my life." A colleague at work has one and today I was sitting next to her in a meeting just staring at it. I think it winked at me.

Yesterday, Honey wanted to shop for clothes. I do not like shopping for clothes. At all. Not even a little. Even for clothes for someone else. While she was shopping for clothes, I tried to occupy myself. I first went to the Sharper Image going out of business sale. To say that they were picked over three days from the end of their existence is an understatement. Fixtures and gift boxes and Star Wars poker sets and some REALLY large binoculars sat around in a store that was filled with despondent looking retail clerks for whom I felt sorry.

I then wandered into Body Shop, where I discovered that they have again decided to break my heart and discontinue the bath gel I love the scent of. The world of retail has littered my life with products that I can't live without only to then require me to live without them. Oceanus joins Coke Blak and original Fresca and Nike Long Ball Slip Ons and...

I bought some Ocean Lilly and can say definitively that it is not the same.

Finally, rather than shuffle into Old Navy and act despondent while Honey tried on clothes (though that would certainly come later), I walked into the Apple store. Oh, it is a bright and shiny place. Not in the Hemingway sense. In the bright and shiny and lovely sense. I looked at the MacBook Air. I wished (yet again) I had waited to buy my iMac until after the silver ones came out.

Finally, as if pulled by some unseen force, I found myself playing with an iPhone. Then, feeling strong and brave, I put it down and walked away. As I walked back over to the iMacs, I thought I'd mess with them a little. And, lo, there was a new product about which I did not know. It was a new Apple keyboard. It was silver and had no tiny crevasses in which bagel crumbs might lurk or lodge. It has pleasing slightly offwhite keys. And they clacked satisfyingly as I typed. I turned without another thought and picked one up. As I headed to the counter to pay, a bright and shiny Apple employee asked if I needed anything else. Did I ask him about an iPhone? I may have. Was I a little relieved when he said that they were sold out? I may have been.

As I finally shuffled (perhaps a little less despondently) into Old Navy to find Honey, I clutched my new keyboard in my hand like a beacon. And tonight, as I type on it, I can say that sometimes what you get is ok. July 19th will come. In the meantime, I have clacking. It's unlikely to save my life, but it's still pleasing.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Those dark mirrors

I've never been a big fan of Paul.  You know Paul, right?  The guy who wrote all those letters.  The ones in the Bible?  That Paul.

Despite my general distrust of him, I always liked this painting depicting him.

That's Caravaggio's The Conversion of St. Paul which hangs in a small chapel in the back of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome.  I'm a little bit of a freaky fan of Caravaggio.  He's always seemed, well, funny to me.  Don't you just get the sense the the horse is looking at Paul like, "What the hell are you doing on the ground?  You know I poop down there, right?"

I spent a semester in college in Rome and wandered around from church to church with my very worn Michelin guide to the city.  Always a bit of a completest, I saw every Caravaggio in the city.  It wasn't a singular obsession, I also saw every Borromini church in the city.

That's St. Ivo della Sapienza.  I like how wavy it is.

Anyway, back to Paul.  I don't much like to say what he has to say about women, among other things.  I should note that I come by my dislike of him perhaps somewhat organically.  An ancestor of mine was so enraged (relatively late in his life) about the Pauline perspective that he resigned his ordination to the ministry and began writing books trying to debunk the various epistles written by Paul as heretical.  The demand to publish these tracts was rather small, as you might expect.  So, he opened up a vanity press to publish them himself and kept it going with others' projects of the same type.

Despite my dislike of Paul, I've always liked one verse.  Really, half of one verse.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face."  That's 1st Corinthians 13:12, if you want to know.

That was the King James version.  Here's the New International version:

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face."

Same basic idea, though the "through a glass darkly" is the bit I like the best.

I've always connected it to the Platonic allegory of the cave.

"Behold! human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets."

The difference, really, is that Paul makes promises.  He suggests that at some point, we will see clearly.  Which gets me back to not liking Paul--how can I believe in the clarity when the rest of it seems so suspect?

So, art, ancestors, philosophy, and religion aside, what's my point?

I don't like how what sometimes goes on in my head seems disconnected from reality.  I keep trying to turn my head to see what's reflected, but it's always just out of view.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The consequences of rancid oil

Last night I made us dinner while Honey vacuumed.  There is a freedom in the detached ranch that we never had in the apartment.  Vacuum anytime, night or day.  It's not a freedom I treasure or think about much, but it is a freedom.

I made us chicken curry and rice.  For some reason, the smell of the curry didn't appeal to me.  Honey tasted it and pronounced it fine, but I decided to doctor up mine with some soy souce and chili oil.

I was munching on my warmed up flatbread, which was tasty, and began to eat the rice and pieces of the chicken.  The chicken still tasted off to me and then it dawned on me that the chili oil was rancid.

