Monday, December 31, 2007

omar, circa grade 1

while digging through old boxes at my parents' home, i found this classic depiction of the four season by your's truly, circa grade 1. notice my lack of drawing talent. and what exactly is fall? a green circle? notice that the missing season, summer, is really "yellow" to me.

i've also interpreted what i meant in the final paragraph. it says: "i like fall because i can jop in the leaves" where "jop" i believe equals "jump." anyway, a fun stroll down memory lane.
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

i sewed on a button

woohoo i sewed on a button. i haven't sewn in a very long time, mainly because (1) it was so traumatic when i took home ec back in grade school and (2) i haven't really had the need. yes, in grades 6-8, i took unified arts, a class divided into 3 sections: woodworking, arts and crafts, and home economics. i loved woodworking and arts and crafts (well, "love" might be a strong word for arts and crafts) but i loathed home economics. the teacher, ms. donovan, had some pretty strange rules, like no salt *AT ALL* in any dish. if the recipe called for salt, you'd skip it. we produced some bland, bland dishes.

the home ec final sewing project required us to sew a complicated pattern and create something wonderful. being into basketball at the time, i chose to sew a plush basketball. it was supposed to turn out something like this:

but instead it turned out looking more like a deformed pumpkin. i think ms donovan, with her sense of humor, told me that it was the most original plush basketball she had ever seen. i tried to find it in my parents' house so i could share with you, dear reader. but alas, it seems to have bounced off (or maybe it was mistakenly carved).

ANYWAY, sewing. so i needed to sew a button on a jacket. what did i do? i went to my good friend youtube and found this video:

it was exactly what i needed. my button is back in service.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Audio of "This Is Just to Say"

for those of you that like to hear poetry, here's "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams (posted previously), read by the author himself.

Friday, December 21, 2007

sick but with poetry

i am sick. but i have poetry. i've been reading a new anthology i purchased recently. many of the poems have really moved me, but i'll start out with some humor:

This Is Just to Say, by William Carlos Williams (1934)

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

and in the same anthology the editor posts a poem in response:

Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams, by Kenneth Koch (1962)

I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.

We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the next ten years.
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

british hoodlums, 1892

search for british hoodlum on google and look at the first result (i know this result will change.. but here's how it is circa dec 18,2007). what rubbish! the nytimes' historic content is jumping to the top, riding the nytimes pagerank, but it's quite irrelevant.

that being said, the result, an article from 1892 on cheerful british hoodlums savagely beating innocent moslem's in liverpool is an interesting, if sad, historic read. i never really thought about the muslim population in england in the 19th century. that must've been tough (well, the article shows that clearly it was). anyway, here's one quote:
The matter has been reported to the police authorities here and also to the Ottoman Embassy in London. The representatives of the latter have expressed great indignation that the unoffending Moslems in Liverpool should be subjected to such savagery, and it is hoped that the brutal fellows who have perpetrated these outrages will be apprehended and meet with the punishment they so richly deserve.
woo. that's a sentence! you'll not see something like that in today's new york times.

Monday, December 17, 2007

if you drink only one beer this winter..

have it be the anderson valley winer solstice. it is like drinking a creamy cheese, in a good way. the bitterness is very mild, which is how i like it. we found this brew at toranado's, but you can buy it at bevmo.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

do what you want. ask why later. or don't

as i told grant: "ok i'm just going to post my lame meta post that's me reflecting on the post i won't post." so here:

do you ever destroy things when you start to think why?

i had written this post on a fun memory i have about dancing. pure fun, a fond thing to look back to..

but then i dig and dig and dig and things pop out and suddenly i'm like, wait, maybe this memory isn't so perfect. stop asking why omar, just enjoy....?

and i do the same thing with things i plan to do.. "so why do you want to do this event omar? what if X, what if Y, what if ..?"

dear god if i could just switch that off, occasionally (and no, don't tell me to drink, that's not what i'm saying!) what fun it might be. oh but look i'm questioning already bah bah bah

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ridiculous photos

i had to give a presentation recently, and we were told to dress to impress. so i put on a sweater with horizontal stripes that widened me out, and put that on top of a pretty yellow dress shirt. then i looked ridiculous for some photos:

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Monday, December 10, 2007

the power of a scent

i cannot get enough of this book, my name is red (see my previous post). in the chapter i just read a gossip-monger discusses the finer points of interpreting a letter between former lovers that, at least in written form, suggests the man should stop visiting the woman's father's home (she writes "It'd be best if you stopped coming to our house completely.")

the gossip-monger, illiterate but attuned to social ways, then discusses the finer analysis of letters. she writes many points, but here is the one that stuck with me:

Furthermore, the smell of the letter confirms [the love letter] interpretation. The fragrance was faint enough to be ambiguous -- did she intentionally perfume the letter?--yet alluring enough to fire readers' curiosity--is this the aroma of attar or the smell of her hand? And a fragrance, which was enough to enrapture the poor man who read the letter to me, will surely have the same effect on Black [the former lover].
many years ago (again i excavate, deep into my memories) a friend gave me a book that she had spilled COPIOUS amounts of perfume on. she apologized profusely. but what a treat to return to that book months and years after and still have the smell and associated memories. my brain is a smell-memory powerhouse. i remember how disappointed i was when perhaps 7 years after the perfume spill the book had finally no trace of the scent. sometimes i smell the scent again, when i wander, and it always puts me right back to those playful days.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

imagination, the beautiful danger

many, many years ago i had a crush. oh to have a crush. to imagine the other, so perfect and wonderful. sometimes i think i should really love my imagination more than anything or anyone, because it can play such tricks with me, and i do love a good trick. in this case, i met this person again, years after the crush had faded, and all i could wonder was "what were you thinking, imaginative omar?" likely this has happened to you too!

but at the time, what a soothing balm. i remember a crush once got me through a boring, lazy summer at the cottage (along with drivel about elves by terry brooks). i'm coming around to the feeling that a crush, or strange inflation, is a carrot my imagination dangles in front of me, and i leap and grab and almost have my arms around the crush, to crush its foolishness, when my imaginations pulls up, and i fall back into the water, to come around for a yet higher leap, thrashing and looking increasingly comical, a fish out of water. so then, imagination, to what end do you employ this carrot?

orhan pamuk, a wonderful writer, gives me a hint in his book "my name is red":
[Shekure's face] was thin, though her chin was longer than what I remembered. So, then the mouth of my beloved was surely smaller and narrower than I imagined it to be. For a dozen years, as I ventured from city to city, I'd widened Shekure's mouth out of desire and had imagined her lips to be more pert, fleshy and irresistible, like a large, shiny cherry.

