Monday, June 22, 2009
An interesting observation though: usually a little time away from the office restores my energy and enthusiams for it and increases tolerance for all the daily nonsense and pettiness that transpires. But it's a little different this time around. I have no desire, no interest in returning to that wretched place. Tendering my resignation and starting anew somewhere else has a powerful appeal, but it's not realistic at this time, at least not until other employement is secured. Were it not for bills to pay and trips abroad to plan, I would almost risk being unemployed for the short term.
Anyway...off to have more coffee in hopes of fully bracing myself for the terror of the day.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
"Whazzat?!?" I said to myself.
Writersblok notebooks they were and, as they seemed a viable alternative to Moleskine, I picked up a pack each of the smaller (pocket sized) and medium soft-cover sizes to try out. As to paper selection I chose the dots, which seems a novel concept for those who like blank pages but have the singular inability to keep the lines straight without some sort of guide sheet placed beneath the page. What's more, the dots are somewhat narrower than the lines found in ruled Moleskine journals which is a Godsend for my miniscule handwriting.
So today I've a new thing with which to experiment. I'll write a review of sorts later today or tomorrow after I've put the Writersblok notebooks through their paces.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Sunday, June 07, 2009
As yesterday was my first Free Day in ages, I decided a photo expedition was in order and, thus, early in the day I gathered the camera and sallied forth to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge just south of Sandbridge in Virginia Beach. With the low clouds and spitting rain, it promised to be an ideal beach day, when conditions are dark and moody and I'm the only person for miles around. This is much preferred to those sunny and hot days when one can't take a shot without some overweight and frightfully under dressed tourist from New Jersey wandering into the frame.
But if anything, I was the one decidedly under dressed yesterday given the brisk north wind and grey skies spitting rain, that overpriced-camera-hating rain which seems to follow me on every photo expedition. Shorts, sandals, and a light polo shirt. Under dressed, yes, but not frightfully so. I had dressed for summer and yesterday was more akin to October. But the rain had stopped by the time i arrived at the preserve, so I decided to press onward along the trails of the Back Bay side in hopes the tangle of bushes and stunted trees would serve as a wind break at least until it warmed enough to allow beach wandering in comfort.
I pressed on along the bayside trails and discovered the open areas within the bushes and shrubby trees teeming with dragonflies of various makes, models, and colors. This pleased me greatly as as I've long been fond of those seemingly clunky, over sized insects. Alas, they weren't particularly cooperative to photographic endeavours save for one which, I would later discover when reviewing the day's photos, was missing a wing. So there it was. Less in the way of photographic prowess, and more in terms of a damaged insect probably in need of a breather. Dragonflies were soon to rise even higher in my estimation when I forayed out along the marsh trail boardwalk where I encountered the wrath of those wretched biting flies-the bane of picnics anywhere near the coast, which soon had me in full retreat back to the sheltered areas of bush and trees. Finding me very much to their liking (or perhaps delicious), the biting flies pursued me into the sheltered clearing. And here the air duel began. As the biting flies swarmed me, the dragonflies swarmed them, those big and surprisingly unclunky insects diving here and there in close proximity to me, presumably picking off their lunch. Within moments the biting flies had vanished as had the dragonflies and I was left alone wishing I had studied Odonata and not Diptera for the masters in biology.
Having been cleared of biting flies by my new Odonatan friends, I wandered back towards the trailhead and onto a low wooden platform over a pond and immediately noticed to my lower right a log floating in the water. A brown scaly log slithering among the light gray branches at the water's edge.
Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes.
And not just any snake, mind you. A cottonmouth moccasin about three feet in length and with a diameter larger than my arm. As is often the case in predator/prey relationships, I froze in place, trembling like a field mouse. A six foot two field mouse. The snake paid me little interest and began to swim out towards open water.
Go away, please. Just go away.
Whether attracted by the clicking of the camera, or perhaps my mouse-like whimpering, the snake stopped, turned and, waving its head left and right, flicked its bifurcated tongue a few times in my direction. A moment of hesitation, a moment of assessment, and serpentine decision.
Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.
With alarming speed, the snake launched in my direction. It's robust body undulating upon the calm surface of the water, leaving a wake in its path. I took defensive measures, but the Vile Serpent was undeterred by the heavy curses hurled in its direction. I then considered my options.
