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Showing posts from August, 2012

The Digestive System on Lunch

We went to Neptune Oyster for lunch today. I imagine this is how my mom's digestive system went:

~ 0 ~

Stomach
Increase gastric secretion to 40%! The cerebral cortex has been stimulated! By... let's see here... oysters!

Mouth
All exocrine salivary glands activated! Ready... ready... okay, here they come, go go go!

Esophagus
Let me just close the epiglottis over the trachea... Okay, begin peristaltic contractions! Let's get everything down to the tummy!

Stomach
All right, team, let's break down those proteins! Enzymes, are you at optimum conditions? Yes? Excellent! Let's turn those oysters into chyme and move it along!

Small Intestine
Contract! Relax! Contract! Relax! Contract! Relax! Contract! Relax! Contract! Relax!

Large Intestine
FERMENT EVERYTHING! Except the fluids. Reabsorb those.

Stomach
Gastric secretions still at peak levels! Now the cerebral cortex is reacting to lobster caprese salad!

Mouth
Oh, good, keep it all soft! Let's flood it with saliva and wash it d…

The House of Mirth - Half a Review, You'll See Why

Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth boasts a vividly developed main character, brilliant descriptions of surroundings, and the author's signature slyly ironic prose. Wharton's 1905 novel follows pretty protagonist Lily Bart, now 29 (gasp!) and running out of time to snare a rich husband. Lily is orphaned and living with her aunt, but, as a true society femme, she's racked up tailor bills and gambling debts. (Who knew that bridge was so dangerous!) A lot of the story follows Lily's musings about her dull circle of friends and how she's so much smarter and artsier than they are and she should totally become a wealthy man's wife so she can be radiantly beautiful and throw the best parties. I'm making it sound vapid, but it's not, it's really good and delves into themes such as society and freedom and obligations and womanity and beauty and honor and all that good stuff.

The House of Mirth comes more than a dozen years before the Pulitzer Prize-winni…

Hiking the Blue Hills

Yesterday, we tackled the Skyline Trail in the Blue Hills Reservation, south of Boston. It's a nine-mile hike, with lots of rocky hills. LOTS. We're not talking gentle slopes of land here. We're talking this:


The 635-foot Great Blue Hill was the worst. It was awful. It just never ended. It was made even more terrible by the fact that we had thought the hill before it, at 510 feet, was the worst one. Nope. My quads were going, "What? No." My hamstrings were holding union meetings to coordinate a strike. Meanwhile, the bottoms of my feet felt like they were being continuously pummeled by bodybuilder groundhogs.

Fortunately, by that time we had just come from the reservation headquarters, so we'd had bathroom breaks and refilled water bottles. I had a 0.5 L collapsible water bottle, and let me tell ya, I wish I had a CamelBak. Y'know, the little backpacks that secretly hold a bajillion gallons of water and you just turn your head to grab the over-the-shoul…

Rey P.

There's a joke back home that goes something like this: A guy reports that he's been sexually assaulted, when all he did was answer a question. "Well, what was the question?" They wanted to know his name, said the guy. "Okay, what's your name?" His name is Rey Piñoco. In Tagalog, that sounds like "Rape me."

Hur hur hur.

Missouri Congressman Todd Akin got into trouble with malapropism, too. "It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors... If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he recently declared, when asked about his stance on abortion in the case of rape. In other words, Ten Things I Hate About You actress Gabrielle Union had no reason to be concerned about possibly getting pregnant after being assaulted at gunpoint when she was 19. Because her Vagilina Jolie can "shut that whole thing down." Also: "legitimate rape"? I guess that's the opposite …

Movie Review: The Bourne Legacy (2012)

Dear Mr. Jeremy Renner,

Thank you for your visit. I enjoyed pummeling you with my sweltering heat. It was truly a pleasure to cause those rivulets of sweat to run down your toned body. On an unrelated note, I hope you appreciated the skill with which my inhabitants spoke English.

My only regret was my inability to supply the tropical beauties that you, of course, automatically imagined when you heard Ms. Rachel Weisz utter, "The Philippines." I can only say that you already had a beautiful woman beside you, and that it would have been rather forward of me to include my prettiest mestizas in your film. They were all busy doing Pantene commercials, anyway.

Please consider another visit to my crowded streets. I would also love it if you told your friends in Hollywood that I am a top filming destination due to my affordability, millions of readily available extras with pan-Asian features, and the special relationship between our two countries.

