Sunday, September 28, 2008

Book sale!

I hit a library book sale this weekend -- you know, when the books are two bucks a bag. I lucked out:
  • The Waitress (Melissa Nathan)
  • The Samurai's Garden (Gail Tsukiyama)
  • The Debt to Pleasure (John Lanchester)
  • Magnificent Corpses (Anneli Rufus)
  • The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing (Melissa Bank)
  • Tulip Fever (Deborah Moggach)
  • Life of Pi (Yann Martel -- this is a second copy, you know, for travel)
  • Animal Dreams (Barbara Kingsolver)
  • The Witch of Cologne (Tobsha Learner)
  • In the Company of the Courtesan (Sarah Dunant)
  • A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies (Ellen Cooney)
  • Palace Walk (Naguib Mahfouz)
  • The Red Queen (Margaret Drabell)
  • The End of Alice (A. M. Homes)
  • Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden -- I liked the movie, but wanted to read the book also)
  • Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (Tom Robbins)
  • Praeteria (John Ruskin -- 104-year-old copy!)
  • House & Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration (edited by Richardson Wright. I chose this one purely because there was a funny "rule" about color schemes that I wanted to frame. The book itself is from 1947.)
Anyway, great haul, no? I'm pretty pleased with it. I'll add them to the pile. From the last sale! I just love books. The not-so-great thing about these sales is that I can never resist. I have books en cantidad! I doubt I'd be able to live happily without books. Or the Internet. You?

Shamelessness or fearlessness?

One of the biggest jokes in my family is that we have no shame. We aren't afraid to get into costume and be photographed for a newspaper. We're not afraid to piss people off. I myself have been known to ask a stranger on a date – later, I eloped with him. We are quite willing to look silly in public. We will argue our stance on an issue until it's crystal clear. If you want to embarrass us, be in for a lot of work, because it won't happen easily.

And it's actually not shamelessness that drives us to do the things we do. I believe it's fearlessness.

It's not always confidence, although individually we do have respectable amounts of it (our confidence increases exponentially when we are in a group, beware!). It's fearlessness that allows us to take creative risks. It's fearlessness that allows us to be open with people, in spite of sometimes getting our feelings hurt. Fearlessness allows us to NOT be intimidated by bullies.

Our fearlessness propels us through life!

The people who matter to us appreciate this quality. Life is short and who cares what the unimportant people think, anyway? We have a great time, and we are lots of fun to be around. At least, life with us is never dull.

We are nearing the period of introspection for us Jews, and I have realized that the choices I made this past year (although they did not always improve my life) have made me the person I am. Correction: my choices have made me the very cool person I am.

So yes, I have said and done some things that certain people would find questionable. But I have reasons for doing those things, and I have done them with my eyes open, fearlessly. And what's more, I am proud of that. I am true to myself. Reader, I hope you are true to yourself, as well. L'shanah tova.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Interesting dream

I had a very interesting dream this morning.

I was on a business trip to Scotland with a responsible couple I felt comfortable with (I think they were friends of my parents). While there, I went on a day trip to the countryside where an American high school marching band was there as well. They had won some kind of Battle of the Bands for a trip to Scotland. They played in the town, marching through. I was in the back seat of a comfy car, watching and almost but not quite in the parade. We were just trying to get through. But my coworker's son was playing in the band and I was like, I know that kid! And I waved at him and grinned and he did the same.

Then something happened. I might have fallen into a ditch somewhere or maybe there was an accident. The next thing I knew, I was in someone's rustic country house laying on a low cot in front of a fire. I had woken up shaken but unhurt. Then Gordon Ramsey came in from milking cows and gathering vegetables and was so polite and worried and asked if I was ok. I was. A little later he brought me a tray with steaming food that was delicious. He was very attentive. We started to talk and I asked what happened and he was about to tell me and that's when I woke up.

Drat! I wanted to know what happened!

In my perfect ending, he falls in love with me and provides for me in the manner to which I would like to become accustomed! I just love Gordon Ramsey…

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wii wii wii, all the way home

I have wanted the Wii for a long time, and hurrah! I've bought one!

