Monday, September 22, 2008

Bikes and Tires and Bears, Oh My!

When I was a grad student in Knoxville, I used to ride my mountain bike around Cades Cove, an 11-mile paved loop in the Smokies. One very early morning -- so early that the mist that the Smokies are named for was still hanging everywhere -- I came over a small rise, and saw a big bear lumbering across the road in front of me. My first thought? "Cool! I get to ride by a bear!" My second thought? "Yah, NO!!!" I stopped in my tracks and waited for her to cross the road, which she did after very lazily sniffing the air in my direction. The next weekend, I rode with a friend around the Cove much later in the day, and we saw three baby bears way up high in some trees. I've always thought they were her cubs.

This story reminded me of that ... but this rider's experience was quite a bit different than mine ...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Chocolate Let-Down

Last week, my friend Carla sent me an e-mail with the subject line "The Most Dangerous Cake Recipe in the World." The recipe was for a 5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake, and essentially you put all the ingredients in a coffee mug, stir them thoroughly, and then nuke them in the microwave for three minutes. Why the most dangerous recipe? "Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake!"

Well, I tried it tonight after roommate Katie and I ate some great chicken enchiladas. It was exciting ... the thought that you could eat an ooey-gooey-hot-and-yummy chocolate cake in a cup with roughly five minutes prep was very enticing. And we were giddy like kids watching it cook (don't worry, Mom, microwave ovens don't put out waves that'll make me sterile anymore -- I don't think), as it went way above the rim of the mug, but then sunk back down as soon as the door was opened.

Alas, though, it seems that good quality still can't be had with so little work and time ... it tasted a bit rubbery. But the vanilla ice cream alongside was darned tasty!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Want to Marry Jon Stewart

Yet more apologies to my republican friends and fam, but this excerpt from The Daily Show on Sarah Palin is roll-on-the-ground funny.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Friends and Fam at the 50th

I'm a bit too lazy right now to write anything particularly creative, but thought I'd put up some more pics from Mom and Pop's Surprise Golden Anniversary Party. Gary sent me pics from our Fishin' Mission boys, so I still need to put those up, but the majority here are ones I took of friends at the party. Names are all left to right.

Kim Yost, her dad Don Newsome, husband Roger, and stepmom, Jenny. Went to high school with Kim ... and so did Roger, but that's another story. Jenny is very, very special to me, as her first husband, John, was my Little League coach and he passed away when I was 12. They were like second parents to me, and their sons, like brothers. I just love 'em all -- even the step-Newsomes!
Jeff and Arleen Mills. Arleen and I grew up together, and we have some crazy stories. I have vague memories of bonfires, sagebrush, and beer in high school ... She is the one who made the body-licious cakes for the party. She and Jeff own Hays Street Cafe in B-port -- best breakfast around! It's become tradition to eat with family and friends there on my last morning before leaving.
Big brother Bill, Shirley and Myron Schlaegel. The Schlaegels are also very special to me, and I have great memories of growing up with their daughters and son and spending tons of time with them camping as well as spending Christmas Eve together. Shirley is one tough cookie, as she has just finished her last chemo for pancreatic cancer (I think that's the type of cancer) -- and she's cancer-free!!!
Big Steve and Kathy surfing at the party. Kathy works with Missy at the bank and along with two other co-worker friends, Roxanne and Jan, helped us with food by bringing big salads that were dee-licious!
Dad and friend of just under 50 years, Willard. Will and wife Joanne are also like parents to me, as our families grew up together. Dad and Will went on the CHP together before I was born, and even though we only lived in the same city -- Ventura -- until I was 2, we almost annually spent family vacations with them. Bill, Jim, and I also lived with them when we each first started college. They lived very near Ventura College, so we all started our college careers there. They have six kids -- five girls and a boy -- and the youngest, Sara, and the boy (well, man), Don, also came to the party. Very, very cool, and very special to Mom and Pop. Will and Joanne came all the way from Fruita, Colorado.
Can't forget the Missionaries! Toni, me, and Gary. Two other Fishin' Mission boys joined us -- Carm and Jim, but somehow we failed to get a pic of all four of them. Duh.
Joanne and Mom ... longtime friends reunited. Joanne and Willard wrote me an e-mail after the party, and while they said they really enjoyed the party, they said their favorite part of the trip was spending the next evening having dinner with just my parents at Mom and Dad's house. Pretty sweet.

And the fam just as the sun was setting right after Bill, Jim, and I gave the toast.
Jim, Lacey, Missy (and, yes, their clothes match ... Jim swears it'll be the ONLY time he'll allow this), Mom, Dad, Abbey, me, Cathy, Alyssa, Bill, and Emma.
50 years of "Happily Ever After," and counting.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sofie's Three!

I'm living with friend and colleague, Katie, here in Fresno, and her four daughters (yes, four ... that's not a type-o). The youngest, Sofie, turned 3 earlier this week when she was at her dad's, so we celebrated her birthday with some friends today. She gave it her all at the pinata.But I think that the Tres Leche cake that her amazing nanny, Anna, and her family brought for Sofie was her favorite!
Happy Birthday, Sofie!