A. Wet my pants
B. Scream like a schoolgurl
C. Run away! Run away!
D. Both A and B
E. Stay and fight like a man
Thankfully I have long legs and with but a few great strides I found myself on the beach, a half mile away, where I spent the remainder of the day photographing waves and shore birds and horseshoe crabs long dead. And getting sunburned. Terribly, terribly sunburned. Even with the by then partly cloudy skies. But at the time, sunburn was the furthest thing from my mind. The beach was deserted save for a few Clean the Bay Days folks in the far distance, visible only because of their bright orange trash bags fluttering in the breeze. I was alone on that beach, with the constant roar of the breakers, blowing sea foam and the smell of salt air, and the flight of birds and sand crabs scurrying here and there, cautiously peering at me with stalked eyes from the safety of their burrows. Here one feels a certain connectedness with their surroundings, where two worlds meet, aquatic and terrestrial, and the life that flourishes at the angry and malleable juncture of the two. There is something restorative about time spent in this setting where life is reduced to things elemental, which, for those so inclined to look deeper at things, constitutes a meditative endeavor.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Yesterday proved to be highly productive in terms of the issue mentioned in my last post (the "control my life and not have my life control me" thing). A good portion of the day was spent evaluating this issue, which included reviewing daily journals and diaries and giving serious consideration as to patterns that are so much more apparrent when documented in such a format than, say, via memory alone. To say that the endeavor was a real eye-opener is a bit of an understatement. I've long been convinced that the task of daily journal keeping, though at times mundane and tedious, has merit which was confirmed during yesterday's evaluation process. But at any rate, the key point I want to make here is this: a number of key factors were identified, from which I was able to develop a work plan (or road map, if you will) to regain control of my life. I cannot begin to describe the peace of mind, the excitement, the determination I now have. It's a new dawn, a new chapter of my life beginning to open as long as I maintain the discipline necessary to see the endeavor through to a happy conclusion.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
The need to claim today as my own is symbolic of a much larger issue going on in my life. My traditional iron discipline has slipped and I feel as though I'm letting things control me and not the other way around as it should be. This has been vexing me for quite some time and it has finally gotten to the point that I have to say no more. So beginning today I'm putting into effect a more vigorous attempt at being in control of my hours, my days, my ultimate destiny.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
"All of us must now renew the common stake that we have in one another. I know that promises of partnership have gone unfulfilled in the past, and that trust has to be earned over time. While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. (Applause.)
There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations; there is simply engagement based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values. So I'm here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration. (Applause.)
To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. I am very grateful that President Ortega -- (applause) -- I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old. (Laughter.)
Too often, an opportunity to build a fresh partnership of the Americas has been undermined by stale debates. And we've heard all these arguments before, these debates that would have us make a false choice between rigid, state-run economies or unbridled and unregulated capitalism; between blame for right-wing paramilitaries or left-wing insurgents; between sticking to inflexible policies with regard to Cuba or denying the full human rights that are owed to the Cuban people.
I didn't come here to debate the past -- I came here to deal with the future. (Applause.) I believe, as some of our previous speakers have stated, that we must learn from history, but we can't be trapped by it."
President Obama's Address on Cuba at the Summit of the Americas.
At times the movie did get a little tedious. After all, how many times can one watch a rag-tag band of guerrillas stalk about in the jungle: lush tropical foliage of Cuba: check and check again; the more arid foliage of Bolivia: check and check again. But this minor drawback is more than offset by the powerful acting by the principle characters.
Each of the two parts were good in their own way. Part 1 deals with the Cuban Revolution and is generally the better of the two in terms of pacing and overall presentation. Those not familiar with Che and his writings would find this the more accessible of the two (though honestly I think for the average American moviegoer, the films are generally inaccessible). That being said, I preferred Part 2, which dealt with Che's failed Bolivian campaign and was based on his Bolivian Diary. I read this diary late last year and was impressed with Soderbergh's ability to capture and portray the feelings of hope and then despair one gets from reading of the failed expedition in Che's own words.
