Saturday, November 29, 2008

I am capable of wonderful things!

Oh man. I just made Spanish chicken with rice. And it is. Amazing. It is absolutely mandatory that you guys try this recipe. It's seriously everything that a meal ought to be.

I only made a few changes to the recipe: I left the skin on the chicken (obviously), and therefore didn't add the second 2 Tbsp of oil after browning. I added cayenne pepper the salt and black pepper that I used to season the chicken, which added a really nice hint of spiciness. And because cans of tomatoes are 14.5 oz and not 16, I used 14.5 oz of tomatoes instead of 16 (and it didn't screw anything up).

Other than that, I pretty much followed the recipe completely. I used arborio rice, and in case you were wondering, a "capsicum" is a bell pepper. Pairing it with a really good bread would have been an awesome idea, but I didn't think of it when I was at the supermarket. But nevertheless, this is one of the best meals I've ever cooked. And it was super cheap, too! Literally the only downside is that it takes a while to cook, but you just have to let it simmer, so you can do other stuff. Anyway, there's plenty left over, so if any of you are in the area, feel free to stop by!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 which Danny gets to work

So I was supposed to talk to my boss over last weekend to discuss when I was going to be starting work, but despite four phone calls and two messages, I was unable to reach him. Couldn't get a hold of him on Monday either. So I figured I'd just start after Thanksgiving, and stayed up until about 3:30 on Monday night.

9:05 Tuesday morning, telephone rings. It's my dad, who apparently just talked to my boss (they're friends). He says, "Get up; Harold wants you to come in." So on some 5 and a half hours of sleep, I'm off to my first day of work! Great way to get started...

The job is pretty much in line with what I was doing last summer, which is pretty cool. My role is basically to satisfy my boss' curiosity about things that he doesn't understand very well, but he thinks might be important (historically, about the energy industry, and that seems to be continuing). Right now, I'm doing research on the electricity industry's modernization efforts to see if there are any opportunities for my firm to invest in. It's a little boring, but I've already learned a lot and it definitely fits in with my other research on the energy industry and climate change. So all in all, it seems like it's going to be a pretty decent way to spend a few months!

By the way...troll toll? Brilliant! (Just watched the It's Always Sunny finale...)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

North Korea Ho!

Here is a short list of what's been going on over here:

1 All 8th graders are little shits and should simply be put in cryostasis for that year.
2 I've started to do some calligraphy and it's been kind of sweet! I have no idea what I'm doing though.
3 My kids have been learning about Thanksgiving this week. They've been making leaves out of colored paper and writing things they are thankful for on them. You can't know the sense of validation I get from one 9th grader's leaf: "I am thankful for Sarah teacher because great preparing and nice teaching. first of all very pretty." I really did do a bit of preparing so they could make those colorful leaves. Oh, one of the 8th graders even wrote a short letter about how he was thankful for me and really sorry his "bad friends break the class" (meaning ruin class).
4 John is getting an award for one of the Yeoju English Stars programs we did! (YES is an English program held every other Saturday for low-income kids).

Lastly, I thought you might find it interesting that the South Koreans REALLY REALLY want reunification with North Korea, but so far that hasn't been possible. And now, North Korea is once again closing its border with South Korea. I did not understand the gravity of this until John and I went to the DMZ (demilitarized zone) two Sundays ago and learned a bunch about the history of it. By the way, Hogan, you were dead on about how the DMZ has served as a de facto wildlife preserve. The DMZ is home to several rare and otherwise extinct species of animals and plant life. I got a sweet tin camping mug souvenir and a red bandana with a map of North Korea on it, so I have proof I was there.

Also, I got a peek at North Korea! You are now looking at the largest flag atop the largest flagpole in the world. Pretty sweet, eh? (You might have to click on the image to actually see it)


Hello again everybody! Tiz that time of year again, when we all are supposed to turn into goldfish and eat way more than we should. So, I'm wondering what everyone will be doing for Thanksgiving. Danny, do Jews celebrate Thanksgiving in October like Canadians? Sarah, is there any sort of giant Asian bird that can substitute?
As for me, I'm headin' home to Racine. I'm bringing my little cat, Steve, along. So, most of my time will likely be spent preventing my parents' dog from having a little Thanksgiving feast of his own. When I'm not doing that I'll be dining on stuffing that I will be making myself (gasp!) and a chicken instead of turkey, because I'm just a contrarian that way.
Hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving and a delicious start to the holiday season.

