Best line of the day was delivered by a girl who came out of one of the other exam rooms, holding a carrier from which plaintive meows were emitting. She held up the grill of the carrier to the carrier that my cat was in, so that the two cats could see and sniff each other.

"See," she said, "it's okay! There are other kitties in boxes here too! Kitty in a box, meet kitty in a box."

headache

Nov. 6th, 2009 02:22 pm
Apparently I haven't posted on this thing since Labor Day. The longer the interval between posts, the more pressure I feel to come up with something really worth breaking the silence for. It's ridiculous, of course; it's just Livejournal, and not really constructed for Deep Thinking. The only way to break the silence is to go ahead and do it, after all; and I'm home sick today, with time on my hands.

My surface thoughts lately are full of the midterm elections, particularly the setback for gay marriage in Maine. I don't understand why civil rights issues get put up for voting at all, much less why people point to the results as indicative of anything other than a snapshot of levels of bigotry in any given geographic region. Civil rights issues shouldn't have to be approved by a majority of the populace. It's as valid as putting the issue of slavery up for a vote, back in the Antebellum days; of course you'd have legal slavery in the South. Doesn't make it right.

also, I'm feeling unwell. )

On an unrelated note: a friend is looking for a home for a stray cat. Sounds like he was abandoned; he's exceedingly sweet and friendly. Pictures here.
I came back from lunch and found my mouse was moving a bit slowly. Lifting the mouse to inspect it, I saw that a piece of masking tape was obscuring the laser. I peeled it off and thought briefly about revenge, but couldn't figure out which of my coworkers would have been responsible. I heard footsteps in the hall and quickly stuck the piece of tape under my desk.

what happened next )
I had a fun night at the climbing gym on Friday; I hadn't been out in a while and it was really great to be back on the walls. I made an absolute idiot of myself on the 5.9 on the crack, constantly having to get off the wall, backtrack, and look around. I just didn't have a good read on that climb; I was turned around on every single move. Naturally I can't wait to go back and try it again.

I also took a shot at the 5.8 on the pillar. I usually don't like getting up on the pillar, mostly because I hate bridging the gap between the pillar and the stalactite. I'm not afraid of being high up on the walls, but harness or no harness, I get a little dizzy when I'm on my toes on the pillar, and get an eyeful of the yawning emptiness between the pillar and the far wall. Still, when I swung out into space, I somehow got my left leg around a big friendly hold, and managed an exhilarating scramble onto the face. Finished off the night by flashing a V1. Good times.

Made it through the evening without so much as a bruise. Then, later in the weekend, I sliced my knuckle on a v-slicer, because I was an idiot and didn't use the safety holder. Kitchens are more dangerous than climbing gyms!

on travel

Jun. 25th, 2009 06:52 am
I have a king bed all to myself. And three sets of towels. I feel absurdly oversupplied.

I'm wondering what to do about the bath mat -- the towel that's usually draped over the edge of the tub. I like having the bath mat on the floor because the tiles are cold on my feet otherwise. But should I put it back on the edge of the tub? According to the "help save our planet" placard they've placed on the sink, leaving the towel on the rack means you don't need them to wash it right away; a towel on the floor means "yes, take it away and give me a new one." But what shall I do about the towel that *belongs* on the floor? I shall leave it here and observe the situation when I return.

They also have high speed wifi here, but they go about it by having something like fifteen different networks set up. It means that when I go from my room to the lobby, I have to log into a different network. I guess the whole hotel is too big to cover with just one? Or perhaps they want to keep it localized enough so that people can't mooch off it from the outside.

Oh, they have orange juice at the breakfast bar. Must remember to brush my teeth and then have OJ tomorrow, so I can replicate the salt experiment and satisfy the curious. (See previous entry for explanation.)

All right, off to the customer site. Hopefully I can find my way. I got very turned around last night as I was trying to find the exit to the hotel. I feel so lost when the GPS and my printed Google Map disagree.

quick post

Jun. 23rd, 2009 01:09 pm
Someone on Twitter posted a link to this same-sex marriage argument flowchart.

In unrelated news, I received a valuable piece of advice today. I had just finished eating a cookie, and went to drink orange juice; however, the juice tasted foul and sour following the cookie. I was told that eating a little bit of salt would fix this; dubiously, I complied. My tastebuds reset themselves, and accepted the OJ without a fuss. Amazing!
I was only ten when the Tiananmen Square protests were splashed all over the television, but I remember it vividly, partially because my parents were so focused on it. Actually, it was mostly my father. My mother cared, certainly, but she didn't make as big a deal about it as my dad.

ruminations on my father, and Tiananmen )

All of this is in my mind, as I watch events unfolding in Tehran; I'm tense, with hope and fear mixed. The students are so young, so hopeful and vulnerable. It's massed potential teetering at the edge of a cliff, in the form of human lives and human hearts, and no one can say which direction it will fall.
I was up hours earlier than usual this morning, which did not seem to faze the cats. Gray Cat jumped up on the bed when the alarm went off, not caring that it was much darker outside than normal, and proceeded to lick my elbows and bump his head against my face. Tortoiseshell Cat crouched at the foot of the bed and let me know that breakfast would be appreciated.

