Atta Ikede

April 28, 2008

Cake update

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 9:35 am

You’re right julie! The cake was totally shady!

I wrote the last post shortly after baking the  cake. I was eating the cake while I was writing that email. In my defense it was Saturday late-morning and it was the first food i’d eaten all day! Plus I was impressed that the cake had even turned out at all, what with the 7up / cake mix combo and all.

Well I tried that cake again on Sunday and I realized that cake was gross! Eating it is an utterly unsatisfying experience. You don’t feel any of the deliciousness that you do when eating a normal cake! It’s just a medley of bland store bought flavors with undertones of that sugar-free aspartamey taste.

I think it might taste better if you put regular home made frosting on it instead of the pudding…

Geez! Stop me, please. Why am I even thinking about this !? I’m thinking about ways to salvage a cake made entirely of chemicals! lol. Sigh. I need vegetables.


April 26, 2008

The soccer captain’s cake

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 9:50 am

Earlier this week, the captain of my soccer team told me and another teammate that she had baked a cake the previous weekend.

The cake was made of cake mix and diet soda. Yes! Diet soda. Apparently, substituting diet soda for the eggs/oil/water normally called for with cake mixes is some kind of dieting trick! She said the cake turned out fine and you couldn’t even tell the difference.  She also told us the calorie count of the resultant cake. She proceeded to explain that she frosted the cake with sugar free pudding, which took the place of frosting, and ate it with frozen yogurt or some kind of “healthy” ice cream, which took the place of regular ice cream!!

My first question was … who ate the cake? Sounds frankenstein-ian…

This girl had tons of other interesting substitution stories. Mashed potatoes made out of cauliflower, etc.

I tried her cake recipe earlier this morning. Ingredients:

– 1 box of betty crocker white cake mix + 1 can of diet 7up (i double checked her story on the internet and did find corroborating evidence. Best practice is to use coke for chocolate cake but 7up for white cake)

– 1 box of pudding mix and some milk to make the pudding

– 1 can of cherry filling. I thought a cake of just chocolate and vanilla sounded boring, so i figured maybe i could slice it in half an put cherry in the middle.

The cake baked fine. The pudding of course was yummy and using it as frosting wasn’t a bad idea. It’s chocolatey but not sweet. But then, I like pudding. Somebody who likes the sugary satisfaction of frosting won’t like the pudding substitution.

The cherry pie filling also worked out (in that it was yummy and satisfying with the pudding), but the layering idea was a big disaster. The cake was so crumbly that I could barely touch it without pieces falling out. It only got worse after I sliced it. I managed to get the cake looking ok, and I cut myself a slice, but then while I was eating it another hunk of the cake crumbled apart and fell on the floor. I just glanced at it now and I can see that half of the remainder is looking ok but the other half is a bit crumbly.


PROs: Cake mix and diet soda work if you are just going to cut it into big slices. Don’t try any dainty cutting work or horizontal slicing.

Cons: My addition of pie filling probably added back the calories saved by substituting the diet pop. I bought the ingredients at small corner grocery store, and since none of these are competitive products (except for the milk), i ended up paying $11 for them. Considering the cost of ingredients plus the cost of my time, it was an expensive cake!

(Special note for wenderella … I’m listening to NPR right now and they’re interviewing an author named wendy. The author was talking about names, and “the wendy character”, and how she recently was at a bookstore and met another wendy who was very wendy-esque … i.e. bubbly and good at her work. :)

April 24, 2008

The Bulgari and backwards drive down a hill

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 1:16 pm

I played soccer today. I was goalie for the second half and blocked some dramatic shots! Shutout! I’m definitely getting better. I think I need to build up strength so I can kick the ball harder. Right now i’m still a weakling.

There’s one really sad team in our league. Most of their players never show up! That team was started by two brothers who just recruited a few friends plus a few randoms. The day we played that team, nobody showed up and so my team got a buy. Lately, if my team plays before the sad team, some of us players just stick around and join them for their game. They need the players, and we like to play. Last week was exciting .. I scored a goal when I played my second game for that team!

I ended up being goalie again for the second half of my second game tonight. I wasn’t as good as the first game .. let in two goals .. one by a girl! It was a relatively slow kick and I’m embarassed I let it in.

