Friday, December 31, 2010

"this is a war, not a garden party!"

YES. I finally found my favorite Boondocks comic of all time:


Friday, December 24, 2010

heading to Minnesota

I'm spending Christmas with my in-laws in Minnesota. It's supposed to get down to 2-4 degrees. Sigh.

Operation Windmill Member Sitting in the Snow

Key to success in packing for a Minnesota winter? Grab the warmest things you own, and add long underwear. Layer and repeat.

(phota via Smithsonian Flickr account)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

one can dream...

I don't know why I keep looking at pretty dresses when I really have no idea how to wear them. From Sunday Brunch Dress Shop:

  1. Kloset Nouveau
  2. Ucce Holmes dress
  3. Kloset Bees Knees

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

lunar eclipse in absentia

It would follow that one of the more amazing natural phenomena (a one-two punch of full lunar eclipse and winter solstice) would occur while it's completely overcast in Vegas but clear in San Francisco. I am waiting for my friends to report back. In the meantime, consoling myself with the NASA Flickr images of the event.

Total Lunar Eclipse (201012210003HQ)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

sequel will consist of waiting for the water to heat

Of course, Penny Arcade would be the one to encapsulate in only 3 frames all that I hate about Myst.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

imperial stout tasting, part II

Most of the gang was back on Friday for the sequel of last week's imperial stout tasting.

imperial stout tasting, 12.17.10

I missed a couple of tasters because I went to pick Whit up from work, but am actually glad I did: there's no way I would have made it to the Parabola if there had been an extra stout or two in the middle.

Only major disappointment was 2009 The Abyss, which had fallen prey to an infection that surged through the beer forums earlier this year. All it means is that the beer was unintentionally soured because of bacterial residue somewhere along the production process. Or, as Jason put it: "It's definitely got a horse-ass flavor to it." Oh well.

imperial stout tasting, 12.17.10

This week's menu (faves are starred):
imperial stout tasting, 12.17.10

Friday, December 17, 2010

The City Unfolded

The bus shelter poster project that First Exposures did with 826 Valencia is now in book form. From the synopsis:
During the spring of 2010, the students of First Exposures and 826 Valencia came together every Saturday to tell the real and imagined stories of San Francisco. The students formed 13 groups, and each group was asked to imaginatively interpret the City through words and photographs. Exploring both ideas and neighborhoods, visions began forming of how they saw both themselves living within the city, and the city itself. During the summer, the students reconvened to edit their final projects for presentation in the public domain of bus shelters throughout San Francisco. This book presents each of these projects and documentation of the process involved.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Westvleteren 8 tasting

Westvleteren 8 tasting

When Evan went to Belgium in 2008, he bought several bottles of the Westvleteren beer from the St. Sixtus' Abbey. The Westvleteren 12 was drunk last year, but he held on to a bottle of Westvleteren 8 to celebrate his dissertation defense, which happened November 19 (hooray, Evan!). So on Monday, the 8 was broken out for a taste.

Westvleteren 8 tasting

Evan was anxious about whether the beer would be skunked, but it tasted nice and malty. He also fretted about how it tasted different than it did at the abbey. Being that the beer made it from Belgium to Pennsylvania to California and stored for 2 years, I was impressed that it was still carbonated.

Westvleteren 8 tasting

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SF Ballet, The Nutcracker

I used to take ballet and tap classes when I was five. I quit when I was six when my teacher moved to New York (I'm nothing if not loyal). It's probably for the best that I didn't stick with it, to avoid the inevitable showdown at 13 between me and my hips.

Since I lost interest in ballet so early in life, I had never had a chance to see a professional ballet company performance before. I rectified that with attendance at the San Francisco Ballet's presentation of The Nutcracker. The music, of course, is familiar; Whit characterized it as one of the only "toe-tapping" ballet orchestrations. I find myself concerned with how other ballet orchestrations are characterized.

The performance was fantastic: well thought-out set design; actual magic tricks in the first act (when Drosselmeyer is entertaining the children); lush music; and of course, the dancing.

Photo via SF Ballet, © Erik Tomasson

I think SF Ballet production is unique in that the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" pas de deux is performed not by the Sugar Plum Fairy, but by a grown-up Clara.

