Thursday, December 24, 2009

An atheist at Christmas

Here is a disconnect: I love Christmas, and I am not a Christian. I was raised Christian, but life and logic, among other things, has changed my views. So, what right have I to Christmas, especially being an eco-minded individual? Are the cynics right, is Christmas just another holiday built around shopping?

Of course, Christmas is not perfect, presents make me nervous - even if its just a book I worry about packaging that I can't recycle and won't biodegrade. And I stress about getting too much stuff. Luckily I do not have the stress that comes from last minute shopping - I start thinking about Christmas presents around November, or whenever I see something someone might like. There is also the stress of being with family and reality not meeting expectations or desires.

And yet, I love the Christmas season. I love a lot of the songs (though not played ad infinitum while I'm at work... sung by annoying children). I love winter and the foods you eat and snuggling up to a fire reading Christmas stories or watching sappy Christmas movies. Snow and layering on clothes and mulled wine and spiked cider. Making and decorating cookies and finding the perfect gift and making cards. I even enjoy the Christmas Eve service at church.

This year I was not able to go home and see my friends and family, so this Christmas has been a bit lackluster for me. I managed to get some fir branches from a church that was selling trees to put in a vase, I put my few Christmas cards on a shelf, and that has been the extent of my decorations. I haven't looked at lights or gone to see the gingerbread house displays at Disney or anything else festive. The only thing I have done to celebrate the day (aside from gifts of course) is to have Christmas Eve dinner with my bosses and their family, and afterward go with them to Christmas Eve service at church. I enjoyed that. I now know why I enjoy that service; while spending time with their family at dinner and at church I was surrounded by such a warm feeling of family and community and love and peace. It did not matter that they were christian and I am not. Perhaps I enjoyed it because I was raised in a similar environment, and although it is in my past, it is still a part of me. I guess I could test this theory by participating in a Buddhist or some other religion's ceremony to see if I feel the same, or if it is too foreign.

Despite enjoying the service, I still was not sure if I had a right, as a non-christian, to the holiday. Surprisingly enough, it took a sappy Christmas song on my way home to make me realize that I do have a right to Christmas. [side note: Christians, even if you do not agree with my reason for thinking an agnostic/atheist has a right to Christmas, consider: I have as much right to take back a holiday as you did to take it many centuries ago] The song was "Do They Know Its Christmas?" by Band Aid. Maybe it helped that I was primed from listening to John Henry Faulk's Christmas Story on NPR. There might have been another song on that helped get the point across, but it was during that song that I realized that Christmas is about love - for your family and friends and neighbors, and peace and giving. Not just the capitalistic, mad rush to buy a shiny new *thing*, but giving from the heart, and charitable giving. Its about setting aside differences and realizing we are all humans, and learning to coexist peacefully. Its what the Grinch and George Bailey learned. I suppose if I had watched my favourite Christmas movies I would not have had to figure this out on my own.

Granted, these are values we should consider more than once a year, but like Valentines and Thanksgiving or Mother's Day, its good to set aside a day to remind us about these things. And, what would life be if we did not have holidays and traditions to look forward to? If each day was like the next. Or there were only part days like New Years.

That is what I feel anyways. I know I will never convince the cynics who think it is just another mass market capitalistic attempt to get us to spend. And I'm sure I would get a different response from the coalition of put the Christ back in Christmas. But at least I have figured out why I love it, and that it is ok.

Bed Time Stories prt I

Once upon a time Alyssum forgot to screw her head on tight and it fell off.
She didn't notice, and she never missed it.
And she lived happily ever after.

For ignorance is bliss.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Life Without Plastic

I found another cool green one-stop-shop online called life without plastic. They are even greener than some other places in that they only sell recyclable/natural products. Cool! I wish I had thought more about a products entire lifecycle before I had made other purchases. I have a neoprene lunch bag, which I bought off of reusablebags.com (which is another great shop, but not all of their stuff is cradle to cradle). Life without plastics also has a cool blog which had a neat blogpiece (what is a blog piece? Article? Modern language is getting more terms than I can keep up with!) about tiffins in India. It concerns how cheap plastic is on the rise, where formerly people relied on sturdy metal containers because they could not afford the disposables. An excellent point here is that they could not afford the plastic so they bought containers that would last multiple generations: i.e. pay more money up front, save in the long run. Come to think of it, what does my mom still have and what would I buy at an antique store; cheap plastic containers, or Corningware and Pyrex containers? The Pyrex and Corningware (with the exception of the plastic lids) are still in great condition after years of use, but who wants the plastic? A lot of the Tupperware is actually holding up, but bugs have been known to eat through it, I don't know what is in it, and what could you heat in it?

I am learning, and I "getting greener", but it is disturbing to look back at things I once thought were environmentally friendly and discover that they are not so much. I have learned that it is important that something must not only be reusable, it must also be manufactured responsibly, be sturdy and long lasting, and it should also be biodegradable or recyclable when I am through with it. Durable reusable bags made from canvas or recycled materials, metal water bottles with no liners to leach hormone disrupting chemicals, food storage containers which will also not leach chemicals, recyclable toothbrushes, feminine products... the list goes on! And I continue to learn. I do not think I am being a "hippy extremist" either. These are all rational and science backed concerns. Certain linings have been shown to leach harmful chemicals. Considering where our trash ends up when we are done with it is only a responsible thought process. The only possible negative effect here is that it is getting harder to buy "necessary" items that are not sustainable, which I must throw away (leading me to wonder, how will I evolve? Will I become a crazy off the grid dwelling person on the fringe of society?).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Great Sexy Debate

Lately I have been forced to take a strong look at myself and say "Who do I love more? Who is hotter?" I feel in love with Jon Stewart maybe five or six years ago, and back then he had no competition. He's funny, he's smart, and each year he just gets hotter. Its true, look at an old video and modern Jon wins.

But, not too long ago Stephen Colbert started to have a bigger presence. First he was just this guy doing bits on the Daily Show and showing up in Goodyear commercials. Then he had his own show. At first I didn't think much of it, I preferred to watch Jon. But, as I continued to watch The Colbert Report Stephen became more attractive to me. Aside from his wit and good looks (he was even attractive when growing his hair back). He's so much more active than Jon. He'll play basketball or tennis with some guests, he's traveled to Iraq. He promoted charitable giving when he introduced the donorschoose challenge which helped to fund classroom projects. And, he can sing! I'm not talking about the fun caroling music he does in his Christmas special either. In his interview with Elvis Costello his voice is divine. This would be enough on its own, but his face is on the cover of a most delicious ice cream - Ben & Jerry's American Dream Cone.



So, whats a girl to do? It looks like Stephen is gaining the upper hand, although Jon will always have a special place in my heart. And who's to say I can't love them both?
Let me know what you think. Who is hotter? Obviously the papers have it wrong when they talk about Johnny Depp or Rob Pattinson. When have you heard either than make a fart joke?

Friday, December 4, 2009

no babies

What with so many of my friends and aquaintances - and aquantainces friends and friend's friends - having babies, I am left to wonder; "Why? Is it worth it?"

So I present to you my list of reasons not to have a baby.

They're loud (they'll cry, they'll scream, they'll whine and complain). They won't be that cute and immobile forever. Too many untestable risks (disorders, diseases, sociopath, republican, bum, cheerleader..). There goes your social life. Are you ready to commit to someone for 18- 50 or more years (who knows when they'll move out or you have to talk to them if nothing else)? Kids these days! Do you want to deal with sexting?! Probably shouldn't walk around naked or in various stages of undress (sure, when they're young its ok, but what about when they're older Mrs. Robinson?). Toys and cars and college and crap (little consumers!). So much to worry about - is there lead in their toys? Melamine in their milk? Is Frank the neighborhood pervert watching them? Will they call?! You get bored. You change your mind. Did I mention the screaming? And the personal space? The freedom. Shaking is frowned upon. They don't listen. They're little demon humans who will grow up to be adults and I seriously wonder whether they come with any pre-programed morals or values - so you'd better instill some! Your not supposed to call them names or smack em. And what if you mess up? There's no pretest for parenthood.

