Saturday, December 31, 2005

Post-Christmas at Chez Trailhead

Whaddaya know, here we are back home after a week gone. TK has discovered that his remote- controlled motorcycle is an excellent way to terrorize the Trailhead Dogs (thank you, Bloggerdad). We were going to leave for Montana this morning, but a quick check of the family kitty revealed that we had spent the farm to go back to Indy, and should probably retrieve the Trailhead Dogs from the kennel forthwith, or we might not be able to get them out of hock at all. Oops. So, no Montana for us.

Air travel yesterday was more annoying than usual. TS found himself on the random and mysterious special-enhanced-double-secret-probation-security list, which added a bit of a delay. While we were waiting to check in, I suffered my own little humiliation involving a bad left ankle that, thanks to two sprains in one month a couple of years ago, sometimes gives out for no apparent reason. While standing in line, I made the mistake of expecting that ankle to actually bear my weight, and promptly did a face plant in front of the hordes of holiday travelers. I landed on a sharp part of TK's car seat buckles, and now have a lovely black and blue pattern on my upper thigh.

Then we were delayed getting out of Indy to our Chicago connection. This, along with the fact that our luggage missed the connection that we made by running balls out through O'Hare, got us home at the decidedly unpleasant hour of 2 a.m. Pacific Time. This was all the more unpleasant since we had adjusted to Indianapolis time, and so it felt like 5 a.m.

But you know, it was a good trip. We played many games of euchre, saw cherished friends, and ate like Hoosiers. And now we are home, enjoying our many wonderful Christmas gifts, and about to spend New Year's Eve with some of our oldest and most intimate pals. All things considered, I can't think of a more auspicious start to 2006.

See you next year, everyone.

The Essential Guide to Living Well in Indianapolis, Or, Trailhead's Hometown Favorites

This post is about Indianapolis. I left my native city for the upper left-hand corner of the country a little over a year ago. Exploring a new place is fun, but inside information is good. Though India-no-place is perhaps not everyone’s destination of choice, it abuts one of the fastest-growing counties in the U.S. (Hamilton County, sigh.) There are, in fact, people moving to Indianapolis, and not just away. So, to all those who have googled themselves onto this page, my intent is to provide you some of the information I would want if I were moving into a new area. And I mean that quite literally – this post is about my favorite places in the city, and may therefore bear little relation to what you are interested in. But if luck would have it that we have similar preferences, read on.

I moved away from the city in 1993, and went south to Florida, and then to North Carolina. I returned in the late 90’s to take a job as a newly minted litigator at a large Indiana law firm. I left again in the fall of 2004 for the Pacific Northwest. I’ve found some jewels in my new home – a French Provincial restaurant here, a riverfront seafood place there, and a Chinese garden with a teahouse just over yonder. But a holiday visit to Indianapolis reminded me of all the places I enjoy there. And so, this post is born. There is very little here on the east or south sides, because I never spent much time there. Most of the places I include here are north, west, or central.

I ask my Hoosier readers – acquainted or new – to include their favorites in the comments section if they are not present in my post. A caveat: please avoid chain stores and restaurants. (Any new resident of the city can do an internet search to find out where the Outback Steakhouse is, God help them.) I will probably update this post as places I’ve forgotten about occur to me or I pull up suggestions from the comments section. Where I’ve not been able to include links, I try to provide an address. If there’s a link, check it out for locations or directions.

I think it goes without saying that this post is solely about my favorite spots, I make no representations about what your experience will be like at any of these places, and I’m not affiliated with any of them in any way.

Restaurants, Multiple Locations:

Bazbeaux, Broad Ripple and Mass Ave (downtown): Gourmet pizza. Their vegetarian pizzas are deeply satisfying. Though I don’t know if they still offer this service, I was once able to order pizza dough to go. We did this for parties occasionally. They have a good whole wheat crust, too.

Yats: Cajun-creole food. As my father-in-law would say, it’s so good it’ll make your tongue beat your brains out for more. The succotash sends me into paroxysms of orgasmic joy. There are always at least a couple of vegetarian options on the daily menu. As of my last visit (12/2005), they didn’t accept credit cards, so have cash.

Puccini’s Smiling Teeth: Clearwater (Keystone), Geist, North Willow. Good Italian food. Puccini’s also has a hearty dinner salad – a rarity anywhere – with always fresh greens, bell pepper, tomatoes, black olives, onions and shredded mozzarella cheese.

CafĂ© Patachou: One of my favorite breakfasts. It’s usually a long wait if you sleep in, but there’s coffee available at the counter while you’re waiting to be seated. I like the granola, but my most frequent dining companions love the omelettes of the day.

Shapiro’s: An authentic delicatessen. I’ve been going to Shapiro’s since I was knee high to a grasshopper (this was a Bloggerdad favorite too). I used to love the German Potato Salad and the sandwiches. Even though I’m vegetarian now, I can still find things to eat here. And their desserts are stellar.

Le Peep: A reliable breakfast favorite, Le Peep could be called a chain restaurant, but it’s not ubiquitous enough to be excluded here. Their granola-crusted French toast is shockingly, wonderfully decadent. But just plain eggs and peasant potatoes are worth a trip as well.

Restaurants, Broad Ripple area and surrounding environs:

Mama Carolla’s Old Italian, 1031 E. 54th Street: Great Italian in a vintage house. Long waits, so go early.

Shalimar: Indian food. Their biryanis rock.

Broad Ripple Brew Pub, 840 E. 56th: The Brew Pub has a lot of vegetarian options, including an awesome vegetarian sloppy joe. Though I’m not a beer fan myself, my beer-loving companions advise me that there are plenty of good selections here.

Restaurants, Northside:

Salvatore’s, 1268 W. 86th Street: Good Italian.

Chang Fu, 3905 W. 96th Street, #400: Small Chinese place in a strip mall north of I-465 off Michigan Road. Great lo mein and vegetarian egg rolls.

Hollyhock Hill: Downhome Midwestern comfort food in an older house off Meridian Street, served family style.

Restaurants, Downtown:

India Garden, 143 N. Illinois Street: India Garden has a reasonably-priced lunch buffet every day. The buffet was running about $7 at my last visit. The nav rattan curry is delish. (I believe there is also a Broad Ripple location, but I’ve never eaten there.)

Elbow Room Pub & Deli, 605 N. Pennsylvania Street: The veggie burritos are tasty and substantial, and the atmosphere cozy.

Ameer, 222 E. Market Street (in the City Market): Tasty middle-eastern food. The green beans, cauliflower and potatoes over jasmine rice is my favorite.

McNiven’s, 339 Massachusetts Avenue: Scottish-American restaurant, owned and operated by my sister’s ex-boyfriend. Want real haggis? Go here. They also have standard American fare for the faint-hearted. See the Citysearch entry for McNiven’s here.

Bertolini’s Authentic Trattoria: Circle Center Mall. Back when I worked for the firm and it was part of my job to squire prospective associates on interview lunches, this was one of my favorite spots. Good Italian food, and the atmosphere is uppity enough for business lunches. Try the rosemary flatbread.

Dunaway’s: I made a bet once with my supervising partner at the firm. Winner had to take the other – and our secretary and paralegal – to lunch at Dunaway’s. I won. And am I ever glad I did. The food here is fantastic.

The Oceanaire Seafood Room: I don’t consider this a chain restaurant, even though it has locations in a few other cities. The seafood here is expensive, fresh and impeccably prepared. The crab cakes are sublime. I don’t have the words. Just go.

Stars Sandwich Market, 116 N. Delaware Street: Many different kinds of sandwiches, all made daily and very good. I like the asian noodle salad, too.

South Bend Chocolate Company, on the circle: This isn’t really a restaurant. But on a blustery, ugly winter day, stop in for a hot chocolate. Oh. My. God. These people know how to do hot chocolate. It’s as thick and creamy as you can get without just drinking pure melted chocolate.

Miscellaneous Establishments I enjoyed or found useful:

Deb’s Produce, 2030 E. 52nd Street: This is a seasonal produce market, and one of my favorite places in Indy. No sooner do you walk under the tent covering than one of the employees is slicing off a piece of fresh cantaloupe, or carving up a pear and feeding you the slices. When I was pregnant, I developed a relentless craving for fresh fruit. I could blow $50 a week at Deb’s, especially on hot days.

Once Upon a Child: There are several of these stores in Indy, all of which buy and sell gently used children’s clothing and toys. A great resource.

Rusted Moon Outfitters: A local outfitter and good alternative to big box outdoor stores, Rusted Moon is located in Broad Ripple, right off the Monon Trail.

Good Earth Natural Food Co.: If it’s natural, vegetarian, or otherwise ethical, it’s here.

