Monday, September 29, 2003
On Saturday, we went straight from the airport to The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore (Evelin's mother works at a museum in Massachusetts and always wants to visit museums when she's visiting). The "Eternal Egypt" exhibit of Ancient Egyptian artifacts from the British Museum was going on, with some really interesting pieces. What was a bit frustrating, however, was that neither the labels nor the audio guide mentioned the hieroglyphics that were on almost every piece very much. The descriptions of a few items did give rough translations of the script, but not many. Also frustrating was one piece, The Architectural Slab of Nectanebo I (ca. 380-362 BCE), which has a line of what looked like Demotic or Greek script toward the top of the slab (was it later graffiti of some sort?) that was totally unmentioned in the descriptions. More satisfying was a small exhibit elsewhere in the museum, "Secret Signs: Egyptian Writing," which featured items from the Walters's manuscript collection.
Saturday, September 27, 2003
Friday, September 26, 2003
Thursday, September 25, 2003
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Part of my first job out of college involved getting newspapers from around the country to monitor reportage about the issues the association was concerned with. Wednesday papers were always the best because I could also comb through the food sections for neat recipes, wines, etc.
Fast forward a decade and Wednesdays still find me combing through food sections from across the country ... but now I do it online. Some weeks are sparser than others, but it's neat to see what wines are being recommended in Seattle or Los Angeles, what apple recipes are coming out of Boston, and what the latest things are in D.C. It also gives me a chance to read some really incredible food writers, particularly Hsiao-Ching Chou in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Here's a list -- in no particular order -- of some of the newspaper food sections I read (some more regularly than others):
- The Washington Post
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
- The Los Angeles Times
- The Boston Globe
- The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune*
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Chicago Sun-Times
- Toronto Star
- Indian Country**
- The (Lafayette) Advertiser
- The (Portland) Oregonian
- The Charlotte Observer
- The Anchorage Daily News
- Honolulu Advertiser
** No regular food section online, but look for Dale Carson's "Native Cooking" column among other food stories.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Flooding and power outages in Annapolis kept Evelin's acupuncturist from getting in to work early enough for Evelin's treatment this morning. She was originally going to stick me some more, too, but because I'm on meds for the bronchitis, she didn't want to combine acupuncture with the Western meds, so my acupuncture is being delayed until I’m in better shape.
Monday, September 22, 2003
For years now, we've had problems with windows leaking during heavy winds and rains. During Isabel, most of the offices on the eastern side of the building ended up getting drenched. Thankfully, one of my coworkers came in on Saturday and opened up the windows to try to help air things out some. It still stinks in my office, but I was lucky in that I don't have too many things on that side of the office. A few papers got wet, but nothing was destroyed.
Saturday, September 20, 2003
In general I still get a bit excited about hurricanes, but this one wore me out. As a kid in Louisiana, my hurricane memories center on one storm that toppled a few of the big pines in the backyard (which were later turned into a cool fort) and that knocked over our rabbit hutch, allowing our two rabbits to escape to who knows what fate. Shortly after a different hurricane, my mother drove my brother and me to school only to find a huge old oak blocking the road in. School was closed a few more days. There also were several hurricanes that brought floods to our neighborhood, but never all the way into our house; we would ride our bikes through the flooded streets and go swimming in the yard (until the fire ants latched on to us as a way to escape the deluge). Across the Lake, at my aunt and grandmother's houses in Pass Christian, Mississippi, there were pictures of the damage that was done to the properties during Hurricanes Camille and Betsy. In my experience, it was always a lot of wind and rain and the aftermath was about fun.
Now, however, I am a homeowner, which makes hurricanes a touch more unsettling, I think. Inside the Beltway, we are outside of the direct path of the majority of hurricanes, but we do still get hit upon occasion. Isabel did blow further southwest than it could have, but we did loose power at about 3:30 p.m. on Thursday (well before any rain ... or even much wind ... arrived). Actually, it's a bit disturbing that Pepco lost power at more than two-thirds of the households in its coverage area. We were back up shortly after noon on Saturday, but that was enough time to wipe out much of the food in our freezer (we put a bag of ice in there on Friday morning, which helped both fill it and keep it cold, but the Skinny Cow ice-cream sandwiches made a huge mess).
