Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My first Cat Macro

Yep, even I have fallen victim to captioning cats:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cheshirekitty speaks: The summer winds down ...

Today, I saw the surest sign that the fall semester at NWMSU is approaching: the university grounds crew out on College Avenue re-stenciling the safety yellow Bearcat paws on the pavement. This yearly ritual necessarily precedes the arrival of over 5,000 students (including the biggest freshman class we've had for years) next week.

Incoming freshmen will arrive on Thursday for Advantage events, including the first Bearcat football game of the year. Their first class will be days earlier than the official August 27th start date -- they will attend Freshman Seminar on Friday, August 24th and again on the early afternoon of Sunday August 26th.

The rest of the students will meander in over the next few days. On campus, Cat CREW will help students move their belongings into the residence halls and apartments, while off-campus, other students will be finding friends and family members to help them move in. Wal-mart will be more crowded than it's been all summer.

By the time the students arrive, however, I will already have been in nearly a week's worth of meetings. My first meeting is the annual Freshman Seminar faculty/peer advisor training. I have been teaching the Family and Consumer Sciences Department's section of FS for about four years. This year, I will have 25 students -- unless, as often happens, I find three or four more new students at my classroom door, transferring into my section.

This half-day meeting will be followed by faculty development days, where my colleagues and I will meet and greet and plan departmental goals for the semester. I will give a dog-and-pony show of my powerpoint portfolio stack. (I figured that, as we pride ourselves on being the "Electronic Campus", my portfolio should be hyperlinked and burned to CD!) The College of Education and campus-wide meetings also will occur during this week. I will follow Friday's morning meetings with an entire afternoon reviewing schedules for my freshmen.

I find myself eagerly awaiting the new semester, as I do each year. To me, the academic calendar has been the only calendar that makes sense: Shouldn't the year start as the weather is cooling? Shouldn't April be pregnant with anticipation of new careers and lives launching? Shouldn't summer be a change of schedule, slower-paced to cope with the heat?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Back From KC

Got back from Kansas City this weekend; Lauren's friend Jenny and several of her friends were participating in this weekend's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 4k walk/run Downtown, and she had invited us to join their walking team, so we drove down on Saturday afternoon in order to stay overnight prior to the walk today.

Even so, we did find a few things to do yesterday. The afternoon found us at a regional cat show at the Overland Park Convention Center, where Lauren discovered a new favorite cat breed, and we kinda confirmed that one of our cats has some Maine Coon in her background. Afterwards, we stopped off at Oak Park Mall for a little shopping, including a small visit to the local Godiva chocolatier.

We then made our way over to Cho Ga, a Korean restaurant in Overland Park that we had been wanting to try since it opened earlier this summer. The last time we had Korean food was at a small place in Des Moines back in early 2006 (the former Ariang over on Douglas Avenue up in Des Moines, which reopened as Teriyaki House before the place, sadly, closed for good last year), so we were eager to try out a new venue.

Cho Ga

Lauren commented that the menu was the "most traditional for a Korean place she had ever seen", but we all enjoyed the selections we picked. Both Jenny's younger sister Beth, who was in town following an Americorps stint down South, and I had bulgogi (grilled, seasoned, and shredded beef roundeye and veggies done on a small grill) with chapchae (long cellophane noodle) and served with lettuce for wrapping the meat and steamed rice for a side, while Lauren managed to talk Jenny into trying the bibimbap (ground meat or seafood with veggies served in rice and served in a super-heated stoneware pot, with an egg cracked over the rice). Bibimbap presented this way is served hot enough that the egg cooks as it mixes into the rest of the ingredients, leaving the dish rather crunchy in texture. The sides (which we were given plenty of) were also quite varied and flavorful, ranging from onion cakes, to pickled daikon radish in spicy chili sauce, to bean sprouts, to kimchi, to an interesting apple with mayo salad.

The Walk

We left Jenny's condo early on Sunday morning, in order to make it to Union Station by around 7ish and find a parking spot. At Union Station, we were joined by some of the other members of Jenny's walking team and over 20,000 other walkers and runners.

After checking out the various vendors, we went to the starting line near the Block fountain in front of Union Station. There, the "race" started, with the runners starting first, followed by the walkers. It was quite an amazing sight, seeing the street ahead of you packed from one side to the other with people, and the crowd stretching for several blocks ahead and behind.

