who's the ECL?

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm not BAD evil, more like devil's food cake evil.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Violet's Adventures

1. Figure out how to get around the booby trapped counters.
A Typical Day for Violet

2. Meanwhile, rummage through trash.
A Typical Day for Violet

3. Steal butter from counter, and eat a tablespoon plus some paperboard and waxed paper. Dee-lish.
A Typical Day for Violet

4. Try to knock down the new garbage can. Boo.
A Typical Day for Violet

5. Cuddle with Pippin. Whassup bitches?
A Typical Day for Violet

Monday, August 17, 2009

Musings On Men and Their Junk

Okay, so you know when there's a big banner of some dude, so that he's larger than life? And if his bulge is included in the big banner, do you think they enlarge the bulge at a different percentage so that it's not too big so that it won't offend little old men and women? And if that's true, do you think the person that the banner is of would notice that his bulge is underrepresented, and would he demand that he be shown properly enlarged?

I think this deserves some research.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cats, I'm a Kitty Cat


So I got a new kitty the other day; her name is Violet. I went to the Oregon Humane Society and in some ways it was hard to just pick one cat, when I wanted to rescue 90% of them. (Sorry 10%, I could just tell we weren't going to get along.) In other ways, it was hard to find the right cat, as I apparently had a long list of traits I wanted my new cat friend to have.

For example I wanted
1. Pippin's new BFF
2. who wasn't too shy
3. or too bossy
4. who was kind of independent
5. who wasn't a tortoiseshell
6. or a tuxedo cat
7. who wasn't too old
8. who wasn't a kitten
9. who was easy going
10. and not long haired
11. and outside experienced
12. and well socialized with both people and cats
13. and didn't have any major health problems

Magically, there were several cats who fit the bill, but when it came down to it, I chose a petite girl cat who is 1 year old, and was given up for adoption because she got knocked up. She had her babies in foster care and they have been all adopted out. She's fixed now, and she has pretty green eyes. She was born in her previous owner's home and lived with cats and dogs. She's been home with Pips and I for a day and half now and already she's settled in to our routine. Pippin at first seemed pretty pissed off that I brought a stranger into our home but today I saw him trying to engage her in play or cuddling. She's still a little aloof with him, which I hope is very temporary. I know Pippin is patient and determined enough to make any cat like him but I hope he doesn't have to wait too long with this one.

I kind of feel like I'm cheating on grumpy fluffy Anastasia, but I don't think I'll ever have a relationship with an animal like I did with Annas. And poor Peepers has been lonely these last 4 months. I can't ignore the live one's needs just to honor the dead one, you know?

And in the spirit of cats, here is a really dumb but totally addictive video (I've watched it 4 times in the last 24 hours):

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Feeling a Little Fudgy

I swear an inordinate amount; not as much as some people, but a lot. Not everybody is excited by this. So in the spirit of brotherly love I decided I'd substitute "fudge" for the F-bomb. It works most of the time. And saying things like "GET OUT OF THE WAY YOU MOTHERFUDGER" is actually more satisfying than you think.

I got this idea from my sister who likes to say "what the fudge" but will also use fudge as a substitute for shit (which I barely consider a swear word, seriously), as in "this is the kind of fudge I've been dealing with," which I can imagine her saying to me as she points to her child having a major breakdown in the aisle of the grocery store.

Fudge has started to morph a bit in my brain to now be able to also describe an emotion that is essentially cranky, exhausted, weepy, lonely, and kinda elated. I call it feeling a little fudgy.

I am recovering from a birth that was long and hot and amazingly slow. We were at turns hopeful and excited, frustrated and exhausted, hot and sweaty, cold and sore, scared and amazed. Everybody is fine and baby is adorable, but the road we took to get there was as wild, unpredictable, and long as anything you could imagine. Spending the last three days with them in such circumstances has left me feeling a little emotionally attached. Clearly I'm still finding my way out of the labyrinth. While my physical body recovers with sleep, real food, fresh air and showers, we'll wait for my emotional body--which feels tattered and worn--to catch up.

Just feeling a little fudgy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I talked to my parents this afternoon, and mom told me to say hi to everybody. She said it, like, 3 times so I know she meant it.

So everybody, my mom says hi.

mom's happy she found the orchids

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Viva the Birth!!

This is a very funny and very sweet video about birth and midwives, as told by children and photos. The kids are hilarious. It is in Spanish with English subtitles.

WARNING: At 3:58 they begin telling the story of homebirth via photos, so if you aren't interested in seeing beautiful naked women and the miracle of babies coming out of vaginas, you might want to fast forward to 5:51 and safely watch though to the end. But know that you missed some wonderful stuff.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Update; Check out my Bunny!

Hello blog readers,

Pippin and I have been spending a lot of time together and I think he's beginning to like being the only cat; he gets attention pretty much any time he wants, which has been pretty often. However I know he would rather cuddle with another cat than me. All in good time, little Peepers!

