Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Migraines Suck

This was the worst experience of my life.

Today I had a test at 11 AM. I have taken a lot of tests in my day and I consider myself a good test taker. I usually finish before everybody and I’m left looking around to make sure I didn’t go too fast. Then I wait until somebody else turns in their test so I don’t feel like I went to fast. Today’s test was for my Timber Structures class.

I had studied sufficiently for this particular test and I felt alright going in. I had woken up around 8, taken a shower, and even had breakfast, which for me is a rarity. I wanted to not be rushed, stressed, hungry, thirsty, or anything to hinder my test taking skills. I got to the classroom ten minutes early, sat down, and pulled out my calculator, pencil, and eraser. I was set up for success.

Dr. Bagheri got to the room and handed out the formula packet, which I thumbed through to familiarize myself with it. It looked normal, and I felt that my chances in passing increased with it in my hand.
She then handed out the test, which I promptly wrote my name on, as most people do.

Then it happened. The worst thing that could happen happened. I went blind. Well sort of. It’s called “aura.” Basically I see spots that fill my vision, much like someone gets when they come inside when it’s bright outside, except that it lasts a whole lot longer. I knew I was doomed.

Then I got the pre-migrainal arch. It’s a tingly feeling that starts in my right hand, moves up my arm into my face and then down my left arm and out my left hand. While the spot is in each place, I lose most strength in that area. So, gripping a pencil was next to impossible. Remember I was basically blind at the same time.

The worst part of the aura was that part of the test was reading tables with small tiny numbers. It would have been a breeze if I could just wing it by writing big things, but yeah, no. When the pre-migrainal arch moved to my mouth, my teeth started to chatter, which during a test is not allowed.

When I get a migraine, my body temperature fluctuates like crazy. So I started sweating. And then I was really really cold. Then I was burning up. Then I was freezing.

Somehow, someway, the aura left and I was able to crank through the test. I finished with no time left and was in a real weird state. I went home, spent some time losing weight and slept the day away.

It was the worst experience of my life. 

The FE Exam

On October 26, I need everyone in the world to be saying a prayer for me. I will be taking the FE exam. FE stands for Fundamentals of Engineering and if I pass it, I will officially be an Engineering Intern. Right after graduation this May, I can take the PE exam, and then with 4 years of experience I will be a Professional Engineer. When I am a PE, I can put my stamp on engineering drawings. As an engineering intern, I can work on those drawings. Eventually I want to take the SE exam and become a licensed Structural Engineer.

Needless to say, the FE is a big step in my career path.  It’s an 8 hour test (as is the PE; the SE is 16 hours long), given in two 4 hour blocks. The morning block is general engineering and the afternoon block is discipline specific, which for me is Civil.

Fortunately, I don’t have to memorize 800 formulas before I go in. I have a 200 page exam book to use with necessary formulas.

The breakdown of the test, and how I feel on each topic are as follows:

Morning Session:
Mathematics – 15%
                -Math isn’t the worst. It’s the basis of everything I do. The trouble could be in remembering exactly how to integrate some formula. I seem to forget that quite often.

Engineering Probability and Statistics – 7%
                -All I remember are bell curves which are standard deviation. Or something like that.

Chemistry – 9%
                -Oh, crap. Mass balances and… concentration maybe?

Computers – 7%
                -I use one every day, but how am I supposed to answer questions about them? The exam book says I need to know terminology, programming, and if analysis. All of that sounds like a piece of cake.

Ethics and Business Practices – 7%
                -What I remember of this is do whatever your client asks as long as its safe.

Engineering Economics – 8%
                -Oh I crushed this class. I got a 96% on the first test, a 98% on the second and didn’t have to take the final. Cash flows are my plaything.

Engineering Mechanics (Statics and Dynamics) – 10%
                -Ok, statics (analysis of loads on systems that don’t move) is my bread and butter. Dynamics is the bane of my existence. It is the hardest I have ever worked to barely pass a class. I got a 25% on the first test. Granted, the class average was 27%.

