Daily Prompt Response: Dash

Anyone who cooks regularly will say they know exactly how much is in a pinch or dash. They will most likely hold up their hand, putting their index finger and thumb together at some seemingly indiscriminate distance, of which only those directly in front of them will be able to tell how much they actually mean. I, however, can openly admit I did not know how much was in a pinch or dash, or even that they are technically different measurements. Although they aren’t recognized by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) as accurate measurements here in the U.S., they are widely accepted by chefs as having an exact volume to them.

A pinch is smaller than a dash, and there is a unit smaller than a pinch even: a smidgen. They follow the rule that most of the U.S. measurements follow, which is typically called binary submultiples, among other names. That just means that each unit is just one half the size of the unit larger than it, and that unit is one half the size of the next largest unit, and so forth. So as one would surmise, two smidgens make a pinch, two pinches make a dash, and two dashes make what is called a saltspoon, and two saltspoons make a coffeespoon, and then two coffeespoons make a teaspoon, and so forth. That is the size ranking of each of those units, but I am sure you might be curious as to what the exact volumes of each measurement is. And if you aren’t, I am going to tell you anyway, because I was curious about it, and I want to share my curiosity with you. A smidgen is 1/32 tsp, or 0.115522 mL; a pinch is 1/16 tsp, or 0.231043 mL; and lastly, a dash is 1/8 tsp, or 0.462086 mL. I decided to include their metric volumes just in case someone is reading this from any country that isn’t the United States, United Kingdom, Liberia, or Burma.

I would like to think I am a reasonable person, who doesn’t always need to be exact, but I would be lying if I said I am not going to attempt to accurately measure out the respective volume for each unit next time a recipe calls for a “pinch” or “dash” of something. Now whether you do or not is totally up to you, but at least now you have this useful little factoid to bring up next time you need a clever ice breaker, or just really want to have a response when you hear someone say “Tell me something I don’t know.”

Daily Prompt: Dash

Upcoming Book Reviews

In trying to find what kind of posts to write, I realized I had the perfect material right in front of me! I recently purchased three new books. They are The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, and last but not least Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I am in the process of reading the first one and upon completing it I am gonna write a review for it on here, and then read the next one and do the other two subsequently. I think I will probably do one general review post and then possibly a quote post to analyze or discuss any quotes I stumbled upon that I particularly enjoyed in some way. I will squeeze these posts in just whenever I finish the books, and so they probably won’t be my next couple posts, but they will be sprinkled throughout my upcoming pieces. Time to get back to reading!

Finding My Voice

As I mentioned in my first post, this blog is going to be my way of discovering what kind of writer I am. Anyone who glanced at this blog would instantly think two things. First, is that I have not been as dedicated to this as I should be, and second, is that I my writing lacks any sort of direction. I am for sure going to work towards negating the former thought, and I hope that in doings so, I will sort out the second thought. This means I am going to be more diligent in writing on this blog, and that I am going to experiment with different types of posts, in all sorts of formats until I figure out which ones work best for me. In saying this I don’t mean to sort of cushion any critique you, the reader, might have on my posts, past or future. I say this more as a way of vocalizing and solidifying my personal goal and ultimately, my aspirations. And so as the famous Yul Brynner says in The Ten Commandments, “So let it be written, so let it be done.”¹

Sources:

¹https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Ten_Commandments_(1956_film)

Florists And Their Inescapable Power Over Me

Who knew that going to a florist could be so blissful? In the past three months I have been to two separate floral shops, which might not sound like that important or frequent of an occurrence, but the former of the two visits was the first time I can recall actually going to a florist in my life. Both shops I visited were different in decor and overall vibe, but at the same time, both had a sort of gravity that quite frankly could have kept me there for hours if I had a good book or good company with me at the time. Alas, I was just there to pick up flowers for someone close to me instead, so it was just a simple errand. This might sound like something the typical person would already have thought of, but this came as a sort of epiphany to me upon entering each shop on the respective occasions. I realized why people choose to grow and develop greenhouses, and the serenity that I presume accompanies such a natural activity. It also inspired me to attempt to grow my own flowers as a way to “dip my feet” in floral horticulture. However, my own botanical exploits have been less than successful, but that is not what this post is to be about. I wish to rather discuss the soothing feeling that struck me upon visiting a florist.

