22 December 2006


now that everyone nearby has received their mini-gifts, I can safely post this...that's right, I've purchased a 1.5-inch button maker. I'm not quite up to making special requests yet, but after the holidays that may be a possibility. I also acquired a sewing machine, and my first knitted glove project. More on those later.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season, whatever that may mean.


03 October 2006


Holy crap, it's October. Where have I been? Well, let's see...in no particular order

- some awesome people got married in some beautiful settings
- about 1000 feet of new trail were built in the Marin Headlands
- nearly 400 feet of existing trail have been "rehabilitated" in the same spot (with more to come)
- many, many (bad) plants were poisoned and/or yanked/sawed/cut from the ground
- singing mic-ed was tested (and happily not recorded)
- some folks learned that there's more to environmentalism than recycling (and that the only time to go to Muir Woods is before 9 a.m.)
- it was determined that a furry cat and a furry dog is one too many furry animals in the house
- sleep deprivation was experimented with and rejected as a concept (though not as a lifestyle)

One of these days I'll have an original thought to share, but until then I leave you with this question: Exactly when did the Red Hot Chili Peppers start sucking and is the radio simply playing them out of nostalgia or am I missing some genius in their inane repetitiveness?

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is this weekend. New York may still be better, but SF has many, many more awesome, free, public, drunken festivals. AND fun people are in town. Twang on.

26 August 2006

Never again

will I leave the beloved insulation of urban life. I will travel by plane from city to city, occasionally visiting lovely liberal towns like Missoula and Marfa, but there will be no more of this suburbia or any “real country living.” Today, for reasons too ridiculous to explain, I heard/saw a cow get shot and slaughtered. I’m not really traumatized by this so much as, well, eeew-ed out. That and due to my proximity to the experience I can categorically say that the cow was not killed with respect, kindness, or care, despite being one of a handful of cows on a family farm. So there goes that myth. Following the cow incident was a brief trip to a mall (what?) where, among other things, I heard an adult man use the words “c**ksucking motherf***ers” in conversation with a six-year-old. Now, I’m no expert, but that doesn’t seem cool. I’m now safely back in the land of sirens, crackheads (is this un-p.c.? “people suffering from an addiction to the ‘crack’ for of cocaine”?), and cantankerous roommates, where the worst I have to worry about is getting my sh*t stolen, and, apparently, not wearing the right thing to the right part of the right wedding.

In other news, David Brooks can kiss my butt. For those of you who don’t have the joys of TimesSelect (or this “paper” I hear so much about), dude just wrote a whole diatribe on the conventionality of tattoos and how lame they now are. Here’s my guess – someone’s daughter just got a butterfly tattoo on her hip, and this is how daddy communicates/expresses his feelings (p.s. I know absolutely nothing about D.B. except that he’s wearing a pink shirt in his profile picture). Just to get it out of the way, here’s an incomplete list of things that I do/have that might be considered “conformist displays of individuality”:

Have tattoos
Am pierced
Play in a band
Live in San Francisco
Go to trendy bars with friends
Wear pants
Eat “ethnic” food
Do not eat animals
Am not married, with child, or a parent
Have a blog
Work for an environmental non-profit
Read good books
Read the Onion

I hate to say that there’s nothing new under the sun, but living in this place makes it difficult to imagine that I’ll ever do anything that someone else hasn’t already tried. Does that make me “vanilla middle class” and “absolutely mainstream”? Does the fact that Kevin Federline and I both have tattoos make us lump-able? Dear god, let’s hope not.

18 August 2006

So this is what a neglected blog looks like (actually, this is what a neglected blog really looks like, not to name any names…), but I’m finally back in the world of home-internet and so I guess it’s time for an update. That and two of the approximately four people that actually read this have recently noted that I am, in fact, not dead.

Where’ve I been? Well, it all started with a vacation, which was awesome (check out the pics on flickr. If you want to see the real ones with real human friends in them, email me). It started at the High Sierra Music Festival, complete with the likes of Keller Williams, Hot Buttered Rum, Bela Fleck and Nickel Creek. I think the real highlights were the pick-a-long with the crazy-awesome Jake Shimabukuro and the workshop with Bela and Chris Thiele. I had high hopes for the late night Bela and Nickel Creek show, but apparently the non-mando playing members of Nickel Creek decided not to play with Bela…but it was still pretty awesome and inspiring.

Four days of good fun, great friends, and fantastic music was followed by a short solo backpacking trip along the Lost Coast. It was amazing, I chased a bear out of my awesome campsite (note photo of successful bear bag), and I was reminded yet again that I shouldn’t try to vacation places where I’m too familiar with the vegetation. Nothing like feeling totally out in the middle of nowhere only to come upon a f***ing pampas grass (Cortaderia jubata and/or C. selloana) infestation. Boo. But old growth redwoods are pretty rad. Yes, I hugged one or two.

