Friday, November 28, 2008

Pie engineering

It's the day after Thanksgiving and instead of the food being smooshy, I'm smooshy. The window of time between thanksgiving and Christmas, it's the start of blob season. I'm intent on enjoying it. We had excellent dinner and dessert yesterday, and the leftovers keep flowing. I want to acknowledge the feat of pie engineering that emerged in the apple-cranberry pie.

I'm thankful for family, friends, health, shelter, love, opportunity, luck, clothing, good food, education, employment, warmth, winter, leaves, snow, flair, my five senses, and much more.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Deep-fried bird

Finally had a deep-fried turkey.
Canola oil used in lieu of peanuts:
one guest was allergic to said legume
and its oil. The difference between
the baked and fried turkey is palpable.
While both were delicious, the reports
of exceptionally moist meat from the
latter are true. Dry meat has always
appealed to me, from the chops at
Opie's to the run of the mill
oven-baked turkey, so it is a little
difficult to be impartial. In any event
I did find myself thinking of the frying
potential, looking around for Twinkies
and Snickers bars that had not yet
been prepared. No such luck. That is
probably just as well, given the default
gluttony already afoot.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On smoosh

After a day spotted with Thanksgiving food preparation, I'm left with a question: did the Pilgrims and the Native Americans play a lot of ice hockey?  

The dishes we made today include mashed potatoes, candied yams, harvest soup (essentially squash, and other seasonal vegetables pureed), cranberry sauce, and raspberry pie.  All that's left for tomorrow is an apple pie, stuffing, and the turkey.  Aside from the turkey, every other food on the list is flat out smoosh.  If desired, Thanksgiving could be delilvered via osmosis.

Babies love soft foods, but us adults, we eat tough, crunchy, sharp things.  Usually, meals are combinations of different flavors and textures.  On Thanksgiving, I am perfectly happing putting a glob of stuffing on a small potato roll and eating it like a sandwich.  There is no other day of the year when bread on bread sandwiches are appropriate.  

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends, but it's also a time for letting all the flavors run together on the plate in a Gerber mass of uniform consistency and texture.  Even if you have all of your teeth, enjoy!

Think thanks

breath. night. horses. cookies. coyotes. snakes. love. cartoons. books.
forgiveness. surprise. crisp. concrete. mom. dad. memory. trees. thread.
leather. water. height. dental floss. secrets. winking. cosmos. touch.
water. water. creosote. dreams. chairs. shoes. teeth. showers. owls.
mesquite. gold-bond. smile. less. everyone by name. coffee. sleep.
voices. fruition. serendipity. acceptance. guinness. sandwiches.
high school. patina. clues. waves. sweat. sex. innocence. latin. cotton.
paper. bells. skin. crying. clicking. friends. scars. mysteries. help.
roads. swimming. the sun. grace. surrender. bees. patience. cheese.
legos. movies. blond. challenge. fluency. tan. time. approach.
listening. tacos. letters. care. differentiation. guitar. bed. space.
cereal. experience. more. lingering. trust. backs. underwear. embrace.
bags. sky. bread. family. mystery. desert.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What's your post-apocalyptic vocation?

Green design.
Sustainable design.
Climate change.
Design for change.
Design for impact.

It's all the buzz: "Stop THIS from happening." "Do this or THIS will happen." "We have to figure out how to convince everyone to do THIS." Everyone is talking about design for prevention.

Why don't we jump ahead, assume a mass-scale world tragedy will happen, and design for the post-apocalyptic world. After a conversation with Jean, Joe, and Andreas on Thursday, I'm convinced that the designers with real foresight will start tackling post-apocalyptic problems now.

We don't know the tragedy that will ultimately push us over the tipping point, but it's likely that one event will lead to another. Rapid sea level rise will lead to mass inland migration, shortages in food, and civil war. An earthquake through the Nevada desert (yes, there is a fault that runs right through Yucca Mountain) will lead to radioactive contamination that spreads from local areas to the greater watershed, and eventually the ocean, effectively destroying marine life much like DDT did, increasing in concentration up the food chain. Rising carbon emissions will cause a runaway greenhouse effect, warming 80% of the earth to intolerable levels, causing mass human extinction, and spawning new habitat for wildly proliferating insect populations. Maybe the magnetic poles of the Earth will swap, ie. North becomes South. It's happened continuously in Earth history, we don't know why, but the rock record tells us we're overdue for a magnetic flip. Or, our demise could come through lack of differentiation in our food. The world currently supports only twelve major crops. TWELVE. The world corn crop could fail if attacked by a resilient pest, and lack of crop diversity will cause the whole crop to fail, not just a localized area. Food shortage will lead to failure of the world economy, civil, and international strife.

No matter which way we end up pushing our planet over the brink, one thing is for certain: we'll need new jobs. Specifically, folks with jobs that fufill needs at the top of Maslow's heirarchy, the self-actualization jobs, are going to be out of work. Wedding planners, hairdressers, divorce lawyers, plastic surgeons and fashion models should start thinking ahead. Personally, I'm already trying to determine my post-apocalyptic vocation (PAV).

How will my skills transfer? Will I be a leader or a worker? Will I become nomadic, migrating with the new seasons, or will I work in an established new colony? Will I abandon Earth like those in the scarily psychic movie, Wall-E, and sit in a chair, not knowing that there are other people around me?

