Monday, October 17

Music Monday?

I know nobody asked, but I decided to make a playlist of my 8 favorite female vocalists while waiting for something/anything to happen at work. Et voilà (there's 2 songs by each):

  1. Mia Zapata (The Gits) 
  2. Joan Jett!
  3. Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney): It was hard to choose between Corin and Carrie Brownstein (hot), but since the list isn't about looks...
  4. Jody Bleyle (Team Dresch): Another tough choice between 2 great voices in one band, but Jody's voice just edges out Kaia Wilson's for me.
  5. Penelope Houston (Avengers)
  6. Kim Deal (Breeders/Amps/Pixies)
  7. Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill): Yes, I love Kathleen Hanna's voice.
  8. Adrienne Droogas (Spitboy): Maybe an acquired taste, but for me her powerful screams bring me right back to a particular time and place (that would be the Bay Area in 1994) when hope and rage were all mixed up and I was punk rock. :)
And this could all change tomorrow (except #1—Mia will always be #1), but there you have it.

Friday, September 30

Apple snakes and Vampires

Somehow 6 weeks has gone by since my last post. This is what it's like when you get close to 40— time speeds up and then you have to piece together what happened. Luckily, there are some clues in the form of ye olde iPhone camera roll, so here's a short list of events since I last went on about that silly bridge:

  • Liz and I spontaneously produced a child (OK, we went for a hike with Britta, Emily and Hugo in the lovely Redwood park)
That's our little Hugo.

  • Spotted some New Mexico green chile in our local supermarket. Decided not to trust it.
The flags were a nice touch, tho.
  • I read the fabulous new young adult novel, And Then Things Fall Apart by my dear friend Arlaina Tibensky. (Do yourself a favor, folks...) Coincidentally, while drinking wine with our neighbors, Tiffany brought out her nail polish collection. So, inspired by said YA novel, I painted my nails blue. 
Punk Rock
  • I won a prize in a drawing for the first time in my life! The prize was entry to an ePublishing conference. Don't make fun—I got to go to Chicago. The conference was actually really useful (if I want to stay employed, that is) even though the McCormick center in Chicago is a miserable, miserable place. Luckily, I had my evenings free to wander around downtown and hit up 3 local breweries (Goose Island, Revolution, and Haymarket). Traveling for business means eating alone, so I've found that it's more comfortable to do so at a bar. I even found time to do a couple of 3 mile runs along the lakeshore which made me feel like a serious runner since I was making it happen in a new city.
The Palmer House. I stayed in this fancy place after a housing CF courtesy of Graph Expo. Long story.
Goose Island Brewing
Bagel + Pretzel = Bretzel. Brilliant.
  • I got to go to an A's game with my ex Maggie and her 2 kids, Lucas (5) and Sora (3). I admit, I was a bit worried about taking little kids to a game, but these 2 were super fun and totally engaged. Lucas patiently absorbed all of my explanations about how baseball works and asked really great questions. For example, he asked how we picked which team to root for, and I explained that the A's are the home team, they're underdogs, and so on, to which he replied, "Yeah, but which team practices more?" Touché. By far my favorite moment, though, was when Sora asked what the vampires were doing. We looked at her like, "Vampires?" and she said, "The guys in black that hang around." Somehow "umpire" morphed into "vampire" for her and now I cannot stop thinking of them as the undead, lurking around, making judgements.
Lucas and me
Sora and her favorite part of the day, a lemonade
There were other wild moments in the past 6 weeks (including a whirlwind overnighter to the faded glory that is Reno, Nevada), but that's probably enough photo-narrating for now.

Monday, August 15

The blog name is a lie

There are actually 4 bridges and 2 tubes on this island city of ours.

When people talk about "the tube," they're actually talking about the 2 parallel bores right next to each other on the west end of the island. They are officially the Webster Tube (Alameda-bound) and the Posey Tube (Oakland-bound).

