Friday, November 28, 2008

What I am thankful for...

Yesterday I was thankful for only three things.

A family that loves and supports me in all things.
Friends who love me and support me in all things.
A husband who loves me, supports me, and is fabulous for so many things.

Okay, that last line probably should have read "for so many reasons" but I was having a moment.

I didn't really have my health (infection in the lobe of my ear... which I'm not going to talk about, some of you may be eating), I had no money, I had no computer, I had no theory chapter, I had no red wine...

The list is endless.

But today life got so much better.

I am typing this from my new mac.

My shiny new Mac.

Shall I show you my new mac?

I haz nu Macs, let me showz yew.


Iz purdy, yes/yes?

Okay enough lolspeak. But I am REALLY HAPPY.

Also adding to the joy and the mayhem is a finger of scotch...

Which I needed before I checked to see....

Did it....

YES! I have my ENTIRE old harddrive. I can't find a single thing missing. Crap loads of iTunes, translations of German articles in progress (which I forgot I hadn't backed up) and MY DISSERTATION.

MY CURRENT DISSERTATION.

Up to the minute, not missing a darn thing. Even has the highlights I put in before turning off my computer on that fateful day (so that I would know what to focus on in the morning... the morning that never came).

There is no way to express the joy.

Especially after the finger of scotch I had in celebration. To keep the first one company you know. I'm now out of scotch and red wine. Sad until you realize that there are two bottles of port, 3 bottles of white wine, and one bottle of cognac in the other room. NO, I am NOT going to go drink them. All. Tonight. Nope. May fetch the cognac though....

I'm supposed to make stir fry tonight. How on earth will I manage the knife? Perhaps I will dance around drunkenly and give direction to my long suffering husband.

I am so happy. *Smile*

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Grumble grumble

One of the horrible things that happens when you move is trying to change all of your mailing addresses. Some are pretty easy to change. The bank, for instance, and your credit card company are very quick to help you change your address. Magazines, not so much, especially if you've just paid for the next year's subscription it seems.

My Archaeology magazine is still being sent to the old address. I tried to change the address on-line but the on-line program couldn't find my subscription and suggested I send an email.

Email 1. Included my membership number as well as the only other number on my mailing sheet which I presumed was my account number.

Reply 1. They needed to know when I subscribed and how.

Email 2. I replied with the information.

Reply 2. They need my subscription account number which is printed on my mailing sheet.

Email 3. Okay, that's already been given in the first email, since all the emails are included in this quickly growing email chain, it is actually still there... but fine. I give the information again. This time I also scan and send my mailing sheet with the email.

Reply 3. Please call us with your subscription details at this not 1-800 number or fax your request to us or go on-line to change your subscription.

I am SO not happy about the customer service I've received. I now have to call America in order to change my stupid address. I wouldn't bother except I just paid for another years worth of magazines and I intend on getting them.

As fun as it is to get this magazine, I am not sure I wish to keep getting it. I hate poor customer service. The emails I've been exchanging with Archaeology all have the proviso *When contacting us please include all the previous emails.* Which I have. Therefore the people receiving these emails should take the time to read them all from the beginning. The first email reply was addressed to the name I had requested be used. The second reply did not. Nor did the woman notice that I'd already given the subscription number to customer service. The third reply was just beyond the pale.

For further assistance on your request, please call at 617-353-9361 Fax #: 617-353-6550 Or
mail you request to
Archaeological Institute Of America
656 Beacon St
Boston, MA 02215
OR visit us at www.archaeological.org

This is not an AIA problem, I've already changed my address with them. They were very nice about the whole thing. I was told by them that I needed to contact the magazine in order to change my address.

And how hard is it to say, "I'm sorry we still can't find your subscription. Would it be possible for you to call us at ###?" Instead I get the automatic response shove off. With the broken structure that appears in the email, I KNOW that was a cut and pasted reply.

Grumble grumble grumble.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Triumph and tragedy

My computer arrived today!! I didn't actually see it, just the box, when I went to pay for it, because I then sent it off to Copenhagen to have my rescued data uploaded to it. But within a week I will be back, hard at work, on my OWN computer at my OWN desk.

Which means I should probably clean up my desk. It is a mountain of research at the moment. The floor, at the moment surprisingly clear, will soon take on the topography of a small mountain range. Ah, scholarship! Who knew that most of the pit-falls and stumbling blocks of dissertating were actually physical rather than mental?

