30 June 2007


Grandad's old wallet
money held neatly inside
one last birthday gift

but money can't bring them back
so what use, really, is it?

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29 June 2007

Land of the Dragon

The book I've been reading most consistently whilst keeping an eye on the kittens is Land of the Dragon. It's one of Barnes & Noble's world myth series. Quite enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the snippets of Chinese history included in with the myths, and the ways that the myths changed as the situation in China changed, or depending on the region in China.

Basically, the book starts with the most ancient myths and oldest known history from China, and then gradually moves forward in time, until it gets to the modern Communist era (where 'inappropriate' myths were censored and/or modified). I enjoyed all of the tales, but because of the book's broad scope, it felt like a lot was left out. On the other hand, it cost me only $10. A book thick enough to do the subject matter justice would probably cost a bit more. :^) Oh, another plus is that the book is full of illustrations, mostly from classical Chinese art.

Since each story is different, I'll just summarize one of the more interesting ones. According to Chinese myth, there were originally ten suns. They took turns lighting the world each day. One day, all ten decided to rise, each an hour after the other. As you can imagine, this caused extreme heat and drought and would have destroyed the world but for an archer, Yi. Yi shot down all but one of the suns with his bow, saving the world from doom. I like the story, but my first thought was, "He got an arrow to go 93 million miles before the day was over?" :^)

At any rate, I'd recommend this as an intro to Chinese mythology and history. Mild caution: in a few places where I was already familiar with the tales, I got the feeling that they 'oversummarized' to the point of being misleading. It's equally possible that they just chose a different variant of the tale than the one I knew, but most of the time they mentioned the existence of other variants. For a more complete look at tales from a single period, I'd recommend the Lieh-Tzu.

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28 June 2007

Fish Good... Kittens Hungry?

The fish soaked in salt-water overnight (why? 'cause that's how I grew up cooking 'em; that's why), and tonight I fried them. I've got one leftover for a later meal. The rest were quite, quite tasty. I even fried up the minnow, though I didn't taste much beyond the frying oil and the coating. I think it was probably a perch minnow. Anyway, I'm going to see if the kittens and Dovi want the bits of skin that are left. Oh, I don't think I mentioned that the kittens are eating solid cat food now. This despite what I read on the web: i.e. that their teeth aren't able to handle solid cat food until they are about 8 weeks old. They're almost 5 weeks old now. :^) They've got kitten kibble down there, but they actually seem to prefer the adult catfood. *shrugs*

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27 June 2007


Ha! I went fishing today! I caught three bluegill and kept them. I put back two other fish whose species I was uncertain of...and now I'm irritated. I think they were perch. There are pictures here. *sighs* I like the taste of perch, and they're less bony than bluegill. Oh well. I'll know for next time. I almost had a trout, but it got off the line just as I pulled it out of the water. Other than that, I caught a bunch of minnows and let all go except the one that got hooked in the eye. It failed the water-test (put it in the water and loose your hands; if it livens up and swims away, fine; if not, keep it). I'm considering boiling it and offering it to Dovi and the kittens.

This is the first time I've been fishing in two years, I think. I never went last summer. The one time Dad was thinking about going, something went screwy: quite likely, he was sane enough to realize he shouldn't be driving on the highway. But I'm quite pleased with myself. Despite having no real idea what I was doing, I managed to catch two meals' worth of fish. (Four if I'd kept those perch *mutters*) Though I did discover that I have no casting skills whatsoever. I wound up fishing off the dock and gently tossing the line out to likely-looking spots. There was a good-sized school of fish there when I started. They gradually drifted elsewhere, though. Between that and the massive crowd of people who started hogging the dock around noon, I decided to call it quits.

Oh, this is the very first time I've ever cleaned fish. I've seen Dad do it tons of times, though, and it wasn't that hard to figure out. Slice off head. Remove innards. Not much else to say, unless you'd like gory details about putting worms on hooks... That reminds me. I should let the rest of them go.

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26 June 2007

Of dogs, kittens, and shoes

I'm aiming to get Buster a walk every other day, mostly. Saturday is likely to be a consistent miss, but I figure S/Tu/Th might be a decent schedule for the summer. I've found a few tricks for dealing with his tendency to pull at the leash. One is to drop into a very slow taiji walk. The harder he pulls, the slower it gets. Most of the time, that's sufficient to get him to stop. On the canal, I've also found that zigzagging helps. He pulls forward, I go diagonally. He starts trying to pull that way, I go opposite-diagonally.

Oh, today there was a large dead rodent on the canal. I'm guessing gopher; it was grey and slightly bigger than the kittens are now, with the huge gnawing teeth typical of rodents. The first time, Buster missed seeing it, much to my relief. He saw it on the way back, and mostly seemed puzzled by it. I gently tugged to get him to move along. There was also a snake, not in the water. What I saw seemed to be featureless gray, and somewhat flattened. Best guesses: a racer or a rubber boa. The racer looks more like what I remember, but the rubber boa is more likely to be found near a water source. *shrugs*

The kittens are much, much larger now. Longer than my hand. Howler is the smallest; I suppose she's the runt of the litter. All but Howler can now jump up the stairs instead of clawing their way up the carpet. I put the smaller litterbox down where they could reach it the morning Dovi wound up locked in the garage. They seem to have understood its purpose almost immediately, which saves Dovi a bit of work cleaning up after them. Adds work for me, but at least I don't have to eat the stuff. The kittens can also climb the last step to the outside, so I've been letting them outside to explore and wander and play. I generally sit out and read, and help Dovi keep an eye on them. No incidents thusfar.

And I decided that my tennis shoes needed replacing. They were bought on clearance last summer for about $20. I used them hard in hiking, especially out at Hell's Half Acre, and, well, they're starting to fall apart. Incidentally, I suspect they were intended as running shoes; I bought them because they had a more flexible sole than most. Anyway, I decided that I probably ought to get actual hiking shoes this time, and found a decent pair at Famous Footwear. A bit pricey, but for leather, waterproof, and comfortable, that's okay. They're also very lightweight.