Had I taken Shekure's portrait with me, rendered in the style of the Venetian masters, I wouldn't have felt such loss during my long travels when I could scarcely remember my beloved, whose face I'd left somewhere behind me. For if a lover's face survives emblazoned on your heart, the world is still your home.

here is a graph giving my own interpretation of this passage (using the google charts API!):

the red X denotes the sweet spot. that's where you want to let reality take over. in the novel, perhaps that's when the character needed a portrait, and not his imagination. the odd thing is that a portrait, if sufficiently real, can halt a person, in the viewer's eyes, and then be its own bag of worms.

ok. of course i'm being a bit facetious with the graph. i just wish i had a better check on my imagination and its wily ways. you think i should be able to control it -- but you don't know it personally, now do you?

ps my friend lara has a great post on crushes that you keep in your back pocket. check it out, though i warn you that the color scheme is not for the faint-hearted.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

driving tired

yesterday was the google holiday party. it was actually decently sized, not like oversize-06, and i ran into a number of people i knew and hadn't seen in some time. that was nice.

but. i was also the designated driver back up to san francisco. that was just plain scary for the last 5 minutes or so. i was far too tired. i told myself i would never drive when i'm that tired but i did, which was pretty dumb. it's that tiredness where you're dozing off for just a few moments. but those few moments can be so dangerous. luckily it was only right at the end-- i slapped myself a few times, and continued on.

when i drove to montreal a few times the same thing would happen to me near the end. what complete torture. when that started, i went on red bull, and i will swear by that stuff for distance driving. i don't drink energy drinks otherwise.. i don't want to become immune to their powers. i remember my mind going a mile a minute and my pulse racing. hmm, that doesn't sound healthy, but i made it to montreal, in the rain and snow and drudgery of fall and winter.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

a good laugh

gosh my posts lately have been too serious. to lighten the mood: i'm doing some work on climate change response on the berkeley campus. this new yorker cartoon made me smile:

Monday, December 03, 2007

locked-in syndrome

i am a somewhat claustrophobic person. plus i've been a bit distressed by recent developments in my life. while riding on the bart, these two things caught up with me quite alarmingly. i almost threw up and had to get off the subway for fear of being enclosed in the car. what prompted this was the following review, from a recent issue of the new yorker:

[The Julian Schnabel’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”] is about an unlucky man—Jean-Dominique Bauby, the real-life editor of French Elle, who, in 1995, at the age of forty-three, suffered a massive stroke. Lying speechless and outraged in a hospital near Calais, a victim of “locked-in syndrome,” Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) was restored to full mental clarity but could move nothing but his left eye. Yet Schnabel’s movie, based on the calm and exquisite little book that Bauby wrote in the hospital, is a gloriously unlocked experience, with some of the freest and most creative uses of the camera and some of the most daring, cruel, and heartbreaking emotional explorations that have appeared in recent movies.

At first, we see only what Bauby sees—a blur of faces floating into view in fearsome closeup, like deep-sea monsters. Consciousness arrives: the blurs solidify into clear images of doctors and nurses and the surprisingly beautiful d├ęcor of Bauby’s cell—a turquoise-colored hospital room, with a curtain flapping in the breeze. Bauby’s Cyclopean gaze swings wildly from one place to another, and visitors, embarrassed and grief-stricken, pass in and out of his vision, which operates as a kind of microscope peering into the soul of whoever comes into its view. The doctors offer diagnoses and reassurances; Bauby is caressed, shoved, lifted, held, deposited, and washed with hands both rough and gentle, and, through all this, we hear his thoughts on the soundtrack—baffled and angry at first, then bitter (he faintly enjoys the black comedy of his situation), and, finally, soulful and eloquent. Ronald Harwood, adapting the text, has made Bauby’s complex internal life fully expressive, and Schnabel fleshes out brief descriptions of therapists and visitors into major psychological portraits. The movie, which was shot by the great Janusz Kaminski (Spielberg’s cinematographer), more than fulfills the promise of the sultry early scenes in Schnabel’s previous picture, “Before Night Falls.” Bauby’s book is concise and lyrical; the film is expansive and sensual, pungent and funny—a much larger experience. The impossible subject has yielded a feast of moviemaking.

and on it goes. find the whole article here. hopefully it doesn't have such a strong impact on you (luckily i doubt you'll be reading this inside a subway car in a dark station). i still haven't decided on whether i'll see the movie or not.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

egocentric + other

last night, when i was all down on the bad stuff cropping up as the evening wore on, i decided to put together some of my favorites photos of.. me! somehow being self-focused was very calming. so i put together this slideshow of egocentric + other. meaning not just me. anyway i got a smile from this.

Monday, November 19, 2007

bike seat stolen, frustration mounting

sigh. i was looking forward to riding my bike, i step up to it, and there's no seat!

now, i should've expected this would happen, but i'm new to city biking. i had been parking my bike in a visible place near the bart, and not in the bart, as when i got to 24th and mission in the morning all the spots inside were usually full. and i hate taking my bike to berkeley.

but today my luck ran out. seat gone.

on the plus side, a wonderfully nice guy came outside, noticed that my seat was gone, and started talking to me about my loss, and what i can do in the future. namely, he showed me his pike, and the pinhead components he uses to lock all the bike parts that are attached to your frame. pinhead locks, for instance, attach your seat to your frame with a mechanism that has only 1 key, and cannot be readily removed. learn more here.

so tomorrow (or someday soon) i'm going to go and get a new seat and get pinhead components to secure it to my frame. woo!

ps i was going to include a picture of sad omar with his seatless bike i just learned that my camera's battery is dead. the night gets better and better!

pps it just did! i went to load picasa so i could find a stock 'omar sad' image (i'm loaded with those) and i got the error "The application failed to initialize properly. (0xc0000005). Click on OK to terminate the application." argh!

ppps: UPDATE this was not in the original post, but i had to add it. i was about to go to bed when someone i've invested with messaged me to tell me about a potentially large, difficult issue with the business. you know what they say: when it rains, it pores. good night!

i hate capital one (but not enough to call)

capital one is doing this ingeniously fiendish thing: they upgraded my card recently to some new rewards card and sent me lots of information about the card, in the mail. but now they are calling me to tell me about it.

imagine getting such a call from a real person. you'd be pretty pissed. but, they don't use a real person, they use an automated voice. if you're interested, you can press numbers and learn more and likely finally end up at a person. but who wants to wait when all you want to do is scream at them and tell them not to do this?

so instead, i just hang up. angry. but not as angry as if it were a human. and i think i heard more than i would've heard had it been a human (if it were a human i'd just get really angry and stop listening).

so good work capital one. bastards.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

sadness on the 101

today while driving down on the 101 i was listening to npr. at first, the california report mentioned the sf bay oil spill, and all the sick birds and destruction. this made me really teary eyed. then, in a separate segment, they spoke with women who had returned from serving in iraq. at one point they talked with a mother and her children, who essentially indicated that the mother had become more detached and distant. she had missed her son change during puberty. this made me even more sad. i got all teary eyed, doubly so.

