Be prepared

December 23rd, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

Like most Bay Area residents, I know perfectly well that owning an earthquake kit is absolutely essential. Until today, I have failed almost entirely to act on that knowledge. Not that I didn’t have my reasons for dodging the issue:

  • Every ready-made earthquake kit I have ever seen is an aesthetic disaster. When I see a nasty-looking backpack filled with partially hydrogenated survival goo, my first thought is not that it may offer a reasonable solution to a practical problem but that I must keep it as far away from me as possible.
  • I am far too lazy to assemble my own earthquake kit from scratch.

The recent string of earthquakes on the Hayward Fault, with epicenters a few miles from my apartment, finally convinced me that I was being ridiculous; in an emergency, it is unlikely that I will spend a great deal of time worrying that my earthquake kit is an eyesore. So I visited the Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center‘s website and purchased an “Executive Survival Kit,” having determined that they did not offer a more appropriate “Middle Management Survival Kit.” As far as I can tell, the kit includes nearly everything that two people would need to keep body and soul together for three days.

As long as the next big earthquake doesn’t hit before I receive my Executive Survival Kit, I’ll be ready. Which brings me to the real point of this post: If you’re not prepared for whatever disaster is most likely in your own city, why not throw some money at the problem right now, while you’re thinking about it? Just search Google for “earthquake kit” and you’ll find plenty of options, many of which are less expensive than the one I purchased. (Mine was $150, and truth be told, I probably spent too much; there are plenty of kits that go for closer to $100.) If you’re not sure what to look for, the City of San Francisco and the San Francisco Chronicle can help you out.

Of course, I should really have two earthquake kits, one for home and another for work. I suppose that means I still have an opportunity to find the kit of my dreams. Disaster-preparedness suppliers, take note: If you were to manufacture a Bay Area Metrosexual Earthquake Kit, packaged in a Jack Spade messenger bag and complete with artisanally-made, locally-grown ration bars, I can guarantee that you would sell at least one.

Lube job

December 23rd, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

A friend called me last week while she was taking her car to Big O Tires. Which got me thinking: Doesn’t “Big O” seem like a deceptively salacious name for a tire store? It certainly doesn’t help that their slogan is “A Reputation You Can Ride On.”

Fuck you too, Ikea

October 4th, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

An email message shows an ad for a sale on Ikea's JEFF chair.  The ad reads: Introduce your friends to JEFF. No, we don't mean that creepy guy who asked you out in the 7th grade. We're talking about JEFF, our folding chair...

Cut me some slack, you goddamn Swedish conglomerate. I mean, who wasn’t creepy in the 7th grade?

In which I am visited by a counterculture clown

September 19th, 2006 § One comment § permalink

If I hadn’t already known that I work in Berkeley, I would have guessed as much after stepping out of my office this evening and seeing Wavy Gravy driving a Camp Winnarainbow van down Shattuck Avenue.

And yes, he was wearing the makeup.

Oh, to live in a small country with an inferiority complex

August 12th, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

From the International Herald Tribune, via today’s New York Times:

Before the Finnish band Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest in May with its hard-rock anthem “Hard Rock Hallelujah,” its many critics warned that the latex-wearing monster mutants would embarrass Finland, inspire Satanic worship and scare children by blowing up Barbie dolls on stage.

But after ending Finland’s 40-year losing streak at the world’s biggest celebration of kitsch, the demonic quintet has been transformed from national scourges to national heroes…

President Tarja Halonen, once lobbied by horrified Finns to withdraw Lordi from Eurovision, recently praised its retractable Satan wings and slasher-film inspired lyrics as “Finnish quality work” [emphasis added]. Pepsi has begun advertising its drinks in Finland with the slogan “Hard Drink Hallelujah,” and Finnish magazines are publishing cut-out Lordi monster masks that children can wear at school.

The next time I run across something that I would ordinarily call “total schlock,” I’m going to describe it as “Finnish quality work.”

Tabbouleh a la Jefe

July 16th, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

At what point in the modification of a tabbouleh recipe does the result cease to be tabbouleh and become, instead, an anonymous bulgur salad? It’s a tricky ontological question, and I don’t claim to have an answer. All I know is that I started with the tabbouleh recipe from The Joy of Cooking and arrived at the following, and that it makes an excellent light supper for four on a warm summer night.

  • 1 cup medium bulgur
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 small cucumber, seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley sprigs (about 2 cups), finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh mint sprigs (about 1 packed cup), finely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded, separated into leaves, washed, and dried

Combine the bulgur and boiling water in a large bowl. Cover with a plate and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain in a sieve, then rinse under cool water. Press the bulgur with the back of a spoon to remove the excess moisture. Return the bulgur to the bowl, then add the bell pepper, cucumber, parsley, mint, and onion.

Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, sumac, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk them together, then add them to the bulgur and toss to coat. Add the feta and stir gently. Serve the salad with romaine lettuce leaves; use the leaves to scoop up the salad.

A combination of hard power and…splendor in the bath

July 1st, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

A photo shows two pages of the New York Times Magazine. The left page shows an introduction to an article in large type: 'In the year singe the July 7 bus and subway terror attacks, Tony Blair's government has tried a combination of hard power and...' The right page shows the beginning of an advertising section titled 'Splendor in the Bath.'

The June 25, 2006, New York Times Sunday Magazine included this unfortunate juxtaposition of journalism and advertising.


June 18th, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

In the past two weeks, three of my friends have told me that they saw an almost-exact double of me somewhere in San Francisco. I have no idea what to make of this trend. Do I have a heretofore undisclosed identical twin who lives nearby? Is the Bay Area converging upon some sort of Hipster Event Horizon, at which all middle-class, twenty-something, skinny white males take on a single appearance? And is Wikipedia correct to say that these doppelgänger sightings may “bring bad luck, or indicate an approaching illness or health problem”?

My best guess is that San Francisco was hosting a convention of Louis Theroux impersonators.

All-natural smackdown

June 6th, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

From a Michael Pollan article about eating wisely, I bring you my new favorite out-of-context quotation: “Culture in this case is just a fancy way of saying ‘your mom.’”

Coming up for air

April 19th, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

Hi, everyone. I’ve been working ten to twelve hours a day, nearly every day, for the past month. That’s why I haven’t been returning phone calls or emails.

My ridiculous work schedule will improve soon, I think, at which time I look forward to hanging out with all of you again. Until then, please accept this pathetic apology.

Where am I?

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