I nearly forgot I had a blog... and to think, just eight months ago, I was going to try to blog everyday and create a blogging empire! Also, holy shit I'm 32!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Posted by Andy at 12:04 AM
Thursday, January 06, 2011
On the first of January, a brief five days ago, I hiked up my britches and decided I would poke and prod on this blog again. I wrote a whole entry, too, in which I resolved to blog every day. Then I remembered that my actual New Year's resolution was to exceed expectations, and the easiest way to do that was to keep expectations low. So I deleted that entry. I didn't want to be one of those people who joins the gym and goes for a week and never goes again.
Friday, January 29, 2010
This happened a few months ago but I am only getting around to documenting it now. Actually it all started a year ago. My roommate Kris and I sat around discussing the crazy things molecular gastronomists do with food. We watched Ferran Adria make his sodium alginate caviar, and we wondered what scientific implement we could make use of to outdo him. A centrifuge was our final answer. Little did we know there are many others already making use of centrifuges but anyway...
After some research, it was discovered that centrifuges could often be found for sale at the University of Washington Surplus Auction. And off we went. (A year later.) We woke up early on a saturday morning and headed down to the auction site. Our information gathering told us that there were about a dozen centrifuges up for auction, a bunch of tiny ones, a slew of tabletop medium sized ones, and the apples of our eyes: two washing machine-sized ultracentrifuges, capable of 22,000 rpms while holding the large capacities we demand! I'd never been to an auction, and I waited patiently for the right lot. When the crier started the auction for the first ultracentrifuge, we put in a bid for $50. then $100. Then $200. And when our opponent went to $400, we let him have it. Next up, the second ultracentrifuge: we put in a bid for $25. Got out bid at $50. We bid $60. Going once, going twice, we win. An ultracentrifuge for $60. What value!
A week later, I was at Bed Bath and Beyond, picking up cleaning supplies. Kris called me to see if I wanted to get lunch. I said, aren't we getting the centrifuge today? He said, are we? I said, sure, no problem. Tell Aaron to rent us a zip truck, and we'll go pick it up. Kris was skeptical. That thing is heavy, I couldn't tip that thing on its edge, he said. I said: there's two of us, no problem, just get the zip truck. We meet and drive over to pick up the 'fuge.
I walk over to the centrifuge and push at it. It doesn't budge; definitely heavier than a washing machine. The guy there gets a forklift and starts moving it to the truck. I say to him, Is there a built-in scale on that forklift? I'm curious how heavy it is. He says, no the forklift doesn't have a built-in scale, but we do have a scale right over there. Actually I'm pretty curious how heavy it is as well. So he drives it over and places it on the scale. 597 pounds. 597 pounds he says. Ah, 597 pounds I say. The forklift seems to struggle as it lifts the centrifuge onto the truck. The man drives away. The centrifuge has castors at the bottom. These castors fall right into the grooves that are on the bed of the truck. As a result, the whole thing slides back and forth on the truck, which will simply not do. We look around to see if we can find anything to create a blockade. We see some wooden planks from part of a different sale, so I steal one and put it in the truck, trying to create some sort of wedge. As Kris is holding another one, the forklift operator returns with a friend. We just wanted to check out how you guys are doing, he says. Kris quickly throws the stolen plank into the driver's seat. Oh you know, we just don't want this thing sliding around. I fiddle with the wooden plank. The guy says, if only you had another one of those, you might be able to do something... The new guy, he says, I'm always curious, people buy these things and we help get them on a truck, but how do they get it off? I don't know, I said. Well good luck, and they walk off. We grab the two planks but are unable to fashion something useful. Kris says, let's drive to the wood shop. I know the guy there, he's smart and might have some ideas. So we drive to the wood shop at one mile an hour, across campus while there are tours being led, dozens of kids running across the street suddenly, and the centrifuge sliding back and forth on the bed of the truck. Every now and again, it bangs against the back window and freaks me out. Finally we get to the wood shop. The wood shop guy comes out. Mr Smart Man has no ideas. He does regale us with a tale of a girl who the week before was getting an anvil out of a truck and somehow managed to strip her right hand of all its skin. He also says: you should be careful with the tailgate, I doubt it can support all that weight when you are unloading it off. Then he walks back into sanctuary of his wood shop. Kris and I look at the great centrifuge. I say we can't possibly drive home like this. Kris agrees. I said, hey try to lift up the edge just a little and I'll slide the wooden planks underneath so that it isn't on its wheels. Kris uses his big muscles and is able to lift the centrifuge up an inch, and I slide the wooden planks in. It seems secure so we get back in the truck. We are circling out of the little parking lot of the wood shop and Kris says what we need are like metal poles or something, so that we can slide the centrifuge down them. We come to a stop sign before getting on the main road that comes out of campus. Kris looks left and right at the traffic, then looks straight and exclaims, "like those metal poles!" And across the street by a dumpster, by some miracle, there are four metal poles propped against a brick building. They are aluminum poles that were probably used for making a fence. We park the car and grab them and throw them into the truck. Then we embark on our three mile trek home. We get stuck behind ridiculous traffic because a draw bridge is raised, and Kris says I don't know what the fuck you're thinking. Why did you possibly think we can get this home? We should have hired movers. I said I don't know, I didn't believe you when you said it was really heavy. We continue to wait for traffic and I am starting to panic. Even with metal poles, there is no plan, and the minutes tick by and we have to return the zip truck in thirty minutes, at 4pm. I say, maybe I should try to extend the reservation on my phone, and amazingly enough, zipcar has a mobile interface that works with my really shitty windows mobile phone. So I extend our reservation for an hour. Finally we maneuver the whole contraption to the street in front of our house, and we get Aaron out of the house. He sees the thing and he starts to laugh, and then he starts to cry, and he says, I don't want that ridiculous thing in our house. The three of us stand around and observe the centrifuge in awe. Aaron flips down the tailgate and says this tailgate can't handle this kind of weight. Kris stands atop it and jumps up and down and we watch it bounce and rattle. If only we could take it off he says. I go over there and fiddle with it and off it goes. Wow, that was easy. Why were we unable to do that before? We all shrug, though we all looked at it and played with it previously to no avail. Well of course it comes off, it makes no sense that it wouldn't. But none of us had touched a truck before so we had no idea. Now what? Aaron says. Well we have these poles... I grab one of the poles and examine it. By some miracle, the diameter of the pole is exactly the same as the thickness of the tailgate, and so the poles fit right into the concave edge of the back of the truck bed. We stuck the four of them in and create a ramp to the ground. Aaron, who has suddenly become a better physicist than me, says, these poles can't support that weight, they will bend and break. And anyway, the second there's weight on them, they're going to shoot out and the whole thing will fall to the floor. We think about it. We have a cooler by our front door that people deposit beer in when we have a party. I grab it. By some miracle, it wedges perfectly right in between the back of the truck and the middle of the poles, supporting the poles while stopped against something solid. I grab the wooden block and put it flush against the bottom of the metal poles on the ground. I stand on top of them. Kris says, are you sure you want to stand there? I say, sure, whatever. The whole thing looks something like this:
__________| || | A| | N| | D|CENTRIFUGE| Y---------------- _truck bed ( ( ` . L(__`_._ `. I----------------| `.P`. N/ \ | | `.O`.| | | | `.L`. __\__/ |______| `.E`. |__| <--- wooden blockwheel cooler
Five months later, the centrifuge is still pushed up against our house covered in tarp. We haven't brought in into our house, nor have we figured out if the thing works or not, nor if we can even turn it on with the plug from our dryer. The centrifuge runs on a 250V 30A current and we've spent $250 to buy a bevy of extension cords and plug converters to attempt to turn it on, but we've yet to do the hacking and soldering necessary. We are not totally lazy, though. We now have two more centrifuges for a grand total of three. The two newer ones are mere 150 pound, non-ultra, desktop models. They spin up and work and we make strange foods.
Posted by Andy at 2:13 PM
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I shaved my head. Immediately previously, I sported a somewhat absurd mohawk for a couple weeks. It turned out I looked nothing like David Beckham, like I'd expected. But now all my hair's gone, and I feel free.
Probably because I routinely spent a lot of money on haircuts, I was constantly being told how nice my hair was. Hair-fellation is undoubtedly the first chapter of stylist training. (Chapter Two: Holding client's hair out with one hand, tilt your head and look at it wonderingly.) But you tell me my hair is nice enough times, and I'll start to believe you. And so I began to feel pretty vain about my hair. I'd been starting to believe this recently and it bothered me. Someone once told me that the only reason girls have hair was to attract guys, and she was right. Well, a few weeks ago, I decided I should try to rid myself of my vanity, even if only temporarily. And so I waffled for a little bit, and then went for it. The same way you do when you are about to purchase a plane ticket somewhere far away and finally click the purchase button.
And now all my hair's gone, and I feel free. What a feeling. Shower times have been minimized. Hats, caps, and helmets pose no second thoughts. I lost two pounds. I can now jump as high and with the same aerodynamic-athleticism as Michael Jordan. Why just yesterday, I even spoke to a bald man with deeper human understanding and mutual respect.
