25 June 2007

NOLA... and I can't belive she's MARRIED!!!

So.. back from New Orleans (and I officially HATE flying). Here's the lowdown:

Friday: Arrived in NOLA with Ben without a hitch. The flight was short and sweet, and we made it to the hotel without any problems. Julie, Angie, and Andy were already there, and we went to eat at a small nearby joint named Napolean. I had a drink (can't remember what it's called) that was made with juniper berry liqueur, some other stuff, and a slice of cucumber. It was interesting, but I'm not sure if I like it or not. We walked Bourbon street, but didn't drink, and then called it an "early" night.

Saturday: Went to River's Edge for breakfast. I had a Jambalaya Omelet with a side of grits. Ben had a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. It was a nice, across the street from Cafe du Monde, which was way too crowded. After breakfast, Ben and I walked around a little bit, and stopped into the St. Louis Cathedral. We headed back to the hotel room and got ready for the wedding. We were a couple minutes late to the wedding because the taxis decided that they weren't going to come to the hotel anymore because so many had come and left (since people weren't ready by the time they got there). So the bellhop had to hail us a cab, and it took forever for one to drive by. We made it to the wedding just in time to see Adrianna and Ben, the groom, walking up the stairs. It was a nice, short wedding (lasting 20 minutes, tops), and a small one as well (50 people, tops).

The reception was nice. I didn't eat much, since we had just had a big breakfast an hour before, but the spread looked good. At least, I know Ben enjoyed the hors d'oeuvres. The wedding was a lot of fun. We danced, we drank, we took lots of pictures. It was great! I hadn't seen Adrianna in over a year, so it was great seeing her so happy and beautiful. seeing everyone else was fun too. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and napped for a few hours (after Julie and Angie were done hitting on the bellhop and getting his number). Then we got up and headed to Cafe du Monde for a snack.

We stopped into the Old Absinthe House for a round of "absinthe", at least what's considered absinthe in the U.S. I've decided that I don't like it, too much like licorice. We needed to get some real food, so we stopped by some restaurant for dinner. I had BBQ shrimp and Ben had a burger. It was nice, but the service took FOREVER. We walked around a bit and met up with the others at this little lounge bar off Bourbon St. Angie was dying to meet up with the bellhop on Frenchman Street (which is apparently where the locals hang out), but I didn't really feel like taking a taxi anywhere. I got a bit upset because we stepped in Razoo, and Julie and Angie diappeared. Apparently, the couldn't "find us" so they left. They headed up to Frenchman Street to meet up with the bellhop. Andy had an early flight in the morning, so we headed back and just hung out at the hotel. Julie and Angie (and the bellhop) got in around 6am (after Andy had left already).

Sunday: Ben and I got up and went to church at the St. Louis Cathedral at 9am. Then headed back, only to find everyone still asleep. So we headed off to brunch at Emeril's Delmonico without them. It was really nice. We were the first one's there. I had slow-cooked pork topped with two sunny-side up quail eggs over a bed of arugula. Ben had poached eggs over stone-ground grits and other things. It was really good. We finished off breakfast with some fresh baked cookies and ice-milk (which is, basically, frozen milk with vanilla).

We decided to walk back to the French Quarter, rather than spend the money for a cab. It wasn't too incredibly hot outside, but we didn't realize that the distance and the humidity was not good for us. By the time we got back to the hotel, they were up, checked out, and Angie had to head to the airport. So we said good-bye, and Ben and I attempted to kill a few hours. We walked along the river. We stopped into the Calbido (the Louisiana State Museum). We walked around a lot. We had coffee. Then we went to the airport. We were there pretty early, so we sat around and read and just waited.

When we arrived in Atlanta, we still had an hour and a half to kill. We ate at Chili's Too, and just sat around. Our flight was a bit delayed because we needed to wait for the flight crew to come in from another flight. We took off only five minutes late, BUT a sensor went off while we were in the air, something about the de-icing mechanism. Anywho, we were in the air for about 30-45 minutes, and they had to turn around and land back in ATL. So, we landed in ATL at about the time we should have been landing in PHF. The quickly moved us to a different plane and we took off shortly after that. We landed in PHF around 2:30 am, but it took forever for our luggage to get to the baggage claim. I think because there weren't enough workers there at that time in the morning. People were complaining like crazy, and getting on my last nerve. They were mad that we had to turn around to ATL rather than just landing in PHF close to on time. What they didnt' take into consideration is that if something were to happen to us on that flight, then everyone would have been asking "Why didn't they do something about that sensor when it went off during flight?"I with people would be more patient and less stupid. Oh, and that they would just shut up too.

