Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? I AM!!

I am not an animal person, period. I hate to come off as an insensitive, cold-hearted person, but yeah. If I never touched a live animal again for the rest of my life, I would totally be okay. My favorite animals are stuffed, behind glass, or chained up behind fences. Sorry.

Also…I am terrified of dogs. I was there when my friend Lauren got a black lab puppy for her sixteenth birthday and I have never touched her. My friend Jake physically made me pet her gigantic dog Roxy one time. I almost died of fear. People ask me if the reason for this irrational fear is that I’ve been attacked or bitten by dogs before, but I haven’t. My brother was bitten by Ralphie, the miniature schnauzer down the street, when he was a little kid, but it was a minor incident (minimal blood, no stitches necessary) and I think he provoked Ralphie by trying to make him dance by holding up his paws so he was standing on his hind legs. But that’s it.

Actually, I think the root of my fear of dogs started in my early childhood, which was, like any kid’s should have been, steeped in fairytales, folktales, cartoons, and Disney movies. As I’m sure you know, the Big Bad Wolf plays a prominent role in many fairytales. I remember, before I could even read, looking through picture books and skipping the pages with the wolf illustrations on them; they absolutely terrified me. Here are some examples:

Growing up, I realized that wolves were cunning, conniving, sneaky, and bad. His name was the BIG BAD WOLF, for Pete’s sake. And he ate little girls. I was a little girl. Look at how he tried to eat all three of the little pigs. Recall that he ate poor Peter (and his friends) and Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother (So old! So helpless!), attacked Belle and her father and wounded the kindhearted Beast, and toyed with Little Bo Peep. He always had scary evil eyes, huge fangs, and was dripping saliva in every cartoon or book.

As I grew older, I think the wolf fear morphed into a dog fear. My brain now sees no disconnect between the two. Do you remember the absolutely terrifying wolf-dog-thing in The Neverending Story (not the benevolent white pearly flying dog, but the evil scary dog that chased Atreyu and intended to kill him)? That is basically how I see all dogs. So Bella, Guinness, Max, Roxy, Chloe, et al., I’m sorry to lump you in with the Big Bad Wolf and the monsterwolf that wanted to kill Atreyu. I understand that you “wouldn’t hurt a fly” and are “so nice.” But next time I come over to your owners’ homes, please just stay in the backyard.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Big Bear

My family just got back from a fun-filled and relaxing weekend in Big Bear. Some highlights:

--CLEAN AIR. The smoke from the wildfires in our area seriously bothered me last week and I didn't think it would be much better in the mountains with all the fires at Running Springs. But there were blue skies and clean air and it was awesome to not choke on toxic fumes and ash for a few days.

--Fishing with Dad on Saturday morning. I'm not going to lie...I'm not a fan of leaving my warm and cozy bed at the crack of dawn only to be welcomed by the biting cold of the dark world as we leave the cabin and head to the lake. But after an obligatory stop at OJ's Donuts and once we get our gear and rods set up, Dad and I always have a great time fishing and this year was no exception.

Here are the fish we caught. I reeled in two. (I do not touch bait or fish but reeling them in is fun!) We caught more than the locals next to us.

--OJ’s Donuts, as mentioned above, the best donut shop ever. When you walk in, the sugary aroma of the place fills your lungs with pleasure. The cases are always chock-full of fresh donuts, perfect and colorful and glistening, just waiting to be eaten. Dad always gets a bear claw, and I get a cinnamon roll. When you bite into a donut from OJ’s, the glaze gives it a little crunch, and then it just melts in your mouth. A trip to OJ’s used to be how Dad would coax me into getting up so early to fish with him.

--Shopping downtown, or as it’s called in Big Bear, “The Village.” The shop windows were decorated with witches, pumpkins, and cobwebs for Halloween and the trees lining the streets were pretty autumn shades of yellow and orange. We always get candy in the candy shop that has a giant portrait of Bob Marley hanging behind the counter. And I got my first pair of Ugg boots! (THANKS, Dad!) They are not of higher quality than my old two pairs of fur boots (which are a staple for competitive swimmers on the pool decks at swim meets), but let’s face it; Uggs are the coolest!

--A foo-foo dinner at Madlon’s, a restaurant we’ve eaten at for years but that has been under new management since we last visited. The new owners are executive chefs trained at the Cordon Bleu School. This was one production of a meal, let me tell you. First, we had amuses-bouche. What is an amuse-bouche, you ask? Well, the word is French and literally translates to "mouth amuser" (bouche = mouth; amuser = to amuse, to please). The amuse-bouche was a little clam in garlic sauce. Then I had a salad caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar; a favorite). After our salads and olive bread with lime cilantro butter, we were given glasses of passion fruit sorbet, “to cleanse the palate,” our waitress explained. Then came our entrees (shrimp scampi, chicken cordon bleu, steak, and chicken fettuccini alfredo) which were scrumptious. And of course, since one of the chefs was a pastry chef, we had to get desserts—tiramisu, chocolate tart with macadamia nut crust, and a trio of mini crème brulees (cherry, almond, and coconut). This was quite the departure from the sea of greasy lumberjack cafes in Big Bear, whose specialties are chicken fried steak and biscuits and gravy.

