Toad in the Hole May 2006 Archives

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May 31, 2006

The Arrogant Arborist #2: Basics and Butchery


Now, it's easy to tell that this tree has been brutalized. There's no excuse for this sort of crap, and the people who did it and the people who paid for it should be beaten with large burlap bags of wet shit until they pass out, and then roused up and beaten some more. And then drowned in it.

Ok, maybe not drowned unless they've done this before. Gee, what are the chances?

No, this is not the start of a rational, if weird, course of pollarding. The tree's too old; the cuts are too big and ill-placed. This is just stupid.

I console myself with the thought that the tree's not long for this world anyway, partly because of the results of a similarly too-big cut some years ago, clearly evident here.


That big picturesque hole shows the failure of the tree to "heal" -- actually, to compartmentalize decay -- after a big limb was cut off. Trees deal with decay organisms by creating a chemical barrier in their live wood in the path of the organisms' colonies. When a bad cut is made, especially a cut that leaves a stub, the tree can't raise its defenses fast enough to stop the organisms that have had a headstart, so to speak, in the protruding wood.

It's also bad to make the old-fashioned "flush cut" that leaves no protrusion at all. The tree's main defense lies in the branch collar, a zone of live and lively wood that circles every branch at its origin in the trunk or larger limb. This might sound mysterious, but trees as a rule show you right where that zone is, under a visible turtleneckish lump circling the limb base, called the "bark branch collar." The thing to do it to cut just outside that lump -- or even into it, if there's a very good reason, so long as you leave as much of it as possible. Best to leave it all.

How to tell whether you've left too much on the tree? Try to hang your hat on it. If you can (ruling out knit toques and such, yes) then you've left a stub and you need to trim it off. If your reasonably weighty hat falls off the lump, you've done it right.

What might not be so obvious here is that this mess is also a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Look closely here and at the biggest magnification on the Flickr page -- I left my antigravity belt at home, so this is as close as I could get to the thing:


See in particular that little whippy twig coming straight off the bottom of the cut? That's where it shows best. If it doesn't snap off in the next heavy wind -- and, as this is a weeping willow, it might not -- it will keep growing and someday be a branch. But it will have originated not in the central or nearly-central wood of the tree, not in the wood that would have been live wood of some years back and been progressively strengthened by layers of sap- and then heartwood around it, but will be completely superficial, and thus attached only weakly to the tree. It will grow fast, though, as will the other twigs the tree puts out in a panicked attempt to recuperate its foodmaking leafy branches before it starves to death.

And then it will break off and fall on some hapless passer-by's head.

OK, maybe not; that path is not heavily trafficked. (Yes, by the way, that's Mount Tamalpias in the background.) The branch will break off, though; gravity's a bitch that way. And the mess would be entirely preventable and its existence demonstrates negligence. Wonder how good that building's or grounds' owner's insurance is? Wonder if they ever thought to budget a bit for, hm, what's the opposite of dangerous vandalism? And that's not even getting into the offense against a living being and the sensibilities of anyone sensible.

Here's one on the same lot, slightly less obvious but just dumb.


It's a red ironbark, one of very few well-behaved eucs that look great in urban settings. Its bark is gorgeous, like molten pig iron with black on top and glowing red fissures, hence the name. Its foliage is bluegray-green, nice contrast, and on graceful, dancing twigs. One of the best things about eucs is how they dance in the wind, and this is a breezy spot that shows them off well. There's another line of them on the opposite side of the longish pair of three-story office buildings and those trees seem to get treated this way too, unfortunately. On the face of it, it could be mistaken for a radical lacing-out or liontailing, but look closely again. See the stubs? See the twig clusters where the last set of cuts was made? See the difference between the diameters of the twigs and the branches they spring from? All signs of shallow attachment.

And another aesthetic offense besides.

This one might look less dangerous but it's over a deck with seating where people sit to eat lunch, await appointments, and/or just watch the lagoon in front of it, which is fairly birdy in winter and just relaxing otherwise. The sad thing is, you can get away with a lots of pruning on a red ironbark; they're tough. But it does require just a little more knowledge than the people who whacked on this one seem to have.

