Monday, May 30, 2005


I saw whales!

Despite the zillion hour trip home because of the horrible accident on I-5, the wreckage of which was truly stomach-turning, the weekend on Orcas Island was a good experience for us. I learned:

1. some things about whales;
2. that there is room for more restaurants on Orcas Island, and reading egullet upon arriving home that we should have found a way to try Rose's Bakery;
3. that Brett is a bigtime Elton John fan;
4. that the deer population is thriving in the San Juans; and
5. that the Bite of Orcas festival should be attended prior to 2:30 in the afternoon.

When we showed up on Saturday we were starving, so we head to the aforementioned Bite of Orcas in Eastsound for a bite of Orcas. By the time we got there the selection was pretty picked over, but we managed to piece together a meal from the vendors who were still there. And I was introduced to the simple wonder that is cucumber water! Seriously, this is a good idea. Just plain ol' cold water that's had thin slices of cucumber sitting in it for a while. It was completely refreshing. I'm going to do this when it gets hot again.

Since it was pretty warm on Saturday, we decided head to Cascade Lake in Moran State Park, which was very close to where we were staying. It was too cold for swimming, but that didn't stop legions of under-tens, some triathletes in wet suits, and Chris and Brett, neither under ten nor in wetsuits. That state park also features a couple of other lakes and Mount Constitution and what looks to be a very nice trail network -- I wish I'd had more time and a running-inclined travelmate to more thoroughly check them out. As it was, we did a little ambling around on Sunday morning, but the whale-watching trip we had scheduled for that afternoon cut that a bit short. If I go back, I'll definitely take some more time for trail running.

The whales were totally worth it, though. I was glad that Jess put the trip together. We lucked into the trip on a day when two Orca pods were mating, which meant that there were quite a few whales to see. I followed the advice of someone at work and didn't even try to take pictures -- stuff happens so suddenly that the experience is much more memorable and worthwhile if you're not a slave to the camera. I'd definitely recommend it, although I understand that those trips are a crapshoot -- sometimes there are whales and sometimes there just aren't. For us, it was a great experience.

There's something that these islands in the sound around here have in common. I felt it as soon as we arrived in Eastsound, just how similar it was to communities on Bainbridge and Whidbey Islands (the only two around here I've been to so far). Small town America crossed with something distinctly northwestern -- weird mixture of artisans and town square lifestyle, early to bed and early to rise, aging hippie meets industriousness and virtue.

Something else this weekend got me thinking about is national borders. In particular, I've never lived so close to one before moving to Seattle. Traveling among these islands especially highlights the basic arbitrariness of political boundaries -- how much of local culture is determined by borders and how much by non-political geography (climate, landscape, and the like)? I don't know, but I know that these islands feel as much like Victoria as they do like Seattle, and they feel more like each other than they feel like any city or large town. I thought about this particularly when we went out to see whales. I'm sure we were flitting back and forth between American and Canadian waters, we were a few yards from Canadian whale-watching boats, and we were all looking at the same whales.

All in all it was a good time (and we managed to have at least one pretty good meal into the bargain, Sunday brunch at Cafe Olga, where Chris had farmer's cheese blintzes and I had a portobello mushroom, caramelized onion, and Swiss emmanthaler omelet, both of which were excellent) and I'm very glad we went. Getting out of town was just what I needed not even withstanding the fact that we left our hotel at 8:45 this morning and didn't get back here until 6 tonight. I'd go again, and I might consider renting a place for a week with some friends for some summer week. This strengthens my resolve to keep using these long weekends to see other places around the region, though. Olympic peninsula, here I come...

Friday, May 27, 2005

Resident tourist.

We won't be around to help the guys next door move this weekend since Chris orchestrated an organizational coup and set up a trip to Orcas Island for us and Brett and Jess. I'm excited. I better see some whales.

I haven't been to the San Juans at all since moving here. This trip fits in with my wider agenda to use long weekends to catch up on my Pacific Northwest tourism. Three years after coming to Seattle, places I still haven't been include Mt. St. Helens, the Olympic Peninsula, Vancouver, eastern Washington and points beyond, and a whole bunch of other spots. There's a lot more to see around here than I'd expected when I first moved, and there's a big chunk of it that I'm very interested in seeing. It should be a fun weekend.

