October 28, 2005


In the early days of indicating the electronic nature of a thing by prepending "e" to it, the "e" was usually set off by a hyphen. E-mail, an e-card, e-file your taxes, and so on. The hyphen has dropped off in a number of the most common uses, such as email. Evite, the nifty online service by which one can create a viewable profile for one's party and invite a large group of one's friends conveniently, uses no hyphen. The messages it sends out proclaim its name, evite, boldly and without interruption.

There is a small problem with this which certain readers may have noticed upon looking at that bolded word. In Spanish there exists a verb evitar, which is conjugated in the imperative as evite. It means "to avoid", and can be found conjugated thusly in various common warnings; I saw it yesterday on the plastic wrapping around a roll of toilet paper, suggesting that the reader avoid the risk of suffocation by not placing the plastic in the beds or cribs of sus hijos.

And you wonder why I never come to parties? It's because the invitations themselves suggest to me that I would be wise not to attend. I can take a hint, you know.

Posted by dianna at 04:26 PM

October 26, 2005


Dear Ms Woolsey,

Your request for a Change of College and Re-admission to the College
of Letters and Science has been approved.

Two -- three? -- years ago, I walked out of an information session on changing colleges, locked myself in a bathroom stall in Campbell Hall, and sat staring at the wall and shaking for ten minutes because I'd just seen the rest of my education go flying out the window. I had too many units and too low a GPA, I'd learned, to change colleges so I could declare anthropology as my major and finish my degree. I sure as fuck wasn't going to be able to graduate as an architecture major. I'd missed the change-of-college deadline for the current semester anyway, and every semester thereafter that I took classes I'd be making myself less eligible. That was the reason I dropped out the next semester -- not my sudden loss of family funding, and not my terminal academic burnout, although those were good short answers to give people who asked why I wasn't in school.

I've been variously depressed, apathetic, anxious, avoidant, terrified, and panicked about this since spring 2003, but it's the last month that's really been killing me. My ability to graduate has been squished into a thin stack of papers on someone's desk in the College of Letters & Sciences advising office, completely out of my hands. If the owner of that desk isn't too tired and cranky upon reading my essay, and decides to overlook my GPA and let me come within a hairsbreadth of too many units, then it's me in a funny square hat in a year's time. And if not? I've had nightmares about if-not.

Dear Ms Woolsey,

Your request for a Change of College and Re-admission to the College
of Letters and Science has been approved.

Dear College of Letters & Sciences,

I love you.

Posted by dianna at 11:10 PM

I guess that's one way to do it.

Goddamn hippies and their goddamn loopholes.

I bought a ridiculous hippie personal care product last week: Mandarin Orange Patchouli fragrance herbal deodorant. When I took off the lid and took a sniff, it smelled like orange with a hint of something else that was hard to place. I'm not terribly familiar with the scent of patchouli, but I did think it reminded me of something.

It doesn't seem to be doing very much, anyway. As far as I can tell, my armpits smell like armpits, rather than like mandarin oranges. I'd like to say that this means that it isn't working as advertised. But in re-evaluating the fragrance of the deodorant itself, I've just discovered a critical hole in my argument. Whereas, my armpits smell like armpits, and whereas, the deodorant smells like patchouli, and whereas, patchouli appears to smell pretty much like armpits... I cannot say with any certainty that it isn't working exactly as intended.

It's a fairly brilliant approach to ensuring effectiveness, really. In other news, I've purchased a home air freshener which is absolutely guaranteed to make my house smell like cats and garlic.

Posted by dianna at 10:34 AM

October 25, 2005

Red Asphalt for suburban pet owners.

Here, for your perusal, is Day Four of the mauling of my right leg. We have a general overview of the carnage, a spectacular shot of the bruising around the major puncture wounds, a nice panorama of the long slashes around my knee, and finally a sexy slice of inner thigh, or at least, a sexy gash on my inner thigh. Be glad I don't have a better macro feature on my camera, or that last picture would include stunning details of clawed-up flaps of skin.

I'm still wondering how much of that bruising was caused by subcutaneous bleeding and how much can be explained by the momentum of fifteen pounds of cat at Angry miles per hour. It kind of looks like he just hauled off and punched me, doesn't it? Local Cat Wins Boxing Title; Feline First In Featherweight; Mittens, Not Gloves, For Newest Champ. Story at 11.

