Friday, August 31, 2007

some kind of beautiful

some kind of beautiful
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
More big sky. More cool rocks.


Colorado National Monument
Posting by cameraphone from Grand Junction, CO

know what?

know what?
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Nothing like a mountain range to make everything feel all right.

Shot somewhere in the San Juans.
Posting by cameraphone.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

grand imperial

grand imperial
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Grand Imperial Hotel
Silverton, CO

Posting by cameraphone from 10,000 feet

all roads lead to chaco

all roads lead to chaco
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Dunno if this cameraphone picked up on the actual colors of this landscape -- baby blue sky, blue-green shrubery, reddish sometimes pink road...

Gorgeous good stuff.

Coming out of Chaco Canyon, NM. Central trading and ceremonial destination for the folks who lived in this area a long, long time ago.

Shot through the bug-splattered windshield of a moving car. Posting by cameraphone.

bob & margie's

bob & margie's
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
On the road to Chaco Canyon
Cuba City, NM

I think that I shall never see

Hello, I'm Leonardo DiCaprio, and I'm here with my boyish, non-threatening good looks to talk to you about trees.

From the Albuquerque Alibi's review of the documentary 11th Hour, which it describes as "the equivalent of a good talking to."

Thanks to killer tax incentives, film is becoming big business in Albq -- we saw three film shoots in the space of three hours our first night in town. Eight films are actively shooting here, and today's news is that comic book creator Frank Miller of Sin City and 300 will soon be directing The Spirit at a studio here in town.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Shot this shortly before ascending 140 vertical feet up to the Alcove House, higher than the Pinons, even.

It was shortly after that that we spotted the mating rattlesnakes. And then left them to their own devices. Although I'm sure there's an omen in there somewhere.

Posting on the road home to Albuquerque from Bandelier National Monument.

guest room

guest room
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Hanging at my brother's place
in Albuquerque, NM


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

squab, take two

squab, take two
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Tried to post this shot earlier with a whole long involved story about Mabel Dodge Luhan and her brainy buddies hanging out in Taos many years ago, but Flickr and/or Blogger seems to choke when I try to say too much.

So we'll keep this one short.

This is where the pigeons roost before they become dinner.

The end.

Shot at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, NM. Posting by cameraphone from Albuquerque, NM.


I think if I could believe in Saints and their miracles I would be much. less. lonely.

Posting by phone from Santa Fe, NM

Monday, August 27, 2007

rovers on

rovers on
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Ever see a girl go all melty in the middle of nowhere?

Yep. Still mopping up. (Wait'll you still the Nikon stills...)

Shot on cameraphone at the long ago deserted Frontier Drive-in, RV Park and Diner in Center, CO

Posting by cameraphone down the road in Monte Vista, CO while waiting for some tamales smothered in green sauce.

Happy, happy, happy.

game on

I'm not a big sports fan, but I am a big sister, and I'm a huge fan of my little brother who gigs for the Broncos now that he's all grown up (the man has three almost four kids already -- guess that counts as all grown up).

Flew into Denver yesterday AM, hung out with the family, and then headed over to the stadium to see Game 1 of the Bronco pre-season -- ostensibly. But mostly really to see my brother do his thing as the producer of the video content that runs on the ThunderVision board for the duration of the game.

mile high blue sky

And then tour the control room and the press box and his offices afterwards, and hear silly stadium trivia like: they used to have to climb right up to the giant monitor to flip the switch that lowered the protective metal guard, but then they had stadium engineering rig a run-of-the-mill garage door opener to handle the task -- so now after the game they just pull out the garage door remote and lower the guard on the multi-million dollar video panel from inside the control room.

And there's also the mouth guard -- if you've been to the new Invesco Field in Denver you know that sculptures of football gear writ large litter the promenade up to the main entrance -- but maybe you didn't know that the gigantic mouth guard is the actual impression of Terrell Davis's teeth.

mile high thundervision

All fun. But the best part was heading back to the homestead, sleeping late this morning and waking up to a pancake breakfast prepared with careful attention by my young nieces, swapping stories and laughing with my family.

