Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bake sale for Wall Street?

Wall Street could benefit from a bake sale, no? The time tested fundraiser. I'll bring molasses cookies. They are actually my mother's recipe but they are really yummy--no one can eat just five--and I think should fetch a hefty sum.

Are you in? What will you bring?

Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm no mathematician, but...

I just finished reading the first Twilight book. Me not being the target demographic and all, it would likely be my only foray into this series but the glorious woman who lent it to me lent me the first three books, so I reserve the right to read the second one just out of inertia. Either way I'm proud of myself because I figure it's good for me to know what THE YOUNG PEOPLE are reading these days. You know, when Hugo's girlfriends start begging him to turn them into someone JUST LIKE HIM so they can be together and he can SAVE THEM because they smell good.

After book one, I'm left with a burning question. Why have vampires not taken over the earth? Think about it: they live forever. They are extremely difficult to kill. They create new vampires by eating people. They have been around since forever. But wait, you say! Maybe they don't eat that much. But even if they all ate just once a month, that's 12 new vamps a year, and each of the new vamps they create by eating needs to eat, and then each of the new ones they create by eating needs to eat. See where I'm going with this? It's, like, exponential.

So what's with the vampire population, yo? (I'm all down with the parlance of the young, you see? The very cool-looking lady who took care of us at Fred Meyer--solely the land of the married driving breeders as near as I can tell, no hip urban half-chicken buyers here pedestrian-ing in on their way home from edgy jobs on the way out to clubs, nosiree bob--H and I told her about the THREE GARBAGE TRUCKS in the parking lot, and she said, oh snap. I swear it was the first time I ever heard anybody actually say that out loud. Snap).

But I digress. I'll totally buy the plot twist, whatever it is. Like on this exchange from Thank You For Smoking. (Jeff Megall played by Rob Lowe).

Jeff Megall: Sony has a futuristic sci-fi movie they're looking to make.
Nick Naylor: Cigarettes in space?
Jeff Megall: It's the final frontier, Nick.
Nick Naylor: But wouldn't they blow up in an all oxygen environment?
Jeff Megall: Probably. But it's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. 'Thank God we invented the... you know, whatever device.'

Or like in Doctor Who, when he says that all the aliens speak English, not because they speak English but because they all have a language decoder thingy so everyone hears the dialogue in their own language. I buy that. It doesn't take much. I'm practically BEGGING to be told a tale so I can escape.

What's the plot deal to get around this vampire issue? Any ideas? Or do you know? Because I should be a vampire by now, according to my calculations. (And since I have a PhD I can now say things like back of the envelope and re-SEARCH and let's wait to see what the data show--not shows--us with a straight face).

And did I mention that she wrote those books with young kids at home? Holy crap, I'm impressed. Seriously.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Remember these?

And this to hold them?

HOURS of entertainment.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Where am I going and why am I in this handbasket?

I am most certainly not "on a roll" with my blogging muse here. I am possibly even close to the definition of "off a roll." Is it any wonder, really? That I'm having trouble writing about my silly life when the world is falling apart? The octopus eating the shark maybe taps into my angst a bit.

There's the presidential election. Don't even get me started on that. I can't say anything unique about all of that except have I mentioned that Barack Obama's personal assistant is my celebrity boyfriend? And that Michelle Obama is JUST LIKE ME? Have I mentioned that?

I don't even really have anything intelligent to say about the election shenanigans that someone else couldn't say better. But I do spend a great deal of time that I would normally spend writing watching the election trainwreck, unable to blink or look away. And then I can't seem to do much else except say, "....wah?" Or something.

The economy? Dude, I don't even really get it. Except that it sucks. And it's weird. And it's historic and stuff. And Warren Buffett. And remembering how happy I was to be in England where they seemed to have taken a several-century break from being a superpower and I liked it just fine and wished that America would do that sometimes. And now I am wracked with guilt and angst over that thought and DOES THAT MEAN IT'S ALL MY FAULT?

And the weather? It's weird. It's always weird in Seattle anyway, but it's WEIRD. Makes me kind of angsty, even though it's cold and rainy just like I like it.

It's not just the national stage, either. I have one friend whose international adoption is finally, after a year of waiting, coming through just as she has to quit her job and start a new one. Another was a finalist for a job that I told her about and was not chosen. Another just moved the hell away. Nicole Kidman got pregnant swimming in a waterfall. And I'm still confused why it was on my news reader for three days that Clay Aiken is gay.

