Tuesday, August 31, 2010

But Where's the Box For Small Disadvantaged Woman Owned Disabled Vetran Minorities?

I work for a big company now, and this is on one of the purchasing forms I have to fill out. (The X is my addition.)

Questions: Can men own minorities too? Do you think they carry them at Staples? And what does "disadvantaged" mean when it's separate from race, sex and disability?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Emmy Awards Opening Number

The Emmys were, in general, so boring that even though I was stuck on a plane with a limited number of channels and nowhere else to go, I still ended up watching people race food trucks instead, but this opening number, featuring pretty much everyone on TV, is fantastic and you really have to watch it before they pull it off YouTube:

Fruits of My Garden

That's right, plural!

(Peppers are fruit, right?)

Just back from Florida, where everything grows, to find my tomatoes as close to thriving as they have ever come. I counted nineteen total-- counting these-- including two on Confused Tomato (they are, predictably, confused) and I am starting to feel dangerously optimistic about my chances of success as a gardener.*

*Disaster to follow shortly.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Winesday: Coming Down With a Case of Sauvignon Blanc

We went up to Murphy's last weekend and, as is our habit, came back with some wine. Among other things (and after looting a wine cave with some pirates) (more on that later), we acquired a case of Chatom Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, a favorite since we had it in a local restaurant and decided we needed to find this winery. Crisp, well-balance acidity, touch of tropical fruit to start with a mellow finish.* It's an excellent standby, and since the new vintages were coming out soon we were concerned that we might run out, so the prudent thing to do seemed to be to stock up. So we did.

Also, just to be on the safe side, we bought a lot more wine. You never know.

*Tasting notes courtesy of Cameron, who can do that sort of thing.

Shoesday: Back On My Feet

As I have mentioned, my foray into early-morning bootcamping left me with one moderately damaged Achilles tendon, which I have been slowly nursing back to health by not doing any running and coming up with reasons to avoid swimming. But break time is just about over, because I made it 45 minutes on the elliptical the other day, and if this keeps up I might actually be able to participate in the half-marathon I signed up for in a burst of deeply unreasonable optimism. (I haven't run for two months and it's in October. What could possibly go wrong?)

Monday, August 23, 2010


One of my tomatoes became ripe!

And I ate it!

It was delicious! Huzzah!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Fun Time!

No shoes this week, because I'm sneaking out early to head to the foothills to go drink wine with a bunch of people dressed like pirates* who may or may not be wearing tasteful boots.** Instead, I give you a Tour Of Things On The Internet.

Are these people serious? Because, on the one hand, they're selling their He-Man inspired paintings for upwards of three grand, which is serious money. On the other hand, they are He-Man inspired paintings. So I'm not sure.

They keep adding bacon to things. Newest additions to the repertoire: hot sauce, bloody mary rim salt, caviar. Also available: toasted ants. (Claimed to taste like bacon.)

Like cycling, but feel like the shorts don't make you look quite stupid enough? How about a bicycle/elliptical machine. Perfect for those times when you need to tell the world, "I am a bigger yuppie dork than any of you."

And finally: Monkeys hate flying squirrels. According to monkey annoyance experts (a job title I believe is science code for "we had some extra grant money lying around and the admin people wouldn't let us spend it on beer).

Also! Speaking of crazy scientists, this guy thought the best way to prove how serious he was about using the scientific process to uncover basic natural truths would be to send taunting emails to a biotech company, full of terrible rap lyrics about how great he is, plus bad grammar. Yay, science!

*I will not be dressed like a pirate. But I will be wearing a scarf with skulls on it, unless it's too hot.
**I'm gonna go with "not."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shoesday: Because I Can't Think of a Day Combination For "Accessories"

Or: Why I shouldn't buy earrings online without a ruler at hand.

I swear, when I bought these, I had in mind that they were about half this size. Which would be cute, right? I love the kind of raw-stone look they've got going on. Unfortunately, I don't love the way they yank my earlobes down towards my chin, and it's tough for me to come up with an outfit that calls for this much earring, so they just sit here on my desk, mocking me as I hold them in reserve for a day I forgot to accessorize and am feeling bold/desperate.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Great Tomato Move

I seemed like things were finally looking up, here on San Mateo's smallest and least successful tomato farm. The herbs are coming up like crazy,* new little tomatoes were appearing on the plants on a semi-regular basis** and there is one tomato that is actually, genuinely turning red:

It's hard as a little rock, but still! Red!

