31 December 2006

The books of 2006

These are the books I read during 2006 in chronological order. The rating system has been changed from last year's -, /, + to a scale of 0 to 5. With all the possible books to read out there, I try to stick to things I'd rate 3+, but there are a few comics that I decided to read before I got rid of them that scored lower.

Ratings 0-5 (predominantly subjective)
<2.5 = Generally not worth reading or finishing
2.5 = Fair: didn't seem like a waste of time to read once
3 = Good: enjoyed reading it once
4 = Very Good: would read it more than once, found it objectively good, or might want to own a copy
5 = Excellent: as good as it gets

1. Setting Your Genius Free: How to Discover Your Spirit and Calling by Dick Richards (2.5/5)

2. My Life So Far by Jane Fonda (4/5)

3. Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs (The Story of Egyptology) by Barbara Mertz (3.5/5)

4. Twelfth Night, or What You Will by William Shakespeare (3/5)

5. Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt by Maria C. Betr├│ (3.5/5)

6. Introducing Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Barbara Watterson (4/5)

7. The Vagina Monologues (The V-Day edition) by Eve Ensler (5/5)

8. Necessary Targets: A Story of Women and War by Eve Ensler (3.5/5)

9. Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters (4/5)

10. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (4/5)

11. Speak, Memory (An Autobiography Revisited) by Vladimir Nabokov (2.5/5)

12. The Blue Suit: A memoir of crime by Richard Rayner (3/5)

13. They Wanted a Louder Gun by Richard Portman (4/5) reread

14. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (4/5)

15. Griffin & Sabine by Nick Bantock (4/5) reread

16. Sabine's Notebook by Nick Bantok (4/5) reread

17. The Golden Mean by Nick Bantok (4/5) reread

18. Rogue X-Men Limited Series Vol.1 #1 Jan. 1995 (1/5)

19. Tales of the Marvels-Blockbuster Vol.1 #1 April 1995 (2/5)

20. Rose by Li-Young Lee (4/5) reread

21. Slam the Door Gently: The Making and Unmaking of a Female Scientist by Ruth Ann Bobrov Glater, Ph. D. (3/5)

22. The Uncanny X-Men Vol.1 #300 May 1993 (2.5/5)

23. X-Men Unlimited Vol.1 #4 March 1994 (3.5/5)

24. The Uncanny X-Men Vol.1 #310 March 1994 (2.5/5)

25. Cable Vol.1 #1 May 1993 (2/5)

26. The Amazing Spider-man Vol.1 #375 March 1993 (3/5)

27. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (4/5)

28. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (4/5) reread

29. Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding & Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier (3.5/5)

30. I, the Divine by Rabih Alameddine (3.5/5)

31. The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare (2.5/5)

32. Like the Red Panda by Andrea Seigel (3/5)

33. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (3/5) reread

34. The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer (3.5/5)

35. Dry by Augusten Burroughs (4/5)

36. Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere by Michael Kimmelman (4/5) reread

37. Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff (4.5/5)

38. Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue by Spalding Gray (4/5)

39. Evidence 1944-1994 by Richard Avedon (4.5/5)

40. Prisoner of Trebekistan: a decade in Jeopardy! by Bob Harris (4/5)

41. Brandt: The Photography of Bill Brandt by Bill Brandt (4/5)

42. Diane Arbus by Diane Arbus (2.5/5)

43. Brassaï: The Eye of Paris by Anne Wilkes Tucker with Richard Howard and Avis Berman (3/5)

44. Diane Arbus: Revelations by Diane Arbus (3/5)

45. Portraits by Richard Avedon (3/5)

46. East of the Sun and West of the Moon illus. by Kay Nielsen (4/5)

47. Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (4/5)

One year ago at TTaT: Books - 2005
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Beholding

When I got out of bed- reluctantly- today, it felt and looked like the world was spinning. It is, of course.

I wasn't up atypically late (at least not for me), hadn't been drinking or anything, but the day is still awash with low-level dizziness. Not the first time, undoubtedly not the last. Sensitive sinuses and weather changes: I chalk it up to that.

It makes me wonder if we all had consistent sensational awareness of our planetary motion, if we'd view ourselves and our place(s) in the universe differently, and whether that would be better or worse.

One year ago at TTaT: Page-a-day's end, Books - 2005
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30 December 2006

I will

Regular readers of TTaT know that I began a tale of one of my cross country journeys this summer. I started it in July, and it's still not done. The story had a mass larger than my own, and it soon swallowed me. Every so often I would spit out another day's worth of travel, but I've been stuck at Day 11 since mid-November.

That's when the trip changed its character. That also begins the stretch that has far less photography to fall back on and includes a couple elements I'm reluctant to discuss for the sake of friendship and privacy. I haven't felt like writing that week, haven't much cared about finishing. I've pondered ways to condense it into one post, to skim over that which feels like a huge tone shift from the rest of the saga. I've wondered if I hadn't put finishing it on a massive to-do list of mine if I'd be bothered by its current state as much, if I could just leave it.

But it's on the list, and as something I've already invested so much time in, it feels close to done. I need to finish it even though in some respects I've ceased to care about it and don't think anyone else does. Slam out an end, cross it off the list: I could do that, but if I'm going to do it, I want more for it. I want it to be worth reading.

So it's coming. I don't know that it will be done before the end of the year, but soon, because I need it to be done.

Hmm. I feel like I've just raised expectations for the ending instead of amping up my motivation to write it.

Um, never mind.

One year ago at TTaT: Latest fortune
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29 December 2006

The tree is still standing...

...but DDR is really best played on a ground floor, by which I mean literally one in direct contact with earth. I'd had hopes I could set up shop upstairs, and I did try it, but the level of shake and shimmy occurring to every shelf-held item even with my lightest steps made me very leery. I have those folding shelves that you can stack to form one tall unit, and I envisioned the top half crashing into the large sideboard with the tv and my new PS2.

So... to the finished basement along with the exercise equipment it is. It tends to be chilly down there, but it doesn't take long to warm up. I've gotten more exercise this week than I probably have in the past couple months, and I definitely had much more fun doing so. Good times.

One year ago at TTaT: Sometimes it's not helpful to know what you want
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27 December 2006

The Returns

I stopped asking for clothes as gifts years ago (except for SmartWool socks) because it was generally fruitless for all involved: namely, mom and me. This doesn't stop her from trying though, and once every other blue moon, she finds something I love: the French cuff rayon shirt with light blue, black, and cream diamonds that remind me of Q-bert; the blue zip-up fleece hoodie I wear all the time; and the navy cotton sweater. On the other hand, there's the white and black rayon blouses that you have to unbutton at the back of the neck to put on that certainly make a fine building block for a mature wardrobe but are not me, and several years later still have the tags on.

