Friday, March 30, 2007

Blissed Out on Color

It’s Friday and I have two pressing deadlines, both of which are more administrative than creative (boo). To add to my misery, we are once again completely buried in snow. I need a pick-me-up.

Ah-ha! I know just what will pull me out of this funk and pacify my craving for something creative!

I’ve sent the link to the Sony Bravia commercial featuring millions of every-color-under-the-sun bouncing balls to many of you before, I know. But I am always itching to share my love of this delightful little ad with the world (and more specifically, with you, my four devoted readers)!

I used to be a bit ashamed that a commercial sat near the top of my list of favorite things. I’m making no more apologies: this little advert sits right up there with puppies, good meals shared with great friends, clean Wyoming air, an entire day to fly-fish and a map marked with a secret mountain stream, and a throw pillow filled with Sam Elliott’s chest hair. I’ve managed to make peace with my conflicting feelings over the fact that this is, indeed, an advertisement for a television encouraging yet more passive consumerism. (And more passivity, generally.)

However, for me, this 2 minute, 30 second video is truly uplifting. It celebrates the tangible and intangible attributes of color, the same attributes that have drawn me to the endless variations of this visual bliss throughout my entire life. This little film enlivens and affirms my own profound love of color. So, please, enjoy and have a happy Friday.

And I’ve never once considered buying that damn TV.

*You can find the video on YouTube, but the quality is much better on the Bravia site.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Boo, and I've decided I don't like the date stamp function on my camera, especially when I am not near Photoshop

Go, Cowgirls!!!!

Last night, the University of Wyoming women's basketball team beat Kansas State University, 89-79, in triple-overtime to advance to the finals in the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). It was soooo exciting—both teams fought like hell up to the very last second. Last night was another record-breaker in attendance: 12,225 fans!!! This is the largest crowd to ever attend a WNIT semifinal game ever. The 16,000+ tickets for the championship game sold out just after 9:00 a.m. today. Who says women’s sports aren’t a good draw of revenue?

I am proud of all the women on both teams – they all did a great job. H., the student employee in my office, kept her cool through the entire game, and really stepped up her defense during the overtime play. She is such a leader for her teammates. I was especially proud of her. I have such a sore throat today from cheering so loudly!

And here’s the kicker: I HATE BASKETBALL. It is right up there with gristle, Republicans, and my alarm clock that insists on doing its job properly by scaring the bloody hell out of me at 5:30 a.m.

So, the Cowgirls play University of Wisconsin on Saturday. L. – who knew our paths would cross so often the last few weeks?! And your wish for the snow to stay in my neck of the woods was granted; this morning we woke up to snowdrifts that were well past my knees. (Yes, as you point out the obvious, I am pretty damn short. But, by any measure, there really is a lot of snow on the ground!) And it is still snowing…

Monday, March 26, 2007

Orderliness may save my soul

Today has been a spectacularly productive day at work, and I am hoping whatever little fire is currently under my ass will remain there, burning just-hot-enough, throughout the night as I transition into work for school.

In a determined effort to clear the house of clutter, A. tackled the majority of the house last night. I cannot adequately share with you the restorative property of his actions. I am absolutely giddy. Full of pep. Relaxed. Ready to go. Perhaps this explains my show of productivity today?

Thank you, A.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Spring, please don't be so shy

Yesterday I was complaining of suffering from my allergies so early in the year. New little blades of Kentucky Bluegrass (the plant my sinuses most dread) were growing green and bright, shooting up among the dull, dead grass all over town. Spring was starting to appear!

Well, it's been snowing for nearly five hours now, and well over four inches of snow has accumulated out here at the house. Why did I miss Wyoming all those years in DC?

It is supposed to continue snowing throughout the night. Big, fluffy (yet very heavy) flakes are falling at a 45 degree angle. This is a treat; usually the snow comes down horizontally due to the wind. It is a heavy snow - I can barely make out my neighbor's house as I sit at my computer. I am sure this storm will kill those hopeful little blades of grass that shined so brightly yesterday. The snow-covered landscape is quite lovely looking, though.

But it is cold, too. (Obviously.) I guess it is a good day to stay inside. Now I am glad I pulled together a big pot of soup to simmer for the afternoon. I should make a cup of tea. The tip of my nose is cold, for Pete's sake.

