Christmas Movies

With December comes the holidays and with the holidays comes Christmas music and Christmas movies.

I’ve got my favorite Christmas movies just like everyone else, drawing from the classics as well as some stuff that is seen less often.

I like the TV classics as much as anyone else. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Ruldoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman are all films I like rewatching, I just don’t like them as much as my favorites.

And my favorites are: Continue reading

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Making Cheese with Dad

I went home with my wife for Father’s Day and we did the usual thing where I went to my family’s house while she went to hers.

My dad and step-mom kept with their usual Sunday routine of going to the local Farmer’s Market and making omelettes for brunch.

I’m no omelette fan, but I had some scrambled eggs with them.

After brunch we went on a hike up to the Dish in the Stanford hills.

When we got back my dad made some pizza dough for later.

My dad had already made some plans for the day to go to a Sufi meeting.

My dad has been into eastern religions as long as I’ve been alive. I don’t remember when he started being a Sufi, but he has been for a while now.

Sufism is sort of a mystical interpretation of Islam.

It shares a lot in common with Buddhism so I’ve always described it as a mix of Buddhism and Islam in the past.

What is the religion about? That’s a complicated question. It’s about meditating and praying to figure out what God wants you to do in your life.

There’s also some stuff about dancing in circles, but my dad’s Sufi teacher doesn’t subscribe to that part of Sufism.

The meeting was fun. We talked about particulars of the mystic traditions that are a little hard to describe in writing (sorry!). I’d go to it again if it was in Davis, but it isn’t.

When we got back from the meeting my dad and I made some cheese.

My dad loves making things of all sorts, so why not make some cheese to go on our pizza!

If you haven’t made cheese before, it’s super simple. Cheese is made by adding some enzymes usually taken from animal stomachs to hot milk to curdle it (our enzymes were made by plants somehow).

The milk separates into curds (floaty cheese bits) and whey (gross yellowish liquid). We started with a gallon of milk

We took the curds out of the whey which when put together were about the size of my head.

We squished the liquid out of the curds until they were about the size of two baseballs.

And that’s pretty much it. We added some salt to the cheese and then slapped it on a pizza.

The pizza was great!

We watched some old Wallace and Gromit cartoons after dinner.

Presents fell somewhere in the day as well. I got my dad a graphic novel by one of his favorites authors (sadly he already had the one I got) and two Conan comics!

We waved goodbye and I headed over to pick up my wife at her parents’ house before driving home in the dark.

Happy Father’s Day!

-GoCorral

Mother’s Day 2015

My mother passed away a few years ago, but I am lucky to have a wonderful step-mother to spend Mother’s Day with.

My wife and I drove back home in the morning to visit our mothers. I dropped her off and spent a little bit of time with my parents-in-law before going over to my parents’ house (they live in the same city).

My parents were out at the farmer’s market when I got there (a Sunday tradition for them). I played with their dog a little bit and puzzled over the mail I was receiving there. Apprently I now have a subscription to Car and Driver magazine for some unknown reason.

When they got back they announced a surprise, my best friend would be visiting as well! Apparently his parents were spending some time in the Netherlands so he’d been hanging out with my parents for company.

We chatted a bunch and made snickerdoodles. The cookie baking was a Mother’s Day activity so we joked non-stop about it. My friend and I got on our knees to be “children.” We pretended to mess up the recipe by adding “one and a half eggs.” The usual stuff.

The cookies turned out really good, obviously due to adding one and a half eggs.

We went on a walk up to “the dish.” Everyone in Palo Alto already knows what that is but I will explain for those of you who don’t know.

A lot of Palo Alto attractions are remnants of the two big owners of the land around there, Stanford and Coutts. Stanford owned a huge amount of land in the hills behind Palo Alto.

That land was never developed or turned into part of the college. Instead it is an open space preserve where you can go walking up in the hills.

At the top of one of the steep hills behind a chain-link fence is a giant satelitte dish, probably about 100 feet in diameter.

“The dish,” as everyone calls it, is part of the program to contact alien life. It sends signals out and listens for responses. Nothing yet!

We came back after the walk and opened presents. I got my step-mom a Ursula K. Le Guin interpretation of Lao-Tzu’s poetry. She likes Le Guin and both her and my dad are fans of Eastern philosophy. She seemed excited to read it and I hope it is as good as her expectations.

We hugged goodbye and I took half the cookies with me. My friend took the other half.

I went back to my in-laws house and picked up my wife there after taking some pictures. We drove back home through the heavy Mother’s Day traffic.

Happy belated Mother’s Day to everyone else’s mothers who I didn’t see yesterday!

-GoCorral

NorCal Preview Gymnastics Meet

My wife and I went to the NorCal Preview Gymnastics Meet this weekend. The meet was held at UC Davis between the women’s gymnastics teams of UC Davis, Sac State, San Jose State, Stanford, and UC Berkeley.

Cal (UC Berkeley) won the meet. My wife and I had a lot of fun watching the different competitors. She recognized a few people that she knew previously from her time at SJSU and UC Davis. I thought I recognized one of the Sac State gymnasts as one of the people I’d taught last semester, but I ended up being wrong about that.

Here are some pictures from the floor and beam events. Vault pictures don’t look that amazing and we sat too far away from the bar event to get good pictures of that. I hope you enjoy stills of close to Olympic level gymnasts! Stanford is on beam and Cal is on floor.

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-Mister Ed

July Fourth as a Kid

July 4th was on Friday which for those of you who don’t know, is Independence Day in the USA.

There was a band, picnic, games, and fireworks at a park right near my house.

I went to that with my wife and had a lot of fun.

But I don’t want to write about that today. I want to write about how I used to celebrate July 4th with my mother.

When I was a kid my mom and I always went to a fireworks celebration on July 3rd at the Frost Amphitheater on Stanford campus.

The celebration at Frost Amphitheater happened on July 3rd so that all the people that worked at it could enjoy the real holiday with their own families.

It never mattered much to my mother and me which day we were celebrating July 4th on. One day for a celebration of Independence is as good as another.

The event starts with waiting in line.

There are a few seats that you can reserve, but they were quite expensive. Most people just got lawn tickets.

Lawn tickets don’t come with assigned seating, so the earlier you get there the better your seat is.

We would sit in line for an hour or two with all our picnic stuff, baskets and coolers of food, games, pillows, blankets, etc.

Once inside we’d set up on the lawn and wait for the music to start.

When we first started going the band was usually a giant orchestra that played lots of classical music.

Later on they switched to more popular bands that people could dance to like Cherry Popping Daddies.

I liked the classical music better, but listening to the Cherry Popping Daddies got me interested more and more in swing dancing.

The concert would go on until dark and then the band would announce the fireworks coming up.

The fireworks were set off behind the amphitheater and looked like every other fireworks show.

After the explosions were over everyone packed up their stuff and left, just like every other fireworks show.

They’ve stopped doing the July 3rd event, but I’ve started missing it more and more lately.

Maybe they’ll start it up again next year!

-Mister Ed