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Friday, January 31, 2003

I'm giving up the 'work stress plus Peet's soy chai.' There's no way I should be at work at this hour. But I am. Urk!
posted by Arlene (Beth)6:44 AM

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Oh, I am so very lazy. I have been eating only simple foods (apple pie, miso soup, quesadillas, cereal, green salads, and fresh artisan breads spread with prepared veggie sauces). So I have little to write about at this very moment. Though I could gush about the wonderful noodle dish I had at Herbivore, but you've heard all that before.

Instead, let me be unoriginal. Let me quite from's archive of my very own pages from the past! I guess it's still sort of original. At least they're my own recipes.

What kind of enchiladas should I make in winter, or when there's nothing I'd want to buy at the produce stand?

Now that you mention it, I do have a favorite recipe to use when the weather is cold, or when the tomatoes are too expensive or otherwise unavailable. Sweet red pepper and butternut enchiladas are just the thing, made with butternut squash (which keep forever), canned tomatoes, and frozen peppers. They whip the boring, fatty, bland fillings you see in most restaurants - you'll be glad you made them!

New! Sweet red pepper and butternut enchiladas contain:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 large red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 small (7") butternut squash, halved and baked cut-side-down in a 350^ oven in a dish with a little water until tender enough for you to leave a thumbprint with your mittened hand, peeled and diced (this can be done a few days in advance, if you like)
  • dashes of cumin, basil, cayenne, salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups of jalapeño jack cheese, grated.

  1. Preheat your oven to about 350º.
  2. Sauté the onions and garlic in 2 Tbsp. of your choice of vegetable oil until the onions become translucent; add the spices and red peppers and saute until tender.
  3. Combine the squash with the sauté, mixing well.
  4. Place a few tablespoons of hot filling, plus some grated cheese on a tortilla, roll, and place in your pan on top of a thin layer of sauce; when all enchiladas are assembled, pour sauce over the top, and cover the whole pan with foil.

What do you mean, I haven't told you how to make the sauce? Do you really want me to put it here, instead of on the sauce page? I'll put it both places - here goes:

Winter Red Sauce

  • 28 ounces of your favorite brand of canned or aseptic-packaged tomatoes, whole, chopped, or ground (Muir Glen® and Pomi® are good)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, or its equivalent frozen amount (available year-round in supermarkets)
  • 1 huge onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cumin
  • a dash each of salt, pepper, oregano, and 2 or 3 dashes of cayenne pepper.

Blend in a blender until smooth.

Are you happy now? Where was I? Bake the covered enchiladas at 350º about 30 minutes, by which time all the cheese should be melted, and the tray should be exuding bubbling noises.

These are SWEET, but the jalapeño jack and the cayenne makes them pleasantly warm. When I used regular jack, my friends accused me of serving them dessert, because the butternut squash was so sweet.

On to the other recipies!

My standard enchilada filling recipe is adapted from Mollie
Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I changed
the proportions a bit, but it holds true to Mollie's original


  • 4-5 cloves of garlic (Ms. Katzen has a different sense of propriety on this issue), minced
  • 1 big onion, diced (Ms. Katzen uses measuring cups. But it's not like you're going to save a few excess ounces of onion for something else, right? Toss it all in. You won't regret it.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • a few small hot peppers of your favorite variety
  • 3 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 dashes of basil
  • 1/2 teaspooon ground cumin
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 8 oz. of cheese, grated.

I recommend that you get all of these ingredients out of the fridge,
get them washed and cut accordingly before you start cooking. I have
a teeny-weeny itsy-bitsy kitchen counter, so I personally can't do this, but it's such a nice idea, I can't help but mention it.


  1. Add a dash or two of your favorite cooking oil to a large,
    heavy frying pan, and get it heated up so that the first bit of onion you
    toss in sizzles pleasantly. Then toss in all the onion and garlic, and stir
    them around a bit.
  2. Enjoy the way they smell.
  3. Breathe deeply.
  4. (Don't forget to exhale.)
  5. Add the peppers next (all of them), and continue to sauté. Continue to
    enjoy the pleasant smells.
  6. Notice that your pals are beginning to drool. Drive them out of the kitchen,
    unless they're doing something useful.
  7. Think about how swell this web page is, and wonder idly where I found the
    secret code for the little e with the little accent mark over it. Wonder why
    that little e was assigned the code "ampersand pound two-three-three semicolon."
    Realize that this entire train of thought is ridiculous, and return to gently stirring
    the fragrant peppers.
  8. Add the zucchini and spices, and saute until all veggies are soft and
    your kitchen smells really good. Turn off the heat, and let them cool a
    bit while you get out your tortillas and sauce.
  9. Assemble by putting a
    few big spoonfuls of cooked filling into the center of a tortilla, adding
    half a handful of cheese, and rolling. (The tortilla, I mean.)
    Drench the enchilada-to-be in
    sauce, and bake (covered) for about 45 minutes at 350º.

My Most Favorite Enchilada Filling Recipe is slightly different.

  • 1 really big onion, or 2 small ones, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • a greedy handful of hot hungarian wax peppers (which are pale green), or a smaller handful of other small, fresh, hot peppers, minced
  • 1/2 a pound of fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne, worshippped
  • dashes of cumin, basil, salt and black pepper, sprinkled.
  • a cup or so of jack cheese, grated.


Saute everything in the order of appearance EXCEPT the cheese, adding the mushrooms after the peppers are already mostly soft. The mushrooms
will cook quickly, and will shrink a bit, so don't worry if the pan is overflowing for the first few mushroom-addition-minutes.
There's no such thing as "too much enchilada filling," if the filling is good. And this one is.

