The Things We Carry: Portable Chopsticks

When an old friend from high school picked me up yesterday in her sparkling rental car, we were still trying to decide between taking in a museum or heading toward some fun shops. And when she finally nixed an afternoon of art and culture, I was more than happy to direct her to one of my favorites, Flight 001 on Hayes.

While she lost herself among their beautiful bags, a smaller but equally enticing travel gadget section kept me busy “researching.” Some things weren’t worth the box they came in—a portable pasta drainer?! — but one item caught my eye. Collapsible chopsticks.

Continue reading “The Things We Carry: Portable Chopsticks”

Gracias por los Campesinos

It’s that time of the year again. Shorter days, colder nights and the realization that yet another year is slipping away.

For those of us who clutch to whatever hope we can find, it’s also the time to begin thinking about all the promises ahead for 2008. To help mark the months, calendars that inspire and move me are a basic necessity. How else to make the wall over my desk a place for change rather then an endless list of tasks?

Continue reading “Gracias por los Campesinos”

Fast Food and Terrorists

Usually, I’m proud to be a resident of San Francisco, with its food, freedom and great views. Last week, though, with help from the FBI, our city was reminded that stupidity lurks behind every corner.

Jeff Stein at the Congressional Quarterly reported that a couple of FBI agents came up with a brilliant plan to track potential terrorists: using new data-mining tools, they could identify concentrations of falafel sales. Enemy combatants and hungry suicide bombers beware…we’re watching what you eat!

The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.

The brainchild of top FBI counterterrorism officials Phil Mudd and Willie T. Hulon, according to well-informed sources, the project didn’t last long. It was torpedoed by the head of the FBI’s criminal investigations division, Michael A. Mason, who argued that putting somebody on a terrorist list for what they ate was ridiculous and possibly illegal.

A check of federal court records in California did not reveal any prosecutions developed from falafel trails.

Thank goodness bad ideas like this get shot down by someone who knows from idiocy.

Joke Gift Box for “Foodies”

Salt-of-the-Month Club

When I was a kid, my mom found an old box that was just about the size of a Barbie display box, stuffed it with thermal underwear, and then sealed it inside Christmas wrapping paper. My mom watched me shake that box ten times a day for two weeks. Peeling back the shiny foil to see plain cardboard and then pulling out itchy long johns forged one of those childhood experiences that’s never forgotten. Ever.

Now you can play an equally fun trick on a loved one in your life. From America’s Finest News Source comes this gotcha giftbox, perfect for folks who alphabetize their spices or drop words like mise en place, Chez Panisse, and detrimental coffee taste sensations into daily conversation.

I’m sure it works well on parents, too. I can’t wait to see my mom’s face on Christmas morning.