Archive for April, 2010
One of the good things about being an adult, is that sometimes you don’t have to do things that you don’t want to. For instance, I have never popped the screens out of my windows and washed them. (This was a regular part of spring cleaning when I was growing up.) Nor do I bother to make the bed most mornings. (Sorry, Mom. You tried.)
On the flip side, being an adult also means doing stuff that you don’t want to do, because you know that you need to. Like making doctor’s appointments. And dentist appointments.
Especially dentist appointments.
I hate going to the dentist.
I don’t remember how old I was… 5? 6? 7? It was early grade school, anyway. The way that I remember it happening, I was running up the steps at school. It was winter, the stairs were icy, I slipped, and I hit my mouth on the metal handrail. One of my front teeth was chipped. (You can still see the chip if you look) My parents took me to the dentist, and he smoothed out the chip. That tooth wasn’t the problem. The tooth next to it was the hidden problem. The blow had severed the nerve as the base of the root, but we wouldn’t know about that for 10 or so years.
Time passed. I lost my baby teeth, got adult teeth. I got cavities, and had them filled. I got braces, and then had a series of retainers.
Then in high school I got a terrible, painful toothache. Turns out that it was the tooth with the severed nerve. It had gotten infected. If it hadn’t gotten infected, I wonder how long it would have gone unnoticed?
I got a root canal.
In college, I had persistent trouble with the root canal. The filling kept falling out, among other things.
So I got a crown. (According to the dentist, crowns really only have a shelf life of 10 or so years. At the time I decided to just not hear that… I was pretty sick of dentists.)
10+ years pass. Then I have some problems with the crown, which is well past its expiration date. My current dentist fixes the crown, warns me that it could fail at any time, and strongly urges that I get an implant.
I don’t want to get an implant. I have to get an implant. Basically, at this point, I have no other options.
So I got a consult with an oral surgeon, and made an appointment to get the first stage of an implant. The surgery is this coming Tuesday morning.
I don’t want to have oral surgery. I hate the fact that the process for getting an implant takes so long and that with the multiple surgeries and healing time, it will probably be close to the end of the summer before the process is complete. But I have to have it. No other options. So I am having oral surgery.
Goddammit, sometimes I hate being a responsible adult.
There is a bush right next to the front door that is some kind of lilac. It smells wonderful, but is only in bloom for about a week in early spring. Right now is at the very end of its flowering cycle. I wish that I could find a perfume that smelled like this bush.
I have made this for dinner before. I think that it is a pretty quick and easy meal.
You will need:
- 2-3 chicken breasts (2 big ones or 3 small ones)
- 1 eggplant
- fish sauce
- soy sauce
- kosher salt
- peanut oil
Take 3/4 of a cup of rice (white or brown) and cook it, then set it aside.
Mix 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce…and then set it aside.
Peel and dice the eggplant. You will need to “sweat” it for about 20 minutes. This draws out some of the water and makes it easier to stir-fry. I do this by putting the diced eggplant in a colander, and then the colander in a large mixing bowl. Then generously cover the eggplant in kosher salt. Then… set it aside. For 20 minutes.
Dice the chicken. You want smallish pieces.
Peel a couple of cloves of garlic. I like to use 4-5. Peel some ginger root. Toss both in a blender and chop them up together. Or you can just get the little jars of diced garlic and diced ginger at the store and use a tablespoon of each. Either way works.
Take a wok, and heat it on the stove. When it sizzles when you flick some drops of water in it, its ready. Add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil, and let the oil heat.
Add the ginger and garlic, and stir fry them until the garlic starts to brown. Watch out for oil spatter! For some reason, minced ginger really really gets the hot oil going.
Add the chicken and stir fry it until it is browned and cooked through. You don’t have to stir it constantly… you want the chicken to get that caramelized look. You will know the chicken is done when you can easily split one of the chicken pieces with the spatula.
When the chicken is done, remove it and… set it aside. (There is a lot of “setting it aside” in this recipe.)
The eggplant should be all sweated now, so take the colander out of the mixing bowl, shake off some of the excess salt, and add it to the wok. Add more peanut oil if needed. Stir fry the eggplant until is is browned all over and almost done. (Almost done = mostly, but not quite all of the way, soft.)
At that point, re-add the chicken, and stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. Mix it all up.
Add 1/4 cup water, turn the heat down to medium, cover the wok, and steam it for 15 minutes. You will know it is done when the eggplant is soft all of the way through.
Stir in the rice.
John went off to an SCA event this weekend. I was supposed to go, but last week was a pretty shitty week, work-wise (workload, and meetings, and deadlines, oh my!) and Friday was the shitty capper to a shitty week, and I was just not in the right frame of mind to hit people with swords. So John went off without me.
He came back with a cracked rib. Apparently he took the hit that cracked it early on in the day, didn’t think that it felt that bad, went on to fence for another 5-6 hours, and only decided that it hurt a lot more then a bruise should hurt toward the end of the day. (X-rays confirm that it is indeed a cracked rib. He will be 100% fine in 4-6 weeks.)
