In the figurative sense:
Tuesdays are my long days at one campus: 11am class, follwed by office hours in the afternoon, followed by a 6pm class...get home about 9:30ish. Anyway, I usually eat at the school canteen for lunch, since it's easier to bring one meal instead of two, and after 3pm the pickings are rather slim. Anyway, I'm at a table in the common area, really only paying attention to my Turkey Ciabatta sandwich, when I hear the following conversation:
Dude: Wow, I could murder that sandwich...I'm so starving!
Chick: So go get one...ugh...whatever.
Dude: Uh, yeah, I'm gonna go get that sandwich.
This is followed by the biggest, most snot-filled snort I've heard in forever. And mind you, it's 75'F outside, sunny, breezy...maybe allergies are at play, but this sounded more like the dead-of-winter cold-induced snort. Needless to say, I was put off my lunch.
In the literal sense:
This past Sunday at the Farmer's Market there were these awesome varigated nectarines. They don't really get soft and juicy, so they crunch like an apple, but they get quite sweet. So I finally am able to dive into one today...and see a small worm enjoying life. Needless to say, I was put off my dinner.
It's hard to come up with a 'favorite month', but if I had to, it'd be August. Let's weigh the facts:
PRODUCE!!! The tomatoes right now are unreal...just the most amazing thing ever. I know people swear that canning tomatoes helps 'seal in the goodness,' but even the most awesome canned tomatoes pale in comparison to the goodness at my farmers' market right now. Holy Christ, I eat them as fruit. And that's nothing to say for the peaches and nectarines (surprising, as we didn't get quite that much rain this year), the corn (absolutely to die for!), the cucumbers...oh Lord, I can't stop! Two weeks ago I bought too much...my eyes and my nose were way bigger than my menus. But it's been fun to create different salads, sides, and mains with the veggies I have.
Weather: Now starts some of the best weather in the San Francisco Bay Area. Warm during the day, hot inland, but with a cool breeze once the sun goes down, and the fog rolling in, covering us with that cool blanket.
Start of school: Ok, I'm a bit sadistic, but I love my job. As I told a neighbor recently, I get paid for doing what I love: talking, thinking, and helping people learn. How in the hell is this bad? Ok, it'd be great if I did this with a single full-time position, but it could be a lot worse. I love the schedule, I love the interaction with new students, and I love working with my colleagues. I don't like vague instructions from state and federal groups telling us they want 'data' and 'outcomes'...and then not really giving us a concrete idea as to what we want. Just in my department alone, you have 2 PhDs, a former software engineer, and two researchers...we know what data are...and how nebulous they can be. Clearly they want results...so here they are! What do they mean? Oh...didn't get that far yet....
August is the start of change in the academic world...new full-time positions start to pop up...new academic years start...new hires come in and add to the department...new students come in with new questions and new perspectives on assignments. Some say the calendar starts anew in January...I say it starts in August.
Ok, I'm back. Here's the gist of things:
Wednesday: we all get in around 9am, take the shuttle to our hotel in Queens. Since we can't check in yet, we decide to change and take the subway out to Yankee Stadium. The bad news: since we have bleacher seats that day, we can't tour around the rest of the stadium, but that's ok. The game went well--Yankees won convincingly--and the bleachers were just as I love them: great crowd of people, lots of kids, and a good time all around. (And no alcohol sales in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium? Seriously?) Actually, one element which was a bit dour: a young 20ish woman came in and sat behind us, plastered (or, as I term it, chemically altered), with her friend in tow. She was completely incoherent--prolly high more than drunk--and going on and on and on and on. Communism, freedom of speech...there were a few topics touched upon. There were several day camps in our section, and this 'lovely lady' was cussing a blue streak for no reason. She was ultimately 'asked to leave' (aka kicked out), and her friend could not have been more embarrassed. Otherwise, loved the bleachers! But my mom, my brother and I were so tired from the red-eye and running around that we didn't go to dinner at the swanky Manhattan joint we planned...instead we opted for the hotel, a shower, and going down the street to a steakhouse. Great dinner, but we were beat! Early bed time.
Thursday: ok, this part is well explained by Neph. Neph is by far one of the coolest chicas I've ever met, and I can't wait to get back to NYC for a proper tour. My mom got the biggest kick out of her and John, and we both agree that they were awesome tourguides. After we left her, Mom and I met up with my brother at Yankee Stadium. We got there as the gates opened and went to Monument Park. For those who don't know, they have shrines for Yankee greats, both retired numbers of players and plaques noting their accomplishments. It's a beautiful tribute to baseball players (and some front-office people) of yore. Another good game--Yankees lost by a lot--and we got back to the hotel late. Shower, and sleep...a long drive the next day!
