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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What I'm up to when I should be writing about food. I'm trying to do too many things at once.

I am working, full time, in South San Francisco.

The thing I've done more than any other of the last few weeks is editing photos for my stock agency: my library of images available for license at Alamy is currently just 184 images, which is far less than is recommended, and less than my personal goal of 500 by the end of my first year with them. I have time to get there, but the film scanning and editing is slow going. I'm waiting for a batch that's in their queue to go through, which will help me break 200 and motivate me to send the next big batch. Oh, and I've downloaded the new software which should help get my keywording done faster. I've done lots of software testing lately. It's so exciting I... can... hardleeeee... descri.... zzzzzzzzzz.

I am writing articles. My article (written under my middle name) on how to make a custom photo album by hand is one of the main features of the Newsletter for March 2006 (

I am doing chores. *yawn*

Sign for Lipo Cocktails in San Francisco's ChinatownI was doing experiments on how to print Vandykes, another antique printing process that I've had mixed results with. I have some images I like, and I've made them into negatives I like, but I'm still not getting quite the effect I'm after. A sample from Four Vandykes from my portfolio site is provided here (large!): these prints are part of a much larger series on signs (especially cool old neon signs) that I've been working on since 2004.

Then there is My Lomohome, where I'm now up to nine public albums (and finally put up a draft of my City Tips, though it won't be anywhere near finished until I put up a photo of a BIKE as the way to get around). I have three or four albums that I haven't had time to post yet.

I did my taxes. Wheee.

I'm nearly caught up on my letter writing and e-mail reading. Nearly. I'm trying to choose an image for my next series of glossy postcards for my correspondents.

I'm cooking from-scratch meals every day, and enjoying the winter-spring bounty of the farmer's market. I recently figured out that a mere 1.5 teaspoons of rosemary pesto and six cloves of garlic, when blended with a big can of roasted organic tomatoes, makes a DELIGHTFUL pasta sauce. Who knew?

I'm badgering people about what they ate for dinner as a child. (It's not doing me a darned bit of good.)

I'm planning dozens of art projects, most of which involve photography, some of which involve bookbinding, and some of which combine both. I'm also supposed to be working out a list of chemicals and other supplies I need, but I keep being bogged down in day-to-day existence.

I'm catching up on my news reading via the big stack of issues of The Nation, which I consider to be the best big-picture news source out there.

But I will be writing about food again SOON. Really.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:38 PM

Saturday, February 25, 2006

End of February Farmer's Market. Foul weather, family visits, and fanatical photo editing have kept me away from the farmer's market for a while, but I was thrilled to fill my cloth sacks with produce today. I could not resist:

-a bouquet of narcissus, which you could smell from many stalls away, and which are simply LOVELY
-pomelo (one) - this is larger than my head.
-10 pounds of small navel oranges. Oranges have been PERFECT lately, and we paid $2, so we're bound to get our money's worth
-early tomatoes (small, round, likely early girl)
-avocados (the smooth-skinned kind)
-green bell peppers (most on display at the booth where I bought them were showing their age; if I didn't know the grower regularly has them, I'd suspect that they were second hand peppers...)
-gai lon (sometimes called Chinese broccoli)
-gai choy (the greener version of bok choy)
-pears, which I think should be called golden pears (sometimes called Asian pears). These have gold-brown skin, lighter than d'anjous, with paler gold spots. These always taste like they've been soaked in liqueur. It's just amazing. The ones I bought today are nice and firm, but have many bruised-looking spots on the skin. However, they're only skin-deep: they're perfect once peeled, with no bruises at all. I'm so glad I had a taste, or I would have let their appearance fool me into avoiding them.
-red potatoes
-yellow/gold potatoes (Yukon gold?)
-red lettuce (at least three times the size of the lettuces at my local produce store)
-prepared foods from Sukhi's: spinach parathas, baigan bharta spread, channa masala spread
-olive oil from Bariani. The samples taste SOO GOOD.

Things I resisted: Fuji apples, walnuts, peanuts, cabbages (red and green), carrots, celery, lemons, grapefruit (from inland southern California), winter squash (the last of the butternut, plus some Hubbard-like giants), enormous grayish things which I think are a type of bitter melon, blue potatoes, fresh apple juice and cider, baby spinach, tangerines, kiwi fruit, dried stone fruit (nectarines, peaches, etc.), honey, olives, parsley, cilantro, broccoli, cauliflower, and strawberries (!!!) at $12 for half a flat, which is more than twice what I'll pay in the peak of the season. There were other prepared food booths selling pastries, kettle corn, breads, and tamales.

I'd been hoping for cherry tomatoes, but those haven't made an appearance yet: the ones at my grocer are from Mexico, and are underripe. It's still too early.

We went late in the morning, after the really dedicated people who slam into you were done with their shopping: it was quite low key. Some farmers I buy from late in the year aren't there yet, since it's so early in the season. It was friendly, but not exuberant. But I left contented.

