Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Geeking Out

Team, I am geeking out.

Yesterday I had my orientation to be a volunteer (technically an "orienteer" but I will get to that later) at the California Academy of Sciences.


I show up at 9 at the rear entrance after swinging by Jamba and picking up a delicious Carribean Passion. One of these days I am going to get a Peanut Butter Moo'd just to see...

I DIGRESS. Have another picture:

So I get there at 9 and there are around 10 other people standing around, grinning their heads off. I check, and find that I, too am grinning my head off. Why? BECAUSE IT'S THE ACADEMY. AND I AM GOING TO BE WORKING THERE.


We are gathered up and escorted to a conference room where there is water and cookies laid out. I grin a little bit more, and it becomes a bit fixed as we introduce ourselves and then are treated to an hour long health and safety presentation. The head of Volunteer Services tries to spice it up a bit by inviting one of the oldest volunteers in the program - this lady has been with the Academy for 25 years. She looks to be about 84, and strides all over the museum. When not volunteering with her husband, they travel the world together. In two months, they will be cruising the Amazon.

Of course.

FINALLY, we begin the tour. We hear about Claude, the albino alligator. The Academy had originally commissioned a mating pair - Bonnie and Claude, but Bonnie beat up on Claude so badly they shipped her back to Florida. Claude is mostly blind, she would sneak up on him, and he would back up into the tank walls. Since she's been gone, he's gained 40 pounds.

We hear about Pierre, the South African Penguin. In one of his last molting cycles, not all of Pierre's feathers grew back. So they made him a lil wet suit. They also call the director of the Academy, Greg Farrington, Pierre. Apparently he loves them. And he is adorable.

The Gorilla in Africa Hall has human hair plugs (he was starting to go bald, and the conservator's son apparently had gorilla-like hair)

The panther in Africa Hall was liberated from some poachers.

The fake woodpeckers overlooking the Swamp have gone extinct in our lifetime.

The poison dart frogs in the Rainforest are plastic. Because they are poison. (Apparently this is an issue)

Clearly, I could go on. The bottom line is I AM SO EXCITED TO BE WORKING THERE.

The Academy OH SO TOTALLY has the sweetness.

Note: All pictures are from the Academy's Flickr

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Commentary on...The Creatures

Yes, yes I know it has been an unforgivably long time since the last posting (almost a week! HORRORS) but team, I have used that time productively. And I feel that it is now appropriate to comment on my reading choices of late. Namely, those with a theme of Creatures. In Classic Regency Literature (please note the Capitals - they are for emphasis)

Just so:

I know RIGHT? Totes awesome.

Over the past few weeks, I have had conversations with several naysayers: "Frances" they say, "Old egg - you cannot expect us to take you seriously when you are walking around with this book in your hand bag. In fact, we really don't feel comfortable walking around with you at all. Please go sit over there - next to the woman carrying four different containers of soup on Muni."

Friends, I can understand your hesitation. Why mess with Jane Austen? Do we really need satire OF satire? With plenty of zombie fun to be had here, here, and here, do we really need zombies in another medium?

The answer is yes.

The thing I enjoy most about these books is the fact that the tone is kept consistent. As calmly as the sisters Bennett might discuss the weather, they discuss the merits of various patterns a cauliflower garden might be laid out, to better lure in the bands of zombies that roam the countryside (zombies being ably distracted by the resemblance of cauliflower to brains). As Marianne Dashwood frets over the attentions of Willoughby, Colonel Brandon frets over Marianne (while the elder Elinor Dashwood looks on, repulsed by the tentacles that Colonel Brandon has encrusted over the bottom half of his face, courtesy of a sea witch's curse). I am entertained by the juxtaposition of the two worlds - the Regency England that Austen satirized, and the Creature-filled England by which the new contributors satirize Austen.

I appreciate a classic as much as the next. Indeed, I cannot abide the thought of a zombie or vampire eeling along next to Jeeves, suggesting various sock and jacket combinations to Bertie. However, at this time, I feel that the world was ready for a re-interpretation of Austen. And I must say that the entertainment gained from these books makes me want to re-read a few Austen classics.

And really - until they release "Emma: Matchmaking Amongst Werewolves - A Field Guide" I shall just have to re-read Persuasion, in its original Austen form.

EDIT: I must admit, I also enjoy how "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" rolls off the tongue so pleasantly, and the alliteration in "Sense and Sensibilities and Sea Monsters" is really quite awesome, but I have not yet come to a decision on the rhyming in "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim". I'll let you know.

EDIT Part Deux: I really am not even going to comment on the DISGRACE that was the Bears on Saturday. Seriously. I don't want to talk about it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Letter to the Editor

Dear Napa,

I know, I have been neglecting you. I kept pushing you off, and pushing you off to repeatedly go wine tasting in Sonoma. Please don't feel bad, it isn't your fault. I have just felt completely fulfilled in my relationship with Sonoma. But you have been teasing me, with your whispers of champagne and movie stars. The lush Napa Valley wines available at all the restaurants, while oft times Sonoma languishes near the bottom of the wine list.

And so, I cheated.

