aamcnamara: (Default)
Things that my life will be lacking when I leave London:

1. The sharp-sweet taste of very lemony lemon cookies.
2. A bar of soap that smells of lavender.
3. The taste and mouth-feel of oatcakes spread with jam from Wales (blueberry-apple, I think).
4. Rosemary-scented handsoap in public restrooms (the National Archives, and I think the British Museum as well, though I did not today become a person who smells their hands in the bathroom while washing them).
5. Strawberry toothpaste, which I used to use as a kid but hadn't for years (I have become a mint-toothpaste person) until I ran across it in a store and it was the only flavor they had of Tom's of Maine. Which, well, I have never looked very deeply into the matter of toothpaste, but I needed toothpaste past the tiny travel tube I brought, and I knew that buying Tom's of Maine would make my mother happy. (Hi, Mom.) Hence strawberry, which will now have layered memories of childhood and London in it, if I ever buy it afterward.

Yesterday I finished everything I could do in the National Archives early, so I wandered around in Kew. I found a really nice little used-books shop, where I will endeavor not to spend all of my money (they have dragon sculptures, and shelves that look like trees!), and an organic-food store where I found--glory of glories--EnerG bread, aka the first loaf of bread I have found in England that I can eat. And the aforementioned very lemony lemon cookies, which similarly are the first cookies I have found in England that I can eat. Sandwiches! Toast! Cookies!

Today I went to the British Museum. It is overwhelming and impressive and full of amazing things. I saw several Greek vases that we talked about in my art history class last year! And of course the Elgin Marbles, which were mentioned in novels I read as a kid and imagined as spheres made of marble.

It also wore me down, little by little, by the crowds and the hugeness and the fact that I know that a lot of what's there--all the cultural diversity, and the variety, and the vast timespan covered--was stolen from graves, taken without permission, cheated out of people, etc. Which just kind of came to a head when I got to the Egyptian gallery, already footsore, and realized that they had actual mummies in the cases; and then went into the next room, where there was an example of a basketweave coffin with what appeared to be an actual skeleton in it. Just--people. Is this actually acceptable?

So I left, resisting the urge of "but I haven't seen everything yet!". The Roman fighting demonstrations that I'd stumbled on earlier were still happening, so I sat there for a little while, but then I decided to walk down to the Sir John Soane Museum, which sounded cool. And then I went slightly the wrong way and ended up in Covent Garden instead. Um. Whoops? I found the Apple store (and went up two flights of stairs, having missed the iPods completely on the ground floor--my iPod touch was lost on my journey here, alas, so I wanted to look at what's out there) and I found another tea store (where I did not buy anything, thank you very much, even though they had teapot-shaped tea infusers (I am holding out for the robot-shaped tea infuser I spotted once at the Wedge Co-Op in Minneapolis))... and then I checked my map and saw where I'd gone wrong and headed toward the Soane museum again.

It took a bit more wandering to actually get there, but when I did, I found that it was next to a very nice park (Lincoln's Inn Fields, I believe) in which I sat and ate one of the aforementioned cookies, which I had brought along.

Sir John Soane's idea of museum-collecting, as it turns out, is basically like Isabella Gardner's. Only he was into the Classics, and also peculiar architecture and interesting things to do with natural light, so it's this Victorian-I-think row-house-type-thing crammed with paintings and statues and vases and reliefs where all the light comes from odd skylights (one small room has a tiny glass cupola in its ceiling) and windows with various colors of glass, and gets reflected in the many mirrors and mirrored doors... Said windows usually look out into tiny courtyards filled with further monuments, of course. There's a sarcophagus for a mummy, but it's empty; and the sense of overwhelming personality and Cool Architectural Stuff at least gives something to put in the other pan against the "wow, all this stuff was robbed from graves" thing.

I've no idea what they do when it's overcast--I am not kidding when I say that all the light comes from skylights and windows--although one of my flatmates says they occasionally do a Candlelit Night where they put candles everywhere, which sounds gorgeous.