Assemble by putting a
few big spoonfuls of cooked filling into the center of a tortilla, adding
half a handful of cheese, and rolling. (The tortilla, I mean.)
Drench the enchilada-to-be in
sauce, and bake (covered) for about 45 minutes at 350º. You'll know the enchiladas are ready then the sauce is bubbling up around the edges of the pan, and your kitchen is attracting hungry people from miles around.

Spinach and mushroom enchiladas!

  • 1 really big onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a pound of fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 a bunch of fresh spinach (maybe 3 cups), washed very carefully to get the earth out of the nooks and crannies
  • a dash of salt
  • a cup or so of jack cheese, grated.


Saute everything in the order of appearance EXCEPT the cheese, adding the spinach at the last possible moment (you want it to be tender and bright green, not totally wilted and mushy).

Assemble the usual way, and place in a pan or casserole dish with a shallow layer of the green sauce of your choice already in the bottom. (You'll need about 3 cups, so you may want to buy more than one jar.) Cover with sauce and bake (covered) for 30 - 45 minutes at 350º, or until bubbly hot all through.

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:36 PM

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

I'm up at an ungodly hour after having a rather pretty and vivid dream. I was on a cross-country trip with S, traveling through a mountainous region through a deep, water-cut valley of red stone similar to the Grand Canyon. As the road rose and fell traveling through the valley, I could see the landscape above, with thick pine forests and bright, smooth granite domes. We rounded a turn, and came to a steep driveway for a roadside attraction: a botanical garden built on a huge stone tower standing alone along the side of the valley.

We parked the car and went up a winding path around the tower to enter. I took a side trip to the restrooms (which turned out to be a significant part of the dream's message to me about why I should wake up) along a rough, temporary path in a steep wash, and then took a tour of the gardens. The tour followed a narrow trail, with dramatic views in spots where you couldn't stop to enjoy them. There was a view of the sea (despite being many hours inland) from a spot S was standing in that I couldn't get to. There was a view of the valley we were in, and some wild glass greenhouses with wrought iron ornamentation, from a moving escalator full of tourists. And there was a view of an elaborate, salmon-colored sculptural ceiling enclosed in glass from beneath a heavily used, wooden spiral staircase. Despite the pressure to keep moving, I shot many frames on my Nikon.

And then I remembered the part about the bathroom and woke up.


I haven't been writing about food very much, because I haven't been experimenting in the kitchen in recent weeks. I've made an apple pie, some curries, lots of quesadilla with various sauces and fillings, some basic soups, but nothing new or complicated. I'll repost some enchilada recipes soon to keep the food theme predominant.


As I biked to my dinner date with S last night, I passed a small pro-peace march on Market Street. It was very orderly, with DPW trucks and a few police motorcycles running alongside and ahead. It was nice to see people engaged in making their views known. (This whole 'free country' thing can be good.)

I've also seen photos of anti war protests in Mumbai and England, and read a good article about how the large turnouts at recent peace marches have finally tipped off such papers as the New York Times to acknowledge that there is a peace movement in this country.

There has been some institutional reluctance to admit this. ("United we stand!") There has even been a lengthy debate as to how to count the war protestors. For example, the massive peace march earlier this month had a hotly disputed count. The march stretched from the SF waterfront all the way up Market to Civic Center, but the local authorities chose to only include one area to count from.
"Police estimates of 55,000 demonstrators came from a counting of people in Civic Center Plaza and did not include marchers who were backed up along Market Street, said Jim Deignan, San Francisco police spokesman.

Aerial photographs show a packed plaza and masses stacked back along streets leading in."

The article notes that "a police spokesman Monday amended those numbers up to as many as 150,000 marchers," revising it's estimate nearly threefold, which to me is indicative of the department's fear of losing it's credibility. After all, the National Park Service lost its task of counting heads for demonstrations after the Million Man March. (The article does NOT mention that the NPS estimate was 400,000, while satellite photos analyzed by university scientists indicated more than double that, and the resulting bruise to the NPS' image inspired their loss of the head counting role.)

It's amazing that even COUNTING who shows up at a protest has become a political numbers game in the media. In this day and age!

International ANSWER figured this out. They hired their own damn helicopter to take the aerial photos that they knew would vindicate their count. This is exactly what the professor who used satellite images for the Million Man March recount suggested. Photography rocks!!

posted by Arlene (Beth)3:35 AM

Blogger is doing some odd things right now. So this is a test posting.
posted by Arlene (Beth)3:34 AM

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Sleeping in. Hibiscus tea and a blueberry scone. Sitting in the sun. Oatmeal with brown sugar. Lavender soap. Making lasagna to share with my parents.

I like today, so far.


I haven't even looked at my photos from the anti-war protest, by my cousin has already set up an excellent pro-peace page, complete with many great links. I need to get off my Rumsfeld and do something!

posted by Arlene (Beth)1:42 PM

Friday, January 24, 2003

It was a long and bizarre day. More than nine and a half hours of trying to alter misperceptions, sympathize with the tired and out of sorts, and find things that weren't where they always are.

And then, a fabulous Indian dinner with a good friend, great conversation (from very sad to bursting with joy at being here), a long walk home on a warm night, and suddenly, the world is renewed with goodness.


posted by Arlene (Beth)10:34 PM

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Poppy seed dressing is one of the greatest things ever!


Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday Roe v. Wade,
Happy 30th birthday to you!

May you be obsolete and unneeded due to other advances in society and medicine within my lifetime!

