April 25, 2011 - 12:02 AM
They say the first step on the road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. With that in mind, I'd would like to use this blog entry to admit to the world that I have a problem. I have senioritis. It's a deadly disease and it's spreading rapidly across campus, affecting more and more soon-to-be graduating seniors every day.
I've encountered this disorder before. It was four years ago, during the spring of my senior year of high school, but it was different then. In high school it was a matter of being accepted to college and consequently realizing that I didn't have to worry about my grades as much.
Nowadays, however, my problem isn't that I don't have anything to worry about. I certainly don't have any guaranteed place that I'll be next fall, well, not yet at least (fingers crossed). I haven't lost any motivation; I'm love working with my CPW team, and I enjoy doing the work for that course knowing that it will benefit the Eugene community. No, my senioritis is caused by an overwhelming desire to have as much fun as possible in my last month and a half in Eugene.
It's a simple matter of living in the moment. My time here is limited and I want to make the most out of my remaining weeks with the family of friends that I've made here in Eugene over the past four years.
Common side effects of this potent malady include not being able to wake up until after hitting the snooze button on your morning alarm a minimum of six times, the inability to proofread papers for classes that you're taking pass/fail, and playing lots and lots of all types of field sports, particularly softball, whiffle ball and Frisbee.
I joke around about senioritis, but in all seriousness I'm having the time of my life right now, or at least I'm trying to. I take it as a learning opportunity in balancing work and play, but this time the scales are tipping more towards the play side. Life is for living and I'm not about to go against the grain on this one. Can't wait to ride out this wave of senioritis all the way to Graduation Day! Yahoo!
April 24, 2011 - 8:23 PM
Happy Easter Sunday!
I hope all of you are enjoying time with friends and family on this joyful (yet overcast) afternoon. It's not quite the weather you'd usually envision for an Easter Sunday, but it's nothing that can't be fixed by moving the Easter egg hunt indoors.
Earlier today, all of our friends that didn't head home for Easter had our own orphans' Easter Sunday potluck brunch, as I like to call it, at Emily and Emma's apartment. Ross and I made hash browns. Emma and Steph came with a fruit salad. Sarah brought some fresh veggies (she lives in the University's vegan co-op, the Lorax, so they were delicious!). Lizzy made a dish of cinnamon rolls that she called monkey cake, which is probably the tastiest dish you've never heard of. And Emily made quiche. It was all absolutely delicious.
We weren't very quick to get up after eating. We probably finished around 1 o'clock, and then went into a collective food coma for another hour and a half. That ought to give you a pretty good idea about how good the food was.
It was exactly what I was hoping for actually. Good food and great friends. We actually did have an Easter egg hunt. Ross and I arrived early so we had time to hide about dozen eggs in the living room. It didn't last too long, but it was still pretty hilarious. What's Easter Sunday without an Easter egg hunt, really?
After brunch, Ross and I headed home to get ready for our softball game. This one went a whole lot better than last week. We brought home our first victory of the season; 17-8 was the final score. Cam pitched a great game for us, striking our four batters (which generally doesn't happen in softball, so that was pretty sweet). Jordan hit a blast to center field that practically landed on the other softball diamond. I went four-for-for with two triples and an inside-the-park homerun.
Gosh, now that I think about it, this was a great way to spend Easter! Too bad I actually have work to get done before class tomorrow. Oh well. I guess I won't be saying that too much longer. Graduation day is coming closer every day.
April 17, 2011 - 5:48 PM
Springtime has finally arrived (sort of - partly cloudy weather is springtime in Oregon) and that means that Intramural Softball season is once again underway. One last chance to win that coveted intramural champion t-shirt, two if you count both our men's and coed softball teams. I don't know why, but I have a good feeling about this season.
I've pretty mch been looking forward to softball season since the final game of last year. Yesterday, I headed to the batting cages with some teammates to get some swings in. Earlier today I picked up a new pair of cleats, and by ‘new' I mean I bought a ‘new' pair of ‘used' cleats from Play-it-Again Sports, where all prices are perfect for a college budget. We headed to the field early today to warm up. Finally, the game started. I was super excited. First pitch of the game leaves my hand and *BOOM!!* HOMERUN. Not a good start to the season. It was all downhill from there.
I don't think I've ever been on a team that was beat in such a horrendously painful way. First pitch of the game was a homerun, the first of many. Batter after batter came to the plate and roped balls to every part of the yard. We made a few outs between homeruns and ground rule doubles, but the outs were few and far between. It's touch to tell what part of our game looked worse, offense or defense. The gigantic mudslide in right field didn't help our cause either. Steven ended up with a sweet battle stain on his back. Mud went everywhere.
