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May 21, 2017

Goal 11: Compete in a cooking contest – DONE!

Goal #11 Compete in a cooking contest – Done!
Submitted this Chicken Stroganoff recipe to a contest.

 

INGREDIENTS
– 1 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 ½ lbs of Chicken breasts
– Salt & Pepper
– 2 teaspoons of Paprika
– 1 large red onion, sliced
– 1 tablespoon minced garlic
– 1 cup of Creme fraiche or sour cream
– 2 (8-oz.) pkg. presliced cremini mushrooms
– 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
– 1 cup dry white wine
– 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, and more for garnish.
– 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
– 1 tablespoon of Dijion mustard
– 1 tablespoon of Butter
– 8 ounces uncooked wide egg noodles

DIRECTIONS
1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in Dutch oven or any other heavy bottom skillet at medium high heat
3. When the oil is hot, place chicken in Dutch oven to sear, about 3-4 mins for each side. Remove and set aside. Let stand for at least 5 mins. Cut into strips.
4. Add mushrooms to Dutch oven. Saute for about 10 mins, until the mushrooms have released liquid and started browning.
5. Add onions, saute for about 3-4 mins, until soft.
6. Add garlic, and stir for 1 min.
7. Add white wine, and deglaze any browned bits that are stuck to the Dutch oven.
8. Add chicken stock, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium low.
9. Add chicken and any juice from the plate. Cook for another 10 mins until everything is heated through.
10. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Off the heat, add butter and stir to melt.
11. Add creme fraiche, and parsley to the Stroganoff. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
12. Serve over egg noodles. Garnish with parsley.

January 2, 2017

About 3 months left!

It’s the beginning of 2017, and it’s about 3 months or so away from my 45th birthday, so this is a good time to have a review of my project so far. Of the 45 things:

  • Completed: 30
    Tango in Buenos Aires (completed: 18th March, 2016)
  • See a football match at Estádio do Maracanã, Rio, Brazil (completed: 14th August, 2013)
  • Practice yoga in India (completed: 17th November, 2013)
  • Dine at Noma (Chef René Redzepi), Copenhagen, Denmark (completed: 10th September, 2014)
  • Eat Tai Ping Koon’s Portuguese Chicken, Hong Kong (my childhood favorite) (completed: 18th March, 2015)
  • Try vegetarianism for a month (completed: 1st March, 2013)
  • Get tenure or promotion (completed: 1st August, 2014)
  • Give a kickass presentation (completed)
  • Learn Thai massage (completed: 9th May, 2014)
  • Be confident (and proficient) in driving a stick shift (completed: 5th March, 2016)
  • Learn how to iron a shirt (trousers and jackets would a bonus) (blog posts) (completed: 18th May, 2015)
  • Be comfortable at at least one ballroom dance (completed: 18th March, 2016)
    Learn CPR (completed: 24th April, 2013)
  • Conquer the fear of doing a handstand (completed: 5th May, 2015)
  • Jump out of a plane (preferably with a parachute) (completed: 21st March, 2013)
  • Give camping a try (completed: 23rd December, 2014)
  • Give Thai massage to at least 5 people (for free) (completed: 6th, June, 2014)
  • Give money to RadioLab at least once a year (completed: 11th December, 2012)
  • Mentor someone (Started and now ongoing)
  • Volunteer for worthy causes (blog post) (completed: 21st October, 2015)
  • Be aware of praiseworthy situations and efforts, and pay sincere compliments to people
  • Create a photo-essay or a video-essay (amended June, 2013) (completed: 14th June, 2013)
  • Be able to do splits (completed: 21st March, 2014)
  • Completely revamp my wardrobe (Completed 1st, January 2017)
  • Run a 5K (completed: 31st August, 2013)
  • Play Football Manager for 80 hours (=2 work weeks’ worth) (Completed 2nd, January, 2017)
  • Hold a baby panda while wearing my panda t-shirt (and take a picture of this special occasion) (completed: 21st October, 2015)
  • Value chance encounters and take initiatives to get to know interesting people (Completed)
  • See Leo Messi play in person (completed: 10th June, 2016)
  • Have my portrait painted Have myself 3D printed (amended May, 2015) (completed: 21st July, 2015)