Posted by dianna at 09:13 PM

October 24, 2005

In the name of all that is holy!

I've just made the most delicious cookies of all delicious cookies anywhere in the universe. There have never been such delicious cookies before in the history of mankind. These cookies are a tour de force, a masterpiece, a grand demonstration of my cookie-making brilliance. They're also warm out of the oven right now, and I, having been called for jury duty this morning but dismissed without having to serve on a jury, am at home with nothing to do but feast my eyes, nose, mouth and all other sensory organs (what do cookies sound like?) on these delectable cookies.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cherry Cookies

1 cup Earth Balance, softened
1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
1 tbsp. Ener-G egg replacer
4 tbsp. soymilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups quick oats
1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 to 1 cup sweetened sour cherries (I got these in bulk at Berkeley Bowl -- they're semi-dried but very soft, and taste like cherry pie)

Mix all ingredients together in a huge bowl, drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 10 minutes (turning cookie sheet around once halfway through baking).

For soft, delicious, wonderful cookies, take them out after 10 minutes when they're still extremely soft and underdone-looking. They'll firm as they cool. For hard, nasty, crunchy cookies that are an insult to this recipe, leave them in longer and then repeat ten times, "I should have taken them out after 10 minutes."

Posted by dianna at 01:50 PM

October 23, 2005

And though I'd like to stand by him....

We saw The Corpse Bride last night. I do not find myself impressed.

The essential problem can, I think, be encapsulated by the following statement: when I walked out of the theater after watching this delightful musical tour de force, I had Sally's solo song from The Nightmare Before Christmas stuck in my head. If you're going to beg to be compared to a movie that most of your audience saw and loved, you'd better not fall short of it. Corpse Bride falls short -- the songs aren't as infectious, the characters not as interesting, and the plot not as clever as Nightmare Before Christmas.

Plot? It's set up five minutes in that there are only two ways the story can go. Victor can wind up with the sweet girl who mopes around doing what her parents tell her to, or he can wind up with the sweet girl who mopes around listening to a spider and a maggot singing about how she's got a wonderful personality. This does not make for a complex and engaging storyline. It's a little like the Sunfire romance novels that were being discussed around here the other week; at the end our helpless protagonist will wind up with one of the two love interests and the rest of the story will be wrapped up in a sentence or two.

Zach said that Corpse Bride was done "by the numbers". I tend to agree. There was the requisite self-doubting hero, the requisite tragic heroine (well, two of them, I suppose), the requisite jazzy-cool song with flashy blacklight backgrounds, even the requisite dead dog, for pete's sake. But the self-doubting hero doesn't ever develop any redeeming passion, the tragic heroines are as passive as tragic heroines have ever been, and Oogy Boogy's only interest in that song would have been to put its writers on his roulette wheel and spin them until they were sorry.

The songs are a major sticking point for me. You know that thing that happens when a songwriter isn't coming up with any good, tight, clever way to put words to melodies and instead just writes long wandering lines that can soooooort of be forced to follow a rather tortured tune but you're certainly not going to get them stuck in your head or start singing them yourself? (Katie: it's the thing that Midtown did with every song on Forget What You Know.) Most of the songs in the movie suffer from that. Maybe someone with more musical sophistication than I would appreciate their complexity; me, I just found them not as catchy and memorable as songs in a musical should be.

I understand that it isn't possible for every single thing that Danny Elfman, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp do to be the height of brilliance and the pinnacle of their respective careers. I heard that once in 1995 Tim Burton went to the bathroom and failed to excrete gold. Nonetheless, I am disappointed.

In other movie news, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is great. Aardman Animation is an unstoppable brilliance machine, tirelessly working the pedals on the brilliance engine for days on end without rest. The jokes are funny, the animation is brilliant (Gromit's eyebrows are more expressive than most live human actors I've seen), the characters are charming and the story is sweet. Save your Corpse Bride pennies and go see Were-Rabbit instead.

Posted by dianna at 08:13 PM

October 22, 2005

Gato Maulo.

I've just been mauled by one of our neighborhood cats, and I've got the pictures to prove it.

