Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is Rick Perry an Idiot?

Someone certainly thinks so:

But I've got to say, looking at his campaign contributors, I don't think Perry is that dumb:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Conflating Cigarettes With What?

Check out this slide show by the brilliant comedy writer Allison Silverman:

I'll try to embed some of it in this post, but if I can't do that, please do go look at all the slides, starting with that link.

Here we go, the text that accompanies the fifth slide:

"But for me, there's only one real question: Why do ads for tampons and maxi pads look so much like cigarette ads?

"I know cigarettes and tampons have a lot in common. Their shape. Their color. They're both kept behind the counter at the deli to protect them from underage teens and menstruating shoplifters, who are the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of stores you only go to for the ATM.

"And they both have to sell you something without really talking about it.

"After all, cigarettes cause lung cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, emphysema, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, cataracts, osteoporosis, and every year kill hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone.

"And periods only happen to women, and they're borderline gross."

The photos that go with this one:

And then, for Slide # 6, this text: "So they're in the same boat."

The photos that go with this one:

Slide # 10:

Another cigarette/tampon classic is the woman in white on the beach.
An image that combines the classic imagery of femininity: virginity, water, and menthol.

These images seem to be about innocence.

In the tampon ad, the teenage heroine is sweet, young, and clean.

In the Parliament ad, she's a slut, but it doesn't count because she tastes like mint.

There's more. Here's the last one, but go ahead and enjoy all the ones in between:

And I want R.J. Reynolds to sell cigarettes with this one.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good Night, Irene

Sung by Eric Clapton:

And we're all praying for the people back east!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fiction Friday (August 26, 2011): Madama Butterfly

Madame L thinks this is the most beautiful song ever written. The story is okay, too. And the rest of the opera. But this is the most beautiful song ever written.

And the staging in the N.Y. Metropolitan Opera production that's sometimes on national public TV is incredible. Here's a preview of it:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Loafer or Santaquin?

Since I haven't been able to write comments on this blog (or any other) for awhile now, I'm answering Ellen's question with a new posting:

She commented:

"when you get back there." Hunting for fossils in that fossil dig place looks hot and dusty and dirty to me. I'd much rather hike a mountain again. See? Already I'm thinking about "next time." Whereas last week, on the mountain, I wasn't ready to commit to going again, now I'm thinking about next year...maybe Timp? I bet there are fossils up there that are just as cool as the ones on Loafer. Oh, and now I'm wondering which peak we were really on? How is it that you are so sure it was Loafer and not Santaquin?

And my reply: Yay Ellen! I'm glad you're ready to attack a new mountain, maybe Timp! Yes, definitely Timp! Let's start getting in shape now! I'm sure there ARE fossils there, and I'd love to find some that we can take pictures of.

Also, about which mountain we were on: I think we were on Loafer instead of Santaquin because of the trail signs, the directions in the "Hiking Utah" book, the information on this website, and because of this map.

What do you think, Ellen? Laura, what do you think?

(Sorry I couldn't figure a way to show the map directly, could only provide a link.)

But I'd still like to go fossil hunting in a place where we know we can find some good examples, too. I bet you'd love it. I've done it before, years ago, on the James River with Jason, and it was more fun than shaking a sack of monkeys. (I'm guessing. Having never shaken a sack of monkeys, I'm guessing it would be as much fun for me as for the monkeys.)


Check out these episodes, which Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein set in that good old politically correct city across the river. First, "Is It Local?"


Next, "Feminist Bookstore" (and by the way this is doubly funny because it's typical of every single "independent" bookstore I've ever walked into in that city across the river):

And it has the great Steve Buscemi in a starring role.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fossils on Mt. Loafer

As promised, I found out a little bit --- just a little --- from the Utah Geological Survey website and other websites about the fossils we found on our Aug. 15 hike on Mt. Loafer.

First, though, I found that Mt. Loafer is the 44th most prominent peak in Utah.

The website agrees with other references we found that Mt. Loafer is actually 2 feet higher than Santaquin Peak, and that the "Mt. Loafer Trail" actually leads the hiker to Santaquin Peak, which is more easily visible from the valley below.

As for the fossils, I haven't been able to identify them definitively. Here are some photos I took in situ, near the summit. When I first glanced at them, I was thinking they were trilobites, but when I saw them up close, I thought not. What do you think?

(Great scale illustration, no? I think it beats the usual quarter or dime...)

We also saw a lot of "fossil hash," or bits and pieces of organisms mixed together, which make me imagine how they died in the silt and sediment that eventually became the limestone where we found them. I think the fossil in the rock Ellen is holding in the following photo is a brachiopod:

Did brachiopods exist in the geologic time period of these rocks? Yes, it seems so, according to the UCMP web page, "Fossil Record of Brachiopods,"

which shows them throughout geologic history.