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24 June 2007

Hide the Children!

This result surprised me:
Online Dating

The reason surprised me more:

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

* dead (16x)
* kill (7x)
* death (6x)
* hell (4x)
* shoot (2x)
* hurt (1x)

Oh, wait! We can now up the count on all of those words by 1! See, now I'm tempted just to list a random string of vaguely violent terms to see if there's any rating worse than NC-17. Knife. Dagger. Sword. Stab. Bleed. Blood. Hades. Slice. Pain. Die. Dying. Destroy. Entrails. Guts. Decimate. Smash. Burn. Sear. Seriously, though, why in Avalokitesvara's name do these terms merit an NC-17 rating? (via Pharyngula, Respectful Insolence and Pooflinger's Anonymous)

UPDATE: Only "stab" and "knife" showed up in a re-rate. Apparently dying is okay, so long as there's no death involved. And blood is okay so long as you don't shoot or stab anyone for it. Entrails and guts are fine, so long as they're not from something dead. Also, it's just peachy to smash and burn. Very bizarre.

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Dastardly Deviltry

With any luck, I have now convinced my mom not to send me any more of those "keep God in the pledge" garbage forwards. Just in case, though, I came across a beautiful, beautiful idea: A win-win compromise. My favorite part is that the only way for someone to object is to admit that there's a specific religious motivation behind the addition, hence admitting that it is a violation of the first amendment. And, no, the original Pledge of Allegiance did not contain any reference to God.

Concluding paragraph: "Actually, no permission from a school or government is needed to personally customize the Pledge. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. Numerous jurists and politicians have said that students do not leave their human rights at the schoolhouse door. So if students want to substitute their own preferred term for "God" they have every right to do so. Of course, they might find that their guaranteed rights are not granted willingly. They might have to initiate a lawsuit to enforce their freedom of speech. However, they would have the weight of the Constitution behind them."

So, if I get another one of those forwards from her, I'm going to send her that link, with the warning that any future forwards of that nature will prompt me to forward the contents of the link to everyone in the address list. *smiles beatifically* Personally, I would probably just pick random deities—the more syllables the better—just to annoy people, but that's me. I've got a whole book chock-full of gods and goddesses from the all over the world. Might as well put it to good use. ;^)

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*sighs* There's a new Anita Blake book out. I saw it at Fred Meyer, read the jacket, and, eventually, looked up reviews online. Sounds like there's been a bit of improvement, at least, but I'm a bit fed up with Laurell K. Hamilton at the moment. I'll wait for it to come down in price. Right now there are used copies on Amazon for $12. When there are some at, say, $5 or $1, I might be interested.

As I've mentioned before, the books were very, very good up through Obsidian Butterfly. Then LKH started a new series. I think this was a bad move. After the new series started, LKH found an excuse to make Anita more like the main character in the other series (might have been a subconscious effort to converge the two; might have been intentional). The other series also split her attention, so that she had separate bits of researching to do. Since the Anita-verse was well-established, it was probably inevitable that some things there would fall through the cracks.

The only thing that might have tempted me to pay full cover price for this latest one is the presence of Edward. However, one of the reviewers complained extensively about how he was basically there as a prop, not as a character, so there goes that. I'll wait. Oh, for anyone who's interested, the title of the book is Harlequin. Which always makes me think of a Harlan Ellison story that begins: "Harlequin!" said the tick-tock man.

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22 June 2007

Piratical Musings

I bought and rewatched Dead Man's Chest this week. I like it better now that I've seen At World's End. I can tell where things are going. Also, since I have an idea what's coming up, certain cryptic comments make a heckuva lot more sense. There are still some things that bug me, though. (If you haven't seen Dead Man's Chest yet, there are a few minor technical spoilers here. No major plot points, though.)

The biggest problem is the obvious attempts to one-up the first movie. "Let's make all the action BIGGER!" someone said, "And blow things up!" said someone else, "And have more going on all at once!" "And blow things up!" "And have BIGGER special effects!" "And blow things up!" etc.

My least favorite part of the movie is the sequence with the cannibals. It was so clearly a live-action cartoon. You can have comedy without descending to cartoonish antics. It would have been funnier if the vegetables had splattered all over Jack rather than lining up perfectly on his roasting stick, for instance. Also more believable. Plus there were several falls that I'm not convinced were survivable. (Calling all Mythbusters! ;^) Having seen the classic balcony fall tested, the bridge fall was...ridiculous. In real life, the cloth balconies would probably save your life, buy you'd have tons of broken bones. Wooden bridges? Even more broken bones, if you survived at all. But the thing that bugs me the most about the sequence is that it has no real function in the plot. Yes, it's the place where Will reunites with Jack and crew (and some of Barbossa's former crew), but that's the only plot function. A reunion does not require cannibals.

The rest of the movie I really like. My only complaint there is that they made everything, especially action sequences and special effects, a bit too over the top. Not "vegetable skewer" over the top, but just a bit past the "perfect" mark. Still, there's at least one other thing I would like to see tested: the rum/powder explosion towards the end. First off, what would an explosion of rum and black powder look like? Second, would a bullet from a period rifle have actually been enough to make it explode? With the powder, I'm leaning towards maybe. With the rum? I very much doubt it. A modern bullet fired into a gas tank is not enough to make it blow up, whatever the movies may have taught you. Movie-wise, the appearance of the explosion is forgivable; the bullet problem fixable (via flaming projectile).

