Monday, January 31, 2005

spring rolls for lunch!

spring rolls!
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

Thanks to Elizabeth's suggestion, I have lunch today. Spring rolls! They were extremely easy to make. They aren't anywhere near as good as "real" spring rolls from Kim Son or Dalat, but if I study up on what exactly to put in them (instead of just picking veggies I thought of off the top of my head in the produce section), I may be able to come close. The first batch I made lacked cilantro just because I forgot about how essential it is. I bought some, and today I shall have cilantro-y spring rolls. I also didn't make my own peanut sauce, as Alicia suggested, but I think I will because I don't like the peanut sauce I bought.

The problem now is that I just started craving a hamburger ...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

So in light of the whole lunch discussion the other day,* I think I need to revisit the old crock-pot. One of my biggest problems is that it seems to turn everything into mush. I used to belong to a crock-pot listserv, back when I was earnestly trying to incorporate the crock pot into my lifestyle, and one of the things discussed there was that crock-pot makers have increased the heat settings over the past several years because of concerns over food safety. So the food is purportedly cooking hotter in the newer pots than in the old ones. Maybe that's why I can't recall a single good thing I've ever cooked in my crock pot. I do, however, remember many things that were just horrible and inedible. Maybe I need to try something again, or do something differently. Because in theory, the crock-pot is a modern marvel--dump stuff in, wait a while, and it comes out food. People dote on their crock pots. My mother bought me mine because she couldn't understand how I could live without one. So it must be something I'm doing wrong, right?

* Or maybe it was yesterday--all the days become exactly alike when you have a boring job.

I love Flickr

Originally uploaded by ya4c.

You never know what you're going to find there.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The most important question of the day ...

What's for lunch? If I don't bring my lunch (which has been very often recently ... I've got to get organized because it's too expensive to keep buying lunch) I start thinking about lunch at 9 am or so. Sometimes as early as 8:30. Anyway, it's all I can think about right now. Spaghetti from Angelo's? Subway? The vegetarian sampler from Station II? A salad from the Legislative cafeteria? Quizno's? Roly-Poly? Somehow this issue is always more important than whatever I'm working on.

I need to come up with some new and exciting homemade lunches to bring. It has to be either something easy to assemble, like a sandwich but more exciting, or it has to be something I can cook on Sunday and put into little containers that I can just grab on my way out in the morning. I'm really into one-dish meals. Even though I'm not a vegetarian, I'd prefer it to be meatless because I don't really like buying and cooking meat.

Anybody have any ideas?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Flickr rocks!

Literally--a guy who goes by the name birdw0rks has written a song about Flickr. It's fun. Lyrics are here. I do believe I shall play it on next week's show. (birdw0rks gave me permission, in case any of you quibbling WXDUers are wondering!)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Yep. It's cold. Sure is.

My catchphrase of the week: "This weather is bullshit, man!"

But here's something interesting (to me at least): I believe I've complained here before about my sore knee, which I feared would hurt until I die. I had been taking a glucosamine & chondroitin supplement for months without feeling any difference. In fact, if anything, the knee was hurting worse. So then my friend Ditto told me a couple of weeks ago that I should try doubling the dose. I figured what the hell, glucosamine isn't going to kill me, so I do it. Well goddamn if my knee ain't stopped hurting! Now I've been to grad school, so I know perfectly well that correlation does not equal causation. In other words, just because I double the glucosamine dose and two weeks later my knee doesn't hurt any more doesn't mean that one caused the other. In the interests of science, I should now either cut the dose back in half (or stop taking it altogether) and see if the pain returns. If it does, then I need to take the double-dose again and see if the pain disappears again. That still doesn't necessarily prove anything, but it coms a little close to proof, scientifically speaking.

But I'm not gonna. I'm just going to keep taking the double dose because it's such a cool thing for my knee not to be hurting that I don't want to take a chance of ruining it.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I heart Durham

So apparently I got lucky with my 2-hour drive home yesterday. The first question everyone asked me today at work was "So how long did it take you to get home yesterday?" Apparently, it took some people 6 or 7 hours. One of my co-workers spent the night in the office. He had tried to get home to Knightdale but decided to turn around after several hours of getting nowhere. Another Knightdale-bound co-worker managed to get a hotel room when it was clear she wasn't getting home. One of Mark's co-workers was in the car for seven hours from Durham to Raleigh. Students at some schools were stuck there all night.

It's funny because 3/4 of my journey yesterday was spent just trying to get from downtown Raleigh to US 70 (I bailed on the idea of I-40 after spending 45 minutes on Wade Ave. just to get to the point where I could see it would be at least 45 minutes more to the interstate). Once I got to 70, the road to Durham was free and clear. The eastbound lanes, however, were icy and gridlocked all the way back to Highway 98 in Durham. Ahhh, wonderful Durham! And to think we owe it all to our real estate agent, who said that out of all the places to live in the Triangle, Durham was the one she thought would suit us the best.

But what kills me is that this was just an inch of show! I think it's because early in the day, when the snow was just starting to stick, everyone said "Oh my god, I've got to get to the grocery store and buy a bunch of bread and milk!" And they drove like idiots and ended up in wrecks, ruining traffic for the rest of us.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I'm glad and mad ...

First I'm mad (OK, I can't really be mad about it because it's just one of those things), because we got some stupid snow today. Only about an inch, but around here that's like a state of emergency. I've bitched about this before--last winter in fact--so I won't go on an on about it except to say that I left work at 3:30 and didn't arrive home until 5:30.

But enough of that, because I'm glad. I'm glad because not only did I end up getting a show at WXDU next semester, but it's an awesome time slot: 8-10 pm Wednesdays! I'm splitting with Jason, so maybe some of his loyal listeners will forget which week he's on and tune in to my show by accident. I'll try to do my best to keep them tuning in. I may or may not be starting next week--I'll leave it up to Jason.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Let me clear out the cobwebs ...

I had a 3-day weekend. One of the few good things about working where I work* is that we get a few holidays not all private companies give, like MLK day, Good Friday and Veteran's Day. I spent most of my MLK Day on the sofa, alternating between reading and watching TV. It was glorious. I should do it more often. Every time I got the urge to go check e-mail or play on Flickr or do something "creative" I fought it, and I'm glad I did. Consequently, I don't really have anything interesting to say ...

Except that I am reading a cool book: Rising Fire : Volcanoes and Our Inner Lives by John Calderazzo. He got fascinated by volcanoes years ago when he was researching a children's book, so he just started running around learning about them, visiting them and rumiating about the way they shape the cultures affected by them. I'm fascinated by volcanoes as well, ever since our visit years ago to Mt. Arenal in Costa Rica. We were there for two days, and I hated to tear myself away when it was time to leave and spend a few days at the beach. Watching the volcano spit fiery rocks and ash from the porch of our little cabin was probably one of the funnest and most relaxing things I've ever done on vacation. Hiking up to an old lava flow was also fun, especially when the volcano "snorted" a bit while we were descending and rained ash down upon us (not good for the lungs, though.) When we went to Dominica two years ago, I was glued to the window of the plane as we flew past Montserrat, home of the Soufriere Hills volcano. Anyway, this book has completely reminded me of how cool volcanoes are. Why didn't I major in geology or something in college and become a vulcanologist? Stupid, stupid youth ... I should have some volcano opportunities while we're in Ecuador, however, which is a good thing.

* In answer to the question I always get: Our benefits aren't as great as everyone seems to think. Our health insurance really sucks and I don't go to the doctor because I have to pay too much every time. We have some kind of retirement thingie, but I don't plan on staying here long enough to retire. The pay sucks. We get NO bonuses, ever, and we rarely get raises because WE HAVE NO UNION. I basically work here for the vacation time--a good job is one you don't have to actually go to sometimes.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I'm getting adventurous ...

I just tried a dab of Marmite on a bite of potato pancake. Not bad, so I had another.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Happy Peggy Swink Day!

peggy swink

First some advance notice: Radio. Today. 4-6 pm. 88.7 if you're local. iff'n you ain't. This will, by necessity, be my last show from 4-6 pm Wednesdays. I don't know when my show will be henceforth (or if I'll get one!) because the new schedule does not exist. But I can't keep using half the vacation time I earn doing radio shows, and it has been occasionally disruptive for me to hightail it out of work early every other Wednesday. So now I have to compete for the same shifts that every other 'XDU dj wants, and I may end up getting nothing (I'd still do wrrld music shows on occasional Saturdays of course)

In better news, I tried the Marmite:
marmite tastingthe toasting of the breadthe spreadand now the marmiteready to eatthe bitechewing on it ...protocol variation: milkgomey sez no thanksi'll eat it!move over, lucy
Not so bad, really. I'd eat it again. I'm not so sure I'd ever crave the taste, however.

Monday, January 10, 2005

I'm just out of it ...

At some point (actually at several points) during every flyball tournament weekend I ask myself why on earth I do it. It's always exhausting because you have to get up really early (racing starts at 8 am) and do lots of physical activity all day long while surrounded by insanely energetic barking dogs. Often it involves many hours of driving to the tournament site on the Friday preceding the tournament, unless the tournament is local, which means my club is probably hosting it which is actually worse because it involves a huge amount of work the day before the tournament.

