Thursday, March 25, 2010

Curious Cooking Creations

When I was a small child, I was a very picky eater. I didn't like spicy food and anything with strong flavors. My favorite food as child was either baked chicken or fried chicken--still is to this day. If I didn't like what we were having for dinner, my mother would always make something else for me. And I loved her for it! She wanted to make sure that I ate something. She worried that I'd rather sleep than eat. Truth is, I'd still rather sleep than eat!

Of course, there were times when my mother asked my older sisters to make me something if I didn't like dinner, like a sandwich if I didn't want to eat soup. That used to make my sisters mad, because it always meant more work for them and I was spoiled. It's true. But I didn't care about that. So long as I got what I wanted, I was happy to be picky. But that all came to an end when I was 10 years old.

My mother had made lamb curry. I didn't want lamb curry for dinner. I complained that I wanted a sandwich instead. My mother gave me a look. Uh-oh. It wasn't the look that signaled I was about to get a spanking. That look I was very familiar with. But this look was unsettling all the same. Maybe she was tired or maybe she realized that I was really a spoiled brat, but she told me that if I didn't like what we were having for dinner, then I could fix something else myself. I was shocked! Say what?

I didn't know how to reply. My mother asked me what I wanted to eat. I was relieved, thinking that she would make me my sandwich. Boy was I wrong! When I told her that I wanted a fried egg sandwich, she told me to get the ingredients and she would show me how to make a fried egg sandwich! I was like, What? But she was serious. So that night, I learned how to cook a fried egg--even flipped it over myself! I was proud of my accomplishment, which kind of took the edge off the shock that my mother was no longer indulging my whims. But I enjoyed eating that sandwich while everyone else had lamb curry. I didn't know it then, but my chores had just expanded. My mother had decided that it was high time I started to appreciate the efforts that went into making a meal and learn some life skills.

The next day, my mother had me help out in the kitchen making dinner. We were having fish stew. Blah. I wanted pancakes. So after making fish stew together-and I learned how to clean and gut fish that day--my mother had me get the ingredients for making pancakes and told me what to do. And by the time I was done making my stack of pancakes under my mother's watchful eye, the stew was ready. And for the rest of my time at home, I would help make dinner. My brothers would join in to from time to time, but I was the one who mostly enjoyed working in the kitchen.

As we got older, we took turns making a meal during the week. When I was 12, I was old enough to make dinner for the entire family. I made my fave--fried chicken! And it was good! When I was 13, I started experimenting with ingredients. I was fascinated by recipes, curious as to why we use some ingredients and not others. I looked forward to my turn to do the cooking. My family were the unwitting test subjects in my cooking creations. Their reactions told me all I needed to know.

I'm just glad no one got sick, although, my mother told me to stop experimenting on the whole dinner and just set aside the experimental portion for myself! Some of my experiments were successful--like soy sauce and honey glazed fried chicken, delicious! Those became a family fave. Others were failures--like cocoa flavored pancakes--awful! Just gawd awful! I learned that unsweetened cocoa powder is not the same as chocolate powder! It was bitter, salty and not sweet at all! The only thing worse than my cocoa pancakes were the soy sauce pancakes! Even the dogs refused to eat them!

Nowadays, I actually like all sorts of food, especially the spicy ones! I love trying out foreign dishes and local treats. Over the years, I still love to experiment with food. A lot of it comes from trying to save time or substituting ingredients because I don't have what's needed in the recipe. Once, I ran out of sugar and honey when I wanted oatmeal. That's when I discovered the delectable taste of hot oatmeal with chocolate candy bars; which led to raisins in hot oatmeal.

Pineapple marinated and glazed pork is just as tasty when it's pan grilled on the stove top as it is when it's grilled outside! Same thing with pineapple chicken, meaning I can make it whether it's hot outside or freezing--not that I've ever let the cold stop me from grilling outside. Once when I was visiting some friends for Christmas in Chicago, we had a bbq! That was so fun and the food was amazing in all that winter snow! Nothing like grilled chicken, ribs, and turkey tails for Christmas dinner! Egg salad--just eggs, mayo, salt & pepper--in a crepe is delicious! Grilled cheese with tuna, yum! Ramen noodles with ground beef served over Doritos chips, so scrumptious! Sweet cornbread with white beef gravy is fantastic. Coconut milk syrup over pancakes or hot rolls is divine! No milk or creamer for coffee? No problem. Vanilla ice cream in hot coffee makes for a sweet, delightful, flavorful creation.