Global Gifts, 1468 W. 86th St.: Volunteer-run store featuring fair trade items from artisans around the world. Read the Indianapolis greenmap project entry here.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Brief Holiday Sabbatical, and Google of the Week

We're leaving at the crack tomorrow to go back to Indy for Christmas. I still have the last bits of packing to do. This is a grim state of affairs, considering midnight is approaching rapidly.

I will leave you with this last morsel: yesterday, someone in Italy landed here at Trailheadcase after googling the words, "kidnapped bound gagged need to crap."

I will avoid, for now, pondering in any detail what that says about the quality of my blog.

Happy Holidays everyone!* See you next week!

*Except you, Bill O'Reilly. You can fuck off.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Woohooooo! A New Meme!

For a number of reasons, I've been out of the blogworld for several days, but Rose has managed to draw me back in with one of blogging's most delightful guilty pleasures, the meme. So here it goes:

What were you doing ten years ago?

Ten years ago I had just finished law school finals and graded onto law review by scoring in the top 5% of my section. (Yep, today is the today for shameless self-promotion, dammit.) Alas, TS had just received his first master's degree, and we had about three dollars in the bank account. So when he received a job offer in North Carolina shortly before Christmas, we knew we should probably take it. I made a huge leap of faith, took a semester off law school, moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina in January, and transferred to Duke University School of Law the following August.

What were you doing one year ago?

Preparing to head back to Indy to move all of our stuff out to Oregon and get the house ready to sell. We had moved to Oregon after TS got his MBA and a job out here. You know, I'm sensing a theme here.

Five snacks you enjoy:

1. Trader Joe's spicy flaxseed corn/soy tortilla chips. Yum.
2. Starbucks coffee almond fudge ice cream.
3. Anything sweet and/or loaded with carbohydrates. I'm hopeless.
4. Hot chocolate from the South Bend Chocolate Company.
5. My signature trail mix: assorted nuts, raisins, dried cranberries and a couple handfuls of Cracklin' Oat Bran.

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:

This question doesn't really work for me. The same freakishly strange memory that lets me remember twenty year old conversations verbatim also allows me to know the lyrics of pretty much any song I've listened to multiple times. Yes, this is creepy and bugs most people I'm close to. Especially my husband, who can't remember what he had for lunch two days ago.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

1. Pay the goddamn sun to come out occasionally during the winter here.
2. Purchase off-the-grid crash-pads in strategic locations: Montana, Indy, Georgia, and the Florida Keys.
3. Eat at Waffle House once a week and leave $100 tips.
4. Spend a lot of time making sure my son doesn't develop the obnoxious sense of entitlement that seems to afflict so many rich kids.
5. Be broke again within five years.

Five bad habits:

1. Like Rose, I am a cuticle mutilator.
2. Staying up too late.
3. Not finishing things I start.

Five things I like doing:

1. Cuddling up with my kid to read, or watch Thomas the Tank Engine.
2. Anything with my husband except paying bills.
3. Nature photography and its attendant traveling. (Well, duh. Did the image blog clue you in?)
4. Having dinner parties.
5. Being outside.

Five things you would never wear or buy again:

1. Parachute pants, of course.
2. A pillow-top mattress. Awful things, they are.
3. An electric stove.
4. Any kind of tube top (cut me a break, willya? I was six.)
5. A Michael Jackson album (I wasn't six, but I wasn't old enough to know better, either.)

Five favorite toys:

1. TK's trains
2. Our new fondue pot
3. My birthday kayak
4. The backcountry skis Bloggerdad got me for Christmas last year.
5. My Bladerunner. :)

Five people I want to do this:

1. Tony
2. Tony
3. Tony
4. Tony
5. Brace yourself....insert drum roll here...Wasteland Fan! It's Christmas vacation! The semester is over! Take a sabbatical from the sabbatical! Throw a bone to the great unwashed masses who love your work!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

For the Record

May I just state that Andy Serkis is a freaking genius. I have always regarded with disgust the inexcusable omission of Mr. Serkis from the Best Supporting Actor category for his portrayal of Gollum. Though I haven't seen King Kong yet, I do hope they don't futz that up again this year.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


There is snow. It's kind of a blowy snow, and threatens at any moment to turn back into the freezing rain from which it sprung, but it's still snow. And it looks lovely against the enormous evergreen in my front yard.

For some reason, TK thinks the arrival of snow means that he may open his Christmas gifts. I hated to disabuse him of that pleasant notion, even though it's likely he just pulled that idea straight from his ass in the hope that we might buy it.

Last night found us freezing our tails off at ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo with our friends the A's and their daughters, the Double A's. I took a single snap from my digital point-and-shoot, because my fingers were too cold and spent most of the night stuffed in my pockets. (Papa A did a much better job, and whined less about it, too.)

This is the train we rode. TK was quite pumped up about that, as we recently saw the movie The Polar Express. He insisted that we were headed to the North Pole, despite all evidence that we were merely circumnavigating the Oregon Zoo. But hey, who am I to argue? And no, I don't know those people. They just happened to be between me and my subject.

Friday, December 16, 2005

JibJab to the Rescue

I intend to read Kinsley's latest as Bloggerdad suggests, but I'm not sure the esteemed Bloggerdad understands what the point of my last post was -- a certain mental used-up-edness that precludes the tackling of a weighty subject. Though there are some in our great land who don't consider torture a "weighty subject," I am not among them.

Or perhaps he was just being ironic. It wouldn't be the first time.

So, thank heavens for JibJab, as they have the perfect remedy for my malaise. Their year-end roundup video is here!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

We Have No Bananas Today

I have had some interesting thoughts on a number of different issues this week, but none of them ever coalesced into a post. The execution of Tookie Williams and the discussion surrounding that event reminded me of what it’s like to get to know a death row inmate. I might get to that yet, but it won’t be today.

I also read an excellent post by Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon on tokenism. This insightful piece partially alleviated my continuing bafflement that the only real hostility I ever felt as a woman working at a large law firm was from female partners. And perhaps that will make it into a post yet as well.

It’s entirely possible that I need a good long walk in the woods, or to finish painting my bathroom, in order to allow these thoughts to develop. But I don’t think that will happen today.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Weekly Photo Muse

This week's topic is up at Weekly Photo Muse. It's "handmade." Give it a shot.

Don't Drink Out of the Toilet Gene Pool

Researchers have finished mapping the genome of the domestic dog, and it appears we share "a core set of DNA."

How reassuring.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Itsy Bitsy Pyro

Tonight, as I prepare TK for bed:

TK: I want to sing a song.
Me: Which one?
TK: The Fire Song.
Me: I don't know that one. How does it go?
TK: It goes like this: The itsy bitsy fire--
Me: Do you mean "the itsy bitsy spider?"
TK: NO! It's the itsy bitsy fire!
The itsy bitsy fire
went up the water 'pout
down came the rain and
washed the fire out
out came the sun and
dried up all the rain
and the itsy bitsy fire
went up the 'pout again.

I sure never heard it that way when I was a kid.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Annoying Christmas Question of the Day

It's like an Advent calendar, only we're starting late. One annoying Christmas question per day till Christmas.

Which is your favorite version of "Up on the Housetop"?

For my money, it's Jimmy Buffett's surfer dude version, hands down.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

For the Christmas List

You know those conservative relatives that populate the intellectual outskirts of your family? I bet everyone has at least one or two of them, and being conservative and "pro-family," they no doubt have children. So what do you get their kids for Christmas?* Of course, there's always the Republicans Make Me Cry onesie, or the Mommy Wants a New President toddler tee, but you figure hell, it's Christmas, why be deliberately offensive? Maybe you should just stick with toys. But what to buy the baby wingnuts on your Christmas list?

Never fear. Baby Bush Toys understands your dilemma. Baby Bush is at the ready with "an exciting range of products for the resoundingly average child." Here are only a few of the toys Baby Bush offers:

Or, if you're buying for a wee tot, there's this:

See the full selection of Baby Bush Toys here.

Via Shakespeare's Sister.

*In full compliance with the pro-Christmas message.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Online Rubbernecking

This site is riveting.

Each post consists of satellite images of "the worst places in the world."

From the site's "about" section:

Sprol shows the visual macroscopic effects of the decisions and behavior of our society.

Since previous generations have not had the advantage of this perspective it is our obligation to use it wisely.
Go take a look.


I have updated the links section to the right, so go sniff around on some of the newly added sites. There's some good stuff.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Like Minds

I'm frequently amazed how like minded people find one another through blogs. Jeannie of Put it in Writing found and linked Trailhead Images, and her site is a treat. The view from her deck alone is worth a trip over, and her post on new grandparenthood is lovely.

Calling All Image Junkies

This is a great site. Each week brings a new photo idea. Photographers are asked to shoot images based on the idea, and post links in the comments section. I cheated a bit, in that I linked to a post I had already done over at Trailhead Images that seemed to fit with the theme.

