Monday, December 27, 2004

The Days Before Christmas

On the Tuesday before Christmas, I went to the Capital City Chop House after work, to eat dinner with JJ, JA and JB. I had been there almost five years ago, about a week or two after I started working at IBM. It's extremely close to the airport. In fact, it's the only thing between the exit off of I-40 and the airport itself. I missed the turn and had to loop around through the terminals. Dinner was very good, but it was very rich. The entree came with soup or a salad and I chose the she-crab soup. I'm afraid I didn't eat much at all, because it was so creamy. I have a low saturation point for thick creamy soups. It was also an entire vat of it. The salads that EB and JA ordered were gigantic, too. This was followed by crab cakes with a honey mustard nut sauce, which were quite good. The leftovers are still in my refrigerator. I need to do something about that. For dessert I had a single scoop of raspberry sorbet with chocolate sauce drizzled on top. I also observed that they served very good bread, too.

Wednesday, around lunch time, I went over to JJ and JA's and we went to Mad Hatter's Cafe and Bake Shop on Broad Street, in Durham. We all got salad trios, which are cool, because you can substitute soup for one of the salads. I chose three of their salads. The chicken salad was ok, but not the best I've ever had. The caesar was great. The best one was the grilled pineapple and apple salad, which had the fruit over greens and had a nice dressing on it. After lunch, we went back to their house and JJ showed me the awesome toy box that he built for his nephew.

A couple of the mornings before Christmas, I got a chance to talk to HCI on the radio as he was commuting to work. This was a nice treat, because usually I'm on my way there, too and I can't really talk on the radio while I'm driving.

I spent a lot of time looking on the web for ornaments made out of straw. My grandmother made the straw chains that we hang on our tree, but those are easy to break, especially when they tangle themselves while they are put away in boxes. I needed to repair them, but I wondered if anyone had any instructions or if anyone sold the straw chains. In fact, I couldn't find anything about straw chains at all. I did see a lot of sites for the straw stars, which we also have on our tree. I actually found a lot more sites when I started searching in German. For example, structuring produced a lot more hits for me.

I soaked the straw in very hot water and eventually I got the hang of tying the knots to form the chains. I repaired all of our chains such that we have many long strands now.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas!

A year ago today, I started this blog. I had no idea whether I would keep up with it or what overall shape it would take. I didn't know what adventures there would be to describe in the coming year. This year has, indeed, been quite amazing for me with all the changes in my every day life. I hope that this year of blogging will bring as cheerful a collection of posts as the last. ...and just where would this blog be without you, my three or four faithful readers? Um...

Merry Christmas everyone!

...and now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Breakfast in Hillsborough

Saturday morning, I went to the Orange County Radio Amateurs weekly breakfast at BoJangles. I used to go regularly, several years ago, but I got out of the habit due to sleeping late on the weekends. Actually, it used to be held at Kelsey's Cafe, in downtown Hillsborough. It was fun seeing so many people I hadn't seen since....the previous Monday at the Christmas meeting. I checked into the Orange County ARES net and enjoyed listening and participating in interesting conversations while eating an egg and cheese biscuit. My attending the breakfast was, of course, due to the benefits of my clock radio.

On Monday, it was extremely cold, with a low of 9F, and very windy. I decided to work from home. In fact, I opened the doors to the deck only very briefly, in order to throw some birdseed out onto the deck. I also brought my old alarm clock, with its thermometer, to investigate how cold the great room was getting to see how much the fireplace was helping. When it was a warm and cozy 71F in my bedroom, which is closer to the gas pack, it got down to 64F in my great room. Within an hour or so of turning on my gas fireplace, it was up to 71F in there. I am immensely pleased. I had hoped the fireplace was making a difference, but I could have been wrong. It's nice to know that it's actually doing quite a lot of good. Three cheers for HeatNGlo!

Merry Chri$tma$ to Me

Thursday, I really blew it as far managing my schedule. I might want to consider looking at my calendar occasionally. I scheduled an appointment to have my dad take my van to be worked on in Kernersville, which is near Greensboro, perhaps an hour away from Hillsborough. The lift, power seat and hand controls needed maintenance, such as lubrication, which needs to be done every six months or so. Well, Thursday was the day that I needed to drive to Parizade, in Durham, for our work Christmas party. I was really annoyed with myself, because that meant that my mom had to give me a ride from work to the restaurant. It, however, turned out to be a good thing.

My dad hadn't even gotten out of Kernersville before the power steering died on my van. It has an electrical backup power steering system, so he was able to make it back to Triad Mobility Center, where the maintenance work was done. It's very good to know that the backup system cut in automatically, but I'm still glad that my dad was driving, to test it out. So, major brake repairs and replacement of the power steering are my Christmas present to myself this year.

Thursday night, I also checked into the Durham FM Association Thursday night net on my ham radio. This net was resurrected rather recently after a year of abandoning it. For those of you who are not hams, most amateur radio nets have a person who is net control and then other hams call that station. Net control makes a list and then calls each ham back individually to give them a turn at saying something. It can be a fun way to communicate. I used to check into these things quite frequently, several years ago. I enjoyed being net control occasionally, too.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Christmas Ham Dinners

Last Monday, (a week ago!), I went to the Orange County Radio Amateurs (OCRA) annual Christmas dinner. Instead of meeting at the 911 center, the entire meeting is held at the Village Diner, in Hillsborough. As I recall, 29 people showed up, which was a great turnout. I'm not especially fond of the food at the Village Diner, but I ordered a chicken salad sandwich, which was pretty good. I do like their country fried steak on their buffet, but I don't eat beef anymore. Unlike my 6-8 month quasi-vegetarianism, I am pretty religious about avoiding beef. It's not hard.

On Tuesday, I went to the annual Durham FM Association (DFMA) Christmas meeting. That's held at Fudrucker's, in Durham. The three main traditions of that are the collection money for the Durham Rescue Mission, collection of gifts to be donated to Social Services for kids and random trading of gifts among the members of the club. When I first joined the club, back in 1997, gag gifts were encouraged for the member exchange, but that has been largely abandoned. Lots of people got peanuts and candy, which was nice. The ARRL section manager attended the meeting and gave an impromptu talk that lasted at least a half an hour. It was actually fairly interesting, but most people seem to want to get out of the Christmas meeting fairly quickly. The turnout was quite low, so there was a lot of discussion on how to increase club participation, including the use of the repeaters. I think a different meeting place might help, although I certainly enjoyed the vanilla milkshake and French fries that I ate for dinner. Yes, I did have a nutritious lunch that day.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Food and Tea

Sunday morning, my dad and I made crepe style pancakes again. It's still tricky adjusting the heat on the cooktop. We had the heat on the frying pan way too hot at the beginning and then it takes a while to cool it down. I keep hearing legends about the magic of electric frying pans.

We took my brother to ACME Food & Beverage Company again for dinner. This time I had a pork empanada with spicy guacamole and sour cream. It was quite good, but spicy is an understatement. The empanada contained lots of black beans, which were also really good. For dessert, I had a decaf cappuchino. That's right, I didn't order anything other than a beverage. I really didn't feel like having anything more than that. It's shocking, but the cappuchino was excellent.

My brother flew home to Boston this morning. It was great that he finally got to see my house and we, of course, got to see him. Maybe someday he'll have enough vacation and we'll have enough activities planned such that he can stay a little longer.

I made some tea, this morning, with the Assam tea and a new yellow teapot that my brother gave me for birthday/Christmas. The pot, which came from the Upton Tea Company, has a cylindrical filter, which holds loose tea leaves and sits in the pot opening. My brother is pretty serious about his tea and I suspect he would have even used a tea cozy, had I had one. Fortunately, a kitchen towel sufficed. Note that my new teapot matches my bright yellow tea/coffee cup beautifully.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Food and Animal Watching

My brother, Karl, arrived Friday night. I showed off the house, since he hadn't seen it since its early stages last Christmas. Afterwards, we had some of my lemon meringue pie.

Saturday morning, I saw a pileated woodpecker in the oaks outside my great room windows. I was able to grab my binoculars and get a really good look. That was extremely exciting, because they aren't very common. Actually, it's not that unusual to hear them around here, but I have rarely actually seen them.
Incidently, I haven't seen the red headed woodpecker recently.

A little after noon, we drove over to A&M Grill, in Mebane. They have very good barbecue. It has a strong vinegar flavor, and, interestingly enough, a reddish sauce. I'm pretty picky about my barbecue, because I don't necessarily like what is thought to be truly good North Carolina barbecue. I've always liked Bullock's, but their food isn't quite as good as it used to be, but a good barbecue sandwich must have coleslaw on it and they have simply the best.

Afterwards, we drove by to see the buffalo in rural Orange County. My mom saw them just the other day and she's been eager to show us where they live ever since. We drove up and took pictures of the two of them, who didn't seem eager to get up and greet us, although we could consider ourselves glared at. This is probably a good thing, given their size. They look cute and cuddly, but I believe looks are quite deceiving, in this case.