Gato Malo is large, aggressive, and totally unimpressed by humans. I think he's owned by someone in the neighborhood -- he's well-fed, clean, and in apparent vigorous good health -- but I don't know for sure since the only place I've personally seen him is in our yard. To be more specific, the only place I've personally seen him is in our yard chasing, cornering, or attacking our cats. He used to herd Killer into a corner of the upstairs porch and then refuse to run away when the door was flung open by a bellowing six-foot-four-inch human. He'd stay exactly where he was and just scream at us until we got a weapon of some kind to scare him off with. Gato Malo, I should point out, is not his name but rather the epithet that we've given him on the basis of overwhelming evidence.

This morning, he swiped and yowled Bella into a corner of our front porch and trapped her there. Jacob opened the door, yelled at him to no avail, and then grabbed a bundle of tomato stakes and whacked him with it. Gato Malo took off running around the side of the house and, for some dumbfuck feline reason, Bella followed him. I was in the kitchen and heard the yowling start up again at the back door, so I got up to open it at the same time that Jacob slammed the front door and came stomping back through the house. I found Bella huddling in the corner of the porch, with Gato Malo standing just barely close enough to the door to block her from running inside. With incredible absence of common sense, I kicked a foot toward him to make him back off a few inches. But instead of backing off, of course, he launched himself at my knee and dug his claws in hard enough to suspend himself from my flesh. I can tell you now with certainty that that is at least a 15-pound cat.

I shrieked wildly and stood there like an idiot sprouting a crazed leg-cat, and after a few extra swipes for good measure he dropped off and bolted out of the yard. Jacob burst into the kitchen holding the tomato stakes, which he'd been bringing to fend off Gato Malo, and I turned to him in shock with my right pants leg ripped to shreds and told him I'd just done something really amazingly stupid.

How stupid?

Pretty stupid. Monkey, don't kick sharp things anymore, okay?

Posted by dianna at 02:16 PM

October 20, 2005

Hey, now, hey now now

I've been listening to a lot of Sisters of Mercy lately. I blame my sister, who went from force-feeding me Def Leppard to force-feeding me Pearl Jam to force-feeding me Dead Can Dance over the course of the 14 years that we shared a bedroom. A few months ago when I nabbed Jacob's copy of the album Floodland so I could listen to it on BART, I was shocked to realize that I knew the whole damn thing by heart and could, if I were willing to do so, sing every song at least up to track six. Katie's influence on my young impressionable mind notwithstanding, I must admit that I liked the album then and I like it now. I just have a few things I need to point out.

One is that, as Katie and I did discuss on some recent occasion, if you attempted to describe any given song on the album to someone and have them recreate it just from the description, it wouldn't work. Take, for instance, "This Corrosion", the 10-minute monstrosity with only three actual verses. "See, okay, it's got a chorus of female backing vocals and they spend most of the song singing 'hey now, hey now now' and when they're not doing that it's pretty much 'ohhhh-ohh, oooohhh'." Go on, imagine it. It comes out gospel, right? Gospel all the way.

Two, the whole damn thing is a forest of mondegreens. The very first song promises, someday, something that sounds like Vermillion or Subliminal or The Million (dollars? for me?) or maybe even Perennial, but turns out to be actually Dominion. I was certain for years that I was being beseeched to sing, not this corrosion, but mixed emotion. And the thought of living in filth for the sake of Russia always made me shudder in a way that living in films does not. Jacob, for his part, found it more likely that he was hearing a vampire down than, say, an empire.

Three, I absolutely cannot hear the first verse of "This Corrosion" without seeing it in my mind as a music video. "Gimme sirens, child," they say, and that's all normal and fine, but then the backing chorus shrieks, "Gimme the ring!" and I picture a menacing crowd of Black Riders leaning forward and shaking skeletal fingers to the music. "Hey!" Frodo exclaims, clutching the ring, and the Black Riders shout, "Now!" And then they all break into the aforementioned gospel chorus and this is why you may see me on BART shaking my head violently to try to clear it. I can't imagine who would be more embarrassed, J.R.R. Tolkein or the Sisters of Mercy. Probably the latter, since the lone remaining Sister is now specializing in embarrassed denial of everything he can get away with. Goth? No. I'm not goth.

