Thursday, May 31, 2007

Superstitions confirmed?

You know how sometimes old churches get converted (in the non-religious sense...HAR!) into other types of buildings? I once went to a club in London that was in a modified, giant old cathedral. It was slightly cool, slightly creepy, and moderately sacrilegious (people were making out in former confessionals. Not me, I was just watching them. Um, kidding.). Anyways, some former churches in the Boston area have been converted into condos. I have always deemed such properties unlucky and would never reside in one, no matter how high the ceilings and decorative the windows. Something about it just seems wrong. In Boston, the Catholic Church had to sell property after the whole priest child abuse scandal, so there's the whole link to molestation, and even though I realize this is completely irrational, I can't help thinking that God would be mad that churches got sold off and converted into condos and would send down his wrath upon the residents.

This morning, the area around the Broadway T stop was packed with fire trucks. Why? Because one of those former church condos was on fire! See what I'm talking about?

List #34...Protein domains or band names?

I've always thought that many of the names for protein domains would make great band names. Especially for nerdy bands. Some examples:

  1. Zinc Finger
  2. Leucine Zipper
  3. Coiled Coil
  4. Helix Turn Helix

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I went to the Pops last night...

...and nobody got in a fight.

Speaking of pop, here's the answer to the age-old Pop v. Soda controversy. Cartographers... is there anything they can't do?

I've actually heard older people in the Boston area refer to soda as "tonic," but that term must be used too infrequently to make the map.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Weekend Report

Friday- Already discussed.

Saturday- I spent the day at Singing Beach (so named for the squeaking sound the sand makes when trod upon) with Carolina, Marie-Soliel, and Jess. It was a perfect beach day- hot and sunny, with a nice ocean breeze. I did dive into the water twice to cool down, but since the ocean temperature was only 50F, the experience was more painful than refreshing. Once we had our fill of sunshine, we drove up the coast a bit, stopping to admire the beautiful views in Magnolia, and then had lunch in Gloucester.

Sunday- Jon and Heather hosted a rooftop party in honor of the recently engaged Aimee and Scott, who are visiting from California. I had a great time catching up with old friends and celebrating with the happy couple. Aren't they cute?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Holiday Weekend

Theme of the day, as explained by Arrested Development:

''What have we always said is the most important thing?'' Michael asks his son.
George Michael: ''Breakfast.''
"Family,'' corrects Michael.
George Michael: ''Family, right. I thought you meant of the things you eat."

My dad had an angiogram this morning, and although he seemed relatively unperturbed by the idea, my mother was FREAKING OUT, so I went to the hospital with them both. Everything turned out well- my dad did have blockage on an artery, but they put in a stent, so he does not require bypass surgery. Whew. After that, I had lunch with my sister and my nieces, and then visited my grandmother. She had a mild stroke last week, and since she was already suffering from hip problems, she is currently staying in a rehabilitation center until she gets moving again. I was totally unprepared for how depressing the center would be- most of the patients are their permanently, suffering from the last, cruel stages of cruel old age. At one point, an old woman called me over and started repeating "help me! help me!" in a raspy voice. I wanted to grab my grandmother and hightail it out of that place, but I tried to remain positive, lest she tell everyone else that I hate it, too, and I get in trouble with the fam for not being supportive. Seeing some of the residents of that place made me consider refusing to take any more medication if I live to the age of 80.


Once I returned to the city, I stopped by Home Depot on a whim and ended up spending over a hundred dollars on flowers, planters, and topsoil, then lugged it all home and set up a little garden on my deck. Because that's a totally normal thing to do on a Friday night of a three day weekend. I'll eventually post a before-and-after picture, provided that the crazy squirrels don't destroy my handiwork, and contigent on the acquisition of a metal bistro set to replace the plastic lawn chairs. Hey, I'm almost 30. Time for an upgrade.

