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Hug Drostie
Get behugged


Ευδία της Ίθακης
The WeatherPixie

My Monster Seed
ink & color by me.
drawn by nedroid.
Sunday, September 28th, 2008
11:31 pm
I have to migrate my blog soon! (And by soon, I mean eventually. This coming week is going to be stressful as I try to jump on top of my classes and wrestle them back to the ground.)

Nobody reads my blog, so nobody need care! But pro tip: if you friend drostie now, you might accidentally catch wind of my future blog entries, when I finish migrating. Maybe.

Earlier, I wrote this. Internet was crap at the time, so it couldn't be posted until now:

The twilight hour approaches, and I look out of my window: at any given moment, one-to-five mosquitos swarm at the glass, seen only by virtue of being backlit by the fading sky. Luckily, the window is closed and my walls are white, so it's usually a simple matter to track them and retaliate when they're inside. Two victory carcasses are already mounted upon the walls -- only two, testament to the security of the bare-bones room.

But sadly, the window is not airtight, and the scent and light piques their curiosity. With canals and dikes et cetera everywhere, mosquitoes are ubiquitous in the Netherlands. They have also become persistent and vicious, and are apparently particularly attracted to my smell. And maybe it's the fact that I'm a foreigner, but I'm much more allergic to Dutch mosquitoes than to American ones. I am not alone on this matter. And two years ago, when I lived in Delft, I prayed desperately for some mosquito netting in my studenthuis, because they would *always* come in, and tracking them and crushing them became an art form. If only I had gone to Amsterdam more often, I might have seen "Klamboe Unlimited", a store which sells only mosquito netting ("klamboe") and nothing else.

In het Nederlands, the name for mosquitoes is muggen -- and the Dutch g is a fricative, so it sounds like you're hawking up a loogie. In English, the proper term is "bitches," as the ones that try to bite you are generally females in heat.

When I'd read the Amber diceless tabletop role-playing game rules, I was amazed at the power of conjuration: creating objects out of thin air. I still think that it's my favorite power from the series. For example, here's how an Amberite could bypass evolution and eliminate the mosquito menace once and for all: conjure a lightning elemental and tell it to zap every single mosquito on the planet. Hard. Sure, people will wonder about the massive reports of miniature ball lightning seen worldwide for a month or two, but the world will be a much better place forever after. Or the mosquitoes will evolve electrical grounding. Either way.

(10 socks dropped | drop some socks)

Sunday, September 21st, 2008
11:29 pm
Good god...

When statistical mechanics is Done RightTM, it looks like Absolute. Fucking. Magic.

I'm serious. When I become a professor, I am going to push, lobby, and bully the faculty into letting me teach the statistical mechanics course. I am going to start the course on the first day with a wizard hat1, and just start with a one hour lecture that will blow peoples' minds. It will go like this. (Yes, I have tried to do this whole lecture into a mirror, timing myself to make sure that it fits into a 1-hour time slot.)

- - -

Read more...Collapse )
1Not that wizard hat.

(drop some socks)

Thursday, September 18th, 2008
12:25 pm
Sitting on the temple steps are different types locked in their corners -- pairs talking, an occasional group passing through, as the pigeons strut in the noonday sun. Here, a woman enjoying a coffee; there, a man walks, looking for food; the young man to the side, basking in the sun, thinking about -- anything?

Our prophet sits on the temple steps, too, a ghost to us, as we are to him. "Nothing is worth anything," he says to himself -- you can read his mind if you look closely. We all felt it, and nobody could do anything, and we all knew that he didn't mean it anyways. What he meant was something more like, "I want to be loved again," but what his mind repeated was simply "Nothing is worth anything," over and over again.

The pews in the temple are full of quiet people who had nowhere else to go, and just wanted some sanity inside the confusion of the world. And inside the temple, you can go as high as you wish; enlightenment is free -- just walk the path and study carefully. But sitting atop the world, you lose touch with those at the very bottom, the lazy ones who will forget today's wisdom in the months that they spend here tomorrow. That's, I think, why people come up this far in the first place.

Another priest falls back to unenlightenment. Another child molester, or just someone who got bored or tired? We'll never know for sure. We sail in circles in the night, and are consumed by the fire; and that's just the game we were born into.

(drop some socks)

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
6:33 pm
I've made friends with another NL/US dual citizen -- a cute lesbian geek named Josine/Josina. We've got a rather shared history, surprisingly, so I feel obligated to help her along with her confusions. She went to Smith; I went to Cornell -- so of course, I'm understanding a bajillion things that she's missing.

