Tuesday, February 28, 2006

another netflix post and how many more of these do I get?

Today we are getting Walk the Line from Netflix. I'm excited to see it before the Oscars. Does anyone have a favorite for Best Actress in a Leading Role? I only saw Pride and Prejudice of those movies...and Keira was good, but not Best Actress good... and I'm frankly a little sick of Judi Dench...and smudgy Charlize. I guess Reese Witherspoon might as well get it, just for going brunette.

Anyway I told Isaac last night that they were shipping Walk the Line, and he was appalled, "Can they send us other movies besides things that we want?" I guess he didn't realize exactly how much "maintenance" I have done to our queue. He really doesn't look at it at all, whereas I'm constantly rating things or seeing what Stacy liked and hated. I guess he also didn't realize how much I wanted to see Walk the Line. Anyway, "we" have 54 DVDs on our list so far, which is at least a year's worth at this rate.

Monday, February 27, 2006

weekend, from Sunday night at 6pm...

I had a really exciting weekend, and it seems like it didn't even start until 6pm last night. It included:

1. A riveting performance by the artists known as the G-quartet. I thought they all did a terrific job! Can't wait to hear the recording at some point.

2. An almost-show to said performance by Tom, the downstairs across the courtyard neighbor. He saw the fliers Isaac put up at work and asked me how much it cost (free) and if there was a dress code (no sir). I guess something else got in the way....but apparently we are like friendly acquaintances with the one of the people we spy on now. I would have loved to introduce him to Mai, Li-Ling and Tiffany.

3. The kind of strange laser dermatology post-doc who insinuated himself into our happy hour group came to the concert and had by far the best time of anyone there. His enthusiasm basically frightens me. Seriously. But I'm not about to begrudge anyone a good time.

4. Ummm, it was really REALLY cold and windy last night.

5. We were waiting for the bus and freezing our asses off, when we really should have just walked the 12 blocks, and this other guy waiting told Isaac he should button up the top button of his coat. Which was kind of a tip-off that he was odd...So then we had to get into the kind of strange conversation that you sometimes get into with people in New York, wherein we learned many interesting facts about the man.

a. He too was very cold, and thought it was one of the coldest day of the year. (ok, still pretty normal here)

b. He liked to step way out into the middle of the street and look for the bus coming. (getting a little weirder, but Isaac does this too...)

c. He used to wear trifocals, but ever since he stopped eating sugar and eating fruits and vegetables he doesn't need them anymore. Thinks maybe he was diabetic or something. (okay, we've crossed a line now)

d. He used to be able to see a bus from 20 blocks away when he was a kid...

e. Even 10 years ago, he could really spot those buses good.

f. He is 48, but thinks he probably looks like he's 38.

g. He's very concerned about the sensitive skin on Isaac's neck.

At this point, I pull out the ultimate conversation starter/ice breaker/defuser of weird conversation. I say, "He's from Alaska!" This is a totally fool-proof conversational ploy in almost every situation. I use it way too often when meeting strangers, and can't think of anything to say. Because everyone has about a million questions about Alaska, some stupider than others. Our bus stop friend (really a very nice man) had some good questions:

a. "Where in Alaska?" (this is always the first question, though remarkably few people have much of a grasp on Alaskan geography, but I think it's kind of a delaying tactic, so that you can have time to rephrase your slightly insensitive question about Eskimo wampum into a more acceptable form.)

b. "Is Fairbanks a modern city?" (I love that he asked this question, because he was obviously a native New Yorker, and I can only imagine that he is picturing that this Alaskan place is just now undergoing the Industrial Revolution or something.)

c. "Are there lots of office buildings and apartment buildings?" (such a New Yorker...)

d. "What's the rent like?" (ditto)

e. "What are the men like?" He tried to recover with, "I mean, what are the women like?" (isaac and I just stared at him. He went on to clarify, he had heard about the gender imbalance, that there are lots more men than women. I think he was picturing some kind of male version of the island of Lesbos or something...like an idyllic man-love sanctuary. Like the army, or prison, but without the violence. Isaac later said the first thing that popped into his head was whether the guy was asking about the price of a blowjob.