Posted at 10:28 PM | Comments (1)

May 30, 2006

The Wayback Machine: Crush

Pica's post yesterday reminds me that I had a big childhood crush on Ted Williams. I can hear the radio guy -- Dad's radio, or someone's TV turned up enough to hear from outdoors, on a summer day with the smell of just-mown grass and a sprinkler spray hitting the sidewalk, or, almost, that peculiar scent you get from just-rained-on concrete only in summer, so I rarely get a whiff of it here. The announder's saying, "SWING'namiss, Strike One." The crowd's going, "Rhubarbrhubarbmmmnmnmnmnmnmahhhhhhh" in the background. There was a little bank in the lawn in front of the house, three steps up from the sidewalk, that was the perfect height and angle to lie on and watch clouds or, in fall, migrating birds high overhead. I suppose they were blackbirds, but since I didn't have binocs or a clue then, I can't say for sure. When a really big flock streamed over we'd (I guess by "we" I mean the girls) holler, "That's MY wedding!" First one to holler got dibs on, on, on whatever we were getting dibs on with that, who knows?

I bet the rest of the bunch didn't have three dogs and a pair of golden eagles, hah.

I wonder if they still go over there in such numbers. I do remember a flock of geese once; we knew they were geese at least. Probably Canadas.

Ted Williams was probably my most respectable childhood crush, and the longest-lasting. Well, for values of "respectable" that include or overlook having your head sawn off and frozen. At various ages, starting with maybe three, I had TV crushes on Liberace, Moe Howard of the Three Stooges (I think I identified with him), Hoppy Cassidy, The Cisco Kid (or maybe it was his horse; I definitely had a crush on Fury), and the Fleischer Brothers' version of Popeye.

Of course I was young and chronically confused, and TV was a bit different for me then. I can remember thinking that Walter Cronkite and Walt Disney were the same guy, just less formal on weekends. Must've been the moustache. Those weren't too common in the early- to mid-Fifties.

Posted at 05:42 PM | Comments (4)

May 27, 2006

In Stitches

Postings have been sparse this week mostly because it's been rather busy. It's been Carve-'em-Up Week here at the Blake Street Belfry.

Monday I jaunted down to San Leandro to get my nose carved up. My nose has been annoying most of my life, but never particularly ugly except for being red most of the time. (Think Bill Clinton. But smaller. Now stop that.) However, that's where the (slow, not all that scary) cancer showed up, so that's what got sliced on. Poor nose. Goddamned nose. I'd had that bump -- looked suspiciously like a wart to me, but the various docs called it a "colorless mole" -- for years and years, but my estimable GP, Nicola Hanchock MD, was the first doc to say, "I want you to have a dermatologist look at that. I don't like it."

So I did, and said dermatologist (Teri Dunn MD, whose practice looks awfully glam to me but there was a decent proportion of fellow old farts there) sliced the whole visible thing off by way of biopsy and it was malignant. She said that most of a basal cell carcinoma lies beneath the surface iceberg-style, though, and referred me to another specialist for microscope-guided surgery.

Her slice had been so good and healed so well that the new guy, William Chow DO (!) had trouble finding the spot when I went for the first consult appointment. He had his derm and surgery certs, so I figured OK, DO or not, here goes. He seems (almost suspiciously) non-obnoxious for a surgeon, certainly personable enough in conversation, which is all to the good if one's having wide-awake surgery. The deal is that he cuts out a little bit, runs a frozen section on the cells at its edges While-U-Wait, and if those cells aren't "clean" normal healthy cells he cuts some more; repeat as needed. The frozen sections take an hour or two; anaesthesia is strictly local; the waiting room is neat but small and stuffy. Suggestions included "You could go lie down in the back seat of your car if you have that kind of car..."

The Redoubtable Emma, Taxing Woman and Terror of the AccountantSeas, came down for the weekend and took Monday off to drive us down there. Local anaesthesia or no, I knew I'd be in no shape to drive the freeway afterward; in fact, to keep myself from rising up and biting someone and getting shreds of flesh in my braces -- the nose is one of the more instinctively guarded places of the body, IME -- I took a leftover tab of some benzodiazesomething before leaving. I do have some self-knowledge and even experience in nose slicitude; see above.

The usual pre-op interview started with the interesting question: "Is this your first skin cancer?" Point taken.

So I was numbed, sliced, and be-cottonballed before 11AM and told to return at noon. We decided to look for lunch, and found a Japanese restaurant just down East 14th Street. (Alas, the Gray Wolf bookmine is closed Mondays; we were right in the neighborhood.) I ordered tonkatsu, figuring it was unlikely to get screwed up. In fact it was quite nice, for all that everything came in styrofoam boxes like a platelunch. I should've had a beer, but was feeling conscious of proprieties and had enough to worry about re: getting lunch out of the braces before a close-up face exam. It will surprise no one who has ever laid eyes on me that I dislike and am apprehensive about getting looked at closely by strangers anyway.

