Friday, March 31, 2006

Bathroom Territorialism and the Common Three Year Old

Bladerunner's brother and his wife own a two bedroom, ski-in, ski-out condo here at Big Mountain. (We'll call the Trailhead Brother-in-law Rear Engine. We'll call his wife Grasshopper. Lest you think I'm taking nicknaming liberties, I will advise you that these were their self-selected trail names during their 1996 Appalachian Trail thru-hike.) They came in from their home in North Carolina this week, and we drove over to visit for awhile.

Rear Engine and Grasshopper have two sons -- the 4 year-old Towhead, and a 3-year old I like to call Laser Boy. I call him this because this kid fairly vibrates with intensity. When he gets really into an activity, Rear Engine told me today, he literally starts to quiver. Laser Boy was asleep in the second bedroom when we arrived last night, and they moved him into the other bedroom so we could go to bed. I awoke to sound of a door opening and a small voice this morning.

"Hey! This is my room and I like to watch TV in this room and you guys really shouldn't be sleeping in my bed and I watch TV in here because this is my room and I want to watch TV and what are you guys doing in ---"

"Laser Boy!" Rear Engine hissed. Squalls ensued. Sounds of footsteps as Rear Engine dragged Laser Boy into the other room. More hollers.

We learned later that Laser Boy is inordinately attached to the bathroom in the room we are occupying, and felt it was extremely unfair that his toilet options had been limited. He had entered the room with the intent of spending some time on his favorite can, and was highly perturbed to find the place occupied.

The screams eventually subsided, though, and we kicked around the mountain all day. The snow is melting. Tomorrow we head to Glacier National Park.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On the Road Again

Long weekend in Montana, folks. We'll be leaving tonight, so that Trailhead Kid doesn't drive us batshit crazy because the ride is too long. We won't make it much past southeastern Washington tonight, but that's far enough. I'll be posting from the condo in Whitefish, so let's hope something post-worthy happens. Maybe we can even top the thrilling drama that was the Boston Lettuce Bird Flip post from last summer. Oh, the humanity.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Bitch, The Bitch, The Bitch is Back

Thanks to a new hard drive and a saint of an IT guy.

Sock it to me, cats.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tough Crowd

Come on. Between horny alligators, the relative sexual skills of conservatives and liberals, and dog shit, no one had anything to say today? Jeez, what do you people expect, War and Peace?

As a sidenote, right now I am installing a new hard drive into the antique laptop. This will become my backup, and I'll work with my images on that. It will also fill the gap till I get my beautiful shiny new laptop next week.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

They Could Start in My Backyard

San Francisco is going to turn dog shit into alternative energy.

I love these people, and might be sorely tempted to go live there if I could afford more than a cardboard box under an overpass.

Here's how it works:

In a pilot program to start this year, Norcal Waste, a garbage company that collects the city's trash, plans to use biodegradable bags and dog-waste carts to pick up the poop in one of San Francisco's most popular dog parks.

The waste will be run through a methane digester, a tank in which bacteria break down the feces to create methane. This biofuel can then be piped directly to a gas stove, heater, or anything else powered by natural gas.

Who's Ever Heard of a Great Piece of Elephant?

My good friend J bought me a T-shirt for Christmas one year that said "Democrats are sexy. Who ever heard of a great piece of elephant?"

Well, there's this story that won't die about the ten reasons Republican men are supposedly better in bed.

Let's just say -- ahem -- that hasn't been my experience.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Knock Knock. Who's There?

Um, an alligator.

So it's alligator breeding season and some horny male gators are leaving the swamp and knocking on suburban doors:

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. - So now the alligators are going door to door. When Lori Pachelli heard someone knocking at the door of her home in a gated community in this southwest Florida community earlier this week, she looked out to see an unwelcome visitor on her front stoop: an 8-foot alligator.

The bull gator, which had wandered up from the pond behind the house, had a bloody lip from banging its head against the door.
Jeez, answer the door already, lady.

Via Feministe.

Note: Yeah, that's one of my shots. One of my biggest photographic frustrations is my consistent failure to get a really good gator shot. Wish one of the fuckers'd show up at my front door.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

ENFP, to a T

Just took the online version of the Meyers-Briggs test. (Or what someone said was the online version of the M-B test.) Wow.

This is me. And this.

The test is here.

Update: It occurs to me that this is the sentence from the first link that makes me say "holy crap, that's me": "This strong drive to unveil current events can make them tireless in conversing with others, like fountains that bubble and splash, spilling over their own words to get it all out." (Emphasis added.)

