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Friday, February 29, 2008


I will be done with my core classes this semester -- yeah, let's hope I pass the evil stats! Since our program requires a minor, I need three more electives. Taking one elective now -- and absolutely love it -- but it does not fit well with my prior experience/background and it's too narrow for my future plans. Hopefully, I will be able to pick up at least two electives this coming summer. Then, it's time for the concept paper and the comps! Finally, dissertation! Dare I hope to finish in, maybe, 1 1/2 or 2 years? With a full-time job, it will be tough but, with determination and strict scheduling, it's doable, I think. I just want to get done, it's taking so long...

And my dinner was...


  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, 1/2 finely chopped and 1/2 pureed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4 tbsp butter, 1/2 for sauteeing and 1/2 for basting
  • 1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat (Publix)
  • salt (3 tsp for the shell, to taste for filling)
  • pepper (2 tsp for the sheel, to taste for filling)
  • dried mint, 1 tbsp
  • allspice (1 tsp for the shell, to taste for filling)
  • cinnamon (1 tsp for the shell, to taste for filling)

Cover bulgur wheat with about 1 inch of cold water and soak for 30 mins.

For the filling, saute finely chopped onions and pine nuts in butter until onions are soft and pine nuts are slightly roasted (be careful not to burn!). Add 1/3 ground beef and cook until just no longer pink; don't overcook! Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and allspice; usually 1 tsp each but adjust to your taste.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Season the remaining ground beef with salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and dried mint. Add pureed onion. Squeeze excess water out of wheat and add to raw ground beef mixture. Mix well until the mixture is elastic.

Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray. For each kibbee, shape a meatball approximately the size of large egg, press on your palm into a thin patty, place a heaping spoon of filling, and carefully bring edges together, sealing and forming a football-shaped kibbee. Place on the cookie sheet and lightly baste with melted butter. Bake for 25-30 mins.

Note: I used only 1/2 of ingredients and made 8 kibbee. Kibbee freezes well, too, and can be quickly heated in a microwave as needed.

I served kibbee with...

Tomato-Cucumber Salad:


  • 1-2 ripe tomatoes, chopped -- fairly large chunks
  • 1 pickling cucumber, chopped -- fairly large chunks
  • 1/2 finely chopped onion (small)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil to taste
  • Finely chopped basil, parsley, or mint
  • Optional: finely chopped garlic (just a little bit)

Mix tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and herbs. Salt to taste. Important -- do NOT add oil before salt; salt doesn't dissolve in oil. If you like garlic (I don't), add just a little bit. Add olive oil to taste.

Totally exhausted...

I taught one early-morning (8:00 a.m.) class, finished some paperwork, and went home around 10:00 a.m., feeling totally exhausted, very sleepy for some reason. So I decided to take a quick nap before attacking a mountain of work to be done over the weekend -- oops, didn't wake up until almost 2:30 p.m. What's wrong with me? Yes, it was a killer week, very stressful, still... taking a nap at 10:00 a.m. is not something I normally do.

Next week, I only teach classes as TA and attend my own classes, so won't be as bad. Hopefully, I will make a decent progress on some things that keep getting pushed aside as more pressing issues arise. And the following week -- the conference!!! It's a major conference in my sub-field (teaching these courses only during the summer but they are fun) and so I hope to learn new ideas to be implemented this coming summer. And, of course, I will have a whole week with my very special companion.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dinner Plans

It's cold today and I am exhausted so comfort food tonight...

Zucchini Soup


  • 1.5 cups fresh zucchini, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth (depends on desired consistency)
  • 1 can chicken
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1-2 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (or your favorite cheese), to taste

Bring chicken broth to boil. Add zucchini and cook on medum heat until tender. Meanwhile, saute onions and carrots in olive oil until golden brown; add flour and mix well; add onions to the pot. Add chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Pour into serving bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese, parsley, and bacon. Serve with fresh bread.


Ah, another Wednesday...

Yesterday was a tough day, lots of things to do and a horrible midterm exam. Our "wonderful" instructor gave us a wide range of things to study, holding class for almost 30 extra minutes last week (because she was late for class)! And what did that person do? Gave an 8-page exam to be completed in 1 hour and 80% of it came from the LAST lecture which she presented in a hurry, stumbling over the material and correct English words. There were several questions that make absolutely no sense, even now when I am looking through my notes.

