Saturday, April 28, 2007

On water bottles

Treehugger has an interesting article up: 70% of Americans Don't Know Plastic Is Made With Oil:

According to a recent nationwide online survey, 72 percent of the American public does not know that conventional plastic is made from petroleum products, primarily oil. Moreover, 40 percent of the respondents believe that plastic will biodegrade at some point. The survey was conducted by InsightExpress on behalf of Metabolix, a company that manufactures a biodegradable plastic made with corn. In their press release, Metabolix says "...Very few people realize that plastics are made from oil, further contributing to the problems of energy dependence, greenhouse gas emissions and depleting resources. In fact, nearly 10 percent of U.S. oil consumption - approximately 2 million barrels a day - is used to make plastic.

The first (and only) comment on the reddit page for this article states that the fact that the survey was done on behalf of Metabolix makes the results questionable, but I don't believe that. Truthfully, I'm not surprised - I don't think the majority of the people in this country care where plastic comes from, and even before reading this, I was pretty sure they didn't know where it came from.

We had a discussion about plastic bottles and bottled vs tap water in my Folklore and Literature class. Yes, it had to do with what we studying at the time - The Handmaid's Tale; it tied into the whole pollution-leading-to-dramatically-reduced-birthrate-and-male-impotence-theme of that book - and besides, our prof is a vegan feminist hippie. (Love!) Anyway, she asked us how many of us drink tap water rather than bottled, and everyone raised their hand. The issue for us (as poor college students) is cost: who wants to PAY for something that comes out of the facet for free? One girl said that she drank bottled when she was on campus, but that she reused the bottles. Our prof said that even reusing plastic bottles was unsafe, because of the harmful chemicals leached into the water. She suggested using Nalgene bottles, but I found an article that disagrees. And here's another article, from the same source, in which she clarifies her opposition to Nalgene bottles.

After our discussion in class, the girl that reused water bottles went out and bought a Nalgene bottle. I think all of us did, actually - I found a Rubbermaid bottle on clearance at work, and picked it up. After reading that second article (which claims that "2, #4, and #5 plastics are the best to use), I tried to figure out which one it was. There's no number on the bottom, so I guess I'll just have to take my chances. We do sell the bottled-in-bottles-made-from-corn water at the store, but I'm still unwilling to pay for something I can get for free at home.

Moby Dick goes on a diet

I set up digg, reddit, and accounts today, and I'm already glad I did because they introduced me to gems like this article, which discusses a publishing house chopping roughly 40% off classics in an effort to make them easier to read:

Research confirmed that “many regular readers think of the classics as long, slow and, to be frank, boring. You’re not supposed to say this but I think that one of the reasons Jane Austen always does so well in reader polls is that her books aren’t that long”.

First of all, Jane Austen does so well in reader polls because she's a great writer. Her books are witty and engaging, and filled with characters and situations that we can still relate to after 200 years.

Second of all, that is just sad. Go read the Cliffs Notes if you don't want to read the whole book, but don't read a watered-down version and think it's the same thing. Any English major could tell you that the 40% "filler" they're trimming is probably pretty important, even if it doesn't seem like it.

All things considered, though, it might be interesting to see what they do with someone like Faulkner. I couldn't finish Absalom, Absalom, but I don't think that makes me any less of a person. It certainly doesn't give me a desire to try reading it again, even with a condensed version.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Planet Unicorn, heyyy

This video is one of the greatest things I've ever seen:

The theme song is actually my favorite part - I've been singing it off and on for the past few days, driving everyone around me crazy.

The Goldilocks Planet

Scientists have discovered a new planet that could possibly support life, It's outside of our solar system, might actually be a giant ball of ice, and has a red dwarf sun, but hey! It's still a pretty discovery. As long as we don't try to colonize it or (God forbid) send missionaries. Oops. That was inappropriate.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Recipe Tuesday: Chipotle Shrimp and Fruit Sorbet

Chipotle Shrimp With Pasta:

8 ounces bowtie pasta
2 1/2 cups water
1 pound peeled/deveined shrimp (thawed, if frozen)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
large zip-top bag
1/4 cup chipotle marinade
4 ounces fresh gourmet mushroom blend
1/2 cup pre-diced fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup pre-sliced green onions
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1. Preheat 2-sided tabletop grill. Place pasta and water in large saucepan. Cover and bring to boil on medium-high. Remove lid and cook 6–8 minutes, stirring often, or until most of water is absorbed.
2. Place shrimp and cornstarch in large zip-top bag. Seal bag and shake to coat shrimp. Add marinade to bag, seal tightly, and knead to coat; set aside.
3. Stir remaining ingredients gently into pasta. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thoroughly heated.
4. Place shrimp on grill and close lid (wash hands). Grill 3–4 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Serve over pasta.

