Sunday, February 29, 2004

Saturday's Dinner Menu - Couscous Casablanca Style.

I'm a bit tardy in posting this, but the following meal was brought to us by M (J's brother) and J too... I helped only minimally. This recipe is from Cooking at the Kasbah by Kitty Morse. I was craving the cinnamon flavored meat in the traditional Moroccan B'Stila (pastry pie). So after I served myself a portion I sprinkled a little of the spice on my dish. It was heaven. Cinnamon is a spice that should be enjoyed with some subtlety. Any savory dish, in fact, should be spiced carefully. Perhaps I'm a food snob, but I think that we overuse cinnamon. Take for example those sticky buttered up sugar buns that they serve in the mall. The cinnamon coats the pre-fab dough in a thick and syrupy goo. I've decided that foods that are successful in the shopping-mall or bulk-food sense (jumbo muffins included) appeal to the basest pleasure centers in our taste buds. It feels good going down, and we're tempted to gorge ourselves on these items. The people that develop and market these food items are aware of this. Much of these foods are tested in taste labs.

It must be possible to overcome this anasmia if we just enjoy little pleasures and joys in what we taste and eat. So I hold that Cinnamon is underrated as a savory spice, and I'd like to do more research on how it's used as such. I've had it in some wonderful dishes including a Lebanese pizza with spiced ground lamb and sweet onions. Do you think Jimmy Stewart would have dared? Though unlike Jimmy in The Man Who Knew Too Much that night opted for eating with utensils.

Thanks to M. for this fabulous meal! I marked his substitutions below.

K'seksoo Beidaoui

2 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 sweet onions, peeled and sliced thinly*
5 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly* (substituted for 4 onions)
2 pounds quality beef chuck cut into two inch chunks* (for 1 lb beef/lamb and 1 3 lb chicken)
1 28 oz can of whole roma tomatoes with the juice* (for 1 16 oz can- he just added less water)
30 parsley and cilantro leaves tied with a cotton string
8 c water* (about 7)
14 threads Spanish saffron, toasted in a pan and crushed
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
4 carrots peeled and halved
4 turnips peeled and quartered
1/2 c. dried chickpeas, soaked and drained* (we forgot to buy these so... ooops)
4 celery stalks cut into 3 inch pieces
3 zucchini quartered lengthwise
Salt and pepper
2 c chicken broth
2 c instant couscous
2 tbsp butter
1/4 c. raisins*(uhhh... someone forgot about these... I wonder if it was on purpose?)

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil and sauté the onions until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add the beef or lamb (chicken if you have it), and cook stirring occasionally until browned., 5-6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, and water. Bring to a rolling boil. Cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add 10 of the saffron threads, the turmeric, ginger, carrots, turnips, chickpeas, and celery. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender, 40-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. With a slotted spoon, transfer the carrots, turnips, and chicken to an ovenproof dish. Cover and place in the oven to keep warm. Add the pumpkin and zucchini to the soup broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the pumpkin is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, add the pumpkin and zucchini to the vegetables in the oven. Discard the parsley and cilantro. Keep the soup broth simmering until ready to serve. In a medium sauce pan, bring the chicken broth, butter, and remaining saffron threads to a boil. Gradually stir in the couscous and remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl add 1/4 c. of the soup broth and the butter. Fluff with a fork.

Mound the couscous on a large serving platter. Top with the cooked vegetables and surround with the meat. Garnish with raisins (which we did not have... hmmm I wonder if someone hates raisins). Serve the soup on the side in a bowl with a ladle (the guests pour additional soup on their servings if they wish).



Perfect Saffron Rice and Chicken Porridge with Saffron and Ginger

This weekend I fixed a quick batch of saffron rice with peas for our lunch.

2. cups long grain rice, rinsed
1/4 c. milk, heated to boil in microwave
10 strands of saffron
1 tsp sea salt
2. cups water
3 tbsp. butter
1 c. frozen sweet peas, defrosted.

Add the saffron to the hot milk, stir well until the milk has a bright yellow color and set aside. Actually, if you don't want to use milk you can use chicken broth or white wine, just bring the liquid to a good heat before adding the strands. But DO NOT boil the strands. Bring the water to boil. Add the rice and salt. Reduce heat to low. Add the butter and the saffron milk. Cook covered over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Fluff the rice when cooked through and add the peas. Serve while warm with lemon-baked chicken breasts.

There's something powerful about saffron. I'm drawn to food that's blessed with the daffodil color of these little dark orange strands. When I eat rice flavored with the best quality saffron (I found some pretty excellent stuff at The Spanish Table at Seattle's Pike market. Also, Trader Joes has fairly decent saffron at a good price), the flavor is not overwhelming, but its essence graces the food with mild warmth. I did a little internet research on saffron. Saffron's use in cooking can be dated back to ancient Babylonia and China. Saffron comes from a species of crocus. The strands that we buy a premium prices are actually the stigma harvested from inside the blossoms according to one of the sources I read it can take up to 85,000 flowers to produce a pound of saffron. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans also prized saffron as a flavoring. I remember reading a recipe for an ancient Roman sweet that called for honey, saffron, dates and nuts.

From my childhood memories, I associate saffron with the chicken porridge my mother made for me (actually she wasn't much of a cook and this was one of the few dishes that she did well. Sorry, Mom). This dish usually appeared when someone was sick or had a cold. The sunny warmth of the saffron is complimented by the warm spice of fresh ginger root. I think I actually made this about two months ago on a particularly cold and dreary day.

Lugau
1 cut up fryer (Kosher or free-range)
4 sq. inches of fresh ginger root, peeled and julienned
1 yellow onion sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic minced
3 tbsp. Canola oil
14 threads of saffron soaked in 1/4 cup of warm chicken broth
10 c. water
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/3 c. fish sauce (patis)
2 Limes cut in wedges
1 c jasmine rice

Chopped scallions to garnish.

Salt and pepper the chicken. In a large frying pan heat up 2 tbsps of oil (medium-high heat). Fry the chicken so that they are browned on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large soup pot add remaining tbsp of oil and heat to medium-high. Add the onions garlic and ginger. Sautéed for a few minutes (3-4). Add the chicken and water. Reduce heat to simmer and add rice. Cook for 1 hour. About 20 minutes before serving, add the saffron and chicken broth. Stir the porridge well. Serve with chopped scallions and lime wedges to garnish.

Keep your bible at home please

Dear Magnolia,

I waited until Sunday to talk about this. Actually this is something that has been eating my nerves for the past two months. I've told you before that I had come to the conclusion that you must walk away from most Evangelicals because engaging in any discussion with them is a futile exercise and a waste of time. I never trusted missionaries, and perhaps this distrust comes from my Filipino heritage. The Catholic missionaries poisoned a number of countries colonialized by Spain. Countries that share a history of colonization by Spain/the Catholic church seem to be the ones that are today rife with poverty, corruption, and over-population.

I don't trust Catholics, and I trust Evangelical Christians even less. I found it disturbing to see that a group had formed an official bible network at work, and they were advertising their gatherings over the intranet news on the front page. A few weeks ago they publicized a gathering at a local bookstore in which a high company official who would share his feelings on dealing with stress in the workplace. Of course, I clicked on the link thinking that this was a secular activity or just a support group for people who were feeling pressure and strain from work. I didn't imagine that it was funded by a faith-related group. I found this to be somewhat deceptive that they would advertise their event under this guise. On Friday afternoon I finally wrote a quick email to the editors asking them if it was wise to openly advertise religiously affiliated groups in the company newsletter. I received a quick reply from someone pointing me to a listing of all the cultural and ethnic groups that had official sponsorship at the company. While there was also an official Arab Cultural Club, I did not see any open promotion of Muslim prayer and faith groups. I wrote back in reply to the message I receive noting that none of the other groups were founded on the basis of religious belief. I also noted that while it is important to consider and respect others faith and beliefs in the spirit of diversity, I did not feel that the workplace was the proper place to promote one's religion.

I received no reply to this last response. I decided not to push this any further. I could forward this to HR and cause a little stink about it, but what would be the point? And I had to ask myself if I cared enough to do so. A few people have commented that I was opening a real can of worms by speaking out, even in a simple e-mail. Regardless of any reservations I may have had in sending those replies, I felt that I couldn't ignore this any longer. Someone else suggested that I start an Atheists group. Again, I figured, what's the point? I don't have the time and energy and I also feel secure enough about my own beliefs that I don't have to openly share them with the people I work with. I also don't feel like I need to find a network of them because I choose my friends and associates based upon other criteria. However, I should think twice about this because I actually don't think I would have much in common with the bible network folks. When I think of bible study, I think of being kicked out of CCD class in the First grade because I kept asking "How come there aren't any dinosaurs in the bible?"

Is this so wrong to feel a little disturbed by these people? They're really very crafty folks, you know. I've told you how I felt about people who preach and flaunt their religious beliefs openly. The seem to wear their faith openly and shamelessly like ill-shapen designs in puffy pen. Lately, they've hired spin doctors and 'hipped' up their publicity campaigns to promote abstinence until marriage (I assume this means that they are promoting marriage as well). Since Bush came into office, I've seen the Evangelicals' rise in visibility. Though they've always been there, I've also seen students at local schools protesting that their freedom of speech is being repressed when they try to display their bibles and hold public prayer groups at school. Yet now it seems that they receive more press time on the air.

I feel a smile and a grimace come over me when I see them arguing for the freedom to express their faith with the assertion that they are being repressed and even hounded for it. Honestly, can they look back at history and say that Christianity didn't play a role in 2000 years of war and oppression that plague political playing fields around the world. In the end, faith is something you should keep in the home and in your place of worship. Faith should be a private matter otherwise.

