Thursday, May 31, 2007

Foodie things to do in Seattle

The lovely author of Chocolate & Zucchini passed though Seattle on her book tour, which leads to new things to add to my list of things to do once I hit Seattle.

- Visit Pike Place Market. This is a classic tourist thing to do, but darned if it doesn't look cool.

- Have lunch at Salumi. Mmmmm.... fancy cured meats.

- Visit World Spice Merchants. I bet it smells so good in there.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Life, in this case, being pictures from my garden.

It turns out that reports of the trees in the garden were somewhat exaggerated.Yes, the trees exist (although the Philippine lemon trees are definitely kumquat trees), but they were apparently only watered four times last year and so were in need of some loving. As you can see, since I've started watering them regularly the trees have begun sprouting new branches and leaves. I don't think I'll ever be getting any mangoes off the poor mango tree, though.

The backyard happens to be a sunny and excellent place for growing vegetables. I've planted some and they've really taken off. Here is one of my tomato plants.

Delicious cucumber.

Watermelon. I just had my first slice of the season today. What bliss!

Corn! I'm so excited for my first harvest. Nothing better than fresh fruits and veggies.

Monday, May 28, 2007

When life throws you lemons...

... it's polite not to post about them. Well, actually, it isn't me who received the lemons, so much as my sister. One of her friends, in truth an ex she was very close with, died this weekend. I could tell you about my weekend (biking, BBQ, Pirates 3), but it all seems very mundane. I could also tell you more about B's weekend, how her ex's mother called her right after she got the call and they both rushed down to the ICU to sit by his bedside all Saturday until he died, but I won't. Not only does death lead me to say inappropriate things, but my feelings on this one are decidedly conflicted. You see, my sister's ex died because he was driving drunk without a seat belt on. So, you all be safe out there. Don't celebrate too hard.

Friday, May 25, 2007

They can be so cute sometimes

Wednesday was my last day of apprentice teaching. When my host teacher announced this to the class there was a general cry of sadness which promptly disintegrated into talking (which is quite typical of this class, the talking). I got a couple of hugs from students - I think a few are going to genuinely miss me. Of course, I also gave them candy, so that's bound to sweeten their recollection of me (pun intended).

Being done with apprentice teaching, I suddenly have a lot more time then I used to. Some of this is taken up with sleeping (no more 5:30 am wake up calls, at least few months), but it has also been nice to be able to do stuff around the house. I put together a bookshelf today. We went to Ikea last weekend to acquire some new furniture, only to find that they'd slightly changed the color of the bookshelves (even though they're calling it the same color). They also slightly changed the size of the cheap bookshelves we have in our bedroom, seemingly in preparation of phasing out that line entirely. We wound up having to settle, but since this is just apartment furniture it isn't the end of the world. We're also trying to get the last few boxes unpacked (or at least hidden away in the garage), as Sunday we're having people over to show the place off. I'm calling it our Memorial Day Weekend BBQ House Warming Shindig Get-Together.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bachelors in Memology

Another meme, stolen from Laura.

1. The phone rings; whom do you want it to be?
Anyone but my mom. The woman can go on forever about anything!

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?
To the store itself? Rarely. To one of those kart korrals? Almost always.

3. If you had to kiss the last person you kissed, would you?

Every day (and hopefully more than once).

4. Do you take compliments well?
No, not really. More often than not I don't really agree with the person, so I think they just lack perspective.

5. Do you play Sudoku?

I did for a couple of days, but there are just so many better things out there. Books, for example.

6. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive?
For a little while, at least. I don't think I could make a fire, though, even if you left me a cigarette lighter. One of those BBQ lighters, however, and I'd be set.

7. Do you like nipple rings?
They're... interesting.

8. Did you ever go to camp as a kid?
Oh yeah. Day camp, Girl Scout camp, 6th grade camp, music camp - I did the whole spectrum.

9. If a sexy person were pursuing you, but you knew he/she were married what would you do?

I'd tell them to look at the ring and then back off. Look at my ring, that is (of course, this also applies to sexy single people).

10. Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you?
Possibly, but it would depend on how religious they are. It's easier if you and your partner are at least somewhat in agreement.

11. Do you like to pursue or be pursued?
Be pursued. I'm shy and lazy.

12. Use three words to describe yourself at the moment:

Tired, full (of mango chicken), cramped (I had a charley horse of the calf in the middle of the night and the darn thing is still all funny).

