Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Wave


I hope everyone had a good holiday! I am glad it's over!

Right now, I'm reading a book I really recommend called The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean. It's about giant waves. The way she writes it and researches it is really interesting--she switches back and forth between the amazing surfers who surf these 60 to 80 foot gigantic waves to the scientists who study them. Both subcultures are pretty interesting. I enjoy the subject matter as well as her writing style--she writes it in the first person, but she doesn't have an annoying "voice"--her part in it all is fairly low-key and invisible.

She also wrote a book about great white sharks which I plan to read next.

Pictured above: Pro surfer Laird Hamilton, riding an insanely huge wave. He is married to 6-foot-three supermodel/volleyball pro Gabby Reece. They have three kids who, with that genetic mix, were probably born with superpowers.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Candied Nuts


Candied pecans and walnuts make a nice holiday gift and, if you happen to have pecans or walnuts lying around, it's an inexpensive gift too. My Southern relatives are always mailing us pecans which is convenient.

Since we blew so much money going to Hawaii, I don't have much money left over for Christmas presents this year, so for gifts at the office, I'm making everybody a (small) jar of these candied pecans. People are always really impressed with these ("You made these??") but the funny thing is, the recipe is so quick and simple. Here's the one I use:

2 cups raw walnuts or pecans
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a large baking pan, or better yet, use parchment paper (easier for clean up). Combine nuts, sugar, and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook about 15 minutes, until mixture thickens. Spread nuts on baking pan and sprinkle with salt. Bake 15 minutes, then turn nuts using an oiled spatula and cook 15 minutes more. Let cool, then put into pretty glass jars.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hair

We saw Guy's favorite musical, Hair, at the Paramount last Saturday. Hearing his millions of versions of the soundtrack never had any effect on me, but apparently seeing the musical is the straw that broke the camel's back and made me a fan too. Damn the persuasive power of musical theater!

The movie looks very silly:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sunday Afternoon


This is a drawing that Guy did of me yesterday when I was finishing a silly suspense novel I was reading. It had a few twists that made me gasp with surprise. It was a very, very ridiculous book called The Perfect Husband, but sometimes I enjoy reading really crappy novels.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Almas



I spent last Sunday as well as this Sunday making pretzels. They're fun! I used a recipe from Joy of Cooking and it's really simple, you just need a lot of time for rising and it helps to have a Kitchen-Aid mixer with a dough hook. I love my dough hook; it means I don't have to do any kneading by hand.

The first time I made them (last week), I made the mistake of putting too much salt on them. This time, I'll lightly salt only half the batch, and leave the rest unsalted. Guy and I had them for dinner with (store bought) Queso sauce and salad.

I like this paragraph from Joy of Cooking in their chapter on yeast:

"Yeasts are tiny single-celled living organisms with approximately 3,200 billion cells to the pound--and not one is exactly like another. They feed on sugars and produce alcohols and carbon dioxide--the "riser" in batters and doughs. But you may prefer, as we do, to accept a Mexican attitude towards yeast doughs. They call them almas, or souls, because they seem so spirited."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving



Have a nice Thanksgiving, party people!

In the Foulard household today, we're baking pies and preparing. My mom may or may not be able to join us because it's been snowing like crazy this week, and it was snowing again this morning.

I'm making pumpkin pie, pecan pie, stuffing, and mashed rutabagas. Guy is making brined chicken breast. He was going to make turkey breast, but they were all out.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention, I made Parker House rolls last night too! They turned out really good. It's easy to make bread with a Kitchen-Aid dough hook, then you just need a lot of time to sit around and let it rise. Fast acting yeast is essential too, as it really cuts down on rising time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Disposable Kindle


Have a difficult-to-shop-for bibliophile on your x-mas list? Consider the Disposable Kindle! It's a pleasing gift, and way cheaper than the Original Kindle. Here are a few of its exciting features:

You can purchase any book you want! One book per Kindle. Then, when you're done reading it, just throw it away!

Short books weigh only 7 or 8 pounds. Longer books weigh more, but you can choose whether to separate it into "volumes" or simply buy one. For example, want to read Anna Karenina? Buy either a large 13-pound Kindle--or three lighter ones!

Disposable Kindle is not recyclable. After reading, just dispose of it conveniently in your neighborhood dumpster.

Convenient cord 14 inches in length. Be sure to move your comfy chair close to the electrical outlet for easy reading.

Hold Disposable Kindle at just the right angle to discern all the words on the screen! (If tilted at the wrong angle, page will be unreadable.)

Emits a high-pitched electronic whine which might give you a headache. Not good for people with sensitive ears.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Caramel Coconut Shortbread


I found this recipe on Rachael Ray's website. It's supposed to taste like Samoa (Girl Scout) cookies. Those are my favorite so it made me want to try this recipe. If it turns out well, I might bake a batch to give out at Christmas:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 ounces soft caramel candies
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then add to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed just until the dough comes together. Press evenly into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Using a fork, prick the dough at 1-inch intervals. Bake until golden, 20 to 22 minutes.

