Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spaced Out

Don't you just LOVE satellite photos of space? Does your heart leap in your chest when NASA publishes it's Image of the Day -- a satellite image of a different place on Earth -- on it's Earth Observatory website? Are you anxiously searching for huge photos and slide shows of weather and volcanic eruptions seen from space?

No? Is that just me?

Well, even if your heart remains calm when faced with gorgeous space images, you should still follow this guy on Twitter.

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi (Twitter name: Astro_Soichi) takes a photo every couple of hours out of a portal window on the International Space Station and posts them on Twitpic.

He's just using a little point-and-shoot but when your subject is THE ENTIRE EARTH, it's kind of difficult for every photo not to come out absolutely amazing -- spy satellite quality, even.


"Mt. Fuji, JAPAN. On the morning of my 100th day on orbit :-)"
-- Soichi Noguchi

Monday, March 29, 2010

EXtreme Coffee Pouring


As I was perusing the internet on my lunch break with my afternoon cup of coffee, I came across this story about a cup of coffee from the Washington Post that struck me as wild.

The story is framed around an owl-tattooed, former Army nurse turned owl-tattooed, coffee barista who sometimes competes, sometimes judges a "latte art throwdown" at the Baked & Wired in Georgetown. The competitions for cash-and-beer prizes are described as "guerrilla-style... go head-to-head at the espresso machine" to make beautiful and delight flowery and leaf milk patterns on top of a cup of coffee.

And this isn't a D.C. thing. Apparently there are "Latte Throwdowns" from coast-to-coast.

Who knew there was a "coffee scene" outside of the enormous lines of dozing strangers at Starbucks. People standing on the side lines cheering on two contenders at dueling espresso machines, like watching an egg-on-the-spoon race or a game of flip cup.

This cracked me up (from the article)... "It really gives coffee professionals that 'nerd time,' for lack of a better term," said one coffee shop patron. "Yet it can be a totally non-elitist thing."

Non-elitist? Ha! Not so unlike the wine snobs, liquor snobs, food snobs and snobs of other luxury goods, certainly the coffee snobs have a secret nose-in-the-air society and a distinct French roast air about them. Good to know they're a welcoming bunch.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Randoms

I came across a bunch of fun links today, all too short to turn into full posts. Plus these links do the talking for me.

A school in England has been called "The Worst School Ever" for faking a teacher being shot to death in front of dozens of young students. I have to say I don't disagree. Someone is definitely getting fired over this. Or sued.

It's not always fun to get the scoop. As if the health care debockle wasn't complicated enough, Politico and The Atlantic published blogs on "an iffy memo" about health care that was supposedly a secret draft document from some office in the Democratic leadership in Congress. It was a hoax. Well done.

SIDE NOTE: Does anyone else think of balloon boy when they hear or read the word 'hoax,' or am I alone on that one?

Bad photo-op for Pelosi, especially since the Republicans are painting the health care bill town red with her name.

Lingerie football league players were chastised and put on probation for wearing TOO MUCH clothing. Come on, you've got to be true to the game, right?

How to make maps look beautiful and artsy (Allie, this link is for you).

Facebook is just for fun. Twitter is short lived. So head hunters are turning to LinkedIn to see if you're serious about your career.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Office Scandal

The latest office scandal up for debate...

We found this message scrawled on a PLEASE CLEAN YOUR DISHES message taped to the office refrigerator...



From the coworker who started it all: 'Our office kitchen's response to dirty dishes: "Every time you don't rinse a dish, God kills a kitten!" Who wrote this!?!?!?'

This has led to a fiery burst of comments from coworkers back and forth.

My contribution was I thought the kitten looked like Darth Vader. "I find your lack of faith (in making sure the dishes are clean) disturbing."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Play-by-Play

Live play-by-play action of my actions during the (4)Maryland vs. (5)Michigan State game yesterday.

Disclaimer: We were fairly certain if the Terps could triumph in this game, they could go to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2002 when we won the national championship.