So I stand by my original verdict. The third movie (At World's End) is better than the second, and the original is the best of them all. And, yes, I did rewatch the original as well. I was impressed with how well the sequels took elements from it and wove them into their plots. I also noticed that those were the elements that worked the best in the sequels. :^)

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Walkin' the Dog

I decided to take Buster for a walk today. It's been a while; largely, I think, because it's too much work to try and take him on the more scenic hikes. Too hard to juggle him, the terrain, and the camera. So I took him along the canal instead. It didn't occur to me until we were on the canal that this was the first time I'd walked on it since a rather bad day. And being there didn't bother me, so I'm taking this as a good sign. Anyway, I saw a batch of ducklings and their mother, twice (at least, at the same general location on the way out and back, so presumably the same batch), a water snake, some magpies, a few redwinged blackbirds and some swallows. Also, there's a ton of showy milkweed in bloom and some yellow flowers that I want to call buttercups, but I wouldn't guarantee that's what they were.

I found out that Buster can swim. It might have worked better if I'd had a chance to loose the leash before he jumped in, but then I would have had to get it back on him. *shrugs* We walked from Dad's house down to where the interstate crosses over the canal. Hmmm... usually I see pigeons roosting there, but I don't think I looked up. I was too busy trying not to be dragged into the water by Buster.

I might have gone clear down to Chubbuck Road except that I had forgotten to bring any water. So I headed back and stopped at Mom's house for some cold water. Buster was confused; he's never been to Mom's house before. I tied him up on her front porch while I went in, and he acted very scared when I came back out: shaking, trying to wedge into me. I've never seen a terrier as...easily unnerved as he is. Makes me wonder what he's crossed with. He brightened up a bit when Mom came to see him, once he figured out that he knew her, but still didn't want to be left alone on a "strange" porch. Just as well I wasn't planning on staying long.

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21 June 2007

Naming, Revisited

The black male now has a name. Jacques, as in Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Why? Because he's a bit clumsy and reminds me of the good inspector. Yes, all kittens are a bit clumsy at first, but this one... This morning, he managed to fall off the towel on my lap three times, and the third time he rolled off the side of the cardboard box where he was born. Beautiful. If he were human, I'd recommend he go into physical comedy.

So, black kittens: Howler (F), Zen Girl (F), Jacques (M); grey kittens: Pouncer (M), Shanghai (F). Pouncer's got a bit of a cold. Dovi seems tired, but she is feeding five kittens. The sooner I get them on other food, the better off they'll be.

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20 June 2007

Well that was...obvious

As Giles said when the first slayer was trying to kill them in their dreams. What was obvious? We-elll, Dovi went out about 20:00 last night. I was doing a bit of yard work and had the garage open. You can probably see what's coming next. I closed the garage door, and then spent the next 14 hours wondering what had happened to her. I was panicked, started reading up on kitten-care-by-human, picked up kitten formula, etc. Then I opened the garage with some insane idea of using a ladder to peer over a neighbor's fence to see if somehow she'd gotten stuck/hurt on the other side. I did say insane, okay? But then when I opened the garage, there she was. So I got her inside to the kittens, where she wolfed down some food, and the kittens chirped quite happily. Incidentally, goat's milk is considered to be much better for cats than cow's milk. Not sure why. But since I only use goat's milk, I lucked out, as I didn't read that bit of info until after attempting to feed the kittens. Also, they liked the eye-dropper I had on hand better than the baby bottle I picked up when I got the formula. But they now have a slight head-start on eating solid foods, as a few ventured to try the kitten-chow soaked in goat's milk.

And since I started with a quote, I'll close with another one. "Well, I won't be makin' that mistake again." (Captain Barbossa) So now I just have to wait for the adrenaline to wear off, and then I'll probably be completely nonfunctional for the rest of the day.

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19 June 2007


Finally! I made it out to hike this morning! I haven't done near as much as I'd been hoping to. The garden and the kittens are part of the reason. Also, the last two mornings I woke up and wished I hadn't. My best guess is allergies. I left my bedroom window closed last night for the first time in a while, and turned on an air purifier, and woke up feeling much better this morning. I still had a bit of a headache, but I didn't feel like it was a quarter past dead.

I meandered over to City Creek, largely because I thought I might be able to see the Howard Mountain fire from there. Based on the map, I thought I might have a decent view, but it looks like the fire was on the far side of Howard Mountain. There was some smoke visible when I first got up there:

But by the time I left, there was no smoke to be seen. Yesterday they reported that the fire had mostly been contained, so hopefully that means they've got it out now. It wasn't a big one, but it did come close to a few houses. I suspect that most of these criss-crossing vapor trails were from planes helping with the fire:

My mom and I saw one of the big water-droppers two nights ago. It had the biggest rudder I've ever seen on a plane. Tail-fin? Is that what they're called on planes? Eh, I like 'rudder' better.

So, the hike. Once I got out of my car, I looked at the trail left of the "main entrance," and decided to climb up it instead of going along the creek. Why? I don't know. It looked inviting. And at the top, I went left (away from the creek) because I didn't think I'd gone that way before. And, nope, I hadn't. There's a map here. So far as I can tell, I started at 'P', turned left at the first black bit, turned right at the red bit, and took the black scoopy bit back to the blue bit and back to the 'P'. At the time, I had no clue where the trail went, and figured that I'd just keep on it and find out. Looks like if I'd kept on the red bit, I would have made it up Kinport Peak, or even up to Wild Horse Mountain and from there to the Gibson-Jack parking lot. :^) (At which point, I would have hoped like hell that I had cell phone service so that I didn't have to walk back) Incidentally, if you want to find trails, this site has pretty good directions. It's emphasizing mountain biking, but a lot of these are hiking areas as well.

I only saw three other people, one dog, and a rabbit, as far as mammals go. As for plant life, the alfalfa and the sweet clover are going strong. Some of the lupines are past, but some are still blooming; same with the prickly pear. I found more of those presumed carnations:

Also some cherry trees (probably chokecherries) covered in galls:

Galls are usually caused by insects. They inject the plant with a chemical that causes the plant to grow structures that basically act as nurseries for the insect's young. At this site, I found out that those 'cones' I'd seen at the Fichter nature area were actually midge galls.

