Showing posts from June, 2010

The Next Food Network Star, Week Four

Nine contestants left.

This week, the show opens with Brianna saying she needed that win last week. She’s been good at hiding any doubts she may have about her abilities in the contest.

Next up, the finalists file into the Food Star kitchens, were they meet up with Bobby and Giada and a table filled with baskets of chili peppers. Bobby explains that he’s made a career out of working and cooking with peppers, and they require an able hand.

This week’s camera challenge is to cook with peppers and the winner will have their dish featured on the menu at Bobby’s Mesa Grill locations. Giada instructs them that they will present to camera and since the audience cannot taste their food, it will be the contestant’s job to describe the food in a way that conveys the flavor of the dish and brings it to life.

The mad scramble begins as these peppers are first come, first serve. Brianna insists she will be getting the Fresnos, because they are the only red pepper on that table. Serena says …

A Kernel of Information

As is typical for me the past year, I'm in the process of writing a research paper for a Psychology class. Of course, I'm looking for a topic relating to Aspergers Syndrome that fits into the parameters for this class, Psychology of Learning.

The more I think I don't want to go down the Psychology path, the more I find things that lead me back to it.

When you live with a person on the spectrum, so much of each day is spent in thought about the spectrum that you can't help but gravitate towards it as a research topic. Seriously, a paper is assigned and I immediately think "Hey, it would be great if I can find a paper that supports this!," with this being any number of topics that would never have come to mind if it wasn't staring you in the face every day in the form of your child.

The admissions advisor I met last year was so dead on, not even knowing the particulars about my life. When I'd told him what my end goal was, he asked questions about wha…

A Week With The MacBook Pro

It's a cute little thing. In a nod to the Spanish class, it was dubbed 'mi manzana,' and that appears to have stuck.

There are things to adjust to, but nothing too terribly annoying. For instance, at first, I was having a hard time reading the screen. Yes, I know I need new glasses, but did I need the computer to point that out for me? By accident, I quickly found that command and plus enlarges the text. Yay!

There is no page up as I'm used to. There is a command combo for that as well, but I'm not sure what it is yet. That will come soon.

I was trying to type an assignment in Word. For some reason, I'd expected it to be identical, which it is not. It's fine, but you know how you get used to using something a certain way for (almost) twenty years? The functionality is identical, but the cosmetics are different. Like driving a different car.

A friend's husband works for Microsoft and she explained that there are two different development tea…

What Summer Vacation?


The Next Food Network Star, Week Three

My apologies, the school work kept me from watching the DVR'ed episode until today. Ihrough a spoiler, I found out who was eliminated, so I wasn't rushing to see the episode. If you, however, have remained in the dark about the contestant who went home, you'll just have to wait a few more paragraphs.

The show starts at the house in the hills and Dzintra saying that being in the bottom was 'the worst situation I've been in my life.' Then, we see the remaining ten file into the Food Star Kitchen, with the prep tables lined with movie theatre boxes of popcorn.

Giada introduces Season Two winner, Guy, Fieri, who informs the contestants that this week's camera challenge is to create a dish inspired by classic movie genres. Each finalist pulls a card out of the popcorn box and finds what they'll be inspired by.

DAS- Foreign

They've got 45 mi…

Feed Me Friday

It looks familiar, doesn't it?

A familiar favorite took a left turn at Albuquerque. I got the idea to modify my home fries/steak hash routine by making Southwestern Steak Hash. It started with home fries, onions, and diced steak. Added cumin, cayenne and then Cholula and cheese.

Wait a minute, this is Ed's bowl-better add more cheese.

Apparently, I had the right idea. Ed and Chef both had seconds and were complaining there wasn't more.

I guess I need to make more steak so we can have leftovers this way again!

Studying Tips for College Students with ADHD

I've lived for many years with ADHD, diagnosed at the same time as Game Teen nine years ago, and managed fine. However, the demands of studying in college have made it clear that the time of leaving it untreated has come and gone.

In the meantime, a couple of things that have helped me get this far in college without blowing my grades:

*Ask the professors if you can record lectures. I started doing this with my Spanish class last semester and it makes a huge difference. Not only do I get more practice from doing drills while listening in the car, I have found that there are important things I didn't hear during the class the first go round. This semester, I'm recording both live classes.

*Flash Cards. Seriously, they are made for those of us with short attention spans. I had a test tonight that I wrote out all the terms the professor said to learn, then listened to the lectures to put the terms onto the cards. It helped me to retain info.

*White Noise. I have the iPod…

Random Observations From Dining Out

For almost two years, I've been doing secret shopping for a Florida based company. Mostly, it is bars and restaurants, with the occasional foray into other things. Primarily, though, I do restaurants at the rate of one or two a month.

The whole point of the exercise is to be the eyes for the business owner. Think about it-don't you dot your i's and cross your t's when the boss is around? By hiring shoppers to visit, they get the view that the average customer gets.

For me, it was a good side thing to do. I grew up around restaurants and spent all those years in retail. Things I tend to observe might be why the business has been in a slump-or why they've done better but didn't know why.

Yesterday was one of my worst. While there, a friend and I were talking about horrible dining experiences, because this ranked up there for both of us (and she doesn't do shops, she came along at my request.) So, some observations from the experience.

*If customers have o…

The Sign of a Good Recipe

When the menfolk fight over who will eat the leftovers, it's always a good sign.

For a month or so now, Chef has been nagging me to make a recipe he's seen on Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." One of the very first episodes was "My Favorite Obsession," on which Aaron Sanchez extolled the virtues of his mama's Arroz con Crema, which is served at her Zarela restaurant.

Zarela Sanchez describes preparing it on the show and Chef was hooked. Rice, sour cream, cheddar, roasted poblanos, onions, and garlic and it is a creamy, rich side dish that complements the heat of a traditional Mexican meal. I have to admit it sounded really good to me, too, but it spoke to Chef.

Sunday night, I had most of the ingredients (I was missing the onions and poblanos), but I made do with a can of green chiles. The kid has good taste-it was fantastic. It was also ridiculously easy to make.

When I was leaving the house yesterday, Chef and Ed were arguing over wh…

El Segundo Clase de Español

Último semestre, yo tengé mi primera clase de español. Con base en mi clase de francés hacó mucho año en la escuela media, yo no creé qué ese clase seriá fácil.

Este semestre, yo tengo la segunda clase para mi grado de psicología. La profesora es más buena, así yo deseo tener más clases con ella.

¿Que pensaban que ese yo escribo un post sólo en español el año pasado?

(forgive my mangling of the prederitos, I just learned them!)

Tag Along

One thing that Game Teen does that makes me proud on a regular basis is his penchant for immediately putting his hand up at meetings when he hears the words "We need some scouts to..." Someday, it might be "...muck out stalls," but so far, if they want volunteers, he does it.

His brother, on the other hand, is more cautious about what he pitches in to do. Barbeque fundraiser? Sure thing, he's there. Event at the VFW? Sign him up. Standing outside, directing traffic? He'll pass.

However, Game Teen signed up to do it and Ed had to work, so Chef had to go.

He protested and grumbled that "Game Teen didn't put his name on the roster" (Game Teen went up to the scoutmaster directly-he hates writing anything) "It's going to be too hot" and "But I didn't say I'd do it." My response was to tell him that he also needed some community service hours.

We got to the event and their scoutmaster gave them hearty welcomes,…


Many years ago, my circle of friends was full of techies. Early adapters, we all were. I sold computers, a few friends worked in the tech sector, others worked in television production. We all subscribed to the various magazines espousing the joys of new technologies.

It wasn't really a surprise when Bob showed up with a top of the line camcorder that recorded in three modes, when Joe had his first real job and got a four track mixing board (this is a guy who made a drum machine out of a piece of cardboard and pins!) and eventually, we all got computers.

Back then, Ed was dubbed 'Mr. Incompatible', for while everyone who had a camcorder owned a VHS based one, he bought an 8mm. We all purchased IBM clones, he purchased a Mac. At the time, Apple had a 10% market share-and a handle on most of the software that Ed coveted.

When we began dating, I was quite excited to purchase him a 3.5 floppy of Castle Wolfenstein for Mac the day it came into my store. Meanwhile, he was dro…

Feed Me Friday

When I asked Ed what he wanted for dinner, the answer I got was "not Chicken," which left the field wide open.

Plans to visit Land and Sea Market while I was in Brandon this afternoon were scrubbed because the weekly specials didn't appeal.

What to do?

Well, the trip to the local supermarket came up with some thin cut 'spanish steaks' and visions of fajitas danced in my head. Now they can dance in yours
This way works better, because Game Teen can have only cheese and meat, the rest of us can load up what we like. For instance, Chef will load up with cheese and Cholula and mine have a ton of onions.

The best part is that there are plenty of leftovers.

