Friday, August 29, 2008

help me pick some pictures

Last year I hung up a set of ten of my pictures in my office, because my walls were blank and needed some attention.


I have three more walls, though, so I think I want another set of pictures, and I’m having trouble narrowing it down to ten. Here are some early nominees, but if you’ve seen one of my other pictures and really like it or you want to nominate one of these for exclusion, please feel free to suggest. They will be scattered on the other three walls, so they don’t necessarily have to go together.

volunteer village

dinosaur face

giraffe again

cigar sign

knoxville sunset

fish fountain

statue closeup

passenger car

Horne statue

bottles and pitchers

good food on the corner

Here comes dawn

state archive

car wash


inside yee haw industries

another bee

spiral go cart track



Or I could just order all twenty, since I wanted to order in groups of ten.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


1) This:


I think it's an anthropomorphic mushroom in a tie-dyed t-shirt riding a flying bicycle over the entryway of the Mellow Mushroom. Either that, or my pizza was laced with LSD and my camera could see it, too.

2) The all-meat pizza:

meat pizza

Angi, Mark, Brian, and I went to lunch at the Mellow Mushroom the other day. Angi and I split a pesto pizza, but Brian and Mark decided they wanted to get the all-meat pizza, a carnivorous delight smothered with pepperoni, sausage, ground hamburger, ham, and bacon. When they ordered, I expected some protestors to run out of the bathroom screaming, "Meat is murder!", but I was intrigued.

It sounded good on the menu. It looked good when it came out. It smelled like a thousand delicious meals at the same time. Eating it might have been a different story. I didn't taste it, but Brian only made it through about two pieces before he started holding his belly in pain.

3) My old school couldn't fill their meager football stadium for games:


My new school?

Volunteer beer

Bud Light makes us our own beer.

4) Eggshells look kind of cool close up:


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Opening is upon us!

Even though we’ve been checking people in since last week, we officially opened yesterday, heralded by the last hurrah of summer band camp:

here they come

batons in the air

the band is huge

some of the brass

I was in marching band in early high school. It’s hot and tiring, but it was sort of fun. Since I have no rhythm and never practiced because I never wanted to play a trumpet in the first place, it was as much fun as someone who didn’t want to be in band could have in a wool uniform in 95 degree heat.

There’s an unsubstantiated rumor in our office that after the opening parade the band director goes back and cuts everyone who’s not actually going to be in the band this year. The idea is that letting them march one time is a kindness and an honor, but I think it would be even more disappointing to spend weeks drilling, memorizing, playing, and then be forced to march through the campus in front of your parents and everyone you know only to have someone tell you, “Thanks anyway” when you finished. It’s probably different if being in band is actually something you want to do, though.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I believe in Britney

I saw this sign this morning, and it made me smile:

Don't STOP Believing!

On the other hand, I smiled a lot more at my friend and coworker Kevin's trophy-winning performance at last night's 14th Annual RA Lip Sync Contest:

mr. britney spears

Hit me, baby, one more time indeed.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stop shooting me!

After our division retreat the other day there was a staff social outing to get pizza and then go to the go cart track. It was supposed to be an evening of fun and bonding, but as always seems to happen when there are bumper boats with attached water cannons, things quickly turned ugly.

Ugly and wet.

me and jeannie

The whole way home Jeannie and I were squirming uncomfortably and complaining about how clammy and gross we felt.

On the plus side, we shot the hell out of the grad assistants.

Monday, August 4, 2008

flea market!

We lived in Tennessee and Kentucky when I was little, and every few weeks my mom would bundle us up and take us to the flea market. I don’t remember them very well, but a few things stick out:

1) They were always outside. This also meant that they were usually hot and dusty, but when I was little that irritated me much less than it does now.

2) They had comic books. I used to buy “Swamp Thing” there, and thought it was awesome to just sit and go through the boxes and get a stack of comics for a dollar.

3) My mom bought doilies at one that we used on the coffee table and end tables for years afterward and probably still own.

