Friday, May 28, 2010

Nature has sent her insect hordes...

So the last several weeks of my life have been a constant source of crazy, neurotic, insanity. I have been doing my best to keep on top of all of the crazy that has been going on, and to try and keep things in perspective. I mostly failed at this up until like, say, two minutes ago when I feel like I finally got on top of life, stared down at her, and said "You know what? I got this. Less important details to the left, more important details to the right, everything else, move the hell out of the way."

Beyond that, nature has been sending her hordes after me with frightening regularity. Three weeks ago she sent a bee. Wednesday AM, she sent fire ants. Like, understand me when I say "sent them"... let me give you the whole story here.

Three weeks ago my day started out normal like any other day. I took my coffee to work, drank some of it, left it on my desk, drank some more later, took it home, left it sit on the counter, went to class, came home, went to bed, got up the next morning, went to wash my cup... AND FOUND A FREAKIN' BEE INSIDE MY DAMN CUP... like... a bee. inside my cup. INSIDE OF IT. When did it get in there? Did it get in there while I was still in the drinking stage? Could I have drank bee goop? Uhg.

So. This past Tuesday, I had to race home, grab my child, drop my child at my sibling's, race to class, attend class, then, just, like, absolutely needed to stop and have a drink with a friend. Had drink, went home, tried to sleep, couldn't sleep, maybe got a few hours, got back up at 5:30am, tossed shoes on, got in car, and drove to get kid... and felt burning itching sensation on my foot. Like, what is that? Oh, its an ant. And then this happened like twice more.

Fire Ants. Seriously. Were they on my shoe? Were they in the car? How did fire ants mysteriously and spontaneously appear? What do these omens mean? I'm not sure if I like the increasing magnitude of the insects either, and quite frankly, I'm about to start preparing for locust plagues.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Experiences

I tend to think I'm an adventurous person. I like to try new things - cultural things, food, music, etc. I dislike visiting restaurants I've been to before, unless the food is such that I cannot have it anywhere else. I tend to like to be the first person who points out something new and fabulous to my social group.

So, that being said, while I was on vacation I thought it best to try the most interesting things available to me. We went to a Dominican Restaurant on property, and I ordered the goat.


This doesn't seem like such a departure from my normal habit of being the adventurous one, but somehow this little dalliance into the outer boundaries ran me smack dab up against what is apparently the limit of my tolerance for new and interesting. The goat was served on the vertebrae, which was initially a bit of a shock. I got over it, tucked in, and tasted it. I must admit, it was rather ok, if not downright palatable for the first few bites.

At some point around bite three, it occurred to me that I was eating goat. I'm not quite sure why this didn't sit well with my sensibilities seeing as how I'm rather certain baby calves are cuter than baby goats (although I have no proof of this.) But for whatever reason, it started to prickle the hackles on the back of my adventurous spirit.

Somewhere around bite four, I noticed what I thought was a mushroom. Hey! I like mushrooms! And mr. snark claims to be allergic to mushrooms (which he very well may be, but I'm pretty convinced he just doesn't like them) so I was thinking about this as I moved my fork towards the assumed-mushroom. The thought process went a little like this:

oooh...a mushroom...I'm such an adventurous eater, trying goat in a foreign country, look at me go! I'm one of those women who backpacks across Europe and meets fabulous people and has all these life altering experiences and then writes a book about it. And maybe I'll get to meet famous people... hey this has a strange texture for a mushroom and kind of an odd liver taste...and... oh. oh my. oh no this isn't a mushroom at all, and oh my goodness, it's in my mouth, and we're in public, and I can't... oh god.

Mr. Snark notices my obvious discomfort and inquires into the state of my personhood at which point I must answer negatively, and then, ever so politely, and with as much decorum as I can muster, spit whatever it was back onto my fork and quickly hid it under a chunk of goat-still-on-the-backbone and looked vaguely towards the direction of Europe, sighing ever so slightly, wistfully, mournfully, for all the backpacking through Europe that I might never do.

I spent the rest of the vacation being as adventurous as "The Pasta Trio" which came with three different sauces. Ooo, three different sauces!

In retrospect, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Not every new experience is going to be a good experience, but that doesn't mean I should stop trying new things. It probably just means that maybe I shouldn't try to push the envelope quite so much. I mean, goat? That was totally on the menu just to trick the unsuspecting tourist into trying to appear adventurous to their companion.