She learned Quantum Mechanics without Linear Algebra, dudes. Quantum mechanics is linear algebra (in funny hats). But she'd seen vectors and dot products and determinants and the like before; she just hadn't had a formal course in them.

So I took it upon myself to teach her a nearly four-hour crash course in linear algebra, which took the second half of the day.

The first two hours were devoted to some review of
(1) What linearity is [ f(x + y) = f(x) + f(y), f(kx) = k f(x). ]
(2) Why every linear function can be characterized as a matrix.
(3) How to do matrix multiplication.
(4) Coordinate systems.
(5) A little bit of matrix inversion (especially the 2x2 case), but not the explicit case of solving linear systems.
(6) Questions, some problems.

Coffee break! I illustrated Scott Aaronson's "Proof by Pizza" and explained calculus in under a minute to a crowd of undergrad physics majors. I got a round of applause.

The second two hours covered:
(1) Eigenvectors. ("Making f(x + y) = f(x) + f(y) even simpler.")
(2) Eigenvalues.
(3) Eigenvalues in Quantum Mechanics.
(4) Matrices as seen from their diagonalizing coordinates.
(5) The determinant of a diagonal matrix, and the physical interpretation of it.
(6) Determinants in general, det(AB) = det(A) det(B), det(AT) = det(A).
(7) Why, if M v = 0 for a nontrivial v, then det M = 0. (just diagonalize M).
(8) How to actually find eigenvalues [ derivation of det(M − λI) = 0. ]
(9) Finding an eigenvector with a given eigenvalue.

It sounds like more, but I didn't have to talk at great length about how to do determinants with Josina -- she understood from the start. She just didn't know why they were important and what they physically meant, so I tried to show her.

All in all, I thought it was a pretty good crash course.

(2 socks dropped | drop some socks)

Sunday, September 7th, 2008
10:52 pm
I think I'm swearing off of prostitutes for good, now. It's only partially because I finally got ripped off by one; I found another afterwards that was both more fun and more casual. No, the real reason, I think, is that I've found out what I was using the RLDs to find out. I won't burden my livejournal with details in any public entries.

Well, maybe I'll go back to the RLDs in Den Haag again sometime. I like the lighter atmosphere there. In the Walletjes, it seems like if you ever ask, "do you do kissing -- can we kiss as we have sex?" the answer is always "no." I... find that hard to understand, but it's rather standard. (My brother suggested that maybe they thought it was too intimate. Seriously? You'll suck my dick, fuck me in three positions, and you're still thinking that kissing me is *too intimate*...?)

In any case.

After I hiked around 10-15 km total through Amsterdam on Friday night, we went to Mom & Dad's 40th anniversary party and met the family for a big reunion party. I managed to down my third full glass of beer ever. I have trouble with the stuff, but I hear that this is the only way to build up the taste that makes everyone else like it so much, and I've decided to work on that.

We had a lot of fun. There was a playground where our entire American posse, plus some of the other kids, just went to have fun. I was spun in a bizarre centrifuge by my brothers, shouting "Oh you bastards, oh you bastards!" over and over again as the world spun and the G-force kicked me back into my chair. I never really felt like throwing up because of it, though. Maybe I'd make a decent air force pilot, if I lost the weight. (I don't know the exact rpm I was going, but I was at least a meter from the center and I think it was going a little faster than 1 Hz, so that puts me at something like 4 g's. So that's nothing, but still, my brothers automatically wanted off -- I had no real problem with it other than shouting "oh you bastards" as the railing ground in against my back.)

Classes start back up tomorrow. Good God this is going to be a tough semester.

(drop some socks)

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008
10:08 pm
We took our first "Ethics in Engineering" lecture today. The lectures are optional; but there are compulsory discussion sections. And nobody that I've talked to likes our lecturer.

The professor stated several times that ethical systems were correct or incorrect mostly based on their consistency. During the lecture-break, I went up to him privately and argued that he was dead wrong. He more or less floundered.

If you don't see why he is dead wrong, take any ethical system you like, and add on the premise, "also, only people with mustaches can justify ethical beliefs according to those principles; everybody else should ask someone with a 'stache about what's ethical or not." It's not obvious that this new ethical system is any less consistent than the old one, but it certainly seems much more wrong.

