Monday, June 30, 2008

Delicious Iron-E.

I haven't seen Wall-E yet because I've been busy looking at places I don't want to move into. Everything I've heard about it convinces me I'm going to dig it, though, and I want to drag Kevin to see it with me. (Dude has never seen a Pixar movie. I am a bad girlfriend!) Even so, Dan Savage's post today had me doubled over.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quick! Make my situation more difficult!

Fortunately not DISASTROUS, but more difficult all the same.

We've been given notice that our landlord is terminating our tenancy. We have just under two months to find a new place to live (no reason given), and we're looking everywhere from Palo Alto to Santa Cruz. The differences between Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz are striking, but they seem to be equally possible.

Silicon Valley would mean access to the same job market I've been searching in all this time. It's a much bigger pool than Santa Cruz. There is also, of course, the benefit of being a freeway trip away from almost anything we need. Plus, all my California friends who aren't Kevin's relatives live on this side of the hill.

Santa Cruz would be nice because we both love Santa Cruz. There's a natural chef program down there I'm interested in and it's a great place for the kind of veg-friendly green living we want. Kevin hopes to buy a house there eventually, and maybe now is the time.

The downside of Silicon Valley is that it isn't pretty and it's hard to be far from the freeway, which is what Kevin wants. For Santa Cruz, while it isn't really that far from San Jose, the Highway 17 commute is a killer, so my job opportunities would be pretty limited.

Either way, moving bites, and I'm not looking forward to it. I love this house (though Kevin doesn't love the location) and we're probably not going to find something ideal for both of us.

All these unknowns leaves me with a near-constant state of anxiety and a mild case of Craigslist fatigue.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quick snack: sweet potato oven fries with spicy balsamic garlic sauce.

This is quick and simple, especially if you have a toaster oven (no pre-heating).

Sweet potato oven fries:
-1 or more sweet potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
-1 tbsp. olive oil (or more if needed)
-Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut the ends off the sweet potatoes, then slice it lengthwise into slabs about 1/4" thick. Cut each slab into thin strips, roughly the shape of fast-food french fries. Toss the fries with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread out on a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake under a broiler for about 15 minutes or until the fries are browned and just a little bit crisp.

Spicy balsamic garlic sauce:
-1 tsp. your favorite hot sauce
-1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
-1/2 tsp. soy sauce
-1 small clove garlic, minced

Mix ingredients until well combined and serve with sweet potato oven fries.

Sweet potato fries are also good with ketchup spiked with spicy paprika or cayenne. Mmm.

Monday, June 23, 2008

DVD Review: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

I was excited to see this because John C. Reilly is awesome and the musician biopic was ripe for mockery. It also marks the first movie I've seen on Blu-ray, which didn't make much of a difference to my eye.

After finishing it, I realized that I want my comedies to surprise me. Not in a big plot twist, not in some brilliant joke, just something odd and funny enough that I didn't see it coming. Besides the songs, which were enjoyable and often funny, most of the jokes were obvious and, like a bad SNL sketch, repeated throughout the movie. I know they were meant to be bad in order to parody Ray and Walk the Line, but without the element of surprise, they were flat. How many times can the hero rip a sink out of the wall in a fit of rage and self-loathing?

The intro sequence in which 6-year-old Dewey experiences his Traumatic Life-Changing Event (he slices his unbelievably brilliant brother in half with a machete) was almost painfully bad. I did enjoy the striking age difference in his high school scenes, but instead of letting it be, he has an argument with his 13-year-old bride (who looks 30) about how young they are. I got it already.

If the cast and crew involved hadn't been as famous or as talented as they are, they might as well have named it Music Legend Movie and sold it as the next movie brought to you by "the guys who made Scary Movie." It had at least as many obvious double entendres and it never let you forget that you are watching a parody movie. Flawed as it is, Christopher Guest's A Mighty Wind covered similar ground in a way I found a little less off-putting.

I did laugh while watching this movie, and the songs were definitely listenable. The ending wasn't horrible (and Dan Bern's song over the credits is cute). You might enjoy it. But you might roll your eyes a few times, too.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bananas suck.

I hate bananas. I wish I could say this were the reason I felt that way, but really, I just think they taste awful.

Filth and fires.

Despite being a promotional piece for a Clorox line (Green Works), this guy's work is like a truly clever version of writing "Wash Me!" on your filthy station wagon.

