Friday, December 25, 2009

Bagels and silliness

Michele and I have breakfast at Ruby K's a couple times a week, and when we were in there earlier this week, we decided to get something sweet. I ordered one of their cinnamon rolls and brought it to the table, and the little guy (3 or 4 years old) next to us said, "That looks really good. You should dig in!" I said, "Your bagel looks really good, too." His mom said it was a chocolate chip bagel. I said, "Chocolate chip bagels rule!"

The little guy, whose name is Torson, said, "You're silly!" I told him that I wasn't silly and that I approached life with all the dignity and decorum that I could muster. He looked at me as if I didn't have mirrors in the house and reiterated his opinion that I'm silly. I said, "I'm not silly. You're silly. Aggle aggle aggle phthhhh bonka bonka bonka!" That confirmed my silliness to him. He leaped up and gave me a big hug.

Then he told me he had to go to the doctor to get a shot, but he wasn't scared, and afterwards, he was going to have some chocolate ice cream. "Whenever I have to get a shot, I get chocolate ice cream after the shot. That's the deal I worked out with my mom."

I said that it was a really good deal. He told me that he wasn't going to the doctor just to get a shot, either. He was going to to get his breathing checked. "I'm breathing really well now," he said, and, to show me, inhaled so deeply that his nostrils were little vertical slits. I invited him to come to the store after ice cream, and he gave me another big hug.

I like little kids. They're so at ease in the world, and they crack me up.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How to stay warm in teh winter


Oh, hai. Im FLICKER!

I tell u how to stay warm in teh winter. First, u must put u tummeh on 1 radiator. Put u pawz on teh other radiator. See? Itz easy.

Then if u wants to watch teh birdz and still have warm pawz and tummeh, u rests u chin on teh windowsill. U can also haz a nap!

Now u try.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My friends have new cameras

My friends have new cameras.

Alan took a picture of me with his new iPhone. I was just watching him play with it and didn't know that he was taking a picture.

Our friend Katy took this picture of us with our new T-shirts on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cormac McCarthy's typewriter

Cormac McCarthy is my favorite modern author. One of the happiest days of my life was August 26, 2005, when Michele and I saw him in the Border's bookstore in Santa Fe, and I approached him and introduced myself to him. We talked for about 10 minutes.

I've read all his books, and I think Blood Meridian and Suttree are masterpieces. The first three pages of Suttree are absolutely breathtaking. What would be cooler than owning his typewriter?

Christie's is auctioning his typewriter on Friday, and I've placed an absentee bid. I won't win it, of course, but it's fun to dream.

Cormac McCarthy is god.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for my family and friends.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'd like an elegant Shiraz that would complement a meal of mice, bugs, and a lizard

Yesterday I went into Kelly Liquors on Juan Tabo in Albuquerque to look at the wine selection. As I turned the corner by the beer coolers, I saw a roadrunner calmly marching down the aisle, then stopping and looking with evident interest at the beer. It was very calm and seemed at home, so I asked the guy at the counter if the bird were a pet or a mascot. He misunderstood and said, "Yes, we have Roadrunner wine. Come this way." I said, "No, it's a real roadrunner. He's looking at the beer."

The whole staff surged over to the coolers, and the counter guy started whistling and saying, "Come here, birdie. Come on, let's go. Let's go, birdie." The woman at the counter and I whipped out our cell phones to take pictures. The roadrunner hopped up on the display of mixers. The counter guy asked, "How did he get in?" I said, "Your door is open. He walked in." The guy started whistling again at the roadrunner, which hopped off the display and walked down the aisle toward me. The woman with the cell phone started herding him toward the door, and the roadrunner went home without getting what he came in for.

"I'm not seeing any Shiraz from here."

"The beers look pretty tempting."

"Maybe a nice Chardonnay . . . ."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Official performance and procedural requirements for grain-weighing equipment and related grain-handling systems

That is the name of a section of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Agriculture. It is more fun to read than other things I could name.

You may remember that Ina asked me for a cover blurb for her latest novella. She brought me a manuscript to read, and I did indeed read about 20 pages before I had to take an antacid.

The book is going to press, and Ina needed the blurb. I knew that it had to be truthful and kind but that it couldn't make me complicit in her efforts. Here's what I came up with.
"Ina's intense love for Jane Austen shines on every page."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

National security level is metallic green with hand-stitching and bamboo detail

You know that I have always valued the safety of my colleagues and customers. And when I worked at a prestigious national laboratory, I took my job as the safety officer for my group seriously.

