What I love today

The First Lady of Cameroon


Why Do These People Have a Lawn Mower?

I'm serious. Why on earth do they have a lawn mower?  Look at that yard.  Nothing to mow. 


I Went to Red Lobster. No, Really, I Went to Red Lobster.

Years and years ago, I dated a man who was (and probably still is) a PI.  -As in Private Investigator, not Process Integration or Protease Inhibitor, as you might initially think.  This particular handsome (thought not as handsome as my husband) and ridiculously amusing (though nowhere near as amusing as my husband) fellow occasionally had really bland investigating assignments in Bakersfield and Fresno and Stockton; things like staking out suspected naughty husbands who were really just working late, and "following" plaintiffs of personal injury cases who were too hurt to leave the house, and most fun and odiferous, stealing people's trash to sift through it for clues.  (As an aside, is it theft if they have already thrown it out?)

On occasion, I got to go along for the ride and take a lovely weekend trip to scenic Fresno and stay in a plush-lacking La Quinta Inn, and eat the food that fuels the private investigations industry: Red Lobster.  We were really living it up.  What high rollers we were in those days.  

Well, who would have thought that the most luscious of chain restaurants would again present itself in my culinary circle?  The lovely SL brought it up the other day when we were driving to Target.

The conversation went like this-
SL, in rapid-fire excitement-induced speed-talk: "OMG!  You have a Red Lobster in your neighborhood!  They have THE BEST cheezy biscuits.  Really.  Have you had them?  They are so good!  I want SS (her husband) to go with me, but he never will!  OMG!  Do you want to go to Red Lobster?? I worked there all through high school and part of college, I was even a team lead and would train other waitstaff- Did you know their fish goes through 7 steps of quality control to ensure that it is fresh and of the highest quality?  It is never frozen, and their cheezy biscuits are insane, they are so good, we have to go!  I bet you would like the shrimp basket.  We can get that!  And some cheezy biscuits!"

We went to Red Lobster.  The cheese sticks were amazingly crisp on the outside, and this crispiness camouflaged their very high grease content well.  The marinara dipping sauce was not terribly robust, but was pleasant.

I had the scallops and fish, with coleslaw and a salad.  The coleslaw was nice and crunchy, and innocuous in its seasoning.  I don't think it had any onion in it at all.

The fish was flaky and not overdone or rubbery, and the scallops were strangely delightful.  They were pretty good, just like everything else was really just kind of pretty good.  Was it just the butter flavoured sauce that coated my tongue in a lab-perfected film of gustatory OKness?  Was the lack of any stand-out feature blinding my culinary judgment?  Since everything was just so adequate, did that deafen me to the actual mediocrity and make me think everything was really somewhat  good?

Our waiter, Ethan, was a doll.  He even posed for a picture and refilled my Arnold Palmer without my asking.

We did partake of a basket of cheezy biscuits, which were pretty awesome.


Ray at Night - Totally Forgettable Art

I finally roused Ian from his incessant sleep (he is fighting one hell of cold that has been keeping him down for 2 weeks now) to check out Ray at Night.  There are a bunch of art  galleries and studios on Ray Street, and one evening a month they open their doors to show their mediocre wares.

Years ago, Ian dated an art curator who schooled him in art criticism and themes, balance, color, blah blah blah.  Under her tutelage, he learned a thing or two about all artsy and fartsy.  Well, bust him out on Ray at Night; he let his catty art critique fly, and made some searing comments about the palm tree silhouette paintings and the surfboard themed prints.  Meeeeeow!

The one thing we were excited about were these chairs made from the wood of wine barrels from some vineyard.  They were nice smelling, and had nice curvy shapes.

I also really liked the brownies one of the studios served.  The other food was crap, but the brownies were quite nice.


Me, Myself, and I Ching

While I was working for JHU this summer, I had the unbelievable good fortune to work with a new friend who is just lovely, and fascinating and inspiring.  He had just retired from two decades as headmaster at a very fancy-pants private school, and was using the JHU gig as his transition out of running his school and into the next phase of his life.  He and I spent more time talking about bhodisattvas and really good restaurants than actually doing our work, hence our month-long gig was super fun and delightful.

