comments on the veep debate


I've been keeping up on the national polling at The proprietors of that site as well as most of the mainstream media are liveblogging. I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon.

Overall, Sarah Palin didn't do badly. But that's like saying the last Star Wars movie was "better." Joe Biden also didn't do badly. I was hoping for a NASCAR-like wreckage, though. I'm pretty sure that there isn't much that would sway people's minds or hearts toward one way or another.

Hey Jackie, Collette, John, Gary, did you hear that? Your reward is in Heaven!

(Look, I'm LIVE-blogging!)


=IF(AND(D22="left", C22="C"), COUNTIF($F$5:F21, ">0")+1, "")

This has now taken over as the most complex function I've ever written in Excel. It's a baby step in my attempt to learn to program. Eventually, I'd like to be sufficient in Matlab and possibly Python. And though it isn't really that complicated, it took me an hour or so of staring and googling to figure out how to twist Excel functions to do my bidding. Probably would have taken 3 minutes in Matlab or python....

how to make friends on the internet...


Bribe them. Of course, they get to bribe you back. Mutual friendship ensues. So if your WOW friends don't send you enough real stuff (that +2 sword doesn't count) then maybe some crafty friends can be made via swap-bot. Who knows, maybe some new swap-bot friends can be convinced to start playing WOW.

in n out


Here's a couple of pictures of In N Out. MG and I went twice while in LA. Beats Dick's any day.



Ain't it great to have friends who are glad you're home? While MG and I were in LA, VG (nee H) made this scrumptious brunch for a lovely get-together :)

fly screen


A couple of friends are finishing up a year of anthropological interviews in southwest China. They've gotten lots of really cool pictures of their stay including this one of someone's front door. Paper-wrapped clips have been strung together to form a kind of screen. I don't think the flies in this area of China get so big that they wouldn't be able to get through the holes, but this idea might be repurposed for some other d.i.y. project.

doom doom doom... another one bites the dust


I got engaged this last weekend! MG proposed on Saturday evening at Gasworks Park while I was wearing flip flops, sweats and a zip-up hoodie. We went to Etta's and had cioppino and albacore tuna steaks. The next day, we went to the jeweler to look at settings for the Canadian diamond MG had so carefully chosen. He was very careful to make sure no African children were exploited or hurt in the making of the diamond. So the pug, MG and I are happy as can be at the moment. :)

science! in politics


Obama reveals his science advisors. Two Nobel prizers, former director of AAAS, and a former dean at Stanford (boooo!). While he gets some flak because of the heavy life science influence, I'm particularly happy with the fact that I might actually get funding sometime in my future! Hurrah!!!
On the other hand, McCain is not revealing his advisors. Eight years ago, I would have given him the benefit of the doubt but at this point in time, his advisors might includes Michael Behe.

nut shots (safe for work)

In college, whenever I told someone that I grew up in Walnut, California, that person usually cocked their head and said, "Creek?" Walnut Creek is a much bigger, much more well-known city in Northern California. Walnut (no creek) in Southern California is a little bedroom community that I grew up in. It's heavily Asian and Hispanic, has very few houses under 500k, and lots of church-going family-folk. My parents still live there and go to St. Lorenzo Ruiz every Sunday (and a couple other days of the week, too).
Can you tell from the picture that it's a Filipino-heavy congregation? Though I don't know if electric prayer candles are strictly Filipino.Last week, I took MG for a walk around my old high school. Towards the back of the high school, we found this sign. Did I mention that Walnut was considered a model city of diversity? ... and just in case the students don't speak English, Spanish, Chinese or Korean, there's a little picture to show you what not to do.



My parents have a lot of fruit trees in their backyard: two lemons, fig, asian pear, kumquat, peach, guava, and jujube. Of all of them, the last is probably one that most people have not had. But people should! Because jujubes are yummy! The taste is between persimmon and apple. They've got an apple-like texture when ripe, too. Refreshing and portable!



I've been on vacation. Many of my Los Angeles friends had never met MG before. Last Christmas, I promised a couple of them that they would meet him before this Christmas. So MG and I went to my friend's wedding in the outskirts of LA and met a bunch of my high school chums. And by meet, I mean, we ate with them. Because when on vacation at home and showing someone around, what you're really doing is eating with a bunch of different people. So the next couple of posts will probably center on food... the food that has made me rolly-polly overweight. Really. Fat. FAT.

