Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
This past Tuesday night was magical. MAGICAL. It was the Sierra Nevada beer dinner at Bar Crudo, which meant seafood and beer deliciousness at one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants. The dinner was so magical that this was the only photo I took.
That's one of Sierra Nevada's brewers explaining one of the beers. I was so enraptured that I forgot to take photographs, which is unprecedented. This was a Beer Week event, so the beers were carefully paired with each course. For those interested (i.e. no one), these were the beers we had:
- Glissade Pale Bock
- Kellerweis Wheat
- Liquid Sourdough Lager (a Beer Week special)
- 2x4, a quadrupel/dubbel mix
- Fritz and Ken's Ale, 30th Anniversary Imperial Stout
Anchor Steam is my go-to beer, so I loved that Sierra's imperial stout was named after Anchor's vaunted former owner Fritz Maytag. And the 2x4, which it sounded like they made off the cuff, knocked my socks off. It wasn't too sweet, it finished clean, but it packed a punch.
There was a table of Sierra Nevada brewers there, including the founder's son, and I exchanged business cards with the assistant brewmaster, who was excited at the possibility of doing a tasting and a talk at the Goog. For me, this was like Lady Gaga agreeing to perform at a 16th birthday party. It was just. too. much.
So I insinuated myself into the group that had been sitting next to Vanessa and I at dinner and followed them to a bar, glowing with a creepy energy that they gamely tolerated. I felt like crap the next day, but the elation stayed. Beervana.
A few weeks ago Mike talked me into watching Transformers 2. Then about five minutes in he remembered that he had seen it on one of our endless flights to and from India, and so we turned it off and watched The Kids Are All Right, which also sucked. But enjoy that juxtaposition, anyway.
In the opening scene of Transformers, I saw something that seemed odd. We rewinded, paused, and lo and behold:
That's a bugle, I think. Are the transformers entering a no-bugling zone? No toots allowed here, and no taps or reveilles either!
That's how you know shit's about to get real.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
This past weekend we headed up to Napa for some camping and a biking tour of wineries. Aside from the fact that we got dirty looks at a few tasting rooms for being sweaty and speckled with chain grease, it was lovely. Oh, and some of the limos tried to run us off the road. But it was sunny, and the wine was delicious, and it was nice to be out on my bike.
The last winery we went to on Saturday, Casa Nuestra, was absolutely delightful. It was started by a hippie from San Francisco in the 70s, and it featured tasty wines, picnic tables in the sun, no pretention, and two goats who liked to say hi. They even had a table with craft supplies so you could make your own valentines! The quality of the stickers they had was to die for - 10 year old me would have stuffed them in her pockets. I just made Mike a card that looked more like a threat than a declaration of love, due to my poor artistic skills.
We camped at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park and, while it was chilly, we gloried in our fire and the fact that it is possible to camp right through the winter in Norther California. We got yelled at by other campers for being up too late, which is always satisfying. The next morning we went to a historic mill, which sounded like a boring 6th grade field trip activity to me. However! I was charmed. The Bale Grist Mill was originally founded in the early 1800s by a colorful character who passed on and left his wife a money pit of a business. She modernized the place and got it ship-shape, though it fell into disrepair in the 20th century, when people, you know, stopped growing grain and bringing it to the mill to make their own flour. It's been spiffed back up and is now a functioning mill again. How kickass is that? We got to see it function, and learn the origin of all kinds of modern sayings.
- "Keep your nose to the grindstone" came about because the miller would sniff the flour every once in a while to make sure the two millstones were rotating smoothly and not burning the grain.
- "Cock-eyed" originally meant when the grindstones were properly aligned - the bottom stone had a spike in its center (the cock - and yes, I giggled) and the top stone had a little cup for the cock (giggle). When the two were fit together properly and the stones rotated in parallel, they were cock-eyed. So how the hell did cock-eyed wind up meaning the opposite? Our tour guide did not know.
And now I have told you way more than you wanted to know about mills and grindstones. But here's the best part: they were selling the grain they were milling, and I got to bring home bags of cornmeal, polenta, and whole wheat pastry flour. See?
And with that wheat flour I got to make this chocolate chip skillet cookie. See?