In the end, I could probably go back to either of the museums I visited today. But I'm more likely to drag people to the Soane, and also I hear there's a false wall I didn't get to see in operation (!). Going back to the British Museum, I think I would have to have a Plan: do initial research on some area/time period/etc. and then go and look at all the things in that or those room(s), so that I at least have some context.

But the British Museum did have a volunteer who let me hold a small Romano-Celtic war-god. So there's that. And really it was a very nice day, although my calves are extremely sore now, and I did not go out again and buy groceries this evening at all. (I should have. If I had made plans for tomorrow at all, not having bought groceries today would mess them right up. But I haven't made plans for tomorrow; and it was windy tonight; and my feet hurt. So there.)

more cake

Apr. 29th, 2012 08:07 pm
aamcnamara: (Default)
For posterity:

The first time I made cake-inna-mug in the microwave, I altered this recipe.

But my alteration called for applesauce, and when Kate and I went over to the campus center tonight, they were out of applesauce.

So, new variant!

3 tbsp + 1 heaping tsp flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/16 tsp xanthan gum
2 tbsp rice milk
2 tbsp oil
1 spoonful jam (we had strawberry)
vanilla, cinnamon, etc. to taste

Put in all dry ingredients, stir, add wet ingredients and stir again, making sure to break up all the lumps. Microwave for about 2 minutes, 15 seconds. Devour.

Lighter than the previous iteration, still just as tasty.
aamcnamara: (Default)
1. I had a Readercon! I met some people I had previously known only as Internet usernames, including Leah Bobet (with whom I chatted sitting in the hall outside the very awesome and entirely too warm Interstitial party on Friday evening) and Brit Mandelo (with whom I failed to have any conversation, but waved at in passing), and saw some of those people one only sees at conventions (like Ellen and Delia, or Claire Cooney and Pattie Templeton, whose name I am probably spelling wrong), and met a couple of excellent people for the first time, and saw [livejournal.com profile] vcmw and [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae, which was fabulous.
1.5. I did not get Delany to sign my copy of Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, because apparently I left it in Minnesota.

2. I have now taken the Starburst Challenge, which means little if you did not go to the summer writing camp [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae and I attended as junior high/high school students. (We were so young then!) It is where you are given a Starburst and have to unwrap it with your eyes closed and determine what flavor it is, and it is a Thing at MITY. When I actually was at MITY, I did not know whether I could eat Starbursts. Lately I discovered that I can. So Sally and I went in together on an extremely expensive package of Starbursts from the hotel lobby shop and I took the Challenge standing on a grassy slope by the Burlington Marriott parking lot.

3. Sally and Kate polkaed down the hallways of Readercon.

4. I now have extensive notes, plus bits of actual text, on a short story and a novel, both of which I just need to sit down and draft, dammit, except that I keep not being near a computer (and when I am, doing such important things as Checking My Email And Marking All Those Emails I Saw When I Checked It At Work As Read On My Computer).

5. ... Also I got a really nice rejection on my flash fiction "Katabasis" and I intend to change a couple of things and send it out again, but I haven't yet.

6. I read some books on my commute, but I forgot to write them up for a post and lately I've been using that time to write (or, well, think about stories), so there you have it. Not totally destitute of books, but busy. (I got a library card yesterday. So there may yet be more books.)

7. Yes, this entire post is "I have a brain! Really! Sometimes! It's just buried under... things!"

8. In mad-scientist news, part of my job involves testing things at higher and higher voltages until they produce large purple sparks and stop working.

Harvardfail

Jul. 2nd, 2011 04:12 pm
aamcnamara: (Default)
In which Harvard University utterly fails to do anything like feed me or provide a way for me to feed myself.

