Monday, December 31, 2007
Random Neuronal Firings, New Year's Edition
I know I'm writing this only for myself, but sometimes writing one's thoughts as if someone were going to read them helps to get the pesky things in order.
My New Year's musings have been particularly melancholy this time around. There have been ups and downs, but some of the downs have been been very low, and the highs were mostly just middling. Just say 2007 wasn't one of my favorite years.
One of the tasks I usually do around New Year's is tending my large collection of houseplants. I have had many plants for 10 or more years; the very oldest, for about 30 years. So you see these are old friends, not just household decorations. Early winter is a good time to evaluate what needs repotting, pruning, or general TLC, and the habit of evaluating them leads to thinking about my own state at this junction of the years.
Haworthia grows in a shallow clay pan decorated with incised markings. The pot came from a favorite farm stand/nursery that has gone the way of much too much fertile land - sold for development. I don't even remember the name of the place, but I vividly recall the shock of overhearing two men on the bus talking about how the place was being bought up by the college across the road. "Say it ain't so!" I inwardly cried, and drove out a couple of weeks later to find that it was indeed so.
And that's what this year has been like for me. A couple of rugs pulled out from under me, some events entirely out of my control, and the creeping realization that I'm no spring chicken anymore. (Yes, I should have probably have caught on to that one some time ago.)
So what does this have to do with Angry Salt Guy and Happy Pepper Pal? Happy is always Happy, never seeing the smallest cloud in the sky, and Angry - nothing can cheer him up or soothe him. But they're just salt and pepper shakers; our moods aren't indelibly painted on our faces. We can adapt, and we can cause change as well as be passive before it.
The old adage to change what you can, and accept what you cannot change, is a good thing to repeat to one's self every now and then. So I'm going to go out into the gloomy weather, lay in some provisions for the long winter ahead, and plan a quiet New Year's Day with my plants, a good dinner, and a nice bottle of wine. I'll prune and repot, browse the seed catalogs and dust off the gym shoes. Another year is coming.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
There are times when one sees
that many things may happen,
and the time when one sees that not all things will happen
comes when it does and not when one is wanting it.
There are edges to things.
There are squares, circles, cliques, and webs.
All of them have form, and what is form
but the decision of something
to be this and not that.
12/18/2007A poem about unrequited love, surprisingly enough.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Ok. Look, I understand the strategy of demonizing your chosen enemy. But these idiots are going to have to narrow it down. Decide who you want to demonize, and focus on them. Here we have gays, mexicans, dwarves, liberals, teachers, arabs, persians, chinese and women.
If you’re going to convince me to start hating certain groups, you’ve got to figure out how to let me focus on one, or maybe two. Any more than that, and my hatred’s gonna be so watered down that I won’t want to kill them all. Maybe just steal their bicycles. I just don’t have that much hatred in inventory at one time…I think I want mikey to have my babies.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Saturday, August 4, 2007
These guys, or ladies actually, are living between the screen and the window of my bathroom. I discovered them when the weather got warm and I wanted to open the window. I am patiently waiting for fall and chilly weather, when I can knock them out of the window and get them with bug spray*. They're beautiful creatures, I just don't want them quite so close! They're very alert, and the ones that line up up top seem to be the guardians. As soon as I move the curtain, they're on the edge of the screen, facing in and watching my every move. Another wasp will approach, and they'll touch antennae, apparently to say "look out for the biped on the other side of the glass. Their senses are poor, but they have bad weapons!"
*I don't usually use insecticides. Hornets living in the windows are an exception.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
My poor neglected blog, I haven't had much time for it since I'm working again. But I wanted to link to this very good post at Pandagon
and quote Mireille's comment:
As far as I’m concerned, atheists are the only people that can take full ersponsibility for their actions. If I were a christian, and I killed someone for no reason, they would be “martyred” and go to “heaven”. But since I believe that this life is the only life any of us have, I would know that by murdering someone, I am taking EVERYTHING I could possibly take from someone… So I better think about that.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
I was looking at pictures I took in San Francisco last fall, and found this one of Angry Salt Guy. Not sure what he's angry about - Happy Pepper Guy was abandoned in favor of the pepper mill you can just see peeking out from behind the ivy, whose name I've forgotten.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
One of my pleas for the environment is for women to reduce the amount of disposables they use. Even if menstrual cups or flannel pads aren't for you, choose products that use the least toxic, polluting, or non-biodegradable components as possible. Especially don't use plastic applicator tampons - cardboard or manual insert only. You don't need pads individually wrapped in plastic - to carry supplies with you, keep a few pads or tampons in a clean zippered bag that gets reused and can be washed.
