Toad in the Hole October 2006 Archives

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October 28, 2006

Late Friday Fall Color Blogging

No, really: We do get fall color here too. The dependable stalwart color-bearer in the wild is good ol' poison oak, guardian spirit of the forest and chaparral.


Mostly, though, fall color here is more subtle. It's the tired tag end of our slowing-down-and-hibernating period. Even the remaining native bunchgrasses are in retreat, and the alien grasses have been dun since June. Buckeyes have been dropping their leaves for two months at least, depending on how close to water they live, and everything's dusty and dried out and exhausted.

Almost everything. There's "California fuchsia," one of this plant's several misnomers. Epilobium canum, my ass; it'll always be Zauschneria californica to me. It's easy to garden with, and along with the woody monkeyflowers (another grump: Diplacus is a useful distinction from Mimulus) it blooms determinedly well into the start of winter, a constellation on roadcut rocks or in tindery grass when my eye really craves a touch of impudent color.


Sometimes, for color, we have to look into the borderlands of the plant realm, where those mind-boggling alliances get made with fungi: lichens.

lichen on sandstone

And sometimes we have to look on the naked rock itself, the seemingly (but only seemingly!) stolid skeleton of Earth that underlies all that vegetable and animal and fungal carrying-on up here next to the atmosphere.

Quarry, Mt Diablo

Posted at 05:33 AM | Comments (5)

October 24, 2006

Among Other Gifts

A copy of Julie Phillips' biography of James Tiptree, Jr. -- speaking of pseudonyms. Very good read so far.

A new grandnephew, my youngest sister's second grandkid, Dylan Thomas King, born on the 19th.

And here's a restaurant review for free: Lahore Karahi, a teeny Pakistani place in the Tenderloin. Not fast. No beer or wine. Absolutely excellent food -- the chef-owner told us he uses only fresh ingredients, and I believe him. Amazing what a difference that makes. 612 O'Farrell, San Francisco. (415) 567-8603.

Posted at 04:08 AM | Comments (1)

October 20, 2006

Birthday Presence

I got an early gift on Wednesday, when we went 'round the back end of Mt. Diablo to look for the tarantulas that are supposed to be running round in Mitchell Canyon. It took (even) longer to get there than we'd planned so we got only an hour, hour-and-a-half before the park closed at dusk -- and no spiders. (We pushed that "dusk" by half an hour as it was, but there's an exit they don't close.)

We'd just decided to take one more bend in the trail and then head back, when Joe whispered, "Coyote!" Right up there at the bend, sure enough. Hard to see, right? Go look at the large version. Here's the thing: I had the short lens on, expecting to take spider close-ups.


Continue reading "Birthday Presence"
Posted at 09:11 PM | Comments (14)

October 19, 2006

If We Have to Talk About Bras

Let's talk about these. Why yes, I am laughing.

So where's the page of amusing banana hammocks? C'mon, think of the fun.

Posted at 05:05 PM | Comments (2)

October 18, 2006

Double-crested Cormorant

d-c cormorant

It occurs to me sometimes, e.g. when I'm watching aquatic birds, that all the maps I have superimposed in my head, maps that include landmarks and things to orient by and ways to get around, would look entirely different if I had wings, or if I swam underwater a lot, or if I looked at a lake and thought, roughly, "pantry," or "market," or if washing up after dinner meant something like "get out and dry my feathers off." Superimpose any two of those conditions and the maps change again. And that's just for land-based air-breathers, of course. "Water as highway" means related but different things to a big fish, to a little fish, to a whale, to a penguin; "air as access" means different shapes of map to an albatross, an Arctic tern, a songbird -- and think what air means to a flying fish!

We got a car after I'd lived here for, oh, six, seven years, and Joe had lived here longer than that. We'd had the thing for a year or two before I realized that the way I drove around town was almost always along bus routes, because I was accustomed to thinking of those as the way to get from one place to another. I believe Emma had a similar problem with giving people driving directions; Berkeley has a number of traffic-stopper things that bicycles can get around (legally and physically) but cars can't, and some bike paths as well. Emma rode her bicycle around in ways that, to drivers, translated to "You can't get there from here".

Think how a town would look if people had wings. Maybe like a swallow colony; maybe like a cliff pueblo minus even the scary little steps and ladders. Reliable updrafts instead of highways; a hill's not an obstacle, but an expressway sign. Or maybe we wouldn't have towns at all.

Thinking about access -- wheelchair access, even bad-knees access -- sharpens that map-drawing consciousness too. Empathy's not just a squishy emotion; it's an intellectual tool.

Posted at 05:58 PM | Comments (2)

October 16, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mom


Vera Jeanette (or maybe Vera Helen) Adams Sullivan, October 16, 1925 - December 30, 2000.

Her name appears as "Veronica" on at least one document -- baptismal certificate or birth certificate; the middle name "Jeanette" was on some, "Helen" on others, in the category of driver's licenses and such. Maybe my tendency to fool around with my name is inherited.

