Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A room with a brew

I've been really busy packing up all my earthly possessions this weekend in preparation for the big move, which is about as exciting to read about as it is to actually do, which is why I haven't updated in a few days. Actually, I guess I usually go a few days between updates, so I really needn't have bothered making excuses for it. At any rate, suffice is to say, even though I'm only moving all my stuff 6 blocks from where it is now, when you add in 5 flights of stairs (1 down and 4 up for the carrying stuff leg of the trip), it will always be a chore.

The one time I left the den of boxes and bubble wrap this weekend was to journey to the Brooklyn Brewery for the 826 Volunteer Appreciation Party. This is a once-a-year hipster rally in which all the volunteers in the 826 network come out of the woodwork to try to make small-talk with 826 founder, Dave Eggers. When I went a couple of years ago, there were other celebs in attendance, New York 826 Prez Sarah Vowell and (somewhat more surprising) Michelle Williams with her daughter Matilda. I had a brief but exciting (well, for me anyway) conversation with Matilda about pencil erasers. This was before she was named by New York Magazine as one of the "10 Most Powerful Children in New York," but I think we could both already tell she had more going on than I did.

This year, Dave Eggers had to hold down the fort alone and thus had his hands pretty full mingling with the hoards of Brooklyn's hippest. My friends and I decided that rather than wait in line for our chance to chat him up or join one of the pick-up Scrabble games, that we would go on the free tour of the brewery. I'd never been to the Brooklyn Brewery, whose New York production is housed in a former matzo ball factory. The tour wasn't super exciting, but it was interesting to learn that the company was basically formed by two random neighbors in Park Slope who decided to quit their day jobs and brew beer. I mean, I guess, for every story of two plucky entrepreneurs creating a successful start-up, there are probably at least ten more of people loosing their life savings because they thought the world needed a combination laundromat/take-out Chinese restaurant. Still, it's heartening to see someone's dream of living off their beer money come to fruition.

Standing in front of some sort of beer processing tankard. I didn't really pay attention on the tour, but I think this is where they add the yeast?

This was an enjoyable outing, minus some bitter coldness on the walk back to the train. I've decided packing is made easier with the addition of beer. Wish me luck on the move tomorrow! Dinah is probably more nervous than I am, as the fact that her entire world is now packed up in boxes has not gone unnoticed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pushing 60

Hard to believe it's been another 30 days since last I updated you on my p90x progress. Actually, it might seem to you that I very recently updated you, but from my point of view it's been a while.

The second segment of p90x was a little shakier than the first. Daylight savings time has not been friendly to my waking-up-at-6-am to exercise plan. There was a solid week when I just couldn't get up in the morning and ended up having to work out in the evening instead (something I really hate). Also, I'm ashamed to say I missed a day in the last 30. It was just a day of stretching during the recovery week, but I'm still feeling a little guilty that I didn't make it up. It was during the week or so that I had what I'm pretty sure was at least walking pneumonia, but that my doctor insists was "seasonal allergies." Getting a Nyquil induced 8-hours of sleep won out over a cough-fest while doing stretches.

Other than that one day, I've been trucking along. I'm getting more adept at completing the moves correctly. The p90x system supposedly works through the process of "muscle confusion" meaning that your body never adapts because you keep changing things up. This may be true, but unfortunately while my muscles may be confused by all the different movements, my mind has quickly learned the workouts and started to find them repetitive. Sometimes this is a benefit because it enables me to count down how many exercises I have left in the routine (although it's unfortunate if I accidentally forget one, only to be blind-sighted by one of my least favorites right when I think I'm in the home stretch). However, I worry that my capacity to "bring it" is being compromised as my mind starts to wander. I'm focusing more and more on the human drama and what I perceive to be Tony's relationships to his back-up people.

Many of them are clearly Tony's friends. I suspect Dreya more just humors him by smiling at his jokes. Daniel takes his good natured ribbing with a laugh, but I feel like he silently resents Tony every time he is scolded for not being low enough in his squat or screwing up his form. The lawyer, whose name I don't remember, clearly hates Tony. So obvious (or at least after repeat viewings fully of scrutiny and analysis) is this, that I wonder how he got on the video at all. And then there's Pete (or is it Kyle?), the super fit Asian guy whose name changes about three times through the Back and Shoulders dvd.
I think the reason Tony chose to add an X to his regular p90 workout is because of how easy it was for him to visualize the marketing campaign.