At one point I also pointed out that in English, things can be contrary without being contradictory -- e.g. it is both true that (1) the sky is blue, and (2) the sky is black and speckled with stars. The first is known to any schoolboy; but the second is true at this particular moment in this particular place. (Actually, it was rainy for all of today, so I doubt that there are stars. Same difference, though.) His response to that was to (apparently) redefine "contradictory" to include that. I told him that then he was throwing away his precise sense of logical contradiction. And then he lost track of where we were and said "listen, I have to go do... stuff," and ran away.

Is he a scientist? I don't know. But I don't think he's a philosopher. They said that they're importing an American who will take over the course, so I'm hoping-against-hope that such a person doesn't say such crazy things.

The discussion section was a bit better, but my classmates got stuck on the epistemic questions -- how do we know that the chemical is poisonous / that we are polluting the environment / that our Proplast TMJ implant will malfunction? I asked in the middle if we could maybe turn to interesting ethical questions like what value is, and which values were conflicting in our hypothetical scenarios, and how you resolve a conflict if you have two opposing values of your own. People took the bait a little, but not really.

(5 socks dropped | drop some socks)

Monday, September 1st, 2008
9:45 am
My Stat Mech professor looks like a twin of John Oliver, from the Daily Show. And his class has (so far) been easier than any Cornell course I can remember from recent history.

There's something about covering Griffiths' entire Introduction to Quantum Mechanics in one semester that prepares you for everything.

(1 sock dropped | drop some socks)

Sunday, August 31st, 2008
11:43 am - Kill me now.
This country doesn't understand sleeping in. The required classes start at 8:30 in the morning, and I've got a 1-hour commute to the university.

Cornell also had an 8:30 class, titled "General Relativity." The instructor just couldn't understand why more people didn't want to do differential geometry so early in the morning.

(1 sock dropped | drop some socks)

Saturday, August 30th, 2008
12:14 pm
"This family really likes cheese and eats pretty much nothing else, and their child comes into school with a big lunch pail and says 'gee, cheese sandwiches are so absolutely wonderful; I love cheese.' Do you agree, strongly agree, disagree, or strongly disagree?"

People shuffle from corner to corner, and I find myself in the Strongly Agree side. And I'm in stitches and tears, laughing at a private joke which I cannot stop laughing at. The other students shuffle around the room for several minutes, which is what it takes for me to regain composure.

"Now, those of you on the Strongly Agree side: what are the reasons for your position?"

We look at each other. I boldly step forward first, channelling a kid from Darrow named Parker Kraus through my living essence.

"Cheese is an absolute good!" I bellow, and the entire room starts laughing hysterically. "It is known to go incredibly well..." -- and now I falter, trying to suppress my own laughter at my upcoming punch -- "... with other cheese!" Oh goodness me, I have the whole room in stitches, but that includes myself.

Eager for one last joke, the coordinator of the bizarre activity asks, "Well, do you have any other reasons?"

One of the other people in our group says, "And it's good for vegetarians!" which does not get much laughs. I continue with the momentum and say, "And it may not be good for vegans, but vegans are pretentious!" That got them all laughing again.

When the Strongly Disagree side had to present their case, the man just said, "well, I really just don't like cheese," against which I bellowed, "HEATHEN!" to the laughter and applause of the rest of the room.

This went through another phase -- about smoking bans in apartments and bars -- where I was on the Disagree side. I strongly contemplated starting off in the same voice, with "Smoking is an absolute good! It goes very well with other smoking!" but tried to contain myself.

In a third scenario, they put up some of either Rembrant's or Van Gogh's paintings and said that a woman behind us at the museum said something about the artist being detailed, expressive, sympathetic, emotional, etc., etc. -- and we were supposed to agree or disagree with her.

"Chris, is there anyone else with you on the 'Strongly Agree' side?"

I looked to my left, to someone standing nearby, and she edged away. "No, there is not," I said.

"Well, give us the case for strongly agreeing with this woman!"

In the same bellowing voice that spoke in absolutes, I said, "I want to meet a woman at this museum, and I think it's important to be polite!"

Again, the whole room was floored with laughter.

I spent the rest of the day playing Guitar Hero with a cute, short, nerdy girl who's already spoken for, named Josine, and a Dark-haired Scandinavian-looking Dutchman named Tom.

(drop some socks)

Sunday, August 24th, 2008
10:40 pm - Food in Wateringen, or, Why I'm Getting the Hell out of Dodge.
At eight and nine o'clock, all of the supermarkets in Wateringen are closed, and if you've missed dinner so far, you're stuck with two tired dining spots: a falafel space named "Oase" on the street-of-many-names, and a Chinese place located in the twisting ennui north of the city proper.

