Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving thanks and stuff

Thanksgiving was so very very good. We ate, we drank, we cuddled. We fried things! Since the turkey was going to deep fry, we did some experimenting before it went in. Mike made tempura onions and broccoli and carrots and squash - all were delicious. Then we played a game called Will It Fry. Into the fryer went biscuits, cookie dough, and even a Dorito. All were delicious, though the Dorito just tasted like a hot Dorito.

After dinner we played a game of kickball against Beth and Goof's neighbors, and won quite handily. Then we watched football and ate pie and held our bellies and moaned.

It was pretty great.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meat Sweats

I read this headline as "Meat Sweats in San Francisco", which I guess is the clamminess generated by eating too much meat in one sitting. And it is now possible to get the meat sweats by consuming caramels, thanks to the nutso Humphrey Slocombe dude. I am pretty sure that if I ate pork fat candy my boyfriend would make me rinse my mouth in Clorox before ever agreeing to smooch me again, but if anyone winds up trying one of these, let me know how it goes.


I am so so excited for Thanksgiving. We even have a spreadsheet!


It was highly entertaining to follow internal email threads about the no-profanity glitch that the Washington Post covered today. Here's the piece:

Get the *&#@ outta here: A Google Books glitch

Google Books is ^&#%$@ up. And by "^&#%$@ up" I mean a vulgar expression that means "messed up."

Jon Simon, a researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary whom I wrote about last month, noticed the problem. He was trying to find examples of "$#@& happens," the phrase made famous in "Forrest Gump." When he first searched the expression last week he got about 50 hits. When he searched a few days later, he got more than 50,000. The problem? Google Books wasn't searching on "$#@& happens," it was just searching on "happens." He searched for "bull$#@&" and Google Books returned books with "bull" in their pages but none with "$#@&." Ditto lots of other words he could think of (and, as a trained word dick, Jon could think of a lot).

Censorship? Apparently not. "It's a bug," Google's Gabriel Stricker told me. You can still find plenty of vulgarities in books if you go to the main Google search site, enter a bad word then click on "Show options" then "Books" when the results come up. The glitch is confined to the Google Books search site.

With the contents of millions of titles searchable online, Google Books has made the jobs of lexicographers--people who study the origin and spread of words and phrases--a lot easier. Take Jesse Sheidlower, for example. A Manhattan-based editor at large for the OED, Jesse is the author of "The F Word"--"for which Google Books was very helpful," he said.

"Words are words," said Jesse, explaining why dictionaries include even those arrangements of letters that you would never utter in front of your mother or Sunday school teacher. "It doesn't matter if people regard them as ungrammatical or vulgar or racist. The important thing is looking at the evidence and reporting on it. We don't keep things out because they're offensive in any way. If these words are out there they go into the dictionary."

To which I say, ^&#% yeah.

"Google Books will be restored to profanity-enabled normalcy in the days ahead," Gabriel Stricker wrote in an e-mail to me. "Cheers to your love of words -- the bad ones included!"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NatGeo photos has some seriously purty pictures from the National Geographic photo contest. This one is my favorite:

The photographer set his camera up for a one hour exposure - those are fireflies in his backyard, and the stars doing their rotating thing. So very cool.

I also like the one of the baboon getting groomed, since I am pretty sure I make that face when my back is being scratched.

Zombie Killer

Last night's hash was just nasty - we started at Potrero del Sol park and then ran through the industrial wastelands of Bayview. Aside from the usual suspect odors - urine and garbage, mostly - we also encountered the scent of cat food (there must have been a factory), rotting marshland, and something that smelled burny and cheesy and made me wheeze. That said, it got me into a part of the city I've never been to, and since I accidentally took the Eagle trail (as opposed to the Turkey trail, which is more appropriate for my fitness level) I got a nice long run in.

And! It turns out there is a big ass slide - bigger even than the Secret Slides - at a certain Youngblood-Coleman playground in Bayview. It is now on my List o' Future Fun.