i don't usually break up so easily. maybe it was the early morning drive. but i was so sad.

now i'm in vegas, contemplating gambling these worries away. but sleep might win out over gambling.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

morning bikerides

lately i've been waking up early and riding around the neighborhood. biking casually. upright, decidedly slowing myself down as the wind batters my slim body and my ears cool in the morning dew.

anyway, today i rode around the bernal area just south of caesar chavez, in san francisco. well, i also ended up in soma, but my pics are largely from bernal:

how invigorating, this ride in the morning. i've felt lost lately, and the morning rides make me feel found, somewhat.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

janus at the de young

last night we went to the de young for their weekly friday night party. while browsing the collection, we came upon a wonderful depiction of janus, the roman god of beginnings and endings. above you see one face of janus. in this depiction, it's an outward face. now below, i give you the profile, and then the "back"

this work really resonated with me because it got me thinking about how we're all, in a way, two-faced, or perhaps of multiple minds. not necessarily in a bad way. i recall reading about people who would lose control of one of their hands, or say things aloud that they thought they didn't mean. the author of the book (i can't remember which book it was) discussed how certain centers of our brain seem to win out over other centers -- like when you reflexively react to something but then restrain yourself almost immediately upon receiving further information. the two janus faces got me thinking that the thoughts we inhibit subconsciously, and consciously, might be far more complicated than a reflex, but rather an entire train of thought that is suppressed, for some reason. there is a face to that thought. the encasing of the head on one side in this depiction emphasizes this enclosure, and the interior mirror helps us see what is inside there, as it's usually obscured.

Friday, October 19, 2007

making eggs with george and fred

a story about making eggs. clearly i'm on an egg kick, i dunno why! hope you enjoy it:

"Now give me your nose and smell this," George told Fred.

Fred plopped his nose into George's greens-filled hand, inhaled and exclaimed, "Ahh wonderful! That is life!"

"No, that is thyme, an herb," remarked George matter-of-factly and continued, "Thyme brings life to omelets in particular. That horrid thing you made the other day with peppers and onions and ham and tomatoes and God knows what other added abominations -- all you needed was thyme and cheese -- one tenth the cost, one thousand times the taste."

Fred frowned. George was mounting his high horse. How high would he go today?

"And your omelet was all mushed and battered -- like it had been to war and returned, gnarled and featureless. Thyme plus grated cheese plus technique -- that's what you need."

"Tell me more," Fred replied, somewhat mockingly.

"I will!" retorted George. "Fred, give me your hand."

Fred gave George his hand. George proceeded to move it side to side, in gentle contours, with slight flourishes at the end of the curves. "Do you know what your hand is capable of?" George began. "Such subtle motions. Such grace. Now, you use it like a seal's flipper -- arf arf arf arf arf! You are a seal when you take a kitchen item in your hand. Or a masturbator -- all you have is one gross motion. Disgusting. The omelet is dead to me before it enteres my mouth -- how can i enjoy the food created by a seal who masterbates with his kitchen tools?"

"Arf arf arf," replied Fred.

George looked stern. "Ha ha, very funny. Well George, my mission, this very day, is to turn you into a dolphin. This day i will make you smarter than a seal but not give you hands."

"Arf, arf!" mocked Fred.

George ignored him. "Then I will make you into a baboon. Big movements, like beating meat, tenderizing, done right. Then, on the third day, I will make you human. You will flip an omelet with grace and I will scream in joy as the thyme and cheese hit my tongue." George smacked his lips and, with purpose in his eyes, said, "Now let us begin."

George hurried away, with Fred arfing behind him.

Friday, October 12, 2007

watch my feet

sasha frere-jones, the pop music critic for the new yorker, showed this amazing video at his talk. it's a style of fast footwork that has come out of the chicago area. watch their feet!

click to see what frere-jones writes about dude 'n nem, the duo behind the video.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

bring back the classics

today we saw alex ross, the new yorker music critic, give a talk titled "the rest is noise." it's about 20th century classical music, it's progression, the history of the 20th century seen from that purview. anyway, a boring talk, he is not a compelling speaker, but he chooses good music. anyway, they gave us a copy of his book (by the same title get it at amazon today!) and i started reading and got thinking...

so, sure, classical music isn't widely cherished today. but i also think it has a publicity problem. i can go and find out when and where daft punk is playing quite easily -- myspace! so my first thought was: why doesn't bach have a myspace page? well, it turns out he does! but it's not what i'd do with it. consider this profile quote:

I was born in Eisenach, Germany on March 21, 1685. I had a tough life. By the age of 10 i was an orphan and had to move in with my brother, who was an organist. From there i was exposed to the music scene. At 14 i was given a scholarship to a choral school and my career in music had begun. From there i worked for duke William Ernst, but after almost ten years decided to move on. Ya know, i was married, had a family, i needed more money to support them.
oh bach i know! life is hard!

then i started browsing around for other popular, dead composers. i found two interesting profiles for mozart:
- wolfy as an over the top character
- "little known" people who perform mozart

neither is what i want! i want to be able to go to one page, and see all the mozart performances coming up. sure, that might be a daunting thing to sift through. ok, make it filterable.

more interesting, myspace is predicated around privileging the performer, not the composer. the songwriter barely gets a mention if it's not the performer. but, when we think classical music, we immediately think the composer, not the performers. the general audience is happy to substitute the san francisco symphony for the new york philharmonic. now, i'm not good enough to be shocked at the magnitude of such a switch -- anyone who's anyone in classical music likely understands the subtleties that arise depending on who's performing. but on a mozart myspace page, i expect to have access to recordings by all the major symphonies as well as my high school band! wouldn't it be great if you could listen to a world class band play mozart and then hear a small band's recent rendition of a classic like eine kleine nacht musik

this has got me wondering how labels manage bands that have died. do they just not have updated myspace pages? or do they live on?

anyway for anyone who wants to waste time, true myspace pages for the classical composers -- that's what i'm looking for :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

girl talk

neha introduced me to girl talk, a dj who cuts up all kinds of well known songs and puts them together in a brilliant way. wikipedia says:

He specializes in sample-based remixes where he uses at least a dozen elements from different songs to create a "new" song.

he's in sf this weekend (sold out) but also in berkeley on monday doing a free show. and if you can't make the events, at least check out the music:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

i'll never forget

last week at my writing class one of our prompts was to use the sentence "i'll never forget" or the sentence "i'll remember" whenever we wanted or we got stuck. it produced a lot of dark pieces. here's mine:

i'll never forget her distance eyes after the third glass, always after the third glass. in happier times the green in her irises would tint a bit gray, she'd smile and look at nothing in particular. it was only later that i learned the distance eyes prefaced the breakdown.

