Thursday, December 25, 2008

the holidays, briefly

Christmas Eve here with the family.

Christmas dinner with Grammy in Hood River.

Crazy weekend trip to Portland: Devotchka concert, meeting up with Nate and Annie, shopping the sales. Lots of food: Henry's tavern for happy hour; Roxy's at 1 am, the 24 hour diner with suicide chocolate cake and a Jesus sculpture over the jukebox; Mother's for the best brunch in town.

Visiting Dad and going for pizza. And grocery shopping.

Things said -

"What's Benny got? Did he get a potato?" - Mom on Benny the dog stealing a potato for use as a toy.

"I thought your hair reflected in the window was a skunk's tail. That's not supposed to be an insult. Skunks have beautiful tails." - Merrie

"The question is not what my breakfast can do for you, but what you can do for my breakfast"

"What do you feel you can bring to my breakfast?"

- me and Mer, respectively

"Becky, your eyes match the wainscoting" - Andrew

Sunday, December 21, 2008

elk -- kind of like reindeer, but the females don't have antlers

It's snowing like hell. We no longer leave the house.

This morning we saw an elk herd trapped in the orchard that borders our house -- the owner built a fence to keep them *out*, but now that they've managed to get *in,* it's proving difficult to remove them. Even though all the gates are open. Mer and I trudged up, waded through the snow and cold, to check, and yes, the gate nearest the woods was open, and yes, the elk went right past it. Apparently having eyes on either side of your head fucks with your depth perception, and means you don't see open gates. Or, for that matter, people standing right in front of you -- Mer and I watched an elk cow approach us at a trot, till at about 25 feet, she suddenly recognized us as *not trees.* Now they're hanging out in the middle, stripping the little cherry trees.

Anyway, this is the local drama. Because someone shot one of the exhausted, trapped elk earlier, without the owner's permission, and possibly without an elk tag. Someone else called it in, but probably nothing will happen. So it goes.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Best part of Thom Hartmann on Olbermann, as transcribed on Crooks & Liars:

Hartmann: David what he needs to do immediately is read Alexander Hamilton's 1791 report to Congress on manufactures. Hamilton laid out this six step plan to build an industrial economy in the United States and we followed it. We, Congress actually put into place in 1792 and it stood until Ronald Reagan came along and started deconstructing this, followed by George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton and George Bush now and the legislatures, mostly pushed by the Republicans taking this thing apart. You could argue some of this started with Taft-Hartley. But basically the founders laid this thing out. They had it figured out and it worked. We built the biggest industrial infrastructure and industrial economy in the world.

We have gone, when Reagan came into office we were the largest exporter of manufactured goods and the largest importer of raw materials on the planet. And the largest creditor. More people owed us money than anybody else in the world. Now just twenty eight years later we're the largest importer of finished goods, manufactured goods, exporter of raw materials which is kind of the definition of a third world nation and we're the most in debt of any country in the world. This is the absolute consequence of Reaganomics.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Where have I BEEN?

The studio in the Haight is DARLING. 1920s apartment building, wood floors, bay windows, separate kitchen with old school ironing board cupboard... I wish it were mine. Karl is subletting it to me for two weeks. And not only is he from Oregon, but he also lived on Harvard St. for a while. A little like things aligned and the mechanism could be overheard. We had a good chat about yoga props, beta fish and reverse evolution, Oregon sports... can't wait. After seeing the place, I met up with Jill for dinner and then made my way back home.

The N-Judah is confusing. On my way toward the Haight, I was perplexed by the three DIFFERENT munis that wouldn't let anyone on, and which this older woman, who was also waiting, signaled were not the one we were waiting for. And on the way back, at Duboce and Church, I ASSUMED that the ramp was the boarding area. Until the conductor came out and told me I was on the wheelchair loading ramp. And that the place to wait was up the street, where, by the by, THERE WAS NO SIGN INDICATING THIS FACT, although this information explained all the hipsters in skinny jeans standing in the middle of the road (NOT EXAGGERATING: MIDDLE OF THE ROAD). I missed the ingoing muni by like one minute, and then had a 45 minute wait at the caltrain station --> grand total of 3 hours to get home.

The weekend was good: Met up with Julia & her boyfriend for dinner at Millennium (yum!). They make some mean beets. I was inspired to buy some over the weekend. It was like Christmas but without the extreme cold: fake snow was falling to a Christmas choir downtown.

This week it's been back to work... In good news, Coupa opened on campus and it makes my life much better. [Because I was able to have a goat cheese arepa for dinner tonight.] Had the prospectus workshop yesterday (and an evening break: seeing Lauren off), and today I met with Denise. Who said she was "pleased" and that the draft is shaping up into an "acceptable" prospectus that people will be interested in. I agreed that the process worked for me, and that the panic stage is over. And then she recommended reading that I'm enjoying.

A bit from said reading, quoting Herder:

"all passions of man's breast are wild drives of a force which does not know itself yet, but which, in accordance with its nature, can only conspire toward a better order of things."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

the good and the messy

Strange times: In two weeks, I'm out of this cottage where I've been renting a room. I'll be in Oregon for at least three weeks over the holidays (have yet to book a plane ticket back to CA: maybe will take the train?). And then I'll probably be here in CA till the end of January in a studio in the Haight (sublet: I'm checking it out tomorrow... kind of an adventure to take a bus somewhere new). And then, I guess, Wisconsin? And a dissertation chapter on Dickens?

Anyways, that was all to set up the fact that, regarding the messiness of life, I love this from Forster's Life of Dickens:

A longer time afterward he recollected the stage-coach journey, and in one of his published papers said that never had he forgotten, through all the intervening years, the smell of the damp straw in which he was packed and forwarded, like game, carriage paid. "There was no other inside passenger, and I consumed my sandwiches in solitude and dreariness, and it rained hard all the way, and I thought life sloppier than I expected to find it." (11)

Sloppier than I expected.

But: I went on the Target/Trader Joe's trip tonight and bought a box of chocolates that was on sale. And I was estimating the number of chocolates left, vs. the number I had eaten, and thinking, no, I shouldn't, when I realized that the box contains ANOTHER LEVEL of chocolate. Paradigm changer, my friends.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

on formatting

Married To The Sea

so I was just compiling a bibliography...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

so noisy at the whofo

I made the mistake of going to Whole Foods on this, the day before the day before Thanksgiving. Courtesy is no longer even a half hearted pretense. So many women (it does seem that women still disproportionately do the grocery shopping, doesn't it?) with baby carriages, carts, purses -- blocking the bulk foods section, comparing prices (altho. not as much of that here in Palo Alto), quieting children... and someone had the brilliant idea of putting out HOT apple cider with flimsy little cups. Brilliant way to burn your fingers.

Anyway, I escaped with my shampoo and mandarin oranges and easy lunch foods. And a vanilla bean (five dollars my friends: for some reason, they carry ONLY organic vanilla beans, and you get ONE per superfluous packaging). And star anise. So that I can make *this* for Thanksgiving at Jodie and Dan's:

In case that doesn't work out, I did buy some green beans...

Friday, November 14, 2008

so much cuter in french

Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo.

if I have a baby and show her cartoons in french, what are the chances she'll become fluent? and entertain me with crazy animal fables?

