Monday, December 27, 2010

Twenty-Four Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy-Three

That's how may words I have to write in the next five days to make my (set months ago) goal of making it fifty-thousand words in the book I'm working on by the new year. (That should get me up through the Italian restaurant dinner, the people who think they're hunting vampires, the reality show celebritard,  and the guy from the EPA. Also, at least two more squid attacks. Maybe three.) I have the entire week off from work and I plan to spend every day latched to my computer*, writing my little heart out, chasing down my artificial deadline.

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make it.

UPDATE: I'm not going to make it.

UPDATE II: I didn't make it.

*Except for tomorrow afternoon, when I'm getting together with Abigail in the city. Also, lunch.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm Not On a Boat

Unless you're reading this at some point in the future* when I am. But for the moment I remain landlocked.

The cruise was a lot of fun, if a little on the cold and wet side, and I will get into that presently** but it's almost Christmas and it doesn't seem like the time. So for now I'll just leave you with the knowledge that the trip has been completed, and that spiced rum combines quite nicely with Coke.

*Or, less probably, the past.
**Also, the rather significant issues I have with Princess's approach to customer service, but that's a Whinesday all its own.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I'm On a Boat

Or at least I will be by the time you read this. We're leaving this morning* for a short pre-holidays cruise out of Los Angeles, where it is projected to be raining steadily for the next four days. But that will be okay because, as I mentioned, we will be on a boat. (Or we already are, see above.) If you're good, I'll take lots of pictures and bring them back here to show you.

*Side note: Nine-thirty seems like a perfectly reasonable time for a flight, if you don't think about how early you have to get up to make it to the airport.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Random Product Endorsement: CoverGirl Smokey Eye ShadowBlast

It's like being a corporate shill without all that annoying money!

As an international supermodel* and renowned beauty expert,** I am often asked what products I favor.*** So I thought I would say you all some trouble and tell you about this one before you tired yourselves out asking.

What is it? Basically it's a two-ended eyeshadow stick, with a paler base color on one side and a darker accent color on the other. It's easy to use and the colors come pre-coordinated for your convenience, which is handy for someone who would have flunked out of freshman art***** if art teachers held with any bourgeois notions like grading. There are detailed instructions for the titular****** eye on the back of the package, but I throw those out, since I've ripped them trying to get it open anyway and besides, they're too complicated. Instead, I just slap the base coat over as much area as I feel like covering and smudge the darker color near the lashline; exactly the same way I have been applying eye makeup since the nice lady at Sephora managed to restrain her laughter at the fact that I had made it into my twenties without any clear idea of what makeup was for long enough to explain the basics to me and sell me a bunch of stuff.

So, in summary: easy to use, nice colors, cheap, not a model, also not artistic, late to the party on the makeup thing, summary, footnotes. I think that pretty much covers it.

Any questions?

*Not true.
**I have a mascara wand and I'm not afraid to use it.
***Typically phrased as, "You want fries with that?" But I digress.****
****A lot.
*****Taken as a senior.
******Ha! I am, apparently, twelve.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

After a Fashion

Even for professionals, the world of fashion can be confusing sometimes. For example, recently a trend for "bib necklaces" cropped up, and has been doing brisk business among people who, when they wear a necklace, have no interest in doing the thing halfway. They vary from the cute to the ridiculous, but they do have one thing in common: They are all clearly necklaces. However, this:

Is not a bib necklace. This is an actual bib that has been attacked by someone with a bead store, a glue gun and no taste whatsoever*; the sort of thing that a person without a clear idea of how babies work would put on one for a dinner out because it matches their purse. If you wore it, you would look like, well, you would look like this model, only not as happy because you wouldn't be getting paid for it.

On the plus side, if one of your dining companions became enraged at your ridiculous devotion to overpriced trendy junk and tried to stab you with a fork, you would probably be safe.

*I think I just came up with my idea for an Etsy store.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shoesday: Fasten Your Shoe Belts

Oh Sigerson Morrison*, why can't I stay away from you? I have lovely flats, as many as any rational person could possibly need, but then you have to go and release a style with cool buckles and a sweet rounded toe, and it's all I can do to wait for them to go on sale. But it ends here-- it's this pair and nothing more. At least until these reach further markdown. Or these. But not these.

*And your diffusion line, Belle.
*Also, while I would probably not personally wear them, these may possibly be the sexiest boots known to man.

Air Squid II

I'm not saying why I keep posting links to stories about squid that propel themselves through the air. I'm just saying: plot point.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Merry and Bright

I don't know about you. but where I am it is cold and gray and rainy, and someone is out of Trader Joe's frozen lunches, so she has to walk all the way across the parking lot* to go to the cafeteria. So let's look at some lovely things to cheer ourselves up, shall we?







*It's a big parking lot.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Shoesday: Jingle Shoes

If you happen to have visited my twitter or Facebook or have been within about ten feet of me in the last couple of weeks, you may have heard about how I just sold my short story "Schrödinger's Cat Lady" to the fine people at Escape Pod, for publication as a podcast and text in mid-January. That would be excitement enough all on its own, but making it even better is the fact that they have become successful enough to pay professional rates for their stories which is very exciting indeed. So, of course, I did what I always do when faced with an unexpected financial windfall, and spent it on shoes.

