Monday, August 30, 2010

I just realized

that I have again abandoned my efforts at the Granada/Salamanca/Paris entries. Will try again! However, you should all know that I have made MIGHTY PROGRESS on my portfolio.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I started to think vaguely about becoming a vegetarian. . .maybe a year ago? I'm not sure. I think I first had the thought in high school that while I didn't find eating meat to be by itself morally problematic, it would probably be better/more ethical for people who ate meat to kill the animals themselves -- if nothing else, I think it would cut down on waste. (Also probably would inspire a bunch people to become vegetarians.)

Junior year of college I met for the first time a vegetarian who had chosen that lifestyle not for ideas about animal rights, but instead because he was concerned about the loss of energy that meat production caused. In other words, cattle and pigs aren't 100% efficient in converting the grains they eat into meat for us to eat -- not even close. So, theoretically, if that grain went into feeding humans instead, a lot more people could have enough food. (I also read an article or two to the same effect.)

Fast forward to this year, when I started doing a lot of reading on various social issue/cause blogs. I came across one very frightening defense of abortion which included a line like, "In any case, the world is vastly overpopulated without enough food to support everyone, so. . . " So? So any way we can kill off a few more people is probably a good idea?

My brain short-circuited the two ideas together, and came up with: I should be vegetarian to support the pro-life movement. The less I consume, the more food there is available for non-aborted babies! Yay!

But, somehow (as always), my intentions did not match up to my actions, and although I stopped buying chicken earlier in the summer, I continued to purchase cans of tuna and sliced ham (for my green beans!) and so forth. . . (Side note. I'm going to guess the reason that tuna is so cheap compared to other meats is because no human effort has to go into raising them for munchies -- as opposed to us growing grain for cows, etc. However, tuna is not a non-problematic meat (ARRRRRRGH) because (so far as I know) overfishing is driving them not-so-gradually to extinction.)

However, I think my budget crunch may do what my social cause guilt may not: Switch my sources of protein to beans, milk, and eggs. Why? Well, let us compare chicken and beans.

  • costs 5-7 dollars for three servings
  • has to be cooked within a few days or it will go bad and kill me (or give me a tummyache)
  • has, according to the internet, 165 calories, 4 g of fat, and 31 g of protein per 100 g serving
  • given my preferences, the only way I cook chicken is in oil -- adding another expense and more fat

  • Beans:
  • costs 1-2 dollars for three servings
  • stays good indefinitely (canned OR dried)
  • has, according to the internet, 143 calories, 1 g of fat, and 9 g of protein per 100 g serving
  • I haven't figured out a way to cook beans in oil yet.

  • Note in particular item #1 on each list.

    And, in the unlikely case you are fussing about how much protein I eat, I just checked and I pretty much meet my daily requirement in wheat protein from pasta alone.

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    the guy list

    I have what I think are compelling reasons to think I will probably always be single.

    The idea of being single forever is, at least at this point in my life, not particularly intimidating, but more of an "aw, gee, that sucks" kind of thought. Like discovering that they discontinued my favorite flavor of yogurt, perhaps. (Well, maybe a little more profound than that.) The idea of settling for a guy who is in many or all ways "less than". . . strikes me as burning in a slow hell.

    I realized that I have actually developed a fairly long list of traits that a potential Mr. Gochenour ideally would have. And while some of the requirements may change, the probability of one guy meeting them seems slim.

    The point of all this is to make an excuse to write up the list of traits for said person that I had unconsciously been cataloging anyway. So, without further ado:

    horrible dream

    I dreamed that I had just moved into a new apartment with carpets when the neighbor's miniature gray poodle came in and puked on every available horizontal surface. All I could do was watch in horror.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    I smell like cigarette smoke

    and. . . I still think my Spanish is improving.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    in which I foolishly comment on a blog post

    Because I thought I had something valuable to say.

    Maybe I did, and perhaps I didn't.

    But about 10 comments later, the conversation (which was related to feminism and casual sex) had devolved to: "You cannot hold X opinion (and conversely must hold Y opinion) or you are bigoted and harmful."