SUNDAY, MARCH 21
2:18 pm: Return from a huge lunch at a local Greek place full of gyro and spanakopita.

2:30 pm: I grab one recliner, boyfriend gets the other. Flip on the game.

2:41 pm: Score 2-4 Michigan. Terps can't get a rebound and Vasquez misses his first 3. Yawn.

2:43 pm: Yawn, stretch, "I wonder if we'll..."

2:44 pm: Snooooooozzzzzzzeeeee... MmMmMm nap, nap, nap, nap...

3:30 pm: "Wha, wha?" "Oo0oh, you're wake again? Nice of you to join us."

HALF TIME, score: 39-48 Michigan. "Oh great, glad I missed so much."

3:55 pm: Game's back on. Second half.

4:18 pm: Score 51-67 Michigan. Terps can't get a rebound and Vasquez misses some free throws. Yawn. Pick up magazine, thumb through it. Boyfriend has the hoodie on his sweat shirt over his eyes.

4:33 pm-4:43 pm: Hey, we made one. Hey, they missed one. We made one. They missed one...

4:47 pm: Score 73-80 Michigan. Vasquez makes a two point jumper.

4:49 pm: Score 79-80. I'm out of my chair now. Boyfriend has been out of his chair for the past 10 minutes. Pacing. Yes.. yes... go... go.. ALL RIGHT!

4:50 pm: Score 81-80 Maryland up for the first time in the second half. GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO. 0:39 to play. Michigan calls a time out. "YEAH YOU BETTER CALL A TIME OUT!"

4:51 pm: NO! YES! NO! NO! YES! GOOD! YES!!!! They make a two point jumper. We make a two point jumper. Score 83-82 Maryland. We got this, we got this, we got this!!!

4:51 pm: Michigan has the ball, 3 seconds to play, dribbles, we got this, we got this, Michigan's Draymond Green launches it from almost half court.

Time freezes.

No effing way.

4:51 pm: BERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

4:51 pm: Michigan makes 3-point bucket. Woosh. Final score: 83-85 Michigan wins.

4:55 pm: Pick our mouths up off the floor. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?! WHA WHAT WHA!?!?!?! ARE YOU... ARE YOU.. ARE YOU KIDDING? ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME!?!?

4:56 pm: Super ego stops id from punching a hole in the wall just in the knick of time.

MONDAY, MARCH 23
8:02 am: Still depressed.

10:48 am: Caught up on all the Facebook discussions "ugh... lame... sad..."

9:55 pm: Sigh. Next year.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Luck o' the Irish

I had more than one person tell me I was so noble for coming back to work from my mini-vacation on St. Patrick's Day. But that didn't stop Tad and I from celebrating.

After spending a long weekend in Brooklyn for my brother's birthday (post about that to come later), Tad and I could have easily stayed at home last night and not regretted it. However, it wasn't just any Wednesday, it was St. Patrick's Day so we felt we should toast our heritages at least once.

Heading down to our neighborhood Irish pub house, we were surprised to find a long line out the door at 7:30 p.m., even more surprised at home many couples with young children were ahead of us.
Inside, we easily weaseled our way to seats at the bar, despite the crowds and ordered up some green beers -- which turned out to be Miller Lite with green food coloring, what a gyp, but at least we knew what to expect.

And hey, it was green :)

It's funny when the green beer and Irish car bombs are flowing and the excellent live music is playing the sort of fellow bar patrons you end up talking to. We talked to two guys from Ireland, one who said he moved to the U.S. when he was 6 months old, and one who moved here four years ago from Dublin for a contractor gig at the Pentagon. We even got into a light-hearted argument with a guy wearing a green Boston Red Sox shirt over whether or not the Yankees sucked more.

All in good drinking...


The one that made the most impression on me was the wounded veteran sitting at the bar next to us. He could have been older than 30.

