Archives For January 2014

5. Embrace despondency. That’s a “tip” from HOW TO SURVIVE A POLAR VORTEX, ACCORDING TO THE GERMANS, yesterday’s piece in the tongue and cheek Guardian series, Lessons for America, and written by Brittani Sonnenberg, an American expat living in Berlin.

Some of 4. Get Naked appealed to me. I like saunas and the balance between extreme heat and cold. That, and 4. also reminded me that I took a photo a few nights ago of this igloo snow cave structure some neighborhood Hasidic children sculpted outside their apartment building.


I’m a big fan of the Guardian; it’s one of my favorite papers. But overall, the article wasn’t particularly well written or funny. Unfortunate, since the premise is appealing.

You tell me. Maybe it’s actually not below Guardian average and, you, along with everybody else, are actually guffawing up a storm and finding it brilliant and enlightening. Maybe “cozied up next to” isn’t so bothersome to you and the redundancy a non-issue.

I suppose there’s a chance I’m in a cranky mood and need to concede to 5ing. I did call out and am now dedicating time, effort, and an entire post to this subject. And…huh… the first thing I did when I got home (after I peeled away the layers and put the kettle on the stove) was google weather + polar vortex when will it end.

Anyhow, here’s the entry for 5. Embrace despondency, followed by the closing paragraph.

Admit it, it’s a pain to be cheerful. Germans know that Americans are faking it 99% of the time, and they want you to know it’s okay to give up the ghost. Americans can best exercise their sad muscles by indulging in seasonal affective disorders. Don’t buy expensive light therapy products; try turning off all the lights and putting on Joni Mitchell’s River on repeat. Pretty soon, you’ll be that guy with dark purple shadows under your eyes, who weeps when other people say “good morning” or “nice shirt” and likes to spend your free time cozied up next to moldy old suitcases in the basement. That’s when you know you’ve truly learned how to survive winters like a pro. There’s even a name for this enlightened state in German, which is impossible to translate into English: Imkaltenkellernebenmuffigenkoffernwehfreude.

Once you can successfully pronounce this word, and you’ve mastered every tip on the list, you should be fine until spring hits. Which brings, of course, a new challenge: “How to Survive Irritatingly Pleasant Days and Blossom Scented Breezes”, a conundrum that most Northern Europeans have yet to conquer.

I was thinking I should just go to sleep, rest my bruised tailbone from the recent skiing adventure (another point–Oh, she’s in pain, too–to add to winter woes), and let this post sit in draft mode overnight. Nah. I’m done with this Imkaltenkellernebenmuffigenkoffernwehfreude nonsense.




January 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

Be Mighty

Spotted on the ground at LAX. Mighty Mouse theme song now in my head. [Now stuck in yours].

Investigate: BE MIGHTY.

Verdict: COOL

Nothing like

January 17, 2014 — 1 Comment

…a glass of my new go-to cozy red to decompress and end the long day. Gooseneck Vineyards, Malbec, 2011, Mendoza Valley, Argentina. On the nose, aromas of dark berry and spice. On the palette, dry, robust, smooth, fruit forward with hints of dark chocolate deliciousness. Drink now.

Well, I did. I did that a few days ago when this stretch of non-stop work had me coming home to the bottle… I had a glass one day, then another the next, and the next, and the wine stood up wonderfully for those several days. Granted, I always plug unfinished wine with my trusted Vacu Vin wine saver and rubber stopper valve (sucks the oxygen out of the bottle and seals in the wine). But still. But now. Oh horrid sad day… I finished it. Not a single drop left. GONE!!! Well, thank goodness for the internet! And that lovely bottle of Macallan 12 single malt a friend left here. Cheers!  Gooseneckbottle

I changed up my morning coffee ritual with some tea. Hunger pangs and a growling stomach followed. I started thinking of what I wanted to eat today. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. I’m not a traditional breakfast eater. Sure, I try to eat oatmeal when I can and have a giant cylinder of it. But I’ve been known to eat sushi or leftover Ethiopian food for breakfast, and recently, kimchi omelettes. My cravings for kimchi have been at an all time high since I’ve been trying to get through the 50 episodes of You’re the Best, Lee Soon Shin, a Kdrama on DramaFever. It’s seeped into my subconscious somehow and influenced me enough that a few days ago after work I ran to KTown and H Mart where I purchased a giant tub of my favorite whole cabbage kimchi, purple rice, shishito peppers, red lettuce…


I’m not in the mood for kimchi this morning, though. And admittedly, I’m feeling lazy to cook, and with the rain and wind, have no desire to step outside the warmth of my apartment, so instead I’m reading DramaFever’s newsfeed. They always have something fun to read about food in Asia. This time is no exception. This post is hilarious–a Beijing restaurant’s mistranslations:


Steamed cake stir-fried with pork = “Old vinegar hibernation of insects head.”

Pork, tofu and preserved Chinese cabbage stew = “The brazier kills the pig vegetable.”

Iron wok stir-fried spicy squid = “Iron saucepan unwearied effort however squid.”

Sliced eggplant stir-fried with sauce and minced vegetables = “Cell secretary digs up the eggplant.”

Black jelly skin in gravy = “Fishes the juice to pull the skin back.”

That post only offered a moment’s distraction. Interesting how the brain works. I felt compelled to google “tea” + “restaurants” and eventually, I landed at Ranker’s: The 8 Most Dangerous Restaurants in the World, the top one being The Huashan Teahouse in China, where wood planks, toe-holes and harnesses are involved in experiencing what better be the most amazing cup of tea.


Goodness. I’m exhausted just looking at this image. And now, the winds outside are even more ferocious and my stomach’s ROARING.

