Reasons Why Christmas was Awesome

Yarn:


Doctor Who:


I have a thing for daleks if you couldn't tell.

My brother and I with our matching dalek shirts and our respective sonic screwdrivers (I have the 9/10 version, he has the 11 version).

SO MANY MOVIES:


And this. Especially this:

If you haven't seen it, and have Netflix Instant, go watch it. Watch it now. It's amazing. Think you like Robert Downey Jr. Holmes? This one is far superior. This isn't just me speaking - this is everyone who's ever seen this. Seriously, go watch it now.

Oh, and there was this other stuff that was awesome too (missing: my amazing gifts from Catie and Mahati):


Also:

Explaining what a MMORPG is (along with other types of video games) to my parents when they've had too much wine over diner.

No dud gifts (no, really, not one. It's a true Christmas miracle).

Assassin's Creed Revelations. I don't actually play, but my brother does, and the story is so darn good, and the graphics and fight sequences so amazing, plus the fighting style is one of my favorites, that it's ridiculously fun to just watch (while spinning or knitting, of course). It's what we did last Christmas: he played Assassin's Creed Brotherhood his week of break, while I figured out the whole spinning thing, having just received my first spindle.

Harry Potter. We re-watched Deathly Hallows Part II last night. I wasn't too thrilled with it when I saw it in theatres, but enjoyed the film so much more when we watched it last night.

Beat that.
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Rhodion

It's done.

And it's gorgeous.





Pattern: Rhodion Lace Shawl, by Elizabeth Freeman
Yarn: Knit Picks Shimmer, in Spice
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Delicious Weekend

This weekend was filled with exceptionally yummy food. Here's a sampler:


These were gluten-free cranberry-lemon corn muffins for Lindsay's Classy Sunday Brunch this morning. I used this recipe, and added chopped cranberries, lemon zest, and a touch more sugar (including a sprinkling of sugar on top of the muffins). There was also sparkling apple cider, and champagne, as today is Michelle's 21st birthday. I didn't partake in the champagne, but everyone else had mimosas.

Tonight's dinner:

Standard baked acorn squash with butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. It's one of my favorite things in the whole universe.

Yesterday I made this gingerbread cake box mix thing from Trader Joes' that my mom sent me:

It's delicious - just like everything from Trader Joe's is.

There were also multigrain biscuits yesterday (courtesy of multigrain Trader Joe's Bisquick), but those are already gone, so no picture. 
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Wetsuit Burn

So, I went diving yesterday. No pictures, sadly, because it was a skills dive for my Advanced Open Water certification, and I had other things to focus on (like maintaining my buoyancy and remembering how to properly use a compass... underwater). Somehow, on my second dive, my wetsuit got all awkwardly bunched up at the back of me knees, and now I have this nasty wetsuit burn there that's irritating every time I bend my legs. Compensation: a stingray, a sea turtle, and praise from Richard (the instructor) that I did everything perfectly. 

Friday was the peak of the Homecoming festivities (FYI, last week was Homecoming week). The parade every year stinks, and the usual lakeside viewing for the boat burning and fireworks was going to be restricted to at least a quarter of the usual area - i.e. everyone's packed like sardines - so Jen and I opted to watch from the top of the parking garage at the UV. The Towers blocked the view a bit, but it was still enjoyable, if a little long.




On the knitting front, I've mainly got socks. Two pairs of socks and my lace, actually. Socks are coming along well, and so is the lace, except for the fact that I discovered I dropped a stitch in the middle of a cable and now there's a large hole in the middle of it, but it should be relativity easy to fix(?). All I can say is, thank goodness for complicated knitting, because without it, that stitch would have run all the way down the piece in no-time, but the cable turn stopped it in its tracks. 

Pair #1 of the socks is for my comparative physiology reading:

And pair #2 is for class:

Oh, and there's a Jackalope:
Pattern: Jackalope, by Hansi Singh
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver, in Painted Desert
Caron Simply Soft, in Blue Mint and Off White

The Jackalope's for my physics TA, Nick. 

