Monthly Archives: January 2013

Aloo Gobi

Last week, I asked all of my friends (aka, the people I’m roping into helping me) what they’d like to be called in the blog. They all decided to go by self-chosen nicknames, and I have promised that I will use said nicknames for the duration of this experiment.

With that note, today’s professor was Mrs. Gregory Peck (henceforth shortened to MGP), and the item on the docket was aloo gobi. She would like me to note that Gregory Peck, winner of World’s Most Expressive Eyebrows 1944 to 2003, is her soulmate now and forever.

MGP would also like me to note, for future reference, that she is white and does not claim to know the first thing about making legit Indian food—but she can mix up some tasty potatoes and cauliflower.

Exhibit A:

Aloo Gobi

(Yes, that is totally my dining room table! I feel like such an adult.)

So, I really like Indian food. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I would cut off my right arm if it meant being able to replicate the chicken makhani and naan from the Indian place near my office. And then I remember that I really like my right arm, so it’s back to the drawing board.

I’ve never attempted to make my own Indian food because the ingredient lists are always so daunting. However, MGP assured me that this was something I could totally do. She sort of winged it on the recipe front, but here’s how I remember it:

  1. Chop up a buttload (technical term) of potatoes. 
  2. Do the same with some cauliflower.
  3. Put them in a pan.
  4. Add some other ingredients and various spices until the potato/cauliflower mixture turns a pretty color.
  5. Sprinkle in some garam masala (correct amount = however much is left over after the bag rips and seasons the floor, the chef, and the sink).
  6. Let it cook for however long it takes to Facebook stalk three mutual friends.
  7. Mash it until you can’t find the cauliflower anymore.
  8. Cut up some peppers and add to pan.
  9. Watch it cook until your stomach starts eating itself.
  10. Add fresh cilantro.
  11. Enjoy!

Moral of the story: Never use a recipe EVER because the aloo gobi was amazing.

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Spinning a Basketball

There’s nothing cooler than being able to spin a basketball on your finger. Okay, there are probably tons of things cooler. Like motorcycles. And Wayfarers. And baby hedgehogs. Coolest thing in the universe? Clearly a baby hedgehog wearing Wayfarers while riding a motorcycle.

[Photo unavailable.]

But spinning a basketball on your finger is probably fourth on the list of the world’s coolest things, and that’s why I jumped at the chance to learn how to perform such an amazing feat.

Today’s professor was Midge (obviously not her real name because this is not 1963). She provided the basketball and allowed me the use of her apartment in which to practice. Yes, we were violating every rule my parents ever told me about playing with a basketball inside; however, nothing was broken! There were some near misses, though:

  1. The lamp
  2. The lamp switch (managed to turn it off with an errant ball but couldn’t turn it on again)
  3. The TV remote
  4. My cell phone
  5. The yoga ball
  6. The couch (multiple occasions)
  7. The sliding glass doors (multiple occasions)
  8. Two Lack tables
  9. The entertainment center
  10. Multiple framed pictures

Here’s the before:

Basketball Fail

And the after:

Basketball Win

(I was even with it enough to throw up the shaka.)

(Just kidding. I only have two fingers on my left hand.)

(Just kidding again. I’m clearly too lightning fast for the camera to handle.)

I managed to get about a 3-second spin by the end of it. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but trust me…there were 47 pictures, and we only recorded about a third of the attempts, so we’re counting it as a success.

And to Midge’s downstairs neighbors, I am so so sorry.

Backward Crossovers

When this skill was first suggested, I was a bit skeptical. Once I give you a little background info, you’ll see why:

I’ve always wanted to learn to play ice hockey, and when I graduated from college and got my first real job, I decided to spend my first grown-up paycheck on gear and lessons.

I started class and then proceeded to tear both my MCLs. I recovered, re-joined the class for the next season, and cracked a rib. I recovered again and decided the class was not doing wonders for my health, so I figured I would just join a team and start playing. And then I dislocated my shoulder. So, as you can see, as much as I love hockey, mine is a painful, unrequited love.

As you can imagine, I missed out on learning a few key skating maneuvers thanks to my many injuries. Backward crossovers was one of them.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with skating lingo, a backward crossover is a way to gain speed while you’re skating backwards.

It comes in really handy for figure skating and ice dancing. A little bit less handy for hockey. Waaaay less handy for the kind of hockey I was playing (also known as “throwing yourself at the puck and hoping the guy is too weirded out by your flailing to continue skating”). But I had someone who swore she could teach me, so off we went! Outdoor rink, ho!

My friends put forth a valiant effort. However, as hard as they tried, yelling “SWIZZLE! SWIZZLE! SWIZZLE!” at me was not as productive as you might think. BUT, toward the end of the session, there I was…almost killing a little kid in an orange jacket. (There is video of me almost killing the kid in the orange jacket, but sadly it will not be posted here. Instead, enjoy a picture of me not doing backward crossovers! It was sent to me with the caption “Badass!” so I feel it must be included.)

