Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stuff I Eat

Garlic bread with smoked gouda. We are evil geniuses.

Friday, January 29, 2010

SFist today has a map of POPOS, Privately Owned Public Open Spaces downtown. Some look really cool.

  • 1. Redwood Park: An urban park at the foot of San Francisco’s most striking skyscraper with redwoods, sculptures and a fountain.
  • 6. 343 Sansome Street: Two open spaces, one a sun terrace on the 15th floor (with an obelisk), the other a lunchtime mall.
  • 21. Crocker Galleria: Two rooftop sun terraces, one on an historic bank building, the other “accessed from an obscure staircase in the northwest corner of the Galleria”.
  • 30. 50 Beale Street: A “rather large” urban park full of trees and bushes, and including a railroad car housing a Bechtel Corp. museum.
If I still worked in the FiDi, I'd get on that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Book swap

The Booksmith on Haight is having a book swap tomorrow (Friday 1/29), if anyone is interested. It's $25, which seems steep, but I bet it's fun - and there's wine!

Snowy NYC

This morning I woke up to snow falling! Here's the view from my hotel room.

Pretty, no?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On John McPhee

John McPhee is my favorite non-fiction writer. He writes rich straightforward prose, has a sense of humor, and is able to take all kinds of subjects (list of books here) and make them not only interesting but illuminating. He is from Princeton and he still lives there, and my mom has threatened on several occasions to plant herself on a bench on Nassau Street with a picture of him and flag him down when he walks by.

He is old school, in the best sense of the term. He has an elaborate writing process that involves index cards and his office floor, but he writes consistently and voluminously. His pieces are excerpted in The New Yorker, and then they are published by Farrar Straus and Giroux, and then they are read by what I imagine are his legion of loyal fans, including me. This is the way it has gone since the 60's, and it is how it goes today. His last book was published in 2006, so it is time - he owes us one.

Right now, however, I am slogging through "Assembling California" (1993). Despite the diversity of his interests, geology seems to be his true love - he's written several books on the subject. The excerpts I've read in his collections have been delightful, but this one is tough to get through.

Sample sentence: "This continuous belt of ophiolites consists of ocean crust that formed at a spreading center late in the Cretaceous and was emplaced on the northern margin of India in Paleocene time."

Well ok then. In theory this book is great - I like geology, I like California, and I like Mr. McPhee. And I do get a thrill when he writes about San Francisco: "Not just any city can claim to have formed in a trench where the slab of a great ocean dived toward the center of the earth, where large pieces of vari-colored country came together, and where competent rock was crushed to scaly clay."

It is really something when a writer can make you proud of your city's competent (!) rock and scaly clay. And you have to realize what it means to me that this guy is from NEW JERSEY, my home state. And he has chosen the perfect discipline - he finds something interesting, he goes out to research it (travels the country with truckers and bargemen , lives with doctors in the Maine woods, goes to Alaska when it is a new baby state), and then he comes home to Princeton to write it all up. What a life!

I just love him. I really do. And I will finish "Assembling California", though I will only remember the occasional juicy anecdote (as opposed to the pages upon pages of plate tectonic theory). I will tell those anecdotes at cocktail parties, as I already do with all of his other stories, and I will get excited and wave my hands around and tell even more people to read him.

So do it. Read him. Start with one of the John McPhee Readers, or "Coming Into the Country". Do it, and you will be glad.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hear ye, hear ye

My brother is now posting his art on Flickr. I got him the Pro membership last week so he's just getting started, but I'm excited anyway.

An I. Brennan Original sampler:

I really like the dude on the right. Because it looks like he is dancing, and I like to dance.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Holy crap

The Wellesley English Department Facebook page is amazing (can everyone else view it?).

My favorite comment so far: "This is exciting. I am Wellesley '41 and I write a blog almost every day because that is what I learned to do at Wellesley almost 70 years ago."

Jesus H. that lady is OLD and HIP.

Corner store + CSA

Mike and I are looking to move to a new neighborhood, just to spice up our lives a bit. New bars, new neighbors, etc. There are many reasons that I will be sad to leave our current one, though, not least of which is that our corner store is also one of the best markets in the city. Green Earth has herbs, fruit, vegetables, wine, beer, fabulous hummus, great frozen hippie dinners, etc.

The only thing that would make it better would be even more hippie-ness. Which is exactly what this article says some USF students are aiming to do: make corner stores into CSA pickup points. (I guess not all USF undergrads are douchey - whodathunk?) It's a brilliant idea, because it makes CSA pickups more convenient, and drives foot traffic to the corner stores and further solidifies the bond between neighborhood and corner store. The powerful combination of two of my greatest loves - corner stores (which provide booze and a Cheers-like atmosphere) and farm-fresh produce (which I think I've probably blogged about more than enough already) might make my little heart explode with happiness.