Rancid is a very unappealing word.  Also an unappealing oil condition.

I stopped eating and for the rest of the evening felt a little (as my grandmother would have said), "puny."

I went to bed early.  When I woke up this morning, I felt compelled to brush my teeth again immediately.

I sleep with ear plugs in to keep dog noises out of my head when I sleep.  I don't like ear plugs, but there they were, all blue and squishy and shoved in my ear.  I started to brush my teeth.

Brushing my teeth with an electric toothbrush and ear plugs rates as one of the oddest sensations I have ever experienced.  So odd I had to come blog about it.  It made my head feel as if it were vibrating independently of my body and might just float away.

The magical head vibration was a totally unexpected consequence of eating rancid oil.  Who knew?  Not that I'm going to repeat the chain of events, but I may just brush my teeth with ear plugs in on occasion when I need to slightly realign how my head and body fit together.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What's left over

OK, fair warning...

This post is about poop and pee. Really. So, if that's going to gross you out, may I suggest pineapples or nene? Those posts don't involve poop at all and are escapist besides. Imagine yourself in Hawaii. See, isn't that nice?

For those of you who are ready for poop, here we go:

As I have pointed out on more occasions than most people would ever want to hear, we have too many pets. It's not that any one of them makes for "too much." Rather, all sixteen paws add up to more paws than our four feet can manage.

Let's have a roll call, ok?


Ah, there she is. 14 years of fussy but sweet kitty.


Oh, look Halo brought her meerkat lovah, in somewhat the same way that Dawn Denbo brought her lover Cindy everywhere on The L Word this season. Actually, it's not really the same. Halo and the Meerkat only had the one tryst and it was documented on my trusty Rebel. Halo is going on six and is a svelte six pounds.

Biscuit? Scout?

We've been calling Biscuit "cockerdome" recently because the last time I got her groomed (really, shaved down, but it makes me feel better to have spent $50 on something called grooming than on something called shaving), I asked that the groomer to leave the top of her head alone. I wanted it left alone because it sometimes can be formed into a forelock that makes Biscuit look like a member of Spandau Ballet. We may have sung (in her "voice") "True" a few times.


Doesn't she kind of look like the guy on the left?

Anyway, the groomer said, "oh, you want me to leave the cocker dome." Thus, Biscuit has become "cockerdome." We may have noted on an occasion or two that she is "beyond cockerdome." Ok, that was my only Mel Gibson reference, I promise. Biscuit is four.

Scout, the most junior member of the quadrapeds, is going on two. He still has a touch of puppy mange and is one of the sweetest dogs I've ever been around.

So everyone is accounted for. Lovely.

Lately Calif has cemented her status as "pet most likely to put waste in inappropriate places." We have one rug that gets washed with so much frequency that the washer must really feel bonded to it. Whether this plot loss is a function of senility, spite, or some combination of both can only be known by the Calif litterbox committee of one.

A few weeks ago I was wearing my slippers and Biscuit came up and started to gently remove something from the bottom of the sole. When I jerked my foot away from her, I noticed a dried piece of cat poop. I had cleaned some up earlier in the day, but must have missed this one (by conveniently stepping on it and fusing it to my slipper). I immediately threw those slippers away. It wasn't a great loss. Still.

Biscuit manages to absent herself appropriately, but her devotion to cat poop as a snack may exceed her devotion to the squeaky football. We call it almond roca. Did I ruin almond roca for you just now? Sorry.

Halo mostly does as she should litterbox-wise, her destructive tendencies are more claw than waste based, so I need to give her some props. Ha-lo. Ha-lo.

All of this brings us to Scout. We were out-of-town last week and Scout and Biscuit went to "dog camp." When Honey brought them home last Saturday, he ran into the house and lifted his leg and peed on the side of the couch. Since then he's peed on the kitchen trashcan twice, my bathroom rug once, and I stopped him from peeing on one of the chairs in the living room. All this from a dog we got housebroken in two days. We've got theories (adolescent male dogness, a bladder infection, kennel-based psychosis, and inaccessibility of preferred backyard pee spots because of yard overgrowth). Whatever the cause, he's making me unhappy.

Last weekend, while doing yard work in the aforementioned overgrown backyard, I found poopland. I shoveled and shoveled. There were hundreds of poops that had previously been obscured by the overgrowth.

All of these pet waste issues compound my frustration over the continued, but not catastrophic, malfunction of our champion toilet.

It won't stop running. When your champion toilet isn't functioning like a champion, it may be emblematic of a larger problem.

There are no simple solutions to managing waste. Therefore, I suppose that my wish for everyone is that your waste management goes smoothly. In the meantime, if you're looking for me, I'm probably washing rugs, coaxing a toilet into stopping, or frolicking in poopland with my poop slippers.

Thus endeth the poop post, appropriately enough, in poopland.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thoughts on two city traveling

I'm back from my travels. Here are some thoughts of a Monday morning in reference to the U.S. cities I visited.