Friday: 4 hour drive to Cooperstown, NY, to the Baseball Hall of Fame. And what a place! If you even like baseball, let alone love it like we do, it's a must-see. Cooperstown is truly a small town, common to upstate New York. The HOF is not that big a building and complex, but it's amazing what they have. They have relics and pieces from the earliest days of the game (late 1800s), plus pieces from the most famous moments and players of the game. The hall with the plaques of those enshrined was by far the most touching...I found myself tearing up at those recently-inducted who have supplied me with an entire childhood of memories. But still, to read the plaques of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, and so many, many more, well, honestly there isn't a word for it. If you love a sport, to go to it's 'hall of fame' is truly breathtaking. This was no different. So, after spending a few hours there, we had dinner in town and went back to our hotel room the next town over.
Saturday: woke up to...DOWNPOURING RAIN!!! That was fun (not). But got out ok, and had a 3 1/2 hour drive to Boston. We thought we out-ran the rain, and we did, but when we had to go to the game at Fenway Park, it caught up with us. Eh, it's all good...a $10 plastic poncho worked well. Anyway, we stayed on Beacon Street, not far from the park, and enjoyed a beautiful evening once the rain cleared. Bleacher seats again in Fenway, and it was WAY better. No offense, Yankee Fans, but "Sawx" Fans have you beat. Very lively crowd (in a good way), tons of fun...felt like I was back at AT&T Park watching my Giants. (With beer sales! Wooooooooo!) Red Sox won (and beat the snot outta my brother's A's...HA HA!), and we went back to the hotel.
Sunday (today): woke up, got out of bed, ran a comb across my head...oops, sorry, Paul. Anyway, went to the airport to leave. We all had noon-time flights--Mom flew back on a different airline than my brother and I. We ended up volunteering to be bumped, and got a $300 voucher and first-class all the way back home for the trouble...but we got in at the same time as we would have. So now I have $300 to spend on American Airlines...hmmmmmmmmmmm....
So, when I have time, I'll post more pictures. Gotta combine them with the ones my mom and I took with her camera, and those of my brother. It was an outstanding trip, but I'm weary. Tomorrow I gotta buy food (ack! the cupboard's bare!) and pick up my cat from the boarder. But I am without words to describe the entire trip...it was spectacular!
If you are a baseball fan, you are about to be immediately jealous of my vacation trip this year. If you're any kind of sports fan, you also might turn a bit green. For the rest of you, I will explain. My mother, my brother Matt and I are about to embark on a trip to the Shrine and two of the Temples of Major League Baseball.
Tuesday night: we take the red-eye to New York, get in Wednesday morning.
Wednesday: afternoon game at Yankee Stadium (vs. the Baltimore Orioles)
Thursday: night game at Yankee Stadium (vs. the Angels)
Friday: drive to Cooperstown, and go to the Baseball Hall of Fame
Saturday: drive to Boston, night game at Fenway Park (vs. the Oakland A's)
Sunday: fly home
Now, to put this in perspective, Matt and I have talked about doing this trip for years. YEARS. The impetus this year is that it's the last year of Yankee Stadium, the House that Ruth Built. Next year the new one opens up next door, and while the Yankees organization is doing a first-class job on it, it's still not the original home of Ruth, Joe D., Gehrig, Yogi, Mantle, Munster, Mattingly, Jeter, Rivera...you get the picture. So he decided that this was the year to do the trip. And so we are.
The only drawback is that we don't have much time to spend in town...in any of the towns. And while we at least get a day in NYC (and a HUGE thank you to Neph who's been helping us figure out what we're going to do, and will play hostess), we all wish it really was more. But, this is a baseball trip, dammit! I'll be scoring the games, we'll all have our radios to listen to the game (something which we all do at every game we go to)...the ritual is to have a hot dog and a beer the first game at a stadium, and this will be performed. In general, I will be in reverence and in awe.
So, the next (and final) dilemma is whether or not to pack my mitt. I mean, it's a tradition here in San Francisco to bring your glove...you have to, be you chronologically a kid or an adult. Then I hear that in many places that it's looked upon as childish. Right now, I think it's going to be down to how much room I have in my carry-on.
The countdown is on...I'm about to pay hommage to the Baseball Gods.
Ok, I made that up...but I decided that I was going to do something different the next time that I make a burger. I'd make 2 and stack them!
Before you start wondering about the possible expanding waistline, no, I'm not doubling up on the meat. I usually buy ground chuck in bulk and portion it out to 1/2 lb. chunks, and will have a 1/2 lb. burger. Also, I don't usually have my burger on a bun...never cared for it, really, and I'd rather have more meat and other stuff.