A friend found a good deal, I bought the system, and then picked up Guitar Hero III. All for my very own! I just love this game.

For anyone who hasn't played Guitar Hero, in order to advance and unlock songs, you must do well. You earn money and your band plays larger venues and basically rocks out. But step one is to create the band. So I had to figure out a name. First I tried a band name generator. That was amusing, but none of the names thrilled me.

Then I thought an anagram would be fun. I tried my name and some other phrases, and still came up with nothing. They all sounded wussy! So I put in the names of my two cats, Butch and Twinkie. And I came up with a very rock 'n' roll name, for my very rock 'n' roll band: Bitch Wanked Unit. Visual, interesting, and it sounds hard core. Right?

Tonight, I rocked. I beat Tom Morello and Slash in battle. Let me know if you want to be my groupie…


See the pretty picture? My sister found a wonderful tool online. It's Wordle! can generate a beautiful word cloud from text you paste in, or directly from a website url. I used this site. These customizable clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can use the images you create for whatever you want, just give them credit. They even have a gallery. Try it! You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nectar bars

I have made a food discovery! Nectar bars by Clif!

They come in taste-bud-dazzling flavors like pomegranate cherry and dark chocolate raspberry (the only two I’ve tried so far) and they are amazing! They are also only made with five ingredients in each (such as dates, cashews, cherries, and cocoa), and they are completely organic. The nutritionals are good too: 160 calories, 5 fats, 3 proteins, and 5 fibers. They also manage to squeeze in two servings of fruit.

Pomegranate cherry was mysterious, chewy, luscious, and just sweet enough. Dark chocolate raspberry was even better. It was almost like a rich brownie with bitter chocolate and strong real raspberry flavor. It fairly bursts on your tongue! These are like grown-up candy.

The downside is that they can be difficult to find in any old store, and they are expensive.

But the best part is their tag line. “Simple food. Pure delight.” This epicure says amen to that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The OED turns 80!

I just love the Oxford English Dictionary. Whenever I need to look something up, it's my best source of information. And it's become an octogenarian! Happy birthday, OED!

For those who aren't in the know:

The Oxford English Dictionary is the accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over half a million words, both present and past. It traces the usage of words through 2.5 million quotations from a wide range of international English language sources, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books. (source:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A very productive weekend

After the sale yesterday my friend and I went to a Chinese buffet place where we totally chowed on crab legs, dim sum, and various fried items. She also had sushi and I tried a piece. It was ok, but too chewy for me. When we got the bill, we were amazed to see the lunchtime price instead of the dinner price and burst out laughing. How do they make any money? We tipped our waitress nicely and went on our way.

We went home and got clean since we were gross and then I went over to her place and hung out there and we had a sleepover party! We watched Vacancy and The Ruins and had a great time. Her pets were affectionate and it was nice.

Today, I cleaned the garage! I made four trips to the dumpster and swept it out and everything! It looks really good. Next weekend I will do the basement hall area. Kudos to me!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

$136 smackeroos

I made $136 bucks at the yard sale! Hooray! We hustled and had a blast. (I gave some stuff away to friends, too. We bartered.)

The following items sold:

Black lamp, a few books, cassette tape holder, a few CDs, golden picture frame, picture frames with pics (huge), some pictures without frames, PS2 guitar, set of dishes (service for 7), a pair of shoes, silver brush and mirror set, silverplate platter, small brown bookcase, a bunch of women's clothes and jackets, stereo with speakers, table linens, almost all the vases, some VHS tapes, and the zip-up Day-Minder.

Actually, $136 for just these items was amazing.

I'm surprised at some of the items that didn't: the Lenox, the foils, and the coffee table! And I forgot to put out the cat litter buckets, but I can put some in the dumpster. I have plenty of dumping to do tomorrow as well. I plan to sell the table and chairs, Lenox items, and fencing foils on craigslist.

Ahh... with more stuff gone, I will really to able to figure out what I need in my life. I already know that I don't need a lot of crap, but selling it is even better!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yard sale tomorrow!

