AKA Abraham Bacoln

November 28, 2006, 2:16 am
Filed under: tidbit

Two years ago I attempted to start writing a little bit. Well, a lot, actually – I involved myself in the NaNoWriMo project which basically entails pounding out 1,666 words a every day for a month. I’ll have you know I didn’t make it – November is a hell of a month in which to attempt to dedicate hours every day to writing for pleasure.

Something in conversation over this Thanksgiving prompted a discussion of the Great Unfinished O’Mara(can) Novel and I dug around on my hard drive until I found it the other day.

I started re-reading it the two nights ago and I don’t even know what to say or think. I have an absolutely terrible memory so aside from the basic plot outline I didn’t remember anything about it. Besides, when you’re writing nearly two thousand words a day you don’t have time to dedicate them to memory, and besides that even it’s been two years – more than long enough to forget the details.

I’m finding myself pleasantly surprised by what I wrote. I’m actually enjoying re-reading it, and I’m sure any of you self-deprecating artists (in any medium) out there know that anguished feeling when you review your work and it just isn’t as good as you wanted it to be. For some unknown reason I’m not getting that nasty sinking feeling this time. I’m proud of my work.

I’m actually still awake, up far past my bedtime, because I’ve been treating myself to a few chapters. I can’t stand to read it all at once because … honestly, because I find myself savoring it. I don’t want to finish.

I don’t want to know how it ends.

Fortunately for me, I never finished it, so it doesn’t end.

Maybe I’ll have to do something about that one day.

Antithanksgiving (as opposed to anti-tank weapons)
November 24, 2006, 12:15 am
Filed under: tidbit

So hey, I’m just gonna go ahead and buck the trend here, mmmmkay, and discuss something for which I am NOT thankful.

Two-thirds of the population is considered right-eye dominant. You know, that means that they (and I’m referring to ‘they’, not ‘us’, for a reason which … well, you’re smart, you’ve probably already figured this bit out) prefer to view objects with their right eye. It’s called ocular dominance if you want to read up on it some more.

Aaaaanyway, I’m part of the one-third group that’s left-eye dominant. Anyone that has tried on my eyeglasses for fun or profit has probably noticed there’s almost no correction in my right-hand lens. That’s because my right eye has nearly 20-20 vision – it’s my left eye that sucks. Astigmatism, if you want to get picky.

All this means is that I’m having to train myself to put the camera up to my right eye, which feels totally wrong to me. I usually don’t wear my glasses while shooting, and therefore doing any sort of manual focus with my screwed up dominant left eye is a royal pain in the ass. Plus if I use my dominant eye I’m always smashing my nose into the back of the camera. Smudgy.

THIS IS SOMETHING FOR WHICH I AM NOT THANKFUL. My body has cursed me with a preference for the lesser choice. Blargh.

Do you know which of your eyes is dominant? Doesn’t really matter, but if you want to find out, do this simple test. Look at a distant object, extend your arms, and form a triangle around the object with your hands, like this:

Close your left eye, then open it and close your right eye. Whichever eye is seeing the object is your dominant eye. Notice: do not attempt this while drunk.

Okay, okay, fine, here’s a list of things for which I am thankful today.

I have my health, I have a functioning version of sanity, I got to eat a fantastic Thanksgiving lunch with my parents and an old family friend, and I also got to eat ANOTHER fantastic Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws, my brother-in-law and his wife, and their beautiful baby.

Seriously, my stomach is very thankful that my family’s tradition is an early afternoon meal and that my in-laws prefer supper. That makes it real easy for me to stay bloated like a tick the entire day.

Also, I’m grateful that I’ve a tiny Christmas wish list, meaning that I have been successful in eschewing overwhelming greed and materialism. Okay, yeah, so there’s a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens on there, but that’s the only thing I actually really want, and I think the parents are going to take care of that. The rest of you, you poor souls who torture yourself by reading my drivel, I love all of you, and having you in my life is gift enough.

I hope everyone’s T-Day was as simple, heartwarming, and relaxing as mine. You all deserve the best.

Ah-ah, ah-ah, that’s the letter two, my friend.
November 21, 2006, 7:48 pm
Filed under: tidbit

I was standing around with a group of my classmates discussing what a terrible fate it would be if our syllabus was correct and we did indeed have a test today. I threw a granola bar wrapper at the hallway trash can and to my amazement it actually went in. The guy next to me said, “Nice shot!”

I said, “Yeah, well, doesn’t happen often. You know, people always say, ‘You’re tall, do you play basketball?’ My usual answer to that is, ‘Come sit with me in the office for a day. Watch how many things I throw at the trash can and how often I miss. You’ll understand.'”

There was a pause, and he said,

“You should be in a movie. You’re like a character from a movie.”

“I … I suppose … I will take that as a compliment.”

“Oh, totally.”

