Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Friday!

I am working from home today, and it is beautiful in SF! I just walked to the gym, and I swear to god, had I whistled a little tune, a tiny bird would have alighted on my finger - it is just that kind of day.

The gym itself was delightfully empty, but the scene in the locker rooms was weird. Naked old ladies, lounging around, rubbing cream (just a guess - could have been lime jello for all the time I took to look) in places that were mercifully hidden under rolls of skin. I guess I was on their turf, a nude-but-swimming-capped bizarro world populated only by the post-menopausal.

Now I am off to drink iced caffeinated beverages and squint at my computer screen in the sun. And I am going to wear a sundress, without boots, without a scarf, without a blazer, and only with a cute little cap on my head if I really feel like it.

Working from home is the BEST!

Gerry, we need to talk. Or email.

Gerry Brennan, you are driving me nuts. I am sure you are one of the motherland's finest headstone engravers, but you need new business cards or something, because I am getting weekly emails from people with specifications for their loved ones' gravestones. Today it was for Ireland's first ombudsman, who apparently had a long and fruitful life, a loving daughter, and a job title that I just cannot take seriously.

Aside from the strangeness of getting emails with subject lines like "Gravestone specifications", the primary problem with this situation is the response - do I just delete the email? No, because who knows how long it would take before they call Gerry to ask why he hasn't written back. So what do I write? So far, I've stuck with, "I'm afraid you have an incorrect email address. My condolences." It feels weird to throw in that last bit, but I can't not acknowledge the fact that this is some weighty stuff they're working with.

The worst part is, I don't know his correct address, so I can't write to him and tell him to knock it off. Gerry, Gerry, Gerry - what am I going to do with you? 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Here is my ode to barley: barley is awesome, barley is tasty, barley has a really nice texture, barley would make a great prom date. I realize that is not particularly poetic (or sensical), but that is how I feel. I like barley because it is healthy, it is easy to make, and you can throw pretty much anything in with it and it will come out dandy.

Case in point: yesterday my coworker gave me a whole bunch of tomatoes from his garden, so I boiled up some barley, plucked a mess of basil from our plant, and made a barley, tomato and fresh mozzarella salad with basil dressing. It was durn easy, and delicious. 
My iPhone keeps taking progressively crappier pictures, but you get the idea - tasty healthy make you strong like bull.

I was just thinking about...

One particular set of table tents from Stone-Davis dining hall, first year of college. They were ads for an all-night dance-a-thon benefiting some org or other. The best part was that they featured two dance instructors named...wait for it...Seymour Johnson and Cristina Pujol. Give that last one its proper Spanish pronunciation, and you have a recipe for laughing your ass off every time you sit down to eat. 

Not very mature, but it still makes me giggle.

Sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits

Um, I kind of love that line. If you haven't already seen Hillary's speech from the convention, you totally should. It's up on the NYT.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I just sent an email to a publisher that had some insulting account notes at the bottom - including how disorganized the company is, and how my contact (the email's lucky recipient) applied for a job on our team and got shot down. Ahhhhhhhh.

The only upside is, they weren't my notes - I was just working off them for my email. I have a feeling that isn't going to help, though. Damn you, technology, for making communication so easy! And so mortifying.

Has anyone else done this?

I like charts.

If you do too, check out Perspectv, which pulls in political info from polls, news sources, blogs, and Twitter feeds. There are charts and maps and timelines, and I feel like Josh Lyman would have loved this thing, had he been a real person.

On a related note, Mike and I finished the last episode of The West Wing last night - sad! Jed Bartlet, you will always be my president!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Butterfly in the sky

I can fly way more than twice as high. Because I just went for a flight in my boss's plane! And we didn't crash or anything. We took off from Palo Alto airport, flew up the peninsula, over the city and Marin, then back on down. I got to listen to all the tower and pilot people T(ango)A(lpha)L(ima)K(ilo) over the radio.

Here's the view as we were coming in from the Pacific and about to pass over the Golden Gate Bridge. That's the wing in the lower right hand corner. Yeah!