    X opinion is one that I largely share. Y opinion is valid but lacking, so far as I can see. I was very glad that someone not me got targeted for publicly voicing X opinion, which allowed me to be. . . well, somewhat amused that a liberal space would be so intolerant. I get that there are certain beliefs -- say, white supremacist ones -- that are not to be "tolerated" under any circumstances. But the issue was not such a clear-cut one.

    photoshop curves

    Another link: Color theory in photos. Even though I use Photoshop a lot (and have done some okay things with it, in my opinion) there is always more stuff that can be done with it. Color curves! I shall have to attempt editing some of my photos in this manner at some point. . . but I have far to many to make it a consistent practice. :P

    Another post on the awesomeness of messing with color curves in Photoshop.

    I think

    that I really like the poetry of Billy Collins.

    See, here.

    today's pasta glop brought to you by

    green beans, red peppers, carrots, onions, and garlic. I'm hoping the introduction of fiber will stretch my pasta farther. I'm not exactly sure whether it's super tasty, but edible will do for now.

    Sunday, August 22, 2010


    I don't think Mejorada del Campo is happening. I was too unproductive yesterday, and my portfolio is languishing in a state of horrible disrepair.

    Also, I am deciding whether I ought to shave my legs or not, based on four factors:

    1. The hair on my legs is kind of blonde, so it's hard to see, right? Probably no one will notice.
    2. But the hair near my ankles is darker. (WHY IS THIS.)
    3. Shaving one's legs is a stupid practice made up by razor companies to sell more razors. Boys don't do it so I shouldn't either.
    4. I actually find the hair on my legs kind of gross. Well, mainly just the hair on my ankles. Maybe I should just shave my ankles.

    This is what happens when I have time to think.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    New moleskin acquired. No Eat Pray Love in site; it's probably all for the better. Instead, I bought stamps. Postcards ho!

    things to do this weekend

    1. submit my second Threadless design (it's done, I'm just figuring out colors and placement and stuff. :P)
    2. submit a few things for
    3. visit Mejorada del Campo, if time and nerve allow
    4. purchase plane ticket to Venice (!!!?)
    5. buy a new Moleskin at Reina Sofia or Paisajes (multilingual bookstore and all-around good time) or whichever store I find one in first -- my other one is almost entirely full (!!!?)
    6. put up my pictures from Granada
    7. realized that I have yet to write detailed blog entries for ANY of the travel that happened the last three weekends -- Salamanca, Paris, or Granada. do something about this.
    8. maybe maybe maybe go to J&J's books for a used copy of Eat Pray Love? (I feel embarrassed that I want to read this book so much, but the similarities and disparities of the story to mine and other acquaintances' experience strike me most forcibly.)

    I would like to note that I bought a week's worth of groceries (by my estimation), including toilet paper (which is kind of expensive here?), for about $20. The downside of this is I did it by not buying cookies, fish sticks, or anything remotely exciting, except for a red pepper to make my inevitable pasta glop more flavorful. I may have to resort to eating cabbage as a side dish. . .there really aren't that many supercheap veggies available to bulk out/give interest to one's pasta.

    Ah! but I am not a martyr. I have budgeted to have a postre most working days (well, at least 3 of 5). Postre = dessert. I have realized that the amount of enjoyment that I get out of a cookie is far greater when I am munching on a few fresh lazos during lunch break at work -- next to the park, or even at my desk (where I was the last couple days working feverishly on t-shirt stuff), than that received from inhaling an entire slightly stale (but still tasty! oh yes, still tasty) package of lazos over the course of eight hours.

    Let us hope this budgetary diet does not fail miserably.

    (Also, I was unable to resist getting a Coke. But tomorrow! Maybe tomorrow I will resist.)

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    the most important food thought

    Today I finished off the 250 g of butter that I bought on July 2. That's right, my friends -- I, Sharon J. Gochenour, made slightly more than a half a pound of butter last for 49 days.

    This would be more impressive if I hadn't gone through a half-liter of olive oil in the same amount of time. . . .

    thoughts on food

    I think I am over my budget panic. I'm still going to try my best to be (more) frugal. At this point I've been spending about $32-$40 a week on groceries and snacks. I am going to attempt to reduce that to $15-25, primarily by buying less cookies and mini-croissants. Also by reducing my Diet Caffeine-Free Coke intake. I'm still weighing the benefits of beans vs. tuna as a cheap source of a protein. I'm also trying to decide what other veggies are as cheap and easy to stick in my lunch as frozen green beans.

