Things Consumed

visit the latest entry in things consumed | visit the things consumed archives | return to | subscribe to the feed

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hey! My new article is up! : Kallitype kit - review is by me (under my middle name). I've promised to write another article or two in the future, and when those appear I'll mention them here.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:49 PM

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I'm still coughing (though I'm improving every day now). I'm still feeling tired. I still haven't put away my clean laundry. I'm still vaguely disinterested in food, due to a strange side effect of the medications I'm on for my cough.

But at least I've posted a new gallery: | Infrared Landscapes.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:58 PM

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Oooh! Bicycle Film Festival, San Francisco, October 5 - 7 ( Bronchitis may have kept me from attending MadCat, the Peace rally, the Love Parade, and the Folsom Street Fair (okay, I wasn't going to go to that again), but I won't miss next weekend's Bicycle Film Festival!!
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:21 PM

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sore lungs, sore wallet. After 3 hours at the hospital, I have prescription medications in three forms (solid, liquid, and gas), assurances from a chest x-ray interpretation that I do not have pneumonia, and the diagnosis of "asthmatic bronchitis."

Having been assured on other occasions by other doctors at the same facility that I do not have asthma, I called my Registered Nurse mother for interpretive assistance. She's gotten variations of the same report on her own health: definitely not asthma (when healthy); likely/surely asthma (when ill).

So it sounds like I have asthma when it's inconvenient. Circumstantial asthma? Opportunistic asthma? "$120 + unknown x-ray charge" asthma, thanks to my minimal health coverage?
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:58 PM

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Cough! COUGH! I'm down with bronchitis again/still: it got worse on Friday, and despite about 18 surplus hours of sleep over the last 2 days, it sounds like I'm coughing up a lung.

And food isn't especially appealing. Which is more disturbing than I can say.

The only positive thing is that I was awake for more than 4 hours this morning during great weather, and I printed about a dozen new cyanotype images, which turned out beautifully.

I'd save up my energy and print Van Dyke prints tomorrow morning, but it turns out I don't have any tartaric acid handy. (Just tannic acid. Ooops.) I might be able to buy it at a home brewery supply place tomorrow (of all places, since it's used in various beverage fermenting processes), if I can work up the energy to go get it. We'll see.

I'll likely be quiet until I feel better.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:02 PM

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Faith. I've been working at Sierra Point, a little peninsula that juts out into SF Bay on the South San Francisco/Brisbane line, for about 2 months. Every day I look out eastward and lose faith in the existence of the East Bay.

Every morning the bay is smooth and blue or gun-metal gray. There is usually the subtlest of horizons, where the blue-gray bay meets the gray-blue clouds. Some mornings, when it's brilliantly sunny over the water, it sparkles - but there is nothing above it but mist.

I think I've seen Hayward twice in the last few weeks: the fog was withdrawing from the East Bay Hills, and the sun shone through the gap and backlit them. They disappeared later in the day, however. Last month, those odd hills south of the Hayward Shore were backlit, and glowed like the islands they nearly are.

But it appears that there's nothing there today.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Friday, September 16, 2005

Larry Hosken: New: Book Report: Giant Robot #38 contains a discussion of conceptual artist Tobias Wong's work. Wong proposed glitter pills which you could consume to make your... how shall I put this? They make your 'output' sparkly.

WOW. My food obsession clearly has some limitations. [Entire subsequent train of thought deleted for your protection.]
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:43 PM

Thursday, September 15, 2005

It came from the farmer's market!bitter melon disguised as a friendly rat with vegetative accessories I failed to mention that S had more fun than usual at the weekend farmer's market with me. He became mesmerized at a booth which had bitter melons. I've often pointed out how neat some of the heavily textured, Asian veggies looked. But he just stood there, staring, with a funny look on his face. I told him that if he wanted to really examine bitter melon, he should just buy one. The next thing I knew, I was trying to buy strawberries while being tickled with the curly stem of a bitter melon.

Once at home, he disappeared. With great pride, he emerged from hiding to reveal his "new pet rat." After maniacal laughter, he compared his actual pet rat with his vegetable one, and I realized it needed whiskers. He quickly arranged for some. (He now insists that it looked "mean" without the whiskers. If you can imagine a vegetable pet looking mean.)

