Archive for the 'Etc' category

[Un]remarkable space

Aug 31 2011 Published by under Etc, Writing

Another move finished. That's seven-ish in the past four years. I swear I'm not going anywhere this time.

I said that in February of this year. "We're not going anywhere this time. I swear." That's the hindsight bastardization, anyway.

There's something comforting about our apartment this time. Instead living among the bloodless ranks of plastic-sided townhomes filled with [blank] professionals - empty rooms, empty homes - we moved to an old neighborhood close to the metro. The homes are all brick here; worn, cracked, discolored. You know what it will smell like when you roam inside. The outlets are in weird places. The furnace is ancient, painted white to cover the rust patches, patched with sheet metal to cover the holes made by the rust.

Normal people get up and go to their normal jobs. The men wear normal uniforms and carry shiny toolboxes to white vans. There's a bunch of normal kids who beat the shit out of each other and chase the stray cats in the alleys. The kid upstairs pounds our ceiling running (Imagine: all that force through the little pressure points). I imagine his mother and I groaning in unison. Go back to sleep, kid. She clicks down the stairs in a rush every morning and Oscar growls and barks as she passes our door. Oscar hates when people are in a rush.

Some of my neighbors ride a bike to work, but I doubt they think of themselves as Cyclists. A Cyclist is a person that uses a bicycle for their primary mode of transportation even though he or she has more than enough money to use a car. The idea is that Cycling is better for your health and the planet's health than using your car, which is true, but because most normal people roll their eyes at Cyclists (Note: it doesn't help that Cyclists wear silly clothes that cost more than most bike-riders' bikes) and continue to use their cars, Cyclists usually just end up getting in the way and pissing off the normal people, which in turn makes them seek each other out and create support groups and the like. Cyclists often whine on the internet about how they're treated on the road. After they're done whining, they drive their SUV to Whole Foods to fill out the menu for their All Organic Dinner Party. You can't use your bike to pick up organic appetizers for 15 people.

Just this morning, as I loaded Heather up for school, waving to the gasman (he looked sleepy), I noticed that the vine that winds through the hedges in front of the building next door was peppered with morning glory blossoms. There's other vines too, that wind up the brick to our roof. I often stop to think about the aerial roots of young vines, how they find those comfortable little crags in stone or bark, how they nestle in and fit snug. Are they soft nodes as they squeeze their way in? Do they harden in maturity?

Part of the concrete frame around our window crumbled in last week's earthquake. I took a picture of it during the hurricane:

Earthquake damage

 After the hurricane, the maintenance guys framed and fixed it. Oscar was a little disturbed by the floating men with drills outside our window. I had to bring him into the bedroom for a co-nap the other day to calm him down. Overall, he seems happy with their work. It's their methodology he questions.

Twitter is back up. Link is up there, next to the aerial plankton. I'm working on revising and submitting some short stories. I'm thinking about which of the four novels I've started in the past couple of years I should focus on. The library around the corner has a lovely science section I want to delve into. I've been thinking about all the ecology basics posts I started years ago and wondering if I should continue work on them. I've read many papers that I never bothered to detail on here. I have some theories as to why and might even share with the world why I consistently shy away from sharing. Maybe.

The morning glories out front remind me of what I saw on a Walk the other day. A Walk is what I do sometimes to try to reduce the life-endangering fat around my midsection. I'm not really going anywhere in particular. Some people walk to move themselves from one place to another and end up getting exercise in the process. I used to be one of those people when I lived in Atlanta.

Anyway, there was a woman in her sixties bent over in her garden showing her grandson how to weed. It was a good day to weed, as my mother says, because the ground was wet. Normally, there's nothing spectacular about an older woman in the garden with her grandson. Thomas Kinkade probably thinks about that a lot as he watches his employees paint his ideas. The spectacular thing was that she, her garden and her grandson were reflected in the wide panes of a sliding glass door of her basement apartment. On this tiny plot, crammed between a busy sidewalk and an adequate living space, she did her own landscaping. There were no contracted professionals in red shirts blowing pine straw around soft asphalt, just a grandmom with her grandson in her unremarkable garden dug into a remarkable space.

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Comments off, for now

Sep 01 2010 Published by under Etc

Hi folks, lots of server issues here lately. Turning off comments and probably won't be posting much until next week.

We'll get it sorted out soon.

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New illustrations gallery

Aug 25 2010 Published by under Etc

I finally got around to publishing an image gallery tab for the blog collecting all of the artwork Heather has done for TVG over the years. I've put links to the posts they were draw for and dug up some raw scans where I could. I'll continue to update it as images are added.

For those interested in her other work (painting, sculpting, other illustration projects), you can visit her other blog and peruse.