As we're waiting for our second round and the live band in the corner started up again with The Eagles' "Take It Easy," I looked over and noticed the guy sitting next to me had hearing aids. Then I saw him hand his army ID to the bartender. After talking to him a little, turns out he lost his ability to hear in one ear while serving in Afghanistan and then lost hearing in the other ear while serving in Iraq. He just got out of Walter Reed this week fitted with the hearing aids and he told us it was the first time he had been able to hear his own voice in months. I don't remember how many rounds we end us buying for him, but I definitely know we thanked him for serving many times over.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Soup's On

I didn't mean to turn this into a food blog, but alas this is where the typing has taken me.

I've been on a real soup kick this winter season, making soup that is. Maybe it's the harsh winter we've had or my very strange way of needing to be busy, but soup has become a staple on my dinner table almost every other week. Onion soup, potato and leak soup, zucchini and smoked Gouda soup (oh yeah, so incredibly divine), the ever classic beef stew... just something about eating soup not from a can that's so comforting.

I think it's also the feeling of accomplishment in trying something new, combined with making food with the purpose if sharing that has appealed to me. I had an acupuncturist tell me once that she could tell from the way my kidneys felt that I liked to feed and care for people. Come to think of it, that sort of weirded me out.

Anyway.

Thanks to my Soup Bible (gift from mom), my warm liquid food cravings have been satisfied. No really, that's what it's called...
There's one soup I've been stuck on for a few rounds because it's tasty and so, so good for you (lots of vitamins!). It's is a roasted red bell pepper soup, and while it looks complicated, it's very easy to make.

First, cut the red peppers in half and clean them of seeds, stem and any other insides (you can also throw in yellow or orange bell peppers with this, it'll alter the sweetness a bit. I use only red because they have the most vitamins out of all the bell peppers).Place on a cookie sheet on some foil (peppers will ooze a little so this gives you easy clean up) and stick under the brolier on high. The time varies based on how new your oven is, but for my oven it took about 15 minutes. Just keep an eye on them until the skin looks like this...When they're black, stick them in a food storage bag lying side-by-side, seal the bag, and let them cool. The moisture building up in the bag will make the skin peal easier. Doing this makes the peppers tastes more sweet and less bitter.While they cool, chop a small yellow onion, stick it in a sauce pan covered in vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and leave it there for about 5 minutes then take off the heat (this differs from the book. I find if you leave it on the burner, the onions can burn).When the peppers have cooled, take out of the bag and peel off as much of the skin as you can. Doesn't have to be perfect, but the more you can peel off, the more velvetly the soup will taste. At least get all the burnt bits off.Chop the peppers, add to the onion, cover with more veggie stock. Bring to a boil and let sit for 5 minutes.Now the fun part, using a food processor or a blender, blend everying in the pot. I usually leave mine a little chunky. Add in herbs, whatever you want. I add Italian seasoning, bascially.
When blended, pour in bowls and serve with a dolup of sour cream. The book recommends plain yogurt, but I'm not a fan. Delicious!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Coffee Break

My mom forwarded this to me. I always wonder where people come up with this stuff. It's a portrait of the Mona Lisa made out of cups of coffee -- not even sponsored by Starbucks!

Thanks, Mom!




The 3,604 cups of coffee were each filled with different amounts of milk to create the different shades.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Founding Farmers

Everyone enjoys a good meal, but I have a few friends who pride themselves on being picky eaters and one in particular who is an absolutely delightful food snob.

Using her advanced palette, she can detect when the shrimp on her salad has been previously frozen then thawed. She can tell when the "gourmet" pizza crust was made fresh that day or shipped in last week. Even when vegetables in stir fry are organic or not.

So imagine my excitement when she first told me about Founding Farmers in D.C. and how their food was some of the best eats she's ever had.

An American cuisine restaurant -- obvious when one of their most prized dishes is fried chicken and waffles -- located across the street from the Mexican embassy, the idea behind Founding Farmers is to work with and purchase from local, organic farms. When products are available, you see them on the menu, and all breads, pastries, even ice cream, are made in house.

Not just good eats, FRESH good eats.