What, me?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Trailhead's Laptop Lies Here, 2002-2006

My laptop lost its battle with old age and infirmity today, requiring me to cough up eleven hundred bucks for a new one, ouch. Posting will be light around here till it gets here. Meanwhile, have yourselves a time in the comments.

How 'bout that George Bush, huh?

Monday, March 20, 2006

More Meme Whoredom, Wherein My iPod Reveals Itself to be Eerily Possessed

Oh, this one’s irresistible. The Magic 8 Ball Music Meme: Use the shuffle function on your music player and see what you come up with in answer to the following questions. Here goes.

How does the world see you? The Painter, Neil Young.

Will I have a happy life? A Love that will Never Grow Old, Emmylou Harris. On cue now – “Awwwwwww.”

What do my friends really think of me? Help Me, Wynonna Judd. (Thanks a lot, guys.)

Do people secretly lust after me? What is Life, Shawn Mullins.

How can I make myself happy? A Lighthouse’s Tale, Nickel Creek. (Considering this is about the suicide of a heartbroken lighthouse keeper, perhaps I should re-evaluate this meme.)

What should I do with my life? I Am, Train. Heh.

Will I ever have children? (Or more, I guess?) I’ve Come to Expect it From You, George Strait. Who could that be?

What is some good advice for me? Am I the Only One, Dixie Chicks

How will I be remembered? Cuckoo’s Nest, Nickel Creek. This just keeps getting better and better.

What is my signature dancing song? Fortunate Son, Creedence Clearwater Revival

What do I think my current theme song is? Fat Bottomed Girls, Queen. I shit you not.

What does everyone else think my current theme song is? Be Free, Loggins & Messina

What song will play at my funeral? Brokeback Mountain, Gustavo Santaolalla. Really? Who knew?

What type of men do you like? Easy Come, Easy Go, George Strait. Okay, this is just getting weird.

What is my day going to be like? H.W.C., Liz Phair. Bladerunner should be happy to hear that.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Confessions of a Meme Whore

My name is Trailhead, and I am a meme whore. I cannot help it. If I see one, I reflexively respond. Perhaps it's my penchant for vanity posting, for blathering on gleefully about the smallest who-could-possibly-give-a-fuck minutiae of my life. I don't know, and I really don't care. And if you're still reading, neither do you.

Today's meme comes from Kristy, who has tagged everyone capable of reading her post, which of course -- of course!-- includes me.

What are the things you refuse to do because of your prior employment?

I won't watch law shows or read law novels. No way, no how, nuh-uh. I've never seen an episode of CSI, Law and Order, or Law and Order Special Thingamajiggy-wiggy Unit. I haven't read a Grisham book since law school, and the only law movie I like or can even tolerate is My Cousin Vinny. People, I do this all day long; it doesn't need to follow me into my leisure time. Plus, they always get something wrong anyway, and that drives me batshit crazy.

I think that's it. Most of my youthful employment was restaurant-based, and I am enough of a chow hound to ignore or repress what I know about the restaurant industry.

The usual suspects can consider themselves tagged. Those without blogs, cough it up in the comments.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Another Idling Post -- Only Eight Months Later

See up there under the Trailheadcase where it says "militant idler"? I'm serious about that, you know. In fact, I let people know at the very beginning of this blog where I stood. More than once.

So Trailhead, you ask, why don't you write about it more? Well, mostly it's because I'm too busy idling. But it's also because I frequently use other stuff in the media to jumpstart my own commentary, and it's a rare thing to find something in the mainstream media affirming my vision of idling. But lo, today we have a Fortune article by Anne Fisher on entitled, "Be smarter at work, slack off."

Damn straight, Anne Fisher. Now, I can think of at least three of you who are thinking, "yeah, right. Slack off and get sacked is more like it." Hey -- I can't fix this with a snap of my fingers, people, I can only write about it. And you can nod your heads and continue to pour out contempt upon your greedy, asinine employers who do not understand that they are only hurting themselves when they suck the very life out of their workers. Well, they're hurting their workers, too, but who really gives a flying cat fuck about them, right? So it looks like we'll have to concentrate on the serendipitous fact that slacking is good for bidness.

Fortunately, we have Ms. Fisher here to underscore this point:

Consider that for most industries, the U.S. can't hope to be the low-cost producer in a global economy. With innovation now our main competitive strength, creativity is crucial for anyone who wants to move up.

But it's really, really hard, if not impossible, for the human brain to come up with fresh new ideas when its owner is overworked, overtired, and stressed out. And in today's wonderful world of nonstop work, 40% of American adults get less than seven hours of sleep on weeknights.
Come on, seems like a bunch of whiners to me.

