July 31, 2004

The Rules

Well, speaking of the "thing rule" while I'm at it... I suppose it is a lot like my "function and beauty rule." For a self-proclaimed laid back type, I'm discovering I have too many rules (don't you think two rules is one too many?). But if you're living in a New York City studio apartment (this is the 150 square foot kind [this is including the hallway, bathroom and closet space]) where your kitchen is your bedroom is your living room is your dining room (I eat at a table, not in front of a television, which I don't own anyway), then you tend to require a "function and beauty rule." That is to say that everything I owned in my apartment had to be both functional and beautiful. I replaced my can opener with one by OXO. I took a two-hour round-trip bus ride to and from IKEA for a $6 stainless steel knife rack that I knew would be perfect for my stainless steel Bodum knives that matched my stainless steel pots and pans. And, I own a toilet brush designed by Philippe Stark (I know this borders ridiculous) but if I have to look at it every day, it was worth the $20.

This is a very logical rule that means that everything I own has to be beautiful and everything beautiful must be useful. When you live in 150 square feet, you have no escape from your space, unless you like to stand inside your closet for fun (I can not say I have tried this). You have to look at your espresso pot, your bed, your spices, and tchotckes (of which I have none) all day. They better be beautiful. And they damn well better be in your space for a reason.

In case you've noticed, I have taken to abusing parentheses and brackets in addition to the italics.
Admittedly, I have two exceptions. The orchid -- because plants, to me, are absolutely necessary, and my KleinReid apple (from the "Still Life" series), a gift to me from the artists when I left the Big Apple.

Sans Adresse and "the thing"

Kiki gave Kaly a subscription to Cook's Illustrated for Christmas last year (or something like that). If I only had an address for just twelve months in a row, I might get myself the same. One day, I say.

Mike and Eileen wondered what to give me as a gift from Ireland when I housesat for them this summer (which is an incredible treat, as the 96-year-old house is full of character with a beautifully landscaped garden, fabulous cook's kitchen, the most perfect grey cat you ever knew, and dreamy air conditioning). Eileen suggested an Aran sweater from, well, Aran. Mike countered that I wouldn't see winter for a couple of years. The bottle of Sapphire they bought me broke in their bag in the Customs line. Nice thought, I said, 'cause you can't buy an address-less kid anything. I told Mike: I have to be able to consume it whether contact lens solution, Kiehl's, food or frequent flyer miles. That about covers it. Nothing to store, no clothes, no things. I have an aversion to things that do not disappear with regular use. Mostly because I feel like I have a lot of things. I, however, apparently have no aversion whatsoever to abusing italics.

Besides, it's hard filling out paperwork and online forms without an actual address. Have you ever thought of that?

Update: An exception to the "thing rule" as I will call it. The ipod. This is only because it shrinks 600 of my things called compact discs (which apparently are not so compact anymore) into a 5.6 ounce package. It also backs up my entire laptop. Does this mean I get to write it off?

Some People Have a Lot of Free Time

And I'm not talking about me.
How-To Tuesday: Make your own Pirate Radio Station with an iPod

July 30, 2004

Productive ADHD

My sister Kaly the other day suggested I might be ADD, which I wouldn't totally dispute. Mostly because I rarely finish novels (I have started about twelve in the last one year and have finished none. In fact, I haven't gotten past page 40 for about ten of them.). This is why I love reading dictionaries, encyclopedias, how-to's, the way things work, travelogues, atlases, cookbooks, collections of letters (that's as close to the novelist as I can get), and picture books. I absorb bits at a time, though the absorption is constant.

But also because I can't warm to one job for more than a month (six is when I reach my threshold, and two years seems to be just about the time I end up quitting). I think the 18 months beyond the six-month threshold demonstrates quite a bit of determination! When I'm in my vacationing periods, I come up with about a zillion ideas. Design invitations? Go back to working public schools? Tutor? Take people on tours to Vietnam? Train old people on computers?