Monday, November 24, 2008

George Bush in a poncho!

Thank you, world:

Once again proving that it's impossible to be unhappy in a poncho.


Facebook advertisement of the day:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

December 2nd: Everybody Gets (Kenneth) Layed!

Some of you may recall that at one point, I put together a brilliant list of party theme ideas which could be executed year around for drinking hilarity. I think it would make sense to post them here as the year goes on, with enough warning time for them to be executed properly, so that some of you guys might actually be able to carry them out.

The next party idea is for December 2nd, the anniversary of Enron's bankruptcy filing. The theme should be along the lines of a CEO's and corporate ho's party. In honor of Kenneth Lay, everyone should be given a lei to wear, and drinks should be in tropical corporate retreat style. Since Kenneth Lay died in 2006, some fond words should be offered in remembrance of this hero of the free market.



My climate change paper has been accepted for peer review at The Independent Review (a quarterly journal published by The Independent Institute)! Of course, it doesn't mean anything yet, but at least it wasn't rejected outright; that's a start, dammit! Hopefully in a few months, you'll be able to say that one of your college friends is a published philosopher...

A note for Muslims...

Yoga is officially off limits. So is being a tomboy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All this talk of food has made me hungry!

Danny, I found you the ultimate site for recipes:

Generate me a recipe!


...en que Nisse deja EspaƱita. this really where I´ve been living? Sigh....
I leave tomorrow morning! By this time tomorrow I will be nearly to chilly Chicago. Still sad to leave because I was just getting comfortable and had made friends here, my Spanish is borderline acceptable again, etc. But I´m looking forward to seeing those of you I will see, and to keeping the others updated on what´s going on in the upper midwest.

In honor of my return to the nation of my birth, I present Mr. Washington (still hilarious):

Goodbye and hello!

Portuguese fish stew!

Y'know, there's very little that's more satisfying than making delicious food in a traditional style from the Old World, and finding out that it's actually really easy. Tonight was Portuguese fish stew night! I started with this recipe from Recipezaar. I used 2 lbs of cod, substituted a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes for the whole tomatoes (given that the recipe wanted me to mash them anyway and I believe in simplicity), and added some oregano and sugar (to counter acidity as the tomato cooked) at the same time as the tomatoes went in (I put the salt and pepper in at the same time, instead of at the end of the recipe). The cans of tomato sauce that were available at the supermarket had slightly less than a cup, but whatever. And of course, while I didn't measure how much cayenne pepper I put in, it was almost certainly more than 1/2 tsp.

The product was frikkin' amazing, even right after cooking! I had two bowls and put the rest in the fridge to mellow overnight; I'm bringing it to my mom's for dinner tomorrow. I can only imagine how excellent it will be by then once the flavors have had some time to marry!

On the cost side, the most expensive part was obviously the fish; two pounds at $8.99/lb came out to $18. I had most of the other stuff already, and the ingredients I needed to buy (tomatoes, sauce, and green bell pepper) were of negligible expense. Luckily, my dad had an opened bottle of white wine in the fridge, so I didn't have to buy that. But given that it's a fish dish, white wine could be served alongside the meal.

Using the two pounds of fish, the recipe made almost 3/4 gallon of stew -- easily enough to serve a few people. You could probably serve it over rice to feed even more people for negligible expense, though I didn't try it.

Anyway, trust me; this recipe is definitely worth it. It's really easy to make, and is one of those meals that will make white people admire you for your worldliness.


Because I love you, Sarah...

Saturday, November 15, 2008 which Danny finds out that Leanne voted for McCain

There's really not much to say here that isn't conveyed in the title. I went out with Leanne (the girl from the sushi restaurant) and her roommate last night, and it was pretty fun. We even met a guy named Tim at the bar who turned out the be a libertarian (I think it might have been the first time I've ever randomly met a libertarian while at a bar!). So all in all, a good night. Except Leeane voted for McCain.

