Friday Cat Post

Robbie's back stateside, and in honor of that, one amazing Friday cat.

Science Times examines the first domestication of wild cats. Those smarty-pants meowsers went ahead and domesticated themselves when they figured out that humans were beginning to store grain, which in turn was beginning to make mice available.



a brief discussion

annie: UGH! Is your away msg for real?
[referring to my gchat status, which currently reads: "dumb suburbans tellin me to use the sidewalk...psssshhh. ride a bike!"]
me: yeah
just happened
so lame
annie: use a sidewalk? Use a dick for a toothbrush!


As if I weren't already afraid enough...

First thing this morning, I read about parasites that make rats and possibly humans do really crazy things to get nearer to cats. Thanks for the creep-fest, Science Times.

If that was not enough, I later found this site, thanks to another link from ...this recording. Their link led to finger-sized animals, in one of those so-cute-you-might-cry kind of ways. Another post, however, was of funny painted cats. Only one of the very weird below.


Ritual from nocoastfilms on Vimeo


Bike Church in the Heat

Last night's Eagle ride was hot'n'humid on the way out, all full of nature on the way back.

Anders, Ben, Jane and I set off a little before 6, and with Ben leading the pack at a fierce pace for the heat and the drunk Anders. No worries, it felt pretty great once we made it to the One-Eyed Dog.

The kitchen staff remembered us, noting we were quite early; sadly, our usual bartender/waitress wasn't working.

Jane and I managed to do lots of unladylike things at dinner. And there was lots of talk of shake'n'bake babies. It's not what you think. Ok, maybe it kind of is.

On the very rapid, slightly downhill, mosquito-ridden ride home, there were fields full of lightning bugs, much like a level in We Love Katamari, except real and more beautiful. A little black mole scurried across the path to a collective "awwww!" and a deer came running out in front of Ben right after the tunnel. Even at his generally fast pace, the deer outran him, hooves'n'hands down.


Undoing Bush

Harper's has several articles up right now on "undoing" Bush, i.e. what the next President will face in dealing with his various messes.

For starters, the environment.

As an aside, high-five to Alex Provan for assisting in story writing there.


Congratulations in Dearland

Elvis, Brigham, Nick, and Wyndham hit the big time.

Nothing better to be said

I can't write about this. Just click the header and read the story. Maybe you, too, will almost spray food on your computer screen, if you happen to be eating.
Hat tip to Anders.


My Suggestions to the Frugal Traveler

The New York Times has sent its Frugal Traveler on an American Road Trip. Oh, swoon! He's going to be in SD and Nebraska next. Here are my suggestions:

Nebraska! Check out the Art Deco masterpiece that is the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln. Beautiful mosaics and light fixtures, allegedly Hitler's choice for his North American headquarters, and lovingly referred to as the Penis of the Plains for its form. (Plus, the tip of this structure features a statue of The Sower, a man sowing seeds across the prairie!)
After touring the capitol, walk over a few blocks to Yia-Yia's Pizza at 14th and "O" Streets for the best selection of beers in the Midwest. You'll also be on the longest main street without a curve (40 some miles, stretching out of town in either direction) and in one of the densest bar strips in the country.
You can also check out the Tractor Test Track and Museum (located on East Campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln), where this Land Grant school takes consumer testing into its own hands. You get to see tractors racing around a banked track, pulling stuff! Plus, there is an excellent collection of tractors throughout the years.
Head west, and hop onto Highway 2 at Grand Island, where you can drive through the beautiful Sandhills, artifacts of a more sea-like past. This is ranch-and-rodeo country, and you'll also be passing through a few of the country's poorest counties. Gives you something to think about. Eat some locally grown steak in Broken Bow. Make it to Alliance for the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Carhenge, the ultimate in weird art and roadside attractions. Yes, it's like Stonehenge, but out of old cars. Great at sunset, for all your photo needs.


Birds, or a childhood memory becomes a sort of father's day tribute

I meant to publish this yesterday, but then I was actually out helping my dad with the haying. And, without fail, the baled snake prophecied in this did indeed arise. Photos forthcoming.

