Thursday, March 29, 2007

Some Pictures to Look At

I felt the need to paint cranes after listening to the Decemberists' "The Crane Wife" too many times. Not my best work, but they are kind of birdy.

Watercolor is more and more frightening to me the more I work in oils. Here's a recent attempt.

Fort Rock from a trip we took last June when the wildflowers were blooming. Or wildflower.

This is a nutria. He ended up looking like The Lorax. That's okay with me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Get That Old Bat Some Tequila - STAT!

I preface this post with a reminder that the fictional character I most identify with is a small, anxious, stuttering, ever-out-gunned piglet. My nickname in high school (okay, one of my nicknames) was Mouse. I have trouble looking people in the eye. I have trouble calling people on the phone. I tend to stay home rather than court trouble by, you know, being present.

With that in mind, imagine the fortitude it has taken for me to stay out from under the covers today after an old lady attacked me on a nature trail. I know!

Here's the setting:

The Salmon Creek Trail is a wide, paved trail through a wetlands area. The trail is probably wider than some two-lane roads I remember traveling on by bus in Germany once, but it would make a dandy one-land road with turnouts. That's how wide the trail is.

Normally, during the time it takes Scotty and me to walk its three-mile length, I will have said "good morning" to a dozen people. Over the three miles it takes to reach the end and turn around. In other words, not a crowded trail.

With this in mind, I have to say that I learned years ago that you teach your dog to walk at your side - your left side - and not to cross over. This is how all dogs are taught if they are to compete, either in the conformation ring or in obedience trials. Although my dogs don't compete for anything other than attention, it has practical uses. It keeps dogs out of traffic when walking on the road (on the left-hand side, as safety rules require), and it keeps your right hand free for other stuff.

This means I am often found on the left side of the path, letting Scotty sniff (as he would never think of crossing over to the right side of my body).

Why am I explaining this to you? Because I got yelled at for walking on the left side of the road. The very wide road.

Here's how it went down:

I was approaching a couple, probably in their sixties. I was on the left side of the road, letting Scotty sniff. I noticed they were sticking to their right side of the road, which is unusual. Usually, folks scooch over a little. You know, so we don't collide on the one side of the very wide road.

Since they didn't, I stepped off the path entirely. But it was too late. This woman had already loaded her gun a long time ago, and it was on a hair trigger. "Why don't you stay over on the right, instead of making an old lady go around you!" (I guess she was the old lady in question, although she was in her gym shoes, out for a hike at the time.)

I said, "I thought I was the one getting out of your way."

She hollered something like, "Get over to the right where you belong!"

I said, "Wow."

This is an out-and-back trail, so I knew we were bound to meet again. Even though I considered explaining to her about the dog, or asking her if she was always like this, I decided against it. People like that rarely ever give you any satisfyingly happy ending. Instead, when I saw her coming, I just made a point of moving over to the right for her. I even tried to make eye contact and smile, but she was having none of it. Neither was her husband, either out of shared outrage, or embarrassment, I couldn't tell.

A less pigletty person would be better at shaking something like this off. I tried at first to laugh and move on, as it was such a bizarre thing for someone to get so worked up about.

Instead, I find myself wondering about her. What's she like to live with? What does she do when she has to walk by loose dogs? Skateboarders? Unruly children? Her life must be a constant stream of outrage. How does she do it? Or is her umbrage all saved up for left-hand-walkers? Could be.

I also find myself thinking about retraining my dog to walk on the right side. This is actually the second time I've been yelled at for walking on the left. The last one was a bicyclist last summer, on the same trail, who didn't even need to worry about where I was at all (wide road, remember?).

You tell me. Should I teach a dumb dog a new trick (ambidextrousness) and keep clear of further elder-abuse (abuse of me by elders), or walk how I damn well please on the very wide trail?

Monday, March 26, 2007

As I Suspected

Here's a blog written by a Chinese American living in Arizona, who does the same thing for Chinese characters being misused by English speakers as does for the other way around-like.