I love these shoes. They're a great shade of candy-apple red, there's a hidden platform that keeps them from being too high and padding in the footbed to make it possible to stand in them for more than ten minutes at a time.

But the best part (and the problem) is what's on the back:

Awesome, yes? I could never bring myself to get any additional piercings on my body, but I love them on my shoes. And the metal heel is just the right touch of basassitude for the holidays. But there is a problem.

You know what happens when a metal charm hits a metal heel? Clinking. Jingling, even. But that's okay. I figure either I'll where these to a Christmas party and the noise will be blamed on someone else's novelty sweater, or a club and pretend it's just part of the music.

Because, jingling be damned, with imaginary cats as my witness I promise you this: I will wear them.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

New Camera!

Rumpole, Pensive

That's right, I'm using the fact that my poor, elderly Canon Powershot s410 finally gave up the ghost as my excuse for why there has been no Shoesday/Thurscheese/etc in the last week, and totally denying that it has anything to do with me being completely lazy. But now I have a new camera, an SD1300, which is a whole 890 plus a D better, so at the very least you can expect a 1000% increase of cat photos.

Although sometimes he moves:

He's coming for you
And his ideas of posing are not necessarily traditional:

Hey, if you could scratch your neck with your foot, wouldn't you?

And, like any good model, he doesn't get out of bed without a sufficient payday:
Kill. Kill. KILL!

(You think this is bad? Just wait until I figure out how to upload from my video camera.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Case of the Cyber-Mondays

It's the Monday after Thanksgiving.* You're back at your desk, bleary-eyed and wondering what it is you actually do for a living and if it is really possible for a person to eat her own weight in turkey, when you happen to open your email. Immediately, your eyeballs slam to the back of your head, battered by the force of the sheer number of messages with "cyber Monday" in the subject line. You want to participate, you think it wouldn't be a bad idea to start your Christmas shopping sometime before December 23rd, and you don't really feel like doing any work today, but you just don't know where to start. That's where I come in.

Bloomingdale's: $50 off if you spend $250, sales on boots, jackets, sweaters.
Only good if you were planning to drop some fairly serious cash here, but if there's a big ticket item you had in mind, now's the moment. (A moment, anyway.) And, as gifts of clothing go, a coat is a relatively safe one, given the flexibility of the sizing. Faux fur is kind of having a moment right now, as is leopard-print, so if you have someone on your gift-list who can handle it, this jacket might be just the thing. Or you might think I'm insane, which would be nothing new. In that case, you might want to go with something a little simpler.

Ann Taylor: 40% off everything with the code "MONDAY" today only.
Not so much a gift place, but if you need a dress for an office party you could do a lot worse than this. Throw on a flashy necklace and some heels and you're good to go. And nothing says, "Here, I got you a gift" like a scarf.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Pre-Thanksgiving Whole Foods Run Checklist

Labwork: Finished
Grocery List: Composed
Loins: Girded
Shoes: Sturdy
Eyes: On the prize
Dates: Consumed
Medjools: Preferred to these deglets
Live and: Learn
Where was I?: Oh, right.
Fire: In belly
Song: In heart
Elbows: Sharp

Okay boys and girls, let's do this thing.

Shoesday of Thanks

Since it seems to be the moment for such behavior, I thought I'd use this time to mention a few things I am thankful for. (I suppose, in the true tradition of the holiday, I should find some Indians to thank for providing my with food, and then send them to live in South Dakota, but I don't know any of the right kind and I think Archana and Hema would just be confused.) Right? Here we go: Good health, a steady job, a steady job with good health insurance, a loving family, a wonderful boyfriend who only gets a little upset when I jab him in the eye first thing in the morning, a car that finally works, chickpeas (my new favorite legumes), a stylist who is capable of giving me a reliably decent haircut for a price that comes in under 'a fortune,' Trader Joes' frozen lunches, red wine, white wine, pretty much any kind of wine except white zin, which is really just alcoholic Kool-Aid, and you can make that yourself much cheaper, the fact that most of the annoying people have been eliminated on Amazing Race, and these shoes. I saw them about a year ago and wanted them SO MUCH, but I wasn't able to pull the trigger in time and they got away. And I thought they were gone for good, until I was browsing Editor's Closet the other day, large as life with one pair left, in my size.* It was a Thanksgiving miracle, just like when the pilgrims thought they didn't have enough turkey for everyone, because Goodwife Hawkins showed up with seven of her nephews and the pilgrims had to scramble to find the extra leaf for the table and borrow some chairs from the Indians. But everyone would filled up on millet bread, and there was even leftover stuffing, which is what made it a miracle.

*Okay, so technically they are slightly smaller than my size, but this is not important. They fit because they have to fit.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Like My Version Better

Recently, I mentioned to Cameron that really I liked the song "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz. It's fun and upbeat, the sort of thing that would make good workout music, and it had a lyric I particularly enjoyed, about getting ready to go to a club "wearing on my favorite pants." Unfortunately, on a further listening, Cameron pointed out that the line is actually, "wearing all my favorite brands," which is clearly correct (and better grammar), but not nearly as fun. I mean, who can't relate to the feeling of getting ready to head out for the evening, favorite pants on and ready to party?

