Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finding A Face in A Crowd

I think it's funny how often I can spot my sweetheart in a crowd. I'll see someone familiar out of the corner of my eye and there he is.
As we walk along a city street, it takes no effort to recognize the face of a friend in the crowd. But the ease of the feat masks its cognitive complexity—all faces have eyes, noses and mouths in the same relative place and can bear an array of emotional expressions. For decades, scientists have debated the basis for our facility with faces: either human brains evolved specialized face-processing machinery, distinct from regions that deal with other objects, or they process all objects using an expansive, multipurpose network, merely developing an expertise for faces. Two experiments have now clarified this perennial dispute by uncovering a distinct network that is indeed dedicated to faces.
Via Scientific American

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Grief Ghosts

A scientific explanation of ghosts. But what about scary ghosts like the ones in movies that rips your guts out? Are those a hallucination?
There are hints that the type of grief hallucinations might also differ across cultures. Anthropologists have told us a great deal about how the ceremonies, beliefs and the social rituals of death differ greatly across the world, but we have few clues about how these different approaches affect how people experience the dead after they have gone. Carlos Sluzki, the owner of the shadow cat and a cross-cultural researcher at George Mason University, suggests that in cultures of non-European origin the distinction between “in here” and “out there” experiences is less strictly defined, and so grief hallucinations may not be considered so personally worrying.
Via Scientific American

My Favorite Legume Destination

One of our favorite places to visit. We call it The Bean Store.
Tucked into an industrial park off Oregon 224 in Milwaukie, the Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store is the flagship of the 25-year-old company, which produces and markets all manner of flours and grains, legumes, nuts, dried fruit and spices. While you can buy Bob's Red Mill products in most markets around town, it's well worth a trip to the picturesque mill-themed store for the remarkable selection, specials and bulk purchases (25 pounds of beans, cornmeal or rye flakes?). I could have bought half the store, but I limited myself to a small haul of mixed cereals, beans and grains. And when you go, go hungry: Bob's has a full kitchen and prepares hearty -- and healthy -- meals for breakfast and lunch.
Via Oregonian

Turnip Love

My favorite vegetable, getting some love in the Oregonian. My favorite turnips are the tiny white ones in Spring. I use turnips in all the same places I use carrots: diced small for salad or diced big in hot dishes like soups.

Turnips may have an image problem, but it's undeserved. After all, almost anything you can do to a potato you can do to a turnip. Look for younger turnips, which have a more delicate and sweeter flavor.

The thought of turnips may not immediately get your tastebuds tingling, but it's a mistake to ignore this nutritious and versatile root.
Via Oregonian

Monday, December 1, 2008

There's No Magic: You Just Have to Do It

The characteristic most strongly linked to procrastination is conscientiousness—or lack thereof. A highly conscientious person is dutiful, organized and industrious. Therefore, someone who is not conscientious has a high probability of procrastinating. A person who is impulsive also is a procrastinator at risk. “People who are impulsive can’t shield one intention from another,” Pychyl says. So they are easily diverted by temptations—say, the offer of a beer—that crop up in the middle of a project such as writing a term paper.

Via Scientific American

I'm Just Distracted

Older brains do not think as quickly as younger brains do. But does this cognitive impairment arise because processing speeds slacken or because the ability to block out irrelevant information falters? A recent study reconciles these two leading hypotheses: older brains have a harder time ignoring distractions in the initial stages of performing a task, which slows down processing.

Via Scientific American

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Cool. But also I realized that almost every post recently has been related to getting old and/or dying so I had to find something different.
Traditionally, scientists have treated patternicity as an error in cognition. A type I error, or a false positive, is believing something is real when it is not (finding a nonexistent pattern). A type II error, or a false negative, is not believing something is real when it is (not recognizing a real pattern—call it “apatternicity”). In [Michael Shermer's] 2000 book How We Believe (Times Books), [he] argue[s] that our brains are belief engines: evolved pattern-recognition machines that connect the dots and create meaning out of the patterns that we think we see in nature. Sometimes A really is connected to B; sometimes it is not. When it is, we have learned something valuable about the environment from which we can make predictions that aid in survival and reproduction. We are the ancestors of those most successful at finding patterns. This process is called association learning, and it is fundamental to all animal behavior, from the humble worm C. elegans to H. sapiens.

via Scientific American

Please Let This Work

By my estimate I'll be looking at Alzheimer's about 2043.
In the U.S. some five million people have Alzheimer’s disease and 10 million boomers will be at risk for memory problems over their lifetime. Worldwide, more than 100 million people may have Alzheimer’s by the year 2050. As clinicians, we have learned to recognize that jokes about “old-timer’s disease” and “Teflon brain” are often calls for help from seniors worried about their memory lapses. Living longer is obviously no fun if you cannot remember your home address or drive a car. Although we have made tremendous progress in understanding brain changes that accompany aging and dementia, no medications have proven effective for preventing Alzheimer’s to date. In recent years, however, more evidence is pointing to a non-medical way to bolster brain health as we age: exercise.
via Scientific American

Houses of Hemp

Houses made of hemp, timber or straw could help combat climate change by reducing the carbon footprint of building construction, according to researchers at the University of Bath.

via Science Daily

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why Do We Forget Things?

In the past several decades, cognitive psychologists have determined that there are two primary memory systems in the human mind: a short-term, or "working," memory that temporarily holds information about just a few things that we are currently thinking about; and a long-lasting memory that can hold massive amounts of information gained through a lifetime of thoughts and experiences.

These two memory systems are also thought to differ in the level of detail they provide: working memory provides sharp detail about the few things we are presently thinking about, whereas long-term memory provides a much fuzzier picture about lots of different things we have seen or experienced. That is, although we can hold lots of things in long-term memory, the details of the memory aren’t always crystal-clear and are often limited to just the gist of what we saw or what happened.

Via Scientific American

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Dead Stuff

I'm a little fixated on death at the moment. Wonder what that's all about. When it comes to data collection, people aren't allowed to die of old age. Nope. There has to be a reason. It's so typical of our culture that official data collection treats death as something that went wrong rather than a natural outcome of being alive.
Neither should "infirmity" or "senescence" appear as a cause of death, according to the CDC handbook on how properly to fill out a death certificate. Why? These words "have little value for public health or medical research," the agency says. Plus, "Age is recorded elsewhere on the [death] certificate."


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And Then You Die

For a long time I was sure that there was more than this. Now I tend to think being dead is going to be exactly like before I was born. And back then I don't recall longing to be alive.

And yet people in every culture believe in an afterlife of some kind or, at the very least, are unsure about what happens to the mind at death. My psychological research has led me to believe that these irrational beliefs, rather than resulting from religion or serving to protect us from the terror of inexistence, are an inevitable by-product of self-consciousness. Because we have never experienced a lack of consciousness, we cannot imagine what it will feel like to be dead. In fact, it won’t feel like anything—and therein lies the problem.

The comments are good too:
Part of the problem is that for those who are dead, being dead represents the total antithesis for/what the term 'experience' means, the total lack of/ incapacity to experience. and therein lies the problem. How do you experience what can not be experienced? You can't.
Via Scientific American

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Moving the Earth to Survive

Pardon me if I'm not optimistic.
The Sun is slowly getting warmer as it burns the hydrogen in its core. In about 5 billion years, the Sun will begin evolving into a bloated red giant. Its outer gas shell will swell up, engulfing the Earth by the time it reaches its peak size and brightness 7 billion years from now.
* * *
Elementary physics tells us that we actually can move the planets. Launching a rocket into space pushes the Earth a bit in the opposite direction, like the recoil from a gun.

Via New Scientist

Guess I'm Never Going to the Sundarban Islands

Did I ever mention my irrational fear of being eaten alive by an animal?
The number of tiger attacks on people is growing in India's Sundarban islands as habitat loss and dwindling prey caused by climate change drives them to prowl into villages for food, conservation experts say.