When I became the division environment, safety, and health officer, however, I was thrust into the rarefied world of Bureaucracy Safety, which bears no resemblance to reality as most of us experience it. That the Manhattan Project scientists did not have a formal safety program and relied on common sense had no bearing on present-day operations at the prestigious laboratory. It was enough to know back in 1944 that if you put your lips on a sphere of plutonium, you were asking for trouble, and if you were carrying the business end of a bomb, you'd go carefully with it if you loved your arms and legs.

As the division environmental officer, for example, I attended meeting after meeting on how our administrative operation could reduce its carbon footprint. The meetings were always held downtown, which necessitated using a vehicle, and we had reams of paper to read, reams of paper to write our environmental plans on, reams of paper with notes about our reams of paper. We had to explain in great detail why our administrative operations did not use solvents for removing aircraft hydraulic fluid. Irony was lost on the leaders of the meetings.

We had safety procedures for every imaginable operation. Need to change out the carboy in the water cooler? We had a procedure. Need to insert earplugs when the custodian was vacuuming? We had a procedure ("Do not insert the earplugs into your nostrils."). Need to dispose of a blade used to cut foam core? We had a procedure. Need to use some correction fluid? We had a procedure and a material safety data sheet. No trivial, everyday, ordinary act was so insignificant that the Powers That Be could not throw common sense out the window and create a thorough, detailed, multi-page procedure for doing it in a vain attempt to protect us from ourselves. Naturally, the people actually doing the jobs resented the procedures, and human nature being what it is, they looked for loopholes.

It put me in mind of when I was the municipal judge in Maxwell and had to enforce an ordinance that forbade tying your horse to anything that the horse could nibble on. "No horse shall be tethered, tied, fastened, bound, or trussed to any bush, shrub, tree, sapling, or sprout in such a way that the horse may feed on, eat, masticate, manducate, nibble, or chew on said bush, shrub, tree, sapling, or sprout." So if a person were hauled into municipal court because he tied up his horse at the mercantile and it ate the lilacs out front, he could get off without a fine because he could say he "lashed" his horse to the lilac, and it was "noshing" on the leaves. So the village council would revise the ordinance to include lashing and noshing and hoped that no one would "hitch" a horse in such a way that the horse could "munch." Things could get out of hand pretty quickly.

But I digress. After the attacks of September 11, the prestigious national laboratory instituted a policy to ensure that all bags, briefcases, luggage, purses, backpacks, and lunch buckets were affixed with ID tags with the owner's name and phone number on them. See, in addition to hating freedom, terrorists do not tag their bags. The bomb boys were afterwards regularly dispatched to "disrupt" somebody's untagged lunch bucket. (And yet when the casing of Fat Man was on a flat bed truck in our parking lot, did it turn anyone's head? Nooo-oooo-ooo.)

We had to evacuate a month or so ago because the County guys who were working on the roof of the museum next door had left an untagged cooler in front of the building. The street was cordoned off, the cops told us to evacuate the store, and the bomb boys were called. We were very excited about the prospect of watching them blow up--er, disrupt--the cooler, even though several people were hollering at the cops, "It's the County guys' soda! They're still on the roof. Ask 'em!" After standing out on the sidewalk for 45 minutes or so and explaining to our bemused visitors about laboratory safety, we were allowed to resume business. The bomb boys never showed, much to the disappointment of those of us who were anticipating an appearance by the little bomb-disrupting robot.

On Columbus Day, one of the folks from the museum next door came cantering into the store and said that they had a suspicious package and were evacuating the building. I asked what the package was. He replied, "It's a green purse in the ladies' room! You should evacuate!" I told him that purses left in restrooms aren't really so uncommon and that I'd evacuate when the cops or bomb boys told us to, but in the meantime, I wasn't closing because some visitor left her purse in the john.

Again the cops cordoned off the streets. Again the bomb boys didn't show. The museum guy came in to ask whether we knew the phone numbers of the museum director and safety guy, because nobody knew how to get hold of them. Meanwhile, the cops apparently opened the purse, found the owner's cell phone, called her husband, and made the world safe for democracy.