Monday, November 10, 2008

today in google books

My random subject category is "Alcoholics Fiction," featuring, Death Will Get You Sober.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

the problem with google book recommendations when you're using it to read obscure 19th century self-help texts

Horse-shoeing as it is and as it Should be. By William Douglas. 1873.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Why did I ever waste my time on the Palo Alto Baking Company's chocolate croissants, when Boulangerie Bay Bread exists, and when they sell their delicate, buttery croissants at the same farmers' market?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

rainy season

Today was the first honest to God full day of rain. In the past couple of weeks, there was a morning or two when it was hard to tell whether the pavements were wet from sprinklers or from rain that conveniently fell overnight. But today was earnest rain. At first I tried to embrace it, got lunch on CA Ave. with umbrella in tow and flip flops (because I figured, skin dries faster than shoes), listened to Garbage on the way home. But it was less fun walking to the dept. in the rain. Although sitting in the terrace room, watching the rain, was a nice distraction from reading about self-improvement in the 19th century.

I'm ready for tomorrow's "mostly cloudy" with only a 20% chance of rain.

Also, last night I dressed up for the first time in years. Baby from Dirty Dancing. For MHC's sake. But my favorite costumes were definitely Emilie and Randy's violent-death zombies. After, we tried to visit the Stanford mausoleum, risking the ankle-threatening holes scattered throughout the brush, remembering that this is ALWAYS how horror movies start out (hey, let's go to the GRAVEYARD on HALLOWEEN), but turned back upon seeing campus security staked out at 1 am.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Thursday, October 23, 2008


Finally found this Sedaris quote on Dooce that Andrew told me about:

I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.


By NO measurement is Sarah Palin and her family working class.

And how the fuck does one even spend 150,000$ on clothes?!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

this one goes out to the one I love...

5 years (and also on a Sunday!) since I met up with you at The Thirsty Mind.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

red in tooth and claw

Today started off frantic.

I woke up at 8:30, dragged myself out of bed, checked my email -- realized I had a meeting on campus at 9 am. Which meant prioritizing what I REALLY NEEDED TO DO: shower minus the hair, no breakfast, bike like hell.

After, I was sitting in the terrace room brooding over my notes before meeting with Franco. And this freaking BIRD FIGHT breaks out on the terrace. At first I thought it was a pigeon tussling with another pigeon. Oh no, my friends, nothing so innocent. So I opened the door to scare off the bird of prey, but it was clear the pigeon was no longer flight worthy -- flopping, limping into a corner, a wound in his back. I consulted Randy, who thought the culprit might be a kestrel (or a peregrine falcon? harrier? hard to say, even though we had a good view of him hanging out, waiting to swoop back in), and that the most humane thing to do at this point would be to let the bird of prey take its course. So I decided to work in the briggs room.

Back inside the dept: it looks like my dissertation is back on track for upstart figures. But in a more specific way. Franco says, a balance between my interests and his need for it to be a feasible project. Have at least a first Dickens chapter, and will need to write my way into successive arguments. GOOD NEWS: I get to read Felix Holt and Howard's End!

Tomorrow I need to get back to dissertation abstract work...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the need for narrative

So I bought this chocolate at Target, and the insert, with (not so) helpful pictures and descriptions, is for the wrong collection. So all I have to go on, is that the box contains: "sparkling pomegranate currant, golden Jamaican-spiced caramel, sunny tangerine coconut, sweetly floral almond jasmine, sensuous hazelnut orange, subtly spiced ginger pear." WHICH IS AMAZING. But the problem is, I don't know which is which. And turns out, it's REALLY F-ING HARD TO IDENTIFY THESE THINGS WHEN ENCASED IN CHOCOLATE. What would be a mind blowing experience, in which I realized, IT TASTES EXACTLY LIKE SUBTLY SPICED GINGER PEAR, is now COMPLETELY BEFUDDLING.

I just want to know what the narrative is, so I know how to taste it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

desultory thinker

The weekend means little these days. Except for the welcome party on Friday -- Long, who's dj-ed in the past, turned it into a dance party. Any English function that turns into dancing to Billie Jean is a success in my opinion.

My work this weekend has been: brainstorming around five or six different ideas toward a dissertation. It was back to the drawing board after my meeting with Franco last week, and so I've returned to some ideas I had initially passed over. What I'm learning in all this: I'm a slow, distracted, desultory thinker. I can riff off a close reading for any number of pages, but sitting down to think about terms/ideas in the abstract, creating a framework, is a different problem. I tend to have spurts of productivity, followed by complete boredom with whatever I'm looking at, followed by a random spark of an idea, which, after writing down, I decide is good enough to be the END POINT OF WORK FOR THE DAY, TIME TO CHECK POLITICAL BLOGS (It's never good enough to quit for the day.)

And then to take a break, I read Nancy Armstrong. Whose book, How Novels Think, is SO MUCH BROADER THAN MY UPSTART PROJECT WOULD HAVE BEEN. I guess this is what you get to do, after you've done the build up work. For now, I'm to narrow, narrow, narrow.

And to take a break from that, I plug along in my data entry "research" position.

And to take a break from this routine, I took a jaunt to Target (CHOCOLATE), and this morning, visited the farmers' market. Where I bought carrots, parsnips, potatoes, chard, and an onion, with which to make this winter soup recipe I found inspiring on The Wednesday Chef. And I bought a chocolate croissant: deliciousness. Made me miss Switzerland.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

kings of leon -- sex on fire

It was a day in which I gave up on my illusions of progress.

But at least this song is incredible.

Monday, October 06, 2008

sometimes, you just know dickens was having an inspired day

"The staircase was sacred to rabbits." -- Martin Chuzzlewit

Sunday, October 05, 2008

positive reinforcement

After agonizing over an email (in this case, emailing Alex with paragraphs on *why* this topic), I reward myself with food.

Friday, October 03, 2008

evidence that we are living in the end times

too familiar

I'm finding it uncanny to read A Christmas Carol and HEAR Scrooge McDuck delivering the dialogue.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

a day that kept looking up

I think I had a good day.

I got to campus before 11 am -- reviewed and compiled some notes in Google docs, which is a brilliant application; had lunch while catching up with Lupe and Whitney; went to yoga; had a meeting with profs, administrative assistants, and a statistics person to talk about a research project I'm going to do data crunching for (yay, a project with FINITE GOALS!); prepped for my meeting with Alex, which was supposed to be my yogurt snack time, but SOMEONE STOLE MY ORGANIC LEMON YOGURT; met with Alex, who gave me more finite projects (why upward mobility figures... more books that might help with thinking...); went to the 18th century group, where someone was presenting his quantitative research on the concept of human rights; ended up going to dinner, where I was able to talk to Denise. Really, rather a good day.

This might be a trend -- I also had a good weekend. Friday I met some of the first years over the debate and mediterranean wraps. Saturday I went to Jill's in the city, where we went buffalo exchanging. We had a lovely dinner after picking up essentials at the local organic grocery -- like the old days, we made vegetarian sushi. Lupe dropped by for dessert. Then Jill and I caught a bus to Hayes Valley, to meet up with Garth at this restaurant aptly named absinthe. Where we were very tempted by dessert, and had some seriously hedonist moments over a fig tart with fennel ice cream, and roasted peach sorbet.

