not the rhino
Friday, February 27, 2004

Check out these photos from SF! They literally made me cry. (Make sure to click "Next" on the bottom left to continue.) I like the one with the two babies. And the line outside city hall.

There were two good Salon articles about gay marriage this week, too:

"You can't imagine what it's like from a distance. Straight or gay, visitors get teary when they walk inside City Hall, where the meaning of what Newsom did is huge and palpable. It's always struck me as vaguely homophobic, the insistence on how 'normal' these couples are, but that really is what hits you in person. Sure, there are drag queens in the line waiting for marriage licenses, and plenty of old-fashioned flannel-shirted lesbians. But there are also 50-something men in bad suits and women in Prada; there are women in wheelchairs and interracial couples; and there are children everywhere, kids doing homework sitting on the floor as they wait for their parents' turn to get married. These are families already, and once you see them you know: There's really no going back." 
Thursday, February 26, 2004
  Plus ├ža change...

Here's a poem, that I remembered enjoying a long time ago.

A Late Aubade

You could be sitting now in a carrel
Turning some liver-spotted page,
Or rising in an elevator-cage
Toward Ladies' Apparel.

You could be planting a raucous bed
Of salvia, in rubber gloves,
Or lunching through a screed of someone's loves
With pitying head,

Or making some unhappy setter
Heel, or listening to a bleak
lecture on Schoenberg's serial technique.
Isn't this better?

Think of all the time you are not
Wasting, and would not care to waste,
Such things, thank God, not being to your taste.
Think what a lot

Of time, by woman's reckoning,
You've saved, and so may spend on this,
You who had rather lie in bed and kiss
Than anything.

It's almost noon, you say? If so,
Time flies, and I need not rehearse
The rosebuds-theme of centuries of verse.
If you must go,

Wait for a while, then slip downstairs
And bring us up some chilled white wine,
And some blue cheese, and crackers, and some fine
Ruddy-skinned pears.

- by Richard Wilbur

Ah yes. I didn't even like blue cheese in high school when this poem first made me smile!

It is no secret that I love to sleep, and stay in bed. Several Christmases in a row during high school, I asked for bed accoutrements for my "big present" (aka the "santa present") -- I got pillows, a comforter, throw pillows... very exciting for me. At some point in college my ideal weekend day was a whole day spent in my big bed: le jour du grand lit! Not just sleeping, mind you, but eating yummy snacks, (in bed! shocking, I know...) and reading... etc. One of my current prized possessions is my down comforter. The more things change, the more they stay the same?
Friday, February 20, 2004
  Mathematical vegetables and physicist jokes

First, I direct you to a beautiful cabbage. Wow!

Here's a bit more plant science.

And... in a further attempt to connect math and food, I bring you
A Technical Approach to Pancakes and Kansas
(complete with IHOP reference!) This topic was mentioned in a physics seminar I heard this week. The speaker, James Bjorken, was comparing the flatness of the universe* with the flatness of Kansas, and therefore, the flatness of pancakes.

Early in the talk, he was describing the universe, as we see it: we can't see any kind of edge. When people speculate about what lies beyond the part of the universe that we can see, they wonder, of course, how far out it goes. Dr. Bjorken said that many theorists predict that the obervable universe (even if we don't have telescopes that can see it all) is, in fact, infinite. (So, we'll never see it all!) "That's pretty far, though," Bjorken countered. "especially toward the end." That got a good laugh.

He went on to talk about a model of his own, where we are in just one square of the universe, and outside of the square that we can observe, there are many other similar squares. He compared our square to Kansas. "Now, if you're a theorist," he laughed, "and you're in Kansas, you can't see outside of Kansas... you would probably say that Kansas is infinite." :)

*When physicists & cosmologists talk about the universe being "flat," they mean flat in 3D, not 2D. Usually people show images that are in 2D, though, since the 3D ones are hard to picture. 
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
  Tonight, I am all superlatives.

Here's a recipe for perhaps the best pasta sauce, in the world!
from Fine Cooking, perhaps the best cooking magazine, in the world!

for 8 oz pasta (i love Rustichella's handmade orecchiette for this! Penne is also good, but anything works.)