I'm a little sad that the guys next door are moving, although on the bright side Hilary is moving into the building and that's really going to expedite the organization of my televisual existence. A lot is changing this summer-into-fall: five weddings of people we know, including ours; lots of relocation; other stuff. I have many friends living in different cities than they lived in a year or two ago, and those friends are starting to put down roots, which reinforces the strange, sad reality of the fact that we're not likely to live in the same place with them again. I feel a lot more settled myself than I did a year ago, which happened mostly without me knowing it. If we have kids they're going to be from Seattle, which is totally weird but kind of in a good way. We've been here long enough by now that we have a whole spectrum of friends from casual to close. We live here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


So, um, Lost? If you haven't watched it yet but care to, stop reading now.

Not the ending I was hoping for, but better than I was expecting. It's interesting that we now have a refugee with the others who's post-infancy; maybe once the second season starts we'll learn a little more about them. You knew that radar was ominous.

Other thoughts?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Perfunctory blog entry of desperation.

It's already Tuesday and I still don't know what we're doing for Memorial Day weekend. I want to leave town, and yet I am paralyzed with indecision (and by everything already being booked up in the places I've looked). It's a conundrum. And the nearer we get, the more desperately I want to get out of town. Maybe we can drive to Tacoma and back twenty times and pretend we went on a road trip.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Blog this. Blog about this.

Last week I began to say something about blog/blog about and Chris I mean an anonymous commenter followed up:

what about the verb to write up? you can write up an experience, right? or, can't i write this up? i'm not sure if that counts. do write and up combine to form a single verb in a way that's different from how the verb blog and the corresponding about join in a phrase? it feels like it's different.

or, what if we're taking a cue from the etymological origins of blog, the verb log? can't i log data? or log a story?

it also seems like report functions in exactly the same was as transitive blog.

So I think that blog and blog about can be used more or less interchangably (in cases where there's some object) in a way that write and write about cannot. In fact, write and write about mean very different things, as seen in (2) below:

1a. I blogged the convention.
1b. I blogged about the convention.

2a. I wrote a letter.
2b. I wrote about a letter.

Write up/down is a more interesting case:

3a. I wrote the report.
3b. I wrote up the report.
3c. ?I wrote down the report.

4a. I wrote the answer.
4b. I wrote down the answer.
4c. I wrote the answer down.
4d. I wrote up the answer.
4e. ?I wrote the answer up.

(3a) and (3b) do feel pretty close, although I think the two use slightly different pragmatics. Write up seems to connote some some sense of self-containment, maybe even something like completedness -- the report contains everything it needs to.

I'm not sure what to make of the facts in (4c-e). If (4c) and (4d) are both okay, even given admittedly different pragmatics, I can't figure out why (4e) is slightly degraded. But it is.

Type is another case similar to write, although there's no down variant:

5a. I typed the report.
5b. I typed up the report.
5c. *I typed down the report.

But back to verb/about cases. The others I can come up with all feel closer to write/about than they do to blog/about:

6a. Did you hear the crash?
6b. Did you hear about the crash?

7a. I read the paper.
7b. I read about the paper.

I'm still looking for a case where [verb] and [verb about] are equivalent.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Salad days.

Vince was in town today and we managed to squeeze in Vios, La Carta de Oaxaca, and Snoqualmie Falls. Not too bad. The last time I saw a friend from college -- as separate from friends in grad school -- was when Alkes visited in March 2004. This time as that time, it struck me how long ago college was. I learned yesterday that the high school that I graduated from is closing after this school year ends. Anyone who knows me knows how much I loathed high school, so I didn't feel very sad about the news. I think I was supposed to have felt sad, though.

Today is/was Heather and Mike's wedding! I'm sad to miss it but I'm thinking of you guys. Which is the chief reason for this post.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Of Star Wars and expletives, separately but in simultaneity.

I got 90 minutes of work done today and I'm going to have do a little work on Sunday, but it was worth it. I located a pair of Brooks Burns in my size! I took someone running shoe shopping today the same place I took someone else last week and in between visits they'd ordered the shoes. I am delighted. Unreasonably delighted.

We saw Revenge of the Sith this morning at work. If you enjoy ineffectual driods and/or ham-fisted love scenes, this is the movie for you. Still, it was better than the first two prequels. George Lucas should stick to cameo roles on The OC.

OBlinguistics: Today I tried to take a competent but non-native speaker of English with no linguistics background through expletive infixation facts to see what would happen. It was interesting and not what I expected. After some clues he was able to spot all the relevant generalizations but he expressed them in very different terms than a native speaker would have; he was able to observe things about primary stress but noticed secondary properties associated with the stress (e.g. he could see and demonstrate the impact that the location of the stress-bearing syllable had on the pronunciation of the surrounding syllables) rather than noticing the stress as such. He also came really close to deriving the notions of foot and phonological word in some tangential discussion. It was pretty cool.