I think that's all. I know, aren't I a horrid person for thinking that about children. I'm sure there's more I can't think of at the moment.

What I would like - although I am not at this time even remotely considering breeding - is for you to tell me why anyone would want to have children. I'm curious.

I do know that they are little social and genetic experiments, and of course that is fun. I cannot agree with the "keep the human race alive" theory. Why? Let it peter out. It would make a nice book. What would the last few be like? How will they die? Suicide or old age? But who would read it!?(I am thinking of "On The Beach" by Nevil Shute, but ending for a different reason of course) That would be a shame. The human race dying off and no one to observe and comment on it - except perhaps the dolphins. "So long and thanks for all the fish!"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

All I want for Christmas - or, I'm dreaming of a Green Christmas, prt II

By popular demand (or..not) I'm blogging my green & easy low budget Christmas (or anytime) wish list.

Cards - preferably made from recycled paper - are great. If your can't think of what to say, why not just write one thing you like about me? A friend of mine did that once and it was such a nice card she didn't need to get me anything else.

Donations are great. You can give any amount and there are charities or groups out there to support any interest. I've donated to a poor school so they could buy books in honor of my dad, and through Oxfam I've donated money so a family could get mosquito nets in honor of my brother.

Time is free, but it can be the hardest to give. I'd love it if my mom and grandmother could come down for the holidays, and I wouldn't need anything else. (ok, they'd have to buy a ticket)

Gift Certificates are usually pretty easy (although unfortunately they often come on unbiodegradable plastic) though a bit impersonal. Spa gift certificates are a no-brainer for women. (and the Little Green Spa in Orlando is green & great!) The first time I went to Ethos was because of a gift certificate - and luckily theirs (and many other small businesses) are paper.

If you make a mean pesto, or delicious cookies, edible gifts can be cheap to make and are well received.

As I try to green up my house and life I am trying to cut down on the amount of things I own that are neither biodegradable nor recyclable. Plus, living in a tiny apartment, I am trying to have as little "stuff" as possible.

As to wrapping, personally I go with "free". I have a little box where I keep bows and ribbons and tissue paper etc from gifts I receive, and I use them along with inside out grocery bags to wrap gifts. This year I've wrapped a few things in strictly tissue paper. Since its so light it only needs one piece of tape - or no tape and a piece of ribbon to hold it together. I think the result is attractive, and it makes me happy knowing I've saved something from the trash. When I did not have any old ribbon to reuse, I've used plain hemp twine, or coloured raffia.

Also, if you are shipping your gifts, consider eco-friendly mailers. Typical manila envelopes are not recyclable (so I've read) due to the high ink content, but at most office stores (Staples, Target..) you can find recycled/recyclable mailers which use paper padding instead of bubbles, and are made from post consumer content recycled materials. I forgot to mention it in the "comments" section at amazon.com, and the last book I ordered came in a nasty plastic mailer. Why?!

Now, if you have a bigger budget, I'd like a larger kitchen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

a wonderful nondenominaitonal holiday

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and although I will not really be participating (no cooking, or get togethers for me - just work), I do love the day. Thanksgiving is one of the few secular but wildly celebrated holidays. Who can not love a holiday that is based upon good food, and reflecting upon what you have to be thankful for. I do not know what percentage of families sit down to their bounty and think at all about what they have to be thankful for, or how many just gorge themselves and watch football.
I love the food you eat once or twice a year, the family togetherness (not so much the stress), and the meaning behind it. People helping people, and gratitude for what you have.

This year I am grateful to have a good job, my health, and a home. I remind my self of the job part often at work (at least I have a job, with benefits.. it could be worse!). I am grateful for my friends and my family. I'm also happy for the time I have spent in Florida, and the chance to get to know a beautiful state.

The flip side of course is that Thanksgiving heralds Christmas. Shopping and travel or work and hum bug. I love Christmas and the holiday season when I am with my family...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In search of a "green" Christmas tree

Halloween has just ended, and stores and theme parks are decorating for.. Christmas. Yes, Thanksgiving has not yet come, and it has been pushed aside in place of the impending holidays. And so, although the holiday is more than a month away, I find myself offhandedly planning for Christmas. Eco cards and eco gifts and the one that has still eluded me, the eco tree.

I love live Christmas trees, but as I live in an ultra tiny apartment, I do not think I could get a cut one small enough. This thought - the necessary smallness of the tree - naturally leads me to think of Emmit Otter and their "Christmas branch". Why cut down a whole tree? I could decorate just a branch instead! The pitifulness of a Christmas branch actually appeals to me. I worked at a.. plant place once (not garden center, what would one call The Organized Jungle?) and at Christmas time we sold trees. In order to get them ready a certain amount of trimming was necessary, and they were more than happy to give away the trimmings. So, I suppose I could find someplace that sells trees and get a few branches for free (they lasted forever in a vase of water and made great wreaths).

Actual live trees (or shaped shrubs or rosemary) with roots are an excellent choice and they are the right size, but I have no yard or porch for it to live on. I don't think one could even survive in my apartment until after Christmas when I could give it away. If you have the space for it though, rosemary trees can be easily transplanted in the yard and require only well drained soil and sun. Another great option is the Easter Red Cedar which is native to Florida, is drought tolerant, and resembles has a Christmas tree shape when young.

Recently I fell in love with tacky artificial trees, and it is in that direction that I am looking this year. I like the look of some tinsel trees, but as I can not find out what they are made of, I have decided to go with something that has perhaps started the tacky Christmas tree tradition: the Aluminum Christmas Tree. If I get a vintage one its reused so no raw materials or energy were used to produce it, its recyclable, and probably biodegradable too. I'm not sure how it will look with some eco ornaments (I think aluminum trees look best with tacky retro ornaments) but I'll let you know!

Another tree option I've fallen in love with is the feather tree. To me they actually look less tacky than tinsel or fake trees. If they're white they make me think of soft fallen snow. I say white because I think it was a pink feather tree that made me fall in love with them. My hesitation with feather trees comes from the fact that I do not know if they are cruelty free or not. How are the feathers acquired? Does someone gather them as they fall, or are they plucked? How green is a feather tree? I have to do more research. I hope they are green, because the glory of getting a two foot or less tree, is that you have room for more.

Christmas tree option number five is very simple, minimalist and affordable. Back in the days when I was an interior plant maintainer I got to explore some very interesting upper class homes. One of my favourties was the house of Ed and Ed. They had great taste in art and since I had their key and came early, I never saw them (except the time I came too early...). I do not remember any of my clients Christmas Trees, except Ed and Ed's. One, (I do not remember if it was real or artificial) had a teddy bear theme, but the other was the best idea for an eco friendly affordable tree. It was simply a few large branches with smooth black bark (beech?) stuck into a plain black pot decorated with glass icicles and little else. As I'd rather not spray paint the branches, my only question is from what kind of tree should I get these branches? Something with a smooth bark, and strong enough to support a few ornaments.

Or, I'll be the grinch, and there will be no tree.
But if I do get one, I will add pictures when I find it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Christmas dilemma

The Holidays are getting closer which is causing my mind to skip ahead from shopping and eating and giving to getting. I have been making a lot of trips to donate assorted goods ever since I moved into my apartment, and I'm not done yet. I'm trying to take a hard look at what I have, and get rid of what I don't really want/need/use. I'm definitely not cutting back to the bare minimum, but two black skirts that are the same style? A candle that is nice but I'll never use it? A really cute stuffed frog that will get more love elsewhere? I can do without all that, and I'm still no where near minimalism.

What I wonder is, what is appropriate during the holiday season as far as receiving gifts are concerned. I feel bad if someone spends their money to buy me something, and since it is not something I like and can't return I re-gift it or donate it. This happens fairly often with my Japanese step-people. Why can't they just send sushi? Since communication at all is difficult, and my dad won't do it, there is no way to tell them "thanks, but no thanks". I have repeatedly told my parents that I only want things that are not plastic, are earth friendly, green, biodegradable, etc. Gift donations, or "memories" (like time together) are great.