So, plan of attack: make a double burger with the usual 1/2 lb. of meat, but make it different. This ain't your granny's burger!
The meat was prepared as always: a pinch of salt, a few cracks of pepper, and a couple of dashes of worcestershire sauce. I made two patties, maybe only 1/4 inch thick...I wanted them thin, so I could actually eat the darned thing. I usually let the patty (or, in this case, patties) sit for a few minutes to soak up the seasonings, and in the meantime, I turned my attention to the accoutrement.
I have a complete affinity for sauteed onions and mushrooms, and figured that both would be good on the burger. But how would I stack it? Would I use both? Or have one on the side? Decisions, decisions...all of which I made as I sauteed the two in some olive oil.
Then I had it: the onions would go between the patties, along with the slice of cheese (both for taste and as a 'glue'). The mushrooms on the side, to be eaten at my leisure. Genius! One of those so-called 'stuffed burgers', but with the meat actually cooked and done to my liking!
Once the veggies were done, I went to brown up the patties. Not too much...I wanted a 'crust' on the outsides, but a juicy burger inside. When ready, I did the stack: meat, cheese, sauteed onions, meat. YUM!
On the side, I had some 4 bean relish, which really is more like a salad. I made this yesterday, and it has been marinating in the fridge since. I know I won't be able to eat all of the salad before I'm sick of it, but I figure it's a great source of protein and fiber, plus very low in fat...therefore a great side during a week that is supposed to heat up. (By the by, peppadews are a Cajun marinated pepper, much like pepperoncini but there's a hair of sugar in the pickling liquid. If you find them, they'll be in the deli area where one gets olives. The recipe suggests using roasted red peppers if you can't find them, and I'd say do half the amount as the roasted red pepeprs, the other half as pepperoncini.) Oh, and the sauteed mushrooms, of course.
Dessert, you ask? Oh, in a bit I'll have some lemon sorbet, with some cherry preserves that I just made up this afternoon. Tell me that I'm not enjoying my Saturday!
I went to my yearly exam in May, and yesterday got the 'Explanation of Benefits' from my health insurance company. If you've never seen one before, it pretty much outlines the charges sent in by the doctor, what the discout is for going to a 'network doctor', what the insurance pays, and what I pay. I just looked at the rate that my doctor charges...and I've decided that I must rethink my rates.
Figure that I got billed for an hour--between the time to get the vital statistics, the waiting, the exam, and then returning to my normal state, that's fair. The doctor charged $200. She charges $200 an hour?
Ok, I have more schooling than she does--at least for the doctorate part, as an MD takes 3-4 years and a PhD takes 4-8 years (8 in my case). But, she has to have malpractice insurance, which is quite expensive, whereas I have nothing of the sort. She does have to 'rent' her space--perhaps, as she might be a partner in her office--so factor in a modicum of costs there. But while she might charge me for an hour's worth of time, she probably can see 2-3 patients in an hour for yearly exams.
Still...she's still getting much more per hour than I am, I reckon. Hmmmmmmmmm...ok, this needs to change. I DEMAND EQUAL PAY!
Oops, sorry, forgot my place. Back to the books now *shuffle shuffle shuffle*
So I'm in the dressing room of the gym, after a good workout, and I'm stripping off to go into the showers. Now, if one were to look at pictures of me, even if they only saw my face, they would guess (and correctly so) that I am prolifically freckly. Indeed, previous boyfriends have kidded around that they could play connect-the-dots on my body, and would be amused for hours. 'Tis true. Freckles and moles are all over, and have been since I was a babe. I have been made aware of my sensitive skin and the use of sun block for literally decades, and pretty much know what to look for should anything go south. It took a while, but hey, I'm used to it, and it's part of who I am.
Anyway, I digress.
Some random woman came up to be as I was finishing the undressingroutine, tapped me on the shoulder, and said the following: "Oh, honey, you should have those spots looked at. You can't be too careful!"
Now, here's the part that grills me: not even my best friend would say this. Yet a middle aged, slightly overweight stranger will come up to me out of the blue, and SHE will say this.
I'm sans clothes, glaring at this amateur dermatologist, and snapped right back at her.
"Do you always give such impromptu diagnoses to random strangers?" (That was the closest to "F*** off!" that I was willing to go at that time.)
"Oh, no, but I just love to give advice!" (Gee, ain't she sweet?)
"Are you a dermatologist?" (I had half a thought...I mean, you never know.)
I swear to Christ this is what she said, with a giggle in her voice: "No, but I play one on tv." Yep, that stupid joke line.
I'm trying to be on my best behavior...this is a nice athletic club, and I really don't want to piss off the fellow members as I ream this airhead a new one, letting fly a long blue streak. I'm trying, really. So the best I could do was shoot her a malocchio and say, "I think I'll go with the advice of my real dermatologist, thanks." And with that, I headed off to the showers.
As I walked home from the gym, I called my dad. He couldn't stop laughing. To him, this was the funniest thing he had heard in a week. I'm glad my life amuses him. On the other hand, I'm not upset, just beyond annoyed that some pazza luna, as my grandmother would say, felt the need to play doctor, and not in the way that I like. I tells ya....
*Taking off the Dr. John hat and feathers for a moment*
First, one must read this: Judge in hot water over Web site sex links
So, basically, California is a laughing stock, and our beloved 9th District Court of Appeals is up to usual shennanigans. Just google them, and see how idiotic they are, in general.
There is much that comes to mind when I see/read this. But what slays me is this:
I'm sorry...how does one not know what's on one's website??? Oh, and then this beaut...
What the f*&)((&* hell is your kid (I don't care how old) uploading shit onto your site...and you're a bleeding judge??? How does one not know what content is on one's site????? Where do you draw the line? How about telling your kid that dude needs help, and taking the proverbial keys away!
Christ, where to start....
*Trapses back to the keyboard...puts the Dr. John hat and feathers back on...*
Let the fruits (and vegetables) of summer appear!
Like a good Genovese girl, I have a basil plant in a pot in the backyard. It's a staple for me; if I only can grow one herb, it's Italian basil. The reason is simple: it's one of the few herbs which really doesn't hold up well when bought at the store and kept in the fridge. I've had a lack of counterspace my entire adult life, so that pretty much prohibits me leaving it in a mug of water on the counter...besides, Bella gets a bit too possessive of any greenery in the dwelling. So, once I figured out that I'd be at this apartment for a while, I turned my thoughts to the garden again.
Like many of the apartments I've lived in, I have a porch. Unlike most all of the previous apartments, it's big, faces east, and gets plenty of sun. At the store a few weeks ago, I saw a bunch of big basil plants for sale, and decided that it was time to invest. So, I bought one, and along with a trip to the home store for a pot and potting soil, I'm back to my gardening ways.
(For the record, I've also purchased a jalape
To all the Europeans who frequent the board and who occasionally read this blog, I ask for an explanation.
What the bloody hell is all the fuss about Eurovision?
First, there are countries in the contest that are not even part of Europe (Armenia? Azerbaijan? Georgia?). Now, I realize that there are many out there who would consider Europe and Asia as one continent, but even if we accept the fact that the word 'Europe' has a geographical connotation to it, much like the words 'Central America' or 'the Middle East', then even still these countries would not be part of what is called 'Europe'.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, who the )(*^&)(* cares????? Seriously, this is a contest known for is beyond-weird costumes, stupidity, and boring songs which no one would make into international hits. For chrissakes, this damn contest spawned ABBA...need I say more?
There is now a so-called political backlash because Russia won...and it was supposed to have quite a boring song. There are talks of 'Slavic/Balkan collusion' just to make it more interesting. To be perfectly honest, I heard a couple of the songs this year--by accident, as I was watching BBC News--and they couldn't be interesting if the songwriter's life was dependent upon it. Crappy pop (not even good pop!) with clich
The day had been typical for a weekend. Went to the Farmer's Market and the store in the morning, got started on laundry and cleaning, ate lunch, and finished the chores. The last thing to do, usually, is sweep up the backyard. My landlord essentially neglects it, and since I look onto the yard from my kitchen window, I've been taking it upon myself to tidy things up. Well, what I can, anyway.
After finishing up in the back, I went to enter the apartment again through my back door. It's bolted. Ok, WTF? I then realize that the bigger of the slide bolts must have shifted just enough when I closed the door (ok, I admit I kinda slammed it, because it's getting a bit loose...I gotta fix that)...either that, or Bella locked me out. Eh, who knows.
After trying the door several times (and, I'm sure, looking like an eejit), I tried to take the screen off my bathroom window; I keep the window cracked for ventilation, and if I could take off the screen, I could climb in and unlock the door. Well, I guess I should be thankful that I couldn't get it off, but at the moment I wasn't. So I moved to the kitchen window. On this long window, the screen isn't locked--yes, it's something that will be fixed soon, either by my landlord or by me. The window was open so Bella could hang out on the sill and cry at the birds and squirrels. I grabbed a bench in the backyard and tried to climb into the kitchen. Easy, right?
Oh my Lord...to be fair, my arms have never been that strong. Oh, my shoulders, chest and back are plenty strong, thanks to years of swimming, but I've never been able to do one pull-up. Yeah, that just bit me in the ass...because now I couldn't pull myself in the kitchen through the window. I'm sure it was a sight to see, with my ass hanging out of the window...a Candid Camera moment if ever there was one. I started cussing...not at being locked out, but because after 2 years of losing weight, I had put on almost half of it back in the last 8 months. And, yes, I'm losing weight again, but at this moment in time I'm still more than I want to be. *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep*...you get the point. Bella just kept watching me, wondering what the hell it was that I was doing.
Yes, I finally got in--I just got another item to step on--but all I could do afterwards was poke my flab and piss and moan. Not only is my new gym really great, and it's 5 blocks from my apartment, but now I have no excuse. I have but 2 weeks left of class, and after that I can resume my normal workout regime. This will change, dammit! *grumble* *grumble* *grumble* *grumble*
I joined a new gym a week ago, and it's taken that long to get my shit together and get into the pool. Aw man, I forgot how awesome it is to get into a clean, clear pool and do my laps! It's been about 8 months, and this new gym is quite motivating...almost like the one I used to go to when I lived in San Mateo. Great equipment, full amenities, and nothing is overcrowded.
Ok, so I didn't do my usual mile and a half...to say the least, my body wasn't going to allow that. But still, 1200 yards is fine for a start. But it was just amazing to glide through the water again, to practice strokes that I've done for years and years...to feel my gills fling open with life! And to dry off in the sun afterwards...it feels just like it did a year ago at the old gym.
I tell ya, this new place (which is just 5 blocks from my apartment...if that's not reason enough to get my fat ass outta here) is the key to reaching that ultimate goal.
This week was the shits. Absolutely one of the worst in my life. So, I made an appointment with Karma and we had a chat. It was a good airing out of grievances; I made it clear that her mechanations this week caused me to have a craptastic week, and she got a good laugh. But she promised that things will look up. I'd like to hold her on that, but seeing as how Karma is a wee bit fickle, and a bit of a bitch, I don't totally trust her. Her sister, Fate, is a lot nicer to me, although quite aloof and capricious.
Anyway, to make sure that Karma and Fate were on my good side, I decided that being taking matters in my own hands would be a good thing. On my walk today (4.2 miles...shorter this time, but a new route), I signed up at a different gym, one which has better facilities and more of an active social calendar than the one I'm at now. Basically, it's a gym and a network/social hall all in one. Part Elks Lodge (minus the overbearing male atmosphere), part 24 Hour Fitness. It's more than I pay now, true, but the atmosphere is much better...the pool is great, which is what I want, and it's 5 blocks down the street...I have no excuse now.
Ran errands...although Karma had fun with me again, making me late to the bank (so, no quarters...which means no doing laundry) and having the meter maids come 'round while I was dropping off my paperwork at the gym ($28...goddammit). But I've now made bread, and am about to make spaghetti gravy (I'm out...I can't believe it!). I'll work on grading later, and then will have a night in with the movies; The Last King of Scotland came in the mail via NetFlix the other day, and I want to watch it before I meet up with my brother tomorrow. Bella wants to play, which is always uplifting, although currently she wants to sit on my lap, and I'm about to go in the kitchen again.
Things are looking better...they always do get better. The sun is shining again!
Originally I was set to teach a course in the summer, one which was meant to include local high school students. It was a great program--the thought is to include them on certain popular courses so that their transition to college (be it community college or a 4-year college) would be better. 6 weeks, and a collegiate course. It was going to be tough, but hell, I was up for the challenge!
News just came down the pipe...the high school district just now realized that the high school students (who would be the bulk of the students) are at different preparation stages, depending on their schools, so they wouldn't all be ready for the course...that, and there was an issue with enough students taking their courses in the fall. So the course was cancelled.
This puts me in a difficult position. One college that I'm associated with (the main one I work at) doesn't need anyone else; they barely fill the one Spanish course they offer for the summer. As of now, I got no other offers. Another college I have worked at doesn't make their summer schedule for a couple of weeks yet, so perhaps something will come about. If I get nothing, I'm seriously going to be short on funds; I'll have to pick up work elsewhere. I guess it's no big deal, just that I really hate being in limbo.
I guess if there is a positive side, I don't have to teach an 8am class 4 days a week now!?
(Gah, this has been a craptastic week.)
First, if you've never heard of the Blues Brothers, educate yourself.
