Thursday, May 31, 2007


Yesterday my friend and I went to the Bronx Zoo. Wednesday is free day though they still make you get a ticket so they can get a count of visitors. I brought my camera with me but there weren't too many photo ops. Most of the animals were sacked out in the heat of the afternoon. Or else a hoard of children was in the way. Late May and June are field trip season here in New York and the zoo is a favorite spot. It made me think wistfully of the child catcher from the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie.

We did enjoy watching two male deer try to sling mud onto their backs with their antlers. Occasionally they would have a little sparring match when the older one thought the younger was getting a bit pushy. They also had fun with a large branch that was in the water, lifting it with their antlers and throwing it around. The does and fawns just hung out in the shade nibbling on cool grass. I suspect they were rolling their eyes a bit too.

One of our favorite places in the zoo is the butterfly tent. It's only open in the warm weather. It was surprisingly free of sticky ankle biters so I managed to get a few pictures in spite of the butterflies who were not too cooperative. Either they would not settle down or were shy and tried to hide behind the leaves. I needed a faster camera (Please note this fact for the Xmas season) but here are a few successful moments.

Happiness is rotting fruit.

Some of the butterflies had had a bad time and were a little ragged. But it didn't stop them from sucking up the nectar.

This one is iridescent blue on the top but he refused to leave his wings open for me.

The Monarch.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. Today many people will head out to the beach or the picnic ground. Others will surge into the local Everything-Mart to stock up on things they don't really need. That is the American Way isn't it? If it's a holiday there must be a way to make a buck out of it. But for too many this day is a bitter reminder of their loss. In 1868 General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, instituted Memorial Day. It was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Since then a great many have fallen in the service of this nation. What makes the recent losses so bitter is that they were completely unnecessary. Those men and women in Iraq are not fighting in the service of the country, they are fighting in the service of greed, ignorance, and stupidity. This administration has betrayed their trust, and ours, and sent them to die needlessly. Rather than solving a problem we have destablized the entire region and now the insurgency is being exported to Iraq's neighbors. To paraphrase Shakespeare: But if the cause be not so good, the President himself has a heavy reckoning to make: when all those legs and arms and heads blown off in battle shall join together in the latter day and cry all-"We died at such a place". I hope they follow him and all his advisors in their dreams.

But none of this can diminish the sacrifice the fallen have made. Let us take some time today to remember them. And not just the 3400 service people but all those who have fallen in war. Iraq has an unprecented number of contractors working in it. They provide all sorts of services often with much less protection than the average military unit. More than 900 have died. And as usual there are the civilians. Ordinary people struggling to survive while living in Hell. An estimated 65,000 have lost the struggle. Let us have a moment of silence for them all and let us send out into the universe a fervent wish for peace.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Yesterday I was at Lady Epiphany's for Lindsay's first birthday party. There was quite a crowd. We ate and drank and Alec grilled an enormous amount of meat. Good times. I brought the dessert. I made a cake and also some cupcakes since they were expecting 30 people. I did not want anyone to go without but in the end not everyone had dessert. (There were some odd people at this party.) Having a reputation to uphold, I did my best to make a good cake and I think it turned out well. It was a sponge cake with banana pudding filling and chocolate frosting. The cupcakes were also filled with pudding. I've never tried this before but I believe they were a success. Lars seemed particularly taken with the pudding. He ate the top off his cupcake and licked out all the pudding leaving a sad empty cupcake behind.

After all the crazy people (read relatives) were gone the rest of us sat around, did a little picking at food, and had a small betting pool on the Preakness. We did not manage to pick the winner. This may have been due to our post-prandial stupor obstructing our mental processes. (The lesson here is always go to the OTB with a clear head and an empty stomach.) We have left our bets in place and will roll them over into the Belmont.

All in all a good day, despite the slight drizzle and the aforementioned relatives. Lindsay crawled away with some nice new clothes and a soft book that has a fluffy chick on the cover. Hamburger buns, banana pudding, fluffy chicks and lots and lots of love. What more could you want for your first birthday?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

I hope all you moms out there had a very happy mother's day and that the wreckage from breakfast-making was cleared up before you had to see it.

I have many moms in my life these days. My cousins, my sister, my friends - all moms. My own mom died when I was seven years old. I don't remember her very well. Little snippets of time, images and ideas mostly. When you're little your parents aren't people, they're parents, kind of two-dimensional, like characters in a dime store novel. When you get older you get to know them better, see them as real people. I've always been a little sad that I didn't get to know my mom that way and to see some of myself in her. My sister says that our mom valued harmony between people. I got that from her. I think I would have liked her a lot.