This concludes the hiking portion of this blog post. Since I keep forgetting to mention it, Don was out of the hospital on Saturday. He did warm-ups with us, then sat down and critiqued for the rest of class. He said that his leg muscles had atrophied from his two weeks in the hospital, but that he was feeling all right. He looked much better than I expected. He is on oxygen, but they hope to take him off of it in a month or two.

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18 June 2007

Two Drinks Under Par

This will not be a surprise to anyone who's read (and thought about) Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. The two authors may phrase the idea differently, but it's still there. People survive by maintaining (sometimes) useful delusions about the world that allow them to function. This probably explains the appeal of some of the more ridiculous religions.

One of my favorite examples from Terry Pratchett I used for my title. It describes Sam Vimes; he needs two drinks just to be sober and not see a lot of what's there. Another is Granny Weatherwax, able to see what's really there. There's also a lot of filtering, so the people don't go around staring in awe at all the wonders around them. This one may be helpful in allowing people to function, but I think it's also part of why so many people are miserable.

So, for my part, ponder this wonder: I stuck several quarter-inch round bits into the ground a month ago. Now they have magically metamorphosed into foot-high cornstalks! If you respond, "Yeah. That's what they do," then you're filtering out any actual thought process about the event.

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16 June 2007

Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd

I've just been going through imdb to see what actors in the Pirates movies have been up to. Guess who's all set to play Sweeney Todd in a movie version of the musical? *grins* Other notables: Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett. ('Ere you'll sample Mrs. Lovett's meat pies! Any time a treat pies! True, sir, true! You who eat pies, Mrs. Lovett's meat pies conjure up the treat pies used to do!); Alan Rickman (aka Nottingham from Prince of Thieves, among other roles) as Judge Turpin; Anthony Head (aka Giles from BtVS) as 'Ballad Ghost'. I don't recognize the rest of the names, but if they stick to the music, this could be very, very good. If they try to Hollywoodize it, it will be a massive disappointment.

I've got the recording with Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett. Excellent and highly recommended. If they pre-release a soundtrack for this one, I will likely preview it to decide if I want to see it.

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15 June 2007

Concerning the Naming of Kittens

Grey female - Shanghai
Grey male - Pouncer
Noisy black female - Howler (inherited the name from her now-calmer brother)
Quieter black female - Zen Girl aka Zen Kitty
Black male - ?

Not enough obvious personality to give the black male a (new) name yet. Based on their behaviors and builds, I suspect the grey kittens and the black kittens have different fathers. Yes, kittens in the same litter can have different fathers.

Completely unrelated: Any television program that starts with a brilliant plan to solve the series' problems will inevitably end in some manner completely unforeseen by those who made the brilliant plan. (Stargate) Whether the ending is favorable to the planners or not ultimately depends on how close to the end of the season it is.

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14 June 2007

Unintentional Dye Jobs

Yup. I forgot the cardinal rule of new clothing: Wash separately the first time. So I sorted through the affected clothes. Some were dark enough that it didn't show. Some I thought it actually improved the color. Some I didn't care about (pink underwear? so what?). A few I winced at, because I had liked them before the accidental dye-trap and now they looked hideous. However, I actually managed to save those items, rather to my surprise.

Most importantly, they hadn't had time to dry. I stuck them back in the washer, put a cup of bleach in the liquid bleach cup, a cup of detergent (Tide Free) in the tub, along with a good smattering of Borax. I checked after the first run. It had gotten more out than I'd honestly expected. So I repeated the process. This time, there were actual pure whites visible. I was shocked. So now I'm running them through a rinse cycle, to clean out all the extra soap I loaded them with. Assuming no more pink shows up at the end of that cycle, into the dryer they go. Not sure if it's relevant or not, but I had the washer set on "large" for the bleach-runs, even though it was a small load. That was accidental, but I suspect it may have helped dilute the dye.

What was the cause of all this bleeding, you might ask? :^) The purple silk outfit I picked up in Boise and wore to Kate's graduation. Next time it'll get washed completely separately...except for one white item inserted to see if the purple still bleeds out pink. However, it's nice to know I've found a solution should I do something silly like this again. The only worry is whether the bleach will leach out any of the original colors as well, but if it already looks hideous... *shrugs*

By the by, the worst looking one of the lot was a tie-dyed tanktop originally in pale yellows and blues, with some white. The best description I can give of the dye result (before bleaching) is... bloody, moldy scrambled eggs. Yech. After the two bleach-runs, it looks like its old self again.

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13 June 2007

Pictures of What I've been Up To

Pictures of some of the stuff I mentioned in the last post below the fold. I was going to put up some pictures of garden/yard stuff as well... but I decided what I had was enough.

This is the new table. If you look closely, you can see a crack in one of the curved legs...which is probably why I got such a good deal on it. If it becomes an issue, I can always fill it. Trying to glue it would likely cause it to crack somewhere else. Also visible: a blossom print from Target, a fan print from Shopko, the tray/basket from Aunt Bee and family, an Asian style light from Target (with glaringly obvious cord), a Peña cottage, part of the mirror I put up this fall, and a bit of curtain.

