Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lost code monkey

I'm writing code that address issues brought up by the postdocs in my lab, which is essential what an undergrad does - be a code monkey. Great.

On top of that I haven't made anything either, which might be why I'm moody. Rather my "extra" time has been spent on event planning - I threw a dinner party for my dept on Friday, did a tree planting ceremony on campus yesterday, and am preparing for a guest speaker's visit this Friday...

I also concluded that art is not my future. I sat in on another art talk and was not inspired at all. I think my energy will be go towards how I'm to return to engineering. Yeah, I'm a lost code monkey addicted to Latin pop like this.

new loves

Gardening and baking savory bread products have been foremost in my mind. I want it to stop raining long enough for me to prepare the grounds before we transplant our little sprouts (so many tomatoes!) The peppers are finally starting to come up too but in the same grow slots. I've had to practice some plant-icide which fills me with deep guilt.

Also I probably made one of the best loaves of bread I've made in years but of course I kinda winged it so reproducibility is unlikely. But my sourdough starter smells promising and I plan to bake a little loaf tomorrow to test.

Knitting some easy garter stitch mitts for the exchange. They're alright but I'm plotting something more complicated in the near future for another, more important gentleman in my life.

Lastly, this is fantastic (Patrick Watson's new album is actually even better than this old, rather dirge-y single but I love the aesthetic of this video). There's a new Phoenix album too. Am I the only one totally psyched about them or have they been over since appearing in Lost in Translation? I haven't yet listened to Vanderslice's latest but the title track isn't super impressive.

(But really I've been watching this and this a lot.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Re: Old and New

That would be awesome on the back pocket of pants, leading to some wonderful flirty, nerdy conversations about scanning my butt! =P Hmm, maybe I'll do a future project on that.

Anyhow since it'll be knitted, a cool triangular shawl would provide be a nice flat surface. Perhaps like this:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Old and New

QR code knitting. I want to do.Now to translate this to a graph and dig up my white yarn. Do you think the object needs to be flat-ish to read (ie. scarf, not hat)? dB please advise.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What is wrong with me?

Need to write. Instead I have an insatiable urge to knit.... a blanket. What the hell?

These are lovely though. So damn impractical, especially with summer coming up. I'm a fricking fool.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dress found in Hong Kong!

Much better with the uber-cute bunny photo, lB! I like the open finger gloves you plan to make.

I'm amazed how attached I am to this Dress. I called 3 times yesterday to the San Francisco H&M. Finally by the evening, I made a fob move and asked my brother to search for the Dress in Hong Kong. (He's getting a Masters there in computer science.)

Success on the first try at the Mong Kok H&M! No sales tax either! This further supports how Hong Kong truly is a shopping paradise.

This H&M is inside Landham Place Shopping Mall (朗豪坊) as shown below from the top of the mall. You can see the xpresscalators - long stretch of escalators, which are second in length behind those serving the Lam Kwai Fong (蘭桂坊) Soho bar district. To visit stores, you either spiral your way upward moving counterclockwise or downward moving clockwise. It's an amazingly experience even if you dislike shopping. Below the first floor you can walk across a rainbow colored fleet of stairs that feel as though you're transported into a Nintendo game. They change color, though not dynamically to your step. At the very bottom, you of course can catch the MTR subway.

(From: oldboy_evergreen's Flickr: Hong Kong set)

One last photo of Hong Kong's famous nightscape. I took it from the Intercontinental Hotel at Tsum Sa Tsui (尖沙咀) during the Chinese New Year fireworks show the day before I left in late January.

Hands down the most spectular pyrotechnics I've seen - the fireworks were framed with festive buildings in the back, which flashed lasers on occasion, and music could be heard all along the water front. I have yet to attend the Montreal Fireworks Festival and see the world's best fireworks though.

