January 2005

Monday, January 31, 2005

Disney Concert Hall

One of the things I was looking forward to during jury duty was taking some photos during the long lunch break.

When I parked my car on the roof of the parking structure at the corner of First and Hill, I saw the early morning sun on the concert hall and seriously thought about starting my day that way. But I was an obedient little juror and hurried along to my duties.

as always, click for large pop-up versions

I went during my two hour lunch. Though it wasn’t really that warm today, I’ll admit that this place is like a toaster oven on a sunny day.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:46 pm    

Holy Crap!

I’ve taken so many photos with my camera that it’s rolled over!

I hit photo number 10,000 today sometime downtown. Now the camera started over with file naming at DSC00001.jpg.

Yikes, that’s a lot of photos. And until today I’d saved them all. But I’m out of room and have to make more space for the good ones.

Here it is ... guess where I was.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:34 pm    

Jury Duty

This morning I reported at 7:30 AM for Jury Duty at the Los Angeles Superior Court. At 3:40 PM I departed the Mosk Court Building with a slip of paper that said that I had completed my task and was released from service for twelve consecutive months.

More on the experience later.

At the moment I need to clear off space on my hard drive, as I keep getting messages that my storage space is critically low. Must be too many blurry pictures of dolphins taking up all that room.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:42 pm    

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Whale Watch #2

I did a long blog entry with lots of great photos over at blogging.la if you wanna go see that one too. I don’t like to do cross-posts, so don’t worry, this is not the same entry.

This morning I was booked on a whale watch boat out of Redondo Beach (Redondo Sportfishing). The boat is the Voyager, the same one I went out on Monday the 17th. This was a morning trip, so the light is different and I was a little worried that it would be cold out on the water.

The air was still and the water calm (though the swells were still about three feet) and the water was spectactularly clear.

The landing didn’t send out any boats yesterday, as high winds and swells kept the whale watchers landlocked.

short-beaked common dolphins

Today was vastly different than last time, mostly because there were three other naturalists on board. The fellow who was the leader was fabulous. He had a wonderful sense of timing, giving basic information to fill the time and then giving out relevant information when we were looking at the actual creatures.

In addition to the mentor naturalists were two others. One was a woman who had huge numbers of patches and pins on her jacket, I think going back at least ten years. She had a bag with all sorts of stuff, including patches and pins that she sold on behalf of the organization and reference sheets to show the passengers.

I love the trips. I enjoy hanging out at the railing and talking to the passengers about what’s right in front of them (or maybe their camera or other travels). I still haven’t taken the microphone though. I’m not sure what’s holding me back. It’s not like I don’t know the material. I’m not afraid of speaking in front of groups. But maybe I just enjoy being down in the trenches. Well, how am I supposed to know that I prefer that until I try the microphone? Okay, next time! Promise.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:04 pm     Whale Watching

Saturday, January 29, 2005

5 Bloggers for Dinner

I found this on Stacie‘s blog and thought I’d propagate it. (Hey! She invited me!)

The goal of this exercise is to identify nine other bloggers that you would like to meet for dinner/drinks. The only caveat is that these bloggers must be strangers—you haven’t met them before. State the blogger’s name, a link to the blog, and why you would like him/her to be in attendance.

I regularly read about twenty blogs. But most are by people I know. So this’ll be tough. (Because some blogs I read are not necessarily by folks I’d like to dine with!)

1. Kevin L. Hoover - The Arcata Eye Police Log - okay, it’s not really a blog, but I read it regularly and it’s not exactly journalism. More like non-fiction poetry.

2. Tony Pierce - Busblog - because he’s a local and I think I could learn a lot about being a consistent blogger from him.

3. Aaron Logan - Loblogomy - I’m sure he’s too busy with the medical stuff, but I like his photos. Maybe he could figure out what’s wrong with the dog.

4. Brian Overton - Weirdwriter - I’d like to kick his ass for not posting more often, especially not posting about the squids washing up all over SoCal this month.

5. Cory Doctorow - BoingBoing - he’s self-published and successful and all

6. Paul Davidson - Words for My Enjoyment - it’s not so much a blog as an often updated list o’ funny things.

7. Brendan Powell Smith - The Reverend - the man behind the lego bible.

Um, I’m at a loss from there. Most of the other blogs I read regularly, I actually know the people who write them.

UPDATED: I thought of two more that I really should have included.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:41 pm    

Puppy Update: New Diagnosis

Well, poor Becky is starting really hate going to the vet.

This has been her life this week:

Tuesday morning - visit to the vet - shots, bath & nail trim
Thursday morning - visit to the vet - stay for the day, more shots, blood test
Thursday evening - visit to the vet for overnight stay & tests
Friday morning - pickup from the vet
Saturday morning - visit to the vet - more shots & blood tests

At the moment the doctor has ruled out the previously suspected Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia because she has no immune response indicators in her blood. Her ears are still swollen, though not nearly as badly as they have been earlier this week - just a little bit thicker at the base, but normal at the ends.

The vet still thinks that whatever is causing her blood in the urine and swollen ears has something to do with her blood clotting - whether immune overactivity, an allergic reaction or blood disorder.