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend! I bought a poppy from an old VFW outside the grocery store, so I feel like I've already celebrated. Maybe I'll wear my white sandals on Monday.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Champions League final

Yesterday, I watched A.C. Milan defeat Liverpool with a few soccer buddies. A couple of years ago, I saw Liverpool come back from a 0-3 deficit to beat A.C. Milan in the final, but history did not repeat itself. We were all rooting for Liverpool, so the game was a disappointment- Liverpool dominated play, but Milan somehow managed to score two goals. I hate the way the Italian teams play- they are probably the worst divers in Europe, and somehow they keep getting the calls. Once they squeak in a cheap goal, they all sit back on defense. Maybe I'm still bitter about the World Cup. As I said to JR yesterday "Americans who don't know anything about soccer root for Italy because they like pizza and stuff, but the Italians are dirty cheaters." Oh well, we still had fun.
Hey, speaking of Italy- a possible Whitey sighting! Considering how he snitched on the Italian mafia for years, I doubt that Whitey's in Italy, if he is still alive.

Blasts from the past

Twice this week, something has come up that I haven't seen or heard in decades. First, at lunch the other day, a co-worker started choking on his sandwich (not choking choking, more of a cough-laugh-choke), and I was kidding around and started slapping him on the back (which never helps, FYI). Then, another coworkers shoots his arms straight up and starts yelling "raise your arms! raise your arms!" which made half the people at the table burst into laughter. When we were kids, if anyone ever started coughing at the dinner table, my father would always do the "raise your arms!" thing. I hadn't seen anyone do it in years, and had no idea that I was a common phenomenon.

Secondly, my older sister was about to throw away a childhood plaything until she found out that it is considered a collectors' item. Now, it's for sale on eBay. I am firmly in the anti-knickknack camp, so I can't imagine paying money for someone else's old junk, but hey, some people like this sort of thing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

One post, two unrelated subjects

The NBA lottery is tonight! Oh please, let the Celtics get number one or two...although, at this point, I don't think a talented rookie is going to fix their troubles. I'd rather see a monster trade for a proven NBA star, as long as it isn't for some jerk like Kobe or VC. If we did get Oden or Durant, though, I would definitely go to more games than I did this past season.

And now for something completely different...

Has anyone ever used one of those universal remotes? Do they work? The remote that goes with my DVD player disappeared in the midst of a St. Patrick's Day party. The machine itself has play and pause buttons, but ix-nay on the fast forward, rewind, and heaven help you if you want to turn the subtitles on or off.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Weekend Report

Friday- Went out for a sushi dinner at Zen to celebrate my roommate Ern's graduation from law school. I had never been there before and really liked it- high quality sushi and resonable prices. After dinner, we continued the celebration by drinking a zillion beers at the Hill Tavern.

Saturday- Recovered from aforementioned celebration, watched Y Tu Mamá Tambien (the 2001 film from Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón jammed packed with observations about friendship, life, and sex), played soccer, slept.

Sunday- Went to brunch with Ern's family at Brasserie Jo, which was delicious, but taught me once again that I am completely unable to pronounce anything in French. In less happy news, my grandmother is having some health trouble, so I went to visit her.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy rainy Friday

Funniest conversation of the day:

Me: I've made a decision. I'm going to stop wasting my time pursuing something that is never going to happen.

Carolina: Are you talking about love or ribosomes?

Me: I don't know. Both.

Funniest news story of the day:

Gorilla escapes from Netherlands zoo. My favorite line from the story: "Children cowered in their parents' arms as the gorilla loped past."
Reminds me a bit of when Little Joe escaped from the Franklin Park Zoo a couple of years ago.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Interspecies friendship alert!

Baby tiger triplets adopted by a dog in a China zoo. Awwwwww.
Thanks MJ and Buddes for sending me the link.

My fellow literate commuters, I'm quietly judging you

Ryan sent me this list of Books You Should Think Twice About Before Reading on the Train. Funny stuff. I liked "Giant Millipedes: The Enthusiast’s Handbook" the most. For the record, I totally peer at fellow commuter's reading material and judge them accordingly. The Fountainhead? I never want to talk to you. I got a smile and a nod from a fellow bus passenger yesterday when I pulled this out of my bag. It's looooong as hell but a great read so far.