The museum visitors spent the whole time in the store, and we did land-office business for about an hour and a half.
Have you tagged your evening bag, m'dear?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our invisible books are so popular that we've been out of them for a week.

Saturday afternoon near closing time a visitor was wandering around in the graphic novels. I asked, "May I help you find something?"

She said, "I had a book on the history of Los Alamos, but I lost it. Do you have any books on Los Alamos?" I led her over to the atomic history section, which has garnered much praise from historians and scientists as one of the most extensive and complete collections on the topic in the country.

She stared at it moodily. "Is this all you have?" our visitor asked.

I told her, "No store can carry every single book that's ever been printed, but perhaps I can make a suggestion."

"Well, I had this book on the history of Los Alamos. Do you have any books on the history of Los Alamos."

I made a sweeping gesture. She was unimpressed. "Don't you have any books you don't have?"

I mulled that one over for a few seconds, and figured that trying to make sense of it would require some cold rags for the back of my neck. "Do you know the title or the author?"

"Well, it had the word history in the title, I think. And maybe the. Like The History of Los Alamos or something like that. You know the one?"

"I'm sorry, but I need more information than that."

She began to talk to me very slowly and loudly to make sure that I understood her. "I. WANT. A. BOOK. ABOUT. THE. HISTORY. OF. LOS. ALAMOS. AND. THE. HISTORY. OF. THE. SCIENTISTS! IT'S. A. BOOK. THAT. I. LOST. DO. YOU. KNOW. THE. ONE. I'M. TALKING. ABOUT?"

So I went back to the cash register and pulled up the inventory of books about Los Alamos with the word history in the title. Lots of books. I named the top five or so, but nothing rang a bell with her. "No," she said, "I think the book may have had the word Los Alamos in the title. Or maybe not. It was all about the history of Los Alamos and the history of the scientists, I know that for sure. Do you have any books on the history of the scientists?"

Another sweeping gesture at the biographies. "Do you remember the author?" I asked.

"No. But I think the book was about this big a-square," she said, holding out a copy of Standing by and Making Do so I could calibrate her request. "Do you have any books about this big a-square? About the history of Los Alamos? It had the history of the scientists, too, I'm pretty sure."

When in doubt, go to the cash register and check the inventory. "The closest I can come right now is Jon Hunner's Inventing Los Alamos. But we're out of stock right now."

"Oh, that's wonderful! Where is it?"

"Out of stock. I'd be pleased to order it for you."

"Is it about this big a-square?"

"Yes. It has a bluish-green cover."

"No, no, this book had a different color, I think. Or maybe not. Are you sure you don't have any books you don't have?"
No, this isn't the book I want. It's not this big a-square.

Friday, October 9, 2009

lagniappe, n. lăn'yəp: an extra or unexpected gift or benefit

Last week I ordered a random original comic strip art from one of my faves, Barkeater Lake. It came yesterday.

And I got a lagniappe: enclosed in the package was a free pair of Toby, Robot Satan, socks, size men's 10-13. I can wear them on those cold winter nights.

Monday, October 5, 2009

And I'm still not finished

Here are some images of the facelift of my home office. Fortunately, I don't have a "before" picture, because I would have sunk through the floor with embarrassment.

First I packed up everything in the office and staged it in the living room.

When the bookcases were empty, I cleaned them and staged them in the carport so that Fernando from Mountain School could come get them in his truck. Bookcases are a hot commodity in the public schools, and Fernando told me later that they disappeared immediately from his truck and then reappeared in the classrooms.

Here is the almost-empty room. The walls were off-white, and the ceiling was sort of beige.

I chose Valspar's "Ice Storm" for the ceiling and walls and "Capri Coast" for the accent walls. (I fixed the "holidays," so there's complete coverage.)

I think this is a more accurate representation of the colors.

I chose rustic Mexican iron for the closets and cupboards.

Here are two full bookcases. I put the inscribed books from various signings up on the top because I probably won't read them any time soon. Harry Potter is up there, too, because he takes up a lot of room, and I don't reread those frequently.

Years ago I picked up a cute iron bird in Madrid. It's made of pieces of farm implements. The rustic Mexican lamp has a "piña" design. The little cupboard is made from salvaged teak from the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Here is my bespoke rustic desk.