Then the bus came!!!

And we got on the bus, and our bus stop friend was so sweet, he said, "well, do you think the conversation warmed us up a little?" and I agreed with him. He managed to squeeze in a couple more questions about amount of daylight throughout the year and then we bade each other farewell. He said he would see us around, and I hope he does!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

umm, goodbye!

My groceries just got delivered this morning. I really hate that moment of handing over my "nominal tip" which is just so so awkward. The delivery guys must go through some sort of special training program where they act like they aren't expecting a tip at all, and they are kind of backing away from the door while I'm signing for the groceries. Because obviously no one wants to tip someone who expects a tip, they want to give a special surprise money gift...

I was so flustered this morning that I handed over my tip, and the guy looked at me all out of proportion grateful (part of the training too?) and then I told him GOOD NIGHT. It was 6:45am. Maybe he thinks I was up all night smoking crack? Because I already ran downstairs to try to let him in because I thought my buzzer wasn't working, but it really was, and delivery guy was like, I have another delivery in this building, I'll see you upstairs.

Anyway, it's just a matter of time before I have another awkward interaction with someone to push this one out of my head, thank goodness.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It's blog confessional time again...

I started doing something I've never done before. I started following a diet. Like, one with a name.

Over many years, my focus on making mostly healthy food choices has waxed and waned, swollen and deflated, gotten more focusy and less focusy at different points. First couple years of grad school, unfocusy...next two years, more focusy, last year...not so good. Postdoc...turgid focus at first...lately, baking binge...flaccid focus... can't stop eating. Anyway, I felt myself getting a little out of control lately, and there are certain things coming up, and I wouldn't mind feeling a little better about myself.

1. My 29th birthday...or as Isaac says, the beginning of the last year of the best decade of my life.

2. Visit to MN and its fine bloggers.

3. Easter. (all right I don't really care how I look at Easter, but my grandfather does occasionally comment if I have lost weight, (thanks Grandpa...) so maybe I should care).

4. The annual fundraising dinner with people from college. Also, someone remind me not to look so drunk in all the pictures this year. Step on my foot or something to stop me from laughing so much.

Soooo, I started this diet thing. It's the South Beach one. I've kept track of my food before, but never actually followed a list of things that I can and can't eat. I still think it might be a huge mistake, and judging by Isaac's reaction so far, he definitely thinks it's a big mistake. I was so embarrassed about it that I couldn't bring myself to tell Mai and Li-Ling and Tiffany why I refused to eat any rice or sweet sesame balls at the Chinese place the other night. Or drink the amazingly delicious whiskey they had as a present for Tiffany's piano teacher.

Anyway, I'd better just get used to telling people what I'm doing, since it will probably be for a couple of months. So, now you know blogfriends!


PS On a completely unrelated note to give you something else to comment about and stop you from focusing on my focus...Look how cute this doggy is...


new sources of amusement with netflix membership, and I haven't even gotten a DVD yet.

I'm so excited to see that Netflix has lots and lots of member reviews. I've always liked reading customer reviews on Amazon.com, and the way that you can come across some really "special" people who just have to tell you how they...

1. Know so so much about the subject which the book is written about, and they've know this since birth, long before they read the stupid book...

2. Know that they would hate this book, even though they would never actually read/buy/touch it with a ten foot pole (this is usually in the political category).

3. Hate all the other reviewers.

Other things I love about reading customer reviews (besides the obvious thing that they are sometimes actually helpful)

a. You can follow some of these wackos from review to review (otherwise how would I have known that the Jewish lady from California who was so down on Jewish intermarriage also loved that book about Tourette's syndrome, but hated her Rival crockpot for its splintery glass lid, and has been breastfeeding for 8 years straight.)

b. Sometimes looking up a person's wishlist I have gotten new nuggets of insight into their personality (like Stacy's MySpace experience). Like how I found out that an acquaintance had powerful anger problems that even she didn't know about. Yikes.

