Wednesday, December 31, 2008

a year in review: 2008 by the numbers

I've never been that into new year's festivities. More and more I am feeling that no particular calendar day is inherently different from any other (it's what you do with the days that matters). I like to think that time doesn't exist (though I can't completely deny that it does, for us, in our sphere), and I have a friend who insists that it is cylindrical. I don't quite get it, either. What I am trying to say is that the difference between December 31 and January 1, between 2008 and 2009, is artificial, but it is there, so I can't help but take a moment to reflect on the past year. It was kind of a big one, by some accounts. Let's have a look, shall we?

skylark's 2008, by the numbers

4 hours writing for the specialty exam
96 pages in the completed thesis
1 diploma
2 weddings
3 solo trips to salt lake
2.5 moves
142 job applications
1 job offer
137 train rides (estimated)
1.5 heartbreaks
6 reunions with old friends

Wherever you may be, happy new day. Well alright, happy new year, too!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

roots and wings

[columbia, md. 25 dec 2008]

Here I am in my childhood home:
walls and roof, trees and sky.

Happy Holidays & Happy Skywatch Friday!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

and the boxcar goes to...

Thanks to all of you who participated in the first ever etxerantz balderdash contest. It was fun to see what you came up with, and many of your answers made me laugh. Out loud. Repeatedly. In a manner that might have been embarrassing had anyone been around to hear it.

It was not easy to choose the winners. But I said that I would, so here we go:

First of all, a bonus point goes to Kim for cross-bread. I don't know about you, but whenever I go to the grocery store I see a number of products that easily fall into the category of cross-breads. Sprouted wheat sourdough with flaxseed, anyone?

Honorable mention goes to Mac for his definition of mysteriopus
/mi steeree ō'pəss/ n - a large cat-like carnivorous dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period whose method of hunting involved spreading mud on the upper part of its face and around its eyes in order to paralyze its prey with suspense. [etymology 'unknown']

Honorable mention goes to Vanessa for both of her entries. Although I had to disqualify mysteri.opus on the grounds that it was not a clearly circumscribed definition, it deserves comment because (1) the film in question might be a good example of a mysteriopus, as Vanessa implies (i.e., a work—in this case, a film—focusing on a mystery), (2) that scene always makes me laugh, and (3) it was uncannily appropriate in light of the fact that when I saw Vanessa's answers I happened to have just finished reading And Then There Were None, which continually made me think of—and want to watch—the movie Clue. 

Vanessa's second definition:
lanudary=wool milk
kind of makes me gag, but it was too charmingly nerdy in its etymological literalness to ignore.

First prize goes to Claire for her definition of mysteriopus:
a many legged (and therefore footed) creature whose leg count has yet to be determined by science.The centipede and millipede look practically footless in comparison.

And the grand prize goes to FoxyJ for her definition of lanudary:
what happens when you need to do laundry but have no clean clothes to wear while doing it; hopefully this doesn't happen in a public place.

The winners do not really get boxcars. Sorry. I know that would be cool. Mostly I picked that word because I like it and it sounds a little like Oscar. FoxyJ wins a Librarian Action Figure with Amazing Push-button Shushing Action (not in its original packaging, but like new. includes stack of accessory books and trading card). Claire wins the pleasure of my company in Toronto, probably sometime in March. Okay, so that was going to happen anyway. I'll bring some other prize, too. I don't know what yet, so it'll be a sur-prize. You honorable mentionees, well, you win all the glory that comes with being mentioned honorably on my blog. 

Thanks for playing, everyone, and Merry Christmas! Look out for the dangers of public lanudary and lurking mysteriopuses.

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the edifice
not a creature was stirring, not even a mysteriopus...

Monday, December 22, 2008

at least there's no awful music like when they put you on hold on the phone

Hi. I'm at the airport. 

I have been at the airport for about five hours. 

And boy lemme tell ya, you may not think that standing and waiting in a ridiculously long line would require a lot of energy expenditure, but add to that another unbelievably long line, a couple of shorter, nearly motionless lines, and in the first place an absurd little line waiting to board the airport shuttle at the train station (I really don't know what that was about. Seven or eight of us, all lined up, waiting for the waiting bus to, well, I don't know really, open its doors and then close them—a little bus driver humor, perhaps? haha, just kidding! teeheehee—and then open them again and finally let us on—okay, really, i was just teasing. no hard feelings?) and you have yourself rather an exhausting afternoon.

Anyway. I finally sat down with an overpriced pizza (though, come to think of it, airport prices aren't too far off from normal California prices, and it's yummy so it's cool) and, free wi-fi! Cool, right? Okay so I guess it's not all that novel, but it's the first time I have come across it. Maybe that has something to do with most of my flights during the last several years having departed from Salt Lake. Oh, I miss that airport today. However. The last time I checked, SLC International did not offer free wi-fi. So, for the moment, I win.

Summary: Arrived at the airport. Lines are horrendous. I've never met such a long, slow-moving line in my life. Except maybe at Disneyland. Left curbside line to check out line inside. Worse. Went back outside. Flight delayed. Thought I might make it. Kept waiting in line. Started to rain. Kept waiting. Finally reached the front of the line. Flight status: boarding. Me (mildly frantic—well, inasmuch as I ever become frantic): Do you think I can make it?? Skyhop (with no apparent sense of urgency, almost drawling): Well, I don't know, I can't really say... I'll do my best with your bag, but I don't know if you'll make it on the plane or not... Checked my bag (I wasn't really thinking). Ran to the security line. Stopped to wait in line. Look right: flight status: departed. Back to the line (opted for the indoor line this time). More standing. More waiting. Rescheduled my flights.

Now I'm off to board a plane to Phoenix, and in the morning I'll leave Phoenix for Baltimore. If it all works out I'll be there less than 24 hours behind schedule! Yeah. Oh, and I get to see Julie. Bonus!

Cheers from SJC! (Yes, as a matter of fact, I do know the way to San José.)

PS. You are, I am sure, anxiously awaiting the results of the balderdash contest. And I will announce them tomorrow, once I have safely arrived in Merryland and will have no need to navigate another airport. For a few days, anyway.

Friday, December 19, 2008

balderdash: a call for definitions

Today in my various readings I ran across a couple of curious typos. Typographical errors are not always interesting (and surely to normal people they are never interesting), but these two in particular got me thinking that perhaps a stray keystroke or a moment of slipped typing rhythm can in fact become a felicitous vehicle for a neologism. That's right, careless typing can create new words. The question is, what might such new words mean? How shall we use them?

