Gexx in Knoxville

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Day 34 part 2

Posted by Gexx on June 8, 2008

I wrote up two different blog posts in a time period where I had limited internet access. I did other things that I needed to do online as my computer battery died. So here is part 2. It was actually written on June 4.

Aaron and I have recently returned from a trip to Amelia Island, Florida. I have family in South Georgia, and my cousin ( a year younger than me), was getting married to his High School Sweetheart (awwww). They’re both good kids, so I with them the best. While down there, I managed to work on my list. Some worked and some were complete failures.

26 – Sliders, Amelia Island Florida – Try 10 New Restaurants (6/10)
Sliders was across the street from our hotel. Saturday night, after burning ourselves at the beach, we cleaned up and went. We were seated outside, at a cement table with an umbrella, underneath the palms, and looking over the beach that we had been at all day.
Because we love being adventurous… to a point (which is very far)… and I have a thing for local foods, we ordered a bucket of steamed oysters. We also ordered fried pickles… yum! So out comes an aluminum Bud Light bucket (you’ve seen them at bars) filled with 3 to 4 dozen steamed oysters and two shucking knives. Thankfully the knives weren’t sharp. So dinner lasted probibly an hour and a half or even two hours… by the time we ordered and everything and then finished our beers. The food was good!

27 – Try 20 new wines
Helena Blush
Stonehaus Winery, Crossville, TN

When we went down to GA Friday night, I had intended on dinner just being 6 or 8 of us, so I brought 2 bottles of wine. Then I found out that my Uncle and Aunt were flying in a day earlier than I originally heard. Then my uncle hosting dinner decided to borrow his friend’s big BBQ (the big black cylindrical smoker bbq) and get more meat, so soon half of the neighborhood was invited. And I still only had 2 bottles of wine. No worries, not everyone drank, and some brought their own beer. But I managed to try some of the Blush wine that I brought.
The Helena Blush was a very medium bodied, semi-sweet blush. I don’t normally drink blush, but its flavor and its pretty pink color were very plesent. It was not over powering. It had some fruity and floral notes, but nothing too complex.

60: Document a trip with photographs.
FAIL
I had my camera, extra batteries, a capacity on my new card of over 1000 photos. I took maybe 15. A few of us in the car on the way to FL, and a few at the wedding.
I’ll have chances to try again. I didn’t want to bring the camera to the beach, or tote it to dinner, or anything like that. I’ve never been a big camera person, I would rather just go and *DO*.

74Organize Purses, Shoes, and Luggage
Before our trip, I went through all of my purses, shoes, luggage, and all that. I’m sending about 10 old purses to Goodwill

89 – Buy a new pair of jeans I didn’t document that a few weeks ago, Aaron and I went to see Indiana Jones at the mall, and after the movie we went shopping some. I found my good pair of jeans, and they still have the tag on them, being saved for the new school year.

92a – Get rid of 101 objects through donation/sale/giving 10 purses to Goodwill

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Posted in completed, in progress, no. 26, no. 27, no. 60, no. 74, no. 89, no. 92a | 2 Comments »

Day 19… been having fun…

Posted by Gexx on May 24, 2008

27 – New Wine
Stonehaus Winery – Davenport Red (1/20)
Stonehaus Winery is based in Crossville, TN right next to I-40. It’s one of the many wineries in East/Central Tennessee. With our mountains, we have many many slopes with varied conditions – able to support myriad variety of grapes.
Davenport Red is a semi-sweet red wine made from concord grapes. I’ve taken to drinking my wine from a rocks glass, as I’m normally doing other things while drinking, and this time I was playing Wii. Anyway, this wine was served slightly chilled, as it was in my trunk and the day was somewhat cool. It was deliciously fruity – very GRAPEY, a trait I don’t normally find in wine and honestly never expected. Very very full mouthed, not acidic, few tannins, no leather, aprocot, or floral notes. It tasted like GRAPE… it blows my mind. It was sweeter than I would normally have put with food, but it was recommended for pairing with Italian dishes. Good thing the liquer store near my house sells this too… we can experiment.

36 – Ride my bike…
I’m not sure if this counts, as my initial goal for 36 seems to imply transportation over recreation. This weekend, however, Aaron and I decided to take our bikes out. Mine had been out only a few times since I got it in 2004 and his not much since he got it in the last month. So, we looked up some local greenways and found one near his house. We ended up going about 6 miles roundtrip uphill, downhill, uphill again, and then back again. The furthest point of our trip was on a promentory in a Wildlife Management Area looking over the river. Very very pretty.