Well you win this round, world. And yes, I suppose this means Mr. "Chicken Fingers and Fries" Snark wins a little bit too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Views from the Outside

So last night I attended a school function for one of the clubs in which I was a member, and when we got to the room we were supposed to be in, it was already occupied.

By Geeks.

These weren't any geeks, these were anime geeks. Now, I understand what you're saying... Madame Snark, aren't thee too but a geek? And while I am, my dear reader(s), understand that I like to pretend that I'm actually a geek liaison. I speak the language, I own some of the costumes, and I've participated in some of the activities, but I can also move unseen through the throngs of normalicy. (This post notwithstanding)

In addition to this title, I also claim that of Geek Princess. Meaning, I am relatively attractive (in my own reality, TYVM) have done a great number of things which make other geeks go "ooooo jealous!" and have a somewhat large-ish cadre of fellow geeks who allow me to pretend that I hold sway over them.

Last night, however, I was traveling incognito. I was playing the part of "Honors Fraternity Executive Council Member" and trying to usher in the new initiates into the group, lead them to where they needed to be, and hand them whatever they needed to be handed. And I was not in the mood to take crap from people who can't use the room reservation system.

These geeks got downright rude with me when I politely informed them that we were scheduled to use the room. But this isn't really the reason I'm writing, it's more the observations which I made that drove me here.

Every single geek stereotype was represented in this stolen room. Stereotypes that I was friends with, that, heck, sometimes I even represented. It amazed me that I felt as if I knew them all, even with the fact that I didn't know a single one of them.

There was "guy wearing a t-shirt with holes in it who doesn't so much talk to you, as he talks near you while walking quickly in the other direction because Ack! Girl!"

There was "asian guy who wears the hoodie with the cat ears or chainmail or some other socially unacceptable something while cracking jokes with obscure references."

There were many others, but the next one I want to discuss next is the Geek Princess. Yes, they had their own Geek Princess. She's lucky I'm not also an Anime geek or we would have had to fight because, gosh darnit, there can be only one.

Anyways, my point is, geeks far and wide seem to be subscribing to some type of the geek identity that comes with an Identity Kit containing all the necessary mannerisms, idiosynchrasies, lexicons, and accessories necessary to pull off the look. Are they selling these at Hot Topic? How are they labelled?

It just makes a girl wonder if anything is still sacred when even geek culture gets commoditized.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

buzz words

I hate buzz words. I'm not talking about technical jargon, I'm talking about the words that are used pretentiously and inappropriately by individuals with little understanding of [their] actual meaning who are most interested in impressing others by making their discourse sound more esoteric, obscure, and technical than it otherwise would be...(1)

Those kill me. If you don't understand something, ask. If you want to sound smart, try working towards that goal. Don't sit there and tell me all about how our vertical markets are going to leverage our organizational goals towards increasing core-product profits... gah! Stabby.

I understand that I recently posted a social contract that related to workplace relations, but I don't know if I can agree to not get all stabby when buzzwords get used. It makes me want to whip out all the acronyms I know when you ask me about your email. It makes me want to retaliate in kind and speak to you from a place which only the truly geeky (and socially inept) would ever resort.

So, go ahead and use them if you must, but understand that this means war...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

and we're off!

Every time I fly I hear that whole "And I'm leaaaaavin' on a jet plaaaane... don't know when I'll be baaaack again..." song in my head. Which is. I dunno. Kinda lame. I'm rather ok with my lameness, as I feel it makes me more accessible to the every-day common man.

Anyways. I am, in fact, leaving on a jet plane in the morning. I promise to return with dominican coffee and tales from the beach.

Friday, April 2, 2010

I am horrifically inappropriate

It is not safe to bring me to meet your parents. Even while sober. And especially while drunk. (Ask my sibling about the time I told her future mother-in-law how much I liked her "Gone with the Wind"-Themed Pittsburgh Toilet/bathroom in the basement after the St Paddy's Day Parade) Additionally, you will find, that I'm probably not safe around the children.

I mean. Don't get me wrong. I have a children. I like my particular spawn rather well. I am also good with the children of my close associates, compatriots, and partners in crime. However. They have been well briefed not to repeat anything mrs. snark says, no matter where they are.