Outside Lands

It was a serious concert-going weekend: 3 days of music, crowds, and eating. In all, we saw significant portions of sets by:
  • Manu Chao
  • Beck
  • Radiohead
  • Liars
  • M. Ward
  • Regina Spektor
  • Primus
  • Tom Petty
  • Toots and the Maytals
  • Andrew Bird
  • Broken Social Scene
  • Wilco
Friday was a little overwhelming, and almost everyone that we met up with we lost in the crowd, but Radiohead was amazing, as expected. M. Ward gave a shout out to Primus, Broken Social Scene gave a shout out to Wilco, and everyone seemed very happy and relaxed, on the whole. I still don't really like people, and most of them talk loudly about things that are boring, but it was worth it to spend the whole weekend in the park.
Highlights included tromping around the park from stage to stage, a hard rocking toddler flashing the devil horns at Primus (I have the video up on Flickr), and a super drunk girl slow dancing with the bewildered stranger behind her in the bathroom line during Broken Social Scene. The bike ride home each night was pretty fabulous, too. We flew through the park with dozens of other riders, through the fog, down the deserted, winding path through the Panhandle, like some ninja bike gang.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Last night Olivia and Kari came over for dinner, and we drank 4 bottles of wine, oh yes we did. I made:
  • bruschetta
  • baked brie
  • sauteed brussel sprouts
  • oven-roasted "fries" with garlic vegan aioli and curry ketchup
  • eggplant rolled with tamari-basil goat cheese
  • crepes with plum port filling and vanilla ice cream
It all came out tasty, but I really wish I could stick to a recipe.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


An appropriately fuddled definition of "copyright", courtesy of a Japanese copyright association:

"As a result of mental operations, the right that the creatress exclusively uses the work of art and literature, Academic, the art, and the music invented is defended by the Copyright Law."

Mangled English is always funny to me.

A thing I love:

Wiretap shows. There's always the same core group of 10 or so people that I really only see at Wiretap events, and who are so darn fun. Then there's the added benefit of watching the San Francisco hipster in its native habitat. Spending a night at Thee Parkside is like being on safari: you know ahead of time that you're going to see lions and tigers and bears, but it is still delightful to spot them in their finery.

It is a very specific aesthetic, and I think there's a lifestyle to go with it. The people at the show last night liv in a hilly old Victorians with 4 or 5 roommates, sinks full of dirty dishes, and lots of spider plants. Their houses smell like pot and occasionally cat pee, and they share t-shirts all the time, regardless of their gender and size. They trade pants, too. Some of them have crappy jobs and spend all their money on music equipment, and some have really cool jobs that they do not talk about much.

All of this is to say, there were some really awesome outfits last night, outfits whose complete avoidance of anything flattering made me feel ashamed for the fact that my shoes matched my belt (shut up) and that my hair is neither short nor very, very messy.

Is that mean? I hope not. I mean, they do it all intentionally; clothes are costumes, so they say, let's just go balls to the wall with it. It's amazing that while the rest of the world is trying to look pretty pretty pretty, in this city, at this time, these people are running in the complete opposite direction. If you are a very tall and skinny guy, and you are wearing a kid's teeball shirt, it is just not going to look sexy, or manly. To me. But to that chick with the she-mullet, off the shoulder shirt, and super tight red jeans, you may be Hot Stuff.

Speaking of hot stuff, I am kind of in love with Chinese Bookie (MySpace), and I told her so. She does what I would do if I could sing: gets up on stage by herself, does little dances, makes faces, puts on a monocle, and sings her head off. If you get the chance to see her live, do it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mike stands on street corners. For civil rights.

Mike totally out-allied me last night - he spent 3 hours in the Castro, soliciting money and volunteers for Vote No on Prop 8. Apparently all the other campaigners had personal stories about why they support gay marriage - Mike's explanation was that this is the defining civil rights issue of our time. He got a couple dollars, several volunteers, and a few date proposals. Coincidentally, the volunteers were briefed in the offices of the Human Rights Campaign - which is the first charity I ever gave money to on my own (i.e. without my mom making me).

When Mike was done harassing passers-by, I met him for dinner at Nirvana. This place has absolutely amazing grilled bread that comes with a coconut curry dipping sauce, and the top of the bread is all glazed and crackly. It is SO GOOD. So way to go Mike, way to go tasty bread, and way to go gay marriage.

Ultramarathon man!

Today I'm going to have lunch with Dean Karnazes, who ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. I guess he is pretty insane, and I am excited to ask him questions like, Don't your feet hurt sometimes? and, Don't your knees hurt sometimes? and also, How much do you have to eat to make sure you're getting enough calories?