Given that she's clearly not consumed by an interest in politics, I see no reason why that has to have an effect on anything. I just thought I should put it out there. McCain.

The following is crass, yet hilarious.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Finally! My car odyssey is over!!

So I finally got myself a car, after an entire fucking month of trying. I ended up paying like $6,500 for a maroon-ish 2004 Suzuki Verona, which is a car that would never have occurred to me as a realistic option, but which was worth significantly more than $6,500. It has an almost certainly gas-guzzling V6 engine and an automatic transmission, both of which are negatives. But it's a car, and I can stop thinking about it! So hooray!!

I just figured I should share. I'll leave you with this: which Keith Olbermann continues to be wonderful, and Lindsey Lohan is even more ridiculous than Danny's father.

Admittedly I don't always love Keith Olbermann, he sometimes rants himself a bit over the line, but this is pretty fantastic:

As is this, in a completely sad way:

Special thanks to Klaus Lovendahl for the first video.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kung fu is almost as great as Brian Arndt

Top 5 most entertaining and awesome kung fu movies I've seen so far on the kung fu channel:

1) The Flying Guillotine

2) Duel of the Iron Fist

3) Avenging Eagle

4) Shaolin Temple (1982, not 1976)

5) Shaolin Abbot

Honorable mentions: Shaolin Mantis; Mad Monkey Kung Fu

Just in case anyone was wondering.


I should also note that in Four Riders, David Chiang karate chops a guy in the throat three times, and then strangles another guy to death with a telephone chord. And he's a good guy! which Danny cooks for an hour and a half, only to discover that he doesn't really like beef kidney

Yea...that's pretty much all there is to it. It's not terrible, but I don't really like it. However, the sauce was really awesome, so maybe try it with a different meat. (I guess this is why kidney only costs $1.50/lb...) which Nisse comes home, and things are re-examined..

Yeah, I don't really want to talk about it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

24 or 14?

I went out to the bars with people on Friday and Saturday night this past weekend, which, as you all know, is pretty unremarkable by itself. The strange part was that, for the first time in my entire life (including when I was using a fake ID), I was asked for a second form of ID. This happened not just for the first time alone, but also for the second, third, fourth, and fifth times.

Not only was I asked for a second form, but I was then grilled about my middle name, address, and birthday. At one unclassy place (a shed that happens to be red) the bouncer even turned to my friends and asked them what my real name was. Obviously I passed these tests, because I actually am Andy Stravers, age 24.

I understand that I look different than on my ID, because that was 8 years ago when I was 16. Does a beard and longer hair actually make me look younger? Does looking older actually make this class of bouncers wonder if I am too young? I wouldn't have thought twice about it if it had happened once or even twice, but it was a unanimous opinion amongst these gatekeepers of post-9 pm alcohol. Every bar. WTF?

On a completely different subject, I have realized that living with Wayne for the past three years has made me take bread completely for granted. It was simply always there by massive quantity and variety. I arrive home from grocery shopping with sandwich meat, brats, hot dogs, burgers, and other products that rely on bread, only to realize that I skipped past the bread aisle without a second thought. Tiz a sad day when bread is no longer free and abundant.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A baller dinner spread

So my friend Karen came over tonight to play dinner party, and we (I) made a truly triumphant meal. The food was really good, so I figured I'd share the recipes with you folks. We started with a Thai coconut chicken soup, and I pretty much followed the recipe except that I substituted a green chili for the jalapeno (mmm...spicy!), and it seems like there are cellophane noodles in there and I didn't put any in (and I only made a half recipe). I'd probably use a bit less fish sauce next time, too. Then we had roasted tofu with shiitake, soy, and ginger over baby spinach, and again I pretty much followed the recipe, except I used rice vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar.

