Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Inch-Worm Jungle of Death

As part of an exploration/deer survey of our local mountains, Seth and I went up Hobbs Canyon this weekend. There isn't really a trail that goes up there so we pretty much had to blaze our way up through the oak brush along the ridge. Not exactly the most fun or effective way to hike, but it was definitely adventurous.

Overlooking Layton area (that's Antelope Island in the background)

While fighting our way through the oak brush, we saw what must be the largest colony of inch worms in the world. All the oak brush leaves were hashed to bits and the little inch worms were hanging by their silk threads off of all the trees. We must have picked off about a hundred of them throughout the day. We kept finding them on our hats, crawling up the backs of our necks, and making their way up our backpacks and pants. I've never seen anything like it.

I did take a picture of the millions of worms, but it didn't turn out too well. So look at Seth in this beautiful meadow instead.

This was my favorite conversation snippet of the day:

Seth: {pointing at the surrounding bushes} I'd say a hippo came through here about three hours ago.
Karen: Really?! I had no idea we had hippos here! We better get some hippo spray.

Probably the best part of the hike was seeing all the wildflowers in bloom. I couldn't believe how many different flowers there were.*

Seth doing his part to repopulate the endangered dandilionus giganticus

*Stay tuned for your infallible** guide to identifying Utah wildflowers!

** OK they're probably all going to be wrong, but at least there'll be pictures of flowers. Identifying stuff is hard.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today's Special: It's All Good

Balsamic Grilled Portobello Sandwiches with Goat Cheese and Roasted Peppers- New Recipe. Wow these turned out so good! Seth mentioned at least 3 times during the meal how awesome they were. Very easy to make and healthy to boot! This is definitely a keeper.

Shaker-Style Smoked Chicken Thighs and Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob- New Recipe. This turned out really good despite the fact that I didn't actually do any of the smoking as stated in the recipe (too lazy, too hungry, and no wood chips). Also, just as a tip for all you chicken barbequers out there: use chicken thighs! Chicken breasts have to be cooked "just-so" on the grill in order for them to not turn out dry. Chicken thighs keep their delicious texture and are more forgiving if you overcook them a little. Plus, thighs are much cheaper and quite frankly I think they taste better too. I was able to pick up 2 pounds of chicken thighs for only $2.50 and easily removed the skin myself (you can buy them boneless and skinless).

If you've never grilled corn on the cob, it's time you had. You can get fancy with putting butter and such inside the husks beforehand, but I always just throw the corn on the grill (husks still on!) and rotate them every 5 minutes or so. They're done when all sides start to blacken a little. Mine were done at the same time as the Shaker chicken this time around. Oh and if you don't want to burn your flesh off but still want hot corn to eat, shuck the ears while wearing oven mitts, works pretty good!

Cassoulet-Style Chicken Thighs- New Recipe. I'm always a little wary of these crazy bean recipes, but somehow they turn out surprisingly good! I think white beans are my favorite. They have a great creamy texture and a nice mild buttery flavor. My food processor was my best friend when I made this. I used it to turn 2 pieces of wheat bread into crumbs (and blend the oil into them), chop the onion, and mash up the beans. That food processor saves me so much time. Anyway, this recipe is a keeper!

Mama Hanson's Fish Stew- New Recipe. One day Dad Hanson raved to me about this "tomato based fish chowder" Mama Hanson had made. He said, "It's the best chowder there is to be found and all gourmet fish places should hang their heads in shame." I knew I needed the recipe. Mama Hanson is a soup/stew guru so I felt very privileged to gain access to this recipe. It didn't actually come with instructions, just a list of ingredients, so hopefully I made it right. I thought it turned out very well and was even better the next day (which is usually the standard for soups).

Mama Hanson's Fish Stew

 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced thinly
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 (28oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 bay leaf
1/8-1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 lb. cod fillets, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 lb. white fish, crab, or shrimp
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Add green pepper, red pepper, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook until onions are translucent.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes, basil, thyme, turmeric, bay leaf, and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes (for thicker stew, leave off lid).

Add all fish/crab and continue to simmer until fish is cooked through (about 5-10 minutes more). Garnish with parsley and serve.

Serves 4-6

Monday, June 28, 2010

June Book Reviews: "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," "Born Standing Up," "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl," "Into the Wild," & "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"

My Rating System: Ok*, Good**, Great***

Rating: *

This is a non-fiction book about the author and how he helps raise his young brother after his parents both die within a few months of each other.