Plastic is forever. Once a plastic product is made, it persists in the environment forever as trash. Plastic items accumulate in areas of the open ocean where currents create eddies, creating an ugly soup. Beaches on remote islands have pill bottles and tampon applicators wash up on them. Plastics don't "biodegrade" but they do leach chemicals into the water and soil. Some of these chemicals are suspected of being endocrine disruptors. See Science Blogs and Deep Sea News for more particulars.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
More pictures from California - I remembered mostly taking pictures of plants, but there's quite a few critters in there, too. These are sea anenomes, of a beautiful seagreen color. Don't know the species. I want to take a course in marine invertebrates! I need a course in Marine Invertebrates!
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Haven't been taking many pictures lately - busy with gardening and a new job - so here's another picture from California, taken last fall. These are the famous sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf. They're like big fat cats, stretching and snoozing in the sun.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
You need to click on this picture to see the detail. The light-colored duck has a sort of ruff of feathers on the back of its head - a deformity that is apparently bred for by some duck fanciers. Odd, but no harm to the duck if it has the gene from only one parent. If it has the gene from both parents, it will die in the egg stage and never hatch. The picture was taken in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, fall 2006.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I'd been musing about a post on bad spelling, punctuation, and grammar when I found this link, thanks to Twisty:
The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks
Making Fun of Bad Punctuation since 2005.
My own pet peeve is the misuse of the apostrophe, not just the ubiquitous confusion of it's and its, but the random sprinkling of apostrophes like parsley on mashed potatoes. Or should I say, the random sprinkling of apostrophe's like parsley on mashed potatoes'.
My grammar alarm was set off by a particular blog writer who posted a snivel (not up to the rate of a rant) about those nasty, snobbish guidelines for good writing. His/her blogulation in general is rather muddy, and shows a need for those aforesaid nasty guidelines. Reading the rambling sentences, illogical topic jumps, poor proofreading, and misused apostrophes made this English major's head hurt. (I'm not linking to the post, since it is by just one poor writer on an otherwise excellent blog.)*
So, to keep me from getting the vapors, remember these simple rules:
• its is a possessive pronoun; it's is the contraction for it is
• plural nouns do not use apostrophes: books, not book's
• singular verbs do not use apostrophes: Poor grammar bothers me, not Poor grammar bother's me
Of course, by the Murphy's Law of Blogging, there will be at least one egregious misspelling or grammatical error in this post, and Wild Roses will finally get a hit.
*Yes, I know I tend to use a lot of comments in parentheses and dashes, but this is informal writing meant to more-or-less sound like conversation. I am much more persnickety in formal writing.
Monday, May 21, 2007
(1) "Compassionate conservatism" was never meant to be any more than a political slogan. Pretending otherwise after six years of CC is disingenuous at best. A few bucks were tossed at the marriage initiative, faith-based programs, and abstinence education to con voters; the only beneficiaries of the programs were Republican candidates and cronies.
(2) Brooks, as usual, devolves into delusion.
(2a) He sees nothing wrong with a system that provides obscene rewards to "the top 0.01 percent," whose taxes must be kept low to provide "opportunity" to the remaining 99.99%. That 99.99% must be in hiding, by the way, because we have a shortage of people to invest in.
(2b) Brooks' human capital agenda simultaneously cuts across left and right, and exploits the divisions between left and right. And spins plates on a stick while riding a unicycle, no doubt.
(2c) The measures Brooks favors are weighted toward Republican shibboleths: low taxes, school choice, and encouraging marriage. How are we going to pay for investing in a human capital agenda, if we can't tax wealth? School choice is a meaningless concept, unless parents have quality schools to choose from in the area where they live. How do you encourage marriage? By making divorce harder? Americans of all classes and religions have voted with their feet on that issue - they want to be able to end failed marriages. Woman have the economic freedom to choose marriage or not, and the social freedom to have families without the consent of the patriarchy. We're not going back.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Anyone who reads feminist and political blogs is already aware of this, so I won't recap the details. Relevant links are at: Feministing, Amanda at Pandagon, Chris Clarke at Pandagon, and elsewhere.
