Sunday, December 27, 2009

Adieu to 2009

A year ago, lots of things were going my way. It was just amazing how things were falling into place and I felt like I had summited the Everest equivalent of personal and professional success. 2009 closes on a somewhat different note. Professionally, I made some changes and while I'm not happy about the chain of events that led to the decision to make a change, I realize I did the right thing; I'm much less stressed now and the travel schedule is less hectic. Once I get my computer set up, I am looking forward to getting back to some of the things I put on the back burner while dealing with the emotional stress of an environment and career that wasn't quite the right fit.

On the personal front, I have no complaints, other than the still impassable second bedroom. Moving sucks, people, there's no two ways about it. Still, like the career move, the apartment move was the right decision because of the reasons why it was required; among other things, I'm closer to work now, cutting a commute from 25 miles down to 18, which in Sweat Sock City makes a big difference. The room will be cleaned up soon and after months of just running around and major changes, life will settle into its pleasant rhythms. I'm looking forward to that very much.

2009 didn't turn out quite the way I imagined it would but it had some very high points and for that reason, I'm looking back on the year fondly.

I'll see you in 2010. Here's wishing you and yours all the best in your moves for the new year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Here is a recipe for Star Anise Lace Cookies from Gourmet magazine (sniff, sniff). It's a super easy, kind of odd recipe, but they do come out super thin and almost lacy (in a circular lace pattern). It's not at all a typical cookie and I think it would be really good as an accompaniment with a fruity ice-cream. My one complaint is that it 'feels' very buttery and I'm tempted to reduce the amount of butter from 5 tablespoons to 4 next time around. Still, taste-wise these are fantastic cookies and probably will add a good bit of originality/creativity to a traditional cookie spread.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Top music in 2009. The article confuses me somewhat in the way it's written but eventually it gets to the point and gives a tentative placement of top albums, songs, digital albums, etc. There seem to be a lot more categories now for "top" now than back in the day when I used to really pay attention to this kind of stuff. When I was a kid, I loved listening to Casey Kasem and the Top 40. Now, it seems to be all Ryan Secrets All The Time (tm) and it's just not the same. But it was kind of neat to see the listing of music for 2009, especially since one of my faves, "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga, is high up on the list.

I think it's a crime that Pink didn't make the list though. She had some great stuff this year. Also, kind of over that "I Gotta Feeling" song by the Black Eyed Peas. Miley Cyrus is okay -- I do bop in the car when "Party in the USA" comes on, but I am getting increasingly tired of Taylor Swift. Kings of Leon as well -- not a fan. Was also surprised to see Britney didn't make the list. Both "Womanizer" and "Three" are totally infectious and fall into the "I AM STILL STUCK IN TRAFFIC SO PLAY SOMETHiNG SO I WON'T LOSE MY MIND" category.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Worst nightmare

Okay, so one of them, but here it is:

Taylor Swift, the Kings of Leon, and Colbie Caillet singing that Firefly song a capella on "The Sing Off" with Jenna Wolfe from the Sunday "Today" show as one of the judges. And oh yeah, Nicole Scherzinger stays and constantly says in her monotone, "That was so hot, you were really hot..."

Monday, December 14, 2009


The extended cut pilot for "Caprica" is online at Apparently it's been online since April 14th. Haven't seen it yet -- maybe tomorrow -- but pretty excited as thought I'd have to wait until Jan. 22 to see what it was all about.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Things that make you go hmmm...

Dry-clean only towels.


Who comes up with dry-clean only towels?

So now we're stuck with towels that were used in the guest bath yesterday for our company and clearly were used for hand drying but WE CANNOT WASH THEM. Granted, dry-cleaning here is quite cheap -- about $1.79 per garment -- but WHO DESIGNS DRY CLEAN ONLY HAND TOWELS????
This thing is not like that thing

This is the first weekend in 3 or 4, I think, that there has been no moving. Unpacking, yes, and that reshuffling act (which is starting to get REALLY annoying) continues. It's funny just how things don't 'fit', compared to my old place. My new closet is small and made for giants -- the top rack is at the 9 foot level. Who has the ability to easily hang clothing on 9-foot high racks? And then retrieve them in the dead of morning to get ready for work? Annoying. And then the towel rack in my bathroom, also made for giants; I have to stand on the edge of the tub in order to hang my towel back up.

I don't have a computer desk anymore either. My old apartment had a built in computer desk but this one doesn't. So my poor computer lies in a box until I get time to actually go out and buy a desk (hello, IKEA!). No built in showcase bookshelf here either so off to Crate & Barrel to buy a new bookshelf. The kitchen is also made for giants; I can only reach the bottom shelf and if I stand on my tiptoes, I can get to the second shelf. Next stop Target -- purchase of step stool imminent (btw, I'm relatively average in height, about 5 foot three; clearly this apartment was built for the 6 foot up crowd).

In the kitchen, the dishwasher won't stay open. I find this highly annoying as well as I have to stand with one foot on the door to keep it open in order to load/unload. Because of the door issue, the bottom rack also rolls back with tremendous force at random intervals and the resulting THUD! is really scary; I have this vision of all of the plates and bowls etc just SHATTERING in a big moment when the dishwasher slams shut, pushing the rack back against the wall. Yesterday I jiggered a solution -- one of my handweights looped through the bottom rack; just enough weight to keep the door from shutting and holding the rack in place.

Anyway, it's interesting getting used to a new place. I miss my old place in the sense that everything I had "fit" and everything was much more accessible for me. This place has more space and has a great layout and is fairly quiet but the little annoying things make it hard to completely feel at home. Maybe if I can get that second bedroom 'passable', I'll feel better. But in order to do that, I have to deal with that closet with its 9-ft racks. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


The infomercial on right now is for a software program called Dragon ( -- purposely not linking). It's pretty funny, actually, as you have to actually speak your punctuation and "new line" or "new paragraph". I'm just trying to imagine that oh so famous Walt Whitman poem would work. To wit, as dictated into Dragon;

Oh captain exclamation point my Captain exclamation point our fearful trip is done semicolon next line
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won semicolon next line
The port is near, the bells I hear comma the people all exulting comma next line
While follow eyes the steady keel comma the vessel grim and daring colon next line
But O heart exclamation point heart exclamation point heart exclamation point next line
O the bleeding drops of red comma next line
Where on the deck my Captain lies comma next line
Fallen cold and dead period next line

I don't know how Dragon would handle all the spelling variations (O instead of Oh), but I would think that for writing purposes, rhythm and mood could be lost when you're inserting the punctuation while speaking. I guess if I used dictation software I'd have to speak first and then go back and figure out what the punctuation and line spacing would be. But I tend to 'think' through my fingers and a lot of time stories/prose takes form while I type; I think it would be a tough change to dictate versus actually typing. Dunno. Still, I'm kind of amused by the 'comma next line exclamation point' bit of Dragon. It definitely gives a new read to Whitman.
Good Eats II

We had a great menu for the lunch this afternoon -- it went very well. Definitely more relaxing than going to a restaurant, especially since one couple had a baby and it's just easier to deal with a baby, I think, in a home environment than in a restaurant.

Appetizers were simple -- just cheese (pepper jack and chedder) and crackers (multigrain and plain). For the actual lunch, we served a green lentil soup, followed by gnocchi tossed with tomatoes, basil and garlic, and roasted asparagus with sesame seeds and balsamic vinger. For toppings, we included salt/pepper (because I always under-salt/pepper), pecorino romano grated cheese (YUM!) and fresh basil. For dessert, I made chai cupcakes with cream cheese frosting with cinnamon.

Drinks served included ye run o' the tap water, sparkling cranberry juice, Coastal Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and chocolate peppermint coffee. We had sparkling apple juice as a back-up but didn't need to use it. Incidentally, the sparkling cranberry juice is really, really good.

It was a less complicated menu than I had originally planned, but we had just enough time to pull it together and clean up the place before our guests arrived. Also, it was a simple enough menu but with enough fresh touches like the basil really made the meal. Everyone had a really good time and our lunch party was a success. We're already looking forward to the next one!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Good eats

Company is coming over tomorrow for lunch and because I have Friday off, I'm going to do most of the preparation today. Keep in mind that I still have an impassable second bedroom and enough boxes stacked in the dining room/kitchen to equate an entire Northwest US forest. Clearly, a trip to the recycling center is warranted.

Anyway, I'm trying to come up with a main entree. I've been debating on quiche. I've made -- or attempted to make -- the quiche recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook a bunch of times but my last attempt was the biggest disaster ever. I'm convinced there's something about the proportion of ingredients that's just not right, and maybe a different recipe will have different results. But then if it doesn't turn out and I'm just challenged at quiche-making, then what are my other options?

I think quesadillas are a great fallback because it's really hard to mess those up. I thought about making individual frittatas with bell peppers and tomotatoes, but it requires 12 eggs, which if you think about it is a lot of eggs. I think tofu steaks might be good with some spiced veggies, but I don't know. It just doesn't appeal to me the way a nice, fresh spinach and mushroom quiche does.

So far the menu has taken on a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern flavor: sangria, sGreek salad, lentil soup, and chai cupcakes for dessert. Appetizers are still up for debate -- maybe just cheese and crackers? Or breaded paneer bites? Oh the options and the lack of culinary skills!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


There are tons of stories about the White House Gate Crashers out there, but I chose this one for the LotD. Why? Because the reporter actually got the name of Michaele Sahali's outfit right. It's a lehnga, NOT a sari as people have been calling it. So kudos to the reporter for getting it right and not following every other story's lead.

... Ms. Salahi strutted onto the South Lawn in that bright red lehenga, she and her husband breached far more than a secure perimeter.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


This is sweet story about twins separated at birth in China and adopted by two different families in the US, yet somehow they were aware of each other. This is an interesting twist on the nature versus nurture debate.
So say we all

"Battlestar Galactica" has been named the 5th best show of the decade. Very cool that the show gets some respect. And oh! On January 22, "Caprica" starts on SyFy (does the new name bug anyone else? I mean, REALlY) so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing that.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Here's a personal angle on the current health care debate: Health Care and Cancer: Reforming the Odds in a Costly System.

