Tuesday, February 27, 2007

(please don't!) Cue Canon in D

Please! Don't invite us to your wedding!

That's not what I'm saying, it's what one Argentinian couple said in a paid newspaper advertisement a few weeks ago. I wonder if its going to have the opposite affect and they will have no social life now...

Speaking of weddings, I am attending quite a few this year: Five. Spread all over the country from here in New Jersey to California to Texas to Minnesota. I think I am going to hit all the major geographic areas of the United States--Northeast, West Coast, South and Midwest.

I actually like going to weddings. I guess if I was invited to a wedding every weekend it might be a different story, but I feel its an honor to be included on someone's wedding guest list and I should do my best to try and make it. Of course, the happy couple is probably planning on/hoping that a third of their guests can't come...

I wonder if this is my "year of weddings." Five is quite a few for one year, and, even though the majority of my friends are unmarried, I don't see it getting beyond this. Maybe...

It's interesting to see how friendships change and evolve and develop. Nicole blogged about how her friends came for her baby shower and they talked about babies and husbands, which is different from their college year discussions. I'm a step behind her with my friends, who are starting to talk weddings and engagements and long-term relationships and whatnot. Why does it all scare people so much? Because those really are huge life changes. Its sort of the start of "you might turn into your parents someday." Up until that we could deny it by being fun, free-wheeling young adults. But when you are in a relationship and comfortable, you stop shaking things up.

This post is all over the place. I am enjoying seeing all the different wedding invitations, ideas, websites, etc. Not in a "I'm planning my own" sort of way, but just a general appreciate for aestheics and function.

But if anyone plays Canon in D, I will be very upset:

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Here fishy fishy fishy fishy fishy.

An article published this week discusses that more U.S. women face heart, stroke risk. The article talks about things to help prevent heart disease, such as the two usual factors: exercise and diet. I struggle with both of those personally, but I hired a personal trainer at my gym, so that should help the first part.

The second part, diet, talks about eating more fruits and vegetables, whole-grain and high fiber foods and little salt. I find this hard because I cannot finish fruits and vegetables before they go bad. I wish I could go to the store and buy half a bag of salad or something.

It also mentions eating fish at least twice a week. This is another example of conflicting reports. Sorta. Women have to limit their intake of certain fish, such as tuna and swordfish because those fish have high levels of mercury, which may affect any current or future pregnancies. So I can only have one Tuna Melt per week, boo.

EDIT: And just now I read yet ANOTHER story that says the benefits outweight the risks: Seafood in Pregnancy is a Net Plus.

Living near the ocean, I have a lot more access to fresh fish and there are lots of places in the island that sell stuff hauled in this morning. This is exciting. But balancing that, along with knowing I need to watch certain fishes and also realizing that some fish are not sustainably farmed...it's a lot to think about!

Luckily, there are organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which has something called the Seafood Watch Program. Its goals are to bring awareness that some fish are not sustainably farmed--a fact that they say could eventually eliminate some kinds or even all fish.

They have guides on their website as to what fish are your best choices, what are good alternatives and what fish to avoid. The guides can be tailored to your geographic area and they will even send you free guides for your wallet or purse, which you can order on their website. (My former co-worker used to carry one around, which is how I became not only aware about that some fish are not sustainably farmed, but also the danger of high mercury levels.)

Here are some examples from the Northeast Guide:

Best choices: Clams, Dungeness crab and imitation crab from the US, Pacific Halibut, Spiny Lobster (U.S. Trap-Caught), Wild-caught Alaska Salmon, US Farmed Tilapia, Tuna (Albacore from BC or the US, Skipjack or Yellowfin from the US)
Good alternatives: Black Sea Bass, Imported-Farmed Catfish, Crab--Blue, imitation, Alaske King; American/Maine Lobster, US Caught Mahimahi or imported using a pole, Swordfish, Central America farmed Tilapia, Shrimp from the northern atlantic and canada.
Avoid!! Wild-caught caviar, Farmed Salmon, Chilean seabass, Imported mahi-mahi using a long-line, orange roughy, imported shrimp, Chinese farmed Tilapia, tuna caught using a long-line.

