$13 Buys a lot of Love

I have a fish. His name is Benito.

He’s a Half Moon Betta and I paid the princely sum of $13 for him. (most regular Betta fish go for about $5).

This is what he looked like when I first got him at the fish store:

He was little. He was scrappy. He liked his food to be delivered with alacrity.

Way back in May 2010, Benito almost died. The Good Man saved his life and now Benito has been a happy, scrappy, crazy fish in our home for the past year.

This is what Benito looks like now. He’s not only handsome, he’s a work of art. Right at this moment, this photo hangs in a Bay Area photography show where all may come and worship the handsome fish.

Last night, it was time to change out Benito’s water. We are very responsible fish owners and work very hard to make sure our fish are happy and swim around in good clear and conditioned water.

Doing a full tank change is tough because it requires us to dip the fish out of the tank (which can be stressful for the fish) and hold them in a small container while we replace the water in the tank.

Last night, I had completed this water change and I had returned Benito to his home. He’s always a little bewildered after the water change and has to reassert that his tank is truly his home. I decided to give him some food because if he can get a couple pellets down, he’ll go calm and all will be well.

For some reason last night when I reached over the tank to drop a tasty Hikari pellet his way, he got spooked and started darting around the tank.

This is not unusual behavior for a frightened Betta. What is unusual, however, is that he dove straight down and slammed his tiny fish noggin on the rocks.

He was visibly stunned and floated there for a moment with blank eyes and hardly any movement.

“Honey?” I said worriedly to The Good Man, “I think we have a problem.”

Benito did not look good. At one point, he stopped moving his fins at all and began to list to one side. Betta owners will know that laying on the bottom and listing to one side is NOT a good sign.

The Good Man and I crowded worriedly around the tank and watched him. His gills were still working and occasionally a side fin would flap. But it didn’t look good. It didn’t look good at all.

I became inconsolably depressed. My fish. My little fish! How could this happen?

The Good Man thought Benito was just stunned and would be all right. I wasn’t so sure. I fully expected to find him floating at the top of the tank in the morning.

I’m happy to say I was completely wrong. About a half hour later, Benito seemed revived and back to his usual self. This morning he was swimming about and hungry as usual.


When did I start to love a little $13 fish so gosh darn much? A silly, scrappy, easily startled, concussed fish?

I don’t know. I just do. He may only be a pet store fish but he’s a part of our family.

An Open Letter to an Ugly Fire

Dear WildFire –

Hey, hey. Slow down a bit there, buddy. Why the rush?

Let’s chat, huh? Have a minute to catch our breaths and a nice cool glass of lemonade. Not into lemonade? Oh, well do you mind if I have some?

I know it’s the summer and you are feeling hot, hot, hot. Raring to go. You are young, aggressive, a go-getter. Some might say…hungry.

You chew up the terrain, expand your reach, and build your empire and leave a swath of pain, ashes and devastation in your path.

You know what, I’ve been ignoring you. On purpose.

Growing up in the dusty lands of New Mexico, I learned to take the arrival of you rambunctious wildfires as part of the natural cycle of the year. It gets hot, it gets dry, then like a rabid parasite you come to visit, leaving an indelible mark much like a drug fueled rock star in a five star hotel.

Utter destruction.

Only you don’t stick around to pay the bill. You hop another border and get to work burning down something else.

I ignore you because I’ve borne witness to the people who know how to deal with you. They efficiently knock you down, smother your ambition, and wrestle you under control. I heard you were back in town and figured you’d party your way through the cycle and you’d be knocked down soon enough. Managed. Controlled.

You’re a wily one this year, aren’t you? Nimble. Agile. Persistent.

You should know something. You’re ugly, all right? Beautifully profoundly ugly.

After seeing your face last night on my local news, my Bay Area local news, I figured maybe it was time to pay you a little attention, like a bratty child who has finally worked my last nerve.

It’s time to take a look at you like passing by a horrible accident. I don’t want to look and then suddenly I can’t seem to look away.

Damn it, WildFire. Stop. Just…stop. You’ve done enough. More than enough. It’s getting excessive.

Please stop. People’s lives, livelihood, homes, neighborhoods and towns are at stake here.

You are destroying my home state. I’m very protective of my home state.

So look. Just stop. End this. Be gone. Be done. Move along.

We’ve indulged you long enough. It’s time for you to leave.

In the vernacular of my people: don’t let the gate hit you on the way out.


This image terrifies me….

Image from New Mexico News and Views.

Little Miss Goody-Goody

Yesterday, after a long day of being a good corporate citizen, I climbed into The Jeep and pointed her nose toward home.

Near my office there is a very busy intersection located just near the entrance to 101. The intersection gets jammed up after work as everyone is trying to make it through at the same time. I don’t need to go on 101, but I have to pass by the entrance.

