Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ouch, It Bit Me!

So Cerinthus and I were walking along on our postprandial stroll the other night when I stepped on a small pile of leaves and something bit me! I was not sure at the time whether it was a bit or a sting but it really hurt all the way home. By the time I got home whatever it was seemed to have dislodged itself, but I put some "afterbite" on it and hoped it would be okay.

As the next day progressed, it swelled red and got itchier and itchier. The verdict from Servia and Cerinthus was that it had been a really nasty mosquito bite. I am not generally prone to mosquito bites, so I realized that my supposition that it was something significantly worse was unfounded. I took some antihistamine and put a band-aid over it.

When I took the band-aid off this morning, I was rather shocked. The bite is now bright purple and about the size of my pocket-watch's face. Other than it being (mostly) round instead of contorted in shape, it looks a lot like the brown-recluse bite I received a few years ago. Here's to hoping it isn't too poisonous!

More Information: We called a poison hotline and we think it's was a jumping spider. Nothing to do but wait and see.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My First Gai Pad Gra Prau

My First Attempt
Servia finally found some Holy Basil as I mentioned yesterday. I took a bunch of recipes off line but I made my own combination based on my memory of my favorite Thai restaurant in the city of my Alma Mater. This was my favorite dish. My version of it was way way too salty because the fish sauce we got was insanely salty. I really needed oyster sauce but I couldn't find any at the store where I got the chicken and the peppers. Here is a version of my recipe (serves 4-5 people):

  • 1 lb of chicken breast, cut into bit-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 6 sections of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 5 dried jalapenos with seeds, minced
  • 3/4 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced medium-thin
  • 2 red chili peppers (small), sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 a green bell pepper in thin slices
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper in thin slices
  • 1/4 cup holy basil leaves, fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce-- this was a complete disaster because of the salt. My suggestion would be 1/4 cup rice wine instead
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cooking sherry (optional)
  • 1/4 lime's worth of juice
  • Do all preparations.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a wok
  • Add in the dried jalapinos, garlic, and shallots and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add in the mushrooms and cook for one minute.
  • Add in the peppers and cook for two minutes.
  • Make a whole in the vegetables in the center of the wok. Pour in the sesame oil and then stir in the chicken and the holy basil. Cook the chicken until it is white on all sides but not brown.
  • While the chicken is cooking, mix the sauce together
  • Pour the sauce into the wok and cook for 3-5 minutes (until chicken is cooked through).
  • Serve over jasmine rice.
Anyway, I will continue to experiment. It is my favorite dish and I will make it work eventually.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Holy Basil: Present and Accounted For

Servia is a genius. She finally found some holy basil! She found the plant lurking alone in a Home Depot amongst other herbs. I cooked with it for the first time tonight. It was good, but not perfect (I made a slight error with fish sauce). More updates after my German final tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's Just Wrong!

I've spent a lot of time studying Greek today, so I decided I would reward myself by listening to the Berkeley class on Archaeology (Anthropology 2AC from Spring 2008). However, I went to webcast.berkeley in vain; the class is no longer there. In fact, a huge number of classes are no longer there.

Distressed, I looked for an explanation on Berkeley's website. I found a letter to the large group of perturbed self-education fans. The general gist is that the Real Player server has been retired, and all those courses with it. The team has been unable to find what they believe is an adequate conversion format for the files and seem to be hoping for donations in order to increase the possibility that they might find something. They claim that they might obtain a temporary stint on another server, but they give not hint as to when this might be: "We have requested additional temporary storage space on a new server, when this space comes online we will restore the Real Player files and make them available for the public to download for a limited period of time (Contingent upon instructor approval)." I do not have much faith in this limited period of time because they provided no warning whatsoever about the websites renovation.

I find this whole move quite saddening. Berkeley's webcasts are on of the great ways for people to educate themselves for free, and they are cutting off access to those who would seek out that education. I am posting this same note on Platonic Psychology because I believe it's an important problem.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is There A Cloaking Device in Our Future?

I was at the gym the other day when I spotted someone who I believe was Bill Nye the Science Guy on the news talking to a reporter and the headline was something like "Invisibility Cloak." I looked it up and it turns out that a scientist named Elena Semouchkina discovered a way of making objects invisible by shielding it from electromagnetic radiation. I found the NSF article here. The particular was that she does this-- which I must admit I do not entirely understand-- involves using glass.

Glass seems to limit the options of this device. However, upon further reading I found another article that talked about potentials of a newly-invented spray-on glass that allows glass coating on pretty much any object. The article makes the connection between the glass used in this object and the incredible versatility of spray glass forming the possibility of the cloak and any number of other things.

Monday, July 25, 2011

And the Internet Returns!

Our internet went out for a few days and we just got it back. It reminds me how much I rely on the internet to communicate with people, do homework (Leo German Dictionary, most especially), track food and exercise, etc. It's back now and I hope to resume more normal blogging once I take my German final on Friday. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cerinthus is Here

Cerinthus is here. He came in yesterday-- the same day that I finished my second major German translation project. Things are going well-- although I still have a lot of work to do. I just calculated that I have to review 2-3 chapters a week of both Hansen and Quinn and Moreland and Fleischer in order to study for my exams this fall. I'm hoping to have Cerinthus quiz me on verb forms.
H. Hansen's, G. Quinn's Greek 2nd(second) Revised edition (Greek: An Intensive Course [Paperback])(1992) Latin: An Intensive Course
Also as Cerinthus is here, I am baking some more bread and pizza since Cerinthus is here. I will probably post some pictures.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Servius

Today we celebrated Servius' birthday with a lovely brunch of fresh-baked bread, his favorite, grapes, raspberries, cheese, and carrots. Instead of having the picnic outside as originally planned, we watched the Japan-USA final match of the women's' soccer World Cup. The game was fantastic. It was exciting and I was rooting for Japan, because the country has had a really bad year and certainly deserves some national spirit.
I love this swirl pattern!
I took the idea for this scoring pattern from the beautiful work at the Tartine Bread Experiment.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Fond Memory

It's been a while since I have made any bread. I haven't had much time. Tomorrow is Servius' birthday so I thought I would make some bread so we could have a picnic lunch on the porch. I am making his favorite: my usual whole wheat Tartine bread with steel cut oats, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds.

While I was making the bread and some pizza dough for tonight, Servia and I were talking about the Harry Potter phenomenon. These last two movies which dramatize book 7 have been theonly two for which we did not attend the midnight showing (and I have not seen the final movie yet). We all have been really busy and book 7 is by a mile my least favorite of the set. Servia mentioned she missed going to the movie, but I really miss the pageantry of the books coming out. Even by the time that the second book came out in Britain (we rush ordered it because it took a lot longer to arrive in the USA), I was old enough to realize that the writing was not particularly good, but I enjoyed the pageantry of the whole thing. When the books came out, Servia and I would make apple pie for Servius as he read the books outloud to us. We drank tea and made plot predictions. Those summers on the porch are some of the happiest moments from my childhood (and beyond) and lining up to get the books at midnight made it seem like this happiness and vigor was widespread. I was considering this afternoon how much I wish there were another equally-appreciated series that would once again have people of every age and personality lined up at book stores all over the world. Maybe someday...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Like Time Team, but Older

Recently, due to a construction contract and a harsh winter, paleontologist had to unearth one of the largest cashes of Pleistocene (the most recent Ice Age) mammals in 70 days. A great New York Times article Servia sent me discusses the time-crunched dig. What is most impressive about these findings is that the cash is so large that not only have scientists gained a vast array of bones, but they actually have enough data now in order to determine new information like migratory patterns of large mammals. There is a short slide show of Ice Age bones at the New York Times as well.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thoughts on the Oxford Comma

Learning the Oxford comma (also known as the serial comma) was one of the few memories I have of learning the rules of grammar or punctuation before seventh grade. In second grade, we were learning the correct way to write a list and we were told that the final comma before an "and" (the Oxford comma) was optional, but was coming into broader usage and thus should probably be employed.
e.g. I can read English, Latin[,] and Classical Greek.
The bracketed comma is an Oxford comma. I have always rather liked the Oxford comma, partially because it can clarify the meaning of a sentence. The Oxford Dictionaries provides this illustrative example:
e.g. These items are available in black and white, red and yellow, and blue and green.
According to an article on Salon, the Oxford PR department has decided to drop the Oxford comma (although the "Update" claims that this has been true for several years). As a fan, I am rather sad.

I found while Googling the Oxford comma that a band called Vampire Weekend wrote a song called "Oxford Comma" (which apparently those at Salon found as well). It's a rather random song, but I thought it was an amusing conclusion.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Thoughts on Music

I've always thought that I had a musical ear. I play an assortment of various instruments rather poorly, since I never took the trouble to practice enough and my ability to read music is very minimal, but I sang well at school and in a few different choirs. Today, my musical ego was taken down quite a few notches.

I spent a few hours reading in a studio where a bunch of good musicians were recording. There were a couple of things that I noticed. The producer's roll is so vital. He could immediately hear not only when a note or chord as missed, but more importantly when an individual piece simply did not fit. I was so impressed. On albums of artists I like, I have noticed differences between production styles, but seeing it in action I realized just how talented someone has to be to do a good job.

Happy holiday weekend, everyone!