BUY A RICE COOKER AND STOP THE INSANITY!

144367204I made rice the old-fashioned way – in a pan, on the stove.  I did it this way for donkey’s ears.  Admittedly, I ended up with unpredictable consistency, but I had fresh-cooked rice.

I also had the cleanest stove in town.  I cleaned my stove every time I made rice because it boiled over onto the stove.  To say I hated cooking rice would be an understatement.  Actually, I hated the clean up.

 

I knew there were rice cookers.  I live in an Asian neighborhood near Los Angeles so my favorite stores all sell rice cookers.  Even Wal-Mart sells rice cookers at a reasonable price.  Would I buy one?  Nope.  Why buy a technologically advanced appliance when a pan of water on the stove does the same thing?

104221028After cleaning up a particularly nasty batch of rice starch from my stove top, I began to imagine what it would be like to never do this again.

As I scrubbed a blackened burner cap, I imagined popping rice into a self-contained electrical appliance that only required me to specify “White” or “Brown,” add water, hit the ON button, and walk away.  What would it be like to return later to a batch of perfectly cooked brown rice – no muss, no fuss?

Curiosity got the better of me.  I used my Internet connection appropriately to research rice cookers: manufacturers, pricing, features, retailers.  Wow!  Information was so compelling that I wanted a rice cooker and I wanted it now.  I ran out, paid retail, brought that baby home, unpacked it, and made my first batch of rice.

OMG!  What was I thinking all of these years?!

bowls-rice-abstract-variety-grains-colorful-ceramic-against-woven-water-hyacinth-mat-41588460 No, I did not have an Epiphany, I had a cellular level experience that could only be described as “love at first batch.”  It was magical.  I had only seen rice like that in vegetarian or Chinese restaurants.  Even more amazing, when I stored it in the fridge, it stayed beautiful and fluffy…only colder.

 

Cleanup?  Trust me, it was another dimension of easy.  There are even websites devoted to other things you can make using, say it with me, “Your rice cooker!”  Been there, done it, love it!  I made amazing frittatas, and a luscious pineapple upside down cake.  They were so good there were no leftovers!  Check out these ideas:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/arielknutson/surprising-things-you-can-make-in-a-rice-cooker

It turns out the rice cooker is a sort of one-stop appliance.  Who knew?  I like it better than my slow cooker because it seems to cook faster, which translates into using less energy.  I haven’t done the research on utility usage so don’t quote me.

My advice to everyone – buy a rice cooker.  Get one for yourself because you deserve it.  Buy one for a friend or family member because if they have a rice cooker, they can spend more time with you when they have perfect rice every time. 126993461 Of course, every bride needs a rice cooker because that first year of marriage has enough stresses and messy rice should not be one of them.

I admit it, I was insane for not buying one sooner.  I’m better now, and you can be, too.

Run out and buy a rice cooker.

120398809                                                                                                                                                   You can thank me later.

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Dog Tired And Running With The Pack

NEWS FLASH: To friends and family everywhere.

You may have noticed that I have not been able to make any of the highly amusing and personally insightful posts that I had promised when I started this blog.  Heck, I haven’t been able to post even a line or two just to keep you updated.  I’ve been really busy getting an education, honest.  As I near the end of my first semester at Cerritos College, I am exhausted, but committed to staying the course to acquire my degree.  I also take great comfort in knowing that the 17-21 year olds next to me who are sharing the experience are just as tired as I am.

Entering the academic world again has been much like childbirth – a woman suffers like crazy during the process, but is ready to do it over again because the joy outweighs the pain.  Frankly, I have a vague memory of what it was like in high school to have back-to-back, coincidental assignments due.  Nevertheless, I notice that even after all these years, teachers/professors have still not gotten together ahead of time and chosen different due dates for their projects.  It’s probably prohibited by their contract.  Either that or they had chips, salsa, and hearty margaritas one night, threw a burrito at a calender, and selected their project due dates with the help of the cosmos.

My sleep schedule this semester is quite deja vu – a four hour maximum, just like my rock ‘n’ roll days.  However, the emotional thrill is not quite the same.  Getting up at an ungodly hour of the night, flipping on the lights and computer to work on Photoshop assignments or dredge the nooks and crannies of the web for a research paper does not carry that unique adrenalin rush of flipping on the lights in a recording studio and prepping for the day’s session.  Thankfully, my office does not smell like those recording studios, permeated with the aroma of cigarettes, Heineken, and ganga.  Instead, I deeply inhale the warm fragrance of fresh espresso and cinnamon.  Then as I knock back another Five-hour Energy drink, I muse that if only these had been around when I was in rock ‘n’ roll, we would have never gone home!

Surveying the sea of student faces on campus, I see the same sparkle in their eyes as I do in mine – the sparkle of desire to achieve the goal set before us of getting the necessary credits to move on to university.  Although… I could be mistaken.  That gleam could be the glaze of total exhaustion that heralds a 24-hour sleep cycle as soon as we walk out of our last class on the last day of school.  Till that moment, we’re all dog tired and running with the pack!

I will refrain from posting a selfie on my blog with a glowing, yet fatigued, grin…just so you will know it’s me.

PUTTING THE “I” IN TEAM

I considered myself a good team player until I did a recent video team project.   I may be a closet control freak.

When assigned a Multimedia Reporting team project, I assumed we were all on the same page, shared the vision of the assignment, and it was going to be great.  Hmm.

1)  Enthusiasm is no substitute for a cohesive plan.  Team projects are like playing telephone – things get lost in translation.  Shooting scripts and other bits of paperwork keep people and projects on task.  Investing five minutes to type an outline with specific questions to ask, shots and coverage to get saves heartache in post, and insures a better grade.