Sunday Jill and I went to brunch at Herbivore, checked out the farmers' market, and headed back to suburbia.

And... I think I'm finally feeling settled. I'm going to do a formalist project on mobility.

Monday, September 22, 2008

british history, a - h

So I'm skimming through a 1000 page Oxford Companion to British History in the Lane Reading Room (because it's non-circulating), looking for 19th century entries to read, as Jessica W. recommended brushing up on the historical context of my period at this point in the process.

Some highlights:

Under "dueling":
"A ludicrous duel, averted in 1782 by the intervention of the Speaker, was between Lord North, notoriously short-sighted, and Colonel Barre, who had only one eye."

Under "Henry Mayers Hyndman":
"H. was converted to Marxism by reading Das Kapital on board an Atlantic steamer on a business trip...He also apparently alienated working people by his extremism, and his habit of quoting from Virgil in Latin... He is probably the only western Marxist leader ever to have played county cricket for Sussex, but that was before he saw the light."

andrew visits cambridge

Andrew: exactly
are you familiar with "punting" on the cam river
ahem, "the river cam"
i did notice, while walking on a small path next to a big open field,
what looked like wild raspberries and blackberries

me: cool =)
I'm surprised at raspberries, but blackberries it's definitely still
the season in a not too-hot climate

Andrew: ah, maybe they were just unripe ones
b/c they were growing on the same plant

me: oh honey
those are definitely blackberries then =)

Andrew: :-D
hey they could be some sorta weird old school hybrid

Saturday, September 20, 2008

it would be so much easier to be a cat

because this is probably the biggest problem that I would ever confront.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

from harvard street

The trip back to CA was smooth. I LOVE ALASKA AIRLINES. Why can't other airlines be like them? Not only do they have a higher concentration of funny/interesting flight attendants, but they STILL GIVE YOU SNACKS. GOOD SNACKS, made with unbleached flour and no trans fats and EVOO. And FREE BEER AND WINE. With freaking *refills.* Do they even do that in Europe anymore? And we made an almost imperceptible landing precisely one minute before scheduled arrival. Compare that to: American Airlines from Madison to PDX, which charged me $15 for my one checked bag. And changed the departure gate in O'Hare, which, I can tell you, means a whole lot of walking with heavy bags. United, from CA to Wisconsin, which wouldn't give me tea, TEA, as my beverage. Do they know how cheap tea is?! So it was amazing to drink complimentary red wine in an airplane while the entire U.S. economy is collapsing.

I'm settling in -- my first day was spent walking to Country Sun and Mollie Stone's for supplies, retrieving book & towel from my locker, unpacking, and finishing my "essentials" shopping at Whole Foods. It's interesting trying to construct a pantry with the limitations that 1) you must be able to carry everything, for up to a thirty minute walk, 2) you can eat it all before you move, and 3) you can prep it in a kitchen you're not yet familiar with. Which for me, boiled down to: a pound of spinach for salads, two salad dressings, tomatoes, one beet, assorted olives, apples, granola bars, oatmeal, brie, bread, plain yogurt, peanut butter, FIGS (because it's CA), and ice cream bars. Although that whole comfort food thing really doesn't work out for me. The last thing I feel like doing when I'm sadly disoriented and somewhat lonely (hey, even in the studios, at least everyone was being alone TOGETHER) is eating. Which is unfortunate, because then there's one fewer thing to distract me. Also unfortunate, is the internet connection here. And the fact that cable doesn't include Comedy central.

But, I did review a quarter of my orals notes, and I think I'm now going to break for Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Bronte, because all the sisterly bonding and resignation to work kind of fits my mood right now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

lapine adventure

Last Saturday we (ie, Mum, Tim, & I) embarked on the great LaPine adventure. We drove south-easterly, lunched at Smith Rock, consulted with Mer, who decided to leave a day early, set up camp, fed the golden mantled ground squirrels (think: larger, more aggressive, & pudgier version of the chipmunk), and waited for Mer.

Here's one golden mantled jumping out of the frame after grabbing a piece of cinnamon bread, which claims, on the side of the bag, to be "a good source of deliciousness" -- not calcium, iron, or whole grains, but DELICIOUSNESS:

Mer arrived, but her grand plan of showing up just in time for dinner was thwarted. Unfortunately, our cooler was too effective, so we had to defrost elk hamburger (ie, cut it up into chunks on a plate and wait) before we could make dinner -- ate around the campfire, drank beer, made s'mores... the usual. Mer and I slept in the tent. I had a down comforter and wool blanket, and both of us had not so comfy sleeping mats (in other words: an ancient backpacking mat, and, poor Mer, a woven rug). Don't ask me why I didn't have the COLD WEATHER LIGHT WEIGHT REI SLEEPING BAG I BOUGHT LAST SUMMER. ASK THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE.

Anyways, long story short, it was like 34 degrees that night. At one point I woke up and would have gone to the bathroom, BUT IT WAS 34 DEGREES. Later, I woke up freezing. And in the morning, it took a great deal of will power to emerge from the blankets. After realizing that Mer had been cold too, we kind of felt stupid for not combining our powers and making one big bundle out of our coats and blankets.

But all was well, because the next two nights would be spent in a spiffy cabin.

Mer and I participated in the group lunch, but left Mum & Tim to their own devices, touring the lava caves, as Mer wanted a new swimsuit. And apparently, when you live in Lakeview, that's difficult to make happen. So we drove up to Bend's Target, and got not only a teeny tiny green polka dot bikini, but matching dresses and leggings (although: in different colors). We got back in time to go floating in the Deschutes River.

Mer catches a crayfish. She's been doing this sort of thing for as long as I've known her:

Floating on:

Hung out at the cabin. And took over dinner preparations: makin' chili. Friday I had done ridiculous food prep: I picked a gallon of blackberries, and baked cornbread, biscuits, and chocolate chip cookies. So I took the aluminum foil off the cornbread for dinner, and it became clear that SOMEHOW, the aluminum foil had been LEACHING INTO THE BREAD. It was literally speckled. Well, knowing that aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer's, I had to sacrifice the top half of it. SAFEWAY BRAND ALUMINUM FOIL: makes pretty designs on your baked goods.

Cookin' dinner:

One more technical difficulty, in the form of Netflix sending us a scratched up copy of Blazing Saddles, which I now have STILL NOT SEEN. Mer's dvd collection saved us: I was tempted by the my little pony movie, but we watched About a Boy instead (which we first saw while house sitting together years ago, and loved the music).

The next day we headed up to Paulina Lake -- Mer and I did part of the around the lake hike, which had some beautiful views... the water looked pristine and blue-green. But once we hit the exposed section of the lake, we headed back to the wooded area to wade and hang out. Then we scouted out the lodge... floated in East Lake... drove up the precarious road to the top of Paulina Peak (my favorite part was the lack of guard rails along the deeply washboarded gravel road).

From the peak:

After, we met up with Mom and Tim for dinner at Gordy's restaurant, which is kind of a glorified truck stop. But in LaPine, it was that, Dairy Queen, or the pizza place.

