Life of Megan

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Current Projects

What I've been up to lately:
-- Work
-- Running
-- Trivia on Wednesdays
-- Cooking
-- Eating (the two appear to be closely related)
-- Gardening
-- Landscaping (removing ugly + thorny bushes)
-- Rick Bayless Twitter contest (technically, this is cooking)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

This year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is January 18. To help us remember the influence and message of MLK, I give you the text to the "I have a dream" speech.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Things I've Been Doing

I feel like I should update my blog, but I don't have anything in particular to discuss, so here are some things I've been doing lately:

-- cooking
-- running
-- playing board games
-- playing bridge
-- getting ready to close out a project
-- playing with Python and Matlab
-- not picking at my nails

Monday, December 28, 2009

Makeshift Dinner

This morning, as I was making our coffee (which takes a while, since we use a Chemex), it occurred to me that we didn't really have any food in the house, and that planning for dinner in the evening, when it was snowy, might be a problem.

So I took a quick survey and discovered we had some dried beans. I got out our crockpot and poured in the beans. Then I chopped an onion and added it. I added two bacon ends, retrieved from our precious supply in the freezer (no Piggery until the spring market!). I added a little bacon grease and some salt. Then I turned the crockpot to low, put the coffee in thermoses, and went about my way.

Judson noticed the beans cooking this morning and offered to pick up anything I'd need for the rest of dinner. I asked him to get a vegetable and some garlic. He picked kale.

Tonight, I finished up dinner in around half an hour. I chopped some garlic and onion and a chipotle in adobo sauce. I boiled the kale until it was just tender in salted water in one pan. In another, I sweated some garlic and onion and then added rice, cooking over medium heat while stirring until the rice had turned a milky white. I then added water and salt, brought it to a boil, covered, and reduced the heat to low to finish cooking the rice.

After the kale was tender, I drained it and rinsed it in cold water to stop the cooking. Then I ran it through our salad spinner. I melted about 2 tsp of bacon grease in the pan I'd used to cook the kale, then sweated the remaining garlic and onion. I added the chipotle, and then the beans and some of their cooking liquid. When the rice was finished cooking and resting, I added the kale to the beans and added some lime juice and some epazote (not really necessary, just interesting).

I served the rice and beans with some flour tortillas we had left from early last week (they seemed fine). Good dinner, cheap, and easy!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Last Year's Resolutions

Last year, on Dec. 28, I posted a bunch of resolutions for the year. Here's a review and how I did.

Greater than 75% Probability of Success

  • Lose 5-10 more pounds and keep the weight off
    Done! My weight has fluctuated a bit since the fall began, but I have consistently kept off a total of 45-50 lb since I began my weight-loss journey, May 2008.

  • Write back to people who send me letters and things
    Sadly, I was not nearly as good with this resolution as I'd hoped. I'll be trying again this year!

  • Continue to learn and to keep a great attitude at work
    Despite adding a bunch of responsibilities to my job, I think I've been quite successful with this one.

  • Advance my running to the next level
    Victory again! I built up to nearly 45 miles per week while training for the marathon and have stayed injury free. After the marathon, I cranked it back a bit. I'm currently revving back up to 30-35 mpw. I think 45 is probably a bit much for me.

Greater than 50% Probability of Success

  • Incorporate strength training into my exercise routine
    I was successful at first but then stopped trying. Better luck next year.

  • Train for and run a fall marathon
    Yes! I ran the Wineglass Marathon in October, finishing in 4:23.

  • Dress myself more professionally
    I have my moments, but I still dress like a casual engineer.

Less than 25% Probability of Success

  • Leave my fingernails alone
    I currently have white showing on all ten nails. Does that count? I'm going to try much harder this year. I need a plan.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice Run

Today is, I believe, the first day of winter. It was also the first time in months that I went running when the windchill was under 20 F.

Actually, the windchill was about 11 F when I headed out. There was a constant wind, and, to make matters worse, it was quite gusty!

To ward off the cold, I donned my fleece-lined tights, two long-sleeved technical t-shirts (one of which had a half-turtleneck), light-weight convertible glove mittens (in mitten mode), and a hat. I covered my face, neck, and the bottoms of my ears in Vaseline.

