Tuesday, February 27, 2007

And now, for your viewing pleasure, an unflattering picture of Me, drinking. Circa 2004. I still use that same stupid keychain.

In contrast, my promising start. I'm in the shadows on the right. That's my little sister on the left.

Finally, an unflattering picture of Jer and me at a Moroccan restaurant. Don't forget your towel!

K, I lied. One more for old time's sake. Jer and me in Monterey, shortly after we started dating, almost 7 years ago. Note his eyebrow ring and the remnants of my perm.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I experienced shopping bliss this week, and I experienced it at Daiso. Recently one of their stores opened at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle and I went to check it out with a friend.

Oh my goodness. It's like, a Japanese dollar store. Everything is super cheap -- most items are $1.50 -- but doesn't necessarily look or feel cheap. I bought several plastic containers for holding lunch, an awesome pair of salad tongs, a couple placemats, an egg mold, an egg slicer, "stainless steel soap," and a few other things. They had all sorts of beautiful plates and housewares, kitchen supplies, tools, toys, and packaged food. I even dragged Jer there on Saturday, but he wasn't nearly as excited.

Part of my excitement was seeing so many new things and trying to figure out their purpose. Like the thing I think was for cleaning a toilet, based on the picture, but looked like a heel insert. Or the green onion cutter thing, which -- as far as I could tell -- scrapes the base of the vegetable, creating thin strips. Or the plastic hanging thing for the refrigerator to keep your condiment packages in order. I didn't realize how jaded I was in stores where I could understand the words on the packaging. At Daiso, shopping is an adventure.

Also this weekend, I went to hear a free talk on Buddhism and in particular learn more about my selfish mind. Obviously I have a lot to learn on the subject, since all it takes to make me happy is a dollar store and a wall of plastic food containers ripe for the plucking.

I found it an interesting talk though, despite my making light of it. The number one question it raised was: How can I be a better friend to the world? And the answer seemed to lie in managing expectations, intentions, perceptions, and breath.

Wait. Should I have spoiler coded that? I hope I didn't ruin any mysteries of the universe for you. Ruining mystery is probably contrary to my goal of being the world's buddy.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

O happy day!

On this glorious day in the year 2007, I announce that I have paid off my soul-sucking photography school loan! An educational loan which began humbly with an interest rate of 4%, it quickly blossomed to a high of 8.80%.

Beware the false promises of financing when a school is courting you, I say, beware. For one day you will look and see you owe the equivalent of a mid-sized Sedan with nothing to show for it but a few boxes of slides and a Nikon F100.

Only one school loan left! But its rate is fixed at 3.75% so I can't complain about it too much. w00t.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I started the day with coffee and rice. I ended it with a dirty martini and cheesecake.

Sometimes I think I say I don't know what I want because I'm too much of a coward to go after what I actually want. Does that make any sense? Also, I think if a 10 year old version of myself could travel forward in time and give me the what for, it would find me an exceedingly silly person. Indeed. I would probably even be disgusted with myself.

If time keeps going so slow and so fast at the same time I will be forced to go back to bed. And stay there. How's that for an ultimatum?

Don't answer that.

Monday, February 19, 2007

One of the things we did in Port Angeles was watch "Pan's Labyrinth," which I enjoyed. It played in a small theatre, upstairs with no doors, just a stairway and a hall. The overhead lights never came on; the path was lit by small bulbs tucked in the floor and the glow of the preview screen. The seats reclined however, and were staggered sufficiently to read the English subtitles, and that was enough for me.

Three high school age guys plopped down in the front row, feet on the seats in front of them. They didn't exactly look like they were up to good. One chose his seat directly in front of a smallish girl, blocking her view minutes before the start, which is just plain rude when there are other seats. I instantly disliked them.

At the end, as the theatre emptied I overheard one of the guys say, "You know, I think it was even better the second time."

Now that I didn't expect.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

So, Port Angeles. That's where I've been. Olympic Peninsula. Red Lion Inn. Yep. Port Angeles.

Let me start by saying the people were friendly and welcoming and all around awesome. Everyone said hello, was polite, no complaints about the people. And the food? Tasty. I had some of the best Mexican food I've ever had at a little place called Hacienda del Mar and then excellent Italian the following evening at Bella Italia. Also, some fine dark beer in a tiny little bar.

Our hotel was well situated downtown, within walking distance of just about everything, right on the water. Except... the hotel. Not a fan of the hotel. Our room was missing the promised microwave/refrigerator. All but two of the ice machines were broken -- and one you couldn't access after 9pm -- and the noise... damn the noise. We left a day early because of the noise.