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:12 PM

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Thai curries are so wonderfully easy to make!! I make them when feel lazy, but they taste so good it makes me feel like I've accomplished something.

All I need is a jar of Thai curry paste (beware: some types have shrimp powder or fish sauce in them), a can of "lite" coconut milk, and about 2 cups of the veggies of my choice (a red bell pepper, some shredded kale, half a red onion, some cubed tofu). Just simmer a tablespoon or so of the paste in the coconut milk for a few minutes, and then add the other ingredients and simmer them until tender, which usually takes about as long as it takes for white basmati rice to cook.



S found an ancient Kraft-brand cooking booklet downstairs. It's hysterical! Mayonnaise and gelatin in everything! The color photo on the cover is of a tuna mold, containing flaked tuna, gelatin, mayonnaise, and a bit of celery, olive, and pimento for, um, pattern? Oh, and some tomato juice for color for the lower mold.

It is fish-shaped. It has a sliced olive for an eye. It is surely the most vile thing I've seen all day.

S didn't believe me when I told him it was a fish-Jell-o dish.

Oh, it is so vile.

Oh, my friends who have relatives in the midwest say that actually eat things like this, and when they offer you a "salad," they really mean some heinous gelatin and marshmallow concoction. Eeeeuuuuwwww. The horror.


One of my girlfriends, who does happen to be from the midwest and possibly would not recoil in horror and hysteria from this cookbook immediately, laughing quietly to herself instead, sent me one of those trivia quizzes that people share with their friends to learn more about them. I'll bore you with it:

1. What time is it? 9:01 PM
2. Name as it appears on your birth certificate: I'm not telling here
3. Nickname(s): I'll just say that I'm the third
Arlene in a row, and none of us go by Arlene with family!
4. Parents' names: Bob and Arlene
5. Number of candles that appeared on your last birthday cake: I don't
do birthday cakes for myself, only for other people. And the last one I
baked fell apart while cooling, which is what happens when you try a new
recipe for a big event.
6. Date that you regularly blow the candles out? some time in December
between Xmas and NY, if I did, which I don't.
7. Pets: None, though my partner has acquired 5 fish and one rat, which
he shares with me.
8. Eye color: Brown/green/grey (hazel)
9. Hair color: Red
11. Tattoos: There's one on my inner thigh that reads, "If you can read
this, you're standing too close." Well, okay, I'm not tattooed. I
always figured I'd get one of those vast traditional Japanese
landscape/woodblocks across my entire back if I did get tattooed. But I
12. How much do you love your job? When I'm delirious, it's just the
best thing. Otherwise it's just good. Except when it's really
interesting. Which sometimes happens. It's not so much fun when I work
for nervous people, who won't stop calling to micromanage.
14. Hometown: San Francisco, CA
15. Current Residence: ditto, amazingly enough
16. Favorite food: either spinach and mushroom enchiladas or bengan bharta.
17. Been to Africa? No, though there's a long list of places in Ethiopia
I'd love to see.
18. Been toilet papering: only in the bathroom. I've had to pack it out
of the backcountry, which is way too much work, and yet I do it.
19. Loved somebody so much it made you cry? Yes, though I think some of
that was out of frustration.
20. Been in a car accident? Yes, twice as a passenger in a Volvo; one of
those times was a head-on collision by a drunk driver just blocks from
my home. The Volvo was fine, we were shaken, and the drunk and her
friend pushed their car into a parking space and fled before the police
could arrive. I had to pick the driver out of a photo line up. It was
horrid: I could easily identify her, but was mortified that the police
could find such hopeless, drunk-faced, ugly individuals for the line up.
The DA had other cases to pursue, having already revoked this woman's
license. So she's still out there, driving drunk without a license,
unless she's since killed someone.
21. Croutons or bacon bits? Neither.
22. Sprite or 7UP? 7 UP.
23. Favorite Movies: the English Patient, the Legend of Fong Sai Yuk,
Supercop, Aliens, and several Bridget Lin films I haven't figured out
the English names of.
24. Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving, I think. Mashed potatoes. Mmm.
25. Favorite day of the week: Friday, I think. I like being on the
verge of the weekend, bursting with possibility. Sometimes I can't
sleep, I'm so excited just to know that I'll have some time I haven't sold.
26. Favorite word or phrase: Maybe "chocolate." Though it's not my
favorite flavor.
27. Favorite toothpaste: Colgate. (Have you ever seen a Colgate
commercial on one of the Spanish channels? It becomes Col-GAT-'e.
Perfect! It'd rather call it ColGAT'e, too!)
28. Favorite restaurant: Thai Time, best Thai food I've ever had (even
counting a trip to Bangkok)
29. Favorite Flowers: calla lilies, camellias, and orchids orchids
orchids (especially cymbidiums and a certain kind of xygolopetalum that
looks like a happy fish)
30. Favorite Drink(s): berry juices; hibiscus tea
31. Favorite sport to play: I don't know about playing. Sports I like
include bicycling (so much I do it most days of the week), hiking
(weekly), and swimming (which I haven't done in a year or so), but those
can be either solitary or team pursuits, so they may not count as
playing. I'm not as enthused about games.
32. Preferred type of ice cream: blackberry sorbet; Mitchell's pumpkin
ice cream
33. Favorite Sesame Street Character: 'hard call. Maybe Oscar. Maybe
34. Disney or Warner Bros: WB
35. Favorite Fast Food Restaurant: whichever my father will switch to so
he won't need to have ANOTHER triple bypass, because the many he eats at
now aren't cutting it. Those places are purveyors of arterial evil!!
36. What do you look for in the opposite sex? An overarching passion
for ME. :-) Well, that and a real life, with real hobbies, well thought
out opinions, sick humor, and a host of other things that could turn
this into an essay. (And S is reading this and thinking, 'I'm all that
and MORE!')
37. Pet peeves? idiotic cell phone users. As if it's ever appropriate
to take that call in the movie theater/quiet restaurant. Puh-lease.
38. What color is your bedroom carpet? Black, gold, and a sort of pale
maroon (just a runner).
39. How many times did you fail your drivers test? I failed it the only
time I took it, back in the mid 1990s, in a little zippy car I'd never
driven before. I was failed for making a right hand turn while there
was another car within a block of me on the street I was turning on to.
My grandmother would have made that turn, but the tester was... well,
testy. Every bad thing I'd heard about that particular DMV office was
entertainingly true. Which is fine, because I don't need a license.
But it was still annoying. My sister failed her first one because she
got flirted with by a car of boys, while the tester got dissed, which
was surely even more frustrating, because she needed the license.
40. Who is the last person you got email from before this: I'm off
line, so I'm not sure.
41. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? No, though some civil
disobedience would do me good.
42. Which single store would you choose to max out your credit?
Amsterdam Art. They have more watercolor and acrylic paint colors than
I ever dreamed of...
43. What do you do most often when you are bored? I can't think of the
last time I was bored. (Well, there was a meeting today that wasn't so
exciting, but that barely counts because it was short.)
44. Name the person that you are friends with that lives the farthest
away? Christina M. in Germany.
45. Most annoying thing people ask (say to) me: "But we have to respect
him -- he's our President!"
46. Bedtime - varies wildly. Usually 11 ish.
47. Who will respond the quickest to this email? the mailer-daemon,
telling me I've misspelled an address. :-)
48. Who is the person you sent this to that is least likely to respond.
Vice President Dick Cheney, in his undisclosed location. (Well,
actually, I don't really want to know his answers to these questions, so...)
49. What is your favorite TV show? If I watched TV, it would probably
still be either the Naked Chef or something on Nick at Nite. But I
don't. TVs are best for watching rented kung fu and art house movies.
50. Who is the last person you went out to dinner with: S
51. Last Movie you saw at the theater? Rabbit-Proof Fence. It's based
on a true story of multi-racial Aboriginal girls abducted from their
homes to be forced into servitude, theoretically to provide them with
the benefits of a euro-based culture. The girls fled, hiking through
the dessert for more than 1,500 miles to get home. This is proof that
it can be a really good thing to raise extremely stubborn daughters.
52. Time when you finished this: 9:29. I had to take some time out to
smell the narcissus.