I have only myself to blame, Napa. I cannot hold you accountable for my behavior. But all the while I was with you, I was thinking of Sonoma. I have written a poem to describe my feelings (and it even rhymes!)

O Sonoma
Your shorter lines do thrill me.
Your less expensive wines do quench me.
I seem to irk the bar tenders here.
It's almost (but not quite!) enough to make me order a beer.

Sonoma inspires me to...not just bad, but repellant poetry, Napa! What do you do? Sure, you may impress me with your gorgeous hotel and the lovely food, but you know what? I will attribute my grand ole time to The Man + 2.

To sum up, Napa. I had a fabulous time. You tried your best, a wild fling. You went all out with the weather, and the wineries, and I get it! You are kind of a big deal.

But in my heart, I am just a poor Sonoma County Farmer. It would never work between us.


PS. Is...that a forest of concrete toadstools Napa? WTF.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bananas in Pajamas

I will tell you right now, that the title of of this post is misleading. Now before you bring on the Spanish Inquisition, I have something for which to mollify you.

This is, in fact, about Cinammon Rolls.

Now, some of you may rightly be suspicious of my mad cooking skills.

And after the raw salami + fig debacle, you might be right. But this is about baking. And team, I can bake. I am notorious for making enormous messes, and leaving cupboards open.

See here:

And here, The Coz dropping butter (obviously haphazardly) into the frosting:

But the fact of the matter is that, nearly on a regular basis, I can churn out delicious, nutritritous treats. Ok, maybe nutritious is a bit of an over statement,
and yes, that is an entire box of powdered sugar. But if at 1:00am in the morning, The Mav, the Coz, and I can all sit down with a freshly baked cinn. roll, then my work here is done. And it's awesome. And I did it all with Boris and Doris traipsing all over the Florida Keys in the background.

Now that is why I have the sweetness. And now, so can you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Wilds of North Beach


While I am not actually disgruntled, I am far from being gruntled.

I work in a very beautiful part of San Francisco. I get to enjoy a nice little stroll down the Embarcadero in the wee hours of the morn. Birds chirp. The old fashioned rail cars clang cheerily as they roll pass. The smell of the sewers is even pretty negligible. And after months of moping around Cole Valley, and months before that moping around Downtown Oakland, you must understand it is almost like Camelot.

Ha. I come to find out to find out, it is in fact a very silly place indeed.

I receive an email from Security today, informing us that they had received word of an armed gunman in the neighborhood, and would be locking the door for the rest of the day. Employees were advised to not venture outside.

I'm sorry. What?

I worked in Oakland during the Bart riots this winter. I would leave work long after dark, and we would walk in groups the two blocks to the Bart station. I never received company warning of armed gunmen in the neighborhood.

Then again perhaps this was to be taken for granted.

A gunman? In the shadow of Coit Tower? What does one say? In the words of one of my favorite authors, "Very good", I say coldly. "In that case, tinkerty-tonk".

And I mean it to sting.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Mav...On Yoga

Hooray! The Maverick has graciously agreed to provide us with the sage and wise thoughts she experiences whilst bending herself into crazy shapes.

I always get so excited when I climb the stairs to my yoga class. I go to one of those pretentious yoga places that doubles as a spa and also sells clothes and candles (I’m a yuppie in SF so …natch).

Before my class, I take a quick glance around the room and pray that my “spot” is open. Yes, I have a “spot”. Of course I have a "spot" - what do you think this is, pilates? No.

Anyway, it's all the way in the back near the rear window. I mean, really, who wants to do yoga in the front of the class. There are at least three other people behind you and when you do Vinyasa like I do – you spend most of your time in downward facing dog (or "ass-to-the-world”)

Crap. My yoga teacher points me to front and center. Next to some tan, skinny dude who looks like he's a vegan, probably makes his own granola, and uses Dr. Brommers. Ugh, fine. Good thing all I ate before class was a banana (I have a harder time doing upward facing dog after I’ve stuffed my face with say…bacon fried rice).

We move through the various poses and my whole body loosens up. Downward facing dog begins to feel like a resting position as we go to high lunge (aka make-your-thighs-burn), eagle pose (twist-all-your-limbs together-aaaannndd-HOLD), extended triangle pose (hello side muscles. How are they, you ask? Oh, they’re fine. You just go ahead and try this pose for a while, then get back to me. kthx.).

Yay! Time for new poses!

“Ok, stand up and reach for the sky”
Ahhh, reach for the sky. Wow, my back is really stretching. I could really go for a hot dog right now. Wait, focus.
“Now bend down into full fold”
Hells yeah bitches, I can full palm it to the ground. Hellooo hammies.
“Now take your right arm and extend it next to your right inner thigh”
Hehe, right arm in right thigh. Teehee. Jeez, come on, focus! Ok, extending the arm.
“Now twist your left arm around your back and grab your right arm”
Uh, come again? Ok, Ok. I got this. Twist and…reach…and…oh! I got my arm! I’m in the bind! YESSS!!!! New pose, I conquer you!
“Now go ahead and lift off with your right leg and come to standing”
...I’m sorry. What?
“That’s right, just come to standing”
...I'm sorry. What? You mean, this pose keeps going???
“Lift off with your right leg”
Lift off? No…no. My leg is just fine where it is. Rooted next to my other leg, keeping me from falling on my ass. You know, since I’m all twisted in a pretzel. Damn, hippy granola lover has already taken off. I bet he cheats, and eats pretzels. OK! OK! Lifting off…oh dear…here we go…uh...OH! I’m standing! Whoa…

And for the next 70 minutes, I am in the zone. Thoughtless, content, happy.