When I moved back here I didn’t wait very long before I went to my first flea market, but it was different. It was inside, and there weren’t really that many interesting things, just tables and tables of homemade crafts, Tupperware, Avon, sample sized packs of medicine in Rubbermaid bins, and a lot of similar stuff that seemed like you could just get it at a dollar store or discount outlet. Not many antiques, or weird stuff from people’s houses, or the kind of atmosphere that I remembered. I found it disappointing and haven’t gone back to the Expo Center for another.

I never knew where the outdoor one was, though, until last week when my friend Lauren told me she was going to set up a table at one. She just got a new job on the west coast, so she’s trying to sell a lot of her stuff instead of packing and moving it, and I said I’d swing by and show some support.

It’s the flea markets I remember!

Acres of cars parked out front!

green acres flea market

Colorful, yet somehow sad, displays of unwanted goods!

garden of toys

And then there’s the oddities, the things you don’t ever see for sale anywhere else, like a vaguely blasphemous Virgin Mary beach towel:


Nothing screams “Day at the beach!” more than a scantily girl slathered in cocoa butter and laying on Jesus’ mom as topless guys walk by and ogle her. It’s pretty much the definition of “wholesome family fun”.

More photos are on the photo page, including the live chickens, which disturbed me. My taking a picture of them disturbed the guy selling them even more, though, which makes me wonder about the legality of the whole thing. That’s probably also part of the fun of the outdoor flea market.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

beet salad

In the July issue of “Martha Stewart Living” (which I feel like I actually got about an eternity and a half ago; July was a long-ass month this year) there was an article about special burgers with special sides. I ignored most of the burgers, but there was a side salad of green beans (Martha, of course, refers to them as “haricots verts” because she’s from the French part of Jersey), golden beets, and goat cheese that looked delicious. I’ve been meaning to make it for a while, and this weekend I finally got around to it.

(There was an abortive attempt last weekend which will never be spoken of again. Suffice it to say, if Martha says to roast the beets in parchment paper and you have no parchment paper, you should not try to wing it. Do what Martha says, or disaster beyond your imagination will occur, possibly brought on by Martha herself through a form of recipe blasphemy witchcraft that I cannot prove but completely believe she practices.)

As it was a fairly simple salad, I was able to find all of the ingredients except the beets at Food City. For those, I had to go to the Fresh Market, a store that intimidates me mostly because it is in the fancy shopping plaza where the SUV set flings money about with wild abandon. Now that I’ve been to the Fresh Market, though, I may never go back because I won’t be able to stop myself from buying sixteen different kinds of cheese at the cheese case. If that cheese case is a bug zapper, then I’m a moth, and you know how that story ends.

I got my golden beets home, but since they came from the Fresh Market they were a little more natural than my usual beets, which I pour out of a can, are:

raw beets

After I attacked them with my kitchen scissors and potato brush, though, things were looking better:

washed beets

They turned out to be a lot more colorful than I thought they would be. Regular beets always look kind of blandly monochromatic, so I assumed golden beets would just be yellow, and was pleasantly surprised by how pretty they were. I responded to this sudden glimpse of beauty by wrapping it in parchment paper, then foil, and then destroying it in the oven for an hour.

roasted beets

It didn’t occur to me until just now that I could have probably wrapped all the beets together in one packet instead of individually. On the other hand, if my kitchen were a restaurant I could put “individually roasted beets” on the menu and make them sound much fancier. After they cooled for about an hour, I unwrapped them so that I could peel and dice them:

roasted beet

I had the vegetable peeler out, but they were so tender and slippery that the skin peeled right off in my fingers. I can add “hand peeled” to my fancy menu, too, which might make up for cutting the green beans with scissors instead of a knife like a real chef does.

They were still very pretty once they were peeled and diced:

diced beets

Once the beets were ready, the beans only took about two minutes, and the dressing maybe another minute. I tossed it all together with the goat cheese and compared it to the original:

salad vs. salad

I think I did pretty well, and, more importantly, it was delicious.