I had never heard of this book until I saw it on CD at the library. The title caught my attention and the cover stated that it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was featured in the New Yorker. So, of course I had high hopes. Unfortunately it didn't deliver. Now to be fair, I listened to this on CD. I found the narrator's voice very grating and annoying. I have a feeling I would've liked this book more had I actually read it. Even so, I found the author to be very self-centered. I think he just wrote this book to get sympathy and money. Nothing much ever really happens and I felt like I was reading a bunch of promotional crap for this guy between all of his name dropping, subtle plugs for MTV's "The Real World," and stories about starting up his "mold-breaking" magazine, "Might."  I had no idea my friend Heidi had read this book before but it made me feel better to know that she didn't like this book much either (see her comments here).

by Steve Martin
Rating: **

This is Steve Martin's autobiography about how he got started in his career by doing stand-up comedy. Seth and I listened to this on our road trip to Las Vegas and we both enjoyed it. I liked that Steve Martin was the actual narrator which gave this a bit more character. It was funny but with bits of seriousness and I thought it was a great insight to his life and how he got to where he is today. I find myself liking him even more than I did before after reading this.

by Anne Frank
Rating: *+

This is a book about a young teenage Jewish girl and her experiences during the Holocaust. Now, I don't want to diminish the importance of this story in any way (being the classic that it is), but aside from small tidbits here and there, there wasn't much of a story here besides Anne Frank and seven other Jews hiding out in a "secret annex" during the war. It talks about what they eat and how they live and a couple minor scares of almost being discovered, but that's about it. The rest of this was basically just like reading a regular teenage girl's diary about how they are so picked on by everyone, how nobody understands them, and all the boys they currently have a crush on. But like I said, don't get me wrong, I think it was important Anne Frank kept a diary about this time in history, but there just wasn't a whole lot to it... mainly just a teenage romance. I actually found the added ending which told what happened to Anne and her family after being caught by the Gestapo to be more interesting.

Now, I'm normally pretty tough on anything deemed as a 'Classic.' I feel like if it's a Classic, it should beat the pants off of most other books out there. With that said, I would say this has some important historical insights into the life of a Jew during the Holocaust. As far as being a great literary Classic? Not so much.

by Jon Krakauer
Rating: **

This is a book about a young twenty-something college graduate who decides to cut ties with all his family and possessions in order to explore the country and ultimately the Alaska wilderness. It also includes stories of the author and other men who have had similar experiences.

I thought this was an interesting book and it was cool to get a few more details of this story after having seen the movie version. I did think the book got a little long winded though. There seemed to be a lot of unnecessary tangents and/or extended explanations and reiterations of certain topics. This could have been shortened considerably without harming the story. I think actually for once in my life, I liked the movie better than the book.

by Betty Smith
Rating: **

This is a book about a girl named Francie and her life growing up poor in a Brooklyn neighborhood. This book took me a couple months to get through. The first 100-150 pages were kind of slow going. After that it was pretty good, but never riveting. It wasn't a book I couldn't put down or wanted to spend every moment reading. It was good, but not great. Which after all I'd heard about this book, was a bit of a let down. I kept comparing this to Angela's Ashes and thinking how much better that book was, even though the story lines are very similar. Yet another disappointing Classic.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Meh. Think Up Your Own Damn Title.

I don't really have anything to say tonight, but that's OK. I'm just relishing the rare moment I have during the week to just sit and relax and do nothing. Most days when I get home from work, time just seems to go by so fast and before I know it, it's time for bed and I haven't done much of anything. Tonight I came home from work and declared that tonight we were eating leftovers. And I don't feel like running. So I'm going to sit here on the couch and watch my t.v. shows and read my books and click around on the Internets and just do nothing. And it's all just as amazing and wonderful as I hoped it would be.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Running with the Loogyman

It's only mile one in the 10K but already I'm dreading the next five miles. Sure, the race is going to be tough, but I never planned for this. I've heard about these sorts of people but have yet to encounter one in real life. I've managed to fall into my running rhythm right behind him: The Loogyman.

Loogyman is a middle-aged guy. He's wearing a red sleeveless shirt and running shorts and looks like every other male runner out here (except for that one guy with the appallingly short flappy shorts *shudder*). And yet, he's not normal. Not normal by a long shot. And I'm stuck here running with him, against my will.

