Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to succeed in standardized tests without really trying

Inspired by my friend's blog post, I decided to take an online test of my reading speed. The test includes reading speed and comprehension. I scored 305 words per minute, just above the 200 wpm average. My comprehension, on the other hand, was at an astounding 91%.

I credit this, not to my awesome powers of recall, but rather to my carefully honed multiple-choice test taking skills. After all, about 2 months after reading most books (and watching most movies) I have close to zero memory of the main plot line, characters, and surprise reveals of who the bad guy really was. It's a new experience each time. In fact, I just finished re-reading the Harry Potter series, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I tried to train myself to remember important details, though. Each night I went through a recitation of the Defense Against Dark Arts teachers in each volume (Quirrell, Lockheart, Lupin, Moody - I remembered that it wasn't actually Moody but I couldn't remember who had taken his place, Umbridge, Snape, Carrow).

Back to the carefully honed test-taking skills. I do pretty well on multiple choice tests, even if I don't know anything about the content. Here are a few rules that brought me through this latest test.

Rule 1: Always eliminate the odd man out.
If you run across a set of answers and one definitely doesn't belong, that's because it doesn't. Most likely the test writer couldn't think of a second good alternative to the correct answer, so they just filled it in to meet deadline. An example from the speed reading test:

Q7. The average speaking speed of a race driver is around?
A. 120 mph
B. 150 wpm
C. 200 wpm

It's okay. I had no idea what this question was asking when I read it, either. However, look carefully at the units of measurement. See the one that isn't like the others? Eliminate answer A.

Rule 2: In the "wow you" tests, always go for the extremes.
These are the tests that ask a series of questions to try to surprise you into really believing in the necessity of their cause. They want you to say that left-handedness isn't all that uncommon - 30 or 40%? - so they can spring it on you that only 7-10% of our population has a south paw. An example from our test:

Q5. A sprinter running as the average reader reads, runs 100m in?
A. 10 seconds (near record time)
B. 35 seconds (jogging)
C. 70 seconds (walking speed)

The most stunning comparison is a sprinter only at only the speed of walking. Ding, ding, ding! C is correct.

Rule 3: Know your audience.
The test maker has inherent biases that are difficult to completely remove from the test:

Q11. What is probably the best way to reach top level reading efficiency?
A. a speed reading book
B. a speed reading seminar
C. a speed reading software

If you viewed this speed reading website carefully, you would have noticed that it advertises ReadingSoft - a speed reading software. Answer? C.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

home for christmas

Christmas Eve greetings! I'm spending this Christmas with my in-laws. I know I'm with the Gongs when we have homemade sushi and sashimi one night for dinner and Chinese mao bu du fo (spicy tofu) for breakfast the next day - with leftover seared tuna and salmon on the side.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

real butter is so much better than margarine

Remember that time we had Thanksgiving? I know everyone's into the whole 8 days until Christmas and all, but I'd like to take a moment to share these photos with you.






I know, I know. It looks like a Pilgrim-shaped coffin. But it's actually a Pilgrim-shaped stick of butter. My sister carved it for our Thanksgiving dinner.

I have the coolest family.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

if you don't hear from me in several weeks

Call an ambulance, because it means I've had a heart attack in my office. For some reason, when our computer gets a little overloaded on tasks (switching between window panes too rapidly), it gets angry and BEEPS at me. It blurts out of the speaker and goes directly to my heart, causing a momentary stop in my pulse. Also, I can feel the synapses in my brain fuzz up.

And just now when it happened, it made my right eye twitch.

Monday, December 14, 2009

a wassailing

Two weekends ago, Abe & I held our 3rd annual Christmas Wassail Open House. We make gallons and gallons of our secret wassail recipe, an assortment of appetizers, and fill our home with wonderful friends to share the evening.

Ideal as that may sound, every time I hear wassail, I think of a claymation Christmas program I saw when I was a kid. Until I looked it up on YouTube, I had not seen this program since I was about 11 years old. It has left me wondering why this particular scene is ingrained in my head, yet I can't remember something like the presidents of the United States. Actually, I think the reason I remember this scene is because the dinosaur-like creatures* are somewhat terrifying.

Here it is:


I also fondly remember the 3 kings camel scene:


And who doesn't like the California Raisins?


