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All of me is back now 2005

My jetlag ended suddenly yesterday between 5 and 6pm. I was commuting home with friends from work and one of those bizarre Dinah jokey comments burst out of my mouth - don't remember what wacky notion it was now, alas - and with my sense of humor also returned my brain power.

I had spent the first two days back at work feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Hardly encouraging after a three-week vacation and a fairly cushy week of work attending a conference the week before that. Turns out it was just jetlag; today was MUCH better and I am no longer wishing desparately for some escape into a non-work world.

I didn't do much last night except cook myself a good easy dinner, chat with friends online and carry on reading websites.

Tonight I am somewhat more energetic and might actually do some cleaning up and putting things away. I'm cooking rice and I haven't yet figured out what I'll have with it. Might just steam some zucchini since my tongue is currently getting a great deal of satisfaction out of a cheese plate with hazelnuts, dried tart Montmorency cherries and Harley Farms five peppercorn goat cheese. Also I have a fantastic Meyer lemon which so far I've just been cutting wafer thin slices of and eating rind and all. Flavors, I am all about the flavors, baby.

Last night I had a bit of Bravo Farms chipotle chedder which is fine, but doesn't make me happy the way their sage chedder does. Interesting, but given the number of other cheeses out there waiting for me to try them, I probably wouldn't buy it again, hmm, heh, yeah, except perhaps for grilled cheese sandwiches. What would be set off nicely with the spicy smoky chipotle flavor and toasted bread? One of my dads makes a great ceviche-like salad with shrimp, that might work. (Paul, are you willing to share that recipe in the comments?)

I still haven't gotten my pictures from my trip sorted out into any kind of slide show, but I may start putting a few up. About time I figured out how to do all that perfectly easy stuff that Flickr supports...

Posted on November 30, 2005 at 07:19 PM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (3)

I'm not trading this in, but... 2005

... after much consideration, I have to concede that one of the differences between a blog and a LiveJournal is that the latter seems to be more likely to develop the kind of community that leads to strings of fantastic comments.

For example, a couple years ago (yes, when I find a site I like I do tend to dig for those deep album cuts) Gordonzola asked everyone what they hate and generated an enormous response. Replies included:

- lysosy's hatred of "PolarTec couples. You've seen them. They wear khakis and fleece pullovers with hiking boots, and their Golden Retrievers sit in the SUV under the kayak. The girls pull their ponytails through the hole in the back of the cap, and the guys always have skinny legs."

- amarama's long list includes SUVs with "Free Tibet" stickers and White men who only date Asian women.

- capn jil hates lots of stuff I agree with, but especially "white people with fugly dreadlocks"

- I'm also right there with misia when it comes to "People who send me multiply-forwarded urban legend e-mail. (OH MY GOD THEY'RE PUTTING KITTENS IN BOTTLES!)" and elusis on "Top-quoters in email" and wasop regarding "People who take their dogs everywhere.  A dog is not a child substitute, and it does not need to help you pick out a new throw blanket at Crate and Barrel.  " and the anonymous poster who railed against "anyone wearing so much cologne that I can taste it when I am not actually licking them at the moment"

And then there's this gem from msjen:

People who teeter around SOMA on Friday and Saturday nights, holding each other up as they stagger to their cars (parked in valuable parking spaces), giggling and announcing how drunk they are.

When I lived near MIT frat row in Boston, where this of course happens a lot, I proposed building a satellite death ray that would be triggered from space by any human that yelled "Whoooo!!!" and had a certain blood alcohol level.

I think it's time.

Posted on November 28, 2005 at 09:25 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (4)

This I Believe 2005

Like Penn Jillette, I believe there is no God.

Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.

Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

No excuses. No secret plan. No divine will. No sin. No damnation. No salvation. This is it, folks. It is what we make it.

Posted on November 27, 2005 at 04:46 PM in politics & philosophy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Goat-themed Post 2005

Okay, if I can't rouse myself from the bed, I can at least clean up my browser window.

