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.