Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Operation Bi Bim Bop

I decided last week that I needed to make Bi Bim Bop. This decision was prompted by the desire to eat Bi Bim Bop. Plus, I just like saying it.

It's easy enough to google it and find out what I'm talking about, but if you're feeling lazy, basically it's a bowl of rice with vegetables, meat (not in my case) and a fried egg on top that's then served with Sriracha sauce. I'm sure there's a proper way to make the rice and probably a recommended group of vegetables, but I don't think it really matters. I do think it matters that the vegetables are all put on the rice separately - in otherwords, no mixing them all together to cook. And it all tastes much better if it's made in a heavy stone or cast-iron bowl so the rice can get crispy. We have ceramic and glass bowls which don't get the rice crispy, but they do make for a nice presentation.

We had brown rice, so that's what I used. I steamed carrots, sauteed mushrooms, fake meat and cucumber (yes, cucumber) and of course, all separately, and then added sprouts. Spinach probably would have been good too, but I forgot I had any until after the fact. I fried up an egg (you have to leave the yolk runny) added a serious amount of hot sauce (Sriracha is mildly addictive).


Note to Self

Before buying an 18 pound watermelon - check to see if husband will eat any.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What I Learned Last Week

I learned an unexpected lesson last week. I learned that it is possible to eat too much macaroni and cheese. If someone would have asked me two weeks ago if it was possible, I would have said that theoretically, it might be possible but that I couldn't realistically understand how it could be done.

And then we spent last week at camp - at a camp with good food. The dairy meals were excellent and the vegetarian options during the meat meals were pretty good too. And the best part was that they served mac 'n cheese twice during my five days there. The first time it was excellent. I've never thought of mac 'n cheese as being flawless, but this was. They clearly started with a roux, and while I have no idea what they did next, I'm pretty sure it included really good cheese. The second time it was very good, but not excellent. I think I ate too much in the pursuit of finding an excellent portion. I did not. But I did learn an unexpected lesson.

The Front of the Plane

When I fly internationally, I always sit in coach. It's never been an option to move into business class. I've been lucky the last few flights to even have a window seat.

And when I fly domestically, it's usually from the Midwest to somewhere on the East Coast. Nothing usually more than about 90 minutes or so. And then, really, you can sit anywhere in the plane. I hate sitting in the back because I don't have the patience to wait for everyone else to get off, but really, you can sit anywhere for less than two hours, even squished in a middle seat between two sumo wrestlers.

Lately though, I've been trying to work down my AirTran credits. I flew a lot last year, almost all on AirTran and my credits are starting to expire. It only takes four credits to upgrade to business class and I think I've done that for most of my last five or six flights. It's a little bit of a waste for a short flight, but it's use them or lose them, and I figure they were given to me to use.

So what I've learned is that while I can definitely sit in coach and have no issues doing so, it's still nicer to sit in business class. The biggest differences - a bigger tray table and enough space so that you can use a computer or do some writing without sticking your elbows into the person next to you. There's probably even more leg room, but I'm short and how much leg room can a short person use?! The other good part is that there is a bathroom up front that is theoretically reserved for the 12 people sitting in the front of the plane. I'm fairly certain it is no larger than the one in the back of the plane for the other 126 people, but the idea that it's more available is a nice one.

Alas, AirTran flies from Chicago but not directly to any of the places I generally need to go. I need two more round-trips before April to get another year's worth of Elite status, which is nice to have even if I can't use it, so I'm sure I'll take at least another two trips. The question will be whether I still have enough credits left to sit in the front of the plane....

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Psychological Testing at Midway Airport

I was put through an arduous experiment last week at Midway Airport that was designed to measure anxiety levels. Strangely, no one ever asked me to sign a human testing waiver.

First, at 9am on a Friday morning, the security lines were as long as I've ever seen them. And the distinctions between the Family, Casual Traveler, and Business lanes were non-existant. But the Business lane was on the right and I didn't see quite as many families in line, so I took my chances there. It didn't matter. It still took me 15 minutes for anyone to even look at my ID.

And then it's the great guessing game - which magnometer line to enter. There were too many families in most of the lines - and that always means it takes longer. Most of the lines seemed to have about 10 people waiting, which isn't horrible, just annoying. And I'm not sure why, but usually the lines on the right side of the security set up at Midway are actually faster. So I went to the right.

We were all the way against the wall and it was taking a very long time to even approach the main line of machines. Something seemed wrong. When we got to the corner of the wall, the experiment became clear. We were not being directed into the machines on the right side of the security set-up, we were being sent to the machines in the way far away right side. Seriously, there was an entire TSA conference room in between the machines that were not being used and where we were headed. There were a good 60 -75 people in line in front of me.

I remain fairly certain that the 20 minutes it took us to get to the magnometer was a sick psychological experiment designed to make us crazy. That, and the people who were in line so long they risked missing their flights and so thought it was okay to cut in front of the rest of us. It was okay, because they shouldn't have to miss their flights, but the line should not have been so long as to put any of us in that situation to begin with.

Needless to say, everyone's anxiety level was higher than the security threat levels. Way beyond orange, that's for sure.

And, by the time I got through the whole line, no one asked me to sign a waiver. I'm pretty sure there's a law against this!