Let me tell you: now that I've gotten rid of all my vanity, I feel pretty damn good about myself.
Posted by Andy at 2:59 PM
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
When I was in Japan, I wanted to go to Kobe to have some Kobe beef, that famed cut of meat supposedly pampered from birth with massages, beer, and an altogether to-be-envied lifestyle. And sure, Kobe had Kobe beef; where else would I find it? But the Japanese wonder what the big deal is. Why would I come to Japan to have Kobe beef? What I really want is Matsuzaka beef. Matsuzaka beef?, I ask. Once you have Matsuzaka beef, I was told, you won't be happy with any other beef.
So my sister asks around and finds a steak restaurant that serves Matsuzaka beef and we head over. We sit down and are given the hot wet towels and glasses of water. We look at the menu. We ask the waitress, is this all Matsuzaka beef? Oh no, no, no. These are Matsuzaka beef. She points at a couple of dishes. 18000 Yen. ~180 dollars. And that's for a Japanese serving. Not an American-style pound. So we apologize, and get up, and leave in embarrassment. When we get outside, my sister realized she forgot her cell phone in her haste. She has to go back in to retrieve it...
And Matsuzaka beef remains a mystery.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I've been developing a system of analogies between different kinds of tomatoes and girls. It's good because tomato is already slang for a girl, so I'm just trying to make things more specific.
There's the average meaty Beefsteak, bosomy but bland.
The BrandyWine, a large lush that's a lot of mindless fun.
BigBoy the lesbian.
The UglyRipe, of course, attempting to make up for homeliness with abundant personality and flavor.
San Marzano, slender and small, and very saucy.
Romas, with their model looks and boring banter, not good for having babies with considering their lack of hips and lack of seeds.
The Cherry, very petite and packed full of cuteness.
The Grape, cherry's twin sister, cares more about glamour, the Ashley to the cherry's Mary-Kate.
Posted by Andy at 10:03 AM
Monday, May 11, 2009
I went to Japan to visit my sister a month and a half ago, but I've been too lazy to post pictures or write anything about it.
In some ways, Japan didn't seem all the strange. I spent two weeks in Osaka and a week in Tokyo; the third most and the most populous cities of Japan, and big cities are all basically similar: restaurants and people everywhere, tall buildings, honking grid-locked cars, the rumbling of mass transit, etc. Tokyo made New York look pretty damn small in comparison, and both made Seattle look like a rural village. In fact, there was this one train station in Japan, Shinjuku station, that my sister and I kept getting lost in, that has more than 200 exits and accommodates some THREE AND A HALF MILLION passengers per day. That is like six times the population of Seattle. Seattle doesn't even have a train system. That is so ridiculous. Train stations, by the way, are like the hubs of Japan. There are restaurants, department stores, bakeries, bars, supermarket, and more. And despite all this, it is by no means disorderly. The trains are always punctual to the minute (except when someone is committing suicide by jumping onto the tracks), and people actually line up on the platform to facilitate ingress and egress. There isn't, nor is there any need for, "please stand clear of the closing doors." It is common sense.
(People are lined up!)
Other common sense things: They don't have a blinking "don't walk" sign. They have a blinking "walk" sign. As in: WALK FASTER!!!
But even though cities are pretty much all the same, Japan is in many ways the strangest place I've ever been. The people there actually seem to have a different basical fundamental human motivation. I also visited my sister in the Caribbean and while the island topography, climate, biological growths and other paraphernalia were exotic and different, it never seemed to me that the people were that different. That is to say, people are fundamentally selfish. I don't mean that in a bad way, but people are always looking out for themselves. When you go to New York or Hong Kong or Malaysia, people are trying to sell you something and rip you off. But not in Japan. There is no such thing as a high-pressure sales person. If you ask someone for directions on the street, there's a good chance they'll walk you all the way there. It is pretty remarkable. If my sister were to say something like "it's so strange. I just moved into a new apartment and there's no microwave oven in it" in her office, a week later, a microwave will show up on her desk and a co-worker will say something like: "oh it's no trouble, I asked around and someone had an extra one lying around" or "oh we all chipped in and got it for you." It's a very gift-giving and hyper-thoughtful culture. And it really annoys my sister when other JETs (Japan Exchange and Teaching) teachers abuse this and say: "Boy, the Japanese are so stupid. You can get them to do anything for you." But see? That's just the instinct and motivation of most people; to take advantage of situations if possible.
Another strange thing I noticed: All the girls wear really really short skirts. (This was easy to notice.) My sister tells me it is actually considered patriotic to wear short skirts. So even though someone here wore a skirt like that, they would be considered slutty, since everyone is wearing skirts like that, it isn't slutty at all.