Beijing's Got Nothin' On CAST

At Fresno State, I teach Child Development in the Department of Child, Family, and Consumer Sciences (CFCS), which is in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (CAST). Got all that?! Classes started two weeks ago, and Friday, CAST sponsored a "Welcome Back" BBQ for faculty, staff, and students that included a little healthy competition in the form of CAST Olympics. In my absence last year, my department came in third with one team of faculty, so this year, we wanted to up the ante, and recruited some students to compete with us -- and we ended up with enough for two teams. This is my team: (back, l to r) Alma (lecturer), Sean (assistant prof), Cheryl (administrative assistant), Noah (student assistant), Tommy (boyfriend to one of my students), Eboney (my student, and Tommy's girlfriend); (front, l to r) Marianne (associate prof and department chair), me, Anna (my student), and Lizhu (assistant prof).Ten teams competed and rotated through events that represented each of the seven departments in the college. There were four preliminary events, and the top three teams went on to the "medal round" that included the final three events. The first event represented the Consumer Sciences part of our department, and was a "Price is Right" challenge. We had to list five items (tuna, Minute Rice, Rice A Roni, Joy dishwashing detergent, and Ragu), cheapest to most expensive, and our team struggled a bit ... we only earned one point for one right!!! And in the process, we found out that the students know way better places to grocery shop than the faculty, as they thought everything was way cheaper than we did.
In the second event, which I'm assuming represented Ag Econ, we had to measure five different items (a basketball hoop, a stapler, a water bottle, a chair, and something I've forgotten), draw a graph of their lengths/heights, and then calculate the mean, median, and mode. Uhhhh ... mode? Most of us knew what mean and median were, but what the hell is mode? Thankfully Sean knew, and we did pretty well, I think.
Here, seven of our 10-person team waited in line (I'm there, but you can only see my foot) for the beginning of the third event which represented Plant Science. We had to push a small watermelon with our faces or heads across the grass to a line and then back in a relay. I had flashbacks to high school when, as freshmen, we had to push peanuts across the gym floor with our noses. This time, though, I got grass stains and watermelon juice on my knees!
Yup ... that's me in all my glory. The important thing to note here -- besides my nice ass -- is that I'm making the turn before Gary, who you can see in the background to the right. He was on the other team from my department -- the enemy!!!
I didn't compete in the last preliminary event because it required a strong back -- carrying hay bales across the grass and stacking them in a specific area. Our team did great and my job was to cheer, thank goodness. I think this event represented Animal Science.
Uh, neither of our teams made it to the finals, so we missed out on cake decorating while blindfolded (Food Science and Nutrition) and a relay that involved a big vat of wine (ok, just kool-aid that was supposed to be wine) where teams had to take turns running with a wine-soaked sponge to a bucket to fill it up. These occurred during dinner (the prelims were before dinner), so I think I was in the ice cream line when they did the third event, and I completely missed it (hey, it's from the Farm Market on campus, and it's the best!). Ah, well!

The Olympics were fun, but dinner was dee-lish, and our dean, Charles Boyer, was the head BBQ dude. The students made his apron for him, and I'm guessing they also made him wear the hat.
Our associate dean, Sandy Witte, was the referee for the Games ...
... and the students designed her uniform with some nice bling.
Oh, yah ... and our team's name, courtesy of Alma? "The Young and the Rest of Us." Students and faculty -- ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Vols and 'Dogs

College football season opened this past weekend, and my Tennessee Vols played UCLA's Bruins in sunny Southern Cali. The Fishin' Mission's Commish, Gary, is a UCLA fan (don't hold it against him ... I don't), and joined some other Missionaries and friends at the game. I was invited, but, alas, it was Monday NIGHT -- what's up with that?!! -- and I couldn't make the drive to and from LA in time to work on Tuesday morning. But perhaps it was a good thing, as the Bruins (gulp!) beat my Vols in overtime!!! Good sport that he is, though, Gary posed all friendly-like with an enthusiastic Vol fan. Or is that Daniel Boone? ... Next year there will be a rematch in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, a stadium that holds 106,000+ ... yah, we'll see who wins that one!!!

The opener wasn't a total loss, though ... my 'Dogs (Fresno State, that is) trounced Rutgers back in New Joisey. GO 'DOGS!!!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Went to Bridgeport this weekend for Founder's Day, a celebration of the area's rich history (gold mining, cowboys and all that stuff) that was started a few year's ago. I'd never been, and wanted to see what it was like. The highlight? A Team Branding at the rodeo grounds on Saturday morning. I went with Missy and Lacey, and Missy got some pretty good shots of some of our friends competing -- like husband and wife team, Marcus and Kim, in the next few shots. Can't beat the scenery either.
In addition to some husband-and-wife teams, there were also whole families -- below are husband and wife, Todd and Ally, and their daughter, Josie.
Lacey's not ropin' yet, but she had fun watching with Mom ...

Good stuff. Shit howdy.