Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bee informed

There is a fascinating round-table Q&A piece in Salon.com today about the honeybee disappearance. Those interviewed are: the leader of the USDA honeybee lab, a member of the Honeybee Research Facility at UC Davis, an amateur bee keeper who works at NASA Goddard and finally, a biologist and beekeeper who lives in PA. Topics covered include the shortened life expectancy of "winter" bees, genetically engineered crops/land use/industrial agriculture and malnutrition, to name a few.

I'll be talking more about industrial agriculture sometime in July, so stay tuned! But in the meantime, you can read this article to learn about how one of the most likely contributors to the bees' demise is us.

Monday, May 28, 2007

"Governments and fashions come and go but Jane Eyre is for all time."

Last night I inhaled The Eyre Affair. This is actually the second Jasper Fforde book I've read, the first being The Big Over Easy. I plodded through Big, barely able to read it in a timely manner. It's not that Big wasn't amusing, it just didn't capture my imagination. Not so with The Eyre Affair.

What a wonderful idea: an alternate universe where art and literature are the most prominent aspects of culture, where Baconians go door to door proselytizing on the authorship of Shakespeare's works, and where characters have names like Jack Schitt. There is a theater that has only performed Richard III for the past 15 years, and which casts its actors from the audience 30 minutes before the performance begins, possible only because of the audience's familiarity with the work.

Yes, the book was funny and it was entertaining, but I think what really attracted me was the idea of what it would be like to live in a world of bibliophiles. I'm looking forward to reading the next books in the series.

Other books I read this weekend:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A farm, two tots and some really good Korean food

Wow, it's been a full day! We started off the morning going to a local farm with these two Tots (and their respective parents, of course):

We'll call them Tot #1 and Tot #2. Sure, they aren't standing very close together in this picture, but they were just getting reacquainted. There were lots of animals for them to meet. Goats,

and, my personal favorite, baby sheep:

But what really captured the heart of Tot #1 was the tractor. This is what happened when the tractor drove away:

You wouldn't believe how long Tot #1 chased that tractor down the road! After a nice picnic lunch it was time for Book Group. (In case anyone is wondering why there aren't more pictures of Tot #2: he wouldn't stay still long enough to get more than a colorful blur moving across the frame. He ran from the goats to the sheep to the cows to the horses to the pigs to the chickens...all before I had taken my 150 pictures of the lambs. Boy can that kid move!)

E baked a wonderful basil pound cake (yes, E, it tasted wonderful despite it's poor appearance) and we chatted until dinner, at which time we decided to rustle up the spouses/significant others for a meal at THE BEST Korean BBQ place I've found in the area.

Despite the fact that this restaurant is one of my favorites around here, we only get out to it about twice a year. But the wait staff still seem to know who we are and what we like to order! That's what I call service. The food was amazing, per usual, and E was going to take pictures and document the meal for her blog, but it was impossible *not* to eat once the food started coming off the grill, and all she managed to take were a few pictures of empty dishes stacked all over the table. Stay tuned for those pictures here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I heart Joss

Click here to read Joss Whedon's wonderful rant against Dua Khalil Aswad's death by stoning, and misogynism in general.

Reason #2 to give thanks for Joss: Buffy Season 8 comic #4 comes out June 6th.

Talk about your mixed metaphors

Here is a snippet of a conversation I had with E today. We were discussing the donuts my brother makes every year:

The Bibliophile: You're more than welcome [to the 2008 donutravaganza]
E: Yes! I didn't think it would be that easy to steal an invite.
The Bibliophile: We gave you one last year!
E: I know, but you never want to assume. Two donuts in the hand is worth three in the bush. Don't count your pastries before they're hatched.

What I want to know is, where can I get my hands on this so-called donut bush and these pastry-laying birds?!

And don't worry, come December I will dedicate an entire post to these donuts of which we were speaking. They're light, tasty and impossible to stop eating!

Just look at all that tasty perfection! Yummm.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Le Sigh

I just finished watching the "Season Finale" (why must the CW taunt me like that? If the show's been canceled, call these episodes what they are: the Series Finale) of Veronica Mars. It ended like any other episode and certainly didn't seem like Rob Thomas knew the show would be canceled. Completely disorienting.

And in other sad news, Lloyd Alexander died last Thursday. Looks like there will be one more of his books published this summer:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My book group is a little dorky

Ok, fine. It's just me.

You see, once upon a time E and I were the only two members of our book group, but then C wanted to join us. Since we can't just have members joining all willy-nilly, I took it upon myself to write down some bylaws for the book group just to, you know, keep us on track (there must be order!). My family insists this is riotously funny, if not totally absurd, and has insisted that I post them. So here they are.

Article I: Name

This collection of individuals shall be known as The Book Group.

Article II: Statement of Purpose

The Book Group will serve as an excuse for members to get together, read books and eat good food at meetings.

Article III: Membership

WHEREAS, the Book Group does contain two charter members; and
WHEREAS, the charter members may be inclined to accept applications for membership; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, all individuals applying for membership must attend one meeting as scheduled by all parties involved; and
RESOLVED, all individuals applying for membership must bring one baked good to said meeting.

