Friday, February 29, 2008

why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?


Ok, so this was one of the potential interview questions one of my students drew out of the hat today in class. My class isn't all reports and memos, people!

We have fun. Well, at least I have fun...


Sunday, February 24, 2008

food blogging: hearty vegetarian barley and lentil soup

vegetarian barley and lentil soupIt's been a long time since I did some proper food blogging. In fact, I think it's been a long time since I cooked anything particularly decent...part of that whole "holy crap, we're seven weeks into the semester and I have no idea where the time went" thing.

I follow a number of food blogs, and it seems like I bookmark something from at least one of them every day. I was tired of looking at my foody to-do list and decided to do something about it (namely, make one of the recipes I had bookmarked).

This particular photo is of my rendition of the hearty vegetarian barley and lentil soup recipe from Eating Out Loud. Granted, "my rendition" is not all that different from the original—I just messed with the ratios because I like my soups to be more "wet fixins" than "broth with fixins in it."

The original ingredients follow, along with my comments about my woefully unscientific adjustments:
1 tablespoon olive oil [or, a glug or two]
1 1/2 cups chopped onions [I chopped up one big onion]
1 cup chopped peeled carrots [I chopped up half of a small bag of the peeled baby carrots]
1 cup cubed peeled rutabaga [I used two medium rutabagas]
3 large garlic cloves, minced [I dumped in what was left in a jar of minced garlic]
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin [sounds about right]
1 large bay leaf (or 2 small ones) [two small]
10 cups (or more) vegetable broth [I used 10C]
2/3 cup pearl barley [somewhere between 2/3C and 3/4C]
2/3 cup dried lentils [somewhere between 2/3C and 3/4C]
4 cups (packed) coarsely chopped curly-leaf kale [I chopped up the entire big bunch I got at the store. It was pretty hefty.]
salt/pepper to taste [I don't think I used either]

Here's a printer-friendly version of the original recipe. It's quite tasty (and hearty)!

[Much like this trip to the store in September, the checker at the store today was unfamiliar with my friend the rutabaga. Since the checker is also a friend of mine (and it was early in the day), I didn't launch into my "intro to rutabaga" lecture. Sigh. Poor misunderstood Brassica napobrassica.]


Thursday, February 21, 2008

blogging from the wee computer

I haven't had much time (actually, none at all) to work with my Asus Eee PC 4G since it arrived. In that time, however, two profs and my best pal all bought one (the latter for her ma-in-law, but she was going to keep it for herself if it "didn't work out"...) and have used theirs more than I have mine.

A lot of the hacking I want to do involves updating the system, and that requires an internet connection...and that's one of the issues: getting this thing working with the WSU VPN so I can use that connection. Can't use the connection at home because my cable provider works off MAC addresses and I just didn't want to call them and deal with that. So, I had to wait until I had a moment to sneak off to an open WiFi place—in this instance, the coffeeshop downtown. The wireless works like a charm and I've already begun to update packages and configure things the way I like them (hello, KDE desktop!)

Of course, the ultimate reason for having this wee computer is the enhanced productivity. Isn't it ironic, then, that I'm blogging from a coffeeshop? I should be taking notes while sitting in the MASC, or giving a presentation in class. All in due time...


Sunday, February 10, 2008

bookish meme

I think that in the past few months I've been tagged for a gazillion memes and have done exactly none of them. But I'll do this one because Derek tagged me and he's tech editing the latest edition of one of my books and thus I am somehow obligated to him. Ok, I'm not, actually, but I couldn't think of a better reason right now.

So! This is the "page 123" meme, in which you select the nearest book that contains more than 123 pages, then jump over the first five sentences, and then post the next three [Or, if you are like me and forgot the instructions just after typing them, you'll post the next five. I'm leaving it like this.]. Here are mine:
"Well, your husband is going out, and that will give us a chance to get things righted," said Thérèse encouragingly. "You know men are always in the way at such times."

"It's what he ought to done before; and left Suze and Minervy here," she replied with grudging acquiescence.

After repeated visits to the bedroom, under various pretexts, Fanny grew utterly incapable to do more than sit and gaze stupidly at Thérèse, who busied herself in bringing the confusion of the sitting-room into some order.

She continued to talk disjointedly at Belle Worthington and her well known tyrranical characteristics in regard to cleanliness; finishing by weeping mildly at the prospect of her own inability to ever reach the high standard required by her exacting friend.
This is from Kate Chopin's first novel, At Fault, which we will be discussing this week in my Transatlantic Naturalisms seminar. This is my favorite seminar of the semester, and my second-favorite of the seven seminars at WSU that I have under my belt (partially or entirely).

I'm supposed to tag people, but I can't remember who has or has not done this one, so...consider yourself tagged if you want to be.

