Thursday, July 31, 2008

-- sex offenders in the neighborhood

This is kinda scary. Someone sent me a link to a website which will let you plug in your address and then view all the nearby rapists and molesters:

I combed through the map and wondered if I'd ever seen any of these people in the local supermarket. I also wondered what the story was behind their offense, like what is the difference between 4th degree rape and 1st degree rape? And "sexual offense of a minor" -- I wondered whose children were victims: their own or someone else's? And these are just the people who were caught. It's sobering.

**hey, update. Some people commented that all may not be as it seems; one forwarded a link to a This American Life episode worth listening to (see act 2).

Monday, July 28, 2008

-- sorrow at vacation ending

Vacation's over. Wasn't long enough, got ravaged by fleas, two bouts of food poisoning and nowhere near enough sleep but I would do it all again in a heartbeat if I could!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

-- sunrise over the Atlantic

Sunrise on Cocoa Beach, Florida. Not bad for a crappy cell phone camera. New goal: get a real camera.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

-- Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

I took all these with my crappy cell phone camera, but here's a tiny taste of Merritt Island:

We never got caught in rain -- turns out lots of thunderstorms fizzle out over the Banana River so even though the lightning looked pretty fierce, it never reached us. Swarms of mosquitos did though; the number of welts on my body has grown exponentially.

Merritt Island shares land with Kennedy Space Center but is run by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The wildlife refuge is heavily managed -- before the 1950s, the saltmarsh mosquito thrived there and could produce a million mosquitoes per square yard in one day (!). Engineers divided it up to control water levels and salinity and thus the mosquito. We were basically mobbed by mosquitos at dusk so I can't imagine how many there'd be if this wasn't controlled. The air would be opaque with the bodies of the biting insects.

More information about Merritt Island:

-- lunch good but signs of bad weather ahead

Lunch at the Smokehouse, a great place to eat in Cocoa Beach.
Heading out for a hike on Merritt Island but a nasty thunderstorm is heading this way.

Friday, July 25, 2008

-- tricolored heron dancing in the surf (us too)

Dan noticed a tricolor heron feeding in the surf and ran back to get his camera. Neither of us realized they frequent the sea. Here he is on Cocoa Beach, stopping for a moment. The sun was setting and the sky getting dark.

Tricolored heron dancing in the waves.

I was the assistant, carrying the larger lens (both hands, did NOT want to drop it!).

See more of Dan's pics (click on the pictures to enlarge them).

-- revenge of the sand fleas

Note to self: unwise to lie near sand dunes at night. What I thought would be a relaxing moonlit foray on the beach turned into a frenzied bloodsucking foodfest for the local sandflea population. I am now covered with 41 (I counted) big angry red welts.

*note: unaltered (crappy cell phone camera) photo.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

-- I am here, even if only in body

So I am finally here in Florida. We didn't end up taking off until 4:30am. The weather was terrible and stormy and *everyone* in the airport last night was stranded. It actually made for a cozy night as all these strangers were stuck in the one restaurant that was open and a bunch of us just started talking, deep conversations about life and philosophy. It was aweseome. I hung out with all these cool people and we exchanged business cards. It was a magical night with magical men and women. (J, you should go to your high school reunion! :)

Once I realized I was stuck for a while, I browsed the airport bookstore and picked up an interesting book: Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar -- Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes. It looked interesting.

I was a little worried on the flight as I overheard the stewardesses complaining about how exhausted the crew was, that the pilot had been up 16 hours already and this was his last flight. I was like "um, he's not going to fall asleep on us, is he?"

I barely remember the flight but the sun was rising. When we landed, it took over an hour to get the car b/c Orlando was MOBBED and shortstaffed, then I headed east for the hour drive towards the Cape. I got lost when I was nearing the condo (crappy directions). That's the only time through the whole freaking ordeal that I wanted to scream. I was on the verge of pulling over to sleep because my eyes were swinging and it was getting dangerous to drive, I was thirstier than I'd ever been in my life, my stomach was about to explode AND I was scanning the road like a madwoman for a tiny sign that said "Spanish Main" and could barely see between my blurry eyes and the blazing sun. Good times.

So, I'm here. I'm about to collapse. Sorry about the lack of a personality, my frontal lobe has turned off and all I'm capable of doing right now is breathing and sleeping.

-- at airport

So I'm in the airport now, delayed until almost 2am, cursing self for checking my luggage out of laziness so I wouldn't have to limit my toiletries to 3 ounces and now I don't have my laptop power supply. Frak. I called Dan. "You sound like you're in a cage with monkeys and parakeets," he said. "And you sound annoyed."