The first florist I went to was in Tennessee, and I went there to pick up flowers for my girlfriend, who was visiting at the time. The shop was a house in another time maybe, but that was not the case anymore. Upon walking in the front door, I immediately was overwhelmed by the aroma of fresh plants, which emanated from all the various flowers, bushes, and other botanical creations I could only pretend to know the names of. There was just enough space to walk through the converted house, and everywhere I turned I saw a new flower I thought my girlfriend would love to have. As the sense of awe began to fade, I remembered my girlfriend said that she preferred floral arrangements that were more natural looking. Something that looked like “you just picked it straight from a field” as opposed to those neat and cookie-cutter arrangements that are seen most notably at your local supermarket. I don’t mean to discredit the beauty of those arrangements at all, I find them just as lovely, but I wasn’t picking out flowers for myself. I was on a mission and I knew my target. So after wandering around the indoor floral forest, I stumbled upon the woman working there at that time, and told her what I wanted, and showed her some of the arrangements I saw that caught my eye. She told me she would get the arrangement ready, and that I was free to continue roaming the lush halls or wait by the front desk, which was in the former living room. So after exploring the multicolored garden, I waited by the front desk. It was in that room where there was the typical “accessories” as they were labeled, which could be added to an arrangement to help with the theme, whether it be teddy bears with romantic messages on them, birthday cards and balloons, or simply small notes, no larger than business cards that had Hallmark-style pre-printed messages on them for those in need of a quick, but sentimental message to attach to their chosen bouquet. After paying for and receiving my floral work of art, I took one last glance around, admiring the simple beauty in this place. I thought about how under other circumstances, I could spend a whole day there, switching between lazily enjoying the serenity of the green environment, and researching what every plant is, where it comes from, and what each variation of it is like. I made sure to grab a business card and make a mental note of this fine establishment, in hopes that I may be able to return, sooner rather than later.

The second floral shop I visited was just outside San Antonio, in a small town that my mom lives in. I stopped there just before I went to see her for Mother’s Day, in hopes that I could pick up some of the most ornate purple flowers they had. They of course had to be purple because that is my mom’s favorite color, and I don’t mean like a lavender or violet, but more of a royal purple. This florist was drastically different from the previous one I went to, but it was still a sanctuary in of itself. It was located in this small Western-style strip center that only had two other shops in it, one being a local tool shop, and the other a used truck dealership. For being a small rural town in central Texas, the only thing it was missing was a Tex-Mex cantina in the strip center, but the only one of those in the small town was a block away at the only intersection with an actual traffic light to regulate the busiest intersection of this four-road township. In the left display window there was a huge canvas poster that read “Mother’s Day Specials” in large, red letters with smaller fine print below that said “See inside for more details.” In the right display window there was a couple similar-looking arrangements that all had various Mother’s Day cards attached to them surrounding a unique arrangement that was elevated in a special contraption that had a watering can attached to it that teetered back and forth, imitating a pouring motion, akin to the way a “horse head” oil pump jack rocks back and forth. And yes, I did have to look up what those oil pump jacks were actually called because I never actually knew their real name. Anyways, back to this rural floral boutique. Right when I entered immediately got a strong whiff of all the various flowers and was instantly reminded of the other florist I visited. This one was much smaller, it consisted of two rooms. One main room with flower arrangements of all kinds and empty vases along all the walls, on shelves and the floor, and then some on a white plastic folding table in the middle of the room. There was a door behind a small counter in the back left of the room that led to the “Prep Room” as I heard the three elderly ladies working so diligently refer to it as. After speaking with one of said employees, I found out they didn’t have any flowers in the exact shade of purple I wanted, but they had others I found equally beautiful that I knew my mom would agree with me on. So the lady I was speaking to hollered at the eldest looking woman to prepare the arrangement with the flowers and green filler I specified and that woman shuffled to the back room to prepare the Mother’s Day gift I needed. I kept speaking with the initial woman as I paid and she informed me that all three of the ladies working there were in fact all related. She explained to that she was the owner, and that her mother was the one that was preparing my arrangement, and used to be the owner, but due to health reasons stepped down and is just a helper now. The third woman whom I saw briefly as she would go and pick certain flowers from around the store and take to the back to add to an arrangement she was working on in the back, and would do so with such a sense of focus and urgency it was quite admirable, especially considering the owner told me she is her older sister and is pushing 60. My arrangement was made quite quickly and after awkwardly, but politely declining to purchase any of the religious icons that would “partner beautifully with my arrangement” I took my leave and with it a business card for I imagined that wasn’t going to be the last time I bought my mother flowers, and that florist had a very comfortable and friendly energy to it, along with the natural allure that all the lovely flowers gave it.