Strength of Materials – 7%
                -Also my bread and butter. I can kill it in this class. The only thing I need to seriously review is torque.

Material Properties – 7%
                -Chalk this one up as a loss.

Fluid Mechanics – 7%
                -I think this I could do this one. I know Bernoulli’s equation and the energy equation. Dr. Dennett has really helped me understand what I never learned in this class.

Electricity and Magnetism – 9%
                -I think this is why I’m taking circuits right now?

Thermodynamics – 7%
                -0º is cold. 500º is hot. I don’t think that’s what they’re testing though.

Afternoon Session:
Surveying – 11%
                - I had a week long module in my capstone design class a couple weeks ago, and the one day we did something, we stood out in a field with a stick and a GPS device that did all the work for us.

Hydraulics and Hydrologic Systems – 12%
                -Pipe networks, water things, dams, I think I have this down fairly well. More or less I’ve learned if the units check out, you’re doing something right.

Soil Mechanics and Foundations – 15%
                -I do not like soil mechanics or foundations. I don’t like dirt. I don’t like solving mud equations.

Environmental Engineering – 12%
                -We reviewed these problems on Monday, and if the units check out, I’m doing it right.

Transportation – 12%
                -This class was evil. I thought I was a genius all the way up until I took the test, and then I felt like a moron. Chalk this up as a loss.

Structrual Analysis – 10%
                -Oh once again my bread and butter. I should probably review virtual work and deflection, but I am not worried about this.

Structural Design -10%
                -Unfortunately I missed the review session for this tonight, but if I look at the codes and the handouts, I should be familiar enough with it to do well.

Construction Management – 10%
                -What the… I’ve never taken this class. Uh cranes, lift things. Concrete pourers, pour concrete. Build!

Materials – 8%
                -I did fairly well in this class, I liked playing with asphalt and concrete. In fact they should make this section a lab section, because that was fun.

Well, I hope I pass. I’m putting my lucky toonie in my pocket to better my chances. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Mighty T Rex Kills for a Mid-Afternoon Snack

I need to tackle an extremely important issue today. I find what I saw to be very disturbing and it bothered me enough that I need to let everyone know my views on the subject. It has to do with this bumper sticker I saw yesterday:
There was another bumper sticker on the car that was rainbow colored and said “Gay Pride,” indicating that there are lesbian mothers in this family. Now I don’t care whether or not there’s two moms in that family because they are gay or polygamist or whatever, that’s their own deal. I’m not here to debate whether that is right or wrong.

What I have a problem with is the math. Mom squared is not equal to two moms. When you square a number you do not simply add the number with itself. That would be 2Mom or Mom x 2 or 2(Mom) however you want to write it. When you square a number you multiply that number by itself. I have attached drawings/math proofs for you to better understand this:

“Mom” can be defined as a female parent, just like “dad” can be defined as a male parent. Therefore when you multiply a female parent by itself it becomes a freak with four arms, legs, eyeballs, ears. Kind of like a Siamese twin. So if these moms were trying to say that they’re Siamese twin moms then they said the right thing with this bumper sticker. More drawings are attached for further proof:

Please, lesbian moms that live in the Meadow Ghetto, change your bumper stickers to be mathematically correct. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Holy Writ

Today, I would like to talk to you about something holy.

“A man cannot own too many hats.” – Ted 3:4

These are my hats:

 All stacked up on my shelf in my room.

This is the hat for my favorite team, the Avalanche. I like the dark red. I take good care of it, because it looks real classy (unlike their play of late).

My parents bought me this Avalanche hat for christmas one year. I don’t like the low profile because I have a large head. Because of that, it is in good shape.

This hat was a Christmas present from someone really cool. It’s the Astros current home hat.

This, even though it looks the same as the previous hat, is a throwback Astros hat. I bought this in Florida, and it has a slight crook to the left side when I wear it. It’s a little dirty.

