Serial Star Granted Retrial On Potentially Unreliable Cell Science Testimony

It was the most popular podcast in history. From the creators of This American Life, Serial became a cultural craze in 2014. Millions of people have listened to the true crime story of Adnan Syed’s conviction for murdering his ex girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Serial Season 1 had it all: lust, reverse racism and pre millennial technology.

A judge in Maryland today granted Adnan Syed a retrial despite the fact that he was out of appeals. The Peabody winning podcast may result in a get out of jail “free” card for Mr. Syed. He’s served 16 years of a life sentence.

The retrial was granted based on cell phone expert Abraham Waranowitz’s affidavit questioning his own testimony. Waranowitz says that he was not shown a critical AT&T disclaimer on the cell phone data he used to conclude that Syed had been at the location Lee’s body was found buried on the night of the murder. The disclaimer explained that “Outgoing calls only are reliable for location status. Any incoming calls will NOT be considered reliable information for location.” The data interpreted by Mr. Waranowitz was from incoming calls. He has made a formal statement that his testimony was potentially unreliable.

Lee’s family has expressed dismay that nobody has spoken out on behalf of Hae with the same voracity as Serial’s host Sarah Koenig has spoken on for Adnan Syed. He’s getting a retrial and likely out of jail because he’s famous. His own lawyer said as much in the New York Times today. We have a fucked up justice system, what else is new?

Serial Star Granted Retrial On Potentially Unreliable Cell Science Testimony

Berkeley’s Simply Bowl: Is It Real Poke?


Poke is trendy. Spelling it, “poké” is trendy. Berkeleyside’s Nosh writer Kate Williams said that poke is, “the new burrito-smoothie-bubble tea-13 dollar salad.” WeWorkers, Cal students and everyone everywhere flock to Simply Bowl in downtown Berkeley. Is the poke they serve there “real?”

My boss thinks that the Simply Bowl(s) do not contain “real” Hawaiian poke. His reasons are: it’s not marinated and the bowls contain squid and wet stuff (seaweed?), which are not authentic ingredients. Regarding his marination accusation, Kate’s response is, “most poke isn’t marinated, just tossed in sauce.” She says the fact can be verified in, “ALL OF THE STORIES about poke in Serious Eats.” I thought marinated fish was ceviche.

Poke comes from the Hawaiian verb “to section, slice, or cut,” so it’s open to a chef’s interpretation. I’m not a chef, but I say that avocado cubes do not a poke make. I’m pretty sure you need raw fish to make poke.

People in these parts flock to Simply Bowl. I had a spicy poke salad today and now my gut hurts. Kate also pointed out that Simply Bowl doesn’t allow you to build your own poke bowl. You have to go to San Francisco for that. Or you can build your own cinnamon roll down the street at at Cinnaholic.

Berkeley’s Simply Bowl: Is It Real Poke?

Do Setups Suck?

In my early 20s a fellow teacher asked me if she could set me up with someone. I agreed. That was dumb. It turned out to be her fiancé’s roommate. Roommate and Fiancé were best friends. Roommate went everywhere with Fiancé. Fellow Teacher was tired of the third wheel.

Roommate and I went on a double date with Fellow Teacher and Fiancé to Medieval Times. He picked me up in a turquoise Camaro. He was obese. He didn’t speak to me at dinner. Afterward we watched a movie. He repeatedly said, “this is gay.” He meant that negatively. When he dropped me off he tried to stick his tongue down my throat in front of my neighbors. I danced out of the way and they loudly ridiculed him. He told me to, “fuck off.”

The selfish setup sucks. Consider what a friend’s ulterior motives might be when they offer to find you a match. My second ever setup was with a friend’s boss’ son. I agreed. That was also dumb.

Setups are a lot of pressure. Do you owe a setup more of a chance to spark because they are a friend of a friend? You might try to force a connection that just isn’t there. There’s also pressure on the person who played matchmaker. They may find themselves in the middle of a mess.

When a friend recently offered to set me up, I took him up on it. When I started describing the qualities I was looking for, he cut me off. “I’m going to find you a gentleman,” he said. He meant someone who doesn’t have sex with me and immediately disappear. It’s a low bar, but sadly necessary of late. Throw in someone who speaks but doesn’t tell me to, “fuck off” and you’ve got yourself a blind date. It’s only a date.

Do Setups Suck?

Wear Tilden To Outside Lands

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Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem (Animal!) will be at Outside Lands in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park this year. It’s not too soon to start planning what you’re going to wear. You’ll want something beautiful, practical, breathable and fun. You should pick up something special from Tilden.

I’ll be featuring Tilden in an upcoming story about festival fashion in The Bold Italic. I met with him last night at Jupiter in Berkeley to discuss the plan. He brought me an amazing bag (see photo above) as an example of his work. I don’t want to give too much of the story away now, but I will say that Tilden is absolutely the designer you want to dress you for Outside Lands or anytime really. He makes women’s’ and men’s clothing (natural fibers, 100% vegan) including selvedge denim. Check out Tilden’s clothes on Instagram.