Outside, we lost a lot of leaves and sticks, nothing too big. In our neighborhood, a few houses were hit by falling trees, although most of the damage looks minor. One SUV did get smacked pretty good. We had most of it all cleaned up by Friday afternoon (including cleaning the gutters).
Preparation-wise, we were a little worse off. We did move the patio furniture and potted plants, but we had to run out in the rain and wind Thursday evening to get a standard telephone (both of our other ones are cordless models that wouldn't work without power for the basestations) and a portable radio. I have a boombox in my office and I could have sworn we had a little jogger's radio somewhere downstairs, but, of course, it couldn't be found, so now we have a new armband radio, which worked well even though we couldn't both listen to it at the same time.
The preparation we did do was to rent four DVDs; a lot of good that did. Instead, we played many games of Scrabble by candlelight. In fact, were out at Target again today when the power came back on picking up a copy of Boggle and any other games that looked interesting. (Actually, there were some really cool versions of Risk, Clue, Scrabble, Twister, Sorry and other games packaged in wooden boxes and using retro boards and graphics; I wanted to pick up a few of them, but wiser heads prevailed.)
Adding to the not-so-much-fun aspect of the hurricane was the fact that I'm ill. Part of why I didn't blog during the week was that was ailing. I went in to work on Monday to finish up the preprint part of the contract publishing thing, but I was told to stay home on Tuesday because my coughing was disrupting too many coworkers.
Tuesday morning, I went with Evelin to see her acupuncturist. The acupuncturist had wanted me to go through a session or two to help with the fertility stuff, so I went. After Evelin got stuck, I was treated to a couple of needles in my arms and legs. Usually, she just sticks them in and pulls them right out on Evelin; for me, she stuck them in and left them for about 20 minutes. She then did a few points on my back, which did seem to help my breathing a little, even if it didn't do much for the coughing. Evelin went to work; I picked up all three Austin Powers DVDs because the acupuncturist had warned that the treatment could leave me a bit wiped out.
I also cleaned out the wine cellar a bit in an effort to track down the source of some mildew in there. (The wines are piled up in the basement now and I need to give the area under the stairs (the wine cellar) a good disinfecting. This all also needed doing so that I could get ready for building some sort of shelving under there to better store the wine). Amidst the things I found in the cellar was a small bottle of Tobermory, a nice malt from the Isle of Mull; there was only a dram left, which I had ... strictly for medicinal purposes.
That evening, I called in to the office and it looked like things were going okay without me, so I extended the break for another day (three more DVDs: American Pie 2; Blasphemy; and Die Another Day), mostly to be lazy and, because of a big tradeshow in Europe, I did not have a big stack of stories awaiting edits. It also gave me a chance to cook down all the yellow tomatoes we'd harvested a week or so ago into a sauce (shallots, onion, garlic, yellow tomatoes, fresh basil, dried oregano, dried yellow tomatoes (rehydrated and then puréed), and white balsamic vinegar). I chopped everything (including a chunk of finger and nail from my left thumb ... that didn't make it into the sauce) and started cooking it Tuesday night, cooled it and then finished cooking for about eight hours on Wednesday.
By midday Wednesday, I was still feeling ill, so I made an appointment with the doctor (the same GP that Evelin wants us to change). Thursday morning, 9:30 a.m., I'm in the doctor's office getting my chest and back listened to with a stethoscope. In the end, she diagnosed bronchitis, giving me prescriptions for an inhaler, antibiotics and some cough syrup that tastes super nasty. The federal government was closed (which means my office should have closed, but I couldn't raise anyone on the phone to find out for sure ... not that I went to any great effort to be 100% certain), so I just hung out until noon, when Evelin's university closed, and went to pick her and my meds up.
And that brings things full circle. We finished prepping the yard for Hurricane Isabel and then went in to read when the power went out.