Indeed, "the notion that busyness is the essence of business can only do us long-term harm," writes consultant Tom DeMarco in a book called Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency.
Sounds like the bidnessperson's version of Tom Hodgkinson's How to be Idle. I'll have to pick it up.

But really, you say, this sounds great but there are no concrete examples to prove that this works out in practice as well as it does in theory. Well, you're right -- that's the weakness in this argument. There's only one example, and that's of an obscure little company of little consequence, called Google:

Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., is a famously laid-back place, replete with lap pools, massage rooms, pool tables, free haute cuisine, and loads of other stress-reducing amenities like onsite dry cleaners and hair stylists.

"We want to take as much hurry and worry out of people's lives as we can, because a relaxed state of mind unleashes creativity," says Stacy Sullivan, the company's HR director. "And everybody's on flextime here, so we don't reward face time or working super-long hours. We just measure results."

In the end, what else matters? Of course, not every workplace can match Google's. But plenty of companies might do a lot worse than to emulate the thinking behind it.
At the risk of sounding like a Johnny One Note (like I really give a shit about that), think of where all your best ideas occurred to you. I can think of one of mine. Back when I worked in Indy in the same office as Bloggerdad and Trailhead Brother, it was TB's and my practice to cut out of the office in the mid-afternoon and get a Big Ass Drink at the Jimmy John's down the street. One day, I was in the process of trying to figure out how to get one of my clients out from under a 6 million dollar lawsuit (well, that's what the plaintiff thought it was worth, which isn't saying much).

Did the lightbulb moment come to me while hunched over my computer screen? Please. You know me better than that. It was on the way back to the office, Big Ass Drink in Hand, that I thought of a brilliant fucking argument. Needless to say, matters ended well for my client.

Archimedes I'm not, but the point stands.

Go read the whole article.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I Heart The Hill Country

Here is an article about Texas Hill Country, one of the best places left on this overpaved lump of rock. I spent four days photographing the area in mid-April of 2001. About this time of year, and continuing into mid-April, wildflowers start to pop out and swarm the landscape. And here's the thing: It's not like a few pansy-ass wildflowers here and there and then a bunch over there in the park. In a good year, they are freakin' everywhere. Our home base was in Fredericksburg, which has a lot of German food, including pastries, and is an altogether charming damn place. I highly recommend it.

Oh, and let's not forget to conduct the shameless whore of my image blog. Here are three of the wildflower shots I came home with. Some of you've seen the post already. Click on it anyway. It strokes my fragile ego.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Modest Proposal

Could we please just purge our vernacular of the term "bootylicious"? Please?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Excuses, Excuses, and The Memoirs of a Canine Pain in My Ass

Well, spray me with birdshot and call me Harry Whittington. Darned if it didn't snow two days in a row last week here in the valley. That meant that TK was home, as everyone here freaks out when it snows, because a) it hardly ever does and b) there are lots of hills on which to slide and crash into things, unlike Indy where everything is mostly level. So his Montessori preschool was closed. This is one of the reasons blogging around here has been so light. That, and the aforementioned speechlessness that was briefly interrupted by my fit of pique over the Oscars.

I went around our yard and plugged every potential dog-squeeze-through spot with some big clay flowerpots. (TS repaired them permanently this weekend.) Diva Dog (not her real name, but better than the generic Trailhead Dog) watched me do this with a contemptuous expression that said, "you silly woman. Do you really think you can foil my escape? I stay here because I want to," she seemed to scoff before sniffing the air primly and flouncing off to stuff herself under the bed again.

Really, there is no way to overstate just what a prima donna this dog is. She's been this way since the beginning. Ten years ago, TS and I moved to North Carolina from a college town in Florida. Our first weekend there, we decided to take in a little local color, and visited the local flea market. We wandered the aisles of crap until we stumbled on a box alive with a squirming black mass of fur. We stopped to take a look, and there was Diva, stomping all over her brothers and sisters, pausing occasionally to chew on one of their ears or tails.

At the time I thought this sort of thing was endearing.

The woman in possession of the box advised me that her champion cocker spaniel had escaped one day from the yard (sounds familiar), and had embarked on a multi-hour spree that involved at least one tryst with a neighboring dog, whose pedigree was (approximately) half chow and half German Shepard. Diva and her siblings were the result of that unholy union. "I'm takin' 'em all to the pound if I can't find 'em homes," she said in an ominous tone.

TS and I looked at one another knowingly. Heck, we were a couple of poverty-stricken twenty-five year olds with two dogs. Clearly we needed another animal. I stuck my hand into the box and Diva commenced to gnawing on my index finger.

