Warm Weather Hibernation (?)

•November 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

After spending a lot of time without writing on this blog, I realize that I miss it more and more every day.

Recently, most of my writing has been done on comment sections of articles and Facebook, neither of which give me a chance to truly flesh out my ideas.

That said, I will be restarting this blog with a fury none may have ever seen. No diary entries, just fact/opinion essays on subjects that affect me and the world around me. It’s like turning on a Mac computer and hearing that orchestral sound. I’m back!

Coming to Fruition

•February 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s truly awesome when plans come to fruition. All that hard work, sweat, tears (in some cases) adding up to success.

I’m of course talking about a couple of things: my sister coming to visit, my dinner party going without a hitch, and a good Valentine’s Day.

My left shoulder is finally healed from the trip I made to the grocery store on Saturday where I ended up getting 61 pounds (I weighed it when I got home) of groceries and carrying it back from the Harris Teeter a mile back to my apartment. Near the end, it did become a struggle!

The dinner party did not go as planned, as my attempts to clean my apartment, get groceries, and prepare the food went with a few hitches. For one, I had bought dry chickpeas that day and started boiling them. They took… forever. Three hours, in fact, before they softened up enough to be pureed in with the rest of the ingredients for the hummus. Luckily, my sister arrived at the party in time to help me set up everything else. I was able to get the brownies and roasted/curried nuts done, and was in the middle of preparing the chicken for the chicken cordon bleu when the first guests arrived. Not thinking properly, I answered the phone (hooked up in my apartment for the doorbell) with chicken covered hands. Yes, I know, gross. And at that point, the party was on!

I was still stressed, running about the kitchen (which only has about 20 square feet of room) getting this ready and that cooked, when one of my friends chipped in to help. Haha, he works next to me at my job too, so we were used to working in close quarters! With his help and my sister’s help, we got most of the food out to my guests. After the rest of the chicken cordon bleu was cooked, all that was left were the corn soufflés. I don’t think I’ve ever made something so fast, with lightning quick moves to separate all the 6 egg yolks, then get the mixture ready, and lastly put it in the oven. My friend asked me, “Hey is there anything else I can get you?” and I immediately said “A beer.” It was definitely satisfying.

The food ended up being a hit once it had gotten to everyone. It went well with the assortment of wines that everyone had brought. On a side note, my fridge is again filled with alcoholic beverages. Once the corn soufflés were ready, everyone loved them. I had the Olympics on for people to watch (muted) from time to time, with conversations pausing when a crazy trick was made in moguls or a crash in speed skating. With the moguls, I think everyone that watches it feels the pain in their knees from the competitors!

All in all, it was a great party. Lessons were learned about preparing food ahead of time, but a lesson from my previous party was also learned. There was absolutely no parking chaos to be had, as I was recommended a certain church parking lot by my dad and it worked out perfectly. Another lesson: before boiling chickpeas, soak them in water the night before!

Sunday I spent with my family, showing my sister the Kettler and even watching the end of a Challenge Cup game (junior women’s hockey) that had some hard hits but a lopsided score (an 11-1 beatdown). I eventually made it to my parents’ house for the first time since the snowpocalypse. I would spend 5 hours (with a break in the middle) shoveling out a parking spot in a 4 foot tall snow bank. I have finally stopped feeling sore from that a full day later.

Picked up the game Tatsunoko vs. Capcom Ultimate All Stars and I am absolutely loving it! Basically if you’ve never heard of the game it’s exactly like the Marvel vs. Capcom games with 2 on 2 tag based gameplay. The characters and environments, however, are made in complete 3-D with cel-shading. I was really happy to recognize some of the old Tatsunoko anime characters that I have only seen at past Otakons where I had no idea who they were at the time. There’s a lot to unlock in this game, so I’ve got a lot to do with the game!

This weekend was absolutely awesome, but now I must get to bed for another day of work. Here’s to another good set of days!

Currently listening to (and watching): Tatsunoko vs. Capcom Ultimate All Stars

Snow day? Not at my workplace!

•February 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In the middle of the blizzard aptly named “Snowpocalypse” here in Arlington, VA, I still find myself going to work.

