I left New Orleans for sub-zero temperatures. Bad form.

Last weekend I took a train to Louisiana to visit my sister and brother-in-law. This was my first time on a real train (the metrorail, subway, and so on totally don't count), and the ride was 17 hours both ways, which was agonizingly boring.

I have a couple comments about the train ride, although they're not specifically related to riding the train:

A few weeks ago I downloaded an application called Stanza for my iPod Touch. Now, this application is basically a document viewer, but it's set up to go online and download free domain books from Project Gutenberg and a few other sites. On the train (and in some other situations), I've had the chance to read classics that I've been wanting to read, and all for free. Which totally beats the overpriced versions they sell at Borders. So I suggest that if you can deal with reading on the computer, look into such websites. Although, I definitely don't suggest reading The Time Machine before bed. It leads to somewhat disturbing dreams.

The other thing the train reminded me of is my complete inability to sleep while sitting up. And even when lying down in awkward positions, one of my legs falls asleep and then I wake up (at least my leg got some rest). I haven't really figured out how to deal with this, but I'm open to suggestions. Drowsy-making medicine doesn't work for me, though.

So I took the train to New Orleans, and my big sister picked me up and took me to Slidell, which is just across Lake Ponchartrain. She and her husband have a lovely apartment overlooking the lake, and I got to spend the weekend with them there. While I was in the area, I felt like my clothes and speaking style and so on screamed out "Yankee", but oh well. It was nice and warm, so my coat was a little lonely in my bag, and I was thrilled.

On Saturday, I delayed my cookie baking so that I could go visit Stennis Space Center, where my sister and brother-in-law work. For those of you that don't know, NASA has a space center in southern Mississippi, where they test rockets. And testing rockets, of course, is fantastic, if only because it means that Becca and Justin can rightfully call themselves rocket scientists.

Being in the area meant that I had to request local food, and Justin was so kind as to get some boiled crawfish for us to eat on Saturday night. I think that a year ago I would have totally been grossed out by the idea of pulling these guys apart and eating the meat from their tail ends, but I think after spending time in Asia I'm not quite so squeamish. In Louisiana, of course, the spices are different, and I couldn't figure out exactly what they were, but in my defense, I was paying more attention to not eating the guts part of the crawfish. Wikipedia says "salt, cayenne pepper, lemon, garlic, bay leaves, etc." Fair enough, although the etc seems a little sketch.

And now I am back in Illinois, where the current temperature is a balmy -6˚F (or 252K, which makes me feel a little better about life). That made Tuesday a perfect time to make these chocolate pistachio biscotti (28) to dip in my coffee (and to share with my friends who've already made it back to town). These are... not my favorite thing I've made, partially because biscotti are awfully hard, and I've never been particularly fond of pistachios. And I had to shell 1C of pistachios. It was a drag. Then I rinsed them in the hope it would make them less salty, but it didn't get rid of enough salt, in my opinion.

Alright, I realize that I'm making these sound like they're bad. Which they are not. These aren't weird like the Pecan Tassies I made back in the summer. In fact, they're quite edible, which is fantastic, because Saturday is coming up again, and I'll be making more cookies then (I won't tell you which until I actually make them, so you'll have to wait to find out).

But now, the goal is to keep my apartment warm against this horribly cold weather. Usually I turn my heat off at night, but I found that was a bad idea with last night's chill, and hope that I'm smart enough not to repeat my mistakes in such close succession. So the heat stays on (but so do the sweaters).

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