Saturday, November 24, 2007

NOT synthetic diamonds!

Wow, I was really psyched. I was ready to to "trade up" my real diamond ring for one of these lab-created and conflict-free diamonds from Diamond Nexus. All of their advertising seems to lead me to believe that they are synthetic diamonds - created in a lab with the same chemical and physical properties as a real diamond. However, they are actually simulants like Asha diamond or cubic zirconia (CZ). This FAQ addressed most of my questions regarding simulants and synthetics.
I have a pair of Asha earrings set in platinum and I'm disappointed with them. The problem with them is that unlike a real diamond, when they get dirty, they lose a lot of their light dispersion and look muddy to me. And they cost way more than they should.
I also have a cultured or synthetic Takara pink diamond and it is fabulous! But they only sell colored diamonds and the colors tend to be somewhat fake - too deeply saturated with a violet like mineral glow. Finally, these synthetics are priced about the same as a mined white diamond. I would like to see white synthetic diamonds for sale and for cheap in the market place in my lifetime. C'mon GE, anybody I'm waiting for you.
I don't have anything to say about moissanite and this ends my diamond drool post.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Butternut Squash Ravioli Learns

After reviewing and consulting more than 5 recipes on the Internet for butternut squash ravioli, here is what I've learned if you want to use wonton wrapper instead of making your own pasta.
First I have to preface everything by telling you what kind of a cook I am. I double to quadruple all calls for herbs and vegetables (e.g. onions, garlic, shallots, celery, broccoli, etc.). I halve or third all instructions for any kinds of fats (e.g. butter, oil, etc.). Then I double to quadruple everything again because I like to cook for an army. I'm not shy to substitute (majoram for sage, etc.); there's nothing I hate more than having an inspiration to cook something quashed by a practicality like I don't have an ingredient available. (I made marsala chicken once without marsala wine, it turned out well but it didn't taste like marsala chicken) And I never ever measure ANYTHING.
Onward to using wonton wrappers - one recipe noted that you should use 4 wrappers per ravioli. I didn't try this but it seems like a good idea since the singly wrapped ravioli are exteremely fragile. I didn't do this because it felt too starchy. So if you want to use one wonton wrapper per ravioli, keep this in mind:

  1. One wrapper per ravioli has diastrious results for boiling. DO NOT BOIL SINGLY WONTON WRAPPED RAVIOLI, IT IS MUSHY AND DISGUSTING. For best results, fry them or brush with some butter and bake at 375 for about 10 minutes or whatever.
  2. For the sauce, I had excellent results with browning some butter with salt, majoram (or sage) and thinly sliced almonds. Serve immediately with the fried or baked ravioli with grated parmesan.
  3. And fresh herbs really do make a difference! I sent my sister to the grocery store for parsley (with dried parsley in mind). She showed up with fresh parsley and it really enhanced the recipe. Thanks Siri!
  4. As soon as you wrap the ravioli, bake or fry ASAP as the raviolis sitting in a tray in as little as 15 minutes will have undesirable moisture creep in. Not a good dish for making ahead of time. But if you insist on doing this, make sure you separate each layer with wax paper and maybe even coat the raviolis and the paper with some cooking spray. And whatever you do, make sure the raviolis never touch each other, it will become a sticky mess.
  5. This is also not a good dish to serve as a meal. Because it's so rich, it should be reserved as an appetizer.
  6. This is not a good dish to make for an army. I was really stupid to make this for 8 people. It turned out well but I would never try to do this for more than 4.
  7. Do not overstuff.
  8. I had good results in roasting the squash in a shallow pan with a little water (.25 inch or whatever) at 375 for about 30 mins.
  9. Finally, if you have square wonton wrappers, folding them in half (so they form a triangle) yielded the best results. Even though I am skilled in orgami, it does not translate well to wrapping wonton ravioli. Credit goes to Josh for coming up with this idea that all of us nearly died of laughter when we first saw it. They looked so large and awkward. I guess we all had dainty and cute ravioli in mind.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Connie-chiwa

I'm really excited! If all goes as planned, I'm going to see my college roommate Connie this weekend. I haven't seen her in almost 2 years! She's a super user of text messaging from a cell phone while I have no clue. Once I noticed that I had this envelope icon on my cell phone; it was a text from Connie that was 4 months old! Yesterday, I tried four times to text something back to her until I just threw my hands in the air and gave up.
This text boycott started when Josh informed me that they were not covered under our plan, that we had to pay 2 cents each (plus tax) or whatever to send and receive them. One of his friends even texted him, I owe you 10 cents. Hahaha! He told me a story about how when he was growing up, long distance on the telephone was a big thing. Like if anyone called long distance and if they had to pass the phone to a different speaker, it was done in a really nervous, hot-potato fashion, as to conserve every second possible. I'm sure this is true and it makes me laugh like crazy. Because when I was growing up, we used to call Thailand all the time and talk about nothing. Talking about nothing with our friends and relatives would easily amount to $400 a month.
In college, my then-boyfriend would call India and easily ring up $700 per month phone bills. This makes Josh crouch in terror, while I'm comfortable with the idea that staying in touch costs $$$.
When we first started dating, I took many business trips -- they were always in the US, but he would never call me. He feared that I was roaming or that he might go over his minutes. I called him once from the Bahamas and I could feel his balls sweating.
It's really funny how we now have VoIP so phone calls are practically free, although the quality sucks. But now, I realize that the $$$ is a front for his reticence. He'd just rather not talk on the phone. 6 years of calling him a cheap bastard when I should have known, that's he's just a regular old bastard!!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Update

