Cutest Cars Evar

I’m excited that the tipping point for electric cars may be finally approaching. The Tesla, the Volt, and the Aptera, to name a few, are all getting flurries of blog attention, as is alternative fuel technology in general.

TriacSan Jose-based Green Vehicles has been popping up in various tech and auto blogs lately, seemingly out of nowhere. Who are these guys, anyway? Reviewers are generally of the opinion that the company’s fully electric three-wheeler, called the Triac, is huggably cute.

I couldn’t agree more and I totally want one. Actually, I like the Microwat model, too, and may be hard pressed to choose between it and the Triac. One of each? Hmm, with reported prices approaching twenty G’s, I might have to restrain myself to just one. Well, that and my suspicion that my 6′5″ sweetheart wouldn’t be able to fit so much as a shoe inside any of these little cutsie-poos. Oh, well.

Be sure to have the sound turned on when visiting so you can enjoy the shiny happy noises that serenade your every click and mouse-over.

California Earthquake Map

Today on the phone my dad asked if I had heard about a recent earthquake in Northern California. I hadn’t. In searching for information online, I found this USGS site that maps recent earthquake activity with a combination of shapes and colors to indicate strength and time. I liked getting a visual picture of the shakin’ going on in our state. Clicking on any event brings up a page with detailed information on a specific quake. Known hazardous fault lines are included, and all the activity centers on these lines. None of which, thankfully, are near us.

You can also view an animation of quake activity for the last seven days.

I was happy to note that what I’d heard about our area might really be true: that we are (in spite of our town sharing the name of the notorious fault line) in an area of relatively low quake risk. Quake activity surrounds us, but isn’t local.

As long as the whole Central Valley doesn’t dislodge and sink into the magma, we’re golden. Yay.

Pangea Day

David Pogue, tech writer for the New York Times, posted an article about Pangea Day, the TED wish project of Jehane Noujaim, a documentary filmmaker. Her wish was to create a one-day, global film project promoting understanding between cultures. The attention from TED really did the trick, and her project looks like a wonderful success. I love this idea! Now I just have to figure out a where I can watch the films.

Awesome Dream

I rarely remember my dreams. Mostly I remember feelings or a mood, or maybe just snippets. Conal remembers his dreams really well, and they are often weirdly coherent in a wacky dream-logic kind of way. I’m jealous. Mine are usually so weird they only make sense while I’m asleep.

Once in a great while a good one comes along, and I treasure it.

Sir Sean ConneryLast night, I dreamed was in a hospital-like place. I don’t know what its being a hospital had to do with anything. I had a sense of belonging, as if I worked there or something. I also sort of lived there, as if it was the whole world, hallways and lights and doors and shiny floors.

I was aware that I had a choice to make. There were two men who wanted to marry me, and I had not yet said yes to either one. It wasn’t a stressful thing, but rather pleasant.

One of my suitors was a young, kind of dorky guy. I don’t remember much about him other than a kind of sweet, inept dweebishness. Thick, rumpled brown hair, glasses and an earnest expression, now that I think of it. He had a puppyish youthful energy going for him.

While I was walking down a long hallway, the other gentleman came striding up behind me. My perspective was through the curtain of my long bangs hanging in my eyes. They were kind of annoying me. The other guy was… wait for it… Sean Connery. I kid you not. He looked dashingly craggy with salt-and-pepper hair, mature yet virile, still completely magnetic. Say, Medicine Man era. He didn’t have a ponytail, though.

SEAN CONNERY, 1962 - ADVERTISING SHOOT FOR SMIRNOFF VODKAI turned to speak to him as he came up alongside me. He saw my face and said, “Now, don’t Sandra Dee me!” I think he was referring to the hair curtain, but I don’t exactly know what he meant, and was puzzled even in the dream. I woke up not even remembering who Sandra Dee was. Googling the name as I write this, I wonder if he was referring to the actress, or the character/song in Grease that I read was inspired by her? And either way, dubya tee eff?

But the accent, oh my. The eyes!

Sir Sean (did you know he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2000?) then set about making his case as the better candidate for marriage (still not kidding). He apparently knew I was worried about his age, and we had a very gracious and lively exchange as he described his excellent qualities as a lover and husband. “I can turn your body in ways…” he said (including the ellipsis), implying some kind of wonderful lovemaking technique, apparently. But it wasn’t icky, truly, he was just very elegantly and passionately lobbying for me to choose him over Dweeboy. He really thought he had a lot to offer me.

Phew. Is it getting warm in here? (Kidding now)

I stumbled on this black and white photo searching for the one above. He didn’t look like that in the dream, but it’s such a cool shot I had to share it anyway.

I woke up before I got to choose between Sir Sean and Dweeb Puppy, but I wasn’t sad at all. Who do you think I ought to have picked?

All Hope Abandon, Ye Who Enter Here

Airloom, Seattle racing yacht on which I crewed for many yearsMy Uncle Fred, master sailor, all-around good guy, and expert on Croydon family history, poked a hole below the waterline of my personal image the other day, I’m sad to report. He didn’t mean to, really. It’s just that, as it turns out, I’m not a pirate, after all.