And you were born with the last name Eldritch, too, I'm just sure.

Posted by dianna at 02:05 PM

October 13, 2005

Oh, adhere to me, for we are bound by symmetry

I'm having a passionate love affair with a song called "Red Right Ankle" by The Decemberists. I was introduced to it by a mix CD that one of Jacob's labmates made, which Jacob brought home and played at me until I started to like it. The track listing reads like a correctly filled-out Application For Indie Cred, being composed of a half-dozen bands I've never heard and at least four that I've never even heard of. Not that I'm any good standard, since I never hear about anything, but still.

One of the other things on the CD that I'm swooning over is a song by Air called "Mike Mills". That's a fairly common and unremarkable name, so I'm not too sure if it's got any connection with Mike Mills the bespectacled, frizzy-haired, girly-voiced geek who plays bass for R.E.M. and who was my rockstar crush of choice when I was in high school. For the record, I am prepared to swear upon a stack of any religious tome you may provide that I didn't know the name of the song until I'd already decided I liked it. And I'm over him anyway. Red Right Ankle is much cuter.

Posted by dianna at 02:55 PM

Book review: Coming of Age in Samoa

It's remarkably presumptuous of me to review this book. It's one of the most well-known, well-respected, and oft-cited ethnographies of the twentieth century, and me, I'm barely interested in cultural anthropology in the first place. People who got a watercolor set last Christmas and used it twice do not critique Monet, and undergraduate archaeology majors do not critique Margaret Mead. But just watch me do it anyway.

The issue at hand in the book, as the title suggests, is adolescence. Even in 1928 when Mead wrote it, the pattern in the United States of teenagers coming into massive conflict with their parents, schools, churches, friends, selves, and everything else was not only established but taken for granted as a normal component of adolescence. Mead's research question in going to Samoa was whether the same was true there. In a village, on an island, with limited influence from other cultures, is every girl (she was looking particularly at girls) who hits puberty chafing under authority, confused by the options available to her, rebelling at social expectations of her behavior, and generally not happy with her established lot?

The short answer is no. The long answer is 100 pages of, well, ethnography, which practically by definition varies from enthralling to not enthralling. For instance, the essential philosophy of Samoan child care, The Baby Is Somebody Else's Problem (in which Somebody Else is whichever slightly older child of, say, six years and up who has not already been assigned a baby to haul around) is fascinating. The official protocol for which members of the village should dance to entertain a visiting party from another village falls slightly short of fascinating. Your mileage may vary and you may find the study of dancing protocols to be your calling in life. If you do not, may I suggest that you skim pages 8 to 107 and pick up reading closely again on page 108?

What follows the ethnography part of the book is an evaluation of the difference between various aspects of Samoan and American childhood and adolescence, to try to explain how certain behaviors can be taken for granted in one culture and entirely absent in another. For instance, why aren't Samoan children prone to major fights with their parents? It could well have something to do with the casual approach to residence, in which a child (or any member of a household, really) is considered totally free to live with any relative he or she pleases, and whatever fights do occur just result in someone moving down three houses to live with Aunt Lola until the matter gets dropped. Parents know this, children know this, so what's the point in starting a fight? There isn't any. Why isn't there a major delinquent population, that is to say, adolescents and young adults who refuse to do what's expected of them? It's entirely possible that it's got something to do with the fact that what's expected of them is unarduous by pretty much anyone's standard. "Presuming above one's age", that is, working too hard and knowing too much, is one of the most dreaded criticisms a young person can receive. (Jeez, Mom, get off my back, okay? You're always bugging me to relax and slack off.)

This latter part of the book, the last 30 pages which can really stand alone as a social-commentary essay, is the part that I'd recommend to anyone who isn't particularly interested in anthropology. It's very thoroughly thought-out and looks at each issue -- sex, residence, material dependence, social standards, family relationships, etc -- from as many different angles as Mead can think of, which is a pretty fair number. She's got some impressively progressive ideas for 1928, some of which are still impressively progressive in 2005, and isn't afraid to lambast the hell out of her own culture and its institutions where she finds them comparatively lacking. That last point is a little funny; there's a certain element of what I have to think of as false nostalgia, the idyllic picture of the simple, natural life that's reflexively painted by people from industrial societies talking about preindustrial ones. I'm skeptical, myself. Talk to me about nutrition and healthcare and we'll see who's wistful then.