I went to the Oase a couple days ago. "Wat wil je?" he asked, looking at me as if I were a hobo. "Sate," I said. He looked at me blankly. "Sate?" I asked. More blank stares. "Satetjes!" I said. "Come on, you've got to know what sate is, it's right on your menu. And I know I'm pronouncing it right."

"Oh, Engels!" he said, or something like it. He motioned to me to point out what I wanted on a menu. And when I did, he pronounced it exactly the way I thought it was pronounced. "Yeah, that's what I've been saying!" I opined, clearly distressed. He talked with a fellow cook, then set about tossing my skewers of chicken on a dirty metal grill. He kept shooting me these dirty looks, as if he expected me to steal something. I looked around: there was nothing for me to steal, unless I wanted to steal a bar stool.

Needless to say, I wasn't going back there again tonight. So tonight I went to the Chinese place instead.

It was the most depressing restaurant I've ever been in -- and I've been in several depressing restaurants. It's like, having soaked in the ennui of the streets around it, it has just emerged as this deep speck of suck, crystallized into an eating establishment. I was literally, actually, almost in tears as I left the place.

The waitress who rung me up tried to look cheerful as she charged me 19.90 euro for a 5 euro meal. I think she even went to get me a 10-cent piece, which I feel is adding insult to injury, so I left before she returned. I don't know -- why the attempt to be cheerful at the end? I think deep down, she was aware that the experience as a whole was downright horrible for me, and here I was, paying four times what it was worth.

The lesson? If you find yourself in Wateringen and it's 8 or 9 pm, go to sleep hungry. Temporary starvation is much better than any options this backwards town has for you.

Edit: It occurs to me that future-me will probably not remember why the restaurant was so depressing, so I might as well detail it here. Imagine this, future-me:

Read more...Collapse )

(drop some socks)

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008
3:05 pm
"It's a god's wonder that you can start," he said on the triumphant telephone call. I ended my apartment search in Ithaca and started sending emails on July 31st. There were a bunch of people on vacation, but I finally found and emailed the right person on August 8th. On August 12th, I stepped on a plane to the Netherlands, which arrived early morning on August 13th there. A baby cried, keeping me from my rightful sleep.

The "right person" wasn't in the office until August 18th. I phoned him that morning, walked into his office the same day. He took me from admissions officer to admissions officer, to finally end at some New Jersey girl's office. The prognosis was positive, but indefinite. Key to the issue was the question: was there a formal restriction from the University barring my entrance, because I don't have a Bachelor's yet? Even if I met the course requirements?

He said he would use his kung-fu mastery to meditate on the question and return an answer. Instead, he returned more questions the following day, like "why didn't you leave an official copy of your transcript in my office?" -- stupid, stupid me -- and, "why do you only have one semester of Quantum, when Cornell's current program requires two?" -- because they changed it.

Biking through the rain and foreign streets, and the labyrinthine geometry of northern Delft, I quietly slipped my transcript into his mailbox. On the way back, the little red signs which told me how to return to Wateringen were misleading at best. You should see them. There's one place in particular where there's a little red sign saying "Wateringen: take a right here," where, straight across the intersection, on the road facing you, there's a big blue sign: "Welcome to Wateringen." Stupid lying little red signs. But I discovered that I can understand and ask for directions in Dutch. Prachtig!

Which brings us to today. Today I caught a train to Rotterdam Centraal to pick up an iPod -- in lieu of fixing my old one, they just gave me a new one. Score.

And then came The Phone Call. There is no restriction on having a Bachelor's if you have the right courses; whatever that man says, goes. And he says I'm in. So, I am.

Twenty Fifty days or so after the deadline for admissions for even the Dutch students, with only a tenuous grasp of Nederlands and no Bachelor's degree, I have been accepted to TU Delft for a Master's degree in Applied Physics, probably concentrating on Nanoscience.

Internet party! It's good to be me.

(1 sock dropped | drop some socks)

Saturday, August 16th, 2008
2:55 pm
I visited Rotterdam yesterday, and Rotterdam and Amsterdam today. Of course, I visited De Walletjes (the main red-light district) there, and spent time with a nice Indian-looking girl.

Paying for sex changes the dialogue, for me, and not necessarily in a bad way. I like submissive girls, but I'm not really the dominating sort, so prostitution is a sort of happy middle ground. You know? She will do whatever I need, and I don't have to whip her into submission if she decides to be naughty.