i'll never forget that first time she hit me. a beast came back from her distant eyes and her nails ripped out some of my arm, a scar there now. i love her, still, though she's gone.

i'll never forget how it ended. did i give up, or did she? i always rationalized her drinking and violence as addiction, impulse. she would tell me about her lack of self-control, how she couldn't help herself.

did i become cynical? her hand reaching for a glass -- is that impulse? pouring the too full drink, bringing it to her mouth, repeating not once, not twice but three too full glasses -- is that impulse? that would all take minutes, not seconds -- seconds are impulses, minutes are conscious decisions.

i'll never forget when i told her that she was weak and uncaring -- not sick and in need of help. she had just hit me. was my outburst an impulse? i remember saying sorry, saying i had lost control -- how disgusted i was with myself. i wasn't sorry, it was conscious.

and now i sit here disgusted with that memory -- that i would not stand up for myself, nor care for her or believe that she needed it.

i'll never forget her distant eyes after the third glass. i'm so broken -- i love her and love myself and these will never fit.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

omelets and feet

niniane and i made breakfast today. i wanted to get good at making omelets, so i followed a video i found online (videos for cooking techniques are so great!). here's the video, it's short, and the guy in it is kinda funny looking (why is he wearing his shirt that open? and that apron!) but he does a great job explaining the key steps in the omelet production process:

the one thing i couldn't get was the flip. like with riding a bike, it's hard to explain, even in a video -- some things you just gotta do. twice i half flipped my omelet, wrecking its beauty at the very end. but i love the flipping motion and later tried to put raja in a big box with a handle so i could flip him. he was not happy. anyway, niniane said my thyme and cheddar omelet was great, and i concur -- certainly the best omelet i have ever made.

as with all meandering niniane-omar conversations, we somehow arrived at my distaste for food near feet. i've discussed feet on this blog before, and now would like to say how crazy i get when i see feet near food. there's just something so incongruous with this alignment. for me, it's like nails on a chalkboard. i want to rescue the food, but at the same time toss it, because if it's been that close to feet, something just ain't right.

so in response

niniane tells me about dan savage's discussion a few years ago concerning bonzai restaurant in seattle, where you could eat sushi off naked women. the protests around the objectification of women only lead more people to frequent the restaurant. savage, who thinks protesting the restaurant was ridiculous (i agree), writes this at the end of the article:
If Bonzai did anything wrong, FFFT, it was not using boys as plates at the same time it was using girls as plates. That's why The Stranger will be hosting Naked Doughnuts, a special happy-hour event at Bonzai this Friday night at 6:00 p.m. Two good-looking guys will be laid out on the bar and covered with Top Pot doughnuts. Bonzai Asian Pub & Bistro is at 704 First Avenue. Ogle the boys, eat the donuts, fuck the clenchbutts.
this discussion lead to a point of clarification. it's not that i'm against bodies caressing food, it's just feet and food! i think it'd be fascinating to take some rice and put it on a naked body that's clean but starting to sweat, just to taste the salty flavor imbued in the rice (now that you think i'm gross/nuts pontificate for a moment on all the wonderfully crazy things you think are interesting.. one.. two.. three.. ok let's resume). but keep that rice away from the feet, no matter how clean!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

about last night

this is from my writing class. the prompt was "about last night." i read this aloud, but it's so much easier to understand with italics representing one individual.

[beep vibrate. cell phone is answered]

so.. about last night.
uh, yeah?
well, i was sorta, you know... it wasn't anything.
oh, er, yeah me too. i didn't think.. uh..
yeah, thinking, god! where did that go?
seriously, if my brain is ice, i was melted.
er.. yeah melted. i see that, like slush and dirt. woh, dirty!
yeah and no shovel, er.. yeah
so.. um. about last night.
uh, yeah?
well, ok, maybe i meant some of it.
really? well.. um..
yeah so i was more ice, less slush
well ... ok...
so do you want to...
oh wait i have another call.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

my indian shirts

what will i do next? if the midge mating rituals weren't enough for you, then welcome to the 'omar wears bad indian shirts' show. in india, i kind of got carried away with the clothing prices, and the styles, and bought far too many custom tailored shirts. they fit.. well, like they should if i were in india.

below are three shirts that, in retrospect, as i cleansed the closet, will never see the light of day on me. only the light of this blog. goodwilling, they'll find a home.

you can see the dumbfounded look on my face above. and this was perhaps the least horrible shirt.

looking at this pink shirt picture now, i see hints of my father. it scares me.

and this is by far the ... well, you be the judge.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Magnificient Midge

"Both male and female Chironomidae [nonbiting midges] have mouths but will never use them, for the adults live only to breed. They have stored enough food in their bodies from their larval days to fuel the furious beating of their wings."

The male midge's "rapid [wing] motion raises their body temperature and may make them more potent. Females, lurking nearby in the grass or bushes, dart into the swarm once the males have become irresistible to them."

"Marissa, I'm not going to be able to resist much longer -- look at Walter's wings!"

Marg the midge, perched atop a blade of grass, admired the rhythmic dance of the male midges in the adjacent field. Her friend, Marissa the midge, hovered lower, unconvinced by the dance.

"Every night you fixate on Walter. How many flaws must I point out? Look at his metathorax -- I tell you he still eats, even to this day! No midge is that fat!"

But Marg could not stop swooning. "Think about our kids. His powerful wings, my lithe hind legs, they'd be the most attractive larvae."

Marissa hovered, unconvinced. She spun and looked up. "Wait Marg, wait. Check out Andre."

Andre flew into view above them. His wingers weren't as fast as Walter's; nor his metathorax as large. But Marg could not deny that he was something special. Andre was not rotating horizontally on the fourth wing beat like every other midge -- instead, he rotated vertically, showing off his glistening spiracles. When Andre's head faced Marg and Marissa he winked and caressed his mesothorax with his forelegs. Marg wondered what Andre's forelegs would feel like on her mesothorax.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

should this be secret?

there's a joy to discovering something about someone, long after you've known them. another fold, a direction you didn't expect but appreciate. i remember reading in some old fart magazine an oldie complaining that the embrace of the online world had diminished this wonderful process -- now you can just read someone's blog, google them. as usual, the oldie is wrong. there's always something more than in the posting, the search results.

multiple people have been aghast that i've been revealing this yet-to-be-blog-revealed (but shortly) new fascination i have. they've said things like "i'm not sure i'd share that with anyone i know" or "don't you think people might think about you differently?" well, of course they will! that's what information can do.

so now.

you want to know.