Finally, I cruised up to Eugene, Oregon, to check out the Oregon Country Fair. I can’t quite explain this one to you…this is the kind of place where it is spelled faerie, people wear stilts, and one can purchase and don these. Pretty intense. Next year I want to be on the inside!

But, yes, all that was over a month ago now. I returned from the vacation to move the following weekend (I now am an integral part of the gentrification of the area surrounding The Independent), and we just got the internet humming yesterday. In addition, my plant killing and trail building responsibilities have led to some unfortunate sleeping situations (as in, not getting enough), so don’t expect much for the next few months, but I’ll try to be more forthcoming.

Glad to be back, internet. I’ve missed you.

27 June 2006

I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting something crucial...

25 June 2006


This is a birds-eye shot (-ish) of day one of preparations for Hippie Road Trip 2006. Functional digi pending, pictures to follow.

Lessons I learned today?

One - don't ever store your zip-off pant legs separate from their zippered shorts. You might find yourself with with only one leg, and pondering whether or not you want to wear the old ones with the moss stain/streak on the ass...

Two- never assume that REI will have anything!!! especially maps. and ponchos. and watches that cost less than $30. jerks.

Three- never assume that online stores will be able to fulfill your needs...turns out you can't buy a good poncho and Mary Jane Farms Black Bean Hummus in the same place at the same time. Nor can you buy a map of the Sinkyone Wilderness anywhere. Boo. AND shipping is expensive.

Oh! And it's hard to find violin strings on a Sunday in SF. Who knew? Basically this was a day of shopping for stuff and not buying anything (except for at Sports Basement, which we love.)

But it was also Pride. Yet another example of San Francisco's institutionalized public drunkenness; something New York has yet to really embrace. And it's hard to be too pissed off about shopping woes when overwhelmed by the amazingly beautiful and incredible ethnic/ social/ economic/ gender/ sexual (/not so political) diversity that exists on the streets of San Francisco.

06 June 2006

Feels Like Home to Me

Biking home from band practice I take a wrong turn through Golden Gate Park (stoopid museum construction detours!) then hit a bump and lose my rear light. On the unlit (‘cept my headlight) mid-park road I pause to grab the blinker and reassess my directional decision. A car cruises by and slows ever so slightly. As I give him (or her?) my best “fuck-you-motherfucker-I-fought-off-a-mugger-in-Bed-Stuy” look I realize that this is what makes San Francisco San Francisco for me – biking, fiddle on my back, not sure where I’m going, letting a bit of New York slip out.

A few blocks later I’m home, I park the bike in the garage (ah, SF) and then discover that my flat’s front door is wide fucking open. Who knows how long it’s been like that, but I shut it, assuming that the last one out of my housemate’s meditation study group left it ajar, or that it's part of some spiritual cleansing that should be stopped. But I ask, and it seems that, in fact, he just forgot to shut it while forgetting to water the very, very sad fuchsia hanging by the door. But no one in the neighborhood seems to have noticed the oversight, and all is well.

And so it goes. Creepy date today, no? Too bad that movie ruined it.

p.s. I went to New York this weekend. More on that, with some pictures, soon.

22 May 2006

So, I'm sifting through files on my computer trying to find the final report for this project that I worked on back in the day, which, though unsuccessful, led to the rediscovery of a bunch of stuff I wrote when I was trapped in Texas. Apparently while in Texas I spent a good deal of time thinking about how much more fun I had while trapped* in New Hampshire, and, more importantly, a lovely game we used to play called "F**k, kill, marry." My personal challenge (at the time)?: Howard Roark, Hank Stamper, and Dave Eggers.

Another great game is "Sinking ship" where you take all of the people in your immediate social situation (in NH a house of 8) and decide the order in which you would throw them off a sinking ship in order to, presumably, save yourself and whoever you're playing the game with.

I've had some wierd (and fantastic) summers.

*By "trapped" I mean living somewhere isolated from things like the internet, phones, TV, sane people, and cultural stimuli, but surrounded by wildlife, crazy folk, and alcohol.

20 May 2006

What am I up to?

So, part of my job involves a "trail use study," which means I spend many hours every couple of weeks counting the number of people who use certain trails. This would be fascinating except that NO ONE USES THE TRAILS. That's not true. But in the 6 hours I was out last week I saw approximately 10 people. Sure, sure, this means I get paid to hang out in nature and do pretty much nothing, which is awsome, except when I do actually have other things to do with my working hours (which is always). But here we are. So I decided to start taking pictures of flowers, and these are the winners. Plus this gave me an excuse to figure out the flickr thing (partially). My favorite is still this one:
Because the native plantains get so little love, and they're pretty freaking adorable in their itsy-bitsy-ness.