48 – Fight Club
Chuck Pahlaniuk – Fun book review 4/30
In my freshman year in college, my college roommate watched Fight Club at least once each week. I haven’t seen it in a few years, though, so when I saw it on Aaron’s bookshelf during my raid, I snagged it. It wasn’t long, only about 200 pages, so it was a quick read. I finished it in less than a day.

It follows the general themes of the movie. Certain developments, however, were much better. The movie, I felt, was logical… well, logical enough. The book, however, was so much better.

Pahlaniuk, for example, explains the incidents leading up to Durdan’s employment to a much better level. The narrator’s office life, also, was much more detailed.

Books and movies have always been an odd compromise for me. To simply write a description… and to *show* a scene… and then to FILM… all very different arts. Very different expectations.

Imajica
Clive Barker – Fun Book Review 5/30
Aaron has almost a whole bookshelf full of Clive Barker. So I asked “If I were to read Clive Barker, what would be a good one to start with?” He responded imediately “Imajica” Now, this isn’t an actual review as well… it’s really long. So long that when Imajica was published in paperback, clive Barker realized the type was too small and the book much much to large. So… it is two 500+ page paperbacks. I finished the first in a few days. I’ll read the second within the next bit and write its review.

Anansi Boys
Neil Gaiman – Fun Book Review 6/30

Neil Gaiman is a great story teller. He weaves componants together well. His descriptions and method of *showing* are masterful.

His plot, however, is almost always the same. A slightly unsure “everyperson” finds himself involved in a situation which seems above his ability. At the end, he rises to the situation, often with a Messianic near death/rebirth phase. This theme is seen in the Sandman comics, American Gods, Neverwhere, and now in Anansi Boys.

Anansi Boys plays off of the main theme of American Gods. In AG, old world gods tried to gain followers in America. Here, Anansi, the trickster/spider of west Africa, dies in a Karaeoke bar in Florida. It’s in the first few pages, I’m not telling you anything spoiling. So then his son Charles (Charles Nancy) deals with the death of his estranged father, which includes the discovery of a brother named Spider. Charles had no idea his father was Anansi, he never ever knew that magic occured.

King Solomon’s Mines
H. Rider Haggard – Fun Book Review 7/30

I have been “reading” KSM for a few months now. I acquired it through libravox (www.libravox.org), a site which provides mp3 and ogg audio book files of public domain or creative commons literature. The readers are volunteers, so the quality sometimes leaves one desiring.

There is normally some amount of hype about these “Classics,” and I had wanted to read KSM for a while. The plot is basic: Alex Quartermain, gentleman adventurer/hunter/explorer, is included on a hunt for another gentleman’s brother, who had been searching for King Solomon’s Mines. He goes on the adventure, they almost die innumerable times, and eventually he succeeds. The reader knows that Quartermain will live, as he tells you at the beginning.

The fun, though, is the author’s narrative style. Quartermain is a rough, gruff, adventurer, but the narrative and dialogue are so… proper. The juxtaposition and the story told are interesting. Haggard’s depiction of the “noble savage” irks me also… but that’s just my whole anthopology background coming out.

Roscoe
William Kennedy – Fun Book Review 8/30

I read Kennedy first after having left Albany, ironic, I know. Roscoe is written like Kennedy’s other novels. Albany is a boys club of politics. No one is trusted, sex drives are high, and the good guy doesn’t win. In this novel, Kennedy follows Roscoe, boss of the Albany Democratic Party, through the suicide of Elisha, one of Roscoe’s friends, the Luitenant Governer of New York , and the father of the mayor of Albany. The plot of Roscoe protecting Elisha’s estate serves more as a matrix for other anecdotes of Roscoe’s past… and the past of the other characters who inhabit Kennedy’s Albany: Mac and O.B., cops who executed Jack “Legs” Diamond; Hattie and Mame, women who operate “real estate” and “boarding houses”; chicken fighters; and the elite Fitzgibbons. Colorful, tragic, hopeful, gritty… Kennedy writes well.

47- See a movie without hesitating.
Iron Man – Aaron suggested Iron Man, and while I may have technically hesitated as I wasn’t feeling well, we grabbed some food and I was feeling much better. So then we went. Yay!

