28 November 2006


Okay, so for Thanksgiving I went to Ohio with my husband and brother-in-law. They have family there, a whole gaggle of aunts, uncles and cousins, and grandparents too. (And like second cousins twice removed and stuff; that level of family just isn't seen in mine.)

Anyway, we went to a tiny village called Bellville. It's about exactly halfway between Columbus and Cleveland. We flew out of Vegas Wednesday on a horribly turbulant flight at about 23h00 and arrived Thursday at 05h30. The time difference was killer. All three of us had gone into work Wednesday, and got no sleep on the plane, and we bypassed the hotel to spend time with family till about 15h00, when we got a 2-hour nap and went on to celebrate Thanksgiving till midnight or so. And in falling asleep at that time, we missed Josh's 21st birthday bash...too bad, too, it would have been fun. We just couldn't stay awake any longer.

The culture shock was...interesting. It was as if I was visiting America for the first time. Deer! Cows! Corn fields! Wheat fields! Frost! Brick houses! All encased in a freakin forest...plus so so many foods I've never eaten that are apparently "americana". The village is tiny, slightly reminiscent of Kandern (yeah, the only other village I've been to)...it has a bitty main street and a bunch of stop signs. Church Street is where the churches are, and School Street is where the schools are. I went to a tiny market! And an organic fruit stand! And an Amish gift shop! And since we weren't local, and in the village everyone knows everyone just about, they were all staring as we walked around and took pics of the bandstand and scenery. It was so funny, people were stopping in the middle of the street and pointing.

Since they were good enough to show me "true" American cooking, I made them my Mexican-style meatball soup, and I didn't even have to "go into town" (!!!) and get the ingredients. The only thing I didn't find at the market was chorizo, and not everyone's into that, anyway. They really liked it, and want the recipe. I'm happy.

In Bellville we saw parks, and kind of explored the forest, and saw ancient cemeteries (even from the Revolutionary War!) and tree farms...we also went to Cleveland on Friday and saw the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It's a huge version of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, but it was really cool, we just couldn't take pics. We also went to a White Castle...we were so stoked, we totally played tourist and took pics of the inside of the restaurant and of the food, hehe. (If you've seen "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle", then you understand, even moreso if you realise that Vegas doesn't have White Castle.)
But the last day we hung out with family: Josh had to go home, but Nichole and Melanie (I'm pretty sure that was her name, she was so quiet) stayed for awhile, and Terry and Karen and Charlie too. Of course, Nathan's grandparents were there as well, and it was good to relax Saturday before getting up at "oh-dark-hundred" to catch our plane Sunday morning.

So now I have to go to work, and then come home and do all kinds of crazy homework (since Cliff won't answer his phone and Ryan has no idea how far we're supposed to be) and *then* school tomorrow, and THEN maybe I can get to settling back into life.

25 November 2006

Una receta para todos:

I'm going to make this for Tannah's family our last night here...hoping they like it. (More on the actual trip in a few days, when I have more time...so far it's incredible here! This is a simple recipe and not all that homemade but it's delicious and leaves room for improvisation.)

Sopa de Albóndigas
(Serves 8-10)

2 pounds lean ground beef **
1 onion, chopped to your liking
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
I bulb minced fresh garlic
4 carrots, chopped
2 small zucchini, sliced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup cornmeal or bread crumbs
8 cans (14 ounce size) beef broth (ready to use type)
1 28-oz can of peeled and diced tomatoes
1 small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I
think the brand is "Embasa"?)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup white rice
2 packages of cilantro, fresh, destemmed (a good
Package mozzarella cheese


Set aside a small amount of garlic and spices for teh
meatballs if you like. You can also use a premade
spicing, such a tablespoon of salsa or lemon pepper.

Saute garlic and onions as you like: in wine, water,
broth or Pam. Slowly add 6 cans of the broth, the
tomatoes, and spices, reserving a small amount for the
meatballs (see above). Bring to a soft boil and
simmer for 20 minutes, all the while slowly adding the
vegetables, carrots first. Add at least three
tablespoons of the canned adobo sauce to the broth,
and at least one chopped chipotle pepper. After that,
use more if you like (there's plenty) for flavour.

