Sunday, July 31, 2011

Accurate Scales Save Lives!

When it comes to certain things, I am a bit of a luddite. Here is a list of things which I prefer in mechanical or analog format

-Clocks and watches

Speaking of scales: I am researching purchasing one for the bathroom. I want one that has a dial instead of a digital read for two reasons: aesthetics and lack of batteries. I also want it to be cheap because I am cheap.

I found this one that fit the bill: The Health O Meter Dial Scale, for $13.99.

Of course, it being Amazon, I read the reviews. The first one I read started off oddly: 

As a career food champion, I need to constantly weigh myself and eat accordingly during the competition season. 

What is a food champion? I do not know. But I read on, in search of context.

I usually wake up and eat 20 hard boiled eggs and 40 pickles before 9am. 

I don't have much to say about this. It just sounds really unpleasant. Forty pickles? Forty?

I purchased this scale to take with my to the tournaments. 

Ah. EATING CONTESTS. Filed away in that pile of things I will never fully understand. I feel awful after overeating. I can't imagine anyone feels good. Those people who plan and get all excited to stuff themselves on Thanksgiving? Masochists. There is no pleasure for me in being stuffed full. Even if there is a competitive element. I am just crampy and constipated and uncomfortably sleepy.

I always make sure I weigh 250 pounds going into every season and 300 when I get out per my doctor's orders. 

Who is this guy's doctor? Dr. Nick??

Unfortunately, this scale does not tell you if you are at 300 or above 300. The meter just stops. For about 4 weeks I thought I was at my normal weight.

Then it gets really bizarre:

When I returned home I weighed 328 pounds. Two weeks ago I had cardiac arrest due to eating 495 clams and 300 shrimp in eight minutes. 

I think this is not the scale's fault.

I'm not saying this scale is not good for what it can do, but keep this in mind if you are overweight or a food champion like myself. This could cause very serious repercussions.

There are two grammar problems with this section. 1. It should be one sentence and 2. "or" is the incorrect word to use here.

Additionally, I would like to point out that having an inaccurate scale is not the thing that might cause serious repercussions. 

 Next year I will not be bringing this scale with me, and I will break my record and eat 500 clams.

Best of luck.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It could have been worse.

I don't take back what I said in the last entry, but it certainly could have been worse. My friend's sister was on this flight.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I spent 5 hours trying to sleep on the floor of the Cinncinnati airport yesterday. As "reparations" for cancelling our flight, the airline gave us each $6 to purchase food. I'm not sure where they expected us to buy a meal for $6 at the airport, but as Ryan and my father pointed out, it was almost insulting.

This was after our trip out, where flight delays resulted in us (long story short) running across the Detroit airport with only a few minutes to spare between us having to stay the night in Detroit and us not having to stay the night in Detroit.

I was running down one of those moving walkways, messenger bag thumping against my back, panting out "excuse me..." to the people I was trying to squeeze past when a man, who had to be asked twice, said to me, "What's the big hurry??"

I didn't stop to answer because, well, being in an airport and all... I was worried about missing my plane.

A similar thing happened in Detroit (again) this time, with a fat, diabetic man on the escalator already annoyed because Ryan had asked him to move his suitcase so that he could get passed (once again, we were short on time) and then when I asked for the same thing he said, "The escalator's not for people who want to move. The stairs are for people who want to move." At this point in the trip, I would like to add, I had reached the end of my tether. Also, we weren't in serious danger of missing our flight, so I had enough time to say to him, "You're wrong and if you'd done this in London, you would have been thrown off the escalator."

I'm not sure when plane travel became so unpleasant. I remember in the 80's, when I was tiny, it was a fun adventure. I don't know if it was because I was small enough to be able to sleep comfortably in the seats then or because air travel was just better than. I am still small enough these days that, if I am flying with Ryan, I can manage to catch a few uncomfortable winks - I turn sideways, tuck my toes under his knees and sleep in a fetal position. I can't sleep without my feet resting on something and they do not touch the floor in most planes. I'm not abnormally short or anything, just run of the mill, average short, but short enough that unless I can rest my feet on my carry-on I am quite uncomfortable. One merciless flight attendant wouldn't allow me to rest my feet on my carry-on for a whole flight across the damn Atlantic, insisting that it had to be under the seat in front of me for the duration (incidentally, she also wouldn't allow me to have a book on my lap during take off and landing)(what a bitch).

