Saturday, February 28, 2009

It is a very dark day.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

early birding

I like being on campus before everyone else gets here. I mean, I don't have to be the only person -- that would be creepy -- but I enjoy the quiet freshness in the morning. It's not the lack of people and activity; staying late in the evening when nobody is here anymore does not seem to have the same effect. It's the cool, still damp air. It's the extra time I have to prepare mentally, unhurriedly, before my morning class. It's feeling like the day is fresh.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the lunch routine

I can't say that I have a lot of routines. Or maybe I do have routines, but they aren't conscious ones.

I am on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays (at least). This semester I have developed a Tuesday/Thursday lunch routine. I get lunch from the salad bar on these days. It
is the sort of salad bar where they weigh you food, and you pay based on how heavy your plate is. I get the smallest plate available, which is not a plate at all but a rectangular-shaped tray, the sort that french fries were served in my junior high school cafeteria. I load the tray in the following order:

spanish rice (approx 1 scoop)
black beans (approx 1 scoop)
pineapple chicken (3-4 pieces, which probably comes out to 2 oz.)
cooked plantains (2-3 broken broken pieces)
romaine lettuce with occasional slice of tomato (until the tray fits no more)
topped with about 2 Tbs of guacamole

(I would call the ordering of salad bar items atypical in that salad bars generally start with lettuce, then you add stuff on top. Secretly I wonder if this is all part of the plan to encourage customers to load up on the heavy (thus costly) items in a diet that runs opposite any sort of Volumetrics plan.)

I have my money out or easily accessible, and am ready to put my tray on the scale as soon as the person in front of me in line vacates their food from it. My lunch costs between $3.50 and $4.50, and as soon as I know this, I move my tray off of the scale so the next person can put their food there. (Secretly, I pride myself on being very efficient at this, and feel slightly superior to those who fumble for money and allow their plates to linger on the scale, holding up the rest of the line.) I move myself and my lunch over to a small table which holds a huge bin of plastic forks and another huge bin of spoons. The counter next to the table also has a small bin of pepper packets and a small bin for salt packets. I take one of each in my left hand, tear openings into them with my right, and try to sprinkle salt and pepper evenly across my food, which from the top, looks like romaine lettuce and guacamole. Grab a fork and wedge it into the food so it stays. And I'm on my way.

Routines are good for me because I'm not a particularly decisive person. Having this certainty of a non-decision reduces stress from my day. But I did not go out of my way to create this routine -- it just happened. Call me boring, but I wouldn't mind having a few more routines.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


There is a window of time in which it is possible to be on time, and after that, I find that I don't really care anymore. It's possible that I should treat 'on-timeness' as a continuous variable, but in my mind it feels so binary.

Friday, February 20, 2009

from expectations to execution

Particularly when something bothers or upsets me, if I step back for a moment and think about it, it is inevitably a case of the situation not matching my expectations. I expect that this is why special occasions become stressful for me. I have a mental schema of what birthdays, holidays, etc. are supposed to look like, some pre-existing notion in my head of how things are supposed to go. But instead of doing something about it or communicating these expectations, I just expect them to happen. This is the perfect setup for FAIL.

Possible solutions:
1. get rid of expectations
2. do something to bring about expectations

The last couple years I have focused on option 1 a lot with little success. Perhaps I will look into option 2.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I mixed tea and hot chocolate together

8 oz. hot water
1 black tea teabag
1 heaping tsp of Ghiradelli hot cocoa

It's pretty good. One might describe it as chocolatea.
I like to try new things.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

the service man came to check out our plumbing problem

Apartment living takes away some of a man's opportunities to be manly.

Friday, February 13, 2009

valentine's day plans or lack thereof

Some thoughts regarding the upcoming Valentine's Day:

1. I used to REALLY like Valentine's Day. Strangely, I think all the years I really liked Valentine's Day happened while I was single. To me, then, Valentine's Day was about expressing love to everyone, friends and family. Valentine's Day was not about romance but appreciation and gratitude. I took the opportunity to be a reminder to myself to love others. What happened?