Clearly the secret is out because when I tried to make a reservation last week the hostess told me, "the earliest I can seat you for dinner is 9:15, I suggest you try a walk-in reservation and see if someone cancels." When I went out there this past Thursday night with Simone and Jen, we were faced with a two and half hour walk-in wait, and were lucky enough to squeeze in some chairs at the bar.

I was impressed with the restaurant itself. Mostly light wood and grey fixtures, with small hanging lights over a gorgeous grey stone table. The kind of place you could take your friends out for drinks or impress your in-laws with. I also just found out they're D.C.'s first LEED-certified restaurant, so bonus for all us pro-earth people.

Food: absolutely to die for. Although I completely abused my body and it retaliated later. My heart especially, I'm sure.

To start, I enjoyed a tasty whiskey and orange drink called "Farmer Jon," one the bartender claimed was his favorite. Followed by salami flat bread and mac & cheese with peas and ham (suggestion from sad food snob friend). The best way to describe it is the salami, melt-in-your-mouth. The pasta, velvety soft and the cheese, creamy, smooth and filling.

What did I tell you? But if you're going to indulge, indulge in good food.

I was also intrigued by Jen's ordering the "popcorn of the day" appetizer. Last Thursday's was barbecue. You're probably picturing popcorn covered in sauce but it was more like a slight kick of seasoning. Surprisingly delicious.

I slept so well after that meal, and let me tell you, it's a good thing the closest metro home was 15 blocks away.

Photo courtesy of Founding Farmers. I was a half hour late to dinner so didn't want to stop, and walking out I was too stuffed to function.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Randoms

Taking a page out of Emily and Lauren's book, some fun, random links...

I blogged about how food exports in Chile -- including wine :( -- might be affected in the aftermath of the recent megaquake and tsunami. Hope you like USDA reports.

Seventeen Mag goes to prom, and the dresses are more hideous than ever before. Although I think my little sister owns the dress in photo #8. Awesome. (Thanks Emily G)

More phishing: Restaurants are now adding a 'Health' charge?

Almost every song sounds better when the Chipmunks sing it. Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" is no exception. (Thanks Emily Y)

To all LOST fans: Was "Catch a Falling Star" ruined for life for anyone else? I just want to know what's going on already!!!!! Although Tad and I agree that our lives will never be the same again after the finale.

I can't stop looking at #5 EMO bunnie (or is it Bun-Eh?).

I'm really excited to see the new Alice in Wonderland. Hopefully it'll be just as good as the 1903 version.

Glow-in-the-dark SQUIDS!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Phished

There are more people on University of Maryland's campus on a given school day than who are permanent residents in my hometown county.

So you never would think it would be the target of a phishing scam.

I got a call to my cell phone yesterday morning that went something like this, "Hello, this is the National Bank of said county. Your account with us has been blocked. To remove the block, please call us back at this number."

Interesting. I closed my account with the National Bank in middle school. And I didn't have a cell phone in middle school.

Called the bank, called the police. Did NOT call that number back. Then called my credit card, called my actual bank to report it and put alerts on all my accounts.

Several hours of round robin games of telephone, the police called me back this morning. The FBI is now investigating a phishing scam in my county, where they believe someone got a hold of a "do not call list" and for some reason is targeting the area, which is how they got my cell phone number. The National Bank was just a conscience.

My dad put it perfectly. "It's such a shame that people would waste such incredible talent on something like this," he told me during one of our many phone conversations these past 36 hours.

So bizarre that such a condensed, rural area was targeted, but it's also terrifying to think about. Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated than ever before. This is way beyond Ocean's Eleven. For example, two hackers in San Francisco were just picked up for their phone phishing scheme with Toyota customers, The Washington Post reported yesterday.

If you receive any weird automated phone messages or texts, DO NOT CALL THE NUMBER BACK. According to the police, it establishes a connection with the hacker as a valid number. Be careful with emails too, some criminals will copy and paste actual bank or other promotional email alerts for a hacking blast. AOL had this happen a few weeks ago. Check the return email address to make sure it's legit.