We have her on a raft of medications - steroids, antibiotics, something for her thyroid (because one test came back with abnormal levels) and now vitamin K to help her clotting. She’s really starting to hate me. I might have to start hiding the pills in the cheese again. It’s not hard with most of the little pills, but the antibiotic is a regular sized capsule.

Here’s the latest - her ears are still very pink on the insides, but hang pretty much normally now.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:08 pm    

LA Insight - Photo Hunt

This week’s LA Insight might be in answer to the request for more photos on LA Blogs. Or maybe just a new years way to shake things up.

I’m a little late in posting because of the doggy stuff (back from the vet again, $240 poorer and still no answers), but here are some photos that I’ve taken in Los Angeles in the past year or so. Click on the thumbnails for a 350x350 pop-up of the images.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:14 am    

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Puppy Update: Diagnosis

Well, we took her back to the vet.

Dr. Jimerson thinks it’s an autoimmune disorder. The Man left Becky for some more tests and they discovered blood in her urine and they’ve also noticed small broken blood vessels in her mouth that can indicate a platelet problem.

The doctor called it Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia. Basically, her immune system is attacking her platelets. It doesn’t look like it’s a bad attack, as she shows none of the more drastic symptoms like lethargy or trouble breathing. So they’re keeping her overnight where they’ll boost her steroid levels to fight the inflammation and whatever is attacking her platelets. This web page seems to indicate that there’s a 50/50 chance that we’ll get through this and she’ll never have trouble again. We’re hoping and praying for her.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:29 pm    

Fat Eared Dog

Folks have always noticed that Becky has bat ears. If she’s looking right up at you, her ears perk straight up and look like bat ears.

Right now they’re still too heavy to do that. I’ve got a fat eared dog. A fuschia pink fat eared dog.

I took some photos this morning:

If you’re curious about some before and after, I found some similar poses from some photos from last June to compare her ears.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the vet about her blood tests and of course ask for something else to relieve her symptoms.

UPDATE: 3:35 PM - I just talked to the vet and he said that her bloodwork was normal. I told him that her ears were still HUGE and he said bring her back in. So, The Man is loading her into the car for a return visit.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:24 pm    

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Pooch under the weather

Our little Becky is experiencing some sort of massive allergic reaction. As a result of this, she’s all swelled up. Most notably her ears are swollen. I don’t mean the ear canals, I mean those floppy fur covered things - they’re thick and heavy and full of fluid.

This started early yesterday morning. She wasn’t upstairs outside the bathroom door when I got out of the shower and I called for her and she came up, she didn’t seem like herself. She made a couple of passes at the bed as if she was going to jump up (she has to get a running start), she gave up. I knelt down to check her out and pet her and immediately felt her huge eats and hot face.

I got dressed and took her right to the vet (well outside for her morning business first). After a rather long wait Dr. Jimerson over at Gateway Animal Hospital saw her and said that it was some sort of systemic allergic reaction. We don’t know what she’s allergic to, but he wanted to keep her for the day to run some tests and give her a few shots. (They also trimmed her nails and gave her a bath.) She weighed a full five pounds more than she did last summer and the doctor said it was probably all water. Now five pounds on me is uncomfortable, I can’t imagine what it’s like for a dog that usually weighs thirty pounds.

Now she’s got three different prescriptions, one for her eyes, one antibiotic for any lingering infection and a steroid to reduce her inflammation.

This morning she didn’t seem much better, her ears though better yesterday after The Man picked her up at the vet were almost back to normal but this morning they were thick and full of fluid again.

The good thing is that she’s in good spirits. She’s still peppy and responsive, eating her food as normal but drinking lots (and peeing lots).

I called the vet and he said to give the drugs more time to work. They also took some blood samples and won’t have results until tomorrow. So for now we’ll just wait and keep an eye on her.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:01 pm    

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Best Things in Life ARE Free

This little thing I found via boingboing.net is the best!

It’s a link generator for the NY Times.

I link there all the time, but of course if someone doesn’t click on the link to the story in the first week, it’s gone.

But this generator creates a non-expiring link to any story on the current NY Times!


POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:07 pm    

Monday, January 24, 2005

Chantico Review

This weekend I went up to Pasadena to exchange a gift and decided that the confluence of events meant it was time to try the new “drinking chocolate” from Starbucks known as Chantico(tm).

I got a Starbucks card charged up with $20 from some co-workers and there I was at a mall with a cafe.

But let me back up about 22 years.

When I was in college I took at trip to Spain with my high school Spanish class. When we got to Madrid, we were too early to check into our hotel. It was barely mornining (about six am) so our tour guides and chaperones took us to Plaza Mayor where we walked the quiet plaza with it’s grand arches and huge space that would later in the day be filled with throngs of touristas and Madrilenos. We rested there for an hour with our empty cameras and had churros y chocolate.

Oh, Man! The stuff was like hot pudding, thick and flavorful and of course the plainness and crunch of the churros was the perfect compliment. There was nothing like this available back in Mechanicsburg and I was in love.