Anyhow, I got a nice end to a crappy week. Yay! My brother rocks! HK rocks! Back to being a happy kitty: =^-^=

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring: mending, cleaning, gardening

Sorry dB. Didn't mean to startle you. Here's a cute bunny to make it up.

I'm trying get all the winter washing done, make a dent in my mending pile, sweep out the cobwebs in the corners of my room, etc.

But mostly I'm excited for the weather to warm up a bit, put on a floppy hat, maybe an apron, and get my fingers into some dirt.

For now, it's back to laundering some wool and deciding what to make for the art exchange. I'm thinking of these with less silly embroidery.

Topics of conversation

lB, seeing a bloody face upon loading this blog = not cool. Fingers crossed for the Dress tomorrow...

One of my undergrad friends randomly called to ask if I had time for coffee earlier today. I didn't have anything pressing, so we met up. I'm reflecting on this meeting, because he broached the topic of dating so smoothly that I didn't suspect anything. It was a sharp contrast to the lunch meeting many summers back, during which my former physics GSI literally asked if I had a boyfriend. I hope I'm just over-analyzing topics of conversations. The chat did remind me how much I miss student politics/activism and on occasion being "first lady." But by Jove I don't have a politician's good behavior. Guess I have Berkeley written all over me!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Let the right one in

Sorry dB. Hopefully you'll have more luck tomorrow!

I wrote about 4 pages today and felt like a treat tonight.

(WARNING: Film spoilers of the movie do follow.)

Let the Right One In is the Swedish film about being a child and lonely centering around a twelve year old boy and vampire girl-boy. It's a film I've seen before but really enjoyed the first time--I'm a sucker for those vamp flicks.

Yes, the film is elegantly shot and set in the harsh and barren landscape of a wintery sub-arctic town. (Actually, what I noticed on this second viewing is that the film is wonderfully tactile. The crunching of the powdery snow, whispery sound of smoothing skin over skin, the fogging of glass and the dinge of an appartment that one imagine smells of decomp are fantastically captured.)

But what I find so affecting about it is how quick the main character Oskar is to accept and have have affection for his new friend. Even if Eli might not be a she or even alive. Sure he's bullied constantly and she encourages him to fight back but there seems to be a larger understanding that the world is not made for awkward 12 year olds. Neither of his divorced parents really seem to want Oskar and he's ostracized at school with indifferent teachers and sadistic classmates. For her part, Eli's middle age companion has to play her father, a useful cover for someone with greatly restricted hours and a face too young to rent an apartment. Yet bent over and defeated looking, he seems to have lost the ability to interact with anyone else either from lack of practice or because of his need to kill to procure blood for her. In either case, there is no glory or glamourization here. Killing is not portrayed as easy (he does it clumsily, only with great effort and is eventually caught). Also I image that Oskar will eventually age into this sad figure.

But for the time being, Oskar can be playful, sharing a rubix cube and passing messages through a wall with morse code. And the fact that this powerful vampire is very kind to him, often to her own detriment (for instance Eli eats a snack that he buys for her to prevent hurting his feelings even though she has to painfully throw it up later), I think points to her own loneliness.

But it may be a pragmatic move. Eli cannot force him to become her new caretaker, just as she can't force her way into a home without being asked. So while killing Oskar may be an easy task for her, making him leave his home and willingly become her sole companion is another matter--perhaps requiring love.

In the end they cling to each other in a way that is desperate and at expense of the rest of the world. Does that speak to being isolated and inexperienced or something fundamental about human loneliness? I don't know but I still find it touching.

Fail whale hits H&M

I've been diligently calling H&M every day to ask about this Dress. They had one available last night, so I placed it on reserve and took the BART into the city after work. It made my day, especially since I was down after reading critiques on my rejected grant that afternoon.

Sadly, the fail whale stuck. The Dress wasn't anywhere in H&M - not in one of the 6 or so closets where reserved clothes are, not on the shelf, and not on the dressing room racks. Fours sales attendants even searched with me, but no avail.

