Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We Are The Village Green(s) Preservation Society

Part One: To Dry

It was almost exactly one year ago to the day that Jane and I set about transforming our kitchen into a vast pickling operation, slicing ripe and ready cukes and embalming them with a wicked vinegar/salt/dill/pepper/clove brew (details shared here). Twelve months on, we're still enjoying them and have several jars still safely brining.

Continuing this stroll into the past, one of my recent posts concerned my desire to allow food items to drift into their natural state of rot - a manifesto of sorts on the virtue of decay and one kind of sustainability. So, why not continue this train of thought and examine two additional methods used in coaxing green materials to extend their life and general usefulness - namely, the art of drying and the art of preserving.

Now comfortably settled into our new place of residence a few miles inland, our front and back yards have begun offering up the bounty promised us by our landlord when we first eyed the place in early winter 2009. Any number of fruit trees have started producing rapidly ripening produce, their branches nearly sagging due to the weight. We aren't the only ones noticing the upcoming harvest, though. Neighborhood squirrels have moved their chattering battalions into enemy territory, and one particularly beautiful-yet-not-quite-ripe peach has gone down in masticated defeat. It was time to bring on the offensive and declare fruit-picking season.

However, one can only consume so many nectarines in one sitting, as my wife well knows from several memorable and uncomfortable childhood encounters. Likewise, perfectly ripened fruit, once off the branch, tends to move too rapidly into that realm of rot I've been loudly praising. So there we were, with a bushel or a peck of nectarines quickly inching past their prime.

The answer, we agreed, lay in dehydration, or, more poetically, food drying. Lacking appropriate equipment, Jane looked about various San Diego merchants before concluding that food drying ranked astonishingly low on the list of Things To Do In San Diego Before You Die. Tanning booths, tattoo parlors, real estate opportunities, dog walking operations - they proliferate in this tacky, migratory land. But a simple contraption for drying sliced fruit, picked herbs or fresh fish? Take that back-to-the-land crap, well, back to the land.

While we by no means exhausted the local opportunities for food dehydrators (I'm guessing Escondido's Country Store had one), it was left up to the good folks of the Walla Walla Valley in eastern Washington to plug this particular gap. Passing through during my road trip to points north, my mother-in-law calmly pointed me in the direction of food dehydrators at a local Bi-Mart, assuring me they were as common and as easy to find as chapstick and AA batteries in this agricultural region bisected by Mormon and Seventh Day Adventist communities. It was packed into the back seat and bumped along 395 towards home.


It was a remarkably simple operation. The nectarines were sliced as the dehydrator was assembled....




....and individual slices were placed in concentric rings along the plastic rack.




Soon, one level was filled.....




...so we moved on to another.....


....before turning the heat up and covering with the lid.



And how's this for being detail-oriented? The cast-offs and non-sliced nectarine chunks were gathered up and placed inside a food processor to be whizzed into a thick fruit paste....

....and poured into an additional rack to create a small piece of fruit leather (fleather?).


The little guy chugged along, surprisingly quiet, throughout the night. Next morning, I dismantled the racks and found a nice haul of dried nectarines.







Take that, squirrels.
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Part Two: To Preserve
The flip side to drying, one might argue, is pickling and/or preserving. We've been down this road before, too, but armed with a newly-purchased book by Pam Corbin called The River Cottage Preserves Handbook inspired us to venture beyond the ways of grape jelly (the fact that we left our concord grape vines behind us in Ocean Beach might be another reason). Corbin's recipes are distinctly British, and while certain recipes may be a little out of our reach (hedgerow jelly, for example), the English mastery of preserves and pickles was inspiring. Having never tried our hand at marmalade, the several variations outlined in the book led me to eye our small yet astonishingly productive lemon tree just outside the kitchen door. As an added bonus, citrus fruits come ready-packed with natural pectin, so we wouldn't need to thicken the batch with any store-bought packets. And with plenty of sugar in the pantry and just enough honey to complete the recipe, we could create 7 jars of marmalade without spending a dime.
So, I made the arduous trek to the lemon tree (limoncello tree, to be exact)....



...and weighed 2 1/4 pounds exactly.



We chose the "whole fruit approach" for our marmalade, merely slicing off the little top nubbins and giving the lemons a good scrub before placing them whole inside a boiling pot of water for nearly two hours, until the fruit was soft enough to be easily punctured by fork tines.