Every fifteen seconds or so I hear "HAACK SNORT PHLOOP!" as Loogyman hocks yet another loogy. Mile after mile this putrid man jabs at my gag reflexes making me wish I'd chosen to run the short children's race instead. But no. I'm here. Dodging loogies.

At around mile two or three I finally catch up to Loogyman. And then I pass him. And then I can't hear his loogies anymore. But then it's mile four and Loogyman is catching up again. I hear the dreaded sound behind me... HAACK SNORT PHLOOP! HAACK SNORT PHLOOP!!  NO! Loogyman is catching up with me!

My tired legs can't run any faster and soon Loogyman is on my heels. Then we are neck and neck. Then he passes me. It's mile 5 and Loogyman passes me. He is slowly gaining ground and I soon realize it is impossible. Loogyman is going to beat me. Did you hear me?! I said I GOT BEAT BY LOOGYMAN!

I still have a good half mile or so to go when I come to terms with this shameful truth. It is something I'm just going to have to accept. As I come down the home stretch I see strangers cheering me on. Then I see friends and family cheering me on. I kick it into high gear and finish with a burst of speed: 56:36... I've done it in under an hour. And I feel a sudden euphoria of pride and joy.

As I come through the chute and catch my breath, I see the familiar outline of a stranger. It's Loogyman... My Running Nemesis. "You beat me this time old man," I think to myself, "but next time you won't be so lucky. I'll be back for more and when that time comes, I'm going to smoke your Loogyman butt."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Today's Special: A Whole Lotta Food

Turkey Soup- New Recipe. This is the recipe that saved Seth's wild turkey from culinary disaster (long story short, it was way too salty after I roasted it). This soup helped tone down the saltiness of the turkey a lot and made it not only edible, but incredibly delicious. The recipe name doesn't sound too fancy, but it was some of the best soup we've had in awhile. Definitely a keeper! (p.s. I substituted corn for carrots because I didn't have any).

Basil Pesto Pasta- New Recipe. This pesto turned out so good! Even better than the stuff in the jar I buy at the grocery store. I have to admit I was a little scared to try it, but I was pleasantly surprised. Very fresh tasting. Oh, I did sub pecans for the walnuts. I also used this on gnocchi instead of regular pasta.

 Fajita Burgers- New Recipe. These were really spicy so watch out if you're cooking for kids. They were a bit crumbly but I think it was because I didn't chop up my onions small enough. Seth really liked these, but I thought all the stuff mixed into the burgers was a bit overwhelming. I'd probably tone it down a bit next time. Also, the roasted peppers were good (Seth made them!) but not sure they were worth the effort. I'd suggest using some store bought roasted red peppers in a jar. I think this would actually cut back on the spiciness too. Oh and one more tip: Don't eat one of these right before you go running. Bleh.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Chive Sauce- New Recipe. This turned out ok... maybe a bit on the bland side. I think it would've been better had the sauce simmered longer and/or the flavors had more time to meld. Definitely not bad by any means, but nothing spectacular.

Mediterranean Tuna Panini- Repeat. These were Seth's exact words the other night when I made this... "This one of my favorite things you make." Enough said.

Granola Bars- New Recipe. This is another Alton Brown recipe. I wanted to try and make my own granola bars for a couple reasons. #1 Store bought granola bars are pricey #2 Store bought granola bars aren't that good or filling or healthy. I wanted to make my own granola bars so I could control all those variables and I have to say my experiment worked pretty well.

There were a couple changes I made to this recipe. I couldn't find hulled raw sunflower seeds at the grocery store, so I just left them out. Also, I tried using agave nectar in place of honey. For my dried fruit I used a mixture of regular and golden raisins, dried cranberries and I believe there were some dried blueberries in the mix as well. These turned out pretty well. They are more of a soft granola bar and mine were a bit crumbly, but not too bad. I read reviews on the recipe that said these were hard to cut or really crunchy... I think this may be the difference between the honey and agave, but I'm not sure. I've already bought ingredients to make a second batch and I think I'll try using honey this time to see which I like best. I'll let you know how it goes.

