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Archive for the ‘random blab’ Category

November 27!

November 27!

It is exceedingly pleasing to bring in this bounty in late November.

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Museums in San Francisco

I’m in San Francisco for a computer conference, and the sessions are packed with good stuff I want to learn more about.  But this morning on the way to the conference center I walked past three museums on the same block that I am dying to go to:  The Cartoon Art Museum, the Museum of the African Diaspora, and the SFMOMA.

All my siblings and I can quote old New Yorker cartoons to each other (“Milk’s boiling over!”, “Watch out, Fred, here it comes again!”, “Guess what? I’m barefoot”, etc.). We read our parents cartoon books (This Petty Pace, the New Yorker Book of Cartoons 1925-1950, George Price and Helen Hokinson anthologies, and more) over and over again. I’ve only ever been to one other cartoon museum.  So I have to go.

Then on a much darker note, our forebears were intimately and powerfully involved in the African diaspora as slave traders.  So I have to go to that museum too.

As for the SFMOMA, well, I just like that stuff.

These are all just one block over from the convention center.  Maybe I can go in dribbles.

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Some bragging

This weekend A and I traveled to Chicago to hear B give his capstone paper in cultural studies at Columbia College.  The title of the paper is “Going Where the Action Is:  The Action Film Hero in the Era of Neo-Liberalism.” I’m not going to give a synopsis here.  It’s too complicated.  Those of you who know him can ask him yourselves.

Of course the parents are always biased, but his presentation was the best out of eight.  Really!  B has always been an excellent public speaker, and is very comfortable in front of a crowd.  He breathed in the right places, looked at the audience, and generally made his research understandable and interesting.

His professors spoke about him in glowing terms.  One of them said he was the best student he’d ever had.  They love him and are very proud of him, just like us.

Here’s a question:  What’s the right way to respond to praise of your child, particularly your adult child?  It’s weird to say “Thank you,” as though we are totally responsible.  We probably are responsible for a bit of who he is, but not too much.  You can’t make someone intelligent or funny.  I think you can make someone misanthropic but I’m not sure you can make someone charming, thoughtful, and pleasant to be around.  He pretty much came into the world with the brains and personality he has now.

When a professor says “B is the cream of our crop.  We think he is just wonderful,” I said “Thank you, we think so too.” Sometimes I said “I’m so glad you think so.”

I’m happy to brag about him, because I think he is wonderful too.  I just want to brag in an aren’t-we-lucky kind of way rather than an aren’t-we great-parents way.  We are lucky.

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Fall day

Last night I got up at midnight and looked out the window.  A big fat skunk was out in the side yard whuffling around.  I got up again at 3:00, and he was still there!  At 5:20, when I got up for my walk, he was STILL poking his nose into the grass.  Fortunately, he was gone when I came home and let Buster out.  According to Wikipedia, skunks eat insects and larvae, earthworms, small rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles, eggs, berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi, and nuts. This is what the ground looked like where he’d been.

Skunk holes (boot shows scale, even though it was a mistake when I took the photo)

Skunk holes (boot shows scale, even though it was a mistake when I took the photo)

It was a classic fall day today.  I yanked out a bunch of dead plant material from our driveway island, where we’re trying to establish prairie flowers and grasses.  It was windy, so I threw around various seeds I’d collected – butterfly milkweed, gray-headed coneflower, New England aster, indigo, and gayfeather.  The butterfly milkweed in the back of the house is poised to release thousands of seeds.

The Osage orange trees, also known as hedge trees, are dropping their fruit now.  We have hundreds of these trees.  They are not native to Kansas, but were planted in the thirties as windbreaks.  When they’re planted close together they form a dense hedge.  Every day when we take Buster for a walk, we take along tennis balls for him to chase and then carry in his mouth.  (He won’t bring them back.)  After a while he drops the ball.  Hedge apples and tennis balls are the same color.  We lose many tennis balls.

Up close you can tell the difference between hedge apples and tennis balls, but not from far away.

Up close you can tell the difference between hedge apples and tennis balls because hedge apples have a bumpy brain-like exterior. The hedge apple is the one on the left.

I know this is sort of a lame post.  I need to get back in the habit of posting here.  This is a start.