Wildlife experts say endangered tigers in the world's largest reserve are turning on humans because rising sea levels and coastal erosion are steadily shrinking the tigers' natural habitat.

Via New Scientist

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Randomness Rules the World

I've read this article at least three times and find it fascinating. But I don't get it.
Imagine that you are a contestant on the classic television game show Let’s Make a Deal. Behind one of three doors is a brand-new automobile. Behind the other two are goats. You choose door number one. Host Monty Hall, who knows what is behind all three doors, shows you that a goat is behind number two, then inquires: Would you like to keep the door you chose or switch? Our folk numeracy—our natural tendency to think anecdotally and to focus on small-number runs—tells us that it is 50–50, so it doesn’t matter, right?

Wrong. You had a one in three chance to start, but now that Monty has shown you one of the losing doors, you have a two-thirds chance of winning by switching. Here is why. There are three possible three-doors configurations: (1) good, bad, bad; (2) bad, good, bad; (3) bad, bad, good. In (1) you lose by switching, but in (2) and (3) you can win by switching. If your folk numeracy is still overriding your rational brain, let’s say that there are 10 doors: you choose door number one, and Monty shows you door numbers two through nine, all goats. Now do you switch? Of course, because your chances of win??ning increase from one in 10 to nine in 10. This type of counterintuitive problem drives people to innumeracy, including mathematicians and statisticians, who famously upbraided Marilyn vos Savant when she first presented this puzzle in her Parade magazine column in 1990.

Via Scientific American

Exploitation of the Ignorant

How do politicians get away with [bending the truth]? Ignorance is part of the answer. Many voters will never read the newspaper article or watch the news broadcasts that reveal the true situation. But psychology is also at work. The short cuts that we use to make sense of the world shape our perception of it. When it comes to politics, this can lead voters to reach the wrong conclusions about candidates, even when they have been exposed to the truth. Could it be that politicians and their strategists are harnessing this phenomenon?

Via New Scientist

Avoiding Turbulence.

As a nervous flier, this is technology I can embrace.
IT STRIKES without warning and can jangle the nerves of even seasoned air travellers - but maybe not for much longer. Clear air turbulence just got a lot easier to predict and avoid.

Two types of turbulence affect aircraft. The first, caused by storms, high winds or the flow of air over mountains, is fairly predictable. Clear air turbulence (CAT) is a different matter: "The skies are clear and blue, everything looks fine, but there is invisible turbulence there and pilots fly through it," says Paul Williams at the University of Reading, UK. As a result, CAT causes hundreds of injuries a year to airline passengers.

via New Scientist

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Indian Mascots

The mascots don't bother me as much as the double-standard. Can you imagine a sports team called the Mexicans? The Jews? If someone suggested it, heads would roll.

It's unsettling to watch someone who is not Native American present their interpretation of a culture they are not a part of for entertainment value. The majority if these mascots throw on some buckskin, beads, war paint and prance around the field and consider that authentic.
Via Baylor Lariat

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time To Open A Bar

This is an article about a mozzarella bar opening in NYC. I love fresh mozzarella and I acknowledge that I've probably never even had the real deal so I bet I'd love this. It just sounds funny to me. Like what if I started a dried fruit bar or a pinto beans bar?


New Trend: "Positive Eating"

The stupid article patrol has taking over today’s Dining In (NYT).
AFTER decades of obsessing about fat, calories and carbs, many dieters have made the unorthodox decision to simply enjoy food again.
That doesn’t mean they’re giving up on health or even weight loss. Instead, consumers and nutritionists say they are seeing a shift toward “positive eating” — shunning deprivation diets and instead focusing on adding seasonal vegetables, nuts, berries and other healthful foods to their plates.

As of 8am Pacific time there are 131 comments confirming that this crazy “positive eating” thing works. NYT

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Freshman Fifteen

When I was a girl it was the Freshman Five but for me it was more like the freshman 20 and I didn't lose for a long time after.
When fall classes at the University of California, San Diego begin on Sept. 25, freshmen will be on their own for the first time to spend endless hours on the computer, play video games and eat whatever they want, a recipe for weight gain. However, several UC San Diego wellness, weight-management and counseling programs will help students beat the dreaded “freshmen fifteen.”

Via Science Daily

Mandatory Organ Donations?

It is a problem faced by countries the world over. How do you close the gap between demand for human organs for transplantation and the number of people willing to donate them?

Such is the scale of the problem in the UK, where less than half of the 8000 people needing a transplant each year receive one, that the government is considering changing the law to presumed consent - so that everyone is a potential donor unless they opt out.
Via New Scientist

But Who Decides What's "Too Much"?

More than 15 million Americans drink too much, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. New research on rats may help them curb that addiction.

At present, there are three approved drugs for battling alcoholism, none of which work very well. Among them: naltrexone, which is effective for some alcoholics (as well as opiate addicts) because it blocks a pain pathway in the brain associated with the pleasures of drinking.

Via Scientific American

Never Enough Mad Cow Disease

Oops. Neglecting this blog.

At last, who gets tired of Mad Cow Disease?
New findings about the causes of mad cow disease show that sometimes it may be genetic.
Via Science Daily

And! There's a new form that could infect humans! Faster than ever!
JUST when it looked as if we had mad cow disease licked, a new threat may be lurking down on the farm - bovine amyloidic spongiform encephalopathy. First discovered in Italian cows in 2003, BASE has infected a monkey, suggesting that the disease may also be capable of spreading to humans. Alarmingly, the disease took hold - and killed - the monkey faster than strains of classical BSE and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human version of mad cow disease, injected into other monkeys as part of the same experiment.

Via New Scientist

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Washingtonian's Best and Worst of Congress

Check out the results of this survey about members of Congress. Includes categories like nicest, meanest and biggest jock. Some samples:


Falling Star
1. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)
2. Larry Craig (R-Id.)
3. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)

Republicans stuffed the ballot box for Clinton.


1. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)
2. John Boehner (R-Ohio)
3. Ralph Hall (R-Tex.)

Frank wins in a landslide. Should voters worry that the architect of mortgage-assistance bills is given to one-liners? “A funny thing happened on the way to foreclosure. . . .”

From Washingtonian via my new favorite RSS feed:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mind Voodoo and Weight-Loss

Based on my personal experience, I've always thought there was a mind-voodoo component to weight-loss.
Simply by telling 44 hotel maids that what they did each day involved some serious exercise, the Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer and Alia J. Crum, a student, were apparently able to lower the women’s blood pressure, shave pounds off their bodies and improve their body-fat and “waist to hip” ratios. Self-awareness, it seems, was the women’s elliptical trainer.
Source: NYT via Metafilter

Extreme Ironing

I'd settle for a man ironing in my living room.
Extreme ironing might be the coolest sport that didn't make it into the Olympics this year. Started over a decade ago by UK knitwear factory worker Phil Shaw, it requires four simple criteria: a man, an iron, an ironing board, and a crazy natural environment that makes people think, holy crap I can't believe he's ironing on that thing! Shaw calls extreme ironing "the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt."


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Elected Officials: Focused on the Real Problems

This is real. You can look it up on Thomas: H.Con.Res.404
Supporting the goals and ideals of Complaint Free Wednesday:

Whereas the average person complains approximately 15 to 30 times per day, resulting in approximately 4,570,350,000 complaints per day in the United States;

Whereas people complain in order to negatively get attention from others, avoid taking action, pre-excuse poor performance, brag, or exercise control over others;

Whereas complaining damages a person’s health, relationships, and ability to solve underlying problems;

Whereas violence usually begins with complaining by expressing grief, pain, or discontent;

Whereas it is not complaining if a person acts proactively to resolve an issue;

Whereas ‘A Complaint Free World’ is an organization that encourages people to wear purple bracelets as a symbolic reminder to change a person’s complaining nature;

Whereas ‘A Complaint Free World’ has delivered approximately 5,439,532 purple bracelets to people throughout the world;

Whereas ‘A Complaint Free World’ hopes to inspire 1 percent of the world’s population to have a positive attitude;

Whereas supporters of this movement have worked with thousands of schools in the United States through the Complaint Free program and have achieved amazing results in creating positive attitudes; and

Whereas Complaint Free Wednesday will be observed on the day before Thanksgiving, providing each person in the United States a day free from complaining in order to prepare for a day of gratitude: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress -

(1) supports the goals and ideals of Complaint Free Wednesday;

(2) encourages each person in the United States to remember that having a positive life begins with having a positive attitude; and

(3) recognizes and reaffirms the meaning of Thanksgiving by asking each person in the United States to use Complaint Free Wednesday to refrain from complaining and prepare for a day of gratitude.