Here is a simple recipe I'd like to leave for all Evangelical Christians to appreciate: a cracker recipe. You can enjoy this recipe outside of the Passover season as well. By the way, I'm sorry, but Jesus was Jewish, and his disciples were the first Christians. This is something I learned from my Jewish roommate in college..uh, the recipe I mean. I always knew that Jesus was a Jew:

Snack Crackers for Gentiles, Christians, and Evangelists:
Egg Matzoth
Salted Butter
Horseradish Spread

Toast the Matzoth in the oven. Spread the butter and Matzoth and enjoy without pain of ignorance and bigotry.


Yours,
Imogene.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Have another...chick drink

Shady Lady
1 oz Tequilla
1 oz Midori (melon liqueur)
3 oz Grapefruit juice

Shake with ice. Serve on ice and enjoy.

I prefer the drink above over most chick drinks, except for a decent Sidecar.

Friday, February 27, 2004

I am the Anime Superchick- Cherry Blossom 3000

Did you ever notice that everyone now a days is trying so hard to look like an anime character with the spiky-spike hair in multi-colors. I guess I wasn't so original when I had fantasies of rising above my cubical walls with a superhero-school-girl outfit and then raising my power trident to shock the fuck out of the jack-asses in the other aisle.

Tale of Multifunctional Devices

I just had sort of a... dirty thought.. after reading the title. Maybe I should write an X-rated version of the story below? Hmmmmm... Like I've said, you know when we all loose our jobs there won't be much left for us to do besides sell pornography on the internet (there I said it again... pornography). I'm still waiting to see if it shows up in the ad banner.

I'm sure everyone who works in a large corporation has a similar story to tell...

Once upon a time there was an executive high, high up in an IT department who decreed that money should be saved company-wide. That an innovative (it's always innovative) cost-savings solution to be enforced throughout the land.

So he and his subjects decided to draft up a plan to remove 2 of every 3 printers and 1 copy center per floor everywhere in the company/kingdom and replace it with a magical machine that supposedly was a Printer/FAX/Copier all in one. It may have been that the device actually served as a stapler as well. Although this new fangled device was to be a godsend of efficiency and innovation, at least 1/2 of the vassals on every floor would share this printer.

There was never any consideration to the quality of the machines or their actual performance (as the model has many functions, it also has many interactive parts... thus, the more parts, the more of a chance that something will BREAK). The printer itself was very much like one of those magic Chinese puzzle boxes that had secret pieces or drawers. In this case the printers had many handles, drawers, cabinets and apertures. There are many nooks and crannies where obstinate pieces of paper would become lodged and cause jams. Nor did they give the slightest thought to the possibility that so many people using a machine would cause it to break down more frequently. Each day or at least every other day the loyal subjects would discover that they could not receive their printouts. Or they would have to open the computer and examine its many nooks and crannies... trying desperately to follow the enigmatic digital readouts and make sense of the color coded and numbered knobs and latches to get the printer to function once again.

The IT overlord did not encourage his people to look over the documentation and note if the correct drivers that were installed in all of these printers that were distrusted far and wide through the land. Some of these drivers were not compatible with the systems, so many of the hapless vassals who printed certain critical documents would encounter blue screen after blue screen.

If you want to have some numbers as to how much employee time (therefore dollars) has been wasted because of the so-called cost-savings, I’m not sure it would balance out with the projected savings the printer decree was to bring. But cost-savings numbers whether on parchment or in a PowerPoint presentation are as good as divine right when your people are salaried (indentured) and the cost of all administrative tasks is supposed to come out of their working time.

Frederick

Do you remember that Leo Lionni story Frederick? It told the story about the mouse who didn't want to work like the other field mice. Instead, he'd rather sit around and imagine colors or ponder other 'worthless' things that had no practical application in the real world. Am I so stupid and impractical that I should start fantasizing about being a children's book character who doesn't do anything practical?

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Something to chew on... for later

Today we received an email from the department manager telling us that we were $20 million under spent! Duh!... okay, I have to add that that's a big fat fucking...

DUH!



What do you expect when you coerce your staff into foregoing any already budgeted funds for training, software, office supplies, etc.? All for the sake of saving money and looking good! Looking good for whom?!!! As a result many groups in the department did not hire additional contracted heads to take over some of the extra work that's been holding them down. Consultant dollars for new projects were not spent, and the people grew hungrier and more discontent by the work week.

So I was asked today by my manager if we needed anything. Here's my list:

1.) A contractor/admin to take some of the administrative work we've all had to pick up since we dropped our admin head during one of the ''slim-down" sessions.
2.) Two extra servers
3.) Three extra therapy sessions a month for me
4.) A big fat office lounge with couches, plants, and amenities for all the tired employees that work here.
5.) The computers and hardware we've been requesting to do our testing on the labs.
6.) A brand new computer for everyone who's had to contend with the crashes and rebuilds at least every 4 months because our IT group doesn't know how to build them properly or apply security patches effectively. Each time you loose your build you have to re-install all your software and reconfigure all your settings. Although this doesn't seem like such a big deal. Every time I've had to do it it's taken me at least two (8 hour) days to get my laptop environment back to where I want it. I have a number of customized tools and database connections that I created to make my job run much more smoothly on a daily basis.

I just finished the last of the Avoglemono soup, and it was absolutely delicious with some leftover couscous and broccoli. I should credit my ex-boyfriend E for letting me try it. I did some adjustments to his recipe, but I basically picked up the technique of using the whipped egg whites to enhance the creamy and light texture of the soup. A girlfriend of mine noted the other day how odd it was for a nice Asian girl to be so adept at cooking Mediterranean fare. I simply answered, "Hey, my tastes in cuisine are just as varied as my taste in men." "Yeah," she replied. "If that's the case you it's a wonder you don't live on a sole diet of schnitzel and sausages." Pah-leeeez!

I never finished my post on finding the perfect porno

from previous post...
I never detailed the mediocre and sometimes even horrifying aspects of the plot, actors and lack of arousal that ensued while watching Vivid Video's production of Rapunzel, but I thought why should I bore you with the libido nullifying details? At least I felt this way until last night.

We tried watching the video again last night figuring that we might as well get our thrity-something dollars worth, and discovered that we couldn't stop laughing or cringing as we skipped through the scenes. I had to stop and think to myself, are some people so easily aroused? I guess it doesn't take much. I even tried just focusing on 'body parts' and not faces, but I simply couldn't get past how terrible it was. I really couldn't get into it. In fact, I actually think I would enjoy watching Ron Jeremy (in all his glory today) than have to sit through another 30 seconds of this P.O.S. J. seemed even less into than I did. Eventually we had to turn it off to get turned on.

Here are some of the highlights/lowlights:

  • One of the actors had a strange resemblance to the OC's Peter Gallegher. I could not get past the eyebrows.

  • In the scene where Rapunzel is supposedly conceived, (her parents)the couple having sex is using a condom. Wise if you want to practice safe sex. Unwise if you're actually trying to fertilize an egg. At this point

  • In the extra features section there was a girl on girl scene with two 'actresses' sporting flowers affixed to their 'jubblies' as well as other strategically chosen areas of their bodies. The really disturbing part of this was they looked as if they raided the bargain floral bin at Michaels craft store to put the adornments together. I have a really difficult time getting turned on by two women who have large purple daisies stuck on their tits with some spirit gum.


Lesson Learned: Well, I guess this is what I get for purchasing something based solely on the cover, that and assuming that all pornos are basically the same. Next time, I'll do some research.

Now, I wonder what will show up on my gratuitous advertising header, now that I've mentioned PORNO, pornography in two different entries.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Men have become tools of their tools.

-Henry David Thoreau

Hmmm... I wonder if we could give this quote to our good president in hopes that he would botch up it up in a press release on his stand against gay marriages.

More...
As machines get to be more and more like men, men will come to be more like machines.
-Joseph Wood Krutch

I have witnessed evidence of this in the behavior of my co-workers.

Blemishless soul

Dear Ms. Magnolia,

I'm going to confess my sins to you now... the sins of a shamefaced debtor who lives of the fringes of normal society.

When I was a child, I was exposed to some rather fucked up die-hard Catholics. Among many of the other misleading and ridiculous notions they introduced me to was the idea that when we are born our souls are spotless and pure. As we grow (and sin) each sin adds a stain to our otherwise pure-white souls. These staunch Catholics asserted that the only way to revert to a state of purity was to go to confession.

It's a racket really. I've always thought of my credit rating as being the real-world version of my soul. I would be judged solely upon my credit history; however, I couldn't really go to confession. I would have to wait seven years for these transgressions to be erased (sort of) from my credit rating. It seems rather ironic then that I would finally check my credit rating on Ash Wednesday, the first day of the forty day period of atonement in the Catholic Church. I never did this out of fear of what I might find. Oh my god, it's like she's admitting that she has a venereal disease. She has bad credit. Oh my god!

I feel like the Mary Magdalene, who's ready to cry her eyes out on the some lender's dirty feet- I want to be the patron saint of debtors everywhere. Actually, I don't have irresolvable credit. I had a bit of a wrangling with loan payments in my past. I was in denial of not having a job or enough money. I could go on and make excuses about how I would sort of shuffle the loan statements I received under a stack of J Crew Catalogues and Radio Shack flyers. It was wrong. I should have known better, and now I have revealed the ugly nature of my sins as a borrower.

I guess my behavior followed the classic patterns of denial and shame. Eventually, I dealt with the problem of straightening out my finances, when I was confronted with it. However, I continued to feel terribly bad. I never checked my credit rating until recently despite constant warnings from co-workers. You wouldn't understand, I though ruefully to myself. "You're the perfect consumer with spotless credit." My self-perception and self-esteem spiraled. I payed off my other bills and eventually I straightened things out with my loan, but I always felt that I would never outrun my old sins. This financial carelessness, I admit was immature. The denial that created the predicament was a symptom of my low self-esteem at the time. I honestly didn't feel that I could live like good, honestly, and financially responsible people.