--Down time in the cabin. Although I live at home with my parents, I don’t see them all too often since our schedules are different. It was fun to hang out with them and my brother all weekend. We watched Young Frankenstein and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles; munched on cookies; my brother played Texas Hold’em on his iPod; my dad messed around with his fishing gear; my mom and I read fashion magazines. We all just hung out together by the fire, enjoying our annual family tradition—an old-fashioned family trip to Big Bear.

It was a great weekend =)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Eat Fresh

My friend and I were at Subway getting sandwiches one day and noticed the BMT on the menu, which consists of ham, salami, pepperoni, bologna, and veggies. It's certainly a sandwich I would never eat (it's way too exciting; I go for turkey every time) but we were curious about the name. There were no ingredients that would provide the sandwich with the initials BMT. So we asked the sandwich maker and he said if we guessed it, he'd give us a free sandwich. We tried bacon, mayo, tomato (wrong); bread, mustard, tomato (wrong); bologna, meat, toasted (wrong), big monkey turd (clearly wrong), etc.

The sandwich guy told us it actually stands for Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit, which I guess makes sense for a sandwich chain named Subway...?

So, remember the BMT. You might get a free sandwich someday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jefferson's Ten Rules

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

Never spend money before you have earned it.

Never buy what you don't want because it is cheap.

Pride costs more than hunger, thirst and cold.

We seldom repent of having eaten too little.

Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.

How much pain the evils cost us that never happened.

Take things always by the smooth handle.

When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, count a hundred.

Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ashes, Ashes

Today I left work because the wildfires in our area have polluted the air with smoke and ash. The air is pretty much stuck and hanging in the office, and I couldn't handle it. After four hours of headaches and dizziness, I called it quits and headed home for some cleaner air.

This suffocating air and ash made me think about ancient Pompeii. The thick blanket of smoke smothering Southern California is tinting the world outside of my window an eerie orange color. That, along with the ash covering my car, reminded me of the last days of Pompeii as it was showered in ash and cinders as Mount Vesuvius spewed death upon the city.

On the 24th of August in the year AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted and hailed white-hot stones upon the thriving city. Next came the ash, which blinded everyone and choked their mouths and lungs. Some people took cover in the corners of their villas or shops; others tried to flee toward the nearby sea. Few got that far.

The Last Day of Pompeii, Karl Pavlovich Briullov; 1833.

The ash pounded the city and soon buried the rooftops of buildings. Terror was extinguished in death. And just like that, Pompeii disappeared from the world for 1500 years.

Pompeii wasn’t discovered again until the mid-18th Century, and what a discovery it was! The showers of wet ashes and cinders that accompanied the eruption basically sealed the town, preserving many shops, public structures, theaters, baths, private villas, mosaics, wall paintings, as well as artifacts like utensils and tools, coins, and even surgical instruments.

These are cast moldings of victims from Pompeii, frozen in their final agony. Once the ash and debris covered the bodies, it hardened. After the body eventually decayed and left an empty space, excavators realized they could fill the empty space with plaster and create a mold of the deceased.

Pompeii gives us amazing insight about domestic Roman life (the Romans took over the city in the 80’s BC). One of my favorite works of art, the famous Alexander Mosaic, was discovered in Pompeii in 1831. It is one of the most famous portraits of Alexander the Great even though much of it has been destroyed. You can still see his famous wavy hair! The mosaic was made of over one and a half million tiny tiles and shows Alexander attacking King Darius and the Persians.

Close-up of my man, Alexander, from the famous mosaic.

Pompeii today.

I have been anticipating my future visit to this curious place for a long time. Until then, I’m just looking forward to some blue skies, extinguished fires, and clean air in SoCal…

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Just like crack but socially acceptable

From the new "Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture" by Taylor Clark:

Percentage of employees receiving health insurance from Starbucks

Percentage of employees receiving health insurance from Wal-Mart

What the typical Starbucks customer spends per visit for coffee

What the typical fast-food customer spends per visit for an entire meal

Amount Starbucks paid in 2003 to provide its founder with bodyguards and personal security

Which of the following places does NOT have a Starbucks?

A) Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba
B) A Christian church in Munster, Indiana
C) Beirut, Lebanon
D) The town of Starbuck, Washington
E) The Great Wall of China

(Answer: D)

Monday, October 22, 2007


Decision made.

I'm here to stay =)

I'm feeling good about this, guys...I have entered a new era of blogging...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Should I??

Should I jump on the blogspot bandwagon? Is there a need to desert my beloved xanga blog? I do feel a bit lonely being the only one on xanga. Does anyone want to create a pro and con list for me? I find them useful tools for making important decisions, like which website to post my blog on.

No one knows this exists so I am not expecting comments, but yeah. Just to let you know, I'm still thinking about it...

In the meantime, find me on xanga.com/SparkyTruman.