So at any rate, Che was certainly worth the afternoon spent in the theater and it's equally certain that it will be one of the rare additions to my collection of DVDs. Four stars out of four.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Having finished Don Quixote, I moved on last night to Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America which I picked up from Barnes and Noble earlier this year and on which I was eager to get started. Whilst reading the news just now I ran across this from an AP story about the Summit of the Americas (emphasis added):
"As the first full day of meetings began on the two-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Obama exchanged handshakes and pats on the back with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who once likened President George W. Bush to the devil. In front of photographers, Chavez gave Obama a copy of "The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent," a book by Eduardo Galeano, which chronicles U.S. and European economic and political interference in the region."
El Presidente Chavez must have somehow obtained a copy of my reading list. :)
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Less prophetic words have seldom been spoken. As it turned out, the presumed bout with allergies with which I've been condending the last couple of days was actually a cold and one severe enough to force the expenditure of a sick day from the office. Given the prevailing climate at work, I didn't mind not being there for once.
So anyway...the rest today has been nice, as has been the time to get some reading done. Also in a period of Benadryl-free clarity I finished up and filed my taxes. At the moment, it's a cup of coffee slowly sipped, after which I'll get back to the primary purpose of the day: rest.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Meeting with the extended family and old friends over the last few days was a bit of an adventure in its own way. Most of these people I had not seen for probably 15 to 20 years, so polite conversation (those generic things one talks about with total strangers) was amiable, but admittedly awkward given the fact that I knew these people at one time, but now...well, not so much. Most of my cousins are married now with children of their own, but their collective world view was of the small town sort that for the most part doesn't extend beyond the boundaries of their hometown, immediate family, and church, safe from the "other," the unknown that occurs beyond, which, once encountered and understood, necessitates the casting off of old ways and the adoption of a more liberating world view.
The funeral yesterday was well done save for the memorial service, which started out as one (a memorial service), but somehow ended up as this obnoxious fire and brimstone sermon, an inappropriate attempt by the pastor to win souls by going after sorrowful hearts. The tone of the sermon earned rounds of "amens" from those inclined towards such nonsense, and rather the amount of indignant eye rolling from the few (myself and my sister included) whose broader view of life allows them to see such nonsense for what it really is.
So in some ways, the events of the last few days amounted to what could correctly be considered culture shock. To return home and discover strangers in the place of long-lost relatives and old acquaintences was something for which I had not sufficiently prepared myself. Certainly it was I who had changed, and not them. At times I felt more out of place there than when I was in Bangkok a number of years ago, where I spoke not the language and the culture was prevailingly alien to me.
But there's an interesting observation in all of this. My grandmother was largely responsible for who I was to become and am today. Some of my earliest and fondest memories of her are from my single digit years, those biweekly summer excursions to the library in her ancient green Dodge Dart where she, my sister, and I would comb the shelves for interesting books to eagerly devour over the coming weeks. She instilled in us at an early age her passion for reading, thirst for knowledge and, by extenstion, the inevitable consequence of questioning things, of seeking out a world larger than the one into which we were born. Whether or not this consequence was intended...well, that's difficult to say with any degree of certainty. She was born in 1920 and was certainly a product of her era. Yet with her love of reading, I cannot help but to think that perhaps there was a certain twinkle in her eye as we puttered home from the library so long ago, with my sister and I prioritizing our respective stacks of books or already quietly at work on them as broad fields of corn or peanuts passed slowly by.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
04/07/2009 5:08:47 PM
A woman called 911 to report she didn't get as much shrimp as she wanted in her fried rice at a Fort Worth-area restaurant. Police on Tuesday released the taped emergency call, in which the customer is heard telling the dispatcher, "to get a police officer up here, what has to happen?" The customer also said: "He didn't even put extra shrimp in there."
The upset customer was gone when an officer arrived Monday afternoon.
Restaurant workers said the woman had been denied a refund after leaving with her order, then returning to complain.
Cook June Lee said there was nothing wrong with the meal, and that "some customers are happy. Some are not."
Information from Fort Worth Star-Telegram & KDFW-TV:
http://www.star-telegram.com & http://www.myfoxdfw.com
Odd....usually they just call the health department.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
The broiled, seasoned fish I topped with roasted red and green bell peppers and onions stuffed into a warm, white corn tortilla and served with a side of fresh pico de gallo (loaded with diced jalepenos and cilantro) and accompanied by lime wedges. The pico de gallo is served in a shot glass, which is about the right amount for two tacos (and will be suitably apt for a special fish marinade I'll use when making this dish again).
