Je vous présente le ballet quotidien des canards piscinistes (video).
Archive for May, 2010
This is too cool… the wife of a photographer I know (I know her too–both now live in Charlotte, NC) posted a link on Facebook to a notice about one of her husband’s first shows. The notice appeared, as you can see, in the Village Voice, in 1978. In the blurb (under Mitch Kearney), it describes some of his images, particularly one of Joey Ramone.
This image, in fact, that hangs in my living room.
I love my job.
The ducks, Crispy & Peking, just went through their elaborate bath rituals and are settling in, standing one-legged on the curved cement that overhangs the sides of the pool. One of these days I hope to get the baths on video, but I always get mesmerized watching them and forget to do anything else.
Benito watched them as well, curled up on one of the chaises. He hardly seems interested; certainly not in hunting mode at all.
I pay too much in rent.
Worse, I hate the crazy Asians (“gardeners” my dupa) who cut and kill all the pretty plants in the yard while leaving weeds growing from spilled birdseed. I’m tired of my cheap-ass landlord who doesn’t care that the paint is peeling off the trim now or that the yard doesn’t drain right (neither does the front bathroom sink).
I want to own a house. I want to paint walls and plant what I want.
Really, I just want a home. My home. My center. My base.
I’m so tired of feeling rootless.
I could buy a house here in SD, a foreclosure of course, and have a payment of 60% my current payment. The prices are that low.
Oh, and that’s for a 15-year fixed. Less than half my current payment for a 30.
Except there is no way I can get a loan.
I have no debts. Credit score over 800, last time I checked. Cash in the bank. But hardly any income really right now (hello, law school) and certainly nothing worth trying to prove. So I’m screwed.
With the mortgage implosion, there are pretty much no more no-doc loans out there. Understandable, of course, because there were so many idiots who misused them. You know there were a ton of folks who said to a mortgage broker “I make enough to afford that $500K house,” and too often followed that up with, “By the way, you want I should wash the office windows this week, too?” But that means people like me, who underestimate how much they can afford, can’t buy.
Oh, and every one of those people who lied need to make it up somehow. I understand that them all losing their homes would be bad for the economy, but I cannot wrap my head around how it is at all fair for a company to front $500K (say) for someone to buy a home, then get told “No, you have to recalculate the principal because the buyer can’t afford the payments now.” Hey, the buyer gambled, and lost–just because the loan company is big isn’t enough reason to make it eat it (exceptions, of course, for those who fraudulently handled the loans on the biz side–but that is not most of the loans in question).
We all bet on ourselves when we buy something on time like a house or a car. Sometimes, we bet wrong. A responsible person accepts the loss and moves on. S/He doesn’t screw over the rest of us while crying “victim” as is happening now.
Not that it would change my situation. It wouldn’t. Sigh.
Summer break? Hardly seems like it. The sun never came out today and likely won’t tomorrow either. This is May Grey in San Diego and it’s no fun.
It’s cold, with highs in the low 60s, and can get dark, especially this close to the coast. It’s not fog, but rather a high marine layer that, when thick enough, never burns off during the day. Sometimes, it hangs on only west of the 5 and you can see it like a charcoal line on Mt. Soledad. That’s kind of cool when it’s like that. But more often it’s just various shades of grey that covers a good part of the city.
It hasn’t kept the ducks away, at least.
In other news, I ran 28 minutes (sustained) on the beach yesterday. I felt like a California stereotype, but it was pretty lovely. To be clear, the tide was out so I was running on firm sand, not the loose stuff, but it was still a different feeling than my usual street running.
When I got home, my Nikes were sandy so I put them out back to dry off more, to make de-sanding easier. About 90 minutes later, after my breakfast and shower, I opened the back door to retrieve the sneaks. There, I found an offering (click pic for larger version)…
Not too mangled, luckily, but still. Ick.
Although Baldrick had been sitting nearby, I suspect it was from Benito. He was being rather smug all weekend, including taking over the Times this morning.
