Arduino + Shopping + Crepes = Friday

Friday was a whirlwind, and unfortunately that’s going to stay a trend for the rest of the semester. It was the judgment day: the first lab day for my Creating Interactive Objects class. Labs and I don’t get along very well. I don’t like having a timeline for homework that I’m then questioned and orally tested on right then and there. That’s essentially what labs are.

The first hour of my lab was spent explaining to the lab assistants that my Arduino didn’t work. I asked them for help to get it working on my computer, but they were just suggesting and trying the exact same things I’d already done the day before. I suppose they just assumed I didn’t know what I was doing as just about everyone else in the class is a beginner with the Arduino. I told them that I did my senior project with it to try and give myself more credibility.

After a while they finally accepted that my Arduino was just broken, and so we got a replacement one. While they were doing that I walked around to other students and helped them out with their labs. Because all the teachers were doing was giving the students an Arduino, Breadboard, and a booklet giving them all the code they needed for their lab in addition to a cut out guide to place on top of their breadboard telling them exactly where to put the components. So they weren’t teaching the students anything or explaining any Electrical Engineering concepts. However, in order to get checked off for the lab, you get asked questions like, “Why do you need a diode in your DC Motor circuit?” or asking what PWM pins meant.

How the heck are any of the students going to know what this means? Explain simple concepts to them for goodness sake. In class they even incorrectly described breadboards, saying that all rows are connected with each other. There’s this giant dent in the middle of the breadboard. The row to the left of the dent is NOT connected to the row to the right of the dent.

I could rant on and on about how these students aren’t going to learn Electrical Engineering principles properly, but then you’d get bored and die. Anyway, I tried to help a few students, and I’m definitely going to make it a habit to finish my labs as fast as possible and then go around and help others. Or maybe look up the labs beforehand, go around helping people, and then do my labs in the last 30 minutes in a rush (since I likely already know what I’m doing).

Unfortunately I didn’t get a working Arduino during the first hour of lab, and I had to skip the second hour as I had lecture at the same time. So I ran from lab to my Human Interaction Design lecture, and then ran straight back to lab without a chance to grab lunch. They gave me a new breadboard, but the LED connected to pin 13 wasn’t lighting up in the pattern it’s supposed to when you connect the board to a power source, so I had a sneaking suspicion that the board was also broken.

I tried a few different things, but then discovered yes, the second board was broken too. It didn’t take as long for me to convince them that this board was broken. When the third board worked, I was jumping with excitement. I was sick of waiting around to do my labs. So I decided to do them as fast as possible.

Yes, I could have written the code from scratch for practice, but they provided the code and I didn’t really need to change it and I understood it all anyways. So it would have been busywork. So I copy and pasted the code, used the circuit diagram instead of the stupid paper cutout dot-to-dot plug-in-play whatever that they provided, and finished the first part in 5 minutes.

The checkout procedure was:

  1. Raise hand.
  2. Lab assistant comes over.
  3. Me: “It works. Look, a blinking LED.” *pauses to see if he’s going to ask any questions.
  4. Lab Assistant: “Cool. Good job” *checks me off and leaves*

Yayyy, they finally got the fact that I know what I’m doing. Okay, I’m being overly dramatic here because this is my blog. The lab assistants are really great and helpful, and I really appreciated that they trusted me. They’d seen me going around and helping people with this part of the lab already anyways.

5 minutes later I finished part 2 of the lab. At this point the teacher commented, “You’re too fast”. Yes. That’s because I already know Arduino and am super looking forward to the projects component of the class.

Part 3 took way too long. I think it was 15 minutes? Okay, I’m being really sarcastic here. Remember that I got my lab kit early and had already read through the labs and know how to read circuit diagrams and code with Arduinos so I have a huge leg up on all the other students. I also did some research on the circuit itself as I wasn’t positive what each component was doing. I’m glad I did because the lab assistant did ask some questions about that. I just needed a refresher and then was like, “Well duh the motor is also an inductor. Why did I forget that? Thank you Google!”.