I re-watched Wall-E yesterday, and this time, without nature's call beckoning me away before the very end of the credits, I stayed to watch them through. Mort Grosser tipped me off over the summer that if I watched the movie to completion, the very very last thing would blow me away. It did. I'll let you watch for yourself and have your own private moment of fear, but I will say that it offers up yet another mode to drive world catastrophe.

So, what's your PAV?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Postal piracy

There is a strong perception (entirely defensible, as far as I know) that Americans are essentially wimps with regard to happy endings and the cinema. Those who I know who are in the know—the people whose opinions I trust for supporting extremist posturing at cocktail parties—tell me that Chinese cinema (and fiction) relies heavily on the fact that everyone dies at the end of the story or at least walks away entirely ruined, if walking. I recently saw the British film “Happy Go Lucky”, and though that film ends delightfully, I recalled a comment my high school English teacher made summarizing Shakespeare’s work, “the only difference between the comedies and the tragedies is that at the end of a tragedy, everyone dies.” Nice point, though I cannot say where that leaves the typical disposition of film goers and filmmakers.

I know that I watch certain movies for certain reasons, and I am often affected by unexpected stories. "No Country for Old Men"comes to mind. I am curious though about the extension of the expectation of happiness beyond film. Pirates, in particular have recently risen as mysteries. I was curious about the recent hijacking of a tanker by pirates who, as reports, headed for a known pirate haven of Eyl, Somalia. Wow! A known pirate haven. Pirates murder, rape, and steal. When was the last time a fast food restaurant selected a rapist as one of a band of merry characters selling burgers, other than today at McDonalds? Hmm, never. As much as I would like to see Barney teaming up with a murderer on an early morning broadcast to kids, or perhaps falling victim on said broadcast, shockingly the cast is relatively safe. This is a real puzzler given the fact that on a certain holiday, parents all over the place dress up kids as pirates. So cute! Not so much. I am not sure if this augments or diminishes the American disposition toward the saccharine. No we do not like rapists, murderers, or thieves, but at the drop of the hat, we will disguise our treasured toddlers in swarthy garb and call it cute. Bizarre.

In a quasi-unrelated connection, I recently came across a sheet of the commemorative Charles and Ray Eames postage stamps sitting on a counter. My first inclination was to take the money and run, but I opted to act closer to my age and ask if anyone belonged to these stamps. It turns out that the purchaser very kindly gave them to me based on my interest. I was thrilled because I have for a long time had an unchecked lust for the low-slung LCM and LCW molded plywood chairs. So sexy. In a somewhat distant past, I was part of an endeavour in which several of such chairs were permanently borrowed from a Midwestern institution of learning. My stake in the booty is still essentially buried, but I have recently confirmed directions on a map: my cut, consisting of one chair, is safely stashed in a barn deep in the woods. I am fairly pleased that, in an instinctive defense of the American disposition, the woods of which I speak are analogous to those unfolded by Dickey in his heavy, not-so-happy masterpiece.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I cried. Yes we can!
I took pictures of the TV.


Yep, thrilled.

That is grace and eloquence.
How about the capstone:
"may God bless America".
Subtle thing, but offered
as a request rather than an

So incredible.

election - CHECK!

I can't do anything. I'm too nervous. Polls are closing on the east coast. Soon the flow of results, exit polls, predictions, contradictions, voter fraud, mobs, lost ballots, and provisional circumstantiation will crowd all of my senses and I'll at least feel like I'm not doing something for a reason. Right now, I'm fiddling. This is a great time to make a to-do list - a very ornate, multi-color, well-crafted to-do list.

I wonder what Barack Obama's to-do list for today looks like? I hope he has one.

[] win election

I hope he has a special pen for checking off the check box too. If I were him, I'd spend a bit of time selecting the perfect pen to check off that box. If you're reading this, Barack, go with something permanent, maybe a Prismacolor Premier marker (broad side) in Mediterranean Blue (aka Bleu Mediterraneen). It matches the spot-on graphic language of your campaign. If you're nervous right now, make a few practice check marks while you're waiting for the results to come in.

Day of Destiny!

I voted. Obama - Biden. NO on 4. NO on 8.

I'm scared. Here we are at Stanford University, and the voting process is unclear, clunky, and slow. There are at least 3 precincts that vote at the same location (Grad Community Center) on campus, but when we arrived at 7:45 am there was one line wrapping around the building. Having experienced a 2 hour wait to vote during the democratic primary, we knew to look for a shorter line for our specific precinct. We found it, and then still waited about a half hour to make it to the front of the line. I spoke with a lawyer that was there to ensure that the voting was proceeding without trouble. He was trying to help sort out the mess with the different precincts.

Finally, I received my ballot, but all the booths were full, so I had to prop up a shield on a table while I voted. Tell me, how is it acceptable that the process of selecting a choice on the ballot is unclear? Given two pieces of a chunky black arrow, would you know to draw a thin line in between the chunks of the arrow to make a selection? Come on! It is not acceptable that I had to read the instructions as to how to fill out my ballot. For such a critical decision with so much at stake, the ballot needs to be intuitive and mistake proof. I'm disappointed.

Patriotic PEZ

On this historic day, I broke down and bought a Democratic donkey PEZ dispenser: they were half off, as were the elephants. It is bizarre to me that PEZ is an acronym for a *SINGLE* word in German: Pfefferminz, meaning "peppermint". What better way to celebrate an election than with a German-derived, Chinese-manufactured candy dispenser celebrating American Democracy? I cannot think of a single one... other than voting. Go vote.