While in London it was my great pleasure to visit Neal's Yard Dairy to partake of sublime cheeses. I unfortunately didn't take enough notes and only remember the name of the last cheese I tried: Childwickbury. It was a very fresh - four days old! - goat cheese with a lovely texture and delicate flavor. Simply sublime. And, as with other cheeses I tried, delightful with crusty sourdough bread and a richly-flavored Jonard apple.
Here's an article with a picture of the happy goats behind that cheese. All goats deserve a climbing folly in their yard.

I've given goats as holiday gifts in the past, or more precisely, given the gift of a goat to someone who needs it in the name of a non-goat-needing friend or family member. This Guardian article follows up on what happens with gift goats.

(Oh and while we're at the Guardian, here's an interesting survey of the 20 best geek novels. No goats, but Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is #4. I know I've read 12 of the 20, with another possible 1 or 2 that just might have been so long ago I've forgotten. I was a big time SF reader in my late teens).

And I'll round this out with a nice portrait avec la chèvre which my cheese pusher Gordon posted in his journal. He calls it "Goat Empathy".

Posted on November 27, 2005 at 01:20 PM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2)

Laggy 2005

I woke up at 5something this morning - which I guess is reasonable since I went to sleep about 10pm - and didn't go back to sleep after.

I've frittered away the hours since just reading stuff online. Just reading journals and stuff.

I should clean up my stuff from my trip, deal with bills & receipts, prepare for the workweek ahead, but no, I'm just laying in bed being a slug and listening to a random assortment of music.

Slug Sunday. :)

Posted on November 27, 2005 at 12:46 PM in mundania | Permalink | Comments (0)

23 hours ago... 2005

... I was waking up to the bells of St. Paul's and getting ready to head out for this LONG day of travel.

I'm home.
I'm showered.
I'm about to sleep - O such sleeping will I do! - in my own bed.

4 weeks is a long time to be away from home. It's good to be back.

Posted on November 25, 2005 at 08:50 PM in travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cheese du jour bought at Neal's Yard Dairy in Seven Dials:


Oh my god so good so good so good.

Posted on November 23, 2005 at 06:01 PM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cheese du jour bought at Neal's Yard Dairy in Borough Market:

Keen's Cheddar

Posted on November 21, 2005 at 01:44 PM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0)

morning in Africa 2005

Hoping it will be as nice a day today as yesterday as my group drives towards Tanzania.

Stay well everyone!

Posted on November 12, 2005 at 08:56 PM in travel | Permalink | Comments (2)

on the Masai Mara 2005

lunch on the Masai Mara 

The gang gathered around the truck for sandwiches.


some other folks were having lunch too


vulture on a termite mound


Back to the Mara River for more croc-spotting 

He was a big boy, 10 or 12 feet long if I recall rightly.


Object Lesson 

Do you see the thing in the water that looks like a crocodile skin? Twice or three times as wide as a normal croc? That's not a skin. That's a croc that just ate a wildebeest or baby hippo or zebra or something. It was a goddamn prehistoric monster. It was a big, well-fed dinosaur and I was glad it was full and couldn't chase us.

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The big crocodile with Paula in the foreground for some scale assistance. 

That croc must have weighed a ton. An actual ton.


Hippo out for a stroll


Cloudy day on the mara with migrating wildebeest

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Hippos entering the river


A very pleasing tree 

Here is a beautiful tree on the Masai Mara. The safari truck is going around this tree and the tree behind it to the right on this trail. A few members of our party who had gone on a hot air balloon ride in the morning saw a lion who'd caught a zebra around here and we're looking for it.


Lion sleeping under a bush 

To the left of this bush is another bush with a dead zebra behind it, fresh and partially eaten.


Allow me to make clear just how close we are to the lion 

He just dozed, opened an eye, closed it, flicked his tail, dozed more.


Elephants right beside the trail the truck was traveling


The big beautiful elephant 

This photo was taken over the shoulder of our guide, Bernard Musila, who was driving.


The elephant. 

What a wonder. What a glory.

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Again, let me reiterate just how close we are to the elephant 

and how glad we are we're inside the truck.


Why you go on safari with good guides: Do you see the lioness?
Wouldn't you just keep driving?

There's a big bush right of center. There's a low green bush in center. She is behind that bush about halfway back to parallel with the big bush. You can just see the white of the fur on the inside of her leg. She's on her back rolling in the grass.