I am too lazy and too chilled to take the dogs for a walk so they are laying around the house looking very bored and thoroughly unimpressed with me. Dealing with their wet, cold, and probably muddy paws that will inevitably accompany a walk in this weather just does not inspire me to get off my butt right now. Not to mention I have to track down the fleece liner to my coat and put it back in. And where the hell are my hat and gloves? Ugh. I need to keep plugging away on my thesis anyway.

Friday, March 23, 2007

On a lighter note, Go Cowgirls!

On a lighter note than the previous post...

A. and I went to the Cowgirls-Ducks basketball game last night with a couple of friends. It was so nice to get out of the thesis/work routine and just hang out with friends!

The women's team made a new record in attendance: 7,362 fans! I am glad to see the women's basketball team (who I think play a cleaner, stronger game fundamentally than the men's team) draw such a large crowd. They deserve it. It really was satisfying to hear so many fans cheering for the women. It created a great atmosphere for the athletes. One of the starters on the team is a student-worker in my office. I have nothing but the highest regard for her character and it was rewarding to watch her play such a good game last night.

The Cowgirls won and move on to the Elite Eight in the NIT Tournament. They play South Dakota State University this Sunday.

Go Cowgirls!

Violence against women as fashion

Photos from a competition on the show, America’s Next Top Model, at, where the models' challenge was to look beautiful while dead. Not just dead, but murdered.

I don’t even know where to start. Seriously. Violence against women as fashion. As beauty. As the ultimate pinnacle for a successful model to ascend—or descend—to. (As they are already abused by the industry)? Hmmm – as the ultimate pinnacle for any woman to ascend/descend to?

The comments from the judges are posted to the right of the photos. Holy shit. I am still trying to gather my thoughts to form any kind of coherent reaction. Right now I am just pissed. And disgusted.

Jennifer Pozner has posted an excellent commentary regarding these photos and the television show at WIMN's Voices. I agree with much of what she has to say, and she has managed to say it with more grace, insight and eloquence than I can muster right now.

Certainly, critical and thoughtful examinations of the positions and mutilations the women’s bodies themselves are interesting and important. But I am also very interested in the spaces in which these women have been situated (not to mention the situation/space of: in the photos-as a model-in a judged contest-in a nationally broadcast television show. Wow.) What does this say?

I am going to ponder this for a bit and will post more on this later (I think). Feel free to share any thoughts you might have on the matter, too.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Inner or Outer, Public or Private?

I ran across this article the other day and I think it is so interesting! Actually, I think it makes quite a bit of sense that an artist would look at a picture in a much different way than a psychologist -- at least in terms of how to visually understand the image as key elements relate to each other. But maybe it means more than how these two professions (for lack of a better word) visually see things - maybe it demonstrates how they see --ontologically--humans and their world. I wonder if it is fair to draw conclusions as to how both professions place people in the world around them based on these patterns. Do these viewing patterns suggest that one profession values the private much more than the public? Do these viewing patterns belie different values placed on humans' relationships to their inner selves and the world "outside"? Hmm... See if you can tell which viewing patterns belong to the artist.

What do you think? I'd love to explore this further through comments...

Speaking of artists, I’ve been itching to paint lately. I am sure it is a combination of wanting to do anything but work on my thesis and a genuine desire to dive back into it. I really miss losing myself in a painting…

It is absolutely gorgeous outside today – it has been really hard to stay seated at my desk. I am preparing for a three-day meeting and need to focus, darn it! A. has the day off and has been on campus doing research for his ENR class. We met for lunch and just a bit ago took a nice little walk around campus. It is just too pleasant outside to stay chained to our computers.

I didn’t get much writing done this weekend but did manage to do more field observation at the greenbelt with the help of A. and the doggies! The whole family participated! A. took the dogs leashes so I could meander around with the camera. Maybe I’ll include one of the pictures featuring the dogs and A. in my thesis – wouldn’t that be sweet! (I need something in the damn thing to make me happy with it…) It was a very busy day at the GB as it was pleasant out and the wind didn’t start to pick up until around noon. Nearly everyone said hi, and this time every dog we saw was on a leash.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bill Maher on What We Have Sacrificed for the War

Hi all,

Today I am riding a pendulum between anxious, incoherent ramblings and short, sporadic streams of complete, articulate thoughts. Very frustrating.