I suppose a pagan would call this an "altar." I don't really like the word. Shrine isn't much better. *checks thesaurus* Reliquary might be okay AM: I've decided I like tabula better. The Buddha candle holder actually came from Target, as did the teacups. I don't remember where the smaller Buddha came from, nor the Guan Yin at right, though she's sitting on an incense holder that came with incense I got at Yellowstone. The cloth is a Japanese handkerchief (hmmm... where have I been lately that might have had Japanese stuff... ;^) The rocks are also from the trip out to Portland. The one on the left has an Om "carved" into (actually, I suspect it's a cast, rather than a carved rock). The one at right was found at a Columbia River lookout point, and looks like it has finger impressions in it. The coaster at center came from Estes Park (and is useless as a coaster; it just sticks to the glasses). The mala came from the Nepal Tibet Import store in Fort Collins. Spencer carved the little yinyang for me, though I painted it. The stuff on the coaster that you can't really see includes a fluorite worry stone (glued back together at least twice; fracture line), a metal lady bug, and a bit of bark. And at the front corners are some Sari coasters from Pier 1 that actually work as coasters.

This is the newish light fixture in the yellow hallway. You can also see a cheap fan and some very nice butterflies that I found at the dollar store. I was looking for something to replace the autumn leaves from fall.

New "curtains" for the light-hole in my front door. Actually they're dish towels, hung up with curtain clips. And they will be replaced soon with something that actually matches *crosses fingers* the purple curtains around the rest of the room. Assuming the dye job turns out on a different set of dish towels. Though I might continue using these ones in the kitchen... The chime in the middle of the rod is from the Nepal Tibet Import Store.

And lastly we have my new porchlight. I think it came from Lowe's. It was one of their cheaper ones, and one of the very very few that I liked. The others that I liked were mostly out of my price range. The mid-price ones were mostly hideous, imo.

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12 June 2007

Renovation Update

Let's see... what have I gotten done lately... Lots, actually.

- finally replaced my front porch light. It had been nonfunctional for several years, from shortly after I had my siding put in. I had actually assumed that it worked but that the wires had come loose due to sloppy reinstallation by the siding guys, but when I went to remove it, the wires were connected. So I presume that there was a short in the light somewhere (possibly due to rough handling by the siding guys; possibly due to age). Anyway, it's rather nice to have a working porchlight again. Naturally I picked one with a vaguely Asian flair. I think I bought it last fall and never got it installed. One very nice feature: nothing to remove when I need to change the light bulb.

- finally repaired a damaged cabinet found on clearance at Pier 1 several years back. It would have been a lot easier if I'd realized what the problem was when I first started trying to fix it. I thought that a crossbar was sticking out too far and not allowing the door to close properly. To that end, I attacked the crossbar with a chisel ...blanking on the name... It's got a screwdriver handle and a sharp blade at the end...you can hit it with a hammer... if I think of the name, I'll add it in later. This was not the primary problem, though it may have been a contributing factor. The real problem was that the wood in the door had warped enough that the part with the latch was unable to connect to the other half of the latch and keep the door closed. That was easily fixed by moving the latch down to where the door was still flush. Then I had to figure out what to do with the crossbar that I'd attacked. Luckily, when the door is closed that damage is not visible, but I didn't want it looking horrible when I opened the door, either. So I finished attacking the crossbar, to get something close to the same width all the way across, and glued on some black felt. Not perfect, but it looks much better than it did.

- put a bamboo blind in the window in my office, to help block/absorb heat in the morning. They say that eastern windows are "safe", heat-wise. They're wrong. My house gets constant sunlight through its eastern windows all through the morning and it heats up the house horribly in the summer. The bamboo blinds catch a lot of the heat. The cotton curtains can be closed over them to catch even more. I've done the same thing to the western window in my meditation room, for the afternoon sun. Also I've planted a maple tree in a spot where, eventually, it will shade the western window.

- planted two rows of carrots (I might have mentioned this earlier; I'm too lazy to check at the moment). They're not up yet, but several of the herbs I'd given up on have started coming up. I've got a row of basil, for sure. I'm not entirely sure what the other two rows are, but it's clear they're relatives, as their seedlings are nearly identical. So maybe some of the other herbs will come up. That would be nice.

- moved some of my red corn plants, as enough came up that they wouldn't grow well unless I spaced them out. They all seem to have survived the move, much to my surprise. (red corn: the seeds came from some ornamental ears that I picked up two falls ago. No clue how they'll taste fresh)

- the kittens can purr now, and can do some climbing. I've only seen one get out of the box on her own so far. I've been taking them outside in the mornings most days.

- the more recent damaged Pier 1 purchase is in the corner of my meditation room, making it look a thousand times neater. All the stuff on the bench/cupboard went onto its shelves. The stuff on the floor also found a home. I've even got my little "fountain" set up now. I like listening to the sound of the water when its running...though I suspect its lights look rather odd to anyone glancing towards that window at night when it's on.

I think that might be everything. Then again, it might not.

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11 June 2007

Chinese Restaurant at the End of the World

Weird dream. I was on a date with a guy who looked like Owen from BtVS (the normal guy she tried dating in season 1). That wasn't his name. His name was something odd that I couldn't remember, and still can't. I think there was a 'k' and an 'n' in it. Anyway, when we got to the restaurant, he went to get us a table. Then I had to try and find him, which was difficult since I didn't know his name. I wandered through several ornately decorated rooms several times. There were huge chandeliers made something like the Chinese architectural lanterns that you see in restaurants, but the paper/filters were mostly red. There were curtains on every doorway. The seating was rather plain, consisting of wooden chairs and tables or of vinyl orange booths. I finally gave up looking for not-Owen and sat with some people I recognized.
No rhyme or reason, but I've gotten up again, and I wander through the restaurant and into a room through white swinging saloon doors into a mostly white room. The floor tiles are white. The tabletops are white, as is the old-fashioned drugstore countertop at my left. The stool cushions at the counter are white vinyl, as are the cushions on the more conventional chairs, but both have frames of shiny chrome. Anyway, there's not-Owen, sitting at one of the white tables, eating pancakes. I sort of try to explain/apologize, but the sight of the pancakes disgusts me.
As I leave the restaurant, I notice that the lines are even worse than when we got there. They're starting to get violent, too. Then I'm getting into a car at the front of the restaurant; my mom is driving. There are ten-foot-tall foo dogs guarding the front columns. She drives us around randomly for a while, and suddenly I'm in the back seat and Dad's in the front seat. Even in the dream, this sudden change confuses me. I come up with an explanation... something about not abandoning Dad to the chaos (not yet visible in the streets). Apparently we're trying to get out of town, to a safe spot.
I guess we didn't make it out of town, because next thing I remember, I'm investigating a sort of "cave": really a hollow between two rough, mortared basalt walls, There's enough of a hole in the frontmost wall that I can crawl through. I do so, and hide a half-full water bottle in there for later use. I hear it starting to rain, and immediately start trying to find something to catch the water; we'll need it later. Before I can crawl out and try and gather water, though, I hear a commotion just across the way from my hollow. From the noises, I can tell that a bunch of people are fighting, and conclude that they've found a food source of some kind. I peek out and see that they're fighting over an itty bitty sparrow.
*alarm clock goes off*

