Saturday, May 12, 2007

Out to lunch

I'm gonna lay off for awhile. I don't know if I'll be back (right now I'm leaning toward not being back, at least for awhile) but I'll let you all know if I decide to take it up again. I will, of course, be checking in at your blogs from time to time.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Few and far between these days

Judge Donald Lay, former chief justice of the Eighth Circuit, died Sunday. This guy was the genuine article, a relic from the Warren era when liberals weren't afraid to be called such. He spoke to one of my law school classes years ago. He made an impression on me then, and if I find one of his opinions while researching one thing or another, I still stop to peruse it.

And he died young, too. He was only 80.

Sweet childhood memories

Bloggerdad used to own a big gold convertible Cadillac back in the 70s, and we used to listen to a lot of AM radio while riding in it. Eventually he got rid of the Cadillac, but the AM radio stuck around. Bloggerdad would issue contemporaneous commentary on whatever was being said, and I listened carefully.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that the first time I heard the phrase "fucking prick" was during Bloggerdad's remarks while we were listening to this guy.

I'm guessing Bloggerdad would stick by that characterization today.

Monday, April 30, 2007

He would have gotten more for me fifteen years ago

Just so y'all know, Trailhead Kid wants to sell me at the garage sale because I wouldn't let him get Pop Tarts at the grocery store. When Mr. T informed him that 1) human trafficking is illegal and 2) he wants to keep me anyway, Trailhead Kid decided the solution was to approach me in a solemn, measured manner, and, with no fanfare, throw Thomas's yellow squeaky bone at me.

Which basically means the kid won't be seeing daylight again till tomorrow, what with him spending the rest of the afternoon in his room and all.

So how's everyone been?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Izzy or Izzeny, Part Three

This article says that "[f]riends of Al Gore have secretly started assembling a campaign team in preparation for the former American vice-president to make a fresh bid for the White House." This was apparently not done at Gore's request, but he hasn't asked them to stop either.

This part of the piece perked my little pointy ears right up:

Gore-watchers believe that a new book he is publishing next month on the state of US politics will keep his name in the public eye. Many of his supporters helped to run the unsuccessful presidential campaign of John Kerry in 2004. But since Sen Kerry abandoned his presidential aspirations this year, many of his leading advisers have yet to align themselves with any of the other candidates.

They were expected to join the campaign of Sen Edwards, who was Sen Kerry's running mate last time. The former aide, who has himself signed up with Sen Edwards, said: "The question is: where have all the Kerry people gone? The answer for most of them is nowhere. Now ask yourself why."

That's actually interesting. But check out this quote from James Carville:
James Carville, President Clinton's former strategy chief, suggested last week that Mr Gore, who has piled on the pounds, could shed weight over the summer to make himself more media-friendly for a White House run.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he lost 15lb or so," said Mr Carville. "And I think if people thought he could get us out of the mess we're in with Iraq, they wouldn't care how fat he is."

And remember what Bill Clinton said last week:

"[Y]ou have got the prospect that vice president Gore might run."

Carville's an advisor to Hillary Clinton's campaign. And of course, we know who Bill is. Why are they talking about Gore running? See, I don't believe that the Clinton people do or say bloody anything that isn't somehow intended to advance their ball. (Of course, if you read Carville's quote, there's a compliment embedded in a nice little pillow of nastiness -- you know, the part where he calls Gore fat.)

But the question to ask is, what's their purpose in yammering about a potential Gore run? Bill had to know that even that one throwaway comment would cause a ripple through the political press and blogs. Stealing Gore's thunder in the event he's planning to run? Or is he trying, by fanning the flames of hope, to keep those of us who would vote for Gore in a heartbeat from committing firmly to Obama or Edwards? My thought process is this: that Gore die-hards like me aren't likely to fall in Hillary's camp, and if we keep telling the pollsters that we want Al, that softens the support for Obama and Edwards. The longer she can string that out, the better. Gore is currently running third after Obama. Give that support to O or E, and things start looking worse for HRC.

Is that insane? What do you think is going on?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Yipes

Re the pet food recall, ABC is reporting that overseas companies may have intentionally spiked pet food ingredients with melamine, in order to make it appear that the products had a higher protein content. And here's a nice little tidbit for ya:

Federal agencies are trying to determine if it was actually fed to animals and whether it may have reached the human food supply.
Great.

Hahahahahahahaha

I'm upstairs listening to Mr. T try to explain the concept of time to our 4-year old. It's not going swimmingly.

Good luck with that, honey.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Article 17's a deal-breaker, dude

It's quicker to post this than to e-mail it to all the lawyers I know. Um, probably not work safe. Via Kristy.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter

This is perhaps the best thing I've read this Easter.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Wherein your blogger learns how to pronounce "Skagit," and other matters

So here I've been in Seattle for two days and change. Today found me lunching with fellow blogger Kristy, and we had a grand old time. Kristy's probably missing an ear now since I talked it off like I always do when I meet someone. She did let me know that the tulip-harboring valley to the north of Seattle is pronounced "Skajit" and not "Skaggit," and if anyone heard me saying "Skaggit" they'd know I wasn't from around there. So now that I know the secret I can skulk around up there, my foreign nature undetected.

Mr. T and Trailhead Kid rode the Amtrak up today and tonight we ate at the utterly touristy Ivar's Acres of Clams on the Seattle waterfront. Actual conversation at Ivar's:

Mr. T: So earlier today I thought our son might have an STD.

Me, the forkful of salmon pausing halfway to my mouth: Um, what? Our son is four years old.

