Friday, August 27, 2010

Photo of the day: Dr. Locke's Hands

From an ancient edition of Time magazine.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Often when making small talk with people you've just met the subject of music comes up. Which means the invariable question of "what kind of music do you listen to?" or the alternative "who are your favorite artists?"

Being a world music DJ means that my favorite artists are those that most people outside of the US have never even heard of.

"Such as?" you ask. Well, such as Sanseverino a French singer/songwriter/guitarist influenced by Django Reinhardt but with a modern pop/jazz sound. Great fun and delicious music. Henri Dikongue from Cameroon. Acoustic guitar and warm, light, sweet vocals. Lesser known than most international African artists, but so wonderful. Omara Portuondo best known for her vocals with the Buena Vista Social club. This Cuban singer is probably in her 70s by now but that only makes her style more sophisticated and her voice richer.

Of those three, Omara Portuondo is probably the best known, simply because of her BVSC work. Within their own countries, the other two are well known and extremely popular.

The problem is that when I talk about the music I love, I get the impression that people think I'm a snob. I'm not. And I'm certainly not throwing out potentially obscure names to seem "in the know." It's just that I like music that you're not going to hear when you turn on the radio.

But, for the record, my favorite US artist of the past decade is Garth Brooks. So yes, I do like some popular artists. But honestly, I'd prefer to listen to Paris Combo. (Or Ken Hirai. Or Robert Mirabal. Or Tarras. Or....)
Photo of the day: Cream

This is Cream of the crime fighting duo of Cream and Coco. She may look innocent and sweet but don't let that fool you. She's nothing but trouble.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

People in the Heat

They do weird things. They lose all concern with how they look. With the exception of high school kids who insist on wearing wool ski caps (!) because they look hip. Yeah, shorts and a sweaty face is so hot.

Everyone else, though, doesn't care. Women who wouldn't dream of usually being seen in shorts put them on, damn the strerch marks, and go to the grocery store. Unfortunately we're required at the shelter to wear long pants and closed toe shoes so no shorts and flip-flops for me. I look positively Muslim in my jeans and heavy cotton volunteer t-shirt. Everyone else out today had tank tops and cargo shorts. Old ladies in muu-muus. Old guys in Bermuda shorts. Wonderfully ugly hula shirts.

See the other side effect of not being used to living in this heat is not having the wardrobe for it. I own exactly one pair of shorts and they don't fit. I'll wear them inside, but not outside. And since I have a dress code where I "work" I'm dressing today exactly the way I did last winter. (OK, minus the sweatshirt.) But the rest of the Bay Area looks really, really funny.

I've seen more flabby white legs today than I can count. I've seen clothing that hasn't been out of the closet in five years. Tank tops featuring bands that broke up a decade ago. Shorts that don't fit the wearer because they last time they wore them they were 15 pounds lighter. (The wearer, not the shorts.)

At the moment I'm wearing light PJ bottoms and one of Husband's t-shirts. It's 86 in here but is supposed to cool down tonight and be much cooler tomorrow. But I'll be wearing tomorrow what I wore today. Volunteering is a great way to not worry about what you're going to wear...
Can We Get Just a Little Sympathy?

The Bay Area is sweltering under a heat wave and nobody feels sorry for us.

My Facebook friends are all posting statuses like "we're melting" or "I can't sleep, it's 90 at 1 am." And our friends in the hotter climes are chiming in with things like "try it with 90% humidity" or "welcome to our world." Here's the thing, if you live in Arizona or Florida you expect this heat. You're prepared for it. We're not. Yes, you regularly have temps into the triple digits. But it's been like that for two months and you lived there knowing that. Here it's different. Our climate changes daily. On Saturday morning it was so chilly that our heater (which we keep set at 65) went off. Last night at 2 am it was 90 in our house.

When you live next to the San Francisco Bay you don't expect it to be 101 degrees. Our house doesn't have air conditioning. We have three fans. The kitten nursery doesn't have AC. It has two fans. It was so hot we actually had to "condemn" the nursery and move the kittens into a cooler spot. Yesterday it was 98 in the nursery, too hot for struggling kittens.