I might add more later, but it will probably be a private entry.

(drop some socks)

Thursday, August 14th, 2008
12:40 pm - Drostie op de Nederlands, or, Cheese Knife Kung Fu
I've returned to the Netherlands and am staying for a bit in Wateringen, which is a small area just outside of Den Haag (The Hague) on the south side -- close-ish to Delft.

I just cut myself with a kaasschaaf, a funky safety knife that they use to cut cheese very thinly. Seriously. Do a google image search for kaasschaaf, and see what I cut myself with. It's an absolutely ridiculous thing to cut yourself with, and yet it has sliced a large amount of skin and about half of a nail almost clean off -- the remainder is still bleeding like hell as I blog.

It bled tremendously. I immediately tossed it in running water, like you would with a burn: that was my "I'm not thinking, I'm doing" response. That made it bleed faster, of course, but it might have cleaned out some spare cheese. I don't know. I then had to staunch the bleeding with paper towel after paper towel. Suddenly, I felt nauseated and dizzy -- like I was about to throw up -- which is weird because I'm not afraid of blood; it doesn't make me sick to my stomach.

Suddenly, I thought the best idea was just to lay down. So I did, while the woman-of-the-house Agnes immediately started repeating "blood, blood, everywhere!" as she cleaned it up. I tried to say, "I'll clean it up, give me a minute," but she either didn't hear me or didn't care. I suddenly had this vivid loss of hearing, as if the entire world was being heard through cotton balls, as a ringing in my head intensified. I had no real sensation of panic, so I was kind of sitting there wondering what the hell my brain was doing. Is this the standard "you may have chopped off an important limb" survival mode or something? Or did the water in my cut circulate some bizarre salt up to my brain? Or did I lose so much blood that my system went into a temporary shock mode? (The last seems unlikely, but I really have no clue how much blood I lost down that drain at first.)

So, now it's wrapped up with paper towel underneath a band-aid -- and the bleeding has now soaked the towel and started soaking into the band-aid. Typing with my injured finger is probably the last thing worth doing, but I write this journal for myself, and I want to make sure that I have a permanent record of the fact that I cut myself with a kaasschaaf. Agnes says that it's happened to her before, but I'm not sure I believe her. I probably wouldn't believe myself, ten years from now.

(drop some socks)

Sunday, August 10th, 2008
2:32 pm - Another meaningless dream:
I was in a house with a bunch of other people, and it was an urban or suburban environment, daytime. A bunch of us were playing games in some small living room. I got up to go to the bathroom.

The bathroom was in an odd place without a door, so that anybody walking down the hallway would see your junk if you started pissing in it. This didn't seem to faze me, even though the occasional person walked down that hall. I guess I expected courtesy to work its magic. Immediately after I flushed, a towel fell into the toilet bowl and got half-soaked.

I wrung it out into the toilet and felt a little bad about hanging it up to dry. I don't remember exactly what I did with it. But as I walked back to the living room, I noticed that every basin possible seemed to be filled with water, with fish flitting about. In particular, one part of the hallway was sunk a couple inches and tiled, and there were a couple fish in there, too. I remembered, in the dream, that Grant from Mythbusters would have been extraordinarily creeped out by this, but I just walked on through it.

I couldn't remember whether the toilet bowl was fish-less or not, and it saddened me to know that maybe, the housemate who was collecting all of these fish was going to be mad at me for my stupidity.

As I walked down that hallway, to the right I saw a huge, expansive bathroom area, perfectly clean, with no fish inside. I could have just gone to the bathroom there, and sidestepped the whole issue.

And then I woke up.

(drop some socks)

Saturday, August 9th, 2008
3:31 pm
Last night I held a "Chris is going away!" party at Games Club. It was fun.

On Tuesday, I board a plane for the Netherlands. It's not for a special occasion: I'm going job-hunting and possibly trying to convince TU Delft to accept me for a Bachelor's or Master's degree. It is an absolutely ridiculous proposition that was advanced by my father. On an intellectual level, I can appreciate the deep stupidity of the idea as a whole. But on an impulsive level, hey, it'll be a little fun, maybe.

"So we took our chances and joined in the madness," and whatnot.