And then disaster struck, in the form of a note from the building's condo association, taped to our door. It said that the South side of the building, the side where the tomatoes have been, is due to be the first for powerwashing and painting, which will take three weeks, starting today. Which meant that if I didn't want my precious tomato plants to be watered at 7000 PSI, we were going to have to move them, pronto.

So I staked them up as best I could and Cameron helped me carry the planters across the living room, to the other, larger balcony on the East side of the building. And right now, you're thinking, well, problem solved, right?

Well, yes and no.

On the one hand the plants should be safe there from the painting and the pressure washing. On the other hand, they've gone from the relatively sunny southern side, to the east-facing balcony that only gets sun exposure in the mornings. And, in case you didn't know, this is what the summer morning sky looks like in San Mateo:

You see my problem. At this point, I'm just hoping something gets ripe before October.

*Anyone need some dill?
**We're up to thirteen!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shoefinder Redux: They* Said It Couldn't Be Done

The tasteful men's pirate boot: Fact or fiction? Solid fashion plan or fevered sartorial nightmare? I would have said the former, which is why, when I did this Shoefinder I didn't even try. But my failure has been bothering me, and that, combined with the fact that we are going to a winery pirate party next weekend** made me think I needed to revisit the topic, and see if I can't succeed where I once failed***.

First, what we're not looking for:

When I say "tasteful," I mean, "something that could reasonably be worn by a sane person who does not live life like it's one big Ren Faire, on a day other than Halloween." So anything with "costume" in the name is right out. Also, black polyurethane boots? Hello, fungus!

Of course, in this context, "tasteful" is kind of relative.

These fall on juust this side of costume-y, which is closer than I usually like to come, but when you're talking pirate boots, you aren't talking subtlety.

If, on the other hand, you like the idea of pirates but don't actually want people to think you're trying to dress up as one, there's always this route:****

Has the same general idea without all the froofraw.***** I like these, but I'm at a bit of a loss on how to wear them, though I am confident that if worn with shorts the effect would be less "plundering the high seas" and more "mucking out the stable."

Finally, continuing with the "inspired by" theme, we have these:

Would an actual pirate have worn them? Well, no. Would he have wanted to? I think so. Will everyone you meet, upon seeing you in these shoes, start thinking about pirates without really knowing why? Absolutely.******

*And by "they," I mean "me."
**I will not, to my knowledge, be dressed as a pirate.
***The smart money's on "no."
****A word about prices: Yes, everything I have posted here is rather significantly on the expensive side. There are a few reasons for that: a) if you're going for an extreme style, you want to go as high-end as possible, or the risk of looking tacky jumps exponentially, b) decent quality men's leather boots are inherently expensive and c) I don't actually expect anyone to be going out and buying these things.
*****Yes, that is the technical term.
******Well, that or creepy medieval churches.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Whinesday: The Embarrassment of the Short-Distance Swimmer

As you may recall, I have been trying some new things in the exercise realm recently. That last one went fairly well, in the sense that I survived it and (I think) became a bit stronger, and got to feel unduly pleased with myself for getting up so early in the morning, but not so much in the sense that I wore too-old shoes to the first day and did something unfavorable to my Achilles tendon. Which means, if I want to have any chance of finishing the San Jose Half Marathon on the first weekend of October, I need to stay off it now and let it heal. But I still need to do my exercise, and there isn't a heck of a lot you can do in the way of cardio without putting strain on your feet.

Except swimming.

I've always considered myself a passable swimmer. I learned when I was very small, in my grandparents pool and continued my education at the very summer camps of my youth, but I've never really gotten past the "pretty sure I won't drown" stage of ability. But I thought I knew a couple of strokes (breaststroke and crawl*) and it seemed like a good interim exercise. There's even a pool in our building!

(We will not talk about the part where I buy a swimsuit, except that I would like to share my theory that sport suit manufacturers make them extra unflattering on purpose, so that you will think you need to work out more, and therefore buy more swimsuits.)

Air Squid!

Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the water.

Key chilling quote:

"We now think there are dozens of species that do it. Squid are used to gliding in the water, so the same physiology probably allows them to maneuver and glide in the air. When you look at some of the pictures, it seems they are more or less using their fins as wings"

Clearly, it is only a matter of time before thy master the technique and begin terrorizing our coastal cities, swooping in to snatch up their prey with their whipping tentacles.

I think I speak for all of us when I say, we can only hope they get a Kardashian. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shoesday: Starry-Shoe Surprise

As a design feature, stars on shoes can be a risky thing. But I love these, because the cutouts are tiny enough that the effect is more "night sky" and less "Jem's earrings." I feel like if you stared at them long enough you could start to pick out constellations.

