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8:33 am - Thu 2/13/03
A New Discovery: Heat Make Food Taste Good

A New Discovery: Heat Makes Food Taste Good

Wed 2/12/03 9:00 pm

Day Two of my vacation. Day Two of rain.

Now I'm amused...

(I don't think there's been two straight days of rain in the almost two years since I moved out here. And rain is in tomorrow's forecast as well...)

Moved my car this morning. Went out to check the mail this afternoon. Got a Diet Coke and a bag of Cracker Jacks at the gas station down the street.

But mostly I've been in my apartment the past two days. It's not exactly how I planned this week off--I was envisioning a little shopping, a movie or two, perhaps a lovely lunch at one of the outdoor cafes along 3rd street--but it's not all bad; I've got a computer, a tv, a dvd player, and a vcr (I could even read were the mood to hit me, though the mood hasn't seemed to be hitting me much lately), so it's not as if I can't entertain myself. I've danced around the apartment (Though I seem to have hurt my left foot while busting some particularly slick move), played harmonica (Mostly along with a Sugar Blue cover of "Little Red Rooster"), and strummed on my guitar And the less I go out, the less my recent infusion of cash gets spent on candy and gum.

Still...I'm starting to really want to go out.

Well, in part because I've been housebound the past couple days, I finally faced my fear...and got out the chicken that's been in the fridge since Saturday.

I don't think I've ever handled raw chicken before (If so, it's been awhile). And you know what? It's kind of gross.

(And Jane told me she gets chicken breasts in a big bag, 4 lbs for $11, but I must have missed the "bargain chicken" aisle at Ralphs, cause I ended up paying $8 for just three lousy breast "fillets". But anyway...)

Everything was frozen to everything else--the breasts were all frozen together in a lump, and the lump was frozen to the package--so I ran hot water over everything, until I could pry one of the breasts off with a butter knife. Then I microwaved it for two minutes, so it would be soft enough for me to cut into strips (Jane had sent me some chicken recipes, and in her instructions, said that the chicken cooks faster if you cut it up. That being the case, I doubt I'm ever going to be cooking chicken breasts whole).

From there, it was my intent to do "Oriental stir fry", but I didn't quite get there. When I got the frozen stir fry vegetables out of the freezer, they were in this solid block, and I couldn't figure out how the now partially-cooked chicken and the totally frozen vegetables were going to meet together in the frying pan and come out at the same time, perfectly cooked.

So I put the vegetables in a casserole dish and microwaved them for 8 minutes, as per the instructions on the bag (I thought I'd have leftover vegetables when I was done, but they ended up making one Jim-sized serving).

(After the fact, I realized I could have just microwaved them for half the time, then finished them off on top of the stove. Live and learn...)

Then I cooked the chicken on the stove, turning the strips over until both sides were kind of seared (I didn't know if that meant the insides were totally cooked or not, but decided to hope for the best).

After that, I put the vegetables and the chicken in a large bowl (Not a mixing bowl. More like a large cereal bowl), and poured a quarter cup mixture of soy sauce and lemon juice on top of it (I didn't know if I was supposed to do that or somehow put it in with the chicken while it was cooking. I also forgot the brown sugar).

(I went a little overboard with the soy sauce/lemon juice mix, but that was okay; It was pretty tangy, but I'm up for "tangy" as a rule.)

And there it was--An honest-to-goodness meal. It was warm, it tasted good, and I didn't get sick and die afterwards, so I'm going to call it a big success.

(I actually had bigger success with the chicken than I did with the Jiffy Mix blueberry pancakes I tried to do last night; Basically, I had a hard time not burning them up. But I did get a few edible pancakes out of the box, and I enjoyed licking the bowl afterwards...) __________________________________________________

Made the first serious use of my 401K money today, to pay some bills.

I've been worried, since getting this money, that I'm going to mess up somehow. I'm paranoid that there's some perfect way to disburse these funds and I'm not going to figure it out; I'll just throw all this money at my bills, willy-nilly, feel good about it for a few weeks, then before I know it, be right back where I started from, minus a retirement fund.

That's my fear.

The only thing I was certain I wanted to do was pay off my Discover Card bill--my largest bill--pay Cary back the money I owe him, and make sure Mark and Jane got something (They haven't seen any car loan payments from me in awhile, which has really bothered me). And today I was able to do all that (I also paid about two-thirds of my balance on a Capital One Mastercard account I closed some time back). I felt guilty that I didn't send Mark and Jane more, but I think they'll understand.

It's not enough money to do everything I want to do right now--pay all my credit card bills, pay Mark and Jane off completely, get a new wardrobe, get a new cd player, sign up for some kind of acting classes, etc and so forth--but it's "better than a poke in the eye", as the saying goes.

