Archive for January 2011
Just recently, I started reading "After Dark" by Murakami. As I’m sure many other Murakami readers have done, I looked up and listened to Curtis Fuller’s "Five Spot After Dark" to see if I knew the melody.
I did not.
This wasn’t terribly surprising, as it’s a trombone track and my very limited experience with jazz music has been mostly with big band and Sarah Vaughn. Don’t know that I could whistle any more than a few tunes off the top of my head if asked.
Lately, I’ve felt like writing more, creating something that I can see playing in my head, but I’ve been unsure of my own ability as a writer, thinker, conjurer, day-dreamer. A lot of my stories end up being so similar to one another, wrapped in the same theme, the same types of characters.
It’s time to grow and learn.
I suppose that reading other authors will help me expand my own writing abilities. Even if it doesn’t, at least I’ll enjoy the experience.
This "Photo A Day" project I’ve taken on is having its desired effect so far. I’ve been thinking about photography more often, and actively trying to "see" the world around me as a photographer. What I’ve noticed lately is I care less about the subject of the photo and more about the composition and lighting. I guess people oscillate back and forth between caring about this stuff, and at some point, I will probably care about some other aspect of the photo, but for now I’m really trying to look at light and line more than anything else.
The point of this whole project is to get me thinking more critically about my own photography. I realise that probably the only person who cares about my photography is me, so I don’t really like to talk about it too much with other people. I often don’t care about their photographic goals either. Sorry. I just don’t want to talk for 10 minutes about how your personal photographic goals and projects. I’d like to hear about them, yes, but not in excruciating detail.
To that end, I’ll spare you all the super long-winded discussion of me me me me me photography, etc etc…
I was going to do some kind of weekly wrap-up of the Everyday Project, but decided that’s boring. You want to know what I’ve been up to? Working, sleeping, seeing friends, riding my bike, and spending time with Mister when possible. Oh, and I’ve been reading a lot.
So hey, here’s a photo I recently took and really liked, along with the story behind it:
I discovered that I can get a library card from any city here in California. I immediately applied online for one and visited the library during my lunch break to pick up the card and take out a couple books. The branch that is closest to my work happens to be in a temporary spot at the moment (where the above photo was taken), so I wandered all around this rather large community centre for a while before finding it. I’d had this idea that the branch would be very small and not well-stocked, but it turns out that wasn’t true at all. A couple books caught my eye, so I checked them out with my brand-spanking new library card.
One of them is a Milan Kundera novel called "Farewell Waltz" which I started that evening and am already more than a third through. I think it’s interesting that I’m reading two books right now that have to do with pregnancies. I did not plan that; it just happened. What’s even more interesting is that they’re both about unplanned teen pregnancy.
Anyway, with all the reading I’ve been doing lately, I’ve somehow managed to watch quite a bit of television (on demand online of course). Last week, I stayed home sick one day and caught up on a bunch of my trashy teenager shows. It’s pretty weird watching everything online, but whatever works. How else am I going to keep up with what little pop culture I’m exposed to?
But yes… I’ve been devouring books. Devouring hungrily, like someone who’s never had the chance to read before. It’s my current obsession I’d say. I’ve even been seeking out time to spend reading, sometimes turning down social outings. Books are going to make me into hermit! Oh well, at least the stories will keep me company.
I need to rant a little bit about something… Let’s take this whole bit as a hypothetical just in case someone get their panties in a twist about this.
And first, a little bit of background:
I am a happily married girl who just happens to not wear a wedding ring for various reasons, but the most important reason is that I lost a ton of weight and we just haven’t bothered to buy me a new ring yet that fits my marital-status-indication finger. Just so you don’t get all up on my case, I need to now mention that I wear my wedding ring, but I wear it on my middle finger.
Oh but wait, you want to know why I haven’t resized my real wedding ring to fit on my marital-status finger? Do you know a torus is? Well, that’s what my ring looks like and it has these teeny tiny diamond chips equally spaced around the perimeter. Oh, I just did an all-powerful internet search and found this ring that looks similar, but mine has a circular cross-section. If I went about resizing it, the equally spaced diamonds wouldn’t be equally spaced anymore.
