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Goodbye Midtown
Disappearing Fish
Silkworms Survive!
Old Man in the Mountain
Battle of the Wedge
Maine Nuclear Reactor
   Floats Away
Matisse/Picasso
Ayn Rand
User Experience
The Ugliest Buildings in NYC
Loiseau/Oiseau
Peace March
Quining the Qualia
Yogurt Issues
Where's Waldo?
Making Sushi
Bananas & Bubonic Plague
Very Large Worms
What is Art?
Heliopauses
Fiberglass Dogs
Irish Potato Famine
Leonid
Connie Chung
Fish Fall
Miss Shrimp Princess
Burnt Island
June 24, 2003

Fried Rice! I made fried rice. Quite a production, with about 45 ingredients including the dreaded fish sauce (nam plak) which smells so nasty it will curl your hair but which is actually an essential flavor enhancer. No really. It's made of anchovies, salt, and sugar. And I guess a smidge of water. Yum!

Mom and Dad sailing trip update: Got a message saying they made it to Newport, RI (la di da) but encountered "dangerous weather." They are heading for New York Harbor anyway, probably by the weekend, the plucky mariners. No GPS, no satellite phone, no ship-to-shore whatever, and NO CELL PHONE. Okaaaay...

Found an amazing article by Arundhati Roy, the Booker Prize-winning Indian author (God of Small Things). She pithily hits so many of the issues about which so many left-minded people are concerned, but which - if we collectively actually thought about them all at the same time would make our heads explode. I'll indulge in a few excerpts but you must read the article, entitled "Seize the Time," which I'm afraid I can't find right now but which was adapted from a speech sponsored by the Center for Economic and Social Rights at Riverside Church. Anyway:

"Democracy, the modern world's holy cow, is in crisis." Remembering a comment by the first Bush, after the U.S.S. Vincennes missile cruiser accidently shot down an Iranian airliner and killed 290 civilian passengers, who when asked to comment said, " I will never apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are,' she muses, "What a perfect maxim for the New American Empire.... Perhaps a slight variation on the theme would be more appropriate: The facts can be whatever we want them to be. When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the 9/11 attacks..." Insinuation, auto-suggestion.... outright lies circulcated by the U.S> corporate media... that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests."

She ends, exhorting us to action: "I hate to disagree with your president. Yours is by no means a great nation. But you could be a great people. History is giving you a chance. Seize the time." My ellipses bastardize her brilliant speech but you get the drift. And I'm preaching to the converted, as far as I can tell, so I'll stop now.

June 13, 2003

Today marks, for me, the slow ending of my first real vacation in years. Vacation in the sense of no pressure to work, sleep, travel or move. Three weekdays of simple reflection and introspection. I caught up on my reading (New Yorkers, Harper's, The Economist, The Atlantic Monthly. Ahhhh.

The kind words and thoughts I received from colleagues and friends upon leaving Pearson Education was incredibly gratifying. I feel lucky that transition for me is rarely a sad thing - and quite frankly, seems to be necessary every 17 months or so. With luck, I'll be able to embrace my new company for a while longer. At least until I finish that novel and/or win the lottery. I walked past my new building last evening, taking a run (ok, a long walk) down the Hudson after a long, hot, sticky, muggy day of well, okay, shopping. The river and the foggy twilight sort of blended and everything was gray. There was a ghostly gaff-rigger lolling between Manhattan and Liberty Island and, while beautiful, made me suddenly fearful. My dad is en route in his 32' wooden gaff-rigged ketch from Maine to New York. He didn't have time to call me before he left on this 2 or 3 week journey. He's not exactly young and had just undergone a painful and invasive medical procedure. So he'll be on the water somewhere south of Cape Cod on Father's Day. And, with luck, here in New York by the 27th.

Speaking of Harper's, its Index contains some items that made me laugh.. and cry. Here are just a few:

  • Number of presidents Argentina has had in the past TWO years: 6 (Apropos of very little, my cousins Kevin and Erik, their wives and children, still live there.)
  • Amount of the $106,185 price of a Hummer H1 that businesses may deduct under the propose Bush tax plan: $88,722
  • Minimum number of Latin American residents whose personal data the U.S. government has bought since 2001: 100,000,000. (!)
  • Years by which the 1831 invention of the electric dynamo preceded the first documented use of the word "boredom": 21 (Not sure of the significance of this, but I like it. It would probably help to figure out what "electric dynamo" means. I might have to buy one.)
  • Number of Grateful Dead concerts attended by columnist Ann Coulter: 67 (Proof positive, finally, that second-hand marijuana affects the brain in a negative manner)

  • June 3, 2003

    Updated faves page.

    Memorial Weekend in Maine. Early spring there, still, with uncountable shades of soft green playing over the landscape. Lots of rain, especially during record-setting drives up and back (6.0 and 5.5 hours respectively). Edgie was the same as always; we spent our time by the fire, playing Stratego, drinking wine, having desultory conversations. Jeannie and I did manage to locate what must be the world's best beef seller (meat market? cow purveyor? butchery?) way way way up on Route 90 past Walderboro in Warren. Looong way to go for steak, but it was worth it. We also experienced a very strange timewarp on the drive home. We essentially hopped through a space-time continuum that thankfully allowed us to bypass all of Walderboro's endless slice of Route 1 and jump from Warren all the way past Moody's Diner and back into Damariscotta in approximately ten minutes. The drive to Warren took 45. Very strange.

