Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pictures of January

I've got some random photos from the last couple of weeks that don't all go together and don't really tell a story (or just don't tell a particularly interesting one), but I want to share. My friend Leo did an excellent 2011 in pictures blog entry, (you should look at it even if you don't know her, because it's just that good) so this is inspired by that, except that mine are kind of the leftover pictures that didn't make it into other entries.

1) Toy friends:

stuffed friends

Taken at the campus Early Learning Center when I was riding with Jeannie while my car was broken.

2) Blurry:


The camera that I had for years and years and used to carry everywhere before I went digital. Mom and Dad bought it for me for Christmas sometime in the late 1980's.

3) Pinhole on campus:

torchbearer, from below

I think it's odd how none of the flame, which is in the Torchbearer's outstretched hand, is captured by the pinhole. I've tried this angle before in lower light, but then you can't really see the statue. I will probably keep experimenting with it, though.

pinhole motorcycle

I think that motorcycle picture is just perfect. It looks exactly like I hoped it might when I took it, which means (I think) that I'm getting better with the pinhole camera.

mcclung tower

Humanities and Social Sciences

Amphitheater and Hodges

Art and Architecture

I really like that the pinhole camera can take things that I see every day (like McClung Tower) and render them strange and new.

4) Remember when I bought that orange resin clock with the rocks inside?

I still like it.

part of my clock

5) Summer's over:


These have been sitting on top of my shelf since I stopped wearing contacts a year or two ago. It feels wrong to throw away perfectly good sunglasses, but I have no idea what I'm saving them for, unless I decide to try contacts again in a year or two.

I miss being able to openly stare at people from behind dark lenses.

6) Graffiti on campus:


I don't think evolution works that way.

masters of the universe

Childhood will never die. What's kind of hilarious is that this cartoon probably wasn't even on the air anymore when the person who painted this was born.



Current events, in stencil.


And a scorpion to round out the collection.

I saw most of these around the entrance to the Art and Architecture Building that faces the pedestrian walkway, which in over five years on campus I have never actually used:

art and architecture building

I guess I still need to get out of my office more.

7) Rare Pages III

Since I've never been to that particular entrance to the Art and Architecture Building, I didn't know that it also houses a sculpture:

Rare Pages III (5)

Rare Pages III (1)

"Rare Pages III" by Blane De St. Croix.

It's a collection of concrete tiles in a rack, and you can slide the tiles in and out to see each one:

Rare Pages III (2)

Rare Pages III (3)

The animals are all rare and endangered, which might explain why that tamarind looks so sad.

Rare Pages III (4)

Rare Pages III (6)

I did a little online research and found a link to the sculpture on the artist's website, which left me with two thoughts.

First, it's not quite in the same condition as it was when completed in 1992.

Second, I'm willing to bet that at least some of the animlas on the tiles have become extinct between 1992 and now, and that was a little depressing to consider.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Morning Photography

I ran into the office this morning (voluntarily, even though I was given the option of not doing so) because I was planning to come to campus anyway, and since it was a holiday the elevator was turned off, and I had to take the stairs. I probably needed the exercise (if we're being honest, I could leave out the "probably"), and the stairwell was also filled with photographic opportunities:


flag, from the stairwell

I was apparently into that tall, tapering shape today.

I took the photograph of the ladder because I've been trying to take interesting photos of ordinary things after last weekend's experiment, and have met with partial success. There are a lot of photos that I haven't posted because they come out looking as ordinary as the objects in them, but I kind of like that ladder, and I really like this cup that was on the counter in the office kitchen the other day:

green cup

It's just a ceramic mug, but I really like the shadows on the curves and the lines in the glaze.

After I left the office (I was only there for about ten minutes) I headed over to the university gardens, where it was very cold and the sun was still coming up, so that I could take the pinhole camera for a walk:

morning trees

I have no idea what I was going for there. The pinhole continues to be hit or miss, with some pictures under exposed (like the one above) and some horribly overexposed or right on the verge of it (like the ones below):

fence, birdhouse, frosted plants

birdhouse and sky

The red at the bottom is where the overexposure started leaking in. If I left the pinhole open longer, then the whole thing would have gone red, like those are about to, and everything in them would have been unrecognizable.

Not that overexposure is the only thing that makes things unrecognizable. This:

trees and chairs

and this:

chairs and trees (2)

are photos of the same grouping of chairs, from almost the same angle. The pinhole camera is not good with deep shadows any more than it is with bright light.

It's much better in bright light, as you can see from the not-overexposed part of the birdhouse above or from the photo of these frost-covered herbs:

frosted herbs

I took some pictures of them with my regular camera, for comparison:

frosted herbs (2)

frosted herbs (3)

frosted herbs (4)

And then I used the blurry, odd quality of the pinhole to get this photo from inside the rusty truck carcass in the back of the gardens:

truck windshield from inside

That's the view through the windshield, bullet holes and all.

When I ran out of film for the pinhole I took some pictures with my regular camera, too:


latticed walkway

branches and cherub

orange berries

and then headed to Walgreen's to get the film developed and to try out my new strategy for pre-empting their unwanted photography critiques.