This year, there was a baffling pair of sweat pants. She pointed out that they didn't have a drawstring with satisfaction, and I couldn't remember ever having minded drawstrings: I didn't like elastic waistbands. More baffling to me is the fact I haven't worn sweat pants in probably a decade. Don't get me wrong: I'm a casual dresser, just not sweat pants casual. These were nice with pockets, a zip front, and the flap with the button you have to do on the inside of the pants... just not me. I was in the process of convincing myself that I'd actually wear them sometimes, but Mom knew better and already returned them. She knows buying clothes for me is hit or miss, mostly miss, but I still feel badly about it; I want to like what she gets me.

And then there's the polartec fleece jacket which was mostly awesome except that the hood is uncomfortably short for me, and I already have a light-weight version in almost the same blue. Stupid short-necked people. L.L. Bean has tall size options for a bunch of stuff, but not this. The next size up might work, but there's no store near here, and I don't blame my mom for not wanting to deal with another potential return. Besides, I'd be tempted to get it in men's since they offer it in red, but I'd really need to try it on for the fit. It just bums me out when clothes I like don't quite work, particularly when they are gifts. No wonder I have such an aversion to clothes shopping.

One year ago at TTaT: Thank yew
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26 December 2006

47

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (4/5)

I told you about his amazing book Dry. Running With Scissors is the autobiography of his childhood that precedes it. Extreme, funny, disturbing and riveting. For 99 of 100 people who say they had a fucked up childhood, I would feel comfortable saying that theirs was nothing compared to his. At the very least, few people's could be as bizarre. I mean, how many people end up living with their mother's psychiatrist and his eccentric family? Or are given complete freedom at 13?

The movie is a good adaptation of the book though some aspects are simplified, some tamed for an R rating, everyone's better looking, and it's given a neater film ending. If you want to see it, I'd watch it first and then read the book for more detail. Then read Dry.

One year ago at TTaT: Outdated help
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24 December 2006

A Charlie Brown Christmas

You can listen to most of the soundtrack here for free. Yea Hype Machine! "Linus and Lucy" is the quintessential Peanuts track.

Merry Xmas!

One year ago at TTaT: Santa tracker
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23 December 2006

It's that time of year again...

...for the 2006 World's Strongest Man competition.

Tonight on ESPN2

Bring it!

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I'm dreaming of a...

I don't know about y'all, but here, it's warm. Not warm warm since it's only in the 40s or 50s, but warm in an I-believe-in-global-warming sort of way. All of which is to say: no snow. Even the grass is still green, which is a bit disturbing for this time of year.

I can't do anything about the weather like Holman Hardt, but I can at least share some snows past. Enjoy!

snowy stairs
snow covered branches
snow covered bush
Ice formation
ice creek
snow covered vines

One year ago at TTaT: Show more leg?, An actual fortune
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22 December 2006

I hate my printer

Really. It scans fine, but that's about it these days. Having recently replaced all the ink, it no refuses to print cyan or yellow, and today, no black. Trusty black just up and said, screw you!

All the more irritating because it was just after 4 and I was trying to print a letter I wanted to mail, time just ticking away. And darkness growing and rain becoming heavier. Cleaned the print heads, did the nozzle check (having done both several times last week) to no avail. After getting a faint black copy from the highest quality setting my printer has, I exported my file as a word doc so I could print it from my dad's computer.

Of course, for an unknown reason, the formatting was just a hair off making it 2 pages instead of one. I had to compromise even though the margins and font were the same. Just ticks me off.

Stupid blurry windshield full of light streaks from evening traffic. Took back roads on the way home which being darker, made it easier to see. People's xmas lights were more vibrant in the wetness.

Could've been worse. A couple degrees cooler and it would've been sleet.

One year ago at TTaT: Note to self
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21 December 2006

Solstice time

Happy Saturnalia
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I thought I only had 2 left

Dudes, it sucks when the finish line moves. For the past couple months, I've been steadily importing scanned rolls into iPhoto, relabeling them with my date/roll archive system, deleting duds or variants that aren't as good, sorting them into albums, and working on a digital portfolio of my best.

This has been rather time consuming since it involves all rolls for which I have scans dating back to July 1999. I've done 72 so far: rolls. What's 72x25? Ah, 1800. And it'd be more than that because some rolls were 36ers. You get the idea.

Newer rolls have files annoying labeled 1,2,3,4,...- essentially the same as many other rolls if taken from their folder context, so that's necessitated even more relabeling. I thought I only had 2 rolls left to import, but the closer I got to doing them, the more certain I was that something wasn't right.

I must've been overwhelmed at the beginning because I declined to save at least 8 rolls from 2005 to my computer. None of this even touches all the earlier photos which will also need to be scanned, as well as the photos from my portfolio-in-progress which will need to be rescanned at a higher resolution once I've narrowed them down to a reasonable number; I just thought I was going to be done with this part of it today, and it's really not going to happen.

Also, my old iPhoto 4 has been crashing. I think it's just not cut out for this photo volume. I guess I'll wait until iLife '07 comes out to upgrade since I can't just upgrade one program of the suite for less... Grrr.

Sometimes it really doesn't pay to be a perfectionist.

One year ago at TTaT: To the readers, lurkers (hey!), and passersby, Oddity
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20 December 2006

Looking for cheer?

Don't forget to check out The 2006 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert kindly hosted by Neil.

No singing from me, but I did send along a pic of Saturnalia greetings.

One year ago at TTaT: Non-binding estimate
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19 December 2006

Previously un-freakin'-heard of

Barring any unforeseen gift needs, I'm done. I was actually done shopping over a week ago, and today I'm done wrapping. Packages that needed to be mailed have been, and I'm even under budget by like a dollar and a half. As long as I resist the urge to buy more stuff because there's still time, I'm good.

This is so very much unfamiliar territory.

Even my wrapping mojo seems to have returned, though I attribute that mostly to cutting the paper so there's not much excess (absolutely key) and working on a table instead of the floor.

One year ago at TTaT: the anticlimax (plus tips), $482.55, Detach
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17 December 2006

Level-headed and responsible

Season 6 is probably my least favorite season of Buffy because the main characters all screw up so badly. For characters I'm so fond of, it can be hard to watch. Nonetheless, back in the summer, I started rewatching the whole series in order from the beginning, and here I am in the middle of season 6.

There's an episode where they talk about perpetually level-headed and responsible people being the ones you have to be most concerned about, the ones most likely to blow up. Human nature.

I recognize myself in that comment, but I feel like it's been more of an implosion. Affecting others very little, making it easy to ignore and making it easy for me to wallow in this state predominantly unchallenged.