Ok so update on that last paragraph. I made a second batch of these with honey and they turned out even better I think. I let them cool in the pan this time and I couldn't get them out. So, I nuked it in the microwave for a minute to soften it up and then it came out... in pieces. I would suggest baking this then right away (before it cools) dump it out onto a cutting board and press it together/shape it and then let it cool.

p.s. These were made in a 9x9 pan and I cut them into 8 bars- using these proportions the granola bars have about 400 calories, which is a good sized breakfast. Perfect for my drive to work!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Put the Bake in Bacon

Have you ever tried baking your bacon? No? Well let me tell you... DO IT! Need more convincing? OK then. Here are the reasons you should give it a shot:

  1. Your house won't smell like bacon for a week (if you like your house to smell like bacon for a week then this probably isn't for you).
  2. All the bacon slices cook evenly.
  3. You won't get splattered with bacon grease.
  4. You don't have to flip it over.
  5. One less thing to watch while you make your family breakfast in the morning.
  6. No messy cleanup.
  7. You can cook a lot at one time.
  8. It's extremely easy.

If that didn't convince you of the awesomeness of baking bacon, I don't know what will. Here's how you do it...

Cover a baking sheet with tin foil.

Place a cooling rack inside your foil lined pan and spray it with non-stick spray.

Add as many strips of bacon as you would like, but make sure there is a little space in between so they cook evenly.

Put it on the center rack of your oven and turn the temperature to 375 deg. F. (no need to preheat!)

Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes (depending on how thick your bacon is and how crispy you like it).

and WA LA! Perfect bacon! And it's done as soon as you're done making the pancakes!

The best part is, there's no messy cleanup! I let the fat cool down and solidify, then put the cooling rack in the dishwasher, wad up the tin foil from the baking sheet and throw it away, and put the perfectly clean baking sheet back in the drawer! How awesome is that?

Get in the Kitchen and Bake Me a Pie

For a couple years now I've been living with the stove/oven from hell. It's old. It's ugly. The oven temperature settings are off by +50 degrees. The heat seal around the door is bad which caused the cabinet to turn black. There is no window to look inside the oven while baking. The stove coils are not removable and don't sit flat. And there's only ONE large coil and 3 small ones. It's amazing I can cook any edible food at all because it's pretty much the worst stove ever.

This week Seth and I needed to renew our lease and I finally decided to gripe about this stupid oven and try to get a new one. At first they just offered to send in a serviceman to look at it and I was crushed. But after the serviceman gave it a look over, he decided it was junk and installed a new one. Praise the Lord!

You guys, I came home from work yesterday and as soon as I opened the door I heard angels singing from the heavens. There, glistening in all its wonderful glory (I'm pretty sure I saw a large halo over it), was my new stove. A brand new white stove already installed and waiting just for ME. And it has TWO large coils on the stovetop. And a window AND light in the oven. And removable coils. And a timer and clock.

I raved and raved to Seth all night long about my fabulous new stove. How beautiful it is and how wonderful all these features are. How clean and bright it makes the kitchen look. And look at these biscuits I made for dinner, don't they look AMAZING? I could tell they were baked perfectly because I looked at them through the oven WINDOW!

Oh new oven, how I love thee. Let us never part! (until we move) *tear*

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Guest Post by Seth: "Turkeys in the Mist"

After several weeks of scouting around and a few close calls, I slipped into my blind very early on a Saturday morning feeling confident that this was going to be my lucky day – the day I killed my first wild turkey. The day before I watched through binoculars as a half dozen toms strutted their stuff in this very clearing and now I was positioned right at the edge of it. Well before sunup, a young deer passed within 10 yards of where I was sitting. I made some turkey calls and that little deer turned around and stared for several minutes at this strange, shadowy creature in the oak brush but never spooked. Not long after that, a moose came grazing right up behind me. She was so close I could see her eyelashes and hear her chewing. But again, the moose simply moved on past with little more than a few curious looks. I felt like I had passed some sort of inspection and my confidence increased even more.

I was sitting on the ground in a small thicket with my back against a tall, sturdy scrub oak and my shotgun resting across my left knee so it would only take the slightest bit of movement to bring it to my shoulder. It had rained the night before so the ground was soaked and I was grateful for the old wool coat I had brought along to sit on. On the ground to my right I had my calls laid out within easy reach.

Beginning at daybreak, I could immediately hear toms gobbling and hens yelping. After a long night up in their roosts, they were flying down to meet up just as they had been doing every morning for over a month. However, they were probably a good half mile away so all I could do was listen to their calls and try to join in whenever it seemed most natural. With a combination of a slate/scratch and mouth diaphragm calls, I was doing my best to sound like a hen who was waiting eagerly – but not too eagerly - for the right tom to come along and sweep her off her feet.

