Saturday, April 21, 2018

Law & Order DUN DUN -- Week One

I'm taking the "citizens academy" course offered by my county's district attorney. On one night a week for eight weeks I will sit in a conference room at the police station and learn about parts of the local criminal justice system.

This week there was also pizza.

There are about thirty people in the class although probably a third of them are attached in some way to the DA's office or one of the other agencies. The rest of the class is almost entirely composed of white women. (Yes, I realize I am also a white woman.) Since that doesn't really reflect the demographics of my area, I can only speculate about why that is.

In any case, during the first week the DA came in and introduced the heads of the local law enforcement groups (county sheriff, chiefs of police departments, CHP commander, and probation department) and gave each of them about 15 minutes to speak. Their talks ran the gamut.

  • The county sheriff (an elected position that this guy has held for the last twenty years) sounded a lot like a seventy year old good ol' boy who had been a politician for the last twenty years. His department has a lot of parts, so that was interesting to learn about, but like any politician he was careful to make sure he got credit for things. He's not running for reelection after this term because the county had to pay out a bunch of money to settle a sexual harassment suit against him earlier this year. (He didn't mention that last bit.)
  • Apparently Davis has a big problem with meth and heroin. Also, the population has doubled without the PD adding any more officers. On top of that, they're having a hard time filling positions that they do have. (This was a common theme among all the PDs.) The reason they're having a hard time filling the positions is because they're looking for people who can do the job without being power-hungry assholes. (That was my interpretation of what he said.) Turns out, that's what a lot of the departments are looking for these days.
  • UC Davis and the city of Davis both have their own police departments. I mean, I sort of knew this, but I'd forgotten. The UCD chief is new (hired after the pepper spray fiasco) and seems like a really sharp guy. (He used to be in charge of the CHP for the entire state.)
  • The Woodland PD chief couldn't make it (which is a bummer because they recently hired him from Texas and I've been wondering what he's like) but his lieutenant was there, and wow did that guy have a Boston accent despite living here for decades. He claimed not to know the racial breakdown of the force, which... I guess it's true that it would be something only HR would know, but I was surprised he didn't just direct the question into talking about what efforts they are making to increase diversity. (I'm not slamming him for this -- I can just see that he's not the one who usually has to give these talks.)
  • The CHP guy spent most of his time talking about the CHP training center that's in the county. It has dormitories! It has its own cafeteria! Not really the point of the evening but whatever.

And then there was the guy from one of the nearby smaller towns who managed to spend fifteen minutes talking about how hard it is to be a white man these days. I mean, that's not what he thought he was saying, but... I'm really hoping he was just having an off night, because if he reads people in general as badly as he read that room, he has no business being in law enforcement. It makes me glad I don't live in that town.

So that was week one. Next week we get to talk about what the DA does and how a case goes through the system. That should be interesting even though there won't be free pizza.

And finally, a bit of humor. At the end of class we went around the room introducing ourselves and giving "one unique thing" about ourselves.

One girl, a student in college, said, in this class of 30+ people, that her unique thing was "I'm a Libra". And as I'm staring at her in disbelief because there are only twelve astrological signs possible, three other people are exclaiming about how odd it is that they are Libras too!

I think maybe week two should include a refresher course on simple probability...

Sunday, April 8, 2018

What a Twit

It turns out -- and I don't know how this could be possible, but apparently it is -- I am not one of the young hip kids any more. And yes, the fact that I even use the word "hip" in that context is a clue. I mean, I'm not old or anything because that's, you know, people in their seventies. But I'm not the person who thinks all the latest gadgets have any possible use other than annoying people.

The weirdest part about getting older is that I completely forget about it, and then I read things that claim Facebook is for old people and I am hit in the face with it again.

So against my better judgement, I've opened a Twitter account. (Okay, really I've opened the Twitter account as part of taking the writing career seriously.) I hadn't opened one before now because I couldn't figure out the point.

I still can't.

For me Facebook is for keeping track of how my actual real-life friends are doing. My friends list is small. I know every single person in real life.

In contrast, Twitter is like being bombarded with stuff thrown by random strangers. I follow less than 50 people and a couple of those aren't really active. With those select few, I can literally hit refresh all day long and pretty much always have something new to read. And I don't even follow Scalzi.

I also have 16 followers and I only know who half of them are. For some reason there are accounts that follow everybody. I don't understand why. Is my confusion because I'm too old? Why would some hockey player want to follow me? I mean, I know I'm hilarious, but am I really that much funnier than the hundreds of thousands of other people he follows?