Anyway, I was so happy to find out that Netflix has similar delights for observation of the human in its natural movie-reviewing habitat.

About Millions, which was reviewed as "heartfelt" and "emotionally delicate" by the NYT,

Gayelynn Clayton gives 1 star:
The accents in this movie make it very hard to get into. My family was bored very early. We turned it off right when they got to the finding-money part. Unless you have the attention span of an 80 year old, don't get this movie.

About Sexy Beast, one of my favorite movies from a few years ago:

AK from Greensboro, GA gives 2 stars:
Ben Kingsley did excellent acting as a psychopath, but still did not redeem this movie. You couldn't understand half of what they were saying with their thick Aussie? accents.

Y'all, I must be a snob because I think this is the stupidest reason to criticize a movie. Have you people not figured out how to turn on the subtitles? Then again if you can't watch a movie in your native language with Australian or English accents, I'm guessing you don't watch too many foreign films?

Another one of my favorite movies, All About My Mother, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film:

MH from San Francisco, CA gives 1 Star:
This movie came to me highly recommended and I could not have been more dissapointed. It is another politically charged movie attempting to preach tolerance for sexual perverts and deviants. Worst of all, it protrays a nun, played by Penelope Cruz, having sexual relations with a transvestite and contracting AIDS from it. This movie could not have been more dissapointing.

I would LOVE to continue bring over Almodovar movies to watch with my good buddy MH just to see the look on his face when he sees yet another pervert. PS He didn't like Alexander either.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kind of flattering

I got another jury duty questionnaire in yesterday's mail...for the Federal Court system. I'm kind of glad that they asked me now, because I surely would have lost my proof of jury service in another couple of weeks. The federal courts will exempt me for four years, yay. I kind of wish that the federal courts had gotten to me first - I would have been interested to see what that was like. Instead I got another glimpse of a personal injury lawsuit and didn't even get to decide anything.

Last night I dreamed that I went to Jury Duty again, but it went wrong very quickly. It turned into a closed room mystery when one of the jurors brutally murdered somebody. It all kind of seemed to be taking place in some kind of old hotel too (like The Shining, eeeee). And were all going to be on some case FOREVER too. I didn't realize how pyschically traumatizing jury duty was....

Monday, February 13, 2006

pandas in snow

I just loved this picture. I wish I could get the PandaCam to work! Stupid technical difficulties.


My favorite piano quartet....

is playing Feb 26th at Steinway Hall. It's a free recital in case anyone is wondering. I can't wait to hear the whole program together after having attended some rehearsals. I've always had a great time hearing them play, even on out-of-tune pianos in big echo-y atriums. I guess that was just once...


they meant it.

Oh, it snowed all right. Isaac and I had to work our usual Sunday anyway, since we only had to walk a few blocks to work...

Here's our street:

Here's a bus stuck in the snow with its hazards blinking. I guess this one didn't have chains - we saw one driving around in chains on the snow-free Saturday, and I realized I had never seen tire chains before. I thought they would be more chain-y.

Here's 1st Avenue with no one driving on it. It was a really beautifully quiet time in the city.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Snow tomorrow I hope they mean it!

I don't really have a grasp on what winter has been like in other parts of the country, but we have had a really mild winter. It was kinda cold in December, but January was ridiculously warm (like 65 degrees one day). I am kind of excited to have a snow day tomorrow because I like the cozy feeling of being all snowed in and it's Saturday anyway. So I don't even have to feel guilty for wanting it to snow (like I ordinarily would for the sake of the poor commuters).

Isaac is out running right now, and I'm doing what I do best, drinking tea and sitting in front of the computer. When we were in China, Nick gave me and Isaac a set of 5 CDs, Mitsuko Uchida playing all the Mozart Piano Sonatas. We have listened to the CDs sporadically, but last night I ripped them all to our ITunes, and I'm looking forward to hearing them on my mp3 player at work. And putting them on Isaac's Ipod. He lets me borrow it sometimes...