I've also spent some of that time thinking about what I would get if I got another tattoo, and who I would have do it. But don't worry...no more tattoos in the near future.

11 May 2006


If I ever have the opportunity to really, truly warp the mind of a young person, my big plan is to do so by only ever showing him or her maps that look like this (or derivations thereof):

This map, originally produced by the SASI group, shows all the countries of the world in actual land-area proportion to eachother. As we map geeks know, most maps are some derivation or another of trying to project a spherical-ish surface (the globe) on to a flat page or screen. Which leads to lots of distortion, getting worse and worse as you move away from the equator. And, since most of the developed world lies signinficantly north (or south, hi New Zealand!) of the equator, these projections could give us developed-world-ers an inflated sense of our importance (at least geographically).*

I've flipped the map upside-down because, from the perspective of the universe, what is up? The only reason we draw north as "up" is because the first folks to figure out this whole map-drawing-printing-and-distributing thing drew themselves living on the top of the planet. Does it matter? Not really. Not climatologically. In fact, looking at the map this way reminds me of why it's so much colder in Siberia than it is in South Africa.

So, would a kid raised on this map freak out when he got to the first grade and saw his first north-up interrupted sinusoidal projection? Maybe. But that's what independent parent cooperative schools are for, right? So no kid ever gets called a freak because they know what Lambert conformal conic means.

* I should note here that maps like this are NOT good for navigation. That's a whole other thing. Really any projected map isn't very good for navigation over long distances.

08 May 2006

Talent? Ain’t no such thang.

I was recently at a bar (no!) discussing the fact that doing things you’re not good at totally sucks. I, for example, “am not good at” learning languages. Or having rhythm. My conversation partner (can that be a new category on Friendster?) “is not good at” skate skiing. But, of course, along come the internet and some numbers/econ geeks to point out that the whole concept of “not [inherently] good at” is false. I actually found this column to be quite inspiring…or at least leveling. The conversation in the bar led to us both pondering the few times that we’d transitioned from “not good at” to “okay.” My favorite personal example is snowboarding. There was a time when I was terrible at it. I have walked down mountains (bunny slopes) and spent entire days more on my butt than on my feet. My right knee is f***ed up partially thanks to that period of learning. But I don’t suck at snowboarding any more. I’m not particularly good, but I’m aware that it’s due to a lack of commitment and the fact that I’m a big chicken, not a lack of talent.

Chicken-ness and lack of commitment are things I can control, and it’s somehow reassuring that, theoretically, when I try to learn new things I am in control of my success. So the fact that I’m not very good at playing the fiddle is because I’m not trying hard enough (which is true). And it’s up to me to change that. Or to give up and add ‘playing a musical instrument’ to the long list of things I’ve bailed on.

The column also claims that “when it comes to choosing a life path, you should do what you love — because if you don't love it, you are unlikely to work hard enough to get very good.” What they gloss over is how you come upon things you actually love to do. It ain’t talent, but if our likes and dislikes beget skills, how do we develop likes and dislikes? Some are clear – I like and am good at reading maps because my father is an architect and I grew up reading plans. I am not good at team sports because neither of my parents played any, nor did they encourage me to do so. But my excessive love for trees (there must be a latin word for this)? Or my sense of humor that verges on the completely bizarre?* the root of these is a mystery even to me. But because I believe that the nature/nurture question is weighted towards the nurture side, I’m guessing they’re somehow subtly environmental.

How does this help to solve the problems of the world? Well, if more people believed that what was standing between them and success was (1) finding something they love doing and (2) working hard at it, I’m pretty sure the world would be a better place. Or, to take it the step further that the column does, the best thing would be to raise children in an environment that encourages as many likes and passions as possible. Except bad passions, like schmoozing politicians, making and distributing tacos in lieu of the mail, or getting other people addicted to drugs. Some passions should go unfulfilled.

*Britt- have you seen this? Watch “Blueberry” immediately.

03 May 2006

Opposite day?

First of all, Tom Friedman is talking about a third "environmental" party like it's a new idea. Um, what? Admittedly, during the last election he was too busy thinking about Israel and 9/11 to worry too much about the environment, but did he really miss the entire Nader campaign? Say what you want, but pretty much if it weren't for third party candidates, we'd have a green president, damnit.