I wouldn't say the cats are friends yet, but they've established boundaries; whenever Gray Cat gets too close to Tortoiseshell Cat (or too close to her food), she lets out a yowl that starts out loud, gets lower and deeper, and ends in a long rumbling growl. When this happens, Gray Cat will put his ears and tail down, and move slowly and carefully away. Sometimes he hisses at her, just to show that he's not completely beaten. However, once he's outside her warning radius (about three feet, give or take), they seem to be able to coexist in the same room without undue fuss. I call it progress.

Today is Bloomsday; in celebration, I'm having Irish Breakfast tea, to which I added sugar and cream (yes, after sufficient time for infusion in the manner and the quantity prescribed). I wouldn't have known about Bloomsday but for Garrison Keillor, who recited Molly's soliloquy on the radio for Writer's Almanac this morning. There was something deeply strange about hearing Keillor's soft baritone saying "I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes." I mean, this man is the voice of Prairie Home Companion.

Happy Bloomsday, everyone. Go easy on the kidneys.
snippet from a meeting today...

Operations: Your instructions say to shrink the sleeving over the barrels of the lugs. Why?

Mech E: So we don't have a fire.
One of our big problems last year was finishing all the vegetables from the CSA share in time for the arrival of the next week's share. Last night we made it under the wire; K made ceviche for dinner, so I threw together a quick salad of romaine and radishes (raw radish for K, butter-braised for me), and prepped broccoli to take to lunch.

It was our first time making ceviche; K came up with the idea, since we had an overabundance of limes and it seemed appropriate. I juiced something like ten limes; he added chopped green onions and garlic and added just a bit of Chinese chili sauce. Then he stirred it with slices of tuna and tilapia, and popped the mixture in the fridge; in just the time it took to wash and chop the veggies, the fish had turned opaque and wonderfully tangy. Who knew it would be so easy? I'll definitely ask him to make it again.

cut for listing of CSA stuff and what was done with it )

The potatoes remain uneaten, but those can keep for awhile longer. I'm looking forward to this week's haul. Rumor has it that we might get Russian Red Kale, which I haven't tried before; I'll probably do the blanch-and-saute with the leaves, like normal kale. It's a pity kale stems are basically useless. I could save them for stock... but I generally end up throwing them out. We really should set up some sort of composting arrangement.
Book meme, because I'm a sucker for a good book meme, especially one that lets me ramble on. Gotten from [livejournal.com profile] p_sunshine.

book questionnaire meme )
omg this is awesome. IT IS A TRUTH universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. Never was this truth more plain than during the recent attacks at Netherfield Park, in which a household of eighteen was slaughtered and consumed by a horde of the living dead.

Check out the first three chapters of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

Hat tip: DB at Beer, Food, Geekitude.
Local photo nerds might be interested to know about the Make Your Own Morandi contest, prizes including a year's membership to the Phillips Collection. More details here.
I spent most of yesterday off my guard and getting April fooled over and over again. The NPR segment featuring listener letters about a whale farm had me completely convinced. Horrified, but convinced. In fact, I didn't become suspicious until they mentioned an upcoming segment involving Kindle popup lawsuits.

Tangentially related, this one didn't fool me for a minute, but I liked it a lot.

Thinking back on it, it was an appropriate day to see Cirque du Soleil's Kooza, which also involved a lot of foolery. I think I'm getting over my dislike of clowns. The slapstick humor wasn't all that bad, their body language was fantastic, and I really liked the timing of the jokes. They were actually refreshing. I definitely needed a break after the heartstopping Hamster Wheels of Doom.
We got on the plane yesterday at about 7AM Hawaiian time. The plane took off heading for Los Angeles, where we were intending to catch a plane back to DC. About 2.5 hours into the six-hour flight, the plane reversed course and headed back to Honolulu due to a passenger's medical emergency. They refueled the plane and sent it back on its way; after 12.5 hours in the plane, we finally alighted in LA. As we had missed our transfer by approximately six hours, we were given a hotel voucher, meal vouchers, and tickets for a flight leaving at 6:30AM local time. (United Airlines, feeling some guilt, gave us a snack box and some granola bars, so we weren't totally screwed calorie-wise.)