That's a minor technicality, but the 4th bridge is just an out-and-out omission on my part for no particularly good reason other than "four bridges and a tube" somehow is less poetic to me than "three bridges and a tube." That 4th bridge is actually quite charming and leads to a strange and magical land called Bay Farm Island (whose name is also a lie because it's not an island, but a sort of chunky peninsula attached to Oakland). Bay Farm is an odd collection of suburban homes, lagoons, golf courses, industrial parks, the Oakland Raiders headquarters, a shortcut to the Oakland airport, and a secret (shh) outpost of the always crowded east bay restaurant, La Penca Azul (née La Piñata).

Liz and I actually spend an inordinate amount of time on Bay Farm because it also features some really beautiful running/walking/biking trails. We do most of our longer Couch-to-10K training runs there because the views are awesome, we can run on dirt for a good bit, and there's something special about how isolated we feel out there in the middle of the bay.

Anyway, back to the bridge. We park the car and do our stretches right under the Bay Farm bridge, and last week we had the rare opportunity to see it draw up to let a sailboat or 2 through. This is exciting because: 1) engineering feats, however small, are neat (read: I'm a geek), 2) I've only seen the bridge go up twice in the 5 years I've lived on Alameda, and 3) the adorable adjacent bike bridge (arguably bridge #5) draws up too! Look!

So, to make up for leaving it out of the blog title, consider this my ode to the Bay Farm Island bridge and all the secret fun it leads to.

Friday, August 12

Dream Taps

Despite my like/hate relationship with social media, I just wasted 2 days making a Tumblr thing (Tumblog?) about one of our favorite conversations: if you owned a bar or restaurant that had 5 available taps, which beers would you serve?

Could be fun. Click the blue square on the right and check it out. 

Thursday, August 11

Another Cat & Cocktail, with a Side of Cliantro

Okay, so I started to feel shy about posting too many cocktail reports all at once. Problem is, I try to take a little posting "break" and then lose stride for over a week. So we're back at it with the Cat + Cocktail series.

This time around I finally made the Thai Me Up (aka Thai Martini) I'd been hankering after pretty much since starting work at the hangar. It was DELICIOUS. The kaffir lime vodka came through, but so did the cilantro. Some ginger simple syrup was also involved, but the overall taste was light and somehow clean, yes clean. Here's out it looks, both with and without cat:

One cocktail was perfect for me. Well, I guess Josh wound up drinking part of it, so there's that. But Greenie felt it a bit more, apparently:

Tuesday, July 19

Cat + Cocktail

Lately I've been feeling the need to mix up some cocktails a little more often, since we have all this good booze in the house. With that in mind, I'm aiming to try out new (to me) cocktail recipes a couple times a week. If Josh and I share each one, it's not like we're even drinking that much, right?

I kicked things off the other night with a Kirsch Manhattan and a Basil Sazerac (both recipes courtesy of my esteemed hangar colleagues). The Kirsch Manhattan was yummy, though a bit sweet for us; it features both vanilla simple syrup and sweet vermouth. Next time I'll try it without the simple, just to see how it tastes.

The Basil Sazerac was delicious, plus I got to pick the basil leaves from our own garden.

Harder to tell what Greenie thinks:

Monday, July 18

NOT couch TO 5k, but TWO 5ks!

Yes, I am making the dread double-post today. When really I should have posted this information days ago.

Josh has chronicled a bit of our running adventures, so you know we've become comfy with the 5ks. So a few months back, in a fit of daring, we signed up to run two 5ks in one day. Since we're now working our training runs up to 10k, we figured these two runs would be a good test.

Last Saturday, we successfully ran our first 10k in one day—if separated by 5+ hours (we ran one at noon and one at 6 pm). Here's how we spent our intervening time at the park:


Early in our courtship, Josh and I made a joint New Year's resolution to learn more about wine. Little surprise that said resolution was one of the best kept ones in either of our histories.

One of our first steps was to become "passport holders" in the Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Club. Four times a year, wineries let passport holders in to taste for free. Plus, we get a nifty little passport with a map and separate pages for each winery. Once we get them all stamped we get a MYSTERY PRIZE!!!

You've probably gathered from other posts that both of us are highly motivated by things like: maps, progress logs, and so forth. Those little stamps are bizarrely successful in getting us out to spots we'd otherwise never know about.

