Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Morning

I tumbled out of bed just before 5am this morning (this is early even by my normally early standards) and already am well into my thid cup of coffee. The sun has yet to rise on this wet and windy morning. There is much rain in the forecast with a possibility of it changing over to snow (yeah right!) by the time the storm system leaves us late Sunday or Monday.

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

Lessons for a Leo

Tensions are running high right now, and you're going to have to put extra effort into not flying off the handle when someone says something that sounds rude to you. Give people the benefit of the doubt, especially the newer people in your world. They might not know the rules, and it's really not up to you to teach them to them. This person will learn the lessons they need to learn eventually, and it's best for you to walk away from any dramas that they create. You don't need it.

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.....

Sunday, February 22, 2009


As predicted earlier, the menu for tonight did undergo a change, though not all that dramatic of one. Instead of southwest, the menu headed south with the result being fried chicken pasta. I cheated a bit since I bought pre-made fried chicken from the grocery which is just as well since theirs is far better than what I could do. Come to think of it, I've never actually made fried chicken here at home. But at any rate, regardless of the origin of the friend chicken, the pasta dish turned out exceptionally well. It's a little involed in terms of steps (though they are easy), but it's well worth the effort. I didn't use a recipe, so I will try to recreate it here for future use.

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
lima beans
1 diced red bell pepper
2 Thai chilis
Thyme (to taste)
Majoram (to taste)
Salt y pepper (to taste)
Parsley (diced, to taste)
Kale, chopped
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.
11. Enjoy!

Sunday Afternoon Randomness

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

Test image

Test of mobile pic blogging :)

Out of Sorts

It's going to take a lot of coffee to get me going this morning due to being awakened just before 4am by the Harpy dowstairs engaged in a riotous argument with what I presume to be its boyfriend (must consult the guides to ancient literature to discover what male Harpies, if such exist, are called; if such are a new discovery I'll write an appropriate new species description). The affair ranged up and down the apartment- from the bedroom to the front of the apt and back again to the bedroom and included much yelling and screaming, slamming of doors, and throwing of things. Such affronts to ones sleep are generally rare due to the nature of this building. It's old and solid and, thankfully, one can't hear much of what going on either below or across the hall. This speaks much as to the intensity of last night's argument. It ultimately came to the point that I had to bang on the floor with a broom handle which had some effect, though by that point my sleep was so broken it took almost another an hour to drift back off. So at any rate, it's extra coffee this morning to get me going. Of course I'll be firing off an email of complaint to the management company, but this will be done in due time. The initial instinct was to hammer out said email last night, but it most likely would have been less than civil.

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

Blackberry Review

I've had the Blackberry Curve for almost six days now and if I had to choose one word to sum up the experience thus far it would be: Impressive.

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.


Mobile blogging test

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tonight's cooking project was chicken tortilla soup, a very easy but incredibly flavorful recipe. The most involved part of the dish was making the chicken stock from scratch. Presumably one could just use canned chicken broth, but I'm inclined to make my own when and if time allows. I prefer this (even though it requires a lot of time) as the end product is generally more flavorful than the canned stuff (with the addition of cilantro) and probably contains much less sodium. As I have no life, there is sufficient time to make the dish totally from scratch.

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
  • tortillas

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.

Enjoy. :)

Technological Tether

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


The Thai-style roast pork with rice. Mixed in with the pork are mint, cilantro, shallots, ground roasted rice, fish sauce, lime juice, and diced Thai chilis, all to taste. The two ingredients that seem to require equal measures are the fish sauce and lime juice (in this case, a tablespoon of each). The key to this recipe is to simmer the pork a couple of hours (along with diced garlic, ginger, and cilantro) to ensure tenderness then immediately remove from the broth, cube, and then throw under the broiler to roast a few moments. That way it's crispy on the outside and still very tender inside. The broth I used to cook the rice.

Sunday Evening Prattle

Almost 70 degrees here today and sunny. Taking full advantage of the spring-like weather, I more or less stayed indoors engaged in the usual pursuits of reading and scribbling in the journal. The planned walk over to Starbucks for a coffee and a bit of reading was shelved when I saw the crowds outside; from what I could tell not a seat remained inside or out and, as I wasn't really up to dealing with people today, I chose instead to make a pot here at home. At present some pork, ginger, and cilantro are simmering away for use a bit later tonight. The broth I will use to make rice and the pork will be pan-roasted and topped with a mixture of lime juice, fish sauce, mint, shallots, cilantro, diced Thai chilis, and ground roasted rice.

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.

Desert Fever

I have been battling as of late a rather mild case of travel fever which has begun to morph into what seems to be a pronounced case of desert fever. The best cure for this malady is a trip to Arizona; otherwise, one spends far too much time sighing and staring mournfully out windows while hoping the condition passes on its own.

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

Icy Doom

The consideration of an evening walk to the grocery for a few things was summarily dismissed when I remember the forecast of probable snow for later tonight and tomorrow. The mere mention of this word, even in passing, by local weatherpeope is usually sufficient reason for the masses to flock to the grocery stores in order to stock up on enough provisions to stave off starvation for weeks, if not longer, in the event they are stranded at home by the one to two inches of snow we might receive. Not wishing to take part in the madness and, not really needing anything in particular, I postponed the walk until a more suitable time, such as the End of Days.

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

Lazy Sunday

The events of the day transpired more or less according to plan and amounted to very little other than some cleaning, scribbling in the journal, and ample time curled up with a book. I also took advantage of the sun and 60 degree temperatures by taking a long and rambling afternoon walk around the neighborhood before parking myself over at Starbucks for a couple hours of reading and being jostled by by the coming and going of patrons, many with small annoyances (aka: children) in tow. But at least the weather was warm and most ended up sitting on the patio outside, parents distracted by their lattes and conversation whilst their offspring dug around in the flowerbeds for cigarette butts and broken glass.