Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Friday, December 30, 2005


My parents "retired" to Savannah 5 years ago. I use the word retired loosely since "retirement" lasted 6 months then they both started new businesses. My mom migrated from interior design to full-time watercolor artist and created a line of jewelry. My dad migrated from oil company exec to Tim Allen, he now remodels homes. Both spent 15 years looking for the perfect location for "retirement". My mom had to be in warm weather and close to a large art scene. My dad required a nearby golf course and proximity to water. Savannah had it all.

They bought this lot 15 years ago and sat on it until they were ready to leave New Orleans. It took 2 years to build and another 2 years for my mom to decorate to her liking. Southern Living photographed the inside a few years ago, my mom really outdid herself in every possible way. My dad and his golden retriever were banished to the basement for the majority of the "decoration era", they were much happier there :)

Fountain and walkup

Christmas table

View from my room

The city has a very interesting history. It was founded in the 1730's by James Oglethorpe who was on charter from the King of England, its purpose was to act as a buffer for South Carolina to prevent the Spanish from advancing from Florida. Oglethorpe was responsible for developing the city around 24 park-like squares, 21 of which have been preserved.

While initially slavery-free, Savannah began participating in the slave trade arena in the late 1700's. Cotton and shipping dominated commerce for them in the early 1800's and Savannah grew in reputation to be the New York City of the South.

In 1820 a fire devistated over half the city, followed by an outbreak of Yellow Fever later that year, which killed 10% of its population. The city rebuilt and more people arrived but only to be devistated once again in the 1860's by the Civil War. Savannah eventually fell to General Sherman but he was so captured by the beauty of the city that he ordered it untouched. Today it is one of the few cities in the South where you can see architecture from the 1700's.

Present day Savannah thrives on tourism and a booming real estate market as people discover its value in contrast to its overpriced neighbors in Florida.

Talk to anyone living in Savannah and they will tell you it was the first and it will be the last city of Georgia. While Altanta leads the state in income and industry, they will all tell you there is no Georgia without Savannah.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Checking In

Just checking in to say Hey!

Don't have too much to say tonight. Finished up with Savannah and Raleigh. I like Raleigh but I think it might be too small for my urban taste. I'm planning on making another trip in January just to check it out on a Friday night not during the holiday season.

I just counted the number of states I've been through in the last week: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana. LOL, yikes.

Tomorrow my niece and I will make our Christmas sushi :)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Accidental Viewing

I've been looking for a belt; a black canvas belt with a solid rectangular buckle, clasp closure. Sounds easy enough. Yesterday Dillards, no belt but I walked away with a pair of jeans. Today Union Jack, no belt but I walked away with a watch. Then The Gap in West Village, no belt but I walked away with a scarf.

On the way back to my car I saw that Brokeback Mountain had opened at Magnolia. I was determined to sit through the whole thing without crying this time. So, me and two hundred of my closest friends sat through another incredible two plus hours. I had pocket Kleenex in my coat so I was feeling prepared. I did really well until the end, the final scene with Ledger and the shirts made me lose it, for the second time. I was not alone though, my two hundred closest friends were trying to remain composed but were ultimately unsuccessful.

There will be a third viewing, I will be triumphant! :)

A suggestion, I would get tickets online, in advance. Its showing on three screens at Magnolia and even the 11:15am showing was full, very full.

DJ Mark Farina

A friend of mine just turned me on to DJ Mark Farina and the compilation CDs called Mushroom Jazz. It is very much in the style of Buddha Bar or Hotel Costes but with more of a trip-hop, acid jazz slant. Expertly cross-faded into one big hour-long track, it has a sexy, modern, bass-heavy dinner party feeling.

Naturally there is no video to accompany but here is the Amazon linkage for Volume 1 Mushroom Jazz Vol. 1

Thursday, December 15, 2005

AM Extroversion

This phone call is actually from yesterday morning. This guy is cracking me up!

Hello, this is Jim

Hey, its The Extrovert, I was doing my Christmas cards last night and was wondering if I could have your address to send you one.

Sure but I'm not sending cards this year, I'm donating to charity instead so just dont expect to receive one in return.

Oh, actually I like giving more than receiving, in fact, I'm 100% giver, I could give, give, give all the time. I'm probably the best giver you've ...

(Its a phone call but I can still see the winking)

LOL, I'm hangin' up now.

LOL, Jim, you know I can't help it. I really did enjoy meeting you.

