Friday, May 29, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I just love the way he leans

I have this thing where I name my electronics after whatever I'm reading or watching when I purchase them, and while this system will never bring me to the genius level of my friend Mark who named his flash drive "warp", it is nevertheless the reason my iPhone is named "Jordan Catalano".

And I totally forgot about this reference until I sent a book to my Kindle app.

This is cruel because we all know Jordan can't read.

Also not a lilac bush

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why Would I Read the Label?

So I stuck this to my fridge and when I cleared everything off this weekend, it left this:

Nope, it won't come off-- not even when I soak it in bleach. Lovely parting gift to my landlords, yes?

Monday, May 25, 2009

An Update From Abroad

Simon Says:

"Highlights of trip in chronological order:
1. Went through customs with Ethan Hawke
2. Ate Cornish pasty in Cornwall
3. Got ankle-deep in cow poo in the Lake District"

Here's hoping she comes back smelling like something other than the Fields of the Lake District.

And More

Friday, May 22, 2009

Jacaranda Blooms

The most wonderful time of the year.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

And Most of Them Were Miserable

I can tell you that even if I wasn't happier, I was certainly more punctual when this was working.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Test Shots

Hello folks, I am not really here but I figured out this nifty way to automate my posts, and I just happen to have 47 pictures from the Lilac Festival that you probably need to see or else your life won't be complete.

But first, some test shots.

I bought this new camera specifically in January so that I would have four months before this trip to figure out how to use it. Four solid months. And when did I read the manual? Last Tuesday. And what did I find out? This is quite a decent camera for something that is smaller than my hand.

Please say hello to two old friends, and a very small turtle:

Hmm. Aside from the fact that you should not wait four months to read the manual that came with whatever new thing you got, what have we learned in this post? Before you take close-up test shots, you should dust. Please don't anyone let on to Cordelia that I put a picture of her on the internet with dust all over her head. She is so vain about things like that.

Please enjoy the pictures of flowers and trees that you'll be seeing every other day for the next two weeks. It'll be like a blog AND a course in botany at the same time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Give Me a Blizzard Any Day

In the middle of my never ending art project-- the one involving and xacto knife, nail scissors, regular scissors, a fork, a hot iron and a first aid kit-- this hit:

You can tell me how great California is for the weather and the... well, the weather, but seriously, not once during a snow storm have I ever thought "should I grab my books, my laptop, or the tote bags I've spent four consecutive days piecing together if the building starts to fall down?"

Friday, May 15, 2009


So I ate 3.5 pounds of raisins in about six weeks. I finished exactly one day before the expiration date. I was really proud of myself. Then I looked in my refrigerator.

Next challenge: find a way to use a nearly-full bottle of ketchup before May 23.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In The Middle of a Project That Needs "Tweaking"

I started an art project yesterday and it's proving to be very labor intensive. I'm using all my craft supplies to make this work-- scissors, exacto knife, paint, roller, cutting mat, first aid kit, tweezers and a fork. I'm also employing a 150 square foot roll of freezer paper. When this is over, the unused portion of the roll will play a key part in my next project-- how to use 120 square feet of freezer paper before you move to New York City.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When I am Queen*

In preparation for my upcoming trip to the UK, I hauled out the horde of cash that I had left over from my last visit, and discovered to my great disappointment that I had only £3.85 and an Oyster tube card. I have about fifteen euros, but alors, I am not going to France. That's a lot of egg-and-cress sandwiches that are no longer essentially free. Sadness.

Anyway, I was looking through them trying to remember what-all sorts of coins those folks have (weird ones), when I noticed something about the queen's profile: she ages. I'm used to George and Abe and Tom, who, as far as I'm concerned, have always been dead, and never needed updating. (Except for that time they went and made some of them better-looking.) Point is, it never occurred to me that having a living monarch represented on your currency would pose certain problems. Such as the fact that they would need to change.

Exhibit A: Something goldish from between 1974 and 1984

Exhibit B: 2p from 1988

Exhibit C: 20p from 1998

It is one thing to look at yourself in the mirror every day: unless you're really self-obsessed, the aging process will presumably seem nice and gradual. But imagine if someone called you up and said, "Your Majesty, look, it's no secret you're getting a bit jowly; we've really got to update the currency or people won't recognize you on the coins." Okay, fine. But of course they cannot repossess all the coins of Young You and replace them with Jowly You, so every time a new portrait is released, all people have to do is dig around in their pockets and compare a couple of coins and say, "Christ, she's getting old, isn't she?" I mean anyone looks reasonably good represented on a shiny hunk of copper-clad steel, but I'm sure even Her Royal Highness suffers from vanity on occasion.

So I've decided that when I'm queen it shall be a royal decree that my likeness shall never be represented over the age of 22, and I shall not be opposed to handsomifying it. If it's good enough for George Washington, it's good enough for me.