I am so lucky to live in a place that has this level of local bounty!
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:37 PM

Back at the keyboard.interior view of Cafe Greco at night, San Francisco's North Beach district Where have I been? I received the first break in work, excluding Xmas, since last July, and so I did what anyone in my position would do: I forbade myself to have any fun, and instead spent much of the last two weeks editing images for my stock agency.

Oh, come on. You know you DREAM of living the way I do. Stop denying it.

Anyway, I made decent progress, and now that I know I'll be working again all this week, I figure I'd might as well have some fun (really, this is fun, take my word for it) now. I spent the day taking photos, and I'm catching up on posts just a bit. I should be up to the usual seasonal torrent soon.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:32 PM

Worst food related play on words of the day: from the columnist I'm reading the most right now, Achenblog: Daily Humor and Observations from Joel Achenbach:
This may have come to many viewers as a surprise: There is Jimmy Carter Wine. The former president didn't say how he made it, but you know what it's probably called: peanut noir.

It hurts, but it's still too funny.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:35 PM

Friday, February 24, 2006

I propose a toast. I'm having a hard time finding a permalink for an image that I DESPERATELY want to share.

If you have flash, you can look through this Washington Post Day In Photos Gallery and go to the 5th picture. Or you can see a different and quite attractive image of the same object at Getty images here, though I don't know how long it will be there.

What am I trying to show you? Photos of the world's largest toasted bread mosaic, which was made in celebration of the first anniversary of a food (or bread) theme park in Funabashi, Japan. 8,500 pieces of toast were used.

This can only come as a disappointment for the makers of [A Welsh View]: The World's [Second] Largest Toast Mosaic, which used 400 loaves of bread and... is... of... Dame Edna.

No additional information on the food (or bread) theme park is forthcoming, which is quite discouraging.
posted by Arlene (Beth)11:06 AM

Beans. From Achenblog: Daily Humor and Observations from Joel Achenbach: Achenblog Recipe for Quick Beans selected quote from a long, parody recipe (not recommended for vegetarians):
They think of beans as an exotic, fussy type of food that only the most skilled chefs can prepare, liked potatoes Dauphinoise or shrimp quenelles or medallions of ferret.
This is the most entertaining recipe I've read in a while.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:17 AM

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

If only the State of the Union address hadn't actually provided this sort of fodder, and had instead been respectable. Our loss is the humorists' gain. McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Terrifying Bioengineered Animal-Snack Hybrids Not Mentioned as Potential Threats During the State of the Union Address.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:39 PM

Humor link of the moment: McSweeney's Internet Tendency: The Five Most Dangerous Children's Books Ever Written, According to Sean Hannity.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:32 PM

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Fun with the Vice President

With all the secrecy, bloodlust, and misinformation coming out of the Bush Administration, nothing said fun like the VP accidentally shooting another millionaire in the face with a shotgun, and then trying to squelch the story.

I've had a few favorite links on this tale, and I'll print 'em here:
Achenblog: Daily Humor and Observations from Joel Achenbach: White House Slow to Reveal Burr-Hamilton Duel (, 02/13/2006): a discussion of the last time a sitting VP was involved in a shooting incident. Scandal! Libel! Wasted dueling shots! It's a good tale. Also fun from the Achenblog: Cheney's Hunting Mishap: What Really Happened (2/16/06), in which Joel speculates that the person claiming to be Whittington is an IMPOSTER.

Also cited in the Post, there is White House Briefing: Salon's War Room transcribes Stewart's dialogue with "correspondent" Rob Corddry on the Daily Show, which shares a lengthy transcription from the famous parody news show, of which I provide just this taste:
Stewart: But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?

Corddry: Jon, in a post-9/11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak.
You really must go and read the whole thing: it is just a millimeter away from being a completely accurate version of just about anything that's come out of official channels on any other subject.

There is and a video game at the Huffington website called cheneyhunt.

I also enjoyed Don Asmussen's cartoon Bad Reporter, including Was Whittington Shooting Based on Faulty Intel? and Liberal Media Not Reporting on Parts of Whittington that Didn't Get Shot, which includes a representation that the entire incident may have been caused by... wait for it... "Shooter Libby."

This whole event is resulting in funnier material than when the White House spokesman said that Bush didn't mean what he said in the State of the Union about giving up our addiction to foreign oil LITERALLY, or when AG Gonzales said that the founding fathers also had a tradition of using unauthorized electronic surveillance. Though the funny material the WH produces directly is always a bit frightening.


My friend Peter showed me an episode of the Dave Chappell show, in which Chappell reversed the police and judicial system responses to charges pending against an urban drug dealer and a corporate embezzler, so that the drug dealer required the prosecutor to schedule appointments to interview him [along with the other perks of corporate crime, including periodic winking of the officers involved], and the white collar criminal was abused and humiliated throughout the process. This whole incident, replete with the authorities being turned away and forced to schedule interviews to ask about what happened, was a reminder of that parody, and the underlying truth of the separated class system within our justice system.

