Archive | June, 2012

“Hello Ohio, The back roads. I know Ohio, Like the back of my hand…

29 Jun

…Alone Ohio
Where the river bends
And it’s strange to see your story end
How I hate to see your story end
It’s so sad to see your story end.” -Over the Rhine, “Ohio”

 

It’s my second-to-last night in Kentucky/Ohio/USA, so we went down to the river for a delicious Mexican meal. I won’t miss hot summery weather in London, but I will miss Mexican food and giant cups of ice water loaded with ice that doesn’t melt by the time it arrives at your table. I got some nice shots of Cincinnati from across the river and had fun playing with the colors a bit.

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The gates of hell have opened up so we took Squirt to get ice cream

28 Jun

It was 100 degrees today in northern Kentucky. 100 degrees. 100 degree is supposed to be a hyperbolic temperature, as in “I’d rather not sit on the patio, it’s 100 degrees out there!” but by 100 degrees you mean 84 with a nice breeze, but you still prefer air conditioning. It’s not actually supposed to reach 100 degrees in places that are not the desert. Yet somehow it did today in NKy and will again tomorrow. And Saturday. And maybe even Sunday but I don’t care as much because I’m finally heading back to London where the high is 64. Then 66 on Monday and 68 on Tuesday. I should probably get back to learning those temperatures in Celsius and look up how hot 100 F is so I can make small talk with the porter. (“How was your time in the states?” “It was 37.7 degrees.” “Blimey!”)

When we were at PetFest the other day we picked up a flyer advertising a Bruster’s Ice Cream fundraiser for a local dog rescue. If there’s anything I love more than dogs, it’s Bruster’s birthday cake ice cream. It’s heaven in a waffle cone, which is exactly what you need when it feels like the gates of hell have opened. So we took Squirt to the local Bruster’s to get him a free doggie sundae.

(Anyone who thinks Graeter’s has the best ice cream ever has not tried Bruster’s birthday cake ice cream. It will blow your mind, and the top button of your pants, probably.)

Squirt was panting from heat exhaustion and excitement when he saw his doggie sundae.

NOM NOM! He always looks a little deranged eating ice cream.

It was chop-licking good!

After we finished our ice cream and fed Squirt his (he is afraid to eat out of a bowl), we checked out the puppies up for adoption. One of them tossed his toy in the water bowl so my dad helped him fish it out.

A portion of our ice cream sale went towards Pawzitive Petz Rescue. Awezomeeeee!

Viva Forever Spice Girls Musical: My 10-year-old self is freaking out

27 Jun

Every once in a while I think about how grateful I am to not be a full-fledged child of technology. I can use a computer or iTouch like a pro, but I also typed my stories on a typewriter as a child and didn’t have a cell phone until I was 16, and even then it was “just for emergencies.” But I think I am most grateful that YouTube did not exist when I was younger.

Let me back up a bit. When I was in elementary school my neighborhood friends and I were obsessed with the Spice Girls. I have since had other musical obsessions like Meat Loaf and Over the Rhine, but the Spice Girls will always be my first. My friends and I often karaoked to Spice Girls, which involved two boomboxes, one to play the cassette of the song, the other to record our singing on a blank tape. I shudder when I imagine my 10-year-old self innocently singing, “I need some love like I’ve never needed love before, wanna make love to ya baby.”

But the karaoke wasn’t the worst of it. We made “music videos.” That involved bugging my dad to come to my friend’s front yard and film us with his giant video camera as we danced and lip-synched to multiple Spice Girls songs. I was always Sporty Spice because I had long brown hair and liked gymnastics. I couldn’t do a back handspring like Mel C, though, so I mostly did haphazard cartwheels and front handsprings that looked like I was about to snap my neck. If I remember correctly, there were often multiple Sporty Spices in our videos because we couldn’t agree on who could be her. I think my favorite part of one of the videos was when we made my dad pan to my friend’s front door during the “Say You’ll Be There” line “If you can’t work this equation, then I guess I’ll have to show you the door, ” and my friend’s mom was there pointing at the front door. Now that I think about it, maybe this video could have went viral on YouTube and I could be sitting on mountains of theoretical Internet dollars now. Oh well. I’m still glad I didn’t grow up with YouTube.

I’m writing about this because I heard amazing news: there is going to be a Spice Girls musical!  And even better, it’s premiering in London in December! My inner 10-year-old is doing neck-snapping front handsprings. I don’t care if it gets crap reviews, I say I’ll be there.*

*Did you get that pun?

PetFest 2012, or, That time Squirt made a bunch of friends and I stalked a corgi

24 Jun

Since it’s 90 degrees outside, we decided to take Squirt to Boone Woods Park for the 10th annual Friends of the Shelter PetFest. Once I accepted the fact that sweat would be constantly running down my face, it was a good time. There were tons of vendors and — more importantly — tons of cool dogs. Of course I brought my camera. Within minutes of our arrival I spotted a corgi. He was on his way out so I coyly followed him like some kind of corgi paparazzi. I ended up with a nice photo of his butt:

Hehe he has no tail!

OK, enough corgi gushing. Check out the Neuterville Express! And the lady who suddenly realized she was being photographed:

Squirt met many Chihuahua friends. I really like this photo:

This Chihuahua wanted to say ‘Hi’:

I was surprised to see a French bulldog there, since they’re rare and expensive. This poor guy sounded like he was going to pass out from the heat! I was sad that I didn’t see any pugs there, but I hear they handle heat even worse than I do.

This Chihuahua (or is it a min pin?) was hanging out on the table:

This guy was adorable:

Squirt saw a little bowl of dog food near a booth and went in for the steal. Within seconds this little guy came out from under the table and scared him away from his food!

Cute puppy up for adoption:

A Boston terrier rescue had a booth. This guy made me miss Boris and Natasha, the dogs I used to watch in Chicago. (Boris even had a red harness like this!)

I think Squirt wanted us to adopt this little girl for him:

There were a lot of cute Chihuahuas there:

Squirt making another buddy:

This little girl was really shy:

Just as Squirt was crapping out — Exhibit A:

Something amazing happened — I realized the corgi never left, he just went to hang out near the parking lot! So we brought Squirt over to give me a reason to get closer to take pictures. Mr. Corgi was either not too sure about Squirt, or he sensed my intentions to kidnap him:

He finally decided Squirt was OK to talk to:

And I took one last photo before we left. It was hard to get one without his owner’s legs.

Overall it was a nice way to spend an afternoon. I got to see all my favorite dog breeds (Chihuahua, corgi, Boston terrier, French bulldog, Dachshund), except a pug. Squirt seemed to have fun and could not stop panting on the drive home. Check out the drool!:

Breaking baking news

23 Jun

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post for this special report.

I successfully made meringue.

If you remember, a year ago I tried to make French macarons, which are basically meringue, and everything that could go wrong, did. I could not beat egg whites for the life of me. Now I realized it is much easier when you actually have a mixer. I made some peppermint meringue cookies and they turned out wonderfully, no runny half-burnt, half-undercooked messiness.

Behold!:

(They may not look as professional as I had hoped, but they taste amazing!)

If you’re curious, this is the recipe I used.

On Wings of Harmony Butterfly Show at Krohn’s Conversatory, or That time I took a buttload of butterfly photographs

21 Jun

Since yesterday’s post was full of anger towards technology, I figured today I would praise some technology: my camera. The other day we went to the Krohn Conservatory to see the On Wings of Harmony international butterfly show. My mom had never been to a butterfly exhibit before and was excited to go. I, on the other hand, have been to butterfly enclosures twice — once in Niagara Falls, the other time at the London Zoo, and both times I was a little freaked out. The butterflies are beautiful, yes, but they land on you. I do not like things landing on me, no matter how beautiful and colorful they are. So I went this time with a mission — take lots and lots of pictures! If you recall, I got a new camera not too long ago, and I am obsessed with close-up, shallow depth of field photographs. What better place to take those than at a butterfly show? So while everyone was marveling at the beautiful wings of harmony (what does that even mean?…) and children were attempting to grab the butterflies despite being told not to, I was trying to take a photo of every single butterfly, which took a little while since there were 16,000. No joke. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I think my photos turned out pretty good considering I don’t have a big DSLR with expensive lenses.

This one was hard to capture because it kept flapping its wings rapidly:

One landed on my mom’s arm. Check out its tongue!

Then it curled its tongue back in:

Random giant butterfly hanging out on some lady’s back. That’s the kind of thing I didn’t want to happen to me!

They brought out some new butterflies while we were there:

Then the new butterflies proceeded to land on random kids:

According to the website, the aluminum structure was built by Cincinnati’s Vulkane Industrial Arts. If you look closely you can see the butterflies in action I captured.

Kids and their chubby fingers were constantly ruining my photos/bothering butterflies:

I kept taking sneaky photos of butterflies on people:

I’ll spare you the rest of my 15,983 butterfly photos. And in case you were wondering, I managed to make it through without a single butterfly landing on me, maybe because I was wearing a black shirt. One did land on my camera for a second, although that may blow my black theory since my camera is black. Overall it was a fun experience, especially with a camera. If you’re in the Cincinnati area, I recommend checking it out — it’s at the Krohn Conservatory through July 15.

“But I still love technology, always and forever”

20 Jun

Technology and I did not get off on the right foot this morning. It started with my phone, which wouldn’t turn on. I tried the two things that always seem to correct technological problems — I tried turning it on and off, and I smacked it. Neither worked.

Let me back up and tell you the story of this phone. I got it for my birthday last year in December — well not this particular model, but one identical to it. While the rest of the world is obsessed with smart phones, I was set on getting another dumb phone. I feel like I’m not in one place long enough to sign a two-year contract on a smart phone, plus I already have an iPod touch, which is basically an iPhone without a $40/month data plan. So I found a dumb phone with a qwerty keyboard and my parents bought it for me for my birthday. It worked great for two days until my friend with an iPhone sent me a multimedia invitation to a New Year’s party and my dumb phone went into anaphylactic shock. The screen went blank and wouldn’t turn on. Then when I eventually did get it turn on, half the screen was frozen. So I took it to the AT&T store because the phone says “AT&T” on it. When I pulled it out the guy at the counter gave me a “Seriously? There are iPhones and Droids and 3D phones out now and you just bought that phone?” look. He basically told me the phone was crap and that’s why only stores like Newegg.com sell it. Newegg.com must have known it was crap because they would not give me a refund, they just told me to send the phone back and they would send another one. And they did, three days after I went back to London. So when I arrived in the US this time, my shiny new dumb phone was waiting for me. Like its predecessor, it worked fine for a few days, but then it decided to shut off. It wasn’t dead, it just felt like shutting off. And it’s been doing that at least once a day, every day since I got it. Usually I just pop the cover off, remove the battery, replace it, then slap it, and it works again, but my phone wasn’t having it this morning. It would not turn on. After multiple attempts to charge it and several angry slaps, I gave up and put my sim card in my trusty old Sony gsm phone, which isn’t as trusty as I thought because I didn’t receive any of Stephen’s texts. I just ordered a new battery for my dumb phone and hope that will solve the problem.

So I was already angry at technology when I plugged my iTouch into my new computer this morning. Yes… I said new computer. Remember “I am absolutely not buying anything else in the US?” I bought the new Macbook Air. My old Macbook Pro is three years old and I finally decided to take Stephen’s advice and try to sell it before it dies and ends up in the laptop graveyard in my parents’ basement. At least this way my old computer will pay for half of my new one. (Hopefully — I still need to wipe it and list it on Craigslist, which is a whole ‘nother project I’m not ready to attack.) While I was visiting my family last weekend my cousin told me he didn’t like Apple products. I converted to Mac three years ago and have been generally happy with it, but after this morning I know what he meant. “It’s always trying to sync or something,” he told me. So I plugged my iTouch in just to charge it, but iTunes didn’t like that. Alerts kept popping up — “Do you want to transfer photos from this computer to your iTouch?” it asked. “Do you want to update to the latest version of iTunes?” (My computer is brand new, why doesn’t it have the latest version of iTunes?!) “Do you want to update the software on your iPod?”

First I updated iTunes, which took a few minutes. Then I tried to update my iPod, but first it said I had to transfer my purchases. I always avoid synching with iTunes, as nothing good ever seems to come out of a synch. I remember Stephen’s boss’s wife asked us to help her synch her iPhone calendar with her computer. We ended up replacing her full iPhone calender with her empty computer calendar and we weren’t invited back to their house for a while (I kid… I think.) But I think that’s what my cousin was complaining about — why does it assume you want to replace your full calendar/iPod etc. with emptiness? I almost made that mistake with my iPod today. Finally I got my iPod updated and decided to exercise using a video on my computer. I opened the video, which I store as a .avi file, and QuickTime said it wouldn’t work. I had been using this video on my old Mac with no problem, but suddenly QuickTime doesn’t want to play .avi files? So I hit the Mac forums trying to solve my problem. An hour and three programs later, I was able to exercise, but I was already exhausted from technology. I was going to try to erase my old computer today, but I don’t think I can handle the technological stress.

Thanks a lot Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, or random workers at Foxconn (I’m not exactly sure who I should be angry at, but I feel like being mad at someone.)