The Nutcracker is a huge project to organize; there are almost 170 roles to cast and rehearse, and practice began back in October. Here's the preview:

Monday, December 13, 2010

"this is not the most effiicient tool for the task"

I just don't understand sudoku. It's just doing something that computers have been able to do for years. I mean, I guess you could count from 1 to 100, but how is that fun?
-- my husband, the pragmatist

Saturday, December 11, 2010

imperial stout tasting, part I

The benefit of hanging around homebrewers and beer connoisseurs is that sometimes people want to pool together some of their "gets" in the company of others. This is how I wound up at an imperial stout tasting with a group that consisted of half my friends, and half some local homebrewers and beer judges.

imperial stout tasting, 12.10.10

We wound up tasting 16 beers total last night; however, it looks like there is going to be a Part II next week. Despite the alcohol content, no one got messed up (there was tons of food available to snack on). We also went at a pretty easy pace (the entire tasting took about 3 hours).

Here's what we tried; faves are starred, but almost everything was really tasty:
There was a bit of palate fatigue for everyone near the end. Next time, I'll make sure to have something a little more cleansing than water and taquitos.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

first mittens

Oh hey lookit, I knit some mittens.

first mittens
first mittens
I made up a pattern, because I don't know how to read real ones. I decided to do a buttonhole thumb that I picked up after the rest of the mitten was done because I don't know how to do an increasing thumb gusset. I also think I am just making up these phrases.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Amazon's gift suggestion body snark

So, Amazon. What are you trying to say about geeks and their upper-body aesthetics?

(click to embiggen)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rachel and Jason

Rachel carving a pumpkin

Rachel and Jason

Rachel and Jason have a moment

Rachel and Jason are getting married in about 4 weeks, and he leaves for a job in Toyko about 3 weeks after that (Rachel is staying here in California). It wasn't quite clear to me just how hard this would be for them until this weekend. I'm trying to talk up all the great stuff about Japan. I doubt this is working.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Russian River bachelorette party

This is Rachel.
She makes awesome coffee, pours awesome beer, and bakes awesome French silk pies. She's also getting married next month, and we are celebrating with a bachelorette weekend in Russian River. The penis-shaped straws are not invited.

Friday, December 3, 2010

the 50mm/1.8 lens

I shoot on a Nikon D80 with a 50mm/1.8 prime lens. There are two reasons for this:
  1. I don't know how to use a flash, so I need a lens with a wide aperture in low light situations.
  2. I learned photography with a 50mm lens, and never learned how to use zoom lenses.
But apparently, now I can pretend that there are other, purposeful reasons for shooting with my current system.

DIY Photography: In Praise of the 50mm/1.8 lens (via CaliberSF Twitter).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Carolina Chocolate Drops, "Hit 'Em Up Style"

NPR Music just listed their 50 favorite albums of 2010, an I have been slowly exploring the samples for new types of music. This one by the Carolina Chocolate Drops (an old-time string band from North Carolina) has such great energy:

EDIT: I forgot to mention that this is a cover of Blu Cantrell's Hit 'Em Up Style" from 2001.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Despite being raised by a man who was raised in the South, I have precious little experience with deep-frying. I suppose I could have corrected this with deep-frying Twinkies. Instead, I decided to make donuts.

apple cider donuts

I used this recipe for apple cider donuts, mostly because I had never had these type before, but also because these donuts didn't require yeast, which I felt might push me over the edge of anxiety. My comfort level with yeast is halting and precarious, and combined with my inexperience with hot oil could have truly resulted in disaster.

apple cider donuts

Things came together well. The only mishap was that although the oil was supposed to be at 350 degrees, I found that this temperature burned the outside of the donuts before the insides could cook. I kept the oil between 250-275 degrees, and that produced deliciousy-goodness instead of raw, gooey singeing in my mouth.

Whit was in charge of coating the finished donuts with a cinnamon-sugar topping. The boy done well.

apple cider donuts

Also, I got to use a donut cutter, which is a tool so perfectly tied to its function, it is almost inspiring.

apple cider donuts

Friday, November 26, 2010

Belle & Sebastian, "I Want The World To Stop"

I finally broke down and bought Write About Love today, if only so I would stop obsessing about this song:

Belle & Sebastian are their usual dour selves in the video, but the album so far is a good showcase of the shimmery retro-pop to which I look forward from them. I'm excited about rocking this over my bike commute.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grim Saviour, "Banana Phone"

There were many great things about tonight. But the greatest was my introduction to this song:

[For the original, click here].

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

...wherever you are.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

first frost

After weeks of crazy warm weather, it plunged into the 40s today. Just enough for morning frost during my morning ride.

morning frost
morning frost
morning frost

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nordstrom Juniors

Usually when I'm in the mood to buy trendy pieces, I head over to the Nordstrom's junior department (I prefer this over Forever 21 and H&M). As a 31-year-old, I approach this like a rescue mission over enemy lines. I do my best to blend in with nondescript clothing and no make-up, so I can pass for my usual 24 or so.

