Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Last week I made Smitten Kitchen's apple and cheddar scones. I don't have all that much to say about them except that you should make them immediately. You should first make sure that the people around you like the combination of apple and cheddar, though, because if you don't, and they don't, you will wind up sending all your visitors home with scones preciously individually wrapped in tinfoil. I tried to eat them all myself, I really did, but even I needed backup.

The batter alone was fantastic - buttery and apple-y and cheesy.
I was so pleased with myself for having made anything so domestic looking. Though I really need to learn to improve my food photography skills.
And everything is better when served on a green plate.
As a side note, I'd like to take a moment to note how math really is everywhere, and will not leave us alone. I was dumping all the scone-making accessories into soaking mixing bowl when I realized that bubbles are fractals. They appear out of one another, like cleanliness-oriented spores of soap and air.
Beth has known this for years, but it took this intense bubble experience for me to fully grok it. Fractals are awesome. Check out that bubbular structure, man. Sweet.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Tonight I went for a run. I wasn't really excited about it (when am I?), but Mike was coming home from work late and it was too early to open a bottle of wine. So. I did my usual 3 miles (serious runners: shutup), and ran into a Wellesleyite along the way. I was chugging along to some Coolio - seriously, revisit mid-90s poppy rap if you haven't yet done so - when she flagged me down. It was good to see her, but I was feeling a bit sad when we parted that I had missed all of "1, 2, 3, 4" except for my favorite line: "I got something new for that ass." Yes you do, Coolio.

But anyway. I was mourning the social obligations that make us miss out on our favorite pop songs ("What? I can't hear you that well...Oh yeah, Black Eyed Peas are totally lame. I would never listen to them on my own. But when they're on in a bar...No, yeah, I hate them then too, obviously.") when the perfect tune came on. A big hill loomed above me; George Michael sang through my earbuds. You got to have...Faith! Faith! Faith!

It was kismet. George Michael got me up that hill. Not only that, but I ended the run with a sprint home to my favorite song [fair warning: Youtube video], which never stops being amusing to me. Because, he's kidding, right? But what if he's not? But what if he is? Is it post-feminist of me to love this song? Post-post-feminist? When does irony just become an embarrassment to the person indulging in it?

Point of story: it was a good day to be outside on a run. And being outside is kind of the only reason I run, so it was validating. And that is pretty much all that I ask from life. Unequivocal validation.

Little matching frog-gloves

Saturday was a rainy rainy day, and we made the most of it by going to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. Here is a neato thing I learned from the carnivorous plants exhibit: "Some Nepenthes [pitcher plants etc] capture frogs, and when the frogs are dissolved, all that is left in the fluid are little matching frog-gloves. Apparently, the skin on the frog hands is resistant to digestion."

Aren't you glad you know that now?

I took lots of photos with a cheesy app on my phone, and I love them. Here are a few. Ok, several. Too many. Self-restraint is not one of my virtues.

The Conservatory.
The main hall.
It was nice to be inside, with the rain outside.
The building was a bit leaky, but that just made it feel...authentic.
Lily pads that I want to lay on.
Under water!
Exiting aquatic plants.
Check out this upside down pineappley dude.
I wish I had written down what this guy was.
A good leaf to hang out under.
A rainy palm tree outside.
The view upon leaving.
Saxophonists were playing in that tunnel. The End.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I love love love the Anderson Valley. As does, apparently, The New York Times. I have discussed this love before, and I just want to say: go. Go for their Beer Fest, go to the wineries, or just go for the amazing drive to get there.
You will not be sorry.

To poncho, or not to poncho

Guys: Anthropologie poncho. Thoughts?
I mean, it's a poncho, so that's bad. But it's a pretty color. And I like layers. And I've never owned a poncho. And it's ten dollars.