When I got to college, I enjoyed a Sunday morning tradition with my live-in boyfriend at the time - a bagel and Mexican hot chocolate. We’d walk from our little two bedroom apartment (that we shared at one time with three other guys) about a half a mile through the Arcata Plaza to Los Bagels. Not only was this my first exposure to Ibarra hot chocolate (which they made the right way with milk), but also this is where I fell in love with guacamole. Yes, my Sunday breakfast was a garlic bagel with heaps of fresh guacamole and a hot chocolate.

I’ve been searching for that Spanish drinking chocolate ever since. Granted, my tastes have changed quite a bit since I was sixteen. My substitute has been hot pudding. That’s right, I make Jell-o Cook & Serve pudding and then eat it before it sets. But it’s pudding and it’s never chocolately enough for me.

Chantico comes in one size. And that’s not a bad idea. It’s only six ounces and before you go saying, “where’s my grande!” you don’t need more than six ounces.

It is smooth, hot and sweet but has a wonderful mouth feel (see the fat content on this stuff). The chocolate flavor sticks around and gives a slight dryness to it (so much so that I recommend some water with whatever you’re having).

I think it’s great. But it really is very chocolately and I think it’s best served with a pastry that’s not sweet. This is not something you’d have a pecan sweet roll with. I think a plain scone or croissant is a good compliment, and if you went with something flavored, I think I’d stick to raspberry.

So, my long search for that European-style thick drinking chocolate is over. Is this something I’ll swig like coffee? Certainly not. It’s a drink for enjoying like a dessert or maybe a full meal. Yes, I’ll go back and order it again. After all, it was a $20 Starbucks card ... I’ve got six more waiting there for me!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:30 pm    

Playwriting Update - Week Two

So, I’m doing this Dirty Thirty thing (30 days - a 90 page play) and I’m making admirable progress.

For those of you math-challenged, that’s a goal of 3 pages a day. Of course we all know that’s not how I work. Since there are four weekends of this thing (well, technically there were five, but I squandered one of them with that birthday & whale watching nonsense) I’ve calculated that I need to write 22 1/2 pages per weekend.

This past weekend I wrote 22 pages.

Not bad, eh?

I also completed, per the requirements of the challenge, an outline.

I’ve never worked from an actual written outline before. I’ve had to write them for assignments before, but what I usually do is write the whole project and then create an outline of what I’ve written.

But, I did actually write the novel, so that’s a bit of a guide.

However, stylistically, the novel and play are rather different.

So, I wrote up what I thought would be a good progression. The thing that became apparent is that I have no clue how to end this thing. I think novel endings don’t have to be as succinct or complete as play ones. Well, the ending of the NaNoWriMo version of An Alphabetical Order sucked, and I realized while working on this outline that if I’d gotten to the plotline that I wanted to cover (Maddie testifying before the Senate), I really had no clue where it was going from there.

I’m sure things will become clearer to me as I work on it more. Also, I know that there is a feedback and revision process for this challenge. So, as they say in the movies, “we’ll fix it in post.”

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:26 am    

Friday, January 21, 2005

LA Insight - Help Me Help You

This week’s LA Insight is a little different. Perhaps it’s better in an email, but I haven’t posted so it goes here. Of course I’ve taken the night to think about it.

Most Los Angeles Insight questions have to do with the activities within, or thoughts on, the city we live in. Today, I’m going to ask some questions about this site itself and I hope that you would take some time to give me some feedback. A few of us are getting together this weekend to brainstorm some new LA Blogs ideas, so some additional user input would be helpful.

As usual, copy these questions to your own blog, post the answers there and leave a comment in this thread so that we can find them. Don’t feel obligated to answer all of the questions and also be brutally honest if you have criticisms, I can take it. Thanks for participating!

1. Are there any features that you think could be added to LA Blogs?

I’d like to see profiles about each blog. I know, huge project. I seem to recall when I first signed up for LA Blogs that I had some sort of profile. It’d be neat to be able to look at what those blogs on the blogroll are about. But then again, I guess a blog is a profile too.

2. For the Digest posts, should there be more, less, the same amount of entries?
I’d say more. I like the diversity. I’d like some of the posts to be a little more recent (I noticed quite a few were from a few weeks ago).

3. Layout. Like, love it, hate it?

I don’t much care one way or the other. I like fast loading pages.

4. If you could have a FAQ question answered, what would your question be?
How do you find your excerpts for feature? Do you really read everyone’s blogs? Do you read them via RSS or do you actually visit them all?

5. Blogroll. Useful, too long, too short?
Love the blogroll. I usually visit the ones that look updated, but every once in a while I’ll go down and look at the blogs at the very bottom. They’re actually updated, but I guess they’re not pinging.

6. How could we get more readers to this site, which in turn would drive more readers to your sites?

I don’t know how many readers you have and how many more you’d like to have.

I liked the get together last year. That was a good ocassion.

7. Would an “ask LA Blogs” section be helpful? Similar to ask metafilter, but LA based.

I don’t know how many folks have questions - couldn’t it just be dealt with by folks leaving a comment or emailing you every once in a while?