well, first i think it would help if you watched the following video:

i am a huge fan of high school musical. sure, ostensibly it's for teens, but i think i know why i like it. i've always sort of liked indian movies -- i grew up with them playing around me from time to time, and even though i couldn't really connect with the culture evinced by those glittering bollywood gods, the tunes were catchy. they still are:

high school musical is like an indian movie for western kids. and adults who always wanted a better connection between indian movies and their lives. and why am i sharing? i think high school musical is a wonderful, just-plain-fun movie. with catchy tunes. the story isn't groundbreaking, the songs aren't either. but when those kids burst into song, and the scripted tension builds, yes, i'm a sucker. give it a chance, you will be too. high school musical 2: i will see you soon.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

feelin fake in sf?

neha has told me that sf feels so fake. i'm not sure what this means, and i don't think she knows either. but i do know that we were at a startup party last night, and man a lot of those people are drinking the funny punch. as one more sober individual put it: "we don't talk about the failures here." and yet so many fail!

amazingly, you can be a serial failure in startup land and still get funding, over and over. that's great because incubating the right ideas and executing effectively takes people with brains, experience, luck of course.. failure can be good. but then this got me feeling so disappointed about the art scene and its funding. artists, in a way, are entrepreneurs who just don't have access to the funding that tech startup people do. it's so sad! because virtually no one appreciates a failed startup but every piece of art, i think, has an audience. yes, every piece! you know where i'm going here so i'll stop now and go fund an artist.

oh ho ho it's magic

i love this song

Monday, August 06, 2007

ou est la bibliotheque?

ah flight of the conchords. what a ridiculous tv show. two friends move to nyc from new zealand, looking to find success for their quirky comedy band. the show follows their hopeless exploits with women and the band.

every show has two musical sets (at least). in the most recent episode there's a song done mostly in french -- it's great because it's literally grade 3 or grade 4 french, so anyone with a smidge of french can appreciate it. and even if you don't speak french, it's still pretty funny!

parlez-vous le francais?

another something written

one of the prompts last week was a page of onomatopoeia words (words like clang, hiss, boom, ...)

here's what i wrote. i'm working on the granny character:

there is a loud clang against the fence. everyone looks up from their activity: the women stop gossiping; the men lift mouths from their scotch; the kids cease rolling around in the grass; even the whole chicken roasting on the spit seems to do a double take and perk up towards the noise.

on the other side of the fence stands a formidable granny. in her right hand, a large shovel, rusted end -- almost red, as if she's used it to bludgeon, one too many times. in her left hand, a readers digest, large-print. she has everyone's attention. clang! clang! clang! she runs the shovel along the fence for good measure.

"good!" she shrieks, "now you're well interrupted, like you interrupted me!"

the women shuffle. some of the men mutter -- but immediately hush with one stare from the granny, who points the death shovel at them. the children are quiet. somehow, the fire has gone out under the chicken.

"mr and mrs neighbor, a word please."

the hosts of the bbq shuffle to the fence, their friends looking on as if a death sentence is about to be handed down. judge granny presides, and in her court all are guilty.

"why, mr and mrs neighbor, on sunday, god's day, do i hear a gaggle of geese in my yard?"

"uh, geese.. hmm?" mr neighbor replies.

"you buffoon you are the goose, this is your gaggle. do you know, mr neighbor, that i have killed geese with this very shovel?"

a yelp emanates from the children. "mommy, i'm scared. i peed my pants."

"deal with that child, mrs neighbor," granny spits.

mrs neighbor hustles to the child. granny turns, twirling the heavy shovel in one hand. clang! she bangs it against the fence. everyone jumps.

"mr neighbor, i will resume my reading now. if i hear your gaggle again, it will be you with a mess in your pants, be assured."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

spider cat

neha gave me a spider plant and i just brought it at home and, unlike my other spider plant, i put it at cat-reachable level. raja has already taken quite a few bites and so i wonder, why on earth? i know they aren't toxic for cats.. then i read this:

Q: Some people told me that cats like spider plants because it affects them like LSD. Did you find that to be true? I don’t have a cat, but I have a hamster that will do anything to get near my spider plants. If you could give me some insight into spider plants and cats, it would be very helpful! (e-mail reference)

A: Being a cat owner myself (or is it the other way around?), I noted the attraction between my furry friends and this particular species of plant. I checked into spider plant toxicity and found that it is listed as nontoxic. Apparently, cats are attracted to spider plants because, like catnip, spider plants are mildly hallucinogenic to cats. The same thing may be true of hamsters. While harmless, the cats need to be disciplined or they will trash the plant. When we bring ours indoors for the winter, we have to make sure the spiderettes do not hang low enough for the cats to reach!

in other words, the plant is the one in danger -- raja is on the prowl and slightly drugged up!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

creative writing.. how creative

i'm taking a creative writing class at the writing salon in sf. the class is called "Exploring Your Writer's Voice". so far i've had two classes and i'm really enjoying it. the group leader (our fearless leader) chris provides us with prompts, we write whatever we want (following the prompt where it might take us, or not), and then we share our writing with the group, who offers positive feedback on the writing, focusing on the writing, not the writer. for me, this is about fiction, and so i try to step out -- lie, have fun, create.

this has really helped me reinvigorate my writing bug. here's the last prompt chris provided tonight, along with my response.

prompt: there is still joy.

what omar wrote:

"look another vineyard -- drink!" and so they drink up -- not i, they, drink up -- everyone but me. designated driver to napa and sonoma. why did i pull the short straw?

we're driving on the silverado trail. oh look another pothole -- i gun the car at it -- the drinkers can take that!

ah napa. some of the best wine in the world -- wine I, the humble driver, could appreciate. and what do my friends ask me to do? drive them around the back roads, and whenever they see a vineyard they drink. when the bottle runs dry i take them to the nearest winery, they run inside, bellow "bring me your cheapest wine!" and run back to the car. spot. drink. stop. repeat.

i get a whiff of their latest chard -- oaky, is that almond.. wait, bring it back. oh, another vineyard. they drink. they laugh. i cry. but i laugh too. this is so ridiculous. gunning for a pothole, i relish the little bumpy joys in life.

Monday, July 09, 2007

some music

on neha's blog i saw a widget showing some of her favorite music and i wanted the same. so i pulled out some music that i thought might sort of fit together, and somewhat reflected what i'm listening to these days. i realize i'm very poppy lately. anyway, check this out. i'll also have this widget on the side of my blog so you can see changes as the days go by.

