Thursday, December 31, 2009


south window

I shrugged off the folks in the Midwest who had never heard of Arches National Park, when I mentioned I was headed that way over Christmas. It's not unusual for folks around here to know little about the American West. Maybe it's because they think of it as one lump sum of mountain ranges and cowboy hats; maybe it's because they don't think of it much at all.

But when we mentioned it to the executive chef at our Denver hotel (who prepared an exceptional meal for us that I really need to Yelp) and she'd never heard of the lovely little gem of a national park just six or seven hours distant, nestled into the red rock canyon country just outside of Moab, Utah, cousin to the marvelous expanse that is Canyonlands, I got nervous.

This is all ours, America. This is the land we wrestled away from the folks who had it first, with gunpowder and infectious disease. This is what we fiercely claimed we could never live without. This is the country we abducted like a young bride from her kin. This is the land we killed for.

And while none of that is right, the very least we can do it pay our respects.

For god's sake go see it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

cookie's homemade irish cream

What you'll be needing after a day kicking around
Arches in the cold and snow. (And I do mean cold:
teens and single digits for most of the day while we
were hiking the snow packed trails.)

sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
half & half (1 pint)
vanilla (1 Tbsp)
chocolate syrup (2 Tbsp)
whiskey (1 cup)
coffee (double shot of espresso or 2 Tbsp instant)

Blend. Pour over ice. Distribute among the tribe.
Pass the jug of leftovers.


Posting by cameraphone from
Grand Junction, CO


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Posting by cameraphone from
Arches National Park
Just outside Moab, UT

Sunday, December 27, 2009

gefilte fish, institutional size

Stopped by the bagel deli of my youth to grab
a bite for the road. Their bagels aren't quite up
to NYC standards (or Philly, as my Fishtown-
dwelling brother pointed out), but they're pretty
good for West of the Mississippi.

Posting by cameraphone from Hampton and
Monaco in Denver. Headed for the hills.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

in the bubble

in the bubble
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Watching my little niece play some indoor soccer. The slaughter is on.

Posting by cameraphone from a Denver suburb.

Friday, December 25, 2009

leur immobile beauté

Photograph: Martin D'Orgeval

Le 1er février 2008 à 5 heures du matin, un incendie a ravagé Deyrolle, magasin historique d'entomologie et de taxidermie situé au cœur de Paris. Les collections de milliers de papillons et d'insectes rares, d'animaux empaillés de tous horizons et de minerais divers, formées depuis sa création en 1831, s'envolèrent en fumée, ne laissant de traces que dans la mémoire de générations de rêveurs fascinés par leur immobile beauté.

From the text accompanying Touché par le Feu, a collection of photographs by Martin D'Orgeval documenting the conflagration of Deyrolle, a historic shop of taxidermy and entomology in the heart of Paris »

Thursday, December 24, 2009

3-letter word for delicious

Swiss cheese & sour cream omelette with my sister's
ugly apple chutney on the side.

It may not be pretty but it's *delicious*. And it's breakfast.
Or rather: lunch. Working from home to avoid the ice on
the roads and I didn't realize it had gotten so late.

Posting by cameraphone.
Getting ready to launch into Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Ducking the crowds in the darkened sanctuary of the church that hosts our PADs shelter in the wintertime. We always manage to overstaff these things, and the do-gooders generally trample each other in an effort to make sure everyone's fed and bedded.

Frozen rain is falling outside; sleet sheeting every surface with ice.

Tonight a well-dressed gentleman walked in long after everyone was signed in and chatting over their plates piled high with fried chicken and mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. He said, "this is my first night homeless: what do I do?"

Eat, we told him, and warm up some. Then we'll do the paperwork.

Posting by cameraphone. Dry & warm & and a little bit heartbroken.

daydream believer

self-portrait as embryo

we feel pain and pleasure
we yearn

and in order to find out how
to minimize pain

and maximize pleasure

we think

Found in The 20 W sleep-walkers by Ladislav Kováč1 of Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia in the current issue of EMBO Reports.

Also found in Kováč1's piece, as directly quoted:
  • The energy output of the resting adult human body is equal to the power of a 100 W electrical light bulb.

  • The brain alone consumes 20% of the body's chemical energy, even though it accounts for only 2% of the body's mass. Metaphorically speaking, we all have a 20 W light bulb burning in our head, even when we lie still in complete darkness doing physically nothing.

  • The brain as a whole shows no difference in the energy budget between ‘resting’ and ‘busy’ states.

  • The brain guzzles up—per unit weight—as much energy as the heart muscle, about 16 times more energy than the skeletal muscle at rest, or as much as the leg muscles during a marathon race.

When the brain receives no signals from the environment, a considerable part of its energy is used in daydreaming: the human mind may be spending as much as half of its wakeful time daydreaming (Klinger, 1990). This comprises not only the creation of fanciful stories similar to those we dream during the night, but also the rehashing of all possible and impossible alternatives of the past, present and future activities.