    A highlight of the trip was seeing niece Lily (and Bruce and Betsy, too of course), future doctoral supermodel.

    May 21, 2003

    Reason to hope from a compelling and somewhat heartwarming (if perhaps overly optimistic) article from the Washington Monthly.

    I was happy to see my old friend Hannah Holmes' award-winning book The Secret Life of Dust on the front table at my local Barnes & Noble. I had caught her on NPR a while back, I guess when the book came out, and thought she was great. I haven't seen her in a very long time, which is unfortunate, but think about her from time to time. I think back to sunny days at the Holmes' and Dean's in my childhood Maine, the swimming in a brackish pond, fort-building in the barn on River Road, the many sisters: Kate, Joan, Becky, Martha, and Ellen. Hey, Hannah, where's your website, anyway? And when is your next book out?

    May 20, 2003

    Goodbye 1185 Ave. of the Americas. Goodbye Casual Corner. Goodbye larger-than-life Arrogant Brown atop Moe's Diamonds. Goodbye Fox News. Goodbye Rock Center tourists. Goodbye felafel man. Goodbye overpriced deli. Goodbye Thomas Pink. Goodbye Bryant Park. Goodbye educational publishing.

    And no, I won't miss Midtown West. No siree. Hello Hudson River. Hello Hudson Park. Hello WFC. Hello new job, hello new life. I was offered a great opportunity to pursue a career in online communications (read: sell out to hugely successful corporate behemoth) wherein I will be able to merge my dubious Web skills with my love of communication (read: remain a loquaciously voluble geek).

    May 15, 2003

    This is very disturbing: "Fully 90 percent of each of the world's large ocean species, including cod, halibut, tuna, swordfish and marlin, has disappeared from the world's oceans in recent decades, according to the Canadian analysis -- the first to use historical data going back to the beginnings of large-scale fishing in the 1950s." Read more from the Washington Post. It's really rather heartbreaking, especially since I just learned how to make sushi. On a more macrocosmic level, I'm ready to take up arms to get our fish back. And this from a Maine girl who certainly has some vestiges of empathy for the toiling fishermen. Fisher people. You know what I mean.

    May 9, 2003

    Silkworms Survive!  Another quasi interesting story to which I am personally if tangentially connected. Our company sponsored the Los Angeles County Science Fair (the largest in the nation) a couple of weeks ago, and one of the classes was recognized for their experiment with silkworms which was chosen by NASA to go up into space in the shuttle. On the very day of this recognition, it was discovered that the silkworms had survived the shuttle explosion! I'm so happy for the little buggers. Such a bittersweet thing.

    May 6, 2003

    The Old Man in the Mountain is gone!! Occasional visits from coastal Maine to Grandad & Sara's in Littleton, NH in the seventies are now for me distant, muddled memories of Siamese cats, large plaid beanbag ashtrays, the cousins' walls of horseshow ribbons, King the scary German Shepherd who loved my grandfather and also my ankles; Mr. Potato Head up in the attic of the house on Forest Lake; skiing at Cannon - and the Old Man looking down from his perch high in the White Mountains. Long before I had ever seen or heard of Mt. Rushmore, the Old Man looked down on me and my family and embedded his big rocky face deep into my young dreams. I hadn't thought about him in nearly twenty years. Goodbye, Old Man. Sorry I didn't visit more often.

    Old Man timeline

    April 29, 2003

    I'll be closely following the Battle of the Wedge wherein our two protagonists, architect Daniel Libeskind, winning designer for the new buildings at ground zero, whose work has been described alternately as "brilliant, complex, radiating, emotional, spastic, genius, embarrassing, towering, lovely, sick, astonishing, plagued, quintessential, incomprehensible, simple, elegant, and fatuous" and architect Eli Attia, who designs very big, shiny, rather cold but slick and elegant buildings, as they battle over the idea of sunlight. Yes, the idea of sunlight. I'm going to try to sum up the controversy in their own words. Or something like their own words.

    Mr. Libeskind: The sun will shine without shadow.
    Mr. Attias: That's a lie.
    Mr. Libeskind: The effect is not linear but a three-dimensional phenomenon about the ambience of light and the reflections of light between the buildings.
    Mr. Attias: [It's] a virtual smorgasbord of narrow-minded incompetence in urban planning and architectural design, garnished with a rare blend of political propaganda
    Mr. Libeskind: harrumph...
    Mr. Attias: ...a figment and a sham memorial in which the defining image and metaphor is shadows conquering the light
    Mr. Libeskind: This is about radiating light, reflecting light, the atmosphere of light
    Mr. Attias: It's a national embarrassment
    Mr. Libeskind: It's not about tricks of light but about how light behaves when you look at the sun in three-dimensional form

    To be continued...

    ............................................................................................................

    "Maine Yankee's reactor vessel will be leaving the site of the closed nuclear power plant under the guidance of the same man who brought it here about 25 years ago, Eliot Winslow. Winslow, a well-known tugboat operator/owner, from Boothbay Harbor, guided the reactor into the Maine Yankee site in 1969, and will guide it out from Maine Yankee's barge slip sometime next week." -
    Wiscasset Newspaper
    Not sure I'd want to make this common knowledge, but I like the historical aspect. And I'm sure if met him, I'd like Eliot Winslow.