Home again.

Posting by cameraphone. A week worth of roadtripping through Colorado and New Mexico ahead. (Posting will probably be sporadic -- so far my uploads aren't behaving.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Broncos are hurting against the Browns
at Mile High, but watching the sunset
behind the Rockies is easing the pain.

Posting by cameraphone from Invesco Field
in Denver, CO, where my brother's pulling his
shift (more pics on that later).

Good to be at altitude again.

a summer Sunday in Prague

a found poem
we were at
at high mass
on a summer Sunday
in Prague
sitting below
a large bishop
in a swingy skirt
bottomed off
with gold booties
his moves had
a sort of stripper
quality to them

Found in Justine Hardy's "Guilt in the Golden City" in the 25 August issue of The Financial Times.

Posting by cameraphone enroute to DIA.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Traveler's tip: when traveling to Watsonville for a business meeting with the expectation that you'll hook up with friends for dinner in the capitol of chill, Santa Cruz, CA, for the love of god toss a pair of levi's in your bag, or you'll feel like a freak of nature walking the boardwalk all suited up.

Shot in Santa Cruz, CA
Posting by cameraphone sometime after that.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

self portrait with bagel and lox

San Francisco, CA
9.16 AM

Posting by cameraphone

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

say cheese.

I took this shot during an intensely lonely moment as I clambered around the tiny island of Agathonissi in the Dodecanese many years ago. (God that sounds rich and privileged, doesn't it? For what it's worth I was sailing on the cheap, in a trade for work.)

I was reminded of it recently while exchanging notes on goats and their cheese with a Flickr friend, but here's why I'm posting it: When I took it, with this grandmother's kind permission, the plastic bag bothered me; broke the pastoral perfection that I was hoping for. Now it's my favorite part of the image. Nearly a punctum. Not quite, but gives me hope that I'll get there some day.

And just down the hill on that tiny little island in the very moment this image was taken were two strangers who, within hours, I would share glances of recognition, and then over a week we would decide that yes, we'll know each other for a while, and now going on years I gratefully count them as friends I would never want to live with out.

Life's funny like that: Matters of great importance waiting for you just a little way down the hill.

the moon is not yet dead

The moon is not yet dead, nor has it revealed all its secrets.

Found, and then quickly lost again, in digg labs' big spy.

The zeitgeist of which I could watch, mesmerized, for hours at a stretch.

(Swarmin' and stackin' are fun too.)


Bald Guy Greetings »

(via Squandrous)

speaking of the not so scientific

(At least Dawkins was.)

[Magic is] the theatrical linking of a cause with an effect that has no basis in physical reality, but that -- in our hearts -- ought to.

Teller, of Penn and Teller, defining magic, as reported in Sleights of Mind: Science meets magic, playing on what we think we know in this morning's New York Times.

And if you're into wondering about how situational context teases the mind in magical ways, Who’s Minding the Mind? from a few weeks back (same paper) makes for a great contrapuntal read.

Monday, August 20, 2007

manual control is a must

DP water tower
Originally uploaded by ReyGuy.
Flickrite ReyGuy has posted some intriguing digital pinhole shots in his photostream. Always a generous teacher, he was kind enough to respond to my inquiry with a how-to -- I'm posting it here with his permission:

I sent this to two other inquiring souls. It may talk down to your experience level since I was unsure of theirs. I shot more this morning on the way to golf just as the sun was coming up. Quite a trick while doing the driving too. At least you don't look through the viewfinder. It's a real point-and-shoot technique.

Take a body cap (you better have one), drill a small hole in the center of it. Use a needle to prick a very small hole in a 3/4 or so inch square piece of semi-heavy paper (construction paper?). Tape this with the pin prick in the center of the hole you drilled on to the cap. That'll do it. Now you have a hole with a much smaller hole over it. You can not drill a small enough hole and you can not pin prick through a plastic body cover.

Then just experiment with the shutter speeds and ISO settings to get what you want from the effect. You have no aperture with a pinhole. It is what it is and it's maybe f/200 or smaller?? Ever heard of an aperture like that? All you can do is semi-long exposures. Nothing much faster than 1/15. You use the ISO settings to control the blur. At ISO 100 you must shoot at say, 1 second whereas at an ISO 800 it's 1/8. Also at higher ISO settings the pictures are more grainy.

Sounds complicated but it's not. I'm assuming you're using a good camera with manual control. If you're using a fully automatic amateur camera you're probably out of luck as it will simply not respond to only a lens cap being on the camera. Manual control is a must.


please won't you be

When you're playing and you're just you, powerful things happen.

Phone Phreak Joybubbles, née Joe Engressia, on why Mr. Rogers matters, as reported this morning in his obituary in the New York Times.

Mr. Engressia, a blind man with perfect pitch, was one of the first to hack the tone-based phone system with his whistles.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I’m thinking now of the plums
Italian prunes
As I do each time
I tongue one
Tease out the moment
Before my teeth break
The flesh
Do now, a bowl before me

How you climbed
On the broad back
Of the rusted bus

To reach
The top branches
Pulled them out of the sunshine
Into the shade of the house

Your whole body a wag
Like a mutt ready to play

How our teeth tore
Through the tart skin
Wet from a quick tap bath
Into the sweet flesh
We devoured each
Its own counterpart


And then they were gone

More about TD4 »

Saturday, August 18, 2007

to dew or not to dew

Ed.: The World's Best Mechanical Engineer comments on the Mountain Dew packaging redesign

To Whom it May Concern,
Suttonhoo has informed me that Pepsi has decided to change the Mountain Dew bottle design temporarily to an aluminum bottle. She was afraid that it might disrupt the entire Joe Henry Engineering Test Program (and lord knows that program is far enough behind already).

And indeed she was right to be concerned.

Fortunately the shape of the Mountain Dew container was critical only in those experiments using cans. But there is a deeper underlying danger. The Mountain Dew advertising remains unclear about the disposition of Diet Mountain Dew. If they redesign those containers as well, you could accidentally procure a Diet Mountain Dew instead of
Mountain Dew.

There are probably people who think I'm a paid agent of Pepsi, bribed to sway the powerful Engineering market sector into buying Mountain Dew. But no, I do this out of a sense of civic duty. And it is this same sense of duty that drives me to say this: Diet Mountain Dew is a both vile and noxious substance. And it is potentially dangerous. I'm a guy who tries to suppress his conspiracy theories because there have been a few too many conspiracy theories in my family. But I'm going to run with this one for a second.

Aspartame was approved by the FDA after a very shaky bunch of tests involving contaminated control groups. The test mice showed the same number of brain tumors as the control group mice. But the number of brain tumors were above average for both groups. It turns out the control group food was contaminated..... with Aspartame.

Two years after Aspartame was released to market, the brain tumor rates in the US started climbing. This is correlation to be sure, not causation. Guess who was in charge of the company that made aspartame at that point? Donald Rumsfeld, Chief Machiavellian of our generation.

So we can't have our young potential engineers sucking down Aspartame for ten years before they even get to college.

The message here is to carefully check your label on that lustrous Mountain Dew bottle. Make sure your Mountain Dew is full of sugar (brain food) NOT Aspartame (brain killer).

As an added side note about Mountain Dew and the brain, some recent studies suggest that caffeine improves memory, especially in women.

Good catch Suttonhoo. Only your keen marketing mind [1] could detect this brand of subtle danger.

[1] Ed. You know I love you friend, otherwise I’d give you grief for calling mine a “marketing mind”. Blech. ;)

love, dad.

My dad emailed this this morning without comment.

(I love it that my dad's first language is music.)

Video: John Butler plays Searching for Heritage »

Friday, August 17, 2007

self-portrait as alien

When they start thin slicing the head with those MRIs, things start to get really weird, really fast.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

what miller learned from monroe

a found poem

[She] taught him to spot an orphan
in a crowded room

to recognize
in [the] eyes

the bottomless loneliness
no parented person can know

Found in Arthur Miller's Missing Act in the September 2007 Vanity Fair. A heartbreaking account of how the playwright Arthur Miller institutionalized his son Daniel, who had Down syndrome, from birth. "She" is Miller's ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe, who was herself raised in foster care.

self-portrait as embryo

From an MRI I had taken a loooooooooooong time ago when they were looking for something that, fortunately, I didn't have. Everything turned up fine on the scans, so I called the lab and asked if I could have the film of my brain.

The guy on the other end of the line paused. No one's ever asked for that before. And then: Yeah. Sure. I guess.

'Cause why wouldn't you want an xray of your own brain if you knew that one existed?

Just now starting to mess around with it. More images might come of this. Or not.

something in the water

It's amazing how consistent people are in their politeness and empathy.

Netflix exec Michael Osier, speaking of folks from Portland, Oregon. Netflix just ramped up their call center operation just outside the city. They chose Portland over a long list of candidate cities because the people are well, just so nice. As reported in this morning's New York Times.

This one's for you, Ms. Anniemcq.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

pending consultation

A modification has been made to a component crucial to the experiments specified here by the World's Best Mechanical Engineer:

Mountain Dew has changed their packaging.

The World's Best Mechanical Engineer has been contacted, and his comment on this matter is pending.

buddha girl

My little niece K has always been a buddha girl. So self-possessed, calm, the oldest of three (soon to be four) kids, she looks out for the little ones -- lifting them down from ledges, sharing her meatball, making sure their drinks don't spill.

Always thinking about something, still and silent, searching the outward and internal horizons, then suddenly she'll launch into a story, and beam golden like the sun.

One of my dearest memories is when she was so small she was walking but not talking and I visited her and her folks (her daddy's my brother) bringing with me The Maestro Plays, a wonderful book by Bill Martin Jr. and Vladimir Radunsky.

She picked it up and brought it over to me, sitting next to me. We started to read. A few pages in she crawled into my lap, folding her legs and nestling in, turning the pages as we moved through the story. Two thirds of the way in, when the book got really good, she turned her whole face up at me, craning her neck straight back, watching me read and intonate the wonderful language that Martin and Radunsky use to tell Maestro's story.

I looked down in her eyes and kept on going. She stayed that way for what seemed like a really long time. Still, silent, joyful, curious.

Much later her mother told me an imaginary friend had appeared on the scene, and K named him Maestro.

So wonderful to watch her grow big and beautiful and searching. So glad to count her as family.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

mad skills

At the Trinity test site, as soon as he saw the blast, Fermi started ripping up little pieces of paper. At the very moment the shockwave from the blast arrived, it blew Fermi's paper scraps away. Fermi then took out a slide rule and said, "Ah, 12,000 tons of TNT." From the papers and position, he could calculate the explosive power of this new weapon.

Physicist Gino Segre, relating a story he heard from his Nobel Prize winning uncle Emilio Segre, about working with Fermi on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, in an interview in today's New York Times.

Monday, August 13, 2007

walking the bridge

Q. How do you shoot something that's been shot as relentlessly as the Golden Gate Bridge?

A. You just do it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

valley of the moon, part two


When I tell folks I did some of my growing up in Sonoma -- a handful of years just before and after I turned five and a steady scattering of summers through junior high and high school -- they say "oooohhhh – Sonoma!" and it's that instant recognition that makes me suspect strongly that they're thinking wine country and tony tasting rooms and gourmet cheeses.

PR machine Sonoma.

Not my Sonoma.

My Sonoma is a hard working rural dusty pick up truck kind of place. Not that anyone in our family owned a pick up -- we were (and still largely are) VW people with a few leftover limos from the funeral home. But the neighbors did, including Shari's daddy who lived next door and delivered Shasta soda all over the Valley in his.

My Sonoma is my very first library -- the old Carnegie that's been converted to the visitor's center since -- on the central plaza just a block from our old home. My Sonoma is sleepy enough (or my hippie mother was just that unaware enough) that I walked the block alone when I was somewhere between 4 and 5 years old and tried to check out a stack of books of my own -- only to be told I needed to get myself a library card to get that done. Or bring a grownup with me next time.

sonoma public library

My Sonoma is the sundial in the little rosette of a rose garden next to the library with the strange roman numerals that amazed me every time the sun was shining and I happened by because someone told me you could tell time with that thing. Of course, I couldn't. Didn't mean I was any less amazed.


It's the Sebastiani movie theatre with its classic marquee across the street, which thank god is still open and running; and it's the thick crusty loaves of sourdough that they made in the bakery next door (which, regrettably, is no longer there) that we ate with cheese and salami until it grew stale and my mom sliced it up for French toast on Sundays.


My Sonoma is the little house on East Napa with the porch flush to the foundation and the white picket fence with the gate ripe for standing on and swinging in endless repetitions whenever grown ups weren't around.

this old house

It was during one of those steady silent swinging meditations that I sorted out in my four year old mind that there were three kinds of humans: men, women, and babies. I racked and racked my brain expecting to find more, expecting people to be as varied as bird species. Looking back I can't figure out whether I was cloistered in a white world and wasn't exposed to other plumage, or if this was me at that age figuring out the sexual creature -- men and women being the mature and sexual, babies being the immature and asexual.

My money's on the sexual creature, because the house we lived in was ripe with sex, even though I wouldn't know it if I saw it, but you could feel it everywhere. Two other hippie couples lived there with my mother and the three of us kids. We were downstairs; they were in the upstairs rooms and the attached mother-in-law apartment out back. The memory of that house is what I insert whenever I come across a reference to "free love": soft and languid and a little bit lonely.

During that time my mother was exercising her 1970s post-divorce freedom with some, but maybe not enough, discretion. My memory of her pink birth control pill compact (with the bas-relief cameo) is crystalline, as is the conversation we had about it. My kindergarten self: What are these for? Her dewy soft still so beautiful self: Women take them so they won't have babies, which made me think too, for too long, that babies appeared like blisters unbidden, or aliens erupting, and had to be staved off like a fever is with baby aspirin.

My Sonoma is Shari's house, the old quasi-Victorian next door, with the garden out back where a nameless grown up (her mother, maybe?) coaxed me (I didn't want to do it) into eating a dusty cherry tomato warmed by the sun right off the vine and it exploded hot in my cheeks, sweet and unexpected, leaving me smiling and surprised. The same garden where we took turns behind her daddy on his motorbike racing the length of the lawn, and I scorched my naked calf against the hot pipe so that it turned red and blistered. Where her daddy dressed the injury and his strong tender hands made me ache for my daddy, who was far enough away to be a fiction to my friends.

Shari's house is a boutique now called être -- "to be." And our little clapboard house is a dance and art academy. The white picket fence is gone. I know because I walked past it this morning, a pit stop on my way to SFO, after burying my grandfather in Napa, after receiving hugs so tight and long and good from my nieces and nephews (ages almost 5 through 10) they left me with a weepy spot square between my breasts.


I wanted to walk through my Sonoma with a camera, giant woman that I am so many years since and so many more feet tall than I was then, and try to take pictures of what I remember it being; of what I remember I was.