#The Atlanta airport has too many words in its name. (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport)

#Delta is still the best mainstream air carrier. I heart me some Lance crackers.

#Captain's wafers with cream cheese and scallions eastbound. Whole wheat with cheddar westbound. Mmm.

#My dad's classic car is cool, but the gas fumes made me a little sick. Did people stay a little sick from gas fumes all the time prior to catalytic converters?

#It's weird that one of the best Philly cheese steaks I've ever had (and yes, I've had them in Philadelphia) is made by people from the Indian subcontinent at a strip mall in Atlanta.

#Getting from Atlanta to San Diego by way of LAX is a pain in the ass, but my Honey made it seem easy.

#Should you have occasion to stay at the Sheraton Marina in San Diego and the front desk person says, "we'll put you in the Bay Tower," please know that you will be in an entirely different hotel. And it will sucketh.

#Downtown San Diego looks a lot like Waikiki. Too much like it, really, only cleaner, less crowded, reachable by car, and with fewer one-way streets. There are fewer street performers, unless you want to count drunk people.

#Petco Park is a great place to watch a ballgame. There are no pets there. The food was good for ballpark food. None of it was kibble.

#People should not be preparing to be stupidly drunk at 8pm. The Gaslamp district was full of people whose paths were clearly about drinking a lot then getting arrested.

#Boring conferences are boring.

#Hard cider at a cool Irish pub will help make the boring conference go away. Leave early, though. (cf. drunk people)

#There are a lot of places that sell fancy cheese in San Diego.

#Most of them also have fancy jam. The jam will probably be more fancy than you want, if your jam tastes are anything like mine. The jars will be pretty, though.

#Did all the cheese stores used to be book and record stores? What will happen to the cheese stores when someone figures out how to internet market fancy cheese?

#I'm glad to be home.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Travel details

It's easy enough to get lost in the details. Is my airplane seat where I want it to be? Is my ipod charged and loaded with things I'll like? Do they have my Starwood Preferred number?  Which suitcase should I take?  Can I deal with how stupid the van for Parking Spot is?

Without descending into another "travel used to be better" reverie, my fixation on the details has made me wonder about what it was like when the details didn't matter.

I think sometimes about what it was like in those long sweaty summers where I had to go the Baptist "day camp." There was little to look forward to, really, given the Baptist (at least the ones who ran the camp) tendency toward, "go play in the creek and catch crawdads if you can." These Baptists were not so much into structured day camps. Trapped by the creek for days on end, the very idea of traveling seemed better than Christmas. We'd get in the car and drive to the beach. I looked forward to it, despite strong evidence that it wouldn't be as fun as I hoped. Because my brother and I couldn't get along in the car, one of us would often be banished to the "way back" of our VW station wagon, underneath which was the engine. In the South.  In the summer.  Without air conditioning. Still, a trip was a trip was a trip and at least I didn't have to go hang out with the Baptists for a week.

Next week, as you might guess, I travel. I travel from one coast to another and back and then down this one some away from where I live.  I've worked the details. Somehow, I can't access those feelings of anticipation  I used to have. I try to comfort myself that this trip will involve no time on top of the engine of a mid-1970s Volkswagen 412 station wagon.

Still I can't help wishing it felt a little less like staring into green water looking for the crawdads I could never catch.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A tale of flames and boxing

When I first started my current job, I took on a fight. I meant to take it on, but I didn't have any idea how outmatched I was. I got beaten up, knocked around, threatened, and told I was ruining civilization itself. In sum, I lost. Badly.

Recently, I encountered a problem to which I offered a simple solution. Here's the rub; the problem occurred in the same arena as my lost fight. I knew I was stepping close to the edges of that fight, but I had allies now, knew where the punches were likely to come from, and really wasn't starting up the fight again.

Last night, I found out that the old opponents, unbeknown to me, had stepped into the ring and started punching me. To say I was angry was an understatement.

Sigh. I miss Madeline Kahn.

Anyway, I was furious. Flames on the side of my face furious.

There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, I hate more than having my integrity questioned. Nothing.

It was being questioned. Beaten up, really.

I thought about what to do. I backed up and looked at what I wanted to have happen. The problem is not solved yet, but I pushed it out of the boxing ring and sent it down another road. I have back-up. I have firepower. I haven't yet used my fists or my guns, but they're loaded and ready. (Am I taking this metaphor too far? It's all rather martial, admittedly.)

Four years and a lost fight can make a difference in perspective, but I also think I've gotten pretty good at what I do. Late this afternoon, in another context entirely, a guy I'd been having a little trouble with of late, came up to me and said something really nice just because it occurred to him. I know external validation is fleeting. In that moment though, with this other issue on the road I prepared, I felt good.