He finds lots of tattoos that don't mean what the wearer had hoped.


How Do You Know That Japanese Character Doesn't Mean "Loser"?

Here are some good reasons not to get a tattoo in a language you don't understand. I'm pretty sure that Engrish can work both ways.

I'm just saying.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

In Which I Become Old and Cranky

I'm not much of a basketball fan. I've never really been a fan. In high school, when I was supposed to be really excited about basketball, being a cheerleader and all, I found it nearly impossible to get to the games on time. (Oh, hi, Kathi. Hi, Julie. Nice scrunchi. When does the game start? What, this is half time? Oops. Sorry.) I haven't watched more than highlights on the news in (old and cranky moment:) 23 years.

Last night, I watched a complete buzzer-to-buzzer game (okay, during the commercials I watched Meerkat Manor) for the first time since we went to the games at that famed fire trap, Mac Court, as students at the University of Oregon.

The occasion is the Ducks' stellar year this year, bringing them to the Sweet Sixteen (and after last night's exciting game, to the Tangy Eight).

I know about the change in shorts fashion over the years. After all, I watch the news, but actually seeing those floppy, floppy shorts swing around the players' legs like silky skirts was disturbing to an old Tom Selleck fan like myself.

Here's a picture of the Duck uniforms the year I graduated:

Here is Malik Hairston playing in last night's game:

If there weren't free throws to give them time to hike them back up and pretend to tuck in their shirts, their shorts would be down around their ankles by the end of the first five minutes.

When will it all end, people? With the coolest players tripping over their own shorts? With one hand devoted entirely to holding them up, kind of like half of the no-hands rule from soccer?

Okay, I'm going to have to stop before my hair turns gray. er.

And Go Ducks.

A Short Confession in the Interest of Full Disclosure

Okay, so after my huffy "A.I. used to mean Artificial Intelligence, not American Idol" snit, I confess that while catching up on my "Fresh Air" podcasts this morning, I skipped over these entries:
  • The author of an article about how the U.S. is not protecting the Iraqis who agreed to work for us as interpreters and now are targeted for death by their countrymen; and
  • The author of a book called Bomb Scare, about the threat of nuclear weapons in the world today;

to get to this:

  • A repeat of an interview with Will Ferrell.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Make It Stop

If I have to scroll over one more useless blog entry about the scandalous [pick one] voting/snarking/tickling on American Idol, I shall groan most deeply.

How do all these people make it through an entire episode?

I'm going to go donate money to Public Broadcasting, read a book and feel superior.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Your $3 Movie Review: Casino Royale

I'm just going to assume that you know the rules going in, you know, when watching any Bond movie:

  1. Check your logic at the door.

  2. It's cool, and quite manly, to point guns at people.

  3. Bond can withstand beatings that would kill a crash test dummy.

  4. Slightly witty things sound fabulous when spoken with the right accent.

Now to this Casino Royale attempt:

Daniel Craig: Yes and no. Yes, I like the buffitude. Yes, it's quite British to poo-poo the weight room in favor of extra rolls in the hay (and in the middle), but the muscles add some much-needed eye candy.

ESPECIALLY if you have to worry about the next stiff breeze driving away the last of your Bond's hairline. Come on, there must be some hairy guys in the British Isles somewhere. The Bruce Willis/Kevin Costner hair now/gone tomorrow look is less than ideal.

Second, and a huge Craig-as-Bond issue: Drew thought Daniel Craig was giving us the Blue Steel look all night, but I realized that it is not an acting thing, it's a physical defect that is difficult to overlook: his upper lip is too long, which gives him an endless pout.

How did they overlook this? That's a deal killer in my book.

I know. How superficial of me. But hey, this is a Bond flick. That's all there is.

And how old is Daniel Craig? The plot is based on this being Bond's first outing as an MI6, but he doesn't look any younger than any of the Bonds that have gone before him. It's confusing.

The rest:

OMG, who did the make-up for Vesper, the Bond girl? Hey, if you want her to have bigger lips, you can't just color outside the lines. It just looks like a chimp put her lipstick on.