I've been thinking about this kind of intro-y stuff lately because Chris is finally reading The Language Instinct and it turns out that he's kind of a sound guy rather than a syntax-semantics guy as I expected. He has a natural insight into phonology that's actually pretty remarkable. So now we're occasionally doing little phonology puzzles using Japanese data (since he's also studying Japanese). Yes, we have a pretty normal household.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Getting the preliminaries out of the way.

So we want to go somewhere for Memorial Day weekend, but we haven't made any plans yet. I had this vague idea that it would be nice to go to Shi Shi beach and stay somewhere up there, but so far we haven't figured out where to stay (and we won't be camping that weekend). I love travel, but I don't like planning travel. It's a conundrum. Still, I'm starting to feel like I really need to head out of town that weekend, so I'll have to work something out, and soon.

Other things: small dinner parties. I've been thinking that we aren't having enough of them. Why is it that I've never been more antisocial and yet I've been obsessed with throwing small dinner parties? If I haven't invited you over for dinner yet and you don't live thousands of miles away, I probably will soon. I have all this produce and I'm not afraid to use it, people.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Our Italian leftovers from last night sort of pale in comparison.

Today Chris and I skipped out of work early with a couple of friends from work and went to the Mario Batali fest at Salumi. The cramped quarters of Salumi didn't exactly work for how they had it set up, but the food was damn good. All you people that I mentioned it to months ago who didn't come along ought to be bitter and regretful that they didn't make it. Highlights included bruchetta with goat cheese, basil, and salumi; turkey meatballs in ragu; this fava bean and chicory side dish that was both light and savory; a very flavorful sausage and broccoli rabe dish; and finally, this moist anise biscotti-like cookie that was both light and decadent at the same time. All washed down with some lovely Masi. I wish we'd brought the camera, because this food was beautiful.

As part of the event everyone received Mario's new cookbook autographed, which he was willing to personalize for anyone interested. I chatted with him for a few minutes about the question I asked him when he did his online chat on egullet a few months back about where besides Salumi he likes to eat when he visits his family in Seattle. He looked wiped out -- book tours and cooking nonstop must take their toll -- but he was very gracious and friendly and willing to chat about his food.

It was definitely a great way to start the week!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

24 hours of my life.

Whew. What a day. I'm feeling a little overstimulated in the best possible way. I went from race this morning (just under 39 minutes for 8k, which for me is damn good) to cheese festival (came away with several good cheeses, including an amazing aged gouda, garlic dill cheese curds, a sheep's milk young gouda, and this soft blue cheesy dip thing that I am dying to put on a sandwich) to movie (Kicking and Screaming, which was better than you might expect unless you already knew that Judd Apatow was involved, which I did not) to making dinner (a very nice pasta primavera) to seeing Ivy play (and Astaire and Robbers on High Street, who were both very good, to say nothing of Ivy, pleasing me enormously since I've been waiting to see them for, oh, fourteen years) to right now watching the Survivor season finale.

I have lots to say about all of this, but most especially Ivy. And tomorrow we're going to see Mario Batali at Salumi (and to eat his food, which is even better). I feel like I don't need to have fun again for months.

Alex, prize-winning comedian.

I'm up far too early for a Sunday because I'm eating breakfast for this race we're leaving for in 10 minutes. Of the dozens upon dozens of races that I've done I've somehow missed doing any in the rain; I think this is going to change this morning.

Last night we finally tried Seven Stars Pepper with Ryan, Simone, and Alex. It was so good that you have no idea how much I wanted to blog about it when I got home last night, except that right before we left Alex asked me if I had to "go right home and blog this," because that Alex is a funny guy, so I didn't. Damn, it was good though. It's going to replace Shanghai Garden as our award-winning Seattle Chinese place.

When did blog become a transitive verb? At first the only object I ever heard it take was this, but in the last several months constructions like "blogging the convention" or "blog my day" have started popping up. Me, I still favor blog about. It started me thinking about other verbs that have this transitive/about alternation, and which variant comes first.

Except that I have to go race now and say more about this later.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Of cheese and morphology.

I let Ritchie twist my arm into doing this race tomorrow:

and now this day has the audacity to turn out sunny when all I wanted was to sit on my butt all day resting my legs.

Tomorrow should be a good day, though. After beating the bridge, I'm going to the cheese festival (K might be jealous) and then to see Ivy later in the evening (K's husband might be jealous).

I've been thinking this morning about morphological predictivity, and in particular whether I (well, someone) could write a program to implement certain morphological rules around noun case inflection so that the form of a noun can be correctly predicted from its syntactic context. In some ways this is a big duh; of course this should be possible, and other people are doing it. But the particulars of the problem I'm thinking about make it a little more complicated.