"Aww, this one's chewing on my hand," I said, charmed.

How those words have haunted me. Of course, the principal reason they do is because TS repeats them to me every time Diva does something obnoxious, which is usually about two times per day. This, despite the fact that Diva early on abandoned me in favor of my mate, and resolutely remains His Dog.

The other dogs observed and noted Diva's attitude almost immediately upon her arrival. But then again, she did make her intentions clear from the start:

(Isn't that carpet hideous? Oh, my salad days.) Diva's attitude did not abate as she grew out of puppyhood. Here she is, flaunting her thievery of one of the best cherry tomatoes from the garden:

Then again, she did become a passable trail dog, except for the time she ditched her pack in the Adirondack Mountains, requiring us to spend half an hour looking for it:

Interestingly, Diva has one other quality that goes a long way toward redeeming her in my eyes: she is very protective of Trailhead Kid. (Of course, that's probably of a piece with her thinking that she is the rightful Alpha Female in the house, but I'll let it slide.)

When we brought TK home from the hospital, I remember walking into my bedroom and placing him in the bassinet next to my bed. Diva Dog trotted into the room in an unusually business-like manner, plopped herself down on the floor next to the bassinet, and commenced to viciously growling whenever our two other dogs darkened the bedroom door. To this day, she will not countenance what she feels is overly rough play between TS and TK. And she is clearly TK's favorite pet. He has no use for our other dog, a much less offensive mutt of a gentle, forbearing nature. She sniffs him too much.

There's no accounting for taste, I guess.

A Drop in the Bucket is Still Water, I Suppose

This is interesting:

John Ivanko uses wind power, solar power, and a wood stove to meet the energy needs at his bed-and-breakfast, Inn Serendipity. He serves food from his organic garden and composts the leftovers. Even the bath tiles at the inn were chosen with the environment in mind -- they were produced from recycled windshield glass.

It seems to me that the value in things like this is not the quantitative "difference" it makes environmentally, but 1) the impact it has on raising awareness, and 2) the first nudges toward starting a trend. I find myself wanting to visit, in no small part because the thought of those organic strawberries in the pancakes is making me hungry.

Read the whole thing.

Google Search of the Week

From THI, this time. From the UK, this google: "Nasty things up poles."

That pointed phrase navigated our googler to the "Up to my ass in alligators" post. Somehow I think that wasn't what our googler was looking for, but it's interesting that (s)he thought it might be.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

In the Lottery of Worthless Dogs, I Own the Powerball Winner

Does this look like an animal with the get-up-and-go to lead me on a 75 minute cat-and-mouse chase around the neighborhood at 7:30 a.m.?

Shithead dog.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Blogger Ate the Oscar Bitch

I lost the original post bitching about the Oscars. So, continue it here, or on the thread below. I believe the last comment was Bloggerdad wondering whether anyone agreed with him that Constant Gardener was, in fact, the best picture of the year.

More Gnashing of Teeth and Wringing of Hands, Post-Oscar

I'm still sitting here gnawing on this thing. Wasteland's suspicion that there may have been a "WTF? It wasn't that good" sentiment playing into the results of the Oscars makes some sense. But it doesn't solve the problem for me entirely; maybe it would if Brokeback and Crash were the only two films in the category, but there were other, better pictures in the category than Crash. But did those suffer from the same affliction as Brokeback? I found this piece by Kenneth Turan at the LA Times illuminating. Turan writes:

I don't care how much trouble "Crash" had getting financing or getting people on board, the reality of this film, the reason it won the best picture Oscar, is that it is, at its core, a standard Hollywood movie, as manipulative and unrealistic as the day is long. And something more.

For "Crash's" biggest asset is its ability to give people a carload of those standard Hollywood satisfactions but make them think they are seeing something groundbreaking and daring. It is, in some ways, a feel-good film about racism, a film you could see and feel like a better person, a film that could make you believe that you had done your moral duty and examined your soul when in fact you were just getting your buttons pushed and your preconceptions reconfirmed.

So for people who were discomfited by "Brokeback Mountain" but wanted to be able to look themselves in the mirror and feel like they were good, productive liberals, "Crash" provided the perfect safe harbor. They could vote for it in good conscience, vote for it and feel they had made a progressive move, vote for it and not feel that there was any stain on their liberal credentials for shunning what "Brokeback" had to offer. And that's exactly what they did.
Turan also points out that Brokeback was, in many ways, the easiest to digest of the remaining films in the category, all of which
were "discomforting" pictures. And none of them got jack. Go read the whole thing.