Of course, there have also been some spectacular failures. This morning, I was hungry for pancakes, but I was out of flour and eggs. I looked in the cupboards and found a box of cornstarch. Well, I have used cornstarch to make pancakes when I didn't have any flour. Naturally, I had eggs then. But then again, I've made pancakes without eggs before, so I figured, eh, why not and proceeded to make cornstarch pancakes without eggs. I was sure it would be all right. But I was wrong! It was terrible! Just horrible! Gawd! I may as well have taken a spoon and eaten the cornstarch right out of the box! I had to brush my teeth to get that awful soapy, bitter powdery taste out of my mouth! That's one more thing that I would never, ever make again.

Thankfully, I had some ramen noodles, which I cooked and drained, seasoned and served with melted cheese--the breakfast of champions! Mmmmm. If there's one thing I've learned from years of kitchen experiments, it's that you learn from your mistakes and move on to create better things, lest you're doomed to repeat your failures and end up with a horrible taste in your mouth and hunger that won't go away. It's kind of like life. You live. You learn. And if you're lucky, you have more fun and good food along the way.

Related Link:
 That offal taste
Easy Eats

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring and things

It's been quite a busy week for me as I try to enjoy spring. There were a few nice sunny days, including St Patrick's Day, that made going to the beach really nice. There were lots of people down here for Spring Break, the annual week long break from schools when college kids and young people flock to the beaches to swim, sun, and surf. It's basically a week long beach party. We didn't have Spring Break where I grew up (and it remains so to this day), but we did have beach parties, and I certainly learned to enjoy Spring Break from the first time I experienced it.

Sometimes, it can get crazy with the mix of alcohol and hormones. Everyone is out to have a good time. Most times, it's a fun event. But there are some trouble makers who like to show off and try to impress people with how cool they are by either doing stupid stunts--like diving off the pier (I actually know a person who broke his neck doing that and became a quadriplegic); starting fights--because they think they're so tough with their friends behind them; or just getting stupid drunk with no designated driver (and I've seen a lot of them get arrested or worse, crash into buildings and other vehicles, causing harm to others). I'd like to think that nothing surprises me now at Spring Break. But I was wrong.

I was shocked to be out on the beach with some friends near midnight, when we came across three 13 year old girls wandering the beaches! Their families were visiting the area for Spring Break, and the girls decided to go out late at night to mingle with the crowds. Bad idea! Really, where the hell were their parents? My female friends tried to gently tell the young teens to head back to their hotel, where it was probably safer. And we walked them to their hotel, which was about 2 miles from where we we met these kids! I have to say, I was appalled that their parents would even let them out this late! 13 year old girls have no business wandering strange beaches at night, where drunk college kids and trouble makers roam and party, doing some pretty adult things.

Okay, so I did sneak out of the house when I was 12 to hang out with my cousin and the older neighborhood kids. But my cousin was an older teen, and he looked out for me, making sure I wasn't going to get into trouble. Granted, we ended up doing some juvenile delinquent things with my cousin and his friends, but we never really went out to hurt anyone or ourselves. At least my cousin and the crew made sure I would get back home in one piece.

Some of my friends from out of town came down to hang out for Spring Break. So once again, I was playing host. That was fun going to the beach with them. I took my camera out there and took lots of pictures. Unfortunately, I found out Friday that my camera is now malfunctioning. I probably need a new one. So I'm going to have to research for a new one, hopefully find one that's waterproof and shatterproof. I fear all my adventuring may have been a little bit rough on my old camera. It's been to mountains and deserts, woods and hills, beaches and lakes, across continents and many other places. That camera is over 7 years old. But it was great while it lasted. Kind of the sunny days in spring.

It got really cold and rainy Saturday. So no beaches. And it got really chilly too at night. It's still very chilly right now. I'm trying to enjoy the cool weather, because in a month, the heat is going to start burning up my part of the world. It's going to get hotter and more humid as the months go along. And come June, it'll be hurricane season again til the end of September. But that's life--things happen, time moves on, and things change. We just keep on living and moving forward.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Be Inspired

Spirit in Motion-Paralympics Motto

In case you didn't know, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralymics started on Friday. I wish NBC would cover the events live, rather just do nothing but a delayed tape broadcast of a smaller part of the opening ceremony the following Saturday. I'm really disgusted with NBC and the International Olympics Committee. If they didn't want to broadcast the Paralympics, then there shouldn't have been any buying and selling of broadcast rights in the first place! I'm sure other local stations would've gladly broadcasted the ongoing Paralympic Games. Luckily, there is some live coverage going online, so I've had to go there to catch up on what's going on with the games.

