Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Beginning of Classes

I was so concerned with the conference that I have not blogged at all about the beginning of classes. My classes are fascinating.

The only one I don't like so far is my Latin class on the civil war in Rome, reading Caesar and Lucan. The professor is a wonderful young woman with a sly sense of humor (and no sense of fashion) and a cheerfulness not often associated with a military historian. However, the subject matter is just not my usual fare, sadly, and I'm having trouble getting into it.

I'm also taking two political science courses. The first is called Political Theory and Empire. I'm taking it for a half credit because otherwise I would have way too much work, between thesis and my other classes. The class is great. It's being taught by a smart and spunky female professor whose specialty involves looking at the contradictions between the imperial/paternalistic politics of (often liberal) political philosophers and their grand theories of government. The class is small, only seven people, and the discussions are lively. My favorite person in it is a history major (who happens to be dating a friend of mine) and who provides incisive commentary alongside an incredible sense of style that might have been more appropriate in some bygone era (although her clothing is fairly awesome in the present, it certainly has an anachronistic quality to it). The class is so fabulous that we have gotten out up to half an hour late because the discussions were so passionate and interesting.

My final class (other than thesis) is a political science course designed as a "research seminar," or, at least that is what my professor calls it. The class, called "What is Freedom?" is meant to culminate in a term paper that answers that question by discussing a particular point of view on freedom of some theorist. I am, obviously, going to write my term paper on Plato. However, the course is also designed around making sure that we cover a number of different critical approaches to freedom and discuss and debate them in class. However, we are also required to do a lot of outside reading as "backgroung" not technically on the syllabus, which is kind of problematic because it means that the class takes up much more time than a normal class. The professor is great-- I'm partially taking her class in the hope that she will write me a graduate school recommendation when the time comes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Conference Updates

I GOT IN! Sulpicia (III) daughter of Servius has been accepted to present the first completed chapter of her thesis at the Atlantic University Undergraduate History and the Classics Conference to be held at St. Thomas University! I am so excited! I have a lot of work to do before then, but I cannot wait.

I have a few more conferences to which I still must apply. Crossing my fingers...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Classics Conferences

I was a straight A student in high school. I was essentially the valedictorian, although they did not publish ranks or GPAs so they just called the award something else. I was the captain of the debate team and there were periods where I was ranked as high as 19th in the country on the national debate circuit (I did Lincoln-Douglas) and 5th in California. Although I had friends, I was a prude and a recluse. When I came to college, I broke loose. I got mono my first semester, I was involved in all sorts of drama, I took drugs and drank, I gained a huge amount of weight, and my GPA through the floor. Over the last two years, I have lost 60 lbs, stopped taking drugs, almost entirely stopped drinking (although I'll have a glass of wine with dinner now and again now that I'm 21), my GPA has skyrocketed, and I've boosted my confidence and energy level.

Finally, for the first time since I entered college, I feel I have a decent chance getting papers into classics conferences. I sent in my first abstract on the 21st of January. I sent it into The Atlantic University Undergraduate History and Classics Conference (although I'm out of region). They sent me a very nice and person note back letting me know that if I were accepted I would be allowed to present (and would be the first American to present) so long as I could find transport. It was incredibly flattering. I'm working on sending abstracts into UBC, Cornell, and Willamette (and possibly Bristol) in the next week or so. Wish me good luck!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Industrial Apple Machine

Yesterday, as usual, I did not work at all on my thesis. This seems to be a continual trend, and one that has to change-- today.But that problem is for a few minutes from now.

Last night I watched The Band's Visit with Cerinthus and Ponticus (1). The movie was very quirky. With a bizarre and awkward sense of humor and an oddly limited color palette, the movie was unusual and well done.

