Monthly Archives: April 2008

Introducing Benedict’s!

The Intro to Culinary Arts course I’m in has a final lab practical, where me and a group of three other “chefs” have to prepare a six course meal for the teaching staff. As part of that exam, we’re expected to provide a dinner menu “like what you would get in a restaurant.”

Somehow my menu planning got out of control, and I decided to not only name our restaurant when making the menu, but also to do up a Benedict’s website, complete with company history and restaurant recipes. This is all really ridiculous, because it’s quite likely that the teaching staff won’t even see the URL on the menu.

It’s pretty good so far, but I’d really welcome suggestions. In particular:

  • What do you think of the menu descriptions? I’d love to hear some over-the-top humorous suggestions, particularly if they fall into our theme.
  • Is the theme clear?
  • We need a logo. Any ideas?
  • Any suggestions for news posts I could put on the “home” page?
  • The Recipes are still in progress.
  • Any other ideas are welcome!

My practical is this Wednesday at 5:00 PM.


Posted by on April 28, 2008 in Entertainment


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What a Waste of a Primary

The Daily Show seems to have portrayed the demographic game perfectly in this clip. The interviewees they show are clearly not cool which being politically profiled, and the piece is a nice tongue-in-cheek way of looking at something I was complaining about early this season.

Link via Feministing.

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Posted by on April 28, 2008 in Entertainment


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Abortion Used as Art

I am terrified by this story, not to mention the inevitable backlash (from both pro-life and pro-choice groups) that it will create. I saw the story at Feministe, and a couple of the commenters there are convinced that it’s a hoax, but the Telegraph in the UK has already picked it up, and it seems to be gaining momentum rapidly elsewhere. I don’t know if what the student did in her project is medically feasible, and it sounds like she offered little supporting evidence (I do not suspect she is expected to provide such evidence for an art project, particularly for one as private as this).

Update: This has been reported to be a piece of performance art (i.e. hoax) by the Yale Office of Public Affairs. From the website:

Statement by Helaine S. Klasky — Yale University, Spokesperson
New Haven, Conn. — April 17, 2008

Ms. Shvarts is engaged in performance art. Her art project includes visual representations, a press release and other narrative materials. She stated to three senior Yale University officials today, including two deans, that she did not impregnate herself and that she did not induce any miscarriages. The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman’s body.

She is an artist and has the right to express herself through performance art.

Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.


Update (4/18): A new post on the Yale Daily News site quotes Shvarts (the artist) saying that the university misrepresented her. From the piece:

But Shvarts reiterated Thursday that she repeatedly use a needleless syringe to insert semen into herself. At the end of her menstrual cycle, she took abortifacient herbs to induce bleeding, she said. She said she does not know whether or not she was ever pregnant.

“No one can say with 100-percent certainty that anything in the piece did or did not happen,” Shvarts said, “because the nature of the piece is that it did not consist of certainties.”

So now we’re back to a more disturbing, yet more ambiguous, scenario.

Update (4/21): There’s an interesting series of statements from the Yale Office of public affairs.  Apparently the administration wants a more unambiguous statement of what went into the project if the student is going to present it.  I think this is a good move.  Shvarts wants to provoke discussion, and I see value in that, but right now nobody knows exactly what they should be discussing, nor will they unless she settles down on exactly what her project entailed.


Posted by on April 17, 2008 in Alchemy


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Just a Taste

I’ve been taking a 14 week Intro to Culinary Arts class for fun, and it’s been… delicious. So far, I’ve consistently forgotten to bring my camera in to record the finished products every week, but I couldn’t resist snapping a cell-phone shot of the braised lamb shanks we made recently.

They *really* look like legs before you cook them.

Our side dishes that night: Whipped potatoes with rutabaga, and French-style peas.

Other main courses served that night: Vegetarian Chili, Braised Moroccan-Style Chicken, Ragu Blognese, Osso Buco, Choucroute, Duck, Oyster & Artichoke Gumbo, Cioppino.


Posted by on April 14, 2008 in Entertainment, Photos


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Just got back from the sold out New Pornographers show downtown. Okerville River (the opening band) alone was worth more than the price of admission. The Pornographers closed with a cover of “Don’t Bring me Down” by the Electric Light Orchestra, and “The Slow Descent into Alcoholism” (which is fantastic live). Neko Case and Kathryn Caller have the voices of angels (and Neko was even suffering from a cold). “The Bleeding Heart Show” brought tears to my eyes. Carl Newman’s vocals are hypnotizing. It’s probably for the best that they didn’t play “Electric Version”, because I’m sure I would have shouted something about playing Rockband in my boxers. That would have just been awkward.