This is another throwback Astros hat. I bought this one in San Francisco with my mom. I had been looking for this one for years, and happened upon it in a random shop. I grew up with the navy and gold Astros uniforms. I like the gold a lot.

This is the first Astros hat I owned and it is very beat up. That’s what happens sometimes.

My parents bought me this Astros batting practice cap for Christmas one year.

This is the first Rockies hat I owned. It is 7 5/8, and a little tight. It usually gives me a headache when I wear it.

So I got this same hat, a 7 ¾. It is looser and doesn’t give me a headache. I would say this is my most worn hat.

This is the first piece of gear I had for Nevada. My grandparents sent me it when I got accepted into the University of Nevada. They were way excited for me to become a part of the Pack.

This is a hat I got at an Aces’ game. I like the old wolf logo.

I bought this hat in Camden Yards before the Orioles switched to this as their everyday hat. It was still a throwback then, and has subtle differences to what they wear now, such as the bird.

And no MLB insignia on the back. I love how this hat looks, especially the white panel, and the stitching along the rim of the front panel.

Sam Burdick bought me this hat, and I love it. Green is my favorite color, and I think the Kelly green and royal blue is a classy combination.

He bought it for me mostly because I had decided that the Johnny Canuck logo is the best in all of sports. Even though they aren’t my favorite team, I wear this hat as often as I can.

My grandpa bought me this hat for my birthday and said, “No Kendall should not have an A’s hat.”

See above.

This was my Christmas present to myself in 2011. Jared had to work on Christmas day, so Dustin and I went snowboarding. I forgot a beanie, and bought this one. It is very warm and way comfortable. When I ride through the trees, branches and needles get stuck in it and I feel cool.

I like wearing this beanie throughout the winter because it is loose and reversible. Two for one type of deal.

I got this beanie for running (aka beating my dad) in the Colder Boulder. It was really cold, and if I ever run when it’s cold, I wear this. But really, I never run in the cold. I kept this as a trophy for smoking my dad.

Needless to say, I need/want more. And I will get more. "A man cannot own too many hats."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Favorite Songs

(Fork and Knife) - Brand New

Words in the Water - Thrice

Tony the Tiger - Manchester Orchestra

Ascension - O'Brother

Classic Cars - Bright Eyes

We Looked Like Giants - Death Cab for Cutie

Creepers - Kid Cudi

Swerve City - Deftones

Upward Over the Mountain - Iron & Wine

When the Levee Breaks - Led Zeppelin

When I Met Death - Right Away, Great Captain!

The Night Starts Here - Stars

Favourite Colour - Tokyo Police Club

Either/Or - Aretha's Gold

Mattresses Underwater - Colour Revolt

It Never Stops - Bad Books

Carolina Drama - The Raconteurs

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel

Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart - Against Me!

The Good Life - Weezer

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Home Plate

There are prettier places in the world, but there’s no place like home. My family’s home has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a basement, and all the other amenities of a normal home. It’s in a large neighborhood, called the Meadows, in a town, called Castle Rock, in the suburbs of Denver. It was built in 1992, but we’ve only lived there since 1995. There are at least 100 other houses in that neighborhood that look the exact same. It’s a cookie-cutter house. This is our house on Google Maps:

It’s a very generic house with a basketball hoop in front. Nobody really shoots basketballs anymore, it’s mostly used as a post to tie up the dog when he’s in the front yard.

This is looking out our house during a blizzard:

 And at it, after:

There are wood floors throughout most of the house. Most of the wood is honey colored, very light. It's oak, I believe. Don't quote me on that though, I'm not a logger. They look like this:

The walls are subtle shades of grey, with one red wall in the dining room. The family room has blue walls. When you walk into the house, the first thing you see is a 6’x3’ picture of pineapples hanging in the living room. I think that sums up the feel of the whole house.  

There are a lot of stairs in the house. The family room is split from the rest of the first floor. The master bedroom is split from the rest of the second floor. All of our knees crack as we walk up the stairs. It’s a Kendall thing.