Now, I realize that there are those people who would read this confession and laugh at my admission here and think that my behavior was pitiful. Some might even think that I was born without some basic common sense. I hate to admit it now, but I was suffering and still suffer from an almost Seinfeldian neurosis that other people's perception of me (including the 10% who think that they are always on the straight/righteous/correct path- I like to think of them as the ritey-rights or RR's) determined my behavior. Also, there was a part of me that felt that I would never be 'good enough' to qualify as a decent and responsible person. I was a bad girl, who lived on the edge of decency, and this 'bad girl' persona manifested it in all the terrible choices I made: I was a smoker; I often chose to stay in dead-end and even mentally abusive relationships; I didn't pay my student loan on time.

This is really a strange thing for me to admit. Me, who always felt the need to give those ritey-rights the finger for being terribly uptight and judgmental about others, but on the other hand each day I'm realizing that the only person who truly has control over my life is - me. Surprise! I am the only person who can truly choose to love myself enough to make the right decisions from now on.

I feel that breath of relief when I admit that. I just have to wait and battle out the feelings of self-doubt that attack me periodically. So I have to pre-emptively stop the neurotic hump in the rollercoaster ride of my self-perception where I bash myself for not being so savvy in the first place.

Yours,
Imogene.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Happy Mardi Gras!

I brought in two king cakes from the Beaverton Bakery today, and neither of them had a baby in it. Oh well, I guess we will not have Mardi Gras at work this year.

If someone really wanted to allow me to celebrate Fat Tuesday properly they would give me a Hurricane and a Daiquiri to follow.

I read once that holidays such as Mardi Gras were what you called 'topsy turvy' days where the poor could pretend to be rich or at least live their fantasies by dressing in fabulous costumes. This definitely seems to be the case in that old film Orfeu Negro where the characters living in the poverty of the favela spend every cent in their pockets on their Carnival clothes.

Someone pointed out to me today that we really shouldn’t bank on having holiday’s punctuate our daily boredom throughout the course of a year with a special bang. We should be celebrating who we are and what we love every day of the year. Did I just sound like a real new age schnook?

Monday, February 23, 2004

AVGOLEMONO SOUP

Per my earlier cravings here's the version of Avgolemono soup I made tonight:

1 small fryer cut up
1 large yellow onion
10-12 peppercorns
Salt

1/2 c Half and half
3 Egg separated
1 tbsp. Cornstarch
1/2 c Acini Pepe ( or some other small pasta such as orzo or even alphabet letters)
1/2 C. Chopped parsley
1 c Fresh lemon juice
the Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste


Throw your chicken (literally, if you had a bad commute home) in a pot with the onion, peeled and scored. Add the salt and peppercorns. I usually bring the pot to a boil and leave on medium high heat for at least an hour or until the meat starts falling off the bone. Drain the stock and reserve the chicken. Discard the skin and other 'undesirable' parts. Chop the pieces of chicken flesh, dark and white, and set these aside.

Bring the strained stock to boil in a 4 qt. soup pot and add acini pepe. Bring to boil and cook for about 6 minutes.

Stir the half and half and cornstarch together and beat in the egg yolks. Set aside.
Remove the soup form heat, add a small amount of the broth to the egg whites. Add a little more until you've incorporated about 2 c. of broth. At this point you can add the egg white and broth mixture to the soup. Now add milk and egg yolk mixture, stirring carefully. Return the soup to medium heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly for thee to four minutes or until it thickens. Carefully mix in the lemon juice. The soup should have a creamy and light consistency. Remove from the heat. Serve in individual bowls and garnish with lemon zest and parsley. By the way this soup is an amazing remedy for colds. It's been referred to as "Greek Penicillin"

Outsourcing notes

I read a few articles and web posts this weekend:

CIO
http://comment.cio.com/comments/15509.html

eWeek
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,4149,1335063,00.asp

BusinessWeek
http://www.businessweek.com:/print/smallbiz/content/jan2004/sb20040112_0920.htm?sb

An overwhelming number of responses resonated with frustration and fear. A number of readers expressed their anger with un-feeling corporate leaders and high-ranking company officials. Their notes rang clearly with an "them-against-us" tone. Some just seemed puzzled and questioned the whole logic of the "natural law" of economics that seemed to dictate current corporate strategy:

What we, as a nation, are doing, is creating a void in our gross national product by essentially going for the lowest price at every point, except one: managers and executives. They are the only group of people who are guaranteeing their own future, mostly because they are behind the decisions that are made.

I think these sort of questions run through our heads each day. I've recognized in myself that I have a tendency to have reactionary responses to what I perceive to be bad news about the economy due to the current outsourcing trend. Maybe such reactionary sentiments are just a reflection of the times. Also, people tend to have such base reactions to things when they feel frustrated and powerless or they feel that their position of power is threatened in some way. I don't think that they dynamic of tension here differs too much from what the white American establishment felt on during the Civil Rights era. I read some of the messages sent by angry individuals in the IT and other tech related fields and the outright racism in these rants shook me a little. Though I could myself be accused of bearing the same racist sentiment. As I was reading more of these articles and linking to pages further from the main news articles. I felt myself being drawn further into the highly emotional turmoil felt by the posters.

By the time I ran across this website: http://www.geocities.com/wittcourt/. I'd just about had it. I needed to take a break and sort out what I could construe to be facts from they high-powered emotions and opinions that surround the "Outsourcing" question. I don't doubt that the author of this post feels passionate about his assertions; however, all this stuff smacks of jingoistic propaganda. What happened to the days when people could write persuasive arguments and give speeches that influenced the masses. Don't tell me that Television ruined all of this. I'm sick of that claim. Maybe I just happened to run across to many examples of people not framing their arguments efficiently. People whose arguments are colored primarily by their fears.

I do agree that the fear of loosing one's livelihood is a valid one, but it's wrong to become incensed without really objectively looking at what you feel threatened by. I simply want to know the truth. I also don't want to feel that others around me are just taking what's being dealt to them. Aren't they worried? Don't they want to do something or say anything? Don't they care? Are they wiling to do anything about it? Do they even believe that they can make an impact or has suburban living and corporate life softened them? I just get the feeling especially here at this company that there are too many people who are willing to follow orders blindly or under the false optimism that everything will be okay in the long run. I'm sure there are others who don't feel so powerless. I myself have decided that I want to be as informed as possible on all arguments surrounding the matter. I don't want to be swept away by the reactionary tide. Yes, I feel that it's important defend our right to work; however, I think it shouldn't be done without thought and balanced assessment of actual factors as well as careful and skilled framing of ones arguments.

I know that at times it will be difficult for me to divorce my own negative feelings and perceptions about corporate management and the 'logic' of bottom-line economics, but I want to follow the whole debate around outsourcing more carefully as well as vigilantly.


Some interesting additional notes and readings. This list is in progress. I do want to review some of these articles if I have the time.:

1. In a Goggle search for "legist ration against outsourcing" 5 of the first 10 search items were featured on Indian websites.
2. eWeek article attempts to answer some of the general concerns with the outsourcing trend: http://www.eweek.com/print_article/0,3048,a=61405,00.asp
3. "Choose to Compete: How Innovation, Investment and Productivity can grow US Jobs and Ensure American Competitiveness in the 21st Century." This is a statement put out by the CSPP (Computer Systems Policy Project), an organization of CEOs from major technology corporations including Dell,IBM, Motorola, and HP.
4. CRM (Customer Resource Management) article on 4 arguments against outsourcing: http://www.destinationcrm.com/print/default.asp?ArticleID=1039

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Ode to Myzithra

I'm not really sure why I've got an obsession with this cheese. It's pretty salty and actually dry. But ever since I ate my first bowl for Spaghetti with Browned Butter and Myzithra Cheese at the Spaghetti Factory as a child, I think I've always had a softspot for the stuff. You won't ever catch me eating at the Spaghetti Factory again. I can't stand having to wait in line or to eat near tables with screaming children. My general rule about frequenting restaurants is that I don't patronize places where the wait-staff sings Happy Birthday loudly and out of tune. I think I would honestly die If I had to work in such a place. "It's your birthday. Well good for you- who gives a ...." I've since learned how to make my favorite spaghetti dish on my own, so I can enjoy it safely at home, and undisturbed by anyone's birthday.

Myzithra's magic comes from it's nutty flavor. Naturally, this flavor is complimented extremely well with butter (browned) and lemon. I do also have a partiality to the saltier cheeses and Myzithra is by far one of the saltiest I have tasted. In my online search I came across an intriguing recipe. I think that I will try this in the future if I get a chance:
http://home.att.net/~ashburysaubergines/r/r842.htm
Roasted Eggplant and Myzithra Cheese Puree
1-3/4 pounds eggplant
1/2 cup grated Myzithra cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat broiler. Place eggplant on a baking sheet and broil, turning occasionally, until charred all over and softened, about 40 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, peel eggplant and roughly chop, reserving liquid. Sauté garlic in olive oil . Mix in remaining ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yield: 6 servings

Because of all this exposure to Mediterranean cooking, I'm now on a Greek cusine kick as a result of my craving for this salty cheese. I'm on my way to the grocery... so I think I'm going to fix the following:

  • Avgolemono soup with acini pepe and fresh parsley

  • Bourekakia (Cheese Pastries)

  • Oven baked chicken with lemon and oregano

  • Spinach Salad with Feta and Tomatoes

Here's my grocery list:



  • Pasta- Acini Pepe
  • Chicken (one whole broiler)
  • Chicken (cut-up fryer)
  • Eggs
  • White rice
  • Fresh Oregano
  • Myzithra Cheese
  • Feta Cheese
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Filo Dough
  • Spinach (pre-washed)
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Parsley




Yesterday, I put up a version of my recipe for Bourekakia (cheese filo pastries) and I had a computer melt down. I will re-write and put it up here soon. These buttery cheese pastries are the best. You must make a score and share with all your friends.