I think he wanted to reminisce about his hunt from the day before– look at the ad in the foreground.
Anyway, the rest of my paper was under that section, so I didn’t even get to start reading the paper until far too late today. Lucky he’s so cute because I really wanted to spend my grey day relaxing with the crossword. The puzzle sits yet untouched.
I’ll get to it later, though.
So I have this time off (although I’m trying to work some during it) and it’s been too cold to swim. Rather sucks, that. Swimming would be a good thing to do on the non-run days, but instead I’m trying to figure out things to do to get light exercise. Some days I do weights, but that gets boring. So today I decided to take a walk/hike. I went to Cabrillo National Monument for that.
It was lovely, although with the wind I could have used a degree or two more to be totally comfortable.
Sadly, when I got home I found that my professional blog’s post about ASMP and Lawrence Lessig had hit the ether and the Lessig-ites are commenting in force. People for whom the piece was NOT written, who are not professional creatives, and who don’t know what I am talking about are going ape shit about the fact that I said CC and the Free Culture Movement have hurt the professional creative community. Sigh. So much for a relaxing day.
Now that I’m not in classes, I’m picking up the Sunday Times again. It’s tiny now, and that’s sad, but I still prefer to do the crossword in print, on the glossy paper. It’s habit.
Another Times habit I have is glancing at the marriage notices. I know, it seems like a silly thing to do, but sometimes I actually know someone in them, at least a little (mostly in advertising or the editorial world, so I know the person through work). Sometimes, though, the notices are just interesting. Take the notice at the bottom of page 15 of the Styles section, announcing the Willis-Hoffman union. You have to ask yourself how they came together and what they have in common. The bride works for a theatre & opera director and has a PhD in in classical languages & lit from Oxford (yes, the one in England). Her father was a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton and her mother owns a fabric design company. The groom is a NYC sanitation worker. Wow.
Now the good stuff about new technology and the NYTimes: that couple is featured online, with more info about how they met (on the F train on a Friday the 13th) and how, although totally different in many ways, they fit. Love conquers all, or at least it’s giving it a shot.
Yeah, sappy, but I have a wicked romantic streak so I hope it works for them.
Oh, and whoever took the shot they ran in the paper needs to be beaten (she looks psycho and he looks stoned).
So, I’ve been doing this Couch to 5K iPhone app, which I’ve mentioned before, and today was week 6, day 3. Each running day the app tells you when to walk and when to run and shows the whole day’s program on the screen before you start. For example, a couple of days ago it was “5-minute brisk walk to warm up; 10-minute run; 3-minute walk; 10-minute run; 5-minute cool-down walk” and the time before that was even more broken up with (after warming up) something like (I’m going from memory and this may be inaccurate) 5-minute run; 90-second walk; 8-minute run; 2-minute walk; 8-minute run; 90-second walk; 5-minute run; cool down.
Today’s screen read “5-minute brisk walk to warm up; 25-minute run; 5-minute cool-down walk.” That’s it. No intervals, just warm up, run (for a looong time), cool down.
I knew it was coming. A week before there was a sudden 20-minute run after never going close to that long before. It almost killed me. To be completely honest, I did break once in that 20 minutes because I had to re-tuck a lace (I have to tuck in my laces or they smack my ankles and annoy me to no end) and that 15 or so seconds I think saved me. After that experience, I looked ahead in the app to see what hurdles loomed. I saw W6D3 and its 25 minutes without breaking. It looked damn near impossible.
And last night was a rough night. I woke in the middle of the night twice, first by a wrong number and then with knife-like pain in the abdomen. Really, it was a muscle cramp in my back that radiates so that it feels like I’m having the most painful gas bubble ever. It happens once in a while so I knew what it was and before I went to bed I was tweaky, so not surprised by the nighttime discomfort that shot my eyelids up like window shades in a cartoon. I got up, took a pee, stretched a bit, and got into the other side of the bed which feels a bit firmer I think. No more pain. Out like a light until 6am and the sounds of Benito’s morning bath on the other pillow.