I also have kinetic sculpture in the room.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Radio Slack

The laser printer in the office at the store has been jamming with increasing frequency. Last week Perry and I cleared a major jam by removing many key parts of the printer and fishing out the accordion-pleated paper, and yesterday Michele and I cleared another jam and found a scorched mailing label in its innards. This morning Alan was trying to print the replenishment report, and the printer seized up again, so I got out my handy screwdrivers and tongs, cleared the jam, tried to print a test page, and watched as the printer jammed again.

I gave it up as a bad job and decided to call the local computer place (you'd recognize the name immediately, because rhymes with "radio slack"). A sweet little dollie answered the phone.

"Hello, this is Radio Slack."

"Hi. This is P-doobie from Otowi Station Bookstore up the street. Do you repair laser printers?"

"I don't know."

"Well, perhaps you can check?"

"Yeah, hold on." After a long hold, a guy with that fascinating husky voice that's just short of asthma answered. "Hello?"

"Do you repair laser printers?"


"This is P-doobie from Otowi Station Bookstore. Our printer keeps jamming, possibly because a scorched self-adhesive label may be in there. May I bring ours down so you can take a look at it?"

Heavy sigh. "Well, I don't have any time today, but if you bring it down right now, I'll look at it."

So I gathered up the printer, drove the two blocks to Radio Slack, wrestled the printer out of the back seat, and, carrying the printer in both hands, approached the door. Two workers inside watched as I tried to open the door. When I finally got inside by dint of some intricate footwork, kicking, and using my elbows, one of them said, "May I help you?"

"Well, not anymore." The comment was lost on him. "I called a few minutes ago about getting my printer repaired."

"Who did you talk to?"

"He didn't identify himself."

"Well, it wasn't me."

I thought, "Three people are working in the store. You say I didn't speak to you, and the dollie is out of the running because she's female, so maybe, just maybe, the guy standing in the back is the person I talked to. And we really need to talk about whether you were ever dropped on your head as a child." Meanwhile, my fingers were cramping and the printer wasn't getting any lighter. The guy pointed to the back. "Go talk to Joe," he said, and walked away.

I heaved the printer onto the counter and Joe shuffled over. "I spoke to you a few minutes ago about repairing a laser printer."

"Did you call?"

"Yes, I did. I told you that my laser printer keeps jamming."

"When did you call?"

"This morning. About five minutes ago."

"I don't repair printers."

"Then why—"

He tried to lift the top off by tugging hard on the output bin. Nothing happened, so he tried harder, then asked, "How did you get the top off?" I told him that we didn't take the top off; we worked from the back. "Oh," he said. "Well, you should go to Santa Fe. Maybe somebody down there can help." He shuffled back to his work bench.

I hope nobody comes in and asks for help today.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ina rides again or "Oh, lord, what have I done?"

I have written previously about my interactions with the always impressively bonkers Ina, the local author and relentless self-promoter.

Last month she seemed to be unclear on the concept of authorship; she is, however, absolutely clear on the concept of chutzpah. Indeed, she redefines it. She was in the store before the signing with Rick Rickman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and author of the book The Wonder Years: Portraits of Athletes Who Never Slow Down, and leafed through the book with evident interest. "I don't see my picture in here," she said. "I'm a senior athlete, and my picture isn't in here." I told her that most of the athletes were from California, where Rickman lives. "Well, I'll give him a picture of me from one of my races, and he can put it in his next book."

One of the things I've learned from reading authors' manuscripts is that I often have to lie down and apply cold rags to my head afterwards if the authors can't maintain a consistent tone, point of view, plot, characterizations, chronology, etc., they call their work a "spoof," even though the work is neither parody nor satire. Or funny.

And so it is with Ina, the Jane Austen fan. She has "spoofed" Persuasion, and her latest is a novella "spoofing" Northanger Abbey. She was in the store last week and asked, in hushed, conspiratorial tones, if I'd do her a favor. I replied, against my better judgment, that I'd do my best. She told me about her newest book and wants me to write a cover blurb (!!!!!) for it because a) I'm a published author myself and b) I'm a noted bookseller. I thought, "This is gonna take more than cold rags." I said, "Let me see the book, and I'll let you know." I thought, "Dear God, what have I done?!"

That evening she came to the store with the manuscript taped securely in an opaque plastic bag and asked the evening staffers to make sure I got it. The next morning she called and asked, "Have you read it yet?" I said that I had just come into the office, so of course I hadn't read it. "Oh. Well. No hurry, no hurry." She calls once a day, asks whether I've read it, and always assures me that she's in no hurry.

