Saturday, March 14, 2009

Corned Beef on the Internet
Sometimes you just find a website that makes you shake your head. I'm sure the creators of the Internet worked long and hard in the advancement of technology so that we could have easy access to cats that look like Hitler or read about some unknown woman's menstrual cycle.

This is one of those head-shakers. It's photographs of sandwiches.

Why? That's the big question. Why did someone say "I really want to build a website made up of photos of sammiches." It's one of those dull vs. creative questions (my vote is dull) that just beggars belief.
Photo of the day: The Sign of Four

I spotted this random triangle painted onto a low concrete wall at Stanford a few weeks ago. I have no idea what it means. Is it guerilla graffiti or does it mark a sewer line? Is it a protest against something or support for something else? Art major or Stanford Facilities crew? For some reason the mystery is what makes it for me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More eavesdropping...
Overheard at the shelter
Man to girlfriend: Are you sure we need a cat? Can't we just get TiVo?


Overheard at the drugstore
Man to woman in the dental section: Do we get the blue stuff or the green stuff?
Woman: We get the clear stuff.
Man: Can we get the blue stuff instead?
Woman: No, but we can get the green stuff.


Overheard at the grocery store
Man to clerk: Where's your salad dressing?
Clerk: Aisle 9
Man: Thanks. Where's your salad?
Cats of the Week: Kitty and Clipper

In honor of Friday the 13th I'm going against the black cat jinx and showing you two of them. The first, Kitty, is a sweet 10-year old girl who is the perfect lap cat. When I take her into the Get Acquainted Room she never leaves my lap. She's a non-stop purr girl who is gentle, sweet, affectionate, and almost Zen. She also has this knack of looking at you with ultimate trust in her beautiful yellow eyes. She makes eye contact like no other cat there. She looks at you and you just melt because that look says "I know you will never hurt me but if you could scratch me a little more to the right I will be your slave." Kitty's ID# is A436773 and she would make a wonderful, amazing companion for anyone.

My second cat is a rerun CoTW. Clipper is a big teddy bear of a cat with a lazy kind of charm. He wants a lap all his own. He's a bit of a goofball, who loves to head butt and roll around. He's mellow, loving, and such a gentleman. Again, a truly wonderful companion animal who deserves a loving home. His ID # is A404955 and he can be yours this weekend. Really! All you have to do is go in, meet him, and I guarantee you'll fall in love.

Find out more at the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA website.
Photo of the day: Holy Cross

Something suitably atmospheric for your Friday the 13th picture. A cemetery, shaded with trees and covered by a sky the same color as the monuments below. I tried to capture a ghost, but they move too fast.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Random Kit Pix
Wonderful news! The kitten nursery at the Peninsula Humane Society will be on again this spring and summer. I've signed up to volunteer. In anticipation I went back and looked at the pictures from the first kitten nursery. And since you just can't have enough cute kitten photos of the internet, I pulled out a few favorites from my time there. I can't wait to get started again.

Oh the trials of a heating contractor!
After 4 days of no heat we finally got our furnace fixed today. I am basking in warm. I am not wearing sweats and three pairs of socks to bed. I am not standing 2 feet in front of one of our space heaters because that's about as far as the heat goes. I am not one with the hot water bottle, electric blanket, or heating pad.

Happy, happy day.

Mr. Grumpyheat, however, had a bad day. The guy we called to fix our heater was apparently disappointed to find that it didn't work and that we expected him to fix it. I honestly think we were putting him out somehow.

First off, our heater is under the house. It's in a moderately sized crawl space with a dirt-lined floor. I've been down there. The PG&E guy spent 20 minutes there and came out smiling and chatting about the Giants. Mr. Grumpyheat looked into the crawl space as if it were lined with the bodies of lepers. Personally I thought those Dickie coveralls were there to get dirty, but I guess they're just there to impress the ladies. Meanwhile, this lady was wearing two sweatshirts in the house because it was 49 degrees this morning. I was not impressed by the coveralls. I was impressed that he had the magic bits to turn cold into heat.