I also feel like I am going to come away from lunch feeling much less proud of myself for running 2 miles in 17 minutes last night.

UPDATE: Dude was not the greatest public speaker ever, but that's ok - what I wanted from him was not anecdotes, but information. He orders Hawaiian pizzas delivered to him on the road when he runs (good call Vanessa!); during a 262-mile run, he ate 28,000 calories in two days and still lost 5 pounds; he may go as slow as 18 minutes a mile uphill, but the 262nd mile of that run took less than 6 minutes!

He has some physiological advantages - his steps are solid, without any pronation or whatever is the opposite of pronation (supination?), and obviously he has the kind of slow-twitch muscles of which long distance runners are made. It's still unbelievable that he's never been injured, though - and he no longer takes chemical painkillers (ibuprofen etc). He said that when he ran the 50 marathons in 50 days, the last one - the New York Marathon - was his fastest. In short, his body got stronger along the way. He chalked it up to the power of the human body to heal and adapt blah blah blah, but I really think that he is just freakish.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Name help

I have to come up with a name for my fantasy football team at work, and I am feeling pressure to have something clever. My boss' team is the Kickass Ass Kickers, so there is at least some room for rudeness. Any suggestions?

If you are good with naming stuff, I could also use help with a bike gang name for me, Mike and Leslie - and you, if you like the name you create so much that you want to take up cycling. Velo- cycle- and bike- stuff preferred, but Bikes & Brews is the best we've come up with so far, and it's pretty weak. This is priority #2, though, if you are adding things to your to-do list.

Ok, side note: do you call things on your to-do list "action items"? Because I do, now. I feel like my vocabulary is getting taken over by MBA-speak. Last week, in an Important Meeting, I introduced a project proposal and said that I had built in room for flexibility, so that we could expand and adapt the project on the next go-round. At least three people nodded (That Girl behavior!) and involuntarily muttered, "iterate". It was positively Pavlovian - at Google we say iterate, iterate, iterate! I'll iterate on your ass, man.

Woah, should my team name be "Iterate Your Ass"?

Monday, August 18, 2008

It is time

I need a haircut, bad; I haven't had one since January, and my hair is getting cat-lady-long and dry. If you go to a place or a person in the Bay Area that you really like, for the love of leave-in conditioner, please let me know. I'm thinking about going really short again...

Century #2 down!

I have now ridden over 120 miles on the windy/winding roads of Marin and Sonoma in the last two weeks. The Holstein 100 was on Saturday, and, while not as hard as the Marin Century, it was still a booty-kicker. Mike, Leslie and I were joined by Mike's coworker Daniel, who told us after the ride that he was wearing a spandex onesie. This pretty much made everything worth it. A key point: all three of my co-cyclists are way faster than me, which made me alternately motivated and full of rage.
Please note the unintentional perfection of the bookended Brecki hairdos.

The course was 67 miles of gorgeous rolling hills - until the last 20 miles, when there were two major climbs. Numero uno was the backside of the first big climb of the Marin Century; going down it then, I had ridden the brakes so hard my hands had cramped, so you can imagine how much fun it was to ride up this time. The last hill was supposed to be the worst, but I was so freaked out by then that anything short of an Alp was a piece o pie. Not to say my thighs weren't screaming the whole time, but I managed to not pass out, which is my main objective on most climbs.This is me at the top. I was Very Happy. I realize is doesn't look like that major of a hill, but perspective can be a dirty liar. From here the road went down down down, then hit the 1 along the coast for a few miles. This would have been a pleasant cap to the ride, except that my bike had started to fall apart by then. My bar tape came off (yay numb right hand), my gears were clicking, my derailer was whining, and with only a few miles left I got stuck in a high gear. Conveniently, I also had the Pixies stuck in my head, which really helped me power through.

After the ride, we went to Scrambly's for some beers (and oysters, in my case). Hartz and Claire came and met us after doing the full 100 miles! Cheers to them, crazy bastardesses that they are.Unsurprisingly, Mike and I passed the F out Saturday night, and took it easy on Sunday. We had brunch with Yuri (!!!) who is home from France for a bit, then had a Critically-Acclaimed-athon, in which we watched episodes of Mad Men, Friday Night Lights, The Wire, and 30 Rock. We have the frenzied activity/gluttonous sloth thing down, man.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Outside Lands

Who is going to the Outside Lands festival in Golden Gate Park? Radiohead, Beck, M. Ward, Devendra Banhart, Wilco, Broken Social Scene...Mike and I will be there all weekend. Let me know if you want to meet up!