The enormous expense of cancer care – particularly for diagnoses with the worst prognosis – is a driving force in the relentless rise of health costs. Is this huge investment of resources a sensible approach to diseases for which there is no cure and for treatments that often extend life by only a few months? To me, of course, the answer is quite clearly yes. But my disease, though not curable, is treatable, and fortunately, new treatments are waiting in the wings. That is not the case with many other cancers.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Moooooooving, part deux

So the vast majority of the move was completed by 3 pm today, meaning I surrendered the other apartment. So all stuff was out and honestly, I turned it over cleaner than when I lived it. For example, I dusted the baseboards. Who knew baseboards could collect so much dust? Also, I found out that while dusting/cleaning my ceiling fans that the blades were made out of particle board painted white so all those fears I had of metal blades falling off a spinning fan and impaling me while I was innocently sleeping or watching television were clearly misplaced. Also, for those of you who remember this famous incident, I removed the last of the egg still stuck on the ceiling (disclaimer: I left it there as on purpose as a reminder of what shortcuts in the kitchen could end up).

The thing about moving is that you always have more stuff than you thought you did and I swear to god there's like this magic field around my old apartment, that every time I "emptied" a room, more stuff just magically appeared. It was insane. What's also true and very annoying is that when you're shifting things from one place to another, you're constantly moving things around, stumbling over them, and finding it just impossible to get stuff in the right place because you have to move thing A to make room for thing B but then thing A is blocking thing C. It's a vicious circle.

Also it got to the point that I thought that carrying groceries from the car was just like moving.

Right now I've got one bedroom that's basically impassable. The kitchen is an open plan, thank goodness, so only one entrance is impassable. The laundry room and front hall closet are now unblocked which is awesome because I was tripping over shoes and coats and also couldn't do laundry. It's a sign of progress that the living room is basically set up (including a very patriotic Christmas tree!) and that the bedroom and both bathrooms are clear and able to be used. And except for that one entry into the kitchen, the kitchen is fully functioning. Hopefully by Friday, the kitchen/foyer/dining room mess will be taken care of because company comes on Saturday.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


I think it would be a very, very bad idea fo Hillary Clinton to interfere in anyway in the Amanda Knox verdict. It's one thing to intercede on the behalf of hikers in Iran who might have been apprehended unfairly or the journalists in North Korea or the father whose son was kidnapped to Brazil, but it's another thing entirely to interfere in another's country judicial system (thoughts about that aside). There is no strategic national security involved, there's no question of apprehension under vague circumstances, and the defendent was well represented in court.

Andrew Sullivan eloquently expresses his reasons for Leaving the Right.

But there has to come a point at which a movement or party so abandons core principles or degenerates into such a rhetorical septic system that you have to take a stand. It seems to me that now is a critical time for more people whose principles lie broadly on the center-right to do so - against the conservative degeneracy in front of us.

A manifesto of his reasoning follows and reading through it, it reminds me why I can never vote Republican, not when the standard bearers are people like Palin, Limbaugh, Glen Beck, etc. The tent is becoming increasingly small and exclusive but I suppose that also helps the echo chamber. I'm glad that people are starting to take notice and distance themselves from certain people and their whacked out, uninformed statements.

Of course all of this is a moot point as I've never claimed less than being a left of a center Democrat, but there have been times in my New England past when a Republican candidate appealed to me over the Democrat. At the risk of contradicting myself, I would prefer less government spending -- don't even get me started on the bailout! -- but I would rather spend money on health care reform than these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I can't say that I'm thrilled with Democrats either. I accept Obama's Afghanistan surge because I know it's what he needs to do. I don't like it though, but I understand it. I am mortified with the Stupak amendment included on the House version of the health care reform bill. I hate that we bailed out the car companies even though on a deep down level, I understand that too.

The point is, as much as the Democrats have done things I don't like, it seems like they're the only choice. Claiming Independence as a voter makes no sense when the differences are so stark. You can be a conservative Democrat, but it doesn't seem that there is such thing as a liberal Republican and I think the GOP is going to pay for that if they continue to hail Limbaugh and Company and/or seriously parade Sarah Palin as a contender for 2012.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Nepal holds highest cabinet meeting. Can't get any higher than Everest, I guess,though I worry about decisions made in oxygen-thin atmosphere.

So I'm on day 13 of The Great Move of 2009(tm). Moving sucks. Don't even let someone tell you otherwise. I lived in one place for 6-plus years and I didn't think I had so much stuff, didn't think I owned so many clothes, until it came to physically schlepping all that stuff out of the old place and into the new place. It also didn't help that the weather hasn't been that cooperative so at least two moving days were ruled out because I'm a wimp who doesn't like moving when it's raining, snowing, or below 50 degrees.

Time is running out though and I have to absolutely be out of my old place by Sunday so tomorrow is D-Day. Well, actually Sunday is, but I'm trying to be disciplined about it and gritting my teeth and just muscling through the last bit. I'll be so happy when everything is moved and cleaned and then I'm finally in the new place, able to relax and find proper places for everything.