Monday, September 15, 2003
To escape some of the stress of things, Evelin and I ran away this weekend for a short holiday to Cape May, New Jersey. We left after work on Friday and ended up driving through the remnants of Hurricane Henri for most of the trip. Since we were booking things last minute, we didn't end up in one of the historic Victorians in Cape May proper; instead, we ended up the shore a little way in North Wildwood. The B&B was nice and quiet, and it was close enough to drive down to Cape May, but parking there was a pain and slipping out for dinner proved to be a bigger task than we'd hoped. For the most part we did a low-key day trip, visiting the lighthouse and Cape May Winery, and getting sunburned on a whale watch.
Despite the predictions for rain on Saturday, it turned out to be a fairly warm, albeit humid, late summer day. The lighthouse was really cool and gave us a good view of the Atlantic and Delaware Bay. The winds at the top were incredible and it was obvious the ocean was pretty choppy.
From there it was up to Cape May Winery & Vineyards, which changed owners earlier this year. The wines were decent, but not spectacular, but after talking to the person in the tasting room, it sounds like the new winemaker has some really interesting ideas and the vintages in another year or two may be pretty good. We got a bottle of cabernet franc for the cellar.
After a quick lunch, we moved on to the whale watch. We'd originally tried to go on a 9:30 a.m. watch, but that one was cancelled, so we came back for the 1:00 p.m. one. The choppy seas kept us on the alee side of the cape for the most part, although we did turn out into the Atlantic and found a good-sized group of dolphins who did some jumping and surfing and roll and other behaviors. After that we pushed into the mouth of the Delaware Bay and cruised around a bit allegedly looking for whales, but it mostly was just to get a good sunburn.
For dinner, we decided to walk around Wildwood to see what was on the boardwalk or in the general area. Last weekend was the New Jersey Firefighter's convention in Wildwood, so the town and boardwalk were packed with firefighters. Nothing on the boardwalk looked too appealing, so we ducked the crowds and headed into town to find ... not much. We ended up deciding that it was late and we weren't that hungry anyway ...
Sunday was a quick drive back with a stop for a few pumpkins to put on the porch; we had to leave early because I had panda watch that afternoon.
This morning was the appointment with the IVF PGD doctor. It was interesting, but I want to read back over things before I blog about it ...
Friday, September 12, 2003
A few other random things:
We went in for a beta check this morning; hopefully this afternoon they'll call letting us know things are back to baseline, and we go in on Monday to talk with the preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) doctor. Of course the timing turns out to suck for me because I'm still embroiled in this contract publishing thing that is going to run over into Monday, but c'est la vie.
Also, I used the bit of German at the start of this entry because I've been e-mailing one of my colleagues in the Italian office in German. I really need to practice; I've forgotten so much.
A few days ago, the Swedish word of the day on How to Learn Swedish in 1000 Difficult Lessons was ogräs, which literally means not-grass but usually translates as weeds. That is quite appropriate for my yard; I should talk more about mowing the ogräs than mowing the grass.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Work is plugging along. Despite a number of side distractions, I achieved my goal of getting all of the regular magazine looked at in Quark; tomorrow, I can go back and forth between pages and the contract publishing magazine, which I should see in Quark in the morning. I've put down my foot, insisting that I will not be working this weekend; although I did crack and say I could come in after watching the pandas Sunday evening, but I am counting on no one taking me up on that...
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Setting aside the horrors of the day job, we saw Howard Dean speak last night at University of Maryland in College Park. Fantastic. It was a stump speech, many parts of which I've heard on the radio or television, but in person he is so dynamic and energetic. At this stage in the campaign (and considering the event), it's not surprising that he didn't go into too many specifics, but he did make a strong pitch for traditional Democratic values -- equal opportunity, access to healthcare, fair labor standards, and responsible leadership. He also stressed his bonifides as a deficit hawk, which is rapidly becoming something only the Democrats are worried about, much to the chagrin of some long-time Republicans, I'd imagine. Plus the man is witty and totally unscripted. I guess it's easy when you're on the stump day in and day out to memorize your talking points, but he really speaks well off the cuff ... which came in handy when dealing with the small group of GOP hecklers.
Before Dean spoke, he had a few Marylanders up to speak, including a really eloquent volunteer firefighter from Smith Island and a Deaf activist. Side note: Evelin and I ended up sitting amidst a contingent of students from Gallaudet. I have a long-standing interest in ASL, but only know a few signs, and it was really fascinating to watch how the different sign interpreters (there were two on stage) signed the different speakers. I was also cool that the Deaf activist spoke in ASL and was interpreted into English for the hearing.
