Welcome to Flora's occasional cooking blog. Most of my journal is friends-only. The public portion is mostly a way to share recipes (or cooking misadventures), along with "ooh, shiny, must share!" (mostly SCA) stuff.
If you're looking for my India travels, see the public blog on DreamWidth at http://flora.dreamwidth.org .
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- Current Mood:reserved
It's currently a Microsoft / Active Directory environment, though we're moving toward more open-source.
Reason for the opening: The current person decided he couldn't take the traffic anymore. He's moving to California in early March, so we're scrambling for a replacement. We're at the Courthouse metro stop on the Orange line.
I'm happy to pass along resumes. Please drop a line here if you are interested, email me directly, or contact via LJ.
Feel free to share with others.
- Current Mood: okay
The US Access Board (the agency writing this) is especially looking for ideas on making government websites accessible to people with cognitive disabilities. They also want input on what should and should not be reasonable exceptions to the law.
The ADA revision is very short, but far-reaching. A new section now covers walk-up kiosk interfaces, not just ATMs. For example, if you've ever ordered food in a restaurant or cafeteria using a touch-screen, the new ADA law would apply there.
The first public comment period ends today (Monday) June 21 at midnight Eastern time.
Draft Regulations for comment:
- Current Mood: determined
Java Developer, Stafford VA - My company is hiring for a lead developer position. It needs experience in software development, and able to get a Secret clearance.
Proposal/Technical writer - A friend from the DC area is looking. I don't know the exact location but she really likes her company; they do sustainability/engineering work. I will be happy to put you in contact with her.
You can send me a message via LJ or respond on this comment with your email address. All comments are screened.
- Current Location:Greater Washington DC area, Stafford VA, Arlington VA
- Current Mood: cheerful
Five million people named Patel came together for a six-day festival at the nearby temple and town of Unjha. We joined them in celebrating Patel progress and culture.
Every few decades, the Patidar caste has a huge gathering. The last one was in 1976. Patels are historically businessmen and farmers. In Gujarat, well over half the population are members of the various Patel sub-castes. The festival helps raise money for various educational foundations. But mainly, it's about religion and Patel pride.
Seven of us--Hiren and Chandrika and their kids--piled into Alkesh's car and braved the crazy traffic around the fair. Dozens of jam-packed buses zoomed around us, shuttling people back and forth from the surrunding towns. Many additional people rode on the roofs of the buses, holding on and cheering. The festival-goers needed all the transportation they could get; most people here don't have private cars. Those people who are lucky enough to own their own vehicles usually have motorcycles instead. The parking lots were filled with motorbikes as far as we could see; Michael said the number of motorcycles was more than the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in North Dakota. Alkesh parked in one of the relatively few automobile lots and we joined the throngs of people.
The sheer numbers were daunting, but the festival had good logistical management. Barriers herded people into queues, with artfully decorated solid walls to stop people ducking under. Brightly colored cloth covered the ground everywhere, keeping the dust down. For once, manure was not a problem; guards and fences kept the cows out of the main areas. Litter control was rather lacking, however. We shuffled our way through mini-snowdrifts of discarded plastic cups around the overflowing dust-bins.
Superficially, the festival is similar to a big state fair. There's a combination of amusement-park rides and educational exhibitions. There's also a lot of shopping; all the various industries are represented. Everyone who is anyone is there. So Toyota and Tata motors showed off their gleaming new cars. Energy companies displayed new CFL light-bulbs. We even saw a vendor selling cotton candy (pure-veg, of course). I wanted to see the agricultural exhibits, but it was late and most of the exhibits had closed. One of the few open booths was sponsoring a campaign against the worldwide eating of beef. They tried to single us out and ask us to sign a petition. We declined.
Unlike US fairs, this festival had a very strong underlying religious aspect. The temple at the center of the fair is a major part of the devotions. Chandrika, Hiren's wife, had joined the tens of thousands who walked 25 kilometers to the temple at Unjha, leaving at moonrise and arriving in the early morning.
A series of life-size dioramas and paintings showed how Patels had progressed through the centuries, from small farming villages to modern times. Mixing history with religion, many scenes showed scenes from the Mahabharata and (I think) how Lord Krishna had ridden down from heaven on an elephant and blessed the Patel clan. With the gods' help, the farmers evolved, using better technology, and Patels moved into other industries. The last panel featured the modern, global Patel businessman, standing by the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower to symbolize the worldwide Indian disapora.