We probably have about three more passport days to go before we can claim our prizes. In the meantime, we took a few hours this past Saturday to go visit some Gilroy area wineries.

We tasted some good (and just okay) wine, but only felt motivated to make an actual purchase at one winery (we tasted at four). However, we ALSO spent the afternoon in sunshine, which was somewhat discombobulating, after these past few weeks of extra-greyness in the East Bay.

Tuesday, July 12

Belated 4th

So our July 4th was on the (comparatively) quieter side. Drove up into the foothills to spend the day at my brother's place with parents, siblings, nieces and nephews galore. Since nearly everyone has one or more dogs, we were engulfed in the usual dog melee for much of the day. Witness my nephews in the middle of five dogs:

While spending a day surrounded by dogs always intensifies our own dog-longings, Josh clearly wasn't sure what to think of this particular specimen:

Wednesday, July 6

Cheese Batch #3

Last year I made my first batch of cheese. I'd been fascinated by the whole idea of home cheese-making for months before that, so it was a bit of a letdown when that first batch refused to hold any shape whatsoever. Turns out that there's a whole world of milk politics and practices I knew nothing about. Importantly for cheese-makers, lots of milk out there gets heated to crazy high temperatures, which makes it almost useless for the purposes of cheese.

I undertook my next batch with a different brand of milk and less exuberance, but more success. This time around, I got to make happy cooing sounds over my adorable little cheeses. I did more reading and studying in the world of cheese but largely let the actual making of cheeses go for a bit as I found myself distracted by other endeavors.

Today, I decided it was time to get back to it. After all, with Josh making all those lovely sourdough pizza crusts, we really need some homemade mozzarella to go with. Here's what came into being within the hour:

Presentation-wise, there's plenty of room to grow. Taste-wise, I'm pretty happy with this little "braid" of cheese. However, I then lost 30 minutes of my day scrolling through images from Lair of the White Worm since that's what I kept thinking as I shaped the cheese braid/worm.

Sunday, July 3


Did you know that's how you say "waffles" in Brazilian Portuguese? That's one of the many useful things I learned a million years ago when I was a language major… and I always hear my professor saying it that way in my head whenever I eat waffles.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, this recipe came through my inbox, so I got obsessed with getting a waffle maker. Luckily, BB&B had just sent us a 20% off coupon, so I didn't obsess for long.

Despite having only 45 minutes this morning, I decided to christen the new toy with it's first batch of sourdough waffles because I had a surplus of active starter. After a quick search, here's the recipe I cobbled together:

Sourdough Waffles
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1 c. sourdough starter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 c sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted

Beat egg in a medium bowl. Add milk and sourdough starter. Stir in vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix well. Stir in melted butter.

Follow your waffle maker's instructions. Mine takes about 1/2 c. of batter at a time, so this recipe made 4 waffles with just a smidge of the batter leftover.

I have to say, my first batch turned out pretty great. The sourdough gave them a nice richness, and after toying with the timing, they turned out crispy with a medium density, which is what I like. 

Speaking of waffle-timing, another interesting tidbit I learned at Stanford (while working in the dining hall): don't give too much credence to the ready light on your waffle maker. Instead, keep an eye on the steam coming out of the sides. When the steam slows down to a trickle, your waffle will be light and tender. When it stops altogether, it'll be crispy. 

Saturday, July 2

Where hipsters go to breed

Young neighbor boy #1: Why are you washing your bike?

Me: Because it's been sitting out all winter and it's full of spiders.

Young neighbor boy #2: My brain is full of spiders.

Me: Yikes.

Young neighbor boy #3: Well, your brain could be full of spiders if you were thinking about them.

Me: You are so right.

Friday, July 1

Tuesday, June 28

Eggs y Pantalones

Not eggs, but a delicious, citrusy beer: Orange Kush, from Ale Industries. Possibly the perfect combination of soda and beer characteristics.

Generally unrelated but equally wonderful: Carrot Pants!!!

Kind of creepy, yes. Still, how could anyone NOT want to build a quirky whole-bodied carrot person on that base?

The Carrot Pants spent a long time in the produce drawer before either one of us could bring ourselves to sacrifice them to dinner.

