Friday, October 12, 2012

Success Diverges

Ohhhh lawdy, another Philosophical Post of a Share of a Like of a Post on PasteBook...

Entirely and Completely Property of Geniuses Stone and Parker

But this time, Trey Parker and Matt Stone' viral animation of Alan Watt's lesson on success.  I did pause to re-evaluate my view of my own life.  I followed that bag full of promises to a certain point, then life got wavy and I made it to 39 without having passed those benchmarks, made those achievements, obtained the degrees and pursued the careers and have, as a result, felt so much the poorer for it.

Born and bred in Silicon Valley, I am very much the ugly duckling in this respect (normed to my socio-economic background, yaddah-yaddah). I was a middle-class white girl in the 80's--what went wrong????  Yes, there were some who also diverged, those who chose the path less followed, but they were usually some sort of artistic or technical genius whose very divergence spoke to their not-too-future innovation and success in fields they quite often invented.

And I bumble along.  

And I usually get very upset about this when I do stop to consider: What have I really done?

But I've reached 40-ish (I just started saying '40', gives me a couple years with it and the sooner I do it the sooner I stop involuntarily wincing) and have taken another couple of good looks at my life. Toured the house, inspected the passport, taken inventory and seen where I've been.  Yes, I'm well-married and have a great family.  I have cool friends.  Not just nice, or helpful or loyal.  Cool.  Lots of them. And a cool husband.  To quote Mitt "Lost My Mittens" Romney-- 'Severely' cool.  And we do cool stuff.  Fun stuff, in fun places, like Portland and Edinburgh and maybe next year Paris. 

I have "Hobbies and Interests".  I love knitting and spinning and traveling to strange new worlds to seek out new yarns and buy them.  Knit Long and Prosper.  With all those cool--no, frikkin' awesome-- people, in beautiful places with great restaurants.

One day I will get through all the books I have on science.  I will somehow come to grips with the most primary, rudimentary concepts of particle and astro-physics just because it's there and I want to know why it's there and where it's going.  It will finally sink in that light can be waves and particles. ?????

One day I will be more adventurous with my trove of cookbooks.

One day I will publish my Treatise on the Social and Historical Implications of Potato Salad on the Formation and Migration of Human Populations.  Don't laugh.  Sit down, get a pen and paper and set a timer for 4 minutes.  Write down all the different potato salads you have ever eaten, and their ingredients.  BING!! Time's up, and I bet you were in the middle of a sentence.  This is serious business.   And I will do it.

I haven't woken up to 40 and opened a bag of empty promises, I've got a house packed with stuff and a passport full of pages waiting to be stamped.  

And this has made all the difference....

What has made the difference in yours?

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tomato Soup and Garlic: Recipe for A Cure

Feelin’ kinda ropey today.  You know, the kind of schnurffly day where your cold doesn't have the decency to get visibly gross, it just throws you under the Existential Malaise Bus and runs off down the road.  I'm left on the sofa with Life Support Squid watching Foyle's War (having finally wound all the way through both eras of Miss Marple and all of Inspector Lewis--sometimes not even Lawrence Fox can cure me.) 

Just a Girl and Her Squid

So I had a bunch of tomatoes from my CSA box  (Community Supported Agriculture-the farmer's market brought to me) over the last couple of weeks.  I just order the max and save ‘em up then commit the following act of assault.  I’m weak and need the vitamin C.  

Proto Tomato Sauce/Soup

1.  I gather up all the ‘maters I’ve got.  If I happen to have an assortment at the time of killin’, I throw them all in together.  A few cherry and grapes added near the end of baking are quite delightful in the end product.  Here  I started with eight beefsteaks.

2.  Set the oven to 325F.  While it’s heating, cut the tomatoes in half at the equator and place cut side up in pyrex baking dishes.

3.  Douse liberally with Olive Oil.


4.  Sprinkle with Salt, Herbs and Garlic/Shallots/Onion as you desire.  In consideration of this, you will be determining the nature of the end product.  Do you want a traditional Tomato/Cream of Tomato Soup, and therefore a more neutral flavor? Will you be using this as a pasta sauce and therefore desire the essence of roasted garlic and a panoply of classic Italian herbs?
>>Here I am using:  Coarse Sea Salt, Shallots and Penzeys Mural of Flavor herb blend (it adds a nicely rounded herb background but nothing boldly specific).  Keeps my options open for later.
>>A Word About Roasted Garlic:  A more effective, and deeper, richer garlic flavor can be achieved by roasting your garlic separately.  You can do this at the same time, is super simple, and instructions follow at the happy ending of the tomato story.

5.  Place baking dishes in oven for 1 Hour.  Your kitchen will begin to smell delicious.  Check the tomatoes at this time, make sure nothing’s burning.

6.  Turn oven down to 300F and bake for 40 minutes more.  I like to leave them a bit juicier than some recipes have called for so I lower the heat and cut the time.  There’s a ton of flavor and the shallots don’t darken as much.

7.  Remove from oven and assemble the following rig:  
> Steady, flat-bottomed bowl
> Food Mill
> Rubber Spatula
> Rubber Jar Opener Grippy-Thingie

Rubber Grippy Goes Down First

Everything Else is Held in Place!

8.  Once assembled, place tomatoes into food mill and smoosh away. I usually do them in two batches and clean the skins out in between.  


When finished, you will be left with a small pile of skins and a loooovely bowl of fresh tomato sauce ready to do your bidding:


>>Why a Food Mill??  They are inexpensive and brilliant.  They will make the smoothest, creamiest mashed potatoes ever, will make nearly anything into the starting stages of sauce or soup and in league with your Thunder Stick, will process nearly anything you need, removing skins and lumps without the expense of a food processor.  A Food Mill is also ridiculously easy to clean.  It pops apart into three pieces that hose off so quickly I didn’t bother to take pics.

