Sunday, December 31, 2006
I've been a bit picture happy over the last week and since I haven't been feeling very writing happy I thought I'd share a few pictures from my trip out to the Eureka Sand Dunes with cousin Adam and his girlfriend Nicky. These big mountains of sand sit in Eastern California surrounded by a number of mountain ranges and look ridiculously out of place. Coming up highway 168 from Bishop we passed through snow dusted hills and joshua tree forests and then suddenly the sand dunes appeared -- they practically glowed against the mountains.
We spent a few hours trudging up sand (ridiculously difficult!) and then jumping/sliding down (scary at first and then AWESOME) -- next time we'll bring sleds.
Looking toward the the White Mountains from the Eureka Sand Dunes
Bird tracks and waves in the sand! I think the mountain in the background is part of the Chance Mountains which means that Scotty's Castle and Death Vally is just over yonder.
Another view back at the whites -- home is on the other side of those mountains.
Adam, mid flight.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I think yesterday was my first foray into solo klesla making and it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I didn’t work enough flour into the dough and the dumplings came out a bit mushy. I’m overly sensitive when it comes to cooking and this minor setback (I won’t say failure since the klesla still got eaten) left me in a bit of a pout. Klesla should be solid and sliceable even when hot and when piled in a serving dish the dumplings should not stick together.
3lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (Russets are also fine)
Boil the potatoes until just fork tender (if they get to mashable you’ve gone too far). Let the boiled potatoes cool then peel and rice. Add one egg and ½ cup of flour to the riced potatoes and knead to bring together. Continue adding flour ½ cup at a time until the dough is shiny and elastic (mom’s words). Bring a large pot of water to boil. Divide the dough in half and roll into two 3 inch think ropes. Cut the ropes on an angle into 3 inch potions (just like how you'd cut a baguette -- the idea is maximum surface area). Drop the dumplings into the boiling water and cook until they rise to the top. Slice into bite sized pieces and serve with gravy (I have at least one cousin that forgoes gravy for butter).
Left over klesla is a prized breakfast treat – cut into bite sized pieces and fry in a little butter or oil – I like mine with a fried egg.
Monday, December 25, 2006
(Excuse this lame picture-- turns out Picassa's collage feature is a bit pathetic and Mom and Dad's computer doesn't have any other image editor save MSpaint, add to that the horribly bad photo management capabilities of blogger and this was the best I could do.)
I had a ridiculously good time experimenting with freezer paper stencils (directions here). As you can see I got into a heart theme (though if you saunter over to Flickr you'll see that there were a few other designs). I don't usually think of myself as very artistically gifted but this project was easy enough that my creative vision was not too limited by lack of skill. I actually have a few extra shirts and ideas kicking around and may continue this experiment in the new year -- let me know if you want a shirt sent to you, I can only wear so many myself (though maybe this is my chance to make a fortune on Etsy).
Merry Christmas too all!
Sunday, December 24, 2006
One of my biggest pet peeves is people who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. Lately, this seems to be almost everyone. KFed got all of the underwear as part of the divorce settlement. Hot coffee is always sneaking up on laps. The attitude of “not my fault” seems to have infected our society; no one is personally responsibly for anything anymore. Since mistakes always belong to someone else, none of us are ever wrong. This is most obvious (and most maddening) in politicians, all of whom seem to refuse to admit any mistakes. Of course we made them this way, our society demands a “decider” who won’t back down. While I often find myself wishing for a leader who can admit that mistakes were made (we know everyone makes mistakes, never admitting any just proves that you’re a liar) we are not a forgiving culture. Today, apologizing almost always results in being fired.
I am no hypocrite (at least not in this instance I did almost buy leggings last week…next I’ll be claiming formal shorts are cute. Baa.). I try not to expect others to do things that I am not at least trying to accomplish myself. I own my mistakes. When something has gone wrong in my life I am quick to ask what I did to cause it, what I could have done to avoid it and what can now be done to fix it. This is usually a good thing. Owning my problems gives me a feeling of control and pro-actively searching for a solution usually expedites finding one. But, realistically, I cannot be fully responsible for all of the pain in my life and I cannot fix everything. Other people and bad luck should occasionally be blamed for their own mistakes and the cruelty of happenstance.
I suspect it might be easier to acknowledge that I cannot control everything if I believed in some higher power. If a malicious God were out to get me I could be mad at him. If a benevolent deity were in charge I could assume that the pain I feel today is part of some grand plan that will bring unknowable happiness someday in the future. Additionally this would allow me to be less annoyed with the rest of humanity. An evil force would certainly be the best explanation for Applebees (no steak is improved by a thick coating of cheese whiz. there is no such thing as riblettes.).
Perhaps I would have accepted my lack of control years ago if I hadn’t lead such a charmed life. Thus far I have been able to control most things so that I’ve only had to beat myself up over a few minor details. My life is still pretty cushy but the minor details are bothering me more. It’s the same issues coming up over and over again and eventually they wear a girl down. I think if I could stop feeling responsible for every aspect of my life I could learn to be happier with myself.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon this post about buying glasses online (something I will be trying out in 07 because even if the glasses suck I’ll happily pay $30 just to have something to blog about -- I'm considering these).
Today I went to the eye doctor for the second time in two weeks. My last visit was mainly the routine eye check up with a little complaining about my eyes stinging thrown in for spice. It turns out my eyes were stinging because they were dry because… I SLEEP WITH MY EYES OPEN! I'm a freak! Or so I thought… turns out that about 20% of people sleep with their eyes open and more than likely (since I have yet to wake up to a boyfriend screaming “zombie beast I renounce you!”) I sleep with my eyes open just a small crack – much like The Blair Witch Project sleeping with your eyes open doesn’t live up to the hype.