Wednesday, June 22

Half New Year

If folks can have half-birthdays, I can have a half-new-year. My absence stretches out past Josh's and highlights her diligence in starting back up. I don't have much to say for myself. Instead, I'll just post a few pictures from the start of the calendar year now, with pledges to fill in some gaps in weeks while I try to get back in the blogging spirit.

As you can see (poorly lit photos aside), we had a wild New Year's Eve with friends dropping by to share drinks and jig-saw angst. Most everyone lost steam after a few hours, though, leaving us to soldier on by ourselves.

Now we know better than to take on 2000 piece puzzles. We put away the incomplete puzzle in March, when we wanted our table back.

I've always liked going for a walk on the first day of a new year,
and Josh kindly humored me. We wound our way
around the island, getting our fill of greyness.

She also humored my request for a new year's picture.
You might be amazed how many times we had to try for non-ridiculous pics.

Then, shockingly, we got side-tracked on the walk home.

...and clearly I need to remind myself of some formatting shortcuts.

Thursday, June 9

Now that's an OSX upgrade

When's Apple going to go for a truly powerful feline?

Friday, June 3

pizza progress

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I've been working on my sourdough pizza-making. It's been going super-well, and we've been eating tasty pizza every 2 weeks or so. My sister says it's the best in the Bay Area. She is my sister, after all.

Here's the recipe:

Josh's Sourdough Pizza
Note: always use a plastic or wooden spoon when working with sourdough. And non-metallic bowls.

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. w.w. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2–3 tbsp. warm water
1 1/2 c. active sourdough starter*
2 tbsp. olive oil

1. Prepare 2 smallish mixing bowls by spraying with olive oil spray
2. In a medium bowl, combine flours and salt.
3. Add starter and water and combine into a tough dough. Usually, I start with 2 tbsp. water and it's plenty, but you can add a little more if the dough seems too dry.
4. Add olive oil to the dough and work in. This is a weird, messy step, but it's OK.
5. Once the oil has absorbed into the dough, knead it for 5 min. I do it on the (clean) counter with no flour. The oil should keep it from sticking.
6. Once it's smooth and slightly elastic, cut the dough into 2 balls and put them in the 2 bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and set them in a warmish place to rise. After about 2-2 1/2 hours, they should at least double in size.

At this point you can proceed with your pizza making (see below) or stick the dough in the fridge to use later. It should keep for 2–3 days. Just be sure to take it out at least 1 hour before you want to use it to bring it back to room temp or so.

7. Preheat oven to 500° with pizza stone inside. (If you don't have a pizza stone, I'm not sure what to tell you. Go get a bunch of bricks?)
8. While oven is preheating, roll crusts out onto heavily floured boards to about 12 inch circles (or close to circles). Cover loosely with dishtowels to rest while you collect your cheeses and toppings and warm up some sauce.
9. When oven is ready, dust a pizza paddle (again, if you don't have one, hmmm... back of a cookie sheet?) generously with cornmeal and place your first crust on it.
10. IMPORTANT: spray or wipe the entire crust with olive oil all the way to the edges. This will help keep your sauce and toppings from soaking in.
11. Dress 'er up. Try to be moderate with your toppings and cheese because a) a little goes a long way on a pizza with a good-tasting crust, and b) you have to get this thing in the oven in one piece.
12. Optional: if you have some fancy coarse salt, sprinkle a little around the edges of the crust.
13. Slide the pizza off the paddle onto the hot stone. Cook for about 8–10 min. I keep the oven light on so I can watch it. When the cheese starts to brown, it's done. Bring it out and cut it.

TIP: If you're using fresh herbs, don't put them on 'til the cheese just starts to brown. They only need about 45 seconds–1 minute in the oven. You don't want them to be brown and dry.

ANOTHER TIP: Break an egg in the middle of the pie right as the cheese starts to melt. Don't be scared. Num.

