Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New on the Blogroll

A good buddy of mine (and fellow photographer) has started his own photoblog. So go take a look at Available Light. The first images he's posted are from Pike's Peak and the Grand Canyon.

(This post brought to you courtesy of the wireless internet connection at the Lincoln County Public Library. We're all safe and happy and have had a grand holiday so far. I hope you all can say the same.)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Beautiful Wreck? I 've got one of the two, and guess which one it is

Isn't it funny how music can sound like a beginning?

For some reason, I always find my new mountain driving/hiking/kayaking soundtracks right around the first of the year. Last year it was the superb Brokeback soundtrack. This year it's my beloved Shawn Mullins, whose music has riveted me for many, many years. So imagine my delight at his latest, 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor. (Which I'm stunned to discover has been out for awhile and somehow, somehow, I missed it.) I don't love all Mullins' songs (some of the more pop-sounding ones kind of make me yawn), but I go out of my mind over about three quarters of them.

And now, there's the jaw droppingly perfect Blue as You:

New like smoky mornin’, Cool like heaven glow
Meet me on the mountain, I got no place to go

I like my daylight to be silver
I like my night skies to be blue
Blue as you
Go here and scroll halfway down to listen to clips from the CD, including of course, Blue as You, and the irresistible Beautiful Wreck.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Quote of the day

"Never, ever go anywhere ... and not be prepared to spend some time out there, because you might get caught," Wampler said. "Oregon, the Northwest, anytime you get off that highway out here, you're in the wilderness."

-- Sheriff Joe Wampler, discussing the recent search for three climbers on Mt. Hood, and no doubt also referring to the Kim family tragedy in southern Oregon.

This is exactly right. I was discussing with Tony recently why both of those incidents affected me so much, and I think it's because I identify with both parties in some measure. Mr. T and I are a couple with a child who spend a fair amount of time on isolated mountain roads, and we're also outdoor enthusiasts who love the Mt. Hood area. These recent events have caused us to reexamine our practices, to mentally consider our gear, to more carefully evaluate what we take in the car during the winter, and to consider the implications of every outdoor foray.

One of my first bosses in the legal biz advised me once to "consider how other people can screw up," and plan accordingly. But I think it's also critical to consider how you can screw up, and plan accordingly.

Overconfidence kills.

Form Over Substance?

Posted by Wasteland Fan

A "friend" recently received the following e-mail from his/her boss (note that some details have been redacted to protect the innocent . . . and, perhaps, the clueless):

A small restroom on the fourth floor of [one of the] building[s] is
now designated as a lactation room. The lactation room is in the [redacted] wing of [that] building and is located between [one room] and the men's restroom. A sign immediately outside the lactation room reads "Women." No access code is needed to gain entry. [Your employer] provided this space as part of a [company] initiative to establish lactation rooms [at all locations].

Oh, those overly-coddled working moms! Not only do they get to horde all of that societally-imposed guilt, but they get actual rooms set aside for them to lounge in while they "lactate." This particular one is really special, because it has these nifty "chairs" that allow the user to relieve herself while she pumps. And, if that weren't enough, each "chair" has it's own privacy walls surrounding it! Notice, too, that the lactation room is cleverly disguised as a women's restroom, too. I presume this is so that the men and the non-lactating women don't get jealous. The detail of the disguise is really impressive. Having a sign reading "Women" installed at the entry? Genius!

Clearly this employer is poised to shoot to the top of Working Mother Magazine's Family Friendly Company list. Watch out Abbott!

Seriously, is this a joke? How is this different from the status quo? I thought a major point of initiatives to establish lactation rooms was to save lactating women from having to hide away in unsanitary bathrooms to pump.

To conclude, I refer you to the title of this post.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Vacuum up those dustbunnies in the corner where the recliner used to be, willya?

Isn't it nice when you throw open the windows and move the furniture around a bit?

(Quit complaining, Bloggerdad. You'll get used to it eventually.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

A long post I begin by asserting that I have nothing to say

I'm afraid you all should just expect the posting to become even more sparse and even less pithy over the next few days, and through the new year. I'm trying to finish up some work before we leave for Montana, and really [looks furtively around and whispers] there's nothing going on anyway. Well, other than my amusing efforts at a lower-carbon Christmas, which mostly involve competing with Full Moon over who can produce the coolest gift wraps with reused materials. (She always wins.) Well, I did have twelve people I don't know at my house Saturday night to watch An Inconvenient Truth, but that's all.

Of course, now that I've asserted that nothing's going on, something will happen and I'll be back to posting again. But barring that, my inner sloth is taking over. Oh, something may catch my eye or I might disgorge an interesting quote or two, but if you're looking for amusement, you'd better go to Disneyworld because you probably won't find it here.

Hopefully something interesting (other than a car crash or other imperiling event) will occur in Montana that I can relate to you, like the time I saw the Volkswagen bus with a goat in it at the grocery store, or the bobcat I forgot to tell you I saw over Thanksgiving. (We saw it at the dump. What an undignified place to have a wildlife encounter. On the other hand, I've decided that's where I'm going from now on to get my wildlife photographs.)

We did have dinner with friend and hiking partner EJ and his family last night. We were in the middle of our usual euchre game when EJ put his cards down. I saw it coming. "So, I was thinking," was all he got out before I began to laugh.

EJ and his daughter came off the trail last July shortly after I did. I still haven't figured out why I got off; at the time I vaguely attributed it to a mismatch in goals and paces, though that wasn't really it. Ultimately, I'm glad I did get off. If I hadn't, I would have taken Boo along, and she obviously would have died along the trail, and I would no doubt have attempted to carry her out as she lost energy. I can't begin to contemplate the ugliness of that scenario, so I'm glad to have been spared it.

But back to the point. EJ figures we can easily finish the 74-mile Sky Lakes wilderness section next year in 7-10 days. Once we get past that section, the hiking is close enough to home to be accomplished in short sections.

"Oh, okay," I said. "If we must." Laughter all around.

I'm thinking we'll finish up the section between where we left off and where EJ quit last year over the July 4 weekend, then we'll do the Sky Lakes section in August, barring any interference from forest fires.

I looked over their photo album of the trip last night. It was a nice reminder that, while backpacking, I really do look like ass in a can. Ass in a can, people, ass in a can. Whew, that is some grim stuff right there. Eh, whatever.

This lady, on the other hand, managed to maintain a cool loveliness during the trip. Perhaps I should begin wallowing in the mud on the trail as well.

I guess 2006 wasn't Trailhead Kid's year

Trailhead Kid last night, singing:

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a happier year

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Look, Full Moon! We ain't so dumb after all!

Check this out:

As a child's IQ rises, his taste for meat in adulthood declines, a new study suggests.

British researchers have found that children's IQ predicts their likelihood of becoming vegetarians as young adults -- lowering their risk for cardiovascular disease in the process. The finding could explain the link between smarts and better health, the investigators say.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Quote of the day

"After all, it's a vicious, capitalistic world and hence common sense, intuition and true spiritual awareness are often merely the meek bitchslaves to aggressive marketing campaigns and soulless politicians and an instant gratification culture that values the immediate money shot far more than it does long-term slow-burn extended orgasm. Deep, soulful caring is often just below 'replace smoke alarm battery' in terms of priority."

An interesting take on the game of chicken we're playing with climate disruption from Mark Morford, columnist for SF Gate. Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Subject? We don't need no stinkin' subject

This is my first attempt at an underwater nature photograph, circa 2004. That contraption -- also known as a Nikonos V and Ikelite strobe -- ain't exactly graceful. Plus, I always have trouble on dives actually staying down, on accounta I'm full of hot air a chick with body fat, and this makes my body want to pop to the surface like an unfettered buoy. They always weigh me down with multiple metal bars strapped into a piece of webbing which then gets tied around my waist. But it's still a fight, and when your body is trying to surface, these are the kinds of compositions you get.

