Posted by: kbasolo | March 1, 2013

An argument for Algebra…

I recently read an article that attempted to make a defense for why we should no longer force students to learn Algebra in high school. It made me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit.

I use Algebra almost daily, and I’m the director of a senior center and a journalism professor. I know stay-at-home moms who use their TI-85 calculators to do complex formulas every week.

Why has our American culture suddenly decided it’s OK to support mediocrity, or worse yet, sanction inferiority?

It’s not just because math comes easy to me that I say this. There are some important core skills and concepts that I struggled with throughout high school and college; at the top of the list is memorization and public speaking. So, because those things came  difficultly to me (and still do), I should just not have to do them? Using that logic, shall we also say that if you’re not very good at following the law, perhaps you shouldn’t have to? It’s ludicrous.

Speech class gave me such fits that I spent an entire semester plotting new ways to call in sick when I had to speak in front of the class and various other ways to get out of it. It was no different in college. But when a chance for free tuition for my master’s degree studies in exchange for teaching freshman English, I was terrified, but grateful that someone had forced me to do this all before. I wasn’t a great public speaker, but I got better. And today, as a center director, I continue to build on this skill. Had you asked me in 10th grade if this thing I was so terrible and terrified of was ever going to benefit me in my adult life, I gladly would’ve written you a dissertation explaining why it would never be possible. And I may have been able to convince my parents, too, if I thought it would’ve done me any good (thanks, mom and dad, for not letting me off the hook).

I have bright young employees who cannot give you change for a $20. And I don’t mean coins; even dollar amounts, and the math eludes them. I have high school student workers who should be building to the prime of their education, and they cannot label a United States map, nor tell you the capital cities of any of the states (sometimes even our own). Some of them also can’t add up the quarter hours on their timesheets to save their lives.

Yes, I realize I am a knowledge geek. I would take classes and go to school for the rest of my life if I could. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are not doing our students any favors for their future lives if we do not equip them for the very basic tasks they will face. Not everyone wants to go to school for the rest of their lives, but most want to be able to support themselves in some type of job. If you can’t give change properly, fast food service jobs are even out of your league. I would hope that our educational system would be designed to equip our students for more exciting future hopes than flipping burgers

Posted by: kbasolo | August 3, 2012

Travel Bucket List

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to travel. We didn’t venture too far when I was a kid; Green Bay and Milwaukee were typical; Detroit and Duluth were exciting. I even got to stay in Toronto with my chorus group in high school (laughable for anyone who has heard me sing). Almost always the same goal: athletic events. While I’m not opposed to them, I certainly had ideas of branching out with my travel goals.

In college, I had several opportunities to broaden my horizons. I started coloring states in when I had the opportunity to visit them, and still have an incomplete map to this day. I made a lot of progress, however. Spring breaks to Hawaii, LA, the East Coast and journalism conferences and conventions all over the Midwest.

After college, my travel life sort of trailed off until recently. With a wonderful new guy in my life who is up for anything involving driving, I’ve added several states, and have plans for more. In addition, my job allows me to do some group travel, and now we’ll be looking at International. I could not be more excited.

In all my obsession for travel, it should come as no surprise that TV shows like Ghost Hunters, Destination Truth, Fact or Faked Paranormal and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives are favorites. They highlight unique aspects of locations across the country, and even the world.

I’ve checked off several places on my To-Visit list in the last year, but I have many, many more to go. Here’s the short list, in no particular order. Except for Ireland. That’s always first, but here’s the rest.

1. Visit the Oregon Vortex

2. See Swan Lake ballet in person

3. Penrith, England

4. Stonehenge

5. Area 51

6. Route 66

7. The Winchester House

8. The Stanley Hotel

9. The Spalding Inn

10. The Vatican

11. Tikal, Guatemala

12. Red Rock AMitheatre

13. UNC vs. Duke

14. Redwood Forest

15. Mount Rushmore/Black Hills

16. Galapagos Islands

17. Barrett Jackson

18. Ireland

19. Smithsonia

20. Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam

21. Drummond Island

22. Italy. All of it.

23. Fiji

24. Bali

25. Alaska

26. Egypt

27. Isreal

28. Australia/New Zealand

29. Maine

30. San Francisco

31. Paris

32. London

33. The Olympics, somewhere

34. Japan

35. Alaska

Posted by: kbasolo | August 2, 2012

When you have insomnia…

“With insomnia, you’re never really asleep; you’re never really awake.”