Well, for many years now I've been convinced that I'm a/the lost long Blues Sister. Yes, true, I never was an orphan growing up in a convent; true enough, Curtis and the Penguin were never my mentors in life. But the blues live within me. As does Rhythm and Blues. It moves my soul, makes me sway to the beat, and makes me want dress in black suit, white shirt, black tie, and Raybans. Ok, so I was born in the year that SNL came to being, which is the beginning of the Blues Brothers. Still..."Blues Sister" sounds better than "Blues Daughter"...and on that note, whose daughter would I be? Jake's? Elwood's? Curtis'?
So here I sit, Friday night, after a long week. Ok, so I'm drinking Sapphire and mineral waters (which, by the by, is an outstanding drink...it'll kick your habit of tonic water all together...get that nasty high-fructose corn syrup outta our system. And for those who are calorie conscience...there are none in this drink! Amen!), listening to R&B, Blues, and anything else which tickles my fancy. My landlord has FUBAR'd the cable (aka he forgot to pay the bill...again), so I can't watch TV. So, my friends, this means a night with Jake, Elwood, Curtis, the Penguin, Mac, the Louisiana Gator Boys, and the whole bunch. We will shake our tailfeather, look for someone to love, relive both Rawhide and Riders in the Sky, ask Matt "Guitar" Murphy to think and then ask him then for R-E-S-P-E-C-T, call Ed's Love Exchange, go down to Funky Nassau, and turn on my love light. Bella and I will dance (well, she doesn't know this yet...), we will enjoy the night, and we will be proud members of the Blues Kingdom!
And it's well-deserved, dammit.
Working primarily at a community college, there's nothing more satisfying than to hear that one of your students is going to go onto a 4-year degree. For the benefit of the non-Americans, our educational system here has the 4-year universities (where one earns a Bachelor's degree, or more) and 'community colleges' or 'junior colleges'. These CCs offer several types of courses, and one can get their Associate's degree so that they can either enter into the workforce more prepared than the average high school graduate, or transfer into a 4-year university to finish their education. Most people who do this either came from poor educational backgrounds, poor socio-economic backgrounds, or both. There are many other roles, too, but that is primarily the central goal.
One of my students is a typical transfer student. He's an immigrant from Mexico, whose family has very little in life but places a high value on education. Both he and his twin sister are students at our college, and are highly active in the campus and in the community. They're highly driven students who want to get their Bachelor's degree and help the Hispanic community in various ways. He's a true joy in the classroom, and wants to study communications and film, so that he can go to film school and eventually be a documentary film maker, with is central focus being on immigration and social justice.
He just got the news at the end of last week: he's transferring to a very good 4-year public university...and a $20,000 scholarship!!!!!! While it won't give him a cushy life, it will pay for tuition, room and board, books, and pretty much make it so that if he does work, it's because he wants a little extra money. Basically, he doesn't have to worry about his educational costs. To put it mildly, I'm overflowing with pride.
I think for me what makes this even better is that I spent the end of my Spring Break reading through applications for our college's scholarship. I don't know how many we'll give out--it depends on how much money we have--but of the 20 applications in my packet, there was only one which didn't describe such situations where students are working full time (or 2 part-time jobs), taking as many courses as they can so that they can finish their degrees, earn their goals, and provide for their family and community. I wanted to give them all money, and was actually getting depressed about it. It really humbles you and makes you realize how good you have things. But the news today just puts everything right...at least one person has been given the chance to fulfill his dreams, and I know with every cell in my body that he will achieve them all.
Anyone who knows me or has been around me quite a bit knows that I'm basically a ball of energy. I can run at a high level for a long, long time. I do my best work in the afternoon and evening, especially when I work-out in the morning; I never go to bed before 11:30pm, and I still wake up refreshed in the morning. But when I crash...look out.
This week has been a difficult one, not because of anything in particular. I know I'm starting to crash, and it's the week before Spring Break. I've made it thus far: 3 exams, graded 2 of them (the other doesn't have to be out until after break), and created 2 exams. Just the two classes to teach tomorrow. Then I can relax. But, man, I'm running on fumes right now.
When I crashed before, I would spend a fair amount of my evenings on the couch. It was easy: finish eating dinner, put dishes in the sink, then lay down on the couch and watch tv until I fell asleep. Wake up, take a shower, go to bed for the night. However, when one lives in a 400 sq.ft. studio apartment, this isn't exactly feasible. For one, my 8-foot couch is in my brother's garage. For another, if I want to pass out in front of the tv, I get to sit in my computer chair. Otherwise, I can lay on the bed, and watch tv on an angle...and wake up with a terrible neck pain. Nope, no good.