*In fact, Prince William appeared in one of my dreams last night. Unfortunately: (1) he was for some reason a member of my extended family, (2) he was late, and (3) he was wearing a huge hat with a giant feather in it that I thought was frankly a BIT MUCH. I did not like him at all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This is what you see

photo by Saldy

when you drive out to the inland valley and climb up 8,000 ft.

Fun fact: you may won't have cell service at the base of the mountain, but once you get high enough to find snow, you can call your mom and wish her a happy Mother's Day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Naples has an Abundance of Buckets

Unlike Angelica, Naples is not named for anything very exciting, has no connection to Alexander Hamilton, and in fact has little interesting history to speak of, except possibly for the fact that in 1790 the white settlers told the Seneca they had twenty years to get out. There is no level on which I do not find that baffling.

When I was skimming histories of Naples online (there are a grand total of two), I ran across this paragraph, which I found very disturbing: "While there has not been made any attempt to organize an elaborate fire department in the village, the enterprising citizens have provided a good serviceable engine, hose cart, truck, and an abundance of buckets. This equipment in the hands of interested residents and all working unitedly, has thus far proved equal to any emergency." Then I realized it was written in 1893. And obviously they now have a fire department because they have these all over the place.

Fact I did not know: fire hydrants are painted purple when their water source is non-potable. Same goes for white. These hydrants should not be licked.

There seemed to be a higher than average number of fire hydrants. At first I thought I was just noticing them because they were not yellow. But then I saw this building and it all became clear.
The entire town is waiting for this pile of dry sticks to go up in flames, and they want to be sure they've got enough non-potable water on hand to put it out.

Perhaps to make up for the constant threat of fire, someone at some point had the good sense to plant flowering trees all along the main street, which looks awfully nice:
Fact I did not know: Trees with pink blossoms are not potable.

This is a random view from the parking lot.
I don't know what those buildings are and have nothing to say about them. Maybe it's where they used to keep the abundance of buckets. Either way, my guess is, not potable.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A New Era

We'll see how it fares in the wilderness this weekend.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Alphabet Juice, the Good Parts Version

I have just finished Roy Blount Jr.'s Alphabet Juice, which I have been reading for approximately my entire life. Or, if you want to be accurate, about six weeks. There's so much wordplay it takes three times as long as normal to get through a page.

Alphabet Juice is about words and language, and RB's opinion of or observations concerning certain individual examples. It's made up of alphabetized entries, which range from mishit (entire entry: "Should be hyphenated, for decency's sake"), to mansuetude (which he thinks should be "put out to pasture"), to names, famous, whose correct pronunciation is so narrowly known that if you use it, you'll seem wrong. The examples in the last category aren't that great, but it reminds to complain about the lack of pronunciations given for the more unusual words. I do not, off the top of my head, know how to pronounce prothonotary. The first example listed in Merriam Webster is pro-THON-uh-tayr-ee, which is not how it sounded in my head.)

Anyway, my experience of reading this book has confirmed my belief that I would be a terrible book reviewer. Although I am a proponent of making notes and writing in margins, I hardly ever do it. While I was reading this book, I made an effort to at least mark the pages that contained some particularly interesting factoid, but I find I do not have the willpower to condense it for you in a way that will be at all helpful to your understanding of what this book is really about. Basically I am just commenting on a few of RB's comments. Good luck!

Page 31: This page is largely about the history of the word avocado. Why did I mark this page? Possibly because this is where RB tells us that See you later, alligator translates in French to À tout à l'heure, voltigeur which means See you later, acrobat. But on the same page it says avocat du diable means, in French, both devil's advocate and devil's avocado, which is equally interesting and may have been why I picked it. I think what we can learn from this is that French is fun, and my memory is bad.

Page 81: "Buck . . . in 'pass the buck,' is short for a buckhorn knife, often used in frontier poker games to mark the dealer." I did not know that, but I have a feeling everyone else did.

Page 104 or Page 105: Again, not totally sure why I marked this. Perhaps because the French for the making of, as in DVD extras, is Le Making Of. I'm starting to wonder whether RB is Le Making This Up.

Page 119: This page describes a hat that has three sides, which has printed on it, one per side: I MAY BE WRONG, or IT IS FIFTY TO ONE BUT YOU ARE, or I'LL CONSIDER OF IT. This comes from a 1765 satire called The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, which I now want to read.

Page 133: I have no idea why I marked this.

Page 145: Here is a problem I have with this book. RB goes into the history of I on this page. I as in the pronoun. He says this: "The Old English for I was ic. Not good for self-esteem. In the Middle English period it evolved to ich, pronounced itch. 'Will you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?' 'Itch will.' Not a good start." No, I'm sorry, but no, that is ridiculous. First of all, according to what I was taught, ic was already pronounced itch in Old English. And second, you can't judge a thousand-year-old word that is no longer used by the standards of modern English. Or at least, you can't do it in front a former Anglo-Saxonist who is incredibly sensitive about this kind of thing.

Page 158: I marked this, I'm sure for a very good reason. Which now escapes me.