Our opponents scored ten runs in the second inning alone, and they would have scored plenty more if there weren't a 10-run limit per inning. I finally had to pull myself from the mound after the third inning. Elliot had much more success in his relief appearance, but some of their players started batting switch so I'm pretty sure they stopped caring after the first two innings. Either way my ERA is through the roof.
There's a mercy rule if any team is down by 15 runs after four innings, and we obviously were on the wrong end of that situation. The referee asked us after the second inning (when we were already down 22-0) if we wanted to keep playing. My response was, "Well, I haven't even gotten to bat yet so, yeah, I think we're going to keep playing." I mean, c'mon, we're already out there. Might as well play, right? Every team makes the playoffs anyways, and we needed a little practice.
The game trudged on. My first swing of the game I popped out to the catcher, who wasn't even wearing a glove. We ended up scoring a few runs in the end. Not many, but a few. The final score ended up being 30-4. Yikes!
I still had a great time. It was good to be back on the field and we had some good laughs. After the game I told their coach we'd see them in the championship game, which he and the refs got a chuckle out of. Don't get me wrong, I don't like losing, but when the other team has more homeruns in the first inning than you have runs in the entire game, you have to laugh about it.
It's a long season, and hopefully we won't run into any beat downs like this one. One thing is for sure though. If we're going to win that t-shirt, it's probably not going to be with our men's team. Hopefully our coed team does a little better next Friday.
April 16, 2011 - 6:21 PM
So far this weekend I've been working on for my Urban Farm course (LA 390) is our "eat local" assignment. Our task is to eat only locally grown foods - produce, meat, dairy, whatever - for two days. Right now I'm finishing up with my first day, and this is already proving to be more difficult than I imagined.
The first part of the assignment was to define what "local" means for you. Are you only going to eat foods from Eugene? Lane County? Oregon? West Coast? United States? Does eating at restaurants that buy their food locally count? If so, then how can you make sure they actually buy local foods? I chose to limit myself to Lane County. I figured that'd give me enough variety in food items so that I'd still make a few nice meals and enjoy my weekend. Plus, I figured I could just buy a bunch of things from the Saturday market. That's really the only way I could be sure about knowing the places where each and every food item came from.
Earlier this morning I rode my bike downtown to the Saturday market, more formally referred to as the Lane County Farmer's Market (pictured above), to find some goodies. The first things I searched for was meat. I knew that if I was going to survive the weekend, I would need some form of protein, and I also knew that there was no possible way I was going without meat for two days.
For meat, I found sausages and bacon from Sweet Briar Farms (Eugene), and I picked up a dozen eggs from the same stand. At that point I thought to myself, breakfast...check. I also picked up a small skirt steak from Deck Family Farm (Junction City). Why not? If I'm eating local I might as well get the good stuff.
I made sure to pick up potatoes and carrots at the Groundwork Organics Farm stand (Junction City), and spinach from Sweet Leaf Farms (Eugene). Those are all pretty versatile foods, so I grabbed a lot. I've come to realize that potatoes are appropriate for just about any meal depending on how you cook them. Roasted. Mashed. Hash browns. Potato gratin.
Next I checked out my options for bread because I figured that's an essential. Hideaway Baker (Eugene) had a loaf of potato bread that looked awesome, so I snagged one of those. I meant to ask where they got the ingredients, but it slipped my mind. It's very likely that they didn't all come from Lane County, so I probably bent the rules a little bit, but this was a matter of basic sustenance. Although the bag that the bread came in said, "We are committed to using organic and locally grown ingredients whenever possible," so I can at least feel comfortable with that.
My last stop at the Farmer's Market was for some honey from the Covered Bridge Honey stand (Cottage Grove), which I thought was solid purchase for a couple reasons. First, I might as well treat myself to some local sugar. I'll take wild blackberry honey over the store-bought stuff any day.. Second, I've heard that eating local honey helps to alleviate the effects of allergies. Supposedly by eating honey, you're familiarizing your bodily system with local pollen, which helps build immunity to any allergens. Don't know if it's true or not, but I'm willing to try anything to get away from Willamette Valley hay fever. It's pretty bad.
After the market, I headed home to make some breakfast. Two eggs over easy on top of mustard leaf and toast with a side of bacon. The mustard leaf came from the Urban Farm, and it's super tasty with a little spicy, pseudo wasabi-flavored kick at the end. We harvested it last Thursday. I had my first unforeseen obstacle this morning because I usually fry my eggs with butter or olive oil, but that's obviously not local. I found a pretty easy fix though. I just fried two slices of bacon in the skillet first and left some of the bacon grease in the pan. Quite a delicious solution I might add. The only other obstacle I ran into was that I wanted a cup of coffee with my meal, but that's definitely not local either. I got over it, but I guess coffee is just one of those luxuries of globalization.