My nose and sinuses have been clogged since that first post about Spring in late March. Sigh.

Oh--that reminds me! A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine had a birthday potluck and so I decided to bring Salad Rolls. I was chopping up a bunch of carrots for the spring rolls when all of a sudden it felt like a bug was stuck to my right eyeball. My already dry, itchy, red eyeball. Of course I wanted to get whatever was in my eye out of my eye, so of course I started rubbing it. Which of course, made it worse.

Hey, did I mention that I am allergic to raw carrots? And that I was chopping them up? And rubbing my eye?

Several hours later, I looked at my poor eyeball in the bathroom mirror and not only was my entire eye flaming red, but it looked like my eyeball was swollen. Seriously. What was the white of my eye was 100% red AND when I looked to the left I could see my eyeball wrinkle. The brown part of my eye (the iris?) wasn't swollen so it looked a bit indented, and that's what the white part (the cornea?) wrinkled up against. It was WEIRD. I also noticed that my entire eye socket was a bit swollen. I was freaked out--what if my eye kept on swelling and exploded? Or shot out of my head? I could die!

Luckily, Cookie is an optician and someone I can call at 1 am to ask crazy eye questions. She told me not to worry, to ice my eyeball, to come see the Dr. the next morning at 9 am, and told me it was probably because of the carrots. (I hadn't put that together yet.) I did all those things, plus sleep with the light on just in case my eye did decide to explode overnight.

The doctor took a look at my still swollen eyeball the next morning, gave me the same advice Cookie already did, plus told me to start squirting artificial tears every hour. Which I did. And made it to the birthday potluck!

Holy crap, people. I had no idea one's eyeball could swell like that. It was freaky. Thank God for Cookie. She talked me down from a major panic.

I have also been doing a lot of crafty things lately which makes me very happy. I have been baking a ton (I'm about three posts behind over at Eat My Cake), I have been knitting (more on that in a minute), and I even started process painting!

Process painting is awesome because it is not about the product, it is about the process. It is about intuitive painting, without caring about what ends up on the paper. It is precisely for people like me who believe they can't draw or paint. And it is SO fun!

About the knitting: that Ravelry is freakin awesome. I can spend so much time wandering around in there. This is usually how it begins: I search a pattern, for example for a baby sweater. I find a neat looking pattern, then I start looking at the gallery of all the baby sweaters (of that pattern) other Ravelry members have uploaded. There can be hundreds of these, and it is always inspiring to see how each person has made the pattern his/her own. Sometimes I really like what a particular person has done, and so I start looking around their own personal gallery of projects--those in progress, those finished, those abandoned. And sometimes I really like the yarn a person used, so I look at all the other projects people have done in that yarn. And then I find a pattern I like, and so it goes. Also, there are a lot of free patterns on Ravelry; I now have quite a file of Things I Intend To Kit Someday.

And, look what I made!


I mean, the bunny isn't perfect, but I think the cute factor makes up for that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Presidents Washington and Obama, and a Football

Hey, did you guys know that there is an Official White House Photostream on flickr? And, the photos are all tagged with a Creative Commons license. And, they are downloadable. How cool is that?

The Official White House Photostream

Monday, April 20, 2009


When I lived in San Francisco, I worked the bar in a steakhouse downtown. I quickly became buddies with all the servers (mostly men) and after the restaurant closed we would go across the street to the bar and hang out. One of the servers constantly showed up for work with bloody scratches all over his hands and I finally asked him what the heck was going on.

"I got a cat," he admitted. "She gets feisty."

I met the cat one evening and she was this adorable little ball of fluff. A tiny little fluffy kitten who meowed a lot and liked to play fetch with beer bottle caps. Her name was Anastasia.

racoon tail

One night he came to work looking dejected and told me he needed to give Anastasia away. He was too busy being a drunk to take good care of her. I couldn't let that little ball of meowy fluff go to just anybody, so I adopted the kitty cat.

I'll never forget that first night when he dropped her off at my apartment. He brought her in with her litter box, a few toys and some cans of food. We hung out for a few hours, drank some wine, and then he got up to leave. She trotted behind him only to be stopped up short by the door closing in her face. She sat there for a bit, waiting for the door to open. My heart broke a little bit watching her. I tried to be really loving and open with her in those first weeks. I talked to her a lot, I let her approach me for petting. In one of the first days that I left her alone she accidentally pulled down a mat and broke half of my glassware. I came home and the little kitchen was littered with shards and chunks of glass and my new kitty was nowhere to be found. I cleaned up and then called to her until she creeped warily into sight. I sat down on the floor of the kitchen and coaxed her in. We petted a bit then I fed her.

When she was young and crazy she liked to wait until I was almost asleep then pounce on me. Once I woke up just in time to see her lunging at my face. Anastasia was one of those cats that needed to initiate petting. Otherwise she would get mad and nip or scratch. Most everybody was afraid of her, especially when she was young.

anastasia is sitting on my hair

Right before I moved to Portland my family took a trip to England and some friends were supposed to watch Annas. She got lost and they couldn't find her. After being lost for almost a month, I finally gave up hope. The next day, as I was visiting my friends for the last time, I heard a faint and sad meowing at their back door. There was my kitty girl, all dirty and scrawny and weak. But there she was, my little kitty girl.