I love my little bag with the blue cacti print so much!

Wear Tilden To Outside Lands

SF Pride

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Last night my friend D and I donned our blue and pink wigs and went to California Academy of Science’s Pride NightLife event. We got to use the staff entrance with the drag queens and were asked, “Are you ladies on the list?” It kind of made me giddy. I wondered why I didn’t go to “Such and Such Day at the Such and Such Museum” events more often. As I waited on line to have a sea cucumber excrete in my hand, I remembered why I don’t usually go to such things. They are crowded as fuck. Fun fact: When a sea cucumber gets stressed, it eviscerates its own organs only to regrow them later.

I wasn’t about to go sea cucumber but I was annoyed about spending a couple waiting everywhere. The spicy margaritas with the peppers that made my lips numb were worth the wait, however. We got some free rainbow sunglasses and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to take a selfie with fish.

Heklina’s show was great. Her legs and ability to strut in high heels made me jealous. When I met her afterward, I was star struck. I’m working on a story for The Bold Italic about female urination devices so I used a urinal in the men’s bathroom. Nobody cared. I ate McDonald’s afterward and felt very guilty. San Francisco is confusing.

SF Pride

Cats In The Hall

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I live in Downtown Berkeley and my apartment building has a cat infestation. Two identical stray cats have taken up residence in the hallways. One of them dropped out of a ceiling fan onto the washing machine while I was doing laundry once and scared the fuck out of me. The front door of the building doesn’t close and they can easily scootch in under the security gate. At first it was a cute surprise but now I feel like a shit head for not feeding them when evidence abounds that other dwellers around me clearly are.

We are not a neighborly bunch. Residents come and go a lot as the building is near Cal. I saw my landlord in the lobby and asked him about it. He said they were trying to catch the cats. Huh? One of them zoomed into my apartment once and I just picked it up and carried it outside. I really don’t want fleas. I know I suck.

I googled and found that I am not alone in this problem. In Miami, a man shot at his neighbors for refusing to stop feeding strays in their shared apartment complex. On the other end of the spectrum, a stray in Russia living in an apartment’s hallways was heralded after saving an abandoned infant from freezing to death. I hope Marsha the cat got a real place to live after that.

Friend or foe, what are you supposed to do about stray cats living in your apartment building? The Humane Society has specific advise for housing managers. TNR stands for, “trap, neuter, and return.” Managers are supposed to get the cats all fixed up at the vet and then either take them to some kind of community group or ask the residents to continue caring for them. I’m not paying rent to live in an animal shelter? I know I suck.

There are laws in California pertaining to feral cats but as far as I can tell these laws leave the specifics to local government. The City of Berkeley website also suggests a TNR approach but also has a section called, “Do Feral Cats Lead Short, Miserable Lives?” and advice for keeping the cats out of your garden (ultrasonic cat repellents and motion activated sprinklers). Poor kitties.

Cats In The Hall

Great Date Idea: Andy’s Orchard

My friends the W sisters invited me to go apricot picking Sunday. We left really early and headed to Morgan Hill and Andy Marinai’s Orchard. It was $15 for all you can eat stone fruit sampling (like a farmer’s market but with a much wider variety of fruit, jams, chocolate covered fruit…), a farm tour (Did you know it’s the pits that flavor cherry cola?) and picking (also all you can eat stone fruit sampling). According to KQED Food, “Mariani’s 250-plus varieties of stone fruit — cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and hybrids — represent the most extensive collection of heirloom fruit on the West Coast.” Andy is a wizard of horticultural.

At the tasting, I filled my belly. My favorite was the Raspberry Red Nectarine. I was very patient and didn’t elbow any fathers or step on any kids (it was Father’s Day). It’s a tasty zoo. I don’t make for the best agrotourist because the fun fruit facts from our docent bored me and it was really hot. I soon wandered into the trees. There were cherries to pick. I got a few plums. I was disappointed that the apricots were either not ripe or cracked. I bought some in the store.

My friends made a delicious not too sweet fruit tart with a biscuity crust. My coworkers raved about the delicious cherries. I went cherry picking outside of Los Angeles once and the trees were rather stumpy. It was like fishing with a net. I recommend picking at Andy’s Orchard as a fun family activity. If you’re like me and don’t have a family, take your foodie friends or a date. You can feed each other sweet things and show off your adorable straw hat.

Andy’s Tips

  1. Don’t buy Styrofoam fruit at the grocery store and find a trusted farmer at the market because sometimes you’re being sold that same Styrofoam fruit illegally.
  2. Know what’s in peak season.
  3. Speckled nectarines are the sweetest.
  4. Don’t be afraid to smell the fruit to check for ripeness except plums and cherries.
  5. Don’t cook peaches.
Great Date Idea: Andy’s Orchard