Our neighbor, Mr D, gave us a whole bunch of catfish, which he caught on Lake Gaston. My mom fried them up at my house and I demonstrated my comparatively new talent of microwaving frozen corn and peas.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


I really need to write more often, because I usually have way too much to say if I wait too long.

Last Tuesday, December 7th, was my birthday. My office door was adorned with a "Happy Birthday" streamer. It didn't go up that high where it crossed the opening, so I suspected that the culprit was fairly short. Given that the majority of my friends at work are 5'1" or under, this didn't narrow it down too much.
It turned out that CL did it, but GA assisted with the tape. I generally think of everyone as being tall, so it was cool comparing people's heights while they were standing in my doorway.

GA had told me the previous day that she, CL, SY, EB and possibly some other people would take me out to lunch. We finally decided on Champa, since that's so convenient and very good. I had my usual Thai Iced Tea and shrimp Pad Thai. GA and SY left early and CL rode with me. I was suspcious at their leaving early, but I couldn't get any info out of her. I turned out that GA and SY had gotten a fourteen piece cheesecake sampler at BJ's. We had that afterwards, so I was completely stuffed during the afternoon. GA got me a whole bunch of assorted Marvin the Martian things and a stuffed penguin wearing a toboggan and scarf. TH got me a set of vinyl juggling balls.

On the way home from work that night, my car started running very roughly. My parents and I drove to ACME Foode and Beverage Company, where I had rainbow trout with capers, bacon and caramelized onions over roasted potatoes. For dessert we shared Jamaican style gingerbread with housemade vanilla icecream, drizzled with cranberry compote and surrounded by a moat of caramel sauce. The gingerbread was very dense. The consistency was somewhere between a brownie and a piece of toffee, but it was nice and spicy.

When we arrived at ACME, I noticed a strange smell, but decided that perhaps it was related to the restaurant. When we got back to my house, the smell was very strong and decidedly bad. We decided that it would be better to back the van out onto the concrete bad to keep the smell from getting any worse inside the house and to potentially keep the house from burning down if there were something seriously wrong. My mom drove me to work for the next couple of days and my dad was able to take it to Braxton Tire on Thursday morning.

It turns out that the problem with my van was actually the brakes. I'd noticed a problem with its pulling to the left for a long time, but they had never been able to find anything wrong. I had just gotten used to it. Well, it turns out that the caliper on the front right side needed replacing, as well as the hoses. They said that one of the pistons in the caliper was frozen. With an oil change, it all cost me $500. Nice. At least it's all fixed now and it's running beautifully. I guess I know what failing brakes smell like now, too.

The best thing that happened this week is probably that my new washing machine got delivered! Exactly two months after my four month old washing machine failed, Lowe's delivered a new one. It is shocking to me that it took this long. Frigidaire's customer service is just awful. I had to talk to four different people before I found someone who was serious about helping me. Even then, I had to call Lowe's several more times to make sure they got the authorization and followed through.

On Friday I made another lemon meringue pie for my brother's impending visit. It turned out well. I was extremely worried about it, because I almost dropped the thing in my lap when I was baking the crust and a piece broke off the edge. It also cracked quite a bit and I thought the filling would seep under it and make everything soggy. It actually turned out great. There still wasn't as much meringue as I would like, even though I used the standard hand mixer beaters this time.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

We will fight for bovine freedom...

Here are two links that I recommend:

The first is an animated music video about our bovine friends. It's very catchy.

The second is a website that lists the companies that make less than 55% of their donations to the Republicans. It's actually quite surprising which of the companies strongly support the Democrats, but it's nice to see.

It's been a busy week. Here are some of the highlights:

Wednesday night, I went my dad and I met at Chai's. I really enjoyed my meal this time. I order a Japanese Teriyaki rice bowl, with shrimp. It was exactly what I was hoping for. They were out of Gyoza dumplings, so we got some Fresh Basil Rolls, which were quite good. After dinner, we went to go hear AE play the French horn in a Duke Symphony Orchestra performance. I also saw GM there and got to chat with both of them a bit.

Thursday night, I went to my parents' house and my mom made a shrimp and bacon pizza. It was nice to visit with FIFO.

Friday night, I went to the Duke Computer Science Department holiday party. It was relatively fun and they had a really good salad with marshmallows, maraschino cherries, oranges, coconut and toasted pecans all in a creamy white sauce.

As I was driving home from the party, I witnessed a pedestrian's being hit by the glancing blow of a car. It was at the intersection of LaSalle and Erwin. I had a clear view and I was the only one who stopped, so, this afternoon I had to write an account of everything I saw. They pedestrian wasn't seriously hurt, but it could have been so much worse.

Saturday night, I met GM and AE at Southpoint. We had a very difficult time finding a place to eat on such a busy shopping day. After peeking in several restaurants, we finally ended up at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe, which was fairly empty. It wasn't too bad. I had a barbecued chicken pineapple wrap, which was pretty good. I also had a "Blimey Limey" smoothie, which was strawberry, orange, lime and pineapple. It strongly reminded me of chewable vitamin pills that I used to have, which was not a favorable association. It would have probably tasted really good to anyone else. Afterwards we went to Nordstrom's and while AE shopped for makeup, GM and I wandered around while thinking that there wasn't anything the store that was suitable for purchasing as a Christmas gift. Finally, after searching fruitlessly for a puzzle store, we found the store, Origins, which had some decent smelling lotions. Actually, the one I really liked was "White Tea", but I wasn't about to spend that much on lotion for myself. Finally, we rushed off to the theatre to see "The Incredibles", which was a cute animated Pixar film. I enjoyed it, but I've enjoyed ever other Pixar film that I've seen.

I made biscuits this morning. I love making biscuits, because it's just so easy and they taste so good, especially with ginger preserves.

Last Christmas, everyone in my organization at work was given a gift certificate to either Maggiano's, the Angus Barn or 42nd Street Oyster Bar. I picked Maggiano's, because it was the closest to where I live. Well, almost a year has passed and I finally used it today. I had actually decided to use it at Big Bowl instead, but the Durham location recently closed and I didn't feel like driving to Virginia. Maggiano's has a reputation for long wait times and being expensive. I don't think it's actually that bad, expense wise, if you order sensibly. The portions are huge and the food is quite good. We four cheese ravioli and garlic shrimp with shells. I'd had the ravioli several months ago, so I knew I liked it. We also got parmesan garlic bread and Shrimp Oreganata, which was probably overpriced, but quite good. For dessert, we had spumoni ice cream, which was a nice end to the meal.

We will run free with the buffalo...

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Shadow 1989-2004

This picture of Shadow was taken on Christmas Day, 2001. Posted by Hello

The past day or so has been a sad time for me. My cat, Shadow, was put to sleep yesterday. He had lymphoma for several years, but it has been well under control, due to medication. He even went to the vet two weeks ago and the vet didn't find anything. Since that visit, a mass developed in his abdomen. The vet didn't think that he would have survived surgery. I know I should be happy that he lived as long as he did with the lymphoma, but it's still very difficult.

Shadow had an unusual personality, in part because he had many characteristics that were similar to a dog's.
Before he became deaf, he would come when he was called. He would walk alongside you. He would usually greet me as I pulled my van into the driveway. He even drooled. Perhaps it was because he grew up with my previous dog, Merlin.

In his youth, he also exhibited somewhat psychotic behavior. He would be very loving one minute and viciously attack the next. When he was quite young, I remember his dangling from my arm and my dad had to remove him. Fortunately, I often wore long velour sleeves during the winter in those days. He actually stopped attacking me when he was quite young, but he still considered my mom to be fair game and would occasionally do things like sink his teeth into one of her ankles as she was walking by.

The nicest thing about Shadow was that he really liked me, perhaps more than any other pet that I've owned. When I lived in Durham, we once had a huge thunderstorm and as I left the house in that afternoon, he crawled out from underneath one of our cars and crawled into my lap. He was just the teeniest kitten, much too young to be outside without his mother. When I came back later, he did the same thing. When I went in the house, he sounded as if he were a human frantically wailing to get in. It was almost a scream. Of course, despite already having three other cats and a dog, I was reduced to tears. I had to keep him! We were moving to Hillsborough, so my mom and I took him to the house, because we weren't sure how well such a tiny kitten would be able to fend off the other cats. We put up Lost Kitten signs and no sooner did we get to Hillsborough (which seemed much farther from Durham at the point), one our neighbors called to say "she" was hers. We drove back and talked to her. She was an elderly lady whose children insisted she take one of the kittens from their litter. Instead of keeping him inside until he was old enough, she just let him outside immediately.
Fortunately, she saw how much Shadow, who was plastered to my lap, liked me and suggested that I keep him. I was overjoyed.

