August 2, 2005

Bulk view

Casualty: portable umbrella

The trouble with me is that I can keep track of only two things at the
same time. I’ve told myself again and again to look back before I
leave a place, and generally I’ve gotten very good at that. These
blanks, these unthinking moments are the chinks that I have to fill
in. Today’s casualty: a portable umbrella.

Losing an umbrella is certainly a more attractive prospect than the
thing that caused me to put all of the stuff on the ground in the
first place. See, I thought I had lost my cellphone. From that
perspective, an umbrella doesn’t seem so bad, does it? It’s a waste to
have to spend for another umbrella, but I can file that under life
lessons. And just look at all the _other_ days when I didn’t lose
anything! (Yes, most people have far more impressive records, but
every little bit counts for self-esteem.)

Do I need to replace the umbrella? Well, I’ve got a raincloak in the
closet, but it’s too bulky to take with me all the time. Another
microumbrella would be good, but the more pressing need is to fix my
lugging-around system so that I’m carrying only one item.

I saw a close-to-ideal tote in Staples Depot the other day. It was a
Roots microfiber tote wth two main compartments, one of which had a
separate laptop sleeve. The tote bag could hold legal-size documents,
making it larger than I needed but still acceptable.

The deal-killer, though, was the fact that the store didn’t have a
full-length mirror that would let me check proportions. Being a rather
small girl, I’m mindful of style guides that tell me not to overwhelm
my frame with huge bags. (Advice I have cheerfully ignored over the
years, but there’s no time like the present to start paying attention
to these things.)

I did, however, spend a fair bit of time looking at fancy three-ring
binders with both handles and zippers. Zippered binders give me peace
of mind when I carry loose items: combination pens that don’t fit into
standard pen holders, coin purses, etc. Put proper handles and a carry
strap on a zippered binder and ooooh…

But there’s still all the paraphernalia I carry with me: laptop, keys,
lunch box… A binder large enough to contain all of those comfortably
would be too large to balance on one hand while writing and too
unwieldy to lay out on a desk while I take notes. So I reluctantly
turned away from bright displays and advertisements for binder models
I hadn’t even imagined (Z-shaped! double-binders! expanding file
binders!) and headed out of Staples, wondering what would fit into my
personal filing system.

I think I need some kind of tote. A briefcase is too business-y; a
backpack, too casual. Messenger bags offer possibilities, too. I just
need to find something that’s large enough to fit my things but still
small enough to fit my frame.

And _then_ I can get an umbrella to match it.

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Chicken adobo and rice

The clinking and clanking of plates and bric-a-brac could be heard
clear across the room as I rummaged through the cupboards.

“Are you looking for anything?” asked Ye, my roommate of a few weeks.

“Would we happen to have any measuring cups?”

“You can use the mugs in the drawer. What are you cooking this time?”

“Rice. Let’s see… Gah, this rice cooker is too big. And it doesn’t
come with instructions.”

“Use a pot.”

“Okay… Hmm. “Step 1: Add rice. Step 2: Add water. How much rice?”

“It doesn’t really matter, as long as the water level is 1 centimeter
above the rice.”

What did one centimeter look like again? I knew other Filipinos have
this magic trick involving the joints of one’s fingers, but I never
quite figured it out and I didn’t know if the rule was valid given my
small hands. Resisting the temptation to fetch the ruler from my cute
pink stationery set, I decided to eyeball the measurements. There,
just about right. Oh, wait… “Should I wash the rice first?”

“I usually do.”

Swished, swished. Poured. Swished. Poured. Swished. Poured. Gave up
and refilled pot to former level. “Mmkay. Then…?”

“Boil it, and then turn the heat way down until it absorbs all the

So I did.

I thought it would be a good idea to try out chicken adobo while
waiting, and I had recently splurged on a pack of chicken breast
fillets. I rummaged some more for vinegar (this strange Chinese thing
that smelled nothing like the vinegar I remembered seeing back home)
and soy sauce. I had the foresight to grab bay leaves and garlic on my
last grocery trip, so it was easy to throw everything together.

– 2 pieces chicken
– 4 cloves garlic, crushed
– 2 tablespoons vinegar
– 2 teaspoons soy sauce
– 1 bay leaf
– 1/4 teaspoon pepper
– 1/2 cup water

I boiled that, too, and then simmered it until I felt confident about
the chicken being more-or-less cooked (erring on the side of more, I
hope) and the sauce was reduced to a fraction. By simmered, I mean
that I alternated between accidentally reboiling it and getting some
satisfyingly mild bubbling action.

I didn’t get to try the adobo, so I don’t know if it’s really adobo or
some weird thing. I did get to try the rice, though, so I feel pretty
good about that. Of course, as I started cooking at around 9, I got
_pretty_ hungry by the time the rice was done. The chicken didn’t
inspire confidence at that point, so I did what any sane, starving
student would do: I raided the refrigerator for something to eat with
the rice. Pastrami may be a strange companion to rice, but I thought
it tasted like a rather expensive version of vienna sausages.

We’ll see how the adobo turns out tomorrow evening. If I survive, I’ll
have joined the ranks of adobo-cooking Filipinos around the world!

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Toastmasters is fun

I attended another Toast I.T. meeting
today. The table topic set by Natasha was a bit of a stretch for me.
If I was in the elevator with the CEO of my company, what would I say?
Other people naturally brought up small talk examples from real-life
situations. You know me and small talk. I’m not going to disrupt the
silence by asking about the weather! Grasping at straws, I ended up
doing half of a conversation where I played an eager employee asking
for more responsibilities.

I have no idea why people thought that was the best table topics
speech. But hey, I love speaking, and I’ll do it at the drop of a
hat… <laugh>

My icebreaker speech is coming up next week. I’m going to have so much
fun preparing for it! =)

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Side Jobs

Keep track of your freelancing projects with
Side Jobs, a free
online service that helps you manage tasks and clients. Nice, clean
interface and well-thought features. Well worth paying for if it weren’t free!

コンピュータはよく人の頭脳にたとえられる。 The computer is often compared to the human brain.

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In Case of Emergency

A popular e-mail forward urges people to make it easier for people to
get in touch with your emergency contact just in case something bad
happens to you. Emergency contacts would be marked with “ICE” (In Case
of Emergency) in your phonebook.

ICE is a bit too obscure an acronym for me, though. You need to have
read the forwarded e-mail about ICE before you’ll even think of
looking for it. I’d rather put people under “Emergency”, or add
numbers to the start of their names so that they’re first on the list.

I need to get one of those organ-donor cards anyway…

E-Mail from Inc. Adphoto

今日はほとんどの子供が持っているビデオゲーム機でさえコンピュータである。 Even video-game machines owned by most children today are computers.

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Lifehacking your groceries

One of the coolest things about having
delicious:lifehacks in my inbox
is turning up all the craziest lifehacking tips. Today’s treasure is
about lifehacking your groceries by using index cards to keep track of ingredients, simplifying a week of shopping and cooking. _And_ it comes with index card templates!

ここ数年、コンピューターは仕事に限らず広く利用されるようになりました。 Recently, the increasing diversity of computer use has extended far beyond the realms of the office.

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