In college, I had a close friend who struggled with insomnia. We watched a lot of Fight Club in those days, so the narrator’s plight with sleeplessness was a common theme in our wit and wisdom; if we had text messaging, I’m sure there would’ve been a lot of good quotes flying around. We didn’t, so we just had good old fashioned conversations about it.

I thought I understood Chris’s insomnia. I really did. I saw the effects, first hand, on a daily basis. Sadly, I truly had no idea.

“For six months, I couldn’t sleep. With insomnia, nothing is real. Everything is far away. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.”

So I haven’t slept through a night in longer than I can remember. Sure, I may get an hour here or there, but I always am awake before my alarm clock, frequently see each hour on the hour, and never fall asleep before 1:30 a.m. Addiction scares me, so I try to avoid the pills or alcohol routine to try to get some shut-eye. But this week, I’ve been guilty of trying less-scary sleep aids more often than I’d care to admit.

When in distress, I do what all good, educated Americans do: I consult the “Internets.” I found an article that looked promising on a medical website titled: “Figuring out why you can’t sleep.” Sounds worth a shot. Here’s some wisdom from it: “In order to properly treat and cure your insomnia, you need to become a sleep detective.” Sweet! Inspector Gadget, Scooby Doo and Sherlock Holmes have all been obsessions at various points in my life. I’m in. “Try to identify all possible causes of your insomnia. Once you figure out the root cause, you can tailor treatment accordingly.” This sounds like the perfect task for someone who has way to much time on her hands at inopportune times. The following questions were to aid me in my detective work.

  • “Are you under a lot of stress?” Have you met me? I mean, seriously. That’s always the case.
  • “Are you depressed? Do you feel emotionally flat or hopeless?” I’m a journalist who works with the age population most likely to die…soon. The state of the world is not exactly a basket of flowers and bunnies.
  • “Do you struggle with chronic feelings of anxiety or worry?” Again, have you met me?
  • “Have you recently gone through a traumatic experience?” Yes. I haven’t slept in 7 weeks or more.
  • “Are you taking any medications that might be affecting your sleep?” No, but I’d like to. Does that count?
  • “Is your sleep environment quiet and comfortable?” There’s a reason my bedroom was called ‘The Cave’ in college. I love sleep. It was the one thing that I was good at. Thick, light-blocking curtains, awesome pillow-top bed, warm, sleepy colors in my room. Proper temperature control and white noise devices. You name it, I’m on it.
  • “Are you spending enough time in sunlight during the day and in darkness at night?” For a person who works a big girl job, how is it ever possible to see enough sunlight when you’re at work 8+ hours a day?
  • “Do you try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day?” My 9 p.m. and later routine could be considered grandmotherly. My alarm goes off at the exact same second every morning.

So that checklist was a bust…got me nowhere near my prime suspect. I think I need to call Fred and have him stop by with the Mystery Machine to give me some back-up.

“I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise…”

To be continued…


Posted by: kbasolo | June 24, 2012

Rory Gilmore Reading List

Got this list from Jaime, who found it on the Book Club Forum. It’s a list of the books that Rory Gilmore read in the TV show Gilmore Girls. I have marked the ones I have read and have found it’s a wonderful reading to-do list!