WAIT A MINUTE! I just checked my follower list and the hockey guy is no longer on there! That bastard unfollowed me! I can't believe it. If I could remember his name I would give him a piece of my mind!

Anyhow... maybe I'll figure the whole Twitter thing out. Or maybe it will be like the dashboard in my new car and I'll just continue to look at it and shake my head.

Only time will tell.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

My iPhone Loves Tori

Back when I was younger, it was all the rage to create mix tapes for other people. As with all trends, I completely missed it, but the idea was you would come up with a mix of songs that someone else might enjoy, burn it on a tape or CD, and give it to the other person. This was back in the days before Pandora, so getting a bunch of random music was nice, if probably a little illegal.

The big dog got a new backpack so he can carry his own water on runs. I got my own.

I think about those days occasionally when I'm running. The modern equivalent of a mix tape is a playlist. I find them a pain to set up (because I'm lazy -- just assume that is true for most statements I make). Usually I just convince myself that I can tell iTunes to just play random songs from my library. I own a lot of music. I've accidentally left it playing on my laptop, gone out for twelve hours, and come home to my computer still working its way through the things I added in the last twelve months. So it should be able to come up with a decent playlist while I'm running. But there's one problem.

My iPhone is in love with Tori Amos.

Now I quite like Tori Amos as well. I've been a fan for years. I think I only have the last couple albums on iTunes, but that's because I still have the older albums on CD somewhere. But Tori Amos' later albums, while excellent music, aren't really the greatest for running. The songs are slow and meandering and they are really long, so once they start you can't just power through the next couple minutes and hope the next song is a little more lively. Worse, once my phone hits one song it then decides to play a bunch more.

This was my last run:

Me: Okay, play random songs from the library. *starts running*
iPhone: Let's start with Taj Mahal "Celebrated Walkin' Blues"
Me: Ha ha, very funny. *Almost nine minutes of a song about walking goes by as I try to convince my body that it has, in fact, run before.*
iPhone: Have some Caiti Baker
Me: Fine.
iPhone: Have some Tori Amos
Me: ... okay, I guess. *five minutes of oboe*
iPhone: Have some more Tori Amos
Me: ... really?
iPhone: A little more Tori Amos
Me: ... you're kidding, right?
iPhone: And perhaps a little Tori Amos?
Me: *stops running and takes out phone, hits the random button again, starts running*
iPhone: Have some Sia then.
Me: Whew.
iPhone: But I think you should listen to Tori Amos now.

So on a 65 minute run, my "random" selection produced nearly 50 minutes of Tori Amos.

I'm going to create some playlists.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Map? What's That?

This morning started with perfect running weather -- mid-50's forecast for most of the day, cloudy, light wind, and no rain. The big dog and I hadn't been for a run all week so we suited up and headed out. Then we turned around and came back because I forgot the pepper spray, but eventually we were on the road.

My usual plan is to head south out of town and keep going in a straight line until I realize that coming back is going to take even longer because I'll be tired. Turning around at the emus will be roughly 10k. Turning around at the bridge leads to a run of about nine miles. The only problem with going straight out and straight back is that it gets a little boring going the same route every time. I've dealt with that in the past by just planning on going a little farther every time, but nine miles is about my limit right now.

However, with nine miles to play with, I should be able to do a loop around some of the fields on the county roads which are set up on a N-S, E-W grid. They aren't spaced very evenly, but most of them aren't too much more than a mile apart, so a loop would add somewhere around four miles or maybe a little less.

With that in mind I turned left when we passed the emus and we ran along a whole new road (new fields of green stuff that I couldn't identify!) then took another left at the next road. Now we were headed north again so we'd passed the halfway point which was good because my legs were starting to get really tired.

This county road had absolutely no traffic. There wasn't any shoulder, but not one car passed us and I thought I'd found the perfect route. Then after about a mile I saw this:

Oops. Turns out the county roads aren't as much of a grid as I thought they were. Or they are a grid with a few missing pieces. The thing is, though, that I could see the cross traffic in the distance and I wasn't wearing my glasses so it couldn't be too far off. Instead of turning around and retracing our steps I decided to go off-roading on the edge of the field until I came to the next road where we would go west and be back on track.

We jumped across an irrigation ditch and started our life of crime (trespassing). Running on uneven soft dirt turned out to be a good way to turn an ankle, so after a few minutes I  decided to walk. Naturally this was when the yellow crop-dusting plane flew over, but I think it was headed further out because it didn't dump a bunch of chemicals on us. We finally made it to the other road which turned out to have no shoulder, a fair amount of traffic, and rough asphalt. I kept having to stop running and move over with the big dog onto the sloping side of the ditch to let traffic go by.