Meanwhile combine ground chuck, egg, any other
reserved spices, 1 chopped chipotle pepper and
cornmeal, and mix well. (If the meat is too dry you
can add a tablespoon or so of water or broth.) Form
into tiny, bite-size meatballs and brown in water,
wine or broth. Add meatballs and rice to soup. Simmer,
covered, very slowly for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. About a
1/2 hour before serving, add the additional cans of
broth and season to taste, and soup reduces quite

When serving, put cheese in the bowl first, then soup,
and top with a small amount of cilantro. Can be
served with bread or tortillas.

**NOTE: For spicier meatballs, use 1-1/2 lbs beef mixed with 1/2 lb of chorizo.

20 November 2006

My dad is so awesome.

I made dinner for my parents tonight...a new recipe. I wanted to have them over one time before we went to Ohio, since it would be my first Thanksgiving without them. The food was...eh. It was chicken stuffed with neufchatel cheese thats mixed with cracked pepper, garlic and oregano. (Then asparagus, salad, bread...etc.) But never actually made it before. I always get nervous when trying new recipes. But everyone seemed to like it...we had a little mead and "pumpkin fluff" which is pumpkin pie filling and whipped cream mixed together. Yummy! Then we took turns playing "Guitar Hero 2" and that was fun. (My dad, the major Rush fan, was stoked about YYZ.)
But even more importantly, my dad came over to me when I was alone and we started talking and I told him how I felt...basically all the stuff I wrote in earlier blog entries about feeling torn between two cultures and I felt afraid to refer to my life Before since it might offend him and all. And he said, "I can't be offended by the truth. You were born as under one name, adopted into another, and married under your current one. You spent half your life with your birth-name but that doesn't mean you aren't still German, in a sense. You are, its in your blood. But the Scots, well, they liked to conquer and take the best out of all the cultures they came to, and adopted them into their clans. That's what happened to you. You might still be German by blood, but you were chosen and accepted by this clan, so this is your family too." And he asked if I loved him and wanted him to be my dad and I said yes, and he said then, well, there's no issue.

I also told him that when I was in Europe it felt like "home" and he actually understood. He said he lived in California for like five years, and in Vegas for 27, and California still feels like home to him.

So yeah...I was very surprised and happy. Just wanted to share.

18 November 2006

Freedom of religion must apply equally.

[A friend sent me this. If freedom of religion means
anything to you, please realise that its supposed to
include all religions, not just the "Big Three"
(Christianity, Judism and Islam). Guaranteeing rights
of all religion keeps the rights of yours in place.
(Address to show support etc, at the bottom.)]

Government's refusal to recognize Wiccan symbol leads to lawsuit

By The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — The Star of David is OK, as are more than a dozen variations of the Christian cross.Even the atomic whirl used by atheists gets the thumbs-up from the federal government. But a Wiccan symbol representing earth, air, fire, water and spirit?

Forget it.

Blame it on government red tape or religious discrimination, Selena Fox is tired of fighting to get her religion's symbol recognized by the federal government for veterans' grave markers. So now she and other followers of the Wiccan faith are
taking the government to court.

A federal lawsuit filed Monday accuses the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of violating the constitutional rights of Wiccans because the government does not allow its symbol on veterans' headstones in national cemeteries.

"I honestly think there must be some people who don'twant to acknowledge that the Wiccan religion should be entitled to the same rights as other religions,'' said Fox, who is senior minister of the Wiccan Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wis.

Roberta Stewart thinks she knows why Wiccans have been denied. "I believe it's the misconception of devil worship and the way the pentacle has been misused,'' she said.

The widow of a soldier killed in Afghanistan last year, Stewart has waged her own personal war to see the pentacle placed on the tombstone of her husband, Nevada National Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart.

Stewart, whose husband was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was rejected by federal veterans' officials when she sought approval to affix the pentacle to the Veterans' Memorial Wall in Nevada, but state officials said they would erect a plaque with the symbol.

Even though she is getting the symbol for her husband, Stewart said she had the plight of other families in mind when she decided to file the lawsuit. Joining her are Karen DePolito, of Utah, whose husband, Jerome Birnbaum, is a Korean War veteran who died last year; Circle Sanctuary; and Isis Invicta Military Mission, a Wiccan and Pagan congregation serving military personnel based in Geyserville, Calif.

The lawsuit claims the VA has made "excuse after excuse'' for more than nine years for not approving the pentacle, and argues that constitutional rights of freedom of speech, religion and due process have been violated by the department's not acting on requests to allow the symbol. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Madison and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, seeks an order compelling the VA to make a decision.

In memos and letters cited by the lawsuit, Lindee L. Lenox, director of memorial programs for the veterans agency, said the government was reviewing the process for evaluating and approving new emblems and would not accept new applications until the review was complete.

The VA issued a statement Monday that outlined the procedure under way to create uniform standards under which new symbols can be accepted, but did not comment on the lawsuit itself.

Legal papers filed by attorneys for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a religious liberty watchdog group, said it makes no sense for Wiccans to be excluded. The Army allows Wiccan soldiers to list their faith on dog tags, Wiccan organizations are allowed to hold services on military installations and the Army Chaplains Handbook includes an explanation of the religion, attorneys said.

Wiccans worship the Earth and believe they must give to the community. Some consider themselves "white'' or good witches, pagans or neo-pagans. Approximately 1,800 active-duty service members identify themselves as Wiccans, according to 2005 Defense Department statistics.

An increasing number of Wiccans are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, while a number of older veterans are getting closer to death, making it imperative that the government act soon, Fox said. Three cremated remains of veterans are unmarked in the Circle Sanctuary cemetery, Fox said, a situation she called "ridiculous.'' She said three headstones at Arlington National Cemetery are also awaiting the symbol.

All Stewart said she wants is government approval of the pentacle, nothing more and nothing less. She wants the lawsuit to send a message, she said, that the government can't pick and choose which faiths appear on headstones.

Please repost this where others may know and feel free to contact the WPPA to show your support at:

Wiccan/Pagan Press Alliance, c/o Black Forest
Publishing, P.O. Box 1392, Mechanicsburg, PA

16 November 2006

"Let's get ready to rumble!"

That's what Gil (my current journeyman) says at a few minutes till 10h00, right before we bust out the TE-76. It's so hilarious the first time he yelled that into the hollowed-out wall toward the occupied rooms upstairs I almost pissed myself laughing.

As for the chipping concrete, I'll be on it for the rest of the job. My new journeyman and I came up with a system, though: Mondays we help demo (tear out the old stuff) from the rooms. Tuesdays we mark out all our new stuff that we have to cut out and get material ready. By then, we can knock out the concrete in four rooms. Wednesdays we do the electrical aspect of the two rooms from Tuesday, like wiring everything up, but hot, and chip out two more rooms. Thursdays we do the electrical for that and chip out the last two rooms, plus do the electrical. Friday we put the coverplates on and hot-check everything. Start over Monday. Also we have a thing where when were chipping, I use the blade to get the bulk and he used the crusher to smooth it out. That way we aren't both too tired. I still hurt but it's better. My body is getting used to it.

11 November 2006


My nephew, Radek, just said his first word. And although I'm supposed to be happy all I could do was wonder what
Gabriel's first word would have been.

I'm an awful person.

09 November 2006

Sometimes I hate construction workers.

So when you're working on a job that has guests/clients on site (like guests at the Paris, for instance) there's certain rules, like no cursing, screaming or loud tools (such as jackhammers) before 10am, since guests are in the other floors. it's called courtesy.

Well, my journeyman starts up with a TE-76 (a type of jackhammer) at 7am. I can feel the noise and vibrations reverb against the floor, walls, it's awful, but I'm used to it, since I'm around it. All of a sudden this hotel guest appears from nowhere, in pajamas and bare feet in our very dangerous workspace...I mean broken glass and tile everywhere, drywall all over, tools and twisted metal jutting out of the torn walls... and yells out over the noise, "Please, no more, I'm trying to sleep." Thick accent...thought it was Italian, but when he started cursing, it was definitely French. I tried telling him, in English and French, that we'll stop for now, we're sorry, I'll tell my foreman and we'll do it later...etc., etc. Trying to make things good. I mean, he must have been desperate to walk into a construction area like that. But no... my journeyman says, "My foreman told me to do this, you aren't my foreman, so I'm not stopping." And kept going, after whispering, "Goddamn foreigner." (!!!) So the guest calls security, they get involved, my foreman and general foreman are involved, everyone's freaking out over it...by the end of it all, he got transferred to a different crew, I got a different journeyman, and I was the one on the end of the TE-76 for 6 hours. (Hehe...for having a clotting problem, you wouldn't believe the extensive bruising my arms have now!) And what's worse, I heard the guy (my now-former journeyman) laughing about it later. How was that funny?

