Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Has Sprung!

Which in Southern California, means summer is upon us, or might as well be. And that means its time for floppy sun hat!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sweet Saturday

After a long week, I was really, really glad to be able to sleep in today. It was nice to just lie in bed, snuggling with Matt and the cat, and stare our the window at the beautiful San Diego day unfolding . . .

When we finally dragged ourselves out of bed, the mail had been delivered, including some packages I ordered from Etsy. One was a gift for someone else, but I couldn't resist getting these adorable cards for myself. I discovered the seller after reading a CityBeat article about local Etsy shops.

Cards by SparklePaw

Matt is spending tonight in LA with a buddy, but before he left we went to the zoo. It was . . . a zoo. I mean really packed. I know the weather is San Diego is pretty much always nice, but when it starts to warm up, you really see the city come alive. Because we got a late start, we parked on the street instead of circling the lot, and there was even a small line to get in. We didn't stay for long, but while we were there we saw the Malayan tigers being fed, the otters snuggling in the shade, and checked out the remodeled polar bear exhibit. It was so crowded, I didn't actually take any photos today, but here's an older one I took from the Skyfari, which we took today for a quick exit:

We stopped by the grocery store on the way home, where the butcher told me he could sell me a 10 pound bag of chicken leg quarters for $4.90. It wasn't butchered at the market, which is a downside, but it was cheap. So I took it and now I'm making chicken stock. It doesn't look like much yet, but believe me, this is going to be some pure, golden deliciousness:

Now, I'm just relaxing: drinking some Arnold Palmer and listening to Matt & Kim while sitting on the couch next to the cat, who is also relaxing, unsurprisingly.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Orange County Adventure

Today I hung out with my friends Justin and Chris. They picked me up in the afternoon and I said, "Where are we going?" And they said, "We don't know." And then suddenly, we were on the road driving to Orange County. The drive was long-ish but the music and company were good.

We went to a Fry's so Justin could look at music and Chris could look at video games and Chris warned me that I was about to enter the tackiest Fry's ever. I thought he meant that it was dirty and filled with people you'd expect to see at Wal-Mart, but what he actually meant was that the place is looked like a cheap, Roman-themed movie set. There were fake statues and columns everywhere, it was seriously odd.

Next we went to a Guitar World, where I had the odd pleasure of taking my GoGirl on its virgin voyage. The bathroom was so gross I decided to use the "feminine urination device" that I received in my stocking at Christmas to avoid contact with the toilet seat. It's seriously awesome and it makes me want to write my name in snow.

Then at Second Spin I purchased three used CDs at very reasonable prices. I'm finally checking out The Dresden Dolls and I also found an Okkervil River album. Yay, new music!

We concluded our field trip with dinner at Mi Casa, where the cheese comes with a side of taco, beans, and rice.

I had a super fun day and now I'm home snuggling with the cat. My life is pretty good.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Like Dolphins Can Swim"

Matt and I just watched the documentary, The Cove, which recently won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film.  He's generally more of a documentary fan than I am, and this was his pick. That did not stop me from being profoundly affected by it.

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I expected the film to focus on the capture and captivity of dolphins for marine mammal parks. It touches on that, but it's mostly about the slaughter of the dolphins that aren't selected for entertainment purposes. Most of the film is centered on the industry in Taiji, Japan, and the practices there are pretty horrific. I had no idea that dolphins were intentionally captured to be killed. Apparently, the fishermen sell the meat.

As a meat eater, I was careful not to let my moral outrage erupt too quickly while watching the movie. Just because I wouldn't eat dolphin doesn't mean I have the moral high ground, because I eat cow and pig and chicken and occasionally sheep. I thought maybe it was just a cultural thing. As one might expect, the film illustrates the intelligence of dolphins as a point against their utilization as food. But the film also reveals that intentional consumption of dolphin meat isn't a widespread practice in Japan. Most of the time it's sold labeled as something else. Further, the film points out that dolphin meat isn't even a healthy choice due to its high levels of mercury. It didn't take long before I agreed that eating dolphin meat, if not categorically wrong, is at least a bad decision.