Jim Thorpe, greatest athlete of all time

Every four years when someone does something remarkable in the Olympics, he suddenly becomes the greatest athlete of all time.

But speaking of history, let’s go back to the time of Jacobus Franciscus Thorpe.

Better known as Jim Thorpe, this [Sac and Fox Indian from Oklahoma] had a pretty impressive resume.

Let’s see … he won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon during the 1912 Stockholm Games.

As a football player he was a running back, defensive back, kicker and punter for his college team, the Carlisle Indians.


He also participated in baseball, basketball, lacrosse and track while in college, excelling at all of them.

He went on to play in the National Football League, earning All-Pro honors one season and being named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1920s.

Thorpe played two seasons of professional baseball, and even found time to play pro basketball, starring for a barnstorming team made up entirely of [Indians].

Oh yeah, he was also a ballroom dancer. And I don’t mean just some guy who could cut a rug while trying to impress the opposite sex, but one who actually won the 1912 intercollegiate ballroom dancing championship.
By Scott Adamson at Independent Mail.Com (via

Sleep Deprived High

This explains a few things about being at Clarion West.
People who are sleep-deprived often report getting a "second wind" where they suddenly wake up and feel great — though they are still too fatigued to do any major problem-solving. A group of researchers have discovered there's a good reason for this. Sleep deprivation floods your brain with dopamine, the very same hormone that amphetamines like crystal meth shoot into your neural receptors.
Source: io9

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How Accurate Are Stories in the News?

"No one was ultimately harmed (physically, anyway - a couple of folks had their lives upended, though) in this incident, which is certainly a good thing. But the frenzy around it was unsettling to me; as soon as it was published (including some really stupid factual errors) the story was around the world and it made me wonder: how accurate are the stories I know nothing about but read all the time? If something as small as this could have errors in it (some of which I won't go into as they really should be kept in the courtroom, as far as I'm concerned) because of a feeding frenzy does that bode well for our acceptance of everything else we read in the Oregonian or hear on the Today show? A small example: somewhere, somebody got the idea the video was taken with a cell phone and you can tell from the headlines that the media thought this was a cool concept."

Source: Roadrage Incident

Searching for Red Nuggets

I don't understand this but I bet it's really cool.
Astronomers continue to puzzle over the recent discovery of a strange population of dense, compact galaxies that existed in the early universe but are nowhere to be seen today. They suspect the galaxies somehow puffed up into the bloated behemoths we see around us, but new research shortens the timescale during which this mysterious swelling could have happened.

In April, astronomers reported finding extremely compact galaxies as far back as 10 billion years ago, or 3.7 billion years after the big bang. The galaxies contained the same number of stars as modern, blob-shaped galaxies known as ellipticals – but were two to three times smaller on average.

Now, observations have turned up compact galaxies roughly a billion years later, when the universe was almost 5 billion years old. Some, dubbed 'red nuggets', are extremely compact – weighing as much as modern ellipticals, but measuring as little as a tenth their size.
Source: New Scientist

Stem Cells From Menstrual Blood Save Limbs

Stem cells derived from human menstrual blood have, in mice, prevented limbs with restricted blood flow from withering. Trials in humans facing amputations are expected to start next year.

Now Thomas Ichim, of MediStem, and his team have published a proof-of-principle study in mice, showing that the endometrial stem cells revitalise damaged limbs in much the same way that bone-marrow-derived stem cells do.

Source: New Scientist

Monday, August 18, 2008

Anti-Gaming Group Pursues Appeal to Supreme Court

My Prediction: The Indians Win
"The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, has been seeking to establish a reservation since gaining federal recognition in 1998. But a group called Michigan Gambling Opposition tied up the tribe's land-into-trust application with a lawsuit against the Bush administration.

Seizing on the dissenting opinion of one of President Bush's judicial nominees, MichGO is now asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the land-into-trust provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934."


Federal Judge Recognizes Treaty Rights

I hate to see tribe against tribe in stuff like this.
The Wenatchi Band of Washington has fishing rights at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, a federal judge ruled last Tuesday.

The Yakama Nation had won an injunction that prevented the Wenatchi Band from fishing at the hatchery. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in December 2006 lifted the injunction and ordered a trial on the merits.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Around the globe, Klein finds examples of how the implementation of what she's coined "the shock doctrine" is used to exploit a public reeling from natural or man-made disasters to implement economic and social policies to which they would never have otherwise submitted.

Source: A.V. Club ( via: metafilter)

Tips For Better Meetings

"Every meeting has a start time and an end time. That means it starts on time and ends on time. If someone is chronically late to meetings, the others must bring peer pressure to bear on that individual. If most of a company's executives exhibit this trait, then find another company. It's a sign of immaturity and disrespect for others.

Every meeting is run by someone who is responsible for every aspect of the meeting including agenda, attendance, punctuality, and documentation. That person keeps everyone on topic and moves the meeting along using the methods described below.

Key decisions that are reached during the meeting regarding strategies, plans or objectives should be published by whoever ran the meeting within one day. That also goes for follow-up or action required and an owner for each item."

Source: CNET

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tribes Don't Want Fire Crews in Sacred Sites

I don't know what to think about this. I wish I knew more about fire fighting.
Tribes in northern California don't want fire crews trampling on sacred sites and fishing grounds in the Six Rivers National Forest.

The Karuk Tribe, the Yurok Tribe and the Tolowa Tribe say federal officials should let the 9,400-acre Blue 2 and the 62,000-acre Siskiyou Complex fires burn naturally. They worry that containment fires could ending up causing more damage than necessary.


AP Story: here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Brightly-Colored Bugs Sit on Medicinally-Active Plants

"If you're poisonous, it's to your advantage to advertise that to your predators," says Capson. But to him, the bright colours tell an entirely different tale. "What it's telling us is: 'You should go ahead and sample the plant I'm eating to search for pharmaceutical compounds'," he says.

Capson's team decided to test their theory in the forests of Panama. They chose 10 plants which they knew contained medicinal compounds, and 10 non-medicinal plants which looked very similar to them. In four national parks, they searched for the plants in their natural environment and recorded the number of bright insects on their leaves as they went.

Source: New Scientist

Free Topos Maps from USGS

"However there is another way to print free topos. You can download, for free, a high resolution PDF file of any US topo map made. These are the same maps that the Google Earth app is using, but here they are dished out one by one in PDF format. Go to the USGS Map Locator page, and search for the quad you want. You can type in an "street" address just like in Google. Click on the appropriate miniature map and then choose which scale map of the area you want to download. The PDF files of the standard 7.5 minute topo map will be between 6 and 16 megs. You'll need Photoshop or equivalent to crop and size them. Be prepared to use some heavy duty processing power. These are big, very detailed maps."

Source: Cool Tools

Forest Service Winning Fight to Make Reclaimed Wastewater Snow on Tribal Sacred Lands

I should probably read the decision before ranting about it but it's over 100 pp. and I don't have time right now. I've been following the case and I find it difficult to believe that it's gone as far as it has.

Why is USFS using reclaimed wastewater to make snow anywhere? This is a sacred place to the Tribes, they don't want reclaimed wastewater sprayed around. That should be the end of it.