So although currently I cannot claim to have “green thumb,” I am not giving up so easily. After all, of I can manage to recreate that blissful feeling both these locations provided me, even if only slightly, I have to strive for that. I would be only depriving myself of the happiness if I didn’t pursue that goal.

“Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.”

-Gerard De Nerval

 

Source:

http://www.sjvgeology.org/old_stuff/pumpjacks.html

Why I Talk the Way I Do: In Regards To Children

A couple of days ago when I was at work, a mother came up to me that needed help. I assisted her in finding the toy she needed to pick up for a birthday gift, and she thanked me afterwards. While I was walking her and her daughter to the aisle, her daughter made it a point to educate me on the importance of getting a Star Wars Lego set over a Batman one. Of course it was because the recipient, her classmate and close friend, had a favorite Star Wars shirt but not a single Batman shirt. After agreeing with her logic completely, and showing them the selection we carry, the girl proceeded to tell me more about why her friend likes Star Wars, and how they saw Rogue One together, to which I responded with talking about how I saw Rogue One with my brother and owned many Star Wars Lego Sets as a child. The mother then decided our conversation served its purpose, thanked me for the help, and proceeded to head to the cash registers to check out. One of my coworkers that watched me help them then approached me and asked me why I talked to the little girl the way I did. I gave him a confused look and explained how I thought that is how everyone should talk to kids, after all, they are going to grow up and speak like that eventually. He didn’t seem to quite understand my point and questioned why I didn’t just say “Wow, that is sooo cool!” and other bland (my word, not his) responses to the girl. I am glad to say most people I know aren’t like that with children, but I have seen people who are that way, and that patronizing voice and banter only makes the child feel alienated by the speaker. I know this to be true because this is how I was as a kid. Children don’t see themselves as children, they see themselves as “almost adults,” as I like to put it. And so when you talk to them in that fashion it just makes them wary of you at best, and annoyed with you at worst.

The next day I reached a quote in the book I was reading that beautifully exemplified my opinion on this subject. It is a thought the main character has when describing why she compliments and trusts her elderly neighbor so much. Her neighbor treats her as an equal and just expects her to ask questions when she doesn’t know a word, or understand the connotations of what she is saying. The quote is as follows:

“The importance of the unknown words she used, the excitement of apprehending their meanings, the fact that she never diluted her language to fit the infirmity of my understanding – all of these things formed a major part of my joy in her company.”

-Rebecca (pg 106)

The Ballad and the Source

I remember having a similar thought to this one when I was around my paternal grandfather. He is a man who will at times try to accommodate the “infirmity” that younger children have, but only until they can fully participate in conversations with him, then he takes the training wheels off. And let me tell you, he can preach. Calling him long-winded is like calling redwoods tall trees; it just doesn’t do him any justice. He would talk to me about all sorts of things when we saw him, and it could be anything, he didn’t care. He just enjoyed speaking and discussing things with us. He would use words I didn’t know, or make jokes I wouldn’t get and I would either say “Excuse me Bom-Bom (Yes, that is what I called him), what does…mean?” or I would catalog the word or phrase and ask someone else later. Because of this I grew to respect him very much, and told myself that when I became as old as him, I would speak the same way to kids. And I would think my younger self would be proud of how I have maintained that promise thus far. I think speaking to children this way gives them a sort of independence in learning words as they choose, but also it displays a sort of honesty to them because you are treating them the way they want to be treated. And after all, what kid doesn’t appreciate the Golden Rule?