And the babies? In China? With the milk? I can't even bear to read those stories. Because when I needed formula to keep my own baby alive I read how babies died in China from falsely marketed and unregulated formula and I nearly died. I can't even find the link for you or I may die. And now there's more of it. And I may die. And PETA thinks Ben and Jerry's should use breast milk in ice cream. And that's so bizarre that I can't even contemplate it. I can make a baby with the finest of them, but as a producer of milk to keep the world in ice cream I would be put "out to pasture" pretty darn quick. Maybe that's their point, that the cows don't like it either.

I'm reading the first Twilight book, and has anyone else noticed that both Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling wrote their culture-making novels while being mothers of young children? Just saying.

And then to top it all off, I was going to post a video from my new computer's webcam of Hugo and I being all cute and I can't get it to work. It uploaded double speed video and normal audio. The straw that broke the camel's back.

Is it me? Is the world always this weird? It's weird, right?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dear Seattle Aquarium--Uh, maybe don't get a shark after all

So we went to the Seattle Aquarium this weekend, and it was great. It was. Hugo got to touch the starfish, and see big tanks of fish. Pretty darn exciting. Otters? Seals? All there. It's really impressive. I thought the octopus was pretty cool, its beady little eye staring straight into my soul and all. Hugo didn't care much because by the time we got to it he was OBSESSED with the plastic (plaster? steel?) shark sculpture hanging from the ceiling in the hall. No live animal of any sort could measure up to that thing. Except maybe a REAL SHARK. To be clear, on that day this plastic shark was the only shark around. There were a few babies in the big tank but he couldn't tell them from the other fish.

So I left there thinking that the Seattle Aquarium, to keep its toddler male constituency entertained, should tone down the EDUCATION and CONSERVATION messages and just get a shark already. And it's not like we don't have large predatory ocean dwellers in the Pacific Northwest, right? We have the orcas! They should get one of those! Local! (I realize there is a chance the aquarium staff thought of this, them being professionals and all. But the orca display was conspicuously lacking in, well, orcas. Think of the toddler males, people. They don't read the educational conservational stuff.)

But I digress. I have been crafting in my head the whole weekend a witty, oh such a witty post about how there are NO SHARKS at the *&%% aquarium and ha ha ha they should get a shark. An ANCHOR animal like Nordstrom at the mall (aren't I FUNNY?) . Or like the pandas at The National Zoo.

Meanwhile it's oozing into my head, quite possibly from my CONSCIENCE, that if I wrote all this out loud the world (and by the world I mean both of you, readers) will know that I am a bad person who wants to disrupt our ecosystem and turn the beautiful free animals into spectator sports all for the sake of her toddler. I might as well be moose-hunting (say) or elbowing any unfortunate souls in the ribs on my way to get to the Tickle Me Elmo display at Christmas time.

And that's right, I am sort of that person. Now you know. Except I'm not REALLY, because if I wrote all that it would be all tongue-in-cheek-like and a way to tell you how we are actually idiots because we paid to show Hugo the fish and he just wanted the plastic hanging shark and maybe it's a little too soon for the live fish and I could have $15 and five hours of my life back. And that's not even counting the $10 plastic TOY shark that we needed to buy for our budding genius, that he snuggles and calls "baby" (the big daddy shark was hanging from the ceiling, see). So by saying "they should get a shark" it was going to be all IRONIC and full of evidence why the aquarium should not listen to me at all.

But then I googled to find a photo of that darn hanging shark sculpture thing to put in the post and it turns out that the octopus at the aquarium ATE ALL THE SHARKS. Holy crap! No wonder it was by itself in its own tank this weekend. I knew those beady eyes were up to something. (And seriously, if those octupuses ever figure out how to live past their own reproductive cycles we better watch out.)

Here is the octopus eating the shark (sentences I never thought I would write)--

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I really can't NOT share these

I may be the last person on earth to do so, but I have recently borrowed a copy of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I am told that I will be obsessed. Won't be able to put it down. I'm sure this is true as I am highly susceptible to such book crack. Wish me luck, people. I'm going in.

But guess what? Completely unaware that the book exists, much less takes place in Forks, Washington, I was there in April on a trip to the peninsula. I took some photos from the car, thinking I would write a smart and trenchant blog post about how they need a good public health person LIKE ME. No sidewalks, young mothers (really young) walking on the non-sidewalks on the one road through town, homes with wood burning stoves. Clear cut forests. Etc.

A few things got in my way. First and foremost, it was probably a stupid idea, but I was high off of my recent dissertation defense so I was being dumb AND arrogant. Then, my camera battery died before I got to the wood burning homes. And then I looked at my photos and realized that there are actually sidewalks, at least in parts, and so my high horse lost some of its height, if you know what I mean.Then, we got pulled over for going 40 in a 35, on the way INTO town. I swear we did. The officer seemed like a nice person but he really wasn't that nice to us, nor did he stop dead at the sight of my breathtaking baby in the backseat and declare us above the law for producing the world's first perfect human. Meanwhile the locals are whizzing by us at like 90, and he's giving us a warning. But he did give us a warning and not a citation so I guess he really was nice after all.