Right now, I'm watching Duke basketball on tv and I'm reminded how Shadow used to sit in top of our television and bat at Bobby Hurley with his paws. I will miss him a great deal.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Carolina Designer Craftsmen and Turkey Spaghetti

Yesterday, I went to the Carolina Designer Craftsmen show, at the fairgrounds in Raleigh. It's held every Thanksgiving weekend and I've gone every year for at least ten years, with the exception of one year when I had the flu. The craftspeople that exibit there have exceptional work. I did a lot of Christmas shopping for myself and others. I've run out of things I absolutely need for the house, so I decided to ask my parents for things I wanted from CDC for my birthday and Christmas.

I knew I wanted a piece by Lawrence Favorite, who works with ironwood and inlays it with turquoise. It's a striking combination. I also always get earrings made by Janet Harriman and Nell Chandler. All of those artists are such nice people and I enjoy talking to them every year. I also picked out raku vases from people I'd never bought from before, Phil Chapman and Andy Smith. I picked out a wood turned vase made out of spalted pecan, by Darrell Rhudy. The Smith vase is gray with a lemon yellow striped pattern. Chapman, who was new to the show, sold me a vase that was crackled with a gradation of gray and beige.

I did fairly random stuff today, but I did make spaghetti with leftover turkey, for dinner. I added three small tomatoes, turkey cut up in small pieces, diced leftover garlicky French beans, basil, black pepper and just a little orange peel. I should have either served the meat and vegetables separately and not tossed it with the pasta or made a smaller amount of pasta. It didn't seem like enough stuff to go with a pound of pasta. I could have made more turkey and veggies, of course.

Friday, November 26, 2004


Well, yesterday was Thanksgiving. JJ and JA came over, which was quite a treat. I made a lemon meringue pie, rolls, and cranberry sauce. Wednesday night, I made our traditional lime jello with crushed pineapple, cream cheese and pecans. My mom made the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and garlicky green beans. JA brought Thai pumpkin soup and candied yams. It was way too much food, which is ideal on Thanksgiving.

The pie turned out great, considering it was my first pie. The rolls were also much better, or at least more normal this time. After making so much pizza dough, I've learned that I may need to add extra flour to get it to the right consistency. More importantly, I've learned what the right consistency is. I also liked making the jello, since it was pretty easy. The cranberry sauce was pretty easy, too, actually. The pie was a little more challenging, particularly the pie filling.

One of the problems that I've had with making dough, including cookie dough, is that thick dough in my Kitchenaid mixer causes the bowl to rotate on its screw on base. It's to such a degree that I find it impossible to get it off. Even my dad had difficulties yesterday. I've googled and haven't been able to find a solution to this problem, but I'm considering adding some sort of lubrication to see if that helps.

It really was fun having JJ and JA over. It's always much nicer to have guests on Thanksgiving, so it seems more like a holiday. I love JA's soup, too. I don't generally like orange vegetables in dishes, but his pumpkin soup is a wonderful exception. I, for example, am not willing to eat yams, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, cooked carrots or butternut squash (with the exception of butternut squash ravioli). It's no wonder my night vision is lousy. Raw carrots are fine, as are carrot cake and pumpkin bread.

The weather was interesting yesterday, too. Early in the morning, we had a storm that just sort of flew through. One minute there were partly cloudy skies and the next, it was black overhead. It was gone quickly as it came. The rest of the day was extremely windy with deep blue skies and puffy white clouds as the temperature dropped precipitously.

Today, as soon as I got dressed, I immediately started washing dishes. In just a few hours, I had most of them tackled. By then I was pretty exhausted.

Tonight, my parents and I went to Taverna Nikos for dinner. I had shrimp with spinach fettucine and spinach leaves in a lovely cream sauce. The shrimp were just perfect. For dessert, I had a bowl of rice pudding. D was our waiter and he commisterated with us on the election results.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I finally have a clock radio!

Yesterday, my mom went to CostCo and picked up the Sony ICF-CF863V. The anxious decision making is over. The good thing is that it sounds great! I'm extremely pleased with it. It worked, too. I got up at 6:30 am, which used to be my usual time when I lived with my parents. It was easy with the radio blaring in the bathroom. Unlike turning off my old alarm clock, it's a little difficult to go to another room and turn it off without waking up. I got to work an hour earlier (which makes sense, given that I've been getting up around 7:30). I felt better, too, because I didn't doze off a few times due to snoozes or resetting my alarm.

Still no word on the replacement of my Frigidaire washing machine, which has been deceased about about 6 weeks now...

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Juggling Evening and the Benson Hamfest

Had I written a few days ago, I would have complained about my coffee pot user error, whined about nicking the wall in my bedroom wtih a wicker stool and described observing an unoccupied car burning along the side of the Durham Freeway. Those calamities are so last week.

Instead I will tell you about my weekend. Last night, GM, AE and JH came over. First we had lots of fun practicing juggling. I even think there is hope for me. It just might be possible for me to learn to juggle. I might want to consider practicing more than twice a month, though. It really is a lot of fun, even if you're not very good experienced. We ate two pizzas from the new Papa John's in Hillsborough. I called for delivery and they actually found my house, which is pretty amazing. Afterwards, we ate macaroons that I baked yesterday afternoon. Finally, we watched two episodes of Keeping Up Appearances and two Alfred Hitchcock shorts 0n AE's DVDs. The coolest thing is that I found out that JH, too, is a ham radio operator! That's two hams that I've become friends with before finding out they were hams.

The other such ham, HC, had been encouraging me to go to the Benson Hamfest, a.k.a. JARSFest. So, I got up at 5am this morning in order to be in Benson a little after 8am. Note that Benson is at the intersection of I-40 and I-95, way south of Raleigh, in Johnston County. Fortunately I did get a chance to talk to HC a while at the hamfest and wander around. It's pretty crowded in their indoor area, but the tailgating outside was fantastic in today's beautiful weather. I got to chat with several hams that I hadn't seen in a while. The sad news was that Communications Headquarters, a Wilmington, NC based ham radio equipment retail store, is going out of business.

In other news, I still have not picked out a clock radio. I am debating between the Sony ICF-CD843V and the Sony ICF-CD863V.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Tilapia Radio

This weekend, I've been looking on-line for a clock radio. I had no idea how difficult this would be. All I really want is a good sounding stereo AM/FM receiver with dual alarms and a battery backup. I would also prefer that it last several years. This is not something that is easy to find. I guess I'm also hoping that it not cost a fortune. Generally it seems that if you want decent basic features, then you also have to get it with a CD player. It's like shopping for a nightlight and ending up with a refrigerator. I'm just going to have to sleep on this and hope that I'm motivated enough to wake up and buy it another day. The idea is that I want to put this in the bathroom so I have to actually get up in order to turn it off. I also want to be able to enjoy the music while I'm getting ready in the mornings. Perhaps that will help with the motivation, too.

I unpacked boxes most of the day and then cooked dinner for my dad. My mom wasn't hungry. In case you're wondering, she said that she wasn't hungry before we decided not to go out to eat. I cooked a pot of rice and baked three tilapia filets with basil, lots of minced garlic, celery and tomatoes. I was actually extremely pleased with the way it turned out. The celery and tomatoes seem to have kept the temperature down, so it had to stay in an extra four minutes. Next time I might add more tomatoes.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Treasured Pancakes

I feel like blogging and, therefore, I should probably blog. Then I can clean and unpack boxes. Then I can look over the code that I want to look over sometime this weekend, since I don't think I fully absorbed it yesterday. There.. Now I have my priorities in (reverse) order.

Wrong. It was necessary to feed the birds and squirrels once more before blogging.

There were two major exciting events this week. Last Sunday I made thin pancakes with my dad and on Thursday night I went to see National Treasure.

Before time began (sometime before I was born), my dad came up with a recipe for quasi crepe pancakes. They are plate sized, or more accurately, bottom of the frying pan in diamter and two to three millimeters thick. To give you an idea, they have a dozen eggs in them, per three to four servings or ten pancakes. I'd be happy to e-mail readers the recipes for anything I've mentioned, by the way. In fact, I still need to send the mocha cake recipe to KB. Dad's pancakes are great, because they can be served with syrup or filled with fresh fruit and real whipped cream. They would also be good with anything else inside, such as chicken and gravy or salmon and cream sauce. They are a little tricky to flip without tearing, so I really appreciated my dad's help. I also added the last ten eggs to the batter all at once, when I should have either added them while the mixer was going or at least mixed after the addition of each egg. If I dothat, it should be easier to get out the lumps next time.

JR, at work, gave me four free passes to go to a sneak preview of National Treasure on Wednesday night. Although I'd heard about other friends of mine going to see movies with free passes, I'd never tried it myself, so I was definitely curious. I invited CL, JL and JL's dad to go with me. I rushed over after work to JL's office and CL picked up food from Wendy's and then we ate quickly before heading over the Wynnsong, in Durham.
It was also cool getting to meet JL's father for the first time after hearing so much about him.

