Saturday, December 29, 2007

Funny Cats 3

I could use a chuckle or two, and this did the trick.

Bush Acknowledges Existence Of Carbon Dioxide

The Onion

Bush Acknowledges Existence Of Carbon Dioxide

"We can no longer ignore the facts – carbon dioxide is real," Bush said.

Friday, December 28, 2007

RIP Benazir Bhutto

I thought I'd return to blogging yesterday (after finishing grading finals), but I found myself too exhausted to think clearly upon waking. The news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto slapped me across the face harder than I thought it would.

One reason is that her killing didn't surprise me. That, in and of itself, made me draw a quick breath. The next reason was that I realized I wasn't so sure Al Quaeda is actually the culprit; without a full investigation (will that ever happen?), Musharraf could be behind it, a man who could easily stand to gain if he intends to be dictator, and his recent love of martial law might indicate that.

Then I got agitated by the media coverage that focused on the current Presidential candidates in this country and how they were responding to Bhutto's death. Everybody, it seemed, turned her assassination into an opportunity to make ridiculous sound bites, except for, perhaps, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. (Suddenly, I realized how little all of the other candidates know of international issues, beyond seeing things in utter black and white.) Suddenly, I felt terror at the very idea of a Huckabee being President--the man just joked the other day about shooting three pheasant because they weren't supporting him in Iowa or some nonsense such as that. I squirmed in my seat because despite liking Barack Obama, he seemed so stiff and green commenting on Bhutto's killing. And see how I've lost focus? I'm still reacting.


A leader, a woman, is dead. Benazir Bhutto was no angel, no Mohandas Gandhi. I joked to my partner yesterday that her family is kinda like the Kennedys--they're mostly all in politics, and they mostly all die. And, they are wealthy, the aristocracy, the beautiful people. They've had their charges of being corrupt (for which Benazir's father paid a dear price: he was hanged), and tragedy surrounds a brother or two (one of whom, if memory serves, Benazir has even been accused, if not murdering, of at least being behind his death). Benazir's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, whom she oddly agreed to an arranged marriage with, is by all accounts a total crook. He, in fact, brought her down as Prime Minister--twice!--because of apparent corruption on his part. (Then again, it's a different world over there, frankly the best of Shakespearean tragedies and histories. Not an excuse, but it's never really fair to expect democratic values from places that have been religious monarchies, or clan run, or however things have been done for centuries. That dumbass mindset of our immediately effecting drastic change like that has been our failing in Iraq, I think. Oops. And here I go, losing focus again.)

Look. Here's why I am grieving Benazir Bhutto:

She had done her due diligance. A brilliant woman, she attended Harvard and Oxford. Granted, only the most privileged of Muslim women get an education like that. (But that's how she came to see there were ways to serve, to champion the rights of the "common people." And the women and the poor of Pakistan adored her.)

She had balls. She returned to her native Pakistan after years in exile, knowing full well her neck was on the line. She was a genuine threat, to both the status quo and to the nutjob Islamic extremists hiding out in the hills. (Musharraf seems to be helping them hide. And why wouldn't he?)

She believed in democracy. She hated terrorism. She embraced the ideal of peace. Read here.



Rest well, Benazir Bhutto. You gave all women hope, in the way Indira Ghandi gave all women hope, that we may one day lead this human race to a place of human respect for each other. Rest well, Benazir Bhutto, with flowers draped upon your body, and know that your sacrifice was not entirely in vain.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

U.S. Military: Defenders of Freedom and of "Normal" Genitals

I had about two seconds this morning between grading final essays (tomorrow I move on to the stack of final exams) to take a peek at Andrew Sullivan's blog, where I found this gem. The United States military, in its infinite wisdom, not only doesn't allow gay/lesbian soldiers into its ranks, but if anyone happens to not have intact genitalia or fully "normal" reproductive function, sorry no! You cannot join up and fight to defend our country's sometimes ridiculous policies. (Hey, and maybe that's a good thing.) According to Hilzoy, here is a list of stuff from the Army's Standards of Medical Fitness that will keep you right out of the military:

*Women who experience unusually heavy menstrual bleeding, or bleeding at irregular intervals, or no periods at all.

*Women born without a uterus.

*In men, "Current absence of one or both testicles, either congenital (752.89) or undescended (752.51) is disqualifying."

*And, for both men and women: "History of major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia such as change of sex (P64.5), hermaphroditism, pseudohermaphroditism, or pure gonadal dysgenesis (752.7) or dysfunctional residuals from surgical correction of these conditions is disqualifying."

So let's get this straight. If a woman has, say, fibroid tumors--and that is incredibly common--she can't sign up. If a guy has, say, an undescended testicle, which affects nothing other than lowering his fertility, he can't sign up.

I wonder what the policy is for soldiers fighting in Iraq who, say, get a testicle blown off?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Most Interesting CD of 2007

I don't buy too many CDs anymore since I tend to download singles from Itunes to my Ipod. But I had to purchase Raising Sand because of the unusual pairing of two polar opposites: bluegrass music's sweetheart, Alison Krause, and rock-n-roll's honeydripper, Robert Plant. Let me first say this isn't the Robert Plant who fronted Led Zeppelin, screeching "Whole Lotta Love." This is a much softer Robert Plant, whom Krause actually had to teach to sing harmony. He pulls it off beautifully, never overshadowing her. You'd think the two had been singing together for years.

Then again, rock and roll has definite blues roots, and many of these songs are blues standards, such as the first track, "Rich Woman." However, Krause and Plant's reinterpretation of the song is downright eerie. It's because they sing the song gently and almost happily, yet the lyric is anything but, and the music is almost sinister sounding, with a hissing snare drum and a stalking bass. It sounds like something out of a spy film from the 60s or 70s when something bad is just about to happen. Yet the disparity between the singing and the music ends up working at the very end when, with Plant's delivery of the last lines, you hear him change the tone to one of regret. Or perhaps one of feeling trapped. It's hard to say, precisely. But someone woke up to their unhappiness. The effect is mesmerizing, fascinating, and you have to listen to it again.

The CD's producer is none other than T Bone Burnett, of O Brother, Where Art Thou? fame. Though if you loved that album, don't expect that same kind of rollicking bluegrass or gospel. I keep looking for words to describe this album: dark, haunting, dreamlike. Above all, it is interesting and a must listen.

My favorite tracks (so far) are "Rich Woman"; "Killing the Blues"; "Through the Morning, Through the Night"; and "Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson." But truly, this intelligent album doesn't have a single poor track. Watch out for this one at the Grammys.

UPDATE: Upon more listenings, I have this to add: the one track that is actually nominated for a Grammy this year is the one I dislike most. It's a cover of the Everly Brothers' "Gone, Gone, Gone." Probably the reason the song creeps me out a little is that Robert Plant's vocal makes him sound like Elvis. On the other hand, this was the only track eligible for the 2008 Grammy Awards in Feb. (Don't ask me to explain the rules.) The rest of the CD will be eligible for 2009's Grammys.

There is also another track on the CD that I'm adding to my list of favorites: "Please Read the Letter." Upon reading the liner notes, I see Jimmy Page and Robert Plant had a hand in writing this one. The buildup to the chorus is awesome.

Survivor: China

I haven't posted much about Survivor this season because I got bored with it early on, but I have actually managed to see all the episodes. Not too surprisingly, the alliance of Todd-Amanda-Courtney-Denise made it to the final four, although Denise blundered by not allying with Pei Gee, guaranteeing herself a spot in the final three. Denise stuck to her word (no one else ever does in this game) and, I suppose, was hoping she'd win immunity; her ethical play would then win her the game. Wrong. You'd think she'd know "the good guy" hardly ever wins Survivor.