We weren't even halfway down the road when suddenly the big dog stopped. I looked back and he's shaking and doing a "the road is lava and I don't want to put my feet on it" imitation. I fully expected to find thorns or bloody pads when I looked at his feet, but I saw nothing. I got him back across the irrigation ditch into the fields so I could figure out what was going on. He wasn't overheated. He didn't want to lie down and rest. We were six miles into the run, but he's in better shape than I am and has been training with me the entire time, so muscle pain shouldn't have been a factor but you never know.

While I was trying to figure out who I could call to come pick us up he started walking on the dirt in the right direction. We walked the three miles back and he didn't act lame or otherwise painful the entire time.

So... I don't know. If he doesn't seem sore tomorrow I guess I'll chalk it up to something on that road that bothered him. He had trouble stepping on certain textures when we first started agility, so maybe it was that. Or maybe the traffic freaked him out.

In any case that route gets a hard no in the future.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


It's finally the end of this accursed glorious month of Thingadailies.

I decided to just go out with something easy:

I'm calling it "Self-portrait in mortar, tile, pure water rocks, and ichor".

We now return to our irregularly scheduled snark.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

On Fire!

Today was one of those days when you just throw up your hands and say "Maybe it will all look better in the daylight on some other day!" and I'm not even talking about the stepping stone.

Last night I went to the coffee shop to get some things done, but they were having an event, so I ended up staying outside on the patio. They had firepits going, but it was still really, really cold.

If I'd been any closer to the flames, my arm would have been on fire. It took me a couple of hours to thaw when I got back home.

Because of last night's temps, I wasn't worried about getting my run in early, so I left with the big dog after 11am and I was wearing running pants. After a couple of miles I was getting kind of hot, but I kept going. Then we made it out to the emus and turned around and the sun was no longer in my face and we were running into a breeze and it was pretty pleasant. That's when everything fell apart.

First my music app stopped playing, so I had to stop to get that going again, and then a minute later the wind shifted and the fire that someone had going on the other side of the road (which I think just had branches, but who really knows?) gave off a bunch of smoke that blew into my face. If I'd been walking it would have been no big deal other than the smell, so I didn't even think about it until I found myself gasping for breath a ten feet later. Turns out that a sudden drop in air quality really doesn't help oxygenate your body while running.

I dropped to a walk for the next half mile or so. My right eye wouldn't stop streaming tears, so I kept having to wipe my face, and I was starting to feel dehydrated on top of that and it just... wasn't a good run.


Apparently when the music app died, the running app also took a powder, but it still knew that it was supposed to be recording, so when I told it to stop it sprang back to life and gave me the funniest stats I've seen in a while.

So here are today's stats:
  • Distance: 6.40 miles (That's probably accurate given the course.)
  • Duration: 52:36 (Ha ha ha)
  • Avg pace: 8:13 min/mi (HA HA HA HA HA)
  • Calories: 895 (because apparently only the distance matters, not the fact that my shoes were smoking on the pavement because I was running so fast
  • Fastest split: 4:08 min/mi (Seriously, I should be getting endorsements and shit at this point!)
  • Roadkill: 2 (neither of which was the opossum which seems to have departed for other pastures)
  • Number of emus seen: 0 (Not sure where they were -- maybe they moved somewhere else because of the nearby smoke.)
I also used the new "hands-free" leash today -- it has a belt that goes around my waist and then the leash clips on to that. I wouldn't suggest using it with a dog that isn't good on a leash because you would get zero warning before being pulled to a stop, but on the plus side, if I drop dead while running at least my dog won't wander off.

And now, today's project -- first a shot of the artichoke plant that provided the leaves that I've used:
It even handled the hard frost the other night.

I ran out of clothing dye, so I tried to make the outline with some acrylic paint. It's harder to do the outline with liquid paint than with powder. It should at least get an imprint from the leaf.

But yeah, maybe it will look better in some other daylight.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Maybe They Won't Look Better In The Daylight After All

For today's Thingadailies, the state of the steps:

The wonky tile pattern looks fine I guess. On the other hand, the pure river stones at the bottom of the sludge... didn't quite work out the way I'd hoped. And yeah, they're all falling out.

This one seems just sort of okay to me.  It does have a hint of blue in the concrete although that didn't really come through in this picture.

I still think the colors of these stones make it kind of fun:

And finally the new one which is using part of the plate I broke because why not? (There's a "What a crock(ery)!" joke in there someplace!)

Anyhow... they don't really look that much better in the daylight. Maybe at noon? Or maybe under the light of a full blue moon?