Second, Mark Morford can't just complain about everything. Writing an article that basically is against smart growth (i.e. generally building denser developments with mixed-use commercial/residential. Google it.) because it does involve a lot of Pottery Barn cleanliness is just stupid. If someone chooses to live in an apartment above a Sunglass Hut where they can WALK to the Whole Foods, WALK to their yoga classes, hair appointments, and botox sessions, and take a shuttle or BIKE to their middle managment job at the nearby office park, that's f***ing awesome. Because that person wasn't choosing between that lifestyle and our hipster urban I-don't-own-a-car shop at Rainbow make my own underwear world. It was this clean, Disney-ified version of urban life or an actual tract home, where they'd DRIVE 20 or 50 or 100 miles a day in their Passat or Excursion or H3 to do the same things, only isolated from the world, on their ass, and belching noxious fumes the entire way. There are more people. There will be more homes. Mixed-use in-filling is so far the best option. Get over it.

23 April 2006

Making the world a better place

one little tiny sweater at a time.
Could this be any more adorable?
photo credit: LDS, Grist.

19 April 2006

I have been known to complain about my job. I don’t like the negativity of that fact, but it is, empirically, low paying, highly stressful, and, sometimes, uninteresting (or interesting to someone, just not me). But then there are days like these. Days when I get to hike around ostensibly “mapping invasive plant species” in the brilliant sunshine. Sure, I got stuck in a poison oak thicket, sure, I’m getting a farmer’s tan, and, sure, I slipped and fell on my (metal) clipboard, but who cares when it’s this freaking nice out. Please ignore the invasive trees encroaching on coastal scrub habitat.

p.s. I realize having my toes in this picture looks a bit ridiculous. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
p.p.s. If you squint you can see Mt. Diablo. For those of you unfamiliar with the territory, I grew up just south (to the right in this picture) of that mountain.

10 April 2006

In my 24th year* I…

- landed my first real job
- learned to accept (tolerate? weather?) professional and academic failure
- started rock climbing
- did not leave the country
- began to learn to play fiddle
- cried more than I’d hoped to
- gained a relative
- was reminded of the beauty, kindness, and strength of my friends
- got a (-nother) tattoo. But no piercings.
- thought about death
- read some pretty good books
- was granted ‘administrative’ privileges to my work computer twice
- shaved my legs three times
- tried to remember the difference between want and need
- happily shifted from ‘acquaintance’ to ‘friend’ several times over
- listened to a lot of great music
- knitted many scarves (+ two hats and a baby blanket)
- met at least seven fantastic people
- accidentally ate bacon once
- went on my first solo backpacking trip
- played Edward 40-hands twice
- started a filing system for my non-work papers
- made peace with my parents
- got poison oak on my face three times
- lived in only one city
- bought eight pairs of shoes
- over-thought several insignificant things (and a few significant ones)
- almost always meant it

What will the 25th year bring? ‘Tiz unclear. I’ve got some ideas and requests (no expectations, this time), but a firm belief that expressing wishes makes them not come true prevents me from telling. Let’s just say that I’d like this year to find me less petty and more athletic.

*Okay, I know that technically the year that I was 24 was really my 25th year, as I was 0 + X months for my first year of life, yadda-yadda-yadda, but get over it. It’s like when we geeks pointed out that 2000-2001 was really the millennium. No one cared. It was 1999-2000 that really mattered. Deal.

31 March 2006

the itchy and scratchy show!

I have a tendency to miss small details in life. I tend to over-commit to things, leading to the occasional fainting spell and/or heartbreak. This inattention to my own personal well-being has also led to the following list:

Places I Have Poison Oak (today)

both ankles
both forearms
in between my ring and middle fingers on my left hand
on the top of my middle finger on my right hand
my right elbow-pit
my right knee-pit
just below my right collar bone
the left side of my neck
the bridge of my nose

Fortunately nowhere totally inappropriate (yet) - I hear nipple p.o. is a doozy.

27 March 2006

Feng shui, or something

According to Supernaturale, feng shui says, "To find your love area stand in your doorway (the door to your home, your apartment, your room if you share a household). The love area is the furthest most rightest corner."

My love corner therefore consists of (1) my over-full closet, (2) a bag of recycling that really needs to be taken out, and (3) an IKEA lamp that is currently holding a very wet, very poison-oak-covered pair of Carhartts. Hmmm...perhaps some rose quartz crystals are in order.

It also says feng shui is anti-tree, though, so that just can't be right.

16 March 2006

Feminism be damned.

I am not a fan of male chauvinism. Larry Summers – not my guy. I am a huge fan of equal pay for equal work, the ERA, and a general avoidance of discrimination. I have, in fact, been called a “screaming feminist” (sorry for the repetition here) by men who like to wear shirts that imply that they are lesbians. I am, however, also not the kind of woman who has to deal with a lot of male chauvinism. I work in a field dominated by women and I almost never get hit-on by strangers.