Mr. T: Yeah, I know. I took him to the bathroom on the train and I noticed that his penis had red dots all over it.

Me, eyes widening: Oh no. What is it?

Mr. T: A tragic red marker accident. Except, not really an accident, apparently.


Maybe he was just trying to get rid of a penis headache.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Where does Attle live, anyway?*

I'm off to Seattle this morning to visit a friend who's doing a visiting professor dealie at a law school up there. Mr. T and TK are taking Amtrak up on Friday afternoon, and if I can determine whether the tulip bloom has progressed enough to make it worthwhile, we might zip up to the Skagit Valley on Saturday with my camera gear before returning home.

I'm also planning to meet Kristy for lunch on Friday. I'm looking forward to this; how could I not want to meet someone whose latest post was entitled The Semi-Violent Eroticism of a Washington State Emissions Test?




*
This is, as are so many things on this blog, a family in-joke. FullMoon Kid, now a strapping almost-ten-year-old, was once a young sprite much like our own Trailhead Kid. We were eating breakfast together once when I announced to my sister that I needed to go to Seattle and take a deposition. FMK cast me an inquisitive look and asked, "But does Attle live far, far away?"

Since it's Bloggerdad week around here...

Gotta tell ya. I'm fond of my dad and all, but I don't want him up my nose:

In comments published Tuesday, the 63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist said he had snorted his father’s ashes mixed with cocaine.

“The strangest thing I’ve tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father,” Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME.

“He was cremated, and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn’t have cared,” he said, adding that “it went down pretty well, and I’m still alive.”

Of course, a spokeman is now insisting that Richards was joking. Sorry dude, but you can't unring that bell, especially when it's Keith Richards. I mean, how many people, when they read this, thought to themselves, "Well, of course he snorted his dad, it's Keith Richards, for crying out loud."

More on the Edwards lunch, this time on foreign policy

Post by Bloggerdad

Most of my original post was about John Edwards' position on domestic matters, or at least non-military matters. But he had quite a lot to say about foreign policy and the military. He is not timid about these matters. He favors a quick withdrawal from Iraq. He says that there is no US military solution to the problem, and Iraq's neighbors have a powerful interest in stabilizing that country but not while we are there. But he does not propose to withdraw from the area. He favors a robust US military presence in Kuwait and the Persian Gulf. He says a nuclear Iran is unacceptable and that it is presently being governed by a madman. But he says we need to be smart about the situation. He is cognizant of the fissures in Iranian society and considers them an opportunity that we should exploit, but not by military force.
He favors deploying troops withdrawn from Iraq to Afghanistan to finish what was left undone when we went on the misadventure in Iraq.
He would seek cooperation and participation of all interested parties in seeking stability in the middle east.
My sense is that he would not shrink from use of military force when he thought it was necessary, but it would be as a result of thought, not ideology.
I very much hope I have accurately stated his positions on these points. My remarks are based on my memory and some inferences I drew. I sense steel in this man.
There is an interesting comment in the New York Times* today under the heading "The 2008 Campaign".
The section titled "The Polls' has bar graphs comparing favorable, unfavorable and haven't heard enough for Hillary, Obama and Edwards. The comment says that Democratic voters have a more favorable opinion of Hillary than of Edwards and that is what the poll shows as far as it goes, but it is very misleading. The bar graph tells a more complete story. Those Democratic voters also have a more unfavorable opinion of Hillary than Edwards. Edwards unfavorables are minuscule. Hillary's are not. But even more interesting is the fact that the difference between Hillary's favorables and Edwards is taken up in the bar graph by the "have not heard enough" responses. Rather surprising that a former Vice Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket appears not to be as well known in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania as Hillary.

*[Trailhead note: Bloggerdad advises this is from the dead tree edition. I haven't the time this morning to see if it's online or not, so if anyone has a link to the online version, please share it!]


Friday, March 30, 2007

A guest post by Bloggerdad

A trial lawyer persuades a trial lawyer

It was a very unusual day in red state Indiana. A Democratic candidate for the presidency came to Indianapolis to shake hands, break bread, speak and answer questions. They usually don't bother.
I was surprised to see that John Edwards isn't much taller than me and probably doesn't weigh as much. What impressed me as much as his obvious intellect was his friendliness and sincerity. Understand, please that I have been dealing with con artists, political and otherwise, for way many years. It is next to impossible to sell me siding, blue suede shoes or penny stocks that will make me a millionaire. John Edwards is real.
He started out by bringing tears to my eyes. He told of being with Elizabeth for 12 hours in the medical facility before they brought the bad news. Then they were alone with each other. He asked her what she needed. Told her he would drop the campaign. She said she needed him to be the next President of the United States. Fifteen minutes later I was convinced she was right and that is what we need as well.
I will try to summarize, much as I hate to do that. I think I will try it with bullet points.
He is believable.
We need a president we can trust, but also one the rest of the world can trust.
We need the trust of the rest of the world.
We need to be out of Iraq but not out of the rest of the world.
We need to be engaged with the rest of the world, and we need to be here at home what the rest of the world will respect.
Poverty at home will destroy democracy and poverty in the rest of the world will destroy our security.
Our present course is unsustainable.
Our present level of energy consumption is unsustainable.
Capping carbon emissions is an EMERGENCY. It is also doable.
Universal health care is not only desirable, it is essential and he has laid out the plan to do it.
No one else in the campaign is doing anything but mouthing generalities.
He welcomes competing plans because we need the debate.
The next election is critical and this is not the time for glamor or glitz.
The above are my paraphrases so don't hold the specific articulations against John Edwards
I got to ask two questions. I asked if he didn't think we needed a program to ramp up our health care infrastructure to accomodate the utilization levels that would occur. I don't think he had thought about that. He said something to the effect that it needed to be addressed. I am hoping he will focus on it. That is mostly why I asked the question.
I asked him if he thought mass transit as a public works project didn't need to be a part of the energy consumption issue. ( I am obsessed about this). He said our fiscal situation required prioritizing. He thought the revenue from selling carbon emissions, but always within the cap, might generate 30 billion dollars that could be used for mass transit.
Before the sitdown when he was working the room I told him I thought we should have been saying the things he was saying for 30 years, but I was not sure it was the most political way to go. He said he was going to tell the truth regardless of the political consequences. I believe him.
He wants to fund primary education for every young child IN THE WORLD. He says it is much cheaper than the Iraq war and will keep us much safer.
He expressed several inspiring ideas. He said we are not a timid people when we are at our best.
I know I will recall more of this as the evening wears on. I just hope that we will all hear more of it from him as 2008 approaches.