One bannister has Dustin’s name carved in it. He didn’t carve it though. I did, because I wanted to get him in trouble.

At different times, I’ve lived in each of the three non-master bedrooms, and in the basement. One room has green walls halfway up to resemble a baseball stadium. Another (which has mostly been my sisters’ room) has stars on the walls. The third has camouflage walls. The basement had curtains. The second story bathroom has a baseball theme with yellow and grey walls and some pin striping and old fashioned baseball logos.

The family room has a brick fireplace. Every Christmas, we have taken pictures of the family hanging stockings. My mom has taken all of those pictures and put them on a wall in the hallway between the living room and family room. On the opposite wall, there are the mission plaques for the four of us. Now that Jared is home, that is complete. There’s a few family pictures scattered around the house. We aren’t much of a family for family pictures. If you ever end up there, you can see the family picture with Dustin, Jared, and I and our bleached blonde hair. The 90s were weird. The favorite family picture is the one with me eating a grilled cheese sandwich, Jared blowing bubble gum, and Dustin’s foot in Jaimee’s face. That photo shoot took some time to get a normal picture.

The living room has vaulted ceilings, so every year we get a ridiculously huge Christmas tree. One year the tree fell on Dustin. I wish it did that every year.

The living room also has a big window that has incredible views. This is our view of Pikes Peak:

This is view of some of the other mountains around us:

We have wild rabbits everywhere. There's an owl that lives in the tree behind our house. You can hear coyotes at night. Sometimes there are foxes that run around our house.

The backyard is on a slope. We built a rock wall at the top for a garden. The dog usually walks around the wall and knocks some of the rocks off. The dog has also created these paths throughout the backyard, so there’s no grass where he always walks. Dogs are weird. 

I don’t know why, but as kids we thought the coolest thing was to be able to climb the fences. We would climb the fences and sit on them for hours. Kids are weird.

The backyard has a brick patio that is all sorts of not level. There’s a fire pit on the edge of the porch. One night my friends and I were having trouble starting a fire. So we used gasoline. There was a fireball that scorched the trees around it. Jaimee freaked out on me. I don’t know why. It started a fire.

The garage is supposed to hold 2 cars, but has only ever had one. The dog has a kennel in the corner where he should sleep every night (he sleeps inside because he’s spoiled). The other side has random things like tools, bikes, hockey gear, baseball gear, and other collected crap. During the summer, I would pull the car out of the driveway and shoot hockey pucks up the driveway into the garage. There was a table against the wall that I would use as a goal. The wall ended up looking like this:

One puck made it all the way through to the other side. Oops.

We used to play wiffle ball in the front yard and cul-de-sac all summer long. We'd pitch to each other in the backyard with real baseballs sometimes. Our neighbor hated how many fence panels we destroyed with errant pitches.

It’s not a mansion. It’s not fancy. It’s got nicks and dings and scratches and scars. It’s my home. 

"So you pulled my heart out
And I don't mind bleeding.
But I came to love you
Am I born to bleed?
Any old time you keep me waiting.
Waiting. Waiting."
-Lonely Boy- The Black Keys

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Thoughts as of Late Volume 2

I've been eating more vegetables lately. That doesn't mean that I’m a healthier eater. Just that it’s been there and I've eaten it. Asparagus, tomatoes, salad, etc. Things like beets, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli? Still going to make me gag. Did I enjoy them? Yeah, sure.

If I had to recommend reading one thing on the internet, at this point in my life, I would recommend Katie Baker’s weekly column on Grantland. She is as hyped by the Oilers’ young guns as I am. She “Nail”s it every Thursday. It helps that I am in Geotech lab, which is boring, and I sit in front of a computer for an hour while Andrew lectures on who knows what, so I can watch each week’s sickest snipes. This video she posted one week is my favorite celebration ever. 