8. General feedback. Do you have any?

I visit several times a day, mostly to check the blogroll for the blogs that I don’t have on my RSS aggregator.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:27 pm    

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I Should Be Writing!

Here I go again!

I should be writing. And I haven’t been.

I signed up for something called The Dirty Thirty, which is very similar to NaNoWriMo, except with this 30 day challenge you write a play or screenplay.

I know I’m violating one of the rules of NaNoWriMo, but I’m working on an adaptation for this project.

I’m adapting An Alphabetical Order as a play.

Okay, it’s not really an adaptation. I will not be referring back to the manuscript, so I think I can merely say it’s inspired by the ideas within An Alphabetical Order.

And the real point here is that it started on the 15th and I haven’t.

I know, I know.

But I am confident if I can get myself out to a coffee house (maybe on Friday night), I can bang out at least 15 pages. Oh, and an outline and first page is due on Saturday.

Ah, pressure!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:31 pm    

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I didn’t get booked to go on a boat this weekend.

The whale watch program has only two of three launches going out right now, and of course some very excited rookie whale watch naturalists. I was a little late getting to sign up and didn’t get a boat for this weekend. I did end up with the last rookie spot available for a boat the following weekend (Sunday, January 30th) out of Redondo again.

As a consolation, The Man and I are hoping to go up to Pt. Dume this weekend to just look at stuff from the shore. Maybe I’ll get some cool shots from that.

My new binoculars are fantastic. They’re Nikons - waterproof and have a full 6 degree field, so I can cover a lot of ground with them. Great optics.

I didn’t get to use the new lens over the weekend. The dolphins were plenty close to the boat for getting good shots without it. Though I fully expect to use the telephoto for whales.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:32 am     Whale Watching

Monday, January 17, 2005

Whale Watch (#1 of Many)

Here we go! The start of whale watching season for 2005.

The Pacific Gray Whales started their migration a couple of months ago from the Bering and Chukchi Seas and they’re finally making their way past southern California. The first ones were spotted passing Pt. Vicente about a month ago and they’re continuing at a pretty good pace.

Today, since the weather was nice, I got my first opportunity to go out and see the whales.

The trip started promising. Traveling towards Catalina, we had the sun in front of us, which is great for spotting blows. We left the dock at 1:30 (and returned moments later to pick up a small party that arrived late) and had the good news that the morning trip spotted one whale. On Saturday we saw a Gray Whale from the bluff in Laguna and the census has reported promising numbers.

About 40 minutes out I noticed a what seemed to be a large pod of dolphins (but they were miles off and I couldn’t be sure) so I pointed it out to the captain. We both debated whether they were feeding pelicans or dolphins and as we got closer it was obvious to both of us that we had a large pod of dolphins (we guessed Common Dolphins at that time). They were heading north and the captain pointed us towards the north to catch up with them. They were not common dolphins at all, but bottlenose dolphins, which I’ve never seen off the coast here (though they’re not, by any means rare). The dolphins were traveling in smaller groups within the large pod, usually three or more, often porpoising in synchronized sequence.

The little kids (mostly boys aged four to ten) were excited by the dolphins and how close they approached the boat, including quite a few that took to bowriding for a short periods. We spent at least a half an hour among the dolphins, with many swimming below and around the boat, some crossing in front, others far off and uninterested in interacting with us.

They didn’t seem to be feeding, just traveling. If they were feeding, there would probably be at least some birds in proximity.

After that, we turned back towards shore to do some whale searching. I spent most of my time up on the top deck looking for characteristic blows. However, as we were heading pretty close back to shore (and pretty much defeated) the captain spotted some tell-tale “fluke-prints” which are little disturbances in the surface from either a whale’s flukes as it swims under the water, or usually where the whale broke the surface last. So we slowed and turned and waited.

And here’s where it go so vexing. The creature kept making fluke-prints, it was swimming very close to the surface and must have come up for a breath or two (we watched it for almost 30 minutes), but we never saw more than the smallest part of where its blowhole was. There was tail flip, no back knuckles ... nothing. This guy was in stealth mode. Rather than sit on the creature who obviously wasn’t interested in us and of course you’re not supposed to harrass a whale, we moved on.

At the end we stopped at one of the buoy’s at the breakwater to look at the sea lions, which always pleases me.

I’m looking forward to being a bit more active in my role as docent next trip. Hopefully next weekend.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:26 pm     Whale Watching

Friday, January 14, 2005

On the Bookshelf

Sometimes I like to do quizzes.

Sometimes just answer questions.

Today this meme seemed fun:

“Copy the list from the last person in the chain, delete the names of the authors you don’t have on your home library shelves and replace them with names of authors you do have. Bold the replacements.”

1. Richard Feynman
2. Jack Finney
3. Kurt Vonnegut
4. J.R.R. Tolkien
5. Mark Twain
6. Douglas Adams
7. Stephen King
8. Pema Chodron
9. William Shakespeare
10. The Onion, et al

(This is probably easier to do when you’re at home and can actually look at your books.)

