29 May 2008

on statistics

"There are lies, damned lies and statistics." Benjamin Disraeli

My friend Fantasy recently posted about the media and negativity in America. Her posting is very thought provoking and well worth a visit . The article she references includes the following polling which was originally published by Newsweek:

"The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with
the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy
withthe performance of the president. In essence 2/3s of the citizenry just
ain't happy and want a change."

When statistics and polling results are used without specific background information they are easily manipulated and misrepresented. For example, how do your feelings about the above quote change given different polling scenarios:

1) several thousand refugees were interviewed inside the Superdome three days after Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans

2) last week a random land-line phone poll was taken of one hundred New York City inhabitants (in many large cities, people opt to have cell phones only, especially younger people) asking for their views on the latest State of the Union address

3) twelve members of the white house janitorial staff were polled on their thoughts about the impending cuts in their retirement benefits

4) during the annual San Francisco Aids Walk, random participants were asked what they thought of the President's new push for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman

5) at their annual conference, forty thousand members of the National Education Association replied to questions regarding the USA being ranked 18th out of 24 nations in education

Does each of these situations cause you to look at the quote, "2/3s of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change", a little differently? I hope so.

I don't like to be manipulated. I don't like when my teenagers try, and I sure as hell don't like it when the media tries. Responsible media should always define their polling and statistics with where, when, who, how and why. Responsible citizens should always ask themselves, " do one hundred New Yorkers speak for all Americans? Are they a broad cross-spectrum of who we are?"

26 May 2008

Memorial Day

Today The Puppy and I went out to Patrick's Point State Park and wandered about for a bit. The park is one of my favorites and I enjoy the spruce trees, which differ from our usual redwoods and fir.
Around the headlands we heard many sea lions and walked through a field of clover.

The azaleas were blooming,

as were the rhododendrons.

In both pink

and the much more rare yellow.

21 May 2008

Flips, flops and zoris

I was cleaning out the truck yesterday and couldn’t help but notice that I had three pairs of shoes along the back floor. That’s one over my official back-floor limit. Ten months of the year I keep my really good hiking boots there, just in case. The second slot is reserved for extra flips, rainboots or plastic garden clogs, depending on the season. In NorCal the weather is, let us say, flexible and you have to be prepared for any eventuality. That is why the back seat of the truck is covered with raincoats, swimsuits, pants and shorts (again, seasonal).

Carrying the extra pair into the house I realized that my shoe collection had slowly mushroomed out of the bedroom into the hall closet, the Good One’s bedroom, the office and the garage. Idly wondering how many pairs I actually owned, I covered my bed with an old sheet and proceeded to gather shoes. Several hundreds of minutes later I was done. It was not a pretty sight. Or a pretty site. It was not pretty, not pretty at all.

Forty-nine pairs.
1 pr extra good hiking boots: most expensive clothing item I own
2 prs goretex sneakers: a must when annual rainfall is measured in feet
1 pr white sneaks for gym: never used IRL: ohhhh, I mean outside gym
3 prs of miscellaneous clogs: including doc martens
3 prs of miscellaneous boots: including semi-expensive cannuck weatherproof ones
8 prs of converse sneakers: chucks are babyboomer wubbies (not the andy m. kind)
1 pr of skater sneaks: rob dyrdek: my bike is too cool for anything else
1 pr of slipper flip-flops: the absolute best for sliding on the wood floor
3 prs of slippers: summer, spring/fall and winter (down sleeping bags for my feet, aaah)
3 prs of ‘good’ walking shoes: the ‘I am not a bumpkin’, go to the city, leather ones
5 prs plastic garden clogs: too embarrassing to even try to rationalize
6 prs dress flips: pathetic compensation for the absence of high-heels
15 prs regular flip-flops: need no explanation

11 May 2008

More Puppy

We recently held an emergency household meeting to discuss what we should do when The Puppy's "real" owner returns from vacation. The following are options presented at the meeting:

Me: take The Puppy and flee to Canada.
The Grumpy One: just say no.
The Funny One: Pretend that her illness is very serious and she needs The Puppy to recover.
My Sister*: Give The Puppy back.

*It is important to note that my sister does not live with us, that she attended this meeting telephonically, that she has never met The Puppy, and that she is burdened with an overdeveloped sense of what's right and wrong. We voted behind her back to consider her option as moo.