Planning to complete before 45th birthday: 4

  • Create my own gourmet 5-course meal and serve it to friends
  • Compete in a cooking contest
  • Record an audio book.
  • Achieve and maintain ideal weight

Planning to complete during my 45th year: 6

  • Visit all 50 states in the US
  • Visit parents’ hometowns
  • Earn an additional graduate degree
  • Become an expert in multiple disciplines – Publish articles or present at conferences in 5 different fields.
  • Learn 150 interesting words
  • Skiing

No idea when: 5

  • Set foot on all 7 continents
  • Publish a short story
  • Write a screenplay
  • Write a book
  • Successfully start a slow clap

 

 

 

May 5, 2015

Progress Report: May 2015

8. Eat Tai Ping Koon’s Portuguese Chicken, Hong Kong (my childhood favorite) – CHECK!

 

 

 

 

2015-03-18 12.56.14

 

 

It was still good! Food memory is such a powerful thing. It totally brought me back to my childhood eating that Portuguese Chicken.

 

 

23. Conquer the fear of doing a handstand – CHECK!

IMG_5891

 

 

 

Practicing handstand this morning before the library opens. Still not great at it at all. I could only hold it for a few seconds. But the fear of going upside down is pretty manageable now, which was the original goal.

September 29, 2014

Goal #7: Dine at Noma – CHECK!

Goal #7. Dine at Noma (Chef René Redzepi), Copenhagen, Denmark – COMPLETED September 10th, 2014.

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It was the most amazing dining experience I’ve ever had for sure. 25 courses, about 10 glasses of wine and champagne, and a fruity espresso later, it has completed transformed the way I think about culinary art.

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I even got to tour their kitchen and their R&D Lab!

June 6, 2014

Progress Report: June 2014

Goal #7. Dine at Noma (Chef René Redzepi), Copenhagen, Denmark.

Noma has reclaimed the no.1 restaurant in the world title this year.

Third time’s the charm. Got out of bed at 3am to book a table at Noma. I’ve learned from past experience. You have to be at the booking site just a little bit before it opens and they assign you a random number in line to get in. I was the 135th person to get in. Phew! There were more than a 1200 people in line! I was so excited, I couldn’t fall back asleep for a long time! 

The reservation is for September 10, 2014, which means I have to go to the EuroSense Conference in Copenhagen. I just hope the presentation proposal gets accepted.

2014-06-02 08.50.28

 

Goal # 16 – Learn Thai Massage  – COMPLETED May 9th, 2014

It was an intense 5 day. At least 8 hrs a day of class, and then another couple of hours of practice every night.

2014-05-09 18.11.40

Goal #27: Give Thai massage to at least 5 people (for free). – COMPLETED June 6th, 2014.

I have actually given massage 6 times to 5 people, including my masseuse, as I wanted some professional feedback. It seems that everyone really liked it. My masseuse even offered me to work at her place. I’m seriously considering it!

Giving a Thai massage is actually hard work. In many ways, you’re helping the receive do yoga as you put them into many yoga poses. But at the same time, the practitioner is also doing a kind of therapeutic, yoga-like exercise. There is a neat little article in the American Massage Therapy Association website recently, which says, “Even though Thai massage requires specific physical strength, stamina and flexibility of the practitioner, the focus on good body mechanics, alignment, stretching with gravity, and mindful breath can actually help the practitioner develop the very qualities it requires. ”

 

 

 

March 31, 2013

Jumping out of a plane and other progress updates

Goal #24 Jump out of a plane (preferably with a parachute) – COMPLETED!!