At this first eye appointment I was able to procure a new glasses prescription but when I asked for a contact lens prescription I was told I’d have to come back for a fitting. This seemed slightly weird since all of my previous contact lens prescription getting has only required holding out my hand post eye exam. The doctor wanted me to consider switching to daily disposables so I figured that this required some sort of fitting that my 2 week disposables (actual average disposal schedule: 4-6 weeks) could do without. So I made a second appointment to trek up to the
When I arrived the doctor told me to throw away the lenses I had in my eyes (you will soon see that this was a ploy used to lower my defenses by making me blind), then she told me that I had the choice between the standard daily disposables and a new kind that should help keep moisture in my eyes. Moisture lenses seemed like a good idea for someone with a night time paranoia problem.
Brianna: How much more?
EDL: Well the standard package is $300 and these are $400, that includes the fitting and 3 months of lenses.
I was somehow able to contain my thoughts in my head so that they didn’t spew out all over the examination room but I’ll now share them with you.
B: $400 ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE?
My current lenses come in packages of 6 for $20 so a yearly supply should run me just over $173 (actual yearly cost due to me ignoring the suggested disposal time: ~$58). Unless someone was going to offer a very compelling reason why these new lenses were going to change my life I wasn’t ready to pay more than twice the cost for ¼ of the product (who knew contacts were so much like bras?).
This is the part of the story where Brianna overcomes her self esteem issues for a short moment and instead of just accepting the reality of paying $400 for dubious amounts of improvement she actually stands up for herself. If you see me later in the week remember to pat me on the back. Keep in mind that I’m having this entire conversation while pretty much blind – perhaps not being able to see the other person’s face made standing up for myself easier – perhaps I should forgo lenses all together in favor of self esteem (I love saving money!).
B: I don’t understand why this is so expensive, in the past I have never paid extra for a contact lens prescription
EDL: Well this is a fitting
B: Ok, I’ve never paid extra for a fitting
EDL: Well you get 3 months of lenses too
B: But I don’t want that, I just want a prescription then I’ll buy the contacts somewhere else
EDL: Well I think our price is competitive
(this must be a lie – I just looked up the regular Acuvue daily lenses on 1800contacts.com and a 3 month supply is ~$68)
B: Well I’d like to have the opportunity to shop around.
At this point EDL left the room. She gave no indication of where she was going or when she’d be back. Wow, I thought, I am SCARY. She came back about 5 minutes later with a EDG (eye doctor gentleman) who I guess acts as the clean up crew after a battle is lost because he just asked me two questions, told EDL to get me some free lenses, and wrote me a prescription. End of appointment.
Lens fittings? Code for “rip off.”
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I was probably born a skeptic (oh sure mom, you *say* squash is good for me but you also seem to think that a baby brother was an awesome idea.) but my natural inquisitive nature (But why? But why? But why?) didn’t blossom into the cynical eye rolling fun that you see today until I read Carl Sagan’s “The Demon Haunted World.”
In junior high and high school my steady diet of Christopher Pike novels led to the somewhat common geeky desire to flirt with the occult – I went through a very amusing “I want to be a witch!” phase (and people wonder why I was still a virgin at graduation time…) and fantasized about a career as a “parapsychologist” (That is the most embarrassing thing that I have ever written.) until my Dad announced that he would not be funding a degree is such nonsense. I think most teens (even most people) want to believe in magic – teenage life tends to suck a lot(unless you’re having one of those enchanted adolescent experiences) and a little spell casting or alien abduction could certainly have helped out with bullies or boys. To make matters worse the media seems insistent on presenting fantastical stories in the light of real science (I think things are actually better than they were when Sagan was alive – shows like Myth Busters and Penn and Teller: Bullshit! seem to be helping to clarify what is science).
The biggest revelation that “The Demon Haunted World” inspired was the idea that the real world is already so fantastic that we shouldn’t need to make up stories. Reality is amazing. The fact that all the pieces of the universe fit together to create stars and planets and earth and forests and life is infinitely more exciting then any story about magic (The Lord of the Rings excepted – that’s some awesome fantasy with one hot elf piece of ass). I also find the reliability of science appealing, things happen in a consistent manner even if we don’t always understand the why or how (I realize this might make things seem less special but I’d argue that consistency is pretty damn special to begin with). I am constantly trying to force this book on others (somewhat unsuccessfully I might add – no one seems interested in reading a science book *sigh*), I feel like if everyone were able to see our universe as wonderful they would have no need for astrology and crystals and Nostradamus and society could get on with advancing instead of dreamily devoting energies to pseudoscience.
While criticizing pseudoscience Sagan is very careful not to trample on any of the world’s dominant religions (if I remember correctly he has very few qualms about offending Wiccans and followers of fairies) but it seems that religion is currently the biggest threat to science. I hate to fall into the trap of speaking for the dead but I think we all know that Carl (not to mention the founding fathers and Elvis) would not be happy with the way we currently side step science when it comes to politically controversial (though not factually controversial...) issues such as euthanasia, evolution and contraception. Religion should be used as a crutch not as an excuse to lie (Why am I so tempted to end this sentence with “to children”? Please try not to lie to anyone.).
Woo – got a bit preachy and off track there.
Everyone – please read “The Demon Haunted World,” it is awesome. I’d offer to read some mumbo jumbo about numerology in trade but I’d be lying and I just got done advocating against that.
you can read more musings on Sagan here
Monday, December 18, 2006
Black and White Creatures
I'm so happy to see this game headed for my little white bundle of joy. I was impressed with the first PC installment to the point of obsession and it seems like a great fit for the DS (game can be played in short installments; game doesn’t really require huge displays of graphical power…).
Unsolicited advice: Black and White had two key game design problems that caused me to quit the game at level 3 (of 4):
2. Training the creature was boring and time consuming and seemed relatively unimportant in levels 1 and 2 – then I hit level 3 and suddenly couldn’t function. Frankly, I couldn’t have done without the creature entirely.
The stylus should be a huge improvement on the mouse when it comes to casting spells so I’m convinced that hurdle has probably been jumped but someone over at Lion better be improving the creature training model. Either make it fun (yes, fun – it is a GAME after all, not my job) or make it optional (The fact that the game is called "Black & White Creatures doesn't seem very promising).