It isn't all bad though. This morning I noticed that if I feel my stomach, I can note individual abdominal muscles. I'm hopeful that these are the humble beginning of a six-pack and plan to try to nurture them out of their shell over the next 30 days. By 90, I plan to be able to wash clothes on them. I've always been blessed with a fairly flat stomach though, so the changes in tone I was really looking for were in my legs and arms. I haven't noticed huge changes in definition, but I am able to do more push ups and use heavier resistance bands than I used to, so clearly I'm stronger, even if it's not a visible strength yet. I'm looking forward to seeing how this evolves as I enter the home stretch!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Macaron Crawl 2011

This weekend one of my oldest friends (in terms of years of spent being my friend, not years on Earth) came to visit. She is an ideal guest in that she doesn't make any demands to see tourist attractions, but prefers to mostly take in one of the best parts of New York: food. We've been eating very well the last couple of days and fully plan to continue eating well until she leaves me to go back to Texas. While we've been eating some excellent meals, one of the largest parts of our food odyssey was our celebration of Macaron Day yesterday.

"What is Macaron Day?" you ask. Well, up until two days ago I was also in ignorance of this magical holiday. Macaron Day is an annual (well, this is the second annual one anyway) day on which bakeries throughout the five boroughs give patrons one free sample of these delicious almondy cookies that delicately sandwich ganache, buttercream, or preserves. As macarons are notoriously expensive at snooty French bakeries, this is a day worth waiting for. I only found out about it because a thoughtful friend sent out an email, but I'm already marking my calendar for next year. Somewhat hilariously, after receiving the email announcing Macaron Day we made that our sole plan for the day. We drew up a carefully laid strategy including walking directions for how to hit the greatest number of bakeries in the most logical order. We invited friends. We set out fully prepared. Then we got to the first bakery, asked for our free Macaron Day macarons, and were, not unkindly, informed that it was tomorrow.

Not deterred, we revised the plan, vowed to start earlier the next day, and added three new bakeries to the roster. The following is an outline of our journey through the land of free French confections.

Stop 1: Macaron Cafe
We began in the Upper East Side at Macaron Cafe. They certainly get points for cuteness, as well as for going the extra mile and providing cookie samples as well as offering the freebies. My fellow Macaron Day celebrants and I wanted to save ours all for our planned Macaron Picnic at the conclusion of the patisserie crawl, so it was nice to have a sample to tide us over. Also, everyone in the shop seemed to be authentically French, as did many of the patrons. Overall, bravo Macaron Cafe! A lovely place to start the morning.

Stop 2: Francois Chocolate Bar in the Plaza Hotel
From Macaron Cafe, we journeyed west to the Plaza Hotel where we found the Francois Chocolate Bar. They were very organized and prepared for hoards of macaron fans with a seperate booth set up near the counter. Strangely, there never seemed to be any hoards of macaron fans. Usually trying to chase free things in New York means going elbow to elbow with people who are bigger than you, probably make more money, and yet somehow want it more. Macaron Day luckily hasn't quite gotten that same momentum and was relatively crowd free. We collected our Francois Chocolate Bar fare and, after being judged by a stuck-up hat designer, decided it was probably time to leave the Plaza. We then made a quick stop for tupperware because we realized our macarons were far too delicate for unprotected purse travel.

Stop 3: Bouchon Bakery
Continuing westward, we made it to Columbus Circle for Bouchon Bakery. I've been meaning to go to Bouchon anyway ever since I heard of the TKO or Thomas Keller Oreo (like an oreo, but bigger and 10 times more amazing). For this reason, this was the only bakery stop on the tour that led to a purchase. Although the free macarons here were a sample size that was about 1/10 the size of their regular macarons, the TKO with it's impossibly smooth white chocolate ganache and dark chocolatey cookies was enough to make me stand behind Bouchon unquestionably. Yes, the prices are steep, but they clearly put a lot of that into the ingredients they use.

Stop 4: Jacques Torres
Next, we hit up Rockefeller Center's Jacques Torres location. At this point, it was about 1:30, and they were already out of macarons. This was a blow, but I was willing forgive them this because Jacques Torres hot chocolate is the stuff that dreams are made, and I have enjoyed it on many a cold winter's day.

