Hump Day Brain Dump: Podcast Nuggets and this Weird Dog

I keep waiting for that summer slow-down at work, but things are still coming fast and furious and it doesn’t seem like it’s about to let up anytime soon. The good news is that I’ll be done with grad school in 3 weeks and then I can actually have a life again!

In honor of this being a week of crazy, and because my capacity to form well-organized thoughts is lacking, I’m brain dumping at you today.

Incidentally, I was going to title this post “Hump Day Dump”, but I figured you’d all accuse me of making poop jokes again, so I thought I’d spare us all.

1. The Brain Dump idea is on…my brain lately

This quarter I’m taking a class in Public Persuasion, and one of the exercises that we’ve done includes starting with a prompt and writing fast and without stopping for a set amount of time (say 10 minutes). While I joked with some of my cohort that we’re paying $2000/day to learn how to journal, I can’t express enough how much I have gained from practicing this kind of writing.

The idea behind the exercise is that as you continue to write whatever pops into your mind as quickly as you can, you stop censoring yourself and you can come up with insights that were previously locked up somewhere in the deep recesses of your brain. It’s amazing how inhibited our everyday/work-email writing tends to be.

If you’re interested in learning more about it, check out Mark Levy’s book, Accidental Genius.

(Not a sponsored post, Mark Levy doesn’t know me, and that’s not an affiliate link. Over and out.)

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2. My “new thing” is listening to podcasts while I walk

My commute to work involves a 3/4 mile walk each way and I also try to get out and take a walk at lunchtime whenever possible, so I manage to find quite a bit of time on my feet for an office-dweller. I’ve decided that there is so much content out there just waiting to be heard that I put on a podcast most of the time I’m walking. I’ve been jumping around between podcasts a lot, so I can’t say that I really have a favorite, but here’s a sampling of some that I’ve enjoyed:

  • Invisibilia (produced by NPR) – concerning the unseen forces in our lives that determine why we do and think what we…do and think. Really interesting if you like thinking about the brain from a psychological perspective.
  • Planet Money (also produced by NPR) – quick episodes on economic/financial/miscellaneous money matters. These are lighthearted and, like I said, quick, but I always feel like I learned an interesting tidbit.
  • The Tim Ferris Show – Tim interviews various successful professionals (they are often names you’d know) and gleans from them some of the tricks they use to heighten their success. Motivational to the max.
  • Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! (also produced by NPR…jeez, maybe I should go work at NPR since I’m obviously such a fan!) – A weekly radio show, converted into podcast format. A look at this week’s news through the lens of fart jokes. Sort of. Just plain funny.

Oh, and sometimes if I’ve had a particularly stressful day I will turn the podcasts off and call my mom to whine – you guys do that, too, right? (Sorry, Mom..)

3. Sonia Sotomayor’s take on why baseball is awesome is…well, awesome

Politics and whatnot aside, this justice loves baseball and it’s awesome. She was featured on a recent episode of How To Do Everything, which is another fun podcast, and her explanation went something like this (I’m paraphrasing here):

Baseball isn’t boring. The great thing about baseball is that it’s not over until the last out. Sometimes I watch a basketball game and halfway through you know what the result of the game is going to be, and THAT is boring.

I could not agree more.

4. One of my dogs thinks he’s a human child, and a weird one at that

Look at this face.

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That’s Gus. Sitting on the couch. Looking at me all, “What? I’m comfortable, I don’t want to get up to come eat my breakfast. Also, can you change the channel to my stories?”

I tell you. We’re raising a monster. A cute monster.

That’s all for tonight. Hope you’re having a great week, and happy Friday Eve Eve!

First Annual Girls Trip (Denver)

Here’s a fun fact about me.

Until about a year and a half ago, I didn’t understand why anyone would have a fear of flying in an airplane, especially in a commercial jet. This is interesting coming from ME, the girl with the crippling fear of heights, but it’s true. I just didn’t get it.

I flew on airplanes with my family as a kid at least a few times per year, and the worst part of the experience was always the wait in the airport (which was usually anywhere from 2-8 days considering how early my mother insists on arriving at the airport. Love you, Mom!). As a young adult, I flew back and forth between Chicago (home) and Boston (college) many times without much incident.

But then, last year. Oooh, last year. I was flying home from a conference in Florida and our plane was routed over a major storm in Atlanta. We hit turbulence that would have made you think you were on a rollercoaster. And it lasted for 15 minutes straight. Drinks went flying, people clung to their significant others as I imagine Jack would have clung to Rose had they been on an airplane instead of a door floating in the frigid ocean.