Also, more than 30 Maryland politicians were on hand to announce their endorsement of Dean, including Justin Ross, one the state delegates for my district. Kurt Schmoke, the former mayor of Baltimore and a classmate of Dean’s, introduced Dean.
While on the subject of politics, Baltimore is having a mayoral primary today that is odd for multiple reasons: the general election is 14 months away and 16-year-olds are being allowed to vote if they will be 18 when the general election rolls around in 2004. This race was low on my radar screen because we only get a few Baltimore television or radio stations (and the ones that come in best tend not to be very news-oriented) and I don't pick up the Sun as often as I used to. The sad thing is that only 855 16-year-olds registered to vote: If I could have voted when I was 16 ... well it wouldn't have mattered much because I would have just missed the 1984 elections, but I would have been active for the 1987 governor's race. I probably would have voted for Buddy Romer (who was still a Democrat at that point).
Moving away from politics, Evelin’s acupuncturist wants me to come in for a needling sometime next week, and Mei Xiang learned some serious martial arts during her pseudopregnancy. She and Tian are back together and, if you're lucky, you can see some great play sessions between the two of them. Tian seems to be letting Mei wail away at him more, which means she isn't looking to break away so quickly; it's a lot of fun. Sunday they were really active about 3:40 p.m. Probably the best time to look is early in the morning, say around 8:00 a.m. when they're let outside or mid to late afternoon, about an hour before they go inside (which is around 5:00 p.m.). All times change at the end of October. She kept using this really great move where she'd break away from Tian and run towards the tree she traditionally uses to escape him, but, as he drew close, she would spin and rear up so that both front paws could smack down on his head.
Sunday, September 07, 2003
I think this was the first time this summer that I’ve cut the grass two weeks in a row. It probably could have let it go for another week, but who knows if we'll be home or off on some adventure or another. Actually, we may try to go on a whale watch out of Cape May, New Jersey -- it was another one of those things we thought about doing this weekend, but it didn't work out. We also did a ton of weeding (or at least mowing down weeds and spent flowers, like the tickseed and daylilys) and hacked up a few big braches that fell from the neighbor's old oak into the backyard.
Before all that, however, we went in for another hCG beta -- 21. So we'll be down to zero sometime during the week (Evelin's going to make an appointment for Thursday or so) and then we can figure out the calendar for starting IVF ... which is sure to lead to some interesting blogging.
After cleaning up from the yardwork, we had to start getting ready for the drive-in. Evelin, being a New Englander, is long familiar with drive-ins. Me, being from Louisiana, had never been to one before (maybe my folks took me and my brother when we were little kids, but I don't have any recollection of being at a drive-in, so I'm counting last night as my first trip). Actually, our respective geographic origins may not play a role in out drive-in experiences; maybe it does. There were two drive-ins that I remember seeing as a youth: One that we would pass driving out of New Orleans that I remember as being on the neutral ground between the lanes of the Interstate or highway; the other was in an industrial area of town and would play nothing but martial arts films, horror films, and porn.
Getting ready meant preparing food and figuring out how to get to the theater. We made up a little pasta salad; grabbed a baguette, some brie, and some fruit; and started popping popcorn.
The theater is Bengies Drive-In, about an hour away, northeast of Baltimore. Apparently, it's the largest movie screen on the East Coast. Last night was a triple feature -- Finding Nemo, Freaky Friday, and Pirates of the Caribbean -- which meant we were there until 2:30 in the morning ... but it was a riot. Nemo was cute, with some good moments; Freaky Friday was so-so, and Pirates was great fun, excellent special effects and fun dialogue.
They also played a bunch of old spots for Coke, Dr. Pepper, popcorn, hot dogs, etc., and three Merry Melodies cartoons -- "What's Opera, Doc?," "Rabbit Seasoning," and "Little Beau Pepé." I may have never been to a drive-in before, but Evelin hadn't seen "What's Opera, Doc?" (Spweaw and magic helmwet!) so it was a fair trade.