This is apparently what happens when I stay up too late drinking and Chris forcibly cuts off my internet access so that I have to go to bed.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Paean to Heather and tvdetective.

Obligatory ANTM chatter: is there anyone in the country, or at least in the country of ANTM viewers, which set includes at least the three of us plus Ritchie and Chris, who is not rooting for Naima? Is there anyone who doesn't loathe Keenyah for the self-important mosquito that she is?

I didn't think so.

This has been an acronymic PSA based on a UPN show, but I must admit that it's a pretty terrible paean.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

School of hard knocks.

Things I learned today:

1. A six foot tall inflatable black tiki torch is very distracting if it's in a meeting with you.
1a. A six foot tall inflatable black tiki torch is very distracting, period.

2. My secret mission to get everyone I work with to commit to my LDR agenda is starting to pay off.

3. Other things.

Things I learned yesterday:

1. I am racing this coming Sunday.

2. There is a Hall and Oates cover band in Seattle.
2a. There is a Hall and Oates cover band in Seattle, and I didn't get them for my wedding.

Things I learned the day before yesterday:

1. Two ways to make people blush without even trying.

2. I don't remember the other things I learned the day before yesterday.

I was chided today at lunch about my lackadaisical posting habits by two people who don't even read my blog, so now I've covered all my bases retroactively. Because that's the kind of girl I am.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Assassination, all I ever wanted.

I started reading Assassination Vacation this morning. Oh, I heart Sarah Vowell. It's almost enough to make me listen to NPR.

I really want to listen to NPR. I want to like it, support it, give it money. I appreciate their mission. And yet I cannot. A conundrum. Terri Gross exemplifies all the reasons I want to like NPR, and also all the reasons I cannot. It's a problem.

Either way, I'm really enjoying this book. An appearance on The Daily Show plus memories of how much I liked The Partly Cloudy Patriot catapulted Assassination Vacation to the top of my reading list, violating all my usual rules of order and reason. At the rate I'm going I should finish it fairly quickly, so stay tuned for a further review.

What is it about NPR though? Is it the sanctimony? The seriousness of purpose? I can't say, but it's something.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Sin in the morning.

On Thursday afternoon someone stole all the candy from my office stash; described by my officemate as "hell-bent on revenge," yesterday I dressed as a drama queen (no, really) to justify my strong negative reaction. Now that I have located the culprit, I have begun strategizing my next move...

At least now I can say that I've worn a tiara to work.

This was a long week, made even longer by the fact that I couldn't leave as early yesterday as I'd planned because Sushmita and I had some wine at the Friday unwinder and I had to wait a couple of hours before driving home. Not even that much wine, either; I'm out of practice. With Jake and Kara in town this weekend, I was thinking that I ought to rectify that this evening.

Some interesting comments on about the so-called intelligent design curriculum hearings in Kansas that have been boycotted by linguists (the Chomsky post is a joke, people -- I had some people at work ask me about this). I find it difficult to believe that we're still fighting this particular battle in the U.S. in 2005. But not only are we fighting it, in a lot of places we're losing. What kind of argument can you make to convince someone whose beliefs are beyond argument, who views argument as the problem rather than the goal? Marshalling evidence, however compelling, doesn't work.

Last night we saw The Smartest Guys in the Room, the new documentary about the Enron debacle. There was nothing really new in the movie, but it put lots of pieces together coherently in a way that, if you weren't already mad as hell about California, will make you so. Some of the recorded conversations between traders were meant to be particularly alarming, but I came away with a clearer understanding of how those individual traders might have ended up the way they did. How many Wharton kids have I known who would have done the same thing, whose analyst or trading jobs right out of college were characterized by high-adrenaline octane-fueled frenzy? The money they make isn't tangible; it's an ever-changing string of numbers assigned to one bucket or another where the game is to fill your bucket faster than the other guy. I can see how the game could be high-energy and compelling and how it might be very difficult to connect the abstraction of the numbers with the reality of forest fires and people not having any way of supporting themselves in their retirement. And that's a huge problem that I have the sense that business ethics classes don't begin to touch.


This is pretty good: sin, sedition, ungodliness, and dangerous fashion choices all in one post.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Darren says my life is a weird indie movie from the 90s.

God help me, I am a new wave freak. I bought the new New Order album the other night and I can't stop listening to it. I have a problem. I think this might be better than considering the new Kylie Minogue album, which I still haven't purchased. But seriously, wtf? New Order is making new albums. I also bought the British Sea Power album to make me feel virtuously hipster. I can't wait until I'm too old to be hipster. Except that wait, I already am. On the other hand, so is New Order.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Models only.