    April 29, 2003

    Caught the Matisse/Picasso show at MOMA on Saturday. Very impressive - and all the more so for being out there in industrial Queens. Long line notwithstanding, I breezed through relatively quickly, parents in tow, and left with a lighter, happier feeling of possibility, despite the distracting trope of compare/contrast. I was sad to not find a print of my favorite painting of the show, Henri's Lorette in Green Robe, Black Background

    April 20, 2003

    Watching people watch other people is much more interesting than just watching people. Mission: catch someone watching someone watching someone who's watching someone.

    April 9, 2003

    Spiderman II was shooting last night near my street (actually on Sixth and Carmine, at the corner pizza joint, just up a ways). How terribly enervating.

    Time to change my website name, I think. I'm not even sure where "Kitlab" came from, and now it's getting on my nerves. Now, I'm not one to Google myself or my Web site URL, nor do I have the time, being the busy professional woman that I am. However, it has come to my attention that the unfortunate Kitlab moniker attaches itself to:

  • A Brazilian dating site (might be a porn site, I'm not sure)
  • A military airplane model site of indeterminate national origin (the typeface looks Cyrillic, but what do I know)
  • Laramie County Community College (where I might go one day, just start my life over again... maybe I will become best friends with the fembot gracing their Web site)
  • A Czech applications provider whose pages I'm not authorize to view
  • Squid Statistics
  • Reading: Ayn Rand's We the Living
    A harrowing tale of a woman trapped in the nascent USSR. Her "most autobiographical" according to book jacket. I recommend it for anyone who's bemoaning their current fate. Not that it makes one feel any better about our weasly government or out-of-control economy... Two days ago I was reading The Lake of Forgotten Languages, a sort of poor woman's AS Byatt's Possession

    Work Related
    Pleased to see a book of "ours" -- The Elements of User Experience" (New Riders Publishing) on
    kottke.org.We had a copy in the supply room so I'm surrepticiously reading it here at work. Meanwhile, after futzing with design for nearly a year, our site is finally almost ready to make its debut. Too bad it's been bastardized (is that the right word?) I mean corrupted, diminished. Worked over by committee and less than stellar design sensibilities. It doesn't look so so bad, but isn't exactly cutting edge art either. Nor commerce for that matter. It's all good.

    April 9, 2003

    It's raining cats and dogs. My window, 26 floors above 46th Street, offers a distorted cubist view, through the pelting rain, of the twin building across the way. This week ends in a whimper, weatherwise, but all in all has been a good one, full of surprises and wondrous synchronicities..

    Breaking news: B&B will be going back to China to adopt a sister for Lily. My new future niece!! "Alice," as her name might be, should be ready in four months or so - they'll be notified when they can come and get her. Hard to imagine - they know she's there, waiting for them, but have no idea at this point where in all of China she might be.

    I need a vacation and am thinking Hong Kong might fit my travel budget, but after floating the idea to friends and relatives, I don't think I'll get much support.

    I'm thinking of going back to my old favorite, Cinque Terre, in late September, where I can look out over the Ligurian Sea from hills studded with lemon trees and tessellating vineyards, where the wine is local, delicious and cheap, and beach chairs cost little more than a cup of cappuccino.

    I hate this font. Will someone please help me pick a better one? And I forgot how to use the CSS, lost my macromedia homesite disk, so I'm hopeless anyway.

    April 8, 2003

    Now I know why I'm depressed. As a preternaturally architecturally-sensitive girl, I was appalled to read this. Guess it's official: I work in one of the top ten UGLIEST buildings in NYC. Can someone PLEASE find me a job in the Chrysler Building please??

    Other "winners" included 60 Wall Street (doesn't look that bad), One Astor Place, which is pretty gross, but so big, I guess, I've never even noticed it, and the New York Telephone Building which is truly monstrous. I'll be posting a pic of the not-so-pretty domicile of my current employer soon. Yeesh.

    April 5, 2003

    A very bad day for journalism. Michael Kelly, the editor at large of The Atlantic Monthly and the chief editorial advisor of National Journal, was killed on Thursday night while on assignment in Iraq. You can read the statement from the Atlantic Monthly. I am very saddened.

    March 31, 2003

    In a highly unfortunate confluence of history, geography, and the spotlight of war, newscasters, strategists, retired generals, and even Katie Couric, are all at heightened risk of - as has already been witnessed - accidently melding "Kurds" and "Turks" on-air.

    "Turd" count = 1 CNN, 2 NBC

    Another thing - my newscasters' "If you will" count meter has blown up. It's a plague on the airwaves, and I'm pretty sure Wolff Blitzer started it. "This war, if you will..." "The skies of Baghdad, if you will," "My inability to make formulate elegant sentences without using 'if you will,' if you will..." Well, I'm WILLING it to stop. {It's not working}.

    I forgot to thank Laura and Stephen in my last post. We were supposed to go to the Guggenheim on Saturday to take in the Cremaster Cycle but the call of the peace march down Broadway proved too much a lure. They were gracious enough to accompany me and make the whole experience that much nicer.

    Finally, last week I met an astronaut. Probably the coolest astronaut ever. And it was through my job, go figure. We brought him to a small inner-city Philly elementary school for a media event - and for once the media actually showed up. That's the key to PR, folks: kids and astronauts.

    March 25, 2003

    A march definitely beats a rally. Pictures here

    March 21, 2003

    If something actually happens, for god's sakes cover it. If nothing is happening I see no reason to show cloudy skies, sans missiles, over and over and the same view from that one hotel. I also find my mornings ruined by the combination of Matt Lauer with his federal prison haircut and that very odd Peter Hairnet, er, Arnett live from Baghdad.