Our favorite part was a display of old black-and-white photographs. They showed historic Gujarati life in villages, with traditional farming methods and ethnic costumes. We couldn't read the dates, but it was nice to see those windows into Gujarat's past. That was a very small part of the festival. The recurring theme showed the past as an afterthought, to contrast with how far they've come and how modern they are now. America is such a young country; we have so little history when compared to India. It's great that Indians are proud of their progress, but they have such a rich heritage, too.
(Cross-posted from my DreamWidth account, http://flora.dreamwidth.org )
- Current Location:Unjha, Gujarat, India
- Current Mood:crowded
We explored the sights, smells, touches, and tastes of Pondicherry--with other Americans! The Fulbright conference wisely gave us some free time in the evenings. We spent some of the time with another Computer Science lecturer, Clif, and Clif's family--his wife Lane, and their two children. It was delightful to get to know them. We had an early dinner together with them at a delicious, Italian-style wood fired pizzeria (justly recommended by their guidebook). We tasted real cheese pizza with tangy tomato sauce and Italian spices. Lane and I commiserated with each other. Lane isn't working; she's been busy being a mom and studying a bit of programming. Their family had originally thought of applying for South Korea, but they're managing okay in Kerala. They're also in an urban area, so it's a bit more exciting there than in rural Gujarat.
Pondicherry was French colonial, unlike most of the rest of India which was British. The street signs are still bilingual, in French and Tamil. There are little touches of France here and there, like the painted ceramic tiles giving address numbers. The people are definitely Indian though.
We strolled along the promenade, by the rocky beach on the Indian ocean. On the beach, I made out with a parrot.
Michael and I also embraced an elephant. The major Hindu temple there has its own elephant. People buy the elephant grass or a length of sugar-cane and feed it, and the elephant blesses them in return by tapping them on the head with its trunk. Lane and Clif had been the night before, and they watched our bags while we fed the elephant. It grabbed the food straight out of our hands; I don't think it actually patted our heads, but we definitely patted it. The prehensile trunk is surprisingly strong and muscular. It snatched the food before we could get many pictures. It was friendly, though, so I hugged its legs: sort of like a big, dry, rubbery tree trunk.
On Wednesday, we toured the large fish-market and flower-market. The fish market smells of fresh fish. Unlike Visnagar's open-air markets, the Pondicherry bazaar is indoors and open well past sunset. We ducked in between a couple shops, and found ourselves in a warren of little market-stalls underneath the buildings. The area is well-illuminated with big fluorescent lights. Our new friend, Lane, had been there the night before. She navigated us through the maze of sellers with ease, steering her children (and us) in the right direction. There were women hacking heads off fresh fish, merchants and carts with vegetable-wallahs, and smaller shops selling kids clothing or saris. There were more vendors in a single room in that market than the whole street full of vegetable-sellers in Visnagar. And that wasn't the half of it.\
- Current Location:Puducherry, Pondicherry
- Current Mood: happy
We'd booked a custom tour package through Ebenezer Holiday. I would highly recommend them to anyone traveling through South India. Everything was prepaid and ready for us in advance. The travel agent personally picked us up at the airport, with his driver. The car was clean and had working safety belts, even in the back seat--the first car in India we've seen with all seat belts working!
The first day was sightseeing around Cochin, a port city. The Chinese fishing nets were very interesting, and surrounded by flotsam.
We saw the seventeenth-century Dutch church. About one-third of the population of Kerala is Christian, especially Roman Catholic. Michael, dressed in his all-white kurta lungi, could even pass for a priest (one shopkeeper thought he was "a Father.")
We also stopped by the local Jewish cemetery and synagogue in "Jew-Town," now an antiques district. The merchants lining the street to the synagogue were on the lookout for rich tourists. We had to shoo them away constantly. We decided we didn't want to go back for Shabbat services. We had a fantastic dinner at the Grand Hotel instead--delicious fish and chicken.
The next day, we traveled up to the Kerala backwaters. There are dozens of converted rice barges that now act as luxurious houseboats. We scrambled up the gangplank and spent a leisurely afternoon boating down the river, through palm tree forests and dense floating knots of water hyacinths. We floated past muddy green fields of rice paddies, which oddly enough are lower than the water level. Our boat pulled over to a local fisherwoman's hut, and we bought some fish and giant prawns for dinner. We watched the birds swooping around, and the occasional boat-bus or boat-schoolbus zipping by. The local people waved at us as they looked up from scrubbing their laundry or bathing in the river. No nudity inhibitions there.
For the afternoon, the boat pulled over and we relaxed. We dined on succulent ginger-curried fish for lunch, served on banana leaves, of course. There was a several-hour break for the crew's lunch break. Michael lounged around and studied Hindi vocabulary, comfortable in his traditional South Indian blue-checked lungi. My husband is so handsome when he dresses up Indian! I took a little nap. It was so peaceful.
