Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sadly, So True

Although I'm not the worst offender, I not deny that this cartoon applies to me.



From the September 3 and 7th, 2007 New Yorker.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Flickr is Famous

(ok, Flickr was already famous).

Recently I read a really awesome blog posted by one of the photographers I follow on Flickr, Thomas Hawk. He mentioned that he had been interviewed by the New York Times about Flickr.

I highly recommend you read this post and then read the Virginia Heffernan piece in the NYT piece. Thomas Hawk says it better, in my opinion.

Flickr is a great way to store photos, obviously. But more than that, it is a way to share photos, and photography. To gain inspiration, and to communicate with other photographers, of all skill levels and types. I know my photography is improving through Flickr and its counterpart, Photophlow. I will add, that there is a tiny chance that I am also famous. I was recently at a San Francisco Flickr meet up and was briefly interviewed by a reporter for San Francisco Magazine. I am no Thomas Hawk, and San Francisco Magazine is no NYT, but hey, it's a start!

Philip Caputo: The Disappointment

No, the book is not titled "Disappointment." Disappointment is the feeling I have right now as, sadly, I am putting aside my next book in the "C"'s. I was so excited to pick up this next Caputo book– "Indian Country." But, unfortunately, it is unreadable. Even for me, who really virtually never puts down a book. I've been slogging through the first 75 pages for over a week. Every possible cliche that I can think of has been invoked, and the book runs 500 pages. The boys are white and native American, and the brown boy saves the white boy's life. The action is not... active, the friendship is not... true, and the emotions about Vietnam are... well, trite. I can't do it.

Caputo has enthralled me in the past with Equation for Evil and his more recent "Acts of Faith" which I read before I started reviewing, but highly recommend. "Indian Country" is so bad that I fear I may not pick up "A Rumour of War," for which is he is known. We'll see.

Shelter Humor

I love the New Yorker dog cartoons. This might be my favorite.



From theDecember 24 &31st, 2007 issue.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Side Effect of Kitten Season

We're definitely in kitten season now. I stepped into my backyard this morning for Mac to potty, and there was a cardboard box sitting there. Normal people might not think anything of a cardboard box, but people dealing with kitten season know that boxes, laundry baskets, beer cartons, milk crates, even plastic bags have a second purpose: containing litters of kittens. I groaned and approached the box with trepidation: it wasn't even 7am. Further, a box of kittens in my backyard means that someone in the neighborhood had figured out where I work, and that my house serves as night drop. NOT good.

Fortunately, my upstairs neighbor had filled the box with clippings from the yard. No kittens. At least till closer to 9am.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Caruncle

Recently, it seems that everywhere I look, there is a duck or a goose. If it's not a duck or a goose, it's a swan. And if I'm unlucky, it's a chicken. I get to work, and there are chickens, ducks, and ducklings and chicklets. I go take pictures of flowers and there are ducks, swans, and geese. I get in my car, drive a block, and there is a random chicken running down the street. At work, I go looking for one chicken and find another. And if you've ever been to Lake Merritt for any purpose at all, you know that you can't help running into approximately 8,000 Canadian geese. Basically, they're everywhere.

Recently, I corrected Mick O on a fabulous photo of two white ducks. He had captioned the photo something about "geese." Those aren't ducks, I said, in my all-knowing-birder way. Oh, he said. Then he said "sometimes a duck is a goose." Crap, I thought, maybe he's right! What *is* the difference between the duck and a goose, and how the heck would I know? Further, we have a random duck with a giant red protrusion on his beak at work, and someone told me it was an "Egyptian Duck," but all google searches on the subject turned up "Egyptian Goose." Uh, Oh. (Not to mention, the duck at work looks nothing like an Egyptian Goose. I think it's actually a Muscovy Duck.)

A duck, it seems, is a bird belonging to a species in the Anatidae family of birds. Geese also belong to this family, but they also belong to the subfamily Anserinae, tribe Anserini. It appears that geese are ducks, but ducks are not always geese. I tried and tried to come up with a clear cut way to explain in this blog what the differences were, but bottom line: I can't. The best explanation I can find is on another blog: A Snail's Eye View. Basically, in size order, it goes ducks, geese, swans, smallest to biggest. Geese have longer necks. Geese can usually be found on land, and ducks in water (usually). Ducks usually eat fish and bugs, geese usually eat grains and grasses (usually).

And how did I know that that muscovy duck wasn't a Egyptian goose? He had a large red thing on his face. At first I thought he was sick. What kind of self respecting duck carries around a red protrusion on his face? The answer is a muscovy duck, and it's called a "Caruncle." The best picture I've found of a caruncle is this, by flickr photographer *~Laura~*:



So now that we've got all that clear, here we have a duck, a goose, and a swan, from yours truly.

duck



two geese



swan (who made "explore"- a random flickr thing)



Update: since the original draft of this post, the ducks at work have gone to rescue, so I'm unable to photograph THE muscovy duck, or his bizarre caruncle, or the ducklings or chicklets. I'm sure I'll find a substitute soon.