So basically, this movie did exactly what a documentary should; it made me aware of something I hadn't been before. What surprised me though, was how suspenseful it was.  The fishing/whaling industry in Taiji is incredibly secretive about their practices, and the filmmakers had to put themselves in peril to get the footage of the actual slaughter. I would say it was worth it.  The scenes of the dolphins being killed are almost beyond description. The water was literally blood red, and many of the dolphins could be seen swimming after being wounded. Matt was even tempted to fast-forward past the graphic part. The disturbing nature of these images lends power to the film, the power to provoke thought, and hopefully action, in turn.

In addition to providing information and nail-biting moments, the film includes a brief but compelling personal narrative of Ric O'Barry. O'Barry is the trainer behind the 1960's television show Flipper and near the beginning of The Cove he confesses he feels partially responsible for the popularity of dolphins as attractions at marine parks. This casts his current level of activism, which involves numerous arrests, in a rather interesting and even inspiring light. His story would be a fantastic work of fiction and as truth it's even more fascinating.

I will conclude by saying that I highly recommend The Cove, and I also recommend checking out their Take Action website. I don't usually go out of my way to promote causes, but such a pointless act of cruelty really is worthy of attention. Or maybe it was just the strangely appropriate and oh-so-inspiring use of Bowie's "Heroes" at the close of the film that drove me to write this.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Save Saturday Service!

The United States Post Office is asking congress for permission to cut Saturday delivery. Now this doesn't actually bother me that much as long as they keep the offices open on Saturday (which I believe is the plan). However, I have been thinking about how very nice it is to receive actual correspondence by mail. Maybe it's because I'm currently reading Jane Austen, but I feel there is a certain romance to the hand-written (or hand printed) word and sometimes I wish I wrote more letters and cards. So I'm going to. I know sending a few letters won't actually do enough to keep the USPS delivering on Saturday, but it's still inspiration enough for me (plus, the alliteration in "save Saturday service" is nice, no?).

Here's the deal: send me your address by email and I'll send you written correspondence by mail. I'm not promising extraordinary prose or even a lengthy letter (it may be a note or a postcard) but you will get something.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Comical Catalog

So, I ordered my nephew an education toy called Snap Circuits Jr for Christmas. It uses units that snap together to create a closed circuit and teach basic concepts of electricity.  I ordered it through Amazon Marketplace from a company called American Science & Surplus.  Yesterday, I received their catalog by mail.

And it is the best catalog I have ever seen.

Seriously, this thing is so odd and funny, I have to share some of their products.  It's not just the products they sell, it's also their sense of humor. Whoever writes copy for them must really have a good time. Matt and I were reading it aloud together.

At first glance, their wares are exactly what you'd expect: microscopes, rock polishing kits, those novelty plasma globes, mugs with the periodic table on them, etc. It even makes sense that they're selling ballpoint pens in bulk (after all "surplus" in their name). But then, as you peruse the catalog, some things start to stand out. Like this little gem in the "Adult & Kid Toys" section, which was the first thing that told me this is not your average catalog:

"Squirrel Briefs: For squirrelly lawyers? No, that would be stupid." But underpants for squirrels totally makes sense, apparently. How exactly is that a toy? And what's more, what company is out there manufacturing squirrel panties?

My next find was in the Office Supplies section.  The item is way less weird but the delivery is great:

"Illegal Pads: On account of legal pads are 8-1/3" x 14" and these are your basic 8-1/2" x 11"." Like I said, this guy (or gal) is definitely having fun.

This lamp falls under the "Military Surplus" Category:

The MASH reference is great. I also like the idea that someone might be into "bunker themed decorating."

These are a little macabre, but I kind of appreciate them:

The title is incredibly punny, and I appreciate that they managed to work in the word "obfuscation" in the item description.

I'm not sure which made me laugh more, the rodent unmentionables or this stuffed horse's head:

As soon as I saw it, I thought, "Please reference The Godfather." And they did. The entry is incredibly absurd and the (potential) buyer is again left wondering why this item even exists. Further, like the squirrel briefs, this is also categorized as "Adult & Kid Toys."  It seems pretty twisted to give a kid a stuffed horse's head instead of a stuffed horse. "No Daddy, I wanted the whole pony." Tears ensue.

Is it weird that I want to order from them again just so they'll keep me on the mailing list?