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 cliché 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?

Which Way do we Go?

Okay. We'll be going either to the Wallowa Mountains in eastern Oregon, or south to Lassen Volcanic National Park and/or Mt. Shasta. We haven't decided yet, and probably won't till we have to get on the highway.

Stop pulling your hair like that, Full Moon. It'll leave bald patches on your head.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bike Paths and Boy Scouts

There are two items of interest in today’s Indianapolis Star, and both of them tend to underscore differences between my old home state and my new one.  

First up is an article detailing the sorry state of Indianapolis roads with respect to “bike-ability,” and local cyclists’ efforts to improve matters.  Indianapolis has within its city limits a grand total of 3.7 miles of bike lanes.  This doesn’t include the sixty miles of greenways accessible only to pedestrian and bike traffic – but those sixty miles are essentially cut off from anything else.  They are roads to nowhere, in effect, unless you conduct most of your activities along one of them.  In other words, these greenways are fine for a recreational ride, but are limited even for that purpose, and do almost nothing to accommodate bicycling as a means of transportation.  

The fact is, if you want to use your bike to get from Point A to Point B in Indianapolis, you are going to have to risk your neck to do it.  I struggled with this issue when I lived there.  The houses I occupied near Broad Ripple and Glendale were the most bike-friendly.  I could avoid the insane traffic by riding through parking lots, neighborhoods and on the occasional sidewalk, and still get to my favorite restaurant or store without getting flattened by an SUV.  

But when I moved to the last Indiana-based location of Three Dog Farm, I was socked in by Michigan Road.  To get to the safety of the White River Greenway, I had to ride several miles alongside the segment of the driving public that thinks it’s hilarious to swerve into a bike’s path and watch as the bike goes wobbling all over the place and eventually spits its rider out onto the shoulder of the road.  So I didn’t do it.  When I felt like biking into Broad Ripple, I’d hitch a ride with TS as far as the White River Greenway, then head in from there.

This sort of thing is not as much of a problem in Portland.  You can’t take two steps without hitting a greenway or a bike lane. (In deference to Full Moon, I will refrain from using my usual “you can’t swing a dead cat without” preface, which I admit is kind of odd anyway, coming from someone sympathetic to animal rights issues.)  People actually use their bicycles for transportation here.

And, wonder of wonders, Oregon is the only state whose obesity rate did not increase last year.

Becoming bike-friendly – or even merely less bike-a-phobic – is one of the things Indianapolis could do to dramatically increase the quality of life available there.  But Indy’s elected officials don’t seem to get this, and appear to scratch their heads and say “huh?” every time someone brings it up.  The addition of bike lanes would likely be inexpensive or “cost neutral,” with the federal and state grants available, according to Steve Talley, the City-County Council President.  If that’s the case, it would be crazy not to build them.  But as we all know, just because they’d be crazy not to do something doesn’t mean they’ll do it.

Next up is the reason why Trailhead Kid will not be participating in the Boy Scouts unless and until there is a radical change in their national policy.  Dave Wendling’s 6-year-old son wanted to join the Boy Scouts at his Lawrence Township School, and Mr. Wendling stepped up and volunteered to lead the group, when no one else would.  

Mr. Wendling went home and shared this news with his [male] partner who apparently gave him an odd look and reminded Dave that the Boy Scouts seem to have a few issues with gay folks.  So Mr. Wendling called the dad in charge of the recruitment meeting, who then called the national organization, and asked whether there was a problem.  There was.

Sorry, Dave.  You’re gay.  Buh-bye.  

Not only was Mr. Wendling not allowed to lead the group, he was not even allowed to attend an overnight event that was held at a public school.  Nice.

But Trailhead, you say, how can you possibly keep Trailhead Kid from being in the Boy Scouts?  It’s a time-honored tradition!  It’s outdoorsy!  And heck, they probably wouldn’t even enforce that rule in your local Portland groups.  So don’t you think it’s wrong to keep TK from joining when every other little boy will probably be doing it?

Nope.  Not a whit.  And here’s why:  What if every other kid was joining a group whose national organization had a rule against admitting black people?  Should I let my child join just because the local chapters didn’t enforce that rule?  

It’s my responsibility as a parent to teach my son how to treat other people, and to help him create an ethical framework for his life.  The Boy Scouts purport to assist with that aim.  But this exclusionary rule not only contravenes that goal, but aggressively undermines it.  And that’s sad, because everything else about the organization and its activities seems positive.  I have a number of friends who benefited from their affiliation with the group as boys.

But some of the people the Trailhead family loves most –who have been outstanding, loving examples for TK since he was born – are not considered “good enough” by this group.  I’d be some kind of hypocrite if I ignored that.  And that’s not what I want my kid to learn.