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A few days ago, I heard a track called “Mr. Rock & Roll” by a Scottish female vocalist named Amy Macdonald.  I enjoyed it and think her acoustic folk-pop sound is worth a listen; it’s somewhat reminiscent of KT Tunstall and the multitudes of other girls with dark hair and bangs who have been playing indie music on guitar of late.

Amy’s songwriting is nothing earth-shatteringly innovative, but she has no average voice, and as a self-taught musician, she’s not bad at all.  NPR Weekend Edition tells me that her popularity has been growing in the UK for a while and is just starting to make its way over to the US.

If you heard about Amy Macdonald ages ago, feel free to inform me that I am totally behind the times on what young people are listening to nowadays.   I’d also be interested to hear your opinion on whether Amy’s style is refreshing or unremarkable.  You can listen to more full tracks by Amy Macdonald on last.fm.

Laura Ingalls Wilder is freaking hilarious.

ROTFLOL

ROTFLOL

What?  No.  Not the Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote Little House on the Prairie.  At least, not the real Laura.

Someone on Twitter has started tweeting as the renowned author of American pioneer literature under the pseudonym HalfPintIngalls.  Whoever it is combines a wicked sense of humor with a bookworm’s knowledge of Wilder’s life and work.  Here’s a sampling of HalfPintIngalls’ delightful tongue-in-cheek humor.

On fashion:

hoopskirts

On venerated cultural traditions:

5-second-rule

On modern marvels:

amazing

On the 2008 presidential election:

barack-obama1

sarah-palin

On daily life:

diptheria

If this mysterious HalfPintIngalls is a man, I am adding him to my list of Internet crushes, along with Randall Munroe and Dan O’Brien. If you can’t get enough of HalfPintIngalls either, follow “Laura Ingalls Wilder” on Twitter.

Free poster + printer + craft supplies = Sweet poster mod for my room.

"for life's not a paragraph/And death i think is no parenthesis"

I got this giant black-and-white poster of a lone bird from a recent trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  I wanted to spice the poster up a bit without ruining the poignancy of the shot, so I went at it with a minimalist design and some basic craft supplies.

The words I chose for the poster are the final lines from a gorgeous e e cummings poem that reminds me how love is often more emotional than logical:

since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;


wholly to be a fool

while Spring is in the world


my blood approves,

and kisses are a far better fate

than wisdom

lady i swear by all flowers.  Don’t cry

–the best gesture of my brain is less than your eyelids’ flutter which says


we are for eachother: then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph


And death i think is no parenthesis

e e cummings, “since feeling is first”

Apartment art doesn’t have to be expensive; the total cost of this project was just $0.11 for the yellow paper.  On an adjacent wall, I’ve hung an iconic image of actress Audrey Hepburn from her 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.  It’s actually a cardboard box that used to hold a canvas of an identical image; I found the empty box at Goodwill and convinced them to give it to me at no charge.  It too was a triumphant moment in my career as a thrifty college student.

If you liked “since feeling is first”, or if you’re just not a big fan of capital letters, read a small collection of other e e cummings poems here.

I have never been an early bird. At home on weekend mornings, my dad usually rushes into the room my sister and I share, chirpy and all excited about some wholesome family outing he has planned. He pulls the window blinds right up, flooding bright sunlight into the room, and shouts something typically cheery like “Good morning girls! It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood! Just look at that sky!”, sometimes followed by a hearty rendition of the theme song from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

At this point, my sister pretends that she’s deep in REM sleep, and it generally works, because my dad latches on to me instead.  I respond by demanding one of the following:

  • “Dad.  It is TEN O CLOCK in the MORNING.  Are you MAD?”
  • “Why are you so CHIPPER?  Cheer DOWN.”
  • Or, once, at his insistence that it really was time to wake up already, “You have GOT to be kidding me.”

This morning, however, I was probably up before even my dad was. Today’s task in This Book Will Change Your Life was “Do Something Before Breakfast Today”.  Here is my morning, documented through Twitter:

tweet

5:00 am: (My alarm went off.  I frantically pawed around for the snooze button, accidentally called the second contact in my address book instead, and spent the next half hour trying to wake up before I was able to pull myself out of bed and onto Twitter.)