There weren't many people in the theatre, except for those who were waiting in line to see National Treasure. Apparently, they always give away more passes than people will fit in the theatre to ensure that it's full.
I'm not entirely sure why they have these sneak previews except for the possibility that they are trying to seed the word-of-mouth advertising or perhaps it's so they can sell concessions on an otherwise off night.
In any case, I really enjoyed the movie. It was produced by the same people that did Pirates of the Caribbean and it definitely had a similar flow in that it was faced paced and fairly funny at times. I often like movies with Nicholas Cage in them, but there are some exceptions. Overall, I do recommend the film and would be happy to see it again. Surprisingly, I think that's true for several of the movies I've seen lately.

Today my mom picked up food from the Q-shack. Every time I hear the name of the place, I think of an altered B-52's song. Unfortunately, they have stopped making my cherished fried pies. They only make cobbler now and, for some reason, my mom decided that I didn't like cobbler. I have no idea why, but it's probably for the best, because I just put a full four cup container of leftovers in the refrigerator. I have this feeling that after half of a loaded baked potato, hush puppies and onion rings, I'm not going to be anywhere close to hungry at dinner time.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

A Rough Week

I've intended to post something all week that would sum up the feeling angst that many of us now feel. I know I am not the only one who had to display heroic levels of self restraint when encountering gleeful Republicans at the office or resist the urge to incite road rage in the drivers of pickups sporting "W" stickers in combination with disrespectful American flag waving during the morning commute. Or perhaps you don't even have a morning commute anymore.

People, such as Michael Moore, have encouraged us to look on the bright side or at least not to slit our wrists. At *least* 55, 949, 407 people voted for Kerry. That's quite a few. Only (at least) 115, 409, 172 people voted all together. That means, using 2000 census figures, (at most) 166, 012, 734 didn't vote. Why? Some of those people think that the fight is fixed, so why bother. Some of those people probably didn't register in time.
Some of those people couldn't get to the polls easily. Did the people who benefit from Meals on Wheels get to vote? Are all the polling places accessible to everyone? If there are people who just don't care, then why? Why are the voting mechanisms different in some states from others? If voters in Oregon get their ballots by mail, then shouldn't we all? Shouldn't black box voting be abandoned? Obviously there are questions still to be answered and more work to be done. If, in the worse case, it is fixed, then something needs to be done about it.

There won't be a major election for a while and people will keep dying in Iraq, the environment will be damaged and kids in our schools will be educated about creationism while we wait for another chance. I realize that the obvious solution is to round up the 59,459,765 Bush voters (Guantanamo style) and hold them in a containment area in close proximity to the US's leaking chemical weapon stockpiles. I'm afraid that it's probably *not* an option.

Many people simply are not aware of what is going in the world around them. In most people's cases, all they have time to do is watch the news. That's what I do. I try to at least make sure I watch every new episode of the Daily Show. Given that news media is influenced by their corporations or they feel threatened enough not to report the news at all, simply watching the news does not provide people with an adequate sense of their surroundings. It is vitally important that you try to educate these people by explaining what you have read in books, foreign newspapers and, yes, on the net. There are so many reputable resources available that you should have no trouble backing up your arguments. I have even run into many progressive friends who don't know about all the activities of the neocons, so it's important to make sure that they are on top of things as well.

What else can you do? Hit them in the only place they care about, their pocketbooks. I know that the five or so people who read my blog regularly will be something like the nibble of a dustmite, but every little bit helps.
Check out, which, somewhat surprisingly, is a British site. There are other good links on there, too. Sometimes choosing products or businesses based on the candidates they support is impractical, but if enough people choose wisely at least part of the time, it will make a difference.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Halloween and Election Eve

Yesterday was Halloween. The excitement began when my dad and I went to the American Tobacco Historic District to hear the Durham Community Concert Band. I went because both GM and AE play in it. Knowing the musicians always makes concerts more fun. For added entertainment, GM dressed up as a werewolf, complete with furry hands and socks. AE had bright green hair! It's funny that I knew the only people dressed up out of 55 people.

Afterwards, I went over to JJ and JA's place to hang out while the Trick'r'Treaters came by steal candy. I've never seen so many in my life. They easily had 500 kids. It obviously helps to live in a closely packed urban neighorhood. It was amazing. Amongst the many spidermen, Tiggers, unidentified costumes and princesses, there were two very cool groups. There were two girls together and one of them was a weapons inspector and the other was a bomb. The inspector was looking around everywhere with a magnifying glass. The bomb said "Vote for Bush!" The inspector said, "No, don't tell them that!" The bomb said, "Oh! That's right! Vote for Kerry, because he's the bomb." We gave them extra candy. There were also 12-15 teenage pirates that had a huge chest and implied that they were going to take all our candy. Instead of taking the offered three pieces for each of them, they said they would take 60 each, but they just took a single handful for the whole group. Their costumes were very well done, too. It was a beautiful night for Halloween and we just sat on their front porch, eating cheese and crackers while the kids grabbed candy. One girl wanted one of our crackers and seemed very excited about getting one.

I made calls for the Kerry PhoneCorps again this evening. I actually signed some people up! It was very exciting, indeed. Unfortunately, it said that the call center was closed at 9pm, when I could have kept calling time zones to the west of here. It's definitely let me call later than that before, so that's really odd.

If you haven't voted already, please vote tomorrow. If you're still undecided, just go to the polling place and think, "What would Lenore do?" Vote accordingly.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

A Few More Calls

I just called eight more people for the Kerry-Edwards campaign. This time I was calling Colorado and Washington State. Several people were already out at campaign events! That's pretty exciting. I left some messages, but everyone I talked to either already signed up or eager to help out in some other way. I would call more people, but I had to charge my cell phone battery again. Anyway, it was very encouraging.

I slept late this morning and then spent the rest of the day doing random house cleaning. The kitchen floor looks pretty good now that the cookie dough and walnuts are gone. I went to Casa Ibarra with my parents and ate Vegetarian #10. As my brother has said, this blog should really be titled "What's For Supper?"

Home is Where you Lose your Hat

Several people have asked me, since I've moved into my house, whether it "feels like home". I've always said I wasn't sure, but my parents' house still felt like home to me. In fact, I may have mentioned that in my blog at some point. I have now determined that it does, indeed, feel like home, because I can now no longer find anything. I have this $25 off rebate for my Kitchen-Aid mixer that's due on Sunday and I can't find the packing slip to send in as the receipt. I could probably use the order confirmation that Amazon sent me via e-mail, but I forgot to print it while I was at work. It's possible that I could get the printer working here, but there's no guarantee of that. Driving somewhere to do it makes less sense given the gas prices and the amount of time involved. In any case, I am now making an effort to start filing stuff in my filing cabinet.

Another exciting thing (as if the last topic were exciting) was that I believe that a juvenile red headed woodpecker visited my deck this week. I feed the birds on my deck rail and as I was getting ready for work, I saw a large bird with a brown head, a black back and a bright white spotted or mottled area near the tail. It was the same size, shape and had the same mannerisms of a red bellied woodpecker. Red headed woodpeckers are pretty rare around here, so it was pretty exciting. At the very least, I've never seen a bird like that one before.

Tonight I went to see the English Concert, which was a part of the Duke Artist's Series. I enjoyed it a great deal. They played mostly baroque and baroquey classical pieces of such composers as Vivaldi and Mozart. I'm definitely a fan of Vivaldi and all the music was lovely. The musicians all performed in different outfits of muted dark blues and purples, which added to the visual appeal of the performance. The director and violin soloist, Andrew Manze, introduced each piece by providing historical information as well as pointing out some of the structural components and themes of the pieces. This was well done and often humorous. It was clear that the musicians, especially Manze, enjoyed the music and enjoyed performing it, which is always nice to see.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

If Only My DVR Could Read My Mind

Can you believe it? After anxiously awaiting Jon Stewart's appearance on 60 Minutes, I forgot to set my DVR to record it. I must have thought about it at least ten times today, but most of the time my hands were covered in cookie dough. Not only was I not able to watch it after coming home from dinner, but I won't be able to see it in HD. It's most distressing. Fortunately, I will be able to see it at my parents' house on an inferior television. I had to console myself by seeking out a video of the Jon Stewart Crossfire appearance, which was entertaining and thought provoking. IFilm has it in its entirety.

I made chocolate chip cookies today for someone at work, in order to thank him for how much he's helped me. Given how rich these are, he may have to get his wife and son to help him out.

Last time I forgot to mention the link to the Wolfpacks for Truth, which was in response to the Bush/Cheney wolf fear tactic commercial.

My parents and I went to ACME Food & Beverage Company tonight and I had fettucine with artichoke, fennel and saffron cream followed by pear and ginger bread pudding. Fortunately, I have enough to take to work for lunch tomorrow.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Voting and PhoneCorps

I voted today. We have "early voting" here, which is really voting by absentee. In my case, I voted curbside and made sure that my dad took in my ballot. I'm still paranoid about the potential of someone's carrying in my vote that might have differing political views from mine. It seems as if it should be possible to come up with some scheme to maintain the privacy of curbside voters. Or perhaps they could hold early voting in accessible locations? What a novel idea.