    I remember this one lady who came to talk to my American History class in high school. Her presentation was, "Could you survive without your parents?" She asked us to budget how much food and rent cost and compare it to how much money we made in our jobs, if we had them. I think the point was to make us grateful to our parents. Or to encourage us to stay in school. One of those two. Actually I have no idea what the point was.

    But anyway, I seriously recall her recommending that we budget $100 a week for groceries. Her list for "recommended groceries" included stuff like frozen pizza and Doritos. At the time, I thought that was dumb. Now, I think it's dumber.

    Just a thought.

    So, due to the budget crunch that kind of snuck up on me (because I was taking a picture and listening to my iPod, ugh), I will NOT be packing my remaining weekends full. I have the planned trips to Barcelona and Paris (still), and I still hope to go to Cordoba (apparently if I get there before 10:00 AM, I can get into the great mosque for free!) But, it will probably be a one-day trip, and I'll pack a lunch. Other than that, I'm saving my money for my end-week.

    *crosses fingers, hopes for the best*


    My Threadless t-shirt design has been approved and can now be voted on! Please go and so so here.

    Thanks very much!

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    unnnnnngh + the list


    I want to visit Mejorada del Campo, a town about 8 miles outside of Madrid, to see this. It sounds fascinating -- as well as potential source for a couple articles. I've got to get down to business on this freelance stuff.

    My problem? I can't figure out what kind of town it is. This may sound odd, but basically from previous internet research I have garnered that "fringe" Madrid neighborhoods (those outside the M30 roadway loop) tend to be tougher and less fun for a tourist to find herself in. This is clearly outside of central Madrid, but it might be far enough out that the above recommendation doesn't quite apply. The Google satellite picture shows lots of pictures of houses with swimming pools. That implies. . . a wealthy suburban development? Maybe? In any case I would be visiting in the middle of the day on Saturday or Sunday, so there should be people around. On the other hand, because it's super small, I would stick out painfully as a tourist (read: target.)

    Of course, with my current monetary situation, the cost of this proposed trip -- 4 euros 10 cents -- is about what I can afford.

    List composed while I was walking around Granada.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    in my quest for financial solvency

    I have submitted my first (hopefully of many) t-shirt design to

    It is currently still "pending approval," but when that period has ceased, I shall post much notification with much glorious trumpeting and much less glorious begging and pleading to help me out.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    trying to organize my brain which is skittering in ten thousand directions

    I have four (4!) unplanned weekends left in Spain. (As well as the weekend in Paris and the weekend in Barcelona. Phew.) Then, I have realistically 7 days at the end of my stay -- October 1-8. (I fly out out on the ninth.)

    So, what to do with these weekends?

    I have approximately a thousand ideas -- and am anxiously torn between seeing the most famous things possible -- the sorts of things that were in my history of architecture class -- and seeing some out-of-the-way things (I want to go see Don Quijote's windmills!), or unusual things, completely random things (oh boy! I want to go see the only monkeys native to Europe at Gibraltar!), or perhaps places that are cheap because they are close to Madrid (Segovia and Avila come to mind.)

    So, without further ado, what I am considering:

    1. A weekend trip to Sevilla and Cordoba. They are relatively close to one another; I would take the bus to one of them, spend the day there, take the bus to the next one, stay overnight, spend the day there, take the bus back to Madrid.

    2. Two days walking on the Santiago de Compostela trail. It's experiential! It's in northern Spain (where I haven't been yet!) It would a nice counterpart to the torturous climb up Mt. Fuji from last summer!

    3. Segovia. It's so close to Madrid. And there are those aqueducts. Also, it would be a day trip. I like day trips; they leave me less completely totally exhausted than all-weekend extravaganzas.

    4. Avila. Ditto on the closeness. Also, it's a UNESCO World Heritage site. Lots of Romanesque architecture. If I really wanted to see both of the above, they could potentially be combined into one weekend. . .

    5. Lisbon. (as in, Portugal.) Potential for meeting a friend there? Not sure how this will pan out.

    6. San Sebastian. Also in northern Spain (where I haven't been yet!). Supposed to be very pretty.

    7. Go to Barcelona again, by bus.

    #1 on this list is Cordoba. Everything else is squishy.

    Granada for starters

    I swear I am still working on Salamanca and Paris entries.