    March 19, 2003

    My own mental horizons*seem to be expanding like a slowly spreading pool of ...? Oil? Honey? Molasses? Blood? Toxic slime? Milk? Soy drink? By day I consume an overabundance of news, breaking news, political analysis that quite frankly is usually a few inches over my head; email alerts, siren sounds, threats of increased "security" and low-grade flashbacks to Rector Street on Sept. 11, 2001. All of this serves to expand my already stretched-to-the-limits sphere of consciousness beyond the boundaries of my small office on Sixth Avenue, beyond my boss's corner office, beyond Lord & Taylor's and Macy's (sale today, focus, focus), over the Atlantic to France (how is Carmella, native Mass. girl and now expat married to a Frenchman and living south of Paris feeling these days?) to Germany (what is Jochen thinking?) and beyond to Greece (and Nicole, and if the map in my head is accurate, that's even closer to the danger zone) and on to Turkey and then to the Kurdish lands (where I no no one and fear for all) and into Iraq where the stuff of nightmares are just hours away from happening. I reel myself in, and feel so small and helpless and so very, very angry.

    Interesting interview on cowboy George on the Atlantic's website with historian Richard Brookhiser.

    *  "... Brookhiser explains, Bush's worldview is extremely rigid, circumscribed by the good-versus-evil religious convictions to which he has adhered since his recovery from alcoholism seventeen years ago. "Practically," Brookhiser writes, "Bush's faith means that he does not tolerate, or even recognize, ambiguity: there is an all-knowing God who decrees certain behaviors, and leaders must obey." While this clear-cut belief structure enables him to make split-second decisions and take action with principled confidence, it also means that he is limited by "strictly defined mental horizons." [my emphasis]   More...

    March 17, 2003

    Hell in a Handbasket Whoa holy cow where've I BEEN?? Well, I've been busy using the impending war as an excuse to not do any writing, that's for sure. And now, probably starting within 72 hours or less, I can use the actual war as an excuse not to write. Though now that the weather has changed I'm doing that butterfly chrysalis thing and slowly emerging from the winter funk. Bought a RIO mp3 player yesterday and am thrilled with it so far. Hands free jogging, hands free gym workouts - brilliant. And no more excuses ("I can't use my discman on the ellipticalizer machine thingy so i'm just not going to the gym today") either. I went yesterday and kind of jumped the gun on doing the machines (I was going to wait for 2 weeks and just do cardio in the meantime) and I think I sprained my inner thighs. Do not make jokes. It hurts. The new flu epidemic is really scary - war-scary - "Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand asserted today that some World Health Organization officials believe the new illness could be as deadly as the influenza pandemic that killed 20 million people worldwide in 1918 and 1919." Peachy.

    February 25, 2003

    According to Kim's Snapple top  of yesterday, Maine has 62 lighthouses.

    The great French chef Bernard Loiseau died today in an apparent suicide:

    "Loiseau's death recalled the legendary 17th-century Francois Vatel, said to have killed himself over a failed meal at which King Louis XIV was the star guest. The fish had reportedly arrived late."  
    more... (NYT-AP)

    I didn't know him, or even of him, but I feel for him. His name caught my eye and I thought immediately of Wallace Shawn, the actor and playwright who played a man name "Oiseau" in the highly enjoyable 1988 Alan Rudolph film, "The Moderns." Wally, if you didn't know, has been in an amazing 73 movies, mostly rather bad ones, from the brilliant "My Dinner With Andre" to the probably not-so-brilliant "Nice Girls Don't Explode."

    I like the guy but he once cut in front of me in line at Drama Books. Oh well.

    February 20, 2003

    I've never attended a peace rally. Even at Berkeley during the time of the anti-apartheid protests -- which I felt pretty strongly about -- and People's Park riots (which I felt somewhat strongly about) I preferred to watch from the sidelines. Read more...

    Rally pics

    From the February 13 Wiscasset [Maine] Newspaper: Bravo for Bobsy and Val Thompson [Mom and Dad] on Spring Hill Farm Road. They braved weather, a long crowded bus ride, and some harsh disapproval, to go to the Peace March in Washington January 18, and both have written thoughtful commentary on it in several papers. Loyalty to one's nation should not be measured by a slavish agreement to its policies, but, like King Lear's youngest daughter Cordelia, it is having the courage and generosity to say "nay" when one's nation is in danger of erring. The strength of our country is its willingness to sustain and benefit from its nay-sayers, an uncomfortable prickly lot who should be known as "the loyal opposition." So, another bravo for all the stalwart souls who have held peace vigils on the Davey and Newcastle-Damariscotta Bridges, and all the other bridges, nation and state.

    February 14, 2003

    Finally some good news: Monarch Butterflies Alive and Well in Mexico

    February 12, 2003

    Quining the Qualia
    I've been doing a little
    light reading in hopes that a mental workout might unfreeze my neural connections. So far, I'm just getting a headache. I'm spending the morning divining words that encourage my velleitous imagination, that make my heart leap or that I have to look up. Hence, the above.

    An interesting article in Scientific American, my new fave zine. "To sleep, perchance to file? Findings published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences further support the theory that the brain organizes and stows memories formed during the day while the rest of the body is catching zzz's," begins the article.

    I also checked out FEMA's 101-page Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness after the incident on the subway yesterday*:

    "If you live in an area prone to high winds, make sure your roof is firmly secured to the main frame of the residence." Damn sound advice.