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:36 PM

Monday, January 20, 2003


Perhaps staying up late and having coworkers with pnemonia is a bad combination: I have a deeply disturbing cough that is likely confusing seals around the bay area even now. Eeek. More sleep and tea for me.

Though this didn't stop me from going to a little party at a fancy bar on Saturday night, which, to my distress, featured a patron with light up nipples. I mean, jeez.


I haven't added any anti-SUV materials to this page in DAYS. So here are a few:

The originator of the "What Would Jesus Drive" movement comments in this SF Chron article:
"Transportation choices are the largest way we impact God's creation in terms of pollution and environmental degradation," Ball said. "Jesus taught us to love your neighbor like yourself. I think it's a good idea to ask, 'If Jesus were in my shoes, what would he do?' "

(An opponent insists that, because Jesus had 12 apostles, he'd need an SUV. Because of all those 13 passenger SUV's you've seen on the road? NOT. A small fleet of bicycles, or a whole lot of sandals, seem more likely.)

Columnist Mark Morford notes how backwards the things are technologically:
Think about it. The past few decades have seen dramatic revolutions in every other technological realm, from PCs to the Internet to medicine, from DVDs to cell phones to deep-space telescopes, from "smart" refrigerators and PDAs and MP3 players to glow-in-the-dark vibrators that can run off the power in your phone line during those particularly naughty blackouts.

So why not the car? Why, then, has there been absolutely zero significant revolution in automobile-engine technology in the past 50 years?
He then skillfully answers that question.

And there is the source of those fabulous eco-tickets, Earth On Empty. ("Failure to pay attention to your own behavior is hazardous to everyone.")

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:54 AM

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Awesome news photos of today's march from the SF Chronicle: aerial view and at Civic Center.
posted by Arlene (Beth)6:44 PM


Today's massive anti-war protest was great. It's a shame our lame local TV news really didn't know what to say about it. They had to make sure they didn't spend too much time on it, so they could report on a) allegations that the husband of the missing Modesto woman had an affair, and b) cosmetic dentistry.

Seriously. COSMETIC DENTISTRY. They interviewed some cop who said this was the biggest protest he's seen in more than 20 years, and they have to rush to talk about sex and DENTISTRY.

[shaking of head]

On the bright side, we were at the stage at the start of the protest, and the speaker noted that 'we brought our own media. Today you may notice a helicopter in the sky. It is OUR helicopter.' And went on to say that we won't have to rely on shoddy media coverage for a head count.


"Ben and Jerry's gave 4000 peace pops at the [Washington DC] protest" according to Washington DC Indymedia. Mmmm. Ice cream. As if it wasn't really cold.