Analysis: Uh, mostly this seems to be a random assemblage. The restaurant is every Chinese restaurant I've ever been in rolled together and scaled up by a factor of ten or twenty, except for the little drugstore room. The next sequence is essentially the typical "try to escape the city but roads are too crowded" bit seen in most disaster movies. I suspect the last sequence was largely inspired by watching too much Survivor Man on the Discovery Channel. They put a guy in an extreme environment with limited supplies, and he gets to survive (and lug camera equipment) for 4-10 days, depending on the show (favorite lines: "Mmmmm, grasshopper," "Mmmmm, rat."). The basalt hollow might have been a reworking of the Mythbuster's frontier prison, though.

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09 June 2007


Today Kate, of Blots of Ink, aka Fibonacci's sister, graduated high school. I went down to Twin Falls for the celebration. Met lots of their family and extended family. Also had a chance to talk GF-shop with Aunt Bee. :^) But it's been a long day. I went to IF this morning, for an informal, students-only taiji class, then drove from there to Twin. Good news, though. They may release Don* on Monday. Apparently he's on oxygen (there were oxygen tanks piled in the dojo), which makes me wonder if they've actually gotten him to quit smoking. This would be quite a shock. One of his favorite anecdotes to relate is about a doctor who told him that he'd live 5 years longer if he quit smoking. "Ugh. Five more years of wanting a cigarette?" He's also said something about them prying the cigarettes out of his cold, dead hands. However, oxygen tanks and lit cigarettes don't mix very well. *shrugs*

I'd write more, but I'm exhausted. Night. And congrats again to Kate.

*Found out this morning that the bacterial pneumonia was the kind resistant to antibiotics. Lovely. Apparently it's been going around I-Tech (where Don teaches), and at least one student has died from it.

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08 June 2007

At World's End

YAY! Pirates III! YAY! (Yes. I liked it, if that isn't already obvious)

Anything spoilerish I'll put below the fold, but I'll try to keep them mild enough and vague enough to not be spoiling much. Overall verdict: Awesome movie. Better than the second one. Almost on par with the first one. I think. I need to watch the first one again. Incidentally, in the credits there was an "Inferno Supervisor" or some similar title. I distinctly remember the "Inferno" bit, but not the rest of the title. There was also an "Assistant Inferno Whatsis."

Okay. This movie. Free warning: I've just had chocolate on a nearly empty stomach, so I may not be very coherent. Right. Movie. I loved Jack's hallucinations(?) of himself. Imagine a ship entirely crewed by Jack Sparrow clones. Now imagine trying to run such a ship. And now I'm imagining trying to shoot such a shot... Very nicely done. Anyway.

No, that wasn't much of a spoiler. More a teaser, but then I thought, what if someone thinks it's a spoiler. I don't want to spoil the whole roiling boil, er, plot! Maybe I should give up typing right now... I'm making about as much sense as Jack. Cuttlefish!! My Peanut!! Ahem.

What else... I do have to agree with Greg Dean (see Real Life Comics) that the parachute was a bit much. If it had looked more makeshift, it could have worked, okay, but it looked like, well, a professional parachute. Thankfully, they did not try to "top" the sword duel in a barrel as far as one-on-one-on-one fighting goes. Nope. Hurricane. Peter Pan. 'Nuff said.

Also, a bit of movie intuition on my part. Any movie that starts with a big humongous battle sequence will invariably end with a sequence depending on (generally) two characters. At any rate, a very small group within the whole. My counting was slightly off, but the basic idea was correct. And while they left it open for a sequel, there was no requirement for one this time; rather like the way the first movie ended.

This last bit is probably the closest to a real spoiler you'll get here, so I will white it out (highlight if you wish to read it): Based on the level of betrayal and double-cross, once every ten years may be all those two characters can handle.

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07 June 2007

Maple Tree in the Garden

I've just started sorting through my Portland trip pictures, but this one is a clear standout. It's from the Japanese garden:

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06 June 2007

Random Observations

- kittens can hiccup; it's rather bizarre

- every time I've watered my yard this spring, there's been rain soon after. Right now we're actually getting drenched, drenched, drenched, drenched, drenched. It's very bizarre for Pocatello.

- magnesium helps the pain/stiffness in my ankle; calcium makes it worse (Cal-Mag has too much calcium and leans toward the 'worse' side)

- I planted two rows of carrots and two new rows of peas on Monday. The peas are in a shadier, cooler spot. Though today the whole garden's been shady and cool for the whole day.

- there seems to be a lawn chair buried in my office... that I don't really remember buying. Weird. I vaguely remember sitting in it, but not buying or using it.

- another Dahlia came up while I was gone; I think I planted four. Two are up and growing like mad. This one was either buried too deep or was sleeping for a while.

- I've now had two cats who seem to think their humans ought to be able to change the weather. Dovienya and Ji'e'toh both glare and grumble when the weather turns nasty.

