Saturday, February 28, 2009

x-ray of ankle

I sprained my ankle in France this summer, and had to get an x-ray to make sure it wasn't broken. The x-ray, with consultation, cost about $60; it would have cost between $200-600 in the United States. Oh, health care systems.

X-Ray of ankle

New Edition, "Cool It Now"

I've been watching Black to the Future on VH1 for the past 3 hours, and while there are lots of great moments, the absolute greatest is remembering that New Edition had videos in the 80s.

"Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, and Mike, if I like the girl who cares who you like?"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ash wednesday

When I was a practicing Christian, I used to love religious holidays, especially Easter. I really resonated with the theme of rebirth, wiping clean, starting anew that began with Ash Wednesday and ended Easter Sunday. And even though I don't go to church regularly anymore, I usually make the effort to go to Ash Wednesday services for those reasons.

Ash Wednesday portrait

I struggled with the idea of wiping off my forehead before returning the office; I didn't want people to make the mental shift in defining me as a super religious. I don't define myself this way, but semiotics are a strong force. However, I ran into one of my co-worker/mentors on my way in, and even though she expressed some surprise that I would be into this, she did confirm that the ritual is not so uncommon as to make people uncomfortable. I decided to keep it on, and just answer people's questions if they asked.

W, however, chose to wipe his off; he said that he didn't want to draw attention to himself. I can respect that. I think we're both struggling with the complicated way that religion plays out in this society, especially in the Bay Area. It's difficult to define yourself as part of a societal group when that group has been defined by highly vocal, minority members. I resent their setting the tone for the identity and co-opting the space, but I also feel strongly that the best way to bring that back to a reasonable conversation is to insert complexity into that dialogue.

japanese stencil prints

The last time I was in Japan, I picked up this book from the Kyoto Handicraft Center.

Japanese Stencil Book

(Apologies for the quality; I am still figuring out how to use the work scanner.)

Japanese Stencil Book5
Japanese Stencil Book4
Japanese Stencil Book6
Japanese Stencil Book7
Japanese Stencil Book3

Saturday, February 21, 2009

not sure if he paid the fare

There was an surprise rider on the Muni today.

Pigeon on the Muni
Pigeon on the Muni

He made a getaway before the patrol came by.

Pigeon exiting the Muni

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Can.not.understand this house at 60 Parkwood Drive, Atherton, CA.

$23,500,000? 98,010 square feet? WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO CAN AFFORD THIS HOUSE??

[As an FYI for people who do not live in the Bay Area, Atherton was listed in Forbes as having the highest median price for a house in the United States in 2005 - at $2,496,553. Who lives there? Lindsey Buckingham, Eric Schmidt, Charles Schwab, Jerry Rice, Meg Whitman.]

Sigh. Dreams of home ownership in the Bay Area slipping further and further away...

Photo via AOL Real Estate

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"And You Shall Know Us By The Trail Of Our Vinyl"

I saw this book at Border's tonight, and got a kick out of the title:


Description from
"Together, Roger Bennett and Josh Kun embarked on a thrilling journey, scouring the world to collect thousands of vinyl LPs from attics, garage sales, and dusty archives. Pieced together, these scratched, once-loved and now-forgotten audio gems tell a vibrant tale: the story of Jews in America. And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl spans the history of Jewish recorded music from the 1940s to the 1980s, weaving an account that begins with sacred songs and ends with the holy trinity of Neil, Barbra, and Barry. The LPs found here are also a love letter to forgotten moments in Jewish American pop history, celebrating well-dressed cantors singing Christmas tunes, Long Island suburbanites dancing the mambo, and Chassidic prog-rockers."

AND they have a blog.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

housing prices in palo alto not governed by the laws of anything

So we've been hearing all about how housing is now affordable, about how we should all go out and buy since housing prices are now deflating, etc.

So how is it that a house in Palo Alto, which was estimated to be worth $1.8 million at the highest estimate, sold for $3.625 million dollars? The description doesn't indicate that the house is made of platinum trimmed with ambrosia.


I should add that the reason the average price of a house in 94303 is so low on the Trulio estimate is that the zip code includes East Palo Alto, which traditionally has lower housing prices as compared to their neighbors to the west.

Monday, February 16, 2009

new friend by the compost pile

We've been seeing a little bunny rabbit in the backyard lately. He's found the compost pile.

Rabbit by the compost pile

Oh, I'm sorry, can't see him? Let's try this:


attempt at no-knead bread

I'm coming to the no-knead bread party over 2 years late, but I felt strongly that I wanted to get traditional bread-making techniques down before "cheating." I'm a stickler for the long ways of doing things, like when I used to wearily lecture freshmen about the importance of understanding good grammar prior to writing a steaming pile of free verse. This meant trying to get proofing, kneading, and shaping under my belt before dumping it on the side of the road.