Starting with the menu for the wedding banquet:
Oh yeah, some very basic Chinese banquet fun facts and some etiquette...
(in order of how they appeared in my head)

  • The banquet is usually nine courses of lots of family-style food.
  • That lazy susan in the middle shouldn't be spun quickly. And move your tea cup.
  • Which way should the lazy susan go? Age and gender. Old grannies always first.
  • 1st dish: cold appetizer sampler which might include jellyfish (that yellowish gelatinous stringy stuff)
  • Do you need to try everything? If you have to ask, chances are you are not at the head table and that lazy susan isn't going to hurl food at your plate. So, no.
  • Do I have to finish everything my neighbor put on my plate? Sometimes, Asians like to put food on each others' plates (see me putting jellyfish on MG's plate). Don't make a big deal of it, but don't put it in your mouth unless you want to. Plates are changed every few courses, so you won't have to stare all meal at that fish eye that the little grandma sitting beside you put on your plate.
  • Why would I need rice/noodles at the end of the meal? The penultimate/ultimate dish is invariably a starch-laden tub of rice/noodles. This is actually not supposed to be finished. Though you may eat it, leave some of it in your bowl. This is an expression of fullness and goes to show that your hosts are good hosts for feeding you until you're comatose.
  • At many restaurants, when you see the waiters taking away a half-full plate of lobster, don't despair. Usually, they just want to put it on a smaller plate so that they can fit the other eight courses onto the table.
  • Slurping is OK. When you're eating soup in southern China in July, slurping it the only thing that will cool that soup down. So slurp away. Tea ceremonies in southern China also usually include a lot of slurping; it aerates the tea and gives it a different flavor.
  • The secret to eating rice with chopsticks: put it in your soup bowl. Smaller bowls are OK to lift from the table. Chinese people usually lift the bowl up to their mouths and shovel rice into their mouths with the chopsticks. This trick is very useful when you've got your rice drenched in soy sauce.
  • When you put your chopsticks down, lay them down. Do not stick them into anything (like a bowl of rice). If you do, Buddha will come and smack you upside the head. Chopsticks sticking out of a rice bowl looks like incense sticks used to pray, many times for the dead.
  • When you're out of tea, unless you're at a REALLY formal affair (black tie gala, or red dress gala in Chinese), lift the lid of the tea pot and set it askew. This is a universal Chinese waiter signal that you need more hot water for your tea. They won't refill tea leaves (which means the next batch will have minimal caffeine in it) but they'll add more hot water to the existing loose tea leaves.
I need to get back to work.

project runway, philippines


Really! Project Runway Philippines! From the country that has the most deaths per automobile accident brings the wreck of VERY bitchy asian men and women (Mara) who can't sew. Half of the show is in Tagalog (Filipino language) and the other half is in heavily accented English. Also, half of the names are normal and the other half, in Filipino fashion, are stranger than anything Hollywood can come up with... "Lorymer, you're out. Apple didn't like your outfit." I guess I should just be happy that no one's named Luzvizminda (a relatively popular name comprising of the three main areas of the Philippines, Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao). So if you like bitchfest with an accent, catch the youtube episodes. No one--- except for maybe Thailand--- can be catty homosexuals like Pinoy homosexuals.

On a slightly more serious note, I just gotta say that there isn't a culture more accepting of homosexuality than the Filipino culture. When my friend Jack went to meet his boyfriend Gerby's family in the Philippines, he was welcomed with open arms and treated like he was already part of the family. And (unless they're Chinese in the Philippines), for the most part, if some Filipino guy wants to dress like they're looking for a John, his legs better be spectacular and have his heels sharpened against comments about how his dress didn't accentuate his skin tone enough.



Well, hopefully Hemi's well enough to get on a plane tomorrow. Because we're going to LA for a friend's wedding. Did I mention that everyone and their mother (well, father... MG and I have friends who got engaged and within a week, the to-be-groom's father got engaged, too) is getting engaged? I have *doom doom doom, another one bites the dust* playing incessantly in my head. I realize *doom* isn't quite the right onomatopoeia, but it works so well...

Edit: nope. No dog. He's staying in Seattle. We have given him another cough suppressant and he's so chill right now. I don't even recognize him.

sick pug


Hemi keeps coughing... he coughed all. through. the. night. We have to take him to the vet tomorrow if it doesn't get better. MG and I can't tell if he's got a cold or he has something like aluminum foil (don't ask) stuck in his throat. Poor pug.

EDIT: it's kennel cough. He sounds like he's coughing up his spleen.