Me too, we'll do it again sometime.

Good, I'd like that. Now if you need anything be sure to call me. I just live across the street and I'd be more than happy to run over and give it to you!

LOL, I'm hangin' up now.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Over the next couple of weeks I'll be in and out of town; some holiday related travel and some investigation of new cities to live. The last couple of moves I've made have been more spontaneous rather than strategic, so I'm trying to be more analytical in my approach.

According to the Milken Institute Report, here is the ranking for best Life Sciences cities, in terms of work force density and available opportunities.

1. San Diego
2. Boston
3. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill
4. San Jose
5. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Philadelphia
8. San Francisco
9. Oakland
10. Los Angeles-Long Beach
11. Orange County, CA
12. Austin-San Marcos

I've added Altanta (CDC), Houston (MD Anderson) and Dallas (Baylor and UTSW).

I've lived in or worked in almost all of those cities except Boston, Raleigh, and Seattle. I've visited Boston and Raleigh but those visits have been 1 or 2 day business trips, not really enough time to explore. I've never been to Seattle.

Boston is great from the tiny bit I've seen. You have to love the culture, the local history and all of the distinct ethnic neighborhoods. The people seem smart, sarcastic, friendly in a distant and cautious way, in this respect it reminds me of NYC.

Raleigh is also great. What it lacks in culture (compared to Boston) it makes up for with great weather (4 mild seasons) and drop dead gorgeous scenery. Raleigh has the lowest unemployment of any city in the US and strangely, it has the highest number of PHD's per capita of any city in the US (I find this a little intimidating).

I like Atlanta too, its comparable to Dallas in many ways but one huge advantage is that it has real public transport. I haven't been to Atlanta in 10 years so I'm assuming its changed a little. Atlanta has a nice metro feel, moderate climate and its closer to the parents.

Its an east coast run this time. I was going to try to do all three over Christmas break but I think I will wait until Spring for Boston, maybe the white stuff will be gone by then :)?

If anyone has insight into Boston, Raleigh or Atlanta, feel free to comment, good or bad.

The Extrovert

Ladies and gentleman, children of all ages, please take your seats under the big top, the circus of Dallas Dating is about to begin.

The Blind Date happened, lol.

We made plans to meet for coffee at a place not far from me. I could spot Blind Date from my car even though all I knew was that I was looking for an Italian in a blue shirt. Turned out it wasn't just any blue shirt, it was a royal blue Jocko stretchy tank top. Oh, lord. Its not so much the tank top, since I have one just like it, rather it was the fact that he was wearing it 40 degree weather. Who the heck wears a tank top in 40 degree weather?

Scary, but I decided to go in anyway, lol.

Introductions, coffee and I unwrapped myself from my leather jacket, scarf and wool beanie cocoon. You know I had to get the tank top issue on the table.

Arent you cold in just a tank top?
Not really, I'm Italian, we're all kind of hot blooded you know *wink

Yeah, ok, lol.

There was some chatter about his youth in New Jersey, family, moving to Dallas with the old partner, now removed. But all the while Blind Date is flexing every time he picks up his coffee, moves, stretches, breathes. It was exaggerated and intentional -- look at me, look at me, I work out! There were even a few gratuitous pec flips. Cheeseball, lol. OK, Blind Date does have a nice body but so what, everyone in Dallas has a nice body, Dallas might as well be Los Angeles without the ocean or nice weather.

Blind Date started asking questions.

So what do you do?
Software but I'm in school to do more of a medically related career.
So, your into playing doctor? *wink. I like playing doctor *wink

OK. What's with the cheesy wink thing? Its a good thing I'm only willing to commit to coffee for an initial meeting. Coffee meetings give you an implicit out after 30 minutes or you can extend for hours if you're having a good time. My turn to ask questions.

So what do you do?
I'm an accountant.
So you enjoy that?
I'd like it better if I could do it naked, *wink.

OK. Again with the sexual inuendo and the cheesy winking. Has anyone else noticed that time is moving at a much slower pace tonight? I'll fast forward through the rest of the conversation but rest assured there was more winking, flexing and inuendo. At some point it registered with Blind Date that his usual hook-em routine was not working with me, at that point he made a good observation.