Poor Judi Dench had the job of trying to stitch up the miles of action scenes into a coherent plot. She should get some kind of an Oscar for that.

Bottom line: A good time was had by all (except maybe the couple behind us who were forced to listen to our snarky comments). Sorry.

Funny Creatures We Saw At The Zoo In The Rain

Here's our zoo's new black bear. He comes right up to the glass, but he doesn't stay long because people are incredibly boring to look at. It's awfully cool to be so close to a fuzzy, wuzzy killer.
This cool crane bird kept posing for me so I felt kind of obligated to click away, even though I'm not much of a bird person. Ducks and penguins notwithstanding.
Hippos do not care about rain.
This puma was keeping a close eye out for loose babies. She feels that it's only a matter of time.
Mountain goat being all dramatic. As they are wont to do.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Catholicism: So Hot Right Now.

I thought I would educate myself today on some sainthood facts, being that it's Saint Patrick's Day and I have lots of better things to do, most of them involving the cleaning of something.

I looked up some saint info, hoping to find some delicious tidbits on some cool, kick-butt saints. It turns out that most of them do not land in the kick-butt category.

A large portion of them seemed to have claimed some dark-ages territory for themselves when it was easy to find pagans and whipped the natives into shape for God.

There seems to be a saint for every portion of the Old World map (Friesia, Bordeax, Brittany, some guy that got shipwrecked on the Isle of Mann, you get the idea), mostly a function of where the old popes sent their buddies to stake a claim for Rome.

The cool thing about Saint Patrick is that he probably would not be the patron saint of Ireland if not for the fact that a bunch of plundering Celt pagan Druids stole him as a kid, brought him back to Ireland, and enslaved him as a farmboy there for most of his teens. He escaped back to Britain, went to priest school, and came back to Ireland to kick some pagan butt. But he probably didn't kick any snake butt. The island has probably always been snake free. Lucky island.

Some interesting tidbits gleaned from way too much time looking for interesting tidbits about saints:

The official Catholic website lists 2 patron saints of firefighters:

St. Florian (feast day: May 4 - make your feasting plans early!): One of those saints who got to be a saint by being tortured to death by Roman meanies (another large subgroup). It seems one of the tortures was being set on fire. Not that he wasn't an awesome saint or anything, but that's a pretty lame excuse to get to be a patron saint of firefighting. Being set on fire against one's will. Not exactly in the firefighter's bag of tricks.

St. John of God (feast day: March 8 - make your feasting plans early!): This guy was mostly insane, but he did do some actual firefighting, which makes him a better candidate for patron saint-itude. He saved patients from a burning hospital, and saved the bulk of the hospital from burning by chopping the burning portion away, falling through the roof in the process, and then emerging (ta-dah!) from the flaming wreckage. I'd say we have a winner.

There's a patron saint for almost everything. Case in point: the patron saint of hoarseness is St. Bernardine of Siena, who, after becoming a priest, hung back from preaching for a while because of a bad hoarseness thing, but then got over it and preached a lot to make up for lost time.
I'm going to go pray to St. Martin de Porres, patron saint of hairdressers, to do something about my cowlick.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Note To The Techno Gods: You Can Have My First Born.

Just leave me in peace.

You have me where you want me. I said Uncle. Now free me from the shackles of your "updates," which foul my podcasts and my You Tubes and your secret erasures which pock my office hard drives and leave them scarred and deformed.

Let. My. iPod. Go.

Note To Horror Movie Producers: Give Up.

It's already been done better than you can do with your all your CGIs and your DGMs (that's your Digital Goo Makers).

The Shining has already been made. There's not going to be another Jack. Timberline's not going to let you try another remake at their cool spooky snow lodge. And that scary little kid has grown up.

So go try to find a way to make a halfway decent romantic comedy, because The Shining has been done, and you can't make it better.