The good news was that the frozen section was clean; Dr. Chow had got it all in the first go. I couldn't tell you if he was using a magnifier then or what, as there were two very bright lights in my eyes and a paper sheet with a nose hole in it over them. Anyway, this time he just did the stitching; toward the end the anaesthesia was wearing off -- no pain, but a definite feeling that I was being sewed. Sewn. Whatever. I asked if he'd maybe embrioder a leaf on it, as it was basically a line that would make a good midrib, but he declined. Pity; I might have started a body-mod fad. I swear if he'd done it I'd then see about having the braces beaded.

The (nurse? PA?) put what she called a pressure dressing over the slice, gave me those care instructions they give you, set up a followup, and we all went home and I took a nap. The pressure dressing was a big round cotton ball taped over a bit of gauze, and I was sorely tempted to color it red.

Wednesday I took my nose, now covered by a mere bandaid, to the orthodontist's for a braces adjustment. I'd've left it home but it remains stubbornly attached to the rest of me. The new wires are stiffer yet and I was warned my bottom teeth might ache. They do, but not much; it's all easier to take now that I know what to expect, sort of. Anyway, it's all bright and shiny now and I have glow-in-the-dark brackets again. Don't tell Joe. I keep forgetting to suck on a flashlight and scare him at bedtime.

One note about bandaids, aside from the term's becoming a generic noun like aspirin and kleenex: the "latex-free" plastic jobs from Nexcare (sp?) smell nasty. It's a plastic-industrial smell and I'd never noticed it before, but this one was on my nose, yeuch. I had to find another one, cloth or something, and replace it a few hours after I'd put it on. Also, it's hard to find interesting-looking bandaids in a one-inch width. I might have to resort to hand-coloring what I have. What a nasty color -- "flesh" my ass; have you ever met anyone of any race whose skin is that color? Barbie, maybe.

Yesterday Joe had his long-overdue dental surgery. I found a free and long-term parking spot near Alta Bates -- his periodontist-surgeon's office is in that building complex around the hospital -- so rather than go home while he was being worked on I took a stroll to the Elmwood post office and other attractions including the bird store, where a mid-size macaw was holding forth at great length about something alarming, and Mrs Dalloway's bookstore, where our old friend Elise White was working so we had a nice chat.

Joe came out walking but woozy and stuffed with gauze till his face went all pear-shaped and his speech was mostly unintelligible, which made the visit to the pharmacy for the post-op 'scrips entertaining. His turn for a nap while I went out for groceries. He's in much better shape today, and given my own experience of many years ago I credit good pain control for part of that. But I do suspect we'll be having a lot of barbecued soup for the Memorial Day weekend.

Posted at 04:45 PM | Comments (12)

May 25, 2006

Field Trip to MILStories!

Story of the day. Read the whole reply string for more goodies. Keyboard alert.

Next installment here: Tales of the Franken-nose.

Posted at 05:40 AM | Comments (3)

May 20, 2006

Low-Key Redwoods Frolic

This week was one of those weeks we just had to reserve a day to escape from. (Don't try to parse that; call it a symptom.) So we reserved Thursday and all I personally wanted was to be in the salad somewhere neither blazingly hot nor freezingly foggy. "Armstrong Redwoods?" said Joe, after a short shuffle through his records. "All right!" said I. It's a state park up by Guerneville on the Russian River, a pleasant drive, and I'm fond of Sonoma County anyway.

I'm not sure why this shot uploaded funny, with the gray bit. Flickr has been making ~improvements~. Uh-oh. Have I mentioned the concept of Schlimmbesserung here before? I probably have.


Go look at the large version; most of the detail is lost in the small one.

One thing I like about redwood forests is the whole renewal, life-out-of-death bit, and the nice juxtaposition of great gnarly age with delicate leafy youth. Also that on a sunny day -- which it was, up there, once we'd come out of the fogblankets -- it's cool with the moist exhalations of all those relaxed, generous lifeforms.

We were late, no surprise, for the calypso orchids that we know are there, but there were posies in pleasing ones and twos and severals. One lovely violet, white with a golden throat and deep-purple feathering, was sparking the forest floor here and there and my sore knees allowed only a bad photo or two of it.


