The inconspicuous glass cube

I finally made a trip to see Apple’s Fifth Avenue store. I expected it to stand out but it was rather inconspicuous. I almost missed it. Saw and handled all the new iGadgets. Unfortunately, I had to rush off to get a quick lunch and then to the Broadway theater to catch Les Miserables (I paid too much to miss a single minute of it), so no time for me to tinker with the stuff. Check out more photos here.

Les Miserables

Lea Salonga

I bought a Broadway ticket to watch Lea Salonga in Les Miserables this Saturday. I’ve been a fan of hers since Miss Saigon, and that’s in the early 1990s. Now I finally get to see her perform live. I also paid big bucks to get a seat that’s 5 rows from the stage. My previous two Broadway shows, I was up in the balcony, way in the back…cheap grad student tickets. I hope this will be my most memorable Broadway experience.

Indian cuisine

In the midst of my comprehensive exam, I took a break and co-hosted an Indian food dinner party for my fellow special ed coursemates. I made tandoori chicken, tikka tempeh (my own invention), and tikka paneer. Just one week ago, I had no idea what paneer was. I needed to make a vegetarian tandoori dish, so my Indian coursemate suggested making paneer, and I was like, “Paneer? What is that?” It’s actually a block of fresh cheese Indian-style. Here’s the menu (top right going clockwise):
1. Jeera rice (wonderful spiced basmati rice)
2. Kasoori methi mushroom (mushroom, fenugreek, cream sauce)
3. Tikka tempeh (strips) and tikka paneer (the mess; tandoori marinated cheese)
4. Aalu gobi matar (cauliflower, potato, peas dish; I love this)
5. Rajma (red bean curry soup)
6. Samosa and Dhania chutney
7. Tandoori chicken
8. Raita (cucumber and yogurt)
9. (Not in picture) Mango ice-cream made from coolwhip and mango pulp (absolutely delicious ice-cream made by my Romanian coursemate).

I watch a lot of Food Network and the chefs are always talking about setting the dinner table, coordinated table-cloth and dinnerware, and a floral centerpiece. I look at this picture and I see the messy uncoordinated containers and no table-cloth! But I like it, it’s a big welcome sign that says “just dig in and enjoy!”

In two weeks time, our group will be having a Slavic dinner party. That should be interesting, let’s see if the Slavic chefs do a better job presenting their cuisine 🙂

iPod Nano: Race of generations

Here is one reason I’ve been out running/walking consistently the past few weeks, I’ve joined one of Nike+ challenges and I’m among many runners running for the Ist generation of iPod nano. The Ist gen (represented by my black nano) and 2nd gen (represented by Victor’s silver nano) have been neck to neck the whole time, but it looks to me like 2nd gen is winning 🙁 Since the challenge ends September 18 at 5:59pm, I’m going to make sure I add another 6K to Ist generation by the deadline. 1st generation is going to win because 2nd generation is only climbing 10 flights of stairs at the moment…hahahaha!

Eesshhh…2nd gen won.
But I did run 61.28km for 1st gen.

How I hate auto-rheumatism!

All of a sudden the weather changes and the temperature drops to 18C (daytime) and 6C (nighttime). I just close the apartment windows, put on a jacket, and I’m ok.

The passat, however, is more susceptible to the cold weather. In an instant, I encountered several of the car problems that I had last winter (e.g., stalling, electrical shut-off, car alarm problems), plus one new BIG problem….the audio player is now in SAFE mode and will not play! I guess the funky electrical problem that I had last night really messed up the player. Now I drive around in complete silence. Having music in the car is the highlight of driving, now driving has become rather intolerable. It’s funny, I can deal with a chronic leaky power steering rack and no air-conditioning, but a non-functioning audio-player pushes me off the edge.

After spending a whole night of problem-solving googling and finding forums like this (plus I called my dad), here are some things that I’ll need to do to hopefully clear off the first round of auto-rheumatism:

1. I need to locate the specific radio code to unlock the audio player anti-theft mechanism. I’ve looked through all the documents and manuals that the previous owner left me and no radio code. So tomorrow, I’ll have to check the trunk and look at the area around the spare tire for the 4-digit radio code. Why spare tire? Because in some of the online forums, some people found the codes there, supposedly left by the dealer.

2. If I don’t find the code anywhere, I will have to try to remove the player (following instructions that I found online), get the VW code on it somewhere, call a VW dealer and get the radio code from them. I’ve learned that some dealers will charge money just to provide the code, so I may have to call several dealership to find one that will do it for free.

