Friday, December 31, 2010

Oh, Google


Well done.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From rainy California to wherever you are, I hope you are having an awesome end of December. I still have a week of my break left and I already got to play some ultimate in the mud AND reconnect with my friend.

This is the whole mud ultimate crew. Before picture.
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It rained quite a bit here in Southern California this past week. James and I were noting how much fun it would be to go out and play some and then Monique invited me to this game. Ahhhh! It was the most awesome. You could not change direction, accelerate or slow down without eating it. Our team lost pretty bad. But we were playing against the team who had Gabe, Melissa, and James. Those three are BEASTS.

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James guarding me. NO BREAKS!

I had to leave after an hour and a half, so I'm not in the after pictures but this should give you an idea of how the game progressed.
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Another game on the 29th! Yaaaaay! Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Break!

Oh, yes. This is A, she captioned this "mmm bigfoot like hashbrowns".

You know, it has been a week since I finished finals. I have done nothing but cook and wallow in self-pity because I'm not going to Russia. Well, guess what. I am going to man up, go on an overnight drunk* and then do the following:

1) learn to use vi like a real man (none of the "lll"-to-go-to-the-end-of-a-word and other such bullshit)
2) finish my iPhone app
3) try to do a Dropbox puzzle (you should try too!)
4) learn to make sounds with my mouth (from this book)
5) finish my resume and get the awesomest job in the world
5) complete all the jigsaw puzzles in the universe

Well, mainly the first two. If at all possible, I would like to do all that while giving Tillie a walk like so. (She is the sweetest dog in the world.)
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I know mouthsounds shouldn't be my priority, but man do I want to learn how to whistle to this song.


* This is a reference to Life Aquatic. overnight drunk (for me) = cheesecake drowned in sweetened condensed milk. I don't drink, you know.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Babulya is 69 (Happy December!)

My grandmother's name is Lidia. She is probably the best grandma anyone could ask for. She lives less than a kilometer away from my parent's apartment. We often walked over there, and on weekends V-rock and I would often stay overnight at her and grandpa's apartment. She would roast sunflower seeds and cook something awesome, and we would chill and play with the cat. (Cats lived and died, but they all had the same name - Moosya. It's quite peculiar.)

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Here is V-rock, I (being weird) and grandma (being awesome). She came to the U.S. to visit us a few years ago.

Let me give you another example of grandma being the best grandma in the universe. To this day she takes vacations (usually in September) to go to the Black Sea. (Black Sea? I'm not sure. It may be Sea of Azov.) Nowadays she goes with a girlfriend, rents an apartment for a couple of weeks and swims every day she is there. When I was born, in 1990, she took my brother (who was 2 at the time) with her on a vacation. How many grandmas would take a 2-year-old child on their only vacation of the year? She is a saint.

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Gah. I look like an idiot. But grandma...grandma is a fox - has always been and always will be.

I love babulya and miss her every day. Seeing parents complain about grandmothers "momming" their kids makes me appreciate how much I lucked out with parents and grandparents. Happy 69th, grandma! I can't wait until the day you move here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving!

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This was snapped (by my sweetheart) while I was working on my last lab report ever! I had a really good weekend. How about you?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Uh. My Head...

...feels like a dog's balls.

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I need to periodically do something other than sit on my ass at my computer all day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Score!

Two things:

1) I just finished the design project for my Operating Systems class. We implemented a file system in the last lab. We have to do one design project (it's like solving another problem in addition to the lab) and I chose crash testing the file system that we built. Another lab is due on Friday and I haven't even started (GAH!), but I'm glad this is over with. It is Week 8. Where did the time go? Our Digital Systems design project is still in the works and I will be heading over to the lab tomorrow for the day.

Anyway, design project on file system crash testing - CHECK!

2) I had a first pass for my classes yesterday and I actually used it. (I usually forget when to sign up.) I signed up for CS 131 (Programming Languages) and EE 115A (Analog Digital Circuits) and I'm glad I did.

