Thursday, April 14, 2005


Furniture Math

So, my wife and I have been shopping for some new furniture, because the grad student press board stuff is starting to sag and crack.

Buying room sets seems to be the way to go, because you wind up saving a couple of hundred bucks or more when you buy the furniture in a set. Plus then it all matches, unlike the furniture we ave currently, including the K-Mart entertainment center and the Wal-Mart coffee and end tables.

Anyway, we're looking at both living room and bedroom sets, though the bedroom will likely have to wait until 2006.

But I find that furniture stores have a great deal of difficulty counting the number of pieces in their sets.

For example, a bed, two end tables and a dresser is a seven-piece set. Apparently, the way this works is that the bed is actually three separate pieces of furniture: the headboard, the footboard (if that's what it's called), and the rails. I'm not sure how that works, exactly, since you need all of the pieces to complete the square in which the mattress rests. Nevertheless, these are three separate pieces, though I can't imagine anyone coming in and buying just a footboard. Or perhaps just the rails.

Also, I was surprised to learn that not only does an ottoman count as a separate piece of furniture, but that an ottoman often costs only $50-$100 less than the chair it "comes with." $350 for a square thing with fabric on it seems a bit excessive.

I'm waiting to hear about the fifteen-piece bedroom set: six drawers in the dresser, one in each of the end tables.

I can remember furniture shopping with my parents when I was a kid--I don't remember this kind of B.S. When did it start?

Friday, April 08, 2005


Friday Morning Blogging

The original title of this post was "Wednesday Blogging." Then it was "Thursday Blogging." But, since I've been getting "page has no data" or some such message from Blogger for the last couple of days, either when trying to just get into the dashboard or when I tried to hit "publish post," it's now "Friday Morning Blogging." Blogger needs to get its act together.

So, not a whole lot to report, but as it's now been a week since my last blog (hmm, how Catholic that syntax was--I feel like I'm in the confessional), I figured I should post something.

The problems at my institution that I've outlined in the last couple of blogs remain, though I was able to achieve an extremely minor victory in the curriculum department though persistence and a great deal of backroom dealing with fellow department members.

Also, I have learned of an unexpected ally in the fight against our freshman indoctrination course, someone I was certain was completely in favor of what the university is doing. This doesn't mean anything is going to change in the near future, but if we can become a somewhat more organized underground, perhaps little changes here and there will eventually amount to something.

I've also had several student visits over the last couple of weeks, I suppose because of the stance I've aken on various issues in my courses regarding standards and the need to assign works that are more open to interpretation than the ones we generally ask students to read, and am finding that there is a great deal of discontent amongst our students. They feel unchallenged, for one thing, and they feel that their professors are using their classes to pursue ideological goals, rather than using them to make certain students are adequately trained in their chosen fields and exposed to the knowledge necessary to making their degrees worth more than the paper they are printed on. This is particularly true of those who have attempted the GRE and are finding that a curriculum heavy in twentieth-century ethnic American literature (with the earlier periods in American literature being represented heavily by slave narratives) and which emphasizes "Anglophone" literature instead of British literature is not serving them well on the subject test.

So I'm doing everything I can to foment small revolutions here and there.

On the other hand, I had a bit of a row with one of the radical feminists, though I don't think it was serious enough to jeopardize my position here. Of course, you never know, but she was cordial enough to me the day after, so it's possible we kept the difference of opinion at the level of the profession and not the personal. Time will tell.

In the end, a bit of hope. Suggestions for successful fifth column activities are welcome.

Friday, April 01, 2005


Blueberry Drops

The blueberry drop recipe gets its own post, because, as J points out in the comments below, this is really the most important thing discussed in my post below.

Basically, it's just a variation on a lemon drop. The trick is to find good blueberry juice. We've been using a brand called Wyman's that we picked up at CostCo--two 64 ounce bottles for six bucks, which is a damned sight cheaper than Knudsen's juices.

If you can't find Wyman's, then check the ingredients label. It's never 100% blueberry juice, of course, but the level of blueberry taste varies greatly. I've found that if apple juice is listed too high on the ingredients, the taste of apple has a drastic effect on the taste of blueberry. In the Wyman's, the ingredients are blueberry juice, grape juice, and then apple juice.

Anything that doesn't have blueberry juice as the first ingredient will likely not have a strong blueberry flavor.

That said, the drink is simple. 3 ounces of vodka (we've been using Svedka lately--Wine and Spirits gave it a 93, and you can pick up a 1.75 liter bottle for under $20). One ounce of blueberry juice, and one ounce of simple syrup (which is simply equal parts water and sugar dissolved over a low heat--make a couple of cups worth and store in the refridgerator, as it's excellent for iced coffee drinks). Shake well with ice. If you use a blender, please don't tell me about it, as I can't really be friends with people who make drinks in a blender.

You can adjust as your taste dictates. I usually do 4 ounces of vodka, 1 1/2 ounces of blueberry juice, and 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.

I also created one variant, which is to pour the 4 ounce version into a tall glass and fill with club soda--basically a vodka collins with blueberry juice instead of lemon juice.

When blueberries come into season again, I'm going to make a batch of blueberry liqueur and see how that mixes with the vodka. I made some cranberry liqueur a couple of summers ago, and I've been using that instead of cranberry juice in Cosmos for a little extra kick.

Anyway, I think you could use any fruit juice as a variant in this recipe. A company called Pom has marketed a series of pomegranate juices and pomegranate juice blends. These might be interesting. I also used freshly squeezed grapefruit juice to make a grapefruit drop. That one was tricky--I had to add a lot of grapefruit juice to get the flavor correct, and of course it needed more syrup to offset the bitterness of the grapefruit. Next time I may try some grapefruit infused vodka, and see how that works.

Hmm. Maybe I should start a bartending blog. This was so much more enjoyable to discuss than literature and politics . . .

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