Except he didn't. After moaning and sighing his way back to the heater, crawling over those lepers, he banged for a bit. Said one or two bad words under his breath, and then made the same death trek out to say he didn't have the right part. Wow...this is the company that put this furnace in 4 years ago, I had described the symptoms, you think they might just throw a few possible parts onto the truck in the morning. But, no, he had to go back to the office for the part. So off Mr. Crumpyheat goes leaving me hugging the space heater and putting on another pair of socks.

The return of Mr. Grumpyheater was heralded by much subterranean banging, which terrified Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) who was already skittish because the space heater apparently hums in a way that disturbed her greatly.

And then it's done. He clomps up the porch and hands me a clipboard and says 'it's done." don't mind if I turn the heater on and actually see if heat comes out, do you? So while he's filling out the paperwork I'm crouched down over a vent, fingers crossed, nose nicely icicled. And....oh the bliss.....

On the paperwork he lists the job: Check frangometer. Change whopflange. Replace sleemvalve. And then it says, on the paperwork: Furnace is under house with dirt-lined crawl space. Like we had him working in the La Brea Tar Pits. Hey, you're a heating contractor, do you expect the heater to be next to the hot tub in the conservatory? Maybe in modern homes the comfort of repairmen is given the apparent consideration they deserve and all bit of mechanicals are easily accessible in warm, sunny place with posters of naked women and either coffee or Slurpee machines, depending upon the weather. But in earlier homes (ours was built in the late 1940s) things like a furnace was put under the house. I'd think having to do things like routinely crawl under houses was part of the job but Mr. Grumpyheater acted like I'd provided him with substandard dirt in substandard conditions and would, if ever called out on a job again, expect us to sweep the dirt and provide him with a nice carpet for him to crawl along. And, of course, get rid of the damned lepers.

Oh screw him, we've got heat!!!!
A question of sexism
An e-mail thread recently came through on a list that I'm subscribed to with the subject "20 Things I Didn't Know About Women." The author, whom I know slightly, is a thoroughly immature idiot who insists on treating women as basically only about sex. In spite of the fact that he claims "to love women" and seemed to think many of his 20 things were actually complimentary, I found the whole thing to be insulting.

What I found interesting was the fall-out from this note. Many women objected. Few men did and the ones that did were accused by other men of basically kissing up to the women to try and score points. The subscribers to this list tend to be young and very liberal. Had the list been entitled "20 things I didn't know about African Americans" or "....homosexuals" I believe the flak would have been more dramatic and indignant. But sexism still seems to be the one acceptable prejudice amongst liberals.

Now I know I'm making huge assumptions here, but I find it interesting that a group who would slap someone down for making a racist joke would defend someone making sexist comments as "free speech." And yes, you do have the right to make idiotic comments. What bothers me is how few people objected to them or, in fact, saw anything objectionable in them. I guess that's what bothers me most -- that so many people (and all of them men, apparently) supported the writer as "just having fun" or "not meaning anything by it." Not meaning anything isn't the point, the point is that a large group of the recipients of this e-mail found it hateful and yet a larger group dismissed their offense as being unimportant.

It's hardly surprising that sexism still runs rampant. Society continues to support and foster a culture of sexual inequality by making women all about appearance. (You don't get on the cover of a magazine for being a good person or graduating with honors.) But if you consider yourself truly liberal, a humanist, a person who respects the rights of others, then you must speak up when you see disrespect in any form; gender-based, racial, religious, sexual, or other. You can't say one type of insulting humor is OK but another is offensive simply because you don't find it personally offensive. If others object, then the complaint has validity. You don't have to agree, but don't dismiss other's concerns.

Free speech means you have the right to be obnoxious. But if you want to respect yourself then you must respect others.
Photo of the day: Nude Descending a Staircase

More from this week's walk by the reservoir. I have a thing for moss. So, apparently, does this branch.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Photo of the day: Discoteca

Sometimes you've just got to go with what you see. How could I resist taking this picture?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Photo of the day: Take a Rusty Pas

I've decided to scrap the theme for the week. I think that I take better photos when I'm not hemmed in by rules so I'm going back to no rules. This may change, but for now it's back to anything goes.

I took a walk yesterday up on Old Sawyer Camp Road by the reservoir. And, being me, surrounded by green hills, towering trees, wildflowers, and glistening water...I photographed barbed wire and rusty signs. And, being me, I liked them better than the pictures of the hills, trees, flowers, and water.