I hereby issue a call for definitions of the following words:


Please offer a definition of one or both words in the comments section. The composer of the best responses will win a prize! Answers will be judged on creativity, plausibility, laughability, and howmuchilikeitability. Bonus points if you make a typo that results in a new word of the ilk of mysteriopus or lanudary. But it doesn't count if you do it on purpose. Ready, set, go!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

why so blue? a monochromatic study

[lawton st & 22nd ave, san francisco]

Yes, that's really the Sunset district. Yes, it's usually very foggy in that part of the city. Yes, Sunday lived up to its name. Yes, I take my camera everywhere. And yes, I am going to recommend that you check out Skywatch for more atmospheric views. And if you have your own blog, you are encouraged to participate! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

nocturne without naiad, or, why am i still up?

I have been fighting sleep, staying up far later than I ought to, many nights during the last few weeks. Trying to stay on top of all the things I want to read (Google Reader is deceptively simplifying) and all the things I want to hear (surely I've mentioned my NPR podcast problem). And I have so many things that I want to write, and now, but the trouble is that I'm so tired that I can't manage to complete but a few of the half-thoughts that I have scribbled in a score of draft posts. But my reading list is not what is keeping me up. That's just a convenient excuse, I think.

Then what is it, you ask? Well, I have a theory, and it is that somehow, just below the surface of consciousness, my person is wholly convinced that, being as it is mid-December, I simply ought to be undersleeping and overintellectualizing. That's just what I do at this time of year, right?

This is the first autumn that I am not a full-time student since, well, since I started going to school twenty years ago. Twenty years! Okay, okay, so nursery school wasn't really that intense. But I think it can be argued that five consecutive years at university could have sufficiently conditioned my mind and body to expect the reeling, brilliant, sickening, prolific, anxious, exhausting, bizarrely beautiful stop-motion speeding chaos that is the closing phase of a school term.

Many of my friends are currently in grad school, and several of them have recently on their blogs discussed their sentiments or at least mentioned their frustrations as they struggle to tie up the ends of the semester or quarter. The general consensus is that they hate it. Of course they hate it in the moment; we all do. The way you feel when the clock is tick-tocking-telling you that you have twelve hours to write twelve more pages, and you can't figure out what you're trying to say, and oh NO what if, what if you don't finish on time? what if you fall asleep... that sounds nice... but you must finish! you can't go to sleep! not yet and you pour another tall glass of Diet Coke with Lime, no, Mountain Dew this round, and scrape another lemon bar from the pan, gooey sticky sweet and almost gone and you bring one to Claire, too, and it makes you feel ill, you've already had too many, but at the same time it is strangely consoling and the sugar should give you some energy at least, and you're back to the page and Sufjan is singing this time of year you always disappear and you think if i can just get this done and turned in then maybe i can squeeze in a nap before the next one and it's AWFUL! But don't you see? It's some sort of crazy wonderful, too. Sweetened at the end, of course, when you finish everything and slip the last paper under your professor's door and you feel like maybe you've accomplished something meaningful and now you can finally put your weary, frazzled little self to bed.

What's that you say? Do I miss it? Now why would you say that?

(I didn't think that it would happen so soon.)

Good night. Good morning. (It's all the same at this time of year, anyway.) And if you're still writing papers or preparing for exams, good luck and take cheer. Odds are I'll be right back there with you, sooner or later.

Monday, December 15, 2008

my new favorite architect, or, why i should start practicing german again

It all started with this posting on Google Sightseeing: an aerial photo of what turned out to be my new favorite building. (Come to think of it, I'm not sure that I had a favorite building before. But I do now.) The roof takes an unusual shape: a long, curving incline; and it also happens to be green, planted with maple, beech, and lime trees. That's cool enough, and it also explains the building's name, Waldspirale: Wald is German for forest; spirale, as you will have guessed, refers to the spiral shape.

But then! Then I saw this:

(click photo to link to original flickr source)

What splendid craft! What controlled exuberance! What a glorious use of color! Is it...? Could it be...? I think I'm in love.

Waldspirale is an apartment building in Darmstadt, Germany, and for its design we may thank the late Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser. No, I'm not making that up. Friedrich Stowasser was born in Vienna on this day in 1928, and he adopted a rather more colorful moniker, which translates (rather clunkily) into English as Peace-empire Rainy-day Dark-colored Hundred-water.

Here's another sample of the prolific artist's work:

(click photo to link to original flickr source)

That's the Hundertwasserhaus in Plochingen, Germany. It's not my new favorite, but it certainly has its merits. (Does it remind anyone else of the Spanish missions in California?)

So. If I suddenly take off and move to Germany, you'll have a pretty good idea as to where to find me.

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Herr Hundertwasser. Sie lebt noch, im seiner Kunst. Danke.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

a year ago today

I was in Arizona. I stood in the glorious desert sunshine outside the temple, and from within its doors emerged the newlyweds. My best friend and her husband were positively radiant. It was a joyous occasion for them and for the many people who love them. It was also a moment of catharsis for me. I can't really explain it—or at least, I don't want to here—but needless to say, I was more than a wee bit emotional. All I have to say is that it's a good thing my mascara was waterproof.

A year later, she has finished her master's degree and he is halfway through his; together they have survived a Chicago winter and now they are braving the season in Toronto. (I guess love keeps you warm.) And I miss them terribly.

Happy Anniversary, Claire and Joseph. May you share infinitely more happinesses in the years to come.


Friday, December 12, 2008

an observation, a complaint, a question, and an ellipsis

It has been a week since my centennial post on etxerantz.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time preparing it, and not one person —not even a non-person spamming robot— commented on it! (Therefore, I feel kind of ridiculous.)

Is it just that I did such a thorough job on it that there was nothing left unsaid?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

skywatch friday, week 18

[from the archives: provo, utah, october 2007]

Behold my beloved cottonwoods,
undressing in preparation for winter,
outside my last apartment in Utah.

without major incident

...but not without a minor one, today for the first time I biked to work. There was a bit of stumbling while crossing the six lanes of El Camino (notice how I make myself feel better by using passive voice?) but overall it worked out very nicely. In fact, it felt great. I haven't quite figured out how all the different speeds work, but at least I can feel cool saying that I have twenty-one of them. And while three and a half miles sounds like very little, I'm pretty sure I'll be worn out by the time I finish the second three-and-a-half home tonight. A healthy, keeping-the-air-clean, making-my-muscles-work, i'm-ready-for-bed-now sort of worn out.

And now, it's flashback time: for me, back to my college German classes when one of my favorite teachers introduced me to Die Prinzen; for some of you, perhaps, back to the early nineties when you secretly wanted to be a groupie for this punked-out German a cappella group. Come on, admit it.

