Monthly Archives: January 2016


25 Jan

I Have Sin Citied Again

Posted by on January 25, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Jason and I didn’t except to end up in Vegas less than two months after our last visit but we did. Jason was asked to attend some meetings at the Consumer Electronics Show, the largest show of its kind in the world, at the last minute and my winter semester hadn’t started yet so I agreed to tag along with him to Sin City.

You already know my tenacious opinions of Vegas so I’ll skip the psych analysis on humanity and just get to the happenings on this particular trip.

I take my food seriously and don't fuss about a little face sauce.

I take my food seriously and don’t fuss about a little face sauce.

Jason and I wasted no opportunities to eat well while in Vegas. We dined at Javier’s, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, and Bobby’s Burger Palace. Emeril’s was a little disappointing to be honest, probably because I have high expectations when it comes to grits.

Additionally, we went to a couple shows. David Copperfield’s magic was full of childish wonder and, unexpectedly, had a plot line. I think little kids would love his program and we big kids liked it too. We also caught the Jabbawockeez production called Dreamz. The Jabbawockeez crew, with their signature white masks and gloves, put on quite an entertaining show. Their mix of hip-hop, popping, b-boying, and humor was easy to watch.

The Jabbawockeez put on a mesmerizing dance show with a mix of hip-hop and humor.

The Jabbawockeez put on a mesmerizing dance show with a mix of hip-hop and humor.

I spent an afternoon wandering the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) while Jason was there hobnobbing with potential clients. Incidentally, in case you are ever inclined to attend CES, be aware that it is not open to the public and it is terribly difficult to convince the registration personnel of your credentials if you don’t have a business card. I’m a published scientist and it’s a lot harder to feign publication than to fabricate a business card. Yet, without a card, they were not going to let me in regardless. Fortunately, an overseer saw my logic and granted me a pass. CES was massive and sent me into overload mode quickly but it was fun drifting through the booths full of everything from talking ovens to guitar-playing robots.

I had to blow a few dollars at this slot machine because the One Ring beckoned.

I had to blow a few dollars at this slot machine because the One Ring beckoned.

My favorite thing about Vegas on this occasion wasn’t the food or entertainment but the sunshine. It was unusually overcast in Vegas during our stay but the sun did come out one afternoon for a bit and so did I. It felt decadent to read a book in a tank top by the pool in the middle of winter. Forget gambling and other debauchery, just give me some sunshine and I will feel like I won the jackpot.

Vegas wouldn’t have been my first vacation choice but, I have to admit, the sunshine was incredible and the restaurants and diversions weren’t half bad either.

19 Jan

Lasers and Blasters and Pops! Oh My!

Posted by on January 19, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Our Christmas this year contained more weaponry than is customary for that particular holiday. Plus, it involved some extra sewing, cooking, and geeking. Here’s exactly how our holiday took a turn toward the unusual.

I made this tree skirt featuring Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and The Avengers.

I made this tree skirt featuring Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and The Avengers.

Our angel wept.

Our angel wept.

This December, we got into the spirit of the force even more than the spirit of the season. We decided that our plans to turn our Christmas tree over to the dark side were long overdue. It was our (Insert dramatic pause here.) destiny. I created a tree skirt featuring some of our favorite universes and we decked our evergreen in nerdom’s finest. We are sci-fi geeks more than anything so Starfleet officers, stormtoopers, robots of both the benevolent and malevolent variety, Time Lords, Firefly-class transport ships, and other time-and/or-space-traveling vessels spread themselves over most of our branches.

Shiny... and geeky.

Shiny… and geeky.

Jason's Han Solo outfit took a considerable amount of time to sew.

Jason’s Han Solo outfit took a considerable amount of time to sew.

Fittingly, our tree wasn’t the only seasonal disturbance in the force. Jason, caught up in the excitement of the new Star Wars movie, requested a handmade Han Solo outfit for Christmas. I was happy to accommodate since I prefer gifts that require a little effort. His smuggler’s duds turned out rather dapper.

Jason's blaster and rig were both handmade but not by me.

Jason’s blaster and rig were both handmade but not by me.

It was only 24 degrees outside when I took these pictures. Where's a warm tauntaun when you need one?

It was only 24 degrees outside when I took these pictures. Where’s a warm tauntaun when you need one?