But there are certain times in my life when I’m reminded of how awesome it is to be a young woman of precarious means. Say, hypothetically, that I rear-ended an Audi today on my way down to City College. After calling my mom to cry, calling the insurance company to report, and getting my general shit back together (and out of my car), I faced a seriously bent hood on a very small, very meek, very inexpensive Daewoo (that’s a kind of car, for those of you not cool enough to know that). So I headed to a recommended body shop, pointed at the hood of my car, noted that I only had liability insurance, and was told to “wait till Dan got back from his break.” “Dan,” my friends, in the course of 30 minutes called me “darlin’” at least four times, told me that he could “fix anything but a broken heart” (literally. fortunately Pierre’s bent hood was not heartbreak caliber), fixed my car, and let me choose how much I would pay for the endeavor. This rocks. An otherwise shitty week totally salvaged by some random dude’s kindness and metal-hammering skills.

Of course, they might treat all customers the same way. If my dad drove his Mercedes in with his 6 feet of height, silver hair, and golf-club polo shirt, trying to get a dent fixed, they might have let him pay cash and called him darlin’. Or if I had bitched instead of sniffled, and been wearing a suit instead of jeans they might still have said when I asked how much, “Well, whatever.” I’ll never know. That’s what’s funny about life. Empathize all we want, we really have no idea what it’s like to be someone other than ourselves (unless you have an identical twin, I guess). What would it be like to walk through the world prettier or blonder or less pretty or male or really tall or super-short? Partially deaf? With an extra toe? With perfect pitch? I have no idea. But I do know that when faced with a mechanic or a hardware store clerk, I’m damn glad to be a woman.

Here’s a related question: why is it that when you have limited car insurance, mechanics try to work with you to save you money, but when you have limited health insurance doctors go out of their way to screw you. I once got a root canal thinking I didn’t have dental insurance, but really wanting the root canal, only to find out that I was still insured (thank you, California Teacher’s Union). When the dentist went to file with the insurance company they also had to reimburse me, because they’d charged me the “uninsured price” which is MORE than what they charge insurance companies. Uh, unfair? So is it the insurance companies themselves sucking? Or is it that most mechanics know what it’s like to have weak car insurance, but most doctors have spent their entire lives happily health-insured? Or something else? Also, I’ve never had a doctor call me darlin’. Though that might be a little creepy.

09 March 2006

When P.C. misses the point.

Okay, so I admit that I read a disproportionate number of NYT articles just because they have the word “Yale” in the title (or, more and more, the names of people I know. WTF?). That said, here’s another that makes me cringe.

So at the end of this month the Yale Law School will hold a symposium on executive power. The presidential kind, not the CEO kind (are they different?) One of the people who is going to speak is John Yoo, the dude who wrote the memo for the current administration that justifies torture (in the legal sense) and who thinks wire tapping, any war-time, any place, is just dandy. I actually think anyone with something to say should (if invited) be able to say their piece without censure in an academic setting, but at a liberal law school, what is there to do if not protest.

But what are our dear Yalies protesting? Some 21-year-old who took notes when he was a law student (oh, and apparently he’s a genius) and used the n-word to mean African American. Then prudently posted the notes on the internet (not because of his stellar vocabulary, but because this is normal in law school land). Now, I’m not saying it’s a good idea to use racial (or any other kind of) slurs, in note-taking or otherwise, but SERIOUSLY? This is what's being protested? And the kid already apologized. Several times.

I’d like to think that the YL folk are letting Mr. Yoo come just so they can throw rocks at him, and that this silliness with language is just a diversion, but somehow I doubt it. Not that it bears comparison, but if you looked at any of my class notes from when I was 18, you wouldn’t find racial slurs, but you would definitely find some inappropriate comments. (Actually, I think I spent most of that year counting the number of times a certain professor used the word “concatenate” in a class. An average of more than once is all you need to know. But I digress.) What's the right analogy-cliche here? The elephant in the room? Throwing the baby out with the bath water? Fixating on the minutia of one person's past word choices while ignoring his peer's anti-Geneva Convention sentiments?

There’s, like, a war and shit right now, and our best and brightest legal minds are getting huffy and (more importantly) spending their scholarly time protesting a word that, for many factions of our culture (including much of the faction that the word is a slur towards), is just part of the vernacular? If a guy who thinks that German shepherds are a reasonable interrogation device is allowed to speak and debate, shouldn’t the guy who made a poor short-hand decision have that same privilege?

04 March 2006

Yes and no.

This is great. Perhaps negative, but great.

This is a ridiculous and terrible idea. The definition of "native" is loose, I agree, but unless you're going to create different types for each regional watershed, cut it out. You're introducing non-indigenous seed. And, um, not to make assumptions about other people's hygiene, but I usually try to find places that are already vegetated when I need to relieve myself. Who shits in a clearcut?