Die Prinzen: "Mein Fahrrad" (My Bicycle)

And by the way, my sister is awesome. This is true for many reasons, but here I point out particularly the fact that mein Fahrrad is actually hers, on super-extended loan until I figure out what I want and save up the cash to buy it. Cool, right?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

i'm from barcelona

No, I'm not really from Barcelona. 

But then again, neither are the musicians who call themselves I'm From Barcelona

They're from Sweden. And they're delightful. 

I first heard the track, "Headphones," on this episode of All Songs Considered (let it be known that I am a hopeless NPR podcast junkie), and since then I've caught a few more of their tunes (because they're catchy, get it?) from pandora and from the band's website. Not the most intellectually challenging music, sure, but it is bright and cheerful, and sometimes that's all you need from a song. 

Here's the official video for "We're from Barcelona:" 

Monday, December 8, 2008

what's in a name? have a taste and see

Sometimes my brain does very odd things with words. I am not referring to the mildly bizarre, yet simple, word associations like grateful --> full of graters or confusions like did he die in the fire --> upgrade to papaya which, though perhaps surprising, are nevertheless logically traceable in morphological and/or phonetic terms.

No, no, here I am thinking of an even weirder phenomenon.

Exhibit A: Lenscrafters.

Remember Lenscrafters? Sure, they're still around. These days they don't seem to be advertising much, though, at least not like they were a couple of decades ago. Recognize this?

There is really no reason that this ad should be memorable. It's not funny; it's not clever; it's not aesthetically pleasing; it has no catchy theme music. The 3-D graphics--the lab dropping into the store--were pretty cool for their time, I guess, but not spectacular. The apparently 80s fashion may be amusing now, but it's not really all that glaring and, in the 80s, it wasn't really strange.

Nothing, indeed, makes this commercial memorable except that, for me, it conjures up crackers. That seems simple enough, given the visual and aural similarities between the words crafters and crackers. But it's not that simple, I tell you. This unassuming, and really rather boring, commercial, creates for me the impression of a very specific taste. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but it has always been the same, ever since I first saw the ad as a very young child. The best description that I can formulate at the moment is like a sort of stale Saltine cracker that is not very salty and slightly sweet besides.

Seriously. Where does that come from?

Exhibit B: Whitney

Here is another one. It is similar to Exhibit A both in effect and in duration: I can remember experiencing both phenomena since I was about five years old.

However, Exhibit B is, as I see it, far more inexplicable.

I'll keep this compact and posit just the question:

Why should the name Whitney make me think of, and nearly experience, the fragrant, sweet, just slightly tangy taste of vanilla yogurt, specifically the Yoplait variety?


Does this happen to anyone else?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

for the 21st-century nomad

The N55 Walking House is a compact, solar- and wind-powered "modular living system" that can walk across any terrain. The idea is to allow people--and their homes--to escape rising flood waters. (Found via WebEcoist.)

Anybody else think of Howl's Moving Castle?

Friday, December 5, 2008

ten times ten and seven times seven

This is my one-hundredth post on Etxerantz.

As it happens, never in the first ninety-nine posts did I mention where the name etxerantz comes from. It is a Basque word, etxe meaning "house" or "home," -rantz being the directive case suffix (itself a compound of the allative -ra, "(going) to," and the destinitive -rentzat, "for"), indicating "toward." Hence the full title, Etxerantz - Toward Home. Now you know: both where the name comes from, and how nerdy I am. But you probably had a pretty good idea of the latter already.

I wanted to do something special to commemorate my hundredth post. Like it or not, I am conditioned to measure accomplishments in numbers. And the number 100, in our base-ten society and double-is-better culture (like it or not), is kind of a big deal. My first blog topped out at 55 posts before I retired it; interestingly, the next one ended up with exactly 55 posts as well. (In its defense, it was meant to be short-lived, documenting only my five-week stay in Peru.) My photo blog is marching steadily toward its centennial, but, being very young still, shan't celebrate the big three digits until February. Having reached one hundred posts here helps me to be optimistic about the future of this writing space. I hope to celebrate with you many hundreds more.

Let's do one thing at a time, though, shall we? The task at hand is, or at least my desire was, to write a special commemorative centennial post. However, I did not come up with anything meaningfully worthy of such a weighty calling, and rather than spend more time brooding over it, thus unnecessarily delaying the next etxerantz installment--who really cares that it's the one immediately following the ninety-ninth, anyway?--I opted to post something that has nothing to do with the number 100 (though number 3 under the second category comes pretty close).

That said, one might be surprised by how much time and energy I managed to put into what one might have expected to be something of a throwaway blog post. Ah, but I take these silly lists seriously, you see. I'm doing my duty here (not that I don't enjoy it): I was tagged, after all. And I liked Vanessa's variation on the sevens theme. That was a lot of v's. Here's my own slightly modified edition:

7 Things I Can Do:
1. ride a bike
2. write
3. host a slumber party
4. surprise people by speaking Spanish when they least expect it
5. get lost in strange cities (and enjoy the experience thoroughly)
6. play the oboe (and English horn, when I can get my hands on one)
7. cartwheels

7 Things I Cannot Do:
1. speed-read
2. fly a plane
3. control the size of my netflix queue
4. fall asleep with cold feet
5. understand everything
6. ski
7. survive without water

7 Favorite Foods:
1. lomo saltado
2. tacos al pastor
3. tofu
4. pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream
5. costa pork salad
6. snow day black bean soup (it's kind of a family recipe)
7. chocolate (pretty much any variety, but especially the hot, drinkable kind)

7 Books I am Currently Reading (or at least intending to read in the near future)
1. The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
2. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
3. Casi una mujer by Esmeralda Santiago
4. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
5. Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
6. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
7. A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters

7 Songs That I am Currently Listening to Obsessively *Note: if you follow no other link on this page, you really ought to click on the one labeled "Elephants on Parade." you won't regret it.*
1. Headphones by I'm From Barcelona
2. Airport Surroundings by Loney, Dear
3. Face to Face on High Places by School of Seven Bells
4. To Cure a Weakling Child + Boy/Girl Song by Adem
5. Mirando by Ratatat
6. Elephants on Parade by Podington Bear
7. Incubator by A.R.S.

7 Favorite Words:
1. cacophony
2. luciérnaga (Spanish for firefly)
3. Flugzeug (German for airplane, literally "flying stuff")
4. ma'muaang (my best shot at transliteration. Thai for "mango")
5. matzaqik (Maya K'iche', said at parting and roughly equivalent to "take care;" literally "don't fall")
6. q'omer (Quechua for green. the sound transcribed q' might be my favorite phoneme.)
7. sassafras

7 Travel Destinations Currently High on my Wishlist:
1. Toronto
2. Bolivia
3. Chile
4. Lassen Volcanic Park
5. Iceland
6. Berlin
7. Australia (all of it. yes, I know it's a whole continent. could take a while to save up enough vacation time.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

skywatch friday, week 17

[22nd st at indiana, san francisco]

Thanksgiving day:
silhouetted stubby claw trees (not their scientific name)
reaching toward wintry grey clouds over the city.