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you figure out what you're good at and somebody lets you do it. Still and all, if someone can tell me how to protect my integrity from attacks, I'd be grateful. Bubble wrap? Plastic couch covers? Maybe it needs boxing gloves?

It's real--my integrity--even if not everyone can see it. That is also true of my invisible friend.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


A couple of summers ago, as is my wont, I traveled to the beach with books I had carefully selected over the course of several months. As is also my wont, I didn't find any of them satisfying as beach reading. The level of my restlessness at our annual beach trip with my family would rank high on any machine designed to measure such things. I'd love a machine of that type for myself. I could tune it on on various people and see how tense/restless/about to flay their skin off they were. It would be much easier that reading the tension in the corners of people's eyes.

Anyway, the place where we usually go to the beach has just the one bookstore and prominently features authors from the South Carolina lowcountry. (It drives my copy editor Honey wild that there is no consistency in how one "styles" (as she would say) those two words referring to the swampy beachy part of the more southern of the Carolinas). I'm not a big fan of most Southern writing, post, say, Yoknapatawpha, so the lowcountry fare wasn't going to do much for me. I chose, instead, a book called The Ruins. I didn't like it, which was a pleasant serendipity for Honey, who promptly started it and then recounted the plot to me when she was done.

I liked her telling of it much better than the 30 pages or so that I read of the book itself. Now, if you pay any attention to the current movie releases, you'll know that it has just been released as a film. The LA Times review described it as: "depressingly inert and blithely gruesome." The basic story of the The Ruins centers around killer ivy that eats you inside out.

Killer ivy should not be confused with Poison Ivy.


That's Poison Ivy.


That's killer ivy that eats you from the inside out.

I think I ended up reading a Spanish novel whose name escapes me right at the moment at the beach that summer.

Flash forward to this morning. I sometimes read the Sunday paper in what we call "the middle room."

Aside: does everyone have these kinds of labels for rooms? When I was growing up we referred to one room in our house as the "green room" even though it wasn't. I do understand it had been at one point.

Anyway, Honey and I are two people with many more pets than we need. We also have more bedrooms than we need. The "middle room" is a very small bedroom that we've turned into a sort of denette. I like to use it sometimes to escape the various technologies in my life. So, this morning, I retreated into it to read the paper. I was finishing the travel section (always my last section--paper section preference sorting is important to me) and I rolled my head around on my neck as I sometimes do.

As I did so, I noticed a vine. A vine. IN THE HOUSE. Poking out from under the blinds. Killer ivy. In the retreat room. It had grown THROUGH the window. Ok, really, it had grown through the gap in our 50 year old windowsill, but still.

Ten minutes of mild effort and I pulled all the ivy off the side of the house and Honey got the inside ivy into the trash can.

I'm not sure what lesson to take from all of this Sunday drama. One, lesson to be learned certainly focuses on using the middle/retreat room more and scouting it for unauthorized plant life more often. Another is that neither Honey nor I should really be allowed to own a home if we can't control our ivy.

Finally, for those of you who see me IRL, could you keep an eye out? If I start looking like that girl in The Ruins, help me somehow. Calling me "depressingly inert" might be a place to start.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I feel as if all I'm doing lately is complaining on my blog. Might as well continue the theme...

Can anyone explain to me why I keep getting little cuts on my hands?

I've eliminated the glass-shards in my soap dispenser theory.

I moisturize regularly.

Are little cuts on hands also a function of turning 40?

I'm not going to start wearing gloves.

I band-aid and disinfect them.

Some cut causes are known.

Others cuts simply appear.

My hands are less than pretty, what with the cuts, the band-aids and the little teeny scars.

I have not started a new job in a razor blade factory.

Ok, maybe gloves.

Any other ideas?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What I asked...

Versus what she heard...

Thursday morning, I put on a new shirt. I woke Honey up and asked if the shirt was too sheer. I handed her her glasses and turned on the light behind me.

She thought I asked if the shirt was too short.

Confident in her answer, she said no.

At no point did I think the shirt was too short.

It was, however, too sheer.

I spent half the day with my jean jacket on (despite the 78 degree SoCal spring day). The other half I spent with my office lights off.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sleep, on not getting enough

It may be a sign of getting old, but I find myself increasingly unable to sleep through the night. Honey has always maintained that I am truly amazing in my ability to get to sleep in the first place.

Lately, I've been waking up in the middle of the night. For a while, I wrote it off to pee needs. Go ahead, I'd tell myself, pee and the you'll drop right back off to sleep.

I really don't want to get too reliant on non prescription sleeping pills. Drugs are bad. Nancy Reagan said so.

Truth is, though, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I become acutely aware of discomfort. My ears hurt from the ear plugs I wear because of the dogs. My arms hurt because I tend to fall asleep with them underneath me. My brain comes alive with it's weird loopy patterns. Song lyrics have dominated lately. I rarely get back to sleep.