But what about everyone else? How do I tell anyone else that might want to buy me things? Do I even tell them? I could post something on facebook, I know people have done that. And, when I do get things I'd rather not have, what then? Telling my dad that I appreciated the foot bath massage thing but would just prefer a pedicure did not work so well. He and his wife ended up a little insulted (or maybe it was just her). Should I not say anything?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lovely Luscious Lunapads

a brief public service announcement;
"for those of you that are easily grossed out, or disgusted by the talk of intimate women's products (and I don't mean vibrators) please leave". Kind of reminds me of when we had the talk in elementary school. I think this is the part where the rest of you watch a show about sharks or something.



Finally, a review for one of my new favourite undergarments: Lunapads. Lunapads is a really cool company run by women selling all sorts of cool products to let you have a "happier period, naturally". Among a few other things. My pstyle came from Lunapads.

You may be wondering, how on earth could I be referring to menstrual products as cool? To start with, let me describe lunapads. They are reusable, menstrual pads and they are the most comfortable thing I have ever worn. They are made of the softest cotton fleece in a wide array of fabrics from organic to conventionally grown cotton. There are other companies that sell reusable menstrual pads (gladrags is another popular one) but part of what sold me on Lunapads was the assortment of fun fabrics they had to choose from. That, and the design seems the best. The website is pink and cheerful, they have quick and helpful customer support, and their blog and videos seem to have the right balance between feminine, feminist, and self reliance. They are not in your face as some feminist groups can be, they don't seem to push you or come off as extremists. They are frank and open, but never gross or obscene.

Another great thing about Lunapads is the section on their website dedicated to donating pads to women in developing nations. I have thought about what women in third world countries do durring their periods, but only in passing and without thinking their was anything that could be done. Lunapads makes it easy to donate pads or money to women in other countries - they also have a pattern to download if you want to sew some pads and donate those instead. Their blog features stories from women who have delivered the pads, stories of how they have helped women in these countries, and what life is like for them without adequate sanitary supplies.

Back to why I love my lunapads (even if I don't quite love my period). Before I discovered reusable pads, every month I suffered through nast, uncomfortable, smelly, crinkly, wasteful disposable, irritating pads. Somehow I was sure that those nasty things (even the Seventh Generation brand) were irritating me. While researching different reusable pad options I discovered that I wasn't the only one. The plastics and chemicals and whatnot in the disposable pads irritated other people too! Amazingly enough, not only are my lunapads super comfortable, they don't smell and obviously they don't crinkle. Instead, I have a the wonderful feeling of not wasting. I buy the pads once and they'll last me roughly five years - as opposed to throwing out about six or so pads every month and contributing to our ever growing landfills. With lunapads you get a wonderful feeling of self reliance and they come in fun happy designs. Some other products they carry to make your period happy are lunablend, which is a mix of essential oils to help with PMS and a Lunachart. The Lunachart helps you to chart your cycle and thereby get more in touch with your body and the cycles you go through. Charting your cycle not only helps you if your trying to become pregnant (or avoid it) it also causes you to pay more attention to your body and notice any patterns or irregularities. Perhaps if I chart my cycle I can be a little more prepared next time I feel like going postal (like calling in sick or at least dabbing on some lunablend).

Having an assortment of fun patterns may seem superficial, but getting in touch with your cycle and attractive pads helps to change your perspective on your period. Instead of dreading uncomfortable disposable pads, I don't mind so much when its time for my period now, and I get to choose which cute print to wear. Cocoa Kaleidoscope or my new organic Magenta Mandela?

As to cleaning them, I don't find it gross at all - certainly no more gross than washing cloth diapers. Just rinse or pretreat or scrub or whatever, toss them in a bucket or whatever to soak until its laundry day, and hang dry.

You might be thinking, "I don't wear pads, I wear tampons so Lunapads aren't for me". Tampons are still disposable, they are still treated with an array of chemicals (even the cotton ones), and anything that could potentially cause death should make you think twice. For people who are not interested in cloth pads, and like tampons, there are still other more environmentally friendly alternatives. There is the diva cup which gets rave reviews and there are natural reusable sea sponge tampons. I think I'll give those a try next, for swim suit season (even though I'll still only go in ankle deep... I'm sure your still shark bait...). According to JadeandPearl.com which sells sea sponge tampons "The average woman uses nearly 600 pounds of paper and cotton throughout her lifetime menstrual cycle. In North America alone, an estimated 20 billion bleached pads and tampons end up in our sewage systems each year. Sponge tampons are reusable for 6 months or more."

Give them a try, you might fall in love. You might get more in touch with yourself - that is one aspect of lunapads I love. They don't make you feel like your period is gross or something to be ashamed of or secretive about. Its natural and it doesn't have to be horrible. I know I won't be going back to disposables.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Am I a lady?

I like to think that I am a lady - certainly less of a Lady than the Queen, but definitely more so than say, Britteny Spears. But I wonder sometimes, what is it that makes me a lady? There are some things that are "unladylike" which I don't do - like spitting (ew) and others that I do (if you don't burp you will explode, or at least have stomach issues). Currently though, what is bothering me is language.

I used to swear very little, but as certain words became more mainstream and everyone around me was saying them, the list of words I do not say got smaller. I certainly do not say the "f" word, or any of the vulgar words used for the female genitalia. Or, as I prefer to say, "junk". I have somehow decided that it is ok to say "bitch" if its used jokingly "those bitches" - I blame this on Dave Chapell. Or "shit" if I'm pissed off (maybe the "f" word if I stub my toe bad) but I try to avoid letting them become a part of my every day language, and not to use them in anger. I definitely avoid using the "n" word, hesitating even to use it in a quote.

In my own family my parents very rarely cuss, my older brother hardly ever, I seldom do, and my youngest brother cusses more easily. Which leads me to wonder, is this a generational thing? Words you would not have heard on the radio before are no longer being bleeped out of songs or TV. I am of the belief that we are going to pot, and this would be just another example of the degradation of society. Perhaps it is not a generational change as I work with a woman in her 50's who cusses like a sailor, and some of my friends - older and the same age as I - swear freely.

Those who swear would probably say that this is a good trend, we should all loosen up and they're just words, right? And I'm too bourgeoisie wanting there to be a difference, wanting to carry myself in a certain way, wanting to be respectable.

And so I find myself back at the question, am I a lady? Can I be a lady and still work in a "man's job" and burp and fart. I have found that in trying to fit in this man's world, I try to act more like the guys, and talk like the guys and I am no longer quite sure what is really me. Am I really coarse? Can I burp and still not be coarse? Does how I dress weigh in to whether I am a lady? I think guys have it easier, I think it would be easier to decide if a guy was a gentleman.

What do you think, what makes a lady and am I one?

On the argument against me being a lady, I present this logic;
Food is the way to a man's heart.
Food is the way to my heart.
Therefore, I must be a man.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

pstyl'n

There comes a time in a woman's life (in, a very special kind of woman) when she realizes she has to stand up and take matters into her own hands. When she can no longer sit down and be content with the status quo. I am of course talking about when a woman realizes she wants to stand up like a man, and pee.

You might ask, why would I want to do that when I could sit down on a lovely chair designed for this purpose? Besides you think, I already have three options - hover, squat and sit, what more do I need? Well, I'm tired of unquestioningly sitting down to pee. Getting my pants around my ankles in all sorts of filth, and exposing my butt to all sorts of tics and voyeurs. Not to mention the possibility of peeing on my shoes.

Oh course, I can't just lazily whip my junk out and pee freely like a man might, but I can do a lot better than nestling down into insect filled grasses.