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time-of-day quiz

"You're the time of day right around sunrise, when the sky is still a pale bluish gray. The streets are empty, and the grass and leaves are a little bit sparkly with dew. You are the sound of a few chirpy birds outside the window. You are quiet, peaceful, and contemplative. If you move slowly, it's not because you're lazy – it's because you know there's no reason to rush. You move like a relaxed cat, pausing for deep stretches that make your muscles feel alive. You are long sips of tea or coffee (out of a mug that's held with both hands) that slowly warm your insides just as the sun is brightening the sky."

Hmm. True-ish. But the quiz miscalculated by one hour on the weekends and 2.5 hours on weekdays.

But still close! What about you?


Saturday, February 9, 2008

one year later...

It was a year ago, give or take a day, that I got my first offer from a PhD program—from my #2 choice. Some of you may remember that I was initially excited about it, stayed excited, worried that I was too excited about it just because they were the first ones to say they wanted me, stressed about it when #1 school also wanted me, and ultimately decided to go #2 school in the end.

Truly, there are no words that can express just how right that decision matter the whole having-to-keep-my-California-job and real estate market crap. This place, the school formerly known as "#2 choice," is awesome. Snow, ice, tiny town and all.

Right now, some of our MA students are taking their exams, preparing to graduate, and waiting for those phone calls and thick envelopes from PhD programs. A few have had rejections and been ok with it because they were on the fence about the next step anyway. A few have been accepted places that were maybe not their first choice, but boy is it good to know that someone, somewhere wants you.

And then there's one particular friend of mine who applied to exactly one PhD program, confident that it was a 100% match all around. Given that SU's CCR program isn't exactly Jimmy Joe Jack's House of English Studyin', well, that girl's got some chutzpah. And she was right—she's now in that "we're going to invite you to campus and make sure you're not a lunatic, a jackass, or exceptionally dumb before we offer you anything for real" stage of the process. I could not not be happier for her!

So there's a lot of angst around here, but also a lot of glee. As for me, one year later, you can put me in the "glee" camp.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

a thing, accompanied by a smaller version of that thing, is always cute

isn't there a Cute Overload rule about this?
The title of this post is Rule of Cuteness #7 at Cute Overload.

In THIS instance, the two cute things are not kittens, puppies, or koalas. But I think the rule still holds, especially if you're a geek like me (or my TESOL prof, who might tackle me and take the little one from me when I see her in the hall today).

Behold, my brand new Asus Eee PC 4G sitting on the keyboard of my Gateway NX860S notebook.

I need to spend a little time hacking the Eee PC—not because it's crappy (it's not. In fact, the out-of-the-box configuration is really good) but because I'm a little, um, "specific" in how I like things set up.

For a little more perspective, the little guy is approximately 2 Gateway NX860S AC adapters by 1.5 Gateway NX860S AC adapters in size. That's wee.

[And yes, you CAN talk about the juxtaposition of two—count 'em, two—portable computers with an image of Yosemite in the background. But I prefer not to, at the moment.]

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Monday, February 4, 2008

random bullets of snow and condo

* I paid some fellow a bunch of cash to shovel out my driveway. I felt good about supporting the local economy. I also was thrilled not to have to do it myself. I have a very short attention span when it comes to manual labor. Remember, if you will, that it took years for me to finish painting my condo (and by "finish" I mean that my friend Mary came over and finished it). I can claim that I have a hard time gripping anything, which makes painting and shoveling hurt like hell and my hands cramp up after a few minutes—and that would be absolutely true—but mostly I just get bored. I'm good at writing checks, though.

* Since the 12"+ inches of snow was removed from around my car, I went to the grocery store to stock up on things like kitty litter, kitty food, water, etc. In other words, all stuff that's too damn heavy for one person to carry should that person have decided to walk to the grocery store that's nearby. If I just needed, say, toilet paper and pasta, I would have walked to the store (really!). But I needed more than that.

* When I tried to get back in my driveway, I realized the lovely fellow had shoveled in right angles, which meant that I couldn't turn up into my driveway without hitting snow bank (I tried). So I parked on the street, poorly, like everyone else (there are drifts). At some point this weekend, if snow doesn't melt (it's supposed to be 40 and rain some, which will help), I'll shovel out a corner and see if I can't get up the driveway. But my car is fine where it is.

* Wasn't that exciting news?

* I took my condo off the market. There's some real news.

* Starting in March, it will be rented to a fine upstanding citizen and my realtor is also playing property manager.

* While the rent is only 40% of what I have to pay in mortgage, HOA, and taxes each month, 40% is more than 0%. I'm ok with this.

* I will rent it for at least two years. That will give the market time to stop sucking, and I'll re-evaluate selling it at that point.

* So, I now know exactly how to budget for the next two years—keep working at my job, work more if possible, can't pay anything off but won't go into bankruptcy or anything like that. It's not the optimal situation, but at least it's still on the path of Making a Life Change.

* Could be worse. Could be better, but could be worse. So there's that.