Nostalgia is not a dirty word

So the other day Mike asked me if I am going to relive college for the rest of my life. And despite the fact that I was elbows deep in the alumnae magazine and making weird reaction noises under my breath as I read the notes for the Class of 1953, I looked at him like, Me? What?

That is because Wellesley was just so weird. Reliving college is for sorority girls and date rapists, and those who otherwise peaked while doing a keg stand. But because we totally had to make our own fun and thereby got to be the Coolest Kids Ever, I feel like it isn't so much reliving as reminding myself that the uber-coolness of my current life was hard-won. Or something.

In any case, I love Wellesley in a way I definitely did not think possible first year. Or sophomore year. Or any time I was infuriated by the myopic administration and fascist regulations. But seriously, it is very hard to look at this slideshow of Marathon Monday 2008 and not reminisce about 2005.

Whether you feel like saying it in the short bus way or not, what we had at Wellesley was pretty special.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I freaking love my neighborhood.

An email newsletter from Mojo, the coffeeshop/bike shop/bar/performance space on Divis. Ignore the !!! and spelling mistakes and focus on civic fabulousness.

The Jashua Smith Trio is going to play tomorrow, Friday, August 15th from 8:30 PM to 11 PM. Joshua will be on the saxophone, Michael Coleman on organ, and Tim Bulkley on drums. This should be another great show, and I hope that you'll come by and check it out. If nothing else, come have a cheap beer after work! Happy hour is from 4 to 9 with $2 pints of Big Daddy IPA and Lunatic Lager on tap!

And don't forget the farmer's market on Sundays, 'cause it's been getting better with every week of the summer! Also, check out Plant-It-Earth's new space right on the corner of Grove and Divis, the have great indoor plants and all sorts of gear to make it happen!!!

Cheers, and have a sweet, sunny weekend!

When a fun thing becomes a Hobby

Last night I bought clipless pedals and cycling shoes - what oh what am I coming to? The shoes look kind of like light blue soccer cleats, and I got mountain biking ones so that I don't have to do that stupid cyclist duck waddle. Still, I feel both excited and confused.

I'm doing another century on Saturday woohooooooooooooooo!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beedogs dogs dressed as bees. My oh my.

See? Improv was totally practical.

This article talks about improv principles that make you better at life. Yessss. I told you, Mike - negation isn't good for anyone!

I'm in it for the cows

I have agreed to ride the Holstein 100 this Saturday, another long bike ride that will kick my butt. Aside from the fact that it's 5 miles longer than the Marin Century (67 vs 62) and that seems like a nice incremental increase, I am mostly doing it because they put party hats on cows along the route.

I plan on taking photos and starting my own LOLcow empire.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I don't get it.

I would like the world to know that I got a manicure, and that crap is whack. When I got to my terminal at Dulles last Friday, it turned out that it was Virgin America's 1st birthday, so there was cake, music, and about 18 children with noisemakers. Hellacious. I struck off to find a quieter place and a wifi signal, but good old Dulles didn't have any wireless fi-- (what does "fi" stand for?) going on anywhere in the terminal. Rad.

Instead, I decided to get a manicure, my first one in 13 years (8th grade graduation, baby!). The stuff was "eco-friendly" so it smelled less noxious than most nail polish, but it was still odorful, and I had a really hard time not knocking against things while it dried. I was pleased at how it turned out, though - I got a dark brown/purple color that was appropriate neither to the season nor my skin tone, but I thought it looked sophisticated in an old lady kind of way.

The problem with liking it is that I got all stressed as it started to chip. That is my point: nail polish chips pretty much immediately, and then it just looks crackwhorish. It made it through most of Saturday ok, but the thumbs were losing it by Sunday, and after swimming laps last night, all I have intact is one pinky. I'm all uneven and upset, and might just peel it off. I feel like this might be a metaphor for my life. Or someone's life, anyway.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Like the SATs, but more annoying

I just took a Meyers-Briggs assessment for work. Maybe the Meyers-Briggses are super clever and truly know what they're doing, but it seemed like a lot of crap to me. I get that they ask the same questions in a lot of different ways for a particular reason, but it's impossible not to want to game the test a bit. If I have to choose whether I like "feeling" or "thinking" better, maybe there's no clear winner - but between "sentiment" and "reason"? I'm not unaware my boss is going to get my assessment, dude.

