Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fun at the library

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30 seconds. It's good.

Odds and Ends

It's Thursday, my favorite day of the week.
I've always felt best on Thursday, the rhythm of the week seems to hit an equilibrium by Thursday. That equilibrium always gets messed up by the weekend change of pace. Monday comes and it is back to getting things back on track, but by Thursday the big push is over and I feel like I am just comfortable working along.

Last night Bernie got a dose of "Trip Proud", (can't sleep because you are thinking about the trip you are going to be taking) and he was up at 3 am reading travel guides.
We had discussed trying to get our internal clocks in sync with our travel plans, but that seemed a little more radical than we were willing to commit to.

Apparently some part of our being thought it was a great idea, and so we both were wide awake at 3.

Hart is still overly active at night, and waking us up. He wants to go, then yells to come in. Walks all over us purring and bunting our faces with his head.

And look, there he is, still looking bright eyed in the early morning light.

I gave up trying to sleep, and got up early and did my morning stroll outside on the wet lawn to get the newspaper.

The Chronicle did a great job of giving me thinking material.

The violinist Joshua Bell is playing here in Houston and there was an article about how the Washington Post had posed a question:

"In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?"

Bell played his "Strat" violin at a Washington DC subway station during commute time.
No one stopped to listen.

Guess that answers that question.

It also affirms what I had always suspected: Most people only recognize "great" or "junk" if someone else tells them that whatever it is (food, books, movies etc.) is great or junk.
As Bernie once said: "It is a lot of work to have an opinion."

Next up was an article about the on-line podcasts of the parody newspaper "The Onion."
If you have never read a paper version of "The Onion", well, I am sorry.
Ever so often I read people getting all upset about some way over the top article, taking it seriously, and when I check back, often the original article was from The Onion.
If only people would take the Bible as seriously as they take random outrageous quotes that they receive via email forwards!
*Warning: The Onion on-line has highly offensive language, and headlines that are shocking. Best to enjoy the Chronicles summary of The Onions new podcasts, and leave it at that.

A non-linkable article on the Chronicle's editorial page managed to sum up why the Queen's visit was such a pleasure for us Yanks. David Brooks had some priceless lines about the Garden Party at the White House:

"I got to enjoy many of the features I love about Britain: repressed emotions, overarticulate conversationalists and crustless sandwiches."

"Americans talk of "happiness" but Brits talk, less transcendentally, of "enjoyment."

Our dear Ken Hoffman, a columnist devoted to sports, dogs needing adoption and food (he broke the story about deep fried frozen Coca Cola), wrote today about his yearly dash through Europe, eating what the locals do. Now I want to know what "pan bagnat" and "socca" taste like.

I just don't want to have to travel to Nice, France to find out.

Or maybe I do. But I won't, at least not right now.

An article on Mother's Day gifts included a picture of MY camera, which now comes in Pink and Light Aqua.
Now granted that while silver is always in good taste, had the aqua version had been available last year, I would have snapped it up in a minute.

I'd still like to encrust my camera with diamonds though.
"Diamonds" in the sense that my hat buddy Bonita uses the word: Anything that looks like a diamond is referred to as "diamond or diamonds." If the diamond happens to be a genuine diamond, then you refer to it as a "Real Diamond."
She is great fun to be with, and she is absolutely right. It is more fun to call all sparkly clear stones diamonds, and let everyone who cares about the distinction guess what is the true value of the diamond in question.

Here in Humble, Texas (also known as Kingwood, Texas and Houston, Texas, because all those names are correct. I wasn't born here, so I just go with the flow, no questions asked) we have a United States Representative name Ted Poe (R-Humble) who stood up on the House floor and stated to Congress the following:

"Congress needs to quit talking about supporting the troops and put money where our mouth seems to be. (mouth seems to be??? huh????) Nathan Bedford Forrest, successful Confederate general said it best about winning an victory and the means to do so. He said 'Get there firstest with the mostest.'"