This afternoon I debated about whether I should participate in the Kerry-Edwards campaign PhoneCorps. I really wanted to do it, but then I discovered that I would be calling people in other states. I don't have a long distance plan and I was skeptical about whether my cell phone would be good enough at my house. I eventually gave it a try and called thirty people. I was signing up people to go door to door to ask people to vote. I left a lot of answering machine messages, but perhaps that isn't too surprising on a Saturday night.
I did end up talking to several people who were very enthusiastic about the campaign, but couldn't participate for one reason or another or had already participated in an event today. One of the women, who I talked to for close to ten minutes, was a charming 79 year old lady who reassured me that all her family members, but one, were voting democratic and stressed how very important it was that we get rid of Bush. A canvasser had already visited her earlier today and she'd already voted, but she was still happy to talk to me about her horror at what has and is happening in Iraq and how the administration compares to what she observed while living in Europe during the second world war. That's the sort of conversation that makes calling random strangers on the opposite side of the nation worth it. ..and maybe some will remember to listen to their answering machines when they get back home.

I almost forgot to stress the significance of this. I'm not sure if I've mentioned previously in my blog, but people who know me quite well probably know that I absolutely hate making phone calls. With some exceptions, such as making restaurant reservations, I feel sometimes extremely anxious before calling and other times just slightly anxious. I don't understand it and probably never will. In any case, I really wanted to participate in this, because it's something that I can actually do for the campaign and I figured it would be good for me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Battle of the Signs

Someone (a neighbor?) put a Bush-Cheney sign just outside the edge of my property line at the end of our main driveway today. I thought it was necessary for my mom to immediately go out in search of our own Kerry-Edwards sign. She rushed off to the Orange County Democratic Party to get 3 Kerry-Edwards signs, 2 bumperstickers, a David Price sign and button. So now, if you drive by my driveway, you will see at least a somewhat more balanced display. Fortunately, the sign for our Democratic congressman, Price, tips it a little in the appropriate direction. Hopefully this will not attract signs for the horrid Republicans that are running for governor and the senate. I've now added another bumpersticker to my van and my mom promises to wear the button, since I already have my own (thanks to KB!).

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Party II

I took the day off on Friday and the washing machine came by, because the door switch came in. Unfortunately, it seems that the timer was also bad, so he had to order a new timer. It will work again someday. Meanwhile, I baked chocolate chip cookies and coconut macaroons for my second party.

The second party, which was mainly intended for people who couldn't make my first party and those who I thought would like to visit with those people, was actually quite small. Everyone who had children declined, because of the difficulties in getting a babysitter or some other conflict. Nine of us, including me and my parents, sat around talking and eating for four hours or so, which was fun. I had mostly the same food as last time: lemon parmesan garlic dip, guacamole, cheeses, veggies, fruit, samsosas and the cookies mentioned above. I also had cold shrimp with cocktail sauce, which was surprisingly popular and very easy to serve. One thing that was interesting was that at my previous party, for which I had asked a couple of people to bring extra chairs, everyone stood. For this one, everyone sat down the entire time. Parties are obviously unpredictable.

Today my dad and I went to Sam's Club, because my mom had seen a digital piano that I might want for my birthday/Christmas. I read up a bit on-line about the Yamaha DGX500 and it didn't sound like something I would be interested in, because it didn't have weighted keys. We went to Sam's Club anyway, just to take a look and because I needed another case of IBC root beer. Even though the piano is not what I want, it's gotten me started looking at what's available in digital pianos and synthesizers, a market that I haven't looked at in over fifteen years. Like most electronic technology, it's come a long way.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Comment on the Last Debate

I have just a quick comment about tonight's debate. I don't think the recommendation to get an education if your job is outsourced will resonate with the voters whose jobs have been outsourced that already HAVE an education. I don't think an extra college diploma or courses at a community college will help your typical laid off software engineer. Yes, many people in manufacturing have been laid off, but it's definitely not a one size fits all problem.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Random Bits

There were several things that I neglected to mention in my last post. One of the reasons that last week's mocha cake and the macaroons turned out so much better is that my mom got me an oven thermometer and we were able to determine that you have to specify that the oven temperature is 360 degrees in order to get it up to 350 degrees. Apparently, that makes a big difference.

Also, one of JH's hobbies, that he demonstrated Saturday night, is contact juggling, which looks very cool.

My washing machine died Friday night. I spent most of the day waiting for the repairman to arrive. It looks as if the door lock switch failed and he'll have to order a new one. Joy. It's only been four months! I'm going to have to outsource my laundry related program activities. It will take an average of five to seven days for the part to come in.

You may have seen on other blogs the video that compares the eloquence of Bush ten years ago compared to his recent verbal blunders. If you haven't, I recommend that you check it out. If you think of Bush as being human (I realize this may seem a bit of a stretch), it's really rather sad. What's far more tragic (and scary) is the idea that someone who has obviously detiorated this much is running the country. It's one thing to be malevolent and another to be malevolent and suffering from dementia.

You also might want to check out this superb video by the National Jewish Democratic Council.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Juggling Macaroons

This week (during the week) the two main things (other than watching the debates) worth noting were that I went out to lunch twice. On Wednesday JJ and I went to Dale's Indian Cuisine and Friday CL, PS , and I went to Moe's Southwestern Grill, in Cary. I had a burrito at Moe's that reminded me of a Cosmic Cantina vegetarian one and it was about the same price. Last night I had a Burrito Cancun at Casa Ibarra, so not only did I have Mexican food twice in once day but I had burritos for both meals. I think that's a first. We got to sit outside for both lunch outings and the weather was absolutley perfect.

I've been cooking all day. GM, JH and AE came over for dinner. I made a shrimp, bacon, pesto and mozarella pizza with a spinach salad and coconut macaroons. Yes, I've made the same pizza for three weekends in a row. I'm going to have to learn to make something else for that many people, so I can invite people back a second time. This time I didn't overbeat the eggs for the macaroons so they actually looked normal. They even browned. I was very pleased.

Having them over was loads of fun. JH started teaching me how to juggle! I must say that I made more progress tonight than I ever have on my own.

After dinner we watched Pirates of the Carribean, which was very entertaining. It was yet another movie that I'd be happy to see again.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Lenore the Weekend Blogger

This week, I enjoyed yet another stellar weekend.

On Saturday morning, my mom and I left my house at 11:15 to head for 9th street find a parking space. For the 3rd time in four years, we intended to watch the NC Gay and Lesbian pride parade. JA is heavily involved in organizing it and I like to show my support. Plus, it's a really cool parade. I've thought for years about makin a sign that says "I'm straight, but they're great!", but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Unfortunately, someone pulled into my favorite parking space, just as I was pulling into the parking lot. We like parking across from Francesca's, so we can eat ice cream while we watch. We had to park in the George's Garage lot instead and they seem to have good coffee and good peanut butter cookies.

We waited an hour and a half for the parade to officially start. It's fun to people watch before that, although I have a feeling that people watching on 9th street would be pretty entertaining any Saturday morning of the year, or any other day, for that matter.

The parade was filled with the usual collection of motorcycles, gay pride organizations, bands, floats and a few drag queens. All the rainbow colored flags and baloons were nice and colorful, as always. I was happy to see that there were lots of Kerry supporters, both marching in the parade and watching from the side.

In the evening, I met GM and JH at Southpoint. We ate at Rockfish, where we shared calamari and oysters for appetizers and I had a cup of clam chowder for my meal. It was very good. Afterwards, we saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I enjoyed it. It was very entertaining and funny at times. I would be willing to see it again and, for me, that's a good recommendation.

This morning, I got up and started getting ready to get started cooking almost immediately. I made a mocha cake and a shrimp, bacon, pesto (and mozarella) pizza, just like last week. I also made a spinach salad with toasted almonds, raspberries, avacado and honey Asian citrus dressing from the Cook Something cookbook that RP gave me. JJ, JA, EB and MP came over to celenbrate JJ's birthday. I gave him a 256 MB usb flash drive. I put six birthday candles on the cake, to represent JJ's age in binary. I only lit three of them. Actually, JA lit them, because I'd forgotten how to use the lighter. I had a good time, of course.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Planting and Cooking

This weekend has been pretty good. Friday night my parents and I went to Champa, since my dad had never been there before. I had roasted duck, which was quite good. It was difficult for me not to order Pad Thai for a fourth time.

Yesterday, my mom planted over fifty plants in my yard. The area to the right of my front door is really starting to look nice and should be gorgeous in the spring. The weather was fantastic, so I enjoyed admiring her technique and delivering refreshments. My dad planted several, too, and drilled a couple of outdoor lights into some of the oaks along the driveway, to use as temporary lighting when people park further away for parties.

Today I spent most of the day washing dishes and cooking. I made a two layer mocha cake this afternoon. After that I made a shrimp, bacon and pesto pizza. I used my mom's recipes for the cake and the pizza crust.
Both turned out rather well, I think. ..although like many of the things I've baked, the cake could have been in the oven a little longer. I'm wondering if there's something calibrated wrong on my oven or something. I wanted to practice making these recipes before I invite non-family members to eat them next weekend. I'd never made a cake before...or pizza. My mom's mocha cake is definitely my favorite.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Party Party Party

I must have a really good excuse for not blogging in so long, especially right after getting my wireless router working.

First, I spent most of last week agonizing over preparations for my party on Sunday as well as whether it would be complete sogged out by Hurricane Ivan. The night following the party, I was completely exhausted. Since then, I've been washing dishes and cleaning up.

I think the party was a success. I certainly had a good time, which, of course, is the most important thing. I made chocolate chip cookies, coconut macaroons, lemon parmesan garlic dip from the Cook Something cookbook that RP gave me, modified some guacamole and thawed some samosas. I also served mixed fruit and veggies, four different cheeses, crackers and french bread. You're probably guessing that I had a lot of food left over and you would be right. The best part of the party was seeing people I hadn't seen in ages, like PA, LG, and SC. It was wild having sixteen people in the house at once. I couldn't personally introduce everyone or show off the house, because there was more to do in the kitchen. Fortunately, CL was happy to give tours. Also, the good thing was that I was never worried about anything getting damaged. Lectures about coaster use weren't even necessary, but then again, my invitation kind of implied that I was overly concerned about that kind of thing.

Part of it did have to do with Ivan. We've had so much rain this summer with rain from so many hurricanes. Then it was predicted that we would get heavy rains all weekend from Ivan. I decided to move my party from Saturday to Sunday, with the hopes that it might be somewhat better. I was worried most about people's cars getting stuck in the grass parking area. Fortunately, Ivan came back south Saturday afternoon as a mere low pressure area, drying everything out and Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day. People even got to sit out on the deck.

Now I can plan for my next party, in October. I didn't want to invite everyone at once, because I thought that would be a little overwhelming and I also wanted another one for people who couldn't make it to the first one.

After work today, I went to the Around the World Market with PS. I was running out of frozen Indian food dinners and they were having a 99 cent sale, so I got a bunch more. I also got some food from the cafe to take home for dinner. I'm also happy knowing that I have fifty more samosas in the freezer.

I was arguing with a co-worker about cicadas and I found the CicadaMania site.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I was actually blogging from my deck earlier and several birds and a squirrel started eating birdseed that I had on the deck rail while I was sitting there. Posted by Hello

Outdoor Blogging

I'm blogging from my deck! That's right, I'm finally using wireless. I invited JJ and JA over to have brunch this morning and they took a look at my wireless router and DSL modem. In just a few minutes, I was up and running.

The problem was that Sprint was giving me the IP address of, which was the same IP address that the router wanted to use for the local network. Due to this overlap, the wireless router wasn't talking to the DSL modem at all. So, in the Linksys router configuration, JA set the Local IP address (router's address) to and the Subnet Mask to Finally, he set the DHCP addresses to start at Effectively, this meant that the lower half of the subnet mask could be use for the external address and the upper half could be for the local addresses. At least, I think that's the best way to explain it.

The other cool thing about their visit was that we ate outside using my deck furniture for the first time. It really is pleasant sitting out there (here). I baked some biscuits, microwaved some bacon, washed some raspberries and I watched JJ fry some eggs. I'd made scrambled eggs before, but I'd never made over easy or sunny side up. Overall, I thought it was an excellent meal and I had a great time. I''ve made biscuits twice in the last two days and I'm really happy with them, because they're just so easy.

I don't thinking anything else noteworthy has happened in the past week. All I can remember is that on Friday night, I went to Casa Ibarra and ate Vegetarian Meal #10.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Yeast Rolls

Today My main accomplishment was making rolls. This was my first experience with using yeast as well as my first use of my new Kitchen Aid mixer. I had a hard time getting the dough to rise. Basically, I keep my house too cold, I think. Once it sat in my warmish oven for a bit, the dough rose nicely. The rolls turned out great and there are only two left. It's wild, though, because I used the recipe that my mom has used forever and they turned out quite differently. Apparently, I should have added more flour, because my dough was rather sticky. Once baked, there the holes inside were a lot larger than hers. While I was very happy to eat mine, I like my mom's better, so I'll have to keep working at it. Also, all the rolls ended up mushing into each other, so I had to pull them apart. That was mostly cosmetic, though.

My parents planted several more plants today. It's really starting to look cool.

I was just unpacking a box full of letters that I mostly received about ten or eleven years ago. It made me realize a couple of things. If you have any doubts about the person's ability to stay in touch with you, then you should sign your full name. Otherwise, after a few years, it's really hard to look someone up if you have a bad memory. Of course, some might say that if you can't remember their name, then maybe it's not worth communicating but it might be. The other thing I realized was that I'm really bad at responding to e-mail. Yes, these were real genuine letters, but I also have e-mail that some of the same people sent two to five years ago, too. Hopefully their addresses still work.

Saturday, September 04, 2004


In my last post, I neglected to mention what I actually did yesterday. After work, I went to a picnic at the Duke Computer Science department, honoring the former department chairman. It was catered by Bullock's, so they had good barbecue, hush puppies and brunswick stew. Dessert was probably catered by somewhere else, but they had a cake with white icing and bright red cake innards. The flavor of the red dough was almost completely tasteless, but they also had brownies that were wonderful. More importantly, I talked to several people from the department that I hadn't seen in a while, so that was fun.

Today, my mom came over and planted forty small plants. That puts a significant dent in all the pots in the yard. I think it's going to look very nice. Our neighbor came over and chatted a while afterwards, so that was fun.

My parents and I went to ACME Food & Beverage Co. for dinner. I had pecan crusted catfish with lump crabmeat, tomato and country ham, served over french fries. It was supposed to have grits instead of fries, but I asked for the switch.

Two Parties and Three Turtles

I would again like to blame my infrequent posts to my inability to get my wireless router working. Of course, this is largely due to infrequent attempts to nudge it into cooperation. I still need to coerce someone into glaring at it more fiercely than I am able to do. Now that the Olympics are over, I can at least spend more time in the guest room without feeling as if I am missing something. It is crucial that the router's recalcitrance be rectified by the start of the fall television season.

I had a very active week. Last Saturday, I went to a WH's bridal shower. I had a very good time. The food, of course, was excellent. We played a lot of amusing games. I had never been to a bridal shower, so I really didn't know what to expect. Rest assured that we did not have a stripper, but there was a lot of discussion about not having one.

On Sunday, I went to JJ and JA's house warming party. That was a lot of fun. The food was simply amazing. We had pumpkin soup, shrimp etouffe, chicken sate, deviled eggs, creme brulee, tiramisu and tres leches cake.
I was simply in heaven from the food and got to spend time talking to friends for hours. Add two beagles for entertainment and it's an evening that's hard to beat.

On Wednesday, I had to leave work early (for me, not for most people) to pick up REC, Line and Sinker from the airport. They are all yellow bellied sliders, i.e. turtles. About four years ago, when they lived in Durham, E&ES raised a bunch of baby turtles from eggs that were laid near ES's apartment building. They kept four of them, but now they've gotten too big for their 150 gallon aquarium. On my parents' property, there is a 1/3 acre pond, so E&E thought it would be best to release three of them. So, Wednesday morning, they shipped them from Portland, Oregon to Raleigh-Durham. Unfortunately, they were two hours late in taking off from Portland, so they missed their connecting flight in Cincinnati. My dad and I went back to the airport again around 9pm and successfully picked up. Once we got back to my garage, we put them in Rubbermaid bussing tubs with about two inches of water. Line, the largest turtle, tried to climb out and a couple of times ended up on his back. This was a serious problem, because their being on their backs compresses their lungs, making it harder to breathe. We put Line in a taller tub, but he was still climbing. I called up E&E and they said to add more water. That way, they couldn't get traction on the tub floor and couldn't raise themselves up. Problem solved. The next morning, before I went in tot work, we released them in the pond. They were very eager to get out, the closer their buckets got to the pond. Off they went into the light green abyss. Later that afternoon, at two different times, my mom saw two different turtles on a little island in the pond. It could have been them or some of the many other yellow bellied sliders that live in the pond. We'll never really know, but we can probably be sure that they'll be happy swimming around in a great big pond.

Line tries to escape. Posted by Hello

My mom's arm, putting one of the turtles at the edge of the pond. Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 26, 2004

My Mixer

I think the only thing worth mentioning is that my new Kitchen Aid mixer arrived yesterday. The color is "lemon". It's very impressive looking and incredibly heavy. I'm looking forward to trying it out. I need to make some rolls. Of course, this also means that my mom took her Cuisinart 7 speed handmixer back. I'll miss it.

I had takeout Kurama sushi tonight and I ate way too much again.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Cornbread and Red Zinger

I forgot to mention that a week ago I went over to GM's apartment to have dinner and watch a movie. I brought a salad and made the Honey-Citrus Asian Salad Dressing from the Cook Something cookbook that RP gave me. It's very good and low in fat, since it only has 2 tablespoons of peanut oil for 3/4 of a cup of dressing. After dinner, we saw the Triplets of Belleville, which was a strange, but entertaining, but animated French film.

Saturday, a cable guy brought my new HD DVR/cable box, so I can look at the high definition channels (and record them, like any other DVR). The high definition channels are just gorgeous, especially the Discovery Channel. They are broadcasting the Olympics in HD, but there seems to be a delay before they broadcast the coverage.

I made cornbread today, using a recipe in the Joy of Cooking. I liked it. I only put one teaspoon of sugar in it, when the recipe called for 1 to 2 tablespoons. That sounds almost sweet enough to be yankee cornbread to me. I might try 2 teaspoons next time.

I also tried my pitcher of iced Red Zinger that I made yesterday. It's not quite as good as what Pyewacket (RIP) used to make, but I'm happy with it. They key is to chill the tea before you serve it, so the ice doesn't dilute it and you have to sweeten it with Sugar in the Raw after you pour it in the glass over ice. The Red Zinger is acidic enough to dissolve the sugar, unlike most iced teas. If you sweeten it when it's hot, it doesn't taste very good at all.

Friday, August 20, 2004


I have a new first for today. I just looked in the mirror, at approximately 9:30 pm and discovered that I'm unintentionally wearing different earring in each ear. One is a 5mm silver ball and the other is a iridescent button pearl. I'm surprised that no one noticed or commented, but maybe it isn't that obvious.

The Olympics and my new television have definitely been cutting into my blogging. Right now I'm writing this with my laptop disconnected from the network, so I can watch diving at the same time. That's right, I got a new television. I finally got the Sony K42WE610 that I've been coveting since before it came out. So far, so good. In fact, it looks fantastic already and I'm looking forward to getting my HD cable box/DVR from Time Warner tomorrow. I had such a hard time deciding whether I wanted to order it from Crutchfield or get it locally, but I ended up getting it from BestBuy.

In hindsight, last week wasn't the best time to take vacation, but it's not something I could have predicted in advance. In addition to rain from Hurricane Bonnie and a cold front, we had quite a bit from Hurricane Charley. With the exception of Monday, it was rainy and gloomy every single day of my vacation. I didn't let it stop me from having a good time, though. I went shopping quite a bit, mostly buying random kitchen stuff. I also went to Cedar Creek Gallery on Sunday to get rainbow tapers for my candelabra. One of the highlights while shopping was when I was at Sam's Club with my Dad. They sell a scrolling sign made out of LEDs and I programmed it to say "Vote for Kerry" My mom has been there since then and they don't even let customers turn it on anymore. Obviously, this means I should have made it say "Please Vote for Kerry" instead.

Yesterday I took four people from work to Champa for lunch. I had the pad thai again and it was probably even better than the first time I went there. PS had been there before, but it was a new experience for some of them, particularly those who had never tried Thai food before. It's really not far from work, so it was great.

Tonight, my parents and I went to Sage Cafe, at Timberlyne shopping center, in Chapel Hill. It's a Persian restaurant. It's completely vegetarian, including many vegan dishes. With Margaret's Cantina a short walk away, Timberlyne is turning out to be the perfect destination for vegetarians. I had a pomengranate stew, which had pomengranate juice, ground walnuts and tempeh, served with basmati rice. It was excellent and very different from anything I'd tried before. It also came with a salad, which had a delicious creamy dill dressing.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Shopping and Bonnie's Rain

Two things I forgot to mention yesterday: KB is living in California, so it's a big deal for her to visit, even though her parents still live here. It's not like she still lives one street over from me anymore. Also, she gave me a Kerry bumpersticker. Very cool!

Today my mom and I went to check out Brier Creek shopping center. That place is gigantic! I knew it was big, but you really have to see it to get a real impression of it. It looks like a little town, similar to Southpoint, but it's built more like a strip mall on steroids. We went to TJ Maxx and I got a few interesting kitchen items, like a 5 qt stainless steel mixing bowl and some cooling racks. We thought there was a Bed, Bath & Beyond there, too, but there wasn't. We tried out Champa Thai and Sushi. We ordered Pad Thai, a Sweet Dragon Roll and a Rainbow Roll equivalent, called a Skittles Roll. The Pad Thai was very good and I liked the sushi. I still the sushi at karma better than anywhere else I've tried it. The entree came with a coconut soup, which was also enjoyable.

Not too long after we got back, my dad and I ventured off to go Linens and Things. Mom mom thought we should take a look at some cheap bookshelves. The bookshelves looked good to me, so I got three of them. I also picked out odds and ends like small brooms with dustbins. I had just gotten to the aisle with non-stick baking sheets when my mom called on my cell phone and said we should leave as soon as possible, because we were about to have 2 hours of thunderstorms, according to the announcement on the HEMS frequency. So I grabbed a brownie pan, a mini-muffin pan and we headed for the cash register. By then, it had started pouring. I'm convinced that we would have been better off to stay and then I would have gotten to look at more of the kitchen section. As we were driving home, the rain was incredible and then as we got closer to home it lightened up a bit. It turns out that I'll be getting to look at the kitchen section after all. I turned out that the hardware in the bookshelves was made out of potently. One of the screw-like things holding up a shelf was broken when we took it out of the box and another one broke with just a little bit of pressure. They definitely won't hold up to heavy books and magazines, so we'll have to take them back tomorrow.

Finally, I discovered another use for blogging. When you write about practically every meal you consume, as I do, and it is announced on the local news that someone working at one of the restaurants that you like to frequent has come down with Hepatitis A, then you know very quickly whether you went there on the days when there was a possibility of being infected. You don't even have to find your credit bills or ask anyone you might have gone with. Fortunately, I last went to Big Bowl before the was any danger.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Old Friend and Rice

Today was a fun day. My friend K(C)B came to visit me. I hadn't seen her in 8-10 years, but we've been friends for almost 20 years. I remember my 9th birthday, when she came over to visit for the first time, bringing a big card from the kids at school. I'm pretty sure I was 9. Anyway, we played together quite a bit after that.
It's pretty awesome that, after all these years, she found this blog!

I showed KB around the house and then we went to Margaret's Cantina. I had the special burrito with spinach. I have to say that I am also becoming a Grandma Lundy's chocolate cake addict. We continued to catch up on things and exchange info about what our old friends are up to.

Afterwards, we went to my parents' house and I introduced her to FIFO. FIFO, of course, was quite happy to meet her. He's more than a little exuberant during such greetings and he just wears himself and sacks out on the floor.

Later in the afternoon I unpacked another box or so. For dinner, I finally made rice! I don't know why I've been so hesitant about making it, because it's really pretty easy, even on the stove. I had it with a kofta curry frozen dinner. It was excellent, but I was very full afterwards. I still am.

I recommend being very careful when using spell checkers. If you accidently have your cursor on "replace" instead of "ignore" it can be bad. Although if I'd left those "corrections" in place, it would have been more entertaining to have said "special buried with spinach" and "Grandma lunatic chocolate cake".

Monday, August 09, 2004

Latte Ham

Sunday, my parents continued planting trees in my yard. They planted 26 trees and shrubs! That's amazing.

I abandoned them that afternoon and met JJ and JA at Ooh-La-Latte. I had an egg salad sandwich and a latte. I have this tendency to go through the day on a weekend and not eat anything. I then realize suddenly that I'm starving to death. The sandwich really hit the spot. It could have been made of cardboard and I would have enjoyed it.

Later, my parents and I went to the Durham FM Association picnic. I had a good time seeing hams that I hadn't seen a while, since I almost never go to the meetings anymore. The banana bread was still a little under-cooked. I need to take my mom's advice and turn the oven without taking it out for ten minutes and then opening the door until the oven cools down. Then I can take it out of the pan. We'll see if that works next time. The best part of the picnic was that I got to take home some potato bean salad and a couple homemade Chinese dumplings. That's what I ate for lunch today and it was great.

I have some plants in my yard now. Posted by Hello

More plants near the house. Posted by Hello

Saturday, August 07, 2004

This is August?!

My, what gorgeous weather we've been having. I've had the windows open all day and it's August!

This week has gone by so fast. I only have scattered bits of things I actually remember.

One day JJ and I went across the street from work to get coffee in the other building. While we were there, we noticed that a tree was flopping about quite a bit and decided to head back rather precipitously. We did not drown.

Right now I'm baking banana bread for the Durham FM Association annual picnic tomorrow.
Today my parents planted several large plants in my yard. That was very exciting. My dad also almost finished the workbench that he's been building in my garage.

Last night I went over to GM's apartment. He cooked a great meal, including chicken curry, raspberry spinach salad and apricot bars for dessert. It was pretty impressive. Afterwards he and FT picked out some DVDs from a friend's place, across the street. We ended up watching the Bridges of Madison County. I've never read the book, so the movie seemed pretty good, although it was fairly sad.