I remain, as always, your loving f…

Book Review: Born on a Blue Day (2007)

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant begins with Daniel Tammet sharing how he visualizes numbers. To him, they're shapes and colors that make him feel warm or comfortable or uneasy. Then he describes growing up and slowly realizing that he's different. Daniel has Asperger's, and autistic people typically have issues with expressing (or even feeling) "appropriate" emotion. He talks about viewing other children as noisy, moving objects to be avoided; spending hours at a time just sitting and thinking in his room; obsessively collecting favored items; being overwhelmed by changes; and his family's enduring support for him all his life. Daniel starts to become independent after a year volunteering in Lithuania (where he learned to speak the language fluently), and his journey takes him to his record-setting recitation of 22,500+ digits of pi when he was 25. He also meets Kim Peek, the inspiration for Rain Man, when they film the…

Fitness Test

How fit are you?

I went to the gym yesterday to find the answer to this burning question via fitness test. R, the perky "Master Personal Trainer," had me go through the following steps:

1. Paperwork: First, you must confess to having a bad back/smoking/diabetes/etc. and sign a waiver promising not to sue the gym if you get hurt.

2. Shoulder Flexibility: Stand facing a wall and clench your fists with your thumbs tucked in. Reach back, right arm up top and left arm from the bottom, and see how close you can get your fists together. Do the same for the other side. With years of experience zipping up my own dresses, I aced this test. For some reason, Fiancé can do even better than me, despite not having the same excuse. Hmmmm. (suspicious look)

3. Body Fat Measurement: R took little calipers and squeezed my chub-chubs at the triceps area, abdomen, and love handles. More on that later.

4. Upper Body Strength: I had to do a proper push-up and a girl push-up (on knees, feet up).

5. Cor…

My Inadequacy is Overwhelming

My boss' boss brought his two little sons to work, and after the mandatory "Oh, new interns!" jokes subsided, the older boy (who was clutching a hardcover copy of Quantum) solemnly told us about his blog and handed out his business cards. He's a tutor. He's 10. His blog is about quantum physics. I read it and cried giant woman tears of inadequacy. You, too, may read it and weep! theoriesofquantum.blogspot.com

With that, I bid you Happy Friday!

Book Review: Born to Run (2009)

A friend of mine had a psychotic episode a few months after doing a half-marathon. (She's okay now.) What she went through reminded me of when my old coworker also ran a half-marathon, then went psycho -- on me, how annoying. Then there's our friend who runs 20 miles every day and is skin-and-muscle-and-bones at this point. So does running marathons turn you crazy, or are you crazy to begin with, and that's why you run marathons?

"Yes, and yes," I imagine is author and fit old guy Christopher McDougall's answer to that question. In Born to Run, McDougall traces his journey to the desolate Copper Canyons of Mexico to answer a question of his own: why does his foot hurt? He consulted doctors, physical therapists, runners, etc, and found out about a tribe in Mexico whose members regularly run ultramarathons (i.e. 100+ miles at a pop) through mountains. The Tarahumara slap on hand-cut rubber sandals to protect their feet against sharp rocks, and never sustain th…

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Flocculation Friday

You know you're in a room full of nerds when a west coast vs east coast IPA stand-off includes a demonstration and lecture about yeast flocculation. We had an Englishman present during the libations, leading to jokes about how the Brits flocculate when abroad.

Last night's beer-tasting played out like the last panel of The Oatmeal's comic about extremism. We didn't talk about outer space while drinking microbrews, though--we mostly joked around and ended the night watching YouTube videos.

Of course, we had to tell The Engagement Adventure, which will be up in comic form next week! (Check back here for links, or stalk my work at fragrantelephant.com.)

Know what else is undergoing flocculation right now? The subcutaneous fat in my abdominal region. Just kidding! In biology, that actually means the asexual aggregation of microorganisms. I have no idea what that means. I just wanted to sound smart.

So in conclusion: flocculation.

Happy Friday!

Dream Vacation

You need to get out of your daily grind every once in a while, to recharge and relax. Summer is the perfect time to wander off into the woods, especially when they come with fully furnished cabins and you bring more alcohol than you can safely drink. That's what family's for!

Fiancé (then Boyfriend) had been priming me for his big family reunion for about a year. As far back as last December, he would remind me to save up vacation time for the week-long trip. Every month included at least one mention of the upcoming vacation. No actual details, mind you--this is a man we're talking about here--so all I knew was that it would be in upstate New York on the last week of July. Would we camp out in the forests? Cheat and stay in charming, rustic little hotels? Guessing is half the fun!

Fortunately, we went to this place. It's a family compound that gets rented out, hurray! There were cabins for every family or couple; two docks; a main house for cooking, dining, boozing, o…