Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A series of adventures

...which ultimately led me back to where I began.

This tale begins a few days ago--monday, to be precise--when I felt coming upon me a bit of wanderlust. Knowing that time was precious, I immediately set out to satiate my desire for adventure by sleeping for several more hours, following that with a short lunch, downloading weather software to check the outside temperature, after which I had another snack before stepping outside to confirm the internet's report of the weather, finally putting some shoes on, taking a short afternoon nap, and finally--nearly 4 o'clock by this point--hopping on Lucy, ready for a journey.

For my first stop, I headed to campus to return a few books, both of which were tragically overdue. I used a special route I planned for just this very occasion, a route which took me far around the fraternaties and sporting fields. You may ask the reason for this odd detour, and the answer is simple: I would have surely been pummeled into dust by any "jock" or "frastard" (frat+bastard, it's the best I could come up with) catching me with both An Introduction to Tensor Calculus and Astrophysics of the Sun tucked in my satchel. Nevertheless, the campus was sufficiently emptied by the holiday break such that I was able to steal away to the library drop slot unnoticed by any heavy-knuckled mouth-breathers. (I know, I'm currently in a program to deal with my long suppressed nerd-rage) On my way off campus, I noticed that I wasn't the only one taking advantage of the nearly empty campus. I found these two bikes in the midst of a highly inappropriate act, in broad daylight, mind you.

Bike pr0n after the jump.

With my duties fulfilled, it was off to have some fun. I strapped on my satchel and braved a bit of traffic to bike down to the local park, the only park in town to have actual trees, rather than just a tangle of brightly colored plastic and metal placed in the middle of a giant hampster's enclosure. I leaned Lucy against a tree and sat to read. I brought a Dostoevsky with me, because in my spare time I enjoy looking pretentious. I sat down to read, in a spot carefully chosen so as to be as maximally distant from the incessancy of the noisily frolicking children about. (In addition to my nerd-rage, I also hate children. *The more you know...*) Anyway, I had a very pleasant time in the park, something I blogged about in more detail on my sister blog--check it out, won't you?

Thus, with the sun slowly setting, I ended my journey, as I often do, with a trip to the hipster coffee shop. I was engrossed in the reading, and found that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to be simultaneously ironic, aloof, and pretentious. Also, at this point I'd love to present a photo of the overweight woman I spied there, sitting asleep at one of the front tables, apparently taking a nap while knitting. It was a scene worthy of tableaux, but I was too camera-shy in the crowded room to take advantage of this poor woman. You'll just have to take my word for it.

I've just realized that this will mark the first post of 2009. Happy New Year, if you care for things like that.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Twitter Updates Up!

Check out the sidebar, I've added a new twitter widget (sounds dirty).

Friday, December 26, 2008

The last day of Festivus I single-handedly saved Festivus.

Tonight I drove into the sinking sun on my way back to Stilly (that is, Stillwater, but only residents have the right to call it "Stilly"--same thing with Philidelphia). It was the end of a short stay at the Parents' house for some celebration of Christmas and commercialism, a stay during which I spent a lot of money, recieved some gifts, and spent zero hours on my bike, even though I had promised to get some cycling in. It was with a somber mood that I purposefully turned the radio off and prepared my mind for some musings.

Long drives are really great. They're a lot like long bike rides, except for the fact that you're never worried about the headwind, the next hill, or what gear you happen to be in. In other words, they're really great for some relaxing philosophical thought. With the spectre of economics news still fresh in my head (I had been listening to Marketplace, on NPR), I tried to think of something philosophical to ponder. I couldn't. Eventually I reverted back to my old ways and spent some time singing along with a Barry White tune.