Lioness foot. 

We can see the inside of her hind leg (white & tan) and the tip of her tail (black spot to the left and up from that).


Lioness watching us from the grass


Lioness on the move towards us


Lioness still moving towards us


Lioness turns out to be watching gazelles past the truck, not us


After strolling past the front of the truck about 5 or 10 feet ahead of us, the lioness flopped onto the warm dirt at the crossroad ahead. 

And all of us in the truck switch to the windows on the left side...


The lioness politely gets out of the road to watch the oncoming truck full of schoolchildren

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An orderly queue of wildebeests watched by a similarly orderly queue of safari trucks


Family of baboons beside the road

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How anyone can deny our common ancestry as primates after watching these guys for 5 minutes is beyond me.

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Maribou storks in a tree 

These birds are about 4 feet tall.


Posted on November 10, 2005 at 12:00 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

a morning game drive & a visit to the Mara River 2005

Our cook (inside) and one of the Masai guards staying at the camp as we set out for a morning game drive


I like these guys. They have fun antlers.


Hartebeest: the official antelope of CSS declarations
Love those curly brace horns.


Deceptively peaceful
This tree is actually full of baboons.




The baboons leave their tree


A football pitch is a great place for baboons


The baboons appear to have decided this was made for their enjoyment


Running up the rails


We all really wished we had a football to throw out there 

A football, that is, of which we were not particularly fond.


I saw very few flowers on the Masai Mara 

Maybe if I'd been walking instead of riding in a truck... but on the whole the "not getting eaten by lions" part was worth missing out on some flowers.


Tree and rocks 

I think this is a kopje just starting to come through.



Rachael & Phil riding up top 

It was most fun to ride up top but very breezy, sunny and vulnerable to thorn trees.



I love that we spotted a small tortoise (under a foot long) from our safari truck.



I really like the look of these guys. Pretty, swept-back horns. Kind of fluffy.


The waterbuck strolls off


 Insert ubiquitous zebra crossing joke here


Bernard driving, Phil in the truck behind him






Mm, delicious dead hyaena



You are not supposed to drive off the trail if you aren't a ranger.

I'd be amazed if this guide hadn't had his license revoked by now.


How Not To Not Be Seen 

Our guide told us that the giraffes like these bushes because they have a strong scent that repels insects. They go in and rub around to get the smell on their fur.


Hippos at the Mara River


Hippos are very very large

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hippo hangout


"Sure, looks like a nice place to cross the river" 

a.k.a. famous last words of wildebeests and zebras

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Posted on November 9, 2005 at 12:07 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Phenomenal African skies 2005

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Even in the rain the sky changes colors beautifully

Masai Mara skies

Light & blue one moment and out one side of the truck
Dark & dazzling the next moment out the other side
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I'm not sure I could ever tire of the sky here
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More lovely colors as the truck races back to the park gate
We had to be out by 6:30pm

Posted on November 9, 2005 at 12:06 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Giraffes against the stormy Masai Mara skyline 2005

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Giraffe against the changing sky

The giraffes are not entirely fond of the truck

Giraffes crossing the road behind the truck

Posted on November 9, 2005 at 12:05 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Warthogs! 2005

I love warthogs.

and away they run
up go the tails and the warthogs are off!

Posted on November 9, 2005 at 12:04 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Masai Mara landscape & Kenyan skies 2005

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grazing topi
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gazelle of mixed size

A storm came and the sky grew dark

Sun and shadow

Falling rain in the distance, jackal in foreground
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Posted on November 9, 2005 at 12:03 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

hello, elephant 2005

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Delicious shrubbery

Posted on November 9, 2005 at 12:02 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

grazing elephants 2005

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Posted on November 9, 2005 at 12:01 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

sighting the first elephants 2005


See them? Among the trees? Those grey things?

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Posted on November 9, 2005 at 12:00 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Masai Mara 2005

Wildebeest and some gazelle.92480248_372db03b41_o
Did you know wildebeest and gnus are the same thing? I didn't.
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The first big cat of the safari
This bulldozer was just sitting around waiting for the driver to come back and keep working on the roads in the park. Wildebeest and zebra do not mind grazing with road equipment.