Unfailingly, however, there are missteps, such as when New Moon came out, and the entire junior department was transformed into the worst examples of healthy teenage relationships ever. Life-sized cardboard cutouts of Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson leered at me between piles of T-shirts. I would try on a jacket, and stenciled words like "It’s like you’ve taken half my self away with you" would be accusingly reflected back onto my face.

Ahem. My point is that it is clear that I'm not a teenager anymore, but because I choose to shop with them, I have to be prepared for some residual annoyance. But it means that I get things like this for relatively cheap:


Monday, November 22, 2010

FX photo share

We had our first photo share of the semester on Saturday.

photo share

The first photo shares are always both giddy and frustrating. Teenagers who are used to gauging reactions first before acting, find it difficult to lay out their work out bare and let people examine quietly, so there are a lot of side glances initially. However, these are quickly replaced with viewing concentration, because while people are interested in what others think, they also almost immediately become distracted by the diversity of what's on the table. Strained comments like "I like this" finally wander into "...because of [x]." Proof that you can teach life skills such as constructive feedback to eighth graders.

photo share
photo share
photo share

Friday, November 19, 2010

music that is unhelpful during a rainy, cold bike ride*

Emitt Rhodes, "Lullaby"
Primitive Radio Gods, "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand"
Elliott Smith, "Miss Misery"
PJ Harvey, "A Perfect Day Elise"
The Smiths, "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"
Marvin Gaye, "Mercy Mercy Me"
Evanescence, "My Immortal"
Modest Mouse, "3rd Planet"

*on random playlist from actual ride home tonight

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    gynecological claus is coming to town

    Faculty: I have a present for you. [handing bag of specula, cytobrushes, and spatulas to co-worker]

    Co-worker: Oh, great! Thanks for this.

    Faculty: No problem; better to give than receive.

    Me: Especially when we're talking about pelvic exams.

    Evidence by Godfrey Reggio

    I feel like there are two kinds of households: ones that will let their kids watch lots of TV, and ones that do not.

    I grew up in the former type. I had a television in my room from the time I was 6, and it was one of seven in the house (there are 3 people in my family). My dad can't sleep if the TV isn't on. I learned to tune out the television as background noise pretty early, which came in handy as I usually preferred reading.

    My husband grew up in the second environment, and as a consequence, he absolutely cannot ignore a television if one is on. Because of this, we actually don't have cable television at our apartment; the TV is used for video games and movies only.

    I used to argue with him about the benefits of growing up with television.: the Muppets, what marsupials are, and whether or not Mister Ed could really talk (my father crushed my hopes and dreams on that one). I believe it is perfectly fine to let kids watch TV.

    Until now.

    This short documentary, which watches children watching television (Dumbo, to be specific) is kind of the most horrifying thing I've seen in a while. Via Open Culture.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    fountains run red with pride

    The Big Game is this Saturday, which means the fountains at Stanford are running red (pink):

    pink fountain

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    NASA Goddard, "The Earth As Art 3"

    If you aren't following the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center account on Flickr, you are missing out on so much awesome spectacularness. These are from their "The Earth As Art 3" series.

    Siberian Ribbons
    Caribbean Luxury
    Empty Quarter
    Meandering Mississippi

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    vertical tasting of Stone Vertical Epic ales (2006-2010)

    My friend Ted is something of a beer collector (I think he has almost 100 bottles or so in storage), but he also likes to drink with friends. Which led to seven of us heading over to his place to do a vertical tasting of Stone Brewing's Vertical Epic ales, from 2006-2010.

    Stone Vertical Epic vertical tasting

    The Vertical Epic is an annual beer that is released one year, one month, and one day apart from the last one. That is, the 2002 version was released on February 2, 2002 (02.02.02); the 2003 version was released on March 3, 2003 (03.03.03); and so on. They will continue to brew and release until 2012 (12.12.12). You're supposed to wait until then to do the vertical tasting, but I assume that Ted didn't want to wait. I'm excited to think about a shared cultural experience in December 2012, however.

    Each version is brewed with different ingredients and slightly different styles, varying from witbeir to Belgian dark. By the way, the older ones are hard/expensive to find. As in, $750 per bottle hard/expensive. However, Stone posts a homebrew recipe for each version, which is really nice. It would be even more nice if I could understand it, but that's not Stone's fault.

    Stone Vertical Epic vertical tasting

    The 2006 and 2009 were my favorites, but I'm partial to dark ales. They were actually all pretty nice. Here are the Beer Advocate reviews for the ones we tasted: