Of Yoga & SF Yogis

I can't get over how up-their-posteriors SF's "yogi" and "yogini" faction of society tends to be.  People, you are doing some stretching & breathing exercises, and your flexibility is admirable.  Limber, you are.  Here is what you are NOT:

- Indian, despite you giving off vibes of being more Indian than Indians born and raised in India.
- Possessing of a close kinship to Lord Shiva, and intimately aware of what he would wish of the masses.  No, really. 
- Capable of being immersed into a collective consciousness on a molecular level, as is the nature of Asian cultures.  Living in a commune does not count, I'm afraid.
- Particularly egalitarian.  I'm no authority on yoga myself, but I doubt if it encourages practitioners to establish a sub-class system based on frequency of class attendance, deliberate spacy-ness, flexibility, & number of piercings/dreadlocks.

Get over yourselves.  You get the cheap daytime classes while the rest of us are out at work subsidizing you.  Be thankful for THAT, and move over to let us also unwind in the evening classes, judgment-free.

Unexpected Success (a.k.a. Raspberry Skillet Upside Down Cake)

Buying stuff for the kitchen is an obsession for me.  Obsession #2, right after food itself.  So, armed with new Le Creuset cast iron skillet (yes, it was my second, but this was a different SIZE... everyone who is anyone knows that size matters, so that resets all past purchases!!), I decided to try out a recipe that was a hybrid between Bi-Rite Market's "Skillet Upside Down Pear Cake" and this one.  Deadly, if I do say so myself. 

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup butter (about 3/4 stick butter) -- SAVE THE WRAPPER
1.25 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Good pinch salt
3 large eggs
1.25 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Get a cake stand or flat plate (diameter larger than the skillet) ready.

Melt the butter in a pan of your choice (not the skillet you will be using).  Mix the brown sugar and melted butter in the skillet and spread it evenly over the bottom.  Now take the saved butter wrapper and rub it on the sides of the skillet... it will be sufficient grease.  If you think it's not enough, dip into the butter-sugar mixture a bit... it's sufficient, trust me.
Arrange the raspberries, over the brown sugar in the skillet, filling the entire space so no butter-sugar mixture is visible. 
Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs for about a minute at high speed, then add the sugar.  Beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and beat another 30 seconds or so.  Add the flour mixture and beat until everything is smooth and combined.  Do not overmix, or the cake will tend towards a tough crumb.
Pour the batter over the berries in the skillet, then carefully spread it out to cover the berries, and even out the surface, if needed.  Bake the cake until the top is firm and golden, about 35 – 40 minutes.  Check the cake with a toothpick or tester; it’s done when it comes out clean-ish (a few sticky crumbs never hurt anyone).
Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and carefully invert the skillet onto your cake stand or plate.  Leave it to sit for a couple of minutes so that the skillet fully releases the fruit and butter-sugar mixture.  Remove the skillet, and voila... best enjoyed warm (and it stands up to a bit of warming up in the microwave, without any compromise in taste).

Whole Wheat Banana Bread (Another recipe modification for those who care to try :-) )

Modified from the "Tartine Bakery"cookbook.  Everything they make is delicious, but one's got to try to keep some semblance of discipline in one's life.  Therefore, the attempt to make as many baked products as possible with non-white flour.

- 155g (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour [I substituted this for WW pastry flour]
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 255g (3 medium) unpeeled bananas, very ripe [I used 4... see note below]
- 2 large eggs
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 85g (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 170g (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar [I reduced the quantity of sugar by 3 or so tbsp]
- 115g (1 cup) walnuts, chopped
[I added chopped dark chocolate, since no dessert is acceptable in our home sans chocolate chips]
- 225g (1-3/4 cups) pitted dates, coarsely chopped [I used barely half this amount]

Topping [I didn't go for the topping... I just crammed this extra banana into the cake for added moisture, given the WW flour substitution]- 1 medium banana
- 2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 165°C (325°F). Line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper -- forgo the buttering and flouring of the pan...trust me, this is much healthier, and the bread keeps better in this paper, with an extra wrapping of foil .

In medium bowl, stir together the flour and cornstarch. Peel the bananas and mash them in a second bowl. Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt, and combine thoroughly.