Kyle and Drew? I don't care who you are or why you can't remember your room number is 253, I really don't. Just shut the fuck up, already. And stop playing with your basketball outside my room. P.S. I hate you.

We meant to go wine tasting, we'd even purchased our tickets ahead of time, but that didn't work out either. So, we're home. Explored out. Although I hold out hope -- not much -- that Jer will join me in going to a bar tonight, but I seriously doubt it will happen. I could go by myself but that's probably not a good idea either.

I tell you what though. It is good to be home. Even if it meant almost getting creamed on the West Seattle Bridge by someone who doesn't believe you should have to look before changing lanes. The end.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

February 13, 2007 View of the Washington Mutual building from my apartment

Sunday, February 11, 2007

the bodies exhibition

Last Wednesday I went to Bodies... The Exhibition at 800 Pike Street. The exhibit was extended through the end of April, which means you still have a chance to see it yourself, plus it probably won't be too crowded since we're well into its run.

Now I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew there would be actual bodies posed in interesting ways, with and without skin, but I had no idea the level of artistry involved. It was reverent. You could see the amount of attention and skill that went into the exhibit, from each exposed specimen down to the words on placards next to the specimens.

I also indulged in the audio tour, which was well done and easier to follow than some of the printed descriptions. My mind has the tendency to wander when standing next to a statue that isn't a statue and I wanted to look closer but still learn about what I was looking at. The audio tour allowed me to do both. The audio tour also included a childrens' version as well as an adults' version.

My favorite room was the cardiovascular area, where they used a process called corrosion casting to insert a polymer into the veins and then dissolve the tissue around it. The result was true art. All that was left was the trail the blood followed, but it no longer looked like blood, just red flowers or ferns sprouting, and the way they were lit was amazing.

I came out of the Bodies Exhibition amazed and impressed by the human body. I think everyone with an interest should try to go. I've never seen anything like it.

Only one point in the exhibit did I feel faint and it was entirely self-induced. A sign on the wall said, "Now take a deep breath," before rounding a corner. I started to panic. What could possibly be on the other side of that wall that I need to take a breath for? What monstrosity? What abomination?

It was the respiratory room. And yes, I felt a little silly.

Another bit that stayed with me was the body that was cross-sectioned in the way that an MRI takes cross-sections. Each section was on its own glass plate, and the plates were spaced apart in order to create an impressive overall view of the human body.

One of the last rooms is the fetus room, but you're warned before you enter and given the opportunity to bypass it if it makes you uncomfortable. I found it fascinating.

With the coupon I paid about $25 for the ticket (including service charges and the $1 will call fee) and $6 for the audio tour, which was a phone shaped device you punch numbers into and hold to your ear. It took me about an hour and fifteen minutes to go through the whole thing and I read most of the descriptions and listened to all the audio.

This exhibit is a tremendous learning opportunity and I'm grateful I was able to see things I've only ever seen in books before. That alone was worth the price of admission.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

market trends

I've lived in West Seattle for about a year and a half, but for some reason never felt the need to shop at Metropolitan Market. Probably because I figured it would be exactly like Gelson's and since I gain sustenance primarily through ingesting Lean Cuisine and turkey hot dogs, what would be the point?

Oh there would be a point.

Owning fancy cookware has opened my eyes to all sorts of possibilities. I may have skipped through the market, I know my eyes went wide, and I forced Jer to stop a lot. He said, "I've never seen you like this." But you know what? I got my cheese! After the Cheese Festival last May, I've been obsessed with finding Seastack and wouldn't you know it? It was front and center in the cheese section in its little round wrapper for all the world to see. And then? Next to the cheese? Three kinds of Salumi Salami all packaged up and ready for me to whisk off into the night.

We went with the Mole Salami and the regular.

Yes. That'll be on the quiz later.

The deciding factor in our inaugural visit was macaroni and cheese. I wanted to pick up some Gruyere and Panko and figured that'd be our one stop shop. But oh, so much more. Sooo much. I salivate just thinking about it.

I still have to figure out where cilantro is kept. (Not for the mac, in anticipation of the karahis' arrival.) I saw all the other herbs and leafy things, but I didn't see that. So I came home and looked up cilantro on the internet and learned (I bet you already know this and I am once again late to the party) that coriander is the seed and cilantro is the leaf on the same plant. Isn't that endlessly fascinating? I had no idea!

And then I read Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking where he also mentioned the cilantro/coriander connection. I go my entire life blissfully ignorant and then twice in one night I learn the same fact.