There were many birds, swooping everywhere--and I mean everywhere! The numerous crows have adapted to living with the people; they followed the women around to filch food scraps from their dishwater. Three crows even invited themselves to our breakfast the next morning, swooping in as soon as we stood up, and grabbing the toast and eggs while they were still warm. There were plenty of semi-wild ducks and domestic chickens too. We also saw a kingfisher perching and diving into the water, and some other seabirds that might be terns. I heard lots of frogs, too--bullfrogs, even--but I didn't see them.
Dinner was challenging. After a picture-perfect sunset, the crew lowered the thick liners to shut the windows (never mind the wide-open doorways). Michael noticed a little gecko snapping up clouds of flies next to the overhead lights. On closer look, he saw they were mosquitoes. Thousands of mosquitoes. We don't want to get malaria; however, we didn't want to stink up our bedroom with curry either. At first I tried duct-taping our mosquito netting to the boat's ceiling, but it was dusty and the tape wouldn't stick. So I grabbed a couple of the chairs and set them up on the table, then draped our mosquito netting over them to form a canopy. So under our improvised mosquito-tent, we ate our dinner in the main cabin of the boat. They cooked us some delicious prawns in a curry coconut sauce. We retired to our well-sealed bedroom. The air conditioner drowned out the night noises, but the tightly-shut windows kept out the mosquitoes.
The next day, we traveled up to Wayanad, Kerala. We passed through tea plantations, and spent the night in the Green Gates Hotel. Rather, we slept in a bamboo treehouse made into a hotel room. Green Gates was by far the cleanest, most comfortable room out of all the hotels we have ever stayed in throughout India. Never mind that we could see through the cracks between the floorboards to the ground far below; that treehouse was a two-story luxury hotel room, with hot water and a comfy down comforter. After a tasty dinner, we snuggled in for a comfortable night's sleep. (Cross-posted from my DreamWidth account, http://flora.dreamwidth.org )
- Current Location:backwaters, wynadot, kerala, india
- Current Mood: cheerful
We left very late. Kutch is a five hour drive from our home in north Gujarat. We planned to leave at 8 in the morning. Our driver came by 9. However, his jeep was out of town; it didn't arrive until after 10:30. We ended up leaving at 11. We submitted a ShmooCon abstract to fill the time.
The Great Rann of Kuch looks exactly like a frozen Great Lake in the midwestern USA. But it's *salt*, not snow. This was a great, shallow sea as recently as the time of Alexander the Great. Even now, when it rains in monsoon season, the sea briefly returns and fills with shrimp. Flamingos flock here by the thousands for the shrimp feast, turning pink from the shells. But in the dry winter months, when we visited, the Great Rann is a silent, barren landscape of solid white. Neither plants nor animals nor people live there. We saw only a handful of vehicles - mostly construction equipment. And mostly heading the other way. There aren't any gas stations out there; people mostly use camels or the rare, precious tractor.
If you've ever walked on a snow-covered lake, you have an idea of what Kutch is like. When Lake Michigan freezes over, it's a vast expanse of flat, sparkling white stretching beyond the horizon. Not completely flat; the wind sculpts the snowdrifts into long, horizontal white dunes. With sun or freezing rain, the formations develop a hard, brittle crust that crunches underfoot. Walking on the crust makes footprint craters that break through to the soft snow below. Now imagine that same landscape, but with a 90-degree temperature and absolute still silence. Add a briny ocean smell, and substitute salt for snow. That's Kutch.
We stopped the car and walked on the salt plains. The surface cracked under our feet exactly like frozen snow. We broke off a little bit of the crust and tasted it; natural sea salt. I stayed near the relative stability of the road.
We needed the jeep. The sturdy, national highway ended 40 kilometers before Dholavira. The Indian Government was actively doing construction on the lengths on over the salt flats, with a strangely solid, single raised bed. On land, it was another story. We took two hours to travel the last 40 kilometers. After an hour of barely-road travel, our driver suddenly realized he'd passed the last gas station for 200 kilometers and we wouldn't have enough to get back. So he stopped at one of the villages and they poured a can of diesel fuel into the jeep. Whew!
We finally pulled into the Harrapan ruins at about 4:30, the only car in the parking lot. A handful of workers were still sifting through the archeological site with drum-shaped screens. Other workers were coating the ancient bricks with a slurry of cow manure and mud. There are huge, elaborate systems of reservoirs created to capture the monsoon rains for use in the dry seasons. Photography was prohibited, since it's an active archeological site.