How about that opening ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympics? Just fantastic and so moving! Magnificent job, Canada! Though the acts and performers were smaller in size compared to the winter Olympics, they made the experience much more welcoming and celebratory. Those children were so amazing and absolutely enthusiastic in their performances, cheering on the athletes and exciting the crowd.

I'm looking for my babies daddies; those mofos owe me child support!

And some of those performances were stunning! How about that break dancer Lucas (Lazylegz) Patuelli? His break dancing moves were spectacular! That dude's got some serious strength and awesome style!

And of course, my fave thing at the opening ceremony, the Parade of Nations!

These athletes came out in style with the hot wheels!

As you probably know by now, I'm a big fan of the Olympics. That passion extends to the Paralympics as well. Whereas I am excited and amazed by the feats of great athletes in the Olympics, I am inspired and moved by the incredible athletes of the Paralympics.

I had no idea what the Paralympics were until I was in high school. We didn't have that where I grew up; and there was really no media coverage. But I was aware of the Special Olympics, a totally different and separate event. In the Special Olympics, all participants get a medal, because they're all winners for their efforts. In the Paralympics, top athletes compete for gold, silver, and bronze in their fields, and some have set world records in their events, even qualifying for the Olympics!

Did you know that Brian McKeever, of Alberta, Canada, actually qualified to compete in the Vancouver Olympics in cross country skiing? The 30 year old is legally blind. He is a famous Paralympian, and he became the first Canadian Paralympian ever to qualify to participate in the Olympics. Two years ago at the Beijing Olympics, two female Paralympians qualified to compete--Poland's Natalia Partyka, born without a right forearm and hand, competed in women's table tennis. In China, where the unofficial national sport is table tennis (ping pong), they dubbed her 'The Respectable Lady' for her amazing skills, wowing the nation with her prowess. South Africa's Natalie Du Toit was a 17 year old favored to qualify for the Athens Olympics, only to lose her left lower leg when a car crashed into her on her way home from practice. But she adapted and made history as one of the first athletes to ever qualify to compete for both the Paralympics and the Olympics. These athletes are truly astonishing for their stunning achievements, and I can only imagine how many more of them will make it to the London and Sochi Olympics!

Though I wasn't aware of the Paralympics until I was much older, I was familiar with a separate, different event, the Special Olympics. When I was a small child, my family would often go to the Special Olympics to cheer the participants on. We had several reasons for going. My parents liked to volunteer a lot in the community, and I did enjoy going to the events. It was much better than the road and beach clean up projects my parents often took us to. Who wants to pick up trash on a Saturday morning? Saturday morning is designated cartoon time! The Special Olympics volunteering was much more fun for me. And for a short while, we had someone close who was in the Special Olympics.

One of my cousins was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. When I was a very small child, I remembered that my cousin could walk and run and jump when we played. He was just a few years older than me, and he was always nice to me. I thought that he was so cool; probably because we didn't fight as much as I did with my brother, who was just a year older than me. Just typical childish sibling rivalry. Whereas my brother sometimes didn't want me tagging along, my cousin let me hang out with him and his friends.

And as we got older, my cousin got weaker. He started to lose strength in his legs. By the time I was twelve, my cousin was in a wheelchair, unable to walk. He was in and out of hospitals a lot, and back then children weren't allowed to visit the ward. But I remember one time when my Mom sneaked me in through the back door and I got to hang out with my cousin while my Mom and aunt visited outside of the room. He was really happy to see me, and we had fun just talking and playing. He was blowing bubbles and I would try to either fan them to make them go higher or just pop as many as I could. We had so much fun that visit, laughing and telling each other jokes, talking about everything and nothing at all. It's one my favorite memories of hanging out with him. A month later, he started to lose strength in his arms. Soon after he got weaker and was hospitalized more. And when I started high school, his body could no longer contain his spirit and he passed away. He was just a few days shy of his 17th birthday.