Stop 5: Francois Payard Bakery
After a quick break for lunch in Washington Square Park, we headed down through Greenwich Village for Francois Payard's. This isn't a terribly good picture because it was so sunny and it was too crowded inside to take a photo. I'd been meaning to get to this bakery as well because some woman in my book club who has lived in New York her whole life said they have the best croissants in the city. I didn't manage a croissant, but we did all get free macarons. At this point our macaron crawl group had swelled from the original three to a powerful five, enabling us to gather many more macarons at each location. As it turns out, the macarons at this location were the same as the ones at the Plaza. The two Francois bakeries are in fact affiliated, and incidently it was Francois himself who first started Macaron Day. Knowing we had spares, we went ahead and ate these, toasting to the first macarons of the day.

Stop 6: Cours La Reine
Eastward bound now, we headed for Soho and Cours La Reine. You might notice in this picture that the location looks less like a bakery and more like a hair salon. That's because Cours La Reine is actually a pop up patisserie that's only open Fridays and Saturdays at Eva Scrivo Salon. Apparently, there's some deal where you can get your hair done while drinking champagne and eating macarons. This is the level of decadence I hope to achieve someday, as all I get at my salon is tap water. The macarons here had the most unique flavor options (pomegranate, lavendar, grand marnier, and cassis were all featured) and also the loveliest little cookie treasures.

Stop 7: Bisous Ciao
The final stop on our tour was Bisous Ciao. They, like Jacques Torres before them, were out of macarons. Well, not out as that's all they sell, just "out of free ones." They were more than willing to sell us some though, but that hardly seemed in the Macaron Day spirit. And at this point we had plenty already.

Having gathered all our treasures we spread out the spoils in a small parkish area. The only place to sit was on some benches already occupied by a single man who looked at us warily as we unveiled several tupperware containers of macarons on the pavement.

Behold the spoils of the day! It looks kind of strange to see normally expensive pastry products strewn on cement, but rest assured this was in a park area, not just on the sidewalk. We tried to maintain some Macaron Day standards, after all.

I'm sure all New York dwelling readers who enjoy macarons are eagerly awaiting the verdict on taste. The group fairly unanimously decided that Cours La Reine had the best texture (not too chewy, very moist) but that they had a slight after taste from the liberal addition of food coloring. Francois Payard's were uniformly good and had unique flavors like passion fruit and cranberry, but they were a little drier. Bouchon's little mini macarons were as delightful to eat as they were cute to look at. Macaron Cafe's were not quite as nice texture-wise, but we did like that they used real preserves as the filling for their fruit macarons. Overall, none of these places were particularly slouches in the macaron world.

Thus ends my summary of Macaron Day 2011. I fear this is one of my longest posts, and it's entirely about frou frou cookies...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Here comes the sun

My last baking project was something of a flop. I made some Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day and it turned out incredibly dry and bland. I mean, I think it's more because Irish Soda Bread is by nature dry and bland than that I messed up, but either way I was ultimately left disappointed. Nevertheless, last night I began a more ambitious project. I again opened the cupcake book from which these cartilaginous bad boys arose. Today is the birthday of the girl who gave that book to me a couple of years ago as a secret santa gift in our office gift exchange, so I wanted to make something special. Interestingly, my secret santa this year gave me a cupcake caddy to better transport my creations to the office. I'm beginning to sense a subtext to their generosity.

After the shark incident took so many hours and caused my kitchen to be shellacked in sugar, I thought I'd try something a little simpler. Something with the same level of cuteness, but that wouldn't require trying to balance Twinkies upright on round surfaces using only frosting as adhesive. Owing to that and to the lovely weather we've been having here that makes it feel like spring, I decided on the sunflower cupcakes. I think they came out rather well, so I'm including a few pictures below:

I guess this really screams summer more than spring. I'm just happy I don't need a coat to walk in the park anymore!

A field of sunflowers! As you can see some of my creations are more exact and some have a more Van Gogh impressionist quality. Those are the ones I did when my arm started to get tired, but frankly, I like them better.

My little sunflowers nestled in their greenhouse. I really just wanted to show off the cupcake caddy. It certainly made subway travel easier than the bootleg aluminum tray I used to use.