On a bright side, one of our faculty members organized lunch for all women in the department so it will be fun later today. All of us are so busy, passing each other every day with just a wave and quick hello. It will be nice to sit down and chat while enjoying lunch together.

And I am going to Houston in 12 days -- yes, I am counting. ;) We are arriving separately but only 30 mins apart, so will meet at the airport. I can't wait... Conference will be fun but spending a whole week together is a main reason for my excitement, of course.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Textbook reps are annoying, really...

I spent over two hours on the phone with one of our textbook reps, trying to figure out the changes coming our way since we are finally moving from Office 2003 to Office 2007. This person had a high-pitched, really annoying, voice, spoke a mile a minute, kept interrupting me, oozed sweetness that was totally overdone, kept placing me on hold to go and check on things she should have known, refused to send materials unless I decided to use their product... Grrrrrrrrrrr...

To make things worse, one of the new simulations didn't work on my computer and so I am not sure if I should mess with it. It's asking for trouble -- if I couldn't figure out how to install it, what would my students do?!?! The textbook rep connected me with their Tech Support guy and he added to the already annoying situation.

TSG: Do you have admin privileges on your computer?
Alice: Yes.
TSG: Are you sure?
Alice: Yes.
TSG: How do you know?
Alice: Grrrrrrrrrrr (silently). I teach technology courses and so IT people trust me.
TSG: I need to make sure. Let's check this, this, and that.
Alice: OK

It was insulting, did he think I was lying???
When he was finally satisfied that I indeed had full privileges (didn't I tell you, you moron???), he gave a link and a password to download an extra file and drop it into program files; the process involved quite a number of steps. Although no big deal for me, it would be difficult for most of my students. When I told him that, he turned 180 and proceeded to ooze sweetness and declare that their Tech Support would always support my students. Yeah, sure!

Well, the simulation worked -- finally! My next question was about submitting assignments online. More head scratching, placing on hold, etc. Come on, people, can't you learn the specifications of your product?

Anyway, I told the woman I will use the product -- that was the only way to get the review copy. How insane is that?! The only reason I didn't laugh and walked away with thanks but no thanks is lack of decent resources in this particular subject area. So I am going to take a look at the book, play with simulation, and then make a final decision. If she thinks it's a done deal, too bad.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And so tonight I made...

Salad "Princess"
Plenty left for tomorrow's lunch, too!!! :)


  • 1 chicken breast, grilled
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/8 cup roasted nuts (I used pecans)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1/8 cup white raisins
  • salt and pepper (if needed)
  • Fresh basil, dill, or parsley; finely chopped
  • dressing (I used low-fat Ranch)
Chop prunes. Boil 1 cup of water, pour over the prunes, cover, and let soften for 10 minutes. Meanwhile chop chicken, boil eggs, and roast nuts. Mix softened prunes, chicken, roasted nuts, and raisins. Arrange on a plate. Slice eggs and arrange around the chicken mix. Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh basil, dill, or parsley. Add dressing of your choice or just drizzle some olive oil.
Servings: 2
As seen on Nice Food

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Recipe of the Day

It's been so much fun to cook for somebody special this past summer and then on and off until mid January. Now it's only me again and I don't really like the cooking process; the fun of cooking for me is making somebody else smile, share the meal with a special person. Can't wait to do that again, soon... For now, though, I am going to force myself to cook. I was able to really slim down last year but added some unwanted weight over the holidays, then made the problem worse by eating too much junk food. It's easier to grab something ready-made (or worse, fast food) then come home, tired and having a lot of things to do, and cook dinner.

So tonight it's...

Balsamic Chicken and Pears

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 skinless chicken breast, tenderized
  • 1 pear, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (or you can use flour)
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries and raisins
  • Parsley, finely chopped

Heat olive oil over a medium heat and cook chicken breast until done (approximately 8-10 minutes), turning halfway through. Remove chicken and cook pear wedges until lightly browned and tender.