23 February 2006

out-cooled again

just when I think I might be kinda creative, someone comes along and completely destroys me. case in point, woman who crochets tree/log sweaters.

I am in awe. Check out more tree sweaters (and awesomely bizarre mounted crocheted deer heads) here. (Stephen, this is exactly what your fireplace needs!)

15 February 2006

Really Large Body of Water

New life plan (early today I called it an "interim personal management strategy." yeesh. too much bureacracy in my life.):

"I'll eat when I am hungry, and I'll drink when I am dry. Get drunk whenever I'm ready, get sober by and by." (The River Driver) Especially when sung by adorable (though long-haired) boys in 4-part harmony.

As Brett pointed out, live music is great. Instant mood elevator. Especially when it's kick-ass music and combined with whiskey and good friends. So check out Great Big Sea, and go see them in your town. (but don't even try to get them to play a wedding. They'll say no.)

Who needs romance anyway?

05 February 2006

Just goofy?

There is, I suspect, a fine line between goofy-weird and creepy-weird. I am comfortable with my goofy-weird status. I honestly hug trees, read about hydrology for fun, and eat plain raw tofu on a daily basis. Goofy-weird. But then there’s creepy-weird. And nothing says creepy-weird like taxidermy and basements. Last spring Katy, Stephen, and Tom found a fully intact dead mole. After keeping it in our office freezer next to the free bagels (shhh, don’t tell OSHA) for several months, Katy and I decided to hike up our skirts and do something about it. So we let it thaw, then we skinned it (we’re both bio/anatomy nerds), regrettably chucking the inside bits (we should have kept the skull), tanned its wee hide (easier than you’d think), and stretched it on a piece of cardboard to dry. Then, due to the, um, inappropriate nature of an animal skin in the workplace, I put it in an unused drawer of my desk for safe-keeping.

There were big plans for this mole skin, but, well, things change, people move to different states, other people become spastic, forgetful stress-cases, the world turns…So yesterday I consolidated offices and came face to face with the tanned skin of a mole that had been sitting in a drawer of my desk FOR SIX MONTHS. Say what I want about who I am and where I stand on the goofy- v. creepy-weird rubric, I am the kind of person who doesn’t mind (1) dealing with a dead animal, (2) thawing and skinning a found dead animal, then tanning it, and (3) KEEPING IT IN A DRAWER OF MY DESK.

But times must change and my new desk is much smaller, so I yet again found myself alone in a basement with a dead animal skin, a picture frame, and the uncomfortable realization that I wasn’t uncomfortable at all. Here is our handiwork. We don’t know the species, because, well, you need a fleshless skull for that. So it is just a mole. Framed, on the wall of the interns’ office.
Yeah...probably creepy.

30 January 2006

Belated Dishing

Vying for the blue ribbon in so-late-it’s-no-longer-relevant criticism, I would like to point out that Maureen Dowd’s new-ish book pretty much sucks. Posted by my desk is a column of hers from last year titled “Dish it out, Ladies” (13 March 2005) which I dutifully cut out for her use of the word “kerfuffle” and the sentence, “Going from Tess Harding to Carrie Bradsaw, Dorothy Thompson to Candace Bushnell, is not progress.” I thought it a swell column and was excited to learn that she was writing a book on the topic of surviving as an intelligent, opinionated woman in the modern world (ahem…). Ignoring the not so stellar review in her own paper, I shelled out for the hardbound and lugged it on a cross-country flight last November (side note: on the trip home the dude next to me looked up from his New Yorker and noted, “Ah, I see you’re reading Dowd’s new book. Frah-frah-frah.” My knee-jerk reaction was to think, pretentious fuckers. Several minutes later it occurred to me that I was the one holding the book and that I was the one on a flight back from an event I, myself, have referred to as “the only game that matters.” It’s cold over here in the land of hypocrisy, let me tell you. Fun, but a little chilly).

I slogged through Are Men Necessary?, whole-heartedly agreeing with the Times reviewer’s comment that a good column doesn’t always translate into a good book. I would go so far as to say that about ten good columns, clumsily spliced together with even more short, repetitive paragraphs listing random stuff (why? why the lists?) along with heavy quoting from an absolutely brilliant book (Woman: an Intimate Geography, by Natalie Angier), which some assistant production editor then MIS-CITED on the editor’s page, definitely does not make a good book.

Then last night I found myself partway through three books that all happen to be focused on the rural middle part of the country.* Not ready to face another chapter of desolate, beautiful vistas, cattle ranching, and/or fly-fishing, I picked up AMN? for a quick recap. Now, I have on occasion been called a “screaming feminist” by my friends. I prefer articulate, well-poised humanist (and, perhaps, arborist), but whatever. I take women’s issues seriously and I don’t joke around (much) when the realities of gender inequality come up. But, hell, after 338 pages of gibberish, other people’s facts, and general whinge-ing, even I was thinking, Yeesh, this woman needs to get LAID.