2)  Cell phone video is…  Cell phones are NOT video cameras.  We all shoot video with cell phones, but sometimes we forget to turn the darned thing sideways.  In our excitement, we do not pay attention to details.  I should invent an app that prompts to turn the phone horizontal in video mode.  Until then, stop, take a breath, and make sure the phone is shooting video in horizontal format.  Did I mention cell phone video is shaky?  I’m buying a cell phone tripod today.

3)  Cell phone audio is…  I video taped my project expert using a cell phone and a pro digital audio recorder.  Big deal – there is no time to replace audio in post!  Our projects are quick and dirty, in a clean sort of way.  The best plan: use a video camera with external microphone.  Double check your audio before the interview to make sure you have sound on tape.

4)  All editing is not equal.  I’ve done fast and furious audio/video editing for money and I love it!  Tag team editing is ineffective.  If someone has never edited, they don’t really learn, and if you’re up against deadlines, it makes things more stressful.  I would rather have two video projects where we switch off in sub teams.  That gives everyone a chance to work the full project and provides time to teach someone new to editing why it is so much fun.

5)  iMovie will bite the hand that edits.  Trust me – do a few edits and close out so the software can keep up.  Better to close than to lose it all when the system RAM overloads and shuts down.  I hate that.

6)  Silence is golden.  Without an amazing library of jingles and music drops, skipping the musical interlude may be the better part of valor.

I had a great time with my team, aside from technical issues.  Now that I know the lay of the land, I’m prepared to be an I-ncredible team member for the next round!

Let’s All Tweet Like The Birdies Tweet – Or What The Tweet Is That?

It is official – I have now joined the masses of Twits out there in Social Media Land.  As near as I can figure, I have tweeted well over 100 individual and unique entries.  Is that twittered unique Tweets?  I’ll get back to you on that.

Initially, I was resistant to signing up for an account.  I really did not want to be one of the flock.  However, it was mandatory for my Journalism – 121 Multimedia Reporting class so I did it.  Besides, my instructor, Alicia Edquist, made it look so fun… in a strange sort of communication-based way.

After three months of having a Twitter account, I can honestly say that I see where it can be a tattle tail’s best electronic weapon.  If I had this kind of technology when I was a kid, I would have snapped pictures everything my little brother did and tweeted my mom.  He would have been so busted!

Things I learned from being a Tweeter, which sounds like an old audio joke, but I digress.  My observations from the Twitter wire:

  • The first TWEET is the hardest
  • There’s a lot of TWEET out there
  • Not all tweets are the same
  • Some people should never TWEET selfies… trust me, I know
  • Double spell check before hitting TWEET
  • It’s easy to go one TWEET over the line
  • You are what you TWEET…now and forever
  • A well-crafted TWEET will get retweeted
  • A well-crafted TWEET will get retweeted – and favored
  • Hashtags are your friends
  • Only @ the ones you love
  • You can TWEET till you’re blue in the beak and still not get a lot of followers
  • Avoid Twitter Rehab, TWEET responsibly, fellow twitterers… twits… whatever.

 

The most important thing to remember, if you are gonna TWEET, get one of those cute little battery chargers, ’cause live TWEET sucks up the juice.  See you on the wire!

 

P.S.    Jimmy Fallon – your HASHTAG Wednesday’s ain’t got nothin’ on my journalism class.  Just sayin’.

Wait, he’s got a #.  I can TWEET that!

ROOM FULL OF STRANGERS

Old Dog – New Tricks…or Thoughts of a 50++ Student

January 13, 2014

As I took a seat in my first class, the Bee Gees’ NIGHTS ON BROADWAY suddenly raced through my mind.

There I was, in a room full of strangers, wishing their eyes couldn’t see me.  For good reason.  As I casually glanced around at the eager faces in Radio and Television 151, I thought, “OMG!  These kids are old enough to be my grandchildren, if I had grandchildren.”

Too late to change my mind, I was registered, paid in full.  I slid my red backpack on the floor under what appeared to be a miniature version of a one-armed desk I remembered from the last time I was in college.  Either the desk was smaller or a I was…I went with smaller desk.

It had been more than 30 years since I attended college.  I had reached a tipping point in my career.  I needed to reinvent myself and up my skill set.  Attending a local college seemed like the perfect solution.  Really.

My initial excitement about returning to academia was replaced by a reality check.  Would I survive swimming in this pool of youth and energy?  Would this Old Dog be able to compete with brain cells having less than a third of the mileage I had on mine?  Would my voice of experience matter in today’s culture?  Was I insane?

I got over myself as soon as the instructor walked in.  C Breit came from pro broadcasting.  He had done radio and TV so it was like watching a great stand-up routine.  Jimmy Fallon could take a lesson.  Breit was enthusiastic, engaging, funny and smart.  This guy knew his stuff!  Breit made everyone feel at ease – including me.

As class progressed, I realized that I knew a great deal of the material we were going to cover.  I should – I had lived it, for heaven’s sake.  It was strange seeing a 16mm projector, discarded at the back of the room, and remembering its sound and the sound of film when it broke.  Even stranger was realizing that none of my fellow students even knew what the machine was!

In that moment, I didn’t feel superior or out of touch.  I felt comfortable knowing that I possessed memories and experiences that could be shared with those around me.  It was nice to know that we were all in a class where we actually wanted to hear about “the good old days” of radio, film, television and the music business that were an integral part of my past.

Yes, I was still relevant.  More important, I was about to learn more exciting things about radio and television – just like the young ones around me.