I still haven't solved the sleep number crevasse problem. (And before anyone asks, no I didn't call them back, despite their offer to help. I don't have the information she asked for and can't really get it--given that we have the "cheap ass sleep number" (or CASN).

So, for now, it's going to have to be Advil PM or Simply Sleep. I'd blame this all on my recent transition to my fifth decade, but since it predates that, I'll just assume it's some kind of karmic punishment for, well, bad karma.

Point of post, for those who like such summations:


Thank you, that is all.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Last week, I took our extra microwave out to the garage. We had acquired it through abandonment, along with an immovable hutch from the estate of the previous owner of our house. We didn't actually need two microwaves. This one had begun to make odd noises and it needed to be abandoned by us. (Shouldn't twice abandoned appliances simply vaporize?)

It's former space is now occupied by two coffee burr grinders and Honey's coffee pot. We're such coffee geeks. She's been drinking decaf since her brain went a little jazzy on her in our visit to the fiftieth state. I acquired a second burr grinder for us, so our coffee consumption can continue unabated. To be clear, in addition to the burr grinders, we also have a filtered water drip coffee maker (for her) and a espresso pot and the magical wonder that is the aerolatte for me.

I thought about our coffee as substance this morning, when I received from the fine institution I work for the updated campus guide to a drug free workplace. I dutifully clicked through and was greeted by our policy and a list of the substances in question that might be abused. They also provided, quite handily, a chart of their nom de narcotics. For example:

COCAINE/CRACK (Blow, bump, C, candy, Charlie, flake, rock, snow)


ALCOHOL (Beer, wine, liquor, malt liquor, booze, juice, sauce, hooch)

They also listed the effects of these substances on the user. Back to cocaine, or as I now think of it, bump:

Irritability and depression

Impaired decision-making


I excerpted but have all three of those things. Hmm.

On Wednesday, I was home a little early, impaired, apparently, by my use of Charlie, though I don't recall actually encountering it. I heard a ruckus outside. I went out to find that some kids had been playing with some safety glass that had been left deposited outside our fence. Sigh. I love our neighbors so. Anyway, the kids had moved the safety glass into our driveway. However "safe" it was, I didn't want to leave it there for my Honey to drive over when she got home. I fetched our broom and dustpan and began to sweep it up. Seemingly out of nowhere a woman appeared.

She seemed pleasant and said she had seen the kids playing with the glass. I mumbled something about the joys of our neighborhood. She offered to hold the dustpan for me. I tried to demur, but was unsuccessful. When I looked up at her, I noticed she was crying.

It turned out that she was on her first day as a door to door salesperson for a cleaning product. "No one cares," she said to me.

She wanted very badly to demo the product for me, which she claimed to "clean anything" including our picket fence. Why in the world would I want to clean our picket fence? Answer: I wouldn't.

I have a long history of feeling bad for people like this and she was throwing the works at me. She said something about how tired she was, how lonely she was, that she had tried to quit at lunch, and then there was that "no one cares" mantra. The product, she said, was environmentally friendly. I asked what was in it. She didn't know, but said it was biodegradable.

I tried valiantly to extract myself. She said her supervisor was picking her up at 7pm. She would just wait for him and smoke a cigarette. If I wanted to check out the ingredients of the product online, I could decide what I wanted to do. She asked for a match or a lighter. When I said I didn't have one, she cried a little more and said she wouldn't smoke the cigarette after all.

I went inside. Let the dogs into the house. I looked up the product. No ingredients listed on their website either. It had SUCH a generic name, it was practically ungoogleable. My choices? Stay inside and feel bad for her. Go back outside, give her a check for $64 for a gallon of crap I didn't want, need, or know the make-up of. (Did I mention that the product was SIXTY FOUR DOLLARS?!) I thought some more. When faced with either/or choices, I like to try to think if there is another choice. I remembered that we had been given a lighter in our Advocate 40th Anniversary gift bag. I had proposed throwing it away. Honey, in her wisdom, had urged keeping it. I found it (it was gift boxed!) and went outside. I gave it to the saleswoman and wished her luck.

So, despite my current seeming abuse of some substance or another (if symptoms are any indicator), I was pleased to have a moment of clarity. Now, if I can just figure out what drugs to take to counter-act all these other symptoms...


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Um, eww

Teresa told me yesterday about a friend and colleague of hers who used to be subjected to his mother's one and only dessert recipe which involved bananas and Miracle Whip (and water and sugar).

All day, while trying to make some sense of the mess that is my office, my brain loop (and my brain is VERY loop-rific right now) keeps slinging by the banana/Miracle Whip combo. Brain loops drive me crazy. They seem to have gotten worse as I've gotten older. I worry sometimes that in 20 years or so I'll only be able to think about one thing. Corn Flakes. An episode of Cheers. Poppies. While I'm not focused on any of those things right now, if you had told me 24 hours ago that one (of several) of my current obsessive brain loops would be bananas and Miracle Whip, I'd have laughed. I never know what road signs my brain will think to linger by.

