Thursday, February 28, 2013

that's just my brain leaking out my nose

Oh my gosh, I just heard the most ENRAGING thing on Diane Rehm.  They're talking about the new Salt Sugar Fat book, and some yahoo (not the author) she has on the panel today was saying that Mark Bittman's recipes, serving for serving, have more calories and salt than a "famous processed food chef" he refused to identify, and that he spoke to a doctor who said if you eat highly processed food then you can take a multivitamin and be just fine.


Okay, imagine me frothing at the mouth and losing the power of speech due to the magnitude of myopic stupidity with which I have just been bombarded, because THAT'S WHAT I'M DOING.  How do I even begin to illustrate the many ways in which that man is failing?  Can he not read?  Can he not see the evidence all around him that he is so wrong he's actually creating an intelligence vacuum that reaches through space and time, changing the future and making octopuses the dominant species?  Is he serious with this?  I am forced to conclude that he is a food industry shill.

The book, however, sounds intriguing and I will be reading it.

Also, not to nitpick, but that "goat" in the Taylor Swift parody video looks a lot like a sheep to me.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I don't know that what he's doing can be called "acting"

I woke up this morning an hour before my alarm was supposed to go off.  At first I was pretty ripped, and I lay grumpily in bed trying to go back to sleep.  But then I resigned myself to my fate and got up and showered, and right about now, when the kids are all out of the house and I actually have some time to sit down for a minute before I have to head out to the school, I'm feeling like a freaking GENIUS, I'll tell you that much.

Let's see, what's new . . . well, both John's and my car died within a few days of each other.  I guess they couldn't imagine life apart.  It's quite romantic.  So now I have a new car, and John is looking for a new car (for "new" read "used," but they are new to us, and I decided I didn't want to call them "new to us" because that skews twee) and driving our '82 GMC pickup truck in the interim.  It's a behemoth that basically consists of levers and pulleys, so we hang on to it in case of an EMP.  It just makes sense.

I renewed my ADGA membership this morning.  Hazel and Sally are still up at the neighbors' house, though I'm sure they've long since been bred.  Hay is getting very difficult to find, because apparently everybody decided to refresh their alfalfa the same year, and it seems like half the fields that are normally in alfalfa are in wheat.  Our wheat is finally out from under the snow, so now the field is lousy with deer and guinea fowl all day long, brazenly chomping the crap out of it.  While I was in Australia somebody hit a deer in front of our house and it crawled into our driveway to die.   Sad.  They are rats with horns, but even so you don't want to see them suffer.

Monday, February 25, 2013

day 4 of my australia trip

Yesterday we went to the Blue Mountains. Claire called the park service and they said that visibility was good, so we packed up and left a little after nine. The reason they are called the Blue Mountains is because there is a bluish mist over the whole valley, from the oil of the Eucalyptus trees that fill the Jamison Valley.  The drive is a little over ninety minutes, and Norah was feeling pretty carsick, and there were repeated requests for spicy juice, but thankfully she didn't throw up.  The first thing we did was go look over Echo Point, where you can see the whole Jamison valley. We walked down to the Three Sisters, which is a very impressive sandstone rock formation that was formed by erosion. I didn't get any decent pictures of it, because I am a durf.  But Claire is going to send me hers.  There are places in the valley that are almost 3000 feet down, so that gave me a bellyache.

Then we went into Katoomba and ate lunch at a little cafe. I had some very good fish and chips. After that we got dessert at a patisserie where Claire got a caramel bar, Norah got a meringue penguin, and I got a meringue penguin, and a Lamington to share, which was superb.  The Lamington I got on Saturday in Sydney was from a sad little chain called Pieface, and it was no good.  This Lamington was moist and creamy and delicious, and I would like to have another someday.

After lunch we went to a place called Scenic World, where you can walk around down in the rainforest valley of the Blue Mountains. We rode a cable car down, then went on one of the boardwalks that meanders through the valley. 
It was really beautiful. The trees are enormous, and everything is covered with moss and lichen. They have a tree there that is 500 years old! Just think of that--it sprouted during the Middle Ages, like, during the second pandemic of the Black Death! Very exciting. We saw an old coal mine which looked pretty claustrophobic.  It's a good thing that people used to be shorter.  Then we rode a cable car that goes high above the valley, and you can look down onto Katoomba Falls. The cable car has a big section of glass in the floor that goes clear during the ride. I was very brave and stood on it. It was a cool place and I enjoyed it very much. Norah and Owen were very patient and good the whole day, so I bought Norah some lollies, which is what they call candy here.  They were little circles of hard candy with fizzy centers made to look and taste like different fruits.  Norah says "lollies" with a cute little accent, because she learned the word here, from Australians.  