I actually thought when Amanda won immunity, she'd win the game because Courtney irritated a lot of people and Todd was known as a slippery snake. Amanda flew pretty much under the radar and even won immunity twice through her own smarts and athleticism. She deserved to win. But she blew it during the final Tribal Council. Maybe it was just nerves, but I've never seen anyone so inarticulate. She couldn't really give a good reason why she should win over the other two; unlike the other two, when invited by Jaime to criticize them, she found her tongue and blasted the other two, and they did not repay her in kind; and when asked what was the riskiest thing she'd done in the game, she admitted that it had been her idea to vote out James. Eric pointed out that wasn't so risky, so her answer didn't impress, AND it lost her James's vote.

So who won? Todd, of course. Being good at scheming and manipulating makes for a winner in Survivor. He is also very well spoken. He got all the votes, except 1 went to Amanda and 2 went to Courtney.

There's one other thing worth commenting on, and that's Denise. Despite her mullet, I had kind of wound up liking her somewhat just because she was the underdog and really wasn't backstabbing anybody. But then things fell apart for her a bit in the last episode. When it was clear she was probably going to be voted out, she got pouty and whiney. I disliked how she tried to guilt trip Amanda into voting out Todd. "You guys have your whole lives in front of you, and what do I have? I have to go back to my seven-dollar-an-hour job as the school lunch lady." I just think "Poor Me" isn't a good reason to win a game. Besides all that, Denise has a husband and kids (or at least one kid anyway), so what was that all about? I wonder how they feel about her "I've got nothing" speech.

But then it turned out that when Denise got home, the school wouldn't give her her old job back (the fact that she'd been on Survivor would be "too distracting" for the kids). So they gave her a job as a janitor working after hours, so Denise hasn't been able to see much of her family. You could say her life's worse now because of Survivor.

So, what did producer Mark Burnett decide to do on the spur of the moment? He gave $50,000 to Denise to help her get back on her feet. Nice of Burnett; and good for Denise; but ... I have to wonder how all the other competitors feel about it.

Oh, well. February sees a new season (the 16th! Holy cow!) and it could be a good one. Apparently it'll be Survivor "Super Fans" taking on a team of Survivor "All Stars." As long as I don't have to see Johnny Fairplay or Rob and Am-buh, I'll be happy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jodie Foster Comes Out


We've all known forever, but thank you, honey, for finally coming out. Here's a photo of Jodie and her partner, Cydney.

Pope Sez Gay Marriage Threatens World Peace


Is a bear holy? Does the Pope sh*t in the woods? Apparently this one does. He likes to poo all over the rights of gay people and women. Da Pope thinks the major threats to world peace, among other things, according to the Pew Forum, are "abortion, birth control and same-sex marriage." This is contained in a 15-page document entitled "The Human Family, a Community of Peace," a papal message for the World Day of Peace, which will be observed Jan. 1.

Da Pope saith: "Everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of new life ... constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace," Benedict writes.

For me, this represents just more general Papal BULL. Yo, Pope. What really threatens world peace? Get out a pad and take some notes: Religious fanaticism does. (More wars have been fought in the name of God than any other kind of war on this planet.) Inequality based on race, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, and so on, does, or will, in the same way unfair taxation without representation did. (People don't like to be oppressed.) A nutjob President taking advice from a power and money-hungry Fascist VP does. But I doubt very seriously a 40 year-old mom, who already has 5 grown kids and she and her husband can't afford another, so they decide to abort, threatens world peace. And I doubt it very much that my desire to wed my partner threatens world peace.

Keep yer rosaries off'n our ovaries, and keep your Sithian nose outta my bedroom.

Hat tip to Shakes.
Tiger Woods Putts Baby Into Diaper

The Onion

Tiger Woods Putts Baby Into Diaper

ORLANDO, FL—Tiger Woods added yet another accomplishment to his already outstanding résumé Sunday when the 13-time major winner successfully putted his baby daughter, five-month-old Sam Alexis Woods, into a fresh Huggies...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sea Lion Visits San Carlos


My partner called me yesterday afternoon and said, "So did you see that a sea lion was blocking traffic in San Carlos?" Naturally I figured she was pulling my leg. "Oh sure. And a rhinoceros was one block over!" "No, seriously," she said. "Look online at the Mercury News."

So I did, and she was right. Yes, a baby sea lion somehow managed to work its way up through a slough from San Francisco Bay (San Carlos is just south of where I live--the gym where I work out is in San Carlos, just off Old County Road, which, it turns out, was the street the sea lion was blocking). Now, there are deer that run around here all the time, especially up in the hills--if I go running, say, in Pulgas Ridge, I'll sometimes see whole herds of deer. When I used to live up on Winding Way in San Carlos, there was actually a six-point buck who camped out in our backyard for a couple of weeks. So, spotting a deer running around San Carlos is no big deal.

However, a sea lion is a different matter! Unheard of 'til now.

Well, fortunately, they caught the little guy and transported him to the Marine Mammal Center, where they'll keep him 'til they know he's fine and can fend for himself. Then they'll release him. Here's hoping he makes his way over to Pier 39 and shares his story with all his pals.

Creationism vs. Darwinism

Follow this link to something cool. It's an animated split-screen movie about our origins. (Select "duelity" to get the split-screen version.) One side shows the creationists' view; the other side shows the Darwinists' view. What's interesting (and unexpected, and funny) is that the creationists' side is narrated using scientific jargon and the Darwinists' side is narrated using Biblical language.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Women's Equality in Iran

I'm happy that Iran isn't building the nuclear bomb Our Dimwitted Preznit has been blustering about, but that doesn't change the fact that Iran is still a tremendous violater of human rights. (I've always supported Amnesty International, although lately I feel like a hypocrite in doing so when my own country is violating the Geneva Conventions by torturing suspected terrorists.) Anyway, what I'm speaking of is Iran's treatment of women.

I've lately gotten around to reading Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, which is a marvelous memoir. Aside from being about the transformative power of fiction, it reports on the religious fanaticism that has overtaken Iran. The book is uplifting, sad, and maddening. The situation in Iran has not gotten better for women. They are being imprisoned for doing nothing more than, say, taking part in a women's rights rally. Just this past Saturday, Jelveh Javaheri was arrested for creating the website We4Change, which promotes women's rights in Iran. According to Feministing, Tehran has now taken to setting up women-run police stations to arrest other women who, for example, wear "tight, short coats and skimpy headscarves." Lashings for arrested women are common.

So, visit We4Change. Add your signature to their One Million Signatures Campaign, which is seeking to gather signatures calling for the change of discriminatory laws in Iran.

Dick Cheney Loses His Mind

From Politico:
Vice President Cheney today predicted Iraq will be a self-governing democracy by the time he leaves office, calling the current U.S. surge strategy “a remarkable success story” that will be studied for years to come.
You betcha! And after he waves his magic wand three times and sprinkles me with fairy dust, I'll win Mega Millions.

Shades of Larry Craig

George Clooney congratulates Julia Roberts on her CMT award, but watch out ... Brad Pitt's in the next stall.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Somethinaboutlaura does it again!

We couldn't make it to Golden Gate Fields yesterday to see the race (the first race, no less!), but needless to say, Somethinaboutlaura made every other horse in the field look like a maiden. It was clear from watching the tape today on Sam Spears' show that jockey Russell Baze didn't ask her for very much, and she crossed the wire under a hand ride.