Pictures from the trip can be found here (in no particular order). Enjoy!

Love, Tran

P.S. Here's a picture of a cake that I made last weekend for Chris' birthday: Three-layer chocolate cake with strawberries and blueberries.

12 June 2007

Tuesday... and why I've avoided the dentist for so long

Well.. it's Thursday, which means tomorrow is FRIDAY!!! and then it's SATURDAY!!! and Tran gets to SLEEP IN!!!! I don't even have a real job, and I still dread coming in everyday. Not to mention that my advisor has FINALLY given me some sort of timeline for my thesis submission (which requires that I get a rough draft to him in three weeks.. YAY!).

Anywho, I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday. The last time I went to the dentist was probably about six years ago, a year or so after I had my braces taken off. Anywho, I hate going to the dentist. It's such an uninviting environment (at least all the dentists I ever went to as a kid) and brings back memories of pain and scoldings ("I told you not to eat so much candy!" says Mom.). Well, I wasn't surprised to find out that my teeth were in need of some serious cleaning. What surprised me was how severe the damage was, and how much it was going to break the bank. Seriously? $835 to clean my teeth?!?!?! Being someone who wants to keep my teeth for as long as possible, decided that my uninsured mouth needed the cleaning (of course, it helped that the both the dental hygienist and the dentist recommended this deep cleaning to prevent periodontal disease, which I was showing early signs of). So, I have three dentist appointments in August (that's the earliest they could see me). First to numb one side of my mouth and clean; second to numb the other side and clean; and third, just to see how my mouth is liking its new clean-feeling. It's a pain, but at least this dental office is a million times nicer and more inviting than any I ever went to as a kid. And, on the bright side of things, NO CAVITIES!!!

And.. the other bothersome thing in my life (aside from the dentist and having to sacrifice all the fun things I wanted to do to be able to pay the dentist)... the THESIS! Testing, hopefully, to be completed by June 19 (Tuesday). Buckle down on writing so that I have a rough draft to Dr. Cutler by July 3 (Wednesday). Enjoy my one day off by sleeping in and laying around the house. Get first set of revisions back, and give another copy to Dr. C. by July 18 (Wednesday). More revisions, and "final" copy to Dr. C. by July 31 (before he leaves for England for the ENTIRE month of August). Get final revisions back while he's away, and submit final FINAL thesis to committee by August 17 (Friday) so that I can defend when Dr. Cutler returns from holiday (hopefully August 31 - which is the day I also have to move out of my house). I suppose it's crunch time now. YAY!

I kinda just want this all to be over. To bypass the getting a job thing and just have a job already. Settle and continue on with the rest of my life (for the next few years or so). And I'm only 23. Man.. the real world is going to kick me in the ass when I'm finally out there.


10 June 2007

Summertime... and the living's (almost) easy...

So, it's been a while since I've updated my blog, mostly because I've been lazy (everyone, by now, should know how lazy Tran can be). Anywho, I think the last time I posted anything was when I came back from STL with Ben. I'm sure much has happened, so I'll try to recap.

Cooking club is in full swing. Members are usually the same group, with some additions every once in a while. I also started to go to this Variety Meetup, and it's really cool. Annie, the organizer, has been kind enough to set up a lot of events in the summer for people to go to. I'm hoping to have the time and money to do most of them, but we shall see.

My sister, Anni, was in town for Memorial Day. We did a lot: had dinner at A Chef's Kitchen, spent a day at Busch Gardens, grilled out at the house, went to the Beach, breakfast AND dinner at Cracker Barrel, and we hit the Prime Outlets in Williamsburg. It was a lot of fun having her in town. Pictures from our dinner at A Chef's Kitchen below:

Soup Course: Basil and Summer Squash Soup

This soup was surprisingly good. I'm not usually one for pureed soups, unless their it's tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. It was paired with Anton Baur 2005 Gmork Gruner Veltliner. It's been a while, so I can't remember if I liked it or not. I think I did.

Salad Course: Sesame Noodle Salad with Spring Vegetables

This salad was TO DIE FOR!! I loved the dressing (which included peanut butter). It was a bit heavy on the dressing, but good nonetheless.

Poultry Course: Grilled Quail with Strawberry Balsamic Compote and Skillet Baked Cornbread

I've had quail before, but only at wedding receptions held at Chinese restaurants, and the quail is always served the same. Good, but nothing new. This quail was delicious. And, of course, the cornbread was great. This dish was paired with a Tegernseerhof Rose. I'm not a fan of rose, but Anni enjoyed it, so I bought her a bottle, which we had with our BBQ that following Saturday.