Whenever I go on vacation I forget to bring music. I detest the radio, so I always buy one CD to listen to in the car. One trip was Neon Bible by Arcade Fire. My trip to DC was Brothers by The Black Keys. So now, every time I listen to them, I thinking of sweating like crazy and taking a million pictures of famous places. Also I think of driving along two lane highways of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania on my way from my cousins’ house to Gettysburg to Camden Yards. It was a good vacation. This was my favorite memorial on that trip. It is right outside of Arlington Cemetery. I like it because my Great Grandfather was a Seabee.

I don’t know how braggable this is, but I have become an excel wizard. Give me something to do on a spreadsheet and consider it done, sahn.

My favorite show is Shameless. It is about a family in South Chicago that has all odds stacked against them, and sometimes everything works out in their favor, but most times nothing works out in their favor. It is compelling. If it was easy, it wouldn't be hard.

Next week's season finale is going to be good.

I've been struggling with school the last few weeks. I bombed my last transportation test. I got a 58%. The first test I got a 92%. On the last Geotech lab report we got back, our grade was a 14/20. The first report we turned in, we got 20/20. I need to figure out how to focus right now, but it’s not clicking. I’d rather read Calvin and Hobbes.

I watched Star Wars Episode III by myself on Saturday night and it was excellent.

Jackson and I went to his parents’ house for Easter dinner tonight and his dog attacked me. I hate that dog. I want to kick it every time I see it. I held it down by the neck until someone grabbed him to take him in the other room.

I have been on here a lot lately. I haven’t really had that one person in my life to unload all my thoughts on, which is probably the cause. Whenever I do, I’m silent on here for months. When I don’t, I’m always typing up something useless. Look back at my summer in 2011. I was living at home and had a total of one friend – Koda. I like being alone. I hate being alone.

We hang out

I got a speeding ticket from a motorcycle cop a week ago. It was in Sacramento. I was going 88 in a 65. Motorcycle cops don’t care for chit chat. I've gotten two tickets from motorcycle cops, and they both said the same things to me:

“I pulled you over for speeding, can I have your license, registration, and proof of insurance?”

“Here’s your ticket. Slow down. Have a nice day.”

This last time I said, “Thank you.” For what? I felt like an idiot as I drove away. Thank you for making me abide by the law, I guess. Thank you for taking a chunk of change out of my wallet, I guess. Thank you for making me be paranoid about cops for the rest of my trip, I guess.

I can track where all of my page views are coming from. So to the Russian that looked at my blog 28 times last Wednesday, thank you. (That is a real sincere thank you, not a thank you like I gave that cop).

This happened:

Today, April Fools, is my little brother’s birthday. Every year I’m around for that, I give him an empty box, and every year I do that, I think it is the funniest thing ever. He hates it. He hates most things I do. Like the time he was ordained to the priesthood, he went around the room shaking hands. When he got to me, I said, “Brothers don’t shake hands, brothers kiss.” And I planted one on his cheek. He said, “You’re weird.”

I am excited to go home to my family in 2 weeks. Mostly I want a haircut. My hair is at the stage that I hate it every day, so I just wear a hat and hope for the best.

I went out to eat with a friend from school on Friday. We went to Flowing Tide Pub and I had some amazing fish and chips. If you live in Reno, go get some ASAP. Even the tartar sauce (which I usually detest) was delicious. The fish was nice and juicy. And their chips are real good, like the wild fries at Good Times.


My friend AdriAnne tagged me in her blog to write a follow up questionnaire that she had on her blog. I've sort of been wanting to do it, but really I don’t want my answers to sound so clever. And for that type of questionnaire, if they aren't clever, it’s boring. I would rather be clever all on my own. Sorry, AdriAnne, I know I’ll get around to it eventually. Really.

I have been leaving my phone at home during school so that I’ll focus more and not sit in class playing spider solitaire and refreshing twitter every 3 minutes. When I get home, I expect my phone to be blown up and have 18 messages to respond to. But usually I only have one or two messages from my brother. I’m not saying I don’t mind that. It kind of is convenient that I don’t have to respond to anyone. Just Rusty Dusty. And then it’s usually a stupid joke that is always hilarious. “Buggle up, it’s fun.”

