Monday, August 19, 2013

gone native

It just rained for five minutes, and I was utterly shocked, because it's not supposed to rain until October at the earliest.

Monday, October 29, 2012

weather woes

The pros of California weather: long summers, lots of sun, warm days that aren't humid, mild winters

The cons of California weather: no snow days, no days off for hurricanes (reading all the updates on Hurricane Sandy is making me oddly envious), and you become a complete wimp when it comes to dealing with bad weather whenever you travel

Saturday, October 13, 2012

california food

We're having a few people over tonight for a simple night in: drinks, food, and video games. Nothing complicated. Except that I'm counting calories, Boyfriend is avoiding carbs, one person doesn't eat mammals, two people are vegetarian, and one of the vegetarians is also avoiding all gluten and sweets. So instead of ordering pizza, we're making four kinds of burgers (beef, chicken, chicken-stuffed beef, and veggie) on three kinds of buns (normal, gluten-free, and English muffin). We've turned into a sitcom about California.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

death taxes and cable

Death will come eventually, and we all have to come to terms with that. I actually don't really mind paying taxes. I think of it as kind of like paying for someone else to deal with a lot of problems I wouldn't want to deal with or know how to deal with. Life has been kind, and it seems fair.

However, I will never stop feeling indignant, injured, and insulted by American cable providers: the mulish service, the random price hikes, and in this case, right as the fall season is kicking into high gear, the sudden disappearance of most of my channels, replaced by a screen saying that I now have the wrong box.

If I call them, I'll probably have to wait on hold, talk to someone who will try to sell me more channels (god, I hate those conversations), and then wait around until I can get my channels back somehow (and probably miss work to do so), and miss a bunch of shows. And they'll still charge me for the missing days and keep creeping the price up later.

I've seen more and more of my friends cutting the cord and finding other services like Hulu+, iTunes, Netflix, and Google Play to be sufficient. I suppose it might require a some more legwork and wires, without the loveliness of TiVo, but I'm starting to think it might be worth it, if only to get out of this frustrating cycle of cable providers sucking every last bit out of what customers they have left...

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Boyfriend and I had dinner up in the city with my sister and cousin last night. We had Korean barbecue, then went to a Chinese snack and dessert place afterwards. We were amused by the menu, and tried to figure out what some of the more outlandish items were, using a combination of the English names, a few recognizable Chinese characters here and there (although this was not so helpful, since we can read very little Chinese), and trying to figure out if the English was an attempt at a direct translation from the Chinese.
Having grown up eating my mom's Chinese cooking, I'm accustomed to pretty "normal" dishes having misleading names. Pockmarked woman tofu, little dragon buns, and lion's heads contain nothing more exotic than pork. Dishes with ingredients that are more of an acquired taste are often given very straightforward names, like stinky tofu or bitter melon.

When we saw "snow frog" on the dessert menu last night, mixed in among the ice cream, sweet tofu, and tapioca, we thought it was just a colorful description of some kind of pastry or other confection, because what else would you pair with coconut milk or shaved ice? Not anything to do with frogs, right?

We asked the waiter, and he got a bit flustered trying to explain it, and mumbled something that sounded like "oval," but it was hard to hear him. He added that snow frog is good for the skin and scuttled away.

Enter all of our smartphones for a quick Google-fest.

Oh my god. He must have said "ovaries." Wikipedia says that snow frog is "dried fatty tissue surrounding the fallopian tubes of true frogs." It is categorized as a Chinese pastry.

Wow. I grew up eating a lot of things that my non-Chinese friends didn't eat, but frog fallopian fat seems a bit extreme. Especially for dessert.

Friday, November 4, 2011

i dream of germans

Or Germanic people.

I think it's rather funny that after moving away from Switzerland over three years ago, I still had this dream last night that reveals my subconscious impression of the Germanic approach to laws and law enforcement.

I dreamed that Boyfriend and I had rented a large, white Econoline van (no idea why) and were driving around in a small European town. We got pulled over by the police, who turned out to be German-speaking. Based on the accent, I'm guessing that we were somewhere in Austria. He was not pleased about something, and was speaking very quickly, and I struggled to understand what he was saying.

In the mean time, Boyfriend wandered off and started shopping for shoes.