I probably should have been thinking about how I would spend this, the last day of Festivus. It's a made-up holiday (though, aren't they all?) which is usually attributed to the writers of Seinfeld. I celebrate my own version of the holiday, which sticks with Festivus tradition, but has a few extra tweaks. The main attraction, instead of the menorah or decorated tree, is an unadorned, lusterless aluminum pole. Why? It's got a high strength to weight ratio. It also represents the heart of Festivus, the stripping down of the commercial holiday which Christmas in particular has become. There aren't any presents in my version of Festivus, which begins on December 21st, the birthday of my lord and savior, Samuel L. Jackson, and ends on December 26th, so I get to celebrate for one day after the Christmas festivities proper are done. There really aren't many other facets to this celebration, other than maintaining a healthy distain for Christmas throughout these six days.

But wait, you may rightly ask me, didn't you say in your first paragraph that you bought and recieved presents? That sounds a whole lot like Christmas commercialism to me.

Okay, you got me. I do celebrate Christmas, loosely, even though I believe the "reason for the season" is as fake as Santa himself. I partake in the gift giving aspects of the holiday because, well, I like presents. Sue me.

Speaking of which, Lucy got a really sweet LED head and tail light set today, with which I braved the darkness of mid-afternoon to pedal down to the Yuppie Coffee Shop (much closer than the Hipster Coffee Shop, but much less ironic) and purchased a really nasty soy-latte. Side Note: Never go to the Yuppie Coffee Shop. It's very consistently nasty.

Anyway, I'm sitting here, ignoring my brimstone-tasting drink, writing this post, and keeping Festivus alive. You see, because the miracle of Festivus is that it exists solely in the minds and hearts of those who practice it, and by nurturing its little flame of non-denominational holiday-like goodness, I have, as I attested in my subtitle, saved festivus. Is that kind of a let-down? I try to write big lead ups to the conclusions in my posts, but I guess they just never come out right.

Oh well, here it is.

Happy Festivus! Screw you, Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Not much doing...Part II

...or, why I had to drive to the coffee shop.

Here I am, dejected and ashamed, riding the velvety wings of a soy latte all the way to my latest post (this one). I must tell you, the weather here has been, and still is, terrible. For the last three days it's been nothing but a nightmarish parade of bike-endangering road conditions. Two of the days in question were marred by the combination of ice, snow, and subfreezing conditions, covering the road in a thin film of "throw-your-bike-out-from-under-your-feet" and "slam-your-head-against-the-road-in-incoming-traffic". Today, although the weather seems to be getting slightly more tolerable, was still covered in "rain-slick-pavement-of-death" and "oh-I'm-sorry-were-you-planning-on-seeing-for-more-than-three-feet-in-front-of-you?" fog. It's getting bad; I haven't seen the sun in four days.

So, here I am, midway through my caffeine and soy-based dairy-facsimile beverage, writing to you in desperation. I haven't biked for three days, dear reader, and it's tearing me up inside. For FSM's sake, I had to drive to the local hipster coffee shop (in which I happen to be writing). Drive. It's because I was so ashamed of this that I to parked about a block down the road, around the corner, coasted for the last block with my lights off, threw the camo-netting over the top of the car, dove for cover behind a lamppost when a hipster-looking person glanced my way, and crept, MGS style, around the corner, and into the safety of the shop. I considered even rolling up my pant legs, and walking in as if out of breath, but my subterfuge would be too quickly found out, and the hipster shunning which would ensue would be epic in its sadness.

Therefore, here I am. I don't even have anything especially vegan to say, other than maybe, "Soy latte's are pretty good," or, "you probably shouldn't eat animals, it's not good for the planet." But we all know that, by now.

Here I am. There you are. We're all here. Together.

Have fun. I'll try to get back on the bike soon.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vegan Recipe of the Day - Black Bean Soup

...that's right, a proper recipe.

I felt myself become ambitious today. Finally done with classes, taking a break from work, and finally getting over my crack addiction, I was ready to cook. Today's recipe can also be found at this address. I'm usually not one for complicated meals, and this one is no exception; in fact, the rest of the recipes found on the aforementioned vegan site all look fairly easy.

Alright, let's get started. Here's the recipe, point blank.

Black Bean Soup

This hearty black bean soup is a perfect dish for a cold winter day.