The highlight of the night, though, was the Zombie Killer. At the end of the hash, when everyone sings dirty songs and people have to chug beers in front of the group for various crimes committed on the trail (stopping to pee, tripping, getting scared by roving packs of homeless men with shopping carts), a dude asked me if I was the girl who had asked about the Zombie Killer. I know how hashers work - this was obviously a setup - so I said no, absolutely not, and moved away quickly. But it was too late - I got called into the circle for a date with the Zombie Killer.

The ZK is a hard plastic tube that you are jeered into putting your arm into. You kneel, with your arm sticking straight out, hand dangling at the end of the tube, and a cup of beer is placed into your confused fingers. You must then, straight-armed, lift the beer up over your head and try to pour it into your mouth. The hashers were kind enough to warn me ahead of time to take off my jacket before the attempt, so only my running pants and tank top got soaked through with beer. Most of it went up my nose, actually, and almost none went into my mouth.

So that was the Zombie Killer. It was pretty fun, though I had to ask a friend to drive my car home because I didn't think there was a cop in the world who would believe me if I tried to explain that yes, I was covered in beer, but I hadn't actually swallowed any of it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's just that I love her so much

Gail Collins on the mammogram debate: "I had breast cancer back in 2000, and I am trying to come up with a way that I can use that experience to shed some light on these new findings. I have never believed that everything happens for a reason. But I do feel very strongly that everything happens so that it can be turned into a column."

Book nerd heaven

Last night I went to the National Book Awards, and it was awesome. I got my hair blown out all sexy like, and I got my nails done, and I put on a classy dress and high-heeled it up. And then I got to partake in fancy food and drink and conversation with fancy publishing people.

Highlights of the evening: Joanne Woodward introducing Gore Vidal for his lifetime achievement award; being completely awkward with our extremely handsome chief legal counsel; meeting and chatting with Dave Eggers, about whom I was completely wrong when I pegged him as twee and incapable of properly executing on his admittedly brilliant ideas and projects. He was actually perma-nervous and charming/disarming.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I know it was a few weeks ago now, and that I have dropped the ball, but here is me and Mike on Halloween:

We were, in case you couldn't tell, Little Bo Peep and a sheep. I shed about 200 cotton balls over the course of the evening, and lost my sheep hat somewhere along the way, but it was still a successful costume. In this photo I am fluffing my tail, not picking a wedgie or anything. Sheep don't get wedgies.

Land's End

If you live in San Francisco and haven't walked the Land's End trail to Eagle Point up near Seacliff, you really should.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I am currently working from my couch and drinking a mug of hot Milo. Those of you that have lived in Australia and New Zealand can, I hope, imagine my contentment.

Mmmm, Milo.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Zack Morris <3 bikes

Mark-Paul Gosselaar is a serious cyclist - who knew? I am very, very pleased by this news.

Sydney in brief

Day 1: land early, head to work. View from the cafe.

Check into hotel, meet Liz Abbey for drinks and dinner.

Day 2: work, run in the Sydney hash, then dinner and lots of beer with the hashers.

Day 3: Mike arrives in the a.m.! Wander the harbor, stopping for adult beverages and food on a regular basis.

For dinner, the Night Noodle Market in Hyde Park. Delicious AND scenic.

Day 4: Bondi Beach for breakfast at Iceberg's (a swimming club/restaurant) and hanging out on the beach.

Climate change event on the steps of the Opera House. Mikey heaven.

Drinks and dinner with Liz and my Irish cousin Mairead who, coincidentally, is a nanny for the costume designer that won an Oscar for "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" and wore a credit card dress to the ceremony.

Day 5: lazy day. Breakfast on Darling Harbor, exploration of the many malls of the Central Business District, then drinks at a hotel bar with an amazing view.

Day 6: rainy rainy. Tour of the Blue Mountains - thanks to an overbooked bus, we got upgraded to a semi-private tour with a biologist.

No poisonous-animal sightings = a win in my book. But we did see kangaroos!!!

Day 7: last day in Australia, boo. We only had the morning, so we took the ferry around the harbor and back.

The end.


There are many excitements going on. I'm still basking in the glow of our trip to Australia, because Sydney rocked. Did I talk about that? Not really? I'll post some photos.

There are upcoming excitements now, too. Yesterday began several days of houseguests - my friend from home and her husband, and a Wellesley friend and her boyfriend. One couple is staying for two days, then the other stays for two days, then they all stay Sunday night. It's going to be a slumber party! Or just weird and uncomfortable for them.

Mike is going to Copenhagen for the month of December! He'll finish up and meet me in New York right before Christmas. He'll be taking care of Greenpeace's web communications for the UN Climate Change Conference. Bad ASS.

Next week we head to Houston for four days for Mike's brother's wedding. I enjoy spending time with Mike's family, but even more than that, I enjoy open bars.

After Houston, I'm home for a day, then I go to New York for the National Book Awards. This is like the Oscars for books, and I am very excited. It is black tie! And (as recorded in a previous post) I am nostalgic for fall, and four days in New York in mid-November should cure that right up.

Then it is Thanksgiving, which means a weekend of camping. And/or mooching off the hospitality of Katie and Larry and their baby. Either way, it is going to mean spending much time outside.

I head home for Christmas on December 16! I'm pumped to spend time in New York, and at my parent's new house. All the wiring isn't done yet, but they've already planned out the toboggan route. So that is going to be sweet.

Also, our microwave acts like it's arcing about one in three times we use it. Each time, I'm sure it's going to explode or irradiate me. But then I forget, until the next time it does it. I think that the potentially for bodily harm qualifies this as exciting.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Big Ben

I am really enjoying Big Ben on Twitter. Shut up.

Naked bear

Bears in a German zoo are losing their fur, and it is so so sad.

As someone who has spent many a sleepless backcountry night sure that every rustle outside my tent is a bear coming to eat me, it is a little comforting to know that bears look ridiculous underneath their fluffy yet terrifying fur. But mostly it is sad - the poor ladies! They look very chilly, and like they need some moisturizer. And maybe a backrub, though I am not going to volunteer to do it.

Let them sing it for you

This website lets you type in any words you want, and it then puts together song snippets of your words to create a song for you. It is pretty damn cool. And you can email the song to friends, so be on the lookout for weird song-emails from me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Good evening

I am having what can only be classified as a fine night. I got a long massage after work, and the lady did an amazing job on my right butt muscle, which has been almost-pulled for two months now. The issue was a tight gluteous medius, apparently - or something that sounded like that. As you might imagine, I was a little out of it - it's hard to listen closely to someone while they are vigorously rubbing your bum.

Now I am sitting on the couch in my apartment, and everything smells like the garlic bread that I just took out of the oven. I am drinking red wine, reading Infinite Jest (as I have been for a good number of months now), and listening to the Decemberists. Even though it was 80 degrees in San Francisco today, my body thinks it's fall and feels cuddly and nest-y, and the wine and the music and the book are feeding the autumn feeling because they make me think of Boston.

I don't know how others who lived in and then moved away from Boston feel, or even those who still live there, but there are just enough excellent things about it that sometimes moving back seems appealing. I'm thinking mostly of the Central Square old man bars that I spent too much time in, and the fact that there was always someone I could finagle into a beer at the Field or the Cantab or the Middle East or even the Enormous Room. I also really, really loved the walk back to my Washington Street apartment from the T (Red Line, I heart you) - there was a tree directly under the streetlamp on my corner that flowered in the spring and hung out icicles in the winter, and if that's not a recipe for mental photo album pie I don't know what is.

Mmmm, pie. Have some in the freezer, just waiting to get het up. Score!