Friday, June 29, 2007

Dear Charities

Hello! First, let me say that I believe you are doing good works out there in the world. You are really making a difference, and I do think that's awesome. Thank you for that. Also, thanks for the address labels! And the notepads. And calendars. The free T-shirt was thoughtful. The Christmas cards are cute, if sometimes a little bit odd. Free wolf postcards? Why not! And I can always use even more address labels, I suppose.

As much as I love free address labels with cute animals on them, I'm really going to have to take a stand. I get more mail in a week than the governments of small developing nations. Half of it is in my maiden name, and the rest is coming to me thanks to a few charities I do support who decided it would be a great goodwill-building gesture to sell my name and contact info to every 501 (c) 3 this side of the Atlantic (I'm looking at you, National Audubon Society! And don't try to deny it...I can tell every time I get one from your sellout because of the hilarious error you made in combining my name with MB's to create one gender-bending hyphenate.)

It's mostly the waste, because even though I recycle all the mailings you send me, that doesn't change the fact that you are producing what must be literal tons of mail every year, which is going out across the country to lots of people who, like me, just can't afford to support you right now and yet will receive their body weight in your mail and free gifts by the end of the decade. It's also bugging me that I'm sure you're sending lots and lots of mail to people who don't recycle, which is much worse. Finally, if you'd just think to include an opt-out postcard in the first mailing you send out to every potential member (or just don't send out more than one unsolicited mailing per year...or hell, even per quarter), I'm guessing you'd save a lot of money. A LOT. I know bulk rate is cheap and a lot of your costs are paid by the government, but if you'd just take the majority of the money you spend on printing, assembling, and distributing these mailings--each one with a return slip, a pre-printed return envelope, a letter, and (more often than not) a shiny strip of non-recyclable address labels (quite often annoyingly misspelled)--and you put that money toward whatever cause you're pushing, well...just imagine how much more the whales / trees / cheetahs / chimpanzees / wolves / dolphins would appreciate that money.

And charities that do get a chunk of my not-so-plentiful money--I'd appreciate it if you'd stop pimping me out to all your friends. It's irritating, and you're lucky I believe in you, because I have to tell you that each time I receive a piece of mail from yet another of your mailing list customers, it makes me consider "forgetting" to renew with you next year, just to stem the tide.

Sincerely yours,
the bleeding-heart but not made-of-money Velocibadgergirl

Photo Friday

Thursday, June 28, 2007

pygmy kayak ontario steve blog pot
(the not-quite-bimonthly-this-month Googleage report)

hard drive in an egg salad sandwich help desk

Do they have a special help desk for people who drop their hard drives into their egg salad sandwiches, or do you have to talk to the same tech support guys who handle peanut butter sandwiches in VCRs and oatmeal in CD players?

tiniest boobs ever

Boy, are you ever at the wrong blog.

diapered women

Go away.

correct usage of cedar mulch

Can't you just sort of pile it on top of the dirt around the plants?

colorblind geologist

Other than the maps, this really wouldn't be a problem.

dem bones and cones restaurant indiana

That would probably be a really kickass name for a ribs and ice cream place.

"his skintight pants"

No idea, but it led me to this somewhat hilarious blog post.

harper lee underwater swimmers

Wouldn't it be sort of fantastic if these baby swimmers things came in a To Kill a Mockingbird theme? You'd have Nemo, Little Mermaid, Pooh, Disney Princesses, and Atticus Finch.

egg salad stinks

Then don't eat it. Do people really need Google to tell them these things?

alphabet cards ichthyosaur

I've blogged about these before, because they are AWESOME.

I'm thinking very seriously about buying a set of these sometime soon, then saving them so I can lay them all out in a big poster frame and hang them up in the nursery when we have a baby.

macgyver truck

a list of problems solved by MacGyver

emo cause moms minivan is less mainstream

I guess that's as good a reason as any.

video killed the radio star onesies infant

Also, even better:

my husband tried hollow dildo strap on

I need an adult.

what is anal egg salad

I have no idea what this means, but it reminded me of this Sarah and the Goon Squad entry.

hello everybody I'm american

Well, that's true. It's not like I need to advertise, though. The accent sort of speaks for itself.

picture of egg salad face

underwater breathhold fuck

This sounds like an embarrassing ER explanation waiting to happen.

dripping sounds in wall behind fridge

It's a pretty safe bet that this is a bad sign.

pantyhose photo blogspot

Sorry. I haven't owned a pair of pantyhose since 2003, and if I have my way, I won't ever own a pair again.

sound effect +"squeaky shopping cart" free

Why would you want to find the most annoying sound on the planet, on purpose?

