Monday, July 31, 2006

Music, Friends, and U-Haul Stupidness

Here's a quick recap of the past couple of days:

Friday Night
To my excitement, Porkchop was able to leave work early Friday evening and accompany me to see the Ditty Bops at the Mad Art Gallery (tickets courtesy of Soozi). Porkchop is glad that she did, as she found someone new on whom to develop a crush. Check out the Ditty Bops website and see if you can guess which band member it is (hint: Porkchop has something in common with said band member).

Unbeknownst to me, the Gallery puts out fold-up chairs for concerts. So, my strategy of arriving stylishly late during the opener backfired as we had to stand by the wall. But it worked out, and we still enjoyed the show.

It was great to see so many locals turn out to support a not-too-well-known band that is touring the country via bicycle. The show was pretty fun with the Ditty Bops crew dressed to match the former function of the Mad Art Gallery (it's in an old police station!). Here's a pic from the DB website:

Ditty Bops in Jail (photo taken from their web site)

And, here's a photo of me wearing my new DB t-shirt (this is the first concert t-shirt I've purchased since Le Tigre played Madison in 2001):

Me and my Ditty Bops T

After being distracted Saturday morning by dirty dishes and yoga, I left for Columbia to help K&B with packing and moving. At one point during the afternoon, I stated that my visit was not a social visit; but, in reality, I did lots of socializing while packing their dish- and glassware. I was impressed with the progress that they had made with packing and discarding unneeded items; there really wasn't that much to do.

Mid-afternoon, U-Haul called to report that they did not know when or where K&B could pick up their truck on Sunday. This and a bubble-wrap-buying excursion led to plans to dismantle the U-Haul operation. We are all in agreement that U-Haul is evil. Very evil. [See Porkchop's Livejournal May archives for reports of our most recent U-Haul troubles.]

After B and I had dinner at Main Squeeze (K opted to avoid her public and requested take-out), we prepared ourselves for K&B's second goodbye party. The first one was for the general public, while the second one was for the select few. Such an exclusive party could only be had at the Arch and Column, the finest gay bar on the business loop.

Besides strong, cheap drinks, the A and C also serves up karaoke on Saturday nights, a treat of which many at the party partook. B heated things up with Pour Some Sugar on Me and K (Miss Kitty to the A and C crowd) delivered a thrilling rendition of Hotel California to much applause. I watched and enjoyed meeting some of K&B's "new friends."

No longer used to turning in after 2 am, I slept in Sunday morning, finally dragging myself off the futon around 10:45. In order to have some much-needed tea, I had to wait for K to finish her coffee; when I finished my tea, I washed the cup so that K&B could share more coffee. You see, while packing the dishware, I forgot to take into our account our cup/mug needs. Oops.

By the way, K did a terrific job using up various perishables by making an egg scramble with spinach, cheddar cheese, and various heirloom tomatoes, served on sundried tomato bread. Yum! I helped by using up the rest of their pesto. Oh, and we had a perfectly ripe mango on the side.

After lunch, it was back to packing and cleaning. I accompanied B on some errands, including picking up their 17-foot U-Haul. We arrived at the perfect time: 4 people in line when we arrived, 20 when we left. Ugh!

K&B lucked out by receiving a fairly new truck with bucket seats instead of that stupid bench seat. Alas, however, their truck is tinged with racism. You know how the U-Haul trucks feature different states? Well, they have Montana, complete with a contemplative portrait of an idealized Sacajawea, along with some crap about "why did she mysteriously disappear after the Lewis and Clark expedition?"


A little bit after bringing the truck in, I had to cut out. So, I missed all of the folks who promised to stop by Sunday afternoon. K described it as being like a wake. Murrrr....K&B are so well-established in the Columbia queer community and well-liked by all (well, all of the sane people, anyway), I'm sure people will reminisce about them for years to come.

But, onward! It is time for Chicago and the many opportunities and fun times to be had there! Yay!!

On my way into St. Louis, I stopped at Trader Joe's and picked up a random mish-mash of items. Hey, who knew TJ had such good sushi? Their spicy California rolls are very yum (or maybe I was just super-hungry). While traversing the aisles, I rolled my cart over a brick of cheese! I didn't know what to wasn't my cheese....and now it was squashed. So I just left it there.

Things to Come
Things I'm looking forward to:

  • Porkchop is off Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday! Craziness!!

  • I'll finally get my massage on Saturday.

  • Downtown Restaurant Week is approaching. Twenty-two restaurants will be serving 3 courses for $25. We're going to try An American Place, where the focus is on farmers market produce, regional items, and artisanal products, for a terrific bargain price!

  • I came across this terrific blog today. I'm pumped to learn that there's an anarchist bakery nearby, an urban organic farm where I can volunteer, and so many socially conscious young folks in our area.

An Accomplishment
I'm working on getting through my third workday without visiting the "cappuccino" machine on the second floor. A while back, I developed a nasty habit of making a "chococcino" every day. But now I've gone cold turkey.

How am I doing this, you might ask. When I get the urge, I just picture all of the 50-syllable chemical compounds that comprise the drink sitting in my body or making my cells mutate. Gross.

Hey, if I can break my coffee habit, I can do this.

Craft P.S.
I know I'm not holding up well to the Needles portion of my blog. But I just have to finish a scarf, and then I will move onto more creative, more fun projects. I promise.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Unexpected Delights

Yesterday, I wrote about how Porkchop and I would be dining at Niche last night. Oh my goodness....hang on to your hats! It was the best meal I've had in a restaurant in a long time! Much better than Terrene because everything was spot-on: food, service, prices, beverages, location, ambiance....all wonderful!

Niche is located in Benton Park on Sidney Street; the storefront is tucked cozily between houses and a storage-company-turned-loft-space. All of the houses are the usual cute-brick-house-with-fun-roof variety of that neighborhood. Niche's storefront is all windows and quite inviting.

Walk into Niche, and you feel welcome. Nothing stuffy or pretentious, nothing too lavish or over-the-top. Just a nicely appointed European-style row restaurant.

