30 June 2008


One Thousand Posts. As of right now.

When I started TTaT in April of 2005, I doubt I would have believed I'd ever have this many posts, but now that I'm here, I'm psyched to have reached this milestone.

Thank you for reading. Some of you have been reading for a good long while now; I much appreciate your comments over the years. They have made a difference, encouraging me to keep writing and creating, to share more whether it's photos or vlogs or personal stories. Reading your blogs has inspired and motivated me as well. Thank you for the camaraderie.

To mark the occasion, I've culled my best/favorite 10 posts. (Yes, I've cheated by including a couple of multi-parters as single entries.) Picking the top 1% was tough, so these aren't in a precise order. If you have an opinion as to how they should be ranked, I'd be chuffed to hear it. Likewise, if you have any favorites that I left out, let me know and I'll see about a reader's favorites list.

The Top 10 From The First 1000:

  • The Prom: Take Two (Parts one, two, three) - my last chance at the prom in excruciating detail

  • Three Breaks (Parts one, two, three) - an automotive adventure

  • Higher altitude- a verbal snapshot

  • The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 3 - driving through Utah's spectacular views

  • A follow-up of sorts - cranes, columns, and a pyramid in San Francisco

  • Claire's Bears - backyard bears

  • A Prelude to Bewitched - pocket tape measure, need I say more?

  • In the ground - a favorite photo and a funeral suggestion

  • Leaf density II - bokeh!

  • Snowprints - paying attention to your footsteps can create art

  • A year ago on TTaT: Damn you, formatting!; Let The Pictures Do The Talking: A Road Trip, iii

    27 June 2008

    Eight strikes... in a row!

    OK, virtual strikes in Wii bowling, but still... 8 strikes in a row.

    Before today, the most strikes I'd managed consecutively was four, and I'd only done that three or four times, right-handed. Likewise, my best score was 215 or 216, right-handed.

    My Mii Lola is left-handed because I like to foster ambidexterity.

    Lola's 8 strikes
    Maybe I'll just stay lefty for bowling.

    A year ago on TTaT: Let The Pictures Do The Talking: A Road Trip, i

    26 June 2008

    The next five issues

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8 Volume 2: No Future For You (4/5)

    "No Future For You" (#6-9) by Brian K. Vaughan, pencilled by Georges Jeanty
    "Anywhere But Here" (#10) by Joss Whedon, pencilled by Cliff Richards

    Like the first bound volume, there is a four part story followed by a stand-alone issue, although this stand-alone reveals a lot of information pertinent to the larger season arc.

    Faith, always a favorite character of mine, is featured in "No Future For You." As much as things felt wrapped up at the end of the tv series, the comics let you see that there's still a lot of emotional aftermath. Makes for great stories.

    I didn't care for the art as much in issue #10, but otherwise it's a solid, enjoyable collection of issues with some big story ramifications.

    A year ago on TTaT: The Longest Journey

    23 June 2008

    Not the old bowling metaphor

    The thunder last night (3:30 AM) and this morning was more like constant rumbly explosions than familiar bowling alley sounds. Heavy furniture moving gone bad, perhaps? You know those old steel desks? Sort of like dropping those repeatedly from great heights.

    These severe thunderstorms are hindering my blogging.

    Two years ago on TTaT: Not cutoffs 2: Entropy strikes back

    22 June 2008

    Random Scan Sunday 5: Yearbook

    Kim, The Cure
    I've been signing everyone's yearbook over this picture so I might as well keep going. I'll see you next year when I come to visit- Keep up with your art and always remember that the Cure rules!
    Show me, show me, show me how you do that trick...

    A year ago on TTaT: Happy birthday, Joss!!!

    20 June 2008

    18 June 2008

    Something I didn't know

    You can call the fire department to pump out a flooded basement. (At least where I live.) That's pretty damn cool.