I found this on Sean Bonner, who credits Tony Pierce and down the line to annika, the cheese stands alone, a likely story, Llama Butchers, jenspeaks, Fire Ant Gazette, White Pebble, Rox Populi, Mouse Words, Philobiblon, The Little Professor, New Kid in the Hallway ... and that’s where I lost it.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:15 pm    

LA Insight - January 14, 2005

This week’s LA Insight topic is dating in LA. This is something I know positively nothing about. Not only that, I have very little dating experience, I mainly have had boyfriends (well, now I have a husband) and never really went through dating thing except for about five months in grad school (before I snagged the above-mentioned husband).

So, I’ll limit this to my observations and not my experience.

1. Best place to meet someone new?

I think online is a great place to start meeting people. I really think it levels the playing field and you concentrate more on what you have in common before you go off making judements about their clothes or shaving habits.

2. Best place to take your first date?

I think a fun restaurant that isn’t too loud and has a really diverse menu is ideal. A diner style restaurant like Fred 62 in Los Feliz or brunch at Newsroom over on Robertson is pretty good - it’s casual and I think that first dates should be. It’s stressful enough to date, don’t go throwing a lot of stuff on top of it like “what if I pick the most expensive thing on the menu?” and “I don’t have anything to wear!”

I think movies are good, but I never really cared for them as a date outing. Theatre is nice, especially because it gives you a shared topic to discuss later on over drinks or coffee.

3. Your worst first date?

I can’t think of any truly bad dates I’ve been out on.

4. Great date on a budget?

Hmm. I’d pick a weekend afternoon and go to Trader Joe’s with a crisp $10 bill and find some nice bread, a little cheese and a little fourpack of those Crystal Gyeser juice squeeze sodas. Pack them up in a little picnic thingy and go off to get the date - head up to Pt. Dume and if you’re lucky you can park up on top of the bluff and not even have to pay for parking. There’s an easy trail (in case your date didn’t dress like you suggested) and near the point there’s a little deck with benches and an awesome view. Stop here and eat. Take out the binoculars and look at the dolphins that are always off the coast or the sea lions that hang out on the rocks and buoy.

5. And a date with no $$ limit?

Personally, I think the above is a fantastic date (The Man and I do that a couple of times a year). Maybe with an unlimited budget I’d suggest a spectacular boxed lunch from Pinot or something. Or if you’re both outdoorsy and don’t get sea-sick I suggest a trip to the Channel Islands - there are half-day cruises out of Oxnard that go to Anacapa (East or West). Again, picnic lunch and there’s lots of time to talk and lots of things to talk about because you’re on a boat or a crazy island off the coast.

6. Ever been on a blind date? How did it go?


7. Your most memorable dating experience (good, bad or ugly)?

Nope, don’t really have anything to add to that.

8. Is there romance in Los Angeles?

God yes. I mean, I got married in Orange County, and I thought that was pretty damn romantic.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:12 am    

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Amazing Graphical Representation

I’m always fascinated by different representations of data.

I just spotted this article today in New Scientist: First Ever Earthquake Movie Created. Go look at the animated gif that shows the propagation of the ground slippage over 60 seconds during the 8.3 September 2003 Hokkaido quake that injured 589 people and created a 4 meter tsunami.

The scientist who synthesized this, Kristine M. Larson, deserves some hearty congrats for finding a new way to visualize existing data regarding ground slippage and how it spreads during a large quake. I’m not sure I was aware how far it could go and that it does it so fast until I saw this.

Hokkaido Quake Sliprate
click to see animated image

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:47 pm    

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Running Clear

Here’s the update. As of earlier this evening there were still two live ants left in the water level indicator. Yes, it’s Wednesday, they’ve been in there since Monday.

Now, I can’t decide whether it was better for them to die and somehow for us to be able to rinse them out of there, or for them to come out on their own.

Doesn’t matter. This evening’s bright idea was to actually dismantle the water level indicator. So, the two ants did not die from starvation, or from drowning, but between my two fingers. Hah!

Turns out that there was still one in there, but at least now we know how do deal with it. Of course after all this a bit of white vinegar goes through and then some plain water. But then, oh then we’ll be fresh grinding the beans.

Now, who wants a cup of coffee?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:43 pm    

Monday, January 10, 2005

Wit’s End

I came home to find that the ants decided that the other window was just as good. And they had ALL DAY to inundate the kitchen. I’m serious, there was not a surface that didn’t have one of those little fuckers traversing it.

So, I took the dog out and while she did her business, I set to spraying at least part of the windowsill from the outside with some “bouquet fresh” ant spray. Whatever. I’m sure it’s washed away by now in the rain.

I’ve since spent the last THREE HOURS tracking every last one of them (well,that’s what they’re leading me to believe) and killing them.

Of course I’m trying to make it into a positive. As I cleaned each one of the counters off of its appliances and general clutter, I then wiped it down, waited for the ants to come back and wiped it down again. Then I applied this fruity smelling stuff that we got called “counter gloss.” Because then I’d feel like I came out of this better for it. (Besides, we’re having people over this weekend. The place should look nice.)

