Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My laugh for the day

Mr. Insomniac took the camera (and the memory card) with him to London, so I have no pics to share. No grilled cheese festivities.

But I can't leave my three readers hanging... I have to get my valuable content out. So here's a pictureless story.

I'm supervising my team on survey entry and we just got a large batch from a certain school
in a certain county known for producing a certain beverage that rhymes with swine.

One of the parents writes: "The school dictates 4 years of our lives and leaves the parents and kids desperate for family time, vacations, etc."

Now why the hell do you need a vacation? You live in Shangri-La. Walk outside. Surprise - you're on vacation, folks.

But this was what literally made me laugh out loud. For the question

Are you...

__ Male
__ Female

The person in question filled out the form like this:

Are you...

_X_ Male (Dad)
_X_ Female (Mom)

Well, no duh! as we used to say on the grade school playground.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NA, here I come.

I'm turning into a cliche.

Yesterday after the root canals I was paranoid I was going to be in pain. I kept waiting for the onslaught and when I went to fill my Vicodin prescription, I asked the pharmacist if I should take one immediately. She asked me if I had just had surgery (the Rite Aid was in an area known for plastic surgery... lol) and I told her I had two root canals. Sure, she says.

So I took one pill once I got to work and felt woozy for most of the day. I felt like Lindsay Lohan or something, walking around with a bottle of prescription pills in my handbag.

Later that night, Mr. Insomniac and I went to his Boss's house for a stone crab dinner, courtesy of Joe's Stone Crab delivery service. The two had just gotten back from a conference in Florida, and decided to relive the experience with more stone crab.

As we waited for the crab to heat up, the chardonnay began to flow. The Boss handed me a glass.

"But I'm on Vicodin," I protested.
"Nonsense," says Boss (medical professional #1).
"But the label said not to!"
"Nonsense," says Mr. Insomniac (medical professional #2). "People do it all the time."
"Well, if you guys say so."

Dinner was a perfect meal for me - soft crab that I didn't really have to chew (I'm paranoid of screwing up my temporary crowns). Delicious when dredged in lemon butter and/or mustard sauce. The side of cole slaw was vinegary sweet. And the key lime pie was a lovely ending. Dining outside in the unseasonably warm spring night reminded me that summer is just around the corner.

I woke up at 6am to Mr. Insomniac's alarm clock, woozy and with no memory of leaving Boss's house or getting into bed. Quite the strange sensation.

So I'm done with the Vicodin. Back to good ol' Advil.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eating... not so much.

Apparently, I have a high threshold for pain.
Especially when the solution to the pain involves going to the dentist.

But after experiencing prolonged pain that prevented me from eating solid food and had me considering knocking out my teeth with an ice skate and a rock a la Tom Hanks in Castaway, I went to the dentist.

I never thought I'd be grateful after a root canal, but there you go. Blessed relief. And blessed Vicodin.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Geeking out at the tar pits

Squee! I just came back from an interview at the La Brea Tar Pits Museum in Los Angeles to be a volunteer lab worker.


I prepped a bit so I could seem somewhat knowledgeable and know how to pronounce Pleistocene. It didn't really matter, as I spent most of the time gawking at all the bones on display and getting a first hand tour of the lab.

Let me back up a bit. Growing up in Los Angeles, I visited the La Brea tar pits more times than I can could count. I remember pressing my face up against the glass of the fishbowl laboratory inside the museum and watching the white-coated scientist clean bones.

It was then that I decided I wanted to be a "paleontologist slash archeologist" which sounded incredibly precocious from a 5 year old and made people think I was super smart. I also spent most of my free time reading books about dinosaurs.

Like this one:
danny dinosaur Pictures, Images and Photos

Just kidding. That was my lame brother's favorite book. I liked my dinosaurs ferocious. Not tame smiling pets that let you ride around on them. I liked them with sharp teeth and claws and the ability to rend flesh.

