Sunday, April 29, 2007

murble murble murble

Well, I really should be working, but as usual my terrible habit of procrastination has swallowed me. I figured I might as well leave a little post while I'm avoiding all my work.

My parental units left on a much-needed vacation today to the Bahamas. Okay, let me be accurate - my mommy has a conference and my father is going along. The point is, NO KIDS! This is the first time my parents have been on vacation since their honeymoon, which was almost twenty-one years ago. I kind of wish I could go, but at least my parents will have some privacy this way and won't have to worry about us kiddies bickering with each other. Ha ha.

Instead us kiddies are bickering at home. No, seriously, we're being very good and Pickle even did the dishes and cooked some french fries for dinner. She and Gameboy went on a bike ride together earlier, so they had some bonding time. I have not stepped foot out of the house today at all (actually, I went outside in the morning, sorry, forgot about that) and could use some air. However, that would require getting dressed, but in my infinite laziness I don't want to change out of my pajamas. Hence, I am inside like a hermit, avoiding my schoolwork.

I did get a chance to do my all-time favorite activity today: I watched home videos!!

I am absolutely, totally, completely, one-hundred-percent OBSESSED with watching home videos. For one thing, I was such a cute little kid. I talked very early on and in three languages: English, Turkish and Chinese. Wowee! you say. How is that possible? Simple. My dad's Turkish, my mother's American, and my baby-sitter was Chinese. Each person spoke to me in his/her native language and so I was trilingual before I was two. I also was very brilliant and was able to set the table before I was two and knew all the answers to questions like "Where is Mommy's office?" and "Where does Grandma live?"

Sigh.

I miss my baby self.

This post is very ramblingy so I hope it made some sort of sense . . .

Friday, April 27, 2007

Butternut squash, Congress and finals

In reverse order:

I haven't posted in a while, as you loyal readers will know. Basically, I've been alternating between doing schoolwork and stressing out about how I have so much schoolwork and so little time. My finals start in one week and I also have three papers due, so I probably won't be too attentive to my little bloggie-woggie in the next week or so.

I did receive some interesting news this week, which is that I will be working in the office of a Representative in the House this summer. I don't want to reveal his name just yet, but suffice it to say that he's from the New York/New Jersey area and is incredibly pro-Israel. He serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (excellent) and the House Committee on Ways and Means (VERY powerful, even though he's not particularly high-ranking). I had never heard of him before this week but apparently the intern who worked there last summer had a great experience and actually got to do things, like write press releases and attend committee hearings and whatnot. Most of the work I'll be doing will be constituent-based but hopefully I'll get to do some things that have to do with policy decisions as well. I'll have to wait and see.

Anyway, must go check on my butternut squash kugel baking in the oven. I got a wonderful recipe simply by typing "butternut squash kugel" into the Google search engine. Here's the recipe (my own adjustments are in [brackets]):

16 oz bag frozen butternut squash cubes
1 stick margarine
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar [you can short the sugar a little, since butternut squash is sugary on its own]
1/2 cup coffee rich [I used soy milk instead]
3 eggs
cinnamon

Place squash in pot of water and cook until soft (when water boils - test with fork against side of pot). [Alternatively, cook according to the directions on the package.]
Drain squash.
Mash in margarine stick.
Mix other ingredients together in mixing bowl.
Add squash to mixture.
Mix all together place in a 9x13 tin (or two 9x9 tins).
Sprinkle top with cinnamon.
Bake at 350 for ~1 hour (until top turns slightly brown) [I found that it needs at least an hour and ten minutes, if not more time.]
Serve cold or hot. [It tastes best after it has had time to set. I served it at room temperature and it was delicious!]
Enjoy!

(The recipe is from Elana Rabinowitz, Queens, New York)

Shabbat shalom!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

spam poem

I have decided that every week, I will publish a spam poem based on a week's worth of spam (thank you to Chana for this idea - see the comments on post "Grr"). These words represent the names of the senders of spam e-mail and the subject lines. All spellings are the sender's own, but I have rearranged these words to say something so profound that if you find the meaning please let me know.

All interpretations are welcome.

Hence, spam poem #1:

Dempsey slice that are truly
resourceful hurtful microcosm
to reach ourselves.
remotely front man Elsie Richard Huffman
neutralize disallowing anti-gay tee shirts
It seems in our lives, we take a long ride
to some students is not a . . . Caldwell Louis
push button pay dirt

- seven days' worth of spam

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Why I am a dork and love it anyway

I am such a dork.

Last year, the day I left Israel after seminary, I bought myself a pair of sandalim. You know, those rubber-soled sandals with fabric velcro straps to hold your feet in? The thing is, I don't wear my feet bare, so I wear my sandals with socks.

That's right. The ultimate in dork-dom: sandals with socks.

The weather has become so beautiful outside, which is such a nice change after nor'easter weather that I dug out my sandalim and am now proudly wearing them around the house with socks on.

Ah, dorkiness.

I love myself.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I love New Jersey Transit

This post is a shout-out to Anthony and Wayne of the 1:28 train from New York Penn Station to Trenton, even if they probably will never see this blog.

As I'm cooking for Shabbat this past Friday, I get a phone call.
Me: "Hello?"
Voice on phone: "Hi! How are ya?" (Okay, I don't recognize the voice. Probably some telemarketer.)
Me: "I'm good! How are you?"
Voice on phone: "Good. Ah . . . I'm calling from the train. Someone left this cell phone here. I'm the conductor."
OH MY GOSH! MY SISTER LEFT HER CELL PHONE ON THE TRAIN!
Me: "Oh my! Well, that would be my sister's phone! Okay, let me think. Um . . . where is the train now?"
Voice on phone, whom I now know is the conductor: "We're going to ______." (The next stop after ours.)
Me: "Well, is there a lost and found or something that you can send the phone to?"
Conductor: "Yes, that's in New York. This train is going straight back to New York, and isn't stopping at [my stop] on the way back."
AAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHH!!!

So I spend the next fifteen minutes on the phone with the conductor, trying to work out a way for us to get Pickle's phone back before Shabbat. I ask him if he can mail it to us but he says he won't get to a mailbox before Monday. Okay, scratch that. He suggests that we meet him on the same train on Wednesday - not good because:
1. She needs the phone before Wednesday
2. Nobody that I know will be on that train on Wednesday

Finally we decide that the conductor (his name is Anthony) will give the phone to another conductor (Wayne). After the train gets to Trenton, Wayne would be riding a train back to New York and would be stopping at our usual stop, and we could meet him on the platform and pick up the cell phone. Anthony tells me that Wayne is tall and bald, and will be in the second car of the train. I speak to Wayne for a few minutes (he has one of those molasses-moving, deep voices) and confirm that someone will meet him on the train platform as the train pulls into our stop.

Thank goodness.

So my sister arrives home about ten minutes later and I inform her that she forgot her cell phone on the train (she hadn't realized this). So she goes off to pick up her cell phone, but because she doesn't have one with her, I have no way to get in touch with her and am worrying and worrying whether or not she managed to make it to the train on time.

Finally, Pickle calls the house. "I got my baby!!"

Apparently Wayne was just where he said he would be, and he was very tall and very bald. My sister was so thankful that she gushed to him, "Wow, you guys are amazing!" and he looked sort of bemused.

Baruch Hashem, and thank G-d for conscientious and well-meaning train conductors. Anthony was thoughtful enough to pick up the cell phone, call the "home" contact and take pains to try and return the phone to its rightful owner. He could have simply dropped it in a lost and found and we never would have seen it again, or he could have left it on the seat and someone else would have stolen it. And thanks also to Wayne, who took responsibility for giving the phone back to my sister. They were both so nice and polite on the phone to me as well. I think I will write a letter to New Jersey Transit and tell them what happened, because these two men deserve recognition and thanks in writing.

Yay for Anthony and Wayne, and yay for New Jersey Transit for hiring these two responsible and dependable conductors. Now do you see why I love New Jersey Transit?

Friday, April 20, 2007

The perils of having a cold

Right now I have a horrible cold and head congestion. My head feels like it's full of heavy wool and my ears are all blocked up too. I couldn't even smell my Pirate's Booty with Aged White Cheddar and that has a REALLY strong smell (other people in the vicinity looked uncomfortable as I happily munched on my stinky puffs). Luckily Pickle went shopping for Shabbat and bought me some Tylenol for cold and head congestion. So far it's not really working but maybe I'll wake up in the morning and will be able to breathe through my nose.

That brings me to another topic - smoking in the street. In New York, people smoke right and left. You would think that people don't know that smoking: a) causes wrinkles and makes you look old before you actually are; b) makes a woman's voice all deep and gravelly so that she sounds like a man; c) makes your breath smell; d) CAUSES LUNG CANCER, HELLO!!

Not to mention that secondhand smoke is also a major carcinogen.

So as someone who plans on never smoking a single cigarette ever, why, why, WHY do I also have to inhale cigarette smoke when I try to get from point A to point B in the New York City streets? If I see that someone is smoking, I'll try to move away from them so I don't breathe in any poisonous fumes. But occasionally the wind will blow some smoke up my nose before I can do anything about it and I practically choke on the stink. I fervently hope somehow my nasal passages stop the smoke from reaching my lungs. And currently, I am breathing through my mouth because my nose is all stopped up, so not only do I smell the smoke but I taste it too. In case you're wondering cigarette smoke tastes absolutely disgusting and smokers might as well lick an ashtray to get the same sensation.

I applaud the measure to ban smoking in restaurants and bars. Now, all we need is for Mayor Bloomberg to regulate smoking habits outside, too.

Sigh.