Maybe my friends' ideas might work. Mike Doheny thinks I should be a lawyer. Actually, he really thinks I should be a CIA agent but we decided I could never get Top Secret clearance because of my twelve previous addresses, six jobs, three names, and "shady" months abroad. Dad's doctor asked me if I was pre-med and Lori is convinced I'm going to make a lot of money really quick and retire. Since Intelligence and Espionage are no longer options, I would probably be a poor non-profit lawyer, a volunteer doctor for MSF, or well... I won't make a lot of money (seriously, who cares when you get to live like I do?). I make what I need and then I run like hell. But I'm getting really good at the retirement part.

The fact is, this supposed ADD has allowed me visits to plenty of places, explore an amazing range of jobs, meet thousands of incredible people and live in too many apartments to count. This is why I write a blog and not a book, why I studied seven languages and barely speak three, volunteer (short term work!), and relocate every 24 months. My Uncle Mike says I have commitment issues... I can't commit to a continent. In fact, I can't commit to a frequent flyer account. In all my years of traveling around the world, I've only ever cashed in on a 25k ticket from NYC to San Fran. I think I have a lot of thinking to do. I think I have to commit to United Airlines. I just hope they don't go by way of PanAm.

July 29, 2004

Now Serving

I had an amusing experience at the Social Security office the other day. After unsuccessful attempts in the offices in New York City due to long unbearable waits, I got Mike to take me to the office in Arlington on condition that I register to vote in VA for him.

I walked in the office, and there are about 100 vinyl chairs lined up in rows. In front of the chairs is a teacher's desk with a take-a-number dispenser attached and a security guard sitting behind it, leaning back in his chair. There are two service windows open. To the left, a man and to the right, a Chinese couple being helped. Sitting in only one of the 100 chairs is one man.

I asked the security guard "Do I have to take a number?" as I looked at the 99 empty chairs.
"Do you have an appointment?" The sign on the desk says Do not ask the security guard any questions. He does not know anything.
"Well then you have to take a number."

I tore my number off the dispenser. Number 02. I look up at the display: "Now Serving" and in bright red lights "01". When the Now Serving number changed to 02 (and I believe it dinged), I went up to the available window. The guy behind it yelled at me. "ARE YOU NEXT?" he asked. I looked at the empty room behind me. The man sitting in the one chair had disappeared. The guy at the other window was gone too. The chinese couple had just left this window (they were probably number 01). I wondered, who would he think was next? Mike was the only person left, and he was sitting next to me before I got up to the window.

"Yes" I answered, all cheery.
"Are you number TWO?" he asked, like he didn't believe me.
"Yes," I said, holding up my dispensed ticket.
Five minutes later, after lots of grunting at me, and me being all "yes" "thank you" and "please"-like, he cheered up and told me to have a great day. And after 30 years, I can finally tell someone what my name is without a long speech attached.

Garden State

The greatest thing about doing all the AIDS rides was the people I was lucky enough to have met. They make up the largest part of my list of most interesting dynamic friends in my address book. Here's a new movie, Garden State, edited by Myron Kerstein whom I met while training in New York for my Alaska ride. Zach Braff who wrote, directed, and stars in the movie even keeps his own blog.

July 28, 2004

Duke to give incoming freshmen iPods

I went to college about 13 years too early. Only one person in our six-person suite freshman year even had a computer, and e-mail was on an old VAX system.

Duke to give incoming freshmen iPods

I suppose this might help explain tuition inflation.

July 22, 2004


For more on the beautiful Nike commercial entitled "Magnet" by Wieden+Kennedy (Nike's longtime agency), see the News Release by A52, the Visual Effects company that helped create it. Here's the full ninety second version directed by Jake Scott (son of Ridley Scott and nephew of Tony Scott).

And from the A52 News Release, "The spot's music, composed by Dave Wittman and Jimmy Haun at Elias Arts Los Angeles with support from creative director David Gold and head of production Dayna Turcotte, features the vocal talents of Kathleen Fisher. The sound was designed by creative director Dane Davis and Eddie Kim at 740 Sound/Danetracks with help from producer Scott Ganary, and Jeff Payne at Eleven Sound Studios in Santa Monica mixed the final audio."

Looks like everyone wants to know about the music!

And here are the project credits. Really gorgeous work.