    A year ago on TTaT: Bring it, Brenda

    17 June 2008


    On the fifth of July 2002, I saw the most spectacular hibiscus I've ever seen. During the intermission between two one act plays (Andrew happened to be in one of them), I went out on the old estate's terrace to admire the architecture and the view, to dream of owning such a house. Next to the french doors was a hibiscus covered with deep crimson blooms at least six inches in diameter. I was amazed. That was the day I learned the flower's name.

    The flower in these photos is smaller and literally pale in comparison, but until I can find one a lush deep red, I will admire this particular plant's intricacies.

    hibiscus profile
    hibiscus front view
    hibiscus top view

    A year ago on TTaT: And there it is

    16 June 2008


    The other evening, it was so hot and humid that when I pulled my car out of the cool garage: FWOOM! The windows fogged over. I gave a swipe of the windshield wipers and rolled my window down. FWOOM! The windshield was opaque with condensation again. Huh, so that's how it's going to be. Swish. Fwoom! Swish. ... Fwoom. Swish. ... ... Fwooom. Swish. ... ... ...

    15 June 2008

    Growth spurt

    Remember the rhubarb from less than two weeks ago? (Here and here.)

    It was 5' 1½" (1.56 m) tall then.

    (2.07 meters)

    Holy frak!

    I knew it had gotten taller than me, but damn. If it keeps growing at this rate, I'm going to need something to stand on to measure it next time.

    Random Scan Sunday 4: Yearbook

    After a year of American Lit.:
    Hurles editor
    Don't think of me as your teacher, think of me as your editor always looking over your shoulder for the misplaced modifier, the unwarranted prose, the pure writer's joy that I will ruthlessly restrain.

    [AKA Hurles]

    After a year of Humanities (so like him to sign by my picture instead of his):
    Hurles note
    To Claire-
    Of course despite all my flaws you must understand that I will nevertheless strive to be orderly & punctual. And of course remember just how fond & proud of you that I am.
    He's referring to my "organizational skills and distaste for lateness" which I left him in the class will. After two years of ruthless editing (he wasn't joking about that) and relentless questions, often interrupted halfway with, "No, that's not hard enough," as he came up with a new, harder question for me, the "fond & proud" caught me a bit off-guard. It's nice to know though.

    A year ago on TTaT: Not quite the breakfast of champions

    14 June 2008

    Where the goth kids are

    Cargo shorts. That's what I was thinking when I left for the mall around 6. Also that most people just out of work would have better things to do on a Friday night so the stores shouldn't be too busy. What I did not but should have anticipated was all the packs of teenagers. Clearly our mall doesn't have one of those unsupervised kid curfews.

    There were teenagers spanning about 30 feet of a low wall outside, more all throughout the food court, as well as roaming pairs, trios, and packs. Pretty much all wearing black with plenty of zippers. Gonna be a hot summer for them.

    I suddenly understood how our small mall with varying unoccupied blocks, never able to support full occupancy, has been able to sustain a Hot Topic for so long.

    Two years ago on TTaT: Transformation

    13 June 2008

    Before and After

    Remember the fiddleheads?

    Now imagine an even larger size disparity.

    3 years ago on TTaT: tip of the week- dispel summer heat

    11 June 2008

    To Be King Again

    Browsing DVDs in Costco, I picked up Battlestar Galactica: Razor. I stared at Admiral Cain aka Ensign Ro on the back cover, her posture triggering a memory of being king.

    "Pull your shoulders back, and thrust your breasts out like cannons," Andrew said.

    Freshly 17, I glanced at our 20-something director and started laughing so hard my eyes watered and I had to put my hands on my thighs to prop myself up. That he was completely serious made it sound all the more outrageous. My reaction was mitigated because he was gay, but knowing I was being scrutinized made it even harder to overcome my self-consciousness.

    I was to be King Philip of France and my friend Samantha, King John, in the worst Shakespeare play ever (at least out of the 15 or so that I've seen, read, or performed in): The Life and Death of King John. It was a miserable choice for a high school production, or anyone's really, but the theater company that supplied our directors liked to experiment with us.