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Pig pile

At Shelburne Farms, this pile of pigs kept reforming itself over and over. Some of the pics are blurry, but the formation was too good to resist posting.

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Just stepped out

I went to a picture description workshop at Audio-Reader yesterday.  When we’re reading the paper out loud, we have to describe the photographs or drawings (e.g., editorial drawings). This would have made a good example photo. But why are the boots there when A is clearly outside?

A home office, well used.  The desk is covered with papers, and the computer is on.  The chair is pulled back from the desk, as though the person just left.  A man's boots are askew beside the desk. Behind the chair, a brown and white mixed breed dog sits staring out the door.

A home office, well used. The desk is covered with papers and a notebook, and the computer is on. The chair is pulled back from the desk, as though the person just left. A man's boots are askew beside the desk. Behind the chair, a brown and white mixed breed dog sits staring out the door.

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Birds

Boy oh boy.  Driving around Lakeview this afternoon, we encountered a throng of big birds.  I wish I could have taken a panoramic picture of these. We saw, in one eyeful, six great blue herons, a couple of geese, and three cattle egrets.

Three great blue herons

Three great blue herons


Click to see a larger image

Click to see a larger image


This is the same picture with labels.  Click to see a larger image.

This is the same picture with labels. Click to see a larger image.

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I’ve been puzzling lately over what to tell people I do.  When we’re getting to know someone, we have to ask.  We always ask “What do you do?” but rarely “How do you spend your time?” or “What interests you?”  If you have an actual vocation, a job or profession, the answer is easy: “I’m a doctor” or “I work in the HR department at Acme.”  If you do multiple things, it’s harder to explain.  

I haven’t had an actual job since 1995, but I’ve had steady work as an independent instructional developer and web developer.  For the past year, I haven’t taken much more than a trickle of billable work.  I have several projects going, but because what a person “does” equates to paying work, my projects don’t fit neatly into the answer to the question.

What I do:

  1. I am learning a new way of developing websites.  Nobody is paying me for this.  I’m doing it because I’m interested, and because it will change the way I work with my existing and possible future website clients. It’s really really fun for me, yet it’s specialized and technical enough that it’s not interesting to talk about except to other geeky types.  (In case you are such a type, I’m learning Drupal.) 
  2. I am revising and expanding on the novel I wrote last November.  It may or may not turn into anything more.  I’m revising it to make it into an interesting novel, not necessarily to publish it.  A person who writes poems, published or not, is called a poet.  Can a person whose novel is unpublished be said to be a novelist?
  3. I do yoga.  This seems like a funny thing to include in the list of things I do.  I spend a lot of time on it, both practicing, reading, and thinking about it.
  4. I cook.  I’m an unpublished cook.  I enjoy cooking interesting meals and learning new methods and recipes. Like yoga, cooking seems too minor and daily to include in the list. Yet I spend a very large amount of time thinking about it and doing it.
  5. I walk the dog.
  6. I walk myself.
  7. I read.

By the way, I’m participating in something called “31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge“.  Today’s challenge was to write a list post.

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After the storm

Yesterday we had an ice storm. The wind was mild and today is sunny and warm, so this storm wasn’t the crippling kind we sometimes get. A and Buster and I walked down to the pond around mid-morning, as everything was dripping off. I took pictures of the ice-covered trees, and then we got a bonus when we approached the pond.

hedgetrees02

Hedge trees above the pond. You can just see the pond on the left.

A nice row of icy hedge trees.

A nice row of icy hedge trees.

Geese on the pond, honking like a bunch of taxis.

Geese on the pond, honking like a bunch of taxis.

We were standing on the ridge above the pond, looking through the trees.

We were standing on the ridge above the pond, looking through the trees.

Look at how the grass greened up after all the wet.

Look at how the grass greened up after all the wet.

After watching the three grownups for about five minutes, we discovered the reason for all the honking.  See those babies on the right?

After watching the three grownups for about five minutes, we discovered the reason for all the honking. See those babies on the right?

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Category error

Laurie introduced me to the idea of a category error.  Socks on the dining room table, a book in the bathtub, a drill on the kitchen counter – all these are category errors. It’s a useful concept. Does garbage in the freezer count?

drill, soapdish, sink, jug

drill, soapdish, sink, jug

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