One year ago at TTaT: Mall venture: audioblog #16
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15 December 2006

46

East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North illustrated by Kay Nielsen (4/5)

Norwegian folk tales with spectacular illustrations (just scroll down). The tales are familiar: rooms that shouldn't be entered while someone is away that just can't be resisted followed by pleading for forgiveness and second and third chances. Things turn out all right in these, but it makes me wonder about their message- it's certainly not heeding someone's command under pain of death. Also quite a bit of torture, violence, people who are really trolls, treasure, and royal weddings.

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14 December 2006

45

Portraits by Richard Avedon (3/5)

If I pick up the pace in these last couple weeks, I could still make 50 this year. Hmm. Not so important really... if it happens, it happens. I've got a few books waiting for me at the library as I type.

What else? Have you seen the Dunkin Donuts ad about ordering things simply instead of in French or Italian, or the punchline Fra-talian? I feel like yelling every time I see it. "Latte" is an Italian word.

Also, has anyone switched to blogger beta yet without ill effect? I've seen some grumblings about comment posting post-switch but no raves. Blogspot is stepping up their efforts to get people to convert, and I'm wondering if there's any real boon to doing so.

One year ago at TTaT: Night disturbances
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12 December 2006

Bad equation

Up later => less sleep = nausea

Actually, that's more of a theorem than an equation, but you get the idea. My body responds to not enough sleep by acting hungover without having had any of the good drunk times (or any alcohol for that matter). Blah.

Watching a couple eps of Buffy made me feel better though. If you have any Buffy-obsessed buds, season 7 is only $16.99 this week at BestBuy. That's a great price, just shy of 50% off.

One year ago at TTaT: Some progress
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10 December 2006

GGggrrRR

i feel like breaking things

but there's nothing here i can break

that i won't have to clean up


writing usually helps but...
maybe some aggressive guitar playing... singing... NOISE

One year ago at TTaT: A bit of business from last year...
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06 December 2006

Wrapping faux-pas

At the moment I had one piece of tape left to finish affixing the wrapping paper, I realized I hadn't checked the box for a price tag. D'oh! It was too tightly wrapped to slide the box back out and took quite a bit of paper, so I didn't want to have to start over from scratch.

Is it terrible that I'm justifying leaving a possible tag with the fact that my niece can't read yet? I hope I don't end up on Santa's Naughty list for taking the easy route. It's possible there isn't even a tag on it. If I had x-ray vision, I wouldn't be having this problem.

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the other side of Santa

I was at the mall doing some shopping yesterday and as I walked through the center of the mall, I thought maybe they didn't have Santa. I almost missed him entirely because he was at the far end of the mall in front of Sears, an odd stretch that is perpetually darker than the rest of the mall. No line, no kids. Just Santa chillin' with his (or possibly hers to be honest) photographing helper, looking kind of bummed. Not exactly with the perky holiday cheer making.

Later on, Mom pointed out that Santa was set up by the toy store which makes sense. It's just in this particular mall, that's the quietest and least frequented part of it. The food court, movies, and the still fairly new Target are all on the opposite end.

When I walked by Santa later, someone was getting set up for a photo and the energy seemed more upbeat which seemed good.

I was never much into sitting on Santa's lap when I was little. However, England Brothers (when it still existed, a department store from our pre-mall days) had an animatronic reindeer you could talk to which I loved. Maybe Rudolph or Prancer, I'm not sure. Much less stressful than interacting with some strange hairy guy. And at the time it made more sense to me; Santa had toys to make and lists to check after all, while the reindeer just had time to kill before the big night.

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Owls really are nocturnal

It was after 2:30 last night. I'd shut off the light, climbed into bed, closed my eyes. And then I heard an owl. So as not to be mistaken for something else, it hooted again. And again, and again. Eventually, it got what I think was a reply. There was an exchange and then the hooting receded as they flew somewhere else. Just as well, I hadn't really wanted to be up that late in the first place.

One year ago at TTaT: Beauty Parlor Nostalgia (part 2)
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04 December 2006

Cheapest coffee in LA and other [mis]adventures

So... lately I've been moody and preoccupied; the inspiration to write has been lagging. However, that just means it's time to dust off some pre-TTaT writing. Here's a couple days from my West coast life surrounding a moment of detour.

From May 3, 2003:


9 cents a cup. No joke. And it's good. Get it with cream. Corner of Ord and Alameda downtown. Philippe, the original French dip Sandwich. It's a converted boarding school, been open as a cafeteria style restaurant since 1908. Awesome. Split a ham and bleu cheese dip sandwich with O. Great lemonade too. Sawdust on the ground floor. Long tables like school and small halls and study-like rooms upstairs. Hooks on the wall to hang coats. Very mellow, cool place. Brick walls with names written all over them, dates, etc. Yeah, graffiti, but the names are pretty much self-contained to each brick, so there's a cool uniformity.

Also walked through Chinatown exploring with O which was cool. Even played some DDR, he'd never seen it. Only fifty cents too. Well, I played anyway and passed all 3 songs [even a 5 foot]. Woohoo.

Went to a great restaurant with O last night, Cha Cha Cha on Virgil. Cuban-Caribbean. The Salmon Negro was awesome. Loved the plantains too.

So yeah, still in LA. I had planned to head North today towards SF but got into an accident last night that crunched my car. I'm fine as are the other drivers. Wasn't my fault but will skip details till insurance stuff is sorted out. So anyway, will be here a bit to deal with this and get it fixed. Driveable but not pretty. And figure other drivers have insurance local to here so should be easier to get fixed here. Chillin' at O's tonight and heading to Rob, Paul, and John's tomorrow as Paulie's in Ireland now.

Went to a great Ansel Adams exhibit with Misho at LACMA yesterday. Awesome. And we got to see the tar pits! The tar bubbling up on the sidewalk with sandbags around it was almost more cool than the lake with the fake woolly mammoths. Figures they'd make it the mom stuck in the pit with dad and baby looking on. Misho poked around in it a bit with a stick. (Gotta love boys.) A random trumpet player on the other side really set the mood.

One year ago at TTaT: Sitting on my desk for months
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02 December 2006

Note to self

When a Frito is dark brown as though it's been burnt, don't be surprised when it tastes burnt.

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42

Diane Arbus by Diane Arbus, edited and designed by Doon Arbus and Marvin Israel (2.5/5)

Her photography mostly didn't grab me, though I found her people interesting, but it's a nicely designed book comprised of full-page photos. A few shots did make me stop: A flower girl at a wedding, Conn. 1964; A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, N.Y. 1970; Triplets in their bedroom, N.J. 1963; The King and Queen of a Senior Citizens Dance, N.Y.C. 1970; and Muscle man contestant, N.Y.C. 1968.