I've been slaving in the kitchen for 6 hours and finally, I have two trays in the oven. I have no motivation to keep going -- it's 8:30, my drunk husband's not home yet, my 2 yr old is sick and my legs are killing me! But I have to make 2 more trays of food!
The butternut squash ravioli is killing me. I might have to change mid-way to butternut squash mash or something!

Enormasaurus Rex


Here's the first t-shirt design that I've made for Daisy. I have so many ideas for chubby babies. And for dinosaurious personalities, like Blogasaurus or Crankasaurus for me. Stay tuned.
Do you like the Enormasaurus in caps or mixed case?

Happy Thanksgiving and Sorry Josh!

Over the next few days, I'm going to be preoccupied with cooking for Thanksgiving, making funny & dirty t-shirts for everyone I know and spending a lot of dough (sorry Josh)!!!!
Yesterday I had a relatively expensive lunch for me. The bill for two of us came out to $32. (Not including tip, sorry Josh). But you know what? America is priceless! That same meal could've been 32 euros. Take advantage that our dollars are worth shit everywhere else by staying home or taking a vacation in America.
I don't feel like there's been any inflation or price increase since the 80s for these staples: food, clothing, electronics, appliances and cars. However, I'm really feeling the pinch in: real estate, airfares, hotels, gas and college education for my brats.
I'm going to Thailand this December but after that, all my vacations are going to be in good old US of A. We're going to Hawaii in February and Alaska in the summer. I can't wait. My dollars will go really far here. Compared to other countries, everything here can be had for practically nothing. Thank you citizens of China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holy batballs, no dinar for you!

The rich Persian Gulf states - e.g. SA, UAE and Qatar have their currencies pegged to the dollar and may abandon the peg or change the level of the peg!
America as we know it is going to shit. We need cheap oil, cheap clothes from a sweatshop and cheap plastic goods. We have to pray that our friends China, SA, UAE and Qatar continue to piss off their citizens by retaining the dollar peg at current levels.

Why I don't hobnob with men over the Internet

After giving birth to my first daughter, I had a difficult time with breastfeeding. I hired a lactation consultant to come over to teach me the ropes. It worked out pretty well; after she left, I felt more confident about how to breastfeed. As it turns out, she was also an area La Leche leader and she invited me to one of their meetings. I attended and found it helpful and supportive. Unfortunately, there was only one other mother at this meeting besides me. My La Leche leader friend was hoping to grow membership in this working mothers group.
So in the community and kids section of Craiglist, I posted about the our next upcoming La Leche meeting along with details of how to contact me. Of course no one contacted me except a pervert. He wrote some horrifying things to me in an email. I've blocked most of the tramautic details out except for one acronym: ANR. Adult nursing relationship!!!!! The sick fuck wanted to nurse or milk me!
I went to my husband for strength and comfort about how evidently wrong this was, for this asshole to email me this disgusting solicitation when my post was clearly targetted for female members in a nursing mothers support group. He gave a pretty clinical viewpoint, "Well what if you were interested? Then it would have worked out great for the both of you...I don't see anything wrong with what he did?" At that point, I didn't know which asshole I wanted to harm first.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bonus rare pic...


In a rare moment, we were able to fit all of these personalities in one picture! From the top, clockwise - the robot, the blabbermouth dabbler, the kvetch and the golden pig.