See more at Skywatch!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the sound of an old friend's voice

(Sometimes it is just the music a soul needs to get up and dance again.)

A week ago today this fair city where I live was graced with the presence of a fine young man, indeed.

I met naB'is nearly three years ago. We were in a foreign language class together. He reached out to me in friendship and turned my world upside down. I fell in love with his eyes. I am convinced that their singular color is directly related to the unique way in which they see. naB'is and I never became very close friends, but we exchanged enough fumbling human poetry to establish a connection that remains intact. We ended up in another class together several months after our first meeting, and from time to time we ran into each other on campus. It was always such a joy to see him, even if it was only for a moment, just long enough to say hello and nice to see you. He used to wear this purple t-shirt, not really all that often, but enough that now, anytime I see a young man with blonde hair and donning a t-shirt of a violet hue, I immediately think of naB'is. It's a reflex.

Last week, naB'is and his best friend were in town. I hadn't seen him in probably a year, at least, and I had never met her. It was wonderfully refreshing to spend the evening with them. We attended a discussion with a handful of other bright souls, shared bits of our stories. We played Apples to Apples (I lost to everyone, including the dummy hand). We had a slumber party at my house. We didn't build a fort. My morning walk to the train station, always solo and sometimes lonely, was last Wednesday transformed by the warm, cheerful company of this delightful pair as they headed out on the next segment of their adventure. How fortunate I am to be able to call them my friends.

Last night I called up a friend of mine whom I haven't seen for over six months. We ended up talking for over two hours. Two hours. I'm not typically super chatty, and even my long phonecalls tend to top out at just under an hour. We talked about graduate schools and bicycles, Cuba and Bolivia, films and foam. Nothing terribly deep, but how lovely it was to hear his voice. This friend and I, we met over three years ago, and we were very close for a time. Now, we live in different states, and we don't see each other anymore. We don't talk very often, either. We go about our own separate lives, but not in ignorance of one another. We remain connected, even if it is on a level perhaps more superficial than I ever wanted to admit before. Whenever one of us happens to pass through the other's neighborhood, we will celebrate a momentary reunion. I will offer him shelter for the night, and I will always be his friend. That has already been decided, long ago, perhaps longer than I even know, and I believe that nothing will change that.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been stubbornly independent. As I grow closer (sometimes unwillingly) to becoming a grown-up, I am learning more and more that I need other people, that I must (often painfully) learn to rely on them. I used to hate to admit it, but now I know that it must be this way. What sense would there be in our being here together, the whole lot of us who (whether we like it or not) share this planet Earth, if we were not meant to be together? not merely to coexist, side-by-side in our separate bubbles, but rather to live together, to share our experiences and not only our globe, to allow our Daseins to overlap and to become entangled one with another, and to stop believing once and for all that they are ours and ours alone.

My friends, I love you. Thank you for being my friends, for being with me in this big, crazy, magical, terrible, glorious place that we are calling home.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

on the n-judah inbound (tableaux from a solitary weekend, 3 of 3)

Gazing through the window of the light rail car as we clickety-clack along the rails on Judah and Irving streets, I spy:
a little girl in a stroller, daddy walking behind her. they are wearing almost-matching hoodies. daddy's has horizontal stripes in turquoise and charcoal grey; the stripes on baby's are turquoise and white.

a black and white cat sitting on a windowsill, calmly licking its paws.

on a building face: surreal you hair design.

on a garage door: sortie de voitures / défense de stationner.
The car filled up at the last stop; now my eyes are entertained by the sights on this side of the window, and my thoughts turn to what my eyes cannot see.
What is in your little Wishbone shopping bag, woman with large rocks on your finger and consternation on your face?

What did you pack in your backpack today, earbud-wearing young man leaning on the doors?

And you, old man with a cottony white Santa-Claus beard, what do you carry in the pockets of your cargo shorts?
Perhaps those packages hide nothing very interesting, anyway. It is the baggage that we keep bundled up inside ourselves that makes us who we are, that alternately makes us suffer and allows us to experience joy, that colors our thoughts and informs our actions, that motivates our desires and, sometimes, is revealed when we share our love one with another.

So, what are your feet dragging along with them inside those chocolate-brown canvas shoes that you have tied up so tight?

What makes your feet bounce when you walk?

Why do you dance?

How do you dance?

on the way to san francisco on a sunday morning (tableaux from a solitary weekend, 2 of 3)

I was wearing the same skirt that I have on today. He was wearing pants of nearly the same color. I taught him the word sequin.

I left home later than usual today and had to run the last block and a half to catch the train. These aren't exactly running shoes on my feet this morning. The train is nearly empty when I board, which is not terribly unusual for a Sunday, at least not for a non-game-day Sunday. I sit down by myself, which is not at all unusual. I am used to having an empty seat next to me. But today it is different. Today it is not empty. Today it is full of loss.

Seven Sundays ago, I found myself, as I usually do, on the train to San Francisco on a sunny morning. That Sunday was different, though. That day I found next to me not an empty seat but a smiling face, a musical voice, a bright intellect, a beautiful, if enigmatic, soul. Cheerful conversation and warm company took the place of what can sometimes be a tedious hour-long train ride. The excitement of a new friendship and hope in the beginning of something great accompanied me for the rest of the day.

Now, all those things are gone, and today, here on the train, I feel the sting of loss. The warmth and excitement lasted for a while; the mystery and fascination only grew over time. But desires clashed one with another one too many times, and finally the hope was broken beyond repair.

I can only hope to hope again, to find hope embodied in someone new. Someday. When I am not even hoping for it.

on dining out alone on a saturday night (tableaux from a solitary weekend, 1 of 3)

After a delectable Thanksgiving feast and a day-after meal of scrumptious leftovers, on Saturday I am in the mood for something lighter. So I walk down the street to get a salad. Normally, I would get it to go, head back home to eat alone, maybe in the company of Ed Chigliak and Chris in the Morning.

But there are no gifts from Netflix waiting for me at home, and although retreating to a lonely corner is exactly what I want to do, somehow I feel that, today, it is also exactly what I should not do. So tonight I decide to stay in the restaurant, to eat alone, in the detached company of strangers.

I do not know that it did any good for my psyche; merely being in the same room with other people does not necessarily lessen one's feeling of loneliness (in fact, it has been known to have the opposite effect). At least I saved some takeout packaging. And I got to pay plenty of attention to my salad, which happened to be delicious.

