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!

tags: , , ,

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?
tags: ,, , , , , , , ,

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
tags: , ,

27 October 2006


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.

tags: , , ,

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

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.

Claire of TTaT
Kevin Apgar

tags: ,

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
tags: , , , , ,

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.


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

22 October 2006

M&Ms meet Hieronymus Bosch

50 Dark Movies Hidden in a Painting.

It's not really a work by Bosch, but the mood is quite similar. Discover the dark movie titles by solving visual puzzles within the painting. So far I've gotten 31 out of 50 even though I've never cared for horror movies. Not bad. I still feel like I'm missing some that are probably obvious though.

Yup, make that 36.

tags: , , , ,


Compared with many blogs I read, this milestone has been a long time in coming: 10,000 hits. Several months ago, this slow (and essentially meaningless) progress bothered me but not so much anymore. This morning it occurred to me that like my life, my blog is a road less taken, and that is a fine place to be.

To everyone who's made TTaT a regular stop on their journeys across the blogosphere (and especially to those who comment!), you have my sincere thanks.

Here's to the next milestone whether it's real or perceived.

tags: ,

my 25 favorite tv characters ever

I saw a version of this at Kapgar yesterday, but I first saw this at Javi's a couple months ago.

the rules:

- no puppets or cartoons.
- no mini-series.
- no reality show people.
- all characters must be regulars on the show.

In no particular order:

1. Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) Magnum, P.I.- Hawaii, mysteries, outrunning dobermans to the ferrari, Vietnam flashbacks, and a little voice that gets him through it all.
2. Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Geller) BtVS- "Kicking ass is comfort food."
3. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) BtVS- Such a great character evolution, goddess indeed.
4. Spike, William the Bloody (James Marsters) BtVS anyone? Contagious evil glee!
5. Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas) Wonderfalls- 14 eps is not nearly enough of this character, stupid Fox. She is that rare cynical character that you do actually love.
6. KC Koloski (Marg Helgenberger) China Beach- Damaged, ambitious, quite the entrepeneur, tough, a survivor. Been a Marg fan ever since.
7. Colleen McMurphy (Dana Delaney) China Beach- Really one of the best shows ever; they should put it on dvd.
8. River Tam (Summer Glau) Firefly- More Joss Whedon?
9. Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) Firefly- Looks like. I'd totally include Faith, but she was never credited as a regular on BtVS.
10. Dr. Who (Tom Baker and David Tennant) Dr. Who- One set of clothes really can suffice for any time and situation.
11. Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) Veronica Mars- Smart and savvy teen detective runs down her own clues backed up by Mr. Sparky. May she have a long and glorious reign on The CW.
12. Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) Smallville- Insatiable curiosity tempered only by steadfast loyalty.
13. Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) The Closer- If ever you had any doubt that you should get an attorney when you speak to the police, watching her in action will dispel it.
14. Alan Shore (James Spader) Boston Legal- A bit of a lech, but generous and able to compellingly argue any case.
15. Shirley Schmidt (Candace Bergen) Boston Legal- Showing sexy and desirable need not be limited to the young.
16. Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black) Stargate: SG1- A late but most welcome addition to the series. Smart and sexy thief/con artist who can take care of herself joins the team to fight the good fight.
17. Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter) Designing Women- Pure class.
18. Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) ST: DS9- Love that voice. Being set on a space station gave his character the benefit of more development than the other series' captains imo.
19. President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) BSG- Just because she was the Secretary of Education doesn't mean she can't be badass and make the tough decisions.
20. Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda) CSI- A young man with eclectic interests who gave up more profitable lab work to find his way fighting crime in the field.
21. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) Grey's Anatomy- blunt but not so unflappable as she'd like everyone to believe.
22. Paris Geller (Liza Weil) Gilmore Girls- taking tactlessness to a whole new level. Remember when Liza played the wife of the schizophrenic who killed Lucy and stabbed Carter on ER? Oh how far she's come, and grateful am I to see her comedic work.
23. Claire Fisher (Lauren Ambrose) Six Feet Under- The eyerolling looks she gives her mother and brothers? Priceless. I've only seen a couple seasons so far, so I'm looking forward to catching the rest as it unfolds on Bravo.
24. Dr. Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) Frasier- Intellectual, cultured and clueless. Not often you get to see a man swoon on tv.
25. CJ Cregg (Allison Janney) West Wing- charm and disarm

As Joss said, "I reserve the right to wake up tomorrow and scream bloody murder at remembering the 25 I actually like much better. In fact, I think I'll do it now. BLOODY MURRDERRRR!!!!!"