For those of you interested in making these yourself (they really are pretty easy--only they have the advantage of looking super hard), I'm including the recipe:

Yield: 24 flowered cupcakes

24 vanilla cupcakes baked in green paper liners
2 (16-ounce) cans vanilla frosting, divided
Green, yellow, and black food coloring
14-16 regular chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies (Oreos)
Sugar green leaves (optional--I just happened to find them at the cake decorating store)
2 tablespoons dark-chocolate frosting
6-10 red candy-coated chocolates (M&M's)

1. Tint 1 1/2 cups of the vanilla frosting green with the food coloring. Spread an even layer of the green frosting on top of the cupcakes and smooth. Arrange the chocolate sandwich cookies randomly over the cupcakes, pressing them into the frosting to secure.

2. Tint the remaining vanilla frosting bright yellow with the food coloring. Press out the excess air and seal the bag.

3. Reinforce the corner of each bag with 6 overlapping layers of transparent tape. Pinch the taped corners flat and cut a small V-shape in the corner to make a leaf tip. Pipe yellow-orange frosting around the edge of each cookie to make petals. Pipe another circle of petals just inside the first, slightly overlapping.

4. Tint the chocolate frosting black with the food coloring and spoon it into a sandwich-size zippered bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Snip a 1/16-inch corner from the bag.

For each cupcake, pipe a dot of black frosting on one of the cookies and attach the red chocolate candy to make a ladybug. Pipe a line of black frosting down the center of each ladybug and add a dot for the head and a few dots on the back.

See? What could be easier? Happy nearly spring to all my readers! I hope the weather is as lovely where you are it is here this week.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Leaving Astoria for the land of budget electric chairs

It was fairly beautiful in New York this weekend. Temperatures almost up to the 60s. All I needed was a light jacket and a park to walk around in and my weekend was set. Of course, after spending most of the weekend outside, my cold of the last few weeks seems to have flared up with a vengeance, so perhaps almost 60 isn't light jacket weather after all. Thanks goodness for cough drops. I'm finding that they always seem to taste less like "harvest peach" and "100% pure wildflower honey" and more like menthol, but at least I'm annoying my co-workers slightly less with my constant coughing.

This weekend, I left the gentle embrace of an Astorian Saturday and took a nice long ride on the N train down to Brooklyn. The reason for my borough betrayal? The hunt for cheap furniture. I read about the Film Biz Prop Shop in New York Magazine's recent "Best of New York" issue. Basically, its a thrift store full of cast-off props from movie, tv show, and music video shoots. As I have a new apartment coming up that needs a couple of pieces (mainly a small desk/table and possibly a coffee table), it seemed worth a trip. After all, IKEA furniture is cheap and great for frequent moves because you don't get too attached to it if it doesn't fit in your new place, but it is always nice to have a piece of furniture with a story. Or at least one people don't immediately shout out the Swedish name for as soon as they walk in your door, because they have the same $10 coffee table in their apartment.

To readers who live in New York, I would highly recommend a trip to the Film Biz Prop Shop. Although, I didn't buy anything (this was mostly just a research mission), I did find a lot of really cool items. They have a scale model of an electric chair for $500, a bunch of working typewriters, a scale model of the human brain, not to mention tons of things you might actually want to buy! Situated just out of smelling distance of the Gowanus Canal, the Prop Shop is located through a back fence, down a basement hallway, into the 11,000 foot show room. Short of putting up a "no trespassing" sign, I don't think they could make their entrance look less like an entrance. Definitely one of those places you need to know is there before going.

I would have gotten so many more and better pictures if I hadn't left my camera memory card at home, yet again. The Iphone doesn't capture the magnitude of the space well, but look at all the lamps!

In addition to having a great deal of nice, quirky furniture and housewares, there was also a full aisle of props for rather specific purposes, thoughtfully organized into boxes. This would definitely be a fine place to go for party decorations as they had a box for virtually very holiday or celebration. Also, if you're in the market for some fake food for your low-budget stage play, I know a great place to start.

I won't draw too much attention to this one because my grandmother sometimes reads my blog (Hi, Grandmother!), but this should give you an idea of some of the unique props and array of oddities for purchase.