And with that, I leave you with a favorite Sesame Street clip that inspired the title of my post:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Click Click Bloody Click PANCAKES!

I apparently missed this last year but this year I promise not to miss: INTERNATIONAL PANCAKE DAY!

I believe pancakes are a perfect food, especially with butter and some syrup. The addition of fruit creates another experience altogether, one that is also quite pleasant. Add a side of bacon, and I am one happy camper.

In honor of Pancake Day (which is actually Shrove Tuesday and a way for people to use up banned foods before lent) IHOP is giving a free short stack of pancakes... with a donation

I, personally, will be sitting at a blue booth today, tucking into some freshly made, warm, buttery, rich pancakes. With a side of bacon.

Pancakes ARE like crack:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Won't you be my neighbor?

I've written about feeling lonely, such as last week when I realized I had no place to stay when my heat went out. But I haven't written about how warm and friendly New Jersey has been for me.

I have some GREAT neighbors. My landlords, who live upstairs on the weekends, are nice and friendly and warm and responsive. And they share their beer. My right-hand neighbors are a retired couple and they are like grandparents--always there for me to borrow a cup of sugar or what not. They made some amazing, home-made from scratch, onion soup the other night and gave me a frozen batch. And, in return, I try to do things like wipe off their car of snow when I am dusting off mine, or things like that.

This morning, I was leaving my street as a car started to drive down, and the driver waved to me. Did I know him? No. Does it matter? Not really. That's just life on the island.

I know what some of you are thinking right now: "Warm and friendly? New Jersey? What?"

This state gets a bad rap. And most states that have bad raps have people saying they have bad raps (how do I unwrap myself from that tongue-twister?). But New Jersey is such an interesting state because it almosts has five eco-systems or something. North Jersey is a different beast from the Jersey Shore which is different from South Jersey and Central Jersey. Also, there is a chunk of Northwestern Jersey that is different too.

All this in a state that is 70 miles wide and 150 miles long. It's amazing!

North and much of Central Jersey strikes me as being very New York-oriented. Most of the people who live there work and play in the city, and drive/train home for sleep. That's the part that is a little more rough and tough, I think. Probably because New Jersey is ranked 47th in terms of size but 11th in terms of population, and the majority is crammed into that portion. I'd be watching my own too!

South Jersey (I only know Ocean County, not the parts closer to Philly) is a little slower-paced and some parts are a little backwards, to me. I've had some...racial run-ins...where people just don't seem to be aware that its not okay to use the N-word. (Some people call people down here "Pineys" which refers to the Pinelands, a large swath of greenery in the middle of the state. It's like the Southern Ocean word for "hick.")
I think its ignorance, not actual racism per se. But, besides that stuff, it reminds me of Minnesota in that its full of nice people who wave and stuff.

I wonder how things will change in the summer...I mean, I know its going to get mad-crowded and there will be all sorts of North Jersey/Philadelphia/New York people summering, so its going to be a lot more awake. I sort of like my sleepy little town without stoplights right now...

Oh and everyone drinks Yeungling beer likes its going out of circulation. Very Philadelphia.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

its almost a barn-raising...

I took this picture a few weeks ago, but today is the perfect day to post it. Why? Because its raining...a cold, steady, icky, grey, mid-February rain. I wish it was colder so all that rain would be mounds of white, fluffy snow. But, instead, the road outside my house is flooding, again.

So when the place you lives floods often, what do you do? You have raised homes. Whenever I heard raised homes, I always thought of my Children's Encyclopedia about homes built literally on the water and scantily-clothed, happy kids climbing ladders to their house. That seemed like fun, like living in a tree fort.

Well, homes here that are raised have staircases. And they are raised in all different ways. Some are literally likes houses that were built on a platform, and there is enough space underneath to act like a car. Others are just raised a little bit, and have a porch or somehing to walk up to at the house (like mine.) Still other are raised very slightly, like a car on cement blocks, and just have a few extra stairs leading up to the house.

