Monthly Archives: February 2006

A monocotyledonous genus in the Asphodelaceae family, native to New Zealand and South Africa

There was a day, long ago, when Becky and I were suddenly prompted by certain personal events — the nature of which you can very likely figure out for yourself — to discuss our preferences of names for a hypothetical baby. It was something we hadn’t discussed before in five or six years of cohabitation. This was a luxury possible for most heterosexual couples younger than 40 only since the latter half of the Twentieth Century, and don’t think we didn’t appreciate that fact. We still do.

I told Becky that I liked the idea of having male triplets, and naming them Jeffrey, Douglas, and Joshua, middle names Pine, Fir, and Tree respectively. This earned me a Look.

Once I had assured her that I was only joking, lying through my teeth in the process, Becky did allow as how she thought a botanical name would be a nice choice for a girl. I heartily concurred, and took my copy of Hortus Third, closed my eyes, opened it at random and put my finger on a page, then opened my eyes to see what name I’d chosen.

It was Bulbinella. Becky and I looked at each other for a long moment.

Two days later, baby names were no longer an issue. We breathed a sigh of relief which we occasionally re-enact to this day.

For a while afterward I’d imagine a blastocyst listening in on our conversation, recoiling in horror at the notion of going through life with that name, swimming up to the big “Eject” button next to the left fallopian tube, and kicking it hard.

Welcome CounterPunch readers!

And many thanks to Jeffrey StClair for choosing this as website of the day. I write about a number of subjects here, from politics to natural history to walking my dog. I resist pigeonholing. ¡Imaginación s√≠, clasificación no!

Knowing CounterPunch’s core demographic as I do, I suspect many of you might find this post on David Horowitz and these two posts on the Democratic Party of interest and potential amusement. Or just search on “Cheney” or “Democrats” or “George Miller” in the little box to the right.

Look around, put your feet up, make yourself at home.

A Grateful Koufax Best Commenter 2005 and Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine Nominee

Hello Wampum readers!

Thanks for stopping by in response to the set of nominations for The 2005 Koufax Award for Best Commenter. To tell the truth, I’m a little surprised at the nomination: I’m often rude, sarcastic and abrasive in comments at other people’s blogs.* I’m very flattered nonetheless.

The thing is, most of the comments I consider my best -as well as the ones I consider my most rude, sarcastic, and abrasive -aren’t on this blog, but sprinkled throughout the blog world. And I certainly don’t keep a database of them. So how are you, the voters in the pending Koufax commenter award, supposed to gauge just how vigorously you need to avoid voting for me?

Fortunately, I have a solution. Comment number 110 in this thread at Michael Bérubé‘s blog is about the best comment I made in 2005. Many of the rest are drive-by snarky one-liners. So if you don’t find it worth your vote, you can assume no other comment of mine is worth voting for either. I’m all about the efficiency.

* I know that’s why PZ likes my comments, but most of the world is more genteel than he and I are.


Last night Zeke walked ten miles with me down sleeping streets. I was headed for the truck, which I had parked at the BART station, and how could I refuse him? He begged to come along so prettily, his tail wagging hard. Down San Pablo Avenue toward El Cerrito we trotted, and it was hard to keep up. His ears stood erect, eyes dark and shining. A few years back he could leap four feet in the air from a crouch, and it was hard to keep him off the picnic table if other dogs were near. He leapt like that again last night, prancing the tops of retaining walls sure-footed. I tired before he did. It felt good, the leash taut in front of me again. No trembling legs went out from under him behind. He flinched happily at my slightest murmur. He moved to cross a street against a light: I cleared my throat softly the way I used to and he obeyed, waiting until I said “cross.”

A squirrel ranged too far from the trees in a pocket park. Zeke strained at the leash and barked, a clear loud bark unmuted by aging vocal chords. I grinned, and laughed, and he barked again, more muffled. I opened my eyes. He lay next to our bed, barking joyous through closed mouth at a dreamt squirrel or cat, his feet flicking as he ran the streets of our dreaming.

Walk in rain

Camissonia ovata

Call it 3.6 miles. Six miles fewer than we’d planned and 1920 fewer feet climbed, but the weather looked ominous. The paper warned of high winds and trees falling. The doppler radar showed a broad stripe of bright orange just off the coast from Eureka to Paso Robles. I’ve walked eight miles in pouring rain before and been quite comfortable in my pile clothes, but the falling limbs idea was daunting. So we went to Point Pinole instead. Two miles out to the point and back, a stop midway to stand in the rain and eat ham sandwiches.

A gray wet haze hung over the Bay. Marin’s ridgelines reduced to silhouettes. Tankers drifted past en route up-river.  We stood atop a crumbling cliff fifty feet above the shore.

Frogs sang at the freshwater pond in mid-peninsula, its winter tules thick and green. There is a stretch of trail at Point Pinole, a field backed by a stand of eucalyptus, that reminds me of the first dirt roads I walked, the trails behind my uncle’s farms that I will not see again.

Del Puerto Bison

[Here’s a piece I wrote in Autumn 2000 after visiting a bison ranch in Del Puerto Canyon, east of San Jose. I rode out into the bison area with Sue Byars, the rancher, was mightily impressed with the dignity and restrained ferocity of the critters… and then bought part of one from her and ate it all up. Ah, nuance.]

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Welcome to the new Creek Running North

Look around, kick the tires, lemme know what you think looks weird or wonky. If you want to register as a member to save yourself time writing your name and URL in each comment, you can use the “register” link at the top of the right sidebar.

There are a few things I want to fix as soon as I get more familiar with the template tags Expression Engine uses—such as links between adjacent entries so that you won’t need to click back to the main site all the time—and some things that I’m gonna have to correct ASAP, like a couple typos in the hard-coded messages generated by the software, so that you don’t think I’m the one who told you that you’ve been “appproved” for the email list.

User Interface Alert

This blog may look a little different over the next few days as I switch over to Expression Engine from Movable Type. At least for a little while, you may be faced with a boring default design which will no doubt be far better than the previous inexpert design. Or maybe you won’t even be able to read this. Who knows? I appreciate your patience.


Sometime tonight or tomorrow, this blog will welcome its 300,000th visitor since May 2003. This is an appealingly round number for those of us using number systems developed by ten-fingered species, and is almost four hours worth of Atrios’ traffic.

Of course, a far more interesting number comes a day or two later with the 300,763rd visitor, as 300,763 is the cube of the prime number 67. I’d try to be visitor number 300,763 if I were you.

And thanks for visiting: you guys are part of what makes life worth living. You know, in addition to all the wildlife and family and love and dog-walking stuff.

All you musicians can take your day jobs back

Because Soul Flower Mononoke Summit has recorded a Japanese-Klezmer version of The Internationale, and there are thus no creative realms left to conquer.

My Japanese is so rusty that it’s a just a big pile of red dust where I left my Japanese out in the yard 30 years ago, but I’m pretty sure they sing all the verses.

Via Lucy Kemnitzer in comments at Making Light.