We also went to the Charlestown Street Cafe for dinner for the first time, which was a treasure trove of comfort food and excellent service. I very much enjoyed my Mexican potatoes. The end.

Friday, February 09, 2007

I am taking the slightest of breaks before I push my nose against the grindstone again and rub all the skin off my face. I will be very happy when this day is over, when this project is over, and I don't wake up at 5am thinking about it or having dreams about it or eating lunch at my desk so I can get that one last thing in under the wire.

Maybe this weekend I will make macaroni and cheese.

I should probably walk around the block to clear my head, but I'm afraid if I stop much longer all the thoughts will fall out.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

vittles versus vitals

I bought 2 Passports for the Woodinville Weekend so I may properly experience wine country in the most efficient way possible. So far my favorite local winery is the Columbia Winery, but I am open to competition. Fair market and all that.

And to continue the flurry of links, tonight I'm seeing the Bodies Exhibition, which happens to be one block from where I work. Jer says he may pick me up for dinner after, but I warned him that experiencing all the corpses may alleviate my appetite. I am open to being open minded about vittles, though if the corpses make me hungry then I probably have bigger problems. Like the types of problems zombies have.

I decided to go by myself because I'm better at focusing when I'm alone. I don't worry about how the people I'm with are reacting or if I've left them behind or whether the parking meter is running down. I catch the details. And I think this is the sort of thing you need to really give your attention to. It'll be an experience, good or bad, which will speak to the core of my being. Something I'll remember for a long time.

Plus I had a coupon.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

cha cha karahi

First! The meatloaf turned out excellent. Moist, but stays together when you slice it, and very tasty. If you're interested, it's from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, which I plan to invest in shortly. The only change I made is I left out the green peppers because our grocery store was out, utterly and completely. How does that happen?

Second! I bought a set of 3 Le Creuset karahis. Mostly I bought them because I'd never heard of them before, and when I did some research I thought damn, I like curries. And I want to make chicken karahi. I could totally do that. I found a bunch of recipes to make sure it wasn't a huge mistake and then I bid on them and then I won. The end. Or rather, the beginning. Of culinary awesomeness.

I have used nearly all my new pots and pans and it is very exciting. I think maybe too exciting.

See one reason I went for the karahis is that I'm tired of cooking plain ol' chicken breasts in the oven. I am desperately seeking spices. I want to experiment. I want to take risks! Only now we have too many leftovers and I have to wait until we catch up before I make anything else. Or my stomach explodes.

And now and also, after 3 treatments with oven cleaner, the grill is looking mighty fine. I've never had a grill before. I promise to treat her right, hand to gawd. And she will sear nice thick lines into the meats I place upon her. And it shall be good.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

happy superbowl sunday

Yesterday was mostly not productive. It started with a hangover and a lot of hours on the couch watching Groundhog Day and trying to feel human again, though mostly I just felt guilty for not going into work. I know I'm in the final stretch and I have a lot to do -- hell, it consumes every other thought -- but I just couldn't get it together. You could say I self-sabotaged for a day without FrameMaker.

Mid-day I grabbed forty winks (as my grandmother called it) and felt well enough to leave the house. So Jer and I went grocery shopping! I bought ingredients for making Paul Prudhomme's Cajun Meatloaf, fried chicken, and a beer/cheese dip. After putting all the groceries away, I took a brief break to watch an hour of Scrubs and then I -- with some prodding -- pulled down the cutting board and the fancy knife and trimmed bits of fat off the boneless skinless chicken breasts and then dumped all two pounds of chicken (sans fat) in a ziploc filled with buttermilk.

Also, yesterday, I attempted to clean my "new" Le Creuset square skillet grill with oven cleaner. It arrived in slightly worse condition than I expected -- seasoning is one thing but a random white circle smudge another -- and a lot of the gunk is coming off nicely. I'm on my third treatment with the oven cleaner.

I plan to grill slices of the cajun meatloaf when it's clean enough. I think it will be a flavor explosion or a taste sensation. Jury's still out.

Today is a big day; I have a lot planned. I need to crack open FrameMaker and log a couple of work hours, fry two pounds of chicken, bake a meatloaf, do a load of laundry, finish cleaning off the grill, and hang out at my friend's Superbowl party. I may even use my fry cooker for the first time ever, which was a gift two Christmases ago and I have been thwarted in all my attempts by constantly running out of vegetable oil. I usually just use the big heavy cast iron skillet I inherited from my grandparents. It uses far less oil.

So, food and work, work and food. At least today I am not hungover, however, it is definitely time for coffee.

P.S. Jer accepted a job offer in downtown Seattle. He starts February 20. Yay!