Other songs I do my own lyrics to:
The Colors of the Wind by Vanessa Williams ("The herring and the otter are my friends")
Bad Romance by Lady Gaga (I've managed to get it stuck in my head with the corrected grammar.)
Kyrie by Mr. Mister
This one isn't even mine; a guy called into a radio show where they were talking about misheard lyrics and shared it, and I liked it so much I adopted it.


Carrying a laser down the road that I must travel
Carrying a laser through the darkness of the night
Carrying a laser where I'm going will you follow
Carrying a laser on the highway in the light

(@Abigail: possible theme song for your lab?)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thurscheese: By The Book

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I got an iPad* for my birthday. (I did? Well, you might have forgotten.) And the first thing I did, after holding it up over my head and dancing around with it like Clara at the beginning of The Nutcracker, was to install the Books app and get to downloading.

Because I am cheap, one of the first things I did was to check out what was available for free, because who doesn't like things that are free? And, along with some surprise bonus Agatha Christies and obvious essentials like Sherlock Holmes and Winnie the Pooh, I came across the book that may change my life forever.

By Robert Carlton Brown, The Complete Book of Cheese really is just that. Written in 1955, it covers every aspect of the world of cheeses, from culture** to history to tasting notes on the complete range of products, domestic and international, to recipes. For it to be any more complete, we'd have to invent new kinds of cheese.

Obviously, this is going to be a great reference for this blog, especially when my cheese-of-the-month-club shipments start arriving.*** And I will get to the meat of the book later, but as an introduction I would like to share a few highlights of cheese poetry, of which there seems to be a surprising amount.


Someone over at the fine mystery-writers' blog The Ladykillers must have suffered at least a minor  head injury recently, because they asked me to stop by today and blog about the weather. Naturally, I made it about shoes. And gave it a weird title. Please stop by to offer your comments and condolences, and talk about your favorite wet-day footwear.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Nidiface of My Own

As it happens, I'm a big fan of words. (Pause for Cameron to say, "Really?" in a deeply sarcastic tone of voice.) Big words, little words, words I don't know how to pronounce because I've only ever seen them written. Which is why this project appeals to me so much. It's an attempt being made by the makers of the Oxford English Dictionary to save words that are in danger of being lost to the English language forever, by having people adopt and use them.

I was only going to take "nidiface," which means "nest," but then I saw "Ichthyarchy*" and I knew I had to have that too. Look for these to turn up regularly in my blog posts and twitter, until they either reenter normal usage or everyone stops talking to me.

(If you adopt a word of your own, please share it in the comments, and we can try and come up with sentences for them.)

(Thanks to the Fug Girls for the tip.)

*Kingdom of fishes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shoesday: Nature Girl

(I'm sorry the picture is so terrible. My camera has been dying a slow and painful death, and will be put out of its  misery as soon as the new one I ordered from Amazon arrives. My pictures will still be bad, but at least they will be well-lit and in focus.)

I am not, perhaps, the world's most dedicated environmentalist. True, I wrote a column on the subject in high school, cribbing most of my  material from "50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth," but I didn't actually do any of those things. Also, it may have been the only environmental column to ever feature a defense of logging. Anyway, suffice it to say that concern for our shared planet drives very few of the decisions I make in my life, which is why I am feeling so smug about liking these shoes so much. They're from Timberland's new Earthkeepers line, made with non-specifically ecologically sound techniques and materials and rated on a completely meaningless scale of Earthy goodness. But they are also really comfortable and completely on-trend with the whole oxfords-for-women thing, and I love them. And now I really want these too, to wear with woolly tights and this skirt if the weather ever actually gets cold enough.

After all, the planet isn't going to save itself.

Monday, November 15, 2010

To Die, To Sleep No More On My Supremely Comfortable Sealy Posturepedic Mattress

Lately, I've been trying to come up with a way to make a lot of money without doing any work (because, frankly, the other way around hasn't been doing it for me). But rigging the lottery would take too long, and hassling people for spare change outside of Draeger's requires too much human interaction, so I was at a loss. Until I read this post about the hilariously blatant product placement in the soap "Days of Our Lives" and this review of a book in which the author replaces the names of characters in Chekhov's stories with those of current celebrities* and suddenly, my destiny was clear: I am going to rewrite public-domain classics to include paid references to everyone's favorite brands in the text.

I know! Don't you just hate yourself for not having thought of it first?

Obviously, I'll have to work with my customers to determine exactly what books are the best fit for their brands (and budget), but here are a few examples that should give you a sense of the tremendous marketing potential of this new and innovative concept.**

First, something accessible for your mass-market product:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bonus Content)

Jim said if we had the canoe hid in a good place, and had all the traps in the cavern, we could rush there if anybody was to come to the island, and they would never find us without dogs.  And, besides, he said them little birds had said it was going to rain, and did I want the things to get wet?
So we went back and got the canoe, and paddled up abreast the cavern, and lugged all the traps up there.  Then we hunted up a place close by to hide the canoe in, amongst the thick willows.  We took some fish off of the lines and set them again, and begun to get ready for dinner. We was lucky enough to have a whole case of cool, refreshing Coca-Cola Classic with us in the canoe, which Jim said was powerfully refreshing and just what a body wanted after a long day of being an escaped slave.