Still though, where on earth did I ever get such a strange idea? On the lovely Lunapads website I found something called a pstyle. The pstyle is a great little plastic device which allows you to easily pee while standing. It even comes in pink! I read about it and researched it and put it on the back burner of my mind until I went to Seattle - and was forced to use an incredibly nasty porta potty. Then and there I decided - I'm going to buy that thing so neither my butt nor my pants will ever have to get any closer to this grime again.

If your interested, there are a lot of websites out there with information on different devices to help one pee standing up, or even a tutorial on how to do it all on your own. I'd suggest doing that in a skirt though, the benefit of the pstyle is that your pants stay on, and stay clean. Krista's cups has a lot of useful tips on using the pstyle. Another great benefit of the pstyle is that it eliminates the need to try and find a clean leaf to wipe away drips - it does it for you!

My only complaint is that it is a bit bulky - not when being used, but if your hiking with just some snug jeans and nothing else, where to put it? There is another option out there that folds flat, but I think I will just hike with a mini backpack instead.

So, was that tmi, or did I just blow your mind?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama's Speech to Students



Just watched Obama's highly controversial speech to students. Why it is controversial, I do not know - other than the fact that whatever he does it will upset someone.

Two thoughts went through my head as I watched the video. I felt very inspired and proud of our president, I too was inspired to try and work harder. On the other hand, I was disappointed - but in the audience. The camera would occasionally show an image of a student rolling their eyes, or slouching over or just looking obviously bored. I hope that their parents see them in this video, and smack them upside their head when they get home. The speech lasted less than 30 minutes, and they can not sit up straight and be respectful for that long? How many of those people will the message reach, if they are not open? Of course, if they act like that, chance are they were taught it or never taught properly by their parents. I ashamed for the President, and wonder what he must think as he gives this speech to a bunch of students who will not even make the effort to listen. I will have to keep a look out, and see what the response to the speech is, hopefully more people will be positively affected than those that shut it out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

wild aniamls

I know a man who is like an animal I might find in the park.
If you are gentle and kind and offer it food, it would approach you and you might think it is tame. It would follow you home and sit on your lap or even sleep in your bed. But, if you go to shut your door, it would run outside back to it's nest. The next day, or the day after, it would be back again, scratching at your door, begging for food. Once again, it would curl up with you, but it would always eye the door. It might even bring a nut or a some bedding from it's nest to your house, but definitely not all of it. It could be comfortable for several nights on end, but out of the blue it would bolt. Perhaps it perceived the door was closing, it missed it's wild home, it had to cleanse itself of the scent of domestication.
But always, it would come back.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ratatouile?


What does one do before one leaves on vacation? Survey the perishables, and figure out how best to use them up. I had in my refrigerator three zucchini, a container of baby bella mushrooms, half an onion, and a new bunch of celery to be used up. Plus a can of black olives that had been stepped on, a bell pepper, a fairly full jar of Newman's Own veg salsa medium and some Vodka spaghetti sauce. I was trying to figure out how to use up the zuch, 'shrooms and celery when it dawned on me. Ratatouille!


Now, as far as I can tell, what I came up with is still ratatouille. It is a cheap peasant dish, and I'm sure most peasant dishes arouse from trying to use up the perishables.

Since I do not have a large saute pan (none of my pans comfortably fit a tortilla) I cooked all the ingredients individually in my cast iron skillet. It took more time to cook everything separately, but I think I was better able to cook them and get the best flavour this way.

So, my recipe? I burnt (too high!) some pepper flakes, (turned down the heat) added some garlic then half an onion and sauted it for... awhile. I set my mushrooms in whole, but the onions were getting too hot so I scooped those out and set the rest of the mushrooms in - there was just enough room for all of them. After those were well browned on both sides I added those to my "cooked" bowl and added one loosely chopped red bell pepper which I cooked until it was a little black on one side and softened. Those came out and in went three celery stalks, some more crushed pepper, and dried oregano and basil.

Next the zuchini went in. After awhile got bored waiting for the zuchini to cook so I dumped everything back in with the addition of the remainder of the Vodka sauce and Newman's "Farmer's Garden" salsa. The lid hardly fit on so everything then went into my stock pot to simmer away.... With the addition of a bunch of collards that had to be used up! I used a pair of scissors (scissors are your best friend in the kitchen) to cut out the midrib and rough cut them into the pot. I brought it to a boil and let it simmer an hour or two more. I figured it was done when the collards were finally wilted.

Voila! I got two 2Cup and one 4 cup archer glass container full, plus one small cereal bowl out of that. Now bad huh? Flavourful (from my spices or the sauce?), healthy and vegetarian, what more could you want?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lies, all lies

We need more truth in advertising and.... cliches.

I was cleaning a jar out with some baking soda and vinegar earlier today, and I left the jar and lids with vinegar sit, and guess what I found floating in the vinegar? Flies, nats, little flying insects. Formerly flying. Flies. In. Vinegar.
I know what your thinking, this is not a valid experiment, I need to set out an open container of honey. But really, do I need more flies? I do not need more proof, I am convinced. My nice days are over. Now that I know I can catch flies with vinegar, I have no need of honey. If I find I need more, I'll resort to the nice.

What other proverbs are deceiving me? Do early birds get the worm? Is all this haste making waste? Is fear the only thing we have to fear? Really? Not influenza or economic decline or rising global temperatures perhaps?

I go out a little wiser, and little less naive, and a little saddened.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Toy = delicousness!

So, I got a new toy. I've wanted this for quite awhile, and finally went ahead and bought it. When I tell people "I got a cherry pitter!" They say "do you pit cherries often?" That, is not the point. The point is that I can. For $15 I can pit a bag of cherries relatively quickly with an all but one success rate and little mess whereas before I've had to slowly go through and cut each one - creating a mess and getting bloody looking hands in the process.


And, what does one make when cherries are reasonably priced at the grocery store and you have a new cherry pitter?

Cherry Cobbler! Which I've also been craving (cobbler in general really. I've got to get to the peaches before they're gone). I have epicurious on my iphone and I wanted to get started when I got home, so I searched around on there for a recipe and found this one. I also followed the advice in the reviews and substituted in the recipe for the topping from the plum cobbler with cinnamon biscuits.

The best part about the cherry recipe was having to get a bottle of Lazzaroni Amaretto (made from an infusion of cookies?) which is a delicous addition to a cup of black tea. Mmm, or licking the cherry syrup in the pot (if I had a bigger pot I'd stick my head in it).

The only substitution I made was replacing the cream in the biscuit recipe with whatever "dairy" I had on hand, which happened to be Almond Milk. Oh, and I misread "1 tsp vanilla" for "1 tbsp" but no problem either way. I also don't know how many cherries I used. A bag and most of another from the store, however much that was.



The only difficult part was figuring out how to mix the dough, how to get it into the pan, and how to get it off my fingers!

Oh, I almost forgot - the real problem arose when I heard a sizzling sound from the oven and I realized that my container must not have been a 2 quart dish (or, too many cherries? too much biscuit?). The only thing I could do was to stick a cookie sheet under it and watch it boil over..




The end result was great and the spices really stood out. The biscuits were fluffy, the cherries were soft and... how do you describe that cherry feel? And of course, you can't have cobbler without vanilla ice cream.

The only thing I will do differently is to put it in a much larger container and lower the ratio of biscuit to cherries. In one review someone suggested using extra dough to make a separate biscuit, and I think that would be a good idea (they were definitely good enough to stand alone).

You may be asking yourself, really though, a $15 cherry pitter for the occasional cherry cobbler? Of course not! I perked up some plain non-fat yogurt by tossing in some pitted cherries, pureeing with my immersion blender, adding some more cherries whole, a bit of honey and had a quick, easy, and healthy ultra yummy snack.
And that's not all! Yes sir, this little gem will soon be working its way through a jar of kalamata olives! So delicious, yet so frustratingly filled with seeds! I salivate at the thought of some Greek inspired kalamata olive filled dish... (stay tuned!)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Congee

Yeah! I finally made congee/chao. For those of you who are in the dark, congee is a soupy rice dish served in (probably) every Asian country. Congee is the Chinese word for it. In Vietnamn its chao. My dad's Okinawan wife makes it for him when he's hung over or sick for some reason. My brother had a variant of it in Thailand for breakfast. Its sick food, comfort food, and food thats good for you when your mouth hurts.

