Monday, August 28, 2006

Cuisine in Las Vegas...

...Seems to be divided into two categories: really awful cheap food, and fairly nice insanely expensive food. To be fair, eating a vegetarian diet anywhere in the middle of America is always a difficult undertaking, but this trip made me wish I had brought my own provisions with me.

The first night, I had nachos made with cheese whiz. The second night, at a different restaurant in the same casino, I ordered a taco salad, which turned out to be those same cheez whiz nachos, now atop a bed of iceburg lettuce.

The next night I was convinced to go to the casino buffet, which turned out to be a Ponderosa on steroids. The salad bar portion consisted of iceburg lettuce, cucumbers, and anemic tomatoes, to be topped with six dressings and cheese. By this point, I was so desperate for real vegetables, I seriously considered pulling out the raw kale garnish under the ham and nibbling on it.

We did go to one nice chinese restaurant, which allowed me to have a tearful reunion with crunchy vegetables who still remembered where their vitamins were. And the picture attached shows the highlight of my gustatory experience in Las Vegas, when I ate the best darn lemon sorbet I've had in recent memory (two of those three cones are mine).

Round the menu out with daily cheese danishes and espresso for breakfast, and you're talking about a cholesterol level that hit the heavens. We came home and ate salads for a week, and now I'm feeling much better, thank you very much

Live Long and Prosper...

The qual is over! Let there be general rejoicing among the masses! Let the bells peal and the fireworks begin! Just don't ask me how it went. I've answered that question several hundred times, mainly with variants of "I don't know," and "Well, I didn't cry during it (much)." Rest assured, my adoring public, that as soon as I know my results (which should be posted at the end of next week), I will relay them immediately. Hmmm, perhaps not immediately, because I will probably first have to drink heavily - either to drown my sorrows or to celebrate wildly.

In the meantime, here is a bit about my trip to Vegas. My friend Tom, my boyfriend Andrew, and I spent four days in the company of 4000 Trekkies. 4000! That's the biggest Star Trek convention to date, according to the organizers. I've included a snap of the masses listening to Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, and George Takei below, just so you can see what it's like to have so many geeks all in one place.

Our days were packed as we sprinted from autograph-signing lines, talks by the stars (where they recount stories from their past or talk about their current work), and buying souvenir upon souvenir. Andrew came away with seven models of the different Enterprises, Tom walked off with about a dozen signed photos, and I loaded up on kitchy Vulcan keychains, a T-shirt, and a six-pack of Romulan Ale. I promise to report on the Ale when we taste it at our next Star Trek viewing Party. It's intriguingly blue, but distressingly brewed in the Midwest.

Also included is a shot of the finalists in the costume contest . I will soon post a foodie addendum to this post, in honor of my cousin Alexis, who always includes a separate entry detailing her eats when she travels.

In conclusion, a little lesson for my non-Trekkie readers. When someone greets you with "Live Long and Prosper," the correct response is, "Peace and Long Life."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Here's your brain when studying for the Quals - any questions?

I am currently studying for what looks to be the worst test of my life, aka the Quals taken for the third and final time. Having failed both parts of the test twice, I am no longer optimistic. Yet I admit that it would be foolish to give up at this point. So I struggle through, working practice problems I've already worked through several times, yet still can't always complete. I try to comfort myself with the thought that in two weeks, I will never have to take the qual again, whether or not I pass. But it is, I admit, a bit of a cold comfort.

My camera woman wanted me to post a missive on foods to eat while cramming for an exam, but mainly I live on fruit, protein bars, and boxed macaroni and cheese, and hope that my body can live on this for a short period without permanent damage. Actually, that's probably a pretty good goal for this whole month - just try to survive it without permanent damage. I'll survey the fallout of the exam in September and figure out then what to do next.

Next week I'm headed to Las Vegas for a Star Trek convention with Andrew and another friend. We've been planning this trip for a year, and the promise of rubbing elbows with thousands of other Star Trek fans is a beacon of cheeriness in my otherwise rather bleak outlook. Now, I know that even admitting that I'm headed to a Star Trek convention opens me to ridicule, but I know that each and every one of you has a geeky hobby of some sort, so try and have some sympathy. And if you're lucky, I'll get some good video of people dressed in Vulcan Robes or in Klingon regalia, and won't that brighten your day?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Beach Days

Lately I spend six out of seven days studying for my upcoming quals. Sigh... There's nothing more fun than working physics problems for ten hours a day, but on Sundays I allow myself a day off. And for the past few weeks (and this upcoming weekend too) we've gone out to a State Park/National Seashore called Assateague. It's a very long, thin island on the edge of Maryland and Viriginia, complete with beaches, bountiful wildlife, and wild horses. Yes, for reasons that are never explained, several packs of wild horses live on this island.

I'm not normally a beach person, but after spending the long week working in a windowless room staring at papers that command things like, "Use second order time independent perturbation theory to find the shift to the nth energy level," it feels really good to let waves pummel you and just bake your brains out.

So, I'm posting some pictures of me and Andrew stylishly enjoying the waves, and one nice one of the horses. It feels a bit surreal to be wading in the surf and then see a horse wandering by. It might be the one time in my life when I'm happier to see a horse than a motorcycle.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Rag painting

Watch the video
Renee Michelle's mom, Bernice, describes one of Renee Michelle's early decorating efforts- rag painting.?