Monday, March 21, 2011

Roasted Vegetables.

OK, first of all, let's get one thing straight.


I like my steak, my chicken, my bacon. Land-dwelling animal? Most likely I will eat it. Admittedly, not a fan of turkey unless it's Thanksgiving.  Yeah, I like my starchy products, too.  Well, I'm just a fan of food in general.  If it tastes good, I will like it.

That being said, I should note that I don't eat as much vegetables and fruits as I probably should. The food pyramid is wrong.  You know, starches on the bottom, oil/fat at the top, everything else kind of in the middle. Nowadays, people are pushing for more veggies and fruits, less of meat, cheese, and bread. In my case, my food pyramid looks like this:

Get the point?

A lot of my friends are becoming vegetarian. I can't do it. Quite simply, I love steak too much.  A nice prime rib with au jus and horseradish sauce? Mmmm. Filet mignon, medium-rare with sautéed onions and mushrooms and garlic in a red wine reduction? Delicious!

But I digress.

Instead, today I will talk about my attempt at roasting vegetables in an effort to actually increase my vegetable intake.  Actually, it will be a how-to guide to roasting vegetables, my way. (i.e. Lots of pictures!)


  • Yellow Squash - 3x (about 6 inches long each)
  • Asparagus - Bunch (the skinny kind is what I used)
  • Red Onion - 1x (medium to large size)
  • Extra virgin olive oil - EVOO!!
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Minced Garlic

Preheat oven to 400˚ F.

On a roasting pan, put foil down. In my case, I used a cookie sheet with 1 strip of foil.  

Snap the butt-ends of the asparagus off. You can use your fingers or you can use a knife. (Use only half the asparagus in the bunch.)

Cut the squash down the center, then down the center, then dice into 1cm (~1/2 inch) chunks.

Cut ends off of onion and peel first layer off.

Cut in half, then cut across, then cut at an angle so each segment is about 1-2 cm (~1/2 to 1 inch) wide at the center. (Use only half)

Place all veggies in colander and rinse.

In large bowl, pour some EVOO in (~2 tbsp), about 2 pinches of salt, and grind up that pepper (I like a lot of pepper).

Toss with your fingers/hand the squash and onions to coat all the pieces equally.

Pour veggies onto foil.

Put aspragus on other side.

Drizzle EVOO over asparagus, sprinkle lightly with salt, grind the pepper, and add a dollop or 2 of minced garlic.

Roll the asparagus around on the foil to fully coat with garlic and such.

Put in oven for 10 minutes.

Clean up kitchen.

Realize that you have no hot water running.

Go to the basement and check your water heater.

Call Dad up to find out that he's not home.


Call water heater company and have them walk you through turning unit off, then on and seeing if the gas lights up again.

Corral the cats out of the water closet (haha, WC).

Realize that more than 10 minutes have passed and run back upstairs.

Check on veggies and pull out of oven.

Voila! Food is done!!

Serve yourself a nice tall glass of chocolate milk and enjoy the veggies!

Be happy to know that as homeowner, you have averted just one small crisis. (Also explains why I had to take a semi-cold shower this morning. Sigh. -.- )

For my part, the veggies turned out edible and kind of good. The asparagus was slightly overcooked. I will prolly just boil them next time.  But the squash and onions were good.

For dessert, I had a bowl of chocolate pudding and some very tart strawberries.

Note to future self: Eat more veggies.
Note to near-future self: Put the heat on...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Naturally disastrous with Apps.

As you know, an 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Sendai, Japan yesterday, causing 10m (30ft) high tsunami waves that swept over the coastal areas near there. The tsunami affected pretty much all of the Pacific Ocean, with places like Hawaii and California seeing its effect (albeit much more mildly).

To top it off, the one nuclear reactor is still giving problems, most recently with a small explosion from pressure buildup.  If you're a Final Fantasy 7 fan, all I can think about is Daiichi Reactor = Sector 1 Reactor, and the explosion / leak was caused by AVALANCHE, and not by the earthquake. For those not a fan or not a gamer... Well,... Google is your friend.

During such a time, I found myself glued to any real-time source of information. Twitter, CNN, BBC, whatever.  So I ended up downloading some apps for my iPhone in order to stay fully connected to the situation.  

Here is the list of what I downloaded and my review of them, following.
  • Disaster Alert
  • NHK World
  • AJE Live
Each of these were downloaded for different reasons.