5:38 am: reading “this book will change your life”. today’s task: do something before breakfast. so here i am, tweeting before the break of dawn.

5:48 am: my morning paper isn’t here yet. step it up, oakland tribune. no matter. i’m going to eat a grapefruit i purchased especially for today.

6:32 am: warmed up and stretched for half an hour, not really caring how idiotic i looked, because none of my neighbors are awake yet! liberating.

6:56 am: the boyfriend, who is also following “this book will change your life”, is using his early morning to do chem homework.

6:56 am: greeting the sun. hi sun! good morning!

7:01 am: going on a run down college ave. this will be my first run in about a year, so i expect to be winded shortly. nonetheless, on a run i go.

7:55 am: a triumph: ran all the way to safeway, about a mile. bought another grapefruit. said good morning to all passersby. have huge smile on face.

this book will change your life breakfast

Later,

9:59 am: about to attempt to poach eggs for the first time. i am feeling adventurous, but not enough to freestyle it sans cookbook.

10:24: tip for aspiring egg-poachers: don’t read digg while poaching. you’ll end up with a no-shell hardboiled egg on burnt toast. round 2.

(Round 2 was, for the record, perfect.)

One thing I have noticed about waking up before the crack of dawn is how much more I’ve been able to fit into my day.  Also, the endorphins must be working, because I am what my alternate universe non-early bird self would disparagingly call “an absolute cesspool of positivity”.  I must try this again sometime.

“From 52 to 48 With Love” is a cool and inspiring social/political/art project that encourages voters from any party to send in photographs of themselves reaching out to voters from opposing parties with healing messages.  It derives its name from the 52% who voted for Barack Obama and the 48% who voted for John McCain in this month’s presidential election.  Here is the original blog post from Ze Frank, the project’s creator, explaining his idea:

“i would love to have a place for obama supporters, mccain supporters and supporters of third parties (over 1%) to reach out in a gesture of reconciliation…

simple messages from individuals.

perhaps it is naive. the differences are real, i know. but we have to repair the damage done from this election cycle somehow…”

Ze Frank, Blogger

It’s a pretty neat project. Here are a few of my favorite submissions:

Frank began the project on November 5th, the day after the election, but since then it has grown and expanded.  You can take a look at all “From 52 to 48 With Love” submissions here, and perhaps afterwards contribute your own photograph to ze@zefrank.com.

Have you ever put on a t-shirt and thought, “Gee, I wish this thing had more arm-holes to accommodate my extra limbs?”  Well, turn that frown upside-down and prepare to clap all six of your hands together, because a solution has arrived, in the form of fashion designer Daniel Palillo’s Scarv Tee:

This poor fellow tried to make a DIY ghost costume for Halloween.  (Hes not too good with arts and crafts.)
I wish I could tell you this is a joke, and that these are pictures of an attempt at a classic Halloween ghost costume gone awry.  I cannot.

The Scarv Tee was featured yesterday on The Fashion Police blog, which fortunately did not embrace a white sheet full of holes as this season’s must-have, instead offering this tongue-in-cheek endorsement:

“Now, we know what you’re thinking girls, but don’t worry: although this garment is being modelled by a man here, it is, in fact, a unisex shirt, so you and your man can both wear it. We’re speaking literally here, by the way: when we say “you can both wear it” we mean “you can both wear it at the same time“, on account of the fact that it has four neck holes that we can see, and possibly more that we can’t. In fact, what the hell: bring the kids, let them wear it too! Invite your friends!”

The Fashion Police

The Scarv Tee, sold by LA fashion store Welcome Hunters, goes for $205.  That’s USD, by the way, not Zimbabwean dollars.  Perhaps more incredible than the $205 price tag is the fact that the Scarv Tee is completely sold out.  Now, even if you suppose that the Scarv Tee is so unmarketable that the manufacturing lot size was only 1 tee, it still means that someone bought one.

Ponder that for a moment.

In case you’re wondering what other designs Welcome Hunters has up its sleeve(s), look no further than the Angelika Pashbeck Harem Pants in blue:

Welcome Hunters calls these fashion forward yet casual and comfortable.

