Monday, October 26, 2009

Potpourri No. 26

A few days ago, I started writing a post and never finished it. I tried working on it again the next day, and it just didn’t go anywhere. I think it’s partially because I’m under the weather. And so, having wanted to post but not having it in me to write much about anything, I’m falling back on doing yet another potpourri post.

Sick & Tired
Over the weekend, I came down with a cold. I’m still feeling rather blah, but it fluctuates quite a bit throughout the day. Truth be told, I’m glad I haven’t felt worse. The illness hit me on Thursday afternoon. At noon, I was feeling a little bit sick, and by 5 p.m., I was feeling like crap. In my own experience, this was quite strange. Often when you’re getting sick, you might feel it creeping in throughout the day, so that by the time you go to bed, you feel slightly yucky, but then you wake up feeling horrible. It was weird to me to take such a nosedive over the course of a few afternoon hours. I was really worried I’d wake up on Friday morning feeling sicker than I have in years, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. Still, it’s been enough that I have little momentum and quickly run out of whatever momentum I’ve got. It’s perfect timing, in some respects, as I’m actually fairly caught up on everything I need to be doing for school. I have a paper due a week from today, but I have nothing between now and then to stand in my way. Not even basic class readings, which I’ve already done for this week. Nice. But, despite it all, I’m staying home from my afternoon class today. If memory serves me correctly, this is the first time I will have missed a class since becoming a grad student over three years ago—not counting the several that I missed after getting in a car accident, which I guess was plenty, but they weren’t nearly so voluntary.

Happy Anniversary … You Know, Last Week
Last week, Melanie and I celebrated our four-year wedding anniversary. I probably should have acknowledged it by now, but I was worried I’d end up saying the same exact stuff I said last year—that I can’t believe we haven’t been married much, much longer than that. Four years sounds so insignificant for being such a significant part of my life! But anyway, we kept celebrations to a minimum. We’re hoping someday in the near future to go out on an actual date, just the two of us, but we’ve yet to arrange it. For now, we settled on having a really nice dinner at home—which was quite generous on Melanie’s part, because she orchestrated the whole thing. She made homemade manicotti, with fresh spinach and fresh garlic among the stuffing ingredients, and an extremely delicious spinach salad with strawberries, pecans, and a yummy poppy seed vinaigrette. It was fantastic. I’ve really been blessed to be married to a woman that is so fond of stretching her culinary muscles. I’ve been the lucky recipient of many delicious forays into what is, for us at least, uncharted gastronomical territory. It’s the slightest touches that make me feel so incredibly pampered—fresh parsley in the chicken fettuccine alfredo, fresh basil on the homemade pizza, etc. These things not only kick everything up a notch, they make me feel spoiled rotten. In fact, it gives me new perspective on that old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I fell in love with Melanie long before I tasted anything she had made, but maybe the point of that saying is not that you can make a man fall in love with you by feeding him well (although that probably has some merit), but that you can make him feel loved by feeding him well. In my case, that has certainly been true. Thanks, darling!

Getting Punk’d
Somehow or another, I’ve ended up on a punk rock kick lately. It’s always refreshing to change musical gears a little bit, and this has been particularly revitalizing for me. It’s made me eager to play more guitar and do more songwriting. I’ve even found myself writing music in my head with a frequency I haven’t done in years. Time and time again, I have admitted that one of my greatest fears in life is not doing more with music and then regretting it. It’s not like I want to be a touring musician, but surely I could play guitar and write songs regularly, right? Anyway, it’s been a lot of fun to listen to some of the old bands I already had some decent exposure to (such as Dag Nasty, Descendents, and SNFU) and to discover some of those bands whom I had heard of but, outside of maybe a song or two, not really heard. I’ve found a couple that I’m extremely excited about—Mission of Burma and Hüsker Dü. I’ve been able to listen to a lot of their material online, and I’m loving it. The guitarist for the latter band, Bob Mould, continues to make awesome (non-punk from what I’ve heard) music as a solo artist. I’m practically ready to add his name to my list of favorite musicians based on what I’ve heard of his work, solo or otherwise. It’s pretty darn exciting when you think to yourself, “I’ve got to buy this album” after hearing five seconds of one song by somebody. That’s exactly how I felt upon hearing the first five seconds of “I’m Sorry, Baby, But You Can’t Stand in My Light Any More” on Bob Mould’s MySpace page, and I’m not exaggerating. Awesome stuff. On the downside, by discovering all these bands, I’ve now added several dozen albums to my already extensive to-buy list. I can’t wait until I make the big bucks as a professional philosopher!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fickle Florida