"blog" "work" "exchange" "name" "caridee" "next top model" "pirates"

I think your main problem here is a vast overabundance of completely unrelated search terms.

"spork skirt"

This never gets old:

hammer pant in dress parade

If life was fair, this one would've come with pictures.

carol shields ,"go for long walks

I have no idea why this led here, but I like the quote it references:  "Go for long walks, indulge in hot baths, question your assumptions, be kind to yourself, live for the moment, loosen up, scream, curse the world, count your blessings, just let go, just be."

"peed in an alley"

Why yes I did, but just once, and it was an emergency. Sorry, Stratford, Ontario...I didn't think you'd find out.

Velociraptor pitchers

This search led me to this. It's brilliant.

Usually velociraptors don't make good pitchers, because it's hard for them to get good velocity with their little arms. Most velociraptors are second basemen.

I just can't even follow this up. I'm humbled.

faux-unit clothes

Is someone actually trying to achieve Polterwang?

how to make an egg not brake when thrown off a roof

This shouldn't be too hard. As far as I know, eggs always lack a braking mechanism.

Mt Beauty shoulder dislocation

"Hippocratic Technique-foot in armpit, fraught with peril." *

velociraptor salad

This one is too wonderful to even make fun's beautiful.

yoni egg classes in d.c

Thank God for Google, truly, because I could not make this shit up if I tried:

Sexual Kung Fu for Women Level 1

Belly Dancehall for Womb Healing combines Dr. Amen's great loves - bellydance & Jamaican Dancehall!

Billy collins "middle name"

"This much I do Remember" by Billy Collins

It was after dinner.
You were talking to me across the table
about something or other,
a greyhound you had seen that day
or a song you liked,

and I was looking past you
over your bare shoulder
at the three oranges lying
on the kitchen counter
next to the small electric bean grinder,
which was also orange,
and the orange and white cruets for vinegar and oil.

All of which converged
into a random still life,
so fastened together by the hasp of color,
and so fixed behind the animated
foreground of your
talking and smiling,
gesturing and pouring wine,
and the camber of you shoulders

that I could feel it being painted within me,
brushed on the wall of my skull,
while the tone of your voice
lifted and fell in its flight,
and the three oranges
remained fixed on the counter
the way that stars are said
to be fixed in the universe.

Then all of the moments of the past
began to line up behind that moment
and all of the moments to come
assembled in front of it in a long row,
giving me reason to believe
that this was a moment I had rescued
from millions that rush out of sight
into a darkness behind the eyes.

Even after I have forgotten what year it is,
my middle name,
and the meaning of money,
I will still carry in my pocket
the small coin of that moment,
minted in the kingdom
that we pace through every day.

Unrelated note:  MB and I watched Burn Notice on USA tonight, and it was quite a bit better than I expected. "Guns make you stupid. Duct tape makes you smart."

me:  "Did he just take zip ties, a gas rag, and a screwdriver?"

MB:  "He's like a dirty MacGyver."

Also, stolen from Bite the Rabbit because it's THE SHIT:  Apostrophe Abuse. And there's a Flickr group, too! *swoons*

Reading:  Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

Playing:  Howl by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's an addiction, and I need help. Just not right now.

I settled down last night to check my email and write a blog post, and the internet was dead. My dismay was only heightened by the fact that the outage removed the last excuse I had for not doing the dishes that were left from Evilducky's Friday night belated birthday party. During the dishwashing, I kept sneaking over and refreshing the browser window, but to no avail. The internet was well and truly nonfunctional.

Figuring it was some kind of scheduled maintenance or routine thing, I went to bed, slightly grumpy but not really concerned. I woke up this morning, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to check my bloglines page...Woe! Rending of garments! No internet!