Ok, I might have just talked myself into it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last days in Berlin

For my last few days in Berlin, Amanda came to visit from Bonn! It was rainy and chilly, but we made the most of it. Here's the ladies, in the lower left corner.
We walked around Cait's neighborhood and got a fantastic German brunch. I could easily eat bread and cheese and salad and pickles for breakfast for the rest of my life. Screw French toast, man. We spent Saturday afternoon in Mitte, the central district, shopping our butts off. I found Berlin fashion really inspiring - it has taken the shlubby-stylish San Francisco look to its logical conclusion: Eurohipster.
Then I dragged the ladies out for a final night on the town. One of my favorite things about Berlin is how little bars seem to have popped up in storefronts all over the place - in Cait's neighborhood, at least. You walk by a window late at night and there's a few people sitting inside, smoking cigarettes in front of a tiny bar with a chalkboard menu hanging behind it. You enter, and sit, and order wine, or a beer, or a long drink. And look at your friends over candlelight. Speaking of which, isn't Amanda pretty?
Cait and I are now once again separated by a continent and an ocean, but our love will persevere. If my brain doesn't melt from jetlag, that is.
But Mike and the cats seem very happy to have me home, so I think they will cuddle me back to normalcy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Berlin weekday wrapup

This week has involved lots of sleeping, lots of working, and lots of catching up with friends. Tuesday I met Cait and Franz downtown for lunch, which involved passing by Checkpoint Charlie, an incongruously hopping tourist spot.
Wednesday night Franz got me into his work's very traditional Oktoberfest party. There were long rows of tables, piles of pork products, and huge steins of beer. If you have never been to Oktoberfest, let me inform you that the music the bands play is INSANE. Traditional German drinking songs, "Country Roads", more traditional German drinking songs, "Copacabana", more drinking songs, "It's Raining Men". No shit - I stood on benches and sang along to "It's Raining Men" with several hundred employees of one of the world's largest media companies. Everything started to sound like a polka.
Last night we made a true fall dinner - pumpkin and feta muffins, quinoa with roasted fennel and eggplant, and pumpkin bread pudding with fresh winter squash. The bread pudding is fantastic - we are noshing on it right now, to be honest.
Today we went for a run in the rain. Here's Caitlin contemplating the downpour.
But I'm glad we persevered, because our route along the canal went by a giant slide that I, of course, had to take a ride on. I wound up on my ass in a puddle, but it was entirely worth it. Video to come, but this is me right after. The adrenaline kept me warm for the rest of the run.
And then we went to a spa, where we soaked and suana-d and floated in a salt pool while listening to music underwater. And saw lots of naked Germans. I'm getting the full cultural experience here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Berlin through the haze of a head cold

Last night I was a bit of a dud - we had a great traditional German meal with my Boston roommate Franz and his brother, but my cold got the best of me and I was asleep on Caitlin's couch by 11. I feel much better today, aside from not being someone whose pockets you want to explore (hello, wadded-up tissues).

I went for a short run along the canal that runs through Caitlin's neighborhood, Neukolln. Berlin has both a river and canals, and, apparently, has more bridges than Venice. Venice also spaces its bridges out so that you have to pass through the maximum number of knockoff leather goods markets, but I digress. On the bridges it was hard to tell I was in the middle of a city.
It's fully fall here, and I was a bit chilly after my run, but I toughed it out to stroll the Turkish market nearby that Cait recommended. On the way in I passed three German dudes playing traditional American country tunes, including "Sitting on Top of the World" (my favorite version, by Doc Watson [which I just heard him perform at the bluegrass festival last weekend], is here).
I also have video, which I'll upload when I can. The market itself stretched on forever - it was easily ten times the size of my little Divis farmer's market.
There were fruits and veggies and many stands selling bolts of cloth.
It wasn't exactly easy to make purchases, but through very basic German on my part, very basic English on the sellers' parts, and some good gesturing and pointing, I made it out with herbs, bread, cheese, pears, spinach, squash, fennel, arugula, and some beautiful eggplants.
And now I'm back at Cait's lovely apartment, to do some more work and have some lunch.
Oh yes, that is string cheese. I am a happy happy lady.