After breakfast, I headed over to the Urban Farm for a work session. We're required to go twice during the term to help out with some miscellaneous tasks. I planted a few rows of lettuce and chard, nothing too difficult. Thankfully I was able to work in the greenhouse, too, because it was pouring down rain outside.
The other benefit of working at the farm was that I could harvest some extra produce. I grabbed a head of lettuce, a pair of leaks, some small purple and yellow broccoli heads (sweet colors, right?), and more spinach. I basically grabbed everything I needed to make a huge salad. I figured that I'd just munch on that throughout the weekend.
Right now I'm just finishing up my second meal of the day. Skirt steak with roasted vegetables and salad. The steak, to be honest, was a little disappointing. I grilled it with some salt and pepper, so again I broke the rules for the sake of taste. I think the problem was that it was a pretty cheap cut of meat, very gritty. It could have used a little barbeque sauce and a lot of tenderizing. The vegetables were awesome though. I don't know if I've ever eaten leaks before, but that's definitely going to change in the future. I didn't have any dressing for the salad, either, so that was something I could have tried a little harder to find a local version of. I probably could have made my own, but I don't have the first clue how to do that. Like I said, eating local is hard.
Overall, I've really enjoyed this assignment/experiment so far. It's supposed to raise our awareness of the local food markets available to us in Eugene, and it's certainly made me think more about my food choices. One thing I've realized is that eating meat probably isn't a financially sustainable eating habit for this area. That skirt steak cost $13 (!!), and it wasn't even that good. Even that pack of four sausages was $8, and pork is one of the cheaper meats.
I'm treating this assignment as both a learning experience and as somewhat of challenge. I could have just cheated and used butter to fry my eggs this morning, but I wanted to be creative and find an alternative. When I'm cooking these meals, I cheat here and there with things like salt and pepper, but I still try to imagine what I would do if I didn't have any. What would I eat if I only had access to what is grown or raised within a twenty-mile radius of my town? I mean, hey, that's what our ancestors had to do once upon a time. Believe it or not there used to be world where people couldn't make themselves a cup of coffee every day, or go to any street corner and buy any type of latte they felt like having. Earlier today I felt like a cup of tea, but I couldn't have one because that's not local either.
In that sense, this assignment has not only taught me about what foods are grown in Lane County, but also about what foods aren't grown in Lane County. It's made me aware of some of the luxuries that we often take for granted just because they've always been available to us. Salt. Pepper. Olive oil. Salad dressing. Just the fact that you can find oranges and apples at Safeway yearround has sort of blinded many of us to the concept of growing seasons. Right now at the Farmer's Market I can pick up any types of green leafy vegetables because they're winter and early spring crops, but when I go back in a few months I'll be picking between strawberries and blueberries.
Okay, that's enough rambling for now. Long story short, I've really enjoyed this assignment and I recommend trying it out if you have the impetus. It's difficult, but it's fun. It's rewarding, too. You have to be a little creative with your cooking styles and open-minded about tyring different foods. Give it a shot. Who knows, you might learn something.
April 11, 2011 - 5:47 PM
Well, I guess I could have stuck around Eugene for the weekend. There certainly were some noteworthy events. Men's and Women's Track & Field both had dominant wins at the Pepsi Invitational on Saturday afternoon. I could have stuck around to see the Men's Baseball Team destroy the Huskies 9-0 on Sunday.
Instead, I decided to hop on a plane back to the Bay Area to enjoy a weekend of rest and relaxation with the family. And did I mention that it was Opening Weekend for the San Francisco Giants? Yeah, I kind of came home for that, too. How could I pass up the opportunity to see my Giants first games back after winning the 2010 World Series last November?
My weekend began with a Friday afternoon flight into San Francisco. Friday night was dinner with the family at Sushi Sam's, which I highly recommend if anyone happens to be traveling through San Mateo in the near future. I might be a little bias in saying this, but it's probably the best sushi joint on the West Coast. Just sayin'. Saturday morning was a little shopping at REI with my mom, followed by a mid-afternoon nap on the couch whilst watching the 2011 Masters, and finally my dad and I headed into the city for the Giants' game.
First pitch wasn't until 7:05 PM, but Saturday night was about more than just the game. Saturday night was Opening Night at AT&T Park and the pre-game festivities included the official World Series ring ceremony. It nearly brought a tear to my eyes.