I appreciate what he is trying to say, but...

1. The actual Nathan Bedford Forrest quote was "Well, I got there first with the most men."
2. Forrest fought FOR slavery, so maybe we should just not quote him as a "winning" general
3. Forest was called a guerilla leader, akin to a terrorist in modern times
4. After the Civil War was over, Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

For heaven sake. What a dope. Feel free to search for our now famous representative from humble little Humble, whose comments are making blogdom go ballistic. You can read the whole story here.
Note the story was written up by a New York newspaper.
I guess our local news reporters didn't feel like jumping all over one of our local boys.

And remember, I'm from San Diego, California, living in KINGWOOD, Texas, OK?

Texas is busy in other ways too. On the paper's front page was an article about a request to dig up one of the two possible graves of Billy the Kid.
Yup, one of two.
Both people now dead in their graves said while they were alive that they were not shot by Pat Garrett, and were actually Billy the Kid.
Historians have ample proof that both graves are of people who couldn't possibly have been Billy the Kid, but hey, the tourism revenues are terrific, generated by claiming that the wackos who SAID they were Billy the Kid are buried in their town, so they don't want the bodies dug up for a DNA test to prove if they were or were not Billy.

My reaction:

That's the best of the paper.
Now for news that is really hard to stomach. I'm afraid the news took a really awful, and seriously not funny turn with the front page news that HPV has been found to cause cancer of the throat.
The quote below is horrific.
If you are a sensitive soul, you might want to skip reading.
Please remember this was on the FRONT page of our paper, any reader sensitivity be damned.

"(New England Journal of Medicine) study found that people who have had more than five oral-sex partners in their life time are 250 percent more likely to develop throat cancer than those who do not have oral sex."

Having read reports of how many early teens engage in oral sex as casually as a handshake at parties and at school, I suspect that the up and coming generation (who signed on to the disgusting former President Bill Clinton's "it's not sex" mantra) are going to have a really tragic future ahead of them.

Both men and women are being equally infected with the HPV which has caused throat and tongue cancer which are not easily treated.
Bill Clinton: I hold you accountable for a lot of this.
Magazines touting oral sex as "safe sex" for teens: I hold you accountable.
Parents who don't talk to their teens and explain the HPV problem because you think your kid won't do this: Explain it anyway. They might explain it to their friends who don't know, and who would "do" this.


I want to leave on a happy note.

If I think of one, I'll add it later.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Great article about QEII's Hats. Hillary, take note of last line.

We take our hat off to the queen
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Kim Crow
Plain Dealer Style Editor

God save the queen.
Or at least those fabulous hats.