I felt pretty comfortable, but I wish I had chosen a lighter weight t-shirt for the second shirt.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Airport Hijinks

I spent the last few days in SC with my family, celebrating my brother's graduation and having a grand old time. Today, it was time to return to the cold North. Never have I been so grateful I booked my flight with a connection through Atlanta.

At any rate, yesterday, I failed to consider what might happen as a result of the Nor'easter that shut down the mid-Mid Atlantic region. I just checked to make sure *my* plane had made it to Charlotte. I checked in online, printed my boarding passes, and checked my bag (thus saving $5). Then, at half-past hatey o'clock, my dad and I departed for CLT.

Things looked pretty bad when I arrived about 55 minutes before my flight. The baggage drop-off line, reserved for folks who have boarding passes and checked-luggage receipts, had a long line. After about five minutes, it became clear the line wasn't moving. After about 10 minutes, I figured out why: all the weather snafus had led to hundreds of people waiting in line since 5:00 am or earlier, trying to get rebooked and to make their 7:00 am flights. Most of them appeared to be missing those flights.

It took me 30 minutes to drop off my checked bag. Things were starting to look pretty dismal for catching my flight. My flight was to leave from the A concourse, but that line looked at least 40 minutes long. I walked to the B-concourse line. Also bad. C? Abysmal. I finally found myself in the D/E-concourse line. By this time, I knew I'd need to be lucky and to run to make the flight, so I started asking people in front of me what time their flight was set to depart. This, smiling, and someone who happened to be able to translate to a Russian group got me ahead of about 12 people.

Fortunately, I decided to bring only my purse for carry-on, so I sailed through security, picking up my shoes at 7:06 or so. This was a problem: my flight's departure time was ostensibly 7:15.

Still, I hadn't heard any final boarding calls, and my name hadn't been called, so I decided there was hope. I slid on my sneakers but didn't tie them. I grabbed my baggie of hand sanitizer and lotion. I threw my purse over my shoulder, and I ran.

Incidentally, even though the A-concourse line is fairly close to the D/E-concourse line on the check-in side of security, they are much farther apart on the other side. I didn't let that bother me. I just ran. I even ran down the people mover, which earned me a number of very dirty looks from various airport employees.

But it paid off. I arrived at the gate just as they were checking in the last of the stand-by passengers.

Forty-five minutes or an hour later, we actually took off. I'd be annoyed about the running (and subsequent asthma attack--I should have used my inhaler while waiting in line but didn't), but I know that they wouldn't have let me on if I had arrived much later than I did. And anyhow, I didn't hold anyone up.

We arrived in Atlanta about 20 minutes late, which meant that I got to hurry again just to make the connection to Syracuse. This time, though, I had enough breathing room to use the restroom.

In Syracuse, my luggage was second off the conveyor belt. I'd say it was a pretty good travel day for me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ouch, that was a long hiatus

I'm back!

In the last month and a half, I discovered film noir and detective novels (I read and watched The Maltese Falcon, and now I'm reading The Glass Key, also by Hammett). We finally got ourselves library cards, so I have added Hammett's The Thin Man and Chandler's The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely waiting in my queue.

I ran the Wineglass Marathon on October 4, finishing in 4:23:11. I had a fantastic race and only needed to walk a total of about two minutes away from the water stations. This was an improvement in my PR of nearly an hour! The monster month of training really paid off for me. I am planning to race another marathon next fall and think I can do even better, now that I know how much rest I need.

We had a great summer with our garden. Now we're down to herbs, spinach, lettuce, and chard. Judson planted some wheat to act as ground cover for the winter.

Seems like enough updating for now. I'm thinking about starting a little side project. I'll let you know soon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Twitter + Facebook = No Blogging?

Between ramped up running training, increased responsibilities at work, and my discovery of Twitter, it seems I have forgotten my blog. I'm sorry. I will try to do better.

Judson and I finally bought Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (both volumes!) after seeing Julie & Julia and have been testing some of the recipes.