Lots of other handmade goodies filled our holidays. Jason and I cooked pretty continuously on Christmas Eve and Christmas. We simmered mushrooms for nine hours in a bottle of cabernet to create a delicious side dish for Jason’s family’s Christmas Eve gathering. We also roasted tender new potatoes with fresh rosemary and garlic for that meal. Our Christmas morning began with crepes suzette, buttery crepes drizzled with a tangy Grand Marnier sauce. Those crepes were just for us to gobble but we also made marshmallow pops and apple cider for my family’s Christmas get together.

Jason had Drew's name this year. His FANtastic-morning themed gift included Star Wars pancake molds and a Death Star tea infuser. And, of course, there was also tea, Earl Grey, hot.

Jason had Drew’s name this year. His FANtastic-morning themed gift included Star Wars pancake molds and a Death Star tea infuser. And, of course, there was also tea, Earl Grey, hot.

Jason and I made these colorful marshmallow pops for my family.

Jason and I made these colorful marshmallow pops for my family.

Upon returning from my family’s shindig, Jason and I immediately took to cooking again. We prepared bacon-wrapped filets and mesclun salad with parmesan polenta rounds in a hurry. Yes, we donned our aprons quite a bit around Christmas but cooking special-occasion dishes is one of my favorite pastimes during the holidays.

Abby was ecstatic over the dollhouse my parents gave her.

Abby was ecstatic over the dollhouse my parents gave her.

Ahhh, can't you just feel the Christmas love.

Ahhh, can’t you just feel the Christmas love.

This year, Jason and I decided to give our nieces and nephews something for Christmas their parents wouldn’t have to cart to the DI in six months: an hour of laser tag. The day after Christmas, our group of 16, which included a number of adults, pelted each other at a laser arena courtesy of the Sabins. Jason achieved the high score in a couple games and I managed to obtain the fourth and fifth positions in our first two rounds before coming in almost dead last in another. Good job Rachel on becoming terrible over time! Everyone seemed to have fun tagging and taunting their relatives.

Jas and I prepared a lovely Christmas dinner together.

Jas and I prepared a lovely Christmas dinner together.

Our laser battles brought out some merited family bantering.

Our laser battles brought out some merited family bantering.

It was a nice holiday with a lot of homemade goodness and geekiness. The lasers and blasters and pops were prolific enough that even George Takei would say, “Oh my!”

11 Jan

A Disney Diversion

Posted by on January 11, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Sometimes you need a break, a break that’s an actual break not just doing homework somewhere else. This December, after my semester ended, that is exactly what I needed. So, per my demands, Jason and I took a few days off from life and headed to Disneyland.

We bought ponchos around the time the rain tapered out.

We bought ponchos around the time the rain tapered out.

This 1,350-pound gingerbread house took up a large space in the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel.

This 1,350-pound gingerbread house took up a large space in the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel.

Our first hour in Disneyland it rained a lot. I was under the impression that California never received precipitation anymore but, apparently, that isn’t exactly true. We got completely drenched and then waited in a long line to buy ponchos just in time for it to let up.

Cars Land has an inviting nostalgic feel.

Cars Land has an inviting nostalgic feel.

I got a warm hug from Olaf.

I got a warm hug from Olaf.

I was also under the mistaken impression that Decembers at Disneyland were warm because they have been for us on every other occasion. However, this time, the shorts I packed did not get used. If it looks like I’m wearing the same thing in all of this post’s pictures, it’s because I am wearing the same thing… everything I brought with me. Yes, in the evenings I wore a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, a sweater, a hoodie, a jacket, one of Jason’s jackets, a scarf, and gloves. One afternoon I did strip down to a t-shirt for about an hour though.

Disneyland is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. They have photo spots like this one placed around the park to commemorate.

Disneyland is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. They have photo spots like this one placed around the park to commemorate.

You can't beat the glamour of a fake open road.

You can’t beat the glamour of a fake open road.

So my preconceptions about weather and precipitation were off. Now, let me address your incorrect preconceptions. People often have a notion that Disneyland is no fun without kids. That is false. Jason and I have been there on many occasions as a couple and we consistently have a fabulous time. Sorry, your kids really aren’t as useful as you think.

Disneyland adds a lot of holiday cheer to their parks in December.

Disneyland adds a lot of holiday cheer to their parks in December.

You can always find new amusements at Disneyland, no matter how many times you’ve come. During this trip, we discovered Disney Animation, a whole interactive area in California Adventure we didn’t know existed. There, in addition to talking with Crush the turtle, we learned what Disney characters we would be. I would be EVE from WALL-E and Jason would be Syndrome from The Incredibles. (Jason a villain? No surprise there.)