I heartily encourage my blogger friends to try it, especially since many of you seem to be prolific shutterbugs.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

One Last China Pic

Forgotten in his camera till now: Proof that TS's trip was really just one long episode of Fear Factor.

Whether Report

So we're supposed to get a goodly amount of snow here in the Willamette Valley. I certainly hope so, anyway; because then I shall be able to play the Charlie Brown Christmas CD and thoroughly enjoy myself as I watch the snow fall.

But these things have a way of disappointing, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to be watching the old standby -- rain -- from my window instead of the delicate dance of fat snowflakes.

Time-Waster of the Day

From my periodic perusal of Strange New Products (thank you Rose), here are my current favorites:

The Naughty Nads Bikini Design Kit: First of all, who could possibly resist the name? And I'm sorry, but anything designed to turn your pubes into a lightning bolt is irresistible.

The Wovel: A funky looking snow removal thingie designed to go easy on the back. My favorite part of this is the comment asking why someone wouldn't just buy a blowtorch. This cracked me up because, before I even read the comment, I was reminded of an old neighbor of Trailhead Brother II, who actually used a blowtorch on his icy driveway.


Today is World AIDS Day. The word from the World AIDS Campaign is "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Time-Waster of the Day

The Bad Sex in Fiction Awards. Go, just go. And try to mute that vomiting reflex.

Monday, November 28, 2005

All I Want For Christmas Is A Muted Vomiting Reflex

Two words that should probably never get anywhere near each other: Competitive. Eating.

According to a Washington Post article, a gastroenterologist at Stanford University has decided to study people who eat competitively. The mysteries of dyspepsia, satiety and the swallowing mechanism will all be revealed by the guy who can eat nine pounds of watermelon in fifteen minutes. Or by this guy:

To get better, Lerman occasionally employs an extended regimen. First he'll fill up on liquids. Then "I'll practice eating hot dogs when I'm full. The contest is going to be won not by someone who's hungry but by someone who's able to eat when they're full."

Lerman's tactics seem to work. He once consumed seven quarter-pound sticks of butter ("like eating axle grease") in five minutes. On another occasion, he ingested 120 jalapeno peppers in 15 minutes. But that's not all.

"At the Glutton Bowl, I consumed over seven pounds of cow brains," he said. He placed third.
Third? Seven pounds of cow brains and you place third? What am I complaining about, anyway? I’m just happy to live in a world where there is such a thing as a Glutton Bowl.

But what I really found intriguing about this article is the tidbit that skinnier people are better at competitive gorging than the more generously padded of us. See, there’s this theory that abdominal fat keeps the stomach from expanding enough to accommodate those nine pounds of watermelon in fifteen minutes. One of the gastroenterologists thinks this is a plausible, albeit unproven, theory. And then there’s this guy:

Contest organizer and occasional competitor Arnie Chapman, 44, is also on the fence about the theory. A former marathoner himself, he thinks competitiveness and disciplined training are the main ingredients of speed-eating success. Nevertheless, he said, "there are some advantages" -- like having a muted vomiting reflex -- "that are just God-given."

I don't know about you all, but I'd be kind of pissed if all I got when God was handing out the goodies was a muted vomiting reflex.

Then again, maybe I was shortchanged.

Adventures in Kansas

I'm sure Kansas is a lovely place, but it still isn't where I would want to be stranded in a blizzard. Incidentally, had this blizzard hit almost precisely three years earlier, give or take a week, I would have been so stranded.

That is because three years ago, TS found a used truck cap he liked in Boulder, Colorado, and because I am always ready for a road trip to pretty much anywhere, I agreed to go fetch it for him. And Colorado was too good an idea to pass up. So I called my sister, the only other person in the world I knew who'd be willing to drive four days through the Great Plains for the pleasure of spending exactly half a day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

We packed up the truck with our belongings and the two-month old Trailhead Kid, and set off. We hit snow by Effingham, Illinois. We ate there at a T.G.I. Friday's, and Full Moon called a friend of hers who lives in New York City for the sheer joy of letting her know that she was in a place called Effingham, Illinois.

We spent the next day traversing Missouri, which seemed to me to have a very high concentration of billboards advertising both Jesus and porn, and usually within very close proximity. Then we arrived in Kansas and lodged at a no-tell motel bearing a prominent banner with the message "Welcome Hunters!"

Even though we are vegetarians, and not hunters, they let us stay there anyway. But we didn't need the flier they placed in our room asking us to please refrain from dumping pheasant innards in the hotel trash cans and pleading with us to clean our kills in the parking lot and not in the bathroom.

I thought this was kind of unreasonable for an establishment claiming dedication to the well-being and happiness of hunters. But as a vegetarian and not a hunter, I felt little standing to complain.

We ate lunch at one of those godawful all-you-can-eat buffets in Russell, Kansas, which is where we would have been obliged to remain had this blizzard decided to hit three years earlier than it did. In addition to hosting us for lunch, Russell bears the distinction of being the hometown of both Bob Dole and Arlen Specter. Which -- in addition to the lunch -- probably reason enough not to be stranded in Russell for too long.

But we made it to Boulder, had dinner with an old friend who was also a newly minted priest, and spent the following day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Not a bad trip, and we got a truck cap out of it too.

Serpents and Sleepy Eaters

Still feeling sluggish from your Thanksgiving feast? Don't blame the turkey.

Hate snakes? Don't watch this video, "How to to Survive an Anaconda Bite."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Feeding the Beast

(I posted this on THI as well, so if you've been there already, skip it.)

We appear to have a brief respite from yesterday's rain, and there are little peeps of sun visible on the edges of the clouds. So I'm off to the Columbia River Gorge for some photography, as we must provide fresh meat for the beast that is Trailhead Images. Thing is, you never know what the weather will be in the Gorge just from looking out your kitchen window on the southern end of the Portland area. But even if there's no photography to be had, there will still be hiking.

I have the final Montana post queued up, except it appears that I have lost one of the slides I want to add. It must have been misplaced in the move from Tiny Little Apartment to the house this summer. This is causing me no end of agony, of course. So as soon as I resolve that issue, the final Montana post will be up.

Back later, y'all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Post China Syndrome

I wish I had come up with that title myself, but the honors must go to Trailhead Brother II (the suffix is by age, not importance).

Anyway, I'm back.  My cold has just settled down for a long winter's nap in my lungs, and will no doubt have a lovely Thanksgiving there.  I cannot speak in a voice louder than a mere conversational tone without being overcome by a paroxysm of painful coughs.  Most of you realize how disconcerting that situation must be for me.

And there's also been the job of receiving TS back home after three weeks away, and all that entails (most of which you can be thankful I won't detail for you here).  My cable internet has been on the fritz all day.  This is probably not a bad thing, as I was on the fritz most of the day too, and probably would not have made use of it anyway.

And so we have landed on the day before Thanksgiving, and we are still pondering what to do.  The most promising option involves good food and lots of laziness, which is the whole point of the holiday anyway, other than the basic premise of gratitude.

Then off Friday to shoot, probably in the Gorge or on the coast.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday scattered about as you all are – FullMoon in Akron teaching Trailhead Brother I the joys of an organic, free-range Thanksgiving, Bloggerdad in Chicago, and Rose in Montana.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Groaner of the Day

I don’t even know quite what to do with this:

A French woman who is terrified of flying admitted in an Australian court Monday that she drunkenly tried to open an airplane door mid-flight to smoke a cigarette.
Because opening the aircraft door makes the flight you’re terrified of so much safer.

She walked toward one of the aircraft's emergency exits with an unlit cigarette and a lighter in her hand and began tampering with the door, prosecutors said. But a flight attendant intervened and took [her] back to her seat.

Defense lawyer Helen Shilton told the court Sellies was terrified of flying and had taken sleeping tablets with alcohol before takeoff.

Wow, sleeping pills and booze. Great idea. But I grudgingly admit a bit of sympathy for this person. Her little pharmaceutical cocktail was a bad idea, and everyone hates a drunk on a flight, especially an international flight. But CNN is not where I would want some of my personal stupidities to end up.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Survivor of the Fittest?

Choke-on-your-coffee funny, especially the picture. The lion on the antelope nearly caused me seizures.

Friday, November 18, 2005

O' Karma Where Art Thou?

Wow, there’s one in every crowd, isn’t there? There’s always one stupid tool who has to ruin everyone else’s fun. Someone who has to fart in the rose garden, knock over the soaring tower of blocks and decapitate the giant radish:

A giant white radish that won the hearts of a Japanese town by valiantly growing through the urban asphalt was in intensive care at a town hall in western Japan on Thursday after being slashed by an unknown assailant.

The “daikon” radish, shaped like a giant carrot, first made the news months ago when it was noticed poking up through asphalt along a roadside in the town of Aioi, population 33,289.

I guess these buzzkilling turds are present in every culture. It reminds me of the asshat(s) who tried to chop down Luna, the redwood tree that Julia Butterfly Hill lived in and made an icon.