My sleep schedule the last couple of weeks has been stupid. I never sleep at night anymore. I wish I did. The only days I get to sleep before midnight anymore are Friday and Saturday. That means that I really struggle making it to class on time and awake. I've been getting plenty of headaches the last couple of weeks, and I’m attributing those to my lack of sleep.

Sometimes, I try listening to the same music I listened to in high school, and I make it about 2 songs into an album and get sick of it.

"Oh, oh-oh I've got a love that keeps me waiting,
Oh, oh-oh I've got a love that keeps me waiting.
I'm a lonely boy.
I'm a lonely boy.
Oh, oh-oh I've got a love that keeps me waiting."
-Lonely Boy- The Black Keys

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Things I like/do not like

Things I like:
When the Avalanche win.

Things I don't like:
When the Avalanche don't win.

I'm cranky and I thought you should know.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Life Lessons

Living in Reno has been quite the experience. I have become used to seeing the strip clubs, slot machines in grocery stores, adult stores, glitzy lights of the casinos, and run down trailer parks. I tend to stay far away from the downtown area at night, it lost its luster long ago. Most restaurants open late, even on the weekends are in the casinos. The food there likes to throw my stomach into fits, so usually I would much rather cook up a chicken quesadilla at home and call it a night.

I moved closer to downtown, and my new roommate, Jordan, is hungry 18.5 hours out of the day. My other roommate, Jackson is hungry at least 18 hours out of the day. So between the three of us, someone is always hungry. Sometimes hangry.  

It was Friday, somebody was hungry and nobody knew what to eat. So we drove.

Also, I am the smallest of our group. And size-wise, I’m not puny. Sure I might have small feet (same size 8s since the 7th grade), but I’m still 6 foot and not skin and bone. On top of that, both Jordan and Jackson hate the way I drive. I like to Tokyo drift around corners, back into ATM bays, run pink lights, and listen to rock and roll at high volumes.

So naturally I drove my car – the smallest that any of us own.

Jackson complained when my music was too loud. Jordan played with the radio to annoy me. They both yelled when I played pac man with the dotted line.

Most of all nobody had any idea of where to eat. Push came to shove and we ended up driving up 8 floors of the parking garage of the El Dorado casino.

We went to Tivoli, a typical casino café. I wanted to take our server Sue home to be our mother. She was the nicest. When I chose to eat the fried chicken on the biscuit she said I made the right choice and she’d bring extra gravy out for me. It was greasy, cheap, and delicious. All the things I was looking for. It filled me right up.

J and J (they’re bound to start a boy band) were feeling like high rollers and wanted to gamble. You see, I’ve had my gambling phase and I really don’t care much to throw money around for nothing; that stresses me out. But you can basically talk me into doing anything, so we went to the Peppermill. I saw my friend Jess on the way there and she said that I am a creep.  

First we played roulette. Gracie was our dealer and she memorized our names. I felt VIP. But really, I was spending about the lowest you can spend while looking for an hour of gambling. We had fun and I got pretty lucky. I turned the 60 in my pocket into 145. That’s a decent pull. Just some change.

However, and here’s the moral of the story, the Blue Jays (get it Jackson? cause of the couch) lost 40 dollars apiece. So the moral goes: don’t gamble, nobody wins. It’s useless. I taught them that lesson on the drive home. Funny lessons you learn teaching kids every day. Psssh.

"We folded arms and I felt your heart hum.
Speedy eyes and I want what I want...
I dreamt of nothingness in shades of red.
Honey, it never stops.
No, it never stops."
-It Never Stops- Bad Books

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Boy and the River

A boy lived with his family, as most boys do. His family consisted of his Father, his Mother, his older Sister, his other older Sister, and his older Brother.