There's a tiny, year-old museum there too. The workers followed around us, switching on and off the displays of the millenia-old artifacts. They have found many toys, including carved marble chessmen-like figures and toy carts; pottery; stone and shell beads; and beautifully detailed seals for stamping designs into wax. The seals included several intricate, recognizable designs startling in their lifelike quality. Several seals showed a multi-headed water buffalo--like a bovine Cerberus. Their mundane, single-headed buffalo are today outnumbered by camels and goats in this part of India. The climate changed, and the area became deserted. (Cross-posted from my DreamWidth account, http://flora.dreamwidth.org )
- Current Location:Dholovira, Great Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India
- Current Mood: calm
We first went to a salwar kameez shop. The salwar kameez is a very common outfit worn by South Asian women. It has three parts. The salwar is a loose-fitting gathered pants. The kameez is a short tunic that has a solid shirt-like body to the waist, then the panels divide at the hips to allow free movement. It's normally topped with a dupatta, a long scarf draped around the neck. Salwar Kameez outfits are more common than saris for northern Indian everyday wear, but they're common throughout India and Pakistan. The female faculty at the engineering school wear salwar kameezes, and so do the female students when they're not in jeans and T-shirts. I frequently see girls in salwar kameez school uniforms too.
Indian women love decoration and bling; my tastes are simpler. The salwar kameezes in the shop were all super-fancy by American standards. They were all spangled with sequins and/or heavily embroidered. I asked repeatedly and finally they found a few that weren't too gaudy for my tastes. One is turquoise with embroidered fabric. Another is a light peach-pink with white embroidery all over ("chikan work"). A third is a simple weave, possibly handloom. It has a dark pink over blue, embroidered with gold and blue accents of stylized flowers.
The salwar kameez tailor took my measurements. The end result was disappointing. I bought mine made-to-order instead of ready-made. They were cut too small in the bust, especially after they were washed once and shrank in the hospital laundry's heat. (Laundry here is piled together in a tub and boiled, then hung on a clothesline.) Chandrika and I found another tailor a week later and we got them altered. I wanted some saris too, but it was getting late and Michael also wanted some Indian attire.
Michael first tried a dhoti. My sweetie sweats, and he's had a lot of trouble with restless legs here. He's been literally itching to get out of his standard khaki pants, which are much too hot for him in this heat. He first wanted to try the dhoti, the traditional, wrapped white loincloth/toga-like garment Gandhi made famous. Nowadays in North Gujarat, dhotis are mainly worn by retirement-age people; the younger generation wears jeans or trousers. The tailor, who was our age, called in an expert who was walking down the street in a dhoti. He tried to teach Michael how to wrap it. Turns out it's a complicated wrap, going between the legs. Michael said later the shape made him feel like he was wearing a big diaper. So the dhoti wasn't good.
Michael had much better luck with a lungi. Lungis are long sarongs, like a long, plain wraparound skirt. Unlike a skirt, they're straight tubes of fabric, not shaped. Lungis are extremely common in south India. Despite their non-bifurcated shape, they're a manly garment (much more masculine than a Scottish kilt). They're often just tied, but the faculty member with us thought adding a drawstring would be a good idea--especially for a novice at lungi-tying. In the professor's words, it would help avoid a "wardrobe malfunction." My modest sweetie quickly agreed. He ordered several kurta lungi and kurta pajama sets. Kurtas are a tunic like an extended button-down shirt; they can reach to the knees, or lower for some more traditional styles. Pajamas have more fabric than pants, but they still give his legs the ventilation and "breathing room" he needs for comfort. He still will wear his khaki pants/trousers for teaching, but like me, he prefers to wear Indian clothing.
Now we're wearing Indian clothes every day. It's so much more comfortable and suitable to the hot climate here. I might pack away my Western clothes until we go back. (Cross-posted from my DreamWidth account, http://flora.dreamwidth.org )
- Current Location:Visnagar, Gujarat, India
Whenever we walk into town, we pass through a neighborhood of several blocks of improvised dwellings. This is where the poorer people of Visnagar live; the not-quite-homeless. The structures are not really houses, either, just lattices of wooden sticks, with tarps or blankets stretched over them to provide some shade against the sun. They're at least semi-permanent structures, and families live there year-round. We see women doing laundry in basins in their yards behind the lashed-stick fences. Despite the poverty, they're all genuinely friendly. The adults smile and wave at us; the kids stare and smile and follow us like puppies. These aren't beggar children living off tourists and wanting Western money. They're just normal kids wanting attention from the only non-Indians they've ever seen; they look at us like movie stars.