I have learned a lesson from all this. I will no longer read manuscripts, especially if they're "spoofs." If I even think about doing so, I'll call you, and you can come over with a two-by-four and commence to beatin'. I'd do the same for you.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Adventures with the Kia Rio

Today I took the rented Kia Rio back home to ABQ, and good riddance to it.

I couldn't drop it off early, the sweet little dollie at the counter told me when I rented it, because there would be a penalty. So I couldn't take it back last week when I picked up Sophie. And if I returned it one minute past noon today, I'd be charged for an extra day. Timing was obviously of the essence.

Uncle P picked me up at the store this morning at 9:00 and followed me to ABQ in Sophie. I filled the Kia up ("If you don't fill it up, we'll charge you $6.99 a gallon to do it for you.") and drove it to the Budget Rental Car place on San Mateo where I had picked it up last month. The place was closed! A notice, written in a barbed and illiterate hand, was posted on the door and stated that rentals should be returned to the Budget place on the Pan American Freeway. Uncle P called the place for directions, and, backtracking four miles, we met at the new place.

The guy ahead of me in line got steamed because his credit card had been declined. So he did the logical, rational thing: he kicked out the glass front door of the rental office. The Budget staff surged out to the parking lot to the kicker's truck to block his way, and the remaining person called the cops. I couldn't hear what the Budget guys and the kicker were saying to each other, but by reading their lips, they seemed to be saying vacuum a lot.

Meanwhile, back in the office, the sweet little dollie at the counter asked if I'd like to put a $25.00 charge on my credit card. I asked, "For what, please? I prepaid online." She went back to the computer and tapped away for an unconscionable time and studied the monitor with all the intensity of a scholar of the Talmud. Finally she declared that I was all paid up and didn't need to fork over the extra dough. I was free to go. I asked for my receipt. "Eeee! I forgot," she said and printed it out.

When I passed the other Budget employees and the kicker, the kicker said, "Why don't you just call the glass company, and I'll pay for your door right now." The Budget guy said, "No. The cops are coming."

When Uncle P and I passed them in the air-conditioned comfort of Sophie, they were still saying vacuum.

The "CAT FOLDER" is a handy tool. You just insert Flicker in the slot, press the button, and presto! a handy folded kitteh can fit comfortably in the glove compartment.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Could you be a bookseller who drinks? Take this quiz and find out!

If you were the boss, which of the following reasons for resigning immediately would make you reach for a bottle of fine Irish whiskey--or at least a handful of cookies?

a. I resign from my position at Otowi Station effective immediately. My spouse died last night, and I must return to the farm in Kansas immediately to settle the estate and to care for the aged parents.

b. I learned that I am pregnant, and my physician prescribes complete bed rest for nine months to reduce the chances of premature labor. Please accept my resignation from Otowi Station effective immediately.

c. I hereby tender my resignation from my position at Otowi Station Bookstore, effective immediately. The reason for my decision to resign is the on-going outbreak of "flu-like" illness in Los Alamos. Because of it and because of what I fear will unfold over the next few months, I no longer feel safe working with the public, or being in crowded conditions under any circumstances that I can possibly avoid. Though I hope not, I suspect it'll be a long winter.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Body-checked by a Sister of Charity

I'm giving my home office a face lift. I wanted new matched bookcases, to paint and install new window treatments, and to find a work surface that fits me.

After I took Sophie to the body shop in ABQ two weeks ago, I stopped at Tema Contemporary Furniture and bought five 87-inch high bookcases with two corner pieces to give them a finished look. (Today I called Mountain School, which rules all, to ask whether they wanted the old bookcases, and as luck would have it, they were going to order bookcases and accepted mine. Woo-HOO!)

I have a rustic-looking Southwestern desk that Custom Clarence in Santa Fe made, and although it's a great desk, it's just too tall for me, even with my chair all the way up. And I've been using a drafting table that I've had since Maxwell days for my computer table. It's no wonder my wrist seized up.