* On sourdough: there are literally thousands of books and websites about making sourdough starters, so I can't pretend to be an kind of authority or give much advice other than look up a recipe and try it. You do have to commit to keeping the baby alive which really isn't hard. In a nutshell: put equal parts flour and water in a non-metallic container and leave it loosely covered on your counter for a few days until it starts to smell sour and make hooch (alcohol). Discard the hooch, pour about half of the starter out and add 1 c. flour/ 3/4 c. warm water. Repeat this 2 or 3 times until your starter basically doubles in size when you feed it. It's now "active" and ready to use in a recipe. Then, you stick the remainder in the fridge and feed it at least every 2 weeks. Really, you know, you should just watch this video. I've been maintaining my starter for about 2 years now and it's totally worth it. 

salami, green garlic, red pepper, goat cheese, italian parsley

hot italian sausage, nm green chile, fancy (oyster?) mushrooms

Thursday, May 26

In Praise of our Veg Box

This week's box from Dan's:
  • red butter lettuce
  • peas
  • savoy cabbage
  • carrots
  • little potatoes
  • broccoli
  • corn
  • green garlic
  • 3 kinds of mushrooms
  • apples
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • cantaloupe
All organic, all local, delivered to our door. $32. I'm just saying…*

Plus, Dan's about the cutest produce man with a handlebar moustache you ever did see. Watch:

* Rant about my hatred of this phrase to come

Thursday, May 19

Happy New Year! Redux!

I won't gush out a bunch of excuses about why I haven't posted since February. Let's just say I've been preoccupied in many good and bad ways this 2011 and thus have been absent from the blog. I am sorry, not for you, dear readers (all 3 of you), but for me because I really want this blog to find its way, and I feel bad for not doing my part.

Anyway... let's revisit those new year's resolutions, shall we?
  • Make beer: soon, soon.
  • Catch up on my New Yorkers: accomplished in March! However, the damn things just keep arriving every week, so I'm 4 issues behind again (Do I really have to finish the Franzen article about the history of the novel/Robinson Crusoe/David Foster Wallace? Really?)
  • Hang 2 pieces of remaining artwork in living room: unaccomplished. pathetic.
  • Run a mile in less than 11 minutes: Yeah! I can even keep up 10 min/mile for 2 miles as evidenced by our recent fun run in Eureka (official time 19:58!).
  • Watch the video tutorials about Blogger: meh.
  • Go through the dauntingly giant box of family photos: partially accomplished. Sadly, the death of my father gave this project a kick in the pants. My sister and I weeded out all the bad/repeated/uninteresting photos and did a primary sort, but still need to get them into boxes. 
    • Run 3 times/week: on average, yes.
    • Get to work on time: on average, no.
    • Keep up the flossing: keeping up.
    • Take more photos and try to add one/day to the Project 365 app: You know, that app turned out to suck. After 1 year's worth of photos it imploded, so I'm crossing this one off. 
    • More blogging, fewer words: see above; will try again.

    So, that gives a little sketch of what I've been up to. Also, the cooking continues, sometimes improving on recipes (better spaghetti and meatballs occurred in March, for example), sometimes just sticking with standbys. My sourdough pizza reached a new level of crispy deliciousness a couple of weeks ago when, inspired by Serious Pie in Seattle, I sprinkled the crust with a smidge of Utah basin (huh?) salt. We're doing pizza again either tonight or tomorrow night, so I'll try to document (unless my bragging has cursed it).

    The explorative drinking of course continues, too. Although, in an attempt to even things out a bit, Liz and I have vowed to teetotal for a week prior to any races we enter. Believe it or not, we're averaging 1 race/month so far, so we've effectively cut our drinking down by about 25%. My yoga teacher used to say, "everything's better in moderation, including moderation itself," so to balance out the dry spells, I got spectacularly drunk on my 39th birthday on Fernet of all things. There is a photo (thanks to Shannon), but it's not pretty. I'll keep that to myself.

    OK, enough with the updating. I close with a recommendation and a gift:

    Josh recommends: Daydream Disaster with Andy on KZSU, 90.1 FM, Thursdays, 9–noon PST. This show wows me every week with its perfect blend of alt country, indie, and 80s–90s goodness. I am sadly out of touch with new music, so I listen to KZSU pretty much all day at work to broaden my horizons. Tune in on the webz or check out Andy's Tumblr to listen to archived shows. 