Her Majesty, Elizabeth II of England, gave a lesson in fashion deportment during her six-day stateside jaunt, which included stops in Jamestown, Va.; the Kentucky Derby; and the White House itself.
She's perfected her personal style during a lifetime spent in the public eye. This is a look that hasn't varied much during the last 40 of her 81 years: demure, ladylike suits in a veritable 64-pack of Crayolas. Her overcoats always match her jacket-and-skirt combination; a brooch is often pinned above her left breast. Her shoes are prim, sensible pumps, generally in black or white. The queen also is a well-gloved woman, most likely single-handedly (double-handedly?) keeping British glove makers in business.
Her image has burned into our consciousness over generations. Trends may come and go, but the queen remains the same. Elizabeth has rarely been caught in an unscripted fashion moment -- the wind would never dare wreak havoc with her hemline, her knees are firmly locked together no matter if she's climbing out of a limousine or a horse-drawn carriage. It's as though she decided how a queen should dress just after she was crowned in 1952, and hasn't wavered a bit since -- her garb is always reassuringly appropriate, consistently proper and, well, more than a bit staid.
The queen's hair is often criticized for its dowdy side curls and swept-back bangs, and indeed, it's not far off from the 'do George Washington sports on our dollar bills. But for a woman who often wears a tiara, it's hard to deny that her style makes the perfect perch for a crown or a hat.
Ah, those hats. My goodness, I love those hats.
Members of the cyberworld's self-appointed fashion police have been rather merciless during the past week concerning the queen and her headgear. She not only wore a hat to the Kentucky Derby, as is tradition, but at nearly every stop along her way, allowing plenty of opportunities for mild ribbing.
To me, her ever-present chapeaux always have represented the single dollop of personal expression that she allows herself in her wardrobe. Her hats are no mere sun protection -- they are usually fancifully, fantastically ornamented, with feathers and pins and rosettes, bows and ribbons and pompoms, her brims tilted a rakish angle. The colors are vibrant, bringing to mind marzipan candy and Martha Stewart-decorated Easter eggs.
Unlike in America, hats still play a major role in British style, with women sporting them for weddings, funerals and other formal events. There are hat makers in Britain -- Philip Treacy springs to mind -- who enjoy the sort of adulation we reserve for celebrities here.
In such a wide and varied scene, plainer hats could certainly be made for Queen Elizabeth, yet she rarely misses a chance to sport a feather in her cap. In a life given over to duty and public appearances, they may be her only personal indulgence -- other than her too-handsome husband, Prince Philip, but that is a column for another time.
Simply put, her hats just make the queen more interesting, offering a glimmer of the woman behind the throne, behind the generations of tradition, protocol and values that are so well-embodied in her upright little figure.
In more practical circumstances, her hats and her smart, brightly hued ensembles make her easier to spot in a crowd, a kind consideration to her public. Imagine trying to catch a glimpse of Hillary Clinton, in her sensible black pantsuits and golden-blond highlights, in a crowded room on Capitol Hill.

Care to take a walk with me?

Bernie and I are trying to get in shape for an upcoming vacation which will involve quite a bit of walking.
Normally we walk every other day when he is in town, and I walk around the neighborhood when he is gone. For the next few days we are determined to walk an hour or more each day, and hopefully twice a day soon.
The last time we walked we had deer bounding by, eight different kinds of butterflies, three types of dragonflies, three kinds of snakes (sorry...they didn't bother us, we didn't bother them.)
Today I brought my camera along, so of course all the wildlife got camera shy.
So enjoy the pictures sans beasts, scary and otherwise!
The meadow.
At the end of the meadow the Association has built a wheelchair ramp.
This is a pretty new feature, I just discovered it about a month ago. I love walking above the marshy forest floor.
Palmetto trees rarely get much bigger than this. I think they look like a primeval forest, and dinosaurs should be munching nearby.
The tree tops.
The path continues down to the lake.
I think the jungle vines are interesting, but I enjoyed them more before I realized we had tree climbing snakes. Before I just watched the ground, now I also watch the vines!
The lake is pretty today.
More path
Cypress Knees. The cypress knees help the tree oxygenate, if I understand it correctly. They can also be used to gauge if a lake has gotten much deeper, as the first set of knees will be submerged and new knees will form to accommodate the new water level.
Don't they sort of look like far away islands? I love the interesting shapes they take.
Wild Iris are blooming along the path. There were yellow ones a few days ago deep in the woods off the path. I didn't venture over for a close up of those.
This one was right next to a wood bridge part of the trail.
I wish I knew more about the names of all these plants. Note to self: Get a guide book.
Just a vine twining up. They really twine tightly.
The little green plant growing in the decaying stump is almost a visual sermon. The way the light hit it, new life in the midst of broken places.
The path has benches regularly along the way. We imagine that mosquito guide books have ratings on these benches, suggesting that arriving just before sunset you can get Barbequed Humans that are just salty and delicious.
This is posted at the beginning of the trail. Someone had quite a sense of humor. Be sure to read the Camping part and the Hours part.
Back to civilization, about a quarter mile away. This is our subdivision.
Our next door neighbor's magnolia tree is blooming. It smells so lovely.
That's all for now...gotta go to work. It has been really hectic for us the last few days!