The book blows. My advice? Read Ms. Angier’s book if you want to learn something about how women function from a biological perspective. Read Sarah Vowell’s books if you want to read funny essays written by an intelligent, opinionated woman. And if you want to know what people are doing (and not doing) in the world of trying to fit in to our WASPy, male, hetro-normative society, read last week’s Times Magazine article about “covering” (Yoshino, 15 January 2006). And if you’re frah-frah enough to subscribe to TimesSelect, or to (gasp!) have the actual paper delivered to your actual doorstep, keep reading Maureen Dowd’s columns. She’s a smart lady.

*Collapse, by Jared Diamond; Close Range, by Annie Proulx, and The Memory of Old Jack, by Wendell Berry.

26 January 2006


discussion I just had with my office buddy has led to the conclusion that I (1) have quite a bit of gray hair, but (2) am not optimizing my genetic predisposition. Given that I am predisposed to the gray (if you've seen my dad's head or my mom's roots, you'll agree), stress and tragedy have made me one prematurely aged young lady. However, what I'm missing is a good heartbreak. One serious soul-crusher should just about do it (of course, there's extreme illness too, but I feel like that's going above and beyond). So now I've just got to track down one of those, and then I will have truly maximized my prematurely gray potential. Excellent.

In other news I've spent all day seeking out and digitizing historic deviations from the current coastal trail. So I'm feeling a bit loopy.

25 January 2006

Funniest thing I've heard all day

Okay, so I’ve been working now for about 14 hours straight. (that’s a lie. I took two hours off from 5-7) Normally that wouldn’t be so bad, except for what I’m now, at 10 pm, working on. Did you know that people are paid very good money to draw the distinction that a corral is historic while the fence around it is not? So the CONCEPT of the corral is historic but the thing that makes it functional is not. WTF? On top of that, other people (me) are paid less well to turn that information digital and spatial. Awesome.

On the up side, this incredibly boring task has let me quasi-listen to all the awesome music I bought yesterday. What did I buy? Several incredibly cheap CDs, thanks to Amoeba’s “disc surface doesn’t look perfect” clause. The new Ryan Adams is growing on me, as is Son Volt (anyone else think he sounds just like a mid-80s Michael Stipe? I’ve been listening to Okemah but keep getting “Gardening at Night” stuck in my head.) And Gillian Welch’s first album. I figure if this SF enviro-geek thing is going to be my lifestyle I might as well try to get in to the music.

But NONE OF THIS compares to the real winner, John Prine’s John Prine. Not only does it have Paradise, which until now I’d only heard sung by Katy (or myself) and therefore had no idea it was A WALTZ!!!! But it also has the most amazingly premonitive (shut up, it could be a word) song I’ve ever heard. Or just more proof that (1) things never really change and (2) it’s starting to feel a lot like Vietnam. The song is called “Your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore” and the chorus is:

But your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore,
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war,
And Jesus don’t like killing no matter what the reason’s for,
And your flag decal won’t get you into heaven any more.

And then, of course, it’s JP so there’s a fun little story. This album is from 1971. Yeesh. And I feel the same way now (minus the assumption that heaven and Jesus actually exist). To everything turn, turn, turn.

Alright. These historic hedgerows aren’t going to digitize themselves.

22 January 2006

Hey. That's not funny.

I just scored 32.74162% (Total Geek) on the geek test. This is apparently significantly higher than the scores of most people my very geeky friend knows. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. Since when does wanting a yurt and watching the Weather Channel make me a geek??? Oh, right. Try it, it's fun.

p.s. Snowboarding is awesome. Even when you break a fall with your head and shoulder, then at the end of the day spend nearly an hour digging yourself out of out-of-bounds powder while hoping your friends haven't yet called ski patrol. Still awesome. (note vague attempt to feel less like a geek. I snowboard! mmm. no dice, eh?)

20 January 2006

You might be a hippie if...

The fact that I think that THIS is the coolest idea ever definitely makes me a hippie geek. Josh and I are going to start one now, so it should be ready for us around retirement age :)

18 January 2006


Okay, if I ever refer to myself as a slacker and any of y'all ever disagree, try this one on: my laptop has been broken, like, non-functional broken, since last September. It's January. I just got it fixed. Of course, I do have 24-hour access to my office, and now a work laptop as well, so I wasn't really suffering from lack of internet, just abusing office resources, which is, well, the American way. But now no more. (for the time being we will ignore the fact that the new screen was installed improperly and will necessitate some more sweet, sweet phone-time with the friendly Dell folks).

