31 March 2007

Lily of the Valley

startled fox
valley lily
face to face

Okay, so it's an artificial fox. The picture still turned out nicely. I planted 10 lilies of the valley today, all from the same package. And, yes, one of them had bloomed inside the package. :^) I also found and planted another black raspberry and golden raspberry plant. The golden raspberry already has an abundance of leaves, while the black raspberry is just a stick. I figure this balances out the already planted ones, which are in reverse.

More good news: My peonies are aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive! I thought I'd lost them last summer. My neighbor's new cement driveway, I think, blocked a lot of their water source and so I should have watered them more, but I didn't realize there was a problem in time.

And last night I got all my mom's rose roots in the ground. They all had some new growth before planting, so hopefully they'll all make it. And now... I might see about digging out a place to put some more bulbs.

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28 March 2007


Strange Qalmlea, she grabbed a spade,
while making up this ballad.
Dug some dandelions and she
called them dinner salad!

I've decided that if dandelions are going to grow in my yard, then I'm going to eat them. However, it seems that the sources I found were correct when they said that full grown leaves tended to be extremely bitter. They would be good additions to a salad including other greens and vegetables, but an entire salad consisting of just dandelion leaves... It was a bit much. I did put some agave nectar and lemon juice on them, and added more agave nectar when I realized just how bitter they were, but even then I immediately wanted something to get the taste out of my mouth.

Some interesting things: there seemed to be a mild stimulant effect. I knew that the root was supposed to have a stimulant in it (and is sometimes roasted and used like coffee), but I didn't expect it in the leaves. It could also just be a reaction to the bitterness. But there was definitely an astringent effect on my mouth. Anyway, when I try this again, I will either have more vegetables on hand or discard all but the youngest leaves.

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27 March 2007

Dahlia (aka at least one bulb survived)

sprouting amidst

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26 March 2007

Gibson Jack

barren hillside
until you look
amongst the grass

friendly dogs
become companions
for a while

breathe the taiji form
turn around

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25 March 2007

A few minor details

Item one: I edged my lawn this morning. The walkway to my stairs now appears to be twice as wide as it was. Yes, it was in desperate need of edging.

Item two: My mom bought blue rose root yesterday. Seriously. The picture looks blue. I hope the real flowers are even close to the pictured color!

Item three: Discovery Channel's Planet Earth series is absolutely awesome. I have one minor complaint: it's too short! 11 one-hour long episodes isn't nearly enough.

Item four: I managed to damage a sawhorse last summer, and tonight I found a good set of two on clearance. For $16.95, I got both of them. Before clearance, they would have been $50 together. They're sturdier than my old ones, too.

Item 5: It's Day 89 of my 108-day goal. The initial goal finishes on Friday, 13 April, amusingly enough. After that, I'm going to up it. Three rounds of the taiji form AND the sword form. The yoga-breathing-chanting requirement I'll leave the same for the next cycle. It might go up when the second 108-days is over, though. I'm feeling happier, healthier, and, oddly, younger than I have in quite a while, and I credit it to my daily regimen. Exercise and meditation. Also, I've been more productive. A more complete report on 13 April, or thereabouts. :^)

Item 6: There is no Item 6.

Item 7: Dovienya actually climbed up on my lap tonight. Twice!

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Update and a Dream

First, the dream: It started off as a sort of high-school/college reunion. Only things went all pear-shaped, and somehow I got sucked into an alternate dimension version of the reunion. Faith (as in the BtVS character) was the primary speaker, only in this dimension she was sixty or more pounds overweight with dozens of earrings dangling from her right ear and (I think) a rather nasty scar down her face. The dimensional stability went, and left a group of us stranded in a sort of wilderness environment. Sort of, because there were man-made things scattered amidst the rocks and trees. A door appeared and everyone tried to scramble through it (this was a shortcut across the rockiest, most difficult terrain), but I didn't quite make it. So I started across the rocks. Parts of it were like the lava hike, but my last memory was of grabbing onto some windchimes (very sturdy ones, apparently, and long) and using them to climb down a cliff face. When I was about five feet from the bottom, there was a gust of wind strong enough to knock me loose and the wind chimes...chimed. Not a metallic sound: more like the way bamboo chimes sound. [/dream]

On Friday, I decided to dig out the paving stones in the front yard that I had once used to make a path. They didn't actually follow the path I usually walked there, and some of them were more than half overgrown with grass. I managed to buy too many hexagonal stones last fall when I was making the backyard path, so I used the leftovers to make a contiguous path from the stairs to the driveway, with a sand substrate. A tirepump would have been useful for moving the sand...

Since my wheelbarrow had a nearly flat tire. I now have a tire pump, so this morning I'll probably rectify the situation. On the other hand, moving a hundred pounds of sand in a wheelbarrow with a flat tire was an interesting experience.