No complaints here, as I get paid hourly and need the money. But still, I find it amazing that even though my office was closed (heck all the offices in my building were closed), we still opened up the mailroom. Now for me, it’s just a 10 minute walk (make that 15 in the snow). The craziest part: my supervisor lives in Richmond and still made it to work this morning! With the Metro service being all out of whack, barely anyone was able to make it to work today. Tomorrow isn’t going to be any better, as we’ve got yet another wave of snow coming. But rest assured, I will be going to work Wednesday morning!

During the midst of the snowstorm on Saturday, I absolutely had to go outside and do something, so I took a walk. Well, more like an excursion as the sidewalks were covered by over a foot of snow! I made the grocery store (Harris Teeter) my waypoint and was surprised to find that Glebe Road had become a pedestrian street! Other than the occasional 4-wheel drive vehicle, it was completely devoid of cars. People were walking in the street because it was the only ground that had been at least partially plowed, and seeing a plow was a rare sight. I took my camera with me to record what I saw, and I can honestly say that Snowpocalypse is a good term for what happened. Everything save for a few local restaurants and grocery stores was closed down. I went into the Harris Teeter to get some groceries, and though most of the supplies were there, going to get bread or milk I was met with near empty shelves. Correction: everything but skim milk was nearly gone! The skim milk was almost untouched, and I chuckled to myself that “Yes, this is America, none of that skinny stuff!” That said, I was able to get my groceries and by the time I got out of the store, the snow had finally stopped falling.

After making it home, it came time for a practice cooking session to get ready for the upcoming dinner party. I decided to make Chicken Cordon Bleu, and it was to be my first dish that had to be breaded. I prepared everything, actually quite easily save for folding the chicken over the ham and cheese. Then when it came to cooking it in the skillet, things took a different turn.

I had preheated the skillet to medium-high (as per the cooking instructions), and started to cook the chicken, when I noticed smoke starting to come up. Confused, I took a step back from the stove and to my dismay I saw a piece of food that had fallen underneath the heating coil, on fire. It was a little piece of food (broccoli) that I had from cooking a broccoli and cheese omelette for breakfast that morning, and it quickly burnt out. Since I didn’t want to burn the chicken, I stayed to cook the rest of it and then turned on the stove exhaust fan, then ran to my windows, threw them open, then ran to my closet, got my fan out, and plugged it in and turned it on high at the edge of the kitchen. My apartment was a bit hazy, but not enough luckily to set off the smoke detector. Ah, what a nice crisp breeze I felt after some time! By the way, the chicken breading was a little darker than I had hoped, but on Sunday I went through everything and cooked it better. I think I’m ready for the dinner party.

More snow on the way? Bring it on! I know one person who’s still going to work!

Currently listening to: Dirty Old Man – Miss Li

Did That Really Happen?

•February 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

That thought ran through my mind as I tried to fall asleep Sunday night, and still it remains!

Friday night I went to bed a little early so I could watch the Australian Open final between Serena Williams and Justine Henin at 3:30 a.m. It was a struggle, but I watched with dreary eyes a magnificent match between the two players, the momentum swinging back and forth every few points in some cases. Upon Serena’s victory, my sleepiness started to return and I drifted off, just pushing the power button on the remote before my conscious was overtaken. Later Saturday morning, I woke up and it truly felt like watching the match was a dream.

Saturday I was surprised that so much snow had fallen. I remembered seeing a forecast (channel 9 – WUSA) a few days before that showed the DC area only getting a “light dusting.” I also remember that forecast because down near Richmond they had instead of a snowfall measurement a graphic that said “Hammer Time.” Yes, luckily the weathermen have a sense of humor! I headed out for some errands, taking the Metro down to Alexandria, intently watching the snow falling outside. I wasn’t bothered by the cold, and one of my favorite things is going on a walk when it’s snowing. Snow flurries = lava lamp for me! We ended up getting about 6 inches of snow, for which I am still happy. Later in the day, I headed into DC to hang out with my friend Mike, and that’s where the best story happened.

Hanging out with Mike and a couple of his friends, we decided to go to Town. I had been there once before, but they told me there was going to be a drag show. I’ve never been to a drag show, and it looked like fun, so I was in. When we arrived, they were about to start the show so we quickly grabbed some seats. I can honestly say that the drag queens were very entertaining, as even the hostess had dressed in a snowplow suit for the weather outside! Note to self: never tell anyone it’s your first drag show! I learned this because one of Mike’s friends upon hearing about my “drag show virginity” went up to the hostess and told her. I saw him walk up to her, and I definitely got a little nervous when they were talking and looking at me from far away. So everything seemed fine as the next drag queen ended her act, when suddenly the hostess announced:

“So, I hear we have a virgin in the audience!” [she points at me] “Bob, get up here!” [she motions with her finger]

I think I was too confused to have any stage fright, but I slowly walked up to the stage and the hostess asked me, “So, how are you liking your first drag show?” All I could say was a “I think it’s pretty awesome.” Then, she told me to announce for the final drag queen act of the night, and let me tell you, I was worried I’d say it wrong (and you don’t mess up a drag queen’s name)! I uttered into the microphone “Shaquela Lee,” and my work done, somehow got back to my seat. I gave my friend a pat on the back, and couldn’t help but laugh because I’ve definitely never experienced that before!

Sunday I was pretty sore from dancing for who knows how many hours, so I took it kind of easy. I did, however, get to work on planning the dinner party I will be having about 2 weeks from now. After some research and consulting in my “Joy of Cooking” book, I decided to make the following recipes:
Appetizers/Snacks:

  • Half Moon Hummus
  • Beer Cheese Dip
  • Roasted/Curried Nuts
  • Veggies/Fruits/Chips w/ dip

Entrées:

  • Corn Soufflé
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu

Desserts:

  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (w/ peanut butter chips)
  • Winter Delight (shot of frozen hot chocolate mixed with Ice 101 w/ whipped cream on top)

It’s definitely going to be good! I’m excited for the party, but also because I’ve only cooked half the stuff on the menu! That said, I’m confident I can succeed in each dish, as I’ve planned out when everything needs to be made.

I still feel the Australian Open women’s final was a dream, and I can’t even fathom what happened at the drag show. But I can say, it was fun!

(Appropriately concerning the story) listening to: “She’s Got Me Dancing” – Tommy Sparks

Short week burnout

•January 30, 2010 • 2 Comments

I’ve got to make sure I get my sleep! By Friday, I definitely burned out and am in need of a good weekend to give me back some energy.

Of course, it’s not like I didn’t do anything either.

I must say, I’ve changed my sleep pattern so that I could watch the various Australian Open matches. While watching the Serena Williams match against Victoria Azarenka, I made the decision around 12:30 am that “if Serena looks like she’s about to lose, I’ll turn off the tv and sleep, but if she comes back to win the second set I’ll watch the rest of the match” during the second set. Of course, long story short I ended up staying up til 1:30 when the match finally ended! I’m going to watch the women’s final live (at 3:30 am here), so later tonight I will get a few hours of sleep so I can watch it.

Monday my beloved Wii was on its way to the Nintendo Repair Center up in New York. It had stopped reading discs, first only reading Gamecube discs, then deciding to just stop reading them altogether. During the past couple of days I brought out the old Gamecube (well, it was a bit dusty, so I’ll call it old) to tide me over while I waited. Good news, though, as today I found out that my Wii has been repaired and is on its way back to me! Even better, too, as the games New Super Mario Bros. and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers finally arrived. So far I’m stuck with just reading about the games and really want to play them!

My cooking skills have expanded, as I finally got to tackling the difficult egg soufflé. Having been driven to make one on my own was a result of the countless times I have gone to Panera for breakfast (spinach and artichoke egg soufflé). I had gotten for Christmas “The Joy of Cooking” cookbook, so this was the first recipe I chose. Well, I guess the first recipe was White Sauce, which was required for the soufflé, but it was pretty simple being only butter, flour, and milk. I added spinach to my mixture and successfully separated an egg for the first time. Once the mixture was complete, it was poured into the muffin pan I have (I was only cooking for myself, so I only made 2 cupcake sized soufflés). Paranoid that the soufflé would deflate, I didn’t set any alarms and frequently checked up on the soufflés through the oven window. Once time was up, I excitedly took the soufflés out of the oven, each one puffed up and ready for eating. Upon eating them, I realized I was a little overzealous on the butter, but they were absolutely delicious! Then I took my empty plate back into my kitchen, now the remnants of a battlefield filled with various pans/bowls/etc. that were all used in the process of cooking the soufflés. My next step for cooking? Dinner party!

