Monday, July 26, 2004

Garden Fresh Tomatoes

Tonight, I had BLT's. Made with home grown tomatoes. It was the first BLT I've had this summer and first tomatoes I've picked. It was amazing. I think I'd forgotten, over the course of the previous year, what a good tomato tasted like. I've gotten used to eating Santa Sweets, which are very good, but they're no where near what I had tonight. Big, sweet, juicy, meaty slices of tomato laid on top of romaine lettuce and fresh-cooked center cut bacon with just enough mayo to complete the sandwich. I enjoyed the first one so much that I made a second.

The only down side is that I only had three red, ripe fruits on my one tomato plant. And I ate two of them tonight. There are three green ones still growing, but I'm worried that the plant won't get enough sun for them to turn red. We'll see.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Healthy Disagreement

"A man never tells you anything until you contradict him." -George Bernard Shaw

I came across that quote a few years back and I think that it has really shaped my life. If we all go along in life agreeing with everybody and stroking each others egos, no progress can be made. You only get superficial rhetoric until you put someone on the defense and make them back up their statements.

It is for this very reason that I subscribe to a few Bush/Cheny '04 RSSfeeds, as well as a Kerry/Edwards feed. The feeds are great at rebutting each other. It is also the reason that I check out Rush Limbaugh's web site every now and then and see what his current rant-of-the-moment is. I don't always disagree with what he initially says. But by the time he expands on the time he's really told me what he means and his thought process to bring him there...I seem to always be shaking my head in disbelief.

In this weekend's Weekly Radio Address by the President, Bush said, "And although teen birth rates have declined, about 3 million of our teenagers contract sexually transmitted diseases each year. So we've requested a doubling of federal funding for abstinence-only education programs."

Ahem. You're going to prevent the transmission of STDs by telling teens to not have sex? What about the 40% of 15 year olds that are already having sex?

It's fine for people to have conservative values. You may abstain if you want to. But you can't ignore the facts. A surprising number of teens have sex. Sure, you can tell them not to. But many of them are going to do it anyway. You need to inform them of the options. Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to not get pregnant or an STD. But condoms can really help. So can a committed, monogamous relationship. If you're going to choose to have sex, you need to know how to be safe about it.

Does President Bush understand the science behind his abstinence-only desires? Do you think he was a virgin during his coked-up, alcoholic years? Is he making these speeches simply to appease his base? I don't know the answers. But I do know that I think abstinence-only sex ed is ineffective and valueless.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Puppy Sitting

This weekend, I puppy-sat for Murray, Brooke and Paul's (my sister and her husband's) yellow lab. They're moving from Chicago to Memphis for what is planned to be a short term job change for Paul. Brooke is "working from home," and it doesn't really matter where home is since she flies to most of her client meetings anyway. Paul was playing golf in some tournament in Springfield yesterday, so they needed a place to drop off their puppy that was en-route. I was fairly close.

Friday night was spent puppy-proofing my living room. I moved everything that would fit in a lab's mouth into my spare room and closed the door. That took a lot longer than I had expected.

They stopped by Saturday morning. After they left, Murray paced around neurotically for about a half hour trying to find them. I decided that some exercise would be good for him, so I took him for a lap around Centennial Park. That's over two miles. I jogged off and on. It's more difficult to jog when you have a dog pulling on a leash and breaking your rhythm. When we got back, he was pretty worn out. I ate some lunch and watched a little PBS, including America's Test Kitchen which featured Pad Thai. The key flavor is tamirand, a fruit native to Africa.

Then I took Murray over to Tim and Holly's place. Tim helped me change the oil in my car and rotate my tires. Murray hung out in their fenced back yard. I had never changed any oil before, so I needed a guiding hand. It wasn't too bad, really. The worst part was reaching the filter, which was in a very awkward spot. There was oil dripping on my mouth, so I kept it shut tight. I was determined to finish unscrewing the damn filter before I crawled out from under the car again. There was oil everywhere. Rotating the tires was cake. It just took a little muscle. Having two sets of jack stands helped, too, since we could prop the car up off the ground to rotate the tires.