Friday, September 05, 2003
Quick round up of other things:
Evelin made an appointment for the week after next with the PGD doctor, so I guess we'll find out then more details about what it will entail, what it can help discover, and so forth.
Traffic last night wasn't too bad, despite the NFL attack on The Mall.
The Democratic debate last night was interesting. Dean held his own, but didn't shine, unfortunately; Mosely-Braun had some solid positions and very good points; Lieberman should stop trying to use Spanish and he really should look at his chances in the Republican primary; Edwards and Gephardt had some good moments, as did Graham and Kerry, but nothing stellar; and Kucinich ... hello ... nice righteous anger, but it's not going to beat Bush. It's too bad Sharpton's plane didn't make it, and Clark ... if you're in, get in. If not, talk to Dean or Kerry about the VP slot.
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Yesterday, I ended up taking off early from work (and, of course, several problems arose just as I was needing to leave) to sit around the Hyundai dealership for about an hour and a half. On Monday when we went hiking, a noise started up in the AC blower fan; it turned out to be some leaves or something that were sucked up into the venting system and were stuck in the fan. I thought it was something like that, but I didn't want to void any of the warranty by disassembling things by myself. The dealership wasn't too bad: After about an hour I was told the car was fixed, but it turned out to be a miscommunication. The problem had been diagnosed and I had to wait a while longer for them to actually fix things. Other than that, no troubles.
Not that the Hyundai isn't doing everything I need it to do, but if I found a spare £150,000 laying around, an Aquada Sports Amphibian would be quite fun to drive. I could hop into the Anacostia at Bladensburg and drive down to the Potomac to get to work, avoiding all the NFL hoopla along the way.
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Oh, and I was bad yesterday. A friend of Evelin's from Babydust sent her some cookies to cheer her up after the miscarriage, and I told her that I wanted to add a P.S. to the thank you note: "Still sad. Send more cookie. Thank you." Cookies, yum.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
All in all it was a tame time; Evelin and I were both pretty tired from the preceding week (many of the same factors as this week), and so we didn't do much. We debated driving up to Ocean City, New Jersey, for the day on Saturday to visit friends, but that didn't happen. Mostly we just hung out, cleaned up the house some, and got some overdue yardwork done.
On Sunday, we went in for another beta hCG; this one was 155, so it isn't falling off at about the expected rate. We're going back next weekend and it should be back to baseline about midweek after that. Once we're at that point, we get to start figuring the timing for IVF. Evelin started looking at all the forms we have to sign over the weekend, and there's a stack of them: consents, agreements to pay should insurance not cover things, requests for referrals for the OR, decisions about what to do with embryos that aren't implanted, etc. PGD (preimlantation genetic diagnosis), which can help ID any major problems before the implantation part of IVF happens, may not be covered by insurance, so that's about $4,000 to add to the budget (we have to submit the claim directly to our insurer ourselves and then see what they say). As far as insurance goes, we have been really lucky thus far; Evelin's insurance coverage is quite good and Maryland is one of the few states to require insurers to provide coverage for infertility treatments, thankfully.
On Saturday, we ended up going to see Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, which was a hoot. Richard Rodrigues is a fantastic director and he’s really taking kids’ movies to new levels with this franchise.
Monday, we took a short hike in Cedarville State Forest near Waldorf, Maryland. Only about four miles and most of it was tramping through pretty mucky trails. We did see some frogs, but that was about it as far as animals go. I got stung by a yellowjacket or something, otherwise no excitement.
And, while I was cutting the grass on Sunday, the neighbor with a generator flagged me down to let me know that no-one could stop him from running his generator because "Last time I checked this was still America and we aren't a communist country. I have a right to protect my property." Apparently, while I was out for a walk trying to get away from his noise during the blackout last week, the police stopped by and said there'd been a complaint about the noise and asked him to shut it off. He refused and the police (at least in his telling) went away, which is a bit disconcerting if the city has a noise ordinance. I can understand not wanting to push what's essentially a nuisance complaint, but if the law allows for a fine or something, a fine should be assessed. I told him that it was annoying and loud, but we hadn't called the police. I think he's mostly just selfish and even a fine or two isn't going to stop him ...
© 2003–2010 T. Carter Ross