What? Me post?

Mr. T's been on a bidness trip (this time domestic), our Shanghai-based friend and colleague "O" is in town, and Trailheadquarters is hopping. It's always fun when O's in town. He's become a good friend, and not merely a business associate. It's fun to show him around. I'm far more careful than Mr. T is about finding food that O won't find revolting. Mr. T's standard response to my worries is a withering look and the question, "Do you know how many sea worms I've eaten over there?"

Of course, when I remind Mr. T that O is not actively trying to gross him out, he relents. But he did insist on going to Chipotle yesterday. Fortunately, O liked the Barbacoa burrito.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Life is a terminal disease

So John and Elizabeth Edwards are out there discussing the recurrence of her illness and their decision to go forth and conquer in the face of peril. If you watch Katie Couric's interview with them here, Couric observes that "some" suggest that John Edwards is putting "work before family."

Okay, people, let's get this straight right now. Here is the key to this question. The Edwards' have an integrated life. Family, public service, work and marriage all blend together. I think part of the reason they don't approach the question from this angle is because they don't maintain such clear lines between "work" and "family."

I strongly suspect that John Edwards is, in fact, putting his wife first by staying in the race. In the interview, she talks about being the one to determine her legacy -- is it that her cancer pulled John out of the race, or is it that she kept forging ahead? Running for presidency seems to be something that gives their lives a great deal of meaning. Some of us, if we knew we were looking at a life abbreviated, might choose to hike a long-distance trail (I have no idea who that might be, ahem), write something, travel somewhere, or just sit and hang with friends and family.

Elizabeth Edwards wants to be on the campaign trail and get her candidate elected president. In the bargain, she gets to teach her kids fortitude and guts. She gets to meet thousands of ordinary people and give them hope.

I'm hard pressed to think of a more meaningful way to spend one's last years. And here's my sneaking suspicion: Continuing this campaign is not going to kill Elizabeth Edwards, but quitting might.

I think John Edwards knows that.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My kind of kid

Of course, anytime I click on a blog and am immediately confronted with the title, "poop humor," I know it's gonna be a good time.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Speaking of huevos

Huevos

A few years ago, my eldest sister and I were lamenting what we perceived to be a relative dearth in our public life of real heroes. We sat on her front porch, naming those few we thought qualified. One of our criteria was that the individual provide an example in the way they live their lives.

Here's one for the list. I can't find the transcript of their press conference yet, and the news reports, as expected, concentrate mostly on what John Edwards had to say (which wasn't too shabby either). But as I watched the press conference, I listened closely to what Elizabeth Edwards said. I admire the hell out of that woman, who you think, for just a minute, can't possibly have cancer because she must be made of steel and not flesh. And then you remember that she is human just like everyone else, and that's a great thing, because it means even a peon like me can be more like her. And I'm glad to know that, because I probably need to be.

Needless to say, I'll be rooting for her.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Is he or isn't he, part 2 (Updated below)

David Roberts at Huffington Post has the video of Gore's opening statement to his testimony to the House. He also sets forth Gore's extensive legislative proposals and remarks, "My initial reaction is that Gore is going for the whole enchilada. He's pushing the envelope. These are radical proposals. To me, that indicates almost beyond reasonable doubt that Gore is not running for president."

That's not an unreasonable conclusion, particularly given the timidity of Democratic politics in recent years, but I wonder whether it's accurate. One possibility I've considered recently is that Gore may not be using the global warming issue to fuel his political amibitions as his detractors claim (as if that's somehow ignoble). Rather, I wonder if he's keeping speculation about a presidential run alive in order to maintain attention to the global warming issue.

Or maybe not. But I will say this. Gore's response to the recent brouhaha about his personal energy use was pretty tepid for a person with a presidential bid in mind.

So the mystery continues. The only thing that's clear is that he hasn't publicly, firmly ruled out a 2008 run.

UPDATE: I swear, I wrote this post before I read this.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Another one of my posts about nothing

Pardon my silence, but for the last few days I've been living my life instead of foisting it upon you people.

One thing I love about Portland is that spring comes earlier than so many other places, even though it will take a lot longer for the Willamette Valley to be consistently warm and sunny. (Try July.)

