My four things

Ok, this has been going around for a while now, and Jason's tagged me, so I'll go:

Four jobs I've had:
1. Pie baker
2. Ice cream maker
3. Management consultant
4. Canoeing counselor at girls summer camp in VT (I worked very hard on my tan that summer)

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. Old School
2. Office Space
3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (KAHN!!!!!!)
4. Ocean's Eleven

Four places I've lived:
1. Buffalo NY
2. San Francisco
3. Cuernavaca Mexico
4. Nearly every neighborhood in "Boston", including Somerville, Medford, the Back Bay, JP, Brookline…

Four Two TV shows I love:
1. American Experience (PBS)
2. Six Feet Under

I really don't watch that much TV. I used to like Seinfeld, but that was a long time ago…

Four places I've vacationed:
1. Kauai Hawaii
2. Nantucket MA
3. Winter Park CO
4. Zipolite Mexico

Five of my favorite dishes:
1. Bread pudding
2. Potato pancakes
3. Lasagne (no meat, no veggies, just cheese, noodles, and sauce)
4. Thomas Keller's torchon of foie gras
5. Nantucket bay scallops

This list is ridiculously short! Five dishes? I could go on to twenty-five, np!

Four sites I visit daily:
2. Yahoo! most popular

Five places I would rather be right now:
1. Someplace I've never been, like Italy or New Zealand
2. Jogging through Sanford Farm and Ram Pasture on Nantucket
3. Paris (of course!)
4. Vermont, skiing at Mad River
5. The moon

Four bloggers I am tagging:
1. My running amigo DJ
2. My mom
3. G-Trap
4. You! If you feel like doing this, go for it!

Take that Kottke! "too old school" my ass!

On to 2006

As 2005 winds down its final ten hours for me here in Northern Vermont, I am both happy and sad to bid it adieu. The 2000s in general have been very difficult years, and 2005 didn't prove to be any different, except perhaps in its extremes. Some of the lowest lows ever and some of the highest highs to be had in a lifetime. It was definitely a year of transition, which perhaps is appropriate as we slide well into the second half of the decade. Good, bad, and ugly, life is rolling on. Matt Haughey, from his recent musings on Advice, had a wonderful quote:

[M]aybe life isn't a journey to uncover new truths in far off places, but instead to simply gain enough experience to understand what is all around you, all the time.

Indeed. I am looking forward: to 2006 and to life's journey, to all its ups and downs, adventures and changes; to being a year older (tomorrow!) and a year wiser (hopefully!); to gaining more experience and understanding and to observing the close-by truths all around me, all the time. Happy New Year!

A bout of hair confidence at the gym

I went to the gym for the first time yesterday. Since I'm used to working out on my own by basically just running outdoors, I wasn't feeling very confident about my "outfit" for my new scene, especially my hair. I've been growing it out for over a year now and it's reached a state I can only call "mushroom-shaped frazzled frizz." As I walked over to the gym, I told myself that it didn't matter, that it was about working out, not looking good, etc. etc. Still, I felt as awkward as the first day of high school.

In the locker room I stood at the mirror, fretting about the pathetic little pony tail I could manage, pinning up stray hairs with bobby pins, trying not to look at the other women with their great restrained luscious head of hair. Then I noticed the woman next to me, pushing her headband into place. She was sporting not one, not two, but three pony tails. Two were down low near the nape of her neck. And her shorter hair that wouldn't reach? That same hair I was affixing with pins? She simply made a third pony tail on the top of her head, a fountain of hair gushing up from her skull, and held the strays back with a jaunty terry headband. I watched as she headed out of the locker room, tri-ponies bobbing in the gym breeze. I smiled to myself, realized I had nothing to worry about, and headed out after her.

Remembering November in Paris

Empty chairsIt is hard to believe that three years ago today, Jason and I landed in Paris for a month-long visit between our move from San Francisco to New York. [Insert "time flies" regrets here]. I looked through my posts from November 2002 and memories of the trip came flooding back to me: eating warm chestnuts while walking along the Rue de Rivoli (and discovering I didn't much care for them and then throwing half the bag in the trash bin), having my first successful "conversations" in French at the BHV, mixing warm milk with melted chocolate to create the most delightful hot chocolates ever tasted, and just walking the streets and parks as the dried leaves rustled beneath our feet. And oh, those pain au chocolat sold at the boulangerie across from our apartment: nearly every morning they were warm when we purchased them, oozing chocolate from their crisp buttery folds straight into our mouths!

Snowy snow snow snow!

I opened my eyes this morning and looked out the window. Snow! It was snowing outside and the tall evergreens outside my windows were covered in white frosting! I leaped out of bed and ran to the window, waking Jason in the process with my spazzy movements and excited exclamations, "It's snowing outside! And it's sticking!!" Then I threw on some clothes, grabbed my camera, ran outside, and took some photos.

First snow Snowy detail #1 Snowy detail #2

There's something about the first snow that's still as magical as when I was a kid.

A facility for language?