You're an introvert, aren't you?
Well, yeah.
That must really confuse alot of people

Pretty smart for a cheeseball. I am introverted, as in my world is defined through internal mechanisms, concepts and abstractions that I perceive or feel. As opposed to Blind Date, who is a flaming extrovert, someone who is defined by everything physical around them. And this has confused people because most relate introverted with shy, unsocial or self-absorbed. I'm defintely not shy and I socialize plenty when I have the time. Self-absorbed? Well, opinions vary, lol.

After that revelation Blind Date turned it down a little, stopped the winking, put on his jacket and we had more coffee and another hour's worth of conversation. During this time we discovered that we live within walking distance of each other, which seemed to really appeal to Blind Date.

How convenient, maybe I will stop by after my evening jog, *wink
Maybe you'll call first. Oh hey, do you read blogs?
No, not really, why?
No reason, just curious, *wink

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Friday and the weekend have been busy.

He decided to stay over Friday as well to check out the Dallas night scene. Luckily I had other plans so he was on his own. If you happened to be out on Friday night and were approached by a tall, slightly intoxicated, very aggressive Persian man in cowboy boots, well, now you know who that was, lol.

I zoomed up to UTD to give my final presentation for Data Mining. It was nothing really, just an administrative detail, since I already had my grade. Just nice to wrap up the to do list.

Birthday Group Party

Four December birthdays. We decided to do them all at once at De Tapas, our northern most Spanish Tapas restaurant. I've been here so many times I can't count but I had the best Octopus in Paprika that night, it wasnt on the menu but our server highly recommended. Wow, it was like abalone!

The rest of the kids took the night into the wee hours, particularly Noeha and the German boys at the end of the table, one of whom is going back to Germany next week. I on the other hand came home to get some rest since I had the blind date the next day :)

Walk The Line
HOLY CRAP! Joaquin Phoenix has always been a favorite but now he's gone up a few notches. He is Johnny Cash - voice, walk, facial expressions, everything.

Reese Witherspoon - excellent, who knew she could sing and who knew she could actually act! Also good was Robert Patrick as Johnny Cash's father. Its going to be a tough choice at award night - Walk The Line, Capote, Brokeback. If you haven't seen these three, get busy!

Blind Date
So that happened and I'll write about it later. It was kinda funny.

Oklahoma City
What kind of moron am I to agree to drive with friends 3 hours to Oklahoma City to go to a birthday lunch, then drive 3 hours back to Dallas. At least I won't be doing the driving. I will able to catch up with my Netflix movies in the car, since one guy has a portable DVD player.

Hope everyones weekend has been going well!


  • 1 Pound Ground lamb (or shrimp or tofu)
  • 2 Onions, finely sliced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 C Olive oil
  • 1/2 t Nutmeg
  • 2 T Cinnamon
  • 1/4 t Tumeric
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1/2 t Pepper
  • 2 Medium Eggplants
  • 3 T Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 C Tomato Juice / Sauce
  • 2 Lemons, freshly squeezed

1 Brown meat, onion and garlic in 3 T oil. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, tumeric, salt and pepper.

2 Pour in 3 C water, boil and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

3 Peel eggplants, cut lengthwise into quarters. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

4 Add tomato paste, tomato juice or sauce, lemon juice to the meat, mix well, taste and adjust seasoning.

5 Preheat oven to 350.

6 Saute eggplant in skillet with the rest of the oil (alternatively bake them).

7 Pour meat mixture into a deep oven-proof dish and lay eggplant on top. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.

8 Serve with hot Chelo.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Chelo (Persian Rice)

  • 3 C Basmati
  • 8 C Water
  • 2 T Salt
  • 1 Stick Butter, melted
  • 1/2 t Saffron, dissolved in 2T hot water

1 Clean and wash rice 5 times in cold water.

2 Soak the rice in 8 cups of water with 2T of salt for at least two hours. Drain and wash.

3 Bring 8 cups of water and 2T of salt to a boil in a large pot. Pour the rice into the pot and boil for 6 minutes, stirring several times to loosen grains stuck to the bottom. Drain rice and rinse in lukewarm water.

4 In the same pot heat half the butter, 2T water and a drop of dissolved saffron.

5 Put the drained rice back into the pot.

6 Dissolve the remaining butter in 2T of hot water and pour over the rice. Place a clean dishtowel over the pot and cover firmly with a lid to prevent steam from escaping. Cook 10 minutes over medium heat, then 50 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat.

7 Cool for 5 minutes without removing the lid. Take out 1C of rice and mix with the remaining safrron. Reserve this rice as a garnish.