I'm soon to throw in my towel. Maybe this Dress and I were never meant to be.

One last try tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We've been Tweeted!

Being the brilliant dumb bunny that I am, I had to google for our blog, because I don't have it bookmarked. The top link was a sweet surprise - we've actually been linked to in some amazingly awesome person's Twitter note! And it's not anyone either of us has cooked for!

Tracy, wherever you are - you totally deserve a smiling kawaii treat made by us ^_^

Monday, April 13, 2009

Virtual boy

I'm still skeptical about the material existence of lB's boyfriend. Guys just don't sneak notes and travel money into their girlfriends' bags. Sure, he exists in jpeg form and mysterious cell phone beeps and even asked about a new blog post. But this inquiry could just be lB's surreptitious way of getting me to post more. And lB could be great at photoshop and hacking her phone. Feel free to prove me wrong the next time you visit, lB. =P


I was going to write today but there's a new Mythbusters (demolition derby special)... Needless to say i'm watching some awesome car crashes instead of writing about what style has to do with film ontology for Andre Bazin.

In addition to finding the destruction sexy, it's filmed in the East Bay. I'm a fan girl--what of it?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"The Dress"

lB mentioned "the Dress" - yes, that d must be capitalized! To provide background on "the Dress", it all started yesterday when lB and I went shopping at H&M. We picked up some tops to try on, and in passing, I picked up a short metallic black-gray dress as the silly item to try on.

To our surprise, that dress made me look hot and hugged my curves so wonderfully well. Both of us fall in the "cute" category, never the "hot" category, so the fact that this Dress made me look hot was remarkable. Unfortunately, I didn't feel justified in buying it, so I let it go.

We continued shopping, but all I could think about was the Dress. I eventually decided that I would go on a date in this Dress...with the guy who wanted to take me out a while back. I even called him a couple times during our shopping outing in hopes of gauging his interest in a proper fancy date. He didn't pick up though. Nonetheless, lB and I decided to return to H&M for the Dress - after all, if he doesn't ask me out within a month, I could always return the Dress.

Unfortunately, we couldn't find the Dress anywhere when we returned to H&M.

We even went back today. This time the Dress existed, but in all sizes, except for size 2! grr... Anyhow, I got the description and will call the store in hopes of getting this dress and an amazing future date. Can't wait to leave that boy utterly speechless.

Playing with food

I'm dB, and I'm 12 years old*. I play with my food:

It's some type of owl (or panda meets lemur, according to lB).

* on occasion I'm 3...or 25.

lB and I made Easter dinner, which was nontraditional. There was a Venezuelan theme dinner complete with pabellón, yuca frita, arepa con queso, plátanos fritos, and white rice. The black beans failed...so it wasn't a proper traditional Venezuelan meal. >_<

Everything looked nice and golden.

And bunny-fied lB did a pretty job with the plating.

She's a personified spring.

Here's your virtual Venezuelan dinner (lB says, "heeheehee. You can't eat it."):

Starting from the white rice going clockwise, there's the fried plantains (plátanos fritos) topped with fried yucca (yuca frita), pulled beef (pabellón) with a touch of cheese on top, a corn meal pancake stuffed with white cheese (arepa con queso), and the black beans that didn't cook enough. We continued cooking the beans through dinner, but forgot about them. Sadly, by the time we remembered them again, they were dried out and unedible. Blasted!

As if we didn't make enough food, lB whipped out her mad dessert skills and made us strawberry shortcake, featured below:

Handmade whipped cream, fresh strawberries, and crispy light biscuits...yummmmmm.

What a fabulous Easter meal! (Neglecting the fact that I almost poisoned lB by serving her beef...terrible friend I am.)

What is he playing?

We went to the city again to look for "the Dress" for dB. I saw this guy playing bottles, bowls and whatever the hell he's holding. Electrified leaf blower? I dunno.