So I really liked dinosaurs. I had dinosaur toys and went to dinosaur day camps (:blushes:) where we made fake dino tracks with stuff you could find in your kitchen. As I got older, the dino stuff fell by the wayside to be replaced by music, and then AP classes, and then the hedonism of college. I was still interested in museums (and ended up doing research in grad school on the subject), but the dino stuff went dormant.

But then I saw this in February article
Researchers from the George C. Page Museum at the La Brea tar pits have barely begun extracting the fossils from the sandy, tarry matrix of soil, but they expect the find to double the size of the museum's collection from the period, already the largest in the world.

Among their finds, to be formally announced today, is the nearly intact skeleton of a Columbian mammoth -- named Zed by researchers -- a prize discovery because only bits and pieces of mammoths had previously been found in the tar pits.

But researchers are perhaps even more excited about finding smaller fossils of tree trunks, turtles, snails, clams, millipedes, fish, gophers and even mats of oak leaves. In the early 1900s, the first excavators at La Brea threw out similar items in their haste to find prized animal bones, and crucial information about the period was lost.

And I was like, dude, (told you I grew up in LA, remember?) they totally need people to dig up all those damn bones! Why can't that person be me? So I called. And apparently everyone else had read that same article and they weren't even taking applications. Sadness. But then I called in April later after all the fervor had died down and got an interview. Yes!

The interview wasn't really an interview - the head lab person just showed me around the lab. It was so amazing - here I was inside the fishbowl! I could hardly pay attention to her as my eye kept wandering to Zed's femur that an assistant was cleaning or his ginormous jaw on display. A plaster cast held a portion of his articulated spine, And all along the shelves were skulls and various bones, teeth, and claws. They were everywhere. Bones that are 40,000 years old... from creatures that roamed California during the Ice Age alongside our human ancestors. How friggin cool is that?! I wish I could have snapped pictures, but I didn't think that was appropriate.

Apparently, the first day or two volunteers sort microfossils (shells, insects, seeds, pieces of plants) from piles of dirt which isn't as cool as a saber-tooth cat skull, but it's still pretty neat. Then you get to the bigger stuff - detailing larger bones. Then after that, I'd get to actually dig up bones from Project 23.

The bones on the top of the shelf are used to aid in classification.


Since 1906, over a million bones have been found from 231 species of vertebrates. In addition, 159 kinds of plants and 234 kinds of invertebrates have been identified. It is estimated that the collections at the Page Museum contain about three million items.

They have to store them somewhere. Like in Yuban coffee boxes.


Or in this long hallway that stretches as far as the eye can see. It stores most of the large mammal bones... Birds are in another wing and there are other storage areas.


After the interview/tour was over, I went exploring.

I always felt sorry for the poor baby mastodon watching his trapped dad.


The crazy thing is that scattered around the museum grounds are random patches where the asphalt seeps through to the surface.


I did some investigation and determined that it was indeed extremely sticky.


Pit 91 is the site of the most recent excavations which typically have happened in the summer.


It's closed down now so that full attention can be paid to the crates of Project 23. They have five years of funding, so time is of the essence and excavations will be year round.


God willing, I'll be knee deep in one of these crates sometime soon. Hopefully a spot will open up and I'll get my phone call! But you what, even if I never hear from them again, I've had a very memorable day. :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Party crasher!

Mandated by Virbila's review in the LA Times ("Go."), I've been wanting to go to Rivera for a while (like two whole weeks!). We made reservations last week for like 9pm (only time available - damn you, glowing review!), but I wasn't feeling up to it, so we had to cancel. Mr. Insomniac got word that a college friend was staying in Pasadena on business, and they decided to meet somewhere halfway. Rivera was a perfect match!

I brought the new camera along because I was so ready to take pictures. But when we got to the restaurant and were seated in the middle of a quiet room with older people in suits, I sort of chickened out. Ever since I got admonished at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, I've sort of lost my SLR picture taking nerve.