What was fun was being in time for the clintonia bloom. It's hard to find this plant in a situation where the deer haven't eaten off the blossoms. These look better in the large versions too:


Here it's in the company of trilliums, who are setting seed, and redwood sorrel.

Closer, the bloom, which exhibited a color range from deep rose to pink-verging-on-white:


The dusting of rust in the background is bits of redwood duff; a park worker was forking up cartloads from a pile of it in the parking lot and mulching the trail. I picked up a handful to sniff appreciatively, and he said, "Gorilla hair!" I laughed; yes, that's what we call it in the landscape trade. I've always thought it should be "orangutan hair" but who listens to me? I like it, in the right context. It doesn't blow away, but it can also make a mulch that's practically impermeable to rain, so you have to be careful where you put it and how you treat the spot afterwards. Makes great path mulch, though. Also smells nice.

Looking at wood and bark and the habits of trees, you can see recorded the flow of their lives. It looks like a stream -- moving in standing waves, purling over obstacles we can't see, eddying in diverted moments of calmness, tracing the slower- or faster-moving things and events that influence it -- because it is a stream. Trees, rocks, earthforms, water all display the movement we sense but whose shape we can know only indirectly in our animal lives.


And sometimes, animal lives are part of those influences on trees' lives. Here's another of those natural grafitti, a meme that Rurality seems to have infected me with. This one is beetle galleries, the paths that beetle larvae eat through a tree just under its bark:


In this case, the map is also the territory, as the galleries trace the courses of their inhabitants'/makers' lives until fledging and breakout as adults.

Speaking of fledging: this year's single eyas in the peregrine nest above Mission Street in San Francisco has, seemingly overnight, changed from a clawed ball of fluff to a falcon, sleek as the incarnation of singleminded intention. He's got just a few wisps of white down poking through his feathers, and yesterday almost made it to the ledge above his natal nest in a planter box on the thirtieth floor of some building. I don't have the URL on this machine but Google should tell you where the "San Francisco peregrine nest" camera is, or try the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, who run the cam. Or come back when I've had access to the laptop and remember to add the URL here. He'll be there for maybe another week, I suppose, as his parents continue to feed him and dangle the car keys by way of incentive to graduate to the sky.

Posted at 05:33 PM | Comments (2)

May 13, 2006

Late Friday Cat Blogging Plus

Matt the Cat is definitely a catnip lush. Well, I can relate. The little cloth sack o' catnip was getting decidedly unsightly, so we picked up a couple of refillable catnip mouses last time we were at the critter supply store.

Matt knows without a doubt who they're for. By way of habitat enrichment, I stuck this one into a net bag that came with rocks or marbles or some such.

MY catnip mouse!

That's his favorite mat, the jute runner in the dining room. He greets it before he greets either of us.

He does, however, fearlessly protect us from subversive catnip mouses.

Wrestling mouse to the floor

You can see here, if only just, that not only is he a tuxedo cat, he has a cummerbund. We confuse vets because most of our pets over the years have had first and last names, and he is Matthew J. Cumberbund (sic). He hasn't told us what the "J" stands for yet.

Eviscerating fierce catnip mouse

He needs exercise, as do we all. But he does retain a certain vigor.

Until he gets good and stoned.

Stoned agin!

Whereupon he gets seriously distracted and ADD-ish, and has little fritz-outs with short-term memory.

Well, that's OK; it doesn't interfere with his job.

Part of his duties as butler of the Belfry seems to be letting the other critters know they are Not Quite Approved Of.

Matt disapproves of Sid; Blanche recuses herself.

That's one of our four box turtles, Sid Viscous, being carded. The other, Blanche du Box, is ignoring the whole event as hard as she can.

Meanwhile, Shep the ball python pretty much stays above it all. He did come out of his favorite jug the other day, though, when Matt uncharacteristically went up onto the sideboard and sat on top of Shep's cage.

Shep ignores it all, almost.

Shep is pretty phlegmatic, even for a snake. This is a virtue.

The snake drawing behind him is the original of somethiing that Elaine Richards drew for a way-past issue of Terrain. I try to inculcate an appreciation of art in the commensal critters.

Posted at 06:12 AM | Comments (5)

May 10, 2006

Aw Nuts

Cody's on Telegraph is closing.