Music Club

Earlier this year, my friend Kelly (get her Two for Tuesday music tracks here) started a CD Mix club. There are ten members, and every few months, you make a mix CD and mail it out to everyone in the group. Some are old friends from college, others are people I don’t know at all, so it’s interesting to imagine their personalities based solely upon their musical tastes and the occasionally witty group email. One of the objectives is to share music you like that you think other people might not be familiar with, so most of the artists featured are of the hipster/independent vein. Round 1 was a smashing success- I had fun making my mix (as well as a tiny bit of anxiety…like, what if they’re all trendy hipsters and think my taste is like, soooo 2005? I did manage to curb my desire to throw some G and R on for good measure.) and loved getting everyone else’s. Coming home and finding a bunch of mix CDs, some of which from complete strangers, in the mail? Greatness. I liked them all, and discovered artists such as The Be Good Tanyas and Amy Winehouse, by virtue of the music club.

Anyways, here’s the track list for my second mix CD, and I can send you a copy if you’re interested.

1. Mr. Blue Sky- Electric Light Orchestra
2. Whole Wide World- Wreckless Eric
3. Blame It On The Trains – Art Brut
4. Can’t Stand Me Now – The Libertines
5. My Coco- Stellastarr*
6. Oh, Susquehanna! – Defiance, Ohio
7. Hesitating Beauty – Billy Bragg with Wilco
8. When I Cross Over - Tift Merritt
9. Fraud in the 80s- Mates of State
10. Belinda - Mittens
11. Sister Kate – The Ditty Bops
12. Oh, You Pretty Things – David Bowie
13. Two Way Action – Andrew Bird
14. Down in the Valley- The Broken West
15. Me Gustas Tu – Manu Chao
16. La FlacaJarabe de Palo
17. Tamacun – Rodrigo Y Gabriela
18. Amor De Mi Tierra – Carlos Vives
19. Chipi Chipi - Maria Esther Zamora
20. Quedate Luna - Devendra Banhart

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Linkety links

Meg found some neat old WWII era posters, like this one to the left. You ride with Hitler! I love it.

Carmen's baby is the Spiffy Baby of the Month. In case you're wondering, that's an atomic orange Corvette he's riding in. And in case you're wondering, I believe it is perfectly fine to end sentences with prepositions. And begin them with and.

Llamas on the lloose in Dedham! via UH

Reminds me of one of my favorite Far Side cartoons:

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Dirty Wow Wow

So, Maria sent me an email with the subject line "here's a contest you should enter." Intrigued, I open the email, only to find a link to Show Us Your Dirty Wow Wow inside. Hmmmmm. I was hesitant to click on the link, but it turns out to be surprisingly SFW. A dirty wow wow is, in fact, a shabby, beat up and loved stuffed animal, doll, or blanket leftover from childhood. Those of you who know me well may already be acquainted with my beloved companion Old Spotty:

He is a leopard, whom I have had ever since I can remember. At one point, he was known only as Spotty. One day, when I was about six years old, Spotty vanished. I fell into a deep, dark depression for about six months, and my mother purchased a look-alike, whom I soon dubbed New Spotty, in an attempt to lift my spirits. Soon thereafter, the original Spotty was located (in a box that held my toy microscope) and renamed Old Spotty. He has been with me ever since. Yes, he's missing a nose, and one of his legs fell off and was reattached in a slightly akimbo fashion, but he's still the best.

Turns out my roommate Ern has her own Dirty Wow Wow, a penguin named Petey. Here he is:

And you know I couldn't resist this one- the newest interspecies friendship:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Weekend Report

Friday- After work, I joined a birthday celebration for my friend Liz at Jury's in the Back Bay. We had food and drinks at Cuffs- the food was great (tasty bar sandwiches) and the bar was packed on a sunny Friday evening, but the service was gawd awful. I then headed out to Silvertone to meet up with my roommate Ern, who had completed her very last day of law school. (For the record, I will not be done with grad school for another couple of years, so please don't ask. The lack of a finite ending can be rather depressing.) More drinks and much merriment ensured. After the celebrated guest headed home, the rest of the party continued on to the Last Hurrah (hotel bars are so HOT right now), where I tried a crazy liquor called chartreuse. This potent cordial is manufactured solely by the Carthusian Monks of France, and the color chartreuse is named after its distinct yellow-green hue. I kid you not.