The most horrific things pass through my brain on a regular basis. And I giggle about them. Often. So it is not odd to see me walking down the hall just giggling. And if you ask "What's so funny?" my reply might very well be ... "Oh... I... um... just think funny things sometimes." Because I absolutely cannot tell you what I'm laughing about.

Well. Ok. I can tell you guys. I mean. You probably don't know the people that I'm laughing about, so it's all good fun. Case in point. Today. I'm walking to the water fountain at work. And I pass by the pregnant woman at work. (Oh, trust me, she is THE pregnant woman. And we ALLLLLL know allllll about her first, and now up-coming second, spawn. And every little stinking thing they do. And the words they say. And what they had for lunch. and... omg. yes. its that bad.)

So anyways. I see her. And she's. Well. She's a big girl. Tall. Broad shoulders. She's just. I mean, she's really tall. And. well. Wide. And now she's preggers. And fairly deep into the pregnancy, and she just. Well. She looks odd. Like. Well, like Jabba the Hut.

So now I'm in the hall, water dripping down my face, giggling. And I can't tell anyone why this is funny. Except it totally is. She's one of those people that is Smarter Than You (tm). She has a piece of advice on every single thing you've ever done or have ever contemplated doing. Even if she's never done it.

During her first pregnancy, she was giving me parenting advice. O.o

So trust me. It's funny. And so I consult with one of my coworkers on the issue, and she agrees that yes, it just looks weird. And it occurs to me that we are probably going to Special Hell for thinking these thoughts.

Special Hell is this place that is worse than Actual Hell in that every once in a while, you forget you're in hell. And then, BAM! Back on your heads.

Anyways. The point of this post is to give a shout-out to someone who isn't a local blog, but is a rather amusing blog, and sometimes a poignant blog, but all around a good blog. Someone who reminds me that it's ok to be as inappropriate as I am, because she's just as inappropriate. And if you're going to be inappropriate, you don't want to also be alone. So, a round of clicking for your aunt and mine, Aunt Becky:
Mommy Wants Vodka

only so many dots...

As part of maintaining my image as "not a gamer" I play in a few different games, we could call them roleplaying games, things like D&D, but not D&D. (Cue the leaving of all of my current followers and readers...) (All two of you. ;) ) Anyways. One of these games involves a system of "Dots" to account for the different skills that you have, and the level of skill you posses in any one skill.

In the system that I play, once you've used your dot, you've used it. Like, for example, if you attempt to "Drive your car down a set of stairs and not kill anyone" you might fail, and then you've used up your dots and can't drive anything, anywhere, no matter how normal.

The dot system continues in real life. I have "dots" in drive, photography, cooking, work stuff, etc. Sometimes I try to do something ultra-cool and it works out, sometimes I try to do something ultra-cool and it doesn't work out. Sometimes, I manage to do something ultra-cool, and then later try to do something fairly simple and utterly fail... it's these moments where I realize "Crap. I'm out of dots for the day."

I don't specifically have a story that goes with being out of dots, but I find it rather interesting that most of my compatriots follow the same theories. I have a friend who has stated, "Sure, I can remotely mount your virtual server and connect you through the firewall to your VPN, but I'm likely to get stuck in the elevator on my way home."

So, my easter wish for you is simple. May you all have enough dots to be enjoyed, but not enough to get in the way!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

social contract

So, let's just get this out of the way right now before we go any further. I'm pretty much Hobbesian in my view of man and society, even though I'd like to ascribe to be more Locke-ian. The basic argument between the two (for the purposes of this post, and not, say, an exhaustive compare/contrast research paper on the two) is that Hobbes believed that without the social contract man would exist in a state of nature that was "nasty, brutish, and short" whereas Locke believed that "human nature is characterized by reason and tolerance."

Traditional views of the social contract posit that we give up certain liberties and freedoms in order to live in civilized society.... Basically, you give up the right to murder people and take their bacon with the understanding that other people won't murder you and take your bacon.

Anyways. That's all fine well and good, but in today's society, I think, (I swear I'm getting to the funny bit, just stick with me) we're not really in danger of people murdering us to steal our bacon, for the most part. I mean, most people will go to the grocery store and buy their own bacon without having to deal with the messy murder part.