It might be me, honestly. I'm just saying I don't trust it automatically. Not even on the advice of an excellent, though occasionally overcompensatory, book.

Posted by dianna at 10:55 AM

October 12, 2005

Mad science!

The fact that I ate dinner at 10:30 last night can be traced back to October 10, 2003.

October 10, 2003 was Jacob's 24th birthday, for which I wanted to do something nice. I decided on a fancy homemade birthday cake as a good approach, and set about making my mother's birthday standard, the double-layer Dear Abby Chocolate Cake.

Cakes, I discovered, are trickier than cookies. Double layer cakes are much trickier than cookies. Vegan double layer cakes are really, really, really a lot trickier than cookies. They don't hold together well, and you need to have the right kind of pans or it'll be a struggle to the death to get the cakes out. Homemade chocolate frosting is stiff to start with and sets like plaster when you leave it out for five minutes (for instance, while you're wrestling with disintegrating cake layers). What I wound up with was two fragile, uneven cake layers that were glued together by frosting but coming apart everywhere the frosting wasn't. It looked like a devil's food geology lesson, with subduction zones, faults, fissures, and a western coast sliding into the ocean like California is supposed to do. It was utterly pointless to pretend that it was a nice, proper formal layer cake.

Not to worry. I slathered the whole cataclysm in frosting and set about decorating. I used squares of chocolate to build tiny houses, with roofs askew and walls half-crumbled. Some of the houses I built only to immediately mash them into piles of rubble. My trees lay on their sides, squishing the semi-intact houses beneath them. I added a few tiny wire people, mostly falling to their knees, trapped under the unfortunate trees, or staring glumly at their destroyed houses. Thus was born the Birthday Quake.

Last year I skipped the cake and made a birthday pie instead, but it wasn't the same (for one, it worked properly). This year I had to go back to the real thing. That's why I kept Jacob out of the kitchen for three hours last night while I mixed and baked and frosted and arranged. The result? 16 carefully trimmed and shaped chocolate cupcakes, set edge-to-edge in a sinuous S-shape on a large cookie sheet, plastered together with frosting, and decorated with diamond patterns of red, yellow, and black icing. A rattle on one end and eyes on the other, and you have... the Birthday Snake.

We took pictures not only of the snake, but also of the egregious mess in the kitchen when I was done making it. I will post them this evening for you to oooh, ahhh, and ugh over.

Posted by dianna at 09:18 AM

October 11, 2005

As watches goooooo, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary.

Actually, it was.

I broke the glass face of my watch while filing papers just now. I've been wearing that watch almost continuously for 12 years and I tend to forget that it's on me, so when I leaned my left arm against the metal wall of the filing cabinet to make some space for new files, I wasn't really thinking about the combination of metal, glass, and pressure. When I pulled out my hand to see what that crackly noise had been, voila, my round watch had reinvented itself as two half-moons, one slightly crescent and one slightly gibbous.

By my count this is at least the third time I've found myself sans watch face. It fell out once, and I found it two days later in the kitchen and stuck it back in. It fell out again, so I glued it down with Krazy Glue. At this juncture I'd be tempted to get a new watch, with either a plastic face or better glue, were it not for two things. One, it's twelve years old and I'm only 24. I saved up a year's worth of allowance in junior high to buy it from my favorite New-Age mystical crap catalog. Two, and this will explain why it was in a New-Age mystical crap catalog, it's usually the weirdest watch that any given spectator has ever seen. It's one of those graphic digital watches that shows the time by displaying something -- lines, dots, alligators, whatever -- to mimic the positions of analog clock hands. In this case it's stars and moons. Yep. Stars and moons. And Saturn, and a comet, and some kind of radiating sun thing, and then the minutes in dorky square un-New-Agey numbers in the middle. All of this sits in the middle of the biggest, clunkiest, heavy dark grey watch casing that 1993 could come up with. The grey was paint, though, as I've discovered in the process of wearing it unevenly off. Aaaaand to make it even better, I've also worn out the original leather watchband and replaced it with a black plastic one made for something much sportier.