One year ago at TTaT: Struggling to do the wrong thing
tags: ,

21 October 2006

Better and better

Did you watch Battlestar Galactica last night? No? Well, you should've. Those battle sequences were spectacular as well as strategically inspired.

Not into space battles (though why wouldn't you be?)? Rest assured, there's lots of story and character development framing everything. There's some seriously cool drama afoot.

One year ago at TTaT: Dagnabbit, Tomito!
tags: ,

20 October 2006

Hello, ABC.com?

Last night I decided to tape Ugly Betty and give it a shot, but I thought it was just a half hour show, so I missed the second half. I was somewhat buoyed when at the end of Grey's Anatomy, they mentioned that the episode would be available for free at ABC.com, so I figured there was a shot that the Ugly Betty episode would be available as well.

It is, but the patent pending "ABC.com Full Episode Player" totally BLOWS! Seriously, it's been frozen for over 20 minutes now during which time I've had no trouble watching some stuff on YouTube (alas not the UB ep. in question). Streams of 20-30 seconds every 20-30 minutes do not a good full episode player make.

tags: , ,

Downs and Ups

Well, I gave audioblogger another shot this afternoon, but it seems to have blown it again. Grr.

It's fairly miserable out today, strong winds and rain varying from sprinkles to downpours. Nonetheless, there were errands to run so out I went. As a perk for venturing out, I thought I'd check out the new Dick's Sporting Goods store that just opened. I pulled into the turn lane, waited for the arrow to become green, and then stared down the idiot whose car was in the right-hand lane facing me. A pickup was next to him in the proper lane, so there was no way to get around the jerk. The entrance to the lot was clearly marked with a double yellow line to separate in from out. The moron finally got the idea and started to inch his car towards the correct lane, but there really wasn't anywhere he could go with the pickup truck there, so I flipped him off and drove up to the next light to do a U-turn.

I'm tempted to say that I gave him the finger before he tried inching out of the wrong lane to seem less rude, but I'm not convinced it happened in that order. The two events occurred almost simultaneously, so it's hard to say.

On the upside, Dick's was very cool. Usually chain stores in this area are what my mom would call "third tier," or smaller with less selection. Dick's was a pleasant surprise being as large as any I've ever seen, possibly larger, and with a wide variety and selection of most everything they carried. I could live without all the hunting gear, but after watching the Green Arrow in action on Smallville last night, the bow selection did have more appeal than usual.

Still, it's not like I'll be buying anything there any time soon unless I win their grand opening $1000 shopping spree or the lottery. That'd be sweet even if deciding what to get would be challenging. As fond as I am of the Total Gym infomercials, I think one of the Bowflex machines would suit my affinity for leg extensions and prone leg curls better. The big machines seem sturdier too, although the size would be problematic. Join a gym, you say? I'm just not a gym person. I'd much rather work out at home.

When I got back to my car, the windows were all fogged on the inside. Since I bought my car in CA, it doesn't have a rear defrost, so I let the front defroster/air combo run for a bit. A message on my cell informed me that mom had forgotten to pick up lottery tickets and asked me to pick some up if I felt like it. The windshields were clearing up, but the rain was still beating down and shifting violently in the wind.

You can't win if you don't play.

I stopped at a mini-mart on the way home and filled out a card with the usual numbers. The woman at the register had helped me on other various occasions, but this time she asked me for ID. I laughed, slid out my license from my wallet and handed it to her.

Upon examining my birthdate, she uttered, "Oh, you're not that young."

"No," I affirmed, shaking my head.

"Good for you!" she proclaimed.

I smiled and said, "Thanks."

Now if they'd just draw my numbers tonight...

One year ago at TTaT: The New Desktop
tags: , , , ,

19 October 2006

The Go-To Name

It started for me with the Huxtables. In the mid-eighties, I regularly got to hear my name on tv. However, most people latched onto The Breakfast Club, gleefully quoting, "It's a fat girl's name," to which there is no suitable reply (which you'll understand if you've seen the movie). Later, but before Heath Ledger got famous, I enjoyed his lilting brogue as he addressed his fiancee with my name in the early episodes of Roar.