- clearance items can be quite lovely ($200 table that I loved: on clearance for $50) The table has lots of storage, too. Two undershelves and a drawer.

- this list is getting long

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Book for Seekers

I've been working on reading Beyond the House of the False Lama: Travels with Monks, Nomads, and Outlaws for the past couple of weeks. I just finished it. It might best be described as a philosophical travelogue. The author is George Crane, and, depending on your luck and the random number generator, you might have noticed some quotes from him at left.

It is a book about seeking and traveling and following, and how the journey never really ends. If you want a book about getting somewhere, you won't enjoy it. That's not the point. The journey in itself is the point. And what a strange journey it is. Crane basically sets himself adrift from everything, quite literally in the instance where he decides to accompany a friend on a home-built boat across the ocean. Just as hurricane season is beginning. That doesn't go so well, and he spends a good chunk of time adrift in Paris next. Finally he decides to go to Mongolia to complete his teacher's quest for the House of the False Lama. Whether he found that or not is debatable, but he does seem to find something out in the desert, something he was missing.

As I said, if you want a book that arrives at a destination, don't read this one. If you want to accompany a Jewish expatriate on his oft-bizarre search for Shambhala and, perhaps, himself, then I would recommend it. I would mention one thing that struck me about myself while reading it. George Crane seems happiest when he is adrift on the winds, with literally only the stuff he is carrying with him to his name. I enjoy being adrift, but part of my enjoyment comes from knowing I have a place to return to. An anchor somewhere, somewhen. Then again, maybe the desert is his anchor.

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04 June 2007

New Detour

Down in my detours section, there's a (somewhat) new link: Color in the Garden. It's a semi-blog of pictures of the Japanese garden. Much of it is stuff that has just come into bloom, but some are scenery shots. It's the next best thing to going there. One of the best series of shots is here. It's got shots of a rare Portland snowfall, among others. I was talking to one of the clerks in Portland...I can't remember at which store now... She said she used to live near the gardens, and one year when it snowed she walked over, half-expecting it to be closed. Instead, the doors were wide open and they weren't charging admission! Free for all. :^)

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Worth Reading

Rob Knopp has an excellent post on his reaction to the so-called "Creation Museum."

Go below the fold for a taste of it:

"First, there's the fact that these jokers loudly proclaim themselves as Christians, and not only that, but as somehow the "true" Christians. It seems that they've defined the purest Christians as the most ignorant ones, the ones who believe that thinking critically is a sin, the ones who believe that the Bible must be interpreted literally even where it makes no sense because, even though they claim that we are somehow "different" from the animals because we can cogitate, we're not really supposed to cogitate."

The second comment (by someone calling himself Zedd) is also right on the money: "Terry Goodkind said in his novel Wizard's First Rule "People will believe any lie as long as they want it to be true or are afraid that it might be." People who buy into crap like the Creation Museum have a very fragile faith, like a house of cards, founded on biblical inerrancy. If you can convince them of one single error in the bible then their whole faith comes crashing down. So, to avoid that they shout louder and listen not at all."

I've lost count of the number of deconversion stories I've read in various places that went something like, "They told me (X) had to be true, and if (X) wasn't true, then (religionname) wasn't true, either. Well, (X) isn't true, and (religionname) is garbage!" And now I can't resist adding a song I remember from Sunday school:
"Oh the Foolish Man built his house upon the sand,
oh the foolish man built his house upon the sand,
oh the the foolish man built his house upon the sand
and the rains came a'tumblin' down.

Oh the rains came down and the floods came up,
Yes the rains came down and the floods came up,
Oh the rains came down and the floods came up,
and the house on the sand went smoooosh."

Anyone intelligent enough to see through the morass of lies presented as science is going to reject the religion outright rather than try to find a compromise position. Tell people lies long enough and, when they finally notice, they burn every bridge. "What else have they been lying about? Can I believe any of the stuff they've told me?"

In most systems of "magick," practitioners are discouraged from lying because this weakens the power of their words. I think this idea has a lot of validity in real life. Not for supposed magic spells, but just for dealing with people in general. It's headology. Tell too many lies, and no one will believe anything you say. Tell the plain truth and your words will carry much more weight. And, please, don't lie about stuff that can actually be tested unless you want to convince people that you're a complete idiot.

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No major mega-drives today, no major mega-traffic either. This is good. As far as the drive yesterday, I drove from the hotel to Pendleton, Mom drove to Ontario, I drove to Jerome, Mom drove to a rest area near Massacre Rocks, and I drove the rest of the way home. That drive is much easier when you've got someone to trade off with. It was about 17:00 local time when we got to Boise, and I was half-expecting my mom to want to stop, but she didn't. She explained that she wanted to be able to sleep in one day before going back to work on Tuesday. For her, sleeping in means 10:00 am or 11:00 am. For me, sleeping in means 7:00 am or 8:00 am. *shrugs*

First thing I did after getting home last night was to check on Dovienya and the kittens. They seemed to be okay. The kittens were a bit fussy about being handled, after a week of being left with their mom, but they're slowly adjusting. Incidentally, I seem to have miscounted males and females. There are 3 females and 2 males. Either I counted the black male twice several times, or one of the black females was a bit swollen in, er... you figure it out. Anyway, the black male I'm calling Howler. He's really noisy. The grey female has a somewhat exotic look to her. I'm thinking something like Malta or Shanghai would be a good name for her. And, no, I don't plan to keep them all, but they might as well have names as long as they're in my care.

I took Dovi and the kittens outside while I hoed the garden this morning. Mostly of elm trees. *sighs* The corn has nearly all come up. Two of the pumpkins are up (planted right in among the corn as I once heard the pilgrims did). Two is plenty. The peas mostly need to be replanted, and still may not do well unless it cools down significantly. Peas don't like hot hot weather. Some of the nasturtium are up, enough that I'm not going to replant. The herbs...mostly don't seem to have done anything. I think I'll try again in a semi-box with fresh soil. The peppers all survived, as did the tomato and the zucchini.