13. Do any songs make you cry?
No, but there is one that gets me pretty close.

14. Are you continuing your education?
Yup. Currently I'm getting my Masters in Education, and I figure down the road I'll get another Masters or a Doctorate. I'm a degree junkie.

15. Do you know how to shoot a gun?

16. If your house were on fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed?

During the big wildfire, R and I packed up our important documents, pictures, and DVDs so that we could quickly get them into the car if we needed to evacuate (the fire actually came up a canyon within a quarter mile of our apartment, so this wasn't just idle paranoia). Now, if there was a fire in the house, first thing would be to make sure the other people were awake and escaping and the second thing would be the cats.

17. Who was the last person you shared a bed with?
R. Same as for the last few years.

18. Whom do you text the most?
I guess my sister, but really I don't text much.

19. Favorite children’s books?

The Ordinary Princess.

20. What color are your eyes?

21. How tall are you?

5'6", which makes me practically a midget in my tall Scandinavian family.

22. If you could do it over again, start from scratch, would you?

No, because I'd probably just make the same dang decisions.

23. Any secret admirers?

If I knew then they wouldn't be secret, now would they?

24. Have you ever taken pictures in a photo booth?
Yup. I've still got 3 of the 4 of me and my dad from back in the day (my dad has the 4th on his nightstand).

25. Where is the farthest place you have traveled?

Either Hawaii or Costa Rica.

26. Do you like mustard?
I love mustard.

27. Do you prefer to sleep or eat?

Well, if I'm hungry, then eating, and if I'm tired, then sleeping. They both are wonderful.

28. Do you look like your mom or dad?

When I was little I looked just like my mom when she was the same age. Now... I look like my cousin. Genetics is a funny thing.

29. How long does it take you in the shower?
Depends how much time I have. 15 minutes-ish, but I do enjoy a long shower.

30. Can you do splits?
No, but I can touch my foot to the back of my head (and not by bringing it up and over my shoulder).

31. What movies do you want to see right now?

32. What did you do for New Year’s Eve?
Is it sad if I don't remember?

33. Was your mom a cheerleader?
Nope, she was too tall (pretty hilarious, eh? Actually, I'm guessing it was because she was a big dork).

34. Whats the last letter of your middle name?

35. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
6 or 7 on weeknights, 8 to 10 on weekends.

36. Do you like Care Bears?
Not being allowed to watch much TV when I was a child, I missed out on the whole Care Bears phenomenon.

37. What do you buy at the movies?
I don't actually buy anything. R buys two tickets.

38. Do you know how to play poker?

Yup. I've finally gotten to the point where I don't lose all my money immediately, which makes it much more fun.

39. Do you wear your seat belt?

Click it or ticket, biatch. Actually, in high school I did stop the car when my sister didn't have her seat belt on (I also stopped the car when my stepsister was playing with a lighter in the back seat. So not okay to hear that right behind my head).

40. What do you wear to sleep?

Nothing. It's so much better than wearing anything.

41. Anything big ever happen in your town?

Fire? Near bankruptcy of the city? All the illegal immigration that the rest of the country wants to talk about? I'm sure there are other things.

42. Is your hair straight or curly?
As straight as can be. My mom and I tried to perm my hair once in 2nd grade. My hair was apparently too immature, so it didn't take, but to make up for it my mom's hair turned out extra curly. She wound up cutting it short and wearing a wig while it grew out.

43. Is your tongue pierced?


44. Do you like liver and onions?

I've never had it as a dish, but I do like the components. The onions would need to be caramelized, though.

45. Have you ever been in love?
I'm so there.

46. Do you like funny or serious people better?
I like funny, but it has to be the right kind of funny. I enjoy dry humor.

47. Ever been to L.A.?
Yup. May I never return. B, however, is moving there in August, so I probably won't get my wish.

48. Do you steal or pay for your music downloads?

Lately I pay, but if I can't find the song I want or they only have it in wma format then I will find alternate procurement methods.

49. Do you hate chocolate?
Nope. I love dark chocolate and tolerate milk chocolate.

50. What do you and your parents fight about the most?
My dad and I don't fight. My mom and I fight about stupid things. Of course, sending me "A Case for Faith" for Valentine's Day (and my sister a Dr. Phil self-help book) is really just asking for it.

51. Are you a gullible person?
Sometimes. I'm too trusting and innocent to pick out good and determined liars.

52. If you could have any job, what would it be?

Trust-fund baby, though firefighter sounds good too.

