Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Friday Ramblings

Ok, so I know it's Wednesday - but it's *MY* Friday... I have the next two days off, to go on a motorcycle trip for the weekend.  Looking forward to it, although I think my liver is already in pain...

Yesterday, as I was cutting through town to get to Borders, I passed a bright yellow pickup truck.  Low and behold, guess what I saw on the back bumper?  A CIA - Hyde Park parking pass!  Small world, huh?  As I passed, I saw that the driver was a "kid", at least by my reckoning.  Probably a current student, on summer break.  Weird when you think about how many people are surrounding you that you know nothing about...

When I got to Borders, it was quite the depressing scene.  Everyone was jolly, not even staff members seemed upset.  But to me, it was the end of a great thing.  If it hadn't been for Borders, I don't know how I would've gotten through school.  Near my college, there was a store open 24/7, which provided students a place for late night study sessions and research opportunities when the libraries all closed.  I hate to see what comes next, too, especially since I am not thrilled about all of the e-readers.  Will our children even know what it feels like to hold a book, to smell the paper and ink, to see the colorful pictures?  Or will they only know black and white text on a computer screen, devoid of a soul?  Sad... so very sad.


Later last night, reading through some blogs, I found one that put another frown on my mood... Marcus Samuelsson did a nice article entitled "The Oncoming Decline of Culinary Schools" in which he opened my eyes to the perils of going to culinary school.  I had no idea it was that "bad" out there?  How do chefs make a living?!  But it really put a damper on my mood, and on my dreams of going to the CIA.  If I can't make a comfortable living doing what I love, then obviously, I should find something else to do, whether I love it or not.  Ultimately, if I can't afford to LIVE while away from work, then what's the point of being happy at your job?  Just depressing to think about it...

 Due to my trip this weekend, I refused to grocery shop last weekend, and haven't really cooked anything in a while.  Honestly, I've worked so many extra shifts at the station that I don't think I've been home at meal time in more than a week!  Hopefully, next week things will settle down and I will be able to get back to cooking.  I have a ton of recipes I want to try out, adapt and play with.

But since I am disconnecting from the digital world for a few days, have a good weekend!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Three things

I’ve seen a few different bloggers posting this survey, and while I don’t really consider myself a true blogger, I figured, ‘eh, why not?’
Three ways that I’m still a kid…
Oh Lord…

1. I still love when my mom cooks for me. Always will. My mom wasn’t the world’s greatest chef or anything – in fact, she will readily agree that most dishes don’t turn out the same twice (usually because someone talked to her while cooking and she left something out…) And I have most of her recipes, but there’s something that can’t be beat about going home and having mom cook up a meal.

2. I love watching cartoons. Classic cartoons, not the sci-fi anime junk on the tube these days, but the originals. Bugs Bunny. Daffy Duck. Yosemite Sam. Marvin the Martian. Woody Woodpecker. I’ll even go to Duck Tales, Chip’n’Dale, and of course, the Smurfs. Now, don’t get me wrong, most of the cartoon movies are decent… Ratatouille, Cars, any of the Disney movies. Yeah, Saturday mornings were the best “tv time” ever…

3. I have a need to feel accepted wherever I go. Outwardly, I can keep this in check, but internally, I am nearly always searching for some hint that what I am doing or saying is “correct” and that I am not making a fool of myself.

Three ways that I’m already old…
1. I have aches. Every morning, it takes me a good ten to fifteen minutes before my muscles will do what my brain is telling them to do. If I sit in one position for too long, my joints get stiff. And when I kneel down, my knees make all sorts of snap, crackle and pop noises!

2. I say things like, ‘Back in my day’, ‘When I was your age’, and ‘Because I said so.’ I also look at teenagers of today and cringe to think that they are our country’s future… most of them seem to be dreamless, uncreative, unproductive, lazy, ambitionless, and downright rude with no sense of morals, honor, or respect. Wow, I sound like my grandpa…

3. When I discover a new activity or hobby I want to try, I tend to think in terms of ‘it’s too late for that.’ In reality, I know that there’s plenty of time for change, but if I don’t give myself that slap to the face, I get caught up in a ‘it is what it is’ way of thinking. It’s never too late for change…

Three things that I want to do…
1. Go to the Culinary Institute of America. I cannot even begin to describe how badly I want to go there. I’m not certain I want to work full-time as a chef, but I want that knowledge base. I want to know, with complete confidence that can only come from the best training available, that I am comfortable in the kitchen, cooking big or small. I want to know how to create wonderful meals, and how to pair all sorts of different ingredients together to create flavor masterpieces.