This was my favorite. What can I say? I like the unexpected. I like just looking around and seeing what's interesting as opposed to just what's there.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Photo of the day: Still Life With Our Share of the Bailout

This week: shapes and shadows. I'm starting with the perfect roundness of coins in a round jar. I'm going to have to get moving this week to fulfill the challenge, which is always fun. But tonight it's late and this was the first thing my eye came do. I shall improve as the week goes on.

And, as always, if you have an idea for future weekly themes, please let me know in the comments. Any and all suggestions welcome.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

How to be dull
There's an ad currently on TV (for some company/store that I can't even recall) that proclaims "now your home can look like a picture in a magazine."

To which I reply, "why would I want that?"

Seriously, why is that a good thing? Personally, that sounds really sucky and incredibly dull. Why would I want my house to look like a picture in a magazine? I don't want to live with matchy-matchy pillows and color-coordinated accessories. I don't want to decorate from a "collection." (The Martha Stewart Collection, the Has-Been-Reality-Star Collection.) How sad to be so unimaginative that you need someone else to say "this goes with this, which goes with that." What's wrong with the I Live Here Collection?

The problem with Martha & Co is that unless you vote the party line you'll never be certain. Do you dare to mix this rug from the Martha Meets K-Mart Line with the table you bought from the Florence Henderson collection? Wouldn't that require independent thought? And if you're capable of that then can't you just screw the "Collections" and build your own? A rug in a color that reminds you of your first dorm room for a bit of fun factor, a cool table you found at an antique store for $100 that you stripped and refinished yourself. Some blue glass bottles (just because you like the colors) on a mantlepiece next to photos of the people you love. A random white feather picked up while hiking in the woods. That's interesting. That's what a room should be like. It shouldn't be someone you've never meet and who knows nothing about you trying to convince you that beauty can be found when you buy your rooms like Garanimals. Yes, just pair this lamp with the hippo sticker with any of our tables with the hippo sticker and you can't go wrong!

I like mismatched. I like different. I like interesting. I want to live in a house where people feel comfortable taking their shoes off; where they don't have to freak out if they accidentally spill something. OK, so our house will never make the cover of House Beautiful, but I like being the only ones with our particular and creative blend of, well, stuff. A replica Maltese Falcon. An antique radio. An African basket and a Native American pot. No, it's not beautiful (well, it is to me), but it's definitely not dull. And it's a visual representation of who and what we area. We're not trying to recreate a Nantucket beach house, a chic Parisian flat, a Manhattan loft, or Lindsay Lohan's Malibu Barbi Rehab Beach Party.

We're not trying to do anything, except live cozily surrounded by things we love. And Excrutiatingly Perfect Homes Monthly would have a nasty reaction to the old wicker wheelchair we picked up at a garage sale and the beautiful leather-topped table which came from beloved ancestors. A piece of sheet music autographed by Fred Astaire (yes, really) hangs on one wall while the others have North Western animal totems from our trip to Canada. Wanderings through an adored and now, sadly, defunct antique store yielded the ancient Dagurretypes and stashes of old photographs of people we never met, inclduing the huge wedding photo that hangs over our TV. These fictional arbiters of taste would also reject the hideously ugly candlestick from Mexico abut would then want the rights to reproduce the wonderfully beautiful carved hand from Malawi.

I never feel comfortable in rooms where everything is perfect. It doesn't look anything like life. I like piles of books and quirky items. It's a mark of personality and individuality. But rooms that look like, well, a picture in a magazine, they just seem soulless and boring. Like a waiting room in a hospital, not like someone actually lives there.

One of the great thing about my friends is they all have homes that reflect who they are. Some are classy, some are colorful. Others are full of toys or photographs of their travels. Of cats or of collections of spoons. But you walk in and you think "oh yeah, X lives here." You never think "gosh, this looks like a furniture showroom." If that's what I thought, honestly they probably wouldn't be interesting enough to be friends of mine. Because they wouldn't be interesting.
Photo of the day: Ancestors

Using a fancy digital camera to capture what was once the height of camera coolness. A collapsible Kodak, popular in the 30s for tourists and families. With money (and space) I'd have a large collection of antique cameras. But for now I'll just pay homage to the ancestor of the beautiful camera I'm using now.