My father, who happened to be in LA visiting my uncle, asked if we wanted Chinese comfort food: rice, congee, noodles in soup. I thought they'd bring it by the hotel and agreed enthusiastically. Instead they picked us up and drove us across town to a place that was open 24 hours. Great food, and it was wonderful to see them, but we didn't get back to the hotel until 2:30 in the morning. We slept for an hour and are now back in LAX. Since I cannot seem to sleep, I will tell a gecko story.

and now for something completely different: a gecko story )
all right, technically it's the end of the sixth day in Hawaii, and I haven't recapped days one through three, but day four was a pretty fantastic one.

recap, with photos )
We went to Don Ho's Island Grill in Honolulu yesterday for some happy hour bar food. Here's what we ate:
- sausage fried rice (very flavorful and very generous with the sausage)
- "fresh island" poke (essentially a salad with some vinaigrette and sashimi)
- kalua pork sliders (how can you go wrong with pulled pork?)
- mozzarella sticks that looked as if they'd been tempura battered and fried
- nachos with cheese, salsa, and kalua pork

Very generous portions, too. They should have bar food like this everywhere.

The melting pot that is Hawaii cuisine owes much to Chinese and Japanese taste buds. You can buy bowls of rice or noodles everywhere, with your choice of savory meat accompaniment. I'm particularly charmed by Loco Moco, which is essentially rice with a beef patty and a fried egg, covered in gravy. It's like something my dad would throw together, comforting and delicious.

I'm so incredibly happy about the food here. The warm weather is nice too.

snuggie

Mar. 3rd, 2009 02:09 pm
I rotate my desktop wallpapers seasonally; there aren't any windows near my cube, so I like to have on my computer at least an approximation of what the weather might be like outside. I've had a snowy lamp-post picture up since it started getting cold last year, but it never really felt appropriate until now. What a lovely, thick white snow -- while I was out brushing powdery fluff off my car yesterday, the neighbor couldn't stop remarking on it. "This is beautiful," he kept saying, "it's so beautiful today."

I hadn't meant to take the day off, to be honest. I woke up on time, saw the snow, and decided I'd leave the house when the snow let up. I even went outside and cleaned off the car, in preparation for heading out. But instead of tapering off, the snow actually fell more and more thickly, until I finally threw in the towel around noon and called in. My workplace offers flexible work hours, and by gum I was going to be flexible. (This means working longer hours to make up for it later, but hey, at least I got to have a snow day.)

So instead of going to work, I sat at home with a cup of tea, did my taxes, bothered the cat, and caught up with some reading. Did a lot of shoveling, too; it was nice getting some physical activity outside. I like how snow simplifies the landscape; it coats over all the different colors and all you're left with is white snow, blue sky, brown trees: a three-color palette. I walked to the cafeteria today and was startled by the sheer whiteness of the light from the windows. I'd forgotten how snow-coated everything was.

The slight chill in my cubicle makes me wish I had a blanket, or a shawl. Or even, possibly, a Snuggie. (The Snuggie is a TV commercial product that K and I have been mocking ever since it first appeared. It's a fleece blanket with sleeves, essentially a robe that one can put on backwards. The commercial is hilarious. Look, it says, now you can wear a blanket and read a book! or work on a laptop! which are things that one can easily do with a normal blanket, but people apparently like sending in the cash to look like monks while lounging at home.) I mention it because the NYT recently had a reporter test the claim that the Snuggie is perfect for the outdoors. The picture slide show is pretty amusing too.
We had half a pound of ground beef left over in the fridge, so I decided to make this recipe for Cornish Pasties. I had a lamb-and-mint pasty from a stand at Covent Garden two summers ago, and I still think back fondly on the experience -- warm, flaky crust encasing a wonderfully savory filling. I figured I wasn't going to work miracles my first try, but I did want to give it a shot.

The pastry dough came together very easily, and smelled wonderful due to the bits of dried sage that were thrown in. My version was sadly lacking in potatoes; we had one lone Yukon Gold in the pantry, and it turned out to have a bad spot in the middle. I cut around it, but didn't quite manage to salvage a full portion of potato for the filling. The beef would just have to compensate.

My biggest problem actually turned out to be finding a five-inch round plate to use as a pasty stencil. K finally dug up a bowl that would serve, after I measured and discarded almost every other plate or bowl in the house. The specified 1/3 cup of filling per pasty was pure fantasy; ours wouldn't close up around that much filling and we had to make them smaller. K made a tasty fried rice with the leftover filling, so it didn't go to waste.

The pasties turned out nicely, pale gold and flaky on the outside, hot and steamy inside. I may have to play with the flavorings a little though; the version as given didn't quite work for me. Instead of thyme-mustard-Worcestershire, I'd probably start with a bit of soy sauce and curry, and go on from there. We'll see.

I was very proud of my pastry dough, but K pointed out that we'd save quite a lot of time by buying pre-made pie dough. I didn't like the suggestion at first (I want to be badass enough to make my own pie dough!) but he's right; if we're pressed for time it would be a lot faster to just get some dough out of the freezer and cut circles and make whatever variation on the theme of "dumpling" we're working on, than to go to all the trouble of getting the dough together, letting it chill before using, and rolling it out. It's good to be practical.
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