Fortunately, I'll get another opportunity to use the old film-based dinosaur contraption in January, when we head to the Florida Keys for more days than I deserve, and fewer days than I would like.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Question for Pacific Northwest winos

Our neighbors in Montana, Dr. G and her husband The Professor, are just incredibly lovely people. The Professor keeps the road up the mountain meticulously plowed, and always carefully plows the drive up to our house when we visit in the winter. He has a key to our place, and keeps the heat regulated for us, as well as just generally watching over the place.

The Professor is also something of a wine connoisseur. I, on the other hand, am not. I like the smell of wine and will occasionally take a sip or two, but to me a cabernet might as well be that thing you keep your pots and pans in. Are there any Oregon or Washington wines, perhaps organic, that Santa would not be embarassed to bring The Professor?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown

Being busy in the first half of December is something of a tradition for me. In law school (and college before that), this was final exam time. Law school exams are harrowing, primarily because the final is most likely the only graded event in the entire course. If you screw the pooch on the final exam, kiss your grade point average goodbye. And as anyone who's been through law school (and law firm interviews) knows, it's all about the friggin' GPA.

Perversely, I kind of liked studying for finals. I got to hole up at home in ripe sweats and a ponytail, listen to A Charlie Brown Christmas, and outline my Contracts course. Outlining appealed to the compulsive in me; six different colors of highlighter and three different colors of ink for the various elements of the outline. And if the test I was studying for was open book, cue five different colors of Post-it notes arrayed carefully on the outline situated in a three-ring binder. And Linus and Lucy playing chirpily in the background.

Soon this will all be over, I'd think, and I can enjoy Christmas -- and enjoy the great gobs of time that were my own, to do with whatever I wanted. No place to be but maybe back in Indiana or Mr. T's parents' house in Georgia. Nothing to do but read for pleasure, watch a few movies or sit around with Mr. T and our dogs. On the evening of the last final, Mr. T and I would go out to dinner so we could remind ourselves what the other looked like and talk about Christmas shopping.

These days, it's not exams. But strangely, it seems I always get a rush of work the first half of December. So today I found myself at the kitchen table, pecking away at my laptop keyboard, Schroeder playing Fur Elise in the background.

Soon, I'll be enjoying the Christmas season.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Quote of the day

"I, for one, am tired of paying the price of 10 or more of our troops dying a day. So let's cut and run or cut and walk, but let us fight the way on terror more intelligently that we have because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way."

-- Oregon's (Republican) Senator Gordon Smith

He also observed that he is at "the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up the same bombs, day after day."

"That is absurd," he said. "It may even be criminal."

Nothing like a little Iraq Study Group to provide a bit of political cover. I'm becoming convinced that was what the ISG was really aiming for in the report. No one on that panel could have expected Bush to heed their words. I think the ISG crew was trying to convince a) the traditional media, who for some reason seem to think that withdrawal is out of the mainstream notwithstanding that 60% of Americans favor complete withdrawal in 6 months, and b) senators and congressfolk who are, for whatever reason, still in thrall to Bush and Rove.

Well, they can put a checkmark by Gordon Smith.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tonight at Chez Trailhead

Mr. T and I are sitting side by side on the couch, laptops on laps, feet up on the oak chest, alternately working and watching bits of The Daily Show.

Mr. T: Listen to this. [Reads ad from craigslist seeking "erotic services" in exchange for digital photography.*] Who replies to this stuff?

Trailhead: I dunno. You know, I think you should post an ad on craigslist saying, "Seeking someone to give me money for doing nothing."

Mr. T: "Serious inquiries only!"

We totally crack ourselves up. Maybe you had to be there.

* He was looking at the digital SLRs for sale for me, perverts. Yes, I checked.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"The era of consequences"

As most of you know who suffered through my endless posting of All Things Tester this election cycle (as well as my overwrought election liveblogging), I care a lot about issues. I vote, read the news voraciously, and actually attempt to achieve at least a rough match between the principles I yammer on about and my life.

Which is why it's surprising that I did not view An Inconvenient Truth until two nights ago. Truth is, I only have so much stomach lining, people, and I just knew that if I watched that film before the election, the acid would chew clean through it. I already know it's a huge problem, I told myself, so why do I have to go and scare the bejesus out of myself even further?

Plus, I knew it would make me nostalgic for Al Gore, for whom my adoration eclipses even that which I hold for Jon Tester. Damn it, I went to bed election night 2000 thinking our country might survive and even flourish, and three weeks later Warmonger G was the President-elect. That hurt.

But recently Mr. T and I have been lately having discussions about the future involving those nettlesome questions about matching principles to practice, and I realized I needed Al's backup. Mr. T was a geologist and environmental consultant before he became a bidnessman, and so he has a perfectly good sense of climate disruption and the human cause of it, but it was still too much an abstraction. In the course of these chats, I mentioned AIT.

"So let's see it," he urged.

And we did. Whew. To say it's compelling is somewhat less than adequate. The film so deftly strips away the abstractions of global warming and sets forth, in plain and stark relief, the moral imperative. There are parts of the film where even the knowledgeable Mr. T gasped. But you leave hopeful; Gore outlines, in graph form, all the changes that will ratchet down the warmth of the planet. This one's a life changer.

As a result, you'll probably be seeing more posts here about this issue.

Roger Ebert wrote, in his review of An Inconvenient Truth:

In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.
If you haven't seen it yet, see it. You really sort of owe it to the world.

Little pitchers, big ears

Actual scene tonight as Thomas was about to grab one of Trailhead Kid's toys:

Trailhead Kid: "Damn it, Thomas, don't even think about it!"

Me: TK --! [Turns head and begins to stifle gales of uproarious laughter as Mr. T shoots me a dirty look, then struggles for his own composure.]

Why is it the kid doesn't listen to either of us until we say something like "Damn it, Thomas, don't even think about it"?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Do slugs have an*ses?

Is there anyone who's been around this blog long enough to remember when slugs were the order of the day, and not vultures?

Gee, maybe it's time for another sabbatical.

Thanksgiving goes to the dogs

Unlike his humans, Thomas is unfazed by any existential questions that may have arisen from his tumble down a ravine in the pickup truck.

The view from the bay window when we first got there:

What it looked like the day before we left:

A random view of the solarium. We spent a fair amount of time in the hot tub, which you can see at the bottom of the pic (or the cover, at least):

Friday, December 01, 2006

All right now

Which one of you is visiting Sarasota, Florida and thought it would be funny to google "nature photos vult*re sh*t?"

(No, I haven't turned into a pearl-clutcher, I'm just trying to lower my bird-of-prey related google ranking.)

Better than South Beach

Give a damn about the world? Read's Green Challenge and go on a carbon diet.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Have a Very Merry Motherf*#@ing Christmas"

Posted by Wasteland Fan

Another entry in the "alternative" holiday music genre.

(In case the title of this post wasn't enough of a tip, let me be clear: This video is not "work safe" in the conventional sense. I imagine, however, that Bloggerdad wouldn't object too heartily to TH taking a break from her brief writing to play the song in the privacy of her own home.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sign of the day

I agree. Stop it with them already, wouldja?

Music Genome Project (UPDATED)

Posted by Wasteland Fan

(UPDATED so that first link works.)

While we're on the subject of great music (see TH's message below), let me recommend The Music Genome Project.

I've discovered all kinds of music that I really love just by letting it play in the background.

My newest find is Speechwriters LLC. Love 'em.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I only like hippopotamuses

And hippopotamuses like me too!

Oh, glorious day! All hail iTunes! I have found and downloaded my favorite Christmas song ever!

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
And my favorite line:
Mom says a hippo would eat me up but then
Teacher says the hippo is a vegetarian
Mr. T's just gonna hate it when I play this song ad nauseam for the next month.


