Saturday, December 31, 2005

Archival Information

My New Year's post was going to be about the wonders of information technology - specifically, how we can now file every e-mail we every will get (spam excluded) on one tiny hard drive, back it up, search it according to any key (i.e., no need for pre-sorting or pre-allocation of keywords..), put a copy in a safe deposit box, ...

I prepared this post on my e-mail system, as I always do, and then lo and behold, my e-mail (in fact my whole computer) konked out. More specifically, it got wobbly. Every time it tried to start an application, it struggled, blinked, and ultimately stumbled. In short, I can't access my regular e-mail system.

Now I'm going to pat myself on the shoulder, because I actually had a fairly recent backup of my whole e-mail system, done just two weeks ago. Which made me remark again on how my happiness is tied to the existence of a little hard drive with a backup of years of e-mail and documents and letters and recipes...

So, please make sure to backup your computers - e-mail, files, and all - and have a wonderful New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My Favorite Haiku

Expressing ones thoughts
in seventeen syllables
is very diffic

Saturday, December 24, 2005


In Cold Blood was one of my favorite books as a teenager (it was in second place behind Catcher in the Rye), and the movie didn’t disappoint. The story of how Capote came to write the book, the development of his relationships with the protagonists and the townsfolk, the way he promoted his book to the press before he had even written a word of it, his advocacy to keep the killers alive while he was pumping them for information, and then his anxiety for them to finally get executed so that he could finish his book four years later – it was all pitch perfect and great. Excellent casting too. Perry Smith and Richard Hickock seemed to leap out of the page, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote was sublime . Ten out of ten on the Cosmo scale.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Picky Eaters

Is it possible that there’s a correlation between being a picky eater and being a confirmed bachelor? It has recently occurred to me that all the truly picky eaters that I know (I’m referring to men only here), are either long-term bachelors, or guys who resisted marriage for as long as they possibly could.

And if there’s a correlation, would it also be true that there’s a causal effect? That the carefulness and sensitivity associated with picky eating extends to their relationships with women?

Your opinion would be welcome.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hip Hip

Yesterday’s trip to the gym brought a strange juxtapositioning.

First, in the dressing room, a older lady, very trim and in spandex shorts, was dancing in front of the huge TV set up in the lounge area. Nothing particularly wrong with that, but it was disconcertingly odd. Then she started walking back and forth with large gawky strides in the wide dressing-area corridor. I assumed she had a few loose screws up there, was almost surprised no one rounded her up. And then I heard her tell the attendant that she hates this stuff, she’s just recovering from hip replacement surgery…

Walking out I saw two people watching over a large dog, one of them holding the dog’s rear end up high with a cloth strap wrapped around the dog’s hip, while the dog defecated on the lawn. I stopped and asked why. You guessed it. The dog had just had hip replacement surgery…

The European Melting Pot

The only thing that's melting is the pot...

Monday, December 12, 2005


I may have been one of the last in L.A. to hear about Kombucha, but there you have it, my first encounter was at a party last night. Instead of a keg of beer, there was an equally large bottle of the golden brown drink sitting on the table next to the vegetarian spread. I was prodded to try this Kombucha by the very enthusiastic brother of the proprietor of the (as it turns out) new Venice Kombucha business.

So here’s the scoop. Kombucha is a fermented drink made by placing a “tea mushroom” in a container of sweet black or green tea. As the tea ferments, the tea mushroom grows, eventually covering the whole top of the liquid, and gradually becoming thicker. Give it 8-12 days, and the Kombucha will be ready to drink. The tea mushroom can then be used for your next batch of Kombucha. The tea mushroom is actually a symbiotic combination of bacteria and yeast. In case you really want to know, the bacteria is Bacterium xylinum, and the yeast is a combination of Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Candida stellata, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Torulaspora delbrueckii and Zygosaccharomyces bailii. But as my daughter would say, this is probably TMI (too much information).

My Kombucha pusher gushed over the detoxifying, immune system boosting, cancer preventing aspects of this ancient Asian health drink. Not to mention its extraordinarily positive effects on one’s digestive system, and the very excellent effect on one’s chi.

What does it taste like? Well, first he let me try it raw – it’s not bad, tastes a bit like alcoholic apple cider, the kind they have in Ireland. Apparently it’s only about 1% alcohol, but it does have that nice warm-your-tummy feel to it. Then he added some apple juice to my drink, which made it even better and even more cidery.