I have also developed a hi-tech filtration system for removing excess gravel from the dirt in my front yard. For $2.10 (plus shipping and handling and tax), you, too can be the proud owner of a soil-gravel-filtration system! The first component is a white bucket with heart-shaped perforations all over it. This first filter catches the larger rocks and sticks, and the holes must be heart-shaped, uh, because, uh..., the mystic Caballeros say so (alternately, because it was the first thing I found at the dollar-five store). This first part of the system also helps break up larger clumps of dirt. The second part of the system is a plastic bowl covered in 1/8" holes, also known as a 'collander' or 'sieve' depending on where the intended use is. Anyway, with the two pieces I've been able to get most of the gravel out of the soil where I planted the flower bulbs.

My older neighbor from across the street came by while I was doing this to find out why. He's the classic neighborhood gossip, and I found out from him that my one-legged, drug-dealing neighbor had been sentenced to eight years (minimum five). Apparently he was technically still on parole for something else when he was arrested... *sighs*

Back to the yard, the leaf on the black raspberry plant is in the process of becoming a twig, and I bought some more perennials to plant when it starts staying above freezing at night again. One is thyme, one is a viola (looks sort of like a pansy, but with the leaves overlapping differently), and one is a "hen-and-chicks", so called because of the way it spreads.

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21 March 2007

More Yard Stuff

I bought Hollyhocks today! I'm not going to plant them just yet, as we're having a bit of a cold snap (and I should probably cover up the Clematis plants tonight, just in case).

I did plant a few bulbs on Monday. I dug roughly a two foot circle in the front yard, sifted a bunch of gravel out of the dirt (remnants of the old gravel driveway, I presume), dumped in some of my leftover sand, a bag of bulb-starter-soil, a bag of manure, and another bag of bulb-starter soil. Then I stuck the bulbs in at the appropriate depths. I haven't had much luck with bulbs in the past, but I haven't been as in tune with things either. *shrugs* We'll see if they grow. As for the stuff I've planted already, the black raspberry has a leaf that is definitely growing, and looks to be ready to put out another leaf or two. I'm not sure about the golden raspberry; I think that there are some buds growing out of the, er, stick that weren't there before, but I'm not 100% sure.

I've got a little cat that's been coming around lately. She looks Siamese, mostly. A bit of research and I found out that the Siamese coloring is carried by a recessive gene. Two copies of the gene, and any cat will get the distinctive points, etc. I'm reasonably certain this one's not a purebred, as there are faint stripes that show up in the tawny part of her coat. Though she is slightly cross-eyed, as many Siamese are. I've been calling her Dovienya ("luck"). She's been coming by roughly once a day, usually extremely hungry. She likes being petted, but isn't too fond of being held. I've offered to let her inside, but so far she hasn't done more than step just past the threshold. *shrugs*

Between Dovienya and my hiking wanderlust of last summer, I've been paying a lot more attention to the seasons, the outdoors, and my own yard. Attentiveness is the first step to getting it the way I want, and an important part of keeping it that way. Anyway, when it warms up again, I'll plant the hollyhock between the two new raspberry plants. I got one "black" hollyhock (which will probably be a deep, deep purple) and two that could turn out to be any color to go around it. And speaking of raspberries, my established red raspberry plants are well on their way:

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18 March 2007


I spent today on some outdoor projects. I finished putting sand in between the stones of the walkway I mostly finished last fall. It looks pretty good. Hmmm... I didn't think of taking a picture of that, but I did take pictures of the things I planted today. They're below the fold.

First up, I planted two clematis in a little arbor that I made by a fence. The raccoon and fox were presents from my mom and grandma, years ago. The little raccoon (on one of the blocks) was in my garden back when I had one, and probably got mowed over several times before I found it last fall while digging the walkway. As for the large blocks, they were the original porch for the door into the garage. It looks like someone poored conrete into buckets, with a divider in the middle. I like them better here than as a porch.

The next two are raspberry plants. The first is a black raspberry. We had a black raspberry bush when I was growing up, and I missed it when it died off (probably due to lack of sunlight; the neighbor's trees kept growing up around it). So I'm hoping it will grow. Below it is a gold raspberry plant. No clue what gold raspberries are like, but if it survives, I should find out in a year or so.

This isn't a new plant, but my lilac bush seems to be doing well this year. It's almost as tall as I am now!

And this last one is my ornamental plum bush. It produces beautiful white blooms in the spring, but if any actual plums develop, they're too small to be seen. *shrugs*

I haven't been doing much with my yard the past few years. There are many reasons, but probably the most important one is that my outdoor water-faucet leaked more water into the driveway than actually made it through the hose. I finally got it fixed last summer, so I'm feeling enthusiastic about actually having a nice yard again. Actually, my goal is to turn it into a semi-Japanese garden. I don't really want much grass. I'd rather weed a garden than mow useless grass. Now if I can just remember to water those new plants everyday for a while...