I tried to find ginger ice cream for desert, but they didn't have any at the supermarket. They did have this really cool coconut sesame ice cream, though, and I definitely recommend it; it was delicious. I also wanted to make gingered gin and tonics to drink, but again I was met with failure. First, I rediscovered Connecticut Blue Laws, which prohibit alcohol sales on Sundays -- no gin. I decided to substitute vodka, and while the end result tasted good, it didn't taste like ginger at all (who would have guessed that vodka, lime juice, sugar, and tonic water would be good?!). The only thing I can think of to explain it was that I halved the recipe, and that meant halving the amount of ginger. But given that there was half of everything else, I really don't think that would explain it. Maybe the recipe sucks? This drink is so awesome in concept that I will have to figure out a way to fix it, dammit.

In any case, all things considered, it was a really successful meal. There was probably enough food for three people (if they weren't all big eaters), and even though there wasn't any meat or starch, it's 3:00 AM and I'm not particularly famished. It requires some ingredients that are pretty distinct to Asian cooking (fish sauce, coconut milk, and rice/rice wine vinegar), and a fair bit of time and effort (but nothing too complicated; most of the work is in prep). I already had some of the ingredients I used (particularly the booze), but I ended up spending about $40. I do have a meal's worth of food left though, so I'd say it was definitely worth it. If you're down for a solid semi-light Asian meal, this is a good one.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My dad is a ridiculous person, and Bacon beats Fries

So a few weeks ago, my dad was at a sushi restaurant called Tengda in Westport with one of his friends. His waitress was a girl named Leeane, a blonde ex-sorority girl from the town over who had just graduated with a degree in marketing from Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. How do I know all this about Leeane, you might ask? That's a good question.

My dad, being my dad, decided that Leeane was cute, and that I should meet her. And he told Leeane so, initially demanding that she call me on the spot, but eventually settling for her promise that she would text message me when she got off work. And she actually did! But though my dad implored me to go meet her, it turned out she wasn't available. So nothing came of it.

About a week and a half later, my dad was in the restaurant again with another friend, and Leeane was his waitress again. He demanded to know why she and I hadn't hung out, and she (almost certainly embarrassedly) pointed out that we had spoken, but that nothing had worked out. She text messaged me again, but it turned out she wasn't going out that night, and so again nothing came of it.

Fast forward to last night. My dad is leaving for a business trip to Israel, and I am to drive him to the airport. On the way, we stop for sushi, and at this point the staff at the restaurant even jokes with him about being seated with Leeane (of course, he is on a first-name basis with the restaurant's management). She comes over, and my dad says, "By the way, this is my son." We shake hands. He proceeds to demand that we hang out, and she points out that as the boy, it's my job to call her. He harasses her a little more over the course of the dinner, but she takes it in stride. On the way out, he stops into the bathroom, and Leeanne tells me my dad makes her nervous; I apologize, and assure her he means no harm. She wasn't really my type, but she was pretty and seemed nice enough.

So I text her later, pointing out that I think I owe her a drink, and we end up going to a bar in Fairfield. There's not much else to the story; we had a pretty good time, and I'll probably see her again at some point. But the moral is that my dad is very possibly the most ridiculous human being on the face of the Earth, and yet he somehow is a pretty good wingman.

In other news, Bob Bacon beat Matt Fries for a seat in the Colorado senate. Genius!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Art has no price

in which luck changes.

Two things, quickly because I have limited internet access:
1. oBAM!a! You have no idea how happy people are about this over here, although I really wanted to be back in the states just for that night, preferably in the middle of Grant Park in Chicago.
2. I probably have a job! I´m interviewing tomorrow with a family to be a live-in au pair, go figure--kind of came at the last minute when I was about to give up on finding something I could support myself on. So wish me luck!
Hope all are well, long witty post to come soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

uhhh....sorry about this. i'm just going a little crazy sitting across from this man.

A couple of conversations I had with Wilber, the super-Christian, 53-year-old western Pennsylvanian Republican who teaches high school English here:

Me: Wilber, are you sad about the election results?
Wilber: (obnoxiously) Well, I'm not overly happy about it.
Me: I'm sorry, I know how disappointing that is.
Wilber: Well, it is what it is.

later on....