Sad to leave! Especially as I just had to pack everything to head to CA tonight... which kind of scares me, because I need to write a dissertation proposal this quarter, and I'll have to make a final decision about what direction to take. Also: Mt Hood is on fire. The smoke is worse today, much more of it, and spreading. Last night I could see the red of the fire and the reflection on the smoke.

On the river:

in the hood

Before I forget what I did last week:

Monday: Hung out at Laurance Lake.

Tuesday: lunch with Grammy at Twin Peaks. Followed by an afternoon visiting Dad -- walked the Indian Creek Trail, explored our favorite used book store, etc.

Weds: Brunch with Dad at Acre, followed by hiking with Mum. We finally made it up to Cloud Cap, where we hiked from Tilly Jane, STRAIGHT UP HILL for what they claimed was one mile, but what I believe was more like two miles, until we intercepted the Timberline around the mountain trail (where we saw marmots), and then back down to the Crag Rat lodge, where we met up with the people restoring it (one of whom was Joel, who I was surprised to see, since we went to school together from 1st-12th grade).

Thurs & Fri.: prep. to leave for LaPine, because it always takes as much time to prepare to go camping, as one is actually out camping.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

the littlest meow

ohmygod CUTE.

Monday, September 08, 2008

new (to me) music

Santogold: L.E.S. Artistes

Sunday, September 07, 2008

all the favorite places

Still my favorite stretch of ditch trail -- about a quarter of a mile from home, and right before "the pipes" (old cattle guard).

Thursday: Hiking in the big backyard, up the old logging trail.

Friday: Black lake, Rainy Lake, and, after a hike, North Lake. We found tons of huckleberries -- I was glad I didn't miss the season. And got home so late we ended up eating down the highway at the Sawtooth Roadhouse. Aptly named, as it's near an old mill.

Saturday: Rendezvoused with the Elams up at Lost Lake! Megan and I managed to go swimming. We persuaded Mum to play a round of Cranium with us, and we realized how hard it is to guess humdingers (even when Megan did a pretty accurate rendition of Brick House). On our team, we somehow correctly fielded a question about George Washington Carver (peanuts! cotton!) and Eames originals (furniture!). Patrick taught us how to make s'mores even BETTER by pre-melting chocolate over the fire. Nothing like catching up with friends around a campfire.

Today: Went hiking with Mum up Lookout Mountain. At the top, we ran into a couple with this AMAZING dog. He was everything that could make me break down and become a dog person: white fluffiness with tan spots, floppy ears, huggable, not too big, not smelly, not drooly, way friendly, and did I mention the FURRINESS. Unfortunately he was a mutt, so we have no idea how to find another quite like him.

Before heading back down the highway, we checked out Teacup Lake (really: scuzzy pond) to scope out the huckleberry situation. Which wasn't happening -- we found ourselves trampling through brush to get one or two elusive, tiny berries. Huckleberries, my friends, are TINY. And it sucks when someone beats you to the picking grounds. But you know what WAS happening at the scuzzy pond at dusk? MOSQUITOES. I have a long standing hatred of mosquitoes. Not just the usual, yeah, they're ick. But truly, hatred. I think because, having dermographism, my skin freaks out whenever it's scratched, and gets even ITCHIER, and then mosquito bites go from irritation to CAN I JUST SCRATCH MY SKIN OFF HERE WHERE IT ITCHES?! I think that experience kind of gives you hatred, which you direct to the obvious culprit, MOSQUITOES. So I doused myself in some DEET lotion that Mer left in her room (sorry Mer, I'm borrowing it, I promise not to use it up, and I'll give you my zebra striped dress next week). Somehow, despite wearing jeans, a hoodie, and high concentration bug repellent, THE MOSQUITOES STILL FOLLOWED ME. I think I killed more mosquitoes than I picked huckleberries.

Luckily, dinner was waiting for us at home. Buffalo roast! Truly, roast beast. I love it: it's like getting to eat beef again, only not. And I made biscuits and Mom coached me through making gravy.

Somehow all my posts end up being about food.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

"...and you, governor, are no hillary clinton"

Gloria Steinem makes me happy:

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.

...Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."

...She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she's won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain's campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn't know it's about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate's views on "God, guns and gays" ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency...

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn't just echo McCain's pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.

Also making me happy: The AP does some fact checking for Sarah Palin. Because I was wondering how the media was letting her get away with stretching the truth into downright lies last night... a speech full of negativity, lies, and no plan for change.

Sybil Vane of Bitch PhD analyzes Palin's (or should I say McCain's?) rhetoric. And asks the sort of questions I would want to ask if I found myself grading this speech as a work of persuasive argumentation:

"I guess -- I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities."

Nasty. The much-lauded grass roots voters, those who are most "energized" by the VP pick, are community organizers. Martin Luther KIng Jr was a community organizer. If state-sponsored service is the only service that counts, say so plainly.

"As for my running mate, you can be certain that wherever he goes and whoever is listening John McCain is the same man."

Dicey. Take, for example: John McCain has in this last week noted (rightly) that candidate's families are not appropriate subjects of political discourse, and yet famously made jokes about Chelsea Clinton's ugliness. One doubts he made such jokes when HRC was listening.

"We suspended the state fuel tax and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress, "Thanks, but no thanks," on that Bridge to Nowhere."

Insufficient evidence. Hired lobbyist secured $27 million in earmarks during tenure as Mayor. Bridge to Nowhere was supported before rejected, the latter happening once it became nationally unpopular and emblematic of earmarking.

"But the fact that drilling, though, won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all."

True. And yet - is anyone advocating doing nothing at all? Please support this implication.

"Al Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights."

Rudy's line. Also, nasty. Also demonstrative of gross misunderstanding of international law. Being opposed to torture is only shamefully equated with "worrying" about Miranda rights.

"And let me be specific: The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, and raise payroll taxes, and raise investment income taxes, and raise the death tax, and raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

Inaccurate. Non-partisan Tax Policy Center provides accurate info re: comparative tax plans.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Day 1 in Oregon: walking along the ditch to the blackberry patch, conveniently hidden behind some brush. No one else seems to have discovered it... and luckily the first wave was ripe.

The take:

Then some reading on the porch. Caught up with Mum in the garden, picked more produce (green beans!):

After dinner, Mom and I watched a bit of the RNC... which I was having trouble distinguishing from the Daily Show. Service, POW, lower taxes (for the top 1%), POW, rinse, repeat.

And I made blackberry cobbler. Completing the life cycle of the blackberry.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

partisan tax narratives: readjustment

Crooks and Liars sets CNN straight on tax plans under McCain and Obama. Obama is better on taxes for all voters making under $110,000 -- yet people continue to pass along the meme that Republicans = lower taxes. Well, at least for the top 1%. This is a totally handy graph.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

roly poly cat

There's also an awesome video -- a woman with a midwestern accent describing Katya as "round" three times in under a minute and a half.

Friday, August 22, 2008

how many trips to target does it take...

So the Madison apartment is *almost* set up. Except for the boxes that are still in the mail. This process would have been less draining if we hadn't just moved out of my studio at Stanford and deep-cleaned the hell out of it. Even though we did have one night out at a French restaurant in Menlo Park as a reward after the keys were returned.

We flew into Madison late Monday, and were met by Andrew's dad. Luckily he had a hotel we could stay at the first two nights, as the apartment wasn't really ready for us.