I was going to switch sections, so I just checked the enrollment options. Look at this. All of them are closed! The enrollment hasn't even gotten to Juniors yet. Agh.
I believe it has to do with who is teaching the class. I had the option of taking it this quarter but I opted out because Professor Abidi was teaching it. (Check out his reviews.) He literally failed 30+ students out of his 60 student EE 115A Circuits class Spring quarter. So, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief and hurried to click Add Class when we didn't see his name.

On the other hand, it's an 8 am class. Ouch.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

R2D2 vs. Breadman

So, for my birthday James gave me a bread machine. It looks like R2D2, so that's the name it goes by now. However, earlier in the year Sue had told me that she had this Breadman laying around and that I could have it. In order to pick one to take to the apartment with me I decided to give these two a whirl. (This was in August.)

The test bread was brioche! I used The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook recipe. I saw it involved a lot of butter folding. It couldn't disappoint.

Results:
Breadman finished in 3 hours and 20 minutes.
R2D2 finished in 4 hours and 10 minutes.

Breadman's rise cycle was significantly shorter. R2D2 started baking when Breadman was just about finished. However, R2D2's cycle did include cooling down. I'm not sure this is a good thing, but R2D2 seems to blow cold air around the pan to cool it. So, the two loaves were cooled around the same time.

Another point worth noting is Artoo dances around the counter a lot. Last weekend I was making a sourdough loaf and neglected to put away the container of milk that was standing next to bread machine. The milk got knocked down on the carpet by Artoo during its kneading cycle. I was a huge mess. Ugh.

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Taste test:
I couldn't get enough of Artoo's brioche. No butter required. Breadman's wasn't as good. Too much crust? I decided I would make bread pudding using Breadman's loaf and save Artoo's for eating brioche plain. It was really good.

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It made excellent french toast a couple of days later too.
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And guess who moved in with me to my apartment? It's my little-naughty-milk-knocking-off friend Artoo.
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Oh, and how addictive are these stupid ass jigsaw puzzles? This was completed the August, the same day I did the bread machine testing. This panda kept me from checking on the bread every 5 seconds. (And that is very hard to do. It's like I'm expecting to see little gnomes kneading away in there and folding little pockets of goodness into the dough. Ugh, such an annoying habit.) The Bees, over here, helped me finish this panda-jerk. The white fur was just not cooperating, but we put it in its place.
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Homemade Noodles

I've never made fresh pasta. I wanted to make it when I was in Russia. Unfortunately I never got to it. But mama did. I think I was sick when she did this. (I got this awful sore throat and fever when I was there. Agh!)

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People in Russia don't even know there is such a thing as chicken stock. No doubt it's an awesome thing to have around. But dudes. Chicken soup started with just chicken and water is really good. I was eating this when every swallow was awfully painful but what happened in my mouth before every swallow was completely and totally awesome. To top it all off: fresh noodles.

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The FAM (plus a friend of the family). Grandma is already working on that soup. So cute. Gotta love papa's satisfied face and ULTRA-bright shirt. Grandpa is looking fab, as always.

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WE LOVE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP! Thanks, mama.

Carrots and Raisins

Carrot cake is one of my favorites. It's not too sweet, you can put raisins in it and the frosting is pretty delicious with it. I made this the night before leaving for Russia this past summer. I was trying to decide what recipe I should use. I had The Joy of Cooking and Baking Illustrated (America's Test Kitchen) recipes in front of me. I decided to use America's Test Kitchen's recipe. It was really easy and turned out really well.

The recipe is straight from Baking Illustrated. (It is an awesome book.)

Carrot Cake
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound (6-7 medium) carrots, peeled
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups canola oil

Directions:
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position; heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray the parchment.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
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3. Grate the carrots (should turn out to be about 3 cups).
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4. Add the carrots to the bowl with dry ingredients and set aside.

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5. Use a food processor (I used a mixer. Cleaning the food processor is too much work.) to mix both sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined. With the machine running, add the oil through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process until the mixture is light and color and ell emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl.

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6. Stir in the carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no steaks of flour remain.