2. I guess that happened was that I succumbed to all of the socio-cultural hype. The norms inculcated into me by popular media and, perhaps more disappointingly, my social network and/or friends. When people start asking whether or not you have Valentine's Day plans, you start thinking that you should, and if you don't, there's obviously something wrong with you or your relationship.

3. But I didn't buy into all of the social norms, particularly, the one that says that the entire burden of responsibility falls on the man (in a heterosexual relationship). I also don't think the proper way to celebrate or acknowledge Valentine's Day necessarily includes chocolates, candy, and flowers. Although having a more restricted sense of what the holiday entails would be so much easier.

4. Instead, there is now lots of ambiguity. Nobody is really in charge (unlike birthdays, in which case the non-birthday-haver should take more responsibility for planning). There's no specific script to follow -- buy a gift, buy no gift, go out, stay in. And if there is anything I have discovered about myself (or that has been discovered onto me) in the last few years of living, it's that I deal with uncertainty very poorly.

5. So all in all, my feelings about Valentine's Day are mixed. Even more so because of all the newspaper, magazine, and blog articles about how to celebrate Valentine's Day without breaking the bank (given the economic crisis and all) suggesting that a really great way to celebrate Valentine's Day on a budget is to "Make your partner a home-cooked dinner." Because it'll be really special and all. Maybe it would be more special if I didn't already do that five times a week.

I think I would be much happier back at one.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The story of my Kindle

I bought myself a Kindle back in June as a graduation present, and as something to make the train rides to work a little faster. I really liked it, basically for all the reasons people were supposed to like it; and then I broke it.

It turns out that "forgetting that the Kindle is in your backpack and thus throwing it over a fence" is not covered by Amazon's warranty. Yes, I was also surprised to learn this. It also turns that replacing the screen is prohibitively expensive, so I went back to paperback.

But now there's a Kindle 2, and I have to decide whether I'm willing to risk another relationship with a beautiful but fragile device. It seems like it's better than the Kindle 1, but not fundamentally different. Same price, specs improved by ~20%. Since I loved the first one, this seems like it ought to be a good thing; but I was still hoping for something... new.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

a nearly empty nest

When we found out one of the two female rats we'd adopted might be pregnant, we had no idea what we were going to do. When 12 baby rittens popped out, we still didn't have a clue. Overall, I've discovered that Facebook was pretty useless, and Craigslist pretty good, for findings baby rats new homes. Now we've got just one little guy left (schedule to be picked up this weekend), and I feel both relieved and a smidgen glum. When I separated the baby boys from the girls (at 5 weeks, to ensure no more accidents), the girls' cage seemed so lifeless and sparse.

I hope we raised the rittens well. I hope they make others happy and enjoy their lives.

Monday, February 2, 2009

good things

I played tennis four days in a row. Thursday -- class at Central Park. Friday -- practice match with Harish, Chris, and Lisa. Saturday -- 7.0 mixed league in Redwood city (6-2, 7-6) and today's 8.0 mixed in Burlingame (unfortunately, 1-6, 4-6 and Alex watched us get crushed). Concurrent with my rediscovery of tennis I have also had the first time discovery of pain to the back of my right hand. Initially I associated the pain with a past wrist injury. But then I realized it's in a totally different spot -- not the wrist. This is good because the previous injury prevented me from playing altogether due to pain. The current injury just produces pain when I hit shots a certain way, like when I try to add a lot of wristy topspin to my backhand.

Yesterday and today I decided to take some Tylenol before my matches. I think it helped with the pain. Specifically, I didn't feel like I was hitting shots in such a way as to minimize pain. Instead I was just hitting the shots that seemed like good ideas strategy-wise. I think that's the way to go.

I worry about overdoing it though. I guess what I wonder is whether it's reasonable to play through the pain, and the pain is just a sort of nuisance. Or whether the pain is trying to tell me something, like "Hey, lay off the tennis a bit." I worry that by continuing to play I might be worsening the condition, or worse, causing some permanent damage. For now I just hope (perhaps too idealistically) that the pain will go away on its own. Because I'm not yet an old person.

I have enjoyed playing tennis. I feel like my doubles game is getting better, and today I had quite a few decent points at the net. I'm excited for the rest of the season's games.