(We're guessing the Pacific Heights Stakes was the first race yesterday because it is, after all, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Big Game commenced at 4:00. Congrats, Stanford, for getting the Stanford Axe back from Cal after six years. We were rootin' for you guys.)

Anyway. Somethinaboutlaura is a remarkable girl, having won 17 of 30 races, two of which were graded stakes. She's also amazingly versatile, winning races on dirt, turf, and, now synthetic track (Tapeta Footings). The great news is that the plan, according to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, is that she has only one more race to compete in--the Sunshine Millions. Then, the owners plan to sell her as a broodmare.

I hope she remains sound.

If not, she's got a home already. You see that muddy horse below? Udamanmatt? That's Somethinaboutlaura's full brother. Mr. U's owner tells me Laura's got a home, whenever she needs one.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

What Horses Do When They Retire


They go for a roll in the mud. Then they expect you to curry them for an hour.

This is Udamanmatt, who ran at Oak Tree but is now living high on the hog with his new mommy Karen, thanks to Thoroughbred Friends.

I've already extolled the virtues of GEVA in Sonoma, but if you're feeling generous today, they can always use your help as well. Keep on the lookout for a profile of them on Bay Area Backroads.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Save the Ta-Ta's!


On the other hand (see below), this is an example of appropriate risque humor.

I can't endorse this organization since I don't know much about it, other than what Ta-tas says in its mission statement, part of which reads:
Ta-tas® Brand Clothing cares about women and their families. That's why we are committed to making a significant contribution in the fight against cancer. We do this by giving 5% of our gross sales to the fight against the disease. That means, with every sale, every item, every day, all year, every year for as long as we exist, we are fighting cancer from every angle we can. And since our launch in 2004, we have given almost $125,000 to the fight against cancer.
It's not a big company. But it appears to be a small company with a conscience. There's a lot of hilarious clothing and accessories on their website, so go check it out here, and be happy you contributed to a good cause.

Lusty Linda: Rape Ain't Funny, Fellas

Anybody seen this thing?


Well, with good reason, this "Lusty Linda" pencilholder is provoking the ire of feminist bloggers like Shakes and Jessica. Oh, for sure, when I first glanced at it, I merely shook my head ("Those silly boys! Such children!") but then I saw on the packaging that Linda has 8 "lusty sayings" and upon investigation ... well, the "harmless, funny joke" gets a bit more lethal.

Hating women isn't funny. And rape ain't funny, fellas.

Apparently Linda's "lusty" sayings are divided into a "good mood" category (you know, if she's been good, and you're in a good mood) and a "bad mood" category (you know, if you're feeling frustrated, like when some chick pisses you off). The user can switch Linda to the "bad mood" category, plunge his pencil in, and listen to Linda yelp, "Ow!" or "Help! Help!"

HAHAHAHAHA! That's soooooo funny. Not.

Some things simply don't belong in jokes. It's not funny, for instance, to hang a bunch of nooses in a tree as happened in Jena, LA. It's not funny to paint swastikas on a synagogue. And it's not funny to joke about rape. (Think about it: bad mood--sticking it to a girl--she yells "Help! Help!" That's rape.)

Here's one gadget that definitely needs to go into the trash.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who's Your Inner European?

Your Inner European is French!

Smart and sophisticated.
You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.


French?! I was expecting Irish, but whatever. Oh, I mean c'est la vie.

For the Golfers Out There ...

If you get easily bored at work, this little game will distract you for hours, I promise:
Mini Golf

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pets, Not Partners

From Inside Higher Education:
When trustees of Palm Beach Community College reached a tie vote in August on a proposal to offer health insurance for the domestic partners of employees, the measure failed and advocates for gay professors and other employees were disappointed. Because the college only pays for employees’ benefits, the proposal wouldn’t have cost the college a penny, but would have opened up quality insurance at a lower cost for the partners of gay and lesbian employees.

Now — in a move that is seen as adding salt to those wounds — the college has added a new health insurance benefit for some (unmarried) household members of employees: pet health insurance.
It gets worse. Read on:
“Your pet is a member of your family — his quality of life is important to you,” says the promotional material from the veterinary insurance company.
Allrighty, then. Your CAT or your DOG is a member of your family, but your PARTNER is not, no matter how long you've lived together, no matter what your commitment to each other, and nope, not even if you're registered as domestic partners.

Well, this is just one more example of why it is we keep saying domestic partnerships and civil unions really aren't equal to marriage.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Be Thankful for Horses

As I was preparing pie crusts and cranberry sauce today, I was thinking (as this time of year invites us to do) about the things in my life I am thankful for. The list includes my bright, dashing partner; my cats; my health; my job; my friends; and living in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. But another thing I'm thankful for are horses, such as the great Lost in the Fog (pictured here). I miss that speedy boy. Cancer is a scourge not just to human beings.

It may seem funny, but by far the most people I've "met" because of this blog have been horse racing fans who send me emails out of the blue. Horse lovers, it appears, are generous to a fault. There's a stereotype of racing fans being cigar-chomping men who've plunked down hundreds on a horse's nose to win and who couldn't care less about the horses otherwise. 'Tain't so! For sure there are some of those, but every single horse racing fan I've met adores the animals, admires and respects their athleticism, and even loves certain individuals--because surely horses, like anybody, have unique personalities. (I've only been through the shedrows at Bay Meadows once, but I distinctly remember Monty Armi's horse, Comstock Cat, sticking his head out of his stall as I passed by and poking my shoulder with his nose. He wanted a scratch right THEN and THERE. Who could say no?)

I wrote a week ago or so about my partner's and my fantasy about finding the means to retire Proud Patrolman. (The darker side of horse racing is that there are some selfish owners and trainers who will run a horse into the ground; this is not to say that Proud Patrolman's trainer would do that, but Proud Patrolman is getting up there in years--9--and that's kind of old for a racehorse. He's put in his time. He's earned a half million bucks over his lifetime running in levels just a notch above the bush tracks. Yes, he's a bottom level claimer, but he's got a huge heart, and it's high time he got to relax and just hang out in a pasture and munch on grass and be given peppermints to crunch.

There's a wonderful place in Glen Ellen, CA (Sonoma County), a non-profit ranch run by a woman named Pam. She'd take Proud Patrolman if we could pay for his board (which we can't). My partner and I are willing to buy the horse outright or at least help buy him (or claim him, if we must, but that's a mighty commitment for us--$4,000 if we have to claim, assuming he doesn't get placed higher next race since he won his last race. Darn it.) But it appears sponsorship of a sound horse is $150 a month; I'm guessing to board a horse is even more. So I am hoping we win the lottery sometime soon.

In the meantime, because I am grateful that Pam at GEVA does such meaningful and needed work, I made a small Thanksgiving donation through Paypal to GEVA. If you are a horse lover, or an animal lover in general, I urge you to do the same. Check out GEVA's website here.

Thanks for helping.

Pie Crust Ala Margo

Margo Moon, your wish is my command.

2 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 lb. cold unsalted butter (keep it as cold as you can)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Chop the butter into small cubes and cut half of it into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the shortening and the remaining butter and cut them in, leaving 1/4 inch pieces. (This is what will make the dough flaky.) Sprinkle in the ice water, tossing lightly with a fork to moisten it evently, until the dough holds together.

Divide the dough in half and press into 2 balls. Wrap each in plastic wrap and let them rest for 4 hours (or longer) in the fridge. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the circles out. They will go into two 9-inch pie pans. Keep the crusts refrigerated until you're ready to fill and bake them.

Yummy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Horse Racing with the Sopranos

This one is for the dressage fans who read this blog. Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving

Normally my partner and I head out to her parents' for Thanksgiving, except for last year when we lived in Spokane--then we all drove (or flew) to Victoria, BC, Canada for a gathering instead. (And we got caught in a nasty snowstorm on the way back home and had to stay overnight in a hotel outside Seattle.) But this year, my partner has to work the day after Thanksgiving, and needs to go into work for a couple hours on Thanksgiving Day to set up, so ... I'm in charge of the food! Yeehaw! It's been quite a few years since I made a complete Thanksgiving dinner.

We went shopping for the food on Sunday afternoon, so the turkey's been thawing in the fridge. She almost conked me over the head for purchasing an organic turkey for $33. But hey! It's a free range turkey, no antibiotics or growth hormones, so eating it won't make my head as big as Barry Bonds's. That's gotta count for something. Also on the menu: stuffing, gravy, whipped yams, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie. Carb heaven. I'll make the pie tomorrow night and put it in the fridge (I like pumpkin pie to be cold), and the pie crust will be homemade. I have a recipe from Greens restaurant I've been using for years since it makes, hands-down, the flakiest, most wonderful pie crust I've ever tasted.

Oh, and of course there's champagne chilling as well.

Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2007

U.S. Intelligence: Iran Possesses Trillions Of Potentially Dangerous Atoms

The Onion

U.S. Intelligence: Iran Possesses Trillions Of Potentially Dangerous Atoms

WASHINGTON-"Iran maintains the atoms will only be used to form the building blocks of all existence, but we cannot afford to take that risk," DHS Secretary Chertoff said.

Barry Asterisk Bonds

I think we all know that Barry Bonds wasn't swallowing flaxseed oil or rubbing arthritis cream onto his body, and I'm pretty sure most of us agree he was aware of that as well. Looks like it's been decided that there's enough evidence to prosecute him for perjury and obstruction of justice, despite the fact that Greg Anderson never did open his mouth to tattle on his buddy. Probably Barry will plea out and serve a short prison term (hey, maybe George Bush will pardon him!) But here's what a friend and I were agreeing on this morning: the powers that be made Marion Jones give her Olympic medals back; so in all fairness, Barry Bonds' accomplishments post-1998 need to be expunged from the record books.

Hank Aaron, you're still the man.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

OMG, I Get to Introduce Adrienne Rich

My Dean left a message on my cell phone this morning while I was teaching, so I picked up my messages while I was driving home. This is what he said: "We would like you to introduce Adrienne Rich next March, if you can. She's one of the speakers in the President's Lecture Series ... " I almost drove off the road.

Adrienne Rich is a rock star to me. I was first introduced to her work in 1980, as a freshman in college, and as someone just coming out. The Dream of a Common Language was poetry that spoke directly to me (especially the floating poem, unnumbered, in 21 Love Poems, and if you don't know what I mean, I feel sorry for you).

Aside from being a fine poet and essayist, Rich also puts her money where her mouth is. Her professed politics and her actions are in synch. She turned down the National Book Award when she was offered it; instead, she allowed two other women poets to join her in accepting the award on behalf of all silenced women. Even Ole Bill Clinton was not liberal enough for her, and in 1997 she refused the National Medal of Arts, saying the aims of art weren't compatible with the cynical policies of the White House. But she slammed Dubya too. In 2003, she, along with a few other poets, refused to attend a White House symposium on "Poetry and the American Voice" because they opposed the Iraq War.

Rich is a highly respected poet and writer of international acclaim and it is simply an honor to be asked to introduce her. Now let's pray I don't pass out at the podium.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Proud Patrolman

One of my favorite horses is a 9 year-old gelding named Proud Patrolman. He's only a $4,000 claimer, but boy, does that horse have a huge heart. He runs only in the Bay Area (Bay Meadows, Golden Gate, and the summer fairs), but he almost always hits the board. Out of 66 races in his lifetime, he's won 15, placed 12, and showed 15. One of these days, I'm gonna buy that horse and retire him. He deserves it.

He races today at Golden Gate in the 5th, and he actually stands a good chance to win. Local DRF handicapper Chuck Dybdal even likes him to win. Let's wish him luck. I'll be watching the race from the Turf Club.

UPDATE: I couldn't believe he didn't go off as the favorite. Proud Patrolman went off at odds of 7-1, so I was naturally all over that! LOL He closed well, firing up the lane, beating the favorite by a nose: a true photo finish. That totally made my day. Way to go, big guy. Paid $15 on a $2 bet.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Biggest Oil Spill in San Francisco since the 80's

If you don't already know, California got slammed again by another environmental disaster--but this one's not an act of God, but an act of humans. Granted, this was on a smaller scale than the southern California wildfires (then again, humans were behind some of those, too). Anyway. On Wednesday, a container ship headed from the Port of Oakland on a morning socked in by fog--which is common here, mind you--hit the Bay Bridge.

Let me say that again. The ship hit the Bay Bridge.

The bridge is fine. The ship is not. It let loose almost 60,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay. Here is a picture of the water at the Berkeley Marina:



At least eight beaches have already been closed along the bay's coastside, reaching all the way from San Francisco's beaches (China Beach, Baker Beach, Fort Point, Crissy Field), to the Angel Island shoreline, and pretty much up to Richmond. In the opposite direction, the spill goes as far as Muir Beach into Marin County. And let me tell you, some of the beaches are BLACK. It's horrible.

Rescuers are pulling sea birds out of the water. Many of them, feathers slimed by oil, are dead. Other marine animals and fish may be affected as well, such as our city's harbor seals and sea lions, like the ones who hang out at Pier 39.


What hurts even more is that this accident was, most likely, avoidable. In the entire history of the Bay Bridge, no ship has ever struck it. Despite the fact that there was fog, captains piloting ships into the Bay Area have always dealt with this problem, and the captain of the ship that hit the bridge has been a bar pilot for more than 25 years. Besides this, in fog, navigation mostly depends on the ship's electronics, much like airplane pilots depend on electronics. (Consider how many planes land at San Francisco Airport in the same conditions. The fog wasn't so bad that flights in and out of SFO were cancelled that day.)

And airplane pilots at SFO deal with much less navigational space, from what I understand.

Capt. John Cota had a 131 feet wide ship. He was steering it between two support towers of the Bay Bridge. He had 2,210 feet of space to work with. He managed to hit one of the support towers.

Today I hear there is some question the captain had been drinking, or, since it was 8:30 or so in the morning, perhaps still intoxicated from the night before (shades of the Exxon Valdez!) Or perhaps he fell asleep. Or perhaps his job became so boring he was on his cell phone and let the electronics take over. Or, they failed. Who knows? There will have to be an investigation.

But according to the SF Chronicle, Capt. Cota has had four "incidents" of record involving investigations by the Board of Pilot Commissioners. (Then again, it was only four in fourteen years, and we all just love to beat up on a guy.)

I'm trying to be fair. In the meantime, my heart hurts.

A Reminder of the Need for a Woman's Right to Choose

From Yahoo News:
Two weeks after Olga Reyes danced at her wedding, her bloated and disfigured body was laid to rest in an open coffin — the victim, her husband and some experts say, of Nicaragua's new no-exceptions ban on abortion.

Reyes, a 22-year-old law student, suffered an ectopic pregnancy. The fetus develops outside the uterus, cannot survive and causes bleeding that endangers the mother. But doctors seemed afraid to treat her because of the anti-abortion law, said husband Agustin Perez. By the time they took action, it was too late.
Isn't it grand? I've said it before and will say it again: anti-choice legislation kills women. Olga Reyes had a legitimate medical reason to terminate that pregnancy. (And note in this case that there is no chance the fetus would've survived anyway.) But nooooo! Let's compel Mommy to carry THIS fetus, even if doing so makes both of them die.

Sorry. This kind of thing just chaps my behind.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Rep. John Lewis on ENDA

A civil rights leader speaks eloquently, yet simply, about why passing ENDA is the moral thing to do. (The Religious Right, of course, is wrong.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Nashoba's Key Wins Horse of the Meet

The fillies are having a good year! This was sent to me by a local horsewoman:
NASHOBA'S KEY (Silver Hawk) joined the elite company of Light Jig (GB), Halfbridled and 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri as the only females to be named Horse of the Meet in Oak Tree's annual Media Poll since the category was introduced in 1996. A four-year-old California-bred owned by Warren Williamson and trained by Carla Gaines, Nashoba's Key ran her unbeaten streak to seven in the prestigious Yellow Ribbon, rallying to win despite an unfavorable pace scenario. Her skein ended when she finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
Let me add that the track at Monmouth was a mess that day and many good horses didn't handle the track well. There's also some question that jockey Joe Talamo was out of his league. Hmmmm. Maybe. But let's cut the kid a break--he's only 17 and he's done pretty darn well at Santa Anita, Hollywood, and Del Mar. Look, even Secretariat wasn't undefeated. Look for greater things from Nashoba's Key.

Toni Mirosevich's Pink Harvest

You must buy this book. I'd pre-ordered it from Amazon.com, and when it arrived, I tore into it greedily and was done in a matter of hours. Toni's writing is like that for me. On occasion, I'll stumble across her work in San Francisco Chronicle
Magazine
--and I recognized some of the pieces in this book as having been originally published there--and I can count on having the same basic response to whatever yarn she may be spinning: towards the end of the piece, there'll be a sudden flash of insight. (Call it an epiphany if you must.) Sometimes it's pleasant; sometimes it's disturbing. Regardless, whatever it was that struck me will stay with me all day, and I'll keep coming back to it, turning the idea over in my head, no matter how whimsical the insight may've been.

Pink Harvest is a series of short creative nonfiction pieces, linked together either thematically or chronologically, or even loosely linked by a word that reverberates into the next story. Toni Mirosevich's brush reaches fairly broad--to Italy, Croatia, the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, to home just south of the city along the Pacific Coast. Yet the book feels remarkably close; that's how brilliantly Toni is able to paint her world and bring you right into the very foreground. She writes about encounters with people: friends who grow apart, friends who come back together, friends who reveal a secret kept hidden for years. She writes about family: a political discussion with mom, or dad, who ekes out a living from the sea, yet recognizes how wealthy they are when he can show his daughter a small herd of white deer. Largely unsuccessful at prying out of her mother her Nana's stories of the Old Country, Toni seeks out the past in returning to Croatia (meanwhile cringing after the break-up of the Soviet Union that her name, Mirosevich, is so close to Milosevic, which leads to ruminations on violence and guns.) There's also the old man who dies in her neighborhood, leaving behind a home no one knew harbored a million-dollar view. Then there's the spat with his daughter over a writing table she originally hadn't wanted. Toni's partner, Shotsy, a nurse, always hovers on the edges, entering and exiting the narratives, but some of the stories must have come from conversations over dinner, after work: There's the story of the broken, alcoholic ex-Marine who torments his family. The unexpected, underlying message is simply to cherish them, to love them more. But lest that sound schmaltzy, elsewhere in Mirosevich's world, upside-down paintbrushes in a jar can become a heart-stopping insult.

Toni's prose is straightforward yet beautiful, never precious but dead-on descriptive. The book never sags or loses momentum. Every single story holds a surprise. These tales of happenstance capture, I think, what Virginia Woolf meant by "moments of being."

As I said, you must buy this book. Or buy two. Keep one and pass the other along.

[Full disclosure: Toni was one of my instructors at San Francisco State and also was one of my thesis readers, but since I've long since graduated (2001), there's no need for me to suck up. Although I'm sure I sound like a cheerleader, I'm speaking the truth. And, while we're at it, you must also buy her book Queer Street.]

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Good Day for Russell Baze

Frankly, I don't care for Russell Baze. It has nothing to do with him personally. But they don't call it "Baze Meadows" for no reason. He's always messing up the odds.

Even the worst horse in the bunch, it seems, stands a good chance at winning if Baze is aboard. So the odds always get skewed and the best horse doesn't win. If you're doing a Pick 3, 4, or 6, you always have to factor in Russell Baze. It makes for expensive tickets that really don't pay out that much.

But that's only at Bay Meadows or Golden Gate. Russell normally doesn't do much at any other track (so he's known as being a big fish in a small pond.)

Today, Russell Baze showed himself to be a truly great jockey anyway, 'cause I bet against him, figuring any fool can win up north in California. He had two mounts down south in the California Cup and won on both of them.

Good on you, Russell Baze!

Friday, November 2, 2007

California Cup

Tomorrow's the California Cup at Oak Tree, so let's hope I can continue my present winning streak. This time I'll pick at least two horses for each race, and note that last week it seemed my second choice won more often than my first choice. I'll also include two alternates in parentheses.

Race 3, Juvenile Fillies: Runforthemoneybaby and Ice Lady (Love Ya Bye and Cantina's Rose)

Race 4, Turf Distance Handicap Fillies & Mares: Imagine and Memorette (Easy Obsession and Rockella)

Race 5, Matron: Somethinaboutlaura and Bai and Bai (Fun Logic and Swiss Current)

Race 6, Distaff: Dancing Edie and Lady Gamer (Kalookan Dancer and Spenditallbaby)

Race 7, Juvenile Stakes: My Redeemer and Harlene (Sierra Sunset and If It Stays Fair)

Race 8, Sprint: Bilo and Wind Water (Johnny Eves and Excess Temptations)

Race 9, Mile: Now Victory and Jack's Wild (Epic Power and Joy's Comet)

Race 10, Classic: Lava Man and Celtic Dreamin (Bold Chieftain and Tiz Afire)

Race 11 (if you're doing a Pick 6): Brian the Bold and Warren's Scooter (Hy Temp and Apoplectic)

In the second race, Carla Gaines has Joe Talamo on an improving horse named Made the Finals. I don't think he'll be the favorite, and the DRF handicappers are largely overlooking him, so he could offer value. I'll probably toss some money on his nose and toss him in a superfecta with Raise the Heat, Iron Duke, and Yodelen Dan.

In the first, everyone says Flip the Penny should take it, but watch out for Lead Stealer, 'cause he just might do that.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Horse of the Year

I'm sure Curlin will win 2007 Horse of the Year, and he deserves it, but it occurred to me this evening that special kudos should go to Rags to Riches. She's the filly who beat Curlin in the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the Triple Crown. Only two fillies have ever won the Belmont, the last having won in 1905. And, Rags to Riches stumbled at the start and had to recover, well behind.

Look at that stride! Gotta love a lady with long legs.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Earthquake!

Talk about shake, rattle, and roll. I'd just plopped down into our ancient recliner, put my feet up, and flipped on Bones when my ceiling started to shake. Boom, boom, boom, boom! I thought some 400-lb dumbass had climbed up on the roof and was running around. But then my partner came into the room and said calmly, "Earthquake." She was standing, so she could feel that the waves were coming from beneath.

I stood up, but the rolling sensation had already stopped, and the quake was reduced to minor shaking. A few things on shelves rattled; I went over to a bookcase and grabbed a Hard Rock Cafe hurricane glass that was about to topple off. This shaking continued for about 15 seconds, and then it was all over.

The earthquake was on the Calaveras Fault and registered a 5.6. The last big quake in the Bay Area, the Loma Prieta quake in 1989, was a 6.9. Certainly it was the biggest one I've ever experienced since moving here in 1997 (the year I was away in Spokane, there were no quakes of any significant magnitude). Now, it could be that this quake released a lot of stress on the Calaveras Fault, which will prevent a larger quake on that fault for a time (or, alternately, it could be a precursor to a worse one). Everyone's biggest fear is that it will undoubtedly cause stress changes along the Hayward Fault, which is predicted to go at any time. And it's predicted to be a big one, possibly rivalling the 1906 earthquake. Clock's ticking ... a hundred years have passed ... we're definitely due.

But it certainly reminded us to update our earthquake kits (we gave some of our emergency stuff away when we moved out of the area), to bolt bookcases to the walls, and to get art putty under loose glasses or items that can topple and break. At least we have renter's insurance that includes earthquake coverage on our household items. But coverage is so expensive here for anyone who owns a house, a good many folks can't afford it. It's a sad fact that those who need it most have to pony up obscene amounts of money to get any coverage at all because the insurance companies don't want to offer reasonably priced insurance for a castrophe that WILL HAPPEN at some point. So the rates are insane; people can't buy coverage and live praying that the big disaster won't happen. If it does, who will help them? FEMA? Uhhhh ... yeah, right.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Kind of Personality Are You?

What Kind Of Person Are You?

Energetic

You are always hyper and want to have fun

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.


Of course I am energetic. I am a tigger!

Hat tip to Cap'n Dyke.


Life's Been Crazy!

Midterm just passed, so I've been frantically grading essays and quizzes and bucking up for the inevitable meetings I'll need to have with some of my students. You know the one -- where the teacher draws you aside and says as kindly as possible, "You can't move into the next level of English without getting a 'C' or better in this class. At this point, it's no longer possible that you can. Let me encourage you to drop the class. That way, a 'W' shows up on your record instead of a 'D' or 'F.' And, you can start afresh next semester." I feel like a broken record saying this, but honestly with some of these kids, it's the best advice I can offer.

Now, back to the promised post about Breeder's Cup. Holy cow, what a day!

I got to Bay Meadows (walked there as planned), arriving around 9am. I placed a win bet on Indian Blessing, as planned, and then did a quick $8 Pick 4. I singled Indian Blessing in the first leg; in the second leg, I went with War Pass and Tale of Ekati; in the third leg, I chose Nashoba's Key and decided to add in Lahudood because of that horse's connections (same owner-trainer combination as last year's Horse of the Year and Classic Winner, Invasor); and in the last leg, I picked Smokey Stover and Midnight Lute.

Indian Blessing won, and then War Pass won.

Then came the third (the fillies and mares) and it was tough to see Nashoba's Key get passed. But, she hung in there and held on for 4th. Fortunately for me (AND, get this, for my partner, we'd both put her in a dime superfecta box!) We both hit it. It's a $2.40 bet which paid out $118.00. So I couldn't be that glum about Nashoba's Key, and my Pick 4 was alive to the last leg.

Smokey Stover didn't handle that nasty mudpit of a track at all, and Midnight Lute won. Then, the "INQUIRY" light starting flashing, and my heart sank. But then it was okay! The bone of contention didn't involve the winning horse, so my Pick 4 was safe. My partner and I ran down to the bar to see our favorite bartender, M, who watched the boards with us to see the payout. (I had already bought a Bloody Mary earlier with a $20 and then had her keep the change since I'd hit that little superfecta. It's a karma thang, don'tcha know?)

The payout on that $8 bet was $1,032.

Great! Wonderful! But to collect, I had to go home to get my social security card, because that's enough that the track has to report the win to the IRS. Boo. Hiss.

The rest of the day was one grand thing after another. We must've given away over $200 in tips just to our pals--J who seats us, J at Will Call, R in the paddock, and more love for M in the bar.

Betting continued to go well: I was alive once again to the Pick 4 when the Classic came up. (Two of the horses I'd singled the night before Breeder's Cup came in 2nd--Excellent Art and Hystericalady, so I was glad I'd chosen some alternates), but English Channel won like the chamption he is. For the Classic, I'd chosen three horses: Lawyer Ron, Street Sense, and Hard Spun. I was rooting quite loudly for Hard Spun as he went right to the front as he always does and was drawing away from the field on the turn, chugging right along in that slop. Then up came Curlin! Arrgh! Blew my Pick 4, but it was an awesome display of athleticism that I couldn't complain about. Losing to Curlin is nothing to regret, and I'm sure that muscular boy will get 2007 Horse of the Year.

At Bay Meadows itself, I won on a longshot named Welfare Cadillac and then an acquaintance of ours, Monty Armi, who owns several horses trained by Billy Morey, told us that if his horse won the next race, we could accompany him to the winner's circle to be in the owner and trainer's photo. That's always a hoot. He'd told us about his horse, Stephen Bruce, a couple weeks ago and said he'd had his race and was all set to win the next one. And true to his word, that horse killed the field. There was no catching him. Even Russell Baze was laughing afterwards with Monty Armi about there being no chance of catching him (Baze was on the horse that came in second).

The last awesome thing that happened was that there was a raffle going on, I believe, to benefit retired horses (or maybe it was retired jockeys), so we picked up a picture of Lost in the Fog that Russell Baze had signed along with 20 tickets, and my partner won the raffle! It was for a $100 gift certificate to the Saddle Shop in San Mateo, so we'll have to go gear up.

It was a great day. Of course, the only drawback was the one thing about horse racing that gets me down: George Washington broke down in the Classic. Such a shame. At least they put him right to sleep; he had shattered his leg that badly. The irony is that his owners were Barbaro's owners. The second irony is that they had taken him out of retirement to race again when he didn't work out as a stud. The Jacksons must be feeling a bit jinxed right now.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

UPDATE: Guess I'm not sticking to it! A reader emails a quick correction: Roy and Gretchen Jackson bred George Washington but weren't the owners. Aiden O'Brien was the trainer for owner Mrs. John Magnier. The horse also didn't break his leg; he actually broke both sesimoids - which are in the fetlock joint. She notes that it's a shame this turf horse wasn't scratched from an off, dirt track. On this, I'm sure we all agree.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Got Lucky

My partner and I had a good day. We came home with over $1,000 dollars.

My heart is still broken that Nashoba's Key didn't win (she hung on for fourth) and Smokey Stover didn't come in at all.

I'll post tomorrow...

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Am of Three Minds Regarding This Horse

Breeder's Cup, Day Two

These are picks that are off-the-cuff, from the night before race day, and so a caveat: All are subject to change, depending on how the track is playing. And a reminder: I sucked on Day One, not winning a single thing.

I will still stand by two picks I made days ago: Smokey Stover and Nashoba's Key. I feel pretty good about Smokey's love of mud, and I'll root for a Carla Gaines horse any day in a field of fillies and mares.

So here goes, picking winners only (not a Pick 6):

Juvey Fillies: Indian Blessing

Juvenile: Tale of Ekati

FIlly and Mare Turf: Nashoba's Key

Sprint: Smokey Stover

Mile: Excellent Art

Distaff: Hystericalady or Lear's Princess

Turf: Dylan Thomas or English Channel

Classic: All! Just kidding. If I had to choose one ... I can't. Street Sense, and in that mud? Hard Spun.

I wasn't kidding about random dime superfectas. Pick two favorites and two longshots and box 'em for a dime for each race, folks. It's a mere $2.40 bet. If it hits, it'll pay for your day. Good luck, y'all.

No Luck Today

Well, the main track is total slop and the horses were sinking into the turf, and tomorrow's supposed to be even worse. Should be interesting!

In the Filly & Mare Sprint, Coa took Dream Rush right to the front, and La Traviata was tracking her closely. When she shook that horse loose and sprinted ahead well ahead of the turn, my heart sank. The pace was too blistering fast, esp. in that mud, and sure enough, all the frontrunners tanked in the stretch.
The Juvey Turf also resulted in a bit of an upset, although my late call of Achill Island was still not a winner because he came in second. D'oh!
And the Dirt Mile (Mud Mile?) probably will be the end of the line for Discreet Cat. Third time wasn't a charm and that horse has never returned to his winning form. Still, he managed third, but Corinthian gave a very strung out field a total butt-whuppin' (for an awesome video of him spanking the others in the slop, click here). Wanderin Boy dueled with Discreet Cat for third and lost by a head. Note that I'd picked Discreet Cat with Lewis Michael, followed by Wandering Boy or Corinthian. Alas, the 6 horse, Gottcha Gold, hung in there for second. But if he hadn't done that, and if Lewis Michael had been up there, and if I'd boxed them all, then ... then ... haha, but it doesn't work that way, does it?
Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow. Fortunately, I'd wagered only $12 on the day, so it's no big deal. Perhaps tomorrow I'd do better to do dime superfectas and just pick numbers. Because of the upsets today, there's also a Pick 6 carryover at Monmouth, so tomorrow's Pick 6 will be much like a state lottery with better odds.

Turf Mush

The turf at Monmouth is supposed to drain well; nonetheless, due to the rain, the turf course is soft, not firm, and some horses hate that. After Market in the Mile tomorrow is one of them. He may be a scratch. Today, well, the rumor mill is saying Achill Island in the Juvenile Turf may be a shoo-in of the European invaders. He's used to running in mush. Just sayin'. Fifteen more minutes and ESPN2, I'm all eyes and ears!

BC Doubles

These are a fun little play and new, since this is the first time the Breeder's Cup races are taking place over two days instead of one.

You could do a Filly Sprint/Sprint double, so I picked Dream Rush and my hometown fave, Smokey Stover.

And you could do a Mile/Turf Mile double, so I picked Discreet Cat or Lewis Michael with Excellent Art.

The only problem with the Breeder's Cup going on all day is that they commence tomorrow at the crack of dawn! Okay, not the crack of dawn, but let's just say even Bay Meadows is opening its doors at 7:30am. I don't think the first Breeder's Cup race is until 9:30 or thereabouts, but I'll probably get up early, have breakfast, and walk to the track (it's about a half hour on foot). This way I can get in a little exercise and meet up with my partner later (she has to be at work truly at the crack of dawn).

They're having a fun giveaway at Bay Meadows tomorrow, a drawing for a big screen TV (not that I really need one, but still). You select a horse to win the Classic and throw your entry form in the box. At 1:30, they'll draw from the box and keep drawing until they've got an entry for each horse in the field. If your entry is selected and your horse wins the Classic, you get the TV. So for this, you don't want to be picking Curlin or Lawyer Ron or Street Sense because everyone else under the sun will. I'm thinking I'll go with Tiago since he does have a little shot.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Breeder's Cup, Day One

Three of the Breeder's Cup races at Monmouth Park are tomorrow. Here are the horses I like:

Filly and Mare Sprint: I like Dream Rush to win, followed by La Traviata, followed by Oprah Winney. (How can you NOT like Oprah Winney, LOL?)

Juvenile Turf: The Leopard is a live longshot that could win in an otherwise pretty much wide-open race. Tom Battaglia is backing this horse as well. Much might also depend on the condition of the turf; it has been raining out there and so the turf might be a bit too soft. I believe one race today might've been moved to the main track altogether.

Dirt Mile: Discreet Cat and Michael Lewis, in any order, with Wanderin Boy or Corinthian in third.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More on the Breeder's Cup ...

Oh phooey! I didn't realize that the Irish horse, Dylan Thomas, would be running against English Channel in the Turf. Dylan Thomas is another awesome horse, and, as an English teacher, I can't exactly bet against the poet! As my partner would say, "Bah!" Looks like an exacta box to me, but they've got morning line odds of 7-5 (Dylan Thomas) and 5-2 (English Channel). That exacta won't pay poop.

As for the Classic, the plot thickens (click here for today's Daily Racing Form article on the draw). Lawyer Ron, the morning line favorite, has drawn the rail, but he's a stalker. Not the best spot for him. Street Sense, on the other hand, is in post 2, so you can be sure Calvin "Bo-Rail" will take him right to the rail, save ground, and do his usual "get outta my way, I'm flying past you now" in the stretch. Hard Spun's the number 8, and he always goes to the lead, so Lawyer Ron will probably track him.

Tiago has post nine, so watch out. There's your closer. My guts are telling me he'll hit the board.

Curlin is a bit of an anomaly in that he can be placed anywhere and win. I still remember on Derby day watching that little guy, the most inexperienced horse in the field, get bumped around like crazy and still have enough heart to finish third. My partner and I both said, "Watch out for him in the Preakness!" I did hit the trifecta that day. But that one was a no brainer.

There's Awesome Gem and Any Given Saturday to consider, but I'm tempted to toss out George Washington just because that horse is a nutcase.

I still haven't looked at past performances yet, but my partner is taking the afternoon off tomorrow and we are going to Bay Meadows to sit in our box, relax, have a few beers, and get to know each other again. (She's been working a lot of hours lately.) I was thinking about hauling along a stack of student essays since I have two batches right now, but eh. Why spoil a nice afternoon on fretting over comma splices? So perhaps we'll do some Breeder's Cup 'cappin together.

For the non-horse racing folks who check this blog, sorry. This week it's all about the ponies. Any more the Breeder's Cup is more exciting than Derby Day, much as one hates to say it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Looking Ahead to the Breeder's Cup ...

There are three horses I initially am favoring, more for sentimental or "you'd be dumb not to bet this horse" reasons than anything else. I haven't even looked at past performances yet, since I like to do that after the post positions have been drawn. But here are the three:

Smokey Stover in the Sprint: he's our hometown boy! He's stabled ten minutes away at Bay Meadows. He did a great work last Saturday with Russell Baze in the irons, 5 furlongs in .58 seconds and some change. I don't think he'll be the chalk either, so he should fetch somewhat decent odds; I'm hoping 3-1 or something like that.

Nashoba's Key in the Filly and Mare Turf or Distaff: she's one of Carla Gaines' horses (Southern Cal trainer) and the filly is undefeated. She a four year-old who started racing just this January. Out of seven races, four of which (I think) were graded stakes, she's won them all. She beat Citronnade and, for a filly, is amazingly consistent. (She may be up against another local horse, Hystericalady, but I'll have to bet against Jerry Hollendorfer in that case.)