Overall, even though I returned empty-handed (again, something I consider a good thing as if I bought anything now, it would be one more thing I would have to move in a couple of weeks), I had a lot of fun exploring this shop. Other than being located outside of Astoria, I have nothing but positive things to say about Film Biz.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Living life by the half rack

The other night my new roommates (which reminds me: I recently got a couple of new roommates!), suggested we go to happy hour at the restaurant below our apartment. The restaurant, Ovelia, is a great one. I made it a brunch staple for the first few months I lived in my apartment until such point as I realized it was probably not healthy (physically or financially) to eat french toast stuffed with Greek yogurt absolutely every Sunday morning. Instead, I've now replaced that habit with eating waffles I make at home as often as possible, but that's really neither here nor there.

Despite being a frequently patron of Ovelia's brunch, I'd only been there once at night and never for happy hour. On the one hand, because it's a good place and right under where I sleep, you'd think I'd be a frequent visitor. However, usually if I'm going to go out, I do so in Manhattan right after work or meet someone elsewhere. By the time I get back to my apartment, I'm usually just heading home to chill with Dinah. Still, as the roommates are new to the neighborhood and thus imbued with the enthusiasm for Astoria that I really ought to have considering I write a blog theoretically about it, they are eager to try the local spots. And as happy hour is nearly always a good idea, and I liked the fact that I could wear sandals even though it was 30 degrees out because I wouldn't be outside for more than 10 steps, I said yes.

An Astorian hot spot. I've always enjoyed their music selection, which I can hear from my living room, except when it's playing loudly at 2 am. It's peppy and fun, with just the right amount of Billy Joel.

The only problem with the timing of happy hour was that I'd been about to eat dinner. Going to a restaurant and hoping to save money by just buying one happy hour beverage is like going to the grocery store when you're hungry. Especially if the grocery store smells delicious and specializes in awesome Greek food that keeps coming out and being given to other grocery store shoppers. Okay, forget that analogy: going to a restaurant when you're hungry is so much stupider than going to the grocery store hungry. So yes, surviving on just my $5 happy hour sangria would have been very difficult (despite my eating the fruit garnishes for sustenance), but what made it officially impossible was that at Ovelia on Wednesdays it's apparently Rib Night.

On Wednesday Rib Night at Ovelia, you can get a half rack of ribs with two sides and cornbread for $14.95. Maybe I've just been living in New York too long, but that seems like a great price! Especially given that you can easily split it between two people OR have the leftovers for lunch. We pledged to make Wednesday rib night a regular thing. I'm secretly thankful I hadn't heard of this until right before I'm planning to move. That's right, readers, I'm moving! Luckily not too far from where I live now (and certainly close enough to still indulge in some ribbage, although far enough that I'd probably have to put on weather appropriate footwear).

Details on my new apartment to come soon! But rest assured, it will still be in Astoria. I refused to look outside this neighborhood in part because I love it and in part because it would be too taxing to have to come up with a new blog name.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The pluck of the Irish

There are so many reasons to appreciate the month of March. The weather is finally starting to come around and be a bit more forgiving. Piles of trash snow are a thing of February. Crocuses are starting to poke up any place that isn't paved. More importantly, March is the month of St. Patrick's Day. You'd think it's just a day, but you would be incorrect. At least if you live in New York City.

Every card shop I go in (I have been in them a lot lately as I know a lot of March birthdays), has wiped the shelves clean of Valentines Cards and put up their St. Patrick's Day offerings. I didn't realize people sent St. Patrick's Day cards, as I myself am lucky enough to get out the Christmas ones. But they make wholes shelves of them, so surely somebody must be on their game. Either that or the greeting card companies just haven't figured out a way to pimp Lent yet.

In New York City, St. Patrick's Day kicks off two weekends before when everyone piles onto the PATH train and heads to Hoboken to get drunk in the day time. Much like the Times Square at Midnight thing, Hoboken at St. Patrick's Day is a tradition I'm willing to forgo. Both involve far too much waiting around in huge crowds of drunk people without proper bathroom receptacles. A few weeks later on the actual day itself, there is the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Apparently this parade is the oldest (the first one was marched 14 years before the Declaration of Indepdence) and longest parade in the world. I've never actually gone to it because since I've lived here St. Patrick's Day has fallen on a weekday. That and I'm not much for parades, so the long-ness of this one really wouldn't be a draw.