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17 March 2007

Short Loop at Hell's Half Acre

I was going to stop at a lava tube that I found on a map, but it looked a bit busy there, so I went past it to the untamed portion of Hell's Half Acre. Along the way, I saw some odd mammals that looked sort of like rockchucks, except they were rather large and had some white on their heads. My first thought was that they might be badgers. Then I looked at some pictures of badgers and decided that, no, that wasn't it. It turns out that there's another kind of marmot that's found in Idaho: the Hoary Marmot. It's a bit larger and has paler markings than the more common yellow-bellied-marmot. No pictures, as I was going 65 mph and my camera was stowed somewhere out of reach.

At Hell's Half Acre, there were more cars than I ever remember seeing there this summer. I don't know if all of the occupants were hiking on the lava, though. I only saw one other group of people, and that was on my way back. I also saw a chipmunk for a brief instant, and one bird who obligingly stayed still in a juniper skeleton long enough for me to snap this:

I think it's a dark-eyed junco, of the slate-colored variety. The picture isn't clear enough for me to be certain, but at least juncos can be found in desert areas, unlike most of the other candidates I found in Birds of the Rocky Mountains.

At any rate, it was interesting to see the area with snow still hiding in a lot of the crevices. And it looks like they need to do some trail maintenance. The sign pointing the way to the longer hike to the vent seems to be half-gone. I was rather pleased with myself that I recognized where the sign SHOULD be, and looked around until I found it. It had fallen off of the trail marker and broken. Hmmm... It might be nice to try and make the long hike early in the spring, but I don't have very many free mornings. Even now, noon or later is not a good time to be out there. It's okay for the short loop, but it would be bad for the long hike.

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15 March 2007

More Butterflies

I wandered a ways up the West Fork of Mink Creek today. Not as warm as Tuesday, but it was nice enough. If you didn't mind the ice, snow, and mud, anyway. :^) There were some dry parts, but the early portion of the trail was all on north-facing slopes. Most of this part was pure ice, especially at the center of the trail. The slightly dry mud in some other parts didn't bother me. I turned around when I got to a section that looked to be several hundred feet of slogging, squishy mud. At a guess, I was maybe a mile up the trail. Possibly less, as it was slow going. It's a bit hard to appreciate scenery when you're staring down at the ice/snow/mud, looking for a safe place to put your feet, but in the dryer (drier?) sections, I got some good pictures. No flowers out yet, but I keep finding butterflies. Pictures below the fold.

First up, the Mourning Cloak. This one I recognized immediately, as it showed up in my garden one year and I managed to identify it then. Gorgeous butterflies. That "cloak" is irridescent in the sunlight, reflecting deep blues and violets as the light hits it. And...this seems to be another one that survives the winter and comes out to mate in the spring.

Next up, this looks like another Milbert's Tortoiseshell. The example picture is much darker, but I figure it's at least a close relative.

This one was tiny. Maybe an inch, inch and a quarter, wing-span. Let's see if I can find any match to it... Not really. I'm pretty sure it's a "skipper," but none of the ones I'm finding quite match it. *shrugs* The underside of the wings was a nice, bright orange, but it never presented them to me for long enough to get a picture.

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Mad World

There was an awesome song that they used in a CSI episode, and apparently also appeared on the Donnie Darko soundtrack (weird movie; well-worth watching once, not necessarily more than once). It's got a simple, haunting melody, reminiscent of some of Paul Simon's earlier melodies. The song is Mad World. I've posted the lyrics below the fold. The first verse sums up how I felt for much of last spring. I relate to the sentiments in the second verse (though not from recent events). The chorus...just makes sense to me, in a nonsensical way. Though it works much better with the melody.

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world ... world
Enlarge your world
Mad world

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14 March 2007


I guess it's not too early for butterflies. There were quite a few of them up at City Creek yesterday. Looked like they were all the same species, too. I've posted some pictures below the fold. I think they're brushfoots again, maybe hoary commas or green commas (which are closely related to the Tortoiseshells). Based on the descriptions, they're more likely to be green commas. No clue what's green, unless maybe they have a green chrysalis? Ah, this might be why they're out so early: "Adults hibernate and mate the following spring."

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A Presidential Candidate with Teeth...er...Stakes?

Impale Bush!

Rarely do I find politics amusing, but I would love to see this guy get some portion of the vote. Apparently his campaign promise is to "Impale Bush if I'm elected President." Oh, did I mention the guy claims to be a vampire? :^D It's probably a sign of how fed up I am with the majority of politicians that I'd rather see this guy in office than most of the other candidates. (via Pharyngula and Respectful Insolence)

Ooooh, Orac posted a list of impalees. Fair warning, not the most pleasant stuff to read. Hmmm... this guy might actually be a bit TOO angry to vote for.