Everyone was super-nice and attentive, even though we certainly didn't look like top-dollar customers. The hostess was quick on the water refills and offered friendly conversation. Same thing with our server; very quick, but not pretentious or intrusive in any way.

The Three-Course Deal
Niche's sales gimmick is 3 courses for $30. Pick a small plate, an entrée, and a dessert.

It's definitely worth it. We did the 3 course deal and ordered an appetizer.

From Niche's splendid selection of "things to gnosh on," we chose the cheese plate. So glad we did; my eyes lit up once the server said Saint André. Oh, triple cream cheese, how I love you. {If you've never had Saint André cheese before, what are you waiting for??!}

The cheese plate came with a huge slab of cheese (especially considering how much Saint André costs), some toasted baguette pieces, a bit of spiced mixed nuts, sliced strawberries, and bit of apricot preserves. YUM!

Everything about the cheese plate was great: portion, selection, and presentation. Porkchop and I agree that the cheese plate was our favorite thing (sounds funny, perhaps, but it was so nice). Also, note that when I first asked Porkchop what her favorite thing was, she picked the mixed nuts. Yeah, that's how good Niche is....they could skimp on something as small as the mixed nuts, but they don't.

Small Plates
For this course, I chose the crab, which was served in a carved-out piece of watermelon with a stripe of saffron aioli. You might be skeptical of this combination, but it was quite tasty.

Porkchop went with the green beans. The beans were a mix of green and yellow, served on a base of orange tomatoes and topped with chevre, toasted almonds, and a basil vinaigrette. Yum! The vinaigrette was nice and discreet, yet really brought out the beans' flavors. I'm not a big fan of chevre (I always feel like I'm eating something from a dusty, musty attic), but just a tad rounded out the dish.

And did I mention presentation of these dishes? Both were served on an appropriately shaped dish and perfectly arranged. I felt bad knocking the clover sprouts off my watermelon dish, but I had to get to the crab.

Again, everything was a winner. I chose the roasted fileted trout and was quite thrilled. I'm not sure exactly how it was prepared, but it was perfect. Not overdone or overspiced at all. The fish (a whole fish with head attached, mind you) came with a side of roasted green and yellow beans, pearl onions, and apricots. Yum!

For her entrée, Porkchop selected the braised pork loin, which came with roasted potatoes, corn, and mushrooms. Sounds simple, right? Yet the flavor which burst forth with each bite of pork was magnificent! And the potatoes, corn, and mushrooms....simple, yet so well executed! Yumyumyum! Porkchop even ate some of her mushrooms, and she is not a mushroom person.

This was the hardest decision of all, and we had to make it at the beginning of the meal. Luckily, I was thrilled with my selection: the Peach Buckle. This was somewhat like a peach cobbler, but the topping was more cake-y than cobbler-y. I'm not a fan of super-sweet desserts (I'd rather experience simple flavors), so this was perfect for me. The topping was flavorful, but not too sweet; the peaches hadn't been oversugared during preparation, so their sweet-tart flavor came through. Oh, and all of this was topped off with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream (so I had the whole, hot-cold thing going on).


Porkchop's dessert was also very good: a creme brulée-style vanilla panna cotta with strawberry sorbet. "Creme brulée-style" meant that the panna cotta was topped with a pretty caramelized sugar doo-dad. Porkchop loved the strawberry was quite tasty. If you order this dessert, Porkchop recommends eating a bite of panna cotta immediately followed by a bite of sorbet. Porkchop's dessert won the presentation award in this round, as it was served on a square plate along with a stripe of caramel and strawberry slices. Beautiful.

Niche has an extensive wine list with some reasonable by-the-bottle prices. The by-the-glass selection is much, much smaller, yet acceptable. The Big House White was the perfect compliment to my meal.

Before dessert, Porkchop ordered hot tea. From the leather-bound tea chest, she chose the rooibus tea. All the teas looked great; they were all Mighty Leaf teas. Evidently, I need to hot-foot it over to Whole Foods and check out their Mighty Leaf selection (unless you know of another close store that carries it).

All in All
We couldn't have been more satisfied.

We left full of good things and made it to Suzi's softball game at Carondelet Park. Luckily, we were able to lie down on a hill, enabling us to watch the game while aiding our digestion.

Sigh, what a good evening.

This Weekend
I'm going to catch the Ditty Bops tonight - yay! This weekend, I'm traveling to Columbia to lend my cleaning/packing assistance to my favorite ladies. Sad to see them move, but excited for trips to Chicago. Yay!

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Beware of the Stuffed Potatoes

Oh my, yesterday, Porkchop and I invited Soozi over for dinner, and I wanted to have samosas for appetizers. Not homemade samosas, we didn't have that much time. Just some good ol' frozen samosas. So, off we went to Jay International Foods (JIF); who, unfortunately, failed us. We did, however, settle on some veggie stuffed potatoes.

Ever smelled horse-piss-soaked hay? That's kind of what the potato things smelled like when cooked. And they tasted just as disgusting. Ugh, shudder.

We were able to make a comeback with the main dish: Chicken Curry with Cashews. Yum! I always mean to add raisins when I make this dish, and I always forget...maybe next time. This recipe could be converted easily to vegetarian by substituting tofu and/or whatever veggies you want for the chicken (I think you would also need to add veggie broth, since the chicken releases its own juices as it cooks).

At JIF, we finally purchased a jar of curry powder that should hold us for a few months. Those little spice containers just don't cut it. I also picked up some Chinese tea cakes; the ingredient list is illegible, but I'm pretty sure it's a yellow mung bean pastry. Next time I go to JIF, I'm going to pick up some of the purple yam pastries....because that just sounds crazy. The other crazy thing is that most of the pastries are made at Betty's Cake Center....I just don't expect yellow mung bean pastries to come from an establishment with that name. Betty's Cake Center makes me think of a 70-year-old white woman cooking devil's food cake.

I've also found another Asian grocery to try for red bean ice cream: Central Trading Company (on Olive near 170). Ever been there?