Over the course of the month-long season, I had learned that turkeys are like elk and most other wild animals in that they like to follow the same daily routine. This makes ambush a good strategy and I was determined to remain as motionless as possible and simply wait them out. This is easier said than done however and it took a lot of willpower to hold tight. Earlier in the season, I would have been sneaking down the hill towards them at the sound of the first gobble but I’d learned the hard way that turkeys have excellent vision and are especially good at picking up movement. So this time around, I merely shifted into a slightly more comfortable position and continued to wait.

I had been holding tight for a good 2 – 3 hours when suddenly I heard a much louder gobble no more than 100 yards away. I made one last hen yelp on my scratch call and then settled into shooting position. And - just as I had hoped - my yelp drew an immediate response and I felt certain that at least one tom was heading my way!

A few minutes later, I caught motion out of the corner of my eye – three hens moving up the hill about 20 yards behind me. I didn’t twitch a muscle. I moved my eyes again and saw what looked like two toms winding their way through the brush. They looked big. I shifted ever so slightly so the barrel of my 12 gauge was pointing at the spot where I thought they were most likely to appear. As they approached, one tom turned left to follow the hens but the second turned right and took his first tentative steps into the opening. I held my shotgun tight to my shoulder and remained absolutely still. With my heart pounding, I watched out of the corner of my eye as the young tom took his sweet time and milled slowly towards me. And then – just as I thought he might come into the blind and sit down next to me – he turned and stepped right where I hoped he would. The shotgun roared and the turkey was down. I couldn’t believe it! After starting out the season as a complete novice, I had actually pulled off a successful turkey hunt!

After the turkey finished its inevitable thrashing and I knew without a doubt he was dead, I was immediately filled with a combination of elation and gratitude. I felt deep respect for the bird and I also felt grateful for many things – grateful that I was alive and able to experience a wonderful spring season of turkey hunting, grateful for my very good fortune, and especially grateful that I was able to deliver a quick, clean kill.

Eventually, I picked up the surprisingly heavy bird and slung him over my shoulder for the long hike out. As I was walking, a pretty little hummingbird came buzzing by to see what was going on and – for whatever reason – this little fellow accompanied me almost all the way back to the car. It was the perfect ending to a great hunt and I can’t wait until next spring when I can get back out there and do it again.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Village Bicycle

This is a list of some of the vehicles I've driven in my lifetime... not necessarily owned. Most model years are approximations.

1. Chevy S-10 Pickup 1996
2. Dodge Ram Pickup 1998
3. Ford Ranger Pickup 2001
4. Jeep Wrangler 1998
5. Nissan Quest Minivan 1994

6. Toyota Corolla 1996
7. Subaru WRX 2004
8. Nissan Xterra 2001
9. Pontiac Grandprix 1998
10. Mazda 3 Hatchback 2006
11. Honda Accord 1994
12. Toyota 4 Runner 1986
13. Hummer H1 1993

To see more Thursday 13 participants click here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

If a Cookbook and a Computer Had a Baby...

... You'd have the most awesome new kitchen tool in the world. A laptop.

Ok Ok, I know a laptop is a computer DUH. But have you ever thought to use it in the KITCHEN? Maybe you're technologically extreme advanced like me and started using one years ago, but for those of you who haven't, it's about time you gave it a shot!

Let me take you back to over a year ago...

My awesome computer genius brother-in-law, Eric, likes to collect old computers. He saves them up for parts or fixes them and then he gives them to lucky people like me who happen to come over for dinner. It's like a parting gift at the door.

One day after receiving the blessed laptop gift I was rushing around trying to get dinner ready when I saw the laptop sitting on the couch. At the time we didn't have a router and had been bumming wi-fi from the neighbors (bless their hearts). I set up the laptop on the counter and clicked on the Internet Explorer logo and TA DA! The Internets were alive in my kitchen. My life has not been the same since.

I've got almost all my personal recipes on Recipezaar so I can just open it up and search for the one I want. And if I'm using several recipes, I open another browser window and with one click I can switch between the two... no flipping pages back and forth. Or, if you like to plan your meals each week (like I do), make a list of recipes hyperlinked to their respective webpages (or bookmark one of my fabulous "Today's Special" posts... hint hint) and then there's even less searching around on meal night. The laptop takes up a lot less room than a giant cookbook and makes recipe organization much easier. Plus, no wasted paper or printer ink!