Monday, October 11, 2010


You all may or may not have heard that Mike has switched jobs; a few weeks ago he left Greenpeace and started at the Rainforest Action Network. He'll be working on an anti-Chevron campaign, as Chevron is (unsurprisingly) epically screwing up the places they've been drilling; Mike's focus is on the Ecuadorian Amazon. Yesterday RAN protested by staging mock cleanups at Chevron stations in San Francisco. I won the quote of the day competition, according to my boss, by saying casually over breakfast, "My boyfriend is going to the 49ers-Eagles game tonight, if he doesn't get arrested."

But he didn't! And the 49ers lost, per usual! And the protest got some good coverage! Including this gem of a quote from a bystander, which reminds me of how on my high school newspaper we competed to get the stupidest quotes possible into our articles.
"Everybody who drives a car, we all are part of this," said Baker, of San Bruno. "I'm getting gas anyway. I need gas. I'm going to drive where I'm going to drive but I think the oil companies should take responsibility for when they screw up. I'm glad these people are out here and I'm glad to have gas."


The Frankfurt Book Fair wrapped up Saturday, and today I made my way to Berlin. The fair was, as always, intense and interesting and crazy amounts of fun. All day meetings with publishers are exhausting, but they are very enthused about the program, so the feedback was positive. Every night we had a raucous team dinner that ended in raucous bar antics. There were about 40 of us in from all over the world, and we made the most of it.
The accommodations were also pretty rad - below is the skyline of Frankfurt from my hotel room. A cab driver told me that since Frankfurt is on the Main river, and is a banking center, locals call it "Main-hattan". He also told me that the local specialty, apple wine, is very good for you, unless you drink too much of it and fall down and break your head. I think he meant it as a friendly warning.

Anyway, I'm assuming this is sunset, but to be honest, I saw as many sunrises as I saw sunsets, so it's anybody's guess. I averaged about 3 hours of sleep a night, and I'm paying for it now.
My room looked right down on the Buchmesse, which started with the building you see below and stretched for about a mile. The moving walkways in the various halls were lifesavers, but I'm still feeling the effects of four days in heels, albeit sensible ones.
Highlights included anxiety-sweating my way through the night before my big presentation to what turned out to be some very laid-back publishers, dancing my booty off with my coworkers to Germany's finest cover band at the Spritzehaus, go-karting my way to a stiff neck, and then getting a very indulgent massage the next day. The massage included an intensive tummy rub, but I don't think I'm ready to talk about that yet.

This morning I took a train from Frankfurt to Berlin, on which I had reserved a window seat. Turns out I managed to reserve a spot on the second Monday in November, which I found out when I got kicked out of my seat by a conductor who spoke no English and who apparently would not have been a good partner in Charades. I also thought my luggage had been stolen, but it had just been moved to a different rack by what I can only assume was a German trying to use the space more efficiently.

So I sat in the vestibule between cars for an hour or so, until a nice woman came and told me there were seats open that I could snag. When I got to Berlin I grabbed a taxi to Caitlin's apartment, and noticed en route a magazine in the backseat.
Welcome to Berlin, Genevieve! I actually have no complaints, aside from my volume of snot output right now. Head cold begone.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Greetings from Deutschland

I have had a serious few weeks, folks. Well, fun weeks. But serious. Seriously fun. Work has been nuts, and my dad was in town. There was much beer drinking and good food eating. He flew in two Fridays ago, which happened to also be Mike's last day at Greenpeace. As a result, my father and I watched a movie on bees (The Vanishing of the Bees) at the Hayes Valley Farm while Mike got tanked on whiskey with his now-ex-coworkers.

We got up bright and early the next day to head up north and get a campsite at Pomo Canyon, so that we could show off to my father the glory that is Northern California. Mike was none too perky, but we got ourselves a campsite and then got our butts to a brewery so Mike could watch UT get absolutely spanked by UCLA. College football is rough, man. We then retired to Pomo for a sunset hike out of the redwoods and up to a ridge, then spent the rest of the night cooking over the campfire and scaring raccoons away from our neighbors' food, since they were too dumb to know to put it away while they went night hiking. Raccoons be wily bitches.