What does this mean? It means that I can download things that let me post pictures to my (as yet almost un-viewed) blog!!! And since I was able to salvage some of the old hard drive (that's right, lost the HD and the screen at the same time. Wierd.), I also can reminisce about the past. So here's a good one:

This is Mila and I somewhere in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, Summer 2004. She is whittling a spoon, I am pretending to read Ed Abbey. Huzzah for pictures!

In the future there will hopefully be many craft-related pictures, as I still have big plans to abuse my work-provided digital camera.

14 January 2006

Going to a beer garden in January makes me think about...

The things that I miss about New York:
(1) Fall
(2) Insulated buildings
(3) Snowflakes
(4) Real hipsters
(5) the Brewery
(6) Spring! (the event-ness of it, as opposed to this crazy cherry-blooms-in-January anti-climactic b.s.)
(7) the people (known and unknown)
(8) public transportation
(9) those moments you have on the subway where you thing something’s funny and someone else thinks it’s funny too and they catch your eye and you smile but can’t laugh because the thing you both think is funny is probably another person.

Things that I don’t miss about New York:
(1) slush
(2) those weird piles of black snow that hide in the shadows and last until May
(3) ironic mullets
(4) baking cookies in July in a building without air conditioning
(5) the rent
(6) Paris Hilton
(7) construction on the L-train
(8) $7 beers being normal
(9) that occasional uncontrollable feeling of rage and frustration when you momentarily realize that your entire existence is based on things and systems entirely outside of your control.

08 January 2006

In the ever thrilling race of the paperwhites (Narcissus 'paperwhite'), the kitchen has decidedly beat out my bedroom and the living room. With a flower bud breaking earlier today, and another bud well on its way, the kitchen bulb wins. My room is the obvious loser - only one real bud in three bulbs, so far, and the stems are all bent - but that's no surprise, given that the light sucks. The living room bulbs are holding there own, and I expect great things soon.

If you haven't planted any indoor bulbs this winter, I highly recommend you get on that. Paperwhites are my favorites, as they're tiny and beautiful and smell like candy (well, floral candy), but one big amaryllis bulb will also brighten your day. I expect I'll be acquiring some hyacinths in the near future as well.
Dendrochronology, for those of you who’ve never heard of an increment borer, is “the science of dating events and variations in environment in former periods by comparative study of growth rings in trees and aged wood,” or so says Webster’s. I like trees. A lot. I grew up in dry, inland California, where we don’t have too many trees, so it’s not a childhood memory kind of thing, and I also like milled timber, so it’s probably not a spiritual thing. I think what I really like about trees is that they’re so slow compared to the rest of life. Woody plants are the oldest living things on earth (NOTE: I just googled “oldest living thing” expecting to find info about the friendly bristlecone pine, only to discover that according to the High Country News (hi Dan!) it’s actually a freaking creosote bush outside of Barstow – 11,700 years old. Whatev. If it has bark…). We humans are conceived, are born, grow, whither, and die in the time it takes some trees just to get out of their ancestors’ shadows. And if you chop one down, it still probably isn’t dead – it’ll root- or stump-sprout and just keep on truckin’. But this blog isn’t really about trees.

Except when important tree related things are going on. Like right now the magnolias are in bloom (here in SF, that is). I walked under one near Stanyan and Haight on Saturday, and it smelled delicious. Fun facts about magnolias? The magnolia family is one of the most primitive woody plant families, as indicated by the fact that the flowers do not have sepals (the green leafy segments that protect most buds before they bloom). And magnolias are pollinated by beetles, so that delicious smell? Yeah, it’s for beetles. Not for you. Last but not least, my favorite east coast tree, the tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), is actually in the magnolia family (Magnoliaceae), despite having little tiny flowers that no one gets to smell because they’re too high up in the canopy.

Phew. So, this is my first post in my third attempt at having a blog. Sometimes it will be funny. Often (apparently) it will have fun info about trees (send questions!) Rarely, I hope, will it be irritatingly self-deprecating, whiny, or bitter. But the year is young and the blog is new. At least I promise my next post will have very little to do with trees.

So let’s make this quick – New Year’s resolutions (actually, I didn’t really make any. But if I did…):
(1) Say “like” less
(2) See above comment about blog content, apply to life
(3) Climb a 5.10
(4) Play the fiddle breaks in Wagon Wheel (well)
(5) Bike to work at least once a week (more when it’s dry, less when it’s rainy)
(6) Roll over last year’s ‘under-achieved’ resolutions (and acknowledge those I achieved)
(7) Enjoy the good parts, weather the crappy
(8) Re-read all the science books I bought in 2005 and actually retain some of the information in them
(9) Appreciate my (albeit brief) foray into the world of grown-up working life.
(10) Rock on.