But then I can't mention that police officer without mentioning the bus driver who ended his break early to let my baby sit in the bus driver's seat and turn the bus on his very own 14 month old self. That man was a star. Love him.

You didn't miss much, eh? But seriously, it was an intense place. See, even now, I'm all I love it! No, I hate it! It's beautiful! No, it's remote! It's backward! No, they have it all figured out! Community! No! Isolation! Wah! The timber! The mountains! The ocean! Wah!

But enough about me. Let's just take a moment to pat Ms Meyer on the back, because OF COURSE it's the most perfect place on earth for a vampire novel. It is most certainly NOT the perfect setting for a manifesto on public health by an obnoxious overeducated espresso bar patron. Not that any place IS, mind you. My heavens, are you still reading this? I'm so gross.

Anyway. Anyway. Now that I'm embarking on the Twilight journey I'm finding that the photographic evidence of my quick foray through Forks on the way somewhere else, then back again on the way to Seattle, is helping me enjoy pages 1 through 20, so I will share them with The World. You know, setting the scene. Picturing the characters. The vibe. The trees. (The rain.)

OK so here. Shutting up now. Promise.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lemonade out of lemons

If your dear friend is going to up and move away, you might as well throw a bonfire party for her on the Puget Sound. And then when you find out later that it is the night of the harvest moon you might as well pretend you planned it all along. And then you might as well roll around in the sand and try to get a photo of both...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The world according to my barista

So I'm waiting in line for coffee from my favorite barista. Remember him? And behind me in line is a pregnant lady who I sort of know from yoga class. She's 38 weeks or so. Remembering how every second counted when I was that pregnant--because seriously, there is no such thing as a little bit pregnant but believeyoume there is such a thing as a LOT pregnant if you catch my drift--I gave her my place in line, figuring maybe she could get back to reclining at her desk those few seconds sooner.

She's all, no I'm fine, you go ahead. And I'm all no! Please! I finally pushed her up to the counter and both our drinks were sitting there because he's magic like that and that's why I put up with all the backhanded compliments and how his brother's dissertation was harder than mine and WHATEVER. And yes she was having coffee and don't even get me started about how coffee is totally fine during pregnancy because it IS.

So. So. The barista is all rolling his eyes like, I'm about to settle this whole thing. And me and pregnant lady are all, chivalry is not dead, ha ha. And he's all--you KNOW he's going to come out with something, right?--NO! Chivalry belongs to men! Women cannot be chivalrous!

Thanks to the barista for the yummilicious coffee, for gallantly making the pregnant lady's coffee even though she wasn't first in line, and yet another blog post idea--keep 'em coming! I ask you--can women be chivalrous? Well of course they can, but when they are, is it CALLED chivalry? If not, what is it called? What should it be called? And is there something different about woman-to-woman chivalry compared to woman-to-man chivalry?

I read on the internet--so you know it must be true--that some people think that the female form of "gentleman" is "lady" so a woman acting in this way would be called "ladylike." Fair enough, but I think men can be chivalrous without being gentlemen, no? (Whether they can be chivalrous without being knights is another matter entirely.) And doesn't "ladylike" conjure up images of knitting your own lace and not belching and stuff more than acts of kindness? Oh, I'm taxing my poor little brain here. What do you think?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lentil orzo soup: soul food at the Bees

In case you wondering what I'm going to do with all that orzo...
Here tis, from Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness. I was intrigued, partly because I don't have any of the spices called for in the other recipes in the book, and partly because he calls it his "chicken soup for the soul." Right he is.

Put 12 cups water to boil.

Start 1/4 cup oil heating in your $12 cast iron pan. Thank heavens your mother taught you about cast iron pans.

Meanwhile chop two medium onions pretty finely. Add to oil.

When water boils, add two cups French green lentils and one tablespoon of salt.

Gaze lovingly at Le Creuset soup pot. Feel unworthy.

Wonder what Suvir Saran looks like. Google and find out.

Cook onions until very dark brown but not burned, about 20 minutes. Stir every few minutes and constantly at the end to avoid burning.

Vow to post more often on blog.

Gaze at sleeping baby.

Wonder how people who photograph their food all the time possibly have the patience and dexterity, not to mention the natural light.

Get ready for most exciting part of the whole thing.

When onions are done, the lentils should be mostly cooked. Put one cup of the lentil mixture into onion pan (I use a little more than a cup, I think. More sizzle). Stand back! Watch the sizzle!