This interior universe of daydreaming creates a continuous series of fictional rewards and punishments, which steadily builds up the unique and idiosyncratic personality of every human individual by conditioning. This may explain our capability to work for years on our career, tenaciously, with self-restraint and self-denial, as if we were motivated by the mirage of an ultimate reward.

Apparently, it is not the latter in the remote future, but our present fancies of it that provide immediate, positive rewards and function to reinforce our deeds.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

delayed in detroit

delayed in detroit
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Flight cancelled due to snow in Chicago. Rumored to
be booked on the 8.10, but with snow in Chicago who's
to say we'll get off the ground? That said, all on the
ground sources report nothing more than light flurries.
Reserved a one-way rental car just in case, but after
waking at 4am I'm not sure a 5 hr drive home through
the snow is a stellar plan.

This snowman, btw? Entirely made of balloons --
even the coal and carrot facial features.

Ah the miracle that is man.

Posting by cameraphone from DTW.

Monday, December 21, 2009

oll raigth

This video is maddening -- almost entirely because the Italian who strung together a pop song from American-sounding nonsense (sometime in the 70s, it seems) pulled off the tonality so perfectly that I spent all my time listening trying to make out what they're saying.

Via @yourperil.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

take it straight

take it straight
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
That strange frothy microbrewed substance in the IV bag that looks like a nice small-batch wheat beer? That's my plasma.

This is the second batch; the first batch had already been returned to me, along with saline, in an icy transfusion after the blood center extracted a concentrated dose of red blood cells from what I gave them. How much was that? I got *two* "be kind to me I gave blood stickers" over the usual one. So two pints, but they gave me all the leftovers back. At the end of the hour the phlebotomist handed me a form to sign saying: "sorry I forgot about this before."

The consent form detailed the strange side effects I was already feeling -- weird tingling in my lips; severe chills; nausea -- and states at the very last: "Long term side-effects from the depletion of lymphocytes are unknown." That would be my white blood cells; the ones that fight infection.


Also in the small print: a prohibition against donating blood if you are a man who has had sexual contact with a man anytime since 1977. This question comes up some time after one is queried about sexual contact with an individual who is HIV positive, male or female.

So basically gay men are out, just because they're gay, unless I'm reading that wrong.

It may not be marriage, but it's still discrimination, and it made me even more curious to read Martha Nussbaum's pending release on the politics of revulsion in which she theorizes that much of the antagonism to gay marriage is rooted in homophobic disgust over queer sexuality.

I want to see where she goes with that and whether she draws a parallel between sexual discrimination and our sorry history of racial segregation.

Separate drinking fountains come to mind.

From Disgust to Humanity by Martha Nussbaum

good for you and me

Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts

Why I want an i-pod touch

Although I am only ten, I want an i-pod touch. Here are 3 main reasons I should get an i-pod touch for Christmas. I really want to get one.

The first reason why I would like an i-pod touch is because if I get one now, I won’t need any other i-pods. K has a shuffle and a nano and barely uses them. The i-pod touch can last years without needing a new i-pod to keep you entertained. I really wish you would consider getting me the i-pod that will last a lifetime.

The next reason I would like an i-pod touch is because how much it can do. This amazing i-pod has music, free games, and much more. I will always get free games never a game you have to pay for. Just a regular i-pod can’t beat an i-pod touch. Not even 2 of them are as amazing as an i-pod touch. And dad, If I got an i-pod touch, I wouldn’t be asking to play your i phone.

The last reason why you should consider getting me an i-pod touch is well, just listen. Think, you bought K 2 i-pods and if you bought us all 2 i-pods it would be like this. Why not just buy 1 i-pod that for each of them that they will use a lot and not have an i-pod that they don’t use sitting around the house, make that 2 because neither one of those i-pods are as good as an i-pod touch. Please please please get me an i-pod touch.

These are 3 main reasons why I want to get an i-pod touch; they are good for you and me. Please consider getting me one, and if you just don’t want to get me like you did with my DS, you can get gift cards but I would really really like an i-pod touch.

PS. Sydney and Natalie both have an i-pod touch

A letter from my niece, M, to her father, posted here with both her consent and her dad's.

I was mostly impressed with the three-point essay construction.

Friday, December 18, 2009

the dark socket of the year

The dark socket of the year
the pit, the cave where the sun lies down
and threatens never to rise,
when despair descends softly as the snow
covering all paths and choking roads:

then hawkfaced pain seized you
threw you so you fell with a sharp
cry, a knife tearing a bolt of silk.
My father heard the crash but paid
no mind, napping after lunch

yet fifteen hundred miles north
I heard and dropped a dish.
Your pain sunk talons in my skull
and crouched there cawing, heavy
as a great vessel filled with water,

oil or blood, till suddenly next day
the weight lifted and I knew your mind
had guttered out like the Chanukah
candles that burn so fast, weeping
veils of wax down the chanukiya.

Those candles were laid out,
friends invited, ingredients bought
for latkes and apple pancakes,
that holiday for liberation
and the winter solstice

when tops turn like little planets.
Shall you have all or nothing
take half or pass by untouched?
Nothing you got, Nun said the dreydl
as the room stopped spinning.