The Day I Would Go Back In Time To

If one of my previous posts is any indication, I sometimes have trouble deciding on a topic. So as to remedy this, I looked up various writing prompts I could do, and found the standard get-to-know-me prompts like “Who is your favorite literary character of all-time?” or “Write a ‘day in the life’ post,” and I don’t mean to say those are bad prompts, they just didn’t strike me as topics I could craft thoughts around to create wholesome enough posts. So I got distracted and started procrastinating writing. I looked up events that happened on my birthday, inspired after having a recent conversation with my girlfriend’s family about how my birthday has had some rather bleak occurrences on it, to say the least. Then I remembered one of the prompts I read was “If you could have personally witnessed one event in history, what would you want to have seen?” This still isn’t a prompt I feel I would want to answer directly, but I would want to answer a modified version of it: If given the opportunity,  I would want to go back in time, and visit my birthday. Or rather the date of my birth, but in different years because so many different events, good and bad, happened on my birthday.

The first big one I would want to see, and this is a bit more of an event that elapsed and ended on my birthday, but it is the shooting and eventual death of Abraham Lincoln at the hands of John Wilkes Booth. This event has always held a somewhat odd grasp on me for a couple of reasons. The first being that my mother told me growing up, and the validity of this is still in question, but she told me that I was related to Samuel Mudd, the doctor who allegedly was in on the conspiracy, but just by marriage. Another reason is that I always wanted to meet Abraham Lincoln when I was younger, and although I know on one’s deathbed they might not be the most talkative, but good ol’ honest Abe’s last words were “She won’t think anything about it,” in reference to his wife being a bit embarrassed about embracing Lincoln in such a personal and desperate manner in front of their thespian friend. So I would say he was still in control of his faculties for at good period of time, therefore I believe discussing his life and its events would be done with a certain ease.

Another event I would find interesting to visit, but I wouldn’t actually want to would be at, is the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic. It would be interesting to visit because it was such a great ship, and it was an event that (thanks to James Cameron) everyone knows about. I see the event as a real life example of either the Tower of Babylon, or the myth about Icarus because that ship was said to be the best ship ever made, and a testament to the capabilities of human ingenuity, only to be brought down by an obstacle of natural origin, and it is my understanding that it was not foreseen in time, simply because they thought they were untouchable in that ship. Luckily, its sinking led to many maritime safety protocols that have since saved many lives. That is why it would be interesting to visit the event, but as I said I wouldn’t want to actually witness the calamity because of the sheer loss of life, along with the fact that I know my presence wouldn’t have any affect on the outcome of the situation so it would only be painful to see play out.

On a lighter note, and although these aren’t days or events I would like to visit, but rather people I would like to meet because I share a birthday with them. The first is without a doubt Leonardo da Vinci because he was a man of many talents, and most people’s first thought when they hear the word “genius” and I don’t believe I need to explain my reasoning behind my desire to meet him any further. The second would be Emma Watson because she portrayed my favorite Harry Potter character and is also one of the more prominent feminists I got to learn from as I came of age. The third would be Maisie Williams because she portrays one of the fiercest characters on Game of Thrones, but also she seems to be a very grounded and vibrant person, and it is worth noting that she is actually the exact same age as me since we were both born in the same year. And if you haven’t opened up a new tab yet, and checked what date I am referring to by looking up any of these events or birthdays, then bully for you for sticking around. The date this post is all about is April 15th, notably it’s Tax Day here in the States, but most importantly, it’s my birthday!

 

Sources:

When Do Old Friends Just Become The Characters In Stories I Tell To New Friends?