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Posted by on April 13, 2008 in Entertainment


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My Feminist Identity

Jessica Valenti opened her talk tonight by asking the feminists in the audience to raise their hands, and I froze.  I take the classes, I read the books, I try to monitor the research, and I obsess over the blogs.  I know what a feminist looks like.  I’m a feminist.

But I didn’t raise my hand. 

Initially I figured that her question had caught me off guard, and I just hadn’t reacted quickly enough.  That seemed like a proper excuse.  But I don’t think Jessica, the Executive Editor of, and author of Full Frontal Feminism, would let me get away with that.  I don’t think I should let myself get away with it. 

I kept my hand down because I was embarassed.  It’s the same reason that I’m careful not to talk about Feminist Studies courses with most people.   I get sick of hearing “Why are you taking that ?”, or of pretending to ignore the wisecracks about how I must be trying to get laid.  When I get that response, my stomach shrinks, my neck goes frigid, and I find myself backpedalling, and explaining why I find value in learning about giving everyone equal rights, opportunities, and control of their bodies.  I’ve conditioned myself into avoiding talking about a large part of my interests, just to avoid the haters and the stereotypes.

FUNK THAT.  I’m sitting at my computer, raising my hand right now.  And I’m not going to back down next time someone asks me if I’m a feminist.


Posted by on April 10, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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Sub 40 Minutes in Sub 60 Weather

I’ve been planning to write a post about winter running for a while now. However, last I checked, spring has officially started, so it seems like the time to comment on my winter running experience has passed. Long story short: I ran about 20 miles per week for the whole winter. I also had a bit of success in indoor track meets. Overall, it feels awesome to be entering April having run for the past 5 months, rather than starting from scratch as usual.

Today, I ran a local 10K. Since I didn’t do many runs longer than 4 miles over the winter, I saw the race as a long tempo run. Toeing the line just before 10:30 this morning in beautiful 50 degree weather, I decided to run without my watch, and just see what I could do with a consistent push.

The first 5K was great. I was able to keep a decent pace without tiring myself out too much. Another runner I know caught up to me and we worked off each other a lot. When we came to the 5K turnaround, they called out that my split was 19:46.

19:46 was great, but it also presented a problem. I’ve never run a sub 40-minute 10K (it’s possible that I ran one in high school, but I think I only ran one 10K back then, and I don’t remember the time). In fact, I can’t remember the last time I ran sub 44. So, I was presented with this fortuitous and spur-of-the-moment opportunity to run sub 40 here, and that meant that the second half of the race was going to get pretty hard. Almost immediately I felt like I was hitting a wall. Luckily the way back to the finish was net-(gradual)-downhill. By focusing on taking quick strides and just pushing as much as possible, I was able to get back and finish in 39:01 (a negative split!). This is a good start to the warm season; I normally start the summer with a 2-month period of getting back in shape, but now I get to enjoy working off of a decent base. Woo!


Posted by on April 6, 2008 in No Easy Days


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Bill Nye Photos

Here are a couple of the photos from the breakfast I mentioned.



More recently, our class had a media training workshop where we practiced constructing clear messages, using sound bites, and performing camera interviews. It’s sort of terrifying to be on camera speaking as an ‘expert’ about something that in reality you don’t feel that confident about.

We watched a number of examples of good and bad interviews. One excellent example of what not to do came from an interview of Bob Dole by Katie Couric during the 1996 presidential election (sorry, I can’t find a video of it). Dole was downright combative rather than focusing on the issues that were important to him. But it’s tough. I’d probably blow up at a reporter who accused me of anything, too.

I think I could do a good job as the journalist too, though. I like asking questions and being critical of the responses (in a constructive way, of course). I like listening. Maybe there’s a career in sci-comm or policy for me after all.


Posted by on April 4, 2008 in Alchemy, Photos


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New Housemate

My Weighted Companion Cube moved in last week. After showing it around town we took some photos together. Here, it’s debating whether or not to go sledding in the last snowfall of the year (fingers crossed!).

Weighted Companion Cube playing in the snow.

Sadly, in the end, it chickened out. We went to my office for a bit, and it decided to read while I was getting my work done. It seems to have a huge interest in momentum, heat, and mass transfer. For some reason, it keeps asking me about conservation of momentum.

Weighted Companion Cube, reading Welty, Wicks, and Wilson.

I tried to explain the Cauchy momentum equation, but it’s been sooo long since I thought about that stuff. We did have a productive convo about the most efficient way to cool high-powered Disk Operating Systems running Genetic algorithms.

Later, I caught Weighted Companion Cube playing Portal.

My Weighted Companion Cube, euthanizing itself.

I think it’s about to euthanize itself. This is so meta.


Posted by on April 1, 2008 in Entertainment, Photos


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