Thursday, November 25, 2010

Brain teaser

Question: What do the following food products have in common?

Butternut squash
Macintosh apple
Yellow onion
Pomegranate seeds (technically, they are arils)
Pumpkin seeds
Maple syrup
Lemon juice
Chili powder
Orange peel


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Epic journey over!

Hello, internet!

Over the last six days I successfully traveled 14 states with the boyfriend! Herein please find a summary of some highlights of our trip:

DAY 1 (New York to California): Arrived 8 PM in quaint Los Angeles, CA. Spent two hours moving boyfriend out of his apartment, then adjourned to the home of Mr. Dog and his two human associates. The She God was there too. Talked, ate, drank delicious root-beer- and gingersnap-flavored boozes. Slept for five hours.

DAY 2 (California-Nevada-Arizona-Utah-Colorado): Left LA! Stopped at Donut Time because Tasty Donuts was too far out of the way. Subsisted on three old fashioned donuts and two egg sandwich "bagels" (clearly from a supermarket, came in a plastic bag, definitely NOT bagels) between the two of us from LA to Grand Junction, Colorado, where we ate dinner at the Black Bear Diner. The patrons at the diner did not suit the name: lots of bears; nobody who was black. On the way, saw beautiful deserts, mountains, skies, and ugly casinos, billboards. Spent the night in Rifle, Colorado, at the Rusty Cannon Motel. The pamphlet on the nightstand urged us to find Jesus; despite our best efforts, we could not locate him anywhere in the beds or the bathroom. Nor did we find Waldo, whom I would be more excited to discover.

DAY 3 (Colorado-Utah-Kansas): Up early at the Rusty Cannon, took a brochure for Dinosaur Journey, two apples, and a "cheese danish" from the lobby. After putting air in the mysteriously depressurized tires (elevation, or SECRET CHRISTIAN PLOT!?), we were off to Denver to breakfast with the boyfriend's cousin. Unbelievably gorgeous mountains, with the sun rising behind them as we left. Went through the town of No Name, CO. Breakfasted in Denver, which still had snow on the ground in places, then it was off to the absolutely most boring part of the trip: Kansas. Kansas began in Colorado, where everything east of Denver was flat, gray, and empty. Entered Kansas on I-70 ("The Main Street of Kanasas") and realized that The Wizard of Oz is actually in color all the way through; Kansas is actually entirely sepia-toned. Passed dozens of pro-Jesus and anti-abortion signs, mostly of the homemade variety. Passed Russell, KS, birthplace of Bob Dole and Arlen Specter. Passed the Brown v. Board of Ed monument in Topeka, the most interesting thing in the state clearly being the Supreme Court case they famously lost. Stayed in Leawood, a suburb of Kansas City, with a friend of the boyfriend's from college and his AMAZINGLY ENERGETIC DOG WHO LOVES EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING SO MUCH OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!

DAY 4 (Kansas-Missouri-Iowa-Illinois): Drove up the KS-MO state line (State Line Rd., unimaginatively-yet-informatively-enough) to an abysmal bagel place for breakfast. Then off through Missouri, which looked like a less-flat and therefore more-attractive Kansas, to lovely Iowa. More frequent, more pleasant-looking farms everywhere. World's largest truck stop. Got off the highway to get gas at a station Google found but we couldn't, and discovered we were at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, which the boyfriend has always wanted to see! Sadly, we didn't think we had time to see it, and we guessed (wrongly!) that it was probably closed on Sundays, so we found another gas station, got back on the highway, and headed into Illinois. The town of Mt. Carroll, IL, our next stop, has a population of 1,900 people, according to the sign on the way into town. It was unbelievably charming, especially the Mad Hatter Tea Room in the local antique shop, where a little old lady served us and our friends—the reasons we were in Mt. Carroll, which is shockingly not on a major interstate!—Republic of Tea tea and some cookies while wearing a mad hatter costume. Wouldn't sell the giant stuffed Arthur characters to our friend, because they were for display purposes only. Visited a bit with our friend's grandfather's dog (and our friends and some other humans), then drove off toward Chicago for dinner and bed. Sadly, fatally hit a raccoon on the long, dark, empty road between Mt. Carroll and the interstate. In Chicago, ate dinner at a lovely gay bar in uptown called Big Chicks with another friend, then slept at his place. The bartender tried to steal the boyfriend, but I wouldn't let him.

DAY 5 (Illinois-Indiana-Ohio-Pennsylvania): Left Chicago before the parking meter could start charging us. Drove through a very depressing part of the country: the rust belt during a recession. Lots of empty industrial buildings, warehouses, factories, mills. Lunched in Lakewood, OH, outside of Cleveland. Sadly, Google once again led us astray, as it directed us to a "cafe" that turned out to be a coffee shop that didn't serve food on Mondays. Luckily, we walked a few blocks down the street and discovered a "gastropub" that had (a) delicious food, (b) a vegetarian bartender who could make recommendations on food, (c) single malt scotch for $6.00, and (d) Trivial Pursuit cards on the bar. Best fried-eggplant-wrapped-around-cheese that I have ever eaten. Left Ohio for Pittsburgh, PA, where we stayed with a family friend of mine and dined with two others. Talked about mom more than I had in a while. Slept in an attic, which was perfectly delightful.

DAY 6 (Pennsylvania-New Jersey-New York): Repacked the car so as to make room for the boyfriend's sister, whom we were picking up in Philadelphia. Broke fast with my friend (Müesli with raisins, apples, and mango is the BEST MÜESLI EVER!), then headed out on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Stopped dead a supposed half hour away from our exit thanks to construction, accidents, and rush hour, and didn't get to Philly until an hour after we thought we'd arrive. The restaurant Google found us was—surprise!—a coffee shop! Last time I let Google find vegetarian restaurants; I want something other than coffee for dinner, thank you very much. Drove over to UPenn, where we were picking up the sister, and ate at the second worst diner I have ever experienced. No match for West Hollywood's Silver Spoon, the Philly Diner is nevertheless a perfectly dreadful place to eat anything. I left 80% of my meal on the plate, despite my hunger. Because of traffic and the food snafu, we had no time for the things we were supposed to do in Philly, like visit my parents' old house and look for more of the root-beer- and gingersnap-flavored boozes mentioned above. Grabbed the sister, left, and drove through NJ with the vents closed because of the smell. Got to my place around 10:45 and crashed hard.

All in all, pretty amazing trip! Not much sleep, but many fun sights along the road and lots of time with the boyfriend! Some disastrous food, but mostly amazing and delicious! Fun friends everywhere. LA folks who are miffed I didn't see you in my 10 hours there, I will be back on Monday for a whole week! Let us do fun! Call me!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And one more

If I ever run a conference in a hotel, the first floor will be called "the homosexual lobby," and the schedules for the weekend will be labeled "the gay agenda." Just because I can.


When I can't compose paragraphs, I have fun with lists!

1. NERD ALERTS: Lea Salonga plays World of Warcraft. LeVar Burton follows CERN on Twitter. File these facts under reasons to love these actors.

2. Apple-Pear-Ginger-Hazelnut-Cranberry is a delicious pie filling and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, dinner and dessert made of what-can-I-find-in-an-"empty"-fridge = win.

3. I am very happy that I will not be teaching this year. Grad school is an amazing, wonderful thing, and I hope it lasts a while.

4. Boyfriend moves to the east coast today!! Or rather, boyfriend begins today the process of moving ever closer to the east coast over the next several days. Final coastitude to be achieved on Tuesday.

5. I am going with him! In an hour I leave for the airport to fly to LA, then after a few hours there we begin our epic roadtrip. Hooray for seeing bits of the country that are not along the train route from NY to Chicago to LA! Hooray for getting out of NY to a place that is not my father's house! Hooray for Marjorie, my cactus, who will finally get to meet Nikolai, my hedgehog, in a prickly liaison the likes of which has not been seen since the last days of the Algonquin round table!

6. Glee was fucking garbage this week. Offensive on as many fronts at it knew how to be, including in purely structural ways. Unless they seriously revamp the non-song bits of the show, I'm so over it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Unless you are a candied yam...

I voted! It cost $18.30 to express mail my ballot to LA, but I did it. Why did I need to express mail it, you may ask? Because the ballot, which reminded me in bold letters to mail it back by the Friday before Election Day, arrived at my apartment on the Saturday before Election Day.

The attentive student will have noticed that Saturday comes after Friday.

Anyway, onto my own votes:

On the candidates, I ended up voting a straight Democratic ticket, with mixed feelings: yay Henry Waxman; meh Gavin Newsom.

On the judges, I voted yes for every single one. Not, however, without looking up each and every one on Google, where I discovered, a website devoted to decrying the incompetence of, among others, Judge Steven Suzukawa. Why? Because someone who lost a case in front of Judges Manella, Suzukawa, and Willhite knows how to make a website. Or rather, knows how to make a vintage 1995 website with elegant clipart that just has to be feces donuts. Check it out.

On the judges in actual elections, I did my usual who-endorsed-whom game, and voted for Mark Ameli and Alan Schneider. Also, Tom Torlakson for Superintendent of Public Instruction, and John Noguez for County Assessor.

Then came the propositions:

Again, I voted what appears to be a straight Democratic ticket, considering the three identical emails I received this weekend from John Burton of the California Democratic Party. That is, No on 20, 22, 23, and 26, and Yes on 21, 24, 25, and 27. In words instead of numbers, that's against constitutional amendments for establishing redistricting commissions and prohibiting state borrowing, suspension of air pollution control laws, and expanding the disastrous Prop 13 of 1978. It's also in favor of $18 annual vehicle license surcharges to fund state parks, repealing tax breaks for businesses, scrapping the 2/3 majority requirements of the aforementioned Prop 13, and getting rid of the redistricting commission.

Again, the attentive student of California politics will notice a problem: a proposition is missing. That would be Proposition 19, the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana proposition. The Dems took no official position, as far as I can tell from Mr. Burton's emails which conspicuously leave that one out. I voted Yes on Prop 19, for many reasons. One is this, the study published yesterday that found that alcohol is the most harmful drug in use in the UK. Another is this opinion piece, one of many that details the way marijuana prosecutions overwhelmingly focus on young men of color. Then there's the fact that California is entirely broke, and any other revenue source helps. And other things, which I won't get into here. Suffice it to say that I believe the ballot initiative process is flawed, as is every political process, but I will make use of it to achieve ends I find desirable, rather than sit out the process in the hopes of those ends arriving by other means.

To make a long story short: vote, damnit!