Serves 2

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

Saute the onions and minced garlic in a 1/4 cup of water in a nonstick saucepan. Once the onions have become translucent, place the onions and garlic in a large stockpot. Add the rinsed beans, water, and spices. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Taste-test the soup after 20 minutes and remove from heat once the beans are cooked to your liking.

For a slightly different taste, add frozen or fresh vegetables such as chopped carrots, kale, or broccoli.

My Notes:

I whipped this up this morning, and I had a few things to mention, based on my own experience with the dish. First, absolutely use the optional cayenne pepper. I couldn't imagine this soup without it; it adds a bit more flavor to what could potentially be a pretty bland soup. Second, when you go to the store to buy cumin, don't come home with curry powder. I did. Because I'm dumb. I can't read labels properly. (Look for the next vegan recipe: Something using curry powder!) Lastly, the recipe calls for a whole onion. I would probably half that, unless you just have smaller onions than I do. I used one whole this morning and it came out a bit onion-heavy. Don't get me wrong, it was still amazingly good, but I think it could definitely do with just a half to three quarters of a mid-range onion.

Thanks again to the Compassionate Action for Animals website for the use of the recipe.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not much doing. here's a nice video to watch.

I love the winter, but I'm beginning to hate the snow. It's keeping me inside.

In the meantime, enjoy this sunny video of a NYC Bike Messenger race, I'll expect you to be taking notes.

It's a funny thing, though, riding in traffic. I've been thinking a lot about it recently, mainly about how agile bikes can be in these kinds of situations. Sure, in a flat stretch, the cars will win hands down, but it's when things really start to get gritty that rolling on two wheels and a few pounds of aluminum can really give you the edge. If, for instance, I need to hop onto the sidewalk to bypass an obstacle--I will--if I need to slip past several cars on a busy road--you bet I will--and the best part is that I can do all of these things with the grace and finesse that only a bike will allow.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two-wheeled perspective - Alleyway AHT

There are certain things you just can't see from a car. This latest gallery comes from the alley behind the hipster coffee shop; and I'm frankly not surprised to see such a high AHT-density next to the building in which the most highly-caffeinated art-history majors seem to dwell. I know that it sounds as though I'm making fun (because I am), but I did just spend the night there reading philosophy and inhaling soy-latte. Actually, I may just be bitter because thusfar I've failed in my attempts to fully assimilate into their herd. Anyway.


Mr. T. Owns You

Live for the Moment.
And, if you weren't aware, this is a fact.

Hilary [sic] is a BAMF
For more information, see this clip.

American Flag
Very reminiscent of Jasper Johns
(Actually, while I was looking up that image, this one doesn't look anything like my mental picture of the Johns Painting. Oh well, you get the point.)

every ONE Need a Hobby.

I'm very impressed by this one, so I saved it for last.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Going there by bike - OMYGOD it's freezing out here!


There are those who think I'm mad. These are the same people who watch me saunter into class with my top half completely bundled (underjacket, jacket, scarf, gloves, hat) into a bulletproof mass of insulation, while my bottom half is clad in nothing more than a pair of rolled-up jeans and flip-flops. Don't worry, I do this on purpose, people, it's completely utilitarian. Though once you get past their incredulity at needing to bike comfortably whilst in winter weather gear, they still bring up the inevitable question of, "Well, why the hell are you still biking? It's, like, thirty outside!"

*scoff scoff*

Of course it is. How else am I going to prove just how hardcore I am? But seriously. It's either bike to school, and endure ten minutes of cold, or take the bus, and endure the bus. Don't get me wrong, I love public transportation, and the buses in town are very prompt, they have good routes, and are generally very convenient. But, they're filled kids...ooh! just saying that out loud makes me quiver with fear and rage.

So it looks like I'm stuck biking. I had a pretty good trial run yesterday, even though, on the way home, my favorite pink scarf got severely caught in my wheel. In addition to stopping the forward motion of the bike (bad), the tightening, pink menace nearly took my head off (also bad).