Me: Hey Wilber, aren't you proud of your country for overcoming its historic racial prejudices and electing a black man as president?
Wilber: I have no problem with a black man being president.
Me: Of course you don't, you're not like that. But isn't it some comfort that even though your candidate lost, your country made history today?
Wilber: I have no problem with a black man being president. I'm no redneck. I just didn't want it to be Barack Obama. I would have voted for Colin Powell in the 80s if he had ran. (he repeated this like three times).
Me: I never suggested you would have a problem with it. In fact, in asking the question, I assumed you don't have a problem with it. I just thought that might be a ray of sunshine for you. It was for John McCain.
Wilber: Yeah, and you saw how the crowd reacted when he said stuff like that in his speech.

(if you'll recall they were booing and stuff, and mccain got pissed at them for it)

Okay, granted, I should have just left him alone and not tried to make him feel better, but...GAH! What a DOUCHE. Aaaand, then he starts talking about how all of Barack Obama's moral values are exactly opposite of his, and how he doesn't support gay rights because gays are not a minority and are not denied any civil rights, and how he's anti-abortion because he doesn't want to fund it with his taxes. (as if a child who is born to someone who can't afford the child wouldn't be supported by the state for much of his/her life) AND he teaches English and says "don't" instead of "doesn't" and "good" instead of "well".....allllll the time! Oh man, last thing: Yesterday, I found a Women of the Bible word search in the copier. How inappropriate could you possibly get. And he's the world's greatest mouth-breather - I hear him 100% of the time he is around me.

Wow that felt good. Thanks.

Regardless, yesterday was still absolutely exhilarating.

taste of madison

its been an exciting few days here in madison!

for the couple days leading up to the election there was more political activity than I've ever seen in one place. Voter registration was taking place everywhere, really- there were signs and flyers up, emails and radio spots, stands selling t-shirts and yard signs- and lots and lots of discussion. There was even a plane low flying around the city pulling an Obama flag.

Dan and I, here with no television, were listening to cnn on the computer and checking the sites often- all of a sudden, they called the entire west coast and Obama won it!!

We decided to blow off whatever else we were doing to go to a bar and watch the various speeches. We made it to pauls club just in time to hear most of McCains speech which was just a warm up (with a couple shots) for the speech to follow. Deciding the tv wasn't big enough in pauls, we booked it down to Brats (yeah, I know) and got a front row spot 2nd floor, won the flip on two leinies and watched one of the most anticipated speeches- and one of the best delivered.

After winning yet another flip on a pitcher we got the hell out of there (it was brats, after all) intending to go home but we got swept up in a huge march going on- capitol to bascom and all over the city- of students cheering and celebrating, playing music and waving flags.

I'm not kidding, all of bascom hill was packed with students! We were only one of thousands of celebrations around the world. Maybe, just maybe, I can be proud to say I am an american.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Pwn3d the GRE; It Pwn3d Me Back

So I'm trying to get my grad school applications out, and one of the things they want you to put on there is your GRE score. Except those bastards have yet to send me my scoring report. And apparently, it costs $12 to get them to tell you on the phone. Twelve dollars!

Now my mom decides that it's worth paying, so that I can send my applications in a few days earlier. Why? Who knows. So I call, and turns out that the entire thing is automated. I just paid twelve dollars to type a bunch of numbers into a computerized database and have it give me my score in a jerky computer voice. Pwn3d.

However, the computer had good things to say, so I'm not taking it too hard. My 700 on the verbal portion put me in the 97th percentile, and my 800 on the quantitative part put me in the 94th percentile. Effin' engineers, throwing off the curve. I also got a 5.5 out of 6 on the analytical writing section, which put me in the 90th percentile on that (I'm actually kind of offended by the suggestion that between my quantitative, verbal, and writing skills, I'm actually worst at writing relative to the rest of the population. That's horse poop!). But basically, I am l337 h@x0rz.

I can't handle this!

The election is so close, and I am so far away! By the way, the Republican from Western Pennsylvania I work with believes Obama is a Muslim and that he loves Islam more than America and wants me to be aware of it. We got in a fight about it, and he sits right behind me. Ughhhh!! The nerve. He just plopped this ridiculous e-mail forward on my desk. So inappropriate.

It's that time of the leap-year cycle...