This might be the time to bore you with a brief history / semantics lesson. "Marmalade" is a specific English term for any food preservation efforts utilizing citrus. Other fruits are labeled jams (fruit pulp) or jellies (thickened juice only), which is why we speak of, say, strawberry jam but grapefruit marmalade. The iconic British jar of orange marmalade, made from bitter Seville oranges, is actually a Scottish invention dubbed "Dundee Marmalade," hailing from the northeast coast of Scotland in the late eighteenth century. Prior to this time, "marmalade" referred to a type of quince-based candy. In 1770, so the story goes, a man named James Keiller bought a large amount of oranges being sold at surprisingly cheap prices, thinking to make an easy profit through his own business. What he discovered was that the oranges had been sold cheaply due to their remarkable bitterness, which left them nearly inedible. It was Keiller's wife who suggested turning the bitter oranges into a quince-like marmalade, which the Keiller Company stills does to this day, with many variations on the original. Which means we owe our morning dollop of bittersweet orange marmalade to Mrs. Keillor's belief that one should "waste neither oranges nor money".
If seville oranges are bitter, so are lemons, which is why the recipe works rather interchangeably, save for the addition of honey at the expense of two of the ten cups of sugar required.





The lemons were removed and allowed to cool before being sliced and removing the seeds. Sugar and honey was added and the concoction was brought to the requisite rolling boil.





After ten minutes or so, we began testing to see if our brew had reached the setting point - the period in which the sugars, fruit and pectin have begun to coalesce into a thicker substance once the sample has cooled. This can be somewhat tricky to determine.

However, we were soon satisfied by the setting point, and began to ladle the fruit into sterilized canning jars.....


...and carefully prepping them for no-holds-barred preservation.



After a quick bath in boiling water, the jars were removed to cool on a towel, and we soon heard that sound beloved by all home preservers - the thwuck of the jars sealing themselves. It never gets old.

We had a little left over that didn't make it into the jars, so we've been sampling that over the past few days, spreading it inside crepes, dolloping it on top of Greek yogurt, or simply eating it, British-style, from the spoon. Seven jars, good for two years. The art of preservation lives on.
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Bonus: footage of the moment of thwuck.

video

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Bookish Pacific NorthWest

San Diego might just be the worst major city in these United States for book lovers. I haven't visited San Antonio, Houston or Dallas, so perhaps Texas might trump my glittering city on the Pacific (and I suspect Phoenix is probably even worse, but since I don't actually consider Phoenix to be a major city, I've left them out of the equation), but I'm just going to whine in my chains and be frank. Warwick's up in La Jolla is a decent store, with an especially nice selection of Taschen releases and pricey coffee table books, but it's far from being especially notable (plenty of towns with populations under 50,000 in the Midwest boast similar stores). Hillcrest has two used bookstores across the same street from each other that are noteworthy, although BlueStocking Books is the only one I really frequent. And aside from a few others scattered across our sprawling urban core, I think that's pretty much it. I'm not including Borders or Barnes and Noble, temples to kitsch and overpriced bran muffins. Perhaps it's due to a four month stint I did at an Albany, NY Borders store, but I like to think of that place as where book lovers go to have a good cry.

There's always Amazon, of course, but I'm the type of guy addicted to the art of the browse, where one accidentally stumbles across some item or two (or five) that one didn't even know existed but that suddenly deserves a place on the bookshelf. Browsing is a dangerous art, especially for those like me who refuse any effort at labelling, pigeonholing or specialization. Marxist thought? 1970s T-shirt design? Food dehydrating? Serbian literature? Hell, yes.

So, when my road travels take me north of the Bay Area, I always set aside some car space and bank account funds for stocking up on the great world of literature supported by the good folks of Northern California, Oregon and Washington, the non-sun people who recognize a good cup of joe, a solid pint of beer and a world-class non-chain bookstore when they see one. I missed San Francisco this time around (sorry, City Lights!) to make a stop in Sacramento, but from Corvallis, OR on, it was bookworm time. At the risk of simply compiling a shopping list from my week in the NW, I thought I'd make a quick inventory and celebrate three fantastic businesses helping to keep literacy alive and functioning in the drizzly parts of this great land.

Left Bank Books, Seattle

Mere steps from Pike Place Market, this slightly cramped, two-story anarchist bookstore carries items ranging from classic fiction to small-run political theory screeds printed on thrice-recycled wood pulp. I make a beeline for it whenever I'm in the area. Excellent choices abound along their new releases/arrivals shelf, but the entire store is a blast for browsing. I twice ducked inside during this recent visit, and helped liberate the following items....