Though Claire seems to be a long-term screenwriter's favorite, its ubiquitous tv presence these days is unnerving me. Right now you can see a Claire in each of the following: Lost, the reruns of Six Feet Under on Bravo, Heroes, Boston Legal, reruns of Law & Order; and more peripherally on Veronica Mars, Grey's Anatomy, and in the reruns of Dead Like Me on SciFi. I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting at the moment (and I'm not even going to get into movies) but my point is ok, that's enough.

One year ago at TTaT: I have an underwear drawer!
tags: , ,

17 October 2006

Fine, be that way!

Well. I recorded not one but two audioblogs this afternoon and damn it all if they just aren't here. I commented on my dismay that audioblogger is closing shop at the end of this month, but if this is how it's gonna be then, fine, close up shop!

They're supposed to continue hosting posts made before Nov. 1, so all my old audioblogs should still be available. (Gotta figure out how to back those up...)

Anyway, I praised AAA for giving me 2 USA maps without a second thought. I'd been all prepared to explain why I needed two instead of one. Now I'm sort of wishing I'd asked for more as I think this art inspiration I've had could easily become a large series. I can always go back, I suppose, since she didn't take down my card number or anything. At any rate, I was pretty happy about that.

On the way there, I had a few bags to drop off at the Salvation Army. Their donation point is on the side of an industrial building, most of which has been empty for years. Strange to think that I used to go the movies at that complex all the time. The Cine Center sign is still up though it's been closed for well over a decade. Now it feels a bit sketchy even during the day.

Since it's been raining all day, all the potholes in the parking lot were full of water. Along the side of the building a puddle stretched several feet wide. Wisely, I slowed way down since I couldn't tell how deep it was although in retrospect, I wish I'd hugged the building to avoid it altogether. My left wheel plunged down several inches before bumping again on the far side. Be careful of those puddles folks! Bubbling manhole covers are to be avoided as well.

I'm certain this was more entertaining as audio. Blame audioblogger!

One year ago at TTaT: tip of the week- sore throats, The Neighbors Know My Name
tags: , ,

16 October 2006

The 11th Dimension is Time

Once upon a time, I gave higher dimensions serious thought. I studied math, read Flatland. The 4th dimension was not time but the realm of hypercubes. Just like you can unfold a paper cube and represent it in two dimensions, it's possible to make a model of what an unfolded 4th dimension hypercube (aka tesseract) looks like.

Pretty cool, eh? So very much just the tip of the iceberg. Last night I followed a link from Blogography (Thank you, Dave!) to a site with a flash presentation entitled Imagining the Tenth Dimension. It steps you through each of the 10 spatial dimensions one at a time. So very cool. Rob Bryanton's corresponding book Imagining the Tenth Dimension: A New Way of Thinking About Time and Space is definitely going on my mental list of stuff to read.

For lighter (yet still educational) fare, keep an eye out for Flatland: The Movie starring the voices of Martin Sheen and Kristen Bell. See? Everything cool ultimately starts and ends with Veronica Mars.

Animation used courtesy of a Creative Commons ShareAlike 1.0 License.
One year ago at TTaT: Not just wheelies anymore; Pain, Anguish, Longing...Yes, the Blues; I confess
tags: , , , , , , ,

15 October 2006

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 8

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

24/viii/04: Limon, CO to Abilene, KS
365 miles/588 km

An alarm I hadn't set started blaring. Like a frantic parent searching for her child's injuries after a big scare, I ran my hands over the clock to find the off switch. 5:00 AM. Damn truckers. I crashed back out occasionally hearing trains rumble by.

My frustration was mitigated when I checked out and discovered the continental breakfast was still out. For most of the trip, I'd slept through the early window during which breakfast is usually offered at motels. There were homemade poppy seed muffins, the usual coffee/tea setup, and variety of packaged Hostess products. My memory may be playing tricks on me, but I could swear they had Twinkies (which in principle pleases me greatly). Behind the counter were framed images of the Polish flag with the name Polska below it and one of the Pope. Misha, the friendly, soft dog of the family rubbed up against my bare legs as I loaded my car.