The family lived isolated by a great river. This river supplied millions of gallons of water daily to a very large city. The very large city was considering damming the river to create a reservoir, because demand for water had skyrocketed. This was due to many factors, principally being that many people had moved from other places to the very large city. They planned to use the reservoir for times of drought, when the river was reduced to a trickle. The family feared losing their house to the impending construction project.
As the city grew, the night sky became less dark. On the horizon to the west, there was a faint glow where there was once a spilt treasure chest of stars. To the east, the stars still contrasted spectacularly against the dark universe.

The boy, his Brother, and his Father would go for hikes through the hills and canyons surrounding their house most nights. Sometimes the rest of the family would join.

One night the boy wished to go for a hike. He finished his supper, cleared his plate, and requested that his Father and Brother join him. His Father declined, “Another night. There’s a storm coming our way that I would not like to get caught in.”

The next night, the storm was still going. The river was rising. This was not a time of drought.

The water rushed and rushed and rushed. The family stayed indoors and went about their lives normally. They read, or worked on a puzzle, or played a board game. Wind and rain swirled around the isolated house but the family was protected inside.

The residents of the very large city attended to their business as usual. The storm had not reached the city. To them, it was of no concern.

As the wind and rain beat upon the many structures, some of the structures failed. Trees split in two. Fences toppled over. But the house, stronger than these, stood still.

Near the house a wood post fell. The difference between the tree and the post (and this proved to be catastrophic) was that the post held electric lines that ran to the house. The electricity in the house went out and the house went dark and cold. The family did not worry.

When the post fell, the transformer at the top burst as it hit the ground. It blew sparks and tiny explosions all around. The sparks sparked a grass fire that grew to a brush fire that grew to a tree fire that grew to a forest fire. Pretty soon inside the house was lit up again from the glow of the growing fire. The Father and the Mother looked out the window at the approaching flames and began to worry. They looked at each other and whispered short sentences to each other. They said things like, “That is awfully close.” “I don’t think it will reach us.” “The rain should put out the flames.” “This will be a mess come morning.”

The fire moved at a safe distance from the house. It moved around and around as flames usually move. It consumed oxygen to the left and the right, but not toward the house. Pretty quickly, a circle of fire surrounded the house and trapped it against the river. The flames stayed at a safe distance away from the house. By now the whole family had gathered at different windows, watching the spectacle with eyes wide open.

The water in the river rose.

The winds changed and the fire spread toward the house. The radius of flame encircling the house shrunk until complete terror set in. The Mother and  the Father realized that night their house would be ablaze.

“Quick, out the door!” Shouted the Father.

“Hurry! Hurry! Don’t worry about anything!” Implored the Mother.

The family rushed out the front door and the heat from the fire warmed their faces. The rain dampened their hair. Everyone was frantic.

All eyes shot around looking for a hole in the fire. None appeared as the fire approached. The only exit appeared to be the raging river.

The Father commanded everyone to return to the house to grab a piece of furniture to float on. He turned over the kitchen table and kicked off its legs. He rushed out the back door towards the water. The boy grabbed a wooden chair, and his siblings followed suit.

The family reached the banks of the now vast river. They held their pieces of furniture tight in their hands. Some kept them over their heads, some at their side, the table where they had eaten their supper that evening lay on the soaked soil. In panic they searched for a point to enter the water as the fire caught the front of the house. It devoured the many fine things inside. Blankets and rugs became fuel, the roast pig in the fire’s feast.

At that same time, a council in the large city voted in favor of the dam project. They were unaware of the plight of the family.

With their house ablaze the family entered the waters, all clinging to handcrafted furniture. The boy’s oldest Sisters tightly clutched the chairs they had brought. The Mother, the boy’s youngest Brother, and the Father grabbed the door. The Father instructed, “Get to the other shore as soon as you can. Use your legs to move and keep your head above water.”

The boy hesitated. He turned to look at the only home he had known swallowed in flames. The fire moved devilishly towards the boy.

He turned to see his family struggling to keep from drowning as the rapids washed around and over them.

He felt the temperature rise as the heat thing got close.

He gripped tighter around the seat of the chair and jumped in the vast river.