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13 March 2007

City Creek

countless maple leaves
gold against grey bark
blaze brighter than stars

hear: the brook babble;
the wind roar down the valley;
the birds swoop and laugh

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There are self-described fundamentalist Jews and Muslims and Christians, probably some Buddhists and Confucianists, too.So why not atheists? It's interesting that the ones who get called "fundamentalist atheists" generally recoil from the name and insist that it's not proper. They've got no ["holy" book] to be fundamental about. It took me a while to figure out why I considered some atheists fundamentalists. It was a matter of figuring out the commonality with other fundamentalist groups. And it's actually a rather simple distinction.

The difference is that the fundamentalist atheists have a mentality that everyone is either with them or against them, with them or part of the problem, with them or a wooly-minded-anti-science-unicorn-rider. If you read the comments on the posts I linked to yesterday, you'll see a great deal of that. They've even got the "no true atheist" bit going on, though they call the "non-true" atheists "Neville Chamberlain" atheists. How is this any different from "You don't interpret things the way we do! You're not a true [Christian|Muslim|Jew|Aiel|Buddhist|Confucianist|etc.]!" ? Oh, but they're not fundamentalists. Oh, no. They're just right and everyone else is wrong. Yuh-huh. Sure.

Even more interesting, they blame all the evils of society on religion. Not just some, but all. Every so often they'll preface this with "Oh, atheists aren't perfect, but..." Sounds a lot like the Christian rubric of "Not perfect, just forgiven." There are probably equivalences in other religions as well, but I haven't encountered them yet. And when a religious person actually does something good, the attitude is that this is always in spite of said person's religion. They are incapable of acknowledging that something religious could have a positive impact. Rather like Christians who blame everything on the eVIL, godless [commies|atheists|oppositional Christian sects|homosexuals|etc].

There's really only one important distinction (and it's not the belief or lack of belief in a deity). Religious fundamentalists embrace the title. Atheist fundamentalists deny and shy away from the title. This does suggest they have a bit more sense than their religious counterparts, but they're still fundamentalists: exclusionary and intolerant of disagreement with their dogma. Their dogma may not come from a book, but that doesn't change anything.

Note: Many of them do claim that if they found evidence of a god's existence, they would drop their atheism and become believers. Their definition of "evidence" seems to be that the god emerges and presents itself to them directly and performs a miracle of some sort. This may be the kind of god that some fundamentalists believe in, but it isn't the kind that the vast majority of people who consider themselves religious or spiritual describe. Which renders this claim irrelevant as far as mainstream religion/spirituality goes. Rather like the Creationists who refuse to believe in evolution until they see a frog turn into a cat, or some such nonsense.

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12 March 2007

Science Blog Wars

Scienceblogs are home to a large number of atheists, and thus many of their discussions are very anti-religous. Sometimes ridiculously so, as ridiculous as some anti-atheist diatribes I've seen. However, one blogger has recently begun discussing his own stance, and he's no atheist. I highly recommend reading his posts:

So I'm a Christian, Shoot Me
What is the Purpose of Religion?.

I think the key statement is here: "We are talking a layer of reality that is crucial for many, irrelevant to others, and orthogonal to the natural world except via the affects is has as a result of the actions of the faithful."

However, trying to get the virulent anti-theists to actually consider that seriously is like...trying to get a Christian Fundamentalist to show respect for the Koran. The thing to realize is that he is not making any statements contrary to naturalistic science. There's a fundamental (er, no pun intended) disconnect here. I think it goes like this:

NA:"There is no direct interaction with the natural world."
A:"Then you admit there is no god!"
A:"If there's no interaction, there's no way to measure it, so it doesn't exist."

And then the discussion generally degenerates into namecalling on one side or the other (or both). I look forward to the post where Rob explains why he chooses the label "Christian" for himself.

I consider myself a Taoist. What is the Tao? *shrugs* How do I know it's real? *waves a pair of pliers* What if it didn't exist? *blinks in puzzlement* Am I actually going to answer any of these questions? *smiles*

A mite more detail than that: The Tao is the Tao. But as soon as you call it the Tao, it's changed. It's something other than what it was. What was it to begin with? If I answer, it is no answer. If I do not answer, you might have a chance at understanding. Does the Tao intervene in human affairs? *blinks* I'm wearing socks, aren't I?

I could go on, but it's unlikely to help anyone currently scratching their heads in puzzlement.

