Search Lobsterland

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

So much to blog about, so little time. Since I last had any 'me' time at the computer, I've commenced consolidating households with the Poet Laureate of Lobsterland in earnest, an ordeal greater than either of us realized. Combine that with her latest grant deadline getting moved up a week, contractors converging on her/our house to do thousands of dollars in damage...uh...err...I mean insulation and energy efficiencies, and I don't know what all. Oh, and we got new phones, smart phones. Not a big deal for me, but they had trouble porting Corinna's 180 contacts and she really needed them.

During this span, too, my oldest daughter had a choir concert and my youngest had a play, and these two events were separated by less than 24 hours.

Oh, and our main assistant in moving insists on using twine to secure even the heaviest loads. He makes a spider web of it, but no amount of hemming and hawing will make him consider a more substantial tie-down. In fairness, five loads including appliances, nothing escaped his pickup bed, but my nerves were shot by the time it was over.

Good thing he had moonshine. Or a commercial facsimile thereof, for us to drink from jelly jars.

I don't know why we didn't adopt a couple of new pets, start a new job and schedule an outpatient surgery to complete the week, lest we be bored.

I didn't even realize how out of sync everything had gotten until I finally got to ride home from work Monday and then back to work Tuesday morning. I went to log my miles in the spreadsheet I dorkishly keep, and said, "What? November 30 was the last time I rode? It's half way through December for crying out loud!"

I'd been off the bike so long that 42ºF and rainy didn't bother me, and normally that's weather that makes me crave a millstone.

So anyway, dear readers, if you're still checking in to Lobster Land and wondering what the hell happened, the answer isn't the nothing you've seen lately. And I'll cop to being a bit stressed out at times but it's all going to be worth it.

On my wet ride home tonight, I stumbled across an alleycat race being run by competitors who didn't know the word 'alleycat.' They thought they were on an urban adventure or scavenger hunt or something like that. They were dressed as roadies and their bikes were roadie bikes as far as I could tell (though cyclocross bikes look like roadie bikes to my eyes), but they all had serious lights.

The moving process seemed to stimulate Mo to ramp up her oral destruction of Legos. This is something she's done as long as I can remember, but this week she was building things out of Legos she'd previously gnawed on. The effect is basically a Lego structure as it might appear after the Joplin tornado.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Recovery Happens

I took these pictures at S.I.D.E. when Corinna was dropping off her dog grooming gear. I remember the line in the movie Crazy People about 'I hate art therapy,' but maybe not.

Culturally, we have this notion that mental illness, depression, and so on are one way streets. Knowing that people can and do recover from all manner of mental illness is therapeutic. Probably more useful, in fact, than all the drugs in the pharmacy.

And S.I.D.E. is one of the places people get that knowledge and other tools that make recovery attainable.

Recovery isn't inevitable, but if you want to draw a parallel to substance abuse and addiction recovery, how many junkies and alcoholics would ever recover if they weren't told it was possible?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Temperature of Environment Lowers

Bill Poindexter put up a post about winter cycling, and this is the part cagers* have the hardest time understanding.

This time of year, I get to work and the screen on the Agfa complains about the cold in its badly translated way (I'm told it's Japanese translated to English by Belgians):

I remember leaving work one evening and a coworker saying, 'But it's starting to sprinkle!' It was also around 70ºF, perfectly comfortable weather for a wet ride.

Drop that temperature by 30ºF and comfort leaves the picture, of course. Below 50ºF and rainy is the one condition I really don't enjoy, though I have a rain suit and I do use it for those commutes. It's really only hard right when I'm starting off. Stop at QT for a refill, and I have to start again, stop at Michoacan for Mineragua and chicharrón con carne, start again.

Below freezing it quits being rain and that's fine with me. I sometimes uses chemical warmers in my boots, I have lobster claw mittens (from Mickey's Surplus—a homeless guy told me he wore ones just like it when he was in the Army doing cold weather training), a couple different balaclavas, etc.

I have TMS** anyway, but having to be prepared for changing weather had my panniers filled to capacity this time of year. A lot happens in the weather between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

It's challenging, but no more extreme or ridiculous than going skiing, ice fishing, or any other winter sport. You notice something's not warm enough, you figure out a fix for that next time.

A commuter I know told me he actually finds it harder to be motivated to ride when the weather's nice, because anyone can ride when it's 80ºF. When it's only 8ºF on the other hand...

*I use the term lightly; I'm often behind the wheel of a car carting my daughters about—more 'car light' than 'car free.' 'Cager' is a term that some bike advocates discourage on the basis that it's alienating, but when I'm sitting in gridlock on I-435 between Antioch and I-35, the car is most assuredly a cage. Or a coffin, a straitjacket, a medieval torture device, take your pick. It is no place a human should be.

**Carrying Too Much Shit on your bike.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Best Name Ever (Wanna Start a Band?)

I read a piece in the paper a couple of days ago about a captive breeding program for an endangered species of salamander. I probably wouldn't have finished the article, really, except I was fascinated by the size and name of the creature. It's called an Ozark Hellbender, and they get to be two feet long (they're the third largest salamander in the world).

Photo by Brian Gratwicke

I've never seen anything like it in the wild, which would stand to reason since I'm slightly outside their range, not that woodsy to begin with, and they're an endangered species. Apparently the soak up a lot of heavy metals and whatnot, making them a 'canary in the mine' for the watersheds they call home.

But it gets better. If I thought 'Hellbender' was a cool name, and thought, isn't there a band by that name? the Kansas City Scar article mentioned an alias they are also known by.

Wait for it...


I can't make this stuff up (they ooze even more slime when they're threatened). Is that a bad-ass name or what? I instantly wanted one of my own as a pet. And what a fantastic band name it would make!

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, one night only, the musical stylings of the Snot Otters!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Deck the Dog

We were putting up Christmas decorations and somehow the dog got all jingle-belled.