Friday, May 30, 2008

navigating the job market in the electronic age

jobs that I have applied for: 11
jobs that I have applied for through email or web-based forms: 11
cover letters addressed to a person with a name (not simply "Hiring Manager"): 3
jobs that I applied to that I thought I was qualified for: 11
responses received: 2
non-automated responses received: 0

hope of ever getting a decent job: dwindling swiftly

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

a lesson from the dandelion:

death is the precondition of rebirth
(or, spring must fade to make way for the brightness of summer)

photo taken at Provo High School soccer fields, Sunday 25 May 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

how to make something scrumptious out of unassuming ingredients hanging out in your pantry

With the vague sense that I will be moving soon (never mind that I still don't know where, or even when, exactly), and that it will be easier to transport less stuff than what I have now, I have been trying to get rid of things that I don't need. I have three garbage bags full of clothes and shoes ready to go to D.I., I have been selling some things on ebay (I could make a pretty good living at that... does ebay offer medical and dental benefits?), I have taken note of a few books that I think that I can part with, and I'm sure there are plenty of knick-knacks and whatzits that I can find new homes for.

You might think that I have only considered the stuff in my closet and on my bookshelves. But then you would be underestimating my extremely developed sense of and aversion to waste of any kind. Chalk it up to my being an economist's daughter: it could be environmental or genetic, or both. Anyway, I have lately been thinking that I should make good use of the food that I have in my cupboards, since I won't really want to take cans of chicken broth or bags of flour with me when I move, and I definitely would hate to let them go to waste.

A few weeks ago, I found in my cupboard a Costco-sized container of couscous, a can of chickpeas, and a can of tomatoes, so I looked around the Food Network's website (their recipe search is great) and I decided to make this. I didn't have all the vegetables and I had to be a bit creative with the spices, but it turned out very yummy and boy does it smell heavenly while it's cooking.

Then, a couple of days ago, I was thinking about the tub of plain yogurt in the fridge (we used only half of it to make tzatziki to go with Vanessa's sundried-tomato-couscous-stuffed chicken) and then I spotted (for at least the hundredth time) a huge can of Quaker oats not doing any good just sitting in my cupboard. And I thought, granola!

I turned again to the Food Network's website, and what I ended up making was a sort of variation on a combination of elements of these three recipes. Mmm it's good. Because I like you, I'll share my recipe with you:
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
dash of ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried pineapple chunks, torn into smaller pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut, almonds, pecans, and pistachios. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter and honey. Pour butter-honey mixture over oat mixture and add cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is evenly coated. Spread on a jelly roll pan and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until evenly toasted to a nice golden brown. Let cool, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the pan. Mix in dried cranberries and dried pineapple. Enjoy on its own, or mix with plain or flavored yogurt. Yum!
It turns out I already had a bag of coconut, since I had bought two last year for a coconut custard pie and only used one. My little culinary experiment also helped me get almost to the bottom of the jar of delicious honey that I bought last summer at the Fiddle Creek fruit stand in Idaho, though it didn't make much of a dent in the five-pound bag of pistachios that I bought at Costco who knows when.

So. Here's to yummy granola and culinary experimentation and efficiency in personal foodstuffs management. The end.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

i want what happened in the movie last week to happen this week; otherwise, what's life all about anyway?

I first discovered the joys of Netflix during my freshman year of college. Julie had a Netflix account, and whenever she got a new movie in the mail we would get some lime tostitos or mint pirouettes (or both) and go either to her dorm room or to mine to watch the latest arrival on the big screen of one of our laptop computers. Almost invariably, the movie would end and Julie would be fast asleep, often in some odd contorted position or leaning against the cinderblock wall, and I would either have to wake her up and send her home with her eyes half-closed and her mind clearly waiting in dreamland, or I would turn off her computer, move her glasses to a safer spot than where she had placed them on the pillow next to her, and quietly head out the door, wishing sweet dreams to my friend who I'm sure was already dreaming them.

It was in that year that I began to develop my eclectic, sometimes quirky tastes in music and in film, thanks mostly to Julie, of course. She introduced me to Björk, now one of my alltime favorite artists, and she has quite the knack for scoping out the bizarrest of the bizarre music of the world. One of my most vivid memories from that year is the way that Julie's neighbor would wander in from the adjoining room in their suite and, without fail, ask bewilderedly (not so interestedly), "What are you listening to?"

Off the top of my head I remember only a few titles of films that I saw for the first time that year, but they are rather indicative of my current tastes in the moving picture art form:
  • Genghis Blues ..... I am still very much drawn to eccentric documentaries, like Helvetica, for instance.
  • Dancer in the Dark ..... Oh man Björk is bizarre so nothing really compares, but we can put this in the category of non-traditional musicals, like Once, maybe. Traditional musicals, on the other hand, I usually don't handle well.
  • Behind the Sun ..... As a general rule, it instantly gets bonus points if it's foreign. The Brazilian films that I have seen, like City of God and Four Days in September, tend to be pretty fuerte, but well-made films.
  • Spirited Away ..... I love Miyazaki films. If you have never seen any of his movies, and especially if you are skeptical of and/or averse to Japanese animation (not all anime is the same), go watch Spirited Away or Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind or Princess Mononoke or My Neighbor Totoro (my personal favorite) or anything else made my Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli. Seriously. Go now. Are you still reading this?
I guess that the off-color comedies like Juno and The Darjeeling Limited* have found their way into my repertoire more or less as a result of Little Miss Sunshine. Easily in my top five favorites ever, that movie still makes me cry with laughter every time I watch it, and I cannot even describe how beautiful I find it to be.

I have been watching a lot of movies lately. That list I put up on the sidebar over there is rather long, as you can see, and those are only the movies that I have watched this calendar year and really liked or loved. Maybe I need to get a life. I'm working on that. In the meantime, I guess you could say that I am getting my money's worth from Netflix.

*If you haven't already seen it, I recommend for the sake of, um, decency, that you don't bother with Hotel Chevalier, the short tacked onto the beginning; it's not necessary in order to understand and appreciate the main film. You'll see on the DVD menu that it's easy to skip it. If you feel like you've been cheated out of a few minutes, check out the short making-of documentary. It's actually pretty interesting, and the only things they reveal are the hand-painted elephants on the custom-designed train/movie set.

(This post's title comes from The Purple Rose of Cairo.)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

monopolistic flight incarnate: documentary, unskilful

Those were the first five words, in order, that came up today when I clicked on the OED's "Lost for Words?" button. I first encountered this curiosity while living with Claire, the English major (yes, the English major, never mind all the others), and it somehow became more or less habit to click on Lost for Words early in the day, and then to muse on how the randomly-selected word that appeared would somehow or another describe the day to come. It also works the other way around: if it is already evening, Lost for Words will comment on the past day's events or mood or color or what have you.

You don't believe me, do you? Well, there was this one day when both Claire and I were in the thick of thesis-writing, stressed out and sleep-deprived and nearly brain-fried and even aching from sitting at a computer for countless hours at a time. I was checking my email and the weather and that sort of thing, and I went over and clicked on OED's Lost for Words, and what came up? Karoshi. I commented by gchat to Claire how uncanny it was, and she promptly discovered by the same method her own OED word for the day: foot-shooting. As in the second definition here. Coincidence? I think not. Of course, it doesn't always work so well. I mean, there was that period of a few weeks when banana slug kept coming up. I never did figure that one out. I think it's like the OED's way of saying, "Reply hazy. Ask again later."