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Between one thing in another, it had been a year since my last dental cleaning. The hygeinist nearly always compliments me on how well I clean my teeth, but it doesn't seem to matter much. No matter how well I floss, I get cavities between my teeth. I'm a bit fed up with it, frankly. This runs in my family. My grandma had all her teeth pulled when she was 30. My mom has more crowns and bridges than actual teeth. And today I had four fillings.

Three of them were in the same place, so a single numbing shot took care of them. One was on the top of the same side. By the time they finished the three on the bottom, the numbing on the top had worn off completely. I felt it when they wrapped the metal clamp around the offending tooth and braced myself. Yes, I could have asked for more numbing, but they were almost done. When the doctor started drilling and hit a nerve, he could tell that I felt it and stopped. I waved him off and mumbled through the dental dam that I didn't want any more numbing. That was...interesting. It hurt like hell for maybe thirty seconds, pause, another spurt of pain, and then a few twinges while they were finishing up. But thirty seconds of intense pain is preferable to several extra hours of numb mouth. (My mom would disagree; my dad would agree. *shrugs*) Oh, and the bottom part of my mouth is still somewhat numb. I don't know how common this is, but the numbing has always worked better and lasted longer on the bottom jaw than on the top.

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10 March 2007

Morning Off

I wasn't quite feeling up to par today, so I stayed home from taiji. I feel okay right now, but I suspect that it would have been a bad idea for me to drive to IF and back. Since I stayed home, though, I got to play with tear gas, skin-burning chemicals, dead birds, Japanese fungus, dried seeds, roots, and a host of other things. *grins* In other words, I made chicken stew. It still has about an hour to cook. I've never put Shiitake mushrooms in a stew before, but the raw piece I tried had a nice, woody flavor. Slightly strong aftertaste, though. But since I only got four mushrooms (roughly an inch and a half in diameter), I figure that they won't overpower the rest of the stew.

UPDATE: I started feeling much better shortly after eating the bit of shiitake, but I was also eating a fresh-peeled carrot and half a sweet potato. And I feel even better after eating some of my stew. I'm halfway tempted to credit the shiitake, but chicken stew/soup in general is supposed to be good for colds, too. *shrugs* Though I have to laugh at some of the claims made for shiitake. "Strengthens the immune system! Good for treating HIV!" Anyone else see the irony there? Now, when they claim antiviral properties and good for treating HIV, that, at least, is reasonable. I don't know how true it is, though.

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09 March 2007

Kirkham Trail

It's not quite as warm today, but it was warm enough that I ventured over to the Kirkham Trail. Lots of cool stuff to see, but I'm going to focus on non-plantlife for the moment. Click below for wildlife encounters.

The first rabbit of the year! (Which I wouldn't have even seen if I hadn't startled him and sent him hopping for a different bush)

And the first robin of the year:

A magpie. The magpies were a mite infuriating. Every time I moved to get a better angle, they hid. I wasn't trying to get close to them. *sighs* I managed to get a few decent shots, though.

And a butterfly. I've seen one like this before...but I don't feel like digging through books or the archives to find it. I was just surprised to see a butterfly out this early. [UPDATE: I think it's some sort of tortoiseshell, likely Milbert's Tortoiseshell. The other two tortoiseshells on the site don't have ranges anywhere near Idaho, but I'm sure there are some tortoiseshells not pictured on the site. Although...the Milbert's tortoiseshell isn't expected out this time of year, so possibly it could be a California Patch that got blown off course? *shrugs*]

Last, some sort of white weasel. I've never seen an animal like this in the wild. I only managed to get the one picture, and I was just lucky it (mostly) turned out. My scale could be off, since I was a fair distance away, but I think his body was about 6 inches long and maybe 1.5 inches thick, with a 6-8 inch tail that looked a lot like a rat's tail. I have a total of two weasels in my one book with mammals in it, and both have furry tails. *shrugs* [UPDATE: My best guess is that it's a Least Weasel that either had lost the fur on its tail, or had such sparse fur there that the tail looked bare.]

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08 March 2007


one year gone
cold flesh held no pulse
empty form

the night before
unable to rise
dignity gone

one last visit home
too slow and too quick
does she fly free now?

Hard to believe it's been a year. I miss her.

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07 March 2007

Fichter's Poetry

I still haven't found a fix for the expand link appearing on every post. One does exist...and it probably involves an entirely different set of coding to make the expand work. Ah well. [Switched to the version where the post expands on the page.]

One last post regarding the Fichter trail. On each of the information posts, there's an excerpt from one of Fichter's poems. Some segments I've added into the Random quotes, but this one was too long and I couldn't think of a way to coherently break it into smaller pieces. So I'll post it here:

No wilderness of my remembered years
As sweetly sang to me
................as this possessive land -
The night-sad voices of its haunted winds
That only searching hearts can understand.
Too late I came to consummate a bond
With every sensous meaning
.......................of its perfumed air,
Its brooding slopes and secret valleys that
Will never feel my shadow moving there:
Too late for total being. Yet I know
These hills will never let me go.
................................Edson Fichter

And since the expand link will appear whether I want it to or not, you can find out how I recorded the poems below.