"Only two monks have been entrusted by the Order with the secret of producing the liqueurs. Only these two know the ingredients. Only these two know how these ingredients are prepared for incorporation into the base of wine alcohol. What little is known is that some 130 herbs, plants, roots, leaves, and other natural bits of vegetation are soaked in alcohol for an unknown length of time, then distilled and mixed with distilled honey and sugar syrup before being put into large oaken casks and placed into the world's longest liqueur cellar for maturation."

It's tasty and goes down smooth, but these monks don't mess around. The shit is STRONG. The mere vapors coming from the glass felt like a slap to the face, and after a few sips, I went from pleasantly buzzed to totally effed up. I believe my skin was the color of chartreuse when I finally dragged myself out of bed on Saturday morning. Um, afternoon.
Saturday- Played soccer, then I went to a Brazillian restaurant named Muqueca in Inman Square with Carolina, Oscar, and Juan Martin. I had the speciality dish, moqueca, a seafood stew baked in a clay pot. Delicious! We also sampled fried yucca and sausage for an appetizer and tried the flan for dessert. The food was great, but the restaurant is small and crowded, and oddly, has no music or liquor license. The friendly staff and tasty, traditional meals make for a popular spot. When we arrived, the crowd was mostly Americans, but later on, we were the only non-Brazillians. I always consider it a good sign when an ethnic restaurant is packed with people from said country.

Sunday- Went for a long run along the beach, then spent the rest of the day in the lab. I'm planning to cook a special Mother's Day dinner for my parents tonight.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Not sure if this makes me cool or a tremendous dork

So, I sent Bill Simmons (a.k.a the ESPN Sports Guy) a link to that Don Nelson story, and he put it in his latest NBA column. "Eileen from Southie;" that's me. I didn't know it was in there until a fellow basketball fan (Durbs!) emailed me after he read it. Gotta give proper credit to my coworker Harp, who found the story and passed it along during a long day in the lab.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Speaking of the NBA, Nowitzki is going to be named MVP. I guess they couldn't give it to Nash again, but considering that the Mavs didn't make it out of the first round of the playoffs (partly due to the lackluster play of the new MVP), I don't think he's the best choice.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Highs and lows of the week, thus far

High: Paris Hilton is going to jail. AWESOME. I'm not much of a celebrity hater, but I can't stand her. At least Lindsay Lohan has a modicum of acting talent, and is actually pretty, whereas Paris is only famous for being rich and slutty. I've always thought she looked more reptilian than human- check out this old photo of her before the plastic surgery, anorexia, and fake tan.

Low: One of my coworkers caught me wrapping a muffin (leftover from someone else's breakfast meeting) in a paper napkin and stashing it in my purse. Because, apparently, I've turned into my grandmother.

Movie review: Hot Fuzz

Last night, I saw Hot Fuzz, the newest film from the creators of my favorite Zom Rom Com, Shaun of the Dead. This time, they take on the buddy cop action genre, in a spoof film that is more tribute than parody. Sergeant Nicholas Angel, played by Simon Pegg, is a London policeman (er, police officer) who has been making the rest of the department look bad due to his stellar arrest record and utter devotion to his job. To get rid of him, his superior officers transfer him to Sandford, a small village in the rural English countryside. Sergeant Angel spends an exasperating few weeks chasing swans and and slowly warms to his bumbling, Point Break- obsessed sidekick Danny. Little does everyone know, a mass murderer lurks within this gentle community, but Angel and Danny are the only ones pursuing the case, because the rest of the town writes off the homicides as a string of accidents. That's all you really need to know in terms of plot. Hot Fuzz is very silly and very British, and I did enjoy it, although not nearly as much as Shaun of the Dead. It starts off slowly, but the lengthy grand finale (filled with hilarious dialogue and ridiculous action scenes) is worth the wait.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The NBA, still faaaaantastic

Golden State coach Don Nelson has been told by the league not to bring beer to interviews anymore:

``We talked to the team,'' NBA spokesman Tim Frank said in an e-mail. ``It won't happen anymore.'' Nelson, 66, brought a can of Bud Light into the interview room on more than one occasion during his team's opening-round upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks. After the series-clinching win on May 3, Nelson was watching the Turner Network Television broadcast while waiting to begin his press conference. Charles Barkley, a Turner analyst who had picked the Mavericks, was wearing a ``We Believe'' T- shirt worn by fans of the Warriors. According to a Sports Illustrated account, Nelson raised his beer and called out, ``The Chuckster,'' referring to Barkley. Warriors spokesman Raymond Ridder said the team received the league's directive.

Um, how much do I love Don Nelson after reading this? He drinks cans of Bud Light and gives shout-outs to "The Chuckster?" Go Warriors!

Speaking of Barkley, he's quoted in today's Metro as saying "Danny Ainge turned the Celtics into the Clippers." Times have been tough for C's fans, well, ever since Ainge took over.

Book Review: Snow

I just finished the Nobel Prize winning novel from Turkey, Snow, by Orhan Panuk. I must say I was underwhelmed, and I struggled to get through it. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it much either. The story is about a fictional poet named Ka, who returns to Turkey after a long political exile in Germany. He travels to the remote city of Kars to do some reporting and track down a female college acquaintance, the recently divorced Ipek. He soon finds himself in the midst of a military coup. A nationalist actor with political aspirations has joined forces with an Army officer and a few leftist rebels and taken over the city in an attempt to forcibly extinguish the militant Islamists in the region. Politically charged violence and poverty are such common occurrences in Kars, the majority of the populace simply shrug off the newest development, preferring to stay indoors and watch the telenovelas.
The political aspect of Snow was the most interesting to me. I know almost nothing about Turkey and found the glimpses of history interesting. Overall, the book paints a very depressing picture. Islamic extremists want nothing more than to kill all of the non-believers, which is a difficult viewpoint for me to understand. Hate your oppressors, sure. Hate those who do you harm, understandable. But hating everyone who does not share your religious beliefs, to the extent that killing them is nothing to you? This I have trouble comprehending. The most poignant chapter in the book is a transcript of a conversation between the headmaster of a local school and his assassin, who kills him for enforcing a government policy that bans Muslim girls from wearing head scarves to school. The determination of the killer, his cold demeanor and lack of rationality as he questions and kills the old man are absolutely frightening. As a result of the militant Islamic threat, the secular government is backed into a corner, and adopts a “get them before they get us” mentality, and the ethical lines blur as they, in turn, resort to torture, spying, and murder of their enemies, both real and perceived. See what I mean about depressing? Another striking aspect of the book that is the massive inferiority complex all of the characters seem to have: they claim to hate the West (mostly referring to Europe), yet they all seem obsessed with what Europe thinks of them. At one point, Ka collects various statements to send to be published in Germany. “Tell them Turks are independent thinkers! Tell them we don’t want to be like them! We’re not stupid, we’re just poor,” they clamor. The thing is, the West doesn’t think they are poor or stupid, the West just doesn’t think about them.
So, here’s what I didn’t like about the book: The love story was distracting and ridiculous. Beautiful Ipek and her beautiful sister are never once described without mentioning their beauty (so beautiful that Ka sometimes can’t decide which one he’s in love with!) and come across as idealized male fantasies and not real people. In the past, I have been surprised by how well some male authors can craft their female characters (Memoirs of a Geisha and Never Let Me Go are two examples of novels that do this wonderfully), but Snow is perhaps the worst example of a male writing a female I have ever read. This could be a translation effect, since the book was originally written in Turkish. The plot gets jumbled in places- for example, Ka originally goes to Kars to report on a recent rash of suicides, and the early part of the novel (and the blurb on the back cover) devote a lot of page space to this phenomenon, but it is never really mentioned again.
Overall, Snow was thought-provoking and depressing, but not very well written or organized.

