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May. 6th, 2010

cyberman

Various...

Hello world, its me!  I bring you great amusement...and possibly the links to a couple of excellent food-type things.  And maybe some books.

To begin with, the following are my favorites from the "you laugh, you lose" thread on the Ning....

 
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...now that that's out of my system, here's what else I've been up to...

Food:
  • This is absolutely wonderful. Really. Truly.  It may (supposedly) require a grill...and the prep time and trying to keep the veggies from burning is a teensy bit of a hassle.  But when you put everything together at the end, it is simply stupendous.
  • We had this gloriousness tonight.  Its a little bit on the bland side if you follow the recipe to a T....but its pretty easy.  And um...leeks are yum.
Books:
  • Finally finished Lady Chatterley's Lover.  I'm not entirely sure what to say about this one, actually.  Maybe if I had read it all the way through when I first picked it up it would have been less tedious in the middle.  It was also kind of really depressing.  When I (finally) finished the book, I had to reread Will Grayson Will Grayson to restore my equilibrium. 
  • I'm almost all the way through What the Dog Saw...which is wonderful.  Really truly. Go read it immediately.  You don't even have to be a stats/psych geek to like it, although I suspect that might help.
I have quite a long list of stuff I am wishful of reading this summer...and hopefully I'll have motivation to update here more often now that school is not draining the soul from me.  More actual life-update stuff to come.
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Apr. 13th, 2010

fascinating

Nerdfighters, FTW

What a weekend.  It was so nice and relaxing and five hours away from everything stressful - yay!  And then today.... was really really really busy and slightly less awesome than this weekend but still pretty cool.  Except for that bit where I drove for four hours only to get on a train and then a subway and then sit in a unreasonably cold library for a few hours only to then walk 12 blocks (apparently unnecessarily) so that I could get on another subway and walk some more....and then stand in the back of an extremely crowded room in the basement of a bookstore.... so that I could sort of see John Green if he stood up or if I craned my head around the tall person in front of me.

And this is a very subdued version of the events of today because my first retelling this evening completely wore me out...and its almost 1 am...and I've been awake and moving very quickly since about 7 this morning and I have to work in the morning.  (Boo.) 

Cool things about tonight though: the sheer number of nerdfighters (and nerdfighter t-shirts) in that little room; hopefully, possibly being part of a vlogbrothers intro (I'll get back to you after Friday....) because we got to say good morning to Hank in advance; and learning a whole bunch of new types of transportation - like the park and ride at Secaucus...and successfully navigating subway lines and parts of the city in which I had never been without getting lost once!  (That is a serious accomplishment, seeing as I still manage to get myself turned around in Penn Station when I try to get to the same place a different way *rolls eyes*  stupid train station.)

Other cool people I was in the same room as:
David Levithan - who is not the one I thought... and incidentally doesn't even have a similar name (clearly I'm a dope.)
Maureen Johnson - who I glimpsed before she disappeared, supposedly to set up the techie stuff for a blog-tv show.

New books to add to my pile of things I need to read immediately and can't because I finally have a full week of work to look forward to, a last-minute paper to write because I didn't want to devote more than an hour this weekend to school work (surprised? no, not at all...), and a wee bit of sleep to catch up on:
  • Changes - new Dresden Files which is apparently awesome and sort of cliff-hangerish
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson - which from the excerpts we heard tonight is likely to be pretty great, too
  • What the Dog Saw - another loaner from Ben, because I don't have enough of his books sitting on my desk, apparently.  I still have to finish the last two books of the Amber series (by Roger Zelazny....here's what Wikipedia has to say, if you're at all interested.  I'll let you know what I think of them once they're off my desk.) ...and I have two or three other books that he lent me in January that I also haven't gotten to
  • the second half of Lady Chatterley's Lover - which is good so far, but not good enough to lug to upstate NY with me
  • Peeps - by Scott Westerfeld (who is awesome and who I was mistaking David Levithan for... see above, re: I'm a dope.)  My sister has copies of all four books in the Uglies series and they are great.... so clearly a trip to the library is in order.... as soon as I get some of these other things out of the way.

....and now, to bed!

Apr. 8th, 2010

dragon

Bones - you make me feel so discombobulated

Tonight was the 100th episode...and true to form, Bones was funny and sweet and had lots of adorable Booth-Bones moments...but but but.... gah!  I'm not sure how I feel about these revelations they've given us.  (This is very difficult to talk about without giving any major spoilers away. Hmph.) The saddest part is that I believe the writers made the right choice... because any other reaction from Brennan would have been completely out of character and might have been even more disappointing.  I guess I'll just have to wait for next week to find out if they continue to make the show worth watching after this point.

In other news, I'm off to NY tomorrow for the weekend (yay!) and have finally heard back from my job and can start having regular hours as soon as I get back next week (more yay!) and I might even get my grubby little paws on a copy of Changes ... assuming a certain someone decides that reading the rest of it so that said grubby paws can snatch it is more important than ... say... housework.  *looks shifty-eyed*  I think we all know what my decision would be here.  Until then, I'm almost half-way through Lady Chatterley's Lover... which is surprising me a bit with its readability.  It doesn't appear to be the kind of book that I simply cannot put down (as evidenced by the fact that I'm half-way through it and am currently writing this rather than reading it) ... but it is also significantly more interesting than the readings I should be doing for class (and am also suspiciously ignoring).  I may do more of a review after I've finished it (or at very least a thumbs-up/thumbs-down vote) if I remember.

(Too many things in parentheses!)

One last thought before I go - I much prefer tonight's sort of blustery, cool weather to the 80 and 90 degree swelter we've been having the last couple of days.  Don't get me wrong - the sunshine and the flowers and all of that is wondrous, but my poor air-condition-less car would much rather not be an oven.

Okay, maybe two last things: this weekend is going to be awesome on many levels, not the least of which is my plan to be in NYC Monday evening to see John Green and David Levithan.  Hoooooly crap.  *does happy dance*  (more about that when I get back....)
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Apr. 6th, 2010

fascinating

Look at that - it's April...


Haven't really had a lot to talk about in the last month.... I mean, stuff happened (or didn't happen - like my last two schools who still have not gotten back to me about admission) but it was kind of boring and/or I didn't feel like posting about it.  Don't actually have anything substantial to say now, actually.  I'm mostly just procrastinating because I really don't want to write this paper for tomorrow.  (I sense a trend here...this sounds familiar.)

I suppose I could talk about all the books I've been reading instead of doing productive things like school work.... like The Guinea Pig Diaries by A. J. Jacobs...which was pretty fantastic and all sorts of thought-provoking and stuff... or The Urban Hermit by Sam Macdonald....which was weird and a little bit disturbing (if mostly entertaining) ...and apparently absolutely not nutritionally sound according to my health sciences major sister.  (Who'd have thunk - eating nothing but lentils and canned tuna for most of a year might not be good for you.)

Read a couple of Juliet Marillier's newer books, which were absolutely fantastic of course and I highly recommend if you like fairytale-esque stories at all.  She's the one who wrote the Sevenwaters trilogy (Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, & Child of the Prophecy) which begins with the tale of the girl whose six brothers are turned into swans and she has to not speak for a year, etc as part of the spell to turn them back...and then just goes from there.  Plus, Irish mythology = awesome.  The books of hers that I just found at the library (have I mentioned yet how much I love my library?) include
 
- Heir to Sevenwaters - a sort-of sequel to the trilogy above
- Wildwood Dancing  - another fairytale variation - this one set in Transylvania and featuring the story of the sisters who lock themselves in their room once a month to open a portal to fairyland where they spend the whole night dancing and wearing out their shoes.  Not my favorite fairytale (that would be Beauty and the Beast) but her version of it is pretty great.
- Heart's Blood - not based on any fairytale that I know of, but enthralling all the same.

In other news, before I get too carried away by books, what the heck is up with the weather?  80 degrees in April is practically unheard of.  I mean, not that I'm complaining or anything, but its spoiling me.  I was getting all excited about warm weather ...and then I checked the forecast for upstate NY for the weekend...and there's a chance of snow. *pouts*  I was going to pack my sweaters away for the year.  Forgot that spring comes a little later up there than it does here in Jersey.

I suppose that's all for now...stupid paper.
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Mar. 12th, 2010

fascinating

Lots to catch up on...

Things have been slightly less crazy, though not all rainbows and happiness (some puppies, though).  I got my second rejection letter (Northwestern) this week.  So the cold states are ruled out entirely.  This may not be a bad thing.  And as you know, I've come to the conclusion that not getting into a different program so that I can get the heck out of here isn't actually the end of the world - I need a Masters to do anything really substantial in my field, but I don't necessarily need a PhD...and I definitely don't need one right away to be happy.  I was so focused on needing to get in somewhere else that I didn't stop to consider the upside of the alternative.  (For example, I don't have to move thousands of miles away if I don't get into a different program.)  Sure, this plan has downsides - like taking longer to pay off my loans than I would like - but I'll make enough working here to take care of the interest and pay back at least a little of the loans while I'm still in school so that's manageable, too.  I still need to sort through a lot of details for both possibilities for next year...but I feel so much better to have some sort of a plan in the works.

Craptastic news out of the way, this week has actually been pretty great.  The new project at work is interesting and my co-workers are great.  (Still trying to figure out why it is that I make friends with people outside of my age group so much faster.)  Supervisors are having a hard time scheduling everyone to come in for extra practice and certification, so I essentially got the week off - which is great because my sister is home for spring break now.  We ran errands like crazy today and got all sorts of crafty things for her because there are big recruitment drives coming up.  (Tomorrow looks even cooler - sugar cookies and a Doctor Who marathon, anyone?)

Drove down to Atlantic City this past weekend for a sort of joint birthday celebration (mind and my parents' all fall around the same time) - got to eat at Bobby Flay Grill (sadly, Bobby Flay himself was not there....but the food was excellent.  Some of it was seriously out of this world.  Ahhh - alien soup!)  The only downside to the restaurant is that we had to walk all the way around the casino to get there.  Smoke = bad.  Then we saw Jon Stewart...which was also pretty awesome.  I recognized some of what he talked about from his appearance at Hamilton, but there was a lot of new stuff (and/or stuff that was more appropriate to a crowd of adults at 11 pm on a Saturday night in AC than to a bunch of undergrads).  Went over to Cape May on Sunday before driving home.  So many puppies!!  Cuteness overload.

Class this week was miles better than last week.  The discussion was interesting, I didn't sound like I was going to die when I was called on...and I think I actually did a passable job on the paper this time around.  Woot.  In celebration (sort of), Mom and Kate and I had a girls night out, with dinner and Alice in Wonderland.  It had good parts and cheesy parts, and I don't think I'll be adding it to my collection of movies I must own but I'm glad I got to see it. 
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Mar. 4th, 2010

intelligent life

I would like my life to stop resembling a rollercoaster...

The ups and downs this year are driving me a little batty...(a state which is likely not helped by the as of yet unending wait for word from stupid grad schools *sigh*).  Fortunately, things are back on the upswing, as of today but man, yesterday really sucked.  Without going into massive detail, the evil professor of DOOM once again put me on the spot (a feeling I'm sadly getting used to), beginning the torture with an oh so lovely, "I'm going to make fun of you for this," regarding my discussion question.  (Or the way it was worded? I'm not sure, since after I told him what I meant, he said it was a fair question and the class discussed it for a while...so... yeah.)  The end of the scene included myself gallantly trying to continue speaking through excruciating humiliation that made me sound like I was going to burst into tears at any moment...and this vein in my forehead which has yet to stop sporadically twitching.  (This professor gave me a tic.  Wonderful.)

What irks me is that I used to be that pesky know-it-all who always volunteered to answer the question.  ...And then at some point i decided that public speaking was the devil and stopped doing it altogether...and still haven't been able to achieve some kind of happy medium between the two without freaking out (or having some kind of advanced notice that I would have to speak so that I can freak out for a week beforehand.)  Seriously, its disgusting.  Stupid middle school.