Added 2/24...
Please note that this version is a bit toned down. If you want your Bourekakia to be salty and, I guess, authentic then use only feta cheese.
Bourekakia
1/2 lb. feta, drained and crumbled
1/2 lb. myzithra, grated
1 lb. ricotta cheese, drained of all liquid
3 eggs
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1 c. butter, melted and clarified
1 package of filo dough sheets, thawed.

Mix the cheeses well in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs in one at a time and combine well. Mix in the flour and white pepper and chopped parsley. Set aside. Work with one package of filo at a time. Lay them flat and cover with a piece of saran wrap and a damp dish cloth. If you've worked with filo before you know that it dries fast when exposed to air. Take all layers of the unfolded package of dough sheets and cut them length-wise into either thirds or halves. I'm pretty lazy so I cut them in halves. So I get bigger pastries. Return the filo under the saran-wrap-and-dish-cloth blanket. Work with only two long rectangular sheets at a time. Brush each pastry sheet lightly with the clarified butter. By the way, if you were thinking of not clarifying the butter, I tried baking them without doing this and they browned and burned faster. Drop a some of the cheese filling onto one end of the sheet (if you are using the filo cut in halves then put a little more than 1 heaping tbsp of the filling). Roll up the pastry as if you were folding a flag. You should end up with a triangular form. If you remember having flag duty in elementary school fold up the buttered filo similar to the way you folded the flag.

Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets (I use canola spray) for 15-20 minutes at 350F degrees or until golden brown. Cool and serve as soon as possible. These taste great with fresh Tzatziki.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

George's Sock puppet

I was watching our President on the television the other day and decided that I could understand Teletubbies better. Then it occurred to me that I might understand what he's saying better if he gave his addresses with the help of a sock puppet named "Dickie."

"Dickie says, 'There are indeed Weapons of Mass Destruction.'"
"Dickie says, 'Recession means that people's incomes, at the employer level, are going down, basically, relative to costs, people are getting laid off. '"

http://www.dubyaspeak.com/

At least I could identify more with the sock puppet.

Inadvertent Advertising

The following ads recently appeared in the header above my blog:
Oprah The Magazine - $15
Online $5 Coupon - Save now Great gift for Mom!

Low Carb Pancakes & Syrup
Low Carbs Now offers high quality low carbohydrate pancakes & syrup.


Wow, just because I put that little rant about Oprah's low carb diet! I have to laugh because I'd actually rather be promoting "Martha!"

Here I'll run a little experiment and see if their shameless text search puts up on my header:

Big Black Dildoes
vegemite
smack
caviar
hookers
self-help
big limousines
hermaphrodite
penis
addiction

Infer what you may from the list above.

Though can I blame them? Did I actually think I was getting something for nothing? If you think about it there's a lot of money to be made by people's narcissistic blathering.

It's a Doggie World

On another note:
J and I put up a website for dear Otto up on dogster.com. Ha ha! Americans sure are crazy about their pets.

http://www.dogster.com/dog_page.php?j=t&i=7124

In search of a sense of style...

Three things I do not want in my next home
1. Wicker
2. Dried floral arrangements (potpourri included)
3. Bamboo
4. Indian cotton tapestries

My roommate is moving out and I need to find a new one. I have decided that provided my economic situation is good or even better in by the end of the year, I will be looking for a condominium (to buy). I have also come to the conclusion that I do not want to have the above four items in my new home (or my current one for that matter) for the following reasons: 1. It feels like my home is some flashback to a 70's peace commune 2. Most of the above mentioned items are dust magnets. Wait, I forgot there's one more thing that I don't want: macramé! Sofia has been a great roommate, but her taste and mine don't exactly match. I don't know if I have a set taste in things. I'd have to explore this idea further to find out.

I do think that each of us have personal likes and we can create an individual style that fits our aesthetic needs comfortably. I'm only guessing but it seems that if we pay attention to the things that bring us joy then we're probably one step in the right direction. Many people today are far too busy to take the time to really examine what their style is, so they opt for looking to experts for help. I can't say that I'm not guilty of doing this.

Maybe I should stop and ask myself a few questions and give some answers:
1. What sort of clothes do you enjoy wearing? Do you have a categorizable style such as 20's, retro 50's, hipster(hope not)

2. When you seek to be in a natural setting where would you be:

a. On a beach in the West Indies
b. In a forest richly draped with foliage such as ferns and ivy
c. In the mountains
d. In a red rocky desert
e. On a Mediterranean island looking down at the azul sea
f. Screw all that. I prefer to be indoors


3. Name three colors that you love (include colors that appear in your wardrobe often.)

4. Describe three non-functional objects that you own that you feel very close to. These are items that you enjoy and have had for a few years. You wouldn't think of ever parting with them.

Friday, February 20, 2004

A funny cover letter

Written by someone else. It's good to see what it's like if you don't have a job. Maybe this will inspire me to look for work elsewhere... I don't want to end up like this even if I'm just venting.

http://www.badsamaritan.com/original/archives/000928.php



To Whom It May Concern:

I am applying for the job of INSERT JOB TITLE HERE. You may review my attached resume to learn all about my vast experience and the unique qualities that make me perfect for the INSERT POSITION TITLE HERE.

Of course, there is surely someone more qualified out there. Someone with more experience.
Maybe there is someone from within your company and you've got a policy to always hire from within. Maybe the Executive Vice President's second cousin is looking for a job and you owe him a favor because he never told anyone about the time he found you drunk and naked in the copy room. Maybe some busty blonde slipped naked pictures of herself into her resume. There are plenty of reasons you probably won’t hire me.

But, before you make that hasty choice, let me tell you something. I haven't had full time work in nearly a year. I am hungry. So very hungry. I will do anything to get this job. Have you always wanted to try out your very own casting couch but were afraid of the sexual harassment lawsuits? Don't worry, touch me wherever you want and I’ll never tell another living soul. I don't care if you are male or female; I want this job. And remember, I haven't had a nine to five since last June, so there will be nothing too kinky for me. Cleveland Steamer? I’ve always considered Cleveland to be the most unappreciated American city.

I want this job.

And if I am lucky enough to get this job, I will do anything to keep it. Have you been embezzling money from the company for years, and they are just about to find out? I'll help you cover it up. And if the shit is really about to hit the fan, I'll help you pin the wrap on someone else, maybe that dork in accounting who scratched the paint on your new Lexus when he opened his car door to quickly in the company parking lot.

I'm a team player. If we are on a business trip and you want me to pull a train on that prostitute you brought up to the hotel and are going to expense to the company, I will. I'm just that kind of guy. And if you need someone to tell your wife you really were working late in the office on Friday night? I'll do it. I'll lie for you. My eternal soul is a small price to pay for a full time job.

I need this job.

Is the company to cheap to hire you a personal assistant? Well, I'll get you coffee and bagels in the morning, and pick up your dry cleaning in the afternoon. I'm not really that good at taking dictation, but if you need me to, I'll learn. You drop your pen behind your desk and you need me to bend over and pick it up? My ass is there for you.

Just think of me as that lonely guy in school, that everyone knew who end up marrying the first woman who agrees to have sex with him. I will be as loyal to you as that guy is to his domineering wife. I will still love you know matter how much you abuse me. And if you dally with other employees, buying them lunch in the office cafeteria, or only CCing them on important emails (and those racist/sexist Spam jokes you like to forward around the office) I won’t mind. I'm not the jealous type.

Please give me this job.

Regards,
Michael G


Thursday, February 19, 2004

What was that word? What exactly does it mean? Why are we using it?

Infrastructure
Pronunciation: 'in-fr&-"str&k-ch&r,
Function: noun
1 : the underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization)
2 : the permanent installations required for military purposes
3 : the system of public works of a country, state, or region; also : the resources (as personnel, buildings, or equipment) required for an activity

From the Merriam Webster dictionary online.

When people start throwing words like "infrastructure" around you know that they've brought out the bucket of Corp-speak tricks. I personally think that it's just another example of corporate b.s. that business groups affix to their name... so that their group appears to actually be useful or important. Perhaps they want to be vague about what their group actually does. When my group refers to itself, they use the word infrastructure in our official title. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me considering the official definition for the word as it is above. Maybe, I'm just missing some obvious point here and I'm too dumb to figure it out. When I read the word 'infrastructure' as part of our name, I assume that we are claiming that we offer tools and services that fit the needs of all other like/or related groups within the company. However, I know that our tools really only apply to a smaller sector or group of individuals (which of course is fine, if we can also assume that the company heavily relies upon this group or groups to bring in their 'bread and butter.').

I've just got a little issue with how my group uses the word "infrastructure" because I personally feel that they're not marketing themselves honestly and clearly. But perhaps I'm just ultra-naive about how things are run here and that the first business in our business is highly concerned with the politics that surrounds us and that we need to be CONSTANTLY sensitive about how we market ourselves or who we rub the wrong way.

I've always felt a little repressed in this group because we've been seen as having a lower rank to other individuals within the company because of what we do as a result we seem constantly be on the defensive about our doings and our project task lists. The economy's in pretty bad shape now, but even before things started to slide we were constantly trying to justify that we were 1.) cost-effective 2.) had value to the company's main goals.

It always felt like we were seen as the ugly and ill-favored step child. I began to see other signs that this group was perhaps not the best place to be, such as a number of sinecures who'd found there place in the structure and were so entrenched that they spent much of their time and energy defending their existence in the group. In fact, there are a number of people here who have been in the same role for at least 8 or 10 years, maybe more. It seems to me that if you are working for a group that is built to succeed and move forward most people in the group would stay in a single role for no more that say 2 or 3 years. However, I'd noticed that there was an overwhelming number of these positions that had been around for almost a decade. I suddenly became aware that we were also surrounded by a bureaucracy built up around the 'infrastructure' like tartar on bad teeth. Maybe all of the things I've just describe are the earmarks of a dysfunctional business group. I'm not really sure. After all, I'm not very savvy in all of these things. I'm just paid to do my job.

