Sunday, October 31, 2010

Recommended

I just spent this weekend flying through the rest of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I began reading this almost a month and a half ago, and while it was good, work tended to slow down the amounts of reading time I was able to put into it. However, I picked it back up again last week and got to the really good parts in the book, and finished it this evening. I highly recommend it. The Hunger Games is the first of a trilogy set, although I don't have copies of the second or third, so I'm on hold.

Keeping within the same theme though, I think I'm going to start re-reading Battle Royale this week. The last time I read that was in high school and I'm sure there was plenty I missed back then.

I'm also a little sad that Project Runway just ended. It was by far one of the best seasons of the show in a long time - quite possibly the best period. I feel a little detached now that it's over :(

Fright Night

Next year I promise to make the most of my Halloween and get way more into it than I did this year (which was non-existent). My favorite holiday, wasted due to exhaustion, laziness, and lack of a social life. Sadface.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Most Expensive Mistake

I officially changed my status at Penn from Master's student to certification, which in essence will save me almost $25,000. Although, sadly I'm kicking myself (hard) because it was too late to change for this term and so I wasted $10,000 this term being a "Master's student" even though Master's and cert students attend the same classes and must perform the same assignments. I hate the education system in this country.

A lot of choices went into my decision though. For one thing, I was attending these classes and writing papers on educational philosophy, theories, and developmental psychology that meant nothing to me. I don't find these topics or classes interesting in the least. I though, if I were to obtain a higher degree, I would spend the outrageous amount of money to do it for something that interested me, such as history. And even if I were to continue on with teaching, I would want to move into secondary history or teaching at the collegiate level, in which it would make more sense to have a specialized degree with research completed.

Also, I'm nervous I may not last the two years in Teach for America, therefore I don't want to waste thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it. So this just seems like the safest bet. I'm just kicking myself that I didn't think this through all the way sooner, and that in a way I was blinded by the thought of getting a Master's through an Ivy League school. And now, I've wasted about $10,000 for nothing. Mega sadface.

In similar news, I have a math methods paper that is due tonight at midnight that I didn't even start yet, and don't even plan to start until the morning. A late submission means the highest I can get on it then is a C+ but I don't even care. Funny how all through high school and college I never turned in any work late, and here I am in the Penn program and I'm turning things in late left and right. Just thinking about the program makes me frustrated!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Beary Good

CVS gummy bears - the bane of my existence.


There is a CVS two blocks from my house which I use for all my household staples, drinks, and snacks. Well, every single time I frequent the place I insist on purchasing myself a $.99 bag of gummy bears. And then I snack on them all night. Sometimes I buy two, or even three packs.

I'm a gummy bear junkie.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Je Ne Sais Pas

My one love: French bread. How is it that I managed to live here three months without going to check out that farmer's market at Clark Park? To think of all the delicious French bread I could have been eating... The bread/bakery stand makes the most amazing French bread! I bought two giant loaves today for only $6 - and I already devoured half of one since then.


All signs point to a trip to Washington DC this weekend to visit Kami :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Good Eats II

I went to CVS a half hour ago to buy some candy for my little kiddies. While I was roaming inside the store searching for the cheapest candy to buy, a guy walked past me with a brown bag in his hands that had a wrapped up sub sticking out. Instantly my mouth began to water and I had this strong craving for an Italian sub. I wasn't even hungry - I had eaten three pieces of pizza at work a few hours prior. But my urge was telling me I had to go buy a sub.

So I walked out of CVS after making my purchase and went to the small deli across the street. I had seen this deli many times and I've been meaning to give it a taste. This place has loads of good reviews and recommendations.

I walked inside and ordered an Italian sub. Actually, I think this was the first sub I've ever had from a Jewish deli - most of the places around Boston are Italian-owned. Anyways, I was waiting for my sub, watching the guy put it together. I noticed the slicer he was using and all the leftover meats and veggies smushed to the bottom of it, which normally would gross me out but tonight it made the sandwich that much more special.

Got home, ate half, and fell in love.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Click

"There is a time of year in New York when, even before the first leaf falls, you can feel the seasons click. The air is crisp, the summer is gone. And for the first night in a long time, you need a blanket on your bed. It brings up other needs as well..."
Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City, 4.18)

Good Eats

This journal is slowly manifesting itself into a food journal...not sure if that's good or bad? Anyway, there is this Japanese/Korean fusion restaurant that opened up a block from my house that I've been dying to check out for a while now. After pondering over the menu for days without making any decisions, tonight I finally gave in an placed an order: a bibimbap rice bowl and some kimchi. And boy was it good!

Looked kinda like this:

Definitely adding this place to my hot spots in the neighborhood, especially seeing as I've only lived here for three months and the girl working at Colonial Pizza began to know me by name after two weeks!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stuff It

I had another (positive) adventure in cooking this evening. I took the red pepper I bought from the Farmer's Market yesterday and successfully sauteed (is this even the right word?) it using some oil. I know exactly what you're thinking - "oh wow, Vinny, no need to be impressed with yourself because that is probably the most basic you can get with cooking!" And I agree. But again, I'm a basic type of guy in the kitchen.

And to show you how basic I am, I used those fried red peppers and just tossed them atop some white rice with soy sauce. Basic to the max, but surprisingly yummy!

And last night I made my father's Italian gravy for my pasta and it came out pretty spot on. Things seem to be looking up on Pine Street...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pump Up the Jam

Waiting to go out and pumping myself up with some music as I get ready. But as I listen, I'm realizing just how random my taste in music is, and how diverse my iTunes has become over the years in terms of artists and genres. As a result I have this strange obsession with my iTunes play count - I'm eerily proud of the songs that make it to my Top 25 List and yet at the same time, I laugh when I see the list:


I mean, come on! Super Junior takes the top three spots followed by FOUR Lady Gaga tracks. So either I'm a Lady Gaga freak or a teenage Korean girl. Pat Benatar? Pussycat Dolls? BANANARAMA!? 

Old MacDonald

Farmer's Market at Clark Park was a success! Went there after class (which I was steadily falling asleep in), dropped $20, walked away satisfied and happy with my fresh goods:


I anticipate eating that baguette tonight...out of the bag...with nothing on it...all of it. Did I mention I love French bread? And I am imagining heating up that apple cider and sipping it while watching a movie on the couch I don't have - what a lovely idea! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Toasted

I'm feeling a bit burnt out lately. I think I just need something to spice up my life a little. I feel the way I did right before I left China - that I'm just exhausted with teaching. I love my students, but I just feel drained after going through a whole day of teaching lessons over and over again. Perhaps I just have to sit down, reflect, and try out some new things in the classroom...

Tomorrow after class I am FINALLY going to check out the farmer's market down at Clark Park (about three blocks from my apartment). I've been meaning to go since I moved in this summer and now with only a few weeks left of it running I'm finally going to go. Maybe that will lift my spirits: actually having some fresh produce in the house. I mean, ten minutes ago I ate some tuna fish out of the can, so things can only go up from there.

I'm counting down the days until Thanksgiving break (34) when I can return to Boston for a full five days! I wonder if I can go without doing laundry until then...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cooking? Cooking!

"Mis-Adventures in the Kitchen with Vinny."
That's what my cooking show would be called if I had one. Or "What NOT to Do in the Kitchen...with Vinny."

So I get home from work and think, "hmm I'll make some pasta!" and get right into the kitchen ready to start cooking. I grab some ingredients for the gravy, and start it out like (I thought) my father had shown me. I put some oil into the pan, began to heat it up, and was going to add some garlic powder before I added my tomato sauce.

Little did I know (well I knew it but didn't think about it at the time) that heating oil in a pan is a terrible idea. It began to spurt and pop and I realized "hot damn, this isn't safe" and so as the intelligent person I am I take the pan off the stove to move it into the sink to dump it out. Mid-lift the oil POPS in the pan and sprays everywhere. I literally shrieked at the top of my lungs, thinking it was going to burn my flesh off. It did hit me in the face, but it was only a few specks and they weren't hot enough yet to do any (real) damage.

After that debacle I nixed the pasta and proceeded to make a super depressing bowl of rice with five frozen dumplings I've had in my freezer for over a month now. Not satisfying, or delicious.

Sadface.

And let's hark back to two weeks ago when I was looking in a cook book at this delicious-looking melted cheese sandwich with bacon and scallions that I tried to emulate. Instead, all I had was a globby cheese sandwich with some half-cooked bacon on it.

And I hate American cheese. It's still sitting in my fridge, where it will most likely remain until it turns green. Sitting beside my can of Four Loco strawberry. And a half-empty bag of bread. And that's it.

Depressing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Skatin'

Field trip today to the roller rink in New Jersey was a blast - by far one of the best times I've had at this school. It was great to see students in a more natural element and being able to joke around with them. Plowed through a few kids on the rink though, and had third graders skating circles around me...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Smashing Pumpkins

I just found out that Eastern State Penitentiary holds Halloween haunted house tours at night all month. I think I might be going with some people from work this weekend, and I am so so so so excited! I've been there in the daytime and I was eerily frightened, and to go there at night while it's "haunted house style" will be totally kick-ass. Halloweenie!

I also just stumbled upon this ESL group that meets up in Center City every Monday night. It's basically a place for English Language Learners to hang out and talk to native speakers. I figure it should be a cool way to meet some people (older people, I bet - sigh) and also have some good conversations - sort of like free therapy? Plus I have an interest in English as a second language and some background in teaching it, so that helps too. Anything to get me out of the house and away from lesson planning every night!

Monday, October 18, 2010

People I Hate #2: Meteorologists

A group of people I especially hate are meteorologists.

For one thing, they are always so perky and pepped up about nice weather. "Oh it's going to be a scorcher out there today folks! Better get on your jets-ski and ride around!" But what really peeves me off is that who are they to decide that warm, sunny weather is "nice" weather!? I for one appreciate the overcast, cloudy days mixed with rain - that's my favorite type of weather. But to meteorologists, those days are sub-par.

