Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cookie Monster Turned Yam Monster?

I was recently reminiscing about the joys of watching cookie monster chow down excessive cookies as a child, so I was intrigued to see this news story about taking Sesame Street to Nigeria.

Funded by USAID, this new Sesame Street, renamed Sesame Square, will teach Nigerians about subjects ranging from AIDS, malaria nets, gender equality to yams. Their version of the Cookie Monster obesses not over cookies but over yams. He sings, "I can fry the yam. I can toast it. I can boil it. I love yams!" It's no chocolate chip cookie, but that's the beauty cross-cultural adaptation. Yay, for educational television programming everywhere!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Runaway Dinner

The most exciting kinds of the dinners are those that try to escape.

I don't think I've ever screamed so much over dinner before in my life; although to be fair, it was probably more shrieking than screaming. Our task was to cook almost a whole bushel of Maryland Blue crabs which, in case you don't know, is a ridiculous amount of blue crabs. To make matters worse, live crabs are fiesty little critters that don't seem to like being dusted with Old Bay seasoning and shoved in a hot pot. They flap their legs around like crab-maniacs making little clicking noises. "Don't eat me. Don't eat me." We felt it prudent to apologize to each crab before sending it off to it's fate.

At one point, a crab popped off the the lid and jumped out of the steamer onto the stove and then onto the floor. Crazy crab. We had to use tongs to grab him, wash him off, and put him back in. Sorry.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Sweetest Place on Earth

I'm was feeling Hershey Park Happy during those last days of summer. Hershey Park will always be the best amusement park. Where else can you see life-size candy bars dancing around while riding on roller coasters?

I hadn't been to Hersheypark (over the summer) in 3 years and was delighted to find that they now have 11 roller coasters and a new boardwalk full of water rides right in the park. I knew we were in for a good day when the parking attendent greeted us with, "Have a sweet day." Thanks. We will.

As always, the Chocolate World Ride was a great ending to an amazing day. Here is where you learn how the chocolate is made and leave with free piece of chocolate. Sweet.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Avocado Juice

Imagine avocados turned into juice.

Sounds odd to those of us only know avocado as the main ingredient in guacamole, right? So why would you want to liquify avocados and mix them with sweet stuff?

My skepticism of avocado juice however, was proven wrong when I had a yummy homemade avocado smoothie/milkshake/juice this week (defining it is a little dicey because it is blended like a smoothie, creamy like a milkshake, and healthy like juice). All you do is add an avocado, milk, and sugar to taste into a blender, blend well, and serve. The taste is sweet; the texture is thick; the color is beautiful mint green. The smoothie/milkshake/juice drink is pretty nutritious too. What's not to love?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

DC Restaurant Week

Don't forget, fellow Washington DC metro area dwellers, this week is Restaurant Week, where you can get a fancy 3 course meal for a fixed price well below the going rate at over 200 participating restaurants. Last night I had dinner at a restaurant that is way out of my price range as a poor graduate student. Yay for fine dining on a budget.

I know there are many people in the city who can afford to wine and dine at places like this every evening. Dropping a hundred bucks for dinner (or more) is nothing to them. To be honest though, I'm not sure I would feel comfortable with that type of lifestyle even if I had all the money in the world.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shopping for a Camera

Is it bad that I spent more time shopping for a camera than I did for a car? It dawned on me that I bought my current car in a period of less than 3 weeks and my current camera in a period of over 2 months. Does that make me an irrational consumer? I guess the more pressing the need (ie. transportation) the quicker the decision?

But anyway, Amazon and Best Buy both have a deal going on where if you buy a digital camera right now, they throw in a 4GB SD card for free. I snatched up that deal, (ultimately on Amazon because there was no tax) because they also have the most competitive prices on the market for digital cameras.

I almost made a purchase from Delta Camera online, but googled the place before entering my credit card information and was saved by this blog. Apparently the site is a big scam. I thought the reason their prices were so low was because the camera didn't come with a battery and I could buy that separately elsewhere. Apparently though, the camera doesn't come at all, and the listed address is a Jewish Deli in Brooklyn, so I feel like I dodged a bullet there. That's just a reminder to do your research when buying online. If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is. Always go for the reputable site. ReSellerRatings is a good place to begin your search.