Day 1: Got to the apartment early to meet the movers, who somehow *forgot* Andrew's couch. I saw the apartment for the first time, and was way impressed by the living room and dining room's wood floors, bay windows, and French doors. I was underwhelmed by the bathroom (tiny, with peeling wallpaper; worn out enamel and rusted surfaces in the bathtub, sink, and toilet seat) and the kitchen (icky beige square linoleum, appliances at least as old as I am). And if you need aversion therapy, have we got the creepy basement for you! Old cobwebs, piles of plaster, dark corners, mysterious cords and cables that serve no discernable purpose, a staircase that seems to be holding up by the power of habit alone... However, both of the neighbors have amazing cats.

Anyways, after a bit of cleaning (behind the fridge: disgusting), we took a much needed lunch break at Monty's. Then the shopping began. Home Depot, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond... that night we got more cleaning done while Andrew spent like two hours installing a light over the kitchen sink. The bathroom began to be redeemed by a new toilet seat and the BEST THING THAT TARGET SELLS: a shower curtain with brown curly cues and blue birds. Around which the entire bathroom is now based. (Andrew says not to look up while showering, as the peeling wallpaper doesn't inspire confidence, but since I don't have my contacts installed when I shower, I just enjoy the shower curtain in blissful ignorance.)

Another much needed meal: The Weary Traveler, one of my favorites, which we are only two blocks away from.

Day 2: Again, got to the apartment early, this time to meet the cable person. And to pay for the dining table and chairs that we had scouted out at St. Vincent's (hereafter, St. Vinnie's) the evening before. At which time I also discovered an old wooden dresser that I thought would *maybe* be an improvement over Andrew's Ikea-ware. We took a break downtown for lunch at the Marigold Cafe. And then we launched into what had to be the most visits to Wal-marts and Targets in one day, ever. We unexpectedly found nice curtains at Wal-mart for the living room (sage herringbone). But the East town Wal-mart had only four panels, and we needed six for the three windows in the living room. The Wal-mart infrastructure was too shoddy for us to call up and check availability/ locations, so we then went to the next nearest Wal-mart in south town, where they had one more panel. Which meant ANOTHER Wal-mart, on the west side, where they had like four. SUCCESS. Meanwhile, we were also scouting down yellow linen curtains for the dining room, of which I only wanted one panel per window (three windows, again). This time, though, we were able to reserve a curtain at another Target, this one in Fitchburg. At some point we had a fast food dinner break at Chili's. I also found a great '50s-esque low yellow armchair at a Goodwill for 15$. Which goes in the study, with my old curtains, and a great scratched up bookcase from St Vinnie's.

That night I was determined to stay at the apartment and get some work done. We stayed up till 1:30 am: Andrew put together a wire kitchen pantry (since there isn't a ton of cupboard or counter space). I had earlier started cleaning/lining shelves, which I think I finished at this point. My greatest achievements, however, were getting all the old dusty white curtains down, and replacing them with our new ones. And cleaning out the disgusting window sills. And cutting/hanging a shower curtain over the window in the shower.

Day 3: After a quick breakfast at Lazy Jane's, we loaded up the community car truck with the furniture from St. Vinnie's (dining set & dresser for like 120$). Then it was back to Wal-mart & Target for returns and exchanges (blue curtains that didn't work out in the kitchen). And Woodman's for a stock up food trip.

Andrew's dad was very ready to go at this point, and we continued to work at our pace. We had the kitchen up and ready for our first dinner in the apartment. Most of the kitchen stuff was in the cupboards (cleaned and lined by myself), and after a thorough wiping down of the countertops, I felt relatively at home preparing food. Which turned out to be sandwiches (Andrew's, turkey & spinach/tomato/banana peppers, mine with cheese curds) and spinach/asparagus salad.

That night we got through most of the bedroom stuff that needed to be put away. Andrew has A LOT OF CLOTHES. We have the new dresser, and a walk-in closet in the bedroom with a sloped ceiling...with the old Ikea dresser for "sentimental" and/or out of season clothes. EVERYTHING IS FULL. And the only clothing of mine right now is what was in my suitcase, and a few packed things. I went through Andrew's clothes, and asked the key questions: do you like this? have you worn it in the last two years? do you plan to wear it? Too many of the answers were negative.

Since then we've taken it a little easier... although, again: cable guy yesterday morning because nothing was working...More unpacking of boxes, as everything shipped via Fedex came. We integrated some of the stuff from my apartment. Made the bedroom prettier. Got most of the study set up. Got the boxes down the narrow scary staircase into the creepy basement. Watched the neighbor cat catch a cicada in the backyard. Took a run to drop off stuff at St. Vinnie's, get another curtain rod at the hardware store, re-caffeinate at Mother Fool's (best local coffee shop), and pick stuff up at the co-op. All of which are, awesomely, within like five or six blocks of the apartment.

The best room, I think, is the dining room (as seen from the living room, facing the kitchen):

Here's the living room, with me starting The House of Mirth:

hint to blogger

If you suddenly get to the backlog of youtube posts that never posted, DON'T ALLOW THEM THROUGH DURING THE ONLY THREE DAYS I DON'T HAVE INTERNET ACCESS. Jesus.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

fightin' words

Just saw this at Crooks and Liars -- The Boston Globe tallies the most-used words on the respective candidates' sites:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

mccain on reproduction

He's not very progressive. From The New Republic:

McCain's maverick reputation and his calculated political meanderings on choice add up to one thing: The public thinks McCain just might be a moderate on abortion.

The fact that he's not could matter a great deal in the election. According to one poll, about half of all women voters backing McCain said they were pro-choice, including 36 percent who say they strongly support Roe. More importantly, these women voters think that McCain might agree with them on abortion. The same research found that "more than seven in ten pro-choice McCain supporters ... have yet to learn that McCain's position on abortion is directly at odds with their own." And the issue is not that they don't care. One June poll found that, when Democratic women voters in twelve battleground states learned McCain's position on abortion, Obama gained twelve points among them...

When pressed to speak about them, he often evinces stunning ignorance, a fact that helps reassure the moderate middle that he could not possibly be as conservative as his record suggests. In early July, for example, a reporter raised the issue of whether it was "unfair" that insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. His response was painful to watch: "I certainly do not want to discuss that issue," he said immediately. She then asked about his votes against legislation requiring insurance plans to cover prescription birth control, legislation the anti-contraception right strongly opposed. He rubbed his mouth, rolled his eyes, flexed his fingers, crossed his arms, and more, before admitting, "I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer." Finally, he told the reporter that he did not recall how he voted. "It's something that I had not thought much about," he added.

At another press conference, when a journalist asked him whether he thought contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV, he paused--for much too long--then answered, "You've stumped me." The reporter asked whether U.S. taxpayer money should fund contraception to prevent aids in Africa. "I'm not very wise on it," McCain said. What about grants for sex education? A long pause, then, "Ahhh. I think I support the president's policy." And, when the reporter pressed again, he finally said (after a reported twelve-second pause), "I've never gotten into these issues before"--an odd statement, given that he has voted on legislation related to all of them...