(And yes, knowing that the diamonds weren’t equally spaced would actually bother me.)
Anyway, I don’t wear my wedding ring on the correct (in America) finger, so sometimes when I befriend a boy, they get a little confused and think I’m available when I’m definitely not. In fact, Franny and I have such independent lives that some of my bikey friends don’t believe I’m married since he rarely comes out to bikey things with me. (Franny is not into biking, so I usually attend these things solo or with a bikey friend.) One of my friends told me that he thinks I just tell guys I’m married so they don’t hit on me, but it’s really just a front since he’s not met Franny yet and we’ve known each other for almost half a year.
But yes, back to what I was going to rant about in the first place:
So, hypothetically speaking, let’s say I’ve managed to meet someone that commutes with me everyday. This someone is of the male persuasion and for a while, we were texting back and forth about stuff we were both interested in such as bicycles and reading recommendations. And it all went swimmingly until I mentioned off-hand that I was married. Then he suddenly stopped texting me and started ignoring me entirely on the train. He doesn’t even acknowledge my presence. I do not exist in his world.
Just yesterday I sat across from him (directly facing him with our knees practically touching!!) and he thoroughly ignored me. What is really quite awkward is that we have mutual friends on the train and he will talk to them and continue to entirely ignore my presence.
I don’t get it. What is the problem here that he must pretend like I don’t exist? Does the fact that I’m married mean that I am no longer friend material? Does he have no interest in women, other than for sexual pursuits? Women can sometimes make for good friends, or so I hear. I actually don’t have many female friends for various reasons (but that’s a whole other post).
The next time I see him on the train, I am definitely going to do the "Oh… HELLO THERE," complete with pointed stare and expectant look, awaiting his response, and we’ll see what happens. I haven’t done anything to wrong him (that I know of) other than not being available for more than friends.
I looked back at this past week of photos and had to chuckle a little bit. So typical. All I really needed to add was a food photo and maybe a photo of the cat, and I’m all set. Really, I’m amazed at how many of my photos are landscapes though. I don’t really get excited about landscapes, but they are pretty and remind me of good times.
And off we go:
Lately, the sunsets have been gorgeous, all kinds of pinks and purples and other pretty colours. I take photos of the sky because in a few months, we’ll be back to the clear blue California summertime skies that don’t seem to make for epic sunsets.
On Friday, San Francisco had our very own bike party, and it was super fun! The route was great, taking us all over the city, and the crowd was really friendly and wonderful. I really enjoy rides where everyone is in a good mood, and not thinking about the whole cars vs bikes thing.
Saturday I saw some friends. It was a really great day and I didn’t take that many photos at all.
Sunday was spent in the east bay with an old college buddy. Most of my college friends left the bay area after school (including myself and Frannie), but he’s one of the few I keep in touch with who’s still in the area. It feels pretty good to have a friend I’ve known for so long. We’re not terrible close, but we never have a problem getting together and hanging out.
Monday was double-photo day. Thought it was an interesting pairing, both taken along the bike boulevard in Palo Alto.
So you may think I’m a technophobe, but I’m really not. I’m just lazy and don’t like owning too many things. I managed to find an ebook version of a book I’ve been wanting to read, but since I don’t have an ereader, I decided to print the ebook out in teeny tiny font, cramming as much as I could onto the page (it’s double-sided too). Anyway, it’s not that long of a book, and I’m about 2/3 of the way through so far.
Yep, Wednesday was another double-photo day. Top is the morning commute, bottom is the week’s Butterlap crew during the regroup at Fort Mason. I feel like I’ve been riding quite a bit lately. On the Map My Ride site, I signed up for the New Year’s Challenge to do an imperial century in 30 days. I completed it in about a week. My daily commute is 10-10.5 miles (I don’t count getting to the train station in SF, since it’s only about a mile), and Butterlap tacks on another 18 miles once a week. Since I also rode bike party on Friday and then ran errands all over town on Saturday, it turns out that I racked up the miles pretty quickly. What’s a girl to do? Oh right, sign up for another challenge to bike 200 miles in 30 days. Ha. Go go go!!