He's named it Momo, an informal abbreviation for the lengthy scientific name for the veggie Momo is made of. To me, a momo is a wonderful Himalayan dumpling with potatoes and ginger in it. (Mmmmm. Momo.) He provided the photo shown here.

We are still enjoying Momo's company, though she is softening. She will be given a place of honor in our fall garden, as our Halloween pumpkins always are, to rest and blend in.

S notes that this is the most fun he's ever had for twenty cents.


Speaking of rest, I've been getting LOTS of it to try to beat a nasty case of bronchitis. I improved dramatically about two days ago, but feel like my progress has stalled. I can't run for the bus or up the hill: I immediately have a terrible coughing fit. I've been staying hydrated, going to bed early, and hitting the guiafenesin (guess at spelling) as directed. But it's been two weeks!! Two weeks WITHOUT BIKING TO WORK!!! That is tormenting me. It's not the IDEA of not biking: it's the general attitude of loathing that my legs appear to be exhibiting toward me.

The lack-of-exercise-induced-insomnia isn't helping, either.


Bananas go pretty well with coffee-flavored ice cream.


My immune system doesn't like certain things. Alcohol and coffee are on the list of dislikes; green tea is on the list of likes. This means I'll be making no progress on my research for an article I'd planned called "things that taste great mixed with vodka."

Bummer, that.


I still do not understand the point of the miracle product, "fat free half and half." For those of you who aren't in this region, "half and half" is a traditional dairy formulation, half milk and half cream. It's popular in coffee. "Fat free half and half" is like "scotch and soda, hold the scotch." No, it's weirder than that. As a friend asked, 'what's the other half? White [pigment] no. 15?'

Apparently, the other half is corn syrup solids. (This is another byproduct of the vast corn subsidies in the US.) There are about 12 other ingredients total, but I've misplaced my list, so I can't share them. But they're not as short and sweet as a list that reads, "organic milk and organic cream," which is how it should be.

Soy is still best, of course. Though I've learned that non-fat milk is tolerable in coffee: it doesn't have the less pleasant, aftertaste-inducing aspects of fat-containing milk.

Mmmmm. Soymilk.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:13 PM

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Farmer's Market haul: canary melons (oblong, head-sized, vivid, "Naples yellow"); Korean melons (oblong, hand-length, pale yellow with darker lengthwise stripes); strawberries; basil; shady lady tomatoes; yellow onions; green bell peppers with a purplish tinge; yukon potatoes (pale, beige-skinned); black plums (though the mottled, brown ones were REALLY tasty); red plums; and white peaches.

Things I resisted, though resistance if futile: apples (though my own apple tree finished giving us fruit weeks ago). There are more winter squash. Those furry sunflowers. Lots of lemon grass. Asian pears (which I wanted, but failed to remember once I got the melons), with the pale brown skin and paler spots. Broccoli. Those jujube things which I haven't figured out. Both white and white-and-green patterend small eggplant, in addition to the Italian and Asian styles. Enormous, gorgeous lettuces. Oranges at one or two booths. And a wide range of chili peppers now: the ones with leafy greens (for home decorating); the usual long red bells; deep green, thin-walled; pale green bell; long mild; jalapeños; and a variety of tiny, nameless, hot chilies. Many local chilies are extensively crossed, and don't seem to have a familiar name.

Even though my cough is getting worse, I managed not to cough on anyone while buying their pretty food.
posted by Arlene (Beth)5:23 PM

More updates: now has about a month's worth of clipping updates. I'm not doing any comprehensive news clippings: I'm just remarking on things that strike me as symptomatic of bigger, unsolved problems inherent to the US imperialist effort. Which means that food rarely comes up. Sorry.
posted by Arlene (Beth)5:09 PM

I love Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting! FAIR: Organics and Pesticides (
A study released by Consumers Union in May found that nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables had traces of pesticides, while less than a quarter (23 percent) of organic produce had such residues. When organic food did have detectable levels of pesticides, the amounts were generally lower than in conventional produce, and organics were less likely to be contaminated with multiple chemicals (Food Additives and Contaminants, Vol. 19 No. 5).

Consumers Union released this information, appropriately enough, in a press release headlined 'Organic Foods Really Do Have Less Pesticides' (5/8/02). But that's not the story most news consumers saw.
Guess! Guess what was reported!! GUESS!!

Yes. The media reported that EVERYTHING has pesticides, so there's no need to buy organic.