Give these people a lot of power, and they do things like start wars and form totalitarian governments. Give them just a little power and they are horrible bosses, nasty office-mates, oppressive parents, and obstructionist bureaucrats.

Asked why the radish -- more often found on Japanese dinner tables as a garnish, pickle or in “oden” stew -- had so many fans, town spokesman Jiro Matsuo said: “People discouraged by tough times were cheered by its tenacity and strong will to live.”
Long live the radish.

Smells Fishy To Me

TK was sick last week.  The bug has been dancing around me for a few days, but it decided to get busy and gut-punch me today.  Which makes me really look forward to my final weekend as a single parent.  

So there is the explanation for the light blogging.

Did you know that herring communicate via flatulence?  Perhaps not surprisingly, my inner twelve-year old finds that delightful.

Now go watch some fish fart, and I’ll be back when I feel better.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

So Many Heads, So Little Time

It may seem a little odd that a vegetarian who twice displayed a chicken head on her blog would have strong feelings against trophy hunting, but there it is.

It feels strange just typing it, but there's welcome news out of the (Republican-controlled) Senate Finance Committee, according to this Washington Post article:

The loophole Grassley said he is seeking to close allows big-game hunters to deduct some or all of the cost of their safaris if they later donate to a museum some of the trophy animals they kill and have mounted. The new rules would allow some donations, but would limit the amount of charitable contribution that could be deducted to the market value of the specimen, rather than the replacement value.
Most of you know that even though I'm a vegetarian, I don't have nearly the level of antipathy for the eating of hunted meat that I do the consumption of factory-farmed meat. But by and large, I regard trophy hunting as wasteful, asinine and cruel. And while I'm not silly enough to think that Grassley and his cohorts were striking a blow for animal welfare, I'll take what I can get -- and that's the removal of a tax incentive to patronize these kinds of places:

The Senate language was welcomed yesterday by the Humane Society of the United States, which has sought to focus attention on the existence of hunting parks where exotic animals are raised and hunted for a fee. Some of the questionable trophy mounts donated to museums were killed in such parks, especially in several larges ones in Texas.
But in the final analysis, this is just sensible policy:

"The equivalent for non-hunters would be if someone bought a sweater in Paris, donated it to Goodwill, and took a tax deduction for the entire trip to Paris," [Grassley] said. "The tax code should encourage legitimate donations, but only legitimate donations."

Go check out the entire article, if for no other reason than the strange hilarity of Charles Grassley working diligently at his desk with an enormous ungulate head in front of him.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Return of the Chicken Head

Remember this one, from China Pic of the Day last week?

Turns out China is going to vaccinate its chickens against the bird flu. Is it too late for this one -- you know, the one my spouse's dinner companion got cozy with?

I'm going to have to keep checking the windshields after he gets home next week.

Gore on Climate Change

Al Gore has penned an interesting call-to-action on global warming in Rolling Stone Magazine. Interestingly, he draws a comparison between climate change and the march of fascism in the 1930's.

Via Musings Northwest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Humboldt Squid

Yeesh. Watch a diver get up close and personal with the "red devils" of the ocean in this short video.

Geeky Time-Waster of the Day


To which race of middle earth do you belong?

I can't believe I felt the need to do this.

Yes I can.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Those "Intersex" Fish From California

I want to go to bed, but I keep finding interesting things to blog.

Scientists have discovered "sexually altered" fish off the California coast. This would be a nearly perfect place to insert a joke if the issue wasn't so darn creepy.

The scientists caught 82 male English sole and hornyhead turbot (I'm sorry, I really do have to pause for a moment -- they said "hornyhead"!) off Los Angeles and Orange counties. Of these, eleven had ovary tissue in their testes.

According to the article, the discovery of these fish raises "concerns that treated sewage discharged into the ocean contains chemicals that can affect an animal's reproductive system."

Wonder what it does to people.

Yogi and Boo Boo Get Delisted

The Bush Administration wants to delist Yellowstone's griz, apparently on the theory that 600 bears is enough.

Forgive my cynicism, but I found these paragraphs of the story the most revealing:

But Louisa Wilcox, who directs the Natural Resources Defense Council's wild bears project, said delisting would place the grizzlies' critical habitat in jeopardy. The bears range over nearly 9 million acres in and around the national park, she said, but the administration's proposal only covers a 6 million-acre habitat.

"We would love to see the grizzly bear delisted, but it's not ready," Wilcox said, adding that one-third of the bears' current habitat could be opened to drilling, logging and human development under the agency's plan. "If you want to protect bears for future generations, you have to protect the habitat they need. This plan doesn't do it."
Emphasis mine.

Grizzly bears are now limited to only two percent of their original habitat. I think we can all accept that griz are never going to be as plentiful as they were when Lewis and Clark rolled through, but is this good enough?

This is particularly worrying on the heels of this article from the Sunday Post, which reports that intentional, illegal killings of grizzlies are on the rise in western Montana.

Emission-less in Seattle

God, that title was pathetic. I apologize. I've got a cold, all right? Cut me some slack.

Seattle City Light has become the first major utility in the U.S. to reduce its net emissions of greenhouse gases to zero. Using a combination of hydropower, replacing a coal-powered plant with cleaner energy sources, and contracts with other entities to reduce emissions when SCL couldn't, the utility whittled its net emissions to nothing.

At a press conference this morning, Mayor Greg Nickels said, "we have a fundamental belief that we can power the city without toasting the planet."

Imagine that.

Check out the article.

From the Weird Environmental News File

Fascinating. Eat shit and die make rocket fuel.

Friday, November 11, 2005

China McPic of the Day

From the Inbox

Okay, that makes it sound like it's from one of my legions of readers. It's really from my mom.

Since I'll doubtless be one of the first dead should the bird flu start its lethal migration anytime in the next two weeks (see below the "China Pic of the Day" involving the chicken head), I feel an obligation to inform my readers of the following:

The bird flu is a big topic these days, and a pretty scary one. The Center for Disease Control has released a list of symptoms of bird flu. If you experience any of the following, please seek medical treatment immediately:

1. High fever
2. Congestion
3. Nausea
4. Fatigue
5. Aching in the joints
6. An irresistible urge to crap on someone's windshield.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Dumbassery of the Day

Pat Robertson. Always a reliable source.

I'm sure the residents of Dover are cowering in fear tonight.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Six Lives Left, Kitty

This is my kind of cat.

A cat leaped from a pickup truck, scampered through bridge traffic, fell 70 feet into the chilly Columbia River and swam 600 feet to shore before being rescued, Wenatchee Valley Humane Society officials said.
Joi Singleton of East Wenatchee, Washington and her husband, Ron, saw something come off a pickup truck a couple of car lengths in front of them while they were driving on the Obadashian Bridge over the Columbia River Sunday morning. It was the cat, of course. The cat made it through the traffic and came to a rest in a small opening on the bridge. The Singletons then called the Humane Society.

No sooner had two officers gotten the cat into a portable kennel than it jumped out "like a jack-in-the-box before we could secure the door" and leaped over the railing, White said.
The cat proceeded to swim 600 yards to shore, with a little help from a fortuitously located kayaker.

I certainly hope this cat wasn't tossed from the truck, or wasn't carelessly left in an open truck bed while the truck was in motion, but I'm wondering. But in any event, the cat won't have a problem finding a home with this kind of publicity. And with any luck, the desirability of this cat will bring more folks to the shelter and some of the more anonymous animals will get adopted.

Adopt from a shelter, folks. Thousands of animals have to be killed in shelters every day.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fewer Words Lately, More Images

Just so you know, other than the China pics, most of the action has been going on at Trailhead Images.

Tuesday China Pic

This is why Americans are fat. Because we don't do this anymore. How far do y'all think you could pedal this load?

TS was a little embarrassed that this gentleman caught him taking his photograph, but he found him so different from what he is used to that the camera raised instinctively. And in any case, TS was getting a fair amount of gawking, and his female colleague was the recipient of incessant double- and triple-takes. So, three cheers for this interesting soup we call humanity.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

China Pic of the Day

Because what you really want to go along with your chicken head is a nice flower.

We Americans are such gastronomic ninnies.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Saturday China Blogging

Eel. It's what's for dinner.

TS describes this as a Cantonese style, "pick your own fare" restaurant. He writes: "We had several dishes including spicy crab, abalone, and fish. They also had a pigeon room with live pigeons on trees next to the aquariums. Notice the big eel and small 2-3" fish. I have seen some restaurants with very exotic items like worms and buggy looking things. Not too bad here but they did have eels (2-3 feet long) in one tank as well as this big guy."

Fruit stand, obviously.

A broom.

Here's what I want to know. Once you've picked your pigeon, how do they catch it?