All Sorts of Awesome

Take a catchy song from the 80's, add an actress who is in her 80's (and red HOT right now) and three creative dudes, and this is what you get!

One Letter Makes A Difference

When I'm completing my Spanish assignments, I tend to have Google Translate open in a window. One, so I can make sure I'm translating things properly when a new word crops up. The other is to see if what I write is generally correct-because I know that it is not infallible. (For instance, it doesn't translate gustar-like verbs properly)

So, this morning, I thought sentence was instructing me to listen more than once, if I wanted-but instead, I saw this:

The moral is that escuchar is not the same as eschuchar!


This morning, Ed walked into the living room with swim suit on and towel in hand. "Going for a swim, wanna join me?" For a half second, I thought of 6am swim practices and 60 degree water. Then I realized that we've had high nineties all week.

It was niiiiiiice.

Only problem is, Chef's radar got tweaked that Dad came in, asked me a question and then I got up! So, the relaxing swim in the pool became attack of the hyper kid.

It's okay, it was refreshing.

I could get used to this.

Next Food Network Star, Week Two

Week two, eleven contestants. Still a long way to go, and plenty of challenges to shake down who has what it takes-and who doesn't rise to the occasion.

First up this week is a challenge for all eleven finalists at the Food Star kitchens. Giada presents the plan-each of them will have one minute to prepare one part of her vegetable lasagna recipe to camera. If you're going to host a Food Network show, you must cook and talk at the same time. The trick is, if someone doesn't get their part done, the next person has to incorporate that into their challenge.

It was surprising that it was done without too many fumbles, but there were some missteps. Dzintra is a frenetic mess, Aarti didn't talk much, Serena talked too fast, DAS spent so much time squeezing liquid out of frozen spinach that Doreen has to catch up and she looks stressed out and mad on camera. Aria is the last and she talks like she's talking to a child. They get good constructive feedback-will they…

Back in Business

I am posting from my laptop. My current laptop, just so we're clear. There will soon be a trip to the dark side, but not this week. Soon.

It probably was clear that I didn't have my laptop, what with all the typos in the posts I've made in the past week. There will be some cleanup on posts in the next few days. Meanwhile, I am now running Windows 7 and it's, well, um, how do I say it? Quite mediocre. Guess I shouldn't be surprised by that.

Since several of you have been operating it longer than I have, I'm looking for some answers that (of course) Microsoft does not answer in their search or in the actual hardware features.

First, there's a hover feature that if your mouse points to something on a page for more than a second or two, it opens a new page. Freaking annoying, so I tried to shut it off. However, in my hardware settings, the activate hover over box is not clicked, but it's still doing it.

I'm having a similar issue when I type. I u…

Packing My Files

Twenty years ago, I sold computers. 8088 Epsons, 286 Headstarts and 9 pin dot matrix printers. We didn't have windows- the Epson necessitated DOS skills, while the Headstart offered a graphical user interface, or GUI, that allowed you to navigate through your computer. Heck, the Epson didn't even come with a modem, but the Headstart had a 2400 baud that was considered pretty speedy.

Both machines came with 20 megabyte hard drives and in an era where games like Leisure Suit Larry worked within 300 k of code, and Wordperfect didn't even take up a meg, it was unfathomable that we would need more space.

I contemplated this yesterday as I was debating which external drive to purchase. 500 gig or a Terrabyte? Seeing how a single program produced today wouldn't even fit onto that 20 meg behemoth, the decision was easy. I bought the terrabyte.

As i sit here backing up files onto 4 gig DVDs, it is clear that not much besides 6 megapixel pictures would fit on that drive of ol…

Feed Me Friday

When we visited Busch Gardens last week, Game Teen made a request that we dine at a Tampa landmark. The crowd level at the park was not condusive to leaving for dinner, so i gave him a raincheck for the next time we ended up nearby.

This afternoon, we ventured over to pick up some medications, and the promised meal at Mel's Hot Dog came to be.

And it was good.

I enjoyed a Chicago dog, minus relish. Which begs the question: what do YOU like on a hot dog?

Make it Go Away!

Biology seemed easy enough, but I am flummoxed by where the carvon
molecules are, when ATP gets made and where the heck did those nads
come from, anyway?

Another Year Over

...and vacation has begun. Well, for the kids, anyway!

Now, we are the parents of a (quasi) high school student and a middle schooler. We watched chef's award ceremony this morning. Afterwards, we had the option of pulling him out for the rest of the day.

He decided to stay, because his teacher brought Alice in Wonderland for the class to watch. So, we have the kid who would rather stay in school than leave.