By the way, a much requested recipe at the Waffle - I mean, Wassail - party was the spinach artichoke dip. Credits go to my sister.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/4 c grated parmesan romano cheese
1 tsp crushed garlic, or 2 cloves fresh garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper

Blend all ingredients together. Microwave or bake in oven until heated through.

Also, some photos of the party.







Our friend Evelyn brought a German Smoking Man, which is a traditional Christmas incense burner.

*Why dinosaurs, anyway?

Monday, December 7, 2009

don't knock it till you've watched it

A few weekends ago I almost witnessed a nervous breakdown when Abe & I were in Marshall's. The delightful strains of radio holiday music were just too much for my husband. It probably didn't help that I was shopping for a bra.

The Christmas music selection on the radio does somewhat sicken me. However, I have found new appreciation for many of the worst tunes since watching their music videos.

For example, I never knew what a jewel the music video for "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney was.

Please, enjoy. Also note: 1) the choir of children singing their song (1:14) is frightening in the extreme, 2) the glowing orbs (1:27) are surely channeling the Logan's Run renewal chamber, 3) 3:03 - I'm sorry...what just happened, exactly?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape ... Dumbledore!

This afternoon at lunch, someone commented on my co-worker's name (Nandini). She wondered if that was also the name of the snake in Harry Potter.

My inward dialogue went something like this:

"Huh? That's not even close to Voldemort's snake. Her name is Nagini - clearly not the same. ...oooh, I can't wait for Abe to leave town soon so I can finish reading the next 2 books in the series. I've been waiting so I can obsessively re-read them in preparation for the 6th movie coming out on DVD, without worrying about also being an attentive wife. ...Wait, why is no one else at the table commenting on the fact that Nagini is not Nandini? Am I the only person who thinks this is quite obvious? Yes. Yes, I am. Perhaps I should feel embarrassed."

I then mentioned that the snake's name was, in fact, Nagini. To my relief, Nandini piped up and said that Nagini means something like cobra. A fellow Harry Potter fan*? Possibly.

Tonight I decided to put myself to the test, literally, with Scholastic's Harry Potter trivia quiz.

Sample questions I got right:

- In what forest did Harry and Ron find the sword of Gryfinndor? Although the forest near Godric's Hollow is a tempting choice, it is actually Forest of Dean.
- From what book did Harry get Hedwig's name? History of Magic.
- What was Hagrid's giantess mother's name? Fridwulfa.

I lost the quiz at 20 points (you could only get 3 wrong answers) on this question: What is Mrs. Weasley's favorite nickname? I re-took the quiz and stalled on the first question: What was Professor Slughorn's favorite candy?

So my random book fact knowledge was somewhat high, but not off the charts.

I sorted through other Google searches to a promising "How Obsessed Are You With Harry Potter" quiz. Turns out, I'm only 18% obsessed with Harry Potter. A "Part time fan". I was also a little creeped out by many of the questions:

- Do you call your least favorite teacher Snape?
- Did you learn about time travel theory just so you could understand the complications that would arise from Hermione's use of the time turner in Prisoner of Azkaban?
- Have you ever visited the Harry Potter Lexicon?
- Are you one of the posting members of the Leaky Cauldron (B. K. DeLong, Heidi Tandy, Melissa A. etc)? Did you donate money to The Leaky Cauldron, hoping to find out what was on that mysterious auction card?

Clearly, there is an entire Harry Potter sub-world that I am blissfully unaware of. I will confine my fantasy to a hardcover and cozy living room chair.

And, perhaps, humming this catchy little tune.



*A little known fact is that my father read the entire Harry Potter series in the bathroom. Funny on oh so many levels.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chinese! (part III of Vancouver!)

1+ month later, I think these are the last photos of my trip to Vancouver: a beautiful, cloudless morning in Chinatown.

This giant abacus was right next to our parking spot on the street.


We visited the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Garden. The guided tour was actually really interesting. Our guide explained how the garden creators used light and dark, round and square, to create different visual effects. He explained that viewpoints were very important.

For example, we stood for a while in this beautiful spot.


Then the guide had us look through the circular door to a beautiful view on the other side.


We then walked through the door, turned around, and saw the same garden as a completely different scene.


Reflections of nature and structures were also a running theme. Depending on what side of the water you were standing on, you would see a completely different scene because either nature or man-made structures were prominently reflected.


I think I would be happy with a Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Garden of my very own.


Here's a Chinatown street view.


