Friday, October 27, 2006

I live in downtown Portland, in an old apartment building. I was sitting here doing my homework and minding my own business when a flutter of movement on the deck of cards on my table caught my eye. I glanced, then did a double take. A small, definitively furry spider was wiggling his legs at me. It was between one and a half and two centimeters long. Primarily black or dark brown, with tan markings, including a tan v shaped mark on its back. I screamed. I sort of tried to herd him into an area so that I could catch him and throw him out the window but the little bugger was fast. Then the thought occurred to me - I have lived in this area for 26 years and other than pet tarantulas, have never seen a spider that furry here. I mean, it was seriously covered in hair, all over its body and its legs. It looked kind of fat too. I mean, usually spiders look spindly but this sucker was fat and hairy.
I was at a loss what to do, guessing that he is not native and might be
dangerous to myselves or my cats (they like to play with the few spiders that
find their way in here).
So I grabbed some paper towels, gathered my strength and will, screamed again, attacked, squealed, ran to the bathroom and opened the paper towels over the
I've never seen that amount of spider juice in my life.
Any ideas what it was? Did I kill the poor
bugger for nothing?
Please tell me he was a non-native, invasive species and what I did was the better for native Oregon life... I don't generally like to kill spiders; I don't mind them if
they just hang out in the corner or whatever.
But this guy was darting all over my space! And although kind of cute in his hairy little way, he looked so out of place that it seemed the only
thing I could do.
Besides, it takes someone braver than I to actually catch a spider.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

You'd think we would have known better...

     When my brother and I were teenagers, our mother had a horrid boyfriend named Dan, who got put in jail for drunk driving.  He needed to store a few large items, and my mother agreed to let him keep a Datsun 240Z (which my brother later totaled to everyone’s surprise since I was the troublemaker), and a large tow able RV on her property.  One day, while my mother was at work, my brother and I were hanging out with a couple of our friends, Mike and Roger.  We were mighty curious about what exactly was in the RV, and couldn’t pass up the chance to disrespect Dan by invading his property while he was locked up and couldn’t do anything about it.  Besides, we really wanted to find some dirt on him that would make mom finally and forever kick him to the curb.  The RV was unlocked, and inside we were disappointed to find nothing of interest – just some moldy carpeting, empty beer bottles and sticky porno magazines.  That is, until Roger spied a plastic margarine tub filled with gunpowder.  Wouldn’t it be neat to light it and watch it explode, we thought?  
We took it out of the RV into the pasture the RV was parked on, and went about figuring out just how to make it explode without hurting any of us.  We didn’t have any long matches or incense sticks to light and plant inside the tub with the gunpowder, but my mom had an extensive collection of oil lamps, so I suggested cutting a piece of an oil lamp wick.  They agreed it was a good idea, so I ran inside, cut some wick, and ran back out to the field.  They were deciding who should light it at this point, and agreed that whoever lit it would need to be able to run like the dickens away from it.  That automatically disqualified me, since the others were all taller and faster than myself.  Of the three, Mike was the tallest by about 4 inches, so he agreed that he should be the one to do the lighting.  We planted the wick inside the tub, and my brother, Roger, and I jogged a good distance away since we weren’t sure how large the explosion would be.  “Ready!” we yelled, and watched as Mike bent over to light it.  Nothing happened.  
“The matches are blowing out before it’s lit!” Mike yelled to us.  
“I’ll bring you a lighter!” Roger yelled back, and proceeded to run a lighter over to Mike, and then run back to us.  We watched as Mike bent over and the tub and suddenly “BOOM!” the gunpowder exploded and Mike was enveloped in a huge cloud of smoke.  “MIKE!” we screamed, and ran toward him with many “Oh my god’s” as he stumbled out of the cloud of smoke.  
When we reached him he was shaking his head and rubbing his face, which had just minutes ago been sporting his prized goatee, and was now sporting a pathetic, shriveled 5’o clock shadow.  His eyelashes were gone, burnt to a crisp, as were most of his eyebrows.  We ascertained that he was okay, but boy oh boy did he smell awful from all that burnt hair.  We went inside, where he shaved off what was left of his goatee, and tried to concoct a suitable excuse for my mother about what had happened to his eyelashes and eyebrows.  All ideas seemed more ridiculous than the truth, so when she asked what happened to the hair on his face, we simply told her the truth.  She lectured us for going into Dan’s RV without his permission, and then said “I guess that will teach you not to play with gunpowder!”

Friday, July 14, 2006

I am getting rid of my cell phone.