The boy wrestled his chair for supremacy. It took him down under the water and he fought back to get on top. They tussled back and forth and back and forth until they crashed into a boulder. Most of the force of the blow was given to the chair. The boy caught a good hit on his left leg, getting smashed between the current and the piece of granite.

The boy let go of the collapsed chair. Now was the time to float alone and hope for the best. He stuck his legs out straight to the important parts of his body from hitting boulders. He laid out on his back and let the current pull him downstream. His leg throbbed in pain.

After floating for around 30 seconds, the boy knew he needed to get to a safe place. He flipped his legs under his torso so he could get a good look around. He kicked his legs and thrust his arms about trying to get his momentum slowed down. He saw a shoreline he could get to if he swam.

He turned in the direction of the shoreline. The current pushed downstream as he pushed sideways. He kicked mostly with his right leg. He kicked hard and pushed fiercely. His head sank deeper and deeper into the water. His mouth filled with water, his eyes they shook, he lunged for the bank.

A hand caught his. He looked up to see his Father. He pulled the boy up onto a patch of gravel with the rest of his family.

They looked across the river and upstream to the glow from the fire that consumed their home. They sat and watched and didn't say a word. The boy looked up at the stars looking for some kind of divine help. He sat there looking up for a very long time. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Prime Time Rib

In high school, I had it easy. My senior year my hardest class was definitely Zoology which I enjoyed ditching to watch both Ace Venturas with my friend Austin while we chowed down on a bucket of K’n’F’n’C.

After every exhausting school day, I would come home to watch Good Eats and Sportscenter. I learned a lot from Alton Brown, but never really applied it. When I graduated, my culinary specialty was still only mac and cheese. From the blue box.

Lately I have been watching a lot of Iron Chef. America, that is. I got into the Next Iron Chef season 4, so when season 5 started up – “Redemption” – I was there every Sunday night. In season 4, I was disappointed when Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli and Chef Michael Chiarello were eliminated in the penultimate challenge. They were my favorites to watch. I was so stoked that Chef Guarnaschelli was offered “Redemption” and I root, root, rooted for her. I recorded the final 2 episodes on my DVR because I had to head home to Colorado for the holidays, but while I was watching late night TV, they had a commercial for the first competition of the winner of this season’s Iron Chef: Chef Guarnaschelli. Great. All of that suspense went straight out the window. Regardless I had to watch it and was amazed at how at the same point that she was eliminated in the season before, she went into this sort of “robot mode,” where everything she did was insanely precise and quite intimidating.

When I saw the holiday special of The Best Thing I Ever Ate with Chef Guarnaschelli making her prime rib, I wanted to try to make it. It didn’t look too difficult to accomplish. So with my mom’s credit card, try I did. 

Here is what happened in words and pictures.

This is the rib roast that I purchased. It had that thick layer of fat on top with some decent marbling throughout.

I seared the roast on this. That hole on the bottom was no bueno. The grease dripped down onto the burner and smoked out my house.

I made the peppercorn/honey mustard paste and spread it on top. I kind of got messy with it and it went all over the kitchen.

This is the Yorkshire pudding I whipped up after I threw the roast in the oven.

After 10 minutes.

Near the end.

When we pulled it out.

The Yorkshire in the oven. I forgot about it, so that didn’t turn out at all.

The hardest part was definitely cutting it. I didn’t know what to do, so mom jumped in.

It was pretty rare, but really juicy and tasty.

Needless to say, I am no Iron Chef. But I’m willing to learn. And if I ever go to NYC, I’m going to Chef Guarnaschelli’s restaurant, Butter, and I am praying this is on the menu, so I can taste what it is really supposed to be like.

Appendix: also, when I was out getting some meat, I bought some jeans at Hollister, because there isn’t a Hollister store in Reno. I don’t know if it is funny to the workers there or what, but this is the bag I got. 

Thanks Hollister, I do enjoy walking around with a bag of a man who is taking his pants off provocatively. I need to 1) buy jeans at a different store or 2) shop online.