One day when my sister was about seven, she and my mom and I were driving past a new housing development and we had a conversation that went like this:

Meri: Did you know that models are allowed to live there?
Mom: What?
Kieran: What?
Meri: Yeah, the sign says "Models Only!"

So it turns out that everyone in the boy band carpool has off Thursday and Friday except for me, soccer mom and manager of the band. We'll see how my role changes when I break down and buy a new car and make it a TT. Well, for one thing, I'll become useless for the carpool. For another, there's everything else.

I had a long conversation at work today about the syntax of question formation, which is something I haven't thought about in some time (and the messy syntax now all over my whiteboard shows it). The details of our fake analysis and the fact that it was a pretty fun discussion notwithstanding, it reminded me again of how frustrated I get with the false conflation of model and account that goes on in so much of syntax. (In related news, if it uses Greek letters, it must be math, right?)

I've spent too much time in front of a computer today, even tonight when I left work at a reasonable time. Cf. previous post about recreation and computers. Cf. some other stuff too. I am rapidly geekifying, and it's only the Monday night of my career.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Cougar Mountain

One of my goals for the summer is to become a seriously badass trail runner. The fact that I couldn't find anyone to go with me this morning put a slight damper on my plans for the day, so I found some trails closer in to civilization to check out (not so keen on the idea of running in really remote areas by myself). Today I head over to Cougar Mountain for the first time ever with the intention of running the Wilderness Peak trail -- Cougar Mountain is off I-90 around Issaquah, so it didn't look hard to find even for me, but my trail running guide stated that the Wilderness Peak trail was relatively untraveled by people and their canines compared to the Tiger summits nearby. Sounded perfect: hilly, remote but not too remote, and really beautiful.

I ran into a hitch before I started running at all: I couldn't find the easy-to-find trailhead for Wilderness Peak (which is seriously three miles off 90 all on one road). Instead I found a secondary minor trailhead for the Connector Trail, which I started up because I saw this other woman do so and its name sounded auspicious. It's one of the roughest hills I've ever run up (or run-walked up!) -- elevation gain of about 1400 feet in the first mile... to start the run. The grade decreases by about half after the first mile (which is still no picnic!), at which point the Connector Trail meets up with several other trails in the network, including the Wilderness Peak Trail. Around this point I caught up to a guy who'd been in front of me for some time, and we ended up running the next four or so miles together, which was kind of nice since he was very familiar with the trail network in the park and since we were close to the same pace. It was interesting to talk to him about trail ultras he'd run in the past; his comments about the trail we were on as compared to tough races he'd done made me feel much more optimistic about my chances of doing okay in such a race. By the time we got to the peak, my calf muscles were screaming, but it was the good kind of calf muscle screaming. Which sentiment may only make sense if you trail run.

After we started descending via the Deceptor Trail we split up, since he planned to run another ten miles (there are about thirty-six miles of trails in the park in all) and I was starting to feel like I needed some water. Which, because I am an idiot and started off intending to run only three or four miles, was back at my car. I followed the Wilderness Trail back to the trailhead, which had been my intended launch point, and then ran down the road a mile or so until I got to my car.

I don't know how I've been living and running in Seattle for three years without having discovered this place before. I'm definitely going back whether or not I can find anyone who's up for it. And I'm going to get new trail shoes. The trails today were well-maintained and only moderately technical, but I was still feeling my shoes as a problem. And next time maybe I'll bring a camera. There's some beautiful stuff on those trails.

All in all much ass was kicked.


We saw Hitchhiker's Guide last night. I don't know what I was expecting, but that wasn't it. I never read the book as a kid, so maybe my perceptions about it going into the movie were misguided. I'd describe it as the kind of movie that an eight-year-old sci-fi proto-geek would love, but maybe not too many other people (including and perhaps especially grown-to-full-gestation sci-fi adult geeks). Alas.


In other news, there are a couple of shows coming up that I am determined to go see even though my track record with following through on shows on Wednesdays and Sundays is pretty sad and even though the Wednesday show is in Ballard:

Wed, 5/4 The Lucksmiths/Tullycraft {album release}/Math & Physics Club, Sunset Tavern
Sun, 5/15 Ivy/Robbers On High Street/Astaire, Crocodile

Ivy I've been wanting to see for years now and never had the opportunity, so I'm especially excited about that one. Now it's just a matter of rounding up some lucky victims to go along for the ride.