Live in New York City

How cool. Live OLN coverage of the Alpe d'Huez time trial in Times Square.

22203 to 90405 and a few others in between

My upcoming travel schedule below. Sorry if you're all losing track of me.

FRI JUL 23 to SUN JUL 25 Boston, MA
SUN JUL 25 to WED JUL 28 New York, NY
WED JUL 28 to TUE AUG 03 Arlington, VA
TUE AUG 03 to WED AUG 18 Los Angeles and Santa Monica, CA
WED AUG 18 to WED AUG 25 San Francisco, CA
WED AUG 25 to mid-SEP Santa Monica, CA
mid-SEP to MAR 2005 Viet Nam
:: mid-NOV to end-NOV :: possibly India (Ila's wedding)
:: DEC to JAN :: Viet Nam (Lan's wedding)
:: JAN 14 to 17 :: possibly New Orleans, LA (Adam's wedding)
:: JAN to MAR :: Viet Nam
mid-MAR to TUE JUN 03 Santa Monica, CA

Well, that's the tentative plan. As always, e-mail is your best chance of catching me and the NY mobile phone number is still active.

July 19, 2004

101 Cookbooks

One more foodblog from Souris' friend Heidi. Not a boring list of restaurant reviews but in Heidi's words, "exploring my collection of cookbooks, one recipe at a time" with her gorgeous photos. mmm miam.

July 14, 2004


A $95 cashmere sweater for your pup from Ralph Lauren Polo.

Sybaritysm? Dementia? Decadence? Whatever. This is madness.

Others eat so we don't have to

Look at this: a list of 96 FoodBloggers in a webring. I was led to this page from Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page's site. Of course, you can read a great blog about NYC eats, written by Souris' friend Alaina.

Two Dads Are Better Than One

Apparently to some people, all men are created equal... only if they're straight. In light of the Federal Marriage Amendment vote today, I was motivated to read up on our Constitution, particularly breaking down the meaning of the Preamble, and even more particularly with this section of it:

"... To Form a More Perfect Union"
All the states were covetous of the sovereign power they had exercised since the break with Great Britain eleven years earlier. Balancing states' rights with the needs of a central government was no easy task. The makers of the Constitution accomplished this by letting the states keep all the powers necessary to regulate the daily lives of their citizens, provided that these powers did not conflict with the needs and welfare of the nation as a whole. This division of authority, which is termed federalism, is essentially the same today. The power of each state over local affairs in matters such as education, public health, business organization, work conditions, marriage and divorce, local taxation, and ordinary police powers is so fully recognized and accepted that two neighboring states frequently have widely differing laws on the same subject.

and this, quoted from the wordiq site:
"... To Establish Justice"
The essence of American democracy is contained in the Declaration of Independence, with its ringing phrase, "All men are created equal," and the follow-up statements "that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Incredibly, 48 voted for the change, and gratefully, 50 did not. I just can't imagine that people could be so anti-family anti-love anti-liberty and anti-happiness. Two dads are better than one.

July 12, 2004


Google's way more than you might think. Check out their list of Google Web Search Features. I use it as a calculator, package tracker, and phone book.

Warming Warning

When I snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef a few years ago, we were informed of a very sad fact: that in less than 30 years, the Great Barrier Reef will be dead. Thousands of lifeforms gone because of the warming waters. In 1998 and 2002 there were massive coral bleaching events. Thirty years is not a long time. It's this lifetime. It means your kids might NEVER see the Great Barrier Reef. They'll just hear about it in books, see pictures on the internet. They'll never snorkel there to see life. They'll snorkel there to see the geological leftovers of dead coral of what might have once been the most spectacular ecosystem in the world. This makes me crazy sad.

With headlines like today's, you might wonder what's going on in this world?