One year ago at TTaT: Shameless plug? Um, yeah...
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30 November 2006

40 & 41

40. Prisoner of Trebekistan: a decade in Jeopardy! by Bob Harris (4/5)

Yes, it's about being on Jeopardy!, but it's so much more than that. Autobiography, trivia, the pursuit of knowledge and how that differs from the memorization of facts, how to memorize things fast, winning, losing, and what's really important in life. And it's funny! Well worth checking out even if you're not a fan of the show.

Also, it's a chance to learn more about Jane Espenson which is a cool perk. And speaking of perks, his website has extras by page which you can enjoy as you read the book.


41. Brandt: The Photography of Bill Brandt by Bill Brandt (4/5)

My favorites are the atmospheric shots, several from London in the 1940s, others from the moors (think Bronte sisters), and Stonehenge. Some of his later nudes, strangely abstract, are also really interesting, as well as the documentary shot from WWII of people sleeping in the tube station that stretches on and on.

One year ago at TTaT: boy with brain
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27 November 2006

A bit of satisfaction

Firstly, I'm not one of those people who likes to clean or cleans when they're preoccupied (which is a shame really considering how often I am). Cleaning is just this recurring task that you never really get to cross off your list.

With my car it felt different though, perhaps because I know it'll likely be a long time before I do this again. It's not perfect- I didn't vacuum although it could use it and I didn't get to the back seat at all. Today was just wiping down the inside of the windshield, the dash, and all the other plastic-y surfaces within reach of the driver's seat. I'd forgotten I have an ashtray - obscured as it is by the drink holder thing I always leave open - and marveled at the fact I'd never wiped out the last vestiges of ash from my car's previous life as a rental.

I thought of when my car was broken into and how I was now wiping the front clean of all prints. Maybe it was more satisfying because it was so much easier than scrubbing the tiles clean in my bathroom. Anyway, my car has a Windex-y smell to it. Those Windex moistened towelettes are pretty handy for car cleaning.

Also, I checked my tire pressure, clearly long overdue because they were all running equally low. Filled 'em all up, including the spare which was lowest of all. I was hoping this would abate the loud road noise I'm hearing when I drive, but it didn't seem to have much effect. It might be all in my head. I hadn't really noticed it until my parents each mentioned it separately, and it's true that their car does run quieter than my model. It's just hard trying to remember how it sounded a few years ago for comparison. blarg.

Must remember to ask dad about tire/rim relationship to see if how mine look is ok. Maybe they just need to be balanced.

Anyway, my PSIs are correct, my tank is full, and my dash is free of grunge, so I'm feeling all right. Don't forget to check your spare tire!

One year ago at TTaT: Old Age and Permanent Ways
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26 November 2006

Found

I was just thinking of a friend I lost touch with; it's probably been less than a decade, but I think it's safe to say we haven't communicated this century though I've thought of her a number of times. We met in high school.

Her sister was in my class, and I was the first person to pronounce her name right, mainly because I took her word for how it was pronounced even though the spelling indicated otherwise. J was 2 years ahead of us, but J and I both worked at the local library. There we discovered we were kindred spirits (and that her mom makes the most rockin' chicken pot pie ever- my mom still makes it from her mom's recipe).

It's not even like we ever made plans to hang out: we just enjoyed each other's company when we crossed paths. When she left for college, we exchanged sporadic letters and postcards for a number of years. Cool letters, worth saving, and I have. Makes me miss real mail, though I confess my handwriting has gotten much worse the faster my typing has become.

Anyway, on a whim I googled her fairly distinctive name. I feel certain I'd tried this before with no luck, but this time there she was, with an email address and a string of accomplishments that are all news to me. I'm actually feeling a bit intimidated which is irrational...or not. Probably my subconscious thinking ahead to 'what do I say I've been doing for the past 6 or 7 years?' and how lame the answer seems.

Certainly better left for daylight hours.

One year ago at TTaT: More haiku- it is addictive
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22 November 2006

2nd Annual Thanksgiving Haikuathon

I enjoyed this so much last year, I'm bringing it back. Thanks, of course, to Cathy on whose blog I saw this idea first.

Just leave a comment telling me something about your Thanksgiving in a haiku. If there's enough participation, I'll put together a showcase post of the best ones in a couple days. I'll start:

Curried fruit is done
Already the house smells great:
Anticipation

What's up with mincemeat
pie? No meat? I might like it
if not for its name.

One year ago at TTaT: Slurge
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21 November 2006

I know where I want to go

Sure, there's the Louvre and the Eiffel tower, but if I ever get to France, I want to visit Mont Saint Michel. I think I'd seen a picture of it when I was a kid, but I'm pretty sure this was the first time it registered as a real place to me. Being a tidal island with a castle on top of it, it seems more suited to fairy tale books than real life.

I was setting the vcr to tape Prime Suspect 7 (a most excellent detective miniseries starring Helen Mirren) when In Search of Myths and Heroes was playing. It was halfway through the King Arthur episode, but I was quickly hooked because the cinematography and locations (including Mont Saint Michel) were spectacular. I'll have to remember to keep an eye out for the next episode on Shangri-La on PBS.

One year ago at TTaT: Life with chainsaws, 3-D, Envy
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20 November 2006

My brain is numb

Who knew there were so many DDR dance pads out there? I knew there were soft pads and hard pads, but I had no idea just how many were available (100+?). This is one of those unfortunate times when I know just enough about something to become totally OCD about my selection process. I thought I'd settle it this afternoon but no luck. I've narrowed it to a basic type, but there are still soooo many options and so many conflicting reviews. argh.

One year ago at TTaT: It wasn't in there
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18 November 2006

People are strange, myself included

I was sitting at the table last night after dinner, my empty plate still in front of me, when I started looking at my dad. He looked back at me, and then without word or gesture, we both understood that we were having an impromptu staring contest.

For a moment I wondered if it was fair without an official start. I was pretty sure I'd stopped blinking first, but then I dismissed the thought because the blinking frenzy that would typically precede an official start had never done me much good when I was a kid.

I could feel my eyes drying out. Dad kept my gaze steadily. My eyes started to water, but I compelled myself to resist spreading the lubricant with a blink. Hang on a little longer. It was actually a bit zen: I was very much in the moment.

And then he blinked.

My arms shot up over my head as I exclaimed, "I win! Woohoo!"

Mom shook her head at both of us. I couldn't argue with her bemused look: people are strange. Or if not strange, then naturally inclined to compete in inane manners.

One year ago at TTaT: No big surprise
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17 November 2006

39

Evidence 1944-1994 by Richard Avedon (4.5/5)

I think his headshot of Ezra Pound is my favorite. I'm not sure why: his eyes are squinted shut, the frame feels tight, a composition it's not likely I'd ever shoot, and yet it appeals to me. Or the two-shot of models in a cafe in Paris in 1948. It seems casual, a snapshot of friends chatting over a smoke, but to know Avedon's work is to realize his photos are meticulously designed. So cool. And so many shots I'd be proud, nay ecstatic, to say I had done... but landscape and architecture seem to be where my brain is fixed: that which is there as opposed to that which is conscientiously designed and/or fabricated.

