Better cooking

Some people have asked why I was cooking shirtless in the first place. Why not? Really, though, it was because I had just gotten back from racquetball, then showered, and I knew I wasn’t going out later, so I just put on pajama bottoms.

Tonight’s cooking was a lot better. I had some fun with a seafood stir fry. It took forever to peel the shrimp, but it was so worth it. I had shrimp, crab meat, water chestnuts, and pineapple stir fried with a little hot sauce and some sweet chili sauce. I also put in some rice vermicelli (thin rice noodles). I had my shirt on, and it was delicious.


  • A couple tablespoons of vegetable or corn oil
  • A couple handfuls of popcorn

Heat up a fairly large pan on medium high heat with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Put in a couple handfuls of popcorn (a handful is about 1/4 cup-1/3 cup). Stir until it stops popping. Hold the lid over the pan to keep kernels from flying out. If the pan fills before all the popcorn is done popping, remove from heat, shake some of the popcorn off the top into a large bowl, and return to heat. If you can smell burning popcorn, take it off the heat and shake it into the bowl. It’s ok to have some kernels left. They won’t pop, and the rest will burn.

If you want, melt a couple tablespoons of butter in the microwave and drizzle it over the top of the finished popcorn. Shake some salt and/or pepper over the top. Lawry’s seasoning salt is good, too. Mix with your hands.


On deficit spending; or how flex time can eat you alive

I work in a place with flex time. If I feel like taking off early, cool. If I want to take a long lunch, no problem. I can even work from home if I don’t feel like getting out of my pajamas in the morning.

It used to be that I would have no problems being over hours. I would bank up to 10 or more hours so that I could take a whole day off. Sure, I still accrue vacation, so I could rely on that, but this way I can have as many days off as I want as long as I’m reasonable about it.

Around January, though, I lost a lot of interest in maintaining positive hours. I got almost 30 hours behind. I ended up using about 12 hours of vacation just to make up some of the time, and I was still 15 hours behind. I’ve been carrying that weight for months now.

Being 15 hours behind doesn’t actually mean much. Being even, or being over is just as meaningless. I’m salaried. But we have a ‘chargeable hours goal’, which means we’re supposed to average 40 hours per week over the year. So at the end of the year, we’re supposed to be even, which means we worked, on average, 40 hours per week. So being 15 hours behind means that some time before the end of the fiscal year, I should make up those 15 hours so that management won’t be pissed.

It’s a lot like credit card debt, though. I’m not losing hours. I’ve been maintining 40 per week for months now. But that debt is hanging over my head like some kind of monster. I guess I can say WAS hanging over my head. After this week, I should be free of the shackles of debt (at least in terms of hours at work). It’s very liberating knowing that I’m square. Not much has changed, but it just feels better.

I’m done with theaters

That’s it. I quit. No more theaters for me. I had to put up with a theater full of screaming little kids who were pulling my hair, getting in my face, talking and yelling, and in general completely distracting me from the movie. Further, I had to put up with the elephants next door all day, so I was hoping to escape the din, and I ended up just entering a louder one.

I can draw a table and compare going to a movie in a theater to staying at home and watching a movie on my big screen, and not only will staying at home clearly beat out going to a theater, staying home has tons of other advantages, too. I’m so glad I have my projector.

Screen size:
Movie theater: Huge
My projector: Huge (same viewing angle as being 1/3 way back in a theater)

Sound system:
Movie theater: Surround
My apartment: Stereo, but very good

Movie theater: Folding chairs with not enough leg room
My apartment: Couches with room to lay down, stretch, or curl up under a blanket

Movie theater: Slides, then video ads, then previews
My apartment: None

Movie theater: Pray that you’re not missing an important part while you pee or risk a bladder infection
My apartment: Rewind, fast forward, pause, restart, do whatever you want

Movie theater: Whatever they decide to show
My apartment: Whatever I decide to watch. Movies of all genres, television episodes, Playstation 2, Gamecube, computer screen

Movie theater: Cell phones, loud people, little brats that keep kicking your chair and crying
My apartment: None

Movie theater: Almost $8 for one movie
My apartment: Stuff I already have; free. Netflix; $15/month. Stuff people bring over; free.

Movie theater: Pay outrageous prices, or try to smuggle
My apartment: Anything you want. Dinner, ice cream, chips, whatever.

There’s no doubt that my apartment is much better than going to a theater. Now if only they would release DVDs at the same time as theatrical releases, I would have absolutely no incentive to go to a theater.


This is my favorite fudge recipe. I modify it all the time for different flavors (sometimes I use white chocolate, sometimes I don’t put in nuts, sometimes I mix half regular and half mint chocolate chips, sometimes I put in a few drops of peppermint extract). 

