Monday, January 31, 2011

My dining experience

I am by no means a regular customer when it comes to eating at restaurants. My PhD research area involves food service sanitation, so I try to avoid being too critical about the places I eat.

Unfortunately, yesterday (Sunday January 30th, 2011) was an exception.

The Purdue hospitality graduate student association held a social lunch at a relatively new restaurant in town called HuHot Mongolian Grill. Being a new place in town, it was very busy while we were there, and this was my first experience with Mongolian food.

I was LESS than impressed, in fact I don't really know how express my lack of impression of this place. I will admit that I had fun choosing the foods I wanted included in my meal; however having to deal with frozen/raw meats and raw produce, then adding sauces and seasonings over the mixture and then waiting in line to present my creation to the cooks at the grill, could potentially cause food-borne contamination. the longest I had to wait to have my ingredients placed on the grill was about 5 minutes, where I had about 6 people waiting in line in front of me and the grill area, which is a circular cooking surface about 6 foot in diameter, already filled with other peoples food. By the time we left the restaurant, the line waiting to enter the grill area was about 30 deep, and I can imagine some of the people waiting an easy 20 minutes to get to the grill area.

Once my food was placed on the grill, it basically sat there until the person doing the flipping and stirring made his way around through every ones food. You really had to keep an eye on where they placed your food on the grill, as it was easy for them to try and hand your food to someone else. So my food got stirred and flipped once, then another cook came around and verified that the meat was at least thoroughly cooked, platted it up, and handed it to me. Unfortunately, while they ensured that the meat was apparently properly cooked, the other items were given less attention. Some pieces were over cooked and other pieces were undercooked or even still raw.

Suffice to say, I will not be returning to this place anytime in the near future, if at all. I give this restaurant 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

First week of classes

On Thursday, 1-13-11, I will have my last class of the week. My schedule for classes is great because I will always have a three day weekend from school.

I love my classes. Facility design is going to be a lot of work, but fun at the same time. Learning how to use AutoCAD to design a kitchen will be interesting work. I am the only PhD student in the class, and there is one other grad student (she is working on her MBA) and the rest are undergrads. Some were even my students back when I was a TA in the John Purdue Room kitchen.

The other class, Strategic Marketing Management will also be a fun class, as it has lots of my bestest friends in it. The class is pretty much evenly split with 5 PhD students and 4 MS students.

Overall, it will be a fun and exciting semester. On a side note, my research is coming to a close on the cook-off events. I just need to finish the states that start with "W", of which I have already gathered the information I only need to enter it into the spreadsheet. Once that is complete, I will go back over the entire spreadsheet and ensure that I entered everything in a consistent manner. Once that is completed, I will then begin contacting the events where I need some additional information, such as estimated number of public attendance, etc.

I am also looking forward to the Certified BBQ Judging class I will be taking in February. It will give me a better understanding of cook-off competitions from the judges point of view, which will greatly enhance my final paper.

I will update more later.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A few words on Numerology.

Today, several friends posted something on their facebook walls that had me thinking. first was the absurdity of the claim, and then second, I thought about my mom and my dad and something that was said to my sister and I shortly after they had both passed away.

The posts on facebook state that: "I'm not superstitious, but this year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens once every 823 years. This is called money bags. So copy this to your status and money will arrive within 4 days. Based on Chinese Feng Shui, the one who does not copy will be without money. I can't let that person be ME!"

Of course, being fairly good about remembering dates, I remembered that 2011 is following the same pattern as 1993. So I checked and verified that indeed, July 1993 was the same as July 2011. Another friend looked an noticed that the next time 5 weeks line up on a Friday, Saturday, & Sunday is in March of 2014. This person, having majored in Mathematics and currently teaching maths, had not realized that all months with 31 days will have five weeks of three days in a row. It is a mathematical certainty, just as the months with 30 days will have five weeks of two days in a row and February has five weeks every 4 years.

But that was not what got me thinking. what got me thinking, was just the number 5. I am sure that everyone has heard about lucky and unlucky numbers, such that the number 7 is considered a lucky number in western civilization, while the number 8 is considered a lucky number in most Asian cultures. The Numbers 6 and 9 are generally considered unlucky whether it is a belief about religion and whether 666 or 999 represent the number of the beast. Rarely do we hear mention of the number 5. However, in Christianity, 5 represents the number of wounds on Jesus Christ (Crown of thorns, Scourging at the pillar, staking of the hands, staking of the feet, and the side wound). Even in other religions, the number 5 is found prominently, such as how the book of psalms was made into 5 chapters to parallel the 5 books of Moses. The Torah contains "Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy" which are collectively called the 5 books of Moses. and I could go on to include other religions.