I am no stranger to dining alone, to being alone. But this particular experience is poignant. Suddenly I feel like I'm starting over, from scratch, and I don't even know what the ingredients are. Applewood smoked bacon, matchstick-cut apples, toasted sliced almonds: they make for a tasty salad, but, even as a team, their powers are limited. Comfort food is only food, after all. We humans, as reluctant to admit it as we sometimes are, we need each other.

Friday, November 28, 2008

skywatch friday, week 16

[chinchero, peru, june 2007]

How embarrassing: here I am posting on Skywatch Friday, and my last post was... last Friday. A whole week has gone by and my poor little blog has no writing to show for it. Worse still, today's photo is not even recent; it's from my archives, nearly a year and a half old. Oh well, at least it's a cool-looking sky, right? At the very least, you can surely find a cool-looking sky at skywatch.

Friday, November 21, 2008

skywatch friday, week 15

[judah & 22nd ave, san francisco]

sunset in the sunset district
with muni lines overhead

happy skywatching

Thursday, November 20, 2008

what do you listen to at work?

I work in a charming historic house situated between two student residences. 

About an hour ago I started hearing the sweet sounds of the marching band coming from somewhere outside and very nearby. 

I assumed that they were making their way down Campus Drive, just on the other side of the house next door. It is the week of the Big Game, after all.

Ran outside with my coworkers to see them and, turns out, they are practicing ON THE ROOF OF THE FRAT HOUSE next door.

How fabulous is that?

They're still playing. And making me feel all cheerful and nostalgic.

I love this place.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

well that's great

In my readings lately (in blogs, emails, newspapers, and what have you), I have frequently come across the word grateful

Probably not abnormally frequently, but for some reason the word has stood out to me. 

It is not because I am particularly aware of the gratitude that I personally feel at this time in my life. I do, and I suppose that I am, but, at least consciously, that is not the reason behind all these gratefuls jumping out at me.

No, but rather because of some odd dance of neurons in my head it keeps occurring to me that grateful must mean full of grates. And yet I don't even picture grates. I picture graters.

That doesn't even make sense. The word is not graterful, after all.

The human brain can be so weird. You can expect more from me on this theme (meaning the brain's weirdnesses, and not necessarily graters, but perhaps grates) in the future.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

what did you learn in school today?

It is difficult to find consolation in pleasing someone while disappointing another.

Especially when the one you disappoint does not believe in the first one.

Friday, November 14, 2008

skywatch friday, week 14

[caltrain station, 4th & king, san francisco]

visit skywatch to see more views of the sky
from hundreds of places on this planet

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

we're better blacksmiths than you are!

[embarcadero between brannan & bryant, san francisco]

Does anybody else get the sense that must be their official slogan?

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Thanks to Anna-Lisa, for offering the material for the following, um, allusion.

Feel free to plagiarize--er, I mean allude to--this theme, should you desire a break from something more serious.

(Why do we find these exercises so enjoyable? Why do we feel the need or the desire to encapsulate our lives and personalities in a series of lists? Is anyone else reminded of the early email days when these 'about-me' quizzes were all the rage? "Twenty questions: Copy and Paste and change my answers to yours" "Everything you want to know about me (and more)" "Fill out this survey and send it to all your friends!" "Because I'm bored..." Maybe it's a bit of nostalgia that keeps us coming back?)

Enough philosophizing already, Skylark. On to the meaningless(?) -ologies.


What is your salad dressing of choice? depends on the salad, but usually a balsamic vinaigrette is nice

What is your favorite sit-down restaurant? does La Taquería count? I mean it's not sit-down fancy, but I often sit down to eat there

What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of? as Jack would say, TACOS!

What are your pizza toppings of choice? lots of veggies

What do you like to put on your toast? peanut butter & honey


What is your wallpaper on your computer? a photo of a "lime zone" two-hour parking sign against a bright blue sky. I take weird pictures.

How many televisions are in your house? zero

What color cell phone do you have? rrred. and shiny.


Are you right-handed or left-handed? right

Have you ever had anything removed from your body? hair. clothing. four baby teeth.

What is the last heavy item you lifted? a computer (desktop PCs are heavy)

Have you ever been knocked unconscious? only by the powerful need for sleep


If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die? no, not really

If you could change your name, what would you change it to? Marion Cotesworth Hay

Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1,000? tempting, but only momentarily. I don't think that $1000 would make up for the burning sensation and related ill physiological effects, such as but not limited to the likelihood of not being able to taste anything for the next couple of weeks. I am assuming here a time limit, though, and perhaps there isn't one. In which case, I would probably reconsider. Oh dear, I fear I may be over-analyzing this. It's not like anyone is really going to make me such an offer, anyway.


How many pairs of flip flops do you own? two

Last time you had a run-in with the cops? there was this one time a few years ago when Claire and I called the cops because we saw what looked like a distress light on Y mountain. it wasn't exactly a "run-in," but we did meet and talk with them and one of them was very large and intimidating.

What do you want to be when you grow up? wise but not proud; childlike but not childish; warm and well-fed; loved and full of love; thoughtful and happy

Last person you talked to? Nikolai Ivanovich (ok so that's just an alias, inspired by a great scene in The West Wing. I tried to find the clip, but without success. read the dialogue here; watch the whole episode here.)

Last person you hugged? Nikolai Ivanovich


Season? spring

Holiday? I like Easter

Day of the week? Sunday

Month? it's a tie between Febanuarchil and Jutembegusty


Missing someone? no, not at the moment

Mood? somewhat contemplative, a bit scattered, mostly content

Listening to? Camille

Watching? these letters popping up on the screen

Worrying about? why I am putting so much mental energy into this mundane task

*RANDOMOLOGY* (doesn't this name applies to most of the items on this entire list? while we're on the topic, isn't it funny how the word "random" has come to be so common in the speech of youth in recent years? well, isn't it?)

First place you went this morning? down to the basement to see if the washing machine was being used (it was)

What can you not wait to do? board a plane to South America (as a figure of speech, of course. it's not like I will explode if I have to wait for that experience. I do. and I will not.)

What's the last movie you saw? Driving Miss Daisy

Do you smile often? yes! I find there is a lot to smile about (and it's nice to smile about nothing, too).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

skywatch friday, week 13

[4th & king, san francisco]

browse hundreds of celestial vistas at

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

some thoughts for the next (first) day

November 5, 2008: yesterday was a pretty important day here in the United States of America. Today is a brand new day; today I, along with millions of fellow citizens, residents, visitors, as well as onlookers in other countries, rejoice in the naming of the new President-Elect, Barack Obama. This is the start of a period of healing and renewal and progress. Watching Obama's speech last night, I had to keep reminding myself that it was real, that it wasn't just a fairy tale playing on the screen.