The book is a compilation of 50 years worth of studio, exhibition, and fashion photography by Richard Avedon. With pages measuring 11"x14", one gets a nice view of the reproductions. Two essays, one by Jane Livingston and the other by Adam Gopnik, make up the text of the book. Livingston's essay "The Art of Richard Avedon" accompanies the photographs, revealing context and background information about the subjects of photos and Avedon's life and work of the time. Many quotes from Avedon regarding his work are also included as well as commentary on how various photos and exhibitions (and his presentation) were received by the public and art critics. The book is laid out very well in terms of matching up the text to the photos discussed. Most often, they exist within the same two-page spread.

Gopnik's essay "The Light Writer" is a bit of an oddity. It exists by itself with no photographic accompaniment and alternates mostly between a discussion of Avedon's book An Autobiography and a story about an afternoon with Avedon in New York City told in the 3rd person with details that could not be believed unless Gopnik was the friend accompanying Avedon on that excursion. The essay feels like it belongs in An Autobiography rather than here. (I probably would have given this book 5/5 if this essay were absent.)

Following the second essay is a photographic timeline coupling events from Avedon's life with exhibition pieces from the same time periods. A list of solo exhibitions, and an extensive bibliography split into books by Avedon and books about him are also included. A picture index completes the book. Even if you're not interested in the text, the book is a nice scale for perusing over 600 photographs.

One year ago at TTaT: Just wait five minutes, It's just my nature
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16 November 2006

30 Rock

It was in the 60s today, overcast, but with a high enough humidity to feel warm: nice. The weather shift totally screwed with my sinuses and such though; I slept almost 11 hours and still feel grogged and headachy.

As a nice perk for the day though, I discovered that the iTunes Store is offering my favorite (to-date) episode of 30 Rock for free this week. Always good to have something that makes you laugh handy and Tina Fey makes me laugh.

One year ago at TTaT: It's pouring
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14 November 2006

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 10

(Days: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine)

26/viii/04: Concordia, MO to Troy, IL
208 miles/335 km

I hate low shower heads. The shower head at the Concordia Days Inn was particularly low. However, despite the irritating start and unappealing weather, the day was pretty entertaining. I was in the "Show Me" state and indulged in a few roadside attractions. I grabbed a quick bite at Subway in Kingdom City before checking out Ozarkland and its red sparkling roof sign.

Ozarkland

What an impressive array of junk! Cheap jewelry, moccasins, fireworks, t-shirts, knives, wood crafts. They did have some cool metal Harley signs though and a computer with free internet access. Finally a chance to check and send some email.

Nostalgiaville Flamingos

The same highway exit boasted Nostalgiaville, home to an impressive selection of memorabilia and collectibles: novelty signs; vintage signs; Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman lunch boxes, banks, and notebooks; posters, magnets, mugs, Elvis, The Wizard of Oz, Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe, poodle skirts and more. I bought a Mustang sign for a friend and some other trinkets for stocking stuffers.

Nostalgiaville Novelty Signs

Outside, I took some photos of the place. My California tags caught an old guy's interest before he walked inside. It was another amazingly hot day. It was so humid my nostrils burned as if I was trying to breathe underwater. I'd thought about hitting the zoo in St. Louis later but nixed the idea.

Back on the highway, I passed several beautiful watering holes: blue water with little wind ripples. Then I caught up to the storms again: lightning, dark skies, and heavy rain. Around 5, I was close to St. Louis; it was raining so heavily it was hard to see in addition to being rush hour, so I stopped at a Bob Evans for dinner. There was no wait (yet again), so I was out in half an hour. On my way to my car, I felt a couple of large raindrops, got in, and then it started pouring again. Hmm, stay or go. It was further into rush hour at this point and was actually raining heavier, so I decided to wait a bit.

5:54P Well my car's getting a serious bath. Windy too. Geez it was clearer before I pulled off. Now there's lightning too. I will wait. Damn- this wind is rocking my car. That's a bit nerve racking. Tornado? I see how it picks stuff up now. Blah. Maybe I will just stop here. Can't tell which way this is blowing.

A bit later, the rain finally eased up, so I got back on the highway. Two complete rainbows, one above the other, were visible. I was used to seeing pieces of arches but couldn't recall having seen two with both ends reaching the ground before.

In St. Louis, I parked in a lot by the waterfront and walked to see the Gateway Arch. I took some shots of this bridge along the way. The lower level of it was for trains while the upper part was for motor vehicles.

Bridge right Bridge left

Gateway Arch 2 Gateway Arch 1It was well after seven when I reached the Gateway Arch, and I still had further to drive to find somewhere inexpensive for the night, so I didn't take the tram ride inside or check out the museum beneath it. I was content to enjoy the shape and scale of the arch and the post-storm magic hour light awash over the city. (The photos were shot with color film and are unaltered.)

Crossing the river, radio stations went from K to W. I stopped in Troy, IL not far over the border and discovered that my cell battery was not low, there were crickets in my room. I was really tired but they wouldn't shut up, so I listened keenly, tracked, and caught them. There were two and I squished them between motel plastic cups. I'd wanted to let them go, but motel windows don't open and I was already in my pajamas. I mentioned I was tired, right? No plus karma points for Claire.

At 5:45 AM, I was awakened by The Tell-Tale Cricket, outside I think, but loud.

(NEXT>>>)

One year ago at TTaT: Shatter, Sniffed
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13 November 2006

the complete vlogs of TTaT

Run times are in minutes:seconds.

  • Vlog #20 (1:01) Hoodie Holiday Rap, an original song

  • Vlog #19 (0:26) Local Jungle, by a river after a storm

  • Vlog #18 (3:05) Kinetic sculpture in motion, autumn

  • Vlog #17 REMOVED

  • Vlog #16 (2:30) Drawing winners for note card giveaway

  • Vlog #15 (0:26) Burning matches

  • Vlog #14 (1:08) Heavy snow fall, snow covered trees

  • Vlog #13 (1:17) Kinetic sculpture in motion, blustery sunny winter day

  • Vlog #12 (0:31) Owl in my backyard

  • Vlog #11 (0:55) Kinetic sculpture in motion, winter night

  • Vlog #10 (0:55) Kinetic sculpture in motion, winter day

  • Vlog #9 (0:52) Holes in my WYSIWYG shirt

  • Vlog #8 (0:29) Fiery remnants

  • Vlog #7 (2:26) Kinetic sculpture in motion

  • Vlog #6 (0:31) The Bears (stop-motionish series of photos)

  • Retrovlog #1 (1:45) A Taste of the Jam (trying to slam dunk in 1992)

  • Vlog #5 (0:26) Creating chalk art (stop-motionish series of photos)

  • Vlog #4 (1:03) Catnap

  • Vlog #3 (0:14) Blue Juice Rumble (stop-motion animation)

  • Vlog #2 REMOVED

  • Vlog #1 (0:39) Burn, baby, burn!