8 Gently remove the rice from the pot and place into a large platter (gently because there will be a crust at the bottom). Detach crust at bottom with a wooden spoon and serve on the side (this part is considered a delicacy).


Good morning Blogville and welcome to WJIM, all requests, all day. Today I have some distrubing news. My friend Luis got dumped last night, its a sad, sad tale. Luis, if your out there and listening, this one is for you. I got your faux-sad message and I know you gave him the best 4 days of your life but someone else will come along, stay strong (smirk :)

Its moments like these when we need the sounds of survival with a subtle hint of revenge.

For those of you that didnt get dumped, enjoy the funky Motown sound and sight of Basement Jaxx.

Good Luck

Friday, December 09, 2005

14-Year Monkey

My friend, Lauren, lived in Tehran for 5 years so she is familiar with Persian food. When I asked her for new dishes to create she immediately pulled out her favorites: Chelo and Bandemjan. (I'll post how-to's for these later) Bademjan is an eggplant and lamb stew. Or in my case eggplant and shrimp. Chelo is rice, but its a really good rice that takes over 5 hours to make. Complicated, yes, but its worth the 5 hour investment. I made one round last weekend and another yesterday since I refused to go outside in single digit wind chills.

I was feeling kinda smug in my Chelo accomplishment so I decided to brag. Naturally I called the Persian ex in Houston. I didn't bother to say 'Hi, its Jim, how have you been?', even though its been a year since we last spoke. I just blurted out.

My Chelo is better than your Chelo and my Bademjan kicks your Bademjan's ass!

He laughed, there was no need to ask who I was, he knew. We chatted idly for a while about mutual friends then eventually came back to the food. Food was our main thing in common on the surface; to say that we are foodies is an understatement. Beyond the surface it was our constant and compulsive need to learn that formed our commonality, our only commonality. Our differences were what kept us together. We fought feverishly as a result of those differences, always followed by feverish making up which ultimately lead to our better understanding of each other. Learning, the hard way.

If you can make Chelo and Bandemjan, you are officially Persian. Now you need a Persian to do the official tasting, I'll be up in 4 hours.

OK, let me interject. If anyone other than Tariq was to say this I would laugh, since it would be insane to think that someone would hop in their car and drive four hours to have dinner, particularly when they haven't been invited. But this isn't someone else, its him, the King Of Impulse. This was one of our deal-breakers - crazy impulsiveness. Novel in the beginning but after 18 months of non-stop impulsiveness combined with wicked jealously and a tendency to drink too much, not so good.

So I laughed it off.

Very funny, how are your sisters?

They're great. Did you want a red or white wine with dinner?

Consistency is only good when you like the thing that is consistent. One of the other deal-breakers was the pitbull stubborness. If only because I am the same way. Once an idea has lodged itself into Tariq's mind it is going to happen; like a bull to a red cape he will charge through without any concern for what gets trampled along the way.

Very funny smart guy, you don't even know where I live.

I win, I win! I never updated him on my new address since we have a phone-based or in-person friendship now.

Actually, I do, your friend John gave me your address a couple of years ago. I just looked it up on MapQuest, it looks easy enough to find.

John, that moron!

Seriously Tariq, I have friends coming over, theres no space for another I'm afraid.

OK, now I'm doing my laugh, the laugh that is to cover up the fact that Im getting pissed off. Pissed off and a little concerned because I can hear the furious keyboard clicking in the background. What the hell are you up to, crazy man.

Good, I'd like meeting your friends, you have excellent taste in friends. I just booked a room at the Holiday Inn at Love Field, it looks close to you.

Dammit, now I have to find friends to come over last-minute for dinner since I just lied out of my ass, lol.

Jim, we haven't seen each other in two years, this will be a good way for us to catch up. We should spend more time together than once every two years, you were always a very special person to me.

Pure spin doctor.

For those of you who do not speak Tariq-ese, let me translate. I'm not seeing anyone right now and I'm bored. But the words appeal on both a logical and sentimental level, don't they? He quickly found the secret to winning situational discrepancies with me -- appeal to my sense of logic and throw in a side of smooth but not too effusive sentiment. Bastard. I know I'm not winning this one because I can already hear the sound of jeans and boots going into an overnight bag. The bull has lowered his head, the horns are aimed, either step aside or you are going to be gored.

I should also explain that Tariq doesn't work, not conventionally. His family owns a grocery store and rental properties. When his father died, it left him as the man of the family so he calls the shots and has absolute control over his domain. This was also a sticky point with us since he has no concept of having to be somewhere at a certain time or having to answer to someone else.