Thursday, April 02, 2009
The cooking endeavour tonight took me south of the border (no passport required). Using what I had on hand here, I concocted a blackened fish taco served over a bed of black bean, roasted jalepeno, and lime salsa along with sides of fresh pico de gallo (lots and lots of cilantro added) and tortillas with an uber secret dip. The dip and tortillas would normally be served as an appetizer, but as I was cooking for one, I really didn't care too much about staggering the courses.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
This was the vista two years ago this weekend. Batad village and rice terraces on Luzon in the Philippines. I had arrived in Banaue around six in the morning, having taken the overnight bus from Manila, and almost immediately found myself, along with a few other tourists who happened to be standing nearby, in the back of a Jeepney bouncing along a road towards the ridge above with a guide and her family in tow. The shot was taken from the ridge overlooking the village right before the climb down. And so without sleep, or coffee, or breakfast, the climb down to Batad was underway, during which I made several unsuccessful attempts at falling to my death. The adventure did not stop upon reaching the village. The guide spoke of a great waterfall at the bottom of the valley just beyond the village. Seeing this as yet another great opportunity to fall to my death, I immediately set off across the rice terraces, up the corresponding ridge, and then descended into the valley along a narrow and winding path comprised in part of dirt track, steps, and a good measure of faith, as one can see below.
After several delightful hours resting in the spray of the falls, the trek up was underway. If gravity was a foe on the way down, it was even more of a nemesis on the climb up, reaching out with its invisible hand to tug at you whenever your sandaled foot lighted upon unsteady terrain, which was often. During a break upon reaching the ridge of the valley from which one could again see Batad, I took a few moments to scribble in the journal these words: "...most gruelling hike ever. Great!.." (though not in italics as featured here) along with other similar nonsense that suggested heat and fatigue induced madness, or simply just the thrill of adventure and successful conquest, though I subsequently did try to fall to my death a few more times while crossing the rice terraces themselves. Otherwise, the trek back up to the ridge where the adventure began was uneventful.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
As I might have mentioned on here previously, I've never really minded going in to work on weekends. The office is wonderfully deserted and quiet and so much more can be accomplished in a few hours on, say, a Saturday morning than what one normally could on an entire weekday, with phones steadily ringing and staff floating in and out of my office. So this morning I'll throw on a pot of coffee immediately upon arrival, bring up the playlist on the Blackberry and click "shuffle song," and enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted, highly-caffeinated productivity.
At any rate, off now to ready myself for the day. Perhaps more later.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
So anyway, the balance of the day was spent in the most delightful of ways: reading. After morning errands and chores and a light lunch, I curled up with Don Quixote and read for the entire afternoon. The Knight of the Sorrowful Face and his trusty Sancho have once again taken to the field, with their misadventures leading from the cart of Death to the encounter with the Knight of the Woods. As I've said before: absolutely delightful.
*Note: No recipe link for the shepherd's pie. I make it up as I go along, so I guess "usual" is somwhat of a misnomer in the sense that it's different each time I make it.
It seems that I've been in a bit of a rut as of late. The extent of variation in life has over the last couple of months devolved to the point of consisting of no more than long hours at work or solitary puttering about at home. A cursory review of the daily journal reveals that I've allowed myself only one social activity this year and that was meeting up with an old friend for dinner (which probably doesn't technically count since I found the outing so very miserable from the outset that I paid my tab even before the food was brought out, called it an early night, and retreated home with to-go box in hand to read and enjoy blissful solitude). To examine this phenomenon even further, a review of the cell phone bill reveals only one personal (non-work related) call in the past month and that one was simply a quick test of the new Blackberry on Day 1.
From time to time I've been known to retreat into my shell from which no one can drag me, but I don't recall such episodes being as pronounced as the one at present. The interesting thing is that thoughts of socializing on weekends or evenings do not even cross my mind when considering how to spend leisure time. I'm perfectly content to run my errands, make my solitary trips to Barnes and Noble, read my books, cook long and involved dinners for one, and simply be left alone. And woe unto anyone should they dare to disturb the glorious solitude.