One of the nutty Vietnamese guys I work with keeps saying "that's easy, any child can make that". Well, yes, it is easy, but any soVietnamese child was raised on it. Thats one reason its so great - it's so easy it was no problem to cook it up even though I was feeling lazy. I browsed around on the net for some basic ideas, and winged it.

Basically, here's what you do;
I guess I used too much rice - I used 2 cups jasmine rice and 8 cups water (you really want the rice to break down) but I could have used 1 cup rice and 6 cups water (so Hung tells me). I suppose that would have been enough too - I kept having to add more water, so who knows how much I ended up with. And it was still thicker than I've had it elsewhere.


I had about a pound of chicken thigh meat which I cut up (literally! who needs a cutting board?!) which I heated up a few pieces at a time in my beloved cast iron skillet before tossing them in the pot (perhaps this helped? I don't know).
I also cut off and peeled a nub of ginger which I thinly sliced and tossed in. I also threw in three cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. The only other spices/condiments I added were a few good pinches of kosher salt, a dash of soy sauce, some fresh ground pepper, a dash of crushed red pepper flakes and a light drizzle of sesame oil at the end. That sounds like a lot of flavouring, but its really not. Its very subtle. I think what you taste and smell mostly is the ginger and the jasmine rice. It not quite bland (which is good when your stomach is upset) but not spicy either.

Just before dishing it up I chopped up some green onion and tossed it in.

The giver of cast iron skillets has had a terrible sore throat lately and has been feeling very sick, and this is just what was needed.

It was filling, satisfying, mostly healthy (I wonder about that chicken thigh meat) and soothing. Besides all that, it was simple. A few cheap ingredients and very little prep work. Just toss a bunch of stuff and cook some meat on the side if you so desire. For a bit more work I've read that it is often served with a bunch of condiments like chopped cilantro, peanuts, chilies etc.

If you have any other congee suggestions let me know! I think I'll have fun playing around with this.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

got to have a baby

disclaimer; I am not referring to my friends who have recently had/are having babies

It is generally understood, that only the stupid people are breeding. Ignorant people have children, teach them little that is good and set them free in to the world to wreck havoc, vote, and in turn breed again. I've thought what a terrible shame this is and how unlikely it is to reverse. There are fewer intelligent people, and less of them breed. Exponentially, the stupid will grow more quickly, while perhaps the smart people will die off.

I have said before how much I detest children. They're loud, they require attention - more so than the house plants I forget to water - they live too long, and who knows when you will get your space and freedom again. Plus, its a deteriorating world we live in. I don't think things are likely to get better - simply put, I think we're going to pot. So, isn't it selfish and cruel to put force another creature to live through all of this?

Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that in order that the human race's remaining years have a fighting chance, the intelligent must breed. We need to dilute the stupid in the gene pool. I'm not talking about crazy rampant breeding, just one or two. The only other thing we can do is hope the stupid will have gay babies, or by some mutation their children resist the stupid gene, and become intelligent individuals.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

turn-ons and turn-offs. Or, cheers and jeers

I hate:
Mean People -
dishonest people, self-centered people, close minded people and people who are too full of themselves are included here
Plastic
I'm trying to rid my self (or severly limit) my use of plastic/non-biodegradable things. Products by Preserve and such that can be reused somehow don't count.
Fundamentalist Christians who are close minded and try to convert you get on my nerves, and the same goes for similar Republicans.

I like:
donation gifts -
a friend of mine had a tree planted somewhere for me for my birthday and thats cool. I donated money in my dad's name for his birthday and donated money to oxfam for my brother's birthday so a family could get mosquito netting.
I like rescue animals - I dislike puppy mill dogs or irresponsible pet owners who don't fix their pets.
I like good books and art in many forms
like a Taurus I like things that please the senses - especially good food, served well
I love my friends, and my family isn't that bad either
I like nice polite kind people - the kind of people who would give up their seat on a bus to a little old lady

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fat in the USA

disclaimer: By writing this I am not saying I am fat. Please don't say "oh, your not fat". Cuz I'm PHAT.

On my way home from work everyday I drive by a bill board (drove, I think its finally gone) of a disgustingly thin woman - just her mid section - with a midriff baring shirt with a measuring tape around her middle. It was some ad for weight loss. "You can be this thin!" But, why would I want to? I whole heartily believe that real women have curves (even though I haven't seen that movie yet). Um, also, to those naturally skinny women out there - you can't help it, I still think you're real women. But, you are meant to be that way. What I'm saying is, I have naturally slender friends - and they are beautiful that way.

Ok, disclaimers out the way - back to talking about people who have some junk in their trunk. The point is, its hard having curves in America. We have very few curvalicious roll models. Starting from a young age we are impressed by the notorious Barbie who was impossibly tall, skinny and big breasted. Not to mention video game and comic book characters and Shera. Do you know how hard it is trying to live up to that?
Women on TV, billboards and posters are all skinny and big breasted. And, if celebrities do get pleasantly plump, they are so talked about that they quickly loose it. So, it is hard for many women to accept themselves as they are because society is constantly telling them that they are not thin enough nor big boobed enough.

What I want is a slightly shorter barbie with less perky boobs and a little bit of a belly and a bit of a butt. Actually, I don't have a Barbie around, so I'm not sure how her butt looks - but I am definitely not going to google it.


On the other hand, we are definitely a country of fat people. I think people in the Middle East console themselves by saying "Sure, those Americans bomb us and sure are making a mess around here - but man, they sure are fat! And stupid! Most of them don't even know where the Middle East is!" "Oh, its funny..." Actually, I think that quote applies to a lot of other countries (except you substitute bomb with whatever). And yes, I know that they bomb each other, but they probably have to make other generalizations about their neighbors who bomb them.

There's not a lot else to say about the whole fat thing. We are a lazy, misinformed people (the preservatives are making me fat!). Now, I'm not saying we are the only fat nation, I am saying we are the fattest. (see poll).
Maybe this propensity towards fatness is another thing that makes it difficult for people to be a little curvy - fear of going too far in the wrong direction.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Individual (healthy?) lasagna rolls

Lasagna roll-ups!

I adapted my lasagna roll-ups from I heart food 4 thought and she got it from coconut and lime. I've simplified it by using a jar of pasta sauce instead of making my own, and sprinkling the whole thing with chopped garlic instead of putting shallots in the rolls. I also used part-skim ricotta (possibly I should have looked further for less fat - don't grocery shop on the phone) and wheat noodles. Oh, and I didn't use basil.



I have made this before and it got rave reviews but this time I am making it today with the intent of baking it tomorrow. Also, since it makes more than my rectangular pyrex dish can hold, I put a small amount in a 4 cut pyrex round container which I froze. I don't know how that will turn out. But, if it works, I think I will start making my own frozen foods!


I think perhaps they are fairly healthy, as long as you only eat a few - I'm planning on having it with broccoli to increase the health factor.

Verdict: It was pretty easy to make, especially since I used premade sauce - the only difficulty was in rolling up the lasagna, the squiggly parts tend to come off (that's why they're piled on top) and its a bit messy. The odd thing is that last time I ran out of filling and this time I had almost too much - perhaps because in the beginning I was very sparring. Oh, it turns out I used 15oz ricotta... Making my own sauce sometime might be fun though, it would probably up the yum factor, just take a bit longer - and that in the picture, thats my whole kitchen work space. It gets crowded fast.
I'll post this after I've cooked it.
Turned out good - except, more sauce would have been better. And I need a good old fashioned vegetable steamer. And thats mozerella pieces on the top, not a gob of butter. Oh, and the slivers of garlic were still very intense.. My burps taste like garlic.
As to the frozen part, how am I going to cook that?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The only thing we have to Fear....