NOTE:  I added my pictures of the wombat to my day 1 entry, if you want to go down and look.  He's powerful cute.  

Friday, February 22, 2013

day 3 of my australia trip

Yesterday we went to church. Their chapel is about half the size of one in the U.S.--at least the heavily Mormon areas of the U.S.--and all their classrooms open onto a landscaped inner courtyard, where recently they had a Christmas party and rumor has it that the one of the attendees was upset about how the lighting was done. Said attendee did not, however, offer to help with the decorations and can therefore be ignored.  The people were very friendly, as expected, and one girl for her testimony recapped at exhaustive length the plot of the movie "The Life of Pi," which she called "Pi of Life," and compared it to one or more gospel principles, I think. It was interesting, where interesting means weird. People are weird all over the world!

When we got home we had lunch--grilled chicken and vegetables and rice and some delicious Turkish bread called pide that I bought the night before at the grocery store, which is a very fun place to explore. Grocery stores are my favorite.  Then the couple missionaries came to ask Claire and Nate to do FHE-type activities with the young single adults in their ward. They expressed their desires in a multitude of similar ways, so as to make quite sure they were understood.  The husband grew up in Australia, and had been made to take speech lessons as a child so he would not speak like an Australian, and thus is able to say "How now, brown cow?" instead of "Ha na, bran cah?"

Then we went to Balmoral beach and walked around on the sand and rocks looking at stuff. There was an area where the rocks were all pitted like the back of the Surinam toad and now I'm all sicked out thinking about it.

We found some pretty shells, none of which was a cone snail, so don't worry, I did not die. We found some pretty anemones that were a deep pink color--I didn't touch them--and a crevice in a big rock that was teeming with purple crabs looking like tiny little Garthim about the size of a hoppy taw.  Ask dad to look up what a hoppy taw is. Of course you know what Garthim are, since you love The Dark Crystal so, so much and don't think it's at all boring or weird.  

The beach was beautiful and the rocks were all swirly and had veins of one kind of rock going through another kind of softer rock, so they had eroded in really weird ways.
The picture is not a great one, but believe me, it was plenty interesting.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

snorky talk man

Okay, I just read the headline and the pop-up blurb of a news piece that speculates that fish are becoming more aggressive because they are absorbing all the prescription drugs we're dumping into our waterways because I guess we must like trashing the only home we've got.  Anyway, my imagination started whirling away, and I applied this same hypothesis to sharks . . . are you thinking what I'm thinking?  We are killing sharks at an alarming rate, and yet the number of recorded shark attacks is remaining constant.  I read a thing before my trip to Australia in which the author wondered if sharks were developing a taste for human flesh, and evidently there are even people studying this possibility.  The reasoning goes something like this:  sharks are scavengers, and will eat things that are decaying in the water.  In places where there is a lot of organized crime activity there are also a lot of bodies being dumped into the ocean.  Hence, sharks will acclimate to the taste of human flesh, come to enjoy it, and then begin to seek it out.  Abhor, then pity, then embrace, as the poet said.

So what I'm saying is that maybe sharks are all hopped up on goofballs, or are soon going to be, and also they like how we taste now, so maybe we need to be more careful about getting into their environment.  The ocean is a really cool place, and of course I think it should be studied, and enjoyed, but sometimes we tend to wreck everything we touch, and we need to do a better job of not punishing the ocean and its citizens for our own stupid choices.  I don't want to kill the shark, but I do want to warn it, and say, "Hey, I think you're pretty neat, but I respect your distance."

Bottom line:  killer sharks, and probably other things too.  Crocodiles and alligators!  Orcas!  They are coming for us . . .

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

day 2 of my australia trip

I woke up early because I'm still getting used to the time difference. For breakfast I ate some cold cereal, because you know how I love cold cereal, and they were crazy Australian kinds, so of course I had to try them. One of them was like Raisin Bran and Honey Bunches of Oats mixed, one of them was thick foamy flakes, and one of them was like eating Koalas--like big Cap'n Crunch pockets filled with chocolate. Silly Australians. It was still rainy outside, so we decided to go to the Australian Museum rather than the beach.

We rode the bus into the city, and walked the rest of the way to the museum. On our way we walked through the Queen Victoria Building, which is a big indoor mall in a huge old building with copper rotundas and elaborate stone work. The stores there are very fancy and expensive.  I took a picture of the tile floor because I am crazy about old-timey tile floors.  