Can you imagine going to a church, temple or synagogue and saying: "Hey, we're going to power-wash this place with reclaimed waste water"?
"In Navajo Nation v. US Forest Service, an en banc panel of the court ruled that the U.S. Forest Service did not violate the religious rights of tribes by allowing the use of reclaimed wastewater to make snow in the sacred San Francisco Peaks of Arizona. A three-judge panel had previously ruled in favor of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe and other tribes in the Southwest that use the site for ceremonies and other purposes."


Navajo Nation v. US Forest Service

Sunday, August 10, 2008


"If you're a fan of dinosaurs, the premise of British series Primeval will immediately appeal to you. Airing for the first time in the U.S. tonight, Primeval is the story of a glittering portal that opens in Gloucestershire's Forest of Dean — a portal that connects a Jurassic desert with contemporary England."

Source: io9

Olympics: Fasted Pool?

"The Water Cube pool is close to 10 feet deep. That's 3 feet deeper than the pools of the past. The lane lines that separate swimmers are called wave eaters because they dissipate turbulent water. The goal is to make the water as flat and clear as possible, despite the churning that swimmers create.

An indoor setting also helps, along with temperature, humidity and lighting control. Wide decks with seats sharply cascading back give swimmers an uncrowded sense of space. That can energize athletes, like American Dara Torres, who calls the pool "awesome."

Source: NPR

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Orwell Prize organization will, starting today, post George Orwell's diary entries online exactly 70 years after they were written.

Source: slashdot

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Left-Hander To Rule America

Four (including me) of my Clarion West class are lefties.

"WHETHER Barack Obama or John McCain triumphs in November, the victor will be the eighth left-handed president of America. While making up just 10% of the general populace, 18% of American presidents have been lefties, perhaps given extra drive by centuries of persecution."

Source: The Economist

Spain has introduced measures that include paying jobless immigrants to go home.

"Faced with a 10.7 percent unemployment rate, [Spain] has announced a plan that would pay jobless immigrants to return to their home countries. The Catalan regional government, among the most progressive in Spain, has authorized a program that would temporarily segregate newly arrived immigrant children from non-European countries in special schools designed to better prepare them for integration into the regular educational system. The government is expending greater resources on preventing migrant-laden boats from reaching Spanish shores, and more frequently deporting those who do land."

Source: CS Monitor

The First Test Tube Orphan

"[The first test tube orphan] came about when a Japanese couple got divorced, after paying a surrogate mother in India to give birth to their child, who was conceived using in vitro fertilisation.

Since the split, Yuki Yamada, the baby girl's biological mother who was due to adopt her, is no longer interested, nor is the surrogate mother who carried the child. And, as a single man, Ikufumi Yamada is not legally allowed to adopt the 11-day old baby. So, she remains in the hospital in Jaipur City where she was born. Mr Yamada's mother is looking after the baby in hospital, but cannot take her out of India without adoption papers and a passport."

Source: New Scientist

Paternity Tests on Mummy Fetuses

"Egyptian scientists are doing DNA tests on stillborn children found in Tutankhamun's tomb in the hope of confirming if they are the pharoah's offspring and confirming his family tree."

Source: New Scientist

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rank Possible Advanced Civilizations According To Energy Consumption

By Dr. Michio Kaku

"A. A Type I civilization is truly planetary, using up all the energy from their sun which lands on their planet. They might, for example, be able to control all forms of planetary energy, such as controlling the weather and the power of hurricanes and volcanoes.

B. A Type II civilization has mastered stellar power, using up all the energy released from their mother star. They use up 10 billion times more energy than a Type I civilization. A typical example might be the Federation of Planets in Star Trek, which has harnessed the energy from only a tiny sliver of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

C. A Type III civilization is galactic, harnessing 10 billions more energy than a Type II civilization. They roam freely across the galactic space lanes. A typical example might be the Borg on Star Trek, or the Empire of the Star Wars series, or the Empire of Asimov’s Foundation Series."

Source: The Most Important Generation in History is the One Now Alive

Chard Stuffed With Risotto and Mozzarella

Chard Stuffed With Risotto and Mozzarella.

"... not that difficult to make but gorgeously scented and flavored[.]"

Source: Mark Bittman

Unlocking the Power of Ice

By Harold McGee

"When we remove enough heat from water that its molecules stop moving from one point to another and just jiggle in place, they begin to bond to one another and form solid crystals of ice. In plain water, this freezing process happens at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. And the freezer has to extract a lot of heat to make it happen. To turn a tray of 32-degree water into 32-degree ice, it removes an amount of heat that would bring the same tray of water all the way from 180 degrees down to 32 degrees.

That’s why ice cubes are so effective at cooling drinks. Ice doesn’t just suck out a degree’s worth of water heat when it melts, it sucks out about 80 times that much."

Source: New York Times

The Next Technical Revolution Will Happen In Space

By Sir Richard Branson

"The problem we now face is not the technology but getting it up there in a safe, reliable and cheap way with minimal environmental impact. Large non-reusable rockets launched from the ground based on designs dating back to the 1940s are not the answer to the urgent industrialization of space that we need to achieve.

I believe the answer will come from the private sector working with and also independent of agencies like NASA to bring new materials and engine technologies of aviation into space."

Source: How You Can Save The World

Sherman Alexie on Sonics Trial

I do not follow basketball at all but I'm a big Sherman Alexie fan and I love coverage of his testimony in the Sonics Trial.

Sixty-One Things I Learned During the Sonics Trial

By Sherman Alexie

"4. The sportswriters who hated my testimony or press conference subsequently overwrote their stories in cute attempts to outwrite me. Relax, guys, you ain't ever gonna be better than me. Or I. Or me. Or I. Shoot, I can never remember which pronoun I'm supposed to use."

Source: The Stranger

Friday, June 6, 2008

Another classic shot from the 60's. I'm the one in the red dress.

Remember the Beverly Hills diet? I thought about it because I just peeled and ate an entire (huge carbon footprint) mango. It was delicious.

The Beverly Hills diet was where you ate only one fruit for a whole day. Like one day you'd eat only pineapple. But you could eat as much as you want. Do you have any idea what that does to the inside of your mouth?

I think other days you could eat different fruits for different meals. Like for breakfast as much mango as you want and for lunch as many strawberries as you want.

I'm doing this all from memory so this may not be a 100% correct representation of the diet. Do not begin without consulting your doctor.

If you've ever eaten nothing but fruit for a day you can imagine what this does to your digestive system. Nothing dawdles in there for long.

One other thing I remember was that the diet recommended air-popped popcorn as a "natural broom for the system." Like your system needed a broom after eating pineapple all day. It's hard to imagine that diet was ever appealing but as I recall it was all the rage and you'd see the book with its little gold pineapples on the cover in every bookstore window.

If you're curious, has over 500 copies for cheap.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Ships Come In

It's Rose Festival in Portland and that means cold drippy weather and the ships come in.

And this is the best I have to offer.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The List


The guy in the newspaper says these flowers are edible. I see no reason to doubt him but I'm not sure how to serve them.

I've been working on a writing project which means that everything else has been abandoned. Except the garden. I put in some good time on weeds and edging and more weeds and I re-planted a bunch of dahlias that I dug up last fall. I probably should have given them away but I dug a trench and tossed in some bone meal and put the moldy blobs in there. I also did some creative vandalism and dug up some of my next door neighbor's weeds and planted some bulbs over there.

Future Raspberries

Doctor Who is really bumming me out. I had a disk of three episodes I missed from last season and I hated them all. There was a two part Dalek one that was doody and another one about a ship falling into the sun which also was pretty lame. And for the new season I don't like the new companion who seems like a whiner. I wish Torchwood would start up again.

Future Apple

I didn't have time to watch the season finale of Lost yet. I can't believe that myself. Battlestar Galactica peeled my face off. It's a great show in the sense that no one does anything that you want them to.

I did clean the interior of my car which I know will be rewarding when I sit there tomorrow on my way to work.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Here's the second half of the filing, plus that box in the left has filing in it. I somehow need to get all of this done before June 20. Wouldn't it be great it filing was like moving and you could buy a bunch of pizza and beer and get all your friends to help you?