Sometimes, the text itself presents the perfect opportunity for a promotional partnership:

Ulysses: Enhanced Edition

Buck Mulligan's gay voice went on.
—My name is absurd too: Malachi Mulligan, two dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn't it? Tripping and sunny like the buck himself. We must go to Athens. Will you come if I can get the aunt to fork out twenty quid?
He laid the brush aside and, laughing with delight, cried:
—Will he come? The jejune jesuit!
Ceasing, he began to shave with care. He slid his Philips Norelco 7310XL across his cheek, exulting in patented Reflex Action System that automatically adjusted to the contours of his face and neck.
—Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly.
—Yes, my love?
—How long is Haines going to stay in this tower?

And, of course, everyone knows that if you really want to make money, you need an assist from Jane Austen:

Pride and Prejudice (Extended Author's Cut)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a responsible financial adviser from Merrill Lynch, the most trusted name in wealth management.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be over here shopping for my first private island. How many helipads do you think I'm going to need?

*This took what, about an hour on TMZ and twenty minutes of find and replace? And now he has a book deal? That guy is a genius.
**Like that? It's totally going in my sales materials.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Am Not Making This Up

You thought I was exaggerating about my cubicle neighbor's insanely sycophantic conversation style? Well, I have here a transcript of the majority of the things she said in about two minutes of conversation that proves that I wasn't:

"Yes, exactly"
"That's interesting"

Can I start screaming now?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Why Does Country Music Always Know?

This song captures my week so perfectly, I can't even tell you*.

Maybe not in the specifics, but definitely in the general sentiment.

*No, really; I'd get in some serious trouble.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Shoesday: We Can Dance If We Want To*. . .

. . .As long as we file a Dance Requisition Form with the HR department, complete four hours of training and can demonstrate that the dance could not be provided by an approved minority-owned business.

Recently, the small biotech company I had been working for was acquired by a much, much larger company, which will remain nameless because I'm not that stupid. There are a lot of benefits of working for a major multinational, such as the benefits, and the potential for job mobility, and the greatly reduced chance that I will show up at work one day and be told we've run out of money. So it' got that going for it, which is nice.

But it also has a lot of bureaucracy, and a lot of lawyers, and where you have both bureaucracy and lawyers you have rules. A lot of rules. And since I work in a lab,** we have special lab rules. Like not being allowed to walk through the lab without full protective gear (gloves, glasses, labcoat), and that we can't use 70% ethanol anymore because it's dangerous (I wish someone had told me that at about ten-thirty, three Saturdays ago). And, most critically for me, no fabric shoes are allowed.

Which is where these come in. I mean, forget leather, what can be more safety-conscious than shoes made entirely of plastic? They even have three straps, for extra security! Okay, so breathability is kind of a problem, and the Vivienne Westwood aspect may make them slightly inappropriate. But whatever; nobody's told me any rules about wearing sexy shoes in the lab.


*It's a safety dance!
**Most dangerous thing I deal with regularly: deionized water.***
***Okay, sometimes hydrochloric acid. But not that much.****
****And I guess the e. coli would be bad for me if I actually ate a bunch of it, but I'm not exactly inclined to do that.

The Scientific Process, Explained in Four Parts

Part 1: Perform groundbreaking research in a vital but technically complex field.

Part 2: Compose a press release and distribute it to the media.

Part 3: Observe as said media declares your discovery the "cure for the common cold."

Part 4: Drink.

[Full story here.]

Friday, October 29, 2010

Goats 'n' Honey

Is there anyone who doesn't like the Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer? It's so counter-intuitive. I mean, when you think about supermarket flyers it's all big pictures and bright colors; sale prices in 32-point font and no concepts more complicated than "pork butt." But none of that for TJ's. No, they put out a multipage, two-color opus of dense text and occasional line drawings. Essays on the spice trade! Treatises on meatloaf! And people read it!

Well, I do, anyway. And it works, because after I have read it, I want a lot of the things they list in it, which is the point of an advertising circular, after all. Which goes a long way towards explaining why I showed up at writing group this week with (among other things) a bottle of seven-dollar pinot noir and a log of honey-infused goat cheese.

Which was every bit as tasty as promised in the flyer, consumed by the majority of the attendees (including one alleged vegan) and is now sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to come home and calling softly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Whinesday: There Ain't Nothing Wrong With the Radio*

Buckle up, guys; we're getting extra-whiney this week.

As a Californian, I have a special bond with my car. It's part of my life, a constant that I can turn to that helps me and helps to define me.

It keeps me from having to take public transportation.

But all that has been lost to me for the past two weeks, as my car-- the nice reliable little Japanese compact I got after my ever-so-cool but entirely unreliable old Porsche finally gave up the ghost five years ago and I vowed that this time I would get something that didn't give me that kind of trouble, even if I had to take a major hit in the cool department-- that car is in the shop getting the second new engine of its young life.

I will admit, the first one was kind of my fault. Not entirely, because I couldn't have known about the fault in the engine that was making it burn oil, or the fact that the oil light would never turn on, no matter how bone-dry the crankcase. But partially, because by not getting regular oil changes I violated the warranty, allowing Mazda to take no responsibility for the cost of replacing the engine after I drove it with no oil in it at all, causing it to make some truly unpleasant noises before dying in a very final way. Which is why, to save money, I took it to a shop in Berkeley to get a used replacement engine, rather than blowing the money on a new one and dealer service prices.