SKydive

Jumping out of a plane at 14,000 ft on my 41st birthday (with Bob). Deland, Florida.

All I can say about that 1 second when you jump out of plane for the first time is, it’s freaking surreal!

I wasn’t scared at all. I wasn’t even nervous. I was surprisingly calm for someone who’s about to leap off a flying plane for the 1st time. I felt that way mainly because of my complete trust in my tandem buddy, Bob Crossman (of Skydive Deland). He has jumped more than 9500 times, and he made me feel very safe throughout. I met Bob on a yoga retreat with his fiancé, Kathryn Budig. When I told him about this goal, he explained the whole process to me. By understanding what actually goes on really helped me dispel the initial fear. Bob was also so welcoming and friendly that I knew I want to jump with him.

That being said, when we leaped off, it was “OH MY GOD, THIS IS CRAZY!!!” and then, “oooohh, this is reeeeally cool….”. It was the most liberating feeling ever. The free fall was indescribably awesome. It was a complete sensory overload, but in a very good way. I was a like puppy sticking his head out of a driving car for the 1st time. I was like, “weeeeeeeee….”. I wanted it to last forever (so it was a good thing that Bob was strapped to me to open the parachute!). The gliding after the parachute was opened was actually more scary to me than the free fall.

This goal is listed under “Courage”. I think my perspective has changed after jumping off a plane at 14,000 feet. I actually do feel more courageous now. 🙂 Sometimes you have to take a leap to live your life. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I am so glad I did it.

Some thoughts on some of the goals

I knew when I made the list that some goals would be difficult to measure and there wouldn’t really be a “mission accomplished” state, such as Goal #31 Be aware of praiseworthy situations and efforts, and pay sincere compliments to people. I was willing to give it a go because I really did want to become someone who proactively gives sincere compliments to people. It makes people happy, you know. However, this is proving to be more difficult than expected, simply because I don’t always remember this goal, and it is not my habit to praise people often (hence this goal). I think this kind of behavioral change requires constant reminding, and I am not doing a good job of it. After all, it’s not as straightforward as, for example, visiting 50 states. or skydiving.

In fact, after more than 8 months of living this project, I am getting a much better perspective of how some goals are not set up the right way, such as this one, or Goal #42 Value chance encounters and take initiatives to get to know interesting people. In theory, it’s a good intention. But in practice it’s frustrating not to be able to “cross it off”, so to speak. Another one is Goal #21 Learn CPR. After listening to a RadioLab podcast about how low the success rate is of applying CPR (around 3%), and how often the person (the non-pros) who applies the CPR end up cracking the ribs of the patient, I am now having second thoughts of this goal. Is it worth learning something that is not that useful? And would I feel comfortable or confident enough to apply it after learning it? I think I will give the list a whole year before amending or changing any of the goals. But I am thinking about a few of them.

Other progress updates:

Goal #1. Visit all 50 states in the US

41st birthday road trip 2013

My 41st birthday/Spring Break road trip. (3/16/2013-3/23/2013)

On my week-long birthday road trip, I hit 3 new states: North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi. It was a LOT of driving. I also ate at 9 restaurants featured on the Food Network show, Diners Drive-ins and Dives (it’s a mini-project of mine which started simply because I saw on the show a place called, Leo’s BBQ. I went that one and the rest is history. I have now been to more than 70!). I also met up with friends along the way, celebrated my birthday with them, which was the best part of the whole trip.

I have 11 more states to visit to complete this goal:

  1. Alaska
  2. Delaware
  3. Idaho
  4. Iowa
  5. Kentucky (going there in August to present at a library conference)
  6. Montana
  7. North Dakota (possibly in the fall when I present at the South Dakota conference)
  8. South Dakota (going there in the fall for a library conference)
  9. Utah
  10. Wisconsin
  11. Wyoming

My target is to visit 3 more states by the end of the year. Most likely they will be South Dakota, North Dakota, and Kentucky.