53. Are you easy to get along with?

I think so, but then I rarely fight with myself.

54. What is your favorite time of day?

55. Are you a generally happy person?
I'm... at peace. My host teacher described me as Zen-like.

I've finally got it!

Yesterday, during a very noisy Jeopardy game, I gave one of my students The Look. It wasn't my normal "oh, I say I'm annoyed but I can't stop smiling" looks. No, this one was a full on "if you don't stop that right now I'm going to have you drawn and quartered I'msonotkidding" look. The kid, who had been talking incessantly, actually shut up, and the rest of the class was quite startled. My host teacher was so proud.

I do think I am getting slightly better at this discipline thing. Today we had our unit test and we managed to maintain a silent classroom for the whole period (unlike last time, which ended up being quite noisy by the end). Admittedly, I still don't have the teacher presence needed to keep the kids quiet from across the room - the silence took a great deal of enforcement. It did say silent, though, which means I'm making progress.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Latest firsts

- Ate my first soft shell crab on Friday. I took R out on a date for some sushi and we decided to order the soft shell crab roll. You could see the little crabby face at one end of the roll and all the legs sticking out the other. Really tasty!

- Put my chain back on my bike for the first time yesterday. The first time it happened to me I had to have one of the guys do it, but since then I've seen it done several times (happens frequently while mountain biking), so I was just able to reach down and do it myself. Three cheers for self-sufficiency!

- Installed my first shower head this morning. The one that came with this place had the teeny tiniest stream of water, so it definitely had to go. Replacing the shower head turned out to be incredibly easy, and so this morning I had the most glorious shower.

- Built my first computer yesterday... Well, sort of. I put some parts from my old one into R's old computer, so it wasn't as though I built it straight from scratch. Plus I got a lot of help from R (though I did do pretty much all of the work myself). I've since been installing all the programs I can't live without. Really time consuming, but it is nice to start fresh every once in a while, and get rid of all the old programs that I used to use ( [cough]Sims2[cough] ).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Internet confessional

This is most embarrassing, but I'll share anyway. Whenever the song "Something To Be Proud Of" comes on the radio I get all choked up. The song is totally cliche, but somehow it has some sort of direct connection to my tear ducts.

Teaching seasons to kids in San Diego is slightly more challenging than it might be otherwise. Most kids know what's up, but it's harder to help those who don't, because San Diego doesn't really have seasons. The season where it gets cold? No idea. To be fair, if I was going off their experience, I would have to answer late spring.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

If the loop is over there, then where am I?

I think we're all on the same wavelength, somehow.

I was looking at the new xkcd comic, as seen above, and to better explain it R showed me all the funny cat pictures that have been circulating around the Internet. I'd missed them somehow, and so found the idea of putting labels on cats funny. Apparently that is nothing compared to the power of a cat picture with a caption, because I laughed so hard that I could barely breathe. In any case, I started reading my blogs after that, and what do you know? Fussy has puts up a link to cat pictures. I swear, any time I hear about anything it's suddenly everywhere!

A few quirks

The new place is really starting to feel like home. Almost all the boxes are unpacked. There are, however, a few oddities I'd like to share.

Our new landlords were kind enough to leave us a kitchen table. Underneath the hideous table cloth, though, there lurked a surprise.

Nor is the table the end of the kitchen quirks. This tile was intentionally built into the tile counter top. For the love of all that's good and holy, why? Why?!

This mirror is huge, ugly, and permanently affixed to the wall over the mantle. I'm thinking I'll just have to get some sort of art to cover it.

Last, but certainly not least, the crazy zig-zag wall. The architect who designed this place should be taken out behind the shed and shot.

Monday, May 14, 2007

It's probably all in my head

Is it weird that I have this lingering desire to move to Sweden? I'm sure I'm just over-idealizing it in my head, but I think it would be nice to live in a place that is full of people who enjoy the outdoors, shun small talk, and don't feel the need to be constantly grinning like idiots (but the taxes. Gah!). Perhaps it's just that I never had the chance to live abroad. I really wish I could have done that during college, and I hope that I can provide my children with the financial assistance to do that if they wish. I think it is just that I can see my window of opportunity approaching - being nearly finished with school, childless for a little while longer and not yet owning a house - but knowing that we probably won't take advantage of it (What about jobs? Our stuff? The cats?). There is definitely a part of me that wishes we would go somewhere new and different for a year before settling down for the rest of our lives.

