Sunday, May 25, 2008


It's no secret that Michael and I don't take good care of our fishtank. For Michael's first birthday when we were married, I bought him a fishtank and a bunch of cool fish. The coolest of which was an angelfish. The angelfish didn't last a day. Neither did the next three angelfish that we bought. The only fish that could last in our tank were these big silver-dollar fish that weren't very much to look at, and our plecostomus that we named Placasso.
Years went by, and the fishtank became a source of frustration for us. The filters that we bought repeatedly broke after two weeks of use. We went through three or four filters before we just stopped buying them ($20 each, btw).
But as luck would have it, the fish did just fine without the filter! We just made sure to put in water every once in awhile and Placasso took care of the rest. He is a lean mean cleaning machine.
The fish lasted this way for a year and a half, maybe two years. Then Breanne discovered the first death. It was something like this: The fist thing I saw was that big disgusting dead fishy eye floating at an unnaturally diagonal angle in the tank. It's the dead eyes that get me. Michael obviously took care of the rest. But secretly we were relieved: the tank had been frustrating us for so long and we couldn't just flush live fish. And how long are fish supposed to last anyways? 3 years seemed like a good lifespan. Then Death #2 a few weeks later. There went the big silver dollar fish. The two tiny silver fish followed maybe 6 - 9 months later. With each death, a little more guilty relief: soon we can get rid of the tank!!
Except Placasso.
That guy has hung on. Now the only occupant of our tank, our neglect has gotten worse and worse and he just hangs on. The last time we filled the tank I think he was down to a 5 inch water depth. I'd noticed for the last couple of years a trick that he likes to do: he would float upside down on the top of the tank, skimming across the underside of the water, and then swim back down.

Well, a few months after our last two fish were gone, Placasso was floating upside down at the top of the tank again. But his mouth wasn't moving. Nor were any of his limbs. I went up to the tank and was horrified to discover that one of his fins was sticking straight up out of the water! I called Michael, who prepared to do his usual disposal routine, when Placasso flung himself down through the water to hide in a plant at the bottom of the tank. What a dirty trick! I mean, what fish sticks their little fin out of the water and floats upside down not moving!? Placasso.

Next week: again, he's upside down. Not moving. Fin out in the air. Several minutes go by. I'm sure he's dead. I get Michael.

This has happened four or five times now, and each time I'm sure he's dead. And each time when we get near the tank, or touch it, he swims down to hide.
Until this morning.
This morning he was at the top of the tank again, and I think, "Hehe, I'll get the camera and show everyone what a dirty little faker he is. So I snap some photos in a hurry to get him before he swims down.

And after a minute I think, "Wow, he's really holding steady. I wonder if I could set the camera on the tank to get a more steady photo." So I do. He stays still even when the camera softly plunks on the edge of the tank. Strange. So I take a whole bunch of photos so I can get a really good one.

But after looking at him so long, I begin to think that his middle looks a little bloated.
Oh no.
Here I am snapping vengeful photos of him and he could actually be dead. So I decide to do the foolproof test: I tap on the tank.
I tap harder, several times. Not a budge.

So I call Michael, who comes to the tank and does his own inspection.
Definitely dead.
Michael said his tail wasn't curling up like it usually did when he was faking. We both ran up to see my mom for a minute, and I told her how I was relieved to get rid of the tank.
When we came back downstairs, I looked at the tank, but he was gone. He had disappeared! What?
And then I became filled with an indignant rage.
I ran up to the tank, and sure enough, there he is settled in the plants at the bottom, wiggling his little gills, laughing at me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Explaination for Lauren:

This is my friend Jessie and me, just before we saw Speed Racer. We took the photo for our friend Kelsey, who is out of town and misses us. We like to rub it in that we are having fun without her. (Just kidding, Kelsey)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Michael Pollan

I recently got a book by Michael Pollan, and decided to look up some of his other writings. I came across and article he wrote after watching, "An Inconvenient Truth." Here's a clip:

"For us to wait for legislation or technology to solve the problem of how we're living our lives suggests we're not really serious about changing--something our politicians cannot fail to notice. They will not move until we do. Indeed, to look to leaders and experts, to laws and money and grand schemes, to save us from our predicament represents precisely the sort of thinking--passive, delegated, dependent for solutions on specialists--that helped get us into this mess in the first place. It's hard to believe that the same sort of thinking could now get us out of it.

Virtually all of our needs and desires we delegate to specialists of one kind or another--our meals to agribusiness, health to the doctor, education to the teacher, entertainment to the media, care for the environment to the environmentalist, political action to the politician.

As Adam Smith and many others have pointed out, this division of labor has given us many of the blessings of civilization. Specialization is what allows me to sit at a computer thinking about climate change. Yet this same division of labor obscures the lines of connection--and responsibility--linking our everyday acts to their real-world consequences, making it easy for me to overlook the coal-fired power plant that is lighting my screen, or the mountaintop in Kentucky that had to be destroyed to provide the coal to that plant, or the streams running crimson with heavy metals as a result."

Basically, he's asking us to take more responsibility for our lives and the way we live. I agree about the division of labor obscuring our lines of connection, and the reason I'm writing about it now is because I've been feeling it a lot lately. When I go to a restaurant and order something, I don't feel guilty anymore about my server having to bring me food. Because if they come to the library, I'll serve them there. We all serve each other, whether we're dealing directly with each other or not. I just think that we forget that sometimes.

I guess that Pollan was talking more about our direct influence on the environment around us, but I think that obscurity is more than an eco-footprint. I think we would be less resentful of each other - the disgruntled server, the loud businessman, the child in public school, if we thought more about those connections.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I missed it...

I meant to videotape the rollover to 200,000 miles. Unfortunately, I was 36 miles late. The rollover happened sometime on my way to work Friday morning (May 2, 2008). I bought the car when it had 110,000 miles. So, 90,000 miles later, where has my car taken me?

We've been together for 7 years. I bought him in high school, senior year. Since then, that car has seen first kisses, parking lot doughnuts, many heart-to-hearts, wedding days, oceans, mountain tops, college graduations (and many classes), the homes I grew up in, best friends, a new engine, cliff top hydroplanes, new babies, goodbyes, four homes (and not one garage), Christmas trees sticking out of the window, and many trips to nowhere in particular.

I guess it takes a momentous occasion for you to look back and think about what something has meant to you. That car has been function, facilitation, and most important, freedom.