Monday, October 20, 2008

Umpire Strikes Back

Now, I'm no NCAA official (though I played one on TV for awhile), but I think this is against the rules.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Hard Life of Rich Dogs

Cliquez pour regarder HomeAlone

Looks like the French don't know the right way to embed videos in a blog, so this takes you to the site, rather than just playing the video in my blog. It's short, and worth the trip.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bills at Cardinals

I apologize for the poor chronology of my posts. This one is a week overdue, and it follows my Taliesin West trip from yesterday.

Anyhow, thanks to a friend at the law school, I got my hands on four tickets to the Cardinals game last weekend. We took the Haiks, who have been extremely good to us (especially me since I came out here), as a half birthday present for Diane/half nice gesture to give something back.

Melissa put together a pretty delicious medley of tailgating food - a chili bean dip, some tuna salad, and guacamole. The Haiks brought chicken and some cheeses and salsa. Everyone brought lots of beer and water. We got there about an hour and a half before the game, and lucked out by parking next to a guy with a satellite radio broadcasting the Redskins v Eagles game (poor timing to speak highly of the Redskins, I know).

We headed inside right around kickoff and found our seats, which were pretty great. Very low, only about 20 rows up from the field, in the corner of the end zone.

We got a good view of the upset. And of several people getting arrested for fighting in front of us. Cardinals knocked the Bills out of the ranks of the unbeaten with a pretty solid win.

Good times had by all.

Taliesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright's Desert Masterpiece in Scottsdale was amazing. Mom and I went on Saturday and paid (top dollar) for the 90 minute tour through the famous home. Wright purchased 100 acres on a barren Arizona hillside and, along with the 23 students of his newly founded Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, began to build Taliesin West (Welsh word for shining brow). Taliesin was built in Wisconsin, where his mother lived.

I don't even know how to describe the architecture. If you're not familiar with Wright's style, it is called organic architecture. It is meant to be built in to its environment with a kind of natural harmony, so that it blends in and uses its surroundings, rather than standing out like an eye-sore. His most famous project, Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, is now a priority on my travel list.

The pictures I took don't do this place justice. But I'll include a few anyhow. I can only hope you appreciate it from my photos as much as we did.

This was an archer in his sculpture garden (cast by one of his students who still lives there I believe) that for some reason really caught my eye.

Enjoy. I'm going to start researching organic architecture and make it a side hobby of mine I think. The book I looked through in the gift shop about it was mesmerizing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Culinary Accomplishments

Lots of cooking and eating went on this week while Melissa was here, and it has continued now with my mom here (I traded them out, with my Mom landing 3 hours before Melissa's flight took off). We overlapped for lunch at the airport. Very convenient.

1. I made breakfast for Mel for the first time. She decided it was "the best breakfast ever," but we're not allowed to tell her dad. That's his claim to fame. So no spilling secrets. I did one of my breakfast wraps, with some diced red onions, eggs, old bay, sea salt, black pepper, milk, and thin sliced turkey sizzled in butter. We added a little sriracha for flavor (Chinese hot sauce).

2. I made another breakfast, this time one of my better kept secrets. I have always enjoyed my own French Toast, which I believe is derived from my dad's recipe. I won't give away all my secrets, but I can tell you it involves egg, milk, cinnamon, sugar (organic), and nutmeg, with quality bread. This time, however, we got a little adventurous. After throwing the French Toast in to the pan (melted organic butter in the pan first), I sprinkled sliced almonds on top. They stuck to the batter soaked in to the bread, so when I flipped it, the almond slices didn't scatter. Add some 100% pure maple syrup and you have a perfect French Toast. Coupled with the scrambled eggs that Melissa made (diced tomatoes, onions, peppers, salt, pepper, and I think some garlic, with milk) and our breakfast was unparalleled.

3. I feel like I'm forgetting a dinner that we made, but maybe I didn't cook any dinner this week.

4. I was treated to the best dinner imaginable on Thursday night. Mel marinated some filet mignon from Fresh 'n' Easy ( store...ever) in a little barbeque sauce, some Montreal steak seasoning, and olive oil, while the rest of the meal started up. She sauteed baby bell mushrooms in butter and (somehow) figured out how to microwave-steam broccoli. We also got some pre-prepared twice-baked potatoes from the F 'n' E that tasted like freshly prepared twice-baked potatoes. I don't have a grill, so she broiled the steak, which actually worked out very well. It was much juicier than I expected, and although we overcooked it a little, it still had plenty of flavor. I picked out two bottles of wine (F 'n' E has great prices on wine), a cab shiraz blend and an organically grown California cab. They were both pretty good, but I think we preferred the regular cab.

