Archive for April, 2005

And While I’m On The Subject…

April 28, 2005

A car in our office parking lot has two bumper stickers. One says “War is not the answer.” The other has some goopy platitude about how we, the inhabitants of this planet, are all in this together.

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, those 19 terrorist highjackers died in togetherness with their 3000 victims on that day of infamy. And suicide homicide bombers die together with their victims. Isn’t that special.

Is that what the bumper sticker means, I wonder?

Bleah.

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Somebody Get Me A Bucket

April 28, 2005

I think I’m going to be sick.

Thanks a lot, Brian Maloney. You were the first to point it out, at least the first that I saw. I’ll have you know, you ruined my day.

Yes, that wild-eyed wacko Ward Churchill has been invited to speak at my alma mater, the school where I did my midlife crisis return to education, the school that tossed me back out into the world with a summa cum laude diploma nearly 4 years ago now.

I am very glad that the only money I ever gave that institution, other than tuition and books, was the $130 or so I spent for a lifetime membership in the alumni association. They will never get another penny from me as long as I live.

The local Republican party will hold a candelight vigil at the event, in memory of the victims of 9/11, but I don’t think I can bring myself to go. The thought makes me ill.

I majored in business and information technology there, and while the place does indeed have a “reputation” (I call it the looniversity, ’nuff said) those kids in the business and IT departments were far too busy strategizing on how to make their first million to get caught up in political correctness.

My beloved business professor, a good Christian gentleman, is probably weeping in his office right this minute at the thought of the latest defilement about to encroach on the campus.

It was right in the University Center Ballroom (where Churchill will speak) that I first spoke to those who later became my advisers. Someone in the IT department asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I wanted to be paid obscene amounts of money for doing practically nothing. He let out a belly laugh and said, “You’ve come to the right place!” And in that same room two and a half years later, I was one of only six summa cum laude graduates (out of a class of about 600) honored at the awards ceremony.

No, I do not want to see Ward Churchill in that place. Where’s that bucket?

Update: Ith beat me to it by about an hour. She got the same e-mail I did.

This Should Be Good

April 27, 2005

The Serenity trailer is up.

How, oh how, shall we survive until the movie opens on September 30?

Even in a tiny box on the computer screen, you can see that the special effects are several orders of magnitude better than what they were able to accomplish on the (short-lived, alas) TV series.

And if you somehow missed seeing Firefly on TV, you can rent it at Blockbuster on DVD. 4 discs, 14 episodes. Better yet, buy it.

Some juicy bits of dialogue from the movie trailer:

Malcolm Reynolds: As sure as I know anything, I know this: I aim to misbehave.

River: They’re coming.
Malcolm: I think we better go.

Jayne: Let’s be bad guys.

Wash: This is gonna get pretty interesting.
Malcolm: Define interesting.
Wash: Oh God, oh God, we’re all gonna die?

Malcolm: I don’t murder children.
Bad guy: I do.

Bad guy: It’s worse than you know.
Malcolm: It usually is.

Zoe: It’s a fair bet the alliance knows what’s coming.
Malcolm: No. They’re not gonna see this coming.

Bad guy: I want to resolve this like civilized men. I’m not threatening you. I’m unarmed.
Malcolm: Good. [pulls gun and shoots bad guy]

Hat tip: Ith

Just A Sunday Drive…

April 25, 2005

… except we kind of forgot to bring the car.

Otherwise known as “The Walk,” the 10.6 mile Big Sur International Marathon event for non-runners and wimps.

Just kidding about the wimps part. 10.6 miles is not exactly a walk in the park. It is, however, a walk along the most spectacular coastline in the world, with NO CARS on the road!

Here we are, just 20 minutes into our journey:*


L-R: Carol, Paula, CrankyBeach

(For those of you familiar with Highway 1, those cypresses in the background are the ones that surround the entrance to Garrapata State Park.)

Don’t ask me what’s up with this expression on my face. That’s what my face was doing when Carol snapped the shutter.

Those little tiny dots on the road in the distance are the walkers who got that far ahead of us after only 20 minutes on the road. (And we weren’t exactly dawdling ourselves.)

Here’s a shot of the third oncoming marathon runner. (I forgot to turn around and snap pictures of the first two.) The routine was, a course marshall came through on his mountain bike and warned all of us to move to the far left, runner coming through. (As best I can tell reading the results web page, this guy actually finished 14th at the end.)

We walkers acted as a moving cheering section for the runners. That barn in the background is the one at Garrapata.

At the end of the race, I noted that my pedometer was a full mile short, which means I need to recalibrate it. It also means that all the walks I have been taking have actually been longer than I thought.

Local friend and frequent commenter Bill (who ran a leg of the relay event) was the one who told me to be sure and bring the camera, because on foot with no cars is the ONLY way to really see the scenery on this road. He was right. As it turned out, I took very few pictures. Oh well.