Personally, I think there's a new social contract theory that's operating. It's the one that says something along the lines of "I will not point out how utterly pointless my daily tasks are. I will not get irritated when my coworkers use buzz words. I will attend meetings that suck my soul out through powerpoint presentations. And I will do all of this in exchange for my paycheck, which, while not what I am worth, still allows me to buy bacon."

Because today the concern is less that I will be attacked by Indians who wish to do me harm, than it is I will be nagged into apathy and suddenly snap one day when they take my stapler.

They really oughta put this sort of thing in the employee manual, or at the very least, make you sign it when you're doing all the hiring paperwork. I think it would really drive home what you're getting into before it's too late.

shout out

So, blog shout out to: Burghilicious for not only catching the reference with my blog handle, but for potentially venturing out to sample one of my favorite restaurants.

I think I'd like to start doing "other blog" shout-outs from time to time on local blogs that I think deserve a read. And since Pittsburgh is in the title of mine, yes, local blogs. 'Cause Pittsburgh is awesome, n'at.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

drive-through coffee hut

Normally Mr. Snark makes the coffee in Snarkville...every morning...french press, freshly ground beans in a burr grinder, water just below boiling. It's life altering. It turns you into one of those people who are ... you know... kind of irritating with their coffee habit.

Don't get me wrong. Any port in a storm will usually suffice when it comes to the morning cup. But if I get my preference, it's to be at home, drinking the nectar of the gods that is the snarvillian coffee.

This morning, however, was one of those mornings where I'm left to fend for myself in the way of acquiring my daily fix. I have attempted to fix this problem in a multitude of ways. First, there was the "Oh, I'll just get it at that coffee shop down the street" solution which was $1.98 each day.

Then there was the "Oh, I'll just drink the office coffee and save up for one of those pod coffee makers with the money I save." Which was $0.35 a day, and led to one of those pod coffee makers that would make a cup of coffee exactly big enough to whet my appetite but not stave off the dreaded headache.

The last solution involves this adorable little single cup brewer thingie that I got from the discount cart at the grocery store, requires size #2 filters, and ground coffee, and a little more dish washing then I'm usually willing to sign up for on any given work morning. (Sometimes the work kitchen smells like... err. Stuff that smells bad.)

So, this morning, I hit the drive-through coffee hut. (How lazy am I?) $1.89 and I get a chocolate covered espresso bean. The only draw-back is that sometimes you get stuck behind someone who needs a complicated latte, which is fine, because sometimes I need a complicated latte.

Later in the day, I learned that my eat-n-park is building a drive-through pick-up window for people who order take-out and don't want to get out of their cars to pick it up.

I'd like to say I'm embarrassed or something, but for someone who has spent over $150 and several months trying to solve the coffee problem because she doesn't want to wash the french press and take the 10 minutes it would take to make coffee, I really don't feel as if I'm in a position to judge.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

never judge a blog by its cover

Point of fact: Coffee is in my title, bacon is not. I'm fairly certain I mention bacon here more often than I mention coffee.

Is this false advertising?
My face hurts and I am whiney. I went to the dentist yesterday to get a filling ... um. Hrm. Repaired isn't the right word because I didn't break it. Replaced? Yes, let's go with replaced.

See, back in September, I went to the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival and was eating some bacon brittle, and I thought a piece of bacon got stuck in my tooth, but when I picked it out it turned out it was... tooth parts. So I chipped a tooth on something I shouldn't have been eating anyways, and had to go to the dentist.

I have this thing about the dentist. I brush. I floss. I use Listerine. I do all those things. And yet, I still have dental issues. Like, I have one tooth where the gum is receding because I brush too hard apparently. And now the tooth chippy thing.

So I go get it fixed in September, and whatever he does, he leaves a little pothole in there so that when I eat, it's like... I dunno... some sort of olympic sport to try and avoid that particular pothole, or to immediately go floss to get out whatever's fallen in there (I am suddenly struck by how profoundly TMI this all is.)

Anyways. Yesterday I go back to have him properly do the thing and now I'm all ouchey because of the giant needle they use for the novocaine. Oh, and my knees hurt because I started working out again. I think my basic point here is "damned if you do, damned if you don't."