(I'm trying to make an effort to use the new words I learn each day.)
si·ne·cure : an office or position that requires little or no work and that usually provides an income

Bad English

If I have to write another e-mail back to someone who doesn't know how to use pronouns or plurals properly, I am going to loose command of my own language! Okay, you can judge me as a racist, and a racist against my own ethnic group, no less. I'm trying very hard to understand and be patient with some people lack of facility with English. Maybe I should actually take Mandarin or Korean so I can understand how difficult it is to communicate in another language that is so far from my own... but I just want to be around others who will help me get better at writing- not worse! (I realize that this is more of a rant and I will have to return to this to piece out my thoughts in a more coherent manner).

I am responsible for publishing a newsletter for our group... and I'll be damned if I have to release something to 10,000 people within the company if it is unintelligible and poorly crafted. However, when I go back and forth with certain people in my group who don't have a good command of the language... I usually spend a day or two sending email after email back with revisions. They send their own revisions back which usually make the content more unclear or their grammar is so poor that I can't justify actually releasing to the public. I'm no grammar and style maven myself, but I do have somewhat of an understanding of what is clear and readable and what is not. I am so tempted to cut and paste the original text that was given to me here just to demonstrate how bad it is.

And here's another problem as well... the people who write these submissions are usually Asian males who tend to be smug and reticent about having to explain themselves in the first place. I almost get the feeling that they assume that we should understand their words and should not question them. This is what happens when your parents unreasonably deify you and give you treatment that is far above what your female siblings receive. I have never understood that about Asian cultures! How they could do this? Maybe this is why many of the Taiwanese and Chinese women I have met tend to raise their voices when they want to get something done. (This is how they speak when they want to be heard. Please bear in mind that I'm still ranting here).

My father is a pretty textbook example of an Asian male who thinks that the world revolves around him, and my mother left him because of he held this view. Apparently living with someone who could not take her ideas and feelings into consideration was no longer acceptable. I look at the few of the Asian men I work with somewhat closely, and I see many similarities in their behavior and attitudes to my father's. They often don't want to be bothered by what others think and they are extremely focus on their goals. More, they don't feel like they have to document their work for the future reference.

Look, I'm not saying that all Asian men are like that and that men of other ethnic backgrounds aren't capable of being insensitive and aren't unreasonably self-assured about their assertions. I have friends (Asian men) who are considerate, reasonable people who know how to listen to others. They were not necessarily raised in this country. However, I do think that some Asians raise their sons as if they were gods and not mortals. I feel the same way about them as I do about the parents who let their child scream in line at K-mart. I think to myself, "We're all building the world- one asshole at a time."

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

McccyD's New Ditty

McDonalds…

We’re Lovin it…
I eat it every day…

Now I’ve got
diabetes Type A…

I can’t fit in my pants,
No way..

I’ve got a big
Corn-fed… Bootay!

I’m lovin it…

Written in response to this site:
http://i-am-asian.com/

Tupperware anyone or how about some Kleenex?

Hello, I normally don't want to write about this, uh, in public, but it's just the release of Mel Gibson's new movie is making me feel a bit uneasy. I don't have a problem with people's religious backgrounds or their conviction in their faith. Faith is a good thing to have in hard times; however, in the past I have been invited (unwittingly most of the time) to a number of church gatherings held by evangelicals, and each time I feel like I'm being invited to some pyramid scam meeting and they're trying to sell me a bunch of crap that I don't want.

I understand who Jesus is and I respect his teachings just as I admire those of Buddha and Mohammed, but I dread having to be around thousands of the devout who are crying and ranting about me. Several years ago I was invited to this "youth group" meeting by someone. Of course it ended up being a revival. There were people crying all around me. People getting up in front of a large crowd 'testifying.' The person who invited me urged me to get up there and talk about my relationship with her brother. I got up and left. I was raised Catholic. Normally we go into a quiet little closet and relate our problems to some old repressed gay guy who can't possibly empathize with what's going on in our lives. If she thought I was going to start blubbering with these idiots she was on a long trip to Neptune.

I'm really not an alcoholic

My job is just pushing me in that direction.

You remember Dorothy Parker? Of course you do. I read once about how the work day was like for her and her peers. Leaving for a long lunch and coming back so inebriated that they had to leave work early was not uncommon for them. So I don't feel so bad. I usually have to wait until I get home to swig. It's company policy. Which makes some sense. I don't think I would it would be right to have drunk developers working on code.

Does all of Brazil

have a blog? I can't understand Portuguese (that well). Why do many of them have their title in English. So that we dumb-english-only speaking and reading Americans will click on their blog link and not be able to read their site. Sorry, I'm such a crank this morning. I had to get up a little early and it looks like my plan to make my morning run a little more smoothly isn't working.

I'm sitting here waiting for my "work-at-home" system to reboot for the 2nd time. I wanted to send several copies to the printer before I left the house so they'd be waiting there for me when I got there. A simple concept, no? Ah, here it's up again. It might only take me 5 minutes to open the document. I should have just dove into traffic as soon as I woke up.

Here's what I will fantasize about all day until I return (I think I'll need at least two).

Bermudan Cocktail
1 oz. gin
1/2 oz. grenadine
1/2 oz. apricot brandy
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2 dashes of grenadine

Shake with cracked ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

There's something about me that you should know about...I've got a little bit of an issue when it comes to my pride. One some days I won't always admit that I'm wrong, then on others I feel like I'm ready to claim that everything is my fault. Maybe I don't have a really good barometer for knowing exactly when I should be taking credit for what I do right/wrong. Maybe there are voices running like a arguing chorus in my head (I fully recognize that these are figurative voices). Usually as you may have noticed in some of the previous dialogue to myself there was only one other voice other than my own and this was the embodiment of my guilt. Lately, other voices have come into play.

to be continued... hopefully.

Shiny little homes

I had to drive past that same row of houses I do each day, and this morning I thought as I passed by their taupe colored facades that people are often willing to avoid the truth in order to save their own skins. This is the case even if avoiding that truth causes to loose their skins (jobs) in the long run.

I'm sitting at home...

Took the dog out for a walk. Waiting until 9:00 AM because I don't want to get in the car before Martha Stewart Living starts. That's terrible isn't it. I don't have to be at work until 9:30. Why be so ambitious?

Three day weekends re-energize me and I find the time to do the things that make me feel alive again, now the fun is over and I have to go back to work. I lay in bed for at least and hour last night, my stomach churning. I found it difficult to drift away, instead I lay there thinking or what people at work would call prepping. I feel like it's more or less torture akin to adorning yourself with paper cuts and squeezing lemon juice all over them.

On top of this, they've insisted that I get a virtual set up in my home so that I can key into work when I need to. I the push for this all started after the big "January" snow when I refused to haul my ass into work because getting over the hills would have been a major pain in the butt. Aye... I need to get ready to go here. One thing... at least it's Tuesday - therapy appointment!

Monday, February 16, 2004

Good God! It's Bamboo!

I was watching that reality home improvement show on television the other day, Surprise by Design and I decided that I definitely WOULD NOT allow these people in my house. Of course you know the premise of the whole show: Someone calls in with a sob story, say, for instance, they had cancer and their grandma's sister was run over by an ice cream truck (you get the picture). If the story's good enough then these folks come into their house to work their majique! "Surprise! Your living room looks like Gilligan's Island!"

Though I'd like to send it a letter to the Surprise by Design people so they could re-do my home and it would sound something like this:

Dear Surprise by Design:

I wanted to fix our home for my husband because he stood by me while I was having my breast implant. You see I was born with one breast slightly smaller than the other one- yeah. So I needed to have my other one- how would you call it? Inflated? Well actually I had them both done bigger. Well one was slightly bigger than the other one. I figured "What the heck, I might as well have them both done." Well, now they're the same size. They're just- (pause) bigger. In any case he was a big support. I mean he was a big help. I would have never made it through it without him.

Sincerely Ima Hoagg

Spaghetti French Toast with Non Kosher Vegetables

Just made this tonight. The pepper bacon rules! Normally you would use pancetta, but we're in America, baby! You need no salt as the cheese and bacon pretty much add the salt. Drink copious amounts of red wine and listen to luxuriamusic.com while cooking and eating. By the way this feeds about 4-6 people (depending on how big they are).

10 slices of pepper bacon, julliened
3 cloves of garlic minced
4 eggs
1/2 c. half and half
1 c. grated myzithra cheese
1/2 c. pecorino romano
1 lb. thick spaghetti
1/2 c. fresh parsley chopped


Vegetables-
1 red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
2 small zucchini sliced the same
2 cloves of garlic minced

Fry the bacon in a pan until crisp drain and reserve the grease. As you're cooking the vegetables, start the pasta on boil. You know how to do that don't you? If you don't read the damn package. Leave a little grease in the pan with some pepper and fry up the two cloves of garlic. Add the red bell pepper and cook over medium heat until tender (4-5 min). Add the zucchini and cook only slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside on the plate. The vegetables will continue to cook as the cool.

Now for the carbonara! Beat the eggs and add half and half. Beat it some more. Set aside. Remove the pasta from the stove once it's al dente. Cool with cold water and drain well. Take some of the reserved bacon grease (I'd say about 2 tbsp) and fry up 2 cloves of minced garlic. Then add the spaghetti over medium high heat to get it pretty hot... don't burn anything. Toss the pasta and as you're tossin (don't be so dirty-minded!) add the egg mixture in a light stream. Keep tossin' (smile) until you've mixed most of the egg mixture. Add the grated cheese and parsley. Remove from heat and serve with the vegetables. ENJOY-ENJOY!

Need a dessert? Try a plate of sliced oranges, pistachios and medjool dates and maybe a piece or two of Italian nougat (torrone) with almonds?

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Just desserts or just a waste of time?

