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The current household configuration may be equally correctly dubbed the House of Tea, or the Kitchen of Chopsticks.

The extra-deep silverware drawer has chopsticks in front and - surprise! - more chopsticks in the back.

Roommate Number Three and I collaborated on Independence Day grilling and dessert: I procured a grill, he bought charcoal for grilling ribs, veggie skewers and chicken, I made brownies. NOM. After several days of surprise use-or-lose PTO, R's schedule is once more at the whims of his superiors, and I had work this weekend too, but we managed a sit-down pig-out this afternoon. Happy Independence Day indeed.

In a fit of laziness and snobbery, I sort of blew off the fireworks - how can the Left Coast compete with congressionally funded fireworks, except in post-fireworks transit crush? - in favor of chilling at home. They'll be here next year, and with persistence so will I.
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Me versus the epic work stack; my short day was not. Dump the work stuff at home, get back out the door. Bring an umbrella. Definitely bring an umbrella. Sacrifice a scarf to the Metro Center gods. Drink mead. Who knew mead was delicious? Contribute alphabet soup hilarity to the federal contract lawyer stories. Watch a rhinestone light show. Chaos at the metro transfers: stay ahead of the fools dropping glass ex-Baccardi on the platform and busting open a six-pack. Doze through the crowds, walk through the night, fall in the bed. Happy 2010!




New Year's Day was unusually warm, but 2010 is making up for a gentle start with fierce cold. 20 F isn't that bad, as long as you're dressed for it, and as long as the wind doesn't kick up. However, the colder it gets, the less wind is necessary to feel you're getting chomped to the bone.




Looking back at the last year's goals, I didn't do a great job, but I made progress on most goals. I took my GREs; I took major trips to Chicago, Madison and San Francisco; I at least tried to exercise, though not consistently. I saved like a reasonable person and not a lunatic; I was good about culling things I wasn't using, but lousy about vacuuming. The social life was a mixed bag.

2010 Goals:

1.) Social life: expand this. Dating may be involved.
1a.) Be nicer to people.
2.) Better living through actual budgeting. Spreadsheets may be involved.
2a.) I can haz car? Please? Please please please please? (To be answered by upcoming annual reviews and end of fiscal year bonuses, if any.)
3.) Level up professionally: start hacking on Perl, coming to grips with bioinformatics, and positioning myself from there. Spend more time thinking career and less being annoyed with the problem of the day.

Broad strokes, but why think small?
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Yesterday I experienced a five hour Lego fugue while watching The Hunt for Red October and Band of Brothers. Apparently I really am an eight year old boy at heart: this hypothesis would also explain why I think of makeup as something that happens to other people.

Dad and Second Wife are enthusiastically packing in preparation for March, when Second Wife hits retirement and they relocate to Arizona. This has been coming since about 10 seconds after dad figured out his career track didn't include transfer back to the West: dad's decoration style since 1989 has been American Southwest In Exile. (Sometimes he mixes it up and adds some electric elements, leading to the adobe-and-computer-and-chili-pepper-lights themed home office.) So this weekend we ate lavishly, baked, sorted deep-storage boxes for moving / donation / trash, recounted horrible family stories about the dead and absent, and watched (for values that include extensive laptop time) Quantum of Solace. Second Wife thought it was dumb, which brought out my "yeah, Bond flick, duh" side.

When I returned home with the final dregs of my childhood (see "moving and sorting") I thought, "I should try to reconstruct the Legos, take a couple of snapshots for posterity, then donate them somewhere." Five hours later I was thinking, "I should buy more Legos and we should make them an entertainment fixture in the living room! It would be a roommate bonding experience!" Regression is hilarious.

Today I saw Avatar in 3D with [livejournal.com profile] samthereaderman ([livejournal.com profile] cathydalek bowed out with a head cold). It is a triumph of really spiffy special effects over an average-to-obnoxious screenplay. I saw it called Dances with Blue Cats and there is an unfortunate ring of truth to that. So this is likely to piss off people involved in disability activism, or actively engaged in the standing cultural appropriation / racism discussion, or anyone who can count the number of awesome women in the film vs the number of awesome women who die for the cause. Also, the sound effects and soundtrack did not win me over (the future has to sound right) and I think the laws of physics as established in the movie took a beating for the sake of the plot. So I am on the fence: I loved the visual effects, and my "the future is shiny" nerve center got a nice hit, but the screenplay didn't live up to the eye candy.