    * After a weekend of hearing about possible terrorist attacks in the NYC subway tunnels, I overslept and yes, had to take the subway to work. And wouldn't you know it, I sit down right next to a guy with a big metal suitcase. Not something you usually see during rush hour. I hate being paranoid. It really sucks.

    January 28, 2003

    I'm not alone! At least in my preoccupation with yogurt and yogurt marketing. Read this... it's infinitely funnier than my tale of woe.

    January 21, 2003

    I had a moment the other day when I questioned my sanity and so I tried to remember who the Vice President of the United States is - and I couldn't. Where's Waldo? It got me thinking - and I know I'm not alone in this (or anything apparently) - where the hell is he? I did a quick search and came up with some "recent appearances" that sound pretty suspect to me, I'm sorry: the most recent is a discussion on the economy to the United States Chamber of Commerce. Huh? We need a Chamber of Commerce? I know Bath, Maine does, but the United States of America? Wierd. The other recent event was honoring Margaret Thatcher (surprise, surprise) at the Heritage Foundation (surprise, surprise). Still, I haven't seen his scary visage on the tv for a very long time, so obviously he must be in hiding, kidnapped or ... I was pretty sure I spotted him at the curtain call for the cast of a St. Cloud, Minnesota production of Annie but I could be wrong.

    January 17, 2003

    I made sushi! Okay, it was just the roll kind but it still consisted of raw fish and sushi rice and nori and wasabi. The rice is the hard part, requiring many rinsings and delicate handling and fanning to cool and religious utterings and Upanishadi prayer rings and the silent promising of first babies as long as it doesn't, god forbid, get mushy. It's supposed to become shiny and not sticky-togethery and then become quietly submissive, which, thankfully it did. The rest was easy; having purchased a totally pointless "sushi kit" that consisted of the essential bamboo rolly-up mat thing and a totally useless "special wooden spoon," I couldn't really miss. I used raw salmon and cucumber and served the whole thing with a large dollop of self-satisfaction and it was all good except for the blood I shed when my newly purchased "chef's grade" knife sliced my thumb half off and goddamnit I don't have any of the swanky new invisible bandaids just sesame street ones.

    Braved 60 mph winds (approximately) and face-freezing cold to walk down to the WTC [area] and saw My Big Fat Greek Waste of Money. My personal big fat waste of money. Must have been the hype or I'm hanging out with the wrong kind of people. Not a bad indie-flick, just benevolently one-dimensional. Even with my own mother still wearing Birkenstocks, her McGovern poster still gracing the empty boathouse wall, swearing a blue streak, D.Min. notwithstanding --I uncomfortably related more to the family of the whitebread, sweetly lobomotized groom.

    Caught a more complex movie on Lifetime Movie channel starring the ever-lovely odd bird Roseanna Arquette later in the day. Spent the rest of the day and night making CDs including that may or may not propel me to stardom as a DJ/CD-burning wonderkit. Look for me in clubs that cater to nerdy, once-cool, baffled, cynical, cranky and angry but somehow optimistic late late 30-somethings.

    I might be late* to work tomorrow.

    * mild frostbite

    January 20, 2003

    This morning's Dannon yogurt (Light 'n Fit Peach) is definitely SMALLER than it was yesterday. I'm dismayed -- what had seemed such a great product and company (see below) not only has not answered my recent email suggesting they institute Key Lime flavor, but now the yogurt is shrinking! I think. Can anyone confirm?

    From: "Dannon Consumer Affairs" | Add to Address Book To: "'kit1000_1@yahoo.com'" Subject: Yogurt Question Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 12:44:38 -0500

    January 22, 2002

    Dear Ms. Thomas,

    Thank you for contacting the Dannon Company, Inc. We apologize for the problem you experienced with our products.

    Since our products are foil sealed, pressure can build up inside the cup. If pressure builds up, sometimes the product will squirt out of the cup when the seal is broken. To avoid having the product squirt out of the cup, you may want to puncture the foil top to relieve pressure before you open the container.

    Once again, thank you for contacting Dannon. We hope this information is helpful for you. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call our toll-free number 1-877-DANNON-US (1-877-326-6668), Monday through Friday, 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. Eastern Time.

    Sincerely,

    Lisa Moore Consumer Service Representative Ref#:410966

    January 16, 2003

    Bananas and the Bubonic Plague  

    Sorry, didn't mean to scare anyone. There is, as far as I know, no link between the two.

    "It is one of the world's favorite fruits, but the banana hasn't had sex in years and its days may be numbered," Reuters (London) told us yesterday. Now, I'm not a huge banana fan, and don't think anyone is except maybe some babies until they grow up and realize there's actually food with crunch and texture out there. The banana, in my mind, is a very utilitarian fruit, highly portable, filling, and chock full of vitamins. So. I'm trying to gauge my feelings about the impending extinction of so fine a fruit. Just what the banana-less generations of the future might feel is thus far beyond my ken, though comparing the relative value and attributes of the banana vs. the dodo is instructive.

    Yes it was a rollercoaster of a news day, what with the missing and then mysteriously found bubonic plague specimens causing "palpable fear" in the FBI not to mention the rest of us.

    December 20, 2002

    I had heard that there are very large worms swimming on the bottom of the Hudson due to recent cleanup. Don't know if that's still true or ever was but it alone is scary enough to make my skin crawl. Now it appears they have mapped the entirety of the river and located every boat that ever sank in it! State officials won't tell us where the wrecks are; I guess because we're not to be trusted. But what's REALLY scary is the NYT headline chosen for this most interesting story: "Hudson Shipwrecks Found, but No Loose Lips." Gross!  Loose lips! Large worms! Ewww!