The big challenge, and I debated whether to print this here or not, was that they got in the coffee maker. I’m not talking on, or around, I’m talking in. In the guts of it. Not only in the reservoir where you our the water, but for some fucktabulous reason about twenty of them crammed themselves in the little water level indicator - you know, that little tube on the side that has a little float that tells you how many cups of coffee you’re making. Somehow the little bastards got in there. Gah!

So, what am I supposed to do?

I tried washing them out, but that didn’t work (well, maybe I got two out that way). So for most of the evening I have been sitting there, smacking the little tube to make them not want to be there, then shining the flashlight into the reservoir to see if that drove one or more out ... I’ve gotten about ten that I know of that way. At the moment there are still three in there, at least that I can see.

Of course, am I really going to want to drink coffee that has had ants swimming in it?

And my hesitation to blog about it is that The Man is on his way back from Detroit as I write this. I wanted to just get it all cleaned up and put the coffee maker back and have him none the wiser for it. He’d just think that I gave it a good wiping down. Alas, I can’t do that. I’m so absorbed in the challenge of getting every damn one of them out of there, I can’t possibly keep this from him. “What did you do tonight?” “Oh, sat in my ant-blind with a sniper rifle (otherwise known as a bamboo skewer).”

Just so you know, I also debated photographing my coffee maker debacle - but I thought that just made me look too sad. That I’d get boingboinged for it, and it’s definitely not something that I’d wanna be linked for.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:48 pm    

Sumatra-Andaman Islands Earthquake and Wells in Virginia

The earthquake in Indonesia that spawned the killer tsunamis was felt on the other side of the planet as it caused wells in Virginia to oscillate only an hour after the quake first struck. The water level in the well went up and down by three feet.

The epicenter for this earthquake was 9,600 miles away from the well; seismic waves travel through the Earth at about 7,400 miles per hour. The water-level oscillations started about an hour after the earthquake and were slowly dampened out over a 5-hour period. This well is 450 feet deep, finished in limestone of the Beekmantown Formation, and water enters the well via fractures or cracks in the rock. Compression and expansion of these fractures by seismic waves cause the water to be drawn in and out of the well, similar to the way bellows work.

This also goes along with Tsunami’s Ripples, Unnoticed, Washed Along Atlantic Coast - a NY Times article that details that small ripple effects were felt in the Atlantic 32 hours after the initial quake in Sumatra.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:22 am    

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Slightly Disturbing

Okay, in an effort to find out if Target even carries umbrellas, I went on their website.

First of all, I did a search and it came up with results divided into categories (children, outdoors, women and books).

pet umbrellaSecond, one of the options was this thing ...a Pet Umbrella. I get the sense that this something you attach a small pet to, not a Husky or Retriever. But what really bugged me about this was that it was not listed in the category “pets” or “outdoor” but in “women.” I don’t think it would bug me so much if it were also found in “men” or “pets” or frankly if they’d just put it in all categories.

Of course I haven’t seen the sales stats, so maybe they’ve targeted the correct demographic for these.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:01 pm    

Not Clever Enough

I had some errands to run. Well, really just one: to Target. I waited for a lull in the rain. And it looked downright hospitable outside - temperature 60 degrees. I didn’t even take my umbrella.

Because I had a plan.

I was cocky because I thought I was clever enough to thwart the whole, “what if it starts raining again while you’re in the store?”

I was going to buy an umbrella.

I know. Me, buying an umbrella.

I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to arrive at the office dry?

First of all, Target was not cooperating in the most basic way. Their cart escalator (in Eagle Rock) was out of commission. And only one elevator was working. Normally I don’t need a cart, but on my mission I picked up what must be a fifty-five pound box of Electrasol for the dishwasher and there was no way in hell I was gonna drag that around in one of those finger-ruining baskets.

What I found out is that Target doesn’t carry umbrellas in their store. One unhelpful trainee told me that they were in accessories, but they really weren’t. Perhaps they were on dryer days, but not today.

No matter, I was confident that I could at least get home and stop somewhere else.

Nope. I got back up to the top level (after waiting for the only working elevator) and found that not only had the rain started again but that it was pouring buckets and dang windy to boot. I waited for a few minutes, but this didn’t seem to be a passing thing and I didn’t want to look wussy like the other wussies that were standing there (though I think they were more clever and had sent their sig others to fetch the car) and I ran out into the rain with my cartful of purchases.

By the time I got there and put everything into the back and successfully stashed the cart, I was soaked. Like one of those photos of cats that have fallen into the bathtub.

But I came home happy that I’d at least gotten some good deals. For $100 I got all my household thingies (garbage bags, new toothbrush, toilet paper for every bathroom, hanging folders, new pencils, etc.), I also had in tow five new pairs of pants. There was some ridiculous clearance on chinos so I bought three pairs and two pairs of jeans. Now I don’t even have to finish the laundry today!

Jiminy Christmas, the sky is at it again. Where is all this water coming from?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:48 pm    

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Ratzafracking Ants!

I went out today for a few hours (to pick up a red windbreaker for my whale-watch trip tomorrow) and when I got back to the house, I entered to find a huge mass of ants by the back door.