In true My Dad fashion, we managed to get to a brewery the next day, too - Lagunitas. My dad complained that we were trying to kill him by making him drink beer so soon after breakfast, but since breakfast was delicious and filling bread from Wildflour Bakery (seriously, go), I figured it was just a natural progression from real bread to liquid alcoholic bread. When we got back to San Francisco, for good measure, I took my dad to my brewstore so he could meet the epic Griz, the curmudgeonly savant-like mountain of an owner. He was very friendly to my father, and it turns out he loves Lyle Lovett like I do, so we're all good.

My dad spent the week walking around San Francisco all day every day. I drew up a few itineraries, and so he went down to Dolores Park, up Buena Vista Park and through the Haight, out into Golden Gate Park, and up Fillmore into the Marina. In the evenings we ate our way through my hoarded Groupons and drank fine beers. Dad was impressed by Toronado, if not by the decor or the clientele.

Last Wednesday I took the day off work and we hit up Tartine for breakfast, because their bread pudding makes me the happiest girl in the world.
We then visited the Anchor Steam Brewery for a 10 a.m. tour. We were drunk by noon.
We slept it off, walked up to Amoeba, and my dad helped me pick out a half dozen albums to start a classical music collection. Nothing too adventurous here, but I'm glad to have a good foundation. And I'm taking suggestions, if you have any.

Over the weekend we continued our tradition of religiously attending the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in the park. We rode our bikes each day, plopped down our blankets, drank some homebrews, caught up with friends, and relaxed. We were lucky enough to have Katie and Larry and Avery in town, so I got some baby snuggles in. The weather was decent, the company was great, and the music was excellent.
My dad flew out Sunday night, and I boiled up some beer so that Mike will have it ready for me when I get back. Because: Monday I flew to Germany, and now here I am, at 6 in the morning, wide awake and jetlagged. Yesterday we had an all-day meeting (fresh off a redeye) to prep for the Frankfurt Book Fair, which starts today. Last night we had our regular Frankfurt team dinner at a traditional German restaurant, in which the apple wine tastes vaguely like pee, the pig knuckles still have hair on them, but the sauerkraut is delicious. It's fun, trust me.

And now I am off to the gym, because my colleagues convinced me that a 6:30 gym party was a good idea. Guten morgen, or guten nacht, wherever the hell you are. I'm here for a week, then off to Berlin, so I'll make sure to keep everyone updated with more tedious lists of my comings and goings.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Each week I put together a newsletter for several thousand of my coworkers, to recommend books they should read. I look at bestsellers, Googley books (sci fi, cool nonfiction about how the brain works, etc), and books that are already popular with Googlers. Yesterday I recommended a book that my data showed to be particularly popular. It turned out to be this book, which is - oh yes it is - lesbian erotica from the 1950's.

So I should have read the description; this is true. But it didn't occur to me to check. And while the description should have alerted me to the fact that the book looks like it sucks, it also doesn't sound porny.
In some ways a title that's horribly derivative of other, earlier, Olympia works, involving determined actresses (like James Sherwood's "Stradella"), Satanic black masses (as Baron's "Play This Love With Me" did), and even a Greek-mythology-evoking intro (well after Trocchi's classic "Desire and Helen" floated past similar ground). However, The Gilded Lily is extremely well-written. This work gives a credible and quite vivid account of Lily, the girl with Spanish Fly in her veins, her lesbian friend Janet, directors, producers, night club owners, young boys, and, sadly, the cops at the end.
Takeaway lesson for you: don't follow my recommendations. Takeaway for me: read the first few pages of any books you're going to recommend, to see if they involve a woman dreaming about getting attacked by a swan that turns into a dude's twig and berries.