I remember being a little younger and actually believing that having some skill or prowess in the kitchen might make me more attractive to men. Can you believe that I had such an antediluvian notion? I'm a little redfaced and I'm very embarrassed to actually admit it, but at least I'm doing so. I've seen a number of young women who convince themselves that they don't believe in the trappings of early modern values and yet they drag themselves over figurative coals because they don't have a boyfriend or in the case of many people my age, because they aren't married yet.

I don't want to get into any debates on gender archetypes and how we should or shouldn't smash them. I was just going to explain a ridiculous incident in which I spent a great deal of my time... cooking to impress a guy (this was several years ago) and it all ended up being a waste of time.

Instead I'll share a little fop I made after a break up. I had been seeing this guy for about two and a half years. We broke up. Again, I won't go into the embarrassing details or rationalize why it was such a bad idea to date him in the first place- for two and a half years (oops). The particular group of common friends we had often held a number of barbeques and parties. Again, I won't go into why it is a bad idea to share a common group of friends with someone after a break up. DUH. On one particular event, in late spring and early summer we'd all been invited to someone's house for the first cookout of the year. I decided that I would make a dessert to put all other desserts to shame. It took about a eight hours to cook and construct a french fruit tart with five different fruit and a creme anglais filling and hazelnut butter crust. I painstakingly dipped each piece of fruit in a kirshwasser apricot glaze. I spent all this time making the darned thing as a show off piece and the bastard never showed up to the party.

I've reconstructed the recipe and simplified it... because after all who has the time to spend to make someone envious. Especially when they suffer from anosmia of the heart and head.

Fruit Tart


Glazed Fruit
Strawberries, halved
Kiwis, sliced
Mandarin oranges
Blueberries
1 container of apricot jelly
1 tsp. framboise (raspberry liquor)

Tart crust
From Baking911.com. I added the lemon zest.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. lemon zest (I added this)

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour, salt and lemon zest, beat until just coming together but still crumbly. Divide dough in half. Use immediately, or wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Roll dough out and place in a tart pan. Shape the tart and cover with foil. Place pie-weights (I usually use kidney beans) in the tart shell and pre-bake it (in a 375 degree oven) for 25 minutes with the weights and foil. Remove from the oven and remove foil and weights. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool.

Creme Anglais (Got this recipe from all recipes.com, but I refuse to link to that page because viewers are plagued with pop ups)
1 cup half-and-half cream
1/2 cup white sugar,
divided 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine half-and-half, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla bean. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. When cream mixture comes just to a boil, remove from heat and remove vanilla bean. Whisk a small amount of hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, then pour egg yolk mixture into remaining hot cream and whisk until smooth. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring, until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Let the custard cool. Then spoon into the tart crust and spread evenly. Arrange the fruit on top of the custard as you please. If you'd like you can even arrange them to spell out a particularly rude message. If I'd thought of this at the moment, I would have done it even though it may have been disconcerting to a few guests.

In a small saucepan melt the jelly on low heat and add the framboise. Combine well and let cool slightly. Carefully and sparingly spoon the glaze over the fruit. Screw dipping each piece one by one.

Writing this has brought back that scene from Heartburn with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. She's just discovered that her husband's been cheating on her and she goes through all the trouble to make a keylime pie just to pie his face before she makes her final exit. And I'm reminded that exacting revenge on anyone may be worthwhile for a few moments, but as lazy as I've become with age, I really don't want to bother making the effort anymore.


Kirshwasser (Kirsch´was`ser)
n. 1. An alcoholic liquor, obtained by distilling the fermented juice of the small black cherry.

Anosmia (A´nos`mia)
anosmia is the absence of the sense of smell. It can be partial or complete, and can be a result of an injury, illness, or can be congenital. People with a normal sense of smell confuse the sensations given to them by their tongue (sweet, salty, etc.) with those they detect using their nose. So, people with anosmia also have a limited sense of what many people would regard as taste.

Aguesia (A-gue-sia)
Inability to taste

Presidents Day Fun... Spank the Monkey!!

http://www.spankbush.com/

Saturday, February 14, 2004

I'm very happy...

in the relationship that I'm currently in, so you can't accuse me of being a jaded and slightly bitter single woman when I say, "Valentines Day is a crock of shit." I don't need to be bathed in pink and red hearts or be courted with boxes of Godiva chocolates. Ten years ago, I came to the conlusion that Valentines Day really doesn't serve to make anyone happy except for the corporations and industries that profit from the sale of all the crap that is marketed for this holiday. I noticed that many people on the road to day, and in the stores, the grocery and bakeries seemed harried and pressured to purchase gift items, foods, chocolates, heart-shaped diamond pendants, power tools, large hams, or patio furniture for their loved ones. I shouldn't gripe so much because after all spending is a good thing in a healthy economy, but who are we kidding here?

Too many people are suffering the consequences of bad budgeting and over-spending. Holidays that encourage us to spend money don't help us one bit. For instance, Christmas isn't just Jesus' birthday anymore, it all about feeling pressured to buy a lot of things for your family and kids. You have to make sure your children don't feel like pariahs when they return to school after the Christmas break and they have to listen to other children brag about what their parents bought for them. Too many people live under the assumption that you should bust your credit card out for this one occasion and then pay for during the following year. I believe that Valentine's day and other similar holidays are just a scaled down version of Christmas. Miniature spending flurries. Now Mother and Father's Days are legitimate holidays because (if you love and respect your parents) you should give them their due or at least tell them that you remember them. However, I don't see too many people going and taking out the cash for a home entertainment system for their folks.

For me, if I want to celebrate my appreciation for someone it comes in the form of good food. Of course J helped in coming up with the menu and we ended up cooking together. It's nice to work in a team that way you can take turns cleaning up the dishes as you go along hence avoiding that huge pile of dishes and pans that stacks up when you're done.

Dinner menu for February 14th


Notes:
Not sure I enjoyed the acidic tartness of the pancetta and onion dressing. Next time I would substitute rice vinegar for the regular white vinegar. I was forgetful and roasted the entire head of garlic instead of saving a portion for the minced garlic for the beurre blanc. So I used about six cloves of roasted garlic instead. The result was a much milder and more subtle hint of garlic in the sauce for the scallops, and I think it didn't compete too much with the great flavor of the saffron.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Time to examine my head... time to be swimming with sharks

I'm submitting an application for another job... here. If I get it will mean a pay raise, but I don't know what working here will do to my sanity. I don't know what I'm doing. I think last night after talking to a friend of my I developed this acute fear that I would not able to support myself. These things start to wear on you when you pass the 30 mark, and although I did consider that I could 'blow' my way to the top (of some pyramid- not necessarily here since I wouldn't exactly be able to see the faces of whom ever I was blowing over their corpulent stomachs) , I don't think I have the nerve to do so.

Yesterday, I applied for a training developer position at Hollywood Video. Then later I discovered that Hollywood was run prominently by Mormons. Hmmmm... don't they have stock in caffeinated soft-drink companies as well? The point is although I'm not feeling really up beat about working in a corporate environment the reality is there are very few jobs available in this area. Aye, there it is again that terribly practical side of myself who's willing to put aside the silly and creative side of myself in order to assimilate, survive, and prosper.

Really harsh economic times will lie ahead for the NW. We've been living high on an economy fed by the technology markets and now that employment is making it's way overseas. Will we undergo a true 'Depression' as in the 1930's? Will there be seas of jobless folks living on the dole and living so frugally. I used to wait tables on elderly Depression survivors in Chicago. They'd often wander in the restaurant, always addled and would insist on me weighing their piece of cake to make sure they got the biggest serving. I discovered that the leaving of the quarter tip was not a cliché. I was lucky if I got a quarter from these folks. The low economic times and hardships shaped their behavior and even their outlook for the rest of their lives. They made sacrifices and perhaps worked even harder at jobs that were far worse. Many didn't have the opportunities for economic freedom, many more didn't have the career avenues open when you have an education. Maybe I'm unfairly stereotyping that generation. Perhaps when you get older you just become acutely aware of how much money you have left you're just trying to stretch it out as much as possible before you die.

I'm not really sure that I'd even get the position that I'm applying for. I'm just applying to it out of fear. Am I being a hypocrite and succumbing to my fears? If I took that job I wouldn't have as much time to do the things that make me happy namely work on my writing and my humor. But I have to eat, make my loan payments (though they are nearly paid off). The simple answer would be: "I cannot make any money with what I love. So I will have to choose the job that makes me feel soulless and flat." The folks here would argue that I could take the job and just schedule in time for my hobbies. That's a myth! When you work for companies like this one YOUR JOB BECOMES YOUR LIFE. They say that work-life balance is possible. You just have to be extremely disciplined. I can't survive being anally tied to my PDA and Microsoft Project. I guess I don't have what it takes to be successful in this world.

So, maybe it's not a good idea to look for work here. I'm just making the same sort of decisions and compromises to my life I had to make when I was dating Sam. I remember what Buddy Ackerman said in "Swimming with Sharks." and I ask

, "What is it you really want?"

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I've been reading some of the work from the other bloglodytes. There's a lot of vitriol out there, and it makes me conscious of my own bitching. People say that you want to get any better at something you should always seek the company of people who are a couple steps ahead of you. I think the opposite is true if you don't want to get any worse than you are. A lesson from a bad example is worth avoiding a hundred mistakes.

Changes

I have been reflected over events in my life up to this point. I don't think I've come across any major breakthroughs; however, I have decided that if we don't attempt to see if we need to change every now and then and we keep these needs held in check, change comes around with a vengeance. Last year I decided that I would go through a number of changes.

Namely, letting go of the man I had been seeing for the past five years.

I woke up one morning and found that the creases between my thumb and forefinger were cracked and bleeding. The eczema had actually spread to other parts of my body as well: my elbows, legs, underarms, and my eyelids. It would only be a matter of time before it began to spread in patches on my face. I knew that this condition would flare up when I was under stress and namely when the stress came from the person I was dating. I remember constantly getting this feeling that the relationship was doomed for failure and eventually it would go down like a burning piece of debris falling into the atmosphere and I would erupt into flames along with it. Like many women (or men) I felt that I would go down with the relationship until it was finally spiraled into it's doom. Nice, used reference, Imogene. Now I've got that terrible Dido song about "...going down with 'her' ship" in my head, and I think "For crying out loud get over him already. YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME. Obviously it hasn't occurred to you yet that time is not so expendable a resource."