You guys, it was the pits. And ever since then, flying isn’t my super awesome favorite thing anymore.

But I’m not willing to abandon it. No sir, I’m powering through.

And that’s just what I did this past weekend to get myself to Denver to hang out with these ones.

image1That’s Jenny, Sara, and Amber (from left to right) and my big honkin’ face taking up most of the frame standing on Larimer Street. They leave those lights up all year and it’s really very pretty.

Only Sara lives in Denver (the rest of us live in Chicago), but we’ve decided that since real-life adulthood takes you across the country and away from your friends, we should fight reality and arrange an annual girls’ trip.

I know, we’re so special. We also decided that we’re the Golden Girls and pretty soon we’ll be shacking up somewhere warm and humid. We even have character assignments. (100 points if you can guess which Girl I am)

Even though this trip was short, we managed to squeeze in some quality meals. Sunday night we dined at ChoLon which was a special request of Jenny’s as she had eaten there before. Apparently they had some onion soup dumpling something-or-other that was worth a repeat trip.

image8Uh, yeah. See that little dumpling in the back there? That’s the French Onion Soup Dumpling. I need to research how to make these. They look humble from the outside, but there’s a bite of soup (gruyère and all) inside and it’s a thing of beauty.

Oh and that’s a pork belly steamed bun up front, in case you were wondering.

And the little bean sprouts and remnants of sauce underneath it? That’s what happens when I decided this was too big to eat in one bite:

image7There was a lot of destruction when I tried to cut one in half. Just don’t do it. Be brave, do it in one bite.

We had a few other shared plates as well – all good, I highly recommend the joint.

After that we walked over to the revamped Union Station for ice cream.

image4Chocolate cheesecake brownie.

Yeah, the “clean eating” thing is going really well, thanks for asking!

Even though the trip was only a few short days, it was so good to kick back and relax with my friends. Sara also rented us a condo (via Airbnb, I believe), which was perfect.

Mostly because we had two bathrooms.

I’m so easy to please.

Til next time, girls!

On My Plate This Week

Whooooooooof.

Why is it that a long holiday weekend makes coming back for a full week of work seem next to impossible? Getting back into the groove of things is such a struggle, especially after a relaxing weekend. That’s alright, it’s already Wednesday. We can do this.

Plus, it’s Shark Week!

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Yeah, I know. That onesie.

Truth be told, I haven’t been cooking up much these days. Last week I got hit hard with some kind of flu/fever/stomach gremlin situation and didn’t eat much of anything. Then it was 4th of July so mostly I was eating things that came out of a package and went straight onto a grill. (Because ‘Murica).

And I’m headed to Denver next week to visit this one for a little girls’ trip so my guess is that food will be of the indulgent sort.

But good news – Sara rented a condo with a pool, and the weather looks like it’s going to cooperate!

weather captureBut I thought I’d pop in anyway to fill you in on some goings-ons and things I’m digging lately.

For one, cabbage. I like coleslaw. I like braised cabbage. I like cabbage as a garnish or mixed into a salad.

Lately I’ve been really into this:

  1. Big handful of shredded green cabbage (I buy the pre-shredded bag at Trader Joe’s)
  2. Add a smaller handful of shredded carrots (again, pre-shredded)
  3. Sprinkle lightly with salt and toss it around with your hands (or better yet, throw it in a food storage container and shake it violently), and let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Add a splash of apple cider (or white) vinegar, and a big-ish pinch of plain ol’ sugar. Toss again.
  5. Add a tablespoon of grapeseed oil and a pinch of black pepper, toss again.

Ta da! Easiest cabbage salad ever. And the mayo-haters will appreciate your efforts. Although, we all know how I feel about mayo-haters. They’re unnatural beings and should be shunned from society.

No? Too strong?

Ok, what else.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve been trying to clean up my dinner game (see above: we can all tell how well that‘s going), and a current favorite is prosciutto wrapped around green veggies and roasted.

Again, super easy: just wrap a slice around a small bunch of asparagus or green beans and roast at 400° for about 20 minutes.

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And if you line your baking sheet with foil – look Ma, no clean up!

I’ve also been really into ground turkey lately, as evidenced by above photo. Not sure what that’s about, since I usually like ground beef better. I’ll blame the summer…since you know, turkey’s lighter. And it’s hot out. Yep. Makes sense.

Alright, I’m out of here. I have some serious shark week viewing to attend to.