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  3. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  5. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  6. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  8. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  9. Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
  10. The Art of Fiction by Henry James
  11. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  12. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  13. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  14. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
  15. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  16. Babe by Dick King-Smith
  17. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
  18. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  19. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  20. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  21. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  22. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
  23. The Bhagava Gita
  24. The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
  25. Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
  26. A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
  27. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  28. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
  29. Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
  30. Candide by Voltaire
  31. The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
  32. Carrie by Stephen King
  33. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  34. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  35. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  36. The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
  37. Christine by Stephen King
  38. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  39. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  40. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
  41. The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
  42. The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
  43. A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
  44. Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
  45. The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
  46. Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
  47. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  48. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
  49. Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
  50. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  51. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
  52. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  53. Cujo by Stephen King
  54. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  55. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
  56. David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
  57. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  58. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  59. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
  60. Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  61. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  62. Deenie by Judy Blume
  63. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
  64. The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
  65. The Divine Comedy by Dante
  66. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
  67. Don Quijote by Cervantes
  68. Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
  69. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  70. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
  71. Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
  72. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
  73. Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
  74. Eloise by Kay Thompson
  75. Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
  76. Emma by Jane Austen
  77. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  78. Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
  79. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  80. Ethics by Spinoza
  81. Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
  82. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
  83. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  84. Extravagance by Gary Krist
  85. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  86. Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
  87. The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
  88. Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
  89. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  90. The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  91. Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
  92. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  93. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
  94. Fletch by Gregory McDonald
  95. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  96. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
  97. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  98. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  99. Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
  100. Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
  101. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
  102. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
  103. George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
  104. Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
  105. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  106. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
  107. The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
  108. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  109. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
  110. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  111. The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
  112. The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
  113. The Graduate by Charles Webb
  114. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  115. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  116. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  117. The Group by Mary McCarthy
  118. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  119. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
  120. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  121. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  122. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  123. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
  124. Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
  125. Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
  126. Henry V by William Shakespeare
  127. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
  128. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
  129. Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
  130. The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
  131. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
  132. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  133. How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
  134. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  135. How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
  136. Howl by Allen Gingsburg
  137. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  138. The Iliad by Homer
  139. I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
  140. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  141. Inferno by Dante
  142. Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
  143. Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
  144. It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
  145. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  146. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  147. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
  148. The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
  149. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  150. Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
  151. The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
  152. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
  153. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  154. Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  155. The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
  156. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  157. The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
  158. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
  159. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  160. Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
  161. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  162. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  163. The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
  164. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
  165. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  166. Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  167. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  168. The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
  169. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  170. The Love Story by Erich Segal
  171. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  172. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  173. The Manticore by Robertson Davies
  174. Marathon Man by William Goldman
  175. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  176. Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
  177. Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
  178. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  179. The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
  180. Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
  181. The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
  182. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  183. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  184. The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
  185. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  186. The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
  187. Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
  188. A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
  189. Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
  190. A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
  191. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  192. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  193. Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
  194. My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
  195. My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
  196. My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
  197. Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
  198. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  199. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  200. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  201. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  202. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
  203. Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
  204. New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
  205. The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
  206. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
  207. Night by Elie Wiesel
  208. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  209. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E Johnson, John P. McGowan
  210. Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
  211. Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
  212. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  213. Old School by Tobias Wolff
  214. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  215. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  216. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  217. The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
  218. Oracle Night by Paul Auster
  219. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  220. Othello by Shakespeare
  221. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
  222. The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
  223. Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
  224. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
  225. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  226. The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
  227. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  228. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
  229. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  230. Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
  231. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
  232. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
  233. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
  234. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
  235. The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
  236. The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
  237. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  238. Property by Valerie Martin
  239. Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
  240. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
  241. Quattrocento by James Mckean
  242. A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
  243. Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
  244. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
  245. The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
  246. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
  247. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  248. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
  249. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  250. Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
  251. The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien (TBR)
  252. R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
  253. Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
  254. Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
  255. Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
  256. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  257. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  258. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  259. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
  260. The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition
  261. Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
  262. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
  263. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
  264. Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
  265. The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  266. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  267. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
  268. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
  269. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  270. Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
  271. Selected Hotels of Europe
  272. Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
  273. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  274. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  275. Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
  276. Sexus by Henry Miller
  277. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  278. Shane by Jack Shaefer
  279. The Shining by Stephen King
  280. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  281. S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
  282. Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  283. Small Island by Andrea Levy
  284. Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
  285. Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
  286. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
  287. The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
  288. Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
  289. The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
  290. Songbook by Nick Hornby
  291. The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
  292. Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  293. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  294. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  295. Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
  296. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
  297. The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  298. A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
  299. Stuart Little by E. B. White
  300. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  301. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  302. Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
  303. Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
  304. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  305. Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  306. Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
  307. Time and Again by Jack Finney
  308. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  309. To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
  310. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  311. The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
  312. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  313. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  314. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
  315. Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
  316. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
  317. Ulysses by James Joyce
  318. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
  319. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  320. Unless by Carol Shields
  321. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
  322. The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
  323. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  324. Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
  325. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  326. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  327. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  328. Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
  329. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  330. We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
  331. What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
  332. What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
  333. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
  334. Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
  335. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
  336. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
  337. The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  338. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  339. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  340. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  341. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Posted by: kbasolo | June 1, 2012