I learned something. I learned that while walking uphill (the last hill, as a matter of fact, the one between the little red schoolhouse and Ribera Road) at full pace, it is very, very hard to sing along with the bagpiper across the road. But I gave it a shot, since he was playing a song I had requested (“Scottish Soldier”).

And I have to say that, sore feet and legs notwithstanding, walking that last gauntlet down the chute, inside the barricades, with people stacked up 5 or 6 deep on the other side, all clapping and cheering us on (walkers to the left, runners to the right) was even more fun than walking the red-carpet gauntlet at the Emmys. I hadn’t earned anything to walk that gauntlet at the Emmys; I had earned the Marathon gauntlet by walking 10.6 miles. After we crossed the finish line, they handed each of us a “medal.” It’s just ceramic, on a cheap leather thong, but I stuck it around my neck and wore it proudly. Our finishing time? About 3 1/2 hours.

After they issued us our “medals” they handed us cups of water, and ushered us into a big tent where there were snacks. Instead of making us overload our hands with all the goodies (or graze along the tables, thus holding up the hungry folks behind us) they gave us little to-go boxes. We had fruit cups, little bags of baby carrots, raisins, muffins, bagels, cookies, candy bars, bananas, oranges, apples, strawberries, and canned fruit juice. And bottled water. We gathered our goodies and went to sit on a curb to inhale them.

Not long after we boarded a bus to go back to the downtown parking garage where we had left our cars at 6 a.m., and from there it was a quick trip home. I settled down on my bed with a book–and conked out until about 4 o’clock, still in my sweat pants. I had planned to go to a concert that a friend was playing in, but I slept right through it. (Sorry, Caro, if you’re reading this; now you know I had a good excuse.)

The whole thing was such a blast I can’t wait to do it again next year!

*UPDATE: I lied. That was more like an hour and 20 minutes into the walk… The time-stamp on the digital camera is an hour off because I forgot to change it to daylight savings time. My bad. So sue me.

I Suppose I Should Be Thankful…

April 21, 2005

… at least no one can accuse me of being built like a boy (although I really do not think that was in question). But the rest of it was completely depressing. This is why I maintain that, unlike most women, I simply do not have the shopping gene.

Is it too much to ask? All I wanted was one lousy pair of plain black sweat pants. Simple, eh? Noooo! I couldn’t find one darn thing in the ladies’ department, not even close. So I went upstairs to hunt around in the boys’ department.

Well… a size “large” in boys was still too tight around the pinkytoe, and about 5 inches too long in the leg. So much for that idea. I should have known that boys are both taller and skinnier than I am; plus, the male of the species quite often has no pinkytoe at all.

So I did some more searching in the ladies’ department and took some possible candidates into the fitting room.

Well… the size large “athletic wear capris” (we used to call those high-waters back in my day) were STILL too tight. Because of my short legs, they were actually almost full length on me. Almost, but not quite. And the “waistline” (I use the term loosely) I think was supposed to ride somewhere around where my belly button used to be, before I lost track of it about 25 pounds ago.

Don’t they make anything suitable for middle-aged short-legged ladies who have succumbed to a little perimenopausal middle-aged spread? Anything that I can even pull up over my pinkytoe seems to be skin-tight, and “regular-length” pants come down about to my toes. (And before you ask, no, they did NOT have a darn thing in the petite department!) Not to mention… I prefer narrow-legged pants, and everything these days is as wide as we used to wear them back in the late 60’s.

That reminds me… my mother did not believe me when I told her I had gained 25 pounds in the last few years. I reminded her that I hide it. I never wear my shirts tucked in, and I don’t wear skin-tight pants…. I can hear y’all now. “Oh yeah? What about those jeans?” They aren’t quite skin-tight, they do stretch, and I’m stuffed into them like a sausage. So there.

Done whining for now. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Sinful

April 21, 2005

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I hadn’t had one in years. But I had a hankering, so I went and bought the ingredients.

Now, it’s not quite as sinful as it could be. After all, I used low-carb bread (isn’t that an oxymoron?), reduced-fat peanut butter, and sugar-free jam.

I guess this is the middle-aged PBJ, updated for the new millenium.

But still sinfully heavenly!

And that’s another oxymoron. So sue me.

More Weekend

April 18, 2005

Here are a couple more pictures from my hike on Saturday. The lower resolution required not to blow out the bandwidth walls really does not do this scene justice:

You can smell the lupines all the way down the hollow.

And here’s some of the local talent:

That shot was taken in super macro zoom mode. I wasn’t really all that close to the critter.