After dinner, Porkchop, Soozi, and I went to Van Goghz for yummy drinks. I had the Dutch Chocolate Latté and Pineapple Upside Cake - both very enjoyable. Going for drinks was part of celebrating Soozi's new job! Yay for getting to use your skills and degree, and for being compensated well for them!

Speaking of Jobs
I'm so freaking bored at mine. I think my brain is shrinking here.

Something to Look Forward
Porkchop and I are dining at Niche tonight. Afterwards, we're going to catch Soozi's softball game at Carondelet Park. Yay!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More Good Things

Last night, I received my previously mentioned haircut. It's shorter than it's been in a while (yes, I know most of you wouldn't be able to discern the difference in my hair length, but I am quite attuned to it), and I like it. It's a joy to not feel hair on my forehead (or anywhere else on my head, really).

In case you can't tell, I'm not a big fan of hair...not because I've been brainwashed by the patriarchy to believe that the prepubescent hairlessness of females is preferable, but because dead cell matter hanging from my head grosses me out. It's fine on others....I just don't want it on me.

After the cutting of the hair, Soozi and I met at Café Natasha for Persian cuisine. The food was more than acceptable (especially the falafel and pistachio-saffron-rose-water ice cream), but the service was horrendous. We were out in plain sight, but our server was doubling as bartender and apparently couldn't handle both tasks.

At the end of the meal, after waiting +15 minutes for a sign of recognition, we practically had to lasso a server with our lariats before someone realized that we were done.

The best part of the meal: Soozi surprised me with 2 tickets to the Ditty Bops concert! YayYayYay!!! I'm so excited to have an event to attend.

After dinner and more apartment-straightening (it was really messy because of the power outage....who wants to clean a hot apartment?), I did yoga. It felt good.

Porkchop is off today and tomorrow....super-yay!!! Even though I can't enjoy the days with her, at least we'll have more time to hang out in the evening.

Did you notice how I was able to make the é in Café? Dude, Intro to HTML is totally paying off.

Afternoon Update
You know you're dissatisfied with your current responsibilities when you get excited by helping someone fix some Word files. I just explained how to insert regular width pages into the middle of a columnar document while maintaining necessary formatting of both sections, and I loved it. And, to boot, I got to lecture about the dangers of sending out documents to customers in which track changes/comments have been used extensively.

I did, however, resist the urge to correct the scientist's period spacing. It drives me nutty to see someone use two spaces after a period. Yep, that's what happens when you've been a technical writer for a while.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Good Things

To put an end to my various complaints about the recent power outage here (which still sucks for around 150,000 folks, including a few co-workers), I decided to list some good things that have happened recently (or will happen):

  • Our landlord left us another bag of cherry tomatoes. And, this time, he included some full-size ones. Yummy!

  • I'm starting to re-stock our refrigerator.

  • I have a hair cut appointment tonight. Always a good thing.

  • I just made a massage appointment for this Saturday, using my birthday gift card. Saturday won't come fast enough!

  • The Ditty Bops play this Friday at the Mad Art Gallery, and there's a slow food event Saturday night at the same place. I'll try to go to at least one.

  • I got to sit in on a meeting yesterday and offer technical writing tips to a few scientists.

  • The work day is nearly over. Yay!

This isn't really a good or bad thing, but just an amusing anecdote (well, it's probably only amusing to me). Yesterday, while running my daily job search, I came across a position for a report writer at a local health care facility. This is amusing because they want someone who knows how to use a reporting application for which I wrote the original documentation! This amuses me and makes me feel bad because that documentation wasn't the best stuff I ever wrote. Knowing that health care facilities don't "go live" on a version until at least a year after its release, the poor suckers probably have the crappiest, roughest documentation for the application (and an equally crappy version of the application...ooooohhhh, maybe I shouldn't disclose the bugginess that was allowed to be released).

Have a good Tuesday afternoon!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

If You're Not Cranky.... have power.

Things I want to do, but can't:

  • Clean the apartment.

  • Apply to jobs. The necessary Adobe files are on our plug-in computer; unfortunately, I need to modify the files for these latest positions.

  • Cook a meal and have leftovers.

  • Sleep comfortably in our bed, awaking refreshed in the morning.

  • Not sweat just from walking around the apartment.

  • Not be pissed off.

The good news: only around 5,500 in our neighborhood are without power, down from over 11,000. The bad news: we're one of them, of course.

What is most infuriating is that people just four houses down have power. Gah!

When I logged into my Ameren account, the info page merely stated: You don't have power. NO SHIT! Wow! I had no idea. What about a timeline for when it will be fixed? Also, on my Ameren account page, it stated that our power had been out since Saturday, July 22. Uh, no....try Wednesday, July 19.

Luckily, Mokabe's is open and serving food.

I will now take my bitterness off-line.

Monday Morning Update
Rejoice! Rejoice!

Our power came back on last night at 12:30. YayYayYay!!!

We were so excited, we had to get up and do things. And then I couldn't get back to sleep because I was worried we would be cut off again. But we weren't! Awesome!

This means that this is the last day that I buy lunch from my office's cafeteria. And the last day that I go without my morning soy milk.

I am so excited, kids, so excited.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

How I Love those Happy, Gay Games

Since I'm just hanging out at my parents' electrified house this weekend, I thought it might be time to write about my trip to the Gay Games in Chicago. As you know, Porkchop was playing ice hockey with the Mad City Blades. I won't keep you in suspense...they didn't make it to the medals round. But fun was still had by all. And, hey, with the Gay Games philosophy of "personal best" and participant medals (which are pretty darn nice) for all, everyone is a winner. Yeah, yeah, that usually sounds like a bunch of saccharine crap, but I actually believed it at the Gay Games.

Porkchop and I awoke bright and early and left for Chi-town (okay, I hate it when people refer to Chicago that way, but I had to do it once). After a couple of stops and just a bit of traffic-y mess, we stopped at the Hilton so that Porkchop could pick up her credentials. I waited around and checked out the official merchandise. After Porkchop returned with her athlete badge and lanyard, we bought a GG ice hockey shirt and picked up her participant medal. Yeah, medals before even playing a game! That's the sort of event I like.