Europe plagued by snow and heatwaves, Romanian death toll climbs
AFP - Sun Jul 11, 5:32 PM ET : "Extreme temperatures, which have killed at least 22 people in Romania in the space of a week, continued to plague Europe, with Greece sweltering in a heatwave and an open-air performance of Verdi's 'Traviata' canceled in Italy."
Flights canceled, houses collapse as massive rainstorm hits Beijing
AFP - Sun Jul 11, 4:57 PM ET
Humidity Grips the East, Midwest
AP - Sun Jul 11, 3:45 PM ET
Floods and landslides kill 23 in Nepal
AFP - Sun Jul 11,11:47 AM ET
China rescues 62 tourists stranded by mudflows
AFP - Sun Jul 11,11:09 AM ET
Unseasonal cold brings snow to Bavarian Alps
AFP - Sun Jul 11,10:45 AM ET
Floods Kill Dozens in South Asia, Millions Homeless
Reuters - Sun Jul 11, 9:29 AM ET
Bangladesh Floods Maroon 3 Million, Death Toll 13
Reuters - Sun Jul 11, 3:25 AM ET
Floods Kill at Least 40 in India, Millions Homeless
Reuters - Sun Jul 11, 2:01 AM ET
Floods Kill 22 Across South Asia
AP - Sat Jul 10, 2:23 PM ET

July 08, 2004

I take that back

I take that back. With Hincapie, Ekimov, and Azevedo on your team, it's gonna be easy for Lance to win this year. Anything can happen -- four Posties crashed today, but got back in the race -- but it's his race to lose. I mean, Lance has the talent and the discipline to train like mad, but it's his all-star team along with the tech team of Nike, Giro, and Trek who supply the team with unparalleled equipment that shaves the seconds off his overall time. Pretty amazing to watch this history in the making.

July 03, 2004

When you've got everything going for you...

What's Lance's biggest advantage? The amazing development teams from Nike, Giro and Trek who put together a unified group to research and design the customized clothing, helmets, bikes and wheels to shave as much time off of him as possible. Trek even developed a special wheel to be used ONLY for the stage on Alpe d'Huez. What's more, Lance has an unbelievable all-star team (in fact, they had too many all-stars, they had to leave two at home), the domestiques, whose singular job it is to ride for and protect Lance. And the icing on the cake is, in my vague recollection of Victor Hugo Pena's words, "Some may think only Lance is treated like King. But they treat us ALL like kings," making reference to how all teammates are given the best bicycles, helmets and gear that Lance gets too. Lance's advantage simply is that he has the BEST team out there. He has little reason to lose (and I am still rooting for Tyler).

Leave history to history.

It's not going to be easy for Lance this year. First, no one has ever won six tours, and all of the previous five-time winners tried; the legendary Eddie Merckx among them. Second, three ex-Posties -- Americans Tyler Hamilton and Levi Leipheimer, and Spaniard Roberto Heras -- formerly rode with the man in yellow and are leaders of their teams, all vying for the win. Add in the incredible Jan Ullrich and Iban Mayo and there's an excellent field of rivals on the pavement. If we're as lucky as last year, we won't know the winner until the penultimate stage of the race.


If like me you don't own a television, don't worry -- you can still follow the tour LIVE on the official Tour site. The site has been up for several years now, and like television coverage, has improved tremendously. (And if you're at work during the tour, you can read from the privacy of your cubicle!)

Luckily, I'm between the Doheny's house and home for the next three weeks, both equipped with cable. Since I'll be driving to Boston and New York in the final few days, driving time will have to be planned around the Tour. This year, I can actually watch the extensive (never thought I'd get to say that) coverage on OLN.

Fortunately, we have Phil Liggett who will be covering his 32nd Tour and Paul Sherwen who will be covering his 17th. Looking forward to getting to watch my ninth Tour live and appreciate that I don't have to stay up till 2 a.m. for a 30-minute condensed coverage on ESPN2 as we once did before Americans started winning.

That's all, folks!

Made the final payment to one of my student loans today. Well, I've got four more loans I'm paying, but hey, this is progress! Not bad for a vacationing incomeless adventurer.

July 01, 2004


Ever wonder what your superpowers are? Mine is an uncanny ability to instantly forgive. I'm not quite as good at it as my friend Les, but I don't know anyone else who is. I watch people around me carry collections of grudges, anger, and negative thoughts. Why bother? Dump it where it is and move on. You can travel a lot lighter and a lot happier.