So at any rate....off to take care of laundry and start the day.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
On that flight I jotted a few notes about the anxiety and thrill that come with visiting a place for the first time, those feeling of uncertainty, the looming unknown in which one will soon find themselves for which one can only plan up to a point. It’s that moment of reflection, the deep breath before the plunge; you hope that upon hitting the water you’re able to navigate the rushing currents of culture and life.
It’s remarkable to consider that two years have passed. Wandering around Manila, both on foot and via Jeepney and exploring the rice terraces and mountains around Sagada seem much more recent a memory. The trip was memorable in many ways and I’m looking forward to a possible return later this year.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I have been somewhat of ill humor this weekend due to receiving the news on Friday that one of the brightest and best people in the office is leaving due to moral objections over the recent and terribly nasty personal issue to which I have alluded on here. That employee, like myself, was caught in the crossfire between the Evildoer and their innocent target in another department. This is such an unfortunate development and one that has thrown me into a bout of despair. We had a long and heartfelt private talk on Friday afternoon, which out of necessity had to be somewhat guarded at times due to the Evildoer chugging back and forth outside my closed office door like some gunboat on patrol. While I hate to see them go, I agree wholeheartedly with the departing employee's decision and admire their courage to take a stand.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
After a bit of a lull in the reading, I've gotten back into it full bore this week and am continuing to churn my way through Don Quixote. The book is an absolutle delight, though I'm looking foward to finishing it and getting back to something a little more substantial in terms of current issues that have captured my attention.
Anway...off now to read/nap. Perhaps more later tonight.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Sunday, March 08, 2009
As for today, I'm trying to motivate myself for a photo expedition of some sort, which I have not done in quite some time. While I'm somewhat indifferent towards this endeavor (at least for the moment) it would nonetheless get me out of the apartment for a while. One of my greatest failings is locking myself away in here and not leaving once over the course of the weekend. This is a habit I really need to break. So at any rate, off to wrap up laundry and then devise some means of taking advantage of the day.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Friday, March 06, 2009
Never has a weekend been more welcome than this one. Work this week can only be decribed as insane and this might even been an understatement. Extraneous personal drama cast a dark pall over much of the day to day business and sent those so inclined by their nature to find such bickering pointless scurrying for cover. It's interesting to note that those of us who tried to rise above such nonsense were dragged repeatedly back down into the muck, or if our altitude above the buffoonery was too great, were bombarded by artillery fire. It seems that some believe personal drama must be shared by all those around them. I think what bothered the Evildoers more than anything was my studied, stoic indifference to it all. I refused to react or even comment (though at times my inclination was to tear our their throats with a pen), which drove the interested parties to distraction. While there was some gratification in this, I'm rather tired of the ongoing ordeal. The hope is that the weekend will allow sufficient time for the perpetrators to see the error of their ways so we can once again achieve some sense of normalcy.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Rooftops of white?
Wazzat?!?!, I said to myself.
Against all odds, we've finally received a wee bit of snow. At present it amounts to little more than a dusting on the grass and cars and rooftops; laughable amounts elsewhere, but technically a Significant Event here in Norfolk. And the best that I can tell in the light of the streetlamps, it's still falling, or perhaps it's just blowing off nearby roofs.
While the roads are at present perfectly clear, I'm altogether certain some staff will call out today due to the inclement weather. As of yet, I've received no call or text messages from my people, but it's still early yet. I would consider calling out as well, but such a request would be ridiculed for two reasons: 1.) I live five blocks from the office and 2.) I have a 4wd Jeep Wrangler, which pretty much negates any claim of impassable roads. But I don't have to be at work for a couple hours yet and if the snow continues and begins to stick to the roadways, perhaps, just perhaps, we'll receive word as to appropriate closings.
At any rate...off to ready myself for work and the journey there against dangerous snow drifts and menacing packs of Yetis.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
......before the Great Blizzard sets in.
Yes, once again, snow is in the forecast and once again I'm confident that we'll be gravely disappointed despites hopes to the contrary. It's interesting that the National Weather Service keeps shifting the Winter Storm Watch/Warning/Run for the Hills line eastward towards Norfolk as the storm system develops, though I refuse to get my hopes up about this. It's bitterly cold out and windy with dark and ominous clouds, but that means little more than cold rain around here.
