Panthers, Fungus, and Hate Speech

Good evening all!  I am starting what I hope will be a weekly new segment on my blog.  Since I have a hard time completing my weekly check in on a weekly basis, I wouldn’t hold your breath, but I sure as shoot am going to try.  I have dozens of sound bits of interesting facts cluttering the harddrive of my voice recorder, but I never have the time to download, listen to, and transcribe all of them, so they never make it over here to the blog.  I still wish to share my love for science, history, and learning in general, so I’m going to try this as an alternative.

Are you ready?

You don’t look ready.  Straighten your back, your posture is sloppy and bad for your spine (do as I say, not as I do).  Okay, that’s better.

Podcast of the Week:

These are not necessarily podcasts that aired this week, but are podcasts that I finally got around to listening to this week.  We are doing podium style, so top three, take it away!

Third Place Goes To (Drum Roll Please):
How Free Speech Works from Stuff You Should Know (SYSK)
The greatest irony presented in this podcast is that the same rights that MLK built his platform on also gave the white supremacists and KKK the right to hate speech.  Hate speech, however, let’s you debate the topic in public, which has helped the gay community come a long way with work for equal rights.  Hopefully it can do the same for science and climate change in the following years.

Runner Up (A Very Close Second):
The Black Panther Party from Stuff You Should Know (SYSK)
I will admit I was an ignorant American in this topic.  If I learned about the Black Panther Party in the past, I have long since forgotten it.  The craziest part of this podcast was that it wasn’t the members walking around open carrying machine guns that scared the government, it was the fact that they also set up community outreach programs such as school breakfast for poor children, medical clinics, etc.  I hope a lot of people will look back on this time and take a lesson from the history books.  It felt eerily relevant in current times.

First Place Goes To:
Life After Radiation: Sickness, Death and Sustenance from Stuff to Blow Your Mind
Congratulations, my mind was blown with this one.  Mission: success.  There were so many interesting facts I bombarded my hubby (let’s just call him Frank) with for our Fact of the Day.  The craziest one?  The dark fungus that “eats” radiation and turns it into bioenergy.


Well, it’s been more than a week, but I’m here and still kicking (even if the force behind my kicks has weakened).  It’s been tireless nights of work and exhaustion, but I think I’ve passed the zenith for the season.  An old childhood injury (thanks to the numerous organized sports I played and quit) flared up for a while, which altered my BikingTheTrail challenge.  While I still aim to travel the entire length of the AT, on days where my injuries keep me down or the availability of a bike is null, I will “cheat” and revert to my pedometer for the distance walked in the day.  Though I will no longer bike the trail, I will still traverse its distance, which I think is still an admirable goal.

Progress on the Trail:
Tuesday, 28 February: 3.46 miles
Wednesday, 1 March: 2.80 miles
Thursday, 2 March: 4.30 miles
Friday, 3 March: 7.70 miles
Saturday, 4 March: 5.35 miles
Sunday, 5 March: 2.80 miles
Monday, 6 March: 4.40 miles
Tuesday, 7 March: 6.39 miles
Wednesday, 8 March: 6.75 miles
Thursday, 9 March: 7.64 miles
Friday, 10 March: 4.22 miles
Saturday, 11 March: 6.48 miles
Sunday, 12 March: 5.31 miles
Monday, 13 March: 6.27 miles
Tuesday, 14 March: 6.67 miles
Wednesday, 15 March: 7.56 miles

Week Eight (1/2) – Ten (1/2) Total: 88.1 miles
Distance to Go:  1,759.55 miles (2,190 miles total)


Cooking Light Annual Challenge Rundown:
I’ve had a lot of pitfalls here as well.  I tackled some under the weather time, as well as some severe reactions to a medication which made it difficult to stand, let alone to cook.  So I won’t detail out all the days, but I will mentioned what I cook in the time that has passed.