    Click here for article if you are registered for the New York Times. If not, here's a snippet:
    Scientists mapping the bottom of the Hudson River with sonar say they have found nearly every single ship that ever foundered in the river over the last 400 years or more. Not just some of them, or most of them, but - astonishingly - all of them, except for a few that may have been disturbed by dredging.

    December 18, 2002

    What is Art?
    I don't have the answer, though you know I've pondered it at length. I do know what is NOT art... and now we all do, thanks to one dumb-shit art student who recently managed to terrorize the 14th Street subway station. As Michael Kimmelman writes in the NYT, "Yesterday's loony loner is today's Conceptual artist."
    Read more;  and note how Mr. Kimmelman uses the inherently funny phrase "Rancho Cucamonga" to great effect...

    "Rancho Cucamonga. Rancho Cucamonga!"   Heh heh heh.

    Just finished another interesting Times article which induced my current headache... Lines like this: "The contemporary city is a place of multiple perspectives that occasionally add up to a fleeting fusion of subjective perception and objective truth." Okay. Brilliance? Bullshit? Pretentious hooey? I'm not sure. I like it anyway. Architecture is an endlessly fascinating subject to me and this piece explores the inter-relationship (though not at great length) of language, architecture and possibility while reporting on the complex and delicate process of re-building at the World Trade Center site.

    December 16, 2002

    Strike, schmtrike. That doesn't sound right. But neither did all the hoopla. I was really looking forward to a little chaos, but no. Of course, the last time I expressed my desire for a shake-up -- I believe my exact lament was "Today was the most forgettable day of my life. Tomorrow better be more interesting" -- was on Monday, Sept. 10, 2001, and look what happened. On a more interplanetary note, I just found this, detailing the remote travels of Voyagers I and II. I especially like learning about heliopauses. Heliopauses. Reminds me of Kim's aunt who is quoted as saying, hinting at a post-menopausal hot flash, "Excuse me, I must go outside, I am having a personal summer." December 13, 2002

    Interesting: last week or so I expressed my dismay about Henry Kissinger being named to head up the 9/11 investigation. A week or so later, he resigns the post (no details yet). Then, I expressed my disgust for the fiberglass hero dog outside the fire station in my neighborhood, and a few days later it disappeared.

    I would now like to publicly express my utmost fury at my out-of-control student loans that Citibank is currently, inexplicably still holding over my head. There.

    December 3, 2002

    The downtown creation memorializing the tragic Irish potato famine is such an amazing example of creativity and artistry. I can only hope those confabulating a WTC memorial will have this kind of vision. The Irish Hunger Memorial

    December 2, 2002

    The dog is gone. [see below, Nov. 21st]. Now I miss it.

    Maureen Dowd does an excellent - and very funny - job of summing up why it's insane to have H. Kissinger in charge of the 9/11 investigation

    November 21, 2002

    Broke my own record for weekend walking. Don't know how far, but do know that I ended up in Brooklyn, just south of Montague Street. Not bad. First I stopped off at the World Financial Center for Annie Leibowitz's [with Amex] Rewarding Lives photo exhibit. Stunning. Seeing them altogether is like eating candy. Once I found my way out, I headed east toward City Hall and over the Brooklyn Bridge. I must have made a wrong turn somewhere because I ended up in the middle of the highway (it seemed) walking for miles (it seemed) in between the two lanes until finally, past Cadman Plaza, there was a way to escape. I then took a tour of my old stomping grounds, Henry's End (not open), that wierd old hotel (the strip club gone), that Italian restaurant on Montague where Eric and I met a mobster once. I walked past my old apt. at 89 Hicks St., my first in New York (not really even mine) and didn't even recognize the lobby interior. Kinda sad. Brooklyn Heights is a bit dark and creepy actually, away from the water.

    November 21, 2002

    This might explain my weeklong feeling of impending doom. Astronomers Foresee Enormous Collision of Two Black Holes

    On another note, I have a confession. I harbor great ill will toward the fiberglass dog outside my local fire department. I'm all for honoring our heroes, two-footed or four, but this is too much. The dog is white and covered with red "kisses." He stands on a thin square of cement (probably too heavy for me to lift, and believe me I've thought about it) looking balefully into middle distance. Occasionally someone will leave a bunch of flowers in his doggy water bowl, which seems to compound my annoyance. I can handle the guy who hangs out outside the station, talking day and night to the portraits of the fallen firefighters. But I can't handle the dog. The station didn't even have a dog, as far as I know. And lest you think I'm anti-animal or something, I was a big fan of the cow project. This dog project seems more than a little derivative. And dorky. And tacky.

    November 19, 2002


    Managed to miss the entirety of
    Leonid, the largest meteor shower of the century.

    Apologies for the long delay. A birthday has passed (a quiet one, with lots of unassuming presents like the apron (?) coffee cups (?) apple chutney (!) and Christopher Morley book (?!) from my parents.

    Spent last week working at Penguin Putnam in a somewhat ill-conceived employee exchange program. The two most interesting things I did were:

  • Attended a meeting between a self-help author, his silent, supportive wife, and their publicist.
  • Researched a possible cross promotion between some new book about a guy who makes or is attempting to make single-malt Scotch (in America, no less) and well, single-malt Scotch.