Monday, April 14, 2008

James Clavell: King Rat

After a hiatus, I am back to trying to finish my books, A-Z. Yes, I'm still in the "C's". Yes, this is slightly pathetic. Yes, it makes me wonder "will I ever finish?" and no, I don't hold you responsible for doubting me, either. James Clavell's "King Rat" is a book that I must have taken from my dad's shelves years ago, and just have been unable to read or discard. Fortunately for me, because it's actually a great book.

Clavell tells the story of a POW camp during WWII in Singapore. Apparently all the Australians, British, Americans, and various other Allied Forces were rounded up into a small camp and left to rot, guarded by Japanese and Malay forces. They were mainly self-governed, and "King Rat" is a fictional version- not too different from "Lord of the Flies"- of how the men handled themselves during three years of extreme stress. Clavell wastes no time introducing characters or giving background- he throws you into the mess of the POW camp and lets you sort out who is who and what's going on. The writing works, and the horror of the camp becomes routine to the reader, just as it does for the characters. We learn to look out for "The King" as he is both the nemesis and the hope for all of the soldiers: he knows how to work the system and get more food and goods than anyone else in camp. We learn that eating rats isn't really so bad if you don't have anything else. We hate the MP Grey along with the rest of them, and love and hate the Japanese guards.

I've read a lot of fiction about WWII, but this was a new angle. Looking into Clavell for this blog, it seems that the book is only semi-fictional, and that Peter Marlowe, the most clear-headed and "good" character in the book, is a thinly-veiled Clavell. "King Rat" is hard to swallow as fiction and even harder to swallow as auto-biography. Definitely worth reading.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I Hate Kitten Season

I have always hated kitten season. Shelter workers all over will understand this feeling: kitten season is just not fun, and so frustrating on so many levels. More cats coming in means more cleaning, more death, more sickness, more people in and out (surrendering, adopting, bringing in strays) and fortunately more adoptions. It means more people looking for lost cats as cats in heat "mysteriously" disappear and intact cats "strangely" wander off in search of the females. It also means less adoptions for adult cats, which means more death, and more sickness as they linger longer, waiting their turn.

But last night I discovered another reason for hatred of kitten season. Mac hates cats. He likes them a lot, actually, for dinner. I slept (or tried to sleep) with the windows open last night, because it is HOT right now. But kitten season only happens because cats are in heat. And cats in heat make a lot of noise. And Mac hears cats in heat. And when Mac hears cats in heat, he does not sleep. He whines and barks and hunts. Which means that I do not sleep.

Please, please, spay and neuter your cats. If you need a list of places to fix your cats, here's a good one.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sayonara, Sock

My special sock died today. The sock has traveled with me for many years. And it's not even mine.

Many years ago, my dad did the laundry. With three women (or females, two of us weren't really women then) in the house, most of our clothes were about the same size and shape. Especially our socks and underwear. This was way before thongs were the thing, and anyway, not to get too personal, we aren't really the thong type. So all of the underwear looked like mini-granny-underwear and all the socks were plain ole white sweat socks. Dad did the wash every week, and every week doled out underwear and socks to the wrong girl. Every week we complained. In retrospect, we were quite ungrateful. I mean, really, he did our laundry for quite a long time- middle school at least.

One day, Dad had enough of the complaining. For Hannukah that year, he gave each of us- my mom, my sister, and me- a pair of Special Socks. They were actually not special at all- they were plain ole white sweat socks like the ones we wore daily. But he had had them monogrammed with our initials. (I've always wondered where he got them, and what the people who monogrammed them thought about 3 pairs of monogrammed sweat socks.) Interestingly, those socks rarely ended up in the right drawer. I went to college first, and somehow I ended up with a sock or two with the wrong initials. I don't think I even had socks with my initials. I graduated college and moved away and still had socks with mismatched initials. Four years later, I went to put on a sock today, and it had my sister's initials- "KB"- on them. The sock had a hole. A non-repairable hole. There are no other initialed socks in my position. I think the sock has to be thrown away, now.

Goodbye, initialed socks. All the socks in my drawer are mine, now.

UPDATE: About an hour after I posted this, my sister came over for dinner. I showed her the wholey sock and told her that it was toast. I told her about this blog and she told me that she had news for me. She recently purchased a whole bunch of socks at Costco (or Target? can't remember) and when she got home she noticed that the brand name was KB and that each sock had KB printed on the toe. So she's got tons of monogrammed socks now. Even better, she told her roommates if they saw any stray KB socks, they could return them to her. She got home one evening to find a KB sock on her dresser. All rightfully-labelled socks are now in their proper locations.

Flickr Video

There has been a whole lot of hub-bub lately since Flickr added video hosting to their website. I can't figure out why it's such a big deal, but I guess the Flickr elite out there think that the site will go all You Tube on them and be full of dumb videos. Personally, I have faith in the Flickr-founders and think that if they want to host video on their site, they probably have all the requisite tools to do so. If individual Flickr-users want to host videos on their Flickr-streams, then they should do so. Some will be crappy, some will be amazing. Well, here is an amazing one that I think might cause some nay-sayers to think twice. I hope so, at least.