Mix chicken broth, vinegar, and cornstarch until well blended. Pour into the skillet with pears. Heat to boiling and then reduce the heat to low. Add dried cherries/raisins and chicken. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Enjoy! :)

As seen on

Everybody needs a laugh sometimes...

PhD Comics

Monday, February 18, 2008


I had a very productive weekend, wasn't able to accomplish as much as I really wanted but it's OK. Mainly, I worked on the ongoing research project. Usually, I can't concentrate because of other demands -- grading, projects for the current classes, family stuff, etc. This weekend, I left all books and papers in my car, so I won't even be tempted to do anything other than the research project. It's fun and I wish I had more uninterrupted periods of time to work on it...

Alas, two other projects are due this week... and midterm grades are to be posted by Thursday...

Oh, and it looks like we are going here in May!!! If any of you been there before, I would love to hear from you!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Almost midterm, already...

Time flies in a constant blur of deadlines... My first midterm is next week and, oh my, tons of notes to go through. However, this particular professor is awesome and so I don't anticipate any problems. It's a fun class and so easy to learn the material.

The following week, though, I am taking midterm exam in my measurement course. Now, this one will be a killer. We fly through mostly abstract material (lots of proofs and formulas) and only one page of notes is allowed, so a lot of cramming... What's the point? I doubt the professor remembers those formulas (keeps looking them up) but no choice -- memorize, regurgitate, forget. So useless...

I don't claim to be the best instructor but in my math course I provide challenging situations that test student's mastery rather than ability to memorize formulas.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cats, anyone?

I was sweet-talked into taking two cats two years ago. Oh, how I regret that decision! Cleaning cat litter and constantly vacuuming my house is NOT something I like doing. Not. at. all! So, I will provide food and litter if somebody, please, get these two rascals out of my house!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

On procrastination...

On Sunday mornings, my Inbox is always full of frantic emails, sent late on Saturday night. Why? Because my course deadlines are 11:59 p.m. on Saturday nights. Because students wait to the last moment, again and again. Because Murphy's law still works and problems crop up if you wait to the last moment.

And so I have a long list of complaints -- "grandchild typed in my answers when I left the computer for a few minutes," "virus invaded my computer," "power went out," "became sick," "misread directions..." The list goes on and on... Even though my syllabi clearly state: "No make ups unless there is a valid and documented emergency."

On a bright note, it's a beautiful sunny day and so I am going to ignore these emails and post another reminder, again: No make ups, refer to your course syllabus, please. Smile! :)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Just thinking...

It's Saturday so I don't have to make myself "presentable" before venturing out. Just thinking, how much time do we spent in our lives just to "face the world"? I mean, the basic grooming doesn't take that long. It's putting all that make-up on, choosing the best outfit, deliberating over shoes, etc. that takes time, right? So this morning a quick shower and basic things like brushing teeth will suffice. No worries about what to wear -- since I keep the temperature high, it's warm and cozy in my house so a pair of shorts and a T-shirt are just fine. All done, in 15 minutes, maybe? Now let's attack a mountain of work, while munching on a banana!!! :)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Fresh pita and hummus, anybody?

Didn't feel like cooking a full meal tonight. I could get something out of freezer -- lots of frozen stuff there, for extremely hectic days when taste doesn't matter as much as nutrition (um, like getting enough calories to keep going). Yet, I was craving something fresh. And so I made fresh pita and hummus. Yum! :)

Pita Bread

Dissolve 1 pkg of quick rising yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add 1 tsp of sugar and make sure it dissolves as well. Set aside for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, measure 3 cups of flour (original recipe calls for all-purpose, I used bread flour because that's all I had tonight) into a medium bowl. Add 2 tsp salt and mix. Make a depression in the middle. When yeast mixture is frothy (do wait 15 mins), pour it into flour and salt mixture. Add 1 cup of warm water. Mix until becoming elastic.

Knead dough for 5-10 minutes or until it doesn't stick and is smooth and elastic. Spray a large bowl with olive oil, place dough in the bowl and turn until well coated. Cover and allow to rise for 3 hours.

Separate dough into 10 balls and place them on a floured surface. Cover and leave for 10 mins. Meanwhile, set the oven rack on the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 500.