So why do I like St. Paddy's Day? So much so, in fact, that I spent the last one enjoying the greenery in Dublin? It isn't a particular affinity for green beer, but rather an irrepressible love of Irish music. I don't know if I've mentioned it on my blog before, but I've been learning the penny whistle for the last year or so at the Irish Arts Center. I'd love to learn the fiddle too, but alas those are more expensive and can't be dropped in one's purse for ease and portability.
Also appreciated is the opportunity to wear silly hats.

I also enjoy Irish dance a lot, but I realized a lot of what I enjoy about it is the music and the way it works with the music. There are so many patterns to Irish music that eventually you start to feel a familiarity when you hear a song, like you're remembering it from your childhood, when you've never actually heard it before. The other day I was practicing before class at the Center and a fiddle player came up and started playing along with me, just learning it by ear. Granted, that's probably because he's a more talented musician than I am, but still I credit the wonderful ease of Irish jigs and reels to be able to sound good in casual groups. He was even able to make me sound good.

I'm actually of German descent, but enjoy being mistaken for Irish sometimes. (It helps that I have curly, lightish hair, but really anyone who isn't blatantly Asian will get mistaken for Irish at the Irish Arts Center.) In the month of March, we all get the chance to be a little more Irish.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I should probably learn my boyfriend's phone number

Last night, I was supposed to meet my boyfriend after work because we had a couple of appointments with brokers to look at apartments. We hadn't planned an exact meeting point because I was supposed to call when I got off work to say that I was on my way. Simple enough, except that when I got off work my phone wouldn't turn on. Or rather it would turn on, taunt me by letting me scroll to his name, and then shut off when I tried to look at his number or follow through with a call. Very frustrating. Especially considering I plugged it in the night before.

There are several pay phones of varying working order and questionable cleanliness in the subway, but it was at this point that I realized I couldn't even name the area code of his phone number. I consider this a problem with our modern dependence on cell phones, because it takes so long (or at least some effort) to memorize a number when you don't have the repetitive memory formed by punching the numbers quite a few times. I can still remember the phone numbers for my friends in middle school, but not the number of someone I call on a regular basis. Sadly calling the girl I used to make up Britney Spears videos on a trampoline with when I was 12 didn't seem to help my present situation. Finally, I realized I did have his number in my email, but at this point I was already on the train, and going back to work to check it would only make me later.

The plan I devised on the train was to sprint to his apartment and hopefully catch him before he left or gave up on me entirely for not returning his no doubt many confused calls. I made the 10-minute walk to his apartment in about 5 minutes (p90x has improved my fitness level, but still running in a dress, boots, and a heavy coat is something even Tony Horton might find difficult).
Astoria is lovely, but lengthy to traverse. I'm really just adding this picture to break up an otherwise boringly large block of text.

I knocked and he wasn't there. I let myself into his apartment and, not surprisingly, he still wasn't there. He'd downloaded skype on his computer, so I thought I could use that to call him, but alas, I couldn't find it (and he later told me he'd deleted it the day before). I looked up in my email to find his number and pulled a random receipt off his desk to write it down. Coincidentally, this random piece of paper turned out to be his phone bill and contained the very digits I needed.

Grabbing that, I took off again, heading in the direction of the general area he'd told me the real estate office was. I was beginning to feel a little like Franka Potente in Run, Lola, Run, you know, except for all the blood money and armed robbery. I found a real estate office and went in and started babbling incoherently while gesturing at my phone. I mentioned my boyfriend's name and one of the real estate agents seemed to have heard of him. That was my ticket in! Another one of the brokers offered me the use of a phone so I could contact him. Unfortunately, when I was able to get a hold of him, he told me I was still in the wrong place. Apparently, the reason they'd heard of him was because we had an appointment with them on Friday. I thanked them for the use of their phone and slowly backed out, saying I would meet him on the corner. I'm not sure I fully explained that I wouldn't be coming back.

Luckily, I was only a few blocks from where I was supposed to meet him, although another 20 minute walk to where the next appointment was. Good thing I'd done my p90x legs and back that morning! Otherwise, I might not have even been sore.

Another unfortunate result of my phone black out was that I didn't get to call and wish my father a happy birthday. So happy (belated) birthday, Dad! Hopefully, the card I sent proves I didn't forget.