Given how long both of us have fought, it is actually pretty amazing that we have gone this long without any major injuries incurred on the list field. Since we fight each other fairly frequently, and since we tend to get a bit rougher with each other then we otherwise would be in a bout, it is even more amazing that one of us hasn’t managed to hurt the other.
I am just glad that it wasn’t me who hurt him. I would have never have lived it down.
Last weekend we were at the Grand Tournament of the Unicorn down in Oxford.
Our friend Caedmon ran the fencing there and decided on some pretty fun tournament formats. There were the almost obligatory novice tournament, and the double-elimination tournament, and then after lunch a dagger tournament followed by a lumberjack tournament.
Dagger is not something done very often in tournaments (because of fears of excessive violence, bruising, and hand/wrist injuries) and is pretty much what it sounds like it is – everybody goes into the list with a dagger, and nothing else.
For the lumberjack tournament, the two fighters stood in the center of the list, and were ringed with everyone else who was in the tournament. If one of the fighters got too close to one of the observers (all observers were in full kit and fully armed) then the observer was allowed to foul the weapons of the combatants. It was awesome… I think that this one was my favorite out of all of the tournaments simply because it was so innovative and outside the standard norm. After a while you just get tired of the same old bear pits and round robin tournaments and want something just a little bit different.
I hope that Caedmon decides to run fencing at more tournaments…I think that he did a great job of things at Unicorn.
John and I both did really well in the tournaments. We…uh… kinda swept the awards. He won the double-elimination, the dagger, and the lumberjack tournaments, and I won the overall “spirit” award. I got a really cool antique silver egg cup, and John got three (one for each tournament that he won) silver and bronze goblets. I feel a little bad about the way that we swept things, but only a little. We were both fighting really well, and sometimes it is just really nice to have a concrete acknowledgment of that.
We were both asked to be Queen’s Guard during court at the end of the day, which was a pretty cool honor on top of everything else.
Does the Nexus One have a nice camera? Yes, it does. My current mobile (Pantech Duo) has a shitty camera. Even the cheap clamshell phone that I had prior to this one took better pictures.
As one does when one (or at least me) has a new camera to play with I ran around taking a lot of photos. The plants, the house, the cats… lots of photos of the cats. Mostly because they can’t really complain about the paparazzi treatment, all they can do is ignore me or walk away.
They aren’t great photos, but they are fun photos.
There are more at my flickr site.
Don’t think, however, that if I got a Nexus One that I would abandon the DSLR. Because I wouldn’t. But I probably would start to take and post more photos on a daily basis because the Nexus One makes it so easy and quick to do so.
So I have had the Nexus One for a few days and have played with it extensively.
The touch screen is very nice and quite sensitive. There is a trackball underneath the screen for people who are anti-touchscreen, but I never needed to use it. Actually the touchscreen was so sensitive that I occasionally accidentally selected things when I was only trying to “flick” the screen in order to scroll it.
There is some nice feedback when you touch-select something one of the function buttons below the screen – a nice little buzz beneath your finger to let you know that you hit the target.
The screen does have multi-touch capability (standard now, I suppose) and you can use several fingers to pinch or spread whatever you are looking at to either shrink or expand it.
The touch screen keyboard which I was so concerned about (I felt that I would be much more comfortable with a physical keyboard, which is why I was looking initially at the Droid) was not a problem at all. It took me less then five minutes to get used to it. The predictive typing was also a nice feature, though it did take me a little while to get used to it.
The apps. I liked the apps. I could get very very used to using a lot of apps. Some apps I especially liked (that I need to remember for when I get an app phone of my very own):
- FxCamera: All kinds of seriously cool camera filters that mimic classic polaroid, holga, and diana cameras and their effects
- Aldiko: eReader and access to all sorts of browsable/downloadable libraries of free and public domain books. Free books! That I can read on the phone! Can it really get any better then that?
- ColorNote: It should not surprise anyone at all that I found an app for to-do lists
- flickr by pixelpipe: upload photos right from the phone to flickr
Honestly, my only complaint would be about the lifespan of the battery, which was woefully short. I had to plug it in to recharge over night, and it needed to spend a long time during the day powering off of my laptop. Of course, I was playing with it almost constantly, so I am not sure how loudly to complain about the limited battery life.
Oh, the screen… I also have a complaint about how the screen looks when you are out using the phone in bright sunlight. Basically the glare reflected off of the shiny, shiny screen overwhelms everything and it is tough to see what you are doing. This is not a unique problem… it is shared by pretty much everything with a screen (laptops, kindles, GameBoys, etc…) and the people who want to use them outdoors.
Verdict: Yes, please!
Really, it has been a while since I got this excited about any kind of new tech gadget. I looked at the iPhone and while I thought that it was really interesting, I didn’t feel any drive to go out and get one (of course, I also didn’t get a chance to play with one for several days either). I liked the Kindle a lot (I did get to play with one of those for a few days) and I want a Kindle, and I know that I will get one eventually, but I never felt the urge to run out and grab one. This phone? I want to run out and get one.