Oooh, there's always a lesson, just like in an after school special!
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Quote of the Day. From Achenblog: Daily Humor and Observations from Joel Achenbach, discussing the military experience of members of the current administration:
George W. Bush has flown airplanes, many of them folded from his personal stationery.
There are other zingers, but this is my favorite one in this entry.
posted by Arlene (Beth)3:49 PM

Monday, February 13, 2006

fisheye view of San Francisco City Hall rotundaI'm on a mental vacation! While I have been developing content for my new website features, I have also been running around like a fiend, taking photos with a fisheye lens I got from the folks at Lomo. But I can't post them to my lomohome because they are moving the images over to a new server.

So instead of posting the results of my lengthy food interview with my mother (who doesn't make what she had for dinner as a kid, either), or Steven's collections of extraordinarily negative interpretations of otherwise cheerful fortune cookie fortunes, I am spending my time staring at my screen, oohing and aahing over not-quite-round images.

This phase might pass. Really. I'm working on it.
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:32 PM

Sunday, February 05, 2006

February! Time flies when you're falling behind in your photographic projects! :-) Actually, since the rain stopped and the sky became gloriously clear this morning, I did go out and try out a fun, fish-eye lens today, and now I realize that it's a toy which has a great deal of fun potential. Which is what I was hoping!


I'm enjoying the Lunar New Year festivities. SF's Chinatown is very festive, and seeing people walking around with flowering quince branches, gladiolas, and oranges is cheerful. I have a peculiar Hello Kitty new year banner in my window (even though HK is the product of a Japanese-based company), which is unusual because it has HK dressed as both male and female characters wishing you a great new year. I've never seen HK in a traditional, Chinese, male outfit before!

The Chinese New Year Parade is coming up on Saturday, February 11th. I'm looking forward to it! Even though it's difficult to photograph nighttime parades in the rain! :-0


I haven't been blogging much, because I strained one of my wrists at work, moving one of those improbably heavy, double-long boxes that keep appearing at inconvenient times. So I'm trying to give it rest. It does feel better, and I hope to avoid doing any heavy lifting until it feels "normal" again.


I'm currently gathering reports about what more people ate in childhood at dinner to compare with what they eat now. A few of my friends are having a hard time describing the foods they had at home, and note that the descriptions in the stores aren't REALLY what some of the ingredients are called, which complicates their efforts.

Thinking back on dishes I have had in the homes of friends which are hard to describe, I think of some of the dishes that my high school friend Judy's grandparents used to cook for us. They were from Shanghai, and were the only people I knew who made DELICIOUS dishes with that very thin bean curd sheet I sometimes see in stores. They would roll the bean curd up, fry it, and put it in soups and stir fries... It was SO GOOD, and yet I never get to eat that anymore. I never see it in restaurants, and few of my friends live with their parents anymore to try to smuggle me in and get to eat the dishes at home. So I'm out of luck!

I hope to have more food lists to post in a few weeks.
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:18 PM

Mmmmmm. I might not have mentioned this, but I'd LOVE to go see Africa. I bought a Lonely Planet book on planning a trip through Africa, and the preparations and time involved in such a project, and was DELIGHTED by it. (The woman beside me in the store when I bought it was agonizing over which trip to research... We both kept hovering over the Africa section, clearly wanting to take trips we couldn't currently afford... The book, by the way, is currently on loan to Monique, who will hopefully update her blog about her 2005 trip around Asia. On a related note, Cindy is updating her blog about her 2006 hike on Kilimanjaro and safari!! Oh, the wanderlust that talking to her, and reading about her trip, gives me...)

I would especially love to see Ethiopia and Eritrea, which have fantastic architecture, port cities with a mix of cultures and art styles, and FABULOUS, heavenly, addictive food.

So I couldn't help but read this article: A Taste of Ghana - New York Times (2/1/06) about the street foods of Ghana. Here's a tiny sample:
From rough-hewn sheds, women sell sharp wedges of starchy yam, perfectly fried in splendorously saturated palm oil and slathered with a fiery sauce of pulverized Scotch bonnet peppers and garlic.
Ooooh, Scotch bonnet peppers. That HAS to be good!

The article does say some odd things: there is a hierarchy of food vendors, with the men selling the meat and dairy dishes (which are expensive, because such items are luxuries) and the women selling prepared veggies and difficult-to-make foods. I think that would simplify my food shopping quite a bit!

Reading the article makes me think I should be THERE, instead of HERE, in front of my computer... But obviously I'm here. Which is fine, especially after I make myself a nice soy milk with hot-chili-pepper cocoa to warm me up!
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:00 PM

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