Go read this. And then cancel your subscriptions to any commercial media publications. Really. There is no point in reading them. Your intelligence will actually DECREASE as their words are processed by your brain!
posted by Arlene (Beth)3:41 PM

Web page update: I have a new page up called Defeat Proposition 73. Prop 73 is a misguided California state proposition coming up for a vote, which requires anyone under 18 seeking an abortion to have a judge notify their parents.

As someone who spent many of her teenage years trying to explain basic biology to kids whose parents lied to them about where babies come from, I am HORRIFIED. Who does this help? Not already-pregnant teenagers. Not their parents, who failed to give their kids the resources to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. This could only help people who are working to give the government control over the reproductive rights of women (and girls of reproductive age), because it sure as heck isn't doing anything else. And, as has been observed elsewhere, the purpose of most systems is what they actually do (cause trouble for girls at home), rather than what they say they do ("protect teenagers" from unwanted pregnancies they already have).

California does better than states that have 'parental notification' laws, and we don't need to undermine that work now.

Also, I work in law. Judges DO NOT have time for this!
posted by Arlene (Beth)2:52 PM

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Cough! Sorry, I'm doing catch up posting again of this week's drafts. [I mark catch-up posts by listing their time as 10 p.m., though I can't recall why I think that's necessary...]

I've missed some work this week due to bronchitis, and so I've been sleeping rather than posting; also, the home network is down right now, due to some sort of crankiness on the part of our router. So I'm not even working on my own computer! [boo hoo] Hopefully, I'll be able to get a new infrared gallery up once my connection is restored...
posted by Arlene (Beth)2:40 PM

Friday, September 09, 2005

That thing here about how the rich always get more access to money than anyone else? They have that in Asia, too!. BBC NEWS | South Asia | Tsunami victims still on the streets. Apparently, certain governments structured the aid to compensate PROPERTY OWNERS ONLY.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Tsunami aid 'went to the richest':
Six months after the Asian tsunami, a leading international charity says the poorest victims have benefited the least from the massive relief effort.

A survey by Oxfam found that aid had tended to go to businesses and landowners, exacerbating the divide between rich and poor.

The poor were likely to spend much longer in refugee camps where it is harder to find work or rebuild lives.

Oxfam has called for aid to go to the poorest and most marginalised.
This is a mistake we should not make with aid for our own recent hurricane relief. Obviously.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:56 PM

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Africa NOT in peril: Imaging Famine - Africa Uncovered ( is about all of the ordinary scenes of life in Africa that aren't about disasters.

Africa is a complex continent with millions of people, skyscrapers, traffic jams, pollution, beautiful lakes, oil development, mines, cafes, beaches... But there is a sort of media blackout on showing the ordinary lives of people who aren't victims of something. It's intentional: partly, because the American media doesn't admit that anyone exists, unless they're somehow standing in the way of something we want. Partly, it's because the media of the developed world are owned by companies which would love to be in charge of Africa's resources, and they want to give the impression that no one there can care for their own affairs, and so benevolent corporate colonialism is required...

But it's still amazing that this sort of image-blackout WORKS. We should see images of developed Africa and its people all the time. But no.

Which is why this little exhibit is so nice. Go look.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

And I thought it was about being covered with playa dust. Burning Man: A foodie heaven (, 9/4/05):
All meals are free in Black Rock City, where money is taboo. Burning Man exists on a gift economy, and so sometimes burners may be required to dance for their dinner. Or, in the case of visitors to the Freaky Tiki, a motorized Tiki bar, beat the driver at blackjack.
I've never been to BM, but now that I know that cooking is one of the permitted forms of art... Well, that changes things.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Monday, September 05, 2005

Those wacky Nazis! BBC NEWS | Politics | Nazis' exploding chocolate plans (, 9/4/05) reports that newly declassified plans of food-related sabotage and terror were planned by the Germans during WWII, but didn't get far.
These ingenious objects got no further than four explosive cans of peas, which were found on German agents who landed in Ireland by small boat and claimed that they hoped to get them into Buckingham Palace. Details of this plot were reported two years ago.

The latest pictures show how a bomb could be hidden inside a chocolate bar and how explosives could be disguised as the soles of a shoe.
"Chocolate bomb(e)" is already a French dessert, which can be pretty damaging to the waistline. But an actual chocolate-covered explosive just doesn't sound classy.