70 – COMPLETION The other week the Post Office did a food collection. I took two bags, the one they provided and another, and filled them. One was filled with the stuff justin left behind: saurkraut, fruit salad, hamburger helper, and peas. The other was filled with stuff they might actually want: raisins, mac and cheese, green beans, corn, pasta, and sauce.

88 – Identify 100 things that make me happy
Senor Taco (3/100)

Senor Taco is a local Mexican joint. I would liken it to “Al’s” in “Happy Days” or “The Maxx” in “Saved by the Bell.” The servers know us, we know people there, the food is good, its cheap, and you can ‘t go without seeing atleast one other colleague / department member.
It won the Metropulse’s 2008 award for best Mexican food and best Cheap Meal. The Chili Rellenos are awesome, food specials are regularly quality, and Monday… Monday!! Monday are 2 for 1 margarita nights.
Senor Taco was there during a formative period in my life. This period includes Eric, who encouraged my attendance. When I told Justin to leave, and when he finally left, I moped. Eric, a friend of a friend who I had just met, told me I had to go to Sr. Taco with him one day. Then he called me up a few days later. And then again. I went to Sr. Taco with him atleast twice a week, drinking margaritas, talking to someone NOT in the department, and getting a realistic, non pandering look back at me.
After this, Sr. Taco became the spot where I would meet up with people: cheap food, good service, good drinks. It is where we start our nights out. It is where we get together after class, where we run to after a rough day. Everyone knows how to get there, and everyone can find something they like.
It is a place to meet with friends. It makes me smile.

Writing and Recieving Letters and Postcards(4/100)

I am notoriously horrible when it comes to writing letters. I’ll talk someone’s ear off, but to sit and write to that person I fail. So I’m normally on the recieving end of this, and I know how great it makes me feel. I often end up with postcards from friends who have moved or are traveling. They’re such a surprise to get in the mail. When I was a camp councilor, I would get letters from friends, Kazen sent me a few as did my Latin Teacher. I am going to make an effort to write some letters this year, even as extended greetings on Christmas Cards.
When I force myself to actually take the time to do it, I enjoy writing letters and post cards. I just continue to lack the motivation… something I keep working on.

94, 96: I changed goal 94. While Amphibian Ark is a good group: official, has a plan, all of that. I decided I would rather my money go to Safe Haven Sexual Assault Crisis Center, our local domestic/sexual abuse shelter organization. They provide a safe house for abuse victims, nurses and advocates for doctor appointments and legal cases, and therapists for residual meetings.
I feel that this local organization needs support more than my loved frogs.

This will also be the organization for number 96.

95: Kazen commented that 95 was rather … ambitious. While it might *seem* that way… keep in mind that I will re-evaluate what has not been done. After 500 days, if all goes smoothly I may be looking at heading out of Tennessee. It depends on the thesis and the job prospects. And if I do end up moving, I might need to restart some goals… like cleaning and those regarding houseplants. Some will also be defunct at that point.

Posted in changing a goal, completed, in progress, no. 27, no. 36, no. 47, no. 48, no. 70, no. 88, no. 94, no. 95, no. 96 | 1 Comment »

Day 5 – Good stuff done … not necessarily in the best context

Posted by Gexx on May 10, 2008

I have a weekend with almost nothing to do. Why? Because Aaron isn’t around. He’s down in Georgia with his family as his grandmother is very bad off. As in, the funeral will probibly be this week. So I’m taking advantage of this and cleaning house and generally loafing (the two can be mutually compatable). Basically, doing all the stuff I would normally do if he wasn’t around… “distracting” me. With like, video games, you know.

#5 – By the way, this 1001 day segment started after I turned in a “final” draft of my book chapter. This means that it’s one of the last drafts before the editor gets it. At least, that’s what it seems like to me. Non?

#26 – Saturday I went down to the Farmers Market. Before I headed out, I called Claire up and told her I was heading there, and that she should join me. It was fun. We ended up doing lunch at LaCosta’s. Actually, to use their rhetoric, it was Brunch. They don’t do lunch. Only Brunch or dinner. She had Sweet Potato Pancakes and I had a Burrito filled with eggs and tofu and artechoke hearts and onions and peppers and good stuff covered is a sauce with a name sounding vaguely mexican but basically a fresh, slightly sweet salsa.