Friday, November 04, 2005

China Pic(s) of the Day

TS writes:

We ate lunch at the "Butterfly Love Flower Coffee Shop" where they serve everything from Western style pizza (be very careful!), to authentic Chinese seafood and other cuisines to USDA Beef Steaks (I'm skeptical). I had Xia Chao Fan (pronounced She Chow Fan) - Shrimp Fried Rice, Pijiu - Beer and also some Coke. The toilets were the good old fashioned holes in the floor. Of note was a community comb in a small basket by the mirror in the bathroom. The sign on the bathroom door said "Man".

I hope everyone has good aim.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


So, the kid’s in bed.  This is the part where I’m supposed to work furiously on things I’ve been putting off.

I think I’ll work on some sleep.  That project’s been stuck on the back burner for a long time.  I should really get busy on it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Trailhead Throws a Pity Party

TS leaves tomorrow for China.

For three weeks. Gah.

On the bright side, I have informed him that he is responsible for a new category here at Trailheadcase, the "China Pic of the Day." I'm not exactly sure when it will start, but it should be interesting when it does. He'll be starting in Hong Kong, then heading to Yiangjiang, and ending the trip in Shanghai.

Part of me is pissed that I'm stuck here. Oh, hell, all of me is pissed that I'm stuck here. But he'll be going again in March, and depending on the flow of work between now and then and the availability of cheap fares, we might join him at that time.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Idiocy of the Day

From the Washington Post:

A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has set up a clash between health advocates who want to use the shots aggressively to prevent thousands of malignancies and social conservatives who say immunizing teenagers could encourage sexual activity.
Let's set aside the false dichotomy posed by the wingnuts -- that you have to choose between vaccinating against a deadly sexually transmitted disease and not "encouraging" sexual activity. My question is "so what if we do?" Heaven forbid we should have the attitude that sex is a good thing.

Make no mistake about it. What the theocrats are engaged in is an effort to confine sexuality -- not just theirs, or their children's, but everyone's -- within the boundaries that they set. They've been doing it for ages, and the only difference now is that the Bushies have given them a place at the policy-making table.

Frankly, they're unbelievably sex-obsessed, and just straight-up perverted in some cases. And they sublimate their perversion by squashing everyone else's sex life. Sickos.

Don't believe me? Read this.

Nausea of the Day

This is disgusting. Ugh.

I remember having read about the putrefied shark when TS and I were contemplating a trip to Iceland.

In a similar vein, see "The Devil's Picnic," the book I got TH Brother for his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Bloggerdad

That actually says "Happy BDay Deepaw," which is what TK calls Bloggerdad. But as you can see, TK put a big, long locomotive sticker over "DE." So it looks like "Happy BDay Epaw."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Eye Candy, With a Side of Clearcuts

Head over to the Robot Vegetable's image blog, Middle-Fork. Do not miss the photographs of the clearcuts, especially this one. This is reality, folks. It isn't pretty, it isn't necessary, and there are consequences beyond the visual.

From a markedly different category, this one's great, too. Good stuff.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Scooter, Sulu and a Squid

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Yes, Scooter Libby has been indicted and has resigned. I would ask that you take a look at a very interesting Josh Marshall post, and then be done with it. Those of us obsessed with it – and that includes me – are going to continue to be obsessed with it, and nothing I say can add to anything else being said.

Read the indictment here. Read Fitzgerald’s statement here.

Cheney accepted Libby’s resignation “with regret,” no doubt because it’s difficult to find good people who will perjure themselves in an inevitably doomed effort to save you from a special prosecutor.

Now let’s move on to other more interesting things. I’m occupied today with actual legal work, making progress on Trailhead Images and digging out from the pile of laundry that has threatened my family’s safety for the last two weeks.

That doesn’t mean I was too busy to browse these pictures of a giant squid taken by Japanese scientists. They scared the bejesus out of me, and you should take a look too.

In other news, apparently the White House’s ass is chapped because The Onion has been using the presidential seal. I don’t think this will make the White House feel any better. (via Eschaton.)

George Takei, 68, known fondly to Trekkies as Sulu, came out this week. Good for him.

Nelson Mandela has launched a series of comic books about his life.

Finally, head over to the magnificently titled “Library Bitch” and check out Dubya’s Elvis impersonation. Nice work.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Trailhead Gets a Wild Hair

I've been meaning to do it for some time, but I did it tonight. Trailhead Images is up and running. Ultimately, I'm planning a fancier site, but for now, Blogger is fine.

The first post is "Birds of the Everglades."

I'll be updating as I scan and, of course, as I shoot.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Virtual Hike -- Highline Trail

I was piddling around on TS's computer, and I found where he's been hoarding all our digital snaps from Montana. Here is a slide show from our short jaunt on the Highline Trail.

I'm working on getting my slides -- my "real" images -- scanned and online. It's an ongoing project, which means it's subject to my procrastinatory tendencies.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Together, We Can Do Better Than This Godawful Slogan

Via Shakespeare’s Sister comes the word that the Democrats are trying out a slogan for the 2006 elections that is, as Shakes succinctly puts it, “a piece of shit slogan [that] aspires to clichĂ© hell:”

Together, we can do better.

Yeah, that’s it. “Together, we can do better.”

Let’s see. We’ve had a stolen election, a devastating terror attack, a rash of anthrax, an ill-planned, unnecessary war, a very necessary but terribly executed war, a trashed economy in which Paris Hilton keeps getting richer and everyone else gets poorer, a skyrocketing deficit and debt, escalating global warming, the destruction of one of our most interesting cities and the inexcusably negligent treatment of its inhabitants, and possibly even criminal indictments this week.

Have I left anything out? After all that -- this is all the Democrats have to say? [Congressional Democrat strokes chin thoughtfully] “I say, I think we could probably do a bit better than that, don’t you?”

Oh, that’ll set the electorate on fire.

The sheer vapidity of this slogan reflects a dispiriting truth: these guys don’t deserve to have power. They are governed by fear. It’s much easier to watch the Republicans so spectacularly destroy themselves, than to wield power, make decisions and be responsible for them. If you can only define yourself by what you are not – a fuckup Republican – and cannot or will not define yourself by what you are, then you should expect no one to follow you. And if Democrats generally don’t decide who they are, we will lose the best opportunity we’ve had since the Contract on America threw us out on our butts in 1994.

Sitting Down On the Job

Rosa Parks is dead at 92.

The common Rosa Parks narrative is that one day in Montgomery, Alabama, this black woman who’d never raised a fuss in her life was tired after working all day and decided, right then and there, to refuse to give up her seat to a white guy in violation of the transit rules. This out-of-the-blue act of civil disobedience sparked a movement that culminated in the death of Jim Crow, at least in the Montgomery bus system.

There’s one problem with the popular narrative. It’s wrong. Not the part about her gutsy refusal to comply with a racist directive, or that her act was one of the linchpins of the civil rights movement – those things are true, of course. But the perception that Ms. Parks acted spontaneously is not only wrong, it fails to accord Ms. Parks all the credit she is due for her role in the Montgomery bus boycott and the change it effected.

On December 1, 1955, when Ms. Parks declined to give up her seat to a white man, she was already the secretary of the Montgomery branch of the NAACP. The summer before her arrest, Parks had attended the Highlander Folk School, an education and training center involved in labor issues and desegregation. Ms. Parks was already actively working in the civil rights movement when she took her famous stand.

Somehow it’s more gratifying to perceive the process of social change as a single, dramatic, whizbang kind of moment. It’s easy to forget that progress is more often the result of constant, inconspicuous, taxing work. Rosa Parks did that kind of work before she had her celebrated moment of resistance.

Paul Rogat Loeb has written about the flaws in the popular Rosa Parks narrative:

Parks didn't make a spur - of - the - moment decision. Rosa Parks didn't single - handedly give birth to the civil rights efforts, but she was part of an existing movement for change, at a time when success was far from certain. This in no way diminishes the power and historical importance of her refusal to give up her seat. But it does remind us that this tremendously consequential act might never have taken place without all the humble and frustrating work that she and others did earlier on. And that her initial step of getting involved was just as courageous and critical as her choice on the bus that all of us have heard about.
Loeb goes on to argue that these legends we generate for our heroes may impede more than they inspire, because they create an impossibly high standard. Such ideas suggest that we don’t make a difference unless we act with such larger-than-life boldness, in a manner that is far beyond the ken of an ordinary person.

But really, the essence of a dramatic flourish is a culmination of quieter, but no less significant, events that lay the ground for the peak. In this way, each small actor contributes to the cataclysm of change, often in ways they don’t know.

In her 1995 book, Quiet Strength, Parks wrote, "Four decades later I am still uncomfortable with the credit given to me for starting the bus boycott. I would like [people] to know I was not the only person involved. I was just one of many who fought for freedom."

For What?

Steve Gilliard has a post up that you should read.  It’s deeply affecting in its spare, deflated, what-the-fuck-more-can-they-do tone.