"Yikes, looks like this weekend's going to be a wash-out. Sorry folks!"

Furthermore, meteorologists are hardly accurate. I can recall that day last winter when they predicted this huge snow storm to hit Massachusetts and the New England states, and because of their forecast schools closed early, people left work early, and everyone sheltered themselves indoors for the day. And what happened? A little dusting (if that). Not even close, weatherman!

And while we're on the topic of weather, probably one of the natural events that I hate the most in the world is when there is a large rain storm and then afterwards, the sun comes out! I can't stand that! If you're going to be a gloomy, cheerful, rainy day, then stay that way - don't ruin it by having the sun peek out and dry everything up!

While I loathe the meteorologist profession, I do enjoy this guy:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

People I Hate #1: Bill O'Reilly

I'm going to start a new series on this blog titled "People I Hate" because there just seem to be so many of them in the public sphere these days. It will not be a personal series where I talk about people in my own life, because I love everyone around me (cough) - it will just be used for public figures and celeb-trash.

The first on the list, and probably the one that I hate the most, is Bill O'Reilly. I cannot stand this man in the least. His views are so warped and twisted, and the ways that he uses the media to propagate his own opinions and views while quickly talking over anyone who disagrees with him is outrageous. He is the reason that I abhor Fox News, because they allow him to get away with all this nonsense. His opinions are so right-winged and out there that I listen to him and actually see him causing more harm than anything for our nation. And he's not even intelligent; he simply overpowers the voices of those brought onto his show and uses his twisted logic to say what he determines is best for our country.

But what makes it even sadder is that I know that there are thousands (if not more) Americans who listen to his words and watch his news show and believe every word he is saying. And I would bet everything that they are all living below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Recently O'Reilly was on the View speaking about the mosque debacle near the former World Trade Center area in New York City. He began making obscene blanket comments about the Muslim faith which prompted Joy and Whoppi to actually walk off stage in frustration. I admire their restraint in not knocking him flat on his ass.



What...an asshole.

Lush-ious

I always know a night is going to take a turn for the drunk when I order this one particular drink. It's clearly my drink of choice and whenever I order it it's basically signaling that my night is going to be amped up a notch. What drink, you may ask? A Long Beach iced tea - it's basically a Long Island but instead of coke you add cranberry juice, making it sweeter and less tart. Not only is it ridiculously strong, it's also a hangover waiting to happen.

I was thinking back on my memories at UMass today (because this weekend was just Alumni Weekend) and I was thinking back on all of our drinks of choice and how they've rotated within the semesters:

Fall 2008 in Thatcher Adrienne and I were obsessed with red wine, particularly the brand Fish Eye because it has a twist cap (real classy). We would each drink a whole bottle before heading out and stumbling around town. I'll never forget the night we both spent in the boy's room on the fourth floor puking our brains out together. Or sitting in the hallway sipping on wine when that's clearly not allowed in the dorms. Or getting written up for caring around a bottle of opened wine.

Flash forward to Fall 2009 and Adrienne and I moved on to white wine (still Fish Eye). We had some pretty insane nights off this crap. We began the semester with two black out nights: the first I drank a whole bottle, went to the bars in town, and then walked all the way back to my dorm alone through the woods with no recollection, only to get back and take a shower fully clothed. Or the night Adrienne drank a whole bottle and then passed out on the lawn outside the bank ten minutes after we arrived at the bar.

Spring 2010 was mainly given up to cheap forties because of my dwindling bank account, but it was no less messy. One forty alone is enough for me, but most nights consisted of consuming two. Or the night Courtney, Cade, and I had two forties each then got a beer tower (which consists of 120 ounces or something) and finished that as well. And the night of Edward Forty Hands with Christine and Shiri in which pants came off, shirts came off, and mayhem ensued. Let's not forget the night of the PSP Senior Bar Crawl in which I tried to steal a traffic cone and got pulled over by the cops (walking).

I really miss college.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

SEPTA Blues

SEPTA, I am utterly annoyed by your backwardness. I don't understand how in this day and age, you can run a major public transportation system in one of the largest cities in the United States and NOT have machines in each station to break large bills OR use a credit card. Furthermore, who uses tokens anymore!? Boston upgraded to a card tapping system years ago.

I am sick and tired of having a $5 or $10 bill in my wallet and walking into a station without a coin machine (because let's face it, only about one of out every three stations actually has one). And god forbid you allow the people working in the booth to break bills. I don't understand their job - they sit there all day and take your money, but only if you have the $2 exact change. They can't give you change, they can't break the bill, and they don't have a credit card machine.


I guess it's my fault in a sense - I should come prepared on my trips with small bills for my return trip, and that would stop me from having to frantically search for a CVS or corner store to break a $5 or $10 while I miss about a dozen trains. But really, SEPTA, when are you going to join the modern age and upgrade your system?