  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the caramels with the cream and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt over medium heat. Stir in the coconut, then spread over the shortbread.

  4. Using a spoon, drizzle the chocolate on top. Let cool completely before slicing.

Christmas Is Coming!


I've really been feeling the spirit of getting lately. Here are some things I want:

· Candy Thermometer

· Mens medium pajamas

· Rachael Ray Look & Cook

· Colorful knee length striped socks

· Lush gift box

New season of IT Crowd

Jordan's new autobiography

Red corduroy pants

Psychology Today subscription

Gift certificate for Target

I might not get 'em all, because the purse strings are tight right now, due to splurging on our trip to Hawaii. But that's okay!


What do you want for Christmas?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Diamond Head Game



I have an 8-year-old pen pal named Alice. I received her first letter yesterday and wrote one back today. It's part of a volunteer/school program designed to help kids practice their letter-writing skills. You exchange letters with your kid for a year and then at the end of the year, you meet each other at a big party. Since my office is all about volunteering, my boss gave me permission to blow off work that day so that I can go to this event--so, whooooooooo, party in a year!

Anyway, as I was writing to Alice today, I thought it would be interesting to tell her about my trip to Hawaii last week. I carefully explained that we went to O'ahu, a Hawaiian island, and that the neighborhood we went to is called Waikiki. Then I began to tell her about how we hiked up Diamond Head and...I was about to explain what Diamond Head is when I realized I don't really know myself. Is it a mountain? Diamond Head Mountain....no, that's not right. Is it a volcano? Sort of, but it still doesn't sound right.

Feeling a greater-than-usual need for accuracy (since my letters to Alice are supposed to be somewhat educational), I looked up Diamond Head on Wikipedia. And here's the definition:

"Diamond Head is part of the complex of cones, vents, and their associated eruption flows that are collectively known to geologists as the Honolulu Volcanic Series, eruptions from the Koʻolau Volcano that took place long after the volcano formed and had gone dormant."

Okay, obviously, I'm not going to attempt explaining that to a third-grader, so I just abandoned the whole sentence and described swimming with giant turtles instead.

However, skimming the rest of the Diamond Head post, I discovered something amazing:

"There was a 1975 televised game show, The Diamond Head Game set at Diamond Head. The host was the game show main-stay, Bob Eubanks. Final contestants could step into a "Money Volcano" and catch flying bills of real money."

Get out!! Why have I never heard of that?? I want to watch it! And Alan Thicke allegedly wrote the "memorable theme song" but I don't know anyone who remembers this...

Anyone?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nubby


There was a little seabird on our deck, missing one foot. We named him Nubby. He got along just fine. Cute little beggar. We saw him again a few days later.

We went snorkeling and saw giant turtles! I swam up really close to one. It was magical. I could hear his intake of breath, see his bottom row of tiny turtle teeth, and look into his ancient strange adorable murky turtle eyes. He tolerated me for a few moments, then swam off.

This is our last day in Hawaii. We are hiking up Diamond Head today.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

7 Different Languages

This skit made me laugh so hard!:



From The Catherine Tate Show.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Animated Candy Bowl


This is a big hit in my office this week. I got it at Target--a bargain at only $14. You fill it with candy, and then when someone reaches to take a piece, the animated hand grabs at you suddenly, and yells something. It's either, "Gimmie a hand!", "Not that piece!", "It's mooooving!"...there are a few additional phrases which I can't remember now.

The voice was reminding my co-worker of someone, and she finally placed it--Ren, of Ren and Stimpy. It's a very obnoxious candy bowl.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Would Like to Thank the Academy...

Thank you to Dana of Philly Collector for bestowing upon me a Most Versatile Blogger award! Dana has an amazing collection of dolls which you can check out at her blog. Here are seven facts about me:

1. My favorite color is pink.
2. My favorite appliance is my Kitchen-Aid mixer.
3. I finally started watching Mad Men.
4. I didn't think I'd enjoy working in a hospital, but it turns out I do.
5. I love thunderstorms.
6. I hate milk.
7. Recent discovery: people are more impressed by grace than by perfection.

Thanks for the shout-out, Dana!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Nazi Zombies



Dead Snow is a movie about nazi zombies in the snow. If you're like me, that's all you need to hear before running to the computer and putting it at the top of your Netflix queue. If you liked Shaun of the Dead, you'll definitely like this movie too. It's funny, gross, scary, over-the-top, and totally implausible, everything that a good zombie movie should be. And it's Norwegian, which makes it extra fun (unless you hate reading subtitles). I thought it was fun to hear what Norwegian sounds like, especially with all the English phrases that they use (like, "Beer!").

I think pacing is important in a movie like this--the creepiness should build slowly, before all hell breaks loose--and Dead Snow has excellent dramatic pacing.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Donuts & Apples


Last week at work, someone brought in two boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts. A week or so later, someone else brought us a bowl of apples.