I just got back from visiting Bert's place, and he has some wonderful pictures of what spring looks like around here. Spring weather here is so textured. Morning might be filled with rich, golden sunlight, but give way in late afternoon to dark blue, menacing skies that contrast nicely with the light green of brand new leaves. Toss in a couple of light rain showers in between, and there you have it.

Must get to Tryon Creek State Park this week to check on the trilliums.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Micropolitical act of the day

I know a lot of people in the U.S. acknowledge that global warming is a problem, but expect government to implement the institutional and structural changes required to avert the crisis. Not everyone wants to make individual changes to solve the global warming issue. You may not want to buy a car with better gas mileage, change to compact fluorescent light bulbs, get green power or recycle. I get that. (I don't necessarily agree, but I get it.)

But the government's not going to do squat unless and until you tell them to.

Al Gore is going to testify before Congress on March 21st in an effort to galvanize legislative action on climate disruption. He's been collecting messages from individuals asking Congress to kindly get this show on the road. He has almost 300,000, but wants more.

If you're one of those who doesn't worry about global warming because you want government to fix it, then this action is for you. It will take you approximately ten seconds to add your name to these messages.

Go here to tell Congress to get to work on this problem. Pretty please?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Do you take ibuprofen for that?

Actual conversation at Bloggerdad's house last Sunday:

TH Stepmother, watching as Trailhead Kid paces restlessly: "Trailhead Kid, do you need to go to the bathroom?"

TK: "Yes." [heads toward the bathroom, stops cold at the door, and turns around] "Actually, no I don't. Sometimes I just get penis headaches."

[Bloggerdad nearly falls off chair.]

Monday, March 05, 2007

Flies with Moose

On a serious note, this does make me sad. I feel badly for the moose.

Another round begins

Ugh. Mr. T leaves for China in three hours. At long last I've learned to indulge myself during his frequent international absences, and so I'm leaving (with TK) for a trip back to Indy tomorrow.
Friends, family and favorite restaurants are all on my menu. I'm also going to do a document review -- what Bloggerdad calls picking rat shit out of a pepper barrel -- but work is work and like he says, this pays by the hour, kid.

This also will be the first flight with TK I've not sort of dreaded, because we're going first class. Ordinarily I'm far too cheap to actually spend money to fly first class. Hell, usually you can get almost a whole set of extra tickets somewhere else for what you'd spend to fly first class. But we're using frequent flier miles, and the first class option cost no more miles and had a better schedule. Sweet. Leg room! Not feeling like a sausage in a casing! Yee. Haw.

You might also be interested to note that, given my moralizing over the global warming issue lately, I have purchased carbon offsets for 7,500 lbs. of carbon dioxide from TerraPass. I got an extra 2,000 lbs. in lieu of the luggage tag that comes along with it, too. So I've offset 9,500 lbs. of carbon dioxide for $37. The flight to Indy (round trip) releases, for both me and TK, a little less than 3,000 lbs. So I have our flight back in September covered as well, I guess.

After Mr. T gets back on the 15th, he leaves again on the 24th for a domestic trip, till the 30th. Then, he says wearily, he would like to take some time off and head to Montana for few days. My life will kick up around that time too. There will be trilliums, tulip fields, and apple blossoms in the Gorge to photograph. By May there will be fairy slipper orchids and the lupine and balsamroot up at Tom McCall Preserve again. Good stuff.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I guess this is what it comes down to eventually, but I didn't expect it quite so soon

Actual conversation this morning as Trailhead Kid is cutting out rocket ships from construction paper:

Me: Be careful with those scissors, please.

TK, with a weary, but patient expression: I will, Mommy. But thank you for your concern.

Friday, March 02, 2007

But what about The Grinch?

On this rainy Friday afternoon, I offer you the latest golden nugget coughed up from the intertubes, a thing so perfect I fear it may all be a dream. I give you, ladies and gentlemen, Dylan Hears a Who.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A post about nothing

I have many of these posts about nothing, I've noticed.

A couple of points:

1. I'm sick. Your standard sore throat, stuffed up nose and body aches. I was never sick this frequently until I acquired my very own germ factory four-and-a-half years ago, and even then not until he began to attend preschool. Now every winter is one long tissue-fest. Puffs with lotion, please.

2. There is a bush in my neighbor's yard across the street that is alive with beautiful, light pink flowers. I also noticed a number of trees last weekend that have already started to bloom. And yet it was half-snowing this morning. About ten days ago I took a walk through several miles of neighborhoods and saw crocuses everywhere. There are also daffodils in bloom. I've never experienced anywhere else a winter that is cold enough to feel like winter and yet warm enough to let flowers bloom in mid-February, but I like it. Even North Carolina had a firmer line of demarcation between winter and spring.

3. Thomas has decapitated his stuffed toy dog and is alternately carrying around the head and body. This morning he detached an ear from the head and began toting that around as well. Sick little bastard. This, coupled with his new habit of dropping his toys in the toilet, is a little more puppy charm than I ordinarily require in my daily routine.

4. Here is Trailhead Kid's new video fixation. My brother showed it to me three or four years ago when youtube was just a twinkle in someone's eye and it was making the e-mail rounds. It's bizarre, but riveting and funny. I love when the cat starts zipping manically across the screen. I have no idea of the origin of this video or it's meaning, if any, in pop culture. But I love it anyway.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Disgorge your Oscar ramblings here

Congressman. Senator. Two-term Vice President. Nobel Peace Prize nominee. SNL host. Academy Award nominee winner.

Jeez, what a slacker.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lions and tigers and scrotums, oh my!