In a large mixing bowl, add the butter, then sprinkle the cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda over. Beat the butter until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar while beating until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Beat in the banana mixture until incorporated. Sift the flour-cornstarch mixture over the batter and fold in gently with a rubber spatula. Add the nuts and dates. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue folding until everything is well-combined. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and smooth with a spatula.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool, then invert onto a cooling rack, then flip right side up. Serve at room temperature.

NEXT UP -- Substituting carrots for zucchini in Tartine's zucchini bread recipe :-)  Gotta put that 10 lb bag of organic carrots to use!

How about if...

Instead of the plain ol’ finger or glare that can often be taken as NON-constructive criticism, I suggest every car come equipped with these pre-loaded messages to be flashed at appropriate moments:

- Even your grandma's Buick could’ve made that turn in its own lane. Your car begs a better driver.
- Phone books need to make a comeback, if only so you can clear the wheel height & not be a menace.
- Clearly they’re not making smart enough cars yet to compensate for your kind. If I wasn’t in a hurry, I would let you hit my car on your next abrupt lane change, for the amusement factor.
- Seriously… the make-up doesn’t help you enough (if at all) to risk my life over.
- Take some chill-out lessons from the canine in the back seat. Stop suffering from fear of missing out on potholes in every lane.
- (to some bikers) We already know you’re an impossibly cool & ironic hipster. What could possibly further increase your appeal & demand? Reduced supply! Stay home!!
- (to tourists, on foot) Does everything look more appealing from the middle of the road? Would the camera angle be lost once you crossed to the other side?
- (to tourists, in cars) Is it really that hard to locate map & destination BEFORE you start driving?
- (to the 99% out there right now) Is the idea to occupy 99% of the streets so that the % of the 99 that are still paying taxes to support you can’t get to work? And please stop that infernal noise with your guitar.
- If we were part of that experiment where I could shock you as punishment, you would be in orbit right now.

Trial & error. And voila... a batch of scones!

Those who know me know that I adore anything with greater than 1/2 a stick of butter per helping (but, no, I still cannot tolerate Paula Deen. AT ALL. She makes me want to take a drill to my ears to stop the infernal noise of her voice. And ice picks to my eyes to prevent them from ever seeing one of her creations in any stage of prep.). ANYWAY, for those that want it, here is the recipe that B, my mum & I have settled on as the household favorite. Taken from the Tartine cookbook & epicurious.com, with some random additions & adaptations:

BUTTERMILK SCONES (makes as many scones as you put your mind to, but approximately 12 large ones)
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dried currants
1 tbsp. baking powder (I have mis-read this before & put in 1 tsp... they still came out pretty good)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup sugar (I use whatever fine grained sugar I have at hand, but not muscavado)
1/2 tsp. of salt (the original recipes call for 1 1/4 tsp. salt, but it doesn't do it for me... depending on how altered my state is, I can sometimes taste it, which sucks for a scone)
1 cup cold, unsalted butter (Can't stress this enough. COLD. I freeze a few sticks of butter simply for this reason)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (you will need more than this. This is what the original Tartine recipe calls for, but I have ALWAYS ended up needing more... just add more little by little until the mixture is wet & somewhat sticky).
Grated zest of 1 lemon/lime/orange
Chocolate chips/chunks, according to taste
Coarse brown sugar to sprinkle on top

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or the like).
2. Pour hot water into a small bowl and pour the currants inside, allowing them to plump up (about 10 minutes). Once they've softened and plumped, drain the currants.
3. Put the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt & sugar into a food processor bowl.
4. Cut the butter into 1 inch cubes and add them to the dry ingredients in the bowl. Pulse the processor to combine, without breaking down the butter too much (you want the mixture to be coarse, with visible pea-sized pieces of butter).
5. Put the dry mixture into a (regular mixing) bowl, and pour in the buttermilk, lemon zest, currants & chocolate. Mix well (use your hands, as it's the best way to tell when it's time to stop adding liquid).
6. Dust a large cutting board, or the kitchen counter, with flour and place the dough onto it, shaping it into a long rectangle or round shape, depending on how you want to shape your scones. Cut into equal sized portions.
7. Sprinkle with coarse brown sugar.
8. Bake the scones for approximately 25 to 35 minutes (until the surface is lightly browned).
9. Pig out & enjoy subsequent food coma.

The Hesitant Baker

I have recently laid my hands on the 2 most essential things a fledgling baker is wont to crave:

- Solid recipes, preferably with tons of pictures to keep the motivation up
- Guinea pig, of the human variety, with a sturdy gastro-intestinal tract.

I won't add "stand mixer" to the list because I've owned that for ages, and ladled out nothing but dust from it, on occasion.

So far, the following things have been attempted, but FAR from perfected:

- Irish brown bread
- Irish soda bread (yes, they are different. According to Avoca cafe, anyway)
- Scones (recipes from Avoca AND Tartine... I prefer Tartine's, but only marginally!)
- Banana bread (Avoca recipe is my favorite)
- Several variations of chocolate cookies. The whole wheat-oatmeal ones from 101cookbooks.com is the reigning favorite at home, but it's a fickle audience. The recipe from David Lebowitz is pick 2, but it's looking like it may be the long-term favorite. Once I PERFECT a chocolate chip recipe, as infuriating a task as it seems, I'm passing it down the generations. I don't even care if the generations did not emerge from my loins... someone's getting the damn thing, whether they like it or not!

Baking has breathed new life into my desire to eat & live healthy. I urge anyone wishing to be on that quest to devote themselves to baking for a bit. Contrary to what may seem like common sense, the "lighter & fluffier" the product, the higher the chances that the ingredients are anything but. For instance, let's take the unassuming scone. Looks non-oily, flaky/crumbly & innocent, right? WRONG!! A COPIOUS quantity of butter makes its way into every batch... in fact, the recipe calls for making sure the butter is plenty, cold, not over-mixed, and left as pea size pieces to maximize the flaky texture. Yup, pea size pieces. Pea. Sized. Pieces (as in, plural). Now I don't care where you live, and the size of the peas you get there... pea sized pieces of butter are NOT small enough in ANY country to make me feel good about the union of them & my ass. Enough said. Now back to making a batch, and living vicariously by watching B eat them, and perhaps nibbling the edges. THANK GOD for the 2% spandex in these jeans.

Of reviews & reviewers...

So… I was reading some online reviews for restaurants & bars just the other day, with some wildly misplaced faith in the power of the collective experience & intellect, to ascertain whether the new restaurant we were heading to was any good. By the end of 10 mins, I knew little to nothing about the food at the hot new restaurant. It did, however, occur to me that there should be a method for capturing (and publishing) reviewer demographics. Just so one can put the reviews in perspective, y'know, and go straight to the correct section (informative, entertaining, bizarre & demented... you catch my drift) instead of trying to sift through reviews that begin with "OMG, this was the worst dinner EVER. Broke my stiletto heel on the pavement right outside, and the homeless did NOTHING to help me. I'm like, WTF?!... blah blah" to find out whether the gnocchi was fluffy enough. I have concluded that MOST reviews for eating or drinking establishments don’t even purport to address anything related to the wares offered by the business. As an example, most restaurant reviews are about the date that brought them there, the dishiness quotient of the server, the fact that the neighboring table was too loud or having a much better time than the reviewer, etc etc. Anyway, I digress. I'm thinking that the demographics should be slotted according to criteria more apt & contemporary than the usual yawn-inducing age/education/salary ones, as these review sites have proven that none of those can guarantee a brain or the ability to put it to use. Perhaps some options such as these?
- I'm a generally malcontent cow...check out my other reviews for a real dose of bile. Nothing could make me happy. When I'm not writing these reviews, I am seething about why nobody will date me.
- I like to put down "I work in this industry" in my reviews to gain credibility, but what I really mean is that I'm the ONLY ONE who works in this industry. The rest of the lazy fucks are just out to get my overtime pay. Which I would achieve in just the time it takes me to turn one order around
- I have daddy issues and/or will do ANYTHING for the attention I was denied in my childhood/youth. This needlessly slutty review for a gelato shop is just the tip of the iceberg
- Wait, this ISN'T a dating site? Really? So I shouldn't mention that I am single, fabulous, and hint at my amazing sexual vigor in every post?
- Nobody caters to me in this new city, esp. not the merchants. I want my mommy!!

Another rager. This time with a slight twist.

