Thursday, December 15, 2011

Application is in!

I've submitted my application to begin a PhD program a the University of Arizona, Tucson. Last minute, true to form, but it is all in, thank goodness. Now I can maybe enjoy Christmas even more properly! Looking forward to seeing everyone, both at Christmas and on my parent's customary whirlwind tour of Arizona in the days following. Is there a Bay Area resident on this blog who rather misses the snow? Yes, yes there is. Grand Canyon, here we come!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!

Good cheer to you all! We are getting our holiday spirit going this week, as I try to wrap everything up with work and finals. We got a lovely Christmas tree for not too much money, and got it decorated and whatnot on one of my cramped Thursday afternoons, which always seem to be good days anyway. The cat is being pretty chill about the tree thing this year, though I did catch her imitating a present this morning:

(yes, that is totally the real reason for this update). Helped the folks decorate too, over the weekend, and we are starting to think about holiday plans. I for sure have the few days off, so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing everyone. The Bay Area is turning to a gorgeous late Fall, and the Treehouse always smells like pine and woodsmoke when I go out. The store and library are unspeakably busy and Kita is restless as always, but seemingly pleased (as am I!) that I will get to spend more time at home for a little while. Took (and aced) a final this morning, now only have one more assignment to finish this quarter.

Well, and my PhD application....

Good fortune everyone!

Friday, September 16, 2011

A paycheck!

Haven't gotten one of those in a while! And bigger than the ones from the museum too.
Now we can buy groceries and other such luxuries. "I realize, of course, that it's no shame to be poor. But it's no great honor either!"

It makes me think of all the people who are still months or years away from the same thing. Please say a prayer today for the many, many unemployed. I find the argument that people would choose unemployment voluntarily for the questionable privilege of a miniscule TANF check about as credible as the argument that gay people choose to be gay for the "popularity".

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Birthday present

Sooo...a present came for me in the mail recently. Well, maybe I should say a present for Nikita:

A kitty buggy! We were anxious to see how she'd respond to it, to which we got a cold stare from her new hiding place:

I don't know what she must have thought at first. But she came down eventually and sniffed at it. She was even willing to look inside and seemed receptive enough to try it out for a minute. Despite her initial protests she let me take a photo of her in it.

We did manage to test it out and took her for a ride around the apartment (no pictures for that sadly). There was much yowling and a few odd glances from maintenance as we passed, but other than that she seemed...almost amenable to the idea of maybe being taken out this way. Figured it might be good on long car trips where she needs to come along, too.

Anyway, somewhere along the ride she evacuated her bladder and I spent more time cleaning out the buggy then we did actually using it! I guess that'll show us!

Friday, September 9, 2011

I have a new job!

Selling periodic popcorn, not periodic cupcakes, at the local mall. Do I at least get extra credit for the fact that the store occupies a lot formerly owned by a cupcake store? Like seriously. When I worked at Purgatory Petsmart, the most common customer question was "Where are your restrooms?". On my new job, it's "What happened to the cupcake store?" If they are male, they then attempt to explain small business economics to me, whi I guess is fine.! I think the new place has a pretty okay chance, though, if anything does. Everyone likes popcorn, yeah? People constantly mention as well, so I figure if they can make a cool fortune off gourmet popcorn, so can my employers. I hope so, anyway, since I only have a job if they do!

They're pretty nice, the owners. It's a family business, so the owner and a lot of the employees are related. They are all white guys with wildly unruly Scottish hair and a comfortable amount put away for the winter, so I could easily pass for one of them. I like my new job. I've been meeting lots of people, standing out on the sidewalk handing out free samples. Customers of course, but also the other shopkeepers and employees, and the support staff for the mall. It's kind of fun to feel more a part of my community. As I wrote in my journal today, I think everyone in town is going to know about my new job pretty soon, since it isn't a huge city and a new store at the mall is big news by local standards, shopping being a favorite pastime of most.

But seriously, I'm really glad to be pulling in something again. Even if it is minimum wage for minimum hours, the few months without a salary were wearing on me, more than I liked to admit. I have no love for money, but I don't like being poor either, and I really do not like being a mooch or a drain on my family's finances. So to not only be employed but to be employed at doing something I find actually tolerable? Somewhere I don't have to check my soul in at the door, and my dignity at the cloakroom? Somewhere where I don't have to lie and lie and LIE to customers just to keep my job, and hurt dogs in the process?

I'm really happy, and really relieved. The fact that I got hired to this job on labor day is worth it for the humor/irony value alone. Not gonna post the particulars on this blog, but if you know who I am anyway, drop by if you are ever at the mall. Zeo stopped by today and got the whole spiel; she got to try all the popcorn, and I got a good mood out of the deal. I'll admit though that after five hours of sample handing out today, I was a little hot and tired. Where's that rainstorm they keep promising us?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I am now 25. Yay! (Insert quarter life crisis here.)