The ratatouille recipe is excellent. To be honest, I'm not sure whether I had even eaten ratatouille before picking up the book, but it is a revelation. Aside from baba ganouj and things that are definitely bad for you (moussaka, eggplant parm), I think this is the first eggplant dish that I've actually liked (and it's definitely the first time I didn't hate parsley). The whole process is very time consuming. You salt eggplant and zucchini and wait. You concasse a bunch of tomatoes. You slice peppers and onions. And then you cook the ingredients in small groups (eggplant + zucchini, in batches; then peppers and onions and garlic, then add tomatoes). And then finally everything goes together. But in the end, all the vegetables have retained a lot of their original texture and flavor while still having merged into this delightful, beautiful stew. Plus Judson and I had a revelation: we could double the squash and leave out the eggplant, and suddenly we had an extremely freezer-friendly application that would use our bazillion squashes.

This brings me to our garden. It is thriving! We actually have tomatoes, a rarity in NY, which was heavily stricken by [early] late blight. It took them a very long time, but they now seem to be ripening in droves. We also have a ton of summer squash (as you may have surmised) and tomatillos. Our tomatillo plants are some sort of freakishly large, overly productive tomatillos. If you are making a tomatillo-themed B-movie, please contact us for man-eating plants. We have many delicata squash that appear to be ripe or nearly ripe. Incidentally, a delicata squash is a winter squash with all the great qualities of butternut and none of the failings (it's sweet and delicious, but oblong and easy to slice and peel). We have kohlrabi, which tastes like broccoli. We had a great run with our beans. We have beets (second round!) and swiss chard and other greens. We have a flourishing herb garden. I should really figure out how much money we've saved on herbs. I think our cilantro is succeeding in bolting, but we just planted a new crop, and I believe it has plenty of time to develop. We also have basil (many types!), thyme (many types!), tarragon, chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, oregano, mint, and other things I'm forgetting. One sad point is that our summer was so mild that it looks as though our little charentais melons won't have enough time to mature before the fall. I'm not sure whether we'll pull our garlic, leave it, or pull it in order to replant it in the Fall. Even our border flowers, nasturtiums and marigolds, are doing well. This is definitely a project we'll continue next year.

We made bacon ice cream. It's heavenly.

Krista is doing well.

My marathon training is coming along pretty well. I'm in the homestretch (of the difficult part) now. This week and the week after next will be the hardest in all my training. Then it's tapering for a while and the big race on October 4. I hope it cools off (a lot!) by then.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Eating Locally in Ithaca, NY at the End of July

Well, I just saw Food, Inc, so I've been thinking about eating locally a bit more than usual. Of course, in Ithaca, we have an excellent Farmer's Market, a strong population of hippies and environmentalists, a ton of farming, and decent land for home gardening. Aside from our hatey weather, things are good.

We are currently faced with an onslaught of summer squash (a yellow variety, can't remember which) from our garden. We also have green beans, fava beans, practically any herb you could want, chives, beets, and various greens (Swiss chard, escarole, sorrel, borage, and some old and very bitter lettuce).

In our CSA box, we received: more squash, napa cabbage, baby bok choy, scallions, and a big cucumber.

At the Farmer's Market, we bought: blueberry-sage sausage, smoked andouille, and bacon from The Piggery; Keuka gold potatoes from Sabol's Farm; blueberries; corn; and tomatoes (some guy has a greenhouse!).

Ultimately, we only needed a few groceries from a store. These included milk (local), whipping cream (local), gruyere, parmesan (we are down to rinds--need to make soup), coffee, oats (for granola), dried fruit (also for granola), and beer (Brooklyn Brown). The gruyere and whipping cream weren't really necessary, but they make life better.

Yesterday, I cooked up the blueberry sausage (one 3.2-oz link each) with mashed potatoes (featuring chives from our garden); squash sauteed in butter and garlic and tossed with gruyere and parmesan; and green beans, boiled and then tossed with the leftover butter from the squash pan.

Tonight, I cooked again. This time, it was the Zucchini Breakfast Casserole from Simply Recipes. I served it with a salad (lettuce, cucumber, onion, homemade honey-dijon vinaigrette). Then we had the blueberries with a little whipped cream and cinnamon-sugar for dessert.

For the record, we found that the Zucchini Breakfast Casserole dish actually serves six people for dinner, if they have appetites similar to mine and Judson's. I target 2300-2500 calories per day and often have a light lunch.

I might update this as the week goes on, or I might forget.

So far, it's been a delicious (and possibly a bit too rich) week.