About an hour later, I was "Leaving Colorful Colorado." The 75 mph speed limit of the last three states dropped to 70 mph in Kansas. Corn and sunflower fields whizzed by. There was more farmland, cattle, less water; it was green but mostly dry without many trees: High Plains since I'd left Limon, the altitude over 5000 ft. and flat. The highway that had been so sparsely populated for most of my drive thus far was suddenly full of state troopers and Adult Superstores.

I stopped for lunch at the Deep Rock Cafe in Colby and switched to Central Time (1:35 PM). For $8.24 (plus tip), I had a very tasty grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a bag of chips, pickle slices, iced tea (unsweet), and a slice of banana cream pie.

Since I planned to stop in Kansas City the next day and didn't want to pay city rates for a room, I made it a comparatively short day and stopped when I got to Abilene. $32.40 was enough for a nice room at the well-equipped Best Western President's Inn. Up the road a ways, I had dinner at a Dairy Queen. As I was driving back to the motel, my cell rang. Typically, I left it off when I was driving, but for whatever reason it was on, so I answered it. The caller identified herself and caught me off-guard, so I asked her to hang on a minute since I was driving. I pulled into the motel and parked, considering how twisted timing can be. It was a woman calling from The Ellen Degeneres Show to tell me they were now booking tickets for September and October. I'd failed to get tickets the previous year and had filled out some email months before that I'd given up on. Now that I was halfway across the country, they were calling. I explained my situation and took a number in case I'd be back in California, but I never called it.


One year ago at TTaT: Audblog #13, Audblog #14, I thought it would be harder...
tags: , , , , , ,

14 October 2006


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

Kimmelman is an art critic for The New York Times since 1990, but criticism is not really his role in this book. He provides background and context for the 18 artists with whom he visited museums and generally lets their observations and commentary fill in the rest. (Only in a few chapters did it seem like Kimmelman was expounding on the background to flesh out slim exchanges.) Among the 18 artists are: Elizabeth Murray, Francis Bacon, Richard Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, Lucian Freud, Susan Rothenberg, Bruce Nauman, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Chuck Close.

What the artists had to say about other people's works is what I found most interesting. Most of the works discussed are pictured in the book in addition to works by each of the artists commenting. (Several pieces would have benefited from color plates, however.) A few paintings caught the attention of more than one artist, revealing different interests, likes, and dislikes. The "portraits" are ultimately of the artists themselves as they are unveiled through their museum experiences.

One year ago at TTaT: Just like riding a bike tricycle again
tags: , , , ,

13 October 2006

Free mammograms

For the month of October, clicks at The Breast Cancer Site will be doubled.

Here's the deal:
Your click on the "Fund Free Mammograms" button helps fund free mammograms, paid for by site sponsors whose ads appear after you click and provided to women in need through the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Foundation to low-income, inner-city and minority women, whose awareness of breast cancer and opportunity for help is often limited.
Your click is free and does not require any obligation or registration from you. The site is set up so that you can only click once a day (or once per IP address). During October, the sponsors will treat each single click as if it is two clicks increasing the amount they will donate. You can, of course, visit the site and click once a day year-round. (Snopes.com says the site is legit.)

Here's some additional information from The Breast Cancer Site:

Each year, 182,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 43,300 die. One woman in eight either has or will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. In addition, 1,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 400 will die this year.

If detected early, the five-year survival rate exceeds 95%. Mammograms are among the best early detection methods, yet 13 million U.S. women 40 years of age or older have never had a mammogram.

The National Cancer Institute and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that women in their forties and older have mammograms every one to two years. A complete early detection plan also includes regular clinical breast examinations by a trained medical professional. Monthly breast self-exams are suggested in addition.
Visit the sidebar links at The Breast Cancer Site for more information.

One year ago at TTaT: Zzzz, Word verification
tags: , ,

12 October 2006

Maybe safe-mode is enough

My old PC is up and running, but only in safe-mode. The graphics seem so ancient, but I suppose that's to be expected with a 7 year old computer that can only display 16 colors at the moment. I think it's getting hung up because the last time I was using it (in October of 2002 before it was banished to storage) it was hooked up to a cable modem that's no longer present. Argh.

