couch! (some assembly required)

We finally did it. We replaced the couch that was gifted to me by Ali’s sister when I moved into my Speedway apartment. When I got it, it was a beautiful, happy, white couch with floral print pillows. It followed me across the country to the bay (after a brief pit stop in Seattle), and served us well here in cali. It being white and we being “heavy” couch users, it was a bit worse for the wear by the time it got to Fremont, so we got a slip cover for it, which is sort of a two-edged sword. It did look better, but was continually getting disheveled and generally driving me insane. So we decided we should replace it sooner rather than later, since we might be picking up and moving to another country in a few years anyway.

We didn’t want a nice couch, because nice couches cost real money, something we don’t have. Plus vis a vis our international living plans it would have been a rather rash purchase. So we did what all good poor students do and hit IKEA up for the best that $500 or so could buy. What we got was a couch that came in four (4) boxes, only three of which they actually managed to find the day we were there buying it, which was probably just as well since the last one may not have fit so well into Leslie’s jetta. The whole process of turning boxes into couch can be savored on gallery. I’ll leave you with the afterglow:

Red, and long enough for a 5′ 10″ person to stretch out on, or three people to sit together on without cuddling. I’m satisfied.

Google Maps fun.

I always sort of wondered what all the hubbub about “AJAX” and “Web 2.0” were, so when my viz class assigned us to build an apartment finder thingy based off of data scraped from craigslist, I decided to do it using the Google Maps API. It uses all the buzzwords: DHTML, Javascript, XML, Asyncronous RPC. Turns out all this stuff isn’t new at all, it was just waiting for someone (read: Google) to show that it could be done well. Anyway, if you want to see the fruits of my labor (still in progress) they’re here.

v-day dinner

Les and I try to cook when we can, and it had been a while since we’d done anything fancy, so we hit up epicurious for something challenging. Our Valentine’s day dinner, illustrated edition:

Main Course: Beef Tenderloin with Cranberry-Port Sauce and Gorgonzola Cheese

This was absolutely amazing. An “instant classic,” you might say. We were skeptical at first, since it incorporates so many random tastes (cranberry + port + blue cheese?!), but we were very pleasantly suprised. The preparation was easy, we just started with the base of every tasty western dish: butter, garlic, and onion (shallots, to be exact)

you can smell it...

We then added the port, broth, and cranberries, and reduced about 4:1. Then we soaked up the juices from grilling the beef with it and poured it over the top.
The package total.

The overall taste was perfect, and unexpected: the sweetness of the port, the cranberries combined with the sharpness and pungence of the cheese: heaven! I absolutely recommend this, and we’ll definitely do it again, though maybe not with $30/lb beef.

Side: Saffron Orzo with Asparagus and Prosciutto

Orzo is a tasty pellet-shaped pasta that I like to begin with. Throw in saffron, ham, and asparagus, and I’m in love. Step one was to fry the pork in some butter. After this, add more butter, then let the orzo just soak it up:

Mmm. Finish hydrating it with chicken broth and add the saffron for a beautiful golden color, adding the asparagus later for maximum crispiness.

Drink: Bishop

This tasty way to finish our bottle of port involves roasting an orange studded with cloves for 90 minutes then quartering it into simmering ruby port. Delicious accompaniment to some chocolate mousse we bought for desert.

all is bliss

The pace of life post-SIGGRAPH has been quite agreeable. I’ve got two classes: Visualization, which has been a lot of fun so far, and if nothing else a great excuse to buy beautiful books from Edward Tufte, as well as another graduate math class that, instead of having 20 hours/week of homework, has exactly zero.

tufte pic

I’ve had time to start work on my master’s report (then I’ll just one more to complete the set!), finish Dragon Quest (I give it rave reviews all the way through), as well as generally get back into all the parts of my life that withered during the madness. I’ve been back at yoga, back to climbing, back to eating sushi, drinking at Triple Rock. Yes. This is what grad school is all about.