#37 – So, i went to the farmer’s market, but left my bag on the table next to the door. This makes it 0/1 since the 1001 days started. (I brought it once to a FM prior to 101/1001)

#38 – Found a CSA farm in my area. There’s only one. It’s only operating from April to September (reasonable for the climate), but it’s $600. That’s about $20 per week. Which may be reasonable, but I don’t know quite what the amount is that comes in a weekly box. I wouldn’t normally spend $20 on produce at my local market (which tries to get local first, regional next, then from elsewhere) where I can be discerning as to what I purchase. I’ll keep trying to look into it. We have so many small farms, but I guess most are monocropping.

#48 – Snow Crash
Neal Stephenson – Fun book review 2/30

As Aaron’s gone, I’m reading a bunch. I just finished Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. I’m torn as to whether or not I like it. I think that at times, Stephenson gets hung up on the details, and at other times he forgets a detail, or seems to, based on the (il)logical turn of events. A character gets information that had only been released to another character. Someone is somewhere they shouldn’t be. Things like that.

Either way, the story is a fun piece of cyberpunk. Governments are more or less disbanded, commercialism has taken over. The few governments that survive are only around because they have become a business In all of this, a high capacity Metaverse has developed where the user can interact with others in a user generated 3D world. Everything from finances to sword play. In short, it seems like Second Life.

The main character, Hiro Protagonist (lolocopterz), starts the book as a delivery guy for Casa Nostra (yes, that Casa Nostra) Pizza. He has a run in with a Kouriour (sic), named Y.T., while delivering pizza one night. This leads to a partnership in collecting information for the Central Intelligence Corporation (nee the CIA, now commercialized) that leads to the realization that viruses may not be exclusively biological or electronic, that Babylon and Sumer are more than a chapter in history books, and just what modern religion (Second Great Awakening ahoy!) is capable of.

The story was good, the characters were fun, the author assumes that the reader will assume. The descriptive passages, however, are awesome. Absolutely awesome.

84 and 86 – I bought 3 tomato plants at the Farmer’s Market. I also bought Rosemary.

92 – In cleaning out my house, I went through all of my clothes and got rid of everything I haven’t worn in the last year, didn’t fit, or that I didn’t like. 62 pieces of clothing are going to Goodwill, and 24 others (socks, underwear, torn jeans) are just going to be disposed. I feel like I should increase that task… Maybe I’ll renew it after 500 days. Doesn’t mean that I’ll stop with my general clean out, though.

Posted in completed, in progress, no. 05, no. 26, no. 37, no. 48, no. 84, no. 86, no. 92, no.38 | Leave a Comment »

Day 3 – Completed my first!

Posted by Gexx on May 8, 2008

So last night we made the Crayfish Fra Diavlo. I’ll just say it was good. That’s an understatement, but I don’t care. It was deliciously spicy, and the crayfish and andoulli sausage went well with the three pounds (!!!) of roma tomatoes that I had to peel.

How to peel tomatoes:
Take a big pot of boiling water and toss your tomatoes in ( a few at a
time) when the skin splits, pull them out. Using the split, pull the skin off. This must be done while the tomato is HOT or else the skin does not come off easily. Yes, it burns your fingers, but it’s the easiest way.

I ended up just using crayfish because the seafood store I went to brings in its stock from Louisiana, so they had prepeeled crayfish by the pound. You could use any seafood for the recipe. Most FraDiavlo sauces are full of shrimp, clams, and lobster. So, here it goes.

Crawfish Fra Diavlo

1.5 pounds tails and fat of cooked, shelled, seasoned or unseasoned crawfish,
.25-.5 pounds andoulli sausage (optional)
1/2 cup white wine, Pinot Grigio
3 pounds tomatos, peeled, seeded, diced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 8oz can of tomato sauce (optional)

1 pound cooked pasta

Sautee the crawfish with garlic in the bottom of a large dutch oven. The fat will melt. Once all of the fat has liquified, drain off about half so that there is only a couple tablespoons left.

Pour wine into pot, let crawfish cook in wine for about 5 minutes.

Put tomatoes, sausage, red pepper flakes in pot, let simmer for atleast half an hour.

Use can of tomato sauce to reach desired consistancy.

Serve over pasta and enjoy.

Just because this one worked out well doesn’t mean I won’t keep experimenting. The local farmer’s market has a local organic farm which sells its livestock and well… some are more unusual.

Posted in completed, no. 32 | Leave a Comment »