One of the brothers gave me and some other players a ride home. His car was full of boxes and boxes of Bulgari perfume! Me and the other girl noticed the brand as he was casually throwing those boxes from the backseat to the trunk! We were like .. hold on a sec there … what’s up with that! He said his wife is an account manager for the brand. He said we could take some free stuff, so we did! Everybody he was driving joined the fray! Craziness. I think I ended up with four bottles. I dont even know how much the other girl took. probably 20! She was really going nuts!

A couple people got dropped off, and then it was just me, the brother, and his friend. We were going up a hill, when suddenly, the car stopped. It was out of gas! Completely bone dry! Luckily, we were at the top of the hill, and there was a gas station at the bottom of the hill. It was probably the luckiest spot in the planet to run out of gas! I was like .. turn the hazard lights on! Turn them on! He didn’t even know where they were! Eventually, we got the hazard lights on, and then we drove backwards in our lane back down the hill, worked up enough momentum to take a crazy 3 point turn (unbelievable) to turn ourselves around, and then paused midway up the hill so we could wait and roll through the intersection on the green light directly into the gas station! Fortunately there wasn’t much traffic and we made it! Unfortunately, the guy didn’t know what side the gas flap was on, so we ended up on the wrong side. Me and the other dude had to get out and push! Turned out the car was his wife’s .. that’s why all the perfume was in there .. and since her company pays for gas he’d been hoping to cheap out and not top it up!

20 dollars later, there was enough gas in the tank to get me home. I’m a little worried about those two though, cuz the thing was an SUV and 20 bucks at $3 or 4 bucks a gallon doesn’t go far.

April 22, 2008

The office nametag

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 7:03 am

Those of you who work in a cubicle know what I’m talking about — that little name plate that identifies that particular fuzzy box as yours.

Unlike the typical, if boring, shiny cubicle name plate issued by big professional companies and the equally typical, if cheapskate, non-existent cubicle name plate issued by certain other companies (you know who you are el-cheapos! I took my shiny one with me!), my new company has the perfect balance: paper cubicle name plates where our name is pre-fixed with the skyline of San Francisco, printed in color! It’s simple, elegant and cute.

Unfortunately, the San Fran downtown skyline is pretty boring. Transamerica pyramid, and then a bunch of small boring buildings around it. In fact, if it weren’t for the Transamerica pyramid, the San Fran skyline would be completely indistinguishable from that of any random lame B-list town! Though to be fair, if you zoom out a bit and include the Bay Bridge in the downtown skyline then it adds a bit of ambiance.

Last week, I started thinking that the Toronto skyline was way better, so I went and printed a photo of the Toronto skyline, cut it out, and pasted it over the San Fran photo on my name plate!

I figured this had two benefits:

1. It’s prettier (obviously)

2. It’s an experiment in how observant the person who created these name plates is. At that point, I didn’t know who had created or printed that sign for me, so I figured i’d just quietly make my edit and see if anybody noticed.

5 stars to our graphic design guy!!! I love detail oriented people! Turned out he was the creator and he noticed my edit just a few days later. He came by and pointed at it and was like .. oh, you defaced my work! Hehehe. I told him that I thought it was prettier and showed him some landmarks. He was appeased.

April 20, 2008

First Impressions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — attaikede @ 3:48 pm

I always have a first impression about somebody. It gets revised the more I spend time with them, but I definitely have an impression and I modify my behaviour with that person based on it. I’m also extremely conservative about my impressions.

It takes me a long time to revise my impression of a person to the level that makes me want to be their friend! I find most people I meet to be a little “fishy”, at least at first, and then gradually that might change or not change as I get to know them better. Most people display very inconsistent behaviour, and it’s hard to know what exactly they’re on about.

Dont worry .. i’m not actively suspicious of these people I consider fishy … i just .. i dunno, wouldn’t rely on them for anything of consequence, or tell them anything important because I dont know enough about them to know whether they’re reliable or trustworthy or not. I dont think any of you are fishy :)

Anyway, one thing I’ve noticed about San Franciscans is that they’re very open and friendly. I find it hard to walk away from such interactions and think to myself, hmm, that person was fishy. It seems really mean spirited to do that! Who knows, they might turn out to be fishy, since so far I only know them superficially, but it’s really hard to start out thinking they’re fishy when they’ve started out being so open and friendly.

I think that after a few months of living here I’m going to be noticeably less conservative about my first impressions. Instead of automatically feeling like everybody I meet is a bit fishy, and having to adjust up or down from there, I bet i’ll start feeling like most people I meet are nice people, and only have to adjust down from there if I need to.