Outside Powell's in Portland, this is my personal bookstore icon, the Mothership. You knew they'd have it, and they'd find it for you. They'd find it even if it was on a fairly abstruse topic and you couldn't remember the title or author and told them it had been reviewed the wrong week in the wrong publication. (Yes, personal experience.)

People visiting town, even from San Francisco, would ask to work it into the schedule. I've visited the Harvard Coop, and Cody's is better. Was. (Maybe it's the combination of Cody's and Moe's that's better, with Shakespeare's as a dollop of cream on top.)

I can tell you why "no night traffic" was one of its problems. The city muthas have made parking harder than it had to be -- e.g. with a succession of weird and whimsical pay arrangements for the handy parking garage -- and for all the anti-car pieties they never got around to arranging reliable transit from anywhere not already strung on the two major bus lines that intersect there. Riding the bus is at least as dangerous as walking the street anyway, particularly since it involves waiting immobilized at a bus stop. There's a perception that Telegraph Avenue itself is scary, but I never felt threatened or uneasy there; it was the intervening half-mile of neighborhoods between here and there that made me hesitate to take the walk at night. (In bad weather, forget it.) We do stroll over there now and then just to visit bookstores, and I generally sneak in a side trip to Tienda Ho!, and we'll still do that because of Moe's. Telegraph is just a fun street to walk, for me.

It's not just another empty retail space, though there are too many of those here too. Good gods, Berkeley is losing its biggest bookstore. We're also arguing over whether to plunk a regulation baseball field, bleachers and all (they say no lights, but you know that's bullshit, a temporary concession until people get distracted) in the middle of a midtown neighborhood, so the highschool jocks don't have to go an extra mile to play their games. The other side of the argument is for a smaller, "multi-use" sports field, that soccer and softball players and runners and the like could use. You know, not just the team jocks. Somehow "For the Children," already the last refuge of scoundrels, means at least half the time "For the Jocks."

So if we work really really hard at it and march resolutely down this path, Berkeley can become another suburban wannabe second-rate overbuilt all-American town. Whoopee. Maybe we can finally have an Olive Garden of our own. Or a Tarjhey.

Cody's closes in mid-July, so anyone who wants to cram in a visit has that long.

Posted at 03:16 PM | Comments (8)

May 07, 2006

Culture Notes

I was up late last night arguing with someone over at Liz's blog about what were really editorial matters, as in: If I were her editor I'd've made this tootsie justify about every other word in what she's written. There are times when I dream that a corps of good editors would save the culture from a lot of depressing blather just by throwing darts at manuscripts or printouts tacked to the wall and asking about the words they hit: "What do you mean by that? What's your evidence for it?" Or just: "Wait a minute. Doesn't that sound just a bit silly to you?"

It's nice to be able to sling words around handily, but it's really irresponsible not to have anything to back up those words. It's really dangerous to let your pretty words convince you all by themselves that you're right about anything substantial.

Of course I'm biased by my point of viewing. I've said in public that a good editor turned loose on the likes of Murray Bookchin could have saved whole forests from the pulp mills.

It was late and I was tired, and it's hard to fish out the words when I'm tired. Maybe that's one of the (uh-oh) ironies of being a menopausal writer: You get the perspective you need and have had time to put a lot of things together and look at them from several angles, just when the nouns start getting lost in the wrinkles in your brain. That goes for birding, too. I have some modest field skill and am even acquiring an ear for songs, but thrash around for the birds' names. The dialogues between Joe and me when one of us (usually but not always me) recognizes something and thrashes around for its species' name while trying to get the bird pointed out to the other can be pretty funny, if mystifying. After all these years we have a lot of shared references that make sense only, well, you hadda been there.

Something between folie a deux and culture, I suppose.

What wore me out yesterday wasn't all that strenuous, but the fruitless mulberries on the street are blooming and my lung power is considerably reduced. It's a pain in the ass but it's become much less a matter of fury and worry since I've figured out what was going on and why, what the allergen load consists of just now in the season, how much I can expect to recover later. Knowledge is good for perspective.

It took me all morning to wake up, partly because I'd commuted to San Francisco to work Friday (riding BART grinds me down physically, for some reason) and partly because it was foggy -- read as "heavy low gray ceiling of cloud" if you're not familiar with California coastal weather -- and I can never convince myself it's later than 5AM on foggy days. Gene and Kate came over at 1, fortuitously enough when the sun was breaking through, and we went up to Sibley Regional Park to look for golden eagles, geology, posies, whatever.