And here's a nice development I hope will stretch Jim's minimal fundage; Cary is getting a new computer, so he's going to give me his old one!

It's basically the same deal as when John O. gave me his computer--Cary's computer is old, but it's still an improvement on what I have (350 mhz processor, compared to my 200mhz; A ten gig hard drive, compared to my 2.1)--though I'm hoping that while John's computer died on me shortly after I got it (A fried modem), Cary's computer will last me till I'm in some kind of shape to afford a new one (Right now, I'm living in fear of the computer I have biting the dust when the last thing I could afford would be a new computer). And of course, I'm hoping it will enhance the "computing experience".

(Right now, I have my original IBM Aptiva CPU and mouse, but am using the monitor and keyboard from John's Sony Vaio. I think of it as "Frankenputer"...)

Well, as usual these days, there's loads more to say, but I'm fading here--I started this originally at 9:00, but it's after 2 am now--so I'm going to call it a nite...


I've gone back and forth, and back again, on whether or not I wanted to see Daredevil this Friday.

The very first time I saw a photo of Ben Affleck in the costume--which has been changed from red spandex in the comic to some sort of leather jumpsuit--I wasn't impressed. I thought he just looked silly (Would he have looked sillier in red spandex? I don't know).

But beyond whether he looked "silly" or not, I thought it was bad casting; In the right movies (Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting), I like Ben Affleck quite a bit. But he's never, in my mind, projected a lot of depth, or mystery, or sex appeal (In spite of what People Magazine has to say on the matter). As an actor, he seems to me to be a likeable lightweight, and when "comic book movies" work, I think it's because the actors can bring a little more to the table than that (Christopher Reeve in Superman, Tobey Maguire in Spider-man, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in X-Men, etc).

But beyond his casting--which is a pretty big thing to get beyond, since he's the lead--I had other "issues" as well.

I love Jennifer Garner--I watch Alias every week--but she's not "Elektra". The character's last name is "Natchios", for one thing, and Jennifer looks like a nice girl from West Virginia, which is what she is. She's the fantasy "girl next door", not exotic, dangerous, "Elektra Natchios" (This kind of casting annoys me, when they go with someone who's "hot", whether or not it fits the character).

And why make "The Kingpin" black? He's been a big fat white man for 25 years in the comic book (Basically, he's Sydney Greenstreet, with the ability to personally kick your ass if you cross him). It just seems kind of arbitrary; If something has worked for years, why change it for no reason?

But all this said, I felt myself starting to get "sucked in" by the constant ads on tv. And wrong-casting or not, I do love Jennifer Garner. And Colin Ferrell looks like he's having a good time as "Bullseye" (Though again, it's a totally different conception than the comic, except for his gift of perfect aim with anything he can get his hands on. A power, by the way, that I think about a lot, for some strange reason. I guess I'm attracted to the idea of having a talent for using what's at hand).

Who knows? Maybe it would be fun.

Then I saw longer clips, as Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner started appearing on talk shows, and what I saw really bugged me; None of the characters in the movie are supposed to have super-powers--They're basically just great, gymnastic fighters--but in the action sequence I saw, they were moving around like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the CGI were very obvious and distracting.

In Crouching Tiger, or The Matrix, the characters can do what they do because they're in a fantasy world. In Spider-Man, or on Buffy, the characters have special powers that explain their ability to climb walls or kick serious vampire ass.

But I don't feel like you can put characters in what's ostensibly "the real world", and give no explanation for their ability to ignore the laws of physics; It seems obvious the director just thought it looked cool, was aping the other movies, and didn't care if it made no sense.

And when I go to a movie, whatever genre it is, realistic or fantastic or whatever, the thing I want more than anything else is to believe. If I can't do that, I don't really see the point.

And then yesterday, I started reading some reviews...

From what I've read so far, the consensus seems to be that it's a stinker (I do read reviews, and pay attention to them as well, particularly if they confirm my own doubts about a film. I probably wouldn't if I had unlimited time and money--I've said before that if that were the case, I'd probably see everything out there--but I don't, so I do).

So I said all that to say this; I'm not going to go see Daredevil.


11:05 am

Water issues in the building...again.

Makes me wish I'd done laundry at some point over the past two days, when it was raining out and I had all the time in the world, instead of holding off until today.

But who knew? (I blew $2, on washers that filled partway then stopped, and I'm not sure the two loads of laundry that did get washed went through the complete cycle. But they're in the dryer now, so we'll hope for the best.)

Today there's only something like a 40% chance of rain. And rain or not, I have to go out and do something today; If I spend my entire week off cooped up in my apartment, I know I'm going to be pretty unhappy when I have to go back to work on Tuesday.


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