09 May 2008

The Puppy

I’ve mentioned it before, but it stands repeating: The Puppy is the sun, we revolve around her. She is the best thing ever, in the whole-wide-world. Ever. Here are some reasons why:

Each and every one of my friends has the same reaction upon first meeting The Puppy. It goes something like this: My friend opens the front door and is greeted by me and The Puppy. Friend stops short and looks wildly around, notices the squeaky toys and the dog bed. Friend’s face slowly drains of color as they put one hand to the wall to support themselves. Friend wails, “But you don’t even like dogs!” Grinning like a mad fiend I joyfully reply, “I know!” This oft-repeated scenario has made me deliriously happy each time it has played out. Seeing my friends at such a disadvantage has made me inordinately fond of having The Puppy around.

The Puppy does not have bad habits. The Puppy does not poop or pee in the house, chew on non-puppy items, sleep on the furniture, bark at anyone other than the mailman, tear up garbage, poop or pee on the lawn, howl when she’s left alone, whine for food, beg for attention or any other annoying thing that regular puppies do.

She treats each new day as a special gift. Each morning is a love-filled round of meet-and-greets as she traverses the house making sure that each one of us (Myself, The Grumpy One, and the Funny One) has survived through the night. In a land of fog, she is the sun.

Talking a right at the street means a walk; a left hand turn means a truck ride. This the puppy knows. The puppy is hecka smart. She knows that she rides in the back of my truck, but inside The Grumpy One’s truck. She knows that it’s okay to be on the Funny One’s bed, but not to step one paw inside my bedroom (except for the morning meet-and-greet, when she’s allowed to softly lick my hand, for aliveness verification, and then quickly retreat). She recognizes the sound of a diesel engine and will look longingly for the Grumpy One each time one passes. She knows that the sheep and goats are only to look at, not to chase.

The Puppy is fun. The Puppy plays a mean game of Mr. Rabbit. Sometimes this game is also called Squeaky Toy. The Puppy knows that this game can be played in the backyard or in the house. She knows that this Game can also be played with a tennis ball. The Puppy thinks she is very fast, but she is wrong. She is not as fast as me, as long as we stay on the wood floor. She is a little faster than me if we are on the lawn where she has traction. The Puppy doesn’t care if I cheat while we play Mr. Rabbit, she loves me.

The Puppy has only one flaw: she belongs to our friend who is on vacation.

06 May 2008


My new SwimBuddy has a good, nay, great attitude. She quietly observes, practices hard and asks for help when she needs it.

This morning as we were finishing several thousand (okay hundred) yards worth of breaststroke, she commented on how difficult a stroke it was for her to swim. Jokingly, I replied that I felt her pain, because I have the worst breaststroke kick in the world (actually true). Then she told me that she had never swum anything but front crawl before swimming with me (we've been swimming together for three weeks now). Dumbstruck, I asked if she'd at least learned the basic technique in swim class the previous semester. She said no, that she had been watching what I did and trying her best. Poor kid, she'd been watching the worst kick in the pool and trying to improve herself!

She's a great SwimBuddy because 1) she lets me be bossy 2) she's always interested in learning more 3) she still swims slower than I do.

04 May 2008

Weekend Deuce

Lots of sunshine and bike riding.

Accidentally almost broke the first rule of wilderness survival.

Made it safely past and back down the trail.

A good day for a zombie always ends at the cemetary.


02 May 2008


Today I went on my monthly art walk in Eureka. Usually I start off at my mile long loop of galleries at my favorite coffee shop, but today I thought I'd start at the top of Old Town and grab a couple of pics.

The Carson Mansion: currently a members-only men's club.

This house was built for the daughter of Carson: I call it the mother-in-law-unit. It is directly across the street from the Carson Mansion (they face each other) and it is fun to spin from one direction to another and see both.

The Morris Graves Museum of Art is a lovingly restored Carnegie Library. It is extremely beautiful inside and shows a rotating collection from the Humboldt Arts Council and also special shows from outside the area. The main gallery this month is a local juried show that happens annually, which is nice because you get to see the best of a lot of different local artists. I think you have to be invited to even enter something.


The sign for my all time favorite gallery: Accident.

Today I was really excited to pick up a painting that I purchased from last month's show. So excited that I locked my keys in the truck as I went in to get the painting and see the new show. Lucky for me it was a beautiful day and I enjoyed every step of the thirteen blocks to The Skinny One's work, where I borrowed his car to go home and get my spare keys.

After a wonderful couple of hours hitting the galleries and talking with some of my favorite artists and gallery owners, I met The Grumpy One and The Recluse BeatMeister at the local brewery for some bar food and a pint.


May Art Picks

These are my favorite picks from the new shows: