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    • CommentTimeNov 28th 2008
    Don't you hate it when you actually need to go to a store on Black Friday? Oh well, it's late in the day, maybe that means it won't be so busy. But then, I bet the cat litter I use is all gone by now (it's popular and is often not in stock on a normal day).

    Ever since moving to Austin, holidays have felt more like they're supposed to (as seen on TV) because the trees in this city change according to the seasons. They change color, drop their leaves, bloom with flowers in spring.

    Back in my hometown, at least out in the rural area I lived, most of the trees are junipers (evergreen). And the undeveloped land just turns brown or beige - loses all color basically. Plus, the weather is usually very nice into late November, and most Thanksgivings are sunny without a cloud in the sky. (I'm not complaining about the nice weather, but I know most of the rest of the country has cold, rainy, or snowy weather.)

    Just an hour south in Austin though, there's more rain and therefore more diversity in weather. Driving to my in-laws yesterday, I was still amazed by all the different colors of vegetation. I have to sweep leaves off my balcony all the time; whereas growing up I had never raked or swept a leaf up in my life.

    Last month I was vacuuming out my car and wondering why there were so many damn leaves. I thought, "I never used to track leaves in my car. Do these shoes attract leaves easily?" But then it dawned on me - Duh! There weren't many trees back home that lost leaves in fall/winter. I mean, in art class one time when we had to do something with big leaves (like from an oak or maple), the teacher had to bring in a bunch for us. I used to live in another house that had huge oaks, but not after I was 10.

    Isn't this just insanely interesting?! Yes, I have the "insanely" part right.

    I hope everyone elses holiday was fun and stress-free!
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2008
    I frequently forget that other places don't necessarily have typical seasons like we do up here in New England. I'm quite jealous of anyone who lives anywhere it doesn't snow, but I think I would probably miss the seasons changing every few months. Also, it's kind of funny to think about growing up somewhere where there really aren't any deciduous trees (or trees at all), since I've always lived surrounded by them.

    Thanksgiving was ok for me...low key, which I prefer. Went up to my brother's place, drank some beer, ate a bunch of food, came back early, alternated between napping and watching reruns of House on TV. I know that sounds sad and dull, but it wasn't bad...it made a nice night to not have to do anything. I went in a store today, though not voluntarily...it's my Dad's birthday tomorrow, so I had to get him a card and a gift, Black Friday or no. It wasn't crowded...it must have been late enough in the day that all the crazy folk had gone home.

    Abruptly changing the subject, I recently read a pretty good book: Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell. It was about magicians in Victorian England, and was surprisingly entertaining. It somewhat reminded me thematically of the Baroque Cycle, in the way that the author really immersed her story in a historic period. It was a bargain book, picked up with no expectations, and it held my interest and really turned out pretty well. Link is here in case that piques anyone's interest.

    Also, I didn't get that job I interviewed for...they wanted to hire me, but their budget came in $500K less than they expected, so no hiring at all. I suppose it's reassuring that they would have hired me...I guess.

    Anyway, on a less depressing note, hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving, and a well deserved few days off from crap.

    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2008
    I love that I get the full range of seasons here. None of the seasons really get too intense, and even when they do, it doesn't last long. There'll be a cold snap and maybe a blizzard in the winter and a short heat wave in the summer, but otherwise, things are pretty cool around here:) Leaves do suck though. I used to hate raking leaves at my parents old house... but their newer house didn't have many trees and my homeowner's association takes care of the public areas in my development, so I'm all good now:)

    Thanksgiving was just about the usual for me. It was at my brother's this year, along with his wife's family (our families get along pretty well, so this is actually pretty fun).

    Every year we do a little egg nog tasting. This year's was a little lame, only 3 varieties of egg nog. Last year, we had 13 (which was way too much). We'll have to coordinate better next year:p

    I've heard good things about Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell, but never got around to picking it up. It came out around the same time as the Baroque Cycle, and it sounded like it had a similar feel... but after 2700 pages of Baroque Cycle, I wanted to move to something different. But it's on the list...

    Sorry about the job. Economy seems to be messing with everyone these days.

    Anywho, I'm heading up the mountains tomorrow. Hunting seasons starts Monday... Be back on Tuesday:)

    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2008
    I went to Death Valley for the Thanksgiving break. If any of you don't know, it's a national park in the California and Nevada deserts, home to all sorts of beautiful natural formations and the lowest point on land in North America (~280 feet below sea level), which is interesting considering before you descend into the valley, you ascend 5,000 feet on the road there. Death Valley is at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

    Not far from Death Valley is Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States. Since the national park was closed on Thanksgiving itself, we spent that day in a little town called Lone Pine at the foot of the peaks, then went by what's left of the WWII Japanese internment camp at Manzanar the next day before heading to Death Valley. Pretty interesting. Also extremely depressing.

    Anyway, Death Valley was amazing. Beautiful. So very beautiful. I took a bajillion pictures. I'll link to some of them when I get around to putting them online. It's amazing how quiet it is since there's no major cities, no traffic, no street lights, little wildlife, nothing, nothing but the wind and the sound of blood rushing through your ears. Unsurprisingly, I did a lot of hiking, climbing around on things I probably shouldn't have (because I have no grace), rolling down of gigantic sand dunes (the result of which, it seems, is that I'll never quite be able to get all the sand out of my shoes). There are crows there that are big enough to mug me and buy $1700 worth of crap on Amazon before I could cancel my credit cards.

    LA also has that kind of non-seasonal change that Spencer describes. I was up in Sacramento (in northern California) a few weeks ago and was enjoying all the leaves that had changed colours. Our trees here are holding out until the bitter end. Not that it's hard for them. It's been in the 70s lately and that's a considerable cool down from only a couple weeks ago. I'm not trying to complain about the abundance of fair weather but it gets a little monotonous eventually. Especially when your first indication that the seasons are changing is some new random-ass flavour at Starbucks. It's actually seemed especially warm especially late into the year the past couple years.

    foucault, if you move to LA, I will hire you as my trusty sidekick. Depending on our combined skill sets, we will either fight crime or commit it. There will, of course, be snazzy costumes.

    I always forget about eggnog. And then it's time for eggnog. Mmm eggnog. tallman, be wary of Dick Cheney while on your expeditions.
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2008
    "Depending on our combined skill sets, we will either fight crime or commit it."

    That's the funniest thing I've read all day.

    Of course, I just woke up, but still, I think it has a chance of remaining the champion.

    As for hunting, I didn't see anything. Well, there was this one squirrel who was freaking taunting me. It's usually pretty quiet out in the woods and fields, so you will often hear something coming before you see it... in my case, it was always that freakin squirrel. But other than that, nothing. No deer at all, not even a doe. No former vice presidents either. Shit. I think part of the reason for this is that I didn't choose my spot very well (though I was told that someone took a deer from where I was last year, so who knows?)... I did no preparation at all, aside from sighting in my gun. Next year, if I get off for this again, I'm going to have to make sure I walk the fields and find the common paths, etc... and maybe get me a treestand. Or something.

    My brother did get a shot off though. He's certain that it was a good hit too, but we couldn't find it. I took an hour break and scoured the woods near his treestand looking for a blood trail or fur or the deer itself. Nada. It probably ended up on our neighbor's property. We asked him to take a look, but so far, no news... We think part of the problem was that my brother was using a .44 magnum rifle and that the bullet didn't exit. The .44 has plenty of stopping power, but it's not what you use if you want penetration (hehehe, penetration), and exit wounds are generally what bleed (which allows you to track the deer much better). If he'd been using my .30-06, he might have done better. But then, another of the folks we hunt with lost a deer as well (though he was able to track it to a different neighbor, who we are apparently not as friendly with...)

    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2008
    "Depending on our combined skill sets, we will either fight crime or commit it."

    That is, hands down, the best and funniest thing I've heard in a while. Dyre, I'd be proud to be your trusty sidekick and smite and/or instigate evil, but I hope you'll understand if I ask to see the costumes before I commit to a cross country move. However, if you can promise it involves velour, then I'm definitely in, and will be living on your couch by the end of next week.

    Death Valley sounds fantastic. I'm well overdue for some serious hiking. I was supposed to do a week long backpacking trip up to Maine with my brother last year, and then again this year when last year fell through...but it fell through again, and now it's winter. You can backpack in the winter, but its not as much fun with the cold and the needing extra gear. And I'm out of vacation time until February.

    tallman, I used to work with an entire crew of guys who all loved hunting...and some of my friends are hugely into it, but I've never gotten into myself. I like shooting, I love the woods and tromping around in them, but never really got into hunting. I'm a huge fan of fishing, though (fly-fishing, spinning reels are for amateurs). One of my best friends finally got a deer this past week or so, after several years of fruitless hunting. Well, meatless hunting, I guess.

    A guy I used to work with specifically and only hunted with a .30-06, until he had an unfriendly encounter with a moose in Vermont. He bought a ridiculously overpowered .45-70 the day he got back, but as of the last time I talked to him, has shot neither a deer nor a moose with it.