So after Hemi climbed up on the dining table and ate a slice and a half of pizza this morning, he puked a little of it up on MG's pillow. But since we didn't catch him in the act, it's hard to discipline the little bugger. Argh.

On a different note, I found an etsy seller, foryoo, that makes customized stamps. There are a lot of coolio designs that would make a great housewarming present. Strangely, there aren't any cute pug stamps.

aphid update


Well, my ladybug friend did not kill the aphids. There are still some lurking around my poor little basil. But my ladybug friend's children might! I found ladybug eggs that will hatch ladybug larvae that also eat aphids. Them little tykes plus a little soapy water might save the day! Since I've started spraying the plants with very dilute dish soap, there are a lot less of the little buggers. We'll see.

ice cream for non-eggers


According to Food and Wine and AT, the place to be for ice cream is Columbus, Ohio. Ice cream mastermind Jeni Britton has three stores in Columbus that serve seasonally-flavored frozen goodness. And not only is the ice cream purportedly delicious, it's gotz no egg in it! Hey BJ, when you visit home, got room in your carry-on for some dry-ice packed ice cream?



Oh how I love the various designs from Roost. There's just that beauty-in-nature thing that they've got down. I received this set of champagne glasses (picture above) from a friend for my birthday a couple of years ago now. Of course, due to the large clumsy-bf:glass-fragility ratio, they've never been used. One day, though, champagne will be poured into these glasses and thus rationalize buying more Roost products... such as these that I love being sold at Velocity.

ikea trip list


Just a couple more items to have around the filled-to-the-brim condo. Gotta pick up some more picture frames and a new stuffed toy for Hemi, too.



Two of my basil plants have aphid infestations. AAAAHHHH!!!!! So far I've just plucked off very infested leaves and cleaned off the sugary trails that they leave. I knew when I noticed the little buggers that it would be hard to get rid of them without pesticides and stuff but thankfully, today, I found a little ally. While squishing a smaller than usual morning crop of aphids, I found a ladybug under one of the leaves. I don't know how these guys got into my second-story window, but it's been an interesting little twist I wasn't expecting.

the other lab


I attended The Lab again last night. It was really fun and inspiring to see the creativity that abounds in Seattle. I'm sure that the uber-great Velocity folk will have links and the podcast for last night's event up soon so that everyone can see the coolness being made. I won't list all the sites of all the participants last night but here's a small highlight of the stuff I really liked: (which I won some cute cards from! i really need to buy a lotto ticket) (artwork from non-archival material) (follow the life of a tree)

LS on bread pudding


The Wallingford Bakery sells some leftover loaves on the weekends for cheap (like, a buck). So LS was able to pick up a lovely orange zest loaf to make some bread pudding. By the time I heard of the bread pudding, it was a distant memory. So like any good termite (a.k.a. mooching friend), I twisted her arm into making some while we roasted corn and ate peanut butter noodles. It, like the noodles, was uber-yummy and will require further arm-twisting to pry away her recipe. The crust was all caramelized and the center was just the right sweetness... I'll stop describing now to keep myself from drooling all over my keyboard.

peanut butter noodles


Randomly saw LS at the bus stop a couple of days ago. So I invited myself over for dinner. We ended up making peanut butter noodles with bell peppers and shaved zucchini. Topped with cilantro, it was ab fab. I'd post a recipe but we kinda just threw stuff into the sauce as we saw fit. But for a list of ingredients, this recipe comes close. We served it warm but a Taiwanese version is served cold (with blanched chicken and julienned cucumbers... delish, too). We used Hong Kong-style egg noodle but in retrospect, spaghetti would have been better (less absorbent). Not that I am a proponent of spaghetti in Chinese dishes, it's really hard to find the exact kind of Asian noodle needed for certain dishes. Spaghetti just seems better for this particular dish. Yummy no matter what, though.

view from our balcony in vancouver

but you were doing so well...


I'd say that I've been pretty consistent with blog posts until this last week. For the last couple of days, I've been at a conference in Vancouver. And while I appreciate my coworkers and love our work environment, I did NOT want to share a suite with them (five males) in the UBC dorms where six bedrooms are assigned a common bathroom with two showers and ONE toilet. And for those of you who do not work around doctors, you might not know how often (medically speaking) one can go drop a deuce. For those of you who don't want to continue along this conversation topic, now is a good place to get off the train. Anywho... the range that many are taught in medical school is between once every seven days to seven times a day. It's a big range. And let's say that some of my coworkers apparently fall towards one (the less friend-friendly) side of that spectrum. So I stayed with Brett. Which is good because then it left my bed unoccupied for others to pass out on. No one parties harder than neuroscientists.