I just Googled bananas and Miracle Whip and came up with a large hit total. 244,000 hits. Many of which recipe.

I loathe Miracle Whip, by the way, so I'm doubly horrified at the idea of two hundred thousand web sites that concern themselves with it vis a vis bananas.

The additional problem with this loop pattern is that it inevitably leads me down food free association roads best not traveled.

Peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches (which I have been offered on multiple occasions).

Pimento cheese.


Tomato mucus.

Goose grease French toast.

I could go on. Given the current state of my brain, I probably will internally.



Friday, March 14, 2008

Lost goodness

Ok, a quick Friday thought...

I heart Lost. Really really heart it. Need to watch it again from the beginning heart it.

Also, I heart Elizabeth Mitchell. She's so dreamy.


She's my tv girlfriend. Teresa said it's ok to have a tv girlfriend and she's mine.

(To be clear, I have now claimed both Elizabeth Mitchell and Sequoia National Park. Entitlements that are meaningless=fun.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Six words

The Misanthrope over at Toner Mishap, bless his heart, tagged me. I feel so, well, touched. In a good way.

Herewith the rules:

1. Write your own six word memoir

2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like

3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere

4 Tag five more blogs with links

5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Herewith the picture:


What kind of secret could Halo tell the stuffed meerkat?

Herewith the bio:

Paddled canoe early. Map still evolving.

Herewith the tags:

Everyone. I really can't think of anyone who has a blog I read whose six words I don't want to read.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Pineapple phun

"Pineapple princess", he calls me pineapple princess all day
As he plays his ukulele on the hill above the bay
"Pineapple princess, I love you, you're the sweetest girl I've seen"
"Some day we're gonna marry and you'll be my pineapple queen"

So sang Annette Funicello some time ago. My honey channeled Ms. Funicello as we approached the Dole Pineapple Plantation.

O'ahu was not, to be real for a moment, my favorite of Hawai'i's islands. We only visited the two. It came in second and I suspect would continue to sink down the rankings had we visited more. Do you remember how Casey Kasem used to disparage songs as they slipped down the chart? Really, he was criticizing us, his listeners, for letting it happen to the songs. I always found it off-putting. How was there room on the chart for "Leader of the Band" if "Heat of the Moment" didn't slip off? Hmm? Didn't think you had an answer.

I can just hear Mr. Kasem saying, "last week this island was at number 2, but now that Kaua'i has surged, O'ahu drops to number 3."

At any rate, with O'ahu holding steady at #2, Honey and I explored its offerings. In the middle of the island, we discovered (the maps and signs helped quite a lot) something that NO ONE else knows about. They have pineapples on O'ahu. Dole does. Pineapples. Can you imagine?


They've had pineapples there for over one hundred years.

Ok, seriously, the Dole Plantation was cheesy in just the right way.


It featured the above shown pineappletunities. Notice that my level of excitement was such I could not keep my hand still enough for my point and shoot camera to focus.

Beyond the maze, train, and garden, there was a ginormous retail facility. They even had "Dole Radio" (on which Mr. Kasem was not featured). Dole Radio kept promising pineapple cutting demonstrations and Honey and I kept going to try to find them. It was all for naught. There was no cutting of pineapple. What there was was a tremendously long line at the end of which one could purchase pineapple ice cream and the like.

We confined our pineapple shopping to pineapple memorabilia.


(Sample only, not an actual purchase).

I was thrilled at the level of pineapple crap. It was really beyond measure. It certainly outstripped the macadamia nut people in terms of square footage and variety.


Actually, to be fair, we bought plenty at both nutland and pineappleland. Honey has been sporting a nightshirt that I bought her that says, "I got totally nuts on the Big Island of Hawaii" and I may have some mac nut socks. Nutland wins over pineappleland in the crucial sampling area, too. They'll give you nuts at Mauna Loa. At Dole, they keep announcing the aforementioned phantom pineapple demo and sampling. We stood under the sign that said "Pineapple Demonstration" alone and unwanted.

All was not despair, though. There were pineapple "costumes" to try on!


Notice, please, that I purchased a Dole hat and immediately put it on. Shame did not walk with me in O'ahu. Pineapple fun walked with me instead.

My excitement over the Pineapple Express can only be described as extreme. A small train. Pineapples. I channeled my inner six year old, that is if my inner six year old had $15.50 extra to spend on a 20 minute train ride. She didn't, so my outer 39 year old had to pony up.

I'm sure you're dying to know what happens on the Pineapple Express. You see pineapples!


Also pineapple topiary.