I thought the principles of yin and yang were reflected well in this store display. What you can't see is that they bobble back and forth.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thabcsgiving

Inspired by my niece who ran back and forth across the living room to hand me alphabet blocks for part of the morning (picture a bouncy-waddling step, waving hands, and shrieks that sounded something like the 5 vowels), here is my Thanksgiving gratitude list, in alphabetical order.

Autumn
Butter (the real stuff)
Cell phone reception
Dusk
Elevenses
Frequent flier miles
Gongs
Harry Potter series
iPod
Journals
Knowledge
Light & truth
Music
Nieces & nephews
Olsens
Plenty
Q-tips
Rainfall
Spouse
Two percent milk
Undergraduate education
Vacation to Vancouver
Walks
eXercise
Yam fries
Ziploc

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Need a touch of fall?

I could always do with more autumnal festivities. This morning I made these pumpkin spice muffins, and they were just the thing.

The pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg really stand out against the subtle molasses flavor. Also, they are incredibly moist, but not dense. Delicious.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins
2/3 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 c molasses
1 egg
1 c canned pumpkin (plain, not the pumpkin pie mix - I used a very generous 1 c)
1 3/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

crumbled walnuts and extra brown sugar (opt)

Preheat oven to 400. Cream butter and sugar. Add molasses and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and pumpkin and stir until well blended. Fold in flour, salt, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle with crumbled walnut pieces and extra brown sugar (opt). Bake 15-20 minutes, until the tops spring back when touched lightly.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nature! (Part II of Vancouver!)

Although it rained for an entire day when my sisters, mom and I went to Vancouver, we did get some good time in with nature.

We went to a suspension bridge (there were 2: one cost $35, the other was not quite as high and not quite as long cost $0 - I'll let you guess which one we went to). The colors of everyone's coats are almost as beautiful as the fall leaves.








We took many walks and drives around Stanley Park. Here is a view from part of Vancouver from the park.




On the day that happened to be warm and sunny, we had trips to 2 parks planned. Pictured here is Queen Victoria Park, including a photo of the Vancouver skyline. The other park, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Memorial Garden, will be featured in the future Vancouver! vignette Chinese!







Monday, November 16, 2009

Vancouver!

Over Halloween weekend, I met up with my mom, 3 sisters, and sister-in-law in Vancouver, Canada. We flew into Seattle and drove up, taking enormous pleasure in answering the border guard's question of "Where are you from?" with "Virginia, - Michigan, Wisconsin, and Utah - plus our other sister who's already at the hotel is from Arizona!"

One of my favorite things to do is order from a menu. So my first documentation from this trip is all the food choices I made while there. More reflections to come later.

Thursday evening. Dinner at Joe Fortes Seafood. It was highly recommended and delicious. After careful deliberation between white fish and salmon, I realized that what I really wanted were prawns.





Friday afternoon. Early dinner in Gas Town. We hadn't eaten all day and were reaching desperation. I said pizza sounded good, we went to the first Italian place we saw, everyone ordered pizza and I got pasta, soup and salad.





Late Friday. Crepes downtown while watching various costumed college students and a homeless man with a fat, white, pet rat. My crepe was filled with dark chocolate with hazelnuts.


Later Friday. Cupcakes from a shop we stopped at while walking home in a downpour. Red velvet, pumpkin, chocolate diva ...



Saturday afternoon. Shrimp and noodles from Chinatown. Taken with a refreshing glass of hot water.



Late Saturday afternoon. BBQ pork bun snack at Queen Victoria Garden (bought earlier in Chinatown). This may have been my only regretted food choice. Someone BBQ pork just wasn't the thing for a light sunset snack.


Saturday night. Dinner at Vij's, top-rated Indian restaurant. We arrived 20 minutes before opening and were one of the last groups to get a seat before they were full (closely avoided a 1 1/2 hr wait). We shared lamb popsicles (fully cooked and warm) the best saag paneer and lentils I've ever had, and several other dishes I can't remember. I ate until I was full, and then ate for about 15 more minutes and still wanted more.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

chat with Abe Gong

3:55 PM
me: how's it going?