The result of the presidential election, however comforting and awe-inspiring, did not come as a surprise to me. What does surprise me is the result of the vote on California Proposition 8. I really did not expect it to pass. I noticed the extra push by the No on Prop 8 campaigners in the last few days leading up to the election, but I couldn't imagine that their efforts were anything more than a security buffer.

You may remember that I had a hard time with Proposition 8 when I first moved to California in August. Well, I still do. Either way I look at it, it makes me upset. I don't fully understand it, and I cannot tell what will happen in the future as regards this issue. Ultimately, my vote on Prop 8 came down to a matter of trust in the prophet and apostles of the Church, trust that they are blessed with greater foresight than I, trust that they know what they are doing, trust that they would not endorse a particular position on a particular political issue if it were not very important for some reason(s) that I do not yet understand.

Am I happy that Prop 8 passed? No, decidedly not. Would I be happy if Prop 8 had not passed? I'm not sure. Maybe, at least in the short term. The good that I see coming from the passage of Prop 8 is that it will not last. I know it won't. Too many people are upset and hurt (and can you blame them?) and they will not sit back and say 'oh well, we tried.' We will be called to vote again, we will be called to act, we will be called to enact a change that is really functional. I don't yet know what it will be, but I believe that after several incarnations of prop 8's and counter-prop 8's, we may eventually hit upon something that everyone can agree on. Call me a foolish idealist if you will. All I know is that it's not working now. But that doesn't mean that we should give up hope. Hasn't the Obama campaign taught us anything, after all?

What follows is a text that I originally wrote in an email to a friend, since we had earlier begun a conversation on the topic. When I came to the end (which is far from an end to the discussion), I realized and commented that perhaps it was a little silly to be writing this in an email. While my primary intent was to renew our dialogue, the primary effect was that, even before receiving a response and yet ignorant of whether my friend would even read what I had written, I felt better (if ever so slightly) just having gotten my thoughts out on paper, so to speak. Writing is mostly narcissistic. But every once in a while it transcends. And our stubborn hope in that once-in-a-while, I suppose, is what propels us humans to continue sharing our writing, somehow or another.
To be sure, I do not feel "vindicated" or even, more mildly, "justified" by the outcome of the prop 8 vote, nor do I feel any sense of relief. I do stand by my decision to follow my church leaders' counsel in voting on the issue, but I never did feel comfortable asking others to vote as I would (and therefore I did not). To be honest, the whole issue makes me feel sick, literally sick to my stomach. Part of me wants to run away from it, but mostly that tells me that it is important and must be dealt with somehow.

Regardless of which way the vote went, the very fact that it was so close tells me that this is not a simple black-or-white issue. Though others who voted "yes" may rejoice that we "won," I know that's simply foolish. I know very well that this is not the last we will hear of it, nor is it the last time it will come up on a ballot. Besides, the way I see it, democracy ought not to be about winning or losing. Something's wrong if we're fighting. If an issue is so starkly divided, that to me means that neither side is wholly right. There must be some other resolution that will make everybody better off.

Frankly, I think that we are in need of major reforms, more revolutionary perhaps than legalizing same-sex marriages. Under the law, take away the right to marry from everyone. Let any two people establish a civil union and enjoy the legal (and equal) rights that come along with that, and leave marriage entirely up to the churches. It's a semantic issue, perhaps, a matter of names. But what's in a name? For me (the phrase "the Word was God" comes to mind, not to mention my linguistic/literary background), words, names, are very important and far from empty; it seems, too, that I am not alone: a lot of the emotion surrounding the prop 8 issue, I believe, stems from the meaning(s) we attribute to the word "marriage" itself.

This is just the beginning. I do not know what will happen next, but we will continue to live in the struggle.

La vida es lucha, y la solidaridad para la vida es lucha y se hace en la lucha. No me cansaré de repetir que lo que más nos une a los hombres unos con otros son nuestras discordias. Y lo que más le une a cada uno consigo mismo, lo que hace la unidad íntima de nuestra vida, son nuestras discordias íntimas, las contradicciones interiores de nuestras discordias.

Miguel de Unamuno, La agonía del cristianismo

Saturday, November 1, 2008

etxerantz has a new sibling

That's right, I am the proud new parent of a bouncing baby blog!

Join me on a photographic exploration of my new neighborhood, day by day at Palo Alto Daily Photo.

Inspired by, and pending acceptance into, the City Daily Photo blog network.

Friday, October 31, 2008

skywatch friday, week 12

the rainy season is upon us.

[palo alto caltrain station]

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I have long nurtured a fascination with mass transit systems. I can't quite say why, nor can I pinpoint when it started, but I think I first became conscious of it while studying abroad in Alcalá de Henares, a suburb of Madrid.

A "suburb" in Spanish is called a cercanía, and Cercanías is what they call the regional rail networks in Spain. The Cercanías trains are what we would take from Alcalá to get into Madrid. It was four years ago, but if I stop to think about it, I can still hear the voice that announces the stops in that beautiful Castilian Spanish, theta and all: Próxima parada: Torrejón de Ardoz.

My love for the Madrid Metro was instantaneous. One of the oldest Metro systems in the world (first opened in 1919), it's sleek, efficient and enormous. My explorer buddy and I had many an adventure navigating the capital city via its underground labyrinth of Atochas and Sols and Nuevos Ministerios. Years later, while Julie was again living in Spain, she sent me the link to Red Retro: a sort of underground (pun intended) guerrilla art project involving altering the names of Metro stations. A delightful endeavor, if you ask me.

When we arrived in Barcelona at the end of our 2004 stay in Spain, we realized just how accustomed we had become to the Madrid Metro: we experienced some embarrassing difficulty entering the Barcelona Metro, since the turnstyles, in relation to where you inserted your ticket, were oriented opposite the way they had been in Madrid. The Barcelona Metro has a different flavor: it's smaller than Madrid's, and everything is in three languages. The Catalan influence means that "RENFE" (originally an acronym for the Spanish National Rail Network) is pronounced with a schwa at the end (which is a shocking phenomenon when you have been hearing only Spanish for the last three months), and that Metro stations have names like Paral•lel. Yes, that's really how it's spelled.

I take a certain pride in having experienced several mass transit systems around the world, from the smooth and sometimes architecturally grandiose Washington DC Metro of my homeland, the somewhat chaotic New York City Subway, the aging T of Boston, the endearing UTA buses in my last area and the promising TRAX light rail in Salt Lake City, Chicago's El trains and Metra commuter rail (which we like to think of as a female Metro), to the reeling speed-racing buses in Mérida and the extremely inexpensive but also very scary "buses" (really just rickety vans crammed with a couple dozen people) in Cusco.