Other links: no war blog (with its own amazing collection of links to other blogs); SF Indymedia (down for the past several minutes, up just moments ago); United For Peace; Another Poster For Peace (a parody of San Francisco's 'America Open for Business' poster); Protest Graphics (source of excellent printable posters); Think Again (a very cool site not specifically about war, but using art to question many aspects of our society -- and yes, of course they write about food)...

posted by Arlene (Beth)6:32 PM

Friday, January 17, 2003

Due to kick in in 2009, "A Europe-wide ban on the use of animals to test cosmetic products has been approved with an overwhelming majority by the European Parliament." Wow!! And they won't be importing cosmetics tested on animals, either. That's so modern! My guess is that the US will challenge the rule under the WTO, saying that consumers have no right to determine under what circumstances their products are tested and manufactured. (The WTO says child labor is fine, and you can't protest that either. Isn't that charming?)


I'm still laughing: as reported by a friend earlier this week, the Georgia Supreme Court "has abolished a 170-year-old law prohibiting sexual relations outside of marriage". No, really: unmarried sex has been a crime since 1833, and 10 other states still outlaw it.


Discrimination: act surprised. "People with white-sounding names stand a better chance of getting a job in the United States, a new survey has found. Job-seekers with names like Greg and Anne get 50 % more replies from employers than black-sounding applicants such as Ebony and Rasheed..." The study was done in Boston and Chicago, using similar qualifications to apply for job listings, so that each employer got an equal number of equivalent applicants with both types of names. (An in depth report about the study is available from the NYT for a fee, which says that 'Applicants with white-sounding names were 50 percent more likely to be called for interviews than were those with black-sounding names. Interviews were requested for 10.1 percent of applicants with white-sounding names, while only 6.7 percent of those with black-sounding names got called in.')

Thank you everyone who, jumping the gun slightly, thinks we live in a color-blind society now.

posted by Arlene (Beth)7:22 AM


Bananas may go extinct because commercial growers around the world are only growing one seedless type, Cavendish, which "lacks genetic diversity" to resist fungal diseases for which there are no cures. Having decimated the natural variety of bananas, scientists now want to genetically modify the edible ones by crossing them with inedible, seed-filled bananas. Fearing that northern consumers won't buy GMO bananas, they plan to sell them... in Africa.



Here are some thoroughly entertaining White House press conference excerpts, selected by Tom Tomorrow. (Links to the complete transcript also provided.)


"There is no honorable way to kill, and there is no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war, except its ending." - Abraham Lincoln, quoted in this incredible speech by the governor of Illinois on why he is commuting death sentences there, despite being a former proponent of the death penalty. It's quite a speech.

posted by Arlene (Beth)7:18 AM

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

I love the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition! They are even in the New York Times this week, with a feature on how new parking meters are eliminated rare bicycle parking in San Francisco. The New York Times! My Bike Club! This so rocks! I like this gushy part:
Though statistics are scarce, a survey in 1997 estimated that 30,000 people a day used bicycles for transportation in San Francisco, whether traveling to work or just to the grocery store. The cyclists are well known for their political muscle. Recently their opposition helped kill a proposal for a fee for walking or bicycling across the Golden Gate Bridge. In 2001, Bicycling magazine listed San Francisco among the nation's top cities for bicycling, citing the activism of bicyclists as a primary reason.
Though I also like this news from their interview with folks at the City:
Next month, the city is schedule to update its bicycle plan and may include more radical solutions, like replacing some parking spaces for cars with bicycle parking.
Yes! Yes! Yes!


Speaking of the Bike Coalition, we're in some of the Winterfest Photos. We're near the front of the audience, and scoping out the silent auction. I didn't get any of the items I bid on, but it was still fun. And the portobello mushroom sandwiches with herbed aioli were DELICIOUS.


So I read a great theory earlier today. I haven't been able to figure out why so many American kids are on behavior altering drugs. It's not that recent generations of parents are any more screwed up than previous generations of parents. It's not that today's kids appear any less freaky than previous generations of kids. I wasn't getting it. But today, a BBC article put forth a great theory: that the HMOs are making the choices, and drugs are cheaper than therapy. According to the article "Medication visits [to doctors] are reimbursed at twice or more the rate per minute than therapy time, and less rigorous authorisation is required."

It's all about the money. Who knew?

posted by Arlene (Beth)8:40 PM

Monday, January 13, 2003

So it turns out that it's possible to make a thin crust pizza with gruyere cheese on it that is NOT overwhelmingly cheesy. And is in fact, quite delicious. I wouldn't have guessed.


This TIME Europe poll asks which country is posing the biggest threat to world peace with just three options relating to the crisis du jour: North Korea, Iraq, or the United States.

As of this writing (not necessarily the time of this posting), the United States is leading with 76.5%; Iraq is in second with a measly 13.6 %; North Korea is last, with just 9.9%.

United we stand!
posted by Arlene (Beth)6:23 PM

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!! The best research tool I've come across in ages: You put in the URL for a web page that USED TO EXIST, and... it has it!! I kid you not. It even has certain versions of my old web pages at I am just amazed.
posted by Arlene (Beth)1:46 PM

Sunday, January 12, 2003

A useful place for cocktail recipes is No, really. There I was able to confirm that the most common recipe for the cosmopolitan is 4 parts citrus vodka, 2 parts cranberry juice, 2 parts triple sec, and 1 part lime juice. There were some confusing variations on the web (6+ parts vodka), and I just don't mix drinks often enough to remember these things. Whereas there are veggie soups with 15 ingredients that I can make from memory, because I do so often.


My favorite seed catalog has arrived, and now we are planning out what we'd like to have in our garden. We have a long lot, much of which was neglected and overgrown before we moved here. We are now enjoying the plants we brought from our last place as they settle in and bloom, and we are trying to decide what to add.