  • tags: ,

    Tempted

    It may seem early to be thinking about my xmas list, but if the past few years are any indication, if I wait until the first week of December, my parents will say, "oh, we've already done our shopping."

    So... I'm thinking about what I could use and/or want. And I kind of want a video game system. I know, I know. If not for DDR, I'm sure this never would've come up. It's been ages since I've played and I miss it; it's fun and a good workout. If I had unlimited cash and lots of extra space, I'd probably buy an arcade version of it or a Bowflex machine. However, things such as they are, a small console that could play other stuff too sounds more reasonable. The motion-sensor controller of the Wii definitely has some appeal. Or maybe the more price-friendly PS2 while it's still available since it has several DDR games for it.

    On the other hand, I might never be seen from again if I had such a thing at home. Maybe it'd just mean less time on the internet though...and that wouldn't be a bad thing. Right? Hmm.

    One year ago at TTaT: All you have to do to sell it is commit
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    11 November 2006

    Thumbs up!

    It was a bit of a drive to get to a theater playing Running With Scissors for me, but it was well worth it. Such great performances cast-wide (Annette Bening, Evan Rachel Wood, Joseph Cross, Alec Baldwin, and Jill Clayburgh, just to name a few). Cool soundtrack. Based on Augusten Burrough's memoir of his crazy childhood. See it before it moves on. At the very least, check out the movie's very cool website. Just click "Enter the site" on this page.

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    Blue Juice Rumble


    (run time 0:14)

    Back in the days of undergrad, I did rather like Hi-C Wild Berry, 'blue juice' as I called it. This little animation is one of my favorite film creations for how much it's able to successfully convey in such a short period of time.

    (Other vlogs of TTaT)


    One year ago at TTaT: The Expedition
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    08 November 2006

    Third time's a charm

    After two too weak novocaine experiences, my Battlestar Galactica-loving dentist shot me up with a heavy-hitting anesthetic. Numb all the way to the middle of my lip? Heck yeah, and then some thanks.

    Grey, pouring, but not cold: as good a day as any to get a filling. I remembered to bring a book this time. As much as I love tv, I don't feel like watching it at the dentist's. Unfortunately the book I'm actually reading now is coffee table sized, so I grabbed a paperback from my shelf only to discover later it was one of those cheesy unauthorized biographies. It seems to stress the staff out a little bit when I opt to sit quietly, like I'm a guest refusing the offer of something to drink.

    In addition to the remote, he offered the magazines and newspapers from the waiting room, but newspaper ink makes me sneeze and the germophobe in me just doesn't want to touch magazines that have been pawed over by countless people.

    The filling went well, but my cheek is still so numb that I'm not supposed to talk or eat until it wears off in a few hours. I just feel like taking a nap.

    In other news, one of the ballot questions for my town lost by TWO votes. I voted yes and my parents voted no. Ggrrr.

    One year ago at TTaT: sequel to the prequel
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    07 November 2006

    Don't forget to VOTE!

    Vote411.org has all sorts of handy election information: polling places, candidate information, ballot measures, ID requirements. So read up on your candidates and issues if you haven't already and vote today.

    One year ago at TTaT: Distraction
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    06 November 2006

    I'm the crazy one

    I'm the crazy one. There, I've said it. It's been like a mantra for the past week that I just can't shake. I'd consider writing about it but would get wrapped up in something else for a while and then it'd be back: I'm the crazy one.

    Some people travel through life with a grace and aplomb when interacting with other people. In a moment of drama, they naturally diffuse it instead of exacerbating the situation. My friend Splice is like that, and I've tried to emulate that approach, but only with scattered success. It doesn't come naturally to me, knowing not to take things too seriously. Splice, for example, would never see the inciting incident as drama in the first place; whatever it was wouldn't become a big deal because it never was one to her.

    My default mode is literal. I never expected that assuming people mean what they say would result in me coming across as the unbalanced one when I tried to do or say what I thought was right in response. No doubt I'm overthinking it even now.

    I just want to shake this mantra. Although it does remind me I should take things less seriously, it's not helping me adopt a more happy-go-lucky attitude.

    One year ago at TTaT: tip of the week
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    05 November 2006

    the train bridge vlog

    So... that train bridge documentary I mentioned the other day? This is it. Please don't judge it too harshly. We weren't allowed to use light meters yet (it was only the second film I ever shot) and reversal film is unforgiving, like slides so you can't correct for exposure after it's shot.

    Also, the original transfer from film to VHS wasn't perfect to begin with (as you'll see), and if I think too much about the lens and gate filthiness, I will ditch this post altogether. So without further ado...

    REMOVED.

    Enjoy!

    (Other vlogs of TTaT)


    One year ago at TTaT: The tipping point, prequel to the sequel?
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    03 November 2006

    Suspension of disbelief?

    When you yank a necklace off someone's neck, doesn't it break?

    I've seen this in so many movies and tv shows, including this week's Veronica Mars, that it got me wondering. If you're a thief, aren't you damaging your loot?

    I imagine there's some percentage of necklaces with loose clasps where this approach might work, but I would think most would break adjacent to the clasp. Unless it was a thick chain or leather cord. Anyone? The necklaces I might be willing to experiment on are out of reach in storage at the moment.

    One year ago at TTaT: At the bar after the wedding reception
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    02 November 2006

    38, I miss Spalding Gray

    Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue by Spalding Gray (4/5)

    If you don't know who Spalding Gray was, you should. Go rent and watch Swimming to Cambodia or Monster in a Box or Gray's Anatomy. I'll wait. Seriously. You're not going to believe me if I tell you a guy wearing a plaid shirt sitting behind a table on which there is only a glass of water, a notebook, and a microphone is absolutely engaging. His storytelling changed theater.

    His monologues evolved during workshops and were honed during performances. They were published later like epic tales of old were written down long after they were first told. Life Interrupted is the last monologue he was working on before he committed suicide. Like his other pieces, Life Interrupted is based on events in his life, finding the humorous twists to new difficulties.

    The book contains two companion monologues as well as numerous eulogies from family, friends, and colleagues (many of which did make me cry). His life had a tumultuous end, but this book is an understanding and celebratory tribute. I miss you too, Spalding Gray.

    One year ago at TTaT: Eye Contact (intermezzo)
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    31 October 2006

    Trick or Treat

    AlienWhat must be present to constitute a parade? Having attended my town's Halloween parade this evening (that's right, baby, we celebrate on the day no matter when it falls in the week), I feel equipped to answer that question now.