I guess I do it because it's a fun thing to do with my dog ... at least that's why I started doing it. I got involved sort of by chance; Mr. Pants and I were playing with our dogs at Montrose Beach in Chicago, and a woman (AgilityNerd's partner Nancy), asked me if I had ever heard of flyball. She invited me to her team's practices. We went, Lucy and I learned flyball (it took a little over 6 months to get her, I mean us, ready to compete), we competed and I guess I was hooked. When we moved to NC one of the first things I did was contact a local team and ask if I could join. (They said yes.)

But flyball tournaments really wear me out and while I'm there, feeling tired and often having sinus problems from all the dust and dog hair, I frequently think "This is insane!" And I guess it is. When I tell people about flyball and that I will drive to other states for tournaments, they almost always ask "Can you win a lot of money at the tournaments?" When I explain that no, there's no money in it whatsoever and that we pay entry fees plus travel and hotel costs, they look at me as if I'm on crack. No, I can't afford crack after spending all my money on dog sports.

But I used to know a guy who was seriously into civil war re-enactments, and let me tell you they spend way more money for the opportunity to wear authentic period gear while slogging around in all kinds of weather pretending to kill one another and/or die. When I think about it, it makes me feel like my dog sport thing is perfectly normal.

At any rate, all of the above was a very roundabout way of explaining that I have absolutely no new thoughts or insights about which to ruminate in this here blog. But last week, I had a few remotely interesting thoughts which resulted in some fun photos:

marmite125marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite field trip!marmite & canada dry

It's all bwventril's fault. If he hadn't whined about having no Marmite I wouldn't have mentioned it to a Canadian friend, whose husband just happened to be in Canada and was due to go to a store and procure things before his return to the US. So he brought back an adorable little jar of Marmite. Meanwhile, bwventril had procured an ample supply of Marmite, leaving me to wonder what I'm to do with this one. I certainly didn't plan to eat any, having had a close brush with some Vegemite a few years ago. At any rate, I've become quite attached to my little Marmite. I plan to actually try it, although I hope I don't like it because then I'll become like bwventril, always wondering where my next hit is coming from.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Advance notice ...

Locals, or anyone who has nothing better to do than to visit Raleigh, NC, this weekend, can check out a real live flyball tournament if they want. My team is hosting it at the NC State fairgrounds, in the Holshouser building. It's free. It's also very loud. I usually keep a pair or earplugs handy, but then I've got to be there all day Saturday and Sunday.

Of interest to me, at least ...

I like to take photos in all sorts of public places, even when other people don't want me to. Sometimes I know that legally they are allowed to prohibit photos--for example if I am inside someone's store they can tell me not to take photos and ask me to leave. Property law is like that in this country. So anyway, I thought this article, was interesting because I've never seen much written about the issue before. The article is ostensibly about a guy who shucked off his clothes in a Wal-Mart parking lot, but it actually talks more about Wal-Mart's attempts to bully a photographer who took pictures of the incident. A security goon demanded the film in the photog's camera (which was digital) and threatened to have him arreested if he didn't turn over the camera (he locked it in his car.) The good man stood his ground, which was proper because Wal-Mart and its goons have no right to confiscate someone's camera (a fact that cops at the scene verified.) Wal-Mart company flaks said later "We don't confiscate cameras."

I've taken lots of photos in Wal-Mart stores. I think I'll go dig some of them up and post them to Flickr just because I can. Wal-Marts are generally not very photogenic, though, because they're usually a mess. (That's why I like taking pictures in Target--things are all color coordinated and usually look really cool in a photo.)

I think everyone should start taking photos everywhere they and turn the corporate "no photo" rules into de facto worthless pieces of paper.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Apropos of nothing ...

I like comic books the way I like Elvis: as artifacts they can be fascinating, but not infinitely so, and they're definitely not worth obsessing over (unless you are Leesh/Wordnerdy and then your comic book obsession is just fine!) (Also, on the Elvis thing, I really like the song "Suspicious Minds.")

But I always, always love a good, biting quote, so as someone who has occasionally been cornered at a social function by a Comic Book Guy, I thoroughly appreciated this one (it was in an NYT review of Alias' fourth season):
Let's be honest. Many of us don't like comic books and have feigned interest in their jumpy bif-bam fighting scenes and the way they redeem loser guys, only to impress and minister to those loser guys. And now we can admit that while the redemption dynamic - little X-Men boys finding in their eccentricity and loneliness a superpower - is touching, there's nothing duller than listening to someone explain, in all seriousness, the Syndicate and the Shadow Force and the Hard Drive and the Plutonium Lance. And the characters: lame. One is good and the other is evil, and then one is evil pretending to be good, and then one is good pretending to be evil.

I don't know why I felt like sharing that, I just did.