Welcome Hunters calls these "fashion forward yet casual and comfortable."

What’s with the name?  It’s like they discovered a warehouse full of leftover Hammer pants from the 1980s, tried to put a fresh new twist on them by making an anagram of “Hammer pants”, and due to a tragic typographical error wound up with “Harem pants”.  Retail value for these periwinkle sweatpants?  $435.  No joke.

I didn’t always blog for ChunkIt! at exploring berkeley.  My illustrious blogging career began this summer during my internship at TigerLogic’s San Jose offices, when I teamed up with Michael to craft a post about our crazy intern field trip to Berkeley to shoot a promotional video.

T.I.G.E.R.s storm Sather Gate.

The T.I.G.E.R.s storm Sather Gate. What did you do at your internship this summer?

Without futher ado, here’s some vintage Katherine from TigerLogic’s blog:

==================================================

T.I.G.E.R. Logic

By all outward appearances, I have a perfectly respectable grown-up job this summer. Every day from 9 to 5 (okay, 9:30 to 5:30) I sit in a cubicle and, as part of a team of interns, brainstorm ways to market ChunkIt! to college students. We have weekly objectives to accomplish, payrolls to be filled out, and status reports to be written. But once in a while, we all get to go out of the office and do something wild and crazy. And that’s when we transform from square-minded Clark Kents into marketing Supermen (and -women).

This week, we took a field trip to stage a protest in (where else?) Berkeley. We marched under the auspices of T.I.G.E.R. (The Innovative Group for Effective Research). Our topic of protest? Slow search times on the Internet. Our mission? To enlighten the good people of Berkeley about the birth of a solution. Armed with classic hand-painted protest signs adorned with biting witticisms such as “URL Sinners” and “Practice Safe Search”, we stormed through historic Sather Gate and up the steps of Sproul Hall. No longer would we stand by and watch as millions toiled through the daunting labyrinth of the Interwebs. As the 300 Spartans before us, we stood bravely on the steps of Sproul Hall and shouted, “This is CHUNKIT!”

The T.I.G.E.R.s evangelize to those in the dark about slow search.

The T.I.G.E.R.s evangelize to those in the dark about slow search.

Well, not really, but close. My fellow intern and cubiclemate Joli unleashed her talent as a singer/songwriter/choreographer with catchy protest anthems such as “ChunkIt Like It’s Hot” and “I Chunked a Page and I Liked It”*. JJ and Rob raged against the machine, leading the crowd in chanting “Orange Power” and “What do we want? (Faster searches!) When do we want ‘em? (Now!) How we goin’ to get ‘em? (ChunkIt!)” Meanwhile, cameraman Brian and aspiring reporter Steven recorded the day’s events with stunning cinematography and journalistic integrity.

A few bystanders tentatively approached us to see what the commotion was about. Other onlookers, mostly unsuspecting tourists, chattered excitedly amongst themselves. Some, possibly under the impression that they were witnessing the rebirth of the free speech movement, took photographs and home videos to show their friends and family why the town has earned the nickname “Berserkeley”. Our protest gained a touch of symbolism with a computer-shaped piñata labeled “Slow Search”. Hungry college students and small children partook in the festivities, wielding a ChunkIt! bat to bring slow search to its demise. One Berkeley native approached me to say, “I really approve of what you guys are doing here. I’d totally jump in and help you protest, but I’m so high at the moment, I don’t even know what I’m saying.” I thanked him politely anyway.

The T.I.G.E.R. team marches down Telegraph Avenue.

The T.I.G.E.R. team marches down Telegraph Avenue.

After exhausting our supply of business cards, losing our voices, and leaving the town plastered with “I Got Chunked” stickers, we trudged back to Shattuck Avenue for the long BART journey home. Just as Superman returns to his phone booth, we returned to our cubicles at the office and became Clark Kents once more…until our next mission.

==================================================

The result of our trip to Berkeley was the following video, edited by whiz kid Brian.  If you’re friends with me or another TigerLogic intern, look closely, and you may be able to spot us.