We started off looking for one of the many, many gourmet cupcake places around town I've been wanting to try. The cupcake I ended up getting was one I hadn't heard of before, fleur de sel, and it sounded good. It was, however, salted (I can't read french apparently) and was pretty weird, haha. Salted caramel filling with chocolate frosting topped with rock salt. Ummm...not what I would have gone for had I known better.

After that we walked around town some more before going out to one of my favorite crystal stores. I got a piece of selenite and a garnet. It was fun, and we went for a nice drive through the hills to another local town we like to hang out at sometimes. Coming back into our town we ate at a very nice place that we've been wanting to try for awhile, and it was really awesome. Followed by gelato and then more walking around town.

It was a great birthday. I am very excited to try out the lovely things I got as well. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Notes on our trip

We had such a fun time! Many thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for letting us stay at their house, as well as to everyone who helped keep us fed and fueled along the way. It was great to see everyone, including some faces we didn't know ahead of time we'd be seeing. We had a great time in Westwood and Santa Monica with my sister and a friend of Zeo's, but decided we're happier living where we are than in a Beverly Hills mansion- there's such a thing as too posh. Arizona was just wonderful. Our poor air conditioner might disagree, but for the most part the weather was actually pretty decent. There were dozens of dust devils to watch as we drove, and we were treated to a small monsoon upon arriving in Tucson. I think we had both been missing the sight of a desert storm something awful, and we definitely got what we were looking for. Our visits with the Tucson contingent were also a lot of fun. I have a pretty cool father-in-law. If you're ever in town and looking for a good biker bar, I can do no better than to recommend the Bashful Bandit on Speedway and Alvernon. Sunday is karaoke night, and if you bring an extra bra to donate to the ceiling, they might even give you a free can of Coors. Another, perhaps more relevant recommendation for you rockhounds out there, is Dah Rock Shop on Dodge Blvd near River Road. They have a huge collection of rocks and beads, worthy of the town that hosts the biggest rock & mineral show in the country. I got a handsome angular piece of calcite for the car, and Zeo picked up a huge tektite tendril for a very decent price. We met up with my folks on the way back into the Bay, and I have a new computer now, which is also fantastic, I'm having a great deal of fun with it.

Our thoughts and prayers are with various people, as applies: Grandpa Jim, who got stuck in the hospital; my cousin, who'll be starting college pretty soon; everyone else who is still out on the road. Cheers, and enjoy what remains of the summer!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Trip to the Southwest

Originally we were just going to go down to southern California for a day or so to visit a friend of mine who was in town, but when we got down there, we decided to take a side trip to Tucson for a day or so.

Spent a lot of time there with my dad and it was awesome. We got some beautiful crystals (prehnite, tektite, peridot, and clear calcite) and I got a few new skirts, a backpack, and a CD/bookcase. It was hard to leave the area and we hope it won't be so long before we're back out there!

Anyway, we're home now and Politesse is setting up his new computer he received from a class action lawsuit to replace his old crappy laptops. Yay! Nikita is very happy we are home and is crawling all over us.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thoughts on Google Plus

I should start off by saying that I am not a user of Google Plus and only heard of it recently when Politesse said he got an invite and thought he'd check it out. As you know, we initially left Facebook for a number of reasons: the top ones being privacy concerns, callous business practices, and the fact that in the end, it took a lot of time without adding any real depth or value to our relationships with people. That said, would a replacement Facebook be better? I'm not a marketing or trend analyst or anything, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about this new service that could actually offer a real threat to the current empire of social networking.
Part of the problem of THE social networking site (SNS) is that, as it is the only one of its kind, it sets the rules on what we can and can't experience. And that's just it, there has to be only one for this format to really work. The whole idea is that ALL your friends are using the same service; otherwise everyone will all be spread out and no one will really be connecting with each other in a vast sense (as Facebook et al. caters to being connected to friends by simply knowing them and not through shared limited interests as other sites may be). So in order for G+ to really work, it has to BE the next Facebook, it has to dominate it and replace it.

I'd rather see a new social networking model than a repeated Facebook model, and it seems as though things could possibly go in that direction with what G+ is promising. I am a huge internet user; I spend hours a day online doing all sorts of various things (networking over shared interests, for instance) but I am not comfortable sharing one identity across the board. I am also not comfortable with people in real life that I do not want contact with tracking me down and then associating me with things I'd rather them not know. So right off the bat the standard SNS model does not appeal to me. I'd be more interested in checking it out if it were something a little more flexible. When Facebook was created it was intended to be a networking site for just one college, and then for colleges in general, so the whole "real face real name" thing made sense as that was who you were trying to connect to. A lot of people know me as having XYZ interest, but an old college acquaintance is not going to know anything about me but the name my professor called out during roll. But that's not who I am online, so social networking sites that work by getting me to offer sensitive, personal information in the interest of connecting to bosses and professors is mostly irrelevant to me. What it really comes down to is this: because I am a part of so many separate interest communities online, will the social networking sites of the future offer something to me? Or will they force me to just choose one identity and forge my relationships around that?