Within the last week, this has happened…

That’s right. As residents of the Sunshine State, we’ve already had to turn our heater on. But don’t worry. We’ve since converted back to using the A/C. For now. But really, it just depends on the day. Florida won’t sit still, as far as temperatures are concerned. About a week ago, the daily high was still sitting in the mid- to upper- 90s Fahrenheit. Then, about half a week ago, the temperatures plummeted by 40 degrees. For three or four days in a row, the morning temperature (say around 8 or 9 a.m.) was in the 30s, and afternoon temperatures were in the upper 50s. Looking at the current weather report, we’ll be vacillating between the mid-70s and the mid-80s for our daily highs over the next 10 days. The anticipated low temperature tomorrow night is ten degrees warmer than the afternoon temperature was a few days ago. It’s somewhat maddening. I’m not keen on freezing yet—and yes, it does get surprisingly chilly up here in the Panhandle—but I’ve enjoyed this brief flirtation with autumn. I’d like it to stay awhile.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Belated Birthday Post

The past couple of weeks have been quite busy. Somehow, even though I have one less official class this semester than I did either semester last year, I have felt more busy than ever. In discussing this with Melanie last night, I realized I might not be any busier, I’m just not enjoying school as much this year as I did last year. Sadly, I don’t really care for my early modern philosophy course. And I’m also very uninterested in the class for which I’m a TA. In both cases, it has a lot to do with the style of teaching that goes on, and I guess that makes me resent any time I spend doing work for those classes. It makes it feel more like busy work than something for my own benefit. Anyway, my whole point here is to explain why it’s taken me so long to write about my birthday. I just got through the first crunch time of the semester, when myriad papers and other assignments are coming due at about the same time. The next couple of weeks should be a little bit easier going, so hopefully I’ll post a few times.

OK, so back to my birthday. By now, Melanie has already written a little bit about my birthday and shared some pictures. But even if you’ve already seen Mel’s post, I’ll be adding some details and offering some new pictures here, so hopefully this will be fun for those out there who care enough about me to want to read these kinds of things. Let’s start with the wonderful birthday dinner Melanie made me. My mom has always made excellent pot roast, so we got some reminders about the techniques she uses, and Melanie whipped up (probably not the right expression for pot roast) a delectable hunk of meat served with carrots and well-cooked (and therefore non-obtrusive) onions. I also requested “funeral potatoes” and crescent rolls. Everything tasted excellent. In fact, writing about it makes me sad that it’s gone. We got at least three decent meals out of it all. It was nice.

The meat.

The potatoes.

The veggies.

The bread.

The crescent rolls were a particularly popular item at the birthday dinner. Here, Eddie teases the camera with a delightfully flaky treat.

When it came to dessert, Melanie made the coolest, most fun birthday cake I’ve ever had. She’s always done such wonderfully sweet things with Eddie’s and Peter’s cakes, so quite some time ago, I said she should make me a Ms. Pac-Man cake for my next birthday. She made up her mind there and then that she would do that for me, which was very loving of her. But if that weren’t enough, she made it a hummingbird cake, which is something we’d never even heard of until fairly recently. It’s kind of like a cross between carrot cake and banana bread (in fact, it has bananas in it), and it may very well be the best cake I’ve ever tasted. With a cream cheese frosting and crushed pecans to boot, it’s exquisite. But I got just as much delight out of the way the cake looked. Melanie prepped it the night before my birthday, and every time I saw it, I couldn’t help but smile. It was a delight, in the truest sense of the word.

