Friday, October 1, 2010

Kelvin Slush

(Image via: http://penelopetoop.blogspot.com/)

I recently started a class at the New School, and on my walk down there from midtown, I've discovered several delightful food trucks which I'd like to share with you. The first one I stopped at was the Kelvin Natural Slush Co.

Basically, you take any ideas you have about slushies from your childhood 7-11 and throw them out the window. Then, you choose a slush base from three flavors (ginger, citrus, or tea) and add a mix-in. These vary seasonally, but always look pretty fabulous and include things like blood oranges, lychee, and pink guava. You also have the option of adding a scoop of ice cream, or additional mix-ins. I think the ice cream would be really wonderful, but I didn't try it when I went.

I did try a ginger base with basil, and it was amazing. If you don't already know that you like ginger drinks, I might not start with it, since it's a strong flavor, but if you do, it's wonderful, particularly on a hot August day. I can't seem to find the price online, but I remember thinking it wasn't abnormally high for NYC, and that the slush was completely worth it. If you'd like to check it out, and I certainly recommend that you do, you can find their current location on their twitter.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Air Conditioning in and around 10011


Leah and I experienced a range of A/C temps today. The Sunoco gas station near the BQE entrance by the Gowanus Canal reported a temp of 90; Batty (my car) logged 97-107.

550 7th st., brooklyn, 4th floor: Bearable. In Julia's room, cold.

g train, church ave bound: Fine.

batty: No A/C. We nearly died while looking for parking (futile). Thighs seared upon contact with leather interior.

gristides grocery store: TUNDRIC. We actively bought less because we couldn't stand it. Cut our shopping short!

360 w. 22nd st. laundry room: not memorable.

360 w. 22nd st. 5th floor: Cold. One can comfortably wear Carhartt's and long sleeves.

General outside: Too hot for long sleeves, but while wearing long sleeves in preparation for entrance to frigid grocery store, had to remove one sleeve of the garment.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Darjeeling, India from 9-29 April, 2010

Darjeeling is one of several hill stations in the West Bengal state of Eastern India, bordering Nepal. Any Indian who can afford to escape the parasitic heat of the plains, Delhi, Mumbaiharu* during the spring before the monsoon does so by coming up here. You can’t even get a seat on a reserve AC train nowadays, and the jeeps up from Siliguri are packed full; young guys even hang off the ladder in the back. I spent three weeks in Darjeeling during April, and I would like to tell you about my experience there, because maybe you want to travel to India, and also some interesting things happened.
* haru is a very useful Nepali suffix meaning “and others;” so “Fulbrightharu” means my friend Emma and her fellow Fulbrighters. “Mumbaiharu” means hot places like Mumbai.
1. Weather

While Siliguriharu are 38º-45ºC, Darjeeling hovers around 20º, a bit warmer in the sun. It rains fantastic many nights, there’s lightning and thunder and terrific winds and it’s just like being in a movie, with sheets of peanut m&m droplets pouring down. It’s like the shower. My house, like all of Darjeeling, was built into the side of a steep hill looking across a valley. On the other side are other villages and in the center a dry riverbed. You can see a dry waterfall, which rushes full during and after the monsoon. Fog comes in the wrinkles of the hill like the wisps of a long beard, unfurled Q-tip, some kind of cloud comma. Low clouds look like a hand clawing over the peaks to take out all the dry. One time there was a big anvil across the valley, over the village opposite my room. I could see black sky with stars on three sides and Zeusian bolts of lightning hitting the ground below. The hills were close enough to see the individual bolts, like a doodle. But on all other sides, black and starry. Rare.
2. Water Carrying Vehicle Accident
One day, maybe Monday the 19th, I was walking up my road to Chowrasta, the center of town. Maybe I was going to internet or to buy biscuits. Every road is like a bobby pin and very steep. In Darjeeling people are fit from so much walking uphill and down. And when I reached the guest house with the pretty fence, there was a massive crashed water carrying vehicle. It had skidded down the very vertical dirt slope from Chowrasta, probably 40’ above. Where the truck had skidded was clearly visible; fresh and damp dirt smelled summertime and planting, even down to the road, where the pavement was broken away and the pretty fence crushed into the guest house. Glass and rocks and dirt strewed the road. The whole truck was upside down, and inside the cab was shattered glass and the bent steering wheel and decals of Hindu gods and pompoms and maybe that dark stain was blood but maybe not. The very verticle slope continued down the other side of the road and it was beyond remarkable that the truck didn’t just keep on skidding down.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

JQA Dollar Coin

The John Quincy Adams dollar coin was released May 16th, 2008. Do you know where you were on that day? Kristin and I were in our last few days of college. I can safely say that it was raining in the northern suburbs of New York City. We remained unaware of this dollar coin's release until March 27, 2010. When did you first discover JQA?