Michael takes his iPhone with him, snapping photos of everything and everyone. The kids (and adults) see, and want their pictures taken too. All the people are delighted to see their picture on an iPhone. The kids run up to us, wanting us to take their picture with them and show it on the digital screen. They're aware the technology exists (cell phones are plentiful), but it's a novelty to pose with a westerner. Apple iPhones are in kind of a gray-market status in this country. Jailbroken phones work for voice (albeit unsupported) with a local Vodafone SIM card, though not the data connection.
I don't know how many of these kids are in school. Friday was a national holiday (Gandhi's birthday), and the schools were closed. India reportedly offers free primary-school education through age 14, though I don't know how widely it's enforced or effective; it is a developing country. Most of the college's faculty send their upper-middle-class kids to "English medium" private schools. Whenever we ask the ages of the professors' kids, the answer is always given in their "standard" (grade level), not their age in years. That may also reflect the academics' bias toward schooling.
We didn't know it, but our driver's rental-car business is right downtown. So we ran right by the little shop where our driver, Alkesh, does business. His father was minding the desk, and he sent Alkesh after us. They invited us in and treated us to some cold Thums-Up [sic], a popular cola here. Alkesh has a little house that belonged to his grandfather. The front room has his black-and-white photo in his policeman's uniform, next to a half-dozen large, elaborate portraits of the goddess Lakshmi. The whole house sits behind a little front office with a rope bed/bench and a desk with a Gujarat map and mileage chart. His whole business office is about half the size of my cubicle at work.
In addition to Alkesh's father, we met his wife and their children, two seven-year-old twins (a son and daughter). Alkesh's kids are learning English at school, and they said hello to us. Mostly they were shy and hid behind their mother.
Housing is not very expensive, but that doesn't mean everyone has a proper house. Some of the college students choose to pay $20 per month and rent a whole house, instead of staying in the college hostels (dormitories). One of the professors, driving us around in our first week, pointed out what he called the slum areas. Those have enormous trash heaps and big stinky cesspools next to shacks constructed of whatever was handy at the time. It's common there to build a temple in front of the illegal houses that don't meet building codes. The temple blocks people from trying to tear down the building. Apparently there are between ten and twelve thousand homeless people in Visnagar, and hundreds of temples. The town's total population is about 50 or 60 thousand, a small town by Indian standards. That professor is of the opinion that people who want work can find it, and people who are homeless are probably that way by choice. I don't know if our stick-house neighbors are included in the "homeless" figure, but I would expect so. They probably don't consider themselves homeless; they're with their families.
We have seen the truly homeless. There's a family of at least three adults and several kids, who all sleep on the sidewalk right outside the gate to the college. We've stepped over them several times or walked around them when we go walking at nights. ( Click to read the rest of this entry; it's disgusting.Collapse ) (Cross-posted from my DreamWidth account, http://flora.dreamwidth.org )
- Current Location:Visnagar, Gujarat, India
- Current Mood: nauseated
The old city of Vadnagar, Gujarat, is nearby and has several historic attractions. One of the professors, Jagat, grew up there, so on Saturday he showed us around his hometown. We took an auto-rickshaw there, since the streets of Vadnagar are too small to navigate by car.
Our first stop was an 800-year-old temple. There were carved oxen and a turtle, guarding the god.
The temple's stonework was reminiscent of the Notre Dame cathedral, with chimeras and carved dancing girls.
The actual city of Vadnagar is pretty neat. The current structurdates at least from the medieval era, and has walls all around it. There are five impressive gates. When we were taking pictures of one of the gates, one of the nearby citizens invited us over to pet his baby goats and take our picture with them and his family. They were adorable goats. We wouldn't mind having a pet goat or two.
We visited a lake Sfiartha(sp?). Legend has it that the lake went dry, and to get the water back, a local girl had to give up her life. In honor of her sacrifice, the lake is named for her. They also fly a white flag from the center of the lake, symbolizing her innocence and virtue. There is now a park there, built just in the last two years. The chief minister of Gujarat is from Vadnagar, so he has an interest in promoting tourism there.
There was a massive Well - a huge, incredibly deep well. It's so deep we couldn't see the bottom. We dropped in a stone, and took about six seconds to hit the bottom. It's dry. It gives new meaning to the term, "when the well runs dry." At the driveway back to the well, there's a little farm with a camel (who let us pet it, then spit) and water buffalo (who snuffed at Michael and also spit at him).