100-Book Summer (2012)

In 2010, Jaime, Dr. Beck and I started a 600-Book Summer project one night while cleaning my bookshelves and reorganizing them. With half a dozen of us helping, we never did achieve that goal, but we all got some good reading done in the meantime. This summer, I set an individual goal: 100 books by Labor Day. I have so many books started and on my shelves that are half-read that I need to do some house cleaning, so-to-speak. We shall see if I can even get half way!

p.s.—Don’t try to make sense of my taste in literature. It will hurt your head.

Since Memorial Day, Kristy has read:
1. Shades of Grey by E.L. James

2. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

3. Duke Sucks: A Completely Evenhanded, Unbiased Investigation into the Most Evil Team on Planet Earth by Reed Tucker and Andy Bagwell

4. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

5. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James

6. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

7. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

8. ***in progress*** Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

9. Breakfast at Tiffany’s & Other Stories by Truman Capote

10. ***in progress*** In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

11. ***in progress*** Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau

12. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

13. ***in progress*** The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

Posted by: kbasolo | May 6, 2012

My first paid vacation

I got this new thing at work on January 1, 2012 called “paid vacation.” I don’t know much about it, but it sounds like a neat concept. I decided to test it out, and began planning a trip.

Suddenly, the day of the trip was upon me, although it seemed months away.

This morning, we left Owosso, Michigan and headed toward West Virginia. First stop: Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger. This kicked off an important element of my trip planning: hitting as many Diners, Drive-ins and Dives restaurants as humanly possible.

Krazy Jim’s was wonderful in an unexpected sort of way. You stand in line, cafeteria style, with your tray, waiting for your turn. I found myself sizing up the seating to see if we were going to have a spot, but it all worked out well in the end. You also better be ready to order, and know what you’re doing, because you will be chastised if you don’t. I got a double on a Kaiser bun with grilled onions and peppers. Eric got a double on a regular bun with fried egg and bacon. Deep fried mixed veggies and onion rings rounded out the food, and some sodas in glass beverages washed it all down. There were a lot of neat aspects of this experience, but I think the most memorable for Eric is that he a got a $2 bill and a half-dollar for change. Fun stuff.

After burgers, we hit the road for West Virginia. My maps program offered me several routes to navigate through Ohio, but I chose to avoid Columbus and tour the back roads of Ashley and Mount Vernon. What a treat: rolling hills, Amish carriages (road signs with buggies on them that said “Share the Road”) and beautiful homes, old and new alike. We were in awe as the hills rolled higher and greener as we headed for McConnelsville, Ohio, our next stop on the Triple D tour.

Along the way, we followed

Brown water

Charleston capital

60 motorcycle tour, lots of motorcycle

One-lane road


3500 feet


Posted by: kbasolo | January 22, 2011

Dave’s Fantastic Lo Mein

Dave’s Lo Mein

My friend Dave was making Lo Mein the other day, and I got curious. I’d never had Lo Mein before, so I thought, “What the heck?” After receiving the recipe, I stopped at the Marquette Food Co-op to get the goods. This morning, it was time.

This dish is amazing, and healthy…and with a few tweaks, even to my ridiculous almost-vegan standards 🙂 The ginger and green onion (two of my FAVORITE ingredients) came together in a wonderful way. And I love noodles, so I couldn’t go wrong there…

6 ounces cooked lo mein noodles (I used Thai rice noodles)
1T olive oil
1/4 cup raw shrimp (cleaned)
1T. brown sugar
1T. soy sauce (I used tamari)
1T. cooking sherry (I only had chardonnay in the house, and it worked)
3T. chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
1/2 cup chinese cabbage (napa), chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup sliced carrot
1-2 green onions, depending on size, cut into one-inch pieces
1/2t. ginger root, finely chopped

Use the directions that came with your noodles to prepare them.