I left MB with strict instructions to check the internet as soon as he got home from work at 3 PM, and to call our service provider if we were still cut off. Around 4:00, he called me at work. He informed me that there was good news and bad news, and I asked to hear the bad news first (I always do; I feel like good news after bad can only serve to soften the blow).

He said, "The bad news is, we're going to be without internet for about a week."

I tried mightily not to whine. "What's the good news?"

"They know what the problem is!"

Whoops, here comes the wail:  "Are you SERIOUS? That's barely good news at all! This sucks!"

He offered some kind words of comfort, but they barely registered through the gloom. My blog! I can't abandon my blog for an entire week!

And then? He said the words I least expected to hear:

"You know I'm kidding, right?"

I'd be mad if it wasn't so damn funny. Well played, my lover. Well played.

Reading:  Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

Playing:  Howl by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Saturday, June 23, 2007

j of c and bt in lc

Because, clearly, there's nothing quite as much fun as leaving yourself cell phone reminders that will be completely incomprehensible by the time you access your to-do list.

In other completely disjointed news, which I won't even pretend connects to the above or to each other:

( 1 )  My leg is still gory (photo taken after a long, boiling hot bath). I'm planning to call the doctor first thing on Monday and see if I need a refill on my giant antibiotics.

(Edited to add:  as of Sunday morning, it actually looks a bit better...we'll see how it's doing tonight, I guess.)

( 2 )  Isn't this just about the cutest goddamn thing EVER?

It doesn't even look looks like a stuffed animal manufactured for maximum adorability.

( 3 )  Then again, this is pretty cute:

( 4 )  But nowhere near as cute as this:

I'm sure our children, when we have them, will be able to tie themselves into complicated knots without feeling any pain. ("OHMYGOD, what's wrong with your baby??" / "Nothing. That's called a clove hitch.")

Reading:  Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

Playing:  Howl by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Friday, June 22, 2007

White and Nerdy

It's been a nerdy week here in the velocibadger household, which is just the way we like it. First there was the carnivorous plant terrarium. Then MB completed his new wine-rating spreadsheet, which includes the standard tasting / rating system as well as a custom rating system that caused last night's selection to be dubbed a "+2 wine of dining." Hee! On Wednesday afternoon, I received an email that said,
"As you may know, the Shuttle Atlantis recently separated from the International Space Station. Tonight, both spacecraft will pass directly over Badgertown. They should appear as two bright "stars" in the northwest sky at 9:52 PM. At that point, they will be 800 miles away over South Dakota. These babies will be moving straight toward the zenith. They will pass directly through the Big Dipper. They reach their greatest height at 9:55 PM, when they will pass directly overhead at an altitude of 214 miles. Don't wait too long--33 seconds later, the shuttle will disappear into the Earth's shadow, followed one second later by the Space Station."

I was hanging out with Danger and MacGyver that night at their house out in the country, and we went outside to watch. Indeed, we saw two bright dots appear out of nowhere at about 9:52, move steadily up the sky, pass through the Big Dipper, and then vanish again on the other side. Even though we were just staring at two points of light in the sky, it was really really cool. REALLY cool. (Interesting wikipedia tidbit:  In South Korea, a Swiss Army knife is commonly called "Maekgaibeo kal" and in Indonesia and Malaysia, they are commonly called "Pisau MacGyver/Pisau Lipat MacGyver." (Kal and Pisau mean knife in Korean and Malay, respectively.) In Malaysia, the term "MacGyver knife" (English) is also commonly used.)

Then I spent all day yesterday learning how to be a water quality monitor through Hoosier Riverwatch. My favorite part was using all the nifty chemical testing kits and checking out the macroinvertebrates that act as water quality indicators. Since my Master Naturalist class this past Spring, I've volunteered a few times at the local wetland, where kids get to go "bug fishing" to find macroinvertebrates. It's super cool to be able to teach them about the insects and what they mean for the water and why we should take care of them / not squish them even though they're "icky."

I could go on (and on and on) about the splendors of a geeky life, but I'm scheduled to meet up with my sister in about 10 minutes so we can see a movie and have lunch together one last time before she heads off to archaeological field school for the rest of the summer. Laters!