Well, I'm late to this party but I keep seeing it floating around the internets so I have to mock it, particularly in light of the recent "Balls!" post. It appears that a number of librarians have fainted clean away over a word that appears on the first page of this year's Newberry Medal winner, Susan Patron's children's book The Higher Power of Lucky.

Scrotum.

As in:

The book’s heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum.

“Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much,” the book continues. “It sounded medical and secret, but also important.”

Maybe if she'd just followed TK's example and used the word "balls," she wouldn't be in this kind of trouble. But now that I mention it, what kind of trouble is she in?
“This book included what I call a Howard Stern-type shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope, but they didn’t have the children in mind,” Dana Nilsson, a teacher and librarian in Durango, Colo., wrote on LM_Net, a mailing list that reaches more than 16,000 school librarians. “How very sad.”
And then Higher Power zoomed from the high 600's on Amazon to the top 40. Nice trouble, if you can get it.

But back to the librarian. Is she serious? I mean that. I don't mean to mock her individually, but when I read that quote I really saw it as a symbol of the increasing silliness of American society. That, and I suspected instantly that it wasn't about the kids at all, but about librarians' own discomfort with the word. Because I have to tell you, any ten-year old that doesn't know -- or hasn't at least once heard -- the proper name for the sack in which a male's testicles reside has not been properly educated. It's really just that simple.

And though it's not remotely the point, let's not kid ourselves that most ten-year olds don't know what we're talking about here. As Tony pointed out at lunch the other day, "Scrotum? Are you kidding? My eleven-year old already knows what teabagging is." (For those of you who -- ahem -- do not, go here to find out.) But like I said, not the point.

On a larger scale, the real problem with this attitude is that it's a symptom of how twisted the American view of sex is. An author uses the correct word for a sex organ (on a dog, no less), in a piece of quality writing, and hysteria ensues. But the stuff discussed here is all over the place. In short, I'm tempted to conclude that many Americans are most threatened by authentic, earthy depictions of sex and life. As long as it's superficial and as tawdry as possible, we're good!

This phenomenon is also reflected in the public breastfeeding debates. In our society, this is considered ho-hum:



But if you really want to stir up shock and controversy in this country, put this image on the cover of your magazine:



When that image appeared, this is what happened:
"I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine," one person wrote. "I immediately turned the magazine face down," wrote another. "Gross," said a third.
In a poll of 4,000 readers, nearly a quarter were negative. The linked article also observes:
The evidence of public discomfort isn't just anecdotal. In a survey published in 2004 by the American Dietetic Association, less than half — 43 percent — of 3,719 respondents said women should have the right to breast-feed in public places.
So I ask you, what is the world coming to when a children's book can't use the word scrotum in an entertaining, non-lascivious manner?

(Commenters tempted to be peurile about the images -- and you know who you are -- please don't prove my point that easily. If you can't make a substantive comment, kindly shut the hell up.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Good dog

Everybody give it up for Velvet, the black lab mix who, by snuggling close to her humans, probably saved their lives on Mt. Hood.

I'd note that Velvet bears a striking resemblance to a certain Alpha female we lost last summer.

Yeah, I wish

You are Cleopatra





Beautiful and Charming. You are able to persuade anyone to do anything you would like, because of your hotness and charisma. You are an expert in gaining power over anyone you choose.


Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

Monday, February 19, 2007

You say tomato, I say testicle

Actual conversation tonight:

Trailhead Kid: Hey, mommy, what are these little balls down by my penis?

Me: Those are your testicles. And the little sack they're in is called your scrotum. But you can just call them your testicles.

Trailhead Kid: But I want to call them my BALLS!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Limbo

I'm swimming upstream here, folks, trying to finish something before I write the next Al Gore post -- or anything else. There's no use trying to do two different kinds of writing in one day (week?). Legal writing sucks up all the air in any given mental room. I'm just not that mentally versatile.

So I got nuthin.' Agin.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

More Gore

Interesting:

In 2002, Gore asked Malone to stop a draft effort he had begun; Malone did. Malone started up again and, so far, Gore hasn't waved him off.

"The difference is dramatic. His time has come," Malone said. "We're raising tens of thousands of dollars fairly easily. Our mailing lists are growing so quickly we have to buy new computers."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I know you've all been waiting breathlessly for this

In the comments to the post below this one, Wasteland asked, in that charming personaljokespeak we generally use to communicate with one another, whether I'm ready to "officially announce my endorsement" for 2008, as did this insufferable egomaniac we used to work with back in 2000. I don't remember which candidate this woman (whom I regularly referred to as "The Shameless Self-Promoter") "endorsed" back in 2000.

But it's at least possible it was the same guy I'm going to endorse in this post.

Yep. That's it. The energy-saving, compact fluorescent light bulb just illuminated in your head and you thought to yourself, "What's she talking about? Al Gore's not running."

Oh, yeah? Prove it. But, but, he's said he's not running over and over again, you think to yourself.

Nope. He hasn't, actually. Listen, I parse words for a living. The difference between an "and" and an "or" in my world can mean the difference between life and death, poverty and riches, prison and freedom. And in this case, the difference between "not running" and "not planning to run" can be a presidential candidacy or an honorable post-political life gathering nominations for Oscars and Nobel Prizes.

Neither is really all that shabby, but there really is a stark difference between the two.