I love to walk in the woods. I like to go alone, or I like to go with a friend. Its fun to take a friend and enjoy it together, or be alone and enjoy the quiet. But, when I tell some of my "cityfied" friends, their response is often "you better be careful, some girl was eaten by an alligator/had her throat cut open somewhere last week in the woods/on a bike path/etc."

Now, as to animals in Florida, I have very little fear. (Of course, the water is the exception, I cannot see through the water, and sharks can swim fast....) I have a healthy respect for alligators snakes and spiders, but I don't think I fear them. With a little outdoor sense and caution, unfortunate run-ins with animals can be avoided. Besides the fact that in Florida snakes and spider bites are rarely deadly. Australia of course is another matter, the venom in animals there can kill you before you can get to the hospital. Alligator mishaps can be avoided by knowing when they're more likely to be aggressive - like mating season (which lasts from May until June). Apparently jogging along the water's edge with your dog or chicken (what??? I read that here) is also not a good idea - I guess thats like swimming in the ocean with your dog. Apparently taking your dog out with you is like tying a worm to a fishing hook.

The people thing is a little funny, I have a friend in living in New York city and I worry about her in the big city. Having something slipped into her drink at a bar, getting mugged or worse coming home late or getting robbed. There has to be a higher concentration of people with evil intent in a big city than scattered in the woods. Sure, there could be some crazy guy in my well lit but relatively uninhabited woods well away from habitation, but what are the chances? I could have been caught in a tornado in Texas (there was once downtown while I was working there) or in a hurricane in Florida. I want to move north someday, and while there I could loose my power during a blizzard. There are lots of things in the ocean that could hurt me - medium sharks, jellyfish, red tide, but... oh, I do fear the ocean. Its too big, and the water is too murky. Damn!

So, where does this fear get me? I do not swim or go out far into the ocean - and I love the ocean, I love to walk and play around in it. Fear only cripples you. Today while I was walking in the woods I thought about everyone's worries and started to get jumpy at every little noise - and there are a lot of noisy scurrying lizards in the woods around here. Another noisy animal in the woods of Florida?
Armadillos!
If I let fear get a hold of me I could not enjoy going out in the woods. It is unreasonable to think I should not go there, or not go alone. Sometimes I tell people where I am going, so, as I say, "they can find the body". What else can I do? I don't go out to the woods when its dark, and I've got my phone with me "help! arghhhhh _______"

Yes, I could get attacked, or I could crash next time I fly, and I could stay home and never do anything that has any associated risks, but would that be living?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

graffiti

I have been forced to reevaluate my stance on graffiti. I was completely against graffiti - I don't like "tags" on buildings that are ugly and lower the property value or make the neighborhood seem less nice. I had a friend who for some reason seemed pro-graffiti, but I'm still not sure why. I guess he understood why they did it, but that still does not excuse trashing someone else's property. Three artists (or 2 1/2) have convinced me to really rethink my view.

Banksy's
work is incredible, thought provoking, and although I guess this is a matter of opinion - makes the area it is painted on look better, at least a lot of the time (and not just because his work is so sought after). His style is so cool, but there is also a deeper meaning behind it. Its not just saying "hey, this is mine". Simply, they are murals that may offend some because they may not like the message they convey. Its also interesting because it often stenciled on to the surface creating a unique end product.

Julian Beever is another artist (very different from the first) whose work would be considered graffiti by some. What differentiates his work from typical graffiti is its transience. If you do not like it, you don't have to worry because it will be gone as soon as it rains or the streets are washed.

The .5 artists is Shepherd Fairy. I'm not saying he's not a full artist, but there is a lot of controversy right now on whether his Obama poster (or other posters) are truly his, or whether he's just really good at tinkering with other people's work. I was looking him up once and found a site comparing his work to other posters etc. Whether its true or not, I do like a lot of his work and it has caused me to think about "poster art/sticker" art/graffiti. Its a neat way displaying and distributing the artwork.

Although these artists have very different styles techniques and messages, they have succeeded in making me think. Their art has caused me to consider "what is art and what is graffiti?" and it has also introduced me to some cool techniques for making art or graffiti.

A few years ago I took a tour of Philadelphia. One thing that has stood out about that tour were the murals painted on buildings throughout the town. They were all very different, but they all accentuated the European/cool feel of Philly. The really cool thing about the murals was that according to the tour guide, they punished graffiti artists by making them paint a mural (ironic punishment?). Supposedly someone will not graffiti over someone else's art/work. Whether or not that was true, they definitely looked cool. The murals in Philly and elsewhere have made me wonder, perhaps some people just need an outlet. Maybe more cities need a place where people can legally express themselves (in an appropriate manner). In Orlando at Pho 88 one wall of the building is covered in ever changing graffiti/street art. I'm fairly certain the restaurant owner allows it, and (however it is set up) the artist gets to advertise (there is often a name or number). Of course, this wouldn't work for delinquents who just want to tag buildings and join a gang and feel cool, I think they'll have to look elsewhere for help (family planning perhaps).

I once saw a picture of an awesome mural somewhere in South America of evolution, but I can't find it right now or I'd post it.
I know this post is rather rambly, but its past my bedtime and I think I'm going to find out whether my laptop is capable of creating 3rd degree burns (one day a decade from now I'll end up in a fertility clinic and I'll find out all of my eggs have been hardboiled.. ooh, easy birth control...).
Um, so yes... my brain is asleep. I could wait and add to this later, but maybe I'll just add on later... in comments....

Talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, March 30, 2009

saving green

Last week our president (of my place of employment) told us that they will do their best not to lay anyone off and that they are looking to cut wasteful spending to get us through these tough times. He asked us to all act as though we own the company, and think of ways we could save money and write our ideas down and give them to our supervisors. I sent my director an email with about 12 ideas (not including two other emails) for conserving energy - which is the same thing as money.

I think this is a great idea for anyone who works - do your company a favour, look around you and write down everything you can think of that is wasteful (single use cups, old fashioned lightbulbs, single sided printing, faxing, etc) and let them know. If you can help them save some cash, I'm sure they'd appreciate your concern and effort. My little brother also did this for the restaurant he works at. Its is not a green company by any means, but since being green often means saving green, they are suddenly interested.

Yes, it will cost a little up front, but in the long run it will save money (like the little things I've done at my apartment).

To help you out, I'll post my ideas.

Vending mashines with sensors that turn off/or decrease energy usage during the long periods when no one uses them. http://www.idealbite.com/tiplibrary/archives/never-can-b2-eco-office-week

Unplug (or plug into a power strip and unplug) appliances when they are not in use. Appliances like computers, cell phone chargers etc use a lot of energy even when they are turned off. http://www.idealbite.com/tiplibrary/archives/beware-phantom-loads-electronics-we

If your company uses paper towels, dyson hand dryers are more hygenic and save money (less upkeep too) http://www.dysonairblade.com/why/?sinavtype=menu

Turning your thermostat up a few degrees in summer and down a few in winter can save energy - dress appropriately and shade those windows!

Replace all lightbulbs with CFL or LED light bulbs.

If you work somewhere that gives the customer a reciept, ask if they even want if - not printing it will save you paper (it all adds up).

If you have showers use low flow shower heads (1.5 gallons per minute or less) and low flow faucets.

Print in draft mode http://www.idealbite.com/tiplibrary/archives/draft-dodger, print double sided and decrease your margins to avoid using an extra paper.

If you use a company car or charge your gas to the company - avoid idling. http://www.idealbite.com/tiplibrary/archives/american-idle-bust-myth-week I turn off my car when I'm stuck at a train crossing. (This counts for the drive through too - burn a few calories and walk in).

If you can't get people to turn off the lights when they leave a room, consider motion detecting light switches. http://www.idealbite.com/tiplibrary/archives/clap

If your still sending faxes (who faxes?) consider e-faxing instead. http://www.idealbite.com/tiplibrary/archives/just-fax-maam-sorry-pun-was-too-eas
y

I'm sure there are wasteful habits that can be cut out where you work too, I think of the economic downturn as an opportunity for people to wake up to their wasteful lifestyles and make a change for the better.

If you have any ideas I haven't posted, please let me know!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Ant and the Grasshopper

I feel like the grasshopper in Aesop's fable of the grasshopper who danced and partied all summer long, but when winter came he was not prepared. Throughout the summer he scorned his neighbors the ants for working so hard while it was beautiful out, but in the winter time they were able to take it easy because they had prepared for the hard times ahead.

After high school I went to college and eventually got a 2 year degree - and took some cool classes, and went on some cool trips - but I just went "gen ed". C'mon, I've always wanted to do the same thing - work with plants somehow. After that I messed around a few years until a roommate said to hurry up and go to school. So, here I am at my midlife crisis (I can have my midlife crisis whenever I want thank you very much) two 2year degrees, no big career, no family. I have to not compare myself with my elders (my mom and grandma both say "when I was your age...") or friend's my age who have husbands, careers and kids.
I'm not saying I necessarily want that white picket fence lifestyle (but I do want the white picket fence, they're so cute). I just... don't want to be the grasshopper. I don't want to someday get married and worry I've never lived, worry I never had a career.. Or, I don't want to just float on and wish I had something more substantial to show for my years.

Granted, I think I'm doin ok - my own place, two jobs, an A.A. and an A.S. Thats good, right? Right? Ok, I'll work on more.

Of course this brings us back to the question of whether the time is right for me to bring "dog" back into my life. I may never be stable though, if I wait for that I may wait forever.

Ok, new to-do list; do more stuff, do things for job advancement

Oh, just so you know - I still think children are evil and marriage is the death of fun. I'm just saying, everybody is doing it. My mom (I do not know why) used to sing to me the song "I never will marry" by Linda Ronstadt
"...I never will marry
I'll be no man's wife
I expect to live single
All the days of my life"

She's an odd woman that mother of mine. She sang to my older brother "dreamer" by Supertramp "...can you put your hands in your head? oh no! your nothing but a dreamer" Hm, what about my little brother?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

facebook, twitter and mysociallifeisdependantuponstupidmembersonlycomputergroups

I do not belong to facebook (trying to stay out despite requests) I really do not like myspace (definately won't join that one) and god help me, I hope I never tweet. For those of you fogies who live in a cave and don't know what I'm talking about - I envy you.

I have this little blog which my friends and family could read if they cared to see whats up in my life (ok, more of whats on my mind). They don't have to join and create a password and another ID to remember. They can simply go to the site, and read it. Yes, it can be a bit long, but do you want to hear "status: doing nothing, bored. feeling fat." "what are you doing now: dishes" Woo! Yes, I have friends who tell me myspace helps them keep in touch with their friends and family but in order for me to find out whats up in their lives also, I have to join. I have to create an account and a website and a profile and remember another password and one day I'll get drunk and post something crazy that will prevent my nonexistent future children from being accepted into Notre Dam. I have also had a roommate (who should have gotten it over with and become a stripper) who used myspace to meet all sorts of great guys - sometimes two in one day!
Yes, facebook is supposed to be "classier" you have to use your real name, but a.) it is against pictures of mom's breastfeeding (what??) and b.) people use it to facebook-stalk. I had another roommate who told me she was feeling down because she was checking up on an old boyfriend and she saw he was now dating a young attractive woman. I do not want to check to see what a friend has been up to and wind up in a drama like that.

Is that enough for now or should I go on to say why I think this next generation is going to pot?

Seriously though, I'd rather my friends called me up or sent me an email (even a group email) or (dare I say it?) an actual letter, than to have to check their "tweets" or facebook account to see what little minutia they have been up to. "status: road trip, see attached photo" As to the blog? Well, it exists half for me to just get my thoughts out and if someone wishes to comment than so be it; and half because a friend told me to set up a blog so I'd stop bothering him and he could just read my thoughts at leisure. hm...
If one of my friends had a blog I'd love to read it. I would try to check it periodically and comment to let them know they're loved (hint). How is this different from a social networking site?.. Ah, I answered my own question. Social networking. That's what those sites are, and this is not. This exists to share ideas or thoughts, those exist for "networking".

I suppose this is long enough for now. I'll sound more like an old lady later when I write about "this younger generation"Italic

Sunday, March 22, 2009

cured fom brats

I've heared from a lot of vegetarians how they feel better when they don't eat meat (some people say they feel better when they eat just fruits or cut out sugar, but that's too extreme for me) and today I think I have been cured (at least for awhile) of bratwursts. Probably hot dogs in general.
I think I have good memories of eating junky food, but then I try it again and they don't measure up. It seems more foods are being relegated to the list of foods I eat when I'm feeling crummy. Tony's cheapie pizzas in the frozen food section, fast food in general - actually, fast food has pretty much been wiped off my list (I had one Checker's burger this year and before that I hadn't had a drive through burger in a couple of years, and I think it will be a couple more until I do it again, if ever).
It is interesting how my tastes are evolving - I now prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla - but unfortunately I now prefer food that takes longer to cook and requires that I eat it soon after purchasing it.
My last Taco Bell nachos were pretty bad, maybe they're next....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Passive Aggression

When I hear the words "passive-aggressive" it seems to me like its said negatively. As though this is a bad way to share your anger or annoyance with someone. I suppose it is healthier to confront someone and discuss your problems like an adult - of course this requires that both parties act like adults. For great examples of passive aggression check the passive-aggressive notes website. Personally I'm not big on confrontation. Partially because I blow things out of proportion "what if s/he yells at me or hates me and then we will have all this awkwardness and then they won't be my friend anymore". But, also I think I've learned its easier because I've dealt with people who it was not possible to discuss things with in a mature manner.

I do feel better when the issue is brought up front in the open and whoever and I can discuss it calmly and reasonably. But, there are some issues that I do not think can be calmly discussed. Or, at least not with all people. These are of course children, god/religion and weight. Like "Maybe if you didn't eat so much at church functions you wouldn't be as fat as your damn kid". No, thats just plain aggressive... no passive there.

I suppose the verdict is open dialogue is best, except when concerning god, weight or baby flushing - in which case we tip toe around it or avoid it all together. I mean um, population control...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Edible landscaping link

Here is the website for the guys who are doing edible organic landscaping. I am busy and sick with pollen allergies and moving soon so - I haven't checked much into the community thing yet. I found some leads I will follow, but if none of them works out, I want to find someone who will help me make it. So, not much to say, I just want to get that website link up.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Garden of Eatin'


The Garden of Eatin': A Short History of America's Garden from roger doiron on Vimeo.

I love this video. I know a guy who is doing pretty good business planting vegetable gardens for people, hopefully the time of the victory garden has come again. Now I just have to find a solution for people like me who do not have yards.

Please sign the petition here.
And let me know what you're growing!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A piece of land

When I chose my new home I had to pick between a bigger more expensive place with a balcony with a nice view and bathroom with a window and a smaller affordable place with neither. I decided to be practical and get the efficiency sans garden space (a bathroom is a great place for plants, and a window really helps). I really really wanted the place with the balcony - it looked like it got a lot of sun and I could have grown some vegetables and some other things. Few things make me as happy as being out in a garden, and a patio garden would have been something.

Now, the perfect solution to my no garden plot dilemma would be to rent a bit of land to garden in... on. When I lived in Germany I often passed a large area that had little gardens sectioned out all over it. They were small - maybe 10 x 10 - and had a little shed or something on them. I forget, maybe they had a fence around them. As much as I loved living in Germany, I missed playing in the dirt, and often thought that if I could have one of those I could be happy. I have read that people have done similar things with vacant plots in Chicago and in New York. So, why not here? I would gladly pay a small fee every month to have my own little space to garden in.