They were in a steady line from the door to the dogfood bowl. Grrrr.

I have to say, I fed the dog this morning and rinsed out her water dish and I saw no evidence of ants. I came back and there they were, in full force.

I wiped them up and of course scrubbed the bowls and put the mat for the bowls outside. I wiped up all the ants with a sponge. Then I put some boric acid along the door opening. Sadly, when I went back in the kitchen about an hour later, they were still plugging away, not with no particular aim because I’d taken away the one food source they had access too (the fantabulous new pantry really doesn’t allow for infestations by crawly creatures).

The second time around I cleaned them up and got out the big guns. I don’t care for using pesticides, but I also don’t like my dog shunning her food and water because of ants. I sprayed a few spots where I could see them streaming up the side of the house between the shingles, hopefully that’ll dissuade them from coming back. I checked a little while ago and saw only a few, which I think are just ones I missed when I was wiping the other ones up/out.

I wonder if it’s safe to put the dog bowls back down again?

UPDATE: 1/10/2005 - This morning I found that the ants were no longer coming in under the door. This time through the window over the sink and were just covering the new little rosemary bonsai we got for the holidays, the counters, in the sink and all over the toaster and rice cooker. Feh! I spent a half an hour cleaning them off and headed to work. Who knows that they’ll attack next?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:39 pm    

Friday, January 07, 2005

LA Insight - January 7, 2005

This is probably not a good topic for me. I know that many people really like New Years, but I find it actually a more made up holiday than Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

I like the day off and all, but really, we’re just marking the change of one revolution around the Sun. I’m not sure why that’s a big deal any more than the Moon going once around the Earth. I guess maybe that it only happens once a year is a big deal - since that’s they way we’ve designed holidays.

Anyway, I digress. So here are the questions and answers.

1. Did you make plans before last minute this year?

Boy howdy! We had plans in August. This year, as a special divergence from our usual have a few people over for New Year’s and all doze off in the living room before 11 from the rich food, The Man had a small high school reunion. We went to an Inn in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (practically took over the place) on the 30th and spent three days there.

2. What were your plans?

We had a lovely dinner at the fine restaurant on site and then retired to the parlor where we sat around reading off Trivial Pursuit questions from the 80s edition, drinking fine wine and then around midnight we held up someone’s cell phone (no TVs) for the countdown. I was in bed by 1AM.

3. Have you ever sprung for a New Year’s party at a club/restaurant? If so, where?

Well, there was the “Milennium.” That year The Man was touring the globe with Disney’s Fantasia 2000 - which was performing with a live orchestra to the film. For New Year’s they did a huge party at the Pasadena Civic where they did the film/orchestra performance (I’d seen it in NY at Carnegie Hall a few weeks earlier, and then they went on to London, Paris & Tokyo). Dinner/Movie/Party. Chicago played the party, which was very nice. The Man was of course busy with the lights but managed to sneak me into the light booth a few minutes before midnight.

Other than that (and one time when I was on a plane going back to college after break where we celebrated two changing’s of the year), I like to keep things low-key.

4. Drinking this year. In excess, in moderation, not at all?

Well, a couple of years ago I made a resolution to start drinking. It was a big deal for me, as I really had never had much to drink in my life. I’m trying to shed my abstinence ways and integrate myself a little more into society. So now I drink and swear regularly. Of course I go through long periods where I don’t drink (months at a time), so I’ve never truly developed a tolerance for the stuff and one drink can get me quite buzzed. (I’m a cheap date!) I’m looking forward to martinis this year. I’d call 2004 the year of Gin. While out to dinner with my sister I had a great lemon martini which was just lemon vodka and limoncella - a little sweeter than the typical recipe, but really packs a whallop.

5. How were you feeling New Year’s day?

We had a great time. We went to Hershey Park and Chocolate World. Say what you will about the commericialization and industrial chocolate, it was fun. It was really a good day, we had spent several days with The Man’s oldest and dearest friends (whom I consider my friends as well) and had just come off a great visit with my family and I was looking forward to leaving the next day to return to Los Angeles.

6. Rose Parade. Still interesting, played out, or a tradition that will never die?

I’m rarely interested. No TV the whole trip, so I missed it completely. I’ve always had a personal policy to avoid Pasadena from December 30th through January 2nd. One of these days I want to go look at the floats though, up close.

7. Rose Bowl. Game worth watching, or just a good excuse to rub our sunny (then) weather in the face of Michigan fans?

Snooze. I can’t say that I’ve ever actually watched a bowl game. Hell, besides a few games The Man watches each year, I have seen very little football in my lifetime. There’s a resolution for you. Less football.

8. What resolution have you made that you have no intention of keeping?

I haven’t really publicized my resolutions. Keep fit, more charity, be nicer, be firm (I have a tendency to overextend myself), don’t throw up, enjoy the things I have. (Okay, there was no order to that at all.)