Now I just have to unearth the Looney Tunes version of Blue Christmas and I'll be set for the season.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A brief sidenote

I think I'll just have to say it, as there are rather few ways to whitewash it or soften the edges. We had a close call last week. We were returning to Libby from Kalispell last Monday night, exactly one week ago, when we hit a patch of black ice, lost control, and flipped the truck. Down a hill, and into a creek.

We are all fine. We all walked away, even the dogs in the back. Though I'm still not quite sure how. Once the tow truck arrived and dragged the truck out of the creek, we even drove it away. And back home to Portland yesterday and today. Again, not sure how. The Montana State trooper was amazed.

As I understand it, once you've been through a near-death experience you're supposed to realize that life is short and you're then supposed to make a number of changes, preferably radical, which involve living life much more fully and zestfully. Perhaps that stage will come, but I'm quite not there yet. I'm still grappling with the terror and the enormity of it, frankly. The rest of the week was tinged with a sense of menace, and the world seems just a little darker and less comfortable.

Perhaps the most noteworthy effect of this incident so far is that it has knocked the smart-ass right out of me. Most of you who know me will understand the significance of that development.

And it's a start, anyway.

But life does, as they say, go on. And I do wish to move along, though I'm somehow changed, and it did not seem fair to conceal that from all of you.

And that, as Forrest Gump would say, is all I have to say about that.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Off to the ranch

We're going to spend Thanksgiving week in what I hope will be extreme peace and quiet. Between the renovating we're doing, we'll take a few moments to sit in the hot tub, curl up in front of the fire, and hike through the barren woods of early winter.

This trip, no human or canine will be allowed outside without an orange vest. This is the last week of hunting season, and our place backs up to the national forest. Our neighbor, Dr. G, tells a story about the other physician in her practice who was standing in his own front yard during hunting season one year, minding his own business, when suddenly a bullet came whizzing by his ear.

The G's own about 35 acres that completely surround our measly six and a half, and they have peppered the boundaries of their property with "No Trespassing" signs. In Montana, they observe, people are far more likely to respect these signs than in other places, but hunting season is the time when they are least likely to be respected.

So, neon orange it is.

We're going to try and get internet up at the house this week, but I don't know whether we'll get it done.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

"Put everything in the stock pot and stir the hell out of it"

Only from a Bloggerdad recipe, I tell ya.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

We have so much petroleum left, I'm going to start bathing in it!

That's basically the thrust of the headlines reporting this study, which concludes that oil supplies aren't expected to start falling until 2030, and we have enough oil to last 122 more years at current consumption rates.*

Hummers for everyone!!**

I read this article with interest, because it contradicts everything I've heard from the science community, including my own husband, who holds a master's degree in geology. Then the first part of this statement flipped the old Skeptic Switch, which was blinking wildly by the time I got to the last part of it:

“Oil is too critical to the global economy to allow fear to replace careful analysis about the very real challenges with delivering liquid fuels to meet the needs of growing economies,” said Peter Jackson, director of oil industry activity for Cambridge, a Massachusetts-based consultant to the oil, natural gas and electric power industries.
(Emphasis added.)

A consultant to the fossil fuels industries. I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

But hey, that doesn't necessarily mean the study is flawed. I'll reserve judgment on that till I have more time to read it and other scientists' thoughts on it. So let's assume the study's conclusions are correct.

That does leave that other little matter of climate disruption.

But hey, have hope. There are no doubt plenty of consultants to the fossil fuel industry who will be quite willing to tell you that's a crock of shit too.

*I assume, then, that this study assumed that China's consumption rates would remain steady. That's a big farkin' leap without much basis in reality.

**The cars, you perverts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Well that flattop does look a little scurvy, and God knows where those fingers went

Capitol police fail to recognize Senator-elect Tester:

The Capitol police weren't quite ready for Tester, a farmer with a throwback flat top haircut and fingers missing on his left hand from an old accident with a meat grinder. They asked him to empty his pockets for inspection.

''Just like at the airport, you put it all through?'' Tester asked.

The officer nodded, then recognized the newcomer and waved him through.

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Simian muse

Meet one of the voices in my head here.

Get your own here.

Via Lewis, whom I hold responsible for introducing me to this addictive toy that will strip hours off an otherwise productive life. Yes, I got through that productive part with a straight face. Can you believe it?

A Little Group Therapy

Posted by Wasteland Fan

Hi. I'm Wasteland Fan and I'm a college professor.

Hi, Wasteland Fan.

It's been three semesters since I lashed out at a student in a fit of pique at his or her patently obnoxious and disrespectful behavior.

* * *

Well, in lieu of a twelve-step program, perhaps all of you could help me out. Let's call it a group therapy. In the comments, share a story from your time in college when you behaved toward a professor or approached a class in a way that is now mortifying to you. It might help me gain back my perspective that all people -- even a group as fine and distinguished as the readers of Trailheadcase -- behave in ways in their early 20s that they thankfully outgrow as they become mature, thoughtful, productive adults.

Otherwise, I'm thinking it's possible that my current students are agents of the coming apocalypse.

Note to Googlers (Updated)

Yes, Jon Tester lost three fingers to a meat grinder as a child.

No, I don't think he's a vegetarian. I read somewhere that he used to be a custom butcher.

Yes, he does grow organic crops. (See link above.)

That ought to cover your questions.

I can't wait to see what Kristy makes of this one.

Update/Confidential to Wasteland: Well, I thought it was a meat grinder, anyway.

Who the hell am I kidding? You totally win.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

First snow and a hot pot

Shanghai doesn't get much snow, according to O, our friend who is also Mr. T's China-based colleague. So, because I subscribe to the "Travel is not so much about having fun as just immersing yourself in a completely different milieu" philosophy of globetrotting, we dragged O up to the Timberline Lodge yesterday. Mt. Hood received as much snow in an hour yesterday as Shanghai probably has in the last 25 years. O was surprised by the depth of the cold, but the shutter on his camera was tripping frequently, so I'm hoping the trip at least left an impression.

For my part, I was delighted to unearth my favorite winter jacket from the closet and feel the snow beneath my feet again. (It won't be long, though, before I'm whining about the loss of my beloved summer.)

After my gastrointestinal adventures in China last spring, I determined to do my best to take care of O on his most recent trip to the States. Mr. T and I both found Asian food almost unbearable even to look at toward the end of our trip. So expecting that O would have a similar reaction to Western food, we decided to get him more Asian food toward the end of his visit. To his great credit, O is willing to try almost anything (as Mr. T is when he goes to China). Since he arrived, he's eaten a smoked salmon omelette with hollaindaise sauce at a French bistro we frequent, Mexican tortilla soup, and a number of offerings on their brief trip to rural Arkansas last week to which he could only react with a shudder.

"How's O doing with the food?" I asked Mr. T over the phone during their trip to Arkansas.

"Oh, about as well as I do in Yangjiang," he snickered with a small but regrettable note of schadenfreude no doubt produced by one too many meals of sea worms and elephant snails.

O's chief complaint is that everything tastes the same here (and no doubt like crap, though he leaves this part out). So you can imagine the gusto with which he greeted the hot pot meal we had arranged with the same Taiwanese friend who had held it last year. Last night was the first time I saw him approach a meal without looking a wee bit like a man walking to the gallows. O takes great pains to be a polite, considerate guest, but you can see the weariness in his eyes.

After our meal last night (during which TK actually sampled a slice of lotus root), there was a definite spring in O's step. Today we left him in the care of one of Mr. T's co-workers who hails from mainland China, so I suspect he ate well again.

And after that, he only has two more days before he can go home and get some decent food.

I know just how he feels.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

All right Kristy

Even I know that there's no such thing as a Montana Vulture Anus, especially one that looks like Jon Tester.

Nice try.


Update: My goodness, now everyone's getting in on the act! I'm being google-bombed!!

Friday, November 10, 2006


Google of the Day, from the United Kingdom:

"beetle ice cream beetles humans."

Okay, unless TK is googling from his preschool, I can't figure this one out. Was it on TV? The Simpsons? Lost? "Everybody hates Chris and his beetle ice cream?"

Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Memo to solicitor who decided to come to my door and annoy me this afternoon while I was working

Telling me that you'll come back when I'm "in a better mood" is not the most effective way to convince me to do what you want. Go away, and do not come back.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

We were this close to Jesus coming back!

Colbert on the election. Hee.

(Sorry, FM)

Bear with me for a moment while I enjoy this

Looks like the Senate's starting to look a little bit more like Montana.

What's this strange feeling?

Something's different here. Oh yeah....


Friends, it's been eight years since I've felt this good the morning after a national election. And I tell ya what, I'm doing a happy dance over here, though it was a little belated till I could feel confident about my big political crush, Montanan Jon Tester.

Look at what we've accomplished:

  • South Dakota voters rejected a nasty, punitive abortion ban by 12 points.
  • Oregon and California defeated parental notification measures, both by 8 points.
  • Missouri's measure to allow stem cell research passed by two points.
  • Arizona's measure to ban gay marriage, while not finally called, is flagging by about 30,000 votes with 99% of precincts reporting.
  • Nancy Pelosi is poised to become the first female speaker.
  • A Democrat took Tom "I heart DDT and Jack Abramoff" Delay's House seat.

  • It's a good day. And shortly, we here at Trailheadcase will return to our regularly scheduled programming on the biology of turkey vultures.

    And the hits keep coming

    Donald Rumsfeld to step down, says CNN.

    So, Joe Lieberman anyone? A Republican Connecticut governor will get to appoint Lieberman's replacement, thus tipping the balance of the Senate back to the Republicans.

    Nah, surely the White House wouldn't be that nakedly cynical, would it?

    Now watch this drive.

    Let's see how this one plays out.

    Bush nominates ex-CIA chief Robert Gates for Defense Secretary.

    Flat Top wins it

    So say the AP and NBC.

    Hello, Senator Tester.

    I'm actually a little bit teary. We have an organic farmer from Montana in the United States Senate.

    Where we are

    Via Daily Kos, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has sent out the following statement on Tester and Webb:

    Both Jon Tester and Jim Webb have won their races in Montana and Virginia but want to make sure that every vote is counted. We expect to have official results soon but can happily declare today that Democrats have taken the majority in the U.S. Senate.

    Montana Vote Situation: Jon Tester leads Conrad Burns by approximately 1,700 votes (as of 11am EDT) and counting. In Silver Bow County (Butte), a Democratic stronghold, votes are still being counted but Tester is winning there with 66% of the vote. We expect to gain the majority of these uncounted votes and to add to Tester's margin.

    Montana Process: When the counting phase is completed, a canvass will verify the vote tallies. That process could take as long as 48 hours, and must begin within three days and end within seven. Unless the canvass shows the margin to be within ¼ of 1%, there is no recount. As the loser, Burns would have to request the recount. When the votes are all counted, we expect to be outside that recount margin.

    Virginia Vote Situation: Jim Webb is up by approximately 8,000 votes and once the provisional ballots are counted, we expect Webb's margin to increase. (Please note that VA absentees were included in the tallies from last night.)

    Virginia Process: A canvass is underway to verify the results and we expect that process to finish within a day or so. To be in recount, the margin needs to be less than 1% and Allen (as the loser) would have to request it. Because of Virginia voting laws, the margin would have to be much tighter than it currently is to see any change in the outcome. Given the current margins, that is highly, highly unlikely.

    Leave it to Montana (Updated again and again)

    To be the last state to report. Yellowstone county is getting a recount, and word is, it won't be done till morning.

    I'm going to bed.

    Update: Crap. This sucks. Montana is starting to look a lot like Florida in 2000. Tester is ahead by a paper thin margin with 96% of precincts counted. People all over the world care about this. I'm getting hits from Finland, for crying out loud, from people googling "Yellowstone County."

    Yellowstone county. Daily Kos has the best selection of information on this. I need to go back to bed for a few hours. I'm only up because TK wanted some water, and I'm such a geek I couldn't resist checking in.

    Update Deux: With 99% of precincts reported, Tester has 1,586 1,735 vote lead, says CNN. I believe there's only a very small county left to tally along with a tiny portion of Yellowstone.

    If the numbers I'm seeing are correct, the only county left is Meagher, which only has less than 1,500 electors. Burns would have to take every single vote to erase Tester's lead. People on Daily Kos are calling for Tester to declare victory. I suspect there will be recounts, but I'm inclined to agree with the clamoring masses here. Call it, Flat Top.

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    Macaca in trouble?

    Holy crap. I watched all evening as Webb closed the gap on George "Macaca" Allen, and darned if he didn't just pull ahead by something like .08%.

    I think the lawyers are gonna hash this one out.

    A new House

    At least, so say ABC and CBS.

    Tester's leading in early returns, but it's an awful lot of blue counties. I'm not at all confident.

    Proud to be a Hoosier tonight

    The first GOP House seat turned over to the Dems: Indiana-08, Brad Ellsworth.

    And Baron Hill over Sodrel!


    Senator Man-on-Dog.


    First returns (Updated)

    From CNN, Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, who says he'll caucus with the Dems, projected to win. Richard Lugar of Indiana is also projected to win. Considering Lugar had no challenger, that's not much of a surprise, though I guess it means Flies With Moose's write-in candidacy couldn't squeak by.

    Also from Indiana's 8th Congressional District: Democrat Ellsworth 70%, Hostettler 30%, with 12% reporting.

    Update: CNN has Webb up by 1 point with 23% of precincts reporting. (I can't really give you a link because it's from my customized list of races.)

    And so it begins

    CNN's exit polls finding corruption to be top issue for voters.

    Corruption? Day-um. That only cuts one way.

    That sounds a little off to me, though. Any thoughts?

    Well that sucked

    I was just about to post the following tidbits about ninety minutes ago when my electricity went out. It just came on again. Must be a Republican conspiracy, hee.


    Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman prefers to vote on a paper ballot, as does columnist Bob Novak. I can't imagine why.

    Conrad Burns campaign has hissy fit, pulls Great Falls Tribune's credentials for his election night event because the newspaper published a Gallup poll last night showing Tester ahead by nine points. Then, perhaps realizing the utter dumbfuckery of that move, the Burns campaign reinstated the Tribune's credentials.

    Tidbits (Updated)

    Interesting news out of Montana:

    "[T]he MT Sec of State reported Friday that 106K voters cast ballots early or by absentee... well over 1/4 of the votes expected in the state. Of these, Dem internal polls had Jon Tester winning 58-37."

    Come on, flat top!

    Also, Colorado congressional candidate, Democrat Jay Fawcett, was the victim of vandals last night who trashed his office and sprayed "skunk smell" all over the place. Yippee. Oh yeah, and he was the recipient of a death threat. But it was his third, so he's used to it, you know.


    Harassing Republican robo-calls actually using the Democratic candidate's voice. Nice touch, assholes.

    Tension reliever

    I'm trying to listen to some calming music to soothe the frayed election nerves, but for some reason, I still have "Who Let the Dogs Out?" running on loop in my head.

    Who let the dogs out
    Woof woof woof woof woof


    Meanwhile, here's a hysterically funny send-up of the negative ad for your viewing pleasure. (I realize I'm coming very close to becoming a youtube addict. No intervention necessary.)

    FBI investigating voter intimidation in Webb-Allen Senate race in Virginia

    Good grief:

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the possibility of voter intimidation in the U.S. Senate race between Sen. George Allen, a Republican, and Democratic challenger James Webb, officials told NBC News.

    State officials alerted the Justice Department on Tuesday to several complaints of suspicious phone calls to voters who attempted to misdirect or confuse them about election day, Jean Jensen, Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, told NBC’s David Shuster.


    In the Washington, D.C., area, NBC affiliate News4 reported on its Web site that it had received e-mail from a viewer in Virginia who said he received a phone call from so-called volunteers threatening voters with arrest if they cast ballots.