All riled up and hungry for more?  Browse ChunkIt’s YouTube channel or download ChunkIt! to save yourself from slow search before it’s too late.

*It should be noted that I do not under any circumstances condone listening to Snoop Dogg or Katy Perry.

Imagine this: An experimental restaurant in Berkeley bills customers $0.00 for their meal and encourages them to pay the generosity forward however they wish.

That’s right.  Karma Kitchen, which began in March 2007, is open Sundays for lunch, issues no bills, is volunteer-staffed, and is based entirely on the premise that we could all do with a little more good karma in the world.

Paul Van Slambrouck.)

Viral Mehta, co-founder of Karma Kitchen, familiarizes the day's volunteer servers about their tasks before the restaurant opens.

Karma Kitchen rents out Taste of the Himalayas restaurant on Shattuck on Sundays from 11-3.  Customers eat a delicious vegetarian and mostly Indian-inspired meal prepared by chef Chatra Lamichaney, but they don’t get a check at the end:

“Instead, the guests of this restaurant are handed a gold envelope with a handwritten note on the outside that says, ‘Have a lovely evening.’ Inside a bookmarker-sized card states: ‘In the spirit of generosity, someone who came before you made a gift of this meal. We hope you will continue the circle of giving in your own way!””

The Christian Science Monitor, “A restaurant with no checks”

Most guests choose to pay for the next guest’s meal; others choose to volunteer at the restaurant one Sunday, but Karma Kitchen leaves it entirely up to you, as long as you give something back to the world.  How cool is that?

Karma Kitchen's current volunteer sign-up list from their website; it gives you an idea of what tasks volunteers do.

Karma Kitchen's current volunteer chart on the website shows who has signed up to do which tasks in the upcoming month of Sundays.

I am so sad that I learned about Karma Kitchen on a Sunday.  Now I have to wait an entire week before I can try it out myself and tell you about it.  If I like it, which I’m pretty sure I will, I’ll volunteer the next week.  In the meantime, you can read an early article about Karma Kitchen back when it was open for Saturday night dinners, check out the glowing reviews on Yelp, or visit Karma Kitchen’s website to learn more about their business model.

Cast of Global Warming

What do Kristen Wiig, Aasif Mandvi, and Mindy Kaling have in common?  Besides acting in three of my favorite TV shows (SNL, The Daily Show, and The Office, respectively), they’ve now joined forces like some kind of League of Extraordinary Comedians to create a hilarious and heartwarming new online miniseries called Global Warming.

Global Warming Strike.TV

If you enjoyed the comedic brilliance of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, chances are you’ll like Global Warming, too.  Both were created during last year’s Writer’s Guild of America strike by funny writers (in Global Warming’s case, writers from The Daily Show and Penn & Teller) casting about for something to keep them occupied during the strike.  Global Warming is a romantic comedy about adorably awkward office intrigue.  Here’s a synopsis of the first episode:

Saturday Night Live‘s Kristin Wiig plays Kristine, a woman who wants more out of her men, but hasn’t quite figured out exactly what. The Daily Show‘s Aasif Mandvi is Aseem, a hopeless romantic and Kristine’s tech-support guy in India. He escapes the tyranny of his boss (The Office‘s Mindy Kaling) to take a leap with Kristine. But do either of them really know what they’re about to land in?”

Strike.TV

You can watch the trailer for yourself:

The first episode of Global Warming can be found on the official Strike.TV website.  Watch it now, and you’ll be hip and happening when you tell all your friends about it.

If you’re interested in the other comedic work the cast of Global Warming has done, my favorite Kristen Wiig skit from SNL is hands down Surprise Party, in which she plays a woman named Sue who is way, way, way too excited about throwing a birthday party; my favorite Aasif Mandvi video from The Daily Show is probably his Best F#$king News Team biography, entitled “Aasif Mandvi Is Brown“.

"SurPRISEEEEEEEEAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHUHHHHHHHAHHHHH!"

The next episode of Global Warming is coming soon, and it should be fun to see where the Strike.TV team takes it.

My Firefox bookmarks toolbar is rigorous to-do checklist for procrastination.  There’s Gmail that needs checking, Facebook that needs stalking, Woot! that needs wooting, and Twitter that needs tweeting.  It’s a wonder that I manage to get it all done.

