Friday, August 29, 2008

Where to begin

When eating this cake, where would you begin?

With the head, of course. But should you dig into the brains with an ice-cream scoop or should you extract an eye and go in through there?

For more like this -- and you know you want it -- subscribe to cakelava or cakewrecks.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I've got a friend

Wow! The internets sure are neat!

This morning, there was a note in my mailbox from julienash asking to be my "friend" on

At first I was like, who the hell is Julie Nash and what does she want with me? Then I realized it was Julien Ash, the man behind the band Nouvelles Lectures Cosmopolites.

I realize it is nothing personal, really. He is just trying to promote his music on the internets like everyone else. But still it is neat. I've been a fan of his music for quite a few years now. I have more than 10,000 plays registered since I joined, and he comes in at number 2 in number of plays, right behind Philip Glass, and somehow amazingly ahead of Legendary Pink Dots.

I'm a bit surprised to learn he is a fan of eminimen, but not at all surprised that he's into Michael Nyman and Wim Mertens. And from his page, I followed a link to Helios Creed, and was amazed. How could I not have listened to him before. Some of his stuff is great!

And my good friend Lisette just launched today, so be sure to check it out!

Friday, August 22, 2008

V for Victory

Set your VCR!

Varla Jean Merman will be on Project Runway on Bravo this Saturday morning from 8-9am. I know you won't be up that early, so be sure the VCR/DVR or whatever is ready!

If you don't want to know who won, don't google it and don't visit Varla Online, because this will be a re-broadcast from Wednesday night's show, so the result is already known.

The contestents had to design clothes for Varla and her feeble imitators. Ru-Paul judged.

Thanks to J-- for this juicy tidbit. I wouldn't have known, otherwise. Wednesday night I was foolishly watching the men's swimsuit competition on the olympics. If only I'd known!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Feet at Last!

Finally, some fetish-worthy feet!

The first few times I ever made macaroons, I got lucky and they came out just right. But I've never really replicated that success. I've made some delicious ones (basil!), and some with fascinating textures (ginger!), but they never get the little feet they are supposed to have.

I made another batch this weekend, and this time I did some experimenting with ratios of dry ingredients (sugar and almonds) to wet (egg white). The ones that I was absolutely sure were too dry were the only ones to develop the feet. So now I know. That doesn't mean I'll be able to replicate it, but I will try!
(They are still a little lumpy, but that just means I need to grind the almonds finer.)

The flavor, by the way, is powdered Sassafras root. They taste remarkably similar to the root-beer flavor of bottle caps, and apparently sassafras will cure gonorrhea, just so you know.

I made a batch of Sarsaparilla bark ones at the same time. The flavor was much more subtle. A bit like cream-soda, really, but mostly it just emphasized the flavor of almonds. That flavor would mix very, very well with candy-cap mushroom.

Last week was Sesame. Tasted like toasted marshmallows (Yum!).

I guess I'm in the "S's" now, so I'll have to try savory, saxifrage, saffron, ...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fluffy clounds

Some folks didn't find my last post sunny enough. So here are some pictures of clouds and rainbows.

I took these on Aug 5. The sky was fully of odd, wispy clouds, but it was the opalescent clouds that really caught my attention. It isn't really a rare phenomenon. I notice it about once a month. But it is hard to get a good picture. I took about 10 shots with different exposures and that one above is about the best I could do. It doesn't really capture how pretty it is in real life, but it is the best I've done so far.

Once in Paris I was out on a rented bike and I saw some beautiful clouds like this right behind the Eiffel tower. I took a bunch of photos from different spots, but they were all over-exposed. Too bad, because they would have been really pretty.

I even once was lucky enough to see this phenomenon during a solar eclipse! For the 15 minutes before totality the clouds near the sun were green and purple. And they were very thin clouds, so they didn't interfere with viewing the eclipse. It was amazing!

One more picture, this time with an airplane.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Memento mori

Memento mori
As William Shatner says:

You are gonna die!

Is this how you want to be remembered?

Update: I've updated the link because the original was pulled off-line.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

By the Time You Get to Phoenix, I'll Be Gone

Yippee! I won!

My picture of my Sheldon Harvey painting has been selected to be included in the Schmapp Phoenix guide.

It is one of several images representing the Heard Museum.

But since I bought my picture there, it isn't at the museum anymore. But I guess they still have one or two interesting things, such as this traditional Native American Harry Potter bowl.

One of my other pictures is short-listed for the Paris guide. Vote for me!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Orwell's Diary

I just found out about the Orwell Diaries.

What a neat idea! They are publishing the diaries of George Orwell as if they were a blog, with each entry posted exactly 70 years after he wrote it in his diary. The first two entries are rather dull, but I'm sure this will be an interesting thing to read as the days go by.

Monday, August 4, 2008

More music please!

This weekend I took a little vacation down to Santa Cruz for the Cabrillo festival of contemporary music, just like I did last year. I had wanted to stay for the whole weekend and go to 3 concerts, but my lack of planning led me to only get to see one.

Oh well, it was a fun concert and it was nice to get away from home for a bit. You can read my review over on

One of the really neat things about these concerts is that I can get so up-close with the composers and performers. When I was younger, composers were like some mythical beings that existed in another realm. The idea that I could see them standing 5 feet from me, and in a few cases actualy meet them, wouldn't have seemed likely. But the world really does seem smaller now. I've been in spitting distance of some of my favorites, like Philip Glass, Terry Riley, and Steven Stapelton, several times. I've met and talked to the members of my favorite rock group multiple times. I've e-mailed with composer Douwe Eisenga, and we are online "friends". Even just subscribing to the blogs of Nico Muhly and David Byrne is exciting. It makes me feel connected to them in some small way.

If I had stayed for Monday, as I'd planned, I would have met-up for lunch with a friend and former co-worker who now works at UCSC and she was going to show me her lab. She works with people on the UCSC Genome Browser, which I reference quite a bit in my own work. I had also previously visited her lab in France. But I didn't stay until Monday, so I sadly didn't see her. Even worse, someone exploded a bomb in her bosses car on Saturday, so it would have been an awkward visit! It was probably an animal rights activist, which is odd because her boss, whose name has not been published, doesn't do animal research.

Unfortunately, I've had my own run-ins with animal activists when I worked at UCSF. I also never experimented on animals, but I worked around and with people who did. I'll have to make a separate post about that....