Photo Friday

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Prozac Nation

As planned, we took Kitters to the vet today. I LOVE our vet. She listened to our concerns and believed us when we told her about the redirected aggression, even though Kitters spent every second that he wasn't being examined cowering in my arms, one front paw over my shoulder, his head in the crook of my elbow, and his body tucked as close to mine as he could get. He was the very picture of abject pitiful cuddliness. Little shit.

The vet said that our best initial options would be to try Feliway, a pheromone plug-in diffuser, or to start him on Prozac (not making that up, I promise). The two options were close to the same price, with the Feliway costing a little bit more but getting extra credit for not requiring that half of a small pill be crammed down the cat's throat every day. We decided to give the Feliway a try, but went ahead and had the pre-Prozac bloodwork done, in case the Feliway doesn't work. He was going to have to get a slightly less exhaustive blood workup done in July anyway when he goes in to have his teeth cleaned, so we figured we might as well just get the whole screen done now in case he needs meds.

The Feliway diffuser has been purchased and installed, so cross your fingers that it will help Kitters find his happy place. The diffuser insert is supposed to last four weeks, and his dental appointment is in four weeks, so I figure unless he gets really tantrum-y before then, we'll probably just give this a month before we decide about the Prozac. As a bonus, I found out that for an extra $5, the techs will comb out Kitters's coat while he's under sedation for his teeth, and should be able to take care of the mats. Score! That is SO worth five bucks.

Anyhow, many many many thanks to all of you for your well wishes and kind words. They really did help!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Feed me, Seymour!

I got this cool carnivorous plant kit on my San Francisco trip:

There are lots of parts to the kit:

I was a little bit skeptical about their need to trademark "Bog Buddies" (the little plastic lizards) and "Swamp Rocks" (the blue gravel), but according to this video, both of these are pretty important components:

"Included with the Flytrap Fiends is the blue gravel as well as some decorative Bog BuddiesTM, just to create the natural environment that it's used to."

Thus converted, I carefully located and set aside my Bog BuddiesTM, only to find out that my kit only has two instead of the promised three. If my plants' well-being and contentment suffers because of this, someone is going to hear about it!

Step One:  "Massage the bag of planting mixture in order to remove any clumps that may have formed during shipping."


Step Two:  "Carefully empty the bag's contents into the base of the terrarium. Remove and dispose of any large clumps that remain, leaving only fine peat moss."

So far, so good!

Step Three:  "Add 2 cups of distilled or rain water and mix with soil." it's clumpy again.

Step Four:  "Press and smooth soil gently so there are no clumps on the surface of the soil."

Step Five:  "The seeds are extremely small. Use great care when handling them. Fold a piece of paper once and carefully empty the packet's contents onto the paper. Tap the pack gently to release all the seeds of the envelope and collect them in the crease of the paper. Scatter the seeds directly onto the surface of the soil."

You're kidding me. $24.99 and that's all the seeds I get?

Yep, pretty tiny.

Step Six:  "Place terrarium in the refrigerator and leave for 8 weeks before continuing the planting procedure. This is known as stratification."

The directions don't say anything about putting the lid on the terrarium before stratification, but the FAQ section on the website has "check to make sure the lid is on" under "Why aren't my plants sprouting?" so I decided to take a chance.

And hey, isn't our fridge sort of bare and bachelor-y? Weird.

So, stay tuned for the next phase of the carnivorous plant project. Three days down, 53 to go!

Monday, June 18, 2007

It's just a flesh wound!

Things are somewhat improved in the casa de velocibadger today. Kitters is still on strict probation and stays in the spare room with his accoutrements whenever anyone other than MB or me is here. So far he has not had another meltdown. *frantically knocks on wood*

I went to the doctor this morning and got a shot in the bum and a prescription for antibiotic pills the size of my eyeball, so that's loads of fun. The doctor also measured the injury, so I can now inform you without a doubt that it is 4 centimeters long. Four centimeters! That's 40 millimeters!

Since I would totally want to see it if it was someone else's flesh wound, I took a picture of my gory leg for you guys, but I'll post it as a click-through so that you don't have to see it if you don't want to:  Click here for blood. It's not all that bad, it's just kind of oozy. The picture was taken yesterday, so that's 12 hours at least after the initial mauling. It didn't properly scab over until late today, which is sort of creepy.

