sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

January 31, 2006

new books
posted by soe 11:58 pm

I thought I’d add a new end-of-the-month feature where I share my recent book acquisitions. Some months that will be very light. Other months — particularly months when I attend book-related conferences — will be heavier.

January is a “heavy” book month because I attend the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting during it. Somehow I managed to acquire 11 books this month. Now I just need to come up with someplace to put them… (more…)

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January 30, 2006

didn’t we hire these guys because they were going to be “efficient”?
posted by soe 1:47 pm

When I read on CNN that FEMA refused federal government offers of help, it boggles the mind and makes me question why we even have a Homeland Security Department.

Somewhere I recall this being suggested post-9/11, that we needed to consolidate government agencies under one group so they would be able to work better, preventing serious gaps in national security.

“Although we attempted to provide these assets, we were unable to efficiently integrate and deploy these resources,” an Interior Department official wrote the Senate committee investigating the government’s response to Katrina.

What was so hard to integrate? Were they sending down unnecessary items? No. According to CNN, FEMA turned down aircraft, boats, and federal law enforcement officers, among other things.

So if FEMA, under the auspices of Homeland Security, refuses offers of assistance from Interior, how are we to believe that other HS agencies aren’t also turning down offers of help — like tips about terrorist threats or airport concerns?

It’s remarkably frustrating to see government waste in the most inocuous of instances. In cases like this, where it cost human lives, it’s irreconcilable.

May changes be made and made quickly.

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the flintstone philosophy
posted by soe 12:12 pm

I think it was my college roommate, Eri, who came up with the Flintstone philosophy.

Our friend Rebs and I proved a bit more melancholy than she would have preferred (frankly, we were more melancholy than we would have preferred, too), so instead of advice, she dispensed Flintstone vitamins. If she couldn’t replenish our souls, at least she could keep our vitamin levels up.

At some point, a hierarchy developed. Purple was the best color. Orange, the worst. Dino, the best character. The car — who makes a car a character? — was the worst.

So if you ended up with an orange car vitamin, clearly you were excused for the day from responsibility for poor paper grades, oily peanut butter in the dining hall, and dropping your toothbrush on the floor.

A purple Dino, however? You were guaranteed sunshine, a full mailbox, and glowing comments from your favorite professor.

All the rest of the vitamins were somewhere in between, giving you a run-of-the-mill day.

Luckily, the Flintstone vitamin makers have discontinued the car-shaped vitamin. They clearly agreed that no one deserved to drop their toothbrush on the floor.

I’m not sure if Eri has decided on a new bottom-of-the-barrel vitamin, and I don’t ask, just in case she has. I don’t want to know.

But I keep in mind that purple Dinos will bring me luck, prosperity, and beauty when I happen upon them.

Why am I sharing this today? you ask.

Because today is a purple Dino day. On a Monday no less.

And, somehow, it is, actually. Instead of being cloudy and chilly today, the way the forecasters predicted, it dawned clear and sunny and warm. Our dripping faucet is being replaced today. I remembered to wash the floor, clear the counters, and empty the trash before I left home. I liked the first outfit I put on. The homemade breakfast pudding I didn’t care for warm yesterday is quite good cold with cinnamon today. I’m enjoying the book I’m reading. My iPod battery is still fully charged. There is money in my purse and Sweet Tart hearts in my candy dish.

Sure, some of those things would still have happened if a red Pebbles had fallen into my outstretched hand this morning.

But some of them probably wouldn’t have. And maybe I wouldn’t have been looking for them, allowing them to fade into the pleasant oblivion of the background unnoticed and unappreciated.

So, thanks, purple Dino, for handing me a nice day and making me truly see it.

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it’s a sunshine day
posted by soe 12:50 am

I awoke Saturday morning a little bit cranky and unready to face the day. Sure, we had tickets to go see Butterstick, but it was the weekend and I thought I ought to get to sleep in a bit more.

But Rudi was stirring impatiently and Susan was meeting us at the zoo, so I decided I’d better get a move on.

And thank goodness I did.

We called Susan as we were sprinting to the Metro. Luckily Susan shares a similar sense of timeliness with us, so she wasn’t yet pacing at the Zoo’s entrance.

Just missing our train, we raced back up the Dupont escalator stairs and up Connecticut Avenue. We made it about three blocks before finding a cab to hop in, pulling up to the zoo’s entrance with moments to spare.