For any woman who considers staying in an abusive relationship (and this goes for men too) because they feel that they will not find anyone better, I would warn them about slipping into the abyss of self-torment and of nights spent being comforted by bottles of white wine and packs of American Spirits, but what good will that do for most people. They will choose their own paths regardless of the red lights and signals they receive. There are a few who have the foresight to see how much they can gain by saying no. They might actually see what damage an unhealthy partnership can do to them. Unfortunately, I was a little slow to learn this.

That morning I looked at my hands and examined the crust developing in the recess of my eyelid and I decided that it was time to move on. I won’t really go into why the relationship was wrong or how it ended. I now think it's pointless to dwell upon these things. The best you can do to deal with that is realize that nothing is ever a ‘sure thing,’ while at the same time you should hold yourself up to expect the highest standards and the best in a partner (if a partnership is actually what you’re actually looking for). If you hold yourself in some esteem, love yourself, take care of yourself, you’ll probably attract the right kind of person... If that's what you truly want in the end.

What I can do in an hour:

I can look up someone’s training history, search through the address book for managers for a certain department or group, find out the employee codes for a handful of folks, enter a dozen names into a database, schedule three classes using an outlook form for each one, skim over the homepage of the company intranet news, eat a protein bar, make arrangements for lunch, answer three questions verbally, answer four e-mails, and two phone calls.

What I can do in the next hour and a half:

Install the latest updates and symbols on MS Windows XP(TM), take apart a computer and attach and additional drive, prep the drives for duplication, answer three e-mails, sit in a teleconference meeting, participate when I am needed, run indicators or stats for my weekly report, send out registration notices with updated links (for automatic registration), write a 250 word newsletter snippet, add a quick entry in this blog (for my sanity), flip a co-worker off (playfully), update a website with a newly opened class, write my weekly status report and send it off.

My god, it took a whole hour and a half. I must be wasting precious company time. I'm so sorry.


Damn, I need to go work out.

Is it so inconceivable that I feel like I'm decaying with each day I spend here.... Shit, my supervisor keeps on poking her head in this cubicle. The people I work with are kind folks and in many ways they are very different from the normal sorts who work here. Perhaps they are able to relate to the world and people around them with some humor and a measure of compassion. I don't think I would have stayed in this job as long as I have if it were not for them. My supervisor, she's a little anal retentive. She reminds me of Rabbit from the A.A. Milne stories. She pops in my cube every now and then to ask if I'd covered some detail that was irking her like a burr in her side. So, yes, she is a bit of a micromanager and a fidgeter and her proclivity for double-checking things does get on my nerves, but I did realize after working at this group for some time that much of her neurotic behavior comes from above- from the manager above her who is far worse at the nitpicking game.

It often occurs to me, as you may have read, that I'm being unreasonable, but I walk into work each day my steps becoming more leaden with each one I take up the stairs to our office. I sat in the cafeteria the other day and looked at the basketball courts outside past the chain-link fences. I viewed the outline of the whole campus with its long flat, boxy buildings connected to each other in a ugly circuit. It didn't occur to me until then that from the freeway this place must look like a state institution and I'm not talking about one with Doric columns on the front.

There are times when I sit in this cubicle and feel tears welling in my eyes. I have to turn my chair so I face the cubicle wall and I feign looking over some Flash manual or course documents. I ask myself, what's wrong with you? Maybe you just drank too much soy dream? Maybe you should up your therapy visits to 2X a week? (Maybe this would make you quit your job sooner). Maybe you're just wrangling with the monthly visitor?

Sarah Jessica Parker

Through it's entire run, I have only seen one complete episode of "Sex in the City." The other night I had a dream that I was on the show and that the entire cast got herpes... except for me. No- seriously! I don't really have anything bad to say about this show other than I can't relate to any of the characters... though a good friend of mine, Ms. Lil, says I bear a resemblance to the crazy-older-horny friend played by the sock-girl from the Porky's movie.

I remember Sarah J.P. when she was a "Square Peg." She reminded me of me and my nerdy-self in junior high. I wasn't allowed to wear contacts until high-school. Wow was she awkward looking (and me too).

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh......!@&$!!

Working in a cubicle environment can be quite challenging... ESPECIALLY WHEN PEOPLE WON'T SHUT THE FUCK UP AROUND YOU!!.... in the beginning I was being nice about this... asking people to keep their voices down politely and then eventually just buying a pair of really good headsets so I could filter out the sounds with my music.

My friend down the aisle is particularly plagued by the loud verbal interaction that occurs in the hallway as well as those people who are trying to make phone calls away from the prying ears of their group by using the hallway phone for private calls. He's come up with quite a creative solution for dealing with these loud interlopers. Each time a conversation starts right outside his cube, he'll just sit on a whoopie cushion. I think it's a brilliant idea. He came up with it after I noted my urge to suddenly make loud flatulent noises in my cubicle at random times... just to see how other people would react.

Originally he had made a sign that said: How about a nice cup of joe and shut up while your at it. Don't hold conversations in the hallway. I had suggested (yes, me) that he tone the sign down a bit. So I made a sign that would sort of appeal to the generic office persona. "Please BEEEE QUIET. Don't hold your conversations in the hallway." (I put a stupid corny Microsoft Clipart Bee on the bottom). What Cheese!

Our group would solve this entire problem (distractions from conversational noise) by setting up a public lounge area for people to relax and release some steam, and oh my god- socialize...but I don't think that they would smile upon such a suggestion. Not terribly good for production... look at those people in the 3rd world, they don't need to talk or socialize... powerhouses of work and productivity those people!

Split pea soup and "9 to 5"

The other night my roommate and I watched "9 to 5" on the movie channel. Boy, did I love this film and still do... This is one of those junky, guilty-pleasure movies that I have to watch everytime it comes on. I just adore Dolly Parton. It was she who said, "It takes a lot of money to look cheap." I love that quote. So as we watched Dolly, Lilly and Jane, I put a pot of split pea soup on ths stove.

I've been trying to keep a tighter budget so I can get a job where I will only have to work "9 to 5" so I've been opting for some cheaper menu options. This was pretty darn cheap since I used the old dried peas that had been sitting in our cupboard for the past two years. Living on soup is always a good way to save bucks. I don't have an exact recipe for this soup. I just estimate as I'm going along. The secret to a good split pea soup is a quality hamhock. You can get a cheap hock from Honey Baked Ham (stores) or your local butcher shop (do these still exist?). When I was little, my father would sometimes order a Virginia ham at Christmas time. When I was finally allowed to cook I would take the leftover ham bone and use it to make the best soup ever, but I had to watch the salt since Virginia hams are some of the saltiest around.

9-5 Split Pea Soup
** 2 lb packages Split green peas (yellow works too)
**1 ham hock
**3 yellow onions, chopped
**3 large carrots, sliced
**2 quarts organic chicken broth
**Salt
**Pepper
**2 tbsp canola oil
**a damn big pot

Rinse and soak the peas overnight. Before cooking drain & rinse them again.In the soup pot, throw the onions with the canola oil and cook until their slightly carmelized. Add salt and pepper (not too much salt because there's plenty in the chicken broth and the ham). Add the broth, the hock and bring to boil. Add the peas and bring to a boil again. Reduce to medium low heat and simmer stirring occasionally to make sure that the soup isn't burning on the bottom of the pot. Cook uncovered for 1 hour. Add the carrots. Cook for another hour or until peas are fully cooked. Serve with grated sharp cheddar and flatbread crackers. Yummy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Smoking

You know the day didn't go the way you wanted it do when the first thing you want as you walk out the door is a big fat cigarette. I've been pretty good about diverting my urge to smoke... even when I've been stressed out.

Cigarettes are such a poor release. When I was a full-time smoker the cigarette always seemed to be a 'friend.' People bothering you? Hate life? Too stressed-out? Have some private time with your friend the cigarette. Guaranteed to soothe your frayed nerves the cigarette calms you and helps you deal with your unpleasant moments. For one, you have an excuse to slip away and avoid what is ever brothering you and often times while you're smoking you're alone or with other people who are just as miserable as you.

I don't chide people who are smoking, because once in a while I will have one socially now. I don't look down on them for using the cigarette for whatever. I do feel that I know exactly why and how I used smoking to avoid some of my problems and for me that's invaluable.

All I wanted today was to run across at least five people who could tell me that they had a favorite poem and why. Oy, this is so impractical! And most people here would frown upon this as being completely unecessary to living. Maybe for them it is. There is no value in being able to recount the first moments when you understood why you were alone. Or how on some days the aroma of sunlight on people's clothing made you think of being in the first grade and laying languidly with your head on the desk while the teacher read the after-lunch story. Why would we want to know anything like that? I had a lot of work to do on this lab, working on these things makes me feel empty. People tell me I should be proud because I work as part of a team that's developing this training for the first time. Me, I just feel bad because my supervisor ask to review my copy because she notices that there are a few more mistakes... maybe there are. I just end up feeling bad because I can't do well at even the most menial things I do at work because I don't enjoy them.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Sunday Breakfast

On request I'm writing down recipes I experiment with. I was told that I should quit my job and open up a breakfast place. This was this Sunday's breakfast.