I think that the Nexus One is a great multi-tasker, I think that the user experience is great, and that it is a very simple and intuititive device to use. I think that I could use some of the camera apps to really invigorate my photography and that they will give me the opportunity (and excuse) to do a lot more of the playing around and exploring that I wouldn’t necessarily do with my DSLR, because the DSLR is so much more of a serious tool. I think that if I had this phone I would never again need to look at a purse and think “but can I fit a book in it?”.
Do I really have to wait until my AT&T contract expires in late July? I don’t know if I want to wait more then three more months. If the penalty fee isn’t too high, I might look into breaking my contract early.
I have in my possession a Nexus One.
I have been thinking about (more like planning on, really) upgrading my current phone considerably when my AT&T mobile contract is up in July and taking advantage of the “new contract discount” on a new phone. (Because I am thrifty like that.)
I had had my eye on the Motorola Droid. (Which would mean that I would need to dump AT&T in favor of Verizon and port my current phone number from the one mobile carrier to the other.)
One of my co-workers, who runs the mobile working group at work, told me that I should consider Google’s Nexus One. He has a very nice “library” of mobile devices that he uses for testing/developing mobile applications. Including a Nexus One. Which he gave to me to try out.
It is mine for the rest of the week. I can set it up with my Google account, add apps, and in short act like it is my own phone for the rest of the week. At the end of the week, I will restore it to its factory settings and give it back.
All I have to do in exchange is write up a review of it for him.
Major food holidays are always interesting here at Casa VanRoekel. Since we live fairly far from our families (4 hours drive, 5.5 hours drive, and 5 hours on a plane, respectively) we spend a decent amount of those holidays at home.
I don’t like to skimp on holiday food, so we often end up with a ridiculous amount of food for just two people.
- Hash browns (Hand grated by me. Hand grating a potato sucks.)
- Eggs over easy
It was all delicious.
And the of course there was also paska, and kolache, and jelly beans, and chocolate eggs, and the chocolate rabbit that I got for John that had foot-long ears (because he mentioned that biting the ears off a chocolate rabbit was one of the best things about Easter), and rice krispie treats that we made with melted peeps.
Two days later, and I am still full.
Johna and I took advantage of the suddenly warmer weather this weekend to start fiberglassing the boat that we (by which I mean John) have been building in the basement. (Yes, the secret is now out. We are building a small trimaran in the basement/garage and plan to learn how to sail this summer. Eventually we will get around to writing up the whole process here.)
The process of fiberglassing itself is pretty simple. You cover the your surface area of interest with a layer of resin, lay down the glass cloth, use brushes and paint scrapers to smooth out all bumps and wrinkles and to make sure that the cloth is completely saturated, and then you walk away and leave it all alone for a while (1-2 hours) until it has finished curing. Then you can trim the edges of the glass cloth, smooth them out with a bit of sandpaper, and move on to the next surface.
Glass cloth looks and feels like high-quality satin – heavy, smooth, nice sheen – and handles like silk – doesn’t stretch or give. It feels really neat. It also itches like crazy if you get any of the tiny fibers stuck to your skin. Which I guess shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since it is fiberglass after all.
Methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, the primary catalyst in the resin, is pretty vile, nasty, toxic stuff. So even though we really only use a very small amount of it at a time, this part of the build process is taking place in the garage, with the garage doors wide open, and several box fans blowing, all to ensure that we have maximum air-circulation and ventilation.
Some tips… Do wear disposable gloves. Besides being nasty and toxic and a skin irritant, the resin is super sticky, doesn’t really wash out, and will stick to everything that it comes into contact with. For similar reasons, do wear old clothes, do mix the resin in a disposable cup, do watch where you put things down, and do plan on discarding any paintbrushes you use to apply the resin after each use. (Just buy the cheapest brushes you can find.)
We managed to get one of the pontoons completely glassed. Now all we have to do is sand it down, apply another layer of resin to smooth out the surface, and bind the corners.
Then we get to do all of the above again to the second pontoon, and then to the hull.
For Christmas this past year, my Grandma gave me one of her antique glass pieces. This piece, in fact. A yellow, covered candy dish that her mother (my great-grandmother) had owned and that my Grandma could remember being used around the house when she grew up.
I like antique glassware, and I like antique glassware that has a family story attached to it even more.
The dish is on display on my coffee table (the cats are very good about leaving it alone) and is usually filled with pistachio nuts.
When my folks visited last weekend, they brought John and I an Easter basket with Paska, Kolache, sausage, red horseradish, some chocolate, and a bag of pink and yellow and cream colored Jelly Belly jelly beans.
I decided that I wanted to be festive and put the jelly beans in the candy dish. Then I decided that I liked the way that the late-afternoon light looked coming through the living room windows and shining on the glass, and decided to get out my camera. Then Percival came by to see what was going on.
Here is one of the dish sans kitty.