As was pointed out to me by Russ, I really shouldn’t resolve to not throw up, as it’s often necessary for the body to expel things. So maybe I need to clarify that I’d like to not need to throw up, which is really a useless resolution because either you get food poisoning or stomach flu or not. We have little control over these things. Maybe I’m just saying that I won’t be bulemic, which is a silly resolution, because people who know me know that I’m probably on the low side of body-obsession. (Of course I’ve already got a hot bod, why would I have any body shame?)

Of course I regard 2004 as a crappy year. I mean, I came out of okay but there are hundreds of thousands in Asia that didn’t. My grandfather passed away. I had the worst case of bronchitis in my life that went on for two months (what a way to start 2004) and the torn intercostals lasted for eight months. Car accident. Dog freaking out. Then surgery. Long recovery. Overextended. Food poisoining.

In all of this, there were great things though: Wonderful vacation. Deeper relationships with those around me. Whalewatching class. Another novel under my belt.

So, I have high hopes for 2005. As The Man has coined it - 2005: The Year of Fun!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:23 am    

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Comet Machholz

For Christmas this year The Man gave me a new telephoto lens (1.9x) for my camera (Sony DSC-V1). This amps up my zoom to 7.6x from 4x.

The first real test of this came last night as I struggled to catch a few images of the Comet Machholz. It’s supposed to be visible (at 3.6-3.8 magnitude) during the early part of January near the Pleiades (just follow Orion’s belt pretty much straight until you hit the Seven Sisters).

The problem I had was two-fold. First, it was pretty bright out with the city lights last night. While I was able to find Orion easily, I had trouble seeing The Pleiades easily. Second, there’s no easy way to scope such a dim object with my camera. True, I’m doing this the old fashioned way - I just pointed the damn thing where I thought stuff was, fired off a shot and then checked it.

The cool part was that I actually managed to point and shoot The Pleiades dead center on the third try. Sadly, I know very little about the manual controls for my camera and just kept changing the pre-programmed settings to see which one would give me the best result. What happened was that whatever the default setting for one of the pre-sets had a nice long exposure, but I think a smidge too long, as the stars ended up as little streaks (probably because of that pesky earth rotation).

can anyone tell if there’s a comet in this photo?

I’m hoping to try again tonight and I’m praying for clear weather. At the moment there’s a lovely high-altitude haze over the city.

The other real workout for the new lens will be this weekend when I do my first whale-watching trip!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:48 pm    

Change for Good

As promoted a few days ago, I gathered up the two jars of change from the house and went to Ralph’s to pop them in the Coinstar machine to donate to charity for the tsunami relief. I chose the UNICEF Tsunami Relief fund. I think I might give some additional money to some other charities, to spread it around.

The total, as seen here amounted to:

Quarters: 143
Dimes: 272
Nickels: 183
Pennies: 624

That’s 8.62 pounds of change, if you’re keeping track. I was pretty pleased at the amount of silver in there too, which really helps amp up the value per pound.

Total Donation: $78.34 (that’s $9.09 per pound)

Things I did not donate that were in the change jar included two wheat pennies (one 1920 in pretty poor condition, a 1956 D wheat penny in good condition), five German coins totalling 165 pfennig, an old battery used for my glucometer, a barette, a Canadian penny, two Sacajawea dollars and a Susan B. Anthony dollar, and three pennies that were rejected by the counter because they were fused together with some sort of sticky substance.

As I hoped, they did not take out any fees for the donation. Unicef was the only charity listed on the system that had a specific fund for the tsunami relief, though I’m sure that the Red Cross is funnelling much of their current fundraising to the tsunami relief.

In other cool news, Viacom (and Paramount) are matching employee donations up to $500,000 dollar for dollar with money to the Red Cross. So, you might want to check with your employer to see if they have any matching donation system set up. (Viacom has also pledged $1,000,000 as well as other localized drives for donations within Asia with their networks there. They’ve also reformatted the MTV Asia Awards to be a huge relief fundraising effort in early February.)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:20 am    

Shakin’ it Up

This morning, I and probably quite a few other SoCal residents were woken by an earthquake. Not a large one, just a 4.4 about one mile north of Fontana (a city I know nothing about, except that they have an Ikea according to my latest catalog). It was not a bad quake, just a long smooth shaky thing. It woke the dog, and caused her to pace around the room until it was over (a mere 20 seconds or so). (The USGS site also showed that there were several smaller quakes in the hours and minutes before that one, which I did not feel.)

But here’s what’s cool. After quakes I usually go to the USGS quake site - Los Angeles/Caltech Seismic Net and check out where it was and how big. I try to figure where they are, based on the shaking and length and have gotten pretty good at it. I felt no P/S wave distinction, which usually says to me that it was far away, and the fact that it went on so long but not intensely said to me that it was bigger than a 4 but no more than a 4.8 or so and within 100 miles.

So I went to the site and there’s an option when you click on a quake that you can input your own details about the quake and it’ll generate a Shake Intensity Map based on eyewitness accounts. I’ve been doing this pretty faithfully for about five years (and even went back and put in my account for the Northridge quake).

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:04 am    

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During November it's all about me writing a novel. Sometimes it's about whalewatching. You know, and then there's other stuff.