    News4 reported: “The viewer's e-mail stated after he had voted, he received a call from an unknown caller who said they knew the voter was registered out of state and would be arrested if they voted today. The viewer's e-mail stated he's been registered to vote in Virginia for the last three years and has the Virginia Voter Registration card to prove it.”
    Here is an audio file of one of these calls.

    Indiana problems

    Widespread problems getting voting machines started in Marion County, Indiana (Indianapolis). Problem involves about half of the voting machines, which poll workers forgot how to start. County clerk Doris Ann Sadler said it could take all day to fix. Meanwhile, paper ballots are being used.

    Hoosiers voting today, how has your experience been? Where are you voting?

    Election orgy

    That's what it's gonna be today, folks. Basically my way of communicating with the three people reading this blog for the political stuff.

    By the way, if you're still deluded enough to think we don't have election problems in this country, go read all the posts on the front page of Talking Points Memo. Ugh.

    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Election specifics and a plug for Oregon's balloting system

    On the evening of November 7, 1988, my father pulled me aside and gave me the following advice: "Vote before you go to class tomorrow, as early as you can get to the polling place. That way, if you die later in the day, your vote has been counted."

    1988 was the first general election I voted in, though I'd voted in the Indiana Democratic primary the previous May when I was still 17, under the law that allows 17 year-olds to do so if they'd be eligible to vote in November's general. My dad's advice made sense, and I followed it. It didn't help Michael Dukakis, but I still remember it every November.

    Now there's an even better reason to vote early -- so you have time to work it out if you're getting a hard time. Remember this number: 1-866-OUR VOTE. This is an election protection hotline, and you should call it if you're having trouble voting.

    I worked the election protection phones in Indiana in 1998 (If I recall, Wasteland worked them with me that time). See what high-quality folks are staffing these phones?

    Don't let them screw you out of your right to vote. Fight back if you're getting a raft of shit.

    All that said, I think Oregon has the best damn system in the country. Our paper ballots arrived in the mail a little over a week ago. Mr. T and I sat down at the kitchen table tonight and marked our ballots at our leisure. You can mail them in, but they have to arrive by 8 p.m. Tuesday or they don't count, so tomorrow morning I think I'll run them to the collection spot at the library two minutes away.

    Because, you know, one or both of us could die tomorrow afternoon.

    Sometimes the clothes do not make the man

    It's almost over. But until Tuesday, I won't be shutting up.

    Meanwhile, this is the best piece of political youtubing I've ever seen. Watch it, dammit.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    "Freedom of speech is fine, but you shouldn't do it publically"

    I've always been with the Chicks on this one. The sheer amount of shit they've had lobbed at them for speaking out against Bush is amazing. See the trailer below.

    Oh, and guess what? NBC is refusing to air this trailer because it's "disparaging to President Bush." Welp, it's good to know what their broadcast criteria are.

    Happy Birthday Bloggerdad

    The Inspector wishes you many happy returns.

    Sunday, October 29, 2006

    New on the blogroll

    Check out Spirit of Saint Lewis, one of Bert's frequent readers and commenters who has started his own blog. I'm looking forward to reading him. After all, how can a guy who's been followed by the KGB not have an interesting blog?

    The Great Pumpkin

    All hail Charlie Brown.

    Friday, October 27, 2006


    So here I sit, downloading horror movie soundtracks for the party tonight, and reveling in the campy spookiness that is my favorite holiday. I enjoy Christmas, with its happy festivities, its peace on earth and goodwill toward all, but for my favorite holiday, toss me a jack-o-lantern, a blacklight and friends actually using power tools to construct their costumes for my party. (Isn't Tony great?) Never underestimate the willingness of perfectly mature adults to put on an outrageous getup and party down.

    So I'm counting down the days till the witching hour with some Halloween clips. Here's today's. Who couldn't love this video?

    Is Heroes the New Lost?

    Posted by Wasteland Fan (in full-on Wasteland Fan mode, no less)

    Who's watching Lost this season? It's still great TV, but I'm feeling less involved. The cast is cumbersome and the storytelling a little more disjointed than in previous seasons.

    Heroes, on the other hand, is this season's Lost. I am lovin' that show. Anybody with me? It gets better each week.

    Halloween party

    Tomorrow night. You're all invited.

    I'll miss you, former Indy Halloween partygoers. It really, really, really won't be the same without you.

    But I'm sure there are some last minute cheap flights. Let me know when to pick you up.

    Full Moon, who in the hell is going to be my dead bartender?

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006


    So they executed Danny Harold Rolling in Florida for the murders of five college students in Gainesville in 1990.

    I moved to Gainesville in 1993. One of the apartments I had was a quarter of a mile away from where Danny Rolling killed one of his victims. I worked with the cousin of one of the victims, an 18-year old college student. Rolling had killed her and left her head on a bookcase to be found later. I remember my co-worker breaking down in agonized tears on the day Rolling was convicted.

    I'm generally against the death penalty, and even worked hard my third year in law school on behalf of an inmate on North Carolina's death row (he's now serving life without parole). But there are days when it's hard to work up a lot of passion about it. This is one of them.

    This is it, right here (Updated)

    As you all either know or have surmised, I am interested in and feel strongly about politics.

    Why? Because ultimately, it's about people. And I care about people. I've never been able to shrug off the responsibility of caring about people by ignoring politics. In the end, you never know when it'll be your ass on the line.

    But I don't blog it as much as a regular "political blogger," because 1) that would turn this into a completely different blog, and 2) there are already some amazing political bloggers, and what I have to say here is mostly gilding the lily.

    But if you want to see the most critical issue of our time summed up in a single political ad, here it is. Three thousand people, folks -- and those are just the Americans. Though estimates have gone as high as 655,000, let's just take Bush's numbers and assume that 30,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in this conflict.

    Those 33,000 people had spouses, lovers, friends, parents and children. Some of them were children. Just like yours.

    The Republicans say the stakes are high in this election. You're damned right they are.

    They don't know what they are doing. And they're willing to lie about it.

    I'm not asking you to become some left-wing diehard. I'm just asking you to think, hard, about what to do in this election.

    UPDATE: Bloggerdad asked that I include Michael J. Fox's recent ad for Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Read here about Rush Limbaugh's slam on Fox, in which he claimed that Fox was acting, or had gone off his meds in order to exaggerate his symptoms. In reality, Fox's appearance in the ad is far more likely a side effect of the meds that he is taking.

    Rush then apologized, but said it was still "exploitive" of Fox to make the ad. Oh, yeah, I forgot that rule of civil discourse where it's actually wrong to show the real life effects of policy -- in this case, the effects of a disease that could be alleviated with the help of embryonic stem cell research. Silly me.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    A haiku for Thomas

    My underwear gone
    Chewed and ripped on the carpet
    And you look guilty

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    More on the Montana place

    Mr. T and I have been spending a great deal of time scanning my slides in, and I stumbled across this pic in the middle of the literally hundreds of slides we're working with. I usually take snapshots with a regular old point and shoot, but I went ahead and snapped this one with my pro gear because I was headed down the road to shoot across the valley.

    This was from the first trip I ever took there. I made two trips in the dead of winter before I ever got there in the summertime. So I didn't know when I took this shot that lupines, balsamroot and wild hyacinth were all buried under the snow, awaiting spring. But not everything is asleep up there during the winter. Deer regularly stop by in the morning to nibble on whatever plants are sticking up through the snow.

    As I recall, the evening of the day I took this picture, three more feet of snow fell -- enough to reach halfway up the front door.

    See that thing on top with its own deck? That's called a crow's nest (just like on ships) and the original owner built that on after the place was constructed. From the crow's nest, there's a clear, unobstructed view of the valley, the town and the Kootenai River. We can hear the faint whistle of the trains that pass through town from up on the mountain. TK always wants to climb up to the crow's nest when he hears it, so he can view the train as it winds along the river.