And, off-topic, happy anniversary to my parents!! Fifteen years today.

07 November 2006


Luc Besson's "Wasabi" is a French movie that takes place 90% in Tokyo, with Jean Reno (one of my faves) so it's awesome. There's a scene when a Japanese girl who he's protecting mispronounces the word "trou"...she trills the R in the back of her throat so its like she's purring. (In the movie, her mom worked for the French embassy so the girl's fluent in both Japanese and French.) Anyway, Hubert (Reno's character) is like, "No, that's ugly" and tries to retrain her mouth to say it properly. It's so cute!! And Tannah and I both tried for like 10 minutes, we can't do it right. The R after the T is awkward. Therefore, it's going to be our codeword for if we can't pronounce something.

Other than that, the movie itself is excellent, I love Besson's work anyway and Jean Reno, too, but it's got everything: action, explosions, the good stuff. I think it's dubbed in English too, so many my parents might actually watch it. As for the point of the post, I just thought I'd share something completely inane and useless. :-)

05 November 2006


NABCEP, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners...the exam was crazy!! It was so so hard, the hardest exam I've taken in years. In fact they said about half of us failed, but we won't know who for sure for a bit. it was like, story problems (which I suck at) saying, for instance, "Customer wants 50% of energy by solar, he used 14,000 kilowatts in the past 2 years, his roof is east-facing at 45 degrees latitude with 3.9 sun peak hours daily..." and on and on and on. It just got so convoluted it was hard to keep track of everything. I want to work in photovoltaics one day but it's going to come to needing a certification this year. And they're thinking of using this as the state certification test...

Happy things:
~had pain au chocolat for lunch (I know! I have no self control)
~found an issue of "Le Point" at the Paris gift shop and bought it to practice reading and even though it cost 3 euros it was priced $6.25 :-(
~felt humility at this exam

But really...all my recent entries have been really tiny. I guess I don't have much to say. Tired? Bored? Nothing to say? I have no idea. I guess when the long ones come they'll just do their thing.

04 November 2006

Prayers for Jake.

My brother-in-law, Jake, has surgery for his cancer in Tuesday. And my sister lost her job Sunday. Jake will be on IV's and no food or water at all for three days and on bedrest, no speaking and semi-soft Jell-o for a week and a half after surgery . So finacially they aren't okay...we're going to send money, but we just gave my brother money a few months ago and we sent Tannah's Korean grandmother money because they didn't have money for her medicine and it's like...I have my own doctor bills too. It's frustrating and a little scary. I really want to help, and I'm not trying to whine just, everyone thinks me and Tannah have so much money and in a sense we would if we didn't have all my medical expenses. I have to pay 20% of every procedure, test, lab, medicine....it adds up. Especially when I'm seeing doctors and specialists every week.

So I'll pray, of course, to be sustained and kept calm. And for Jake, too of course, and his family to persevere. I love them so much.

02 November 2006

The Stardust is gone.

And the Echelon will be in it's place. Whether they'll implode or just retro-fit, I don't know. Not sure how I feel about it, another piece of Vegas history gone, making way for newer and more glittery things. Sure, it's more work for me and more revenue for our city but I kind of wish things would be a little more permenent.

01 November 2006

Dodging Hallowe'en!

It's become a new sport. Hallowe'en was fine, actually...we went to the Paris for dinner and wandered for an hour, then we hurried home and hid inside and the way our doorbell is, the chime is in the hallway, so we can't hear it in the living room if the TV is on. Plus, theres a gate, so no one can knock...just the bell. :-) And of course we had our signature "Sorry, no candy" sign in like 15 languages, just so everyone is covered and there's no excuse to people not understanding. Granted, there migth be a Hmong kid and I didn't cover his language but the chances are slim. So we were able to ignore everything.
My parents are seeing the un-Christianlike aspects of Hallowe'en (history, etc.) and think this year will be my little sister's last one. Tannah's brother also finally understands why me & Tannah dont do it. (Not just memories but...the other reasons.) It's nice to be understood. Tannah's dad kinda thinks if we raise a child without Hallowe'en the kid will be deprived and made fun of and I'm like, I never did Hallowe'en (in the commercial sense) and I turned out just fine. But that's okay...wait til he finds out we aren't going to do Santa, either, hehe.