Currently listening to: “Life Like” – The Rosebuds

30 miles for 30 degrees

•January 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Night bike riding is quite relaxing, I must say!

Tonight after work I was hell bent on going for a bike ride, regardless of the weather outside. Once I clocked out, all that remained in the office was a cloud in the shape of my body. I took to my old favorite: the Washington & Old Dominion trail. When I left, the sun had just set, so the lights went on.

Along the way, I was surprised to see so many other bikers and joggers out on the trail, with each sight of a floating light being another friendly reminder that others were enjoying the nice 30-40 degree weather (that’s Fahrenheit, folks) just as much as I was. Did have a close call at a street crossing. As I was crossing the street, 3 bikers all wearing black decided to cross in front of me and the only thing I was able to see to avoid them was the front reflectors on each of their bikes. A few expletive mumblings later, I continued towards my 15 mile halfway point, all the way out in Reston. It just so happened to be Michael Faraday Lane, which is also where the entrance to the Colvin Run mountain biking trail is located.

Once I stopped, I realized that it was a bit colder than when I had started, so out came the facemask. Upon putting it on, I almost had to take it off a couple miles later because my face warmed up so much! On the way back, there were less people to see, and with the moon mostly obscured by clouds I could only see the glow of a few animals who were out and about and the shine of the areas where there still remains snow. I finished off the ride with a trip through Ballston, and luckily I did not have any drivers beeping at me (this time).

Feeling pretty good about the ride. At no point did I feel really tired, save for a few hills that get the heart and lungs working a little harder. 30 miles is a decent ride for me, and it’s the longest (so far) this year. I’ve already got more people interested in biking, but they’re going to wait for warmer weather so I’ve got to make do for now. Haha, they’re missing out!

Currently listening to: “Oh No, It’s Love” – The Bicycles

Teaching expansion and a dinner party

•January 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

For the first time this year, I have the windows open and the slightly cool air blowing into my apartment. It’s nice to have some warmer weather!

First off, the best news (though there isn’t any bad news): starting this week, I will be teaching a computer learning class on Thursdays! After the 2 or so month process of trying to expand the computer learning class from just Tuesdays, I’m looking forward to having more classes to attend. Along with that, I’ve continued to learn to speak Spanish. One thing that has definitely helped has been asking everyone around me who speaks Spanish. Another has been practicing simple sentences with 2 of my coworkers who speak Spanish. Haha, one of my coworkers dubbed me a “Puerto-Rican-in-training”! This week I will be focusing on Spanish words relating to using computers, and that will really help with the class. I hope one day to be able to help people that don’t speak English without the help of a translator.

This weekend I attended a dinner party. To sum up the dinner part, it was quite delicious. And the party part was fun as well! But there was one thing that happened that was a sort of theme for the weekend for me. At the party, when discussing my sexuality (I’m bisexual), someone else made the comment to me that “you just haven’t completed the change yet.” I’ve heard this before, and in some respect it can be a sore spot for me. I acted nicely, and explained how I do have attractions to both men and women, but it’s something I’ve had to deal with in the past. I also had the opportunity to make friends with another person who is bisexual and closer friendship with a friend who was unsure of what to go by (I assured the person bisexual, because I asked about their attractions to men and women). There are definitely stereotypes that run in the straight community, but there are also stereotypes that run in the gay community, and bisexuals sometimes get the worst of it. It’s tough to deal with, but I don’t back down when people bring up stereotypes of bisexuals.

I planned on a Sunday bike ride, but those plans quickly changed as I wanted to stay dry today. I am looking forward to a bike ride this Wednesday along my old favorite: the Washington & Old Dominion trail. Haven’t decided on how long the ride will be, but it might be around 30 miles.

Monday will be busy because a lot of people are taking the day off, but I will be working because I need the money. This week should be busy, but fun!

Currently listening to: “This Tornado Loves You” – Neko Case (start at 0:15, and disregard the video)

 
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