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7. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time. Cool the cake to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours.

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Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool
5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 tbsp sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) confectioners' sugar

Directions:
1. When the cake is cool, process the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla in a clean food processor until combined, about 5 seconds, scraping down the workbowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the confectioners' sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.

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2. Run a paring knife around the edge of a cake to loosen it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, peel off the parchment, then invert it again onto a serving platter. (You might not have a serving platter big enough for the cake, but everyone should have cardboard boxes and foil. I took a box and covered it with foil and used that as the platter.) Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the surface of the cake.

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3. Cut into squares and serve.

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Eleanor: Good-bye, Steve.
Steve:
Don't say that, even if it's true. Don't say that. It's too painful.
Eleanor: What do you want me to say?
Steve: Say bon voyage.
Eleanor: Bon voyage.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Fire

Sometimes I can't believe I've been living in the U.S. for 7 years. Part of me thinks I've been here my whole life and part of me can so vividly remember the first few months here that I can't believe it was that long ago.

My brother listened to a lot of Eminem at that point and, simply because we spent a lot of time together, so did I. (I was listening to Britney too and somehow Eminem and Britney just complemented each other in my brain.) I remember really identifying with Eminem's lyrics and being inspired by them. Everything was new and kind of scary. Plenty of embarrassing experiences came out of my first year in the US, and the way I think I dealt with those was through Eminem's songs.

Lose Yourself, Sing for the Moment, Love Me after failures, when I needed to get back up and keep working. Without Me, Just Don't Give a Fuck, When the Music Stops when I accomplished something I was striving for. (Add the Beg for Mercy G-Unit album to the I-feel-pimpin' playlist. "If you don't know who I be you better AKS someboooooody about me..." Ha!)

I guess I couldn't really relate to Eminem's songs in the past few years but this past summer I reconnected to them again with the Recovery album. My goals have changed so much from what they were 7 years ago, but what makes me stop wallowing in self-pity and get back to work hasn't. The Marshall Mathers LP, The Slim Shady LP and The Eminem Show are awesome albums and definitely take me back to the old days, just like I think Recovery will always take me back to Summer 2010 when I was getting the fire back in me.

This 60 Minutes story brought a tear to my eye. I wish I could shake this guy's hand.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Miss Her

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I used to have the bestest-best girlfriend. We haven't talked in over a year. I need to make it right.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Meow

I want a kitty massage (or any other kind).

Alton Brown Can Suck It

I made it through week 1 of Fall quarter! I submitted my first CS111 (Operating Systems) project last night. Granted this was the easiest lab that we'll get but I'm proud of myself for finishing it a day early. If I could only learn to focus and debug my program at the apartment WITH my roommates around I would have finished it 5 days early.

It's amazing. I probably dicked around with my code for at least 3 hours on Wednesday night at my desk. But A and E were around and I kept getting distracted by conversations in the background even with my headphones on. AGH!

Trust me. It's impossible to not turn around and chime in when you hear "vagina dentata" and "hair clip" in the same sentence.

I ended up getting frustrated with myself not being able to fix my bug and going to sleep. Next morning I went to school 30 minutes early so I could walk with A and E to campus. Spent 25 minutes in the library and fixed the function that I was working on the night before.

And that happens all the time. My productivity decreases exponentially with the increasing awesomeness of my roommates.

Quite possibly our second favorite thing to do, after distracting each other from getting real work done, is to cook. A has been telling us all about this No Pan Pear Pie recipe and we wanted to try it out. Let me first tell you that I've never made an Alton Brown recipe successfully. That is not to say that he doesn't make delicious food, it's just that I NEVER have everything that he calls for and I'm not as accurate with temperatures as I think he assumes we should be when we follow his recipe. A waffle recipe requires all-pupose, whole-wheat flour and buttermilk at room temperature, mind you.