Every time someone has e-mailed me claiming that it's official this time, Al's not running, too bad so sad, I've clicked over, read his words carefully, and discerned that he has said nothing of the kind. The clincher for me came when everyone started telling me his son had said he wasn't running. So I read the thing, and young Albert goes on and on about how toxic the political environment is and how polluted with money, and then he says this:

[B]ut I know that he has no plans to run in 2008."
Sounds like a talking point to me. That's some amazing family discipline, I tell ya. It's a good thing Bloggerdad never went into politics as a candidate, because there's no freakin' way our family could stay on message like that. This is what it would be like trying to get us to do that.

So, don't tell me that Al Gore isn't running for President, because you don't know whether he is or not. I don't know whether he is or not.

I can tell you this -- his campaign manager from 2000 thinks he's running. His wife said last summer that she would support him if he ran. This columnist for the Boston Globe thinks he might run, and this article in Rolling Stone just begged him to.

I'm not saying he'll run. But he sure hasn't ruled it out. There is no good reason for him to announce -- or even decide on -- a candidacy too early. He can afford time to think, observe, and consider. His film has been nominated for an Oscar, he's just been nominated for the Nobel Prize, and he has a new book coming out in May.

The bottom line for me is this. I'm with Al until it's crystal clear he's not running. And I understand that could still happen.

In the next post, I'll tell you why I'm for Gore, why I think he'd run away with the nomination, and why I think he'd win in the general election. So please save your comments on those issues until the next post. This post should only be for why you think I'm crazy for thinking he might run. That and expressions of adoration and hope for Mr. Gore's candidacy.

If you're so inclined, go here and ask him to run. But go watch this first. It's hysterical.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Minor housekeeping detail

I have installed haloscan, which means commenting will be slightly different. Fortunately, you folks are all intelligent enough to figure it out. I was getting annoyed with some commenting issues with New and Improved Blogger, and I decided to circumvent them by installing haloscan.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Florida vids

Well, here's the footage of the anhingas. The first one is of an anhinga trying to cram a fish down its gullet. The second is a short clip of some two-day-old anhinga chicks in a nest just off the trail in the Glades. On the first clip, many of you will recognize the voice of the, ahem, narrator.



Friday, February 02, 2007

Dang but she was good

I'm re-reading Molly Ivins' hilarious Shrub: The short but happy political life of George W. Bush, which was published in 2000. Last night I came upon the following snippet:

For an upper-class white boy, Bush comes on way too hard-ass - at a guess, to make up for being an upper-class white boy. But it's also a common Texas male trait. Somebody should probably be worrying about how all this could affect his handling of future encounters with Saddam Hussein, but that's beyond the scope of this book.

Oh, my.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Annoyance has rendered me inarticulate

Okay, people. Here's the "don't be a dipshit" lesson for the day.

If you should be tempted, while speaking of Barack Obama*, to use the word "articulate," do the following:

1. Stop.
2. Scrape brain of the residual, unconscious racism that applies such a low standard to -- knock me over with a feather -- the only presidential candidate in this race with brown skin.
3. Continue.

I realize, given our current President's tendency to mangle even the simplest sentence, that facility with the English language is no longer a given in those who would aspire to our nation's highest office. (Which makes this all the more absurd.) But people, no one looks at Joe Biden** or, say, John Edwards and says, "wow, he's articulate."

What friggin' year is it again?




*Incidentally, I don't support Obama. He seems a little too conciliatory for my tastes. I want someone who will go toe-to-toe with the Republican bullshit machine. (Like, ahem, Jim Webb.) I like that he went after Fox News aggressively for their manufactured madrassa story, but I'd like to see him apply some of that aggression to the Republicans destroying our country.

** Senator Biden has now opened his presidential campaign with a major gaffe. And it's not the first time he's made a, shall we say, racially unfortunate comment. I like him in the Senate; he passes the "thwack the Republicans" test on occasion. But there is absolutely no way I will support him in the primary.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

And now Molly Ivins is gone

Shit.

No words.

She was the woman I wanted to be when I grew up. (Not even remotely work safe. Ahem.)



There just isn't much genius like this around. I'm a bit teary, I'm afraid.

'Nuff said

Relevant excerpt from IM with Tony this morning:

Me: Do you think I'm in this funk because [Mr. T's] gone and the kid's sick and I'm trying to work on a brief and I haven't showered in two days and Thomas is driving me nuts and the last 5 rolls of film I got back were stunningly mediocre?

Tony says:
um... maybe?

No bloggy for me today.

Monday, January 29, 2007

"I'm living a dream"

If you're anything like me, you will find this commercial unbearably funny. If you're not, well, I'm sorry. That was 59 seconds of your life you'll never get back, I know.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tester goes public

Damn. Another reason to love Jon Tester, as if I needed another. With the encouragement of the Sunlight Foundation, the good Senator has instructed his staff to post his schedule online at the end of every day. This, so we can keep tabs on what the man's up to. See it here.

Sure do wish he'd told that Plum Creek Timber representative he met with last week not to clearcut any more hillsides around my house. Ahem.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Lotion is for hands, not eyes

Mr. T got off the plane with us on Sunday, and got on another one on Wednesday for China. Recent discussions with Trailhead Kid:

TK (emerging from bathroom at lunchtime): Mommy, have you ever spit food into the toilet?
Me (sensing where this is going): No, because spitting food into the toilet is unacceptable.
TK: (walking back into the bathroom): Because I've never done that! (Flushes toilet.)

