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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Around 7:30 pm, PDT on Friday night  (Aug. 5, 2011), we simultaneously lost our Internet connection, long-distance phone, and cell phone service.  Since these are provided by different companies, it surprising.

We turned on the radio and tried some of the local radio station.  They mentioned in passing that Internet was down as far as Garberville at least, and KMUD said they weren’t getting many calls from their listeners (but it might have been because their show really sucked.)  No big fuss and everybody just continuing with their regular music programmes, but then they might not have been able to get any info either.

By midnight we still saw no change, but this morning (Aug. 6) when I let the cats out just after 6 am, I noticed that the router was flashing normally again so I tried and found we had Internet again.  The cell phones are still telling us we’re roaming, though.  I looked online and found no mention on any of the local news sites or Google News.

We thought it might be related to the strong solar flares we were getting yesterday, but that’s just a WAG.  Anybody know anything?

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2010 was a difficult year for most people I know, and for me personally.  I was sick, our car was stolen right out of our driveway, I lost a beloved cat to illness,  I had unexpected (and unentertaining) expenses, work has been very slow, etc.  I stopped writing on my blog early in the year, and we might as well count 2010 as a write-off in terms of blogging.  Even on my more personal journal I hardly wrote anything except to share a few links.  So here’s to hoping 2011 is better for all of us, especially all my unemployed or underemployed friends.

A couple of good things did happen, particularly my starting to teach at Humboldt State University’s Environmental Resources Engineering Department again.  I taught a Solid Waste Management class in the fall, and I was lucky to have a very good group; I really loved my students.  The days I was teaching became the days I most looked forward to in the week.  (But I’ll tell you, teaching brings in very little money for the amount of work it requires.)

Still, I enjoy it and it provides for diversity of income.  I was offered two classes for the spring semester, and I lucked out again by being offered two of my favourite topics.  I will be teaching an Environmental Impact Assessment class and a Water Quality and Environmental Health class, both of which I am very familiar with.  It’s going to be a great big load of work, but what great subjects!  I thought I would take the opportunity to blog about some of the issues we cover because I think they are of general interest.

I’m also going to try to vary my approach to lectures.  I’ve been relying a lot on slides, handouts, prepared lecture notes, etc., but I would like to try more discussion and less “bullet points”.  So I’m revising the notes I’ve used before; the material is still fine, but I want to present it more dynamically.  That said, I will still post the occasional slide presentation for discussion.

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My husband gave me a local cookbook for Christmas, “Locally Delicious”, which was just published about a month ago. I’ve been talking about cooking more often (he does most of the cooking)and we’re both partisans of the idea of eating locally grown or produced food, in season. I was raised that way — my mom always goes into cooking overdrive during the successive harvests of strawberries, string beans, corn, tomatoes, raspberries, etc., and still buys locally produced beef, chicken, bread, cheese, etc.

This weekend I tried three recipes from Locally Delicious: the cross rib roast (Humboldt grass-fed beef cross rib was on sale!), spicy roasted beets, and oven rosemary potatoes. Everything but the rosemary, salt and pepper was locally produced. (OK, the olive oil was regional, from Sonoma County.) All three recipes were keepers and quite easy. I liked that I was able to prepare everything in advance in the morning and leave it in the fridge until I was ready to pop the dishes in the oven.

I like “slow food” and I detest most instant, frozen, highly prepared foods (with some exceptions for brands like Casbah, Newman, and Oetker). I like a seasonal menu that reflects the changes around us. I like restaurants where the dishes taste a little different every time you go because they’re made in small batches by a cook, not an industrial assembly line. I like planning a menu based on what looks fresh. I like the rich flavours of produce and meat that have not had to travel more than a few hours to reach my kitchen. I like encouraging our local producers.

There are resources online for people trying to find out more about their local food chain. A good, food-lover’s book explaining our alimentary systems is Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

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Montreal, where I come from, looks like this today:

The office courtyard here looks like this:

The temperature here is about 7 C (45 F), while it’s -2 C in Montreal (28 F).

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I don’t believe that it’s Jesus’ birthday, but I do like Christmas nonetheless.

I don’t believe that a baby was born to a virgin travelling to Bethlehem. Moreover, even if Matthew (or more likely a later compiler and translator of Matthew’s work) had not added this bit to tie Jesus to messianic traditions but instead had been reported a true (or true-ish) story, it would still have taken place in the spring, not at winter solstice.

I don’t believe that fir trees, chubby white-bearded men in red costumes, flying reindeer, or hard-working elves, have anything to do with Jesus either.

But I like that just about every culture and tradition has created some way of celebrating hope in darkness, the time when nights are at their longest but start getting shorter again (which in the southern hemisphere happens in June, not December, of course). I like that we can celebrate during the same period Christmas, Solstice, Hanukkah, Rohatsu, Bodhi Day, a slew of other “Christian” holidays that used to be more important until the 20th century (St. Sylvester, Epiphany, etc.), and nowadays Kwanzaa (and Muslim holidays when they roll around to a convenient date along the lunar cycle).

I wish we took more advantage of this to celebrate together rather than fight, but we’re not so good at sharing, least of all sharing peace and good will. But every year those of us paying attention can get a glimmer of it, “if only in our dreams” as Bing Crosby would croon.

I like giving presents, especially those I can make myself. I like putting thought into something I hope will make a loved one happy. I like the symbolic light in the middle of the night. I like people genuinely bringing good cheer and children genuinely marvelling at the season. Yes, I hate the fakery, the commercialism, the too-worldly and mercenary children, the feverish hope that people will spend “enough”, but I’m not willing to let these dictate how I should feel about the holidays.

Happy holidays! I’ll be thinking of you.

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Comfort food

I really love Cafe Nooner in Eureka.  I think of all the comfort food available for puchase in town, theirs may be the comfortingest!  I stopped there yesterday — it has become a Sunday tradition for my husband and I — and had their cream of porcini mushroom (mmm, with green onions and garlic) and their Rueben-style patty melt.  Nothing pretentious, nothing extravagant, but hearty, delicious and plentiful food with friendly service.

Some day I must try their decadent-looking desserts…

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A picture I took yesterday afternoon in Eureka.  I loved the contrast between warm and cold colours.

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