2013-03-31 00.13.53

Clockwise from top left corner: at Penguin Drive-ins in Charlotte, NC; South Carolina Welcome Center; North Carolina BBQ; in Mississippi.

Goal #5 Practice yoga in India

The news is, we (the sensory analysis group) will be going to India during the Thanksgiving week this year!! That’s all I know for now. But, soooo excited!!!

Goal #7 Dine at Noma (Chef René Redzepi), Copenhagen, Denmark

Oh I tried. I wanted to go to Copenhagen before my Rome conference. So I tried to make a reservation when their online reservation opened.  The tables on the dates I wanted were booked within minutes. Ugh! I read that there were cases of food poisoning at Noma recently. I was really hoping for cancellations. No such luck. This goal is proving to be quite difficult.

Goal #13 Get tenure

I got my official reappointment letter for 2013-2014! So, yippy! I still have a job.  Two more tenure and promotion reviews to go. If everything goes smoothly, I will go up for tenure in October 2014.

Goal #18 Learn a new word every week and use that word at least 5 times that week

I have been a bit lazy on learning new words. But, still some interesting ones.

hypnopompic (adj) – Of or pertaining to the semiconscious state prior to complete wakefulness.

lollapalooza (noun) – an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event.

bibelot (noun) – a small object of curiosity, beauty, or rarity.

This is another goal that I am thinking about modifying. I keep forgetting to do it every week. Routine doesn’t work well for me on a long term basis. I am considering changing it to something like, learn 100 new words by my 45th birthday. What do you think?

Goal #19 Learn how to iron a shirt (trousers and jackets would a bonus)

I haven’t started learning it yet but I am starting my research on good tutorials. And I found this awesome one.

Goal #36 Achieve and maintain ideal weight

As of March 14, 2013, I weighed 205.5 lbs, which means I have lost 37.5lbs since Dec.,27,  2011.  The weight loss has slowed down a lot, but I feel that this is the healthy way to get to my target weight range of 180-190lbs.

Disclaimer: I stepped on the scale before my week-long birthday/Spring Break Diners Drive-ins and Dives road trip. I didn’t practice as much yoga since 3/14 because of the crazy schedule of late. It’s very likely that I have to gained a few pounds back. I plan to step on the scale once a month, which will be the week of 4/18. I still have a couple of weeks to get back in shape. 🙂

Goal #43 See Leo Messi play in person

When I was younger, I never got to see Deigo Maradona play in person, and it’s always been a regret. There have been great players since him, but it is only until now that we have Lionel Messi, who could really be compared to Maradona. Messi dribbling in full flight is thing of true  beauty, and I want to see that in person. This goal is listed under “no regrets”.

I will be presenting at a conference in Rome, Italy in June. Messi plays for Barcelona. Barcelona play their final home match (vs Malaga) on June 1st. Most likely, they will have won the league before then, but I think there will be a great celebration at the stadium after the final whistle of the season. Therefore, I am going to Barcelona before my conference (ticket booked!!!). Now, I just need to find a ticket for that match (it’s not easy to come by), and hope that Messi stays injury-free.

March 1, 2013

Goal #10 Try vegetarianism for a month – Check

So 28 days came and went just like that,  and I was a vegetarian for a month. It was actually much easier than I expected. I think it’s mainly because there’s an end date. I knew I could go back to eating meat again on March 1st (which I did. I had a meatball sub for lunch and it was delicious!).