Meat Course: Steak Oscarof Hereford New York Strip with Colossal Lump Crab Meat Sauce Glacage and Roasted Potatoes

I LOVE STEAK! If I had to choose one meat to eat for the rest of my life, I'd have beef. Although, I may not last very long as a result of that. The dish itself was AWESOME, but I didn't care too much for the Pinot Noir that was paired with it (so I didn't take note of what it was).

Dessert Course: Dark Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream

By this time, both Anni and I were so full that we split one dessert and took the other home. I love chocolate more than I love steak, so I tried my best to finish it off. Anni doesn't enjoy coffee at all, so she didn't like the icing very much, but the cake itself was yummy and very moist.

Here's a picture of the sugar sculpture Chef John made. It was pretty cool watching him do it actually, and may be something that I'll try at home some day. Only, the sugar is very hot, and I fear that I'll burn myself (which would be an unfortunate addition to my myriad of scars).

The rest of her trip was pretty great. I had fun at Busch Gardens, although we had to leave early because I was feeling pretty ill. Also, we didn't get to ride on Griffon (the new ride) because the wait was three hours long, and we didn't think it'd be worth it. The beach wasn't very nice on the day we decided to go, a bit overcast and not very many waves. But we did get to see some of the VA Beach Steel Pier Classic Longboard competition that was taking place that weekend. On Memorial day, we hit the outlets. Probably was a bad idea, since neither of us should have been spending money, but I was able to find a lot of nice things on sale. So, I'm happy we went.

Later that week, Ben and I went to the Waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg. Annie had free passes, so a bunch of us went as part of her meetup group. It was pretty cool, but small. A few hours there was more than enough time to do everything. It was also nice because it was a weekday, so it wasn't very crowded.

The start of June (and summer) means that LARSS students are returning to NASA. Martin, a kid from last summer, is back in our branch. He seems better now than he was last summer, which is good for him. John, a roommate from last summer, is also back. He and Ceci came over for dinner last week. Hopefully we'll all get to hang out more while Ceci is in town. At the end of the month, she leaves for a two month vacation around the world (surfing in Indonesia and Hawaii, hanging out in Thailand and New Zealand) before she heads to Stanford to start her graduate studies.

This past weekend was Harborfest down in Downtown Norfolk/Waterside, which marks a year since the first day I met Ben. We had dinner with Gaetano and Rohit and Joe's CrabShack (not the one we met at, but the one closer to the house). And then we headed down to see the concert and the fireworks show. We only got there in time to see Kool and the Gang (missed Los Lonely Boys and 38 Special). It was a good show, and a good time. The fireworks were crazy (in size, and number). We didn't stay out on Granby Street because Rohit had to catch and early flight to Hawaii this morning. He's going to be there all week for a conference.

Now for the bad news. This morning, Gaetano noticed that his PS2 was missing from the living room. Apparently, we had left one of the sliding glass doors unlocked, and someone came in and stole his PS2, along with his controllers and all his pirated games and his wallet, which was sitting on the counter (in its usual spot). We think it happened sometime between 12:30am and 7:30 am, since Gaetano was up at 7:30 and would have heard someone coming into the house. Rohit left around 5:30am to go to the airport, but we haven't been able to talk to him yet about it (since he's in flight right now). Without thinking, we went to the police station, rather than calling them to come to us. They told us there to go home and call the police station to report a burglary. As far as we can tell, they only took the PS2 and his wallet, since all our computers are still here and everything else seems to be in order. Gaetano is in the process of taking care of all that, but he had a lot in his wallet (DC driver's license, Italian driver's license, some money, lots of random stuff, and worse of all, his SS Card). He had to put a fraud alert on his credit and still needs to call around and take care of some bills and stuff. The officer came by and went around trying to talk to the neighbors to see if anyone saw anything, but no one answered their doors (stupid neighbors). Anywho.. everything seems to be in order except for the missing stuff, so it's rather unfortunate for Gaetano. I got lucky, since my backpack was sitting on the counter with my laptop in it.

As to work and research, it seems to be going well. I've started running experiments, which means that I'll soon be done with running experiments and focusing solely on writing (YAY!). I think that's it for now. I'm skipping out on book club this month because I don't really care to read the book (Confessions of a Crap Artist). Our next cooking club meeting isn't until July 1, Brunch at Marlita's. The next big thing is Adrianna's wedding in New Orleans, which I'm super excited to be attending. I still can't believe she's getting married! Till then, I'll try to keep up with this.. and perhaps create some exciting events of my own to blog about.