Bacon may somehow be to blame for all of this.

Friday, March 12, 2010

how I keep humble

I have a friend who refers to me as the "dumbest smart girl he knows" when I tell him the stories of how I've gone and done something retarded again. I prefer to think of it as keeping humble, and/or as paying the awesome tax.

There has to be some sort of offset for all the awesomeness that is normally my existence, and I figure this comes in the form of the "awesome tax." It generally occurs when I park where I shouldn't, drive like a jerk in proximity to a police officer, or accidentally drink too much while out with friends and feel so good I pick up the whole tab. Oy.

As far as keeping humble, this is when I do something that should be easy, and somehow manage to foul it up really badly. A good example is when I somehow screw up boiling water. Not that I've ever done that. More than once in a week.

My latest adventure of keeping humble involves coffee. I had to meet someone on campus to sign some paperwork because I am El Presidente of a campus group and the campus group required paperwork and my signature. So I had the secretary of the group fill out the paperwork, and then she needed my signature, so I met her on campus to give it to her.

Sweet girl really. The little sister of one of my high school boyfriends, embarrassingly enough (that's another story for another time.) I think I somehow conned her into being secretary after I was conned into being El Presidente (yet another story for another time.)

Anyways. After signing the paper, I was feeling rather Presidential and Important and thus decided I should reward my awesomeness with a $5 soy caramel macchiato.

Which I then promptly spilled all over the floor of my class while getting my binder out of my bag.

In front of a room full of students.

On a floor that doesn't have a bathroom, or easily retrievable paper towels.

I made a rather lovely mess trying to clean this up, and eventually gave up, figuring that part of my tuition went to the janitors who would have to deal with my mess. When the instructor showed up and asked what happened, I simply replied "I was feeling a little too good about myself."

So between the "Episodes Wherein the Heroine will Be Knocked Down So as to Prove that She is Still in Touch with the Little People" and the Awesome Tax, I would like to think that I'm being kept in check very nicely.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

that guy, you know the one, in class

In addition to all my other super hero duties, I am also a part time student at a local university. I often share a class with 'that guy' in class. You know the one. He smokes, but only because it helps him look disaffected. He wears a hat that looks like a Kangol, but it's not a Kangol, because he's all "down with the corporations."

And when he talks, it's with purpose. Slowly. Deliberately. With great pauses. His questions are well formed, he uses lots of words, he is showing you the benefit of his liberal arts education in every extraneous word and phrase.

And he makes me crazy. When he raises his hand I weep inwardly for the next few minutes of my life. Lost forever to his... purposeful... diatribe... of... meaningful...exploration... and... clarification... of... the... very... subject... at... hand.

When we have guest speakers, I want to apologize to them for his presence. What I really want, however, is for him to get to the point. Please, dear god, and all that's holy (mostly bacon), if he could just ask questions that were actual questions and not attempts to show us how intelligent he is, I'd be forever grateful.


I'm a sneezy kind of person. I sneeze in the morning when I sit down at my desk. I sneeze in the afternoon when I have a cuppa. I sneeze in sunlight. I sneeze when I clean. I'm allergic to dust mites, so they say, or rather, dust mite excrement. (Mr. Snark finds it horribly adorable that I'm allergic to poop.)

So, after I've sneezed, I like to blow my nose. There tend to be tissues in all the various places I might exist in the world, which, up until recently, included my desk at work.

The pattern went something like this - I buy tissues, I use the tissues, the tissues tend to disappear faster than I am using them - I buy more tissues - repeat. It then occurred to me that I was providing a company perk with my discretionary income. So I switched to company-provided toilet paper.

Yes. There is a roll of toilet paper on my desk. No, I don't think that makes me too terribly odd. Yes, I realize it makes me a little odd. I sometimes wonder if some of my proclivities push me closer to Melvin, and I have to further wonder how close I can get and still take myself seriously.

Truth be told, the toilet paper cannot possibly look out of place amongst all the other stuff that's here. Ticket stubs from various events, drawings by my child, drawings by mr. snark, xkcd comics, random photographs, little trinkets from across the world, and family photos.