Here's another creepy thing:  feline saliva is so full of The Nasty that getting a good solid cat bite is basically like getting a bacterial injection. One article I found said that most birds who die after being bitten by a cat die from an infection, not from their physical injuries. No wonder my leg still hurts. Bacterial Lollapalooza going on in there. (All joking aside, cat bites can be really bad news, so if you get one like mine, please go see your doctor.)

In other, non-bloody news:

I went to see Tool in concert last night with the apathetic one, and it was pretty kickass. There were times when, like Mickey from In the Night Kitchen, I was in the music and the music was in me.

I also signed up for bloglines feeds for all the blogs I read (I totally copycatted Alyndabear) and you guys, it is the shiznit. Instead of clicking through my entire blogroll, refreshing and hoping for new posts, I can just sign into my bloglines page and it'll tell me exactly when one of my favorite blogs is updated. Now I can blog-stalk everyone in near-real-time! Woo! Also, for all of my lazy blog friends, you won't be able to reap hits off of me anymore as I refresh your page five times a day, mournfully hoping for a new entry, so you'll actually have to post now to get my clicks in your stats! Muahahaha! ;)

This was actually a really good day for me in the blogworld, because not only did I win a prize over at Radioactive Jam, I apparently made the super-cool-blogger Ice Cream Mama nearly pee herself with my entry in Mrs. Squirrel's weekly What the J? contest. Winning a radioactive monkey prize and nearly making a really cool blogger laugh her butt off in one day? My work here is done.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Picking up the pieces

As often (thankfully) happens, things seem a lot less dire a day later. Armed with comforting words from my internet friends and some ideas on what is wrong with Kitters (why hello, redirected aggression) as well as a list of anti-anxiety medications commonly tried for cats, I feel like I'm properly prepared to approach the vet's office in a "what's the next step?" fashion rather than a doom-and-gloom fashion.

Kitters's behavior has been exemplary since the bite / confinement, and right now he's comfortably (though probably confusedly) ensconced in the second bedroom with his litter box, food, water, and some toys so that there's no chance at all of a repeat performance while my sister is visiting.

Some lucky things:  I have some comp time available at work, so I'm going to take off at 3:00 on Tuesday so that both MB and I can accompany Kitters to the vet. The trip we were supposed to take on Tuesday to a local amusement park with my dad was already postponed until August, so I don't have to sit out of the water park with a gory leg, feeling sorry for myself. Though it does still sting a little, I was able to wander around pretty freely at work without overtly limping, so I won't have to offer any awkward explanations to coworkers. I haven't cried all day over Kitters's unsure fate. So, tentatively, things are looking up. And sometimes, just the hope that things will be better is enough, I think.

Edited to add:  We have an appointment for 4:00 on Wednesday, since Kitters's vet is not in on Tuesdays. Cross your fingers / send good thoughts! I have decided to remain stubbornly optimistic.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Mr. Kitters bit me on the leg tonight, pretty badly. He bit MB while I was in San Francisco.

We had hoped that his behavior would mellow as he got older, but he's actually been getting worse over the last several months.

He's normal almost all the time, but if he sees another cat in the yard, he snaps and attacks the closest person.

I had to call my mom to come check and make sure I didn't need stitches. MB is on his way back from visiting his parents in Kentucky.

On Tuesday, we're taking Kitters to the vet to see if there's any kind of medication that can help him without drugging him into a coma. If not, or if we try it and it doesn't work, we will probably have to get him put to sleep. We have tried everything to modify his behavior and nothing has worked. He has become a danger to us and to our friends and family, as much as it hurts me to write these words.

I already sobbed for an hour in bed, and now I just feel numb. I love him so much, but we can't go on living like this, waiting for the next time he goes off on someone. We can't have a kid with him in the house.

He was supposed to grow old with us. He was supposed to be around for another 10 or 15 years, making us laugh and snuggling us at night. He was supposed to move with us when we buy a house, to watch over our babies when we have them. This was not the way things were supposed to go.