Cutesy and very Japanese Chibi Robo was my second favorite Game Cube game of 06 (no one could beat out Mario Tennis) and I’m super excited to see it coming to the DS. I think the outdoor element has the potential to introduce some interesting new environment challenges and playing gardener beats maid most days. The screen shots also imply that the game designers have played around with different input options for the touch screen which I'm intregued by.
Unsolicited Advice: Chibi Robo gets a bit repetitive – in order to get happy points I had to scrub the floor obsessively and after a while it felt like a job, in the DS version I’d like a little more fun (there’s that word again) and a little less drudgery.
Wishing and Hoping
Could someone please start working on DS versions of the following?
Please?!? It’s already a Nintendo franchise and I fantasize about flicking pikmin at enemies using the stylus.
This could be a challenge since Katamari’s soul may be owned by Sony but the stylus could offer lots of new rolling potential and bouncing from screen to screen sounds like so much fun (hey, it worked for Sonic Rush).
Taiko Drum Master
I think Ouendan (aka Elite Beat Agents only better) proved that the DS is a great medium for rhythm based games and in my opinion drum master beats guitar hero.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
The following recipe was written for a hand mixer but this year I let my kitchen aide do the dirty work and everything turned out just fine.
(makes about 4 and 1/2 dozen)
2C firmly packed light brown sugar
1C butter-flavored vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp rum extract
2 Tbsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
Beat sugar and shortening till blended; Beat in eggs, milk,and both extracts. In another bowl combine flour, coffee, cream of tartar, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. With mixer at low speed add flour mixture to shortening mixture and blend. Divide the dough in half and roll into two logs app. 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 3 hours (or overnight). oven temp 350. Slice cookies 1/4 inch thick and place 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
For Entering drawings for free sandwiches
Brianna – 555-3663
Likes PB&J with strawberry J
allergic to melons
For very awkwardly delivering my digits to boys
Brianna – 555-2883
Much cooler than I seem
Don’t bother if you have low tolerance for awful television
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I have a new favorite website: WorldNetDaily. Today they bring us two very important stories about how to raise heterosexual boys with big penises and girls who run from all penises.
(aka “Jimmy-Bobby put down that tofutti right this instant!”)
Shouldn’t this lead to a disproportionate amount of bottle fed babies turning into big flaming tofu lovin’ queers? (Think about *that* next time you see a breast feeding mother – I mean sure you have to suffer through the agony of her feeding her baby in public but at least you know she’s only doing it to save the world from the evil gays).
Through stories, allegories, illustrations, and memory-making projects, "Raising Maidens of Virtue" covers topics such as guarding the tongue, idleness, sibling relationships, honoring parents, contentment, modesty, purity, cleanliness, and feminine biblical beauty.
I don’t know what half of those things are (memory making projects? feminine biblical beauty?!?!) but damned if they don’t sound mighty nice!
Mothers and daughters alike will experience the wonder and charm of the enchanting maiden years through the winsome watercolor vignettes of Johannah Bluedorn!
I’m not sure whose maiden years these people are talking about but “enchanting” is not a word that I would use to describe my adolescence. Also I’m pretty sure no artist has yet to create the water color vignette that captures the beauty of the following events (but if they have I think you know what to get me for Christmas!):
- The day a 7th grade boy grabbed bosom on the playground just to check if I stuff my bra
- The time my pediatrician demanded I take a pregnancy test before he’d give me medicine for my horribly ugly acne (Dear Doctor: being 15, on the math team, and having acne that requires prescription medicine is all the birth control I need, thanks!)
- The time my “friends” refused to let me come with them to homecoming unless I got myself a boyfriend (2 days should be plenty of time if you really apply yourself!)
Monday, December 11, 2006
- Everything you need to dress Frosty in his finest
- Kit contains "coal" for the eyes and mouth, a "carrot" nose, three buttons and a pipe
- All carved of wood and mounted on skewers
- Knit hat completes the ensemble, and also acts as a storage bag
Clearly the folks over at Restoration Hardware (Aka "I'm nostalgic for the WASP-y childhood I never had inc.") are out to take the fun out of winter. If I'm going to buy a snowman kit in order to make your standard run of the mill Frosty why even bother with a "carrot" nose? Why not just stick on a plastic human nose and glass eyes? Why even bother making a snowman at all? Mr. Potato Head is inside where it's warm. This snowman kit is clearly the invention of some OCD mom who cannot live with her child's imperfect creative snowman.
Speaking of imperfect snowmen...
A few years ago my brother and some friends built a large anatomically correct snowman prominently constructed in the front yard of a house on a busy (for a town of 4000) intersection. Some little old neighbor lady didn't take to kindly to the snow penis and called the police to report this egregious incident of indecent exposure of/to the elements. A police officer pulled into the driveway just as baby brother and company were applying the final touches to their sculpture and asked them to dignify the snowman by getting rid of the penis (pants were not discussed -- it's so sad how the cops immediately jump to castration -- cruel and unusual, no?). Like any good clan of hoodlum artists they refused to clean up their snowman thus forcing the cop to knock the offensive member off with his club (who knew that American police officers were still carrying around billy clubs?).
I am not officially advocating R rated snowmen but no one can deny that the John Holmes of snowmen is certainly more interesting than Mr. Restoration "Frosty" Hardware. If my parents had imposed the snowman kit on my little bro I am certain that he would never have developed the creative genius that inspired him not only to make a dirty snowman but to remember to photograph the police officer knocking off the snow penis and then our world would be without two great pieces of art.