    We actually had several boys in the cast, in part because my Humanities teacher, Hurles, coerced his male students into auditioning to stem a boy shortage. Nevertheless, Sam and I were made kings despite our sex. We were taller than most of the boys anyway.

    A few weeks of rehearsal later, I was walking down a hallway, chatting with Hurles. He pointed out that my kingliness had seeped into my everyday life. I raised a quizzical eyebrow at him.

    Standing tall during the prologue
    Standing tall for the prologue
    (Yes, the play is such a mess we added a prologue.)

    "The way you've been walking around here lately, you look as if you're going to beat up anyone who gets in your way."

    I gave him a friendly shove on the shoulder.

    And then he careened almost into the wall.

    Then there was panic. I did not push him that hard. ... Did I? Clearly I'd just unintentionally crossed a significant teacher/student line. With the zero tolerance rules of some schools today, I'd probably have been suspended or expelled. Fortunately, no one else was around and he laughed it off as proof of his point.

    There was truth to it. I didn't realize it until he mentioned it, but I had adopted Andrew's king posture full-time. It was more than the posture however, through it came confidence.

    The greeting of kings
    A greeting of kings. The swords weren't just for show.
    (Time for another retrovlog?)

    It'd be nice to be king again. Shoulders back, breasts like cannons, ... and carrying a sword for good measure.

    A year ago on TTaT: Bricks on the brain

    10 June 2008

    Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody in theatres, 2 nights only!

    What? You don't watch Bleach on [adult swim]?

    Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody is playing in select theatres June 11th and 12th at 7:30 PM. Unfortunately, the closest theatre to me is 45 miles away, or ~$12 of gas, which is a bit more indulgent than I'm prepared to be while several other upcoming movies are beckoning me.

    But maybe Bleach the Movie is playing near you. You can check here. Who knows? There might be some cosplayers in the audience. Take a camera; that could be some choice blog fodder.

    Two years ago on TTaT: Original Broadway Cast Recording

    08 June 2008

    Random Scan Sunday 3: Yearbook

    Berg's yearbook note
    This is about the 200th yearbook I've signed and if its messy blame it on writers cramp. It has been a swell year. Have a great summer!
    (You're brother's dead meat in TW2)

    Once I started playing Trade Wars, I rocked it. I bought my own planets! (On sale, natch.)

    Two years ago on TTaT: Ah, so this is why

    05 June 2008

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...

    Yesterday, of a friend Sizzle wrote:
    If there were three options in front of her- easy, medium and difficult- she’d ALWAYS choose the difficult way. . .or the fourth alternative, complete and utter inaction. It’s like: You can either take the elevator, walk up these 5 flights of stairs or scale the wall and she’ll say, “I’m gonna scale the wall.” And then get up half-way and just hang there not able to complete the climb but too stubborn to come down.

    Some people are like that. Maybe they are punishing themselves. Maybe they really are at a loss for seeing the clearer path. Maybe they prefer the hard way so that when they fail they can say, “But it was so hard!”
    My friend Splice would probably describe me the same way, but this morning I realized "the hard way" is a misnomer.* I know it's just a saying, but there is this sense from external points of view that it describes the most difficult course of action. To accomplishing what? It's difficult if I'm trying to achieve the goal you have in mind, but that's probably not the case.

    Inaction is always going to be easiest. Real, significant, personal change: the hardest. Will changing be better for me in the long run? Generally yes, but that doesn't make it "the easy way." I even know certain actions that would be best for me and still don't do them. It's irrational, but the obstacles are cumulative, so facing them one at a time is insufficient, and facing several at once to do something I don't want to in the first place is both intimidating and supremely unmotivating.

    Sizzle also wrote:
    I’ve had to contact mutual friends to find out if they’ve heard from her. When they say they have, it hurts my heart. Does she not want to talk to me? What did I do wrong? Why won’t she let me help? But those questions are likely the wrong questions and this situation is too convoluted to be watered down to a couple of simple inquiries. Sometimes you can’t be what someone you love needs. I need to face that fact.
    When someone expects great things from you, it's hard to stay in contact when you know you're disappointing her. It's also immensely difficult, if not impossible, to spur someone into action long distance. Unless they want to be spurred.