Disaster Alert
This App is brought to you by the awesome folks at Pacific Disaster Center out in Hawaii.  The PDC give a real-time account of what is going on in the Ring of Fire area (pretty much all of the Pacific Ocean) in terms of natural events (earthquakes, tsunamis, etc).  
The App is based off Bing or Google satellite maps, with icons pointing out whatever event is happening at the moment in that location.
  • Pros: Easy to view map with icons and quick links to simple text-based information.  Bing's map scrolls around and around.  Simple use for simple app.  FREE is key!!
  • Cons: No push notifications, but I guess that's understandable. Highly active areas, like the bazillion aftershocks in Japan, would mean a bazillion push notifications. Also, Google's map doesn't scroll around and around. 

NHK World TV Live
If you've been watching any of the clips of the tsunami, NHK World is the referenced station in almost all the videos.  NHK is the major TV station of Japan, and NHK News would be the equivalent to CNN or BBC news.  This app shows certain NHK TV Shows, though recently most of the coverage has been about the quake.
  • Pros: Can watch what is going on in Japan with the quake in real-time. Shows videos of the areas, the relief effort, etc. Simple to use interface. Basically it automatically starts the live feed on app start. No options here. It just is exactly an app that does live feed!  Oh, and it's FREE.
  • Cons: No language options. The raw feeds are in English and sometimes in amateur journalism style.  Sometimes you might get another language other than English.  I'd prefer being able to choose which language but I guess that would take away from the simplicity of the program.

Probably the only American News App I got.  I thought about getting CNN, but.... Actually I'm glad I got this app. It's basically the MSNBC news app and also supports some of its shows, such as Today Show, The Rachel Maddow Show, even Countdown with Keith Olbermann (even though that's done).
  • Pros: IT HAS PUSH NOTIFICATIONS! So immediately I knew about the leaky nuke plant, about the aftershocks in Fukushima, etc.  The interface is kind of awesome.  Click on one of the 'peacock feathers' to go to that section.  They have videos from stories and from their shows; they show tweets from users from their shows.  The ads aren't that intrusive.  Free content is free!
  • Cons: What is everyone's fascination with black background for interfaces? That's really it. I really like this app.

AJE Live
If you don't know what AJE is, it is Al-Jazeera, the ever-growing news station that brings to the world the real news!  But wait, don't CNN, BBC, MSNBC, FOX do that? PSH NO. They are all politically riddled (especially right-centric Fox) news stations. They don't show the full truth. They dont think we can handle the truth!!!  Well, we can. And Al-Jazeera is out there to prove that we can. Before, people thought that hey, it's an Arabic name, therefore THEY MUST BE TERRORISTS!! News from terrorists! Ahh!! ....No. They aren't terrorists. They are just straight up raw news. You want the truth of what's going on in Egypt or Libya, not the sugar-coated stuff that the American/British news are offering you? Then get it here. Don't hate just because they have an Arabic name.
  • Pros: Real news for people who can handle the truth. Better news, faster load times, simpler interface, free live feed.  FREE App too!
  • Cons: Though the interface is simple, it is kind of cluttered when drilling down to view articles within a section.

Bottom line is, THEY ARE ALL FREE. 

Also, let us hope that Japan comes out all right after this. 

Note to future self: And the world is falling apart...
Note to near-future self: Isn't technology wonderful?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Current Playlist

Been in a mellow mood recently. Possibly because I've been under a lot of stress (midterms, petsitting, driving around a lot, etc).

But music is my life, and it has such an effect on my mood.  So I'd like to share my current "Chill" playlist. I'll probably add more if I remember to.
  • Kymai - Colle (ft. Aynell)
  • Kymai - La coeur en silence (Acoustic version)
  • Kymai - Prends la vie comme elle vient
  • Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song
  • Bruno Mars - Count On Me
  • Jack Johnson - Flake
  • James - One of the Three
  • The Cure - Catch
  • Lucious Jackson - Why do I lie?
  • Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl
  • Harry Nilsson / Resevoir Dogs - Coconut
  • Blue Suede - Hooked on a Feeling
  • Tom Petty / Barnyard the Movie - Won't Back Down
  • Sam Hart - Mario Kart Love Song
  • Oasis - Whatever
  • U2 - Stuck in a Moment (Acoustic)
  • Jimmy Buffett - Jamaica Farewell
  • Bob Marley - Buffalo Soldier
  • Bob Marley - Three Little Birds
  • Bob Marley - One Love / People Get Ready
  • Bob Marley - Stir It Up
Yeah, it's a lot of reggae style, with Kymai (French) and Bob Marley.  But it's all relaxing (for me), cuz I can sit back, press shuffle, and chill for a while and bob my head to the music, dreaming that I'm somewhere else...