    Firetrucks with flashing lights are a must. We had not one but two kick off the proceedings. They were followed by a truck towing a cart full of kids in costumes with instruments. 5th graders, I'd guess, who played Louie Louie five or six times over the duration of the parade. Band, check.

    Then came the mass of children (and some parents too) bedecked in Halloween finery walking down one side of Main Street. There was a cop directing traffic at the start, but they didn't actually close the whole road down for it. Capping the costumed pedestrians (I rather liked the dinosaurs I saw) was an ambulance with its lights flashing. And that was it. Well, for me; I had to get home for our trick or treating window in case anyone showed up. The parade revelers wound up at the big party at the Community Center. Peeled grapes, costume contests, all that good stuff.

    The photo above is my award-winning alien costume from 1981. I'm holding my huge Hershey bar prize.

    ******************
    On another Halloween note, my mom was telling me about one of the years I went as a vampire. I must've been in early elementary school because I was missing my front teeth. Like every good vampire, however, I wore fangs as part of my costume. Unfortunately, I got upset because no one recognized me with the fake teeth in. Mom is still laughing about it.

    Happy Halloween, everybody!

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    Heights, old and new

    Chimneys aren't what they used to be, or what I imagined they used to be. No longer do small children get lowered in with brushes to sweep them clean from the inside, and Santa has more than blazing fires to be concerned about with the proliferation of narrow flues. Not so narrow as to prevent the occasional flying squirrel that glides to our roof Batman-style from finding its way into our basement, however.

    Really, I'm not a fan of the rodent family, particularly when something wild finds its way indoors only to knock things over and chew through stuff in an effort to get back outside. As soon as I learned about chimney caps, small covers which go on top of flues, I volunteered to climb to the roof to install them. That was back in the summer when the weather was warm and fair. Needing to borrow a ladder from a neighbor was enough of an excuse for my dad to keep postponing the task. There was always other more pressing stuff to do, and it was clear it was not something he really felt like doing; as gungho as I was, I would require his help.

    Last week, I brought it up again because we'd soon have ice and then it would have to wait until next year. He was game and put in a call for the ladder, a lightweight extension model made of aluminum. The first thing I would have to do is climb up and measure the three flues so we could buy the proper sized chimney caps. Heights have never bothered me much so I didn't consider it as we raised the ladder's extension.

    Growing up, I regularly climbed trees as high as the branches would allow, 90 feet give or take. It was peaceful up there, looking down on roofs and people reduced to model train sized figures. I'd pack a napsack with some biscuits and juice for an aerial snack. I never feared falling: there were a lot of branches, and I was both careful and a good judge of which ones could hold my weight; falling was never an issue, I trusted myself.

    Today, however, I felt like a pussy just climbing a ladder to the top of a chimney on a two-storey house. In a word, the ladder was springy. It felt like if I moved too energetically up or down the rungs, the whole thing would spring away from the house like some violent cartoon where the ladder would crush me into the ground like a hammer. If I hadn't just watched my dad climb up a few rungs and jiggle the top away from the roof to straighten the ladder, this might not've come to mind so vividly.

    Also, to keep it lightweight, the rungs were narrow, so for stability I felt more comfortable holding the sides than the rungs, which is fine but only until you're falling. When I reached the portion where the two ladder lengths overlapped, I was paranoid about kicking the ratcheting mechanism- that we'd used to extend the ladder- loose, prompting the upper section to clatter down, inevitably pushing me off. In a moment of reason, I thought to myself: If that were actually possible, this would be a really poor ladder design. I cleared the overlap section and then the ladder became springier. The wind picked up, so I paused for a moment before continuing my vertical wedding march: step, together, step, together; except without alternating legs.
    I'd used the same step pattern when I started walking across a burnt out train bridge over the Hudson River to shoot my film partner's documentary in college. The first 30 or so railroad ties were charred and uneven from the fire that closed the bridge in 1974. My partner had been out there before with a guide, so he walked with confidence. I took them slowly, one tie at a time.

    The railroad ties were 9 inches wide and about a foot apart, but there was nothing beneath them, just the river 212 feet below. We were careful not to drop any of our equipment. Every thirty feet, there was a metal girder about two feet wide which provided a break from the stress of traversing the wood ties that were inches shorter than my shoes.

    Once we were well past the burnt section, I became more accustomed to the ties and started walking normally across them. A severe ropes course, I suppose, but with no harnesses. It still took a long time to walk even halfway across the bridge, so we had our snack break out there, sitting on adjacent metal girders, yelling back and forth to be heard over the wind. When I saw his cut of the footage, his music choice sounded incongruous to me: smooth jazz drained the imagery of peril and completely disconnected the film from my adrenaline-saturated experience shooting it.
    Near the top of the ladder, I read the notice by the rung above which one should not stand for the very balance issue the springiness had made me concerned about. Even when you obey that notice, the catch is that you run out of ladder to hang onto as you finish your ascent. I could reach the top of the chimney, but there was no lip to grasp, it was a flat ledge. My loose-from-use work gloves made my grip feel even more tenuous. Stepping to the next rung, I could feel the top of one of the flues which gave me more to hang onto, but when I reached the top, I saw that the flues were made of tile and wouldn't hold my weight for long if I lost my footing.

    Once I was there, leaning against the chimney, I felt fine. I pulled a piece of paper from my back pocket, and a pencil and tape measure from my jacket. Images of the tape measure falling down one of the flues kept crossing my mind, but I reassured myself that that was better than dropping it down the side of the house where my dad was steadying the ladder (not that it felt like his efforts were making any difference).

    Climbing down, I took the same slow care with each rung. I feel like I'm becoming more of a wuss as I get older. Hopefully it'll be a little less windy and a little warmer tomorrow.

    When I got out of bed the next morning, I was reminded that climbing ladders is more strenuous than it appears; the moment I bent my right leg, my quadriceps burned with strain. The weather had cooperated with a sunny, calm day, and Dad had purchased the three chimney caps we needed, so we forged ahead.

    Climbing up was less stressful because this time the ladder was nestled in beside the chimney which gave it a bit more stability. About three quarters of the way up, I had to switch the bucket of tools that was hanging from the crook of my right elbow to my left because the chimney was in the way. I leaned into the ladder and let go of it, so I could pass the bucket behind me. Once I reached the top, I surveyed the slope of the roof, the position of the ladder and chimney, and concluded that I would have to step off the ladder to the downward side of the roof. I laid my right arm on top of the chimney for balance and was about to shift to the roof when Dad yelled something.

    I froze and yelled, "What?!"

    I looked down over my shoulder and he repeated his direction, "Hang the bucket off the ladder."