Who knows tho, what my chapter in the "book about work" would sound like? (Hasn't everyone thought they should write a book about work at one point in time?)

adventure dining

Normally my week is pretty full of...stuff. So our dinners generally consist of quick prep foods and a rather boring rotation of hamburger helper, encor frozen stuff, some type of soup, some type of chicken, some type of pasta, and then leftovers. I'm only home two nights a week during the week, so that's generally when the adventures happen, but they still aren't real adventurous.

This week, however, I had nothing going on during the week, so declared it to be "international week" at the casa de snark, and we've had a rather lovely parade of ethnic cuisines ranging from pastas to braised meats and back to soup. Some of the recipes have been rather flop-like, but some others have actually produced a rather orgasmic look from the other folks who live with me.

So, in addition to all the fabulous things that I do here... rant about sandwich rings and pittsburgh politicians, we're going to talk about food I've eaten that was yummy. So there.

Sunday we had ethiopian, Misr wat, a red lentil dish that was underwhelming. I've had it at Abay in East Liberty and it's amazing there. My home creation left a good deal to be desired.

Monday was Mexican Bean Soup, using a bag of Goya 16 beans and a packet of Goya ham concentrate. (Ham concentrate?) The soup was prepared just as the package said and it was... terrible. So, save yourself some time and divert from the back of the bag recipe.

Tuesday was Greek night, and I made Chicken Souvlaki, or Chicken with Cumin Yogurt, and a greek pasta salad. The pasta salad was really my own creation, so I can't guarantee that it was authentic, but it was yummy enough, so I'm posting the recipe below.

Wednesday was Middle Eastern night and we had Lebanese Kibbe and Afghani Qaubili Pilau. The kibbe was really good, but could have done with less onion (there were like 4 cups of onion in the dish), so I modified the recipe. The second is a rice dish that uses braised lamb and a sweet spice combination along with some carrots and raisins and almonds. It was absolutely to die for, so the recipe is again below.

Tonight is asian night, but I'm just making a salmon stir fry. Friday I'm making Italian Brassato with glazed root vegetables, and Saturday I'm making Irish Shepherd's pie along with soda bread. If those go well, maybe I'll share them too.

Anyways, my point here is that I think it's good to break out of your comfort zone in the dinner hour every now and again. At the very least I have a 13 year old who's not afraid to try new things and knows for a fact that he likes a few different, and pretty exotic, dishes.

Not bad for someone who sometimes pushes on pull doors...

Qaubili Pilau

½ cup vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 lb lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cardamom
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
another ½ cup vegetable oil
1 TB sugar
1 cup dark, seedless raisins
couple tablespoons blanched almonds
2 cups long grain rice
1 ½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp saffron

1. Heat 1/2 cup vegetable fat in a Dutch oven or pressure cooker, add 1 medium onion, diced, and fry until lightly browned. Add 1 lb. of beef or lamb, cut in 1 inch cubes, and brown. Add 2 cups water, 1 tsp. salt and 1 1/2 tsp. mixed spices (equal parts of cinnamon, cloves, cumin and cardamom, ground). Cover and simmer, or cook under pressure until the meat is tender.(275 degree oven for 2 hours in dutch oven-vw) Remove the meat and set aside - save the juice for cooking the rice.

2. Cut 2 carrots into toothpick size pieces. Heat 1/2 cup vegetable fat in a saucepan. Add 1 tbsp. sugar and the cut up carrots and simmer until tender. Remove carrots from fat, add 1 cup dark, seedless raisins, and cook until they swell up. (You may also brown a couple of tablespoons of blanched almonds.) Remove each and set aside.

3. To cook the rice, boil the meat juice and add 2 cups long grain rice, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and sufficient water to bring the liquid 2 inches above the rice. Add the oil in which the carrots were cooked and 1/8 tsp. saffron (optional) to the cooked rice. (in the dutch oven this takes about 15-20 minutes, but check it early and often, about every 5 minutes –vw)

4. Put meat and rice in a large casserole, cover and set in a 300 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Place meat in the center of a large platter. Mound the rice over the top and sprinkle with carrots, raisins, and almonds. Serves 6-8. (I’ve never baked it again after it was done, but it might add something. –vw)

Greek Pasta Salad:
This is a creation of mine that may or may not resemble something you'd eat in Greece.
8 oz orzo pasta
1 small can sliced black olives
8 oz feta cheese
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
1 tsp dried mint flakes
2 Tb lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste. Watch the salt, the feta is salty already.