Your laptop doesn't need to be fancy. It's best to have an Internet connection (I bought my router for $40), but if you don't want to post all your recipes online, all you need is a text editor (i.e. Word). Just think of all the possibilities! With all your recipes either online or saved on your computer, it's possible to take them anywhere. Keep them all on a thumb drive on your keychain so you can use them on vacation. Or send a friend the link to the cake recipe she asked for. It really is so convenient. Give it shot if you haven't already... I guarantee you'll never go back to your regular cookbooks.

p.s. I keep the laptop up high on a counter so I don't spill on it but I've seen people actually build retractable shelves just for this purpose. One day I shall have a laptop shelf of my very own.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday 13: Things That Must Go

  1. "Yellow" trucking company and their ORANGE trucks.
  2. Fast food places (i.e. Taco Bell) reinventing the taco every week. It's all the same thing! 
  3. Cabelas Catalogs... seriously guys, this is getting ridiculous. First the mother-of-all Cabelas catalogs. As if that weren't enough, we've recently received the following individual catalogs: fishing, fly-fishing, archery, hunting, men's fashion, camping, and boating. I'm sure there are more than that. Seth actually made a comment the other day about how he thought maybe Cabelas had gone out of business because we hadn't received any catalogs lately. I informed him we had in fact received two that week already... I'd just picked up the mail so he hadn't seen them. I half expect to see the following catalogs from Cabelas sometime soon: elephant safari, deep sea fishing for great white sharks, night vision special, and taxidermy.
  4. Women's clothes being twice the price of Men's (and they still don't fit right).
  5. The built in bagging scale on the 'self-checkout' lanes at the grocery store. I scanned the stupid item... why you need to verify it's sitting in a bag? If I wanted to steal said item, I would have!
  6. And along those same lines... grocery stores that get rid of all but two standard checkout lanes (one of which is 10 items or less) and have 15 other self-checkout lanes (all filled with people who couldn't check their own groceries if their lives depended on it). Can you tell I'm the one who does the grocery shopping?
  7. Cell phone companies still charging by the minute and for every single little application. Maybe I would buy your stupid iphone if I didn't have to give you the equivalent of a monthly mortgage in usage fees each month. Until you charge reasonable rates for these minuscule services, I'm keeping my outdated flip phone with accompanying antenna. Go ahead and try and take it from me. I dare you.
  8. Also related to cell phones is the slang word for application or "App." I hate that word. "Apps" this and "apps" that. You can take your stupid "apps" and stick 'em where the sun don't shine.
  9. Refilling my flour container. Or sugar. Or anything that requires me to pour out of one of those giant dog-food type bags. It's impossible to do this transfer without creating a white powdery mess.
  10. Twitter. The most pointless and annoying invention ever.
  11. The Redbox a block away from our apartment that never EVER works.
  12. The typical sunscreen smell. I don't know what chemical gives it that smell but I hate it. Maybe I've just been conditioned to hate it because I'm forced to wear sunscreen wherever I go. Why haven't they invented a sunscreen pill yet? It would probably cause abdominal cramping and cottonmouth, but at least it wouldn't smell or drip into my eyes and sting.
  13. Cleaning my computer keyboard. It's pretty much impossible. They need to make these things machine washable.
To see more Thursday 13 participants click here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May Book Reviews: "Freakonomics" & "I Thought My Father Was God"

*So I only finished two books this month. And they were both audiobooks. George W. Bush is totally kicking my butt.

My Rating System: OK*, Good**, Great***

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Rating: **
It's hard to describe what this book is about... even the authors admit there isn't really a "theme." But if I had to peg it down I'd say it's a book about why some things are the way they are. Like, if drug dealers make so much money, why do they all live at home with their moms? Or what caused the huge decline in crime over the last decade or so? This was a very interesting read with a lot of surprising facts and discoveries about the world we live in and our society. A good book for any of you who have an interest in psychology or sociology. I'm sure I'll end up reading the follow-up book "Super Freakonomics."

I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales from NPR's National Story Project
by Paul Auster

This book actually turned out to be something totally different than what I thought it was. I didn't realize it was a compilation of stories from many people. I'd never heard of NPR's "National Story Project." Apparently Paul Auster started it and basically asked people to send him short, true stories. I'm not sure if they still do this on the radio, but this book was a collection of a few of the stories sent in over the years.

I really enjoyed this book. It was amazing to hear all these stories from all these people... some sad, some happy, some unbelievable. It was a perfect audiobook for my daily commute because of the short story format. It's something you can pick up and put down and not have to remember a long story line or what was going on. Highly recommended.