So anyway.....am going to bring this post to a close and take care of some chores and make a grocery run for tonight's cooking endeavor.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Today's agenda is at present relatively low key. The plan is to foray to the office to catch up on some things before heading off to a meeting with my graduate advisor at 4pm. While I'm not exactly super excited about sallying forth to the office today, it's somewhat of a necessity as two entire days of sitting on an interview panel have put me behind on a number of things due forthwith that were already behind schedule, or very nearly so. Moreover, going in on weekends isn't bad as there are no distractions from staff and phones and emails marked urgent; so much can be accomplished in a short period of time than occurrs during the typical weekday. And, If I'm feeling thusly inspired, I'll continue the office reorganization began last fall. The project was about halfway complete before distractions (ok...a loss of interest) set in. It will be a rewarding thing to bring the project to a happy conclusion. The only thing I'm waiting on now is for stores to open so I can pick up a few things (office supplies, a plant or two, and possibly a floor lamp) before heading in.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I've never really paid much attention to horoscopes but today's stopped me dead in my tracks. It could not be more perfect in terms of a few issues around the office. Perhaps there's something to these things after all.....
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
1 link of smoked sausage, diced
1/2 onion diced
1 clove of garlic minced
1 can of chicken broth (or just make your own if you tend to be Martha Stewarty)
1/2 can of diced tomatoes
1 diced red bell pepper
2 Thai chilis
Thyme (to taste)
Majoram (to taste)
Salt y pepper (to taste)
Parsley (diced, to taste)
Several pieces of fried chicken diced
Pasta (style of your choice. I used Ziti since it's what was on hand)
1. Dice the sausage and fry until brown. Remove from oil.
2. Make a brown roux with oil (equal parts flour and oil). Set aside
3. In a different pan saute onions and garlic in a little vegetable oil until tender. Add the sausage and Thai chilis.
4. Add tomatoes, corn, lima beans, and chicken broth.
5. Add the roux, parsley, thyme, and majoram.
6.Simmer until vegetables are nearly tender then add the red bell pepper.
7. Boil pasta in seperate pot. Drain.
8. When much of the water has been absorbed and vegetables are tender, add the kale. Cover and steam a few minutes until tender. Do not overcook the kale.
9. Once kale is tender, add a bit of corn starch as a thickener. Mix well.
10. In a mixing bowl, combine pasta, diced fried chicken, and veggie mixture. Mix well and serve.
After a delightful rainy morning and early afternoon, the sun is now beginning to come out.
*shakes fist at the heavens*
This is altogether disappointing as I was in the mood for one of those dark and dreary days wonderful for curling up with a book and very little else.
But anyway...I've just now put on a pot of coffee to get me through the remainder of the afternoon. Two cups now and another one right before I begin cooking. After that, I'll switch over to a glass of wine which is one of the key ingredients for the cooking process. Not necessarily to add to the food (though sometimes that is the case); in very modest amounts wine seems to aid in culinary creativity particularly if you are proceeding without a recipe as is usually my case.
Tonight's culinary creation (as least as it stands now) will be some sort of chicken and vegetable pasta. Knowing me, the menu will change five or six times between now and when cooking starts about five-thirtyish. Most likely the dish will be southwestern in nature as I have on hand the necessary ingredients to carry it off in that direction (tomatoes, corn, jalepeno peppers, cilantro, onions, and garlic). But again: it's still early yet. By the time I turn off the stove, I might end up making adobo.