*Lemon pancakes
*Sour Cream/Applesauce
*Turkey Sausage Patties


Lemon Pancakes
I fiddled around with a number of different versions until I got this one the way I liked it. The pancakes have a rich but chewy texture. It's best served with powdered sugar and lemon.
-1 1lb, container of lowfat cottage cheese
-2 large eggs
-1/2 c. milk
-zest of 1 lemon
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 c. flour
-3 tbsp. sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt
-unsalted butter

Blend the cheese eggs and milk in a blender until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a mixing bowl and add the dry ingredients. In a buttered frying pan on medium high heat pour the batter in dollar-sized amounts. Watch the pancakes to prevent scorching. Turn each pancake over after about 2-3 minutes. Cook on the other sides for the same amount of time. These take a little longer to cook than regular pancakes and the cooking time can vary with your range. Do make sure that the pan is adequately greased with a little butter. Keep pancakes warm until ready to serve in a 170 degree oven on an oven safe plate. Serve with powdered sugar/lemon juice glaze and applesauce and sour cream on the side.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Screw Oprah's NO WHITE diet...Buy less, eat less and move more.

No white diet? It's not what you think. I was driving home from work. The 405 ramp from 26 was blocked off so I had to take a detour downtown. I won't listen to most radio so I had it tuned to channel 6 radio. Extra was doing a feature on Oprah's new diet. I'm not sure what supernatural powers smiled upon Oprah when she was born, but the American people basically take Oprah's words as if they came from the mouth of the Almighty Himself/Herself. Whole Foods received a big boost in business with Ms. Oprah's episode on 'healthy foods' which featured the Organic supermarket. And if you need more proof of the Power of Oprah you only have to witness sales of books that were featured on her book club. Intentionally or not, she is the pied piper of consumers.

Now Oprah has had at least a dozen or more diets (that we know of) and whatever she does the American public usually follows in suite. I have to wonder whether switching from diet to diet and dramatically changing your intake and eating habits can be healthy for your body. It seems to me that riding the diet roller coaster is just another form of physical self-abuse. Now Oprah's championing yet another no-carb/low-carb diet which maintains that white food (bread and rice) are taboo! I ate a half a pound of pasta with cheese (see the orzo recipe from Wednesday, February 04, 2004) today just to commemorate her refusal to eat carbs. If Oprah's not eating them, someone else needs to. Albeit, I had to walk that pasta off. I wonder what the Olive Garden restaurant chain is going to do now. I'd be quite impressed if they could follow Applebee's example and come up with a low-carb menu?

Wandering through the aisles at Trader Joes I did see packages of low carb pasta, low carb tortilla chips, low carb bread (no, it's not an oxymoron) and low carb snacks (essentially fried low carb pasta with a great deal of salt to disguise their unpalatable nature). Most of these foods are literally just 'filler.' High in fiber, they satisfy the need to insert food in our mouths and fill our bellies, but judging from the sample of the low-carb bread, most of these items taste about as good as cakes made from sawdust and applesauce. I simply don't understand why people would rather fill up on tasteless food. It seems like more of a punishment than an option for better living.

In the end, diet fads are diet fads... though this one seems BIG. Forget Oprah when you see that countless suburban mega-chains of suburban family restaurants are advertising carb cutting menu choices. Even the "Burger King" has a new low carb Whopper. In the long run, there may be an increase in cases of arterial sclerosis, and kidney disease. The dieter's kidneys go into overdrive as they attempt to rid the body of the excess protein. In some cases if the diet is followed over an extended period of time, the increased intake of protein can result in Calcium loss and subsequently osteoporosis.

I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that there's something so completely absurd about the whole concept of most diet fads. Let's face it, America. All you need do to stay thin is EAT LESS and MOVE MORE. There are too many diets out there that claim to melt your ass away without requiring you to actually get up off of it.

And through all of the hyper marketing of FAT-OFF fads and the race to make ourselves leaner it seems that people have forgotten one simple truth: you eat too much - you get fat. How many ways can I say this?

Eatus morus and your butt will be bigus.
You are what you eat.
SUPERSIZE = FAT ASS.



STOP SHOVING TOO MUCH FUCKING FOOD IN YOUR FACE!!!!

Stop pushing the flatbeds full of supersized chip bags, potato salad, pot stickers, hot pockets, wiener wraps, fruit pies, Kudos bars, blue fruit leather, and Hershey’s nuggets from the cost-savings value clubs. Stop ordering that extra super-sized fries or the genetically altered baked potato with extra cheese and sour cream. It's not okay to be a size XXXXXXXL. Buy less, eat less and move more. Park your goddamn car on the other side of the parking lot. Your bones fucking ache because you have that weight on your body... if you start walking it off and start curbing your hunger pangs... the pounds will leave slowly but surely.

I can't claim that I was ever like Subway Jared, but a year after I picked up a desk job and starting living in a place where I had to drive in my car to get provender instead of walking to the grocery store to pick it up... I gained at least 30-35 pounds. So yeah, I was getting a little plump. Actually, I was becoming convinced that being 'bigger' was just a natural repercussion of growing older (i.e. two things happen as you get older: your dress size gets bigger and you have to pluck more). After all, most of the people my age were putting on the pounds. This was a natural thing... at least out in the burbs... especially after having children.

But I didn't have any children. Yes, I was in a relationship that put me under a lot of stress and my job load put me under some more stress, but I began to realize that I could not use food as a pacifier for my angst. After leaving my ex I decided to change my lifestyle. Move more and eat less. I did go to the gym at least 2x a week. I didn't train for any triathlons because I know my limits, but I did notice that I went from a size 10 to a 6(that's a real size 10 not a 10 that's actually an 12) it took about 6 months, and now I have to watch what I eat a little more carefully now, but I'm happier and healthier. I still eat, and I still cook good food, JUST LESS OF IT.

Of course, if eating is your ONLY pleasure, and you don't mind living a shorter life and paying for a larger coffin then sky's the limit.

Friday, February 06, 2004

What's the big deal?

Some unkind person deposited two boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts in the public area. Thanks!
Donuts celebrate the impulsive nature of the American diet. I'm not really sure what the hype on Krispy Kreme's is about myself. I ate what I thought was a boston creme (my god, I almost spelled it with a 'k'- such is the brainwashing power of branding), and I thought I was eating a chocolate coated sugar shell filled with gilette shaving cream. I thought of that scene in "Pooty Tang" where he wipes the cherry pie all over his chest in order to tempt the backwoods girl. This donut would make a good subsitution for the pie.

I’m starting a make-believe correspondence sparked by one with an actual friend… from my correspondence with her and my reference to the metaphysical ponderings of adolesence, I was inspired to write in a ‘dear diary’ format; however this time I’d like to address a fictitious character named Ms. Magnolia.


2/6/2004
Dear Magnolia,

Thank you... for that post before last. I think I actually felt release. I could live vicariously through your purging. I only wish I could achieve something as fluid, expressive. I suppose my constipation with words comes from my twelve years in parochial school. They were more concerned with mechanics and how things looked. Self expression was not so much frowned upon; I'd say it was looked upon with mistrust. At least I wasn't born a Baptist (southern-fried). I'd rather have been raised by a pack of rabid badgers.

I read Emmanuel Kant only because his writings were part of the course curriculum during my undergrad. I can understand his point... he wanted to sum up morality, but that sounds like something that one would do out loud with one's friends during a slumber party on your fifteenth birthday. It sort of falls in line with questions… like, “What would you do if you were the only person on the planet.”

When I was that young the biggest wish I had was to be adored by all my friends. I think that when we watch reality television it sparks something from those adolescent years... those semi-serious conversations late at night about dying... telling freaky stories and saying bloody-mary into the bathroom mirror. When we watch the Boob-watch babe flashing her wares (my father often got whorehouse and warehouse mixed up), or Vanilla Ice whining like a self-indulgent putz... we're really reliving how retarded we felt in high school but from the safety of a voyeurs standpoint. As I watched Eric Estrada calming the constantly entrenched Ice down I remembered those conversations that we either had or witnessed as teen-agers. "You're past that man..." he tells him, "You're a bigger man that that." I wonder if he realizes that he's just talking to a grown man with a sixteen year old hothead trapped inside. I don't ever want to go back to to those teen years. Watching other adults live and act like teenagers on television is enough for me.

Winning the Lotto? Is that the solution? If I won the lottery, I would bathe in a tub of blue Jello. Wait, I could do that now... if I wanted to. I think buying that lottery ticket gives me a high for about five minutes. I can spend that whole five minutes fantasizing about how worry-free my life would be. That and I would be able to hire a pack of stinky, hairy Gypsies with violins to follow me and play my 'theme' music. The only thing winning a butt-load of money would really solve for me is that I wouldn't have to work at my job. I might feel some freedom for a while, but something inside me (a little fear of mine) tells me that I will always need something or someone above me, behind me, or over me... telling me what to do. I could laugh and say.... I hope at least he has a big dick. Here we return back to the catholic part of the tour - of my head.

Sorry, did I say that? Oops.

I have considered that there is a possibility that I will not be successful in finding work if I didn't have a job. Being minus a job is a definite possibility for the end of this year since it's really up in the air whether my group will still be around. I'm not too broken up over this prospect in a way. On one hand, leaving this company or group might mean I can do something new. On the other hand, I am petrified that I will end up at home watching Christopher Lowell marathons and find myself incapable of getting out of bed until the mid afternoon.

As a result of these obsessions, I've been considering lately that living in fear- fear of losing one's means of subsistence, fear that I will never amount to anything as a writer- is no way to live. I've lived in fear of a lot of things- of being alone, of not being appreciated, of being thought of as incompetent. Most of the energy I devoted to this habit of worrying has amounted to nothing. It's left me with nothing except delays.

I did and still do spend a lot of time obsessing over how I am not like 'normal' people... and unfortunately, I've been using the seemingly successful folks at my work as my yardstick for what's 'normal.' I hope this made you laugh. I've finally come to the conclusion that if they are what's NORMAL I would happily run off to join a circus freakshow... with glee.

While I shouldn't burn any bridges my current field of work (though pyromania runs in my family... my father was always lighting fires... in the yard, in the house- in the fireplace most of the time, on camping trips,) I feel strangely empowered and assured knowing that I am unlike many of these people here. Ha-ha!

Yours,

Imogene