When I heard of his passing that morning, I didn't go to school. Instead, I went up to one of my favorite spots on the mountain where I escaped to when I needed some solitude, to either cool off or just dream and watch the horizon. I needed to be alone. I went there to mourn. It was one of the few times in high school that I actually broke down and cried. I wished that I had spent much more time with him. And I wished that I could've done something more.

I've been a volunteer and supporter of the Special Olympics for most of my life. It's one of the few family traditions that I've kept. It's very rewarding and heartfelt for me to be out there doing something positive for someone, to see them smile.

In 1996, the Centennial Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, Georgia. I was fortunate enough to get a job working that summer in support of the Olympic games. It was an incredible experience! It was my first time in a big metropolitan city--one that had a train for public transit and places stayed open 24/7! I was able to watch the preliminary events when US was putting together their track team. And on days that we weren't working, I got to see some of the events that the company had access, like track & field, equestrian, and field hockey! I have to say, the Australian women's field hockey team was the sexiest team that summer! It was such an amazing experience to see the Olympics live and in person! And it was so much fun meeting people from all over the world who came to support the athletes and enjoy the games! For me, it was an impossible childhood fantasy come true! I was at the Olympics! What had captivated and thrilled me as a child watching it on tv was now a real life experience!

And when the Olympics were over, my company scaled down and asked for a few volunteers to stay behind and take down our temporary headquarters that was set up to support the games. I volunteered to stay. I was loving big city life! And I also volunteered for the Special Olympics when the company asked for some of us to go and show our support. It was so wonderful to see all these children participating. My friend and I were even assigned a little boy to look after and make sure he would make it to his event--a short race on the track. He was just 5, full of energy and so enthusiastic. He had cystic fibrosis. He was such a joy to work with, and my friend and I tried our best to keep him in happy spirits til the event was over and he was returned to his school bus. He had a big smile on his face as we waved him off, and he waved back before the bus turned on the road and left.

Later that night, I looked up what cystic fibrosis was, and I was saddened and horrified by what I learned. Back then, most people diagnosed with cystic fibrosis often passed away very young, just barely out of their teens. I was reminded of my cousin, and how short his life was. And I mourned for this little boy, knowing that the odds were so stacked against him. I mourned for his family. Every now and then, I'll go through my foto albums and stumble across the pictures from that Special Olympics in Atlanta. We were all smiling and laughing in those pictures, because we were having such a good time. And every time I see those pictures, I'd stop and wonder how this little boy is doing now, wishing that he was still full of enthusiasm and smiling happily wherever he is. I can only hope for the best. These days, they've made some progress in cystic fibrosis research. It's not a lot, but it has enabled some people to live well up the their 40s. And I'm hopeful they'll find a cure or that treatments get even better.

A few weeks after the Special Olympics, the company asked for volunteers for the Paralympics. My friends and I volunteered to go. It was my first time ever at the Paralympics, and it was one that I will never forget! It was an incredible event, such an emotional experience. I met so many great athletes who were doing such astounding feats!

I met so many wonderful people who inspired me. There were athletes with missing limbs from accidents or illnesses. They were fast and strong and skilled! They were running at amazing speeds with their metal prosthetics! They swam faster and stronger than most people who had all their limbs! The blind athletes were able to race while tethered to a guide! And those guides had to be in great shape to run those races! And they even had whistles and sounds to signal where the targets were so the visually impaired athletes could know where to aim and throw! Not just javelins and discus and hammers either. We're talking about shooting at targets with rifles and pistols! And they were damned accurate, too! There were even judo matches where those blind athletes kicked serious ass! I had known about wheelchair basketball, but I was stunned to witness wheelchair tennis! And there was a demonstration of wheelchair rugby, which is now an official Paralympic sport!

The Paralympics moved me because I was so inspired by these athletes. They lost limbs or were blind because of illnesses or accidents. Their bodies may have been altered, but their spirits and their determination were superhuman!

During the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 winter Paralympics, I felt so proud and moved as I watched those athletes march in to the applause of the cheering crowds. The American flag was carried by 30 year old Heath Calhoun. He is a retired army sergeant, a double amputee who lost both legs in the Iraq war. He will be going for gold in the alpine skiing event, and I will be cheering him on. He is but one of many Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who are taking part in the games. Everyone of them is a hero who sacrificed blood and body in service to their country. And now these heroes have found another way to continue to serve their country once more.