5. Tonight, I owned up to a promise to cook dinner for my mom, which she asked for after reading about all my culinary conquests of late. I took her to the trusty Fresh 'n' Easy and told her to pick out a meal, and I'd prepare it. A bold move for a novice like me, yes, but if you can't be confident in yourself, how can you expect others to be. So, we got some chicken breasts, pre-sliced stoplight bell peppers and onions (cheaper than getting them whole, and we don't have good knives here), a bag of fresh broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, some teriyaki marinade, brown jasmine rice, and lightly salted roasted peanuts (refer back to my original stir fry exploits, where I mentioned the lack of peanuts). We fried the vegetables and peanuts in EV olive oil while the rice was being made. I meant to fry some eggs in with the rice and stir fry, but the rice took too long and we didn't feel like it. We burned the veggies a little, but you couldn't tell from tasting them. The chicken I put on last, with the teriyaki marinade. We were a little tentative about the quality of the dish after burning ("singing on one side" would be more accurate) the veggies. However, it all came together perfectly. I think it was one of the best dinners I've made yet. Not a whole lot to compare it to, but I can say it with confidence.

Next up, I have to broaden my range a little. So far, I know I can do pasta and stir fry. It's time to step up my game a little and see what else I can throw together. Ideas are welcomed.

More to come about this week's adventures. Stay tuned for details about "First Friday in Phoenix," the Bills at Cardinals game, and random nights in Tempe.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Notable Quotables

Trying to enjoy a little contracts reading...

Complexities are fun to talk about, but, when it comes to action, simplicities are often more effective. - P.J. O'Rourke

Friday, October 3, 2008

You know you have to register first, right?

Voting. It's what the cool kids are doing.

The first half is really funny, then the second half is actually just a PSA. But it's important. I'm hardly political, but I try to at least exercise my basic rights and duties. You don't have to know much to go out and vote for the right candidate. There are web sites everywhere that compare them in layman's terms.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Steve Fossett

Symptom #128 indicating a lack of motivation to study: Today I learned all about Steve Fossett. I don't know if any of you have heard of him, but the little bit ("all about him" is a vast overstatement) that I know is incredible.

I'll just paste the tidbits that ESPN offered first:
Fossett was an accomplished balloonist, pilot and outdoorsman. Among the things he did:

• September 1985: Swims the English Channel from France to England in 22 hours, 15 minutes.

• March 1992: Finishes the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska, covering the 1,165 miles in 14 days, 11 hours, 58 minutes and 18 seconds (47th-place).

• February 1995: Sets the world distance ballooning record with a nonstop flight of 5,435.82 miles from South Korea to Canada. It was the first solo balloon flight across the Pacific.

• June 18-July 2, 2002: Becomes first person to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon, taking off from Australia, and crossing the finish line 13 days, 12 hours, 16 minutes and 13 seconds later, covering an estimated 19,428.6 miles. Made five previous attempts between 1996 and 2001, including an August 1998 attempt in which he went 14,235 miles in eight days and 13 hours before crashing in the Coral Sea.

• April 2004: With crew of 12, breaks the round-the-world sailing record by six days (58 days, nine hours, 32 minutes and 45 seconds).

• March 2005: Becomes the first person to fly a plane solo around the world without stopping or refueling, covering 23,000 miles in 67 hours.

• February 2006: Completes the longest nonstop plane flight in aviation history, flying 26,389 miles in about 76 hours.

• August 2006: With a co-pilot, claims a world glider altitude record of 50,671 feet during a flight over the Andes Mountains.

Think about the amount of worldly knowledge he would have to have in order to accomplish these things. A vast knowledge of geography, survival, mechanics, aviation, and boating, and that probably just scratches the surface. There are people who get lost trying to find a bank near their house. But Fossett circumnavigated the entire globe in a balloon. He completed the Iditarod (longest dog-sled race in the world). Sailed around the world in record time.

I'm astounded and envious at such accomplishments. Just thought I'd share.

The reason he is in the news is much more unfortunate. He went missing in early September after taking off in his plane from Barron Hilton's house. He was not heard from again. A hiker found some cash and a few IDs belonging to Fossett in the woods. Shortly after, the wreckage of his plane was found crashed in to the side of a mountain. It's a shame the world has to lose someone with such genius, who was able to channel his talents in to something that truly made him happy.

Fortunately, he died doing what he loved. I think a person couldn't ask for much more.

Thank you, come again!

Dog Running a Magazine Stand

I don't know why this makes me laugh. But it's funny.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Midterm's Eve

Tomorrow constitutes my first real test--literally and figuratively--as a law student. I guess. One could argue that moving out here with no ties to the state of Arizona, no friends, and no knowledge of the area was my first figurative test. In fact, all sorts of figurative tests could be applied to my experiences since August 15th. But just because I'm studying to become a lawyer, doesn't mean I need to argue this with you.

