Sunday, January 30, 2011

Some Food for Thought

While the main purpose of this blog is to have an outlet for writing, I do periodically observe trends and data. I am dual majoring in mathematics and economics after all. With that in mind, I find it highly amusing that in the eight months that I have been blogging, my third highest, or third most visited post, has been about pierogies.

The secret to a man's heart is through his stomach appears to be true for both sexes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In Portland Town, Oh Portland

By now, many of you, or anyone who is remotely internet savvy and possesses a facebook account, has heard of the internet show, "Portlandia" with Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein from SNL. If you have not heard about it or seen it, well that's why there's a link above. Go click and check it out.

"Portlandia" is a little show that both mocks stereotypes of Portland residents, neighborhoods, and the city's attitude while still being ridiculously hilarious. For anyone who lives or visits downtown, I personally think it's so amusing because of how close it hits close to home. While I technically live in unincorporated Washington County, I say I am from Portland. I hang around downtown a good deal, know the West side like the back of my hand, and can find my way around the East side. Also, you'd have to pay me good money to say I lived in Beaverton.

Many people know the show, but did you know that Portlandia is actually a large, iconic statue for the city? It's not just a made-up catchy title.

While "Portlandia" the show may be entertaining, I'm still not quite certain how I feel about it still, however, it did encourage me. On my last day home over Winter Break, I set out to be a tourist in my own city. Armed with my point and shoot camera, which apparently had almost no battery, I started in Pioneer Place and began to wander. Unfortunately, my camera gave out just as I was entering the Pearl. Pearl shots are subsequently captured with my phone, and by the time I got to the North West area and the East side, well, there's documentation in my mind, but not in any format that I can upload.

Thus, below, I give you another highly visual post. Welcome to some highlights of Portland. My Portland.

Children playing by a fountain is always adorable. Hi Pioneer Place.

These type of fountains are along both sides of the Pioneer Courthouse. What's cuter than otters?

Sorry bear, the otters are cuter.

The courthouse itself, as seen from the if you were facing towards the waterfront.

Awesomeness is awesome.

No writing about Ptown is complete without the Portland Man.

There is a special place in my heart for the food carts. Gold star to anyone who knows where they go to sleep at night.

Artsy-fartsy time. Welcome to the rear of the Arlene Schnitzer Hall.

In an attempt to take a picture of the works outside the Portland Art Museum, I accidentally captured a snapshot of a true Portland beard. In the Rose City, we do everything hard core.

Southpark Seafood Grill, why are you always so tasty?

This doesn't necessarily have a lot of cultural or historic meaning, but Clay is how you get to Sunset Highway, aka my mad dash home.

FINNEGAN'S! Prepare for pictures of stuffed animals. Finnegan's is the Northwest's largest independently owned toy store.

Where else am I going to find a stuffed Tasmanian Devil? Not the Looney Toons character.

Quality reading right there.

I have no idea what their message or cause was, but the signs looked cool.

Oh hi, Living Room theatre.

Please pardon the blurred pictures. At this point, I was taking pictures with my phone. While my little Droid 2 is awesome, it still can't compete with a quality Sony camera.

If I could die wandering the shelves of Powell's, I would be a lucky lass indeed. I love Powell's. That's about the simplest way to put it without sounding like a crazy fanatic. Powell's is the largest independent bookstore west of the Mississippi River. Powell's gives me hope for the world. It is the physical embodiment that print is not dead. If you are ever in Portland, visit Powell's. Take a coffee and get lost. It'll do your soul some good.

The Powell's pillar.

There is also Powell's 2; the technical bookstore, which recently relocated from deeper in the Pearl. Someone's got to stock books about mathematics, programming, and engineering.

Once again, I apologize for the picture quality. While hard to see the sign, this is the Deschutes Brewery Portland Pub. While I gained vast amounts of Portland knowledge when I was 16, obviously my knowledge of bars and pubs has been a bit minuscule. This was my first legal beer in Portland. I highly recommend the porter. On Portland beer notes, the Widmer Brother's hefeweizen is also fantastic.

Two gold stars to whoever can say this street correctly.