Los Angeles; The Architecture of Four Ecologies, by Reyner Banham (epochal 1971 study of the built environment of L.A., including explorations of the four distinct "ecologies" of the region - beach, freeways, flatlands and foothills)

Climate Refugees, by Collectif Argos (examines nine population centers in which global climate change is disturbing and will disturb local livelihoods)

The Literary Conference, by Cesar Aira (tiny pocketbook fiction from Argentinian author, examining a translator fallen on hard times seeking global domination through a clone of Mexican author Carlos Fuentes. I'm not quite sure I get it either)

The Coming Insurrection, by The Invisible Committee (notorious textual statement from French ultra-left group, eventually seized as evidence in terrorism trial. Pen mightier than the sword and all that)

Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure (over sized children's book featuring cut-paper illustrations helping to explain growing seasons and counsel patience for blooms)


Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle

Having pulled up stakes from its old location in Pioneer Square, I finally tracked down the new Elliot Bay Book Company high above in Capitol Hill, and although the walk was rather far from my hotel, I admit the new location seems better suited for the business, nestled in among coffee shops, hip record stores, and the constant foot traffic from the nearby community college. While parts of the store remain under construction, it retains the same multi-level, pleasantly-wooded layout that has made it such a favorite. After such a long walk, I decided to go to town.

The Book of Fathers, by Miklos Vamos (most accomplished novel of this contemporary Hungarian writer, chronicling 300 years and 12 generations of his fellow countrymen)

Desert America; Territory of Paradox, by Actar Press (photo-heavy exploration of "the alternate American desert" of a supposedly empty territory turned over to visions of excess (Las Vegas), the sublime (Grand Canyon) and technological apex (weapons research) - a heady fever dream of our most least understood landscape)

Wall and Piece, by Banksy ("portfolio" of sorts of one of our greatest living artists, who just happens to work in the realm of graffiti and public walls, and who lists the amount of time each artwork lasts before being dismantled or painted over by the authorities. Tremendous stuff)

Bookhunter, by Shiga (graphic novel detailing the adventures of a book detective/bounty hunter employed by the Oakland Public Library. All librarians deserve a copy)

Hocus Bogus, by Romain Gary writing as Emile Ajar (new translation of playful meta-fictional work by a late French master working under a pseudonym)

Ten Walks / Two Talks, by Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch (tiny poem book that re-imagines the journals of Japanese poet Basho as two men exploring the landscape of 21st century Manhattan)

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (compact yet hefty collection of contemporary short story master Davis, who often requires little more than a few sentences to construct her tales)

Skylark, by Dezso Kosztolanyi (obscure 1920s novel from the former Austro-Hungarian empire, detailing how the parents of "unintelligent, unimaginative, unattractive and unmarried" daughter Skylark discover themselves when she leaves for a one week vacation)

The Book of Ebenezer La Page, by G.B. Edwards (only published novel by British civil servant, released posthumously, examining the memories of a man willingly exiled to the Isle of Guernsey, thereby becoming neither a part of Britain or France but something in between)

The Giant Jam Sandwich, by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway (wonderful 1970s children book I recall well from Neenah Public Library days, in which an infestation of mosquitoes leads a small village to create a sticky trap of jam and bread)

Slow Loris, by Alexis Deacon (uproarious children's book of a zoo-dwelling slow loris (primitive member of the primate family) who bores visitors with sloth-like activity but achieves astonishing heights of activity come nightfall)


Powell's City of Books, Portland

Last, certainly not least, P-Town's monument to all things bound and printed, visited twice during our less-than-twenty-four-hour stay in America's most European city. On my second visit, determined to merely browse, I left my wallet safe in the hotel room - a fail safe plan.