Dear VerizonWireless,

We have been together for 6 years now, but lately I have been feeling really unhappy with our relationship. Why? Well, for starters, I am tired of paying an excessive amount of money to communicate with people, and have access to the internet. I will save about $40 per month by breaking our contract. That is $480 per year. I just don’t think that the convenience of having your service is worth the cost. Even after paying you $175 bucks to cancel my remaining 1.5 year contract, I will save that amount in 4 to 5 months, and will then save a little over $500. Wow. Besides, I hate paying for something that I either don’t get, or end up paying an exorbitant fee for more time if I go over my minutes. You don’t offer rollover minutes; I have had months where I have up to 100 extra minutes that I pay for (which mysteriously disappear at the end of the billing cycle), and then the next month I go over by 50 or 75 minutes and have to pay an extra 20 to 30 bucks. That doesn’t seem fair at all to me, and I am tired of supporting a corporation that doesn’t offer a plan that fits my needs at a cost that I can reasonably afford.
Besides, what am I really gaining by having my phone on me everywhere I go? Well, I always know what time it is, but now that I have a watch, that won’t matter. My phone always rings when I can’t answer it because I am busy with other things, I despise talking to people when strangers can hear the conversation, and on top of that I think it is rude to have a conversation with someone while hanging out with someone else, so I miss calls half the time that I could answer but just don’t want to because it would be rude. Those aren’t really conveniences, they are inconveniences. Essentially, I am paying an extra 40 bucks a month for voicemail. Since my local land line provider offers voicemail for free with my line, I think it is in my best interest if we just part ways. If you really want to change my mind, “use the force.” I have already schedule to have my land line installed on Wednesday. Goodbye VerizonWireless, it’s been good knowing you. Well, except for all the times you have caused me aggravation by dropping important calls or making me pay for the minutes I went over when I had leftovers the month before, or when my phone rang and I couldn’t or didn’t want to answer it, so it went to voicemail anyway.
P.S. I will be taking my phone number with me.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Another 35mm photo, not digitally altered. Chair with an imal. Posted by Picasa
You may be wondering what that photo of the fish down there is, and what the hell the caption is supposed to mean. Here's the scoop:

On Friday, I found a fish in the hallway of the building I live in. He was in a disgusting little bowl, with rotting parts of another dead fish floating around and all sides covered in algae. The sign in front of him said "Free." I have fish, so was fully prepared to get him into some clean water and give him some medication. I did so, named him Edward, fed him (he almost jumped out of the bowl in his excitement - obviously hadn't eaten since the other fish carcass started rotting) and with the help of the forum users at, I found out that he is a paradise fish. Knowing him to be incompatible with my fish, and not having the means to care for another fish anyway, I posted on to find someone who would be interested in providing him a loving home. I had many responses, and on Sunday, he left me to go live with a fish lover who has 6 community tanks and seemed delighted to be giving the poor little guy an appropriate home. Edward has been quarantined, apparently is free of disease and fin rot, and is busy trying to figure out what the heck the snails in the quarantine tank are. Happy endings are nice when they happen in real life.
Although I am glad I was able to help this poor little creature that humans have put into a bad situation, I am a little annoyed that I had to spend so much of my time this weekend (those who know me know how little time I have for anything) taking care of someone else's self-created problem. Fish are percieved as some of the easiest pets to take care of, and as far as I can tell, some of the most abused. The problem is that people don't bother actually putting any research into the care that their pet will need, decide to bring it home, and then discover that they aren't willing to provide the type of care that it needs. While I may not mind vacuuming my fishes' rocks and doing a partial water change every week, alot of people may find that it is just too much work for a pet that, while it may interact with you, you are unable to touch and adore on a physical level.
I have also rescued dogs, cats, and a horse (with the help of my mom, she has property and we both are responsible horse owners). It is so distrubing to me that people can be so selfish as to decide they want to be the caretaker of another living creature, and then, knowing that it is in a situation where it absolutely cannot care for itself, keep it until it is in pain, near death, or dies. If you cannot provide your pet with the care it needs, PLEASE do something to find it a home with someone who can provide that care BEFORE it is suffering. We humans bring these creatures into the world and into our lives, that makes us responsible for them. To then be the cause of the suffering and/or death of that creature is a travesty, and to pawn it off on someone else by abandoning it is of the utmost irresponsibility.
My dear friend David gave me a camera. It is a 35mm slr. I've been using it. Here is one of the photos I took with it. This has not been altered by any software, although it did scan a bit bright. Nice colors, eh? I used slide film, processed as C-41.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Saving the lives of fishes everywhere...even abandoned in hallways... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A couple weekends later, Hayley and I went to Uzes, which is an awesome little town not far from Ales. This is a preview picture, I'll write about our awesome day trip there later. I am out of time now... Posted by Picasa
The next day, we (Hayley and I) decided to go to Janets house. We walked a ways, hoping to hitchike, but no one would pick us up. Finally, after yet another car had passed us without stopping, we heard a honk and could see that the person had pulled over to pick us up, about 50 yards ahead uphill, around a corner. So we ran to her car and got in. She asked us where we were going and we told her, it turns out it was only about two km further, but the ride was nice. We got out and Janet's house was about another two km walk, but on the way we passed a house that had donkey's in the front yard! We stopped and called them, and, although they were at the opposite end of the field they were happy to visit with us. They walked up to where we were and pigged out on the grapes Hayley had picked from a vineyard that we were walking past (for us to eat! Donkeys have no manners and big mouths!) We rubbed their faces and I talked animal talk to them. They were so cute! When we got to Janets house, we went hiking in the Cevennes. I didn't take many pictures because it was a VERY intense hike. Probably the most physically intensive hike Ive ever been on. Straight up the side of a hill. It was really pretty though! Posted by Picasa
The exhausted chefs, at Tim's apartment after the dinner. Posted by Picasa
Group photo! taken by Karens boyfriend, Gabriel, visiting from Germany. Clockwise from the left, we have Janet (USA), Claire(UK), Howard (USA), Gabriel (Ecuador [not an assistant, but one of our friends...we went to Spain with him]), Karen (Germany), Rocio (Chile), Pili (Spain), Hayley (USA), Tim (Ireland), and me (USA). Posted by Picasa
Uh, sorry, I forgot to mention, that last picture was Hayley surprising me with the camera as I was making pumpkin pie from scratch! Here are Hayley and me working the pumpkin pie together. Taken by "le frigo qui ne marche pas bien..." AKA the fridge that doesnt work very well and gave me SALMONELLA! Posted by Picasa
Hayley had an absolutely brilliant idea - we should have a Thanksgiving dinner on the Friday night after Thanksgiving. Complete with Turkey (though we couldnt find a whole one as the French usually only eat whole turkeys at christmas), stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn bread, sweet potato casserole, salad, and of course, PUMPKIN PIE! Hayley and I made the pumpkin pie (from scratch! we couldnt find the pumpkin in a can stuff,) Hayley managed the turkey, I made the mashed potatoes, we both worked on the stuffing (again, from scratch! It was so damn good! I will never eat stove top again,) Rocio made the salad, Pili made some flan (wich we were too stuffed to eat,) Janet made the green bean casserole, Hayley made the sweet potato casserole, and Tim and Howard made the corn bread. Then, because Hayley and I thought it would be cool to be Pilgrims and Indians, but didn't have time to execute our plan, we got Janet in on it, and she made some hats for everyone. Somehow, it turned out that everyone's hat fit their personality just right. Posted by Picasa
The tea house had a palm tree living inside. Posted by Picasa
Aix has a similar feel to Portland. I felt very at home here. We went to an Indian tea house where I drank the most incredible tea I've had in my life, and we all smoked flavored tobacco out of this hookah. Me, Hayley, Karen, Tim, Howard, and Damien. We sat around talking and playing Djenga, and making funny faces at each other with playing cards. Whoever took that picture of me should send it. Posted by Picasa
This is at Aix-en-Provence, taken just after we arrived. I love Aix! It is such a neat city. I didn't get very many pictures of it because it was raining the entire time we were there, except at night. Posted by Picasa
This is near the stairs at the Marseille train station. Posted by Picasa
The train station at Marseille is on a hill, and these are the stairs that lead down into the city.  Posted by Picasa
Captain USA, if you are listening...err, reading...I was thinking of you when I took this! If you want a physical copy, I can procure one for you. Posted by Picasa
Wow, I've been doing a lot of not-posting. Well. I am back in the good ol' USA, and I still have a bunch of pictures to post. So. This photo is of the harbor in Marseilles. I took it when a group of us were on our way to Aix-en-Provence for Hayley's birthday. We had to change trains in Marseilles, so we walked around for a while, got a sandwhich, stopped at a cafe where we were ignored by the staff, so we left and went to another cafe, where I had...a cafe. I really wanted to steal one of the spoons. It was shiny and heavy. But, my conscience got the better of me, and I didn't. Damn! I wish I had that spoon! Posted by Picasa