And what about the other concerns? Google Plus starts off by creating a SNS that essentially caters to user complaints about Facebook, meaning that some of the issues we all know and hate are improved in G+. That sounds great, but would it be likely to last? I don't think so. If G+ dies in obscurity just like other attempts have, Facebook will still be the one setting the rules and they have already made clear these issues are not issues to them. If G+ does manage to take over, that means they will be setting all the rules. What rules will they set? Will they value user concerns, like privacy and convenience? Or will they value the bottom line at all costs, until some other company comes along and tries to do the exact same thing? Again, I have stated that I do not care for the standard model already available, and copying Facebook means copying that model. I’d hope to see it improved somehow, but it is unlikely to improve in any way that would interest me. Sure, you can group your friends easier and control who sees what content better. Sure, everything is streamlined and you can see your soccer buddies right along with your drinking buddies. Sure, you can keep tabs on all your forums at once. But doing so still requires me to give up exactly what I gained by leaving Facebook.

Again, this is all speculation. I really don't know where things will end up. But at the moment, I have no plans to join Google Plus as it stands, unless as one article suggested Blogger gets cut off and integrated with it, forcing me to use it anyway. And the irony of using a Google service to blog about another Google service unfavorably is not lost on me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crocheted Meatwad Hat

Finished Meatwad hat! (From Aqua Teen Hunger Force)

The picture quality is low (taken with my ipod) but: I crocheted the hat and sewed the felt eyes and mouth on. The white parts are embroidery over felt and the spots around him were made with cream colored embroidery floss. I love how it turned out!

I've also been learning to sew on a sewing machine and considering that I have never used one in my life, it is going pretty well! I also *gasp* bought an iron to smooth out my materials, and....

many more crafts to come, I hope!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

Hope it's fun for everyone!

Politesse and I had pancakes at IHOP, and then went to one of the neighboring towns to see their events. I bought a book I was really excited to see at our beloved used book store, and then we went out to Berkeley to see if they had set up for their event yet. They were packed with tents and vendors and we had a lot of fun walking around the marina. We decided not to stay until the fireworks show at 9pm, though, and chose instead to get a few nice things to make for dinner. After that we will have some good wine and probably play Monopoly to celebrate our country's leading principle, domination through capitalism!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blueberry pie


I don't like eating pie but have started a tradition to make a blueberry pie every year when the blueberries are cheap and widely available (they weren't so at the particular store I went to, for some reason, so I had to make due with what little they had).

So here it was when it came out of the oven. I even had some and it was pretty good and well received. :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


What an implausible summer we're having! First a rainstorm, than triple digit heat, and now I wake up and find it raining again. It's beautiful, though. It's been keeping up all morning, and there was a peal of thunder just now. Kita does not approve. We're even starting to get our "moat", the persistent puddle that forms at the base of our stairway making it inconvenient to get to our car. We were thinking of going out on a breakfast date, too, but that got canceled, so instead we're staying in, and talking to friends on the internet, and so far it is a pretty nice rainy day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Back to School!

After a rather short break, my summer quarter classes begin this week. I'm just taking two classes; one is an elective, a literature course on minority ethnic writers. The other will be a sociology course, the first I've ever taken in that discipline, on the causes of social inequality. So, a summer filled with a lot of reading and socioeconomic injustice. I'm looking forward to it! And since the one class is online and the other meets at the satellite campus nearer to my house, I won't have to be commuting nearly as much for the next few months. It's looking like a golden summer, and the first summer I've ever spent the majority of somewhere other than my hometown. It's good to be here, and good to be busy. As I commented to Zeo earlier, I really am happiest when I am in a class or two; undirected relaxation just makes me listless.

Meanwhile, still trying to make things happen on my thesis. I have a professor who has expressed willingness to consider my topic, but we've had trouble actually getting the ball rolling, which concerns me a bit since I'm still hoping to graduate next Spring, but also really want to go for the thesis option if I can. If I cannot, there is plenty of time to throw the comprehensive exam side of things together if necessary, so I'm not concerned about that. I'm more worried that the thesis topic will be approved, but not in time to graduate on schedule. In debt up to my ears, and looking to sign on for several years of a PhD program, that would not be an optimal situation.