I thought about not saying anything and just posting the goofy entry I was working on before the bite, but I just can't do it. I'm heartbroken. I don't really know what else to say.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

San Francisco Recap #6:  Going Home

After walking a distance approximately equivalent to the length of the coastline of California on Friday and Saturday, the Untamed Shrew and I spent Sunday chilling out at her house in Santa Clara, along with her sweetly hilarious husband (who told us as we left on Saturday, "Remember, it's bad feng shui to run over the tourists!") and their darling dog, Bones:

The Untamed Shrew was just about the most awesome hostess ever. Not only did she point out the long-famous but never-before-seen Gay Viking Lamps so that I could photograph them, she also set out cut bougainvillea in the guest room (in the best vases of all time).

She also gave me two presents. Two presents! Just for showing up! She left a book about redwoods on the bedside table with a note on top that said, "This book belongs to Velocibadgergirl."

She also stashed this T-shirt from Married to the Sea in the dresser with a similar note:

On Monday, we camped at Big Basin State Park, another redwood forest. Unfortunately we got there in the late afternoon, so the light was off for taking pictures and I didn't get very many decent ones.

We set up our tent inside a ghost redwood, a circle of trees left when a parent tree falls and the trees that started as sprouts around its base are left behind. It was incredible.

Then, sadly, it was time to pack and go shopping at Lush, pack, buy this book for a pregnant friend, pack, and say goodbye to the Untamed Shrew, her hilariously sweet husband, and their dear dog.

My wistful goodbye to California and its lovely weather ended up being long and boring instead of brief and bittersweet when my flight got cancelled and I had to take a 1:19 PM flight out of San Jose instead of the 6:30 AM that I booked. Instead of getting home at 2:45 as MB was getting ready to head home from work (super convenient since he could throw a rock from the roof of the machine shop and hit the airport), I rolled in at 10:30. By that point, though, I was so glad to be home (and more importantly, not in an airport or on a plane) that I didn't even care that it was late. I had an absolute blast in California, but it's good to be home all the same. Even if the trees here are kind of puny.

"Going to the woods is going home." -- John Muir

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Internet, How Do I Love Thee?

Because I'm feeling completely brain-fried from a once-placid month turning into such a monster that it looks like a red pen exploded all over my calendar, I am going to forego any kind of actual content tonight and just post a list of online things that have really, really amused me lately:

1.  Ars Technica visits the Creation Museum

If you missed it, there's now a Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. My favorite bit of the review is a caption on a photo of some dinosaurs wandering past a seated mannequin of Eve:  "Notice how the vegetarian velociraptors ignore Eve."

Pure comedic gold (the Creation Museum and the review, for different reasons).

Another article, "Educators Criticize Creation Museum." ( think?)

2.  An article and photo gallery featuring "Freakishly Large Animals"

"The men fought bravely, but the truth remained:
if you want to kill a swarm of locusts, you'd better have nunchucks."

4.  The journal of a woman who wore the same brown dress every day for a year. I'm both intrigued and slightly horrified.

5.  Passive Agressive

6.  Nessie caught on tape? Maybe I'm a softie, but I always kind of wanted Nessie to be real. This video doesn't do much to convince me, but it's still kind of fun.

7.  The photo quality's pretty awful, but these are books designed for you to record your pets' "firsts". Like parents have for babies. Only these are for dogs. And cats. If I did one for Mr. Kitters, it would need pages like "First time my cat conned me into giving him dinner after my husband had already fed him" and "First time my cat tried to gnaw my arm off because he was pissy about something."

8.  Speaking of Mr. Kitters, I have to include this, even though I didn't find it and it didn't come from the internet:

The bibliophile showed it to me at Barnes & Noble tonight, and I had to buy it. Mr. Pusskins could be Mr. Kitters's brother.

Reading:  Human Wildlife:  the life that lives on us

Playing:  a twangy country mix on the computer

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Happiest Puppy on Planet Earth

Remember when my parents found five puppies? They ended up keeping one of the girls, a fuzzy little ball of bounce named Maggie.

Here's Maggie at about 2 months old:

And check out Miss Maggie-wags now, at approximately 5 months:

The word "ginormous" comes to mind, yes? She's only about 4-5 inches shorter than the smaller Husky at the shoulder these days. Someone's been eating her Wheaties!