After my mom died my sister and I went to live with my father's first cousin and her husband. (I usually call them my aunt and uncle because first cousin once removed is too much of a mouthful and usually requires a chart for people to understand.) We lucked out. They took us in as if that's what they'd been wanting their whole life even though they were about to get all of their own kids out of the house. One minute your youngest is going to college and the next you've got this eight year old leaving her toys around the house. But we never felt less than welcome and sometimes I think they would forget we weren't their own kids.

On mother's day I call my aunt. Though I have never thought of her as my mother she did the job and I will be forever grateful.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Why Commit?

Have you heard about Felxpetz? It's a dog rental company. I kid you not. You can rent a dog by the day. This is how it works, according to their site.


We aim to keep the FLEXPETZ program simple so that our members and dogs can get as much time in together! Start by enrolling for your FLEXPETZ membership; once activated, your FLEXPETZ membership is ready to go and you can begin using our online reservation system.

Our online reservation system makes it easy to plan your "doggy time". Choose your location to view the dogs available on your chosen date(s). On the day, go and pick up your dog - or choose to use the FLEXPETZ shuttle service to deliver and/or collect you FLEXPETZ dog to/from your home or office.

FLEXPETZ provides our members with local access to a variety of dogs, all of whom are rescues or rehomed, lovable and fully trained. FLEXPETZ members can spend from just a few hours to a number of days with each of our dogs. FLEXPETZ dogs are available in varied breed sizes to ensure compatibility with our member's individual lifestyles and unique circumstances. Local drop-off and collection to your home or office is available in some locations.

And here’s another great FLEXPETZ feature: your FLEXPETZ membership is valid at any FLEXPETZ location. Just imagine visiting New York, Chicago, Paris or London and strolling through the city and parks with a FLEXPETZ dog!

This does not come cheap. You have to pay a registration fee of $150, a yearly fee of $99.95 and then a monthly fee of $39.95. You also pay per day of rental. $19.95 for a weekday and $29.95 on a weekend. If you keep your dog past the end of your reservation you pay a $75 late fee.

Is it just me or is it really odd? Kind of like a doggy escort service? It seems to me that the whole point of having a pet is that he or she becomes part of your life. Someone to welcome you when you come home, to leave hair on your favorite chair, to clean up the food your kids spill on the floor, to wake you with a sloppy kiss, and someone to hug when you've had a really crappy day.

Parents, I know what you're thinking. What about Flexkidz? Instead of committing to a lifelong relationship with some knee biter you could have just rented for the occasional day. But now that you have them you may as well get them to earn their keep. You might not be able to get quite as much for your kid as they do for a dog but every little bit counts.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Scary Scary World

I stole this from here. I had to. It's terrifying. I must pass it on.

Overheard in Brooklyn

A couple is on the train, filling out some kind of application.

Dude: Okay, what's it say here? Race? Why the fuck I gotta put down that I have a race? I'm not black.

Chick: That's just stupid. Why would they want you to put that?

Dude: Yeah! This is some stupid shit. They want me to put down that I'm black, and I'm not. What the fuck?

Chick: You know what? Leave it blank. And if they ask you, tell them that you don't have any race in you. They can't ask about that kind of shit anyway.


Have you heard? Some conservatives are ready to embrace Darwin and his theory of evolution. Apparently natural selection and survival of the fittest provide support for various conservative policies including traditional roles for men and women, the free-market economy, and deregulation. In other words, if you're the strongest (or richest) you get to lead and if you fall behind the herd you are going to get eaten. It's quite possible that one could also use this argument in favor of the younger more fabulous second (or third) wife. Of course you could also use it to excuse scarfing down an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's: the body just naturally wants to add fat, just in case food becomes scarce.

Like many justifications these use only the points that suit them. It's true that in many parts of the animal world the males lead. But not everywhere. Elephants are matriarchal, lionesses do the hunting and we all know what happens to the male black widow spider. As for the traditional family, nature is full of rampant infanticide, polygamous relationships, and absentee fathers.

But this argument fits in perfectly with the recent trend of reductionism. Everything from disease to ethics to faith has been looked at from an evolutionary perspective. Is there a survival advantage to having a belief in deity? Or is it just a by product of some other successful mutation? We've also been reducing our own minds. Tests show that by the time your conscious mind has decided to move your arm your unconscious is already causing the needed brain cells to fire. In other words you are being controlled by your brain. Right. If my brain isn't me, who is it? Does my brain have a mind of its own? Is it in there now, plotting my overthrow?

I understand curiosity but I don't understand this need to reduce ourselves to electro-chemical reactions. Do we believe that it will make it easier to control ourselves? If we know what neurons are firing we can change behavior as well as avert disease? Can we get rid of crime with genetic engineering and some happy pills? I've always been an agnostic but I find myself agreeing with the religious set - some people are just evil and tinkering with the foundations of life is not going to change that. I don't know why one would want to see oneself as no more than a series of electro-chemical reactions but I prefer to believe that there is more to us than that, that we are more than just the sum of our parts.