Unfortunately this is where most of the pictures end. I miss shopping at Ray's Ragtime and Three Monkeys. Getting my movie time in at the Fox Tower and then grabbing a donut at Voodoo Donut's. I miss the Cuban food at Pamiche. I miss flicks on the bricks in the summer, and the tree lighting in the winter. Portland is my home. Ptown represent.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reflection, Part Two

Classes have begun at RPI. Choosing a mixed, stylized schedule, my first day consisted of two art classes, yet tomorrow I face mathematical statistics and combinatorial optimization and integer programming. That's a mouthful and a half. Gathering my materials led me to round up backwork and books that I am lending to friends. On my bookshelf, next to my Econometrics text, I saw a bound paperback leaning very indiscreetly. Being guilty of having a horrible memory, I could not instantly recall what it was, and lifted it out of its nest to rediscover its identity. I found my Senior Reflections.

At Jesuit High School, there is a tradition where seniors are asked to write a personal reflection about their time from the past four years. It is open to almost anything; it just needs to be a personal, meaningful reflection of some part of your time. Browsing back through it, I was struck by two things. The first, is how conversational my composition was. The second, both my own, and many of my closest friends from high school spoke of support, interdependency, and an appreciation of others.

My senior year in high school was an awkward interesting mix of some of my greatest moments with myself and friends, and some of the lowest points of my life. Would I repeat that year? Definitely not, I do not think that I could match that amount of energy, however, there is a point that I wish I could revisit. Sometime that year for me, I became myself. Not completely 100%, but a solid 90%. The remaining bit has come in college. Reflecting back on that year, I have realized that was the first time I became truly comfortable with myself. I have always put up a good face, but deep in the chaos, was a moment where everything clicked. I stood up for myself. I learned to say no. I learned not to ride in cars with boys. I learned to be me.

It is my personal belief that everyone has some moment in life where that great "click" occurs. When your personal universe is perfectly aligned, and the heartstrings of your being perform into the most beautiful symphony of joy. College has not brought new movements to my song, but rather, a polishing of my greatest work--myself.

To borrow a phrase from an old friend, when did you visualize the awesomeness? When did you realize you were truly you, and content? Despite whatever doubts and fears life may bring, you realize it will be at least okay. There are lows, there are highs, and there is life. Make the most of it, your way is best.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Should I?

So I've started sketching more again, due to the large amount of free time over winter break. The question is, can I maintain this once classes start? Taking two art classes, one would suppose a positive yes, but can that be safe from statistics? Mathematical analysis? Economics research? My horrible desire to do everything?

I'm hoping yes. As I think, there isn't much point about this post besides to show off my sketches. Let's be honest, I know that unless I post this to facebook, all of four people will probably read this, therefore, I'm not being that vain in showing off my little sketches. This isn't even quality finished work, just little wisps. Oh well, off to sketch lovelies.

I guess that this is also a call for free, and paid, requests/commissions, since those normally keep me at some level of productivity.

Growing up sucks.

That is all.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Warning: This is a highly visual post.

On Halloween weekend, my good friend Erin and I attempted to make pierogies by scratch. With two people working, which includes talking about it, chatting about life and other things and attempting to figure out what exactly we were supposed to do, it took us around five hours to make a double batch. For reference, a double batch made about 150 pierogies, which sounds like a lot. It's actually not when you volunteer to gift pierogies to male friends who look to pierogies as childhood comfort.

Anywho, my Dad loves pierogies. They were also a comfort from childhood, as I found out when he told my mom he remembered making them with his baba. Thus, I volunteered to make pierogies for my family on Wednesday. The whole process took me about four hours. This shortened time horizon can be explained by not having anyone to converse with, more wine, and only making a single batch (75 pierogies).

For those of you who are not aware of what a pierogie is, it's pretty much a dumpling of Slavic origins. The most common filling is a potato cheese filling--you're probably seen Mrs. T's frozen kinds in the grocery store. Now that you have that bit of knowledge, do you actually know what it takes to make them?

Well I'll show you through pictures! Yay pictures!

The first photo shows the pork filling I made, the initial dough, and in the background there is a pot with potato cheese filling. Honestly, each component is relatively simple, just very time consuming.

After making both the fillings and starting on the dough,

(Potato filling)

Yay dough!

I then floured the dough a bit more and transfered it to an area to roll it out, kneaded it, and rolled it out.