Do you have first impressions of people? What do you do about them?

The stranger

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 3:28 pm

I had an eyelash in my eye that stayed put despite some eye rubbing. i went and stuck my head really close to the mirror so i could rub my eye and get the eyelash out.

Only half of my face was in the mirror. My one eye that was looking in the mirror at itself could only see itself, and a bit of my eyebrow. That’s it.

At some point, while I was rubbing my eye in the mirror, i started noticing how brown my own eye was, and suddenly had a flash of confusion and panic about whose eye it was I was staring at!

I guess that’s similar to that feeling you get when you repeat the same word over and over and over again. it starts to sound foreign after a while.

Obviously I’d spent a leeeetle too much time admiring my own eye.

The local accent

Filed under: San Francisco — Tags: — attaikede @ 2:41 pm

Well peeps, I’ve now been here long enough to discern that there is definitely a local accent. I dunno if this local accent is a San Fran thing, or a general no-cal thing (no-cal = northern california. Southern california is known as so-cal. I learned that at work).

Male – so far in males i’ve only noticed an exaggeration of vowels. say the word “about”. Now pronounce it “ab-owwww-t”. That’s the closest example I can give. It’s not the same as a NYC accent, or even a normal american accent you’d hear on tv .. it’s a very specific vowel exaggeration and/or vowel broadening. I dont know how else to describe it.
Female – many females don’t have a discernable accent, but those that do, have a horrible accent I can only describe as Valley Girl On Cheese Grater. Go watch the movie Clueless, then imagine if you took spunky little cher’s voice and just cheese grated the hell out of it. Yes. That, plus a bit of the vowel elongation described in the Male section above, is the San Francisco Ditsy Female voice. I hear it every day on the bus. Every time, I make a point to turn around and look at the head of the speaker. It’s always a Ditsy female. I mean, obviously I don’t know enough to be certain that she really is ditsy, but she’s usually talking about something retarded and so i feel like she’s probably ditsy. What’s interesting is that such females usually tend to have lower tones in their voice, so instead of a typical higher pitched girl’s voice, which might perhaps sound cute with the cheese grater effect, they’ve got that weird low voice which gives the cheese grater effect an even more annoying quality.

Now you know!

April 12, 2008

The stuff!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 6:51 am

My stuff got here this afternoon! My little apartment is now full of boxes.  Each box is full of my treasures, all carefully wrapped in lots and lots of plain newsprint. I’m going to use the newsprint as shelf liners … the shelves in this apartment are all wood and freshly painted. I’ve found that I get an ashy residue on clothes if I leave them right on the shelf. This newsprint will do the trick!

As if we needed more evidence I was born lucky … my enormous couch made it!! At first it wouldn’t come in, but it was soooo close I kept suggesting that maybe if we angled it here and there it would go through the doorway. Ultimately the movers took my front door off the hinge and the couch slide right in after that. The mover kept muttering that I won’t be able to get the couch OUT of my apartment, but meh .. I figure, if it came in, it’s gotta be able to go out!

No cross country move is without peril. My dining table got nicked and the frame holding my Trees painting is a bit scratched up.

I can’t find any screws to put anything together, but I’m sure they’ll turn up. They’ve gotta be in one of these boxes!

Trader Joe’s

Filed under: San Francisco — Tags: — attaikede @ 2:35 am

Trader Joe’s is a grocery store down here. People have been telling me all about how delicious it is. The place inspires a sort of rabid mouth watering loyalty that the humble Safeway could only dream about!

I finally went to Trader Joe’s last week.


Imagine a giant store entirely stocked with “no name” products. You know, that yellow brand they sell at Zehrs and Loblaws. Yes. That is Trader Joe’s!! It was pretty crowded when I was there, so I didn’t get a chance to browse every aisle and dunno if they sell national brand stuff at all. Everything I saw and everything I bought was Trader Joe brand.

It’s cheap-ish, and they have TONs of variety of unusual things! It’s a fun store.

– Trader Joe salsa – watery but yummy

– Trader Joe corn tortillas – DELICIOUS!!!

– Trader Joe extra sharp wisconsin cheddar – yum! That plus the salsa and tortilla makes a yummy snack.

– Trader Joe frozen vegetables – Gross. Don’t go there.

Overall a 3/4!