When we hear numbers, we don’t see people.  

It’s too easy.  It shouldn’t be that easy.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Larch Mountain

One of the most accessible scenic vistas in the Portland area is Sherrard Point, on Larch Mountain. It's a twisty 16-mile drive through the Mt. Hood National Forest off Interstate 84, and and from the parking lot, an easy quarter mile hike up to the viewpoint. On a clear day, you can see five volcanoes in 360 degree perspective: Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson.

I went up there at sunset and shot a roll and a half of slide film, and took these digital snaps as well. It will be some time before I get the slides back, but I'll share the best ones when they arrive. Needless to say, there is a stark difference between the capability of my digital point-and-shoot and my Nikon F100. But the snaps convey the basic idea.

I shared the cold sunset with two couples and a dog with a considerable underbite named Charlie. Charlie thought I was about to distribute treats when I opened the ziploc bag to retrieve my film. I'm afraid the disappointment quite ruined the sunset for her.

Once More, With Feeling

Like Harriet Miers, I've been asked to redo the questionaire. Rose protests that I have unfairly dodged the first section by disputing the main premise.

Fine, Rose, if you're going to be so particular about it.

Assuming, for purposes of argument only, that I will die, here are seven things I want to do before that happens -- in no particular order and with no representation that these are the top priorities:

1. Finally hike the damned Appalachian Trail already (after having opportunities fade away twice in ten years.)

2. Organize my house.

3. Live and grow old on a spread in the mountains with my horses, chickens, dogs, garden, friends, and family. (That was certainly not in order of importance. Just so you know.)

4. Sit around for many, many hours -- perhaps in front of a nice fire or on a deck facing the mountains, or maybe in a cozy bookstore like the Wy'East -- and read, talk, laugh and eat.

5. Get to Patagonia.

6. Trek around Annapurna. (Otherwise known as the "Annapurna Circuit.")

7. Travel to Churchill, Manitoba and photograph the polar bears.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Trailhead's List of Seven

Rose has tagged me with a meme. This one is irresistible. It’s the “Seven Things” meme. Reading through Rose’s lists, it’s easy to see why we read each other’s blogs. Some of the items will be identical. Here goes:

7 things I want to do before I die:

Die? What do you mean, die?

7 things I cannot do:

1. A pull-up.

2. Burp on command.

3. Listen to Rush Limbaugh or George Bush.

4. Stay in one place for very long.

5. Get out enough.

6. Drink tequila.

7. Keep my desk organized.

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex:

1. Adventure

2. Intellect

3. Humor

4. Outdoor competence.

5. A rock climber's body. Doesn't have to be tall, but those finely toned muscles get me every time.

6. Understands and likes kids

7. Likes socializing

7 things that I say most often:

1. “You have to be fucking kidding me.”

2. "I need a diet coke/coffee/backrub."

3. “Where the hell did all that money go?”

4. "What should we do this weekend?"

5. “Good night, sleep tight..."

6. "Move to strike, non-responsive."

7. "What a tool."

7 celebrity crushes

1. Viggo Mortensen

2. John Cusack

3. Jon Stewart

4. Johnny Depp (what's with the Johns?)

5. Paul Hackett. (Ohio lawyer and Iraq war vet who very narrowly lost a Congressional special election in a district that had been going Republican by a 50% margin. (And has thrown his hat into the ring for the Democratic Senate primary.) He said "I don't like the son of a bitch that lives in the White House but I'd put my life on the line for him." Oh, yeah, baby. Say that again.)

6. Howard Dean. (Are you sensing a theme here? Don't laugh. He's cute when he gets in a froth.)

7. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (Darn it, he's just what a Kennedy ought to be.)

7 people I want to do this:

Why, all seven of my readers, of course. Do a list or two in the comments section. And Tony.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Proof that God has a Sick Sense of Humor and Was Really Bored Yesterday

A wealthy Republican senator from New Hampshire has won $853,492 in Powerball.

Leave it to a Democrat, however, to fire off a nice quip at such news.  Kent Conrad, Senator from North Dakota, said that Senator Gregg should use the money to pay down the federal deficit.  Heh.

In other news, apparently the winning $340 million ticket was purchased in Oregon.  It wasn’t me, though I did get one number.  Come on, doesn’t one number win anything?

Like I told Full Moon this afternoon, a ten dollar scratch-off is looking pretty damn good right now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


This is what happens when you spend three days in close proximity to a sick little someone who isn't yet aware that it is improper to cough in your face.

The nightmare scenario: Both Trailhead and Trailhead Spouse are sick, but Trailhead Kid is well -- bouncingly, demandingly well.

Someone send in the National Guard.

Time-Waster of the Day

Don't miss JibJab's latest effort, "Big Box Mart."  

Bob and Me

Day three of the sick room.

It’s hard to blog when you’re busy watching the same episodes of Bob the Builder over and over again.  This is the sort of thing that happens when I relax my TV rules, so I’ve no one to blame but myself.

I try in vain to get him to watch something else.  

“Elmo?  Dragontales? Dora?” I plead.
“I want Bob,” Trailhead Kid insists.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like Bob.  It’s one of the more watch-able kids’ shows.  But I’ve memorized the episodes from the On Demand feature on our cable as well as the DVDs.  I hear Bob in my sleep, sing the theme song in the shower.  We clearly – clearly – need a new Bob DVD if I’m to get through this illness with my mental faculties intact.

Can we go stark raving mad?

Yes we can!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Excuse Me If I Nod Off

I’m a bit draggy today, having gotten approximately four minutes of sleep last night – and not even four consecutive minutes.

A little after midnight, TK began to raise a ruckus, and when we went in to check on him, he was radiating heat like a little hot coal poked out of a campfire.  And so the night progressed, and we discovered he could not breathe properly while lying horizontally.  Reclining too far on the bed produced a series of rattling, phlegmy coughs, and I would have to bring him back to a ninety-degree angle before he could conquer them.  

Unfortunately, one of these coughs overtook him entirely, and he upchucked lavishly and with admirable force on my bare feet.  I must say, you haven’t experienced the fullness of parenting a preschooler until you have had burped-up lime Gatorade and Tylenol between your toes.  

So when we were not sitting in the steamy bathroom or walking about on the deck in the moist night air, we were nervously watching him sleep on the pile of pillows I had stacked at a careful 45 degree angle.  These measures helped quite a bit, and forestalled a trip the ER.

We just returned from the pediatrician’s office.  Two chest X-rays later, we are advised that he has a nasty little virus, but no lung infection.

At about 3:45 a.m., by way of preparation should the need arise, I told him we might be getting in the car soon to take a trip to see a special doctor.  He leaned in and said, in a hoarse, conspiratorial whisper, “And if we are very quiet, we might see an elk.”

We’ve been hiking a lot lately.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Hand It Over Or The Bird Gets It

It’s a crisp fall day.  There’s a motor noise in the background.

Trailhead Kid:  What’s that?

Trailhead Spouse:  A weed whacker.

Trailhead Kid (Pondering this):  No, it’s not.
Trailhead:  What is it then?

Trailhead Kid:  It’s a bird whacker.

Trailhead to Trailhead Spouse:  I’d hate to see that in action.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Zen in a Hot Pot

Part of TS's job involves traveling to different parts of China two or three times a year, and his company maintains an office in Shanghai. He has visited Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and other smaller (by Chinese standards) cities in South China. Occasionally the process works in reverse, and one of his company's Shanghai employees travels here. That is what happened this week.

O works closely with TS, from across the world, on a near-daily basis. He arrived from Shanghai early last week for a brief stay. We were fortunate enough to get to squire O about for dinner several times this week, and we thoroughly enjoyed his company. He took an immediate liking to TK, having left his two-year old son with his wife in Shanghai. Upon entering our dwelling, O instantly pronounced it much too large for three people, and if you think about it, he probably has a point.

D, another of TS’s co-workers, is a native of Taiwan. We were invited to her house last night, along with O, for dinner. It was wonderful.

We arrived at her house after getting almost hopelessly lost (she lives across town in an area we are not yet familiar with). I’m certain at some point O was wondering whether all Americans drive in this same directionless manner, making turns willy nilly and often reversing course altogether for no sufficient reason. At length, though, we arrived, and after the obligatory observation that D’s house was far too large for D, her husband and her three-year old daughter, we sat down to eat.

D and her husband (who owns a Chinese restaurant in town) had prepared something called a “hot pot,” which is something akin to fondue, only Asian style and without the cheese. In the middle of the table was a heating element not unlike a hot plate, except with many more sophisticated buttons and switches. On top sat a large, shallow stainless steel pot, divided in the middle. On each side of the pot simmered a broth of some kind. One was very spicy, and the other was just delicious, and each contained a number of items including shiitake and enoki mushrooms, fish cakes, and various other types of seafood.