I've heard that one doesn't truly remember the pain of childbirth; the reason being that if women remembered how painful it was, they would only do it once. I think that plane travel experience probably results in the same memory loss - why else would we continue to subject ourselves to this misery, this merciless machine, this discomfort on every level - we are forced to sit closer to people than is considered polite, exposed to their breath, gasses and elbows, we sleep on nasty plastic-carpeted floors,

Every time I go through it, I swear, NEVER AGAIN. But then there is another wedding or other thing, far enough in the future that I don't remember how awful it is or I don't want to let my own fear of discomfort take away from enjoying my friends....and here we are. Back sitting behind a shrieking child, avoiding the glare of the stranger next to you and trying to sleep with your toes jammed into the seat pocket in front of you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Email from my husband II

From: Ryan
To: Alice
Subject: re: Jeeves had an interesting walk this morning

Jeeves is a white dog with brown spots.  His ears are lopsided!

This morning, Jeeves went for a walk.  He got to smell his favourite corner.

Then he went up to the levee near Fall Creek.  There is a big willow tree
on the other side of the creek.

CRICK! CRACK!  What's that sound?  It's the willow tree!
The willow tree is falling over!  CREEEeeeaaak.
SPLASH! into the creek.

At the end of the path, Jeeves turns left onto Cayuga St.  There is a fire
truck here.  And there is an ambulance in the driveway.

Look at that! A stag is walking down the road!  He looks a little scared.

Jeeves follows the stag down Cayuga Street and left onto Falls Street.  There
are two other dogs on Falls Street, and the stag runs away.

Wow! What a morning.  Jeeves needs a nap.

Email from my husband

From: Ryan
To: Alice
Subject: Jeeves had an interesting walk this morning

First, he got to smell the corner.  Then, we walked up onto the levee
and watched a big willow tree fall into the creek.  Then, there was a
firetruck.  Finally, a stag ran south on Cayuga and turned left onto
Falls Street and we chased him down Falls Street until he turned north
on Tioga and we turned south.  Wow!  What a walk.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Putting the hay up

My best friend here in Ithaca owns a horse farm (I ride her horses, the last 2 years in a row I've had a pony to train, this year I've been sticking with a big red warmblood mare named Ruby because I'm tired of posting quickly). 

Of course owning 30 head of horses means you have to feed 30 head of horses and while she has tons of pasture, that pasture is covered in snow most of the winter. Hay can be made less expensive moneywise if you spend a week mowing, drying, baling and then stacking it yourself (and spreading manure on it year round). This last week was that week. Friday, we put up* 7 wagons, yesterday and today another 4. I do not know how many bales in a wagon but I do know that we end up with over 1000 bales. And that doesn't last even half the winter! Casey usually supplements with round bales, which are expensive, money wise but it means that feeding the horse doesn't have to be done every day, twice a day. And with the exception of a few hard keepers (mostly thoroughbreds, of course), because we don't ride in the winter, none of them need much grain to keep weight on (particularly the Welshes). 

*putting up the hay requires many hands and many steps: 1. Someone bales the hay; 2. Someone drives over to the field to pick up the full hay wagon; 3. Hay wagon is delivered to the barn; 4; With 2 or 3 people in the hay loft  (the most unpleasant position) taking the bales off the elevator and stacking them, and one person putting bales on the elevator plus one or two people on top of the hay wagon, passing (or dropping or throwing) the hay to the person on the elevator, the wagon is unloaded into the loft and put in neat, stacks. 
It's good, honest work and I can't help but feel like it is so much more fulfilling than trying to complete competitive renewal paperwork, which is what I have to look forward to tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When I mistook my thumb for a carrot.

Chopping carrots last night, I sliced my thumb open pretty badly. I rushed over to the sink and rinsed it, while gripping it in anguish and tried to decide what to do.

I was fairly certain I needed a stitch or two, but, I really did not want to waste an evening in the urgent care and Gannett was closed. My phone was luckily on the floor and not somewhere where I'd have to dig for it. I used my toe and my good hand to open it and then my good hand to call Ryan, who was walking home. I sobbed and yelled about thumb pain. He ran home in the 90 degree F heat and in all of Ithaca's glorious humidity!

Then he drove over to the hardware store and bought some superglue. He cleaned off my thumb, poured rubbing alcohol over it (stingy!!) and after I dried it off with a piece of gauze, he glued my cut back together.  

What a guy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Miso Soup Stirrer

There's a job posting on the Victoria, Washington Craigslist for a position as Miso Soup Stirrer.

