Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Desert? What Desert?

A very wet winter has left the Sonoran Desert very colorful, as is evident in our very own yard. Our borrowed little patch of Tucson spends most of the time tan and brown, but now it's green, yellow, purple, orange, and more. It's amazing how all this color was just lying in wait for the rain to summon it up.

I love early springtime in the desert.
Our Yard
The cacti feel surrounded and outnumbered....
Our Yard

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rad Tumblrs

, originally uploaded by Old Chum.
Tumblr is a customizable blogging platform that is easily modifiable and allows for quick posting. While traditional blogging is possible on Tumblr, like the type you generally see on Wordpress or Blogger, many Tumblr users blog differently. On Tumblr, people post photographs related to certain theme and repost one another endlessly, creating an intricate network of thematically unique, yet interrelated, sites. My own Tumblr, makingowlscool.tumblr.com, features the photos I post on MOCS1986.com and other interesting things I see posted on Tumblr, Flickr, or elsewhere. I tend to post landscapes.

Some Tumblrs have become fairly famous like My Parents Were Awesome or The Impossible Cool. I thought I'd take a minute to share my favorite blogs hosted on Tumblr.

 OLD CHUM - Old Chum is updated just about everyday with a new set of amazing pictures. Common themes vintage outdoors photos, arts and crafts, novelties, or images of First Nations people. If you've never checked out Old Chum, prepare to spend some serious time clicking back through pages and pages of really great photos. The photo at the top of this post comes from Old Chum

 S O ▲ S W E A T Y - So Sweaty features mainly vintage outdoor equipment and photography. It's maintained by Geoffrey Holstad, who has another cool blog under his own name. Check it out.

Hey y'Owls! - Lots of photos of owls = Awesome. It's done by a photographer from Montreal named JRaff.

Cosmic Dust - Lots of rad images of the southwest. Not sure exactly how to classify the theme, but lets just say that hippies and gypsies would frequently recognize themselves here.  The same person keeps Nomadic Sun, which is also really cool. 

The Old Coyote - Fairly similar to Cosmic Dust in theme; lots of great southwestern stuff. Definitely worth checking out.

There are many other Tumblr blogs I follow because Tumblr has a great interface for networking their blogs. One final word about Tumblr (and perhaps a plea...). There's a "fuck yeah" theme in which people make Tumblr blogs that celebrate one theme, such as Fuck Yeah, Thoreau, Fuck Yeah, German Shepherds, and Fuck Yeah, the Universe. Unfortunately, someone has taken Fuck Yeah, Arizona and is not using it. Right now it's a stupid Photoshopped "Titanic" movie poster. I want Fuck Yeah, Arizona. If, in the infinite improbability that the person who has that Tumblr name should ever see this, please give it to me. Thank you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Homesick Yankee Ramblings Part 3 - The Mohawk Trail

With all the rain and wildflowers out here in the desert, I got to thinking about taking the truck down the Apache Trail to see what's happening. From there my mind wandered back east, homeward, to Massachusetts and the Mohawk trail. There are innumerable scenic routes throughout the country named after Native Americans; the Apache Trail just east of Phoenix and then there's the Navajo Trail in the Four Corners area. The Mohawk Trail is a former Native American trade route in western Massachusetts that has become a famous scenic drive from Orange to Williamstown. One of the many notable features of the ride is this hairpin turn, but it follows a serpentine path for 65 miles.
hairpin reverse
This postcard, sent in 1929, is one of my most challenging paleographic experiments. I think it reads:
"Sun and fine snow up here. I like N. Adams very much. I went to K.P. Thursday night also long Sunday. Received fine reception. We are having a lot of cloudy weather weather (sic) I am right side of Mt. Greylock. Wish you all Happy New Year. H.P."
Sent to: Mr. & Mrs. Fred Gardner
            Court St.
            Whitman, Mass
Big Turn Mohawk trail
Here's a great slide show with more photographs of more old Mohawk Trail Postcards and a rad book from 1875 entitled The Mohawk Trail; It's History and Course.

I'll get back that way sometime I suppose. I remember driving my red clunker Volvo on the Mohawk Trail, trying to coax it up the hills and the breaks screeching as I went down and the smell of the brakes burning. We moved out here and had a parallel experience as the truck's brakes smoldered down the Apache Trail - perhaps I'm the wrong person to advise driving these routes, but I maintain that you should get your brakes checked and go for one of these rides.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Ride Through New Mexico

I attended a conference in Albuquerque, NM last week and took the opportunity to take some photos along the way. I'm still experimenting with panoramic photos stitched together in Photoshop. I took I-10 to NM 26 to I-25 and my favorite spot I stopped to take photos were the Bernado and La Joya Waterfowl Areas, which are part of the Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex. The photo above was taken there and is best viewed on a larger size. I also stopped in Hatch, the chili pepper capital of the world, and Truth and Consequences, because who wouldn't want to stop in a town called Truth and Consequences?
new mexico field
road and sky New Mexico
I also kind of like this panorama I took from a rest stop. If you view it large, you can see a huge flock of ravens on the left hand side. They eventually flew right over me. I don't know how many there were, but it must have been dozens. I like this rest stop picnic huts too.
NM rest stop panorama
NM rest stop

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"August From July" at "Prick of the Spindle"

My short story, "August From July" is in Prick of the Spindle 4.1. I'm really very excited about it, so head over there and check it out. I'd love to hear what you think; feel free to leave comments on this post. Oh, and while you're there, read my buddy Ari Sen's story, "The Storyteller of Ulaphet," that appeared in Prick of the Spindle 3.1 last year. I love that story and I bet you will too.