For this No Pan Pear Preposterous Pastry Pie (ahhhh alliteration) A and I were expected to use a SPRAY bottle to moisten our crust. We were also supposed to put a frozen cookie sheet on our dough when it got a little too warm. Of course we neglected to do either and just sprinkled apple juice concentrated with our fingers (freezing them off). It was a crumbly mess. I've never made such horrible dough. If I was working on it myself I would've given up and started over. A convinced me to keep sprinkling moisture on the crust as she finally shenagled the crust in a circle-resembling shape.

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Here is A working on getting the filling to stay inside and plugging up holes with her hands as I'm laughing at her.

Did I mention the filling contained a butt-load of balsamic vinegar, we needed butter separated in 3 different batches each at different temperatures and the crust had corn meal?

I admit, the filling tasted much better than other pie filling that I've made before. But, you know, I think it's due to A being there keeping me and my sugar doubling tendencies in line, not this particular recipe.

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The final product. This was Wednesday night. By Friday lunch-time it was gone (along with 1/2 gallon of Costco vanilla ice-cream).

♥ kick-ass time in the kitchen badmouthing Alton Brown.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What the Heck Does This Look Like?

E and I were at Costco and we were like, "Whoa. Cheap salmon. Sweet!" Upon examining the package closely it turned out to be Steelhead. Neither of us knew what Steelhead was, but we got it anyway.

When we got home I busted out my Joy of Cooking book. Steelhead is apparently a variety of trout. Who knew? It was delish.


My life officially ends today as "...unlike other classes, lab work will get started off with a rapid run, as opposed to a slow jaunt." Thanks, CS 111.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First Day of School

Ah. I can't believe it's happening. I feel like I never left and summer never happened. I have new roommates and they are AWESOME.

Allow me to introduce:
(from left to right) M, J (roommate from last year), E (V-Rock's gf), A, me. This picture was snapped right before the middle three headed out to school. (They have a 9:30 class. What's up with that?)

Rewind an hour and a half. I made a german pancake for breakfast!

E cut strawberries.

Man-handling the cake in the PAN.

This is A. She is so demure.

Yum.

AHHHHHHH! I have been anxious about this day for weeks.

Friday, September 17, 2010

See You On the Other Side

Well, well, well. I'm about to embark on my journey back to the states. Ah. There are so many things I'm feeling. I can't even make sense of all of them. The main is that I'm scared. I'm scared of leaving, scared of starting a new school year, scared of living with my friends, scared of flying, so on and so forth.

I'm told that I might not even make it past customs in Moscow. I'm missing a stamp in my passport. Ha! Wouldn't that be something?

Here we are with the lilly that grandma gave me when I arrived. Nobody is showing teeth. :-(
I know this one is blurry, but I like it best.

I'm packing up my computer now and we are heading to the train station. Ciao!

PS. Should my plane crash (which wouldn't surprise me coming from Aeroflot), I would like Florence + The Machine and Chopin played at my funeral.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Penza Pizza

Mama and I made pizza! Dad crashed our pizza making party for a little while, but then quickly left. He didn't want no stinkin' pizza. Oh well. It was pretty good.
Mom insisted on putting weird spices in our tomato sauce. It was funny. I would see her get out a packet and sprinkle some stuff in as she was stirring it. It would go something like this:

me: What is that you're putting in?
mama: It's [insert Russian name for a spice].
me: Oh, OK.
*wait a minute, I don't know the names of spices in Russian*
me: Let me smell it.
mama: Here.
me: Eww! You just put nutmeg and cinnamon in there!

It surprisingly turned out well.

Mama and Grandma Make Blini

I just love these things. They don't taste like crepes. I keep thinking I make blini when I'm in the US. Nope! I make crepes. These are different.

The ingredients are simple, but it's never the same when I make it. Maybe it's because I don't use full fat milk, maybe the milk isn't spoiled enough, maybe it's that I don't have the same sour cream to eat it with. I don't know.

1 egg
salt and sugar to taste
.5 liter of spoiled milk or kefir
1 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

I love, love, love, love, love the sour cream here. It's the dollop on the right. It is soooo thick and creamy. I'm sure such sour cream exists in the US, I just don't know where to find it.

Yum. I am going to miss breakfasts here.