So I have been looking for adjustable work surfaces, preferably like the one I had at LANL, which cost a taxpayer's arm and leg five or six years ago. I poked around online and found some that would work, but they weren't like the nifty one I had at LANL. Suddenly, I had an epiphany! Why not go to the LANL salvage lot on the third Thursday of the month at noon, and try to find an adjustable work surface? I can hear you sputtering, "But, P-doobie, you're getting swell new bookcases! Why not get a brand new work surface instead of going to salvage?"

For the adventure, okay?

Michele picked me up at the store yesterday, and off we went to salvage. At the customer-service window we registered with a young man--who could make a cantaloupe look intelligent, compassionate, even agitated--picked up our auction number, and went out to stand on the blazing hot asphalt with the other hopefuls. The prime spots at the chain-link gate were already taken by the regulars, whose collective hunger for junk made the Potato Famine seem like a mere bagatelle.

About the time I was reviewing the signs and symptoms of heat prostration, the head guy finally came out and explained The Rules: walking only, no running, no pushing, use a Sharpie to mark what you want with your initials, no fighting, no biting, no throwing elbows, no hip checks. Then he opened the gate.

Holy moly. If that was "walking" I'm Hillary Clinton. It was like roller derby in there. I was especially vulnerable because I was wearing Birks, and the regulars wore steel-toed safety shoes and knew how to use 'em.

One of the regulars immediately snagged the work surface that I had had my eye on at the fence. Oh, well. It's a big yard. There'd be other desks. We poked around in the yard and got more and more discouraged. The stuff that was really good had already been claimed, and the stuff that was adjustable was missing important parts, most notably the cranks that adjusted them. Other pieces required six men and a boy to move or had been around since the first partition of Poland.

I was ready to give it up as a bad job when Michele saw it. Underneath another desk was the holy grail. The mother lode. The last, for which the first was made. Except for a rust stain, it was in perfect shape. We quickly despoiled the top of it with a Sharpie and called the helper guy over to verify our claim with a sales slip.

He gave us a piece of paper to present to Cantaloupe Boy at the counter, and we stood in line for a long time. When we got to the window, C-Boy studied the sales slip with all the intensity of someone just stumbling on Yeats, carefully input all the information ["desk"] into his computer, took my money and gave it to a young man on his right, who handed my change to C-Boy, who gave it to me, and got a receipt from a young man on his left. I love teamwork.

So now I have a new adjustable work surface, and it cost me only an hour and a half and a buck-oh-seven.
Michele and P-doobie (bottom) at LANL salvage.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

no I said no I won't No

I've written previously on some of the odd requests we've had from customers. Today's request may not be in the top ten, but it's certainly on the charts.

A out-of-town customer came in earlier in the week and bought a T-shirt. He called this morning and said that he had lost the T-shirt and wanted us to send him a replacement shirt for free.

I thought about that all day, and I'm still bewildered.

I lost another one. Give me a new shirt.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why I love owning a bookstore

One of my favorite customers is a physicist who always orders obscure out-of-print technical books. I'm his go-to person, and he discusses his books with me as if I were as conversant in the topics as he is. I nod, smile, occasionally furrow my brow, and murmur, "Really?" at appropriate intervals.

The cool thing is that he doesn't order the books for work. He gets them for his personal library and reads them the way you or I would read a best-seller. Today he requested Atmospheric science and power production, which is described as follows.
Comprehensive reference text presents data and fundamentals of air-quality monitoring and meteorological instrumentation, including detailed coverage of atmospheric physics and boundary-layer processes; plume rise and buoyancy effects; atmospheric chemistry and removal processes; field experiments; diffusion modeling; toxicological effects of nonnuclear pollutants; radioactive-cloud dose calculations; atmospheric effects of energy generation; alternative energy resources; precipitation scavenging; etc. Separate analytics have been prepared for each chapter. 850 pgs.He wants it because his old copy is ratty.

Got technical books?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Flower walk

Yesterday Michele and I drove up to the Ski Hill and did a flower walk to Cañada Bonita.

When we got to the parking lot, we saw scores of mountain bikers getting ready for their gnarly rides. (The Chamber of Horrors Commerce doesn't see much benefit to promoting adventure tourism, like mountain biking, climbing, or mountaineering; all those activities do is bring people to town who have disposable income, will stay for several days, and won't leave a big footprint. Adventure travel is not nearly as profitable as getting in bed with developers. But I digress and will now get off my soapbox.)

Here are some images from our walk. Click on the images to enlarge them.