Anyway, I'll stop whining because it's 1:12 a.m. and I really need to get some sleep and give the medicine a chance to work. So good night y'all and have a good Shabbat.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Grr

Well, today someone told me how to make my posts colorful. The problem is that this feature is not compatible with the Safari browser, and as a Mac owner, all my posts will be boring black. Fear not, however, because I do have access to a P.C. and so will occasionally be making adjustments so that my posts will be pretty. As you can see, I already adjusted my "More About Me" post. But if you are reading this and happen to be a Blogger technician or whatever you're called, can you fix this so that us Mac devotees can have colorful blogs too? Pleeeaaase?

On a completely different note, can I just say how much I hate Spam? It drives me NUTS! I have had an email address for years (about 8 or so) and up until a month ago, I got Spam maybe once a year. I was so happy to be Spamless. So, so happy. And then I signed up for something (I don't know what but I suspect it was Snapfish) and all of a sudden my Bulk folder is absolutely DROWNING in Spam. When I mean DROWNING, I mean LIKE FIFTEEN SPAM MESSAGES A DAY. That's RIDICULOUS. Also, does this mean that Snapfish gave my email address to third parties? I have to read that privacy policy again . . . shoot . . . and maybe send off an angry e-mail to Snapfish accusing them of bringing upon this deluge of Spam.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The duality of life

Today, I received really happy news (the birth of a long-awaited baby) and saw really terrible news (the shootings at Virginia Tech, where incidentally my father went to grad school) within the same minute. Sometimes I think that Hashem juxtaposes such events to make us remember that when we are at the peak of ecstasy or whatnot, there are still people who are suffering, and we shouldn't become complacent and forget others.

At the same time, though, wouldn't it be nice to have a moment of absolutely unadulterated happiness?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

More about me

I guess I should explain a bit more about who I am so reading this blog won't be a complete shot in the dark. Well, I call myself the apple, since like the old saying, I fell down not far from the tree. In fact, as Big Apple (my mommy) likes to say, I plummeted. I'm very similar to my mother in temperament and mannerisms. People are always confusing us on the telephone. So to commemorate this aspect of our relationship I decided to name my blog "Not Far From the Tree."

I have two younger siblings - a sister (hereafter known as Pickle) and brother (I'll call him Gameboy). They are my nearest and dearest and annoyingest. We all get along when we want to.

My father and I also are very close. Currently he is trying to teach my how to drive so that makes our relationship rocky at times.

Things I think are a waste of time:
Facebook
Making my bed in the morning (I'm just going to sleep in it at night anyway)

Things I spend time doing:
Looking at galleries of people that I don't know on OnlySimchas (occasionally, I have what I call an "OnlySimchas sighting" - I'll see a couple that I recognize from OnlySimchas. They don't know me and I don't know them personally, but I know their names, places of origin and what color everyone wore to their wedding)
Procrastinating
Schoolwork when I feel like it
Wishing that I had lots of expendable cash so I could go to Brooklyn and go nuts shopping for expensive clothing
Cooking for Shabbat

Things I would like to do:
Not procrastinate
Go on a trip to a warm, sunny place with beaches and actually swim in the water
Exercise on a regular basis
Meet Barack Obama
Take my computer to get fixed so when I close it the edges are flush
Not say things that I'll regret later
Pass my road test and get my license (Pickle actually got hers before me)

This summer I will be interning in Washington, D.C. in a congressional office. Whose office I don't know yet, but it should make interesting material for this blog. Right now I'm a sophomore in college and really liking it. Sometimes I can't believe that I'm this old. I remember being much younger (and smaller) and looking at older people (like twenty-year-olds) and thinking that they are SO BIG. Well, now that's me. Kind of scary.

Okay, it's getting late so I'll sign off now. Bye!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Beginning

Ooh I'm so excited to start my blog! Really this is a completely selfish expression of what's running through my mind at any given time, but maybe this way I won't be tempted to open my mouth quite SO often.

Pesach is over and I'm back in school. There isn't much left - only about a month or so, but a month in which at least three papers are due plus finals. And that's only the stuff I can remember off the top of my head. It's so nice to have a blog to distract me. Hee.

Over Pesach I read many many many P.D. James books. For all of you out there who don't know who P.D. James is, I suggest you hike on over to your local library and pick up a couple of her books. P.D. is a British mystery novel author of the highest order, and she is really an excellent writer. Her protagonist, Adam Dalgliesh, is dark and handsome and silent and brilliant. Sigh. Her books get better as they go, which is unusual, except for J.K. Rowling who is also one of my favorites (maybe you have to have the initial J or be British. Hmm.). Anyhoosit, I read SO MANY books in so little time that now I've forgotten who the perpetrator is and who was killed. I'm notorious for reading quickly. I always begin a book with the intention to savor it and let it last, but then I get so impatient that I just HAVE to know what happens in the end.

That's all for now, folks.