Upon reflection, here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  • Restaurants in the Manhattan, KS area have very very limited options for vegetarians. I really feel for the true vegetarians in this area. 
  • I thought I would try a lot new vegetables this month, but ended up not doing it as much as I would like. My schedule was a bit crazy this semester and I just didn’t have enough time to find good recipes. I did give kale a try, since I have read so much about how “super” it is. I didn’t like it at first. It was too bitter, and soapy. But then after talking to some people, I tried it again. I used it in an Italian style vegetable soup, which has some sweetness in it, and counterbalanced the bitterness of kale quite well.
  • I made a butternut squash mac and cheese. Basically, I used pureed butternut squash as a substitute for a lot of the cheese in a traditional mac and cheese. It’s a healthy dish, but the conclusion was, I would rather be unhealthy and have a real mac and cheese (with real cheese). 
  • I lost 2 pounds this month. Before the month, I thought I would lose more weight than that. During the month, I thought I would actually gain weight because I found myself eating a lot of carbs and cheese! So, in the end losing 2 lbs is actually a pretty decent result.
  • Of all the new vegetarian recipes I’ve tried, this is my favorite: America Test Kitchen’s Vegetable Lasagna (video)
  • I will most likely eat less meat in my regular diet now. In fact, I would like to do this (vegetarian for a month) once every year to cleanse my system. 

 Here is a gallery of every single meal I had this month: 

February 4, 2013

2013 Progress Update #2

Goal #10 Try vegetarianism for a month (happening right now)

2013-02-01 22.24.00

Day 1: apple; beans soup, tandoori paneer masala, gulab jamam, veggie burger with grilled veggies.

This is happening right now! Feburary, 2013 is THE month. Of course I would pick the shortest month in a non-leap year to try this, despite many friends telling me to pick a summer month to get better and more variety of vegetables.

I grew up eating meat or seafood as the main component of any meal, and I don’t think I have ever gone more than 3 days without either. So this is a challenge for sure. I am on day 4 right now, which means I have already broken my own personal record! So far, it’s hasn’t been that difficult. (It’s definitely easier than quitting smoking). I think it’s because for the past year or so, I have really been trying to live a healthy lifestyle, especially since I started practicing yoga regularly. It is only when I look at the menus of the restaurants in town that I really realize how difficult it is for true vegetarians to eat out here. 

2013-02-02 20.13.01

Day 2: banana; fruits & Luna bar; pad see ewe with tofu; Thai spring rolls.

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Day 3: oatmeal, veggie pizza, broccoli & tofu panang curry.

Goal #36 Achieve and maintain ideal weight

I think this is the most difficult goal of them all. Losing weight has never been easy for me. I have said that it’s more difficult than quitting smoking (which is my benchmark of doing anything difficult). If I could achieve this goal, I would rank this as the greatest accomplishment of my life.

Since 12/2012, I have lost 33 pounds, which is absolutely amazing. But I lost most of those pounds at the beginning, in the first 6 months or so. The progress was so much slower, if at all, towards the end of the year. I am still about 25 pounds off my target weight.

I figure that, like most people, I tend to have more will power, or motivation at the beginning of the year, so I must take advantage of it. The New Year yoga retreat that I went on definitely made a positive impact. It was so great to practice yoga almost 3 hrs a day and ate such healthy and yummy food (and had them prepared for you every single meal). It was the perfect kick start to this year to get this goal back on track. The yoga challenge at Orange Sky Yoga (going to at least 5 classes/week) gives me extra motivation. Not that losing weight is the reason I go to yoga. It’s just a very nice bonus.

I am hoping that this month of vegetarianism is going to help too. But all in all, I am very pleased with the progress so far. I mean, look at the 2 pics below. The photo on the left was taken on April 7, 2012, when I went to Tiffany Cruikshank’s yoga workshop in Wichita the first time. At the time, I just started going to yoga classes, for maybe 2 months. The photo on the right was taken on Feb 2, 2013, when I went to Tiffany’s workshop again. Maybe I should set the deadline of getting to my target weight by the time Tiffany visits Kansas again next year, and take another picture with her. 🙂

2013-02-02 20.54.33

April 7, 2012 vs Feb 2, 2013

Goal #42 Value chance encounters and take initiatives to get to know interesting people

Tulum

Tulum yoga retreat

Over the years, I have grown to really enjoy meeting new people, as often as possible. I think it’s partly because I was so shy as a kid and that I feel like I need to make up for lost time.