And so I shot the sundial and the library and snatches of the mission and the barracks. I shot St. Francis Solano where my mother went to school before she married my father there, and I shot the little clapboard house where we lived after their divorce. I shot the lawn behind the courthouse in the central plaza where I tried to turn a cartwheel at my 5th birthday party.

st francis solano schoolyard

And I shot the Creamery, which isn't the Creamery anymore, but was for a long time before it wasn't. It was an ice cream parlor -- more like a cavern -- owned by the Italian parents of a man my mother dated who would later marry her sister (such is a small town), where I stepped into the cool room from the heat of the summer and crossed the cold tile floor (in my memory I'm barefoot, which as a hippie kid was not an impossibility, and I can feel the cold tiles under my toes), and where J scooped me my first coffee ice cream cone, marking the moment from which I would forever forsake chocolate as my favorite.

This morning I shot it all quickly, feeling hurried and unsatisfied because I knew snapshots wouldn't capture the rush of emotions I feel in that town; the feeling of being small and alive and curious and full of excitement in a world full of warmth and light and deliciousness.

I swung on my first big kid's swing in this park, my aunt pushing me high and dive bombing beneath me, thrilling me with my first taste of danger. Hungry for more I tried a big kid move on the merry-go-round (the contraption is gone now), running to push it with the other kids and slipping as I jumped on board. I can still remember the chaos of light and shadow as I was pulled beneath it, the hot metal spinning overhead. The fear.

My first artichoke happened here; my first avocado; the slices of salami with the peppercorns that burned my mouth until I learned to pop them out before I rolled the fatty slippery slice and chewed it down.

I stopped short of shooting the golden hills lined with grapevines that roll around the valley because my wide angle lens isn't wide enough to capture their embrace, and it's the one that I want to really get right. Want to capture the way they warm you and hold you during the day. Want so much to capture the way they seem small while at the same time expansive when the night comes and the fragrance of the eucalyptus reminds you that the sun was just here a short time before.

Want to, but know I won't nearly ever be able to recapture the night I was five and felt wholly alive, hustled into a VW bug with crazy happy high school kids (my aunts and an uncle, all of them high on acid, I'd learn a lot of years later) and we chased down the harvest moon that hung heavy and ripe in the sky, so big and close you could touch it.

Chased it through the hills down the old highway, bouncing over railroad tracks where we held our hands to the roof to keep it up (a crazy tradition that I maintain today), laughing, speeding, never quite reaching, the moon warm to bursting, that moon that gives this valley its name.

video: Me at 5 in the backyard of the clapboard house »

[1] valley of the moon, part one

god is alive and well and available to answer your prayers

I know because Flickr finally upgraded their clunky old uploading interface -- and it's sweet.

Update 13 Sept: The New York Times is talking about it, too.

upside down you're turning me

upside down you're turning me
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Been away riding roller coasters and burying family, which in some surprising ways are quite alike -- like the way they both make you grateful to be alive and grateful for all the good folks who are alive along with you.

Cameraphone shot of the rickety wooden Roar at Six Flags in
Vallejo, CA.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

headlands with cables

headlands with cables
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
The Marin Headlands at sunset; shot last
night by cameraphone through the cables of
the Golden Gate while walking the bridge.

Posting from Napa, CA.

Friday, August 10, 2007

ya basta

When I was a kid we had a book of Aesop's fables "retold" for modern times. Which meant they lost all the fragrance of the Greece they were born in[1] and came out feeling like something that happened on the Upper East Side.

Yesterday, as I was spinning once again on my crossroad of options as I near the middle-distance of my life (this is mostly what I do these days), one of the fables startled awake in a far corner of my brain.

It involved a little boy with his hand in a jar of filberts. I had no idea what a filbert was when I was a kid and I never bothered to look it up like my dad encouraged me to, and in all honesty I don't think I could tell you today what a filbert is. (A nut maybe?)

The story played out something like this: the little boy wanted some filberts. He REALLY liked filberts, so he grabbed just as many as his hand could hold.

One problem: the neck of the jar was too tight, and he couldn't get his hand free, so he couldn't get those goddamn filberts out.