Okay.... stupidness of yesterday aside, today was alright.  Started training for a different project at work and met some more of my new coworkers.  (Why is it that I'm so much more comfortable with people more than a decade older than me?  Argh.)  Anyway, this project looks neat and (even better!) slightly less soul-sucking than the previous one. (Yay!) Tomorrow's a half-day of training (with hopefully successful certification at the end of it...) and then an awesome weekend in AC to follow.

And now I'm going to see if there is anything of the ice-cream persuasion in the freezer.
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Feb. 26th, 2010

fascinating

It could be spring soon...

This past week has been surprisingly good, given the state of the universe this time last week.  I'm not sure exactly what is different, if anything, besides my perspective.  I'm still freaking out about school, and wondering when I will hear from those slackers at the last three places I applied...but I already have something of a plan for what to do if I don't get in this year.  I realized (surprise!) that it won't be the end of the world if I'm stuck commuting for another year.  Sure, it might not be the most ideal situation and definitely not my preferred one, but is my stressing out about it really going to change the outcome?  Nope.  Frankly, I'm amazed that this little piece of insight actually come from my own noggin...because usually I have to have common sense shoved down my stubborn throat, in a manner of speaking.

Anyway, so there's that...and I've started reconnecting with some of my friends from home, which is awesome.  Granted, this has happened with very little initiative on my part so I can't really claim credit, but it does make me happy.  Nothing against my folks, but having them be part of a very small number of people that I interact with on a daily basis hasn't been all that wonderful for my mental state.... particularly with Mom working from home now.  We still butt heads periodically, and then there isn't a lot of room to cool down.  Dad lets me help whenever he needs to use power tools, so we're all good there.  (I learned how to use a relatively small cement mixer last fall that was a lot of fun.  Not to mention the time we essentially re-dug my grandfather's sump pump hole in the basement and put in new pipes and such.  Pipe glue is fun!  Its all purple and gloppy.)  Dad got tired of having to reattach the mailbox to its post every time a snowplow came by...so he bought a 4x4 and we cut it down to size and made a ridiculously sturdy new post last weekend.  That was fun, too.

I do have one complaint, though: why must the gardening magazines come out with their first issue in February?  That's just mean.  I want the snow to go away so I can go play in the dirt.  This will be the first year I'll be home for the fun part (as opposed to trying to keep the weeds down in the middle of August when they've been let go for a month.  *grumbles*)

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Feb. 25th, 2010

dragon

Microwave cake take 2

After watching Food Network (and the snow falling outside the window) for quite a bit today, I had quite a hankerin' to bake something but didn't want to make anything really complicated (or that would feed more than me), so we have a reprise of the chocolate cake in a coffee cup.

As promised, I took a picture of the alien cake this time...


...Isn't it awesome?

(ignore the date at the bottom - I filched Mom's birthday present to take the picture b/c my camera currently has no working batteries...and we haven't gotten Mom's all the way set up yet.)

Its still a little dry and not quite sweet enough yet (for me, anyway) but its definitely not bad for something that takes five minutes to make from start to finish.  Also, maraschino cherries are pretty good in here, but I'm not sure if they're better than chocolate chips after all.  Clearly, more experimentation is needed.
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fascinating

How have I missed this?!?!?

So this is just a quick side note because I really can't resist.  Apparently this has been going on since August and I never knew (probably because its only on Sunday afternoons).  What a tragedy.

I highly recommend you watch any of the clips on the index page (I watched the first four, myself, but I imagine any other clips they post would also be worth it.)

New season starts Sunday March 7, 1 pm.
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fascinating

More Bones and some food stuff

Bones quote of the day:

Brennan: (Pokes him in the eyes) I've noticed that very few people are scary once they've been poked in the eye.

This show makes me so happy.  I just wish that Hulu would be nice and put up more than one new episode in a week...there are so many seasons I missed out on!  And I can't Netflix it until Mom and I get through all of Doctor Who.  We just started on season 3 tonight but stupid Netflix only sends one DVD at a time...so the first disc just had the Christmas special with Donna and nothing else. Boo!  (Mom said something about taking off from work on Monday and I'm off too ...so maybe I can convince her to stream it online from Netflix and marathon with me.  I'm sure that'll take quite a bit of persuasion...*snort*.)