The answer is just about everything.

I have long wanted an organic herb garden, since I use so many fresh herbs in cooking, and because they are lovely plants. Our rosemary plant has a wonderful scent - whenever I am near it, I can't help but touch it so I can carry the scent on my hands. S is a very successful flower gardener: on our first date, he not only brought me a bouquet of flowers that he had grown himself, but he knew what each plant was called, and which ones smelled best while others were just for show.

So we've gotten together, poured over the beautifully photographed catalog, and come up with a list of flowers and foods that we'd like to grow from seed.

I'm very excited. Growing plants is a wonderful pasttime. I learn to be more observant. I leant to pay attention to the seasons and the weather. [As a cyclist, I'm already pretty in tune with the weather. I remember chatting with another cyclist on CalTrain, who said that he had been 'agnostic' about the weather as a car driver. It didn't really mean anything. But once he was out biking in the elements every day, he really observed the changes of the seasons, the differences in when the sun rose and set, the direction of the wind. It changed his view of the world.] There really is a rhythm that plants rely on to tell them when to grow, when to bloom, when to set fruit. I've tried to trick plants into fruiting in winter, and they have never been persuaded.

There are reasons that strawberries are only tasty in early summer. There are reasons why bell peppers are expensive in January. There is a calendar of when things want to grow locally that tells us what we should be eating to support our local farmers, and very few people I know listen. But it's easy to follow the local calendar. And it's enjoyable. Like pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, it's part of a pattern that can be very pleasant. Pumpkin pie in April isn't as meaningful.

The idea that you can get grapes flown in on a plane from Chile has been interpreted to mean that one should get grapes from Chile, despite the fact that the pollution caused by that flight is poisoning our air. The idea that you should be able to have mediocre fresh strawberries all year that have traveled long distances on a truck or plane, rather than really GREAT strawberries for a few months, has been lost on many. I'm not sure why.

When I was on a very restrictive budget for many years, the common sense behind eating locally produced foods in season was readily apparent. Foods grown locally according to the seasons were cheaper. I could choose between eating the foods growing in my area in plenty, or eating relatively less of higher priced foods brought in from elsewhere. While subsidies often hide the price of importing food from afar in supermarkets, every penny counted, and I had a pretty clear choice at the local farmer's market. I had to make my money go far, so I ate the locally grown, in-season produce.

And it was wonderful. I was shocked at how well I could eat. As one of those idiot's guides to personal finance pointed out, eating vegetarian is inexpensive anyway. Eating vegetarian, cooking from scratch, and eating in season is VERY cheap.

My budget isn't as restrictive now. I can buy fancy sauces and spreads and breads and prepared foods without concern that I'll have enough to eat. I can even shop at the upscale, fancy farmer's market with more prepared foods and organics. But I still eat according to the seasons.

And it's good!


Here's UC Davis' list of San Francisco Bay Area Farmer's Markets. (They also have a state wide guide.) And information on why farmer's markets are important and what you can learn about how your food is grown.
posted by Arlene (Beth)11:10 AM

Saturday, January 11, 2003

We are out of both home made and purchased worthwhile desserts.


I'm not sure how I allowed this to come to pass. But I know it is wrong. Especially after tasting that soy cream dessert. (Mmmmm.)

posted by Arlene (Beth)11:23 PM

Friday, January 10, 2003

I wonder how long it would take me to be satisfied with a photo essay of sunrises. How many sunrises would it take before I felt smug and could say, "Oh yes, I have one just like that from May."

I'm hoping it would take an infinite number. That I could take thousands upon thousands of sunrise photos, year after year, and never be bored by it.

Perhaps, after many years of collecting, I could change my name to a male name, and even get part of the collection shown at SFMOMA!

posted by Arlene (Beth)7:15 PM

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Mmmm. Tea. It's always pleasant, but seems especially pleasant on a rainy, gray day like today.

The sun didn't seem to want to rise at all. I didn't either, really. And now, as my lunch break draws to a close, I should gather up a few items to post here.


The rainy season is bringing joy to many local plants. Calla lilies, rosemary (with its tiny, pale blue blossoms), jade, all sorts of succulents, short grasses with yellow-centered purple star blossoms, and my zygolopetalum orchid (yolanda skippy blackii yu) are all in glorious bloom. Soon, my bright red cymbidium, which is as happy to be back in San Francisco as I am, will be in full bloom with three flower spikes.

San Francisco is a great place to live!


It's great to be an American, except when our fringe government starts cancelling the Constitutional rights upon which our identity as a free people is based. For example, our government has decided that they can indefinitely hold whoever it labels an "enemy combatant," regardless of citizenship, without right to a legal defense, and a court has agreed. Creepy creepy creepy. So you can't defend yourself, you can't talk to a lawyer, and even the charges against you can be kept secret.

I'd thought the current government was made up solely of Iran/Contra scandalistas and centenarian Ford/Reagan/Bush Administration employees, but apparently a few KGB-types have signed on with this Administration as well.


Oh oh oh oh oh: Arianna Huffington's new effort to call attention to our contribution of wealth to non-democratic and even fundamentalist governments through the purchase of oil for SUV's has it's own web page, and is stirring up press. The Detroit Project by Americans for Fuel Efficient Cars, has produced television advertisements connecting SUV driving with terrorism of various sorts. (If our federal government can connect drug using to terrorism, why not?) Some stations, which get loads of money from car and truck advertising, have refused to run the spots for undisclosed reasons. (Gee, what could it be?)