Posted at 06:01 PM | Comments (7)

October 15, 2006

Where I Stand on Hairy Legs

In case anyone who reads this doesn't already know: I'm a 5657-year-old woman. I'm a rabid feminist. And I bite. And I have braces on my teeth, so it really hurts when I bite.

The recent brouhaha over make-up/heels/waxing/shaving and other femmy flounces in several feminist blogs has amused me in a grim but sympathetic way. So, now that most of the hollering has died down, here's my story and stance.

Continue reading "Where I Stand on Hairy Legs"
Posted at 05:48 AM | Comments (17)

October 14, 2006

Speaking of Perspective

vert. stairway

Theis is the first section of the steps down to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The whole flight is supposed to be the height of a 30-story building.

Do you know, I've never walked it. Odd.

Posted at 06:42 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2006

This One,

on the other hand, demands ink:

cypress branches silhouette

Ever see those things that people draw using a glob of ink on the paper and blowing it around with a drinking straw?

This is a Monterey cypress near the spot I stood on to take the fence and waveline shot.

Posted at 06:27 AM | Comments (2)

October 12, 2006

I Want

to learn how to draw this:

fenceline & waveline

Posted at 05:41 AM | Comments (8)

October 11, 2006

Alarums, and Excursions

I've spent the week under the influence of some invasive biological entity, too much dextromethorphan, and stark fear. That's why I haven't written much here, or anywhere else for that matter. We did drag ourselves to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass fest, and it was worth it. If you don't already own everything recorded by the Lee Boys, the Flatlanders, Richard Thompson, the North Mississippi Allstars, and of course Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris, go get them all now. I'll get up and add links in the morning, so check back here for more info if you don't see links yet.

While I'm reaching a more or less humanoid state, have a gander at a series I took of that pair of ravens at Drake's Beach on Point Reyes. Think they all look alike? Look again, and notice the positions of their crest feathers (so, the apparent shapes of their heads, especially the tops), their breast feathers and the feathers above their legs ("baggy pants"), and their wings, just to start. (Read some Berndt Heinrich if this intrigues you.) There's lots of dialogue going on, and lots of mutual declarations to the rest of the world. That's Him on ther tabletop to start, and Her on the seat and then in front on the table.

Start here and backtrack through the series if you want to see them in temporal order.


Posted at 05:48 AM | Comments (9)

October 02, 2006

One Small Step for a Book

Hey, someone tap PZ and the NCSE on the shoulder!

Small victories are encouraging. Here's one from our good friend Emma.

Emma moved to Vacaville from Berkeley when she changed jobs last year. She's been exploring the local cultural landscape, among other things, including the nice puiblic library. A couple of months ago she found something there that ticked her off. In her words:

Well I was at the Solano County public library today and made some
nicee findes in the new books. Except for the following which was in
the science section. Our friends in the Library of Congress gave the
Dewey number of 576.8 DARWIN'S [NEMESIS] 2006. That number places the book in
the life SCIENCES!

I registered a complaint at the reference desk pointing out that ID
is thinly veiled creationism and more appropriately belongs in the
religion section or social science. (Unfortunately, the Dewey system
does not have section for crackpot theories.) I pointed out that
neither assertions of a flat earth nor a swiss cheese moon belongs
in the science section.

Please complain at your local library.

See below for the catalog entry and a review.

Title: Darwin's nemesis : Phillip Johnson and the intelligent design
movement / edited by William A. Dembski.
Publisher: Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 2006.
Paging: 357 p. : col. ill. ; 23 cm.

(Review and comprehensive list of contents redacted. I'll put them at the bottom of the post, for anyone unfamiliar with the book.)

Last week she had better news to report:

Well the Solano County Library called last week to tell me that their technical services section reviewed my complaint and agreed with me. The book has been reclassified as religion. Woohoo, victory! The new LC number is 231.7652 DARWIN'S 2006.
The catalog entry now reads:
Johnson, Phillip E., 1940-
Johnson, Phillip E., 1940- Wedge of God.
Johnson, Phillip E., 1940- Darwin on trial.
Intelligent design (Teleology)
Other Entries
Dembski, William A., 1960-

Sanity occurs in Solano County. Someone buy that woman a beer. Hey wait; I will!
And I suppose I should go see where the Berkeley Public Library has the thing shelved.

