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Nature is out to get me

lolbat, originally uploaded by Stevie-B.

Today I wish there was an emergency exit slide to inflate and slide down. Mainly it’s because I slept like crap and am tired.

I slept like crap and am tired, because some psycho bat got into our room somehow and proceeded to run over my pillow only seconds after my face vacated it because I realised that something was alive under my bed and scratching at the underside of the pillow.

I’ve never been so glad to be a light sleeper. I didn’t know bats couldn’t take off from a flat surface until I found this photo uploaded by Stevie-B on flickr while looking for a suitably terrifying bat photo. This info makes it seem less likely that the bat was rabid, so I feel less paranoid even though my doctor already said not to worry about it if I wasn’t bitten.

I am making Floof check the attic tonight, at the rate I’m going I’d get bum rushed by a pack of bats and fall down the stairs. I’ve already been attacked by a cicada flying into my hair this morning.

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Wake me up when it’s fall outside

image, originally uploaded by sockmonkeyrevolt.

My boyfriend and I are polar weather opposites, this sweltering, humid hell doesn’t bother him that much, but I don’t know how that’s possible? I don’t mind the winter so much and grey rainy days are my cup of tea, so I’m not doing so great on a week where the “feels-like” temperature is between 105 and 125 every day. It’s my week to cook dinner too and it took entirely too long to figure out my menu of things I’m in the mood for that feel light and airy (I’m the queen of soups, stews and mac and cheese.)

I am glad to be back from New York though. The trip and conference were great until Tuesday night, where things went downhill fast. First I got what I’m sure had to have been minor food poisoning from the salad at the hotel. It was the only thing I’d eaten and I was 90% better after I finished being violently ill for a couple of hours. This was not a fun way to end the conference.

It was also not fun to get to the airport for the return flight, only to discover that the administrative assistant who booked our flights booked the return tickets for the wrong day and we were thus stranded at LaGuardia. More fun involved sitting around the Atlanta airport for over 4 hours and stomach churning turbulence, but I suppose that’s all part of the excitement of travel, and makes you appreciate being home even more.

I’m a day behind still, however, so Guinea Pig activities will not commence until tonight, but I can tell you that I’m planning on playing with a recipe I found in a 70s community cookbook I recently got, for Watergate Cake. I love Watergate Salad, so I’m expecting awesomeness out of the cake. It also sounds like the kind of cake that’s just right for a broiling August day.

The photo is from a park in New York, I don’t know if the lens on my phone was smudgy or what but I like how they petals look sort of ghostly. They felt kind of ghostly in the dusk when I walked by too.

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Feeling guilty about sleeping in the city that does not

No GPM this week(and Tuesday’s 10 will probably be more like Thursday’s 10) I’m in New York for SpeechTEK 2010 (the technical conference for my day job that’s both inspiring in how cool Speech technology is and feeling inadequate at my complete inability to network and schmooze and the non-existence of graduate degrees after my name. I’m probably more bothered by my lack of offline social charm because it’s honestly the most detrimental of the two.)

The funny thing is while I love coming back to the east coast, and particularly New York, which is probably the only place I know where I feel un-selfconscious (excepting of course interactions with PhDs with decades of experience and camaraderie) I am terrible at being a tourist. I get most excited about going to the hole in the wall restaurants I used to eat at all the time, or a store I used to go to, but I’m just as likely to sit around the hotel watching cable, and just going out for food. I’m like this everywhere really. If it’s somewhere new, I’ll meticulously research the hidden treasure locations that only locals go to. I’m not interested in being a tourist, I’m interested in becoming a temporary local and since I can be a bit boring and stay-in at home, I do it when I’m abroad too, but I feel guilty. Right now I feel that instead of typing this, I should be out burning down the town until 3am and worrying about the morning payback. I am probably going down to the Village for a slice of my favourite pizza on the planet (which is at Viva Herbal on 2nd ave between 10th and 11th incidentally) in not too long, but odds are I’ll be back before primetime is over.

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An aside on genre-hate in creative writing programs

This started as an aside in my Tuesday’s 10 post, but when I previewed the post it took up an enormous amount of room and I realised that it really ought to be it’s own post as it really had nothing to do with making movies of books, but clearly I was passionate about it to have rabbited on so may words.