Snow? I think not.
November 20, 2006, 11:01 pm
Filed under: tidbit

Yesterday I blogged that all I wanted was for it to snow, and snow today it did. Tonight I brought that up, and I asked everyone what they wanted me to blog about today, since it’s obvious that I control the world now. Everyone said, “Snow! Snow! More snow! Accumulation!” and then Matt said, “Bags of hundreds.”

So here you go, Matt. All I can think about now is Matt coming into possession of bags of hundreds. That’d be just about the best thing ever. I can practically feel it – all that stiff, rustly, crisp paper, that smell straight from the bank, and no exploding dye packs.

I wish it would snow
November 19, 2006, 11:24 pm
Filed under: tidbit

I really do. Today when I got out of the library the sky was this uniform dull gray and it looked so much like snow was on its way. Being away from Tennessee for five years has really done wonders to make me forget what the winter is like around here. The jacket I wore almost all winter in Portland is already looking like it’s gonna be far too light to get me through. My ‘heavy’ jacket might not even be enough.

Still, I can’t wait for that first morning when I wake up and the whole parking lot outside my apartment is white and pristine, no tracks, no footprints, nothing. I know I don’t get snow days anymore, but I can pretend.

Winter is coming, and I feel ready.

Lunatic ravings
November 15, 2006, 1:21 am
Filed under: entree, recipe

Tortilla Madness

Originally uploaded by Kevin O’Mara.

“What? Another recipe?” I hear you cry. Yes, it is the truth. Once again I have conquered the demons of the kitchen and returned triumphant with a tasty dish fit for two guys to eat on a Tuesday night.

I’m trying to make Tuesday be my “cook for the parents” night, and so far it’s working, though this week Mom’s out of town visiting relatives and so it was a guy’s night … um … in, I suppose.

Before I get too far into this, I have to brag on my dad – he’s pretty much the best kitchen help I could possibly hire. Considering I don’t have any spare cash, my help would have to work for free, and you just can’t find good employees for free anymore. I guess that’s what’s at the root of the word employee, after all – the word employ, from the French, trompe l’oiel, which means to pay people to sit around in such a way that it appears they’re actually working.

Anyway, Dad’s a great help in the kitchen because he and I seem to know how to work without getting in each others way. He has a knack for knowing what I’ll need next without me even having to ask, and he’s a pro at cutting tortillas into 1-inch strips. That’s actually what they had him doing in the Army for three years. He has war stories about guys losing fingers during the Corn Tortilla Conflict, dull knives, stale tortillas … it’s horrific.

I guess I should get around to the recipe part, yeah?

Oh, hey, but listen – I have pretty much decided that I hate corn tortillas. The soft warm and almost sweet goodness of flour tortillas wins out every day, in my not-so-humble opinion. Next recipe in which I am involved that calls for corn tortillas is gonna get a rude awakening when I mix it up all crazy-like. I found that the corn tortillas in this recipe detracted from the flavor of the rest of the dish so TO HELL WITH CORN TORTILLAS, I say, AND DAMN THE TORPEDOES.

This Recipe Had Some Interesting Name But I’ve Lost The Link So I’m Gonna Call It … Tortilla Madness

1 cup onion, thinly-sliced
5 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (that means pre-cooked and THEN shredded, people, you can’t shred raw chicken, or at least not easily and without grossing someone out)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (~7 oz) salsa de chile fresco (I could find nothing of the sort at Food Lion so I made do with some green chiles and mild salsa)
15 (6-inch) FLOUR tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips
1 cup shredded white cheese or maybe if you’re me you opt for Mexican 4-cheese blend, which tastes just like all the other bagged pre-shredded cheeses at the grocery store.

1.) Sautee the onions in a little bit of oil until translucent, maybe 3-4 minutes.
2.) Throw in the garlic, cook for 1 minute.
3.) Add the chicken, cook for 30-45 seconds to warm it up a bit.
4.) Put chicken, garlic, and onion in a medium bowl and stir in the black beans.
5.) In the skillet, bring the broth and the salsa to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer for a few minutes. Stir occasionally.
6.) Grease up a 9×12 baking dish.
7.) Make a layer of tortilla strips, using half the strips at your disposal.
8.) Make a layer of chicken-bean mixture, using half the chicken-bean.

Mmmmmm. Chicken-bean.

9.) Repeat steps 7 and 8.
10.) Pour the broth-salsa mixture evenly over the casserole.

Mmmmmm. Broth-salsa.

11.) Top this with the cheese.
12.) Bake at 450 (you pre-heated your oven, right?) for 10 minutes, or until cheese is all golden and bubbly.

Eat eat eat eat eat. I served with corn, because black beans and corn entered into an alliance in the year 450 CE and declared that they would always taste great together and work as a team on any plate.

Man, I totally need to go to bed.