But what am I really trying to do here? Most of the files I already have from floppies I had a friend burn to CD, but there's email and some stray photos lingering that I'd like to salvage. Since it doesn't have a CD burner and I have nothing that can read floppies or zip disks, my thumb drive seemed like a promising alternative (assuming Windows 98 will recognize it). The catch is that the 2 USB ports are right next to the monitor's plug which is just wide enough my thumb drive can't be plugged in. Figures.

Dad's going to loan me the male-female USB extension cord he uses for his printer later, so maybe that will work. In a simple world, I would just hook it up to the internet, but that was always such an agonizing task with that PC even when it wasn't outmoded.

After that, there's deleting everything and likely paying somewhere to take it as most places will consider it too antiquated for a donation. Reinstalling Windows from scratch would be too much of a drag anyway as I'd have to open the case, unplug the zip drive I installed later on, load Windows, then plug the zip drive back in, load that software... Blah. I dislike PCs pretty mightily.

Initially I was going to rail more on PCs, but when I got here, the internet wasn't working which goes to show that with computers it's always something.

One year ago at TTaT: Scattered
tags: , ,

11 October 2006

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 7

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

23/viii/04: Moab, UT to Limon, CO
442 miles/712 km

Though my time in Moab was brief, I got a great vibe from the town. The community radio station KZMU 106.7 certainly contributed to that feeling. DJs ranged from an artist-in-residence announcing an upcoming Desert Dance to a 13 year old playing alt. rock.

The residents I encountered were also friendly. The proprietor of the Adventure Inn kindly hooked me up with a very reasonably priced room that allowed me to park directly behind it, out of view from the main road. He also removed the "do not disturb" sign from my door which was wise because it was like advertising I was staying in that room.

My first night in town, I tried Banditos Grill down the road for dinner. The salmon tacos were excellent and my waiter Ian was a very nice guy. It was late and though several people were still dining, they were well-staffed, so Ian paused to chat every now and then since I was eating alone. He was about my age and said he'd been living in Moab for 4 years. Before that he'd lived in the East Bay, across from San Francisco which I'd just left. He held two waiter jobs, the other at a breakfast place in town, and he seemed very content with his life choices. It was an aura I envied.

The anonymity of travel made me feel better in my own skin: more my age, mature, sexy, confident. It brought to mind Amanda Beard and others I'd been watching compete since I'd started this trek. In 2000, they were teenagers, but now in 2004, they were young, poised, confident women at the Olympics.

School was starting up again in Moab, and it was time for me to put the road back in road trip. I had breakfast at the Peace Tree Juice Cafe, found the post office, and mailed 13 rolls of exposed film to my parents' house. I was leery of mailing them, but it seemed better than having the film sit in my car for a couple more weeks at the peak heat of summer.

Back on 70 E, signage warned: "Eagles on Highway."

Soon I was in Colorado driving in valleys, through tunnels, and up steep curving roads over mountains covered with spread out evergreens, rivers and creeks cutting through them below. With my car full of stuff, the engine labored uphill. Signs proclaimed the use of aerial surveillance, but speeding was impossible to avoid going downhill with semis accelerating close behind and sharp curves precluding the possibility of them passing safely. Since the speed limit was already 75 mph (121 km/hr), traversing the Rockies caused the most heart-pounding driving of my whole trip.

I lunched in Glenwood Springs at Wendy's, about halfway across the mountain range, before returning to the stressful but scenic highway. When I reached Denver, the terrain became flat and would remain so for several days of driving.

At 7:38 PM, I was sitting in Oscar's Steak House in Limon, Colorado, waiting for my dinner. The restaurant wasn't what I expected from a highway exit steak house in the Midwest. The whole menu was movie themed and there were lots of framed movie posters on the walls: Oscar as in Academy Awards, not Oscar Somebody.

Driving down Main Street in Limon, black and orange butterflies were swept into the airflow over my car. The Safari Motel had a plastic playhouse on its front lawn and a basketball hoop in the parking lot, the key blocked off by orange cones and wet paint signs. I booked a room for the night.

The evening's men's gymnastics had some of the worst judging I'd ever seen. The gymnasts (of all nationalities) deserved better.


One year ago at TTaT: I can move!, Bachelor Chow
tags: , , , , , ,

09 October 2006

Time to retire

For the moment, the t-shirts I no longer wear but refuse to get rid of have taken over the duffel space previously held by my sweaters earlier today. But what does the future hold for those retired garments?