Below is a clip from Bill Maher's show last night - very good! Enjoy--or rather--organize and resist.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Nostalgia: Good or Evil?

I’m a geek. I love the “A Prairie Home Companion” radio variety show and Garrison Keillor. Keillor’s brand of humor is usually what I’d consider healthy mix of nostalgia and satire. Usually, this allows for a particular and thoughtful critique on the subject at hand. Humor has a way of making those critiques accessible and has a place in doing just that.

Nostalgia is a tricky thing. Yes, nostalgia can be dangerous; it can create harmful myths and standards that are untrue and destructive. But I'd like to think that nostalgia can also be used as a medium to imagine what can be, too. (It is a very fine line, though. This is exactly why it can be so dangerous!)

That is why I am so bothered by Keillor’s essay, “Stating the Obvious,” posted to It sounds so snide and bitter. Not quite the Garrison Keillor I look forward to catching on NPR. The essay seems incoherent almost, and is not internally consistent. I didn’t get the point. If he is trying to be satirical, he missed the mark. He sounds outright enraged that monogamous households are not the norm. (A bit hypocritical, eh?) He chides mainstream America’s stereotypical views of gays but then rebukes gay parents. What?!? And the picture he paints of passive parents of this not-so-innocent nostalgic past is deceitful and infuriating. There were a lot of unhappy wives and mothers loaded up on Valium and gin in this past he laments. By waxing nostalgic for this fictional past, he also not-so-innocently disguises the fathers that resorted to violence and alcohol as a release of the pressures of the unattainable myth of the ultimate provider. I don’t think these behaviors were any less hurtful to the children of these parents than a second (and hopefully happier and healthy) marriage? Truly, I think the line has been crossed here, to a place where nostalgia is very dangerous.

Oh, and I wasn’t at all pleased with the methods used to determine the 10 most walkable cities. It turns out Prevention magazine rated the tendency of people to walk in certain cities rather than how walkable the cities themselves are. Not quite the kind of information I hoped to have on hand. I still don’t get why NYC isn’t on there. (Thanks for the great observations, B.!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pedestrian Advocate

At one time I thought about writing my thesis on pedestrians in western states (of the US). The combination of sprawl, automobile-dominated transportation systems and lifestyles and pedestrians is very interesting to me. (I don't know how many times a day I wish I'd chosen to write about anything but my current topic. What is my current topic, you ask? That is the question of the day!)

Anyway, here are some interesting tid-bits about walking that have come across my desk today:

First, this message arrived in my in-box from a listserv on public spaces:

Prevention Magazine has published its list of the 100 most walkable cities in the U.S. The top 10 are:

1. Madison, WI (Yeah for you, Lisa!)

2. Austin, TX

3. San Francisco, CA

4. Charlotte, NC

5. Seattle, WA

6. Henderson, NV

7. San Diego, CA (Wahoo, Sally, Chris and Neal!)

8. San Jose, CA

9. Chandler, AZ

10. Virginia Beach, VA

I don't know the criteria that was used to determine this list. That alone would be interesting stuff. I am going to look into it.

Then, I was approached by a colleague to help coordinate some conference materials and funders. My organization co-sponsors a conference that takes place once every three years called "Shaping a Healthy Future." The last conference, in 2005, featured Mark Fenton as a workshop speaker. He is listed in the 2005 conference materials as a "pedestrian advocate."

I want to be a pedestrian advocate! Seriously!

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

First Sighting: Mountain Bluebirds

I haven’t gotten enough writing done today. I have been getting some stuff done around the house, though, so I still feel a sense of accomplishment. Oh, cheers to the sanative properties of a clean bathroom and organized, full pantry!

A. and I took the dogs for a nice long walk this afternoon as there has been very little wind, no snow (yeah!) and 50+ degree temperatures for most of the day. (Er, I am not used to the time change; it was really early evening an not at all the afternoon!) The poor pups needed a good walk. They have been antsy the past few days. I’ve only been taking them for one walk a day and the backyard is still half full of ice so they aren’t running around as much as usual.

We saw the first returning Mountain Bluebirds of the year!!! There were so many of them and their plumage is such a bright blue right now. The first sighting of the year always lifts my spirits. These pretty birds are these bright little announcements: winter is drawing to a close -- spring is here!!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wh- What? Snow?

The good news: I've been so engrossed in my thesis work today I didn't notice it had started snowing.