The original plan: A farewell party for a friend moving to give true love its due
The gathering was pretty much as expected. D, T & I landed up to find a group of friendly, hyper-networked, high-achieving folks, with some having graduated from Harvard, etc. My first thought was that I was happy to have had assistance of the vapor kind prior to the event. Everything is 100X more entertaining when high. The person we were there for is pretty cool, but I didn't know her very well yet, and in a place as loud as that, it's just tough to hold a proper conversation anyway. Plus, she had other folks to attend to as well. I texted N to ask if he was coming, and he said "not likely". But our departing friend was having none of that, so being the sensitive soul that I am, I texted him again & said that he should. After a couple of texts (enough to make him feel sufficiently important & in demand), he landed up with a friend. A designer. Nice enough chap. Unfortunately, I have forgotten what exactly he designs. Already having slammed 3 drinks by then (wine + sake), the idea of going to another bar on Polk suddenly sounded infinitely more appealing than it would have minus those drinks.

Deviation from plan: A different bar on Polk
When we get there, it turns out that there was an agenda. Of the female kind. No surprise, as there always is one, with N. It turned out that she's from out of town, is pretty nice, and has 5-6 friends with her - they are gathered here from all over the US to vacation together... nice! The place was PACKED and one can't breathe without causing a human wave by merely that action. We proceeded to drink even more. N proceeded to tell the chick that I was a masseuse specializing in tantric massages. Uproarious laughter ensued. After 10 mins, to the side, she asked me "are you really a masseuse?". Clearly she does not know N too well yet. I was wearing my David Hasselhoff fan club T-shirt and showed it to my new friends. A German fellow walks up to me and says, "nobody believes me when I tell them that people love him in Germany". I assured him that I had several German friends who had told me that, and at least one that I trusted implicitly, so I saw no reason to doubt him. By this time, I was starting to get to the point of "I'm not going to remember tomorrow what I say from now on", so I decided to stick with my own from then on.

Deviation from deviation: After hours house party
After the last few bar patrons (us) were finally herded/shoved out by the bouncers, someone uttered the sweetest words to ever escape anyone's lips at 2 a.m. in the US: "let's go to such-and-such house party". Now...often, this person is me. Over the years, I've subjected M to several such impromptu parties at 2:15 a.m., spill-overs from seemingly harmless 6 p.m. happy hours after work. Anyway, back to the point: this time, it was not me. Some part of my brain that still had some tenuous hold on reality remembered that because Papa was home, I could not take my 10 new BFFs home with me. We bundled up into cabs and headed to this house party. After parking ourselves on one of the couches, a can of beer appeared, and was duly consumed. The girls & I were inseparable by now, more likely due to the dearth of seating space than my unfailing charm. Numbers were exchanged, and promises made to stay in touch forever and ever. As abruptly as he had disappeared, N re-appeared with the chick. A few minutes later, a guy came up to him/us, visibly upset, and said "that was NOT cool, dude. I don't even know you. That wasn't RIGHT!". Then he asked N to leave. Obviously, we stood by our man and left with him. Upon being pressed for details, N revealed that he and the chick were, um, getting to know each other better, and the room they happened to pick was his. Understandably, knowing neither party involved, he took offense to their choice of locations in which to conduct their business.

The finale: N's place, the volcano, and missing time
Being unceremoniously ejected in this manner took its toll on our drunken stupor, reducing it just enough to enable us to locate a cab. We headed to N's place to resume our single-minded pursuit of being totally obliterated (by this time, caution had been thrown to the wind (if you recall, more intoxicants than one were at work), and it had been decided that Papa's guilt trip about being out too late, leading to him worrying ceaselessly, would be dealt with when the time came... cross that bridge when it's got to, and all that). Anyway, we get to N's by around 4, promptly put the volcano to good use, and talk random gibberish for a couple of mins. I think. Then I topple to the side like a baby who hasn't quite figured out the concept of balance, and promptly pass out. I wake up in a couple of hours, see it's past 6 a.m., and my first thought is "FUUUUUCK. I have to go home to Papa". Dropped designer boy off on the way, and then snuck back into my own apartment with the stealth of a persistently errant spouse. As predicted, guilt trip was delivered, and duly accepted, later in the morning.

Oh San Francisco, how I love thee...

Living in San Francisco is a source of endless entertainment. Allow me to introduce you to but a few reasons why I love this city…

The EndUp: At what other “open to the public” club else can you end up (hehehe) for the whole weekend without break, with your ecstasy-procured 10 closest friends du jour? Oh, and where else can you experience the joy of someone expressing their interest by sleazing up to you and humping your leg on the dance floor? Oh yeah. Feel the love.