"Hi. I'd like to drop off this film? It's from a homemade camera, and the pictures will probably be blurry and might be overexposed. Please do whatever you can, and I'll pay for the photo CD either way."

I don't know if it was the offer to pay, or the fact that I gave a whole bunch of information up front, but it actually worked. Walgreen's managed not to critique my photos.

Which is fine, since I'm doing enough of that myself.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Culinary Adventures

The other day my friend Holly asked what I'd been cooking lately.

"I feel like you're always cooking something, like something fun and different."

That's not true, really, since most of the time I'm cooking something basic, but then another friend asked why I don't write about food on here anymore, and I realized it has kind of been a while since I cooked something and wrote about it. To make up for it, here's a pair of simple things I made last week, and then we'll talk about the adventure I went on where I ate chicken.

Chicken that had a bone in it.

But first, look at these tiny mini calzones I made:

mini calzones (2)

They were stuffed with cooked, crumbled turkey bacon and crumbled blue cheese, and they were delicious and easy. You'll need:

1 8-biscuit tube of premade biscuits
Whatever filling you want to put in there

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2) Open the biscuit tube. Take out a biscuit and press it flat with your fingers so that you have a flat circle of dough.

3) Spoon filling onto half the circle. Fold the other half over, then pinch the bottom edge over the top edge all the way around. Be sure it's pinched closed all the way around, or your filling will leak out.

4) Poke holes in the top with a fork:

mini calzones (1)

5) Bake for 10-12 minutes, until they look done.

The pea and artichoke gratin I made, from a recipe in "Food Network Magazine", took a little more effort. It started with a roux, and I've mentioned in the past that I have trouble with roux, because I either have the butter too hot or I add the flour too fast, or both, but I think I've finally figured it out. When I had to add the milk, my roux was smooth and slightly yellow, like I think it's supposed to be:

pea and artichoke gratin (1)

After that I had to add the peas and artichokes:

pea and artichoke gratin (2)

and simmer for a while. If I make this again, I need to simmer a lot longer, because my sauce stayed kind of thin and didn't reduce down. The recipe in the magazine just said to simmer, and didn't say how long you should simmer for, so I kind of blame them.

The recipe also said that you should make the whole thing in an oven-proof skillet and then put it under the broiler to crisp the cheese on top, but I don't have an oven proof skillet, so I poured the gratin into a baking dish for the broiling, and it came out fine:

pea and artichoke gratin (3)

Except for the part where it was too watery, but, like I said, I can fix that by simmering longer before the broiling.

We also went out to eat this week, and that's where I had the chicken with bones in it. I've mentiond before that some foods gross me out, but I don't know if I've ever mentioned the problem I have with chicken. I don't like skin, and I don't like meat that comes with a bone in it, so normally I only eat boneless skinless chicken breasts.

This is continuously baffling to my friends:

"What about chicken wings?"

What ABOUT chicken wings? Did you not hear me? Bones! Skin! I don't eat ribs, or t-bone steaks (I don't really eat steak at all, actually), and I think I've only had a bone-in porkchop once, at a fancy restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, down the street from where I saw this horse statue in the back of a truck:


And that was in 2006.

I often say I've never eaten chicken with a bone in it, but I think I have maybe once or twice, if I was out somewhere and no other choices were available. Probably at a wedding or banquet, but it happens rarely enough that when we went out this week for Ben's birthday to Wright's Cafeteria I took a picture, mostly to prove to my mom that I really did eat chicken with skin and a bone:

bbq chicken dinner (1)

That was listed on the menu as "BBQ Chicken Breast". Clearly, that's not just a breast. There's a wing or something sticking out of the top there, and it's covered with skin under that crispy BBQ coating. They also had chicken and dumplings on the menu, and I normally would have ordered that instead, but when I leaned over the cafeteria line and smelled the BBQ I had no choice. I was compelled to order the chicken even though I could see that it was horrible and wrong and filled with bones.

And it was so good.

After I peeled off the skin and carefully dug the chicken out:

bbq chicken dinner (2)

We're not going to make a habit of this or anything, but I ate chicken on a bone, and it was good.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Office Space

As Jeannie mentioned yesterday, we opened the residence halls for spring this weekend, which means that I was in the office all day on Saturday and Sunday. If opening is going well, then things are pretty quiet up at the office, and things today didn't pick up until lunchtime.

It's kind of eerie walking around our building with no students. On regular weekends, there's usually someone else around, but classes haven't started yet so most of the professors aren't back either, and I noticed that I had the hallways completely to myself when I got hungry this morning and went to the vending machine in the basement. Intrigued by the odd sense of isolation, I took out my camera and starting snapping random photos, just to see what I would end up with.

communications basement

Have I mentioned that our building is curved? Because it is:

curved perspective

Based on these pictures it's also a little spooky in a way that I can't quite put my finger on.

vending interior

extinguisher cabinet

water fountain

going down

dead fly

rusty screws


Maybe it was just the odd and total silence, but even everyday things look strange to me in these pictures.

running water and sink

It's probably a sign that I need to get outside next weekend.