The golden eagle pair that's lived there for years, keeping watch over the place from the broadcast towers that poke up in a cluster, is reportedly nesting and raising a kid somewhere in the trees on Round Top. They popped out first thing, obligingly enough, both of them wheeling in spirals and then sliding down the currents into the trees, behind the hill, out of sight and back again, their gilded helmets shining back at the sun. Guess this has been Golden Eagle Week, what with them and the one we saw being mobbed at Sunol and the same or another one there later on Wednesday. Yesterday, people walked by with their puppydogs and never even looked up, something I still find astonishing.

Windy and siesta-timed as it was, most of the other birds were by ear: purple finch, common and lesser goldfinch (we saw both of those too, chasing around pretty intensely), song sparrow, spotted towhee (saw California towhees too), wrentit, Bewick's wren, titmouse, black-headed grosbeak. A few fence lizards. The place is grazed, and a pit of invasives: poison hemlock, sowthistle and milk thistle, broom, foxtail and other exotic grasses, bur clover, yadda yadda. There was some blue-eyed grass and phacelia blooming, and poppies, blue dicks, a nice stand of ceanothus perched on its toes above a progressing soil slump.

We strolled as far as the labyrinth that people have been making and changing by bits in a fake caldera -- actually a quarry pit -- north of the actual old volcano, which is now Round Top Hill. The maze is now sort of arrowhead-shaped. The spot it's in is where we got married lo these many moons ago, before the maze existed, when we'd been happily together for 19 years or so and I was self-employed and looking at a dire need for health insurance. We made it fun -- and we're still thankful that Robbie was so eager to marry us, and dressed her three dogs in matching kerchiefs for the occasion, and packed a champagne picnic besides. She refers to the occasion as The Bride Wore White... Sneakers. Padraig, Phoebe, and Toby Jugg were the best possible wedding party and, as happened, all the witnesses we legally needed. I'm still less than thrilled about letting the State into our bed, but I'm also still alive thanks in some part to having health insurance; at the time that was the only way to get it except for paying money we didn't have to get a single-party plan for the self-employed. And we made a party out of it, which one might as well, and had a good time, ditto. I myself made a single vow: This won't change anything between us. I think I've kept it.

The eagles, or their predecessors, were there then too.

Yesterday we four added a trot through the Tilden Bot Garden to see what else was blooming -- trillium, still, and ribeses and salvias and twinberry and some of the alliums and calochortuses in the bulb bed, and the bitterroot there.

Then we adjourned to early dinner at Finfine', an Ethiopian restaurant on Telegraph Avenue. I'd got a hot tip on that one from one of the hygienists at my dentist's, when I'd reported my culinary-triumph discovery that injera doesn't stick to braces. The hygienist is Ethiopian herself, and said Finfine' was her favorite, with interesting spices and the freshest ingredients. After two meals there I'm inclined to agree. And one of the beers they serve there, Hakim Stout, is marvelous. (The other I've tried, a lager or ale whose name I forget, is also very good. And so is the tej, subtle and complex, not just sweet.)

Culture's a funny plant. I'm thinking that food and music are its best blossoms.

And for a Bring On The Barbarians note, I found a card in the heap on my desk, something from an outfit we encountered at the Garden Show in March. One of those things that probably mark the turn from cultural flower to senescent overripe fruit, but whose products were seductive as all hell. They make doorknobs (and cabinet pulls and such) out of semiprecious stones. Gorgeous, expensive (but I suspect artificially cheap in the postcolonial or economic-colonial fashion) and as nifty to touch as to look at.

I'll post photos, of today at Sibley and Wednesday at Sunol, later, I promise. Joe has been selfishly hogging his own computer to do actual work.

Posted at 05:01 PM | Comments (4)

May 05, 2006

The Week inReview

This week has involved sore joints, bleeding all over the phormium, some pretty good photos which I'll post sometime over the weekend, a whole chicken and rather too much wine, a hastily invented variation on sopa seca that I'll call sopa gloppa, annoying sinuses, a new catnip mouse, an involuntary new bathroom floor, a second-story midnight flood, proofreading some very teeny text, some nasty language aimed at this computer's allied ColorStyleWriter 1500 printer, a fortuitous pottery sale, and watching a multiple-raptor aerial extended pile-on involving an adult golden eagle (the pilee) and two or three ravens, a white-tailed kite, a redtailed hawk, a red-shouldered hawk (the pilers) (doesn't that look like a sort of word-dominoes game?).