So for argument forbearance's sake, let's say this midterm is my first test as a law student. Like that? I'm using real live legal terms. Get used to it.

I have kept up with all my reading all semester and attended every class thus far, which is more than I can say for my eight undergraduate semesters (sorry Mom). It's not quite to the point where I'm inspired by learning, but I am motivated to make the best of the money I am spending here. I have matured enough since undergrad to realize I'm here for my own betterment, and I should act accordingly.

The last week or so, I have started to review information and draft outlines after compiling all my class notes and reading notes, as well as some of the notes of my classmates. I know everyone has different styles of learning. Unfortunately, mine is not conducive to classrooms, lecturing, or reading text books. The only way I learn things is by interactively applying the information. If I can have one conversation about a topic with someone who knows what they're saying (or maybe even knows a little bit about what they're saying), I can usually shelve the information for later retrieval.

I'm rambling. Must be my guilt for neglecting the ol' blog recently.

So I have spent time "synthesizing my facts" as they say here, and now (hopefully) have complete outlines for both of my midterms (Contracts Thursday morning; Civil Procedure Friday afternoon). But all the while, I have felt like I'm not putting in the effort that the other law kids are. I feel like I've done all the outlining I can. I've gone over the example questions. I did well on those. But I have been bored with nothing more to do while everyone else plugs away, stressed and overwhelmed. Maybe I'm too disconnected from academia to be stressed yet. I just hope I don't get a rude awakening after the midterms.

But, I'll give it my best shot in the morning. I can't see how hard it could be. I'm familiar with the concepts, theories, and terms. And both midterms are open note. What could go wrong?

Wish me luck.

Another 'Do Dinner Story

First things first: before I get in to dinner, I want to point out (against my better judgment, in regards to jinxing) that the Redskins and the Hokies have not lost a game since Adelina was born. Quite the opposite, in fact, since both teams have notched upsets (Redskins over Cowboys might be one of the biggest wins the 'Skins have had in a long time, and VT over Nebraska--though it was not a huge upset in terms of rankings--was a huge win in that we are very young, and were one the road in one of the most hostile environments in football. Nebraska has only lost 4 times at home on a Saturday night in the modern era, and we beat them decisively, even if the score doesn't portray that).

But that is neither here nor there. Let's talk culinary arts.

I went to the grocery store with a plan this time. I wanted some fresh vegetables to mix with the chicken I've had from CostCo. I'm down to the last four chicken breasts (2 went down tonight, so two left once I finish these leftovers). So I bought a red, a yellow, and a green bell pepper (stop light peppers, for those less savvy vegetable shoppers), and a red onion. I thawed out two chicken breasts on Sunday and sliced it in to bite size pieces. Then, I threw it in a bag and marinated it with a teriyaki and pineapple marinade. Today, I chopped up the peppers (all of them) and half the red onion.

I started with some white rice (real live rice, not Minute Rice) and threw it in a pot of boiling water, as per the directions, with some ground sea salt. Then, I sprayed a separate frying pan with olive oil and threw in the peppers as I chopped them. The onions went in last. I dusted the ingredients with more sea salt, ground black pepper, and some powdered garlic, then poured on a little of the teriyaki marinade as I sauteed them.

The rice finished a little sooner than expected, so I had to let it sit on minimal heat while the rest cooked. The pan was not big enough for everything, so I had to deposit the peppers and onions in a bowl while I cooked the chicken. Once that was almost finished (and had some time to shrink in the heat), I poured all the peppers and onions back in and let them sautee together. I let it cook a little longer than necessary for fear of salmonella-ridden CostCo chicken. I'm still alive, so I think I'm safe.

The whole time I was cooking, Melissa hung out with me on the phone so it was as if we were making dinner together. Cheesy, I know, but with these long distance things you have to find your pleasures somewhere. Don't judge.

Once it was all finished, I spooned out a large portion of rice (probably enough for two, though technically I made four servings), then scooped what was probably an entire pepper, a third of the onion, and most of a chicken breast (I cooked both). All in all, I think my plate could have comfortably served two, with at least three more reasonable servings leftover. But, me and my tapeworm need satiating, so I went to work on the monstrous plate. Mel stayed on the phone while she ate some leftover Chinese food. It was like eating dinner together, I suppose.

Analyis: Delicious. By far the most extravagant meal I have ever made on my own. I opted out of making a salad because I figured it would just be too much food and too much hassle. I was getting enough veggies with the peppers and onions. Next time, I'm going to throw in some roasted peanuts (cashews could work, but would be second place behind peanuts) with the same recipe. I think it was missing a little crunchy texture. Other than that, it was almost perfect. And I have tons more to enjoy tomorrow.