Update: So I'm listening to Christmas in Frisco when a lovely tune called "Who put the dick on the snowman?" starts to play -- i searched a bit for a clip or lyrics online and I found this:
Sunday, December 10, 2006
An excerpt from this book appears in the This American Life episode I recommended a couple of weeks ago -- I was worried that the rest of the book could not measure up in comparison to the emotional brilliance of the radio program but luckily I was wrong. I wish I could force the entire country to read this book -- I do not think it would be possible to be against gay marriage after getting such a touching inside glimpse into Dan and Terry's relationship. In addition to being poignant and touching the book is also incredibly funny -- You should be reading it instead of my boring blog.
KrisTees -24-01 23rd Ave Astoria New York
KrisTees opened up a couple of months ago just a few blocks from my home and while the miserly old woman who lives in my pocketbook normally avoids any store without a sale rack my quickly failing search for a Christmas dress tempted me into visiting last weekend. At Kristees I was able to use the following excuses to justify purchasing the adorable (if slightly pricey) red dress you see pictured at left:
1. Two Christmas parties to attend and no red dresses in my closet
2. I'll be supporting a local merchant!
3. I just got a raise... I deserve a slightly pricey dress.
4. Once Christmas is over I could totally wear this to work over jeans.
5. I look hot. (in general even if not in this picture...)
Method Aroma Capsule
Let's hear it for the first random want to migrate into a recommendation! Gillian picked up a pear scented capsule for me at Target a couple of weeks ago and the offensive moldy smell is all but gone! The pear smell is a huge improvement, however it is a little too bed and breakfast-y for my taste. The capsule claims to be good for 6 weeks and I think come January I'll replace pears with something a little less fruity -- the lavender and lemon grass sound tempting.
Soma FM Christmas in Frisco
I am a sucker for the holidays -- I love baking cookies and decorating and buying presents and these activities are made all the more enjoyable when backed up with soundtrack of Christmas tunes. The problem is that you can only hear "Silent Night" so many times before it starts to grate. Enter Soma FM (who's indie pop rocks station I've long been a fan of) -- this year they have a streaming Christmas station. Christmas in Frisco plays a great mix of new rock-y Christmas tunes (right now on the song history: "All I want for Christmas (is to get Krunk)" and "jingle bell surf") along with the old tunes that bring back Christmas at my grandma and grandpa's (where they used to make the grandkids sing for their presents). If this station is not big enough to fill all of your holiday music needs you should also check out Maybe This Christmas
Thursday, December 07, 2006
From the Times article on the Grammys:
“…adult-friendly pop singer John Mayer..”
Ouch. I can only assume this is Johnny’s saddest day ever. Unless he’s Mr. Bright Side and read that as “pop singer and kinky sex aficionado John Mayer” instead of “stale, easy listening, mom-friendly pop singer John Mayer.”
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I have an affinity for really bad TV.
I know what you’re thinking. How bad could it be? Bad. Ridiculously bad. Amy’s secret tv pleasure is 7th Heaven (don’t lie Amy, you love that show) and even she is disgusted at some of the things I choose to watch. Lately the junkfood of my TV world is The Girls Next Door.
Yeah. I’ll pause while you reassess your image of me (I assume that in addition to “cool” and “has good taste” things like “feminist” are also coming off of the list).
For those of you who have not watched this show (hello, EVERYONE) allow me to summarize:
It’s a “reality” program that follows the lives of 3 of Hugh Heffner’s “girlfriends.” These are random blonde girls with fake boobies who live in the mansion and go to events with Hugh. No one (except for Holly…) believe that Hugh is actually in a relationship with any of these women. Up until this show got “famous” (discussing this show involves lots of quote marks) none of the “girlfriends” had actually appeared in Playboy – they were all playboy try out rejects. I think he has like 7 “girlfriends” – apparently the other 4 still want their mothers to love them because they don’t appear on the show. Allow me to summarize the characters’ personalities with a 100% made up sentence that each might say.
Holly: Baby Puffin (aka Hef – I am not making this nickname up) is my best friend, he totally likes me more than the other girls. Everyone knows I’m his real girlfriend.
Bridget: you have the cutie-wotie-est vagina ever in the world wide world! And your boobs look like little kitten eyes, I just wanna hug ‘em!
Kendra: Let’s play naked gangsta football! I just got new blingtastic pasties!
Hugh: Get off my lawn!
I cannot explain my fascination with this show. I think it’s related to my fascination with all things vaguely freakish (Mormons, renaissance fair, zebroids, Sandra Lee, my hair..) and there’s certainly an element of “Car wreck! Must not stop staring!” but every Sunday night at 11pm I think “oh, Girls Next Door!!!” I have too much pride to Tivo this show – electronics are very judge-y and I’d hate to ruin their spotless image of how cool I am.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Fertile Mules? God does not allow such blasphemy!
But he does! He did! SIXTY times since 1927! Forgive my exuberance but I think this may be a sign that he’s now totally ok with gay marriage.
Yes, I know this is interesting to me alone…. what can I say? I love anything verging on freakish and hybrids seem almost sci fi.
Wikipedia offers the following shocking equine math:
Female Horse + Male Donkey = Mule (common)
Male Horse + Female Donkey = Hinny (less common)
Female Mule + Male Horse = Horse (usually – and also: CRAZY)!
Apparently there is no record of fertile male mules (suckers!).
At Mules Days in the past I have also seen:
Male Horse + Female Zebra = Zorse
Female Horse + Male Zebra = Zebroid (there is some controversy between the math on the hybrid page and the math on the zebroid page, it's possible a zebroid is just Boy Zebra + anything)
Wikipedia hybrid page here -- let's hear it for the freaks!
Monday, December 04, 2006
I am on purpose not extending "post every day" into the month that involves Christmas mainly because I'm fairly certain a few days out of this month may leave me internet-less. I do not yet know how I will survive this fate, however I have chosen not to make it worse by breaking a promise. I don't really cut myself any slack when it comes to promises (or wearing brown shoes with black pants, or getting places on time, or ... most things). So I didn't promise to post in December, secretly I thought I'd post at least 3 times a week but now... it feels like such a failure to break my 33 day straight blog posting run.