The map of the Spanish Fork Quadrangle dates the sedimentary bedrock of the area to the Tertiary to Cambrian ages, with other features overlain and intermixed because of fault action and alluvial fans from nearby rivers. The geology of the slopes of Mt. Loafer has not been completely mapped, in part because the area is so heavily vegetated. The map of the Payson Lakes Quadrangle covers the same basic features.

The mountain we climbed (as well as Timpanogos Peak) is part of the Oquirrh Formation, ranging from 270 to 325 million years old, but every other reference to the limestone in the area (which is where the fossils we saw were embedded) says it dates from the Cambrian Period (570 to 500 million years old).

(By the way, while searching for a guide to help me identify these fossils, I found a book titled "Fossil Behavior Compendium," which made me laugh. My own idea about fossil behavior is that they mostly just sit there in rocks. Yeah, I know, I get it: it's about the way these organisms behaved when they were alive. Still... This book is available at for --- guess how much?!? --- $159.00.)

That's all for now. I'll keep looking and I'll ask some geologist friends if they can help me identify the fossils.

Oh, one more thing: I found information about a quarry in Utah where you can dig your own trilobites, and other fossils, including brachiopods that look very much like some other fossils I photographed. 

The post on the website read, "In a four hour dig, we found about 40 to 50 trilobites, ranging in size from microscopic to over 25 mm. We found samples of all three of the different common species including the little double ended Peronopsis. In retrospect, the quality of the loose bugs could be a bit better but we were satified with the results."

Here's a photo from the website showing a trilobite next to what they describe as a brachiopod, which looks very much like one of my other fossil photos from Mt. Loafer. What do you think?

What I think, among other things, is that I'm going to go to that quarry, next time I'm in Utah, to find some awesome fossils!

Also, I'm going to do future research in the Smithsonian's book on fossils. With nothing to try to sell me, and decades of experience and thousands of fossils on display and in storage, the Smithsonian probably will provide a more complete and useful education on the subject than any of the other books and online references I've found so far.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Taking Someone's Inventory

My favorite advice-column writer is Cary Tennis on (So sorry, Madame L!)

Here's a very insightful column he wrote recently.

The letter writer is disturbed at how her domineering and bossy boyfriend criticizes her for everything she does, even (especially) things that he himself is a total and complete slob about.

She says he "takes my inventory," which Cary explains is a slang term used in some recovery programs for the very human tendency to focus inappropriately on someone else's faults or actions rather than your own. 

Cary's answer is beautiful. He writes:

"Whether you're in some kind of recovery program or not, what I really think is that you should tell this guy to shut up about how you live your life. Tell him that comments about your sink and your clothes are unacceptable. If he comes over and says you've got dishes in the sink, tell him to go home. Don't suggest that he wash them. He can figure that out on his own. Let him offer to wash them. If he doesn't offer, just tell him to go home.

"It doesn't matter why he does it. It's just something he should stop doing. That's my advice to you: Be hardcore. If you can't get him to stop doing it, then stop seeing him."

And then he adds:

"But enough about you and your boyfriend. Let's talk about me.

"When it comes to taking other people's inventory, I am terrible. Plus I am married."

He goes on to talk about how easy it is to find fault with other people and give them unwanted advice, and how hard it is to just shut up and let them do things their own way.

So, if you're on the receiving end of all that advice, you can just tell the other person you don't need it. You don't have to figure out why they're doing it. Just let them know it's unacceptable, and if they don't like the way you do things, they can go home. Be hardcore.

I know, easy for me to say, because my husband has learned over the years that the way *I* do things *IS* the right way, so he has no reason to suggest otherwise...Yeah, right.

That's all for now. Just sharing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Saw this on Val's Facebook page, and had to share it:


Friday, August 19, 2011

Fiction Friday (August 19, 2011): Les Miserables

Les Mis: Madame L finally got to watch the musical earlier this month, and she loved it. 

"Les Miserables" of course is its real name, but Madame L thinks everyone calls it "Les Mis" because it's hard for so many American tongues, including hers, to pronounce the full French name.

Madame L first read the book (in English translation) about 15 years ago when a French-speaking associate accused her of having an incomplete education when she admitted to not knowing who little Cosette was or why she was carrying a bucket. (Here's the seventh chapter of the book, with the bucket scene.)

With sincere apologies to Victor Hugo, Madame L prefers the musical because it takes a couple of hours to watch instead of several days to read, and also because it is so brilliantly written and was so beautifully performed when she saw the national touring company's presentation earlier this month. 

(M. Hugo, Madame L hopes you'll accept her apologies when you know that she prefers most any literary work to most any novel written in any language in the 1800s and most of the first part of the 1900s.)