Dad still doesn't accept my predilections for cooking -- or any sort of professional artistic hobby, to be perfectly honest. That really isn't the part that disturbs me -- it's normal for parents to not understand their children, after all. The part that disturbs me is that he thinks that he *does* understand me completely. He will give me whole lectures about how he really knows that I secretly want to "advance my career path," and that I am locked in a cycle of "procrastination," that cooking does not satisfy me, et cetera, et cetera. I don't understand why the people who get these things so wrong are so convinced of their own rightness.

It looks like my AC adapter for my laptop might not ship until Monday. If that's true, then I probably won't get it on Tuesday morning, and I'll just be stuck without a computer in the Netherlands. My backup strategy might have to be lugging my desktop computer on the plane as a checked bag.

I'll be there until at least Christmas.

(drop some socks)

Thursday, July 31st, 2008
10:01 pm
A riveting whirlwind, 40 minutes long, about why innocent, truthful people should plead the fifth and never talk to the police:

Lecture 1 - "Don't Talk to the Police," by James Duane, Professor at the Regent University School of Law
Lecture 2 - "Don't Talk to the Police," by George Bruch, officer of the Virginia Beach Police Department.

(I was linked to these by Bruce Scheier's wonderful blog, Scheier on Security.)

(5 socks dropped | drop some socks)

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
10:46 am
I haven't written about music for a while. So: first off, the guy who picks the music for Doctor Who: Confidential has eerily similar tastes to mine, except that the music on Doctor Who: Confidential is a little more poppy than I usually like.

Second, I've been on roughly a year-long Troubled Hubble kick. Troubled Hubble was an incredible band that sadly, broke up before I even discovered them. Required listening off of their (still active, surprisingly) web site: 1, 2, 3. There are also some YouTube videos with crappy audio quality, highlighting their songs on Making Beds in a Burning House, another absolutely amazing CD that I picked up by chance.

There's another indie band called MGMT which left its indie moorings to become a label-signed professional act. I wouldn't have seen them if they hadn't; my first experience was catching them playing Time to Pretend while flipping by David Letterman's show. I've blogged about them a little a while back, I believe: their album Oracular Spectacular takes all of the things I liked about Daft Punk and twists them in newer, weirder directions. I like them.

I was on a Blue Man Group kick as well, even though their lyrics are often somewhat generic and their latest DVD -- How to be a Megastar Live! -- is basically the exact same track listing as their last DVD -- The Complex Rock Tour.

The Hives can be somewhat touch-and-go, with a sound that reminds me somewhat of The Presidents of the United States of America, if they decided to add punk influences and get real instruments. But The Presidents were pretty sweet on their own, and I'm not sure if I like the way The Hives take it.

Jake Shimabukuro does absolutely ridiculous things with a ukelele. His songs contain pure joy.

I haven't gone through the SXSW Showcasing Artists pack yet this year. I downloaded it, but I just haven't been motivated. :-\

(drop some socks)

Friday, July 25th, 2008
10:16 am
My video "How to Make Yourself Feel Icky" has finally overtaken the sum of *all* of my other YouTube videos in views. Now almost 5,000 people on the internet now know me as, "that dude who molested a fleshlight with a maglite."

The lesson for you? Never engage in $60 open-ended bets. Or if you do, don't lose them.

(drop some socks)

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
9:06 pm
This video is... well... absolutely incredible. I've shown it to four other people now, and so far, it has brought smiles to everyone's face.

It contains pure joy. Watch it if you like being happy.

(2 socks dropped | drop some socks)

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
9:08 pm
Cooked tonight for Mom and Dad, as well as Jan and Agnes -- two Dutch visitors. (Mom was running everywhere, picking up our guests from the bus station and Dad from the airport, so I kind of took this upon myself.) Five person dinners take a bit more mental effort, and I wanted to be lazy, so I avoided my normal fried-rice dishes.

It was a relatively simple meal: a salad with lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes; salt potatoes, fresh corn-on-the-cob, barbecued chicken, a small fillet of salmon for Dad, who doesn't eat chicken, and garlic bread; pudding for dessert.

The only thing that required much preparation was the garlic bread. But that's relatively simple: 50/50 butter / olive-oil, add a couple cloves of garlic chopped extremely fine, add chopped chives and Italian seasoning. Italian seasoning, in turn, is just a magical blend of basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and probably sage and thyme. It's like parsley: it's one of those finely-chopped things you can throw into a dish to add a background Goodness to it -- rosemary in particular is an absolutely wonderful aromatic. Bake in aluminium foil, 350-400-ish for ten minutes or so.

(drop some socks)

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