Just as an aside, the connection between a neighborhood's residents and their corner store is, as I believe all San Franciscans know, a sacred bond. Is this true in other cities? Here, the corner store guys know when you are depressed (case in point, a roommate who spent several months living off frozen burritos that he did not heat up), they know when you have a UTI (increased cranberry juice consumption), they know when you are stoned or are in a relationship and have therefore lost all interest in your appearance (in both cases, off the charts Ben & Jerry's consumption). And they don't judge - they make the same small talk as always, and if you're lucky, they put your photo up above the cash register. It's a special thing, and I'm getting a little verklempt just thinking about it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fingers crossed for a wash

This has been a pretty shitty week, in the macro sense: Massachusetts electing an anti-health care senator, the Supreme Court setting us back 100 years in terms of campaign donation limits (i.e. they've pretty much gotten rid of them), and now 50 Gitmo detainees will be held without being tried (how is that ok?). And this, of course, follows close on the heels of the Haiti earthquake. Let's all give this week a resounding WTF?!?!, shall we?

On the micro level, things are not so heinous as all that, though I did have to get up at 3:45 this morning in order to get a flight to NY, which didn't put me in the greatest mood. But now I am in PA and my brother and my dad are making what thus far smells like a delicious dinner (unprecedented), and I am looking forward to watching football and sitting on my ass this weekend.

So maybe I can convince myself that the Jets advancing to the Superbowl would be a sign that all hope is not lost. Though, let's be honest, it's pretty unlikely that will happen. Damn you in advance, Colts.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time to move

Yelp says my neighborhood is now "a Mecca for all things hip".

Stuff I Eat, Mexican Casserole/Lasagna Edition

Lianna hath requested the return of the Stuff I Eat posts, and because she asked, ye all shall receive, whether you want to or not. I am going to avoid documenting what I eat for lunch at work, though, because it's embarrassing in quantity, in variety, and in free-ness. Embarrassing in that there would be no way to pretend I wasn't just bragging.

But, as I've said, Mike and I are on a cooking kick, and I don't feel bad featuring the sweat of our brows. Last night was a Mike-chosen dish: Mexican casserole. Mike decided that we should call it Mexican lasagna, which is fine by me, because I think "casserole" sounds like something made with canned soup and fried bits.

Our lasagna did have fried bits, actually, in the form of tortilla chips. But they were layered with jack cheese and soyrizo and tomatoes and kale and beans and cilantro and lots of spices. Here it is before getting a final layer of chips and cheese.

I am still learning how to use my camera's flash in a way that doesn't make subjects look like they are part of a crime scene, so bear with me.

And the final product, in all its tasty glory:

Maybe I should make him wear a hairnet, just for effect.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


From an NYT article, Snack Time Never Ends: "Apparently, we have collectively decided as a culture that it is impossible for children to take part in any activity without simultaneously shoving something into their pie holes."

Is that an ok thing to say? I thought it was borderline rude. In any case, I was delighted to see it in an article, particularly one that also quotes a trendologist (seriously?) from the Center for Culinary Development, where I spent a few days as a temp back in '06. I was the note taker for a meeting of a dozen or so chefs who had been hired by Frito Lay to come up with flavor inspirations for Doritos. The chefs, some of whom I recognized as being Food Channel Personalities (but none of whom I can remember now), cooked elaborate meals of Thai shrimp and chicken mole and whatever else they thought the American populace might embrace in a chip.

All the meals were delicious, but I thought all would make pretty gross Doritos. Then again, Doritos are pretty gross all on their own.


The view from my office:

This almost makes up for the fact that it rained loudly all night and I had weirdo dreams.

Stuff I Eat

I have been cooking up a storm lately! Mike and I were on a two week crepe binge - we'd make a big batch of crepes and then eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Throw in cheese, throw in veggies, throw in Nutella and fruit, or butter and maple syrup...they were scrumptious in every incarnation. Then I transitioned into soup - this weekend I made a big pot of Thai coconut soup from scratch. It was tasty, but not as good as what you get at a Thai restaurant, which really should not have surprised me.

And last night I went the distance with lettuce wraps. In a change from our usual throw-some-stuff-in-romaine routine, I used rice wrappers and filled them with escarole, fake chicken, carrot, radish, cellophane noodles and cilantro. I whipped up a peanut sauce for dipping, and voila.

Not so pretty, but delicious delicious.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Yesterday was a good day

Yesterday I took an 80's aerobic class at work (RetroRobics) that was both hilarious and a damn fine workout. The instructor had watched YouTube videos of 80's music videos and jazzercise classes, so she had all the authentic moves. And she wore this:

That alone pretty much made my day. Then my coworker gave me orchestra seats to the SF symphony, which I've been wanting to attend for a while. So tonight I'm going to get gussied up and go to the symphony for free! There's even an after party with cocktails and jazz, where I'm going to wear red lipstick and try to look mysterious.

Good luck to me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Big News

NYT: Google, Citing Cyber Attack, Threatens to Exit China
"Google, facing an assault by hackers who sought to penetrate the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, will stop cooperating with Chinese censorship and consider closing its offices and operations in China altogether, the company said on Tuesday."

"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China."

Daaaaamn, son. And that is probably all I'm allowed to say.