I am wondering if I might be coming down with the cold that has been circulating around the office for the last couple of weeks. I'm feeling only about 70% of my usual self. I'm lethargic and sneezing and congestion are a bit bothersome today. The biggest indicator suggesting the onset of a cold? When a sneeze is immediately followed by a chill. For me at least this always indicates a cold is in the works. The lack of energy today is the most bothersome element. I didn't feel up to sallying forth to the gym this morning and even the trip down to the laundry facility in the basement was rather the ordeal. Ah well. At any rate, I'm uppping the intake of vitamin C just in case.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
I rather don't comprehend the degree of raw fury that was on display last night. This could be due to some personality defect on my part. Arguments are very rare for me and if they do occur, they're more along the lines of a thoughtful discourse, even if it's something about which I feel strongly. I don't get agitated about things, I don't raise my voice, and I certainly don't carry on in an uncivilized manner as the the neighbors last night. This trait has from time to time earned me the appelation of cold, indifferent bastard, which is terribly unfair. Perhaps I'm just a bit more analytical than most when it comes to matters of contention. Whatever the issue is that inflames the passions generally is of very little consequence in the bigger scheme of things and if such matters are of greater importance, they are worthy of thoughtful and civil discussion. Nothing will be solved by screaming and yelling and throwing objects.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I'm not sure where nor how to begin heaping plaudits on the Blackberry. It's very nearly perfect is so many ways. It's features, the ability to switch between active applications, and so on could scarcely be improved upon. Yesterday I really put the device through it's paces and was well pleased with the experiment. All at the same time I was utilizing one of the Instant Messaging features while texting, utilizing the Internet, AND listening to music, all without any difficulties and no real disagreeable impact upon battery life. As most of my friends know, I'm a fairly rabid texter and am enjoying the full keyboard; it's large enough to navigate with ease.
Thus far I've encountered no real downsides to the Blackberry, save for perhaps availability of instructions. The guidebook with which the phone came is limited, so one has to rely on the help features in the device itself. Installing a memory card and subsequently loading music was a bit of an ordeal (of course I'm not the most technologically savvy person on the planet), but with a little trial and error, all is well.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
The recipe (which is very forgiving even if you don't have all the ingredients or wish to make modifications) is as follows:
- One chicken breast
- An onion diced and halved
- Four cloves of garlic
- Cilantro to taste
- Two diced jalepeno peppers (one green, one red)
- 12oz bag of corn
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- Mexican style cheese
- Lime juice
In stock pot, combine the chicken breast with half the diced onion, half the diced garlic, and cilantro and simmer for an hour and a half.
Remove the chicken breast and drain the broth. Dice/shred the chicken.
In a heavy saucepan saute the remaining onion and garlic until tender and add the diced chicken and saute a few minutes.
Add chicken broth and water (if needed) to make a suffficient quanity of soup. Add the diced jalepenos and corn and simmer for 30 to 45 minutues.
Once the appropriate flavor has been achieved, add cilantro and lime juice (to taste) reduce heat and simmer a few moments. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and add tortillas and queso.
With the expiration of my cell phone contract imminent and having nothing better to do yesterday, I sallied forth to look at new phones and associated plans. This was, in effect, the culmination of a few weeks of periodic research into various phones. I've had a Motorola Razr, of which I'd grown fond, over the last two years. Not a moments worth of trouble, not even after accidentally dropping it on a stone street in Sagada, where it bounced along in the shadow of the hanging coffins for what seemed slighlty longer than an eternity. At that point, I was nearly ready to curl up in one of those coffins, and would have done so, but the phone emerged with nothing more than a few very minor scuffs. Such was my fondness of the Razr, I considered sticking with it for two more years. But as with so many things, life gets in the way. More numerous and complex responsibilities required something a bit more comprehensive than the Razr in terms of data access and scheduling and so on. Choices had been narrowed down to either the Palm Centro or the Blackberry Curve and I was leaning towards procuring the former as I had experimented with one recently purchased by a coworker and found it to my liking. All thoughts of the Palm, however, were banished after but a few moments of experimenting with the Blackberry. At that point, there was really no choice and I returned home with the Blackberry in my clutches.
As it turned out, the decision as to which phone was the easy part. Learning its multitue of features and how to navigate around the menus ate up much of the evening and even a part of today. Emotions varied between elation and frustration, which astonishingly sometimes occurred at the same time. But at this point of the trial phase, I'm still very much pleased with the purchase, though in a weird sort of way I have a few reservations as to just how deeply connected I'm going to be. SMS, email, all versions of instant messaging, the Internet, and so on. There is something almost fundamentally wrong about this level of connectivity to the world.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
For the first time in weeks, I broke out the fountain pens with which to write today, mainly due to a shortage of the usual micro-fine point pens typically used for such endeavors, thanks to heavy handed people at work. Hand a pen to them to sign something and it's handed back all broken. I've lost three like this recently and one would think I'd have learned my lesson. I now have to order some more and keep on hand for staff signatures a box of crayons. But as to the fountain pens, they are such a novel and delightful writing tool. While I can't write with them as small and precise I normally do, they nonetheless provide a nice change of pace. The way the ink just glides across the page with the lightest of efforts and the ability to flair letters make the endeavor so very worthwhile. Needless to say these don't get lent out to staff for any reason whatsoever, though presumably they are much more difficult to break.