I'm down in Santa Cruz for the weekend. We came for the Live Earth Farm summer solstice celebration, but a fire started about three miles from the farm yesterday afternoon as we were driving over. The plume of smoke was huge at first and traffic into Aptos was a nightmare. Yesterday also boasted record heat, apparently in the 100s, so I felt especially bad that we opted to bring the rabbits with us and they were stuck in a travel cage in the back seat of the car for over an hour. (They're fine, hanging out in an x-pen in the garage where it's nice and cool.) The fire is supposedly contained and from what we can tell, the celebration is still on, but the air is still smoky.

Fire season started early and it's already off to a spectacular start. There have been at least three destructive fires in the Santa Cruz and Monterey areas, where there are lots of farms and livestock. I heard stories from one of my usual farmers' market guys after the Corralitos fire that it was raining ash into some delicate lettuce and plenty have endured evacuations. Between the fires in California agricultural areas and the floods in the midwestern cornfields, it's not a great year for farming.

As a petty end note, I'm using Kevin's dad's computer, equipped with Vista and IE. At home I run Ubuntu and Firefox on an old laptop and for all the bells and whistles this machine should have, I have to say I hate using it. IE is having a hard time dealing with tabs and every time it crashes (often, if I watch a Flash video or the security software pops up with a minor update) I lose all my open tabs. This is basic web browsing, to me. A brand-new Cadillac may be powerful, but I'll stick with my beaten up old Civic.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Infectious smiles and a daily dose of political discussion.

Jonathan Richman is a man who doesn't look accustomed to smiling. The lines on his face tell you he's been in the music business longer than you've been alive, so much so that you begin to wonder if he's disappointed to be playing a gig in such a small space, strumming out old favorites accompanied only by a drummer who seldom speaks.

And then he smiles. He smiles and he plays his songs and he dances and he relishes in the crowd as much as they're enjoying him. You listen to his words and watch his demeanor and you think, maybe something is right in this world after all.

Go see him play when he comes to your town.


When your aunt forwards you one of those "Obama is a secret Muslim who won't do the Pledge of Allegiance" emails, don't let that racist shit slide. I don't care who you're voting for or what your political views are, fight the smears. Debate on the candidates merits, personalities, stance on the issues, hell, argue about whose wife is prettiest*, but don't make it about black versus white. There's a problem with race in an America where people believe it makes any sense to say they're not "racist" but find those bizarre rumors plausible.

I also just want to say I don't get those Hillary Clinton supporters who say they're going to vote for McCain. The two Democratic frontrunners had such similar views that I didn't want to choose--being a registered non-partisan voter allows me that luxury. If you were so gung ho about a woman in the White House, why the hell would you go with the guy who wants to abolish major women's rights in this country (and supposedly called his wife a "cunt," which, classy)? I guess I just hope you all change your minds by November.

* Don't, actually, but at least that's subjective and debatable, not an outright lie.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Things my rabbits love (besides Kevin).

My rabbits, Lilly and Ollie, don't love me. I'm just the crazy person who feeds them twice daily and grooms them (when they allow me) and tells them they are cute. They love Kevin, who brings them hay and sometimes treats and never attempts to groom. He is like a freakin' St. Francis of Assisi, all the animals love him.

Most of the time, though, they don't get to shower their love on my boyfriend. They have staked out their territory across most of my floor, and here's a list of things--besides actual food--they would be sad to live without.
  1. My ingenious hay loft. I swapped the shelf and basket positions when I assembled it, put a chew-friendly mat on the bottom shelf, and filled the basket with hay. It sits next to one of the litter boxes. They can reach hay from any angle: the sides, underneath (also good for "hiding"), and--their favorite favorite--sitting IN the basket. Both fit in there at the same time.

  2. The tunnel. This was an offhand suggestion from one of the Rabbit Haven volunteers when we adopted these guys, and it was a good one. This is available at pretty much any decent hardware store because it's what you use to pour concrete to install a fence post. The bunnies crawl through the 8" tube like it's some kind of secret passageway to the safety zone of our next item.

  3. Under my bed. Coupled with the tunnel, I'm sure this feels very much like a natural, earthy nest, without all the digging and being covered with dirt. It stays cool under there during the day and they can take a nap stretched out on the hardwood floor, but still quickly access water, hay, and litter boxes.

  4. An old newspaper. It lives under the bed and they tear it to shreds, eat it, and nest in it. I'm sure that's very satisfying if you're a house rabbit.

  5. Boxes. If you've ever seen that picture of cats sitting in boxes, you should know that rabbits have a similar inclination. The best ones are have low sides because they can sit in them and chew without straining anything.

My favorite things about the rabbits are watching them eat and when they use the steps to hop up on my bed. Especially when I am still IN bed. They like to explore, but they are cautious and know it's not their space. They leave a few inches of personal space around my face.

If you want to find out your favorite things about rabbits, go to Petfinder to find a local rescue group, or if you're in the San Jose/Santa Cruz area, go straight to the source: The Rabbit Haven.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Random notes too brief blog about proper.

  • This week, I owe it to the rest of you to shower myself with blessings.

  • Despite the difficulties of the job hunt, I'm still glad I quit my old job.

  • The new Cool Whip commercial (could not find a link) featuring Cool Whip in a can starts out with someone singing, "I want to play." This reminds me of the creepy Twilight Zone episode with the evil doll who wants to KILL. (I would link to the episode, too, but only has the series through season 3 and that episode is season 5. Please believe I know that thanks only to Google and IMDb, and not because I am a huge TZ geek.)

  • I have two entrepreneurial ideas. One involves reviving and roping some Web 2.0 coder friend into creating something cool with me. The other involves becoming a healthy, veg*n personal cook-for-hire. Neither is likely to go anywhere.

  • Kevin and I were out on Saturday night and I needed more coffee beans. He stayed in the car while I ran into Barefoot Coffee to get my fix. I felt like one of the junkies on Intervention whose parents or best friends enable them with a ride to skid row and $100 to buy smack. Except he didn't pay for the coffee, the shop is in a middle class strip mall, and I'm not a pariah. I hope.

  • Yesterday for Father's Day I baked Kevin's dad a peach galette (a word that I have been both spelling and pronouncing wrong). We also had the Sunday night set menu/name your price dinner at Malabar Cafe. It was fantastic.

  • Battlestar Galactica's mid-season finale (a pox on Sci-Fi Channel!) left us in a decent waiting space, I think. Now what?

  • I have now seen every single TV episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and now I'm pissed that I didn't get into it when it was originally on because there's no one to discuss it with, fresh, only old discussions to read. But I loved it.

  • Jonathan Richman is playing the Make Out Room in SF this week and I am going one night with my friend Steve because it's what he wants to do for his birthday. I can't think of a single thing wrong with this situation.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kitchen going crazy.

In the last 24 hours I have made:

White bean garlic dip (texture like hummus)
Radicchio-balsamic vinegar-olive oil crostini topping
Tomato-zucchini fritters and greek yogurt dip to go with
Honey shortening biscuits
Balsamic-macerated strawberries

It's hot as shit and I don't know why I have been using my oven so goddamned much.

Also, there's a grass fire a few miles from here and the sky is a foreboding shade of yellow.

But the food, the food is awesome. And I am bringing most of it to my friends' house for tonight's season(-ish) finale of BSG. I like to share. I overshare. I can't stop sharing.

Now won't someone share with me?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Let's dork out!

I recently spent money on something other than food and gas. I'm not really supposed to do that, but I am getting fatter and I don't feel like leaving the house. I do, however, like sitting on my bed and playing with my Nintendo DS.

Enter Let's Pilates! Sure, workout video games are ridiculous. I'm certainly not rushing out to buy Wii Fit--costs a lot and I hear the game itself isn't up to snuff--and I used Yourself! Fitness for about a week before giving up.

The thing I like about Let's Pilates is that it is well-focused and full of good, detailed instructions on how to do all levels of the positions and motions. I took a pilates class two years ago and it was one of the best exercises I've ever done. It takes a lot for me to actually LIKE an exercise. I stopped taking the class only because I'm a moron. I tried the free class at my local 24 Hour Fitness and the instructor was awful. The DS version of pilates instruction is almost as good as taking a decent class, and I can do it in my room.

Sure, it's awkward to hit "Next" in the Challenge mode, which is where you get detailed instruction on various poses/moves. It breaks it way, way down, gives you something to imagine (which I've taken the liberty of making real, where possible--for example, holding a ball under my knee to keep it bent and the muscles taut), and helps keep your breathing on track. Once I get the hang of the movement, it isn't necessary to see the screen, and the oral instructions are clear. Plus you can turn off the silly music without muting the speaking.