Friends who live in Orlando were laughing at us for feeling the heat. But they go from their air conditioned house to their air conditioned car to their air conditioned businesses. Most of us our here don't have AC in our houses. Who needs it when you're only going to run it for 10 days a year? Well we do. At least for those 10 days. People around here are all exhausted because nobody's slept in three days. Those of us who don't have the luxury of AC where we work are getting headache and heat stroke. We're sweating, cranky, and making sure we don't get dehydrated. I've consumed so much water the past three days that I'm practically floating.

Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) has managed to extend herself into the largest land mass possible to take most advantage of her proximity to the quietest fan. It's quite impressive, really. In the winter she can curl herself into a tiny ball to conserve heat. In the summer she extends herself out into about two cat lengths. It's like feline origami.

It's a bit cooler today, but not by much. Currently it's 84 in the house. Tomorrow, according to the SF paper, will be 20 degrees cooler. 20 degrees! That's how unusual this heat is.

So yes, it's hotter where you are. It'll be hotter next week. You'll be sweating for another month. But gee, can we get just a little sympathy please?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No Radio Tonight Plus Fresh, Hot Links
I've got a sub for my show tonight. The Tuesday dinner shift at the kitten nursery fell apart and I'm filling in. You can still turn in for some fine music as Trent Maverick keeps the Cafe Bohemian alive. On KZSU. I'll be back next week with more delicious world music.

Now on with the fun:

Check out the Chinese Red Army doing Michael's Jackson's Beat It.

Danish Rabbit Hopping Competition. Not a Monty Python sketch.

Freaky ass puppets. Bad music. Must be Christian Pirate rap.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kittens. Yeah, again.
The "official" kitten nursery has closed. That means that everyone who signed up for the summer is off the hook and doesn't need to come in anymore. That's because we had a lot of high school students getting their volunteer credits. They're back in school and now it's just us old folk. The nursery is still up and running. Last year it was open until the first week of October. This year it looks to end mid-September. We saved over 80 kittens last year and we're aiming for more this time around.

Fewer volunteers means more work, but I don't mind. Actually those of the die-hards still working the nursery are the best. Experienced, reliable, fun. Our shift with four people today ran smoother than previous shifts with 7, of whom several were useless. We still have a full house with all kennels full, at the moment we have 22 kittens in residence.

Here's the deal. For each litter we mix up a batch of food, customized for each group. Some get solid kitten food. Some get a mix of KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement) and food. We weigh each kitty and, for the smaller ones, syringe feed them. At least 12ccs per kitty, which is sometimes quite a chore.

We clean their cages, socialize them (that's the best part) and report any signs of illnesses. Between each litter we bleach the scales and tables and make sure everything is clean so as not to cross-contaminate. Then it's on to the next one. The average litter of 4 takes about 40 minutes, so with 7 litters it can take some time. And it always takes longer than you think because you want to spend more time with each litter. And usually they don't want to go back, which makes it harder to end the visit.

The thing I love about the lunch shift, though, is how the kittens react. Usually I'm the first one there and when I walk in they wake up. There's a chorus of curious and hungry meows. But after two and a half hours of lunch, play, and cuddling they're all fast asleep again by the time I leave. There's a deliciously comforting silence about piles of sleeping, happy kittens. And every day it's harder to leave without smuggling one of these little guys home.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Old Faces in Odd Places
This has been my week for catching up with old friends.

First my friend M who I never see because, well, I live in California and she lives in Saudi Arabia. But she's back for the summer with husband and two kids and she had some free time and randomly came by the shelter. I'm walking across the lobby on my way to the nursery and who should I see but someone I thought was on the other side of the map. Completely surprising and so wonderful. We've kept in touch via e-mail and Christmas cards but I haven't seen her face-to-face in probably 10 years. And there she was.

Then today Husband and I were having breakfast in our favorite local diner and two old friends walk in. I was great friends with M & R when I was married to my first husband. The four of us traveled together and spent endless hours eating good food and playing cribbage. But we drifted apart and today for the first time in about 12 years I saw them again.

Running into old friends is weird. We're of the age when we don't change that much. None of my friends look any different than they did 10 years ago. Maybe one or two more wrinkles. Maybe a bit more gray hair. But seeing them again after so many years was interesting because I recognized all of them immediately. No "they look familiar" no "where do I know that face from?" It was an instant recognition and a delicious gift from the universe.