Saturday, February 27, 2010

Skiing on drugs - not as great as you'd think

Thanks to the incredible generosity of my former boss, I'm here:

That's Breckenridge, Colorado, folks. Gorgeous.

Thanks to I Don't Know Who But If I Find Out, We Are Going to Have Words, I'm hanging out mostly with these:

Don't think I put those two Robitussin jars in for looks. I've downed an entire jar in the last 24 hours.

And also don't think that I'm letting it stand in the way of my burgeoning ski career.* I paid for those lift tickets before we got here, and I am not one to waste money.

*By burgeoning ski career, I mean, of course, eventually skiing down a beginner run with my skis parallel.

Who doesn't love a lacy rabbi?

A friend came across this and felt that the babe MUST have it.

Oh, the racy nights...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No, you're a nuthatch!

Last week tens of thousands of North American bird watchers tallied up their numbers and submitted lists and photos to The Great Backyard Bird Count. At my last check, they had observed 597 different species.

Song Sparrow

If you had told me 5 years ago that I was going to know what the Great Backyard Bird Count was, much less that I was going to be delighted by it, I probably would've laughed at you. It's not that I don't like birds. I mean, I've always thought they were great. But bird watching? How boring is that?

Yellow Rumpled Warbler

My dad, who has developed into a gifted and devoted bird watcher, graciously showed me the error of my ways. It started with his beautiful photos attached to the ends of emails, then an annual calendar with his best photos, then a wonderful bird feeder* to entice my own little birdie friends, and most recently some wonderful binoculars that the babe and I have loved using when we go hiking.

White Breasted Nuthatch and Pine Warbler

Of course, I'm a super novice bird watcher. I can spot a robin, a house sparrow, a cardinal, maybe a blue jay, a woodpecker. And there are lots of times when they could be flying all around me and I would have no idea, made clear to me when my dad came to visit and saw ten different species outside the window in our 9th floor apartment (which I swore was too high for birds to fly because I had never seen any). I don't imagine that I'll ever be a bird watcher of my dad's caliber**, but I love that my eyes have been opened to the beautiful birds all around me, and I'm always delighted by his gorgeous photos.

Eastern Bluebird

As we're looking ahead towards more winter weather, I thought you all might enjoy some of these photos that my dad took during the recent snow in Georgia.

Northern Cardinal

* The bird feeder is stored away in our apartment, one of those things that I have refused to give away and have demanded closet space for in anticipation of the day that I have a window that looks out on trees where I can watch the birds feed.

** Hikes with my dad often include conversations like this (in a whisper):
my dad: Hear that?
me: What?
my dad: That.
me: What?
my dad: That bird.
me: What bird?
my dad: That ones that's making that sound. tweee...tweeee....tweee...
me: (straining) um...I think so.
my dad: That's a [insert interesting bird name here].
me: Yeah?


my dad: (in a whisper) Look!
me: Where?
my dad: (pointing) Right there. In that tree.
me: (peering...clearly not seeing anything)
my dad: (pointing at a tree about 100 yards away) There. On that third branch from the top.
me: Oh yeah. (not actually sure that I see anything while my dad hands me the binoculars)
20 minutes later once I've gotten the binoculars focused in the right place.
my dad: Oh, I think it flew away. That's okay. We'll see another one.

Monday, February 22, 2010

On a World Without Book Shelves

Are you on the digital book bandwagon?

A group of us were talking about it at lunch today, and several of my friends are convinced that the advent of the Kindle and all of the other digital reading devices is the beginning of the end of real live books. And they weren't upset about it. They thought it was fine; in fact, one friend was convinced that he would read more if he had one. I'm going to be honest with you - the thought fills me with pain. No more books? No more pages to turn? No more dust jackets? No more bookcases filled with books? Could that really be the direction that we're headed?

I just really can't believe it, and yet these aren't crazy people that I was talking with. They're smart folks, and they pointed to the demise of floppy disks, records, giant personal computers, CDs. Maybe books are just following the same path. But isn't there something different about books? Something about the way they feel in your hands? The way they smell? The way you can leaf through one absentmindedly? The way the edges look on a book that you've read over and over again?