Here's the insides:

Foreword / Senator Rick Santorum -- Preface / William A. Dembski
and Jed Macosko -- Introduction: a mythic life / John Mark Reynolds
-- Portraits of the man and his work -- Your witness, Mr. Johnson :
a retrospective review of Darwin on trial / Stephen C. Meyer --
From muttering to mayhem : how Phillip Johnson got me moving /
Michael J. Behe -- How Phil Johnson changed my mind / Jay Wesley
Richards -- Putting Darwin on trial : Phillip Johnson transforms
the evolutionary narrative / Thomas Woodward -- Thewedge and its
despisers -- Dealing with the backlash against intelligent design /
William A. Dembski -- It's the epistemology, stupid! science,
public schools and what counts as knowledge / Francis A. Beckwith
-- Cutting both ways : the challenge posed by intelligent design to
traditional Christian education / Timothy G. Standish -- Two
friendly critics -- Two fables by Jorge Luis Borges / David
Berlinski -- Darwinism and the problem of evil / Michael Ruse --
Johnson's revolution in biology -- The wedge of truth visits the
laboratory / David Keller and Jed Macosko -- Common ancestry on
trial / Jonathan Wells -- The origin of biological information and
the higher taxonomic categories / Stephen C. Meyer -- Genetic
analysis of coordinate flagellar and type III regulatory circuits
in pathogenic bacteria / Scott A. Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer --
Ever-increasing spheres of influence -- Design and the recovery of
truth / Nancy Pearcey -- Phillip Johnson was right : the rivalry of
naturalism and natural law / J. Budziszewski -- A taxonomy of
teleology : Phillip Johnson, the intelligent design community and
young-earth creationism / Marcus Ross and Paul Nelson --
Implications of complexity and chaos / Wesley D. Allen and Henry F.
Schaefer III -- Epilogue -- Phillip Johnson and the intelligent
design movement : looking back and looking forward / Walter L.
Bradley -- The final word / Phillip E. Johnson.

Publishers Weekly
This Festschrift from friends-and a couple of friendly
critics-honors Phillip Johnson, the Berkeley law professor whose
1991 publication Darwin on Trial and later books helped intelligent
design emerge as a highly visible, and highly controversial,
alternative to Darwinism. While it may be premature to hail Johnson
as "Darwin's Nemesis," these essays reveal him as an influential
strategist and mentor within the ID movement. Contributors to the
2004 symposium that spawned this collection include leading ID
advocates Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, Jonathan Wells and Scott
Minnich, as well as Darwin defender Michael Ruse, who has engaged
Johnson in debate. Other contributors address cultural and
political questions beyond evolution itself, such as Francis
Beckwith's timely review of legal controversies over ID in the
classroom, J. Budziszewski's discussion of naturalism and the
Natural Law tradition and editor William Dembski's commentary on
the professional-and often personal -"backlash" against ID
advocates. Readers who are familiar with the basics of ID and
curious about the movement's development and inner workings will
find much of interest, although for an account of the most recent
and current controversies over ID, they will need to consult other
sources. (Apr.)
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier
Inc. All rights reserved

Posted at 04:20 PM | Comments (24)

Sunday Night Orts Roundup

OK, everyone: I'm soliciting good vibes for my sister (and I ain't even saying which one; she can chime in if she sees this and wants to) Monday cuz I'll just hate it if I have to start being kind to my liver.

Speaking of unkindness to livers: Today was Aloha Sunday at Templebar. Well, that's only two Mai Tais plus kahlua pig and lomi-lomi salmon and pineapple and that veggie-tofu thing they do and salad and huli-huli chicken and rice and haupia and (if you don't mind) meatloaf, which tasted quite nice, kinda barbeque-ish, well, better than that sounds. Plus half a dozen guys playing guitars and bass and ukuleles and singing the old stuff and they were damned good too. As always, it all left us in such a good mood we didn't even lose it when we found that someone had egged the car; just drove home and washed it off with dish soap.

More unkind to livers was last night, when John and Mary came over for dinner and we had pastel de choclo, which is not anything chocolate but a sort of inside-out tamale pie, with a seasoned-meat crust and a corn-pudding interior. Peruvian? Um, I forget. We had the blog wine with it, plus an Argentinian white because Mary drinks white, and they were both so good we drank them all up.

The blog wine was a bottle I got free when I glommed onto some gossip from another blogger -- Roxanne? Lindsay? -- and sent my mailing address and URL to Mankas Hills Vineyards right up there in the Suisun Valley. Two days later, the UPS guy handed me a bottle of Amelie 2004 cabernet (75%)-merlot (25%) blend. Some people I know would've cellared it another year or three, but the most temperature-stable, cool place in this flat in summer is my sweatshirt drawer, so it spent only a couple of weeks there before we opened it.

Big ol' butch wine, this one, at this age. Tannic but not acidic -- leather, um, oak, (uh-oh, I'm writing wine prose) in front and something like a sitting room with old mahogany paneling and leather chairs and subdued lighting from brass lamps, Joe says a little good cigar smoke, following. It took a long time to open up -- in fact, it was still opening up as we finished it -- and it got a little fruitier and deeper as it did. Anyway, we all liked it; I myself liked it a lot, and I'm going to look for more to buy. In fact, I might just buy a bottle (if I can find it) every six months for the next couple years so the people who actually have decent storage can store it for me. Or maybe I'll dig a bunker in the back yard.

Posted at 06:09 AM | Comments (0)