The angel folded you up like laundry
your body thin as an empty dress.
Your clothes were curtains
hanging on the window of what had
been your flesh and now was glass.

Outside in Florida shopping plazas
loudspeakers blared Christmas carols
and palm trees were decked with blinking
lights. Except by the tourist
hotels, the beaches were empty.

Pelicans with pregnant pouches
flapped overhead like pterodactyls.
In my mind I felt you die.
First the pain lifted and then
you flickered and went out.

Part the first of a lovely poem by Marge Piercy called My Mother's Body which I found at the Poetry Foundation.


Happy Hanukkah.


Ghost Hearders
Originally uploaded by
Having visited hundreds of sites all over the world, including Lascaux and Chauvet in France and the Côa Valley in Portugal, [archaeologist David S. Whitley] believes the Coso Petroglyphs to be one of the most important rock art sites on earth.

Mr. Whitley estimated that there may be as many as 100,000 images carved into the dark volcanic canyons above the China Lake basin, some as old as 12,000 to 16,000 years, others as recent as the mid-20th century.

In Rock Art Redefines Ancient in today's New York Times.

The Coso Rock Art District, just off the road between L.A. and Vegas, has defied disturbance because it also operates as a firing range for U.S. Naval air weapons.

Go figure.

It's open for visitors (during which time I'm pretty sure they turn the bombs off). You can arrange a tour through the Maturango Museum »

You can also take a Flickr tour:

Monday, December 14, 2009

xmas on 6th ave

xmas on 6th ave
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Hi ya New York.

Posting by cameraphone.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

bella voce at the abbey

bella voce at the abbey
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Curtain at 7.30
Posting by cameraphone

the black book

Illus: Sunlight Soap Advertisement from The Black Book

Dear Mrs. Morrison,
Someone sent me a copy of The Black Book and if at all possible I would like to have two more. I need one copy to give to a friend, another to throw against the wall over and over and over. The one I already own I want to hold in my hand against my heart.

A letter from a prison inmate to Toni Morrison, editor of the Black Book while she was an editor at Random House, upon the book's initial release in 1974, cited by NPR.

The Black Book has been reissued in commemoration of its 35 year anniversary »

the red book

Illus: Carl Jung, The Red Book

To the superficial observer, it will appear like madness.

Carl Jung in the unfinished epilogue to his Red Book.

Jung's Red Book is on exhibit at the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea through mid-February.

The New York Times has posted a slideshow of Red Book folios (registration required) »

Sunday, December 06, 2009

hello, louis. (you're looking lovely.)

Roadside stop to see Louis Sullivan's Merchants Bank in Grinnell, Iowa. I wasn't expecting the green-patina gilt running along the columns and the facade, but the impact in the weak winter sun is remarkable.

It's Sunday, which means the bank is closed and we couldn't get a peek at the interior, so we had to make what we could of the art glass from the outside. Still: stunning.

Most remarkable is the way this jewel box by the grand-daddy of the Prairie School who fathered the emergence of modern architecture feels right at home in the quiet farming town of Grinnell, wearing its Sunday best without putting on airs.

Like the well-mannered Midwesterner it is.

Posting by cameraphone on the road home.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

just like the ones I used to know

snow blows.

We have learned to be a little sad and a little lonesome, without being sickly about it. This feeling is caught in the song of a thousand juke boxes and the tune whistled in streets and homes, 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas.' When we sing that song we don't hate anybody. . . . Away down under, this latest hit of Irving Berlin catches us where we love peace.

The poet Carl Sandburg, referring to how Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas' captured the spirit of life in the U.S. in the early years of WWII. Cited in this morning's Wall Street Journal.

According to the WSJ Irving Berlin's White Christmas is the best-selling song of all time: "Guinness World Records puts its sales at more than 50 million copies, with album and other sales taking the total above 100 million."

Friday, December 04, 2009

tom thumb

tom thumb
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
The sign may say "hamburgers" but it's pretty clear,
upon walking into this place just outside Ft. Dodge, Iowa,
that the place is known for pie.

Everyone in the joint has a slice before them, and the pastry
cases are full with freshly baked specimens in glass pie pans.

Sour cream raisin with a meringue mountain topper for the
brave; cherry for the traditionalist; rhubarb for me.

Posting by cameraphone from the road back to Omaha.

angel's wings, coat room

angel's wings, coat room
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Back at the church for sandwiches and
cake post-interment. (The church ladies
have been busy.)

Posting by cameraphone from Humboldt, IA

power up

power up
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Posting by cameraphone
from Omaha, NE


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Road tripping to Humboldt, Iowa from
Omaha, Nebraska to bury mr. hoo's gram.

Posting by cameraphone.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

shipping & receiving

shipping & receiving
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
On a mission to find a good cup of
coffee in Omaha. So far: failing.

Posting by cameraphone.
Memorial service later.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

nightscape, Iowa

like deep sea fish
angling by luminescence
combines crawl corn rows

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

conference call

conference call
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Posting by cameraphone
from the office
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