I could try the I'll be asleep by the time you get here routine but its only 5p and he knows I don't get to sleep before 1a. I could try the I have to study excuse but he would browse UTD's website and find out that finals were over last week. Maybe the I'm seeing someone special and therefore you being here would be awkward plea? Nope, he would double back to John and discover that isnt true. But I have to work tomorrow. Nope, he knows I work at home and he probably remembers that I never work in December. Maybe I have plans later? No, I just screwed myself into a corner with the imaginary friends coming to dinner, lol.


That sounds nice Tariq, I'll see you around 9:30

He brought red and white, we had a little of both with dinner and we did catch up. I admitted that there were no friends coming over, he smiled his smug, all-knowing smile.
And you thought I didn't know that?

He liked my place calling it 'compact and well appointed, just like you'. (Wait, was that a short joke? No, I guess not, not if you say it with a smile :) He even admitted that my versions of Chelo and Bademjan were better than his, which must have been difficult considering his bigger-than-Texas ego. At 1am he washed, dried and put away all of the dishes, which I found interesting because he never once did that before.

All things considered it was a good evening. But there were too many hestitations on his way out, too many downward glances avoiding eye contact, the free-flowing smooth Persian rap stuck dry in his throat. I opened the door for him to leave but he closed it.

I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for the horrible way I acted at the end.

He is referring to the 'unfortunate incident' involving his impulsiveness, jealousy and drinking too much that ended with neighbors calling the Houston police. Of course, at the time, he deemed this my fault because he could never accept responsibility for anything. It was distinctly over after that day, no discussion necessary.

Don't be silly, that was 14 years ago, we were kids, all is forgiven.

14 years. Some people are slow to make an apology. Forgiven, yes. Forgotten, no, but we'll save those ugly details for some other day.

Good, I'll call you tomorrow?

14 years. Its a long time to carry a monkey.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Decoration, Epilogue

Viola! Now you understand why I don't put up a tree, I would have to start the decorating in June :)

The Coffee Table
A blogger asked me last night where I bought my coffee table. Well, I didn't. Its makeshift. The 'base' consists of four pedestals I got from an internet store. They were white concrete until one afternoon, in a fit of artistic insanity, I took a paintbrush and 7 colors to them. The 'top' is an old oak-framed mirror I've been dragging around with me since the 80's. Instead of stuffing it under the bed (yet again, since it weighs 75 pounds requiring 4 molly bolts in a stud) I took some paint to it too. Poof, its a coffee table.

I've been reluctant to write anything about dating, since I'm having mixed feelings about the whole thing. It doesn't have much to do with the people I have been seeing, they are actually solid on most levels. But the reality is that I will likely have to leave Dallas this time next year to pursue the new career. I don't have a problem with it, since when I date I don't expect that it will necessarily lead anywhere. But I seem to be in the minority with that thinking.

I've been up-front with the moving thing and at least the words coming back to me are 'thats cool, we'll see how it goes'. But I rarely listen to words, I read people's body language and whats in their eyes. What I read consistently is disappointment, which makes me feel awkward. Dating is supposed to be fun, isn't it? This is also contrary to my other friends who are dating to find THE ONE and consistently find people only wanting something more casual. Maybe I should propose a switch :)

Two of my lesbian friends are hounding me to meet yet another because 'we know you two will become the best of friends'. Right, that is why they keep going over the physical characteristics of this person, because that is something that leads to 'best friends'. LOL, do I look like I'm 12? I finally caved in just so they would ease up on the daily calls. We were supposed to meet last night but I pulled the weather trump card (see above). Fortunately it met with total agreement. We rescheduled but I hope this won't be another disappointed face.

Anyway, I'm babbling ... moving on ...

Fall '05 Wrap Up

  • Biochemistry A
  • Bioinformatics A
  • Data Mining A
  • Cell Biology A

I don't normally care too much about grades, its more the content I'm going after. But I found out today after talking to a colleague at MD Anderson that if I expect to be involved in Cancer or HIV research, I should be concerned about them, particularly at any facility involved in academics. OK, I will be concerned now. He went on to say that some places will not consider you if your GPA is under a 3.8. OK, now I will be more than concerned. Sheesh, brutal cutoff, its almost like med school, I hope he was kidding but he's a hard read on the phone.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Decoration, Redux

The pressure is exquisite. Everyone will be expecting me to place a second ornament this morning. That coffee table is looking really big, what if I put the ornament in the wrong place? Its OK, just relax. Breathe.