So, I'm doing the next best thing: drinking wine, with my cat on my lap, and doing nothing. Tomorrow night I have a date, so I'll come home from campus, eat a bit, go work out, and take a nap before getting ready. Tonight I'll also give meself a mani-pedi (for you guys: manicure and pedicure...and yes, I do it myself)...I need it anyway, as it's almost sandal weather. But I'm enjoying these next few days...even though I have all next week off of school, I have exams to grade, scholarship applications to review, and other stuff to work on come Wednesday. But, oh, I get to recharge!!!!
I don't know why, but I love gumbo.
Ok, I know why exactly: it's a stew served with rice...it's a combination of flavors that is captivating. It's both spicy and savory. It's got both pork and chicken...well, ok, my version does, since I can't have any shellfish. A pinch of cayenne, a bit of fil
I decided last night to go see "No Country For Old Men," seeing as how it was about to be in a double feature with "There Will Be Blood" (which I don't care to see right now). So, 9:35pm showing...and it was so worth it.
Admittedly, I'm a big Coen Bros. fan. I love their work--"The Big Lebowski" is in permanent residence in my DVD collection, and "Fargo" is about to join it. I love how they can work the dark side of humanity into a central question of society: what is justice? At least, I feel that's their signature message. And they keep bringing different angles to that question.
"No Country For Old Men" is another one in that vein. This time, the question is not only "What is justice?" but it also questions who's version of justice is the 'correct' one. Javier Bardem deserves most every award that he receives for his acting; I'm a huge fan of his. He takes the role of ultimate cerebral antagonist to a level not seen often; perhaps Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter is the only other one, or the one that comes to mind. It's very dark, perhaps darker than "Fargo," but it still riveting. The movie lasted about 2 hours, and I really didn't feel like I spent 2 hours in the theater. And Tommy Lee Jones...well, he's just good, but he's starting to play 'himself'...much like Jack Nicholson does. The other actors did a fine job, but it's truly amazing to watch Jones and Bardem. Sadly, they never share any scenes...oh how I'd love to see that!
(By-the-by, if you're interested in another thought-provoking movie, watch "Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside)"--questions who gets to decide life or death. And again Javier Bardem is magnificent.)
So...it's a great movie, and one that many will enjoy.
First...I find it a necessity, nay, a duty, to inform the public on this evil that has been brought forth.
Click here, if you can stomach (and liver) it
Yes, that's a combination of Budweiser and Clamato, being sold in one can, for general consumption and pleasure. For those who don't know, or have never heard of, Clamato: it is a mix of tomato juice and clam juice (as the name implies), often used in Bloody Marys.
Now, I admit that I despise tomato juice. I hate it with a passion. In fact, I don't like tomato soup. But I digress. Regardless of my feelings on the subject, this combination of tomato juice and clam spit (well, that's kinda what clam juice is) is being added to beer.
I admit to a further note: Budweiser is not my normal beer of choice. Sure, if I'm attending or am planning on attending a social and public function (say, a BBQ), it's a fine general beer. You probably won't offend anyone with it. I would much rather drink it than the other "macro-brews" of the US (Miller and Coors). However, you won't tend to find it in my fridge...just my personal tastes.
But I seriously want to meet the people who decided that this was a good idea...and smack them upside the head with a cast iron skillet. Their beer privileges have been revoked.
I also want to meet the taste testers who said to these eejit marketing dopes, "Yes, this does taste good!"...and smack them all upside the head with the same cast iron skillet. Their beer privileges have been revoked, as well. Perhaps also their tasting licenses.
I mean, for Crissakes, who in their right bleeding minds would green light this project???????
Ok, let's get things starting off correctly: I'm not the type of girl who sits at home moping around. I could give a bleep less that I don't have a date on Valentine's night...I'm still going out! I mean, hell, if you're sitting in a full restaurant, then you're not eating alone, right?
So last night's plan: take the light rail 'downtown' (aka 15 blocks), go to dinner around 7, watch a bit of hockey at the bar of the restaurant, and then go to my movie (as I mentioned in the latest movie thread, I saw "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show," which got good reviews from me).
Dinner: once I found out that the Sharks (NHL team here in San Jos
Well, it's official. I just sent off my first paper, with the hopes that it will get published.
Ok, let's not get our egos pumped up hugely here. It's a working paper, meaning that it's not posing a 'novel' idea per se, rather it's going to lead to a bigger, better paper. Also, the chances of it getting published are slim...you just can't expect everything you send off to be published. But still...there's a sense of accomplishment associated with this. I have officially taken the next step in the academic world.