3:56 PM
Abe: not bad
the lab was very chatty, but I finally found a quiet place to work
me: good

3:57 PM
Abe: you?
me: okay

3:58 PM
me: my strategic plan write up took a little longer than i hoped
Abe: mm
me: i'm getting nervous about this NSF grant
it's okay
there's sort of a sense of inevitability to it
whatever plan and partnerships and needs case we have now is basically what we'll have when we submit the grant
i can try to dress it up with good organization and word choice

4:00 PM
me: but even right now, the project is either there or it isn't
i don't know if that's right
but it has sort of a zen feel to it

Abe: hm
4:01 PM
Abe: sounds like the serenity prayer to me

me: haha

4:02 PM
me: the serenity to write the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i cannot write, and the wisdom to know how to submit a grant through grants.gov

Saturday, November 7, 2009

things our pumpkin is bigger than

We got our pumpkin from a u-pick patch where every gourd was $5, regardless of size. We got a little carried away.

Our pumpkin is bigger than:


A banana


Our heads


A 50 lb bag of rice (almost)

We each carved a side. Abe did a goblin...





...dressed up as a phd student.


I did a mummy. (I completely copied an online photo of someone else's mummy.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

something to spice up your halloween party

Abe & I have made a study of classic movies*, in part motivated by our Friday night trips to the library after everyone else has checked out the coveted new (after 1995) releases.

Many of these classics make for good Halloween celebratory fodder. Especially if you are easily creeped out (Sixth Sense and Watcher in the Woods top my horrometer). Some of these are actually quite good, some are good because they are oh, so bad.

I've added production dates and tag lines from IMDB for each movie.

Dracula 1931, "In the annals of living horror, one name stands out as the epitome of evil."
The Birds, 1963, "Suspense and shock beyond anything you have seen or imagined!"
Strangers on a Train - just the Carousel scene 1951, "It starts with a shriek of a train whistle...and ends with shrieking excitement."
Frankenstein 1931, "A Monster Science Created - But Could Not Destroy!"
Wait Until Dark 1967, "A blind woman plays a deadly game of survival."
Plan 9 from Outer Space 1959, "Unspeakable Horrors From Outer Space Paralyze The Living And Resurrect The Dead!"
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers 1956, "Before You Scoff at Flying Saucers - See the Greatest SHOCK Film of All Time!"
Creature from the Black Lagoon 1954, "A scientific expedition traveling up the Amazon River encounter a dangerous humanoid amphibious fish creature."
King Kong 1933, "A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star."

Bonus:
Catspaw (Original Star Trek Season 2 Halloween Episode, 1967)


*And by study I mean Abe watches them and I fall asleep 2/3 of the way through. Really, the only movie on this list I didn't fall asleep through was Wait Until Dark.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

a commitment to taking more walks

I have been on many pleasant walks. So many, in fact, that I was resolved at the beginning of fall to take more walks.

Two Sundays ago, Abe & I took a mid-afternoon stroll around the neighborhood. I was fascinated with taking pictures of the beautiful scenery.


Abe was talking on the phone with his father.


Meanwhile, the sky looked like this.


We decided we'd better return before the clouds got angrier. The sprinkles started as we were walking down a dirt path back home. Abe was still talking to his dad.

The sprinkles got heavier. We started to jog. Abe was still on the phone ("Uh huh. ... Yeah, that sounds good, dad. ... Sure. ...").

Now it was pouring. And I had taken a wrong turn on the path so we were headed back the long way. Abe was still on the phone, but managed a graceful exit ("Actually, we're running through a rain storm right now - can I call you back in a minute?").

Did I mention that I was in a skirt and sandals this whole time?


The photo doesn't do our sopping selves justice.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

these are a few of my favorite fonts

Several years ago I interned for BYU Magazine. My fellow intern and I were hard at work in the office when he called out from his Mac, "What's your favorite font?"

Usually I find the "what's your favorite ..." game infuriatingly futile. But at the time my heart was unquestionably set on Garamond. I said as much, and my coworker replied that was his favorite font too. (We were both married - to other people - lest you think this is turning into the well-beloved Nacho Libre toast scene.)

He then countered, saying, "But if Garamond isn't an option, next is Palatino."

Which, of course, was my second favorite font, too.*

Do you have a favorite font? More to the point, do you have a favorite runner-up?

Bonus question: How do you feel about the recent proliferation of Calibri documents now that Word's default has switched from Times New Roman?

*I still like Garamond for formal documents, but Verdana has a good casual feel.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

May need to check out the Carol Burnett Show from the library

While reading Gone With the Wind the other night (now on pg 798), I had a sudden impulse to watch a few scenes from the movie. The first YouTube hit for "Gone With the Wind Part 1" starred, not Vivien Leigh but Carol Burnett.

Just to give you an idea, this is a still from the scene where she comes down in her new green dress made of the drapes.



Parts 1 and 2, for your enjoyment.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

multi-huh?whatwasthat?-tasking

I know I'm not good at paying attention to 2 things at once. But I always convince myself I am. Today, I came home from work, listening to a history lecture on reconstruction in the south after the Civic War. I tried to continue listening to the lecture while reading blog posts and thinking about what I might post on my blog tonight.

Well, I read most of the blog posts, but all I can remember about reconstruction is that after the initial influx of blacks into leadership positions there was some key turning point that then led to the rise of power for white plantation southerners. Gee.

I decided to test my ability with this Multitasking Game (***Loud music warning if you click on this link***). I think my high score was around 450. After a few minutes I felt my blood pressure rising and had to stop playing.

If you want more food for thought, here's an interesting Stanford study about multitasking. Note: The results are quite negative towards media-multitaskers. But I have some contentions with the tasks. It seems that the multitaker's strength would be in accomplishing 2 goals at the same time. However, the tests are all about accomplishing 1 goal, and filtering out interfering information.

Monday, September 28, 2009

your library request is ready to be picked up

Two years ago last August, Abe & I bought a pair of Ikea's black-brown Billy bookcases. It was our first furniture purchase that didn't involve Salvation Army (or it's equivalent). Aside from a wedding ring and plane tickets home, it may have been our single biggest purchase together.

What does it say about us that our next big furniture purchase (last Saturday) was 3 additional Billy's?

I think it says that I shouldn't be surprised to look at our library accounts and find 74 checked out items - 68 books*, 6 DVDs.

We relegated the original Billy's into our bedroom. Now our living room sports the more stylish half-width Billy's, including one wall mount. The shelves will be arranged in a sort of square arch around our piano. This creates a shrine-like space above the piano and below the wall mount (the keystone, if you will). Abe has suggested a series of 3 cat statues, in increasing size, for this space**.

In transit, these books have taken residence on our bedroom floor.


I've always felt that books on someone's bookshelf are a good conversation piece. A sampling of titles from our floor:

Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
Biology of Life (Bio 101 textbook)
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Rational Herds: Economic Models of Social Learning by Christophe P. Chamley
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
Jane Austen's Complete Works by Jane Austen
4 hymnals
The Authoritative Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Beowulf by a heroic epic poet

Surprisingly, we actually own all of the above books.

*Until last week, this included one book, Trees of Michigan, that I have been renewing since June 2008 (approximately 22 renewals).
**It is disturbing that my Google search for "cat statues" came up with this photo:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

pg 314 out of 1024 ... fiddle-dee-dee

I have Goodreads updates on my blog sidebar of books I've read lately. It's been stagnant for some time. Not because I haven't been reading, but because I've been reading Gone With the Wind. I reserved it at the library, not realizing it is 3 inches thick.

And today I realized I could catch the whole thing in 3.06 minutes, thanks to YouTube videos set to sappy romance songs.



I may never live to finish it, but I do recommend the book. The film version is also one of the best book-to-movie conversions I've seen. (238 minutes long.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Garden Variety

Last night we had a delicious Spinach Basil Pesto, made with basil from our garden. It turned out much better than some other basil dishes we had earlier in the year. That's because earlier this year I was actually cutting Impatiens from our garden, not basil.

Story:

This summer was my first attempt at a garden. We planted several pots of herbs, and, because we had leftover soil and pots, also planted a few flowers. Everything was from seed, so I was excited to see what the plants would look like as they grew. The basil was doing well, and so were my flowers.

After a few weeks, the basil looked old enough to cut, as a garnish for our pizza or spaghetti. It didn't add very much flavor, though. I was disappointed.

Time passed.

I noticed that my flowers were looking more and more like my basil. In fact, basil seemed to be springing up in all of my pots. Then I noticed that there were 2 subtly different looking plants growing in my basil pot.

And that's when I knew: some of these plants were not basil. And I was pretty sure whatever wasn't basil was Impatiens. Finally, turning on my Cub Scout Commissioner/Forestry Merit Badge Counselor skills, I noted that one of the plants had "opposite" growing leaves and the other had "alternate" growing leaves - one of the basic traits to look for in plant identification. A few Google searches confirmed that we had been eating our Impatiens as garnish.

So last night, I was confident that it was basil I snipped and put into this lovely recipe.

Spinach Pesto

Ingredients:
10 ounces torn spinach leaves
2 garlic cloves, halved
3 tablespoons pine nuts (I didn't used these)
3 bunches fresh basil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. salt
hot, cooked linguini

Preparation:
Place a few spinach leaves, garlic, pine nuts, basil and a little oil in blender or food processor container. Cover and puree until leaves begin to look crushed. Continue adding spinach leaves a few at a time with small amounts of oil to blender, using a rubber spatula to help to combine pureed mixture. Add Parmesan cheese and 1/8 tsp. salt. Cover and process until spinach pesto mixture is smooth.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain in colander. Serve with the spinach pesto sauce.

I also added sauteed mushrooms.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where the fishermen meet!

In my family, Saturdays always meant day trips in the family van. Which was no small thing (the van, I mean. We sported a 12-passenger Ford Club Wagon, like this one but baby blue and with curtains made of PVC piping and canvas).

One memorable trip was down the Lake Michigan coast of Wisconsin. Actually, I remember nothing about the trip, except that we stopped in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, for dinner. Mom really wanted a Saturday night fish boil, with fresh fish from the Great Lakes. Of course, none of us children remotely comprehended why this would be a better option than, say, McDonalds. But to a fresh fish boil we went.

And ended up at M&Ms, or perhaps MOMs -- the restaurant's logo was ambiguous, so we were never quite sure. Maybe we should have left when they sat us at a table that still had the previous diners' trash on and under it. But we didn't leave. After all, fish boil.

Mom ordered her fish and we all got something with fries. But even the fries weren't a safe bet. They had a distinct yeasty taste. Being in Wisconsin, there was a strong possibility that they were deep fried in beer. We added more ketchup, but the yeast taste got worse. Then we realized the ketchup bottle was marked with an expiration that pre-dated my birth.

It didn't help that I had ordered a kiddie-sized milkshake (we're a "I'll just start with a water" family, so I knew Mom and Dad wouldn't take a full shake well). The shake came in a shot glass-size paper cup that I managed to stretch out to 2 spoon fulls.

M&Ms/MOMs has always been something of a joke to us since. My family moved away from Wisconsin about 13 years ago, and (to their surprise and ours) my parents moved back about 2 years. In between, Dad was on a business trip there and ended up in Two Rivers. He bought a black logo truckers hat from M&Ms/MOMs for me.

And this weekend, I finally found the perfect venue to wear it at.

Demolition Derby! The Michigan state championship, no less, held at the Saline Fair. My friend Elizabeth invited us, and, as she says, if you haven't gone, you should go because "it's a lot more fun than it should be".

Some footage:

video
Generally, what happens at a demolition derby.

video
Note the dirt flying at us.

video
Captioning: "He's got the rear end shoved up in the sheet metal." And just which one of these cars might you be talking about, sir?

video
They also had a truck heat.


In my M&Ms/MOMs hat.

p.s. I actually found M&Ms/MOMs website, and confirmed the name. M&Ms Lunch and Catering. Catering?! Their slogan: "Come and eat where the fishermen meet!"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Toronto Days 3 & 4

The last of my Toronto series.


Saturday we went to lunch at Spring Rolls with the BYU political science crew. Good food, lacking in service. They forgot to bring desserts until we remembered, which was right before we had to go. They gave us 10% off gift cards good between 2-5 and 8:30-10:00 weekdays. So, next time we're in Toronto...


I walked around the farmer's market, then headed to the harbour front, where I sat in the grass reading The Pelican Brief and lost track of all time.


Abe & I met up again. CN Tower in the background. Tallest tower in the world, before DuBai beat them last year.


In the evening we went to High Park to see The Tempest performed outside. It was wonderful. Though by the time we got back it was 10:30 and we hadn't eaten. We made a wrong turn off the subway and ended up walking nowhere towards food. We finally landed at our hotel (photo above) and got sandwiches from Tim Hortons across the street.


Tim Hortons in the morning - we had to go back for donuts.


Eating donuts in traffic. We got 2 chocolate glaze, Boston cream, strawberry jelly with white frosting glaze, strawberry jelly powdered, and Canadian maple (also with cream). Boston cream was a clear winner, with Canadian maple coming in at a close second.


In traffic, for 1.5 hours just getting out of Toronto. I prefer seeing the city by foot.