Cold Noodle Salad with Sesame Crab: This was even better the next day for lunch.  If you have time, I would let it chill overnight.  We couldn’t find udon noodles at our local grocery store, so I used pad thai noodles, which seemed to work fine.  And fresh crab meat was way too expensive, so we got the imitation crab meat.  It worked just fine.

Burger Patty Salad: This recipe should be called the pita-less gyro.  I was halfway through making it when I realized I was crafting tzatziki sauce.  I used all ground turkey instead of beef and lamb, but it was delicious!  We are also not a big fan of kale after the “kale chips” incident of 2016, so we used leftover baby arugula instead.

Seared Mahimahi with Tomato-Cucumber Relish: this one was not our favorite, but I think it had more to do with the fact that we used free fish my boss caught out on his boat instead of mahi-mahi.  Our fish had little flavor and was mostly just “fishy”.  The salsa relish, though, was good.

Thai Braised Beef with Coconut Milk and Ginger: I had coconut milk leftover from the amazing rice previously, so I looked up Cooking Light recipes that included it and this one stood out (to be fair, there were only about five to choose from).  I did not, however, realize it would take over TWO HOURS to cook.  I thought I’d only picked 30 minutes or less recipes when preparing my shopping list for the week.  As such, this one was a little of a nightmare that included a two night ordeal to cook and reheat, but it was rather savory.  Not sure it was worth the time though.

Two-Cheese Mac and Cheese: I aim to post this recipe soon if I can spare the time to type it up.  Mac and cheese is my comfort food and with the hubby – let’s just call him Grendel – away for the evening, this one hit the spot.  Plus, it was a treat to take a break from work long enough to cook.




Spring Dun Sprung

In which Starbucks tries to wreck everything – but what else is new.

The turtles as pooping around the yard.  The fleas are a prancing on the back of our beagle and nipping at our knuckles while we sleep.  The rabbits are eyeing the new carrot garden bed with peaked interest.  And I fight a constant battle with the pollen (the flowers usually win).

Ahhh, spring. I don’t know if the groundhog saw his shadow this year.  In Florida, the cloud coverage somewhere in the forest in New England doesn’t make a lick of difference.  Our two weeks of winter have left the state, and spring dun sprung.

Last year my hubby – let’s just call him Omar – fielded most of the gardening work.  The tomatoes were his downfall (or rather, the caterpillars and other pesky insects that ate them and the mold that plagued them).  This year there isn’t a tomato seed in sight, and I’ve decided to throw my hat (the straw one, not the Stetson) into the gardening ring (i.e. raised garden bed).  Perhaps I went a bit crazy for my first attempt, but I’ve always been one to jump of the high dive without testing the low one first (which is how I almost broke my back on the swim team one summer).  We tore out the only grass that grows in our yard, threw it away, bought some cow manure and mushroom compost (we’ll see how that goes) and viola!

The corn sprouted before I dug up the plot for the cucumbers.  I’m hoping this livelihood means they are sturdy enough to take my abuse.  I imagine they will be the one crop to survive from my lot since Omar hates corn and I’m not sure what I’ll do with it all if it produces.  Irony is the name of the game this spring.

The chicken wire is the next project.  We thought we would need it to protect the crops from the vermin in our yard – the feral cats, the bouncy rabbits, and the lettuce chomping turtles.  Turns out the biggest threat to the garden is a vermin that lives inside the house – our dog.  She loves to burst across the freshly watered dirt, hunker down atop the saplings and grin her sharp teeth at them while she begs to play.  So far, the damage has been minimal, but I can project out the situation when the crops are growing tall.  Not a pretty picture.  And, during the winter, she learned how to jump into the raised garden bed to boot.  No crop is safe!

Happy spring!  What are all you other farmers planting this year?  Apart from our hotbox (my loving name for the starter greenhouse), we have cucumbers, corn, carrots, scallions, and cilantro in the works.  Here’s to a fruitful spring and a goal towards a sustainable garden!