Knowing I had a bumpy night, I decided to give myself permission to suck at the run today. It was unquestioningly run day so I’d try to do it, but if I started to feel pain, I would stop–no harm, no foul, no guilt about failing. At the same time, for the first time ever, I knotted my laces before tucking them particularly well, so the chances of me having to stop to re-tie or re-tuck were almost zero. No idea why I did that. It’s not usual for me and I didn’t even think about it until several minutes later on my route.
I fired up the Nike+ app to track my distance and pace, then the C25K app to tell me when to run and not (the Nike+ will run in the background even though the iPhone doesn’t technically multitask, yet), and after the app announced “Warm up,” the sounds of this week’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me filled my head as I briskly walked in the dense morning fog.
5 minutes in and the app ding’ed and the voice interrupted the show, saying “Run,” so I did. Up Providence to Conrad and east to New Haven and back to Providence then over to Dubois–looping on the three short blocks on the other side of Appleton for a while. I was trying to keep a slow pace while chewing my gum and breathing (chewing gum helps keep a “bad breather” like me from gulping breaths)–all the while listening to the show and laughing. I think the laughing helped the breathing, Surprisingly early, it seemed, the voice interrupted again to announce “You are half-way done.” I had run for 12′ 30″ without thinking of breaking to a walk. Odd.
I felt good. I was sweaty but nothing was hurting and I was still moving in full control. I hadn’t yet hit that point where my gait gets sloppy and I start panting, etc. That’s when I know I’m about to break, when I’m almost shuffling in the jog and mouth-breathing awkwardly. There was none of that happening yet, though.
Still going, I remembered and tried the trick I had read about not clenching my fists but pretending I’m holding an egg in each and to keep the shoulders from getting too tense (I tense up there but good, usually), and headed back across Appleton, down New Haven all the way and back up Providence. It seemed to help.
I crossed Appleton again, did another little loop, and heard the voice announce “5 minutes remaining.” I had been running for 20 minutes already! The thing I couldn’t really quite do a week ago I just did without once wishing for death or at least an oxygen tank. Wow! And it was time to head back home!
I turned west on Conrad and headed down the slight hill toward Cole. Just about at Cole, the voice announced “2 minutes remaining” and I started to feel it. The breathing was requiring more attention, but 2 minutes more? Hell, I had just run for 23 minutes… 2 more were nothing… much. Must not shuffle. Breathe.
The voice returned, “1 minute remaining.” I was starting to feel it in the legs a bit and had to remind myself to chew and to exhale. I was holding the iPhone so I could see the time at a glance by this point. With about 45 seconds left, I lengthened my stride and pushed. Sure, I had it, but I wanted to run it out, not just get it done. I was about to complete a 25-minute run and it would be sad to just stumble the last few seconds. So I ran. Head up, breathing, arms pumping while reaching out each foot on the road, still in the fog (literally, but not mentally).
I felt surprisingly great when the app ding’ed and announced “Cool down.” I took a couple more strides, fist-pumped the air, and dropped to a walk, hitting the Nike+ app to see how I did. After the generic male voice announced that I had completed 3.33 miles in exactly 30 minutes, Lance Armstrong’s voice congratulated me on having run my fasted mile yet. I looked at the history and there it was: Best Mile 9′ 13″.
How have I done this? I’m 44 and have never run much more than a mile, in one go, in my life. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid running, in fact. In school as a kid I could barely make it around the track once. I loathed running and was encouraged to by family. There was something wrong with those people who ran in the roads–wrong with their heads. But there was something about seeing what can only be described as proto-babushka arms in the mirror and I knew something drastic had to be done. I refused to become my grandmother. I’d tried dieting before and I could drop the weight, but I was never really in good shape–not good enough, at least. And there was a mental reason to face the thing I had avoided for so long. That judgment that was made not from experience or understanding, but just because, well, it needed to be challenged. Face the fear (irrational judgment is a manifestation of fear, of course, like prejudice). And so I committed myself to doing the C25K app program.
