Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Well, That was a Weekend...

Memorial Day Weekend's pretty much over (ten minutes to go as I type, so it'll be over by the time I post, I'm sure.) As usual, the family and I wandered down to the local Folklife Festival. Since few of the acts actively caught our eye, we mostly meandered about the grounds.

We first went down on Saturday. There seemed to be fewer vendors... at least, some of the ones we usually see around the grounds weren't here this year. But these guys were... they're called Tie Dye Everything, and they have pretty much any article of clothing you could ask for dyed in all manner of bright colors.

There were also the usual just-kinda-weird vendors about the grounds...

... but at least they had pretty stuff.

Despite urgings of the festival staff, people insist on bringing their dogs to the festival, often without bothering to bring dog water (or clean-up bags.) Some of the canines take the matter into their own hands... this one in particular couldn't get enough of the fountain. I don't think I'd seen a happier dog in ages.

Other animals have to earn their keep. Phineas here, an African Gray, put on a nice little show... though Malarkey could talk rings around this guy. (Probably not the kind of language you'd want around kids, though...)

"Lookit the giant tomato... Got little Timmy... Ate 'im all up."
Part of a new Children's Museum display in what used to be Fun Forest. Either that, or that radiation plume from Japan really wasn't as harmless as everyone said...

Hey, it wouldn't be Folklife without the weird-arse street musicians of variable talent...

We came back down on Monday (after a Sunday spent mowing Grandpa's lawn) to meet my aunt, my uncle, and my grandfather. I'd rather hoped to get a good family shot - we don't expect Grandpa to be around for that many more Folklifes - but it didn't happen... Anyway, while wandering around, I saw this peculiarity.

Guess that about does it. I suppose I ought to wander off and try squeezing in a bit of writing time before bed; I'm desperately far behind on revisions, and June's breathing down my neck, with the halfway-point of the year right on its heels.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Grandpa's in the hospital again. He's been getting wheezier for the past week, showing signs of discomfort (without being able to articulate it), and had some extremity swelling that got the family and the group home nurses concerned. Most of Sunday was spent in the ER trying to track down the problem. We suspect a reaction to one of his newer drugs - the switch and the onset of symptoms seem remarkably coincidental - but we don't know as yet just what the official diagnosis is.

I have a day off on Wednesday - one of those "get HR off my back for over-accrual of vacation hours" vacations - but until I know what's going on with Grandpa I'm hesitant to make any real plans. (I was considering a run to a local zoo... one of them has a few new exhibits I'd like to see, and the other has a special dinosaur display that sounded cool. Heck, even the hole-in-the-wall on the hill nearby has a new tiger exhibit that I'd kinda like to look at.) I suppose this is part of the reason I finally broke down and bought myself a cell phone this weekend, though... still doesn't feel quite right.

In the meantime, I've been on a bit of a nostalgia trip; I found Almost Live! clips up at a local news site. (Almost Live! was a long-running local comedy show, though a fair amount of the regional humor probably doesn't hold up with newcomers; Ballard, for instance, is no longer a haven for Nordic fishermen and old drivers, having been yuppified significantly. Not that there aren't a few holdouts in the area...) I remember most of these from the original airdates, and danged if I don't still chuckle.

I guess I've been backsliding, too, in a way...

MONDAY UPDATE: We visited Grandpa in the hospital after stopping by his house to mow his lawn and check his mail. (Trying to make sure neighbors know the place is being watched...) He wasn't as bad as he evidently was on Sunday, but he wasn't as good as he's been, either. The heck of is is that nobody in this so-called integrated hospital system will talk to each other. The hype about interconnected patient files and cooperative care is pure malarkey. Nobody will even consider the possibility of a drug reaction, even though he has every symptom on the list and they have nothing really to lose by taking him off the thing and seeing. My uncle's ready to strangle someone to make them listen; they kept Grandpa in an unheated room for hours, refusing to fix the thermostat and ignoring requests for a blanket. (The room he's in now felt too warm to us; I'd hate to think they're that petty at a hospital, but I don't know anymore...) It's enough to make one almost glad that one can't afford health insurance; there's almost no chance I'll live long enough without it for this kind of runaround to dictate my life or death.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Well, they finally sent Grandpa "home." ("Home" being the group home where he's been staying, not his house.) Little definitive answer on what went wrong, why he'd stopped eating and could barely answer questions, and so forth, but he did have some manner of infection and an edge of pneumonia. He wasn't eating much there, but he ate everything they set before him when he got out of the hospital. So we're hopeful he's back on an evenish keel.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

So Much for Promises

I'd rather hoped the world would be down a few nutcases by now, but apparently the promised Rapture didn't take place as scheduled. Which really sucks, as not only would it have helped our global overpopulation issues, but I'd already picked out my new car, new house, and new job based on the expected vacancies. Plus I'd be just as happy going about my daily life without fear of running into the sort of people whom God evidently likes enough to lift straight into the VIP afterlife club.

The Oatmeal explains the technical difficulties...

So, you may wonder, what have I been up to? Fortunately for you, not taking pointless pictures and composing blog posts about meaningless events in my life to justify posting them. Unfortunately for me, I haven't been doing much else, either. The year continues to slip past at the speed of a greased weasel on an espresso high. I have projects backing up that need finishing (or starting, in some cases.) About all I've excelled at is coming up with reasons to continue procrastinating.