My first clue that this was not the greatest-ever idea was the number of issuesI had with the car after I got it back from the shop. Check engine lights, timing problems-- I finally got fed up with hauling it over the bay to have them fail to fix it and took it to the dealer in Burlingame, where they actually (miracle of miracles!) fixed it so it would run well.

But it was still going through oil.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shoesday: Better Red Than Wet?

I'll admit it, these boots are a bit of a What Was I Thinking moment for me. They seemed so cute in the pictures! They were on sale! I didn't really have any rain boots! But the fact of the matter is, when they arrived and all of that red was staring me in the face, it occurred to me that these were going to be a little tough to, you know, actually wear. I mean, this is a lot of red. They would make a good piece of a superhero costume, if I wasn't far to lazy to ever wear a costume more elaborate than "witch hat." And they're certainly wide enough to tuck my pant legs into, which might come in handy in the event of a deluge. But otherwise all I see happening with these boots is that I wear them to work and everyone, without exception, stops, looks at my feet, and says, "Wow, those are some. . . red boots."

Still, it could be worse. At least I didn't go with the yellow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Consumed Tomatoes

One thing about growing tomatoes; at some point you're going to get to eat them. Even, apparently, if you make as many mistakes as I have. Which is a comfort, really. It gives me hope that even at my core level of competency I can grow food that I can eat. Given, of course, easy access to a garden center, running water, pesticides and fertilizers, but still.

In this case, I ate them with half an avocado, some slightly stale ciabatta (cubed) and my favorite bottled salad dressing.

I'm coming at this whole self-sufficiency thing slowly. No sense rushing into it.

Bouchercon Baby Gone

Saturday and Sunday-- Let's put this one in the books.
I said I was going to bring my boots, and I did. (I tried them with some floral patterned tights, but in combination with the floral dress I had (Target!), it seemed like a little bit much.) And despite an array of very interesting looking panels, something, possibly related to the open bar on Friday, but I am making no accusations. My apologies to the people who spent great time and effort in constructing and organizing their morning panels, but if it's any comfort, I probably would have just fallen asleep anyway.

While I was lying in bed, nursing my inexplicable headache, Cameron was out running sixteen miles. Just thought I ought to share that.

In the afternoon, Karen and I attended one panel, along with her three-month-old daughter, Kate. (More on this interaction later.) Moment of the day: When one author started an anecdote with the phrase, "When I was on tour in France" and Karen and I turned to each other with the simultaneous, unspoken thought: "I want to go on a book tour in France."

Which I'm sure we are both going to do, assuming the people of France have any interest in land-based cephalopods.* Hey, they like Jerry Lewis; anything is possible.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bouchercon For the Money

Because it was a great location, but I have to say, that hotel room was not cheap.

Day 2, Shoe 1:
One problem with my shoe-centric convention plan was that it was kind of incompatible with pants. Which is too bad, because I'm a big fan of pants. But these are the kinds of sacrifices we have to make if we are going to go around using our material possessions in our desperate bids for attention. Which is a long way of saying I spent a lot of time in skirts, with a heavy reliance on pieces from the last Target designer collection.*

I tried to wear my cut-out booties to Cornelia's panel ("Nancy Drew Was a Cosmo Girl"***), but it was so crowded I would have had to spend the entire time crouching on the floor. So I took myself off to the Sisters in Crime-hosted hospitality suite, for some of the generously provided snacks (best acquired when panels were in session,  due to the lack of competition).

Besides, I needed the sustenance for the next panel I attended (and got an actual chair! kind of had to fight for it though), on Ancient Greek and Roman-set mysteries, featuring every heavyweight**** best-selling author in the genre, plus Gary Corby, my twitter pal and a debut author, holding down the Greek end of things. I'd have to say it was the best panel of the convention, as measured in the number of wacko stalkers who turned up during the Q&A period (two).

By the way, I feel like I should mention that while all this was going on, it was also my thirty-third birthday. I am now firm in my belief that all birthdays should be celebrated in the company of 1400 mystery authors and fans. Also, Cameron gave me a mini video camera, and as soon as I figure out how to work iMovie it's going to be all cat videos, all the time around here. You have been warned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bouchercon and Done

You want to make a bad business decision? Try hosting a convention of writers in your hotel and closing the bar at midnight. That should do it.

Last weekend Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, was held in San Francisco and, aside from the management's lack of vision with regards to beverage profits, it was an exceptional experience. I could tell you all about the panels, the authors, the massive bag of free books and/or the very stylish but completely impractical design of the hotel,* and maybe I'll get to that. But first, let's talk about the shoes.

The Puccis I Didn't Pack
My shoes, of course. As promised, I packed an entire separate suitcase for them, plus the overflow that made it in the main suitcase. I had to make some tough calls, like leaving behind my beloved Puccis, and most (but not all) of my boots. And, of course, anything with any claim to sense or comfort.