It all started when my sweetie Conal’s brother, Joseph, got the Elliott clan interested in, an online genealogy/social networking (and may I say, very cool) website currently in beta. In next to no time, Joseph had added relations all the way back to the 1500’s! I enjoyed the visual and interactive nature of the site, and got my own family involved in the fun.

Remembering that Uncle Fred had done extensive research and documentation of my father’s family, as well as produced beautiful printed family trees and booklets, I checked in with him to find out if he would be interested in contributing information or participating directly in building our family tree on Geni. Turns out he entered his extensive collection of information into a software program that uses standard GENCOM format for genealogy data. The folks at have said they will soon allow import of GEDCOM files into their database, so I’m looking forward to being able to see and interact with all that wonderful history Fred researched and assembled.

While reviewing the handful of ancestors that Fred entered manually onto our tree, I was surprised to see the name Pengelley only a couple of generations back, in my great grandmother’s era. I had always thought of the Pengelley name in association with the family pirate legend, going waaaaay back in time. The rumor I heard had one of the Pengelleys as a marauder off the coast of England in the 1700’s. I don’t remember hearing any details beyond that, but I didn’t care. What I liked was believing that I, a sailor in a family of sailors, had actual pirates in my bloodline! How cool was that?!

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Spring Tickles

click to view larger versionThe sun-warmed branches of the tree outside my window are festooned with pink buds. I’ve watched them day by day, swelling from tiny bumps on the bare gray branches to adolescent pods bursting with pink petals. The dominant local hummingbird has a favorite branch where he stands guard over the nearby feeder, swaying his head rhythmically in complete absorption with his riotous songs. He’s a thumb-sized tough guy unconcerned with the frilliness of his chosen perch or the over-the-top gaudiness of his iridescent feathers—the Eddie Izzard of hummingbirds.

click to view larger versionSpring’s exuberant pull seems to tug at me too, with a vague, tickly restlessness for I don’t know what. The steep meadows above the house are thickly coated with orange California poppies, lightly peppered with other wildflowers in blue and white. Furry little bees are bumbling gently about in the sky-colored rosemary blossoms, and white lilac thickens the air with a sweet, heady perfume. Life, life, life, expressing jubilantly and calling my name!

click to view larger versionThe intense warmth of the sun, the soft scented breezes, the swiftly lengthening days, the bright blossoms nosing up through tender green grass, it’s all such a shock to the senses coming on so swiftly after the long, scorched fall and the cold dampness of winter. Perhaps I’m hardened to the teasing springtime habits of the Northwest weather gods, where heady warm days in March inspire unwary humans to don lightweight clothing and plan outdoor activities, only to be doused with freezing rain or coated with heavy frosts. Or even sprinkled with snow.

Is there someplace I’m supposed to go? Some appointment I’m late for? Or am I simply a mammal among hordes of other mammals and assorted critters nudged by Nature into doing their spring cleaning, traveling, and flirting like clockwork each year? After our hibernation through the dark of winter, spring trails its glorious, petaled raiment across our senses and tickles us to life and love and new beginnings. Who am I to resist?


Conal in the east office windowConal in the east office window bigger

Conal in the east office window biggest!

Conal in the east office window, Easter Sunday. Note the green hillside, which had been burned black by the fire in May 2007.  Yay Nature.

Happy Easter

Buttercups on the old stagecoach road

Buttercups on the old stagecoach road near Black Bart’s rock, Murray Creek, California. Photo by Holly.

Economic Gobbledygook ~ To Grok or Not to Grok

Thank goodness, and David Leonhardt of The New York Times, for this article on the credit crisis.

When the distress in the credit industry began to percolate last summer, I started reading a great deal more financial news than is normally my habit. I’m interested in the issue of consumer credit, having long had some vague unease about the level of consumer indebtedness that the average American carries. Opportunities to go deeply into debt abound, as anyone with an address for credit card offers to flood into can attest. The escalating problems in the credit industry got my attention in an “Oh no! I knew this house-of-borrowed-cards was going to implode sooner or later!” kind of way.

I figured that if I read enough and studied the matter I would be able to follow events and understand them, if only in a broader sense, to help me contribute to prudent decisions regarding our own household spending. Should we purchase a truck with borrowed money or cash, or not at all? Should we continue our usual spending patterns or cut back? At first, I followed along confidently in my reading of the unfolding events. But then I noticed aspects of the deepening crisis I was reading about starting to sound like some kind of made-up language.

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Hummers are Back in Town *and* I Have A Camera!!

I’m having a lot of fun with our new Canon Powershot AS650 IS, the camera I’ve been lusting after for some time. We got it at Costco, bundled with a photo printer and extra 1G SD card.

One of my favorite subjects is hummingbirds. Here are a couple of the local rowdies.


D’awe, look at those teensie feetses! Don’t be fooled, however, by their diminutive uber-cuteness. Although neither of these birds is even as big as my thumb, they buzz around sporting some serious ‘tude. Hummers are very territorial, and they spend a lot of time and energy chasing each other and trying to be Big Bass Ass Hummer of the ‘Hood. The guy with iridescent head literally stands guard in a tree overlooking one of the feeders, attempting to chase off any interlopers by zooming straight at them and cussing them out in high-pitched, electronic sounding tones.

Another hummer!

Some of the birds scare off easily. Others just kind of look at him like, “Whatever, dude,” and go back to sipping their sugar water.