I don’t really get the “no genre” rule that Creative Writing programs have enacted to  ostensibly keep the work done artistic instead of commercial. I’ve taken studios at multiple colleges and they all seem to have this policy, and I think it’s counter productive and stupid. Shouldn’t it be no lazy fiction? No half-assed attempts, and not “no dragons and aliens?” The rules didn’t squash me since I’ve never been into sci-fi or fantasy books, which seem to be the number one victim of the genre rule, I suppose it’s hardest to cloak those in the garb of “legitimate non-genre” fiction to get it through the critique, but I fail to see how something like JRR Tolkein or CS Lewis is somehow less complex and critiquable than Melville or Henry Fielding. If serious fiction departments think they cut the tripe by declaring no genre fiction, they are incorrect, what they cut is diversity, which in the end makes for a very boring experience, because everyone is writing the same sort of thing they think the professor will deem serious enough. My favourite studio ever was the one where the professor told us she didn’t give a crap about the department’s genre rule and to write whatever you want as long as it’s worthy of making everyone hear it all semester while we work on it. (This was also my favourite studio because we did work on once piece either the whole semester or until we decided it was as good as it was going to get instead of bringing in something new every time you were up in the rotation, so not only did you get to see everyone’s work evolve, but you got a really good experience at the editing process. I really think less of the program I ended up getting my cw degree from because they did not use this method and in fact banned you from bringing the same work in more than once, except for the final half of senior studio, apparently you’re only supposed to revise if you’re a senior? I guess?) Okay end of rant, sorry, I have a lot of opinions about writing programs apparently. I’m just saying I’d rather read good fantasy stories than bad coming-to-terms-with-sexual-abuse-and-your-first-serious-relationship stories.

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Party all the time

I’ve been sick all week. Summer colds suck anyway, there’s just something about watering eyes and a runny nose and hacking cough that just seems even more unfair than usual when it’s Summer. Perhaps it’s that it’s bad enough enduring a cold without also having to endure the extra sweatyness of hot, humid, heatwave-filled days. My irritation at being sick was compounded by my need to clean up the house and cook for the brunch part of my karaoke and brunch birthday party weekend.

In the end my house was passable, but a little messy and  not really company perfect and my ambitious spread was whittled by half. I’m a classic over-producer when it comes to party food, it’s like I go into Martha Stewart explosion of turning any get-together into a restaurant menu of stuff I want to try out. So, for once, the left-overs to get rid of were modest and I didn’t feel like I needed to delude myself into keeping them in the fridge so as not to waste. (I just can’t do leftovers, there are a few exceptions that I do think are as good or. in the case of chili, better as leftovers, but in general, I’m just not in the mood to eat them again until it’s too late.) The karaoke was a blast, I did actually break out the MC Hammer, complete with the actual Hammer-dance that I threatened, and did not fall off the stage. (secretly I was emboldened by this awesome Japanese guy Takashi who was up earlier in the night and busted out an energetic Journey tune while wearing a sweatband and playing an inflatable guitar prop.) Brunch was also great and despite the dough for the sticky buns and marmalade rolls not rising at all, forcing me to discard them, otherwise no hitches.

What actually made it to the final menu? 2 Types of Stuffed French Toast: Mascarpone and cinnamon and Peanut Butter and Banana; The Amaretto and Pecan Baked French Toast casserole from Sweet Paul magazine; a Breakfast strata; Bacon-wrapped potato bites with spicy sour cream; Spicy Bloody Marys and a Strawberry balsamic soda.

Hopefully I’ll be over my cold soon, for, my nose is crumbling under pressure and my poor watering, dry scratchy eyes are making progress on creating the pattern for my next needlework project slow indeed. Plus I have anohter birthday party to attend on Friday. (After which I can finally show you the big secret project I was working on for the last couple weeks!)

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Guinea Pig Birthday: Grasshopper Cake

Grasshopper Cake

It’s not really a guinea pig experiment as I’ve made this cake before, though I did wait so long to get started that I didn’t have time to make the buttercream in the recipe and had to substitute the lazy beat butter and confectioner’s sugar together kind.

The recipe is out of Baked! which is one of the few cookbooks I own that I seem to actually use to cook from.

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Busy as Bees

Sorry to miss 2  Guinea Pig Monday’s in a row. This week’s is actually not AWOL it’s just arriving Tuesday, as it’s my birthday today so I took the day off work, but I’m making my own birthday cake that will show up tomorrow. My grandmother moved into an assisted living apartment this weekend, so I’ve been busy helping pack up the things she’s taking with her, and then helping make a dent in getting everything in the house distributed,donated,  thrown away or set aside for a tag sale. It’s amazing how much you can pack into one little house in 80 years.

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