Archive for September, 2011

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dentist.

September 28, 2011

I had a dentist appointment today. It’s been too long since my last cleaning. And for some reason, I worry about having teeth problems that I don’t know about. Also, since I’m paying so much more for insurance, I figure I better get the most I can.

Speaking of which, navigating insurance is terrible. Especially since my insurance is still through Epic, but with a range of providers outside Wisconsin. So I had to do some searching to find providers that participated in my plan. Then make calls to make sure they can take my insurance. And trying to pick a doctor or dentist based off of nothing but a name and location is hard. I guess that’s where referrals come in handy.

This dentist was great. Just a quick walk from my apartment, it’s a small little office. This is a nice change. I grew up with a private practice dentist, where it was just the dentist who did everything and his receptionist. But on moving to Madison, I went to a larger dental clinic – where the hygienist cleaned my teeth and I only saw the dentist for a few minutes. So much less personal. This dentist talked me through my x-rays, explained what he was looking for. And when he found a cavity, he got out a little camera thing so that I could see what he was seeing. Side note: mouths are gross. Apparently my last dentist wasn’t so good. I’ll be going back in a couple of weeks to get some of the cavities fixed.

Fun fact: my dentist has the same last name as me!

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wallet.

September 21, 2011

Google’s released their new app Google Wallet to certain Sprint phones the other day. It seems to only work with Citi Mastercard currently or you need to use your credit card to load a pre-paid Google card.

My first thought was “Man, I HATE watching videos to explain how I would use something.” I just do not have the patience.

My second thought was “Isn’t this going to be incredibly awkward when the credit card machine/barcode scanner thing isn’t near the customer?” It’s kinda like mobile airplane tickets – which I do love. Except when it requires awkward maneuvering (aka 50% of the time). The set up at the gate is rarely convenient for me to place my own phone on the scanner. It’s set up for the gate agent to take my ticket, but she’ll never take my phone. I imagine the same awkwardness with something like Google Wallet – great for a supermarket set up, not great for a restaurant set up.

Beyond that, I don’t really have any thoughts on this yet. Even if I could pay from my phone, my wallet carries a whole lot more than just credit cards and loyalty cards. ID cards, gift cards, library card, business cards, health insurance cards, and (ever important now that I live in a bigger city) cash.

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cells.

September 19, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve written about what I’ve been reading. Partially it’s due to the fact I’m reading The Song of Ice and Fire series – or trying. I’m only part way through the second book. But I haven’t digested it enough to decide what I think yet. But I did buy and read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I’d been seeing it on a whole bunch of best seller lists and I found it pretty fascinating.

The book is about how a poor black woman’s cells, taken without permission or knowledge, have made a huge contribution to science and medicine. But it’s not just about what was done with her cells – including helping to develop the polio vaccine and gene mapping. The author – Rebecca Skloot – explores the woman’s family, her background and her story. So the book parallels what’s happening with the cells with what’s happening with the family.

I found two things most interesting. First, the inevitable issue of human subjects in medical research. As Henrietta’s cells were taken, grown and used without her knowledge, Skloot explores several topics such as informed consent, ownership of pieces of your body given more medical research, as well as sketchy experiments – like the Tuskegee syphilis study. The second thing I found interesting was how mistrustful Henrietta’s family/friends were of Johns Hopkins, and really, the medical field in general. They’re poor, mostly uneducated, and black. They didn’t understand Henrietta’s cancer, why they gave blood samples years later,  a lot of the research the cells were use in, or how to find more information. It’s a point of view that’s so different it’s hard for me to imagine.

The book was definitely worth a read.

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herbs.

September 14, 2011

With all my visits to the farmers’ markets, I’ve been on a quest to find the best way to store the herbs I buy. The number one reason I don’t buy bunches of herbs is because I know I won’t use them before they go bad. But when I see the stand and they have basil, mint, dill, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, and probably ones I have never even tried to use, I just want to buy all of them.

My staple is basil – because I think you can put it in anything. Also, I have found my favorite way to keep basil. Wash it, then put it in a glass with water covering the stems. Place a plastic bag with holes cut for air circulation over the bunch and leave it on the counter. I’ve been able to store basil for weeks this way; it even tends to flower and grow a few roots.

The same method didn’t seem to work quite as well with mint and parsley. So I asked the guy at the herb stand what he would suggest for mint and he said wash in cold water, then cover in a damp paper towel. Keep out of the fridge. This worked well for several days – but I tend to forget to dampen the paper towel, so the leaves start wilting. My back-up plan has become to chop it all up and freeze the mint into ice cubes. This would be better if I used mint in things like sauces rather than drinks.