    Books garnered during aforementioned week include Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters, High Maintenance, by Jennifer Bell (hilarious), and The Color of Water - A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, by James McBride

    New wishlist item: Man Bites Dog

    October 31, 2002

    Oh great. Now I'm compelled to read Bertold Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui just to figure out if this guy is on the mark. He's writing - scathingly - about a current production starring Al Pacino, John Goodman, my future husband Billy Crudup, Chazz Palminteri, Steve Buscemi, and Charles Durning. Not a bad cast. What went wrong?

    Apparently, nothing. ...a stunning coup de grace."
    Now I'm really confused. [Salon article about John Heilpern whose review began my quest for clarity around a play I'll never see and quite frankly will probably never read either.] I enjoy deconstructing things about which I'm completely ignorant. There's something at once challenging and absurd about it.

    HAPPY HALLOWEEN! And here we go again. I can expect drunken ghouls from the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade hovering on my stoop starting from the moment I get home. I already ran into a phalanx of men in blue on my way to West 4th. They looked cold and annoyed and were probably wondering, like me, why they had to be there so early.

    Welcome to the world, Jacob Noll Lassner!

    October 29, 2002

    Today was a visual day, as opposed to a literary or intellectual day. As a result, I used up a grand total of 86% fewer brain cells and I must say it feels good. For your viewing pleasure... some fun with digital camera. I also took a mighty fine picture of a ruler because I needed one for our website (company site) but simply couldn't find one. I would love to just photograph extremely everyday boring objects for a job. Someone please help.

    October 25, 2002

    A large galaxy absorbed a smaller companion and left behind a bright blue imprint

    October 23, 2002

    Good. It's not just me... Connie Chung bugs me.

    Astronomer sees black hole eat star   Cool.

    Maybe the sniper era is drawing to a close. Last thing I remember from last night was hearing that they arrested a tree trunk. I thought, as I snuggled deeper into the down, that ah, now the world is definitely a safer place. Renegade tree trunks must be stopped so that all freedom-loving Americans can get on with their daily lives and not let the deciduous sleeper cell tree trunks win ... especially the white, male homegrown tree trunks with big egos and credit cards.... This is what I dreamed, and how much sense it made (though you might compare it to the cryptic messages sent from Mr. Moose to the sniper, which seems to make even less). All in all, the world is not making a whole lot more sense now, even in the light of day. To wit:

    [from today's NYT] "While Chief Moose was careful not to label Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Malvo suspects, one federal law-enforcement official, said: `We're not ready to call them suspects, but we suspect them. We want to talk to them. We really want to talk to them."  I'm sorry; that cracked me up. I may just be overtired.

    Had my annual review today. Or, as I call it, the annual self-flagellation ritual wherein I spend some precious work hours inspecting my psyche, examining my work ethic, probing my motivational impulses, detailing my shortcomings, and finally accepting that I'm just not any more than "meeting expectations" which is the box checked, I'm sure, in the vast majority of annual reviews, regardless of whether the person is a bona fide imbecile or a nascent genius workerbee. Actually, in fairness, this company uses "Successful" instead of "Meets Expectations" which is supposed to be enlightened and more motivational but still means a check mark in the damn center box, below "Exceeded Expectations" [read: I have something on my boss} and above "Needs Improvement" [read: you're pretty much a sorry loser whose ass is grass].

    On logging/blogging/flogging: I'm not sure any of this is worthwhile. Who am I sharing with? (Maybe about three friends and two relatives). Why am I sharing? It's not as if I would put my deepest thoughts here, and certainly not any really GOOD writing (I'm not going to waste it on the Web... hello, New Yorker?).

    October 22, 2002

    Bought skates with Kim yesterday afterwork, after much discussion and price-comparisons. Not an easy task. Ladies figure skates have a thirty-five dollar price differential, Modell's to Sports Authority to Paragon (highest, naturally) to Blades at Chelsea Piers (a moderate $109). I think it was Modell's that told me they wouldn't carry women's skates until after the Marathon. Whatever. So Kim and I zig-zagged after work from 46th and Sixth to 23rd and the Hudson River with the finally about-to-be-realized goal of buying skates (with the sub-goal of actually getting around to using them).

    We bought the skates, waited twenty minutes for them to be sharpened, tried to find left-by-the-wayside blade covers that the swag bellied clerk (thanks, thesaurus.com) told us we could find out by the rink when we whined about the $10.99 blade covers they offered for sale.

    Tomorrow: the search for an affordable ice-skating venue in Manhattan.

    ..................................................

    Apparently, I talk about Maine too much, according to Kim, but hey, can I help being nostalgic for it as I live out my days in my tenement cell on King Street with the ever-breaking boiler and the slamming-door neighbors, the strangely studio-cohabitating large plumber and the small Asian man who comes home at all hours? When I can't even afford the daily Naked juice that I'm addicted to (green one) not to mention smokes and sushi.

    Apparently, not everyone feels like I do about the state of Maine...

    Talk about New York, she said. Okay. Um. Hm. It's either that or my cats (which I'm sure nobody wants to hear about and I sure as hell don't want to write about since they wake me up at 4 am for a feeding by dive-bombing my bedroom door and pulling down the curtains in the living room.