I left this comment on Creek Running North, Chris Clarke's blog. Edited slightly here.
I don’t suppose I have anything new to say about all this, except maybe that Markos and his ilk have no idea how thick women’s skins really are. We must constantly monitor ourselves and our surroundings, judging this to be not worth worrying about, that a risk not worth taking, and the other thing just plain scary. If our skins were all that thin, we’d never leave the house.
I was talking with some friends - all of us middle-aged women - about the recent murder of a young woman who made a bad choice of companions. We all teetered on the precipice of “we don’t blame the victim, but what the hell was she thinking?” We started toting up the ways our behavior has changed since our days of youthful invulnerability - not walking alone after certain hours or in certain areas, not being friendly to strangers in bars, etc. Age and experience have made us all too aware that the world is particularly dangerous for women, regardless of age or beauty.
I admire an earlier commenter for confronting her harrassers, but the fact is my fat middle-aged ass is not capable of such a response. I’ll forgo the pleasure of a walk on a hot summer night rather than risk being tomorrow’s headline. I hope Markos is satisfied.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.
All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance -- now Joe gets it, too.
Joe prepares his morning breakfast; bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and the amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.
Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.
If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FDIC (or the NCUA, if he's part of a credit union) because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.
He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.
The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.
He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.
Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."
First bug of the season to scare the bejesus out of me by dropping from some hidden spot onto the window next to me. It looks like a tarnished plant bug, but it's much bigger than my trusty Rodale garden guide says it should be.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I was reminded of this reading the NY Times obit -
To Mr. Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title character in his 1965 novel, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” summed up his philosophy:
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’
You've got to be kind. So it goes.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
#35: Thank God for Persephone Otherwise There Would Be No Skiing or Hockey.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Go there to read many more learned responses than mine. These are just my thoughts.
Another consideration about the trolley example: in the case of the choice between killing five workers and killing one, the driver is choosing between the only available courses of action, either of which results in killing someone. In his split second considering the situation, he makes the decision he knows he can better live with. You, innocent bystander on the bridge with your fat buddy, are not inevitably involved in the accident.
You're throwing a whole new variable into the mix by making yourself an actor in the situation. Who are you to decide that taking your buddy's life is more morally acceptable than a tragic accident? What if the trolley derails after hitting the fat man, and several passengers die? What if the trolley driver dies after hitting the fat man? What if your buddy, in panic when you shove him, manages to grab you by the belt and drag you over the bridge rail with him? And you don't die, but are left quadriplegic?
My point is that the questions of morality involved go farther than a simple arithmetic of how many are killed. When the big picture is out of your control, you fiddle with the details at your peril. I think a parallel is the argument for the Iraq war that Saddam was a murderer, and that by not removing him, we were somehow complicit in those murders. This argument failed by both tests of morality - defeating Saddam is taking many more lives than would otherwise have been lost, and, by making ourselves actors in the situation, we have become culpable for the murders we commit. It was never true that we were complicit with Saddam's murders - that guilt was his. We are now complicit with many murders.
You, on the bridge with your buddy, are innocent of the accident, horrible as it may be to witness. If you involve yourself by killing your friend, you have become a murderer.
Friday, March 23, 2007
1.5 lb. piece of veal shoulder
2 28 oz. cans of peeled crushed tomatoes
1 largish onion
1 - as many as you want garlic cloves
1 cup cheap dry red wine
1 lb. bunch of mustard or other greens
generous grinding of pepper, salt to taste
In a large pot, brown the veal in olive oil on both sides. While the veal is cooking, chop the onion and garlic. When the veal is brown, set it aside on a plate. Put the onions and garlic in the pot and saute, stirring a couple of times, until just starting to brown. Add a splash more oil if they look dry. Add the tomatoes, red wine, salt, and pepper; bring to a simmer and cook for about an hour. (If you were using beef shin or pork ribs, you would add the meat from the beginning, but veal is more tender.) Wash and chop the greens. Add the meat and greens to the pot, bring back to a simmer and cook until the meat is falling-apart tender, about an hour. Serve over pasta with a good grating of Parmesan.