Weekly Check-In

Cooking Light Annual Challenge Rundown:
Sunday the 19th
: Asparagus Parmesan Couscous (I went into this one alone.  Lacking a little flavor, so it wasn’t my favorite, but it was hearty and healthy).
Monday the 20th: Firehouse night (Miss Hop-a-long hobbled to Firehouse to gorge on brisket.  Worth it).
Tuesday the 21st: Blistered Green Beans and Tomatoes (served with a side of French Bread, this veggie mix was tasty).
Wednesday the 22nd: Chicken with Artichoke Pan Sauce (this was amazing!  It would have been just as good vegetarian without the chicken).
Thursday the 23rd: Lunch leftovers (Free lunch at work means Monte Cristo for dinner.  Greasy delight, though I have to admit it’s harder for me to eat something like this anymore.  My stomach prefers the healthier, less dense meals).
Friday the 24th: Ginger Basmati Rice (holy moly.  This recipe was deceptively easy in its creation, but a delight on the taste buds).
Saturday the 25th: Food Poisoning Night (don’t ask)
Sunday: Draining the swamp (food poisoning day.  Don’t buy meat at Wal-Mart).
Monday: Pesto Potato Salad (not what my hubby – let’s just call him Omar – expected at all, but amazingly good.  By far top three of this year so far).
Tuesday: Risotto Primavera (Not my favorite mix of flavors so far, but a filling meal.  And I love making risotto).

Progress on the Trail:
Sunday, 19 February: 8.0 miles
Monday, 20 February: 0 miles
Tuesday, 21 February:  2.8 miles
Wednesday, 22 February: 4.9 miles
Thursday, 23 February: 4.3 miles
Friday, 24 February: 4.1 miles
Saturday, 25 February: 3.1 miles
Sunday, 26 February: 1.8 miles
Monday, 27 February: 4.0 miles

Week Seven/Eight (1/2) Total: 33.0 miles
Distance to Go:  1,847.65 miles (2,190 miles total)


In which I blow your mind with the depth of my nerdiness.

I finally found a piece of artwork my hubby – let’s just call him Jeevan – finally let me buy.  It’s not a compliment to our Yosemite one in the living room, but it definitely matches our style.  Booya:

Love it.

Also, I’m finally on the bandwagon for decorating a baby’s bedroom.  I’ve always thought it was ridiculous to paint a baby’s room based on its sex.  To be fair, I still do.  But I’m coming around to decorating a child’s room.  I’m not going to be painting any walls pink or blue or light green or yellow, but I’m thinking we’re going to design our kid’s room (should we ever have on) like a spaceship.

Just imagine.  A black ceiling (once I get rid of this pesky popcorn ceiling – how did that ever become a fad?) with this monster design across almost the entirety:

That’s right. No stupid glow in the dark stars for my kid.  If your name is gonna be Luke Kirk [insert my last name here], you’re gonna be full on nerd.  I will, of course, install thick glass plates with water in between them to shield my baby from any radiation.  I’m not crazy.

And then, since you can’t just leave the walls completely bare, something along these lines:

Not this exact one in particular, because it wouldn’t make sense to have the earth both above and next to you in these viewpoints BUT you get the idea.

I’m half tempted to do this to my bedroom.  So much fun!

Damn Day One

In which my body doth protest.

Today was going to be a day of reckoning.  I was going to get up when my hubby – let’s just call him Cal – got up to get ready for work.  Instead of laying in bed and snuggling with the dog for an extra twenty minutes, I was going to get up and get my cardio in early so I could start on my weight training in the evenings (and yoga to help with my now chronic back pain).  I was ready to start making more of a dent in my BikingTheTrail challenge and make up for my recent slower progress and missed days.

Instead, this happened:

That invincibility we felt as kids is hitting me hard these days.  My dyslexic body thinks it’s in its sixties, not its twenties.

So not only did I not start out my new era with a bang, but I fell even further behind.  Still, I will not be dissuaded.  It means I have to work twice as hard once I get back on my feet (or, to be precise, my knees).  Pain is weakness leaving the body as they say.  I’m feeling strong today and ready to give it another go tomorrow.