I should probably give you a little historical perspective so that you can hopefully grasp the significance of this situation, not for me, but for the Giants' organization. The last time the Giants won the World Series was in 1954. Willie Mays, the "Say Hey" Kid, was only in the third year of his Hall of Fame career. Monte Irvin, the first African American ballplayer to play for the Giants, was still manning the outfield. And, oh yeah, the team was still in New York.
If you've ever seen an old clip of Willie Mays making a ridiculous basket catch while
racing towards an thirty foot tall fence, back completely turned from the in-field, that's the last time the Giants won the World Series. That was "the Catch," as it's affectionately referred to by all Giants fans, and it was made at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan when the New York Giants beat the Cleveland Indians in the '54 World Series.
The point I'm trying to make in all this is that the Giants haven't won a World Series since 1954, and more importantly they haven't won a World Series since moving to the west coast in 1958. So this is the first time that the Giants have brought a World Series title to San Francisco. This is the first time EVER (!!) that the letters "SF" have been engraved on a World Series ring...and my dad and I were there to see it happen.
It was magnificent! Three old-fashioned muscle cars drove the rings out onto the field, escorted by the San Francisco cavalry, each of the four horses branded with an "SF" on the hindquarters. A red carpet ran from the Giants' dugout to home plate, where future hall of fame announcers, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper - i.e., Kruk & Kuip - stood in tuxedos announcing names of coaches and players from last year's team.
One by one they all walk up to a roaring applause from the crowd: Brian "Fear the Beard" Wilson. Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey. The aces of the starting rotation, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathon Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner. NLCS MVP Cody Ross. Aubry Huff. Pat Burrell. Andres Torres. Aaron Rowand. Freddy Sanchez.
My personal favorite was clubhouse manager, Mike Murphy, who's been with the Giants since 1958. He's the only one that's actually sat through every season in San Francisco, from Seal's Stadium to Candelstick Park to AT&T, so if there's anyone that deserves a ring it's "Murph."
Man, it was fun to watch. Freddy Sanchez joked around before the game that he was going to get a pair of custom batting gloves so that he could wear it at the plate. Kruk and Kuip noticed near the end of the ceremony that some guys, like Huff, Burrell and Ross, who have deemed themselves the Three Stooges of the clubhouse, were struggling to get their rings off. I would laugh at them, but I had the same problem with the replica ring/keychain they handed out at the gates. It's kind of a scary feeling not being able to get a ring off your finger, and then had a game to play. I'd have been in a full on panic if I were one of those guys.
Four Giants' Hall of Famers were on hand to accept honorary rings, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, and Willie Mays. About halfway through the game, owners Bill Neukom, Larry Baer, and Peter McGowan handed out rings to all Giants' announcers, Kruk, Kuip, Jon Miller, and Dave Flemming. My mother was watching the game on television at home and she said that Kruk was just speechless. What a ceremony, what an honor for the Giants, and what a pleasure to be in attendance? It was a great slice of Giants' history and I felt privileged to be a part of it.
Now, I guess I should at least mention the game, which was also stellar. It was a classic pitchers' duel between Matt Cain and the St. Louis Cardinals' young ace, Jaime Garcia. Cain pitched a gem, only allowing two runs in 7 innings. Sadly, Garcia did him one better by only allowing one run in six inning. Like always, the Giants' offense seems to go stagnant with Cain on the mound; I'm pretty sure he's received the lowest run support of any pitcher in the league over the past few years.
The score was 2-1 Cardinals heading into the bottom of the ninth. Just like the night before, the Giants were down to their final three outs. Huff grounded out to first base to start of the inning. One down. Posey got us going with a liner into right field for a single. Burrell followed up with a walk and was pinch run for by rookie-phenom, Brandon Belt. Then, Aaron Rowand, who had the game winning hit in the 12th inning the previous night, flied out to right. Two down. Our last hope was in former AL MVP and first-year Giant, Miguel Tejada.
Tejada had a showdown with Cardinals' closer, Ryan Franklin, in a marathon thirteen pitch at-bat. Franklin was ahead with two stikes, but Tejada battled back to 3-2. He fouled a few pitches off to stay alive and then finally ripped a ball to the gap in left-center. On a sunny day, that ball would have gone out of the park, no question, but this air was think on this chilly night on McCovey Cove. Centerfielder, Colby Rasmus, raced to the warning track. No telling what exactly happened, if he didn't think he was going to catch it or maybe he got spooked by the rightfielder's footsteps, but the ball hit right off the heel of Rasmus' glove and dropped to the turf. Posey and Belt crossed home. Game over. Giants win.
It was a fitting end for a magnificent evening. Congratulations to all the San Francisco Giants. Can't wait to see you do it all over again this season.