It has been exactly two years this week since I was last out there and that trip remains my favorites of all time, in terms of domestic excursions. I've made three trips to Arizona since 2005 and with each visit I become more enamored with the region. There is something about that part of the country to which I am deeply drawn. Were the opportunity ever to present itself, I would relocate there with but momentary debate. If anything, I've already had that debate; it's now just a matter of putting the process in motion. Of course the economy at present isn't exactly conducive for relocation, which is just as well since I still have that pesky masters thesis write-up to finish. But in the meantime, I'm keeping an eye on air fare and giving some thought as to a possibly travel ininerary for late February or March.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
As to the snow, I am very doubtful that we'll receive much, if any at all. It is such a rare thing here, even on occasions when it's all but guaranteed. Such occurred on Inauguration Day. We had a 100% chance of snow, with accumulations ranging from 3-5 inches. With all schools and colleges closed in anticipation of the Great and Terrible Event, grocery stores emptied of everything but discounted Christmas trees out front, and families huddled at home, mothers clutching children and fathers bravely posted at windows nearby, braced for the Savage Fury of mother nature, the day came and went with no more than one or two early morning flakes. By the early afternoon, it was evident to all that the Great Calamity would not come to pass and with relief neighbors rush out into the streets to hug neighbors, tears of joy streaming down their cheeks and glistening in the sun emerging from behind the dark, but impotent clouds.
So as for the coming "snow?" Not bloody likely.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
1. The Discovery of the Igorots (William Henry Scott) 332p.
2. Jerusalem Delivered (Tarquato Tasso) 413 p.
3. The Diary and Life of William Byrd II (Kenneth Lockridge) 166p.
4. Histories of the Dividing Line Expedition (William Byrd II) 320p.
5. The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch) 206p.
6. Guns, Germs, and Steel (Jared Diamond) 464 p.
7. Beowulf (Author unknown) 105p.
8. Travels Through America (Jonathan Carver) 228p.
9. Utopia (Sir Thomas More) 150p.
10. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) 167p.
11. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) 229p.
12. Che: A Revolutionary Life (Jon Lee Anderson) 768p.
13. Hegemony or Survival (Noam Chomsky) 255p.
14. Hugo! The Hugo Chavez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution (Bart Jones) 487p.
15. Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor (Paul Farmer) 256p.
16. The Bolivian Diary (Ernesto “Che” Guevara) 276p.
17. Profit Over People (Noam Chomsky) 166p.
Which book of 2008 was my favorite? While they all had their varying degrees of merit, the best when considered in terms of totality was unquestionably Pathologies of Power. If there was ever a book that bring about a true conscious-raising as to the structural violence that constitutes the underlying causes of poverty and illness, of which we’re all culpable, this is it. The book will make you angry; the book will enlighten you; the book presents a masterful, broadly applicable theoretical framework into which many of the world’s injustices can be logically subsumed. I do not recall ever marking up a book as much as I did this one with notes scribbled in the margins, key phrases underlined, and important pages dog-eared. What’s more, the bibliography is among the best I’ve ever encountered and serves as a great resource for further inquiry into structural violence, the savaging effects of neoliberal economic policies on the developing world, economic and social rights, and, of all things, liberation theology. Much ink and many pages of the personal journal have since been devoted to the oft quoted phrase “preferential option for the poor.”
My favorite author of 2009? Chomsky. If you have never read Chomsky, I strongly suggest you do. He’s a powerful and insightful writer and even if you don’t necessarily agree with him, his arguments will make you think. Hegemony or Survival was the better of the two Chomsky books read this year, much of which dovetails nicely with the arguments put forth by Farmer in Pathologies of Power regarding economic and social violence, though Farmer takes it a step further in his application to sickness and health. I foresee reading much more of Chomsky this year.
On to 2009. The goal will be a minimum of 30 books. I've already knocked out two: Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck and Chomsky's Failed States and am well into my third: Beatriz Manz's Paradise in Ashes: A Guatemalan Journey of Courage, Hope, and Terror.