Extensive details about fail )
I remain very, very glad that I had somewhere else to go.


tl;dr:
1. Harvard very obviously does not train their staff members working in event planning to deal with allergies. The REU event coordinator/food planner has been working at Harvard for some time, in a couple of different areas, and does not seem to have received training in this area.
2. They must not have a clear way for programs on campus to get information about what the options available to students with allergies are. I understand if not every program on campus can be trained to deal with every eventuality--but if you are not going to train them on at least the likely ones, you ought to have some system set up so that they know who to talk to.
2a. I am left to speculate on whether they receive disability-accommodations training at all.
2b. I am left to wonder why they did not look into any of this before they told me I could have a kitchen, or before I arrived.
3. The Harvard dining services told me repeatedly that they were certain they could feed me… until I mentioned the possibility of me having asthma from inhaled allergens in the kitchen. They then told me, under cover of an excuse, that they were "not...able to accommodate [my] request" for a meal plan.
3a. This sounds extremely like "you would be too much of a liability and we don't want the bad publicity".
4. All of this took approximately a month, during which--if I hadn't had somewhere else to go--I would have been working with a dorm-sized fridge, a microwave, and a tiny, dirty kitchen which was open to a nebulous group of people to which I did not belong and with whom I had no contact. And nothing else.

Speaking of bad publicity for Harvard, how about signal-boosting/linking this? If nothing else, I'd like other people with allergies/asthma who are looking at colleges or undergraduate research programs to know what they might be getting into. Yes, maybe I was too trusting at first; yes, maybe I should have been more clear in my requests, or asked more questions... but that does not excuse what happened. Not at all.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Somehow it turned into two days before I leave. I am not quite sure how.

I always remember, when I come back here, how much I love Minnesota and also how much I love my friends from before college. Don't get me wrong, my college friends are awesome. I adore my college friends. But sometimes I get focused on "ooo college friends woo" and forget that... really, my friends from middle- and high-school eras are fairly brilliant too.

The other bonus, of course, is that I get a bunch of really, really tasty food. Cookies; home-made bread; maple sugar candy; Bosc pears (which ought to be spelled Bosch--Garden of Earthly Pears?); candy canes; rice pasta with home-made sauce; chicken and dumplings; freshly-made pancakes; bacon; really good orange juice; gravy, gravy, gravy; yams baked with marshmallows and brown sugar on top; ...well. Et cetera.

Which is good because it is delicious, and is also good because in my parents' houses, there's a kind of attitude of "limitations? What limitations?" In my parents' houses, what I eat does not approximate normal food; it is normal food.

Which is why I am looking forward (oh I am looking forward) to the day when I have a place of my own, when I can go out and buy food and stock a kitchen and make whatever I want for myself. Tasty things. Things I want to eat. It will be a glorious day.

For now, I am just trying to savor the moments (and the meals) before I head back to Massachusetts, to campus, and a return to what now counts as my usual life. I am looking forward to going back to campus, don't get me wrong. I just know that the food won't be quite as good. Oh well.

(Getting closer to submitting the physics research applications. These make me more nervous than many things, so it may take a bit of a push for me to actually send them in... fortunately I do have some time before the deadlines arrive.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
So. Things.

I spent most of this past week being tired, and feeling bad about it until I realized that it was probably my body trying to recover from the massive shock of anaphylaxis last weekend. (Entirely apart from the drugs they gave me at the hospital.) But I met with some people, and came to some conclusions, so that was good and with luck it will never happen again ever.

Friday was really nice; I spent about two and a half hours in the children's books section of the library reading the first 20-50 pages of novels. (I have been thinking about Beginnings.)

Also, I read some books. The whole thing, I mean.
The Changeover, Mahy: I read this when I was entirely too young, and understood practically none of it. Now I understand a lot more! There is a time between these two, though, when I both would have understood it and would have needed a book like this. However, as is often the case, I never picked it up when I was that age.
For The Win, Doctorow: By an order of magnitude better than Little Brother. (In my opinion, at least.) I picked this up as a see-the-beginning thing, realized I was intrigued, and checked it out to take it home with me.

Last night it snowed a little. I went out to dance in it then, as it was falling, and then this morning got up at seven or so to go out and wander around a lake before it all melted. I hear Minnesota is having a snowpocalypse, and have seen many lovely photos of things covered in a foot of snow, and am envious, but... well. I will be there soon enough, and there will certainly be snow. And I did get falling snow and snow to crunch in on a winter morning watching dawn, so things could be much worse.