Poem Strip, Dino Buzzati (groundbreaking 1960s graphic novel from uncategorizable Italian avant-grade artist and writer, a visionary tour of a make-believe street in Milan)

The One-Straw Revolution, by Masanobu Fukuoka (1970s Japanese rejection of modernized agribusiness from a farmer/intellectual credited as an early spokesperson for the alternative food movement)

Nox, by Anne Carson (book-object poem-thingy, made from an original art work created after the death of Carson's brother - photos, cuttings, scraps, dissections of Catullus' Poem No. 101, all in folding-out accordion paper)

Bonsai, by Alejandro Zambra (Chilean novella, of love occurring between two people, one of whom vanishes, the other of whom pretends to edit a book that doesn't exist. Latin American lit - the wave of the future)

Another Science Fiction; Advertising the Space Race 1957-1962, by Megan Prelinger (glorious visual tour through American ad design pushing the limits of science and presenting the farthest reaches of space and the unknown as just another zone ready for Yankee can-do optimism and real estate ventures)

Roadside America; Architectural Relics from a Vanishing Past, by John Margolies (typically lovely Taschen art book featuring the photographs from the vast Margolies collection, of the over sized kitsch and architectural quirks sprinkled along the nation's many byways. Some I've even seen myself)

The River Cottage Preserves Handbook; The Dehydrator Cookbook; Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving; The Fruit Expert; Fruit Trees/Fresh Berries (self-explanatory, and much-needed)

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Careful readers may have noticed the presence of several children's books scattered throughout my selections of Latin American fiction and political theory. While this has absolutely nothing to do with my recent coursework in Youth Services and Programming (far from it), it does have everything to do with an upcoming event I'm only recently beginning to announce and that will hopefully arrive sometime in the middle of December 2010. It may be somewhat early to start collecting children's books so many months out, but I'd like to be ready. If you think I'll be relying on television programs to sharpen young minds and teach vocabulary, you've been reading the wrong blog. Onward we go.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

To Rot and To Thrive



"From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity."
-Edvard Munch
As I'm a bit young to remember the Exxon Valdez in unfolding detail, the current disaster spiraling out of control in the Gulf of Mexico has the feel of something nearly biblical in scope, and decidedly Old Testament at that. My horror at the greed and incompetence of the responsible parties has morphed into an outrage at forty-six uninterrupted days of criminal acts being visited upon the residents of the Gulf Coast. The mass slaughter taking place against the backdrop of one of the country's richest ecosystems is stupefying, and as our hapless government fumbles turf rights and places calls to James Cameron for help, I find my nausea rising to an almost unbearable degree. I'm rarely one for populism, but I wouldn't mind seeing the board members of BP drenched in congealed petroleum and run through the streets of Mobile on rails.
I suspect that these emotions have been heightened due to my recent proximity to the more natural elements available to twenty-first century urban dwelling Americans. Despite moving from the beach and closer to the urban center of San Diego, our new location has provided us the opportunity to live among carefully-tended fruit and citrus trees, circling our respectable back yard and flanking the front. In addition, my wife and I have turned our shared disdain for suburban lawns into an opportunity to carve three garden plots from the backyard, thereby maximizing the hours of direct sunlight we receive.
We don't live in the country by any means. Rather, our sheltered back yard has something of the feel of the prototypical English garden - a small patch of green to brighten and soften the thumbprint of civilization. Early mornings, while the shade still looms large over the yard, I try and sit low to the ground on a sloping chair to read, enjoy the bird songs and keep one wary eye open for trespassing weeds. Staying level to low-hanging blossoms and high grass blades does something good for the mind and the soul. With the smell of wet soil from overnight dews and the insistent calls of hummingbirds in the air, this place is quickly becoming a haven from the outside rush of Southern California.
If witnessing the slow growth of apples, plums and nectarines helps assure me of the constant progress taking place every day when green matter is left to fend for itself, the steady rot of other green and brown materials into rich earth suggests the ways in which progress can also move backwards. And this is when we arrive at the glory of compost.
My grandfather tended several large compost bins on his sprawling property in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and I remember being quite impressed with the fact that he could add any number of grass clippings and food items into the mix (I was often tasked with tossing egg shells into the bins, so much so that to this day I automatically equate composting with cracked egg shells). When we decided to join a local CSA and begin receiving weekly farm boxes of produce, the rapidly accumulating volumes of discarded carrot tops, beet tails and browning lettuce edges convinced us it was time to make the move towards controlled decay.
Rather than invest in a shiny new compost bin, I made a quick trip to the hardware store and concocted my own using a basic plastic garbage can, with holes poked into the sides for air circulation and the bottom sawed off completely. Into the bin went our scraps.