Cook most of water off the onion mixture, stirring occasionally.

When onion stuff is a nice gooey mess, not watery anymore, add to lentils. Begin salivating.

Add 1/2 cup orzo, in flagrant disregard to recipe, which calls for 1/4 cup. Feel a little guilty. Do anyway.

Cook on medium heat until lentils and orzo are cooked through, about ten more minutes.

Stare at sleeping baby some more.
Take vitamins.

When lentils and orzo are cooked through, remove from heat. Let stand 4-6 hours for soup to "thicken."

Reheat to serve. If normal person, follow recipe and serve with lemon juice, lemon wedge, and parsley for garnish.

If at my house, get yourself a big bowl, add some lemon if we have it lying around, skip it otherwise. Dig right on in. Chair optional.

Forget to take food porn shot of finished product.
Feel broken heart mend.
Restore faith in human spirit.
Feel like good mother when baby recognizes soup, says "mmmmmmm," and eats whole bowl.
Repeat last five steps as needed.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm onto you, Whole Foods

A loss leader or leader (also called a key value item in the United Kingdom) is a product sold at a low price (at cost or below cost) to stimulate other, profitable sales. It is a kind of sales promotion, in other words marketing concentrating on a pricing strategy. The price can even be so low that the product is sold at a loss. A loss leader is often a popular article.

Dear Whole Foods:

Bah to you and your loss leader business model. You and your lavender shampoo that you sell at 32 ounces for $3.79 that I must have. Bah!

I go to you for shampoo. If I were a bigger person I would just take $4 in cash to pay for your wonderful shampoo and exit quietly, but I am not. I am weak.

One use of a loss leader is to draw customers into a store where they are likely to buy other goods. The vendor expects that the typical customer will purchase other items at the same time as the loss leader and that the profit made on these items will be such that an overall profit is generated for the vendor.

Do I just buy your wonderful shampoo? Nooooooooooooooooooooo. There's also the bulk orzo I MIGHT AS WELL stock up on WHILE I'M HERE, the chlorine-free diapers I MIGHT AS WELL try. And look! A sale on mangoes! Practically local, from Mexico. It would be a crime NOT to take advantage. Lo and behold, 15 items later--

A loss leader item is usually a product that customers purchase frequently—thus they are aware of the usual price and that the offered price is a bargain.

But I'm onto you, Whole Foods. $67 seems high, even for you and your eerily colorful produce displays. For once in five years, I pause to look at my receipt. I'm the savvy shopper, me. I stop the nice customer service lady, who if I had to guess is working for THE MAN to fund her rock band. I'm all, excuse me! I have been overcharged! Look! (And when I say that I said I have been overcharged, I mean that I said it's probably me, not you, could you possibly take a moment to check yourself to tell me of my idiotic mistake because I am a BAD person). I continue all, I'm pretty sure I didn't buy $11 worth of raisins. In fact I am quite sure, but maybe I did because I am an idiot like that. And thank you, lady, for taking time out of your busy day in which you are PAID to do exactly what you are doing by helping me. THANK YOU.

And she's all, yes! I will help you! You have come to the right place! Oh, you didn't buy $11 worth of raisins? Let's see here.

And I'm all, I love you. You will make it all okay because I didn't just spend $67 on shampoo. I didn't.

And she's all looking at the receipt and my stuff and I'm whimpering all, you're welcome to look to see if I have raisins here. Sorry sorry sorry sorry.

And then she's all AHA! I see it! I think the guy keyed in the wrong code for your bulk orzo. Oh yes, you should save some money for sure. Let's see that credit card again. We'll take care of you.

And I'm all, I still have no raisins, but THANK HEAVENS for that and surely my bill will now be the $4 it should have been. THANK HEAVENS for you, rock band Whole Foods lady. You are on MY SIDE.

And she takes her authoritative Whole Foods manager pen and makes initials (INITIALS!) and circles the flagrant error with the coding of bulk raisins instead of bulk orzo. I sigh with relief and a feeling of great safety in her initials.

A loss leader may be placed at the back of a store, so that purchasers must walk past racks of other displayed goods which have higher profit margins.

Then she weighs my bulk orzo and makes some tip-tapping on her calculator, scratches her head a bit. And she's all, right! We have saved you some money here. $3.68! Would you like that back in cash or on your card?

And I'm all, WHAT? That's it? The rest of it is stuff that I really bought? So it's $64 shampoo instead of $67 shampoo? Crap! (And when I say I said WHAT? I mean that I said thank you, you've been a great help, right, thanks, great. Bye!)

Bah to you, Whole Foods. Bah. Bah. Bah.

And, party at my house because I am the proud owner of 3.68 pounds of orzo. Dude.