We eventually made our way to the team's hotel in Skokie and met up with K & E. Who knew Holidomes still existed?? They do in Skokie. Awesome!

After much discussion, the team (plus tagalongs like K and me) convened and caravaned to the Howard Street subway stop. We then made the hour-long ride to the closest stop to Soldier Field, where the opening ceremony was held. From there, we just followed the gay masses. That's right, it was one big freakin' gay pride parade to Soldier Field.

Porkchop and E went to line up with the other Wisconsin people while K and I waited for the gates to open. It was a long, boring, waterless wait. I knew I should've taken the free water from the gay Christians!

In case you're wondering, there were a few protestors outside Soldier Field. I don't know what the point was, really. Do they expect us to think, "Wow, they're right....I'm leading a filthy, disgusting life....From here on out, I'm taking the train to straight town." I followed my usual strategy of ignoring them....after all, they feed on any sort of attention.

The opening ceremony was rather poorly coordinated and underwhelming. The best part by far was the athlete procession. I swear half of California was represented. As host city, Chicago marched in last....over 2,000 athletes!! Crazy! I relished the fact that countries like Algeria, Botswana, and Uganda were represented by athletes. I was, however, a bit perplexed that Puerto Rico was included with the US. Yeah, they're a protectorate, but were I a Puerto Rican athlete, I would be freaking pissed off. Kudos to the Marshall Islands guy who insisted on marching in under his own flag.

So, with the opening ceremony, I expected something that was all happy-times with dancing sailors, drag queens, and fireworks. We had fireworks, but first we had to suffer through Act I: Exclusion and Act II: Oppression. By the time we got to Acts III and IV (Expression and Celebration, I think), I wanted to throw myself off the stadium. Enough!

In a nutshell, the opening ceremony organizers obviously wanted to be as inclusive as possible and somewhat political, but it came at the cost of underemphasizing the queer athletes and what the games are actually about. They were just trying to do too many things at once. The political rally/interpretive dance performance/concert/comedy show/AIDS awareness/opening ceremony was just too much.

I do, however, want to state that Staceyanne Chin is amazing. Go see her if you get the chance.

Here's a pic of the end of the athlete procession. So many people!
Opening Ceremony

There weren't a lot of free events on Sunday, but Porkchop and I entertained ourselves. First, we caught some swimming (and peeks of some...ahem, nicely built gay men) at the University of Chicago natatorium. Then, we went to the cheer sport performance at Millenium Park.

When we first got to the park, I was in a horribly foul mood because of the heat. Here's a pic of me looking totally pissed off:
Me at Millenium Park

But after watching a few rifle drills, cheer routines, and flag corps performances, I was in high spirits. Something about cheer sports brings tears to my and Porkchop's eyes. Everyone was awesome, especially the cheer team from San Francisco. They did a lot of fine, fancy work during their stunt routine. Here's how happy Porkchop was after watching the San Fran team:
Porkchop at Cheer Sport

After our afternoon of frolicking, Porkchop had to rest a bit before her first ice hockey game. The rink's ice totally sucked because it was so warm out. Besides the heat, I don't think the rink was very well equipped. I've been to other rinks during the hot summer, and the ice doesn't necessarily have to be slush.

The Mad City Blades were able to pull out a goal during the third period, ending at 2-1. It was a fast, well-played game by all, but of course we were hoping for a victory. Here's a pic of Porkchop playing center:
Porkchop Hockey

The most awesome part of the game was how many spectators were in the stands. Yay! I even got caught up in the excitement and clapped and cheered the whole game. It helped that I was standing by E's family, who turned out in droves with custom sweatshirts and a big sign. Yay for big Greek families!!

I had heard from my friend J that another old acquaintance, S, might be playing flag football with the Utah team. So, Porkchop and I did some research and determined that, if S was playing, she must be playing with the Salt Lake City men's team, the Utah Avalanche. We made our way to the flag football fields (near the University of Chicago), and Porkchop spotted someone with pink hair playing flag football. Yes! It was S! Here's a pic of the Utah (in purple) and San Diego teams facing off (or whatever it's called) - you can kind of make out S:
Gay Flag Football

K & E came with us, and we all enjoyed hearing the sideline conversations, especially when the LA Flames were preparing for their game. Lines like, "Steve, could you help me roll up my sleeves," and "Man, you're so tight [said while one helped a teammate stretch]" made us giggle and appreciate the Gay Games so much.

I love gay flag football. The homoeroticism, the flag belts, the spandex...

I was able to say a quick hello to S during halftime and chat for a bit afterwards. It's difficult to catch up on 6 years in 10 minutes; I wish I could've had time to talk more with S and her girlfriend, but I had to leave the next day. Murrrrrr! But here's a nice pic of us:
Sally and Me

After flag football, we returned to the Hilton and bought some sport pins at the merch store. To show my newfound loves, I bought a cheerleading pin and a flag football pin (in addition to ice hockey and swimming). We also hit the Gay Games store on Belmont with K, but we found it lacking and kind of crappy.

Finally, Porkchop and I headed out to Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights. It took a while because of traffic and because I said, "Instead of the interstates, we could take these other roads." Yeah, you know how that goes in Chicago. Maps are deceiving.

But the trip was so worth it. Within a half hour, I had: drunk parts of a mango smoothie and a watermelon smoothie, obtained a new Pooh character for my cell phone (a seagull this time, to replace my broken alligator), eaten red bean ice cream, bought sushi for later, and picked up some fun food items (including a red bean cake and a green tea-flavored soy milk). Porkchop and I are jealous of people who can go to Mitsuwa on a regular basis. My new mission in St. Louis: find a Japanese grocery store where I can buy a gallon of red bean ice cream.

After Mitsuwa, Porkchop and I crashed at the hotel. Exhausted, yet satisfied.

On my last day at the Gay Games, the weather cooperated by giving us much cooler temperatures and a lovely breeze. This and watching a soccer game in Oak Park made for a perfect morning. Madison's Thunder Kittens totally dominated the other team, but it was still a lot of fun to watch (especially from the shaded bleachers).