So if you're in the mood to listen to something new, give any of these songs (if you've never heard of them before).

Note to future self: What's the playcount on these songs now? lol...
Note to near-future self: Add some more classic tunes like American Pie, Hotel California, etc.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Forced change

Today something very dear to me died. Nay, it decided to commit suicide. I am talking about my phone.  I have had this old LG Voyager since it was the flagship phone for Verizon back in 2007. Yes, I have been using the same phone for 4 years. Why?

Well, when this phone came out, it was in reaction to Apple's iPhone. This was the start of the touchscreen phones. Every company had to make their version of a touchscreen phone. This was LG's version. It had a touchscreen on the front, then flip to open for internal screen with qwerty keyboard. I believe later iterations were/are called the enV or enV2.

The Voyager was good when I first had it, but it wasn't intuitive. It just wasn't the iPhone. As you know, for the past 4 years or so the iPhone was exclusively with AT&T.  And so for 4 years, I waited. I waited because I knew that the iPhone would come to Verizon. It had to. And if not, well, I'd just get the 2nd best thing.

I never did get another phone. My Voyager's touch screen died. In fact, when it died, it went in a funky manner. First, it randomly started dialing and saving contacts. You know that butt-dialing commercial? Yeah, that was my phone. It would butt-dial and save random things to my contacts list. Or edit them. Annoying. Soon after, my screen would try to go to random places -- Calendar, My Verizon, Alarm, Camera, etc. Eventually, to stop it from accidentally going to some internet thing off Verizon (remember, this was pre-Android even) and getting charged for use I didn't partake in, I had to set all my touchscreen shortcuts to Calendar.

Eventually even that stopped working.  But that was OK!  Like I said before, I am a texter. I texted everyone. And since I could still make and receive phone calls without the touch screen, I wasn't too worried.  Got the keyboard and the internal screen, y'know? (The external screen still displayed, but the touch function was gone.)  But after dropping it one too many times, one of the hinges came loose. So the phone was falling apart, slowly. It was dying. Yet I still persisted.  Months passed. The phone kept on chugging. I kept pushing off the inevitable. I mean, why buy a new one when this one still works fine for what I need it to do?

Today, while walking Odie, I decided to jog down the hill to the street lamp. I put the phone in my pocket and started the jog. Since Odie was keeping up, I started to sprint. And whoosh, like that, my phone said to me, "HEY! IT'S BEEN FUN. THANKS FOR THE RIDE, BUT HERE IS WHERE I GET OFF. SEE YA AROUND!!" And just like that, it hopped out of my pocket and crash landed on the cement pavement. And the world was split in two.

...Or at least the phone was. The other hinge, which controlled both the screens and the speakers, had ripped apart. I couldn't really see how bad the damage was since it was dark out, but I could feel its innards gushing out. The cords were broken. There was nothing I could do.  I carefully picked up both halves of the phone and walked slowly home. Odie must have understood my plight.

Before my fateful jog, I was texting someone. I figured I ought to let them know that my phone died. Without a screen I wasn't sure if I could remember the key combinations to reply to a text. "if youre getting this my phone is dead" [yes, spelling/grammar errors because it's texting] would be the last text I would ever send on that phone.

And off to the Verizon store I went. What phone would I get? Would I buckle and get the iPhone? Would I get the Droid HTC? Or maybe another iteration of the Voyager (Cosmos seemed particularly similar)?  After playing a game on the iPhone, I decided that was what I was going to get. I am a fan of Apple products after all. I was holding out for it, then was holding out for the rumoured iPhone 5. But my phone told me it was time to move on.

Move on I did. Reluctantly. However, I am now with a new iPhone. And I love it. I can still type just as fast (and with just as many errors lol).  I'm afraid of getting apps for it. I suppose I will, but I don't want to spend so much money on them, nor lose productivity by playing on it. But the retina display.... Gorgeous!

So to my old Voyager, fare thee well! I hope you will find a good place to be. You've been good to me through the years. Many fond memories we've had. :) And welcome to my new iPhone. I hope to have just as many good memories as I did with the Voyager. Certainly will have just as much fun.

R.I.P Voyager 2007-2011

Note to future self: Wait another few years before getting the next iteration of the iPhone I guess!
Note to near-future self: What games did you end up buying? I know not Angry Birds. We are just not a fan, since we suck at it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Interesting indeed.