The contrast in everyone's reactions was truly striking. The donuts triggered a very intense reaction--interestingly, mostly negative. The most common response was, "Oh no! Donuts!", followed by much discussion, longing, craving, giving-in or not giving-in, and just a big brouhaha in general. Despite the proclaimed negative response, those donuts disappeared fast.

It reminded me of when Deebo sees a squirrel or bird outside the window. He reacts with a mixture of horror and aversion, and intense attraction.

On the other end of the spectrum, the poor bowl of apples elicited exactly no reaction whatsoever. They were the Ralph Ellison of the food world. A few people apathetically gazed at them, said something like, "Oh. Apples..." and then walked right past. A few people did eat them, but not with anywhere near the same fanfare generated by the donuts.

Interestingly, a couple of people actively disliked Krispy Kremes, deeming them "too sweet" and expressing a preference for other kinds of donuts. And I found out that two of my co-workers are allergic to uncooked fruit, which is an allergy I had never even heard of before.

In conclusion, apples: respectable but somewhat dull, like Jackie Kennedy. Donuts: exciting but dangerous, like Marilyn Monroe.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Entertaining

I had some guests over yesterday--my book club. The book we read was Nickle and Dimed. I really liked the book, but not everyone did.

Tonight I'm having more people over. Last night I made macaroni and cheese. Tonight, it's butternut squash soup. Guy holds a personal grudge against butternut squash soup, for some reason. He calls it "soup for ladies."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cheers & Jeers


Here's some stuff I've been liking and loathing this week.

1. Cheers! to Clinique Face Scrub Exfoliant Visage (for men). I was excited when I discovered this product. It felt and smelled and worked the same as an incredibly expensive product that I bought once at a spa...the only difference, in my opinion, is that this one is marketed to men who aren't willing to pay as much. This Clinque product costs $16.50 which might sound like a lot but it works really, really well, removes dead flakes from your skin, smells good, feels good, and is very refreshing to use. It lasts a long time too. (By way of contrast, the product it reminded me of cost $40!) It instantly makes your skin look and feel better.

This is the description on the official site:

"Pre-shave essential. Revives and smooths skin, removing dead flakes and oil buildup, clearing the way for closer, nick-free shaves. Lifts beard, helps reduce ingrown hairs. Contains rounded granules that won't scratch skin."

2. Cheers! to The Island of the Colorblind, by Oliver Sacks. I really like his writing and I just started this book and am enjoying it. The title is not a metaphor--it's about a tiny Pacific island where a strangely huge percentage of the inhabitants are colorblind from birth.

3. Jeers! to that 20-something hippie who parks outside our apartment, running his engine forever and slowly loading and unloading his children and camping equipment from his duct-taped car. Our new apartment is waaaaaaaay quieter than the old one, but that hippie still irks me! Turn off your engine, man!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dude You Have No Quran

This is all over the Internet but I still just had to post it. Not only is it hilarious, but it's surprisingly danceable as well!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Burning Mouth Syndrome

This is a weird disease that I'd never heard of until last week, when I found out that someone I know has it:

Glossodynia or burning mouth syndrome (BMS) (also known as "Burning tongue" and "Orodynia") is a condition characterized by a burning or tingling sensation on the lips, tongue, or entire mouth.

Typically, there are no visual signs like discoloration that help the diagnosis.

Possible causes include nutritional deficiencies, chronic anxiety or depression, type 2 diabetes, menopause, oral disorders such as thrush or dry mouth, or damaged nerves (specifically, cranial nerves associated with taste).

One cause of burning mouth pain, which may be often misdiagnosed as burning mouth syndrome, is a contact sensitivity Type IV hypersensitivity in the oral tissues to common substances such as sodium lauryl sulfate, a surfactant commonly used in household products, cinnamon aldehyde or dental materials. There are now several toothpastes on the market specifically without sodium lauryl sulfate or other preservatives which have been found to be associated with sensitivities.

This condition appears more often in women, specifically women after menopause, than men. Pain typically is low or nonexistent in the morning and builds up over the course of the day.

Low dosages of benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsants may prove to be an effective treatment.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid 600 to 800 mg administered daily in three or four doses has been found to reduce symptoms. Trials have been small, but alpha-lipoic acid may be an appropriate adjunctive treatment option.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In the Land of the Blind, the One-Eyed Man Is King



When I started my job, I was initially nervous to realize that my new boss thought of me as a "computer expert" which is not a label that I would ever apply to myself. I suddenly had a case of imposter syndrome. Even though I tried to be totally honest in my interviews, I wondered if I had somehow accidentally misrepresented myself.

After a few semi-harrowing days, it slowly dawned on me that when it comes to computers, everything is relative. My boss turned out to be one of those people who hand writes everything and, compared to her and to my office mates, I actually am a computer expert. What a relief!

In other news, today at work I met a retired service dog who was actually the first ever (official) service dog at the hospital where I work. She was little and gray and soft, with pointy ears and sweet eyes. It was quite an honor.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mactini

Guy and I disagree about this Peter Serafinowicz skit. I think the character is supposed to be somewhat of an imitation of Bill Gates (even though it's a Mac product). Guy thinks he's just a generic computer geek.

Pool Party: Success!



We ended up being lucky last week. Even though it wasn't a particularly hot or sunny day, when we got to the pool, the sun suddenly came out. We got to have the pool all to ourselves and it was plenty warm enough....especially since it's a heated pool (80 degrees).

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pool Party



Last weekend, it was extremely hot in Seattle. It seemed like a good idea to plan a pool party--my mom's condo has a pool--so some friends and I invited ourselves over this Saturday to swim in it and later have a Bar-B-Q.

Unfortunately for us, the weather changed. Now that Saturday is here, it's only dimly sunny with highs in the low 70s and a chance of rain. On the bright side, we'll probably have the whole pool to ourselves!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The IT Crowd



My new favorite TV show is a sitcom called The IT Crowd. It is currently a popular show in England--still airing--but you can buy the recently aired seasons here in the US in a DVD boxed set.

It's about two nerdy IT guys who work in the crummy basement of an otherwise posh office building that houses a company run by a crazy CEO. Because he's kind of crazy and random, he assigns newly-hired Jen to manage the IT guys, even though she knows nothing about computers.

The description on the back of the boxed set calls Jen a "go-getter" but I think that's inaccurate. While she desperately craves the outward appearance of success, she has little actual drive. She's more the type of person who sits around and complains and hopes that success will magically happen to her. In other words, she's very relateable. She doesn't manage the guys so much as she pretends to manage them when someone important walks in the door. For their part, they tolerate her with a mixture of affection and exasperation. They don't respect her very much, but they do like her.

It's a show about people who aren't really making it and who don't really have what it takes. Maurice Moss is the most lovable nerd to appear on television since Ed Grimley. Roy is less socially maladjusted than Moss, but being slightly cooler tends to mean that he just finds that many more ways to humiliate himself.

I wanted to post a scene from the show here, but of course the embedding was disabled on YouTube. Damn those computer nerds!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

60 Seconds



When the remake of this movie first came out, I kept accidentally calling it Gone In 60 Minutes...which would have been a much slower movie about much less impressive car thieves. Actually, that movie would probably have been more entertaining.

Anyway, I wanted to recommend the job interviewing book that I found most helpful when I was preparing for my job interviews (before I got my current job). It's called 60 Seconds and You're Hired! and it's by Robin Ryan. She includes a long list of potential questions that you might be asked, with suggestions about how to answer, and one thing that really helped me was reading through all the questions and thinking about what my answer would be. Once I knew that I had an answer for anything I might be asked, I felt a lot more confident about going into the interview (although I was still terrified).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jesus, Britney.



Oh, Britney, Britney. Sadly, this is still an improvement for her, compared to her lowest fashion moments.

I consider Britney to possess exceptional natural beauty, because even though she has no idea how to groom or dress herself, she looks beautiful most of the time anyway. But she really pushes it!

Hyperactive Delivery Guy



A fun part of my day today was when one of my co-workers remembered this skit from MAD TV. I used to watch MAD TV when it was on, but apparently not consistently enough, because I didn't remember this character. We gathered around her computer and watched the entire skit which is pretty long.

What I like about this skit--in addition to the funny character--is the nostalgia factor. Remember those innocent days of yesteryear, when recording a "clever" answering machine message was considered something of an art?

Blue Holes


From USA Today:

Only a few miles inland from the Bahamas' sparkling coral reefs, the islands' limestone boasts dozens of submerged caves, "blue holes," some of them hidden in what look like island swimming holes linked to the ocean.

But swimming holes they are not. The inland caves on five islands sport freshwater caps covering heavier saltwater layers, sometimes filled with clouds of poisonous hydrogen sulfide released by salt-eating microbes, acting to preserve whatever falls within. Others contain whirlpools powered by the tides.

"Cave diving is really about knowing your limits," Broad says. "But it provides one of the most amazing experiences in life, and the scientific opportunities are tremendous."

Says cave diver and geologist Patricia Beddows of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who was not part of the expedition: "Each one of these cave diving expeditions, without fail, provides an enormous amount of information. Cave diving is an extraordinarily powerful tool to allow us to get into the heart of karst (cave) systems worldwide."

In submerged caves such as Stargate on Andros island in the Bahamas, the expedition team reports:

• Specialized "chemosynthetic" bacteria that live without oxygen and feast on chemical reactions possible only in the caves.

• Stalactite curtains, or "speleothems," that contain a record of past sea level and climate conditions locked in their structures.

• Fossils of Lucayan tribe members who lived on the islands until the 1500s.

"We've brought scientists from many disciplines together so our results inform each other's work," Broad says. "The initial exploration is just a proof of concept. We still have lots of work ahead."

Coastal regions of the Caribbean, such as Florida, Cuba and the Yucatán, and other regions worldwide contain limestone permeated with caves, Beddows notes, leading to such blue holes. In addition to their scientific value, they often serve as freshwater resources for increasing numbers of people in those regions, which makes investigation of them essential for public health.

Sea level about 20,000 years ago, during the height of an Ice Age, was hundreds of feet lower in the Bahamas. The transition has left its mark on the speleothems and geology of the caves, Broad says, making each one a laboratory for measuring the effects of past changes in climate.

Alongside the danger, the blue holes of the Bahamas have offered little allure for divers who in some cases could instead walk to beaches with access to some of the world's most beautiful coral reefs.

"Why dive into a muddy-looking hole when you can head for the beach?" Broad says. "But (the holes) are really fascinating places once you start looking."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gimmicks



I've been enjoying The Rockford Files a lot lately, and it got me to thinking about all the different 70s detective shows that I like, with all their various gimmicks. Here is my non-comprehensive list.

Barnaby Jones. He solves crime...and he's old!

Ironside. He solves crime...from a wheelchair!

Cannon. He solves crime...and he's fat!

Kojak. He's bald...and enjoys lollipops!

Mannix. He's a modern man...who hates computers. He prefers to rely instead on good old-fashioned footwork and sheer manliness.

Columbo. He looks like a bum, but he's really a lieutenant! Also, he drives a shitty car.

The Rockford Files. He has an answering machine.

Policewoman. Lady cop!

The Rookies. New cops.

The Mod Squad. Hippie cops.

Dragnet. Square cops. Make that extremely square cops.

Hawaii 5-0. Location, location, location.

The Streets of San Francisco. See Hawaii 5-0.

........................Am I forgetting anyone?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hospitalis

I work in a hospital now. In looking up pictures of hospitals online today, I found this photo and accompanying story about a freaky restaurant in Latvia, started by a doctor, with a "hospital" theme. Latvia does seem like the kind of place where people might be a bit quirky:

"A BIZARRE hospital-themed restaurant in Latvia is serving food resembling body parts with surgical utensils.

"Decked out in a sterile, modern medical environment and boasting scantily clad nurses, the Hospitalis in Riga serves hearty Latvian dishes and a macabre cake topped with realistic-looking body parts such as fingers, noses and tongues.

"Served on gurneys and operating tables, the restaurant provides diners with cutlery such as syringes, tweezers and scalpels to devour their meals.

"Owned by a group of local doctors, Hospitalis also has a trendy cocktail bar where bartenders in white lab coats mix drinks into beakers and test tubes. Guests are treated to disturbing dinner entertainment including morbid tunes on violins, while deranged patients are escorted through the restaurant in straightjackets and wheelchairs."

You can find more photos at this link: http://www.news.com.au/humans-on-the-menu-at-hospital-restaurant/story-0-1111119149223

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

True Love

From the Washington Post:

Which was more astonishing about Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston's big announcement on Wednesday:

  • That the most famous teenage parents in America were engaged again, after a year of scorched-earth public bitterness?

  • Or that Sarah Palin reportedly only learned about it from Us Weekly?

    The high school sweethearts, who broke up a few months after the December 2008 birth of their son, Tripp, were interviewed by Us on Saturday in Anchorage, where Bristol Palin now lives. They said they bonded anew when they met three months ago to work out a custody plan.

    "I really thought we were over," Johnston told the magazine. But feelings changed when they went for a walk with their son. Nothing romantic happened then, she told Us -- but later, he texted her saying that he missed her and wanted her back. "I was in shock," she says.

    The 19-year-old mom said that her own mother -- who traded insults with her grandson's father in the national media over the past year, as he posed for Playgirl and dished dirt about the family -- didn't yet know they were planning a wedding: "It is intimidating and scary just to think about what her reaction is going to be."

    But if Sarah Palin was truly left in the dark about this ... why? Melanie Bromley, the Us reporter who interviewed the couple, speculates that Bristol Palin wanted "to be in control" of the story. "I got the impression that Sarah had laid down the rules for Bristol -- that if she's back together with Levi, [Sarah] wants him to finish his education, and get a job. But she wants to be with Levi now."

    By telling her story "in her own words," as Bromley put it, "she's forcing her mother to hear her side of the story without interruption."

    Well, zing! Some other things about that story:

    Bromley would not say whether the couple was paid for the interview (conducted at a private home rented for the occasion). A reporter from rival People magazine, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, spent the following day with Bristol and Tripp in Anchorage, for a story in this week's issue. In her interview, which Westfall says was unpaid, Palin did not reveal that she was engaged -- and Johnston declined to participate. Rex Butler, Johnston's attorney, did not return our calls.

  • Sunday, July 11, 2010

    A Journey Below the Photic Zone

    From Wikipedia:

    Deep sea fish is a term for fish that live below the photic zone of the ocean. The lanternfish is, by far, the most common deep sea fish. Other deep sea fish include the flashlight fish, cookiecutter shark, bristlemouths, anglerfish, and viperfish.

    Because the photic zone typically extends only a few hundred meters below the water, about 90% of the ocean volume is invisible to humans. The deep sea is also an extremely hostile environment, with pressures between 20 and 1,000 atmospheres (between 2 and 100 megapascals), temperatures between 3 and 10 degrees Celsius, and a lack of oxygen. Most fish that have evolved in this harsh environment are not capable of surviving in laboratory conditions, and attempts to keep them in captivity have led to their deaths. For this reason little is known about them, as there are limitations to the amount of fruitful research that can be carried out on a dead specimen and deep sea exploratory equipment is very expensive. As such, many species are known only to scientists and have therefore retained their scientific name.

    The fish of the deep sea are among the strangest and most elusive creatures on Earth. In this deep unknown lie many unusual creatures we still have yet to study. Since many of these fish live in regions where there is no natural illumination, they cannot rely solely on their eyesight for locating prey and mates and avoiding predators; deep sea fish have evolved appropriately to the extreme sub-photic region in which they live. Many deep sea fish are bioluminescent, with extremely large eyes adapted to the dark. Some have long feelers to help them locate prey or attract mates in the pitch black of the deep ocean. The deep sea angler fish in particular has a long fishing-rod-like adaptation protruding from its face, on the end of which is a bioluminescent piece of skin that wriggles like a worm to lure its prey. The lifecycle of deep sea fish can be exclusively deep water although some species are born in shallower water and sink on becoming adults.

    Due to the poor level of photosynthetic light reaching deep sea environments, most fish need to rely on organic matter sinking from higher levels, or, in rare cases, hydrothermal vents for nutrients. This makes the deep sea much poorer in productivity than shallower regions. Consequently many species of deep sea fish are noticeably smaller and have larger mouths and guts than those living at shallower depths. It has also been found that the deeper a fish lives, the more jelly-like its flesh and the more minimal its bone structure. This makes them slower and less agile than surface fish.

    Sampling via deep trawling indicates that lanternfish account for as much as 65% of all deep sea fish biomass.[1] Indeed, lanternfish are among the most widely distributed, populous, and diverse of all vertebrates, playing an important ecological role as prey for larger organisms. With an estimated global biomass of 550 - 660 million metric tonnes, several times the entire world fisheries catch, lanternfish also account for much of the biomass responsible for the deep scattering layer of the world's oceans. In the Southern Ocean, Myctophids provide an alternative food resource to krill for predators such as squid and the King Penguin. Although plentiful and prolific, currently only a few commercial lanternfish fisheries exist: These include limited operations off South Africa, in the sub-Antarctic, and in the Gulf of Oman.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Candwich

    Ewwwwwwwwwwww!:

    Money in the Bank? No, Sandwich in a Can

    DENVER — Is putting a sandwich in a can and calling it a “Candwich” the next can’t-miss billion-dollar idea?

    Even if it is, investors in Utah who put $145 million in the hands of a money manager named Travis L. Wright will still have thinner wallets. A lawsuit by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission says that Mr. Wright promised returns of up to 24 percent on real estate investments, but that he put the money instead into Candwich development and other equally untried ideas.

    Along with sales of canned sandwiches — Pepperoni Pizza Pocket and French Toast in a can were planned — Mr. Wright’s companies, under the banner of Waterford Funding, also invested in a company selling rose petals printed with greeting card sentiments and another selling watches over the Internet.

    Utah has long endured a reputation as a place where many people are naïve or trusting to the point of losing their shirts. And the erosion of retirement savings in the recession has only compounded the problem, said Michael E. Hines, the director of enforcement at the Utah Division of Securities.

    “A lot of 401(k)s have become 201(k)s,” Mr. Hines said.

    Some scammers do not even need expensive-looking offices as stage sets. About five years ago, for example, a scheme promising a $50 million payout for a $5,000 investment raked in about $144 million nationally. In Utah, the group successfully sought investors by putting fliers on car windshields. Much of the money ended up in Latvia, Mr. Hines said.

    Mr. Wright, who is 47 and lives in Draper, Utah, according to the suit, did not return telephone calls. Several listings for Waterford Funding were disconnected or not in service.

    Meanwhile, the Candwich concept perseveres. The president of Mark One Foods, Mark Kirkland, who said he patented the idea of putting solid food in a beverage container with the slogan, “Quick & Tasty, Ready to Eat,” said Mr. Wright promised full financial backing for Candwich production that never really materialized even as investors did. He said he believed that canned sandwiches would ultimately sell, and hoped to go into production later this year.

    The shelf life of a Candwich is excellent, Mr. Kirkland said.

    Deep Cover

    What a crazy story!:

    “Act naturally,” the Russians tell their espionage trainees before dispatching them to America.

    Boy, did she.

    Anna Chapman cut a wide swath in New York even before her arrest on charges of spying for Mother Russia, judging by the sultry shots and videos suddenly popping up everywhere, starting with her own Facebook page.

    Now, thanks to her penchant for seductive poses, she’s an international star. You’d hardly know her real pose, according to U.S. officials, was deadly serious: seducing government officials and businessmen into providing state secrets.

    That would be treason for an American, punishable by death. Chapman, a Russian, faces only five years in prison for her espionage-related charges.

    Even the lurid New York Post, though, caught the whiff of danger in Chapman's gambit.

    “Spy ring’s ‘femme fatale’” the tabloid's front page screamed. “Red hot beauty snared in Russian ‘espionage’ shock.”

    “The Soho Spy,” ABC News called her. “Stunning Anna Chapman Accused in Russia Spy Ring.”

    Stunning indeed. The San Francisco Chronicle's Web site ran a headline a carny barker would approve of: “Check Out Alleged Russian Spy Anna Chapman's Facebook Glamor Shots.”

    Of course, she was already on You Tube. A dozen videos appeared seemingly out of nowhere, some of them short and shaky jobs apparently shot by anonymous “friends.”

    But in another, professional video, whose origin is still unclear, Chapman gives an interview in Russian to an unidentified journalist. In it, she talks about how much easier it is to make business connections in New York than Moscow.

    “It’s very easy here,” she says.

    Her profile on LinkedIn, the social and business networking site, was less lurid but no less seductive.

    She lists herself as the chief executive officer of PropertyFinder Ltd., a Manhattan real estate firm.

    “Love launching innovative high-tech start-ups and building passionate teams to bring value into market!” she writes, under a professional-looking photo only slightly less lurid than the New York Post’s.

    As the Chronicle urged, people were no doubt checking out Chapman's photos in droves -- the clicks for the New York Post’s alone were mounting hourly by the hundreds.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    Oh, Linds

    She's like the George Bush of starlets. Remember how we all knew ahead of time that Dubya would screw up....but he screwed up waaaay more than any of us could have even imagined??

    Who else would even think to do this except Linds??? It's so crazy. Side note: I do like the colored airbrushing effect.

    From the Huffington Post:

    "Lindsay Lohan took to Twitter on Wednesday to explain why she had "F*** U" stenciled on her middle fingernail when she appeared in court Monday and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. She meant no contempt for the court, she said, but had just forgotten to remove the explicit manicure after getting it as a joke with friends"

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    We All Knew It Would End Like This

    From TMZ:

    Judge Marsha Revel sentenced LiLo after an incredulous prosecutor, Danette Meyers, told the judge that Lohan has been thumbing her nose at the court.

    The evidence was loud and clear today -- Lindsay violated probation by failing to attend her alcohol ed classes based on the schedule set by the judge. There were lots of excuses, but ultimately they didn't fly.

    The judge said there was a pattern of violations since Lindsay was placed on probation in 2007 following her plea bargain in her DUI case.

    Lindsay broke down as she addressed the court, telling the judge, "I did the best I could."

    Lindsay dissolved into tears when the judge imposed the sentence.

    Lohan must surrender on July 20 in Judge Revel's court.

    UPDATE: Sheriff's spokesperson Steve Whitmore just explained ... generally, a female inmate in Lindsay's situation only serves 25% of their sentence ... which means LiLo will most likely spend around 23 days behind bars.

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Ken

    Guy and I went to see Toy Story 3 yesterday. We made the mistake of seeing it in 3-D...totally not necessary for a Pixar movie, since they are awesome and don't really need it! It also made it darker and harder to see. Other than that, the movie was great. They introduced a lot of amazing new toys including Ken, who stole the show.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010

    Amy Doll

    Amy Winehouse Removing "Blake" Tattoo

    One of my favorite crazy celebrities is making a move in the right direction. It was an ugly tattoo anyway, Ames!:

    Amy Winehouse has started making plans to remove a tattoo dedicated to ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, according to a report.

    The singer currently has Blake's name inked on her right breast but has been using the internet to research laser removal clinics, the Daily Star claims.

    It is thought that the 26-year-old was spurred into action after new lover Reg Traviss told her that he was unhappy about the marking.

    Sources close to Winehouse have revealed that she is feeling nervous about the pain she might suffer due to the removal procedure. One insider said: "It could take about 15 laser treatments to remove. It could even leave scars or melt her boob implant."

    The star ended her relationship with Fielder-Civil earlier this year.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    1001 Supervillain Quips

    I forgot how exhausting it is to start a new job! I have had an intense couple of days. I think I'll get used to it, but the learning curve is kind of taking it out of me right now.

    Anyway, in the interest of doing an easy and quick post, here is a cute Mitchell & Webb skit we watched recently. I like the conceit that James Bond and his nemesis both have behind-the-scenes copywriters coming up with their witty one-liners.

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    The Fat Free Cream Cheese of Doom


    It's my second-to-last-day of work--or I should say "work" because, seriously.

    The only slightly work-related thing I've done all day is re-label the "Petty Cash" folder so that it now reads "Pretty Cash."

    Anyway, it seemed like a good time to finally document the insane hoarding of my former boss by scanning this little item that she's kept in the fridge since 2007. Actually, since before 2007--that's just when it expired. I put it back in the fridge when I was done scanning it.

    After that time when I threw away a plastic bottle of water she'd had in there for months (not a new bottle, mind you--a refilled one) because it was getting in the way and because I've never seen her drink water, I found out the hard way to never throw away any of her stuff, not ever, not even when it's expired (as she explained to me) because "it might still be good."

    When I protested that I'd never seen her drink water, she said, "I don't. But I always keep cold water on hand, just in case. I do it at home too." When I asked, "Just in case of what?" she said, "In case someone needs cold water."

    At which point I said (silently), "Okay, Crazy" and let the baby have her way.

    In case you are thinking: Maybe it was your cream cheese and you just forgot about it!, the answer to that is, no it's not because I would never eat "fat free cream cheese" because that's just stupid. Like buying "fat free half & half" (another product my former boss enjoys).

    Doodle



    This is a picture I drew just now while on the phone with Puget Sound Energy, cancelling my account. The new apartment has an electric oven, not gas like the old place.

    Horoscope


    My Rob Breszny horoscope this week is extremely apt!

    GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Congrats, Gemini! You have not only weathered your recent phase of relentless novelty; you've thrived on the adjustments it demanded of you. I am hereby awarding you with the rare and prestigious title of Change-Lover, which I only bestow upon one of the signs of the zodiac every four years or so. So what's next on the schedule? The shock of the new will soon subside, giving you a chance to more fully integrate the fresh approaches you've been adopting. I suggest you relax your hyper-vigilance and slip into a slower, smoother, more reflective groove.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Best Worst Movie

    Guy and I saw this documentary last night and it was great! And hilarious. I highly recommend seeing it, but if you possibly can, watch Troll 2 first. (And Troll 2 truly is a strangely watchable bad movie that really delivers.)

    We saw this movie at Central Cinemas, which offers food, wine/beer, and table service. And the food was excellent! I had a goat cheese artichoke pizza while Guy had the meat pizza.

    Here's the description of the movie from the official website:

    "Best Worst Movie is the acclaimed feature length documentary that takes us on an off-beat journey into the undisputed worst movie in cinematic history: Troll 2.

    "In 1989, when an Italian filmmaker and unwitting Utah actors shot the ultra-low budget horror film, Troll 2, they had no idea that twenty years later they would be celebrated worldwide for their legendary ineptitude.

    "Two decades later, the film’s now-grown-up child star (Michael Paul Stephenson) unravels the improbable, heartfelt story of the Alabama dentist-turned-cult movie icon and the Italian filmmaker who come to terms with this genuine, internationally revered cinematic failure.

    "Is Troll 2 really the worst movie ever made as claimed by IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes? Or is Troll 2, as some would claim, a misunderstood masterpiece that never fails to entertain… a work of genius? Twenty years after Troll 2 was made, the feature length documentary BEST WORST MOVIE explores the Troll 2 phenomenon through the personal story of the cast of characters that took part in its creation and why it is celebrated by fans worldwide.

    "In the summer of 1989, Italian director Claudio Fragrasso cast small-town dentist Dr. George Hardy and a group of unwitting Utah actors in an ultra-low budget horror film, which eventually became the undisputed Worst Movie in History. Soon after Troll 2’s initial release, Dr. Hardy decided he was better suited battling tooth decay than goblins. He retired from acting and returned to dentistry in his hometown of Alabama unaware of the legions of fans that would one day recognize him as a cult movie luminary.

    "Nearly 20 years later, Troll 2 has suddenly become “awfully” popular. A corn-on-the-cob sex scene, pudgy-potato-sack clad midgets, and a peculiar plot about evil vegetarian goblins attempting to transform a young boy’s family into edible plants is unintentionally hilarious, yet strangely captivating and highly entertaining.

    "Dr. Hardy finds his days of drilling cavities are met by nights of signing hundreds of autographs at record-setting revival screenings throughout the world. Unlikely byproducts celebrating the BEST WORST MOVIE include fan sites, music videos, dress-up dinner parties and even homage in one of the most successful video games, Sony PlayStation’s Guitar Hero 2.

    "But what does the director of Troll 2, Claudio Fragasso, think about his film becoming “awfully” popular? Meet cast & crew and learn how it feels to fail miserably and years later be applauded for it. Best Worst Movie is story of one of cinema’s greatest tragedies… or triumph’s –Troll 2. The result is a hilarious and tender off-beat journey and a genuine homage to lovers of bad movies and the people that create them."