Earlier this year, while I was trying to figure out where I would move to, my research included scoping out the transportation options in a number of potential cities. Underground rail got lots of bonus points, while lightrail and commuter rail were pluses, and buses, well, buses are better than nothing. Somewhere along the line, I came across this website highlighting artistic and architecturally interesting Metro systems around the world. Yes, that is the kind of thing that catches my eye. That said, it shouldn't surprise you that, the first time I visited the Stanford library, I discovered this marvelous book and spent a good couple of hours devouring it.

Ultimately, my decision as to where to relocate was not based solely on the modes of transportation available, though the options in the bay area did make the transition to a newfound independence a little easier and more enjoyable (like I said, I really like underground trains). Imagine my joy when, having just arrived from a stronghold of suburban America where I was one of the few supporters of the little bus system that could, I suddenly found at my doorstep: the BART! the Muni! the Caltrain! Not to mention the VTA light rail that runs from Mountain View to San José, which I haven't tried yet, but I look forward to it!

[bart train in richmond]

[muni n-judah at church & duboce in san francisco]

[caltrain in palo alto]

When I lived in Provo, I came to love the sound of the freight train whistle that always reached me in the middle of the night. Here in Palo Alto, I find the sound of the Caltrain whistle comforting. While I lived in San Francisco, I fell asleep listening to the soothing electric whirr of the Muni light rail which stopped half a block away.

Every day I take the Marguerite shuttle to work. Every Sunday I take the Caltrain and the Muni to church. I don't even own a car. That's mostly for financial reasons, but also I'm blessed to live in an area where it's not really necessary. My home address scores a 92 out of 100 on the Walkscore scale - that's a walker's paradise! And I must say it is a lovely neighborhood to walk in. It's nice to be able to run errands on foot, and I feel good about keeping my carbon footprint from becoming unnecessarily enormous. Even though my family isn't fanatically "green," we have been recycling since I was in kindergarten, and after all, I did grow up in Maryland public schools. We had regular programs entreating us to save the bay. In recent years my eco-consciousness has become more prominent, partly in answer to the volume of voices speaking up about global warming, partly because it fits in naturally with my fairly simple lifestyle anyway, partly because I've gained a greater sense of responsibility in all aspects of my life, partly because it's sort of stylish, partly because I moved to California and it's easy to do things like buy organic and local produce and to power your home entirely on renewable wind and solar energy.

We live in a nation where many people are used to getting in a car and driving wherever they need to go. If you're one of them, next time you're heading out, I encourage you to try an alternative to driving. Go catch the bus instead; descend into the belly of the earth and discover the experience of slipping through dark tunnels on a high-speed train; hop on the commuter train or the light rail, if your city is blessed with such options. You'll ease the stress on your wallet, on the roads, and on the atmosphere. And who knows, you might just meet someone wonderful who happens to sit next to you on the train.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

settling in

Maybe you wouldn’t know it by the looks of the place, what with the stacks of still unpacked shoeboxes of miscellaneous trinkets and supplies, and the still very blank walls all around, but it has been six weeks since I moved into my new home. It really was a great find, a charming studio in an old (1930s-ish) yellow stucco building right in downtown Palo Alto.

It’s lovely to have my own space that I don’t have to share with anyone (besides a troop of little ants that snuck in to join me for a couple of days a few weeks ago): no coordinating shower schedules, no fussing over other people’s messes, no dress code, no worries about suiting another’s taste with what I watch or listen to… you get the idea. Little things, really, but still something of a revelation when it’s the first time you’re really on your own. There will probably be days when I get lonely, but so far it hasn’t been an issue, since I am too (happily!) busy settling into my new town, my new job, my new life.

My mom and dad, in their overwhelming generosity, flew out from Maryland to move all my boxes of stuff from my grandmother’s house in Sacramento to my new place in Palo Alto and to get me all set up with new Ikea furniture. My dad was nice and let me try to help assemble things, but then he and I both realized that I am rather power-tool-challenged, so he took over and I stuck with pieces that needed only to be popped or twisted into place. Kind of sad, I know. I did stain my wooden kitchen cart last Saturday, and it turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself.

I think the trick is that if a given home improvement project can be done by hand, I can probably handle it. If it involves an electrical source of power that is in magnitude far greater than what is natural, then there are conflicts. I mean, power tools essentially do traditionally manual tasks, only faster; so what’s the rush? Time doesn’t exist, anyway.

I am always reaching toward home, though the specific reference point for that concept may differ depending on the city or the year or the state of mind that I am in. There are many facets to the act of making a home out of a mere crashpad and junk locker. Two of those are to give everything a special place where it belongs, and to maximize the aesthetic appeal of the walls which hold up the roof over your head. So, today I am tackling the tasks of organizing my kitchen and decorating the walls. Overdue, perhaps, but it doesn’t matter. I’m doing it now. Watch this space for before-and-after photos. Maybe. Or maybe you’ll just have to come to California and see it for yourself!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

skywatch friday, week 11

"And they said, Go to, let us build a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name..."

[stanford, ca]

see more skies, both ordinary and spectacular, at skywatch

Monday, October 20, 2008


I saw this on a couple of friends' blogs, and it looked like fun. And since I am somewhat frenetically trying to make up for a long dearth of verbal blog posts, it seems fitting to throw it into the mix now:

1. Rock Star name: Cleo* Marguerite** (first pet + current car)
2. Gangster name: Dulce de Leche Snickerdoodle (favorite ice cream + favorite cookie)***
3. Detective name: Green Golondrina (favorite color + favorite animal)
4. Soap Opera name: Ann Columbia (middle name + city where you were born)
5. Star Wars name: Davem (first 3 letters of your last name + first 2 letters of your first)
6. Superhero name: The Orange Tamarindo**** ("The" + 2nd favorite color + favorite drink)
7. Nascar name: Huck Rex (grandfathers' first names)
8. TV Weatherman name: Sheer Shanghai (5th grade teacher's last name + major city starting with the same letter)
9. Spy Name: Spring Daffodil (favorite season/holiday + favorite flower)
10. Cartoon Name: Blackberry Scarfie (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
9. Hippie name: Granola Bar Redwood (what you ate for breakfast + favorite tree)
10. Rock band name: The Wandering Blizzard ("The" + favorite hobby + favorite weather element)

*my neighbor's cat when I was little. I've never had any pets of my own.
**actually the Stanford shuttle bus, named after Leland Stanford's favorite horse
***in my opinion, this is seriously flawed gangster name methodology
****okay so maybe this is my second-favorite drink, but the orange hot chocolate just didn't have a very nice ring to it