I'm in need of a shiromiso soup stirrer for part-time work. Japanese Miso soup consists of softened miso paste suspended in a hot stock called "dashi." While the miso paste easily mixes with the dashi, in time it will settle and separate. My personal preference is to enjoy a mixed (stirred) miso soup, where the paste clouds the bowl. What I'm looking for is someone (male, female and transgendered are welcome) to stand beside my table during meals and stir my miso soup so that the bowl remains cloudy while I am enjoying other delicacies. (note: miso soup is not the only thing I eat)

You will be informed (via mobile phone) where my next meal will be. You will arrive in uniform an hour ahead of my own entrance and await me in the foyer or by the hostess' stand. You will accompany my party and I to our seats and you will stand beside my table and stir my soup once it has arrived. Using subtle hand signals, I will direct you to stir the soup along the side of the table. When I am ready to eat it, a signal will inform you to place the soup in front of me. While I am eating my soup, you will stand where you were stirring, making sure that the utensil you were using does not touch the table, or any other object. If I stop eating soup, you will stir the remainder. If I am done with my soup you will remain at attention in case I order more. When the meal is over, you will leave and await your next contact.

You and I will not speak for the duration of the meal, yet my guests may at times wish to engage you in conversation. You may converse with them, but you will only speak when spoken to. Eye contact with me is unadvised.

What you'll need:

Transportation: you will need to provide your own transportation to and from the places I dine. If I am traveling outside of the greater Vancouver area, transportation assistance funds will be provided. The ideal candidate will already posses a valid drivers license.

Communication: It is essential that I am able to communicate with you at all times. While I normally enjoy a very traditional dining schedule, sometimes my exotic tastes and whims can bring me to the dinner table at strange times. Other times, it is my work that effects when and where I eat. As a part of this position, I will provide you with an Iridium 9555 Sat Phone so I may reach you when I need you. The first day you don't show up at the appointed time will be the day I repost this ad to find your replacement. If you already have a satellite-linked mobile phone for personal use, I can provide a stipend to pay for the monthly service. The ideal candidate will also be fluent in English. However, English need not be your first language and candidates who speak multiple languages will be looked upon favorably.

Physical Fitness: You will stand for the duration of the meal, so the ideal candidate will have the physical fitness to remain standing in place for as long as three (3) hours. If you arrive at the restaurant ahead of me, I wish to encounter you standing as you prepare for my entrance. A previous employee could not follow this simple rule and was summarily terminated. Please understand that while I have the utmost respect for my employees, I at no time wish to see you seated. This is not a position for someone with chronic leg/lower back pain, or someone who wishes to take breaks every 15 minutes. It is also no secret that I love the Platonic form of beauty, but I am an equal opportunity employer and I welcome cover letters, resumes/CVs and photographs from all races and sexes.

Attire: I am an important man within my community and it would be unbecoming of me to consort with men or women who dress poorly. In your cover letter, please include your measurements so I may fit you with a custom silk kimono. The right candidate will be provided a new kimono and geta each month. While in service, the kimonos are not to be worn outside of work. Once I have given you a new set, you are free to use the old set for personal use. However, please keep track of which set is currently in use. I do not wish to see old kimonos being worn.

Requisite Skills:

While I have posted this opportunity in the hospitality section, the reality is that I am open to candidates from many walks of life. While a background in Japanese cuisine is helpful, you will not be required to prepare or serve my soup. Your task will be to simply stir it while I eat. This opportunity may seem well-suited for an experienced personal assistant or executive secretary. Yet, even though I dine at some of the world's most exclusive Japanese restaurants, you will not be required to book my table. Muscular men or a female athlete may think they have the upper hand in applying, but my last miso soup stirrer was of average physical build and she served me without issue for several years before going on to pursue other ventures.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is this a real posting? Is this opportunity for real?
--Yes, this is a real offer for part-time, contract employment. I would not have taken the time to illustrate my needs in detail if this wasn't a serious offer.

How will I be paid?
--You will be paid cash in person at the end of the last scheduled meal of the month. If for some reason that meal is delayed or canceled, you will receive your payment promptly at the beginning of the next meal.

Are there benefits?
--While this is a contract position, I am open to the idea of building a long term business relationship with the right candidate. Such discussions could include my coverage of private health care, a retirement package and other perks. While in service, the kimonos are not to be worn outside of work. The satellite-linked mobile phone is never to be used for personal calls.

How often do you eat miso soup?
--Not every meal I enjoy is Japanese cuisine. However, when I do dine at Japanese restaurants or enjoy meals from Japanese chefs at private homes, I indulge in miso soup. Normally, I enjoy miso soup during meals at least three (3) times a week.

When do you eat dinner?
--I normally sit down for dinner between 8:00pm PT and 9:00 pm PT. Dinner can last between 1-3 hours, depending on the company I am with.

How do I apply for this position?
--Please send an e-mail with your contact information as well as a photo and a cover letter detailing why you are a candidate worth my time. Please note that only those selected for a personal interview will receive a reply. Those who do not meet the physical requirements, or those who fail to include a full length photo will obviously not be contacted. 

