Sunday, April 29, 2007

One Weekend at a Time

A few highlights from the last weekend in April:

Strawberry Mousse Parfait

The above is a weekend in itself! We had our neighbors Don and Isabella over for dinner on Saturday night. I made Stuffed Mushrooms, Guinness Stew, Buttermilk Soda Bread, and the above pictured dessert. And a pitcher of margaritas. I talked to Don today and he said he thinks we got his wife drunk (Oops, they're in their 70s!).

Mexican Redknee Tarantula

Today, Monte and I went to the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver. Besides butterflies, this indoor insect zoo has horseshoe crabs, tarantulas, cockroaches (shudder), starfish and many more interesting species to view and touch.

me, holding a Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula

I got to hold a tarantula! It was so cool! The Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula is one of the most docile species and whose lifespan is around twelve years. She crawled all over my hands and started out on my arm before she was kindly plucked back by her handler.

Malay Lacewing Butterfly

Above is one of the most intricately designed butterflies we saw. There were so many beautiful ones that I had never seen before. I had hoped to see a Malachite butterfly, but since they are green, like the stone they are named after, I imagine that had there been any out at the time, they would have been quite difficult to find. We did see ten different types of butterflies and at least eighteen different beautiful and exotic flowers.

Curry, with her new toy

Coming home, we stopped at the pet store to get a new nest for our rat, Hamlin. Monte saw the above toy and couldn't resist. Curry now knows the word, "burger," however it only means small stuffed toy to tear apart to her.

In other news: The Vatican had a conference on climate change recently and the pope declared it against God's will to abuse the environment (does that mean that global warming isn't part of the inevitable downfall of society and the precursor to armageddon?). My garden is starting to bloom. And finally, video games may be related to violence.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Word of the Week

Welcome, once again, to this very educational blog designed to expand our vocabularies (or expose how pathetic my vocabulary is).

The word of the week/moment/day is one of the following (can you guess which one is correct?):

otiose (adj.) - hateful; detestable; repugnant.

otiose (adj.)- immensely large; vast.

otiose (adj.) - indolent; futile; superfluous.

Two points to the best sentence!

dazzling new levels

Welcome back to the work-week! I hope everyone had as good of a weekend as I did! On Saturday, I threw a party for the students of mine who received superior ratings in the local festival and are qualifying for state. We had a WONDERFUL time. Sunday, we bought bushes to plant in our front yard (I have yet to do the planting though) and went to a Decemberists concert. (Their new album has a cleaner and more mainstream sound to it...... and thus I like it BETTER).

I also put down the book Waiting for Gertrude by Bill Richardson. This is one I won't be finishing. The idea of the book was cute; a community of cats live in the main cemetery in Paris and they are reincarnations of such famous Parisian artists as Chopin, Rossini, Isadora Duncan, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and others. I think the author missed a step though, in making his characters a bit too crass. It is cute that the characters retain much of their former-life personalities while being primarily concerned with things like licking their paws and scavenging for their next meal. In putting this book down, I either quit too early, or this book would have made an excellent short story. Either way, I don't have the time to waste reading a book from which I'm getting neither enjoyment nor information. So, my copy is available to anyone who wants to read it after such a glowing review!

In other news: Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal win through to the run-off of France's presidential poll, Maradona is treated for alcoholism (I originally read that as "Madonna." I don't know who Maradona is.), Mischa Barton can't dress herself, and my tea is ready. Cheers!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shroud by John Banville

John Banville tells the story of a man, who reaching the end of his life having successfully hidden his true identity from the world, meets a young girl, overwhelmed by madness, who unravells it all.

The tale is not quickly moving, but the telling of it is wonderfully done. Banville's use of language is so poetic, making each instance in the story enchanting.

Intelligent, literary, philisophical, and historical; Banville touches on themes of madness, isolation, travel, and language.

I think there were a lot of things in this book that I misunderstood or passed right by without appreciating, and I feel that it may be an entirely different experience for another reader. But an experience definitely worth your while.

In other news: I dropped a bit of eggplant in my computer keyboard (you shouldn't eat at your desk), eating less salt can cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by one quarter, and Jessica Alba flashes her panties. All in a day's work!

Monday, April 16, 2007

What's in your Water?

A while back, I posted a blog about Fiji water. Well, as it turns out, it is not only not worth the cost to the environment to drink Fiji water, but it isn't worth it to drink ANY bottled water. With the costs for bottling and transporting, and especially the cost of the plastic bottle, we should really all go back to tap water. If the thought grosses you out, check out the National Assessment of Tapwater Quality Database to see how clean (or dirty) your water is and keep in mind that most modern communities have cleaner tap water than typical bottled water.

Those of you in Chicago and New York? Use a filter. Mom? Your water is good! Drink from the tap! My water is contaminated mostly with arsenic. Lovely.

Take a Walk

I would like to share with you a recent article by Garrison Keilor I think you will enjoy.

He urges you to go out into the world and take a walk. I urge you to do the same. Unless, of course, your world looks something like this:

my neighborhood

If that is the case, I understand and urge you to remain indoors and look at better parts of the world online.

mine, despite the snow

The Namesake

Yesterday I saw the movie The Namesake.

The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Jhumpa Lahiri and set in both New York and Calcutta. Telling the archetypal story of an immigrant family starting a new life in the U.S., we meet the Ganguli family from India. The movie centers around three important characters: Ashoke, the father, a professor who marries, and moves his wife to New York hoping to raise his family with the opportunities that America offers while holding on to his traditions; Ashima, the mother, who marries to escape the tradition and provinciality of her hometown only to find that she misses them desperately; and their son, Gogol, who is a callow and resentful youth who doesn't fit in completely with his peers, and rejects many of the traditions of his homelife.

The acting is magnificent; the scenes in Calcutta are colorful and realistic; and the story is moving. Though I was a little wary at first of the formulaic nature of the story, it was done so well that I just loved it.

In other news: Every house in the UK is being given a device that monitors exactly how much electricity is being used moment to moment; Severe obesity has tripled in five years despite education and weight-loss surgery (could something be wrong with our food?); An eyetracking study caught men, but not women, staring at a batter's crotch; And there is a theory that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Straight, No Chaser.

It is Friday, April 13th and the world, it seems, is covered in snow. My world is, at least. I am drinking tea, missing the cream in Ireland, and listening to Thelonious Monk.

Curry and I just checked on our sad little tree, and I am cheered to see that it is going to make it even though the spring seems it will never arrive.

a bit of green!

In other news: The military has lowered its standards for new recruits taking the military aptitude test in order to allow more people to enlist (we've already enlisted all the smart people willing to make the sacrifice). A kindergartner in Avon Park, Florida was picked up by the police and charged with a felony for having a tantrum in class. And Happy Birthday to my step-grandfather who has turned 93 years old today!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Have you sent in your taxes yet?

Welcome to April. We are having a snow storm here. If that tickles your fancy, move to Colorado. If not, you have my permission to feel sorry for me.

The Word of the Week is quotidian, and its definition is one of the following:

quotidian (adj.) - alluding to something previously stated.

quotidian (adj.) - daily, ordinary or commonplace.

quotidian (adj.) - medicinal, unpalatable, disagreeable.

What does quotidian mean to YOU? Two points for using it in a sentence! (So far, it is two points for Lil Megora and two points for Dawn!)

In other news: Recently in cricket, Graeme Smith fell in the seventh over, nicking behind after he charged down the pitch and slogged wildly. Kate Moss has fat friends, Brandon Davis has NO friends, and I don't know who Brandon Davis is. And Isreal has set conditions on the upcoming talks with Syria demanding that they cut ties to Hamas, stop assisting Hizbollah, and alter its relationship with Iran.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Happy Passover!

It is my pleasure to bring you a new Word of the Week, which ought perhaps to be called Word of the Day, or Word of the Moment, or Word When I'm Inspired.

This moment's word is:

crapulent (adj) sick from gross excess in drinking or eating.

or is it.......

crapulent (adj) intellectually or morally ignorant.

or is it.......

crapulent (adj) characterized by or using low buffoonery; coarsly jocular or derisive.

For those of you who thought you might learn something from my blog, you can thank Lil Megora for the brilliant suggestion. Regardless of its meaning though, I think this word is just fabulous. Two points for using it in a sentence!

Monday, April 02, 2007

No Stamp in my Passport

I've been out of the country again! But now I'm back. Aside from causing me to feel foolish using loonies and toonies to pay for things, Canada is quite nice! (Here is a tidbit that I didn't learn until returning to the states: the nickname loonie was adopted because there is a picture of a bird on the one dollar coin).

The highlights of my trip (which was really to attend a conference though there are no pictures here of that since there were none worth taking):

A view of Toronto from the window of the Sheraton and a welcome respite from conference sessions.

Well, I found my favorite restaurant there! And I insisted on eating there every other day! Above, lemongrass and eggplant curry. Perfect with a cup of Ginger tea and mango juice.

Niagara Falls of course!

My wonderful hosts, Dawn and Erik, freezing and getting wet in front of Niagara Falls!

I also stopped in Chicago and was able to see almost everyone in my immediate family. Though I was pretty exhausted, I had a wonderful time and I should have taken pictures!

In other news: The E.P.A. is responsible and has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emited from automobiles, Tara Reid's bikini almost fits, the Darfur conflict continues to spread violence to its neighbors, and Gilmore Girls is a rerun again this week.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Word of the Week

Frustrated with my small vocabulary relative to what is out there, I have decided to start a word of the week blog. It might happen more often. It might happen less often..... as blogs do. Feel free to use the word in your OWN sentence!

Appropriately, this week's word is nescience (n.) - lack of knowledge; ignorance.

The Soloist by Nicholas Christopher

Max Randal, a pianist of the caliber of Rubenstein is now 32 and preparing a come-back tour. A child prodigy, his pursuit of wine and women and a bit of a professional burn-out has gotten him to where he is now. Alone, nervous, and stuck. His first wife is dying, his second wife wants to get back together, and the mother of his only child is leaving their young daughter with him for the summer as he tries to prepare for his tour.

I think this book is mostly a tale of past relationships, deiscipline, and the passion in life aside from romantic love. Though the author has a hard time refraining from including the fantastic in his novels (in this case a just discovered never before heard Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody), he sure weaves a magnificent story.

Sometimes very technical (I actually jotted down some great practicing advice), Max talks through the work of preparing for a recital..... the memory, the nuance of playing, the mind games involved in keeping a repetoire in one's head and the pain of repetitive motion. Other reviews have called the writing pretentious (I found it right on, and actually quite enjoyable to read), the plot improbable (it is fiction, right?), and the characters flat. However, I enjoyed it. Being a pianist myself though, I cannot really recommend it to anyone else because they just might find it flat and pretentious!

In other news: Researchers are working on the development of artificial livers from stem cells of umbilical cord blood (so drink up!); the Cleveland Public Library, Harvard Law School, and Brown University all have books clad in skin stripped from executed criminals or from the poor (gah!); and Paris Hilton may face a three-month prison sentence for violating her probation by driving with a suspended license.