Plus, there's pineapple narration on the Pineapple Express, wherein we learned that James Dole's real claim to fame (besides buying the whole island of Lana'i and turning it into a big pineapple plantation) was canning pineapples.


Good to know that some genius at Dole thought that pineapple should be artificially sweetened. Pineapples aren't sweet on their own. Not even a little bit.

Interspersed with the narration, we were treated to musical interludes. Guess what one of the songs was?

"Pineapple princess", I love you, you're the sweetest girl I've seen
"Some day we're gonna marry and you'll be my pineapple queen"

We may have sung along.

Getting off the train, we were given our only pineapple sample. It may have been the best pineapple I've ever tasted.

We toured the pineapple garden. The way they grow is amazing. They're heavy, you know.


This one had grown itself a nice head of pineapple leaves.

There were some regrets. We discovered a two-for-one Pineapple Maze coupon in our car rental map after we had forgone that attraction. You already know about the pineapple demo lie. We didn't see Pineapple Pete.


We also didn't see the lady with him.

The truth is, though, it was a rockin' pineapple time. So good that since we've been back I've worn my hat, Honey has worn her pineapple shirt. Our Pineapple Pete magnet is featured on our refrigerator between the lava magnet and the Nene magnet. We've bought two pineapples. We've sung "Pineapple Princess."

O'ahu is holding steady at #2 because of the wondrous pineapplepertunities.


As [I] plays [my] ukulele on the hill above the bay...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A moment about states and their flags

A co-worker of mine has a t-shirt on today. The banner on it says Hawaii (no apostrophe).

Below is this image:


Um, no. Na-uh. Nope.

T-shirt people, you're going to need to try harder. My co-worker, to her credit, seemed sanguine about the state mix-up on her shirt, when I pointed it out. (She was, no doubt, thrilled to have me, her boss, point out the error on her shirt. Thrilled all day long.)

Had I not just gotten back from Hawai'i, I wouldn't have known what the Hawai'i state flag looks like. I still would have known that the image was all kinds of wrong. Last time I checked tweren't any palmetto trees to be found in our fiftieth state.


How colonial of you, Hawai'i.

The palmetto one is South Carolina. There are palmettos there. It's a thing.

It all reminded me of the moment on Miss America: Reality Check where Miss Pennsylvania couldn't find her state flag.


Look! I found it for her. (To be fair, she did have the good grace to be chagrined afterward).

The Hawai'i/South Carolina t-shirt is what we get for outsourcing. How is someone in a third world country to know that the palm looking tree is a palmetto and has nothing to do with Hawai'i? Maybe it's because of how my mind works, but I like knowing random stuff. Not all the random stuff. Just enough that the world makes a little sense sometimes.

Knowing my state flag and noting the ones of states I visit seems the least I can do.

My honey, as a child, participated in a school performance in which a piece called "Fifty Nifty United States" was featured.

A lyrical interlude...

50 Nifty United States
from the 13 original colonies
50 nifty stars on the flag
that billow so beautifully in the breeze

Each individual state
contributes a quality that is great!
Each individual state
deserves a bow
Let's salute them now!

In alphabetical order, the kids were to shout the name of the state whose flag they were holding and raise the flag in the air. She was to be holding New Jersey. She left the flag in the cloakroom. Quoting Honey directly, "...[W]hen New Jersey's turn came, I remained quiet rather than drawing attention to the fact that I had no flag, hoping no one would notice the omission." In other words, they just went straight from New Hampshire to New Mexico. Here's my compensatory raising of the New Jersey flag:


In case you're interested, and even if you're not, here are the states I have not yet visited. My criteria for a visit? I must have at least stopped to see something somewhere in the state other than the airport. I'm on a roll, having gotten to Colorado in '07 and Hawai'i in 08.

The missing ones are: Idaho (scheduled for '09--Gem State, here I come!), Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington. I should note about that last one, that in addition to my strong support of this year's Miss Washington, I regularly have dreams (like while asleep, not figurative "I-wish-I-had-been-an-astronaut" kind of aspirations) about going to the top of the Space Needle. I have NO idea why. Feel free to share out in comments how many missing states you have and/or your interpretation of my Space Needle dream.


I'll be learning the flags as I go.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Geese of Hawai'i

I went to Hawai'i to look for geese. Truth be told, I did not know when I departed that this would be a goal. Goals sometimes come when you don't expect them to.

Many people go to Hawai'i for many reasons. Scuba. Snuba. Pineapples. Macadamia Nuts. Volcanoes. Coffee.

I experienced several of these activities. I bet you didn't know pineapple could be an activity. It sure can. Details to follow.

But, oh, the geese.

They were MY thing. I am not a birder in the classic sense. I have bird books and binoculars. I own mutliple bird feeders. But, I can't recognize bird songs from the tree, have to look twice at small brown birds to determine if they're house finches or house sparrows. Bottom line, I guess, I like birds and like looking at them.