Friday, July 06, 2007


on this family trip a lot of people have said "oh you and your sister seema have similar glasses!" now, i must admit, my sister's glasses have grown on me: at first i didn't like them, but who can say no to a hint of pink (you can't see the pink in these pics, as it's on the inside). however, besides the aesthetics, which is what people often gravitate towards when discussing my glasses (i find people hate them or love them), my glasses are very smartly designed, and this is not a design that you'll find in my sister's glasses or very many other kinds of glasses.

my glasses are by alain mikli, from the alain mikli line (model A0344-08). miklitarian (the full last name of alain) does this amazing thing with telescopic hinges on this line that i will now demonstrate with my glasses (the video isn't the clearest thing but you'll get the idea):

why is this so important? when you see this video, you probably think "oh yeah that's cool but so what?" of course, if you don't wear glasses i can forgive you for this thought. often, when you get new glasses, after a few days you might notice pinching at the sides of your head -- this pinching can cause headaches. the pinching is caused by glasses that push against your head -- essentially they don't fit properly. similarly, if they are too loose, your glasses will tend to slip a lot and not feel stable on your head. adjustments are made at the time of purchase, or people make their own adjustments or go to their glasses shop and fix things up later. with the mikli glasses, these are nonissues. the hinge adjusts for you, but not to the point that it gets too loose.

think i'm nuts? well, i am, but knowing that there was something to his designs, i searched patents and found this quote from a miklitarian patent:

"Telescopic" hinges which, like most hinges, comprise two elements, bearing on one another and connected by a rotation pin, at least one of the two elements being movable, have the particular feature of including, in the movable element, a tie-rod mounted so as to slide in a housing and comprising a means for cooperating with the rotation pin, and a return spring.

When a spectacle frame is being fitted to a wearer's face, these telescopic hinges are advantageous because they allow over-opening of the sides, generally by 2 to 8°, which facilitates fitting, particularly if this is done by another third party (the optician). The telescopic hinges also improve the fit of the frame to the face since, because the over-opened position is unstable, once the sides are released by the person fitting the frame they come to bear against the sides of the wearer's face, under the action of the return spring.

To ensure a comfortable fit for the wearer, it is important that the sides bear against the sides of the face with enough force to keep the spectacle frame in place but not so much as to be unbearable, the intensity of this bearing force depending on the return force... [the patent then goes on to discuss this point]

even if you own glasses, you may think these points are minor. but, if so, i challenge you to wear some alain mikli's for a while and see how much more comfortable you feel. i guarantee you will feel more comfortable (and not to mention look great!).

of course, aesthetics is a whole different game, and so you might (gasp) think my sister's glasses are more pleasing to look at. but in terms of the care that goes into the ergnomic design of glasses, there is no comparison. personally, i also think the mikli looks are first-rate, but like with luxury car lines that i think look ugly, i nevertheless appreciate their subtler beauty :)

amusingly, while writing this post i came upon A0344-13, my glasses but white instead of black. on ebay. i bought them! man, this post was costly. but check out the pictures. here's one:

Saturday, June 30, 2007

funny doors

today i had some great bad door locking moments. the first involves a change room in a mall. i entered the change room and couldn't figure out how to lock the door. i looked at the handle, nothing. i look around the handle, nothing. then i look up and notice a lone screw, sticking up at the top of the door, about half a room above my head. here it is:

what would you do with a screw like this? well, i turn it, and it starts going in. then i turn it the other way, and it starts coming out. but neither action actually locks the door. here's my sister and i, filming an interaction with the door.

and now here's the mechanism (shot from above, door in locked position):

the second door locking problem is even more amusing, but i didn't take any pictures because my sister somehow convinced me not to. i go into a bathroom stall in a ukranian cultural center in new jersey, and i can't lock the door. the alignment of door latch to lock is all wrong, and so the door cannot be locked. i puzzle for a moment, conclude that this door must be broken, and go to the next stall. the same thing! so i try a third stall. the same thing, again! i can't lock the door. is this some kind of sick joke? i can't find anyone to ask, but i'm sure it must be.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

i am not a wirestripper

i am not a wirestripper.

and i never will be. after ruining about a foot of speaker wire while trying to strip it with an inferior tool and my perpetually shaky hands i've concluded that i am not a wirestripper, and never will be. and don't ever ask me to remove a splinter from your body, or operate on you, because i assure you, i'll likely regret it more than you, as you'll be dead.


for me, this is one of those don norman moments, when at first i think i'm an idiot then realize that the tool i'm using was never built to do any task well, certainly not on first use.

here is a picture of the cheap cheap wire stripper i picked up from home depot (neha warned me that i should get the nicer one and i retorted "it's just wire stripping." how i eat my tasty words).

notice that the gauge adjustment, unlike any sane tool, is this screw you can move continuously along an axis (inside the left handle). that's right, there aren't even notches for recommended position given wire gauge. now, this gives this stripper the benefit that it can cut hypothetical 16.5 gauge wire (actually, such wire does exist but come on). how does this item continue to sell! are people's hands just so much softer than mine that the inexactness of their stripping tool can be offset by their ultra sensitive hands, which feel the prick of the insulation and thus strip without losing any copper? do they also feel my leg shaking under the table as the displaced air moves over their hands?

show me these people! i want to worship their hands.

now let's look at a reasonable wire stripper, courtesy youtube

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Thursday, June 14, 2007


just bought the new feist cd, and it's wonderful. her voice has such range, and the supporting music is catchy. i went to check out one of her videos (my moon my man) and it is so much fun. very playful and well choreographed. check it out:

on the other hand, i find mushaboom's video a little too over the top, even for me:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

mine eyes

if you're wondering what those beautiful retinas are doing on my blog, you can likely deduce the answer: they are my retinas! what healthy retinas, wouldn't you say? i certainly have no idea, but that's what my doctor says.

let me answer some questions that i know some of you will ask: no, i don't feel weird posting my retinas. these pictures are amazing. the eye is a fantastic structure, and these photos confirm that indeed my eyes are also fantastic.

if you know me, you might know that i am extremely disturbed by the idea of eye damage. i can't wear contacts for fear of hurting my eyes, and any time i see eye damage on tv or in movies i shudder and literally freak out. i jump up and down and cringe and just hurt hurt hurt

my classic example of eye damage in a film that freaked me beyond belief: demolition man. recall the beginning, when wesley "always bet on black" snipes escapes the prison using the warden's eye to pass the retinal scan. freaky! ugh! just the thought of it makes me quesy. but but but i decided to google the movie to find out what others say about the eye scene. i was so heartened by this find, which describes the scene as factually void:

Factual error: Simon Phoenix uses the warden's removed eye to escape from the cryoprison. The eye is on a spike, which would have not only destroyed the shape of the retina, but blocked the scanner from reaching it as well. There's no way the retinal scanner would have let him pass.

this makes me feel good, to a certain extent. sure, any crazy criminals who have seen this movie and need to get into my retinal-eye-scan-locked fortress might think of pulling a wesley snipes on me... but it's more likely that they'll think through the problem and realize that taking out my eye in tact is likely a difficult job. and so maybe they'll let me live.. at least leave my eyes alone!

Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with!

--Macbeth. ACT III Scene 4.

Monday, June 04, 2007

what's that word i'm looking for!

googlin around for a concept is hard! here's the concept:
why is it that a computer user would more readily listen to another human telling them to do something than a computer telling them the same thing?
now, before you send me all your answers to this question, that's not what i'm looking for! i have many seemingly reasonable answers to this question. i am interested in literature that discusses this idea, or some abstraction of it, either empirically or theoretically.

so i googed for a while and then concluded that i needed to invest in some human capital (sorry server farm, you don't push the right buttons all the time). i go scrounging about on berkeley's econ department page and find first one professor (a nobel prize winner who is really old) and then another, both of whom probably know the keywords i need to find the literature i'm looking for. but i don't want to email professors, this is a huge waste of their time. i want to email their students :)

but in econ, it seems, you don't list your advisor, and you certainly don't list your students! so i email the non-nobel econ prof and cross my fingers. no response. also no response from a psych prof who does behavioral psych.

sigh. i thought my phd-to-be-in-cs-street-cred would count for something, a lil hit of information, some breathing room... nothing.

so i pick up the goog again and keep whacking away at the concept. i just need the right words. back in high school i read some em forster, and his quote (the one that's always quoted) seems quite apt at this point in my adventure:

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.

so here the beast is passion? the monk the prose? well, i am certainly a beast as is my concept, and stupid google monk is refusing to see the beast, being afraid of conceptual understanding. i need to build a bridge.

and so, like all diligent elves, i muck about until i make the connection. but it shouldn't be so hard! and guess what? i have no idea what i did to make the connection, but i now know the key words i needed: advice-taking. there's a whole literature on advice-taking, and i found professor yaniv at the hebrew university of jerusalem and emailed him and he and his graduate student were so kind as to send me more information and offers of help.

the world
if you google hard enough

ps all the links here were found by taking the words linked and googlin. the google monk one is soo good, especially if you think about the invaders as the beast, that the video is posted here:

i realize i could actually write about this beast/monk idea in some detail with respect to concept discovery and google, but i think the video does the connection some justice.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

you know you haven't got enough sleep when..

i moved the other day. largely a painless move, but my room is a bit noisy and last night i drank a cappuccino too close to bedtime. this resulted in absolutely 0 sleep for me last night.

today, i've been semi with it. i needed to setup a new water bill account and was flabbergasted that it cost $120 just to set up the account. getting all uppity, i finally looked back and saw that it was only $12.

just now i sent a txt msg to my phone from my computer. then i heard my phone beep and grabbed it thinking that someone had txted me (always like getting an sms). guess who it was from? me!

i need sleep.

Monday, May 28, 2007

herding cats and line omar

i am diligently packing in preparation for my next move and the cats are just not being helpful! here you can see raja flopped over in the sun, demanding a belly-rub (and getting in the footpath that i'm using to move stuff around the room!)

napoleon is dominating the bed, fully stretched out and mewing (sorry no sounds here).

ah here's another picture i wanted to share. at chi 2007 elgoog held a party at the san jose tech museum. at the tech museum you can get a robot to do a line drawing of your face. here's my line drawing. looks like me eh?
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Saturday, May 19, 2007

socks with hole

into the shoe not a peep
out of the shoe, i weep
for the sock i have worn
is now slightly torn
the second in only a week

writing vs knitting smack down

what am i creating when writing? today a friend commented to me that they knit because they love to create beautiful three dimensional objects. no doubt knitted things can be beautiful, but what about this writing?

what's amazing is that a small child can likely appreciate a beautifully knit object yet this text (whether it can be appreciated at all!) certainly can't be appreciated by a child. indeed, the following graph illustrates this point
that is all for now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

wonderful zadie smith story in the recent new yorker

i've often overlooked the fiction in the new yorker, but recently i've been reading the short stories. in the may 14th new yorker (which is generally excellent, cover to cover, with articles on banksy, walt mossberg and richard bransen that are particularly interesting) zadie smith has a wonderful story titled "Hanwell Senior." here's a quote from the story
His feet stank. He took off his shoes. At home he had a wife who was not well, not well in a manner he could do nothing about nor understand, but as he sat here now in the sun, the tense, resistant nub of flesh inside his back resolved itself for the first time in months. He lay down. His spine pressed into the soil a notch at a time, undid him. Upside down was a land of female legs. He was fond of these new bell-shaped skirts, wide enough to crawl under and be kept safe, and wished he had waited to marry, or married differently. He thought, What if I stayed here? Let the sun swallow me, and the orange dazzle under my eyelids become not just the thing I see but the thing that I am, and let the one daisy with the bent stem, and the rose smell and the girl upside down on the pub bench eating an upside-down ploughman’s with her upside-down friend be the whole of the law and the girth of the world. Wasn’t it the work of moments, of a little paint, to change “HANWELL’S FINEST” to “HANWELL AND HANWELL”? [omar's bolding]
i found that bold part particularly moving. words can be so powerful (i was thinking about doing photography recently and this reminded me of the power of words... i should push on my words)

Thursday, May 10, 2007


today i watched an amusing and provoking imagemakers short film called "Erasmos Pocos" (One Too Many). it was one of the Oscar Nominated Shorts in 2007. here's a blurb from the imagemakers site and a i'll post a short clip at the end of this entry.
Utterly useless lay-abouts Joaquim and his son find they can't cope on their own when “mom” dumps both their lazy butts and leaves them for good. Joaquim concocts a devious plan for domestic rescue, becoming perhaps the first man in history to want his mother-in-law to move in with him. But the wily old lady has a trick up her own sleeve. A dead pan comedy written and directed by Borja Cobeaga and nominated for a 2007 Academy Award for best short film. Principal cast: Ramon Barea, Marivi Bilbao and Alejandro Tejeria.
in some ways this short film is about fitting nicely into your surroundings. there's all kinds of things we do well in our life -- and there are things we have trouble with. ideally, we place ourselves in a complimentary environment: i help you, you help me, we are compatible. in this film, the mother-in-law finds a home with people who appreciate her; the man and his son get a caregiver.

now i'm not just talking about doing laundry and making food -- certainly quite important things but there are many other forms of care. i'm also talking about people who help you see things differently, or nudge you in a direction that you should go but can't quite get yourself going along. this kind of relationship takes trust, care and appreciation, and this remarkable short film manages to get at all that in a humorous and moving manner. brilliant

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


an exciting night out with the cousin. we went to tokyo gogo and had some great sushi, and then neha went home and we proceeded elsewhere. had quite a bit of square one (100% certified organic rye vodka!). we met one of the founders of square one vodka at elixir on guerrero and 16th. good times, quiz night (every tuesday at 9pm)! do you know how many times princess leah kissed luke before kissing solo? i do!