What else is new?  ...Going into the city today wasn't so mind-blowingly awful as usual.  I'm chalking it up to my frame of mind - didn't stress out at all today, which is new and unusual...but I kind of like it.  My professor has apparently cottoned on to the fact that I am highly unlikely to volunteer information, because he called on me out of nowhere three times tonight.  I didn't like it much as I still don't trust myself to think quickly (and coherently) on my feet, but at least by the third time I was no longer doing my famous lobster impression while I answered.  Seriously, the first time my face felt positively radioactive it was so red.

In other news...so that I don't try to share any other embarrassing classroom stories, here are the delicious things I have tried thus far and what I thought of them...because I can. I'll try to do something a little more in depth in the future... like maybe when I actually try something else new and am not referring to stuff I've done over the last month or so.

Triple Chocolate Banana Bread - awesome awesome awesome. This was actually one of the reasons I've been banned from trying any more new dessert-type things in the near future... because my folks gobbled them up.  (I decided to skip the 'bread' idea and just go for muffins - worked just as well.)  They're definitely more bread than cupcake - despite all of the (awesome) chocolate in it, its not terrifically sweet.  Also, apparently wonderful with peanut butter.  (I have not verified this myself - I stuck to popping them in the microwave for a few seconds and putting butter on them.  Yum.)  Very quick and easy.

Orange Chicken With Fried Rice - possibly my most ambitious project to date... this one was ridiculously complicated and took me much longer than the recipe said it should because 1) I did things out of order and 2) I was all by my lonesome and multitasking is hard.  However, it was definitely worth the effort and at very least I would totally make the sauce (for the chicken) again.   Things I didn't like: having to touch raw chicken (yuck!), lots of hot oil spattering onto my hands (ouch!).  I'm wondering if there might be a different method to getting the pieces cooked and all crispy-delicious.  Also: Do not attempt this if your kitchen isn't well ventilated!  Mine didn't really smoke, but the potential is definitely there - I had the fan on as high as it could go out of sheer paranoia.  (And because I have yet to clone myself so as to wave a towel beneath the smoke detector in the hall.)

Rosemary Twist Bread - even easier than the chocolate banana thing and really delicious in soup.  (not so good by itself, particularly the following day - it got too crunchy for my liking overnight.)  I'm contemplating trying the general principle from this, but with yeasty-goodness.  Perhaps it would be less like a thin and crunchy biscuit that way.  We shall see.  [As a somewhat related side note, these biscuits are fan-freaking-tabulous.  I never have real buttermilk in the house but their substitution tastes great - 1 tbsp of lemon juice mixed with the milk per cup that the recipe calls for, left out on the counter for 10 minutes.  As I will undoubtedly be making them again in the future (diets be damned) I'll comment more, and possibly have pictures, then.]

Spicy and Unpronouncable Shrimp Thing - one of the only  recipes I've tried thus far that I genuinely did not like.  It was a little too spicy for my tastes...and honestly the wine in it just didn't taste good.  My parents liked it, but my dad is a huge fan of spicy things...and neither of them share my strange dislike of alcohol in general...sooo yeah. Maybe it's just me and it actually is a good recipe to try.  Who knows?

...and last but definitely not least...

Chocolate Cake in a Coffee Cup - that's correct: it was chocolate cake, in the microwave, with a coffee cup.  Seriously, this is the easiest dessert you will ever make.  Plus, its really fun to watch it cook because it rises up out of the mug while its in the microwave...like some kind of freakish cake-popsicle-alien-thing...all without actually spilling over because the sides are cooked through already.  Awesome!  (I'll definitely take pictures the next time I make this so you can see the phenomenon for yourself.  Its so cool.)  The cake itself wasn't quite sweet enough for my tastes, so I might modify it a little next time...and I'm wondering what else might be good mixed in besides chocolate chips.... cherries, maybe?  This needs some thought.

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