If I can drag my sorry butt out of bed.

Back on Track

In which I hope 2016 finally ends

What a crazy month it’s been.  Is it just me or does it feel like 2016 hasn’t ended yet?  All these “2016 problems” have bled over into 2017.  And they didn’t stay in January like I had hoped.  But February is calming down (about time), so here’s to brighter skies for the rest of the year (and no more major home improvement budget busters).

These past two weeks have been highlighted with chaos, so unfortunately I had a bit of a backslide on both annual challenges.  I did the best I could, and am full focus forward now.

Cooking Light Annual Challenge Rundown:
Sunday the 5th
: Tabbouleh with Beans and Feta (I couldn’t find bulgar so I substituted couscous.  It appears I might have botched the substitution, for it made wayyyy too much couscous.  And then I accidentally left the leftover in the car overnight later in the week.  Wait a waste.  But it was pretty good).
Monday the 6th: Fragrant Red Lentils with Rice (yum yum in the tum tum.  My first foray with lentil and Indian food did not go well last year, but this one hit the bullseye.  Will try to get the recipe up)
Tuesday the 7th: Pizza night (sometimes the hubby just has a bad day and wants his comfort food)
Wednesday the 8th: Mini Crab Cakes (a classic case of miscalculated conversions led to half the amount of crab needed for the crab cakes – why can’t we just use the metric system, I swear – but they still turned out delicious.  They were a pain in the butt to make, too forever, and I’ll never make them again, but they were good).
Thursday the 9th: Orzo with Chicken, Broccoli, and Pesto (we are still on a mostly vegetarian kick, so I kicked the chicken from the recipe and substituted the premade pesto from last week’s recipe to use it up instead of making a pesto from scratch.)
Friday the 10th: Crab Bisque (my lord, what a delicious recipe.  I discovered Cooking Light has recipes on their website – which takes you over to  I found this one here.  Sooooo good.  I substituted white wine vinegar for the vermouth and it was to die for).
Saturday the 11th: Moving Day (moving day was a nightmare of epic proportions – which lead to the aforementioned ruined couscous – so it was another pizza night.  You’d think I’d be tired of it by now.  And actually, I kind of am).
Sunday: Brats night (hubby wanted to man the grill and I was still too tired to cook.  And ran out of time to hit up the grocery store)
Monday: Creamy Parmesan Orzo (another Cooking Light online recipe you can find here.  I was out of fresh basil so I used dried instead.  This recipe was the first time I tried pine nuts.  Definitely had an unique taste, but was good).
Tuesday: Creamy Indian Lentils and Rice (recipe can be found here.  I used basmati rice instead of brown rice and subed mustard powder for the seeds.  It probably would have been delicious, but my 70s stove struck again.  Even on the warm setting, it overcooked the heck out of it and burnt a lot of it to the bottom of the pan.  I might blame Valentine’s Day on this one.  I have the worst luck with V-Day.  And the movie we watched – Arrival – didn’t fare much better).
Wednesday: Hibachi night (our real Valentine’s Day celebration)
Thursday: Ravioli night (Hubby cooked)
Friday: Pizza night (don’t even ask at this point)
Saturday: Family dinner (We rocked the Metro Diner)

Progress on the Trail:
Sunday, 05 February: 7.4 miles
Monday, 06 February: 6.2 miles
Tuesday, 07 February: 6.0 miles
Wednesday, 08 February: 6.0 miles
Thursday, 09 February: 6.0 miles
Friday, 10 February: 6.75 miles
Saturday, 11 February: 7.15 miles
Sunday, 12 February: 6.3 miles
Monday, 13 February: 6.0 miles
Tuesday, 14 February: 6.5 miles
Wednesday, 15 February: 0 miles
Thursday, 16 February: 9.15 miles
Friday, 17 February: 7.1 miles
Saturday, 18 February: 0 miles

Week Five/Six Total: 80.55 miles
Distance to Go:  1,880.65 miles (2,190 miles total)