The basic concept of no-knead bread is this: in chewy things like bread, you want to create gluten structure in the dough (as opposed to light and airy pastries or pie crusts, for you which you want to avoid gluten at all costs). There are two ways to create gluten:
  1. You can knead (or stir with a stand mixer) dough until the gluten forms. Dough should be slightly sticky, smooth, and elastic by the time you're done.

  2. You can let a super wet dough sit for a super long time until the gluten structures form.

The latter is the concept behind no-knead bread; you mix the flour, water, salt, and yeast together, then let it sit for 12-20 hours. You turn it out, fold it a couple of times, and let it rest for another 2 hours. You then dump it in a oven-safe pot and bake it for 45-60 minutes.

No-knead bread
Finished loaf, with a face only a mother could love

Pluses: very little elbow grease involved; beautifully crisp exterior; moist, chewy interior.

Minuses: this took a LONG time; flavor was less astounding as compared to the other loaves I've made.

Plus, I feel satisfaction with kneading and getting my hands in the product. It's a similar feeling I have developing 4x5 film in the darkroom; you are physically touching and rotating the sheet film in the chemistry. There's a certain tactile involvement with the process that makes me feel like I have real ownership over the result.

I also don't feel like I saved any time with this. Usually, the limitation of making bread for me is wanting it ready at certain times (e.g., breakfast). I feel like this doesn't really solve that. I will probably go back to making traditional kneading breads, but may borrow the concept of using a Dutch oven for the baking; that seemed to lend itself to a beautiful crust that I haven't been able to exactly replicate with a pizza stone.

No-knead bread

Sunday, February 15, 2009

NYTimes: "U.S. to Study Effectiveness of Treatments"

After many, many billions of dollars and uncertainty around evidence, the new stimulus bill will provide $1.1 billion dollars to study the effectiveness of various medical treatments.

From my vantage point at the medical school, I know that we a) spend an inordinately large amount of money on healthcare in this country without b) a clear sense of what works and what doesn't. The physicians in the course spend hours discussing what should be taught, what are the benchmarks, and what the students will be expected to do in both clerkships and residency. It's been an eye-opening experience for me to see how little consensus surrounds certain disease management and treatments among different medical professionals. Our healthcare system is quite inefficient, and I'm grateful that we will finally have some resources to potentially streamline.

However, one thing that irked me about the article was this:
In addition, Republican lawmakers and conservative commentators complained that the legislation would allow the federal government to intrude in a person’s health care by enforcing clinical guidelines and treatment protocols.

I'm sorry, how is enforcing clinical guidelines and treatment protocols a negative thing? Wouldn't people want to know with some general certainty that the pharmaceutical or surgery or therapy that they were spending money on or enduring was actually working?

I do understand the concern over care rationing; I don't know enough about these issues to come down solidly on a single-payer versus market-based versus whatever-else-is-out-there systems. However, with an increasing number of studies emerging about how beta-blockers are less effective as a treatment for heart failure in African-American patients than compared to Caucasians, or how multi-vitamins do jack-squat in preventing heart disease or cancer in post-menopausal women, I think that a lot more research needs to be done to ensure that what we are doing in health care makes a (positive) difference at all.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

American Apparel Thermochromatic T-Shirt

Um, I didn't realize that American Apparel had brought back the hyper-color shirt. Clearly, I haven't been keeping up with all the 80's comebacks as I should.

via Outblush.

Friday, February 13, 2009

SF Beer Week

Don't forget that this is the last weekend of SF Beer Week.

SF Beer Week 2009 Banner

I'm going to try to make it to Toronado for the Barleywine Festival Saturday afternoon.

listening to the rain

We're getting some much needed rain this week. I am still fascinated by how hard it rains here; we would be flooded out within two minutes back in Las Vegas.

Rainy day in Palo Alto
Rainy day in Palo Alto. This was back in my old apartment

W's PhD defense

So, I haven't been posting because W defended his PhD on Thursday. I've been a messy wreck of event and menu planning. W's been working really hard at his presentation, but also found time to buy a new suit.

Whit running through his presentation
Running through his presentation before the final run

Not everyone was as engaged as me, however.

A Committee Member

He passed, by the way.

It's very strange to think of him being near the end of this stage. We met when we were both in graduate school, and for the entire time that I've known him, he's been a student. Transitioning to the next stage, I think, will be very interesting for us.

I actually had a difficult time in 2004, which is the year I graduated with my MA, and W was accepted into his PhD program from his masters. I had always thought of continuing on to my PhD, but then decided that I needed a break from school. It was still hard, however, to see W move up in the academic world while I was stagnant. I sort of wanted to shake my fist and yell, "you stole my dream!" Except that he was super sweet and concerned about this, and also, because I'm not so self-absorbed I imagined that he wanted to do this just to spite me. We talked about it a bunch, my resentment lasted about 4 days, and then we moved on. It's both rewarding and unsettling to finally get to this point in the process, but I am truly proud of him.