Michael's favorite was a large open-roof bath, with water, with columns stretching down from ground level. We'd seen similar structures to Fatapur Sikri, but this one had water. Looking from the steps at one end had a gorgeous effect, a hallway of water. With the carved stonework and the greenery hanging down, it felt like something from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
The local people in Vadnagar don't see foreigners often - maybe once every month or two. They're very friendly and everybody wants us to take our picture with them. Michael was interested in knowing how one of the men tied his dhoti and turban, and when Jagat asked (in Gujarati), he was happy to demonstrate.
There were some more remote sites. We saw two 500-year-old arches, like Indian versions of the Arc de Triomphe. Apparently they were excavated a few years ago, and erected for tourists to see.
There was also a garden with the graves of two sisters; I didn't catch the full story. It had a beautiful flower garden and some peacock topiaries. It was out in the middle of nowhere but quite beautiful to see. (Cross-posted from my DreamWidth account, http://flora.dreamwidth.org )
- Current Location:Vadnagar, Gujarat, India
- Current Mood: tired
One very unwelcome visitor was the five-inch-long centipede. It was in our bedroom. We were going to bed, then Michael almost stepped on it with bare feet. After quite a shock, we trapped it under a throw rug and ran for our shoes and stomped on it through the rug. It wouldn't die easily. That was scary; the fangs were half an inch long. After finally seeing it dead, we flushed it. No picture, we just wanted that thing AWAY. I feel no guilt for its death, because it's suspiciously like a similar giant centipede from my high school biology (bottled in formaldehyde) and that one was poisonous. That startled us a bit and we didn't get to sleep for quite a while.
Not in our apartment, but just outside it on the stairway is also a large hornets nest on the ceiling of the stairway outside. There are numerous giant beetles, June-like bugs and smaller bugs. We've seen a praying mantis and a katydid that could be straight from our back yard. The crickets here look just like US black field crickets, but they can actually fly a couple feet if you startle them.
We haven't seen any mosquitoes or flying insects in our apartment yet. We have an All-Out plugged in (like a Glade plug-in, but with bug repellent). The window screens are intact. A few beetles have crawled around the floor, but that's about it. Guess the geckos have to eat something. (Cross-posted from my DreamWidth account, http://flora.dreamwidth.org )
- Current Location:Visnagar, Gujarat, India
- Current Mood: okay
These are my notes from this morning's talk. I'm making this entry public since others might be interested. I will try to hide this behind a cut, but it's cross-posting from DreamWidth so I apologize to LJ friends if the cut doesn't work.
My notes from 26 June 2009 Fulbright Orientation speaker on Safety and Security - Michael O'Neill, former director of safety for Peace Corps, now at Save the Children.
( Read more...Collapse )
Lots of interesting, practical advice for those going abroad.
- Current Mood:prepared
The session panelists, Fulbright alumni, say it will be a life-changing experience. The people we will meet will show amazing hospitality and we'll gain a deep appreciation of their culture. And all the panelists have been saying nothing will go like we plan; there will be problems - mostly small - and we just have to deal with them and accept it. The reliability and follow-through you expect from American daily life and business, is just not there. It will be replaced by an emphasis on personal relationships, relaxing, and coping with discomfort.
We've run into one problem already - we know we're going, but not exactly *when*. My husband is applying for an entry visa, to allow him to teach. India normally requires research scholars to wait 4 weeks before entering country, holding their passports, to be sure researchers' plans have time to go through the approval process. Michael will be a lecturer, just teaching, so he theoretically shouldn't have that problem. The visa office has told him so. The host university has told him so. Everyone in any official capacity has told him it's fine. But. As of yesterday, the Indian official in charge of the Fulbright program over there is convinced that Michael must have a 4-week waiting period. I met the official yesterday, and he seems like a reasonable guy, but he's absolutely sticking on this 4-week waiting period. So it could be August 1, September 1, or anytime later.
The very good news is that my job looks like it will work out. Did I mention I love my company? No details are settled yet, but it looks like I will be able to keep working and contributing, telecommuting. I'm taking the first week or so as vacation anyway, to give a few days to settle in and get the Internet and electricity hooked up. We'll see.
- Current Mood: busy
Today's sophisticated email programs often function as word processors. They can automatically change straight "double quotes" into different beginning/ending double quotes; Microsoft Word is notorious for this. Word also non-helpfully transforms 1/2 and 1/4 (one-half and one-fourth) to single characters. This is a big problem in trading recipes over email.
This problem is not necessarily new. For instance, Washington DC doesn't have a J street because, in the early maps for the city plan, the letters I and J looked nearly identical and the founders thought it would be confusing for people. (source: a National Parks expert on the DC city layout, at a talk I attended last year.)
The SCA College of Heralds have worked out a standard for writing foreign and special characters in email that accommodates names for a lot of Roman-based alphabetic characters. It's worth looking at for anyone who needs to share non-standard character information.