The effect is that houses is here LOOK huge but are really your average size, one-story or two-story house. Some homes, built early-on when this island wasn't quite the tourist hot-spot and just a place where some people had nice 50s-style homes, weren't built on stilts. Whether some sort of climate change has made it more necessary, or general realization of having a house on stilits is good, there is a big business for getting your house raised. I always wondered how it happens, but I guess you can sort of see it from this picture.

Good things most homes don't have basements. Though a few older homes in Beach Haven actually do!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Why would anyone steal a 10,000-year-old egg??

In a true measure of how little I do, I have been obsessed with playing video games lately. I've actually put down the Karaoke Revolution microphone in favor of something more old school: educational games on my Apple IIe emulator. I beat Carmen Sandiego (above) yesterday and am working on Oregon Trail. I remember how hard it was to beat Oregon Trail, especially since you only had one period to do so. On computer lab days, I used to plot how I could quickly start up the game, saving the precious minutes that I could use to win the game. I think I only did so a few times...perhaps I wasn't meant to be a pioneer!

By the way, a bunch of people have mocked me for remembering a game called Spellavator, saying it didn't exist. Well, Wikipedia has proved me wrong! Mock no more. Perhaps I remember more of these games since I did go to school in Minnesota and they were made byMECC--the Minnesota Education Computer Consortium. Pretty cool to know we were so progressive in computer education! (by the way, I'm pretty sure that video shows kids playing LogoWriter. That was a cool game.)

By the way, what was up with Odell Down Under? I thought it was the most boring game ever, and I only ever tried to play it when I couldn't get a computer that had Oregon Trail or Amazon Trail. Fish eats fish, osprey eats fish, blah blah blah.

Did anyone EVER finish Amazon Trail? What were your favorite computer lab games?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

the big freeze

the big freeze, originally uploaded by seat_5a.

Not much to report from the island. It is starting to warm up out here, but just last week the bay was frozen over...maybe not enough to walk on (you need at least half a foot of ice for walking and one foot of ice for driving), but enough to be very pretty.

Its really the wind that makes you cold and boy is it windy on this island. I learned that the reason that wind makes you cold is a human exudes body heat, of course, but that heat makes sort of a cushion around your body--a real life aura! When the wind blows, it blows away that cushion, and that's why wind feels so much colder than just low temperatures.

Luckily, I have heat!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Poor fishies.

Temperatures right now are hovering in the teens, and the windchill has dipped to below zero. This, of course, is nothing compared to Minnesota, where they are struggling to get the mercury above zero, but it is darn cold nonetheless.

And, my heat went out. Again.

It went out last week but was fixed enough to keep me warm that week. I went to Philadelphia this past weekend for three days of eating myself silly (Restaurant Week, BYOB and going-away party) only to come back to a heatless house on Sunday afternoon.

It was 45 degrees in my home. And my fish died.

Poor little Aoi and Akai. They were my buddies. They watched TV when I was watching TV, wriggling their little bodies towards the set. And I let them freeze to death. I gave them a proper burial at sea, and proceeded to huddle down under some comforters until my gas could be repaired. Again. Unfortunately, it took 23 hours before the gas company could make it out, so I drove back to Philadelphia, in time to see the Bears lose.

It made me sort of sad because I realized there were not too many places around where I live that I could turn to in a time of need. I have two friends in the area who I feel comfortable enough with to ask to spend the night. And both were out of town. So back to Philly it was. Back in MN, I would've had dozens of places to go...I guess that's a big struggle, is how do you make friends when you are out of college? You don't want to walk up to someone in a bar and be "hey baby, wanna be my friend?"

I am lucky to have such good friends only an hour away, but I wish I had friends only minutes away. And I wish I had my fish back.

(picture is of Akaiii, who is the new fish I bought today. I am keeping him at work. The extra i'd are to remember that he is the second Akai.)