What we like about this coin is mainly just the muttonchops. Neither Kristin and I really count JQA as one of our favorite presidents, but his style is a welcome addition to the US currency.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

durham to chapel hill: comparative review of roadways

Rarely have I regularly commuted by a car. For the past weeks, I have been driving daily about an hour round trip from Durham to Chapel Hill.

15 501: this is the main highway that is very convenient to get to from my house. All is well with this one until you get to the part where there is eternal construction, and what I have known for years as The Longest Light Ever at the Garret Road intersection. You might think that is the worst that it gets, but wait until the section known as Fordham Blvd. The woman who owns the farm I'm working at describes this bit of road as Torturous. There's no way to avoid Fordham Blvd., but I find it somewhat more bearable if I avoid getting on 15 501 for as long as possible....

+ Fast in theory....though only if there isn't traffic which is basically never
+ Easier access to other roads like I40, the Freeway etc...
+ You don't really have to worry about deer
+ It's easier to just stay on this road rather than turn off, especially at rush hour on the way back from CH to Durham.
+ there is a conveniently located bojangles
- People are aggressive
- People drive really fast and try to run you off the road
- It's crowded and there are lights and there's always construction
- I'm pretty sure they took down the best billboards which said Walk to Duke/Bike to UNC
- I feel worse about humanity when I am on this road


Erwin Road:
This is a "secret" rural road that goes basically from my house to the start of horrible Fordham Blvd. essentially cutting the amount of time spent on 15 501 in half. I've always known it as Old Erwin, but apparently the street signs just say Erwin. This road is the best because it's scenic, but get this: the speed limit is the same as the majority of the bad part of 15 501. Also, this road has a lot of landmarks on it for me: my middle school, a lot of childhood friends lived off it, and the pool we used to go to in the summer. It is dark and wind-y...one house actually mounted a mirror on a tree across the road from their driveway which I have always thought suggested that tricky and/or dangerous situations have occurred there in the past.

+ so lovely in the sun dappled light of afternoon
+ lots of flowering trees this time of year
+ sights include: my middle school, a church with active wayside pulpit, a horse farm
- lots of deer a night, I'm always terrified of hitting them
- people blind you with their brights nonstop on this road
- I always get stuck behind slow people
- the round-about at the durham end of the road is always nonstop confusing
- it isn't really a secret so sometimes it can be busy

Verdict: why would anyone not take old erwin? my quality of life is so much better after taking that road.



this is as pretty as it gets on 15 501...

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

My friend Carlea has been watching all of AFI's top 100 films, and while I was searching for something vaguely productive to do while it was raining yesterday evening, I took a bit of inspiration from her, and decided that I'd try to watch at least a few of the most famous ones on the list. Particularly the ones that are available instantly on NetFlix.

So, we come to Guess Whos Coming to Dinner (#99), a film about an interracial couple who announce their wedding plans to their parents, none of whom are too terribly pleased to hear it. I'm not sure I can do a really complete review of this film, but I'd like to bulletpoint a few of my thoughts on it, and I hope you'll leave some comments with your thoughts on the film, also, so we can get something a little more cohesive together.

  • Katharine Hepburn is pretty much the most amazing woman on the planet. She's just so great. Her costumes in this are fantastic, and she has such a command over the film. Spencer Tracy is also charming.
  • Working for a newspaper and an art gallery used to be way more glamorous than it is now.
  • If these were my kids, I'd be much more concerned about their decision to get married after knowing each other for two weeks than the color of their skin. I definitely get the sense that they don't really know each other, and I think knowing someone is a pretty big qualification for getting married. Although, things seem to have been different in the late 60s and early 70s. My parents moved in together after only knowing each other for a week, and 30 years later, they're still together.
  • Sidney Poitier is almost as beautiful as Katharine Hepburn, and better at conveying emotion. He withholds something very powerful in this film and you can see it nearly brimming from him.
  • I was fascinated by the way racism is portrayed in this film as so completely obvious and so completely latent. However, I wonder if it doesn't perpetuate racism somehow by silencing two of the black characters who disapprove of the marriage, instead of allowing them a change-of-heart in the way that Joey's parents are allowed one. I'm not sure how far I can go with that, but I found it noteworthy.
  • I believe the film would have been vastly improved by cutting Joey's father's speech at the end by about 10 minutes. If he'd analyzed his own personal racism, and then given his approval, I think it would have been much more effective than giving a plot summary and then his approval.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Holi