Monday, January 11, 2010


This is painful, but also fascinating: ESPN has a tool that allows you to compare your salary to certain professional athletes. Eli Manning needs only to play .07 games to equal my yearly income; I'd have to work for 200+ years to bring in what he makes in one year.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Kitty wigs

A friend suggested I might want to get one of these "kitty wigs" for my cat.

Well, I DON'T. I don't think. Though I do find that cat alluring. Can a cat really make a come hither face? Ew, ew, ew.

Mystery box

Last night I picked up my first Mariquita Farms mystery box. I'm on their waitlist, which means I get an email whenever a regular doesn't want to come get their box.

For $25, I got potatoes, spinach, two kinds of radishes, arugula, escarole, cabbage, leeks, turnips, fennel, and romanesco. Gorgeous gorgeous. I LOVE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


We just had a wee (4.1) earthquake in Mountain View. It felt like a big truck was driving by, but instead of just the floor rumbling, the ceiling and the doorways did too. The best part is that I was in a meeting, videoconferencing with a coworker in Paris and two others in another building in Mountain View. Ms. Paris was talking, and then all of a sudden the three of us started yelling. And bouncing around on the screen a bit, too. We scared the bejesus out of her.

On the plus side, I managed to restrain the urge to dive under the table. Score one for dignity.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I go to Austin TX pretty regularly (at least 2 or 3 times a year), and as a result, friends tend to ask me for recommendations when they are planning a trip there. I then pull in the big guns, i.e. Mike. Mike recently gave my friend Claire a list of his favorite places in Austin, which she then combined with her own research to create a seriously amazing map of places to eat, drink, and see music.

If you think you might head to Austin anytime soon, keep this baby in mind.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


It's time for new year's resolutions and blah blah blah. One thing that I'm newly invigorated to do is volunteer. Anyplace, anytime. I'd work for a food bank or an environmental organization or an animal shelter or any doggone place, really.

Mike and I are going to start working with the SF Bike Coalition, but even though I definitely believe in bike advocacy, I don't think that's going to satisfy my Helping People jones. My one problem (and it's a big one) is that I can't commit to any regular activity, because I travel so much for my job. Even a once a month gig won't work if it happens to fall on a day that I have to be out of town.

So with that in mind, does anyone have any suggestions or ideas? I am not doing anything appreciable right now to help my fellow man (though I like to think my work is helping to better humanity), and I'd like to get cracking.

Monday, January 4, 2010


I am totally addicted to Groupon. It has gotten me to do so many things I wouldn't otherwise -go to early morning boot camp, for example. Or get highlights in my hair.

Every day I get a Groupon email, alerting me to the deal of the day. Groupon works with businesses in a particular city (I get the SF email, obviously, but they're in about 60 cities) to provide discounts. You have to buy that day, and usually you have a year or so to use the Groupon. So for my highlights, I called the salon, told them I had a Groupon, and made an appointment. I had paid $50 to Groupon on the day that this particular offer was available, and in turn I got $120 worth of services from the salon. My highlights were $95, so I still have $25 to use at that salon. What a deal, huh?

I currently have a shit ton of Groupons, and I'm pumped to use them.
  • 2 tickets to a BATS improv show.
  • 3 suspension training classes.
  • a voucher for eyebrow threading. (I should note that I have weenie little eyebrows and I only wanted the threading Groupon to have someone confirm once and for all that I don't need to do anything with my eyebrows. Other girls may have their faces transformed by a good pluck, but I think that when your eyebrows are as thin as mine, no tweezers or wax are going to help.)
  • tooth whitening. I am most excited about this one - even though I'm not self conscious about my teeth (they are pretty standard off-white) I have an overwhelming desire for freakishly white teeth. And they shall soon be mine!
  • a flying trapeze class. I talked Mike into getting this one with me, so we are going to swing through the air with the greatest of ease together.
  • two whale watching tours.
  • two Bar Method classes.
  • a medical facial peel. This actually sounds a little scary, but the Yelp reviews were positive, so I'm just going to hope that they burn my face off in a good way.
  • fiddy dollars worth of food at Luna Park. I am really looking forward to spending this on mojitos, fondue and s'mores.
  • and I still have 9 boot camp classes left. Once my physical trainer gives me the OK, I am there.
Groupon, you are going to bankrupt me. But you have such good deals!

Oh, and Meesh just reminded me that I can refer people and get $10 in credit - so if you're going to sign up anyway, feel free to use my referral link: But only if you were going to do it anyway, see what I'm saying?

Getting reacquainted

I have been out of town for two weeks, but because I was on the snowy east coast, it felt like longer. And for Mike, this was the first weekend he'd been in San Francisco in over a month. So we spent the weekend getting reacquainted with our city.

Saturday we walked from the Lower Haight to the Mission to Buena Vista park to the top of Twin Peaks. Here's the city from TP:

We got there right at sunset, so downtown looked beautiful.

It was pretty satisfying to scramble to the top while everyone else was getting into or out of their cars. We earned our dinner that night. We also passed out early, but what the hey.

It's nice to be home.