We also walked through Hyde Park, which is a parkish space with lots of great big trees.  At the museum we saw lots of skeletons of different animals, and dioramas with taxidermied animals. The blue-ringed octopus is so tiny, as are a lot of the dangerous animals here. There is a jellyfish that causes painful stings and hospitalizations every year that is about as big as a peppercorn. We learned that the bluebottle is not actually a jellyfish, it is a community of organisms called a zooid, each of which performs a specific function, such as digestion, flotation, or stinging. There was a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex that I think was the hugest one I've seen in any museum ever. They have a big room full of beautiful minerals, a room full of taxidermied birds and preserved insects, and there is a stuffed artist's rendering of the Thylacine/Tasmanian tiger, which looks like a great bit doggish thing with striped hindquarters. Very interesting place.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

but how does p. diddy feel, if you don't mind me asking, also day 1 of my australia trip

I should be doing some more prep for my lesson tomorrow, or writing my talk for next Saturday, because every time I think about recapping my Australia vacation I start thinking about those other two responsibilities hanging over my head, and it totally kills my buzz.  Would you guys like it if I just posted the emails I sent to John and the kids, and repurposed them for the blog?  That might be fun.  I'll try that.  But first, the reason I went to Australia at all is that my sister Claire and her family are living there for a year for her husband's job, and what better time to visit a foreign land, one that I'll probably never get to see otherwise?  John said it didn't make sense to go to the other side of the world unless I was going to stay for at least two weeks, so off I went, while he stayed home and watched our kids, because he is a gentleman and a scholar.

And now, without further ado:  my trip to Australia, day one.

I got off the plane after my hideously long flight yesterday morning and Claire and her kids were waiting in the airport lobby for me. We drove to their apartment, which is in a very nice neighborhood full of cute little Craftsmanesque houses. We dropped off my luggage and walked down to the bus stop to go into the city.

We got sushi and a bento box for lunch from a little Japanese place across the street from Nate's building, so Nate joined us for a minute. The people were very friendly and cleared a little space for us to sit since we needed a lot of room.  They wouldn't let us go upstairs because either it is an opium den or they were worried that the children were going to fall off the balcony--not sure, because of the language barrier.  

The first thing we went to was Wildlife World, which had exhibits of many Australian animals. We saw some koalas sitting in their tree being all quiet and sleepy like they normally are, since they spend basically their whole lives nigh unto malnourishment, if the nature shows are to be believed. The wombat was so much bigger than I thought it would be! He was trundling around digging holes here and there in his sandy enclosure and was the cutest animal I've seen in a month of Sundays. He looks sort of like a hairy pig, if pigs were cuter.  

Next we went to the Sydney Aquarium. They have an underwater tunnel that you can walk through where you can see sharks and dugongs, which are supposed to be kind of like manatees I think, which reminds me of that Jim Gaffigan bit about how the manatee keeps trying to get people to call it a manatee, and everybody just keeps calling it a sea cow. The sharks and dugongs are not in the same enclosure, for reasons I'm sure you understand if you think about it. Some of the sharks are ginormous! I was very thankful for the thick glass in between us. The tank had a bunch of lettuce floating around in it, for the fish and the dugongs to eat.  Why do sharks not eat the other fish in the tank with them?  These are the mysteries of life.  The platypuses were asleep while we were there, so we didn't get to see them. Once we got done at the aquarium it started raining like crazy, so Nate called from work and got a taxi and we took it uptown to the bus stop and back to their apartment. We got pizza for dinner last night from this beautiful little place across the street from their apartment, a sort of gourmet grocery store where I could spend our entire monies without even breaking a sweat.  I bought a caramel bar, which is like what we call a Scotchie bar, and I asked a stupid question about the Turkish Delight.  I also looked for Lamingtons.  They didn't have any.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

but you can dip your feet in every once in a little while

So, this is not in chronological order, but it's important for you to understand that Claire and Elaine and I are master woodsmen.  While we waited for our restaurant in Deloraine to open for dinner service (because Tasmania shuts down between lunch and dinner, and everything closes around nine or so at night--it's a strange but not altogether upsetting experience) we went down to the riverbank.  Elaine was writing postcards, I was lying in the sun working on getting another sunburn. and Claire was hunting for platypuses.  Suddenly she came bounding up, saying, "You guys!  I found one!"  Here is the platypus we saw:

And then he swam away to the other bank and rolled around in the shallows and scratched his belly and I almost died. I have video footage, but the resolution is really terrible once uploaded to Blogger.  I will see if I can put it on Youtube and get it better that way.

and I wonder wonder, wonder wonder who, who wrote the book of love?

I'm back, possums!  I don't have time to tell you all about it right now because I have to head out to the school, but I will tell you this:  I want to move to Tasmania.  It is a magical place.  I saw a platypus IN THE WILD.  I almost had a wonder stroke.

Friday, February 8, 2013

devil with a blue dress, blue dress on

Not much time, but I wanted to check in and tell you that I have seen a captive platypus and a Tasmanian devil and gotten an Australian sunburn and am about to board my flight to Tasmania.  This is a fabulous country and I want to come back.  Also I had a Lamington and it was superb.