    It's on a little over six acres, and the property line extends up the mountain a significant distance to a little clearing where the view is even better than in the crow's nest. I'm ashamed to admit that I climbed up there for the first time just this summer. I think it was up there that Mr. T and I firmly decided to take the plunge and buy the place. The corral is located just off the right edge of the picture, and enclosed by a beautiful log fence my father-in-law constructed by hand his first summer there.

    The house was built in the early 80s, and hasn't been redecorated since then. Being more of a sportsman than aesthete, my father-in-law didn't really care. But his son and daughter-in-law are both! (Well, let's just say I'm not a sportsperson, but I'm an outdoor type.) So we'll be doing some renovating, starting during the week of Thanksgiving. We've decided to make our renovations as environmentally friendly as possible, which means they'll probably be more expensive, and so will take us longer to complete.

    We're going to start with zero VOC paint on the walls, and from there we'll be investigating salvage timber floors, Paperstone countertops, and so forth. We pressure-washed the solarium the last time we were there, and got a start on pressure-washing the roof. Next spring we'll pressure wash the cedar siding, which has been burned black in places from the relentless summer sun -- as you can see from the picture.

    The hot tub is in good shape, and I don't see any point in expending the resources to replace it right now. The house also has a solar water pre-heater, and we'll probably get that checked out next summer and serviced if needed.

    Mr. T also plans to make most of any additional furniture that might be required. Instead of buying wood to do this, we've been prowling the national forests for whole, downed logs. He's long wanted to try his hand at whole-log furniture, and he's going to avail himself of the opportunity. We won't cut any or purchase any logs; all the furniture will be made from wood that's already down. We have a pile of spruce logs curing in our garage right now. Fortunately, I bought Mr. T a draw knife, used for peeling logs, last year for Christmas.

    We will also be getting DSL up there soon. (Two years ago, that wouldn't have been possible, but the reach of technology has expanded up the mountain.) I enjoyed the unreachability for a long time, but it's too hard to work when I have to go into town every time I want to access e-mail or the online legal research databases I use so often. With DSL, I can spend more time there.

    I'll probably be posting updates as we go, along with before and after pics.

    Home . . . and a Confession

    Posted by Wasteland Fan

    I'm home from India feeling irretrievably jet lagged. WS and I went to "The Producers" last night and I all but slept through the second act. Then, when I got home and tried to go to bed, I was wide awake until 2:30 a.m.

    Now for the confession: Though it was entertaining to cause Mr. T to freak and to get the adoration of all you snake fans, I must admit that the Charming picture was snapped from the safety of a motor coach. Not that I would have been afraid to approach the snake charmer, I woudln't have been. But the picture gives the impression of a daring that I cannot claim in this particular instance.

    You know how you learn something every time you travel? Well, put this one in the "now you know" file: In order to re-enter the U.S. after travelling abroad, foreign students in the U.S. on student visas must take not only their native passports and the student visa, but also a little form called an I-20. Immigration officials get very testy when, say, a student from South Korea visits India and forgets to bring along his or her I-20. It can result in threats to detain the student in India, delayed flights, nearly missed connections in Frankfort, and a lot of angst for both student and faculty chaperones.

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Actual conversation on the trail up to LaTourell Falls yesterday

    Trailhead Kid (looking down at the trail at an insect busily crossing the path): Oh, look at this new beetle!

    Me (unaware that there was an old beetle somewhere): Oh, cool!

    Mr. T: Where do you think he's going?

    Trailhead Kid: To the beetle restaurant, to get some dinner and...and...and...then some beetle ice cream.

    Me: Wow, beetle ice cream. I wonder what that tastes like. Beetles, maybe?

    Trailhead Kid: Um, it tastes like people and beetles.


    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    More on Tester

    This is rich:

    Former U.S. senator Max Cleland is in Montana, campaigning for Democrat Jon Tester, who’s running against GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns. This in today’s Billings Gazette:

    “During his speech, Cleland made light of his own amputations by grabbing Tester’s left hand, which is missing three fingers lost in a meat grinder.

    “‘At least he won’t be putting his hand in the till like someone we know,’ Cleland said, referring to Burns’ campaign donations of about $150,000 from Jack Abramoff, his clients and associates.”

    Photo of this here.

    That meat grinder thing? Ow.

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Wherein a paw reaches out from the great beyond

    When Boo died so suddenly this summer, I finally wanted another dog. But I didn't want a female, and I wanted the dog to be as different as possible from Whiskey (our Golden Retriever who died three years ago) and Boo. Thus the tri-color mutt. The strange thing about Thomas is that, as much as I wanted him to be different -- starkly different -- from Boo and Whiskey, that's not how events have unfolded.

    Over and over again, Thomas has channeled his predecessors through various actions and behaviors, and kept their memories firmly on the forefront. They're mostly little things, like the way he yawns with a little yelp, hoards rawhides and the expression he gets when he grabs a sock. But the other day, I got a startling example on film.

    You know, I couldn't feel anything of Boo that had lingered behind after she died. Until we got Thomas.

    What I did on my hiatus

    It's clearly time for another one, as soon as I get over this plague. (Mr. T, Trailhead Kid and our friend and his daughter are in the canoe.)

    In the same vein

    Good heavens, but Conrad Burns is nuttier than a sack of Planters.

    Is it just me, or are the people laughing at him, and not with him?

    Fire Burns, indeed

    Can I just take a moment and bore you with my latest political crush?

    Yesterday I threw some scratch to Jon Tester's senatorial campaign. As much of a political junkie as I am, this is the first campaign contribution I've ever made. I know, I know. I have volunteered time, run phone banks, sat by phones giving legal advice to people having trouble voting, and done voter registration. But I've always spent my money on environmental organizations and other nonprofit groups.

    But I was compelled to do it this time because damned if I don't have a huge political crush on Jon Tester, who's running in Montana against Senator Conrad Burns, a Republican. The polls are looking good for Tester, and I really wanted to be a (tiny) part of his victory. I'm only a part-time Montanan (for now), but my heart is lodged firmly up in the northwest corner of that great state.

    I was in Libby the day before the primary, when it was still kind of expected that Morrison would beat Tester. But I was seeing Tester yard signs, and not much for Morrison (though Morrison did end up winning Lincoln County.) I'd heard about Tester from the various political blogs I read, probably Daily Kos or something.

    He's a farmer. And more than that, his farm has been moving toward organics for some time. He also used to be a custom butcher. That this fact has not diminished this vegetarian's enthusiasm for him is testament to the size of my crush.

    This is shaping up to be a great election season, but the biggest bummer for me is that I don't get to vote for Jon Tester. I just have one thing to ask of the future Senator Tester:

    Please, please, please. Don't let DC turn you into a washed-out, limp copy of your robust self. I want to keep my political crush on you for a long time.

    That is all.

    Here are my favorite Tester ads. I love the way he says "Montana" in that clipped kind of, well, Montanan way.

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    The Taj

    Posted by Wasteland Fan

    Lots of good pictures, but here's a teaser on a day I'm in a hurry to get out the door to a bus that will no doubt drive heedlessly into oncoming traffic for most of the day.

    Saturday, October 14, 2006


    Posted by Wasteland Fan

    I'm in India right now with 59 undergraduate business students. Just thought I'd share. I'll probably write more later about it and post some pictures.

    We leave for the Taj Mahal in about an hour.

    I'm not sick . . . yet.

    Friday, October 13, 2006


    It's 5:45 a.m. That most ruthless of predators, the common cold*, has been stalking me for days, and last night laid me flat. Fever, watery eyes, muscle aches, congestion. Yippee! And just in time for the weekend.

    And now, thanks to this tiny rhinovirus, I cannot sleep.

    Am I the only one for whom the term "rhinovirus" conjures up a distinctly comical image?

    *It's preschool petri dish season.