This new buddy turned me on to Anita O'Day, for  which I am eternally grateful, and he also gave me a copy of the I Ching. We talked a lot about the similarity between Patanjali's sutras, the Gita, and the Diamond sutras, and he said the I Ching is a similar book of good advice.  I'm down with that. 

In the past week or two I have busted out my new book several times, and have asked several folks for a number between 1 and 64 (the number of hexagrams in the book).  Pick a number, any number!  Lo and behold, folks keep telling me the same number.  Hmmm.  How can I keep getting the same number?  I figured it was just an easy number to choose.  So, I got online and found a random number generator.   Got the same number. 

Turns out, we all avoid 13, and everyone, even the random number generator, picks 3.  Three is a magic number. (If you don't believe me, then revisit School House Rock.)

Here is my hexagram of the week, and quite possibly of my year:

#3 Chun/ Difficulty at the Beginning
If we persevere a great success is at hand.

"The literal translation of 'chun' is 'a blade of grass pushing against an aobstacle as it sprouts out of the earth'.  Recieving this hexagram is a sign that beyond the difficulties and pressures that surround you, a success lies waiting.  In order to bring it fuly into the light, you must be patient and persevere in nonaction."

Oh good lord.  This lesson again.  Please note that I didn't get #35, Chin/ Progress "You progress like the rising sun.  The brighter your virtue, the higher you rise".  Nor did I get #16, Yu/ Enthusiasm "Proper enthusiasm opens every door."  I got #3, the nonaction one.

Well, I'm off to persevere in nonaction.  Maybe I'll take a nap.  


Super neat

Check out this very awesome link!

Design for the Other 90%


Salking it Up - The Salk Institute

While Grupo Q was visiting, we took the opportunity to go on the architectural tour of Ian's place of employment - the Salk Institute.  Turns out it is not only a place where the elite meet to eat reheated treats (on days I am in La Jolla, Ian and meet up to savor last night's dinner leftovers/aka today's lunch), but it is also a serious architectural destination for the design minded.

The Salk institute, built in 1960, was designed by the architectural bad-ass Louis Kahn.  He and Jonas Salk, of the famed polio vaccine and namesake/godfather of the Institute, worked closely together to build am effective, adaptaptable, and low-maintenance structure that would inspire collaboration between great thinkers as well as impress and delight Pablo Picasso.  *As an aside, while Picasso never made it to the Salk, his longtime mistress, the  wildly talented artist Francoise Gilot, married Jonas Salk after she left Picasso.  They were married from 1970 until Salk's death in 1994.*

The stunningly sculptural outside structure is poured concrete with travertine marble walkways.  The steel rebar struts for the poured concrete are plugged with lead bungs to not only aesthetically cover the reinforcement, but to resist rusting, thus maintain the uniform color of the concrete.  No rusty streaks!  The exterior wood is all teak, and needs only an annaul scrubbing down to maintain uniform color.  In several of the outdoor walkways, there are slate slabs mounted to the wall.  It was Salk's vision that these could be used as chalkboards for scientists to hash out their ideas together while enjoying the ocean breeze and soaking up inspiration from the view.

Each floor is completely and totally open; there are no walls, partitions, hallways, or dividers.  This open floor design is intended to promote collaboration between scientists and labs.  Go egalitarian ideals influencing design!

What I found super fascinating about the design of the building is that there is an 8' tall "floor" above each actual floor of the building that houses all the duct work, electrical, ventilation, and plumbing gadgetry for the floor below.  It is sort of like floor 7 1/2 in "Being John Malkovich", but it is full of the mechanical guts of the lab above which it sits, not a portal to John Malkovich's head.  This wildly brilliant design allows for incredible flexibility of equipment in each lab on each floor.  The necessary upgrades in electrical (the laser-based confocal microscopes of today have a different power need than the microscopes of yester-year) have been a breeze, and the electricians can go up to the floor above the lab, upgrade and maintain what needs work, and drop the necessary connections down through the ceiling of the lab below.  No crawling in a basement crawlspace, or crouching in an attic; it is all designed to make for easy and accessible updates of equipment.  Very clever!

Bisecting the monolithic courtyard is a single stream that pours into one of the first "infinity pools" designed.  Each equinox, this stream lines up exactly with the setting sun.

Tours of the Salk are daily at noon.  Come on out and I'll take you there and then we'll go eat sandwiches as the glider port.