But I'm back in Seattle now. So posts will now resume!

artsy-techy tutes


drawing people
powerpoint template

just trying not to forget...

decor8 loot


I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves. Thanks Holly and all the contributors! I tried to take pictures of every layer of goodies.

And lastly, here's the pile that the goodies made on my table.

daily deals


Some daily-updated sites ranging from doodads to t-shirts.

dopamine and neuroeconomics

Anyone ever see the movie Dopamine? The movie implies that dopamine mediates love and other warm, fuzzy feelings. How did anyone come to the conclusion that dopamine has anything to do with love? Becuase small, furry critters (prairie and montane voles) showed different amounts of dopamine activity (really, dopamine receptors). In the wild, prairie voles form pair bonds. Often, one night of mating can lead to a lifetime together. Montane voles on the other hand, are promiscuous and never call when they say they will. Bastards. But if you tweak dopamine in the right brain area in the right way in montane voles, voila!, they become pair-bonded. Thus, tweaking dopamine can be construed as giving a vole a love potion (as illustrated in Nature).
Too bad, though that pair-bonded voles aren't really monogamous. Sexually, they're promiscuous, but then raise any pups in their pair-bonds. So really, dopamine mediates Catholic guilt.... (mostly kidding).

What brought on this rant on dopamine? Well, this morning, AT posted how dopamine is a "chemical in the brain that triggers sensations of pleasure when you buy something new." That's about as correct as dopamine mediating love. True, for a couple of decades, most scientists believed that dopamine=pleasure. But this isn't really the case anymore. It's so not the case that the guy who originally posited that dopamine=pleasure doesn't believe it. Easiest, lay person's example of dopamine NOT mediating pleasure is a Parkinson's patient. Clinical symptoms of Parkinson's don't develop until about 80% of the cells making dopamine are dead. Yet people afflicted with Parkinson's do not have any problem experiencing pleasure.

So if not love or pleasure, what does dopamine do? That's the million-dollar question. Actually, it's probably the trillion dollar question, considering how all drugs of abuse as well as a crapload of prescription medication (Ritalin, anyone?) affect the dopamine system. And the answer, is, of course, 42.

In other words, lots of scientists have lots of ideas and are doing lots of experiments to figure out what dopamine is doing in the brain. And no one doubts that it's doing a LOT of different things. Primary symptoms of Parkinson's include the inability to begin or control movement and the slowing of movement. There are other symptoms, though, that are less visually obvious: cognitive impairments, memory issues, sleep issues, mood disorders. And when patients take L-DOPA (which is one of the more well known Parkinson's medication), some become pathological gamblers.... These patients take risks with their money similarly to how hard-core drug abusers risk their lives for a high.

So dopamine might also have a role in decision-making (which was implied in the previously mentioned AT post). Should I buy that? Is it worth it? Will the wrath of my significant other be too much to bear? What does the dopamine spiking in my brain have to do with how I'm going to decide? And how is this decision-making process altered by drugs (both prescription and illegal) or disease? Do we really know anything concrete about what dopamine's doing in the brain?

Hopefully, I'll know more in the next couple of years.

scarier than how they wax?


This, my friends, is a nail file made from the scales of a monstrous Brazilian fish. It works pretty well. In the six or so years that I've had it, I've barely worn down one a small area while the rest of the thingiema-scali-file has stayed as abrasive as the day I bought it. Not bad for less than $2.

This file was one of those i'm-at-the-counter-oh-what-the-bob-is-this purchases from Body Time. Whenever I get back to the Bay Area, I go to a store and stock up on the antioxidant hydrating serum. The only thing I've found that's similar to its weight and what it does to my skin health is Creme de la Mer Face Serum (I got a sample... I definitely CANNOT afford Creme de la Mer).

canadian wares

I have a serious crush on this smocked top. In the words of the female- Shakespeare- loving- sidekick from 10 Things I Hate About You, "We are involved." Alas, as fortune (literally) would have it, I can't afford it... making our relationship more Romeo and Juliet than Taming of the Shrew. But for those who have the dabloons, you can find this top and a bunch of cuteness at the recently launched GoodEGG Industries shoppe!