With my camera, of course! I just zoomed in on the poem on the guidepost, adjusted the focus a bit, and they all turned out legible, much to my surprise.

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Excursion to Edson Fichter

Huh. I can't believe I got that working on the first try *knock on plastic laminated particle board* Anyway, I wandered over to Edson Fichter after completing my teaching duties. It's very warm here, at least 60°. When the wind was calm, I was tempted to take my jacket off. When the wind came up, though, I was glad to have it.

Anyway, the trail isn't fully paved. The area closest to the gate is, but the rest is either gravel or dirt. The "official" trails are gravel. There are some others that seem to go along the river there, or just to the river in some cases. Anyway, for the convenience of those with slow connections who don't want to wait for every picture in every post to load, I figured I'd work out how to do the fold-thingy. So click for pictures!

Here we have the gateway. There are a lot of guidepost signs with similar carvings. Some of fish or birds, at least one of trees.

This is some sort of tree or shrub that produces cones (or at least things that look like cones). I'll have to try and figure out what it might be later.

The next two are of the same tree. I'm still being lazy and not trying to figure out what it is, but it looks ready for Christmas, doesn't it? ;^)

Here we have something odd attached to the first bridge. Looks like it's marked for certain water levels. It's also got lots of holes all over it. *shrugs*

Next up, cockleburrs! (Note: while there is a plant called the "cockleburr" plant, I call anything with stickery things remotely resembling these a cockleburr plant. I'm sure Pam would have a fit if she ever bothered to read my blog.)

Finally, a nice scenery shot of the Portneuf River.

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Testing, testing...

Just checking to see if...

the expandable post code is working. From Hackosphere. Aaaand, it is, except that the "more" link is appearing in EVERY post. *sighs*

UPDATE: So...I switched over to Peekaboo style since that one I found a hack that doesn't put the continue link on every post. *shrugs*

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06 March 2007


I went wandering today after the beginner's taiji class, mainly to see what the status of Gibson Jack was, but I made some interesting discoveries along the way. Normally, I go down Benton to Arthur, turn south, and then Gibson Jack Road is on the right eventually. Today I figured that, well, second goes south too. Surely there's a way across the railroad tracks eventually. Yes, I could have been wrong, but it turns out I was right. Second eventually turns into Cheyenne, which then meets up with the Old Bannock Highway.

More interesting, though, were two trailheads that were prominently marked. They both seem to be part of the Portneuf Greenway. The first one encountered, going south, is Kirkham Trail. The link isn't very informative; Kirkham is one of the few trail there you can't zoom in on, or else my browser is screwy. The second was the Edson Fichter Trail. There's more info here, including that it's paved and goes around/through a wilderness area. It's not really a hike when it's paved, but after driving up to Gibson Jack, paving might be good over spring break.

So, yes, I did make it back up to the Gibson Jack trailhead. The road was bonedry right up to the "No Winter Maintenance Past This Point" sign. Then there was slush, and snow, and mud. I made it up to the trailhead, but decided that I didn't want to hike until things had dried out a bit more. Besides, Jean Luc isn't really at his best in mud. It wasn't soggy enough that my car got stuck, though that was definitely on my mind, but it was soggy enough to discourage me from going back for a while. So there's always the two trails on second! (there may be a few more there as well, also parts of the Greenway)

ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention that there were five or six deer on the south slope across from the rode when I drove up. If they were still there when I drove back down, I couldn't see them. Doe, 6 deer, 6 female deer; ray, the sunlight on the hill; me, a name I call myself; fa, a long long way to fall... *stops*

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Me Ninja!

We shall see if this works this time...

a Ninja
You scored 10 Honor, 3 Justice, 6 Adventure, and 4 Individuality!
You are a soldier of the night. You rely on no more than your cunning and your repuation to strike fear in the hearts of lord and peasant alike. You've a sense of honor, but one that comes from within, not imposed from outside.

Black clothes and shuriken for you. You're gonna do just fine.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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You scored higher than 99% on Ninjinuity

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You scored higher than 99% on Knightlyness

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You scored higher than 99% on Cowboiosity

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You scored higher than 99% on Piratical Bent
Link: The Cowboy-Ninja-Pirate-Knight Test written by fluffy71

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05 March 2007

Status Report (minor rant)

Interestingly, since getting on a full regimen of multivitamins, I haven't needed to take decongestant nearly as much. I think I took it once last week. I don't know if that's because my stuffy nose was due to a deficiency or if one of the vitamins has a decongestant effect. I've still been taking some guafeinisin (that's probably spelled wrong, but I don't care at the moment), to help with my breathing, but not the pseudoephedrine. And guafeinisin is available on the shelf. Pseudoephedrine isn't.