    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    A Tale of Two Googles

    "Lawyering for cold weather hiking." Well of course you landed here, dude.

    "Texas vulture anus." Okay, now we're getting somewhere with this vulture anus bit. So, do you think it was Laura or Condi that did this one?

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Intermission II

    Up in this high air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be. --Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa
    It's autumn again, and that always seems to mean international travel season. Rose has been on a tour of Europe, Wasteland's leaving for India tomorrow, and commenter ASP is leaving tomorrow as well, heading to Tanzania. Fall always seems to move people to travel beyond their own borders. Indeed, it was two years ago today that I was preparing to leave Spain after 8 days of exploring Madrid and Toledo. And even today, I look out the window and think, "Maybe I should go to Chile." Must be the cheap airfare.

    But I won't be traveling internationally this fall, as I've allocated my resources elsewhere for the moment. Mr. T and I have purchased the beloved Montana house. His parents wanted to sell it, and we wanted to buy it. And so the place I was so sad to think was going away is now ours. We're not moving there full-time, (yet!) but we will be spending even more time there from now on.

    It's a good, good place.

    Deer in the corral at the house

    You can see the rest of my images from the surrounding area here. (At least till I take down THI, which will probably happen pretty soon.)

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Hi, Atus!

    The weakness of that title alone ought to tell you I need a break. I really didn't know I needed one until I simply stopped posting last Friday when our Constitution was shredded, consumed and shat out like one of my dog's rope toys. Remember that? Yeah, I know it's hard to recall such trivialities in the midst of a good old-fashioned American sex scandal, complete with underage boys, staggering hypocrisy, and the requisite cover-up.

    So here I am, postless for almost four days running. I've been doing a number of other things -- making a flannel quilt (did y'all know I do girly things too?), kayaking up near Mt. Hood, preparing to take the photography thing to another level, laundry, playing with my kid, having discussions about religion with good friends, and actual legal work.

    I'll be back later.

    Friday, September 29, 2006

    You have no civil liberties if you're dead

    Or, apparently, if George Bush unilaterally decides that you have "supported hostilities against the United States." Wonder what that means. I guess only he knows. (Oh and folks? Read the bill. It applies to U.S. citizens, and not just U.S. citizens abroad, as if that would make it any better.)

    I am so angry today. I had a long, angry post written, but instead I shall defer to the Onion, which had this whole thing figured out in December, 2002.

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    It's that time of year again

    Banned Books Week, kids.

    I come from the kind of family where, had any book been banned or restricted by my school, both of my parents would probably have rushed to purchase it for me simply to poke a finger in the eye of the censors. Trying to conjure up the image of either of my parents writing a missive to the school board demanding the removal of any books sends me into fits of irrepressible giggles.

    Both of my parents are book freaks, and they passed it on to me. My mother has shelves upon shelves of history-related books. When I stay at her place, I know I always have access to various historical biographies to read in the bathtub. (This time it was George Washington.)

    Bloggerdad has a whole room full of books on this or that topic. During my youth, it was a ritual to go to dinner and browse a bookstore after. He was, on the whole, unmoved by any request that he purchase me consumer goods to satisfy a whim, but he never (and I really mean never) turned down a request that he buy me a book.

    So naturally, neither of them ever presumed to restrict my reading materials, certainly past the age of 10. There's only one thing that comes close. When I was 17 or so, I grabbed the book "The Writer's Art" by James Kilpatrick and waved it at my Dad, which was shorthand for "how 'bout you spring for this here book?" He glanced at it and said, weakly, "Kilpatrick? Kilpatrick?"

    But he bought it anyway. It's downstairs right now.

    In that spirit, I'm going to go right now to buy Trailhead Kid a banned book. I think I'll go with "And Tango Makes Three."

    I'm back

    I have returned from Indiana. I'm lucky I was able to fit into a commercial airline seat, and that my sister didn't have to roll me home. Indiana, you see, is where I go to eat the midwestern comfort food that eludes me most of the time. Only Full Moon knows how many fried biscuits coated with apple butter that I stuffed into the gaping maw that was my mouth on Sunday afternoon. (And she won't tell because I know lots of stuff about her, too.)

    Problem is, I did admit to a number of people how much of my mother's spaghetti pie I ate. And my nine-year-old nephew watched in horror as I finished off my birthday cake on Sunday morning. The 1.5 mile hike I took in Brown County State Park on Sunday afternoon only began to make amends for my gluttonous behavior last week.

    But I'm back in the land of fresh fish, apples and hazelnuts, not to mention mountains. And it's fall, and the weather is glorious, so I'll be putting on my hiking shoes soon.

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Trailhead Kid has a birthday

    Holy cow, he's four freakin' years old. The baby boy who covered his bits with his hands so the ultrasound tech couldn't tell what we were having, this little dude who landed in my life and complicated everything, this baby who had visited 26 states before his second birthday, is now a little boy. I don't know quite what to do with that, but I imagine it's a little easier than what has befallen my parents. They've just had their youngest turn 36.

    He's getting a bike this evening. It's red. Mr. T and I stood, mouths agape, staring at it last night.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Yes, I Am Evil (or, Where did the Last Hour Go?)

    You've been warned. You will, without doubt, be addicted quickly.


    Post your best times in the comments.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Goodbye, Ann Richards

    Former Texas Governor Ann Richards died tonight of esophageal cancer.


    In remembrance, I'd like to bring you some of my favorite Ann Richards quotes:

    “Poor George [Bush], he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

    "Oh, I would probably have raised more hell." (When asked what she would have done differently had she known she'd have only one term as governor.)

    "I have always had the feeling I could do anything and my dad told me I could. I was in college before I found out he might be wrong. "

    “I have very strong feelings about how you lead your life. You always look ahead, you never look back.”

    On how to be a good Republican: "1. You have to believe that the nation's current 8-year prosperity was due to the work of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but yesterday's gasoline prices are all Clinton's fault. 2. You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own. 3. You have to be against all government programs, but expect Social Security checks on time.”

    “Let me tell you, sisters, seeing dried egg on a plate in the morning is a lot dirtier than anything I've had to deal with in politics.”

    We're poorer without her.

    A good day

    This morning I will really set about getting my black bear footage off the camera and onto youtube. It's pretty neat, so I'll hop to it. But meanwhile, here's some Montana porn:

    I let Mr. T tool around in my kayak, after I'd paddled about half the length of Lake McDonald.

    TK up at Logan Pass looking like a little Jawa.

    The bear, when he was still far away. He didn't stay that far away!

    TK in McDonald Creek, out of his cloak. It's a lot warmer down there.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Commence Polack jokes

    You scored as Poland. Your army is Poland's army. Your tenacity will form a concept in the history of your nation and you're also ready to continue fighting even if your country is occupied by the enemy. Other nations that are included in this category are Greece, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands.





    Soviet Union


    France, Free French and the Resistance


    British and the Commonwealth




    United States






    In which World War 2 army you should have fought?
    created with

    Idiocy of the day

    Is it just me, or would this break Steve Irwin's heart?

    Oh, the irony. The little bit of intelligence and emotion we have on the rest of the animal world sometimes reveals the indifference of nature as the peak of rationality.

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Then and now

    Fine, everyone else is posting on it, so I'd probably be remiss not to do so myself.

    Five years ago this morning I woke up, flipped on the radio and heard what had happened. As I got into the shower, I looked at Mr. T and said, "You ever heard of Osama bin Laden? You have now." This had to be him.

    I went to work, where nothing was going on except lawyers wandering the hallways aimlessly, stopping in to one office or another to exchange blank stares or short words. The courts closed that morning, and the federal building in town closed as well. I remember worrying about Wasteland, who was working in a federal government office at the time, Mr. T's brother, who's always traveling to NYC, and all my law school classmates who'd gone to work in New York City.

    Two senior partners took me and another associate to lunch; lines that were normally rigidly maintained broke down briefly.