I am an idea man, not an entrepreneur. So, will someone please take this idea and run with it? I really think its a great idea - even in these hard economic times. I think a lot of people would pay $20 a month (I don't know what it should be) to have a place to grow their own vegetables or roses or whatever. Especially as people are hearing more about salmonella infested fruits but can not grow their own because they live in small apartments. Maybe the idea would have to be sold a bit, its popular in other parts of the world, and our grandmothers would do it, why not us? There are a lot of empty lots or worn down buildings around here that could be converted into a garden.

time to move on

After four rooms found through craigslist.org I am finally through. I still think craigslist is really helpfull and a great tool. There are all sorts of jobs there and you can sell stuff or buy things and if your bored or whatever for a good laugh its fun to read the personals. Seriously though, just for fun - never date anyone from there, they're all quacko. I don't even think its bad getting or renting a room there - I met two great people that way (one by moving into her house, and the other was her friend) and a friend of mine just found the best deal on a condo there.

But, I am through searching for awhile. There are a bunch of great deals on craigslist, but I took the easy way. I went to an apartment complex and rented an efficiency. Its in a safe clean neighborhood so I don't think I will be too nervous starting this next phase in my life - the part where I (just before I turn 30) finally live on my own! Up until now I've lived with my parents, lived with "men friends" or rented rooms at stranger's houses. I would be nervous if the area wasn't safe, or was loud or something, but I think it will be ok. (While there I met an elderly lady on her way to play bingo in the club house - it doesn't get calmer than that).

It will be like renting my room (because its just an efficiency, so its like a big room plus kitchen and bathroom) - but the Hello Kitty Pinkness will extend beyond the bedroom! Haha! Plus, since it will finally be all mine - I can finally entertain (a little). Unfortunately this means I'll have to keep a little cleaner, but my excuse has always been that I haven't had enough space to be clean, so we'll see if that turns out to be true (I plan to get a raised bed and kick everything under there).

Oh, just in case your keeping tally - this will be my 2nd move this year (unless you cound the brief time I'll stay at a friends in between there and here) and my.... 8th home since I moved back to Florida. Woo! I blame it all on my dad, because as partial Navy brats we led the lives of gypsies.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Planned overs



Another food related entry!
A week ago Publix had Hormel meat stuffs on sale - those beef tips in gravy and pot roast and stuff - so I bought a few and froze all but one. So, for dinner I made a bunch of Texmati rice I wanted to use up (it was a really good whole grain blend with brown and red rice and pearled barley and rye berries) and the beef tips, and a bunch of frozen mixed vegetables. I had too much rice so I froze a bunch in a pyrex type container and divided the rest into the rest of my pyrex type containers. I later thawed the rice and used it for another similar meal, so I saved even more time!
Voila! 2 lunches and a dinner or 3 lunches or whatever. I like the smaller containers because its better portion control (Then I'm not too full for a piece of chocolate!). Maybe sometime I'll get more containers and freeze some and then make another meal and freeze that and I'll have variety!
I know its not very exciting, but it beats the lunch of the guy who eats lunch next to me - every day a can of soup and an individual microwavable mac n'cheese. Even though a lot of this is instant - frozen veggies, premade beef tips - its got to be a lot healthier and cheaper.
Next time I'll have to figure out the cost breakdown. $4.99 for the meat, um, $1.50 for veggies? (didn't use the whole bag) rice my mom gave me so say $1 (used a fourth of it) so... $7.49 for four meals.... Woo! $1.87 each! Can't be too off, right?
Oh, note to veg heads - mushrooms and gravy would be good too. Or whatever.


So, in review - healthy, cost effective, and relatively quick!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Adulthood

My mother was a good mom who trained us children well. I don't know if we ever had fruit loops, rarely had junk food and most of the time I remember eating well balanced meals at the table. But, the best thing about being an adult is ignoring that. Now that I am off into the wilds of the world I can drink milk out of the carton, have cookies for breakfast and chocolate pie for dinner. Oh, and meals based on chocolate soy milk. And of course, the poor person's staple: ramen noodle soup.
Oh, and while I am making confessions my bed doesn't even have a "made" state. Made is when all the covers are on the bed and sort of cover the mattress.

Its a horrible sloppy college style life I am leading - and a little late into my life to begin it. I can only hope that one day my mother's training will come back to me, and I will remember how to live like a grownup should. Until then, I shall enjoy my chocolate based diet, and sloppy ways.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 36th Anniversary Roe v. Wade!

There are two ways of looking at this anniversary - it is either a celebration of a ruling that has helped thousands of women have safe abortions and avoid births that could endanger their lives, or the life/health of the child, or put them in a situation they were simply not ready for. Or, it is a sad reminder of the thousands of children who are not alive today - unwanted, or unhealthy, or orphaned or mistreat or maybe even adopted into a loving home.

Of course I see it as a celebration of a ruling that has helped many women. I know several women who had done their best (outside of abstinence) to avoid pregnancy and had an abortion because they were simply not ready to have children. Some of those women have children now - when they can properly care for them. I do not see a young fetus as a thing with a soul and rights (above mine) that can feel pain etc. The body aborts or miscarries eggs/embryos that are either unhealthy or that the body cannot sustain and this is just a step beyond that.

I wonder if the anti-choice side is all christian. Would any other group mind?

I am currently doing (almost) everything I can to avoid a pregnancy, but I know I am not ready to have a child - I can hardly support myself, and I know I'm not taking as good of care of myself as possible. Should I let a child "mess up" my life? Or change the path I'm on? I have heard people say that if you accidentally get pregnant you should "accept the consequences", but a child is not a punishment and it should be a choice. One should choose to have children if and when ready. If one is not ready I definitely believe you should try your hardest to avoid pregnancy, but there are accidents and tragedies. I do not know how anyone (except Sara Palin) could defend a pregnancy that could cause the death of the mother, or is caused by a crime (rape or incest).

I suppose there are three reasons to support abortion; it is a women's choice, in case of harm to the mother or due to crime, and because there will be abortions regardless of legality. If it were illegal women would continue to have abortions using a variety of methods and some of the women would die or become injured, and some children would be born sick or deformed.

I joke about abortion a lot (because I don't like people joking about me having kids "oh, why don't you have kids? Your life is meaningless without children" "oh, your sick, you must be pregnant, haha") but I would give it serious thought if I did become unintentionally pregnant, and I would not take it lightly and I am sure for most other women it is not any easy out, or a method of birth control.

Perhaps if we improved our sex education in the United States we might experience less unplanned pregnancies. I do not think abstinence only worked for Bristol Palin.

Here is my can of worms. Luckily, not too many people read this so the chance of my being slammed for my opinion is minimal. But, why must it be so emotional and polarizing? I am happy as long as you do not take away my right or the right of other women, and I will allow you to do what you want. I am not forcing you to abort your baby for whatever reason, so why be so angry? I have had a woman tell me that her friends have a baby they love with down's syndrome and if he'd been aborted (something, I forget where she went with that). But, that's ok, allowing other women to choose whether or not to have a child does not stop someone else from having theirs.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Real Florida, part I









Florida is a beautiful wonderful state. I don't want to live here forever, but I do love it, and want to enjoy as much of it as I can while I'm here.

One thing I love about Florida is the diversity. There are springs and swamps and scrub flatwoods and hardwoods and pinewoods and of course the beaches.

Yes, there are golf courses and resorts and theme parks and clubs and even beach resorts, but I do not consider this to be the real Florida. Its like determining what is a native plant. If it was not here when Columbus was here, its not really Florida. I do consider St. Augustine and Fort De Soto "real Florida" so... I guess we can add a few years to that equation.

So when I am stressed or worn out I like to go to the woods (of which there are many close by in Florida - not so in Texas) and recharge.
These are pictures from my last trip to the woods, I won't tell you where, because its my special place!

I am experiencing technical difficulties uploading my photos, so I think I may have to create a flickr account to store them and link there. So... if you want to see the rest of my pictures check them out here.
I'm totally new at this flickr thing so I welcome any suggestions! I guess I'll be learning more about in in the next few days!

which is more important? i.e. which would you choose at the exclusion of the other?