1. Cook the Orzo per package directions. Drain the pasta. Leave the pasta to drain and cool in the strainer while you mix everything else in the pasta pot.

2. Put the spinach in the pot, and cook it around a bit to warm it and get the rest of the ice off, since you forgot to pull out the spinach until the pasta was already in the water. After it's warm, add the rest of the ingredients back into the pot, including the pasta, and stir around to incorporate.

3. This is served more towards the lukewarm side of things so the feta doesn't melt, but it's probably good piping hot as well. The mint and lemon really make it pop.

Friday, March 5, 2010

mistakes have been made

So over the last two weeks, I've been suffering with half-assed bronchitis. It wasn't a full-assed, three-days-in-bed, I can't move, I can't breathe, I can't talk bronchitis. It was just sort of a "meh" and three days on the couch with some Buffy the vampire slayer bronchitis.

So after languishing for about a week, I finally up and went to the doctor. Who gave me some prescriptions for medications, one of which was supposed to make me feel better (yay penicillin!), one of which was supposed to make me feel less stuffy, and one of which was supposed to help me sleep at night. (Read: Make sure Mr. Snark can sleep at night) (yay codeine!)

The unstuffing medication shall remain nameless, but for whatever reason, it made me bipolar. One minute, I want to strangle people for being retarded (PS. I have an intolerance to smart people behaving in ways which would indicate that they are incapable of helping themselves) the next minute, I'm crying over an email from a client.

Good times indeed. Anyways, after making my poor coworkers suffer through my fits of mania, I decided that being congested was far more advisable than being fired or chased out of the building by people wielding torches and pitchforks. After finally feeling like myself for a few days, I felt the need to apologize or something, and of course, my first line would always be "mistakes have been made."

I love that line. It's a complete load of crap and an utter cop-out, and, for fancy's sake, a judicious use of the passive voice. (See, I have a liberal arts education too.) You hear it in the public sector all the time. They won't say exactly who didn't have enough snow plowing equipment, or who failed to make sure we were adequately staffed, but they will say that "mistakes have been made" by "people" of whom may or may not be affiliated with this office and may or may not have had the original authority to make those decisions to begin with.

So, in the spirit of snowpocalypse (and the potential floodapalooza) I will simply state that mistakes have been made in the consumption, prescription, and subsequent application of said medications which may or may not have had the original effect of ameliorating the aforementioned issue at hand with or potentially, without, debilitating and unexpected side effects.

happy friday!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sandwich Ring Guilt

We've all been there. You're sick and you don't feel well and for once, you've decided to be an adult about it. You are not going to imagine that the world will go into a holding pattern if you don't show up for work. You're actually going to stay in bed, get your rest, drink your fluids, and get better.

And then you remember. There's a meeting today. And not just any meeting. A meeting which involves clients. And sandwich rings. And while you're pretty sure that the clients would understand and would be happier to reschedule than be exposed to your germy germs, you're pretty sure the caterers won't care.

The caterers have ordered lunch meat and baked bread and prepared "prepared salads" in anticipation of fulfilling your sandwich ring catering order. And sure, you can cancel, but you're inside the 24 hour notice, so they're going to charge you anyways. And sure, the employees who would eat the sandwich ring would be appreciative of your noble sacrifice on their behalf, but there's one minor detail that foils your plans.


Accounting will be pissed that they had to pay for two sandwich rings because you were "too sick" to come to work for a sandwich ring meeting and they had to pay for another one for the day the meeting was rescheduled to. Accounting doesn't care if you are "bleeding out your eyeballs" and are likely to spread the plague with your every footfall.

Accounting is concerned with P&L, COGS, TPS, and all sorts of other acronyms that you learn while getting a BA in Accounting. (I wonder if they abbreviate Accounting on your degree just to give you one more acronym in the club of acronyms?)

And so here I sit. Because of the sandwich ring. I'm not even going to eat the sandwich ring because of the cholesterol involved. (The cholesterol balance sheet is a post for another day). I hope accounting enjoys my contribution to their acronyms.