Friday, March 19, 2010

“Uxbridge, or, The Rural Survival Guide to Overcoming Sublime Realizations of Meaninglessness”

Uxbridge Town Common, originally uploaded by Svadilfari.
When I sat down in front of my computer just now I intended to do some work, but instead I Googled myself. Apparently, there are some other folks with my name who are cooler, more successful, and better looking. Who knew? What I did find was this old story I published in my college creative non-fiction journal, Thoreau's Rooster. It's called “Uxbridge, or, The Rural Survival Guide to Overcoming Sublime Realizations of Meaninglessness” and it's supposed to be a joke about the small town I grew up in and small town life. I'm pretty sure I have another snarky story about Bar Harbor, Maine I'll post if I can find it.

Looking at this story over eight years later, I realize that it's unnecessarily cynical and, therefore, quite flawed. But not so flawed that I'm ashamed to have people read it, provided they read these few inoculative statements first:
1. My disillusionment with small town New England is gone. In fact, I bet it's about as good a place to live as anywhere.
2. My buddy, Veau, comes across as a bit of a simpleton and townie. He's neither. He's a really cool dude with great taste and he now lives outside Los Angeles.
3. I seem to believe that caring about the place where you live is meaningless to the point of negating the value of life. Wow. I now admire people who care about their community, get involved, and form the interpersonal relationships that make a place a home.
4. I'm off cigarettes (4 years), pizza, and mozzarella sticks (3 years).

So, take it for what it is. You might relate. You might think it's funny. You might think it sucks. But keep in mind that I'm really very fond of Uxbridge. It's home.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mt. Kimball via Finger Rock Trail

On Monday I set out up Mount Kimball via the Finger Rock Trail. This picture here is a panorama and is best viewed on a larger size. The trail is steep as hell, but the view at the top is pretty spectacular. You gain 4250 feet of elevation in just over five miles. I can see Mt. Kimball and Finger Rock from my living room window, but what I couldn't see was all the snow still lingering in the ground in the shade of the trees!
Below is Mt. Kimball's summit. The snow capped mountain in the background is Tanque Verde Peak in Saguaro National Park.
finger rock trail 016
Of course, I knew there was still a lot of snow on Mt. Lemmon. Mt. Kimball's summit is at about 7000 feet, about 2000 feet lower than Mt. Lemmon, but the view of the Mt. Lemmon from atop Mt. Kimball is pretty damn cool.
mt lemmon 1
Here's another panorama from near Linda Vista Saddle, about two miles before you reach the summit of Mt. Kimball. I make these panoramas by stitching multiple photos together in Photoshop. Again, it's best viewed large.
near linda vista
While at the top, these ravens kept swooping up from below me, soaring out away from the mountain and then back in. They would fly way up and then dive fast, below the mountain and out of sight.
raven 3
raven 2
raven 1

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Quail Adopts Family

This is was on AZCentral today. I wish a quail would adopt us, but I bet our kitties would have other plans.

Energy Bars and Gender Politics (a.k.a. Luna Bars are Tasty)

Robby Roadsteamer is a comedian and musician from Boston. While playing "The Legend of Zelda" with his friend Aaron, Robby presents a snack to Aaron stating, "You've got your choice of Luna Bars...Chocolate Pecan Pie or Chai tea." Aaron, insulted, venomously responds, "What the fuck are you giving me these fucking bitch bars for?"

While I don't endorse Aaron's misogynistic fury, I have also bought into the marketing move that says Luna Bars are only for women.  The Luna website states, "Created by and for women, LUNA bars were the first bar just for us, with the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to stay healthy. Wholesome nourishment and delicious indulgence, they are all-natural, 70% organic and just plain yummy!" For some reason, I took this to mean that men should not eat Luna Bars. Why? Well, that's basically what Luna tells you. 

Then, the other day, Erin convinced me to try some of her "Nutz Over Chocolate" Luna Bar. Verdict? Delicious. This made me start wondering, why can't I eat Luna Bars? Will I develop breasts? Will my voice move up an octave? What was I afraid of?