Article IV: Meetings

WHEREAS, the Book Group does meet no less than once per month;
now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, the members must take turns hosting meetings.

Shouldn't all book groups have bylaws? Protect the innocent and whatnot? Although it looks like our rule that no more than every third book be considered "Young Adult" was never entered in, and can therefore be violated!* Mua ha ha ha...

*Actually, we have already violated this rule as The White Darkness is our book for May and Harry Potter is our book for June!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Check it out. I found my bee costume (ok, I wanted to post the picture in this entry, but I can't. Damn copyrights! You'll have to make due with "Bee on Lavender")! And it's way less sketchy than some of the suggestions posted by Anonymous in the comments, which is an added bonus if you ask me. Maybe Jerry Seinfeld will loan it to me once he's done promoting his new movie!

How perfect is that costume?! I think the sheer size of it will even give me some much needed protection against any of my little bee cousins I may anger in the process of saving the avocados. I've potentially taken care of one of my Necessary Supplies for Operation Hand Pollination!



Apparently they've gone and done it -- Veronica Mars is canceled. ARGH!
And did you see the drivel they're replacing it with? How is it that Pussycat Dolls is coming back? There's really only one thing to do at a time like this: watch last night's Daily Show. And then possibly start in on this:

Oh, and check out my friend's letter to the network here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Letter to my upstairs neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

I always thought our apartments were well sound-proofed. Not once did I hear your predecessors walking around upstairs, nor did I ever hear their television or their baby crying. But you moved in and that all changed.

You bought a new sound system a few months ago (oh black day, darkest day, and damn you, UPS, for delivering such a thing!). Ever since I have been welcomed home every evening to, what I can only imagine to be, the same exact movie. Either that, or you're obsessed with sounds of the apocalypse. It's true, you do mix it up now and again with extremely loud music, but for the most part I feel like I'm sitting on a porch in Oklahoma, listening to the thunder as it rolls in. Or possibly an earthquake. I can sit here practically conducting the next low rumble. "And cue the left speaker...and...REAR SPEAKER! Lightly, lightly now..."

Why why why why why?!
wiseacre photo

Just one night, please! One quiet night! That's all I ask for. And for you to get your speakers up off the floor. Oh, and for you to once -- just once! -- take care of the newspapers. And possibly start using that green box we like to call a recycling bin. That is all.

The Bibliophile

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another one bites the dust

As Cebu once said, "boo-hoo moo moo, boo-hoo moo moo." Gilmore Girls has officially been relegated (registration or 30 sec ad required) to my biennial DVD-watching rotation, along with Buffy and Alias. Here's hoping Veronica Mars isn't canceled this season as well....

As for what I thought of the finale? Meh, mixed bag. There were some great scenes (the entire town coming upon L&R in the square while carrying tables, and then running away; Kirk's sash; etc.) and some real eye-rollers (L's dad suddenly feels the need to tell her how exceptional she is? Now? Really? It would be sweet if it didn't feel so contrived and this-is-our-last-chance-for-a-sweet-moment-between-daughter-and-parents-use it!!!!). Without Dan and Amy running things it definitely felt like time to end the show, but I still feel sad. What did you guys think (if there are other GG watchers out there)?

And on to (hopefully) more interesting matters: I finally finished Alias Grace this evening. I've been in a serious reading funk lately. It was what, about 10 days ago that I started reading this book? Since when does it take me 10 days to finish a book? And it's not that the book wasn't good, it was. I think I'm starting to get into historical fiction more. I just get into these funks from time to time: I'll read fiendishly for a few weeks and then not really at all for a couple more.

Now, what will I read next....Any suggestions?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

"Avocado buds + Barry White + Moi = sustainability of a species" or, "The Ramblings of an Insane Person"

I'm quite concerned about the bee crisis. Not because I eat so much fruit or have a particular love for honey (neither of these is the case, though E loves both), but because I am obsessed with avocado. LOVE IT. Is there a better fruit? It's good with everything: shrimp and rice and meat and cheese and -- well, clearly not all of these things at the same time.

I was discussing this with my friend T and told her that I was willing to hand-pollinate the avocado trees if it became necessary. She laughed at me and said, "what are you going to do, blast some Barry White and skip through the orchard?" Yes, T, I will do whatever it takes to ensure I have all the avocado I'll need over the next few years.

So what would hand-pollinating these trees actually entail? E's challenged me to do some digging and really find out.

1. Clearly I need plane tickets to where the avocado trees live. According to Wikipedia, avocados can only be grown in the following places: Spain, Israel, South Africa, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, US (California, Florida, Hawaii), The Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico and Central America. While most of these countries are on my To Visit List, time and money are of the essence. Therefore, I will choose one place inside the US and one place overseas to visit (best not to put all one's pollen in one basket). I will choose California (accessibility) and Malaysia (because I love the food, natch).
  • One round-trip ticket to CA: $362
  • One round-trip ticket to Malaysia: $3,285.01
Excellent. Savings depleted. It's all for the greater good, though!