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Recent reads and links

Aug 18 2010 Published by under Etc

Dan has an awesome video (Attenborough) of a gang fieldfares defending a nest from a young raven via dive bomb defecation.

Johnny is back at Ecographica with a post about squirrel frogs.

Mark has a great post about "Preachy Twits" - the frequent emails he gets from atheists and Christians trying to convert him. Great comment from Razib in that thread as well about whether or not people's beliefs defines them - contributes largely to their identity - and how that influences dealings with others' beliefs. It's an important distinction.

Another great vid at Everyday Biology: Exploding sphagnum moss in slow motion.

DIY solar power units for $799? Sounds like a step in the right direction.

The Nats signed 17 year old prodigy Bryce Harper to a $9.9 million contract.

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The wake

Aug 17 2010 Published by under Etc

Grandma pulled open the door to the minivan, ankle wiggling in the wet sod. Her cheeks were flushed when she mumbled “Out,” trying to pull her low heel from the mud. I pushed at my sister’s back, sitting on the edge of my driver’s side bucket seat. She was tangled in her seatbelt, and reached back to slap me before falling out of her seat and stumbling out of the van and up the road. I was close behind her.

There was a small dark lump toward the shoulder side of the lane. Hannah ran quickly ahead. She ducked the low hanging branches from the thick growths of laurel that covered the slopes framing the road. Over my shoulder, grandma was following.

“David Jonathan,” she said, taking a breath. “Get your sister.”

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Campfire visit

Aug 12 2010 Published by under Etc

Had to write something down about this before bed. I was out reading by the fire, and just as it fell black, I heard crunching from the edge of the tent pad. I assumed it was Oscar eating until I noticed him passed out next to my chair. Heart skipped a beat.

I flashed the light on the food bowls, nothing. Waited about a minute and watched two little pointed ears rise up from behind the timber frame. A raccoon, of course.

So we watched her (him?) finish off the last of Oscar's dinner* not ten feet away. The dog couldn't have cared less. He glanced over, sniffed and went back to sleep.

All the food - even the locked cooler - is now locked tightly in the car. Last year we had a murder of crows in the hamburger buns while we napped, this year a bold little kibble thief. On the right foot it seems.

*Oscar's bowl has been thoroughly cleaned and he's vaccinated.

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Camping to read

Aug 12 2010 Published by under Etc

Finally getting away for the weekend after a busy few months. This is the first time we've gone camping this year, and I have a ton of reading to catch up on. It's funny; day to day I have a difficult time plowing through books like used to. I still read just about every night, but it takes me a lot longer. So when I have a chance to do nothing - when I have a choice to do nothing - I usually try to get back to reading with the intent to finish.
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In one year, visiting 63 state parks

Aug 07 2010 Published by under Etc, [Biology&Environment]

On my way out the door, almost forgot to post this video I found earlier this morning. Dad, mom and son hit all 63 state parks in Georgia in a year's time and put together this little slideshow/video of their journey. If there was one thing about living in GA that I enjoy most it's the countryside and the state park system, which is diverse and very well tended. I haven't been to all 63, but have visited most of the parks focused around hiking. I should write something in the future about some of the more interesting, like FDR and the Pine Mountain trail. Really stellar natural areas.

We're headed to one of the larger parks in the state today to do some hiking, and hoping it's not going to be too ridiculously hot. Just read a paper this morning on moving beyond coal in Appalachia and having some thoughts about the nature of inspiration after an interesting midnight a few days ago, probably have something up later today or tomorrow.

Enjoy your Saturday.

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Who's buried in Takei's tomb?

Aug 05 2010 Published by under Etc

Or is it Sulu's? There's an excellent interview with George Takei over at Salon today, witty, honest and insightful, just as you'd expect:

I'm always identified as the actor who played Hikaru Sulu even if I'm doing something totally different, or when I'm on the media talking about marriage equality. That's my calling card, it seems. So I'm resigned to the fact that my tombstone probably is going to read "Here lies Hikaru Sulu" in great big bold letters, and in smaller letters, "AKA George Takei."


I'm hoping the sequel to the "recent" Star Trek inspires some really excellent screenwriter to pitch a series to SyFy or another network.

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The Shins live @ Crystal Ballroom

Aug 05 2010 Published by under Etc

Here's The Shins playing favorite tune from Wincing the Night Away, "A Comet Appears" (posted this past April via Sub Pop). These guys have an uncanny ability to take simplicity of instrumentation and expand the dimensions of songs like this one and "New Slang" in particular through chord progression and lyrical metaphor.

It's a song about the dread and emptiness that result from the facades we create. When we strip them away ("Let's carve my aging face off. Fetch us a knife, start with my eyes. Down so the lines form a grimacing smile."), are we able to find ourselves or just "the lonely"?

Full lyrics below the fold.

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