For the past couple months, I’ve been busily knitting up a storm on my 45 minute train ride. I made a couple items that were gifted to friends and then decided to make myself some nice handwarmers and neckwarmer from the leftover wool. I’m trying to train myself to wear wool again, which may end up being a failure (yet again). I think I try to overcome my wool sensitivity at least once a year, and I usually end up deciding it’s not worth it.
Since I’ve been knitting, I haven’t been reading. I don’t usually like to bring a very heavy bag, so I tend to carry only what’s absolutely necessary — wallet, small notebook, music, mobile, and full flat kit (I don’t mess around). I’ll usually add in the rain poncho if it looks like it may rain and extra gloves and armwarmers if need be. On top of all this, I carry either a book or a small knitting project, but usually not both.
And so, I’m back on the reading kick.
This weekend, I bought two books at the Goodwill: The Girls’ Guide to Fishing and Hunting by Melissa Bank and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.
Ok, so I admit that I don’t read classics. Neither of these books are going to turn into classics, but they do make for entertaining reading on the train when I only really get to read for 30 minutes at a time at most.
In the two days that I’ve had The Girls’ Guide I’ve breezed right through about half of it. It’s a fun read for sure, and I did learn about split infinitives (but please don’t expect me to start fixing them). That said, it’s super light reading and not really challenging me or teaching me anything new. I think I’ll have to take a break and read something more challenging after I’m done with this one. I’ve been slowly working my way through Camus’s L’Étrangère, but it’s slow going because my French just isn’t what it used to be. We’ll see. I may just give up entirely on reading it in French anyway since it’s quite slow for me. When am I really going to use practical French again anyway? Probably never.
Ok so you know how I said I was going to post all the photos here on my blog and not on my Flickr? Well, somehow it got all turned around in my head and I’ve decided just the opposite now. I’ll post the photos to Flickr everyday and then do a weekly wrap up here on the blog. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted a single spot where I could look at this project, one week at a time, hence posting the weekly entry here. I’m also figuring that posting the previous week on Fridays would be easier since the project’s week goes from Thursday to Wednesday and that gives me a couple days to get my act together and do the post on Friday. Uh huh…
We’ll see how well this plan goes…
So here we go, days one through seven…
1/ Bought the monthly train pass. Prices went up, as we were previously notified they would.
2/ Went to see the ocean for New Year’s Eve before running some errands and staying in for the night. We are very laidback like that.
3/ Happy new year from San Francisco!
4/ What else would I do on a lazy Sunday except bake some bread? Slightly burnt, but still tasty once I scraped the very burnt bits off.
5/ The clouds have been so pretty in the morning, probably because it rained last week.
6/ This time of year is really nice because the sun rises almost exactly in the same direction as the street. It’s called the Stonehenge Effect and it happens famously in NYC. The effect on the peninsula of course is possibly only noticed by me.
7/ Sometimes I take this bike path on the way to work and the light has been very pretty. I only have a few variations on the general morning commute route.
Let me get this out of the way first: I make a lot of mistakes, and very often I don’t even know that I’ve made a mistake until someone else points it out. And yes, there are even times when someone points out a mistake and I just still don’t get it.
Luckily, I can look up why my mistakes are mistakes. While looking up how to spell the word "grey" (which is also correctly spelled "gray"), I managed to click-click-click my way onto a list of the "100 most often misspelled words."
What do I do with this information? Well, I do what any normal person would do: make a spreadsheet of them all. Wait, isn’t that a normal person would do? I suppose normal is relative, so let’s just say that’s what a normal person would do according to me. And since my kind of normal person would also feel the need to write about some of them, that’s what I’ll do.
That’s totally normal, right?
So here are some of the words:
Misspell – Keep that extra ‘s’ in there. It’s mis + spell, so don’t misspell it.
Weird – I usually remember this by silently repeating to myself: WE are WEird so taht I know the e comes before the i. Yep. Besides, we really are weird!