This week's episode of Battlestar Galactica was fabulous but I'm having a hard time with Number 8's wardrobe. Seriously, capri pants?

Friday, May 16, 2008

This is part one of my filing at the office. There are four more piles almost equal to this on a table behind the photographer.

I have confidence that some day, maybe this weekend, I will come up with a decent post.

After another long busy week, today is a major goof-off day. I'm going to have a massage and then I'm going to see the new Narnia movie.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Someone Else's Bad News
I'm apparently trapped in some sort of time warp since I've been on the wrong date since Saturday. On Monday there was a moment where I had to whack my head against the desk trying to clarify which day we were on. Usually on Mondays I have it together.

I just got back from the restroom and noticed I have terrible VPL today. (There's a giant mirror in there.) I'm celebrating by finishing off this box of Wheat Thins (Big).

A couple of weeks ago (at home) we received some mail addressed to 2 names we've never heard of but with our address hand written on the envelope. It was from a property management company and the best I could tell without opening it, it was an eviction notice. I assumed they'd written the address wrong and marked return to sender.

I didn't think too much about it except last week we got a piece of mail addressed to someone else (I don't know if it's the same person because I didn't pay attention the first time) and from what I could tell by shaking it around and trying to see in that window on the front, it was about a returned check. There was a return address but no business name. Maybe the bank? I made a note of the name this time before returning to sender.

It's hard to imagine the two items aren't related and I'm wondering if this is the beginning of some sort of pain in the ass for us or just a random data misfire.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stinging Workers

This weekend I did a bit of research on yellowjackets and I found the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Is it real? Here is part of it:

2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.x Honey bee and European hornet: Like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin.

I was stung by a yellowjacket a long time ago and it hurt really bad. I was a fully formed adult at the time and I'm not excessively wimpy about pain and I really wanted to sit down and cry. Even though the sound of wailing children is really annoying, don't you sometimes envy them? Haven't you ever been tired and rundown and nothing is going the way you want it to and wished you could just throw your head back and shriek in the middle of the grocery store? I know I have.

I'm glad adults don't do this because the social boundaries that keep everyday life tolerable are disintegrating fast enough as it is. There was an article in the NYT on Sunday about how liberating young people find it to talk about how much money they make with each other. Good for them. I don't talk about how much money I make with my husband. I think the world is just fine with things people don't talk about. Have you ever had one of those awkward conversations where someone you met 5 minutes ago starts telling you about their cysts?

Hm, I'm getting off track here. Back to the stingy thing: for some reason I thought that honeybee stings were negligible. I guess I've never been stung by one.

I finished another story this weekend which was why I did the yellowjacket research. It's hard to have a meal outside at my folks' house because of the yellowjackets but the university extension had a great tip which involved hanging a fish over a tub of water. I can't wait to try it.

This has nothing to do with my story. The story is one I've worked on and off on for quite some time and it's not a terrible story but I'm not sure it's especially creative or has a point but I'm trying to get in the habit of finishing things. Somewhere I have a quote from Ray Bradbury where he said he'd written at least 600 stories but only published 150 (made up numbers because I don't know where the quote is and besides, it's probably 20 years old and he's probably written another 600 stories since then) and he was still learning. At the rate I'm going, it'll take me 85 years to hit 600 stories.

Monday, April 28, 2008

We Got the Beet

I know this is a photo of carrots and doesn't match my title but I usually never plant carrots and these were so cute that I had to try them.

Yesterday I put a garden in. I'm know I'm going to be gone for six weeks but I can't do nothing. I did decide to skip the tomatoes, mostly because Sunset magazine reminded me that you aren't supposed to plant them in the same place every year. I don't plant them in the exact same spot but always in the same general plot so maybe a year off would be good for everyone.

The other reason I went ahead and planted is I bought a bunch of seeds before I knew I would be gone. Plus I found a stash from last year which included about 5 envelopes of beet seeds. I mixed a ton of beet, turnip, carrot, chard and lettuce green seeds in a little plastic dish and then scattered them over half the garden. Then I went to find a rake. When I came back there was already a cheeky bird, going to town. I raked everything around.

Then I went and found all my peas and lemon cucumbers. The past two or three years these have done nothing for me so I planted them all in the hope something will take. I used the same scatter method. I have cages but there are tons of wasps around the shed and I'm afraid to go in there right now so I haven't set the cages out for the peas, should they decide to grow.

If you've arrived at this post looking for gardening advice, I'd suggest you move on. I don't think you'll find anything to help you here.

I raked the whole plot and shoved a few wayward seeds under with my fingers and went in the house and announced to Bob that just about the time I leave he will have all the turnips and beets he can handle. This is a joke because Bob will eat vegetables but the idea of him harvesting root vegetables from the backyard is ridiculous. At least the bugs will have something to eat.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Half Dome

Half Dome

I've been to Yosemite two times. The first time I was very small. How old do I look in this photo? A few months? My Tante Hilla came from Germany and they all did a trip of California-y things. I know they also went to Hearst Castle. Or we, I should say. I've only been to Hearst Castle that one time and remember, well, nothing.

This was in 1964 so make sure to dig the little bit of the cars you can see. As I was preparing this it occurred to me that this was probably Tante Hilla's first visit to California and the occasion was to see me.

Half Dome

We went again when I was in high school. There's no major point I'm making here, just falling back on old photos for today's content.

In other news, I just clued in to the fact that Prince Capsian comes out on May 16. That's less than one month away. I thought I had to wait until December.

To celebrate I did a quick detour to watch the official trailer, fan teaser (first typed fan taser, I think there's a joke in there somewhere), production blog (nice accent, sounds like Narnier), moneybags slap themselves on the back promo, and the dreamy Prince Caspian promo. Didn't the book Prince Caspian have the faintest whiff of wuss? I must remember that wrong.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tulip Bandit Strikes Again

This is what we saw when we got home from the grocery store last night.

I can't believe I thought tulips didn't last very long. These have been going strong for at least a couple of weeks although they're looking a tad straggly at this point. It's hard not to think someone is messing with me.

Here's the before photo again.

 I don't know what to think. These flowers are right by my front door. My neighbor has a big patch of pretty tulips in her yard right by the street. I checked and no one has been picking any of those. If it was kids, why would they just target these?

I'm not really outraged as much as curious. Did the same person come back for more or did someone else see these and think they needed to take some home? I haven't seen any in this color around. I'm going to dig them up in the fall and put them out back with the pink ones. I'll get some more daffodils for the front.

This morning I did a tons of errands. I put on my work clothes so I could pick up some manure and stuff for the garden that I'm planting even though I'm going to be gone for 6 weeks. I know the weather is supposed to be doodoo all weekend but I figured there would be time to sneak out and do a little work.

Right when I got to the garden store it started pouring rain and everything was covered and I said screw it. Better luck next weekend.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Every night when I get home from work (assuming it's still light out and not raining sideways), I got to my flower bed and admire my flowers. I often go to the backyard, too. Why grow them if you're not going to enjoy them?

Tonight was I was startled to find this:

What? You don't see the problem? Count the flowers.

Now here's my shot from Sunday:

Yes! There is a tulip bandit on the loose in my neighborhood.

What giant turdhead.
I told the writers group I would give them a draft of my story by last night, no matter what, so they'd have enough time to review before our meeting Saturday. I'm not a perfectionist but I don't like to throw something out there if I feel it isn't ready. It was a good lesson in how hard I can push myself when motivated. The story is thin in spots but it has a beginning, a middle and an end and I stuck to my self-imposed deadline.

I very rarely write after work, especially days like yesterday which was very busy and research intensive. I was tired and fuzzy headed but as soon as I got home I went to the computer and hammered away. Later I did my taxes on my dinner break. It's nice when you can surprise yourself.

I often hear writers talk about having a daily word goal. I've even seen widgets on blogs for tracking word counts.

