Thursday, March 27, 2008

Magic Bus



This photo comes from here, a collection of simple jaw-dropping images of decorated busses in Pakistan. The American art car people have something to learn from these artists! This bus that's loaded with all the people on top reminds me of the bus we took the length of Ecuador on the Andean highway. The road runs across the tiptop ridge of the Andes, and we thought it would be a cheap and scenic way to see the country. Well, it was cheap. But scenary? no. We were virtually in the clouds the entire way. You could only see the crosses that lined the road, where previous busses had careened over the edge and killed all the passengers. There also were no bathroom stops, only stops for tire-changing and picking up more passengers to squeeze aboard. We sat in front of a woman who was sharing the same seat with two children and several chickens. At one point the child peed on the seat, and the German tourist who was sharing the row with her was not very pleased.

There was a King of the Bus, a very young boy whose job it was to collect any gear or boxes or animals that wouldn't fit on the bus, and pile them up on top. While the bus was moving, he'd climb down the outside ladder, grab the stuff, run up the ladder with it on his shoulders and store it somehow. He would also come aboard and collect the fare. People got on and off in the middle of nowhere. Out of the fog, you'd see people appear, standing along the road in woven sarapes and hats, with a sheep or a pile of bags. The King of the Bus would get them aboard and we'd be underway in minutes.

I have never been more happy to get off of a bus.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Trillium



We took a lovely spring hike yesterday up Baltimore Canyon in Larkspur. The weather was pleasantly warm and sunny, and the very first of the white wildflowers were blooming along the path. The trillium make such a big splash along the trails. This one is called Trillium Ovatum or the Western Wake Robin. I found this out by talking to my sister, and also by consulting the online Trillium Identifier.

I learned some other interesting things while I was looking for the name. Picking the flowers of Trillium can seriously injure the plant. The three leaves below the flower are the plant's only food source and a picked trillium may die or take many years to recover. Trillium seeds have an organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes and put the seeds in their garbage, where they can be protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant garbage. (Did you know that ants have a special place for their garbage?? This requires more research.)



I'm not sure what this plant is, because it hadn't bloomed yet, but the leaves were such a gorgeous green, and the way the breeze played on the leaves made such a soft lovely bed.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Close up view of the city

Take a look at this map viewer: Mapjack. What amazing closeups of the city I love. You can even take hikes - look at the Presidio paths just west of Golden Gate Bridge. These photos were taken last June.. I wonder if they plan to expand these images to more cities.

They are so much more vivid and hi-res than google's street view!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Springing into action

The sun is crossing our celestial equator! The equinox is a magical day - legend has it that on the spring equinox you can balance an egg on its end. Snopes tells me that this legend is false, and is linked with all the egg business of spring (decorating, hiding, putting in baskets, etc.) A little more research reveals this:

As reported by Gardner in the Skeptical Inquirer (May/June 1996, page 8), the legend was born with an article penned by Annalee Jacoby in the March 19, 1945 issue of Life magazine. Ms. Jacoby was on assignment in China at that time, when she witnessed a peculiar Chinese ritual. According to Chinese legend, it is easier to stand an egg on end on what they call the first day of spring (which is in early February). The Chinese legend, unfortunately, has an uncertain origin, though it is propagated through old books about Chinese rituals. Ms. Jacoby was in the capital city of Chunking on Li Chun when a crowd of people came to balance eggs. It must have been quite a sight, and so she wrote about it for Life.

Evidently, the United Press picked up the story and promptly sent it out over the wire. At that moment, a legend was born.

What's funny about this is that Ms. Jacoby evidently reported that the event occurred on the first day of spring, but it was never said (or else it was conveniently forgotten) that the first day of spring in China is a month and half before the first day of spring as recognized by Americans! The legend now states that you can only stand an egg on end at the equinox, yet the legend started because the Chinese were standing them up six weeks earlier. Ironically, the very basis of this legend is wrong!


(from Bad Astronomy)

I enjoy reading about the pagan springtime celebrations from which our spring holidays originate.

Ostara (sometimes spelled OEstera, or Easter), the Germanic fertility Goddess, was associated with human and crop fertility. On the spring equinox, she mated with the solar god and conceived a child that would be born 9 months later on December 21: Yule, the winter solstice.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Where no man has gone before

CBS is now serving up all the original shows from the original Star Trek series. I have always been much more into Star Trek than Star Wars, despite the fact that I ended up working for Lucas instead of Roddenberry. This year, there is going to be another Trek movie, and friends of mine here at work are created special effects for it, so perhaps I've come full circle.

Star Trek: the next generation was superior in almost every way to the original series, but the originality of the first shows can not be contested. As much as I cringe when watching Capt Kirk get the girl every time, and those uncomfortable mini-skirts, it was trend setting to have Uhuru there at all. I always enjoyed Mr. Spock, and the strange chemistry of the three main characters. I heard that the next movie has re-instated the mini-skirts, because it takes place earlier in the time-line than the original series.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A quote from Buddha

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.


thanks to Sacred Ordinary...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

L..O...L...A



Since Rudy had his picture on the blog recently, it's only fair that Lola gets her equal time. Here she is on the very same sofa. She is giving her snaggle-toothed grin at the camera, and putting her ears in Yoda formation.

Not long after I took this picture, Barb came in to see how cute the dog is (she was just checking, something that she does every few minutes or so), so I snapped this one of the two of them..

Friday, March 07, 2008

Crosswords

Last night on the bus ride home, I sat next to a guy who had the newspaper folded over to reveal the crossword puzzle. He didn't seem to be working on it anymore, and I kept squinting at his lap to see if I could read any of the clues. I thought I'd keep myself from boredom if I could puzzle them out. Alas, my eyes were too weak. He was clutching his Blackberry and fiddling with it. As we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and went through the tunnel into Marin, he continued to stare at the Blackberry screen, although clearly nothing was on it but the logo. Eventually, the Blackberry made a connection, and he started using the teeny tiny keyboard to type in stuff. I realized that he was using his PDA to Google the crossword clues!

This seemed like cheating to me. In fact, it is cheating. I wanted to say to him, "use me, not Google!".. but by this time I noticed that he smelled a little funny and seemed a bit anti-social. I wasn't sure I really wanted to engage. In the half hour-long ride, he had entered quite a few clues, but only written down two or three answers. It takes more than Google to solve a NY Times puzzle. It takes a human brain, and an eye or an ear for puns. Since starting to do the weekday puzzles, I have gotten progressively better. I notice that when I start out intensely, I'm looking for facts and hard answers. As it goes on, I relax into the rhythm of the puzzle and I feel around for the fun, twisted answers, based on double-entendres. Today, there was a clue: "bug zapper?" - the answer was "cure".

If that guy is googling today, maybe he'll find the answer here.