That was in July of 2008. In the nearly two years since, we've added what must have been barrels worth of natural waste, trimmings and clippings into this average-sized can. Aside from a few heaping shovelfuls here and there for gardening purposes, little has been removed. And yet the can has never threatened to spill over the lid, continually settling itself deeper and deeper into a murky mix of natural matter.
Clearly, I find this whole thing to be pretty awesome. And given the fact that we had nurtured our can of rot for almost two years, there was really little question of not trying to transport the compost to our new home this past February. Given the texture of the matter at hand and its insistent olfactory presence, moving our compost did require a bit more preparation and skill than, say, moving my reading chair. But with the help of a shovel, many plastic bags and a very good sport of a younger brother....


.....we did manage to ease the compost......



....scoop by scoop.....

.....into proper handling materials.....




....and from the damp air of Ocean Beach to the relatively drier mesa of University Heights.


After giving everybody a chance to settle into the new surroundings, I set about justifying the compost relocation by using several rich shovelfuls in the creation of three new garden plots in the back yard.





It may have much to do with the copious amounts of sunlight and the decided lack of damp, moldy ocean air, but I suspect our nutrient-rich compost has been an equally important factor in determining our garden's rapid growth and success.

To watch kitchen clippings and yard scraps darken, soften and rot, to allow fruits and grasses to naturally congeal, to turn once-firm items into gentle clumps of black matter, and to then return these materials into the ground in order to feed and bring forth clumps of heirloom tomatoes - well, this process is the absolute antithesis of corporate wide-scale exploitation of the earth. As our culture continues on its heedless path to degrade the land, air and water with non-biodegradable materials, and as we feed our collective jones for cheap and useless possessions by confusing plastics with natural resources, our land and our lives suffer. Succumbing to the addiction of organic matter is one small way out of the morass.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Since We Last Spoke......

Every generation or cultural milieu has their own set of cliches, and one of the more trite and predictable of the early 21st century must be the "blog-entry-serving-as-apology-for-not-blogging-in-quite-some-time". The wilds of the Internet are strewn with the decaying carcasses of calcified mommy blogs, rotting food blogs and hopelessly outdated political blogs. With online material boasting half-lives similar to something like carbon-14, our electronic diaries and paranoid musings will last far beyond the year or decade in which they were written, still capable of being accessed or Googled after the creator has passed on or the hotlinks have ceased functioning. As anybody who has ever trolled around the Internet can tell you, one needn't look hard to find any number of blogs featuring a months-old dateline along the top and some words echoing a basic variation on "well, I guess you're all wondering what happened to me".

I last made a blog entry near the end of January, and here we are in the first week of June. That's over four months of the blog being put on ice, which is a pretty long time to chill anything. However, I'm gladdened by the statistic offered up by the redoubtable Harper's Index, which notes that 94 percent of all existing blogs have not been updated in, you guessed it, four months. Which means I'm both in good company and not about to throw in the towel.

Fact is, I had plans to take a blog vacation for a few months as a series of events conspired to occupy the vast majority of my free time. In the most simplistic explanation, within the past few months, my wife and I moved into a new house, I continued working at a military medical library, and I completed my studies for a master's degree in library science via two large-scale graduation projects. During this time, I did very little reading, let alone writing. I'm happy to say that we are now comfortably situated in our new place in the University Heights/Hillcrest neighborhood, that my final grades have been turned in and processed, and that I am now ready to begin blogging again.

Yet, looking back over the late winter and spring, I find that any number of notable events have taken place that would have warranted a blog entry or two - events both personal and political, cultural controversies and memorable meals, sights seen and behavior observed. I may try and fill in some of these gaps as the summer progresses, but for now, a simple compendium of events should suffice.

In no particular order, etc. etc........

Since last putting pen to paper, I have :

---bid a fond farewell to J.D. Salinger, Alex Chilton, Herb Ellis, Malcolm McLaren, Guru, Lena Horne, Hank Jones, Art Linkletter, Dennis Hopper and Peter Orlovsky.

---spent literally nickles and dimes on various congealed clumps of matter designated "food" by the United States Navy, served in a cavernous and cheerless galley. After realizing I was actually looking forward to something called Taco Tuesday, I began relying more and more on pre-packed lunches for survival. Juice boxes returned to my life in a way they had not since first grade.

---purchased a bottle of 138 proof Grande Absente from a Long Beach BevMo' that has yet to be opened.

---sampled Koji kimchee quesadillas at Alibi in Culver City

---hit Koreatown with friends and tried my hand at Korean karaoke, which found me pulling off a game Mick Jagger imitation to "Brown Sugar" and a passable 50 Cent, the latter delivered from a supine position in a private karaoke booth.