    Helping someone take action takes persistence and understanding the obstacles s/he sees. During a visit to San Francisco, I stayed with a fairly new friend (FNF) who was displaying several markers of depression. We talked about it, and FNF agreed that she was depressed, but she didn't have the money or health insurance to deal with it. I went online, found mental health services subsidized by the city, gave her the number, and then kept after her until she called a couple of days later.

    Splice later told me that she was amazed that our mutual friend had met with a psychiatrist because she'd been encouraging FNF to get help for depression for a couple of years. Splice may have gotten FNF to start thinking about it, but FNF didn't do anything about it until a course of action was persistently handed to her on a silver platter. Persistence alone may not be enough. Removing a couple of obstacles for someone and suggesting a clear next step when her thinking is convoluted can break the inertia of rest.

    Why is it easier for me to do this for someone else than myself? Because I question what I care most about doing. I could give you a list of life goals, but I'm not really pursuing them which makes me ponder whether I really care about doing them in the first place. Other wants, I have, but I'd have to give them up to implement certain changes. There's nothing I want badly enough to incite personal change right now.

    And yet, my theme for this year is The Sleeper Must Awaken.

    I haven't forgotten.

    *I don't claim to speak for Sizzle's friend whose situation differs from mine in at least a couple of significant ways. I'm just speaking for myself.

    Rhubarb 2!

    rhubarb high angle MS
    rhubarb CU
    rhubarb MWS

    Two years ago on TTaT: Summer reading (#27)

    04 June 2008

    25. David Plowden: Vanishing Point

    25. David Plowden: Vanishing Point, Fifty Years of Photography by David Plowden (4.5/5)

    Steam trains, bridges, barns, grain elevators, steel mills, hardware and general store interiors, small towns, people's homes, and more from 1955 to 2005, records of a vanishing (or long since gone) America. Naturally lit subject matter that is with few exceptions precisely what appeals to my own photographic eye. The main difference is that his black and white images exist almost exclusively in square frames. I think mostly in rectangles which makes his compositions all the more impressive to me. Most of his shots wouldn't work at all if they weren't square.

    The hefty book has about 300 plates, with 1 photo per page, each with a small caption detailing what, where, and when the photo was taken. Love that.

    The "Photographer's Notes" describe his life in photography and are full of the sorts of technical details that fascinate me. (Despite all the "new and improved" film stocks on the market, he finds them to be of lesser quality than the older discontinued stocks. I couldn't agree more!)

    The chronology gives an excellent outline of the progress and development of his career- well worth reading. I was so intrigued by his photos and charmed by his writing that I went back to the book's beginning even though I am not a fan of introductions in art books and generally skip them. Steve Edwards's introductory essay is an informative and entertaining read full of quotes from Plowden that enhances the rest of the book.

    Two years ago on TTaT: Dipping a toe in

    03 June 2008


    At 5' 1½" tall (1.56 m), this rhubarb is a monster of a plant. I keep expecting it to reach out and grab someone.

    Two "rh" plants: a rhododendron is in the background.
    rhubarb WS
    A bird's eye view.
    rhubarb high angle MS
    Rhubarb blooms.
    rhubarb CU
    Ferns and vinca make up most of the ground cover.
    rhubarb MCU

    Two years ago on TTaT: Move yourself

    02 June 2008

    Comic Book Guy's back room

    My local comic book store's sign is comprised of 8 ½" x 11" sheets, one letter printed per sheet, taped to the glass of the storefront window. It's not fancy inside either, but it has more merchandise and variety than I'd expected from it. I stopped in to see if they had Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Volume 2: No Future for You, a collection of issues #6-10. (No spoilers, please.)