Backward crossovers

I actually did end up doing what some near-sighted people might consider one solitary backward crossover. I never managed to get a good round going, but I could pick up speed while going backwards in a circle—which was something I definitely couldn’t do before. So while it may not be a true “backward crossover” in the legitimate technical sense, I learned a new skill! It doesn’t have a name yet. Maybe I’ll call it an “Allie-oop” or something equally horrifying.

See you next time!

Napkin folding. Like a boss.

Did I say 11:59 Pacific? Because I’m pretty sure I meant 11:59 Hawaii time. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

This week’s skill: The art of napkin folding. Apologies for the horrible picture. Cell camera + Ikea lighting = no bueno.

Napkins

This lovely design is known as the Diamond Fold, though I also learned the Pyramid, the Bird of Paradise, the Standing Fan, and the Rose. I have pictures of them in all their napkin-y glory, but I will spare you the subpar photo quality.

Do I have any idea how I will be using this skill at any point in the near future? No, I do not. The reasons for this are twofold:

1. I had obviously never needed cloth napkins enough to actually have any around my house and therefore had to go to a store and buy them in order to accomplish this task. (They were $5, so I will probably not be going hungry because of my extravagant purchase.)

2. WHO USES CLOTH NAPKINS ANYMORE? Okay, they’re better for the environment, yes, but I have enough trouble washing my real, everyday clothes and linens. I have a feeling cloth napkins would quickly become the bane of my laundry existence, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the linty towel fiasco of oh-twelve.

But I’m sure I’ll find a way. And despite the fact that my napkins aren’t properly starched (which is apparently a thing I guess), if there’s ever a napkin emergency, I will be on it. “We need a napkin shaped like a neck tie! Stat!”

Plus, we got to prep for the napkin-folding tutorial by watching Roman Holiday, and Gregory Peck’s left eyebrow just makes everything worthwhile.

Gregory Peck

Until next week!

They see me questin’, they hatin’

As an editor, I do a lot of reading. I fact-check. I research. I learn. I know a little bit about a lot of things, and I love being a purveyor of useless knowledge.

Want to know how an anglerfish mates? I’ve got you covered. What about the etymology of the word “Lego”? Yup, good on that too. And what the heck is Canadian Thanksgiving? I can tell you what it’s all aboot. But I can’t whistle. And I can’t juggle. And I don’t know how to knit.

I spend all of my time in front of a laptop, a TV, or an iPhone. But when I look back on my life in 50 years, the things that stick with me probably won’t be “Gangnam Style” or the Gossip Girl series finale. I doubt I’ll remember anything I saw on Texts From Last Night or Buzzfeed. And it’s pretty unlikely I’ll recall that one thing I posted on Facebook that one time. In fact, I hope none of my fondest memories have anything to do with electronic devices.

Instead, I’ll remember the day I (accidentally) swam with sharks, the day I graduated from college, the day I played in my first ice hockey game, the day I moved into my first apartment…

All of these moments are burned into my memory, not just because of the events themselves, but because of the people who helped me get there and shared those moments with me. After thinking about it for a while, I decided I wanted to find a way to create more of those moments.

That desire is what gave me the idea for this little quest of mine.

When I first hatched the plan, my goal was to learn one new thing a week (and, since a quest is nothing without a written record, I would obviously have to blog about it). I set no limits on what I could learn or how I could learn it; everything was fair game. I taught myself the cup game. I learned how to do the Charleston. But something didn’t feel right, and I could tell I wasn’t making lasting memories. Plus, I was actually spending more time in front of the computer instead of less. YouTube videos and online tutorials weren’t going to cut it.

So it was back to the drawing board for me. I realized that, to make the kinds of memories I wanted to make, I would need to involve real people. Real human people. People I would interact with face-to-face and have to talk to and stuff. I wasn’t just going to be learning things anymore; I’d have to be taught.

And this is where Bill Nye factors into the equation. (Yes, that Bill Nye…the voice of a generation, patron saint of the wheeled TV cart, hero to students and substitute teachers everywhere.) In an AMA on Reddit a few months back, the Science Guy said something that really stuck with me: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

I realized that I wouldn’t have to pay for dance lessons or music lessons to accomplish my goal; I could conscript my friends and family into service.

So this is how it’s going to work:

Every week, I’m going to get someone to teach me something. If I know that a person has a particular skill, I can request they teach me that skill; however, in most cases, I will be at the mercy of my teacher. And if I can’t find anyone to teach me something I want to learn, I’ll find a way to gather the knowledge, and I’ll learn the skill with anyone who wants to learn it with me. I will be doing the things and posting the blogs every Sunday night by 11:59 pm.

Anyone is welcome to suggest something for me to attempt, but please keep all requests within the realm of possibility (read: I won’t be risking life or limb, and money is a bit of an object). Lastly, though this blog is a New Year’s baby, it isn’t a New Year’s resolution as such, so I have no idea how long it will last. I guess I’ll keep going until I run out of teachers. Or until I stop having fun. After all, “[s]he who laughs most, learns best.”