History is bound to repeat itself unless you learn from it. A loop, a cycle, repeated ad infinitum, unless you learn.

Let's take current events for example and compare it to history.
Egypt just had a revolution where the general populace ousted their president/dictator of 30 years.  Following close behind is Libya and Yemen and other outlying Arab countries.  The general outlook is revolution on the minds of the people.

Where have we seen something like this happen?  Most notably in Western Europe with the French Revolutions. The French couldn't figure it out for many years, so they have revolutions upon revolutions back in the 18th/19th centuries. It first started with granting a more republican/democratic system of government. Egypt wants a more representative government. Those in power stepped down, reliquishing their "power" for the moment. What will happen next for Egypt? Well, in France, after the 2nd revolution, the military stepped in and "gave birth" to Napoleon. He took over much of Europe, if you recall.  The military is now the "active" government in Egypt while they sort things out. Will the new leader be militaristic? I actually kind of doubt this. But one never knows. However, the key thing is that the French Revolutions caused a reactionary movement across Europe.

Revolutionaries wanted change for their own countries. They saw what France did. They are seeing what Egypt did. They applied this to their situation and took advantage. Revolt, protests, riots against the government. Poland, Germany, Italy, Spain. Libya, Yemen, Oman.  What did the governments do? They are trying to do everything they can to suppress the uprisings. And at first it worked, as it did in the Revolutions of 1848. But in the end, it didn't. So take heart, Libya, Yemen, Oman! Change is slow but it is still possible.  ...In about 50 years you will look back and laugh about how you sorted out the government by wearing bread-hats.

Now, I'm not a history buff. It's just that I'm taking a Western Civ class that focuses on history from the French Revolution to modern times.  It's even more interesting to know that as I'm reading and learning about this era, current events are being shaped in the same mold as those in the 18th century.

--A bit of a digression--
When I took my economics course a couple of years ago, the stock market crashed and we entered the worst recession / almost depression in years. I could see how people reacted to the economic situation, and I firmly believe that Bernake and Obama were doing the right thing. We do need more government to help get us out of a "funk." It's what works. Less government isn't the way to go. Once we're back to par, then less government is fine, and better. But that is why we have a government. It is like a parent that coaxes and supports a child. Except that we chose the parent(s).  Sure if the child falls, it should get up on its own (regular mini recessions and inflations). But if the child falls into a fast-flowing river, the parent better save the child!!
--End digression--

Dissidents will be dissidents. Voices will be heard. Reactionary movements will happen. And revolution will bring change. Viva la revolution!

Note to future self: Have I learned anything? Am I bound to repeat my own history?
Note to near-future self: No more courses on things that might become pertinent!!

PS - I totally understand the TeaBaggers anger towards getting taxed but, seriously I'm not for it. We voted a president in who admitted that he might raise taxes. We voted. Therefore its representation. It is not Taxation without representation, the original reason of the Tea Party in the 1700's. Doofuses. -.-

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Totally gonna do it.




Yeah you heard me right. I'm gonna do it!! I'm gonna have a themed slumber party!!! Oh yeah. I'm sick of having parties with no themes. Or having people sleep over with no major reason.

So now I've got one!!! The theme of this slumber party will be about being a kid again. Which means NERF GUNS, FORTS, AND STAYING UP UNTIL THE SUN COMES UP! (Or until we pass out at 1am because sadly we are old.)

The fort will be awesome. This is how I envision it:

Here is what each number means (if you can't figure it out):

  1. Giant sheet or 2 to cover the fort.  Underneath it would be poles or something to hold it up high. I was thinking an all mattress fort, but mattresses are heavy!!!!! So poles are cheap and light.  Sheet would keep the heat in too.
  2. Mattress for the floor. C'mon. I'm not my sister who can sleep on hard floors. I am civilized! LOL. So for maximum comfort, a mattress to lay on!
  3. Cats. Inevitably. That one is Smoochie. He loves to see what the fuss is about.
  4. Nerf guns, DUH! (Can't you tell from the crazy colours? That's part of their appeal!
  5. My crazy big TV. Yes, movies in 1080p! Now I won't be so scared to watch scary movies, cuz I can shoot it with my Nerf gun or hide in my fort!!!!!!
As you can see, I have clearly thought this out. Oh and that would be me in the fort. So when I get around to having a slumber party, I will do this!!!


Note to future self: Can we make this a permanent addition to the basement? Please?
Note to near-future self: What about the furniture? Well, I guess we can make a mini fort with the couch cushions for the impending Nerf war!