One of my roommates in Portland encouraged her to go with him on his late night walks. Ever since then she liked to go for a walk in the evening. She would just follow behind me as I walked around the block. Later on when we adopted Pippin she taught him to go on walks, too.

A Nice Day In Portland

As the years went by Nannas got older and Pippin took the place of the cute active cat who liked to play fetch. She stopped going for walks. She slept a lot and liked a lot of lap time. Annas never liked other cats but Pippin was persistent. Finally, after four or five years, I would find them sleeping together in the same chair, and sometimes even cuddling. That made me happy.

she's NEVER this nice to him

Anastasia started steadily losing weight last fall, and in January reached a dangerously low weight. She was weak and lethargic, dehydrated and uninterested in eating. She didn't even look like herself. She looked like this unknown sick cat. Right before I left for Mexico the vet drew some blood and said she was in the early stages of kidney disease. We got her stabilized before I left and she did well.

In the last three weeks or so she was starting to look really good. She stopped looking like a sick cat and looked just like her old fluffy self, even if she was skinnier. She was hungry and ate well, she had good energy and seemed to be in good spirits. It was really nice to see my old kitty girl again. I felt like instead of having months left together, we had years.

Four Paws Forward

Friday night she started throwing up her food. She threw up all day Saturday and wasn't interested in eating last night. Sunday morning she woke me up at 6:30 am in the grip of a seizure. She had three more seizures by 8:00 am. We were at the vet's by 9:00 am. The vet did a blood work up, and my worst fears were realized. Around 12:30 pm, her little fluffy head fell gently to my knee, her chest stopped moving, and my heart, just like all those glasses 13 years ago, shattered into a thousand tiny pieces.

The Mayans believe that the souls of the dead are carried across an ocean to their final resting place in a boat made out of the grief and tears of the bereaved. Anastasia was my baby, my kitty girl, my best friend. She would cuddle when I was sad, and be concerned for me when I took a bath. She was my constant companion. She was my love and my joy and my heart. I am building her a beautiful boat, shaped by my grief and held aloft by my tears. I wish you a safe and peaceful journey back home, Anastasia. I miss you, and I love you.

cat, sun, outside

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Selectively Open

We have an OPEN sign on our door at work:

Today I would like to amend our open sign thusly:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Donor Banks

Portland is trying to start up a local milk bank which is totally awesome. Right now the nearest milk bank is in Colorado.

If there were such thing as a phlegm bank, I would be the top donor. That's right, friends, allergy season officially began this afternoon and I can't stop producing phlegm!

Or sneezing! Or the post nasal drip! My eyes--they are burning and itching!

No wonder Spring isn't my favorite season.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Where Have I Been?


Playa del Carmen

Here (but I didn't climb up; flip flops and mayan ruined steps don't mix):

Nohoch Mul


grand cenote

Here, with the Real World (certainly NOT on purpose):

an mtv reality show is happening up there

Also, the Houston Airport (where nobody smiles or looks you in the eyes), the ruined temple of Ixchel, Zona Italiana (where everybody smiles and looks you in the eye), the worst ferry ride in the world, and amongst some of the friendliest locals I've met.

And now, I am here:

It is hard to return to regular life, but I am trying.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hello Mr President!

us and barack., originally uploaded by jensteele.

Today was a great day. Did you all watch President Obama's inauguration speech? In case you didn't, or were really sleepy when it happened (it was early here on the west coast), here's the transcript of his speech:
(Thank you CNN.com)

(CNN) -- Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States and the nation's first African-American president Tuesday. This is a transcript of his prepared speech.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again, these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hello, 2009

Well, well. 2009. When did you sneak in here?

I haven't known you that long yet, but I hope that we'll have a great and productive relationship together. I hope that we'll have fun, meet new and (in a positive way) interesting people (especially of the single male and possibly accented-in-speech variety), deepen our friendships and knowledge, and explore new horizons (literally and figuratively). 2009, I hope that you are a year that is overall enjoyable, not only for me but for those around me. You've got a lot of tough stuff to overcome, what with the economy in the toilet and everyone freaked out, wars being waged all over the place, the environment in crisis, and people's continuing cruelty to one another. Not to mention my own little personal crises, which thankfully are kind of small at the moment.

2009, let's make this a good year. Let's learn our lessons without too much trauma and drama, let's not be too afraid to embrace the changes we need to make, let's treat our bodies and minds with love and respect, and let's be a little more open-hearted towards everybody else in this world.

And 2009, thanks for the first lesson I've learned thus far: club sandwiches and lip rings do not mix. I'll go down to the piercing shop tomorrow and get it put back in. Thanks for letting me know.