Earlier that day, I had spent a long time on the phone with the bus company. I left a pair of gloves on the bus on Friday. They were beautiful black leather Alfani gloves, ruched at the wrists, lined with cashmere. Unfortunately, someone took them. It was my fault. I was tired and dehydrated. It was raining when I walked the mile to the bust stop. By the time I got on the bus, the gloves were soaked. I placed them on my lap to dry. Unfortunately, I ended up getting distracted reading my kindle and then talking to someone about my kindle. When I got up, I didn't remember the gloves and they fell off my lap. By the time I realized, I was already on the train to the ice skating rink. I called an emailed 4-5 times on Friday but the gloves were expensive and chic, so I figured that someone would have taken them. Cerinthus, my darling, sweet and generous as ever, decided to buy me a new pair. Unfortunately, they could not be bought online, however, after about 2 hours of phone calls, it turned out that they had a pair at our local Macy's. He went to buy them. I went to get groceries.

To thank him, I decided to make him an apple pie. Apple pie is my father's favorite dessert and I have been making it since as long as I can remember. Some of my jumbled early memories are of rolling dough with my little tiny rolling pin, while my mom used her gigantic glass rolling pin. Anyway, over the years I have become quite the expert at making apple pie. I noticed that everyone has their own preferences. My father likes hard tart granny-smith apples cut so thinly that they turn into tart apple sauce in the oven. Cerinthus likes some apple chunks, so the apples are slightly thicker, and he likes green apples that are tart but that are not granny smith and he prefers them to be locally grown. This particular pie had braeburn apples. Both my father and Cerinthus like almost no sugar inside the pie, and no sugar on top of the crust.

So I made an apple pie before running my first group on Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. The group went well and the pie went well. Cerinthus had a piece of pie and thoroughly enjoyed it, which made me feel good. When Ponticus came over, Cerinthus had a second piece of pie, and Ponticus had one as well. Then, the two of them got into a discussion over the best way to core and peel apples. Ponticus and Cerinthus began designing a machine to do the task-- entirely run by either cranks or levers. They spent an hour discussing the interworkings of the machinery, the slicing mechanism-- whether blades or a wire, how to remove the core from the apple, etc. It was great. Listening to the interworkings of the engineering was fabulous. This is the reason I love my friends.

  1. Ponticus was an epic poet in Propertius' circle. Propertius mentions Ponticus in poem VII. Ponticus is the ultimate rival against love.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I've been up at school in my apartment for a few days. Cerinthus has been fabulously wonderful and sweet. My thesis-- not so much. I haven't gotten to work on it at all, partially due to time constraints, partially due to my own laziness.

Cerinthus is beginning an architectural blog at my urging. He met a woman on the train who asked him if he had a card yet (although he's still in college he's been working for something like 5 summers now for different architectural firms. He started as an assistant, but started doing design work). He didn't, so he gave the woman his name and email address. I suggested that he start a blog to show off some of his architectural designs and link to the type of architecture in which he is interested. I might post a link when he gets the blog up and running.

Since the beginning of this last semester, I have been running a study group on Heidegger on Friday nights. The study group is named Being and Conference, after the text Being and Time, the book which we are reading and discussing. The conference is fun and productive. We have even had a couple of professors make guest appearances. It's been really nice. This week I'm running a Kierkegaard conference on Fear and Trembling starting tomorrow. I'm worried about this because it is much more spiritual than Heidegger and seems like it might be more difficult to discuss.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In the daily mail

Cerinthus and I returned to school yesterday. Classes do not resume for a long while, but we get to spend the next week enjoying life in the apartment with work preparing for the semester (I must, of course, spend a lot of time working on my thesis), but not the same hustle and bustle of classes. We have been enjoying each others company as well as catching up on news, reading, grocery shopping, etc. Things are a little bit strange because Cerinthus got a haircut while he was home. It used to be quite long-- he wore sideburns and a ponytail (his hair was down to his shoulders). Now, it is quite short-- not a buzz cut or the like, but still only an inch-and-a-half or so long. He looks so incredibly different, especially because he also got a pair of glasses (he regularly wears contacts and he still does, but the glasses are for days when his allergies act up, etc) and is rather hard to accustom myself to it. However, it is lovely to see him again and to be back.