The coolest birthday cake ever!

A 31-year-old man tries desperately to blow out the candles on his birthday cake. To signify the number "31," Melanie put three candles on the left side of Ms. Pac-Man's bow, and one on the right side. Clever!

But who can forget presents? Yes, Melanie even gave me some presents. And some pretty good ones, too. I hadn’t asked for anything and didn’t have any idea what she might get, but as always, she proved to be an impressively thoughtful wife. The first gift I unwrapped was a set of large cereal bowls. I’ve told Melanie before that I like large cereal bowls, but until my birthday, we only owned a couple that fit that description. It’s been fun having them around. Next up, Melanie bought me two new pillows. I haven’t had new pillows in a while, and the ones I had were getting pretty flat. The new pillows are wonderfully puffy and cloud-like. Sleeping on them has been rather luxurious. Finally, Melanie gave me a pair of ottomans. Well, that’s what I call them. They are footrests, but I don’t know what technical criteria must be met in order to be called an ottoman, properly speaking. They’re not big enough that I’m inclined to view them as a piece of furniture, so if that makes a difference, so be it. Regardless, they serve the purpose of letting me put my feet up while sitting on the couch, which is awesome. As I mentioned soon after we bought our couch, the seats aren’t as deep as they could be, so there doesn’t seem to be a lot of support directly behind your knees when you’re sitting on it. Given the crappy condition of my knees (and my left leg in general), I sometimes find my knee aching quite a bit if I don’t straighten it. Occasionally, I even sit on the floor instead of the couch, for that very reason. Well, no more! It’s been great having something to prop my feet up on, and I’ve used them every time I’ve been on the couch since my birthday. It’s wonderful.

Opening up the birthday bowls.

The morning after my birthday, we used the new bowls with breakfast. Here, Peter appears a bit too excited about the food he's eating.

Eddie took special care to ensure he always slurped while using the slurp bowls.

Back to the birthday day. Here I am, hugging some much appreciated pillows.

Eddie, Daddy, and the Ottoman Empire.

Peter demonstrates an alternative use for the footrests, makeshift stairs, a favorite among the 3-and-under demographic.

As a final note, Melanie also ordered me a set of Coca-Cola drinking glasses with that distinctive Coke glass shape. They’re cool and fun to drink out of. They didn’t arrive until a couple of days after my birthday, so I don’t have a picture yet. Maybe someday. Also, Melanie gave her mom a suggestion, and so I got a couple of boxes of (somewhat tattered) raspberry-filled donuts from Hostess, the kind you can’t buy on this side of the U.S. All in all, it’s been a really fun birthday.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I turn 31 today. Funny enough, this strikes me as even more significant than turning 30. By turning 30, I reached my thirties. But now I’m actually in my thirties. I’m not just 30, I’m thirty-something. Somehow it’s a big difference. Maybe it’s because 30 just seems like the last year of being in your twenties. I could believe that.

For being my birthday post, I don’t have much to say. I have a crap load of essays to be grading, so I can’t have as much fun today as I’d like. Not that I even know what I’d do for fun if I could do whatever I wanted. Not grade essays, I guess. But I do look forward to this evening. I’m going to try to have some downtime with the family. Melanie’s being incredibly sweet and making me a wonderful dinner of pot roast, “funeral potatoes,” and more. And she’s made a cake that is incredibly cute and fun. I’ll keep the details a surprise until I actually have pictures to post (which I promise to do soon). It’s great, though. She prepped it last night, and every time I walk by it, I can’t help but smile and giggle with glee. Oooooooo, and did I mention it’s a hummingbird cake? No, it doesn’t look like a hummingbird, it’s a hummingbird cake, a delicacy that Melanie and I recently discovered and that made me take seriously the usually sarcastic quip, “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” If polygamy were legal, I would consider it.

I guess that’s about all I have to say. I’m getting boring in my old age.