Saturday, October 18, 2008

farmers market bounty

It turns out that I live three blocks from the spot where the farmers market is held every Saturday morning. In Palo Alto, those three blocks translate into a mere five minutes from the time I walk out my front door until the time I am faced with the rather difficult but very pleasant task of deciding which variety of pluot to buy.

pasta primavera à la emily
simple and delicious. good in any season, best in late summer (i know primavera means spring, but it still sounds nice in the name.) feel free to experiment with variations.
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
½ red bell pepper, cut into short strips
1 or 2 small green chilies (mild or spicy), cut into strips
1 zucchini, sliced thinly
1 yellow summer squash, sliced thinly
1 green summer squash, sliced thinly
a couple of handfuls of grape tomatoes, cut in half
fresh basil leaves
cooked pasta, any variety (for this dish I like penne or farfalle)

Sauté garlic and peppers in good olive oil. Once peppers are softened, add zucchini and squash. These will cook very quickly if they are sliced very thinly; you need wait only a minute or so before adding the tomatoes. Along with the tomatoes, add several leaves of fresh basil, torn into smaller pieces, to the skillet. Cook until tomatoes are softened and heated through (another minute or two). Serve over freshly cooked pasta.

the internets and i

Remember when the internet wasn’t working, and then it was, and I was very happy about it? Well, the very next day it stopped working again. And I was very frustrated again. I couldn’t figure out why the internets were up against me, or, at least, why the cable coming out of my wall seemed to delight in devouring cable modems. Well, when technician number two came last Saturday, I found out that my predicament was not mine alone, but had rather been something of an epidemic. It turns out that Comcast’s recent software update had sent poor, unsuspecting modems all over the place into an irreparable state of shock. So, now I’m working with modem number three (four if you count the dsl modem that I sent back without ever using), which was made by a different manufacturer and seems to be getting along just fine with my cable and my wireless router, with my computer and, ultimately, with me. And I can go on with normal life, because we all know that normalcy is impossible without the internets.

Friday, October 17, 2008

skywatch friday, week 10

It's been a very busy, but very enjoyable week. Maybe I'll write about it once I sleep it off. Anyway my point is that this Skywatch Friday post comes a little later than usual, but at least it is still Friday where I live, so it counts.

[through a glass darkly. stanford, california]

Friday, October 10, 2008

skywatch friday, week 9

[stanford, ca]

watch the skies from your desktop - see more skywatch posts here

Saturday, October 4, 2008

glory glory hallelujah

That's right, my friends, this blog post is coming to you direct from my new apartment.

At last, I can connect to the internets (yes, plural) at any hour of the day or night, from my sofa or from my kitchen table, heck probably even from the bathtub, if I weren't concerned about electrocution. Okay, so I haven't yet hooked up my wireless router (which is still tinged yellow from an incident with Claire's paint), so until then I'm pretty much limited to this spot on the floor where I'm sitting, or maybe on the edge of my bed if I arrange the cords just right.

I'll spare you the saga (I've told it to a couple of people and decided that it's not really as interesting as I had believed), but here are the highlights, by the numbers:
  • two internet service providers
  • three modems
  • a dozen customer service reps
  • two routings to an Illinois call center because the system got confused by my California address and my Utah phone number (Utah + California = Illinois?)
  • one technician
  • one bewildered, oft-frustrated, but after all happy internet customer
So, yes, I am delighted to finally have internet access in my home. Not to offend anyone with this post's title, however, I want to clear up any suspicions of sacrilege by noting that my having internet access now allows me to watch General Conference this weekend. I know, I know, the internet is not the only way that one can participate in Conference. However, (1) I do not own a tv, (2) I do not live within range of KBYU Radio, and (3) I don't really know where the Stake Center is (and I'd need the internet to look it up!) So. The technician just left about a half hour ago, so clearly I missed the live feed of today's Conference sessions. Fortunately, I can access the recordings with my brand new, shiny internet! So that's what I'm going to do now. Cheers.

Friday, October 3, 2008

skywatch friday, week 8

[stanford, ca]

Friday, September 26, 2008

skywatch friday, week 7

[machu picchu, peru, 16 june 2007]

more skywatch photos here

Monday, September 22, 2008

flora and civitas

[haight st, san francisco]

[castro st, san francisco]

(Really, I'll be writing more once I get internet access in my new apartment. I promise!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

skywatch friday, week 6

[stanford, ca]

Last weekend I moved down to Palo Alto. It's almost always sunny and clear on the peninsula. I love the sunshine and pleasant weather, but on the other hand there may be something to lament in lack of variety. Chrome 3d's southern Finland skies, for instance, make for rather more interesting photos. Browse the celestial views to your heart's content at skywatch.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

skywatch friday, week 5

[paucartambo, peru, 21 june 2007]

Sorry for the infrequent and verbally sparse posts as of late. I hope to be writing more once I move into my new apartment this weekend.

In the meantime, take a gander at the lovely and interesting skies posted by members of the skywatch community.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


just a couple of reasons why I take my camera with me everywhere:

[potrero hill, san francisco]

[stanford ave, palo alto]

Thursday, September 4, 2008

skywatch friday, week 4

Since I started work this week, the commute to the peninsula has me getting up before the sun. This is extremely unnatural for me, and I don't foresee many mornings when I will have enough spare moments to get out my camera and take a picture.

In fact, this photo is from last week, when for some unknown reason I woke up one day around 6:30 a.m. and, glancing out the window, decided that the view was good enough to capture on film. Metaphorically speaking, of course, since I don't really use film. And after I took the picture, I had the luxury of going back to bed for a few more hours. Ah, the good old days.

[sunrise in san francisco]

click here to see more skywatch posts from around the world

Thursday, August 28, 2008

skywatch friday, week 3

Another flashback this week:

sunset at the trainyards
Provo, Utah, February 2008

click here to see views captured by other skywatchers around the world

Monday, August 25, 2008

there's something magical about california

Maybe it's the landscape. Or perhaps it's the people.

Maybe it's the weather. Or something in the water.

Maybe it's simply the novelty of actually living here after I was so tired of my old town, the shock of my leap-of-faith move having worked out so well and so quickly, the thrill of starting fresh and making a new home and a new life for myself in a place that I love.

Maybe it's a little bit from all of the above, with a sprinkling of something else that I haven't identified.

Whatever it is that causes it, at least a couple of times a day I find myself suddenly re-cognizing the fact that I am here, and that I don't have to catch a flight back home in a couple of days, because I live here now. It's like waking up from a really good dream to find that it was real, after all.