Unpack the ornament, unpack the holder, hang the ornament on the holder. Whew, I'm spent! Its past noon in India, so as Jimbo so graciously pointed out, its more than acceptable to have a martini :)

To celebrate yesterday's decorating frenzy I had lunch out with my friend Deborah. We tried a new place.

Piman Asian Bistro
4835 N. O'Connor Blvd.
Irving, TX 75062
Phone: 972-650-0001

Piman is in the Las Colinas area, a nice business park / high-rent district due west of Dallas. I lived in this area years ago when I first moved to Dallas. While it is a nice area, it also has a strangely homogenized and beautifully sterile feel, as if all of the character has been swept under the rug for the arrival of hyper-critical royalty.

Piman has that same feeling on the inside, I call it strip-mall chic. Minimally decorated in shades of maroon and Pier One Buddha heads, it does not say 'take me here for a special occassion' rather, it says 'business lunch' or 'stop here for a solo dining experience on your way home'.

The Plate
But who cares about the decor, I don't, I'm a foodie, so let's get to the food. Piman is another entry in the Pan-Asian market. Pan-Asian, in their case, meaning they offer a little of Chinese, Japanese and Thai. I went full-on Thai.

Tom Yum, the quintessential Thai soup made from chicken broth, lemongrass, tomatoes, green onion and chili oil, was extraordinary. Piman, I believe, makes theirs out of shrimp paste, since my cup had a distinct seafood flavor rather than chicken. High lemongrass brightened up every drop. Generous drops of chili oil warmed up an otherwise chilly afternoon.

Spicy Basil, pick your choice of meat. Strange that there was no veggie option but no bother. The rice is presented in a vertical cone shape, nice, I like tall rice. The spicy basil concoction looks deceptively light on sauce but you better do some deep breathing exercises before you dig in. Someone get me a glass of water before my damn head explodes; very good but very spicy, as advertised. Other than the heat, the Spicy Basil had a slightly savory orange-infused sauce which was excellent against a modest amount of tender chicken, snow peas, carrot rounds and slivers of onion.

Very decent lunch specials from $6-9; Tom Yum large cup $3-4

Deborah and I had not seen each other since July, busy overscheduled people that we are. Our server was very good at quietly checking up on us every 5 minutes to see if we were ready to order. Drinks, soup and meals came in a timely, almost invisible manner.

If you work/live in the area, Piman could easily become a regular stop for your Pan-Asian cravings otherwise I wouldn't make a special trip out to Las Colinas to eat here.

In other news ...

Brian the Desert Mo has outdone himself with a truly remarkable story of survival, I found it ultimately life-affirming. If you can read the whole thing and remain unmoved I will award you the first ever, hand-made, yet-to-be-designed 2005 Cast-Iron Bitch Award.

(Brian, of course, you will not be able enter the contest :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I was inspired by Persian Guy to decorate for Christmas.

Unpack the ornament, unpack the holder, hang the ornament on the holder. Whew, I'm spent!

Is 9am too early for a martini? :)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Tradition, Interrupted

My parents are traditional in a sense. They love the holidays or rather the routine of the holidays. My mom cracks the whip on my dad the day after Thanksgiving to get all 50 boxes (no joke) of Christmas decorations out of the attic. He spends the next week, stringing up lights, affixing wreaths to doors, lamposts and mailboxes, putting up the 2 trees and hanging the way-high ornaments since my mom is only 5'2".

My mom covers every available surface with Christmas cheer. She starts the shopping in June. The envelopes are addressed, stamped and ready for the handmade card (mom is an artist) by Dec 1st. The handwritten notes get applied to all 500 (again, not kidding) cards by Dec 8th; they are all mailed on Dec 9th.

And so it has been for the last 43 years of their lives together.

My sister and I have tried over the years to get them to break with tradition, just a little. We have had some success, we no longer MUST have the ham and the turkey. Which actually makes sense since my sister is vegetarian and I'm kinda-vegetarian. But we had to pay a price for that, now my sister and I cook Christmas dinner. Its good, actually, and my mom has so enjoyed the break from the kitchen.

We went a little too far this year suggesting that we ditch the presents, cards and gathering at someone's home for vacationing in Mexico or maybe St. Thomas. But we did get them to agree not to buy presents (except for the grandkids, of course) and instead take that money and donate it to a charitable cause.

