Thursday, November 27, 2008

Howling Houses

Maybe it's time for a new apartment.

This apartment is small, old, very uninsulated, has only street parking (which makes our car a perfect target for eggs), and has taking up a repetitive mournful howling.

Normally this howling is bearable. However, this time, the house decided to start at 5:45 in the morning. This howling is loud enough to be easily heard even outside the house, a deep foghorn voice that makes the floors vibrate. It happens at one-minute intervals and the whole series lasts approximately the amount of time it took for water to carve the Grand Canyon.

Incidentally, it's water that causes it. We can actually recreate the noise by turning on the cold-water faucet of our bathtub. If you turn the knob just a little, no water comes out, but the pipes start vibrating and a mournful yodel deafens everyone in a two-block radius. Crank it up a little more, or turn on the shower, and you'll finally get the requested water.

Due to the nature of the beast, I figured it was one of our four-plexian neighbors running a dishwasher or something (at 5:45 in the morning...) but a desperate escape from the house followed by a circumnavigation showed our neighbors' windows to still be dark. In the morning (alright, it's technically morning, but in the REAL morning, when I SHOULD be getting up on a holiday, after staying up late the night before) I will actually knock on our neighbors' doors and ask if they have decided to take a four-hour series of one-minute cold showers at 5:45 in the morning. If not, Child and I might be moving to Draper a month or two before we planned on it.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Is Better the Best?

In the good ol' days, it was easy. Good or Evil: pick one.

Nowadays, it's choose from the following: Good, Better, Somewhat Good, Mostly Good, A Little Better, Probably Not The Best, Better Than The Last One, Good Except For That One Part, Decent, Probably Bad, Obviously Bad, and a dozen more shades in-between.

All these choices and the sometimes fine distinction between them can make it difficult--if not nearly impossible to choose. However, almost as bad as making no choice is choosing one and not continuing to look for a better one. Those people take a short-sighted view. "I already made a good choice, so there can't be a better one." Or, "I already made a good choice, so why should I bother looking for a better one?"

"I make enough money in my minimum-wage job to pay for cigarettes, so why should I bother looking for a better job?"

"I learned enough in high school to pass my driver's ed and get a slightly-better-than-minimum-wage-paying job, so why should I continue my education?"

"My boyfriend doesn't beat me, and he doesn't cheat on me very often, so why should I look for a different boyfriend?"

"I've already loudly proclaimed my political opinion to anyone who couldn't escape, so why should I consider that I might be wrong?"

"My church teaches good principles, so why should I consider that there might be even more good principles?"

There is more knowledge on Earth than anyone can learn, more experiences than anyone can experience, and an incredibly limited amount of time. Choose what you learn and what you experience wisely.

Simply Selfish

Henry David Thoreau famously said, "Simplify, simplify." I've always wondered why he didn't simplify that to a single "Simplify," but our lesson in church today got me thinking of something else.

While simplification is an admiral goal, and one I've tried to follow with regards to material possessions, if taken to an extreme, it can be a very selfish course of action.

Want a simple, selfish life? Don't get married. Don't have kids. Don't have friends. Don't get involved in other people's problems. Always put yourself first. Don't stand up for anything, and for heaven's (which you don't believe in) sake, don't believe in anything.

Of course, you'll never know unconditional love, true joy, inner peace regardless of circumstances, the happiness from serving others, or anything else like that, but at least you'll have a simple life, right?

Pandora's Box

Last month, I went canyoneering through Pandora's Box in the Capital Reef area. Unfortunately, my long-time companion of three or so years of canyoneering finally bit the dust--or to be more precise, the sand. I was worming through a narrow crack and thoughtlessly left my camera case open. When I came out the other end, the case was full of sand and the camera was making funny noises. Shortly thereafter, it died a clicking death.

But I finally have a new camera! Almost identical to the old one, except with 1x more zoom (3x instead of 2x). This also means that I can finally plug in the memory card from the first half of the trip and get the pictures off it. Now, for your viewing pleasure...

Yes, these pictures are in reverse order. That's the way Blogger/I uploaded them, and I'm too lazy to reorder all 8.

This picture is halfway through the canyon. There were some sections that were very slot-y, but this was one of the more open ones. It still had some interesting rock designs, though.

I just liked the way this tree showed through the crack in the rocks.

This is actually the beginning of the slot part of the canyon. There was a little water at the bottom of the rappel, so we were switching from our hiking shoes to our canyoneering shoes.

Ironically, to get to the canyon, we had to climb to the top of a plateau. Here's a picture at the top.