But hopefully all that will work out. Meanwhile, I've been plunging into the primary research, and boy is it fun! Stumbled across the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, which has a mostly sociological focus but is topically right up my alley and publishes what looks like a fantastic academic journal. They were offering a two-year student membership for less than thirty dollars, so I signed up. Would not mind going to their annual conference in October, and it would be a good way to network with some of the people I might need to know to make the PhD thing fly, but I'm not seeing a trip to Milwaukee in my future. Old story!

That's all for today! Happy Midsummer everyone!

Monday, June 20, 2011


(Sorry for the meh quality)

I've been getting really big into crochet. It was something I've always wanted to learn how to do since I love colors and I love afghans. Well, I finally sat down and learned the basics, and now I'm going kind of crazy with it.

I made this lovely scarf which most of you have seen by now. I made Politesse a matching scarf and hat (pictures coming soon!). I've been making loads of bags and little things as well. 

I love doing it because the activity itself is gratifying, and when you are done you have something you can use! Everything a Virgo likes. :)

I'll keep you posted on further projects, and if you'd like a scarf or something made let me know!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I love to cook, and so does Zeo, though she didn't realize it yet when we first got married; it takes having someone to cook for to really make cooking fun. These days, we split the kitchen duties about evenly, which works out really well! And we're eating well, even through the recession. There's always enough for the things you really want. Especially if the things you want are really want are mushrooms and weird new animal species, and you're lucky enough to live in a town with cheap Asian supermarkets.

I'll cook with or without a recipe, and I'm not sure which I enjoy more. I love to try a new dish, especially one with a fancy pedigree and a back story. But I like making things up, too. We're near the end of our fresh vegetable cycle, so dinner tonight was more on the improvisational side. I started by sauteing oil, chopped onions and garlic, which became the base for a soup. Cubed daikon root and chicken bouillon followed, then a cup of button mushrooms. Finally, duo yuo lang noodles to bulk it up a bit. Pretty simple set-up, but for a experiment with limited materials, it came out really good! Wasn't sure whether to eat it with a fork or a spoon, and settled on both. But it tasted fine.

Hello from Zeo

Politesse and I have discussed this quite a bit and decided that leaving facebook is for the best, though we have to admit we were hesitant to leave a number of people we only have contact with through there. Truthfully, I am a reserved person and facebook's ethos never suited me. I've loved the chance to find old friends and hope they will continue to keep in touch, though, so welcome to our family blog!

The focus of this blog is to keep our family, friends, and those who are interested connected to our life in our small tree house in the bay area. We have our cat who we will be posting loads of pictures of, our crafts and various artistic works, our projects, jobs, studies, and so on to talk about. We have more mundane things to share, like awesome dinners and hikes and trips. We both like photography (although Politesse is actually good at it!) so there will be loads of photos.

In the interest of keeping this blog accessible to all, we will not be using a lot of personally identifying information as it is technically public. If you know us, though, this should be no problem since you already know these things. :)

Quitting Facebook

I've decided I'm going to close out my Facebook account, due to the company's ongoing culture war against privacy. If you've been watching the news, you've probably noticed the trend; Facebook seems to be determined to destroy the concept of privacy in America, something Zuckerberg (the CEO) is apparently unashamed of. He seems to think he has the right to invade anyone's privacy just because they dare to want the service he provides. Well, I'm not happy about that, and I think it's time to stop giving Facebook that tacit permission, even if it turns out to be a futile gesture in the broader scope of the decision they are pushing us to make as a culture.

I'm not happy about possibly losing contact with some people there, but I'm even more unhappy about being asked to willingly sign on to the sale and distribution of my personal information, and if Facebook continues as it has been doing, there's not amount of "opting out" that will prevent that from happening. Not even leaving the site, of course, but hopefully it will at least stem the tide a little, and I can sleep easier knowing I'm not actively contributing.

And really... though I hate to admit it... is someone who is only a friend through a click of a button really that close of a friend? But I will miss the folks who regularly posted on my Wall and whatnot. Sorry guys! Nevertheless, I feel this decision was overdue. Maybe its an echo of our primeval Pongidian past rooted in a corner of my psyche, or perhaps just my oft-neglected Scorpio side, but when someone tells me "Submit to my uncontested dominance or I'll stop giving you x", my natural inclination is to toss x out the window, and walk away.


Hello, I started this blog basically as a replacement for Facebook, which I just quit with fervor. Zeo caught on to what I was doing and we decided to make it kind of a family affair, which I am a lot more excited about than I was about the original idea. I'm envisioning occasional posts updating whoever happens to be interested on what's going on in our life, perhaps with occasional essays/rants on things that are on my mind. You know, like a blog. With pictures. Of Nikita. Who is precious.