Friendship is such a weird concept. And I don’t mean in the sense of it being foreign to me, but rather that I have experienced it in so many different forms and with so many different people, and each relationship is different. The weird part is how it can take such an immense amount of time and effort to build up to having a strong and close friendship with someone, but then it can erode in a flash by simply doing nothing. And I know I am young, I won’t pretend to think I am an expert on friendship, but I have had enough varying ones to know that they are delicate things that require constant effort and dedication.

Looking back, I would like to say I knew which friendships would last and which wouldn’t, but that is just not true. I have friendships from elementary and middle school that I said would last forever, and now only a select few have potential of lasting. And it isn’t to say I don’t want those to last, I do, but I won’t lie: maintaining those friendships is challenging and it is unbelievably easier to just avoid or procrastinate working on them. However, that inaction is what leads to them decaying to a point where those friends just become characters in stories I tell to new friends. For those friends of mine that know I am referring to you: I am truly sorry, but I am doing my best to make amends.

More recently in my life I had a somewhat different event happen. I made friends when in truth I didn’t expect to at all, and the time I had with these friends was incredible. The reason I speak in the past tense is because as much as I don’t like to admit it, this friend group of mine is drifting apart from each other. There are still some of us that are close, but we aren’t what we used to be. And in typing this, it does sting to type out, but it is the reality of the matter, there is no use in sugar-coating it. I would like to say that I have been trying to keep the group together, but frankly I could do more, and also it requires effort on their parts too, so in short: we could all be a little better about staying close. And a lot of the reason our group has diverged is simply because of life happening: some move away, some find other friends, others just become busier with their activities, and I don’t mean to say any of this is wrong. We are all growing as people, and change is meant to happen, I have made peace with that. That doesn’t change the fact that our group dynamic has changed. We all stopped seeing each other on a regular basis and so our contact decreased dramatically. But for those in this group that are reading this, know that I will forever consider you a friend of mine, and as before, know I am doing my best to improve our relationships.

After all this rambling, the takeaway from this post is that I won’t pretend to say I have friendships that are untouchable by the sands of time, but rather I know that there are ones I want to keep and I will do everything in my power to work on them and fix them. Sadly, that isn’t always possible, and that is what haunts me. That doesn’t mean I won’t try though because if I don’t try then that means I have given up, and I have done enough giving up in my life. I am sick of it, and I refuse to have any more moments where I look back on something, and say “Maybe if I tried a little harder or did just a little more,” because all that does is create a monster in the back of my mind that tells me it is all my fault that it went wrong. I know some things in life will be my fault, but I won’t let the people closest to me disappear from my life just because I didn’t try hard enough. I owe them that much, and quite frankly, I owe myself that much.

Finding Topics to Write About

If I were to come clean, I would have to admit that I opened up the page to draft this post, and I stared at it for a solid 20 minutes trying to figure out what to type. I already had the topic decided, it being the struggle I face when trying to find topics to write about. I chose to write about this subject matter in part because of the irony of it, but also because it is a real problem I am facing. I made this blog and hoped that I would just get inspiration over time to write posts that brought me great recognition and helped me to improve as a writer. I don’t mean that I would instantly know what every post was gonna be about, but more so that anytime I felt like writing, I would just be able to write it out and it would be good. This is an illusion, and one that has since faded. I believe this notion stems from many different tangents, but mostly from the fact that things have usually come easy to me. This should not be taken to mean I think I am some chosen one, all I mean is that growing up in school, I always was able to write out assignments, or figure out math problems, or solve word questions. Most concepts I would grasp the first time a teacher discussed them, and essays flowed from my fingers to the keyboard like rain down the road: in a precise, but guided fashion. So not knowing what to write about now is something of a shock to me, to put it dramatically.