This afternoon, I finished my last midterm. Now all I have left in the semester is one day's worth of Greek homework and to Take All The Finals. Yay?
aamcnamara: (Default)
For, I'm pretty sure, the first time in my life, I went today by myself to a restaurant, sat down, ordered food, ate, paid, and left--taking extra food with me in a bag. Okay, there was a bit of stuff in there about allergies, and checking up on ingredients of things, but it was pretty low-key. And I got a salad with chickpeas (and oil and vinegar), and fried-rice-with-vegetables, and hibiscus peppermint iced tea. I could have had other things, probably, if I had wanted them.

This is... okay, maybe not the hugest thing ever, but pretty awesome. I mean, eating out isn't that fantastic of a thing--but it is a thing. A thing that Other People do. And now, apparently, me too.

Then I went and bought food and came back on the bus. My plan is to avoid the dining halls over fall break; only one is open for the duration, and it's the one that usually doesn't handle allergen-free diets due to too much traffic. The only problem is of course that I bought meat (frozen, but still) and then had to spend an hour-plus getting back due to the seven-thirty bus not showing up until seven-forty-five. I cooked it as soon as I got back, and stuck it in the fridge. With luck, I won't get trichinosis and die! That would ruin my entire fall break.

In the next four days, I hope to make a bunch of progress on the A Returning Power rewrite, start outlining the first draft of The Urban Fantasy Novel for early revision, and do some physics research. I was going to start all of this stuff tonight, but I ended up reading Sayers instead, so... I'll let you know how all those grand plans go.
aamcnamara: (Default)
So last night at dinner I had an allergic reaction. )
Crowning glory: I have no idea what gave me that reaction. I had a theory--even while eating dinner, in fact--which was debunked this evening. Other than that? No clue. Nebulous "something". Something happened. Something got into my food. And I got all of that.

Sometimes I really do not like these allergies.

---

Yesterday, before all that, was Mountain Day. I got no work done--school or otherwise, really. (Admittedly I had all my school work done beforehand.) Well, I made a website. Other than that? Nope. And I did no work today, either. I feel like I should be working on novels, on physics research, on whatever. I've spent the last two days accumulating dirty dishes, leaving my desk messy, not doing laundry when I probably ought to. I haven't even picked up my ILL books, which came in at the library recently. I will confess to feeling just the slightest bit useless.

...on the other hand, the previous paragraph probably describes rather a lot of college students' typical day-to-day life, so I really shouldn't feel guilty about it. I just always feel like there are more things I want to do, and possibly at some point I will had to admit that I took too much on. (Also, I dislike holding myself to lower standards--on writing every day, writing even when I don't feel like it--than people I know who work full-time do.) On the, er, third hand, though, it's also completely legitimate to take some days off even from worry about stuff exterior to the immediate here-and-now of college life. This weekend, if not before, I will drag myself out of this and do some work so as not to feel like a lump. I will.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Today was my last day at the archives, which was kind of awesome, and kind of not. Awesome in that I finished my third box of political cartoons, bringing me up to a sum-total of 7 years and over 1800 unique cartoons; not in that there are still years and years of cartoons left I didn't even touch. Awesome in that my boss-person brought in cupcakes 'cause it was my last day; not in--well, you know the drill. Food allergies, which are irrelevant enough to library work that I hadn't mentioned 'em, but the thought was really nice.

On the writing front, it's possible that reading the last of Delany's About Writing while in novel-withdrawal mode wasn't the greatest plan ever planned. But I read the rest of it! Weirdly, he talked about Alphabetical Africa and then it came up in conversation with [livejournal.com profile] epicrauko this weekend/last week, and then a copy of it came across my desk at the bindery yesterday... so maybe I'll pick up a copy sometime, who knows.