And a little item of local politics: Matt Gonzales, Green, is now president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He needed 6 of 11 votes, and he got them. This is funny:
Jane Morrison, chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, was reluctant to comment on the Gonzalez victory. "You'd think that with nine Democrats on the board, they would have voted Democratic," is all she would say.


I've never seen these before: naturally occurring snow rollers.


What the Internet is REALLY for: "Dow and Burson-Marsteller brought down a chorus of snickering and scorn upon themselves -- and a whole lot of attention to aspects of their businesses they'd probably rather be kept quiet" by threatening to sue authors of parody sites calling attention to the companies unethical practices, such as Dow/Unocal's refusal to aid the victims of the Bhopal disaster. (Shooting fish in a barrel: making fun of a company whose real website is "" - yipes!)

News to me: "Reamweaver," the site-parodying program. THAT is interactive!
posted by Arlene (Beth)12:56 PM

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

I'm feeling lazy. 'Just sitting here, listening to the BBC News (World Service), and reading organic recipes (not all veggie) on the Seeds of Change website.

But I'm too full to write much about food. But I can still make fun of gullible people who believe soda water is vodka and then flunk tests under the theory that they're buzzed. Fools! (Imagine how much one could profit from selling fizzy water with lime to these people! Perhaps the profits could go to open a school, since these people [and the US president, and so many others] need further education...)

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:30 PM

Tuesday, January 07, 2003


Yesterday the wind was strong, and the air was sparklingly clean. Everything smelled fresh.

Today, it's not so clear, not so fresh. 'Damned cars.


There's a ton of environmental news this week. First, good news from this ENR article:

A federal appeals court has cleared a legal roadblock to a U.S. Forest Service rule issued in the last days of the Clinton administration barring road construction in about 58.5 million acres of federal forests. The Dec. 12 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit represents a win for environmental groups who support the "roadless rule," and a setback for those who favor more development in forest areas.


On May 10, 2001, the district court issued an injunction blocking the roadless regulation, saying there was a "substantial possibility that the Roadless Rule will result in irreparable harm to the National Forests." Environmentalists filed an appeal challenging the district court's action.

In its ruling, the appellate court sided with the environmentalists, saying, "The district court in our view failed adequately to weigh the public interest in preserving our national forests in their natural state."

Canada's parliament approved the Kyoto Protocol by a vote of 195-77.

Mixed news: The New York Times reports that the latest state report on the Klamath River supports contentions by fishermen, environmentalists and several American Indian tribes that 33,000 fish died on the lower river last fall because the Bush administration allowed too much water to be diverted to farmers."The report says that of all the factors that contributed to the die-off, from the large number of fish to the presence of bacterial pathogens in the water, 'flow is the only factor that can be controlled to any degree.'" This is good, in that it means that the wrong course can be averted, if science wins out over politics. The bad news is, it might not.

Other bad news (from ENR): a quality assurance manager working on the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository was fired
...after voicing concerns about suppressed evidence and falstely attributed statements. "I managed the organization, which identified problems with the software modeling and data," Mattimoe says. "Doe was very unhappy. Instead of admitting to deficiencies, they either denied or covered them up." After an internal investigation, Mattimoe was fired.... The law firm that conducted the investigation registered as a lobbyist for Washington, D.C.-based Nuclear Energy Institute, but denies a conflict of interest.

[Mattimoe has been reinstated and paid back wages since.]

THAT gives so much confidence...

posted by Arlene (Beth)12:18 PM

Monday, January 06, 2003

I finally saw the excellent film, "Bowling for Columbine" by Michael Moore. It was brilliant, as I had heard it would be. While S found the movie very sad, I found it hopeful: the idea that the violence so endemic to the US is learned means that it can be unlearned.

On the way home, S was talking about how various figures in the film blame the disproportionate gun violence in the U.S. on violent entertainment. He then said conclusively, as several of my friends have, that violent entertainment does not cause violence in anyone, anywhere.

I then asked, if it is not harmful, how is it beneficial for children to see thousands of rapes and murders before they reach the age of 6 years old?

Pause. S pointed out that he didn't say violent entertainment was beneficial. He just said it caused no harm.

So if it causes no harm, then it's okay and acceptable for small children to see thousands of rapes and murders, right? There's some reason for this to be acceptable, right?


Several of my friends valiantly endorse the availability of violent entertainment in our society to everyone and anyone. But none of them have explained to me why they do so, and of what benefit it is to society. How it benefits me to watch people being beaten, beheaded and abused. How it benefits my six year old niece. How it benefits my parents.

I'm still waiting.


Double Rainbow has a frozen dessert called "Soy Cream." I tried their egg nog flavor last night, which is completely vegan.

It is delicious. It feels like ice cream, but tastes much better. I have learned, again, that the part of egg nog I like is not the egg, and not the milk, but the nutmeg. Mmmmm.

posted by Arlene (Beth)11:20 PM

Saturday, January 04, 2003

There was a lovely little article in the most recent issue of Adbusters by Andy Couturier, an essayist currently working on a book about "Inspiring encounters with philosophers, farmers, and artists living rich, simple lives in the deep green mountains [of Japan]." The essay detailed a man who lives on an isolated and lush farm, where he keeps a gardening journal which tracks, to the day, the blooming of his plants. Each year his gardens bloom on exactly the same day, except in the case of a very fierce storm which delayed the bloom for 10 days that year, but which didn't impact their regularity the next.

What an elegant way to observe the world!