I could have summed up the entire foregoing paragraph by saying, "it's kind of old and strange," but I don't think it would have been sufficient. Because now, you see, you'll have a much better picture of my weekend task, which is to find a jeweler who can be convinced to work on it. Really. Just try to imagine.

Posted by dianna at 11:40 AM

October 10, 2005

I take that back.

I have not figured out how to use Movable Type category tags, at least not without screwing up all of my other page links. Alas. Alack (of proper HTML knowledge). Anyone who'd like to advise me is welcome to do so.

Banana Bread

1 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer (just the powder!)
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup soymilk
1/2 tbsp vinegar
(1 cup chopped walnuts)

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, wet ingredients in a separate medium bowl, then pour wet ingredients into dry and stir well. Add walnuts if desired (almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts also work well, as do chocolate chips).

Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan, small casserole dish, or muffin tray. Whatever container you use, the batter shouldn't sit more than 1 1/2 inches high or you'll have a hard time getting the center to bake fully. Bake at 325 Fahrenheit for 75 minutes for a loaf or 25-30 minutes for muffins. Snarf.

Posted by dianna at 08:51 AM

October 09, 2005

Oh my god, I don't have to say curried grass anymore.

I've finally figured out how to use Movable Type category tags. I'm the most brilliant person alive!

Thai Coconut Soup (modified from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

Lemongrass stock

5 cups water
5 fresh lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped (2 inches or so)
3-inch piece of fresh ginger root, sliced
3-inch piece of galangal, sliced
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
(1/2 tsp salt)
( 1 tsp. powdered vegetable stock)

Put the water, lemongrass stalks, ginger, galangal, peppercorns, and coriander seeds into the most enormous soup pot you own (this makes a LOT of soup). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove lemongrass, ginger and galangal if desired. If you're using vegetable stock, add it now (use sparingly, only 1/2 or 1/3 as much as you'd normally use for that much water ). Otherwise, just add 1/2 tsp. salt.


3 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (juice of 6 small limes)
cayenne pepper or ground piquin chiles, to taste (I used about 1 tsp. piquin chiles)
1 large carrot, sliced
3 small leeks, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 lb. firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 1/2 cups quartered small mushrooms
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tomato, cut into small chunks with skin on
3 or 4 green onions, minced

Add carrots, leeks, and celery, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add coconut milk, lime juice, cayenne or ground chiles, tofu, mushrooms, cilantro, and salt if needed. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and add tomato. Let stand for 1 minute to allow tomato to warm, and serve garnished with green onions.

I particularly recommend stirring in 1/4 cup of jasmine rice per bowl of soup, but don't store the soup and rice together as the rice will absorb all of the soup broth.

Blackberry Pie


2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup cold water

Mix flour and salt in bowl. Pour canola oil into flour mixture and use pastry blender or forks (or stand mixer!) to mix it into the flour. Slowly pour in cold water while mixing; use only as much water as needed to make a dough that will form a ball without falling apart. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into two balls and return one ball to refrigerator. Lay out other ball of dough on waxed paper and place another sheet of waxed paper on top. Roll out as thin as possible (around 1/16â) with rolling pin, remove top sheet of waxed paper, and gently flip crust into 8â glass pie plate. Trim edges.

Prick crust with fork, fill with pie weights (or a sheet of tinfoil weighed down with 2 cups of dry beans) and bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. While baking, remove other ball of dough from refrigerator and roll out the same way.

Pie Filling

5 cups fresh, or frozen and thawed, blackberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unbleached white flour

If berries are frozen, let them stand in a colander until mostly thawed to drain off ice and excess juice. Mix berries, sugar and flour in large bowl and pour into pre-baked pie crust. Gently lay second crust on top and use a sharp knife to cut 3 or 4 slits in it. Fold edges of top crust around and under edges of bottom crust (or simply pinch them together to seal).

Cover edges of pie with foil to keep them from overbrowning (the easiest way is to cut a large circle out of the center of a 12-inch square of foil). Bake at 375 Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, then remove foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes more until top is slightly golden.