After rolling out, really really really really really thin,

Seriously, it needs to be thin dough. It gets folded over upon itself and to make that amount of dough do that, you need to make sure it's both thin and elastic. Erin and I found this out the first time around and had to do some extra work accordingly. Yes, you might say well why not make more dough per pierogie? Well, that would make them too doughy, especially since you are putting carb inside more carb. It's just overkill that way.

Anyway, after rolling out and cutting into the right shape you can now fill the circles of dough with the filling and fold over to get something that looks like this:

The remaining steps are to cook the pierogies. First, you boil them, and when they float to the top, you can remove them from the water.

To finish, take the boiled pierogies, and sautee them. It gives them a nice finish.

And voila! Finished pierogies in all their pretty perfection for pleasurable dining experiences.

Om nom nom! Traditionally, pierogies are also then served with sour cream, fried bacon and sauteed onions. Many other fillings exist besides the classic potato and cheese, and my pork, such as lamb, just a cheese filling, and buttery cabbage.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


This is a quick snapshot, via my phone, of my desk and workspace right now over break. I'm not sure what it says about me currently, however, I am pretty sure there is some sort of correlation between number of drinks on the surface to mental processes. I'll get back to you on that one after further research.

Just a brief post because I am currently sketching everything.

Points to those who can identify each liquid consumed.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Life Plans

Recently in interviews, I have been asked: where do you see yourself in one, five, and ten years from now? Initially, my brain's response is similar to:

mixed a bit with

because let's be serious here. First off, the question is only asked to get a sense of my goals in a 30 second interview blurb. Secondly, I have no idea.

Well actually I do. I know where I'd like to be in a year.


Also known as, hire me pretty please? Back to a state of semi-seriousness, that's about all I have on an idea where I'd like to be in a year. Five? Ten? Let me just back up and start laughing now as to where my life could be.

In five years, I will be 26. In ten years, I'll be 31. That's a long time from now, and geezes I'll be old. Somewhere in there is the time that Mother Nature and other factors start shouting BABY, MARRIAGE, 401K, DENTAL PLANS, SAFE SCHOOLS, and HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATIONS. I don't know about you, but Home Owners Associations are scary. There isn't much point to this rant, other than to confirm that I'm scared silly of the upcoming year, and especially time after graduating from RPI. The only other main point is to mock the ridiculousness of the question:
Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Yes, I am aware that some people are more organized than me. Yes, some are more focused and have this figured out. Currently, my one year plan consists of full-time employment, graduation and sanity. My five year plan is only outlined thus far in terms of paying off undergraduate loans. The ten year plan?

Hell if I know.

If nothing else fails, I have decided that I will marry a rich Swiss banker (or just some randomly rich dude preferably with a nice nose, smile and decent head of hair) through a montage of scenes involving my wit, charm, and endearing clumsiness he will be captivated by me. We will live in a chateau along the Swiss Alps, and since he will be so busy traveling, I will have six dogs to keep me company, as I will have nothing to do with my time other than purchase overpriced lingerie, decorate rooms according to books on the coffee table, and run around in song.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Considerate Curiousity

Well readers, however few and far between there are of you, obviously you exist unless the statistics tracker on Blogger's website is a complete scam. I tend to have a bit of faith in Google, so I'm going to rule out that possibility. Anywho, life over Winter Break is getting a bit mundane, and ideas are trickling slower. For example, my activities today included: getting dressed, going to the coffee shop to review a college application essay, errands, going to the Victoria's Secret sale, working out, and watching Jeopardy and Two and A Half Men. Not very exciting, noteworthy, or deserving of a blog post. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

With the mundane in mind, and with a loving heart towards you all, I am wondering if there is anything in particular you enjoy reading about here. Is it my rants from work? My recent alcohol ravings? The consumer glee of Wish List Wednesdays?

What would you like to read about or see from my blog? Why do you keep coming back for readings? While I know some of you are good friends, there has got to be some reason besides pure friendship.

Be honest! I look forward to the comments!

Please post using the "comments" feature of the blog. It helps me keep things organized and accessible.

See everyone? This is both a visual representation of my long thought out ponderings on what to write, and a testament to how much I adore you all. Behold the horrible '90s family photo!