Word counting, in terms of a daily goal, doesn't work for me since I have very little trouble writing words. That can't be a big surprise if you're here. The 13th of this month is my 12 year anniversary of starting my website and for the most part it's all original words.

The discipline for me is sticking with it until the story and characters work and sometimes that means writing in circles for a little while. (Or longer.)

A typical writing cycle for me goes: get new idea, rabid excitement, research and tons of writing, get stuck, dread the writing chair, avoid writing, hate myself for avoiding it, despair, force myself to go back to it, find what interested me in the first place, finish story.

For the record, there's a bale of stuff in my files that's still waiting for the part that comes after "despair."

Some writers talk about outlining first and others talk about just sitting down and writing it and see what comes out. I do both. I write a bunch and then sit back and look at what I'm doing and where I'm going and try to map things out a bit and then jump back in and write some more.

The story I finished this week is one where I knew how I wanted it to end but wasn't sure how I was going to get there and who I was going to take with me. Last Friday I worked all day especially on the protagonist. But later as I was thinking about the story, I realized that this wasn't the right protagonist for this story.

Saturday I scrapped more than half of what I already had and started all over with a new take on my protagonist and worked with that until last night when I got to the end.

The story before this one I had a title I really liked but no idea what was going to happen. At first the story that came out didn't fit the title. Also I had intended to use it for my Clarion West submission so I was trying to fit it into a specific length. In the end, I made it fit the title and keeping it shorter eliminated a stupid side part that wasn't working so I guess the advice is: find what works best for you and trust your instincts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

 There's A Party in My Paella
I've never made paella before so my strategy was to read as many recipes as I could find and then distill them into the easiest possible procedure. I ended up printing out 4 recipes that looked promising.

I worked on my story all day Sunday and the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was cook something more complicated than frozen pizza but I had all the ingredients and I was hungry so I went for it. None of the recipes was easy and they all seemed to demand that I get a lot of pans dirty and so a lot of processes and I was having none of that. Try to spot my short cuts.

I warmed up my new pan and, in this order, I threw in: chopped onion and red bell pepper, cubed chicken breasts, chopped spicy Italian sausage (no chorizo and I didn't want to go to another store) and then a half bag of Trader Joe's frozen mixed seafood surprise which what they get at the end of a fishing expedition when they clean out the bottom of the boat.

I realized I should have saved the vegetables for later but never fear. When done, I scraped all this stuff into a bowl and set aside in the warm oven and then made the sofrito which is onions, garlic, tomatoes and in my case, the last 3 spoonfuls of salsa in the container because it needed to be finished up. Once that smelled delicious I added my rice and mixed everything together and then added my saffron infused Swanson's chicken broth. I had bought smoked Spanish paprika specifically because I thought I needed it for paella and none of my recipes called for it so I added 1 teaspoon.

I waited until the cooked rice started pushing up in the middle of the pan and then spread the meat mixture plus some peas and shelled edamame because why not? over the pan. Then I moved the pan around on the burners to make sure it was getting thoroughly heated and after a half hour I turned the heat down and covered with foil and let it sit for a bit.

Keep in mind that I had been writing since I woke up so in addition to cooking I was running back and forth folding laundry and scrubbing the bathroom sink and generally enjoying the life of a woman who has it all (except for children, pets and a ski chalet in the Austrian alps).

The end result: delicious! My recipe needs work including being less timid with the saffron and paprika and I think I have some hot paprika somewhere and if I can find it, I'll throw some of that in next time, too.

Meanwhile, I was so tired on Sunday night I read 2 pages of my book and then turned out the light and then tossed and turned ALL NIGHT LONG. It was clinically awful. I thought it was because Bob wasn't home but three people in my office reported terrible sleep the same night so now I think the aliens are wearing us down before they start their invasion.

Last night I saw Marjane Satrapi at Arts and Lectures and she was fabulous. I very highly recommend Persepolis 1 and 2. But that means that I left the house at 6:30a and didn't get home until 9:30p which is close to the world's longest day.

Now it's Tuesday and I'm feeling tired and frazzled but apparently still capable of writing a long rambling blogpost. Is this a marketable skill?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I've never been excited about planting tulips. It's not because I don't like them. It's because they look pretty for about 15 minutes and then the wind blows and there are petals surrounding a green stem.

This year I thought I planted two batches. These little pink ones in back and the red ones (with one lone cream colored one ?) below that are in the front. But there's another bunch coming up in back and I'm not certain where they came from but I'm going to guess that they're purple and from an Easter gift last year.

I had another productive writing day and I would write more about that but I'm too tired so perhaps tomorrow. Other than that I got a couple chores done but the taxes are still waiting and a few other things I wanted to take care of have been ignored.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Rain on the Road
Seattle Trip: March 28-30, 2008
I end up in Seattle about every other year and usually for something specific.

I married a man who was all things Bumbershoot when I met him. I think he went for something like 18 consecutive years. We even went there on our honeymoon. (We also went to the San Juan Islands and Victoria, BC. It's not like Bumbershoot was our only destination.) We've gone up for that. We've visited family and friends and gone to soccer games. I'm too lazy to look it all up.

I always love Seattle when I'm there. But when I'm home I think: I don't want to go to Seattle. The biggest reason is that I hate being in the car. At 2am it's probably a 2.5 hour drive. Any other time it's more like 3.25. It was raining giant snowflakey drops on this trip.

We arrived Friday afternoon and checked into our hotel and sat around reading (me) and blogging (him) and then we went to Ballard to meet some friends who took us to a fabulous meal at Cocina Esperanza.

The next morning we slept in and on our way to the Frye Art Museum we discovered the Yesterday Cafe.

Really it was called The Corner Cafe and it looked like your typical espresso/scone breakfast, quick turkey and chips sandwich for lunch kind of place.

It turned out to be much better than that. We sat down as Paul McCartney crooned "Yesterday" for us and we ordered and then we split the paper. The Seattle P.I. is an awesome paper.

We'd been sitting there awhile when I commented, "Wow, this is a long song."

Then again 5 minutes later. "This must be the extended disco remix."

Finally, "Is this song still playing."

"Seven times in a row," my husband said. The song ended and we listened. Silence. "Whew," we sat back in our chairs.

"Yesterday," sang Paul.

Finally a lady got up and stomped over to the counter and complained and Bob and I burst out laughing. We weren't laughing at her, we just thought the repetition of Yesterday was part of the ambiance.

Puget Sound

Bob doesn't like potatoes. I'm just learning this after 100 years of marriage. I like potatoes but it wouldn't hurt my feelings if he said he didn't like them. I'm not sure why he was so vague about it before now. He asked to substitute for a pancake. He said he didn't mind paying extra.

"One dollar?" the woman said. "Perfect," Bob said.

Later she brought out the world's biggest pancake and said, "The cook surprised me with a big pancake. I told him it was for a big man."

Of course we had to take photos and then the cook came out to see what we were doing. Bob was thrilled with his breakfast.

After breakfast we went to the Frye Museum to see the Robert Crumb exhibit.

My Bob captures the mood of the thing pretty well so I'll give you the short version. Stuffy museum, counter-culture hero: weird but good. I loved seeing the drawings up close and seeing how much white-out the artists used. This should be a D'oh! moment but I always think creating things is easier for everyone else.

After the museum we hiked downtown. In case anyone reading this has never been to Seattle, downtown is built on the side of a steeply sloping cliff. If you fall down you'll probably bounce a few times and then fall into the Sound.

We went to Pioneer Square and Bob said good bye to Bud's Jazz Records which is closing and I'd love to find a good link but wikipedia is letting me down. I feel bad for the kids of the future that they'll never know what it's like to hang out at a cool record store and flip through the inventory and chat with people in the store and see in-store shows. I understand the evolution of music, but I have some fabulous memories of hanging out in record stores.

While Bob was at the record store I went to Elliott Bay Books to buy books by all my instructors at Clarion West this summer.

