Sunday, June 29, 2008

Of waterfalls and loneliness

A favorite habit of bloggers--or at least the ones I know--is examining one's Sitemeter statistics to see how people find your blog. It is an amusing, if sometimes depressing, undertaking. I am often saddened by the desperate 3am Googlers searching the terms "bedbugs" who end up here. I feel your pain, brothers and sisters! But don't worry--bedbugs don't always result in the total and utter catastrophe documented on many other blogs. Once my apartment was treated just once, I never saw another little bugger again.

For a while I had lots of European visitors, many searching for lyrics to a song called "Suburbia, Always." I do not believe I have ever heard this song, but the Euros seem to love it. Similarly, my European friends frequently search for lederhosen and dirndl pictures as well as photos of Leipzig.

What amuses me most, though, and something I've been thinking a lot about lately, due to this recent news story which documents the role of Google data in defining and contesting what "pornography" is, is just how dirty people are. In the Google data case, the defense--which is representing an internet pornography site owner--is trying to establish that community norms are much, um, broader than once thought. As the New York Times so blithely put it, "residents of Pensacola are more likely to use Google to search for terms like “orgy” than for “apple pie” or “watermelon.” Don't I know it! Well, I don't know about Pensacola so much, but I can say that:

1) People in Turkey love to search Google using terms like "ohne unterhosen" and "wunderbar porno." Disappointingly for them, they sometimes end up here, due to my poor choice of previous blog titles. They also search for porn using the name of poor Sibel Kekilli. C'mon Turkish dudes! She's a legitimate actress now!

2) Germans also love their porno, but seem to have more specialized tastes. I am mildly delighted that so many people in Germany searching terms like "scheiss porn" end up looking at my dopey pictures of alligators and birds instead.

Overall, I often get the sense that the world is a lonely place, with lots of people with unfulfilled desires. Of course, the world is not made up solely of Googlers, so I like to think (and suspect this may be what undermines the defense in the case described above) that they are not representative of the world at large. Maybe most people are totally sexually satisfied and are out frolicking in the sunshine rather than sitting at the computer screen with their hands stuck down their pants.

On that note, I was shocked to discover yesterday, after frolicking in the sunshine, that one of Olaf Eliasson's waterfalls is clearly visible from my block. After further investigation (which involved turning my head in the other direction), I discovered that two waterfalls are clearly visible from my block! Because I try not to be lazy, I decided to get a little closer. They are pretty. Thanks Olaf!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gator quest

For the past week I have been on vacation, which I expected to be filled with hiking and nature and swims in the ocean. Instead, it's looked mostly like this:

(Please note that it was so dark at 3pm that I couldn't even tell that I'd accidentally left the "black&white" setting on in the camera!)

Oh well...what's a little rain? It's given me plenty of time to read, make stuff and enjoy all the pie I can eat. Yesterday it cleared up enough that I was able to view some nature, which I hoped would include a sighting of an alligator. Instead I got this guy:

And a dried up marsh that normally holds many alligators, but was so dry on this day that it looked like the surface of the moon or some other faraway planet:

I find this befuddling. If it has been raining for five days straight, why is this land so parched? I guess that's the way a drought works though--it is dry for months, then rains so hard all at once that the land can't soak it up. Right, scientist-readers?

Anyway, after moving locations I did finally spot an alligator. He was so far away though, that it didn't really have the horror movie feel I was hoping for. But here's the top of his head, for your viewing pleasure:

Luckily, some liquids remain in ample supply:

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Heat Wave! (Staten Island version)

Unfortunately for me, today was the last day of a rather fabulous sale at JoAnn Fabrics, a very un-New York (i.e. suburban) fabric and crafting emporium with a local outpost on Staten Island. I had long planned on journeying out there, via bicycle, to scoop up $1.99 patterns and bolts of fabric. How was I to know that my chosen day would turn out to be the hottest of the year?

Undaunted, I decided just to slather on the sunscreen, load up a couple of bottles of water, and hit the road anyway. After a funny start to the day--which began when our building's security guard told me I reminded him of Kill Bill's "Black Mamba," due to my perceived ability to "kick and turn flips"-- I made a very leisurely Fahrrad-ride down to the ferry station, and waited with a chatty curly-haired fellow bicyclist, who was also braving the weather to head out on a hike.

I wasn't totally sure where I was going on this little jaunt, but decided to stick by the water for as long as possible, in the hopes it would temper the heat and prove to be scenic. Of course, "scenic" means many different things to different people--for me, this ride was interesting, as it featured many nautical-type things that I don't even know the names for (graving docks? loading areas? ship shacks?) that appeared as though they hadn't been used for a maybe decades. There were also some fine lookin' liquor stores and lots and lots of traffic...which prevented much picture-taking, as I was worried about being squashed by one of Staten Island's multiple speeding cars. (I do have to note, however, that contrary to their reputation, Staten Island drivers were pretty nice. No one honked or yelled at me, and most cars seemed to be making a semi-serious effort not to kill me.)

Anyway, after racing under the Bayonne Bridge, I sweated my way up a moderate hill and found myself in clothing-making nirvana. One hour and seven new patterns later, I emerged to find that, although it was technically still morning, it was freaking hot. So much so that as I unlocked my bike, a kindly older gentleman waiting in the car for his wife commented, with some concern, that maybe it was too hot for bicycle riding. I assured him that I was prepared, and set off again.

This time, I altered my route. I had a plan, you see. I was going to reward myself with a post-JoAnn meal at the fantabulous New Asha restaurant. I can't say enough about the New Asha. It is a glutton's dream, if unfortunately located at the top of an extremely steep hill that would crush the will of even the pseudo-Black Mamba. On this day, though, I figured I'd come at it from the top of the hill, rather than the bottom...which, theoretically, worked out, although there was still a hill to be climbed. Luckily, the hill was in the middle of the verdant Clove Lake Park, which gave me the chance to stop both to catch my breath and to pretend I was super-interested in the scenery:

I could only maintain this farce for a short while though--then I had to puff my way up the hill and emerge on the remarkably unshaded Victory Boulevard. By the time I arrived at New Asha, I was pretty much drenched in sweat. (I apologize, kindly New Asha owner, for sweating in your restaurant. But thank you for the star fruit and curry!)

It was, literally, all downhill from there. I boarded the ferry home, sucked in the cooling sea air, took some snaps of passing boats:

and thought about what a shame it is that the world is frying up.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

What to do on a Saturday, when it rains

Wake up mistakenly early. Make a loaf of potato dill bread:

Don't wash your hair. Ride bicycle to farmer's market; chat with farmer about New Mexico quarters and the unfortunate farmer's tan you are sporting following the tragic arm sunburn. Dodge raindrops on the way home.

Make a pie:

Feel ambitious. Walk to local gallery to view Germanic art. Make a pit-stop at fancy coffee joint you've never noticed before. Wish you could figure out how to make a heart shape out of foam like the barista does.

Get stopped by British tourist looking for a florist. Try not to feel creeped out when British tourist touches the bare farmer's tanned arm.

Continue onward, eventually reaching far, far away gallery, to view the fabulous Rosa Loy's exhibit, Close to Me. Think about spending $7,000 on Hab' Ich Alles. Realize that's crazy, and that someone already bought it anyway. Take free exhibit card instead:

Walk home along river; think about Berlin: