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Vegging Out [Day 3]

12 Sep

From September 10 through October 10, I plan to be a vegetarian. Just as the dates are almost completely arbitrary, so are my reasons.

I’ve written about my quasi-vegetarianism, or “vaguetarianism,” in the past. I haven’t changed my stance on meat since that entry, but after having a few conversations with vegetarians, I decided it would be interesting to join them for a month.

For one, I think I’ll become more conscious about my food choices when I eat out. Second, it’s an incentive for me to cook more since most vegetarian things I get at restaurants can be made at home, and at a cheaper cost. Third, I’ll take my overall nutrition into account more often, now that I have to be more conscientious of where I’ll get my iron, protein, etc.

But honestly, the biggest factor in the decision was the first one. The interest in vegetarianism became a commitment (albeit only a month-long one) shortly after I ate a big cheesesteak at Vinnie’s. A month-long form of dietary penance for the quarter-cow I ate, I suppose.

My friend Laura suggested I blog about whatever physical/mental changes I have during this month, which I think could be a valuable exercise. I’ll admit that I don’t foresee any big disruptions to my lifestyle. All it means is no more occasional mushroom burger at Bongo Burger, no more bimonthly-ish chicken burritos, no more hunting wildlife on the weekends. This is doable.

This is doable.

But maybe I don’t have to try and convince myself. In the past few days, I have had corn chowder, vegetarian tacos, chocolate chip cookies, a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, among other things. If this is penance, then I haven’t quite had feelings of contrition yet.

Today I made ratatouille.

This is not ratatouille. This is the most grotesque cutting board I have ever seen in my life. We inherited it from the previous tenants.
It has become the designated hot plate mat.

Fresh out of the oven!

You can’t really go wrong with nice veggies, tomatoes, romano cheese, and mushrooms. I added some sun dried tomatoes, which in retrospect was a very wise decision.

I have some theories as to why vegetarian foods weren’t so popular in the recent past, but I’ll share those another time.

Antediluvian Cell Phone Pics

5 Sep

Signs of the times:

Cool limestone formation:

North Berkeley: (1) detour with Harmony, (2) a small dog sighting

There’s a journal for everyone:

Well, whaddya know:

Housewarming flowers from Dit:


18 Aug

Portrait of Ms. P

26 Jul

My cousin’s daughter is an amazingly talented artist. Here she is, busy at work, and sucking on her second or third lollipop of the day:

Today, within 5 minutes, she drew this picture of me:

Isn’t this awesome? She’s only 6. I’m enormously proud of her.

Although, erm, I will admit that the glow slightly faded after I noticed a slight resemblance to a certain celebrity.

Freeing Accumulated Thoughts

30 Jun

At least in regards to this blog, I have found that my principle reason for writing is to free my accumulated thoughts, to clear my mental constipation. I do not want to pursue this metaphor any further, except to note briefly that the following will be a disconnected mess:


Glenn Gould’s 1981 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations was my best purchase in DC. The bonus track of the album is an interview with Gould, which includes a side-by-side comparison of his 1955 and 1981 recordings of the opening aria. The 1981 version is roughly twice as long, and it lacks the finesse of the 1955 version. But Gould noted that the 1955 version is unrecognizable to him.

The 1981 version had soul. It was slower, to be sure. But it was also more delicate, more pained, and more beautiful. Now I can’t listen to any other interpretation without comparing it to this one. I also can’t play Bach exactly as I did before.

Anyway, I hope I’m not making his performance seem empyrean or anything. There’s just something to be said about soul, especially as so many musicians now prefer brief bursts of bravura over patient and sincere exploration. That characterization applies to a lot of things in life, actually.

Los Angeles

I was unfair to Los Angeles, when I dismissively characterized it as an “ocean’s garbled vomit on the shore.” (Those lyrics, by the way, were written by an Oregonian!)

In fact, Los Angeles is a rather nice place. But it is a nice place that has been stretched out, so all its points of interest are far apart from each other. This can make a person loath to explore Los Angeles.

Recently, I realized that Southern California is familiar, but unknown to me. If you have any suggestions on how I can better understand my home of seventeen years (off an on), please leave a comment. Suggestions on places to explore would be good.


I’m moving back to Berkeley for more school. I don’t really know what this “looks like” since I have a profound inability to think past what’s coming beyond my next meal. I tried to make a tentative schedule, but it became far too tentative when different courses were canceled or rescheduled. Also, I have been mulling over how I can convince my advisor that a poetry seminar with Robert Hass would be relevant to my studies …


Actually, all the stuff I wrote about Los Angeles and Berkeley was sort of filler (though still true) because piano is still on my mind. I just wanted to

  • Thank my mom for announcing to me on my 6th birthday that I would be learning to play the piano, whether I liked it or not (I did not),
    • Because I cannot imagine what how I would have appreciated music otherwise, or how else I might have gotten out of certain slumps.
  • Say thanks also to piano.

Someday, They’ll Have This Down to a Science

9 May

Doing laundry can be distressing, given that there are so many factors in a particular load. Temperature, color, speed, fabric, weight. It’s a complex calculus.

In today’s laundry episode, I have lost a sock as well as somehow shrunk and created a hole in a sweater. Some thoughts —

In the year 2050, doing laundry will be revolutionized. After work, we will go through mechanized areas reminiscent of car washes (NB: by this time, cars will cease to exist, having been replaced by eco-friendly hovercraft) for a ten meter-long wash n’ dry walk. While doing laundry will be much more frequent, it will be faster and regularized.

Is it fair that I always close my eyes and cross my fingers before pressing ‘start’ on the dryer? Or that each time I open the door after a cycle, my heart finds itself in its own dryer, tumbling and kethunking, afraid of what it will find?

Dispatches from the Capitol: Baseball and Local Natives; Food: Comfort Food (Part of a Series)

6 May

In DC, paupers can thrive as cheap — sometimes free! — events abound in this area. I also went to a Bach cantata performance, but didn’t take any pictures. All together, these events cost under $20.

I’m very excited about this Saturday, when I’ll get to listen to a presentation by Jennifer 8. Lee, a (former?) journalist known well for her writings on Chinese-American food.

On a related note, it’s been some time since I’ve last written about one of my favorite topics,* American comfort foods. I’m hoping to pick that up again, soon. In the meantime, I’m continuing my morbid fascination with KFC, revived by the recent unveiling of the Double Down.

A review of the sandwich, in the Boston Globe:

KFC’s newest offering has redefined the American sandwich landscape. The Double Down sandwich consists of two fried chicken breasts, bacon, cheese, and special sauce. “This product is so meaty,’’ reports KFC’s website with the sort of pride usually reserved for a child’s flawless piano recital, “there’s no room for a bun!’’

Maybe not, but there is room for criticism. If the American public is serious about rejecting all sensible dietary guidelines, KFC completely fails to deliver. The Double Down poses as the atomic bomb of artery-clogging, but it’s really just a grenade. Many people would have to wait years for a heart attack, even if they ate one every day.

Americans have long mastered double-, triple-, and quadruple-decker sandwiches. And yet this ostensibly innovative new sandwich features just one story — a design that is outdated and ill-suited to sate the average American gullet. And it contains merely two types of meat. Would it have killed KFC to add ground beef? Some pork? And, to wash the whole thing down a bit, a bucket of nacho cheese for dipping? If there’s one thing Americans are qualified to do, it’s judge fast-food sandwiches, and they are likely to punish KFC for not going nearly far enough. The Double Down is just a 540-calorie disappointment.

*Actually, it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything substantive, period.

Dispatches from the Capitol: Embassy Row

1 May

Onward to some photos!

My name written in Arabic at the Iraq embassy. Written in full (not pictured), it reads as “Boolina.” Tight.

Embassy of Nepal.

Listening to a performance at the Indonesian embassy.

As an aside: I have found that I’d like to improve in post-production photo editing. Is there a good equivalent to Light Room for Linux?

Dispatches from the Capitol: Library of Congress

10 Apr

Pictured: Here I am, in Book Mecca.

Not pictured: On my way there, I noticed that I had spilled some apple sauce on the crotch of my pants; it left an unfortunate stain. Just putting that out there in case some people saw me and came up with alternative theories.

Travelogue: More Straight East Coastin’ (Updated)

7 Mar

Northeastern winters are barren trees that raise their scraggly arms to the sky, clawing at brick buildings.
This is truly nearly region-wide. For stretches, Virginia can look just like Maryland, which can look just like Delaware, which can look just like Pennsylvania. As such, driving to Philly was like running on a treadmill, eyes blurred by a reddish-brown haze.

But beyond nature and within the concrete jungle, Philadelphia definitely holds its own. For one, among all the urban sprawl, wonderful murals canvas the city with vibrancy. I love this.

I can’t really speak to the food here, despite leaving the city with a gut large enough to shame a Yokozuna. I spent most of my time … and money … in Chinatown — which unlike DC’s “China” “town,” is actually legitimate. However, my guess is decent dim sum at Joy Tsin Lau and excellent Shanghai soup-filled dumplings at Sakura are not Philly trademarks. For that, one looks to the cheesesteak. I had one at a tourist hole, Pat’s, which was acceptable but also generally considered to be a sub-par cheesesteak on the greater Philadelphia cheesesteak-o-scale.

All right, I’m clearly losing my writing faculties. Quickly —

1. I left the Body Worlds exhibit with a much more profound appreciation for my brain, a clearer understanding of cancer’s effects, and my fair share of the heebie jeebies.

2. I saw the Liberty Bell, and its exhibit was interesting in that I learned how the bell was resignified to stand for liberty and thereafter co-opted by various causes. It wasn’t exactly stated in that way, though.

An unofficial Ben Franklin reenactor stood next to the building that housed the Liberty Bell. I wanted to take a photo with him, but he was too busy telling two men how he acquired his costume (shoes from a female donor, coat from Montreal, normal white shirt, etc.).

Update 1, 03/09/10:

Photos! My camera was in my office drawer this weekend. Luckily, some of the dudes on the Philly day trip are avid photographers. These are by Dan Chiang:

A bell of some significance.

Ben Franklinesque.

Independence Hall.

In line at Geno’s. I am the one closest to the camera with my back turned.

Philly cheesesteak, wiz wit (in English, Philly cheesesteak with cheese whiz and grilled onions).