Suffice to say, the number 5 appears to have more of an impact than many people may realize. Now, about the piece of information that was told to me and my sister shortly after our mom and dad passed away was this: There has to be something significant about the fact that your mom and dad both passed away exactly 5 months to the day, apart.

What it means, I have no idea, it is just something that has had me wondering.

Sunday January 9th, 2011

As Sunday the 9th of January comes to a close, I need to reflect on some issues of the day.

Today would have been my fathers 68th birthday. I keep him in my thoughts, especially today and even prayed to him at his burial flag that is in my living room. I was extremely happy that I got to call him and wish him a happy birthday back in 2000, because it was 7 days later on January 16th that he passed away. For many years, we had not spoken, after I moved from Pensacola to Tucson in 1994 up until 1998 we rarely if ever spoke. From 1998 until his death, we spoke more often and he and I tried to mend our relationship. I felt much closer to him when he passed and it affected me deeply.

Fortunately, I pretty much kept myself preoccupied with my research, which has surpassed the 200 pieces of data and is currently at 212. I still have the states of Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Washington DC. That is also not including the approximately 109 cook-off events whose websites basically stated "Check back soon for 2011 information". My advisor was wanting me to get between 200 and 250 pieces of data and I have met that goal and could actually surpass it. Incidentally, each piece of data has about 50 or so variables. I think this research is going to make for a great part of my dissertation.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ever have one of those days?

So today I suffered from the "Blaghs" or however you want to spell it. I just didn't want to do anything. Of course I had to put my carpal tunnel wrist immobilizer on, as I felt like I sprained my wrist with all that mousing around the internet looking for research. It feels much better now, but I still have the immobilizer on my wrist as I type.

For everyone that reads this blog, I want to thank you for your assistance in whatever fashion you have provided, in my efforts to collect data for my research. Some of the information has been very insightful and some has even helped me a little. In all, I want to say thank you.

I did not complete my set goal of 20 pieces of data for today, so I will have to work much harder the rest of the week to make up for my shortfall. So with that in mind, I will get back to work.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Research can be fun, at times.

This morning (as in Monday 1-3-2011), I spent several hours working on my research for my dissertation. The process is slow and very time consuming, so I had set myself a goal of completing 20 items of data entry per day. This would put me at the 200 items of data by Sunday January 9th. But today, inspiration came and I not only did my 20 for today, but also did 13 extra. That may not seem like a lot, but considering the amount of searching I have to do for each data item and then transcribing it into my spreadsheet, I think I am doing pretty good. In fact, my advisor had expected me to complete about 25 data items PER WEEK. I have also been lucky that I have not had much to distract me from the task over the last few weeks, as I have been working on getting my diabetes in check.

My last visit to the doctor was not very good. I had not been taking my diabetes medication properly, based on my odd working shifts and class schedule for the fall. In fact, I wasn't eating properly as well and the medication has to be taken with food, so my doctor lectured me and his nurse yelled at me, and when I informed everyone else, I continued to get lectured and yelled at for my improper control of the diabetes. Suffice to say, my doc put me on a leave of absence from work so that I can get a better grip on the situation, and I will say that I have been eating more regularly and taking my medication as the doctor prescribed.

In addition, I have been rewarding myself for the better eating and medication by allowing myself more time on the xbox. I have really gotten into the Lego Harry Potter years 1 - 4, for some reason, but when I tried playing the Harry Potter: Half-Blood Prince game, I was less than enthused. In fact, I quit playing it and went back to Lego Harry Potter. I have also been playing Mass Effect A LOT lately, having fun changing the settings and going through the adventures with different characters and powers. I have even upped the difficulty of the game and am currently set on Hardcore mode. It is much easier to advance in difficulty on Mass Effect than it is on Guitar Hero.

Anyway, this post has gone on longer than I anticipated and I want to get back to more research. I am going through the states alphabetically and am about to start on the state of Missouri.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A new year is upon us...

I sit here wondering what to write, as I have not updated this blog since March of last year (2010). I had originally meant for this blog to be a place for me to write about how I was progressing through my PhD studies at Purdue University, but I found out quickly that I was ignoring the blog more and more.

Now that I am in my Third year of PhD studies at Purdue University, I find that I want to make more time for things outside of research and studies. Don't get me wrong, I love the research I am doing and the classes have been great, I just need a break every once in a while. I have started playing my xbox a bit more, I think it is the best birthday present I have ever bought myself.

I think I will be posting to this blog more often now. I may even be able to post from my phone. I may have to test that fairly soon.

For now, it is back to research and data entry.

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