He fussed and fumed for awhile, generally feeling sorry for himself, until some wiser person who was a bit more in control of her passions happened by, witnessed the scene, and offered him some advice: "Take fewer filberts, you knucklehead."

He let about half of his filberts go, his hand came free, and he was at last able to enjoy his filberts. Whatever the hell a filbert is.

I hated that story when I was a kid -- I mourned for those lost filberts.

It took me just this long to finally figure out what was going on.

[1] Thank god for Bulfinch, which gave me a richer sense of how the sun-baked thyme on the hillsides carries through the air in Greece and made me want to go there. Or maybe it was Henry Miller. Different sun-baked scent.

(Queuing this up somewhere over the Rockies on Flight 451 inbound to SFO, so you'll have to forgive me for not looking up filberts -- wireless is off.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

oh dear.

Kids don't just ask for food from McDonald's. They actually believe that the chicken nugget they think is from McDonald's tastes better than an identical, unbranded nugget.


We found that kids with more TVs in their homes and those who eat at McDonald's more frequently were even more likely to prefer the food in the McDonald's wrapper.

Thomas Robinson, director of the Center for Healthy Weight at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, commenting in today's AdAge (McNuggets Are Good, but Branded McNuggets Are Even Better) on a study conducted in concert with Stanford University School of Medicine involving 63 Northern California children that showed that:

Kids aged 3 to 5, when presented with identical foods -- one in a McDonald's wrapper and the other without -- overwhelmingly rated the branded one as tasting better.


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
First leaf of autumn?

Spotted on the roof of my car on the way to work this morning. Posting by cameraphone.


Such lovely, lovely fishheads (and yes, some squid)[slideshow] »

The story of the artist, Annie Sessler, her fish prints, and the husband who hooks her subjects for her ran in this morning's New York Times.

leaving petrograd that september

a found poem

Anyone looking for a portent
might have noticed a ship
leaving Petrograd
that September

Carrying into exile
whose ideas
the regime found

The names involved are unfamiliar

The idealist philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev
The literary critic Yuli Aikhenvald
The religious thinker Semyon Frank
The sociologist Pitirim Sorokin
The medieval historian Lev Karsavin

The secret police officers
monitoring the launch
raised their hats in salute
as it left the harbor
We are all Russians.
Why is this happening?

In an interview
Trotsky carefully explained
the expulsions
were an act of mercy

Found in William Grimes' NYTimes review of Lesley Chamberlain's new book Lenin's Private War: The Voyage of the Philosophy Steamer and the Exile of the Intelligentsia

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

fly girl, part 2

This funky vinyl bag (available at Unica) makes me giddy happy. Not enough to buy: I don't do vinyl. But I did once.

I was four and we lived in New York. My dad worked on the Avenue of the Americas at Elektra Records and I can still remember going to meet him for something or other -- I remember the sidewalks -- they were so big and full of cracks and I had the awesome responsibility of not breaking my mother's back -- but I don't remember the blind man selling pencils who I toddled up to, my Dad tells me, and who smiled when I did.

My first NY con man.

What I do remember is this bag: it was my very first handbag. Mine was PanAm blue and it came with a pair of pilot's wings. I don't know if my dad brought it home from a business trip, or my Grama brought it with her when she flew cross-country from Seattle to see my little brother G when he was born (and who was a source of great disappointment to me when my parents refused to name him Cindy as I requested).

But I knew it was an airlines bag, and I knew that airlines had something to do with far away and brand new everything, and I knew I wanted a piece of that. Even then.

Packing tonight, for the day after tomorrow. Pleasure this time (mostly). Nice change.

like Mark Spitz

Clearly Dr. Bronner was crazy in that wonderful way that only America makes possible. An endearing elder uncle, shilling product and philosophy with the best billboard available to him -- the label of his soap bottle -- squeezing every little ounce out of that sacred marketing real estate with statements like these:

1st: If I'm not for me, who am I? Nobody! 2nd: yes, if I'm only for me, what am I? Nothing! 3rd: If not now, when? Once more: Unless constructive-selfish I work hard, like Mark Spitz, perfecting first me, absolute nothing can help perfect me!! 4th...