Then I met him at J&M Cafe for lunch. This picture cracks me up because in my head I always think I look so stylish. Then I see a photo like this and think I look like an unmade bed.

J&M Cafe is way yummier than you might guess from the front door. And it was late afternoon so very slow and we got super A+ service. Bob had some plank salmon that was fabulous and I had a roast turkey sandwich and a big salad. And we both had beers.

Then we hiked straight uphill back to our hotel and had a killer nap.

That night it was rain/snowing sideways for our big old people night out. It was completely miserable. We chose our hotel because it was convenient to downtown and to Neumos where we had Bob Mould tickets.

We braved the insanity and found some Vietnamese food that was pretty good. I was still sorta full from lunch. And when we were done, it was way too early for the show because rock and roll doesn't schedule itself for old people. So we took our leftovers back to the hotel (and forgot about them, oh well) and read for another half hour and then went back out into the sideways ice monsoon AGAIN to get to the club.

Upstairs there was a bar and a coat check (yay!) and some tables and an place where you could see the stage below and a sort-of seat-step thing against the wall where you could sit. This is where we parked.

There was an opening band that I forgot the name of. Sorry guys! I liked them. They started at like, 9:30p and finished at 10:20p. Have I ever mentioned that my bedtime is 9pm? So we sat there and I was thinking: This is exactly why I hate going to shows and I was shooting my beloved the stink-eye because this was all his idea.

But I should say that I've been a Bob Mould fan for a long time — I have 3 or 4 artists that I've loved consistently since the 80's and Bob is one of them. My Bob was there because of me.

Mould came on at about 10:45p. And as soon as he started, all was forgiven. We'd chosen a strange place to sit but I could stand on the step and see Bob perfectly and played tons of fabulous songs including tons of Sugar stuff and I Apologize from Husker Du.

Very fun. Glad I went.

We were back in Ballard for breakfast with more friends and then back on the road home dodging the snow.

Posting will be light for the rest of the weekend (I imagine you'd be relieved) so I can do tons of writing.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

City and Nature

Yesterday afternoon I saw a bald eagle from my office window.

I ran to one of the attorney's offices. He has some binoculars that are more often used to look at accidents on the Morrison Bridge. He was talking to someone so I had to elbow my way in and as I dashed to the window he said, "What is it?"

Me: "Bald eagle! Bald eagle!"

I was not even a teeny bit embarrassed about my excitement. And it was contagious because he went down the hall and pretty soon half the people on our side of the office had their faces pressed against the glass. I think that's the 2nd or 3rd time I've seen one downtown.

And I don't know how the fishing works around here but this morning the Columbia River was filled with boats on either side of the bridge. And what a great morning for it. Cold but clear. Mt. Hood is out.

The forecast says it's going to be doodoo all weekend. 50 degrees and rain. I'm going to load up on presto logs and keep the garden tools in deep storage. My sweetheart is going out of town and I'm going to have the most amazing weekend of productivity ever seen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Focus Watch: Day 3

Look at my adorable scrawny little girl arms. This is 1972-ish in Hawaii.

Well, I'm still not focused or productive. I'm going to have to figure out a different approach.

Also, super busy day. I had a new project before I even put my purse down and poured my first cup of tea.

I still haven't organized the Seattle stuff. Big surprise. If you can't stand the suspense you can read my sweetheart's take on the Bob Mould show and his thoughts on the Robert Crumb exhibit at the Frye Museum.

The new season of Battlestar Galactica starts this weekend and Sci Fi Channel ran some pre-show cylon-nerd-porn last weekend that I've been catching up on. One is a show history. If you've never seen the show, you're really lucky because you still have that to look forward to. Don't start in the middle. Go back and start with the mini-series from 03 and then work your way through the seasons. Even if you think space shows are stupid I think there's a 99% possibility you will love this show.

The second pre-show was this complete waste of time nerd group hug of all these unlikely people like Brad Paisley, Scott Ian and Oz talking about how much they love the show. When Joss-is-my-master-now-Whedon appeared on screen my toes curled in geekish delight. I sat there thinking how there was no reason to continue watching, yet I couldn't turn it off.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I just had a meatloaf sandwich that should have its own national holiday.

In honor of its amazingness I've written a poem.

The Lunch of A Lifetime

O! Meatloaf sandwich.
How I savored
Our short time together.

Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm A Queen!

Because I'm getting a crown.

I think I've written about this before but whenever there's something wrong with my car and I have to take it in, I always expect it to cost $600. That way if it's $600 then I can think: I knew it! And if it's more, say $800, well, that's not too much more than I expected. And if it's less then I can think: whew! at least it isn't $600.

This is exactly what I was thinking as the dentist ground up my old broken tooth and fitted me with a temporary. So when I found out that after insurance I would probably owe $450 (due now), I thought whew!
Today Is the First Day
Today's my first day of being fabulously organized and focused for writing and so far I'm failing spectacularly. Also, I just broke a tooth.

I'm attempting to systematically eliminate distractions. Last night I deleted several series recordings from my TV shows and cleaned out my Google Reader. There are a lot of sites that I enjoy, like the Slog but every time I log on there are a million posts and it wastes too much time. Good-bye Slog.

I'm still subscribed to all my regular real people blogs. I told angelawd I was going to update my links soon and soon is probably not anytime soon. I don't know. If I can master this fabulously organized and focused thing, maybe soon.

I also deleted my Usenet reader. I've read alt.gossip.celebrities for such a long time I'm too embarrassed to name the date. I've tried to quit twice before but I think this one will stick. Do they make a patch for that?

We had a fabulous weekend in Seattle and I'll write more about it when I get the photos organized. There aren't a lot of photos because we took Bob's camera and he got to hold it so I didn't get to capture every interesting crack in the sidewalk like I usually do.

A few last quick notes: I had to scrape ice off my car this morning and there was no traffic on the way in. I guess Washington is on Spring Break this week.

And finally, there were some young people on the radio talking about going to an Eighties party and what to wear and what their research uncovered. ("They wore Izod shirts in different colors and … ") I have never felt older.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Photo: My First Easter

In my head I always think that the computer is what sucks up most of my free time so two days of computer-free would translate into piles of time to get to those long ignored projects. HA HA.

Friday I did errands and made the brownies and thought I'd clean out my kitchen cupboards. You know where you take everything out and wipe them out and find all sorts of treasures like dried up macaroni and measuring spoons you thought you lost? I got less than halfway through and had to run off to an appointment and by the time I got home I had time for a snack and then we got ready to go over to Priscilla's to have dinner with Steve and look at photos.

Saturday I read a little bit and got organized for the writers meeting, then the gang arrived and when we were finished I took advantage of the sunshine to weed and rake and clean up in the yard. Then it was time to get cleaned up and go to Priscilla's again for more time to visit with Steve and look at more photos.

Now I'm sitting at the computer not sure what to do with myself.

By popular demand: here's more info on my buttermilk bread from an earlier post. (Here, if you missed it.)

This probably isn't a good recipe if you're new to bread baking. If you've never made bread but want to try, it's never going to get easier than the no knead bread recipe.

If you want to learn more about bread baking, I recommend The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book by Laurel Robertson. It's the perfect beginner book and she explains a lot of these steps in great detail.

Laurel's Buttermilk Bread

2 t. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water

3/4 cup very hot water
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cup cold buttermilk

5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 t. salt

2 to 4 T butter

Dissolve yeast in the warm water.

Mix together the hot water and honey (I never measure, I just squish a bunch in) and add the buttermilk. It should be slightly warm.

Stir the flour and salt together and make a well in the center and then pour in the liquid ingredients and stir from the center outward, incorporating all the flour. The bread is lightest if the dough is slightly soft. (I wish I could annotate this direction, but honestly, all dough seems soft to me.)