Posted on November 8, 2005 at 12:02 PM in travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

visiting the Masai 2005

Walking to the Masai village

You can see the village there in front of us. The houses are low because they are built by the women who just build them as tall as it's comfortable to reach. Smaller women build smaller houses.

The Warrior Dance. We had a great visit in this Masai village. They have a partnership with a couple other villages so they only get a tour visiting ever few weeks instead of being an everyday thing. We visited one of those villages in Tanzania later on my second safari and I can tell you the difference was substantial. Here we felt that we were welcomed as guests but that this was their home not a stage.
The dance here is in the cattle area where they house them at night. That dirt is all dry dung. Masai live very close to the cows. It is a strong smell, but as with learning to see with new eyes, I guess I was smelling with a new nose by the end of the visit.
The warriors are young men who leave the village for their teen years to hunt and care for the cattle away from the village. Later when they return, they are adult and can marry (if they own cows for the dowry).
Red is a traditional and powerful color in Masai culture. These men have painted their heads and legs with ochre.
I like the spears in the ground in this one.
The Masai teach the visiting men how to dance. The Masai can jump better than anyone.
My friend from the safari, Daniel, jumping with the Masai.
I really like this picture of Daniel with the Masai warrior.
Phil wore his red shirt to the Masai camp. Respectful lad.
Hamish dancing with the Masai
The Masai warriors loved getting Daniel to dance. The warriors (and the woman during our dance which I don't have any pictures of because I was busy dancing and singing) were all laughing and making lots of side comments about us all in their language. The visit was a really good mix of them introducing us to their culture and being mutually amused (but in a pleasant way) by our differences.
Dale getting outjumped by the Masai ...but he was actually pretty good. The best among our group - and this was before we painted his toenails blue when he fell asleep on the truck, so he didn't even have any special foot mojo going.
Dale standing his own. We were very proud of him.

Masai men. The man on the right (holding a bag of small sweets for the village kids), was our guide.

Daniel with the Masai. That's a nice picture of our guide on the right too.

Karl with the Masai

Heather with the Masai. She was a big hit. They were very impressed with her tongue piercing. The little rod in her tongue made them do the same fascinated/alarmed wriggle that the Masai's elongated ears had on some of our group of visitors.

me with the Masai
The guy on my left kept playing with my long hair.
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Masai woman. Two of the craftswomen I bought beaded jewelry from.

Jackie and the Masai. Jackie, who was my tentmate from Australia, and this woman were talking (as much as the woman's limited English and Jackie's lack of knowledge of Swahili or Masai words would allow) and Jackie held her baby for awhile as they visited.

Posted on November 8, 2005 at 12:01 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

riding in the truck 2005


Posted on November 8, 2005 at 12:00 PM in travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

pretty little songbird 2005

This little guy was just singing on the fountain at the place we had lunch driving between Naivasha and the Masai Mara

Posted on November 7, 2005 at 12:01 PM in travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Mountain Whose Name I Never Caught 2005

beautiful old volcanic caldera in a snapshot from the moving truck

Here's the big view from a distance:

Posted on November 7, 2005 at 12:00 PM in travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lovely Lake Naivasha 2005

Such a nice place to stay.

I stayed in one of those little cottage rooms on the right. Very simple, but just fine.

Cattle egrets among the lilies. That blurry little bird in the sky is a Pied Kingfisher, probably. There are hippos out at the edge of the lilies. They were grunting from time to time.

Walking back to camp from the lake

The view back toward the lake. Looks benign, but the warning about the hippos is serious. They are deadly animals.

Flower farms. These are roses in the field with greenhouses beyond. Many of Europe's florists are stocked from this region of Kenya.
Reminds me of the big Jackson Perkins fields down by Wasco in the Central Valley in California.

The man grazing his cattle in this field had beautiful cows. The fresh green grass made them glossy and healthy.

Posted on November 6, 2005 at 12:00 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling, travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ibis 2005

They are glossy bronze color and move in a funny clockwork jerky way. They are so clearly mechanical substitutes for real birds. Those talented ancient Egyptians built to last!

Posted on November 5, 2005 at 12:12 PM in travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

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