I also used the Internet to read up on reviews of all the cameras I was considering buying. I knew I wanted a Canon Point-and-Shoot. I knew I wanted a 4x optical zoom. I knew I wanted 12 megapixels. So I worked from there and narrowed it down to the Cannon PowerShot A3100 IS and the Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS. They are very similar cameras but one is 30 bucks more expensive than the other. This specs comparison shows nicely how they are basically the same camera in different shells. So what did I base my final decision on in the end? Yeah, I hate to say it, but color. Red won.

I hope to get my camera in the mail today or tomorrow!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Crabbing for Maryland Blue Crabs

Even though I've been living in Maryland for awhile now, I have never gone crabbing before last weekend. And I don't know why not. It is such a fun regional activity!

What you do is this. Drive to the pier. Tie smelly chicken necks to the end of the string. Throw the string into the water. Tie string to the pier. Wait. See string move. Grab string and pull upward slowly. See crab eating chicken. Scoop up with a net, and voila, you have yourself a Maryland blue crab.

It really was that easy. We went at high tide during the month of August which is apparently the best time to crab. Almost immediatly after throwing the chicken necks in the water the crabs starting biting. The "crab police" also came around to check if everyone was meeting regulations, namely all crabs must be bigger than 5.25 inches and not female. We were unsure of said regulations and did not want to get a fine of $150 per illegal crab so we dumped them all overboard in a rush.

We then worked on re-catching the crabs and ended up with a nice bucket full. But, just to be sure we had plenty of crabs to eat, we stopped by the fish market in DC to buy more crabs. That was an experience in and of itself. There are heaping piles of fiesty crabs just waiting for you to pick them out and dump them in the steamer. Eating crabs is an experience too. You have to work for your meal! This YouTube tutorial might be of interest to all you newbies out there like me. It's basically snap, crack, smash, and pull. They ought to make crab-eating googles. It's a hazardous task.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Whats with DC Sports Teams?

I have to say, DC sports teams are weird. What's with their mascots? We have the Nationals which have an ugly bird and presidents with wrinkly faces. The Wizards which are a blue hairy wizard. The Redskins which are a politically incorrect Native American. The Capitals which are another blue bird-like furry thing. And DC United which is another bald eagle wanna-be. Come on! Why do you have to have such sucky mascots? If it weren't for the fact DC is a city full of nerds, i would say that's why DC sports teams never win.

Nevertheless, making fun of bad mascots is all part of the sporting event fun (as I'm getting quite used to with a turtle as my current school's public face). I went to my first Nats baseball game last night and despite the pouring rain that delayed the game 2 hours, wet seats, overpriced concessions, and loss to Florida Marlins, it was a lot of fun. I hate watching baseball on TV because it is soooo boring, but watching a game in person is actually exciting. I have to admit though, rather ashamedly, my favorite part of the game was the president's mascot race. Just when it looked like Abe Lincoln was going to win, he got sacked by a giant cat, and good ole George Washington pulled ahead. Yay first prez. But how come Teddy never wins?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Does Craigslist Make you Feel Uneasy?

The beauty of Craigslist. I love it. I really do. Where else can you can pine over missed connections in the metro, pick up free sofas, search for the lost Mr. Whiskers, advertise your Russian tutoring services, find a new apartment to rent, and post a no strings attached SBM seeks SWF personal ad all at the same place? The way it is divided into local markets so you deal with people in your own area seems to be the reason for its success.

I have "officially" used Craigslist twice. Once it landed me an awesome internship. My second experience with the website; however, provided less pleasing results. Tonight I waited for a complete random stranger to meet me in the parking lot of Ikea to sell me a new phone for a long time. Unfortunately this person never showed. Or at least I never figured out which one of the other 200 cars in the parking lot belonged to the stranger with the phone I wanted to buy. I didn't know anything about the person who I was about to meet and he/she didn't know anything about me. I'm sure they were perfectly safe, but I couldn't help being reminded of police report I read awhile ago about a guy getting beat up and robbed who had arranged to buy an iPhone off of someone on Craigslists.

Why does Craigslist seems so much sketchier than the other websites out there? Is it because it is taking the "safe" virtual nature of online relationships and causing it collide into to our real lives where we are thus, more vulnerable? There are scams on Craigslist to be wary of, but isn't that on every site with a community of users? I partake in many online transcations without the bat of an eye, but why is it that Craigslist makes me feel slightly uneasy? Am I paranoid?

P.S. If you don't periodically check out the Best Of Craigslist you're really missing out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Destroy Your Phone in 2 Easy Steps

Last week I wrote about how to destroy your phone in one easy step, but today I'm going to add one more step so you can be sure it's completely dead. After defacing it with nail polish remover you ought to get it irrevocably soaked. My preferred method of destruction is to leave it on the beach unattended. Find a nice sunny dry spot of sand where there is no chance the water will reach, and when you return you will be delighted to find all of your things soaked by a renegade wave. Thanks ocean! You really know how to finish off a phone. I suppose mine was pleading to be put out of its misery.

On a brighter note, this weekend was amazing! Great weather to be at the beach. Rehoboth Beach in Delaware is a nice place to go if you get the chance.

P.S. If you want to call me, don't. You'll have to facebook/twitter/IM/email/singing telegram/pony express me instead.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Is Social Media for Work or Play?

Personal or professional? Personal or professional? This is the question I've been mulling over since deciding to get back into blogging. Especially since I may be entering job market soon, deciding how I want to represent myself online is more important than ever.

I recognize that, in theory, I should be building a personal brand that is marketable. I should be talking about my excellent research abilities, my stellar communication, my positive attitude, my perfect writing, my superior charm and wit, my striking beauty, and...oh wait, maybe I got carried away. But on a more serious note, I do think about how I ought to be selling myself to the world via social media. Shouldn't I be creating an online resume, of sorts, that defines me professionally?

Those of us who like to share opinions, use humor, reveal preferences, carry on conversions in public forums etc. must recognize how it affects our professional image. Not every one appreciates our unique tastes. Not everyone gets our humor. Not everyone agrees with everything we say. Does this mean I shouldn’t post these types of things online? I would say no; because isn't the whole concept of social media sociality? To share with others that which interests us?

But that still doesn't give us much of a guideline for how much of our online activity should be devoted to developing our professional image, because in most cases, our personal and professional interests intersect. There are many career advisors out there who would suggest we should forgo the lure of using social media for our own evil pleasures (like sharing links to funny youtube videos, making fun of cakes gone horribly wrong, and referring friends to the delicious yogurt shops) in favor of only tweetbloglikediggfollowposting material related to our professional development.

But I don't agree; I feel like the lines between our personal and professional lives are very blurry. I'm not even sure if they are separate to be honest, and thus, I think people spend far too much time worrying about keeping personal and professional identities (notice I did not say actual work or play activities) artificially apart. Sure, any time an employer, colleague, or networking contact wants to, they can go online, do a quick search and access tons of "personal" information about you (especially if you utilize social media to its max), but that doesn't mean social media has to be all work and no play. I think the best users seemlessly blend professional and personal content with appropriate doses of descretion of course. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Frozen Yogurt Yumminess

I never thought I'd say it, but I'm in love with frozen yogurt stores (yes, even more so than ice cream shops). They are more delicious and less bad for you.

Ever since a friend recommended I go to Pink Berry in California, I've become addicted. Despite the pricey-ness, I went twice in one week, because I thought it was a Hollywood-only type of thing.

But to my delight, it seems like frozen yogurt stores are taking off everywhere across America. No Pink Berry in DC yet, but was walking through Tyson's Corner the other day and saw a ton of fruit and yogurt shops. In College Park, Maryland we have a great one called,Yogiberry. Apparently, frozen yogurt is the new trend and I didn't notice until now.

The typical frozen yogurt boutique is fun, brightly lit, modern, and defined by sleek logos. I have a theory they are going to be the next coffee shops. Cool cats who once went to Starbucks with their MacBook and skinny jeans will now meander over to the frozen yogurt shop down the street to pay designer prices for designer yogurt. Soon enough one brand will overtake the rest and become the dominant frozen yogurt chain. Any predictions? TCBY hasn't rounded up all the market shares in the biz yet.

With my personal fascination, I am especially fond of the colorful fresh fruit you can pile on to make your yogurt extra scrumptious, like mango or pineapple. And then they have healthy options like granola or almonds to sprinkle on top of those. The list of toppings at these places can be pretty impressive from zany breakfast cereals to decadent cheesecake bites. The choices of yogurt can be extensive as well, my favorite being taro at Yogiberry.

The pressing question, I suppose, is whether or not frozen yogurt is as sinful as ice cream. The answer seems to be almost yes, but no! The main differences between frozen yogurt and ice cream are the probiotic cultures, lower fat, sugar, and improved digestibility of frozen yogurt. The caloric savings aren't great, but I know I certainly feel a lot less guilty after eating a light yogurt snack than heavy ice cream dessert.