Receive/Receipt – So this one actually follows the ‘i before e except after c’ rule. I don’t know why ‘weird’ is so weird.
Believe – And this one also follows the ‘i before e’ rule.
Foreign - And this one doesn’t. What can I say, English spellings are weird.
(The second half of the post just got cut off…. weird.)
Eating a balanced meal just takes a few well thought-out additions to the daily diet
In the past few months, my low blood pressure has been bothering me more than usual. The last time I tried to give blood, I was rejected because my blood pressure was too low to be acceptable. I think they thought I’d faint, even though I felt just fine. I wasn’t so pleased at this news, but at the same time, I was feeling okay and didn’t think twice of it.
Lately, I’ve been feeling it more acutely. There have been times when I’ve felt a bit lightheaded even just sitting down at my desk at work. I’m used to feeling lightheaded or having fuzzy vision when I stand up too quickly from bending down, but getting it when I’m not changing position is new. Sometimes I can feel the blood pounding in my ears quite heavily for no reason, and I’m not quite sure what that means too. I’m afraid to look it up online because I just know the symptoms will point to something horrid and probably wrong. Besides, I’ve gotten blood tests within the past year and they always turn out just perfectly, well within all the acceptable ranges (with the exception that my pressure is always low).
Instead of going to the doctor, I’ve decided to try to increase my salt intake to increase my blood pressure and also to make sure I eat more protein. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s something to try, right?
The typical serving of natto with tare and mustard has about 100 calories, 325mg soldium, 4.5g fat, and 4.5g protein. It’s pretty much perfect as a breakfast food for me as far as giving me a decent amount of fat, protein, and sodium all in one small package. I typically eat this with a slice of bread (and maybe a slice of cheese) with some black coffee in the mornings. I happen to love natto, so it’s perfect for me anyway.
I also remembered that I have a package of umeboshi (pickled Japanese plums) in the fridge, so I’ve added one to my cute little lunch box. They are very salty and very sour, so I nibble a small bit of it to flavour each bite of rice. It’s helping add to my daily salt content for sure.
We’ll see if it works, but hopefully I’ll see some kind of change soon and it doesn’t turn into a more serious problem.
No-preheat method for baking bread
I baked a loaf of 75% hydration slow-rise bread this weekend using the no-preheat method. Basically, you put the risen bread into a cold oven and turn it to the temperature and let it complete the rise in the oven during the preheating cycle. Then you just bake it as usual, making sure to check on the brownness and temperature when you are within 10 minutes of the usual finish time. It did not come out as nicely as the usual method, mostly because:
- It was baked on a flat metal pan without steam instead of inside a hot stoneware pot covered with foil to seal in the moisture
- I think I underbaked it a tiny bit
- It probably didn’t rise enough before I threw it into the oven
Oh well. It’s still edible and tasty, so I’ve been eating it up like mad. I have a slice each morning with my usual breakfast of natto and coffee.
In an effort to keep the "My Everyday" thing a bit more streamlined, I’ve considered just posting the photos here and not to Flickr so that the sheer mundanity of it all won’t clutter up my Flickr account. In the end, I want to be able to look back at what I was thinking and doing everyday.
(Well, I don’t share everything I’m thinking. If I did, the entries would be mind-numbingly boring and probably incredibly whiny and I’d rather not fill this blog with my endless whining.)
My every day is rather routine, and probably somewhat boring, but I’m not aiming to show you guys my best work or to try to sum up my week with a single photo. Instead, it’s more of a personal diary, a way for me to remember those things I tend to forget to easily. In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed the sun rising at a slightly different angle, and once we get to daylight savings again, the sun’s position will change yet again. Right now, school is in session and there are a lot of bicyclists on the blvd, but in summer things will change once again and there will be a lot less bicycle traffic.
So yes, I suppose that I’ll post the photos everyday and maybe do a weekly wrap-up here on the blog. I always want to write about everything I think about (because it usually helps me get sorted), but I do wonder if people really need to hear about every thought I have (probably not). Might just be better to let the photos speak for themselves.