The police called our car rental agency, who quickly sent a man out. The rental agent and the police officer then proceeded to disassemble the cover and cap for the gas tank, still yelling at me in German.

Boyfriend continued shopping for shoes. (What does this say about what my subconscious thinks about Boyfriend?)

I finally figured out what the policeman and the rental agent were upset about. Apparently, for this particular van in Austria, you could only drive it with the gas cap and lid open. The cap and lid were reserved for high-speed situations. And they decided to enforce it by taking the car apart to prevent us from driving with it closed any more. They even handed me all the parts afterwards. I am pretty sure the rental agency was then going to charge us for damage done to the car (by the agent, mind you), and the cop was probably going to write us a ticket for driving with the gas cap on.

Yes, this was something that my dreaming mind made up, but the fact that it didn't seem strange at all shows you how odd some of the rules are in Germanic countries and how scrupulously they enforce them.

And yes, I have been giving Boyfriend grief about his shoe shopping during the crisis.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


It has probably been over 20 years since the last time I was in L.A., and it was not the place I remembered, probably due in large part to the fact that my earlier visits were with family, and revolved around hanging out at my uncle's house and going on long road trips in the minivan to various national parks.

That is not what L.A. is like. At all.

We flew into Long Beach instead of LAX, which was an amusing mistake. Long Beach is basically a small trailer park with runways. The airport employees don't seem to be aware that they are working at the airport, which can be problematic when you're trying to check a bag or get through security.

From what we could tell at the hotel and when we went out in the city, L.A. is kind of like Vegas, but with no gambling and more plastic surgery. We saw a girl in thigh high boots who apparently decided that the height of her boots negated the need for pants. We saw a middle-aged gentleman in a sequined shirt who has had so much done to his face that we were afraid it would fall off at any moment. We saw enough SUVs to use up all the oil in Kuwait.

On the other hand, we also saw dolphins and whales swimming around right next to our hotel. That was pretty awesome.

Oh, and they also hired a falconer and his falcons to keep the seagulls away. Only in L.A. could a dude with a leather glove and a bird find full-time employment at a fancy resort.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

buy the way

One of the things I love doing when visiting foreign countries is to go to the local mall and the local grocery store to see what odd products they have to offer their customers.

I am quite sure that foreign visitors to the U.S. enjoy doing the same thing.

An American friend who lives in Switzerland was in town for a couple of days a few weeks ago, and we went on the requisite "stock up on things that are cheaper or only available in America" trip to the mall, Target, and Safeway. I took a few pictures of some of the great things you can buy in our wonderful country.

Double Stuf Oreos weren't fattening enough, so they now make Triple Double Oreos, which have three cookies and two layers of Double Stuf creme.

In case you wanted to wash your hair with placenta shampoo, but were afraid your hair would be dry afterwards, have no fear, there is also placenta conditioner
Available at Target.

Old Spice comes in "Matterhorn" and "Swagger." 
How can you possibly choose??

I had no idea Axe was so popular that it now requires multiple scents. 
(Does anyone actually use Axe?)

Maybe the people who shop here use Axe. 
For all your armor needs, Armor-Geddon occupies an entire store in the mall.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

best and brightest

Oh, Silicon Valley, you have an endless supply of interesting (read: weird) people. 

Today, I was driving home from work, and even though it was almost 7 p.m., it was still almost 90 degrees outside. I looked over and saw a guy in the bike lane, also going home from work. He was carrying the laptop backpack that every person at my company has, so I knew that he was One of Us. Kudos to anyone who is willing to bike to and from work in this heat, but super kudos to this guy, who was doing it on a unicycle. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


One of my favorite things about having international friends (other than the interesting perspectives and cultural exchange, etc., etc., etc.) is the hilarious little quirks of language that emerge in conversation. I will be the first to admit that their English is far better than any foreign language that I speak, and that I have been known to make my own embarrassing comments in both English and other languages.

OK, disclaimers aside, one of the funniest moments from our trip to Zurich happened when we went out to dinner with a group of people, and at the end, a few of them were trying to open little individual bottles of kirsch. The bottles proved to be very difficult to open, and the guys were pulling and pulling at the corks, trying to get them out.

Our German friend finally suggested, "Just wank it! Wank it off!"

(Mostly unrelated note: there is a town in Switzerland called Wankdorf. "Dorf" in Switzerland is the equivalent of "town" in English.)