April 11, 2008

The Inheritance

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 6:43 am

I inherited a lot from my dad. My cheeky smile, a taste for hidden luxuries, an interest in travel, being top of my class as a kid and bottom of my class in uni (though i’m proud to say i did better than my dad and improved a bit towards the end at UW) and a facility for music. Unfortunately, I think I also inherited a tendency for restlessness.

I’ve had a strange restless feeling in the back of my head for the last 2 years. The intensity of the feeling has waxed and waned over the months, but it’s definitely been there the whole time. The only way I can describe the feeling is that when it was active in my mind, I felt like I just HAD to do something or I would explode, but I had no clue what to do, so the only thing I could do was just hide in a hole, or curl up on my couch, which is the next best thing. It was so weird! there were times I couldn’t even lie on my back in Yoga class because doing so made me feel completely overwhelmed by restless confusion!!! I couldn’t sleep at night and I remember sleeping on my couch or on the floor of my condo for weeks at a time because I just could NOT sleep in my bed. I’d have a perfectly normal, happy day and not even think about this weird stuff except for these uncomfortable times where I’d suddenly become so aware of my own restlessness I couldn’t think or rest. I couldn’t sit still but I couldn’t move! Looking back on all that now makes me feel really perplexed because I can’t even imagine what that was like, and even though I can remember it, I feel like I couldn’t possibly be remembering something I really experienced. Does that make sense?

I don’t know when it started. What I do know for sure is that when I quit the bank, a guy I respected very much made the following ominous comment: “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Well guess what. That phrase absolutely HAUNTED me during my first few months at PM. It was like a song I couldn’t get out of my head, except instead of being the perky refrain by Rihanna going “under my umbrella, ella, ella, ella” it was Kevin’s head repeating that phrase in his British accent. It’s possible it haunted me the entire time I was there. There were many many amazing things about my job at PM. Objectively I’m really glad I worked there! I learned a lot and made some good friends. I’m not even sure what was so bad there. Maybe it was just the perplexing nature of the place. So overtly friendly, and yet so not. It was a totally bizarre environment and going to work for 8, 10 hours a day every day was like I was entering another dimension. Maybe there were also some situational undercurrents which were specifically unfriendly to this particular creature and running into those now and then just reset the grass is greener song in my head. I dunno.

A few other things happened too. One of my best friends, a person who I consider a rock of practicality, experienced some similar-ish feelings. I’ve always been a bit weird and prone to dramatic flourishes. When this girl also started having these thoughts, it really freaked me out!

I think the last thing that happened is that I stopped being excited about things that excited me. This was probably the biggest thing. I went to the grocery store and didn’t feel a thrill when I found a new spread. I didn’t feel any remorse when I used up a paperclip. All those spots in my life where I alone had found colour were suddenly colourless. All so un-me like!

Anyway, a big part of why I decided to move away from Toronto is to get away from that feeling. Even though I really scared and unsure about moving away from my family and friends, I kept telling myself to be a soldier because I felt like that weird feeling would overwhelm me if I didn’t change my life. While some readers may assume a superior morality and label this attitude as “running away”, I prefer to think of it as “running towards”.

And guess what people, IT WORKED! I was chatting with my friend (who prefers not to be named) on Skype yesterday. I was telling her how my Japan trip was good and bad, and telling her how at the end of my Japan trip, I apologized to the friend I was travelling with and told her that I was sorry if at times I wasn’t myself, but I hadn’t felt like myself in quite some time, and I was worried I never would again! lol. A bit of a dramatic statement, but it was rainy that day and rainy days always make me feel overly dramatic.

Anyway, as I was relating this story to my friend on Skype, I realized that I no longer have that feeling!! I don’t feel restless. I’ll still be happy some days and a little tense on others, but who isn’t? I feel like what I think is my usual self. A giant weight has been lifted from the back of my mind. I feel good. And realizing that felt good too!

I think that I’d slowly started feeling good after I moved to San Fran, but a lot of things crystallized and fell into place over the past couple weeks. My nice apartment here, I got a date for when my stuff would get here, I made a couple friends, I got a tenant for my condo, I realized I have a pleasant and rewarding workplace, I bought some mascara, I had my post-vacation vacation in that nice hotel, and most importantly … I think the California sunshine I’d been soaking up over the past 5 weeks or so made its way to my bones and warmed me from the inside.

Smile :)

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