The other silly thing about it also relates to Challenge mode: the Pilatree (oh so clever) and the smurfy little dancing characters that give you rewards for completing items. Like new clothes for the model! Or pilates trivia! Or pilates for everyday (wait, that actually might be useful). It's just rather silly for a game that's otherwise straightforward and instructive.

If you have a DS and you like pilates, for $30, it's not a bad deal.

An introvert in an extrovert's world.

Wherever introversion meets social anxiety, that's where I am in a job interview. I do a good job of keeping the social anxiety under control in most other situations, with with as much at stake as there is in the job hunt, it just comes out.

I know I come off as unsure of myself. Apparently when it matters, I am. When I get comfortable, when I feel like I have some control over my situation, I can tear down that veneer, but how can you act sure about something you don't already know? It strikes me as dishonest, so I tend to softpedal, to demur, to self-deprecate. I can see myself doing it and I'm still not sure how to unlearn that. No matter how many times I practice individual pieces of an interview, it isn't part of a cogent whole and it especially fails to account for the very real anxiety. An introvert like me needs to plan the hell out of things that make her nervous, and you can't plan an interview, only prepare.

Preparation is pretty much the only “positive” coping mechanism I have—no one, least of all a potential employer, is going to think having notes and print-outs is something to be avoided. I prepare, I preen, I think, I listen to something energizing in the car, I feel pretty, and I am friendly. Then I sit down at their desk and start talking about myself, “ums” and all.

I haven't so far been able to practice without feeling silly or reverting to coping mechanisms. I don't talk myself up; I'm not comfortable with it on the whole. I don't see how it's relevant to the actual doing of a job that I can puff myself up (though I realize it can help a potential employer see me). I use humor to break the tension, sometimes at my own expense (I am working to curb this). I focus on connecting and being honest but thorough.

I'd love to be the kind of person who can enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Sometimes I am—when traveling and cooking; in relationships; with storylines in movies, books, and TV—but with this process, the more time I have to enjoy the journey, the more freaked out I get. Every day presents me with another challenge to my increasingly weak self-esteem. There's glimmers of hope, and they're tests: Can I improve on past experience, or will I regress? Above all, I need to keep in mind that there are others doing the same thing as me, and I need to prove to these people that I'm a better fit than they are. I don't like putting myself above people.

But this being MY blog, I can afford to make a written declaration of my own awesomeness. I am tired of getting in my own way.

I love working and feeling productive. I love being part of a team and making a contribution. I'm not out for glory, but I want the product I work on to be great. I dig a good to-do list and I take time to make sure even typed note sheets look good. I can spot a typo from across the cubicle. The Internet is the air I breathe and I've blogged since before they called them blogs. I am funny, I think before I speak, and I bake a mean vegan cookie. I am an asset—you know you want me.

How are you awesome?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Now that the chips have fallen...

I'm gonna go ahead and get me some political banners.

First up:
barack obama for president

It's a gimme but whatever. Go Obama!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Cable TV: A Pro-Con List.

  • What else am I supposed to do all day? (This is only a little tongue-in-cheek.)
  • Inane lady-programming like TLC and HGTV.
  • Incredibly stupid crap on VH1 (and if you assumed this will appear again on the Con list, you are right).
  • Project Runway, Top Chef, and (okay, this is sad) Shear Genius.
  • Gilmore Girls reruns.
  • Free stuff On Demand!
  • Battlestar Galactica.
  • My god, how could I forget Comedy Central? The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are obvious, but there's other good stuff.
  • The Soup.
  • Mythbusters.
  • Having cable eliminates the need for a DTV converter box next year.

  • I am already mooching housing. Mooching cable is extra bad.
  • I might be more productive and/or read a damn book if I didn't have cable.
  • Cable TV allows/encourages me to watch soul-sucking and brain-rotting tripe. Like VH1.
  • The myriad legal alternatives to getting the content I actually want: Netflix, YouTube, various networks' free Flash video pages, friends' houses.
  • Stupid ABC Family doesn't have stupid season 7 of Gilmore Girls, but they do have that heinous Christian power ballads commercial on every goddamn day. Those songs get stuck in my head. That's that power of Satan coming through.
  • I seldom use the On Demand feature.
  • Comedy Central has crap I don't want to watch on about 75% of the time.
  • Once I get a job (probably one with a lengthy commute), I will have less time for stupid TV.
  • Kevin can stop bitching about the volume or making fun of me for whatever dumb thing I'm watching. TV on DVD is somehow more respectable, and with subtitles, I can maintain better volume levels.
  • Paying Comcast is just lame.