But, as on abortion, both data and anecdote show there is little latitude in his positions. He has voted to end the Title X family-planning program, which pays for everything from birth control to breast cancer screenings and which is a target for the right because the recipients of these dollars also tend to be clinics that offer contraception to unwed and underage women and that offer abortions. He has backed largely discredited abstinence-only education, voting in 1996 to take $75 million from the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant to establish such a program; ten years later, he voted against teen-pregnancy prevention programs. He has supported parental notification laws governing not only abortion but contraception for teens, and, though he didn't want to talk to the press about it, he's voted against requiring insurance companies to cover birth control. In international family affairs, McCain has voted not only in favor of the global gag rule, but also to defund the United Nations group that provides family-planning services (not abortions) for poor women, and to spend a third of overseas HIV/AIDS prevention funds on abstinence education.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

very true

Because for some reason we can say we want lighter periods, but not more worry-free sex?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

beach bumming

Pictures from the beach -- at Big Sur, where land previously shut down by forest fires has just been reopened... and where the beach was too pretty to miss, even though it meant no hiking. And from Pescadero, where we DID go hiking at Butano State Park, & explored another mostly deserted (but foggy) beach.

Friday, August 08, 2008

on the rapture

I'm kind of intrigued by apocalyptic visions, especially as they keep, you know, NOT COMING TRUE. Amanda at Pandagon had a great post linking the fear of death to the strangely persistent (and growing?) belief that the Rapture will happen 'in our time':

Apocalypse scenarios put that fear to rest, especially if the apocalypse comes in your lifetime. Consider that 55% of Americans believe in the Rapture, and then consider that pretty much all portrayals of when this will happen coming from religious leadership---from the Left Behind books to evangelical pews to the Christian Zionist movement---put it sometime next week. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but really, there’s a strong sense amongst believers that this will happen in their lifetime. The fantasy loses all appeal if it doesn’t happen in your lifetime, if you think about it, because the whole point of being Raptured is a) you don’t suffer a bodily death and b) history ends when you do, so you can’t be forgotten. Not all apocalypse fantasies are so simple-minded,** but pretty much all address this core fear that history will go on without you and you’ll be forgotten to the point where it’s like you never lived at all...

I do think that there’s a real danger in apocalyptic rhetoric coming from environmentalists on this issue, even if I’ve crossed that line myself in frustration. And it’s because of this theory I’ve outlined above that the apocalypse is a comforting idea. Fundamentalist Christians who believe in the End Times are trying to hustle them in, and if global warming gets stuck in that loop, a lot of people have no reason to lift a finger against it. Telling people what they want to hear---that history is going to end in their lifetimes---is not going to get them moving. I think the more realistic vision that humanity will move on, but we could be looking at a new Dark Age of a sort that’s probably hard to even predict, will be more effective...

Is there a sense that apocalyptic fantasizing is in a big upswing in our society? I say yes. The amazing growth spurt in belief in the End Times in our society is unmistakable, in fact. Why is this? I think it’s a reaction to modernity.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

all dickens all the time

Except for when it's Gaskell.

I'm back from Santa Cruz, after a week of intensive listening, reading, and bonding. It's crazy how close I felt to the group of fellow female Victorianists. One afternoon we cut an afternoon talk (which weren't really pitched at us anyways, but rather to the elderhostelers, who were often grumbly and grumpy, and resented reading Gaskell so much that they wanted tshirts that say, instead of "Dickens Universe," "I survived Gaskell nation") to swim at the pool. We took over two lanes and paddled around, and spotted other Dickens Universe participants, but decided we were sufficiently difficult to recognize in the pool. At some point, sitting in the sun, after seeing what everyone remembered of cartwheels and round-offs, we somehow got round to girl talk (the "wait, who do you like?" sort of thing), and I *seriously* felt like we were at summer camp.

The highlight was probably learning the Roger de Coverley dance with someone dressed in period as a Victorian captain as my partner, and being "bottom lady" to a "top gentleman" in a period suit. So now I better understand the dance that seems to be featured in every Austen movie adaptation ever made. But at some point I gave up -- particularly on the waltz -- and watched from the sidelines and caught up with Kenny.

Kind of sad to leave. Although I totally appreciate my bed and my shower (because it doesn't remind me of trying to wash soap off while standing under a drizzling cloud). And I'm totally ready to read something besides Hard Times.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

First full day of Dickens Universe

I feel like I'm at summer camp. When Andrew left, I had that same feeling that I used to get before Bible or 4-H camps -- that feeling like, shit, are you LEAVING ME HERE? (Although when I was in grade school that feeling never went away and I ended up calling Mum to tell her she NEEDED to come rescue me. Except one year, at 4-H camp, they knew how that plot would develop, and didn't let me use the phone.) I have a roommate. It's been a long time. I forgot how strange it is to hear someone you've just met, breathing at night. (Clearly, I didn't sleep well.) Even the smell of the bathrooms reminds me of the showers at Camp Morrow. Proust got memories from madeleines, I get them from bathroom cleaners and mildew.

UC Santa Cruz is another world. Deer wander around outside the windows of the dining hall. Strawberries are served with every meal. From the main classroom, we get a view of the redwoods. And in walking down the hill, you can see the ocean.

Today for my free afternoon, I went wandering alone in the woods. The trails were confusing... and I don't have the patience/ spatial reasoning skills for maps. So I left sticks in the shape of arrows, to mark where I'd been, a la Labyrinth. I was a little disconcerted when I came across one of my arrows before I had turned back -- must have taken a loop. But it was beautiful. I came across this fairy ring of redwoods -- someone had built a little fort in the middle.

I think it's going to be kind of a crazy busy week. I'm going to bed now (only 11:20!) so I can wake up early enough to grab breakfast before the morning session...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

regardez la lune

it's red and half full.

Friday, July 18, 2008

more sarah!

Sarah Haskins has been my hero since the analysis of yogurt commercials that target "that class of women that wears gray hoodies":

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I drink your wine

Back already but it feels like I've been gone longer.

Yesterday morning we headed to Microsoft (early!) and then waited around as they had padded the leave time by fifteen minutes TWICE. Apparently very little faith in interns showing up on time for a free trip to Napa.

I was surprised that our first stop was Andretti -- I've only been to three wineries in Napa before, and we're overlapping one? But all was happy because lunch included salad with dried cherries and wild Alaskan salmon and little raspberry cheesecake things.

Then we bused over to Artesa, which was very modern-artsy-fountains-and-we-were-built-in-the- 80s -using- lots-of-glass-INTO A HILL,and had AMAZING VIEWS (which would have been better minus the smoke). I guess when your family has been making wine since the 16th century and you like invented Cava, you can do that. Anyways, more wine, more barrels. Lots of cheese and crackers and fruit. Oh except here they play Gregorian chants for the barrels of wine. I found this ludicrous at first, but then when our guide told us that it's based on the old world philosophy that if you "bring beauty to the wine, the wine will bring beauty to you," I was kind of struck. Or it might have been the "bubbly" (they were very clear: they don't call it champagne because they have respect for a treaty the US didn't sign -- kind of like the Kyoto situation, but for champagne) kicking in.

Here's the beauty happening:

Lots of photos like this from Andrew -- rows and rows of barrels, shots down the rows of grape vines, multiplied wine glasses... I think he's interested in the mathematical sublime.