It is perhaps more of a failure to force you lovely people into reading this drivel every day for the rest of the month. At I'm safe from the judge-y cells -- I never promised to be entertaining.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I graduated from college in 2000 at the very end of the dot com boom. I interviewed a lot during the spring and summer of that year – graduating with a Comp Sci degree at this time meant that interviewing was ridiculously fun. I was flown around the country and ate a lot of nice meals – at once point I commented to a friend that interviewing was the best job ever. I eventually settled on a position programming graphics for video slot machines partially because the whole dot com business plan seems suspect to me (I won’t claim that I foresaw the bubble burst but I was cautious enough to avoid the whole scene – not that it mattered, I was still jobless come 2002) and partially because slot machines were vaguely related to video games but mostly because I’m a sucker for a job with a high novelty factor. The job made for great ice breaker talk -- people loved to chat about slot machines and I enjoyed being the novelty act . Ironically, I hate gambling.
Growing up I spent a lot of time in
My year and half of intimate contact with the inner workings of slots decimated any belief I might have had in luck. Slot machine mechanics leave no room for chance. Table games seem more promising – there is no equation in the background sealing the odds against you and the presence of human opponents makes the game more open to error. Poker, they say, is more about reading people than it is about luck. It’s probably lucky that I am not tempted to put money on my ability to tell what people are thinking. I’ve never been an empath, people are usually a mystery to me. Unfortunately reading people is a gamble that remains important outside of casinos. I think my doubting of luck and my inability to read people are both extensions of being the type of person who would end up as a programmer to begin with. I know luck is involved when you pull the handle of a slot machine not only because I have been the watchmaker but because even without first hand knowledge I know that the machines are deliberately constructed to make the house win. I do not know what people are thinking because brains (and hearts and souls…) have no program to follow. Even when I successfully catch on to what others are thinking I never know how to react and, not being able to predict the likely response to my action leaves me feeling like reacting at all is too much of a gamble to risk.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Blogging every day for an entire month has been much more rewarding than I had expected. I’ve found that if I make myself think about writing I usually find I have something to say. The most obvious lesson that so much blogging has taught me (And most likely all of you) is that I am ridiculously self involved. As a result of this charming personality trait I have become obsessed with site meter. I average 23 hits a day, and while half of those are me correcting typos I still feel pretty damn popular. Site meter has also taught me a lot about the audience I am reaching. I like to believe that my readers are a motley band of admirers but in reality I know I’m mostly talking to my mom, the girl who sits next to me at work, and 3-4 very bored friends. Site meter has taught me that there are also a few strangers out there -- most of whom find my blog through random web searches. I suspect they are all greatly disappointed in what they find here but the rest of you can be assured that if you ever lose your bookmarks or tags my blog can be found through any of the following web searches:
“Female Dork” (5th hit -- this is clearly my niche, there are only 4 female dorks more google-able than me!)
"Britney Spears getting out of a car" (3rd hit) (this is the most popular way to find my blog, no less than 5 very disappointed naked beaver seekers ended up here through this method)
“whatdoes a 32c breasts look like pictures” (5th hit -- this 13 year old boy must have been the most disappointed of all, clearly his parents are forcing aol parental controls on him and mom took away the Victoria Secret catalogs he had hidden under the mattress. An now this: My blog looks like boobie gold -- there are at least 2 posts on this blog about my boobs -- and yet no pictures -- I'm sorry, I know hormones are a bitch) (typo not mine (for once) -- do I sense a little once handed typing?)
Updated to include this last minute gem:
"sandra lee's panties" (7th hit)
Friday, December 01, 2006
This was not a recommended "Tip" or "Idea" from Pillsbury's icing department. I promise you that even though the recipe asks you to stir your icing and brown stuff in a bowl Sandra NEVER uses a bowl to stir in icing fixins' (something she is a huge huge proponent of).
Bonus Sandra Knowledge: Did you know that if you add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to cool whip it tastes EXACTLY like real whipped cream?
Let the hellish sprinkling begin! With the help of my third cocktail I began layering on the first circle of cake hell starting with pumpkin seeds.
While shopping for the ingredients (if I can be so bold as to use such an official term to refer to things like cornnuts) we often felt tempted to buy other things to add to the cake -- once you've committed to sprinkling popcorn on a cake you become kind of eager to try anything -- we almost bought sprinkles thinking that so much sprinkling should not be possible without actual sprinkles. For the sake of preserving the brown we resisted.
I apologize if this close up image is too much for some readers to handle -- I debated sparing your eyes and stomachs but if i had to eat apple pie filling and pop corn in the same bite you guys at least have to suffer through the visual.
Here it is, the moment of doom -- giggles and gags coming out all at once.
Bring in the replacement dessert. Nothing washes down Kwanzaa like "black and tan" ice cream.
Happy Holidays -- may your god bless you during this joyous season and keep Sandra Lee far far away from your celebratory foods.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
On a whim one night last week Gillian and I decided that we must “bake” this cake and share the experience with you, our dear readers. Shockingly no cocktails were involved in this decision making process (we will not repeat that mistake).
Recipe courtesy "Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Desserts", Miramax Books, 2003.
1 (10 to 12-ounce) purchased angel food cake
1 container (16 ounce) vanilla frosting
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (21-ounce) container apple filling or topping
1 (1.7-ounce) package corn nuts
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup popped popcorn
Using a serrated knife, cut cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place bottom cake layer, cut side up, on a serving platter. Mix frosting, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon in large bowl until combined. Spread about 1/4 of the frosting over top of cake layer on platter. Top with second cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake to coat completely. Spoon apple pie filling into hole in center of cake. Place candles atop cake. Sprinkle top of cake with some corn nuts, pumpkin seeds, and popcorn. Sprinkle remaining corn nuts and pumpkin seeds around base of cake.
Things that are wrong with this recipe:
- The obvious: corn nuts? WTF? Seriously. WTF? Even better: on the show she keeps calling these acorns.