D had set out next to the pot a vast array of dishes containing yet more mushrooms and seafood, scallops, calamari, shrimp, crab legs, long strips of beef and sushi-like rolls. We were to take the items we wanted, place them in a metal utensil with a mesh basket on the end, and lower them into the cooking medium until cooked to our satisfaction. Then bowls were passed around into which we could mix the sauce that we wanted to dredge our food in after it was cooked. We were offered soy sauce, minced garlic, fresh herbs, sesame oil, rice vinegar and a sort of hot pepper sauce. I used everything but the hot pepper sauce.

Then D’s husband brought out an enormous bottle of sake, and the meal began in earnest. I haven’t enjoyed a meal this much in a long time. Aside from the food, which was marvelous, the thing I enjoyed most about this manner of eating is that it demands a slowness and deliberation that immeasurably deepens the experience. In this way, it is a decidedly un-American way to eat.

We lingered over the meal for two hours, alternately dipping, dredging and savoring amid bits of conversation and laughter.

We asked D whether she eats like this all the time, or only for special occasions. “Oh, all the time,” she said, “whenever I don’t really feel like cooking.”

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday (Joe) Kitty Blogging

Okay, everyone does cat blogging on Friday except me, because I don't have a cat. But I do have a picture of Joe Kitty, and I know you've all been dying to see it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I Thought I’d Frozen Part of my Ass Off, But When I Woke Up it Wasn’t Any Smaller

For many avid outdoor enthusiasts, it’s something of a dick-swinging contest to determine who can endure the most agony on a trip and still make it. If you’re not beating the shit out of yourself, you’re not a real hiker/paddler/naturalist/trekker/whatever. The person who can wrap duct tape around bleeding blisters and cheerily bound 20 miles down the trail is regarded with a nod of approval and welcomed into the club. Now that's tough.

I think it's stupid.

Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve never understood why it seems to be such an article of faith among outdoor enthusiasts that if you don’t suffer, it isn’t worth the trip. It seems as if some feel the need to import extreme notions of competition and accomplishment into the things we are supposedly doing for pure pleasure. Forgive me if that seems a little pathetic and insecure to me.

I, on the other hand, am not a particularly tough person. I am a good deal more Stephen Katz than Patagonia model. This was particularly evident on the one night that we spent outside in the Wallowas. I was wearing a rayon shirt, a long-sleeved capilene shirt, two fleece pullovers and two pairs of long underwear. I was tucked into my sleeping bag with a wool blanket over that. I had Toasty-Toes stuck to the bottom of my socks.

And I was freezing.

But anyway, now that I've set up this strawman argument, I'll use it to excuse the fact that, due to illnesses (his and then mine), TS and I hiked about twelve miles in two days in the Wallowas, but never actually made it anywhere. Oh, we saw some beautiful vistas, but once we lost that first day to illness in the Sandman, our momentum never really recovered. That said, we found a fabulous new area that will be on our to-do list for next year, and did a spot of hiking at least.

It's strange. This year has been pretty good for nature traveling -- we've been to Big Sur, we went twice to Montana, hiked the Olympic coast and rain forest, visited the Redwoods, and explored nearly the whole length of the Oregon coast. But it's been terrible for falling asleep near remote mountain lakes listening to the loons calling.

Maybe next year will be better. I'm already working on the 2006 outdoor schedule. Arjuna, expect an e-mail soon.

(Forgive the overexposure on the photograph. This is merely a digital snap, and my little digital point-and-shoot could not hold the tonal difference between the snow-covered peaks and the trees and trail.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Shut Up and Get Back to Your Pilates, Angelina

In an article purportedly about the silliness of celebrities who act like politicians and vice versa, Slate’s Jacob Weisberg really just vents his spleen about cause-advocating celebrities. Ordinarily, I’m a big fan of Weisberg’s, but he’s gone off the deep end with this one.

Unfortunately, he picks the wrong celebrity poster-child as his representative for this alleged “phenomenon.” So the article comes off as a petulant whine that celebrities give a shit about something beyond their own dressing room.

You see, he picks on Angelina Jolie, perhaps the celebrity who has done the most to earn her stripes as a humanitarian advocate. Weisberg frames his article around an awards dinner held by the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS held on September 28, 2005. He listened to Jolie’s brief (and I do mean brief) speech at this dinner, and from this, has concluded she has little to say about AIDS generally:

First, there is the assumption—now almost automatic—that celebrities are public intellectuals on whatever issues they choose to take an interest in. I don't know whether Angelina Jolie is smart, smart for Hollywood, or not smart even by Hollywood standards. I do know, because I watched her speech, that she doesn't have much to say about AIDS. Her message to the assembled businesspeople and politicians was that we all must do more to fight this terrible disease. In particular, Jolie pressured the audience to pressure CEOs to pressure politicians to do more. When they have no idea what to do, celebs tell other people to tell other people what to do.
My impression when I read this article was that Weisberg was sitting around one night watching C-Span when this thing came on, and he was annoyed at seeing yet another celebrity blabbing about a “cause,” and decided to use his forum on Slate to bitch about it. Leaving aside for a moment whether Jolie’s charge at this dinner was to offer a comprehensive treatment of the AIDS issue, complete with solutions, I wonder whether Weisberg has ever considered that telling people what to tell people to do might be a useful act in and of itself. Guess not.

Weisberg also disclaims any real philanthropic intent on the part of celebrities, instead projecting his own cynicism onto them:

And just how saintly are these stars who give so freely of themselves? Cause-driven organizations like the Global Business
Council want celebrity endorsements for the same reason companies like Nike and Coca-Cola do. Beautiful and famous people get everyone else to look at them. They create positive associations for whatever you're selling. But our idols seldom act out of selfless motives. Whereas product endorsements pay cash, actors and musicians gain heft and respectability by supporting fashionable crusades. What fighting AIDS does for Jolie, freeing Tibet does for Richard Gere, relieving African debt does for Bono, and banning land mines does for Paul McCartney. From the cynical celebrity's point of view, the best causes involve the poor, the sick, children, and animals in faraway places, both because of the telegenic aspect and because they bring no objection from fans or employers. If there were endangered baby pandas on the moon, Brad Pitt would be racing Ashley Judd there right now.
And a damn good thing it would be for those pandas, too, if you ask me.

Then again, I suppose if the aforementioned celebs had an ounce of sincerity, they’d be out there stumping for more animal cruelty, more sweatshops and a little more tough love for AIDS orphans. Does Weisberg find the fur-draped, diamond-encrusted Jennifer Lopez less offensive than Angelina Jolie?

But never mind. I’ll give Weisberg the point that maybe all celebrities aren’t driven by the purest of altruistic motives. (I wonder who is.)

Taken at face value, this article is absurd. One wants to ask – what should celebrities do, then, just shut the hell up? It’s a high – and arrogant – standard Weisberg imposes on those who would dare advocate for humanitarian causes. The cause must be controversial, not something guaranteed to “bring no objection from fans or employers.” Additionally, the celebrity must provide substantive solutions instead of merely raising awareness or lending a high profile face.

I suspect that Weisberg really wants to say that celebrities need to know their shit if they’re going to advocate a cause, but he never gets there, instead merely assuming that 1) it’s not possible and 2) the celebrities are just doing it for self-promotion anyway. While he hints at a certain ineffectiveness in the last couple of paragraphs, he never quite hits the ball home.

I can sympathize with irritation at the self-importance of talking heads who strut and preen at a “benefit dinner” that in reality amounts only to a self-congratulatory circle jerk. Meanwhile, real people suffer and die halfway across the world. Ironically, the person who has made this point best is, well, Angelina Jolie:

“I think you can do damage… Celebrities have a responsibility to know absolutely what they’re talking about, and to be in it for the long run," said Jolie, 29, who has spent four years as goodwill ambassador to the U.N.’s refugee agency UNHCR.
But I think there’s something else at play here beyond mere dilletantish celebrity dabbling. Implicit in Weisberg's characterization of Hollywood as “Washington for the lazy” is the notion that these celebrities have never “earned” the right to be humanitarian advocates, because instead they’ve been playing Lara Croft or, like U2’s Bono, making music. These celebrities’ activities impinge on the rightful turf of “real” intellectuals…like Jacob Weisberg, perhaps?

But I have to ask: Has Weisberg done as much as Jolie to improve the human condition?

I admit, his collections of Bush malapropisms can brighten even the dreariest day, and he has written a book with Bob Rubin, but my money’s still on Jolie.

Or maybe Sharon Stone. Perhaps the biggest feat of celebrity cause-based “grandstanding” this year was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, when Stone raised a million dollars in five minutes for malaria-preventing bed nets. Irritating in its showiness? Yeah. But at $7 a net, how many kids are now protected from malaria-carrying mosquitos?

What’s your tally, Mr. Weisberg?