______________________

TK (sitting in time-out for previous infraction): Mommy!
Me: What?
TK: I can't see my tongue!!
Me: Uh-oh. Someone alert the press.
TK: Can I go look in the mirror at my tongue??
Me: No.
TK: Why not?
Me: Because you're in a time-out.
TK: Oh dear, you're mean.
______________________

TK (in time-out again for bugging me mercilessly while trying to send an e-mail to Mr. T): Mommy? Can I get up?
Me: Are you gonna harass me?
TK: No. I'm gonna harass Thomas.
______________________

Meanwhile, remember this discussion with Mr. T from April when I was in China?

"He would check on me in between meetings, torn between sympathy and frustration that I was missing part of the trip. This led to the following conversation, part of which Wasteland posted for your reading pleasure last week:

"I've been where you are, you know."

"What? No you haven't. I don't recall you spending a night throwing up on previous trips."

"No, but I've had diarrhea."

"Diarrhea? Please. I aspired to diarrhea last night. I prayed for diarrhea. When it finally arrived, I threw diarrhea a goddamn ticker tape parade, because diarrhea is like winning the fucking Powerball compared to throwing up seafood and bits of your stomach lining in a hotel room in South China every twenty minutes until there is nothing left to throw up anymore."

This was clearly inarguable, and, apparently recognizing that this was not an argument he was going to win, he went back to being sensitive."
Alas, Mr. T now knows what it's like to be in South China and be in bodily peril. In Guangzhou, he realized he was out of contact solution. This is a problem for Mr. T, because he might as well be blind without contacts or glasses. So he purchased something ominously labeled as "eye lotion," and proceeded to soak his contact lenses in it overnight, and placed them in his eyes in the morning.

Mistake.

Excruciating redness and burning ensued. He examined the label, which contained a warning that had escaped his notice: "not to be used with contacts at least 30 minutes after use." He spent the day in extreme pain, but claims to be pain-free as of this morning.

I certainly don't mean to convey the impression that I'm experiencing schadenfreude or at all find this funny. Mr. T is the polar opposite of a hypochondriac; he simply ignores symptoms that any normal person would find alarming. In fact, if he were any Monty Python character, he'd be the Black Knight:



"'Tis just a flesh wound!"

I extracted a promise from him that if the pain returns or he notices anything at all amiss with his eyes, he'll return to Hong Kong and get some medical assistance.

He actually agreed, which tells me he must have been in pain indeed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

January Wildlife Report

Lots of anhingas, including two chicks less than two days of age
Numerous wood storks (which is nice, because they're endangered)
4 chameleons
2 live Portuguese Men o' War, and a bunch of dead ones (or is the plural Man o' Wars?)
12 alligators (at least)
1 purple gallinule
2 green herons
1 black-crowned night heron
Innumerable blue herons
Several white ibises
an egret or two
2 stingrays (in the shallows, while kayaking)
2 mangrove crabs
More cormorants than you can shake a stick at
6 striped mud turtles
1 extremely large, almost definitely exotic iguana
1 brown water snake

Mr. T will let me know in the comments if I'm forgetting anything.

Don't step on that

While we were in Orlando, friend-commenter Tony (who's Mr. T's coworker) unexpectedly came upon a morning off, so he and I took off for Cocoa Beach with Trailhead Kid in tow. The beach was littered with blue jellyfish, which we constantly had to keep Trailhead Kid from wanting to examine and touch. I steer clear of jellyfish of any kind, because you just never know which one's gonna be nasty and which one won't. (Of course, once TK saw Tony pop a dead one with his foot, the task of keeping him away was even more difficult.)

Mr. T and I encountered them again in the Keys while kayaking, and we had to be really careful not to scoop them up into the kayak with our paddles. "Hey," he observed, "isn't that a Portuguese Man of War?" "Dunno," I replied.

Yep. That's the kind that stings.

Update: Tony sends a pic:


From wikipedia:

The sting from the tentacles is potentially dangerous to most humans; these stings have been responsible for several deaths, but usually only cause excruciating pain.
Well, that's a relief.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"The state of the union....uh, is not something I'm worried about"

Miss the State of the Union address? Watch this, it's less painful.

Be sure to watch all the way to the Democratic response, which is hysterical.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pictures? Hmm?

I suppose this is where I'm supposed to post all the pictures I shot in the Everglades and the Keys. Oops.

I don't have any. At least not right now. I shot mostly slide film in my SLR, which I sent off to the lab from Ft. Lauderdale. Also on this trip I got really, really addicted to my digital video camera. Which means I didn't do a whole lot with the little digital point and shoot. So I'll have to pacify you with another alligator video.

I do have some interesting bird footage, though, which I'll get to later on.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Art in rural south Florida

I found this in front of City Seafood in Everglades City.




I find myself unreasonably pleased by this.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Okay, let's get this show on the road

This has been a fun week, and I must say, 75 degree weather in January is just a glorious gift. (I can almost remember what it was like to take such weather for granted.) But Orlando is wearing thin, and I'm ready to get to the Everglades and the Keys. There is some surfing related event going on, and the city is now clogged with beautiful early 20-somethings. That itself is not the problem, but the crowds -- ugh.

And of course, they're all drunk. And drunk people are never as cute as they think they are.

I'm ready to be in Wild Florida. The real one, not the one constituted by drunken surfers.

(I did get decent footage of the duck march, but my laptop is doing ominous things. I'm working on Mr. T's machine, which is not loaded with my software.)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Duck Hotel

We're staying the The Peabody in Orlando. This hotel has a schtick: ducks. There are Peabody hotels in Orlando, Memphis and Little Rock, and they all have the duck thing. At eleven in the morning, a person bearing the job title of "Duckmaster" leads five ducks from their upstairs apartments (which consist of a glass enclosed fountain) down to the lobby fountain, and leads them back up again at five o'clock. (I do not know how the Duckmaster spends the intervening time; we sat for about an hour in the lobby with the ducks this afternoon, and the Duckmaster was absent.