The walk through the woods is cool and inviting.

From the trail you can see the townsite and the effects of the Cerro Grande Fire.

This log returns its nutrients to the mosses and other plants.

The trail skirts the meadow . . .

. . . which is carpeted with wildflowers.


Canada violet (hi, Marion!)

Gunnison's mariposa tulip

Nodding onion


Sticky asters; summer is almost over.

Strawberry runners on a stump

Whipple's penstamon

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hailstorms and Hiroshima

Today a customer came into the store with a gift for us: a copy of a catalog of drawings and paintings made by survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima, Zuroku Genbaku No E: Hiroshima O Tsutaeru = A-Bomb Drawings by Survivors. We were certainly grateful for the book as a welcome addition to our atomic history section; it's beautifully done, with text in Japanese and English, and the images are sobering.

The woman, who said she had never been in the store or the Bradbury Science Museum, said that we need at least one book to present the other side of the story in the war with Japan. (If she had browsed only briefly, she would have learned that we do present "the other side," in addition to nonproliferation and peace studies. You can't have a bookstore owned by two left-leaning lesbians and not have representation from "the other side.")

As our conversation continued, it was obvious from the reek of cigarettes on the woman's breath and on her clothes from her raspy voice that she was a heavy smoker. She also had a dandy cough: "I'll tell you why ack-ack-awwrrrgggh! you had that ack-ack hailstorm! It's because of chemtrails. Ack-ack-ack-awwwwrrrggggg! Ack! They're poisoning our lungs with ack-ack-acka-acka-acka chemicals and messing with the environment. If you have chemtrails acka-acka-awwrrrrrgggg! you're going to have violent ack-ack-ack-ack hailstorms. Ack-ack-ack-awwrrrrrrrggggggh!"

My own chemtrails, however, are perfectly ack-ack-awwwrrrrrgggh! harmless.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sophie's injuries

This morning I had my appointment to take Sophie to our insurance adjusters, who are set up in the high school parking lot to assess her injuries after the hailstorm. They wrote me a check to fix the
  • hood,
  • front fenders,
  • doors,
  • trim,
  • trunk lid,
  • roof,
  • headlights,
  • windshield,
  • rear window,
  • bumpers, and
  • driver's side mirror.
In other words, Sophie is getting a whole new body. Michele took her VW wagon in yesterday, and she has to wait a few days to find out whether State Farm is going to total it.

Friday morning the insurance guy is coming to check the house. I'm betting we need a new roof.

A Kevlar® hail umbrella for the house and cars would have saved us a lot of trouble.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Childhood fears

Chuckbert's post reminded me of a childhood fear I had when we were living over on Alabama Avenue: I was afraid to sit down in the bathtub when I took a bath. I was afraid I'd fall backward and hit my head. The possibility of drowning always hung over me.

An image straight out of a Hitchcock movie

Friday, July 10, 2009

Trafalgar Square plinth

In Trafalgar Square in London are four enormous plinths, only three of which have statues because financing for the fourth statue fell through. For the next three months, the empty fourth plinth will be a public art experiment, consisting of 2400 Britons climbing up on the plinth for an hour each and doing whatever the hell they want.

Check out One & Other for the live webstream.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Brief conversations at the store

Some customers think that people and dinosaurs coexisted. We had an interesting variation on that theme earlier this week when a group of young women from Arkansas in the Upward Bound Program visited the store. They were looking with interest at the dinosaur section, and one of the young women said, "You can believe what you want, but I don't believe in dinosaurs."

Yesterday a woman asked, "Where is the charming shopping area with quaint shops and galleries?" And in the perfect unison of a Greek chorus, the entire staff said, "In Los Alamos??" We directed her to the Art Center at Fuller Lodge and suggested downtown Santa Fe as a stop on her itinerary.

We have a toy called Hamusuta, which is a realistic little battery-powered hamster in a plastic exercise ball. A power switch is on the bottom of the toy, and when you put the hamster in the ball, it rolls around the place and changes direction when it bumps into something (for some reason, when we release it in the toy section, it rolls over to the humor books and bumps around in there for the rest of the day).

Anyway, Perry came into the workroom and said, "Peggy, you would be very proud of me." I told him that I'm always proud of him, and asked why I was proud of him then. He said, "Well, I didn't say what I wanted to say. A girl asked me how to turn on the hamster."