Then another bus ride, followed by strategically maneuvering to check into the hotel first so that I could take a spin in the pool before dinner. Because I only like to swim in deserted hotel pools, as no one's there to witness my version of the dog paddle and the frog.

Followed by dinner, hanging out at the foofy hotel's terrace with gas fire pits.

This morning another bus ride up to Sterling Vineyards, which is accessible via a sky tram thingy, and was my favorite for views (reminded me of Hood River Valley, but without Mt. Hood). The best part of this tour was trying the "cab sauv" from three different years... I liked the oldest one, which apparently means I like "earthy" more than "fruity." ALSO we asked about sulfites and the tour guide said that not adding sulfites makes for not so great wine that doesn't age well. Apparently sulfites in wine started with Pasteur (who, we learned at trivia night at the Rose and Crown bar, said wine was the most delicious and "hygienic" of beverages). So now THAT worry is cleared up.

At this point it was around noon, the group was chatty and tipsy, and we were deposited in the gift shop. In that situation, merlot chocolate sauce sounded like the perfect souvenir. Then back down the tram, and into the bus, with our boxed lunches (surprisingly good: but then anything with goat cheese, I'm sold). And... back to home.

lately, xkcd...


Cindy McCain: "In Arizona The Only Way To Get Around The State Is By Small Private Plane."

new favorite

Married To The Sea

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

mid week weekend

Taking off tomorrow for one night in Santa Rosa, in pursuit of the ability to differentiate between types of wine, and because it's compliments of Microsoft.

And here is a picture of a crepe that I meant to post long ago, documenting my new-found love for Nutella:

Monday, July 14, 2008

catching up

The noteworthy events of the ten (eek) past days:

- Andrew's father visited. Which meant lots of eating out, watching movies, and socializing. We spent fourth of July with friends of Andrew's dad -- including playing some version of kick ball (literally: kick the ball back and forth) and monopoly with a five and eight year old. Although at least we didn't sit at the kids' table for dinner.

- Interesting development of patchy insomnia. Including one night, and now, most mornings when the sky is just turning gray, and ending as the sun comes up.

- Still trying to go jogging, as it seems to help with the sleeping and staying sane.

- FINALLY DONE WITH BARNABY RUDGE. Not my favorite Dickens, but I'm willing to ignore that if I can find a reason to write about it. Now onto reviewing/reading before Dickens Universe.

- Tested the seating capacity of the studio on Friday, with a vegetarian sushi night.

- Went into the city on Saturday for another Shepherd play, Buried Child.

- Attended Hannah and Whitney's dinner party, which was amazing. I need a dining table. I'm so done with breakfast bars.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


It was kind of awesome. Ecological disaster, obsolete 80s toys, "stay the course" allusions, mac start up noises, and plants. [My one concern: what happened to everyone who couldn't afford the cruise space-ship?]

Pandagon reviews on politics/gender/fat politics in the film (many spoilers): by Auguste and by Amanda.

Monday, June 30, 2008

boot camp #3: the happy delivery

Around noon, boot camp was all sunshine and rainbows for about half an hour. Because Safeway brought us not only goldfish crackers, pretzels, and ritz snack mix, BUT ALSO CHEEZ ITS.

Friday, June 27, 2008

boot camp #2: the crisis

More lessons from boot camp. The following are MAJOR STUMBLING BLOCK CRISIS SITUATIONS to the dissertating grad student:


- There is no milk for the coffee today, only liquid Coffee-mate.

- WE NEED SALTY SNACKS. All these snacks are SWEET.

Things I have to look forward to when I have a dissertation of my own. If it's possible to get any crazier.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

music I have liked -- 80s theme

on fire

The entire state of California seems to be on fire. And I'm at boot camp. Where I have learned that I am not good at working from 9 to 5. I AM good at reading blogs and day dreaming. Right now I'm supposed to be reading about character. CLEARLY NOT HAPPENING.

All those poor cremated trees are clogging up the air. I hope I don't kill my lungs, but I really wanted to go jogging tonight.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

boot camp

Day 2 of dissertation boot camp. I think we set a record in pots of coffee consumed by twenty people in four hours. Strangely, boot camp has coincided with Andrew & I starting a jogging regiment. Today was the day off (walked instead of jogged), as we're sore and I needed to take a trip to the library. I forgot how much I enjoy it, after I switch over into aerobic and find the pace.

In other news: food I have made.

For Bridget and Nickie's wedding -- which was beautiful! -- the standby spinach/mint/balsamic vinegar/lime/peach/blueberry salad, and cantaloupe with mint:

For dessert over the weekend, because as we were heading back from Half Moon Bay (where I got some sunburns, including on my NECK, which looked ridiculous, but luckily Gap is trying to create consumer demand for counter-intuitive summer accessories, and I was able to find a light (in weight, not color) green scarf that has actually been useful since the Writing Center is COLD with the requisite office space air conditioning) we stopped at an organic farm stand that was selling BOXES of strawberries for five dollars:

Biscuits w/ rhubarb and strawberry compote, strawberries and figs, and over-priced "natural" whipped cream.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

nice dream

Finally done with The Novel and the Police. Now I can return to Barnaby Rudge, which, when James saw that I was reading it, he described as rather slow till the very end. So I have that to look forward to.

I couldn't follow DA Miller down every path, but sometimes it's hard not to be convinced by, well:

When I read Trollope, it is all I can do not to be bored. All I can do, because Trollope always seems a little bored himself...But boredom, as the example of pornography perhaps best illustrates, overtakes not what is intrinsically dull, but what is "interesting" to excess... When I read is all I can do to refuse my impending boredom: to convert it back into the anxiety that it is meant to bind, to insist on the shock that it is the attempt to meet and parry. (145)

Speaking of boredom -- very quiet here. I've been rediscovering Radiohead the past few days. I finished the latest Weeds DVD. Was going to pick up a DVD from the TA lounge, but when I found myself considering either Lady Chatterley's Lover or Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, I decided that maybe watching Jon Stewart online was a better plan.

And I miss Oregon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

'i'm an oil bug'

Even better than fireflies. E coli and yeast that literally crap oil.

He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls “renewable petroleum”. After that, he grins, “it’s a brave new world”.

Mr Pal is a senior director of LS9, one of several companies in or near Silicon Valley that have spurned traditional high-tech activities such as software and networking and embarked instead on an extraordinary race to make $140-a-barrel oil (£70) from Saudi Arabia obsolete. “All of us here – everyone in this company and in this industry, are aware of the urgency,” Mr Pal says.

adorno, able to leap between love and fascism in a single bound

I love this excerpt on the problem of time and morality...

Not only were all good things, as Nietzsche knew, once bad things: the gentlest, left to follow their own momentum, have a tendency to culminate in unimaginable brutality.

It would serve no purpose to try to point to a way out of this entanglement. Yet it is undoubtedly possible to name the fatal moment that brings the whole dialectic into play. It lies in the exclusive character of what comes first...But the desire to possess reflects time as a fear of losing, of the irrecoverable. Whatever is, is experienced in relation to its possible non-being... (79, Minima Moralia)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

the inverse relation between free time and productivity

I have so much time. Andrew left for a conference. I've exhausted all my procrastination venues (Merrie, WHY HAVEN'T YOU POSTED SINCE MONDAY? Are you graduating this weekend?). And it's not like reading D.A. Miller doesn't involve a certain degree of pleasure. And yet, I am getting no work done.