    Free gift(?): Those of you on a Mac can download an icon set of the characters on this blog!


    this one's for Marcy

    You asked for it, lady.

    Josh will undoubtedly post something of questionable entertainment value soon.

    Cats in Tanks from Whitehouse Post on Vimeo.

    Monday, March 21


    This guy looks ridiculous.

    OK, he is actually pawesome, but wheels are cheating and wouldn't help at all with a spiral staircase.

    Saturday, February 19

    Holy cats! This one's for Jim.

    Well, we made it: Liz and I ran our first official 5K race this morning! In the rain, even!

    Our time was great— 37 minutes or so. Leading up to this, we'd been doing 30 minute runs at anywhere between 11–12 minutes/mile, so considering the weather and the slow start with the huge pack of runners, I'm super pleased with that time. And, hell, just 6 months ago I never thought I'd run a 5K ever, so not too shabby at all…

    The added bonus of this race was that it came at the end of a rough and emotional week for me: my dad, Jim Johnson passed away this Tuesday after struggling with heart disease and diabetes for the past several years. As I ran, I thought about him: how I'll miss talking to him about the weather and his cats, how I owe it to him to be healthy, and of course, how I know he'd have been proud of me.

    So, while I certainly didn't plan it this way, this one was for you, Dad.

    Thursday, January 27

    Playlist add

    This song was on KZSU today— it's awesome. The video is even more awesome:

    Wednesday, January 19

    Savannah day 1

    Yep, we're in Savannah, GA. Liz is at a work conference and I'm just tagging along to see a new place. Yesterday, I walked around for a few hours just to get a feel for the town.

    You seriously can't walk 10 feet without running into a historical marker. Makes me wish I was more of a history buff... sort of. Probably my favorite thing is that there's a public square every other block or so full of dramatic old trees covered in Spanish moss. Plus, the mansions are fun to look at—there are actually lots of Victorians just like at home and some of the blocks oddly remind me of Brooklyn, all cobblestones, brick and narrow alleys.

    What's NOT like home at all is just how old the place is. We had dinner last night at the Planter's Tavern which was built in something like 1771 and where plans for the American revolution were cooked up over drinks. I know it's obvious, but it makes me realize just how new California is. It's almost funny that things like Alcatraz feel so historical.

    Anyway, I'm almost done with my first coffee shop stint of the day, so here's a couple photos:

    Sunday, January 2

    My tiny little annual gift to womanhood

    Ye olde Femstrual Calendar for 2011.

    Use it to keep track of your (or your roommate's, or your girlfriend's...) period. it's fun, and VERY useful. Also, it's fascinating to look back over the year and see your bloody pattern.

    Print it out and mark the day you start to bleed. If your period is regular, your next period will start on the day directly below your last. If your cycle is shorter than 28 days, you'll get a diagonal line to the left, and if it's longer, you'll get a diagonal line to the right. If your cycle is not regular, you'll get dots all over the place.

    Try these exciting variations:
    • make a line that shows how many days your period lasts!
    • track 2+ girls on 1 calendar using differently-colored pens!
    • at the end of the year, connect the dots and read your fortune for the upcoming year!


    Saturday, January 1

    resolutions and such

    'Tis the season, so:

    • Make beer
    • Catch up on my New Yorkers
    • Hang 2 pieces of remaining artwork in living room
    • Run a mile in less than 11 minutes
    • Watch the video tutorials about Blogger
    • Go through the dauntingly giant box of family photos
      • Run 3 times/week
      • Get to work on time (You'd think this would be easy: I live less than 2 miles from work and don't even have to be there 'til 10am, but damned if I ever get there before 10:15.)
      • Keep up the flossing
      • Take more photos and try to add one/day to the Project 365 app
      • More blogging, fewer words

      I think 11 is enough. I know they're not exactly groundbreaking goals, but I figure the simpler they are, the more achievable they'll be (except probably the New Yorker one—I'm 4 months behind and have been since about 2001).
        Happy 2011, everyone. We started it off with a rainy walk and a beer. You?