Thus, in 6 weeks, I have gone from feeling like death after 90 seconds of running to running about 3 miles (not including warm up and cool down) and feeling quite good afterward. Except for being completely soaked by the time I completed the run (mostly from sweat, not the mist), there was no sign I had just done that run, well before I got in the door after a short cool down walk. No panting or wobbling. In other words, I had more in me– I wasn’t done in by the effort.
I have two more weeks of the program, and then we’ll see where I am. I don’t think I’ll be doing any competitive runs (I do not like to run in the sun and races start after dawn), but maybe I’ll try to increase distance or better my time, just to challenge myself. I hear there is another app called Bridge to 10K…
Yesterday, Christopher and I went to the zoo. Neither of us had been in a while and it was a perfect day for it–not too hot and partly cloudy and the animals were more active than usual.
Yes, it was essentially a date with Christopher. No comments on that, okay? I have enough trouble trying to figure out what is going on without well meaning commentary from the proverbial peanut gallery, thank you very much.
Anyway, we saw a tiger (rare–they’re usually crapped out) and Diego the ocelot was out. The big black jaguar was pacing in his cage waiting to be fed (he kept chuffing at his feed area). So too were the Pumas (that links to a v. short video I took). But they moved the servals and some of the other cats and we didn’t find them. Poo.
The river otters were in full-on adorableness. Much swimming and playing and stealing food from the monkeys that are kept in the same enclosure. I heard a keeper say that the monkeys sometimes take some of the otters’ fish so it wall works out in the long run.
I love the aviaries at the zoo. You can walk in and the birds are flying or walking around you. Here is a little video of two birds. The big grey one is actually a pigeon! Victoria Crested (aka “Crowned”) Pigeon, to be exact. Big bird. Biggest pigeon in the world. Hell of a lot better looking than the California Condor, which we saw too. The Secretary Bird is bigger and impressive (I didn’t get a good pic, but here are some online) especially when it’s standing and giving you a look like you might be tasty.
The zoo has a new elephant area which was nice and seemed very savanna-ish, although it was almost devoid of elephants (they were almost all inside). The big pond at one end appealed to local ducks and the elephant keeper said the elephants do get in the water often. None hear there at the time, though.
Nearby is a new enclosure for the (regular) jaguar and she seemed to like it. No image because she was too far away for a decent iPhone shot. She has a stream with fish in it, even. The condors were also near there and the Secretary Bird. The focus in this new area of the zoo is on California animals of the past and their relations in the present–CA had elephant ancestors and saber tooth cats, etc. Not sure about why the Secretary Bird was there, though. Hmmm.
Anyway, it was really a fun visit. Afterwards, we went to Little Italy and had a beer and some nibblies on a patio then went to the Gaslamp and walked around there for a while after a guy who seemed to be an escapee from the Real Housewives of Orange County and his date sat near us in Little Italy. Really annoying man who in 30 seconds (after his date got up to go to the ladies) talked about the price of condos in the area, how he wanted to get one for a pied à terre (he really was from the OC), and made several other references to his financial situation (bragging). Ugh. I hardly noticed the date but C said that she shot me a look like I smelled bad when afterward the guy pointed out how I had actually made my hole-y jeans and not purchased them that way (yes, he had asked that too in that 30 seconds of money-related talk).
I’ve noticed that men do that too much for my liking here–talk money. I always thought that was tacky. And it drove us off right quick. Probably just as well so we didn’t sit there drinking too many beers but instead got more walking around exercise.
It was a good day. Had a lot of fun but still had that nagging feeling like I should be doing something productive. I’m not feeling relaxed yet. Not really surprising, though, knowing me.
Today I’m trying to read and relax in the sun a bit. Sadly, the day started off with Benito getting slightly sprayed by another skunk. Ugh. So I spent some time trying to get some of the stink off him and out of the house. It’s not as bad as last time, but yeah, it’s stinky inside and on that boy’s kitty head, still.
One too many animals in 24 hours perhaps.