The musical was first produced in French, then performed in English in London in 1985. It's the longest running musical in the world and celebrated its 10,000th performance in London in 2010.

But that's not why Madame L enjoyed it. She enjoyed it for the great story (See, M. Hugo, Madame L admits it's a great story!), the truths about life, the powerful characters, the amazing music, the sets, the actors and singers, the tragedy, the comedy... 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Salem Days, 3

Mount Loafer Day!

It had been one of Ellen's goals for this year to climb this mountain, and she graciously allowed Laura and me to make the climb with her. It was a demanding but overall fun and definitely satisfying 7 hours.

It turned out that what everyone calls Mount Loafer is officially "Loafer Mountain Ridge," and includes three similar peaks. The one called Santaquin Peak is the one all the hiking guides mention.

But Loafer is slightly higher than Santaquin, and it's the one we climbed.

The 11-mile round-trip hike makes it through 3,990 feet of elevation to an elevation of 10,551 feet.

Here's the USGS map info (Birdseye Quad): 

Feature ID: 1442826
Feature Name: Loafer Mountain
Latitude/Longitude (DEC):
Latitude/Longitude (DMS):
Cell Name: Birdseye
Two days before we made the hike, Neva drove us up the Mount Nebo Loop from Payson, so we could see where the Mt. Loafer trailhead was and see some other beautiful sights, like Mt. Nebo, some red cliffs and hoodoos and columns, and lots of butterflies and birds.

One butterfly that we got a good photo of was this Quino Checkerspot:

We also learned to play "My Cow."
On the big day, the hike on Monday,we saw lots more butterflies of many species, incredibly beautiful and varied wild-flowered, and lots of pallid-winged grasshoppers (Trimerotropis pallidipennis (Burmeister). These are one of the most commonly found grasshoppers in the western U.S., and they're remarkable as adults for the way they fly up and make clacking sounds with their wings. I finally got a photo of one which had apparently just barely eclosed (crawled out of its last juvenile-stage skin into its adult, winged state), and so wasn't ready to fly away yet:

On both days we saw a little bird creeping, head-down, along tree trunk and branch. I thought it might be a nuthatch, famous for this behavior, but I'm not sure. Here's the Cornell Bird Lab's information about these cute little birds.

Near the trailhead was a beautiful little stream with water skeeters. Oh, if only the rest of the trail had been this peaceful and restful!

We saw several hawks and got glimpses and heard the cries of some smaller birds we thought were falcons. We didn't get photos of any of them, but we saw enough detail on the hawks so we thought we could identify them later. I think the hawks we saw were Swainson's Hawks, Buteo swainsoni. They were definitely Buteos (broad-tailed hawks), and we saw a lot of red coloring to them, though not in the tails. Here's a photo of a Swainson's hawk from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website:

Laura and Ellen also both got a glimpse of a rattlesnake, which, fortnately, was slithering away as we approached. We were watching for it because another hiker had warned us that it was blocking the path, coiled and ready to strike, as she approached, causing her to turn back. We were lucky that it had apparently just finished its sunning by the time we got there.

Finally as we approached the summit we could see Utah Lake down below.

And on the very last part of the climb we found some fossils, which should be easy to identify using the Utah Geological Survey's website. (But I'll do that some other day!) Here are two of the rocks with fossils:

Here are Laura and Ellen at the top, and me at the end of the hike:

Salem Days, 2

On Saturday the 13th, two other sisters had arrived, and we were up early to participate with Jim in the fun run. Here we are at the end of it:

After that, we were more than ready for the free pancake breakfast at the park at Salem Pond. We had fun on the boat ride and played with two of the cutest little kids I've ever met, and then took a look at the quilts on display.

Then we visited our older sister and had a great time chatting with her. Here she is, and here are the five of us.

Salem Days, 1

I had so much fun last weekend in Salem, thanks to my sisters and brother-in-law.

On the flight out from PDX, I saw some of the beautiful volcanoes I love so much. Here are two of them (Adams and Rainier):

I also saw the Great Salt Lake from the plane. I was hoping to go there to see the famous spiral jetty during my visit, but you can only see it when the water is below a certain level, and the USGS website with the information showed that the water was somewhat higher than that.

So instead Ellen and I visited the Bingham Canyon open pit copper mine, which was amazing. Looks like a volcano as you're approaching it:

Once inside the Rio Tinto area, this is just part of the huge open-pit mine:

That haulage truck doesn't look anywhere near as huge as it really is. This photo is taken from about 500 feet above it. When you see one of the tires, especially with two humans next to it for perspective, you get a better idea of how large the truck is.

We also saw the Oquirrh Temple, which was beautiful.