Anyway, About Writing was good. Delany makes me think about writing in an orthogonal way to the way a lot of writers do. A few key things of his, so I remember them: each word building on an image--add things to the image, don't cut away what you've already caused the reader to picture; structures and patterns create plots; a story about a man going into a store and buying something can sideways-talk about []ism as easily as science fiction can (somehow I hadn't quite gotten that before, and I still don't quite believe that it's as easy, but maybe my brain just works in speculative fiction because I have read so much).

Yesterday--maybe the day before?--I sat down and thought, via a pen and notebook, about where I am in the novel-rewrite process. What's going on, and why, and why it matters to the plot and the themes and all those fun academic writer-y thinky thoughts. I didn't end up actually sitting down and working on it, since I didn't have a ton of free time by a computer that day and I want to at least skim through what I have so far before I go on, but...

...today I sat in the park after the archives, and the rewrite grew a title. So it is officially no longer Mad Library Hermits (which it was until I realized that that was problematic), and it is no longer Badass Library Hermits--both of which were joke-titles off a throw-away one-liner not even in this draft so far. Instead, it is A Returning Power.

Which might be a terrible title anyway, and will likely change, but it's actually about the novel, not my jokes about it. That's a step in the right direction. The fact that I know enough what the novel is about to make it grow titles is proof of a step, too.

Sometimes I feel like one day I will actually be a Real Writer. (The rest of the time is evenly split between "I'm a Real Writer already!" and "I will never be a Real Writer." In case you were wondering.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
What I just had for lunch:
- leftovers of black bean/sweet potato/carrot/kale stirfry from last night
- the end of a (vegan, gluten-free) apple muffin from The Wedge
- some strawberries which I was virtuous in eating because soon they will go bad

Now I'm contemplating a piece of the raisin bread with brown sugar encrusted on the top that my dad made in the breadmaker a few days ago. Which I would put in the toaster oven to make the brown sugar go all melty and delicious.

Also plausible is rice ice-cream substitute with rhubarb sauce on it. Most of the time I am not a huge fan of rice ice-cream substitutes (Oatscreme was fabulous and is now pretty much dead, alas), but rhubarb is excellent.

This post tagged "allergies" because sometimes I forget that I can eat plenty of delicious things anyway.
aamcnamara: (Default)
After due further experimentation:

How to make cake in a mug in a microwave, without gluten, dairy, egg, or soy. (Or many other things.)

ingredients, process, etc. )

Every time I make one of these it is better than the last. Just think, by the time I graduate I will be making fabulous Cake Inna Mug in the microwave!
aamcnamara: (Default)
Baking Adventures With Alena, volume II: Mug microwave cake.

[livejournal.com profile] epicrauko had these at her party last weekend, and I thought, "I should try that sometime." Tonight, having finished a thirteen-page math paper and successfully tromped through the snow to print it out, I decided it was a good time to test this notion.



I started out with this recipe. Obviously, it needs some modification. Different flour, no milk, no egg, no cocoa or chocolate chips, and while I can eat and in fact have oil, it's in a huge bottle and there is no way that's fitting in my tiny dorm fridge.

Oh, and I don't have any sugar, so I used maple syrup.

Picturespam, recipe, further gory details )
Verdict: edible, but could be better.
aamcnamara: (Default)
So the non-main point of this post is that I'm 18 now, and can thus--um-- vote? And smoke, if I wanted to (I have asthma. I don't.), or sign forms for myself without my parents signing for me. Signing forms vicariously is not really a birthday sort of activity, though. (Okay, I have figured out a legitimately awesome thing about turning 18--I can now view LJ posts marked as possibly containing explicit content! Rock.)

The main point of this post is that I decided to make myself a cake.

What kind of cake, you ask?

An ice cream cake.

And here's where I out myself as having lots and lots of food allergies, because it was not just any ice cream cake, it had to be a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free ice cream cake. Oh, and because I don't do anything by halves, I decided that it would be homemade ice cream substitute.

Since this is a nonlinear narrative, here's a picture of the finished cake:


Long post is long. Also, has pictures. ) I am calling this one a win.

More photos here.

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