Life in drawers or luggage without being worn is just more stuff taking up space. Why not just keep wearing them? Most are essentially irreplaceable: concert, film crew, and other location or event-specific tees with sentimental value, and several are starting to wear out. Some are just too large because only one size was ordered to accommodate a large group, and I'm well past wearing shirts that baggy. And then there's my Resistance Is Futile tee that's black with white lettering in a Borg-style font that glows in the dark that was so cool I had to have it even though it was only available in XL.

So should I make a quilt/wall-hanging out of them or what? What do you do with your favorite tees when you can't wear them anymore?

tags: , ,

Shelf aesthetic

Last week I muscled some additional bookshelves into my room, and I think it's caught up with me because my shoulder feels wrecked today. I totally knew better than to move all the shelves (and books) myself, but vague, chronic joint injuries are truly wearisome. There comes a time (last week was it for me) when you say to yourself: if my shoulder was fine, I could do this without help. And then you decide you will even though it isn't.

You know how some folding shelves are stackable? Well, I probably should've (woa-ho, how's that for Freudian slip?) shouldn't have positioned the second unit on top by myself and then traded it out for another one that was a stain match. Oh well, that's what psyching yourself up with adrenaline'll get ya.

Anyway, I've become a little obsessed with arranging my books, photo boxes, and so forth: reference, fiction, bios, film, art, language, photography, lit., and tall are most of the categories. As I was putting books back up, I pushed them all the way to the back of the shelf. Before, I'd had all the spines aligned near the edge, and I'm not sure why I did either, but I feel like I have more shelf space with them pushed back now which is cool. Tchotchke space.

One year ago at TTaT: Erosion, in real time
tags: , ,

06 October 2006

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 6

(Days: one, two, three, four, five)

22/viii/04: Moab, UT (Arches National Park)
44 miles/71 km or so exploring the park for another day

I knew the light had been poor when I photographed Double Arch the previous day, so I went back for a proper shot in the morning light.
Double Arch
As always happens when I'm traveling alone, I encountered a couple who asked me to take their photograph. I obliged, but I hate taking vacation shots for strangers. It stresses me out because I'm afraid they'll be disappointed when they get their prints, and everyone's point-and-shoot is different. There's no settings and no definitive click of a mirror returning to position to let me know the exposure's complete. For whatever reason, knowing I'll likely never see them again doesn't help.

Driving to the next trail, I was unnerved by all the motorcycle riders I saw without helmets. Where I grew up, helmets were mandatory, so it was really strange to see people without them.

Along my walk to Skyline arch, I passed a dead tree in the desert landscape.Desert Tree Skyline Arch

Landscape ArchThe trail to Landscape Arch was full of hikers, but I didn't mind their company with all the warning signs for black widows, scorpions, and rattlesnakes. Even though it's a relatively flat mile to the arch, the midday heat and high altitude took their toll on me. Any time I came across a bit of shade, I stopped to drink water. Landscape arch is worth it though, spanning more than a football field in length. Again, it wasn't the best time of day to shoot it, but these shots will give you an idea.
Landscape Arch

On my way back, I hit a couple side trails. Pine Tree Arch had a great view with trees growing at its base and nearby Tunnel Arch had a little double arch.

Back at my car, I snacked, rested, and cooled off.

Sand dune Arch
Narrow PassThe trail to Sand Dune Arch was appropriately sandy. The arch itself was secluded within a series of tall rock fins. The shadowed rock in the lower center of this picture was about 3 times my height and walking through the narrow pass to its right made me feel a bit claustrophobic. It was significantly cooler though which was nice. Lots of lizards and geckos, some at least a foot long.

Walking back, I took some wider shots of the rock fins.
fins 2
("Sandstone Fins" available for sale at my shop.)

At the Fiery Furnace viewpoint, I sat on a rock. It was nice to be sitting after several short hikes that seemed longer in the midday heat and to be alone if only for a few minutes with an amazing vista: distant mountains, foreground fins and spires, and my favorite blue sky with lots of puffy white clouds. Since it was too early for a spectacular shot of the Furnace rock formations, my cameras stayed in the car, empty. I could hear some French tourists approaching from further up the trail and all I could think was, "Il fait chaud aujourd'hui," but I passed them without saying anything.