Today, being our first full day back, we went to check the mail. Although I was expecting one package, I ended up with four. One of them turned out to actually be for Cerinthus-- Acomdata repaired the harddrive that I accidently broke and sent it back to him. Oddly enough they sent him no warning. It was, however, a wonderful surprise and we now have another terabite of backup for pictures, movies, and music, which will be quite nice (and I don't feel so bad for accidentally messing it up, although they could not recover any of the data). A second package should have arrived before I left school-- it was some tea and a new head for my toothbrush from my lovely mother. Very nice and useful, even though it was late.

The last two items were orders from The first were the figure skate guards I bought for Cerinthus and me. Mine are silver glitz and his are red glitz. They are guard dog skate guards and I found they fairly easy to put together. We will probably go skating tomorrow, so I will get to test them out for real, but I like them so far.

The last package was the most exciting of all. I am actually using it right now. In the big amazon box was my Dell Inspiron 11z. YAY. I have had the same computer for the last 5 years. It was a fabulous laptop-- a Dell Inspiron 700m. It still works perfectly well, but because I am in the middle of my thesis, my wonderful parents decided that they should buy me a new laptop so that I would have it in case my old laptop crashed. I feel very sad, somehow, abandoning it, but I am glad to have a lighter, faster, more powerful laptop with a much bigger harddrive.

The one thing that I am having a real trouble with is Windows 7. It is too much like a Mac operating system. I understand the beauty of Mac operating systems but they just do not work for me. I do not love Windows operating systems either, but there was something less graphic and more manual about them that I appreciated which Windows 7 does not seem to have. I will have to continue using it and then evaluate it again.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cerinthus' Visit-- 10 days in Recipes and Food Commentary

Cerinthus was here for ten days. Ten glorious days filled with love and food. We went out to eat a lot and made a lot of wonderful food over the journey.

Cerinthus arrived on New Year's Eve. Having no real plans, Cerinthus, my parents, and I decided to see if the local Italian place, Oliva's, could squeeze us in for their set dinner. As it turned out, they had space, so we had a wonderful meal with rosemary bread, Caesar salad, gnocchi in a mushroom aurora sauce, and dark chocolate cake. It was wonderful. After walking home, we played poker and watched Ishtar until midnight. It was fabulous.

The next morning, New Year's Day, we made whole wheat, primarily-egg-white French toast. We sliced the toast a little too thick, but other than that, the country-wheat bread held up very nicely and the 3:1 whites to egg combination was fabulous, especially when seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract.

That week, we also went (twice) to my favorite Indian restaurant, the Clay Oven. The food is wonderful and the atmosphere is fairly strange. Looked over by a gigantic black cross-legged statue, the goldenrod and white restaurant plays strange Indian techno music. The food is wonderfully flavorful, and most dishes can be ordered with any degree of spice. Case and point, Cerinthus gets his chicken tikka masala at medium, while I get mine spicy. We also had garlic and paneer naan.

By the recommendation of a friend, we visited the thai place about two blocks away from Indian, called Lanathai. My mom had visited this restaurant 20 years ago, but had never been back. The food we had was magnificent. Cerinthus ordered something called the Sizzling Plate which consisted of red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, chicken, and pineapples in a spicy sweet and sour sauce. He cleaned the plate, saying he could never order anything else from the thai place. I got a nice fried rice (albeit fairly traditional). My mom got a phenomenal dish called cashew chicken which was onions, cashews, dried red peppers. It was shockingly fabulous, espeically because I like the flavor of onions but not large pieces of onion, for the most part.

One the final night that Cerinthus was in town, we decided to make two chicken pasta dishes. They were great if I do say myself. Here are the recipes. Both are modified from recipes I found online.

Chicken Piccata Pasta (1):
Makes about 2 1/2-3 servings

1 chicken breast (pounded to 1/2 inch thick)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
2 1/3 cup of dried wheat fusilli
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice (or preferably fresh-squeezed juice from one large Meyer lemon)
30 (or so) capers
salt (to taste)
white pepper (to taste)
fresh chopped parsley (for garnish)
1-2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (preferably freshly grated)

Place the chicken breast between wax paper or something of that type and, using the flat side of a meat tenderizer, pound out the chicken to about 1/2-inch thick.