- Why did she go to so much effort to make the cake brown? I have a sneaking suspicion that Sandra thought “well, people who celebrate Kwanzaa are brown, they probably like brown things!” I’m surprised she didn’t incorporate watermelon and fried chicken into the cake.
- Anyone who has seen Sandra’s show knows she’s obsessed with filling the hole in store bought angel food cakes. This seems to suggest some sexual frustration on Sandra’s part.
Gillian and I completed our challenge tonight but I’m holding off on the official blow by blow until she has emailed me photographic evidence. I will, however, say this: crunching into a corn nut when your mind is thinking “cake” will trigger the gag and giggle reflexes simultaneously.
Update: Read about the horror in detail here.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Amy: my god. this is the third day, nearly in a row of Britney Spears getting out of a car and showing off her naughty bits to the world
Bri: i know!
Amy: I mean, it's getting so commonplace, I'm not even INTERESTED anymore!
Bri: their outfits (esp Brit's) are so so wrong
Amy: they are so strange!
Bri: i know, i mean -- don't tell anyone this -- but I would probably wear one of your fish nets if I had a few drinks.
Amy: and that's fine. but we're not famous
Bri: and my boobs would totally be CLOTHED
Amy: and YES
Bri: and i don't have BABIES (i totally intend to be fishnet free post babies) (maybe...)
Amy: well, i don't want to make any crazy promises like that, but I mean really, wear a shirt Brit.
Bri: I think she thinks she *IS* wearing a shirt
Amy: she also thought marrying kfed was a good idea. Brit is not known for her thinking skills.
Bri: but she's divorcing him! I had hope!
Amy: yeah, that hope lasted the two point five seconds it took her to hook up with the city of lights over there.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I am constantly unable to decide if I should be buying organic food.
I buy organic milk mainly because here in
This is my main concern about buying organic: I often feel like I’m being asked to pay a lot more for groceries for dubious reasons. It seems highly possible that organic food is healthier or somehow better but I’ve yet to find any conclusive proof of this and I hate to think that I’m being scammed. I also hate to think that I’m being reduced to superstition and paranoia when making my food choices. So much of what I read in favor of buying organic seems to use scare tactics to sell the products and too often the scary bits don’t seem to have any hard facts supporting them.
I do no doubt that agriculture companies are using way way way too many pesticides. This excess bothers me, I’m not categorically against the idea of pesticides – farmers shouldn’t lose their entire crop to bugs (mom, I totally support your never-ending war against the evil squash bug, go ahead and spray them) but I’d like them to use as little chemical assistance as possible just in case it turns out 20 years down the line that the chemicals cause horrible diseases. It certainly seems likely that some remnant of these pesticides could remain on or get into my food and since no one knows for sure if this is happening and what it might be causing I’d like to see a little restraint.
Part of the problem here is that I don’t know which media source to trust. You’d like to think one could trust the FDA – it is their job to regulate the food supply but given the power of lobbies these days all government agencies seem suspect of bowing down to large corporations. I’ve read conflicting reports in most of the mainstream press (the New York Times, Time Magazine, etc). Media directed at the choir (“Organic Style," Organic Consumer) is obviously totally in support of buying organic. Finding a reliable media source on any “controversial” topic is ridiculously difficult these days (I bemoan this fact every time election season rolls around). I google things like “evidence of pesticides in food” and “evidence that pesticide residue causes harm” and nothing seems both conclusive and trustworthy so I close my browser and walk away no more or less sure of what should go into my mouth.
- Organic food is healthier/nonorganic food might kill you
- Organic food is sold by companies that care about things like the environment and animal rights and workers rights
I’ve spent most of this post unable to come to any conclusion of #1 so let’s discuss #2. I care a lot about #2, probably more than I care about the health issue mostly because I’m pretty damn sure that ConAgra and its ilk are violating #2 on purpose every single day and don’t see any reason to stop. At least when it comes to health I believe that everyone wants to produce healthy food (there’s just genuine disagreement about what healthy is), but it doesn’t seem like most agriculture companies care much about protecting the environment and animals and employees. It is not the job of the organic food movement to police any of these things and I should not count on them to do so. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be anyone’s job. In the past I’ve often figured that since organic companies were smaller and left leaning they would be more likely to care about producing a morally clean product but now that the big food companies have entered the organic market this is no longer a safe bet (if it ever was).
I would like to believe that the food I buy is safe and healthy (ok, except for the Ben and Jerry’s…) and that the people and animals who helped get this food to me were not unnecessarily harmed in the process. This seems like a reasonable request but even as the organic movement gains more traction I do not feel any more confident that the food supply is closer to what I want. Today I read an article on the movement to certify organic fish. The only way to do this is to certify fish farms which are generally bad for the environment and which usually produce inferior tasting fish. Is it progress to formally validate fish farms? The only food I eat these days with total confidence comes from my parent’s garden – they live 3000 miles away so relying on them to feed me is probably not a great plan. I try to do things like join the local CSA hoping that if I meet the farmer he’ll want to do nice things for me like put the least amount of pesticides necessary on my veggies. I also hope that giving my money directly to him allows him to live a comfortable life and pay whatever help he hires a reasonable wage and stay out from under the rule of big unfriendly produce conglomerates. I have no idea if my CSA membership is actually getting me a better product.
I don’t feel like I have the option of an educated choice. Eating should not be this difficult.
Monday, November 27, 2006
My family's current lab is a tiny black girl named Annie (well technically she's named Anise because after Sage(brush) and
A friend of mine once came home with me during college break and after spending a week with my family said to me, “Do you realize that your family not only talks to your dog but *FOR* your dog?” It’s true – we included
Mom: How was everyone’s day?
Brianna: Blah. programmers. blah. Annie how was your day?
Kurt: Annie says that she went on TWO walks today and saw an owl out in the field so the day was pretty damn splendid.