Roll each ball into a circle (approximately 5 inches diameter) -- I roll out two pitas at a time. Preheat the baking sheet. Place two pitas on the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 4 minutes. Turn and bake for 2 more minutes. Immediately place into a large Ziploc bag.


Drain 1 can of garbanzo peas (chick peas) but reserve the liquid, if you like. Place chick peas in a food processor. Add 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of lemon juice, 1/4 tsp of ground red pepper, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp finely chopped parsley, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Process until smooth. You may need to add some reserved liquid and/or oil in order to achieve the desired consistency. The original recipe calls for garlic but I don't like garlic.

It's Friday!!!

It's Friday?!?! Another week has flown by and, even though I didn't miss any deadlines, I wasn't able to make as much progress on the paper I am writing as I wanted. Mainly because I found some new items and became distracted -- bad idea! I really need to work on my "concentration" skills and stick with what I already have instead of admiring the remaining million or so related things. I realize that I will never be able to include everything I want and so must set boundaries. Ah, working on it...

Today should be a good writing day, though. I only have one class and then no meetings. Yeah!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I don't understand... excuse

Don't you love it when students fall behind in class and blame it on the teacher, with that best excuses of all, "But I don't understand it...." In one of my production classes, I want students to go through entire chapter and complete all exercises before attempting the assessment at the end. Even though I only grade the assessment, it's virtually impossible to do well on it unless chapter exercises have been completed (or at least reviewed).

During the first week of classes, this student just sat and stared at her book. I offer individual help but, of course, I won't complete exercises for them. In order to get help from me, you have to ask specific questions. You can't do that unless you read the book.

Ms. Alice: "Did you read the book?"

Student: "No, I didn't have time."

Ms. Alice: "OK, read the book and then start working on exercises. If you are still confused, we will address specific issues."

The student is motionless for the next 15 mins... OK, maybe reading???

Ms. Alice: "So, how's it going?"

Student: "I don't understand how to complete this assessment."

Ms. Alice: "OK, did you read the book and attempt simple exercises?"

Student: "No."

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah! What do you want me to do then?!?!

I haven't seen her for two weeks. Now she is complaining that she doesn't understand how to complete work in my class. Did she read the book? I don't think so.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Moving along...

Even though I stayed up very late last night (well, this morning, I guess), helping Dr. Special study over the phone, I was up at 8:30 a.m. Mainly because my parents are here and I wanted to make breakfast for them. I don't see them that often so it's a treat to have them for a weekend.

My choices weren't that healthy but yummy -- pigs in blankets (made with Parker's roll so soft inside but crispy outside, so good), boiled eggs, and fruit salad. And I love my Tassimo -- everybody had what they wanted, fresh and delicious (tea, regular coffee, and cappuccino).

Now I am working on the list:

  • Update grades (for seven classes, it's a never-ending task)
  • Post announcements for all classes
  • Do homework for two classes
  • Write a 10-page paper
  • Write a case summary
  • Write at least a couple of pages for the on-going research paper
  • Look over the lesson plans for next week and tweak as necessary
  • Write and submit a conference proposal
  • Write and submit another conference proposal (came with this idea last night)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Relax now, work later...

Wow, another Saturday is here... Every week seems to be a blur of activities as we are hurling toward the midterm, then toward the finals... and then another semester... and another...

There are times when you just have to say -- Stop! I need a moment of peace, just to enjoy life and forget about never-ending deadlines, demands, etc. I am doing this today, even though I am posting a list of things to do, so I don't get too lazy.

I allowed myself to sleep in this morning (ah, 9:00 a.m., what a treat), enjoying a delicious latte now, while waiting for my parents to arrive. We will enjoy each other's company, Mom and I cook lunch together (just like the old times), maybe go for a walk... Just a quiet day, enjoying life, catching up (haven't seen them for over a month).

Then tomorrow, I need to:
  • Update grades (for seven classes, it's a never-ending task)
  • Post announcements for all classes
  • Do homework for two classes
  • Write a 10-page paper
  • Write a case summary
  • Write at least a couple of pages for the on-going research paper
  • Look over the lesson plans for next week and tweak as necessary
  • Write and submit a conference proposal

avandia class action