The bad news: It is snowing. A lot. Big flakes, too. I can't see more than a 1/4 of a mile. I suppose it is a good day to stay inside.

I hope it isn't snowing tomorrow. I was planning to do more field observation at the greenbelt. I supposed I can do that in the snow. The die hard greenbelters will be out there. I am just a wuss -- I don't what to be out there in the snow!

I am going to make some hot cocoa and get back to work. Hope all is well with you!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Mac to PC, come in?

The truck's battery connection is on the fritz, and I couldn't get it to start this morning. So, I am trying to work from home. Trying to get my Mac to talk to my work PC through a VPN is not as straightforward as I had hoped (or that IT had promised).

Strange -- I am more anxious to get my work done from here than I usually am at the office. Hmmm? Am I that nervous I'll be perceived as a slacker? Or worse yet, maybe I am nervous folks in my office will just assume I am staying at home to work on my thesis. I'd love to do just that, of course, but I'd feel too guilty.

I guess for my "lunch break" I'll take the dogs for a walk; they are kind of wound up and have been pestering me. The wind is back, so it won't be a pleasant walk, unfortunately.

Well, I'm off to try and accomplish as much as I can via e-mail and fight with this VPN connection for a few more hours.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Fox's Den

Tonight, on our way home from work, we saw some ducks flying overhead and a fox seeking out where to make her new den. It seems A. and I aren't the only ones happy for the spring-like weather. It's too bad we will probably see three or four more good snow storms and cold snaps before spring is truly upon us.

I wish the fox would make her den nearer to our house than she does. I think she keeps the half a mile west of us that she does because there are fewer dogs running loose there. Many of our neighbors in that direction keep chickens and ducks and I am sure it tempts the fox to make her den near there. Unfortunately, many of those people would shoot her if they see her getting into their animals. She has been around for a few years now; I hope she manages to be here for a few more.

It is evenings like these that I am really glad we live north of town. That smell particular to Wyoming air was present tonight. It is my favorite smell.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Oh, please, please can we go after Karl Rove next?!?! Oh, do I even dare to wish that Cheney will be investigated....?

Thesis-Reading in Bed

I thought in the interest of saving my relationship as my thesis drags on I should seriously consider a high-quality book light. The other night A. got up and slept in the other room because I kept reading and wouldn't turn off my bedside lamp. Thankfully, Tom Bartlett of Slate already did the research for me.

I tried making it a rule not to do any thesis-reading in bed. I don't want to taint that space with lingering stress from thesis activities.

In theory, I wanted my bed to be a place where I could just relax and engage in only happy things. :-) Unfortunately, this thesis has triggered frequent bouts of insomnia. So my new theory is that if I go to bed feeling like I've accomplished something -- anything -- on my thesis, then I'll sleep. So far, this seems to be the case. And besides, it is so nice to be curled up in my own bed, under piles of covers with A. hanging out and the warm light of the bedside lamps that I've tended to do this more and more.

Lazy Walkers

Few things drive me batty like lazy walkers. You know, people who are so lazy they can't even pick up their feet when they walk. They make this hideous dragging noise with their feet. It seems like I get stuck behind one of these walkers at least once a day on campus. With every audible drag of their feet my blood pressure rises. I have a low tolerance for lazy people, and when I see that people can't -- or won't -- pick up their own feet to walk, I make the assumption that they are as lazy as they get. It probably isn't nice of me to jump to such unflattering assumptions. But for goodness sake, just pick up your feet!

A. helped me with data entry from my farmers' market surveys last night. I think he wants me to be done with this thesis pretty badly.

Monday, March 5, 2007


Ok, so succinct is my new blog goal. Yesterday's post was a smidge too lengthy...sorry! There may still be a couple of long-winded posts lurking around the corner as I am sure I'll use this as a place to kick around thesis ideas. Thankfully, that will all be over in a few weeks. Yeah for all of us!

My office is participating in a "marathon." The idea is to keep track of your physical activity until you have accumulated the same amount of physical activity as is required to complete a marathon. First one to do so wins. I am just aiming to finish, thanks!

Hope all is well!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Grass growing bent over

Buster and Belle's morning walk was actually enjoyable for all of us -- there was no wind! As there have been 40+ mph winds the last few days (or has it been weeks!!??), this morning's walk was a treat indeed. Buster seems to be doing really well on the pain medication for his leg. We aren't going for long walks just yet, but the pep is back in his step. Yeah!