On a not-entirely-unrelated note, I finally joined the 21st century about a decade late with the purchase of a cell phone. (Yep, those who know me can attest to my nonstop chattiness and overall gregarious demeanor, and will likely keel over in shock wondering how I got by without one for so long...) It's a cheap little prepaid number, mostly to enable me to contact family members if we have another incident on the scale of the Grandpa Catastrophe, or to call AAA if I find myself in need of roadside assistance. I literally just activated the thing, so I'm still figuring out what-all it can do. It claims to have a camera and Bluetooth compatibility, among other bells and whistles and shiny things I don't foresee myself ever having a need for. But, then, at one time I never foresaw myself needing the internet, so we'll see...

At the very least, figuring the thing out will allow me to procrastinate nicely.

Maybe by then God'll have debugged His heavenly teleporter and beamed up His more self-righteous followers, like He promised.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Miscellaneous Things (Illustrated Edition)

It's been a while since I've posted anything remotely informative, hasn't it? (It's been longer since I've posted anything remotely interesting... oh, who am I kidding? I've never done that!) Mostly it's because I have little to post that's worth an entire blog entry. So I thought I'd gather up the various things that wouldn't fill an entry by themselves and stick them together.

Hey, it's either that or do something productive with my evening...

The above photo, for the ornithologically challenged, is a band-tailed pigeon. A native game bird, it is significantly larger than the common city pigeon (more accurately termed a "rock dove," if any nitpicky bird enthusiasts are within earshot, or "winged rat," if you happen to own a bird feeder.) I have an older bird identification guide that describes band-tails as "shy," just starting to venture near feeders.

Someone forgot to tell the birds.

All my years growing up, we used to have - at most - three band-tails in the area. I'd hear them, or see them circling the yard, or watch them swing by the feeder briefly. For the past couple years, however, we've seen more.

How many is more?

During one visit (or, more accurately, invasion), my sister stopped counting after 30.

They're not necessarily evil birds. They're natives, after all, and they're kinda pretty in a mostly-gray way. But if city pigeons are rats with wings, these guys are full-blown pigs. They'll strip a feeder bare in under an hour, and explode into the sky at a moment's notice. (They're also not the brightest bulbs of the bird world. More than one has tried to come through the window into the living room. As in, they were perched on the sill and thought they could step inside, for no discernible reason... and the lighting conditions were all wrong for reflections to be blamed.)

My sister finally figured out a way to slow them down a bit with feeder covers, but it's still a pitched battle to keep the feeders full long enough for other birds to get a shot at the seed. With the exception of the destructive bears, they're the only things that have ever made me wish I owned a shotgun.


This is the view from Grandpa's new home. It remains to be seen whether this is permanent, or if he's going to deteriorate to the point where he needs more intensive care than this group-home setting can provide. More signs have surfaced of lingering brain damage and dementia issues, enough that sending him back to his home to live, even with 24/7 care, is looking more and more like a hazy pipe dream. He seems to be settling in okay, but the family stubbornness has taken root full force. He can no longer be coaxed into exercising; even walking a lap around the living room is out of the question. The promise of going home isn't even enough to prod him into action. On the plus side, he's eating better, and he seems to like the company, even if they do tend to keep the TV on "girl" channels whether or not any other residents are in the living room. (He's the only man in the house at this time.) I keep hoping things will finally settle down a bit, now that he's in a stable situation. So far, it's just a hope, though...


We've still been suffering a general bee shortage in the area. For all the fruit trees blossoming and flowers blooming, I should be seeing more bees. Partly to blame is the wet weather; the few bees I have seen tend to be bumblebees. They can function in cooler temperatures than other bees, evidently, due to their furry bodies and larger mass. This little buzzer, though, wasn't doing so hot on the hood of my car... but it was a great excuse to whip out the purse camera and click away. (I moved it to a better perch before I actually took the car on my planned shopping trip. We need all the pollinators we can get...)


After nearly a month of being unable to find time or enthusiasm, I've finally picked up to something close to my old reading schedule again. Had some fun finds and a few duds, but I'd missed losing myself in a book of any sort. (For reviews of recent reads, check my book review blog.) To that end, I hit Amazon a couple of weeks ago with a gift certificate I earned (via an online survey site I joined some years back... once in a while I earn enough points to justify cashing out.) Hopeless penny-pincher as I am, I managed to stretch that certificate to cover about six or seven books via used affiliates. Normally, I've had pretty good luck with them sending me items in the condition described; if anything, I've found the things I ordered come to be in better shape than expected. But this time, I found a less pleasant surprise...

Note the description on the tag, which is what I read online when I ordered. Note the area visible just below the tag. One of these things is not like the other... (And, yes, I inspected the packaging thoroughly. A waterproof envelope, well-sealed, and dry. If it had happened in shipping, it wouldn't have the staining and the color cover bleed, and it would probably affect more pages. It would also have still been damp when I opened it. Which it wasn't.)

At the library, when we're deleting old items from the catalog, we automatically chuck (or recycle) any book with any sign of water damage, let alone staining from whatever beverage did the damage. We do not resell it as a "good/very good" used book. For the price, I didn't think it was worth my while to return, but I was still dismayed enough for a less-than-positive vendor review. Needless to say, I won't be doing business with them again. (They were also the one that took the longest to get to me, though they were the closest vendor I ordered from. Go figure...)


Well, I think I've stretched that premise as far as it can be stretched. And I still have a few hours left before bed time. Guess I ought to try giving that "productivity" thing a chance after all...

Dang it...