Pie will be liquid when removed from oven, but will solidify when cooled. Serve with enormous scoops of vanilla Soy Cream and devour.

Posted by dianna at 01:20 PM

October 06, 2005

My wife to murder, and Gilder to frame for it.

I'm starting (starting?) to fantasize about not being here. Like Count Rugen, I'm swamped. My employers and co-workers have really taken to the idea that if you have something that needs doing, you can give it to Dianna because she's good at doing stuff. They've taken to it like ducks to water, in fact, or Fezzik to rhymes. I now demand triage data on all new tasks that are given to me because otherwise it's utterly impossible to get anything done.

The faint recollection of a job in which one's assigned tasks will by definition take only as much time as is provided is occupying a place in my mind much like the legend of the Garden of Eden. $13.75 be damned. I'll live on noodles and canned beans for $8.50 an hour, and love every minute of it, if it means I can peacefully shelve books and not worry about my head exploding.

The essential problem is one of diminishing returns. It is actually possible to make one person your secretary, receptionist, facilities manager, accountant, human resources department, and grand guru of all construction administration paperwork, but you can only put two or three ands in that title before they start turning into ors. At the moment I'm buried in accounting and construction administration and everything else has turned to shadows. Timecards? I know nothing about timecards. I am not at home to Mr. Binder Setup. I cannot be reached for comment regarding equipment leases.

Speaking of leases, a term often used in reference to vehicles, I've recently calculated that it takes me 11 hours to work an 8-hour day because my commute eats up an hour each way. Fuck that too, in case you were wondering.

Posted by dianna at 11:50 AM

October 04, 2005

Brown rice and curried sugar

The original stated purpose of the Brown Rice and Curried Grass entries was to share useful information on vegan food, lifestyle, and nutrition. I haven't quite gotten to the nutrition part because I only ever remember to blog when I'm at work, and my cookbooks with their useful information on vitamins and proteins are sitting on a bookshelf in my kitchen. Apologies.

And yet, once again I find myself at work with a blank blog entry staring me down. What am I to do? Without reference material I can only talk about what I know by heart. This is officially the most elaborate apology I've ever crafted for talking about junk food.

The following disgusting crap is all vegan by my personal standards, which, please note, require two caveats. Caveat 1: Fuck sugar. Refined cane sugar is processed with bone char, which technically results in a product without animal ingredients but is still an essentially unvegan process. Beet sugar, god knows why, isn't made with bone char. I haven't called the companies to find out what kind of sugar they're using. Sue me. Caveat 2: Natural and artificial flavors are made from all kinds of crap, and, as above, I haven't delved into the manufacturing processes to find out which kinds of crap are being used. If you need things that are excruciatingly researched, try VeganEssentials or Food Fight. This, here, is generally available junk food with no stated or recognizable (even to someone who's fairly adept at reading labels) animal ingredients.

  • Original flavor Pringles
  • Kellogg's cinnamon Mini Swirlz cereal
  • Red Vines
  • Safeway "movie theater butter" flavor microwave popcorn (Edit: apparently not.)
  • Most movie theater "buttered" popcorn anyway
  • Oreos (finally!)
  • Lay's KC Masterpiece barbeque potato chips
  • Betty Crocker Rich 'N Creamy chocolate frosting (Katie, please check my brand here)
  • Wheat Thins
  • Mike & Ikes
  • Sunkist Fruit Gems
  • Walgreens generic starlight mints (even the chocolate kind)
  • Walgreens generic gummy spearmint leaves
  • Safeway Select Very Chocolate semisweet chocolate chips (hot god damn these are good)
  • Pillsbury butter-flavored canned crescent rolls
  • Cap'n Crunch
  • Trader Joe's peanut butter filled pretzels
  • Ore-Ida frozen hash browns and tater tots
  • Triscuits (these aren't disgusting crap, okay, but they are a snack)
  • Safeway frozen onion rings
  • Guittard semisweet chocolate chips
  • Pepperidge Farm Entertaining Hearty Wheat Crackers
  • Necco wafers (Edit: apparently not.)
  • Bottle Caps and Sweet-Tarts
  • Nerds and Pez
  • Ritter Sport dark chocolate and marzipan bars
  • Pepperidge Farm frozen apple, cherry, or raspberry turnovers

Begin input and amendments... now. And speaking of vegan things, everyone go look at my sister!