Sunday 28 Feb was the biggest day of celebrating the holiday Holi in the Kathmandu Valley. Even though the story of Holi is pretty disturbing, it seems to be a holiday about fun and color and impish mischief. The story of Holi is this: One king of demons, Hiranyakashipu, tried to kill his son Prahlada, but he could not be killed because of his intense devotion to Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu’s daughter Holika had a special shawl that kept her safe from fire; Hiranyakashipu thought that if he wrapped Holika in the shawl, put Prahlada on Holika’s lap and put both children on a pyre, Prahlada would die and Holika would live. Actually, Prahlada’s devotion to Vishnu caused the shawl to fly from Holika to him, and ultimately Holika died and Prahlada lived. Later Vishnu came and killed Hiranayakashipu. (For this information, thank you to the guy on the Pharping bus and Wikipedia.) Maybe the link between Holika dying and women getting water thrown at them is because Holika's faith in Vishnu wasn't strong enough to keep her protected from the fire, and Vishnu is associated with water, or maybe it's because water extinguishes fire. I am not sure. In any case, people of many religions celebrate Holi. This article from the Himalayan Times tells about members of Nepal's Constituent Assembly celebrating Holi.

The whole valley, from Bouddha to my village of Pharping, was full of people throwing water at each other for the past three days. Groups of kids stood around and waited for passersby they could attack with lolas, or water ammo, like balloons and squirt guns or just buckets of water. Some of the water is very dirty or colored with powder or dyes. The colors are actually quite toxic, yet all around town people were covered with powder residue and painted their faces with toxic metallic paints to celebrate. On Friday ago I rode 20km to KTM on a motorbike with my co-worker Phurba and we were pelted with three water balloons. Then Sunday morning in Bouddha, I had litres and litres of water dumped on me, many water balloons thrown, lots of water squirted at me from makeshift plastic water bottle guns, and was freezing and miserable on the 90-minute ride back to Pharping. It was like I had taken a shower. I had wet hair, was soaked through to the skin, wet underneath long underwear and my chuba and my sweater.

I guess Holi is fun--I'd feel like a spoilsport saying it wasn't fun--but actually I was uncomfortable and dirty and then anxious and irritated. Plus, mainly girls are targeted with lolas. In Holi-focused newspaper interviews, people said extreme things, like The government should regulate the selling of water guns or Boys throwing lolas should go to jail. But this type of communal neighborhood raucous activity is endemic to Nepal, and I can't imagine it will change any time soon.

Pressure Cookers


Pressure cookers: the thing of the future! Or the past. According to my mom: “It was the Big Technology of the 50’s & came to represent a Betty Crocker life, so was despised in the 60’s.” Well, they’re easy to use and efficient with resources like gas or an outdoor fire and cook really quickly and I love them.

In Nepal, a 5-ltr. pressure cooker will cook enough dal for eight people for two-three days, in under thirty minutes. First fry tomatoes and onions with masala, then add rinsed dal and fill it up with water halfway. Let it ffffssssst three times and then open it and taste—may need some more time or water or salt.

Some tips: if you’re cooking outside over a fire, smear the pot with mud—a very good insulator. Sealing the lid is tricky; realize that it’s elliptical and must be inserted with the lid handle at 90º to the pot handle. Make sure all the steam is out before you remove the lid, and if the lid still sticks, hold the steamhole open (with a piece of cloth or cardboard because it’s kind of hot) until all the steam is released and then bang the lid in.

In addition to dal, pressure cookers boil potatoes and cassava/yam-type roots so fast, bake cakes supposedly, and cook especially delicious rice (even better if you have Bhutanese or Sikkim red rice). Plus they make this fantastic loud ffffssssst sound when the steam comes out.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

waking up at 5am

Recovering from having spent the past few weeks in a time zone that is 7 hours earlier, I can't stop waking up at 5am every morning. Prior to this, I had never woken up so early on purpose. Generally 5am signifies going to the airport (which is a bad feeling--I don't like airplane travel) or possibly having stayed up all night.