3. If I’m not able to remove the player on my own, I may have to bring it to a dealer and have them remove the player, get the VW number and then the radio code. They will probably charge me $90 for the labor, OR I could go to circuitcity and buy a new in-dash player for $99 and have them install it for free.

4. I’ll have to check the fuse box and look for blown fuses, go to a store, buy the specific fuses and replace them. I suspect that the radio and cruise-control fuses could be broken.

5. I’ll have to check the terminals on the battery for signs of corrosion. And possibly take it to Kleins to check if the battery needs to be replaced.

6. I’ll have to get the car washed. There’s like tree sap (or amber in Jurassic Park’s terminology) and other stuff on the car that’s corroding the paint. After fifteen months, a car wash is waaaayyyy overdue (and very much needed).

Sometimes I wonder if all this effort, headache and money put into the car is worth it. Would I rather go back to my days of limited mobility: walking to the nearest not-so-fresh market and buying only what I can carry with both hands, waiting at bus-stops, taking the bus, and following the bus-schedule, relying on rides from friends, and weekends stuck in Duh? Unfortunately, it’s not a choice – I’m expected to have a car, and that includes all the problems that come with maintaining a car.

Confirmed – it’s soybean

Two months ago, I wondered what were those plants planted beside the cross-country trail. Well, it’s confirmed, they are soybean. The other day while I was out on my run, I stopped, looked around, stretched out my hand and plucked a single soybean pod 😛

When it first became obvious that those plants were soybean, I had this thought of fresh green soybean (edamame) from the fields. But after waiting several weeks, the soybean pods were still rather small. This particular soybean pod is only half the size of edamame, I guess no fresh edamame then. These soybeans will probably end up becoming animal feed, like last year’s corn.

Happy Birthday, Papa!

I was thinking of getting myself a nice not-my-birthday cake at Vegan Treats, but at $6.50 per piece they are quite pricey, so I got some nonvegan treats at the local grocery store instead. Whoopi pies = whipped cream sandwiched between two vanilla cakes. They are pretty good.

This morning was bad. I was awaken at 8am by apartment-mate’s loud animated phone conversation…uhhhh!!! And then the building’s fire alarm went off at around 8:20am and I really had to get out of bed and leave the building…. AHHHH!! We were finally allowed back into the building sometime after 9am. There wasn’t any fire or smoke, no idea what happened to trigger that alarm.

“Turun harga”

I’ve been downgraded 🙁

When I was a research assistant in a research grant, I had an office space with a desk and a computer in a large busy research center. Lots of things going on, people having meetings, walking in and out….a real research community. Now that the research grant that I was working on has ended, I’m now “just” a graduate assistant to my prof, helping her complete the remaining work of the now defunct grant. Since I’m not in a research grant anymore, I’ve been banished from the center and had to move to a student “suite”. I don’t even get a proper desk, just some sort of counter space and no computer. And to make things worse, most of the other students in the “suite” are away on their practicum and are seldom around but yet they hog the desks. Although I’m told that I could use any of the desks when the other students are not using them, it’s still not my desk and my space. I really hate this new arrangement. Now I’m torn between (1) boycotting the counter space or (2) reclaiming the space by totally decorating and personalizing the area.

Comps is over…almost

At last the big day came, I went through 4 hours of continuous typing, didn’t even have time to read over the stuff before I handed it in. This has got to be the fastest 4 hours of my life, the time just flew by. With this, a big part of comps is over.

It’s just one of those anti-climatic moments. I had planned to go for a nice Indian buffet lunch with my study buddy, and then for some retail therapy on my own. But both of us were totally drained and our appetites also went down the drain, so we just went somewhere to eat something simple…not much of a celebration meal. Then I went back home but felt like I needed to go somewhere, so I went to watch Becoming Jane in the theater. First time ever, I had the whole theater to myself.

During the exam, we had a choice of using either the Mac or PC to type out our answers. I chose the mac, my two friends chose the PC. At the end of the exam, it took me about a minute to burn the files on to a CD, but it took one of my friends at least 30 minutes to do it with “help” and “suggestions” from numerous people. For the other friend, even with all the “help” and “suggestions” it wouldn’t work, so I helped her saved the files onto a USB thumbdrive then took it over to the mac to get the CD done…so much easier. Now I know why I love the mac. Hmmm…this scenario makes a good Mac vs PC commercial.