There is also something very ritual-based about their culture and interactions between people. It almost seems like a game. One example my sister described:
An American JET and his Japanese girlfriend walk past a florist. The girlfriend says: "Why don't you ever buy me flowers?" She continues: "You should buy me some flowers." And finally says: "You should buy me those flowers," pointing to a particular bouquet. The American buys her the flowers. and she is overjoyed. "They are so beautiful!!! You're so nice!!!!!!!!"
I can imagine the same interaction in America ending like this: "No, I don't want them, anymore. I shouldn't have to tell you to get me flowers." etc.
(By the way, this reminds me of a great phrase in Japanese. It refers to Japanese women over 30, who are of course absolutely over-the-hill and thus doomed to spinsterhood or something. The Japanese girlfriend was nearing this milestone and was very happy the American came along to save her from becoming one. I don't actually know the phrase in Japanese, but it translates roughly to "leftover birthday cake". Leftover birthday cake? I ask, thinking I might be misunderstanding. Leftover birthday cake. Nobody wants leftover birthday cake. It is true, I couldn't help but agree.)
So in Japan, everyone does what they're supposed to, and everyone's happy. Here is another example. My sister and I eat at a small restaurant. The owner really really likes us. His cute daughter, who was our waitress and, with some difficulty, tried to translate the stuff we were eating, also really really likes us and says near the end of the evening: "From today on, I will try to learn more English." (My god! I am so loved in Japan. Or maybe it's just my sister. But I swear, if I asked if i could marry his daughter, he would've said yes.) But anyway, he gives us all this free food and dessert because he likes us. Then as we're near the end of the meal, he meanders out sort of looking the other way, and my sister's face lights up and says: "aha! I know!" and she picks up the business card and calls the chef over by his name, and thanks him for the food. And he says "it's no problem, it's no problem!" and then he goes back into the kitchen. So he comes out fishing for a compliment. But, my sister informs me, that is only partly true. He came out so we could thank him, but that is because it would be rude of him to stay in the back and make it difficult for us to thank him. Because OF COURSE we're going to thank him. If we didn't thank him, however, that would've made it awkward for everyone because: A) we were SUPPOSED to thank him. and B) He looks rude for coming out expecting us to thank him.
(Cathy with the restaurant owner.)
So in Japan, you're should just learn the rituals and play the game, because then everyone is happy. And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Because even if the compliment is premeditated, it is still nice to hear.
So yes. Japan was a really interesting trip, though I'm not sure I'd want to live there. Cathy is great. I really miss her.
(Cathy and me going to the Ghibli Museum.)
Posted by Andy at 12:50 AM
Friday, May 08, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
In a moment of wannabe rock stardom, I bought a pair of black skinny jeans. They're not even the skinniest hipster skinny jeans, but damn these things are ridiculous: I traded in my boxers for boxer briefs; I tug patiently to get them over my runners quads and calves; I actually think I'm getting ingrown hairs because of how tight they are.
Posted by Andy at 12:11 AM
Monday, April 27, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Dick Cheney insists, with vague references to classified documents, that "enhanced interrogation techniques" work. But he won't be more specific. Perhaps we can use some of these enhanced interrogation techniques to get the man to speak up and say what we want him to.
Posted by Andy at 4:16 PM
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
I had decided about a month ago that I would no longer be the one initiating all the meet ups and hanging outs in any of my friendships. That is, I didn't want to hang out with anyone that didn't really want to hang out with me, I didn't want to feel like I was twisting anyone's arm just to be my friend.
So I've had a lot of time on my hands lately, and in this time I've finished building my speakers, gotten hit by a car, bought two gallons of salsa in one trip, painted and rethought my room, amassed some frightening credit card debt by buying a lot of stuff including a trip to Japan, learned that my long-lost older half-sister is alive though not especially well, observed daylight savings (took one hour), cooked a lot of meals (with some success), went to a punk rock wedding, and gained some weight. So apparently not quite enough time to update this blog, but that's because I'm pretty lazy.
Posted by Andy at 4:15 PM
What is a bonus, and how can it be in a contract? Andy, we're going to pay you $20,000 for the work you do and then we're definitely going to give you a bonus of $10,000,000. How is that different from: Andy, we're going to pay you $10,020,000 for the work you do?
I am going to japan on friday. woohoo.
Posted by Andy at 11:17 AM
Monday, February 16, 2009
Someone was telling me how horrendous I am on the telephone. I know I am incredibly ineffectual, and I hate talking on it, and I am certainly out of practice, but all this time, I figured I was just being curt. Turns out, I have no technique.
Posted by Andy at 4:28 PM