I was so sleep deprived and tired from working late the night before on readings and such, so I really was looking forward to leaving lab at this point, but one of my friends in the course, Hilary, had only just gotten her Arduino kit, and there was only 30 minutes to go in the lab (they had a shortage of Arduinos). She doesn’t have pure coding background or electrical engineering background, so I knew she was going to have trouble. So I stayed and helped her with the labs. It was really fun talking her through all the concepts and prepping her for her lab check-offs. Unfortunately we weren’t able to finish part 3 before the lab assistants left for the day, but I’m hoping I explained enough of the concepts for her to be able to get through it quickly next Friday.

At any rate, I was glad to get out of lab at 2pm. I then collapsed with my late lunch and had a small break before I was going to get together with Michael. Our original plan was to go and see “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”. I’m still not knowledgable on the different ways to get discounted tickets. I know some ways, but even though this was a National Theater production, I don’t think it counts for the “get there two hours ahead of time and get super cheap tickets”. Anyway, Michael heard from another ballroom girl that Stratford (our main mall) was having a special students’ day with huge discounts and he was soooo excited about shopping. He’s such a little diva puppy dog. I’m all down for discounts and have been trying to build my London wardrobe. So I consented to the change in plans.

We signed up for the student discount in the mall, which was up to 25% off in some stores, which is awesome! Then Michael became my personal fashion consultant. We started in H&M and he recommended a few items, but then needed to duck off to get a haircut. I found a few more things but in general I don’t like the types of items in H&M, so I left after trying them on (they looked horrible on me).

I discovered there was a Dorothy Perkins store at the mall, and they had a 20% off discount, so I ran over there and tried on *all the things*. I took pictures of everything so that I could show them to my fashion consultant who would probably tell me, “Why the hell did you choose that?”. One jumper (sweater) did pass his judgement, and I needed a more wintery jumper, so I got that. I also tried the store next door. Whose name slips my tongue. Michael helped me out at first, and then chatted up one of the female workers and convinced her to be another fashion consultant and grab items that would look good on me. That was so sweet of him.

Trying on a Dorothy Perkins jumper (sweater) that I ended up purchasing!
Trying on a Dorothy Perkins jumper (sweater) that I ended up purchasing!

Unfortunately everything is quite expensive in London, and though the gray skirt I chose was very cute, it wasn’t as good of a deal as the jumper from Dorothy Perkins. But I decided to splurge. I think it ended up being 22 pounds even with the 25% off. Sadly by the time we ended up finishing shopping, it was about 9pm. Right before the stores closed, we got lured into the Levi’s store, where Michael found some really nice pants. He loved them immediately and decided to get them, but I don’t think he realized how expensive Levi’s can be, especially when you buy them from the store. He was in for a surprise at the cash register. They were originally 80 pounds, but with his discount they were down to 50 pounds, which is still quite a lot. It killed him a little inside, but he did really want them, so he went for them.

We were planning on going to Heaven, a gay club, afterwards, as James’ boyfriend Stark was visiting for the weekend from his study abroad program and Michael wanted to show them around. Oh, just a note, Michael is basically an honorary member of my suite. He and James get along very well. James and everyone get along very well. However, getting drinks in clubs is expensive, so apparently the thing to do is to heavily pre-game. Of course pre-gaming for me means water. And then tap water in the club. Then maybe more water later. Yay water! For everyone else that meant the ridiculous amount of hard cider Michael bought from Sainsbury’s that I helped him drag home. The original plan was to meet at our suite at 9pm to start pre-gaming, so Michael was pretty worried about getting home. However, I was hungry. The issue was that the mall was practically closed, and looking around at the food vendors I just couldn’t justify buying anything. I get really indecisive when I’m hungry. So we just went straight home. But I did have a bit of a faint/hunger spell on our way back.

My parmesan rice mushroom caps.
My parmesan rice mushroom caps.

I collapsed in the kitchen when I arrived home, but it turns out no one was there yet, so we really didn’t need to rush. I decided to cook, as I had also told Michael I’d cook him some food to make sure he had enough to eat to absorb the alcohol he would be consuming. I started working on cooking up some mushrooms. They were Baby Bella Mushrooms. First I made a filling. I had some leftover brown rice from my salmon salad the day before, so I threw that in a bowl, added an egg to bind everything together, then added parmesan cheese, thyme, and sage. I mixed that all together, de-stemmed the mushrooms, then filled them with the rice mixture. I topped them all off with more parmesan. Then I placed them in an oiled baking pan, and popped them in the oven at some temperature. Seriously, I don’t even know what I set the oven to. I just knew they needed to be cooked.