One reason counter to this, as in one that would align with why I can’t seem to figure out what to blog about, is that I have always been rather inept at self-motivation. For school growing up, sure, I could do what needed to be done, but I had someone telling I needed to, and in a way, rooting for me the whole time. Then I hit my sophomore year in high school and started an online high school for reasons I will go into in a different post, but the lesson I learned, and by learned I mean that it hit me like a ton of bricks, knocking me flat on my back, was that I lacked self-motivation, and I mean I really lacked it. I failed so many classes those last 3 years of high school, that I eventually just dropped out and got my G.E.D. because I couldn’t stand to be in high school longer than the typical four-year plan. So I did that, and although it hurt my pride at the time, it has definitely helped me become more aware of my capabilities and I would like to think my self-motivation has improved, but that is debatable.

A point that would help you to understand why I am ever so slightly dumbfounded as to why I can’t write freely as well as I would like, is that outside of schoolwork, free writing has never been my strong suit, but diary-style writing has been. Ever since I was young, I always tried to keep various notebooks that contained entries from my life at that time, and some were quite lengthy. None of them really stuck though, until recently, which I credit to the fact that I have had quite the itch to write, and also because of recent events, which inspired me to document my thoughts and the various happenings of my life. And so although the most recent diary I am keeping is one written on a small notebook, and each entry is contained to a page, still I can write in that notebook all too easily. And I attribute it to the fact that I already have the material, which is the various events that occur in my life, and so it is easy to write in since I am simply transcribing what has happened, and then adding my opinion or feelings about it. Free writing is much more difficult, but I am under that impression because I am not accustomed to going out and fetching my own material. However, that is what journalists do, so I had best get on my big boy pants and work on that aspect of my character. I hope that in time I will be able to just find or choose a topic and formulate a well-crafted post out of it, but until then I have to be patient and know my limits.

My Three Words

So seeing as this is my first post, I should introduce myself and tell what kind of person I am, but to be quite honest, I don’t think that someone could adequately portray their personality in just a couple hundred words. After all, we are a collection of experiences, feelings, and such, so to try and cram all that into one post would be a train wreck. Instead, I decided to reach out to my closest friends, and ask them how they would describe me, but in 3 words only. I admit, I did only ask so that I would have enough varied writing material for this post, but I was surprised at how even though a lot of the words were different, they all conveyed the same meaning: I am loved. And when it comes down to it, that’s what really matters, and that love from those closest to me is what makes me who I am. It’s that love that gets me up in the morning. It’s that love that pushes me to do my best in everything I do. It’s that love that makes me who I am, and according to others, I am: dependable, thoughtful, and sincere; caring, hilarious, and unique; protective, clever, and independent; tall, punny, and genuine; sweet, funny, and awkward; and so when it comes down to it, I am all of these things, and also so much more. Because all of these people only have known me for certain parts of my life, and even those that have known me for the longer stretches of my life so far, they only know facets of me. Only I know who I am, and what three words best describe me, and those three words are: honest, polite, and witty.

I would like to go on to say that each of these words I chose not only as a descriptor for myself, but also as what I strive to be. In saying that I am honest, I am not saying that I have never told a lie, or omitted information from someone, or cheated at something. I will openly admit I have done all of the above at least once, if not multiple times. In fact, I am saying that if anything, dishonesty is my greatest shortcoming, one of my long-lasting character flaws, but I wish to change that. To better myself. To grow. And so that is why I wish to be honest. Everyday I am faced with opportunities to be honest or dishonest, and I live my life trying to choose the former over the latter. And so on that same tangent, I am not the most polite person around. I definitely have a strong grasp of public etiquette, and how to properly act around others, but I still commit many a social and emotional faux pas. And I don’t mean to imply that I am hoping to one day be some great Victorian gentleman that knows exactly which item of cutlery to use with each course. All I mean is that I wish to be someone who is considerate of others social and emotional demeanor, and doesn’t ever infringe on that, or make them feel uncomfortable in any way. And last, but certainly not least, I aim to be witty. It may sound prideful, but I know I am quite clever. I usually have a astute response to everything, and pride myself on that. But to claim that I have no room to grow in that regard is just naive, and that’s why that is my third word. Just like the other two, it not only describes me well, but it also points me in the right direction. These simple three words give anyone a quick glance into my life and personality, while at the same time, they give me a direction. They provide me with a goal to work towards today, and one that I will be working towards until my last day.