English Channel in the Breeder's Cup Turf: how can you NOT bet that horse?!

As for the Classic, holy cow. It's anybody's race! Street Sense, Curlin, Hard Spun, Tiago, Lawyer Ron, the list goes on. In fact the first four could be an easy "Kentucky Derby based" superfecta. It could happen, although I'll probably look for at least one older horse to be in there. Hmmm.

More on this later ...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Survivor: China

Well, at least last night's episode wasn't predictable. There was a change-up: each tribe got to pick the two members they wanted from the other team, so James and Aaron got chosen to join Zhan Hu, while Frosti and Sherea went over to Fei Long.

But then things turned ridiculous. Jaime managed to take a tumble down my ladder of esteem. This is because she and Peih-Gee decided to throw the immunity challenge. Why? 'Cause they figure they're set to at least make it to the merge, and the more original Zhan Hu players there are left, the better. They deliberately threw the challenge so they could eliminate one of their new tribemates. I think this is colossally unsportsmanlike, aside from the fact that they sucked trying to pull off their huge ruse. Instead of pretending to figure out the puzzle, they just sort of stood there and giggled. Jeff Probst looked entirely unamused.

Thus, Aaron got booted first. You'd think James because of his beefiness, but the rationale was that Aaron, as the former "leader" of Fei Long, probably had made more alliances and posed the greater long-term threat. But unless something in the game changes, we can expect that James will be kicked off next week.

Doesn't make for interesting television, so I'm sure the Survivor puppet masters will throw another twist or two into the next episode to try and nip this strategy in the bud.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Worst Job


Whenever things get me down at work, I look at this and remember: It could always be worse. Much worse. And then I'm grateful I teach.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dumbest Thing I've Heard All Day

Well, except for maybe something George Bush said about us inviting WWIII to happen if Iran is even allowed to gain knowledge of how to build a nuclear weapon (ummm, Georgie? How do you prevent knowledge from being dispersed? On second thought, maybe the man's an expert on the matter.) Anyway. This, from ContactMusic.com, is what Donald "Combover" Trump thinks of modern perceptions of beauty and handsomeness:
DONALD TRUMP is unimpressed with the current batch of Hollywood heartthrobs and heartbreakers, insisting GEORGE CLOONEY is "short" and ANGELINA JOLIE is "no great beauty". The billionaire, 61, insists his position as proprietor of the Miss USA pageant makes him an authority on who is hot and who is not. Trump tells talk show host Larry King, "One of the perceptions I had of George Clooney was he was this big, strong guy. And he was very little when I met him." He adds of Jolie, "Angelina Jolie is sort of amazing because everyone thinks she's like this great beauty. And I'm not saying she's an unattractive woman, but she's not beauty, by any stretch of the imagination. "I really understand beauty. And I will tell you, she's not - I do own Miss. Universe. I do own Miss USA. I mean I own a lot of different things. I do understand beauty, and she's not."
Where do I begin? Dang, y'all, I'm a dyke and I wouldn't kick Clooney out of bed! But here's Trump stuck on the man's height. Tsk, tsk. Tain't height that makes might. As for Angelina Jolie not being a beauty, I suppose Trump means she's not a bleached-blonde bimbo who'd do his bidding.

What's more hilarious is that he apparently thinks he OWNS beauty, as if his money and purchase of pageants have given him the authority to define the word. Mr. Trump (don'tcha love his name? It sounds like he's an elephant blowing his trunk-bugle), that's the great thing about real beauty. It's ineffable. It's like being a great jazz musician; the music's either in your soul or it's not, and it changes with every person. It's certainly not something you can purchase (half of silicone Hollywood has tried and proven that doesn't work). Beauty is more about how the inner and outer qualities of a person combine to make others feel. Beauty can't be bought--it's priceless.

Feisty Little Sucker, Isn't He?



Little tigger apparently doesn't like piggies.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Still, An Obama/Cheney Ticket Seems Unlikely

I swear I didn't swipe this from the Onion. It's from Cnn.com, where, according to the VP's wife:
"In an interview on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon, Mrs. Cheney said that in the course of researching her husband's genealogy for her new book, "Blue Skies, No Fences," she discovered that the two public figures share an ancestor eight generations ago."
Jeebus, I hope this doesn't get the "Obama's not Black enough crowd" up in arms again.

Cooler Than Jesus on Toast

Saw this on the Today Show this morning. Apparently the photo on the left was shot at a ceremony in Poland commemorating the 2nd year anniversary of Pope John Paul's death. There he is, blessing the crowd from the flames. Man, if this doesn't get him sainthood, nuffin' will.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

There She Goes! Somethinaboutlaura


I've blogged about this horse before, when she was up against a field of boys but got scratched by the track vet just before the race. She's an awesome girl, and today she met (granted) a small field of fillies and mares. Still, Somethinaboutlaura's chief rival was no weakling by any means, Victorina, whose connections alone make you stand up and take notice (Greg Gilchrist and Harry Aleo, both of whom were at the track today, Aleo in his trademark white cowboy hat) saddling their filly.) If you don't know, Gilchrist-Aleo owned/trained Lost in the Fog, and are presently running Smokey Stover, a contender in the Breeder's Cup Sprint this year. These two place their horses well. It's hard to bet against them.



So ... I convinced my workout partner, T, to take us to the track to see this race, since my partner was working, because I just love Somethinaboutlaura (a Hollendorfer trained horse), who seems to own the track at Bay Meadows. I found it interesting that Russell Baze hopped off Laura to hop on Victorina, and I figured those two would get into a mighty duel. That's the kind of thing you need to see in front of you, hearing those thundering hooves, if you can. Simulcast or TVG don't cut it.

Well, those two girls didn't duel after all. Somethinaboutlaura wired the field, dueling briefly with the 6 horse. Baze shot up at the end to try and overtake her in the final furlong, but it was no contest. She kicked Victorina's butt anyway. Sheer athleticism won the race, not strategy.

Still, I figured it would wind up being those two at the end, and the odds were something like 4-5 and 6-5, hardly worth an exacta box, so the trick was picking the third horse. I landed on the Miyadi/Campos trainer-jockey combo. Miyadi usually won't run a horse unless it has a chance; he tends to use apprentice jockeys for the weight break. Campos wins quite a bit. At 36-1, it was a good risk to complete the trifecta.

I was right, and it paid $9.50 on the dollar, not a bad bet. I wish I'd put more than $2 down. But that's what I get for being cheap. :-)

Al Gore Wins the Nobel Peace Prize

He's simply so much smarter, and so much more articulate, than the present Doofus-In-Chief

Friday, October 12, 2007

Congratulations, Al Gore


From the Associated Press:
For years, former Vice President Al Gore and a host of climate scientists were belittled and, worst of all, ignored for their message about how dire global warming is. On Friday, they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their warnings about what Gore calls "a planetary emergency."

Gore shared the prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of scientists. This scientific panel has explained the dry details of global warming in thousands of pages of footnoted reports every six years or so since 1990.

Gore, fresh from a near miss at winning the U.S. presidency in 2000, translated the numbers and jargon-laden reports into something people could understand. He made a slide show and went Hollywood. His documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won two Academy Awards and has been credited with changing the debate in America about global warming. For Gore it was all about the message.
And if one more person calls the man a hypocrite for living in an electricity-sucking mansion, I challenge that person to look up "carbon credits" and see how the Gores are more than making up for any energy they use.