Kneed about 20 minutes adding the butter in cold bits at the end of the kneading time. (I've done this with and without the beloved Kitchen Aid. The machine is easier, in case there was any doubt in your mind. When I did the bread making class the teacher had a cool way of kneading, he did a sort of wrist flip and swung the dough around so it slapped on the counter, as if you were trying to smack the water out of a pair of heavy socks. He made it look like poetry. I flipped my wrist and had to pick up my dough from the floor.)

Form the dough into a ball and place it smooth side up in the bowl. Cover and keep in warm place. After 1.5 hours gently poke the center of the dough about 1/2 inch deep with your wet finger. If the hole doesn't fill up or if the dough sighs, it's ready.

Press flat, then form into a smooth ball and let it rise like before except check it after 45 minutes. If you use quick-rise yeast, cut these times in half. Ideally, you're moving from step to step by the way the dough feels and looks. I'm not that talented and usually just hope for the best.

Press the dough flat and divide in two. Round it and let it rest until relaxed. (I'm not sure how to tell the dough is relaxed. Maybe after it finishes its cocktail and cigarette?) I let it rest for 15 minutes. You can shape for loaf pans, or even better, shape into round balls and put it in greased pie plates and they make the cute loaves from the photo.

Preheat the oven to 325 while you do the final rise. Set the loaves in a warm place until the dough slowly returns a fingerprint. Bake 45-60 minutes.

This bread tastes fabulous cut into thick slices and spread with cashew butter and Nutella. One time I ate almost half a loaf fresh from the oven with butter. Then I couldn't eat my dinner.

This last time I misjudged my timing (and probably several other steps) and had to pull it out of the oven a tad early so it ended up damp and heavy.

Even goofed up homemade bread is better than store bought so I keep trying.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

 Computer Free
This evening we went to the grocery store. Neither of us wore a coat into the store and it was monsooning when we were done. We ran across the parking lot in a gusting downpour, drop-kicked our groceries into the trunk and were in the car buckled-up in record time.

I had a recipe I was thinking of making for Easter. We don't really celebrate Easter but I thought I might make a nice dinner. When I clipped the recipe I thought it was a "toss in slow cooker and forget it" type of recipe and as I was writing down what I needed I noticed there was stuff about browning and setting aside and a bunch of steps with aluminum foil on and then off and then a reduction sauce and I could sense that this wasn't the type of recipe I was up for so it was abandoned and I'm guessing now we'll have frozen pizza and salad.

We'll see how I feel.

I did a lot of computer work at the office this week and my neck, shoulders, back, arms and dried little eyeballs are telling me that they would like a break so I'm going to be on a severe computer reduction diet for the next couple of days.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Downtown Portland

My Favorite Things to do in Portland
Last month it was 16 years since I started working in Downtown Portland and I still love it. When the weather is good and even when it's bad, I walk all over town to get fresh air, take care of banking, have my delicious Alexis fried cheese fix, try on wool pants, or have my favorite sausage sandwich from the midweek downtown farmer's market.

 When were down at the old office I would walk by the river almost every day in good weather. Like a regularly scheduled break, every day around 2p or 3p, I'd head out and walk by the river to clear my head for the last couple hours of the work day. I usually walk on the west side of the river but Eastbank Esplanade is nice too and it makes a big loop. I've gotten out of the habit at the new office but if it ever stops raining, I'm going to get back to that.

For one of the best birthdays I ever had, besides the one in Germany, we got a room at the Paramount Hotel and spent the afternoon hanging out downtown. We went to the Fox Tower cinemas to see a Wes Anderson movie, I think it was The Royal Tennenbaums, and then went to late night happy hour at Dragonfish for snacks and exotic drinks.

Whenever the family is town we always make a trek to Powell's books. Go there first and pick up a handy walking map. Lucky for me I can go on my lunch hour. It's a long walk, but do-able. I need to go this week because last time I was there I bought a book I already have and need to trade it for one I need.

Hawthorne Bridge Lift

One of my favorite downtown meals is paella at Southpark. They also have fabulous fish specials. Mother's Bistro is also yummy for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner but really busy so you have to plan ahead. Bob and my new favorite dinner spot is West Café which is a couple blocks north of the museums and Schnitzer and where we go on our lecture night.

Bob and I are both museum nerds and belong to the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society. Every once in a while I go to the museum on my lunch hour. It's enough time to peek at the special exhibit or do a lap in the
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Center for Native American Art.

Farmers Market

I haven't been in years but Saturday Market is a good spot for visitors. Lots to eat, look at and buy. Easy access to river walk and light rail. Voodoo Doughnut isn't too far from the market, either. I also haven't seen the Rose Garden in Washington Park in a long time but it's a lovely spot to visit.

Portland OR 01.23.07

My friend Tonya and I used to meet for walks in Forest Park which is really nice. We haven't managed to synch up our schedules since she became a successful independent businesswoman.

Bob and I sometimes drive over to Portland on Saturday mornings for the Farmers Market at Portland State. Actually, Bob more than I. He discovered that some of our favorite vendors from the Vancouver Farmers Market have switched to Portland. Tons of great stuff to eat even if you're not taking a fruit and vegetable stash home.

A fun day trip is to drive out into the Columbia River Gorge and check out Multnomah Falls and then on the way back stop at McMenamins Edgefield for some food and a beer and a walk around to check out what's going on there.
I've always wanted to do the Shanghai Tunnel tour and I never have but a woman in my writers group has done it twice and says it's really cool. I've also never been on the Portland Spirit because I'm not really into boats, but I walk by it all the time and it looks fun for people who like boats.

If you like wandering around looking in shops and grabbing random snacks, downtown is perfect for that or the Pearl which is where you find yourself if you go to Powell's.

On the other side of the river is Hawthorne which is my favorite. There are also shops and stuff on Broadway around the Lloyd Center and out on Alberta.

Friday, March 14, 2008

In Box
The Dream Police They Live Inside of My Head
Man, there is just too much heavy stuff going on right now. Can't write about it all.

The attorneys I work for have both been out of the office most of the last several weeks. Either I deal with stuff on my end or things pile up until they get back in the office.

This is co-worker's in box.

Not scary you say?


Well, this is his desk. We're trying to keep it all reeled in with the crises on the top of the pile. This week there are an unusual number of crises.

I have never been so grateful for a day off as I was today. I expected to have more time to dink around but it's been more putting things back together. Cleaning out the fridge and buying food; catching up on email and trying to fix a situation (long sob story omitted); figuring out where things are at with the checkbook. You know, that daily living type stuff.

Uncouth Heathen asked about my favorite things to do in Portland and ALL WEEK I kept a file open on my desktop so every time I thought of something I would make a note and track down a URL so I could whip my post together this weekend. Left it on the office computer. doo-doo. It's coming someday ...


Last night we went out to a 10 star fantastic dinner for my sweetheart's birthday and I have to confess I was a weary and using all my efforts just to sit up straight.

Since I wasn't in the mood for wine, I ordered a fancy fruity soda thing. It was bright pink and very sweet and delicious and I had two giant swigs before I noticed that it has caffeine. I don't do caffeine, ever. But especially not in the evenings. Who adds caffeine to a pink girly drink?

I drank enough to make it hard to fall asleep. Nothing like being dead tired but laying there in the dark with your eyes open. Then it was my big morning to sleep in and I woke up at 6:30a. I closed my eyes right away and thought, "No! no!' But yes. I was awake.

New Camera
I got my sweetheart a surprise for his birthday. When I bought my new camera I bought this for him. He's a fabulous photographer and a descendant of a fabulous photographer. I thought he'd enjoy having a something of his own to carry around.

I gave it to him last weekend since we were doing the big family thing. I said, "I got you a surprise for your birthday and thought you might like to play with it this weekend. Would you like to open it now?"

He saw the box and looked like a kid at Xmas and said, "Is this what I think it is?"

Then he opened it and made a funny face and said, "What is this?"

It's not like he was disappointed, it just wasn't what he thought it was. He thought it was Berlin Alexanderplatz an epically long movie that he says saved his life. I bought him that to open on his actual birthday which means he is the luckiest man alive.

Here's his first photo set.