In other news, I think that we are going to get a movie subscription thingy! Does anyone have an opinion about Netflix vs Blockbuster? Or some other company? We are thinking of getting just the very cheapest one-at-a-time plan since the library serves us pretty well, for everything but TV DVDs. We just got the 3rd season of Six Feet Under from the NYPL and watched the whole thing in a week and a half. If we wait for the library, we will not see season 4 until 2008. If we go to Blockbuster, it will cost us $5.50 for each of the 5 or so DVDs. I thought maybe we could buy the season for this much, but it turns out the HBO dvds are super-expensive. Anyway, speak up if you have strong opinions about one company or the other.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Last night's dinner was amazing!

I fear that my Minnesota friends might not be so excited about it though. Isaac picked a place, Sushi Yasuda, that we heard about from Eric. Eric told us that it was the best sushi he'd ever had, and it was definitely the best sushi we ever had too. We started out by ordering the sushi/sashimi combo. Our miso soup was delicious, and our sashimi choices were pre-chosen for us. They were served with fresh wasabi, which I'd never had before. It had the wasabi taste that you get in the prepared wasabi, but along with it was an undertone of richness and a teensy bit of sweetness. My favorite of the sashimi was the melty-mouthy Spanish mackerel. So good. Then came our sushi choices, and everything was really good. I had never had clams as sushi before, and I ordered the Cherrystone variety. It was so delicious, as was the freshwater eel, and white king salmon roll.

We were still hungry, so we ordered a bunch more sushi a la carte. The sushi menu has a bunch of the fish marked in red as the chef's special recommendations for the day. I thought I would die with pleasure tasting the unagi and anago eel sushi. Eel has always been my favorite - I could eat eel sushi pretty much all day long. The waitress misunderstood me at first and brought a tamago (egg custard) sushi instead of the unagi. The luckier Christine...The tamago was so sweet and light and lovely. They brought us green tea and we ordered mochi green tea ice cream to finish it up. Yum.

Our waitress was very very nice, and so was the older man who repositiioned Isaac's bowl and sushi platter for him. The place was really relaxed and cozy in its bright light woodiness. I was expecting it to be more expensive. I had read that the sushi were $6-8 a piece, but the things we ordered were more like $3.50-6. Maybe if you sit at the sushi bar and order omakase (in the sushi chef's hands) then it is much more. As it was we got out having spent $120 including tax and tip. Granted, we didn't have any alcohol. But I was plenty satisfied and now I have all those flavors in my head and coming back to me all day today.

Thanks Isaac for picking such a nice place!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Today is our surprise Valentine's Day!

It's very exciting - Isaac got up and wished me a happy Valentine's Day and then I got presents! We're going somewhere for a surprise nice dinner too. We haven't gone out for dinner on Feb 14th itself in a while - they are always too busy and the food's usually not as good. I'm so impressed with Isaac for planning so far ahead, and I have to say - he never planned anything like this before we got married. Things are good!

Last year's chocolate receptacle...


Friday, February 03, 2006

in the category of things you think maybe you shouldn't be teary about, but really can't help it.

I read WalkTrotCanter's post about solitary old men and the weepy response they evoke in her. Then I just watched this song and video from my friend (not really) Jonathan Coulton's website about Flickr. I love Flickr, and this is such a lovely tribute that it made me choke back something halfway between a sob and a laugh...especially that last picture of the kid with the eye patch. So touching.

[I don't know what's wrong with me either.]

So I totally got out of my last day of jury duty!

It was a fun exercise in sitting around for most of the time. Here were the most exciting things that happened in the two days I was there. First, I and 29 other people got called into a room for voir dire, where the attorneys questioned us to see if we could be impartial and fair jurors in the case of a man who slipped in some olive oil at the supermarket. Much more interesting than the case was the variety of people who sat in the room with me...what a great excuse to hear about peoples lives. Among the characters were:

1. A personal trainer, who I had already heard cancelling with a client saying, "so I won't be able to make it tomorrow to beat the shit out of you, ha ha!" I was kind of glad to hear the personal trainer explanation.