We walked right into the Panda Exhibit and were ushered up to the new observation deck.

Unfortunately Butterstick, Mama, and Papa were all asleep.

I could understand — it was easily 65 degrees in the sun. A snooze seemed like a great idea to me, too.

So we watched them all sleep for a while and then wandered off. Three elephants — including a toddler — and a giraffe joined us in mutual admiration — and goofing off. One of the elephants decided to shove some hay in another’s eye. The giraffe stared down some pranksters who were rustling the bamboo. An elephant trumpeted.

We decided to seek out the camels — my college mascot — and were instead greeted by a wild Mongolian horse. The zookeepers lured him out of his far pen by offering him treats in a dog-toy-like contraption where the horse had to bat the toy around in order to get the treats inside. The horse showed them who was the boss by nosing it back to the inner pen.

By this time, Phillip — who hadn’t been able to join us earlier in the morning — caught up with us and we wandered back to the Panda Café area where you could see the panda enclosures without having timed tickets. We were in luck. It was clearly getting toward lunchtime, because Mama Panda was up and wandering around. She kept doing loops between the inner enclosure and the outside — presumably wanting to keep an eye on Butterstick who was still asleep in his tub. Then Papa got up too. He found an apple and happily crunched on that. Then he plopped himself down in his pond. Then he climbed a tree. There’s nothing quite so surprising as seeing a panda a story up in a tree. I was looking for him to be about five feet up, and instead he seemed to be about a dozen feet above the ground!

(In case you’re wondering, while Papa has easy access to trees and a pond, Mama’s side of the enclosure has been baby-proofed. The pond has been drained, and the trees all have a five-foot metal tube around the trunks to prevent jumping and climbing. Papa’s display was a clear caution as to why this could be necessary.)

The keepers came out to bring Mama some fresh bamboo (which is trucked in from a farm in Maryland) and to waken Butterstick. He had been groggily poking his head up from his bucket periodically, but was unwilling to climb out and play. So the keeper unceremoniously dumped him out, laboriously picked him up (he’s getting heavy!), and pointed him toward the fresh bamboo. He begrudgingly clambered up to the pile of bamboo, where Mama joined him and cuddled him briefly. She then set about the serious task of eating, while Butterstick nestled up next to the fence, where he sucked on a stalk contentedly for quite a while.

We left via the zebra, gazelle, and cheetah walk. The cheetahs Rudi and I first saw last February have grown substantially — one was intentedly watching his meaty neighbors. We also met a zoo police officer, who regaled us with humorous zoo stories about errant deer, viper nappers, and ape escapes, as well as the odd story about his days on the Metro police force.

We ended the afternoon with a tasty lunch at Open City in Woodley Park before parting ways and loping home in the waning sunbeams.

I think I’ll go for a walk outside now —
The summer sun’s calling my name.
I just can’t stay inside all day;
I gotta get out get me some of those rays.
Everybody’s smiling.
Sunshine day!
Everybody’s laughing.
Sunshine day!
Everybody seems so happy today —
It’s a sunshine day.

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January 27, 2006

feeling alive again
posted by soe 11:03 am

This morning is the first morning since I got home when I haven’t had the need to go back to sleep after getting up.

I mean, sure, if I hadn’t had to go to work, would I have curled up with a cat or two for another forty winks? Quite possibly.

But I didn’t fall back asleep despite my best intentions.

I got up, ate breakfast, washed a load of dishes. You know, productive things.

This may not seem like something worth noting, but it really is.

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January 26, 2006

milky tea, good draft, and Crayola blue
posted by soe 11:41 pm

I can’t seem to keep track of days this week. Here are three beautiful things from the past seven days:

1. It’s nice to be home where although not everyone puts milk in their tea, they have heard of the concept and ask if you want room left when they pour it for you at coffee shops.

2. While I was away, Rudi drafted our baseball season tickets. He did a great job — we’re going to see the Mets three times, an afternoon game in April, and some other fun games. I can’t wait.

3. When I left work tonight just before six, the sky was still a deep, dark shade of blue. I marvelled at it as I walked along, trying to figure out what color Crayola it would match. Eventually, it hit me — midnight blue. It was gorgeous — and a nice reminder that it won’t be too long before the sun is still out when I head home.

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