At ten, it is all about the party!


A Tutorial on Several Vodka Drinks

If you order a Bay Breeze, it should be a refreshing mixture of vodka, pineapple juice, and cranberry juice.

Grapefruit instead of pineapple is now a Sea Breeze. Orange juice replacing the grapefruit is now a Madras. Grapefruit and vodka is a Greyhound. Finally, cranberry and vodka has become the hip drink, the Cosmo.

In over a year of secret shops, i have been serve each of the above concoctions when i requested a Bay Breeze.

Tonight, the bartender got it right. Thank you, J!

The Next Food Network Star, Episode 1

It's that time again, Food Network's lineup during the summer includes their reality show, The Next Food Network Star. Those who watch the Network know that one of their biggest stars, Guy Fieri, was the winner of season two-so it can be a good way to find new talent who have great charisma, cooking ability and an idea of their own that's not already on the air.

Last night, rather than ending up on the phone with a friend, I got texts-gotta love the technology advances several of us made in the past year. :)

Shall we talk about the show? Here's what happened!

Bobby Flay introduces the show, what it's about and what the winners will do, then we cut to a house in the Hollywood Hills, where the twelve finalists (up from 10 in previous years) enter the house, a la 'Real World'. They are, in order of arrival:

Doreen Fong, who began cooking because she grew tired of her mom only cooking Chinese food. (She looks like Brenda Song, from various Disney Channel shows…

It's Baaaackkkk!

Sitting here, watching The Next Food Network Star and enjoying the chance to see what lies ahead on my favorite network.

Just like last year, there will be a recap every Monday. However, if you can't wait, Food Network is hosting a Live Chat every Sunday. It was pretty cool to be in it for a while, and have Susie Fogelson answering questions while the show was airing.

See you tomorrow!

Busch Gardens, Plus a Friend

Recently, I got a card in the mail from Busch Gardens that pass holders could bring a friend in free this weekend. So, I called my friend Meghan and asked if she wanted to head over to Tampa with us. She agreed, and we had a very hot, but fun, afternoon at the park.

Last week, Chef visited Busch Gardens with his best friend's family, and his mom got a great picture of Chef grooming the apes. Today, I got pictures of them eating what they groomed!

I love this little waterfall before the large Gorilla habitat.

There was a lot of fun to be made at the expense of some statues...

The reality of the Chiari is that there are very few rides I can still enjoy. Well, I can ride them, but now that I know where the headaches are coming from, I have to decide whether it's worth it. Meghan wanted to go on it, I haven't been on one of these in about 20 years, and we committed to it before realizing it went upside down. She commented that I might get a free neck decompression. That…

School, School and More School

In the past three days, I've been on two university campuses, a high school campus and Chef's school campus.

It's the end of the year for the boys and Chef enjoyed the 5th grade trip to Sea World today. The weather was great, he spent it with two of his buddies from class and he insisted I come pick him up, even though we live within walking distance of school!

The campus visit in Tampa earned us some meds for Game Teen, a copy of Windows 7 for me to restore my machine and a visit with a potential employer on campus. We'll see what the next month brings.

Yesterday, Ed and I sat in a room with six educators who all agreed with what we've been saying in IEP meetings for years. This IEP is the most thorough one we've received. It was suggested that Game Teen attend the high school with a one to one aide at his side all day long, so that he can reap the benefits of a large course offering and neurotypical students that can model appropriate behavior.

For now, w…

Green Skies Equals

For the third time in my life, I saw green skies as I looked out the window of the computer lab today. The two staffers had commented about how nasty it had become outside, and I commented that Holy Crap, the sky is green and that's what I've seen before tornadoes in the past.

Ten minutes later, in the middle of taking an exam, the power went out. It would remain so for nearly an hour. (A quick email on my phone to the TA got my exam reset and ready for when the power returned, as she was in St. Pete and experiencing better circumstances). The staffers and I chatted while we waited for the power to return.

Reports came from the facilities staff that quite a few light poles got knocked over just north of campus and it took out the campus transformer (the news reports got it wrong). Apparently, if power didn't return by 3:30, the powers that be were going to cancel evening classes. Another report said we did have a tornado just a half mile north of campus.

In all, fift…


Not the thing to be dealing with when you have tests in online

Here's Some Fun for You

While my nose is buried in seven chapters of various psychology books, to prepare for two tests in two days, here's a test for you:

It's an example of the Stroop paradigm.

Have fun!