  • Prepare the following ingredients. You will want to have them readily on hand for later.
    • 20 marshmallows
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
    • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or use 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup mint chocolate chips)
    • 1 tsp. vanilla.
  • Combine together. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly. Then remove from heat.
    • 1 3/4 cup Granulated sugar
    • 2/3 cup evaporated milk (shake the can a lot before opening it.
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1/8 tsp salt
  • IMMEDIATELY after removing from heat, add the chocolate chips, marshmallows, and vanilla. Stir like a madman until it’s all melted. We’re relying on the heat of the sugar milk mixture to melt everything, so you have to add the ingredients immediately after removing from heat. The marshmallows will take the longest to melt in. Then add the nuts and stir.
  • Spread into buttered 9x9x2” pan. Chill until firm. You can put it in a fridge for a few hours or overnight, or in a freezer for 1/2 to 1 hour. I also like to put either plastic wrap or wax paper in the pan so that it’s really easy to pull the block of fudge out.

Learning from food while learning about food.

Today was a good day. I woke up early and went skiing. It the last day at Bluewood, and there were lots of people there. The skiing was decent, but not perfect. It got a little warm and the sun melted a lot of snow, making it really heavy. We would hit a sunny patch and slow down to the point of almost falling over. In all, though, we had lots of good runs; flying through the trees, going over jumps, speeding down racing hills. It was great.

After I got home, my fridge looked a little empty. I was able to pull together enough ingredients for a pizza, and it turned out fantastic. I used alfredo sauce on half, marinara on the other half, chicken pieces, and sliced portobello mushrooms (why, you ask, do I have portobello mushrooms when I claim to have an empty refrigerator? *shrug*). As for cheese, all I had was a bit of moldy cheddar, but I cut off the mold and was able to spread the rest out over the pizza. I enjoyed my pizza with a good Chateau St. Michelle Riesling.

I have been avoiding the part of my story that is relevant to the title, though. It happened when I was spreading the dough. I got a pan, lined it with oregano infused olive oil, and began spreading the dough into the pan. I spent far longer than I should have trying to spread it out over the whole space. I kept spreading it too thin, and it would develop holes in the middle. I’d pinch it back together, but the dough just wasn’t enough for the pan. Eventually, I realized that it was arbitrary that the dough should fit the pan. It didn’t have to. I just needed to have some dough in the pan spread out enough for me to put on ingredients. Then I thought about how I’m spreading myself so thin just so that I can fill every hour of the day with an activity. It’s not right. There’s not enough of me. I should fill enough of my life to make me happy and make the filled part better quality.

The Spiral of Suck

I hereby coin the term “Spiral of Suck.” This phrase refers to the downward spiral of a person when a single mistake feeds on itself irreparably, leading one on a feedback loop ever downwards.

On the racquetball court I have experienced this spiral of suck a few times. It starts with a simple mistake. Perhaps a poor flick of the wrist, or maybe tipping a shot with the edge of the racquet when you know you should have waited for it and lined up a better shot. In any case, it starts off small, but it bugs you. You know you should have done better. You know exactly what you did wrong, and you’re a little angry at yourself. But you’re not focusing on the game so much. You want a kill shot that’ll bring you back into the game. There’s no way you’re going to get that kill shot now. You’ll slam the ball and it’ll go any which way. The opponent capitalizes on it and gets more and more calm, making you run more, doing the shots you so dearly want to be doing. And you get angrier and angrier at yourself and you suck more and more. It’s the spiral of suck.

Getting out of the spiral is near impossible. My only solution now is to remove myself from the situation. If I can recognize the spiral early enough, I can get out without being angry at myself for the rest of the night. Ultimately, I want to be able to brush off a mistake immediately, but that takes a lot of practice, and I really don’t want to make enough mistakes that I’m good at brushing them off.

Coconut Macaroons

325* for 20-25 minutes. Do it for less than you think, or they’ll get too hard and not chewy

  • Mix dry ingredients together
    • 1 1/3 cups coconut
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 2 tbsp flour
    • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Add wet ingredients
    • 2 egg whites
    • 1/2 tsp almond extract (vanilla works just as well for a different but still good taste)


ow ow ow

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been playing racquetball on tuesdays and thursdays with friends. It’s a great workout, but it can get a little rough sometimes. Now that the weather is getting better, I’m starting to do more outdoor sports. My weekly schedule is now packed with after-work sports:

Mondays: Disc golf
Tuesdays: Racquetball
Wednesdays: Ultimate Frisbee
Thursdays: Racquetball

This was the first week of the full regimen, and it sure took a toll on me. I’ve got a patch of raw skin on my throwing hand from disc golf where the disc rests. That’ll stay raw until it becomes calloused. I bring bandaids to disc golf in case it breaks and starts bleeding.

Tuesday got a little rough with the racquetball, and I took a racquet to the mouth, resulting in a little blood. That started a spiral of suckiness from which I could not escape that night.

Wednesday at ultimate frisbee was the first time I had run long distances for an extended duration. I played better than I expected, but without cleats I slipped a few times and landed less than perfectly on an elbow.

Today I was sore all day from running the day before. It hurt to stand up. But I played racquetball anyway. It was the least painful workout all week, and unless I go dancing tomorrow night, I think I’m done exercising until next week.