2. I must assemble a list of necessary supplies. We'll just pretend I don't need anything special for travel to South East Asia for simplicity's sake (who has time to think about inoculations? And visas? Pheh.).
  • Bee Suit
  • Barry White CD(s) -- any suggestions?
  • Sun hat and sunscreen
  • Guac ingredients (we must show the avocado trees the wonders that await its success)
  • Comfortable shoes for skipping
3. I need to work out an SOP for pollination. My understanding is that bees fly up to a flower in order to drink its nectar, and the pollen sticks to its head, legs and little bee face in the process. The answer is clear to me: I must develop a Bee Suit that is sticky enough to trap pollen, but that is light enough and breathes enough to keep me from overheating in Southern California and Malaysia. Once this is done, I will simply climb the avocado trees, brush past as many leaves and buds as possible and repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

Avocado tree flower by marjesb14

Listen, people. Let me know if I forgot anything (other than my sanity, that is). Possibly you have other music suggestions? Or are a scientist and have come up with a better way of saving the nation's agriculture? Or have I skipped a vital step?

Friday, May 11, 2007

And my daemon is...

I'm really excited about The Golden Compass coming out in theaters this winter. I'm not usually impressed by movie adaptations of my favorite books, but I think this one could be good. Not only does this give me an excuse to reread His Dark Materials (sorry hundreds of other books on my To Read list), I'll get to watch Daniel Craig on the big screen. Yum.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Amazing things in the backyard

I came home from work this evening to the sound of a crow cawing away like there was no tomorrow. Having learned to interpret Bird from watching the BBC's Life of Birds, I knew there was some large predator nearby. But what? And then I saw it: a red-tailed hawk! The crow was leaping and cawing all around the hawk trying to drive it away, but the hawk was just sitting there as calm as anything. I tried to get a picture of it through the window, but was met with only a modicum of success. Sorry for the horrible picture quality, folks, but when I tried to creep outside for an unobstructed shot, it flew away (you can thank me later, other birds):

My first thoughts once I started to get over my excitement, were for another bird family (who knew we had crow eggs/babies in the backyard? I'll have to try and track down that nest tomorrow.) we found over the weekend acting skittish and peculiar. Here's mom:

And here's dad:It turns out they have a nest with three eggs in a bush about two feet off the ground, right next to the house. That's right, three eggs! The incubation period is 11-13 days, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we have some baby birds on hand sometime next week. I'm hoping to get the canonical wide-mouthed baby bird shot, but I doubt Mom and Dad will let me get close enough.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Oh boy do I wish I were at the Providence, RI zoo this past Saturday! Apparently a giraffe gave birth right in front of visitors. How neat is that?! Check out the story and some cute pictures here:

Sunday, May 6, 2007

"My book report" or, "how a book group can save you loads of money."

A little over 6 months ago, E and I started a book group. Yes, we decided that the two of us could be considered a "group." A book "couple" just didn't seem right, and in any case, three months later C joined. We take turns choosing books and hosting monthly meetings, but spend way more time eating than discussing our book of the month.

C chose this month's book, The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. The plot on a shoe-string: Symone is a fourteen year old girl obsessed with Antarctica. Her mentally unstable uncle is equally obsessed, but for reasons she only discovers when he takes her there on a surprise trip. The best, most riveting part of the story details their journey towards the center of the continent. Without giving away any more of the plot, McCaughrean does a wonderful job using the geography and the dangers of Antarctica to her advantage.

I loved the book and was completely drawn into the story and into Symone's character. However, McCaughrean's mind-boggling description of her trek was enough to make me want to curl up in my bed with a nice, warm blanket and enjoy Antarctica the way it was intended: BBC nature videos. Who knew a $13 Amazon.com purchase could cure me (likely only temporarily) of any desire to visit Antarctica, thus saving me at least $15,000 in the process?

For your reading pleasure, here is a list of all prior books the group has read:
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See
The History of Love, Nicole Krauss
The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards
The Princess Bride, William Goldman
The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith
Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot..., Particia C. Wrede
Julie and Julia, Julie Powell
Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky

What I'm reading now:

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Must see

I know this video has been out in the ether for a while now, but if you haven't seen it, please:

Bad teeth, crazy eyes. Glamor shots. I mean my god, people, who wouldn't want an alpaca?! These babies could sell anything.

"The first one is always dumb," or things my friend E tells me to get me to post

Confession: I have an eensy weensy book addiction. Ok, fine. It's a huge book addiction, but I can stop anytime I want. Really. I just don't want to put my personal UPS delivery man or my local bookstore out of work. See? It's all for the greater good.

I dream of one day having a gorgeous library that'll look something like this. Or any one of these (hot library smut indeed!). A girl can dream, can't she? I love my current library, despite how little it resembles any of the above. I've tucked most of my books away into the butler's pantry in my apartment, and I have to walk through it to get to my kitchen. The shelves are very long and extremely sturdy, and are protected by big sliding glass doors. I can't think of a better use for the space!

What I'm reading now:

Stay tuned.