Friday, June 13, 2008

still no dissertation

This has been a strange week.

Had a lazy weekend. Andrew & I took a trip to Berkeley to see Rachel, Josh, and Joel (who's now toddling and LOVES DIRT). We met up at the Little Farm in Tilden park, which is built seemingly to a 75% scale, and yet is graced by full sized animals, including some very large white geese. And a forlorn turkey (it stared at the ground the entire time we were there). My favorite moment: Joel sitting entranced by a pasture without any animals, and Rachel deciding that she doesn't know what it means that Joel is more interested in grass than animals. Had lunch -- or in my case brunch, because I can't turn down challah french toast with clotted cream -- at a Jewish deli style place in Berkeley. Meaning that they have the food Andrew loves, but sustainably grown and, in theory, healthier.

As always happens when we go to Berkeley, we went to Buffalo Exchange and some used bookstores. I found TWO PAIRS OF JEANS. Again confirming that only used jeans fit me. And a visit to Berkeley Bowl.

Sunday we headed to the coast. I sat in the sun for a while and finally ended up wading... Andrew always thinks maybe this will be the time he can swim in the Pacific, and then decides the wet sand is too cold to step in. Problem with which coast you grew up on: I can't swim in the Atlantic without inadvertently swallowing sea water, and Andrew can't bear the cold Pacific. I don't know what hang ups you inherit if you grow up in the midwest.

Monday I had a cleaning frenzy. Tuesday was sad because Jill was moving out: we had one last picnic between the studios. Wednesday Andrew & I had a date night -- vegan Chinese take-out & American Psycho. Hadn't ever seen it before. It inspired: 1) a peel off face mask from The Body Shop and 2) a night of compiling 80s music playlists. A good movie, but it really wasn't nearly as bloody as I'd been led to expect.

Yesterday I met with Alex: at which time I learned that I still don't really have a finalized dissertation direction yet. I'm hoping that the Dissesrtation Boot Camp helps with that, as I signed up to monitor it, and part of my role is apparently setting a good example. Serving as a role model right now seems highly ironic.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

things I have learned from Nickie

watermelon + mint

Monday, June 09, 2008

Okkervil River

"Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe"

I love the entire album, but esp. this song.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

social coordinator

Andrew arrived a week ago, and I've kept us busy.

Last Thurs. was a night of sushi and Grey's Anatomy. Friday we had lunch at Nexus with Meredith, and then rested up for a night at the Nut House (followed by an inauguration of the TA Lounge). Saturday was a day of grocery shopping, a night of Belgian food and Brahms in the city. Sunday we had a triple date night at The Counter with Jill and Meredith and their SO's. Monday we had a lovely neighborhood hike at Russian Ridge, where we caught the tail end of the wildflower season; after, we had a sort of picnic dinner at Andronico's.

During the week I tried to balance our social and work obligations -- Andrew started at Microsoft, and I had the Writing Center, reading Sartor Resartus, reading for class, and providing graduate students with coffee and lunch. On the social end, we had tea with Sara, dinner with Dan (Andrew's CS comrade from Amherst), and dinner with Alex and Kaitlin (they introduced us to a great Turkish restaurant in Menlo Park). And last night we *finally* watched There Will Be Blood. Our response to the climactic final scene was complicated by our realization that the SNL milkshake skit really *was* cut straight from the film. We kind of couldn't stop laughing over "I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"

So today was kind of a day of errands -- clothes shopping at Gap (I found a skirt for *six dollars*), food shopping at Nak's, book trading at Feldman's...

Busy busy week.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I was just watching the beginning of Dirty Dancing over dinner, and noticed this awesome detail. When Robby tells Baby that he's not going to help Candy because "some people count, and some people don't," he hands her a copy of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead. Baby proceeds to basically call him an asshole and spill water on his shoes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I have a productive day

Well, most markedly if you count food and exercise.

Not only did I read a hundred pages of Nicholas Nickleby, and at least *glance* at my notes toward dissertation ideas, but I also took a walk on the dish (clear day finally! could see San Francisco), and made: avocado rolls, pasta salad for tomorrow's lunch, chocolate cake (with frosting).

And I had some good Scrabble moves.

Apparently this is what life looks like post-orals, pre-dissertation proposal?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

HUGE crush on Jon Stewart

Second part of Stewart's interview with Doug Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy when the administration decided to go to war with Iraq. AMAZING. This is the sort of calling out of tortured logic that I was hoping we'd get with the McCain interview...

Calling out at its best:

- Outright contradiction that the administration had more reason to go to war with Iraq than with, say, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Pakistan...

- Best analogy: if the government knew the risks and didn't tell us, isn't that *worse*? Isn't that, as Stewart says, the jump from manslaughter to homicide?

- Jon pointing out that the "selling of the positive" in the run up to the war *was* a freaking hypothetical, so Feith's claim that he didn't want to "get into hypotheticals" about worse case scenarios, doesn't umm... MAKE ANY SENSE.

Monday, May 12, 2008

repubs: only free market when it suits biggest lobby

I'm loving this story about the Bush administration blocking companies from *responding* to consumer demands for safer beef:

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration on Friday urged a federal appeals court to stop meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease, but a skeptical judge questioned whether the government has that authority.

The government seeks to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef to conduct more comprehensive testing to satisfy demand from overseas customers in Japan and elsewhere.

Less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows are currently tested for the disease under Agriculture Department guidelines. The agency argues that more widespread testing does not guarantee food safety and could result in a false positive that scares consumers.

This is the legitimate result of the free market (I feel like that term should be in all caps, neon, especially coming from a liberal in favor of regulation). Consumers would rather purchase food (and countries would rather import food) of which they have some way of verifying the safety. Obviously they can't easily test every animal, but this strawman "argument" at the end (more testing could result in more "false positives") is patent bullshit (pun intended). You know, more HIV tests mean more opportunities for false positives, and that might alarm the .01% of people that that would affect -- so let's just not test anyone! Problem solved!

Are the Bushies unacquainted with the myriad stories about our food safety issues? (E coli outbreaks, which are largely the result of factory farming; atrocities committed at slaughterhouses, resulting in unsafe meat, which we'd never hear about if it weren't for the Humane Society; tainted products from China, etc.) Or, more likely, are the people in this administration simply so out of touch with real Americans and the "common" food said Americans eat, and so lacking in empathy for anyone making less than a million a year, that they just don't care?

So come on, Bush and Co., and let the free market give the customers what they want. How much is the National Cattlemen's Beef lobby paying y'all to help them keep what happens in Texas, stay in Texas?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

the fuzzy wuzzies

With the move to Madison now in sight, Andrew and I have been thinking about adopting a cat.

I really just want to come home to a fuzzy wuzzy like these every day:

I want to both engage in baby talk with these creatures, and laugh at the bemused "wtf" expression that seems to come with the excessive fluffiness.

Andrew: i can tell you're going to really enjoy getting a cat like this
i don't think you'd stop laughing
that nasally devilish laugh