Sunday, March 27, 2005

Chocolate Almond Midnight, and Other Blissful Things

Chocolate Almond Midnight After doing Easter things with our respective families, Antonia and I met up in San Francisco to hear They Might Be Giants playing in the Borders at Union Square. Ordinarily, I would probably write a lot more about that, but I don't really have a whole lot to say. It was short, and we couldn't see much of anything from where we were. Good music of course. But the real thing to blog about was going to the Millenium Restaurant afterwards (Antonia's favorite, but I'd never been to it).

I would go vegan in an instant if I could eat at the Millenium every day. The food there is absolutely incredible. I had Charmoula Spiced Grilled Tempeh, which doesn't photograph very well I guess, but was excellent. I can't remember the last time I spent so long just eating -- you just have to go slowly and mindfully through the entire meal so as not to miss a single tiny flavor anywhere. And then dessert... wow. The Chocolate Almond Midnight is really just the queen of all desserts ever anywhere. If you get a bite just of the white chocolate mousse on the top, it feels like your tongue is flying. After we finished it, we just sat in complete, blissful silence for a few minutes before we were able to rouse ourselves into anything so mundane as getting up and paying the bill, or even talking.

And as if that all wasn't enough, somewhere in the middle of all the generic background jazz we got to hear Ella Fitzgerald singing Blue Skies. That is a beautiful recording that I think should really be appreciated in the same was as the Millenium's food: eyes closed, letting every sensation just drip through you. Which, of course, is precisely what we did. Life just doesn't get a whole lot better than that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Cousin Central

Cristie and Paul came up last night and we all went to Swing Central together. I've been meaning to start doing more swing dancing lately, so it was fun to do that and see them both. They took the drop-in beginning class and I watched Kevin and Carla's intermediate lesson. I'm definitely thining about signing up for the next series when it starts. Lots of cool stuff to learn there.

One odd thing about the dance was that during the whole time (except the lessons) there was a projector showing videos of the U.S. Open competition on the wall, without sound. A couple times, everyone even stopped dancing entirely to watch a particular couple or group. But the sound was off, of course, because of the music that was playing for us to dance to. So it was absolutely bizarre to watch choreographies to the wrong music. Sometimes things would seem to line up in phrases and almost work, which in a way was almost more confusing, because then it just seemed like a not-so-good choreography, rather than something that was clearly mismatched. Weird.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Portland Weekend

I'm back! And I had a wonderful time this weekend with my lovely sister. I got to see a bit of PSU, including the lab where Lacey sorts through gazillions of little bits of shells, and identifies bones from various animals. I also learned there that cow pelvises make excellent masks (or would, if there were a good way to keep them on).

On Saturday night we went to the Portland Megaband contra dance, which was absolutely incredible, so I'm going to gush about it a lot. In a lot of ways, the Megaband is really the antithesis of what I think of as a good contra dance band. I mean, they have a conductor for goodness' sake. I thought that was hilarious. But it was an absolute kick to dance to. For one thing, they can build tension like nobody's business. They can start out small and just keep adding and adding instruments, and each time you think they've hit a climax, they find something else to throw into the mix to intensify it even more. Wow. Plus, with such a huge selection of instruments, they could do random little things like the piccolo + snare drum march in the middle of one of the dances. That was amusing.

The dance was in PSU's ballroom, which is quite nice and very big. And it was just packed with dancers. It was amazing. And lots of very good dancers as well. I very much enjoyed every single dance I did. Oh, and I had a couple of wonderful waltzes with Lacey. In spite of the crowds, we managed to steer into enough space for redowas and pivots and turns and everything. And the waltzes they played were quite nice. They were both probably my favorite dances in a long time.

Lacey treated me to some yummy, homemade carrot-cranberry muffins (with forgotten butter, but we worked that out) and we made carrot juice on Saturday, which turned out very nice. Sunday afternoon we made a big bowl of fresh guacamole which we pretty much just devoured for lunch. Also on the subject of munchies, we visited the New Seasons Market, which is sort of a Whole Foods ++. They had a bunch of free samples of different kinds of curry that were all really good. And we noticed that at their deli, in place of plastic silverware, they had all-natural, organic, biodegradable, gluten-free utensils. Should have gotten a picture of that.

Anyway, it was all much fun, and I was happy to spend some time with Lacey for a couple of days. Good weekend.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Important In Portland

I'm flying up to see Lacey for the weekend. Yay for sister-visits! Hopefully we'll even get to hear the Portland Megaband at the contra dance. Though by the looks of it, we could probably be quite a ways from the dance and still hear them. Anyway, I'm off! Flap, flap, flap, flap, flap....