Afterward, we checked out the sponsor and vendor tents (including the one from Energizer), but because the heat by then was getting into the danger zone (up to 101 degrees), we adjourned indoors to Union Station for drinks and some some air-conditioned rest before heading to the car.


After the race, Jenny and Beth had some errands to run at Wal-Mart, so they dropped us off at Jenny's condo in Blue Springs. After a nap for Lauren and some light reading for me, they returned from Wal-Mart, and we set off for Bollywood, a roughly year-old Indian restaurant that features a big-screen TV continually showing Bollywood Indian movies (so named because of their lavish production and dance numbers). We were pleasantly surprised that afternoon to discover that they have started offering an inexpensive (but very good) lunch buffet on the weekends, so we were able to indulge in a lot of our favorite curries, kebabs, vegetarian-only dishes, their garlic and herb naan, and desserts such as carrot halvah without hitting the pocketbook too hard.

Overall, we had a great weekend and we managed to avoid the worst of the heat as well, so it was well worth it, and now that we're home, it looks like we've got another good shot at some rain this evening.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

We're Still Here, Honestly

It's almost 9 PM today, and it's still 82 degrees, down from 90. And it will be hotter tomorrow. Not much to do but ...

1. Read about the storms of the last two days. We got 5 inches of rain in about 36 hours, wind that took down tree limbs and the steeple of the Presbyterian Church, and thunder/lightning.
2. Roast coffee beans at home. I just got my shipment of beans from Sweet Maria's, and have roasted and cupped (that's roaster lingo for tasting) two out of the three beans I bought:

Ethiopian Kochere District Yirgacheffe: Roasted to City Roast; perhaps could have roasted it a bit darker. Tastes citrusy and lively; I could drink this all summer!

Costa Rican Tarrazu La Minita: Roasted again to barely City Roast; I am trying to get the hang of home-roasting. I thought this was mild, almost too mild, but I did get a hint of apples and an aftertaste that was a little dark.

How am I roasting coffee at home? you might ask. Strangely enough, you can roast enough beans for one cup at a time in the right kind of air popper . The average air popper takes on enough berries for a good cup of freshly-brewed coffee using a Senseo machine and either Eco Pads or the Presto MyPod .

Talk about fresh coffee! This is some of the most unbelieveable stuff I've ever tasted. It's more like drinking wine -- the nuances of flavor are amazing, even with cream and sweetener (as I am prone to drinking coffee). I would like to try the third coffee I bought -- Rwandan Butare Bourbon -- but, umm, I need to sleep tonight!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

We're Not Missing ... Really We're Not

Hi all,

I know we're a bit behind on regular postings, but that's because there isn't that much going on with us right now. We're staying in from the heat, and our normal walking schedule has been curtailed a bit because of it, but we're doing our best to stay indoors and keep cool. It's not anywhere as bad as it was last summer (when we were staying indoors due to the extended 100 degree days), but it's still bad enough to discourage going outdoors for any length of time. We're hoping that it a)cools down, and b)finally manages to rain here. It seems like in the last couple of weeks that any rain we've promised by the forecasters either goes north of us up into Iowa, or south of us, between St. Joe and Kansas City. We are hoping that the forecasters are correct about the next few days.

It's just as well; Lauren's in academic mode, doing syllabi's, setting up schedules in Outlook, and getting ready for the coming semester, which starts in two weeks (we just did the annual "clean the office" ritual earlier this afternoon). At the moment, she's indulging in her love of all things coffee; our regular coffee grinder died last weekend, so Friday night at Sams, we picked up a Cuisinart Burr grinder they had on the clearance rack for $30.00. Now that we have something which can do fresh-ground coffee en mass, she's looking at what it takes to home roast coffee beans.

Meanwhile, everything is quiet in town; with the college between semesters, there isn't much activity apart from the few students who are arriving early to move and get settled in.

Things will pick up later on, with a couple of road trips to Kansas City for the Race for the Cure 4k run/walk (we're walking, obviously), and later in September, we're hoping to do a couple of trips down to the KC RenFaire: one to see our fellow church-goers Channing and Louise Horner participate in a Renaissance music quartet (they both play recorder), and the other, a meet-up with Micah (and hopefully his family, too).

It doesn't look like we're going to get up to Des Moines for the State Fair this year, but we hope to get up to there on some weekend this Fall to visit, do some shopping, and also indulge in some of our favorite restaurants (Adong and possibly Cookry over by the Drake area on the way out of town).