At 8:00. AM. On a Saturday. Sigh.

This is the final list of items:

baskets, black and glass sconces, black lamp, blinds hardware, books, boxed Lenox vases, brown lamp, bulletin board paper, cassette tape holder, cat litter plastic buckets – FREE!!!, CD tower, CDs, crutches, dining table and chair set (pad included), fencing foils, fluorescent lights, golden picture frame, green Lenox platter and pitcher, men's motorcycle jacket, paper lanterns, photo mats, picture frames with pics (huge), pictures without frames, PS2 guitar, puzzles (3), reference rack, Rollerblades, round Ethan Allen coffee table, scanner, set of "Thinker" bookends (Barnes & Noble), set of dishes (service for 7), shoes, silk and velvet flowers, silver brush and mirror set, silverplate platter, small brown bookcase, small items like never-worn hair clips and earrings still on their backings, some women's clothes and jackets, stenographer's chair with green vinyl seat, stereo with speakers, table linens, tabletop CD holder, Tap Light 4-pack (not 6), vases, VHS tapes, wallpaper border, and a zip-up Day-Minder.

My dad already bought the Day-Minder for two bucks. My first sale! My living room looks like a rummage sale and I can't wait to get this stuff out of my life.

Wish me luck, it will be a loooong day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The original cool cat

Whenever I feel low, I just look at the picture of this extraordinarily cool "Sup Cat" and I smile. He is exceptionally self-possessed, goin' with the flow, just bein' himself, not carin' what anyone else thinks 'cause he's seen it all before...

You see that look in his eye? The look that says, "been there, done that, what's next?"

I think he might be my next role model.

Never settle

This rule goes for everything from the smallest sale item to one of the most important decisions a person can make – who to be with romantically, long-term or possibly for the rest of one's life.

Think of a fabulous handbag you spotted – for argument's sake, a Coach bag, Bleecker line, duffel style in a sophisticated red tone, with gold hardware. Well made, strong, useful style, good looking, you know it will last forever… and available at such a low price! Brand new! It's never been used!

You grab it! Since it looks flawless you immediately fork over your hard-earned cash. You delight in spending time with it every day, without fail. It becomes habit! But after a while you realize that red doesn't go with everything, and gosh, is that a scratch on the gold? When did that get there? A pen mark? Dang. Clean it off! The strap is too short. Now the zipper keeps sticking!? What was once unbreakable no longer works.

You have now had the bag for almost a year. You think about other bags that stopped exciting you. You begin to notice other bags. You realize you don't need this bag as much as you thought you did. Although this bag made you feel great for a while, you decide to retire it, because really, what has it done for you lately? Just when you should be really comfortable with that bag, trusting that it will work hard for you, not caring that the color doesn't go with everything… the bag no longer draws you in. The bag couldn't keep up with you.

Now replace "handbag" with "man", and "cash" with "heart", and "you" with me, and you can figure out what decision I had to make. I realize this analogy is a simplification, but...

Life is short, far too short to spend with a bag that doesn't make you feel like a million bucks. I'm glad I had a great bag for a while. I would have liked to have enjoyed it longer, but the time was right to let it go. When its details should have become invaluable to me, instead they caused problems. Why should I keep the bag if it's too painful?

I expect to think of this bag fondly, but ultimately it wasn't the right one for me. I hope it will be just right for someone else.

Sigh. My cash hurts.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Roasted fruits

So I ended up not making white nectarine syrup, because I couldn't find white nectarines. But I found white and yellow peaches, roasted them with raspberries and vanilla sugar, and finished with fresh orange juice. I adapted an Ina Garten recipe and I'm bringing to a friend's with Greek-style, fat-free vanilla orange yogurt (I made it up).

It's really yummy! And the color is amazing, too. Sorry I don't have a pic, but maybe next time. I will definitely make this recipe again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Scrabble players, rejoice!

I never bothered to look up Scrabble tools online, but it turns out they have all the lists, including the elusive 4-letter "x" and "z" words. I'm definitely going to use this one! Want to play with me?


spore logo

I think I have to buy this game.