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes + their juice (Muir Glen have awesome tomatoes.)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or half, if dried)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or half, if dried)
1/4 teaspoon (or more) dried red chile flakes

1/4 cup vodka (not $$$, but don't use it if you wouldn't drink it.)
1/3 cup chicken or veggie stock, if you've got it.

1/3 to 2/3 cup heavy cream (not milk! milk may break up due to the acidity!)
salt & pepper

optional garnishes:
coarsely chopped parsley
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, if you've got it

0. Bring the pasta water to a boil, with non-iodized salt in the water (1.5 Tablespoons or so for every 3 quarts of water). Use lots of water! Don't used iodized salt. It doesn't taste as good. I recommend using a cheapish Kosher Salt (Morton's, Diamond Crystal) for stuff like this. When the water boils, cook the pasta... don't wait. Leave the pasta a bit firm, since it will cook with the sauce a little at the end. Don't rinse the pasta: the starch on the pasta will help the sauce to stick.

1. Heat the olive oil, in a pretty big pan (the pasta will eventually be in the pan as well) until it sizzles when you add a drop of water. Then add the onions and garlic. Saute them until they begin to brown.

2. Add the tomatoes + juice, and the herbs and chili flakes. Cook until simmering.

3. Add the vodka and broth, if you have it. Bring the sauce to a simmer again and let some of the vodka simmer off. Let the sauce reduce a bit until it looks like you would put it on pasta, instead of serve it as soup... maybe 5-10 minutes? It's up to you.

4. Season the sauce with salt and pepper (make sure to taste it! and salt! and taste again!) and add the cream. Don't boil the sauce once you have added the cream. Taste the sauce again, after the cream has been added, and see if you need any more salt.

5. This is important! Don't just plop the pasta on the plates and then put the sauce on top. Take the pasta, which is done cooking and not rinsed, and put the pasta in the pan with the sauce. Cook the two together for a minute or two -- this allows the sauce to be absorbed into the pasta. Yum. Serve with the parsley and cheese, if you like. 
Thursday, February 12, 2004
  Dan Savage rocks: "Hey, Everybody: The Stranger's seventh annual Pre-Valentine's Day Bash is a wild party for the single and the bitter and their friends and supporters. Bring mementos from failed relationships and we'll destroy them for you live on-stage! Smash! Purge! Heal! Thursday, Feb 12, 7 PM, at Chop Suey." 
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
  This webpage seems destined to become a recipe repository for things I like to cook. Why fight the power?

Winter Vegetable Soup
adapted from the New Basics Cookbook (Rosso & Lukins)
(it's my favorite cookbook!)

serves 4-6
total time: about an hour, plus lots of chopping.
special eqiupment: blender or food processor

4 slices bacon, cut into 1" pieces
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups finely diced leeks (white part and 1" into green) (3-4 thin leeks)
2 cups finely diced onions (about 2 onions)
1 cups finely diced celery
1.5 teaspoon dried tarragon
.5 teaspoon dried thyme
salt & pepper, to taste
4 cups chicken broth (I like Swanson)
2.5 cups (or more) peeled, diced potatoes (about 4 potatoes)
10-16 oz spinach, rinsed, stemmed, and cut into 1/8 inch slivers
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

0. In a large soup pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and eat it or save it for use in step 6.

1. Add the butter to the bacon fat in the pot. (mmm.) When the butter has melted, add the leeks, onions, and celery. Add about 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt. Cover and cook over low heat, intermittantly stirring, for about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook 5-10 more minutes to brown onions/leeks. The more patience you have, the more of those yummy browned-onion flavors you'll get. If the veggies start to burn at all, proceed to the next step.

2. Add the spices and stir for a minute, then add the chicken broth and potatoes. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender but not mushy, 15-20 minutes.

3. Add *half* of the spinach and simmer 1 minute more.

4. Remove the soup from the heat. Puree half the soup in a blender or food processor (careful blending hot liquids!) and return the blended stuff to the soup pot.