Anyone have other references they have found helpful?
- Current Mood: pensive
- Quality Control Analyst (1), Arlington VA
- Requirements Analyst (3), Arlington VA
- Jr. ASP .Net Developer (2), Arlington VA & Fairfax VA
- Mid-level ASP .Net Developer (2), Arlington VA & Fairfax VA
- Sr. ASP .Net Developer (2), Arlington VA & Fairfax
EDIT: Yes, you can pass this information to your friends who are looking for work. This is a public post. They can also comment on this post anonymously (comments are screened unless the commenter specifically tells me it's OK to unhide).
EDIT: We're not really a Microsoft-only shop, it's that the current developer openings are for a certain client's particular needs. If you're good, apply anyway.
( Quality Control AnalystCollapse )
( Requirements AnalystCollapse )
( Junior ASP .NET DeveloperCollapse )
( Mid-level ASP .NET DeveloperCollapse )
( Senior ASP/.Net Developer and ArchitectCollapse )
- Current Location:Arlington
- Current Mood: working
Yet another job opening! My company is hiring an "Internet Technology Analyst." Basically, a "Web 2.0" social-networking expert. No clearance required, just a normal background check.
Details are posted on my boss's journal.
- Current Mood: working
(public post - comments screened)
My company is still hiring! Right now, we're looking for 3 Requirements Engineers in Crystal City, Virginia. (Metro-accessible; near the Pentagon and Washington, DC.) This is to help staff a contract by April 1. If you or any of your friends are looking for work as requirements analysts, you can reply to this message, send me an email, or send a message through LJ. Comments are screened. Note, this job is not on our website yet, but our HR manager gave me permission to post this. She's in the middle of interviews for other positions - did I mention my company is hiring like mad?
Provide system and system-of-systems requirements engineering for determining data interface, functional and operational needs for a Joint Services information processing application.
Interact with weapons platforms subject matter experts, program technical directors and system vendors to determine operational system needs, data and workflow requirements, CONOPs and use case diagrams. Work with application architects, designers and test suite developers to ensure requirements are thoroughly documented and understood.
Support System Requirements Review (SRR) and System Functional Review (SFR) processes.
- Secret clearance
- Experience with DOORS and Enterprise Architect
- Experience with requirements traceability through development, testing and defect tracking
Additional / Desired skills:
- DoDAF knowledge (United States Department of Defense - Air Force)
- Rhapsody knowledge
- Prior experience with tactical radar systems
- Current Location:work
- Current Mood: busy
This list was created by Barbara Fisher of Tigers and Strawberries:
If you want to play along, here’s how you do it: copy the list, including my instructions, and bold any items you have eaten and strike out any you would never eat, and then post it to your blog. If you want, you can leave a comment here, linking to your results, or you can link back to this post so I can try and keep tabs on what folks have eaten and not eaten. Finally, if you think something else should be on the list–feel free to add that to your post, and add any comments you like to your own posting of the list. I am just as curious to see what people have to say about food as whether or not they have eaten them.
I'm altering the rules slightly, striking out only things I have tried and do not want to eat again. I'm also italicizing dishes that I have cooked myself or used in a recipe.
( 100 vegetarian foods everyone should tryCollapse )
Not bad - I've eaten all but 12 and cooked (or cooked with) over half.
- Current Mood: hungry
I arrived in the afternoon, apparently just shortly after the kitchen had opened. Tirzah and orlacarey put me to work chopping apples and I did that for maybe an hour? I replaced
There was enough help in the kitchen at that point, so I ducked out and joined the musicians for the (very small) court on the field. Seriously, there were maybe only a half-dozen people in the audience, plus about that many musicians; rather disappointing for a "major" fighting event. I'm not sure why. The Baron & Baroness processed in with a beautiful, loud bugle call so you'd think people would have heard it. Anyway,luscious_purple heralded the court, and telerib and other musicians provided lovely background music; I just banged on my tamborine, the only instrument I had with me. I especially liked the sly "Imperial March" (Darth Vader theme) the harps slipped in as the autocrat's husband was called into court. There are times for formality and pageantry in the SCA, but for this informal field court it was nice to have a little fun. Also recognized were hardworking folks Ascelina le Dragon (baronial courtesy award?) and someone from House Wulfshaven who was inducted into the order of the Golden Dolphin (James Griffin
Graciela (Grace?) was the hall steward and supervised the servers. It was good to have a capable, designated authority. Per her request, we servers put questions to Grace to ask Orla to answer or relay to Tirzah and then all the way back again. That was a good tactic to minimize hassling the kitchen staff. Grace and Orla also serenaded us with the "servers song," which I understand Grace had learned less than a half-hour before. We actually had sufficient servers for once, so that was nice.