Day for Night
November 8, 2006, 12:51 am
Filed under: entree, photography, recipe

I’m a bit down lately because it doesn’t matter which day of the week it is, whether or not I’m getting out of class or out of work, there’s no daylight left. It seems silly for an amateur to say something so pretentious, but my photography is stagnating. I currently have one day a week when I can go outside and enjoy the daylight (that’s Sunday, for those of you keeping track) and I can’t just force inspiration to strike. Sometimes I’m too busy on Sundays even to just run around looking for photographic opportunities. There are only so many pictures I can take at night in Cookeville before I start to get a bit worn out, and only so many times I can take photos of sitting around a friend’s house doin’ nothing. I’m gonna have to start doing self-portraits against the blank white walls of my apartment or something.

I realize I should view this as a challenge instead of a detriment, but it’s hard to think that way. I walked to the square tonight to see what I could find, and the answer was NUFFIN.

Well, um, let’s see. Past that, I’ve decided that Tuesday night is Cook for the Parents Night. It’s an excuse to go use their sweet kitchen setup and not have to clean up afterwards. Tonight’s experiment was a FANTASTIC success, a solid keeper vote by all three parties. Cooking Light is to thank for this recipe, though I will post my ever-so-slightly modified version. Seriously, this one’s a keeper and it’s also stupid simple.

I Don’t Remember What They Called It – Italian Sausage Soup or Something?

3 links Italian sausage
2 cups chicken broth (for this I do recommend broth, not water + bouillon)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (see how easy? all y’uns’s ingredients is already in the can)
1/2 cup uncooked small penne pasta (or shells, or bowties, or whatever)
2 cups bagged baby spinach leaves
Lotsa grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1.) Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.
2.) Remove casings from sausage.
3.) Add sausage to pan, and cook about 5 minutes or until browned, and make sure to break it into bite-size pieces (or smaller)
4.) Drain; return to pan.
5.) Add broth, tomatoes, and pasta to pan, and bring to a boil over high heat.
6.) Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is done.
7.) Remove from heat; stir in spinach until wilted.
8.) Sprinkle each serving with cheese and basil.

See? Stupid easy. It doesn’t even have 10 steps, and it’s delicious. I’d make the Rachael Ray face here, but you can’t see me over the internet.

Though maybe I just got an idea for one of those self-portraits …

Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.
November 5, 2006, 9:16 pm
Filed under: entree, recipe

Just like that Burden Brothers song, it’s a beautiful night. Tonight’s the first time I’ve ridden my bicycle since I moved to the apartment – actually, the first time I’ve ridden it since I left Portland. It felt great. The whole town is asleep at 8:00 on a Sunday night and no one got in my way. It was lonely, cold, quiet, and blissful.

I just did some quick errands: depositing a check, turning in my time slip, grocery shopping. It felt really good to be going to the store on bike again, and Kroger isn’t very far from my place. It is, however, going to piss me off if they don’t grow a bike rack soon. I realize this is Cookeville, not Portland, and there aren’t bike commuters at every intersection. Still, one bike rack is not too much to ask, I think.

I shall have to write them a letter.

I’m constantly finding myself more and more motivated to do something, something important, but I don’t know what my cause is. I thought about getting myself banned from Wal-Mart but that just didn’t seem right for me. It’s not that I shop there often, or would even miss it, just that it seems a pointless gesture to make in the middle of Wal-Martburbia.

I know that I’m only one voice, I know that someone hearing my words may not make a difference. I realize on the other hand that if I say nothing and stay silent then there’s not even a chance to make a difference.

To what cause should I apply my voice? I can’t make the decision, maybe because I can’t even come up with interesting prospects.

Ah, well, the entirety of my time is occupied with school, work, and red beans ‘n rice anyway. Right? No? That’s a cop-out?

Hey, speaking of red beans ‘n rice, and of Kroger, i.e. food in general, I have a recipe that I’ve forgotten to share with you. It’s an old one from the parents’ food library. Let’s see if I can remember it off the top of my head.

B. Rhea Memorial Soup

You need a crockpot to do this correctly (in other words, with the minimal amount of effort) though I suppose you could do it in a large stock pot.
1 lb hamburger
1 can whole kernel corn, undrained
1 can green beans, undrained
1 large potato
1 large can (30 oz?) stewed tomatoes

1 whole white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced or minced
2 cups water
2 tbsp beef bouillon
(or instead of the two ingredients above, substitute 2 cups beef broth)
Worscestershire sauce

1.) Brown and drain ground beef
2.) Quarter the potato and slice thinly
3.) Put potato, beef, corn, green beans, and tomatoes in the crockpot and get it started
4.) Sweat the onions and garlic (in the butter) in a small saucepot over low to medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes until translucent and soft, covering if necessary
5.) Add water and bouillon (or broth) and bring to a boil.
6.) Add a pinch of salt, a dash of Worcestershire, and a blop of honey
7.) Once the fake onion soup is hot and mixed, add it to the crockpot.
8.) When the potatoes are soft, it’s time to eat.

That’s it – really easy, and a great hearty winter soup.

Caveat: last time I made this, I didn’t need quite all the tomatoes, so you eyeball it, okay, and make sure it’s as tomatoe-y as you want it to be.

Thassit. I gots to go study some Spanish and think of a recipe for Tuesday. I’ll try to keep you posted.