Monday, February 27, 2006

good news on a rainy day when i have a cold and am cranky

Another reason chocolate might be good for you.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

pimp my library

Please don't ask why there's an emergency exit sign in my bathroom; I've been trying to figure that out for almost two years myself. It also points in the wrong direction.

Dollar had sent out everything smaller than an SUV by the time I got to the counter with my reservation number clutched in my sweaty fist, so instead of my usual rolling anchovy tin, Thursday afternoon I had Pure Hauling Power in the form of a Chrysler Pacifica. I had cup holders up the yin-yang. I had a DVD player for the entertainment of anyone lounging in the back of my aircraft carrier. I had two and a half more feet to consider when looking for parking spaces; more even than I'm used to from my days driving the company van to catering jobs. Pulling into the Albertson's parking lot in Danville in that baby, on my way to my annual doctor visit, I was Rachel Griffiths in the Pip Karmel film Me Myself I, dumped unceremoniously and without warning into a life I might have led, had things been different. I couldn't figure out what I'd done with my 2.3 kids, but I knew they had to be around somewhere--an illusion only enhanced by my purchase of a twelve-roll package of toilet paper and ten packets of chocolate chip cookie mix (hey, they were on sale, okay?)

Look, I'm a soccer mom! I chirped a couple of hours later, swinging out of my rental in the driveway of Java's new place. I see that, he responded, leading the way into a kitchen that appeared to be molting, but an evil one.

I was taking advantage of my unexpected upgrade and performing a complex transfer I'd only dreamt of being able to do before the weekend: giving Java my (mismatched) bookshelves so I could make room for the spare (matched) shelves BunnySlope was giving me as she moved from one place to another. Why virtually all of my friends moved on Thursday is a total mystery--not only Java and BunnySlope but Thread. Not just all at the same general time, but on the same day. And Slick, it turns out, is moving tomorrow. Clearly I missed the memo.

But I didn't miss the chance to stir up the board feet. As soon as I got home and got the uprights out of my boat, I was moving books around. I've only assembled two of the three units BunnySlope and her partner were gracious enough to give me, but it's already making a huge difference in my place. At least one I can see, although the improvement might be a little subtle to the untrained eye. I'm trying to go from books in five shelving units and all over the floor to three units, period. People who love books will understand my blissed-out state of the past couple of days--I've been handling my babies until I'm too tired to stand. Does this one want to be over here with the foreign language dictionaries or here next to the fiction? Will all of the craft books fit on the same shelf, or do I need to start another one? Should I put 'fibers' and 'fabric painting' next to 'papermaking', or closer to 'painting'? Should I sort by size or spectral order?

It's been great. Makes the prospect of moving--I've been thinking about that again this week--seem like not such a given. Because I'm feeling like there's hope for getting organized and pleasant and guest-worthy in here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

thank you for my new ear

This is a commercial Web site, with a twist; it belongs to a retired CIA disguise master who couldn't just hang out and play golf all day. He decided to take what he knew about building facial prosthetics and help people who were missing ears, eyes, noses, fingertips, nipples... it's pretty amazing stuff.

Especially when you look at the page comparing ear reconstruction surgery with the prosthetic ears. Apparently it's hard to grow a convincing ear on someone who was missing one to begin with. Bob Barron has had a lot of people come into his office after surgery failed.

Looking at the photos and reading the testimonials, you realize that there are people here who probably go out as little as possible because they don't want to deal with being stared at. With a little painless non-invasive work, Barron can fix that.

Heck of a second career, no?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

i wonder if this woman will marry me?

How to make a pinhole camera out of an Altoids tin.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

must. go. to. sleep

Three gigs in one day was just as strenuous as expected, especially since I also racked about twelve miles on my bike, many of them through lovely Fruitvale, Exotic Land of Enchantment and Drive-By Shootings, after ten pm. Nutcase, yes. But before I put myself to bed, I wanted to share this; something I loved the first time I saw it, and then never saw again. I don't know where Paper Chase found it, I'm just so glad she did.

And yes, it's work-safe.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Home from Portland, and some of the finest old-school diner and kitschy Mexican food imaginable, to find that I am working not one, not two, but three modeling jobs tomorrow. Good lord, how did that happen? It was so nice to have a weekend where I didn't think once about work, or my outside responsibilities; just met nice people, learned interesting things, wandered through Powell's as promised, and spent good time with a friend. And then, bang! Six modeling gigs this week, and two catering; time to make the donuts.