23 year old Toby Kane carried Australia's flag. He lost his lower right leg in car accident when when he was just two years old. He doesn't remember the accident, nor does he remember ever skiing with two legs. At 10 years old, he was discovered by talent scouts when he was skiing with his family on vacation. At 19, he was the youngest member of the Australian team four years ago in Torino, where he won a bronze in the Super G alpine skiing event. He's got a great chance at winning gold at the Vancouver Paralympics, where he is once again the youngest member of the Australian team.

There were so many heartfelt moments during the opening ceremony. And none was more poignant than seeing Terry Fox on the screen. When he was 18 years old, Terry Fox was diagnosed with bone cancer and had his right leg amputated. He learned that just a few years before, his chances of surviving cancer was 15 percent. Research had given him a 50 percent chance of now surviving his cancer. He realized then the importance of cancer research. The night before the surgery to remove his leg, he read an article about Dick Traum, the first amputee to complete the New York Marathon. It would inspire him to do something great. Terry Fox was horrified to learn how little money there was for cancer research. He decided to do something that would help raise money for cancer research. So being a great athlete, he decided to train for a marathon. He came in last place, but his efforts moved the audience and competitors to tears and cheers. And from there, he soon started his Marathon of Hope, where he would raise money for cancer research by running across Canada.

What started out as a small movement by one person, soon grew into a national event. People didn't understand him at first; many doubted his commitment. He even skipped taking a day off for his 22nd birthday so he could keep running. He encountered rough weather and mean drivers and rude people when he started his journey. But as as the days and miles went on, more and more people began to show their support. By the middle of his journey, he had achieved fame as people learned of his incredible story. Thousands turned out to cheer him and donate money. The Prime Minister and Governor General met with him. He also met many of his heroes and national icons along his journey.

Halfway through his marathon across the country, his cancer returned. He fell ill and had to be hospitalized. He had run for a 143 days, nearly 3,300 miles (5,300 km). He had raised almost two million for cancer research while he was running. And while undergoing treatment in the hospital, donations poured in and he managed to raise over 24 million dollars. He planned on recovering and finishing his run. But it was not to be. He passed away on June 28, 1981, just one month shy of his 23rd birthday. Though he had passed on, he left behind an incredible legacy that inspired millions of people and has raised over 400 million dollars for cancer research.

His parents carried in the torch at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympics opening ceremony. They lit the the other torches and helped select the person who would light the Paralympic cauldron. And that person was 15 year old Zach Beaumont from Delta, British Columbia.

Zach Beaumont is hoping to someday qualify for the Paralymics. He was born without a right tibia and knee joint. His right leg was amputated when he was just a baby. He is an avid snowboarder, cyclist, soccer player and swimmer. He hopes to compete in Paralympic snowboarding one day. I hope that the Paralympics include snowboarding for the Sochi 2014 winter Paralympics.

In 2012, the London Summer Olympics will take place. The Paralympics will take place there as well, coming full circle to their beginning. The founder of the Paralympic Games was Dr Ludwig Guttman. He was a gifted neurologist who fled Germany when the Nazis came to power. The British gov't asked him to set up the National Spinal Injuries Center in Stoke Mandeville near London. Dr Guttman believed that sports could be used as powerful tool in therapy, to build strength and self esteem. In 1948, on the day of opening ceremony of the the London Olympics, Dr Ludwig Guttmann organized a sporting event for the British World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries. The athletes competed in wheelchairs in various track and field events. In 1952, The Dutch sent athletes to compete, making the event international. By 1960, over 20 countries participated in the games, and the first Paralympics were held in Rome, right after the Olympics.

I am very disappointed and disgusted with the lack of media coverage for the Paralympics. These are incredible athletes doing extraordinary feats! I am hoping that the 2012 London Olympics will highlight the return of the Paralympics to their roots. I am hoping that media will offer better coverage of the events, giving the Paralympics the honor and respect it deserves. The Paralympics is a worldwide successful event, and it's coming home to its humble roots. The Paralympians are an inspiration and a shining example of the indomitable human spirit. The Paralymics show us what we are capable of, no matter how hard life can get.