Two walks an owl AND a field? I’m not sure blathering on about software development and a few glasses of wine can hope to compete.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Making the soda was really easy – the only challenging step is peeling and grating a bunch of ginger root. I thought this would be the perfect test for my microplane but next time I think I’ll go back to a regular grater. I’ve happily used the microplane to shred small amounts of ginger in the past but halfway through my processing job for the soda the tines were caked with ginger fibers and I had to pause and clean the thing (not an easy task – ginger could probably compete with hemp for sturdiest fiber). The soda was supposed to sit in a warm sport until the bottle got hard which was supposed to take 24-48 hours but after only 14 hours my soda bottle felt rock hard (dirty!). Because the recipe warned that leaving the soda out for too long could lead to an explosion (dirtier!) I loosen the cap and let off a little of the head (…I really thought this would be a G rated entry) and let it sit for another 15 hours.
As fun as the soda making process was the truly important thing is taste. Typically I’m unimpressed with most commercial ginger ale – it’s ok but it’s never very gingery. I’ve had some of the premium ginger ale that’s on the market and while it’s always impressed me I find it hard to justify paying $2/bottle for what is essentially sugar water (I imagine the cost will be even harder to justify in the future now that I know how cheap ginger ale ingredients are). For the purposes of this taste test I used your standard Canada Dry ginger ale. I’m testing the store and home varieties plain and with some bourbon.
Ginger Ale – Straight Up.
Mouth Feel: lightly bubbly
Taste: sweet, not particularly gingery
Final: The Canadian’s in the audience should demand that this product be renamed
Brianna’s Home Brew
Mouth Feel: tingly (not a lot of bubble)
Taste: light, not too sweet, could be spicier
Final: Yum… but not yumtastic.
While my Home made brew is infinitely better than the corner market swill I’m still not thrilled with it. I’d like my version to be spicier but I’m not entirely sure how to get there – I don’t think more ginger alone will do it. Some recipes use ginger simple syrup instead of sugar and raw ginger which might help since the ginger flavor might be more infused but shouldn’t heat bring down the spice? I also wonder if using the microplane to gate the ginger was a mistake. The pieces of ginger were very small which meant I could avoid straining the soda but I lost a fair bit of ginger juice in the process. I’d also like it to pack more bubbles – something I might get with fresher yeast (the yeast I used was at least a year old).
Jim and Ginger
(yes, I know it’s usually Jack and Ginger but Ginger’s a slut and I like Jim better)
Mmmm bourbon. I don’t often (ok, ever…) drink bourbon straight but it can’t taste much different than this. The sugar (ok, corn syrup) probably provides a nice mask for the alcohol but it doesn’t add much in terms of flavor.
Brianna’s Home Brew
Mmm punchy! Strangely enough the soda seems much spicier when mixed with the bourbon – possibly this is the bourbon’s own spice coming through but I have to believe that the ginger ale is highlighting it. This drink is MUCH superior to the Canadian variety and I think this will fast become my ginger ale consumption weapon of choice (but it won’t beat out the bourbon consumption weapon of choice.. mmmm mint juleps).
I hope to experiment further with ginger ale and soda in general. Any tips on upping the spice are much appreciated and if anyone knows of a brewing supply store that sells root beer extract (preferably in NYC) OR (even better) a source for winter green so I can make the soda from scratch please let me know.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
I could just write a general recommendation for This American Life but I’ve instead managed to pinpoint my favorite episode – If you don’t like this you probably won’t like the rest of them. Also, if you don’t like this you are a heartless beast who most likely already works for the devil. The episode starts out with a few stories about people being disillusioned of their misconceptions -- in that spirit I offer a misconception of my own.
Shockingly the “Mule Capital of the World” does not have tons of Jews but I did go to elementary school with a few Jehovah’s Witnesses and I knew they had to go to church on Saturday and didn’t celebrate the same holidays as my family and well… Jehovah and Jewish both start with the letter “J” so I concluded that “Jehovah’s Witness” was just another word for Jewish. I made this inference sometime in late elementary school and didn’t give the issue much more thought until 9th or 10th grade when I suddenly realized how wrong I was. Luckily I rethought my religious assessment before making any horribly embarrassing statements but the people in this episode of TAL are not so lucky.
The closing story is by Dan Savage of Savage Love fame and is the most hilarious and touching story every told about gay marriage. I’ve listened to it at least 4 times and I still get all teared up.
TAL just started pod casting – subscribe here and each week’s episode will automatically appear on your ipod every Monday morning.
A few months ago I spent way too much time searching for the perfect laptop bag. I had been living with a large Dickies bag that, after a couple of years of use was falling apart and I wanted to replace it with something original. I found this bag via Buy Olympia (a great site with tons of unique handcrafted products) and I love it. It got a nick in the vinyl after only a week of ownership so I was worried that it wouldn’t hold up well but after about 6 months of use that’s still the bag’s only blemish. I did see another girl on the subway with the red version so I’m not the only girl in
Joe borrowed this DS game to me and I’ve been playing it way too much. I always know when I’m playing a game too much because just as I start to fall asleep I begin to see the game in my mind and I can’t make the imagery stop and it keeps me awake. A number of years ago when I was playing a lot of Black and White I remember driving through the mountains from my house in San Francisco to Reno Nevada and thinking, “wow, there are a lot of trees here, if my villagers had this kind of forest they could build me an amazing alter.” Luckily it’s not that bad with Meteos.
I can’t believe puzzle games can still be new it seems like we should have come to the end of interesting options. Meteos is vaguely Tetris like in that blocks drop from the sky and you have clear them, you do this by moving blocks up and down to create color groups. This game uses the stylus which I had found hard to use in the past but it doesn’t bother me so much in this game. You’re only making small movements with the stylus so I think it’s slightly less taxing on my wrist than other games. I do find that moving blocks near the edge of the screen can be challenging but overall the stylus play works well. The game has lots customization options allowing you to vary game play a fair bit which makes for a lot of replayability.