Heh. That was hours ago. I've already been through all five steps of the mourning process and have now accepted my fate of grime and crappy airport food.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

-- kitten is now 4 lbs

And I am packing for a long weekend in Florida... will be posting from my cell for the next few days. Just now posted last night's entry.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

-- most difficult email address ever

So I was flipping through a local magazine today when I came across an ad for Maryland personal chef Asmeret Gebregzabhair. Being a web designer who regularly consults business owners on how to be accessible to their clientèle online, I had to laugh when I saw his email address. I'm changing the @ part of the email for his privacy's sake and so spam bots do not harvest his email from my blog post but tell me this is not one damn hard to remember address:

This wins my prize for most difficult email address ever because A. it's REAL, he did not make this up, and B. there is no way anyone is going to remember it, except the guy's family because they have the same last name.

My advice is: go with easy! Easy is good, especially if it's your business contact address!

-- buying tools vs. donating a kidney

This is from an email Dan sent about his experience trying to buy some tools. It was so funny I had to post it:

So. I bought the Dewalt 12-inch miter saw and attempted to buy a Dewalt brad nailer. You can't just pick up the nailer, you have to get a ticket and then take it to the cashier, pay for it, and then they go get it for you.

When paying for it I asked the cashier, "You have this in stock, right?" Because I didn't want to pay for it only to be disappointed. "Yes, we have it," was the answer.

Well, what do you think happened? After standing around for 30 minutes, they told me they didn't have it.

So now I go back and choose another one, the Bostitch. I get the ticket, come up, and have a problem because they want me to stand in line again (the lines had become long, the place was a madhouse). I had already stood in line and it wasn't my fault they made a mistake and didn't have it... I shouldn't have to stand in line any more. It took some arguing but I got helped out at the customer service counter and didn't have to wait. But now I was pissed. Anyway I get my Bostitch and get out of there, with about 1 pound of receipts.

So I rush home and pry open the box, only to find out... it's not a brad nailer. It's a crown stapler. The box was mis-stocked, and had the number of a nailer on the side of it.

Now it's 9:30pm and the store is closed.

SO I get up the next day, and travel 30 minutes to a different Lowes, because they are managed better and it's always nicer there. Those people are nice, they understand everything instantly, but do not have the Dewalt either. But they give me a Bostitch (we open the box to check) and then I go home.

Time: 4:30pm Sunday.

I rip open the box, plug the hose into the nailer and try to nail something. Just a hissing noise, no satisfying pop. Crap. What's up?

After spending 10 minutes trying to figure out if there's a safety or something, I take it apart. Inside it's a complete mess - the piston is sideways in the cylinder. This happened before I got my hands on it.

Now I've got less than an hour left before Lowes closes, and I've spent the entire weekend trying to buy a f-ing nailer. I go back to the crappy Lowes near my house and exchange the nailer. They have one in stock, but it takes an hour for the disenfranchised, incompetent, and uncaring workers to make it all happen.

After taking my money, they forgot about me, I just stood there near the tool corral for 15 minutes expecting someone to show up. When i finally went back to the cashier, she said something to me like "so do you want me to do something?" Unreal.

This time the nailer worked. I ended up taking the next day to finish my window. But getting the nailer was like donating a kidney. Without the moral satisfaction.

No wonder he hates going into those big box stores anymore.

Monday, July 7, 2008

-- Ani DiFranco concert tonight

I was at work planning dinner in my head when I suddenly realized I had Ani DiFranco tickets -- for tonight! The entire day turned frenetic as we tried to make up for early senility by racing home to feed animals/selves before rushing out to make the long commute.

At the concert, all stress melted and I suddenly understood that if I had 6 months to live, I would just follow her around the country seeing her concerts and exploring. And I would die happy.

It's hard to explain but there is an accompanying aura of acceptance and peace at her concerts, where everyone can be themselves. Straight and gay couples looking relaxed, happy and affectionate, no one having to hide inside themselves. It's my idea of nirvana, people being nice to eachother.

Way to go, cell camera! Best blurry concert photo ever! Can't you totally see the band on stage rocking away? lol

I love the depth and strength of her lyrics, about how we should care about eachother's plight in this world, we should fight for justice and human rights. As Martin Luther King said, "The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people." Her lyrics speak of reaching out, like:
I know the biggest crime
is just to throw up your hands
say this has nothing to do with me
I just want to live as comfortably as i can
you got to look outside your eyes
you got to think outside your brain
you got to walk outside your life
to where the neighborhood changes

~Ani DiFranco, Willing to Fight

Friday, July 4, 2008

-- 4th of July in the rain

Went with some friends to see fireworks in Baltimore (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's fireworks & music shebang). It poured but we huddled under a tarp and laughed the night away. Was awesome. Happy birthday, L, you are the best.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

-- the evolution of one photograph

The evolution of one photograph, from photographer Kyle Cassidy. Brilliant. First look at the photo, look at it hard, then click to enter and see how that photo came to be.

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