Am I crazy here?*

One person mentioned the environmental impacts of books. Listen, I'm an environmentalist, a tree hugger. I love the environment. But can we lay off the book concerns until nobody's driving hummers anymore, please? Pretty please? I carry fabric bags to the grocery store, I buy as much of my food at the local farmers market as possible, I don't own a car, I use the swirly light bulbs, we keep the heat low in the winter and the air down in the summer, I use reusable sandwich bags. Please please please do not make me worry about the environmental impact of the books that I so love. Don't get me wrong - I adore the library. Borrowing books is great, and we might all try to do more of that. But I love the books on my shelves.

One final note - I don't deny the appeal of these digital books. I like fancy electronics. I love my netbook. I pine for an iphone. I'd love to have a swanky kindle to carry with me on long plane rides, if only because it's neat.** But I just can't stomach the thought that these things will take the place of Real Live Books.

I'm thinking of starting a book sanctuary, where all the orphan books will be loved and nurtured.

*The babe would be too cause she's totally with me on this one.
**I want to also point out that I think these things might cause premature blindness.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow: Not all fun and games

I just panicked that I had missed my friend's birthday.

There's a pretty good chance that I did, although I can't really remember.

Because it's in November.

And it's February now.

But for a moment, I couldn't remember what month it was.

Like I had to stop what I was doing and think about it.

A snow week can really fuck with your mind.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Run Schmun

I'm registered to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run in April. It was one of those situations where a bunch of my friends started signing up to create a team and everyone was talking about how much fun it would be, and I was sitting on my couch, and running a race with a bunch of your friends always sounds fun when you're sitting on the couch. It sounded fun while I was searching the web for a training plan. It sounded fun while I was typing up and printing out my training plan. It sounded fun while I was making my training plan all pretty and hanging it up in the apartment. It sounded fun until the moment that I stepped outside for my first run and then I remembered why it is that I don't do this.

That's sort of a lie - that I don't do this. I mean, I do. I have. There was a time period in college when I really considered myself a runner. I ran regularly 3 or 4 times a week. I was training for a half-marathon, and I would wake up early in the morning to go run. If I overslept, I thought about it during the day - I couldn't wait to get out there for my run. Running felt good, and I got to where I could run pretty fast. But then I was also anorexic. And seriously Type A, like Type A Plus. I never ran the half-marathon because I went into treatment, and I had to stop running. And then I just never could get back into it.

I ran a marathon a few years later, but I didn't train well enough and I hurt my knee. Last year I ran an 8K, which was good. But I promptly stopped running the moment I finished the race. I've been trying for 9 years to become a runner again. The babe thinks I'm insane - why keep doing this thing that I don't like to do? I've provided a number of reasons:

1. Exercise is important; I have to do something.
2. It's easy. Put on your shoes and go.
3. Yoga and dance classes cost money.
4. I liked it once. I'll like it again.
5. Everyone else seems to do it, and invite me to join.* That makes me feel special.

When I'm out there hobbling along, I'm often thinking of number 5, which sometimes includes cursing my friends. Why doesn't anyone send out emails asking everybody to join in a square dancing competition? Or to meet up and practice so that we can do 108 sun salutations together? Or to start a belly dancing troupe? Why running?

So last week in the midst of all the snow, I made a decision (thanks to a prior conversation with a fellow 10 mile teammate and some conversations with the babe) to let go of any pressure on this race and just start training run/walk style. It's how I got into running back in college - the Jeff Galloway way. So I've started doing my training runs where I run 3 minutes and walk 1 minute for however long I'm out there. It's been pretty nice. While I'm a disappointment to hardcore runners everywhere, I feel more relaxed about all of it. So Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, here I come. It might take me a day to finish, but who the hell cares?

* I know - I did invite my dad to do the marathon with me, and I invited my friend T to do the 8K with me, but that's beside the point.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I'm so Kafka-esque

The primary advantage of studying law, as one writer put it, “was that it allowed him to delay for a little longer any real decision about what to do, while at the same time ostensibly satisfying his father’s demand that a course of study lead to a source of income.” Remarking upon Kafka’s ambivalence, Max Brod stated, “[l]aw he took up with a sigh because it was the school that involved the least fixed goal, or the [largest] choice of goals ... the school that put off longest taking a decision. . .” Kafka wrote of his own apathy that, “everything would be exactly as much of a matter of indifference to me as all the subjects taught at school, and so it was a matter of finding a profession that would be most likely to allow me to indulge this indifference without overmuch injuring my vanity. So law was the obvious choice.”

Sounds vaguely familiar (except for the father part).

Yes, I'm taking law and literature. And yes, I love it.

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