serenissima: hummingbird resting in my hand (trust)
If you happen to be in the New York City area on Wednesday, June 2, there's a choral music concert that evening to benefit a singer who has throat cancer and needs funds for treatment. I don't know the man, but he's a friend of my old schoolmate. I'm sure the music will be wonderful. Concert details here; you can also just donate directly.
serenissima: little red dragon (imagination)
Sort of a note to self: I'm looking at IMDb's Summer Movie Guide. I'm interested in seeing (at some point — probably on DVD given our current limitations)...

Iron Man 2
Letters to Juliet
Just Wright
The Sorceror's Apprentice
Dinner for Schmucks

and maybe...
The Losers
Robin Hood
Prince of Persia (but maybe I should play the game first?)
Salt (why did they make Angelina Jolie blond? it looks so fake)

But the guide doesn't include everything out there. We're already missing The Book of Eli and How to Train Your Dragon. From a few minutes of browsing Yahoo! Movies, I'm also curious about...
Sons of Sakhnin United (and I missed Invictus)
John Rabe
The Good Heart
My Name Is Khan
Princess Ka'iulani
The Secret of Kells
Waking Sleeping Beauty

Pop medley

Apr. 22nd, 2010 07:48 pm
serenissima: Eastern screech owl (observer)
[ profile] gregstoll recently posted a link to a YouTube video of a comedy group demonstrating how lots of songs use the same four chords. It's similar to the Pachelbel rant (which you can reach from the first video), but more impressive in its execution.

Since I watched the clip a couple days ago, snatches of songs from the performance have been running through my head, along with Pachelbel's Canon in D as well as some other songs that seem to fit right in. "Happy Birthday" works, and so does the Coca-Cola jingle ("Can't beat the real thing").

For comparison, I also watched my favorite mashup, "Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Seven Nation Army," which link I got a long time ago, from [ profile] daisho if I recall correctly (apologies if it was someone else). The two songs in the mashup do not work with the four-chord medley, to my ear.

What is going on here? What do all those pop songs have in common harmonically? Are they all in the key of D major, or did some of them have to be transposed? Is it that the four chords correspond to an arpeggio, and we interpret the combination as pleasingly complete? Why don't the other two songs blend in — is it because they're in minor key? Would someone who's had some music composition training care to hazard an explanation?
serenissima: hummingbird resting in my hand (trust)
I am looking at a website called The Happiness Project.

There is a book associated with the website. I am on the cusp of buying it, but, as a commenter on Amazon noted, many books have similar messages to share, and besides, we can read the blog for free.

But I don't have similar books myself, and going to a library is a hassle, as going out of the house at all is a hassle. And I'm wondering if I should spend less time websurfing, certainly not more, although activities I can do while sitting in a chair with one arm pinned are few.

serenissima: close-up of dog's face (Mungo closeup)
Mungo is doing fine. In fact, I wasn't going to make an update for him this month, as there's not much to tell. His seasonal shed seems to have tapered off, thank goodness. He has started marking almost like a normal dog — I say almost because at least once I've seen him lift his leg against a tree and nothing came out, and then he put his leg down and leaned forward to empty his bladder in the way he has done previously. Not trying to be crude, but he still has his quirks.

There's a dog park about ten minutes' drive from our house that he enjoys visiting. He doesn't necessarily play with other dogs there. He does sometimes, but he seems to like just sniffing around the large enclosure even more. We've also taken him to "doggy day care" at a popular kennel, but we aren't sure how much he likes that, since he always acts scared when we drop him off with the staff, and we don't stick around to watch how he behaves when released into the enclosure. The kennel was recommended to us by staff at the vet clinic, and I'm sure they take proper care of the animals, but I suspect he's simply happier in our company any time.

What really prompted me to make this post was an article in this month's electronic newsletter from the microchip company. It talked about how black dogs often get passed over at shelters. The day we adopted Mungo, one of the shelter staff there remarked on this same tendency. I did a Google search just now and turned up more links than I expected: here's a whole website devoted to getting dark-colored dogs adopted, and here's a recent New York Times opinion piece defining "black dog syndrome." Apparently, despite not being documented in any statistical study, it has been noticed by a lot of people, and it applies to black cats, too.

Any acquisition of a pet should of course be thought through very carefully, but if you are planning to adopt an animal, please consider getting a dark-colored one, or at least don't rule them out!
serenissima: (Cooking Master Boy)
Been meaning to post something cooking-related for quite some time now, hence this very long post.

I came across this suggestion several weeks ago: pureed frozen banana as an ice cream substitute. I figured mashed banana would be lower in carbohydrates than the equivalent amount of ice cream, plus it's definitely fat free. So I tried it. I wouldn't call the texture creamy exactly, but it's pleasantly smooth. It tastes like banana, of course. I think it might be good with a little cinnamon mixed in, or maybe chocolate chips, although then you start to take away from the "healthy" aspect. The downside for me is that a whole banana counts as 2 carbohydrate choices, and half a banana looks even smaller pureed than left intact. It really doesn't go very far. I expect I'll enjoy this more when my dietary restrictions are lifted; meanwhile, I've found that Edy's Slow-Churned and Bryer's Double-Churned are options for me if I have just half a cup.

We received a mini food processor last year as a wedding gift, but I only tried it out recently. I used it to mash the aforementioned banana; otherwise I've used it mainly for mincing garlic and ginger. I was impressed by the speed with which it renders a thumb-length piece of fresh ginger root into tiny bits. What would take me several minutes with a sharp chef's knife and chopping board takes it about ten seconds of "whiz-whiz-whiz." However, when I'm cooking with ginger, I'm nearly always also cooking with garlic, and fresh garlic is sticky, and it's a little more involved to wash off the food processor assembly than to wash off a knife and chopping board. So, whether I choose to use the machine or the knife depends partly on the amounts I'm working with and partly on my mood.

actual cooking )


Sep. 16th, 2009 01:15 pm
serenissima: (Default)
I've been a bit groggy since last weekend, when we stayed up til midnight Saturday night.

On Monday night we saw a bat coming to the hummingbird feeder. Or rather, I saw a flying thing, about finch-sized, that repeatedly approached from below. It was too fast for me to get a good look, but [ profile] aristeros identified it as a bat. At first he thought it was hunting bugs attracted by the back door light, but it turns out nectar-feeding bats sometimes visit hummingbird feeders in this region during this season. Check out these photos, which I would never be able to match without better equipment and practice.

This week we may find out what will happen to us next year — where we move next and so on — so we are a little anxious.

We finally received our missing armchair and CDs yesterday.

On the house-tidying arena, I've found two thrift shops and at least one of them had Gladware for sale, so I expect to be able to donate most anything I care to.

I'm making another attempt at crocheting an afghan. With the boucle yarn, it was just too hard to count stitches, so I gave up on any pattern that requires me to make rows all the way across. I'm making granny squares instead, for the first time, with much better success. So far I have two and a half squares. I think I have 186 to go. I may not finish by the new year, but I will try.   :)
serenissima: banded sphinx moth (beauty/nature)
When I exited the house this morning to begin walking the dog, I was excited to find a sphinx moth or hawk moth taking breakfast from the lobelias or whatever those red flowers are in our back yard border.

I can see how these insects would be mistaken for hummingbirds. The size and general body shape are about the same, they hover to feed rather than perching, and their wings move so fast they're a blur. The eyes looked small, not like huge bug eyes, although that may just have been some kind of weird pale and dark color pattern. I had to watch for several seconds to assure myself that it was not in fact a hummingbird, but the antennae and the fact that it curled its proboscis when it paused feeding were giveaways. I could kind of see the pattern on the wings, striped forewings and pinkish hindwings, and I think it may have been the same kind of moth that I noticed on the outside wall of our hotel at the last place, right before we moved:
Moth (picture taken with crappy phone camera)

After staring for a minute, I moved toward the door to get a camera from inside, but the moth flew away. Still, that was a cool way to start the day!

About the hummingbirds: they've been at the feeder all morning. At one point, one was perched and feeding while a second one chased away a third. There has been much squabbling. An angry hummingbird is one of the funnier, and cuter, animals I've witnessed.
serenissima: (Default)
We just watched the G.I. Joe movie.
It was flashier but stupider than last year's "Eagle Eye."
[ profile] aristeros apologized for taking me to see it, but really it was about what I expected.
serenissima: (Default)
Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature
"Men have had to conquer foreign lands, win battles and wars, compose symphonies, author books, write sonnets, paint cathedral ceilings, make scientific discoveries, play in rock bands, and write new computer software in order to impress women so that they will agree to have sex with them."

A very "selfish genes" explanation of many behavioral phenomena. I think this article oversimplifies human behavior a great deal, but it makes some interesting points.
serenissima: (Cooking Master Boy)
I think this was the first thing I cooked here in the new house on our good cookware. It was such a relief to have my giant 14" stir-fry pan again.

What I did )

At any rate, I was pleased with how the dish tasted, and [ profile] aristeros loved it, so I'll be making this again.
serenissima: (Default)
Last Saturday we drove up to the nearest big city, and did boring stuff. )

After a morning of shopping and delicious lunch, we decided we were tired and didn't really feel like touring a cavern. So we headed home. The dog probably would have been distraught if we'd stayed out all day anyway.

There are a surprising number of Asian restaurants in this little town. They're all small establishments and in general not much for atmosphere and decor, but at the three we've been to so far, the food was decent. This week, we have tried out another local Asian restaurant, registered myself and the dog for our respective medical care, picked up a few household items and looked without success for flypaper. We have a lot of flies in the house, but neither the supermarket nor the discount store sells flypaper; they only have sticky traps for mice, not flies, and roach poison and insecticide sprays. Does no one want the product anymore? We bought a spray, but I may cobble something together out of duct tape and cardboard.