Something has happened to my language skills and by something I mean they've begun a precipitous decline. Occasionally I use a similar, but incorrect, word when speaking, e.g once I used "disposed" instead of "deposed" to refer to a Latin American leader, an error which, at the time, I attributed to the fact that I lived in Mexico and rarely spoke English. But now this mixing-up seems to be worsening! And fast!

Yesterday while walking with a friend and discussing some serious blisters on my baby toe, I joked that it would fall off and I'd "regurgitate" a new one. Today when I was asked for permission to use one of my photos on Flickr, I mentioned to Jason that I'd allow it, but only if I got "retribution."

Regurgitate, regenerate. Retribution, attribution. What's the difference, really? By this time tomorrow, I might not be making any sense whatsoever when I speak.

How to not make your girlfriend feel good

Today after the WABC Father's Day Fight Against Prostate Cancer 5 mile race in Central Park, New York City:

Him: So how'd you do?
Me: Not too badly. I ran about nine and a half minute miles. I don't know though, it seems like I should be able to go faster than that.
Him: Yeah, I watched the eight minute milers and they don't look that different from you.
Me: Yeah, sometimes people pass me and I see them and think, I should be able to go that fast.
Him: Yeah, like this guy today. He was doing six minute miles, and he was in his sixties. And he was flying! And he only had one arm!
Me: [silent]

When you’re beyond nouveau riche

Ever since I read this article, Old Nantucket Warily Meets the New, the other day, the term "hyper-rich" has been rolling off my tongue. It's only fitting since I'm on Nantucket right now and signs of the hyper-rich abound — such as the Hummer loaded for a beach assault with stacks of beach chairs and fishing rods on its roof and a cooler mounted to its front grill. During a visit to France, a friend told me that the kids were using "hyper" and "giga" (pronounced with French accents, of course) as superlatives, e.g. "hyper bon" for really really good. My mother knows this, so today as I told her how I keep using the term "hyper-rich", she proposed "hyper-riche" as an alternative. I plan to pronounce it as Frenchly as possible (eee-pear reesh) as the Hummers drive over me on their way to the beach.

Returning to tech? Sort of…

Last September I wrote an entry on this site, From geek to chef, announcing my transition into the world of cooking. I wrote, "[m]y interest in the web and tech was always more about people…But something was always missing, and I've realized that was true passion for what I was doing…" I spent the last few months of 2005 working in a restaurant, and I loved it. But in January I moved to New Hampshire and my schedule became more hectic, too hectic to take another kitchen job.

Working in a kitchen is a full-time commitment, and by full-time I mean 9+ hours a day, six or seven days a week. And as much as I love cooking, I still love other things too, including technology. The more time I spent away, the more I realized that perhaps my lack of "true passion" was a lot of burn-out. I knew I was suffering from some burn-out, but wow, I think I was WAY WAY more burned-out than I ever realized.

In early February I spoke on a women entrepreneurs panel at NYU's Stern School of Business, and I recalled how much I enjoyed creating companies. Then I traveled to Munich, where I was invited to speak about weblogs and met all kinds of smart and wonderful people. And then I headed to San Diego for the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, and my interest in all sorts of new and geeky things was piqued.

Since then I've attended two more technology conferences and many people have asked me, "What happened to the cooking? Are you back to doing tech?" and I realized I had been very open and clear about departing the tech world, and very unclear about whether I was returning to it.

Since I wrote From geek to chef, it's become clear to me that my interests are varied not only within the sphere of technology, but outside it as well. I love to write; I love to cook and work in kitchens; I love programming and fiddling and inventing; I love building things, from sauces and meals to applications to teams and whole companies; I love traveling and speaking and meeting new people; I love going a hundred miles an hour doing a hundred different things. So I'm going to refrain from making absolute statements like, "I'm done with tech!" or "I'm done with cooking!" and instead say only that I will pursue things that interest me for as long as they continue to do so.

Right now that means: speak at conferences; cook as much as possible in my own kitchen; continue to learn as much as I can about food and its history (e.g. The Food of France by Waverly Root); learn Ruby and play with Ajax and build more little web apps; consult and guide people around issues that matter greatly to me, such as the role of women in technology. Most importantly, I will remind myself that it's OK to change your mind, and it's OK to change it again.

A total French spazz!

If you've met me in person, you know I'm quite the gesticulator when I speak. And I also have a strange tendency — which my brother has as well, so I can only imagine it's something we developed as children — to make sound effects to accompany my actions. For example, if you and I are walking towards each other in a narrow hallway, and I skirt to the side to avoid a collision, I will also utter, "yurreeek," or some sound to approximate a skid and/or close call.

While in Paris, I added a whistle to my communication style to indicate something that I didn't have the vocabulary to express in French. For example, I'd be saying, "And then I went…" and with my hand I'll make an up-and-down-and-over-the-hill motion, and I'd make a long whistle sound to accompany it. Or if I wanted to say, "He had to go," I'd simply say, "He" and then shoot my hand out to the right and make a short whistle sound.

While this was very effective in making myself understood when French failed me, I've discovered it's permeated my English interactions as well! So now I'm eeking and whistling not matter who I'm talking to or what I'm saying. Truly I'm becoming a human beat box. Or a crazy lunatic. You decide.