After the car work, I came home and showered. Then Murray started getting some energy again, so I took him out for another walk. This time we went around Kaufmann Lake. That's around 1.25 miles, round trip. I think he wanted to go in the water. I had to really lean away from him pulling on the leash just to walk straight.

After our walk, I did a little work on my Africa web site (yes, it's still being worked on). Then I tried to scavenge up some dinner from what I had on hand. Here is what I learned: balsamic vinegar and coconut milk are disgusting together. I threw out my concoction. Instead I had egg noodles with diced, canned tomatoes on top. Simple, boring and satisfying.

After a little more time on the web site, it was time for bed. After a bit of puppy-proofing, I pulled Murray's bed into my room at the foot of my bed. While I was brushing my teeth, I heard a clunk in the kitchen. He had his front paws on the kitchen counter. When I told him to get down, he had a towel in his mouth. We had a standoff for a good five minutes. He managed to get a table in between us so that I couldn't get to him. If I went to one side, he'd go to the other. Eventually, I just sat down so that he was stuck in the kitchen. I waited him out. Eventually he just stopped having fun and I was able to just snag the towel from his mouth.

He was restless at night and kept me up a little bit. He kept peeking his nose up through the blinds to try and see outside.

I was awoken by a whimpering dog licking my face. He needed to go potty. I tried to ignore him, but he persisted. It was pretty sweet and it made me smile. A puppy licking your face is a much better way to wake up than an alarm clock.

After trying to go back to sleep again, I took him for another Centennial Park walk. I knew that he had a six hour car ride ahead of him, so I thought Brooke and Paul would appreciate it. Back in my apartment, he and I played a little catch with his oversized tennis ball. That is, until he realized that he could pull the covering off of it. Which then exposed the rubber which he could then chew into little bits. He worked on that tirelessly for a good hour....

When they showed up, Murray flipped out. He was so excited to see his mom and dad again. I was a little sad to see them go. It's always comforting to have family come visit.

The rest of my day was spent mostly working on the web site. I went to a few grocery stores (including Am-Ko, the Asian import store on campus) to buy the things I needed to make Pad Thai. I've got to say, I did a damn good job. I used chicken instead of shrimp, and I used the tamirand concentrate option (not the pulp). The girl at the store said that the concentrate is a ton easier to work with. I also used a fresh, grated radish instead of the preserved option. Pad Thai isn't that hard to make. It's just that when you start cooking, you have to add everything very quickly. So you have to have everything ready and you can't really split your time cooking and rereading the recipe. But it turned out great. I can't wait to show off my leftovers at lunch tomorrow at the office. As a bonus, I'll get to make a TV joke since I got the recipe from over-the-air PBS.

And that, my friends, is all.

P.S. What does it say about my life if I was worried that I was boring the dog?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

It Continues

I'm still getting settled back into my normal life after my trip. It's been a week and a half. I balanced my books today (it's been almost a month!). I'm still working on the web site. I finally finished the safari portion of my trip, which was the most picture-laden. A few more days should do it. Once I finish it, I can finally clean my apartment. And put away my laundry (it's folded and sitting on sofa). Not enough free time!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I'm Back

I'm back, safe and sound. I got into Chicago Saturday afternoon...I'm still piecing my life back together (bills, cleaning, laundry). It was an amazing trip, to say the least! I'm working on a web site. I took over 1,000 photos (using the burst shooting mode when a cheetah is walking across the road in front of you, for example, leads to lots of pictures).

Actually, I haven't worked on the website tonight. Instead, I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11. I was in Africa when it came out, and I just couldn't wait to see it! I mean, I've always believed that this war was about economics and oil, but Moore presents more facts than I could ever dream of uncovering. Weapons? Liberation? Nope. Just a guise. Hopefully John Edwards can give the Kerry campaign the boost it needs to get Dubya out of office. (BTW, Edwards announced his presidential candidacy on the Daily Show. He won my support right there and then!)