This is what we had to climb to get to the top of the plateau. Before you get too impressed, people actually drive cows up it. It's hard to see, but there is a narrow trail--regardless, getting cows up it had to be an impressive feat. From a few bones halfway up, it was also apparently a non-perfect feat.

Going back in time, here is a picture from below the mesa. It was incredibly beautiful, which unfortunately doesn't come out in the pictures. As a matter of fact, I remarked to my friend that places like this was why pictures can never replace actually experiencing something. The scattering of stubby trees, loose boulders, crisp mountain air, amazing view...

And here is the view from the mesa.

There was a pretty long approach hike, so we started when it was still dark. It was beautiful seeing the sun come up over the mesa.

Friday, November 07, 2008


For all her surprising friendship with our neighbor's three dogs, Acouchi still does not like other cats.

We let Acouchi out the morning for a few minutes under close supervision. She eventually made her way to the backyard, realizing half-way there that she was being stalked by one of Bell's babies--now pretty much full-grown but still smaller than Acouchi (Acouchi is a good-sized cat).

At first it didn't worry Acouchi too much, but as the black cat continued to follow her, Acouchi finally stopped and had a staring match with him. Unfortunately, due to this staring match, she was unaware of a second cat sneaking up on her from the rear until the other cat had almost reached her. Acouchi finally heard the second cat and spun around, then realized she was surrounded. She hissed in several directions, then booked it back to our door.

Moments later, of course, she was back at the door wanting to go back out. Child and I decided to give her a bath, partly because she needed one, and partly because we hoped she would associate it with the outdoors and stop constantly whining to go out. She was not pleased with the bath, and spent the better part of the morning scowling at us.

Her day got worse. In the afternoon, Child brought over a kitten we are going to catsit for several days. If there's one thing Acouchi hates, more than dogs, more than full-grown cats, it's kittens. Acouchi hissed up a storm before fleeing to the bedroom, where I took her a chunk of cheese to apologize for bringing an intruder into her space.

Acouchi deigned to eat the cheese and I took her to our living room where Sushi was, and put her on top of a large box, out of Sushi's reach. She sat there and glowered at Sushi until Sushi fell asleep, then jumped down and ate Sushi's food. That accomplished, she crept up on Sushi but Sushi woke up, a crime apparently punishable by severe hissing and spitting. Sushi was still a little groggy and wasn't sure what was going on, and I told Acouchi to lay off. She jumped up on my desk in a huff and started shedding hair into my computer's fan, hoping to fry it like my last laptop, until I got her favorite cat toy and spritzed it with catnip to placate her. That granted me a few minutes of forgiveness, and both she and Sushi are now asleep. We'll see how the next few days go...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Child and I voted.

How do you vote in the Presidential Election and not vote for a president?

We also went to Krispy Kreme and got a free donut for having an "I Voted" sticker. Not for voting, because apparently that's bad, but for having the sticker.

NaNoWriMo Update

Well, NaNoWriMo is still going. I think today will be the first time (this is the third attempt) that I've completed five consecutive days. (I started a day early because the website where I'm posting my text started displaying a word a minute starting the first minute of the first day. If that made sense.)

Granted, I cheated a little--yesterday I was able to steal a few hundred words from the short story that I'm basing my novel on. Regardless, my novel is up to 8007 words now.

On a different note, I still have pictures from my last canyoneering trip sitting on a memory card. My camera died on that trip (my fault, I crawled through a crack with the camera case open and the camera tried to eat some sand). My laptop has a built-in card reader, but unfortunately Ubuntu can't or I don't know how to get it to recognize it. Although I like Ubuntu and the idea of a free operating system over Windows and all of Microsoft's dirty business tactics, I'm no zealot and don't mind saying that there are a few inconveniences that you have to put up with.

I COULD just buy a USB card reader, but I need to buy a new digital camera, which would negate the need for separate card reader. After looking at new cameras, I decided that I didn't want a new camera for two main reasons.

One, I can get a used one for a quarter of the price.

Two, at 3.2 megapixels, my old camera's pictures were plenty large and clear. If I got a new 8 or 10 MP camera, I would only gain the ability to blow my pictures up to GIANT poster-size instead of REGULAR poster-size, and each picture would take up three times the space on my harddrive.

Well, to be fair, with a new camera I'd probably get a little more zoom, and possibly slightly better video-taking abilities, but it's still not worth the extra price and increased filesize. Who knows. If I don't manage to win an Ebay auction in a few days, I might cave in and buy the new video recorder/camera I was looking for at Walmart.

Update: won the auction. Camera coming soon! When it does, I'll post pictures of the canyoneering trip.