Let me tell you about Nick: this semester, for the first time, he decided to take on not one, but two, discussion sections (a mandatory homework review session each week where we turn in our homework and take a quiz) because he needed the money. This entails giving up up at least an hour of your life each week (three for Nick because he took on two sections), plus you also get to grade part of the tests for the class. Nick is a last-semester PhD student, meaning that this is the semester when he's writing/finalizing his thesis, and defending. In sum he's really pressed for time. And what does he do? Halfway through the semester he decides to hold extra two-hour sessions every week (that he's not getting paid for), because he feels like the class really needs it. I know if I hadn't gone to the one he held right before the last test, I wouldn't have done nearly as well as I did (did I mention he's also a really good teacher?). 

Therefore, Nick deserves a Jackalope. 

Stranded

I apologize for the silence (no, not that kind of Silence) for the past week and a half. I kept meaning to do this really well thought-out and intelligent discussion of the tubular cast-off vs the invisible cast-off, with comparison shots of my endpapers and the latest socks. Never got around to taking those pictures. 

So, here you go, they've been done for about two weeks, just didn't get around to posting them:

Pattern: Endpaper Mitts, by Eunny Jang
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll, Bare
Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball, color #1702

They're my first go at anything stranded. It's not as bad as I thought it was - the last time I tried was over two years ago when I was just getting into the world of crazy knitting - but still not my favorite thing. I think I'll stick with intricate cables as my crazy-knitting-of-choice. 

Comparative Physiology

The past few weeks have been sort of nuts, namely in the form of scholarship essays, physics, physics, more physics, music compositions, physics, well, you get the idea. Which meant comparative physiology kept getting pushed aside, and only half a chapter of reading got done.

Leaving three and a half long, complex chapters on neural firing, synapses, sensory processes, and endocrine systems to read before my exam Tuesday, starting on Saturday. Clearly, the only way to get through this much reading (and I mean, all I did for three days was eat, sleep, and read comparative phys. I read for about 10 hours straight each day, at least), was to knit a pair of socks while doing so.

Start, Saturday afternoon, halfway through Neurons:


Saturday night, done with Neurons, halfway through Synapses:


Sunday afternoon, done with Synapses:


Sunday night, done with Sensory Processes:


Monday night, 2/3 of the way through Endocrine Systems (sock #2):

At this point, I was done with the material for the test, so ended my frantic weekend of Comparative Phys. I took the test, got an A, and was happy.

However, the socks still needed to be finished...
And textbooks don't suddenly get more interesting just because you've taken another exam...

Done with Endocrine Systems and Intro to Gas Systems:

And finally, done with Breathing Physiology:
Pattern: The Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula, by Amy Swenson
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Louet Gems Fingering, in Tropical Storm

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Nerd Humor

Normally, I detest puns in any way, shape, or form. But I make an exception for science puns, just because, well, geeky humor amuses me.

Lately I've run across so many funny science things, I just have to share them:

My AP Chem teacher apparently, on occasion, puts her fish bowl on a a magnetic stir plate, drops in a stir bar, and has her goldfish do laps. At least, this is what she told my brother's AP chem class.

Sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium, sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium, sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium BATMAN!

Know any good sodium jokes?
Na

Want to hear a potassium joke?
K

Two chemists walk into a bar. One of them tells the bartender, "I'll have some H2O please."
The other chemist, thinking this is a good idea, says, "I'll have some H2O too."
The second chemist dies.

What's a frat guy's favorite element?
BROmine!
(thank you Julie Sanders)

A cop pulls Heisenberg over on the highway. He says to him, "Sir, do you know how fast you were going?"
Heisenberg replies: "No, but I know exactly where I was!"

At a Galapagos Study Abroad info session earlier this year, two weeks before the application deadline, Jen and I were talking with Dr. Peterson, the director of the program. He said to us: "Study abroad is freaking out because there are only six applications in. I'm going, 'Six applications! That's great!' They clearly don't understand how scientists are with deadlines."

