Surely one of the nearby ski resorts could put one of these in to make some money in the off-season. I'd ride it, for sure:

Where in Nevada County: Please Come Again

I wouldn't normally look at the backs of these signs, but I was sitting at a wee table waiting for lunch. Where in Nevada County can I see this sign?

Man, just sitting here gave me the munchies. (You might read that as a hint!)


Something about the order of the words in this sign from the indicommons collection disturbs me. Should it be dangerous that they love their children?

Submission Transmitted

Noted for future tracking. Submitted to the Bugs! anthology at Pill Hill Press.

Talk Crazy To Me

Sometimes it feels like I have a sign on my back that says, "Talk crazy to me." Have I told you about these recent encounters?


A few weeks ago, I used a free room to stay at the Hampton Inn in Woodland so I could ride my bike in the flatlands around Davis. People, there are places where the land is flat! And you can ride forever without getting out of breath, where your legs get tired before your lungs do. It was so nice.

But on the second day, the rain was too much and I took a walk around Woodland before driving home. In this little plaza in the middle of town, I was approached by an older woman. This is the exchange that happened:

SHE: Excuse me, I'm in need of some common sense.

ME: Ah.

SHE: Do you have any?

ME: A wee bit, maybe?

SHE: Well, I live in Woodland. But farther over that way. [Gestures with her hand in what seemed to me a random direction.] I had to turn onto Main Street and you know it takes forever at that intersection. There was a man there. He was dressed nicely. He asked for change. I offered to take him to a restaurant and buy him some food. He said he already had food. He wanted change for a blanket. He was dressed nicely, but I told him I didn't have any change and I drove into town. Now, I don't know what to do. Should I get some money and go back and give it to him? I don't want to. I feel terrible.

ME: Well, uh, I don't know. I guess it was pretty nice to offer to buy food. I don't think you should feel terrible.

SHE: OK. Thanks. My name is Helen. If I were running for something I'd ask for your vote.

ME: Yes.

SHE: The world's a mess and everybody blames it on the government.

ME: Yes, we've somehow forgotten that in a democracy the government is not really separate from the people.

SHE: Exactly! I found this article once called "We are the Nation." It was in a railroad magazine. I wrote to the railroad and got a lot of copies of it to give out to people. I'd give you one, but I only have one left. Well, I found a second one while cleaning, but it's all wrinkled.

ME: That's OK.

SHE: I'm not following you around, you know. I'm actually walking to my car.


And sure enough, she got into her big car parked at the curb and drove off.


After leaving Woodland, I drove north and hit California 20 to follow it home. I hadn't been over this way, so I thought it would be interesting to see what lay on the road that goes through our fair city. I stopped in Colusa, which seemed like a nice small place, though it was kind of deserted. Everything seemed to shut down at 3, except for the bowling alley which opened at 4, with a happy hour! Since I had just watched The Big Lebowski again, it seemed only fitting to go in and take an hour on a lane. I think you can get away with bowling alone if you are any good, because it just looks like you're practicing. But I found myself wishing for the gutter bumpers. Still, I enjoyed it, Dude.

The place was run by a nice young guy who was friendly. We had this conversation:

HE: Where are you from?

ME: Nevada City. I wanted to see what was on the other end of 20.

HE: Yeah. What's the bowling like up there?

ME: I don't know. It seems like every time I go in, it's filled with league play. It was nice to get an hour in here.

HE: Oh, yeah. In a big prosperous place like Nevada City, you can support leagues. It's pretty dead here.


For out of towners, this is funny both because I don't think of us as all that prosperous and because the only bowling alley (which is in Grass Valley) is called "Prosperity Lanes."


Today, as I was headed out on the annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage (more on that later), I stopped in the grocery store in Auburn for some cheese for tonight's tamale pie. (The picture is of the Best Buy in Auburn. At about 10:30 this morning, there were all these people already forming a line. Is the sale really that good? Are there really things left to buy that are that interesting?) At any rate, as I was coming out of the grocery store, a woman ran after me asking me to stop. I figured I had dropped something:

SHE: Sir! Sir!

ME: Yes?

SHE: I was searching on-line and I thought you looked familiar. Are you a doctor? I think I saw you.

ME: I'm sorry, uh, but no.

SHE: Oh. I was needing a doctor for my aunt and they're all off today.


Apparently, I end every conversation with, "OK." I am not a doctor, and I figured if there were some real problem, she could hit the hospital. I really, really wish I had said, "No, but I play one on TV." Staircase wit, people, staircase wit.


Where in Nevada County: Pictures from the Sky

This past weekend, I had a bright idea: Go down to the party store, buy some helium balloons, attach my iPhone and take some pictures.

It took a lot more balloons than I expected. I did like one of the pictures I got, though. And it's even of me! Where in Nevada County am I standing?