Mad Men Without the Angst

Everybody*, it seems, loves Mad Men. And what's not to love? Attractive people! Glamor! Smoking! Attractive people smoking glamorously! The only problem is, to get to all the pretty stuff, you have to go through big heaping piles of angst which, frankly, sucks a lot of the fun out of it. Therefore, I present to you Season 1 of Mad Men, de-angstified for your enjoyment.

(By the way, if you haven't already, you really should check out the TLo Mad Style posts, for gorgeous screenshots and everything you didn't know you didn't know about costume design and sixties fashion.)

Episode 1:

It's a bright new day at the ad agency, where ad executive Don Draper has just learned that they will no longer be able to promote cigarettes as healthy, given the mounting data to the contrary. Everyone agrees that would be a horrible thing to do anyway. Young executive Pete gets off the phone with his fiancee, and everyone wishes him the best. New secretarial hire Peggy is given a tour around the office, where she is greeted with respect as a professional. Don meets with a female client and listens to her ideas with interest, then offers some helpful suggestions of his own.

After work, Pete goes out for a few drinks with his coworkers to celebrate his engagement, but they decide not to go to a strip club. On his way home, he stops at Peggy's apartment to congratulate her on a good first day at work, then leaves.

At the end of the episode we meet Don's wife, Betty, who he has not been cheating on at all.

Reports From the Tomato Diaspora

Still no progress on the home tomato front, but fortunately I have my coworkers to pick up the slack. This one came in from Hattie, who lives in Sunnyvale, where they have to get more sunshine or risk charges of false advertising. So she is apparently getting a good crop of tomatoes-- yellow and red, because she took two seedlings and I wasn't keeping track of what was what-- and she was nice enough to bring one in for me. (I ate it and it was every bit as delicious as I hope my own tomatoes will someday become.)

I'm starting to think I'm going about this gardening thing all wrong. Maybe I should just outsource it.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Your Feet Are Not Ugly

This is a bit of a departure for me, but after reading this article in the Wall Street Journal (Go read it. I'll wait. Done? Good.) I feel the need to comment. One might assume from everything I've said here that I believe the wearing of fancy shoes is the be-all and end-all of female existence, and the ability to do so is worth any sacrifice. Which is a reasonable assumption, but it is wrong. I love shoes, and I will put up with a certain amount of discomfort to wear the shoes I love, but there is some distance between "put up with some discomfort" and "surgically alter my feet." A lot of distance, actually.

Does it really need to be said that this is madness? If a pair of shoes doesn't fit you, then the problem is that the shoes are not right for you, not that your feet are somehow defective. There are lots of shoes in the world; there are even people who will make them custom fitted just for you, which costs a lot of money, but a heck of a lot less than having your own personal bones removed for the sake of someone else's designs. There is not a "right" way for feet to be, aside from being functional at holding you upright and allowing you to move under your own steam.

In truth, feet are not generally very attractive things*. And that's okay. They're feet, they're supposed to look like that. They have lumpy bits, and toes of different lengths, and arches that come in a variety of heights, and you get what you get and then you work with it. (I, for example, have a sort of bony protrusion on both my heels that can lead to blistering, particularly in flats. So I tend to buy things a half size up and add heel liners to the back, which takes care of the problem nicely.) What you do not do is let random strangers determine what shape they are supposed to be, and then go and get yourself surgically altered to fit into this imaginary idea of correctness.

Really, your feet look fine. Trust me.

*Which is why I will never be able to endorse these, no matter how comfortable and evolutionarily appropriate people insist they are.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Breaking Tomato News!

Remember back when I had the seedlings? I had more than I could fit in my available tomato-growing space, so I took the overflow in to work and distributed them to some of my coworkers. One went to Joanna, who lives in somewhat-sunnier Fremont and has an actual garden, and look! A tomato!

(Cucumbers also from her garden, not my doing.)

According to her, the plant has produced several fruit, most of which have been eaten straight off the vine by her children. I find this very gratifying.

Plus, now I at least know what they're supposed to look like.

A Question

Dear Disney Couture Jewelry,

Are you sure you really wanted to put that pearl right there?


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Shoesday: Some Serious Shoes

There are shoes, and there are Shoes. And then there are These Shoes. The carpet is masking it a bit, but trust me when I say that they have five-inch heels offset by a one-inch platform, in eelskin-mimicking fuchsia leather. This is YSL, kids; you go big or you go home.

(What can I say? When Bergdorf's is having a 70%-off sale, a girl has got to step up to the plate.)