After the game, we went with K & E to check out the Frank Lloyd Wright stuff around Oak Park. Wow...there are some really nice houses in that area! After a surprisingly good Mexican lunch, we parted ways from K & E. And I, unfortunately, had to part ways from Porkchop.

Yep, it was time to catch my ride back to St. Louis. I will not go into details here, but I had a hellish time arranging my ride back. Let's just say that I had to suffer from some major passive-aggressive energy directed at me for no reason. If you want details, ask; I'll bore you with a two-hour long story.

The Blades
So, the Mad City Blades went on to play 3 more winless games. It's not that they suck, it's just that they were in a higher division than they should have been. Through a registration misunderstanding, they were put into the open division instead of the recreational division. Ah well, I think they still enjoyed it.

Other Things
I heard from Porkchop an hour ago....still no power. That sucks.

Anyway, the next Gay Games will be in Cologne, Germany, in 2010. Who's going?? I'm totally up for it. I mean, I already love gay German ladies, so....what could be more perfect?

Friday, July 21, 2006

More Angry Rumblings

When I checked Ameren's power outage spreadsheet this morning, only 405,000 were without. Now, according to the spreadsheet updated around 11:30 this morning, over 450,000 are without electricity.

Why must the number go down and then up? I understand a variable of a few hundred, maybe a thousand, but 45,000....that's unacceptable!

While I'm irritated and cranky by the lack of electricity, wouldn't it suck so much more to have it restored and then taken away?

What Shall We Do Now?
Last night, Porkchop and I slept out on the deck. It was still terribly hot until a cool breeze picked up around 4 a.m.

This weekend, I was so looking forward to attending the Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park, but now I'm planning a trip to my parents' down in Arkansas. I'll take Keetah with me, but Porkchop will have to figure out some arrangements (maybe with Soozi's assistance).

The Eerie Quiet
The Post-Dispatch has characterized our neighborhood as "eerily quiet" after the storm. Come on, the silence is not so strange or's too freaking hot to do anything!! If it were cooler, we'd riot for sure.

But, seriously, what does the newspaper expect? That mobs will break into the corner flower shop or take down the sushi bar? Oh wait, maybe they expect us to hit the local pawn shop...I know I've had my eye on that lovely circa-1988 Prince tennis racquet in the window.

I wonder if the suburbs without power are called "eerily quiet"?

Right now, I am harboring jealousy-bordering-on-hatred for anyone who:

  • Has power.

  • Has a generator.

  • Is able to take off work for an indefinite amount of time to find an air conditioned refuge.

  • Says to me, "well, couldn't you at least plug in a fan?" NO!! We don't have power!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Just One Among a Half Million

According to the latest count, there are approximately 476,000 of us still without power in St. Louis. Have no idea what I'm talking about here? Check out the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Last night, I rode out a mother of a storm with Soozi and RambeL. Yes, quite literally rode it out as we were driving through a lot of it. These are things I had never seen in person before last night:

  • Traffic signs spinning in the ground. You know how, during hurricane coverages, they usually show a road sign of some sort flipping around because of the wind? Yeah, I had never seen that in person before.

  • Billboards ripped out of brick buildings.

  • Lightning that travels horizontally instead of vertically.

  • Lightning that travels up towards the sky.

  • Also, I've never been only 15 feet away from a sphere of lightning before. That's scary.

  • After waiting out scary parts of the storm at RambeL's, Soozi dropped me off at my apartment. I made a few phone calls, read a bit, and then remembered my bottle of moscato d'asti in the fridge. Not wanting it to go to waste, I drank a good portion of it and then went to bed. Sleep was quick in coming, but I kept waking up because of the heat (yeah, the storm cooled things down some, but still, humid air is quite unpleasant).

    The neighborhood is a huge mess, but it could be a lot worse. Fortunately, we only have a few big branches down in the backyard. And, luckily, we don't have a land line, because our phone would be out for sure. I just hope our cable connection is secure. Not that it matters now, what with no power and all.

    I'm really worried about the power. According to the Post-Dispatch, whenever power outages have affected around 250,000, it has taken 4-5 days to get it back on to everyone. WTF??? How long will it take with double the number?

    Well, there are my storm complaints. Once I have time and electricity, I will write my big Gay Games post.

    If you're in St. Louis, take care. If you're not in St. Louis...well, enjoy your electricity.

    Afternoon Update

    I went home at noon to check on Keetah, and we still don't have power. Not that I thought we would, but I was hoping really hard. I also went home to close the window by our computer, in case the forecast of thunderstorms and hail proves true.

    On the way home, I drove by things that we saw last night. Nothing has been cleared or picked up yet. The brick building with the uprooted billboard now has a yellow police line around the fallen bricks, but that's all that's been done.

    I don't want to say that this is worse than the tornado in Iowa City, but the damage is definitely much more widespread, and a heck of a lot more people are affected. And it's summer! We need our air conditioning here!

    After reading more stories and seeing more pictures on the Post-Dispatch's website, I will now say it: This is much, much worse than the tornado in Iowa City! At least people weren't electrocuted from downed power lines in IC!

    Friday, July 14, 2006

    "Rose, I'm Feeling Older..."

    Reason for the title...I can't get the new Camera Obscura songs out of my head!! Why must the catchy tunes haunt me so??

    A mish-mash of songs kept floating through my head Wednesday night as I tried to get lots of rest for Thursday, which I knew would be super-long. Yesterday started with me arriving at work a little after 7:30 (well, I guess it actually started with me finally falling asleep at 2 am), and it didn't stop until after 11:00 last night.

    There were fifty million meetings here yesterday, so I was dealing with technical difficulties and catering mix-ups the whole day. One meeting went without any snags. One. The systems here are only 5 or 6 years old; one would think things could last a little longer.

    Other issues arose at work, too, but who wants to hear about such boring things? Unfortunately, boring is all I've got to report.

    After the workday that wouldn't end, I went home for a half hour nap and dinner, and then I was off to my Intro to HTML class. Although I know various tags and stuff like that, I don't know how to do fancy things, or how it all really works. I know more now, and I think the pace of the class will step up in our next (and last) session. The class is the first step towards earning my web page design certificate through UMSL. Yay, coding is fun!