I read the nutritional information of a Luna Bar and compared it to a Clif Bar. The Luna Bar has more saturated fat and slightly fewer vitamins and minerals, but, surprisingly, estrogen was not on the list. So, now I eat them. Not only is it liberating, it also opens up many new vegan options for energy bars. Eat up, dudes.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Destiny of Cats

What sort of philosophers are we, who know absolutely nothing about the origin and destiny of cats? - Henry David Thoreau

ish on keyboard

According to Thoreau, we might not know the destiny of cats, but I'm pretty certain that knowing Ishmael's destiny would reveal something about my own. And, based on yesterday's visit to the vet, I hope that's true. After his terrible episode of kidney failure over a month ago, yesterday's blood test at the vet showed that Ishmael's levels are nearly back to normal. Considering how high they were, the drop is unprecedented and really astounding. The vet said she had never seen a cat with such high levels live, let alone recover to near normalcy. We can cut down on his medicine and he now only gets subcutaneous fluids twice a week. He's more energetic than he's been in months. Only his medical routine and shaved forelegs remind us of his sickness. I feel truly happy when I look at him, even when he's preventing me from doing my work.

My brother bought me the photo at the top. The back says the cats' names are "Buff, Juno, and Sappho." Apparently, Buff and Juno are not Sappho's muses...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Objectsphere - (Owl Edition)

A while back I wrote a post about my "objectsphere." The idea of the objectsphere comes from an article ("Mrs. Delany and the Objectsphere") I read about ceramic by Jo Dahn. The idea is that we're intimately connected to the objects we own and they aren't just things we manipulate, but they also modify our actions. In my previous post, I wrote about my backpacking gear; this time around I'll focus on our owl collection. I'll include a little bit of a background or a story with each owl.

I think it's pretty clear that I like owls. And while it's debatable as to whether or not I'm making them cool, my enthusiasm should be beyond question. If it's not, then this post will put skepticism to rest. The photo at the top is an image of a John Audubon print of a barred owl and a squirrel that I bought at an antique store here in Tucson. I actually have a tattoo of this owl on my right arm, which was done by Andrew at Renaissance Tattoo(Andrew's now at Iron Hand Tattoo) in Rhode Island, so I was pretty excited when I found it.
 owls 001
yarn owl
We found these two owls (above) at the Salvation Army in Worcester, Massachusetts several years ago. The second one is actually made of yarn stretched around nails. It's cool, but collects a lot of cat fur.
potbelly owl
I got this little owl as a present from my in-laws. It's head come off so you can hide small objects inside. There's a lot of anthropological work done on object circulation and gifting, and, as you'll see, a few of our owls were gifts. The little ceramic animals to the right are from Red Rose Tea.
indian owl
We bought this small brass owl at the National Emporium in Calcutta, India. Each store in the Emporium presents artisans from a particular state. Our stuff got mixed up in our luggage so I don't remember which state it was from. We stayed with our friend Ari's family in Calcutta and I must say that his mother has an owl collection that puts ours to shame.
pepper grinder owl
This wooden owls is actually made by a Native America artisan in Mexico to grind peppercorns. We bought it in Tucson.
rabbit fur owl
Here is perhaps our cheapest owl. It's made of rabbit fur and we bought it in Chinatown in San Francisco. He used to live in Erin's cubicle when she worked somewhere that involved cubicles. We try not to think about our cubicle days. The owls sit on a shelf next to this skunk skull. Not sure I remember where I got the skull, but it probably came from E-bay.
owl in owl 1
owl in owl 2
Perhaps this should count as two owls. We also bought this one at the National Emporium in Calcutta. If you look closely at the second picture you'll see that there's another little owl carved inside the stomach of the big owl.
ivory owl 1
ivory owls 2
The picture doesn't indicate scale well, but this ivory owls is tiny. It was a gift from my brother, Sean.
jemez owl
We bought this one at the Grand Canyon, but it's actually made by Pueblo Indians in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico. They make all their pottery without using a potters wheel.
owl lantern
Our friends Jen and Kevin gave us this owl lantern as a gift a few years back. Thanks guys! The bullet frame and the hand grenades in the back were crafts my grandfather made in his spare time while stationed on the Aleutian Islands during World War II.
owl print
Sarah and Damien hooked us up with this one. They also bought me an owl pellet dissection kit for my birthday one year. Thanks!
grimy owl potholder
I couldn't tell you where this potholder owl came from, but it's dirty and I had second thoughts about posting it. Then I decided, why the hell not? My apologies to any sticklers for clean potholders.

If you've got cool owl stuff, post a link to a photo in the comments and if I get enough, I'll do a post on other people's owls!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Maricopa Through a Plastic Lens

I was looking through my former posts and I saw that I have posts about Calcutta, West Bengal and Tucson, AZ we've shot with lomo cameras, but nothing for Maricopa County, AZ or Massachusetts. I don't know why that feels like some sort of upset of universal balance, but I guess I have a connection to a limited number of places. They all need to be represented if I'm going to feel like the virtual MOCS space is to be the diversionary microcosm of well-loved places I need it to be. It makes sense to me; all you have to do is enjoy the pictures...
Tempe Bike Lane Holga 31/365
South Mountain Lookout - 13/365
Erin Digital Pinhole
Homemade digital pinhole lens for our Nikon.
Soft Focus