From the Inbox: How to Run a Marathon

From reader/buddy A on her experience with the Chicago Marathon last weekend:

You know, the last seven miles were awful. Some worse than others. I got a couple weird bursts of energy thanks in part to OutKast's "Hey Ya." The last three miles were pure hell. When you turn the corner at 26, you only have .2 to go, but it just looked so darn far away, I almost cried - and I'm not sure if it's because I was so glad to be done or so sad about the last .2.

Towards the end, I wanted to walk but I knew I needed to run it even if I was shuffling in order to feel like I'd finished. Plus, run or walk, you still got to get to the end. I just kept counting the minutes, knowing approximately how many more it would take me. Afterwards, I was so focused on being able to sit down, but I had to find M, it was nuts. It was almost like being sick, wandering around looking for him.

Then we just laid on the grass and marveled at why anyone would do it.

Congratulations, A & M!

Monday, October 10, 2005

When Your Eyes are Bigger Than Your Stomach


This story is interesting for a number of reasons, including the question of which badass animal is the bigger badass, the python or the alligator, as well as the mere spectacle of an enormous snake eating something so much bigger than itself that it exploded. It's just kinda cool, you know?

But most importantly, this is a lesson in the damage that nonnative species can do. Some genius gets a Burmese python and then, probably after it eats their chihuahua, realizes the snake is kinda big and inconvenient. Imagine that.

Then, further compounding an already breathtaking display of idiocy, this individual decides that the Everglades would be the perfect place to get rid of the python so it'll stop eating the neighborhood pets. Except, not so much. Now it's eating alligators and fucking up the ecological balance of the Everglades. Problem is, this is an ecosystem that's burdened enough without the asshats who think it's a great place to release the exotic pets they shouldn't have gotten in the first place. But who cares, really? It's just a bunch of grass that no one cares about, right?


to Tony, who I believe is responsible for the dissemination of the Go Speed Racer! post or its contents at TS's place of employment, as well as the plastering of TS's space with speeding ticket-related items. Heh. Nice work.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Rose is on a Roll

Rose posted several great links in the comments, but for some reason known only to Blogger, the URL's did not form links in the comment section. So here they are:

Strange New Products. Click here for the funniest product and here for the coolest. (I'm an enviro-geek, okay?) I know FullMoon will be rushing out to buy a case of the candy-corn flavored soda.

Wince-worthy ads with captions. Heh. The first one is my favorite.

Awful Plastic Surgery. This site is always fun. Leave well enough alone already, people.

Thanks to Rose for sharing the link-bounty.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Miss Me?

I'm back. Unfortunately, I have the vile illness that afflicted my spouse. I don't have as intense a case, but it has lasted longer. But I'm still going to try to take my mother-in-law to the beach today.

We'll chat later.

A Horror

The earth has been terrible this year. Tsunamis, hurricanes, and now the awful earthquake in south Asia.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Trailhead Goes to the Trailhead

Well, TS got better late yesterday afternoon. As I kind of test, we ate Mexican food last night and so far, nothing has come out when, where or how it shouldn't. So he has deemed himself fit to hit the trail. With deep regret, we are giving up on the 17 mile East Fork Lostine River Trail and instead we're cutting it down to a hike of about 12 miles from the Two Pan Trailhead (I'm not linking because the Sandman wants us to get the hell out of here and I don't have time.)

So, barring some unforeseen calamity (I will pause while you have a chuckle here), we won't be back till Friday.

Hold down the fort for me, m'kay? Flies, tell us about your latest trip to Madagascar or something.

And Rose, I believe your presence has been requested on the "thread" below.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Cabin Fever

Welp, here I am, tucked up into the Mr. Sandman Best Value Inn in La Grande, Oregon. TS is most definitely not going anywhere for awhile. I just made an outing to get him some ibuprofen and Pepto, and myself some coffee. He tossed back the meds with a little bit of Sprite and promptly went back to sleep. He emits little moans every now and then, which I find somewhat worrying. I think I'll take a wait and see approach on whether we should just pack it in and go home.

So, anyone doing anything interesting? I'm stuck here -- keep me company, wouldja?

Rain, Rogue Waves and Gastrointestinal Disorders

I have concluded that getting Tom Delay indicted must have required a contribution of good karma from every left-leaning person in America. And apparently I didn't have much stored up. Because I am clean outta luck.

Here's a quiz. What do the following things have in common:

Rogue Lake Waves
Gastrointestinal Disorders

Yes, longtime readers, that is correct. Those are all things that have kept me out of the backcountry this year.

The never-sick, never-incapacitated TS is, at this moment, curled up in a ball on the hotel bed. I knew it was going to be rough last night when he said "Ugh. That pizza was awful."

And awful it has been. I have been trying to juggle sympathy and care with bone-crushing disappointment. Somehow I think we won't be making it to the trail today. Maybe tomorrow. Unless they indict Tom Delay again today.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bring me a Dream

Because we are $421.00 poorer, we are staying at a hotel called the Mr. Sandman Best Value Inn in La Grande, Oregon.

But it has WiFi and a king-sized bed so I'm not complaining.

I think we're going to go easy on ourselves and go 16.8 miles on the East Fork Lostine River Trail in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. This will give us time to fish, photograph and laze around in the mornings.

Go, Speed Racer! Or, Trailhead Spouse Discovers How Oregon Funds its Highways Without a Sales Tax

Trailhead Spouse and I have this little game. Since he is congenitally incapable of keeping his speed within the posted limits, every so often I will look over at the speedometer and say “85?” He’ll immediately lift his foot off the gas pedal, look slowly over to me with an affected look of confusion as the car decelerates, and say, “What are you talking about? I’m only doing” – here he glances down at the becalmed speedometer – “70 miles an hour!” I’ll raise my eyebrows, having made my point and achieved the desired result, and look away for ten or so minutes till I have to do it again.

I didn’t make it in time tonight.

I was busy piddling around on the computer in the passenger seat, having just turned the driver’s seat over to TS a few miles back at a rest area. I saw the flashing lights out of the corner of my eye, as we were careening happily down the road.

“Shit. That’s me,” he said.

“Well, this is a new state,” I replied without missing a beat and barely looking up from the screen. “It was probably time for you to get a ticket. You haven’t gotten one since Thanksgiving weekend 2001 on the way to Lake Superior.”

TS’s speeding tickets have been a sore spot with me since my 24th birthday, when he brought me home a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a ticket for peeling out in his 1974 Porsche 911 at a stop sign. A cop had just pulled up to the intersection across from him, an event he had failed to observe in his eagerness to demonstrate the abilities of his Porsche to his passenger, an insufferably geeky fellow grad student who used to say things like “I need to go fabricate – I mean analyze – some data!” Nothing like a citation for “too fast for conditions” (it was raining, too) to make an impression.

The intervening 11 years have only slowed his rate of ticket-gathering, not halted it, as we saw tonight.

TS pulled over after he saw the flashing lights, having realized he was totally busted. Let us just say that he was going so fast we sat on the shoulder of the road for a good 60-90 seconds waiting for the Oregon State Policeman to show up behind us. And when he did show up, he shined an approximately 1,000 watt flashlight in my face on the passenger side of the car. I rolled down the window, squinting at him. He looked like he was about 13, and he was nervous, too. I could see his hands shaking. I suppressed the urge to look up at him and say “Yeah, I’ll have a cheeseburger, some fries and a diet coke with extra ice.” Instead, I just squinted at him.

“Good evening, folks. I just need to let you know this conversation is being recorded. I clocked you at 88 miles an hour. Is there a reason you were going so fast?” Officer Peachfuzz asked.

TS took a breath and looked as though he wanted to make a long speech, but just exhaled sharply and said, “no.” Officer Peachfuzz took his license back and spent what seemed like half an hour examining it before he returned to my window with his megawatt search light.

“Okay, well I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do tonight,” he said as though he were a used car salesman about to make us a great deal. “I’m going to give you a citation, and you can take care of it at this address,” he said, tapping the yellow paper. “See, you’ve got till November 3, so you’ve got a whole month. Can I answer any questions for you folks?”

TS stared hard at the ticket, perhaps hoping that it would spontaneously combust in his grasp and Officer Peachfuzz would run screaming back to his patrol car and peal out like a testosterone-infused 24-year-old in a 1974 Porsche.

But he didn’t.

“Where’s the amount?” asked TS.

“About two-thirds of the way down,” Officer Peachfuzz offered helpfully. “Four hundred and twenty-one dollars.”

My head snapped to the right and I was staring into the searchlight again. “What? Are you f— ” I stopped, swallowing the “ucking kidding me,” when I remembered the conversation was being recorded. I smiled sweetly. “Have a nice night,” I said.

“Drive safely, folks,” advised Officer Peachfuzz before tipping his hat and heading back to his car.

TS looked at me with a defeated expression. “You’re gonna blog this, aren’t you?”

Ya think?