My favorite was the what-are-you-like-at-a-party series: do you talk to one person or a group, do you introduce yourself or let others introduce you, do you feel energized or drained, etc. Do I not get to mix it up here? Can I not be perky sometimes and get drunk in the corner with Mike at others? Same with impulse vs planning - can't I be both organized and spontaneous? I guess my inconsistency means that I'll be somewhere in the middle - or it'll turn out I'm a sociopath.

There's really no winning here. I associate emotions with weenie hippies and hard logic with assholes, and I had to align myself with one or the other. We'll see which team I'm playing for in a few weeks.


I have no idea if anyone reads this anymore, but I will keep on keeping on, since I need a break from work right now and breaking out my Backpacker magazine might be a bit obvious. Here were some highlights of my weekend:
  • Hartz dropping a well-spiced shrimp into her fresh IPA at Toronado; unwilling to give up on the beer, she chugged it as shrimp legs detached from the body and floated around in her glass. CHAMP.
  • Going to Specs' in North Beach as a part of my coworker's pub crawl. It was a great discovery, and it didn't hurt that Sarah wore a disco ball dress and that there was a piano player who sang Happy Birthday to her. CHAMP.
  • Having breakfast at Mojo's and then wandering the Divis farmer's market. Fresh flowers in the house!
  • Getting the stool below at the Design Within Reach warehouse sale in Fort Mason.No, it is not the greatest thing to sit down on since your ass, but it is cute, and its list price is $358 and I got it for $10! CHAMP.
  • We spent most of beautiful beautiful Sunday at Dolores Park for our friend Olivia's birthday. There were dogs and balloons and cheese and wine drunk straight out o' the bottle. CHAMPS.

Tell me it gets better

Season 2 of Friday Night Lights pretty much sucks. Last night we watched episode 5 (I think), and it was positively campy. Saaaaaaaad.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Who wears bike shorts? I wear bike shorts!

Ok so I am crazy out of my mind with work, but I want to write this down before I forget about the glory and the pain. The Marin Century was AWESOME. It was also HARD.

My dad got in last Thursday, and we ate our way through San Francisco, despite the fact that he is a little ani. We went to Magnolia on Thursday and Tsunami and Fly Bar on Friday, where he reluctantly did a sake bomb.

Saturday we woke up early early early and headed up to San Rafael for the start of the ride. I was anxious as hell (seriously, why didn't I train?), but felt ok once I shoved my body into spandex and got on the bike. We started the ride at 8:30, and it got difficult pretty much right away. The first climb was long and steep. My "strategy" was to go hard for as long as I could, then rest for a sec, drink some Gatorade, and enjoy the buildup of lactic acid in my muscles. My dad and Leslie were the Little Engines That Could, chug a lugging up the hill (Leslie in a more speedy way than Pa Brennan). Mike just plowed up the mofo like his massive muscles were born to do.

The first 18 miles went up and over a big hill, down the other side through a fantastic redwood grove, and then through rolling hills full of cows who looked godammed lazy. At the first rest stop we scarfed PB&Js and brie, and geared up for leg 2. Leg 2 was a bitch at first - it started out with a huge hill that had me riding my brakes all the way down the other side - but settled into small up and downs that plopped us into a lovely shady park in Petaluma. There we were fed peaches and figs and more brie by a flaming man in a grass skirt who could not say enough about the complementary flavors of the cheese and the fruit and the lovely lovely day - it was Queer Eye for the cycling crowd.

Leg 3 sucked in every way possible, and if I had had any energy I would have wanted it to die so that I might stomp on its body. It was mostly out in the open, the sun made my head pound in a pre-explosive manner, my dad got a flat, I got stung by a bee, there was a headwind, and Red Hill was looooooooooong. This made the stop at mile 49 feel ohsosweet (see photo), and someone told my dad that watching him pedal away had gotten them through the leg.Then the last 11 miles turned out to be much better than I had expected, and (if you don't count Mike hitting the pavement with his head at 30 miles an hour) everything went swimmingly.

Aside from some gross sunburn on my legs (why oh why didn't I apply spf?) and Mike's cracked helmet and black eye, we all felt much better than expected on Sunday. Leslie marked the ride as one of the top 5 events in her life, and I feel like it was a pretty rad thing to do.