Aside: Since GoodEGG is Canadian, would GWBush consider spending my economic stimulus money on this top unpatriotic?

mango lassi


Easy Peasy Mango Lassi

1 cup mango chunks (frozen from Trader Joe's)
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (also from TJ)
1/4 cup water
Sugar to taste
Mix yogurt and water in blender. Slowly add cold (but not frozen) mango chunks. Blend until smooth. Add sugar to taste. Did I mention it was easy?

doodle stitchin'


Doodle Stitching is a wonderfully inspiring book! I was inspired enough to try a bit of embroidery myself. Being 9pm on a Saturday evening, though, meant no quick trip to the craft store for embroidery thread or canvas. So I took around eight inches of leg off of MG's ripped corduroys and some leftover lace-weight yarn to start doodlin'. Not quite sure what this little doodle will end up as... maybe stretched over a frame, sewn into a small pillow, made into a little bag... any ideas?

urban squirrel


The first of many projects made with spoils from the decor8 inspiration give-away. He's a little squirrel. Didn't quite come out the way I wanted because the paper can't be wet to make curves. And to try and make the image a little more interesting, I experimented with recently downloaded brushes on Photoshop. More come including a layer by layer pictography of the package of goodies :)

diy decor


gardening, meat and bluegrass


So being the horrible graduate student that I am, I left work early yesterday. A couple friends and I attended a herb gardening in containers class that answered quite a few questions for me. On the way home though, we had a hankering for meat. So we stopped by Roro's (formerly Rowdy Cowgirl) to try their pulled pork and brisket sandwich. We also had the Seattle succotash, some potato fries, BBQ beans and cornbread. While everything was good (especially drenched in the six different sauces at the table) the only thing I'd write home about was the succotash. Strange how the yummiest was the one thing that was healthy...

After a brief stop at home, a bunch of us celebrated a birthday at Tractor. Of course, the appropriate music to listen to after pulled pork and all was bluegrass. The Hackensaw Boys opened for Trampled by Turtles. It was a blast... even with only one tallboy of PBR.

before i forget


Wouldn't some of Santiago Ramon y Cajal's drawings be great on a wallpaper?


Using the AT recipe. When Fred Meyer doesn't sell enough milk, it just sits there and sits there and then gets a lovely sale tag. So I bought a quart of milk on super-sale and took this recipe for a spin! Out came the pot to heat the milk while I squeezed the lemon. And after all was said and curdled, I came out with the expected 3/4 cup of lemony ricotta... a little too lemony for my taste. So the next time, I think I'll go with the 101cookbooks recipe for ricotta. Maybe tomorrow I'll try to make ricotta gnocchi with it.

(That's toasted soy nuts in the background. Bought a jug at Costco and is super-yummy on salads or just to eat by itself)

new way to recycle stuffed toys


In front of a vendor's stall at the Fremont Sunday Market :)

i won?!?

Really? I won?!? Thanks to Holly for collecting and sorting and hosting and sending and everything else she did for such a cool give-away! When my googlereader hit the new decor8 posting, the first thing I noticed was that my screen name was somehow in the middle of the post... then I noticed the title... and then I choked on a little cottage cheese and spat some all over my computer monitor (Note to self: must find internet article on cleaning lcd screens).

So now I am eagerly awaiting a package of goodies and noticing how many people are clicking to this blog. Hello everybody! A special hello to the contributors. Maybe I got something beefy?

knitting eunny


I used to always read Eunny Jang's knitblog. That is, until she stopped writing in it (probably because she became the head cheese at Interweave Knits). Thankfully, her blog is still up and contains a couple of the coolest knitting patterns. I've been meaning to make her endpaper mitts since I saw them years ago now. And I'm finally doing it! I've started with knitpicks palette yarn in cream and teal and some size 1 and 2 dpns. Unfortunately, I've already messed up one little area:

basil pesto: take one!


Finally busted out the food processor to make some pesto! Pretty yummy with all that parmesan, pine nuts and basil but I kinda wish I had a mezzaluna so that I could be like an italian grandmother. For future reference, I would put a lot less olive oil into the pesto. Instead, I would put it on top of the pesto to prevent browning in the fridge. I guess browning is one of those things you gotta look out for in fresh pesto.

Speaking of freshness, I bet you wonder about the basil plants from whence the basil came from. I pinched off the tops of a lot of the plants (I have ten or so at the moment) and collected around two cups of basil leaves. After collecting the leaves, some of the plants looked like bald little buggers. Look at what the oldest basil plant looks like now:
PS See the jar of alfalfa sprouts sunning beside the cut basil plant?

but where would i put it?

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