That stuff is my jam, man.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
But please, stop drinking diet soda. Or cut down. Or just stop injecting it into your veins after lunch. Because seriously, that shit is gnarly in so many ways. I mean, barf to the skinny "sassy" can.
I'm just going to throw this out there: I could come up with a much more upbeat definition for "vascular events".
What's causing these "vascular events"? It looks like the artificial sweetener aspartame. Because "Under Monsanto's ownership, aspartame conquered the diet soft-drink market."
Monsanto = generally up to no good, as you may well know. When you Google "Monsanto", this is the results list blurb that shows up: "If there were one word to explain what Monsanto is about, it would have to be farmers." (From their corporate site, if you hadn't guessed.)
Wikipedia's take (yes, I'm citing Wikipedia - eat me): "Monsanto's development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its aggressive litigation, political lobbying practices, seed commercialization practices, and 'strong-arming' of the seed industry, have made the company controversial around the world...As a result of its business strategies and licensing agreements, Monsanto came under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in 2009."
If you do a mashup of these two results, you get...very confused. My brain doesn't deal well with ambiguity, so I chose to put an MS Paint X over the Pepsi can above. You're welcome.
In the spirit of scientific discovery, has anyone run across any reliable studies on the benefit of Monsanto's GMOs vs. the harm they're doing? I have my own gut feelings, but would be interested in seeing data. Because right now it seems like you'd be better of drinking hippie draino (called Drain-bow, for those that don't live in the Bay Area) than a few gallons of diet soda.
There, I said it. I know that's what happens when you're young and live in a city and don't have enough other hobbies, or whatever. But my cats are awesome. When you are in the bathroom in my house, a cat whines at the door. Let one in (yes, you can open the door while sitting on the toilet in my bathroom, did I mention I live in an apartment?) and it will circle your feet, observe what you are doing, and leave. The other will then come in and do the same. They will hiss when they pass each other in the doorway.
But sometimes they will get along, and you will catch them napping with each other in the bed that you left unmade out of laziness or a pathological fear of being an adult or because you are working from home dammit and you might need to crawl back in there, and you will feel like a real parent. Ok, maybe you wouldn't, but I feel like what I imagine a real parent feels when their kids get along. Like you have made a family. And yes, this family is made up of selfish fuzzballs who lick their own buttholes, but still, we are keeping those things alive, and I am impressed.
And sometimes my cats yawn, and cat yawns rule.
But I signed up for the Clymb anyway. Dudes, it's Gilt for outdoors stuff, and it is sweet. I scored this two-person sleeping bag as a present for Mike (and myself, right right) at 60% off.
Today I am eyeing a new bike helmet, and at some point some yoga pants are going to get bought - it's just going to happen. Even though I don't do yoga. Yoga pants are irresistible because they simultaneously speak of exercise and sloth. Tricksy.
I did, however, resent this all-too-accurate descriptor:
Cranial insults aside, since I usually know exactly what gear I need, and I do my research, I have a feeling that I won't go too overboard. So the Clymb and I will - aside from my resentment of its spelling - be very good friends.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Before it gets too far behind me, I want to note that this past Sunday was a perfect day. It was warm - nay, hot even - and full of exciting events. En route to get crepes for breakfast, we ran into a number of neighbors and friends, all of whom we were delighted to see. We sat in the sun with them and chatted. We picked up veggies at the farmer's market for our Superbowl crudite platter, then headed to Land's End, one of the most beautiful places in the world, for a trail run.
The trail was shady and not as crowded as I had feared, and we made it up and down all the hills without puking. Here is me at the end. I look maybe a little pukey.
This picture is great because Mike's head is there, and you can't really see the bridge, and there are golfers in the frame, though they are sort of hidden in the shadows. Oh, and I am pretending to run. But take my word for it: the Land's End trail is wonderful.
Still sweaty-sweaty, we picked up frozen hors d'oeuvres at Trader Joe's and prepped for our Superbowl guests. Almost 20 people showed up, and thank god Big Dan saw fit to bring intimidating amounts of pulled pork and tortillas and slaw and potato salad, because my little snacks would not have done the trick. We also tap and float the keg of our specially-homebrewed Brecki Superbowl Pale Ale, which was pretty tasty, if it is ok for me to brag a little. Oh wait, I am already bragging a lot.