the square one vodka woman bought me a free round, and it went down smoooooth. anyway, we were joking around and having a good time -- we joined her team and managed to climb to third place overall in quiz night, an impressive feat since our team did not appear until round 3 and hence had no points until round 3.

in sad news, at the end of the night our new friend realized that her wallet had been stolen, and likely by a woman who is frequenting mission bars and stealing easy pickings. so be warned!

but it was still good times and adventure. i'll never forget that the call sign for q is quebec (like the call sign for b is bravo) -- we thought q was queen. bad canadians.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

90% knocked up - 2 hours ago

while reading my email in gmail, i saw this at the top of my screen and laughed: these three different items, all connected like so, great :)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

tug this

at chi2007 i saw a wonderful talk presenting a neat tangible interface, the Tug N' Talk belt. here's the abstract:

Tug n’ Talk is a prototype of a tuggable communication device, allowing for
intimate communication between two individuals using tugging as a metaphor. In this paper we discuss the advantages of tugging over other haptic communication modalities, such as vibration,with a focus on input/output spaces and meaning construction.

the basic idea is that you and i are wearing virtually attached tuggable belts. each belt has a small chain attached to it. if i tug my chain, then you feel that same tug. harder tugs on my side translate to harder tugs on your side. no more using my cell phone or kicking you under the table -- i can tug you. here's two pics from the paper:

anyway, at the end of the talk a person stated that they can barely stand tugs from their children, and they aren't sure if tugs from their husband would be appropriate. so they said that while they thought this was cool, it seemed more art than practical. the presenter quite brilliantly responded

"do you let just anyone vibrate you?"

and this got a huge laugh but it's so true. we let people vibrate us all the time. the vibrating phone has become the norm. and so why not other mechanisms?
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awkward comedy

today i was in what can only be described as a sitcom-like situation where a guy is doing ok with a girl by saying very little and just rolling with the conversation, and he proceeds to speak and dig himself into a very large hole. details would make this even more amusing but i can't provide those without revealing far too much:

---guy approaches our group of people---

guy: hi all
girl and others: hi
guy to girl: did we meet last night? i can't exactly remember, i was somewhat drunk...
girl: i can't remember either but i was pretty out of it too..

---laughter all around---

girl: but hi i'm Z, it's nice to meet in this sober manner :)

---random chatter---

guy to all: hey any of you want to get cake with us? (he refers to his group)
girl and others: yeah that sounds like fun.

---random chatter about random stuff. group X is discussed (the true identity of group X is withheld to protect the participants)---

guy: i really hate group X.
girl: huh. i'm from group X.
other person: a lot of my friends are from group X.


guy: well let me qualify.

---long story about group X ensues---

girl: i think most people in all groups have that characteristic. sounds like you just hate a particular type of person.

---random talk about the type of person that guy might have problems with---

guy turns to girl: i just wanted you to know that i don't consider you part of group X.
girl: that's a really left-handed comment! uh.. thank you?


guy: ok, i think you're research is really cool and you're cool (editor's note: he doesn't know this person at all!)

---awkward smiles---

---we all start to walk towards the door---

guy to girl: you still want to get cake?
girl: uhhh. no i think i'm going to work on my laptop instead (editor's translation: i'd rather tear pages out of my favorite book than get cake with you, this is super awkward).

guy walking away with rest of us: doh doh doh

---amusement for the rest of us---

Sunday, April 22, 2007

the letter opener

we went to a handcrafted wood gallery while in australia, and some of the pieces were gorgeous. there were a lot of possibilities to take home, but as i remembered back to my best purchases from recent travel, i kept coming back to the things that made me fondly remember the trip... objects that to an uninterested viewer just appear to be what they are: for instance, a jacket, or a doorstop. but of course objects are links back into our memory. i've read that some scientists believe that our memory doesn't actually really forget very much at all -- rather, we lose the links to get to the memories. stranded memories.

of course, we've all had those aha moments when something random brings back a memory from the distant past. so then i thought it'd be great if i could surround myself with everyday objects that would bring back memories. and that's what i did in australia, with the purchase of a huon letter opener. check it out below:

huon is this wonderful wood that has such a distinctive smell. the smell is sort of like that of gasoline as you pump it into your car. i love that smell.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

random thoughts

i walk a lot. in berkeley, in san francisco, i'm often on my feet. so it's been a bit hard going lately since i got back from australia, where my big toe was slightly crushed. a small bridge spanned the distance between the pontoon we were diving from, and the boat we took to the pontoon. this bridge would rock as the ocean moved, and it unfortunately rocked onto my big toe, and smothered it. what pain. one of the workers at the pontoon came by, told me to be careful, and said it'd be alright.

well, there's no doubt in my mind that it will be ok, but i've been walking a bit funny to adjust for the still dull pain in that toe. sigh.

anyway, as i was walking back to my home today, my mind, for some odd reason, wandered to yoda (yes, the little green alien) and star wars episode three (the final movie). i was thinking that things would've been so much better had yoda taken ewen mcgregor to fight the emperor. stupid yoda. what random thoughts... but i just wondered about the misery that could've been avoided. :)

finally, i've read the recent new yorker article about parkour. for those of you that don't know, parkour is .. well, if you see this video you'll understand what it is:

anyway, it's so amazing to see this man move. in the article, david belle (the man behind parkour) says that he wanted to move like monkeys, and he certainly achieves that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

australia pics

seema, jeff, neha and i went to australia at the end of march. we had a fantastic time. sydney is certainly in my top 5 list of wonderful cities. check out some of our pictures. hilights include koala holding, didjereedoo playing, hot full-body suits, man-eating spiders, and more!

Best of Australia

Sunday, April 08, 2007


i haven't posted in a while, and there's no excuse. i just feel i haven't had much to say, and so i didn't want to waste time.

but now i have something to say. i have found a tv show on public television that i absolutely must tell everyone about (especially since many of my readers are in the bay area). the show is called imagemakers, and it's on kqed. the producers get short films from around the world and show them. imagemakers is only 30 minutes, so sometimes there is just one movie, but other times there are multiple very short films.

and they are great! ok, well, many of them. here's a very short one called consent that i saw the other day. a blurb about it first: "From Jason Reitman (the director of In God We Trust, one of ImageMakers' most popular films) comes a clever take on urban love. Two young adults with the hots for each other find themselves alone in bed for the first time. What's to stop them from doing it? As they soon find out, in this litigious society, nothing is as easy as it once was." (note: to preview button will show a preview on this page, but if you want to watch the whole thing you'll be taken to another website)

actually, it turns out that a lot of these short films are available online. i found the site atomfilms which seems to host a bunch of good short films.


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