He's so weird!

My mom brought her off-and-on boyfriend/fiance some flowers for his dining room. He took them outside and washed them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Thoughts on cooking

I like to cook. I do! I'm decently good at it, too. Don't you people listen to my mom, who is convinced I can't cook and only eat Ramen. She taught me well, but hasn't lived with me since junior high school, at which point in time I wasn't interested in cooking. Interest being totally different from ability.

Cooking every day, though, gets a little tiring. This tiredness of cooking spills leads to cooking from boxes during busy nights (totally understandable), but unfortunately also impacts the nights when I do have time to cook. R, love of my life, cooks frozen food, boxed noodles, and steak (which we have, like, never). I'm thrilled to learn that our new roommate cooks (he made us pigs in a blanket for our first meal in the new house) and wants to do more of the cooking. It's actually felt weird to him to have me do all the work. Needless to say, I'm thrilled. The thought of only cooking part of the time has actually rejuvenated my zest for cooking. I was so excited by the thought of not having to cook that after work I went to the store and got ingredients to make kebabs (which were delicious).

I sense good eating in my future.

Thank you, Food Network

A couple of culinary things I need to try in Seattle (seen here):

- Miniburgers and alpine martini, both found at the bar & lounge at Cascadia restaurant.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Cooking notions

Is it weird to plan a meal around the desire to get a single item out of the fridge? I totally did that last night. I've had this large potato for a long while now, sitting all by its lonesome at the bottom of the vegetable drawer, rejected by the little potatoes I use in curries.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Luckily, we still have a spare battery

Sitting at my computer, quietly checking my e-mail...


"Nooooooooooo! Not again!"

Monday, May 07, 2007

Another thing to do in Seattle

Keep chickens! This is more of a "do while living in Seattle" activity rather than a "do while visiting," but it totally counts. They even have classes. Ah, if only I wasn't in a rental I could do this now.

To do list

The A&R household is considering moving to the Seattle area once I finish school (and dragging along anyone we can talk into moving up North with us). In anticipation of this possible move, I'm going to start a list of things I want to try once I get up there. Here are the first couple:

- Seattle Cheese Festival.
- Experience Music Project. My cousin worked there a while ago, and I've always been curious.

Too close for comfort

On my way back home from San Luis Obispo, I stopped for gas at the exit before my house. As I was filling up my car, I noticed a large cloud of dark smoke rising from not too far away. Hmm... that's really close to my house. I trace the roads with my eyes. That's REALLY close to my house. I call R, just to check that everything is alright. He says he can see people standing about outside, so he goes the check out the situation and I rush home. As I get closer and closer to my neighborhood, I see more and more people standing about and more and more fire trucks. It turned out that the hill behind my house was on fire. This picture was from when they had it pretty much under control (which happened fairly quickly), but at one time we could see flames on the ridge of the hill when we were standing in our driveway. Eek!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Two quick anecdotes before I disappear for the weekend

The cats have returned. Ever since we moved we have hardly seen a whisker or a tail (except at meal times). Apparently, there was much exploring to be done. They must have finished to their satisfaction yesterday, though, since last night they were suddenly their usual selves (i.e., wanting to be in the same room with us, no matter what we are doing). I'm glad to have them back, but at the same time I was enjoying not having to bribe/coax/chase them out of the bedroom at night.

Yesterday, while reviewing the notes from a video on the atmosphere, there was a bit of confusion due in part to my handwriting (and my students' inability to read it). We were listing the layers of the atmosphere and one student said we were missing one - the "lonosphere." I gave him a funny look, but then the rest of the class and I realized what he was talking about. Earlier in the week, when the students were copying down vocabulary words, I had written the words by hand and I had capitalized the first letter of each of the terms. My capital 'i' happens to look like a lower-case 'l," and while this fact had been noticed and talked about immediately after I wrote it, apparently this student hadn't heard the discussion. In any case, when I'm in my own classroom, I think I'll just type the vocabulary.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hopping on the bandwagon

Never one to pass up an opportunity to talk about books, here is the latest meme:

Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror?
Yes, please.

Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback?
The small and cheap ones, which I suppose are the mass market paperbacks. I just buy too many books to get larger, more expensive ones.

Amazon or Brick and Mortar?

The A&R household place big orders from Amazon every month or two, but we still go into every book store we run across.

Barnes and Noble or Borders?
Either. We're here for the books.