Tomorrow I go to work. I plan to motivate myself with Sherlock Holmes some day after work. Do I need to see RDJ in theaters? Technically, no. Do I need a reason to be sunny and upbeat at work? Yes I do.
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My father has never heard of Celine Dion.

"Celine Dion?", I said, over blueberry pancakes and all natural pomegranate juice. "Celine 'My Heart Will Go On' Dion? 'It's All Coming Back To Me Now'? Queen of the '80s and '90s power ballad?"

Now dad's accusing me of making him look like a blithering idiot on the internet. He is pulling up a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young documentary on the HD as an example of "real music". Apparently, liking CSNY is proof you are not an idiot. This would be a lot more convincing if he weren't reminiscing about what he got up to when he saw CSNY in '74; also if I hadn't seen people try to use Coldplay and the Decemberists as evidence against the same charges. Bless you, dad: 30 years is the only thing separating you from the hipsters.

Next up: double-chocolate cookies in the oven. Dad and I agree the recipe is suspect, but that's okay: I know where to find a triple-ginger cookie recipe for backup desert.
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I got out of work on time today. I still haven't recovered from the shock. However, Chinese buffet with dad and Second Wife helped a lot.

It's good to see dad, and it's great to veg out and mooch delicious food (tomorrow may be Experiments With Baking day), but I am mildly creeped out because there are no bookcases in the house. I finished one book on the metro, so I am down to a collection of best fantasy short stories of 2006. And the internet, of course. Send help. Send nonfiction. Send my bookcases. I go home Saturday to my to-do list.

To those who celebrate, have a happy Christmas Eve, and a merry Christmas. Everyone else, enjoy your Friday.
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Me: "Alaska State Troopers"?
Dad: Uh-huh.
Me: You're kidding me.
Dad: Ha ha, no.
Me: It's not a parody?
Dad: Nope.
Me: Not "Reno 9-1-1, Alaska Edition"?
Dad: I think it's pie time.

Apparently, pie includes brown sugar ice cream.
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Happy American Thanksgiving! For the rest of you, have a nice Thursday evening. Today I am grateful for dads who cook. Tonight I am noodling on Perl For Bioinformatics and generating about 20 lines of error message with a single extra backslash. Troubleshooting is hilarious, especially when pecan pie is on tap.
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Merry Christmas! M. and I made Christmas dinner, and sat down with my dad and Second Wife to eat it: pork with lime marinade; steamed carrots and green beans with rosemary; sweet potatoes with butter, brown sugar, and marshmellows; gingerbread piping hot from the oven with vanilla soy ice cream. I did the pork, M. stepped up for sides and dessert. Everyone seemed to enjoy dinner, so we didn't muff anything too badly. And M. and I got to do the high-five of "serving a holiday meal to parents".

Pork notes:
Had ground-up spices, so mixed the spice mix cold in a sandwich bag; 3/4 cup lime juice is about 5 limes; used 14 cloves of garlic, not 12; about half a cup lime mojo left over from marinade. Marinade too oily? Next time more limes? Bought 4 lb pork loin instead of 3 1/2 called for: extend cooking time by ~1/8th to match? 30 minutes at 450 resulted in smoking meat, so either less browning time or lower temps the entire time on the next try.

I am out of olive oil. Word from the wise: eggs with margarine are kind of gross.

Happy end-of-December wishes to everyone: eat well and sleep in unless you have to work tomorrow.
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1.) Traditional pecan pie. Day three. (Yum!)
2.) Traditional post-dinner setup: TV on, dad passing out, me with laptop.
2a.) Second Wife's dogs making a fuss.

By the way, if anyone knows how to dope five Shelties into not barking (without, you know, Second Wife noticing all of her dogs are higher than a kite), I am all ears.
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1.) Why am I a bit manic when I sober up?
2.) Dad, why do you keep totalling cars before I can inherit them?

Sadly, these two questions (to the best of my knowledge) do not impinge on each other. Dad keeps getting in accidents while driving 6, 8, ten year old cars whose repair costs exceed their blue book value.

My Friday plans cancelled on me (sick; I may take my revenge by pressing flowers and cards upon the unwell!) so in a fit of fiscal weakness, I agreed to work overtime on Friday. I would say, "what was I thinking", but I know what I was thinking: time and a half times eight hours equals money.

This is my week so far:

Monday: rain. Dumplings with J at China Bistro, followed by House rerun and tea.
Tuesday morning of multiple shenanigans. Please tell me I left my debit card at the doctor's and not the restaurant.
Tuesday evening unwinding with K and G; Rock Band for the Wii is pretty cool.

Tomorrow I get to do 2 loads of laundry, pack for Thanksgiving, put in a full day at work, haul myself and my stuff to dad's, and make nice with the step-family until Friday morning, when I toddle off with a boombox for a nice, peaceful, empty lab. Delicious overtime!

But right now I'm going to crash, before I fall asleep in front of the PC.
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Happy Monday morning! (Oh shoot, I'm late out the door!)

1.) If you saw me in the back of a police car, what crime would you assume I was accused of?

2.) The wishlist thing: I don't like it. I am picky, and like buying things that are exactly right. But this year, I will say: GIVE ME YOUR FILM.

You know you have old 35 mm film left over from the dark pre-digital days. Donate it to Project Retro! For your contribution, you get the warm and fuzzy feeling that you have Done Charity with something you weren't using anyway.

I also want peace on Earth and goodwill toward men, and maybe some fiction that is awesome. However, gender-bending intersectional postcolonial comedy with large explosions is, um, hard to come by.

3.) It's Christmas card time! Or maybe a nicely signed "my 2008 in 1 page or less" holiday letter. And me lousy at keeping my ADDRESSES.XLS file current.

[Poll #1298890]
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Dear diary,

Today I took public transit to the Dupont Circle farmer's market. Phooey on single tracking! Then I ducked into Kramerbooks - ew, too many people - and sat in the Circle with Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. After that I shopped at Whole Foods and Ann Taylor Loft, completing my yuppie tic-tac-toe for Sunday. Next weekend I will go to kitschy church bazaars in search of the quaint and funky. Pictures to follow!


Unfortunately, every single word of this is true. Except the "kitschy", "quaint" and "funky". Also, I nearly threw Little Brother across the train car. I was restrained mostly by the presence of 40 or 50 people who probably would have objected to flying books and high-volume objections to Doctorow's politics while stuck deep underground between stations. (See also "single tracking and WMATA fail".) So don't read about evil!DHS when the red line's single-tracking.




This week has been momentous and all, but recent events made me terrifically homesick for college, where the local booze laws made it a lot easier to get amaretto for your hot chocolate. Instead of getting buzzed on almond-flavored stuff, I learned a bit about county liquor licensing: snack-shop with beer is fine, but the "hard" intoxicants are only available via county stores. And oh, if your real objective is to make election-watching bearable? Butterscotch schnapps is an acceptable addition to your hot chocolate.

Now let's get past comparing election results, and move on to being all centrist and stuff. I think the red/blue Republican/Democrat hawk/dove etc dichotomies emphasized in the media have obscured a huge middle ground of people who are sort of purple-opinioned and middle of the road in other ways. That big happy middle is who I really hope will be well-served now and always by the electoral process.

This is also the week I'm trying to get my Thanksgiving/Christmas plans in order: I think it's dad's for turkey, and my roommate and I may have my family over for Dec. 25th dinner. She's not going home this year, and dad still hasn't seen my new place. Christmas is as good an excuse as any.
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I am lucky to work in an environment where the logical answer to "what to do for Halloween?" is themed decorations, a costume contest, and potluck of DOOM.

On the way home I saw the sort of visual moment that makes me contemplate massive budget-related stupidity: a dark vee of geese flying between a tiny white curve of the old moon and two contrails starting to glow in the sunset. No camera yet! March, maybe. Unless I get a second job, which, just - Christmas retail would not be a good idea.

I ran into one of my neighbors on the bus, and we wound up going to the 9:30 Club for soul and ska. We swapped out work bags for party wallets, he got a beer (to accompany the two he'd had before leaving his job for the day), and we took the metro into the city, admiring the costumes accumulating in the increasingly cheery party crowd. We hopped off the metro at Dupont Circle and walked from there, which turned out to be at least as interesting as people-watching on the metro. He got another beer and a sandwich, I got a hard lemonade and a vegan serape (whole wheat tortilla, vegan refried beans, salsa, rice) which was exactly as disgusting as it sounds. However, there's nothing like ideological anti-animal-product righteousness to keep the milk out of your dinner. I held out through three acts (The Ambitions, Deal's Gone Bad, The Toasters) and made it through two songs from The Pietasters before pleading exhausting and bailing for U Street Metro, leaving my neighbor to his Jack and Coke. I got to be that person who had to be woken up at her stop, but not before failing to get the number for some distractingly geeky and hot guy whose stop came up before mine.

At 1:30 in the morning my roommate poked her head in my room to start a conversation about life, the universe, and our sketchy old mail key, and I kicked her out once I'd established I was not, in fact, wearing pants.

Good Halloween. More of the same next year, please!

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