    After class, Porkchop and I went to Mokabe's for ice cream snacks. I could have gone to bed right away, but I needed some time to unwind a bit. After devouring a Dad's oatmeal cookie shake/concrete thing and talking to Porkchop, I finally turned in.

    This morning, I felt delightful with my nearly 7 hours of sleep, but the executive assistant just told me that I looked "crushed." Thanks. I didn't feel that bad, but now I do.

    Porkchop and I leave for Chicago early Saturday morning. Yay, Gay Games!

    I recently found out that an old acquaintance is playing flag football for the Utah team. Don't know if we'll get to see her. I'm only staying until Tuesday, then I catch a ride back to STL with one of Porkchop's park buddies. And then, then I get to drive the Porkchop-mobile around town for a few days. So, if you see someone sweating profusely while driving a green convertible with cardboard for a back window, that's me.

    Have a nice Friday!

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    So Many Things to Say

    Oh my, the past few days have been very, very busy. I'll start with....

    Thursday Evening
    After arriving home from work (on a side-note, I had an interview Thursday morning...maybe something will come of it), I was greeted by Porkchop, Soozi, and Keetah, of course. And a birthday card from my parents. And 3 birthday cards addressed to other people! Until she checked the names, Porkchop thought I was so popular.

    Soozi stayed while I opened a present from Keetah (our cat, if you don't know), which turned out to be 3 yummy dark chocolate bars! Yay! After Soozi left, Porkchop decided I should go ahead and open the rest of presents. My goodies included: a nice leather and silk passport wallet; the latest Camera Obscura CD and some additional CO items; Kung Fu Hustle on DVD (love that movie for some reason); some personalized Walt Disney World pins (yeah, you probably know I abhor WDW, but Porkchop loves it, and I recently agreed to go with her this year, so she's outfitting me); a lot (as in auction lot) of vintage state plates (yay! our kitchen will look stunning with the additional plates); and an unofficial gift certificate for the Little Birds Etsy shop (maybe you've read my previous post about how difficult it is to snag an item - we'll have to be persistent and quick). Oh, I also received a caricature of Dwight from NBC's The Office, and the greatest little card that Porkchop airbrushed at work.


    After present-opening, Porkchop and I hurried around to pick up my parents and get to Terrene. I wish I had time to write a full-on review, but I don't, so here's the skinny:

    Small Plates I highly recommend the tofu on a stick - although the tofu was fried, it was surprisingly light. The accompanying cashew dipping sauce was the best thing ever - I could have drunk it. We also had sauteed shrimp with falafel and something else - it was good, but not as good as the tofu.

    Large Plates I can only speak for my dish here, which was the porkchop accompanied by brandied bing cherries, a melting blue cheese (can't remember the name), and an almond quinoa pilaf. The chop was good, and I liked the combination of cherries and cheese, but the quinoa really stole the show. Plus, after having the tofu on a stick, I wished I had ordered a tofu main dish. Porkchop (the person) and I agreed that the large plates were underwhelming. Good, but not great.

    Desserts Terrene has its own pastry chef, and you can tell. Porkchop and I shared the marscapone flan, which was topped with a caramel sauce and served with mango. You know that a dessert must be outstanding if Porkchop talks about it later; since she reminisced about the flan while brushing her teeth that night, you know it was yum, yum, yum. My parents had ice cream for dessert: five assorted scoops of strawberry poppyseed, chocolate walnut, and tahitian vanilla. Also very good. We also had a bonus third dessert: some sort of blueberry crumble or cobbler (but I'm sure the description used neither of those two words). All of our desserts were on the house because we waited 20 minutes for them. This brings us to...

    Service Totally blew. I know my dad can be annoying with his constant requests for more coffee, but come on. You can't ignore a table for a half hour chunk of time. And you should really have someone who checks everyone's water regularly. Porkchop and I had to ask twice (once a reminder request) for water. Not cool. Also, and now I'm being nitpicky, our server tried to act super pretentious while reciting the specials, but kept on flubbing the lines. If you're going to put on attitude, make sure you can carry it.

    The End Result We'd definitely go back to Terrene for dessert and a drink, but not a full-on dinner.

    Porkchop had to work on Friday, as did I. So, my parents got to rest during the day (they're older and my mom can get really tired). That evening, we ate at Pestalozzi Place (no website). Yum! I totally prefer Pestalozzi Place to Terrene - super reasonable prices, yummy food, and terrific service.

    My parents and I shared a small dish of butternut squash ravioli topped with a mole sauce and pumpkin seeds. The mole sauce used a nice bittersweet cocoa that went perfectly with the ravioli. There were so many things on the menu that I wanted to try, but I wasn't very hungry, so I went with the open-face egg, tomato, and shrimp sandwich surrounded by a dill sauce. Yum. My mom had a stuffed chicken breast that was wonderfully moist and tender and cheesy.

    For dessert, we shared the chocolate volcano cake, which was topped with a red wine sauce and served with espresso ice cream. My dad suggested the dessert, and I was skeptical at first because I'm not a big chocolate cake fan. Fortunately, it was a flourless chocolate cake, so it was like eating partially cooked brownie batter. Yum! And the ice cream had very nice espresso notes in it.

    I can't wait to go back to Pestalozzi Place. I know some reviews have complained about the service, but I found no fault with it.

    After dinner, I drove my parents around the city, showing them the arch, Soulard, and all the mansions around Compton Heights.

    Saturday was a killer day - full of fun activities, but very exhausting. We started with a tour of the Fox Theatre, which my parents enjoyed immensely. The only bad thing was that we didn't get to hear the Mighty Wurlitzer because of set up for that night's concert. We only got to hear the lobby organ, but it was fun enough.

    After the nearly two hour tour, we stopped at Nadoz Cafe for a light lunch. My dad and I ordered the same crepe - one with turkey, apple chutney, and dried cranberries. We all shared two tarts: one fruit and one dark chocolate. Nadoz is a great place to know about, as there aren't many restaurants on that part of Grand. Service wasn't so great, but I don't expect much from a primarily counter-service place. And, after all, all the food was quite good.

    After lunch, we stopped by the Cathedral Basilica to see the 83,000 square feet of mosaics. Unfortunately, a wedding was taking place, so we only got to see a very small portion of the mosaics. We did, however, see the chair that the previous Pope used during his visit to St. Louis in 1999. We also some other random Catholic things in the mosaic museum.

    Next, we pushed on to the History Museum to see the traveling Ben Franklin exhibit. I totally hadn't planned on this stop, but my parents were excited to hear that the exhibit was currently in St. Louis. Porkchop and I had thought about going, but we were put off by the $12 admission to the exhibit. Now, thanks to my parents, I'm a member of the museum. The $55 dollar membership included 4 tickets to the exhibit and a nice looking book about St. Louis sports. Porkchop is excited about the book, and now she has a ticket to the exhibit (I can buy another one for half off).

    For Saturday dinner, my parents and I just went to Mangia. My salmon in a coconut curry sauce was delicious, but for some reason, the visit wasn't as great as when I went before. Maybe because I'd been to a lot of other restaurants in a short amount of time. Also, my dad kept complaining about the silverware because it was so cheap and thin.

    Sunday Morning
    After our full Saturday, my mom wasn't feeling too hot. They came over, and Porkchop and I brought back bagels and pastries from St. Louis Bread. After a quick breakfast and some visiting, they had to leave. Even though we didn't make it to the botanical garden, there's always next time.

    Sunday Afternoon
    With our afternoon free, Porkchop and I met her younger brother and his family at the St. Louis Zoo. The zoo here is free and very well done. In addition to the usual monkey, bird, and insect houses, it also has a penguin house! Yay, penguins! Also, yay for freezing temperatures! The zoo was hot and crowded, and we were there for 6 hours. Oh, the exhaustion!

    Once we arrived at the zoo, I realized that I should have brought a hat with me - my scalp was burning after just a few minutes! So, I had to be one of those people and buy a hat at the zoo. Porkchop bought one, too, to keep me company. However, while I had to buy a boring, functional hat, Porkchop purchased a little kid hat, which she wore in a dashing manner. See the picture below.

    After a brief respite after the zoo, Porkchop and I went to her brother's hotel room for more visiting, sitting by the pool to watch the kids swim, and things of that nature.

    Came much too quickly. I somehow dragged through the day, which seemed to be the longest ever at the time, but today is proving stiff competition.

    Other Things
    I found two events that I want to attend later in July: the Ditty Bops and a slow food event, both of which will take place at the Mad Art Gallery. I suspect Porkchop works these nights. Anyone else want to go??

    The latest Knitty is out! Yay! I see some classy hard warmers to make! Also, Yarn Boy has a fun little hat pattern for hairless people. If I still shaved my head, I'd definitely make it.

    That's all for now. Have a good day!

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Being 28

    I open these tonight. After dinner at Terrene and visiting my mom and dad, who arrive tonight for a weekend visit.

    I received one present earlier today from Porkchop: a 90-minute massage gift card for Urban Breath.

    So far, being 28 seems alright.

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    My CoMo Visit

    Yesterday morning, I excitedly set out for Columbia to visit K&B and J. The visit started off well with an excellent brunch/lunch. K&B made their always-delicious breakfast potatoes and an egg scramble with avocado, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and goat cheese. Additionally, we juiced beets, carrots, oranges, and ginger - my favorite juice combination! Yay!

    K&B also gave me a very lovely necklace (from Poppy) that is the perfect length for v- and slit-neck shirts. I'll have to get my act together and post a picture of it.

    The afternoon was full of futon-shopping; admiring K's new (and first) tat; listening to K's report of the NWSA conference; visiting BP (who has things posted on Etsy; see the No She Didn't link of the side bar); enjoying a fudge brownie concrete from Shakey's, er, Shake's (K was brilliant enough to ask them for extra fudge brownie, so I was happy); having arts & crafts time, for which J joined us; and talking. Before I left, we had another excellent meal. B loves the potato, and she knows her to make a mean garlic mashed potato....mmmmmm. We also had corn on the cob, grilled seitan, and a lettuce and tomato salad with goat cheese.

    Sigh, I didn't want to leave so soon, but I had to get back to STL. It was a great little visit...the only thing lacking was more cuddle time!

    Although K&B move to Chicago soon, I'm glad to be closer to Columbia. I definitely look forward to visiting J again and these other places:

    Main Squeeze. Best vegetarian place I've ever been to.
    Ragtag Cinema. The indie movies, the hipsters, the memories.
    Uprise Bakery (no website). Yummy potato knishes, sandwiches, soups, and baked items.

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    I Hope that was the Third One

    Folks say bad things come in threes, right? With me, it's usually just a slew of bad things with indiscriminate numbering. This time, I hope the three rule, well, rules.

    The First One
    Between applying to a job and working on one of my school papers (I have two papers with extensions), I decided to finish knitting my hat. Things went smoothly, except for the POORLY WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS!


    This isn't the first time I've had problems with a pattern in Modular Knits. Ha! I feel justified now - if you follow the link I put in to Amazon, you'll see that another knitter commented on the errata found in every pattern. That is unacceptable!!

    And I thought the author was just on crack.

    Errata aside, when a knitter has two stitch holders going, is knitting short rows, and has placeholders coming out her eyes, you can't write something like, "Knit until there are 10 stitches." 10 stitches where?? In your ass? Because that's where I wanted to shove the stupid hat!

    I could write better instructions with my pinky toe.

    Ah well, I finished said hat, and the top looks alright. I don't have 6 equilateral triangles, but I do have a nice swirly triangle thing going on.

    I did not, however, get to start on finishing my school paper.

    The Second One
    It's climbing to nearly 100 degrees, and our central air is on the fritz. I noticed the rising temperature last night, when I couldn't cool off before going to bed. Porkchop suggested I was just feverish from ovulating. Maybe I ovulated, maybe I didn't, but I do know it was 85 inside this morning.

    Today was the first day I was glad to go to work, where I usually shiver in a sweater.

    Our landlord has received a phone call.

    The Third One
    I got into my car this morning and found the contents of my armrest - some old bags of toll change (now just dirty pennies left), an air pressure gauge, and a travel clock - scattered about on the passenger side seat.

    Someone had been in my car.

    Nothing was taken. Luckily, they apparently didn't want the Hawaiian music CD that my mom insisted on burning for me. Nor did they want the grocery bag of trash that was in the back seat.

    I always lock my car with my remote so that the security alarm is enabled. Maybe I was in a hurry and didn't check to make sure that it actually locked.

    It still makes me feel a bit creeped out. I'll definitely park in our garage from now on. The garage just isn't as convenient as the street because you have to drive through the alley and hope no one is coming from the opposite direction.

    At least no one threw up in my car or broke anything. Among other break-ins that our friend S experienced in Madison, a guy once broke in to sleep in her car. He left behind a fair amount of vomit.

    Some Good Things
    Our landlord will try his best to fix the central air today. He's at least putting in a window unit in the bedroom.

    I'm going to visit K&B and J tomorrow in Columbia (if the air isn't fixed tonight, I might move my departure time up). J and I caught up in an hour-long phone call Saturday night. Afterwards, I realized that we've been friends for nearly 9 years. Crazy!

    A woman here at work just gave me an official company-logoed polo shirt. You see, regular employees here get to spend $100/year on logoed gear. When this employee found out that I'm just a temp and don't get that option, she offered me something from the clothing order that she was placing. I politely refused, saying things like, "Oh no, I couldn't" (when I was really thinking, "I would rather wear a trash bag than a logoed item"). But she still decided to give me one. I appreciate the gesture. Even though I didn't really want a logoed shirt, it's a nice thought.

    On that note, I'm trying to maintain a positive outlook on the day. I mean, come one, half of the employees are gone, it's nice and cool here, and I have a logoed polo shirt that I could slip on. How could things get any better?

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    Tomatoes: the Good and the Bad

    After Porkchop left for the park this morning, I headed out to the Soulard Farmer's Market, where I picked up tomatoes, peaches, beets, and a cantaloupe. The market was fine, except it wasn't what I expected, or maybe I should say, wanted. I wanted Madison's farmer's market. Instead, I got a cross between Detroit's farmer's market (which is pretty cool) and the flea markets outside of Naples, Florida (not so cool). I didn't expect flip flops, bing cherries, bananas, or shrimp....obviously, none of which is locally produced.

    I know, I'm picky about my farmer's markets. I was also put into a bad mood because a 12-year-old picked out the tomatoes I decided to purchase. He was working at his family's stand and didn't realize that I wanted to pick out my own tomatoes, darn it. And I was too passive aggressive to say anything.

    After being called "babydoll" by the peach lady, I left and decided, Screw these tomatoes, I'm going to check out the Tower Grove farmer's market. Amanda and I went a few weeks ago and were a little disappointed in the lack of selection. Well, I'm happy to report it has blossomed a bit more. There is definitely more selection, or maybe I was just glad to see local organic produce.

    I ended up buying a box of little Roma tomatoes and a single heirloom. Here's a picture of all my tomatoes - the ones in the back two rows are the 12-year-old's selections....I think I'll use those to make a soup (doesn't chilled tomato soup sound really good right now?). {Also, I apologize for more poor quality pics. Seriously, I need to go to picture-taking school or something. They look okay small - just don't enlarge them, okay?}

    Oh, and the best thing about the Tower Grove market is the recently added crepe stand! Yay! To celebrate my tomatoes, I had a savory crepe with pesto, mozzarella, and tomatoes. Even though the crepe was a bit burnt in places, it was still super-good. As I ate it, I watched the kids and adults play in the wading/fountain area of the park. Nice.

    After dropping my produce at home, I decided to head to an Italian grocery on the Hill to pick up pine nuts, olive oil, and bread. For pine nuts and olive oil, I went to DiGregorio's. Oh my, I spent $20 on olive oil! I didn't want a $4 bottle, and there wasn't much in the $10-$20 range. Wow, they even had a $60 was like being in a wine shop. I also spied a $25 bottle of balsamic vinegar that I might have to go back for. Before she moved out of Madison, our pal Val gave us some balsamic vinegar that she picked up in Italy...after having it, I can't eat the cheap stuff, and we ran out of it a little while ago.

    Next, I went to Vitale's Bakery (sorry, no website to be found) for fresh baked bread. I also picked up a little container of spumoni gelato, which I'll share with Porkchop tonight. Oh my, I'll have to make my way back to Vitale's many cookies, biscotti, and good looking treats.

    Also, I don't want to sound like an out-of-towner, but I want to go to Milo's Bocce Garden. I've never played bocce before, and when there's an Italian-American Bocce Club near you, I think you should.

    After doing all of my food things today, I went to Hartford Coffee Company, hoping to catch some knitters, which I did. There were 3 other ladies knitting (summer time is bad for knitting circles, I fear), who were quite pleasant. Oddly enough, a summer-intern-reporter at the Post-Dispatch also stopped by to interview young knitters for some sort of human-interest story she's doing. So, maybe in a couple of weeks, I'll be quoted in the Post-Dispatch!

    Well, there's basil to be harvested and pesto to be made. Have a good night!

    Craft Horror

    I haven't looked at You Knit What?? since we moved here. So, when I wandered over there this morning, I was elated to be rewarded with a couple of great knitting crimes. You must look at the posts for June 27 and 30, especially the 27.

    Sweet Jesus! Who thinks up knitted items like that??

    In other knitting news, I've reached a stopping point with my scarf. I've now moved on to the hat, and if I have yarn leftover from that, I'll make the scarf a little bit longer.

    Also, I'm going to try my best to make it to a knitting circle today. Well, I hope that there's a knitting circle, anyway. I found some information about a knitting group that was posted last fall. You know how these loosely formed things sometimes disintegrate.

    Okay, this isn't a real post, I just had to write a little something about crafty things.