Farmers markets & sustainable consumerism: Since I got on this organic/local food bandwagon (you know how these things happen as you get older and are badgered into being more "aware" of the environment, and supporting the local farmers, etc. etc.), I try to drag my hung-over ass to this market on saturdays in the mid-mornings to endure the throngs of tourists who ogle and sample, yet hang on to their money with the ferocious tenacity that PK’s dog displays towards sticking his muzzle into guests’ crotches. Now this place can test one’s patience… for instance, if one more Martha-wannabe (Martha the food empire queen, not Martha the felon) tries to make suggestions to me like: "toast some crusty day old bread, top with some fromage blanc, green garlic, and a sprinkling of tarragon, and you have a quick and delicious snack. You can also choose to put some herbed goat cheese, warren pears, and candied walnuts on sesame baguette instead", I am going to flip the hell out. I go to this market for various reasons... listening to these smug earth mother types dole out ooh-la-la kind of gourmet friggin' recipes that I will likely NEVER be able to identify or dredge up the ingredients for is NOT one of them! Just sell me the goddamn fruits and save the Martha act for someone who puts their opposing thumbs to good use in the kitchen.

(Now that we are on the topic of markets) Rainbow Groceries: This place should be a must-visit for any tourist to really know SF. It is the poster child for every health buzzword ever. E-V-E-R. 100% vegetarian, organic, bio-dynamic, sustainable, free trade, responsible farming practice generated, wholesome, supportive of women organizations in Ghana… find one that it doesn’t exemplify, I challenge you. It houses magazines such as “midwifery today”. Everyone brings their own containers and avoids using plastic bags. It whispers seductively to me to be a better person than the unworthy skank mired in processed foods that I have no doubt been judged as in this temple. I’ve resisted it for well over 5 years.

“Unique” style: The fashions here are so retro that fashion mags haven’t even caught up yet. Some of the stuff that comes out on SF streets was put into the bin for a reason decades ago. Other places revere Cavalli, Kors & Prada; in SF, it's vintage all the way, baby... if it's not been used by someone unknown prior to you, it just doesn't have enough character. If this stuff is not on display in the mission, wait for it to emerge during love parade, or Burning Man decompression.

EVERYONE is saving the planet: Especially those who essentially don’t have a choice but don't like to admit it. Basically, it’s an unspoken crime in SF to drive a car. Pedestrians give you attitude. Cyclists give you attitude. Even dogs give you attitude. Because you (yes, YOU, you asshole who works 30 miles away in a regular corporate job in an area with the shittiest public transportation in all of the first world) should really find a more responsible way to commute, and stop this war on the middle east, you heinous bitch! We are as up in arms about this saving the planet stuff as Sweden except we are too busy making sure we persecute those who we perceive are not doing enough to actually do more ourselves.

“Missed connections” on Craigslist: Because, well, apparently the dating habits of the young and restless now require you to do diddly squat at the time itself, but rush home and post what you’d like to do to the object of your desire on the bus for all and sundry to read. The posts almost always contain a nugget such as “our eyes met, you seemed as keen to reach out as I did” (maybe s/he was looking for a less crowded spot?), and “let’s get a coffee/drink and get to know each other”. Seriously?? Did you put all 3 of your brain cells together and think this could work? Does anyone ever succeed with those posts? You could be an axe murderer, dude! As it is, in SF, there is a 98% chance that you are into something weird that 98% of the rest of humanity is not. The only thing it would encourage me to do is stop taking the bus with creepy fuckers like that on it.

It’s a city with high regard for religion & spirituality: Running behind on bible study or Sunday school? Fear not… step out onto Market street, where you can be assured that every second being on the street is highly likely to jump out in front of you and recite some part of it. Or shake their head and laugh maniacally. Well, religion HAS been known to affect people in different ways. As for spirituality, no other city in the US aside from possibly NYC & LA (I don’t have the stats, sorry) has more meditation and/or yoga studios and options for kinky sex/orgies than SF. All paths to spiritual salvation are covered.

Food takes center stage: Let’s face it, aside from NYC (where it’s still not possible to claim that the food is from the restaurant’s own garden!) there is no city/state where nature’s bounty and the “everything goes” attitude of the average denizen allows the food to be of this quality and provide this abundance of choice (including some that don’t quite work, but what the hell).