One thing I have learned this past year: I really like meeting yogis. Albeit with a small sample size, almost every yoga person I have met is kind and supportive. And I love getting to know them. For example, I went on a one-week new year yoga retreat on my own, not knowing anyone there. (That’s something the younger me would never do). I really didn’t know what to expect (which was part of the fun). I ended up meeting the most wonderful group of people there (picture gallery of the trip here). As a naturally curious person, I like to hear other people’s stories, especially stories that are unexpected or different from mine, hence this goal. And I got to hear many interesting stories there in Tulum. How often do you get to meet 19 strangers that you actually like? 

With the internet, I see no reason not to keep in touch with people nowadays. I even reconnected with my first girlfriend recently after 22 years of not knowing where each other was! But that’s another story. 🙂 The point is, I hope to keep in touch with this group of new friends and see them again in the future. Another New Year retreat would be great!

Goal #15 Become an expert in multiple disciplines – Publish articles or present at conferences in 5 different fields.

I have presented on film studies at a screenwriting conference; cultural studies at an American culture/popular culture conference. For my day job,  I have also published several articles and presented at various conferences on librarianship. So, I need to present/publish on 2 more disciplines to accomplish this goal. I am currently developing a yoga and emotions research project that could be appropriate for either sensory science or sports science/kinesiology. It’s still in an early design stage. The good news is when I mentioned the concept to several yoga teachers at the yoga retreat, they all showed interests in possibly participating in the research. I am hoping to have the design ready by summer time. I am actually very excited about this project! It’s fun to research something you’re actually interested in.

Goal #23 – Conquer the fear of doing a handstand

2013-01-23 17.41.41

Practicing at home

I definitely had a mini-break through at the yoga retreat in Tulum with Kathryn Budig, who gave us plenty of useful tips. The remaining part is of course practice, practice and practice. I am at the point where I’m getting more comfortable kicking up to handstand against the wall. Balancing is still a problem. The fear of kicking too hard and go from handstand to savasana is still very much there. The Tiffany Cruikshank inversion workshop helped, and I learned more about the mechanics of the pose. The game plan is to keep practicing close to the wall until I get the balance right.

Goal #18 Learn a new word every week and use that word 5 times that week

I have to admit, sometimes I forget. Either I forget to pick a new word for the week, or use it 5 times. That’s the difficult part about having a goal that is “on-going”. But still, I am growing my vocabulary much more than if I hadn’t set this goal. I think that’s what counts.

Here are some of the words I have learned:

Franchise – the right to vote.

Disbosom – to reveal; confess.

Potvaliancy (noun) – Brave only as a result of being drunk.

Empurple – To color or become purple or purplish.

Algid (adj.) – cold; chilly.

Compotation – an act or instance of drinking or tippling together.

Exordium – the beginning of anything.

Pseudology – Lying considered as an art.

Kibitzer – a giver of uninvited or unwanted advice.

Goal #1 Visit all 50 States.

Visited Portland on 1/24/2013. Even though I spent less than 24 hrs there, I was able to try a homemade chai soda at Blueplate Lunch Counter and Soda Fountain, grilled cheese at Byways Cafe (#60, and #61 Diners Drive-ins and Dives I visited); went to a refreshing noon-time vinyasa yoga class at Yoga Pearl, and had coffee at Prasad; walked around the Pearl District and the Alphabet District for hours. I would say it was a good, productive travel day. I didn’t get to eat at Pok Pok like I planned to, cause it was a bit too far away. Maybe next time. With Oregon crossed off the list, I now have 14 more states to visit to accomplish this goal.

2013-02-03 14.42.07

Clockwise from top left: Blueplate Lunch Counter & Soda Fountain; Byways Cafe; Yoga Pearl; Prasad.

Goal #13 Get tenure

Final tenure review is fall, 2014. I just had my 4th year reappointment interview on 1/31/2013. I should find out soon whether I will still have a job or not. Fingers crossed. 