*So About That Garlic... 

1.  I take a couple full heads of garlic, chop the tops off well down the head so plenty of each toe is open, then place each in a deep ramekin. 


2.  I then douse in Olive Oil, sprinkle in Kosher Salt and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  


3.  I stick one on each rack, pretty far back, for the entire baking time of the tomatoes.  Remove at the end, allowing them to cool several minutes.  

4.  I take them out of the ramekins, remove any errant skins, then pour all the oil from one dish into the other and carefully, holding the bottom of the garlic head with one hand, squish the garlic out of the skin with my fingers into the dish.  




You may leave it whole, I like to mash it up to use as a dip or spread, and it will incorporate beautifully into any soup or sauce, using your stick blender.

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


In Brian Greene’s series, The Fabric of the Cosmos, on NOVA (available on PBS), a new and interesting graphic of the classic, vexing, Double Slit Experiment shows electron particles as coalescing waves round the slits like rocks in a river.  But something about how after Schrodinger's wave equation, further research showed that it does not in any way determine or predict where the electrons are landing, only the probability of where they could be.**  

The result, most physicists interviewed said, is we don't have the right to ask exactly where things will be, only what the probability of finding them in one very particular area, where we want to look at the very moment we want to look, would be.  Because something about how Neils Bohr said the act of measurement forces the finality of the matter, momentarily.**  

Many of the scientists in this series echo the same sentiment, often laughing (sometimes somewhat bitterly): That Quantum Mechanics, and String Theory (with it’s possibility to tie all things together across dimensions, time and space), that the very fact we only have the right to ask the probability, are frustrating, bizarre, maddening and mostly unthinkable, but their experiments keep working out. 

And the final word from each?  

“There seems to be no law in the universe that says a particle physicist has to be happy about any of it”. 
--Every single person interviewed, Brian Green’s Fabric of the Cosmos.

Now, considering that many physicists, depending on degree of, well, scientifically philosophical bent, consider such things as philosophy and psychology as suspect offshoots of Underwater Basketweaving 101, it seems they stray ever further into the realm of the darker psyche.  

For all the years I have struggled to gain a final hold on sanity, to force a permanent, overarching structure of normality and function in my life, it has proven resolutely slippery and ultimately elusive.  Perhaps it will never be anything more than what I can pin down, squiggling to free itself, in any given moment, and that’s all I get to call ‘normal.’ 

It’s a bit like having a permanent flu, with that hideously uncomfortable dis-ease lurking beneath your skin, sometimes making you twitch and try to rock yourself to comfort or sleep. Fifty-Fifty success rate on that. Every time my baby niece has a fussy day; when bouncing and rocking and nursing and swaddling-and-shooshing can’t overcome the existential discomfort, I want to take her in my arms and let her know she’s not alone; that Vincent Van Gogh and Brian Cox and Albert Einstein and Mozart all raged and despaired and deflated with the same melancholy. But as sharp as the kid is, she doesn’t believe me when I say that eventually it will subside and she will get to drive and go to parties and follow her dreams and vote Democratic. 

But there is no comfort for an 8-month-old in these histories and promises!  They are mere probabilities, the rantings of a mad auntie!  Could happen, might not, won’t know till we get there. She literally cannot see any but the momentary certainties.  Thus, ecstasy is chewing Sofie the Giraffe, right here, right now.  

Right now I have hold of a cowl I am knitting out of (now defunct) Sanguine Gryphon Codex yarn in a breathtaking ruby red which has been balled and ready for use for nearly a year.  It has been matched against many projects and summarily rejected all of them.  It is a knitted item in it’s quantum state--that is, in all states of possibility--and probably the one I needed to find two years ago when I flipped out and handed over my credit card while slathering like a rabid possum.  

I've heard tell of other luscious yarns, I won't believe you...

I bought the buttons, ostensibly for use as a bracelet, a year ago, and that idea just kept bonking off my brain as well.  


Until two weeks ago with the Knitting Cabal at my house, someone saw my crystal bowl of favorite buttons. I had just laid the Codex on the coffee table along with 4 other Projects-in-Potentia that were driving me crazy.  Buttons met yarn, yarn asked for cowl, cowl pattern was, miraculously, found.  

The French Braid Cowl by Breean Elyse Miller
This is how I’ve come to terms with the Particle Physicist’s plight: It’s usually a difficult process which begins in optimism and ends in despair, but occasional triumph and fits with fearful symmetry the history of physics research.  I buy pretty yarn. It might sit around, perhaps displayed, for who knows how long, while I feel intimidated by the huge, seemingly amorphous Knitting Universe. At some point, a pattern might be found and printed out, even stuffed into a project bag with the yarn and needles, but rarely started. Sometimes, on later consideration, it was a poorly chosen pattern--a terrible experiment, and is dismantled. So it sits some more, waiting and waiting, while in some dimension it is a beautiful finished thing, being used and worn and loved instead of suffering the ignominy of repeated rejection and limbo.  In the end, I only have a beautiful finished thing at the one exact moment I can pounce on the yarn and a magically workable pattern at the same time and just get the damn thing started. 

To me, it is a whole squirrelly, multi-dimensional mess of lovely string, improbable patterns, and I only know it’s possible because this experiment keeps working.


Join us here in Silicon Valley in late February (yes, 2013) for a mad, hoppin' fabulous weekend of Fiber, Shopping, Classes and Events! Visit XRX/ Knitting Universe for details and Class Registrations!

**PS: I know I don't have it all right, it's why I watch it over and over and try to read the books.  I'm hoping for enlightenment by 80, I've just hit half-life.

Pin It Now!