We cooked a big Easter Sunday dinner (post from dB to follow) but with all the spring, green things, and food around, I'm thinking about my shared garden back in Chicago. I hope something will have sprouted by the time I get back!

Easter bunnies visit

In celebration of lB's holiday visit over Easter, I made lB some sweet mini bunnies:

She really liked the rightmost bunny - the nerd bunny with spectacles.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I don't have much shopping stamina but since I had some pocket money mysteriously (and very sweetly) appear, dB and I went.

The boy will be interested in my purchase I'm sure. There's even a song for said clothing item... if you substitute orange for yellow.

I, however, wasn't a good friend in not telling dB to immediately buy a dress she looked smoking hot in. When we returned to look at it again it was no where to found. What is she going to wear on her next date? Perhaps we need to brave the crowds again tomorrow.

Post dinner bliss

Dinner at Slanted Door was quite divine aside from the tea. Yummm....fantasizing about those grapes right now.....

Oh! Photos -

Us being cute while waiting for the BART

I decided to match lB with the socks

Jascha collapsed on Pam, who's more agreeable than I

Lady in red

Damn, lB's adorable!

Need I say more?

So good. Like I knew it would be.

I'll keep the exhalations to a minimum. This is probably my second or third favorite restaurant in the city proper (the top five would be Aziza, Nopa, Delfina, Tartine and this place) but it's the first time I've gotten to eat dinner--and with a gaggle of people so we got to try a lot. It wasn't bad to see Jack, Nathan and Jascha either. Also not pictured but the booth we had faced out toward the pier where we had a full viewe of the bay and Bay Bridge. Not necessary, but very very nice.

A blow by blow of our Vietnamese fusion (not including the Hong Kong tea (dB found it too weak) or the cocktails (which Jack and Nathan had no complaints as they drank aplenty.)

Asparagus and crab soup. Light, brothy, spring-y. However, despite being good it came between appetizers and entrees and as it was both a physical and mental barrier between us and the fish/noodles to come, Jack and I eventually gave up on good manners and picked up the two communal bowls and drank straight from them. Our asian grandmothers would be proud. Jascha, a good east coast kid, looked slightly agast--or that might have been the exhaustion. Overworked, he nearly slept through our whole meal. Speaking of asian grandmothers, despite having three Chinese kids at dinner tonight, Nathan, our resident gay Mexican, made not a single crack about wanting to be one when he grows up.

Crispy veggie spring rolls. Crunchy and herbalicious.

More rolls, this time fantastically savory with pork, shrimp, fish sauce and a kick of heat. The noodles are made in house and incredibly delicate.

Pork belly. Need I say more? Well those grapes left Nathan and I brainstorming how to get that concentrated flavor while being extra juicy (we think dehydrated at low heat and then macerated.)

Whole fish--perfectly cooked. That sauce was really unnecessary.Also snap peas that are juicy, sweet and just in season. And that innocuous looking noodle dish in the corner is the crab glass noodles. I know it looks plain but they are some of the most flavorful things I've ever put in my mouth. Smoky, flavored like the sea and perfect in every way. These are the things I definitely get everytime I come and what you should too.

If that wasn't enough, there was also eggplant (not pictured-and ok; it was favorful but like from a slightly better than average Chinese place) and this rack of lamb. Ordered rare and served as such (the potatoes and sauce here are also unnecessary for this perfect cut of meat). Just the way I like it. We got some dirty looks eating this with our hands from some very proper ladies on dates a couple tables over. But hell, when the meat is basically bleeding, nothing beats human teeth. The knife will just make a mess of the tender stuff--and you know what? It has a handle.

Goodnight. I need to rub my belly.