    To keep the bucket from getting in my way as I stepped to the roof, I would have to hang it from the right side which meant changing hands again. This time, I was able to swap the bucket in front of the ladder, but the angle was awkward for hanging it. "The handle's not long enough!"

    "Sorry!" he called from below.

    I set the bucket gingerly on the roof, and when it didn't slide, I resumed the position I'd had before Dad yelled and stepped onto the roof. With two strides, I was safely straddling the peak and able to hang the bucket on the ladder. It was angled out quite a bit, but from this position, I could see that it wasn't going to spill its contents.

    Dad brought up our modified chimney caps and between the two of us, me on the roof and him on the ladder, we got them attached to the flues. I offered to climb over and clean off the gutter diverters above the doors, but Dad recommended moving the ladder to them instead, so I wouldn't have to walk across the roof. He climbed down with the bucket while I admired the view. Our yard seemed much more open from my roof vantage.

    "OK!" he yelled up.

    It was my turn to come down. Again, I surveyed my surroundings, but this time I was facing the yard, aka the drop. Stepping off the roof onto the ladder was a pure don't think too much lesson: believe in myself, trust my body not to step off into nothingness to fall 35 feet.

    I trusted myself more back in the days when I was climbing trees than I do now climbing ladders.

    One year ago at TTaT: tip of the week- Medium, Spawn of the ladybug, blargh- or was that blog?
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    29 October 2006

    Pinky pain

    With every bend today, my right pinky joint has proclaimed that it's winter. We did, in fact, get our first snow of the season today though nothing stuck to the ground. Mostly it's very windy.

    I have a recent escapade in progress, but it definitely needs more work because I was grogged and very tangential when I started writing it. With the time change (and the odd fact that I seem to be doing things an hour later, which is actually 2 hours later) I'm not feeling particularly clear-headed today. Soon though.

    And then there's the pink pain of my blog. Only two more days!

    Enough typing. Ow.

    One year ago at TTaT: Closet thoughts
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    27 October 2006

    37

    Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff (4.5/5)

    The front cover of the book describes it as: "The Indignities of Coach Class, the Torments of Low Thread Count, the Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems." Rakoff explores the "problems" over the course of several 10-20 page essays with a great deal of wit; his deft satire gives the book thought-provoking depth.

    Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends come to mind in the essays where Rakoff forays into environments of wealth, privilege, and vanity. His outsider's view of events lures the reader in. About every other page has a sentence or two I want to copy down and stick to my wall, so I reckon I should just buy the book.

    Watch him make Jon Stewart laugh here. It was enough to hook me.

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    26 October 2006

    Breaking points are necessary...

    ...apparently. In the past few days, I've become completely fed up with folding my t-shirts. I've complained about my closet before, but I can't believe it took me this long to realize some parts of its configuration do not provide any support to the main structure.

    closetThe basket above the stuffed animals, for example, was hanging from the shelf above by two plastic clips and two twist-ties. The very irritating little shelf above and to the right of Odie's head had a clip on the post but was mainly affixed to the wall. Same with the shelf the animals are on. But no more!

    I ripped them all out. My t-shirts will hang tonight!

    One year ago at TTaT: Coming in second, The old days of Bravo
    tag:

    25 October 2006

    Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

    Dear NBC,

    I've watched every episode of Studio 60 since it began, and I really like it. If you cancel it, I will be seriously bummed, and I will think less of you for doing so. There's nothing else that I make a point of watching each week on your station.

    Don't blow it.

    Thanks,
    Claire of TTaT
    Kevin Apgar

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    Yacht Rock

    Hmm, how to describe Yacht Rock? Well, if you ever wondered about the origins of the smooth rock of the 70s and 80s, these clever webisodes will give you the humorous answers. With a cast of Hall & Oates, Kenny Loggins, Steely Dan, Toto, and more, how can you go wrong?

    One year ago at TTaT: For a moment..., It's about bloody time
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    24 October 2006

    The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 9

    (Days: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight)

    25/viii/04: Abilene, KS to Concordia, MO
    207 miles/333 km

    My first stop was a Walmart Supercenter in Topeka. It was the largest one I'd ever been to including a full size grocery store, Subway, and other vendors. I picked up 5 rolls of Fuji 200 and 5 pairs of socks since I was about to run out of clean pairs. A local radio station announced a nickel size hail warning would be in effect for another 13 minutes for a county I might've been in (counties weren't marked on my map). I drove over to a Cracker Barrel for lunch hoping to give the storm a chance to move ahead of me.

    The bacon was burnt to perfection, but my waitress noticed my eggs were overdone and put in another order for them before she'd even brought out the first batch. Her attention to detail was inspired. I started on the biscuits (also excellent) and my second batch of eggs were out just a few minutes later. She even gave me an iced tea refill in a to-go cup. The service is usually fine when I dine alone, but I really appreciated the extra effort she went to and tipped accordingly.

    When I paid my bill at the register, I got the name of the county we were in, Shawnee. It was raining when I left but there was no sign of hail.

    The myriad adoption-not-abortion signs in Kansas made me wonder if there were more unplanned pregnancies there because there was less sex ed. Maybe it was just a response to all the Passions Adult Superstores I kept passing.

    Union Station windowMid-afternoon, I stopped in Kansas City, on the Missouri side, to check out Union Station. It was pouring when I arrived, so I started shooting indoors.

    Storm clouds kept it somewhat dark inside but as they passed, the overcast sky brightened the large halls.

    Flag Hall Chandelier

    vertical flag
    (Image available for sale at my shop.)

    When the rain eased up, I took some exterior shots. Union Station,
    Union Station Union Station WS
    The Liberty Memorial across the street,
    Liberty Monument
    And then several of or from "The Link," a raised, glass-enclosed walkway connecting Union Station to the Westin Crown Center.
    the Link Link View 2
    Kansas City Skyline Link View 1
    Link Reflection
    ("The Link" image is available for sale at my shop on a variety of products.)

    side hallAs I walked back through Union Station to get to my car, I spotted this side room blocked off for (I think) a wedding the next day. I furtively ducked through the curtains and snapped a quick shot.

    Western AutoAscending the parking exit ramp, I spotted this excellent structure and pulled over to shoot it from my car window. (The Western Auto image is available for sale at my shop on a variety of products.)

    The humidity was intense, but I did get to see a rainbow as I drove out of KC.

    About an hour away is Concordia, MO where I planned to stop for the night. I took a sunset drive down South Main St., an old strip with lots of abandoned and empty store fronts. Streets branching off had some businesses, but the main drag looked dead. I found my way back to Biffle's Smoke House BBQ for dinner. Wood paneling, sort of cafeteria style, but tasty.

    In Limon and Abilene, the water had been hot even from the cold tap, but in Concordia, cold once again meant cold.

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    One year ago at TTaT: tip of the week- even better, A little mischief
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