Adding the greens to the sauce was an inspiration of the moment, to save a cooking pot, and the result is very good. The slight bitterness of the greens is a nice counterpoint to the richness of the meat and tomatoes, and they add a little textural contrast as well. Next time, I may try this with broccoli raab, adding the veggie later in the cooking time than for greens.
OK, I should have taken a picture. But then I would have had to clean off the table in order to set a nice scene, and everything just got too complicated from there.
Servings - the meat about 4, with some sauce left over. I put a couple of servings in the freezer for later; they will be welcome some evening when there's no time to cook but a comforting meal is needed.
My trip to the Flower Show didn't result in many pictures, alas. I haven't used the camera much in that kind of setting - dark background with brightly lit subjects - and I'm still getting to know how to use it. I did get a lovely shot of Aloe plicatilis. Click to enlarge and you can really see the flowers.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
The Blue Hour
And is that it? No fanfare, no shouting,
Ceremony? No definitiveness yet.
There’s still some hesitation to be too sure.
The blue hour suffuses the evening
With its fragile light.
A caress on the fading day -
Blue to the east, pink to the west -
A blessing begging hoping
For the next day.
Sometimes - well, actually always,
Sooner or later -
That blue hour comes true,
When the horizon slips up past that pink
And the blue is deeper and deeper.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Great cats from the past: Maxine, the calico, and Yuki, the little white bit of fluff.
This feature will be "Friday Pet Blogging" instead of just "Cat Blogging" because this is an equal-opportunity pet website.
Friday, March 9, 2007
From comments at Echidne: But what if some of the people you are referring to see feminine characteristics as not bad, but not male? Seriously, assigning misogyny to people who state that they believe in a division of roles based upon gender can be a reach too far.
Echidne's answer: People who state that they believe in a division of roles based upon gender tend to assume more than just the division of roles based upon gender. They tend to assume that good roles are naturally suited for men and that wiping poo is what women do best. Really.
Who decides what is "feminine" or "masculine"? Who decides if I, a woman, am able to study math or science, or make a decent wage? It's hard to see a society that places these matters in men's hands as anything other than misogynist. When women are allowed to freely choose their roles, they choose from a broad spectrum of roles, sometimes rejecting the "feminine" roles of wife and mother entirely. When men have control of women's roles, women are confined to the roles men want them to have - subservient to and serving men.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
This is Maggie, whose talent for sleeping is remarkable even for a cat. Maggie moved in with me because she wasn't getting along with her roommate. For the first six months, she slept with her eyes half open. Now that she's not anxious about someone else getting the sunbeam, she sleeps like a hibernating bear. With a grin on her face.
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Update 3/7: I've added a couple more links.
Pharyngula and Living the Scientific Life are on Scienceblogs, but I like them enough to bookmark separately. Pharyngula does a great job of describing science for the non-scientist, and has lots of anti-ID rants and updates for followers of that issue. Living the Scientific Life posts beautiful pictures as well as commentary.
World o' Crap is one of the funniest political/cultural satire sites, regularly mocking obscure wingnuts as well as the usual suspects.
All about Birds is a terrific bird guide by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; it includes audio of bird songs, which is a very useful feature.
Ball of Wax is a general commentary on life by the author of Local Eats, and has interesting links, especially photos.
Creek Running North has environmental and cultural commentary, as well as some of the best writing you will ever read. Chris knows how to reach your heart through your brain.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
People have always bred for desired characteristics, whether in livestock or crops, but this is a far cry from breeding good mousers or even good pets. Designer pets are just another toy for the rich. I like my kitties far too much to just consider them accessories.
Rosa canina, the dog rose. A European wild rose. I've read two explanations of the name - that the plant was used as a treatment for the bite of a mad dog, or that it's a contraction of "dagger rose," so called because of its sharp thorns. The image is from a Polish postage stamp; "dzika roza" means wild rose. It's pronounced JEE-ka ROO-zha.
My blogging name, Rugosa, comes from another rose, R. rugosa. It's also a wild rose, with very pretty and fragrant flowers and lots of sharp thorns. R. rugosa is called beach rose because it thrives in the salt air by the sea.