Tragedy struck this week in the death of the washing machine. I'm down to tank tops, mismatched socks and sexy underwear. Sexy underwear? Yes, I have a supply of sexy underwear, the kind that you don't normally wear unless you're going out on a date and are certainly hoping you'll take off later in the evening. Lace is all very well and good, but it chafes so!

Further tragedy ensued due to the poor tips my husband earned this last weekend. I've had to get very creative with the food we have in the house. This resulted in one very horrible meal. I followed the recipe exactly to make curried red cabbage. However, the recipe I chose involved a large amount of vinegar, which NONE of the other recipes required (they wanted me to use olive oil) and I should have followed the recipe pack, as it were. Alas, I ended up with a curried red cabbage that smelled and tasted of bile. It even felt rather like bile (slimy, burns the throat). Thankfully I did do a taste test before serving it to my poor companion in life.

There was retching in the kitchen.

Not only did it smell, taste, and feel like bile, it also resulted in bile.

I was still twitching when I served the curry rice. There wasn't quite enough of it to make a full filling meal, but the Danish Boy was very understanding and appreciative of my efforts.

We were both heartened to discover then that he'd accidentally over-paid his taxi-boss and we got $40 back. That will cover us until my boy gets paid later this week.

So in the end there was more triumph, because this means I can put together a nice meal tomorrow night for our visiting friend and no one will have to suffer curried red cabbage ever again!

Friday, November 14, 2008

I love a good literary quiz!

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
LevelScore
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Moderate
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Low
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

In my defense of the violent circle of hell - I'm very hungry (see post below) and low blood sugar makes me angry. Having read the Inferno, I already figured I was destined for the second circle. Not so surprising result therefore.

I think everyone should know what circle of hell they're headed for, don't you?

Disaster again!

A different kind of disaster - but still...

Ever wonder why there are no husband and wife cooking teams? (Okay, there may be husband and wife cooking teams, but I haven't seen them on TV and we all know that if I haven't seen it on TV it doesn't exist.) This is because the best way to invite strife into your life is to share a kitchen with your spouse. Why reality TV hasn't picked up on this one is beyond me. Probably because one spouse killed the other in the pilot.

I love my husband. He's a great cook. And if he sets foot in my kitchen again while I'm cooking, I may kill him.

Okay, it wasn't as bad as that, but it was highly stressful. For both parties.

Top it all off with a disastrous dish and you have a good idea of how last night went.

Admittedly it was the fault of neither party. We discovered that our oven is dying. It doesn't seem to get hot enough to cook potatoes. Which is a problem when you are trying to make scalloped potatoes. Which tasted great - two hours after I'd put them in the oven, even if they weren't done. If they'd actually cooked, in the hour the recipe said it took, we'd have eaten at a normal hour, two people wouldn't have been stroppy and we wouldn't have gone to bed with stomach aches.

However, the potatoes didn't cook, even after 2 hours in the oven. The cheese on top burned to a crisp. I cried. It was horrible.

As I type I'm trying to reheat (read: finish cooking) the dish. It's been in the oven at 200 C for two hours. I checked it an hour ago. The center wasn't even warm.

If I can just get the darned thing to cook I'll be ecstatic. I'm starving and that's my lunch! And I swear I am not going to bake anything again for a long time. It's now all about the Chinese food - blessed be the wok. As long as that stove top works, I can feed me and mine.

Spread the word

Copy this sentence into your blog if you're in a heterosexual marriage/relationship (or if you think you might be someday), and you don't want it "protected" by the bigots who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Arti chokes two for a dollar at Safeway...

I am not going to write out the joke that goes with that punch line. If you haven't heard someone telling that joke, you don't have the right kind of friends.

But I would like to talk for a moment about the beautiful artichoke and how it is so much easier to cook and eat than I ever imagined.

Yeah, yeah, laugh, but how to cook and eat an artichoke is not knowledge you are born with and if your family is not the artichoke eating breed, you may never learn.

My ex actually taught me some useful things and how to EAT artichokes was one of them.

He wasn't so good with the making of the 'choke, but at least I learned how to eat the darned things.

So a few days ago I saw some artichokes in the store and had what can only be described as an acute craving. Visions of artichokes danced in my head and I found myself drooling. I bought two and brought them home. An offering to the strange little god that lives in my stomach. Demanding little god he is.

You wonder why the god that lives in my stomach is male? Um, this little god sits around all day and wants food. No cooking, no cleaning, just eating. And creating vast amounts of air that results in the prodigious burping ability of yours truly. Does that sound like a female god? I didn't think so.

ANYWAY, I brought home two artichokes and then had to figure out how to cook them. This begins with chopping off the top of the 'choke, which seems useless, except that it allows
1) the artichokes to fit into the pot
2) the steam to weasel its way into the heart of the artichoke

So cut off the top of the stupid thing. You aren't eating the top anyway. You eat the bottom of the leaves. So cut, CUT! About an inch off the top is enough. This is aided by a sharp knife. I had one once and it was lovely, but living in a communal space means my wonderful knifes are packed for safe keeping and I'm using the knives we all use. My next goal is to learn how to sharpen knives without hurting myself. I admit it... I'm terrified of accidentally slicing open my wrist.

The top is now off of the artichoke. There is in the instructions to remove any tough leaves that still have the pointy bit or thorn still attached. This instruction I think meant to remove the thorn, not so much the leaf and my attempt to remove a few leaves from the artichoke ended in... well, not so much failure, as a complete lack of artichoke improvement. So I'd say, ignore this step, other than to snip off any thorns that might poke you. There may be no thorns. Don't worry yourself if you don't see any. And for god's sake, do not waste your time cutting the tops off of all the individual leaves. This has NO practical application other than making things look tidy. You don't eat the pointy ends remember?

Now here is the important part - you *can* boil the artichoke, but this involves having a large pot filled with boiling water. If you want to make more than one artichoke at a time, unless you have a huge pot, this is a problem. And even if you do have a large pot, well, I HATE washing large pots, so I'll go to great lengths to avoid using them. So don't boil the things, steam 'em. Steaming veg is the best way to go. You lose far fewer vitamins this way. Also, you can pile the veg pretty high and the steam will get everywhere.

Steam them for 25-30 minutes.

Did you know you can flavor the steam? Maybe this is why people like to boil artichokes, they think this is the only way to spice them up a bit. But it's not true. Add lemon juice, garlic, a bay leaf, whatever tickles your fancy to the water. The steam will carry that flavor into the 'choke.

Various recipes will then ask you to pull off a leaf to see if it's done, because if it's done, the leaf will pull of easily. This is a good reason you shouldn't be pruning your artichoke too much, you'll end up pulling off leaves to check for doneness and you'll end up with no 'choke! Okay, probably not.

I love to dip in mayonnaise and since I had purchased some the other day for another recipe, I indulged in a bit of mayonnaise gluttony. Possibly too much, my stomach god was a bit put out by the cholesterol.

If you don't know how to eat an artichoke, I refer you to the following web-site with pictures: Simply Recipes.

When I'm not eating exotic (to me) vegetables, I am contemplating the meal I am going to prepare next week. No, not Thanksgiving, we don't have that in Denmark and even if we did, I can not particularly afford the amount of food I'd need to cook to put on a proper spread. A friend is coming over for dinner. I don't usually have to cook for friends or family and certainly not on the limited budget I currently have. It will be interesting to see what I can come up with.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Too busy to think!

Boy a lot of time has gone by since my last post! I've been so busy. I voted, made some major bank transfers (and if you don't think this takes a while, you've never tried to transfer cash internationally, have you), put in a down payment on a new computer, spent a lot of time talking to the data rescue folks, refinishing a floor (stripping, sanding, staining and waxing - three 12 hour days of work), going to a two day conference, going to a free concert, doing the chores of two people for the last two weeks, and spending one day raking up the leaves of two autumns.

I pulled some serious muscles doing that last one. Which is funny since I managed to do the floor with nothing more than some bruises to my knees.

I have also been continuing research, but it's been rather difficult the last two days, since my back has been killing me.

It's starting to mend, except I now have a crick in my neck from sleeping on my back on a heat pad. How typical!

Neck pain, however, is much better than back pain. I'm able to at least sit down now and I'm able to walk a bit faster. I was doing the old lady shuffle last night.

I made a lovely "lamb" roganjosh last night, with beef instead of lamb. I noticed in the store that 50% of the meat was pork, 15% beef, 15% fish, 15% bird (chicken, turkey, duck), 5% lamb. You certainly don't have to worry about getting your hands on "the other white meat" here.

Unfortunately I am not really that big on pork.