I went home with a bottle of the stuff (a party favor) thinking I had discovered something new and fascinating and perhaps the cure to any illness I may ever develop. Then I looked it up on the internet and found out that a) it isn’t a new fad – the FDA issued a statement about it already back in 1995, and b) none of the people writing about it on the internet – even the diehard make-your-own, drink-it-every-day types – really believe it has any significant medicinal effects, at least not anything beyond drinking some apple vinegar every morning, which my mother has been doing for awhile. So… not too much to report I guess, but who knows, I may even get my own tea mushroom and whip up some Kombucha in my kitchen, just for the thrill of it.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Guy Complaining that Women Like Him Only for His Money...

... is like a woman complaining that men like her only for her looks.

Just a thought.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Small Pleasures

I stopped by my favorite hardware store today, Koontz Hardware in West Hollywood. They didn’t have what I was looking for (tin boxes that I could use for gifts of cookies), but they did have something I’ve really wanted. A replacement dough blade for my Cuisinart food processor. Even the internet didn’t have that.

Finding a tiny replacement part that suddenly brings a somewhat large and expensive appliance back to full working order is one of those delightful small pleasures of life…

Not Exactly Fifty Fifty

Here’s what I’m being told: Although it’s true that approximately 50% of babies born are girls, and 50% are boys, this doesn’t hold true within a family. Meaning, that apparently there are familial dispositions towards producing boys or girls. In other words if a couple’s first child is a boy, the likelihood of the next child being a boy is more than 50%. And vice versa.

This explains why there are more families with say, four boys and no girls or four girls and no boys, than would be statistically expected. The chance of having four children of the same sex, if there is no bias, is two to the power of three, which is one in eight. But when you look at families with four children, the chance of all the siblings being of the same sex is more than one in eight. You’ll ask me what the true chance is. I don’t know. But apparently it’s higher.

Which reminds me that many years ago there was a lot of buzz in Israel about army pilots having mostly daughters. It was deeply investigated. Was there something in the G forces exerted while flying fighter planes that killed off Y chromosome sperm? I don’t know if this question was ever resolved. It doesn’t have much to do with the subject at hand, because in this fighter pilot example you have a whole population (not just one family) where the distribution of sexes is not fifty fifty, but still, it’s interesting…

Women and Sweets

A friend of mine claims that women prefer sweet, men prefer savory (which means – as I found out not too long ago, salty…). Men prefer a steakhouse, women prefer a bakery. Men prefer scrambled eggs, women prefer waffles with syrup. Women, famously, love chocolate.

I can think of plenty of exceptions. Female friends that don’t like sweets, male friends that salivate for desert. But let’s assume that generally, my friend’s statement is true. What does it mean?

Well, it’s almost the equivalent of saying that men like proteins and women like carbs. Which in a pop science way would make sense. Men’s metabolism is geared towards building muscle, women’s metabolism is geared towards storing fat. And why? For the much ballyhooed evolutionary reasons that men need to fight, protect, conquer, while women need to store enough to sustain pregnancy and nursing.

Which of course doesn’t truly hold in our modern society. I’ll have to order a round of protein smoothies for all. It’s a nice, albeit not totally natural, combination of carbs and protein.

Way to Go!

My yoga instructors have started taking off on vacation – not their own vacations, rather, they’re off as instructors to their private students.

Think about it from the perspective of their clients: A cruise in the Carribean or a vacation at a seaside spa with a small group of friends, and your own, super qualified, yoga instructor. I admit that this is one of those examples of the cool stuff that money can buy that I really find appealing.

Harold Pinter

I quote from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, although most of you have probably already heard it:

"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

This reminds me of the Cannes Film Festival giving the Palme d’Or to Michael Moore Farenheit 911. In fact it’s even worse, although longer in the making. The Nobel committee has, for years now, turned the Nobel Prize in Literature to a political appointment, a selection of the author that best represents their world view. And in so doing, is gradually turning the prize into a joke. Not that Pinter isn’t a great playwright, in fact he’s probably the best writer to get the prize in recent years, but unlike the Nobel Prizes in the sciences, that are arguably a selection based on merit, the prize in literature is inarguably based on politics. Which makes it pretty ludicrous. The Nobel Prize committee should be ashamed. I don’t think they will be, but on the other hand the prize that they dispense is rapidly becoming known as third rate. Which is its own sweet revenge.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Have a Good Workout

That’s the customary greeting when you meet someone at the gym (pre-workout of course). Why do I find this a little funny? Not sure. Maybe because there’s something very predictable about a workout. If you like it, it’s going to be good, if you don’t, it won’t. It’s different from wishing someone a good day – where there’s a lot more variability in possible outcome. Saying “Have a good workout” is a bit like saying “Have a good shower”. Don’t you think?