Anyone read anything good lately? I need a new book now that I’ve finally finished this one.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Weekend Report

Friday- Still fighting off a cold, I went to Pho Pasteur with Carolina and ate a giant bowl of spicy soup for dinner. At home, I watched Dreamgirls, the movie adaptation of the musical based on the Supremes. Three young women from Detroit get their big break by singing backup for a well-known soul performer James "Thunder" Early, played by Eddie Murphy, who probably would have won as Oscar for the role had he not decided to follow it up with Norbit. Under the guidance of their ambitious manager Curtis, played by Jamie Foxx, the girls become pop stars, and the drama and backstabbing begins. The performances were all excellent- Jennifer Hudson does have an amazing voice and was perfectly cast as Effie, although thought her character was a little too stereotypical Big Angry Black Woman. I've heard people criticize Beyoncé, but I thought she was also a natural for her role as the pretty one with less talent but more marketability, kind of like how Eminem did a great job portraying a white rapper from Detroit in 8 Mile. Anika Noni Rose is the underrated Dreamgirl- her part wasn't as big, but her subtlety went a long way. Overall, I liked the movie but thought it could have been better. The musical format didn't appeal me- I would have preferred to keep all of the songs as performances or rehersals, and not have the characters occasionally burst into musical dialogue. I also thought the tempo started off strong and dragged through the middle of the film, only to be picked up by the reappearance of Effie towards the end.

Oh, I finally joined Netflix. If you have an account and want to do be Netfilx friends, drop me a line in the comments. I'll show you my queue if you show me yours.

Saturday- Went to a Mexican-themed surprise party for Lori’s 30th birthday. Good times. Learned what happened when adults hit piñatas with baseball bats instead of whiffle bats- the excitement factor goes up exponentially. I continued on with the 5 de Mayo theme by having a delicious taco dinner, complete with muchas margaritas, at Lisa’s house.

Sunday- I attended the first birthday party for the son of my friends Carlos and Pilar. No piñata, but lots of food and booze. You know you’re getting older when there are children and babies at the same party as you. I ran some errands in Framingham and caught the Suns vs. Spurs (a.k.a The Real NBA Finals) game with my dad. I have complete point guard envy. Forget about Durant or Oden, the Celtics should trade whatever it takes to get a top-notch veteran point guard. Steve Nash certainly looked like an MVP, and I bet if his gushing nose wound hadn’t kept him on the bench, the Suns would have won. In other news, Roger Clemens signs with the Yanks. As if Red Sox Nation needed another reason to despise either of those two parties. I hope he comes to Fenway and serves up meatballs.

Friday, May 04, 2007

I wonder how they feel about gravity and heliocentrism?

Three out of ten Republican presidential candidates do not believe in evolution: Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, and Tom Tancredo.

From the article:

"None is a front-runner but even so there will be American scientists who will feel deeply depressed that serious politicians in 2007 can be disputing the entire thrust of modern knowledge about how the world was formed and how it, well, evolved."

Count me as one of those depressed American scientists. Evolution is not a matter of opinion, it is a scientific fact. If you do not "believe" in it, you are STUPID and WRONG and should not be running for President of a modern nation.

Feliz 4 de Mayo

It's Friday, it's a gorgeous day outside, and I have a TERRIBLE head cold. Boooo.

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday I've never really gotten into (I don't need an excuse to drink margaritas and eat Mexican food), but nevertheless, here's some themed music for you all.

From Mexico: Se Me Olvido Otra Vez, by Maná. I've always thought the lead singer sounded like Sting, well, if Sting sang in Spanish, that is.

Not from Mexico, but about a Mexican: Pancho Villa, by Sun Kil Moon.

Happy weekend, everyone. I'll try to be a bit better about posting next week.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Looking for trouble?

I know Amber Alerts aren't supposed to be funny, but I couldn't help but snicker at this one I just saw on

"AMBER ALERT: Massachusetts State Police are looking for a 12-year-old Stoneham boy, Gary Michael Duff-Turcotte. Michael is believed to be with his mother, Samantha Bedley, possibly traveling in a 1998 White Dodge Ram, NH license plate TROUBL. Police said that the boy is in danger because he needs medication that he does not have with him. --Developing"