Yo mama's so ugly, even Flourine won't bind to her!
(again, courtesy of Julie Sanders)


That's all, for now!

Why You Really Should Rewind Your Sock Blanks

Start with this:


Which turns into this:



Then becomes this:



And finally this:





Some instructions are not meant to be followed.
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Poor Carnivore

Being a typical college student (aka pretty much flat broke, with almost all money I earn going towards paying for school), I’ve had to make some cuts to my diet. Namely meat.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m actually quite the carnivore (PIGS ARE DELICOUS), but meat is expensive. I’ve mainly been getting my protein from beans and rice, but there are only so many bowls of it that you can take. So I’ve been experimenting with how to veggie-ize some of my favorite meat-based recipes from home.

Basically so far I’ve discovered that beans and lentils make a great substitute for ground beef; lentils make a better loose ground-beef sub, and beans make better patties (it does require some food processing to do so, though). But today I moved beyond this: I discovered eggplant makes a great sub for chicken breasts.

My mom makes this great chicken dish – OK, well, it’s really just chicken breasts flattened with a meat tenderizer, breaded, and pan fried. But it’s SO GOOD! And great for picky small children (it’s one of the few things my brother would eat after he moved past his ‘chips with melted cheese’ phase as a small child to the more adventurous eater that he is now – it’s still one of his favorite meals). Well, it turns out that eggplant tastes pretty darn good when prepared the same way, minus the meat tenderizer.

Not that I was thinking this when I picked up an eggplant at the on-campus farmer’s market Wednesday (I’m really ecstatic that the market has made it’s return – I love the thing) when I picked up the eggplant and a couple of zucchini for zucchini bread. I just love eggplant, and hadn’t had a good one in a while, since all the dining hall ones are super seedy and tough. This eggplant was awesome though, and really made me remember how much I love the little vegetables.


To make this, it’s really just your standard bread-and-fry. Cut your eggplant into aprox. ½-inch slices. Flour both sides of your slice, dip both sides in beaten egg, and then coat each side with breadcrumbs. I used Italian-style panko breadcrumbs that had been languishing in the pantry for a couple months, plus some grated parmesan & romano cheese. You could probably just use normal bread crumbs, but if you’re feeling like some more flavor, you can just add some Italian seasoning to the crumbs (and cheese if you want it – I couldn’t taste it in the end, and would probably leave it out next time).

Heat up a skillet with a thin layer of oil in the bottom – not piping hot, probably around medium to medium-low. I used a combo of canola and olive oil, but that was mainly because we’re almost out of canola, and I didn’t want to use the last of it because I don’t know when someone’s going to go grocery shopping next. Though the olive oil did add a nice flavor. Cook each side until the crumb crust is golden brown. Remove from the skillet onto a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

Let it cool a little bit before eating. I served mine with one of those box rice mixes – long grain white and wild rice – because that’s what we do for the chicken at home, but it’s really up to you. Enjoy!

Tuesday

't was an interesting day today:

1) Amaranth porridge is disgusting. Don't try it. I had to resort to a couple of spoon fulls of peanut butter as my breakfast this morning. 

2) It's mandatory for anyone working in a lab to take this general lab safety seminar. The good thing is that it's a Webinar, so I could theoretically stumble out of bed, sign in, and listen while brushing my teeth, eating breakfast, etc. Except the only times these things are held are at 9AM on Tuesdays. 

I have class from 8AM-9:15.

Which, of course, meant me awkwardly opening my laptop on the middle of ecology (not really that awkward because most people take notes on their computer in that class), having my attention split, then closing the laptop, shoving it my backpack, riding my bike back to my apartment, all the while hoping the wireless connection stayed on so I still get credit for this thing. Luckily, it worked, and I set up my laptop in my room while going to find something else for breakfast because that peanut butter wasn't cutting it. 

3) I had the strangest dream involving some odd change to the Gaia layout - I haven't been on that site in years - stumbling upon my old physics problems in my room at home and bringing them back to Miami for Jen, RSMAS events at a fancy-ish Publix courtyard across from the Brickell metro station, and a strange mash-up of the 6th and 7th Harry Potter books in a tropical rainforest.