...for an Election Day Drinking Game!!! I've been incubating this idea for a few days, and I think it's just about ready to hatch. Here's what I have in mind:

Before coverage starts, everyone has to pick a party. If someone picks a party that is not Democrat or Republican, they have to drink a bottle of Everclear. You should also print a copy of the CNN election map.

One sip every time...

A state is called in favor of the opposing party (make it a gulp if it's one of the states designated in yellow on the CNN election map)

You hear one of the following words or phrases:
  • Real America
  • Washington insiders
  • Failed policies
  • Maverick
  • My friends
Someone mentions:
  • William Ayers
  • Jeremiah Wright
  • Joe the Plumber (make it a gulp if they mention his record deal)
  • Obama's grandmother
  • Robocalls
  • Sarah Palin's clothing
  • Race as a factor in the election
  • Small town values
  • The Bridge to Nowhere
  • Scranton, PA
  • Riding the train
Someone is interviewed on the subject of exit polls

Tina Fay appears on the screen (make it a gulp if she is being interviewed live)

A candidate is shown committing an obvious gaffe

A beer commercial is aired

One gulp every time...

Barack Obama is accused of being (make it a sip if it's only someone talking about someone else's accusations):
  • A Muslim
  • A terrorist
  • A Socialist (make it a sip if he's only accused of supporting Socialist tax policies)
Sarah Palin's experience in energy policy is used to support her foreign policy credentials

A state goes for the opposite party indicated on the CNN election map

The news network has technical difficulties



Do you really want this man steering our country?!

Return of the Kinder

The supercalifragilistic, but not expialidocious, John Kinder returns for a second interview:

MFL: Did you have to do an internship before you went? And if not, would you recommend doing one?
Kinder: No, and no not really. I have no experience, and I'm getting straight-A's and loving school.
MFL: Solid. Is it expensive to go?
Kinder: Yes, very. But they work with people to check any and all forms of scholarship/financial aid that are available to applicants. I think most people have the actual cost of the school cut down by like 1/2 or 2/3, unless they're from wealthy families.
MFL: Excellent. Thank you, sir.
Kinder: Tell her to really check reviews and the backgrounds of all the schools. Some don't have good reputations. Mine had a bad reputation online for some reason, but everyone in California recognizes it as a great institution.
MFL: If you see reviews online, how do you tell whether they're to be trusted?
Kinder: Tell her to call them and express worry that they have a bad reputation, and see how the respond, e-mail chefs that went there, etc. They list their good graduates. I gotta jet, but tell me where she's looking and I can ask my school.
MFL: Okay, solid; thanks.

So there you have it.

Breaking News!

I had no idea...

On an unrelated note, what was everyone for Halloween, and are there photos?

Sunday, November 2, 2008 which Danny lobbies for culinary school

So Nisse:

I talked to the illustrious Jon Kinder (not sure if you know him; the others do), who is at California Culinary Academy, about what he would say to someone considering going to culinary school. Below is my interview with him (edited for clarity and grammar).

MFL: If someone were considering culinary school, what would you tell them?
Kinder: That it is a really great time, and if it's someone who has not enjoyed college because of the lectures, etc., it is great because it's all hands-on. It's pretty much kick-starting my academic career.
MFL: Is it a lot of pressure?
Kinder: No, it's not a lot of pressure. At least at my school, all the teachers are great and funny, and they really help you out -- lots of positive reinforcement, combined with honest criticism.
MFL: Do they usually place you in a good job, or is it tough to do something with it afterwards?
Kinder: With my school, and I think most others, the final two months are an externship, where you apply to work in fancy restaurants, cruise ships, etc., and that is a good networking opportunity that will help you find a good job afterwords. I mean, it's a technical school, so they have really good job placement departments, and tons of opportunities for networking. Some chefs run catering companies and will hire you for weekends, etc., and the school has weekend adventures to wine country and other things like that. So you really can immerse yourself into the culture if you feel so inspired.
MFL: That's tight; I wanna go to culinary school, dammit.
Kinder: Yea, I really recommend the one I'm at: California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
MFL: Solid; I'll definitely pass that on. Thanks.
Kinder: Word.

Hopefully that's helpful!