Do I think it will get published? Eh, I hope it does, but I'm looking through my grey bifocals now, not through the rosy lenses. I definitely have bigger ideas that I want to work on, but they'll take time, maybe even a grant...but I can't really think about that now. In my district, any grant monies to be awarded are to full-time faculty, and I am but part-time. Basically, I have to wait until I'm in a full-time position before I can even think about grants. It'd be nice, but the full-time job is the priority now.
But it's still a nice feeling.
BTW, going into this 5-week break, I had a very long laundry list to accomplish...and with the paper submission, I just completed it. So, come Tuesday, I start a new semester, a new set of goals...and I will accomplish them.
Gee...I get to watch football in peace this afternoon!
Ok, I'm not, really, but it makes for a great title.
I crack up anymore about meteorology and the news. If you're here in the States, and perhaps on some BBC newscasts, the weather here in Northern California made headlines. "Monster storm!" "Buckets of rain!" "Flooding!"
Yeah, ok. Let me 'splain some tings, Loocee:
1) January is usually a wet month for us. Usually November is, too, as is March...this time 'round November was kinda dry, but so far January's holding up its end of the bargain. Granted, it's only the 4th.
2) High winds aren't always usual--certainly not hurricane force winds, true enough. But it does happen. I remember one year my dad had no more gotten down out of the trees after pruning back the cypresses behind the house when the next day a huge storm came in, and possibly would have knocked some of them down. Like I said, it's not usual...but it's happened before.
3) Flooding...what people keep neglecting is that each place that floods is in a goddamn flood plane!!!. Therefore, every year, when storms hit, the tendency is for these areas to flood. Yet people build there...because 'they've always been there'...blah blah blah. Lookit, I do have sympathy for you that you lost your stuff...but whose idea was it to go and live in a natural flood plane? Did you not check the area out before you decided to live there? Oh, sorry, that requires common sense.
Basically, I figure that it has to be 'big news' (hell, it's taken over half of the newscasts locally) because news producers are bored...or perhaps they find this entertaining. Really, I don't need another 'story' about people loading up on supplies and sandbags, nor the trees that randomly came down. The bit about the tree falling in the BART tracks, yeah, that's important (BART, or Bay Area Rapid Transit, is our elevated/subway transit system). Closing of roads and bridges, that's very important. But notes on how a small creek is "20 feet from flood stage, and rising"??? Nope, really, that's ok.
FYI: I'm dry...but then again, I didn't go outside. Go figure.
Every year at Christmas, once school got out, my mom used to take us up to San Francisco. We'd park at the Stonestown Galleria, which is in the outskirts/Park Merced district, and take the street car into Union Square. We'd go to FAO Schwartz to play with the toys and dream of what we'd really love Santa to bring us; we'd have lunch somewhere in some cafe; we'd watch all the ice skaters fall down and look silly on the rink on top of Union Square. We'd gawk at all of the glorious displays in all of the stores...I always wanted to buy something, even if it's small, and sometimes my mom would let us. It was a tradition; my grandmother and great-aunt used to take her, and supposedly my grandmother and great-aunt used to go when they were younger (they didn't move to SF until 1925, and they were teens). To this day, I go at least once during the Christmas season, just to see what is going on.
So I just posted in the gallery my pictures that I took today. There aren't many pictures of displays...it seems that in these economically uncertain times, many stores can't afford them. The Christmas Tree in the center of Union Square is still the focal point, and it's in its usual splendor. It stands strong along with the Dewey Monument, which was erected to mark the accomplishments of Admiral Dewey. Macy's has sponsored the tree for the last 5 years, as they are such a monumental part of the vibrancy of Union Square. But things change: where FAO Schwartz used to stand (it closed several years ago), Nieman Marcus has a store; they now have a tree displayed in the front, but it's nothing like the mobiles, trains, and other miraculous toys the old store had.
Nephele, this is for you: The New York Times' Marquard Liquor Store!
The ice skating that used to be in the Square has been moved to the Embarcadero...and I just didn't feel like crossing town to fight more crowds. But here are some links to the best treats of San Francisco during the holidays:
The San Francisco Ballet's The Nutcracker: I saw it for the first time last year, and was floored. I'm not a ballet person, but it hit me hard...gorgeous.
The Maritime Parade: Many of the boats and yachts in the SF Marina light things up, and show off their wares. The Victorian houses along the Marina and Chrissy Field are wonderfully dressed up, too...on a cool, crisp night it makes for a beautiful walk.
The Embarcadero: Each year, as one comes in from the East Bay and goes across the Bay Bridge, this is the sight that greets you. It's not the Holidays unless the Embarcadero's lit up.