How is it that I never got into it before? Yes, I have heard of Spore, but I never thought it would strike my fancy. Well, I do believe my fancy has been struck! And for $49.99 I will allow it to be struck repeatedly.

I don't know what I like more: the idea of starting from the cell, being able to expand into space, procedurally-created music, stunningly designed graphics, or the Sporepedia. All I know is that I like it!

Yes, be it now or for Chanukah or for my birthday… I have to have it!

Friday, September 5, 2008

White nectarines

I've never been a nectarine girl. But I bought a white nectarine last week because they were on sale and I figured, so all right. Try new things and all that. I like white peaches better than yellow, so maybe I'll like the white nectarine.

I tried it today and wow! This fruit actually tastes like honey! It's delicious! It's sweet! It's crunchy! It's… it's… firm enough to grill!

Ooh, great idea. The dark grill lines on the pale flesh, the smell of roasting fruit… uh huh. The one thing I didn't like was that the fruit clung to the pip. But I could grill slices of the fruit and serve over ice cream, or bake it into a tarte tatin, or cook it down into a syrup… whoa, baby. That's what I'll do. White nectarine syrup drizzled atop vanilla bean ice cream with toasted almonds sprinkled over.

Yes, something special to cook this weekend. Good luck to me!

Wiggling = electricity?

This is such a great idea. A grid of "smart" materials at the bottom of some river in Pennsylvania will create electricity!

This sustainable power source will come from a type of plastic that generates its own electrical current when moved. Strips of this material will wiggle around due to river currents, move on to substations at the river's edge, and then charge a group of batteries… presumably enough to power up to 40% of the city of Vandergrift… and keep the river intact in the bargain.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Kooza # twooza!

Oh wow. I just can't stop thinking about the show! Here's a larger 90 second preview:

First period (no, not school)

A friend and I were talking today about curricula and got onto the subject of sex education for youngsters. She mentioned to me that girls are getting their period earlier and earlier – many at the age of 10 and 11 instead of 13 and 14. She remarked that workers in the medical field are saying that is because girls play more sports and are physically healthier now than in previous generations.

Yipes! I was 12 years old and in the seventh grade when I got my period, earlier than anyone else I knew. And as for the "healthier than before" bit, I totally disagree. I think it's because of all the free-floating crap out there that finds its way into people's bodies. I'm talking pesticides, man-made coatings, different kinds of fumes, makeup… and I'm sure there's plenty more harmful stuff out there. I believe these things affect young girls' systems because they are not fully developed and their bodies can be attacked more easily than the bodies of people in their 20s to 50s.

My friend agreed and said that many environmentalists also feel the way I do. She told me they believe that when the girls age, their immune systems will be more susceptible to illness than those who menstruated later. To take it a step further, I think that's what will cause them to live much shorter lives in general than people who grew up 20 years ago. I just know that these kids' life expectancies will be be at least 15 years less than adults today.

How do I figure?

Take 80 years (current life expectancy), divide by 10 years old and multiply that by the earlier change in menstruation years. 8 times 2 equals 16 years less of living time.

Maybe not very scientific, but I just know that's the way it is. People, please help take care of the world!


Omigod omigod omigod!!!
MB is taking me to Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza!

I have wanted to see one of their shows in person for years and years. I even used to watch the tv show Solstrom when it was on and found myself entranced. Very few things can hold my attention like this type of performance, and they are the best!

Of course, there are no cameras allowed, but that's ok. It gives me a reason to buy a program!

Oh boy, just thinking about it is making me wiggle around in my seat like a little kid who has to use the bathroom. I can’t wait until the show!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

So long, King Friday

Mr. Rogers is going off the air!

This is the man who taught me to call my sneakers “neighbors”, which I do to this very day. I’m going to miss him! He always stuck to his gentle views of life and never, ever sold out. But apparently the ratings are so very low, and now the only channel that will show him will end up being the non-profit one he set up, Family Communications. They produced and still own the show, even after his death five years ago.