Now that’s what I call the sweetness.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Where Have All The Hats Gone?

I feel like this is an extremely common lament amongst my girlfriends. We are always drooling over Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart or William Powell or WHOEVER, simply because he is wearing a hat. And he looks damn fine in it.

The Mav and I also enjoy our hats:

And yes, we frequently do look debonair, thanks for asking.

Funnily enough, for once The Chron has written an article that provokes interest and now I'm FASCINATED. A custom fit hat?! HOW AWESOME DOES THAT SOUND?! Fabulously decadent? Maybe. Totally unnecessary? Definitely.

But the fact remains, team. I look awesome in hats.

Those Sturdy Golden Bears

Team, there are few things that I enjoy more than a full day of football. Especially with a schedule as follows:

11am - Wake up
12:30 - Mosey over to Berkeley
12:45 - Hit up Cheese 'N' Stuff and devour a Thanksgiving sandwich (complete with Cranberry!)
2:30 - Stroll up to the stadium with a sense of purpose, saunter into the Young Alum section next to the band, and proceed to absolutely murder Eastern Washington.

I mean seriously:

59-7? Let's keep it real. Roll on You Bears. Especially you, Mr. Best. You keep it up. Any sort of action that can promote scenes like this are fine by me:

God, I love football. I especially love it when we win. Go Bears. I will leave you with this final image from my college graduation:

Now that's what I call the sweetness.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ficus Carica

Aka...the fig. Specifically, the Calimyrna Fig. My grandmother has a fig tree in what is left of the orchard behind the main house. You can see her below, clearly trying to suffocate the dog. The dog has other ideas.

This particular fig tree was SPECTACULAR for climbing when I was young (and when I say young, I mean last weekend) after it had been cleared of all snakes, etc.


I have this habit of seeing a recipe that I think sounds delicious, and then trying to make it work with whatever I have in the kitchen. For example, I picked the following out of the girl and the fig cookbook that I picked up from the library:

Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs

12 fresh figs, cut in half
12 slices prosciutto, sliced very thin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Wrap the fig halves with the prosciutto and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the figs for 15 minutes and serve.


Did I have prosciutto? No. So I used salami.

Did I have the patience to wait for our oven to preheat? No. So I just ate it raw. Salami + fig + a little bit of mozzarella (because I love mozzarella). A cop out? Perhaps, so the next day I vowed it would be different, and stopped by Say Cheese on my way home. I liked my cheese idea, so instead of being traditional with goat cheese + fig, I picked up some truly awesome, salty, nutty Gouda. Not Smoked Gouda. I hate Smoked Gouda.


Ok have another:

Wow. Now that is the sweetness.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And Now...A Word from the Maverick

"Of course you've seen that picture already. You consume 90% of the Internet with obsessive Reader reading". - The Maverick (who shall be henceforth referred to as "The Mav")

Picture in question: Courtesy of Decor8 (I know right? Red chucks on a baby? ADORABLE)

Now. Is there anything WRONG with my Reader? Of course not. Is it not the most efficient way of consuming information? Of course it is. I have all my blogs in one handy spot. It pulls information directly from the websites, so that I can even enjoy the travails of the chillin kangaroo from the comforts of my blocked work computer.

(Sidebar - PANDORA?! REALLY?! I WEEP, I.T. Department)


Team, I follow many blogs. Probably too many - Interior Design, Food, Shopping, Movies, Tech, Hilarity, Photography, even Web Comics. AND THAT IS JUST TO NAME A (VERY) FEW.

I love my reader, even if The Man may tease me for it. I refuse to apologize.

In that end, I have added a blogroll. I warn you! If I find that it gets too cluttered, I shall remove it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Encounter with Parrots

Today I grabbed my book to head out to have lunch on the Terrace. Taking advantage of what minimal good weather San Francisco provides during the "summer" is obligatory, especially considering Cole Valley doesn't believe in summer. It believes in fog.


I took the current read, Captain Blood, by Rafael Sabatini and the Roasted Tomato and Mozz. sammich out to read upon the terrace. I thought to also listen to Ye Olde Ipod. I was, however, cruelly thwarted by the NOISE.

I peer around the shading umbrella, and BIRDS are creating this racket. GREEN BIRDS WITH RED HEADS. I know what you are thinking. Frances, old bean, you have clearly lost what few marbles you have. But it's true!


"What?" you ask.
"Are those...parrots?" you demand.

Why yes. Yes they are. Apparently the wild parrots are, like, a thing. Enough that Mark Bittner actually made a movie, the crazy man.

Now that's what you call the sweetness.