I kind of hate
I tend to wear most of my pants on my hips which leads to more exposed underwear than I’m comfortable with. These panties sit comfortably below my pant line which is nice but it does mean that the public at large is missing out on how adorable they are. I love how brightly colored and happy the patterns are, though I could do without the constant branding. Mom, if you’re picking up stocking stuffers go for the polka dots, stars and guitars. The panties come in a number styles -- I like the boy briefs and the hipsters the best.
This recommendation should back up point ten on yesterday's post.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Being single bothers me to no end. Most of my friends are happily coupled (and have been for YEARS) and the fact that I haven’t met someone and been able to make it work constantly leaves me feeling like a failure. I realized this week that I am horribly embarrassed that I still have to date. Forcing myself to get out there and meet people and try to like them and look pretty and be nice and not feel bad if I’m not into him or he’s not into me is the most high stress depressing activity that I know of. To make matters worse I’m horribly confused as to how this reality happened to me. Even at my most pessimistic I did not think I would be almost 29 and single. I thought I would grow out of my awkward stage or meet a guy who got how my quirkiness was awesome, not weird (ok, a little weird, but in a good way). But here I am. It’s especially shocking because (excuse my ego for the rest of this post….) I’m a great catch.
The side benefits of dating (not to mention sticking with) me are so numerous that I can’t believe this blog can contain them. I write this not because I think I am flawless but because I truly am baffled and also because that state of being often makes me forget how together I really am and that’s a bad thing.
I sometimes find myself wanting to go up to men and say the following:
Excuse me but I noticed you’re not flirting with me/asking me out/committing to our relationship and I just wanted to let you know that this is a HUGE mistake on your part. Perhaps you are not aware of how awesome I am, I supposed that’s understandable, it’s not always obvious, but please, allow me to highlight a few of the reasons why I am the best you could ever do:
- I bake cookies all of the time for no reason and I would totally give you some! Not only that but I like to make dinner – not just canned soup that I added some seasoning to but full meals! I make my own tomato sauce (when I’m not stealing my mother’s canned sauce) and I freeze chicken stock. And (except for the cookies) almost everything I make is healthy! If you dated me you would probably lose weight and live longer.
- I come with an amazing set of friends who, if we were together, would totally be your friends. We do fun stuff all of the time and we’re all really funny. People love us and they would probably love you if you were somehow associated with us.
- You could one day become part of my family where almost no one is crazy, in fact the whole lot of them are fun to be around and rarely if ever nag/pressure/act like jerks. If things go really well my brother will fix your car and my uncle will plan your finical future and my mom will give you free medical advice. Mom also sends me homemade jam and apple sauce and when I go home they give me free frozen fish I would share this bounty with you because I am also not at all selfish.
- I’m ridiculously responsible and not in debt (save a small student loan). I have been saving money for a house. I pay all of my bills on time. My credit score is astronomical. I have TWO retirement plans.
- I’m not crazy. So many people are insane (unfortunately I have to admit that this category seems to be full of more females than males – thanks patriarchal society!). I don’t read other people’s email. I don’t expect my boyfriends to pamper me (except when it comes to killing huge bugs). I don’t need constant attention or reassurance. I don’t mind if you have friends who are girls. I am really reasonable.
- I have a pretty cool job. It’s not as cool as making video games but someday I may even go back to that. I have a lot of responsibility and people like me and trust me – I almost always deliver projects on time, on budget and with happy customers and team members (I am also fairly certain that I could apply these principles to our relationship).
- I could help you dress better. I like to shop for other people and I’ve noticed that most men (especially most geeky men – the best kind of men) are not living up to their fashion potential. Don’t worry, I’m also really cheap so we’ll be getting your new wardrobe on sale so you won’t be poor.
- Parents love me (Clearly parents are WAY smarter than boys.). They ask me to come back and visit, they are sad when their sons break up with me.
I’m totally guy friendly. I used to program. I like video games. I enjoy going to baseball games. Modest Mouse has grown on me even though they’re pretty hard rock-y. It takes me like 20 minutes to get ready in the morning.
- I’m hot. And I like sex. And I wear cute underwear almost all of the time.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
When Courtney was here a couple of weeks ago I spent much time roaming around the city watching her line up photos using her very serious looking camera. I sometimes like to think that I have some photo taking ability but seeing a real photographer in action and now seeing a few of the photos teaches me that I am only a lucky beneficiary of the digital camera age. I'm asking for a new camera for Christmas and I hope to spend some time while at my parent's house taking a few pictures around town and they'll probably look just fine -- but they won't complete with the art Courtney has created.
This was taken from my roof! it turns out that if I lived one story up I'd have an amazing view I should consider relocating next summer when the lack of walls should be less of a concern. This shot frames the city beneath the Hells Gate Bridge, the Chrysler building appears on the left just outside of the foilage and the Empire State building to its right. The slanty lipstick-like building on the right is the Citigroup Center.
Courtney's visit afforded me the opportunity to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time. I think even I could have taken a beautiful picture of this bridge -- it's so statuesque and gorgeous that I doubt it can be ruined. Bridges amaze me -- I can never quiet believe that humans can build such things.
This is clearly the best picture ever taken by any foreign tourist as it serves as a metaphor for all that is American. These Barbi's in fur coats appear in the window of a fur store on Houston. There is one African American Barbi and the last doll holds a mini American flag -- This land truly was made for you and me. While taking this pictures a woman in leather shoes walked by and yelled at us, "That store is EVIL!!!" We nodded and pointed out that we were not buying furs and were in fact kind of mocking the place by photographing their ridiculous window display but she could not be comforted and continued her unspecific "Fur is bad" diatribe. I have to admit that I don't really understand why people get so rilled up about fur and yet not about leather or the meat industry both of which also kill animals somewhat cruelly and unnecessarily. It always seems to come down to cows being less cute.
Courtney has promised to send me a few signed copies of her favorite New York shots and hopefully this will inspire me to stop being so cheap and actually make a trip to the frame shop, then I can finally get rid of the cliche vintage posters that have hung above my couch for 6 years.