Posted by dianna at 10:44 AM

October 03, 2005

Brown rice and curried grass in your hair.

I tend to think that animal testing is actually a slightly more complicated issue than PETA would have people believe. It's true that I'm less than likely to take a job, oh, injecting artificial sweeteners into mice's eyeballs until they go blind. It just isn't my cup of tea. At the same time, I'm not quite willing to stand up and say that we should cease all animal testing of cancer drugs and either prescribe them untested to humans or abandon them entirely. (The rational but wicked side of me would like to point out here that the test mice for cancer drugs do have to get cancer somehow, after all, but that is outside the scope of this discussion.)

However, some uses are more clear-cut than others. At this point it's really not necessary to do animal testing for cosmetics. Honestly. Shampoo does not need to be cutting-edge, and the ingredients that are already in use have been tested exhaustively for at least the last half-century. We know they work, we know they're safe, and doing new tests and finding more new ingredients to test is just beating a dead... well, mouse.

The following cosmetics, toiletries and general nostrums are all not tested on animals. If you're like me and you have to look at the back of every damn bottle to see, this may save you time.

  • Dr. Bronner's soaps (duh)
  • Anything by Tom's of Maine, which at this point includes toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, deodorant, shampoo, and shaving cream
  • Anything by Nature's Gate (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste)
  • Anything by St. Ives (lotions, face washes, shampoo & conditioner)
  • Citre Shine hair styling products
  • TreSemme shampoo and conditioner (cheap too!)
  • No-Ad sunscreen
  • Mane 'N Tail shampoo and detangler (some of the conditioners have lanolin in them, though)
  • Trader Joe's Next To Godliness dish soap (but you can only use it on yourself if you're a dish)
  • White Rain shampoo and conditioner
  • Anything by Kiss My Face (soaps, lotions, face washes, shaving cream)
  • V05 shampoo and conditioner (also, as Michele points out, cheap)
  • Burt's Bees products (although they do contain beeswax)

I should point out that since I don't wear makeup my contributions to this list are more or less limited to cleaning products and detangling aids. Anyone with greater knowledge should feel free to share it.

Posted by dianna at 08:35 PM

October 02, 2005

See, the water really is scary.

At Michele's small party yesterday I became a pool casualty, a statistic on the terrible consequences of leaping into freezing water with one's mental acuity diminished by beer and overheated lightheadedness. To wit, I aimed my jump left instead of right, landed in about five feet of water, and smacked my left knee on the pool bottom with staggering force. I don't appear to have broken, sprained or dislocated anything, but I have an impressive bruise over pretty much my entire kneecap as well as a very interesting twinge that suggests to me it would really be a better idea to learn to walk stiff-legged than to bend my knee with any weight on it.

Jacob's remark last night was that I had been "surprisingly stoic about it". My only explanation is that I was so shocked by how much it actually hurt that my reflexive pouting and attention-seeking were temporarily short-circuited. As you can see, they're now on-line and functioning within normal parameters.

I'm working on a harebrained, but plausible, theory about the workings of the knee (harebrained but plausible being a major specialty of mine) and would like input from anyone with more anatomical knowledge than I. From my brief Google work this morning I've found that the kneecap (patella) is held in place in a saddle of cartilage (which keeps it from moving side to side) by vertical ligaments (which keep it from moving up and down). Bending the knee pulls the ligaments tight and holds the kneecap close to the cartilage saddle where it can't move sideways. Straightening the knee relaxes the ligaments and holds the kneecap less tightly in the cartilage saddle, so that between the stretchiness of the ligaments and the slight separation from the cartilage saddle it has slightly more wiggle room. Ergo, if a knee is smashed at an oblique angle into a hard surface, the likelihood of it being laterally dislocated is less in a bent position than in a straight position, but if a knee is going to be dislocated no matter what then a straight position gives the ligaments more room to stretch without tearing.

Now someone please tell me if that's right? And no, this doesn't bear on my personal knee, which is merely bruised. I just, you know, want to know.

Hey! Look over there! Ancient evil is funny.

Posted by dianna at 04:32 PM