September 29, 2012

Progress Update: September, 2012

Goal #1 Visit 50 states (in progress)

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Kathryn Deiss, Michael Stephens, me, and Jenny Levine all loved R2!

I went to Telluride, Colorado for the Risk and Reward Library Conference (aka R2 Conference), which was hands down the best library conference I’ve ever attended. The entire conference challenged convention library thinking. Everything was planned and executed meticulously. It was such an exciting experience. However, while I was intrigued  when I first learned of the conference,  I actually spent quite a bit of time debating whether I should go or not because it would be an expensive trip (and Telluride isn’t exactly easy to get to). What pushed me over the edge was this goal #1 of my 45 things list. I had never been to Colorado before, and that did it. I was going! And I am so glad I drove 14hrs there (and 14 hrs back, in pouring rain no less!). Not only did I get so inspired by the ground breaking conference, I got to know so many cool people!

After checking off Colorado, I now have 15 states left to visit. Not sure which state I will get to go next though.

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Goal #10 Try vegetarianism for a month (in progress)

I’m still in preparation stage for this goal. Since as long as I can remember, a meal is not a complete meal unless it has some meat. And I love meat. So when I first set this goal, I thought it’s going to be a tough one. But as I gradually become more health conscious, this doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did. My plan is to do this in the summer next year.

I have been learning some new veggie recipes. And now I don’t absolutely need to eat meat for every single meal. Here are some of the veggie dishes I made in September:

Whole grain shell pasta with spinach and cherry tomatoes.

Apart from the Dutch oven, the immersion blender is my favorite kitchen purchase. I puree at every opportunity, and make a lot of soups now. 🙂

Curried Cauliflower and Carrot Soup

What I’d like to do is to learn how to cook more varieties of vegetables. It’s overwhelming to see so many different kinds of veggies that I have no idea what to do with!

Goal #12 Earn an additional graduate degree (in progress)

I am currently pursuing a PhD in Human Nutrition with an emphasis on Sensory Analysis and Consumer Evaluation at Kansas State University. Here is a description of the programs:

“Sensory Analysis & Consumer Behavior emphasizes issues affecting eating and other consumer product behaviors, and understanding methods for evaluating products from a sensory perspective. Students will integrate food science, physiology, psychology, business, and statistics to help provide insight into consumers’ needs and wants for products, services, and information that enhances their lives.”

I’m taking 1 -2 courses per semester while I work full time. It’s a balancing act, but I’m enjoying it. Expected completion date: 2016 Spring. A lot way to go…

Goal #14 Give a kickass presentation (in progress)

At the 2nd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) at Kansas City, I co-presented at a pre-conference workshop with 2 very well-established library deans, past-ALA President Camila Alire, and Dean of Marquette Library, Janice Welburn. It was a great experience to work with two such respected leaders of my profession.

I was ecstatic to learn that many people seemed to like our workshop and my presentation a lot, and the reviews I heard from other people were excellent. However, I’m using the best Ted Talks as my benchmark  for “kickass presentations” (so I’m setting the bar extremely high). With that in mind, there is obviously still plenty of room for improvement.  Also I’m keeping this item on the list because I feel that I need to give a solo “kickass presentation”.

Yay! Thank you, friends!

Goal #15 Become an expert in multiple disciplines – Publish articles or present at conferences in 5 different fields (in progress)

I have presented on film studies, library science and popular culture at conferences in the last few years (I’m still on the fence about pop culture counting as a “discipline”. Well, I supposed it could be considered cultural studies). In any case, I am now working on developing a sensory research project. The plan is to have something to present at next year Pangborn Conference in Rio, Brazil! This also ties in with my goal #4 See a football match at Estádio do Maracanã, Rio. I really hope the stadium renovation will be done by then.