Waking up on my own at this time is actually not too bad. I would actually like it if didn't also mean that at 8pm I basically fall asleep wherever I happen to be. It's nice to be able to dawdle around and then find that it's only 9am. It's nice to be up early and not to have all the anxiety of having to be somewhere before it gets light out.

In conclusion, I am torn between wanting my normal sleep schedule back and wanting to embrace this opportunity for a strange sleep schedule (one of my goals in life).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Public Enemies

On the plane back from Iceland, I saw Public Enemies. I’d heard about it last year, when my book club considered reading a book about John Dillinger because it was coming out, and I remember really enjoying the posters for it, but overall, I’d more or less forgotten about it.

I’m glad it was showing on the plane, though, because while I don’t think it was a masterpiece, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The film follows John Dillinger (played by Johnny Depp) during his time after his first nine-year imprisonment. It begins with his plan to break his friends out of that jail, and continues to his death a year later. In between, we see him fall in love with Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard), rob several banks, and travel around the Midwest pursued by Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) in fantastic clothes and cars.

The acting, despite some very cheesy lines, was pretty good, and I sort of enjoyed even those cheesy lines. Obviously no movie can cover all issues, and this one does really brush over women’s rights, and the media circus that seems to have been forming in a big way in this era, but I was able to forgive this while watching.

Overall, though, there was something really lovely and American about the film. The landscapes are both lush and barren, with enormous, empty apartments, gilded banks with real safes, and the omnipresent road that permeates both this movie and, I think, American culture. The costumes, also, are gorgeous, and even the simplest dresses and suits carry an air of glamour that just doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

The whole movie had the overall feel of a 1930s gangster flick, and given my love for all things 1919-1950, I enjoyed it quite a bit more than any other movie in recent memory. If you’re in the mood for a bit of a distraction, I’d say go ahead and rent Public Enemies. I can’t attest to whether it’s at all historically accurate or not, but it has some really beautiful scenes and feels appropriate for us right now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Avatar

On Saturday evening, I went to see Avatar with my boyfriend and some friends. We saw it at the Geneva Movieplex in "Real-D." The Geneva Movieplex was fantastic, because with student IDs, we were able to get two tickets for the 3-D movie and two medium popcorns (we were buying for friends, also) for $26. Considering that in White Plains a 3-D movie is $15 for one ticket, I was immediately fond of the Geneva Multiplex.

Now, for the movie itself. Roger had read some reviews that called the movie racist, and I didn't find this, although maybe I'm attuned to that sort of thing differently than some people. Yes, the Na'vi take characteristics from many oppressed races. However, I don't think this necessarily becomes racism, because the characteristics are taken from so many different peoples. Additionally, the nice part of making this science-fiction is that the oppressed can rise up against the oppressors and actually win. In many other movies like this, there's a sense of being lied to, where perhaps we see a win, but we know that in reality, this win is only momentary. With this movie, we can imagine that it is permanent, and I love that.

However, not being racist didn't make this movie well-written or amazingly original. The story is pretty much exactly what we've seen in Fern Gulley, Pocahontas, and Dances with Wolves. Boy-oppressor comes to wreak havoc on natives, falls in love with native-girl, switches sides and helps save native-girl's people. The dialogue is outright bad at points. And, Cameron ends his film with a song with lyrics that did not appear in the movie. I know the same practice got him that coveted 14th Oscar nomination in Titanic, but it's bad form and I don't like it one bit.

However, the special effects are amazing, and make the entire movie worth seeing. Generally, 3-D films give me pretty bad headaches because my eyes are flickering back and forth so quickly trying to take everything in. However, Cameron seems to have pre-empted this, and although the cinematography is detailed and beautiful, there's never too much going on in a given shot. The coloring of the film is gorgeous, as are all the animals created for the movie. And, while other films shot in similar ways look completely animated, miraculously, Avatar is seamless. It combines animation with live-action and if we didn't know that Pandora isn't a real place, it would be difficult to tell the two apart.

Overall, my reaction is to tell other people to go see it. I want to hear other people's thoughts on it (most of the people I saw it with didn't like it, most other people I've talked to did), and I think it's worth seeing, especially if you can make it to the Geneva Multiplex for ultra-cheap tickets.