Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm moving on.

I tire of this. I've decided to move on to greener pastures.

Monday, October 17, 2005

letters I'll never send

Is it strange that sometimes I'll write letters that I have no intention of ever sending?

I'll just take a page out of whatever's around, and start writing a letter. I'll say everything on my mind and I won't hold back. Just writing everything down helps me gets my thoughts in order and helps me figure out just what it is that's been bothering me.

And then I'll fold it up, drop it back in my bag, and hold on to it until I step out of the library, or the boring lecture I'm in, or what have you, until I get a chance to sit somewhere outside when it's not too windy or dry, and let it scatter as ashes into the sky.

It's been a while since the last one I wrote.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

sweetest day?

Apparently yesterday was "Sweetest Day". I've never heard of this before, in spite of it's supposed well-known status in the Northeast.

It seems most people I know also have no idea what this is, given the completely inadequate polling of 3 people I know from high school who happened to be online at the time of my discovery of such a holiday, prompted by somebody wishing me a happy one.

Apparently, as I quote from the page linked above, "This tradition now seems to largely involve giving small presents, such as cards, candy and flowers, to family, friends and lovers." I think the circumstances of my being introduced to this holiday a little strange then.

No matter, the issue at hand is that this holiday seems very much a farce. I suppose it's really not particularly different than Valentine's Day in that while perhaps at one time there may have been some nice idea behind it, as the story behind Sweetest Day seems to have, it is now mostly perpetuated by candy companies and card makers in an effor to bolster their sales.

I hope this holiday never gains the same momentum that Valentine's Day seems to have, I rather disliked the middle of February enough before getting annoyed by the holiday. The same might be said of the latter part of October now that I've had a few years of midterms and outrageously fluctuating weather to associate with it. I don't need another sense of superficial obligation to make it worse.

Man I am grumpy when I wake up.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

love and custard, in two parts

Part I: What I wrote on a piece of paper the other day: Thursday, October 13, 2005.
As it seems most everybody who knows me, knows, I've been planning to try and make crème brûlée. The other day, one such person asked me if crème brûlée was hard to make, because it always sounded so fancy to them. Another person, also present, interjected before I had my own chance to respond that I've never done it yet, that custards are usually pretty easy, as they're just eggs, cream, sugar, and lots of 'love'. I asked what exactly that was supposed to mean. I had been under the impression that crème brûlée, at least, was actually quite forgiving of cooking fuckups, throughout the process. That is, if the yolk/cream ratio isn't really exact, no big deal, if you make a little mistake tempering, oh well, just strain well anyway, cooked too long? Whoops, a little too hard then. None of these errors should render crème brûlée particularly less tasty. They replied something about how being especially loving would yield better custards, in general. I conceded the point because I had no idea what I would be arguing if I decided to be more contentious.

So instead, I decided to be contentious in private, much later, to the page instead of their face.

But to continue, I don't think "love" has anything to do with it. I mean, maybe our notions of love with regard to cooking greatly differ. I think perhaps their notion of love in cooking is my notion of simply being prepared and following directions well. Cooking is not an exact science, I feel, but more an imprecise and delicious one. Some recipes are obviously more tolerant of error than others, but it does not take absolute and meticulous measurement and execution to make delicious things. I don't consider myself the creative type really, but a tolerance for mistakes and improvising around them is something that even if I don't demonstrate in the rest of my life, I like to think I do in the kitchen. Of course, when one is as bad at getting things done right as I seem to be, one would have to be pretty tolerant of errors by now.
Part II: New remarks: present
Well it's a good thing I stopped before I got carried away with self-loathing.

I think my perspective has changed greatly since Thursday. Having now actually attempted making crème brûlée, though not yet finished (haven't caramelized sugar or eaten it yet... gotta do that soon though), and also having read more and talked more with my sister about making crème brûlée, there's a lot I didn't really think about before.

It's mostly a matter of personal preference, when it comes to flavor, and in terms of selecting proportions of eggs, vanilla, sugar and so forth. Having never made it before, nor having anything to compare against, and not even having tasted this batch, I can't say whether or not I like how this turned out, but, I imagine if I wanted something else, I'd be better equipped now with the knowledge of what to change to achieve that goal.

However, where the so-called 'love' comes in is the actual mixing of the components. If I were really exacting and careful, or willing to put in more time doing tedious things like really really really seperating the yolks from the whites or skimming off the foam in the bowl before pouring into ramekins or whatever, it might make some slight difference in the ultimate texture of the dish. I guess the ideal is some extremely smooth, silky texture, whereas neglect or error will lead to something harder, denser, clumpier, or generally less exquisite by some arbitrary standard. A person with a lot of love, or patience, whatever you want to call it, might do these things better. Having only read about these things after I had put my own into the oven, these hadn't even crossed my mind, though looking back, I don't think I would have had much patience for some of these things anyway. I mean, I seperated the yolks and whites pretty well, but not perfectly. Skimming foam off the top was troublesome enough when I was just correcting a slip of the hand while straining. And so forth. Maybe when I'm trying to improve over this batch, I'll look back and think what I could have done better, but at present, I don't think I would have done much differently even if I had known beforehand because I lacked the motivation for patience.

I'm not sure where I am going with this, however, people should come eat this crème brûlée. Call me first to see there's any left though. Yes, apparently my phone has resumed working.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Mahjong's first meeting I feel went very well. Do not get the mistaken impression that I had anything to do with this, but yeah, it was fun, for a while. I enjoyed the first 'wind' or so. But towards the end of the first one, I basically started looking for excuses to leave. Politeness kept me from leaving the players short handed but I was very relieved to see some people come in looking to join.

Monday, October 10, 2005


To follow or observe (a person) persistently, especially out of obsession or derangement.

I'm not sure I like the idea of this blog so much any more. Probably not enough to stop me, but certainly enough to give me pause. I mean, I look at the site logs regularly and I see all these returning visitors. A constant relatively anonymous audiences. Sure, I can place some of them, hits from students at Columbia, hits from UChicago terminals, hits from various local Hyde Park broadband providers, but I can't ever be sure who's who.

And they're typically back, day after day. But what kind of bothers me more is the way I'm positioned myself. Not only do I obsessively check who's reading me, but I'm simultaneously keeping up on the lives of people who are still very much strangers to me. I don't want to become some deranged stalker, but I feel like I'm already half way there. Though, to be fair, it's not the deranged half, just the persistent observation half. I believe that, at least.

I guess it is sort of a game, where I talk about myself, and in return I get a couple things. I get people asking me about things in my life they might not otherwise have any sort of access to, which is often good, though not always. Moreover, I occasionally get, in a sort of exchange, though not really, to read about these other people, and do the same. But there are some people, who I know, or at the very least strongly suspect of reading, but who never say anything, and don't make anything about themselves available.

It makes me think about the way livejournal has "friends" and extremely simple access control methods centered around this notion of friends. I think I'm going to start investigating migrating this blog off of blogspot and onto some hosting of my own, in the interest of restricting access a little. I hear good things about a number of free alternatives to Blogger. This is one of those plans I will probably forget about until one weekend when I'm really bored, and get a half-assed start to, and then promptly abandon forever after. Maybe I'll just change the address and only tell a few people, then watch who else starts visiting and see if I can guess the... leaks. I really do like "pantsfarm" though.

some months later

Somebody told me (paraphrased from spotty memory), "I used to be so excited to do all these things with you. We could [do lots of things], but now I just don't want to do any of them with you any more." At the time, I was kind of hurt, and very confused about how to take that, but I think I understand now, a little bit better.

I rallied today, I think it might be the time spent in my room that's the problem.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

this weekend


Ok, it's not even noon on Sunday yet, so I suppose there's a chance at it not sucking yet, but, I'd say that the weekend has gone overwhelmingly badly since Friday morning.

Really, while there have been small ups, there were two very large downs which made up pretty much the entirety of my Saturday. First was the outrageously poorly planned and executed RSO leadership training crap, which I suffered through about 4 hours of before realizing I should have left much sooner. The Subway wasn't worth staying until lunch. I'm not sure what ORCSA was thinking, running an event as painful as that.

But this was only the beginning of my fun day. Actually the beginning was when I woke up with my infected eye, noted earlier. When I finally got around to calling the Physician on Call, and described how I was feeling and personal history and the like, he was like, "yeah you should probably go in to the ER and have them actually take a look at it, because unchecked that might be bad news." That's not actually a quote, but a paraphrase from memory. Anyway, This was around 4:30 in the afternoon. So at about five, I get out the door and walk over to the ER.

I go in, the triage station decides I'm not dying, they send me over to registration, who tells me to walk over to "express care" after a minute or two. At the time, I thought this was for the better.

Of course, I spent at least two hours sitting in the waiting area at express care because apparently they were very understaffed. There was only one doctor proper there the whole time I was, and since I ended up finally leaving around 10:15... that's a pretty long time. Other docs came in for a few minutes here and there, but yeah, if that was express care, I can't even imagine what non-express care was like.

Sitting around the waiting area was an interesting experience. It's weird sitting there with an infected eye, while other people are sitting there moaning in pain and anguish or something. Lots of people seemed to be there with family or friends or something, while I sat there alone, reading my book, or occasionally jotting down thoughts on my notepad. I wondered and wonder still if my "emergency" was as much an emergency as some other people's. At the time, I was really worried that this would be a recurrence of a potentially vision-affecting infection, but it seems that's not the case, though I won't be sure for a few days, as I never did get around to seeing an opthamalogist.

Anyway, when I finally was released, I had a prescription to fill, it was 10:20 or so as I turned the corner at 58th and Ellis, and I pretty much considered the day a loss. I had wanted to go see Rize but since the only show was an 11:00 show, and I didn't really want to be awake until 1:00 or later, waiting to fill a prescription, I just walked over to Walgreens on 55th, which is as far as I know the only nearby 24-hour pharmacy. I walked home, washed my hands a lot, cleared away the accumulated discharge from my eye, applied medicine and went to sleep.

I woke up this morning, eye still irritated (expected this time though), blurry vision (from the ointment which as intended hadn't really been cleared from my eyes due to a lack of blinking in my sleep) and a headache, but that's only because I felt really dehydrated.

Since waking, I've gotten a little bit done, in that I've cleaned up my room, done my laundry, zested some oranges in the hope that I will one day make use of it in the crème brûlée that I never did get to make this weekend. I also practiced torching some sugar on bananas, to the same end. Mostly just been moping around though, envious of everybody else. It pains me to look at my computer any longer, and I anticipate similar problems when I try to read or watch Born Into Brothels later, but, we'll see.

Update at 10:30 PM: Yep, didn't get any better. I tallied the things that were positve or negative in my memory of the weekend. +1 for good, -1 for bad. I got a -9 for the weekend. Ouch. Maybe I'm just not trying hard enough. Whatever, I'm going to sleep.