Friday, February 19, 2010

good days

Oh, also, I feel the need to confess a few things:

Truly Successful Days are when I:
- Get gel in my hair and lotion on my back, and not the other way 'round
- Finish all the RSS feeds in my google reader for at least a minute
- Remember what day it is before I get dressed (Casual Tuesday, anyone?)
- Only have to threaten to hurt less then 5 people to get stuff done

of course I'm a giant tard, that's the best way to be...

Every six months there is a gaming convention that I attend somewhere north of the city. I'm not really a giant gamer dork so much as I'm a social butterfly and all my friends happen to be there. Sure, sure, I play the games too, and obsess over costumes for the LARP, and err...own several sets of dice, but really... I'm not a gamer. No really!

Anyways. Gaming usually winds down about midnight each night of the con and that's when the real fun starts... there's this... well... i guess adorable isn't the right word, but trashy isn't quite it either; it's somewhere between delightfully trashy and towny adorable... anyways... bar in the hotel. So after a round or two there, we head to someone's room for after bar shenanigans.

For the last convention, I held a hard hat party wherein all folks who wanted to attend had to wear a hard hat. And we had signs that said "Hard Hat Area" because... well because I have access to inexpensive printing (read: free.)

So, knowing that I have to top that (and it wasn't that hard) I set about trying to come up with a theme for this con's after party. Another associate of mine suggested that we turn up the heat, wear hawaiian shirts, drink tropical drinks and have a beach blanket bash, sans beach and blankets.

I let that stew awhile, and then someone suggested we have a party where people play RISK, the boardgame, because we weren't being quite nerdy enough just yet. Suddenly it hit me. Why not combine the two things?

And thus, the El Presidente Tropical World Domination Party was born. Hawaiian shirts required, tropical drinks provided, be prepared to be called a dirty communist if you start out in a communist country. Not that I don't like communism as an ideology, it's just that I like saying "dirty communist."

Now, I'm taking a class (yes, there are a lot of divergent threads in this post, just wait, I'm getting to the point where they all relate) in InDesign and one of our next assignments is to make a flyer providing people with all necessary details to attend your event.

I feel like its some sort of moral imperative that I make a flyer for my El Presidente party and use this for my flyer assignment. Because I mean. If you're going to be a tard, the whole world should know. It lowers their expectations of you while allowing you to get away with all sorts of shenanigans. And that's exactly what my InDesign instructor should know about me.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh Pittsburgh, how I love you...

Pittsburgh, I have a confession. I love you. Deeply, fully, and without reservation. I love your babushkas and your parking chairs. I love your ethnic foods, your 91 neighborhoods, and your divisive structuring. I would never want to be anywhere else, and I hope someday you'll have me as one of your own.

I have lived within your boundaries, and I have lived so far from you that I thought my heart would break (a short 60 miles to the north... yet still tragic). I find myself overly patient with your politicians, and overly forgiving with bad policy. I'm so deeply in love with you, I think new taxes are probably a good idea, even if badly conceived.

The point is this. I like you. But who is this guy? Where did you pick him up? I mean, seriously dear. You could do a lot better.

I'm not defining myself with my cube, well, maybe I am...

I have tried to do this multiple times. First I tried a very narrow food category. Then I tried a very narrow photography category. The only thing I actually enjoy is talking about whatever is rolling around in my brain at the moment. And I can't even categorize that when I'm writing it, so I'm pretty sure I can't categorize it before I write it.

So anyways. I work in a cube. I hang stuff all over my cube walls to signify... I dunno... that I am a person, not an employee number. Or something. I manage projects. I cook food. I take photographs. I read books when I remember to do so. I get lost on the internet for hours. I try to pretend to be a grown up, sometimes only so I can go do something immature and say that I needed to "let go" for a while.

I like shenanigans. I like picking up the tab. I like ordering foofy girly drinks, but would like to acquire a taste for a manly drink just so I can defy expectations while out in public. There is always a bottle of liquor in my freezer.

I'm a crazy, tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping liberal with a bent towards laissez faire economics. I would also not be opposed to running off to south pacific islands with malcolm gladwell, thomas friedman, and/or paul krugman. And don't get me started about Joe Sabino Mistick. I could listen to him read the phone book.

Anyways. I'm sure there will be lots of other things you'll learn as we go along. But these are the things that make the most sense to tell you now.