Upon our arrival to Hawai'i--I know it's confusing, but I'm talking about the island (as in "the big") not the state (as in all of the islands)--I discovered that we would be near to an area where we might see Nene. Nene are Hawai'ian geese.

Ok, let's get a something straightened out before I continue. Despite, my initial inclination, as a native speaker of English from the southeastern part of these here United States, the name of the bird is pronounced "neh neh" not "neen." I still kind of want to call them neens, but I am being all Hawai'ian and shit (notice my use of the apostrophe!) and know it's "neh neh."


There were lots of signs about Nenes. Don't feed them, don't hit them with your rental car, don't let your dog chase them. Nenes themselves are rare. At one point there were there were tens of thousands of Nene and then humans did lots of stupid things and they died out to the brink of extinction. Fortunately, there has been an concerted effort to bring them back and there are now between five hundred and three thousand Nene on three of the Hawai'ian islands (Maui, Hawai'i, and Kaua'i). Most are there as a result of captive breeding programs, though the ones on Hawai'i are often the offspring of wild pairs.

I have a soft spot for geese. I tend to prefer water birds to other kinds of birds and geese are, to me at least, the Goldilocks kind of bird. Not too big, not too small. Just right. I have complicated animal aesthetics, which often involve statements like "a good amount of white" (which accurately describes our cat Halo and none of our other pets). Geese are right in the animal aesthetic wheelhouse. So, when you tell me there's a kind of goose that almost died out, has specially adapted feet for walking on lava, and has a name as good as Nene, I'm going to be goose seeking. With abandon. Aplomb even.

We asked the helpful people at our B&B where Nene might be seen. They suggested the golf course. I then asked the ranger at Volcanoes National Park where to see some and she suggested the Hilo zoo. Um, no, I don't think so. I want "wild" Nene, thanks very much. So, off to the golf course we went.


There were four pairs of them hanging out on the 18th hole. Honey and I laughed at first, thinking this was a sign of how easy it was to see them. They were nibbling on grass and having a Nene good time. One even showed off his lava foot for me. Yes, it was for me. I was the only Nene picture taker there. Other people were using sticks to hit little white balls around. I know who had the true Nene love; the person who got shown the Nene foot.


Nenes mate for life, by the way.

I was in Nene bliss. I figured we go back to the golf course a few (dozen) more times and I commune with these eight Nene and all their friends. We did go back to the golf course several times. No more Nenes.

I was feeling a little Nene bereft as we headed off to go coffee tasting. Honey had promised that one of the coffee places had geese, which she and I both assumed were Nenes. What other geese are there in Hawai'i? Nenes are the Hawai'i state bird, by the way. Do you know what your state bird is? I'll wait while you go look it up. See, you're learning LOTS of bird facts today. (In case you're wondering, my state birds have been: Brown Thrasher, Baltimore Oriole, and California Quail). At any rate, we get to the coffee place in question, Mountain Thunder, to discover that they have two kinds of geese on the farm, neither of which Nene. Still, geese are geese and I'm ready for my close up. One kind of goose hangs out down in the coffee tree area and the other wanders more. The nice folks inform me that they may come by to be fed. We're enjoying our coffee sample and watching Mountain Thunder on Dirty Jobs when the wandering goose family presented itself (minus one, who is incubating eggs).


The owner told me that a visitor had told her they were Toulouse geese, but I'm pretty sure they're Greylag geese. At any rate, they were really fun. They honked some and threatened me when I stood near them for a picture. The threat was the large male sticking his neck out and opening his beak a little. They also got into a goose fight. How many times have you seen a goose fight while sipping really good Kona coffee? I didn't think so.


We interacted with the geese for a while, bought coffee and descended thunder mountain with the rental car shuddering from the strain of the descent and Honey and I jittering a little from all the coffee and goose goodness. It was probably more coffee than goose.


I had read in my Hawai'i (the state) bird book, that there were no Nene to be found on O'ahu, our next destination. I wanted another Nene fix. The next day, we were headed out for turtle viewing and I saw a sign that said "Nene 750 yards." I immediately began mumbling about all the bullshit Nene signs that promise more Nene than they can deliver. Then, I saw...


Nene on the side of the road. I pulled over quickly (not dangerously). Honey and I circled the Nene so I could get more pictures. This caused the Nene to moan. Really. They don't honk so much as moan. Watch this video for the sound. The effect was, "leave me alone, you stupid mainlander."


I persisted in taking pictures, though. Finally (from their perspective, not mine), we left them alone.

I tried a few more times to see Nene. None were in evidence. Still, if there really are only 500 Nene, my ten Nene worth was 1/50 of the total. This seems like a pretty high proportion, given that I certainly didn't make up 1/50 of the visitors to Hawai'i (either the island or the state) last week.

My advice when traveling? Get your goose on.

Nene up.