I just took the banana bread out of the oven and it smells fantastic. This time I added orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg. It's actually two tablespoons of orange peel! This is the orange spice variation in Baking Illustrated. I have the hardest time getting it done in the upper middle. I already baked it for 5 extra minutes and my toothpick didn't come clean. Unfortunately, I waited until after I took it out of the pan to test it, but it was easy enough to plop it back in. I hopefully another five minutes as it heats back up to 350F will do the trick.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Serious Cookies

Today I baked more chocolate chip cookies. I experimented with the size of the cookie in relation to the baking time. The recipe recommends 1/4 cup of dough per cookie, baking them for 15 minutes. I only have a small baking sheet and I want them for a large number of people, so I tried smaller cookies. Well, smaller cookies are cripser if you bake them for 15 minutes. I tried 13 minutes and that seemed to be an improvement. I think I like the big cookies, though, so I'll just have to acquire some larger sheets.

Reflecting on last night's comedic routines, I think I've realized why I prefer political humor (and that was almost non-existant last night). A lot of the jokes last night were making fun of stereotypes, which can bother me. No one chooses their race, culture or sexual orientation. An individual does, however, choose to be a Republican. I, therefore, feel perfectly justified in making fun of such an individual. There are still dangers in this, though. Just as one foments ignorance in making fun of a racial stereotype, it is easy to focus on the more amusing political stereotypes, while ignoring their more sinister activites.

Food and Fun

Did I do anything Wednesday through Friday? Well, I think the most exciting thing I did was go to lunch at Fowler's with JJ. I had samosas and gazpacho again. I also bought two sixpacks of Blenheim ginger ale. I got the hot and the "not so hot" versions. I couldn't remember which I had a last time I tried it, but I had the hot one with my lunch. I took it back to work with me and it seemed much hotter when it wasn't combined with food. I only choked on it once.

I also cooked the Indian equivalent of Ramen noodles for my dad, either Wednesday night or Thursday. I added some frozen shrimp to it and it was quite good. I still think making pasta is a somewhat stressful activity, because I'm always worried about overcooking it and making it mushy. Violently boiling water is a little disturbing when you have to put stuff in it, too.

Other than that, I spent my free time watching the Democratic National Convention. I enjoyed watching it and continued to enjoy having cable again. I was impressed with Kerry's daughters and how poised they were, compared to...say... The Bush daughters. I also loved the hamster story. Of course, the Daily Show's commentary on the whole convention has been rather entertaining.

Today I slept late, ate breakfast and did some laundry. My dad came over to work on building a workbench in the garage. My contribution was to help support the boards in such a way that it made it more difficult to cut them, causing the circular saw to bind.

This evening, I went with JJ, JA, EB, MP, JA's brother and his brother's wife to Charlie Goodnight's, the comedy club in Raleigh. First we were going to go to 42 Street Oyster Bar, but that had a 45 minute wait. We investigated going to the Irrregardless, but they could't take us soon enough either. We then walked to Ri Ra, an Irish pub. My meal was quite good. I had a Salmon Boxty, which was a potato pancake filled with salmon and a cream sauce. Then, we went to the comedy club and saw Dat Phan. The show was entertaining. I'd never been to a comedy club before, so that was interesting. I still think you can probably get about as much out of seeing a comedy routine on tv as you can in person. The jokes are either funny or they aren't. I still wouldn't mind seeing Jon Stewart in person, though.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I finally have cable!

After a long and valiant two month struggle, I now have cable. I have digital cable and a DVR with my grandmother's twelve inch television. That might seem like overkill, because it is. I'm still planning on getting something larger as soon as I can. For now, it's still pretty wild having television after not having one for almost two months. Now I'm really going to have to get wireless working so I can use the computer while viewing the television instead of from the guest room. I do, however, think that the guest room is a fantastic place to work. I worked from home today, since I knew that the cable guys would be here between 1pm and 5pm. They arrived about 4pm, after they experienced great difficulties finding my house. Not long after their arrival, we had a strong thunderstorm with lots of lightning. Apparently, they only abort a mission during a thundertstorm if they have to climb a pole. One of the poor guys had only been working for Time Warner for two weeks. It took them about an hour and it rained almost the entire time.

One interesting thing about the DVR is that they didn't have a manual for it. I'm going to have to look for one on the web, although I'm sure I can figure most of it out just by playing with it. It's made by Scientific Atlanta and the model is Explorer 8000, so I can find more about it there. So, this DVR, which also operates as my cable box, won't work with HD. Once I get an HD television, I have to call them and get them to switch it. I wonder how long that will take. At least it doesn't cost anything extra.

Yesterday, EB and MP came over to see the house. It was fun finally getting to show it to them. Afterwards, my parents and I went to Casa Ibara. Once I got back, I did some work while listening to the Democratic National Convention. Last night, my dad brought over the twelve inch television with rabbit ears and I've had the convention on quite a bit since, with the exception of the work day, today. I thought Bill Clinton's speach was quite good last night. My mom has Carter's and Gore's speaches TiVoed for me. Now I can record my own! It's time for Dean. It's time to go watch.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Yellow Squash Bread

Today, I made two loaves of yellow squash bread, using a recipe that I found with google.  I looked for yellow squash recipes after EB gave me all the squash a couple weeks ago.  It tastes pretty good and it was pretty easy to make.  It certainly turned out better than when I tried to fry it, at least.  My parents came over this afternoon, sampled the bread and had some tea.

I went out to dinner at Pao Lim's with JJ, JA, EB and MP.  We had some vegetable dumplings and some pork dumplings, too.  The veggie dumplings were actually green and while they were good, I think I actually like Big Bowl's better.   Pao Lim's pork dumplings are excellent, though.  For my entree, I had honey walnut shrimp, which was great, as as always.  I'll be looking forward to my leftovers.  For dessert, I had coconut ice cream again.  It was served with pineapple and that tasted extremely sour in contrast to the ice cream.  Fortunately, going into the dessert, JA agreed to come to my rescue and eat half of my dessert, in addition to his own.  That made it a lot more pleasant.  The best thing was that EB's fortune cookie told her that she believes in the goodness of mankind.  We're going to have to remind her of this at regular intervals.  Afterwards, I was able to give squash bread to everyone!

I've been listening to an on-line compilation of war protest songs, that's supposed to be released as an album later this year.   Some are pretty good.  So far, I've particularly liked "Consquences", by Amy Martin.

Several Days of Fun

I've been having so much fun adding pictures to early posts in my blog that I've barely left any time for actually writing about something new.  So far I've added pictures to the first month or so of my blog.  It takes a bit of time to pick out what I want to add and then change the date, etc.

Let's see...  Wednesday night, I went to a Durham Bulls game, with approximately my entire organization at work.   We were all allowed to bring one guest, so it was fun meeting people's spouses after hearing so much about them.  I took my dad along, who seemed to enjoy watching the game.  It was entertaining in that there were a bunch of home runs, but not exciting in the sense that the final score was 11 to 1.  It was very hot, but fortunately the sun went down behind the stadium fairly quickly.  Generally, I got the impression that most people had a good time.  The only glitch in the whole thing was that the reserved picnic areas was down about 13 steps.  Oops.  Fortunately MS and JL were respectively available for the hand truck maneuver.

Thursday night, I went over to LK's house.  We ate pizza, talked and watched the Tour de France on tv.  It was fun seeing all the changes he'd made to his house and catching up, in general.  It was absolutely pouring when I got there and we had to wait a while before I went inside.  

Today I went out to lunch with JJ.  We went to Dale's Indian Cuisine on 9th street.  The food is consistently good.  I decided to eat chicken and lamb.  It was good.  Actually, I still probably liked the spinach and eggplant dishes the best.  Afterwards, we went to a coffee shop near the corner of Broad Street and Club,  Ooh-La-Latte.  I'd never been there before.  It's actually quite strange.  They have a very unusual decor with lots of old furniture, barbie dolls, velvet Elvises and other stuff.  Somehow it reminded me of a Bizarro cartoon in pink and black.   They are right next to their store, the Untidy Museum.   While I only peeked in the door as I was leaving, it looks as if they sell things that would fit right into their decorations.   All in all, I'd say that it's a pretty wild place that's worth seeing for yourself.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004


I'm finally playing with Hello. Posted by Hello

Last night I decided to download Hello and after playing with it a few seconds, I decided I should install Picasa, too.  They are definitely very cool programs.  Hello makes it easy to add pictures to blogger and Picasa makes it easier to organize one's photos.  That's what I really need.  I apologize for the boring photo, but I realized that I don't seem to have any recent photos of my house on my laptop.  I need to find my compact flash drive.  I wonder what I did with it?  All I can say is that Google has a very good sense of which companies to acquire.  I'll have to consider adding some photos in between earlier posts.

Half-way on my way to work this morning,  I noticed that I was almost out of gas.  I decided this was an excellent opportunity to go eat at Kemp's Seafood House , which is quite close to my office.  My mom and I had huge plates of fried oysters and my dad had a big plate of fried shrimp.  Actually, all the plates were the same size, but somehow my plate seemed larger than all the others.  They do a great job on their oysters, but their servings are way too big.  Kemp's is immensely popular, so I would be wary of trying to go there on a weekend.  It looks as if they are putting on an addition that will almost double their already giant size.