On high heat, add the olive oil to the pan, and stir fry the shrimp for one minute. Add the cabbage, carrots, onion and ginger, and stir fry for one minute. Add the noodles and the rest of the ingredients, and stir fry for one more minute. Remove from heat and serve.

Posted by: kbasolo | January 4, 2011

Cilantro Pesto

This recipe from was billed as a “delicious version of the classic with a little more zip,” and a more true statement couldn’t be made about this dish. I love cilantro, but don’t always find a home for it in my everyday cooking. This recipe is going on permanent rotation, however.

This dish is SUPER easy, inexpensive and pretty healthy. Stick to a rice or durum pasta for another healthy kick. For those of you leery about anything with a little heat, never fear. This is far from a “hot” dish as far as spiciness. Flavorful to the max, however!

1 package (16 ounces) durum pasta
1 bunch fresh cilantro
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup nuts (walnuts, pine nuts work best)
salt to taste
1/2 cup olive oil (I used basil-flavored, to bring home the true pesto)

Cilantro Pesto

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and bring the water back to a boil. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm—better for you health-wise, and it makes leftovers have a little more texture). Drain well.

2. As your pasta is cooking, drop the cilantro, garlic, vinegar, parm, cayenne, nuts and salt into the food processor. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and blend. Gradually add more olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.

3. Pour the pesto in a small sauce pan and warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to simmer. Pour over your cooked pasta and toss.

Posted by: kbasolo | January 3, 2011

Parsley Pesto (with Sun-Dried Tomatoes)

By request, here is the previously mentioned Parsley Pesto recipe, straight from the wonderful gals at the Marquette Food Co-op. It is SO tasty…and versatile.

1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Put your sun-dried tomatoes to soak in warm water. They need to soak for 15 minutes.
2. Chop your parsley and garlic.
3. Place parsley in a food processor and pulse briefly.
4. Add sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Pulse until almost smooth.
5. Drizzle in olive oil and pulse again briefly to incorporate.

This can be served as a dip with crackers, or be mixed into freshly cooked, warm pasta as a sauce. It is easy and fantastic…and extremely healthy!

Posted by: kbasolo | January 2, 2011

Parsley Potatoes


YUM. I love to make Parsley Pesto, but I always have parsley left over, so I wanted to find another easy recipe that I could use up the remaining parsley. I found the following recipe at All This took about 15 to 20 minutes.

It was an easy recipe, although I made a few amendments or clarifications, if you will. Dante was sleeping when I started this, but his nose woke him up, and he wandered to the threshold of the kitchen doorway (he’s not allowed in the kitchen when I’m eating or cooking), nose in the air.

* 1 1/2 pounds new red potatoes (this is about 6 medium potatoes)
* 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used garlic olive oil from the Olive Cellar)
* 1 onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, crushed (Keep in mind, I’m a garlic fiend)
* 1 cup vegetable broth (you can use chicken, but I was trying for vegan)
* 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Peel a strip of skin from around the center of each potato (I’m not sure why, but it does look nice in the end), place the potatoes in water. Set to boil…I set aside like the original recipe said, and then had to wait FOREVER for the potatoes to cook. If you’re an efficient chopper, get those potatoes going right away. Don’t forget to salt the water.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until tender. Pour in broth and 3/4 cup of the parsley; mix well. Bring to a boil. This will thicken, but should remain pourable.

3. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl. Sprinkle the black pepper into the skillet and stir. Pour the peppered sauce over potatoes and sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Pesto Potatoes

It is that easy, and it’s good. Very healthy, refreshing take on potatoes. I didn’t put butter on them as I was trying to behave, but I’m sure that would’ve just sweetened the deal.

Nutritional Information (based on this recipe making 6 servings, which is a stretch)
Amount Per Serving Calories: 134 | Total Fat: 2.9g | Cholesterol: < 1mg

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