The best part: it was a damn good party. Sometimes parties take off, sometimes they don't, and as the host you can make yourself spazzoneurotic wondering why. This one just felt fun and lovely to me, and thinking about it still gives me the warm fuzzies.
So there is a dude who paints famous thinkers - most of them literary theorists - being menaced by bears. I really can't get enough of it, and I am trying to decide which is my favorite.
Maybe about-to-be deconstructed Derrida?
Or dapper yet threatened Umberto Eco?
Or perhaps endangered Judith Butler.
Yup, that's the one.
My brilliant friend Sammy, who recently moved back to the US from Egypt, has published a great article on the protests there. I've been following the news closely for the same reasons as everyone else, but also because a Google exec was in government custody and everyone here was anxious for his safety. It was great to get Sammy's thoughts on all the happenings - she's been in touch with friends in Cairo throughout the tumult, and her perspective really adds to the news coverage.
Monday, February 7, 2011
I have somehow neglected to alert everyone to the fact that you can listen to the music of Mike's band, Mist Giant, right here. Well, I posted it on Facebook, but it should be in the blawg for posterity.
What's out right now is a 3-song EP, with more to come. It's really very good, and most definitely worth a listen. You can even download the music files for free, or for monies if you're feeling generous.
Oh! And! They have a show on February 16 at El Rio. Come come come, if you live on the west coast!
Friday, February 4, 2011
Life has a fascinating photo essay on the Westboro Baptist Church, otherwise known as the biggest assholes of all time, ever. They, you know, picket funerals and wherever else they can get some attention. All in the name of Christian goodness, of course.
It struck me that the photographer described the members of the church as feeling more "enlightened" than everyone else. That is not a word I have ever heard associated with a hate group - it seems so much more lofty than what Westboro does (in essence, laminating big signs and adding to the misery of the grieving and the powerless). And yet the reason I looked through the whole slideshow, and read all the captions, was that I wanted some insight into what could make people so hateful and angry, and what their daily life must be like. It was illuminating to see that they aren't aggro in everything they do, and that they have a community structure that resembles something normal. The banality of evil, right?
The extent to which I'm willing to ponder these peoples' brains varies with my mood, but if you feel like your day can handle some digging around in what makes Westboro do such horrible things, the slideshow is worth a look.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The website mta.me displays a visualization of the New York subway, and turns each train into music by having the intersecting lines act as strings on an instrument that "pluck" each other. You can also play the strings yourself. It's really beautiful, and satisfying to watch. There's more info on how it was built here.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Did bicycling help the women's suffrage movement? This article says yes, which is a cool concept. As an aside, can we move to stop calling it "suffrage"? Because that doesn't sound like anything that I want to be a fan of. But I am. Universally.
According to the article, the freedom of cycling, and the change in behavior (and clothing) that it inspired, helped along the emancipation of the ladies. Yay! One thing that I wish - and I have to be careful, because I only have experience with a small slice of humanity - is that more ladies felt comfortable on bikes these days. I kind of like blogs like Velo Vogue that feminize cycling culture - not because it's necessary in all cases, but because I think that the things that keep many women (including me) from cycling more often are very practical. How can you do it and wear heels? Where do you put your bag/purse? What if you don't want to show up everywhere all sweaty? Dudes have concerns as well, of course, and many are likely the same. For example, I have not yet seen a drag queen on a bike, which is something you'd expect in San Francisco. (Because: heels, purse, sweat.) I have, however, enjoyed the spectacle of Dykes on Bikes, which is awesome.
And of course there are concerns about cycling safety, which are being addressed by groups like the SF Bike Coalition. Which has also started dating service, to get cyclists to meet and make cycling babies. Bicycling eugenics! Anyway. I love the idea that there's a historic connection between bikes and feminism. The end.
My brother is a very talented and weird artist person. Slash scientist.
If you have ever come to my apartment and seen the bug paintings on one wall, you have appreciated his art. I think you should check out his blog, where he has posted a lot of his work. Since he first posted on Facebook about his site he's gotten some commissions, which is very cool. So you can probably expect, at some point, to get one of his pieces for your birthday, marriage, or President's Day celebration.
Here are two that I want:
They make you feel sort of like you are crazy, which I appreciate.