I've been feeling lousy today. Headache. Groggy. Irritable. I may have a cold coming on, or I may just be fed up with grading tests. Every class had a test on Friday. I've got all but one set graded now (and that one's almost done). I really really really really REALLY REALLY RRREEEAAALLLYYYY hate grading the Math025 tests. The way Cathi writes them, it's like she's trying to make them difficult to grade. Not the questions themselves: it's the placement on the page. They are inefficiently packed. Yes, the students need some room to write. Very few of them need that much lateral space. Vertical space would be more useful AND more efficient. This last test was 40 questions, on four pages, front and back. Eight total pages to grade. Every page flip adds time to the grading, not to mention the issue of wasted paper. This test could easily have been gotten down to 6 pages, were it packed more efficiently. Maybe four or five. Graphs can go side by side, after all. Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm feeling lousy because I had to grade those inefficiently packed tests...or if feeling lousy made the inefficiency irritate me more. I'll try to stop ranting now.

Or not. Going back to the sinus medication, why is it that so many of them package ingredients together? Especially in nonsensical combinations? Expectorant and cough suppressant, for instance. Expectorant loosens mucus so that you can cough it up. *sighs* It took me forever to find some guafeinisin (expectorant) packaged by itself. There's Mucinex, but I discovered that it puts me to sleep without the pseudoephedrine in it. Which is fine at night, but not during the day. Anyway, I better close this off if I don't want to have to restart my 108 days.

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Some Science Selections

All right, this article is posted as a new result, but I've seen the same idea at least twice before. One of them was probably a precursor to the study mentioned in the article. The other source, though, was my Native American Philosophy teacher, several years ago. She claimed that when food was scarce, the tribes would limit the amount of food available to children to delay the onset of puberty. The article, of course, is discussing the opposite effect: obese young girls tend to have earlier onset of puberty. It makes perfect sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Not much food around? You don't want early puberty creating more children to feed, not soon anyway. Lots of resources? Sure, get ready to have babies. Yet the article suggests this is a radical new insight. So...do scientists not talk to native Americans? Or just not believe them?

Apparently a few researchers think schizophrenia is linked to abuse, but most disagree. I can tell you for a fact that schizotypal disorders and schizophrenia run in my family. My dad will explain to you that his mother and sisters, probably brothers and cousins, too, all conspired to destroy his personality. Here's my opinion, based on my own family. A tendency towards schizotypal behavior is inherited. Depending on the environment, it may or may not lead to full-blown schizophrenia. My dad's sister has one kid with some of the same personality features of my dad, and her daughter has one kid who shows signs as well. The older one has has lots of social problems (and was in prison for a while). I'm hoping that the younger one manages to avoid the worst of it.

Then there's torture. Apparently psychological torture is just as mentally damaging as physical torture. One caution: their psychological torture sample was only 20. It's not like they could ethically increase that, though. The thing to keep in mind is that torture is not a reliable means of gathering intelligence. At some point, the person will just try desperately to figure out what the torturer wants to hear and tell them that, to make the torture stop. The article mentions a specific example of Al Qaeda intelligence gathered through torture that turned out to be bogus.

Some good news about global warming: the CFC ban is believed to have had an enormous impact. I'd like to see how, exactly, they modeled things, though.

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04 March 2007

Thoughtful Linkage

Positive Liberty is perhaps my favorite political blog. Not because I always agree with everything that gets posted, but because everything is well thought out. It's been added to the Blog list, and here are three recent posts that are well worth reading:

Iraqi Freedom: Yup. There we are. Fighting so that Iraqis can fight over money that might buy as much as 50 eggs.

Consitutional Intent-Meaning: Going by original intent, this ought to be a Unitarian or Deist nation.

On the Establishment clause(s). A very nice discussion.

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Museum Visit

As I mentioned in the entry below, yesterday I stopped at the Museum of Idaho. I figured I probably wouldn't get very many opportunities to see actual Dead Sea Scroll fragments (plus, I'd been to Hell's Half Acre two weeks in a row, and it was even colder yesterday). The museum is in Idaho Falls. Easiest way to get there from out of town is to get off at the Broadway exit and go towards the main part of town. Eventually, Broadway crosses some railroad tracks and the museum is just barely past them.

For the moment, the majority of the museum's display space is devoted to this "Ink and Blood" presentation. The lights are on low, to protect fragile documents. The first room held some old cuneiform tablets, a very old leather parchment (close to two feet by four), a Gutenberg press (I didn't stay long enough to see the demo, though I saw printed pages hung up around it) and a few other documents. The next room had some fragments of parchments older than the Dead Sea Scrolls (and ironically, larger than the DSS fragments later on), as well as some old bibles.