Obvy, I just watched The Shining all the way through for the first time on the Sci Fi Channel, and even though there were commercials (which helped me finish the laundry) and I kept noticing things like the bourbon in Jack's glass go from 1/4 full to 1/2 full after a cutaway, I can imagine the affect it must have had on theater goers. No wonder everybody still quotes that movie.

No wonder people keep trying to make horror pictures. They keep thinking they'll strike the same nerve.

Won't happen, people. I'm telling you. It's been perfected.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I Need A Version 1.1 Patch

I’m moody. (Certain family members will be going “duh” right now.) My latest dark mood started in earnest yesterday and gathered steam last night. Today I would warn anyone from telling me to smile or requiring me to watch “Terms of Endearment.”

I have a pretty good idea that the culprit is, once more, my body’s “everything in excess” approach to hormone usage.

The worst part about being jerked around by one’s own hormones is that there is no way for me to know whether my feelings are genuine or manufactured by my own pituitary demons for their black-hearted amusement. Because most of the time I can come up with a perfectly logical reason (say, an off-the-cuff query about the real need to watch “Animal Cops” yet again) for wanting to tear someone’s throat out, which, come morning, may seem a little out of balance, but at the time, seems merciful.

One would think that a glance at the calendar would serve the purpose, but as any husband knows, even looking in the direction of a calendar during a hormone storm could cause bloody casualties and lasting scars. And as I age, the calendar is less and less useful, if I were in any mood to look.

I wish I could get some sort of hormonal update download that would give me a hint when my hormones were pulling the strings. Maybe a hum in my left ear, or a little blind spot in the upper left-hand corner of my eye. It would have to be something obvious to me alone (not, like, a red spot on my forehead that could be diagnosed by others). Otherwise, the possible helpful comments of loved ones would only result in further shrieking devastation.

I have to say, I keep things under control a little better than an earlier version of myself had. Now, I usually just come across as distant and cold. Which, if they could only see into the dark, black, Marvel Comics-style mayhem going on under the surface, they would kneel and bow at my feet.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Night Blather.

My mind is not traveling in a straight line today. It's veering thither and yon. Like this.
  • I had to hire a new CPA because our last tax preparers went all flaky on us. Unfortunately, this is the worst year, money-wise, for hiring a new CPA. We're broke. We spent all our money on non-tax-write-off-able stuff. Like Dean's rent. And Dean's food. And bike parts. And a new roof. We didn't even have enough to show a respectable charity write-off amount. How embarrassing. If we end up having to pay taxes, I will have to sell velvet paintings on the street corner for the money. I suppose CPAs are supposed to attempt to be non-judgmental, but I think I was testing her straight face.
  • I bought concert tickets on a whim today. More like under duress. I checked my secondary email account just in time to find a presale from KNRK for the Decemberists. The tickets go on sale to the public tomorrow, but since I'm such an awesome radio listener, they gave me a password to order today. But only until 4 today. Well, it was 3:30. What else was I supposed to do? So I did. I bought 4 so Dean and Jenny could go with us.
  • Don't be giving me that look. I know I just told you we were broke. But this is The Decemberists. Back off.
  • I emailed Dean and Jenny at 6:15 to see if they were free that day, and Dean called me at 6:16. Seems that they are free.
  • Never buy a pearly colored car. It looks dirty at the first molecule of dust. It only goes downhill from there. Right now, after 3 straight weeks of rain, it looks like a 60-year-old corrugated tin shed.
  • British soccer players have cool names. At least they sound cool coming through my slightly damaged hearing. During a recent Blackburn/Arsenal match, there seemed to be a Tuareg, a Phlegmy, an Abudobby, a Flabbergast, and one Olly-olly Oxenfree.
  • However, I heard a local urchin mom calling her personal urchin Anakin. Yes. The Skywalker of Jedi fame, later to exhibit a serious character flaw by assuming the cute nickname Darth Vader and killing people willy-nilly, if I have my Star War-abilia correct.
  • Somebody shot and killed a sandhill crane in Vancouver. They should rot in jail.
  • I'm going to go eat some chocolate now. Happy weekend!