Friday, April 10, 2009

6 0f 100

I'm clearly not done with the Bay Area yet. Must eat more.

edit: The stars have aligned. Last minute cancellation at the Slanted Door. We're going!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How the cookie crumbles

So the new Cook's Illustrated has the audacity to say they've perfected the chocolate chip cookie. This is my field report:

First, we narrowly avoided cookie failure when a toss of the kitchen revealed a lack of vanilla extract. Thank goodness for neighbors whose mother taught him to cook. The bottle of extract we borrowed was serious. Much bigger than any i've every bought--no wimpy I-only-bake-once-in-a-blue-moon-size. Thanks Leon!
At this stage things look pretty good. Different from any i've ever made before certainly. It not only looks but smells like caramel. Melting and browning the butter is also easier on the wrist than creaming. After a 10 minute rest to "dissolve the sugar" everything else goes in.
And we scope the improbably big 3 tablespoon cookies. At this point, I'm still a believer. The dough tastes fantastic and is wonderfully creamy.
This unfortunately does not save it from the fate of many homemade products: the ever spreading cookie. This cookie has a delicate texture, crisp edges and a wafer thin profile.
My ideal cookie would be thicker and chewier. In the plus column though, it does taste better than the Toll House classic. I've debated this with dB. While we agree that this is not the best cookie we've ever had, the flavor of the cookie dough is the best I've personally ever produced. Complex, not too sweet, lots of caramel-y depth to contrast with the smoothness of the chocolate (by the way, these chips are the best I've ever had; we can't stop eating them out of hand).
Nonetheless, very satisfying with a tall glass of milk. Despite the disappointment on texture, this will become my go to recipe for CCC for the time being. In addition to the fine taste, the melting of the butter makes this a very whisk-only friendly application. Perfect to satisfy cravings that don't involve lots of energetic hand creaming or setting up an electric model. Next time perhaps I'll try a bit more stirring (more gluten formation for chew) and perhaps a bit of refrigeration to fight the spread.

Doing the dishes

lB is doing the dishes in exchange that I post on the blog. Oh wait! She just admit that she wanted to wash her hands in the sink rather than wait until I finished the dishes. (Real time blogging!)

Anyhow, we're making what is claimed to be the best chocolate chips cookies. lB's forthcoming post will cover the fine details. Prior to our kitchen fun, we shared with each other more of our creations:

I made a couple pair of earrings last month:

I'm still figuring out how to work with my dinky accelerometers:

While I've been in lab, lB has been knitting up a storm:

Yummmm...I smell cookies!! Gotta go! ^_^


The A.O. Scott/Richard Brody debate about (neo-)Neo-Realist--I shudder at the term--has been somewhat inescapable in the circles I run in, both internet and otherwise.

Am I the only one that thinks this is a non-issue? While I'm not really comfortable with the birth of movements in general, I can't help but acknowledge the actual grouping of "hyperlink films" coined several years ago. However, this idea of a new Neo-Realist movement seems silly. When did this aesthetic ever go away entirely? Don't we arbitarily "rough up" the look of our films when when want them to be taken seriously? How is any of the American independent (hello, Jim Jarmusch) of the past different from these new films?

On the other hand, I think Brody is a jerk. (Did he really just admit to not liking those films in a rhetorically formal list?) Maybe I'll just throw my towel in with Tony--I like granola and I like cinema and they are two great tastes that taste good together, so I'm glad somebody is championing them.


Speaking of tastes, I like the fact that the Slanted Door is getting press (example: this months Saveur) but I really don't need the competition getting a reservation for their deliciously smoky crab glass noodles. I've only been able to eat there at the bar during lunch carrying my Farmer Market's score.


Lastly, I've clearly been spending too much time on the internet (it's very very rainy outside in the Bay) but I think I have a new crush: Winston. Sorry honey but I am totally enamoured of that tiny speaker of yours. Is that wrong?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cooking up the bounty

dB and I have and will probably continue to cook up a storm while i'm around (that is until Nathan and I go to this: http://blog.missionstreetfood.com/ on Saturday--good food and good cause? Sign me up.)

Also what does it say about me that I bought the cheapest granola and most expensive chocolate chips from the the Berkeley Bowl bulk food section?