---waved goodbye to the beach, to mold, to damp ocean air, and the ever-expanding pot fumes from the backyard trailer next door as we headed inland.

---dismounted a plasma television wall unit.

---tricked family members into coming out to San Diego to help us move to a new neighborhood on the cheap, paying them back mainly through food and visits to craft breweries.

---drove a 24 foot moving truck onto the major highways of the greater San Diego area - the 8, the 5, the 94 and the 15 - in both empty and fully loaded states for weighing purposes on truck scales out in the tumbleweed-strewn land of Mount Helix.

---transported multiple bags of year-old compost from Ocean Beach to University Heights in a desperate attempt to firm up our hippie credentials.

---started to walk to the weekly Hillcrest Farmer's Market and now carry our CSA farm box home by hand.

---stood, hands on hips, looking downward at a browning patch of lawn and wondering what course of action to take, thereby quietly becoming exactly what I hate.

---conducted a medical literature search on, among other things, California Sea Lion anaesthesia.

---personally shifted every single pre-1980 medical journal at the NMCSD Library from the main floor stacks to movable shelving units in the back, which I hope will soon be renamed "The Jason P. Gubbels Memorial Movable Shelving Units".

---become the proud owner of a hive of bees.

---subscribed to The New York Review of Books. Almost immediately began wondering how I'd survived without it for so long. Almost as immediately got into arguments with wife over whether or not I planned on keeping every issue I received and where they would be stored. Slowly realized that TNYROB was edging out time normally spent reading Lapham's Quarterly. Eventually concluded I was the most pretentious individual currently residing in the city of San Diego.

---rocked and rolled to the 7.2 - magnitude Easter earthquake that hit northern Baja and shook a wide swath of the West Coast.

---managed to keep alive the many fruit trees growing in our new backyard, including anna apples, weeping santa rosa plums, arctic fantasy nectarines, limoncellos, blood oranges, eversweet pomegranate, royal ranier cherries, kodota figs, brown turkey figs, green gage plums, satsumas, fuyu persimmons, loquats, pluots, peaches, strawberry guavas, and varieties of grape.

---dug up useless backyard grass in order to carve out garden plots, to be filled with chives, oregano, parsley, black beauty eggplant, burpless cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, sugar baby watermelons, habaneros, red chilis and poblanos, and five varieties of heirloom tomatoes (pineapple, Paul Robeson, green zebra, black brandywine and lemon boy).

---drank plenty of beer (both craft and crap), suitable amounts of liquor and not nearly enough wine.

---viewed the "Red Riding Trilogy" of British crime films, one per night for three nights, at the Ken Cinema.

---wasted countless hours, brain cells, reams of paper and electricity on my graduation fulfillment monstrosity known as the "E-Portfolio," a hulking beast of library theory and competency proofs. Towards the end of the project, I spent less time composing my submission than I did conjuring up ever-cruder variations on the name "E-Portfolio" (eg, E-Portsuckio).

---turned in a 41-page Twelve Month Programming Plan for a final library class, Programs and Services for Children. In the course of writing this paper, a once-proud English major both used the phrase "spooktacular" and cited "NintendoShopper.com" as a source.

---turned thirty-three, and threw a large party to celebrate, complete with a taco truck from Tijuana, serving up smoky and spicy carne asada and pollo asada street tacos.

---seen a musical project become legitimized through the tireless efforts of an old friend, as our 24-minute noise collaboration became an official release, courtesy of the Generator SoundArt label.

---scoured the better part of San Diego looking for squid ink, a key ingredient for squid risotto(hint: try Pacific Beach, of all places).

---painted a bedroom.

---stared aghast at a widening oil plume, sarcastically agreed with his wife that the government would soon be tapping James Cameron for advice, and was astonished to later discover this exact scenario took place.

---discovered A.J. Liebling and loved him, just like everybody said I would.

---spent the Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, in which I spent some time inside our Oak Park hotel drinking the bottles of New Glarus brew my father brought down from Wisconsin at my behest, but spent much more time admiring the local libraries and bookstores, the architecture and the lake front, and made two visits to Michigan Avenue's The Purple Pig restaurant, where we enjoyed Greek wine, whipped feta, and pig’s tails braised in balsamic.

---been told I am officially an information professional.

---finally started blogging again.