Ahead of our time for insults and slurs

My husband wrote a pretty interesting response to an article published in the Oct. 15 issue of the New Yorker, The Blow-Up Artist, which portrayed Victor Niederhoffer's trading style (and unconventional lifestyle).
Two responses to the article were published in our most recent New Yorker and I have to say I'm unimpressed. Why didn't they publish Josh's response? Before I tell you about my conspiracy theory, let me share his response with you.
This is a short version you can email to your friends:
Hey, you heard of Victor Niederhoffer? I just read an article in the New Yorker about him about how he speculates in futures using massive leverage, and I remember his orders from when I was a floor trader in options at the CME … at the time we thought the client was a middle eastern oil sheik, and we always called his distinctive orders from “the sheik” (He was always always selling size downside puts on the S&P) … anyway, turns out it was this Niederhoffer … and then when he blew up in ‘97 or ‘98, and his clearing firm liquidated his positions in the morning (which would have been winners if they just waited until the afternoon) … I was making options markets that felt entirely obscene at the time. I always felt a little sorry for the guy that day … now I know who it was.
This is what he actually sent to New Yorker:
The Sheik!
In 1996 and 1997 I was a floor trader in the futures options pit of the S&P500 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. There was one broker for Refco, who generally handled medium to small sized orders. From time to time, though, he would show up with a very large order: almost always to sell downside puts. This is a very risky, highly leveraged strategy, and it had a very distinct signature. At the time, we didn’t know the orders were from Niederhoffer: but we knew they were from one particular client. On the floor, we called him “The Sheik”, for we assumed he must be someone with a ton of money, looking for some financial excitement. Whenever the broker began to represent an order bearing the signature of the Sheik, we would telegraph the trade to our counterparts across the (loud) trading floor by miming wrapping a turban around our heads – that was the hand signal that everyone recognized as the Sheik. In October of 1997, not long after the Sheik had renewed a sizeable signature position in the options, the S&P500 was down nearly 7% one day. The next morning, the market opened up down 3%, and the Refco broker representing the Sheik was actually buying his position back. We could tell by the nature of the orders that it was his brokerage firm closing him out of business (and not the Sheik voluntarily covering positions), and I won’t say that we didn’t take advantage of the situation. To close out positions that big all at once when there was already significant panic in the marketplace incurred extraordinary price increases. Options that were sold for as little as $3 the day before were being bought back for as much as $50.
Around 11 AM that same day, the market started rising – and it actually closed up over 5% on the day – surely enough that Refco wouldn’t have liquidated Niederhoffer’s position if they had just waited a few hours. The options that went from $3 to $50 were back to $3. We never did see another order from the Sheik after that, and it was only years later that I discovered this “Sheik” was actually a hedge fund manager named Niederhoffer (And I always wondered if he knew he was referred to as “the Sheik”.) But I did learn a little bit about leverage and timing that has helped me in my trading career since then: when you’re at the end of your leverage, and the margin calls are coming in, time is one thing you just don’t have.
I'm pretty sure they didn't publish this because Middle Eastern citizens and advocacy groups would send them hate mail.
So it brings me to the point of the title of this post. In the mid-90s my husband used a turban-wrapping mime for the word sheik, when he met me in May 2001, he playfully called me Osama and finally in July 2001, I jested that one of his friends looked like a terrorist. What all of these slurs have in common is that they were all said before September 11th. Now our past statements' follies have grown in size and they've come back to haunt us because most people don't realize that they were said prior to 9/11. They don't give us any credit or slack for being the modern-day Cassandra for insults and slurs. Stick with us and you'll totally offend everyone. Sadly their rage for you will only grow and grow and only you will know about the misattribution error.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dollar got you down?

I am so pissed off that the dollar is practically worthless. I blame it all on Bush and the war. The only reason why it's worth anything is because of China. As soon as they stop pegging the yuan to the dollar, we are all fucked.
Let's fantasize about the past...I have fond memories of visiting Italy in 2001. Everything was thousands of lira but it always worked out to only a few dollars. Everything was so cheap and affordable; whenever I ate a meal I liked I had Donald Trump-esque condescending thoughts...Hmmm I wonder if I should buy this restaurant?
And now, can you believe that the Canadian dollar is on par with ours? What's an American to do?
Get yourself a personal assistant from Bangalore! Check out Ask Sunday, and this newstory. For $30 a month, your PA from India will run the kinds of errands where physical presence isn't needed. Your Indian PA will dispute charges on your credit card, book frequent flier rewards and stay on the phone for these types of time consuming, hold-intensive and often frustrating errands.
Recently I've been so frustrated with trying to book frequent flier rewards with Emirates Airlines. It's obvious to me that their call center is outsourced to India. I can tell by the fuzzy connection and the accent. Who do they think they're fooling with their ridiculous pseudonyms like Steve? I know your real name is something like Subhabrata, not Steve!
So I see another benefit to outsourcing your errands to India...imagine your PA calling Emirates, asking for "Steve". I'm sure that "Steve" will immediate recognize my PA's accent and ask, Hey where are you from? And then they'll start rapping about India. Now as the conversation gets friendlier, you can imagine they might start talking about their work. You work for an American call center? Me too! Where do you work? In Bangalore. Me too! Blah blah blah and the ultimate climax that I'm hoping for -- realizing that they're in the same building, my PA will stand on his chair and hi-five Steve over the cubicle wall. Everybody wins! I'm so happy that for a few worthless dollars, I get to use my miles without talking to anyone. And if anyone wonders how I can possibly claim mileage rewards so effortlessly, I can say truthfully, through my connections.