Umm... fresh blood.

Interruption to your usually scheduled program. Brought to my attention by my fabulous friend Alex:


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Little Bean arrives!

Little Bean arrived this afternoon for another delightful holiday visit in the Bay. This time it's for gefilte fish and Easter bunnies! We've already done the New Year's bubbly and Valentine's chocolate...perhaps to the dismay of lB's boyfriend, whom I have yet to meet. He seems too charming to be real, and thus my default causal reasoning suggests that he is actually a string of zeros and ones. =P I wait to be proven otherwise.

In amidst the catching up and boy gossip, we shared our wearable creations with each other:

Below is the adorable knee-high sock lB is making:

lB being cute with her token sock:

Me modelling my "neurd" dress:

Guess I'm a Phashion Designer (aka PhD) in the making. Ok, ok, I'm lay off the puns now and leave you with a hilarious clip of quality professor evaluations instead.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sounding off

Packing for California (can everything fit in a small backpack and my messenger bag?) and listening to some tunes.

But here's a confession. I write enough usually to assume that even my co-blogger doesn't even read my entire posts. Will I continue my long, slightly pedantic academic musings? Yeah. Probably. I'm pretty unafraid of professional retribution from this weird little blog.

The converse of that is that I say what I mean kind of without regard to public opinion. Such a revelation is to follow: I listen to this song a lot. To my defense, I know the guy (he spent his getting famous years in San Diego coffee shops while I was growing up). Even though this song is now featured prominently in various commercials and (lyrically) mundane as f!@#, it's catchy and his Tracy Chapman like voice is intriguing. Who the hell scats anymore? Let alone in a top 20 song. Plus I'm jealous. If I owned an avocado farm, I'm sure I wouldn't think about anything except for hippy happy thoughts too.

Enough embarrassment for now. I'm knitting these:Gonna watch this old xlr8r video and catch the jet plane to that record store.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Collective Brain Fart

I feel it too dB. I really do. Everytime I sit to write or think about what i'm doing, especially when it comes to school. But I'm making an honest effort to get back on the train, read everyday, audit a class, etc.

On the other hand I've rarely been so happy in between my moments of school freak outs. My knitting needles are full (I'd show you but that lack of camera thing occasion does affect my life), I'm reading and watching what I want, and I have a boy I'm silly crazy about (I'm thinking about knitting him another hat--not that he really needs one, but I like seeing him in things I've made. On the flip side of that, color choice has been killing me. You have an opinion on this?Too light and girly? I love the mossy color but what do I know? I'll wear almost anything and he does dress better than I do).

Also work husband sent me this and this and they make me very happy indeed. What's better than British spoofs of two of my favorite movies? And then there's the music. I don't think I've listened to so much since I was djing. I sort of fell out of the habit when I moved to Chicago and it's a very good feeling to be surrounding myself with all sorts of sounds, whether they be new, old, or anything in between, again.

As far as the work goes, I've been thinking about what I really like about the program I'm in. I think coming from a rhetoric department where "subjectivity" is the catchphrase, I've been trying to distance myself and get into more concrete subjects. But the rub is that I'm interested in some very technical things which I may not be smart enough to really understand. Am I doomed to the vague platitude spouting I derail all the time? My harshest criticism of film theory in other fields is their lack of understanding of the actual film (the most obvious example being the wholesale endorsement of Blade Runner by postmodernists when the film is actually very conventional while films with actual structural anomalies--like say horror--get the shrift). However my own lack of understanding about film, especially the digital and peripheral film practices i'm interested in, not to mention the technologies portrayed in film that I love (does anyone know anything about VR besides what we learn in movies?) leaves me very very worried.

Also I need to learn French stat. Back on the train.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Living up to my name

Well, it's official. I'm a dumb bunny, and my advisor surely thinks I'm retarded. He keeps catching errors in my data and figures. Ugh, how do I turn my brain on...

What happened to me?