[I say this now: next year, Godiva will sell them, and they'll be all the rage.]

Note that the BBC filed this item under "Politics." They don't have a 'making fun of Nazis' category, and didn't want to crowd their odd news page, I suppose, but I'm not sure this rises to the level of politics.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Posting flurry: I'm finally posting drafts and snippets of clippings going back to August 29th, which I just didn't get around to finishing until now. I've spent the last week comforting my tired eyes away from computer monitors, fighting bronchitis, and trying to catch up on social mail.


Today was the San Francisco Grand Prix bicycle race. The women's race didn't occur this year, so I lost my chance to see Nicole Cook return to win again. The men's race was interesting, though, and this year I was very leisurely about watching it.

S and I divided our time between drinking coffee at Cafe Greco at a window-side table with a view of the race, and eating a rich and filling meal at Panta Rey just a few doors down. I'd read at the former that the latter had a fabulous spinach gnocchi, served in a shiitaki mushroom and gorgonzola cream sauce, and even though I'm not a cream sauce kind of girl, I went for it. Though first, we split a plate of whole milk mozzarella and PERFECT bruschetta. (The waiter called it /broo-SKET-ta/, which made us wonder if everyone else has been messing that word up all the time.) The bread was delicious, toasted and lightly olive-oil basted; the tomato and basil topping was ultra-fresh but not too wet; the cheese was wonderful... Perfection.

The gnocchi were fabulous, but I could barely do justice to the dish: my cream sauce tolerance is so low, and even though the gorgonzola was used sparingly so as not to overwhelm the dish, and even though the sauce was very smooth... I got through about a third of it.

I couldn't have wine, because I'm fighting off that cough. Which bummed me out. Because sipping white wine and sitting at a sidewalk table as a professional bike race goes by is really delightful.


Have I mentioned that the Strauss Ice Cream is something akin to divine? Consider it said, here and now.


The sun came out this afternoon, and appears to have cleared to the ocean. This might mean that I can spend the morning sun printing! Though, because sunny mornings have been so rare, I've put all my materials away somewhere... So I'd better have a light dinner, find those supplies, and prepare some paper for use in the morning. Good night for now.
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:48 PM

A good quote to add to my earlier discussion of Katrina: Hurricane prompts awkward questions (, 9/4/05):
'We cannot allow it to be said by history that the difference between those who lived and... died... was nothing more than poverty, age or skin colour,' Congressman Elijah Cummings said.
We have a long way to go before history will judge us more kindly.


S and I have been discussing the unusual selections of images for this tragedy. When hurricanes hit Florida, there were a lot of 'can-do' images of people looking bummed about their homes, but expressing some degree of hope. For Katrina, the images have been narrower. While S showed me an image of a 19 or 20 year old black youth who had commandeered a school bus and driven his fellow New Orleans refugees (of multiple skin colors!) out to Houston, it seemed that every other image was either:

a) of a black person looking helpless
b) of a black person looking vaguely criminal, though it was unclear what they were carrying in trash bags
c) of a white soldier helping a helpless-looking black person.

There must be a reason for this. We suspect we know what that reason is.


I know no one cares what artists think, but I still found this interesting. It's from Anne Rice, author of the Vampire Chronicles, and former famous New Orleans resident. Anne Rice Criticizes Katrina Response (, 9/4/05: note that I've re-connected the divided quote).
But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us 'Sin City,' and turned your backs.
She is not criticizing all of the compassionate people who are sending money, opening their homes, or volunteering. She is criticizing the "they had it coming" types that I'm sure you've heard by now.

You know who I mean. Not people who just generally doubt the wisdom of living below sea level, but people who seem to personally resent the victims, and who are seeking excuses not to help.

At this juncture I need to praise one particular local friend, who observes that he lives in the seismically vulnerable Marina District of San Francisco, a place where the quake of '89 wrought the most damage. He likes it there; it's home; and while he understands that people might not 'get it,' he is going to stay. He might leave if he were lucky enough to have warning of peril, but that tends not to happen. So his ability to empathize with people who live with assurances from the Army Corps of Engineers that their homes are safe from flooding is higher than many.