After the pups walk, I met Jel Bel in town for breakfast. It was great to see her. She looks fantastic, truly. She has sooo much going on in her life right now but she seems to be handling it all with grace.

After Jel Bel and I said bye, I went and spent about two and a half hours conducting "field observation" at the Greenbelt. So many people were out enjoying the greenbelt - the severe cold and wind that have marked the past three months have left everyone with cabin fever, I suppose. Oh - and the tall grasses that grow near the greenbelt are still bent over - even without the wind. Those poor little guys grow that way because it is always windy. I hate the wind (unless I can get my hands on a windmill...)!

It appeared everyone came to the greenbelt by themselves or with others that defined them as a group. I didn't see anyone linger to chat with anyone other than when I chatted with a young woman with a sweet, sweet pup she'd adopted two months ago; the proud parents swapped dog stories. She's moving to Ohio in two weeks; I found myself disappointed. I was also stopped by a woman and a child who wondered if I'd seen their black lab anywhere. I took her name and number in case I saw Daisy later I could ring her and let her know. Other than that, everyone kept walking, moving, no stopping. I wonder how much the clearly defined, paved and groomed road encourages greenbelters to just keep moving? I expect the joggers and bikers to keep going; their intent on usage of the space appears to be for exercise, not dilly dallying or strolling. But I thought other people would meander a bit more than they did. Nope. A few people would stop to look at the river that has just begun to thaw every now and then. That was as much dilly dallying as I saw. However, everyone greeted me without exception. Of course, I made sure to make eye contact, but my gaze was always met by a friendly face. It was so pleasant to be outside and to see so many friendly faces. I am sure the break in the yucky weather encouraged this; a few people mentioned how nice it was to have pleasant weather as they passed by.

Nearly everyone had a dog or two with them. Of course, I was tickled. I noticed the dogs encouraged greetings among people almost immediately. Fuzzy little ice-breakers. All but one dog had sweet temperaments. One dog, toward the end of my day, was barking at everyone, had to be on a leash and was aggressive toward other dogs. I am glad the owner had this dog on a leash and that there weren't any canine confrontations. Personally, I don't think he should have brought his dog. Maybe he is working on socializing the dog and I suppose this is a good place to do it. I should have taken Buster and Belle but I wouldn't have gotten much "work" done. I also noticed, based on the evidence of dried, muddy footprints on the greenbelt, that it appears dogs freely roam on and off the paved greenbelt but that the humans stay on the pavement. I didn't even see any little kiddie footprints. We need to loosen up a bit!

This idea of boundaries and "rules" has me interested; I'll have to explore this line of thought as I go over my notes. Boundaries were everywhere; at the edge of the groomed greenbelt and the wild and unruly grass growing around it; chain-link fences keeping greenbelters off of the cement plant's property; solid fences keeping the saw mill out of sight (sort of); posted yield and stop signs, as well as signs prohibiting motor vehicles and asking bicyclists and rollerbladers to warn folks as they came up on them. It is a public space, yes, but not one that encourages spontaneity. Does this lead to boundaries on sociability, too?

Tomorrow, over my lunch hour, I am meeting with the head of the City Parks and Rec to get some more information about the greenbelt. Hopefully I'll be able to wrap up that chapter (number three) by the end of the week. I am trying to wrap up chapter two by tomorrow night. Whew!

Well, this is longer than I planned to write. Gotta scoot; I am making paneer cheese again (this time with whole milk and yogurt - wahoo for fat!) for a dish later in the week and then I need to buckle down and type away for a few hours yet. The dogs could use another walk, too, though I am about walked out today.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

A tad less intrusive to your inbox...

I thought that I'd quit forcing myself and my thesis-induced psychosis on many of you in such a pushy fashion. So, rather than take up room in your inbox with e-mails that are all about me, me, and me, I thought I'd create a blog to write about me, me, and me. This way, you can visit the blog when you want to hear about me, me, and me!!

At the very least, I'll pretend you all are visiting the site daily and my life here in the sagebrush won't feel so far away from you all. And I can use this "space" as a place to freak out, ramble, chatter about whatever is on my mind, and maybe even serendipitously stumble upon a good idea or two.