Mix the flour, salt, and pepper on a plate. Drag the chicken through. Shake off any excess.

Bring pot full of water to a boil and add fusilli. Follow the directions for the pasta.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. When the butter starts to sizzle, start browning the chicken breasts.

When the chicken is browned, remove from the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil from skillet. Add shallots to the skillet and saute for about 1 minute. Meanwhile, if you wish, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Then add the chicken stock, the lemon juice, and the white wine.

Let the sauce simmer and add salt and white pepper to taste, then add the capers. Let reduce for a 3-5 minutes. Add in the pasta and chicken pieces. Mix well. Add in Parmesan and parsley. Stir well and serve hot.

Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo (2)
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt (to taste)
white pepper, freshly ground (to taste)
1 package fettucine, prepared as directed
Chicken (if desired)
Chicken with cajun spices and lime pan-grilled in olive oil and crushed garlic.

Melt the butter in a large skillet. When the butter is melted, add the cream cheese.

When the cream cheese is softened, add Parmesan.

When Parmesan begins to melt, add heavy cream. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Let simmer for 15-20 minutes over medium or medium-low heat.

Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir in chicken and fettuccine. Mix well and serve hot.

The last thing I made was for Cerinthus' plane ride home. It was my traditional fried rice that I learned from eating way too much at the thai place up by school.

Sulpicia's Fried Rice
Makes approximately 3 servings

1 cup of dried rice. My suggestion is NOT to rinse it first and to use a mixture white rice, red rice, and brown rice (although any rice should be fine)
2 1/2 cup water
Soy sauce (to taste)
Lime juice (1/2-1 lime, fresh squeezed)
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
pressed garlic (to taste)
1/4 cup egg white
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped
1/8-1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
pressed garlic, to taste
1/2 cup water
Chicken (if desired)
Chicken with cajun spices and lime pan-grilled in olive oil and crushed garlic.

Put rice and water in a pot. Cover on medium heat. Stir and add water as necessary. Rice should be sticky, but not undercooked.

Meanwhile, put 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic in skillet. Heat on medium heat.

When garlic begins to sizzle, add onions. Let heat for 2 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add broccoli. Then add about a quarter cup of water to help broccoli steam.

When the water has mostly evaporated, add carrots and another 1/4 cup of water.

When that evaporates, add green bell peppers. Stir and heat thoroughly. Pour vegetables in to a bowl.

When rice is finished, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic to the skillet. When garlic begins to sizzle, add the rice.

Add soy sauce and 1/4 lime juice to the rice. Stir. Then add shallots. Stir. (Note: if the rice you are using is not fresh, add in 1/4 cup water to plump the rice and/or tablespoons of water as needed).

Add the vegetables to the rice. Mix well. Add more soy sauce and the remaining lime juice. Mix well. Add chicken (if desired). Mix well. Then stir in egg white (if desired-- can be made without for a vegan dish). When traces of egg white are thoroughly cooked at the bottom of then pan, then the rice is finished. Serve hot.

  1. Modified recipe from
  2. Modified recipe from

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Placid Kingdom

I am home. The holidays were a lot of work, as always, but they were joyful. However, now that they are over, my family has taken up its usual habit of watching British television shows. The most recent one is Kingdom.

Kingdom is a quaint little show about a small-town solicitor named Peter Kingdom. Peter Kingdom enjoys the country life with his practice and his idiotic apprentice Lyle and his organized and gentle secretary Gloria. As a back story, Peter's brother Simon has, supposedly, committed suicide by walking into the sea. Peter is dealing with uncovering the secret gambling problems of his brother. However, lest even that be somewhat peaceful his crazy sister Beatrice, escaped from a mental institution and has come to live with him.

It's quite a cute series.