I have to admit that my eyes started to water when I saw 15 year old Zach Beaumont climb up to light the Paralympic cauldron. I was suddenly reminded of my cousin. The death of my cousin reminded me that I had so much more compared to others, and that I can do things that other people can't. I really shouldn't complain about walking somewhere far, because guess what? I can at least walk there using both feet. The Paralympics inspire me to do more. If these heroes can accomplish such great feats of strength, skill, and speed, then I can do better, too. I can overcome hardship and obstacles, I can be tougher. With my two arms, I can be stronger, I can lift things higher. With my two legs, I can go farther and faster. With my two eyes, I can see clearer and know where I'm going. With a focused mind and a fierce spirit, a beating heart and a passion for life, I can be more than I ever thought I could be.

The Paralympics is a testament that great heroes are not defined by how they look but by their great deeds. It is not our bodies that limit our potential; it is our mind and spirit that carry us farther and beyond the impossible. It's not just strength and speed that defines our heroes. It's their determination and dedication that inspires us all to to do better, to try harder, and to be the best that we can be.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chop Suey

Every now and then, I like to take food to work. Not just my own lunch, but something to share with the coworkers. We like to do that every so often; at least once a month, we sometimes have potlucks at work. I felt like making chop suey and I made a lot.

I like sharing food at work. Everyone likes free food at work! It promotes morale and feelings of good will. Well, mostly. As most of my coworkers were enjoying the chop suey, there was one coworker, the loud one in our group, who declared that what I had brought was not chop suey, but pansit, a Filipino dish. She went on to describe how she was friends with Filipinos and that they always made pansit, so she knew what pansit was, and what I brought was pansit, not chop suey.

And as she started breaking down the ingredients and their supposed Filipino connections, I was starting to get irritated. When she stopped her lecture to get herself a third helping, she turned to me and said, "Your pansit is delicious, but it tastes different from what I'm used to."

So I told her, "That's because I didn't make pansit. I made chop suey. I should know because this is how we've always made chop suey in my house."

She replied, "But this is pansit, I know it is. This can't be chop suey!"

So I asked her, "Have you ever had chop suey before?"

She paused, her forehead wrinkling before she answered, "Well, no."

So I told her, "Well now you have!"

The rest of the coworkers giggled and the loud one ended her lecture and finished her plate. For the record, I have tasted pansit; and I do like it. In fact, I like Filipino cuisine. But what pisses me off is when I make something, and someone else tries to tell me that I don't know what it is that I made! This ain't a cooking show or a chef competition! I didn't ask for a critique or food review! I made the damn thing! I know what I made. And if I made it, then I sure as hell can call it whatever I want!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Outdated and Unused

It's time again for me to clear out the clutter. I'm getting an early start on Spring Cleaning, esp since the rain has kept me from going out to the beaches. At work, I'm very organized and keep to just the basic essentials; it helps me work faster and more effectively. My workspace is a model of efficiency. At home, it's a different story.

I'm a packrat. I tend to keep a lot of stuff, some of it I don't even need or use anymore. Part of it stems from my belief that I shouldn't throw out things that are in good working order. I don't like to waste stuff. Part of it is because I'm afraid that I might throw something out, only to need it later on. I often keep a lot things that are somewhat outdated. Some things I hold on to, because they have sentimental value.

I actually have jeans and shirts that I used to wear my last year of high school! I still have movie stubs and bus tickets from over ten years ago! I also have grocery receipts from last year, neatly filed away! I'm not sure why I still have those. But I need to get rid of them. I've also amassed quite an eclectic collection of plates and utensils from other people who gave them to me. I've got two slow cookers! And they both work great.

Every few months, I have to go through and sort out the things I've accumulated and try to get rid of the clutter and junk. I have enough old stuff lying around to open my own museum. And today, I'm going to show you some of that stuff.

Like this old telephone!

I don't even see this phone in office buildings anymore! I doubt many people even have it in their homes either! I found it in my first apt on the East Coast when I was living there many years ago. It works, so I keep it around. It's hardy, too. They don't make phones like this anymore! You can slam the receiver down hard or drop it and it'll still work. I still have a landline. It's useful, esp when the cell towers are down due to storms or power failures.

I've also got some old stuff that works but I don't use anymore.

Check this out.

No, that is not a laptop.

That is a word processor! Complete with a green screen and floppy disks! And it still works!

That thing is over ten years old! I haven't used it in ages, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it. It's the first major electronics purchase that I made, and it was very useful when I needed to type up papers back in the day.

And here's the printer that goes with it.

It's an old printer, too. How old? Just look at the connections. No USB, just a parallel port! It's the kind where you have to screw in the connections!