The ducks spend their days alternately sleeping, eating, bathing in the cascades and crapping on the fountain. (Every fifteen minutes or so, some poor soul employed by the hotel comes by and scrubs any new duck poo off the fountain, presumably in order to avoid any unfortunate public health issues.)

As a fan of animals, my first thought was whether this was good for the ducks. Frankly, it's hard to see how these ducks are oppressed in any meaningful way. Yes, they don't spend their time on natural lakes outside, living normal duckly lives and getting hunted by predators, but I'm unconvinced that this bothers them. These birds have better living quarters than most people. I'm open to changing my mind, but I haven't any reason to do so yet.



Update: I heard from some ladies at the glass-enclosed Royal Duck Palace (the ducks' evening abode) that the hotel has three "teams" of ducks that rotate from a duck farm to the hotel, thus ensuring that no team of ducks spends too much time at the hotel. The ladies said they got this information from the Duckmaster.

I got some "eh" quality video of the duck march late this afternoon. I'm going to video the morning march, and I'll post whichever video's better.

A little extra baggage


Trailhead Kid hitches a ride on Mr. T's bag in the San Francisco airport.
(No, I don't know what that shiny thing is on his back. Fallen halo?)


Saturday, January 06, 2007

New toy

LibraryThing allows you to catalog your books online, see who else has yours, and install a random selection from your library on your blog, as I've done to the right. Sweet.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Leaving on a jet plane

We're leaving Monday for Florida. This should be interesting, because let's just say I'm not ready, and I have about four days worth of crap to do before I get on the plane in three days. Chief among these items is to teach our housesitter how to deal with Thomas, that wily little bugger. He's taken to training pretty well, but I have this sinking feeling our house/pet sitter has her work cut out for her.

Our first week in Florida will be pretty standard stuff -- hanging out in Orlando while Mr. T does his bidness. (Doesn't that make it sound like we're waiting for Mr. T to go to the bathroom in Orlando? God, I've been spending too much time around dogs.) One of my favorite cousins will come down from her North Florida digs and spend some time with us. Then as soon as Mr. T is released from his duties, the fun begins. My goals: 1) Finally get a really great photo of an alligator, and 2) get video footage or a great image of an anhinga gulping a fish.

It's a great sight, really. They stretch their long, snakelike necks and point their bills to the sky, and down goes the fish. I love anhingas, but I've never been able to get a really impressive image of one. I'm looking forward to trying to do that in the Glades, or maybe visiting Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, where birds (and photographers) are congregating this time of year. Then if we have any time left, we'll head to the Keys and take TK kayaking in the mangroves and to the Dolphin Research Center.

So, I'll be posting for the next two weeks from my Central and South Florida offices.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

We're back, and year-end wildlife report

We're back, obviously. Thomas and I found the return to the burbs somewhat jarring. We'd been taking a daily walk through the snow drifts up, down and around the mountain, and working on training exercises on the way. (Teaching a dog to heel is a cinch when your pocket is stuffed with treats.) Now we're stuck on our postage stamp lot with houses, cars, lights, noises and rain.

Lovable Mutt, on the other hand, doesn't care. As long as she gets her morning kibble, she could live on Jupiter without complaint. Mr. T is a little grouchy too, but that has more to do with his outrageously frenetic work and travel schedule for the next five weeks. Trailhead Kid misses the hot tub, his cousin and his aunt, but is pleased to be back with his trains.

Christmas wildlife report:

Scores of deer, mostly in our corral, including a noteworthy one-antlered buck.
Two eagles
A resident grouse
A few woodpeckers
One turkey v*lture (yes, I know)

Many animals seem to be tucked up for the winter.

Now, because the first week in January would clearly be nothing without yet another irritating 2006 wrap-up, I'm going to consolidate all the wildlife reports (and add a few that didn't make it into a report). Here goes:

3 black bears
6 wild turkeys (birds, not bottles)
1 frog
2 grouse
2 ground squirrels
1 bighorn sheep
1 hummingbird
1 pack rat
one 8-point buck
1 6-point whitetail buck
1 coyote
1 mama robin
2 ground squirrels
1 loon
1 osprey
a billion tadpoles
2 salamanders
one bobcat
Hundreds of turkeys
a herd of cow elk
several seals (known to Trailhead Kid as "water doggies," thanks to cousin Arjuna)
Three water buffalo
Two eagles
One grouse
A few woodpeckers
One turkey v*lture

This is not too bad. Week after next, we'll be in the Everglades and will no doubt see plenty of shore birds and alligators. I don't think there will be a dive this time, which is a shame. Those always make for nice wildlife sightings. I'd like to see a moose this year (Dr. G and The Professor swear they are all over the mountain), and more mountain goats and marmots up at Logan Pass. Perhaps more bears, but not too close.

We'll see. A happier year to you all, as TK would say.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Predictable Pat

I swear, we go through this every year.

Last year it was hurricanes and tsunamis. This year it's a "mass killing" late in 2007. Of course, he could be talking about the extinctions that are already underway due to global warming, but somehow I don't think that's sexy enough, or punitive enough, for old Leg Press Robertson.

This is my favorite part:

I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said during his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."

I'm not necessarily saying you're a douchebag, Pat. But I do believe it's something like that.