Yes, there's more. Getcher self a bottle to read it all. Or just check out the label blow up here »

You may notice a not altogether faint resemblance to the cover of John Hodgman's book, Areas of My Expertise »

We used Dr. Bronner's soap when I was growing up as a hippie kid, and I got turned on to it again when we stayed at the uber-hip Hotel San Jose in Austin this last spring, and the bath was stocked with it. I've been back on the bottle ever since and, truthfully, it does the job right.

But if you take up the cause you'll want to be sure not to tote it with you when you're driving your girlfriend to an AA meeting in Orange County wearing a furry Russian hat -- as Dan Bolles of the Germs found out the hard way »

Video: Trailer for the recently released documentary, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox »

Monday, August 06, 2007


Just as the brain can upset the gut, the gut can also upset the brain. If you were chained to the toilet with cramps, you'd be upset, too.

Dr. Michael Gershon, professor of anatomy and cell biology at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, as quoted in Complex and Hidden Brain in Gut Makes Stomachaches and Butterflies way back on 23 January 1996 in the New York Times.

Laid up with a killer belly ache today (I suspect it was the pasta fagioli) and even though I'm loading up my brain with all kinds of goodies (newpapers, magazines, books, blogs) it's gone on strike.

Sandra Blakesless's piece from way back when is my only excuse -- apparently, people really do think with their gut »

Saturday, August 04, 2007

climate change

beautiful women learn
not to speak of it
the way the climate changes
when they enter the room

the way men
square their shoulders
like mountains
favored by the sun
and rivals glower grey
like lower slopes
threatened by rain

beautiful women
learn not to speak of it
the breeze they stir
as doors open
eyes lift

women learn
not to speak of it
not of this
and then

not of the moment
(time's motion incorruptible)
when she enters
and leaves the room

Written on the occasion of my beautiful Grama's 88th birthday. The image is a (very poor) cameraphone shot of a pastel portrait that my grandfather made of my grandmother when they were dating.


Heading home this afternoon from Evanston, after a wonderful conversation with a friend, my mind strayed randomly to something I read once about Chagall's Self-portrait with Seven Fingers. It was this:

The mysterious extra fingers on his left hand can be explained by a Yiddish saying, whereby to do things with seven fingers means doing something really well and with all one's heart. [1]

Not so random, I guess, because the conversation of the morning was about exactly that: deciding to do a thing and then pouring your whole heart into it. Owning it. Giving it your full talent.

Because to do less it to set yourself up for later regret.

And then tonight, a Flickrite commented randomly on a photo that I posted a couple years back (July of 2005 -- it's rare that photos that deep in the stream receive attention) with a question about provenance. I pulled up the image to answer his question, and realized that here, in the impression of hands left by a Mayan artist around about 1000 B.C.E. -- were seven fingers.

Who knows if the artist intended the seven fingered impression, or if his hand just slipped. But for me, this night -- with Jung as my witness -- I took it to heart as a telling punctuation mark.

[1] From Phaidon's biography: Chagall

Above: Self-portrait with Seven Fingers by Chagall; Mayan artist unknown.


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.

a found poem

My earliest exposure
to gardens and grounds
came [at] my grandparents' home

Among prodigious beds
of black-eyed susans
and hydrangeas

While planting tomatoes there
when I was eight
I uncovered a Moxie pop bottle
tilled under
40 years earlier

It was my first brush
with landscape archaeology
the field of remembrance
and conservation

I could scarcely ignore
the residue of history

Found in Charles A. Birnbaum's piece Cultivating Appreciation in the Summer 2007 issue of Dwell
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