    How do I feel today? Well, I could go on for days about that if the disgust wouldn't well up in my throat, requiring a detour to the bathroom. So I'll let these people say it for me.

    The people who did this accomplished what they set out to do, I'm afraid. Not just the killing of so many innocents, but the mangling of a people, of hope, of a system of governance that had sustained for so long and through so many other terrible trials. And it's still too early to tell whether we'll survive it.

    So you can see why I'd rather post about black bears and houses tucked away in the north woods, where the deer visit the corral at sunset and the night is sweetly silent.

    September Wildlife Report

    3 black bears
    6 wild turkeys (birds, not bottles)
    1 frog
    2 grouse
    2 ground squirrels
    1 bighorn sheep
    1 hummingbird
    1 pack rat
    innumerable white-tail deer, including one 8-point buck

    Not bad. That'll happen when you visit Glacier in early September.

    I'm here for the week until Saturday, then TK and I are off on our annual trek to the midwest for my continuing legal ed seminar, and family-and-friend time.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    My 36th birthday: bears, snotty grass and smart-ass husbands

    Mr. T's birthday isn't until September 20, which gives him 13 days every year to crow about how he's married to an older woman. Blah, blah, blah, now shut the fuck up.

    Actual conversation this morning at the La Quinta Inn in Kalispell, Montana:

    Mr. T: It's 7:30! We have one day left in Glacier. Let's get up!

    Me: Mpffffmf.

    Mr. T (leaning in closer): You know, I've noticed something since I've been married to an older woman. You don't seem to have the energy you used to.

    Me: Or it could just be that you're a succubus and are draining it all away from me.

    We old bitches still have the comebacks handy, even when we're half asleep.

    Yesterday was nice, though the schedule was altered a bit by a dog. We originally planned to leave for Glacier Wednesday afternoon, and spend my entire birthday there. But on Wednesday morning, Lovable Mutt began to cough, wheeze, bleed from the nose and otherwise appear to be in respiratory distress. We were concerned enough to call the only vet in town, who did not have an appointment available until 9:00 am on my birthday. So we pushed back our plans, and decided to leave right after the vet and come back Friday evening.

    Then, very early Thursday morning, Lovable Mutt began to raise a major ruckus, wheezing and sneezing and pawing madly at her nose. I got up to check on her. Lo and behold, she had about an inch-long piece of grass hanging out her left nostril. Because there was no other choice, I grabbed it and yanked out what turned out to be a seven-inch long piece of grass. She sneezed once more, shook her head a little and went immediately back to sleep.

    Well, no wonder.

    So. My first act after turning 36 was pulling a piece of snotty grass out of my dog's nose. No doubt this bodes well for the year.

    On the other hand, late yesterday afternoon we spent 20 minutes watching a black bear cram his gullet full of berries in Glacier National Park. As soon as we figure out how to get the footage from the digital video camera, I'll youtube it here for you.

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    I think y'all might be in some trouble, George

    Conversation between three old men in cowboy hats overheard in a cafe in a small northwestern Montana town. The cowboys are watching one of Bush's security speeches.

    Old cowboy #1: George Bush. We need a Democrat.

    Old cowboy #2: He was one of the nicest men we'd ever had in office.

    Old cowboy #3 (incredulous): George W. Bush? You kiddin' me?

    Old cowboy #2: Oh, George W? I thought you were talkin' about his father. Hell, no.

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Crikey. He was a beautiful creature.

    Apparently Steve Irwin has been killed off the coast of Australia. I distinctly remember watching one of his specials in the summer of 1997 -- I think it was Ten Most Dangerous Snakes or some such thing -- and thinking "this guy is insane, but he's gonna be huge." Mr. T, with all his phobia of crocs and reptiles, watched Steve Irwin with a sort of horrified but admiring fascination. (He even dressed up as Irwin for one of our annual Halloween costume parties one year.)

    Irwin is one of those guys who, crazy as he seems while he's waxing eloquent over the crocodile he's standing next to, make the world a better place just by knowing he's in it. So wildly passionate about animals and conservation, you just knew progress was being made, and people were being educated.

    I hope this isn't true. Australian authorities have been unable to confirm it so far.

    Update: CNN is reporting that the Queensland Police Services is confirming Irwin's death.


    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    Goodbye cruel world, I'm going to Montana

    As soon as my jet-lagged husband wakes up. Well, actually, tomorrow morning.

    TK and I went to the zoo yesterday.

    Hello little meerkat!

    And here's what TK acted like most of the day:

    You certainly couldn't expect me to resist an elephant's ass, could you?

    Tuesday, August 29, 2006

    Dinner at Trailheadquarters

    One of the rather many hardships we endure during Mr. T's international absences is the cooking of TK's breakfasts. Breakfast is usually the province of Mr. T, except on weekends when I make buckwheat pancakes or french toast or whatnot. Today, we had breakfast for dinner -- or at least TK did. He announced at 5:30 p.m. that he wanted a "yolk egg."

    Uh-oh. I cannot prepare a proper fried egg to save my life. This is because up until birthing this little son-of-another-fried-egg-lover, I had never bothered to try. Principally because I find them disgusting. Mr. T and his progeny, on other hand, apparently find them a delicacy on par with the world's finest caviar.

    So I gave it a try. I always give it a try, and I'm fortunate that TK has not yet developed a discriminating palate able to distinguish between his father's fried-egg masterpieces and my significantly inferior offerings.

    I discarded the first effort, as I discovered after plating it that I had not cooked the white long enough. (Lovable Mutt was pleased, though, as I dumped it into her bowl along with some kibble and secluded her from the harassing attentions of Thomas so she could partake in peace.)

    The second two eggs fared better, though one yolk popped in the pan and ran all over during the flipping process. TK did not notice, to my profound gratitude and relief. He ate the two eggs and mopped up the yolk with a slice of whole wheat bread. Then he announced he was still hungry.

    "Get me some jelly bread," he demanded. We've been working on the politeness issue; and by that I mean I've been trying to teach him not to behave like Henry VIII at the table. After we'd worked that out and he'd issued a proper query on the availability of jelly bread, accompanied by a "please," he found himself presented with another slice of whole wheat bread spread thinly with organic strawberry jam.

    I prepared my own dinner while he ate it.

    "Mommy, can Lovable Mutt eat bread?" Because TK often asks whether the dogs can eat one item or another, I replied distractedly that, yes, the dog could eat bread but it might not be the best idea.

    A few minutes later, he asked for another piece of jelly bread. TK often goes through growth spurts where he eats like a fiend. So while I would have preferred that he eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable, I get significantly more easygoing on these matters when Mr. T is gone. I served up another piece of jelly bread.

    "Mommy, please cut off the brown. I don't like the brown."

    I was puzzled. "But TK, you ate it on the other piece of --- wait a minute. Did you feed the crusts on the first piece to the dog?"

    TK clearly knew he'd backed himself into a corner. If he admitted feeding it to the dogs, he was busted. If he didn't, that meant effectively admitting he'd eaten the crusts on the first piece, and he knew I'd say he could just eat them on this piece, too. He practically had "I am so screwed" tattoed on his forehead. So he tried another approach.

    "Mommy, you didn't spread the jelly right. Daddy always spreads it in little circles."

    Ahhh, a time-honored tactic. Look! Over there! Something shiny!

    I know from experience this usually works on lawyers, and even sometimes judges. Parents, however, are generally made of tougher stuff.

    Monday, August 28, 2006

    For Tony

    I was rather drily scolded by Tony during an instant messaging session this morning:

    Tony says:
    love the chinatown pics... just what I needed

    [Trailhead] says:
    you being sarcastic?

    Tony says:

    I suspect Tony has arrived at the "fuuuuuuuuuuck, I wanna go hooooooome" portion of his international travels. So in order to make amends for inflicting the Chinatown photos upon him, I thought I'd post some other snapshots of our fair home to ease the misery.

    Even though I know it's his kids he misses the most, and not the landscape. :)