I don't take enough vacations, I'm realizing. So often when I travel, even if it's intended to be fun, there's a work component: interviewing people or visiting particular places so I can sell writing about the trip. Even last year in Berlin I was carrying two huge binders of material so I could work on the museum project, which I did during the day while MonkeyScientist did his own writing in the other room.

I come from people who don't vacation... at least we didn't when I was a kid. Usually if we traveled en famille it was to Chicago at Christmas to see family and friends, which was stressful, or it was because one of my parents had some work-related thing to do in another city. I'm not complaining about that, just noting how the early pattern seems to inform my adult life.

Off to rehearsal, speaking of getting back to it. Hopefully it's warmer at the studio than it is in my apartment... yeesh.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

if you can't lick them, join them

I have to admit that my first thought upon reading this is, how the heck do you find the waist on a toad? Also, check out the eggs. I'll be having nightmares about what happened to that poor little boy after the picture was taken and the pods got him.

According to someone with some time on their hands, these are not, incidentally, the kind you want to get high off of.

Not that the staff here at Waterbones reccommends getting high off any sort of toad, of course.
if you're a healthy 6'3" male, you might want to watch out

Mr. Nice Guy's in line for a new meniscus. A darkly funny post from a consistently funny man.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


It amazes me that some of these people are still alive, let alone hold this opinion. Heartening news.

Also, if you're doing your laundry, may I suggest you make totally sure you know that your leather gloves are not curled up resting in the pockets of one of your hoodies? Whoops.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

some people get to name stars

This woman named a planet. Or at least a "trans-Neptunic object". Very cool article from the BBC.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

it's spring, and i'm in love

Everyone, meet Salome. She's a Bridgestone X04, from the last year Bridgestone sold bikes in the States. I bought her then from someone who clearly understood my needs, priorities, and limitations better than I did; something solid that could handle both road and trail, and would last. Last week, when I took her in to the bike shop to be rehabilitated after years in storage, the gearheads were thrilled with her (the checklist I got when I retrieved her reads, fantastic bike!!!) Anyway, there's a whole lot of story about me and bikes (mostly about me falling off them, and being afraid of them, and so on), but I shan't tell it now as this week has been crazy busy and will continue in that vein until Monday morning, when I plan to sit still and do nothing for ten minutes and see how that feels. But I just wanted to mention that this beautiful sunny week was exactly the right time for me to have a working bike again; she extends my range and my freedom in a way I couldn't have comprehended back when I owned a car. We've been seeing, as they say, quite a lot of each other.

Until I do have time to tell that story, and some other ones, let me point you at some interesting things:

Odius and Peculiar have had a particularly splendid run of fascinating science and science history tidbits lately, including references to a fuzzy Tyrannosaur; if you haven't been over there lately, I encourage a visit.

Through them of course I met Writhing in Apathy, who explains why one should always carry a handkerchief, among other things, in a veritable burst of activity after too long an absence that also includes a funny-if-gross story about her erstwhile roommate.

Were you French-kissing seven or more people a week as a teen? Apparently that's dangerous. I don't know what to think about this, as I haven't had time to think in days, preferring instead to run on raw animal instinct and Clif bars. But it feels a little like the usual sex panic adults ladle out to teenagers. By all means, make sure the scamps know about meningococcal bacteria, but let's not get too whacked out about it, shall we?

You know they found another Pharonic tomb, yes? Just five kilometers away from old Uncle Tut's place. I love this because they thought the Valley of the Kings was all tapped out, but no. Makes me yearn for the golden era of exploration, when they probably didn't first go in with all sorts of electronic imaging gear and rebreathers and whatnot.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

what the heck is gas mark 1/2?

If you're not just interested in the how but the why, let me point you at Cooking for Engineers. Some parts of the site are more satisfying than others; for example, the "ingredients directory" mostly just shows you what various vegetables look like, and seems unfinished. But there are also useful articles on things like the smoke point of different fats, how to decipher USDA beef grades, ingredient substitutions, how to make butter (with cool science about why it works!), and--especially useful for those of you who have expatriated, or are using a cookbook from a country that uses a different system than you're used to, a conversion chart for oven temperatures.