4) I rode my bike to Winn Dixie, for the first time acting completely as a vehicle, and not going on the sidewalks. It was fine - no one even honked at me. The only issue I had was that traffic was terrible, but that would have happened if I was in a car. 

5) Coming back from Winn Dixie, I encountered the stupidest Ferrari in the history of idiotic fancy cars: the guy attempts to do a U-turn on US1. At the intersection of US1 and Red Road. Right after the light for US1 turns green, and he pulls up far enough so that he's sitting literally smack in the middle of the intersection, perpendicular to traffic. 

NJ people imagine someone trying to pull a U-turn on 206 at the intersection with Flanders-Netcong Rd right by the high school at rush hour, except Flanders-Netcong has four lanes instead of two, and the drivers are reckless, inattentive, and highly aggressive. Doesn't work too well, does it?

6) I made yogurt rice to go with my lentils. Well, my very altered version of yogurt rice extracted from recipes on the internet. Basically I cooked white rice with some bay leaves, basil, and red pepper flakes, added plain yogurt to the desired consistency, and threw in a little bit of ginger, dry mustard, and parsley. It wasn't Mrs. Mokkarala's, but it made me happy. 

7) The new info desk is here! And it's an office desk, rather than the booth or kiosk that is actually needed. And I didn't even get to sit at it, because it came in this morning, and nothing is set up. I was in the back out of a sketchy, probably former ticket window or something. I just felt like I was working the middle school snack bar. 

8) My brother just realized that my dad was totally a hipster in high school. Because the pictures of him in hipster clothing and long hair, his eclectic music tastes, and boss four-channel stereo system that he had in high school (and still has) weren't enough of an indicator. 


And there was knitting in here somewhere...

Blue Heron

          Waking up at 7AM on a Saturday is never a pleasant experience. But it is quite worth it when it comes to diving, especially a dive as awesome as Blue Heron Bridge. Considered by many to be the best shore dive in Florida, and Harris to be one of the best dives he’s ever done (which is saying quite a bit – this guy lives and breathes diving), I count it among one of my favorites as well. It’s free, shallow (meaning the equalization issues that plague my right ear aren't inhibitory), and rare creatures seem to view this as their Mecca. There’s a new assortment of creatures every time I go, and some old familiar favorites as well. What better dive to try out my new camera and underwater housing?

            This dive has two parts, the fishing peer and the wreck. Usually I do the peer first and then the wreck, but Keith – the Dive Master for our group – decided to do the wreck first. On the way over, I just kept snapping pictures of everything I saw, exhilarated by the idea that I had a digital camera ten feet underwater:


We finally hit the wreck, which is really just a small little dingy.


It was exceptionally populated with fish this time.


Next to the dingy, there is a collection of shopping carts:

One of the locals steals (or used to steal – I can’t remember if he’s been caught or not) shopping carts, and sinks them to create artificial reefs. It’s one of the small quirks of this dive.

We saw a couple puffers and batfish over here, but no seahorses, sadly.


After we were done here, we headed over to the fishing peer. 


The most noticeable thing about this area is the plethora of huge sea stars and urchins:

These sea stars are the size of dinner plates, or bigger. And they really are everywhere.

I saw my first jellyfish while diving, but they were huge and pink and really easy to see and swim around.


Under the peer there were some huge schools of tiny silver fish, more batfish, and even a lobster! 



I was a really horrible dive buddy, as I was adjusting to both a new camera, using in a housing, and taking pictures while floating and getting pushed by the current. About halfway through the dive I realized I forgot to set the white balance, and slowly got used to the odd way you have to adjust the F-stop and aperture. It was really hard to see the digital screen sometimes, and the constant light-shadow-light-shadow was really messing with me. But now I just want to go on more dives, and take more pictures, as if diving itself wasn’t it’s own motivation.

If you want to see the rest of my pictures, they’re in a Picasa album here
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