I owe you one more San Francisco recap. Tomorrow, hopefully.

Reading:  An Idiot Girl's Christmas:  True Tales From the Top of the Naughty List by Laurie Notaro

Playing:  The Haunting by the now-defunct Celtic group Clandestine

Big cat, small bed

Saturday, June 09, 2007

San Francisco Recap #5:  And an island never cries.

As glad as I am that the Untamed Shrew and I missed any Critical-Mass-related traffic / mayhem, I'm somewhat upset that we missed this the following evening:  Brain-eating Zombies Invade SF Apple Store. Then again, we did have a completely kickass time on Saturday (May 26), so I guess it all evens out.

For our first adventure of the day, we visited the San Francisco Zoo. The line was immense when we arrived, but the Untamed Shrew had already decided to purchase a membership, so when the zoo staff offered line-jumping privileges to anyone who was planning to sign up for one, we were all set. Even though it was Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, once we got into the Zoo, it really wasn't all that crowded. Obviously, there were animals.

The zoo takes in orphaned and abandoned seal pups and raises them until they can be re-released into the wild. They put colored paint on the pups' heads so they can tell them apart.

Goodness, I love giant anteaters. Love them!

Mountain tapir (either Harold or Maggie) & Baird's tapir (Goober)

We stopped to check out some cool-looking (but dangerously spiny) plants.

This peacock danced his little heart out, but the target of his affections was completely unimpressed. Poor guy.

Click below to view his bootie-shaking moves (sorry it's so grainy...YouTube apparently doesn't like my camera.)

After leaving the Zoo, we went to John's Oceanside Diner, formerly known as the Doggie Diner. I wish I'd taken a photo of the apparently famous Doggie Diner dog head, but luckily I found a photo online to demonstrate it's odd ugly-cute appeal:

The former Doggie Diner is the Untamed Shrew's favorite restaurant near the beach, and it was wonderful. I had fantastic French toast and near-perfect scrambled eggs. (Also, the waitress complimented my rings, which I always like to tell MB about later.)

Once we'd stuffed ourselves, we walked down to the moderately redundantly named Ocean Beach. It was pretty neat to realize we were standing at the edge of the country, that if we could step out far enough into the sea, we'd be leaving the United States behind.

It was remarkably cold and blustery on the beach (as it seemed to be anywhere in San Francisco where the Bay or the ocean was nearby), but luckily the Untamed Shrew had warned me to bring a winter hat and gloves. We found more than 30 intact sand dollars (expired, of course), which was pretty fantastic.

(We weren't the only ones collecting treasures.)

After the beach, we headed for Pier 33 to catch our ferry to Alcatraz Island. The cruise company's website said that tickets tend to sell out, so I'd ordered a pair back in April for the night tour. Thank goodness I did, too, because when we got to the pier, the signs on the ticket booth said that the next available bookings were for Tuesday morning at 9 AM. It was absolutely frigid out on the water, but oh so worth it. Luckily, we scored seats inside and near the window for the ride out to the island.

I always kind of assumed that the prison took up the entire island, but there was a lot more to Alcatraz than just the cellhouse. Most of the buildings are in ruins, now, but it's still really neat to see.

This was the warden's house, and even though it's hard to tell from this angle, the place was absolutely huge:

Alcatraz lighthouse #2:

In this old photo, you can see the lighthouse keeper's house at the base of lighthouse #2, as well as the warden's house:

This is the old parade ground, from the days when Alcatraz Island was a military installation. According to the audio tour, the prison staff's children played here:

When the prison staff and their families lived on the island, they built beautiful gardens, which were maintained by work-release prisoners (presumably during Alcatraz's military prison days, and not its super-scary-bad-guys prison days).

The cellhouse itself was pretty incredible, and I've been trying to come up with the words I need to encapsulate it ever since I got back, but you can't neatly summarize a place like Alcatraz. It's truly impossible.

Even on Alcatraz, though, there's beauty to be found, if you just take the time to look:

Hit Shutterfly for more zoo & beach pictures and a few more Alcatraz pictures.