We finally got a call from the truck driver carrying our worldly goods, who told us he expects to reach our house next Tuesday. Meanwhile, having little else to do, we both got sucked into a couple of Facebook games, in particular Mafia Wars. Time spent playing will likely taper off once we get into a real routine.
serenissima: woman's face with glasses (real life)
Yeah... we're not leaving this moonbase quite so soon as we thought, and not for the destinations we thought. We're camping out in the house, sans most furniture/clothing/cookware, for maybe an extra month. Then we move to another desert location. At least we'll be together. And we have our mattress, and some borrowed things, and I really haven't been cooking lately anyway.

Since there's so little stuff around, Mungo can't get into much mischief, but this morning we found that during the night he had collected three rolls of packing tape and hoarded them in his crate. The most used-up roll bore definite signs of having been chewed.

We had a pleasantly busy Memorial Day weekend. Saturday afternoon we brought the dog for a puppy playdate. The dogs romped while the humans chatted.

On Sunday, we went with other friends to visit some rock formations about 45 min. east of town. The shape of the rocks is such that there's water in there most of the year, making the place something of an oasis, and they have prehistoric pictographs on them as well as graffiti from the 19th and 20th centuries. The area has natural beauty anyway, but the cultural additions make it even more interesting. Then, for lunch, we went to a steakhouse we'd been told about since we arrived in this city, which has its own on-site petting zoo.

Monday we watched the new Terminator movie, which was mostly about chase scenes and fight scenes — good entertainment. (Sam Worthington is better looking than Christian Bale, IMO. However, if he's playing an American character, he needs to maintain an American accent; or, what's probably easier, the writers should make his character Australian, since it's a new character anyway!) The cyborg premise is handled poorly towards the end, but somehow I found less to pick at in this movie than in Star Trek. Later in the afternoon, we attended a barbecue, although I enjoyed the baked potatoes and bread pudding more than the meat.
serenissima: (Default)
Last night we went out to see the new Star Trek movie with a couple of friends. I was entertained and enjoyed the movie, but I didn't think it was a great movie. I liked Generations better. I think that was the last Star Trek movie I watched. To be fair, I've hardly seen any of the original series or the movies with the original cast. I've seen some The Next Generation episodes and a few of Deep Space Nine, and that's all.

One complaint I have is that I don't like the Bettie Page-style bangs on Spock... but checking Google Image Search, I guess he's always had that kind of hair cut. I also thought that Kirk was, on the whole, a rather unsympathetic character. Sulu was cool, though.

Spoilerish complaints, in the order in which I think of them:

complaints )
serenissima: (Default)
Someone else's user icon reminded me about this Flash game:
Die Anstalt — Psychiatric Clinic for Abused Cuddly Toys
The link actually takes you to the website of the toy company that makes these plush toys. The Flash game provides a bit of backstory about the toys.

I played this game a few years ago, and I found it pretty engaging for a casual web browser-based game. The premise is that the toys are mentally ill due to abuse by previous owners, and your job is to be their therapist and cure them. Here's a review of the game.
serenissima: (Cooking Master Boy)
Ever since I noticed that the commissary carries oxtails, I've thought about cooking kare-kare, a stew that I enjoyed at my aunt & uncle's house. This week I finally tried it.

As usual when I'm attempting a dish for the first time, I searched for recipes on the Internet. I looked at somewhere around half a dozen recipes. They all had these ingredients in common: oxtails, bok choy, long beans, eggplant, and peanut butter. I'm accustomed to tripe also being an ingredient, but it didn't come up as often as I expected — which is fine with me, I won't touch organ meats. Also, the stew is traditionally thickened with powdered roasted rice, but I was surprised to see how many recipes omitted this. My uncle uses crisp rice cereal (e.g. Rice Krispies) pulverized either in a food processor or by hand in a plastic bag. Here's a little background information on kare-kare, with a recipe.

And here's the recipe I chose to work from. Developed by a Filipino-American man, it has a simplified list of ingredients and, most importantly, does not involve simmering the oxtails on the stove for a long time. Instead, they go into a slow cooker. I ♥ my slow cooker.

Here is how it went. )
serenissima: woman's face with glasses (real life)
I just took an accounting exam, and the teacher asked us to note down what model of financial calculator we use.

I use a TI-36 Solar scientific calculator that I got for 7th grade.

It occurred to me that I may have classmates who are younger than my calculator.
serenissima: Eastern screech owl (observer)
For my marketing class, I've been assigned to watch the commercials aired during the Super Bowl this Sunday. I don't subscribe to cable, and broadcast reception is very poor, so I have to watch them on the net. I've found a few "sneak previews" on I've also found Any other websites I should check out for this purpose?