This friend has more than made up for a mutual acquaintance, who smugly insists that he is too smart for tragedy (preventable or otherwise) to find him, and that victims (generally) are inferior to him in a variety of ways. He serves as a reminder that people without compassion for others really aren't good for much of anything. Though I suppose I already knew that.
posted by Arlene (Beth)5:54 PM

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Katrina. There is no escaping the bad news coming from Louisiana and Mississippi. Hurricane Katrina is the storm that has done what the City of New Orleans has always known would happen someday: flood the vulnerable, below-sea-level city.

The sensationalistic American media has been mixed in its coverage of this event. Our local papers have been in complete hysterics, with headlines screaming of anarchy (in the negative way), violence, and crime in what appears to be a concerted effort to blame the victims of the catastrophe for real and imagined moral failings which would justify this event. Photos of black people in despair or looking angry or dirty are preferred: those of people helping each other (which I have seen elsewhere), do not appear.

Some papers, notably the NYTimes and Washington Post, have both published more extensive photographs than others, and have covered the social aspects of this event in great detail, with less hysterics and judgment - they don't necessarily call a person entering a flooded store in search of food and water a "looter."

What is emerging: people with money got out of harm's way. Everyone else in this extremely poor region of the nation was left to fend for themselves.


New Orleans crisis shames Americans (, 9/3/05) paints a broad picture: that of poor regions suffering long-term, permanent neglect that the shoddy response to this crisis is just a normal symptom of. Quote:
The neglect that meant it took five days to get water, food, and medical care to thousands of mainly orderly African-American citizens desperately sheltering in huge downtown buildings of their native city, has been going on historically, for as long as the inadequate levees have been there.
Those British are so diplomatic.

From the NYTimes: From Margins of Society to Center of the Tragedy, by David Gonzalez (, 9/2/05):
"I assume the president's going to say he got bad intelligence, Mr. Rangel said, adding that the danger to the levees was clear.

"I think that wherever you see poverty, whether it's in the white rural community or the black urban community, you see that the resources have been sucked up into the war and tax cuts for the rich," he said.


"We tend to think of natural disasters as somehow even-handed, as somehow random," said Martín Espada, an English professor at the University of Massachusetts and poet of a decidedly leftist political bent who is Puerto Rican. "Yet it has always been thus: poor people are in danger. That is what it means to be poor. It's dangerous to be poor. It's dangerous to be black. It's dangerous to be Latino."
Also from the NYTimes: United States of Shame, by Maureen Dowd (, 9/3/05)
Ron Fournier of The Associated Press reported that the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans last year. The White House carved it to about $40 million. But President Bush and Congress agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-filled highway bill with 6,000 pet projects, including a $231 million bridge for a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.
The story emerging is not just of a storm, but of how the U.S. sidelines the poor, especially the dark-skinned poor, and how that affects everything.

The only unusual thing is that just about everyone seems to have noticed this time.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Friday, September 02, 2005

I'd never though of chain hotels this way. Or chain restaurants, or any familiar corporate products seen abroad while traveling. But perhaps I'm not afraid of other cultures? Our Aura of Security, Shattered Like Glass (, 8/30/05)
For $150 a night, the large name-brand hotel offers the illusion of safety, the assurance that you are not set down among foreign people, strange customs, incomprehensible languages.
This raises the question: if you're afraid of foreign people, strange customs, and incomprehensible languages, why travel?

This is an odd aside about the storm damage in New Orleans, and in the gulf region of the south generally. I'm a bit overwhelmed by the rest of the coverage, but will post more soon.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cannibalism theories are always unpleasant, but manage not to be the weird part of this article. There is a group of researchers who think that the human version of mad cow disease was actually caused by cattle being fed human remains. This clearly isn't as important as the revelation that forcing naturally plant-eating cattle to eat any animal's remains is what spreads mad cow and it's human variant. But what I found odd is this part of Human remains link to BSE crisis (, 9/1/05) is this:
The UK imported hundreds of thousands of tonnes of whole bones, crushed bones and carcass parts in the 1960s and 1970s to make fertiliser as well as meat and bone meal feed.
And many of these carcasses came from as far away as India.

If ever there was a potential for all sorts of bizarre insects, invasive seeds, spores, diseases, and other bad things to be spread, I would have to say it would be through sending dead animals around the world. Here in the SF Bay Area, we're having trouble just keeping our waterways from being taken over by freakish animals from other parts of the world that come over live in ship ballast water - can you imagine what happens when you spread carcasses over your land?

I'm sure there was a business decision for this. But... [expletive], couldn't they just try composting??
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

comments Return Home