What we learn from this image is that the Abbot is not so great at parking. How shameful.

The woman at the party store was helpful and at first we tried two dozen regular sized balloons, but they couldn't get the iPhone off the ground, so we added a few of her biggest balloons. (The best part was that she knew this was just for lifting a phone, but she insisted on doing that scissors stroke thing to get the ribbon to be curly.)

They still weren't strong enough to pick up my iPhone and the platform I had made. (It's just a picture frame with eye hooks, but it was still too heavy.) So I used two velcro straps (only one is in this picture) and attached the balloons to these metal shower curtain hooks.

And that was enough to get off the ground!

The wind was rougher than I expected (this is probably more of a summer activity in these parts), so the balloons would rise, but the wind would actually push them down (because of the force from the tether, I guess). Once, they got up pretty high.

So I went back to the party store to get two more big balloons. Then I went down to the park in Penn Valley, where the wind was harsher and the balloons immediately impaled themselves on a tree.

The balloons started popping and the line got tangled. I thought I'd lost my phone! But I eventually got it back. Not a single picture worked because the straps had covered the lens! And now I didn't have enough balloons to lift the phone any more, so I went home.

Mountain View

Wow. I haven't done one of these since WorldCon in August? I'm just not traveling like I used to.
Well, this set is probably my favorite since the angry apples played with a doctor.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here.

Room with a View: Mountain View, CA

Can't really see any mountains. Most of the time it was too dark, anyway.

Where in Nevada County: Not Dan, I Assume?

This ought to be on my street, but is not. Those quail (quails?) are so funny when they run. They'd be more graceful if they'd just use those wings to get out of the way of my car.

Where in Nevada County: Mooooooooo

Where in Nevada County is there a house that always has a cow on the front lawn?

Sunday Cleanup

Just going through pictures from this weekend and wanted to pull a couple out for your enjoyment.

You might remember my recent trip up to see the Basque tree carvings. On Saturday, I took the Brunette for another stomp through the snow and we found a few more. I'm pretty sure this one is not from the early part of the 20th century:

After dropping off the Brunette for another trip to Africa (she'll be back next year), I wandered over to look at Lake Berryessa because I've always wanted to see its famous spillway. Well, the spillway was fairly uninteresting because the water is so low this time of year. But on the way, I had to stop and take a picture of this place. I wish it was in Nevada County so I could make it part of that series...

Click either picture to make it bigger and take you to the slide show.

Whistling Season (Ivan Doig)

I stare out the window of my home office and wonder. The ground that was brown for all the summer is, here at the edge of winter, green as Emerald Bay. Well, I think to myself, as green as I suspect Emerald Bay is, since we didn't quite make it there because of the crowds at the park and we went to Meeks instead.

Speaking of crowds, one seems to be forming in my very own back yard. Sure, it's only one wee lad, but still. One is the beginning of an infinite string of numbers, people. I stomp down the steps and out the back door.

"Oy!" I yell. "What is this, Occupy the Abbey?"

Weird Weather We're Having?

So I wrote a couple of little widgets for geektool to put information on my desktop. I started it because having multiple Google accounts was really confusing Google in a single browser and we use Google for our work email. One of the geeklets is a ruby script to pick up the weather and print out the current temperature. For a while, the XML feeds from Weather.com weren't providing current information for 95959 (which is Nevada City), so I was using Rough & Ready's zip.

Yes, we have a place called Rough & Ready. It is not named after a TV show, unlike some towns in New Mexico I could mention.

At any rate, yesterday the XML started returning some interesting temperatures:

I'm having trouble believing that it's so much warmer down there, unless there's a new volcano I haven't heard about.

Can't imagine what would return such a weird temperature for two days running, but at least the feed now seems to have Nevada City data, so I can switch to a closer zip.

Update 13 Nov 2011: Ugh. The weather channel now wants $18 to access current weather conditions, so I now have to switch to some other provider for data I already get for free just not in a convenient format. Looks like the closest NOAA is either Truckee or Beale, buh.

The Elegance of The Kitty Cat

Apparently, I'm on a little GIMP kick. I saw this site called The Kitten Covers, and I thought maybe we should give it a try with a literary slant:

Nobody, I Mean Nobody Puts Ketchup on a Hot Dog

Hey, folks, time for another exciting indiComic (indiToon?). Add your own caption/speech to the comments below.

An indiComic (indiToon?) is a photo that I yank from the inimitable indicommons project and add cartoonish speech/thought bubbles to. I know it's not exactly high-brow, but it is wicked cool that museums and archives across the world are putting their collections of old photographs out there for unrestricted use.
The original is from the State Library of New South Wales. This is Ballet star Helene Kirsova, at a train station in 1937 with a puppy and a bottle of tomato sauce. Can you guess the origin of this post's title?