Whit listening to questions
Listening to questions after the presentation

branching out

I made an apple tart...

Apple tart

...using this recipe.

Apple tart

It was good. For the longest time, I didn't understand the difference between a tart and a pie. I still kind of don't, but I now know the difference between a tart dough and a pie dough, which a guess is a step in the right direction.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Britex sale February 16-17

Britex Fabrics is a mecca of fabric, notions, etc. in San Francisco. It's four floors, and totally overwhelming (I spent the first 30 minutes inside wandering around aimlessly and drooling). I still haven't used the great fabric I bought during the last sale, but another one is coming up:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

FX, January 31

One of the big projects that we're doing in First Exposures this semester is 'zines, which means introducing the students to documentary photography.
Theo Rigby, one of our former mentors, came by to give a presentation about documentary photography. He started the graduate program in documentary film at Stanford this year, and was able to take some time out of what is ostensibly a crazy first year schedule to talk to us.

Theo presenting to class

Some of the great examples he shared with us:

"Chicago 1946-1948," by Wayne Miller.
"Love in the First Person," by Matt and Melissa Eich.
"Under the Radar: Living Undocumented in America," by Theo Rigby (which he mummered embarrassedly that he would edit before showing again).

Afterwards, we broke into groups and worked on mini-'zines, creating stories out of a folder of images that were handed out. N is suprisingly talented in this extremely esoteric skill. Our story consisted of a flower girl, engaged to Lady Gaga's twin brother, but having an affair with an astronaut. The scorned fiance attempted to send both her and the astronaut into a whirling vortex of doom with a kaiten, but it backfired and reverted him to his true form: a sad old man on a bench.

Maybe you had to be there.

Naomi walking Gene through the story
N explaining our story to Gene.

words, glorious words

This made my little English major heart squee a little. The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English list by (via GOOD magazine blog)

trip deal of the week

Round-trip airfare on Air France, 6 nights in Paris, continental breakfast, and a river cruise for $799+. Yes, please?

Paris neighborhood
View of Sacre Coeur from Arc De Triomphe

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

coachella yays and boos

OK, to be perfectly honest, I have never really been to a major music festival. The closest I got was the Download Festival and Rock the Bells in 2007, but those were one-day only, and local (in Mountain View and San Francisco, respectively). I've never been to a multi-day, road tripping, camping out in tents, wandering around and meeting people from all over the world sort of music festival. Call it my Grateful Dead longing. The two that I've been really wanting to go to are Coachella and SXSW. I'm such a good aging hipster.

And so, when I saw the line up for Coachella this year, AND the dates (I usually can't take off Fridays and Mondays because of my job, but I had a light load for April 17th), I was thinking "FINALLY! My dream of seeing TV on the Radio AND Band of Horses ON THE SAME DAY has come true!"

And then I saw that you have to buy tickets from Ticketmaster, and my heart sank.

I have been sort of waffling on Ticketmaster for years; alternating between fist-shaking "what are these convenience charges when I have to do all the work?!!?" and "this is the only way I get to see the Decemberists." Rock the Bells last year cemented it for me; after seeing that with all the fees, the ticket price increased by about 30%, I put my foot down, and swore off of the service. This means missing lots of shows, which pains me because I know that touring is something that can really benefit the artists. Plus, I really, really love seeing live music. But I really, really can't support that company any longer.

So, goodbye Coachella 2009. Maybe we'll try again next year.

Crowd preparing for Wu-Tang Clan
Crowd preparing for Wu-Tang Clan, Rock the Bells 2007

As if I were timely or something, reports have come out today saying that LiveNation and Ticketmaster are in merger talks. As if the pricing and fees model for concerts weren't bad enough.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Alameda flea market, February

I went to the Alameda Flea Market this Sunday on a half-hearted mission for the following things:

1. Ceramic container with lid to use as compost holder
2. Butter crock
3. Glass cookie jar
4. Cake plate with dome

(I say "half-hearted" because really, I like "window-shopping.")

Here is what I bought:

Ceramic Pot
"Steamed Pickles and Beer" ceramic pot with lid. The vendor said it was used behind bars to hold snacks (specifically, pickles in beer).

Napoleon At Tilbit
"Napoleon at Tilbit" photogravure.

"Ye Ancient Rhyme, Arranged for the Time, A Leap Year Valentine""Ye Ancient Rhyme, Arranged for the Time, A Leap Year Valentine"
"Ye Ancient Rhyme, Arranged for the Time, A Leap Year Valentine," The Manhattan, May 1883.

I felt funny taking pictures with my real camera of things from vendors that I didn't buy anything from, so here are low-quality iPhone pics of interesting ones:

Hollywood Lights
Hollywood lights

Working Victrola
Working Victrola that was playing records throughout the morning.