My stereo is old, too! Over ten years old! It can still play cassettes, which is good because I've a few on hand. I still have the original stickers on the front of the stereo! I kept them on after removing the stereo from its box.

I like to keep the plastic on things, just to see how long they'll last. It's one of my quirks. I still have the plastic covering on the keypad of the microwave and on my car stereo. It drives my friends crazy to see the plastic instructions still on the car stereo! They always complain when they see the plastic sticker still on stuff. And I like torturing them, knowing that they just want to rip the plastic sticker off but can't because it's not their car. The same thing with the microwave! Mwahahahaha!

Then I have new stuff that I don't use, because the old way still works for me.

I got this drink mixer from a friend as a gift.

It's still in the box. Still works. But I don't really need a fancy mixer to make a screwdriver or a milkshake. Actually, when I feel like a milkshake, I just melt ice cream and crumble cookies or cake in the cup. I'm not a milk drinker, so I don't use any milk.

I also got this rice cooker/vegetable steamer as a gift from some friends. They were horrified when they found out that I did not have a rice cooker. It's still in the box with the pretty, shiny bow on it.

I'm sure it works great. But I like to cook rice the old fashioned way:

That's right. I still use a pot to cook rice. It works for me.

I'm going to be busy over the next week tidying up and sorting through the things I've attained over the past few months. I've got some serious recycling and repurposing to do. I've got figure out what to donate and give away. I don't like seeing piles of stuff just taking up space. That just makes me feel claustrophobic and stressed out. It's my home, not a junkyard. And all that cleaning and decluttering actually leaves me feeling very accomplished and relaxed. Now if I could only figure out how to stop myself from getting a hold of all this junk in the first place.

Monday, March 8, 2010


It's been a week since the end of the Olympics meant my return to society. I'm usually a hermit during the Olympics, shutting myself off from the outside world, not returning calls, and turning down social calls and gatherings in order to maximize the time I get to watch the Olympics on tv. My friends often tease me about my obsession with the games, but they've learned over the years that unless it's an emergency, I'm not leaving the house to hang out with them. If it's your birthday, I'm dropping off a gift on the way to work but I ain't coming over for the party.

So it should've been no surprise to me that some friends called to say that they wanted to come down and visit me for the weekend. Their visit was timed perfectly to coincide with the end of the Olympics and my return to civilization. I like having people over. I just forget how much work it requires sometimes to host people, esp if they're spending a few days.

I don't have a coffee maker, because I'm not really a coffee drinker. So early Saturday and Sunday while everyone is still sleeping, I go to the gas station to pick up some cappuccinos. They taste great and they're really inexpensive. I had to buy milk, too, since I'm not really a milk drinker. I only buy milk if I need it for a recipe. And while making breakfast, I had to put up with 'helpful' suggestions, like I should keep Bisquick pancake mix on hand and buy a coffee pot. Why would I need Bisquick? I have flour and baking powder. And I don't drink coffee, so why would I clutter up the kitchen with an appliance that I don't really use?

I should mention that I don't make breakfast that often, either. I mean, I often cook really large dinner meals, enough to have leftovers last me a few days. But I rarely cook breakfast. To me, breakfast is usually just a hot bowl of oatmeal. But when I have visitors, I go all out and make pancakes, sausages, eggs, hash browns, toast, and tea. It's a lot of work, but I don't mind it; I like cooking.

And I have to admit that I like playing tour guide whenever friends from out of town visit. Which means I often do a lot of driving. I like to take them to all the local hot spots and eateries. But my fave thing to do is take them to the beach. It's actually the main reason why they come visit me anyway. And the weather was great this weekend. It's getting warm
now, in the upper 60s, which is nice and troubling at the same time. It's nice because right now, the weather is just right, absolutely perfect. It's troubling because I'm reminded that in two months, it's going to get really hot and humid around here, and it'll stay that way until November!

So from Friday night til Sunday evening, I was the cook, the housekeeper, the chauffeur, and the tour guide. All in a day's work for a good host. I'd like for my guests to have a good time, and my friends definitely had a good time. It's why they keep coming back. Sometimes, I wonder why I don't go into the hospitality industry. I certainly had a blast working in hotels when I was younger.

Now, I return to sleeping on the sofa with the tv on, eating leftovers, and planning what to do for Spring Break. If the weather stays nice, I'm definitely heading out to the beach again. Otherwise, I should get started on the spring cleaning.