Wednesday, January 31, 2007

And now Molly Ivins is gone


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.


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.