The actual DSS fragments were upstairs, locked away in odd containers. Most of the other documents were in glass frames. These were deep down in their boxes. A magnifying lens was either the viewing window or directly below the viewing window. I pushed a button, and the light came on, so that I could see the little scrap of paper inside. These were tiny, and I couldn't make out any of the actual writing on them. The whole scrap looked very dark, even with the light on. The older fragments in their glass frames downstair were more impressive, appearance-wise.

In each room of the display, there was an excerpt from the DVD "Ink and Blood" playing, giving information about the documents and artifacts in each room. What I saw of it was fairly well done, enough so that I actually considered purchasing the DVD in the gift shop. But I didn't. I bought a guidebook to Desert Flowers, a condensed version of the Lewis and Clark journals, and an Idaho atlas instead.

There were a few sections not taken up with the DSS display, but most of these were fairly typical of Idaho museums: some old machinery, some taxidermic animals, some Indian artifacts. The unique features were (1) a tribute to INL: "Hey, kids! Nuclear energy is your friend!" Okay, it wasn't quite that asinine, but I was bored the instant I walked in. The display hadn't been updated since the '70's or '80's; and (2) a hallway lined with old-time shops/stores/sights. That was cool. The general store looked like it was just closed for the day and might open again at any time. The dressmaker shop...would have been better if they hadn't put a very fake mannequin in it to be the dressmaker, next to a nearly identical mannequin intended as a dressmaker's dummy. But that whole area was fun. The sounds playing on the speakers were rather obviously canned (the exact same horse whinny five times in a row?), but at least they didn't put any fake (or taxidermic) horses in their stable area.

I didn't take any pictures at all while there. Cameras weren't allowed, period, in the DSS display sections. The other sections seemed to allow them (though an old US flag had a warning not to use a flash on it), but I didn't see too much I wanted a picture of. But the official web-site, www.inkandblood.com has some pictures up.

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03 March 2007

Unfortunate Ad Campaigns

There's been a sign up all winter at the local Grease Monkey. "Cold Weather is here. Stop in now." It seems odd that they would need to stock up on cold weather when it's in plentiful abundance in the outside world, don't you think? It sure reads like they're saying we should all stop in and get our cold weather there! ;^)

Another sign is part of an Albertson's ad campaign. I don't know how long it's been going on, but they have the slogan up on the doors into their store: "Three's a crowd. Get in, get out!" I just stared at it the first time I saw it. It made no sense whatsoever. The only possible meaning I came up with was "Get your groceries fast 'cause we don't want you here." Then I saw the full ad, further inside the store. It was referring to a policy where they would open up another register if there were more than three people waiting in line. Their shortened version does not convey this idea unless you've seen the full ad.

A more amusing one is from the History Channel. "The Dark Ages, starting March 9th."

Then there's the Pine Ridge Mall slogan: "What brings YOU here?" Well, my feet brought me from the car to the door, the car brought me from my house... Some people take the bus or ride their bikes...

At least the Museum of Idaho's current tagline bears some resemblance to its featured Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit: "Ink and Blood." (Also a DVD! A 72 page pamphlet! A coffee cup! A poster!) It was pretty cool to see some actual fragments from the scrolls. They also had a bunch of antique bibles on display. Some of the illuminated ones are gorgeous. Interestingly, each display case had a long tray of what looked like salt (white and crystalline), as well as a temperature/humidity gauge. I suppose the crystals absorb humidity, or something similar. The gauges I saw ranged from 47-49% humidity, and all were a uniform 68° F. But there was a rather tasteless, tacky, and disturbing item on sale in the gift shop: replicas of crucifixion nails. *sighs*

ADDENDUM: The official site has a thumbnail list of the artifacts on display.

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01 March 2007

Worth Reading

A fascinating article (actually a transcription of a speech) that everyone should read. As the daughter of a schizophrenic, I found the section discussing that disorder particularly interesting. But it mentions others as well. Some excerpts:

"What is schizotypal? It's a more subtle version of schizophrenia. This is not somebody who's completely socially crippled; they're just solitary, detached: these are the lighthouse keepers, the projectionists in the movie theaters. These are not people who are thought-disordered to the point of being completely nonfunctional; these are people who just believe in kinda strange stuff. They are into their Star Trek conventions. They're into their astrology, they're into their telepathy and their paranormal beliefs, they're into--and you can see now where I'm heading [laughter]--very, very literal, concrete interpretations of religious events."

"The more important reason why people shouldn't be afraid is, we're never going to inadvertently go and explain everything. We may learn everything about something, and we may learn something about everything, but we're never going to learn everything about everything." [The attitude of a true scientist; there's always something left to discover]

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