Look at all that mozzarella melting in the crepe!
Look at all that mozzarella melting in the crepe!

Then I started on the next item: Caprese crepes. I have a favorite crepe recipe from All Recipes which I whipped up. However, I knew it was going to make about 10 servings of batter. I only needed to make crepes for Michael and I. At that point the pre-game party had started, so I asked everyone if they would eat crepes if I made them. They all stopped talking, and looked at me incredulously and responded in unison, “YES!”.

The finished crepe (thin version)
The finished crepe (thin version)

Let me rewind a little. James and Stark appeared in the kitchen while I was prepping the mushrooms. I told them Michael was on his way. Michael came about 20 minutes later, but I didn’t realize he was brining so many people with him. He had mentioned inviting ballroom people, but the whole thing was a bit of a surprise for me. He brought three girls from ballroom class, his friend Saquib, another guy, and then Mo showed up later. James was a bit surprised too. I had thought that Michael had talked and planned everything with James, but I think a lot of stuff just happened last minute.

Michael all dolled up with his suspenders.
Michael all dolled up with his suspenders.

Anyway, the girls were all dressed up. I was so sexy in my Imagineering long sleeve shirt and jeans. And by sexy I mean I looked like death with messy hair and a crazed hungry look in my eyes from not having eaten enough during the day. I was in cooking robot mode. That’s where my body keeps cooking even though I don’t have enough calories in my system to whisk the crepe dough. Yay muscle memory!

I don’t drink, and I don’t fit in well with the pre-gaming atmosphere, so I was glad I was doing my own thing instead of joining in with everyone else at the table playing drinking games. That’s just not who I am. I do need to loosen up a bit, but I was just too fatigued and hungry to care about it at that point.

Anyway, since I was going to be making crepes for other people, I decided I should make some sweet fillings too. I had an apple I needed to use, so I chopped it up, threw them in a pot, added butter, brown sugar, caster sugar, and cinnamon, and let them stew for a bit to soften up and soak in the sugar and butter flavor. Then I threw some frozen berries in the microwave to warm up, and put them in a separate pot with some sugar to soften up into a nice fruit compote.

While I was working on the crepes the mushrooms finished up. I took them out of the oven and devoured a couple before placing them on the table for the rest of the peeps to have some. I set some aside for Michael too, but sadly there weren’t that many so everyone could only have one. Everyone loved them. They complimented me so much. My favorite part about cooking is watching peoples’ reactions when the eat my food, especially if it’s something they weren’t expecting. It’s a way to treat people and such.

Then I started up on the crepes. I made a couple sweet ones first and put them on a plate for communal eating. The piece de resistance, which I can’t spell, were the caprese crepes. I made a thin one for myself, but Michael’s was heaven. My mouth died and went to heaven when I took a bite of it. There was more than one crepe’s worth of batter left, but I didn’t want to make any more and had used up all the filling already, so I decided to make a really thick one. It was definitely very thick. One downside of this is that the outside was almost burnt in certain places since I had to keep it on the heat very long in order for the inside to get cooked enough. Some people flip their crepes to cook both times, but you really don’t need to. I don’t flip mine.

I then scattered a bunch of chopped mozerella around the crepe. I added some spinach, basil, and chopped cherry tomatoes. I wanted to let the cheese melt and get all goey, and then I folded the crepe in half. The result was the thickest crepe I’ve ever made. It was about as thick as a pancake, but with the delicate taste of a crepe, and every bite had a generous amount of melted mozerella cheese. Michael fell in love with that crepe. And then he devoured it.

Around midnight everyone headed out for the club, catching likely the last tube (the tube shuts down at about midnight). I decided to not join them as I was just too tired. I wanted to push myself to try the clubbing scene and push myself out of my comfort zone, but I wouldn’t have had fun that night. Maybe another time.

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