Would have been perfect, if I didn't have heels
Actually, that's not entirely true. I did try (and fail) to have comfortable shoes, by wearing my black flats for the trip over. I had to do something, because the first part of my plan was to drop off my car at the shop in SOMA where it's getting a new engine (long story**), walk from there to BART and take the train to the Embarcadero, where the conference hotel was located. Unfortunately, what I had forgotten was that I didn't have heel padding in those flats, which meant that my freakishly nobby heels rubbed with every step, which meant that I was blistered before I even started.

This shoe thing, you have to be tough.

(Continued after the jump.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From Today's Cafeteria Menu

I like my nitrate with just a touch of bacon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Good To Know


Strawberry Fields for Breakfast

If you ever find yourself driving on 101 north of Hopland, and you have a minute to spare, I highly recommend that you stop at the Saechao farm stand (on the left side if you're heading North, on the right if you're going South*) and buy some strawberries. They are not supermarket pretty, but they are some of the sweetest, tastiest, most strawberry-flavored strawberries I have ever acquired from a commercial establishment.

*If you are going East and/or West at this point, you have your own problems, mostly to do with driving through vineyards.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shoesday: Gang Aft Agley

This week, Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, is coming to San Francisco for the first time in years, and I have been looking forward to it for months. I booked a room at the convention hotel, so I wouldn't have to schlep back and forth from home, and I've been giving serious thought to what shoes were going to make the cut for the second suitcase I've been planning to pack for that purpose. These boots, obviously, made the cut.

But Life isn't always nice about these things. My grandfather had a serious stroke yesterday, and right now there is a big question mark next to a lot of things, with Bouchercon landing somewhere down on the list. I hope things will turn out well, and I will still be able to be there, at least for part of the time, but if I don't make it I would just like to ask that someone have two or three too many lemon drops and say something highly inappropriate loudly in a crowded bar, for my sake.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Shoefinder: Sophie's New Book

 Shoefinder: It's Not Just For Shoes Anymore

Today we have our first repeat visitor to the Shoefinder world, and this time we are going Beyond Shoes*. Sophie Littlefield, cross-genre author extraordinaire, has a new YA book coming out and we are going to help her develop a look to go with it.

The book is called Banished and is about, according to the description,** a sixteen-year-old named Hailey Tarbell, whose only aspiration is to get the hell out of her dead-end Missouri town until she discovers that she has awesome and scary healing powers, which make her a person of interest to people who may or may not be interesting, but definitely have guns. (I'm paraphrasing here.) Also, I have it on good authority that there may be zombies.

So you can see the styling issue here. On the one hand, this isn't the sort of thing where you can show up at a signing in a floral twinset and eyelet skirt; but  you don't want look like you went all supermarket-spree on a Hot Topic either. I think the look to go for here is kind of "upscale goth"-- ideally to look like the kind of person the be-eyelinered and parasol-carrying gothlings can look at and aspire to be when they grow up.

Disclaimer: I don't mean to imply that all of these items are to be worn together. That would be a little much, in terms of look. Plus, you would be wearing two pairs of shoes.

First, the jewelry. It's tempting to go full-on skull ring, but that's a little obvious, don't you think? Not that I have anything against a skull, I just like it better when it's done with some wit, like in something like this.*** Or, even better, this one, which is really quite beautiful, and it's only when you get up close that you notice the skull in the detail.

(Bonus: Sword earrings from the same store.)

[fang necklace]Another unexpected touch? A fang necklace in oxidized silver. And don't tell anyone I told you this, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it come up for cheaper on Gilt Groupe.

And yes, I realize I may be overdoing it a bit on the skulls thing (you aren't supposed to wear these together, remember?) But I just have to include these, because they're just that amazing. He has a rose between his teeth! They're on sale until Monday! What more could you possibly ask for?

Well, okay, maybe you could ask for some crazy over-the-knee, lace-up-the-back boots. But that's really it.

And while we're on the subject of accessories, let's talk purses. I like the of something in a snake print here, and I have to admit that I am kind of taken with this one, despite the fact that it's a completely obvious rip-off of the Valentino version, which was apparently itself ripped off from a YSL design from '03. Also, it would get completely squished in the car, and probably be really uncomfortable to carry under your arm, but I try not to let my self be restrained by reality here.

On that note, how about a leather dress? Yeah, cost, cleaning, breatheability, whatever. I've just got one question for you: Is it awesome?

Yeah, I thought so.

But I've got something even more awesome here:

That's right, it's a jacket with feathers on the shoulders. Feathers! Could anything possibly be more high-end gothness than that? Plus, unlike fur, you're very unlikely to have people throwing red paint on you, which is a good thing, because that can really ruin a look.

So, what do you guys think? Any suggestions?

*Which is kind of like being Beyond Thunderdome, only without the awesome Tina Turner song.
**Which I refer to because it will not, technically, be published until Tuesday.
***Extra creepiness points for being from the skull-heavy collection he designed before he died.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Thurscheese: The Unexpected Combination

You can learn interesting things when from leftovers. For example, you can learn that orange juice has an expiration date for a reason, and not all Chinese take-out can be resurrected by stir-frying. But sometimes you learn good things too.

For example, did you know that if you take some whole wheat pita bread:

Cut it into sixths, toast them and split the sides apart, you basically end up with pita chips:

Which serve very well as a base for Cowgirl Creamery Triple Cream "Mt. Tam":

Which makes a very nice counterpoint to Amy's Kitchen organic vegetarian chili*:

And you have a dinner that is not bad at all? 