Goal #18 Learn a new word every week and use that word at least 5 times that week (on-going)

1. Fabulist – 1. a person who invents or relates fables. 2.a liar.

Usage highlight: “I’m thinking about writing a screenplay called Fabulist Fabulist. It would be perfect for Jim Carey”.

2. Bathetic – displaying or characterized by bathos.

3. Harridan – a scolding, vicious woman; hag; shrew.

4. Ataraxia – a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety;tranquillity.

Goal #23 Conquer the fear of doing a handstand

September 26. 5:30am workout. Smiling upside down for the camera. 🙂

I have been to the Thursday Handstand/Inversion/Arm Balance workshop at Orange Sky Yoga 3 times now. The first session was all handstands. I was quite determined and made some progress. I managed to get upside down against the wall a few times.

The 2nd session also focused on handstand, but for some reason, the fear of hurting my shoulders kept creeping back, and I regressed. I couldn’t even jump up against the wall the entire time. Every time I tried to jump up, my shoulders would resist and hunch. It was very frustrating.

The 3rd one I went to was focused on Pincha Mayurasana (forearm balance), which is a difficult pose. Most people find it more difficult than handstand, but I am actually less fearful of it. But my goal isn’t to do pincha (damn it!), but handstand.

I began to incorporate some inversion practice into my Mon/Wed/Fri 5:30am workouts, and noticed some tiny progress. At least my shoulders can occasionally be relaxed enough to let my body rotate up. I can get some air time every once in a while, and getting my legs up against the wall is much easier now.

It is going to be a long process before I can do it in the middle of the room. I am still not confident doing headstand away from the wall. Baby steps at the moment.

Goal #36 Achieve and maintain ideal weight (in progress)

My starting weight: 243 lbs (on December 27, 2011).

Target weight: 184 lbs.

Current weight: 213 lbs (on September, 29, 2012)

Weight lost: 30 lbs.

I still have 29 more pounds to go before reaching my target weight, but I’m officially more than half way there!

Goal #37 Be able to do splits (in progress)

Hanumanasana on 9/26/2012. Progress is very slow.

Goal #42 Value chance encounters and take initiatives to get to know interesting people (on-going)

I met many awesome people at the R-Squared Conference and at JCLC. And I’m really glad I got to spend some time and got to know Michael Stephens, Jenny Levine in Telluride, and Azusa Tanaka in Kansas City. All very intriguing people that I’d love to stay in touch with.

with Azusa, who also has her own 50 states goal, at Woodyard BBQ. My favorite BBQ place in Kansas City.

 

Goal #44 Have my portrait painted (in progress)

I don’t think this counts. 🙂

September 25, 2012

My biggest culinary mistake

Goal #7. Dine at Noma (Chef René Redzepi), Copenhagen, Denmark

Entrance to Noma.

In 2009, I had the perfect opportunity to try René Redzepi‘s Noma Restaurant, which has been voted as the best restaurant in the world for many consecutive years. I was going to Copenhagen to present a paper at the International Conference on Screenwriting Research. But then I made the biggest culinary mistake so far in my life – I didn’t make my reservation for Noma immediately after I booked my flight. I waited. The restaurant would take reservation up to 3 months ahead. I waited one week too long. When I finally tried to book a table for one (2 months and 3 weeks ahead of time) , it was completely full. Ugh! Lesson learned.

‘Dessert of Flowers’ made with elderflower mousse, rose hip meringue, violet syrup, thyme fluid gel, and skyr sorbet.

 

So, what’s the big deal about this place? Take a look at this video of Chef Redzepi showing us how to cook an egg:

 

While people debate whether culinary art is really “Art”, I do see Redzepi as an artist. Going to Noma would be like going to an art film. I expect it to be challenging and stimulating, and not everyone’s cup of tea. At about 400 euros per person for the full menu + wines, it’s definitely not for everyone. It remains THE restaurant I most want to try. And I hope that when I go, I’ll get to go with people who will truly appreciate the experience. Anyone interested in joining me? 🙂 

 


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