Unfortunately we ended up having a relatively lot of empty seats at feast, the first time I've seen that happen for one of Tirzah's feasts. The servings were all for tables of 8, and many of the tables had far fewer feasters. So the carefully planned portion control didn't apply to many of the diners, and later dishes like the lamb and asparagus weren't eaten much mainly because people were too full. Also, the feast itself started a little late. This was amazingly not because the site opened the kitchen hours late. Tirzah and Orla and their crew had caught up! No, some of the fighters wanted to shower. People-wrangling is tough sometimes.
Everybody who was there really liked the food. Towards the end, they applauded the kitchen and Tirzah/Orla in particular. Unfortunately the kitchen staff were busy plating the last course at the time and I don't think they heard it.
Comments from the feasters:
"Is there any more gnocchi? Pleeease?" (I say I don't know, I will ask.) "No, that's OK, I'll go get some... hang on..." At that point, the lady got up, ran to the kitchen with a bowl and returned with a bowl of gnocchi. That *second* batch of gnocchi was inhaled. It lasted maybe 5 minutes or however long it was to serve it.
"...And the way the applesauce went with the pork. That was perfect!"
Me: "My lord, are you done with the beef soup?"
Fighter: "Noooo. You're not taking my meat away from me."
Me: "This is sushi-grade tuna in a ginger-saffron sauce...."
Fighter, eyes lighting up: "You brought me more meat!"
Same Fighter, for the fennel salad: "There's no meat in this!"
Me: "Try it!"
(Later: the bowl was half gone. That table had only four people. Hmm...)
Feaster: "The asparagus in cream sauce was very good. I just don't have any room!"
Me: "But I hope you'll have room for the pistachio cream for dessert?"
Feaster: "Oh yes."
Entire Table, seeing the dessert tray: "PISTACHIO CREAM!!!"
Feaster, just before tossing back her pistachio cream: "It's like doing shots!"
Feaster (pointing to an empty seat next to him) "And one for my friend here..." (wanting more Pistachio Cream)
Too Many People to Count: "Mmmmm, pass me more gnocchi!"
Too Many People to Count: "Is there any pistachio cream left?"
I served two tables, one full eight and one that started with two people and somehow grew to four over the course of the meal. Duke Ragnarr was at the small table. He is notorious for only ever eating hot dogs and Ho-Hos and macaroni and cheese. We cooks love him anyway, because he helps with cleanup and appreciates the work that goes into a feast. I'd made a show of placing the gnocchi right in front of him with a flourish, but unbeknownst to me the kitchen soon after presented him with his own bowl of Gnocchi! And *gasp* he even ate it!
So people were fed into submission. Yay!
- Current Mood: content
This was a potluck, with an invitation to bring pie or a Pi-themed dish. There were pineapple wedges, key lime pie (Sweetie ate half of himself), pine nuts, pink lady apples, a couple Squared Pies, a yummy peach-strawberry pie, apple and several other fruit pies, and a cute minimalist pie (a baked plain pie crust). I did my usual potluck strategy, trying medieval-style food on unsuspecting people. Made a custard pie (tart of cream) and some "cubed roots" (roasted root vegetables, cut into cubes). There were over a dozen assorted gamer geeks, and at least one or two SCA folks I didn't know yet. Almost all the attendees are on LJ. (I haven't friended you all yet, but I recognize several people I know who are your friends or friends of friends.)
The recipes, by request...
( Cubed Roots recipeCollapse )
( Tart of Cream (saffron custard) recipeCollapse )
I also attempted a Pie of Paris (meatloaf pie) but that didn't turn out as well. I was rushed for time due to some last-minute mundane business that interrupted just when I pre-heated the oven. *sigh* Life happens. But it was a great party! I hope to game with some of you again soon.
- Current Mood: creative
Demanding a proper kitchen before she'd marry? Susanna was a lady after my own heart. :-)
"Feeding the little ones is a public safety issue, truth be told. We feed nearly anyone who comes into the kitchen. If it's chewing we're less likely to try to peel it, steam it or throw it into the oven."-- Lord Bruce the Robert, responding to a mother's thanks for giving her four-year-old a snack before the feast on Saturday.
- Current Mood: amused
Here's a picture of the two of us in circa-1800 garb.
THANK YOU to chargirlgenius for lending me this terrific dress, and to you and isabelladangelo for your excellent advice. You are amazing!
A few additional photos are here.
- Current Mood: happy