2. A woman who just passed her physical exam to be a NYC firefighter, one of only 19 out of 400 to get a perfect score. She used to be a cop before that. She was a little scary actually.

3. A kindergarten teacher who was going to be traveling to London for continuing education in the summer, so skipped out on the kiddies for jury duty.

4. A guy with a really strong French accent who taught Greek and Latin. The attorney for the plantiff observed, so you have a really strong accent....he was like YES I do! (All proud) The attorney says, but you've been here how long...the accented man says 50 YEARS! And I will have the accent for 50 more years! We all laughed and applauded.

5. A Filipino man who was a lawyer in the Phillipines but now he does data processing. He was also a huge opera fan.

6. The guy in front of me who talked about yoga nonstop to the girl in front of me. He kept giving her more and more addresses of yoga places. At first she was writing them down, and then later, not so much....

7. The yoga girl in front of me works for Absolut Vodka in a marketing job. At first I thought she meant as one of the pretty girls who goes around giving people free shots, but even though she was very cute, I think she meant a desk job.

8. There was a total Greek Shipping Tycoon there too. He wore a suit both days I saw him.

Anyway, there were many more people...

The second day, I was determined to get a little exercise on my lunch break. There was nothing going on, and our lunch break was almost 2 hours long. I walked up to where else, Chinatown. I was very proud of myself for not getting lost. I am getting over some of my fear of the "off the grid" part of Manhattan below the numbered streets. It helps to realize that it is still pretty much a grid, and as long as you keep track of whether you are going north, south, east or west (God help me) it is not so bad.

So I stopped on Mosco Street in Chinatown and got 5 dumplings for $1. With that vinegary stuff, yum! I think the place was called, Happy Dumpling, Tasty Dumpling or Lucky Dumpling, something like that. Never mind, I just looked it up and it was Fried Dumpling. They were yummy dumplings and I ate them happily standing up near the counter, next to the trashcan. It was packed in there. Brought home some Chinese pastries for Isaac (okay and one for me too) and I had time to go to the big grocery store and get some Thai Basil and rice noodles.

Then i got back to the jury room and waited for another 1.5 hours. Then they called some of us aside, and I thought we were going to be stuck there until 5pm...but instead we got our little proof of service cards and went home. I've never seen so many giddy New Yorkers...


I have to post these pictures... Last Sunday I met Mai and Richard for Chinese New Year's festivities. There was supposed to be some sort of firecracker ceremony at noon. We stood around and confetti rained down upon us and got stuck in our hair. iAt 12:15, someone sang the American National Anthem, which seemed a little strange, but i guess that's what you do when there is a crowd gathered. Then it drizzled a little. Then we couldn't stand being packed in there anymore and made our way out of the crowd. i wonder what the ceremony was like

Mai and Richard


Mostly non-Chinese people


Small children get dressed up fancy:


Blurry dragon dancing


We beat a retreat to Little Italy to meet Li-Ling and get a clam pie. Yum.


The end. Much better pictures taken by other people can be found at Flickr!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

my time is up

Today is Jury Duty! I'm all ready to do my civic duty, and everyone I havve told has given me as much advice as possible.

1. Don't sit near anyone who looks talkative.

2. If this means sitting next to someone who under other circumstances might be scary, slumped over and sleeping, that is fine.

3. Bring a book - check. I've got Becoming Justice Blackmun, in keeping with the courthouse theme...

4. Bring a laptop with wireless - oh, if only I could, but I don't have a laptop with a wireless card.

5. There are nice wooden benches in some hallway which are good for sleeping on.

6. I wish someone had told me what to do for lunch. Do they have a microwave? I've got a ton of leftovers to eat up.

All right, I'd better get dressed.