    Two to three men and one woman in their 20s to 30s, and one man with grey hair and a salt and pepper beard, sat around a card table in the middle of the store having a vivid discussion. Clearly, they all knew each other; their voices were raised in the enthusiasm of debate. One young man in particular spoke with an excessive volume, even though they weren't talking over one another, conveying his desire to be sure they were listening to him. As I looked over a rack of new comics, I thought: There are people out there geekier than me. Their amped comic book chatter also reminded me how much of a hermit I've become.

    I kept to the walls, deliberately not looking at them, unconsciously trying to shift reality: to exist in a plane that kept me in the comic book store while projecting their group into someone's living room. Part of it was not wanting to disturb what felt like a private conversation, the rest was not wanting to be drawn into it with nothing to contribute. Unsociable to the last.

    To some extent my I don't see you, you don't exist approach was successful. Their talk was still loud, but I was able to ignore its content, and in turn, they seemed to ignore me. In addition, a couple of mid-to-late teenage male shoppers reinforced the feeling of "store," keeping the clerk occupied, so I could browse undisturbed.

    Beyond a counter of Magic: The Gathering cards, I found the bound Buffy collection I was looking for slid in horizontally on top of a row of shelved graphic novels. There was only one copy and the cover had a couple of small knicks. If anywhere is going to bring out the OCD in a person, it's a comic book store full of protective plastic sleeves and a grading system that accounts for the most minor of flaws. I couldn't make up my mind, so I continued to look around, occasionally walking back to reconsider buying the slightly marred volume.

    I knew I didn't have enough cash on hand for it, so I wandered by the register to see if they accept credit cards. They do, but only with a minimum $25 purchase which my book wouldn't meet. Well, that solves that. It had occurred to me earlier to call and ask both if they had the graphic novel I wanted and if they took credit cards, but I hung up after the first ring because I feel exposed when I get to the register and the clerk inevitably asks if I'm the one who just called.

    I had another reason for making the trip though. Towards the back is an unlit room separated from the rest of the store by a sliding glass door. Taped to the door is a hand-written sign in black marker proclaiming: No backpacks allowed. Under 18 not admitted. No entry without supervision or permission of clerk.

    I'd been to the store once before, but I hadn't had it in me to ask to go into the mystery room. The glass door had been closed that day and nothing inside was visible. I figured the room contained hentai or valuable light-sensitive comics, or both.

    On this particular Friday afternoon, the glass door was open and there was enough light to discern some shadowy boxes on a high shelf. Determined not to be a wuss while at risk of looking like I was into pornographic comics in front of a bunch of store regulars, I asked if I could check out the room. The clerk reached in, flipped a light switch for me, and left me alone to browse.

    No hentai, no comics at all, in fact. The room was full of boxed memorabilia. A chrome Doctor Who clock with a TARDIS that lights up on the hour, various Buffy and Angel action figures, an original Star Trek phaser, dolls of the original Star Trek cast on a play set of the bridge of the Enterprise, some minimally clad manga-style female figures in poses that seemed to be missing stripper poles, several action figures from Inuyasha, gaming demon armies, and more. All pricey collectible toys. I should've known.

    A year ago on TTaT: Fanslaughter

    01 June 2008

    Don't forget the Venture Brothers!

    Season 3 starts tonight at 11:30 on [adult swim].

    Remember how last season ended? (Season 2 spoilers ahead.)

    Dr. Girlfriend, the babe with the great bod and incongruous deep male voice (which a couple of characters notice while most of the guys don't), was about to tell her soon-to-be husband, The Monarch, something important. Oh, how I love Dr. Girlfriend. If you haven't been watching, how could you pass this up?

    You can watch the episode online now, but I'm going to wait so I can watch it large. :)

    Random Scan Sunday 2: Movie records

    Movies seen pagesAlthough the record began Tuesday, March 22, 1994, it also contains a catalog of all the tickets I'd saved prior to that date. Unfortunately, the ticket printer at the Cine Center was often low on ink. Looks like a couple of the earliest legible tickets were:
    8/1/87 The Living Daylights
    9/6/86 Eurythmics

    A year ago on TTaT: Swimwear, Erratic, So much cooler than a spreadsheet