Hitchhiker or Discworld?

Discworld all the way. They consistently make me laugh out loud.

Bookmark or Dog-ear?

Bookmark, though I did go through a brief dog-earing period.

Asimov's Science Fiction or Fantasy & Science Fiction
I'd have to say Fantasy & Science Fiction, though I will in fact read anything.

Alphabetize by author, Alphabetize by title, or random?
Alphabetize by author (and then ordered chronologically if it matters), however comic books and manga are kept on separate book shelves and textbooks are just stored at the bottom of the bookshelves (lest they topple our cheap Flarkes).

Keep, Throw Away or Sell?

Keep. We then loan them out to friends (and recommend books to each other)

Keep dust-jacket or toss it?

Keep, though I will occasionally take them off while reading a book. Of course, owning mostly paperbacks pretty much eliminates this problem.

Read with dust jacket or remove it?

Either, depending on how much it is getting in the way.

Short story or novel?
I like both, but I wind up reading more novels. Short stories are just over too quickly.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
Having not read more than a couple of pages of Lemony Snicket, I'll have to say Harry Potter. It is on my reading list, though, so we'll just have to see.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
Unless I'm about to pass out (about which time I become unable to remember what I just read) I try to get to the chapter break. However, after having read so many Discworld books (which don't have chapters), I've become more comfortable with stopping at any break in the text.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time?”

I don't know about a book that start that way seriously, but I'd love one that starts that way in jest. If you want a good one that starts with "Long and long ago," I would recommend The Ordinary Princess.

Buy or Borrow?
If I don't buy it, how can I foist it on other people?

Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse?

All, though recommendations are probably the most prevalent influence. R has excellent taste in books, so I read everything that he buys (some day I will make it through his backlog of sci-fi books, but at the rate he keeps buying new books that won't actually happen for a very long time. Luckily, I read faster than him, and for longer periods of time, so there is hope of some day catching up).

Lewis or Tolkien?
I was so depressed when I got to the last book in the Narnia series. It just seemed like such a cop out (though my mom, the religious one, found it comforting when she read the books at about the same age. Go figure). Really, though, I like them both.

Collection (short stories by the same author) or Anthology (short stories by different authors)?
Collection, though I'm always up for a good anthology (Literature from the Axis of Evil was rather interesting).

Tidy ending or Cliffhanger?

I like there to be an ending, but I'm willing to wait many, many books to get to it.

Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading?
All day, every day.

Standalone or Series?
I really like the sheer depth of plot and character development that a series can get into, but standalone books also have their merits.

New or used?
I generally buy new, but if someone wants to give me a used book I certainly wouldn't say no.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (yes, the Discworld guy). Nothing quite as funny as the end of the world (and an evil car that turns every cassette tape in it into Queen's Greatest Hits).

Top 5 favorite genre books of all time?
I'm not completely sure what is meant by genre books, but I think my top 5 books of all time (so far) are:
1. Good Omens
2. A Game of Thrones
3. The Fairy Tale Book (I have a copy from the 50's which I think was my mother's. They've since changed the name, but the cover illustration is still the same)
4. The Diamond Age
5. The Selfish Gene

Favorite genre series?
The Discworld series (Fantasy/Comedy), though I'm also rather fond of Fruits Basket (shojou manga).

Currently Reading?
House of Leaves.

Laura and Mrs. Chili already succumbed, perhaps you will be the next to fall to the power of the meme?

My game face

This morning I had to have a talk with my class. You know, one of those "you need to shut up when I tell you to and stop being so disruptive" talks. After the class was over, my host teacher came up to me and told me that I was smiling throughout the whole thing. She thinks I've just not got a mean bone in my body, and I'm going to have to work a bit to develop the all important game face (and accompanying teacher look) so that the students won't keep trying to push my buttons. I'm very glad that I have her, a very experienced teacher, to observe me and give me tips.

However, the truth of the matter is that I'm not a super smiley person. If I'm comfortable, then I probably won't be smiling. I just get very smiley when I'm uncomfortable (which is why I tend to smile my head off in the classroom). When dealing with uncomfortable and serious subjects, I get downright bubbly. R actually finds it a little creepy when I'm smiling and giggling while talking about death.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ye gods!

After having not touched my computer much all last week and gone most of the weekend without Internet, I opened up my RSS reader Sunday evening to find 100+ few posts. Sheesh! You people write too much. I'm only just now catching up.