My brother showed me a cool site (, where you can type in any address (in the U.S.??) and it gives you an estimated value of the house. Great tool for eye shopping – and besides telling you how much the house is worth, it tells you how many bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage. Lets you know what neighborhoods you can’t afford…As we drove around LA today, I made note of different addresses and checked them when we got home – even the crummiest houses in LA go for $750,000!!

btw, although we initially thought the house prices sounded inflated, this site quoted my own house within $2000 of the price I bought it for four months ago. Not bad. We tried most of my childhood homes in Virginia and Maryland too. Looks like everything has about doubled in price.


I am still very much in love with my plans for a long car trip next summer (I even have my eye on a motorhome…), but now I am being tempted out of the country. My sister just signed an official contract to be the senior statician for the Oxford University flu project in SE Asia, which is based in Bangkok. She’s been there for the last three months on a temporary contract ever since she’s finished up her Ph.D. in London. Her husband was holding down the fort in London (the flat and his job as a medical photographer) until she actually signed the long-term contract – and now it’s happened.

and she sent me pictures of the new apartment …the pool The view…

dscn1793.JPG The living room with a a wraparound L- shaped balcony.

Look at the size of the hallway! If I come with my kid for a month or so – who would notice?? (she does have a guest room btw)

And finally, the crowning touch in Thai service:  dscn1804.JPG a private tuk-tuk! Well, it’s for the whole building, but still fancy. Tuk-tuks were Bella’s favorite mode of transportation in Thailand (elephants were stinky and on the scary side), but I never got over the kick of a motorcycle taxi. Love those things.

See, three years ago, the FIRST time I thought I would be done with my master’s, I planned a crazy six week trip to asia while my brother was in Bangkok for an internship. I didn’t get the master’s finished, but typical me, I rewarded myself anyway. We got such a great deal on tickets! I got mine for something like $800 and my kid’s for $600 because we were travelling off season. And we stopped in Seoul for a week on the way there and a week in Tokyo on the way back (and stayed with relatives the whole time).  I know the summer is the worst possible time to go to Thailand – heat and rain – but still. Well, makes for good thesis break daydreaming anyway. And it takes my mind off that fact that my best connection in London is almost gone (they move in two weeks).

These are terms people used to find my blog yesterday.

(Reminds me that I need to tell the last half of my dog bite story.)

loyal jewelry store in los angeles calif 2
dog bite – is it okay to have tetanus in 1
benbridge jewelry 1
joggers dog protection 1
janet cardiff binaural 1
zero points soup

I am desperately trying to get 6 hours in today before leaving for the beach – oops, I mean the library!

I have just found something shocking and exciting at This is an audio tour company launched in 2001 (almost ten years after Cardiff’s first audio walk) that completely and totally rips off her ideas and presents them as “Soundwalks – audio tours for people who don’t normally take audio tours.”

This is why Cardiff’s audio walks cannot go on ad infinitum – they are TOO consumable and desirable – TOO close to consumable pop culture. Granted, art can be seen as being on the fringe of culture – so mainstream culture is bound to catch up sooner or later – but on the other hand, her work and maybe the work of a few others (Jeff Koons!) is so close that it starts to challenge what art is by doing what art is not supposed to do – that is to her work courts and seduces the viewer (like advertising and entertainment…) and the viewer stops being challenged to think.

These soundwalks take Cardiff’s audio walks to the next (hilarious) level: a “Da Vinci Code soundwalk, at the Louvre narrated by Jean Reno (think: Leon from The Professional). The sample audio starts with a recorded recording. It is (supposedly Audrey Tatou?) saying “Professor Langdon, Do not react to this message. you must follow my directions very closely… You are in grave danger…” It plunges you into intrigue and treats you like one of the characters, just like the audio Walks.

Then, the real Jean Reno introduces himself (I guess this is the downward trajectory of a movie career) as Captain Bezu Fache. He says, “Don’t go anywhere unless I say so. I am going to take you to a scene of a crime after all. Be one with me … Can you hear my footsteps? Good.” This is almost word for word like The Missing Voice (case study B), which takes place in in Jack the Ripper’s Spitalfields in London.

For my last half hour of my six-hours today I will count blogging as “thesis activity”(and I swear not to talk about beach time breaks or mountain bike buying).