There is no CSI: San Fransisco!!!! [although... can you even imagine what that team would be like? My guess would be 3 stoned nerds (moonlighting as detectives because their real jobs are in the s/w industry, obviously) pontificating the metaphysical aspects of the murder, with a "crystal therapy consultant" flown in from LA, a "healing masseuse" from the Mission, the tamale lady (for munchies, yo!), and a hot Marina chick thrown in simply to balance out the looks equation.]

Riveting events like these are commonplace:
- “Dreaming Awake: How James Joyce Invented Experimental Cinema and Disguised it as a Book”

- “Jim Douglass: Gandhi and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters” in which this gent (also has authored four other books including 'The Nonviolent Coming of God.') will provide us enlightenment around the unrecognized history behind Gandhi's assassination and how that provides a key to understanding the later murders of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the unspeakable targeting of a nonviolent vision today.”

It’s a city that’s militant about being tolerant: You cannot voice your less than enthusiastic opinion about A-N-Y issue, race, lifestyle, charity/cause, domesticated animal (you get the point)…ever ever. If you’re not going to open your mouth to gush about peace, love, tolerance and the importance of applying that indiscriminately in all aforementioned topics, depart the scene before you are lynched by an angry mob of do-gooders out to save everything under the sun. For instance, a casual statement such as “well, if this species is in its natural habitat and still requires this much help to survive from non-profit organizations while other species have adapted, maybe Darwin is calling?” will not win you any friends. Not even at the beer garden. Being called a cynic of the attempted socialist utopia in SF may well be worse than other curses beginning with the same alphabet.

And some other reasons...

Current Contemplations

- Would the rate of abortion drop dramatically if men were to have children instead of women? Would the general competitive spirit between men cause no fetus to be left behind?

- If perception is reality, and we all have our own perceptions of things, how many realities must there be at any given time? How do they all co-exist? Keeping this in mind, how can we ever expect to really see eye to eye with another person & be in a relationship with him/her? What if we all had to draw a “scene” from mental images only… how many renditions would there be? Can witnesses really be trusted?

- Why is it windier on bridges (than, say, flat lying areas)? I pretty sure there’s a physics theory for this… I just can’t think what.

- If sex is reasonably good the first time you have it with someone, how likely is it to be better the second time, when it may be sans the drunkenness & awkwardness of having to figure out what they don’t like? Should one-night stands like these actually be given 2 or 3 chances to gauge full potential?

- In most situations, and especially health, is it better to know, or not know? Would you rather drop dead of a disease without warning or continue to plod along allowing yourself only half the things you could do previously?

- When is it time to settle for less than the ideal (regardless of the situation)? What is the cost-benefit analysis, and what are the variables that should be considered?

- Given you could have only one in abundance, would you rather have the money or the time?

- Does privilege actually ruin us? When we cease having to use our skills to achieve something, do we tend to become the under-achieving mental/intellectual equivalents of aimless slugs? Is our drive, as a species, to acquire the most material comforts for our offspring potentially causing them more harm than good?

- What do children, being a largely negative NPV (net present value) project really provide for us aside from a well accepted and legitimized channel for our narcissism, and possibly one of the purest forms of selfishness (looking out for our own genes)?

- Given it’s normal for people to be selfish and look out for their own interests almost all the time, what causes people to be heroes? Is it just that they don’t have time to register the selfishness & think things over? Is there a higher, collective level of selfishness that is shared by the human race that supersedes the individual so that the species can not completely disappear? Does that happen in other species?

- Are humans the only species in the food chain without whom the planet could go on perfectly fine? Are we basically just a semi-intelligent virus?

- Who first looked at a pair of knickers, and a pair of stockings, both reasonably comfortable articles of clothing on their own, and sewed them together into the medieval torture contraption that is pantyhose?

- Ever wonder who picks the “feature presentation” movies for long haul flights? Is it a comedian with a macabre sense of humor, a thwarted script writer intent on indirectly torturing the potential audience s/he couldn’t have, a psychoanalyst trying to run a covert experiment to study the hand of media in complete mental breakdown, or just a true sadist (at par, perhaps, only with the inventor of pantyhose)?

- What is the psychology of boredom? Why are some people more easily bored than others? Is it wrong to be intellectually promiscuous (given there is no intent to follow through with a more conventionally understood form of cheating) – after all, can one person ever really completely satisfy another long term in this aspect?