Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pride Fest 2009

It's that time of year again! Pride Fest! Although we don't generally stick around too long for the actual 'fest', we like going to the parade to show our support and grab some beads and other parade-freebies. Normally, we don't get moving fast enough to get a good spot but this year, with the nice weather, we packed up the water bottles and camp chairs and arrived early. And, we got a sweet spot -- street-side near the northwest corner of Grand and Arsenal. Or, so we thought until we realized that somebody brought a crazy lady to the parade and stood her right behind us. She complained the audibly the ENTIRE time -- about something, about nothing, and about everything else in between! Mostly though, here complaints involved not being able to see. Now, I might have been more compassionate had she been nice about all of this but she was not. So I ignored her as did everyone else in our vicinity. Eventually, she must have even started embarrassing the people who brought her because they started hushing her. I was tempted to turn around and take a look at her, maybe even remind her about parade and public etiquette but before I decided the wind intervened -- divine? karma? I'm not sure. But what I can tell you is that the tent canopy behind us suddenly took flight and clocked her in the back of the head. Her complaining finally stopped but, unfortunately, it was only because she began yelling at the people with the tent. That eventually stopped too but, by that time, she had walked far enough away from us that we could no longer hear her.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book Review: Death in Yellowstone, Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park by Lee H. Whittlesey

Yes, more on Yellowstone. I'll move on soon. I promise.

No mystery what the book is about; the title says it all. However, word of caution: If you're hoping for a Faces of Death account of death in Yellowstone, this isn't your book. But, if you'd like a tastefully written, historical recounting of the various ways in which people have died in Yellowstone in the last 100 years, then Whittlesey's book IS for you. Lots of interesting information, lots of common sense reminders about life in the the wilderness. Whittlesey says it best:

"While appreciating its (nature) wholeness, we must never abandon a healthy respect for wilderness. Wilderness is impersonal. It does not care whether you live or die. It does not care how much you love it. So while we are loving the Yellowstone wilderness, while we play in it, indeed revel in it, taking it on its own terms and helping to protect it, we foolish mortals must always remember to respect it. For not only can it bite us, but, indeed, it can devour us."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yellowstone and Teton Vacation 2009

This was an awesome vacation. And I mean that in all sincerity. Going to Yellowstone is all about extreme ranges. Look at this data from our trip. We experienced all of them in 9 days within the boundaries of both Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Weather: Snow, Sleet, Rain, Fog, Overcast, Crystal-Clear Sunshine
Temperature: Cold, Cool, Warm
Flora: Lodgepole Pine, Englemann Spruce, Yellow Monkey Flower, Spring Beauty
Fauna: Bison, Bears, Elk, Marmot, Ground Squirrels, Chipmunks, Dung Beetles
Lodging: Historic & Commercial Inns & Hotels, Rustic Cabins, Campgrounds
Congested: Mammoth Main Entry, Old Faithful Area, Other Visitor Centers, Little Used Trails

Extreme ranges. Most definitely. Most definitely awesome. My final word: Go to Yellowstone! I would encourage you to go in June too. The guide book say that in Yellowstone there's July, August, and Winter. I say phooey! Go in June! Avoid the crowds (I hear it's bumper to bumper within the park by July) and the heat and more predictable weather. You can find more of our vacation photos by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

In The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery examines issues of life and death, beauty and art, philosophy and the human condition, and social class through the observations of the two outwardly misanthrope main characters, Madame Michel and Paloma Josse. Superifically, it appears that Madame Michel (the middle-aged, informally educated, gruff, peasant-stock concierge) and Paloma (an acutely intelligent 12-year old daughter of educated upper class parents) share little in common except geography (they live in the same small, but elegant Parisian apartment building) and routine (they perform their obligations and rituals with self-imposed anonymity and contempt). Yet, through their observations and journals, their inner lives are revealed to be strikingly similar: rich, astute, and painfully and accurately observant of the human condition. As the mystery of each character is slowly revealed and related to one another a little ray of hope blossoms in the novel. The blossom is, of course, bittersweet (darn those French!). My opinion? Definitely, read it. It's a solid 4 star novel -- 5 stars for content and style and 3 stars for the rambling philosophy 101.

Book Review: Female Chauvinistic Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy

While this is not a greatly written or very exciting book, it is a great little contribution to the new wave of feminism writing (are we still in the third wave? Or, is it the fourth now?). Basically, Ariel Levy explores in her book, Female Chauvinistic Pigs, two central questions -- #1, What does modern feminism look like and how/why does it differ from that of our parents and grandparents age? #2, Does female raunchy culture compliment or derogate modern feminism? Very, very interesting stuff, especially if you spend anytime around female tweens, teens, and 20's, which, as a teacher, I do. But, probably most interesting to me, because I feel this way too, is that Levy, who plants her feet firmly on the ground that condemns sexual objectification and emulating sex star behavior/attitude/dress/etc as empowering--among other things-- comes to this conclusion: that it's while it's easy to be firmly, ethically, socially, and politically opposed to this new kind of raunch culture as feminism it is culturally difficult to argue against raunch when those who support it make you feel like a square peg. Square peg. Love the song, hate the feeling.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Yellowstone and Teton

We're heading to Yellowstone and the Tetons tomorrow morning.Woo hoo! We'll be gone for two weeks but I hope to post photos and funnies along the way as internet access allows.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Summer 2009

Summer vacation has finally arrived! And while I won't have as much time this summer as I would like to there is still plenty of time for having new adventures and repeating old, favorite ones. Yesterday, we repeated an old fave -- the St Louis Zoo with a few of Willa's friends from school. Good times were had by all. Today, not much planned except a few chores and errands. Woo Hoo!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Crawfish Boil

Some SMOS parent friends (parents of Willa's friend Ava) that live in Benton Park invited us to a crawfish boil in their backyard. Boiling crawfish in the Midwest? That's what I said. Seems a little geographically and culinarily odd to me - but what do I know about boiling and/or eating crawfish? A big nothing except that I hate all things related to touching/cooking/smelling/eating shellfish. That said, who can pass up a crawfish boil? Not me. While I didn't touch the stuff, it was a great time -- great weather, great conversation, great drinks, great fun, and, of course, great hosts.