I'm doing this myself. I have one box of cards leftover from last year, after those are gone, I won't be buying more. Last year I spent over $400 on cards, stamps, label sheets and toner cartridges. This year I'm donating that amount to St. Judes Children's Hospital.

I just think its a better use of time and money, rather than sending out something commercial which usually winds up in the trash on Jan 1st.

Friday, December 02, 2005

New Monogamy

Dutch is a relatively new friend, I think we met 5 years ago. He's an awesome person and I'm not just saying that because he organized our trip to Brazil. He's decisive and understated. In the period of 2 weeks he decided he was leaving Dallas for NYC; he flew to New York, organized a transfer within his company, shopped for an apartment, sold his car and most of his furniture and he was gone with minimal fanfare.

When Dutch tells you he wants to get to know you, it isn't lip service, he's serious and he will follow through. Be prepared for questions, solicitation of opinions and general mining for personality characteristics. The nice thing is that he really does get to know you.

When Dutch visited for Thanksgiving he brought me the latest New York magazine because he knew I would find the articles interesting. He was right.

Monogamy, Open-Relationships & Shades Between

So, the New Monogamy, what is it? It isn't monogamy, thats for sure.

The article did a good job, IMHO, of dismantling the myth that each new generation is more sexually liberated than the last. We are not more liberated. Look at the swinger-free-love 70's or commune-based, mulitple partner 60's. If I gave my great-grandmother an extra shot of whiskey, for medicinal purposes of course, she would talk on about life in the 1920's. If her memory was intact, the 20's were a monogamy cover-story with anything but monogamy happening. Go back a little further to the Greeks and Romans, I think these fuckers defined sexual liberation.

What has changed is the willingness of couples to define their own version of 'monogamy' or to embrace open relationships without guilt. The article chronicled serveral newly partnered couples, both straight and gay, and their decision making processes on how best to address the issue. One couple takes on the above the waist monogamy; they can flirt, fondle and feel but it all has to be above the waist. Another couple adopts the 50 mile monogamy; no sleeping with people that live within a 50 mile radius. Yet another couple adopts the poly-monogamy; they have the same 2 extra-relationship partners but do not accept new ones.

Each one of my three relationships has taken on a different flavor of 'monogamy': one was closed, one wide open and another employed a modified above the waist monogamy. I know which one works best for me and there won't be any compromise in the future.

I can't advocate one over the other because it depends on who you are at the core, in what you believe and knowing your limitations. Trying to change someone who believes in open-relationships into a monogamist is like trying to change a cow into a pinecone. The converse is also true. People are wired the way they are, respect it and move on.

What I can advocate is getting real about this. Technology is certainly playing its part in pushing the issue to the surface, at least for me. If I were a mean person I would post pictures of professed monogamists caught via camera phones in, well, compromising poistions. I mean really, how does a stranger get a camera shot of you asleep in your own bed, next to a bottle of lube and some empty condom wrappers? Hmmm. (True story, BTW) Don't be a dumb-ass, just be yourself and be honest about it.

Bear Up

Another article talked about the new trend in NYC, bears. For those who don't know the term 'bear', this lovingly describes those gay men that are hirsute and just slightly thickening around the middle. Bears don't wear cologne, they dont work out 5 days a week and you won't find them wearing Kenneth Cole or Prada. They are stereotype busters, at least those media-induced stereotypes of gay men.

Apparently now in NYC gay men everwhere are turning in their gym memberships for extra large pepperoni pizzas, and yes, dammit, they would like a side of garlic breadsticks. I'm not sure if I believe that but it could be because I live in the land of gym bunnies who need therapy if they gain a pound or two. However, it would be worth a trip to NYC, you know, for investigative reasons.

On that note, everyone have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Four finals, done! One more presentation to give next week, then a month off. Let me take a moment to reflect on my accomplishments.

OK, done with that.

Moving on ...

Spring 06

  • Immunobiology
  • Artificial Intelligence or Biostatistics (I'll axe one)
  • Independent Study (Neural network solution for DNA knot topolgy)
  • SAS Programming (Crash course at UT Southwestern)

Other things I need to get on

  • Socializing (big sorry to my neglected friends)
  • Yoga (there is looming danger of dragging out the fat boy jeans, lol)
  • New cities (3 scheduled trips to 3 new cities :)

Thats it for today ... go forth and kick ass !