On my way back towards the entrance, I pulled into La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, one of the coolest spots in the park. From there, you can see many of the popular formations at Arches: the 3 Gossips, Tower of Babel, Sheep Rock, Organ, Balancing rock, South Window, Colorado River canyon, Courthouse wash, and obviously, La Sal Mountains. I considered taking a shot, but anything smaller than their 1 ft. high x 2.5 ft. wide display would've been too small to discern the details.

I stopped in at the Visitor's Center again to see if they had any postcards I wanted and saw a family of big horn sheep. They looked similar to deer but grey and with curved horns, just like the petroglyphs I'd seen at Capitol Reef. I asked one of the rangers about them and learned that they live around their temporary buildings.

On my way back into town, I stopped at Lin Ottinger's Moab Rock Shop: Fossils, Dinosaur Bone, Minerals, Crystals, Gemstones to look for souvenirs for the fam. I saw some iron ore carts that would've been very cool in my parents' garden, but they were huge and very expensive. Instead I got them 3 spent Uranium cores. They're not Uranium, just rock cylinders extracted from drill sites while looking for Uranium. I shouldn't have joked about radiation with my dad like the proprietor had with me though, because it made him all paranoid about the core samples. I haven't actually seen them since...


One year ago at TTaT: Lost again, it seems, Nate Cushman (part 1 of 2)
tags: , , , , , ,

05 October 2006


I was going to finish up a post today, but I got caught up in reading your blogs instead. Note to self: write, then read.

I'm still adjusting to all this pink. It's never been my color, but it is apparently my 3 year old niece's. In the same breath, she recently announced that she wants her room painted pink and then asked where her cars and trucks would go. There's hope for her yet. ;)

Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are some links with more information:
The American Institute for Cancer Research has information on diet and prevention, as well as information for cancer patients
American Cancer Society
The Pink Ribbons Project
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

One year ago at TTaT: Show and Tell: My Closet
tags: , , , , ,

04 October 2006


As part of an effort to promote National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, TTaT will be Pink for October.

A friend of mine is participating in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. Making Strides is a non-competitive 5K walk that takes place in 28 cities across Florida. Making Strides has no registration fee and no fundraising minimum, which means that more people can participate. However, the many breast cancer programs of the American Cancer Society depend on the generous donations collected by Making Strides Participants, so if you can spare some cash, please donate. Every bit helps.

tags: , , ,

Awe, is that the right word?

Maybe shell-shocked or speechless. Mind you, it's not warranted. I'm just having a gut reaction to something I read in my alma mater's quarterly magazine. They sponsor group trips for alumnae/i to exotic places all over the world. I've been getting the individual flyers for a couple years now but really only to look at the pictures and imagine the possibilities.

However, the insert of the 2007 trips has 1 as close to my dream travel as one could get with these sort of group tour affairs. The Egypt excursion hits all the main sites I want to see and even has an optional 5-day extension into Jordan to see Petra which is also right at the top of my list.

Group travel isn't my kind of thing (particularly sharing a room with a stranger as I doubt I could afford the single supplement), but I really don't see myself traveling to that part of the world on my own. By the time you add the Jordan extension, airfare and travel insurance, going on this trip would leave me totally broke if not in debt upon my return. Seems fair to bet that's where most of this shell-shocked feeling is coming from.

Ah, part of it's a four-day cruise. I'd missed that when I was first looking at it. As a poster-child for seasickness, that's really not ideal. And there it is... the out so I don't have to feel like a complete wuss for letting this opportunity slip by, just a medium wuss.

One year ago at TTaT: Show Joss some Love, Baggage, please. Would you like to super-size that?
tags: , ,

02 October 2006

Time for college

Our most excellent teen detective is back, so don't forget to watch the Veronica Mars season premiere tomorrow night on the CW (Tuesdays 9 PM/8 PM Central).

One year ago at TTaT: Nerves a-twitter
tags: , ,

01 October 2006


Olbermann articulates it better than I could, and I think the more his words are out there, the better.

A textbook definition of cowardice
Keith Olbermann comments on Bill Clinton's Fox News interview

By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'
Updated: 6:01 a.m. PT Sept 26, 2006

One year ago at TTaT: Your miles may be expiring, No More Flight
tags: , , ,