Oh yeah, and they banded the eyas in the peregrine nest on a planter on the 30th story on a building on Mission in San Francisco. It's a boy! More to the point, it's a peregrine.

Film at 11. Meanwhile I'm off to harass Chris C. and his minions. And since Twisty has improved IBTP so I can't read it at all from this box, I'm doing so in a state of blaming-deprivation. Beware.

Posted at 03:25 PM | Comments (2)

May 01, 2006


Go read Echidne's post about JK Galbraith. Damn that's some good readin.

I'll add that I see something in the forcing of "soft" science findings into mathematical models that may or may not fit as a sort of Procrustean cargo cult of the English-only sort. So there.

Image above, courtesy of
Toad in the Hole Hut: Metaphors Mashed While-U-Wait. Custom Orders for All Occasions.

Posted at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

Arise, Ye Prisoners of Starvation!

Just in time for May Day, Immigrants' Rights Day, and a nice sunny weekend for a change, someone had the bright idea of throwing a civic International Food Fest in Berkeley, in the neighborhood where San Pablo Avenue and University Avenue intersect. There are in fact a lot of interesting "ethnic" food joints there, along with places like the Freight & Salvage where we hear music from all over, and lots of sari stores which are fun to look at just driving by, all those gorgeous colors in the windows and floating in the breeze outside the doors. Partial foodie list, because I'm sure I'll forget someone: Anatolian (Turkish, pretty much), Pakistani, Indian, Hawai'ian, Philadelphian, Mexican (plus other Latin American bits), Spanish (plus Latin American and Portugese bits), Jamaican, Chinese, "Middle Eastern" (Lebanese, Irani, Iraqi, Egyptian, Israeli, Palestinian, all in one store), Thai, and um Motorcyclo-American, which is basically pizza.

Now, you want to support immigrants, this is how to do it. Just IMO. Everyone go enjoy each others' food and music and dancing and and food and cute kids and puppydogs. And food. We do this ourselves on a regular basis. No condescension, no missionary stuff, no helping the poor Whoeveri families in their plight: food is as basic as you get, a pleasure to make and taste, and value for value is the best way to share power because everybody gets to be dignified and have fun too. (This assumes decent tips for the waiter and decent behavior towards retail workers, which seems rather more difficult a concept in some circles.)

Those Moroccan ladies were selling very nice cookies along with the fusion ("Mo'Rockin") band's CDs. Plus we got our requirement of kalua pig, which we'd missed last month because I had a date with the pruning students at the nursing home.

The Spanish Table was throwing a paella-for-forty demo

Paella, Spanish Table

and handing out free tapas. And I cruised the store taking foodporn pix, and pooh-poohing the English-only set (In a different context I suppose I'e be pu-pu-ing them. If I were feeling generous.):

Cheeses, The Spanish Table

because I accept cheeses as my personal savior.

And because our language and lives would be poorer without wonders like Bhooja King

Bjooja King Booth

which enterprise sells Indo-Fijian snacks, which seem to lie somewhere on the continuum between crackseed and chaat. I had a taro chip, which I think will be more enjoyable to repeat when I get the braces off.

Some people had booths there selling restaurant-type food but don't have restaurants, like the Puerto Rican family who posted this menu:

Puerto Rican menu

I got an organic business card* from them anyway, as they do catering. Who knows, there might be an occasion. *A scrap of lined paper with name and phone number. Hey, it conserves resources.

The first item there is rice with "pigeon peas," gandules, not really rice with wizards. Imagine my disappointment.

Up San Pablo, a Pakistani restaurant -- one of two in the block, if I recall correctly through the haze of that marvelously perfumed smoke, was making kebabs and other stuff on a sidewalk cooking rig:


I got more shots, but I hit my Flickr download limit last night, so they'll wait till I get back to the laptop for loading. And I guess I'll spend the modest sum to expand my account, since I for one am getting a kick out of this photo stuff.

Funny, how all of a sudden flying the flags of other nations is a big fat offense to some. We have a trio on the desk here; bought them from The Spanish Table over the years: a Basque one because we like the chow; one from St. Vincent for the sake of the parrot on it; and a pirate flag for theological reasons, in praise of His Noodliness.

And I do like all the colors available. Color makes my eyes happy.

Flags, Spanish table

Posted at 04:23 PM | Comments (5)