Well, now you do.

(You also know that we are a household of obnoxious yuppies, but I'm guessing you could have probably figured that out anyway.)

*Not leftovers, but bought by the case at Costco for easy dinner-making. Some days you just don't want to try.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Shoesday: Twice As Nice

So, I'm not sure if I've mentioned anything about this, but I've been suffering from some muscle pain in my legs lately. (You had no idea, right?) And along with giving me an excuse to skip the gym for a couple of days this has caused something unprecedented to happen: I have worn the same shoes to work for two days in a row. I know; I can barely believe it myself. But with any kind of heel being out of the question, and most of my flats being kind of short on padding, I find myself turning to these for my sore-legs needs. They're Faryl Robin, which means they're cuter than anything this comfortable has any right to be, and hey, metallics are neutrals, right? So they go with anything.

I'm thinking I may wear them again tomorrow.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Day at the Races

If you were to see me today, you might notice that something is a little odd. "Why is she walking like a brain-damaged penguin?" You might wonder. If you had some free time, you might even ask me, "Hey, what's wrong with you? Did you lose a fight with a thigh-high bulldozer? Is it even possible to win that fight?"

"Actually," I would say, "I ran a half marathon yesterday. Do you want to hear about it?"

"No," you would reply.

"I'll take it from the beginning," I would go on.

5:30 am: Alarm goes off. Briefly consider throwing it across the room, but decide against because it's also my iPod. Stagger out of bed wondering why I ever thought this was a good idea. Dress in the running clothes I had laid out the night before (magenta quick-dry shirt, gray cullotes w/ yellow knee ties, plain but functional sneakers, blister-preventing socks, clips to keep my hair out of my eyes). Figured out (with help from Cameron) how to use the "lap" function on my watch. Ate a granola bar, drank some sports beverage. Wondered who I was and what I had done with Daisy.

5:52 am: Relayed the critical information that I was about to run a half-marathon via Facebook and Twitter.

6:15 am: Left for San Jose. We knew the way, and besides, the freeway signs are well-marked. I don't know what the big deal is about that.

7ish: Parked at HP Pavilion. Marveled at the percentage of females in the crowd. Apparently, if you think you never see women in the South Bay it's because they're all out distance-running. Walked over to the start area, decided to use the porta-potties before they got too nasty. Checked in gear, stretched, did a warm-up jog, realized we needed to use the porta-potties again. They had gotten nasty.

7:55 am: Ate a packet of mint chocolate gu. Not entirely disgusting. Said temporary goodbye to Cameron as we split off into our respective start groups.

8:00 am: Race starts!

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Six-Dollar Question

One of the things I love about Twitter is the opportunity to have silly and pointless conversations with other people who would rather have silly and pointless conversations than get their work done. Also, without it I would never have known that you can get someone to draw you a terrible logo for $5.

Which brings me to my point, such as it is. Last night I was avoiding working on one of the non-squid parts of Land Squid (now under construction, with 90% more city council meetings!) when Sophie Littlefield tweeted that she was liked these nails and asked rhetorically if there were worse ways to spend six bucks. And since I never met a rhetorical question I didn't want to answer obnoxiously and at length, I did, and she turned my late-night ramblings into a very funny blog post.

But, of course I couldn't leave it at that. Not when there are so many things around that you don't want to spend six dollars on.*

For example, you could have a corner of track. It's so corner-y!

Or rubber bands in shapes vaguely relevant to the New York Giants? I think you're supposed to wear these as bracelets. I don't understand.

Stylish Mustaches for Girls? Why not? Well, I can think of a few reasons. For one thing, pink? You can get the same look by slapping a wad of Dubble Bubble on your upper lip, and you can get a whole pound for half the price. For another thing, well, all the other things.

And then we have the 

Clown Music Box w Puppy Rotating , Send in the Clowns. I don't think I need to say any more.

I realize these Squirrel Underpants are sold as a joke, but $6.50 still seems like a lot, especially considering that the squirrel isn't included.

And finally, a purse made from Capri Sun packets. . .
. . .
I don't even know what to say about this. There doesn't seem to be any sort of mocking comment I can make than to point out that: This purse. Is made. Of soft drink packaging. I don't think there's enough irony in the world for someone to carry (ha!) this off.

*These would have accompanying pictures if Blogger was letting me upload them, which it isn't. Maybe someday.

What I Love About Country Music

The way it expresses subtle emotions:

Joey + Rory, "Cheater, Cheater"*

I think the errors add a certain je ne sais spelling.

Danielle Peck, "I Don't"

Not the greatest song ever, but with one of my favorite lyrics of all time in the chorus.

Speaking of which. . .

Hayes Carll, "She Left Me For Jesus"

All of which, of course, just leads me back to a classic:

Mary Chapin Carpenter, "The Bug"

Have to say, never really thought of Xena when I heard that song, but I'm sure I will now.

*What, exactly, is the point of posting a video on YouTube and disabling embedding? Do you not want people to do your promotion for you?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Attention, Grown Men of San Francisco

Enough with the little Razr scooters already. You look ridiculous.