I brought the kitties back inside after I was done with the hoeing and ate breakfast, then went to check on Dovi and she was meowing plaintively, asking for something. I wasn't sure what, but I tried opening the back door and following her out. That wasn't quite it. I took a guess and picked up the kittens in their box and brought it back out. That stopped the meowing/begging. Apparently she liked it out there. I'll leave them out as long as the shade holds. It's still going to be too hot in the afternoon. I'll probably start working on a solution for that soon. It's got to be thick enough to absorb the sun without transferring the heat into the sheltered part.

And...Don. There was no taiji class the Saturday before I left. I got a call from Don's wife Jill around 6:15 am, explaining that he had come down with a case of the flu and wasn't feeling well. Mid-week, I got an e-mail from Mark indicating that there probably wouldn't be class on the following Saturday either, as Don was now in the hospital and showed every indication of staying there for quite a while. Apparently they've taken him off of all non-essential medications, including his arthritis medicine, have him doped up on morphine, and are running every test they can think of to figure out what's going on. They do know he has bacterial pneumonia, but apparently that's not the only problem. They're apparently testing him for lung cancer, most likely because they know he's a smoker. He has consistently annoyed his doctor by having the lung capacity of an athlete despite smoking for most of his life. He credits this to practice of the breathing exercises. So... And so it goes.

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03 June 2007


12 hours after departing Portland, we're back in Pocatello. Tired. Dovi's okay. Don isn't. Night.

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02 June 2007

Last Day

In which our heroes brave charted, previously explored waters in search of GF coffeecake; follow strangely convoluted directions to a bright red storehouse of wonder; find plates where they sought shoes; explore strange mirror image box-stores; feel the whole mall rock from the pressure of construction; find elephants on curtains.

There's a gluten-free bakery next to Corbett Fish House that I wandered over to this morning while Mom was still getting ready. I got a piece of banana-bread-coffeecake. Pretty good. Needed more cinnamon streusel on top, imo, but I'm rather fond of cinnamon streusel. Technically, it's a coffee house, not a bakery, but they do bake gluten free items. I suspect that Corbett's gets at least some of their GF dessert offerings from over there. Motto of the coffee house: "Fighting Corporate Coffee."

After coming back to collect Mom, we found the Bob's Red Mill store. Awesome. Huge GF section. I got a case of white bean flour and a case of Kasha. I can find Kasha in Pocatello, but its cheaper here. White bean flour I was going to have to order. Due to Bette Hagman's books, garfava flour is easy to find and regularly stocked. It just tastes...blech. White bean flour is much less offensive and I've used it directly as a replacement for garfava without problems. Oh, I also found what appeared to be a gluten-free version of cheerio's to try.

Then we went looking for Mom's shoe store, The Shoe Mill. It was located in a large shopping complex with a Target, a World Market, and other, more forgettable places. The World Market was pretty cool. Think...department store that actually has interesting items. Lots of imports, for instance. The Target was only interesting in that it seemed to be a diagonal reflection of the one in IF. Mom needed some mundane items, and we figured we might as well go to Target since we were right by it.

Across the street was a mall. Probably the Clackamas Mall, or some similar name. The Barnes & Noble and Gifts from Afar exhausted my interest there. Mom found a two-story Macy's and found a lot of clothing and stuff she liked. I got bored and went back to the car to charge my phone, and to plot a route back to the hotel, and read one of the books I bought. I plotted an easier route than the one MapQuest gave us to GET there, by sticking to major streets.

We ate at the Thai Mango again. I think I like the sweet black rice better than the sweet white rice, oddly enough. So this Christmas I may use black rice for the desserts.

Mom and I were both sick of downtown Portland, so we missed the big Saturday Market. Maybe Kate and Aunt Bee will write about it. ;^) Tomorrow we're heading back. I think we're both hoping to make the whole drive tomorrow. Whether Mom's up to that or not is another story.

Incidentally, that little buckwheat pillow I got at the Global Village has improved my neck considerably. I think it is going to become my regular travel pillow.

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01 June 2007


We made it to Scappoose with only one minor incident. While going over a bridge, I was supposed to get us onto I5...and forgot. However, this turned out to be a fortuitous miss, as there was a big lineup at that entry, and not at the one I circled around to find.

Pam and Angus are doing well, mostly. Pam's got something funky going on with her ribs. Conventional doctors have said "Nothing we can do. Here, take (drugX) for the pain/swelling/inflammation." Her mom had something similar a few years back that turned out to be a twisted rib (or something similar), and a chiropractor was able to correct it. Pam's hoping hers will respond to chiropractic as well.

All we had time for in Newport was the Aquarium. Beautiful, beautiful place. Not as nice as the Japanese gardens, but not much is. There's one place where the walkways are basically tunnels through the aquarium, so you have fish swimming above, below, and all around you. Their theme this year seems to be crabs. There's also a "petting zoo," full of things that are (a) safe to touch and (b) not easily damaged by being touched. Largely anemones, starfish, cucumbers, and bivalves (clams). I'm not sure if it was the cold water or the anemone, but after gently running a finger over the tentacles of an anemone, that finger felt somewhat tingly and numb. It could just as easily have been the water, though. VERY cold. Pumped directly in from the ocean, the guides said.

Tomorrow? *shrugs* We had been thinking about a boat trip on the Columbia, but Mom wants to sleep in, and doesn't think that we'll have time to make it to a shoe store that interests her if we do the boat trip. So far the plan is "Bob's Red Mill," which is where a lot of my GF baking supplies come from, and then the Shoe Mill (SAS shoes for my mom). There seems to be a big shopping complex by the Shoe Mill, so more may develop.

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