    So, New York. Hell of a town. The Bronx is up and the Battery is down. I've reinstituted my weekly weekend super-long walk and here's the route: Down Sixth until it turns into West Broadway somehow, past my favorite store New York Nautical, which I love for its being so old-world and cozy. I told the proprietor, Ken, that he really should have a coffee nook in the back with free espresso but he just looked at me like I was out of my gourd. Oh well. I proceed down past all the trendy restaurants until West Broadway is stopped short just north of the old WTC site. Then I head west across the West Side Highway and peel down the stretch past the World Financial Center, and tell myself it's really time to GET OVER making disapproving faces at the poor souls taking picture of, well, nothing. Literally. Now they peer out of the new window from the WFC, as I had some weeks ago before everyone discovered this new vantage point where you get a great view of ... nothing.

    Then it's out around the new Ritz Carlton (never any superstars when I go by .. unlike what the Post would suggest -- not that I read it.)

    Then it's a long mosey through Battery Park, past the rather shocking proliferation of T-shirt vendors, the dented, poignant WTC sphere, past the people waiting in line for the Liberty ferry, a quick glance at the amazing sight of the Statue of Liberty (I may be jaded but I'm not not human), and then round the bend to the Fulton Fish Market area. I've made it half way across the Brooklyn Bridge, but so far usually head up town behind City Hall and into the twisty Chinatown streets (by the way, by this time I've already had a good workout, walking as fast as I do) and home via either Grand or Broome Streets, west-bound. Phew.

    October 21, 2002

    Had a bad moment walking home the other day, down Sixth Avenue at twilight. A large plane was overhead, appearing extremely low and ominous. Everyone on the street was watching it. This little Hispanic guy caught my eye, and mouthed "So close, no?" I nodded, my heart in my throat. Of course it finally passed, after a small eternity. Later that night I was told it was a C148 or something, some military transport plane, because I described it as more "rounded" than usual and very dark.

    On the same depressing, repetitive note, my sister told me that unpacking in Boston she pulled out the black-covered New Yorker magazine and cried for the first time since. I tsk-tsked a little and then, later, by coincidence while consolidating photo albums, pulled out this long-forgotten photo and felt much the same way.

    October 11, 2002

    Good news for alewives: Fish Now Survive 30 Foot Fall

    October 10, 2002

    Took yesterday off* to listen to many hours of the GAS BAGS that purport to represent us in the US Senate. At one point (being my politically ignorant self) I thought I was witnessing a filibuster and I got excited. Temporarily.

    * "bad back"

    October 7, 2002

    J. and I discussed the relative arguments for and against up and moving to France with the sole motivation being debt avoidance. Decided to table the decision pour maintenant.

    Here is where I'll spend my golden years.

    October 4, 2002

    Happy Birthday, Petra Olton.

    Happy Friday to everyone else. And not a moment too soon. This week elasticized itself. I still don't believe 5:46 will actually occur today. We shall see.

    Bought some fun new storyboard software today -- well, the company bought it "for me" for me to use at "work" for "business reasons" [stupid flash Web site] and so far it's becoming obvious that I have the potential to be the next Martin Scorcese... er... Roger Corman ... uh... Lloyd Kaufman. See for yourself. It's called Storyboard Quick v. 4 from PowerProduction Software.

    Wanted: Used pre-1990 Mercedes Benz in good running condition for the lawyer to whom I read on Saturdays at the Lighthouse. I'm looking through Uncle Henry's, which is almost as much fun to peruse as Craig's List.

    Good question: "Republicans could win control of the entire federal government in November. Why won't the Democrats talk about it?" Read more from the Washington Monthly.

    October 1, 2002

    Rabbit. Rabbit.

    September 26, 2002

    Portland police investigating a report of a burglary in progress Monday, instead found a ram the size of a large dog trashing the apartment of a Danforth Street man. . . ."I am definitely not a happy camper," said Ryan Cyr, a bartender and waiter at DiMillo's Restaurant. "That animal ate my plants, destroyed my carpet and my couch. What didn't that thing do?" you must read more.

    Speaking of Maine, I think this description of activities for Boothbay Harbor's annual Fishermen's Festival sums up quite graphically all (or a lot ) that is good about Maine: "Events include

  • trap hauling
  • a slippery codfish relay race
  • fish fry
  • lobster crate race
  • pancake breakfast
  • fish chowder contest
  • Miss Shrimp Princess Pageant
  • tug of war
  • tall tales contest
  • blessing of the fleet and boat parade."
  • And yes, I have a special relationship to the Miss Shrimp Princess Pageant, as I was a contestant in 1975. I lost, thank you very much, but managed to pull of a hasty rendition of Bach's Minuet in G-major on the piano before fainting internally.

    September 24, 2002

    Made it back from Maine in one piece, despite torrential rain and a missed 6:30 am flight which I could have made but they wouldn't even let me try. "For god's sake, there's a half an hour line up they-uh," said the continental counter lady. "'Half an hour line? 'Half an hour line' - what does that mean?" I asked, knowing full well, but hating her syntax.

    So I had the infinite pleasure of eating breakfast with my parents at Becky's Diner, the only greasy spoon in Portland open at 6:25 am (to my knowledge). Conducted a rogue visit of brother Bruce (the eminent professor)'s new house, and took a picture of a funny sign.

    Other highlights included sailing to Burnt Island. Bear's new gaff rigging is very impressive and elegant. We enjoyed pretty strong winds, though the inclinometer maxed out at 30.

    Also witnessed two otters in the pond, communed with them for hours until Mom came home and actually ordered Dad to call the Game Warden and kill them if necessary (she thought they were eating the trout with which she had personally stocked the pond). That was the beginning of a very tense weekend.

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