I think I might just exchange the tea for a robust mug of black coffee, cook some oatmeal, and turn on WNYC. I missed Car Talk and Click and Clack, but oh! I can still catch the tail end of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! Gotta go. It’s tough to find smart interesting shows that crack you up consistently. Happy Saturday!

La Vie en Pink

January 10, 2014 — 4 Comments

A friend offered me a box of miniature pink light bulbs last month. There’s no way I could refuse a box of cute pink bulbs! Oh so pretty!!!


At the time I believed I’d come up with a dare I say it bright idea. Something fun, functional, and maybe even beautiful to make with them. It was around the holidays and I’m sure tooling around sites like and Ron Gilad for gift ideas played some part in my DIY delusions. And Pinterest, too, where I found the coolest posts of light bulb creations.

Like this: Myeongbeom Kim, Edison, 15″ X 15″ X 30″, branch, goldfish, glass, steel


…and these two sculptures by Brooklyn-based artist Stephen Shaheen



And this interactive sculpture, CLOUD, made from 6000 lightbulbs by Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garret. Watch here


And this one posted on is really sweet.


And this little moss necklace…


I think this one’s my favorite discovery. The Geodesic Terrarium by Score + Solder Light Bulb Terrarium Magic Mushroom …


Alas, after all this, I couldn’t come up with a plan for the pink light bulbs. Seems a shame to close the lid and put the box away. But I don’t really like to leave useful things laying around. Do unused light bulbs have an expiration date? I’m sure they do. Everything does. For shits and giggles, as my friend often says, according to The Guiness Book of World Records, the world’s longest lasting light bulb is the 110 year old Centennial Light located at 4550 East Avenue in Livermore, California, maintained by The Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department.

Anyhow, I’m hoping something comes to me soon. Better yet. I know one of you out there has an idea for them. For me. Share please if you do. I guess until then, peace out, lights out.


January 8, 2014 — 2 Comments


Seems I’m not updating fast enough for the digital world. Feeling a little overwhelmed by the things my friends are using that can only be accessed with an iPhone or an OS that’s newer than what I’ve got on my first generation iPad and Macbook. It’s a *Pro* but maybe not pro enough to see some pictures a friend took during her baby shower.

She created a photostream using iCloud. But to subscribe to her photo stream, this is what I need: …to be signed in to iCloud on:

an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 6 or later, or
a Mac with OS X 10.8.2 or later and iPhoto 9.4 or Aperture 3.4 or later

I’ve resisted adopting and updating and swapping out the old for something newer and faster for a zillion reasons–the hassle, cost, lots of reasons. And anyhow, my laptop and mobile devices work *most of the time* and for my purposes just fine.

I’m going to be missing out on seeing her photos. But I’ve decided I’d rather spend my time–it’s precious–elsewhere. Updates can wait. There will always be something new…

Don’t get me started on built-in obsolescence. Or our culture of dispensability. That’s for later too–a To Be Continued discussion that could and will go on forever.

No fear, no fun

January 5, 2014 — Leave a comment

On occasion, I open J. Krishnamurti’s The Book of Life to read the meditation of the day.

Today, I reached for the book not to read the January 4 entry, but instead was looking for any mention of “fear“–this, after reading a friend’s Facebook post. She’d been reading a book (didn’t mention which one) that prompted her query:

Do you think it is possible to eliminate fear from your life?

NO, was my gut reaction to the question posed. And I have to admit I was slightly irritated by the pretext of the question, the consideration of eliminating fear. Granted, it’s a philosophical question. But still.

Why on earth would I want to do that?

Some of my most inspired and exciting moments have included an element of fear. It’s not that I’m driven by fear, nor that it’s the initial emotion that prompts my actions in most situations, but I’m conscious of it, believe it’s there for a reason, and without it, I wouldn’t be able to evaluate and then act accordingly in the best way possible. I couldn’t imagine any interesting experience or situation in my past that hasn’t included fear. Goodness, life would be absolutely boring without fear.

Over a hundred people responded to the post. I’m not going to respond. But I’ll Like this one:

Fear has a place, it shouldn’t paralyze one though, in most applications

Got me to thinking…

Yesterday, after the snowstorm, I convinced a friend to purchase with me a $99 ski package deal to Hunter Mountain–transportation, lift ticket, rental equipment included.

I’m an experienced skier, as is she, but neither of us has skied in years and we both, unsurprisingly, exchanged what I guess would be called words of caution about being old and those creaky bones. I would add atrophied quads to my list (she wouldn’t; she lifts weights).

At some point, my friend asked if helmets were included in our package.

–Helmets? I said. I don’t wear a helmet. I don’t do tricks or jumps. Moguls and an occasional bowl if there is one. I don’t need a helmet.

–Times have changed, she said while pulling up images of skiers and snowboarders on Hunter Mountain–all of whom were wearing helmets.

I’ve always advocated wearing a helmet while bike riding, I suppose a helmet on the slopes isn’t unreasonable.

I definitely know there are risks to skiing. Breaking my arm or wrist (happened to my sister, stepfather, friend) or having my bindings not properly adjusted and injuring my knees. Concussion. Paralysis. But I’ve had far too many accidents and illnesses over the years off the slopes that I don’t see how skiing with or without a helmet can be any more dangerous than riding the subway.

My stepfather, who skied with me for years (now he’s 92), always told my sister and me not to be afraid of falling–falling, tumbling, crashing on the slopes. He’d say, If you don’t fall once in a while then you’re being too cautious, not improving, not letting yourself go enough to really feel the rush of downhill skiing.

I’d like to believe the same holds true for life.

No fear, no fun.