I did a little with the iphone, but most of them came out crappy. You'll see.

I started with the tequila flight - blanco tequila mixed with seasonal aqua frescas. I got a grapefruit/anise, pomegranate, and Meyer lemon. They were good, although I could have done without the ice cubes in the glass. And I could have had a heartier pour. Those suckers were good! It was still pretty light in the dining room, so you get a halfway decent picture.


Mr. Insomniac got another drink. It was interesting (had a serrano pepper in it)... not sure I'd order it again.

We ordered a couple of the small plates, which were fantastic (although the photos of them are decidedly sub-par).

First up was the tortillas florales, housemade tortillas with "Indian butter". I'm happy to report that the Indian tasted like guacamole, and not in fact like the people of the Cherokee nation.


All joking aside, these were wonderful. I could have been content with a stack full of these and a pitcher of the meyer lemon tequila.

Next was the duck confit with a roja reduction. Melt in your mouth deliciousness.


Mr. Insomniac always gets mussels. These were good too - and I especially enjoyed the charred piece of bread that accompanied them - perfect for soaking up the sauces.


Now this is where the pictures get really crappy. For the entrees, I and Mr. Insomniac's friend ordered the banana leaf braised pork shoulder with Peruvian potatoes. I sampled all of the components, and then earmarked the rest of the dish for leftovers. The meat was amazingly tender and I'm salivating at the thought of running downstairs after I finish this post to eat the rest while watching out the premiere of Harper's Ferry on the DVR.


There was a bit of delay as the server slid a portion of Mr. Insomniac's friend's pork on the table cloth and the dish was sent back to the kitchen for re-plating. That minor incident aside, the service was excellent. The food came out a little slower than I would like, but by the time we got our entrees, the place was fully packed.

Mr. Insomniac got the pan-roasted chicken with citrus and wilted spinach. The spinach had a delightful chili flavor. I was inspired by the stencil on the plate. I have to try that sometime - "I slaved over this dish" in chili powder and assorted spices...


I believe it was around here that we noticed the attractive couple dining in the romantic banquette near us. It was the Monkeys! WeezerMonkey was celebrating her birthday and I dashed over to her table to give her a hug and wish her a happy birthday IRL. What fun! I knew that she'd get to Rivera eventually, but I didn't think that we'd be there at the same time...

Here's my sneak picture of the two - lol - celebrity stalking style. They look like they're dining in a black cave. The iphone camera sucks. Fortunately, WeezerMonkey was situated in a booth with an actual light above it and I saw her whipping out her camera to take some great shots. She is amazingly quick with that thing. Impressive.


So please refer to her post (insert place holder for link) for the pics and review. I believe we ordered a lot of the same things.

And then dessert. We got the mojito crepes with white rum, lime, and mint; the trio of flan with complementary sauces (peppermint, something, and something or other - Mr. Insomniac got this. I'm not a flan fan - but I did like the one that had the densest texture); and I got the hazelnut chocolate sponge cake with orange sorbet. I didn't bother taking any pictures, because Mr. Insomniac's friend had blown out our meager candle light source and we were sitting in darkness.

Did I mention that I was on day 4 of my "diet"? I lasted a bitter 3 days. So sad.

The dish that I'd order again would be the crepes. Mr. Insomniac's friend couldn't finish his order, so we descended upon it like half-starved hyenas. It was ugly. Mr. Insomniac's trio of flan was good, but a little small - each flan was the size of a marshmallow. My cake was good, but a little too chocolately for me. What I really wanted was some sort of beignet or donut - something churro-esque. I know a lot of restaurants do the beignet thing, and maybe it's played, but darn it, that's what I wanted.

So on the way home, when Mr. Insomniac directed me to pull into El Pollo Loco's for another order of flan, I made sure to tack on a side of churros onto the order. So yeah - after all that food, we ate more at El Pollo Loco. Diet has officially been busted.