2. Travel. I have lists of places I want to go, with the things I want to see. Some are close: New York City, Charlotte, Philadelphia. Some are a bit farther away: San Francisco (soon!), Seattle, Hawaii. Some are WAY far: Sidney, Australia; Italy; back to Paris; Russia; Japan. Unfortunately, I would need to win the lotto two or three times, so that I could stop working and just start traveling in order to check them all of the list.

3. Learn other languages. I took Spanish in high school, and would like to learn it better. I have taken a few American Sign Language classes, and had a blast with that. And I really want to learn French, mostly because I want to go live in Paris for a year or two. But I am always so impressed when someone can speak more than one language, something I think the rest of the world has a better handle on than the U.S.

Three ways that I’m a stereotypical boy…
1. I hate to clean. With a PASSION. I would rather pack everything up and MOVE than clean the house. Dirty dishes. Yeah, they’re the devil. And I agree with Bill Engvall – why bother dusting? You dust the shelves, the dust goes up in the air, and then lands on something else. Why bother?

2. I’m a lazy slob. Don’t mean to be, but… no, I guess I do mean to be. I live alone. Nobody comes to visit me. If I decide to drop my clothes on the ground, who cares? If I make a pile of my junk mail, instead of just sorting and shredding it, who’s to say? If I didn’t live alone, or if I didn’t live in a crappy apartment, maybe I’d care more… but I don’t, so I don’t.

3. Clothes are clothes. I have five polo shirts – one for each day of the work week. I am not a fashion queen, I don’t know what goes with what, and I really don’t care if my socks match my belt match my sunglasses. More important things are out there.

Three ways that I’m a stereotypical girl…
You know, I probably could come up with an answer, but in the name of self-respect, I will refrain…

Three things that I like about myself…
1. The thing I like the most about myself is my love of learning. It’s also the thing that has caused me the most confusing, pain, and financial ruin! But I absolutely love learning new things, to the extent that as soon as I learn, I tend to drop it all in the dust as I run off to learn something new. And there have been a few times that I have been called a know-it-all, but then again, I can solve a lot of potential problems just because I have tried so many different hobbies and such.

2. I am a very caring person, to a fault. I have been an EMT for about seven years now, and recently upgraded to being a medic, and absolutely love it. It is so gratifying to help someone in their time of need, to help calm someone’s panic, to hold a hand in a time of family loss, to know that I made a difference in providing a future for someone.

3. I am a very loyal person, until you cross me… then, good luck. For those that I trust and consider friends, I will go to the ends of the earth to help. But the reverse is also true – if you aren’t on that list, it takes a lot for me to go out of my way to assist. Until it’s something that needs help (see EMT above, or helping / caring…)

Three of my everyday essentials…
1. I hate to say it, but I feel lost without checking email and / or Twitter at least once a day. I need to catch up with the few friends I have, see what everyone else is doing, check in with my parents, or see how my sister’s pregnancy is coming along. Without the interweb, none of this would be possible for me, which is why it’s an essential. Those days when I cannot check in, it feels like I am missing out on something. Although, that said, after a few days of “disconnect”, I get over it and it takes a concerted effort to get back into the habit of checking…

2. A shower. Not a bath, but a shower. Doesn’t matter what I am doing, what I have planned, or anything else, I need a shower every day. Sometimes more than one. I may wait until later in the day, especially if I know I’m just going to be working out, or doing something that will get me stanky again, but when that’s done, it’s into the shower.

3. My family.  This ties a bit into #1 above, but I have a very small family, and since I live hundreds of miles away from my parents, and thousands of miles away from my sister, I rely on their emails, phone calls, and texts to give me strength... especially since the divorce.  If it weren't for my family, I would be nothing.

Three things that scare me…
1. Snakes. They’re the devil. I am a firm believer that snakes are the main reason that God invented shotguns. Yep. The only good snake is a dead snake.

2. I hate disappointing others.  While I am quite good at it, I hate the feeling it gives me to see their disappointed faces.  Growing up, my parents used this to their advantage to get me to do chores around the house.  My ex-wife used to use this tactic to get her way.  I have had friends use it to get what they want, to manipulate me, etc.  Thankfully, I have recognized this in myself, and in others, and am able to resist it - sometimes, disappointment is unavoidable.