It seems to me that one's soup would be far too cold if it were subjected to constant stirring.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gorge Deaths

-Three people have died this summer swimming in the gorges which is something I do quite frequently. All three of them died in the Fall Creek Gorge, two of them on Saturday, the day we hiked up through four Fall Creek falls, one of them on Saturday afternoon under Ithaca Falls, while I sat near the top of Ithaca Falls, unaware.


I can't stop imagining what it must have been like to have drowned under the falls. At some point, you have to stop struggling and accept death. Then you are gone.

Tandoori Tempeh

Last night I made tandoori tempeh. As per my usual system of making curry pastes, powders and the like , I always at least double the recipe and reserve the remainder for another day. So here, I've posted the curry paste recipe for a single recipe but in actuality, I doubled everything in the paste portion, put it in a jar in the freezer. Since I have left over tempeh, I'll make it again soon and it will take about 5 minutes of prep. This time, I used about 10 oz of tempeh, sliced into triangles - but I am not entirely sure on the actual amount as I was using up leftover bulk. 

For the curry paste:

1 tsp cumin seeds 
1 tsp coriander seeds 
2 hot chilis or 1 tsp chili powder 

2 tsp garam masala 
2 tbsp sweet paprika 
Juice of ½ a lemon 
2 tbsp oil (neutral tasting like peanut, groundnut or canola)
1 tsp salt 
½ tsp turmeric 
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, crushed 
Large knob of fresh root ginger, finely grated 

Toast cumin, coriander and chili peppers, if you are using them, in a pan until fragrant. Put in a spice grinder and make into a powder. Combine with rest of ingredients, adjust spices to personal preference, as needed. 

For the marinade:
Combine curry paste with:
5 oz yoghurt
1tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar

Pour about a third of the mixture or or enough to coat the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 10" square one). Place a layer of tempeh in the baking dish and pour over the remaining marinade. I ended up having a couple of extra triangles that didn't fit, so I put them on top and scooped marinade over them. Let it sit for 20 minutes to 2 hours, while you do your dishes and chop cucumbers for the salad or watch an episode of the Simpsons or Poirot or Doctor Who or whatever. Somewhere in there, remember to pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

When you are ready to bake, put it in the oven for 20 minutes or so. 

Then take it out and enjoy. We had ours over a bed of rice with a cucumber salad, dressed with a rice vinaigrette. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Strawberry season.

- I occasionally have reason to take dictation in the form of what is known as a cassette tape. Some of you may remember these items - an elegant way of storing audible information. Some of you may even have one or two lying around your car or home.

-I have learned to love omelettes. I thought, for years, that I wasn't keen on eggs. Then I started eating fresh eggs. Meaning not-from-the-grocery store eggs. Frankly, after a year or so of living on fresh ones from the farm (sometimes -almost- literally straight from the hen's cloaca...) the idea of eggs from the grocery store is a little disgusting. They do not taste right. They taste old. We have our omelettes stuffed with Lively Run goat cheese and arugula. After our little trip to the Dixon Market this a few weekends ago, on the way to a wedding in Central CA, where we bought super cheap sun dried tomatoes, I can see some of them making it in to our omelettes as well (unless I just eat them all straight out of the bag, which I have been doing frequently).

-This article in the New York times is strange to me. I have been bringing my own food onto airplanes for years. I thought that this was a normal (obvious) thing to do - everyone knows airplane food is awful and now they expect you to pay extra for it, why would anyone do that? Fruit, nuts, salads (with 3oz of salad dressing), sandwiches. I also always carry teabags with me - you never know when you are going to chance upon the possibility of boiling water (or slightly cooler, if it's green).

- We picked 2 gallons of strawberries last weekend. I made strawberry jam and ate them fresh with cream Apparently eating them with a bit of (unwhipped) heavy cream poured over them and a sprinkle of sugar is more of an English thing than I had assumed, having 2 experiences recently where people were new to the idea. I'm not sure about this though, it just seems like a really obvious thing to do with fresh berries. It's much nicer than whipped cream, I think, although whipped cream is pretty essential for the last thing we did with the strawberries: strawberry shortcake. I just had some leftovers for breakfast. Strawberry season is so short, but so delicious.

We found these in the strawberry patch when we were picking:

-I made a failure of a peanut soup last night which was rescued with some thai flavours. I did not have enough peanut butter on hand, so it just wasn't any where near as strongly flavoured as it should have been. Next time!

-I'm considering quitting my part time job and just spending the rest of the summer riding. I may be unable to next summer, so I want to get in as much as I can before then.