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Once again, Richard Matthews has got me completely impressed, this time with his reading of The Patient's Eyes, by David Pirie. Matthews has a very nice English accent, but he does the majority of this book in a Scottish accent, since it is told in the first person by a Scotsman. That alone is impressive, since it's one thing to do bit parts in various accents and quite another to do an entire book in something other than your own voice. And of course, all the different characters (even all the different Scottish characters) have easily distinguishable voices. One scene was particularly neat, where there was a conversation between two Scotsmen, an Englishman, and a Spaniard. It was really hard to believe all those voices came from one person. Another part I liked was a brief passage where a letter from an American was being read in an American accent. This was interesting because I generally don't think of American as being an actual accent (it's too "normal" to me). But I heard it entirely differently, since I was already so focused on all the other vocal styles. Really fascinating.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Stone River

Stone River Thanks to Biz, I recently found out about a sculpture at Stanford by Andy Goldsworthy. Antonia and I were traipsing around campus this afternoon so we went out to look for it. It's right by the Cantor Arts Center, but easy to miss because it's sunk into the ground, though you can see it if you go up the steps to the museum and then turn around.

The wall is just a few feet high, and it's made of stones from Stanford buildings that were damaged in the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes. The ends trail off into the ground as though the whole wall were growing out of the earth. It's only a few years old now, but the idea I think is to gradually let all the plants come back around it naturally, so it looks even more like an integral part of the land. Already a lot of the stones have moss or other small plants growing in their nooks. There's even a door for the fairies to come through. We walked all the way along it on one side of the wall, then back on the other, tracing every curve as though walking a labyrinth.

I also watched Rivers and Tides a few days ago, which is a documentary about Andy Goldsworthy. I am thoroughly hooked on his art now. There's something very profound and beautiful about how it all feels so natural, and yet is so clearly art as well. Really wonderful.

Friday, March 04, 2005

New Month's Resolution

I'm doing an experiment this month, regarding my sugar intake. I'm going to stop eating dessert at work lunches, and stop eating sugary afternoon snacks. Outside of work, this sort of stuff will still be fair game, but this should cut out the bulk of my non-healthy food intake without making me go entirely cold turkey. The main reason I'm doing this I think is because my sweet tooth has a fairly dominant personality, and once in a while needs to be reminded who's boss. Recently I've been finding myself eating sugary snacks even when I didn't really want or need them, so I'm just going to try out some other habits for a while. After a month, I'll see if I feel any different as a result, and decide how to continue.

This all got me thinking about the more general idea of resolutions. Making new year's resolutions is a pretty well known concept, but I think that getting in the habit of making new month's resolutions could be even more effective. It's less intimidating to think of doing something for a month rather than for a year, and you can focus on it more intensely. It will help you work on self-improvement throughout the year (if you're the type to forget your new year's resolutions by February). It allows for more experimentation/turnover with different things you want to add to your life.

I can think of lots of ways I could use a habit like this in my life, aside from the current diet issue. For instance, one month I might decide to draw something every day. I'd love to start drawing again but it's hard to do it much when I'm not in practice. After a month of making myself do a little bit every day (whether I "feel like it" or not) I'd be more in practice, and I'd be comfortable with just drawing more in general, even if I don't continue to do so every single day. And I'd be more comfortable taking time away from, say, music to spend on this, if I know it's just this month's focus and I'll have more time for music later. Similarly with other possible resolutions (e.g. being nicer to people, keeping your home cleaner, meditating every day, or whatever else people resolve to do) focusing on it for a month will help you determine how to incorporate it into your life on a more permanent basis.

I don't generally make/keep new year's resolutions (except this one) but I could probably get into the monthly thing more. We'll see.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Funny Gym

Dani was at the library tonight, so I was playing with her in between doing things like reinstalling OS 9 on ancient iMacs. Somehow or other, the subject of my weight came up, so I was joking that I only weigh one gram (since I'm exactly one Graham). Dani started to ask me if I exercise, and then seemed to have a bright idea about something.

Dani: Do you go to the Funny Gym?
Me: I don't think so. What's the Funny Gym?
Dani: You know. That's where they teach you to be funny and to be a good friend to kids and stuff.
Me: No, it sounds like fun, but I'm afraid I've never been there.
Dani (very insistent): But you have! That's why you're so good at it!


Some day I expect Dani will be a teenager and discover all the cute stories I've written about her here and be absolutely mortified. Oh well. She'll live. :-)