There exists a tape recording of a two-year-old me whistling too closely into a microphone. I had recently learned the song of the bobwhite, a meadow bird that heavily populated my grandparents' farm near Denton, Nebraska. I start out far enough away, my father holding the microphone and asking me questions about my day. "Was haben wir heute im Museum gesehen? Sahen wir die Mama im Bett?" I had spent the morning, it seems, at one of my favorite haunts of the time, the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, the Lincoln Center of the Great Plains. No, I'm not kidding, it was built by Philip Johnson and looks just like Lincoln Center. See? I had become convinced that Lillian Westcott Hale's The Convalescent (Zeffy in Bed) was in fact a painting of my mother in bed. There happens to be a photograph of my mother, not long after my birth, in which she is similarly posed, thus rendering this slippage decidedly more astute.

I spent most of my pre-school years with my father, who at the time was teaching night classes at the University of Nebraska so that my mother could work full time as a high school teacher. He often boasts that I learned to walk in the Sheldon, and that I would plop down in front of my favorite -- Mark Rothko's Yellow Band -- with quite the toddler's reverence. Outside of our gallery time, my father and I spent days going to the hardware store, where I'd often want him to buy me a nut and bolt combo, just because. We also frequented the John Deere implement dealer, where a miniature die cast tractor was almost always in order, until the inevitable point at which I had them all -- antique to modern, balers and plastic straw bales to boot -- and had to grumble that the only and completely unfeasible alternative was moving on to collect Massey-Ferguson or Case models, something that would have killed my grandfather then and there, too soon to ever meet his namesake.

Though we had a house in Lincoln, on most weekends and for the majority of the summer, we spent our days on the farm, taking care of the cattle, helping my grandmother garden, and putting up the hay. It wasn't until I was at least ten or so that my father put fenders on the main tractor, so until then, riding along meant being small enough to fit on a lap, or just in between the driver's legs and the big vertical steering wheel. Part of the joy of driving the tractor (other than of course the monumental power felt in driving several tons of machinery) during hay cutting and baling is being out in front of the other machinery that is scaring up the wildlife from the deep grasses. When you're on the hayrack, it's sweat and existentialism all the way, but in front, you see the snakes slither out from under the tines of the windrower, the groundsquirrels and such scurry into their burrows, and the swallows swoop like kamikazes this way and that, gorging themselves on all the stirred-up insects. You're also generally the first to spot a circling hawk or a family of deer in the pasture, and maybe if it's early enough in the morning, a coyote. My mom spots these things from the rack, but she's the exception, an incredibly efficient bale stacker who can take the time to spot wildlife. (And, to be fair, occasionally, on the hayrack, you get the ultra-metal experience of seeing a baled snake.) My grandmother was the ardent bird watcher of the family, but once you got him on the tractor, my dad made sure to point out every last animal he saw. The only problem? You had a hell of a time trying to understand what he was saying over the rhythmic cacophony of all the tractor and baler's parts; a finger repeatedly more vigorously pointed in the same general motion path of the animal would have to do.
The bobwhite's song was my favorite, perhaps only for its ease of imitation. "Bob-White, it says," my mother would encourage, "listen." And I would whistle along, breathy at first, then growing in tone and confidence. I sat at the crest of the driveway, overlooking lake and trees on the other side of the highway, hiding in the tall prairie grasses on the hill below, listening and calling back, listening then calling back.

The Audobon Society is reporting that the common bobwhite is now the Number One Common Bird in Decline, dropping in population a whopping 82 percent in the last forty years. And seeing as though within the last year there have been signs advertising a new housing subdivision next to the farm, somehow, I'm not surprised.


Funky Nuclear Town

Thanks to my friend and seasoned activist Dennis for this link-up:

AREVA energy is promoting its nuclear communities, technologies and energy in an international campaign. To do so, it has offered up this ad:

(French version! The US one is linked here.)

Get me moving with some energy, indeed.


Another video, deemed by my brief Google research as possible inspiration.


Nice Night For A Ride, Isn't It?

Sunday marked Week 2 of bisonz bike gang bike rides to Eagle, NE with built-in dinner/beer/rest stop at the One-Eyed Dog Saloon. It also marked the second ride back in as many Sundays that we crossed paths with the phantom night rider, the man bound eastward for Eagle in the pitch dark when we're all headed homeward, the man who declares: "Nice night for a ride, isn't it?" And indeed it was. Hopefully Nated will post photos soon.

Ande watched He-Man and the Masters of the Universe on Saturday morning. And I watched this:



The sky out my window, facing west,
Is a soupy green right now.

The color of June fourth Juni
Aki's twenty-first birthday.