So in the busy 6:00 hour it’s all a matter of timing to get to the other side of the intersection while the light is green, hoping the other light another three blocks ahead also turns green so you don’t get left hanging out in the middle of the intersection.

Generally speaking, the local police don’t really find humor in people jamming up the intersections with their bad sense of timing and impatience.

Yesterday I just wanted to get home. I wanted some dinner and the chance to not think about work for several hours before sweet magical sleep.

As I rolled to the intersection, I looked at traffic, I weighed the odds of the light ahead turning green, and decided to go through the intersection and get in line. My front wheels made it into the lane, my back end was hanging out into the intersection.

I kept looking at the light, thinking “uh oh, this green is getting stale.” I mentally begged the other light to turn and save my bacon. As my light went yellow, I implemented evasive maneuvers. I was in the center lane, so I turned the wheel to move into the left lane, thus getting me out of the intersection.

Only problem was, there was something blocking my egress to the left lane.

A police car. With his lights on.

He had been headed the other direction and made a half u-turn, thus blocking the left lane. I looked at him, he pointed, I nodded, then pulled over to the far right lane instead, over to the curb and I stopped.


Then another car pulled in behind me, the guy who was ahead of me in line. Seems that nice police officer got himself a two fer one deal. A traffic ticket BOGO.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

The policeman approached the other vehicle first. I turned off my car, found my license and insurance and opened my windows to wait. I heard things like “Sir, are you aware that you….” and “…being charged with a moving violation…” on the breeze.

A moving violation? But I was standing still! Ok, I moved into the intersection. I get it.

The mind was racing: How long ago was it that I got my last ticket? Remember when I got popped by the stupid red light camera? If it was more than eighteen months ago, then maybe I can apologize my way out of this. Be calm. Be calm. Be nice to the cop. Say please and thank you. Say you are sorry. Say you misjudged the flow of traffic.

The officer brought a ticket back to the other guy, he signed it, took his copy, then drove off. The officer lingered near his police cruiser for a bit. He was on his two way radio. Must be calling in my plate.

I waited. And waited.

Finally the officer approached. I held out my documents like a sacred offering.

“Ma’am, are you broken down or something?”

“Uh, no officer. You pointed to me.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I just wanted you to know that I was going after that guy. You’re good. Have a nice day.”

“Oh? Thank you officer, you have a nice day too!”

Then I almost peed myself with relief. Holy. Crap.

When I told this story to The Good Man he said “you get good-kid karma points for stopping and not just driving away.”

I hope that’s true. I suspect I’m gonna need ’em.

Photo from FightSpeedingTicketsNow.com.

No Substitute for Sense

As I’ve been fighting the demon of lactose intolerance, lately I’ve been sampling several different milk alternatives.

Soy, hemp, almond, grain, etc. All of ’em.

The one thing they have in common in the strongly worded admonition on the side of the container that the product shouldn’t be used as a substitute for baby formula.

All because of that one couple who fed only soy milk and apple juice to their baby, and the baby died.

So I’d been thinking about just this very topic recently when lo and behold, my friend NewMexiKen posted this today (from a 1956 Life Magazine):

Via The Consumerist, click image for full story.

From the ad copy: “For a fact, you can even give this sparkling drink to babies—and without any qualms. Lots of mothers do just that!”

Faboo! Sort of reminds me of the old family scrapbook I have where my grandparents wrote down the formula to feed their first baby. The recipe is Karo syrup and milk. My Aunt turned out fine, so I guess it was ok.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Education

On the final day of the San Mateo County Fair, a beautiful blue sky Sunday, The Good Man and I went for a final visit and the intent of procuring unhealthy fair food.

I grabbed my camera to take along, intent on taking some photos of the carnival.

Let’s be honest, carnival shots have been done. A lot. By a lot of photographers that are a heck of a lot more talented than me.

Not only is imitation the sincerest form of flattery, when it comes to photography, it’s the best way to learn. I sometimes spend an awful lot of time figuring out how someone got the shot and trying to replicate it. *click* Nope. fiddle-fiddle-fiddle *click* Nope. You get the idea.

But then, I do finally figure it out. And I get it. Then I understand how it works. I learn a bit more about light and exposure and framing…and…and…and.

And so, the ubiquitous Ferris Wheel shot. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, actually. I like that the edges break out of the side of the shot. This is something my photography teacher has been working on with us.

From there, now that I got it, I branch out to try to get some snaps of things that take on my own style. Learn from the masters then add a layer of my own perspective.

This is my favorite shot from the day:

This one is for my best friend who loves carousels.

Nothing ground breaking here, but a lot of fun. And what’s best, you may not be able to see it, but I can certainly see how my skills are continuing to improve.

As they say, practice, practice, practice.