3. My biggest fear, ever, is to die alone and insignificant.  The older I get (another "how I'm old" phrase...) the more I realize that once we're gone from this planet, there'e nothing left of us except the memory of what we did.  I do not want to be one of those people who just takes up space on the planet for a few decades and then fades away into obscurity.  I want people to know my name (hopefully for something positive...), I want to be remembered by more than just my immediate family.  That's part of the driving force behind becoming an EMT, and now a medic.  A good friend recently told me that I have an unending need to help others regardless of the sacrifice and pain it causes myself.  That sums me up pretty good, actually.  And honestly, since the divorce, the whole "alone" aspect of it has become more prominent.  I live alone, eat alone, vacation alone.  I have gone entire weekends without speaking a single word.  Without that daily connection, both mentally and physically, with another human being, it's very difficult to feel anchored in reality...

Well, there you have it.  Some light-hearted, others a little deeper.  What are your three's?

The heat wave

Last week was MISERABLE.  I don't think it ever dropped below 90 degrees, from Tuesday until yesterday.  Horrible weather to be trying to train for a marathon in... so needless to say, I haven't trained.

Hell has officially ascended to Earth...
I went out this morning, though.  Did a new loop, which utilizes a small nature trail my town has.  It's mostly flat, has wood chips, and runs through some wooded area along a small creek.  It's a nice run, and the woodchips let me run a bit harder than I normally would, which is great for getting the heart started in the mornings.  But this morning, I could tell that it had been five days since I ran.  My lungs weren't the issue, but my legs and especially my right ankle, felt stiff and sore.  Even now, six hours later, my ankle is still a bit sore.  But I will keep on keeping on... not much else I can do.

I just wish this blistering heat would go away... haha

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quick update

This is Carnival week for our small town, which means lots of craziness.  I am on an ambulance or a medic unit every single evening this week... on top of my training, and my normal work-week.  Can we say "exhaustion"? 

My training is coming along nicely... I had to cut Saturday's run short, though.  I was feeling some pain in my leg and my back, and decided it was best to not push it.  I went out again on Monday morning, and felt good, so not sure what that was all about.  And it's nice to see that my endurance is starting to get back to where I want it... that Garmin sure does help in keeping track of information, too!

After yesterday's workout, I made myself a quick smoothie - non-fat yogurt, skim milk, half a banana, some frozen blueberries, frozen spinach, and some chia seeds.

It didn't look very appetizing, but thankfully, it tasted good!  I couldn't find a mug to put it in so I could enjoy while I drove to work, but I had an empty salsa jar sitting there - worked like a charm!

Then it dawned on me, I have about three dozen Mason Jars, of different sizes, just sitting in storage.  Gonna need to dig those out...

Last night, I visited wally world - I know, but it was my last resort.  As I walked through the housewares section, I noticed a few neat looking bowls.  And since they were so cheap (two were $1.50 ea, and two others were $3 ea...) I couldn't resist.  Soon as I get them washed up, I'll start enjoying food out of something a bit more colorful!

That's it for now... stay hydrated, it's hot and humid out there.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Wow, I was just checking my twitter account and realized I hadn't seen any posts from a certain blogger I've been following.  So I searched her name - she's posted a bunch in the past two days.  Yet, none showed up in my twitter feed.  Checked my follow list - not there.  Tried to follow her again, and got an error message...

Now, either Twitter is being stupid (which is quite possible...) OR she blocked me.  Really?  Are we that pathetic?  Maybe I was commenting too many times to her feed, I don't know.  I replied once, as a joke, and maybe she took it serious.  I don't know.

All I can say is -  Get over yourself...

I will stop commenting, stop reading, stop thinking about her... didn't mean to offend anyone, but I guess that just comes naturally for me.

My week...

Well, after last weekend’s adventures to the CIA, I’ve spent a large portion of the little spare time I have this week researching local restaurants that I am considering sending in resumes to. I’m just not real certain how to word the cover letter. I mean, I’m a career-changer, but I’m not committing to changing careers just yet – at least not until I know I am accepted into the CIA, can afford to go, and that everything else has fallen into place. THEN, and only then, I will tell my boss I’m leaving… not a second sooner. But I don’t want a potential restaurant to look at that and throw out my application just because I’m looking for part time work, as opposed to truly becoming a part of the staff.