But then came this Los Angeles Times Article saying that "Gradual warming over the past century has forced a global movement of animals and plants northward, and it has sped up such perennial spring activities as flowering and egg hatching across the globe." And:
One study shows that animals have shifted northward an average of almost 4 miles per decade. Another shows that animals are migrating, hatching eggs and bearing young an average of five days sooner than they did decades ago, when the average global temperature was 1 degree cooler.

Oh-oh. How long will it take for our solitary mountain gardener's careful charts to wander? He has been observing their current adjustments to the climate. Had he lived 100 years already, his charts would already show the changes. If he lives 100 years total, he will see it, even in his quiet and isolated little farm...

Those damned SUV's touch everyone.
posted by Arlene (Beth)4:08 PM

Oh, one little news snippet before I go, regarding the defunding of layoff reporting, a trick by the current administration to hide their economic failures:
The Bush administration, under fire for its handling of the economy, has quietly killed off a Labor Department program that tracked mass layoffs by U.S. companies....According to the bureau's final monthly report, U.S. employers initiated 2, 150 mass layoffs in November, affecting 240,028 workers. A mass layoff is defined as any firing involving at least 50 people.... Between January and November, 17,799 mass layoffs were recorded and nearly 2 million workers were handed their hats by businesses....

On the other hand, the Labor Department this week released a sweeping study of volunteer work over the past year, reporting that 59 million Americans donated their time and know-how to helping others.

The things a government will do to hide it's blunders and play up fluff, feel-good news!!
posted by Arlene (Beth)3:54 PM

The orchid show was pretty nice, though a bit cramped. My digital camera, stuck at ASA 100, was not as versatile as my film camera, which I usually fill with ASA 400 film for these indoor shows. I'm taking my film camera to the SF orchid show!

Better than the photos this time: lunch at Los Portales in Redwood City, a block or two from the Old Courthouse. Spinach enchiladas! Mmmmm.

And now, back to the important business of doing laundry and reviewing the wonderful Seeds of Change catalog.
posted by Arlene (Beth)3:42 PM

Yippee! It's THE WEEKEND! And since I am biking to work again thanks to merely cold weather (no rain), I'm even sleeping well enough to go do something fun. In this case, I'm going to check out the Peninsula Orchid Society's Orchid Addiction Show and Sale. (I know, you're shocked because it's not food related. But these things happen. And I need something to tide me over until the San Francisco Orchid Society's annual exposition February 20-23rd. Which is, well, WEEKS away.)


I had dreams last night about the dinner I really had here last night, with my cousin and S and another friend. In the dream, my kitchen counter was filled with boxes of convenience foods I don't use: stuffing mixes and soup mixes and cake mixes, some of which aren't even vegetarian. I was really embarrassed, and worried that our guests would fear for the healthfulness of the meal I was serving.


Okay, there is one advantage to the news in review stuff: the rare gems that stand out. Like this story about a carjacker who attempted to hijack a judo team's van. (I've used things like this in stories for comedy's sake, but it's great this actually happened!)

All sorts of great videos (especially of giant cranes going under our bridges) at the temporary retro feature at SF Gate's Hot Shotz.


With all the news about the war on terror and the United States' historical failures to install democracies in various interventions in other governments, it was interesting to read this discussion of new problems with ally, South Korea:
In recent weeks, South Koreans' attentions have focused on the presence of 37,000 American troops on their soil as a major irritant. South Korean anger was further fueled by an incident last June, when two 14-year-old girls were run over and killed by an American armored vehicle north of Seoul.

The episode unleashed an outpouring of resentment that some experts say dates from the years when a series of military dictators in South Korea, acting with what was perceived as support from Washington, thwarted all efforts at democratization. South Korea did not emerge as a democracy until the late 1980's.

I'd always known that unfriendly governments the US intervened in hadn't fared so well democratically, but this was an ally! No democracy until the LATE 1980s!! (With outcomes for friends like this, I can see true dread from our non-allies!)


Another band I really really like, Ladytron, is coming in concert in March. Yaay!

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:13 AM

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Happy New Year! May 2003 treat you well. Unless you are a hateful warmongering domestic-spying fundamentalist freak, in which case, you're on your own in the well-wishes department.

Since I avoid most television, I've been spared the "2002 in review" specials and speculation. I can think about my life without the false context of celebrity trivia, fashion statements made by irrelevant wealthy folks I don't know, and skewed opinion polls that reflect on the grasping void of commercial American life. I didn't want a Jaguar for Christmas, I didn't dance around the house singing while using toxic corporate cleansing products, and I didn't pat myself on the back for my false ruggedness while pummelling the wildnerness under the wheels of a polluting SUV.

I've been living a real (if periodically unbalanced) life, unfettered (at least directly) by the nonsensical non-values that burden so many others here as they dig themselves deep into debt to own more and more "must-haves" which fail to bring meaning to their lives. I'm still learning things, I'm still studying the world, I'm still interested in how things could be different -- how the world could be ever so much better. There has to be more than what is being sold here as the ideal lifestyle. An 'MTV celebrity crib' does not improve the world, regardless of whose ego is being stroked. Diamonds aren't quite the same as 'forever,' and a rock that outlasts you in the world isn't really that unique, even if a particular one is pretty and worth many months of your salary. A home remodeling project, however satisfying, isn't very meaningful beyond giving you a comfortable place to live and allowing you some creative expression -- it's not world-changing, not bad, but not world news either.

There's more to life than that, and just knowing that makes getting through every day so much better and brighter. I'm not what I drive! I'm not who I sleep with! I'm not what I bought last week!

So here's hoping for an authentic and priceless 2003 of learning and growing for us all
posted by Arlene (Beth)4:54 PM

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