Just for the record: doing thesis stuff for six hours every day (not weekends) is GRUELING work. And I have been pretty good. Listen to this:

Monday – 6 hours

Tuesday – 6 hours

Wednesday – 4 hours

Thursday – 4 1/2 hours

Friday – 6 hours

I think I have been doing enough new reading to qualify as a graduate class. So far I have read, in full, Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began by Ellen Dissanayake (2000) – with a chapter titled “Mutuality,” how could I resist? The Third Hand: collaboration in art from conceptualism to postmodernism by Charles Green (excellent text – made think think a lot) and most of At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet eds, Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark (most interesting when she talks about her grandfather, who invented the envelope folding machine [?!]) and Sound by Artists edited by Dan Lander and Micah Lexier (where I had a research breakthrough).

I got help and direction from a stranger I’ve been emailing while chasing down Janet Cardiff blogs. No, really! I found myself at great little blog, apparently by a guy running an alternative art gallery in Montreal of all places. Now, this guy really, really doesn’t like Cardiff’s work, which is exactly what I have been looking for, since her work seems to avoid criticality somehow. Then after every one of Zeke’s posts just bagging on Cardiff’s work, there would be a response from a guy named Cedric – a very thoughtful, well-informed response. I thought to myself – OMG I haven’t even spoken to one Canadian about her work… and I quickly wrote Cedric an email introducing myself and asking what resources he might recommend in terms of placing Cardiff in an art-historical context.

Next morning, I have an email – not from Cedric- but from Zeke, that gallery owner guy in Montreal! Well, not an email, but an email notifying me that he had posted a response on my blog. I was astonished, because only a handful of people know my blog exist.

Then, I got an email from Cedric: a great email, five pages long with tons of info, book title recommendations and links! So, there you have it: my first two strangers online,and it was because of my thesis. ( I won’t count the time I accidentally got on an “adult” chat room…)

Okay, time for me to come out of the closet. My latest craze has been…

Weight Watchers.

I’ve been trying to lose 10 pounds off and on for about ten years. Because I was thin and so active when I was younger, I never developed a sense of portion control or even, any sense of restriction towards eating, which has made losing even a few pounds very difficult. In fact, I would consider eating one of my favorite hobbies: my friend has dubbed it “sport eating.”

Still, I feel that normally I eat pretty well, i.e. fast food in moderation, five veggies a day etc. I usually just amp the veggies when I think I need to lose a pound or two. Then, a few weeks ago, I heard a few teachers at lunch talk animatedly about Weight Watcher Flex points. These guys were old pros, and one woman had lost 25 pounds on this system. It turns out that if you eat 20 points a day (if you weigh between 100-150 pounds) that you will lose 2-3 pounds a week. Out of curiosity, I began to keep track of my points.

Real eye-opener. I was consuming, on a regular basis, 33-40 points a day. Well, no wonder my pants just keep getting tighter. For two weeks I just observed my points and very casually tried to reduce how much I was eating. Sheesh, hard! On the other hand, if this system works, it will only take five weeks to lose ten pounds, and then it’ll just be maintainance. Plus, solid running for 1/2 hour earns me three more points.

Points make sense to me. Almost all veggies are ZERO points. Most fruits (except bananas=2) are 1 point. Everything else can be calculated with an online calculator, like one at the alexnolan site in my blogroll (see my follow-up post). You need (per serving): the calories, grams of fat, and grams of dietary fiber. At my house we are starting to write (in sharpie) how many points things are worth directly on the package. My kid thinks it’s funny, but doesn’t have much to worry about after 3 hours of swim practice (she gets something like 12 extra points for that!)

This system also explained why my boyfriend was always seeing much more dramatic results than me, when we were on the same regime. He needs 24 points a day for the same weight loss AND when he runs for 1/2 hour it counts as 4 points.

Which brings me to our own version of Weight Watcher meetings. He and I are in a race to see who consumes fewer points this week; the loser buys the winner a $100 gift of choice. I am losing right now (two meals out and ice cream in palm springs) but I plan on eating only vegetables for the next couple days. I really want my very own Makita drill.

See below for a zero point recipe.

leafy sea dragon I saw this cute Leafy Sea Dragon at the Long Beach Aquarium. This Aquarium leans towards the exotic and glamourous, but it is pretty fun to be where they breed these guys! Also got to stroke a manta ray. Be aware: they lie about giving free admission to teachers scoping the place out. Teachers get in free only with advance notice after the field trip is booked and only on Thursday night between 6-8 pm. How lame-o is that!?

Here are some more friends I made that day. 04-11-06_1255.jpg