I actually spent a lot of time on the ambulance and medic units this week… Tuesday was my only day off, and after I went to Borders to look for a book and then got home, it was getting too late to go get groceries for dinner – so Chinese it was! We have a great local Chinese restaurant right around the corner, and once the owners get to know you, they will make your dish to order if you ask. So my sweet and sour chicken had lots of extra stir fry veggies thrown in with it… unfortunately, I didn’t get a pic of it.

I’m becoming a bit down as the week comes to an end. First, I’m tired. It’s been a short work week, but a long week, nonetheless. Finances always make me feel down, and this was “pay the bills” week. And then there’s the mind games my head plays with me… my heart very rarely listens to anything my head tells me… and unfortunately, it’s run amuck this week.

I’ve gotten in a few good runs this week, though, and that’s helped. I always feel so much better on the days I can run. I really need to get my bike fixed and fitted, so I can start cross training with that on off-days, too. There are times I wish I had someone to train with… or that I belonged to a gym, so that I would have some sort of interaction with people. Then I remember that most people don’t like me and it’s safer for everyone if I just keep running solo. Oh well, it is what it is…

Monday, July 4, 2011

CIA Pics

I posted a bunch of pictures from my trip to the CIA on Facebook.  Check them out!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My trip to the CIA

No, not THAT CIA – the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, N.Y.

I should give a quick disclaimer here – this was not my first trip to the CIA.  I had been there once before, back in 2008 when I took a tour of the campus.  So “shock value” was not there this time… however, in 2008, I didn’t really get a chance to randomly walk around campus.

Ok, the trip.  I rode the bike – and when I say bike, I mean my Harley Road King.  If I were talking about my trek, I would’ve called it my cycle.  Just clarifying.  It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day, with barely any clouds in the sky.  In short, perfect bike weather.

My baby... '09 HD Road King.
I had hopes of maybe meeting up with a couple different people I have been following on Twitter… but I am also a realist, and recognize that people are busy, especially with it being a holiday weekend.  Besides, I didn't want to seem like some crazy stalker, so I didn't really telegraph that I was going to be there... just a few Twitter posts.  And as of when I left, nobody had responded… se la vie.

Somewhere in northern Pennsylvania
About five hours and 310 miles later, I arrived – and it was like returning home.  Sure, it’s not my home, never has been, but it felt natural to drive onto campus.  Felt a little unnatural to park under the Anton Plaza, though… but that’s just me.

Anton Plaza, with parking underneath
My first stop was the Colavita Center, home to the Ristorante Caterina de' Medici.  Every time I see this structure, especially with the ordered herb garden stretching behind it, I feel as if I am actually in Italy.  Absolutely gorgeous.
Colavita Center
I checked out the Conrad Hilton Library (pun intended) to see the stacks.  I didn’t stay long, as there were a few students studying and I didn’t want to distract, but I was in heaven.  As you may remember, I have a near-addiction love affair with books.  All those cookbooks, lined up in alphabetical order… yeah, that’s pretty much my version of the Pearly Gates.

Hilton Library from Anton Plaza
I walked down to the Hudson, to see what the view was like.  It was a bit hard to get a clear view from ground level, but from up on the Anton Plaza, my next stop, you could see out nicely.  I love the lavender beds planted in the corners.  I love the water feature shooting water into the air.  And I love how it presents Roth Hall.  Such a fitting entrance into the main building of the CIA.

The Hudson
Roth Hall from the Hudson (sort of...)
Lavender in bloom
The Hudson as seen from Anton Plaza.  I want THAT dorm room - you know, the one that overlooks the Hudson!
Roth Hall
I, of course, walked the halls to look into a few dark kitchen… not the same as when students are working away, but still, it gives a glimpse of what life could be like.

I took a trip up the highway to visit a store I had heard about – Warren Cutlery.  It was like a Bed, Bath and Beyond “kitchen section” smashed into a gutted out house, but man, they had pretty much every kitchen gadget you could ever want, and a few that you didn't even know existed!  Thankfully, I was on the bike... not enough storage room to actually buy anything.

With one last check of the cell / twitter account to see that nobody had responded, and a fresh tank of gas for the bike, I decided it was time to start the five hour trek home.  Everyone must be out enjoying the beautiful day.  Next time…

This trip completely renewed my desire to attend the CIA.  The entire ride home, I kept thinking of how I would word my application essay, where I want to work for my six-month work experience requirement, and how I can take care of the financial setbacks.  But I am freshly optimistic…