Forget princesses, I wanted to meet Chewbacca.

Forget princesses, I wanted to meet Chewbacca.

Wookiees give soft hugs.

Wookiees give soft hugs.

The Force Awakens was opening just days after our visit and Disneyland was hopping like a cantina party in anticipation. Tomorrowland had been converted to Season of the Force. Hyperspace Mountain traveled to a galaxy far, far away. Instead of sparkly princesses, you could get cozy with Darth Vader, Chewbacca, or Boba Fett at the Star Wars Launch Bay. As we are sci-fi nerds, we were totally down with all of these galactic alterations. I might have bought a little too much Star Wars merchandise… or I might not have bought enough really. Would you call a dress, a couple t-shirts, some Christmas tree ornaments, a few comic books, a wallet, a book, and a Luke doll enough?

Everyone loves Pluto.

Everyone loves Pluto.

You have to get a picture in the dog pound when you're in Toontown. It's required.

You have to get a picture in the dog pound when you’re in Toontown. It’s required.

We always have a long list of places and foods we need to eat when we go to Disneyland. Jason made sure we had reservations at Napa Rose, Storytellers Café, and Blue Bayou. We also devotedly chowed corn dogs, churros, pineapple floats, asparagus and bacon skewers, and hand-dipped ice cream bars. You know, just the healthy stuff.

Mickey's Toontown is a vibrantly interactive section of Disneyland.

Mickey’s Toontown is a vibrantly interactive section of Disneyland.

Big Thunder Mountain here I come!

Big Thunder Mountain here I come!

Disneyland wasn’t exactly paradise this trip. It was cold and occasionally wet. However, it was also a much needed breather from the occupational and scholastic summersaulting I’ve been doing the last six months. Twenty layers or not, we had a great time being the big little kids that we are. Plus, it snowed back home the whole time we were gone so that made Disneyland’s disagreeable weather seem far less nasty.

6 Jan

Wired

Posted by on January 6, 2016 at 10:22 am

Centuries ago, somebody realized that if a woman’s voluminous layers of petticoats were kept away from her body she would be less likely to cook like a lobster in a pot of lace. (Apparently, the obvious solution, just decreasing the layers of petticoats, was completely overlooked.) Thus, the hoop skirt, an underskirt with stiffening materials to hold its shape, was created. It really was a clever concept until someone, probably a man, remembered that bigger is better. Hoop skirts became larger and larger until women took up as much space as bloated cows. And that brings me to my performance in precisely such a vintage tent.

We dance with a fantastic bunch of people.

We dance with a fantastic bunch of people.

This December, Jason and I danced again at the Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for Primary Children’s Hospital, in attire appropriate for the 1860s and also appropriate for causing some exasperation. The circumference of the hoop skirt I wore to this affair measures just over 231 inches. Trying to squeeze that overinflated balloon through the festival crowds was like pushing an orange through a flour sifter.

I know Gay Gordons so well, I only mess it up if I actually think about what I am doing.

I know Gay Gordons so well, I only mess it up if I actually think about what I am doing.

The Oslo Waltz is danced in a round and makes inflated skirts sway like bells.

The Oslo Waltz is danced in a round and makes inflated skirts sway like bells.

Our group of six couples danced nine numbers in the half-hour we were on stage. Since this was our second time performing at the festival, Jason and I were unruffled by the little pack of spectators that gradually expanded during our show.

The Windmill looks impressively complicated but really isn't.

The Windmill looks impressively complicated but really isn’t.

There is quite a bit of bowing, curtsying, and hat tipping done at the end of our performances.

There is quite a bit of bowing, curtsying, and hat tipping done at the end of our performances.

After our routine, my imposing underskirt infrastructure slowed our movement across the exhibit hall. I got stared at and stopped frequently by excited youngsters because of my resemblance to a princess but I didn’t mind being mistaken for royalty.

My girth was exponentially enlarged at the Dickens' Ball also.

My girth was exponentially enlarged at the Dickens’ Ball also.

A week or so later, we attended the Dickens’ Ball. I donned that same wired slip and gave up fitting through doorframes in exchange for an evening of spirited stepping. For, although simple tasks, like sitting, are rendered unpleasant when you’re wearing a skirt bulkier than a bath tub, dancing in such an outfit is a stimulating drama. Your dress’s momentum doesn’t always coincide with your own and its insistent will makes you feel like you’ve a mixed mind about you. It’s quite an amusing commotion. Incidentally, if you know a family of four looking for some new housing, I have the perfect skirt.