My bookmarks probably also say a lot about me: the person that I am, the things I’m interested in, where my priorities lie:

I think bookmark toolbars could replace Rorschach inkblot tests for psychological evaluation.

I think bookmark toolbars could replace Rorschach inkblot tests for psychological evaluation.

Note the rightmost bookmark, labeled “vicarious living”.  I must here confess to you that I am a Craigslist Missed Connections addict.  Hey, I hear that scoff.  Don’t judge.

Just in case you don’t know about Missed Connections, it’s basically a section on Craigslist that allows people to post descriptions of chance encounters with mysterious strangers — in a coffeeshop, on the morning commute, at the post office — when they felt a compelling connection.  Perhaps a smile was shared, or there was fleeting eye contact as the two strangers looked at each other, then away, then at each other again.  Missed Connections gives them a place to try to find each other again if they find themselves thinking about that stranger and can’t quite let it go.

Oh, shut it.  I like this stuff.

Toothpaste for Dinner on Missed Connections.

Toothpaste for Dinner likes Missed Connections, too.

Jess over at Smiles in Easy Open Packages wrote last month about the delightful trashiness of Mills & Boon paperback romances.  Wikipedia succinctly sums up every Mills & Boon story, ever, in just one sentence:

“Common themes are rich, ennobled and initially unattainable males (often of Mediterranean–especially Greek–origin), the desire of a character to have a baby (with this being thwarted by infertility or an unsympathetic husband), and the breakup and mending of a relationship.”

Wikipedia, “Mills & Boon”

If Mills & Boon allows little old ladies to live vicariously through personal assistant Sienna as she falls for her billionaire playboy boss Alexander Wentworth, CL Missed Connections is like the Mills & Boon of the Internet generation.  And best of all, it’s real life.

Here’s why I love reading CL Missed Connections.  Each cryptic three-line post offers a snapshot, a fleeting glimpse, into the life of an anonymous stranger, allowing me to see the world through their eyes if only for a few moments.  Viewed rapidly, one after another, I think the posts form an endearing picture of humanity, filled with billions of individuals that are just bumping into each other trying to go about their daily lives and, once in a while, have a chance encounter that could possibly be something special.

Sort of like London dispersion forces.

Sort of like London dispersion forces.

Here are some of my favorite posts from last week:

Cute blonde girl that works at Cafe Intermezzo around lunchtime) – m4w – 21 (berkeley)


Thanks for mixing-in the extra dressing when I asked for an extra on the side. “That way you save some money!” I appreciate the financial advice. Good looking out — you must have a really good eye for poor college students. As it turns out, I was laid off from my job a couple weeks ago. So saving me that extra $1 might go a long way!!

You’re cute. And you also have a rad smile.

Pho Yoga girl ….. why were you eating alone ? – m4w – 26 (berkeley)


You were the very pretty girl in the lululemon top eating by yourself at Pho-Hoa in Berkeley.
I was the shy guy in the black sweater trying to catch your eye, but you were very into your newspaper.

Shucks! Hopefully you read this.

guy at the co-op party in berkeley – w4m – 28 (berkeley)


I was a greek goddess, and perhaps a little drunk… you were the “un-you” in a button-down shirt. We talked for 20 minutes in the hall during the party, and all my friends wanted to know why I didn’t give my number to “the cute guy.” I’d love to give it to you now… drop me a line?

Class Crush – m4w – 19 (berkeley)


So you are in my japanese history class and i noticed you day one, but the more and more i see you the more i would like to get to know you. Ive been making futile efforts to sit next to you for the past few weeks and succeeded twice (actually once you sat next to me it was exciting). For some reason i have a hard time saying anything around you, once i commented on our quirky professor consistently popped collars and today i ‘woke you up’ from your mid-class doze. I would love to talk to you sometime maybe over coffee, i hear thats what kids are doing these days. Anywho you probably wont read this so sucks to be me, maybe ill have to pluck up the courage to talk to you.

Cute, right?  Read the latest Berkeley Missed Connections here, or bookmark your own city’s.