Easy, right? Not so fast! Wait until you check out the dessert...

Fruit Sorbet:

1 (20-ounce) package frozen mixed fruit (contains peaches, melon, strawberries and grapes)
1 cup lemon lime soda
1/4 cup sugar

1. Process fruit in food processor, pulsing 15–20 times, or until fruit is chunky.
2. Add remaining ingredients and process 1–2 minutes or until smooth. Chill in freezer until ready to serve.

Believe it or not, this thing was a pain in the ass the first time I tried to make it. The store has two food processors, neither of which were designed to hold more than maybe two cups. So I had both of them going, trying to chop up the fruit. When one would finish, I had to dump the chopped-up fruit into a separate bowl, then go through the whole process again. It took about 20 minutes to chop up the fruit this way, and it made a huge mess - chunks of strawberries and melons everywhere. And THEN, when I finally got everything all mixed up together (which was actually a lot easier to do after the fruit was initially broken down), I had to put it in the freezer to...well....freeze. And the freezer I have at my disposal at work is pitiful. Did I mention I had already started the pasta before attempting the sorbet, and that by the time I finished up with this mess, it was stuck to the pot and completely useless? Yeah, I had to throw it out and start over. By the time I finished the shrimp, the fruit was nowhere near sorbet, more just a goopy mess. The lesson: make sure you use a big enough food processor, and that although a watched pot never boils, you should keep an eye on it anyway, or you'll ruin your pasta.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This one time, in Philly...

To celebrate new comic book day (and to show off that one time that I met Chris Giarrusso and he did a Nightcrawler sketch for me), here are some pictures from WWPhilly 2005:

Good times.

Comics I picked up today: Ultimate Spider-Man #108, Ultimate X-Men #81, Gen 13 #7, and (two Mike Turner covers) JLA #8 and Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America. I haven't had a chance to read them yet, but I will have some more free time next month because I've almost finished this semester - hurrah!

And the good news keeps coming: I got excepted into the MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) program that I applied for, and Mom and Ralph have decided to get (real) internet. High speed arrives in one week, and I cannot wait!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Landlord

This is arguably Will Farrell's best work:

The Landlord

Monday, April 09, 2007

Nintendo, call me.

A slightly reconstructed conversation between myself and my Code Monkey, in which I try to help him redeem himself for forgetting about Valentine's Day:

One month to go:
Me: Don't forget, Easter is a chocolate-and-possibly-flowers-holiday.
CM: I know.

Two weeks to go:
Me: Now remember, Easter is a chocolate-flowers-and-possibly-stuffed-animal-holiday.
CM: That's...not what you said before, but ok.

Three days to go:
Me: You know, sweetie, that Easter is a chocolate-flowers-stuffed-animal-and-possibly-video-game-system-holiday, right?
CM: What the...?! Says who?
Me: Haven't you heard of the "Wii-ster" Bunny?
CM: That's cute, but you're not getting a Wii for Easter.
Me: How about a DS? The "D-ster Bunny"?
CM: No.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Comic Wednesday

I thought today was going to be a light day for comic purchases - I didn't pick up the new JLA because Michael Turner didn't do the cover, and my BFF was going to get her own copy of Buffy #2, which meant that I only had two books on my pull list: Runaways #25 (written by Joss!) and Danger Girl: Body Shots #1. Fortunately (or "Un-", if you're my bank account), my LCS guy got in a whole slew of back issues for me. So now my Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane set is almost complete and I finally got that copy of Fathom: Kiani #1. "Finally" is probably not the best choice of words, since it's only been a week, but it feels like much longer.

Anyway, yay! comics. If I didn't have a 20-page research paper due in a week, I'd be knee-deep in reading right now.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Neil Gaiman One Step Closer to Sainthood?

This is actually one of the funnier April Fool's jokes I've seen this year. It's also awesome, because I kinda wish it were true. Not the "Neil Gaiman being dead" part, but the "Gaiman is patron saint of hand cramps" part. I'd like to have someone specific to pray to when I feel an onset of carpal tunnel in the middle of class.