And I hate Alias, by the way, only in part because I find Jennifer Garner actually painful to look at, which is why the opening quote of the review almost made me chuckle out loud:
What you think of "Alias" depends a lot on what you think of Jennifer Garner. If the actress's great beauty suggests to you infinite variety, then the show's claim to profundity, which it makes with ponderous attention to Ms. Garner's face, will ring true. But if Ms. Garner's winning modes - smiling and dimply, or precociously solemn, jaw set like an Eagle Scout - seem merely like two tricks she's being forced to repeat in place of acting, then the series is a bore.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I was just reading about a poll to find the UK's most popular pop song ever. Here's the list they get to choose from:
1. Heroes - David Bowie
2. We Are The Champions - Queen
3. Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush
4. Night Fever - Bee Gees
5. London Calling - The Clash
6. Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
7. That's Entertainment - The Jam
8. I Don't Want To Talk About It - Rod Stewart
9. Look of Love - ABC
10. Golden Brown - The Stranglers
11. True - Spandau Ballet
12. Careless Whisper - George Michael
13. Holding Back The Years - Simply Red
14. Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
15. Sacrifice - Elton John
16. Unfinished Sympathy - Massive Attack
17. Why - Annie Lennox
18. Fields of Gold - Sting
19. Kiss From A Rose - Seal
20. Wonderwall - Oasis
21. Angels - Robbie Williams
22. Yellow - Coldplay
23. Babylon - David Gray
24. Leave Right Now - Will Young
25. Dry Your Eyes - The Streets

All in all, they have a much cooler list from which to choose than we would ever have here in the US. Sure, we would still have some of the same shit, like Elton John, the Bee Gees and maybe even Peter Gabriel (oh no, worse, Phil Collins) on our list, but there's no way The Clash, The Jam, Joy Division or The Stranglers would ever appear on a US top 25 all-time list.

Now I'm trying to think of what would appear on a US list, and I'm coming up with Debbie Boone's "You Light Up My Life." I guess maybe I'm blocking it out ... anybody got any ideas or know where I can find such a list?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Awww ....

What could be cuter and more heartwrenching than cute little homeless puppies?

The feeling stays in your heart the whole year through ...

I love Mr. Cranky. No I don't want to marry him--I'm already married and besides, I don't think a union between two so very cranky people would be adviseable. Anyway, I've neglected him lately, which is probably why I completely missed his very wonderfully cranky pre-Christmas rant. Oh well, better late than never. Maybe I should book mark it to read again next year.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

I'm being moderated ...

So this guy on our neighborhood e-mail list objected to someone calling for tsunami aid donations to an organization called The Samaritan's Purse because it is an explicitly anti-Islamic organization. The poster went on to say that Christianity is "one ofthe evillest things this world has ever seen. Happy New Year to all!" I thought it was hilarious, of course, but I was astounded that nobody on the list said a word about it (this is the bible belt, after all ... oh wait, that's the entire country these days).

I, however, have been put on moderated status because I was, in the moderator's words, "sharp and critical" in a discussion about someone's proposal to radically reconfigure traffic patterns on two major streets. I'm not sure exactly what I said that was objectionable, except that one woman e-mailed me and said it was rude of me to post Ambrose Bierce's definition of history in response to a guy who said "history" proved he was right and the proposal would work. I felt a bit vindicated by another poster, whom I've never met, who read the whole exchange and posted that he didn't think I'd said anything rude to anyone. (And by Mark, who told me he thought my posts were uncharacteristically polite and restrained, and who posted a note to the list protesting my moderated status) (Anyone with far too much time on his or her hands can join the list and read the whole exchange, starting with message 2136, unless it gets "disappeared" from the archives as an entire previous topic has been)

Naturally, the patent unfairness of me alone getting moderated bugs the crap out of me even though I hate the stupid e-mail list. I know, I know, "hate" is a strong word ... I shouldn't hate the poor inanimate list. I should hate the really annoying people on it. And they are very annoying, being either whining complainers ("ooh, the Durham Blues Fest kept my precious toddler awake!") or arrogant assholes who are careful to include "Ph.D." in their signatures so that we don't accidentally mistake them for stupid. I feel like I should know about what's going on in my neighborhood, which is why I subscribe, thinking that I won't actually get involved. And usually it's a bunch of posts about lost kitties and toasters for sale (topics upon which the moderator welcomes my input, he has assured me). But then someone has to complain about the Blues Fest or post about seeing a "suspicious black man" in the alley and I can't let the stupidity pass uncommented. It's funny, but the same guy who has put me on moderated status once asked me if I would write a column in the neighborhood newsletter because he liked my outspokeness. I said no thanks, and I'm just now regretting it.

Maybe I should e-mail him and ask if the offer still stands?