    Granada in short:

    La Alhambra is great. Pretty much every part of it is great -- gardens, fortresses, ruins, what have you. The Patio of the Lions is still under construction for restorations so that sucked.

    I visited the cave houses in the Sacromonte neighborhood (north Granada) and the Albaycin, the medieval Muslim neighborhood. I super neurotically watched for muggers (before taking out my camera, a map, or stopping to look at a posted document I did at least a 360 and sometimes a 720 degree turn, and whilst walking down the marked "nice pedestrian walk" street on my excellent Granada tourist map I all but spun in circles), who kindly did me the favor of not showing up. I did get harassed by a "palm reader," cat-called (I think because I had a sunburn? More likely the guy was just a dickhead. I realized that I am uncertain of how to say "go to hell" in Spanish,) and asked for money in the bus station, but other than that I took loads of pictures, had some good conversations, and ate ice cream.

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    sadness. :(

    This blog entry makes me so sad.

    or that could be that I'm super behind on work. who knows?

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    ernest hemingway?

    Books to make interesting people talk to you on the subway.

    Now I want to read A Moveable Feast, even though I still have 200 pages left of A Farewell to Arms. I can't decide if I like Ernest Hemingway or not. I mean, if an author keeps you reading, even if you find some parts of their novel shallow or irritating, then that's saying something, right?

    important Spanish things

    1. Yesterday I saw six nuns. One in the morning and a gaggle of five in the afternoon.

    2. Empandilla = puff pastry or pie crust wrapped around beef or tuna with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Not so good from the refrigerator section of the grocery store, but pretty tasty from the bakery.

    3. Spanish tortilla = omelette mainly consisting of potatoes and onions. Tastes like latkes. SOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOOD.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    yet another one of those articles

    Let me sum this article up for you:

    You don't earn the right to enjoy your life until age 35. Say good-bye to your friends and get ready to kiss some ass.

    ugh yeah

    I just barely managed to get my photos up on facebook, so I don't know when the next blog entry is coming.

    However, weird comment: I have started (well, actually this happened a while ago) to say "grathias" instead of "gracias" when I go to the grocery store/sandwich shop-bakery place. My accent is still kind of untenable, but I try to hide it here and there.

    (In case you didn't get that: In basically all the Spain-Spanish that I've heard, the "s"-ish sounds -- made by s, c, and z -- all sound like "th." Unlike what I was told in high school Spanish, it's not a thing they do in Barcelona, because they speak Catalan in Barcelona. Barcelona is just one word that you can hear it in. And "d" sounds like "th" -- entrada is "entratha.")

    I still can't make the real "j" sound, which is like the "ch" sound in German, generating somewhere in the back of the throat, or roll an r convincingly.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    nothing like french to make you appreciate spanish.

    I am still working on my Salamanca and (more comprehensive) Paris entries. However, I would just like to say that while Paris is wondrous and awesome and kind of like New York in that I think you could stay continuously entertained for years, it:

    A) Is more expensive than Madrid. The Metro is 1.70 euros per ride instead of 1.00, and the train ride from the airport was 8.75 euros! compared to 2 in Madrid.
    B) Has a hideously foul airport (compared to Barajas, which is the nicest airport I have ever been in, bar none.)
    C) Has super long lines for various attractions that, while wonderful, are comparable to things in Salamanca or Madrid that do not have such long lines, and also cost somewhat less.
    D) An uneducated English-speaking traveler can sort of read signs in French by guesstimation but all speech sounds like a garble of extremely similar vowels that don't really show up in English at all. Why is Spanish so much easier to learn than French when modern English is the grandbaby of Old English and Old French????

    Moral of story: The movies are right, Paris is cool, but you should also go to Madrid.

    Random side note plucked from the middle of the Paris narrative: Saint-Chapelle is awesome. As far as actual "sites" that I saw (as opposed to just walking around a lot), that was my favorite.

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010


    One important question I have been asking myself:

    Are there more nuns per capita in Madrid, or have I just been noticing more because I expect there to be more nuns? (Or sisters, or whichever is the correct term for generally small elderly ladies who wander around in gray, white, brown, or black habits and wimple-y things and Sensible Shoes.) I see 8-10 a week, I think.

    Or maybe I just walk a nun-heavy route?