I hiked a total of about 10 1/2 miles on Saturday. Sunday I went to another state park, Fremont Peak. I had the place almost to myself. When I got there it was COLD and foggy. As I climbed the peak I could hear voices on the trail below. The fog lifted momentarily and I could see the owners of the voices. One of them, a boy of perhaps 10, said, “Oh, look! There’s an old lady!” Since I was the only other person on the mountain at the time, I assumed he was talking about me. “Old lady?” I replied. “Hey, I’m not THAT old!”

From the socked-in top of the mountain, there was no distance view, so I turned to the close-up view:

It’s a bit dicey trying to focus on water droplets on vegetation….

Here’s the fog blowing across the hillside on the Cold Springs Trail:

The wild carnation held lots of water, for its tiny size:

But the wallflower either found a way to shed its water, or it was sheltered from the fog somehow.

I never could resist shooting stars.

And here’s what can happen with a macro zoom lens when you sneak up on a bug napping on a poppy:

Like Coe, Fremont Peak has a handicapped-accessible outhouse. Unlike Coe, the Fremont Peak facility is all of about 10 feet from a handicapped parking space, and there’s a nice concrete sidewalk and ramp leading right up to the door. Go figure.

Fremont Peak is not a very large park. I hiked every single trail, and my pedometer told me I had gone approximately 5 miles.

So over the weekend, I logged in something like 15 1/2 miles’ worth of hiking. The weekend before, I did about 14 miles. Why? Well, the sun was out (at least in some places it was) and the wildflowers are blooming. But perhaps most importantly, I’m in training. The Big Sur Marathon is next Sunday. No, I am not running the marathon. I am not athletically gifted and the furthest I ever ran in my life was 2 miles. And that was more than 25 years ago. But one of the other marathon day events is the 10.6 mile walk. I’ve always wanted to do it, but it sells out quickly, and I never got around to signing up. My perfect non-attendance record ended last fall when registration opened, and a friend hounded me unmercifully until I signed up. Now I wonder which one of us will end up dragging the other across the finish line….

Go If You Can

April 18, 2005

If you’re anywhere near northern California, especially the bay area and south bay, and you like wildflowers (and don’t mind getting your feet wet) try Hunting Hollow at Coe State Park.

This (plus a loop up the steep trail at the end of the hollow, where I found the handicapped-accessible outhouse) was the hike I took on Saturday. The pictures on the Bay Area Hiker site really don’t do it justice. Here are some of the wildflower pics I took when I went last year to the same spot.

The hike is anywhere from 3 to 3.5 miles one way to the end of the hollow, so double that if you go all the way up and back. It is nearly level the whole way. But watch out for the creek crossings. This being a high water year, the first half dozen or so crossings are not amenable to rock-hopping, so unless you have completely waterproof footgear, or are able to leap wide creeks at a single bound, bring rubber flip-flops and prepare to wade. You can put your shoes back on when you see the windmill on your right, and then take them off again when you get to the windmill on the way back. And let me tell you, that cold water is just the thing for revitalizing tired feet!

Has The ADA Run Amok?

April 16, 2005

We report, you decide.

For your perusal, a sign I saw today:

What’s so unusual about this sign?

Well, it was on the side of an outhouse in a state park… more than 5 miles up a trail that is NOT in the least handicapped-accessible.

This trail has something like 18 creek crossings before it heads sharply uphill.

So unless the disabled “hiker” has a 4-wheel drive wheelchair that can navigate on both land and water, they would never even know that a handicapped-accessible outhouse awaits them at the top of the mountain.

It must be required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or something. However, I did notice that none of the three portable outhouses at the park entrance were accessible. That handicapped hiker will have to hold it for a long time to get to the accessible outhouse!

Nonsensical gubbermint regulation at its finest. Our tax dollars hard at work!

He Lied!

April 15, 2005

The dirty dog! He lied!

Who is he? The dirty dog liar? Why, the well-paid representative/broker who sold us our new health insurance plan!

He told us, to our faces, with a straight face, that chiropractic care is not covered under our new plan.

Well… I get this chronic muscle spasm from time to time in my upper back due to ergonomic issues (which I will have to deal with at some point, but that’s another topic). A few sessions with my friendly neighborhood chiropractor (actually, with his massage therapist; I could give a rat’s rear end about what the chiropractor does to me when she’s done) and I’m good to go, until it gets knotted up again.

For the last few days I’ve been in a world of hurt here, so was thinking I should really try to get myself referred to a physical therapist. I found out who the PTs in our provider network are, and then went into the handbook to find out what the benefits are.

And lo and behold, I’m reading about something that sounds suspiciously like chiropractic care. And it’s not in the “non-covered services” section either.

So I called the insurance company. Yes, chiropractic is indeed covered, subject to some yearly limitations, but who cares. Based on past experience, I’m not likely to hit the benefit wall in one calendar year. Long story a lot shorter, I have an appointment for 2 o’clock this afternoon!

Oh, frabjous joy! Unkinking at last! Unkinking at last! Thank God Almighty, unkinking at last!