Honestly, is walking really that hard?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shoesday: Daisy Attempts to Participate in a Trend

Every once in a while I suffer from a form of temporary insanity that makes me believe I am a hip young person, and I attempt to dress accordingly. Fortunately, this has yet to manifest itself in the form of rompers or harem pants, but it has affected a few of my shoe purchases.

These are my entry into the "oxford" trend that has been going on for a few seasons now. I like them because they aren't too literal about it, because at the very least I am aware that I am not a waifish hipster* chick who can walk around in actual men's shoes without looking like she's cross-dressing. But I will admit that they are slightly too long for my feet, and thanks to the cutouts you can see where my toes end and the shoes keep going.

Not that that stops me from wearing them. Or, more to the point, from deeply desiring an example of the next iteration of the trend, the high-heeled oxford. Specifically, these, which I have developed a minor obsession with. I mean, since when has Timberland made cute shoes? But I can totally see wearing these with tights in the winter.

But then, that might just be my trend-susceptibility talking.

*For those who missed it in my twitter feed, my hipster joke:
 How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
 It's a really obscure number; you've probably never heard of it.

New Growth

Could it be? Just when I was resigning myself to a reasonable-if-unspectacular crop of tomatoes as the end of all my work and worry, I go out and discover that several of the plants have sprouted new, um, sprouts. With flowers! And green leaves! The rest of the plants have been looking kind of gray and sickly, so I am trimming back everything that is not currently supporting a ripening tomato and hoping for the best. We've been having a lovely warm spell lately* and I have a vague hope that this might inspire things to grow and ripen a little bit, at least until the fog rolls back in.

*San Francisco translation: "It's eighty-five degrees! We're all going to die!"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mini-Whinesday: Some of Us Are Here To Run 7 Miles Edition

Listen, if you are in the gym, and all of the good treadmills, the ones with the fans built into them that are very handy for people who are running long distances, happen to be in use, and you happen to notice that someone who is on one of the other treadmills (of which there are many, unoccupied) is very clearly watching to see when one of the good ones becomes available, and so you stand behind the one person who is finishing up his workout so you can snake that good treadmill before the other person who wants it can get it, all so you can do fifteen minutes of mostly walking, well, all I'm saying is there are aspects of your personality that you might want to examine more closely.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So Close, And Yet So Not Quite

Every once in a while I get it in my mind that I would like to find something that seems like it should be completely obvious and widely available, but when I go looking for it I find this thing seems not to exist at all.* Recently, that item has been two-tone, low-heeled equestrian boots. (These are close, but I was hoping for more in the way of a heel.)

Which is why I was both hopeful and frustrated when I saw these.

So close! If only the heel was just a little bit thicker! And they weren't quite so ridiculously expensive!

Sigh. I know that getting there is supposed to be some percentage of the fun (Does anyone remember how that saying goes? The details escape me.), but frankly, if I was interested in the chase I wouldn't do 90% of my shopping online these days.

*Case in point: Knee-length, A-line denim skirt. Seriously, is this such a complicated concept? Not every occasion calls for a mini, and not every body calls for a pencil skirt, designers.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pepper Pot

It's not just tomatoes and herbs in the garden here. I mean, it is, mostly, but we have a couple of pepper plants too. Unfortunately, I've misplaced their tags, so I'm not sure what kind of peppers these are, but I did remember enough to know that I was supposed to wait for them to get red, which was handy, because they stayed green for about three months before finally coming around. Now I just have to come up with something to do with them.

Stir fry, anyone?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quick Poll

Ahem. Would all people who are deeply disturbed by the fact that the song "Yummy Yummy Yummy (I've Got Love In My Tummy)" is being used to sell kids' yogurt please raise their hands? Thank you. Now, for all of you not currently raising your hand, go find a person who was alive in the seventies and ask him or her what that song is actually about. If you are not raising your hand at this point, please report yourself to Child Protective Services immediately.

That is all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thurscheese: The Well-Traveled Pizza

It was Cameron's birthday this week (Happy birthday!), and it was up to me to come up with a special dinner for him. Since it was on a Monday, the restaurant options were going to be limited, so that left me with home cooking. Until I saw this, the website for an actual Chicago pizza joint in actual Chicago that will ship pre-cooked pizzas anywhere in the country. Cameron has a well-documented love of the pizzas of that city and it occurred to me that this, along with a couple of Arrogant Bastards, would be just about the perfect birthday dinner.

I ordered it to arrive last Friday, because they wouldn't ship to arrive on Monday, and it came by FedEx overnight on dry ice. I had it sent to work, because I wanted it to be a surprise, which meant I had to explain to the person in receiving why she had to sign for a pizza. Fortunately, she had a brother in Chicago and she could vouch for the restaurant, which was a relief. So I popped it in the freezer for the weekend and hoped no one would mind I was taking up so much space from the frozen lunches.

I have to admit, I am generally dubious about claims of regional pizza superiority. I am a life-long fan of Zachary's and there are some very fine modern-type thin crusts available in the city. But I have to admit that this was some damn fine pizza-- probably some of the best I've ever had, despite the fact that I hadn't quite warmed it up sufficiently, due to fears of burning. I'd ordered the "Windy City Special" (because that seemed like the thing to do), which came with sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and pepperoni, and I didn't pick off peppers, like I usually do, because it was all so good. And the best news is, Cameron liked it just as much, if not more, which is really what it was all about.