I get the warm fuzzies thinking about watching with my sister. Sure, the show wasn’t as fast-paced as the Electric Company, and watchers were not exactly about to learn the art of the quip from him, but as an adult, I find that his measured way of talking really made an impact on me.

And you know what? It really is a good feeling to know you’re alive. It sure beats the alternative!

Won't you be my neighbor?

Exponentially increasing mosquito bites

I knew I should have sprayed my foot!

This weekend, as we sat drinking wine on the patio overlooking the lake, my left foot was chomped by a sneaky mosquito. Later that night, one bite turned into two. The next day there were four bites. And the day after that there were 17 bites on my foot! All in the same general area.

I got nervous and wondered why they were increasing exponentially. Kind of unusual, right? MB said maybe I stepped in poison ivy or something, but that would have showed up as a rash, and these were clearly bites. The following day I asked a coworker who had worked in a doctor’s office for, like, ever. She explained it was just a coincidence about the numbers, but that the separate bites just didn’t show up until later. I believe her since she doesn’t make up stories.

The bites have definitely gotten smaller from yesterday, but they are in the exact right spot for my pant leg to constantly brush up against them and irritate them. I really hope they go away soon because even though they’re smaller, they’re actually kind of ugly. Seriously! Who wants a foot full of red spots?

I researched and apparently the best way to get rid of mosquitoes is Listerine, the original medicinal type or the cheap kind from the dollar store. Just spray around outside and I guess it kills them instantly! The best thing thing is that the deterrent will last a few days. Spray around wood, but not directly on wood. Try it next year!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The creepy cat

This is really cool. Jeremy Mayer makes animal and human forms from dismantled typewriter parts!

I don't much care for the human figures since they are somewhat spooky and clinical-looking, especially in the faces and crotches. The symmetricality freaks me out! Interestingly, his female robotic creations are anatomically correct, but he draws the line at metal penises.

But the animals are something completely different. They look fantastic -- strange and cold, but at the same time elegant. His cats are about about 2 feet tall. I don't know about you, but I can hear this one hissing...

My Will-Not-Tolerate List

I have to blow off some steam. Sorry in advance.

I truly hate so very few things since I refuse to waste energy on things I only kinda sorta dislike. But here are three from my Hate and Will-Not-Tolerate List, and they are all personal:

- When someone I care about ignores the way I feel. Hurtful and rude.
- If I laugh off a senseless suggestion the first time it’s suggested to me, then provide numerous examples to get my point across, then explain things in a way that person claims to understand, then figure out a suggestion that takes into consideration someone else’s desires and ignores mine only to be denied that as well, and then to finally be forced to be a hard-ass. Too much work on my part, too little work on the other person’s part.
- Repeating myself to someone who claims to want to hear what I think. Open your ears and open your heart and listen the first time. Is that too much to ask?

It’s all bullshit. Bullshit! And I won't tolerate it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Washington Square Art Show & Amazing 66

I trekked into Manhattan with MB's family this weekend to the yearly art show at Washington Square Park, thinking it was going to be as in years past: funky, cool, good art, interesting people and their crafts, basically a good time.

Well, we thought wrong. There was practically no show at all! Hardly any art! Very little photography! The most eye-catching booth sold unusual handmade clocks with all the gears showing, and the most interesting people were me and MB. I was so disappointed at the lack of handiwork.

But we did have a yummy dinner in Chinatown at Amazing 66 on Mott Street. We got chicken chow fun, hot spiced eggplant with meat, chicken with cashews, veggie fried rice, and General Tsao's chicken, which in my opinion was the best dish. It was fried in an amazingly light and crispy coating with a delicious peppery and sweet sauce, had great color, and was not sticky. We got our soups immediately, but had to wait a while for the final bill. In addition, the lighting was pretty bright. But the place was spotless and the prices were reasonable. There were plenty of other really interesting items on the menu, but I didn't bother to ask if anyone would like to try stuff like diced preserved meat fried rice or fish cubes with chili salt and pepper. If I ever go back I'm going to have the crispy orange beef. Yum!