5. Return the pot to low heat. Add the remaining spinach and the cream. Heat through, stirring well, but do not boil. Adjust the seasonings. (Really. Seriously. Taste the soup and add some salt. Taste it again and maybe add more salt. Add some pepper. Taste it again. Repeat until you think it can't get any yummier. If you're really scared, take a little soup in a cup and add more salt to that to see if it's too salty. Too much salt is certainly a bad thing, but too little salt and you won't bring out all the other great flavors. You'll probably add at least another teaspoon, depending on you salty your stock and bacon were.)

* Note: You should taste the soup before you add the cream, too, so you can see what adding cream does to soups. It's neat to see how the flavor changes.

6. If you didn't eat all the bacon already, crumble it up and put some of the bacon on top of the soup as a pretty (and tasty) garnish. If you did eat the bacon, I don't blame you. it's good in the soup, though. :) 
Monday, February 09, 2004
  Howdy. I report from a new location. New office, new house -- all that!

The most exciting part of my drive here yesterday was eating a whole pear. All of it! (almost.) Usually, I leave the core and the seeds and the little string that connects the stem to the core... but not yesterday. I was driving, and there was really nowhere to put the leftover pear remains. So I ate them! Bwah hah hah.

It was a pretty ripe pear, so I was driving along with cool, sticky pear juice dripping down my hand and running into my sleeve... it made me think of one of the last nights of college: there were five of us in the car. For some reason, we were talking about fruit, (crazy college kids that we were) and there were two votes for really hard pears, two votes for really ripe, juicy pears... and that left Liz as the tie-breaking vote in this (clearly very important) matter of squishy vs. firm pears. "Well?" we asked her. "Whose side are you on?" She paused, and as she shook her head she said, "I fuckin' HATE pears!"

Who hates pears? I mean, really? A lot of people, apparently. 
Friday, February 06, 2004
  Quote of the day

"I think he's run the country into the ground economically, and he comes out with these crazy ideas like going to Mars and going to the moon," said Richard Bidlack, a 78-year-old retiree from Boonton, N.J., who says he voted for Bush in 2000. "I'm so upset at Bush, I'll vote for a chimpanzee before I vote for him." (from News

Tuesday, February 03, 2004
  A strangely American Superbowl Sunday

I knew that this Superbowl Sunday would be different after my trip to the co-op on Sunday afternoon. First of all, they were playing Bruce Springsteen. At the co-op. Not that I have anything against Bruce -- quite the opposite -- but the co-op is the kind of place that's usually playing something like the White Stripes or Stereolab or Miles Davis or Sleater Kinney or ... some kind of world music. The Springsteen seemed a little incongruous with the tempeh and soy milk.

As I thought more about it, though, and I listened to the sad lyrics of "Born in the USA" ("so they put a rifle in my hands / Sent me off to Vietnam / To go and kill the yellow man") it made more sense. I mean, it's a war protest song and all.*

I continued to go about my shopping, and I was dismayed to realize two things. Thing A: The co-op was out of pita bread. Hmm. They don't usually run out of things... which leads to Thing B: I am a member of a small but identifiable demographic: People Who Shop for Superbowl Parties at the Co-op. And what do those People serve at their Parties? Pita Bread, of course. Most pitas are probably consumed with hummus, I'm guessing, but I made a yummy white bean dip. Mine was extra lemon-y and extra garlic-y, and I skipped the herbs.

The other food news about the Superbowl was that we made awesome wings in the oven. I'll post the recipe eventually. They rocked. I also made an apple pie. What could be more American than that?

* (Keep an eye out for "Born in the USA" during these presidential campaigns. Crowds love to sing along to the chorus but they seem to tune out during the verses. ("I had a brother at Khe Sahn fighting off the Viet Cong / They're still there, he's all gone."))

Snips and Snails and Exploding Whales

Have you already 'experienced' the recent exploding whale? Make sure to catch that last paragraph.

(I mention that it's the recent exploding whale, so as to distinguish it from that other exploding whale. Don't miss the video.) 
i just don't know yet.

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