As an aside, mint is surprisingly hard to use. Besides making mojitos or mint juleps, I really had no idea what to use mint for. Best thing I’ve found so far is to chop it up and put it together with fruit. It makes watermelon or nectarines amazing, though peaches and plums work too.

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so healthy.

September 5, 2011

Zucchini Fritters – Thanks to Dan for sending me the recipe. With zucchini as the only vegetable in my house last week, this was perfect. It was a pretty easy recipe, but it’ll take me a little bit of practice to make sure they cook evenly and don’t get too soggy. It is definitely key to wring out the zucchini – there’s a lot of water in them!

Roasted Cauliflower – I’ve never made cauliflower before. And my first though with cauliflower is cheese and cream. So this is a super simple alternative – seriously, easiest recipe ever. I was worried at first that it would be dry or boring. But roasting cauliflower actually turned out really well. I can’t wait to buy more at the farmer’s market next week.

Overnight Oats – I decided to start eating breakfast, since I’m not in any rush to leave the house in the morning. I kept seeing my blogs discuss Overnight Oats – which is essentially cold oatmeal. I figured I’d try it out (even though I’ve never been an oatmeal fan). It also takes a lot of forethought to make the night before. The basic recipe is oatmeal and milk (flavored, almond, soy, whatever) and stick it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, mix in any more additives – I use maple syrup, peanut butter, banana. You can add all sorts of stuff to make it healthier; I’ve been experimenting with wheat bran and flax seeds (though apparently flax seeds are better for you if they’re ground instead of whole).

Side note: Dan also suggested I post pictures of all this food I’m making. The only problem is that most food I make does not look that good, especially the first time. Also, because I’m usually eat it before I remember to take a picture. Which is why I link to food sites instead.

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explorer.

September 3, 2011

The boyfriend posted about Microsoft’s new Explorer design in Google+. And the only reason why I’m posting about it now is because we had completely different first impressions about it.

His first thought was that it looked ridiculous, that this couldn’t be what they’re planning on doing.

My first thought was that it now looks just like their Office products. Except it doesn’t have that Office button that no one knew what it did.

And once I had gotten used to the new Office look, it was actually pretty great. Especially since I suddenly realized how much more I could actually do in Word and Excel. Hello format painter and final without markup and conditional highlighting and smart art. Where were you hiding all my life? Yes, I’d never call myself a “power user” and probably for a significant amount of my time using these programs I never have to do any of that stuff. But the ribbon really does have the ability to highlight functionality that would otherwise be hidden. And it’s collapsible.

So while it has potential, my only thought is “how much do I really do in Explorer”. Not a lot. While in Word and Excel I really am changing things a lot, I rarely (if ever) change my view options or anything like that. And using the right-click menu has always been just fine – unlike in Word, where I had to go to the menus to find what I wanted. Weirdly, I don’t think I’ve ever used a keyboard shortcut in Explorer – I guess old habits die hard.

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shutter island.

September 1, 2011

I finally watched Shutter Island. I’d been putting it off because I thought it was going to be a scary movie. Anyway, I really liked the movie – one of the better ones I’ve seen in a long time.

***SPOILER ALERT***

Of course, the big twist at the end is one of the reasons this movie is a lot of fun. Everyone loves when movies aren’t exactly what they seem on the surface. I had heard that there was a twist – though I didn’t know what it was exactly. So while watching the movie, I came to my own conclusions about what the twist was – which was similar, but not quite.

First, I decided DiCaprio’s character was crazy almost from the very beginning. When they’re driving to the hospital, he mentions he’s seen electric fences before – which to me meant that he’d been in institutions for the insane before (this was before they showed he was in a war). His patient status was almost definitely confirmed in the scene where the patients are all talking to their doctors and he’s talking with Ben Kingsley about his missing partner. I figured he had burned down his apartment not this supposed “Laeddis”, killing his children/wife. The movie seemed to continue to give clues that DiCaprio had an inclination toward fire – the burning matches to see in Ward C, the blowing up of the car.

Essentially, I thought the whole plot was going to be that he was crazy and in this institution and everything was backwards. That the white outfits of the orderlies were really the patient outfits, that Ruffalo’s character was really just another crazy person running around with him coming up with his own paranoid conclusions – things like that.

The last thing I liked about the movie was that at the end, you can think that he’s still crazy or not. I am of the opinion that he didn’t relapse.

If you’ve seen this movie, what are your thoughts?

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