Page 187: Marked solely for the, of course, French phrase: Faut pas pousser Mémé dans les orties. Which means, Don't push Grandma into the stinging nettles. Seriously. Don't do that.

Page 195: RB shows his friend some ferns in his yard. His friend, unimpressed, suggests that he plant anemones. Roy does not say, but wishes later that he had said, "With fronds like these, who needs anemones?" *snort*

Page 210: Here RB speaks of a word he coined: antepenultimatum. He says, "It's when, for instance, you're absorbed in something outdoors, and you hear your mother calling, 'For the last time, come in for supper,' and you know from the tone of her voice that you really will absolutely have to come in, not this time, and not the next time she calls you, but the time after that." I like it.

Page 275: Sonicky. Before I get into this, let's go back to page 104 for a moment, because I remember why I marked it now. On 104, RB dismisses the word for foot in eleven languages, opting for the modern English. None work as well, he says, as "foot: f for the sensitive cushioned padfall of ball and heel, oo for the aloofness of the arch, and t for the tip of the toe pushing off." This is an example of a sonicky word: a word with a sound that is evocative of its meaning. Like finicky, which is not onomatopoeic but sounds finicky. Interesting, but I have three complaints. One, foot is not remotely sonicky to my ear/brain. Two, the claim of sonickiness so difficult to substantiate that it seems to me that the word is unable to concretely signify anything, and is therefore not a useful word. Three, I am surprised that a guy who is so sensitive about words is so fond of this one. Not only is it ugly, but its meaning is entirely subjective.

Page 335: Entry on we. "When someone presumes to includes you in a we you don't want to be part of, as in 'We got ourselves into this,' here is something you can say: 'Whaddya mean, we? You got a frog in your pocket?'"

Even though some of this book was utter nonsense and/or wishful thinking, it was all interesting. Sometimes I felt like a Classicist listening to an English professor lecture on the Iliad, but overall I quite liked it. And as anyone who has heard Roy Blount Jr. on NPR will already know, it is probably a fantastic audio book.

P.S. I realize that *snort* is not a valid comment, but much of the time I can't come up with anything more specific.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Someone once told me the only reason people eat escargot is it makes an excellent vehicle for drawn butter. I feel many foods exist only as a vehicle for their condiment counterpart... Tortilla chips would have no purpose without salsa. French fries would be obsolete without Ketchup. Last night was Cinco de Mayo and I bought a fresh Cholula for the occasion. Tacos, chips, guacamole, rice and beans were our feast, and within an hour, two girls managed to consume a third of a bottle of hot sauce. It was only later I realized this food could also be categorized as a vehicle for stomach ulcers.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Gravel Pit

I'm way behind on things here, so we're having a flashback to mid-April, when I was dog-sitting. The weather was rather nice, so the dog and I took a walk down to the gravel pit. You may remember the gravel pit from this 2005 post. The one about how there were hyenas living in it. Or coyotes. Or a chupacabra. And my mother tried to feed me to them. Or something like that, I don't remember exactly how it goes. Anyway, the scary Brotherhood-of-the-Wolf creature(s) have apparently moved on, and now the gravel pit makes me think not of a gory death but an alien planet.
Obviously this alien planet would look a lot like earth, and would have speed limits, and they would be represented in Arabic numerals, but it's still a weird place. There is something fundamentally wrong about an enormous hole in the ground. It feels like a drained lake.
Or maybe it's just that I've never actually witnessed anyone working there. For most of my childhood a lot of crashing and beeping and Caterpillar noises came out of there, but whenever we walked down to look at it, there were no people, only enormous piles of gravel in peculiar formations. I imagine it feels about the same to wander around an ancient stone circle: it's manmade, but it doesn't really make sense.
Maybe what creeps me out the most is that it seems like it might spontaneously fill in at any moment. Obviously that's ridiculous, but a good many things that are ridiculous happen anyway. I'm just saying, the dog and I kept our wits about us.
Well I did, anyway.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Light My Fire

R.I.P spork.
I wish you had died doing something heroic, like digging through the stone walls of a prison. There's nothing romantic about breaking on a piece of tofu.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Ready, Set, Go

The number one rule of blogging is never blog about your job.

Eh, well.

When I am not at work, my mental image of the physical place-of-working is this:
I did not buy the plant, the Mardi Gras beads are from before my time there, and I have no idea where that picture came from, but it glows in the sun, and I must have looked at it about four thousand times and thought, "That's pretty," followed immediately by, "I wish I were outside."

Now that I am no longer an employee, my mental image of working will probably focus on this:
That's three years and eight months of to-do lists. Otto (hi Otto, if you're still reading this, I'm sorry I left you) suggested that I bind it and save it so that I can look at it on days that writing is going badly, sort of as a deterrent.

I considered that carefully.

But in the end this was more satisfying:That's three years and eight months of to-do lists in the recycling bin.

This is my workplace now.I have an appointment there on Monday at 6am. My new boss is real stickler.